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BougainvilleThe military glory of the French is universally recognized, but their achievements on the sea are less familiar to the English-speaking world. Yet they have had great sea-captains and enterprising navigators, whose careers rival in interest and importance those of the more famous British seamen. Louis Antoine de Bougainville was the first French circumnavigator of the globe. He was also distinguished as a soldier, a mathematician and an author. He was born in Paris, November 13, 1729. He was liberally educated and studied law, but soon abandoned that profession, and entered the army in 1753. His mathematical ability was shown by his publishing a treatise on the integral calculus. When he went to London, two years later, as secretary to the French embassy, his scientific attainments caused him to be chosen a member of the Royal Society.


But war with England was declared, and Bougainville, returning to military duty, was sent to Canada, in 1756, as a captain of dragoons. He became the trusted aide-de-camp or Montcalm, and shared the distinction that gallant general won in the war with the English. In 1758 he obtained the Tank of colonel and the order of St. Louis. His military career in America was cut short by the capture of Quebec, in !759; but he continued in service in the Seven Years' War in Europe until the Peace of I763· Bougainville now turned his attention to maritime enter-prise, and conceived the idea of colonizing the Falkland Islands as a suitable resting-place for ships going to the Southern Ocean. A small colony was planted there at his expense in 1763, and increased by further aid in subsequent years front 27 to 150 persons. But the government of Spain claimed the sovereignty of these dreary islands, and Bougainville was ordered by the French administration to relinquish them, with the assurance that he should be recompensed. This foolish attempt at colonization," says Jules Verne, "was the origin and groundwork of Bougainville's good for. tune." By direction of the French Minister of the Marine, Bougainville was to proceed to the colony and formally deliver it up to the Spaniards. He was also commissioned to sail to the East Indies on a voyage of discovery, and for this expedition received the command of the frigate "La Boudeuse," of twenty-six guns, and the store-ship L' Etoile. The crew of the frigate consisted of 203 sailors, besides officers. Commeron accompanied the expedition as naturalist.


Bougainville sailed from France in December, 1766, arrived at Montevideo January 31, 1767, and at the Falkland Islands in March of that year. Here he waited about two months for the ship L' Etoile," and then sailed to Rio Janeiro, where he remained until the middle of July. Various accidents delayed his voyage, but he passed through the Strait of Magellan in January, 1768, after he had reconnoitered several bays, capes and harbors, and had been detained by " detestable weather" and contrary winds. On the 22d of March he discovered four small islands, to which he gave the name Les Quatres Facardius and on the 2d of April perceived a high and very steep mountain, which he named La Boudeuse. It is the Maitea of modern maps. On the 4th of April, 1768, he arrived at Tahiti, the natives of which treated the French in a very hospitable manner. The Bondeuse" was surrounded by canoes laden with fowls, cocoanuts, and delicious fruits, which were bartered for various tribes. "The canoes," says Bougainville, were full of women, who might vie with most Europeans in pleasant features, and who certain excelled them in beauty of form." In the Month of May he sailed among numerous islands, which he named the" Grand Cyclades," a name which has been superseded by that of New Hebrides.


Bougainville lost sight of the Grand Cyclades on the 29th of May, and continued to sail nearly due west till the 5th of June. He altered his course and sailed northward for three days without seeing land. On the loth of June he entered a large and beautiful gulf, which he named Cul-de-Sac de Porangerie. "I have seldom seen," says he, "'a Country of a fairer aspect. But the melancholy condition to which we were brought did not permit us to visit this magnificent country." He gave the name of Louisiade to this discovery. Many of his crew were disabled by the scurvy, and all were suffering for want of wholesome food. On the 6th of July he cast anchor on the southern coast of New Zealand, which had been discovered by Schouten. Here he remained many days and obtained a supply of water, wood and other necessaries. He coasted along the shore of New Guinea, or Papua, in August, and about the 1st of September arrived at the Moluccas, where the Dutch governor supplied him with provisions. On the 28th of September he reached Batavia, which he pronounced "one of the finest colonies in the world. II After touching at the Isle of France, the Cape of Good Hope, and Ascension Island, he arrived at Saint Malo in March, 1769, baving lost only seven men. He published, in 1777', "Voyage autour du Moude, in which his adventures are narrated in a charming style.


During the American Revolution, Bougainville had a high command in several naval battles between the French and English. In the disastrous sea-fight between Rodney and De Grasse, near Dominica, on April 12, 1782, Bougainville, who led the van, rallied eight ships and brought them to a safe place, after De Grasse had surrendered. After the Peace of '783, BougaiuvilJe returned to Paris, and was made an Associate of the Academy. His project of a voyage of discovery in the Arctic regions received no encouragement from the government. He obtained the rank of Vice Admiral in 1791, and, having escaped almost miraculously from the massacres of Paris, retired to his estate in Normandy. He was elected to the Institute at its formation, in 1796. He became a Senator when the Senate was organized by Napoleon, who made him a member of the Legion of honor, and gave him the title of Count. His honorable career came to an end on the 31st of August, 1814.




