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Title: Voyage In Search Of La Perouse Volume II Author: Jacques Labillardiere * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1204001h.html Language: English Date first posted: November 2012 Date most recently updated: November 2012 Produced by: Ned Overton and Col Choat Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html
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PLATE XXVIII. Double Canoe of the Friendly Islands—To face the Title. For a description see [CHAPTER XII.]
PRINTED FOR JOHN STOCKDALE, PICCADILLY.
APPENDIX. [NOT INCLUDED]
Vocabulary of the Language of the
LIST OF PLATES
Stay in Rocky Bay—Various Excursions
into the Country—Goodness of the Soil—Singular
Organization of the Bark of several Trees peculiar to New
Holland—Difficulty of penetrating into the Woods—The
Trees within land are not hollowed by Fire like those near the
Sea—Pit Coal to the North West of South
Cape—Interview with the Savages—Their Conduct towards
us very peaceable—One of them came to take a View of us at
Night while we were asleep—Several of them accompany us
through the Woods—Various other Interviews with the
Inhabitants—They broil Shell Fish, to eat
them—Polygamy established among these People[—]Their
Manner of fishing—The Women search for Shell Fish,
sometimes by diving to a great Depth—One of the Savages
visits us on board—Their Knowledge of Botany.
24th JANUARY, 1793.
AT five o'clock in the morning I landed near the entrance of our anchoring-place. Along the shore I observed blocks of sand-stone, the decomposition of which had furnished the very fine quartzose sand, on which I walked for some time.
The Esperance had already found a watering-place, in a little cove to the north-west, where there was very good water, easily procured. The brook that furnished it fell into the sea from a height of more than three feet, so that it would readily run into the long-boat through wooden troughs.
We soon reached the head of the bay, where we found a hut, which the savages had constructed with much art. The ingenuity with which they had disposed the bark that covered its roof, excited our admiration; the heaviest rain could not penetrate it. It had an opening in the side towards the sea, and curiosity induced us to enter.
Some of the people on board the Esperance had told us, that the evening before they had seen three natives, sitting round a small fire, close to the hut, who, being frightened by the sound of a gun discharged at a bird, had fled with precipitation. We had soon another proof of their presence at this extremity of the bay; and it appeared to us, that they came regularly to sleep in this hut. In a very short time we repented our entering into it; for the vermin that stuck to our clothes, bit us in a very disagreeable manner.
The tide of flood had raised the sea to a height that enabled it to slow within the land, where we saw on it many ducks; but they would not let us approach within a considerable distance of them. From their being thus afraid of man I infer, that they are not safe from the attacks of the natives.
In the woods we found few insects; but for this we were amply compensated when we returned to the sea-side. As the weather was very fine, the infects had flown thither from all parts; and among the great number of those that had attempted to cross the bay, many termites, and various coleoptera, of very strange shapes. The wind had driven them upon the sand, where we could collect them with great ease.
Next morning, at day-break, we landed near the head of the bay, whence we entered a large valley, which stretches to the south-west, between some very high hills. From the top of one of the highest we could see all the country, as far as the foot of the great mountain, that bore north-west from our ships. The snow still remaining on its summit, rendered the view very picturesque, and by its contrast heightened the beautiful verdure of the large trees, which appeared to grow on it with great vigour.
Many species of embothrium were observed on the declivity of the hills where we were. Lower down we perceived springs of clear water, creeping out at several places, and running into a lake; where I saw some pelicans, but unfortunately I was able to fire at them only from a great distance. This lake is in the midst of a large plain; the soil of which, in the lowest parts, consists of clay, thoroughly drenched with water, and covered with roots of different plants, which form a bad kind of turf on a slaking bottom. Through this are openings in several places a few feet broad, displaying a very thin mud, covered with water. Near these bogs, I had the pleasure of collecting a great number of plants, among which I remarked several new species of calceolaria and drosera, (sun-dew.)
Continuing our walk, we soon had a vegetable mould under our feet, which I found the same at more than half a yard deep throughout the whole breadth of the valley. The temperature of the climate would be extremely favourable to the cultivation of most of the vegetables of Europe; and a few trenches, dug in, proper places, would give a sufficient discharge to the water, to drain almost all the marshes found there, and convert them into fertile soil.
As night approached, we had reached the spot where we landed, and saw there several heaps of oyster-shells, brought by the natives, which had induced our fishers to search for them in the bay. At low water they discovered, very near this place, an oyster-bank, from which they took a large quantity; and the flood brought in with it several species of ray, some of which they caught also.
The whole of the 26th I spent in describing and preparing every thing I had collected since our arrival in Rocky Bay. I was astonished at the great variety of productions frill afforded me by this part of New Holland, where I had been very diligent in my researches for more than a month the preceding year; though, it is true, several leagues from the places we had now visited, and in a more advanced season, when a great number of plants, that I now found, must have disappeared.
On the following morning, as soon as it began to dawn; we set off, with the design of remaining on shore a couple of days, resolving to pursue our researches to a considerable distance from our place of anchorage. We landed in the south-west, and followed a path, traced nearly in that direction by the natives, where we observed tolerably recent marks of naked feet, among which were some of very young children. No doubt, some families, alarmed by our stay in Rocky Bay, had gone in quest of another retreat, where they deemed themselves in more safety.
After an hour's walk, we rested in a low place, where the waters from the neighbouring hills were collected. To several species of leptospermum this moisture was so well suited, that they had grown up to very large trees; though all that I had hitherto found in other places were but little shrubs. Some here, were more than thirty yards high, though the trunk was not eight inches in diameter. One species was remarkable for its bark, which was about an inch thick, and composed of a great number of flakes, lying one over another, very easily separable, and as thin as the finest Chinese paper. This singular organization of the bark occurs only in New Holland; it is nearly the same in the eucalyptus resinifera; and I had observed it also on the south-west coast of this country, on two largo trees, one belonging to the family of protea, the other to the myrtles.
We soon found a current of air opposite to the strong breezes from the south-west. Near we saw the marks of a fire, which appeared to have been lately burning. The natives had left there part of a stalk of fucus palmatus (the palmated or sweet fucus,) which the natives eat, after they have broiled it, as we had afterwards an opportunity of seeing.*
[* This species of sea-wrack, we are informed, is eaten both in Scotland and Ireland, sometimes fresh, as a sallad; but more frequently it is dried, rolled together, and chewed as tobacco. In the Isle of Sky it is used as a medicine.—Translator.]
The south-west wind, which had been preceded by a great descent of the quicksilver in the barometer, blew in the afternoon in violent gusts, which brought on rain just as we reached the sea shore near South Cape. Fortunately a shrub of the rutaceous family afforded us an excellent sucker by its bushy thickness. This shrub grows vigorously on these heights, notwithstanding its being exposed to all the impetuosity of the violent winds that prevail on these coasts.
To this new genus I have given the name of maxeutoxeron.
The calyx is bell-shaped, and four-toothed.
The petals are attached to the bottom of the calyx.
The stamens, eight in number, are fixed to the receptacle.
The germen is oval. The style is not quite so long as the stamens. The stigma has four divisions.
The capsule has four cells, each of which is formed of two valves; and is covered with hairs.
Each cell contains two or three seeds, nearly spherical.
The leaves are opposite, rounded, covered with thick down, and of a fallow colour underneath.
The flowers are solitary, and placed at the insertions of the leaves.
To this shrub I give the name of mazeutoxeron rufum.
PLATE XVII. Mazeutoxeron Rufum
Explanation of the Figures, Plate XVII.
Fig. 1. A branch.
Fig. 2. The flower.
Fig. 3. The petal.
Fig. 4. The petals removed to show the stamens.
Fig. 5. The stamens magnified.
Fig. 6. The capsule.
We walked some way to the north across hillocks of sand, before we got down to the beach, the windings of which we followed with great case for a considerable distance; but at length we were stopped by a mountain, which terminated in a cliff; where it advanced into the sea. We attempted to go round it on the land side, but found it impossible to penetrate through the thickets, by which it was environed.
Night coming on, we returned in search of a convenient place to pass the night near a rivulet, which we had crossed. A thick bush was the best shelter we could find; and this we increased by the addition of branches from others, so that we expected to have been perfectly secure against any inconvenience from the wind. But the gale from the south-west blew so strong during the night, that the rain penetrated our covering on all sides; and to heighten our distress, the cold was very piercing, which drove most of us near the fire, though there we were still more exposed to the wet, than in our sort of hut.
28th. As soon as day broke, we quitted our uncomfortable lodging, and crossed the downs, that surrounded us. To some places, where the sand appeared lately to have fallen down, I observed, that these sand hills appeared to rest partly on a very hard steatite, of a dark grey colour, partly on sandstone. Presently, after observed from the borders of the shore a very large rock, standing, in the sea, and not far from the land, which exhibited on all sides the same species of steatite. This rock, which is very high, is pierced at one of its extremities.
The waves had separated from the bottom of the sea much sponge of the species called spongia cancellata, great quantities of which we saw thrown upon the shore.
In the midst of these downs grew a new species of plantain, which I call plantago tricuspidata, from the form of its leaves. This must be reckoned among the most useful plants, which this country affords for the food of man. The hope of finding some vegetables fit to eat as sallad had induced the most provident among us, to bring the necessary sauce, and the sallad furnished by the leaves of this plant, which were very tender, was highly relished by all the company.
Several kinds of grass, among which I noticed many new species of fescue (festuca), served to bind the sand together. A new geranium, with an herbaceous stalk, very small, and with leaves deeply cut, was among the number of plants I collected. It was the first plant of the genus, that I found in this country.
I had observed several burrows made in the ground, where the sand had sufficient solidity, but I knew not by what animal they were formed; when a kangarou of a middle size started up at our approach, and ran into one of them. We fired in several times, hoping the smoke would drive him out, but he would not quit his hole.
Several tracks of kangarous through a little wood routed the ardour of two of our shooters, who were with us; and they soon got sight of several of these animals in the midst of a meadow watered by a delightful rivulet, but all of them were too shy to be approached.
At length we got on board, greatly fatigued for want of sleep, as we had not closed our eyes for more than forty hours.
29th. The four subsequent days I employed in visiting the environs of the place where we lay at anchor. Toward the south-south-east I found a fine tree, which appeared to me to belong to the family of coniferæ, judging by the disposition of its stamens, and the resinous smell of every part; but I was never able to procure any of its fruit, though I afterwards saw several trees of the same kind. No doubt the season was not yet far enough advanced; and the stamens, which I observed, appeared to have remained ever since the preceding year. I mention this tree, not only on account of the singularity of its leaves for a tree of this family, for they are broad, and deeply indented on their edges, but for their utility in making beer. They afforded a bitter and aromatic extract, which I imagined might be used as that of spruce; and on making a trial of it with malt, I found that I was not mistaken.
This fine tree is often a yard in thickness, and twenty-five or thirty yards high. Its wood is very hard, of a reddish colour, and susceptible of a fine polish.
The thick woods we had to the north-north-west of our ships furnished a great number of trees of a moderate height, which grew extremely well, notwithstanding the shade of the vast eucalyptus globulus.
I shall give some account of a new genus of the family of the hypericums, which constituted the ornament of these solitary places, and which I call carpodontos.
The calyx has four scarious leaves, united at the upper part; they fall off as the corolla unfolds itself.
The corolla is formed of four petals, attached beneath the germen.
The stamens are numerous, (thirty or forty.)
The germen is elongated, and surmounted with six or seven styles, each of which has an acute stigma.
The capsule opens into six or seven valves, woody, cleft internally throughout their whole length, and bidentated at their superior extremity.
The seeds are few, and flattened.
This tree, which does not reach a height of more than eight or ten yards, is but slender.
Its leaves are, oval; opposite, coriaceous, shining, and covered with a thin film of resin, which transudes from the upper part; the under part is whitish, and the lateral ribs are scarcely perceptible on it.
I have given it the name of carpodontos lucida.
PLATE XVIII. Carpodontos Lucida
Explanation of the Figures, Plate XVIII.
Fig. 1. Branch of the carpodontos lucida.
Fig. 2. Flower with the calyx already separated at its bate.
Fig. 3. Flower viewed in front.
Fig. 4. Posterior part of the flower, where the calyx may be observed, which sometimes remains attached to it by one of its leaves, after the corolla is unfolded.
Fig. 5. The petal.
Fig. 6. The stamens magnified.
Fig. 7. The germen.
Fig. 8. The capsule.
FEBRUARY 2d. We had planned a visit to the highest of the mountains in this part of New Holland; the various sites of which gave us hopes of a great number of new productions. Each of us took provision for five days, which we presumed would afford us sufficient time for our purpose. Accordingly we set off very early in the morning, with a tolerable hock of biscuit, cheese, bacon, and brandy, our usual more on distant excursions.
When we had proceeded about half way on the road we had before taken, in our journey to South Cape, we found an extensive opening through the woods, which facilitated our progress westerly, as far as the foot of the hills, that we were obliged to cross; and then we plunged into the mica of the woods, with no other guide but the compass.
We directed our way to the north, advancing slowly from the obstacles presented us at every step, by vast trees lying one upon another. Most of these, blown down by the violence of the winds, had torn up in their fall part of the soil that bore them; others, that had fallen in consequence of their age, were every where rotten, and the lower part of their trunks was frequently seen standing amidst the wreck of their upper parts, that lay in huge heaps around.
After a very laborious walk, we at length reached the summit of a mountain, whence we perceived to the south the middle of the roadstead of South Cape, and to the north-west the large mountain, toward which we directed our reps.
Night soon obliging us to halt, we kindled a large fire, round which we reposed; and a comfortable sleep dissipated the fatigues of the day. We slept in the open air, for we should have found it difficult, to construct a shelter in a short time among the large trees, as their branches were mostly near the summit, and this part of the forest was destitute of shrubs. We looked in vain for some large trunks hollowed by fire; these are to be found only in places frequented by the natives. We had seen a great number on the borders of the sea, where we had observed mangy paths, which the natives had cleared; but nothing gave us any intimation that they had ever come into the midst of these thick forests.
The air was extremely calm; and about midnight I awaked, when, solitary in the midst of these silent woods, the majesty of which was half disclosed to, me by the feeble gleam of the stars, I felt myself penetrated with a sentiment of admiration of the grandeur of nature, which it is beyond my power to express.
3d. At day-break we resumed our journey in the same direction as before. Our difficulties increased more and more. The trunks of trees lying one upon another often presented an almost impenetrable barrier, obliging us to climb to the uppermost, and then to walk from tree to tree, at the hazard of a fall from a considerable height; for several were covered with a spongy bark, so wet with the damp continually prevailing in these thick woods, that our path was extremely eery, as well as difficult.
The day was considerably advanced, when we arrived at the summit of a mountain, from which we perceived the whole extent of a long valley, which we had still to cross, before we could reach the foot of the mountains, which we had set out to visit. The intermediate space appeared to be about eighteen miles; and this space was occupied by forests, as thick as those through which we had just penetrated. It was to be apprehended, that it would take us upwards of two days, to reach the end of our intended journey; even if we were not retarded by extensive marshes, or other obstacles, which we could not possibly foresee. It would require nearly as long a time to return; and from this calculation, our provision would be expended three days before the termination of our journey. These forests in the mean time afforded nothing that could contribute to our subsistence; and consequently we were obliged to relinquish our design.
The great chain of mountains appeared to stretch from the north-east to the south-west, through a vast extent of country.
In the forests we had just traversed, we found the same kind of stones which we had already met with towards South Cape. Seeing this cape south by east, we took this direction, and went to spend the night on the skirts of the forest, near a rivulet, which runs to the foot of the mountains.
4th. The difficulty of penetrating through the woods, made, us resolve in future to follow the shore as far as we could, and avail ourselves of the openings that terminated on it, to proceed into the interior part of the country. In this manner we could traverse a considerable extent of ground in little time; but it was necessary for us first to pass the cliff that projected into the sea, and had stopped us a few days before. By fresh attempts at length we succeeded, and, after surmounting the greatest difficulties, we penetrated through the thick woods that opposed our passage. On quitting these we were able to continue our journey along the sea-side, the way being sufficiently easy, as the mountain terminated at the shore by a gentle slope; but we were soon obliged to climb over steep rocks, at the foot of which the sea broke in a tremendous manner. This road, notwithstanding its difficulty, was frequented by the natives, for we found in it one of their spears. This weapon was no more than a very straight long stick, which they had not taken the pains to smooth, but which was pointed at each end.
The side of the mountains being exposed for a considerable extent, we observed a horizontal vein of coal, the greatest thickness of which did not exceed four inches. We noticed it for the space of more than three hundred yards. The stratum beneath it was sand stone; that above, a dark brown schist. From these indications I presume, that excellent coal may be found in abundance at a greater depth. It is well known, that the richest mines of this fuel are commonly found beneath sandstone.
The rust, with which I perceived the water, that trickled from the rocks, highly coloured, was the first indication these mountains afforded me of their containing iron; but it was not long before I found fine fragments of hematites of a bronze red colour, and farther on an ochry earth of a tolerably bright red. Small separate fragments of tripoli also were scattered about in the way we took; probably separated from the higher strata, which we could not distinguish, as they were covered by the earth that tumbled down in large masses.
Several new species of lobelia grew out from the clefts of the rocks, which became more and more steep. Some of them were perpendicular cliffs, more than two hundred yards in height above the level of the sea. Very recent marks of the earth having tumbled down made us resolve to take our way through the woods, and not to approach the cliffs again without the greatest caution.
For some time we proceeded amid shrubs, most of which were of the heath family (erica), or that of diospyros.
Our attention was soon called to a fearful sound, the repetitions of which seemed to obey the motions of the waves, and with the greatest astonishment we beheld the terrible spectacle of the destructive effects of the sea, continually undermining these cliffs. The base of an enormous rock was already buried in the waves, while its summit was hollowed into a vast arch, suspended at the height of more than two hundred yards, which, by reverberating the sound, increased the noise of the reiterated dashings of the impetuous waves that broke against its sides.
Having passed the first two capes to the west of South Cape, we returned towards the latter, where we spent a very bad night, for unfortunately we were at no great distance from some stagnant waters, and the extreme calmness of the air exposed us to all the fury of the moschettoes.
5th. Morning being the time of low water, we hoped to be enabled, by its means, to procure some shell-fish, of which the bad quality of our provision made us feel a pressing want; but the breeze setting in from the sea disappointed us; by raising the water nearly as high as it would have been at flood tide. Thus we were obliged to content ourselves with our salt provision.
The cascade at South Cape, from which a great deal of water fell into the sea, when Captain Furneaux landed there, was nearly dry at this time. From the marks of its bed, however, it was easy to perceive that its run must be considerable in the rainy season.
We found a dead seal on the shore, of the species called phoca monacus. Two severe contusions on its head gave us reason to suppose, that it had been driven against some rocks by the violence of the waves, which it had not strength to surmount.
Bending our course toward our anchoring-place; we found two large pools to the east-north-east of South Cape; and as we went round them, we saw on their borders several burrows of kangarous. A new species of utricularia displayed its beautiful flowers on the surface of their tranquil waters. I was astonished that these stagnant pools did not. exhale a fetid smell, as is usually the case; but it is probable; that the water is speedily renewed by filtering through the ground.
It was three o'clock in the afternoon when we arrived on board. One of the gunners of the Esperance, named Boucher, we learned had died, during our absence, of a consumption.
6th and 7th. After haying described and prepared the subjects of natural history, which I had collected the preceding days, I employed the remainder of my time in visiting the low lands to the south-east. The woods here were easily penetrated, as the trees stood at some distance from each other. Almost every where I found the soil an excellent mould. I cut specimens of several sorts of wood, to find out the different uses for which each might be employed. That fine, tree, which I imagine to be of the coniferous family, and which I have already mentioned, gave considerable resistance to the saw; no doubt it will furnish the most compact timber of any of that family.
It had long been my wish, that the greater part of the seeds we had brought from Europe, capable of succeeding in this climate, might be Town on this part of the coast in a good mould sufficiently watered; but on my return I saw with regret that a very dry and very sandy spot, pretty near the head of the bay, had been dug up and sown.
Early in the morning of the 8th, the gardener and I, with two of the crew, set off for Port Dentrecasteaux, intending to spend two days in examining its environs. We landed at the mouth of the harbour, on its western side; and fortunately found ourselves on a bank of oysters, of which we collected an abundant store.
It was with pleasure we saw once more a place, which we had visited several times the preceding year. Most of the little rivulets we had then met with, and even that where we procured our water, were now dry.
We soon reached the head of the harbour, and found, as we proceeded up the river, very close and marshy thickets, which often retarded our progress.
Snakes are not common at Diemen's Cape, yet I saw two, sleeping in the sun, on large trunks of trees; on our approach they withdrew into the hollow trunks, that served them for a retreat. They were of the species I had found the year before, which is by no means dangerous.
Though the course of the river was obstructed by large trees at almost every step, we were obliged to go up it near a mile and half, before we could find one, by means of which we could cross to the opposite bank without too great difficulty.
From this place we proceeded north-east, traversing very commodiously a spacious plain, part of the vegetables growing on which had lately been burned by the natives. In a short time we reached the head of the great lake, along the borders of which we walked as far as the sea, and having travelled over a considerable extent of ground, we returned to its extremity, to spend the night near a rivulet, which we had already crossed. As the weather was very fine, we lay down to sleep in the open air, sheltered solely by large trunks of trees; that lay on the ground; but the piercing cold we felt soon obliged us to kindle a large fire.
It is remarkable, that the temperature of the air, at this extremity of New Holland, is sometimes 17° lower in the night than it was in the day. (From 23° to 6° of the mercurial thermometer graduated according to Reaumur, which is always to be understood). In fact this narrow land, lying in a pretty high latitude, is not very capable of long retaining the heat, which has been imparted to it by the rays of the sun. This great difference of temperature was very inconvenient to us, as it obliged us to encumber ourselves with clothes, which we found very troublesome in the day. I must observe, however, that the variation of the thermometer on board at the same time did not exceed 5° or 6°.
9th. As soon as day-light appeared, while the two men that accompanied us were full asleep, the gardener and I proceeded towards the part of the lake opposite that which we had visited the evening before.
I had the pleasure of collecting several species of mimosa with simple leaves, all the parts of fructification of which were unfolded. I had already some specimens, but they were very impeded.
After walking at least a couple of miles, we fancied we heard human voices before us. Redoubling our attention, we advanced a few steps, When a sudden cry, arising from several voices united, issued from one spot, and we perceived through the trees a number of the natives, most of whom appeared to be fishing on the borders of the lake. As we were unarmed, and ignorant of their intentions, we did not hesitate to return to our companions, each of whom had a musket; and immediately crossed through the wood, that the savages might not see us, lest they should be tempted to pursue us, on perceiving our flight.
When we had told our men the occasion of our return, I expressed my strong desire to have an interview with these people. It was necessary first, however, to prepare our means of defence, so that we might be able to avail ourselves of them in case of an assault. Accordingly we got ready a few cartridges, as fast as we could, and set out towards the place, where we had seen the natives. It was now only nine o'clock. We had gone only a few steps before we met them. The men and youths were ranged in front, nearly in a semi-circle; the women, children, and girls, were a few paces distant behind. As their manner did not appear to indicate any hostile design, I hesitated not to go up to the oldest, who accepted, with a very good grace, a piece of biscuit I offered him, of which he had seen me eat. I then held out my hand to him as a sign of friendship, and had the pleasure to perceive, that he comprehended my meaning very well; he gave me his, inclining himself a little, and raising at the same time the left foot, which he carried backward in proportion as he bent his body forward. These motions were accompanied by a pleasing smile.
My companions also advanced up to the others, and immediately the bet understanding prevailed among us. They received with great joy the neck-cloths which we offered them; the young people approached nearer to us; and one of them had the generosity to give me a few small shells of the whelk kind, pierced near the middle, and strung like a necklace. This ornament, which he called canlaride, was the only one he possessed, and he wore it round his head. A handkerchief supplied the place of this present, gratifying the utmost wishes of my savage, who advanced toward me, that I might tie it round his head for him, and who expressed the greatest joy, as he lifted his hand up to feel it again and again. We wore abundance of clothes, as I have already observed, on account of the coldness of the nights; and we bestowed the greater part on these islanders.
The women were very desirous of coming nearer to us; and though the men made signs to them, to keep at a distance, their curiosity was ready every moment to break through all other considerations. The gradual increase of confidence, however, that took place, obtained them permission to approach. It appeared to us very astonishing, that in so high a latitude, where, at period of the year so little advanced as the present, we already experienced the cold at night to be pretty severe, these people did not feel the necessity of clothing themselves. Even the women were for the most part entirely naked, as well as the men. Some of them only had the shoulders and part of the back covered with a kangarou's skin, worn with the hair next the body; and among these we observed two, each of whom had an infant at the breast. The sole garment of one was a strip of kangarou's skin, about two inches broad, which was wrapped six or seven times round the waist; another had a collar of skin round the neck; and some had a slender cord bound several times round the head. I afterwards learned, that most of these cords were fabricated from the bark of a shrub of the spurge family, very common in this country.
A pole-axe, which we used for cutting off some branches from the trees, excited the admiration of these people. As they perceived us willing to give them any thing in our possession, they did not scruple to beg it; and when we granted their request, they were overcome with joy. They were fully sensible of the value of our knives, likewise; and received a few tin vessels with pleasure. When I shewed them my watch, it attracted their desire; and one of them, in particular, expressed his wish to possess it; but he quickly desisted from his request, when he found, that I was not willing to part with it.
The readiness with which we gave them our things, no doubt, led them to presume, that they might take any thing belonging to us, without asking for it: this obliged us to set bounds to their desires; but we found, to our great satisfaction, that they returned to us, without the least resistance, such things as we could not dispense with for our own use.
I had given them several articles, without requiring any thing in return; but I wished to get a kangarou's skin, when, among the savages about us, there happened to be only a young girl, who had one. When I proposed to her, to give it me in exchange for a pair of pantaloons, then ran away, to hide herself in the woods. The other natives appeared truly hurt at her, refusal, and called to her several times. At length she yielded to their intreaties, and came to bring me the skin. Perhaps it was from timidity only, that she could not prevail on herself to part with this kind of garment; in return for which the received a pair of pantaloons, less useful to her, according to the customs of the ladies in this country, than the skin, which served to cover the shoulders. We shewed her the manner of wearing them; but, notwithstanding, it was necessary for us, to put them on for her ourselves. To this she yielded with the best grace in the world, resting both her hands on our shoulders, to support herself, while she lifted up first one leg, then the other, to put them into this new garment. Desirous of avoiding every cause of offence, we behaved with all the gravity we could on the occasion.
PLATE VI. Woman of Van Diemen's Land
This party of savages consisted of two-and-forty, seven of whom were men, eight women; the rest appeared to be their children; and among these we observed several marriageable girls, still less clothed than most of the mothers. We invited them all to come and sit near our fire; and when they arrived there, one of the savages informed us by unequivocal signs, that he had come to reconnoitre us during the night. That we might understand he had seen us asleep, he inclined his, head on one side, laying it on the palm of his right hand, and closing his eyes; and with the other he pointed out the spot, where we had passed the night. He then acquainted us, by signs equally expressive, that he was at the time on the other side of the brook, whence he observed us. In fact, one of us had been awakened about the middle of the night by a rustling among the branches, and had even fancied, that he heard some broken off: but, being greatly fatigued, he had soon fallen asleep again, persuaded it was a kangarou, that had come to visit us. Our fire had been a guide to this native, whom the party had seat to reconnoitre us; while we had slept with the utmost tranquillity, notwithstanding we had been at the mercy of these savages the whole night. One of the men that accompanied us, then said, that in the evening, at sun-set, he perceived some smoke on the other side of the lake, whence he presumed, that some of the natives were assembled there; but he forgot to mention it to us, when we joined them.
We were desirous of showing these savages the effects of our fire-arms, after having given them to understand, that they had nothing to fear. They appeared, however, to be a little frightened at their report.
These people have woolly hair, and let their beards grow. Plates VI, VII, and VIII, will give more accurate ideas of their persons, and exhibit the characteristics that distinguish them more strikingly, than a long and minute description. It may be observed (Plate VII), that in the children the upper jaw advances considerably beyond the lower; but sinking as they grow up, both jaws are nearly even in the adult. Their skin is not of a very deep black; but no doubt they consider extreme blackness as a beauty, for, in order to heighten this colour beyond its natural state, they rub themselves over, particularly on the upper parts of the body, with powdered charcoal.
On their skin, particularly on the breast and shoulders, may be observed tubercles symmetrically arranged, exhibiting sometimes lines four inches in length, at other times points placed at different distances. The application, by which these risings were produced, had not destroyed the cellular membrane, however, for they were of the same colour as the rest of the skin.
PLATE VII. Man of Van Diemen's Land—Child of Van Diemen's Land
The custom of extracting two of the front teeth of the upper jaw, which, from the accounts of some voyagers, had been supposed general among the inhabitants of this country, certainly has not been introduced into this tribe; for we did not see one among them, in whom a single tooth of the upper jaw was wanting; and indeed they had all very good teeth.
One of the sailors, that accompanied us, thought he could not regale them better than with a glass of brandy; but, accustomed to; drink nothing but water, they quickly spit it out, and it seemed to have given them a very disagreeable sensation.
These savages, going completely naked, are liable to wound themselves, particularly in the lower extremities, when they pass through the woods. We observed one, who walked with difficulty, and one of whose feet was wrapped up in a piece of skin.
I had not perceived the young girls for some time, and imagined that they had all retired into the woods; but happening to look behind me, I saw, with surprise, seven who had perched themselves on a rout limb of a tree; more than three yards from the ground, whence they attentively watched our slightest movements. As they all squatted on the bough, they formed a pleasing group.
We were at, a considerable distance from the shore, where a boat was to wait for us, to take us on board. It was time for us to be on our way toward it. We were quitting this peaceable party with regret, when we saw the men and four of the youths separating from the rest, iii order to accompany us. One of the most robust presently went into the wood, whence he returned almost instantly, holding in his hand two long spears. As he came near, he made signs to us, that we need be under no apprehensions; on the contrary, it appeared as if he were desirous of protecting us with his arms. No doubt they had left their weapons in the wood, when they came to meet us in the morning, that they might give us no alarm.
The other natives, whom we, had just quitted, approached our party. Immediately on our requesting him, who carried the spears, to give us a specimen of his dexterity, he grasped one of them with the right hand near the middle, then raising it as high as his head, and holding it horizontally, he drew it back toward himself three times following with a jerk, which gave it a very perceptible tremulous movement at each extremity, when he darted it forward near a hundred paces. The weapon, supported throughout its whole length by the column of air beneath it, flew in a tolerably horizontal direction more than three fourths of the distance. The tremulous motion impressed on it contributed, unquestionably, to accelerate its progress, and to support it longer in the air.
The savage was very ready to gratify our wishes, by launching his spear several times following. He then aimed at an object, which we pointed out to him, and every time was near enough to it, to give us a high idea of his skill. Presently after another showed us two holes in a kangarou's skin, which had been made apparently with the point of a spear, giving us thus to understand, that they employed this weapon to kill these animals. In reality, they launched it with sufficient force to pierce the animal through and through.
At length we parted with our new guides, whose pace was sufficiently flow for us to follow them with ease. It seemed as if they were not accustomed to take a long walk without interruption; for we had scarcely been half an hour on our way, before they invited is to sit down, saying mèdi; and we immediately stopped. This halt lasted but a few minutes, when they rose, saying to us tangara, which signifies "let us set off". On this we resumed our journey; and they made us halt again, in the same manner, four times, at nearly equal distances.
The attentions lavished on us by these savages astonished us. If our path were interrupted by heaps of dry branches, some of them walked before, and removed them to either side; they even broke off such as stretched across our way from the trees that had fallen down.
We could not walk on the dry grass without slipping every moment, particularly where the ground was sloping; but these good savages, to prevent our sailing, took hold of us by the arm, and thus supported us. We found it difficult to persuade them that none of us would fall, even, if unassisted; and they continued, nevertheless, to bestow on us these marks of affectionate kindness; nay, they frequently stationed themselves, one on each side, to support us the better. As they obstinately persisted in paying us this obliging attention, we no longer declined it.
They no doubt conceived it to be our intention to return to Port Dentrecasteaux, for we were twice mistaken in the road, and they both times pointed out to as that which led directly to it.
A trifling incident gave us reason to presume, that they sometimes catch birds with their hands. A paroquet, of the species figured in Plate X. which I shall describe presently, flew by us, and pitched on the ground at a little distance. Immediately two of the young savages set off to catch it, and were on the point of putting their hands upon it, when the bird took wing.
It may be presumed, that there are no snakes at Diemen's Cape, the bite of which is to be dreaded; at least, if there be any such, the natives well know how to distinguish them. They pointed out one to us, gliding through the grass very near them, yet they did not appear to be under the least apprehension from it.
At length they brought us near the place, where we had anchored the year before. The oldest of then was very thirsty; and immediately made one of the youths fetch him an oyster-shell, to serve as a cup, which he emptied several times before his thirst was quenched.
