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Narrative of a Voyage Round the World (Belcher)

Narrative of a Voyage around the World - City of Panama, from Caledonia Hill.png

City of Panama, from Caledonia Hill.

London, Henry Colburn, Great Marlbro' St. 1843.









FROM DEC. 1840, TO NOV. 1841.

Published under the Authority of the Lords Commissioners
of the Admiralty.



C.B., F.R.A.S., &c.









printed by g. j. palmer, savoy street, strand.




first lord commissioner for executing the office

of lord high admiral of great britain and

ireland, &c., &c., &c.,




are, by his lordship's permission,


with the greatest respect,


his lordship's

very obedient servant,



Voyages undertaken for the express purposes of Maritime Discovery have always been received with so much favour by the British public, and especially when made (as in the present instance) by British officers, and under the direction of the British Government, that the writer of the present Narrative of a Voyage Round the World confidently trusts he will not be denied that indulgence which has been uniformly accorded to those who have preceded him. He hopes for such indulgence the rather that, although the practical results of his labours have been necessarily less fertile of novelty, and therefore of popular interest, than those of his more distinguished predecessors, they have not been less arduous or onerous to the individuals engaged in them.

In order that the scope and extent of the objects contemplated and attained, in this Voyage Round the World, may be judged of, it may be well to precede the narrative by a brief outline of its contents

Her Majesty's ship Sulphur was commissioned in September, 1835, by Captain Beechey, and, accompanied by her consort the Starling, Lieut. Commander Kellett, quitted England in the following December. Captain Beechey invalided at Valparaiso, and was succeeded by Acting Commander Kellett, who was again superseded by the author of the present narrative, who took the command at Panama, in February, 1837, having crossed the Isthmus of Darien for that purpose, and retained it till the conclusion of her protracted voyage. After some little delay in completing certain necessary operations, the two vessels proceeded northerly, touching at Realejo and Libertad in Central America, and reached San Blas in June, 1837, whence she sailed for the Sandwich Islands, which she reached the following month.

Port Etches, in King William's Sound, in 60° 30′ N. was the next destination of the Expedition. Point Riou and Port Mulgrave were chosen as base stations for determining the position of Mount St. Elias, and further settling the question of longitude between Cook and Vancouver. The Sulphur then proceeded to Sitka or New Archangel, in Norfolk Sound, where the officers received very courteous treatment from Captain Koupreanoff, the Russian governor. She next visited Friendly Cove, in Nootka Sound, and thence sailed to San Francisco, when the examination of the river Sacramento, one hundred and fifty-six miles from her anchorage, occupied the party in open boats for thirty-one days. Thence the Sulphur successively visited Monterey, San Blas, Acapulco, and Libertad, on her way to Realejo, where the author, for the recovery of his health, undertook a land survey of the principal mountains overlooking his future ground in the Gulf of Papagayo, and fixed the principal features of the Lake of Managua, to its fall into that of Nicaragua, at Tepitapa. After surveying the Gulf of Papagayo and Port Culebra, the Sulphur quitted Central America, touched at, and fixed, Cocos Island, and reached Callao in June, 1838, for the purpose of refit, and the completion of stores and provisions. Having examined the coast betwen Cerro Azul and Callao, (about sixty miles,) she left Callao in August, calling at Paita and Guayaquil, and returned to Panama in the following October.

Here may be said to have ended her first cruize; but between October and March a survey was made of the Gulfs of Fonseca and Nicoya, Pueblo Nueva, and Baia Honda, after which the ship moved northerly, repeating her cruize of 1837. She was detained at the Columbia River till September; Bodega, the Russian position near San Fransisco, was then surveyed, and subsequently San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Pedro, San Juan, San Diego, San Quentin, San Bartolomè, the Gulf of Magdalena, and Cape San Lucas. The Sulphur then proceeded to San Blas and Mazatlan, where orders for a westerly return awaited her. Having shipped supplies for fourteen months, from a transport which had been sent to meet her, she commenced her homeward voyage in January, 1840; en route the author landed on the islands of Socorro and Clarion, and secured their positions. She reached the Marquesas the same month, and after a short visit to Port Anna Maria, Nuhuhiva, moved on to Bow Island, where the operation was performed of boring for the volcanic foundation on which these coral islands are suspected to stand. She then visited Tahiti, Huaheine, Raratonga, Vavao, (Tonga group,) Nukulau, (Feejees,) Tanna, (New Hebrides,) Port Carteret, (New Ireland,) Britannia Island, New Guinea, coasting that island to Arimoa and as far as Jobie, where she remained to rate and survey; then to Amsterdam, Pigeon Island, (Dampier's Straits,) Bouro and Amboina, moving thence to Macassar, Great Solombo, and Pulo Kumpal, off the Borneo coast; reaching Singapore in October of the same year.