The voyagers still pursued a westerly course. and on the morning of the 2d of April, 1768, descried a high and very steep mountain, which they named Le Boudoir or Le Pic de la Bondeuse. As they drew near, they beheld land more to the westward, of which the extent was undefined. They immediately bore down for this; but it was not until the morning of the 4th that they were sufficiently close to hold any communication with the inhabitants. These came off in their skiffs, and presented a small hog and a branch of banana in token of amity; and very soon after, the ships were surrounded with more than one hundred canoes, engaged in a brisk traffic. "The aspect of the coast," says M. de Bougainville, "was very pleasing. The mountains rose to a great height, yet there was no appearance of barrenness, all parts were covered with woods. We could scarcely believe our eyes when we beheld a peak clothed with trees, even to its solitary summit, which rose to the level of the mountains in me interior part of the isle. Its breadth grew gradually less towards tlhe top, and at a distance it might have been taken for some pyramid of a vast height, which the hand of a tasteful decorator had in wreathed with garlands of foliage. As we sailed along the coast, our eyes were struck with the sight of a beautiful cascade, which precipitated itself from the mountain-tops, and threw its foaming waters into the sea. A village was situated at the foot of the waterfall, and there appeared to be no breakers on the shores.


On landing, he was received with mingled demonstrations of joy and curiosity; and the chief of the district forthwith conducted him to his residence. Here: he found several women, who saluted him by laying their hands on their breasts, and repeating several times the word "tayo", which seems to mean Friend.  After having examined the house, the navigator was invited to a repast of fruits, broiled fish, and water, on the grassy turf in front, and he received several presents of cloth and ornaments.


A proposal made by the stranger to erect a camp on shore was received with evident displeasure, and he was informed that though his crew were at liberty to stay on the island during the day, they must retire to their ships at night. On his wishes being further urged, he was asked if he meant to remain forever; to which he answered that he would depart in eighteen days. Au ineffectual attempt was made by the natives to reduce the period to nine; but they at last call scented, and at once resumed their former amicable bearing. The chief set apart a large shed for the accommodation of the sick; the women and children brought anti-scorbutic plants and shells, when they learned that these were prized by the French; and the males gave their cheerful assistance in supplying the vessels with wood and water. Every house was open to the strangers, and the natives vied with each other in excess of hospitality. They welcomed them with songs and feasts, and exhibited their dances and wrestling.matches be· fore them. "Often, as I walked into the interior," says Bougainville, "I thought I was transported into the Garden Of Eden; we crossed grassy plains covered with fair fruit-trees, and watered by small rivulets which diffused a delicious coolness around. Under the shade of the groves lay groups of tile natives, all of whom gave us a friendly salutation; those whom we met in the paths stood aside that we might pass, and everywhere we beheld hospitality, peace, calm, joy, and all signs of happiness."


But this paradise was perfect only in appearance for the possessors of it were such accomplished pilferers, that nothing was safe within their reach. "We were obliged," says he "to take care even of our pockets, for the thieves of Europe are not more adroit than the inhabitants of this country. Murder, too, was soon introduced into this elysium several of the islanders were found slain, and evidently by the arms of the Europeans; though the efforts of the captain were in vain exerted to discover the culprits. The natives shortly after withdrew from the neighborhood of the camp, the houses were abandoned, no canoe was seen on the sea, and the whole island appeared like a desert. The Prince of Nassau, who was sent out with four or five men to search for the people, found a great number of them, with the chief Ereti, about a league distant. The leader approached the prince in great fear; while the women, who were all in tears, threw them· selves on their knees and kissed his hands, weeping, and reapeting several times, "Tayo mate!" You are our friends, yet , on kill us! The prince succeeded in a short time in inspiring them with confidence, and their former intercourse was renewed, even with greater demonstrations of kindness on the part of the savages.


The bad ground, which in nine days cost him six anchors, proved a powerful reason for shortening his stay. When the chief perceived them setting sail, he leaped into the first canoe he could find all shore and rowed to the vessel, where he embraced his visitors, and bade them farewell in tears. He look by the hand an islander who had come off in one of the skiffs, and presented him to the commander, stating that his flame was Aotouron, that he desired to go with him, and begging that his wish might be granted. "Thus," says Bougainville, "we quieted that good people; and I was no less surprised at the sorrow which our departure occasioned to them, than at the affectionate confidence they showed all our arrival." The French navigator testified his sense of the beauty and enchantments of this country by bestowing on it the name of Nouvelle Cythere-an appellation which has been supplanted by the native title of Otaheite now Tahiti.



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