As we were very near the garden, which had been formed the preceding year by Citizen Lahaye, gardener to the expedition, we resolved to visit it; and took the opportunity, when the savages had seated themselves. We wished to leave them with our two sailors, lest they should go and do any injury to such vegetables as might have succeeded; but one of them was resolved to accompany us. He examined attentively the plants in the garden, and pointed them out with his finger, appearing to distinguish them perfectly from their indigenous vegetables. We saw, with regret, that there remained only a small number of cabbages, a few potatoes, some radishes, cresses, wild succory, and sorrel, all in a bad condition: no doubt they would have succeeded better, had they been sown nearer a rivulet, which we observed to the west. I expected to have found some cresses at least sown on its banks; that I did not must surely have been owing to forgetfulness on the part of the gardener.
Our boat was not yet arrived. We were very desirous that these savages should have a near view of it; and we hoped, likewise, to be able to prevail on some of them to go on board with us; but they were already leaving us to rejoin their families. At our invitation, however, they deferred their departure, and we walked together along the beach toward the entrance of the harbour. Some trees, that lay on the ground along the shore, gave them an opportunity of displaying their agility to us by leaping over them. We were too much fatigued to give them an exhibition of what we were capable of doing; but I believe, savages as they were, they would have found themselves excelled by an European tolerably expert at this exercise.
As soon as the boat came, we invited some of them to go on board her with us. After taking a long while to resolve on it, three of them contented to get into the boat; but it appeared that they had no intention to quit their party, for they got out again in great haste, as soon as we prepared to push off from the shore.
We then saw them walk with tranquillity along the sea-side, looking toward us from time to time, and uttering cries of joy.
10th. The next day we returned in a large party to these savages.
We rowed along the shore, beyond Port Dentrecasteaux, for some time, when a fire we perceived not far from the sea-side induced us to land.
Some of the natives soon came to meet us, expressing by their cries the pleasure they felt at seeing us again.
Our musician had brought on shore his violin, imagining that he should excite as much enthusiasm among them by some noisy tunes, as we had observed in the islanders at Bouka; but his self-love was truly mortified, at the indifference shown to his performance here. Savages, in general, are not very sensible to the tones of stringed instruments.
As we ascended the heights that skirt the sea, we soon found a party of those natives, by whom we had been so civilly received the day before. A lively joy was depicted on all their features, when they saw us drawing near. There were nineteen of them, round three small fires, making their meal on barnacles, which they roasted on the coals, and ate as fast as they were ready. Every now and then some of the women went to pick these shell-fish from under the neighbouring rocks, and did not return till they had filled their baskets with them. On the same fires we observed them broil that species of sea-wrack, which is called fucus palmatus, and when it was softened to a certain point, they tore it to pieces to eat it.
The pains taken by one of the mothers to quiet her infant, yet at the breast, who cried at the first sight of us, appeared to us very engaging. She could not pacify him, till she covered his eyes with her hand, that he might not see us.
None of these people appeared with arms; but, probably, they had left them in the wood near for several of us having expressed an intention of going into it, one of the savages urgently entreated them not to go that way. Our people did not persist in it, lest they should give them some cause of mistrust; part of the boat's crew, however, in order to deceive the vigilance of this centinel, walked a little way along the shore, that they might enter the wood, without being observed by him; but no sooner did one of the women perceive their design, than she uttered horrible cries, to give notice to the other savages, who intreated them to return toward the sea.
We did not know to what to ascribe their repugnance for our viands, but they would taste none that we offered them. They would not even suffer their children to eat the sugar we gave them, being very careful to take it out of their mouths the moment they were going to taste it. Yet their confidence in us was so great, that one of the women, who was suckling a child, was not afraid to entrust it to several of us.
I imagined that these people, passing most of their nights in the open air, in a climate of which the temperature is so variable, must have been subject to violent inflammations of the eyes; yet all of them appeared to have their sight very good, one only excepted, who had a cataract.
Some of them sat on kangarou skins, and some others had a little pillow, which they called roéré, near a quarter of a yard long, and covered with skin, on which they rested one of their elbows.
We observed with surprize, the singular posture of the women, when they sit on the ground. Though for the most part they are entirely naked, it appears to be a point of decorum with these ladies, as they sit with their knees asunder, to cover with one foot, what modesty bids them conceal in that situation.
These people seemed to be so nearly in a state of nature, that their most trifling anions appeared to me worthy of observation. I shall not pals over in silence, therefore, the correction a father gave one of his children, for having thrown a stone at the back of another younger than himself; it was merely a light slap on the shoulder, which made him shed tears, and prevented his doing so again.
The painter to the expedition expressed to these savages a with of having his skin covered like theirs with the powder of charcoal. His request, as might naturally be supposed, was favourably received; and immediately one of the natives selected some of the most friable coals, which he ground to powder by rubbing them between his hands. This powder he applied to all the parts of the body that were uncovered, employing nothing to make it adhere beside the rubbing of the hand, and our friend Piron was presently as black as a New-Hollander. The savage appeared highly satisfied with his performance, which he finished by gently blowing off the dust that adhered very slightly, taking particular care to remove all that might have gotten into the eyes.
When we departed for Port Dentrecasteaux, more than half these peaceable natives rose to accompany us. Four young girls also were of the party, who received with indifference the garments we gave them, and, that they might not be encumbered with an useless burden, immediately hung them on the bushes near the path, intending, no doubt, to take them with them on their return. As a proof that they set little value on such presents, we did not see on any of them one of the garments that we had given them the day before. Three of these young women were marriageable, and all of them were of very cheerful dispositions. In one of them it was observed that the right breast had acquired its full size, while the left was still perfectly flat. This temporary deformity had no effect on the liveliness of her manner. They several times ran races on the shore, which was very smooth, and some of us endeavoured to catch them; when we had the pleasure to see, that Europeans could frequently run better than these savages.
The men followed with a grave pace, each carrying his hands resting one against the other upon his loins; or sometimes the left hand passing behind the back, and grasping the right arm about the middle.
No doubt we lost much by not understanding the language of these natives, for one of the girls said a great deal to us; she talked a long while with extraordinary volubility; though she must have perceived that we could not comprehend her meaning no matter, she must talk.
The others attempted more than once to charm us by songs, with the modulation of which I was singularly struck, from the great analogy of the tunes to those of the Arabs in Asia Minor. Several times two of them sung the same tune at once, but always one, a third above the other, forming a concord with the greatest justness.
Amid these sands grew a species of ficoides, in almost every point resembling the mesembryanthemum edule, or eatable fig-marigold of the Hottentots. It differed completely in the colour of the flowers, indeed, which were red, while those of the fig-marigold of the Hottentots are yellow; but it bore fruit like it, much resembling in flavour a very ripe apple. This fruit is a delicacy among the New-Hollanders, who seek for it with care, and eat it as soon as they find it.
During this long walk, some of our companions took us by the arm from time to time to assist us.
One of the young girls having perceived at a distance a head, which the gunner of the Esperance had carved on the stump of a tree, appeared at first extremely surprized, and stopped short for a moment. She then went up to it with us, and, after having considered it attentively, named to us the different parts, pointing them out at the same time with the hand.
Soon after we arrived at the entrance of Port Dentrecasteaux.
Two of the young girls followed the different windings of the shore without mistrust; at a distance from the other natives, with three of out sailors, when these took the opportunity of one of the most retired places, to treat them with a degree of freedom, which was received in a very different manner from what they had hoped. The young women immediately fled to the rocks most advanced into the sea, and appeared ready to leap into it, and swim away, if our men had followed them. They presently repaired to the place, where we were assembled with the other savages; but it seems they did not disclose this adventure, for the most perfect harmony continued to prevail between us.
Wishing to know whether these islanders were expert swimmers, one of our officers jumped into the water, and dived several times; but it was in vain that he invited them to follow his example. They are very good divers, however, as we had afterwards an opportunity of seeing, for it is by diving they procure a considerable part of their food. We invited them to eat with us some oysters and lobsters, which we had just roasted on the coals; but they all refused, one excepted, who tasted a lobster. At first we imagined that it was yet too early for their meal-time; but in this we were mistaken, for it was not long before they took their repast. They themselves, however, dressed their food, which was shell-fish of the same kinds, but much more roasted than what we had offered them.
We observed some of the savages employed in cutting little bits of wood in the form of a spatula, and smoothing them with a shell, for the purpose of separating from the rocks limpets and sea-cars, on which they feast as they get ready.
The time for our returning on board arrived, but none of the natives would accompany us, they all leaving us, and retiring into the woods.
11th. The engineer-geographer of the Recherche went in the barge on the 11th in the morning, to examine the extent of the vast bay that is at the entrance of Dentrecasteaux strait. For this strait we were soon to set sail.
In the course of the day we quitted all the places we had occupied on shore during our stay in Rocky Bay. The repairs of both vessels were finished. The trial made the year before of the wood of the eucalyptus globulus, induced our carpenters to employ it in preference to the other species of the same genus.
PLATE X. Black spotted Parroquet of Van Diemen's Land
For my part I entered into the thick woods to the north-west of us. Several species of shrubs, of the pistacia family, grow under the shade of the large trees; and the fagara evodia distinguished itself by its beautiful foliage. In these gloomy places the eye rested with pleasure on the carpodontos lucida, the branches of which were quite covered with fine white flowers.
As I advanced toward the south-west, I crossed some open spots, where I killed a beautiful species of paroquet, which I distinguish by the name of the black-spotted paroquet of Diemen's Cape (See Plate X.). I had already met with it in several other places, but always such as were low, and destitute of covert. Very different from the known species of the same genus, it does not perch, for I uniformly observed it rise from among the grass, on which it almost immediately settled again. The shape of the feet, which are furnished with very long claws but little curved, sufficiently indicate the manners of the bird. Its plumage is green, spotted with black; some of the spots being surrounded with little yellowish bands. The under part of the wings is ashen-grey, with a broad band of pale yellow. Under the belly the black and yellow predominate. The under feathers of the tail are remarkable for transverse bands, alternately black and pale yellow. A few small reddish feathers are observable at the bale of the beak at the upper part of the superior mandible.
12th. The next day a great number of us, from both ships, landed near Port Dentrecasteaux, to endeavour to see the savages again. It was not. long before some of them came to meet us, giving us tokens of the greatest confidence. They first examined with great attention the insides of our boats, and then they took us by the arm, and invited us to follow them along the shore.
We had scarcely gone a mile before we found ourselves in the midst of eight-and-forty of the natives; ten men, fourteen women, and twenty-four children, among whom we observed as many girls as boys. Seven fires were burning, and round each was assembled a little family.
The least of the children, frightened at the sight of such a number of Europeans, immediately took refuge in the arms of their mothers, who lavished on them marks of the greatest affection. The fears of the children were soon removed; and they showed us, that they were not exempt from little passions, whence arose differences, to which the mothers almost immediately put an end by slight correction; but they soon found it necessary to stop their tears by caresses.
We knew already that these savages had little taste for the violin; but we flattered ourselves that they would not be altogether insensible to its tones, if lively tunes, and very distinct in their measure, were played. At first they left us in doubt for some time; on which our musician redoubled his exertions, in hopes of obtaining their applause; but the bow dropped from his hand, when he beheld the whole assembly stopping their ears with their fingers, that they might hear no more.
These people are covered with vermin. We admired the patience of a mother, who was a long while employed in freeing one of her children from them; but we observed with disgust that, like most of the blacks, she crushed these filthy insects between her teeth, and then swallowed them. It is to be remarked, that apes have the same custom.
The little children were very desirous of every thing shining, and were not afraid to come up to us, to endeavour to pull off our buttons. Their mothers, less curious with respect to their own dress than that of their children, held them to us, that we might decorate them with the ornaments which we had intended for themselves.
I ought not to omit a waggish trick, which a young savage played one of our people. The sailor had laid down a bag full of shell-fish at the foot of a rock; the youth slily removed it to another place, and let him search for it a long time in vain; at length he replaced it where the sailor had left it, and was highly diverted with the trick he had played him.
This numerous party was transported with admiration, when they saw the effects of gunpowder thrown on the burning coals. They all intreated us to let them have the pleasure of seeing it several times.
Not being able to persuade themselves that we had none but men among us, they long believed, notwithstanding all we could say, that the youngest of us were women. Their curiosity on this head carried them further than we should have expected, for they were not to be convinced, till they had assured themselves of the fact.
The women have adopted a mode which I imagine our belles will never imitate, though it occasions the disappearance of a considerable part of the wrinkles that pregnancy occasions. They have the skin of the abdomen marked with three large semicircular risings, one above the other whether from coquetry, or not, would be difficult to determine.
PLATE IV. Natives of Van Diemen's Land fishing
One of the savages had several marks of very recent burns on the head. Perhaps they employ the actual cautery in many diseases, which is an established practice among various other people, and particularly among most of the Indians.
About noon we saw them prepare their repast. Hitherto we had but a faint idea of the pains the women take to procure the food requisite for the subsistence of their families. They took each a basket, and were followed by their daughters, who did the same. Getting on the rocks, that projected into the sea, they plunged from them to the bottom in search of shell-fish. When they had been down some time, we became very uneasy on their account; for where they had dived were sea-weeds of great length, among which we observed the fucus pyriferus, and we feared that they might have been entangled in these, so as to be unable to regain the surface. At length, however, they appeared, and convinced us that they were capable of remaining under water twice as long as our ablest divers. An instant was sufficient for them to take breath, and then they dived again. This they did repeatedly, till their baskets were nearly full. Most of them were provided with a little bit of wood, cut into the shape of a spatula, of which I spoke above; and with these they separated from beneath the rocks, at great depths, very large sea-ears. Perhaps they choose the biggest, for all they brought were of a great size.
On seeing the large lobsters, which they had in their baskets, we were afraid that they must have wounded these poor women terribly with their large claws; but we soon found, that they had taken the precaution to kill them as soon as they caught them. They quitted the water only to bring their husbands the fruits of their labour; and frequently returned almost immediately to their diving, till they had procured a sufficient meal for their families. At other times they staid a little while to warm, themselves, with their faces toward the fire on which their fish was roasting, and other little fires burning behind them, that they might be warmed on all sides at once.
It seemed as is they were unwilling to lose a moment's time, for while they were warming themselves, they were employed in roasting fish; some of which they laid on the coals with the utmost caution though they took little care of the lobsters, which they threw any where into the fire, and when they were ready, they divided the claws among the men and children, reserving the body for themselves, which they sometimes ate before they returned into the water.
It gave us great pain to see these poor women condemned to such severe toil; while, at the same time, they ran the hazard of being devoured by sharks, or entangled among the weeds that rise from the bottom of the sea. We often intreated their husbands to take a share in their labour at least, but always in vain. They remained constantly near the fire, feasting on the best bits, and eating broiled fucus, or fern-roots. Occasionally they took the trouble to break boughs of trees into short pieces, to feed the fire, taking care to choose the driest. From their manner of breaking them, we found that their skulls must be very hard; for, taking hold of the sticks at each end with the hand, they bent them over their heads, as we do at the knee, till they broke. Their heads being constantly bare, and often exposed to all weathers, in this high latitude, acquire a capacity of resisting such efforts: besides, their hair forms a cushion, which diminishes the pressure, and renders it much less painful on the summit of the head, than on any other part of the body. Few of the women, however, could have done as much; for some had their hair cut pretty short, and wore a string several times round the head, others had only a simple crown of hair. (See Plates IV. and V.) We made the same observation with respect to, several of the children, but none of the men. These had the back, breast, shoulders, and arms, covered with downy hair.
Two of the stoutest of the party were sitting in the midst of their children, and each had two women by his side. They informed us by signs, that these were their wives, and gave us a fresh proof that polygamy is, established among them. The other women, who had only one husband, were equally careful to let us know it. It would be difficult to say which are the happiest; as the most laborious of their domestic occupations devolve upon them, the former had the advantage of a partner in them, which perhaps might sufficiently compensate their having only a share in their husband's affections.
PLATE V. Natives of Van Diemen's Land preparing their Repast
Their meal had continued a long time, and we were much surprized that not one of them had yet, drank; but this they deferred, till they were fully satisfied with eating. The women and girls then went to fetch water with the vessels of sea-weed, of which I have already spoken, getting it at the first place they came to and setting it down by the men, who drank it without ceremony, though it was very muddy and stagnant. Then they finished their repast.
When we returned toward Port Dentrecasteaux; most of the savages accompanied us; and before they left us, they gave us to understand, that, in two days, by proceeding along the shore, they should be very near our ships. To inform us that they should make this journey in two days, they pointed out with their hands the diurnal motion of the sun, and expressed the number two by as many of their fingers.
When we re-embarked to go on board, these good people followed us with their eyes for some time, before they left the shore, and then they disappeared in the woods. Their way brought them at times to the shore again, of which we were immediately informed by the cries of joy, with which they made the air resound. These testimonies of pleasure did not cease till we lost sight of them from the distance.
During the whole time we spent with them, nothing appeared to indicate that they had any chiefs. Each family, on the contrary, seemed to us, to live in perfect independence; though we observed in the children the greatest subordination to their parents, and in the women the same to their husbands. It appeared, that the women were careful to avoid giving their husbands any occasion for jealousy; though, when we returned on board, one of the crew boasted of the favours he had received from one of the beauties of Cape Diemen; but it is difficult to say, how far his story was founded on truth.
13th. On the 24th I made an excursion to the south-east, where I found an opportunity of adding, to the observations I had already made respecting the different productions of the country.
14th. The next day, every thing was ready for our departure, and we waited only for a fair wind to set sail; but being delayed by a calm, we saw with pleasure, that the savages, who, at our last interview, had promised to come near our anchoring-place within two days, had kept their words. In fact, a little before noon we perceived a fire not far from our watering-place; and there could be no doubt that it was kindled by them, as all our crew were on board. A great number of us immediately repaired in several boats to the place of rendezvous. It was the first time that General Dentrecasteaux had the pleasure of seeing any of the natives. They soon quitted their fire, and proceeded for some time through the paths made in the wood along the shore, in order to come still nearer to us. We went to meet them; and when we were near them they stopped, appearing well pleased at seeing us come ashore. There were five of them. One of them carried a piece of decayed wood in his hand, lighted at one end, and burning slowly. He used this kind of match in order to keep fire, and amused himself now and then with setting it to a tuft, where there were some very dry herbs. The others being invited by some of our crew to dance in a ring with them, imitated all their movements tolerably well. We made them presents of a great number of things, which they let us hang round their necks with strings, and soon they were almost covered with them, apparently to their great satisfaction; but they gave us nothing, for they had brought nothing with them, probably that they might walk with the more facility.
A native, to whom we had just given a hatchet, displayed great dexterity at striking several times following in the same place, thus attempting to imitate one of our sailors, who had cut down a tree. We showed him that he must strike in different places, so as to cut out a notch, which he did immediately; and was transported with joy when the tree was felled by his strokes. They were astonished at the quickness with which we sawed the trunk in two; and we made them a present of some hand-saws, which they used with great readiness, as soon as we had shown them the way.
From the manner in which we had seen them procure fish, we had reason to presume that they had no fish-hooks: accordingly we gave them some of ours, and taught them how to use them, congratulating ourselves at having supplied them with the means of diminishing one of the most fatiguing employments of the women.
These savages were much surprised at seeing us kindle the spongy bark of the eucalyptus resinifera in the focus of a burning glass. He who appeared the most intelligent among them, desirous of trying the effects of the lens himself, threw the converging rays of the sun upon his thigh by its means; but the pain he felt, took from him all inclination of repeating the experiment.
We let one of the natives see our ships through a good perspective-glass, and he soon yielded to our solicitations, to go on board the Recherche in one of our boats. He went up the side with an air of confidence, and examined the inside of the ship with much attention. His looks were then directed chiefly to such objects as might serve for food. Led by the similitude in shape, between the black swans of Cape Diemen and the geese of Guinea, which he saw on board, ho asked for one, giving us to understand that it was to eat. When he came opposite to our hen-coops, he appeared struck with the beauty of a very large cock, which was presented to him; and on receiving it he let us know, that he would lose no time in broiling and eating it. After having remained on board more than half an hour, and been loaded with presents, he desired to return, and was immediately carried ashore. We had taken an ape on shore with us, which afforded much amusement to the savages; and one of the crew took a goat with him, which formed a subject of conversation for them a long time, and to which they occasionally spoke, saying, medi (sit down).
They have given particular names to every vegetable. We assured ourselves, that their botanical knowledge was unequivocal, by asking several of them, at different times, the names of the same plants.
In this interview we had an opportunity of adding considerably to the vocabulary of their language, which we had before begun to collect, and which will be found at the end of this work. On comparing it with the vocabulary, which several voyagers have given us, of the language of the people on the eastern coast of New Holland, it will be seen, that it has no affinity with them; which proves, that all these people have not one common, origin.
The savage, who had been oar board our vessel, was not long before he quitted us, expressing much gratitude, and pointing to the cock, which he took upon one of his shoulders.
The rest, before they went away, gave us to understand, that the next day their families would be at the place where we were; but they appeared to apprehend our meaning, when we acquainted them that we should sail the same day, and seemed to be much grieved at it.
Our observatory, erected to the south-south-east of the place where we lay at anchor, and a little more than half a mile distant from it, was in latitude 43° 34' 37" south, and longitude 144° 37' east.
A great number of observations made on board gave us for the variation of the needle 7° 34' east, while at the observatory we found only 2° 55' east variation. A difference so great must unquestionably have arisen from some magnetic point; besides, we had already found indications of ferruginous substances at a very little distance from the place. It is remarkable that, at the observatory of the Esperance, which was about six hundred yards only from that of the Recherche, the variation of the needle was 8° east. We satisfied ourselves that this difference was not owing to the compasses used, for we found it the same when we made an exchange between them, by removing them from one observatory to the other.
The dip of the needle was 72° at the observatory of the Recherche, and 71° at that of the Esperance.
During our stay in Rocky Bay, the winds varied from north-west to south-west, and frequently in heavy squalls. The sky was seldom clear, but we had little rain.
The tides were perceptible only once in twenty-four hours. As the wind influenced them much, we could not determine with precision the time of high-water at the full and change of the moon. Their greatest perpendicular rise was only five feet, or a little more.
During this stay, our sailors lost much of their ardour for fishing; for this laborious occupation, in which they were employed chiefly by night, did not exempt them from the duties of the ship in the day; so that, after having sitten up to fish, they were obliged to work all day, as well as those who had enjoyed their regular sleep in the night. Care should have been taken, however, not to damp the zeal of our fishers, for it was an object of general importance to all, to procure an ample supply of fresh provision; besides, it was unjust not to allow at least a few hours rest in the day to men, who had been spending the night in procuring agreeable and salubrious food for all the rest of the crew.
We set ashore here a she-goat and a young he-goat, in hopes of naturalizing these animals in New Holland, as they could not fail to thrive on the mountains at this extremity of the country, and prove at some future period a great resource to navigators; it is only to be feared, that the savages may destroy them, before they have had time to propagate their breed.
Departure from Rocky Bay to pass through
Dentrecasteaux Strait—The Ships run aground in this
Strait—Various Excursions into the neighbouring
Country—Interview with the Natives—They had left
their Weapons in the Woods, and resumed them on their
Return—We anchor in Adventure Bay.
AT day-break we set sail from Rocky Bay, with a south-west wind, and steered east-north-east till we reached its mouth, intending to cast anchor in Dentrecasteaux Strait.
Some of the natives gave us notice of their presence by several fires, which they had lighted on the eastern coast.
We had already crossed the great road, which is at the beginning of the Strait, and were running along, very close to the larboard shore, when, about half after one, P.M. we struck on a small shoal, consisting of sand mixed with mud. The ebb had just begun to set the current against us; and the tide falling lower and lower, we were obliged to wait till half after six for high water, to let us afloat again. The Esperance had gotten still deeper in the sand than we, for she was not able to get off till near eight o'clock.
Our boat, which had been sent off five days before, returned, after having discovered several very deep creeks, that formed excellent anchoring places, but without finding any river. It is remarkable, that all we had seen at Cape Diemen were small, which indicates a very broken country.
The boat was laded with black swans, shot by our people, whom they suffered to come very near them. It was not easy to get those that had been merely wounded; for, as they could still swim with great speed, it was necessary to row hard, to catch them even then.
16th. During the whole night we saw several fires, which the natives had kindled on the borders of the sea toward the south-south-east, near two miles from the place where we had anchored.
We hoped that a fair wind would have allowed us to set sail again in the morning; but the mind proving contrary, the General determined that he would remain at anchor till the next day. Accordingly we went ashore toward the southeast, on some low ground, whence it was easy to reach Adventure Bay in a short time.
Among the different shrubs that constitute the ornaments of these places, I shall mention one, which I refer to the genus, that I have already described under the name of mazeutoxeron. It agrees with this genus in all its characters; only the petals, which are distinct at the base, adhere together at the middle of their edges, but they may be separated without breaking them. The style is simple and acute.
To this new species I give the name of mazeutoxeron reflexum, on account of its leaves, which are inclined toward the ground. They are hairy and whitish beneath.
The flowers are greenish, solitary, and issue out between two small oval leaves; toward the middle of the peduncle they have two filiform appendices a little larger than the calyx.
PLATE XIX. Mazeutoxeron reflexum
Explanation of the Figures, Plate XIX.
Fig. 1. A branch.
Fig. 2. The flower.
Fig. 3. The corolla.
Fig. 4. The corolla displayed, to show how the petals adhere together laterally.
Fig. 5. The calyx, with the stamens and germen, the corolla having been removed.
Fig. 6. The capsule, beneath which the calyx is seen.
Fig. 7. One of the valves of the capsule.
Citizen Beaupré, engineer geographer, set off in the evening, in the General's barge, for the great creek, which we had perceived the preceding year to the north, in sailing out of Dentrecasteaux Strait. The principal object was, to ascertain whether it had any opening that communicated with the main sea, and whether the island of Maria was really separated from the land of New Holland; for this had not been sufficiently resolved by Marion, or even by Captain Cook.
The wind continuing to the north all the 17th, prevented our weighing anchor, and we went ashore, while our fishers proceeded toward the mouth of the strait. The flood brought in with it a considerable quantity of fish, and they caught several species of ray of a large size. Some were found to weigh upwards of two hundred and sixty pounds.
We got under way the next morning; but the wind was too faint, to enable us to stem the current, which set against us, so that we quickly let go our anchor again.
Toward noon some of the natives appeared on the eastern shore, about half a mile from our ship. Some others soon joined them; and we could count as many as ten, when they kindled a fire, and seated themselves round it. From time to time they answered with shouts of joy the shouts of our sailors. We hastened on shore in a large party, to have a nearer view of them; and where we were but a little way from the beach, they advanced toward us without arms, their smiling countenances leaving us no room to doubt that our visit gave them pleasure. They were as destitute of clothes as those whom we had seen in the neighbourhood of Port Dentrecasteaux; but we were much surprised to see most of them holding the extremity of the prepuce with the left hand; no doubt from a bad habit, for we did not observe any thing of the kind among some others, who soon after joined them. Their joy was expressed by loud bursts of laughter; at the same time they carried their hands to their heads, and made a quick tapping with their feet on the ground, while their countenances showed, that they were well pleased to see us.
We invited them to sit down, speaking in the language of the other natives, whom we had already met with at this extremity of New Holland; and they understood us very well, immediately acceding to our invitation. They understood likewise the other words of the language of these people, which we had collected from them, and we had no doubt, that they spoke the same tongue; yet Anderson has given to the public some, words of the language of the people of Adventure Bay, which have no similitude to those, that we had an opportunity of acquiring and verifying.
These savages expressed much thankfulness, when we gave them a few small pieces of stuffs of different colours, glass beads, a hatchet, and some other articles of hardware.
Several other savages came out of the wood, and approached us. There was no woman among them, but there were some young men. Among these was one of the middle size, whose figure, which we all admired, was very finely proportioned, even in the judgment of our painter. From his dress we presumed this savage to be a New Holland beau; he was tatooed with great symmetry, and his hair, plastered with grease, was well powdered with ochre.
One of the natives gave us to understand, that he had seen vessels in Adventure Bay before: probably he spoke of Bligh; who had anchored there in the beginning of 1792, as we learned some days, after from several inscriptions, which we found carved on the trunks of trees.
An officer belonging to our ship imagined, that he should not frighten them, by letting them see the effects of our fire-arms; but as most of them were not previously informed of his design, they were alarmed at the report of the gun, immediately role, and would not sit down again. Supposing their wives and children were retired to a little distance in the wood, we expressed to them our wishes to see them join us; and the savages informed us that we should find them, after walking some time across the wood in a path, which led toward the south-south-west, and which they immediately took, inviting us to follow them. This we did; but it was not long before they expressed their desire to see us return toward our ships, and parted from us, frequently looking back to watch our motions.
On my pronouncing the word quangloa, however, which signifies, in their language, will you come, they stopped, and I went up to them with one of the officers of the Recherche. They continued to lead us along the same path, which appeared much frequented, and we walked slowly, that our people might have time to join us. In this way we walked on for a quarter of an hour; holding them by the arm, when on a sudden they quickened their pace, so that it was not easy for us to follow them farther. It appeared to us, that they wished we should leave them, for some of them would not allow us to hold them by the arm any longer, and walked by themselves, at some distance from us. One of our crew, desirous of rejoining one of the fugitives, ran after him, bawling out with all his might; and this alarmed all the rest, who immediately hastened away, and kept at a considerable distance from us. No doubt they were desirous to reach the place where they had deposited their weapons unaccompanied; for, after having again quickened their pace, they struck out of the path a little, and presently we saw them with three or four spears each, which they carried away, most of them proceeding toward Adventure Bay, which others took their course to the west. They then invited us to follow them; but we were not willing to go any farther, for we had no desire to imitate them in their course, and besides it was time for us to return on board.
These natives appeared to us to have the greatest resemblance to those whom we had seen a few days before; only we observed some, in whom one of the middle teeth of the upper jaw was wanting, and others in whom both were gone. We could not learn the object of this custom; but it is not general, for the greater part of the people had all their teeth.
They appeared to be equally ignorant with the others of the use of the bow.
Almost all of them were tatooed with raised points, sometimes placed in two lines, one over the other, much in the shape of a horse-shoe; though frequently these points were in three straight and parallel lines on each side of the breast; some were observed, too, toward the bottom of the shoulder blades, and in other places.
In many the navel appeared puffed up, and very prominent, but we assured ourselves, that this deformity was not occasioned by a hernia. Perhaps it is owing to the too great distance from the abdomen, at which the umbilical cord is separated.
They acquainted us that they lived upon fish, as well as the other inhabitants of Cape Diemen; yet I must observe, that we did not see a single person who had the least trace of any disease of the skin; which by no means agrees with the opinion of those, who maintain, that ichthyophagi are subject to a species of leprosy. Historians even assert, that such of the Greeks as would not adopt in Egypt the regimen prescribed by Orpheus, were attacked by the elephantiasis.
Soon after sun-set we arrived on board; when, the wind having become fair, we weighed, and proceeded two leagues farther, where we dropped anchor again.
19th. The next morning we got up our anchor pretty early, but were obliged to let it go again almost immediately, as the wind became foul.
I then landed on the eastern shore, whence I penetrated into the woods, taking paths much frequented by the savages. It was not long before I perceived a new species of exocarpos, which I call exocarpos expansa, because its branches spread much wider from each other than those of the exocarpos cupressiformis. Its fruit is larger than that of the latter species.
Two guns from the Recherche informed us, that the was preparing to get up her anchor, and immediately we repaired on board. By five o'clock we were under sail, but the breeze was so faint, that we had made little way when night came. From the place where we came to an anchor we reckoned now we had not above a couple of leagues to the extremity of the strait; but we were so delayed by the winds and currents, that it was four days longer, before we could clear it.
In this interval the barge, which the General had dispatched for the purpose of making geographical researches, returned after five days absence. Citizen Beaupré had discovered several bays before unknown; the farthest to the north extended to 42° 42' of S. lat., and the easternmost reached to the longitude of Cape Pillar. He had seen the channel, which separates the Island of Maria from the mainland.
It was with astonishment we saw the prodigious number of sheltered situations, which, from Cape South to the meridian of Cape Pillar, offer a continued chain of excellent anchoring places, in a space including about sixteen leagues from east to west, and about twenty from north to south.
Fresh water appears to be very scarce in these bays at this season; yet near the head of that, which stretches farthest to the north, there is a river, where, about fifty paces distant from its month, there is perfectly fresh water of the depth of six feet, even within an hour after flood-tide; for its current is sufficiently rapid to repel the water of the sea, and prevent its mingling with the stream.
On the 24th, about half after eleven in the morning, we anchored in Adventure Bay, in eleven fathoms water; on a bottom of mud mixed with a small portion of sand.
The nearest shore bore from us south-east, distant five furlongs, and Penguin Island north 51° east.
Immediately a boat was dispatched, to see whether it were easy to furnish ourselves with water toward the north-west, at the place pointed out by Captain Cook in the plan which he has given of this bay. The east-south-east winds, however, occasioned a very troublesome surf there, which induced us to prefer a place to the south-east; but we found that the water procured there was a little brackish; which proved, that it was taken from a place too low, and too near the sea.
This bay being open to the east and south-east winds, they sometimes occasion a heavy swell on the western shore, which, tending thither from all sides, render it somewhat difficult to land.
During the time we remained at anchor, I made excursions into the adjacent country every day; but I found little to add to the numerous articles I had collected at Cape Diemen.
Penguin Island, which I visited, is nothing but a hill, scarcely separated from the great island, for at low water I crossed the channel between them almost dry-shod. It consists of a dark gray sandstone, the same as forms great part of the borders of Adventure Bay. To the south it is overtopped by Fluted Cape, which is formed of a reddish sandstone, disposed in parallel strata perpendicular to the horizon. The difference of tint in these strata exhibit at a distance the appearance of deep flutings, which has given occasion to its name. It must be from an error of the press, that it is said Anderson found this cape to consist of a white sandstone.
