« ForrigeFortsæt »
have searched all the neighbouring islands, to ascertain the fate of the small vessel and her crew, if perchance any of them might still exist, but without success.
Such is the statement of Mr. Russell, which, although very concise, in the absence of the official report, which will be sent to the Indian Government, so that some time must elapse before it reaches Europe, is very interesting and important.
The above-mentioned arms are those of M. de Colignon, botanist on board la Boussole ; and as the crew of the ship which went down in deep water all perished, we may conclude that every article also went down with her: we may also take it for proven, that it was the Boussole, commanded by M. la Perouse himself, which was thrown on the ridge, as M. Colignon was attached to that ship.
A very mutilated and misprinted statement having appeared in the newspapers and in some of our contemporaries, we made application to Sir W. Betham, who has supplied us with the foregoing corrected statement.
But in order to put the point in a clear light, and shew that the fate of the intrepid and enterprizing la Perouse is at last, after the mystery and conjecture of forty years, no longer uncertain, we made a drawing of the arms, as described by Mr. Russell. On referring to a standard work of French heraldry,* we discovered that these were the arms of Colignon; and we also found, by consulting the published account of this unfortunate expedition, that Colignon was, as we have observed, the name of the naturalist in the Boussole. These facts afford conclusive evidence that the vessels whose wrecks have been traced could be no other than M. de la Pérouse's ships; and the crescent or in the base of the shield, the sign of affiliation, indicates that M. Colignon was a second son or branch of the noble family of that name. Our contemporaries in Paris will, no doubt, make further inquiries into this matter, which has so long excited the curiosity, and engaged the sympathy of Europe.
* Mercure Armorial, folio, Paris, 17th century:
A French gentleman, M. A. Hapdé, chevalier of the legion of honour, who has published a pamphlet on the subject of this voyage, has however intimated to me his opinion that the arms in question actually belonged to Captain de Langle, the commander of the Astrolabe, who was murdered at the Navigator's Islands.
Prior to my setting out for Paris with the relics, I read the following account of la Pérouse's expedition, which appeared first in a Paris
paper of the 12th January, and was afterwards copied into the London Morning Chroni. cle of the 15th of that month,
Extract from the Morning Chronicle. La Pérouse.—Captain Dumont d'Urville, commanding the Astrolabe, who was sent to look after the remains of the expedition under Pérouse, appears to have found out the spot where he was shipwrecked. It was on the south coast of the island of Vanekoro, and not Malicolo, that both ships were lost on the rocks, during a very dark night. The natives, questioned by an interpreter, declared that they saw an immense boat among the rocks, which was soon demolished, and swallowed up by the waves. About thirty of the people on board her escaped in the boat, and reached the island.
On the following day they saw another large vessel, similar to the one they had seen the day before, sink on a regular shore, where the water was sixteen or eighteen feet deep. She remained a long time without being destroyed. All those who were on board her landed, and joining the first comers, built a small vessel out of the wreck of the one which had gone on the rocks. After six or seven months' labour, they left the island, according to the opinion most generally entertained. The precise spot of the shipwreck was not, however, pointed out by the natives. The present of a piece of new cloth made them favourably disposed, and then they pointed out a place, where, at the depth of three or four fathoms, anchors, guns, balls, and an immense quantity of pig and sheet lead, were discernible. The boat of the Astrolabe succeeded in weighing an anchor of eighteen cwt., a short gun, an eight-pounder, a pig of lead, and two brass swivels. Certain, from these memorials, that this was the spot where la Pérouse was wrecked, M. d'Urville caused a monument to be erected, with this inscription—" To the memory of la Pérouse and his Companions ; the Astrolabe, March 4, 1828." A detachment of ten men marche round the mausoleum three times, and fired three rounds of musketry, while the ship fired a salute of 21 guns. After paying these pious honours to the manes of their illustrious countrymen, the crew of the Astrolabe, almost all ill, having escaped by a miracle the most dreadful danger, succeeded in reaching the Marianne Islands, where they were well received by the Spanish Governor, Don Jose Medinilla. They were at Amboyna July 18, 1828; on August 28, at Batavia ; and on September 29, at the island of St. Maurice, whence the Astrolabe will return to Toulon, as soon as the crew has had that repose which is necessary after so many glorious toils.
I was surprised and grieved at the tenour of this communication, from which it certainly appeared that M. d'Urville was to be held up as
the first discoverer of la Pérouse's fate, and of the evidences of the place of his shipwreck, and that no share in the credit of these “glorious toils” was to be allowed to myself or to the Government of India, whose successful exertions, and my previous visit to the same spot, and discovery of still more conclusive proofs, were thus entirely passed over.
But what had chiefly contributed to confirm me in the impression under which the above letter was written, was my knowledge of the efforts that had been made by those at Van Diemen's Land, who were envious of the fame I had acquired, to create a belief that the accounts I had given of la Pérouse's island were a fiction.
The consequence was, that I retorted on Captain d'Urville as the supposed author of the paragraph, who I then understood was at Toulon.
I have subsequently learnt, however, that Captain d'Urville had not yet returned to France, and was ignorant of the newspaper account in question. That, so far from endeavouring by such paragraphs to assume for himself the sole credit of the discovery at my expense, he had in all his correspondence with the minister of Marine candidly acknowledged my services, and my having been at Mannicolo six months prior to himself; and that, in consequence of this favourable opinion of my exertions, he had even, in compliment, named a cape on his chart after me.
As such courtesy on his part merited a different return from me than that which the course pursued by the newspaper paragraph had unfortunately called forth, I gladly embrace this opportunity of doing justice to this enterprising navigator, whose labours have been the means of adducing the strongest corroborative proofs of the truth my discovery of the actual fate of la Pérouse: