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to." Mr. Marcus Baker, in a paper appended to Dall's account, makes it evident that such eclipses, if any, were those of February 25 (local calendar), 1728, or February 24, 1729.
My own investigations confirm the statements of Middendorf, and in support of this I refer to de l'Isle and to the author of the "Letter." In this connection, however, we have the clear and definite statements of de l'Isle, both in his essays of 1738 at St. Petersburg and his memoir of 1752 at Paris. These statements are fully confirmed by the evidence of the Russian marine officer, who certainly served with Bering in his later expeditions if not in the first, and whose familiarity with all the records and papers should have enabled him definitely to contradict de l'Isle on the main question instead of correcting him in details. In his St. Petersburg memoirs of 1738 (page 10) de l'Isle writes:
"On verra a cette occasion la situation du Kamtchatka de terminée par deux eclipses de Lune, que M. le Capitaine Bering & ses gens y sont observées dans leur premier voyage [the expedition 1725-'30], & dont j'ai rendu compte a l'Academie aussi-tot que ces observations m'ont ete communiquées."
In the paper of Paris, 1752 ("Nouvelles découvertes au Nord de la Mer du Sud ") de l'Isle says on this point:
Captain Beering and his lieutenant likewise took observations at Kamschatka of two eclipses of the moon in the years 1728 and 1729, which helped me to chart the longitude of that eastern extremity of Asia with all the precision which the nature of these observations, made by seamen and with their own instruments, would admit of; but these first determinations have been since confirmed by observations on Jupiter's satellites, taken in that place with the utmost accuracy by my brother and some Russians conversant in this kind of observations and who were provided with the best of instruments."
It appeared to me possible that the report on the eclipses of the moon made by de l'Isle to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences might be traced up among the archives of that society. In searching for information on this point it was learned from Mr. O. Fassig, librarian of the Signal Office, that among the unpublished manuscripts in the Pulkova library, St. Petersburg, were a number by de l'Isle. A list of the manuscripts of M. de l'Isle was compiled and published in 1844 by the distinguished astronometer O. Struve, and among the number is one entitled: "Observations pour la longitude du Kamchat, d'ou se conclut aussi de Tobolsk. 1729, MSS."
Bering's Eclipse Observations.
It was reasonable, in view of de l'Isle's statements in 1738, to suppose that this is the report made to the Academy by him as soon as the observations were furnished him. I had hoped to present with this sketch definite information on this point, since a kinsman of the collator of the manuscripts (I refer to the very distinguished representative of Russia to the United States, M. de Struve) most courteously offered his valuable mediation in the matter. Unfortunately, I have as yet no further information, but I expect a communication as to the contents of the MSS. at an early day.
Criticising the memoir of de l'Isle of 1752, the Russian officer ridicules the author for speaking of Kamshatka as a town, but he adds:*
"It is certain likewise that M. Bering and his lieutenant, M. Tschirikow [quoting from de l'Isles Memoir of 1752], had, in the years 1728 and 1729, observed at Kamschatka two eclipses of the moon; but that by these observations M. de l'Isle was enabled to determine the longitude of this most eastern part of Asia, with such precision that the same had been confirmed in the second expedition, by precise observations of the satellites of Jupiter is what I cannot well conceive. Mr. de l'Isle himself intimates that Messieurs Bering and Tschirikow were not provided with astronomical instruments. They observed both these eclipses by the help, not of pendulums, but of their watches, without being able to know whether they went right or wrong; which makes it almost incredible that a determination based on these two eclipses should exactly agree with that deduced from the observations of Jupiter's satellites."
The officer, from his own account, served with Bering. In the introduction to "Une Lettre" he says:
"The orders of your Excellency [to whom the letter was addressed as written by his orders] will be complied with by me with more than one inspiring motive, and I shall not dwell on my unfitness, although I could find excellent pretexts for such an excuse, inasmuch as many of greater experience and equal application participated with me in the discoveries which resulted from the two voyages, called by us the Kamtschatkan expeditions. The only grounds on which preference could be shown me over them arise from my being charged, after my return from America, with the comparison of the journals of the various vessels together and with whatever was elsewhere to be found relative to lands situated in the South Sea, in order to therefrom construct a map which should accurately represent them all.”
*"Une Lettre," Berlin, p. 19.
30-NAT. GEOG. MAG., VOL. III, 1891.
This officer, then, should be the very best authority on this question, especially as he gives details, is always exact in his dates, and sets no value on the observations. Whether or not such observations of lunar eclipses took place, these extracts tend to confirm Dall's opinion that they served no purpose in determining the longitude of Kamshatka.
The letter and its author are worth some attention at our hands. As has been said, it was published anonymously, and I do not know that its authorship has ever been traced. It appears from the letter that the writer was an officer of the Russian navy; that he was a Russian; that he was on familiar terms with both Bering and de l'Isle; that he acted as interpreter between them in 1730-1731; that he was with Bering in his last voyage to America, and was one of the ship-wrecked mariners on Bering island, and that on his return to St. Petersburg he was charged with the compilations from the various ship journals. As the naval officer states he was with Bering on Bering island, it is evident that it must have been either Swen Waxel, Sophron Chitrow, or Steller, the well-known scientific professor serving with Bering's expedition. It could not have been Steller, since the professor was a German, and moreover he died in November, 1746, prior to the date of the letter. It is improbable that it was Chitrow, who was originally in a subordinate position as a masterof-fleet, but while serving in Kamshatka and prior to Bering's second voyage was made a lieutenant. It is not likely that a subordinate of Chitrow's position should have been so situated in St. Petersburg as to have served as an interpreter between Bering and de l'Isle. It is therefore more than probable that Lieutenant Swen Waxel was the author of the letter. In further confirmation, this officer says that he is charged with the preparation of a chart out of the material furnished by the maps and journals of the separate vessels. As we know from other sources, Waxel later made a chart of the Kamschatka region.