On Penguin Island I found a new species of slate, remarkable for its large laminæ of a light fawn colour; an eucalyptus of a moderate height, which may readily be distinguished by its opposite, sessile leaves, of a whitish green colour, with a slight tint of blue (glauques); an embothrium, with leaves very deeply indented; several fine species of philadelphus, the flowers of which have no smell, &c.
PLATE XLVI. Catimarron of Van Diemen's Land—Canoe of the Isle of St. Croix
We found a raft, which the waves had thrown upon the western shore of Adventure Bay. Perhaps it had served to bring some savages into this bay from the island of Maria. It was made of the bark of trees; in shape nearly resembling that which is represented in Plate XLVI. Fig. 2, being as broad, but not so long by more than a third. The pieces of bark, that composed it, were of the same structure as that of the eucalyptus resinifera, but its leaves were much thinner. These pieces had been held together by cords, made of the leaves of grasses, forming a texture of very large meshes, most of which had the form of a pretty regular pentagon.
Just by we saw some limestone rocks, bounding an extensive sandy shore. On its borders we found the remains of a place which had been made by Europeans for sawing wood, the pegs they had used for erecting a tent, and some large logs, on which, it appeared to us, they had placed instruments for making astronomical observations.
The steep hills, which skirt the sandy shore a little farther to the north, had in them caves, which appeared pretty much frequented by the natives, to judge by the black colour they had received from smoke, and the shells of lobsters and other fish which we found there.
Several inscriptions, engraved on the trunks of trees, acquainted us, that Captain Bligh had anchored in this bay in the month of February 1792; when he was on his voyage to the Society Islands for bread-fruit frees, which he was to carry to the English colonies in the West Indies lying between the tropics.
Bligh had with him two botanists, who sowed, at a little distance from the shore, cresses, a few acorns, celery, &c. We saw three young fig trees, two pomegranate trees, and a quince tree they had planted, which had thriven very well; but it appeared to us, that one of the trees they had planted in this country had already perished, for the following inscription, which we found on the trunk of a large tree near, mentions seven;
Near this Tree Captain William Bligh planted seven Fruit Trees, 1792. Messrs. S. and W. Botanists.
The other inscriptions were couched in nearly similar terms. They all displayed the same marks of deference which the English botanists paid the Commander of their ship, by putting only the initial letters of their own names, and expressing that the Captain himself had sowed and planted the various vegetable productions, which he had carried from Europe. I am much inclined to doubt, whether Bligh was very sensible to the honour which the botanists were desirous of paying him.
Toward the south-east, at a little distance from the beach, we found an apple tree, the stem of which was near six feet and a half high, and about two inches thick. It did not appear to us that it had ever been grafted.
Our fishers were not unsuccessful at this anchoring place. The fires they kindled along the shore in the night attracted a large quantity of fish to their nets. The stratagem had before succeeded so completely with the fishers of the Esperance in Dentrecasteaux Strait, that they had laid in a stock of fish sufficient for some months, part dried, and part pickled in strong brine.
Several times in the course of the day I was present when they hauled the seine, and always observed some new species of diodon (porcupine fish). I admired the readiness with which these little fishes erected the prickles that cover them, by distending their bodies as soon as they were touched; but they lowered them, and kept them close to their skirt, throughout their whole length, as soon as they imagined themselves, out of danger. This observation shows, that the attitude given to fish of this genus, by distending them as much as possible, in which manner they are exhibited in collections of natural history, is not that which is most usual to them.
Near the north shore of this bay we minded a young he-goat, and a she-goat big with kid, putting up our prayers that the savages might allow them to propagate their breed in this island. Perhaps they may multiply in it to such a degree, as to occasion a total change in the manner of life of the inhabitants, who may then become a pastoral people, quit without regret the borders of the sea, and taste the pleasure of not being obliged to dive in search of their food, at the risk of being devoured by sharks. The women, who are condemned to this toilsome occupation, will be much more sensible of the value of such a present than the men; but it is to be feared that these animals will be killed before they have time to breed, as appears to have happened to the sow and boar left by Captain Cook; at least no one of us ever perceived the slightest trace of these animals.
The latitude of our observatory, which was near a mile and a quarter south from our anchoring place, was 43° 21' 18" south, and its longitude 145° 12' 17" east.
The variation of the needle, observed at the same place, was 7° 30' east.
Departure from Adventure Bay—We pass
close by the North End of New Zealand—Interview with the
Inhabitants—Discovery of several Islands hitherto
unknown—Anchor at Tongataboo, one of the Friendly
Islands—Eagerness of the Natives to come on board and
furnish us with fresh Provision—We salt a great Number of
Hogs—The Islanders greatly addicted to Theft—One of
our Sentinels knocked down in the Night by a Native, who stole
his Musket—The Assassin delivered to General Dentrecasteaux
by King Toobou, who restores the Musket that had been
stolen—Queen Tiné comes on board—Toobou gives
a Feast to the General—Queen Tiné also does the
same—The Smith of the Recherche is knocked down with Clubs
by the Natives, who afterwards strip him, in open Day, in Sight
of our Vessels—Some young Bread-Fruit Trees are taken on
board to enrich our Colonies with this valuable
WE set sail from Adventure Bay about eight in the morning, with hard squalls from the south-west, which soon carried us beyond Cape Pillar, behind which we saw several fires kindled by the savages. We then steered toward the north, where we were in sight of the coast about sixteen leagues distant, leaving Oyster Bay to the west, and then we directed our course for the Friendly Islands.
At day-break, on the 13th, we made the islands called the Three Kings.
About eight o'clock, being in longitude 169° 56' east, we set the middle island of the group north, distant one league, and ascertained its latitude to be 34° 20' south.
We saw three principal rocks, of a moderate height, nearly in the same parallel, at no great distance from each other, and surrounded by other rocks that were much smaller. Notwithstanding the fog that had just come on, we distinguished some more toward the north, making a part of the same cluster. They were very bare, and we did not suppose them to be inhabited: but a large column of smoke, arising from the easternmost islet, informed us that there were savages on it. No doubt they chafe this place of residence, because it afforded them an opportunity of procuring fish with case among the shoals.
About three quarters after ten we made the land of New-Zealand, which we approached by steering easterly, under favour of a light breeze from the west-north-west.
The natives had kindled a large fire on the loftiest of the hills that skirt the sea, and which extend to Cape North. At half after five we were a very little way from the cape, when two canoes came off from the shore, and paddled toward us. They soon came up with us, but remained some time astern of the ship before they ventured alongside. Judging rightly of our disposition toward them, however, they approached with confidence; aware, no doubt, that the Europeans, who had visited them, had never been the aggressors when any dispute arose. They immediately showed us bundles of the New Zealand flax (phormium tenax), shaking them, in order that we might observe all their beauty, and offering to barter with us. The tuffs of different colours we gave them were received with marks of great satisfaction, and they always delivered to us, with the most scrupulous exactness, the price on which we had agreed.
Iron they decidedly preferred to every thing else that we offered them. This metal is so valuable in the eyes of these warlike people, that expressions of the most lively joy burst from them when they found we had some. Though at first we showed it them only at a distance, they knew it perfectly well, from the sound two pieces gave when struck against each other.
In exchange for our articles, these people gave us almost everything they had in their canoes; and, which we considered as a mark of the greater confidence, they made not the least difficulty at disposing of all their weapons to us.
The largest of the spears they gave us were not above five yards long, and an inch and half thick; the smallest were only half that length. They were all made of a single piece of very hard wood, which they had rendered perfectly smooth.
They gave us fishing lines, and, hooks of different shapes; to the end of some of which feathers were fastened, which they use as a bait for voracious fishes. Several of these lines were of great length, and had at the end a piece of hard serpentine, to make them sink very deep in the water. We admired the fine polish they had given this tone, which was of a spherical form, surmounted with a small protuberance, in which they had made a hole, to pals a firing through. It must be very difficult to these savages to bore a tone of such hardness, and no doubt requires a great deal of time; but they have much leisure for such employments, for their wants are few, and the sea supplies them with food in abundance. They sold us a great deal of fish, which they had just caught; and there is such a quantity along the coast, that, during the short time we lay to, we saw several numerous shoals, which, rising to the surface of the sea, agitated it for a considerable space at different times, producing nearly the same appearance as a current passing over a shallow in calm weather.
These savages even stripped themselves of their clothes in order to barter with us.
Some of the young men had drops at their ears, made with a serpentine of great hardness. They were cut of an oval figure, and for the most part hear four inches long.
The men of riper years wore, as a kind of trophy; a little piece of the large bone of the forearm of a man, which hung at the breast by a little string that passed round the neck. (See Plate XXV.) They set a great value on this ornament.
PLATE XXV. Man of New Zealand—Girl of New Zealand
It is well known that these people are greedy devourers of human flesh; and every thing that recals to their minds the idea of such food, seems to give them the greatest pleasure. A sailor on board offered one of them a knife; and, to shew him the use of it, imitated the action of cutting off one of his fingers, which he immediately carried to his mouth, and pretended to eat. The cannibal, who watched all his motions, expressed great joy, laughing heartily for some time, and rubbing his hands. They were all very tall, and of a muscular make. Soon after sun-set they left us.
At the same moment a third canoe arrived from the nearest shore, with twelve of the islanders in it, who immediately demanded hatchets in exchange for their goods. One of them had already obtained a hatchet, when another addressed himself to us in a rough voice, bawling out with all his strength etoki (a hatchet), and was not silent till he had obtained one.
It was now night, and the Esperance was so far distant as to be out of sight; accordingly we let off a few small quantities of powder, to induce her to make known to us her situation; but we observed with surprise, that the natives, far from, displaying any dread of the effects of gunpowder, continued their barter nevertheless. It had been. dark for more than an hour, when they paddled away to the shore.
As we lay to, we hove the lead several times, and always found a bottom of fine sand, and from thirty-six to fifty fathoms water.
24th. The faint breeze that set off from the land during the night, was succeeded toward day-break by a north-west wind. We were still very near the coast, and we might easily have come to an anchor in Lauriston Bay, but the fatal disasters that befell Captain Marion, and afterwards Furneaux, made the General resolve to pass on.
I thought it my duty, however, to represent to him, how important an object it was, to procure from New Zealand the liliaceous plant known by the name of phormium tenax, or New Zealand flax, in order to convey it to Europe, where it would thrive in perfection. The fibres obtained from the leaves of this plant are much superior in strength to any other vegetable production employed for making ropes, and cables made of it would bear the greatest strain. No one could be more sensible of all the benefits our navy might derive from this plant, than the Commander in Chief of our expedition; yet we held on our course for the Friendly Islands, continuing to steer north-east.
There would have been this advantage, likewise, in stopping at the northern extremity of New Zealand, that it would have afforded us an opportunity of verifying our observations, which led us to place Cape North 36' more to the eastward than it is laid down by Wales. It will be granted, however, that we have sufficient reason to give our observations the preference, when it is considered, that the English astronomer determined the situation of this point only from the longitude observed in Ship Cove, and the distance run along the coast by Captain Cook; and it must be remembered, that this celebrated navigator had no time-keeper on board during his first voyage, an instrument indispensably necessary to ascertain with precision the distance run upon a coast, where the currents are very rapid and irregular.
17th. About four in the afternoon, the man at the mast-head called out, that he had sight of a large rock to the north-north-east; and we were soon surrounded by a great number of sea-fowl, among which we noticed many boobies and gulls. It was night when we passed about six hundred yards to leeward of this shoal, from which we heard the screams of several of these birds; and by the favour of a fine moon-light night, we distinguished on the most prominent points a whiteness, which we ascribed to their excrement.
This rock, which is in latitude 31° 33' 20" south, longitude 179° east, is not much above, half a mile in circumference, and seventy or eighty yards high. Toward its west end some reefs were observed.
As we passed to leeward of this shoal, we were in completely smooth water, so that if there had been any sunken rock in our course, we should not have been informed of our danger till the vessel struck upon it. If we had doubled the rock to windward, or even to leeward at a proper distance, we should not have run this risk.
18th. Next morning at day-break we made Curtis's Islands. These are two very small isles, near four leagues distant from each other. The southernmost is about a mile long only from north to south, steep, very bare, and interspersed with a great number of rocks, the summits of the highest of which reach about a hundred yards above the level of the sea. Their whitish colour led me to presume, that they were of a calcareous nature, like most of the islands found in these seas.
The other island is tolerably rounded, covered with verdure, and as high as the former. Its sides are steep almost every where, yet you may land upon it toward the west. It is in the latitude of 30° 18' 26" south, longitude 179° 38' east.
About six in the evening we perceived at a great distance to the north-north-west, a new island, which induced us to lay to all night.
19th. The next morning, when day broke we had sight of the same island toward the north, and still upwards of ten leagues distance; but about five in the afternoon we were close in with it, and had already seen the whole of its circumference, the extent of which might be about three leagues.
To this island, the latitude of which is 29° 20' 18" south, longitude 179° 55' east, we gave the name of Recherche. Its figure is nearly triangular. Toward the middle the land rises to the height of about five hundred yards above the level of the sea. On the east the earth had crumbled down in a few places of no great extent, where a boat might land.
In all the perpendicular cliffs we could clearly distinguish the arrangement of the thin, parallel, and horizontal strata of a whitish, and no doubt calcareous stone, of which the island is formed. In the interior part of the island we saw considerable precipices, and there were trees to the very summit of the highest places.
There is a shoal almost close to the shore on the north-west, which extends at least six hundred yards in that direction.
Eight rocks, a few hundred yards distant from each other, stretch out into the sea for the space of a league to the east-south-east.
Between the west and north west points, we observed a small bight, where probably very good ground would be found, and which affords complete shelter from the easterly winds.
Between the north-west and south-east points we saw a little rivulet, which runs into the sea; and at a little distance, from it, in a perpendicular cliff, we observed a large patch of earth, of a tolerably deep red colour, perhaps a sort of clay, which appeared incrusted by the calcareous stone.
On the 23d, about nine in the evening, we entered the Torrid Zone, in the longitude of 184° east. This was the fourth time of our passing the Tropic of Capricorn.
24th. The next day, at one o'clock in the afternoon, we made Eooa, one of the Friendly Islands, bearing from us north-west, distant about, fourteen leagues; and it was not long before we had a pretty near view of it. The beautiful verdure with which it was every where covered, proclaimed the fertility of the soil. The land is of a moderate height.
It was half after six when we brought to, to wait for the Esperance, and we spent the night in plying to windward.
On the 25th, at seven o'clock in the morning, we were about six leagues only from Tongataboo, and yet we could not easily distinguish it, because the land is so low. We soon of pretty near in with the eastern coast, standing toward the north and north-west, that we might not miss the opening that leads to the harbour, which is to be entered only by passing between some reefs, which are so close together that the break between them is not to be distinguished at a little distance.
As soon as we were about the middle of this channel, several canoes with out-riggers came to meet us, laden with fruit, hogs, and poultry, which they offered us. Each had two on three natives on board, seldom four. One of them coming toward us with too much speed, her out-rigger gave way, and we had the sorrow to see the three rowers fall into the water. They seemed less disconcerted, however, than we should have imagined, and swam to the nearest shore, dragging with them their canoe, which was soon set afloat again. These canoes are so slight that they must frequently be exposed to such accidents; and, indeed, their countrymen, who passed close by, seemed scarcely to notice it.
All these canoes had eatables on board, one excepted, in which we observed none, and which, therefore, we imagined, had nothing to offer us. But we were mistaken; it was navigated by two men, whose countenances expressed much gaiety, while they pointed out to us two women, who were paddling with them; and the signs they made left us no room to doubt, that they were making us very gallant proposals.
At a distance we saw some large sailing canoes.
About half after eleven, being in the narrowed part of the channel, where it did not appear to us to be above four hundred yards over, we had bottom near the middle at six fathoms.
Just as we were on the point of entering into it, a large canoe came to meet us, and the people in her invited us to follow them in a much wider channel, which was on the larboard of it; but when they saw us take another course, they returned, and continued some time a-head of us, willing to instruct is how to steer.
At length we reached the road of Tongataboo, and after making several tacks to fetch the anchorage, brought up a mile to the south-west of Pangaïmotoo, in eleven fathoms and a half of water, on a bottom of very fine grey sand.
One of the western points of Tongataboo bore west 3° north; the western extremity of Pangaïmotoo, north 24° east; and the extremity of the reefs on that side, north 20° west.
We were immediately surrounded by the natives, who came on board in such numbers, that the deck was soon covered with them. Several came in double canoes, of the shape represented in Plate XXVIII.
One of these people, followed by several others, who appeared to pay him great respect, announced himself as one of the chiefs of the island. He desired to see the Commander of the vessel, and immediately ordered a hog to be brought, of which he made him a present. This person expressed much gratitude on receiving a hatchet from the General's own hands.
In less than an hour we procured, by way of barter, a dozen hogs, the smallest of which was at least a hundred weight. For each a hatchet, of a middling size, was given.
The General had given orders to one of his officers to treat with the islanders for what provision they could furnish; and to prevent all competition, which might have been injurious to the supply of our ships, he had forbidden every other person to make any exchange. But it was impossible to see these orders executed to the letter; and it was difficult to resist the eagerness of the natives to dispose of their wares, which each endeavoured to display to the best advantage. We were much amused to see them holding their little pigs under their arms, and every now and then pulling them by the ears to make them squeal, that we might know they had them to sell.
A chief of the warriors, named Feenou, came on board about five in the afternoon. He was a man about forty-five years of age, of a middling stature, and very fat. Like the rest of the natives, he had altogether the features of an European. His body was covered with scars in various places, and he pointed out to us two on the breast, which, he said, were from wounds received by spears in different battles against the people of Feejee.
PLATE VIII. Man of Van Diemen's Land—Feenou, Chief of the Warriors of Tongataboo
The portrait of this warrior, Plate VIII. Fig. 2, is a very faithful resemblance. His hair, powdered with lime, was dressed in such a way, that he might be supposed to have worn a wig.
He seated himself on the bench on the quarter-deck, with four of the natives, and ordered all the rest to squat down; some of them, however, he permitted to sit on the arm-chest. I know not whether these were great personages; but we remarked among them a man advanced in years, accompanied by a young girl, who employed all his eloquence to tempt such of us as came near her.
Feenou made a present to the General of the largest hog that we had yet seen fence we had been at anchor. He gave him likewise two very fine clubs, made of casuarina wood, inlaid with plates of bone, some cut round, others in stars, and others in the shape of birds, of which, however, they were but poor resemblances. This chief appeared well satisfied when the General gave him a hatchet, a large piece of red stuff, and a few nails. To testify his gratitude, he took each of these articles in his left hand, and touched the left side of his forehead with it.
Towards sun-set we requested him to send out of the ship all the natives, the crowd of whom was become immense. We were desirous that not one should remain, as we did not wish to have the trouble of watching them during the night; but perhaps his authority did not extend to them all; for, after he had driven away the greater part only, he left us, and returned towards the western shore of Tongataboo.
The step he took to rid our ship of these islanders, by whom we were incommoded to an excessive degree, could not easily be guessed. He drove them out with his club, which he handled so vigorously, that they had no way to escape the rude blows of this weapon, but by leaping into the sea.
Almost all their clubs are made with the wood of the casuarina, which is extremely hard; yet we saw a few of bone, somewhat more than a yard long. As theft islanders have no quadruped capable of furnishing a bone of such length, there can be no doubt but it must belong to some large animal of the whale genus.
Beside many fowls, they sold us pigeons of the species called columba aenea (nutmeg pigeon), bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, yams, and several varieties of plaintain, of a delicious flavour.
We desired all the natives to go ashore before night, for several had not come ihr the purpose of satisfying their curiosity merely, or selling us their goods; as we soon discovered that they had stolen several articles from us. All the canoes, however, were gone, and there were still six of the islanders left on board; who, having no means of getting on shore but by swimming, requested us to let them pass the night upon deck, one excepted, who chose rather to swim ashore, though we were a mile from the nearest land. We admired the facility with which he executed all his movements. He swam constantly on the belly, his neck being entirely out of water, and making very short strokes with his left hand, which he kept constantly before him, while he gave a great spread to his right hand, which he carried to the thigh on the same side at every stroke. The body was at the same time a little inclined to the left, which increased the rapidity, with which it cut the water. I never saw an Europeans swim with such confidence, or with such speed.*
[* A somewhat similar mode of swimming, I believe, is not unfrequent among expert swimmers in England; at least I have often seen it practised by others, and have had recourse to it myself, when engaged in a contest of speed—Translator.]
26th. Feenou returned the next morning, and spent a few hours on board. He was singularly amused by an ape belonging to one of our gunners, to the slightest actions of which he was attentive.
The tents of the observatory were pitched on the south-west shore of Pangaïmotoo, and to the same place were conveyed stuffs of different colours, with a great many articles of hardware, to exchange for fresh provision. As the inhabitants brought us a great many hogs, the General resolved to make an addition to our salt stores; and Citizen Renard, one of our surgeons, offered to superintend the salting in of the pork.
An enclosure was marked out by a rope, fastened to the ends of some stakes, which were stuck into the ground at four or five yards distance from each other. This barrier was intended to keep out the natives, day and night, above two thousand of whom, most of them from Tongataboo, were already gathered round us.
Futtafaihe, one of the sons of the late King Poulaho, repaired early to the same place. He took upon himself to preserve order among the natives; and accordingly our trade was carried on with the greatest peaceableness; but we saw with regret that, to make himself obeyed, he employed means as barbarous with respect to them, as laborious to himself; or if, any one of them dared to pass the enclosure that was traced out, by a few hand's-breadths only, he immediately threw at him the first thing that came to hand, as a warning for him to retire, without paying any regard to the injury that might be done by it. A young man, who advanced a little too far, had nearly lost his life by his inattention to the orders of Futtafaihe, who immediately threw at him with violence a large log of wood, but he was fortunate enough to avoid the blow.
We were obliged to cross this numerous circle to penetrate into the interior part of the island; and it was not easy to avoid treading on the feet or legs of the natives, who sat on the ground very close together, all with their legs across; yet, far from being angry, they held, out their hands to assist us when, for fear of hurting them, we knew not where to set our feet. A few of them followed us.
We found many of the people employed in constructing huts, in order to remain on the island of Pangaïmotoo; whither they were attracted by our making choice of this little island as a market place for the provision, with which they could supply us. Several of these huts were already finished. The islanders, whom we met with in them, received us with various testimonies of great affection.
The ground occupied by each of these habitations was not, in general, above sixteen feet long, and ten feet wide. The roof, about six feet and a half high in the middle, sloped down to the ground. In one of its sides an opening was made, sometimes the whole length of the hut, but so low, that there was no entering, without stooping so much, as to be obliged to creep on all fours. On the opposite side we observed another opening, still lower and narrower, which seemed intended to promote the circulation of air. In others, a greater number of openings were seen, but smaller, and made even in the ends of the huts. We admired the fine texture of the mats, which were spread upon the ground. The roofs were covered with the leaves of the cocoa tree, or of the mountain palm (corypha umbraculifera), sometimes too with grass or rushes. Under such a roof there is no standing, except in the middle; but these people commonly squat on the ground, so that they can sit tolerably near to the sides.
In the neighbourhood of these tranquil dwellings we frequently met with very obliging though stout men, who took care to inform strangers of the favourable reception, they might meet with from the fair sex in these fortunate islands. Their offers, no doubt, were in some measure owing to their wish to oblige; but it appeared; that they had an eye to their own interest at the same time, as they never forgot to ask some recompense in return for their information.
We walked some time along the borders of the shore, on which we saw a great number of bread-fruit trees in full vigour, though their roots were bathed with brackish water. But soon the water rising with the flood-tide, obliged us to go farther within the land, where we traversed thick woods, in the shade of which grew the tacca pinnatifida, saccharum spontaneum, mussænda frondosa, abrus precatorius (Jamaica wild liquorice), the species of pepper tree which they use for making kava, &c. We then walked over grounds employed partly in the culture of the sweet potatoe, partly in that of the species of yam called dioscorea alata; we saw, too, young plants of vacoua, or pandanus odoratissima (sweet scented screw-pine), the leaves of which are used for making mats. Farther on we found plantations of the paper mulberry tree; cultivated for the sake of its bark, of which they fabricate stuff for garments. The hibiscus tiliaceus grew spontaneously on the borders of these cultivated spots, and close by the sea. Its bark likewise furnishes them with materials for making a kind of stuff, but much inferior in beauty to that of the paper mulberry tree.
Some of the natives, who followed us very close, affected the appearance of having no other design, but that of being useful to us; yet we caught some of them now and then putting their hands into our pockets, to steal what they could find; and when we discovered them, we always obliged them to return what they had taken. One of them, however, having seized a knife, that belonged to one of the crew, took to his heels with all speed, and disappeared amid the wood.
It was not long before we fell in with a company of the islanders, who were preparing to drink lava. They invited us to sit down by them, and we remained all the time they were preparing their beverage. They give the same name to the species of pepper tree, which constitutes its chief ingredient, and the long, fleshy, and very tender roots of which are often more than four inches thick. These they first cleaned with the greatest care. They then chewed them, so as to reduce them to a kind of paste, of which they formed balls, nearly four, inches in circumference. As fast as these balls were made, they were put into a large wooden vessel; and when the bottom was covered with them, standing about four inches distant from each other, they filled up the vessel with water. The liquor was then shaken, and served out in cups to all the guests. Some drank out of cocoa-nut shells, others made themselves cups on the occasion from the leaves of the plantain tree.
The large roots, with which the kava was made, had, in the direction of their length, very slender woody fibres, which subsided to the bottom of the liquor. These fibres, the person who served it out, collected in one of his hands, and used as a sponge, to fill the cups.
We were invited to take a share of this beverage; but our seeing it prepared was sufficient to make us decline the civil offer. The Chaplain of our ship, however, had the courage to swallow a bumper of it. For my part, as I was desirous also of tasting the flavour of the root, I preferred chewing a bit of it myself, and found it acrid and stimulant. Each of the company afterwards ate some yams, fresh roasted under the embers, and plaintains; no doubt to take off the heat, which the stomach must feel from this intoxicating liquor.
These people set much store by the pepper tree, from which they procure it. Its stalk, frequently bigger than the thumb, is tolerably straight, and requires no support. They cut off several pieces in the spaces between the knots, and made us a present of them, informing us, that they set them thus in the ground, in order to propagate the plant.
We were not far from the tents of the observatory, when some others of the natives invited us to eat fruit, among which we had the pleasure of seeing that of the spondias cytherea (pommes de cythère). Every one sat down: Citizen Riche just laid down a pole-axe, when a native crept slily behind him, took it up, and ran off as fast as he could. We immediately pursued him, but he had too far the start for us to come up with him. A chief, who was then near us, would make the thief restore the pole-axe, and ran after him likewise; but he soon returned, and appeared very sorry, that he could not overtake the fugitive.
We soon arrived within the enclosure where the traffic was carried on. Futtafaihe was still there. We were informed that he had caused a sabre, and several other things belonging to different persons of the crew, which had been stolen by the natives, to be returned. Riche accordingly applied to him, in order to procure his pole-axe again; but the inquiries of Futtafaihe were to no purpose.
27th. A great many canoes surrounded our ships, though the General had given orders to oblige them to keep off; but they disposed of their merchandize to better advantage here, than at the market on shore; for there little was sold but eatables, the price of which was fixed; while on board they frequently received a high price for objects of fancy. Besides, these canoes carried on another sort of trade, still more rigorously prohibited by the orders of General Dentrecasteaux; but the entries not being very strict in this point, many young girls easily evaded their notice, and were creeping in at the port-holes every moment.
We went ashore very early at the nearer place, where we had the pleasure to see that these islanders were in possession of the sugar-cane. They offered us some very large ones, which we accepted. They sold us several birds, and among others a beautiful species of lory, which they informed us had been brought to them from Feejee; a fine species of dove, remarkable for a red spot on the head, and known by the name of columba purpurata; the Philippine rail, ragas philippensis; the pigeon called columba pacifica, &c. Several had the lizard known by the appellation of lacerta amboinensis, which they offered us as very good to eat.
The natives, who followed us, were very troublesome to us by their number, and even by their eagerness to oblige us. Seeing us collect plants, several pulled up, indiscriminately all they sounds made them up into large bundles, brought them to us, and then wanted to load us with them. Others, observing us collect insects, were incessantly asking whether they were not to feed the birds we had just purchased. But most put on a semblance of having the greatest affection for us, while they were purloining our things. Several times we endeavoured in vain to get rid of them, the methods we took being unquestionably too mild, for people accustomed to be treated so roughly by their chiefs.
Futtafaihe, accompanied by another chief, had been to dine with the General, who presented one with a scarlet suit of clothes, the other with a blue. Adorned with this new dress, which they had put on over their own clothes, they were in one of the tents of the observatory, when Feenou made his appearance at the entrance of it, and displayed great jealousy at seeing them thus equipped. He retired with an air of great discontent, saying, that every body passed themselves off for chiefs (egui), and went to drink kava with some others. We did not know what to think of Feenou's precipitate retreat but we presumed; that he was less powerful than Futtafaihe, and declined appearing before him, that he might not be under the necessity of paying him the honours due to his rank.
The officer entrusted with the purchase of provision had a very laborious task to fulfil: for, though he had fixed a regular value on every article, the natives, still in hopes of selling them dearer, never parted with their goods till they had disputed a long time about their price.
Pressed by hunger, we retired into the tent, where the provision purchased in the course of the day was deposited; and were followed by two natives, whom we took for chiefs. One of them shewed the greatest eagerness to select for me the choicest fruit. I had laid my hat on the ground, thinking it a place of security; but these two thieves were not inattentive to their trade; he that was behind me was adroit enough, to hide my hat under his clothes, and went away, without my perceiving it; and the other quickly followed him. I was the less apprehensive of such a trick, as I did not suppose that they would have ventured upon an article of such bulk, at the risk of being caught within the enclosure, into which we had permitted them to enter; besides, a hat could be of very little use to people who commonly go bare-headed. The address they displayed in robbing me, convinced us that it was not their first attempt; and led us to presume, that they frequently rob one another. The chiefs, too, might have some interest in the thefts committed on us; for we frequently saw them seize what they found in the hands of their subjects, whom they plundered very openly.
We were extremely unwilling to proceed to extremities with these knaves; but it was high time to check their boldness, which impunity served only to encourage. With this view, we proposed to let them see the effect of our fire-arms on a cock, which we tied to the end of a long pole. But the person, who fired at it, was so incautious, as to take a double-barrelled gun, which had been exposed to the dampness of the air all the preceding night; in consequence of which, the first time it flashed in the pan, the next it hung fire; so that he was obliged to take another piece to bring clown the cock. Accordingly the natives appeared to retain a much higher idea of their weapons than of ours, when one of them, with a long arrow, furnished with three diverging points, shot another cock, fixed at the end of the same pole. In order to take aim at the bird, having placed himself just under it, he raised himself as high as he could on tiptoe, so that the point of his arrow was not above four yards from the cock. All the rest had their eyes fixed upon him, and kept the most profound silence; but the moment he hit the object, their shouts of admiration gave us to understand that they did not in general succeed so well, even at so short a distance.
The arrow used upon this occasion was near three yards long; but they have others of inferior dimensions, which they likewise carry in quivers of bamboo.
28th. Two sentries kept guard day and night at the post we had established on the Island of Pangaïmotoo, who were sufficient to keep off such of the natives as might endeavour to heal into it secretly, to carry off the articles we had deposited there. Undoubtedly no apprehensions had been entertained, that they would break into it by force, for no precautions had been taken to guard against an of fault. A native, however, took advantage of a heavy fall of rain, which came on just as day was breaking, to get behind one of our entries, and gave him such a violent stroke on the head with his club, that he knocked him down, though his helmet-cap warded off much of the violence of the blow. The assassin immediately made off with his musket; and the other sentry instantly gave notice of it to those of us, who were sleeping in the tents. The alarm was great, and several moved nearer to the shore, that they might be able to reach the long-boat, if the islanders should fall upon us in great number. The cry of alarm was heard on board the Esperance, that ship having come within hail of the shore the preceding evening, and immediately a few muskets were fired from her, to give notice of it to the Recherche; but our fear of a general attack from the natives did not continue long, for we quickly assured ourselves, that most of them were still fast asleep round our poor, and those, who had been awakened, had sled. An officer, too, who arrived from the interior of the island, almost at the instant of the assassination, reported, that he had seen a great many of the natives, all of whom appeared to him to be in a profound sleep.
The Commander of our expedition went on shore about six o'clock, with a detachment well armed, and gave orders to strike the tents immediately, and carry them aboard, with every thing than had been left at the post for the purpose of barter.
Our removal much grieved several of the chiefs, who came to the General to express the sorrow they felt at this disagreeable affair. They loudly expressed their disapprobation of this cowardly piece of treachery, laying, that the culprit deserved death, and should not long escape the due reward of his crime. At the same time they did every thing in their power to prevail on us to continue our barter as before.
Our detachment having advanced a little way into the island, to examine the disposition of the natives, found near a thousand, who had slept in the neighbourhood of our pest, and requested them to remove to a greater distance; which they all did, except a small party of armed men, who, lifting up their clubs and spears, refused to retire a single step. Perhaps it would have been proper to have punished their audacity, which led us to consider them as accomplices of the assassin; but a chief, named Toobou, one of the king's relations, fell upon them with fury, and quickly dispersed them by heavy blows with his club.
