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THE origin of the expedition described in this work was due to the desire on the part of the French Government to return to his native land a Taitian, named Aoutourou (Mayoa), whom Bougainville had brought with him to Europe as a human curiosity in 1769. This South Sea Islander had been sent to the Mauritius together with instructions to the Governor of that French dependency to forward him to his destination. Marion du Fresne, the chief of the expedition about to be described, was then a well-to-do resident at the Ile de France, and he volunteered, as is related, to take Aoutourou to his home.
Nicholas Thomas Marion du Fresne was born at Saint Malo in 1729. His family is at the present day represented by the Boismena family at Saint Malo, and there is supposed to be a branch, name unknown, in Nantes. The following extract from the registers of the Etat Civil de Saint Malo, obtained through the kindness of the British Vice-Consul the Hon. E. Henniker Major, relating to his baptism is interesting:
"Nicholas Thomas Marion, son of Nicholas and of Jaquette Pilvesse his wife, was baptised by me, the undersigned, on the twenty-second of December, 1729. Jacques Poitevin was godfather, and Catherine Mathays was godmother. The godfather and father have signed:
F. PAIN, Baptisavi."
Marion entered the French navy, became a lieutenant on a frigate in 1746, and a captain of a fire-ship in 1766. He was
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also made a Knight of the order of Saint Louis. Previously he had commanded the vessel which took the celebrated astronomer, A. G. Pingre (1711-1796) to Rodriguez island in 1760 to observe the transit of Venus there. Captain Marion was known as "an extremely intelligent man, a good strategist, a good all-round man, and one in whom implicit confidence could be placed." It was natural that a wealthy man with such renown would have his offer graciously received by the Governor of the Mauritius. At the time the expedition was about to start the astronomer and traveller Alexis Marie de Rochon was on a visit to the island. He had gone there with Kerguelen to take part in the latter's second voyage, but not agreeing with his views, he declined to go further. The Governor of the island, M. Poivre, at first wished Rochon under the circumstances to go with M. Marion, but afterwards, in hopes of reconciling Captain Kerguelen and the Abbe Rochon, he positively refused the latter his permission to start with M. Marion. It is probable that to this circumstance we are indebted for the published account of the expedition, for Rochon edited it from the log of M. Crozet, one of the officers, who took charge of the Mascarin on the death of Marion, and who met with well-deserved promotion on his return to France. Associated with Marion was an officer known as the Chevalier Duclesmeur. This man distinguished himself on his return to Europe in the squadron under the command of Touche-Treville. 1
It was Captain Duclesmeur who assumed command of the whole expedition on the death of M. Marion. He was also, it appears, wounded by the natives of Tasmania, and the way in which he successfully withdrew the expedition from its dangerous position at the Bay of Islands is greatly to his credit. The great object of the expedition, apart from that of returning the wandering Taitian, was the discovery of lands in the Antarctic Ocean, but this object appears to have been brought to a sudden
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end by the unfortunate collision between the two vessels which formed the expedition. The Castries, which appears to have suffered most, although she afterwards occasionally outsailed her consort, has been blamed for being the cause of this change of view, but M. Rochon asserts that Marion must have had other ideas not known to us for so completely changing his original object.
In the appendix will be found M. Rochon's views of the massacre which cost Captain Marion his life, and which he attributes to hostile acts committed by the vessel commanded by M. de Surville. He adds: "The desertion of a negro belonging to Marion might have contributed to the rising of the islanders, already shocked by the flogging inflicted on one of their companions; for although it is said that the savage who had stolen a sword out of the gun room went without punishment, Duclesmeur states the savage was put in irons and that his companions swam off threatening to wreak vengeance on Marion." Either cause may in itself have been sufficient to rouse the natives, or we may not be wrong in inferring that a severe breach of the "tabu" must have been the origin of the mischief, for these early voyagers appear to have known nothing whatever of that remarkable custom in New Zealand or elsewhere.
In the account of his second voyage Captain Cook says the account of M. Marion's expedition had not been made public in 1776, and "did not come to my knowledge in time enough to afford me any advantage." He had been told at the Cape by Baron Plattenberg, the Governor, in November, 1772, that Captain Marion had started, but that was all. On his return from his second voyage, March, 1775, he met Captain Crozet at the Cape and says of him: "He seemed to be a man possessed of the true spirit of discovery, and to have abilities. In a very obliging manner he communicated to me a chart, wherein were delineated not only his own discoveries, but also those of Captain Kerguelen. . . . . Besides this land . . . . Captain Marion . . . . discovered six islands which were high and barren. These, together with some islands lying between the line and the southern tropic in the Pacific Ocean, were the principal dis-
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coveries made in this voyage, the account of which we were told was ready for publication."
In this translation of Rochon's work there are many references to geology, botany, and zoology, which at the present day it is quite hopeless to attempt to describe correctly, and the editor is therefore all the more indebted to Mr. F. W. Rudler of the Royal School of Mines, to Mr. W. Botting Hemsley of Kew, and Mr. W. Eagle Clarke of Edinburgh, for kind help in the translation of respective technical details.
Of the two maps specially draughted for this translation, one, showing the general route of the expedition, has been prepared from Crozet's log, under the kind superintendence of M. J. Renaud, Hydrographer-in-Chief to the French Admiralty; the second one, showing the movements of the expedition in the Bay of Islands, where Marion was killed, the editor has prepared from Crozet's two charts in the Naval Archives at Paris.
In the selection of the Illustrations the editor is much indebted to Mr. Walter Clark, who has kindly placed at his disposal negatives of the plates of the articles illustrated from the Science and Art Museum, Edinburgh, and more especially to Mr. Ch. H. Read, of the British Museum, who has enabled him to lay before the reader a few illustrations of some of the choicest works of Maori Art.