Wallis's & Carteret's voyage round the world

Published accounts of early voyages of discovery were popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Readers were fascinated to learn of adventures on the high seas and people of foreign lands. The History of Wallis’s & Carteret’s Voyage round the World, published in London in 1784, recounts the voyage of Samuel Wallis and Philip Carteret, and early contact between natives and the visiting Europeans.

The first encounters between Wallis and the natives of Tahiti were not entirely peaceful. Early attempts at trading disintegrated into violent skirmishes. On 24 June 1767, several convoys of natives in canoes converged on the Dolphin and began pelting the ship with stones.

“Thousands of Indians were now observed on shore embarking as fast as the canoes could bring them off. Orders were therefore given for firing the canons some of which were brought to bear upon the shore...” (History of Wallis’s & Carteret’s Voyage round the World. London: 1767).


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Selection from: The history of Wallis's & Carteret's voyage round the world : begun in the year 1766, and finished in 1768. London : Printed for A. Wren & G. Hodges, 1784. Printed book. ML 989.5/W

Gradually however an understanding was reached between Wallis and the Tahitians, and he was royally welcomed by ‘Queen’ Oberea. An expedition was undertaken into the interior and the ship was restocked with fresh water and supplies. The island’s picturesque mountains, waterfalls and lush vegetation must have seemed an untouched paradise to the European visitors. However the effect of Wallis' visit on the native population was later called into question: The Injured Islanders, or, The influence of art upon the happiness of nature.

After a month spent in Tahiti, the Dolphin then continued onto Batavia before returning to England via the Cape of Good Hope in May 1768. Wallis was able to pass on useful information to the Admiralty and Captain James Cook, then preparing to take command of the Endeavour, and some of Wallis' crew of the Dolphin went on to sail with Cook.

> See a Chart of part of the South Sea, shewing the tracts & discoveries made by His Majestys ships Dolphin... and Endeavour, via the Library's catalogue catalogue link