The General, before he got into the boat to return on board, made a few presents to the different chiefs, who were collected, around him. He also required them to deliver up the assassin, and return the musket he had stolen, with the sabre that had been taken from our gunner the day before; informing them, that he would allow the barter to be renewed on these conditions alone.
All the natives retired when our long boat put off from the shore; but as soon as it arrived along-side the vessel, several of them went to the spot we had quitted, and examined it very carefully, to see whether we had not left something or other behind us. We observed one, who had the dexterity to pull out the nail by which one of our clocks had been hung up to a post.
Feenou came on board in the afternoon, and made the General a present of some bread-fruit, yams, plantains, and a pig. In return he received a saw, a hatchet, and several chisels; but we perceived, that he gave the hatchet a decided preference to the other tools. After having paid the greatest attention to the account we gave him of the attack made on our sentry by one of the natives, he promised to return the musket the next day; and told us, that he would bring the assassin to us, and do justice on him in our presence. He desired, to see the gunner, who had received a large wound in the head, but happily not dangerous, as the helmet-cap he wore had deadened the blow. Feenou displayed much sensibility on seeing the wound, and presented the gunner with a piece of the stuff fabricated of the bark of the paper mulberry tree, to use in dressing the wound. In fact the properties of this stuff render it well adapted to such a purpose.
Feenou having ordered several of the natives, who attended him, to make kava, these immediately began to chew some large roots of the species of pepper tree, to which they give that name, and the liquor was soon prepared. He drank of it first, and the rest was shared among the other natives, who, as well as Feenou, ate plantains after it. Out of respect to him, they all squatted on the deck, while he sat on the watch bench.
We showed this chief several engravings in the voyages of Captain Cook. It was with the greatest respect that he several times pronounced the name of that celebrated navigator, which he called Toote. It is remarkable, that though we could pronounce words of their language with great facility, they could not do so with ours; for instance, when they wished to pronounce the word François, they said Palançois; instead of Beaupré, the said Beaupélé, &c. Feenou talked to us of Otaheite, and said, that he had seen Omai at Anamooka. Perhaps this is the same Feenou who was particularly intimate with Cook in his last voyage, though that navigator says he was a tall man.
His attendants said a great deal to us about King. Toobou, of whose power they made great boast; and to point out to us his superiority, they raised the right arm very high, pronouncing his name at the same time, and then touched it near the elbow with the left hand, to mark the inferiority of Feenou. He himself assented to this pre-eminence, of Toobou, who, he said, was to be on board us the next day.
29th. I had intended to spend this day on the island of Tongataboo, with some of my shipmates; but the General desired us to postpone this excursion, till the chiefs had given us a proof, that they were really determined to put an end to the depredations committed by their subjects.
Several canoes surrounded our vessels, but no one was permitted to come alongside. Many of their people, weary of their situation, as they could not carry on, any kind of traffic, amused themselves with fishing. Their nets were nearly nine yards long, about a yard and a half deep, and the meshes were about an inch square. From the shape of these nets, several of which we had already purchased, we imagined that they used them as we do seines, hauling them up on the beach; but we were much astonished to see them throw them out in the open road, much in the same manner as we do a casting-net. On the lower side were fastened pieces of coral, which sunk the net rapidly, to the bottom; and the fishermen immediately dived, to bring the two ends together by means of small lines fastened to them; thus enclosing the fish, which they put into their canoes. It is obvious that fish must be very plenty, for them to be caught in this manner in the open sea. No doubt the fishermen would not have taken all this trouble, had not their hunger been extremely craving; for, as they had no means of dressing their fish in their canoes, they did not hesitate to devour it raw.
About nine in the morning three chiefs came on board, to acquaint us that Toobou, the supreme chief (egui laï) of Tongataboo, Vavao, Anamooka, &c. was coming to pay us a visit, and that he would deliver into our hands the assassin we demanded, and restore the musket that had been stolen. In fact, it was scarcely eleven o'clock when Toobou arrived, with several chiefs. The assassin was at his feet, lying on his belly with his hands bound behind his back. He ordered him on board immediately, and then directed the musket, with its bayonet fixed, which had been taken from one of our sentries, to be brought. Two pieces of stuff, made of the bark of the paper mulberry, so large, that each, if spread out, would have completely covered our vessel, two hogs, and several very large mats, composed the present which he brought to the Commander of our expedition. The warrior Feenou, not disdaining to perform the office of executioner, lifted up his club, to beat out the brains of the culprit, and it was somewhat difficult to prevent him from doing justice on the prisoner before our eyes. At length, however, he delivered him into the hands of the General, imagining, no doubt, that he was desirous of keeping him, to inflict on him himself the punishment due to his crime. The prisoner too, supposing that his last hour was come, already stretched out his neck, when our sentry, whom he had knocked down, begged the life of the offender. On this he was dismissed, with a few stripes on the back with a rope's end; but Feenou, thinking this punishment far too little, again raised his club, to put an end to his existence. The General bawled out as loud as he could, icaï maté, (that he should grant him his life); but Feenou declared, nevertheless, that he should not escape the punishment he deserved. As we were examining several marks on his head, from blows this man had received with a club, before he had been brought to us, we were informed, that these had been given to him when he was taken. The General ordered our surgeon to dress his wounds, and then removed him to the Esperance, intending to let him ashore in the night, to endeavour to save his life.
King Toobou received as a present from the General's hands a suit of scarlet, in which he dressed himself immediately, and a large hatchet. Feenou, too, received a scarlet suit, with a hatchet of much smaller dimensions; and a few small hatchets were distributed among the other chiefs. They were all on the deck, forming a circle round Toobou, who sat on the watch bench, with Feenou on his right hand, and another chief, named Omalaï, on his left.
Toobou appeared to us to be at least sixty years old. He was of a middling height, and still much more corpulent than Feenou. His garments were made in the same shape as those of the other natives, differing only in the fineness of their texture. He wore a very beautiful mat, fastened round him by means of a girdle, fabricated of the bark of the paper mulberry tree.
When Toobou gave orders for making kava, we requested some of the chiefs to take upon themselves its preparation, and chew the roots of the kava pepper tree, which we offered them; but they uniformly refused, with an air of disdaining an occupation beneath them. It was entrusted to men of an inferior class (mouas), who were seated near the middle of the circle, formed by the chiefs.
The rain, which had come on in the mean time, increasing rapidly, we imagined that every one of them would have sought shelter; but they all braved the weather, without quitting their places, except the king, who withdrew into the General's cabin, with Feenou; and Toobou-Foa, one of the royal family. Kava was carried to, them in cups, which had just been made of plantain leaves, and then plantains were offered to them. The General invited them all three to dinner; but the king did not permit either of the chiefs to sit at the same table with him. He tasted all the dishes, refused most of them, and ate very little of those that he did not appear to dislike, sugar excepted. The General had made him a present of a bird-organ, with which he was wonderfully amused, and on which he played almost all dinner time.
These islanders shave with the edge of a shell, and the operation takes up a great deal of time. They were struck with astonishment, when they saw how quickly our barber took off the beards of several of our crew, and every one was desirous of experiencing his skill. Among the rest, he had the honour of shaving his majesty himself.
About half after three, the king giving us notice of his intention to depart, an offer was made to put him ashore in the barge, which he accepted. He was attended by a great number of canoes, and soon arrived at the island of Pangaïmotoo, with most of the chiefs who had accompanied him on board. As soon as he landed, he ordered some yams, a bread-fruit, some pork and plantains, to be brought; and we were much surprised to see him eat with a very hearty appetite for we imagined that he was not hungry, as he had done so little honour to our General's table. We had no reason to suppose, that our dishes had not been to his taste, since the other natives were perfectly satisfied with them. Perhaps it is a point of etiquette, for his majesty not to indulge his appetite when he accepts an invitation, particularly from strangers. He afterwards made a speech, in which, no doubt, he expressed our friendly disposition toward them, and our intention to punish all who should be guilty of robbing us; and then he repaired to the island of Tongataboo.
Just before night Feenou brought the sabre which had been taken from one of our gunners. He returned it to the General, and made him a present of a very large fish, of the perch genus, the perca guttata (the hind of Catesby). Before he left us, he informed the canoes around, that we should begin to trade with them again the next day.
30th. Very early the next morning our boat was sent on shore to the island of Pangaïmotoo, with a quantity of stuffs and hardware. The canoes round our ship were several times desired in vain to repair to the market, which had just been re-established on that little island. We fancied, however, that we had discovered effectual means of driving them away from our ships, when we saw them take flight with precipitancy, on some water being spouted on them from an engine; but the success of this mode was of short duration for soon finding that they ran no risk but of a wetting, we might play the engine on them as long as we pleased, and they would not stir. Dauribeau, the captain of the Recherche, then gave orders, to upset them when any of our boats, went ashore and presently the launch was sent off for the nearest part of the island, with various instruments for making astronomical observations. Accordingly our people pulled away, steering directly for a canoe which had three men and two girls on board; and, as they carried away the out-rigger, we should soon have had the vexation of seeing these two pretty lasses tumbled into the water; but to prevent this accident, the men jumped overboard, and two of them steadied the canoe, while the third set the out-rigger to rights, and then they paddled away for Tongataboo without delay. The other canoes, warned of their danger, had the address to avoid such of our boats as afterwards endeavoured to upset them.
Feenou came in board very early in the morning, with Toobou, the king's brother. These two chiefs invited the General to a feast, which the King intended to give him the next day but one, in the island of Tongataboo. Having requested us to let them see the effects of our swivels and carronades, we gratified them with a specimen, at which they showed equal marks of affright and admiration.
When we arrived on shore, we observed with surprise, that the market was very well supplied, though there were not a fourth as many of the natives present, as on the preceding days. Every thing there was going on with the greatest order.
The same officer (Lagrandière) had still the management of the traffic with them for victualling the ships. He was singularly delighted with the thought of having procured some ends of iron hoops, to be cut into the shape of carpenter's chisels, and of having turned them to good account in dealing with the natives. Yet we had on board a great number of very good tools, which had been brought from Europe, to give them; and we could not conceive how it was possible, that the satisfaction he must have felt at procuring them durable instruments, should not have been of more weight with him, than any other consideration.
Traversing the interior of the island, we saw a barber employed in shaving one of the chiefs, after-their fashion. The chief sat with his back leaning against his hut. The barber's razor consisted of the two shells of the solen radiatus (violet-coloured, or radiated razor-sheath), one of which he held firmly against the skin with the left hand, while with the right he applied the edge of the other to the hair, as near the root as he could, and by repeated scraping, brought it away, scarcely more than a hair at a time. We were astonished at so much patience; and left him, as might be supposed, long before he had finished his operation.
PLATE XXXI. Effects of the Inhabitants of the Friendly Islands—
Fig. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Baskets of different Forms—Fig. 3. An earthen Vessel, inclosed in a Net, with large Meshes made of the Filaments of the Cocoa-nut—Fig. 9. A wooden Vessel in which they prepare Kava—Fig. 10, 11 and 12. Cups out of which they drink Kava—Fig. 13. A spoon cut out of a Shell—Fig 14. The Fruit of the Melodinus scandens, in which the Women keep the Oil for anointing different Parts of their Bodies
The art of the potter has made no great progress among these people. We saw in their possession some very porous earthen vessels, which they had baked indeed, but very slightly. In these they kept fresh water, which would have quickly filtered through them, if they had not taken the precaution to give them a coating of resin. Vessels thus made, could be of no use to them in dressing victuals. The natives showed us some of a tolerably elegant form, which they said had been brought from Feejee. (See Plate XXXI. Fig. 8.) We saw them drinking in companies out of cups of this sort, round which they put a net of a pretty large mesh, to be able to carry them about easily. When they had emptied a few of them, they went to fill them again out of little holes, which they had dug in the ground, that the water might flow into them. Though these holes were about a hundred and fifty toises only from the shore, the water was scarcely to be called brackish. As we found it necessary to replace what we had expended since leaving Adventure Bay, we dug a hole in the ground, more than a yard deep, and at a good distance from the shore, and it was presently supplied with very drinkable water. With this we filled small casks, which the natives of the toua class were very ready to carry on their shoulders to the boat; but the part on which the iron hoops of the cask rested being bare, was soon galled, and they gave up their work. We had on board, however, a little cart, which we had brought from Europe, and on this they readily consented to draw the barrels down to the shore. The touas, twelve in number, sung to mark the time of uniting their efforts in pulling. These twelve soon increased to twenty, and at first required no addition to the pay we had agreed upon for each turn, which was twelve glass beads; a few days after, however, they demanded a higher price for their labour. They assured us that we should not find water at Tongataboo, except in ponds, or by digging holes in the ground as at Pangaïmotoo; but that very good spring-water was to be procured at Kao, a small island near Tofoa.
I had not yet seen a dog since we had been at anchor. In the afternoon a native brought one to sell us, assuring us that its flesh was very good eating. They give the name of kouli to this animal, which in these islands is commonly of a fallow colour, small, and pretty nearly resembling the Pomeranian dog.
Citizen Riche informed us, that the assassin, who was mentioned above, having been conveyed to the western coast of Pangaïmotoo the preceding night, by one of the Esperance's boats, had hesitated some time about going on shore, and had inquired of the boat's crew, with an air of great uneasiness, which way Feenou had gone, when he went on shore in the evening. At last he ventured to land, but crawled along the beach on his hands and knees for more than three hundred paces, before he durst, proceed into the interior part of the island.
Close by the market, to which the natives brought their different kinds of provision, we observed a woman of extraordinary corpulence, at least fifty years of age, round whom the natives formed a very numerous circle. Some of them paid her their respects in our presence, by taking her right foot and placing it on their head, making a very low bow; others came and touched the sole of her right foot with their right hands. Several chiefs, whom we knew, paid her other marks of their reverence. We were informed that this lady was Queen Tiné. Her hair, cut to the length of about two inches and halt, was covered, as well as part of her forehead, with a reddish powder.
After having expressed her inclination to go on board the Recherche, to see the Commander of our expedition, the invited us to accompany her, and immediately set off with part of her court. She presented General Dentrecasteaux with several very fine mats, a hog, and some yams; and he gave her in return various pieces of stuff, on which the appeared to set a great value.
Desirous of knowing what effect our vocal music, accompanied by a violin and cittern, would have on these people, we entertained them with a specimen, and had the pleasure of perceiving that it was pleasing to them; but a few tunes on a bird-organ obtained more striking marks of their applause.
Queen Tiné, unwilling to remain in our debt, ordered some young girls of her suite to sing.
One of the prettiest immediately rose, and we did not fail to applaud her performance. She sang, indeed, nothing but which she continued
apou lelley; apou lelley; apou lelley; apou lelley;
repeating for half an hour at least; but she displayed so much grace in the action with which the accompanied this air, that we were sorry she finished so soon. She moved her arms forward, one after the other, following the measure, and at the same time raised her feet alternately, though without quitting her place; the time she marked with her fore-finger, which, after having been bent by the thumb, was let go against the middle finger; and sometimes by moving the thumb against the fore and middle fingers. The beauty of these movements depended greatly on the fine shape of the hand and arm, which is so common among these people, and was striking in this young woman. Soon after two other young girls repeated the same air, which they sang in parts, one singing uniformly a fifth to the other; and several men rose to dance to the music of their melodious voices. These marked the time by movements analogous to those of the young women, at first with their feet, and frequently carrying one of their hands to the opposite arm.
We took the words of this air (apou lelley, charming evening) as a compliment from the islanders, congratulating themselves on spending the afternoon with us.
The queen tasted the different dishes we offered her, but she gave a particular preference to preserved bananas. Our maître-d'hotel stood behind her in readiness to remove her plate, but she saved him the trouble, by keeping both it and the table-cloth for herself.
Tiné was extremely tenacious of the honours, which the chiefs could not refuse to pay when they met her; and hence some of them avoided her presence. Feenou, and the brother of King Toobou were on board, and had just promised to stay and dine with us when she arrived. They immediately intreated, with great earnestness, that she might not be permitted to come upon deck; but she came on board at once without ceremony, and the two chiefs hastened into their canoes, because otherwise they would have been obliged, as many of the natives assured us, to come and take her right foot, and carry it very respectfully to their heads, as a token of their inferiority. The queen informed us with an air of satisfaction, that King Toobou himself was bound to pay her these marks of respect, because it was from her he derived his dignity.
After having informed us that the purposed to take up her abode in the island of Pangâimotoo, as long as we staid in the road, the invited the General to come and reside on shore, and sleep in her house. I do not imagine that the old lady had any other intention, than to procure him a more pleasant and healthy residence than he had on board; but the General had no opportunity of ascertaining with precision her motive for this obliging offer, for he did not accept her invitation.
One of our sailors had in his hand a bit of bacon, which he was going to eat, when Féogo, one of Tiné's maids of honour, appeared desirous of tasting it. He offered it to her, and the received it with thankfulness; but as she could not think of eating it in the royal presence, the Queen had the complaisance to go and sit about twelve paces off, that her attendant might be at a distance from her; yet before the quitted her place, she had received from the young lady the same marks of respect, as others of the natives had already paid her in our presence.
Two hours before sun-set, Tiné expressed a wish to return to the island of Pangaïmotoo, and soon after went in our barge with part of her attendants.
We had seen in Bligh's narrative, that, just as he was preparing to quit the island of Tofoa, the sailor, whom he had sent on shore to cast off the mooring of the launch, was killed by one of the natives. The people of Tongataboo informed us that the murder was committed by a chief named Moudoulalo; but we could not learn the motive which had induced him to this excessive barbarity. All of us were astonished at the coolness with which the natives told the tale.
We had already seen several knives of English manufacture in the hand of the natives; and this morning early Feenou brought us a bayonet that he had received from Captain Cook, the point of which he requested us to sharpen, as it was blunted.
In the afternoon we visited some islets, lying at a very little distance from each other between Tongataboo and Pangaïmotoo. They are all connected together by a shoal, which is almost wholly dry at low water.
We first arrived at a bank of sand, lately emerged from the water, on which, however, a commencement of vegetation already appeared. From this, called by the natives Iniou, we proceeded to the little isle of Manima; to reach which we were obliged to cross a tolerably rapid current, not above six feet deep soon after the tide had begun to make in and the water of which was warmed by passing over a beach strongly heated by the rays of the sun. Here we found one of the Queen's maids of honour; to whom I presented a few beads; and immediately she sent to catch a couple of fowls to offer us. These we took the trouble of carrying, lest she should have been chagrined at our refusal of them. She was very careful to let us know that she did not give them by way of barter; affecting to repeat with an air of dignity ikaï fokatau, and to inform us by the word adoupé, that she made us a present of them. Indeed the chiefs never offered to barter their articles for ours; they made us presents, and received whatever we thought proper to give.
It is remarkable that the natives brought to our market several cocks, but very seldom any hens. These they kept to hatch chickens, and of course they sold us but few eggs likewise.
The two fowls now given us were hens, and had been caught in our sight with the same kind of net, as we had seen employed to take fish in the open road.
The soil of the island of Manima is little cultivated; we saw in it, however, a few fields of yams, cocoa trees, and plantains.
After crossing a channel as shallow as the preceding, we arrived at Oneata. Having the curiosity to examine the inside of a habitation, constructed with much art, we were greatly surprized to see a chief, who, sitting very gravely near the middle of the hut, permitted a fore-mast-man of our ship to take the greatest freedoms with one of the prettiest girls in the island. He informed us, on offering some cocoa nuts, that he could not allow us to drink their liquor within his dwelling. We could not have supposed that the witness of the party, we had just happened to interrupt under his roof, would have been so rigid to persons who came thither merely to quench their thirst; but we made a point of not disputing the matter with him.
Two natives arrived in the mean time, bringing in their hands some very ripe cocoa-nuts opened, and with these we saw them prepare a. dish, of which they appeared to be very fond. With shells, fixed in a piece of wood by way of handle, they scraped out the nuts, which they bruised with a very hot stone, so as to make a pulp of it; this they reduced to the consistence of a pudding, after mixing it with some fresh roasted bread-fruit; which done, they formed it into balls; and these they ate immediately.
Under a large shed we saw a double canoe, forty feet long, placed there by the natives to preserve it against the injuries of the weather.
We were not far from the little island called Nougou Nougou, when some of the natives pointed out to us an islet, by the name of Mackaha, very near Pangaïmotoo. We proceeded toward the lost island, and, as the tide was rising, we were obliged to wade up to our middles, to reach it. We soon reached the place, where the queen kept a regular court. It was under the shade of a very bushy bread-fruit tree, at a small distance from our market. There she was giving a concert of vocal music, in which Futtafaihe sung, he regulating the time, which all the musicians followed with the greatest accuracy. Some performed their parts by accompanying the simple melody of the rest with various modulations. In these we occasionally noticed discords, which seemed to be highly agreeable to the ears of the natives.
During this concert we saw a great number of people arrive, each carrying a long pole on his shoulder, at the ends of which hung fish and yams; and with these they immediately formed the base of a quadrangular pyramid, which they built up nearly to the height of two yards. This was a present for General Dentrecasteaux; to whom Tiné was giving an entertainment. She warned us against the danger of walking alone about the island in the evening, telling us, that thieves might take advantage of the darkness, to knock us down with their clubs, and then rob us.
On the 1st of APRIL, at six in the morning, the General set off, agreeably to the invitation of King Toobou, who meant to, give him an entertainment in the island of Tongataboo. We accompanied him, with almost all the officers of the expedition, and a detachment well armed.
Some of the natives, who followed us in their canoes, made us coast along shore toward the west for some time, in order to conduct us to a place, where, they informed us, we should find a great number of the natives assembled with several of their chiefs. As soon as we landed, Feenou came to meet the General, and accompany him into the midst of a large assembly of the natives, with Omalaï at their head. This chief invited him to sit down on his left hand, after having ordered the natives, to arrange themselves in a circle round him. We rested ourselves a moment on some mats spread on the ground, under the shade of several trees, some of which were the cerbera manghas (Indian mango tree), others the hernandia ovigera (ovigerous jack-in-the-box tree), the fruit of which is used by these people as an ornament. Soon after we went to see a very lofty shed, which served as a shelter to a war canoe, eighty feet long, the inside of which was strengthened by very stout knees, placed about a yard distant from each other. Feenou, after having made us admire the construction of this double canoe, informed us, that he had taken it in an engagement, which he had fought with the people of the Feejee Islands.
As we proceeded toward the west, we crossed a spacious enclosure, formed of palisades, the posts of which, placed in an oblique direction, were tolerably near to each other, within this grew bread-fruit trees, plantain trees, the corypha umbraculifera (great fan palm), &c. Farther on, in an enclosure of much less extent, we found a small hut, of a conical figure, in which, we were informed, were deposited the remains of a chief lately dead; and a caution was given us, that entering into it was prohibited.
After this we walked on near a quarter of an hour in a narrow path, bounded on each side by palisades, till we reached an extensive esplanade, where King Toobou was soon to arrive. (See Plate XXVI.)
PLATE XXVI. An Entertainment given to General Dentrecasteaux by Toobou, King of the Friendly Islands
We were invited by Omalaï, to take the cool air under a shed, the shape of which was nearly half an oval, twelve yards in length, by five in breadth. The roof, covered with the leaves of the vacoua, which rendered it impenetrable to the heavier shower, had an elevation of about five yards and a half, and descended within three quarters of a yard of the ground, on which some fine mats were spread. The floor was raised six or eight inches higher than the surrounding earth, which secured it from all danger of being overflowed; and the roof was supported by ten pillars.
At length Toobou arrived with two of his daughters, who had poured on their hair an abundance of cocoa-nut oil, and wore each a necklace, made with the pretty seeds of the abrus precatorius.
The natives formed a great concourse on all sides. According to our estimation, at least four thousand of them were present. The place of honour, no doubt, was on the king's left hand, for it was there he invited the General to sit, who immediately ordered the presents, which he intended for Toobou, to be brought forward. The king expressed much thankfulness for them; but, of all that was offered him, nothing so much excited the admiration of this numerous assembly, as a piece of crimson damask, the lively colour of which produced from all sides an exclamation of eho! eho! which they continued repeating a long time, with an appearance of the greatest surprise. They uttered the same exclamation, when we unrolled a few pieces of ribbon, in which red was the predominant colour. The General then presented a she-goat with kid, a he-goat, and a couple of rabbits, one a buck, the other a doe, of which the king promised to take the greatest care, and to let them breed and multiply in the island.
Omalaï, who, Toobou told us, was his son, also received some presents from the General, as did several other chiefs.
On our right, toward the north-east, were thirteen musicians, seated under the shade of a bread-fruit tree, which was loaded with a prodigious quantity of fruit. They sung together in different parts. Four of them held in their hands a bamboo of a yard, or a yard and a half long, with which they beat time on the ground; the longest, these bamboos sometimes serving to mark the measure. The sounds these instruments gave approached tolerably near those of the tambourin, and the following were their proportions to each other. Two bamboos of the middle length were in unison, the longest was a note and a half below them, and the shortest was two notes and a half above. The musician, that sung the counter-tenor, made his voice be heard much above the rest, though it was a little hoarse; and at the same time he accompanied it by beating with two little sticks of casuarina on a bamboo, six yards long, cleft throughout its whole length. Three musicians placed before the others expressed the subject of their song by action also, which no doubt they had thoroughly studied, for their gestures, were performed all together, and in the same manner. Every now and then they turned toward the king, making not ungraceful motions with their arms; sometimes they bowed their heads quickly, till the chin touched the breast, and shook them several times, &c.
In the mean time, Toobou presented the General with some pieces of stuff fabricated with the bark of the paper mulberry tree, causing them to be spread abroad with a great deal of ostentation, that we might be sensible of all the value of the gift.
One of his ministers, who sat on his right hand, ordered kava to be prepared, and presently a wooden bowl, of an oval shape, and a yard long (See Plate XXXI, Fig. 9), was brought in full of this liquor.
The musicians, no doubt, had reserved their choicest pieces for this instant; as now, at every pause they made, the cry of mâli, mâli, resounded from every quarter, and the reiterated applauses of the natives informed us, that this music made a very strong and pleasing impression upon them.
The kava was then distributed to the different chiefs, by him who had given orders for its preparation. He sent it to them in cups, which were made on the spot with the leaves of the plantain, and every time he offered a cup, he pronounced, in a pretty loud voice, the name of him for whom it was intended. Feenou he served first, saying mayé maa Feenou; and he did the same to the other chiefs, all whose names we could easily pronounce. Some of these, perhaps, the reader will not be displeased to hear; they were Nufatoa, Fefé, Mafi, Famouna, Fatoumona, &c.
We may presume, it was necessary, that some of the chiefs should judge of the goodness of the liquor, before the king drank; for it was not offered to him till it came to the fourth cup. None was sent to his daughters; and indeed it always appeared to us, that this liquor was reserved entirely for the men.
Notwithstanding the presence of the General, the king very soon fell asleep, and snored aloud, with his legs crossed, and his head bowed down almost to his knees. When he awoke, we showed him a drawing of a cow, and asked if that given to King Poulaho by Captain Cook had bred. He knew the animal perfectly well, which he called boakka, toote, and told us, there were none now at Tongataboo, but there were at Hapaee. Several of the natives, however, assured us, imitating at the same time tolerably well their lowing, that there were some at Tongataboo, though others denied it. Thus we were unable to learn what had become of the bull and cow, which Captain Cook had left on the island; and it was the same with regard to the horse and mare, which he had given to Feenou. Perhaps they were afraid that we should require some of these animals from them.
Quitting the assembly, we walked toward the east, ascending a gentle slope. At first we passed along, paths bordered with palisadoes; but we bon reached the end of these, and came to fields of yams fully cropped. Farther on, the ground, recently turned up, exhibited every appearance of fertility.
We soon reached a delightful spot on the top of a little hill, where the natives had formed a sort of rotunda, about four yards wide, with palisades, and some shrubs cut with art. Under this rotunda we still saw the remains of kava roots, that had been chewed; and round it were twenty-four small huts, constructed in a circle of fifteen or sixteen yards diameter. These huts were all covered with cocoa leaves, interlaced together their shape was nearly that of half; an oval, three yards long by two broad; and they were divided at the top, throughout their whole length; by a very narrow slit, which was the only opening in them, though there was no entering without separating its edges. We were informed by some of the natives; who had followed us, that the king frequently came to this place, to drink kava, with several of the chiefs of the island, and that then each went to take a nap in these sort of huts.
On returning toward the place of entertainment, we went round the largest circle formed by the natives; in the midst of which we saw several egui's wives. The wife of Futtafaihe attracted almost every eye by her beauty; but she took care, from time to time, to acquaint us that it was her duty to preserve her fidelity to her husband. This the expressed with great simplicity, by taboo, mitzi mitzi, words of which I cannot give a literal translation, as may be seen by the vocabulary of the language of the Friendly Islands, which will be found at the end of this work.
We observed in the hands of one lady, who appeared to be of some consideration, a sort of mat, about two feet square, and of a white colour, made of the hair of a horse's tail. Possibly they were obtained from those which Cook left on the island; but she would not satisfy our curiosity on this head.
The King had ordered his subjects to bring the presents which he intended for the General; and ever since half after ten we had seen many arrive at intervals, each of them carrying on his shoulder a bamboo two yards long, at the ends of which hung small fishes of the scarus and chætodon genera, most of them ready dressed, and wrapped in cocoa-leaves; others brought bread-fruit, yams, &c.; and presently, by laying their bamboos across each other, they raised two portions of triangular pyramids, one of them two yards high, the other one yard only. The raw fish already began to stink very much.
About one o'clock in the afternoon Toobou went away, without saying a word to any person. We then left the assembly, and were accompanied to the place where we landed by Feenou and Omalaï, who ordered a whole hog just dressed, some fish, yams, and bread-fruit, to be brought us, and invited us to sit down to our repast; but their hog not being half ready, for such is their usual mode of cookery, we preferred going on board to dinner.
They then requested us to accept these different articles of provision, which they ordered to be carried into our long-boat, while others of the natives, in obedience to the orders of Toobou, were filling it with the eatables taken from the pyramids, that had been erected for our Commander. In a very little time, every thing was ready for our departure.
Our boats having been obliged to push off from the shore, on account of the low water, we could not reach them but by crossing a coral bank covered with water for more than three hundred paces; but we found the natives extremely civil; for, that we might not be wetted, they carried us to some rocks just above water, to which others came with their canoes to fetch us, and conveyed us to our boats.
The men who carried us appeared well satisfied with the articles we gave them for their trouble; but in this short passage others contrived to gain still more, by robbing us at their ease, after having crept slily behind us, while their countrymen had us on their backs. All these pickpockets, however, did not meet with equal success, for we gave chace to some, whom we forced to restore what they had taken.
As soon as we got on board, the commanding officer informed us that, during our absence, he had caused a native to be seized, at the moment when he was going off with several articles of hardware, which he had stolen between decks; and that Futtafaihe, reprobating the habit of pilfering, of which the natives were every day guilty towards us, had affected to say publicly, that the culprit should be punished with death. But this, they soon perceived, was all artifice on the part of the chief: for, as soon as they began to inflict the punishment of the rope's end on the pilferer, he interceded for, his pardon, which, however, was not granted; and Futtafaihe seemed to be greatly affected at his receiving the five-and-twenty stripes, which he had been condemned to suffer.
2d. Pretty early the next morning, we received a visit from Tonga, who accompanied his father Toobou, the King's brother. They both took a great deal of trouble to explain to us all the dignities of their family.
Tonga several times gave us proofs of great intelligence, in particular when we showed him a chart of the Friendly Islands constructed by Captain Cook. He first glanced his eye rapidly over the archipelago; and then, stopping at Tongataboo, he observed to us, that several reefs of rocks had been laid down which did not exit; informing us that, to the north-west we should find a passage, through which we might easily carry our vessels into the open sea. This information was the more important to us, because we had supposed, that we must get out of the road, through the narrow channel by which we had entered, and in which we should probably have had to work out against the prevailing winds, which would be extremely favourable to our passing out through the new channel. Tonga offered to show it us, and would sleep on board that night, to conduct to it Citizen Beaupré, our engineer-geographer, who would ascertain its position.
On an excursion we made into the country nearest the anchoring place, we found among a group of the natives a young person, who had all the characteristics of an albino, and who was in other respects of a very sickly complexion, as is commonly the case, for this deviation from nature is owing to a state of disease.
3d. In the morning of the third, having surprised some of the natives, who were making off to the coast of Tongataboo with some articles, which they had just stolen from our ship, the commanding officer sent some of our people in pursuit of them; when one of the party, who had caused himself to be announced as a chief, said, that he would punish them himse1f, and would bring us the next day the things that had been stolen. But it appeared, that he was connected with the thieves, for he took care never to return on board again.
When we went ashore, Omalaï accompanied us, and admired the boat's rudder for a long time. He was desirous of steering himself, and did so with great skill. These people use nothing but paddles for steering their canoes.
