« PreviousContinue »
It was with no ordinary pleasure that the members of the National Geographic Society listened to the critical review and admirable essay on Bering's first expedition, 1725–1730, read before this Society, together with a translation of Bering's report on the expedition in question, by one of our learned and distinguished members, Professor William H. Dall. The subject then under consideration is one of great interest, and this Society owes a debt of gratitude to Professor Dall for his assiduous labor in collating and translating the available data on this voyage, and must indorse the general conclusions reached in a critical essay which is the result of careful, conscientious research conjoined to much erudition. It is especially fortunate, in view of the vagueness of Bering's report, that it should have been translated and reviewed by a traveler and investigator so thoroughly familiar with the topography of Bering strait and the adjacent region.
28-NAT. GEOG. MAG., VOL. III, 1891.
It may appear somewhat presumptuous for the present writer to further dwell on some points of subordinate importance, even with the view of supplementing the investigations of Professor Dall; but he is encouraged to the effort by the admirable spirit in which that gentleman works, which is so clearly indicated in his own words: "I am well aware this paper cannot be regarded as a finality, but as a contribution to the geographical history of North America it will not be without its value." This spirit encourages every one to contribute his mite to elucidate the history of this interesting and ill-known period.
The supplementary remarks now presented mainly relate to two points: first, the cartographic reproduction of Bering's discoveries; second, the alleged observations. of lunar eclipses in Kamshatka by Bering and his lieutenants in 1728-29.
In attempting to add to Professor Dall's essay or to elucidate some points, it is but natural to felicitate one's self that chance has put in one's way rare data in the shape of text and map. Nevertheless, much difficulty has been experienced in efforts to consult publications and charts bearing on this subject, as supplementary to the data in the writer's own library. Fortunately, among his personal books and maps are the following, which have escaped the critical, if not casual, observation of Professor Dall:
1. The original Hague* edition of Père du Halde, which Dall was unable to consult; it is entitled "Description Géographique, Historique, Chronologique, Politique, et Physique de l'Empire et de la Tartarie Chinoise," etc. 4 vols., 4° à la Haye, 1736.
2. De l'Isle's scattered essays, entitled "Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire et au progres de l'Astronomie, de la Géographie, et de la Physique, etc., etc.: à St. Petersbourg, de l'imprimeris de l'Académie des Sciences. MDCCXXXVIII .”
3. "Atlas Russien: contenant une Carte Générale et dix-neuf Cartes particulieres de tout l'Empire de Russie et des Pays limitrophes construites conformément aux règles de la Geographie et aux dernières Observations. Par l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Petersbourg. St. Petersbourg, 1745."
This was the first atlas published in Russia in the map department established by order of Peter the Great in the Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg. It includes a general map of the Russian Empire and nineteen maps of provinces.
*The first edition, in French, was published at Paris, 4 vols., folio, 1735.
4. "Carte de la Sibérie et des Pays voisins. Pour servir a Histoire générale des Voyages par le S. Bellin, Ing. de la Marine," two parts, undated, but to which E. Dufosse, of Paris, assigns the date of 1749. The atlas for this work was originally published by Abbe Prevost at Paris, 1747, et seq., the charts being engraved by Bellin.
This chart appears on casual inspection to be more accurate than either that of d'Anville or of de l'Isle, or of the Russian atlas.
5. The very interesting and valuable map of J. N. de l'Isle, Paris, 1752 (without, however, the accompanying memoir).
I do not think the original map has ever fallen under the notice of Professor Dall, although a garbled reproduction of it is mentioned in his review as follows:
"A chart which deserves notice, though almost wholly fictitious, being chiefly devoted to the spurious discoveries of the alleged Admiral de Fonte, was issued by J. N. de l'Isle with the concurrence of M. P. Bauche or at his suggestion. It appeared at Paris in 1752, and was copied for Jeffery's second edition of voyages from Asia to America in 1764. I do not know if this copy appeared in the first edition, but presume it did.”
As the original of de l'Isle's chart (1752) is here exhibited tonight, it is evident that Jeffery was careless, and that the map, which I infer Dall has never seen, is really more valuable than is set forth in his address; otherwise so critical an observer as Dall would not have said: "I suspect this (referring to d'Anville's map of 1753, with Bering island thereon) is the first publication of a cartographic kind on which Bering island is laid down, as the map of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, embodying the geographical results of Bering's voyage to the coast of America, was not engraved until a year later, while de l'Isle's of 1752 does not contain them." You will see that this is an error, for the "I (sle) de Beering " is plainly inscribed on the map. (This map has been reproduced by photolithography and forms the accompanying plate 21.)
Dall further describes the copy of this map in the following
"Connected with America and north of the Chukchi peninsula is land with an island off it corresponding not badly to Wrangell and Herald islands and marked 'Discovered in 1722.' It is possible that this land is a hypothetical compound of the land reported by the Chukchis east of the strait with that which they knew to be visible in clear weather from Cape Yakan, more or less confused accounts of which had long been current among persons interested in these regions."
