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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64



The Pacific Ocean was discovered and formally taken possession of for Spain by Vasco Nunez de Balboa, in the year 1513. Crossing the American isthmus, he was the first European who gazed upon it. Descending, he stepped into its waters, and with drawn sword, and in full armour, took possession for his sovereign of all lands and islands the ocean might contain, even unto the Poles. In 1520, Magellan, a Portugese, in the Victory, passing through the straits which now bear his name, was the first to sail I across the Pacific (so called by him from the tranquility of his voyage I through it, in comparison with the stormy sea he had encountered at and near the straits). Magellan discovered the Ladrone and Philippine Islands. page 61 Alvaro de Mendana discovered and took possession of the Solomon Islands for Spain. He also discovered the Marquesas and Santa Cruz, which he attempted ineffectually to colonize, and where he died.

The Dutch are represented by Tasman, who, in 1643, discovered the Friendly Islands and Fiji; also by Commodore Roggewein, who, in 1772, named Easter Island, that curious speck of isolated land upon which stand colossal stone images of men. Sailing thence to the East Indies, the Commodore touched upon Samoa, New Britain, and New Guinea.

England, however, mainly achieved the exploration of the Pacific. Many expeditions were fitted out by the British Government during the reign of George III., although I must not pass over in silence the voyages of English navigators of a much earlier period, amongst which stand those of Sir Francis Drake and old Sir Constantine Phipps, first Lord Mulgrave (the founder of the family of his Excellency the Marquis of Normanby, the present Governor of New Zealand), who, in William and Mary's reign, discovered and named the Mulgrave Islands. But of all English navigators in the Pacific, the name of James Cook stands pre-eminent. He discovered New Caledonia (so named from its resemblance to Scotland), Norfolk Island, part of the Society Group, the Sandwich Islands, and many others, He surveyed the New Hebrides, Society, and Friendly Islands; determined the insularity of New Zealand, * explored the then unknown eastern coast of Australia for 2,000 miles, and circumnavigated the globe in a high southern latitude in order to decide the question whether any continent existed north of a certain parallel. Captain Cook performed three voyages. The first expedition left Plymouth in 1768, fitted out for the purpose of observing the transit of the planet Venus at Tahiti. The Society Islands were so named by Cook in honour of the Royal Society, which had induced the Government to fit out the expedition. The second left England in 1772, in order to settle the vexed question of the existence of a southern continent. The third left in 1776 for the purpose of discovering a passage to the Pacific in the direction of Hudson's and Baffin's Bays, or, as Cook preferred, from the Pacific to the Bays. It was at the Sandwich Islands, which he then discovered and named after his patron the Earl of Sandwich, that he met with his death, December, 1778. James Cook was indeed a great navigator and discoverer. The correctness and minuteness of his surveys have won the admiration of the most accomplished seamen who have succeeded him.

Besides Cook, the names of Anson, Byron, Wallis (who, in 1767, discovered and took possession of Tahiti for George III.), Marshall, Gilbert, and other English navigators are indelibly marked on the history of the Pacific.

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France is represented in the Pacific by the names of D'Urville, La Perouse, and D'Entrecasteaux, whose expeditions encountered more than ordinary misfortunes.

The Victory performed the first voyage round the world.

* New Zealand was formerly supposed to be a portion of a great southern continent.