The Dutch Discover Australia

It is not a very interesting story. It is, in fact, a story of unsurpassable dryness. We have been told that 'it was the spirit which had cut the dykes that gained the Spice Archipelago for Holland'. But there was very little of 'the spirit of the dykes' in the use which the Dutch made of their gain. The trail of business is over the whole story; indeed the whole story is nothing but a trail of business. Complete and singular is the contrast between the Spaniard and his successor. It is the contrast of the Cathedral full of men with all human virtues and vices, and the Factory wherein is neither virtue nor vice, nor even men, but one thing only, desire to make money. In place of Don Quixote we have a bagman, and by no means an 'inspired bagman'. In place of voyages of knightly mariners, following the gleam of a golden continent, we have a dull story of the gropings, along rocky and barren shores, which cut the utterly uninteresting continent of New Holland out of the beautiful Spanish dream of Terra Incognita. In place of quest of a great 'mine of souls' we have long inventories of things for barter for 'the benefit of the Company'.

from The Discovery of Australia (1922), by G. Arnold Wood, revised (1969) by J. C. Beaglehole

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