The legend on the original chart indicates that Dall's surmise is correct, for the copy is not only abbreviated, but is in error as to date. On the original it runs: Grande Terre découverte en 1723 au s'enfeuit ies Tzutzy l'orsqu'ils sont poursuivis par les Russes que ne les ont pas encore soumis."
There is another important legend on a very large imaginary island about five degrees of longitude to the east of Bering island. On the northern side of this land the text runs thus: "Terres dont le Capitaine Beering's à en des indices dans son premier voyages en 1728." On the southern edge is the legend: "Cotes vues par Mrs. Tchirikow et de l'Isle en Septembre 1741." Immediately south of the land are two route tracks, with these legends: "Route du Kamtschatka a l'Amerique par le Capitaine Tchirikow et Mr. de l'Isle de la Croyere en Juin et Juillet, 1741," "Retour de l'Amerique au Kamtschatka en Aout et Septembre 1741." The latter route track touches an indentation in the southwestern coast, as though the vessel had entered the bay, which has five mountains in the background.
The legend-" Terres vues par les Russes en 1741 ou le Captaine Tehirikow perdit sa Chaloupe armée de 10 hommes "-is likewise of interest, as controverting the statement that "De l'Isle's (chart) of 1752 does not contain * *the geographical results of Bering's voyage to the coast of America." It embodies a large part, but not all, of the discoveries.
6. Buache's memoir and maps entitled: "Considerations geographiques et physiques sur les Nouvelles Decouvertes au Nord de la Grande Mer, appellee vulgairement la Mer du Sud; avec des Cartes qui y sont relatives. Par Philippe Buache, Premier Geographe," etc. A Paris M.DCC.LIII , 4°, 158 pp. With my copy there is a separate pamphlet, consisting of 13 maps, folio, with a preface and index, quarto. The preface (4°, two leaves unpaged) is entitled: "Exposé des Découvertes au Nord de la Grande Mer, etc., etc. Presenté au Roy le 2. Septembre 1753, par Philippe Buache, etc." The index (4°, 4 pp.) runs: "Liste des Cartes concernant les Nouvelles Découvertes au Nord de la Grande Mer, &c. Par Philippe Buache, &c. Janvier, 1755."
These thirteen maps are very interesting. The first and second charts bear particularly on the subject of this paper. The first is entitled: "Carte des Nouvelles Découvertes entre la partie Orient❜le de l'Asie et l'Occid'le de l'Amerique avec des Vues sur la Gr'de Terre reconnue par les Russes en 1741 &c., &c. Dressée
par Philippe Buache. Presentée a l'Acad. des Sciences le 9. Aout 1752 et approuvée dans son Assemblée du 6 Septembre suivant." This map, somewhat fuller in details than that of de l'Isle, shows: "Découvertes des Russes depuis 20 ans." There are route tracks of the first expedition marked: "Route des Russes au N.E. et au N. en 1728 et 1731," and "Retour en 1731." Two route tracks of the later voyage have the legends: "Route de Kamtchatka a l'Amerique en 1741. Retour des Russes au Kamtchatka." Other legends are as follows: "Isle Beering; "Detroit du Nord" (Bering strait); "Terre déc. en 1723 par les Russes, ou Isle dont le P. Avril a parle" (large land near Wrangell island); "Terres reconnues par les Russes" (American coast in latitude 56 N.); “Côtes vues par les Russes en 1741; Port ou les Russes ont aborde" (fictitious and extensive land east of Bering island, on which are also the following: "Puchochotskes selon Strahlenberg," and "Terre habitée, ou Presqu' Isle, que je suppose joindre les découvertes des Russes avec celles de l'Am'l de Fonte").
The second map, "Carte des Découv'tes de l'Am'al de Fonte avec les Terres vues et reconnues par les Russes, par Philippe Buache," has other pertinent and interesting legends. In Bering strait appears: "Beering a trouvé au N. et a l'E. de ce parage que la Mer y etoit libre," and immediately eastward on the American coast below the parallel of the arctic circle: "Terre découv. en 1731, et ou les Russes ont rencontré un home qui s'est dit habitant d'un gr'd Continent." On the American coast from 55° to 57° north latitude: "Terres déc. en Juill., 1741, et où les Russes ont laisse 10 homes qu'ils n'ont pu rejoindre.” Over" Terre habitée," a large land just east of Bering island: "Le Capitaine Beering a trouvé dans ce parage de 50 à 60 deg. les Indices d'une Côte et une gr. Riv. ou il a envoye quelqu's homes qui ne sont revenus."
It is evident that these maps must have been actually published as early as September 2, 1753, the date on which was presented the "Exposé des Découvertes, etc., au Roy," but the charts give no further indication than the legend: "Publiée sous le privilege de l'Acad. R'le. des Sc. du 6 Sept'bre, 1752: à Paris." The actual date of issue may or may not have been earlier than the map of de l'Isle of September 9, 1752.
7. (Possibly most important of all) a letter of an officer of the Russian Navy. This appeared first in Russian, presumably