Waxel displayed great energy and excellent judgment in conducting affairs on Bering island, both before and after Bering's death, and it is gratifying to note his intellectual discrimination. in dealing with de l'Isle's fictitious account of a journey in America said to have been made by one Admiral de Fonte. Waxel skilfully dissects this geographical invention, clearly proving its inconsistencies, while geographical writers in England were engaged years later in endeavoring to prove its truthfulness.
Itinerary of the Russian Officer (Waxel).
It is significant that although Waxel omits any reference to it, the following paragraph, which is evidently intended to be exculpatory of Bering's turning back at the most northerly point of his first voyage, forms part of Bering's report as translated by Dall: "Neither from the Chukchi coast nor to the eastward could any extension of the land be observed." This very important sentence does not appear in du Halde's account, and evidently was not in the copy which was furnished him. Possibly the person who furnished the copy to du Halde omitted it. Elsewhere Waxel adds:
"I say nothing here which I have not repeatedly heard M. Bering say. I also saw his instructions."
This gives value to his statements in reference to Bering's efforts to find land east of Avatscha bay, whereof Waxel quotes de l'Isle as saying:
"On his return to Kamtschatka (in 1729) M. Bering learned that there was a land to the east, which could be seen in clear, fine weather. He attempted to go thither, after having repaired the damage his vessel had suffered in a storm. The second attempt was fruitless, for after sailing about forty leagues to the east without seeing land, he was assailed by a violent tempest and a contrary wind, which quickly drove him back to the port whence he had emerged."
In criticism. Waxel adds:
Would not this narrative lead one to believe that the second attempt of M. Bering had been made immediately after the first voyage [in 1729]? However, it was entirely otherwise: Before making this journey M. Bering wintered at Kamtschatka, set sail only on June 5, 1729, and, without intending to return to the port which he was quitting, doubled the southern point of Kamtschatka and went straight to the mouth of the river Bolschaia-Reka and thence to Ochozk."
He further says:
"Perhaps it may appear strange that M. Bering during this voyage did not fall in with the island (Bering island) whereon he was shipwrecked during his second expedition; but the isle might have been hidden by fogs, which are very common in that sea."
Waxel's account of the second voyage is worth translating, being the plain tale of a participant, who is as modest as he is truthful, for Waxel nowhere mentions his own name nor the
efficient service he rendered first to his chief and later to his shipwrecked comrades. He writes in "Une Lettre " as follows:
'Let us now come to the details of the second expedition, which M. de l'Isle pretends owes its origin to a map of his and was undertaken according to a memoir made by himself. I had the honor,' he says, 'in 1731 to present this chart to the Empress Anne and to the Senate, in order to stimulate the Russians to explorations of what still remained to be discovered, and it had its effect.' Was it time or age which caused M. de l'Isle to commit this error? Could he have forgotten the orders which led him to make the chart in question? Had he remembered it, perhaps he would not have said that he presented the chart to the Empress, and still less that he made it in order to excite the Russians to new discoveries. At that time I visited M. de l'Isle; I was a witness of his geographical labors, as far as they had new discoveries for their object; I acted as interpreter to M. Bering in the conversations which he had with him; and I can assert positively that when M. de l'Isle began that chart the second expedition was already ordered, and Captain Bering, knowing what was still wanting to his discoveries, offered to continue them and his lieutenants with him; and they each received promotion in consequence.
"It is therefore true that M. de l'Isle's work must be attributed to the orders of his superiors; and I remember that the Empress Anne having commissioned her secretary to give the necessary instructions to M. Bering for his new voyage, the latter did not think he could carry it on successfully without getting from the Academy all the information possible concerning the countries and waters where he was to navigate. The Academy was therefore called upon by the Senate, and it ordered M. de l'Isle to compile the chart of which I speak, and in order that it might be better understood, to explain it in a memoir; which having been done, the chart and the memoir were presented to the Senate by the Academy; so that there can be no possible doubt that, so far from having stimulated the Russians to new discoveries, so far from having occasioned the new voyage of M. Bering, M. de l'Isle only worked according to the orders he had received. There arises another question, as to whether the memoir caused the success of the expedition, which I will treat later on. However that may be, the Senate gave a copy of it to M. Bering as well as of the chart. I took a second copy, which enables me to compare it with what M. de l'Isle tells us about it in his last memoir from Paris.
"He pretends to have proposed three different routes to be followed in order to discover what was still unknown. The first, to sail straight to Japan, pass Yeco, or rather the straits which separate it from the island of the States and the land of the Company, to discover what is to the north of Yeco and search for the passage between that country and the coast of eastern Tartary. This is what is called giving advice after the event. In the original memoir there is not a word said about any such researches. M. de l'Isle contents himself with proposing three different routes for finding the countries lying near to Kamshatka on the east.