The ladies, in dressing their hair, made use of cocoa-nut oil, previously perfumed with a small seed, which they call kava kali, and which is gathered on the island of Tongataboo. On examining a little of the oil, we observed, that some of the bruised nut, which in their language is called mou, was mixed with it. They exposed the nuts to the sun, after having spread them on mats, in order to dry them, before they press out the oil, with which the women anoint the upper parts of the body, no doubt to preserve the suppleness of the skin, and to prevent too copious perspiration. They preserve the oil in the seedpod of the melodinus scandens, after having taken out the seed. When we bought some of these little phials, a representation of which may be seen in Plate XXXI, Fig. 14, we frequently threw away the oil, lest it should run out in our pockets; but the women, being us with regret waste an article which they much value, commonly came forward, to receive it on their heads, and then, with their hands, they spread it over their shoulders and arms.
The natives had already sold us a great number of clubs of various forms, and fashioned with skill, as may be seen in Plate XXXIII; and we saw several who were employed in cutting out others with shark's teeth fixed at the extremity of a piece of wood (Plate XXXII, Fig. 23). We were astonished to see them cut with a child like this the wood of the casuarina, notwithstanding its extreme hardness. Others already handled the iron tools they had obtained from us with considerable dexterity. All these workmen had a little bag of matting, containing pumice-stones, with which they polished their work.
PLATE XXXIII. Continuation of the Effects of the Inhabitants of the Friendly Islands—Fig. 32. A fly slap made of the Filaments of the Cocoa-nut—Fig. 33. A Fan made of the Leaf of a Species of Palm, called corypha umbraculifera—Fig. 34. and 35. Wooden Pillows—Fig. 36. A Club for breaking the Head—Fig. 37, 38 and 39. Clubs—Fig. 40. A Kind of Bone Cutlass—Fig. 41, A Kind of Bone Sabre
I observed several cotton-plants of the species called gossipium religiosum, growing in uncultivated places; and I saw with surprise, that the fine cotton, which might be procured from it in abundance, was not used by the natives in any of their works.
About nine in the evening we perceived a canoe close by one of our buoys. Apprehensive that the people in her would cut the buoy-rope, we sent one of our boats in chace of her; but the boat had scarcely put off from the ship's side, when somebody was heard to fall into the water. Our men immediately hastened to the person's assistance; when seeing him swim away, without speaking a word, we had no doubt but it was a thief making off with his booty. He was pursued immediately, frequently escaped by diving, and was not taken at last till he had been wounded in the thigh with a boat-hook, which was employed to catch hold of him. As soon as he was brought on board, he was secured upon deck, where he remained all night. He confessed that, having taken several things out of our launch, he had conveyed them to the canoe, which was in waiting for them near our buoy, and had made off without delay. In half an hour afterwards, we fancied we saw her slowly approaching our ship astern, in search of the native whom we had seized. The men in our yawl immediately pulled away toward her, and when they came up with her, they found in her only one man and two paddles; but they soon discovered that they had brought us another thief, who had roamed about the ship till the arrival of another canoe, that came to convey him ashore. As soon as our people got sight of her, they gave her chace, but the natives in her paddled away with such speed, that it was impossible to overtake them.
4th. At three o'clock in the morning Citizen Beaupré returned with Tonga, after having examined the passage toward the north-west, of which Tonga had given us information. They had run along very close to Attata, which they, had left on the larboard, as they sailed from our anchorage. Kepa, the chief of this little island, had come to meet them, and, received them with great civility. In the morning he came to see us, and inquired after Captain Cook, who, he told us, was his friend. On being informed of his death, he could not restrain from tears, and took out of his girdle a shark's tooth, with which he was going to wound his cheeks, in order to express the violence of his grief, if we had not prevented him.
The art of physic is practised among those people with a parade of mystery. One of our crew, who had accompanied us along the beach, having hurt his wrist by an exertion, a native offered to ease the pain, and succeeded pretty quickly by squeezing and pressing the part injured, (en massant la partie blessée); at the same time he blew upon it repeatedly, intending, no doubt, that we should ascribe the cure to his breath.
On the sea-side we saw several natives occupied in squaring some large stones of the calcareous kind, which, we were informed, were intended to be employed in burying a chief, who was related to Futtafaihe. They first removed the earth from them, and then separated them by breaking them with a volcanic pebble, round which, near the middle, they took the precaution to wrap pieces of matting, to prevent the splinters from flying into their eyes. They were scarcely below the surface of the earth, and arranged in strata about four inches thick.
We had before observed among these people a game with the hands, which they call léagui, and which requires great attention. Two play at it, and it consists in one's endeavouring instantly to repeat the signs made by the other, while the former makes signs in his turn, which the other is to repeat in like manner. We saw two in, a party at no great distance from our market, who were so quick at this exercise, that our eyes were scarcely able to follow their motions.
Citizen Legrand, who had been sent the day before to discover some passages to leeward of our anchorage, returned in the evening, after having found two towards the north.
5th. Early in the morning I set off, with all the other naturalists of our expedition, for the island of Tongataboo. Some of the natives would carry us thither in their little canoes, but most of us, not being sufficiently careful in preserving our equilibrium, upset them as soon as they put off. We then determined to go in their double canoes, which they managed very skilfully, and soon set us ashore, making the passage under sail. The mast was set up in that canoe which was to leeward.
We were obliged to get out of the canoes more than six hundred paces from the shore, on account of the shallowness of the water, through which the natives carried us on their backs. They then showed us the dwelling of Toobou, the king's brother, where we stopped; and the gardener made him a present of several kinds of seeds, that were brought from Europe, chiefly of culinary vegetables, which the chief promised us to cultivate with care. We left him, to strike into the woods; the soil of which was of a calcareous nature; and we observed in different places heaps of madrepores, which proved that the waters of the sea had long covered the ground. On the trees we observed many large bats, of, the species called vespertilio vampyrus (the vampire bat), which the inhabitants told us were very good food.
We were near the middle of the wood, when a native, who had crept behind one of our party, snatched out of his hands a pair of pincers, which he used for catching insects. The thief instantly took to his heels; but he had scarcely run four-score paces, when, finding himself briskly and closely pursued, he placed himself behind a tree, round which he turned several times, to avoid being caught. Our companion, however, laid hold of his clothes, and fancied himself on the point of recovering his pincers, as he imagined he had the thief fast; but what was his surprise, when the other loosened his girdle, and left his clothes behind him, to escape with the article he had stolen!
We soon got into the fields, where we saw the property of each individual divided into small enclosures, surrounded by palisades, and completely cultivated. The Indian cole, arum esculentum, grew there vigorously among many other vegetables, which I have already mentioned, and which equally with it are used as food by the natives. The sugar-canes we saw there, were planted at a pretty considerable distance from each other, under the shade of the inocarpus edulis, the fruit of which these people road and eat, its flavour much resembling that of the chesnut. In the same enclosure, we saw several of the orange-leaved Indian mulberry trees (morinda citrifolia), loaded as with ripe fruit, which is much esteemed by the natives. They brought us a great quantity of this fruit for a few days when we first anchored here but we refused it on account of its insipidity.
After, proceeding some way to the eastward, we stopped to examine two little huts, erected in an enclosure of small extent, and shadowed by some fine shaddock trees, loaded with fruit, and several casuarina trees. Some natives informed us, that the remains of two chiefs of Toobou's family had been deposited in them; we lifted up the mat, which closed the entrance of the larger. The surface of the ground within was covered with sand, and toward the middle, we observed an oblong square; formed of small pebbles of different colours. None of the natives who were with us, would gather any of the shaddocks, no doubt from respect to the dead, though we desired to buy some of them. They said that they could not sell them to us.
In a short time we returned to the house of Toobou, to whom we made a complaint against the stealer of the pincers. He promised to return them to us the next day; and he kept his word. This chief pressed us to spend the night in his habitation; but we would not accept his offer, left our absence should occasion any uneasiness on board.
These people are accustomed to geld their pigs, with a view to render the flesh more delicate. We saw this operation performed on a very young pig, which one of the natives laid on the back, after having tied his legs, while another made an incision into the scrotum with the edge of a piece of bamboo, and removed the testicles, separating them from the parts to which they adhered, with all the dexterity of an anatomist.
Toobou treated us with fowls broiled on the coals; yams, plantains, and bread-fruit, roasted under the ashes, and the liquor of the cocoa-nut to drink.
Three of the daughters of this chief came to keep us company. They talked a great deal; and though we were very hungry, they did not scruple to interrupt us frequently, by forcing us to answer their questions, which related chiefly to the customs of the French, particularly those of the women. As they observed our seamen address every one indiscriminately, they enquired with earnestness, whether the women were not tabooed in France; that is to say, whether they enjoyed the same liberty as most of those in their island.
The answer, by which we endeavoured to convey to them an idea of our customs, pleased them highly. They informed us, that the eguis (chiefs) of Tongataboo had several wives; and asked how many wives a French egui usually had. When they understood that each had but one, they burst out into a laugh; and we had great trouble to persuade them, that the egui laï (kings) of Europe, had no more, which gave them no very high idea of their power.
Of all the articles with which we presented the ladies, odoriferous waters were most esteemed. They appeared to us as passionately fond of perfumes, as most of the inhabitants of warm climates; and yet their bodies were partly besmeared with cocoa-nut oil, which diffused a disagreeable odour.
One of the finest girls in this party having the little finger of the left hand wrapped round with a piece of stuff of the paper mulberry, which appeared bloody, we begged to see the wound. Another immediately took down from the roof, under which we sat, a piece of a plantain leaf, out of which she drew the first two joints of the little finger of the young girl, who had them very lately cut off, in order to cure her, as she told us, of a severe disease. She showed us the hatchet, made of a volcanic stone, which had been used for the operation; and informed us, that the edge had first been placed at the extremity of the third phalanx of the finger, and then the operator struck a smart blow on the head of this hatchet with the handle of another.
This young person soon left us; but, before she went away, she kissed Toobou's daughters after the manner of the inhabitants of the Friendly Islands, which is by touching with the tip of the nose the nose of the person you salute. It is remarkable, that these islanders, who pretty much resemble Europeans, have, notwithstanding, the extremity of the nose a little flattened; this slight deformity may very probably be owing to the custom, of which I have just spoken.
Toobou's daughters changed names with us; an established custom among these people, to testify their affection. They then played a very monotonous duet on flutes made of bamboo; but we were much amused at seeing them blow with the nose into a hole at the extremity of the instrument, in order to make it sound. We received from them as a present some combs of a very elegant shape, represented in Plate XXXII. Fig. 21.
The natives, who formed a circle round us, having stolen several of our things, we complained of it to Toobou's daughters, who soon after left us without saying a word, probably to go in search of their father, and request him to come and put an end to these pilferings; but, as we could not wait till their return, we soon began to walk toward the island of Pangaïmotoo. The tide being very low, we easily passed over the shoals, which connect the islets with the principal island. We stopped about half way at a hut, where we were witnesses of the manner, in which a woman was eating her meal, that appeared to us laughable enough. Sitting near a post, and motionless as a statue, the opened her mouth from time to time, to receive models of bread-fruit, which another woman put into it. We were informed, that it was not allowable far her to touch any kind of food with her own hands, because a few days before she had washed the body of a deceased chief.
When we arrived at Pangaïmotoo, Queen Tiné, sitting under a shed covered with cocoa-leaves, and erected under the shade of several fine bread-fruit trees, was giving an entertainment to General Dentrecasteaux. She first ordered some young persons of her attendants to dance; which they did with infinite gracefulness, singing at the same time, while Futtafaihe, who was standing, directed their movements, and animated them by his voice and gestures. (See Plate XXVII.)
After this we had a grand concert, which differed little from that the King had given us a few days before, only on the present occasion the expression of joy was much more lively.
The Queen was surrounded by women, while a great number of men kept at a little distance opposite to her, forming a circle round the musicians.
When the women had ceased dancing, several men rose up, each holding in his hand a little club, nearly of the shape of a paddle. These they brandished about, keeping time with much precision, and making different movements with their feet. The musicians, after they had sung some tunes in very slow time, sing often very quick, which gave this sort of pyrrhic dance a very animated action, that we admired for a long while. The subject of this dance excited our curiosity; but we soon found, that its object was to celebrate the great deeds of some of their warriors. The women occasionally united their voices with those of the men, accompanying their song with very graceful movements.
One of the armourers of the Esperance was much surprized to see among those dancers, and not far from Futtafaihe, the native who had stolen his sabre; this chief having always assured us that he could never find out the thief. It appeared to us, however, that it was one of his attendants: but he retired with precipitation as soon as he perceived that he was known.
During this time a pyramid of bamboos had been erected, to which were suspended different fruits, designed as fa present to the General from Queen Tiné.
We expressed a strong desire to see some of the natives engage in a wrestling match; but we were told that a spectacle of this sort was never exhibited before the Queen.
This entertainment had attracted a great number of the natives, among whom were several thieves, whose impudence was continually increasing. They had already taken several articles from some or other of us by open force, and run off with them into the woods.
More than thirty of us were assembled together, and we were quenching our thirst with the delicious liquor of the cocoa-nuts, which Tiné had just presented to the General, when a native had the audacity to snatch a knife out of one of our hands. Indignant at such effrontery, several of our party immediately ran after the thief, and pursued him as far as the island of Tongataboo; but, finding themselves surrounded by a great number of the natives, they presently returned toward our anchoring place. The smith of the Recherche, however, a German by birth, thought it was proper to show more courage than the rest, by venturing farther and farther among the natives. These soon faced about, pursued him in turn, as soon as they found him inclined to make off, and even attempted to strike him with their clubs; but he kept them at bay a long time, by presenting to the most forward a bad pistol, which he several times attempted to fire. Being now about seven hundred yards only from our ships, he fancied himself secure from any attempt on their part, when onto them laid open his skull with a club, and another threw a spear at his back. A great number of them fell upon him, and continued their blows till they thought he was dead. One of them tried repeatedly to shoot him with his own pistol, which they had seized, but fortunately the priming was gone. They were already dividing his clothes, when they were observed from the Esperance, and a cannon was immediately fired, the ball of which passed very near the assassins, and quickly dispersed them. We ran from all quarters to the assistance of the unfortunate smith. One of the crew, having come along the beach to his succour, was attacked by a native, who knocked out two of his teeth with his club; but the assault cost him his life, for he was instantly shot dead. Our smith was soon raised from the ground, and, though his head was laid open at the left frontal sinus to a considerable extent, and he had other very dangerous wounds, he had still sufficient courage to walk to the boat, supported only by the arms.
A few guns loaded with langrage were fired, to protect such of us as were on shore. The natives fled on all sides, and collected in very numerous bodies in different parts of the island; and, to endeavour to disperse them, and to bring off those of our people, who were still in the interior of the island, a detachment was sent on shore well armed.
Several chiefs, assembled close by our market with some of us, were rising to depart; but they yielded to our invitation not to quit the place.
Presently we saw a launch manned and armed coming from the Esperance, under the command of Trobriant, her First-Lieutenant. Knowing very little of the occasion of the alarm, and supposing that all the natives were preparing to fall upon us, he ordered his party to seize upon a double canoe, just as she was coming to the shore, totally ignorant of all that had passed. Most of the natives in her immediately leaped into the sea; but the chief, to whom the belonged, remaining on the deck, Trobriant sent one of the crew to seize him. On his attempting to strike the chief with a club the chief disarmed him; they laid hold of each other; and, Trobriant thought proper to fire on the chief, whom he shot dead. We were all extremely grieved at this misfortune.
Another native, witnessing what passed, leaped from the canoe's mast-head into the sea, not daring to come down upon deck and immediately a negro, whom we had taken on board at Amboyna, pursued him with a pike, which he had in his hand, but fortunately could not overtake him.
The rage of these barbarians was not yet appeased. A marine, by birth a German, whom likewise we shipped at Amboyna, perceiving the daughter of the unfortunate chief, who had concealed herself in the bottom of the canoe, had already raised his sabre to run her through, when a gunner belonging to the Recherche, Citizen Avignon, caught hold of the madman's arm. He then threw himself between him and the poor girl, whose mother soon gained the shore, distracted at the death of her husband. The daughter, too, wept bitterly for the loss of her father, and we saw her beating herself violently with the fist on the cheeks and breast.
We detained as hostages the son of the king, and Titifa, chief of the island of Pangaïmotoo; but we all remarked with sorrow, the dejection into which this confinement threw the king's son, whom we had often seen issue his commands with such haughtiness to the subjects of his father. He frequently repeated that he was our friend, and that he could with to accompany us to France. Titifa, on the contrary, expressed not the least fear.
These two chiefs spent the night in the great cabin of the Recherche. Each had brought with him a wooden pillow, of the shape of that represented in Plate XXXIII. Fig. 35, on which after lying down, they laid the back part of their head, according to the custom of these people, which is no doubt the cause of the very perceptible flattening observed in that part.
During the night we saw a greater number of fires on the north coast of Tongataboo, than we had ever perceived before.
The next morning at day-break we were awakened by the piercing cries of two women, who were making their lamentations, as they went round our ship in their canoe. They cried alternately one after the other, no doubt that their voices might be distinguished by Titifa; who knew them immediately. These women were his wife and daughter, who, in their grief, beat their cheeks and breast with their fists. He immediately ran upon deck, but could not quiet their alarm, till he had given them an account of the good treatment he had received on hoard; and when he told them that he should soon return on shore, they were transported with joy. A short time after he and King Toobou's son were both sent ashore in our barge, to the Island of Pangaïmotoo. The wife and daughter of Titifa followed us in their canoe, when, as they were passing close by the Esperance, a blunderbuss went off by accident, and hit their canoe, which they were obliged to quit, as in consequence she presently filled. We took them into our boat, and expressed our great sorrow at this mischance; but they soon forgot the danger they had run, for they were with Titifa, and thought of nothing more but the pleasure of seeing him set at liberty. We made them a present of a few articles of hardware, among which a hatchet gave them great satisfaction. Titifa told us, he should employ this in constructing another canoe, so that he should soon repair the loss he had just experienced.
When we landed, most of the natives retired from the shore, and were proceeding into the interior part of the island; but Titifa desired them to return, and ordered them to range themselves in a circle, which they immediately did. Our trade then recommenced with the greatest order imaginable. This chief would not quit us the whole time; but Toobou's son disappeared as soon as he set his foot on shore.
The chief, who had been killed the day before by Trobriant, appeared to be greatly loved by the natives, for several displayed much sensibility in lamenting his death.
For fear, they should endeavour to make reprisals on us, the General ordered every person belonging to our ships, to remain within the place where the trade was carried on.
Our ships were sufficiently stocked with all such provision as these people could furnish. As we had now nothing more to apprehend from the consequences of competition, some articles of hardware were distributed among the crew, that they might procure a few things for themselves. On this the natives raised their demands, for their goods to a very high price, frequently asking ten times as much as before they had been contented to take.
We saw in their possession an iron hook, which they had had skill enough to form like those which they fabricate of bone, tortoise-shell, mother-of-pearl, and other animal substances, the figure of which may be seen in Plate XXXII., Fig. 27 and 28. The line, to which it was fixed, was intended, undoubtedly, to fish in very deep water, for a pretty large piece of alabaster, cut into a conical shape, was fastened to it. (See Plate XXXII, Fig. 25 and 26).
PLATE XXXII. Continuation of the Effects of the Inhabitants of the Friendly Islands—Fig. 15. An Apron made of the Filaments of the Cocoa-nut—Fig. 16, 17, 8 and 19. Different Sorts of Necklaces—Fig. 20. Ornament for the Head—Fig. 21. A comb—Fig. 22. A grotesque Figure of Bone—Many of the Inhabitants wear them suspended to the Neck, as also a Bit of Bone, which is a bad Representation of a Bird, hung to the Necklace, No. 19—Fig. 23. The Tooth of a Shark, fixed to the End of a wooden Handle, and which is used in carving different Works—Fig. 24. A Rasp, made of the Skin of the Rayfish, fastened on a Piece of Wood—Fig. 25 and 26. Calcareous Stones which the Inhabitants tie to Lines, with which they fish at great Depths—Fig. 27, 28 and 29. Fish-hooks—Fig. 30. A wooden Hook, with four Branches, under a wooden Plate—Fig. 31. The wooden Plate
Titifa and several other chiefs were not without anxiety, on account of the hostile intentions of some of the natives toward us. They imparted to us their apprehensions, and persuaded us to return on board before the close of the day; their authority, no doubt, being insufficient to control them.
At night-fall we perceived, that our rudder chains had been taken away.
7th. We observed on shore several young girls, who had cut their hair to the length of an inch, except round the head, and afterwards powdered it with lime, for the purpose, we were told, of making it grow of a light colour. We saw several others, whose hair was of this complexion already.
Most of the women did not desist from asking us for glass and beads, with which they adorned themselves, as soon as they obtained them. Their request was always accompanied with a pleasing smile, and at the same time they inclined their head, laying one of their hands on the breast, in the manner represented, Plate XXX, Fig. 1.
PLATE XXX. Woman of the Friendly Islands—Woman of Amboyna
Titifa brought us some nutmegs, which were tolerably round, and as large again as those of the cultivated nutmeg, but they were destitute of aromatic flavour. The mace was covered with a pretty thick down. The natives, observing we received these with pleasure, quickly brought us more.
These people have invented a kind of flute, differing from that called in Europe Pan's reed only in the proportion of the tones. All the pipes gave full notes, and of little extent; and the highest is a fourth to the lowest. We purchased several of these flutes.
I obtained of our Commander a large box, to hold some young bread-fruit plants, for the purpose of enriching our colonies with that useful vegetable; and it was placed upon the larboard quarter gallery. Some of the natives procured me a great number of suckers, and I planted them in very good mould, which they brought me, and which they called kelé kelé. I also took some roots and cuttings of this valuable tree, which I buried in loam, oummea in their language, placing them horizontally. These cuttings were so many shoots, which I intended to plant on our arrival at the Isle of France.
8th. Queen Tiné came on board, just as Feenou was in the cabin with the General, to whom he had brought as a present a diadem, made with the beautiful red feathers of the tropic-bird, with some other very small feathers of a brilliant red colour. When he went out of the cabin, to return ashore, he endeavoured to avoid the sight of the queen; but the moment the perceived him, she made him come to her, and held out to him her right foot, which he took hold of immediately, and placed on the hind part of his head, making a profound bow, in testimony of the respect he owed the queen. He dared not refuse her these honours, though it appeared to us, that he was deeply affected by it. The General had just made him a present of several iron-tools, and we observed with pleasure, that he appeared to know the value of this metal, giving it a very decided preference to the bones and volcanic stones, of which most of the hatchets of these islanders are made.
We were afterwards visited by different chiefs, who repeated to us, what several others had already informed us, respecting the reigning family. They employed for the purpose playing cards, with which we furnished them. These they first spread on the table, and then they assigned to each the name of one of the persons of the family; which did not appear to us to bear one common surname, as Captain Cook imagined (that of Futtafaihe, at present the name of the son of Poulaho); for Poulaho's father was named Taibouloutou. Taibouloutou married a wife, whose name was Toobouhou, by whom he had four children; two sons, Poulaho, who succeeded him, and Futtafaihe; and two daughters, the one named Tiné, the other Nanatchi. When Poulaho died, he left a son very young, named Futtafaihe, whose uncle then took into his hands the reins of government; but he did not long survive his brother, and then the sovereignty devolved upon Tiné, the elder sister. She held all the honours of it, without exercising the authority, however; with which it appears a female cannot be invested; the power, therefore, passed into the hand of a chief named Toobou, brother to Tiné's mother. This queen had married Ovea, one of the chiefs of Tosoa; and he had divorced her, after having had two sons by her, Veaïcou, and Veatchi.
Thus it appears, that the succession to the throne devolves first on the brothers, then on the sisters, of the prince who has reigned, before it comes to his sons; and when a woman succeeds to the royal title, the sovereign authority is exercised by one of her mother's nearer relations, though only during the life of the queen. The family of Toobou will retain the power during the reign of Tiné; and Futtafaihe, the son of Poulaho, will not ascend the throne, till after the death of both his aunts. The royal family, at this time divested of the sovereign power, nevertheless enjoyed the regal honours, and even received the homage of those, by whom the authority was exercised, as we observed on several occasions.
Vouacécé, one of the chiefs of Feejee, had arrived at Tongataboo, soon after we anchored there. We were frequently visited by him, and he affirmed to us, what he had said several times, that it would take him three days sailing, in his double canoe, with a south-east wind, to reach Feejee, the situation of which he pointed out to the north-west. Hence we reckoned, that this island, which is very lofty, and of the fertility of which he boasted, much, was about a hundred and fifty leagues from Tongataboo. This is an immense voyage for people, who, having no instruments, steer only by observing the sun and stars with the naked eye, as soon as they are out of sight of land; but it is still more difficult to conceive, how they can reach Tongataboo from such a distance, when they have to work up against the south-east winds; and they must be very sure of their marks in the heavens, not to miss the land, after being obliged to ply to windward, as they are sometimes, for more than a month.
The people of Tongataboo informed us, that the natives of the Feejee Islands were cannibals but Vouacécé endeavoured to exculpate himself from this accusation, by assuring us, that the lower class of people only, the touas, ate human flesh. It appeared to us, however, from what we learned on other occasions, that the chiefs ate it likewise; indeed, as these people eat their enemies only, and commit this savage act solely to glut their rage, it may be presumed the people of Tongataboo did not impose upon us when they assured us that the Feejee chiefs themselves were cannibals.
Unquestionably the reader will be astonished to hear, that, notwithstanding this mark of ferociousness, the arts are much farther advanced at Feejee than at the Friendly. Islands; the inhabitants of which never sailed to inform us that the finer articles they sold us came from Feejee, being careful to give us to understand that they were very decidedly superior to those which they fabricated themselves.
Vouacécé displayed much greater desire of acquiring knowledge than any native of the Friendly Islands, most of whom visited us solely from motives of interest, and examined all parts of our ship with the greatest attention. He was very well made, and his physiognomy was strikingly expressive of character (see Plate XXIX. Fig. 2). His hair, on the fore-part of the head, was ornamented with red powder.
PLATE XXIX. Toobou, Son of the King of the Friendly Islands —Vouacécé, Native of Feejee
The natives of Feejee are frequently at war with those of Tongataboo; but, as soon as hostilities are at an end, a great trade is carried on between them.
The General received as a present from Futtafaihe a little canoe with an out-rigger, which was immediately stowed near the main-chains. It was near ten feet long, a foot wide, and capable of carrying only two persons. These canoes are decked for about a fifth part of their length at each end, which is sufficient for them to navigate with security within the reefs; but their double canoes, being intended for the open sea, are decked throughout their whole length, except toward the middle, where a little opening is left for a man to go down and bale out the water when it is necessary.
I saw with admiration that these people had consulted nature in constructing their canoes for speed. The bottom nearly resembles the under part of a fish of the cetaceous kind, which swims with the greatest swiftness, darting along by bounds on the surface of the water, the delphinus delphis, the dolphin.
9th. King Toobou having heard that we were soon to quit the island, came to intreat us to postpone our departure, and appeared extremely sorry when he found us determined to go.
The natives imagined, no doubt, that we wished to lay in a great stock of bread-fruit, for they brought much more than usual to our market but this fruit would not keep long without rotting, unless we had cut it into slices and dried it, or fermented it, as the natives do, much in the same manner as is done in Europe with several species of culinary vegetables. Ever since we had been at anchor we had sufficient for our daily consumption; and we ate it with pleasure, relinquishing for it without regret our biscuit, and even the small allowance of fresh bread, which was usually served out to us every day, though this was of a very good quality. We preferred the bread-fruit to yams; but the natives, who came to dine with us, seemed to eat them almost indiscriminately. Our cook commonly boiled it for us; yet it would have tasted much better had he taken the trouble to bake it in the oven.
This fruit is nearly of an oval shape, about a foot long, and eight inches thick. The whole is eatable, except a very thin rind, with which it is covered, and a small portion at the centre, where the cells terminate. These contain no seeds, but are full of a very nutritious pulp, easy of digestion, sufficiently agreeable to the taste, and which we always ate with fresh pleasure.
During eight months of the year this tree produces its fruits, which, ripening one after another, thus afford the natives an abundance of wholesome food, I shall not describe it here, as this has been done already by skilful botanists. The want of seeds, no doubt, arises from propagating the tree by suckers and in this respect it differs remarkably from the wild species, the fruit of which is much smaller, not very numerous, and full of large kernels, which are difficult of digestion.
The natives brought us a few bits of yellow sanders, and to render its smell more powerful, they took care to rub it strongly with a rasp made of the skin of the ray, such as is represented in Plate XXXII. Fig. 24. They told us, that they procured it from the Feejee Islands, whence they call it haï-feejee: and they said that they had frequently endeavoured to transplant some of the trees to their own island, but they could not succeed.
The canoes round our ship left us when night was coming on, returning to the nearer part of the shore, as was customary; and our men were still very merry, when the young women, who had found means to get between decks, gave them notice of their departure, saying to them aloud, bongui bongui, mitzi mitzi. These words I shall not attempt to translate; but from the vocabulary of the language of these people, given toward the end of the present work, it may be seen, that the girls were not ashamed to publish what had passed between them and the crew, at the same time that they promised them to come again the next day.
Early the next morning several chiefs came to see us, and announced to the natives, who were already assembled round our vessel in their canoes, that we were on the point of quitting their island; when we were much surprised to see a number of young women immediately falling into tears, and uttering piercing cries. No doubt their sorrow was very acute, but it was of short duration; for soon after we saw them merry enough with their companions.
Futtafaihe requested us to sharpen for him a couple of hatchets, which had been given him by Captain Cook, and which he had had reforged on board the Esperance. This chief was accompanied by his wife, who amused herself a long while by playing with a sort of cup and ball, invented by these islanders. This toy consisted of a ball of wood, which the threw up into the air, and then endeavoured to let fall through a very small semicircle of shell, to which the ball was fastened by means of a long string. We were admiring her address, when Futtafaihe, seized with a fit of jealousy at seeing in her hands some presents which she had just received from one of our officers, began to abuse her; and though his suspicions were without foundation, they had a great deal of difficulty to persuade him of his mistake. This chief was with his father-in-law, We made them some presents just as the son of king Toobou arrived, and they immediately hid them in their girdles; but Toobou perceived it, and we had soon a fresh proof that if the royal family enjoyed the honours of sovereignty, the family of Toobou reaped all its profits. Toobou searched the girdles of the two chiefs, and seized every thing they had just received. Futtafaihe had no other means of revenge but by preventing his eating in his presence, not suffering him to sit by his side, and placing his foot on his head; accordingly he presented his foot to him soon after, and Toobou paid him the homage due to a person of superior rank.
We had many times seen the chiefs openly taking to themselves things that belonged to people of the lower class; and we always remarked with surprise that this species of oppression by no means diminished the unalterable gaiety of their dispositions. When they were assembled together, you would hear them every moment burst out into great peals of laughter. Their government appeared to us, as it did to Captain Cook, to have a considerable affinity to the feudal system.
Several natives requested to embark with us, in order to accompany us to France; and Captain Huon allotted a birth on board the Esperance to Kové, a son of the queen. This chief, to convince us that he was prompted only by the wish to accompany us, would not accept any of the articles we offered him. The General, whom he came to see, set before him the principal inconveniencies attendant on long voyages; yet he persisted in his resolution, and returned on board the Esperance. Just as he was sitting down to dinner, however, several natives came to intreat him to go on shore to see his family at least once more, before he undertook a voyage of such a length. He complied with their intreaties, and never returned on board again. Some of the natives informed us, that he was unable to resist the prayers and tears of nine wives and several children, whom he was going to leave, perhaps never to see more; and that he had promised not to quit them. Kové had a fine countenance, but not the gaiety of the other natives. Perhaps some domestic uneasiness had been one of the chief causes of his desire to leave his country. Had he carried his design into execution, he would many times have regretted the delicious fruits of his native isle, when reduced, like us, to feed on worm-eaten biscuit.
At the beginning of the night we fired off ten or a dozen muskets, and immediately we heard the shouts of a great number of the natives, which were repeated from different places along the shore.
Our stay at the Friendly Islands contributed greatly to restore the health of our crew. We found there plenty of vegetables, and laid in a great stock. The pork was excellent, which must be attributed in part to the good quality of the roots and fruits with which the natives feed their hogs. We took on board as many as our stye would contain; and we were convinced, in the sequel, that they could bear a long voyage, though Captain Cook informs us that he experienced the contrary with respect to those which he procured at the Friendly Islands in the different visits he paid them. We purchased upwards of four hundred while we lay at anchor, the greater part of which we salted. We adopted the process recommended by Cook in his third voyage, which consists in using a strong brine, with a sufficient quantity of vinegar to dissolve the salt. This we could do the more easily, as a great part of our wine was turned sour.
A small quantity of pork was salted by our butcher with salt alone; and though under the Torrid Zone, it kept as well as what we prepared after Cook's manner, and tasted even better. The fat preserved in the brine made with vinegar was disgusting on account of its extreme softness, and it had a very strong taste of the vinegar, which no one liked.
Our coops were filled with fowls.
During the whole time of our lying at anchor, the quicksilver in the barometer did not rise above 28 inches two lines, French measure, and its variation was about one line.
The thermometer in the shade on shore had not risen higher than 25° 4-10ths, though we felt excessive heat.
The winds had varied from the south-east to the north-east, blowing but faintly.
Our observatory was in 21° 8' 19" S. lat., and 180° 29' 38" E. long.
The variation of the needle was 10° E.
The spring-tides rose five feet; and it was high water about half after six on the days of new and full moon.
