« PreviousContinue »
RETURN OF BODEGA.
distance to be able to make any useful observations, except as to the
In this expedition, the commander, Heceta, certainly acquired no laurels, though he effected, at least, one discovery, from which a nation more enterprising and powerful than Spain might have derived important advantages. Bodega and Maurelle, however, nobly vindicated the character of their countrymen, by their constancy and perseverance in advancing through unknown seas, at a stormy period of the year, in their small and miserably-equipped vessel, with a diminished crew, the greater part of whom were laboring under that most debilitating and disheartening of diseases, the scurvy. Fortunately for their reputation, a copy of Maurelle's journal escaped from its prison-house in the archives of the Indies at Madrid, and was given to the world, in an English version, before the appearance of any other authentic account of the parts of the world which they had explored ; and, by this means, together with the publication of their chart about the same time, their claims as discoverers were estab
lished beyond all cavil. Thus, without reference to the voyage of Perez, it is conclusively proved that the Spaniards, in 1775, examined with minuteness the whole western shore of the American continent, from Monterey, near the 37th degree of latitude, northward, to and beyond the 48th degree, and determined the general direction of the west coasts of the westernmost islands, bordering the continent between the 48th parallel and the 58th. Of these coasts, the portion south of the 43d degree of latitude had been seen by Ferrelo, in 1543, and possibly by Drake, in 1578; Juan de Fuca had probably sailed along them to the 53d parallel, in 1592: and the Russians, as will be hereafter shown, had discovered the part near the 56th parallel, in 1741: but no definite information had been obtained, respecting any point, on the Pacific side of America, between Cape Mendocino and Mount San Jacinto, previous to the expedition of Perez. The geographical positions of the places visited by the Spanish navigators in 1774 and 1775, were, indeed, left very uncertain as regards their longitudes, though the latitudes have been found nearly correct; yet the great question as to the extension of North America towards the west was approximately answered, and useful hints were afforded for the organization and conduct of future voyages.
The results of this expedition were considered, by the Spanish government, as highly important; a short notice of them was published in the official gazette, at Madrid, which was copied, with many additions, (nearly all of them erroneous) into the London newspapers ; * and orders were sent to the viceroy of Mexico, to
* “Several Spanish frigates having been sent from Acapulco to make discoveries, and to propagate the gospel among the Indians, to the north of California, in the month of July, 1774, they navigated as high up on the coast as the latitude of 58 degrees 20 minutes, six degrees above Cape Blanco Having discovered several good harbors and navigable rivers upon the west coast of this great continent, they established, in one of the largest ports, a garrison, and called the port the Presidio de San Carlos, and, besides, left a mission at every port where the inhabitants were to be found. The Indians they here met with are said to be a very docile sort of people, agreeable in their countenance, honest in their traffic, and neat in their dress, but, at the same time, idolaters to the greatest degree, having never before had any intercourse with Europeans. M. Bucarelli, the viceroy of New Spain, has received his Catholic majesty's thanks for these discoveries, as they were made under his direction; and the several navy officers upon that voyage have been preferred. It is imagined that those new discoveries will be very advantageous, as the coast abounds with whales, as also a fish, equal to the Newfoundland cod, known, in Spain, by the name of Baccalao."
The above notice appears in the London Annual Register for 1776, under date of June 28th, which was a few days before the departure of Captain Cook from England for the North Pacific.
VOYAGE OF ARTEAGA AND BODEGA.
have the discovery of the west coasts of America completed without delay, under the care of the same officers who had already effected so much for that object. With this view, the viceroy, Bucareli, ordered a large ship to be built at San Blas, and another was, at the same time, constructed at Guayaquil, in Quito. In these preparations, nearly three years were consumed, so that the vessels were not ready for the expedition until the beginning of 1779; they then quitted San Blas, under the command of Captain Ignacio Arteaga, who sailed in the larger ship, the Princesa, the other, called the Favorita, being commanded by Bodega, with Maurelle as second officer. Heceta had been transferred to new duties.