Orders here awaited her to proceed instantly to China, where she was detained, and took an active part in the operations against the Chinese, till nearly the close of the year 1841, when she sailed for England. After leaving Singapore, and touching at Malacca, Penang, Acheen, Sumatra, Point de Galle, (Ceylon,) Séchelles, Madagascar, Cape of Good Hope, St. Helena, and Ascension, she at last returned to Spithead. The account of the voyage has been carefully drawn up from the author's own memoranda, made when the places and incidents they describe were under his observation, and the illustrations are faithfully given from existing scenes and objects.

In conclusion, the author desires to acknowledge his obligation to Mr. Hinds, the Surgeon to the Expedition, for his valuable and interesting account of the vegetable regions, which will be found appended to the second volume of the narrative.

E. B.



Hydrographic Instructions

Page xvii.

Her Majesty's ship Sulphur quits England — Captain Beechey invalided — Is succeeded by Acting-Commander Kellett, who repairs to Panama to await instructions — Captain Belcher appointed to the command of the Expedition — Quits Falmouth in her Majesty's steamer Echo — Touches at Lisbon, and reaches Barbadoes and Jamaica — Is transferred to her Majesty's ship Forte, Commodore Pell, and thence to her Majesty's ship Madagascar, Commodore Sir J. Peyton— Is present at the blockade, &c., of Carthagena, and then embarks in her Majesty's ship Nimrod for Chagres — Passage up the river — Reaches Panama, and takes command of the Sulphur

Page 1

Assume the command of the Sulphur — Escort Consul's family to Chagres, and measure meridian distance by chronometers — Embark the ladies in her Majesty's ship Nimrod,and re-measure distance to Gorgona — Another attempt with the rockets from Caraveli, unsuccessful; Explosion bags from tree on Ato.Ormigero, successful — Measure distance to Panama — Power of Moteros in carrying burdens — Opinion on rocket measurement compared with chronometer — Present state of Panama — Move to Taboga — Leave Taboga — Visit Baia Honda — Magnetic Island (Pueblo Nueva) — Pass Gulf of Nicoya — Papagayo gusts — Arrive at Realejo — Obtain supplies — Port of Realejo — Quit Realejo by the Barra Falsa — Repair to Libertad — Visit San Salvador — Return and hear of fatal accident to coxswain — Surf — Difficulty of getting to ship — Succeed, and quit Libertad — Touch at Manzanilla (Port of Colima) — Reach San Blas — Visit Tepic — Quit San Blas for Sandwich Islands


Search for islands in the neighbourhood of Socorro — Clouds and Freshwater Island — Pass over position of Best's Island — Make Clarion's — Search for islands reported by Whalers between 130° and 13° W — Cross Blossom's track — Method of inserting track — Make Island of Maui — Singular cascades — Arrive at Oahu — Enter the port to refit — Question of forcible entry of "Clementine" — Appeal to the Government unsuccessful — Re-capture Clementine, and send her for the king — Missionary threat — Land the missionaries — Arrival of the French frigate Venus — Letter from the king — Arrival of the king's yacht — Royal reception — King consents to the missionaries remaining — Suspicions of foul play — Take leave of Venus, and quit Oahu — Arrival in the Bay of Atooi — Quit Hanalae — Present condition of Oahu — Views of the king — College at Maui — Starling despatched to Port Mulgrave — Touch at Rose Island — Arrive at Port Etches — Aurora observed — Visit the Russian settlement of Port Etches — Discover traces of Captain Portlock on Garden Island — Quit Port Etches — Extraordinary appearance of land near Cape Suckling — Anchor in Icy Buy, under Mount Elias — Point Riou not to be found — Icebergs — Arrival at Port Mulgrave — Rejoin Starling — Lip ornament — Quit Port Mulgrave


