| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
"THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN"
 WISE people tell us that the land of Australia is perhaps
the oldest in the world. At a time when the wide ocean
swept over the continent of Europe, when our little island
still lay far beneath the rippling waves, the land of
Australia stood above the lone waters.
Yet to us Australia is a new discovered country.
Long ages ago indeed travellers and learned men told
tales of a Great South Land which lay somewhere in the
Southern Seas. But no eye had seen that fabled country,
no ship had touched that unknown shore It was a
country dim and mysterious as fairyland. On ancient
maps we find it marked with rough uncertain lines, "The
Southeme Unknowne Lande," but how it came to be so
marked, how the stories about it first came to be told,
and believed, we shall very likely never know.
It is hard to tell too, who, among white men, first set
foot on this great island. If one of the brave sailors of
those far-off times did by chance touch upon its shore,
he found little there to make him stay, or encourage him
to return. For in those days what men chiefly sought
was trade. And in Australia there was no place for
trade. It was a great, wide, silent land where there
were no towns, or even houses. It was peopled only by
a few black savages, who wore no clothes, who had no
wants, and who cared for nothing but to eat and drink.
 But in the seventeenth century, when Holland was
mistress of the seas, and the Dutch planted their flag on
every shore, they found their way to the Great South
It was a Dutchman who discovered Tasmania. He
called it Van Dieman's Land in honour of the Governor-General
of the Dutch East Indies. But the name was
afterwards changed to Tasmania, by which name we
know it now. The great Gulf of Carpentaria is named
after another Dutchman, and all round the northern,
western and southern shores, here and there may be found
names to remind us of those old Dutch adventurers.
But the name New Holland which the Dutch gave to the
whole land has long since been forgotten.
The Dutch did little more than discover the coast.
They founded no colonies, they built no towns, and so
their hold on the land was hardly real. They marked
New Holland upon their maps, but they knew little
about it. No man knew what a vast land New Holland
was, or how far stretching were the rolling plains of which
they had had only a glimpse.
Soon Holland as a great sea power gave way to
another which was to become still greater. Van Tromp
the Dutchman was beaten by Blake the Englishman.And after
that the Dutch seem to have lost all interest in the Great
Then in 1699 a British sailor called Dampier set out
on a voyage of discovery to the Southern seas. He was
more than half a pirate and had led a life of wild adventure. But he was a daring seaman, and had already
been to New Holland more than once. And so King
William III. chose him to lead an expedition of discovery.
One February day Dampier sailed out from England,
and six months later anchored in a bay on the west coast
 of New Holland, which he called Shark's Bay, because
his men killed and ate many sharks there. It is still
called Shark's Bay.
For some time Dampier cruised along the shores
taking note of all that he saw, of the land, the birds, and
beasts. Among the birds, Dampier saw gaily coloured
parrots and cockatoos, and black swans. Among the
beasts, the chief was a curious-looking animal with a long
tail and long hind legs upon which it leaped and hopped
about. The natives called it Kanguro.
He saw a few natives. They were tall, thin, and
black, with blinking eyes and frizzled hair. They had
no weapons except wooden spears, they wore no clothes,
and their houses, which he only saw in the distance,
looked to him like haycocks. But some had no houses
at all. "They lay in the open air without covering, the
earth being their bed and heaven their canopy. They
had no possessions of any kind. Not soe much as a catt
or a dog." With such people there was no hope of trade,
and in those days no one thought of taking possession
of a land unless there was some trade to be done.
Having cruised about for some time and finding no
fresh water, Dampier feared to stay longer, lest his men
should fall ill in that desert land. So he steered away to
the East Indies and from thence sailed homeward.
Many years passed. Now and again a ship touched
upon the shores of New Holland but no one took much
interest in it. It was a barren, useless land most men
thought, a stony desert for the greater part, good enough
for the few wild black fellows who lived there, but never
a home for white men. Besides this, the British, who
were now the great sea power, were busy fighting in
India and America, and had little time and few ships
to spare for peaceful exploration.
 But in the long reign of George III. , when after much
fighting Britain was at length at peace with all the world,
men once more turned their thoughts to peaceful things.
Then in 1768 Captain James Cook was sent upon an
James Cook had had a very exciting life, but there is
no room to tell about it here. As a small boy he was
sent to serve in a draper's shop, but at the age of fourteen
he ran away to sea, and from then till now when he was
forty, his life had been full of excitement and adventure.
In this voyage, Captain Cook sailed all along the
eastern coast of Australia, a thing which no white man
had ever done. He landed in many places, naming capes,
bays, and points, as he passed. One great bay he named
Botany Bay, because of the many plants and flowers to
be found there. And here he set up the Union Jack,
cut the name of his ship and the date of his landing on
the trees near, and claimed the land for King George.
Cook and his men had many adventures. At one
time they were nearly wrecked. The ship struck upon
a rock and stuck fast. The water began to come in so
quickly, that although the men worked hard at the pumps,
it seemed as if the ship would sink. But luckily the sea
was smooth, and there was little wind, and after much
hard work they were able to steer into a safe harbour.
Here they ran the ship ashore, and found a hole in the
bottom big enough to have sunk it. But by good
fortune a piece of coral rock had stuck in the hole, and
this had saved them.
Having mended the ship as best they could they once
more set sail, and at last readied what is now known as
Torres Strait, having explored the whole eastern coast of
At Torres Strait Cook landed. Once more he set
 up the British flag and claimed the whole eastern coast
with all its bays, harbours, rivers, and islands, for King
George. And to this great tract he gave the name of
New South Wales. There in that far-off land, their little
ship, a mere speck between blue sky and bluer sea, this
handful of Britons claimed new realms for their king.
And to attest their claim, volley upon volley of musketry
rolled out, awakening the deep silence of that unknown
shore. There was none to answer or deny the challenge,
and when the noise of cannon died upon the quiet air
there was only the sigh of trees, the ripple of waves, and
the scream of wild birds to break the stillness.
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