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Historical Records of New Zealand

Captain Vancouver to Lord Grenville.* — Discovery, Fals [False] Bay, Cape of Good Hope

Captain Vancouver to Lord Grenville.*
Discovery, Fals [False] Bay, Cape of Good Hope,

August, ye 9th, 1791.

My Lord,—

Since receiving my instructions at Falmouth for the prosecution of our voyage I have much regreted not being fortunate enough in a farther interview with your Lordship to have gained your final opinion respecting the examination of that extent of coast of the S.W. side of New Holland, which in the present age appears a real blot in geography, particularly when we reflect on the many vessels that in this improved age of navigation have passed the meridians; we have every reason to suppose it occupies not more than 150 leagues to the south of it without endeavouring to bring home any farther information respecting that extensive country. And as it is my wish as well as my ambition through the course of this voyage that the whole of our time should be usefully occupied in acquiring every knowledge of the distant regions we are to visit, and on considering that Captain Cook’s chart of the Sandwich Islands has left me but a small field to occupie two winters in their farther examination, therefore, as the depth of winter in this hemisphere is passed over and the spring fast advancing, and likewise as when I had the honour of communicating my wishes to prosecute such an examination your Lordship seemed highly to approve of the idea, it is my intention to fall in with the S.W. Cape of New Holland, and should I find the shores capable of being navigated without much hazard, to range its coast and determine whether it and Van Diemen’s Land are joined, which from all information at present extant page 133 appears somewhat doubtfull. I should be exceeding sorry to loose this opportunity of throwing some light on the above subject, having sufficient time to do it and reach the Sandwich Islands, refresh, &c., &c., prior to proceeding on the American coast agreeable to my instructions.

I shall, however, prosecute this designe with the utmost caution, and should I find it attended with intricacy and danger, ever having the object of our voyage in view, abandon it and proceed into the Pacific Ocean.

I have taken this liberty of informing you of my intentions, judging it not unlikely that an opportunity may shortly offer of informing your Lordship how far I have been able to put them in execution. And have only to beg a few moments intrusion farther on your leisure to say—Mr. Menzies having applied to me for some spirits fcr the preservation of the different natural curiosities he may fall in with, I have thought proper to add to the bill some breeding sheep, garden seeds, &c., &c., which I intend as presents to the different chiefs of the Sandwich Islands. I shall likewise, as there are plenty of goats at Otaheite, which lays on my route to the northward from thence, procure a stock of those animals for the Sandwich Islands. The amount of the things purchased here being about 334 rix dollars, I have taken the liberty of drawing on the Treasury; for which with a letter of advice have transmitted them attested vouchers, and your Lordship’s giving directions for the same to be paid will oblige him who has the honour to be, &c.,

Geo. Vancouver.

* Captain Vancouver was not yet aware that Lord Grenville’s seat at the Home Office had been taken by the Right Hon. Henry Dundas.