Norfolk Sound, Cape Edgecumbe — Sitka — Russian Governor Koupreanoff — Erect observatory — Establishment of Sitka — Small-pox among the Indians — Attention of the Governor — Entertainment to the natives — Probable cause of disagreements — Musical instruments — Slavery — Russian ball — Quit Sitka — Customary signals — Reach Woody Point — Anchor in Friendly Cove, Nootka — Arrival of Macquilla — Description of natives — Exhibition of magic-lanthorn and fireworks — A court fool — Sulkiness of Macquilla, on our refusal to trade — Description of natives — Quit Nootka, and proceed to San Francisco


Changes since 1828 — Result of revolution — Delawares — Visit Santa Clara — Decay of the mission— Examine Sacramento — Meet Indian hunters — Reach Point Victoria — Commence survey of river — Short of provisions — Grotesque dresses of Indians — Decrease of population — Animals — Climate — Productions — Scenery of river — Scarcity of provisions — Rejoin Starling — Insecure state of the country — Renegadoes — Quit San Francisco — Anchor at Monterey — State of its defences — Quit Monterey — Pass Cape San Lucas — Touch at Tres Marias — Reach San Blas


Official news of the accession of Queen Victoria — Arrival of Venus — Scurvy — Starling despatched to Panama for letters — Quit San Blas — Arrive at Acapulco — Entering by Boca Chica — Interview with the Governor — Erect observatory — Examine the port — Capacity — Best berth — Watering place — Present state of trade — Merchants deserting the city in consequence of custom-house regulations — Earthquakes from 1732 to present date — Fort San Carlos not affected by them — Period of rainy season — Distance from Mexico — Imports, exports, and general trade — Population and diseases — Military force — Execution of two murderers — Unsafe at night — Quit Acapulco — Touch at Guatulco, and fix position of Morro Ayuca — Cross Gulf of Tehuantepec — Views of volcanic peaks — Call at Sonsonate and Libertad — Volcano of Isalco active — Anchor at Realejo


Excursion to summit of Viejo Volcano — San Antonio — Mr. Bridge, its proprietor — Chinandega — Swarm of musquitoes — Moyotepita — Pine range — Viejo summit — Palm toddy — Return to San Antonio — Move on to Chichigalpa — Posoltega — City of Leon — Its Cathedral and College — Reach Piedra Gorda on the lake of Managua — Attempt to visit Momotombita relinquished — Stormy breezes — Reach Nagarote — Hospitality — Move on to Matiares — Productions — Cholera, &c. — Reported remains of causeway to Momotombita — Reach Managua — Brasil wood noticed — Sleep at Managua— Move on to Tepitapa — The falls — Sulphur springs — Return to Managua — Matiares — Nagarote — Leon and San Antonio — Rejoin Sulphur, and quit Realejo to examine Gulf of Papagayo — Bay of Salinas — Murciellagos islands examined — Return to Realejo — Arrival of Starling with letters — Quit Realejo — Search for and find Culebra — Survey it — Reach island of Cocos — Tedious passage — Pass through Gallapagos, and reach Callao


Naval forces at Callao — Refit the Sulphur — Arrival of Admiral Ross — Periodical observations — Visit the coast below Callao — Cerro Azul — Port and town of Chilca — Disturbances in Peru — Arrival of the Chilians — Troops land at Ancon — Engagement near Lima — Chilian forces enter the city — Ladies witness the action — The Sulphur quits Callao — Visits the Ilormigas, Payta, Guayaquil


Proceed to Guayaquil in gig — Ladies of Guayaquil — General Wright's excursion to Bodegas — General Flores — Batahoya, Bull fight — Alligators — Balsas, Canoa de pieca — Samborodon — Sulphur drops down the river — H. M. S. Harrier calls at Puna — Capture of an alligator — Handsome conduct of Government of Equador — Return to Panama — Visit Yslas del Rey — Witness pearl-diving operations — Arrival of despatches — Sail for Realejo — Reach Realejo