From the accounts given us of the ships that had anchored in this archipelago, by very intelligent natives, we were convinced that La Pérouse had never put in to any of these islands. Besides, they assured us, that no accident had happened to any vessel that had stopped at them, except to Bligh's launch; the affair of which they related without disguise, as I have mentioned above. The indifference with which they told us this story, convinced us, that if these people be not naturally ferocious, they are at least strangers to sentiments of humanity. The blows with clubs, or logs of wood, with which the chiefs usually accompany their orders, are an additional proof of this. They well remembered the different periods at which they had seen Captain Cook; and, to acquaint us with the intervals, they reckoned them by harvests of yams; giving two of these to each year. Several of the natives, particularly those of the royal family, pronounced the name of Cook with enthusiasm; but the great severity of that celebrated navigator had prevented many others from bearing him in memory with equal pleasure; they spoke of him only with complaints of the rigorous treatment they had experienced at his hands. In fact, though in his last voyage he speaks only of one man wounded by a ball in the thigh, we saw another who had been shot through the shoulder;* and he assured us that he had received this wound during Cook's last visit to Tongataboo.
[* In the account of Cook's last voyage, now before me, it is expressly said, that the man was shot through the shoulder, the ball having entered a little above; the inner part of the collar bone, and passed out obliquely backward. How Labillardiere was led into this mistake, I cannot say.—Translator.]
The natives of the Friendly Islands are in general tall and well made; for which they are principally indebted, no doubt, to the abundance and good quality of their food. The fine shape of these people is not degraded by excessive toil. Their muscles being strongly marked, we presumed, they must have great strength; but the idle life they lead renders them very little capable of great exertion, accordingly, when they tried their strength against our sailors, they were almost always worsted.
The men, as well as the women, are accustomed to cut off one or two joints of the little finger, and sometimes of the finger next to it, in the hope of obtaining a cure from severe diseases.
Most of them are tatooed on all parts of the body. We saw a great number, whose akin was covered with a scurfy eruption; which perhaps is owing to their not being accustomed to wipe themselves, or wash themselves with fresh water, after having been into the sea.
We observed no symptoms of the venereal disease among the natives; one of our seamen, however, caught a gonorrhoea there, but from a woman, who had kept company with a man belonging to the Esperance, that had long laboured under the complaint. Have these people been fortunate enough, for the disease to have become naturally extinct among them; after having run through its several stages with rapidity ? since, from the testimony of Captain Cook, there can be no doubt but it has formerly made great ravages in these islands.
The skin of the people of the Friendly Islands is tawny, because they frequently expose themselves o the heat of the sun; but the women, who remain pretty constantly within doors, or in the shade of their trees, have very fair complexions. The countenances of the women are in general very pleasing, and highly animated; and the good state of health they enjoy is particularly owing to their extreme cleanliness, and the good quality of their diet.
Departure from Tongataboo—We get Sight
of the Southern Part of the Archipelago of the Tierra del
Espiritu Santo, (New Hebrides)—Discovery of the Island of
Beaupré—We Anchor at New Caledonia—Interviews
with the Natives—Description of their Huts—These
Savages are Cannibals—Their Impudence toward us—They
eat great Pieces of Steatite, to appease their Hunger—Their
Attempts to seize upon our Boats—Different Excursions into
the interior Part of the Island—Death of Captain
Huon—New Species of Spider, on which the Savages of New
ABOUT seven in the morning we got under way, with a pretty fresh breeze from the east-south-east, and steered for an hour from north-west by south to north, and afterward north by east, passing out through a channel toward the north of our anchoring place, which had been examined by Citizen Legrand.
In this channel we found by the lead from five fathoms and a half to nine fathoms water.
Some of the natives followed us in their canoes, expressing great regret at our quitting their island. They cried out from all parts, offa, offa Palançois, at the same time giving us marks of their regard.
We soon got ahead of the canoes that were paddled along; but those with sails were obliged to slacken their rate of going, to keep at a short distance from us; and we had an opportunity of observing, that they would have taken the lead of our vessels considerably, is they had availed themselves of the whole force of the breeze this advantage, however, they could soon have lost, if the wind had been stronger, and the water less smooth. As soon as we got into the open sea, they desisted from keeping us company any farther. We were then more than two leagues from the anchoring place we had just quitted, and we set the west end of Attata, bearing south 48° west.
At this time we had a gravelly bottom, with twenty-two fathoms and a half of water.
11th. The next day, about five in the afternoon, we made Tortoise Island, bearing froth us north-west by north.
On the 16th, about seven o'clock in the evening, the Esperance made a signal for seeing land west 18° north, about eight leagues distance. This was Erronan, the easternmost of the islands of the archipelago of Espiritu Santo, discovered by Quiros in 1606. A little before noon the island of Annaton was in sight, distant ten leagues, south west by south.
It was five in the afternoon when we made the island of Tanna, bearing west 16° north. Pillars of smoke issued from its volcano, and spread abroad in the air, forming clouds, which rose at first to a prodigious height, and which, after having traversed an immense space, sunk lower as they grew cooler. During the night we enjoyed the brilliant spectacle of these clouds, illumined by the vivid light of the burning matter, which was thrown out from the bowels of the volcano at intervals.
18th. We were steering westerly, the wind blowing very fresh from the east, when, about half after three in the morning, Dumérite, the officer on the watch, heard the screams of a flock of sea-fowl passing very close by our ship: apprehensive, that we were near some of the rocks, which commonly serve them as a retreat, he thought it advisable to bring to, and wait for day-light to continue our course; and as soon as day broke; we saw a very little way to leeward of us some reefs of rocks stretching a great way; on which our ship must inevitably have struck, if this fortuitous occurrence had not given us notice to stop our course in time. In fact, as the night was extremely dark, it would have been impossible to have seen the breakers soon enough to avoid them; besides, the wind blowing very fresh, the sea ran so high all round us, that we could not soon enough have distinguished the waves that broke on the reefs from the refs. Beyond these reefs, and near two leagues distant from them, we saw an island, which bore, when we made it, south 28° west, and to which I gave the name of Citizen Beaupré, engineer-geographer to our expedition. This island lies in the latitude of 20° 14' south, longitude 163° 47' east. It is very low, and about 1500 toises long. We afterwards discovered some rocks bearing south 21° east; and a little while after some others towards the south.
It is to be remarked, that the currents let us to the north about twenty-four minutes a day, when we were near Tierra del Espiritu Santo, and passing between that archipelago and New Caledonia. Undoubtedly this is owing to the position of the land, which, while it changes the direction of the currents determined by the general winds, increases their strength.
About one o'clock in the afternoon we got sight of the high mountains of New Caledonia to the south-west; and at half-after four we were within a thousand toises of the reefs bordering that island. The foot of the mountains on this side are washed by the sea, and they are likewise more steep here than on the western shore, which we coasted along the year before.
We saw a fine cascade, the water of which, after having disappeared several, times in deep gullies, came tumbling into the seat, and we admired the picturesque effect of the torrents, which we perceived toward the south-west, their waters white with foam producing an agreeable contrast to the dusky verdure of these high lands.
During the night we continued plying to windward, endeavouring to maintain our station against the currents; that we might be in a situation to come to an anchor the next day.
19th. As soon as day-light appeared we approached within 800 toises of the reefs, along which we ran, in order to find the opening through which we were to reach the anchoring place; but it blew very hard from the south-south-east, and we had already fallen to leeward, when we. distinguished the opening in the reefs. Though we were pretty near the shore, we did not perceive Observatory Island, which left us for some time doubtful whether we were opposite the place where Captain Cook anchored in 1774; and accordingly we put about, to get more to the the north-east. At noon we found by our observations, that we must be near Observatory Island, and it was not long before we got sight of it, though it is extremely low; when we immediately bore away for the anchoring place. In the opening between the reefs we had from eleven fathom water to thirteen and a half, but when we got within them we had only from seven fathoms to eight and a half.
A double canoe immediately came sailing out to us. She had on board eleven natives, whose manoeuvres gave us no very high idea of their skill in navigation. They spoke to us, and showed us some pieces of white stuff, which they waved in the air, still keeping more than a hundred toises from the ship. A short time after they returned on shore.
The Esperance, being a little to windward of us, grounded on a shoal which we in consequence took care to avoid, and presently after let go our anchor, in order to lend her assistance. General Dentrecasteaux immediately sent our long-boat to her, and at eight o'clock in the evening we had the agreeable news that the was again afloat, and had received no damage.
20th. At sun-rise the next morning we saw four canoes under sail, coming towards our ships. When they got very near us, they seemed to be under some fears; but one of the savages, having yielded to our invitations, and come on board, was followed by almost all the rest. We were surprized, to find them set more value on our stuffs than on our nails, or even hatchets, which they called togui; a name much resembling that given them at the Friendly Islands, though they do not speak the same tongue, as maybe seen by the vocabularies of the languages of these people, at the end of the present work. We could not doubt, however, but they were acquainted with iron, which they designated to us by the denomination of pitiou; but the very hard stones which they use, renders it of less importance to them, than to many other inhabitants of the South Sea Islands.
We showed them some cocoas and yams, and requested them to bring us some; but, far from going to fetch any for us, they wanted to buy ours, offering us in exchange their spears and clubs, and giving us to understand that they were very hungry, putting their hands to their bellies, which were extremely flat. They expressed some fear on seeing the pigs which we had on board, which led us to suppose that they had no such animal; though Captain Cook had left two, a boar and sow, with one of their chiefs. As soon as they saw our poultry, however, they imitated the crowing of the cock tolerably well, so as to leave us no doubt that they had fowls on their island.
None of the women in the canoes contented to come on board our vessel; and when we were desirous of making them a present of any thing, the men took it to carry to them.
XLV. Double Canoe of New Caledonia
These savages came in double canoes of the shape represented in Plate XLV. Fig. 1. Their mast was fixed at an equal distance from the two canoes, and toward the fore part of the platform, by which they were joined together. They are not so skilfully constructed as those of the Friendly Islands, to which they are much inferior in point of sailing. One of them, running against our ship with too much force, received so much damage, that the canoe on one side soon filled. The savages in her immediately got upon the other, and let themselves go with the current, which drifted them toward the shore. The other canoes left us presently after, and sailed after her, in order to give her assistance.
21st. Early in the morning we manned the capstan, in order to warp our ship nearer to Observatory Island; for which purpose we had carried out several hawsers tied end to end; but they gave way several times, and obliged us to let go the anchor again.
We were surrounded by canoes, the natives in which came on board our ship, and sold us several articles, such as are delineated in Plates XXXVII and XXXVIII. Some of them had a few cocoa-nuts and sugar-canes, which they would not part with by any means, though we offered a great price for them.
PLATE XXXVII. Effects of the Natives of New Caledonia—Fig. 1. A wooden Mask—Fig 2 and 3. A Bonnet—Fig. 4. A Necklace—Fig 5 and 6. Bracelets—Fig. 7, 8 and 9. Combs—Fig. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15. Clubs
PLATE XXXVIII. Continuation of the Effects of the Natives of New Caledonia—Fig. 16. A Bag to contain the oval Stones, which the Inhabitants throw with their Slings—Fig. 17. The Sling—Fig. 18. The Stone—Fig. 19. The Nbouet, an Instrument with which the Savages of New Caledonia cut the Flesh of their Enemies, which they divide among them after a Battle—Fig. 20. Two human Arm-bones, tapered and well polished, intended for tearing out the Intestines of the unfortunate Victims which those People devour—Fig. 21. A Hatchet of serpentine Stone fixed in a wooden Handle—Fig. 22, 23. Fish-hooks—Fig. 24. A Basket—Fig. 25. A Spear of the Natives of the Admiralty-islands, pointed with a Piece of volcanic glass—Fig. 26. A Flute of the Natives of Louisiade—Fig. 27. A Necklace of the Natives of Louisiade—Fig. 28, 29 and 30. Huts of the Savages of New Caledonia
These savages were all naked, except that they wrapped their privities in pieces of coarse stuff, made of bark, or in large leaves of trees. Their hair is woolly; and their skin is nearly of as deep a black as that of the inhabitants of Diemen's Cape, whom they very much resemble in the general cast of their countenance. Several of them had their heads bound round with a little net, the meshes of which were large. We observed with surprize, a great many, who, desirous, no doubt, of having the appearance of long hair, had fastened to their own locks two or three tresses, made with the leaves of some plants of the grass kind, and covered with the hair of the vampire bat, which hung down to the middle of their backs.
Most of these islanders, armed with spears and clubs, carried at, their waist a little bag full of stones, cut into an oval shape, which they throw with slings. (See Plates XXXV and XXXVIII. Fig. 16, 17, and 18.) The lower lobe of their cars, perforated with a very large hole, hung down to their shoulders. Into these holes some had introduced leaves of trees, others a piece of wood, to stretch them bigger. Several had this lobe jagged perhaps from having been torn, either in battle, or in running through the woods.
[MISSING: PLATE XXXV. Native of New Caledonia throwing a Javelin]
Behind the ears of one of these savages we observed tubercles of the shape of a veal sweetbread, and half as big as a man's fist. He appeared well pleased at seeing us examine this ornament, the growth of which he had effected by means of a caustic, by which the parts, no doubt, must have been greatly irritated for a considerable time.
The women had no other garment than a kind of fringe, made of the filaments of the bark of trees, which served them as a girdle, passing several times round the waist. (See Plate XXXVI).
PLATE XXXVI. A Woman of New Caledonia
The canoes kept themselves close by our ship, by means of different ropes, which we had thrown out to them. Each of them, however, had a large stone, to serve as an anchor, fastened to a long rope, but they did not make use of these on the present occasion.
22d. The next day we got up our anchor at six o'clock in the morning, and made several stretches to get nearer to Observatory Island, which the natives call by the name of Pudyoua. At half after ten, when we brought up, this island was not above 500 toises distant to the east 3° 15' south. We saw the land of New Caledonia from east 19° 30' south, to west 12° north, from the nearest shore of which we were only 590 toises. The inhabitants now had no occasion for their canoes to come to us; most of them swam to the ship, with the articles which they wished to sell.
I ought not here to omit a malicious trick, which had nearly caused the loss of the young bread-fruit trees, that I had brought from the Friendly Islands. I had watered them in the evening; but, seeing some drops of water early in the morning trickle from the box in which they were planted. I had no doubt, but some one had watered them long after me. Of this I was fully convinced, the moment I tasted the water, that filtered through the mould; for it was salt. The inquiries I made to discover the person who had been guilty of this trick, were in vain.
About one in the afternoon we went ashore, and were soon surrounded by a great number of the natives, who just came out of the middle of the wood, into which we had entered several times, though still keeping near the shore. We presently found a few scattered huts, three or four hundred paces distant from each other, and overshadowed by a few cocoa trees. Soon after we came to four, which, formed a little hamlet, in one of the gloomiest parts of the forest. They were all nearly of the shape of beehives, a toise and a half in height, and as much in breadth. (See Plate XXXVIII, Fig. 28, 29, 30).
Figure 28 represents one of these huts, surrounded by a palisade a yard and a half high, made with the limbs of the cocoa tree, arranged pretty close to each other, and three feet and half from the borders of the hut. A. little walk was formed, in the same manner before the door.
We afterwards saw several huts which were not surrounded by palisades (See Fig. 29). The door, which was about a yard high, and half a yard wide, was sometimes closed by means of a piece of a limb of the cocoa tree, the folioles of which were interlaced. Several of these doors had two posts, made of planks, at the upper extremity of each of which a man's head was rudely carved. The lower part of these huts was erected perpendicularly to the height of a yard, where they tapered off in a pretty regular cone, terminated by the upper end of a post that was fixed in the centre of the floor.
Figure 30 represents the inside of these huts. The frame consists of poles, bearing against the upper end of the post, which may be seen rising from the middle of the floor, and which is near three inches in diameter at the bottom. A few pieces of wood bent to an arch, render these little habitations sufficiently strong. They are covered with straw to the thickness of two or three inches. The floor, on which the natives are perfectly sheltered from the weather, is spread with mats. But the moschettoes are so troublesome, that they are obliged to light fires to drive them away when they go to deep; and as there is no vent for the smoke, except at the door, they must be extremely incommoded, by it.
In general there is a board within the hut on one side, fastened with cords in a horizontal position, about a yard from the ground. This shelf however, can support nothing of much weight, for the cords are very slight.
Near some of their dwellings we saw little hillocks of earth, twelve or fourteen inches high, with, a very open trellis in the middle, of the height of two or three yards. The savages called these nbouet, and informed us that they were graves; inclining the head on one side, while they supported it with the hand, and closing the eyes, to express the repose enjoyed by the remains of those who were there deposited.
On returning toward the place where we landed, we found more than seven hundred natives, who had run thither from all parts. They asked us for stuffs and iron in exchange for their effects, and some of them soon convinced us that they were very audacious thieves. Among their different tricks I shall relate one which these knaves played me. One of them offered to sell me a little bag, which held stones cut into an oval shape, and which was fastened to his waist. He untied it, and held it out as if ready to deliver it to me with one hand, while he received the price agreed upon with the other; but at the very instant another savage, who hast posted himself behind me, gave a great scream, which made me turn my head round, and immediately the rogue his comrade ran away with his bag and my things, endeavouring to conceal himself in the crowd. We were unwilling to punish him, though most of us were armed with firelocks. It was to be feared, however, that this aft of forbearance would be considered as a mark of weakness by the natives, and render them still more insolent. What happened soon after seemed to confirm this; several of them were so bold as to throw stones at an officer, who was not above two hundred paces from us. We would not yet treat them with severity; for we were so much prejudiced in their favour, from the account given of them by Forster, that more facts were necessary to destroy the good opinion we entertained of the gentleness of their dispositions; but we had soon incontestable proofs of their ferociousness. One of them having in his hand a bone fresh roasted, and devouring the remainder of the flesh still adhering to it, came up to Citizen Piron, and invited him to share his repast. He, supposing the savage was offering him a piece of some quadruped, accepted the bone, on which nothing but the tendinous parts were left; and, having shown, it to me, I perceived that it belonged to the pelvis of a child of fourteen or fifteen years of age. The natives around us, pointed out on a child the situation of this bone; confessed, without hesitation, that the flesh of it had furnished some one of their countrymen with a meal; and even gave us to understand, that they considered it as a dainty.
This discovery made us very uneasy for those of our people, who were still in the woods; shortly after, however, we had the pleasure to find ourselves all assembled together in the same spot, and no longer feared that some of us would fall victims to the barbarity of these islanders.
When we got on board our ship, being surprised at seeing none of the savages there, we were formed that there had been a great many, but that they had been driven away because they had stolen several things. Most of them had made off in their canoes; and the rest had jumped into the sea and swam ashore; two, however, were returned on board, not being able to swim fast enough to join the others, whether owing to some bodily infirmity, or to their having leaped into the sea too long after the departure of their boats to be able to take refuge in them. As, the sun was already set, and they were cold, they went to warm themselves at the fire in our cook-room.
The most part of those who belonged to our expedition, and who had remained on board, would not give credit to our recital of the barbarous taste of those islanders, not being able to persuade themselves that people, of whom Captains Cook and Forster had given so favourable an account, could degrade themselves by such a horrible practice; but it was not very difficult to convince the most incredulous. I had brought with me a bone which had already been picked, and which our Surgeon-Major said was the bone, of a child. I presented it to the two natives whom we had on board. One of those cannibals immediately seized it with avidity, and tore with his teeth the sinews and ligaments which yet remained. I gave it next to his companion, who found something more to pick from it.
The different signs which our people made, in order to obtain an avowal of the practice of eating human flesh, being aukwardly made, occasioned a very great mistake. An excessive consternation was instantly visible in all their features; doubtless because they thought that we also were men-eaters, and, imagining that their last hour was come, they began to weep. We did not succeed in convincing them entirely of their mistake, by all the signs we could make of our abhorrence of so terrible a practice. One of them made a precipitate retreat through a port-hole, and held fast by one of the ropes of the mizen mast shrouds, ready to leap into the sea; the other jumped into the water at once, and swam to the most distant of the boats astern of our vessel; they were not long, however, before they recovered from their fear, and rejoined our company.
The small stream, where Captain Cook had taken in water when he touched at this place, was dry when we visited it; we found, however, a small watering place to the south-west of our vessel, about three hundred paces distant from the sea; the water was very good, but it was rather difficult to be come at, and the reservoir which furnished it scarcely supplied enough to fill once in a day casks sufficient to load the long-boat of each ship, so that it was necessary to wait till next day till more was collected to replenish them.
We found very near this watering place the rusty bottom of an iron candlestick, which probably had lain there ever since 1774, when Captain Cook anchored in this road.
23d. The next morning we went on shore at the nearest landing place, where we found a number of savages who were already taking some refreshment. They invited us to join them in eating some meat just broiled, which we distinguished to be human flesh. The skin which yet remained, preserved its form, and even its colour on several parts. They shewed us they had just cut that piece from the middle of the arm, and they gave us to understand, by very expressive signs, that after having pierced with their darts the person of whose limbs we saw the remnants in their hands, they had dispatched him with their clubs. They no doubt winced to make us sensible that they only eat their enemies, and indeed it was not possible that we should have found so many inhabitants in this country, if they had had any other inducement but that of hunger to make them devour each other. We went to the south-south-west, and soon crossed a country which lies rather low, where we saw some plantations of yams and potatoes; we then came to the foot of some mountains, where we found ten of the inhabitants who joined our company. They soon began to climb up trees of the species called hibiscus tiliaceus, the younger sprouts of which they pulled off and immediately chewed, in order to suck the juice contained in the bark. Others gathered the fruit of the cordia sebestina, which they eat even to the kernel. We did not expect to see cannibals content themselves with so frugal a repast.
The heat was excessive, and we had not yet found any water. We followed a hollow track, in which we remarked the traces of a torrent of water in the wet season. The verdure of the underwood, which we perceived a little farther off on its borders, gave us hopes of finding a spring to quench our thirst; in fact we were no sooner arrived than we saw a very limpid stream issuing from an enormous rock of freestone, and afterwards filling a large cavity, hollowed out in a block of the same sort of stone. Here we halted, and the natives, who accompanied us, sat down by us. We gave them biscuits, which they devoured with avidity, though they were very much worm-eaten, but they would not even taste our cheese, and we had nothing eatable besides to offer them.
They preferred the water of the reservoir to wine or brandy, and drank in a manner which afforded us no small entertainment, inclining the head at about two feet distance above the surface of the water, they threw it up against their faces with their hands, opening their mouths very wide, and catching as much as they could; thus they soon quenched their thirst. It may easily be conceived, that even the most expert at this method of drinking must wet the greatest part of their bodies. As they disturbed our water, we begged them to go lower down to drink, which request they immediately complied with.
Some of them approached the most robust amongst us, and, at different intervals, pressed with their fingers the most muscular parts of their arms and legs, pronouncing rapareck with an air of admiration, and even of longing, which rather alarmed us, but upon the whole they gave us no cause for dissatisfaction.
I observed in these places a number of plants belonging to the same genera with many of those I had collected in New Holland, although the two countries are at very great distance from each other.
We saw with surprize, about a third part of the ascent up the mountain, small walls raised one above another, to prevent the rolling down of the ground which the natives cultivated. I have found the same practice extremely general amongst the inhabitants of the mountains of Asia Minor.
It is not a common practice amongst the savages of New Caledonia to make an incision in the prepuce; nevertheless, out of six of them, whom we persuaded to satisfy our curiosity in that respect, we found one who had it slit in a longitudinal direction on the upper side.
When we had reached the middle of the mountain, the natives who followed would have persuaded us not to go any farther, and informed us that the inhabitants on the other side of this ridge would eat us; we, however, persisted in ascending to the top, for we were sufficiently armed to be under no apprehension of danger from these cannibals. Those who accompanied us were, without doubt, at war with the others, for they would not follow us any farther.
The mountains which we ascended rise in the form of an amphitheatre, and are a continuation of the great chain which runs the whole length of the island. Their perpendicular height is about 2,500 feet above the level of the sea. We observed them rise gradually to the east-south-east, till they terminated in a very high mountain about three miles from our moorings.
The chief component parts of those mountains are quartz, mica, and steatite, of a softer or harder quality, schorl of a green colour, granite, iron ore, &c.
On our descent from these mountains, we stopped at the bottom in the midst of several families of savages assembled in the neighbourhood of their huts, to whom we signified a desire to quench our thirst with the water of the cocoa-nuts; but as this fruit is rather scarce in that part of the island, they consulted together for a considerable time before they agreed to sell us any. At last one of their number went to pull a few from the top of one of the highest trees, in order to bring them to us. We were extremely surprised at the rapidity with which he ascended, holding the body of the tree with his hands, he ran along the whole length of it, almost with as much case and celerity as if he had been walking on an horizontal plain. I never before had occasion to admire such agility amongst any of the other islanders whom we had visited.
The sea water frequently washed the foot of the tree from which our cocoa-nuts were taken, so that the liquor with which they were filled was somewhat sour, but we drank it, being extremely thirsty. The children of these savages waited till we had emptied the water of the cocoa-nuts, when they begged them of us, finding means to get something more from them. They tore with their teeth the fibrous covering of these young fruits, of which the nuts were scarcely formed, and then eat the tender part enclosed in it, which was much too bitter for our palates.
When we arrived on board, we learned that two of the islanders had that morning carried off from an officer of our vessel (Bonvouloir), a uniform cap and a sabre, while he was occupied on shore making some astronomical observations, although the sailors, who had landed with him, had traced upon the sand a large circle round the place of observation, which they had forbidden the savages to enter; but two thieves having concerted their enterprise, advanced with precipitation behind the officer who had just sat down, and placed his sabre underneath him. One of them seized his cap, and the instant he rose up to pursue him, the other ran away with his sabre. This bold manoeuvre was certainly not their first attempt.
Night approached, all our boats were, already alongside, yet two officers (Dewelle and Willaumez), were still on shore, with two of the ship's crew, but, they soon arrived on the beach, followed by a great number of the inhabitants. The General's boat was instantly dispatched to bring them on board. They told us that the savages, who had crowded around them, to the number of above three hundred, upon observing that all our boats had quitted the shore, had behaved in the most audacious manner. One of them having wrested his sword from Dewelle, the latter attempted to pursue the thief, but the others immediately raised their clubs in his defence. All of our people were robbed with the greatest effrontery, but when our boat arrived, two chiefs, who probably had prevented the savages from proceeding to greater extremities, begged leave to embark in it. They carried two small parcels of sugar-cane and cocoa-nuts to the General, who made them in return a present of an axe, and several pieces of stuff. Those chiefs, whom they called Theabouma in their language, wore on their head bonnets of a cylindrical form, adorned with feathers, shells, &c. (See Plate XXXVII, Fig. 1st and 2d.) but as they were open at top, they were no covering from the rain.
It was not long before a double canoe, dispatched from the shore, came to convey the chiefs back again. It was night before they departed, and the savages on shore had lighted a fire on a sandbank to warm themselves. We went ashore on the 25th with those of the crew who were appointed to recruit our stock of wood, which they cut at a place 500 yards distant from where we had watered.
We did not stray far from our wood-cutters, for we were but few in number, and the designs of the natives appeared to us very suspicious. About nine in the morning they took possession of our shallop which was anchored near the coast, and only guarded by one man. They were already, dragging it towards the strand, in order to carry off the effects that were in it with the greater ease, when another boat's crew came to its relief; but the thieves did not give up their enterprise till they were on the point of being fired upon.
Lasseny having gone on shore to make some astronomical observations, was obliged to re-embark almost immediately, being unable to keep off a number, of savages who seemed inclined to attempt the seizure of the instruments, although he was armed and accompanied by two assistants, besides several of the boat's crew.
The master gunner of the Esperance, while hunting in the forest, perceived about noon, in a large open space not far from the wood-cutters, above two hundred natives, who were practising themselves in throwing their darts, and different exercises. He retired unperceived, and hastened to relate to us what he had just witnessed. One of the officers of our vessel immediately went with four fusileers to observe the motions of the savages; who, on perceiving them, advanced; and obliged them to make a precipitate retreat towards the wood-cutters. The savages soon repaired thither likewise; and we were not long before we discovered the design they had formed of seizing our axes, which had been laid in a heap in the midst of our workmen, who were assembled to take some refreshment. The commanding officer instantly gave orders for those tools to be carried into the long boat; but the sailor who attempted it was assailed by the islanders, who were on the point of carrying them off, when several musquet shots were fired. One of the most audacious, who fell on that occasion, had still strength enough to crawl as far as the wood. The others retired immediately, and saluted us with a shower of stones from their slings. The stones, which they carried in small bags suspended from their belts, were cut into an oval form; but they did not wound any one dangerously, on account of the great distance; besides, most of them were stopped by the branches of the trees, behind which the natives had taken refuge. This is not always the case when they fight among themselves; for being then probably less afraid to advance, they frequently have their eyes beat out in these battles, as several of the inhabitants, who had lost one of them, informed us. When they discharge the stones from their slings they only make half a turn with them above their heads, which is done with as much expedition as if thrown with the hand. These stones, cut from a steatite of considerable hardness, are very smooth, for which reason the savages take the precaution to wet them with their spittle, to prevent their sliding from the two small cords of which the bottoms of their slings are formed.
The different movements of these savages having been perceived from on board the Recherche, the General ordered two cannon-shot to be fired on them, which made them immediately disperse across the wood; but soon after one of their chiefs advanced towards us alone and unarmed, holding in his hand a piece of white stuff, made of the bark of a tree, which the Commanding Officer received as a token that the good understanding between us and the savages should not be interrupted. Soon after four other natives came and sat down in the midst of us with as much confidence as their chief, behind whom they placed themselves; but he seemed much displeased with several others who came to rest themselves under the shade of the neighbouring trees, whom he several times called robbers (kaya).
We re-embarked at four o'clock, P.M. and were already steering towards our ships, when we saw a troop of savages running along the strand towards us, loaded with a variety of fruits, which they had brought as a present for us. They leaped into the water several times to bring them to us, but we were driven in a westerly direction by a strong current, and could not stop to receive those marks of reconciliation.
I went on shore next day very near the watering place at the same time that the General arrived there. The guard was stronger than the day before, in order the better to keep the islanders in awe. It was feared after what had passed the preceding day, they might attempt to poison the water with which we were going to fill our casks, and it was thought necessary, according to the opinion of our Chief Surgeon, to try the experiment on a goose; but it was attended with no bad effects. Indeed, several of our sailors would not wait for the result of that proof, but, being very thirsty, had already drank of the water even before the commencement of the experiment.
The inhabitants having approached our place of landing, lines were drawn on the sand, the limits of which they were forbidden to pass, and we had the satisfaction to observe that they submitted peaceably to those orders. We gave to most of them pieces of biscuit, which they begged by extending one hand, whilst with the other they pointed to their bellies, which were naturally very flat, but the muscles of which they contracted as much as possible, to make them look still more empty. I saw, nevertheless, one man whose stomach was already well lined, but who, in our presence, eat a piece of steatite, which was very soft, of a greenish colour, and twice as large as a man's fist. We afterwards saw a number of others eat of the same earth, which serves to allay the sensation of hunger by filling the stomach, and thereby supporting the viscera of the diaphragm; although that substance affords no nutritive aliment, it is nevertheless very useful to these people, who are often exposed to long privations from food, because they neglect the cultivation of the soil, which is of itself very barren.
It is probable that the natives of New Caledonia have made choice of this earth on account of its being very liable to crumble; it is extremely easy of digestion, and one would never have suspected that cannibals would have recourse to, such an expedient when pressed by hunger.
Three women having joined the other savages who surrounded us, gave us no very favourable idea of their music. They sung a trio, keeping time very exactly, but the roughness and discordant tones of their voices excited in us very disagreeable sensations, which the savages, however, seemed to listen to with much pleasure.
Lahaie, the gardener, and myself, ventured into the middle of the wood, followed by only two of the ship's company; we went from choice into those places where we thought we had least chance of meeting with the natives, who took care to conceal themselves behind bushes when they perceived us; at other times they hid themselves behind large trees, changing their position as we moved; but one old man, finding us approaching on both sides of the tree, behind which, he was, so that he could not conceal himself, came up to us as if abandoning himself to our discretion, but he soon appeared satisfied he was safe when we gave him a few pieces of biscuit.
The gardener had already scattered in the wood different sorts of seeds which he had brought from Europe; but as some still remained, he gave them to the savage, requesting him to sow them.
We soon discovered a number of huts standing at some distance from each other, and were surprised at not finding any inhabitants in them. They were constructed in the same manner as that described in the beginning of this chapter; further on we perceived a heap of ashes; probably one of the habitations had been recently consumed by the fire which the savages kindle to drive away the musquitoes.
Two tombs which were not far distant had not sustained any damage. I saw two human bones, each suspended by a cord to a long pole stick, in the ground; the one was a tibia, the other a thigh bone.
I observed, on the hills which I crossed to return to our landing place, the tree called commersonia echinata, which is very common in the Moluccas. Amongst the different sorts of shrubs which I gathered was a jessamine remarkable for the plainness of its leaves and its flowers, which have no smell, and are of the colour of marigolds.
Several fires lighted near the summit of the neighbouring mountain convinced us that it served as a retreat for the natives.
On arriving at our landing place we found a great number of savages, who had assembled there since our departure. They informed us that several of the inhabitants had been wounded in the affair of the preceding evening, and that one had already expired of his wounds. They did not manifest any hostile dispositions towards us; but a boat belonging to the Esperance being at a considerable distance from thence towards the east, had been attacked by another party of savages, who thought they were in some sufficient to make themselves mailers of it, but fortunately they failed in the attempt.
