Extract from the Papers of Joseph Banks

Arrived at Cadiz, 21st September, 1794: Captains Malaspina and Bustamante, and Galeano and St. Cevallos, commanders of the corvettes Descuvierta and Atrevida, and the galera Sutil. These vessels were built at the Carraccas, purposely for discoveries for the improvement of knowledge, and especially navigation, and sailed from Cadiz, 30th July, 1789. They have constructed charts and descriptions of the coasts of America and the adjacent islands, from the River of Plate to Cape Horne on one side, and from that cape on the other to the extremity of North America. On the N.W. coast of America, in 59°, 60°, and 61° latitude, they sought in vain for the strait alleged to have been discovered by the Spaniard, Ferrer de Maldonado, which they proved to have no existence. They despatched in the beginning of 1792 the galeras Sutil and Mexicana, under the command of Captains Galeano and Valdes, who were directed to act in concert with the English captain, Vancouver, for the examination of the immense archipelago known under the denomination of Admiral de Fuente and John de Fuca. The greater part of 1792 was occupied by the corvettes in the examination of the Marianas and Philipinas Islands, and Macao, on the coast of China. They passed repeatedly between Mindanao and Morintay; they coasted New Guinea; they made it under the Line to the eastward 500 leagues; they passed amongst the New Hebrides, visited New Zealand at Dusky Bay, New Holland at Port Jackson, and the archipelago of the Friendly Islands at the islands of Babau, not seen by any antecedent navigators who have passed these parts. They ultimately traversed unfrequented parts of the South Sea, on the way to Callao de Lima, where they arrived in June, 1793. From that port they touched at Conception, in Chili, and the corvettes, separating to encrease the operations of discovery, coasted Terra de Fuego, coast of Patagonia, and the east part of the Malouines (Falkland Islands), joining at Rio de Plata; at Montevideo they joined the frigate Sta. Gestridis and several register ships, which they accompanied to Cadiz.

In this voyage, botany, mineralogy, and hydrography have received much and valuable improvement. The experiments of gravitation have been repeated in both hemispheres, and in various latitudes, which will conduce to the determination of the figure of the earth, and will assist in establishing a universal measure.

They have studied the civil and political state of the countries they have visited. They have collected monuments to illustrate the history of their emigrations, as well as the progress of their civilization from their primitive ignorance.

Their discoveries have not cost a single tear to the human race, and they have only lost three or four of the crew in each vessel.

Their observations are to be published as soon as possible.1

1 British Library, Banks Papers, Add. Ms. 8097; Historical Records of New South Wales, II, p.25. Courtesy of Robert King.


Updated: December 23, 2005