The record of his voyage is interesting from the fact that he was the first to carry back to Europe an authentic account of the western coast of Australia, which he described in any but favourable terms. It is to Dutch navigators in the early portion of the 17th century that we owe the first really authentic accounts of the western coast and adjacent islands, and in many instances the names given by these mariners to prominent physical features are still retained.
Indeed, approximate accuracy is not attained until we are within sixteen hundred years of our own era; but the sequence of events of a period preceding this by two thousand years is well established, and the recent discoveries of Professor Petrie carry back the record to a period which cannot well be less than five thousand, perhaps not less than six thousand years B.C. Both from Egypt and Mesopotamia, then, the records of the archaeologist have brought us evidence of the existence of a highly developed civilization for a period exceeding by hundreds, perhaps by thousands, of years the term which had hitherto been considered the full period of man's existence.
In these days of fatted cattle and waving grain-fields this humble root, which was once the totem of an Indian tribe, is quite forgotten, or known only by its flowering vine; but let wild Nature reign here once more, and the tender and luxurious English grains will probably disappear before a myriad of foes, and without the care of man the crow may carry back even the last seed of corn to the great cornfield of the Indian's God in the southwest, whence he is said to have brought it; but the now almost exterminated ground-nut will perhaps revive and flourish in spite of frosts and wildness, prove itself indigenous, and resume its ancient importance and dignity as the diet of the hunter tribe.
Lastly, chronicles and documentary records, taken in connexion with archaeological relics of the historical period, carry back into distant ages the starting-point of actual history, behind which lies the evidently vast period only known by inferences from the relations of languages and the stages of development of civilization.
The greater part of his life-history is preserved in late Biblical narratives, which carry back existing conditions and beliefs to the time of the Exodus, and find a precedent for contemporary hierarchical institutions in the events of that period.