We were told on arriving on board that not a single, canoe had approached our vessels; which we thought was rather to be attributed to a smart gale which had blown the whole day, than to any fear of our resentment for the hostile disposition manifested by them the preceding evening.
We had formed a design, together with several persons belonging to the two vessels, to go and visit the other side of the mountains, bearing south of our moorings; for this purpose we assembled on the shore to the number of twenty-eight, early in the morning of the 26th. We had all agreed to come armed, that we might be able to render mutual assistance, in case the savages should venture to make an attack upon us.
We marched for a long while in paths that were well beaten, accompanied by some of the inhabitants, and many of us, in imitation of them, chewed the young sprouts of the hibiscus tiliaceus, and threw them away almost immediately; but to our great surprise the savages eagerly picked them up, and chewed them over again without the least hesitation.
When we had reached the middle of the mountain we found very large blocks of mica, wherein we perceived granites which had lost their transparency, and most of them larger than a man's thumb. We found others farther on in the rocks of freestone, which were very small, but retained their lustre.
A smoke which we observed to issue at intervals from grove at a small distance to the S.S.W. induced us to direct our course that way. We there found two men and a child occupied in broiling, in a fire of charcoal, the roots of a sort of bean, which is known to botanists by the name of dolichos tuberosus, and which the islanders call yale. They had been but recently dug up, for the stalks were still hanging to them, and were covered with flowers and fruits. They partook of, the barrenness of the soil which produced them, the fibres were very stringy, and they were not more than three-quarters of an inch in thickness, and about ten or eleven inches in length.
We met very near the same spot with a small family, which appeared to be alarmed at our approach. We immediately made each of them a few presents, in hopes of encouraging them, which had the desired effect upon the husband and two children; but one of our people having offered a pair of scissars to the mother; and wishing to shew her the use of them, by cutting off a few of her hairs, the poor woman began instantly to cry, no doubt giving herself up for lost: but her fears subsided as soon as she was put in possession of the instrument.
The inhabitants of these mountains appeared to us to live in the greatest wretchedness. They were all extremely meagre. They sleep in the open air without being tormented by the musquitoes; for these insects are driven from the high grounds by the E.S.E. winds, which blow here almost incessantly. The same winds are so prejudicial to vegetation, that trees which below grow to a great height, here wear the appearance of shrubs. Melaleuca latifolia, for example, is scarcely fourteen inches high, whereas on the hills it attains the height of twenty-seven or thirty feet. But still there are vegetables peculiar to the summits of those mountains, which appear to agree perfectly well with the current of air to which they are thus exposed. I shall give a description of one of the most remarkable. It forms a new genus, which I distinguish by the name of dracophyllum.
The calix is composed of six small oval leaves, pointed towards the end.
The corolla is in one piece, and divided slightly on the border into six equal parts. It is surrounded with six small scales at the lower end.
The stamina, to the number of six, are attached to the corolla by small fine threads, nearly of the same length with the antheræ.
The ovarium is at the top, of a roundish form, and surmounted by a style, of which the stigma is of a simple form.
The capsule is composed of six cells, each containing a number of seeds, most of which are unproductive.
I ought to observe, that one of the parts of fructification is often wanting.
I have given this plant the name of dracophyllum verticillatum, its flowers being disposed in rings.
These leaves are rough, and slightly dentated, or notched, on the edges. They leave their impression on the stalk as they separate from it, as is the case with all sorts of dracaena, with which that plant has a great analogy, even in the texture of the wood it produces. It is therefore of the division of minocotyledon, although it has a calyx and a corolla, and naturally takes the next place to the species of asparagus.
PLATE XL. Dracophyllum Verticillatum
Explanation of the Figures, Plate XL.
Fig. 1. The plant.
Fig. 2. Blossom.
Fig. 3. The corolla magnified and cut obliquely, to shew the stamina.
Fig. 4. The capsule.
In examining from the summit of these mountains a great extent of breakers which defend the approach to this island, we observed another passage, at a small distance to the west of that by which our vessels had reached their present moorings. Towards the south we had a prospect of a delightful valley, surrounded with large plantations of cocoa trees, from amongst which we saw columns of smoke arising, from the fires made by the savages. Vast fields, which appeared to us to be cultivated, even in the lowest parts, indicated a great population. The valley was traversed by a canal filled with water, which we mistook for a river, the different branches of which came from the foot of the eastern mountains; but we afterwards found that this canal was filled with stagnated sea-water. We perceived towards the south-west the shoal, along which we had sailed the year before; and we distinguished the same inlet in it which the violence of the wind had prevented us from sounding. It appeared to us a place of safety for such vessels as wished to anchor out of the reach of breakers.
We were only followed by three natives, who no doubt had seen us sail along the western coast of their island last year; for before they had quitted us, they spoke of two vessels they had seen in that direction.
We proceeded for some time along the tops of the mountains towards the south-west, then we descended into a hollow, where we found two men and a child, who showed no concern with respect to us, and did not quit the rock upon which they were seated. When we were close by them, they shewed us a basket (see Plate XXXVIII. Fig. 24), filled with roots, resembling those of a kind of sun-flower called helianthus tuberosus. They called them paoua, saying that they were good to eat, and, they wanted to sell us a small quantity.
Perceiving, at about thirty yards distance, a thick smoke issuing from the midst of large broken rocks, which offered a good shelter from the wind, we directed our course towards it, and found a young savage busy roasting some roots, amongst which we distinguished those of the dolichos tuberosus. He did not appear surprized at our visit, and smiled at us from the bottom of his cavern, which was filled with a very black smoke, whereby he however did not appear to be at all incommoded.
Near, this place the side of the mountain, laid open by the torrents which descend in the rainy season, discovered to us clusters of beautiful pieces of green schorl in a soft steatite, and below that small fragments of a very transparent rock chrystal.
In returning to our vessel we came through a small village, the inhabitants of which left their huts unarmed. They allowed us to examine the inside of them, and one of them, without any hesitation, sold us some human bones which were hanging up over one of their tombs.
We soon after arrived on the sea coast, where we found a party of the natives who followed us, begging something to eat, but as all our provisions were confirmed, I gave them some green steatite, which I had brought from the summit of one of the mountains; some of them eat as much as two pounds weight of it.
Whilst we were embarking in order to return en board, one of the crew fired his piece in the air to unload it, which struck such a panick in most of the islanders who were on the shore, that they instantly ran off to conceal themselves in the woods; but some of them, confident of our good intentions towards them, shewed no symptoms of fear, but called back the fugitives, who soon rejoined them.
On the 27th I was obliged to remain all day on board, in order to arrange and write descriptions of various articles which I had collected the day before.
We received a visit from several of the natives who swam to the vessel. They were at great pains to assure us that they were not in the number of those who had committed acts of hostility against us, and they told us they had eaten two of those robbers, or kaya, one of whom had received a ball in the thigh and another in the belly in the engagement with us, but we did not give entire credit to this story, supposing they had fabricated it to screen themselves from suspicion.
They brought with them an instrument which they called nbouet, a name which they likewise gave to their tombs; it was formed of a fine piece of flat serpentine stone, with sharp edges, and nearly of an oval form, perfectly well polished, and of the length of nearly seven inches. It was perforated with two holes, through each of which passed two very flexible rods, whereby it was fixed to a wooden handle, to which they were fastened with bands made of bat's-skin. This instrument was supported by a pedestal made of a cocoa-nut shell, which was likewise tied with strings of the same kind, some of which were longer (See Plate XXXVIII, Fig. 19). We could not till then discover the use of this instrument; these savages told us that it was to cut up the limbs of their enemies, which they divided amongst them after a battle. One of them shewed us the manner, by imitating it on one of the ship's company, who, at his desire, lay down on his back. The savage first represented a combat, in which he indicated by signs that the enemy fell under the strokes of his javelin and club, which he brandished with great violence. He then performed a sort of warlike dance, holding in his hand the instrument of murder; he then shewed us that they begin by opening the belly with the nbouet, throwing away the intestines, after having torn them out with an instrument (represented in Plate XXXVIII. Fig. 20), made of two human cubitus, well polished, and fixed to a very strong tape. He shewed us they next cut off the parts of generation, which fell to the share of the conqueror. The legs and arms are cut off at the joints, and distributed, as well as the other parts, amongst the combatants to carry home to their families. It is difficult to describe the ferocious avidity with which he represented to us the manner in which the flesh of the unfortunate victim is devoured by them, after being broiled on a fire of charcoal.
The same cannibal gave us likewise to understand that the flesh of the arms and legs is cut into pieces about three inches thick, and that the muscular parts are reckoned by these people a very delicious morsel. It was no longer difficult for us to conceive why they felt our legs and arms with their fingers in a longing manner, at which times they made a slight whistling noire, produced by shutting the teeth, and applying the end of the tongue to them, then opening their mouths, they gave several smacks with their lips.
We went on shore on the 28th, but not being in sufficient numbers, durst not venture to go far beyond our watering place. We no longer saw in the environs large parties of natives, as on the first days after anchoring here, which made us think that they had returned to their habitations, probably at a considerable distance from this place; indeed how could such a vast number of men have found the means of subsistence on a coast so extremely barren.
Next day (the 29th), we set off early, to the number of eighteen, all well armed, with the intention of ascending a very high mountain, situated to the south-south-east, and from thence descending, if the weather should prove favourable, into a delightful valley, which we had already perceived at a great distance behind the mountain.
We marched at first towards the east along the shore, and soon entered an extensive wood, when, amongst other birds which we killed, there was a species of pie, which I named the pie of New Caledonia. It is entirely black except the breast, shoulders and neck, which are white. The bill is rather jagged at the extremity of each mandible, and is of a light black from the root to within one-third of the point, the remainder is yellowish. The feathers of the tail are arranged in rows two by. two, the upper ones being much longer than the others (See Plate XXXIX, in which the bird is represented.)
PLATE XXXIX. Magpie of New Caledonia
We had already proceeded above a mile, when we arrived at a village composed of a small number of huts, sufficiently distant from each other to prevent the flames from communicating in case of any unfortunate conflagration. Two of them had been recently consumed. We there saw women cooking victuals, composed of the bark of trees and a variety of roots, amongst which I discerned those of the hypoxis, of which I have already made mention. These different articles were put dry into a large earthen pot, supported over a fire by three large stones, which supplied the place of a trevet. We observed near the entrance to one of those huts a large heap of human bones, on which the recent effects of fire were very evident.
It was probably an inhabitant of this village who stole the sabre of Bonvouloir, as related above, for here we found the sheath and belt suspended over one of their tombs, as a kind of trophy.
Upon leaving this village, we followed a beaten path to the south-east, where we were not long before we saw some Caribbee cabbages (arum esculentum), planted near a rivulet, the stream of which the inhabitants of the island had turned off lower down to a plantation of arum macrorrhizon. Farther on we remarked some young banana trees planted at five or six yards distance from each other, as also some sugar canes.
Soon after this we were surrounded by at least forty of the natives, who came out from the adjacent huts, and from some straggling cottages scattered in an extensive plain covered with plants and shrubs, above which rose a small number of cocoa trees; but we were astonished to see only very few men amongst these savages, all of whom were either old or infirm, and most of them cripples. The remainder consisted of women and children, who testified much joy at receiving some presents of glass ware which we gave them. We presumed that the stout men were engaged at a distance in some expedition again their neighbours.
We were about one mile distant from the first village when we discovered another twice as large, situated on the borders of a small river, along which we went upon a rising ground in a southerly direction. Upwards of thirty natives came out to meet us, and followed us for some time. We soon perceived three others descend from the mountains, one of whom we knew, having received several visits from him on board the Recherche. Several amongst the natives pointed him out to us as a chief of great distinction, whom they called Aliki.
We sat down on the borders of the small river to take some refreshment, and to prevent the danger of any surprize from the savages, we invited them to sit down. Aliki immediately complied with our invitation, and his example was followed by the others. The water being a few paces below us, the savages filled our bottles as fast as we emptied them.
After breakfast we ascended towards the south, accompanied by Aliki and three other natives, who testified a strong desire to follow us. Some cocoa and banana trees, planted on the least rugged of the borders of the hollow formed by the waters of the small river, pointed out to us the residence of some of the natives. We found there a hut exactly like those which we had had seen before. Aliki said the hut belonged to him. It was surrounded with several of a new species of fig tree, the fruit of which those people eat, after having exposed it to the fire for some time in earthen vessels, in order to extract its corrosive quality.
Clouds, brought on by a brisk gale from the south-east, covered the tops of the mountains about ten in the morning, and occasioned a heavy shower of rain, of which the savages took scarcely any notice. They did not even seek for any shelter; whilst we retired underneath the thickest trees. As soon as it ceased we continued our route, and they followed us with many marks of friendship. One of them, wishing to relieve a sailor who was loaded with a large tin-box, filled with a variety of objects of natural history, carried it for above four hours.
We soon after crossed over the small river, on the banks of which I observed the acanthus ilicifolius. We then ascended very rugged rocks for a considerable time, and were under great obligations to the savages, who exerted themselves in supporting its by the arms, to prevent our falling.
Each of them carried an axe of serpentine stone; and one of them wishing to show us how they made use of them to cut wood, hacked off a branch of the melaleuca latifolia, about four inches thick.
It was not till after a number of strokes, that he was able to make a slight notch in it, then he broke it by forcibly bending down the end of it; they all shewed the greatest surprize at seeing us cut down in a short time, with a military axe, some of the largest trees in the forest.
We had just reached the summit of one of the highest of those mountains, when one of our people made signs to the savages that he wished to have some water to drink. Immediately two of them offered to go and fetch some from a hollow that appeared to be above half a mile distant. They set off, and we soon lost sight of them. As they were a long time before they returned, we were afraid they had gone away with the bottles we had entrusted them with, but at last they returned, and appeared pleased that they had it in their power to offer us some very pure water to quench our thirst.
After this we descended towards the south-east and crossed a fine valley, where I made a copious collection of plants, among which were the acrostichum australe, and several new species of limodorum.
A very heavy rain obliged us to seek for shelter in the hollows of the rocks, where we remained for some time. We invited the savages who accompanied us to partake of our repast, but were much surprised to find those cannibals reject with disdain the salted pork which was offered them.
The badness of the weather having prevented our continuing all night on the mountains, we returned towards our vessels, going in a westerly direction, in order to follow the declivity into a large valley, parallel with that which we had just crossed. I there observed many new species of passiflora. The ginger, amomum zingiber, grew there abundantly, but the natives told us they made no use of it. As soon as we arrived on the shore, where we found our boats in waiting, to take us on board the ships, they quitted us, and went off to the eastward.
I employed the whole of the 30th in describing and assorting the numerous collection of articles of natural history, which I had made the day before.
MAY 1st. This day we went towards the south-east, and after having penetrated a considerable way into the woods, we arrived at a hut surrounded with palisades, behind which were a woman and two children, who appeared frightened on our approach, but they resumed their courage upon our presenting them with some pieces of cloth, and a few glass beads.
We next went towards two great fires that were kindled by the savages in one of the most gloomy parts of the forest. They dispersed as soon as they perceived us, leaving two baskets filled with the bark of trees.
Soon after we arrived on the borders of some marches, where we killed several beautiful birds of the genus muscicapa; they had been attracted thither by the swarms of musquitoes, which served them for food. Further on we so found two young girls who had just lighted a fire: they were dressing for their repast different sorts of roots, amongst which I recognized several belonging to plants which I had met with under the shade of the large trees in the forest. The girls left their provisions for some time, retiring as we approached them.
On our quitting the wood, we met with several savages who accompanied us to our landing place. They were much amused with seeing Citizen Riche's dog pursue some of the natives who were at a considerable distance, and whom he soon overtook, though they ran as fast as they could. As he did them no injury, those who were with us begged us to let him at some women who were then coming out of the wood, and were anticipating their fright, but we would not be persuaded to comply with their request.
We were witness, on arriving at the shore, to a fact which proves the great corruption of manners amongst these cannibals. There were two girls, the oldest of whom was not more than eighteen, who were shewing to our sailors that part which they are accustomed to conceal with the fringed girdle mentioned above, and which forms the whole of their clothing. A nail, or something of equal value, was fixed upon as the price of this favour; but they took care to make their curious customers pay beforehand.
Upon returning to the ship, I found a chief who had dined at the table with the officers. He had come in his canoe, accompanied by his wife, whom he would never allow to come on board, notwithstanding our repeated requests to that purpose.
On the 2d we went a shooting in the great woods, which we had not explored, to the south-east, where we killed a prodigious quantity of birds. We stopped in a small village, where we saw over two tombs pieces of wood rudely carved: the inhabitants told us that it was forbidden to approach them, but they consented very readily to sell us in exchange for some pieces of cloth a human scull that was suspended over another tomb, the coronal bone of which was fractured on the left side. They informed us, that the warrior it belonged to had been killed in battle by a club.
Next morning early, twenty of us set off with an intention to cross the mountains, and front thence to descend into the extensive valley, where, in one of our excursions, we had descried at a great distance a considerable number of cultivated fields. It was probable that we should there meet with a great number of inhabitants, but we were sufficiently armed to be able to repel any attack which they might venture to make.
At first we followed the coast, advancing towards the west, and penetrating from time to time into the woods, we saw a number of inhabitants quit their huts, and leave behind them a net which they had spread out to dry. It appeared that that implement of fishing is very rare amongst these savages: its common size is about eight yards in length, and eighteen inches in breadth. They shewed us but very few of them during our whole stay in the island, and no price could tempt any of them to part with one.
We perceived near this place a great quantity of broken shells of fish, which had served the Islanders for food. We found several of the species known by the name of benitier, of the length of twelve or thirteen inches. They still bore the marks of the fire which had served to dress the animal contained in them.
The women principally are employed in fishing for shell-fish. We saw some of them from time to time, opposite to where we lay at anchor, who advanced into the water up to their waists and gathered great quantities, which they discovered in the sand, by means of pointed sticks with which they groped for them.
We had already gone about three miles along the coast without finding any stream of water, when three young savages came to meet us, and persuaded us to follow them to their cottage, not far out of our road. We then found a spring, below which they had dug some trenches to conduct the water to some plants of the arum macrorrhizon, the roots of which they eat.
We were on the dope of a small hill, under the shade of some cocoa trees. One of the savages, whom I requested to procure us some of their fruit, climbed to the top of the tree with an extraordinary degree of agility.
We soon after continued our course to the westward. The air was serene, and the heat excessive, and we were attacked by a cloud of musquitoes, which tormented us very much, by stinging every part of the body, not even sparing our eyes and ears. Fortunately a breeze of wind springing up soon after, relieved us from their persecutions, by dispersing them.
Soon after this we arrived on the borders of a deep canal, which went in an inland direction to the foot of a very craggy mountain. This canal served as a harbour for the islanders, three of whom we saw enter it in a double canoe, which they immediately fastened with a rope tied to the foot of a tree on the same side we were. They then went at a slow pace towards the small hills on the south-east, pretending not to have perceived us. Their canoe was the only one in the harbour. We made use of it to cross to the other side, where we found a small cottage, the plantations contiguous to which had been recently laid waste. We still perceived tome remains of Caribbee cabbages, and of sugar canes. The tops of all the cocoa trees had been cut off, and perhaps inhabitants had fallen victims to the voracity of the barbarians who had thus destroyed them.
Till then we had never met with any of the tombs of the savages, except close by their huts, but we now found one at a great distance from any habitation whatever, on the side of the road which we pursued. It differed from the others, being built of stone from the base till about half way up.
We halted about noon, under the shade of several casuarina equesetifolia, and of several new species of cerbera, which grew on the banks of a rivulet, where we quenched our thirst, and in which we found some fragments of roche de corne, brought down by the water. We caught two sea-snakes (coluber laticandotus), which we broiled and eat, but found very tough and ill tasted.
We were about eleven miles distant from our vessels when fresh marks of devastation made us lament the lot of the wretched inhabitants, whom revenge often prompts to the commission of the most horrible excesses. They had destroyed the principal habitations, and cut off the tops of all the cocoa trees about them, having only spared two small sheds which were covered with spongy bark of the melaleuca latifolia.
Presently after a forest of cocoa trees, whose tops we perceived at the distance of a mile and a half to the west, together with several columns of smoke which rose in different directions, were indications of a great population. We directed our course toward this place for some time, but the marshy ground which we must have crossed to reach it, caused us to abandon our design; besides, the day drew towards a close. We then went southward in search of a commodious situation to pass the night in, when we soon pitched on an eminence, the difficult access to which secured us from being surprised by the savages. We lighted a fire, for the cold was sharp and piercing on those high grounds, and we felt it the more sensibly, as during the day we had experienced in the plain a very great degree of heat.
I gave all the birds which I did not mean to preserve to those of the ship's crew who accompanied us, and amongst those which they broiled immediately for our supper were several of the corvus caledonicus, and some very large pigeons of a new species, which I had before met with on the first days after our arrival.
We all supped and then went to sleep, leaving two of our number to watch by turn, for it was to be feared that the light of our fire would bring some of the islanders to us. In a very short time we were apprised that the light of several torches, with which the savages were approaching our retreat in an easterly direction, was perceived towards the foot of the mountains. In an instant, we were all on our legs to observe their motions, and prepared to give them such a reception as circumstances might render necessary in case of attack; but after traversing several small hills, they descended towards the coast, getting farther from us to the eastward. Perhaps these cannibals were upon some expedition against their enemies. As we did not appear to be the object they were in quest of, we immediately lay down again to sleep, trusting to the vigilance of our centinels.
4th. At day-break we ascended towards the south-east, and were not long before we reached the summit of the mountain, from whence we perceived, toward the west-south-west, on the sea coast, the great opening of the canal which traverses the plain we proposed to visit.
We soon descended into a valley, nearly about the middle of which stood a delightful grove, to appearance planted by the hand of man, but it was only the goodness of the soil, moistened by the water from the neighbouring mountains, that rendered the bushes so strong and luxuriant. I then collected a great number of plants, amongst which I found a new kind of fern of the myriotheca species, the tallest of which rose to the height of twelve feet, although the stem was not more than three inches and three quarters in circumference.
On leaving the grove we perceived two natives about three hundred yards below us, going towards the plain, of which we now discovered the full extent. They looked at us without stopping, notwithstanding the signs of invitation we made them to come to us. One of them carried on his shoulder, at the end of a stick, a basket, in all probability filled with roots.
We had only a few more small hills to cross before we reached the plain, when several of our companions, apprehensive that we should be in want of victuals if we went much farther, or perhaps that we should meet with numerous parties of savages, left us and returned to the ships early in the day. Our number was now reduced to fifteen, upon their departure; nevertheless we continued our journey. We soon found by the side of a path which seemed much frequented by the savages, several cabbage-palms, and having refreshed ourselves with the tender leaves from the tops of those trees, we descended into a hollow, where several fine aleurites added to our repast a plentiful dessert of fruit, the kernels of which we found of a very agreeable flavour.
The quartz and mica which were spread over a large space, formed in that place a foliated rock of a very brilliant appearance, composed of a thin strata.
We at length gained the plain, where the melancholy sight of a habitation entirely destroyed, and cocoa trees cut up by the roots, furnished us with fresh proofs of the barbarity of the natives.
Farther on we saw plantations of yams, potatoes, &c. We proceeded for some time towards the south, and were surprised at not seeing any of the savages, when I perceived an old man employed in pulling up the roots of the dolichos tuberosus, which he gave to a child to clean. He did not seem in the least intimidated on observing us approach him, but every feature of the child was expressive of the most violent apprehension. The old man had lost one eye, which he told us had been knocked out by a stone, and we thought we recognised him to be one of those inhabitants who had come several times to visit us on board of our vessels.
This man accompanied us along the path in a south-easterly direction across the plain, but had much difficulty in keeping up with us, for he had been wounded in one leg, where we perceived two great scars opposite to each other, as if it had been pierced through and through with a dart.
On both sides of the road we saw draggling huts at great distances from each other, surrounded with cocoa trees. Only a few savages appeared at a distance in the middle of the vast plain. On our right lay a thick forest of cocoa trees extending to the foot of the mountains, on the edge of which we perceived a great number of huts.
We had gone a little more than a mile with the savage, when he persuaded us to stop in the neighbourhood of a habitation, probably his own, for he invited us to gather the fruit of the cocoa trees which surrounded it ourselves, excusing himself from climbing the trees on account of his wounds. I gave him some pieces of cloth of different colours, and some nails, which he seemed to value highly.
Soon after a another savage came to us, and both followed us till we came to the banks of a branch of the great canal which crossed the plain; it was filled with stagnant water, equally salt with that of the sea.
We perceived at a distance some women and children, when our two savages left us, after having pointed out the path which concluded us to the mountains.
At the same instant some other natives set fire to the dry grass at a great distance before us on the side of the path which we were following, and immediately disappeared in the woods.
After proceeding about half an hour, I arrived on a very agreeable eminence, where the natives had built themselves sheds about six feet in height, in order to enjoy the fresh air. They were of a semicircular form, and open at bottom all round to the height of about one foot, to admit a free circulation of air. We found no savages in either of two neighbouring huts, which were built near a bog, surrounded with the hibiscus tiliaceus; but contiguous to them we saw a large cultivated field, covered with yams, potatoes, and a sort of hypoxis, the roots of which those people eat, and which grows spontaneously in their forests.
It was already one hour after dark, when we at last arrived at the summit of the mountains; from whence, looking in a north-west direction, we perceived the lights of our vessels. At six or eight hundred paces below were several fires, lighted by the natives. The cold compelled us likewise to kindle a very large one, round which we sat down to refresh ourselves, after which we went to sleep, leaving two sentinels to guard two passages by which the islanders might come to surprize us, but none of them attempted to disturb our repose. Only at day-break the sentinel who was to the north-east espied three of them approaching very slowly, but they returned back on hearing him cry out to warn us of their coming.
5th. All our provisions being consumed, we felt sensibly the necessity of returning on board. I could not, however, resist the desire I had to spend a few hours in visiting a charming grove of trees, situated on the other side of the mountain, at a small distance from the place where we had passed the night. I there observed a great quantity of plants, which I had not yet found in any of the excursions I had made in this island. They belonged chiefly to the class of the silver tree and the trumpet flower.
I will here give a description of one of the finest shrubs which grows on these heights. It forms a genus which I call antholoma, and which ought to be placed amongst the species of the plaqueminiers.
The calyx, composed of from two to four leaves of an oval form, often falls off w when the flower blows.
The corolla is of one piece in the form of a cup, and irregularly indented on the edges.
The stamina are numerous (about an hundred), and attached to a fleshy receptacle.
The ovarium is of a pyramidal form, quadrangular, slightly sunk into the receptacle, and surmounted by a style terminated by a pointed stigma.
The fruit has four cells filled with a great number of seeds; it was not yet ripe, but I think it becomes a capsule.
I have distinguished a shrub by the name of antholoma montana, many plants of which I observed fifteen feet in height. Its leaves are alternate, very strong, and, as well as the flowers, are only to be found at the extremity of the branches.
PLATE XLI. Antholoma Montana
Explanation of the Figures in Plate XLI.
Fig. 1. Branch of the antholoma montana.
Fig. 2. Flower.
Fig. 3. Receptacle, stamina, and ovarium.
Fig. 4. Corolla.
Fig. 6. Stamina magnified.
One of the geographers of our company having left us about this time for the distance of rather more than half a mile, in order to ascertain the position of the shoals which he discovered from a high peak, received a visit from a savage, who approached him in a threatening manner; he was armed with a dart and a club, and we were afraid he intended to attack him, but he contented himself with examining the instruments which he was using, without giving him the smallest cause of complaint.
We arrived at our vessels about noon. I observed along the coast a double canoe with two sails. It was constructed like those of the islanders of New Caledonia, but the men who were in it spoke the language of the natives of the Friendly Islands. They were eight in number, being seven, men and one woman, all very muscularly built (See Plate XXXIV.) They told us that the island from whence they came was a day's sail to the east of our moorings, and that the name of it was Aouvea; it was doubtless the island of Beaupré which they meant.
PLATE XXXIV. Woman of the Island of Beaupré—Man of the Island of Beaupré
These islanders, who were quite naked, had the end of the prepuce tied to the lower part of the belly by a cord of the outer covering of the cocoa-nut, which went twice round them. They know the use of iron, and appeared much more intelligent than the natives of New Caledonia.
I was much surprized to see one of the planks of their canoes covered with a coat of varnish; and it appeared to have belonged to some European vessel, which I was convinced of when I found that the powder of lead formed a great part in the composition of the varnish. Without doubt the plank had belonged to a vessel of some civilized nation wrecked on this coast. I requested the savages to inform us of what they knew concerning the plank; they set sail soon after to the west, promising to return next day to bring us information; but they did not keep their word; and we never had an opportunity of seeing them again.
When we returned, we were informed that the same day that we had left the ship on our excursion, the savages had attempted to seize the hatchets of our wood-cutters, whom they had attacked with stones, but two musket shots had been sufficient to disperse them.
I employed the whole of the 6th to describe and arrange the numerous collection of articles of natural history which I had brought with me from the mountains.
Next day the intelligence of the death of Captain Huon, which we learnt at day-break, spread a general sorrow amongst all those concerned in the expedition. This skilful naval officer had fallen a sacrifice to a hectic fever about one o'clock in the morning, after an illness of several months. He met death with the greatest coolness, and was interred, according to his particular desire, near the centre of the island of Pudyona, favoured by the veil of night. He had requested that no kind of monument might be erected for him, apprehensive that it might lead to a discovery of his burial place by the inhabitants of New Caledonia.
Soon after sunrise eight of us went ashore, and penetrated into the woods in a west-south-west direction. We soon arrived at a cottage, from whence came a native carrying in his hand a mask, which he agreed to sell to me for two joiner's chissels. This mask was cut out of a piece of the wood of the cocoa tree (See Plate XXXVII. Fig. 10.), but much better carved than the figures we had seen in other places at the entrance into their houses. He covered his face with it several times, peeping through the holes made in the upper part of it. There was an opening for the mouth, but there were none for the eyes. They probably make use of those masks to prevent being known by their enemies when they undertake any hostile enterprize.
We then advanced towards two fires lighted close by the huts, where we found a man and woman dressing figs of a new species, which they had placed upon the fire in a great earthen pot, without water, to take away the corrosive quality. They called those figs ouyou.
I remarked two children at the fire, regaling themselves with spiders of a new species, which I had observed frequently in the woods, where they spread their webs of such strength, as frequently to incommode us very much in our progress. They first killed them, covering them up in a great earthen vessel, which they heated on a brisk fire. They then broiled and eat them. They swallowed at least one hundred of them in our presence. We saw afterwards in the same island several other inhabitants eagerly seeking the same kind of food.
Such an extravagant and yet so general a taste amongst so many numerous tribes caused us great surprize, although we knew that some Europeans eat spiders, and in preference such as are found in cellars, which they affirm taste like nuts.
The inhabitants of New Caledonia call this a species of nougui, which I distinguish by the name of aranea edulis (spider which the Caledonians eat.). This spider is represented in Plate XII. Fig. 4. The situation of its eyes (See Fig. 5 and 6.) which are eight in number, two being near the middle of its back, at a great distance from the others, make me give it a place in a new section of a black colour. Its back is grey, and above is covered with silver down; between the eyes are four spots of a brown colour; below it is black. The lower part of the belly is of the same colour as the upper part of the back, and is marked with from eight to ten spots of a brown colour. On the sides are six greyish lines in an oblique direction, and below several faun-coloured spots. The legs, which are also of a faun-colour and covered with claws of a silver grey, are blackish towards their extremity.
One of the fusileers who accompanied us had lost one of his pistols; we informed the inhabitants of this circumstance, and promised them a reward if they would bring it to us. It was with considerable pleasure that we saw, an hour after we had quitted them, a savage come running towards us with the pistol, which he said he had found on the sands. In fact, the soldier remembers having left it in the place where we had dined. A piece of cloth and a waistcoat proved a very agreeable recompense to the islander. He followed us for some time accompanied by another Caledonian; then bid us adieu, pronouncing the word alaoué, bowing slightly with his head, retiring with an appearance of great satisfaction.
When we had reached the shore, one of us fired his piece as a signal to the ship's company, that a boat might be sent off for us; the noise of the explosion collected above eighty of the natives around us. We invited them to sit down as fast as they arrived, in order to prevent them from coming too close, and notwithstanding the disproportion of our number, (for we were only eight), they all agreed to our request. One of these savages had a few tolerably sweet oranges, which he consented to sell to me for a pair of scissars.
We learned, on arriving on board, that several persons belonging to the Esperance, being in a canoe, had been assailed this morning with a shower of stones by the natives, on which it was found necessary so fire several musket shot to make them retire into the wood. It must, however, be allowed, that this contest was owing to the imprudence of one of our men, who, wishing to keep the Caledonians at a distance, had pointed his piece at them, which went off, through his aukwardness.
8th. General Dentrecasteaux gave the command of the Esperance to Dauribeau.
I was very busy during the greater part of the day, at a work which was indispensably necessary for the preservation of my collections. In the afternoon I went on shore, and soon after I perceived a number of the islanders who had attacked our fishermen, in order to carry off both the net and the fish that were caught. We were obliged to fire at least twenty musket shot before they could be entirely dispersed. They stood firm on the shore the whole time, returning our musketry with their slings, a stone from one of which wounded the master-gunner of the Esperance seriously in the arm; they then gave way, but in a few seconds returned anew to the attack; however, when they perceived two of their number fall, in consequence of our fire, and wounded so as to be scarcely able to crawl to the neighbouring wood, they were seized with a general panic, and fled, nor did any others venture to renew the attack.