Realejo — Termination of the rainy season — Quit Realejo and repair to Chicarene — Gulf of Fonseca — Trip to San Miguel — Agua Frio — Reach San Miguel — Start to visit the Volcano — Demur at Chinameca — Return in disgust to San Miguel — Quit, and visit Moncagua — Breakfast — Arrive at San Miguel — The fair — Method of transacting business — Honourable conduct of natives — Run to Realejo — Meet H. M. S. Imogene — Return to Conchagua — Port of San Carlos — Ascend Amapala — Conchagua, &c. — Pitch observatory under Conseguina — Start with Starling and boats to examine Estero Real — Result — Swarms of Mosquitoes — Canal question — Volcano of Conseguina — Desolation caused by its eruption — Return to Realejo — A boat upset in a squall — Mr. Speck and a seaman drowned — Sail for the Gulf of Nicoya


Survey of the Gulf of Nicoya — Its capabilities — Examine Bay of Honda — Quibo — Receive despatches at Panama — Future movements — Sail for the Sandwich Islands — Revisit Cocos Island — Examine Clipperton Rock — Anchor at Honolulu — Disposition of the king towards us — Funeral of Kinau, the King's aunt — The king and suite visit the Sulphur — Missionary influence and operations — The islands less frequented — The Orphan School — Rapid decrease of the population — Exports and productions


Quit Honululu — Touch at Atooi — Signs of improvement — Sail for the north — Great numbers of marine animals — Touch at Kodiack — Natives — Observations — Visit Sitka — Enter the Columbia River — Present state of Astoria — Ascend the river to Fort Vancouver — Jealousy of the Indians respecting their dead — The establishment at Fort Vancouver — Colonizing the Wallamette — Relations with America and Russia — Great size of the forest trees — The Hudson's Bay trading establishment — Wreck of a Japanese junk — The crew seized by the natives — Other similar occurrences — Character of the Indians who compress the head — Influence on the mind — Sail for California — Settlement of Ross — Bodega — Unsafe anchorage — San Francisco — Sailing directions for the port


Arrive at Monterey — Move on to St. Barbara — Kelp line — St. Barbara — Move on to San Pedro — Starling despatched to San Buenaventura — San Pedro — Touch at San Juan — Starling despatched to examine St. Catalina — Anchor at San Diego — Description of the port — Alarm from Indians — Defenceless state — Country wines made at San Luis Rey — Quit San Diego — Pass Cape Colnett and enter San Quentin, or Puerto de las Virgines — Touch at San Bartolomé — Enter and anchor in Gulf of Magdalena — Fossils — Esteros — Extent of Esteros — Probable connexion with La Paz — Adapted for naval rendezvous — Cape San Lucas Productions — Reach San Blas — Quit, and anchor at Mazatlan — Return to San Blas


Quit San Blas — Island of Socorro — Goats — Does not afford water — Braithwaite's Bay — Clarion Island — Lose anchor - Botany — Fish — No water — Irish eagle shot — False alarm of breakers — Make the Marquesas — Enter port Anna Maria — Nuhuhiva — Transactions — War in Tabu — Interference to stop hostilities — Unsuccessful — Compact of safety to foreign residents — Signed by king and prime ministers — Quit Nuhuhiva


in the hydrographic instructions.

Page xxiv. line 6, for which read winch.




Map of the Author's route.
Loose in Pocket.
Map, showing the track of ground searched.
Map of Canton River.


City of Panama, from Caledonia Hill


City of Panama from the sea

Page 23

Port of Honululu, Island of Oahu, Sandwich Islands


Mount St. Elias


View of the Arsenal and Lighthouse, Sitka, New Archangel


Volcano of Conseguina — Gulf of Fonseca


Fort George, Astoria


Port Anna Maria, Nuhuhiva, Marquesas



Appearance of Ice


Native Chief of Port Mulgrave


Woman with Mouth-piece


Native Chief of Sitka








Burial Canoe




Slate Pipes of North-west America


Indian Skull


This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.