Of this voyage a short notice will suffice, as all the places discovered in the course of it had been visited, and minutely examined, in the preceding year, 1778, by the English, under Captain James Cook.*
On the 7th of February, 1779, Arteaga and Bodega sailed from San Blas directly for Port Bucareli, which they entered after a voyage of four months; and there they remained nearly two months, engaged in surveying the bay, in refitting their vessels, and in trading with the natives, of whom very minute and interesting accounts are given in the journals of this voyage. From Port Bucareli they sailed northward, on the 1st of July, and in a few days saw the land stretching before them from north-east to northwest: on approaching it, they beheld rising from the coast a great mountain, “higher than Orizaba,” which was, no doubt, Mount St. Elias ; and they began their search, west of these places, for a passage leading northwards into the Arctic Sea, as laid down in the charts of Bellin, which they carried with them. In the course of this search, they entered a great bay, containing many islands, on the western side of the largest of which, called by them Isla de la Magdalena, they found a good harbor, where they cast anchor on the 25th, and took possession of the whole region for the king of Spain. From this harbor, named by the Spaniards Port Santiago, parties were sent out in boats to explore the coasts; but the com
The papers relative to this voyage, which have been obtained, in manuscript, from the hydrographical department at Madrid, are — the official account of the whole expedition - and the journals of Bodega and Maurelle - accompanied by several tables of the navigation, and vocabularies of Indian languages, and the chart of the coast about Prince William's Sound, which is utterly worthless. A translation of a part of Maurelle's journal may be found in the first volume of the narrative of the expedition of La Perouse, accompanied by some severe, and not altogether just, reflections on the conduct of the Spanish navigators in general.
mander, Arteaga, becoming anxious to return to Mexico, soon found, that the men were beginning to suffer from scurvy, that the provisions were failing, and that there was no probability of their discovering any passage, through which they might penetrate farther north; and he, in consequence, resolved that both vessels should immediately proceed to Monterey. They accordingly sailed from Port Santiago on the 7th of August; on the 15th of October they entered Port San Francisco, and on the 21st of November they arrived at San Blas, “where,” says Fleurieu, with more justice than usually characterizes his remarks on Spanish voyages, “they might have passed the whole time which they spent in their expedition, without our knowledge in geography having sustained any loss by their inaction.” The voyage was, in fact, productive of no benefit whatsoever, and the Spanish government should have been mortified at its results; instead of which, however, the officers engaged in it were all promoted, for their good conduct and exertions.
Of the places visited by Arteaga and Bodega, after leaving Port Bucareli, the great bay, called by them Enseñada de Regla, is now generally known by the name of Prince William's Sound, and their Isla de la Magdalena is the Montague's Island of the English maps. It is needless to mention any other of the many appellations given by the Spaniards to capes, bays, islands, and mountains, in that part of America, as they have fallen into disuse.
In 1779, Spain became involved in war with Great Britain, and her flag did not again appear on the coasts north of Cape Mendocino until 1788. Before relating the events which occurred in that interval, it will be proper to present an account of the discoveries effected in the North Pacific, since the commencement of the century, by the Russians occupying the north-eastern extremity of Asia.
1711 to 1779.
Discoveries of the Russians from Kamtchatka – Voyages of Bering and Tchirikof to
the Arctic Sea and to the American Continent- Establishments of the Russian Fur Traders in the Aleutian Islands — Voyages of Synd, Krenitzin, and Levashef - First Voyage from Kamtchatka to China, made by Polish Exiles under Benyowsky - General Inaccuracy of the Ideas of the Russians respecting the Geography of the northernmost Coasts of the Pacific, before 1779.
Ar the beginning of the eighteenth century, the coasts of Asia on the Pacific, north of the 40th parallel of latitude, were as little known as those of America on the opposite side of the ocean.
In 1643, Martin Geritzin de Vries and Hendrick Schaep, two Dutch navigators, commanding the ships Kastrikom and Breskens, explored the seas near Japan, as far north as the 48th degree of latitude, and probably entered the great gulf, called the Sea of Ochotsk, between the main land of Asia on the west, and Kamtchatka and the Kurile chain of islands on the east. It is also related, that Thomas Peche, an English bucanier, sailed along the same coasts in 1673, while in search of the Strait of Anian, the entrance of which he was said to have found north of Japan, though he was unable to pass through it, on account of the violence of the winds from the north.
From such imperfect accounts the maps of that part of the world were generally constructed, before 1750. In those maps, Jesso, the northernmost of the Japan Islands, appears as part of the Asiatic continent, and Kamtchatka and the Kurile Islands are represented as one extensive territory, under the name of the Company's Land, united to America on the east, and separated from Jesso on the west, by a narrow passage called the Strait of Vries, or the Strait of Anian.
In 1711, the whole of Northern Asia had been completely subjugated by the Russians, to whom the rich furs * abounding in those
See the article on Furs and the Fur Trade, among the Proofs and Illustrations at the concluding part of this volume, under the letter B.