At the same time that this encounter began, the Commander in Chief of the expedition left his vessel to go on board the Esperance; he immediately directed his boat toward the shore, but the savages were entirely dispersed before he arrived there.
Before our fishermen had been interrupted by the islanders, they had caught several species of the scorpaena, amongst which was that known by the name of scorpaena digitata pricked one of our seamen so acutely in the hand, that for several hours he felt a very violent pain through his whole arm.
9th. This morning at day break we went ashore at the nearest landing place to our ship, and six of us, well armed, penetrated into the woods, advancing for a long time to the south-south-west. I found on that excursion many plants which I had not before met with.
I soon observed a large bread-fruit tree, which grew near the middle of the mountain, being the second I, had met with in the island. I took from it three suckers, which I planted in a box in which I had put those I had taken in the Friendly Islands. Their leaves were not so wide apart as those of the latter, perhaps they might not produce such excellent fruit. But after the care which I observed the natives take of that which I had seen in a village to the south-east of our ship, I could not doubt but that they set a great value on this tree; it was planted in a very good soil, and surrounded with strong palisades. Neither of those trees yielded fruit at that time, but had a great number of male flowers.
We had already advanced a great way up the mountain, when some of the people belonging to our vessel, who went on shore, discharged their pieces before they returned on board. The report of the musketry made us resolve to direct our course toward them immediately, apprehensive of their being engaged with the savages.
Night approached, and we went off to go on board our veal, but the wind blew from east-south-east with such violence, and the current was so strong, that they were driven rapidly to westward; we had even great difficulty in making the Esperance, which we left half an hour afterwards to go on board the Recherche, as the weather had become more favourable.
The natives of New Caledonia are in general of the middle size, we however, saw one who was more than six feet in height, but very ill built. Their hair is woolly; their custom of pulling it up by the roots is very general; but we saw some of them who, let their beards grow. The colour of their skin is as dark as that of the inhabitants of Diemen's land. They do not cover themselves like the former with charcoal dust, though we remarked a few amongst, them who had blackened a part of their breasts with it; tracing thereon broad strokes in an oblique direction which they call poun, in their language; many of them were adorned with necklaces, like that represented in Plate XXXVII, Fig. 4; these necklaces were made of twisted threads, suspended from which they usually carried at the end of a bit of string, a small piece of bone very indifferently carved, which appeared to be a human bone. Their arms were sometimes ornamented with bracelets cut, some from shells, Others of quartz, or very hard stones. (See Plate XXXVII. Fig. 5 and 6.)
These warlike people devote the greatest attention to the manufacture of their arms, which they polish perfectly well. Their clubs are of a great variety of forms, some of which are to be seen in Plate XXXVII.
I was much surprised to find that they were unacquainted with the use of bows.
Their javelins, which are commonly fifteen feet in length, are not more than two and a half inches in circumference in the middle. I admired the ingenious method they had invented to accelerate the motion of those javelins when they throw them. For that purpose they employ a piece of very elastic cord, made of the covering of the cocoa-nut and fish skin, one extremity of which they fix to the end of the fore-finger, and the other which ends in a sort of round button, is twisted round the end of the dart, but in such a manner as to quit its hold as soon as that weapon is thrown into the air. (See Plate XXXV.[MISSING])
I did not perceive amongst these islanders any confirmed symptom of the venereal disease, although many of them had a swelling of considerable size on the organs of generation, and others had obstructions of the seminal glands.
The voracity of which the Caledonians had given us evident proofs, prevented the General from giving them the he and she goats as he had intended; they had, doubtless, devoured the hogs and the two dogs, of which Captain Cook had made a present to one of their chiefs. They scarcely took any care of their fowls; I only saw three hens and one cock during our stay in the island.
We did not perceive amongst them any of the articles given them by Captain Cook. Perhaps these riches had been the cause of the misfortunes of the inhabitants of this coast, by exciting their neighbours to come and plunder them.
I remarked with astonishment that the authority of their chiefs had always appeared very inconsiderable in our various dealings with the savages; but I was not less surprised to find that they exercised great power when their own private interest was at stake, for they generally seized upon such articles as their subjects had received from us.
While we were in New Caledonia we enjoyed a pretty serene sky.
The winds varied from the north-east to the south, and the strongest were the east and the south-east.
Our moorings were in lat. 20° 17' 29" south, and 162° 16' 28" east longitude.
The variation of the needle was 9° 30' towards the east.
The mercury in the barometer never rose above 28 inches lines and 2-10ths, and never fell below 28 inches 1 line and 4-10ths.
Notwithstanding the excessive heat which we felt on the coast, the thermometer never exceeded 25°, and on board never rose above 21°.
The tides were not observable above once a day, when we lay at anchor. The flood took place at half past six, and the waters rose in perpendicular height four feet seven inches.
We could not gather the least intelligence during our stay at New Caledonia, concerning the fate of those unfortunate navigators who were the object of our researches. It is not, however, improbable, that this dangerous and almost inaccessible coast proved fatal to them. We know that La Pérouse was to have explored the western coast of it, and one is chilled with horror in reflecting on the fate that would await those unfortunate seamen, should a shipwreck have obliged them to seek for refuge amongst the cannibals that inhabit it.
Departure from New Caledonia—Interview
with the Inhabitants of the Island—of St. Croix—Their
Treachery—One of these Savages slightly pierces with an
Arrow the Forehead of one of our Seamen, who died Some Time after
in Consequence of the Wound—Singular Construction of their
Canoes—View of the Southern Part of the Archipelago of
Solomon—Interview with its Inhabitants—Their
Perfidy—The Northern Coast of Louisiade
reconnoitred—Interview with its Inhabitants—Dangers
of that Navigation—Sail through Dampier's Straits in order
to reconnoitre the North Coast of New Britain—Death of
General Dentrecasteaux—The Scurvy makes great Ravages in
both Ships—Death of the Baker of the Recherche—Cast
anchor at Waygiou.
EARLY in the morning we set sail from New Caledonia, but were no sooner in the open sea than we were becalmed near a long range of rocks, which we perceived to eastward, and against which the sea broke in a tremendous manner; we however got clear of them, favoured by a light breeze from the south-east; sailed by them in a longitudinal direction on the 11th and, 12th, and on the 13th descried beyond that chain to the west the island of Moulin, at about 17 miles distance, and afterwards the Huon Islands.
Next day our vessel was on the point of being dashed to pieces on the rocks with which these islands are surrounded, when at day-break we perceived the danger of our situation. We immediately tacked about and stood off from them, and discovered before the evening that these rocks were connected with those along which we had sailed the year before.
Soon after we steered for the island of Saint Croix, which, early on the morning of the 20th, we perceived to the north-west, at about twenty-two miles distance.
Next day, about four in the afternoon, being then three miles distant from the shore, we perceived two natives coming towards us in a canoe with an out-rigger. They kept at a great distance till five other canoes had joined them, when they came nearer to our ship. One only of these canoes carried three savages, the others contained no more than two. They addressed their conversation to us, and made signs for us to land upon their island, but none of them would venture on board our ship, notwithstanding repeated invitations to that effect. The boldest of them did not come nearer than about fifty yards. They were armed with bows and arrows, and their whole dress confined of necklaces and bracelets, ornamented with shells.
As night approached, our sailors worked the ship to stand on different tacks, when the savages left us and returned to the coast, but several hours afterwards, notwithstanding the darkness of the night, we were visited by another canoe, the savages in which certainly thought that we understood their language, for they spoke to us for a long time in a very low tone of voice, but, not receiving any answer, they at length returned to their island.
22d. At day-break we approached the coast, and soon perceived twelve canoes making towards us. They hastened alongside of our vessel, and the most of them were loaded with different kinds of fruit, amongst which I remarked the bread-fruit, but of a smaller size, and not so good in quality as what we had met with at the Friendly Islands; it was not, however, of the wild sort, for it only contained a very small quantity of seed.
We were not a little surprized to observe that those islanders set very little value on the iron which we offered them, though we could not doubt that they knew the use of it, for one of them had a piece of a joiner's chissel with a wooden handle, of the same kind as their stone hatchets; but when we showed them some pieces of red cloth, their admiration, expressed by the words youli, youli, gave us hopes of succeeding better with these articles in bartering for their commodities than with our hardware. In fact they consented to sell us some of their arms, but probably fearing, lest we should turn them against themselves, they took the precaution not to part with any of their bows, and even to blunt the arrows which they sold us.
Soon after several of them gave us proofs of their dishonesty. With a view to cheat us of our articles in bartering, they at first offered a good equivalent, but insisted on having our goods delivered to them before hand, which they kept, refusing to give us any thing in return.
About eight o'clock in the morning, the General sent two boats to sound a creek, which we perceived at about a mile distance to the north-west. On a sudden we lost sight of them, and were under some apprehensions respecting them, when, about noon they appeared again at the mouth of the creek, which they had been to reconnoitre. Several musket-shot fired from these boats gave us to understand that they had been attacked by the savages. At the report, the canoes which surrounded us made off with great precipitation. Our boats were not long before they arrived, and informed us that the opening which we had taken for a bay, was the extremity of a channel, which separates the island of St. Croix from that of New Jersey. This channel extends in length N.E.¼E. being at the utmost not three miles long, and its greatest breadth does not exceed one mile. It was founded with great accuracy, and a line of sixty-seven yards did not find the bottom in any part of it, not even within an hundred yards of the shore.
A great number of canoes had followed our boats, whilst large parties of savages on the shore endeavoured to entice our people to them, by shewing their cocoa-nuts, bananas, and several other fruits; at length some of them swam off with those productions of their island in exchange for such pieces of cloth of different colours as were intended for them.
Our boats on their return, at the entrance into the channel, and near a small village on the coast of New Jersey, were just leaving those savages, when one of them was seen to stand up in the middle of his canoe, and prepare to shoot an arrow at a man belonging to the boat of the Esperance. Every one seized his arms, but nevertheless the islander recommenced his signs of hostility, whereupon one of our men presented his musket, but the savage without being terrified with this menace, bent his bow very deliberately and let fly an arrow, which struck one of the rowers on the forehead, although at the distance of about eighty yards. This attack was instantly returned by the discharge of a musket and blunderbuss, the latter of which having sent a shower of bullets into the canoe, from which the arrow had been discharged, the three islanders who were in it immediately jumped overboard. Soon after they returned to their canoe and paddled hastily towards the shore, but a ball at length reaching the aggressor, all three again jumped into the water, leaving their canoe, with their bows and arrows, which fell into the hands of our boat's crew.
All these canoes have out-riggers, and are constructed as represented in Plate XLVI. Fig. 3. Their bows are placed upon the platform, situated between the canoe and the out-rigger, and formed of close wicker work. The body of the canoes is in general fifteen feet long and six in width. It is of a single piece cut out of the trunk of a tree, very light, and almost as soft as the wood of the mapou. There is through the whole length an excavation of five inches wide. Here the rowers sit with their legs one before the other, and up to the calf in the hollow. They are seated on the upper part, which is smooth. At each of the extremities, which are formed like a heart, we observed two T's, the one above the other, cut out, but not very deep, and sometimes in relievo. The lower part of the canoe is very well formed for moving through the water. The out-rigger is always on the left of the rowers.
These islanders are accustomed to chew betel. They keep the leaves of it with areca-nuts, in small bags made of matting, or of the outer covering of the cocoa-nuts. The lime which they mix with it is carried in bamboo canes, or in calebashes.
These people are, in general, of a deep olive colour, and the expression of their countenances indicates an intimate connection between them and the generality of the inhabitants of the Moluccas; though we remarked some who had a very black skin, thick lips, and large flat noses, and appeared to be of a very different race; but all these had woolly hair and very large foreheads. They are in general of a good stature, but their legs and thighs are rather small, probably owing, in a great measure, to their inactivity, and the length of time which they are confined in their canoes.
Most of them had their noses and ears bored, and wore in them rings made of tortoise-shell.
Almost all were tatooed, particularly on the back.
I remarked with surprise that the fashion of wearing their hair white was very general among these savages, and formed a striking contrast with the colour of their skin. Without doubt, those petits maîtres used lime for that purpose in the same manner as I had observed amongst the inhabitants of the Friendly Islands. They are in the habit of pulling up their hair by the roots. Their notions of modesty have not taught these people the use of clothes. They generally have their bellies tied with a cord, which goes two or three times round them. Their bracelets are formed of matted work, and ornamented with shells that have been worn; these are fixed to different parts of the arm, and even above the elbow.
The sailor, who had been wounded in the head by the arrow, did not feel much pain from it; he might have had it dressed immediately by the surgeon of the Recherche, but he chose rather to wait till we should get on board the Esperance. No one would, at that time, have supposed that so slight a wound would one day prove mortal.
As soon as the boats were hoisted on board the vessels we stood to the south-west, a quarter west, coasting the island of St. Croix, at the distance of about three quarters of a mile, and observed many of the savages call to, and invite us to land. Several amongst them launched their canoes to come to us, but we sailed too fast for them to overtake us.
We discovered some mountains, the highest of which were at least three hundred yards perpendicular; they were all covered with large trees, between which we perceived here and there very white spots of ground, which appeared to be laid out in beds.
From thence, after having sailed along the coast about nine miles, we found ourselves opposite to a large bay, which has, without doubt, a good bottom, but it is exposed to the south-east wind, which blew at that time.
We soon after perceived at a distance, to the south, several canoes making towards the island of St. Croix; others were seen at a still greater distance, apparently employed in fishing, in shallow water; at the same time we descried to the south another shoal very near us, and which extended far to the westward.
We had just discovered Volcano Island, when a great number of canoes left Gracious Bay, and made towards us, and as we had very little wind, they had sufficient time to come up with us. We already counted seventy-four, which had stopped at the distance of eight or nine hundred yards from the vessel, when the clouds, which had gathered on the mountains, caused the savages, by whom these perilous vessels were manned; to be apprehensive for their safety if they remained longer at sea. They immediately paddled towards the shore, but before they had reached it a violent squall, accompanied with a heavy shower of rain, very much impeded their progress.
We stood off and on all night. The General proposed to anchor in Gracious Bay the next day.
Several fires were kindled on the coast, to which we were near enough to distinguish the voices of the inhabitants, who seemed to be calling to us. We fired several muskets, intending, to give them an agreeable surprize, and immediately cries of admiration were heard from different parts of the coast, but the most profound silence succeeded to these demonstrations of joy, although several other shot were fired.
23d. We did not perceive during the night; upon Volcano Island, any indications that it still contained subterraneous fire. This small island cannot contain a sufficient quantity of combustible matter to supply, incessantly the volcanic fire, which Captain Carteret had observed there twenty-six years ago.
The south-east wind continued all that day, and even on the next (24th), prevented us from entering the bay, near which a great number of cottages were built under the shade of the cocoa trees, that were planted along the beach.
The natives soon made their appearance on the shore, when the General sent out two boats, following them with our vessels, so as to cover them in case of an attack from the natives. The surf was too great to admit of our landing, nevertheless several of the natives swam to us, bringing cocoa-nuts in exchange for pieces of red cloth, which they, preferred before every other article we offered them. Some came in their canoes, and all of them appeared very honest in bargaining with us, which was perhaps owing to their having heard what had passed between us and the inhabitants of the east side of the island. They, however, offered us only the worst things they had; most of the cocoa-nuts they brought were growing seedy. It was not till after some time that they would sell us some bows and arrows, but fearing lest we should turn these arms against themselves, they took the precaution to carry the bows to one boat and the arrows to another. The latter were not pointed. We observed, that by means of a reddish gum, a small piece of bone or tortoise-shell; about half an inch long and well sharpened, was fixed to the end of them; others were pointed with the same sort of materials from ten to twelve inches long; but many were armed with the bone which is found next the tail in that species of ray called raia pastinaca.
We observed several hogs on shore, which they would not bring to us at any price, but promised to sell them if we would come ashore.
I remarked in their possession a necklace of glass beads, some green and others red, which appeared to me to be of English manufacture, and which they agreed to exchange.
We bought from these inhabitants a piece of cloth, which gave us no very favourable idea of their industry; it was composed of coarse bark of trees, and very indifferently joined together.
One of them wore, suspended upon his breast, a small flat circular piece of alabaster, which he parted with to satisfy us.
This interview had lasted nearly two hours, when, at a signal from one of their chiefs, all the savages left us; but, when they saw our boats preparing to leave the shore, the women came close to the water's edge to endeavour to persuade us to land; we, however, continued ready to our purpose, in a short time got on board the vessels, and soon after set sail for the Islands of Arsacides.
On the 26th, about ten A.M. we perceived the Islands of Deliverance to the westward. At noon we discovered the southernmost of them, between W. 13° S. and W. 19° S. distant about twelve miles, and the other bearing W. 27° S. We found, by observation, that our vessel was in 10° 48' S. lat. and 160° 18' E. long. Almost the whole circumference of these two small islands is very rugged, but they do not lie very high. We perceived inhabitants upon them, and large plantations of cocoa trees.
We then crowded sail for the Arsacides, the lofty mountains of which we saw to the west-south-west.
27th. We coasted along it this day. About ten A.M. we had just passed a shoal near two miles in breadth, when, through the negligence of the watch, the ship went over another shoal, where, however, there was fortunately sufficient water to prevent her receiving any injury.
At noon we were in lat. 10° 54' south, and long. 159° 41' east, when the land of the Arsacides bore from east 21° north, to west 23° north; we were then about three miles to the south of the nearest shore. These coasts were indented, having small hills projecting into the sea, forming a number of little bays, which afforded shelter from the east wind. Most of these small capes are each terminated by a pyramidal rock of considerable height, crowned with a tuft of very green bushes. Farther in the interior of the country we saw the same kind of small hills standing on mountains of a moderate height, which exhibited a very picturesque appearance.
It was generally at the extremity of the small creeks that the inhabitants fixed their residence. Many of them had come upon the beach to enjoy the novel spectacle which our vessels presented to them. Their cottages were built under the shade of numerous plantations of cocoa trees.
We had not yet seen any canoes on that coast, when, about four in the afternoon, one came towards us. We were much astonished that the islanders who were in it durst venture out on a sea greatly agitated in so frail a vessel, the width of which was not any where more than two feet, and they sat in the deepest part in order to preserve a proper equilibrium. (See Plate XLIV.)
PLATE XLIV. Canoe of the Arsacides
After having approached to about two hundred and fifty yards of our frigate, they addressed a few words to us in a very elevated tone of voice, pointing to their island, and inviting us to go on shore. They then came hill nearer, but a violent gust of wind compelled them to return to the shore.
These islanders had not more clothing than the inhabitants of the island of St. Croix, to whom they bear great resemblance.
28th. This morning at day-break we perceived that the current had driven us 18' east during the night. Our surprise at this was the greater, as the easterly wind, which prevailed at this time, should have counteracted, the force of the currents. Can the tides occasion this singular direction of the currents in these latitudes?
About ten in the morning four canoes came off the shore and advanced to within about four hundred yards of our ship, but we could not wait for their nearer approach, as we were obliged to continue our course to double a cape, which would have interrupted some nautical observations we intended to make.
At noon we were in 10° 33' S. lat. and 158° 57' E. long. and we saw the sea breaking with great violence against Cape Philip, which is a very rugged point. We doubled it about four P.M., and soon after perceived a large bay, the shores of which appeared to be very populous. We saw several sheds under which the inhabitants had put their canoes to shelter them from the weather, and observed cottages in every part even to the summits of the highest mountains.
Soon after the savages launched five canoes, and sailed towards us. They all kept within call except one man, who, mounted in a catimarron canoe, came much nearer the stern of our vessel, to receive some pieces of red cloth which we had thrown into the sea. His behaviour indicated the greatest mistrust. He kept his eyes fixed on us, none of our motions escaped him, and at the same time he had the dexterity to catch every article that we threw him. The appearance of this native, seated upon a few planks, beat about by the waves, amused us for some seconds. Our musician wanted to entertain those islanders with some tunes on the violin, but just as he was tuning his instrument, they went off towards the Esperance.
Soon after five other canoes came along side our vessel, testifying the greater confidence in us. The natives by which they were manned were certainly acquainted with the use of iron, for they expressed great joy upon receiving some nails which we offered them. We could not learn whether these people are used to barter their commodities; at least we were not able to obtain any thing from them by this mode of traffic, although they had javelins, tomahawks, bows and arrows. They were, however, very willing to accept of any thing that we offered them by way of present, and made us very obliging proposals if we would land upon their coasts; whilst, with their natural gaiety of manner, they frequently repeated the word sousou (the bosom), accompanying their discourse with very significant gestures, which produced great merriment among our sailors.
At sun-set the savages returned on shore and kindled three large fires.
29th. The currents had carried us during the night into a large channel which runs along this easterly island of the Arsacides; formerly called the Island of St. Christopher, and belonging to the archipelago of Solomon, discovered by Mendana. It now bore north, and soon after we descried the Isle des Contrariétés, which about noon bore E. 14° N. to E. 30° N. at a distance of 5,130. toises, we being in 9° 53' S. lat. 159° 8' E. long. This small island is rather mountainous and very woody.
We soon coasted along the small islands called the Three Sisters, after which we plied to windward, in, order to get to the southward, so as to pass the strait which separates the island called by Mendana Guadal-canal from that of St. Christopher.
About eight in the evening the Esperance came near enough to us to acquaint us, by the speaking-trumpet, of a piece of treachery which had been practised upon her crew by the islanders. She had been surrounded, during the preceding night, by a great number of canoes, from which only two of the natives came on board. These savages commended, in very high terms, the fruits of their island, and promised to give a great quantity of them to our men, is they would come on shore; at length they departed about midnight; but amongst the number of canoes which remained near the Esperance, one was observed much larger than the rest, which, about break of day, rowed several times round the vessel, and suddenly stopping, at least twelve arrows were discharged from it, one of which wounded one of the crew (Desert) in the arm the greater part of the rest, fortunately, sticking in the sides of the ship. After making this perfidious attack, they immediately fled with precipitation, and were already at a considerable distance before a musket was fired at them; none of them were wounded but a rocket, which was discharged with a very good aim, and burst quite close to the canoe, terrified them exceedingly.
The other canoes had likewise fled at first, but they soon returned to the vessel.
This act of treachery, and the perfidious conduct of the same savages to Captain Surville, gave us reason to believe that they had been actuated by the same motives, when they used their utmost endeavours to persuade us to land upon their island.
30th. Being scarcely able to govern our vessel, on account of the slightness of the breeze, which blew by intervals from N.W. and W.N.W., we were very perceptibly carried by the currents towards the Isle des Contrariétés. As the sky was very clear, we had a good view of the island, of which the engraving published by Surville affords a pretty exact representation. We were at the distance of 1,500 toises, when a canoe rowed from the shore, and came alongside of our vessel. It was manned by four of the natives, who were very thankful for the presents of stuffs and hardware which we made them, and immediately gave us in return some cocoa-nuts, which, like most of the natives of the South Seas, they call uiou.
They appeared highly pleased with the nails which we gave them; and continually begged for more, frequently repeating the word maté (death), and endeavouring to intimate to us by their gestures, that they intended to employ them against their enemies. Eight other canoes soon joined the first, and approached our vessel without shewing any signs of fear. We admired the elegant form of their canoes, which were exactly similar to those we had seen the preceding days at the easterly part of the Arsacides. (See Plate XLIV). They were about twenty-one feet in length, two in breadth, and fifteen inches in depth. The bottom consisted of a single piece cut from the trunk of a tree, and the sides were formed of a plank, the whole length of the boat, supported by beams fired at equal distances into the bottom; at both ends other planks were attached to the first. These were ornamented on the outside with figures of birds, fishes, &c., rudely carved. The greater part of the canoes were terminated in front with the head of a bird, under which was seen a large bunch of fringe, coloured with a red dye, which appeared to me to have been made of the leaves of the vacoua. The other extremity of the boat was likewise ornamented with red fringe, and here we frequently observed, in the inner side, the carving of a dog projecting from the vessel, which led me to suppose that the savages possess this animal. I was surprised to observe that they had given it nearly the form of a blood-hound; though it is probable they do not possess that species, but that the carving was nothing more than an imperfect representation of the dog usually met with in the South Sea Islands.
The savages were obliged to remain constantly at the bottom of their canoes, in order to prevent their being overset by the waves, and, what rendered their situation still more incommodious, they had to sit in the water which was thrown in by the surge. They, however, took care to bale it out from time to time.
Amongst the commodities which were obtained from them, was a long fishing line attached to the extremity of a large rod, which appeared to me somewhat remarkable, as the greater part of the savages we had hitherto seen, were in the practice of holding their fishing lines in their hands. The hook was made of tortoise-shell.
Some of these natives wore as ornaments, bracelets made of various kinds of shells; others had them of the rind of the cocoa-nut, bespangled throughout their whole circumference with a great number of coloured seeds.
It does not appear that they chew betel; at least I never perceived any signs of their doing it.
After these boats had remained several hours about our vessel, one of their chiefs gave them the signal for departing, upon which they immediately rowed towards the coast with great speed. One of the boats, however remained a few moments, to receive some pieces of red cloth which we were about to present to the natives at the instant when the signal was given but as soon as these islanders saw that their companions had left them behind, they plied their oars with all the speed they were able, in order to overtake them. We were amazed to see their canoe skim the waves with such rapidity, that it must have run at the rate of at least 7,500 toises an hour.
JUNE 1st. Early in the morning we began to range along the southern coast of Guadal-canal, which descends with a very gentle declivity to the sea, and observed in the interior part of the island a long chain of very high mountains, running in the same direction. We soon distinguished the Mount Lama of Shortland. The coast was bordered with cocoa trees, under the tirade of which we observed a great number of huts. The low grounds rendered a large extent of this coast inaccessible to our vessels, and we were much incommoded by the currents which carried us to eastward. This unexpected direction of the currents surprised us the more, as the winds that had prevailed during our stay in these parts might have been expelled to direct their course to the westward.
On the morning of the 4th, we doubled Cape Hunter, discovered by Shortland. About ten o'clock we passed quite close to a small island connected by some reefs to the coast, where we saw several groups of the savages seated under the shade of fine plantations of cocoas, and bananas, which give this island a very picturesque appearance. A great number of canoes lay upon the beach, and we expected that the natives would put to sea with some of them to come to our vessels but their indifference astonished us; not one of them moved from his place, nor even rose from his sitting posture in order to have a better view of our ships.
This small island is situated in 9° 31' S. lat. 157° 19' E. long.
We soon came in sight of the westernmost point of Guadal-canal.
On the 7th, about noon, we descried the largest of Hammond's islands, N. 4° W. to E. 6° N. at the distance of 5,130 toises, we being in 8° 49' S. lat. 155° 9' E. long. We now left this archipelago, and made sail for the northern coast of Louisiade.
The survey which we had taken of the Arsacides, left us no room to doubt of their being the archipelago of Solomon, discovered by Mendana as had been supposed upon the same grounds by Citizen Fleurieu, in his excellent work upon the discoveries of the French.
On the 9th, the Esperance informed us of the death of an unfortunate man of her crew (Mahol), who had been wounded in the forehead, seventeen days before, by an arrow from one of the savages of the island Sainte Croix. The wound, however, had cicatrized very well, and, for fourteen days, the man had felt no troublesome symptom whatever; when he was suddenly attacked with a violent tetanas, under which he expired in three days time.
Many of our company supposed that the arrow with which he was wounded had been poisoned; but this conjecture appears to me improbable, as the wound cicatrized, and the man remained fourteen days in good health. Besides, we found that the arrows, left in the canoe by the savages, and afterwards taken possession, of by our sailors, were not poisoned; for several birds that we pricked with them experienced no troublesome consequences from the puncture; but it is a common occurrence in hot climates, that the slightest puncture is followed by a general spasmodic affection, which almost always terminates fatally.
On the 12th, about ten in the morning, we descried the coats of Louisiade, and at first mistook the most easterly extremity for Cape Deliverance, but soon discovered that to be 25' farther north.
We were astonished to find that the rapidity of the currents had been so great as to carry us 44' to the northward in the space of twenty-four hours. The observations made on board the Esperance gave the same result.
We now steered west, coasting along pretty highlands, from which, however, we were obliged to keep at a considerable distance, on account of the great number of shoals which extended very far into the sea, and rendered our navigation extremely dangerous.
On the 14th, at day-break, we found ourselves surrounded with rocks, and shoals, amongst which we had been carried during the night by the currents from W.N.W. In vain we plied to windward with a very good south-east breeze, with a. view of extricating ourselves from this dangerous situation; the currents always prevented us from getting beyond a small island situated to the north-east, at the distance of 2,500 toises, near which there appeared to be a passage into the open sea. We were then in 10° 58' S. lat. 151° 18' E. long. Our room for beating became more confined, and our situation the more hazardous, in proportion as we were carried farther to the westward; besides, we found no bottom, so that we were at length obliged to resolve venturing among the shoals to the N.W. in hopes of finding there a passage for our vessels; but this resolution was not taken till late in the evening. It was already night when we found ourselves becalmed in a narrow channel, and at the mercy of a rapid current, which might every moment prove our destruction, by driving us upon the rocks with which we were surrounded. However, at break of day we had the satisfaction of finding ourselves in the open sea, extricated from all our dangers. Our situation had undoubtedly been a very hazardous one; but since we had already traversed seas full of shoals, we were become so accustomed to danger, that myself, as well as several others of our company, went to bed at our usual hour, and slept as soundly as if we had been in a state of the most perfect security.
17th. The coasts, along which we had hitherto ranged to the northward of the islands, were intercepted by a great number of channels. We had seen may habitations in this numerous collection, of islands, but not one of the natives. On the 29th, being in latitude 10° 8' S. long. 149° 37' east, and sailing at a small distance northward of a clutter of small islands, we observed fifteen of the natives coming out of their huts. Three of them immediately entered a canoe, and made towards us, but we sailed so fast, that they were not able to come up with our vessels.
Another canoe soon appeared near the westernmost island of the group; it was much larger than the former, and carried an almost square sail, which being immediately loosed, it soon came very near to us, but all our endeavours to persuade the men to come alongside of our vessel were in vain. They afterwards made towards the Esperance, and having approached within a small distance of her, drew in their sail, and would not come nearer; our vessels were then lying to, Citizen Legrand, being very desirous of an interview with the natives, threw himself into the sea, and soon swam up to the canoe. We were informed in the evening that this officer had not seen any arms amongst them; and, that though they were twelve in number, they had shewed some signs of fear when they saw him approach them.
It appears that they are unacquainted with the use of iron, as they seemed to set little value upon that which he presented to them.
These islanders were of a black colour, not very deep, and stark naked. Their woolly hair was ornamented with tufts of feathers, and they wore cords bound several times round the circumference of their bodies, undoubtedly intended to afford a support to the muscles of the belly. Many of them wore bracelets made of the rind of the cocoa tree.
We admired their dexterity in steering near the wind when they returned to the shore.
On the morning of the 18th, two canoes with out-riggers and sails, each manned by twelve savages, sailed swiftly round our vessel, watching us with great attention, but at a considerable distance. They afterwards kept for a long time to windward of us. We were then in 9° 53' S. lat. 149° 10' E. long. There was every appearance of great population on the southern coast, and especially towards the farther end of a large bay that extends to S.S.W. We soon perceived several canoes rowing towards us each manned by ten or eleven natives, who kept at the distance of about a hundred yards from our vessel, till some pieces of cloth, which he threw into the sea for them, induced them to approach nearer. They appeared much surprized at seeing a young black on board of our vessel, whom we had brought with us from Amboyna. They did not understand him when he addressed them in the Malay language. These savages had all woolly hair and olive-coloured skins; I observed, however, one amongst them who was as black, as the negroes of Mozambique, and resembled them also in other particulars. His lower lip, as is the case with them, projected considerably beyond the upper. All these islanders used betel; and they were all stark naked. They wore bracelets ornamented with shells. Many of them had a small piece of bone passed through the partition between the nostrils; others wore a string of shells like a scarf over their shoulders.
They presented to us roots baked in the ashes, and carefully peeled. We observed no other weapons amongst them than short javelins, pointed only at one end.
Their huts were supported six or eight feet above the ground upon stakes, like those of the Papous.
These savages wished us to land upon their island, but observing that we receded farther from it, in consequence of the currents which carried us to the westward, they left us and returned to their coasts.
Two of the canoes were still quite close to the Esperance at half after three o'clock, when we observed three muskets fired from that vessel, upon which the savages sled, rowing with all their might. We soon learnt that the men in one of the canoes had thrown stones at the crew of the ship without the least provocation having been given. None of the sailors, however, had been wounded by this act of treachery; and the muskets had been fired only to terrify them.
Soon after two boats were dispatched in order to sound several creeks along the coast, where we hoped to find good anchorage.—We found ourselves disappointed; as it was necessary to approach within a hundred yards of the coast, before the bottom could be reached with a line of seventy yards; and at the distance of two hundred yards we could not strike the ground with a line of less than a hundred and sixteen.
Notwithstanding the fright which the muskets fired at their companions might have given them; some of the natives came alongside of our vessel from the very place to which the others had made their escape. They shewed themselves very, fraudulent in their dealings with us, bargaining at any price for the commodities which we had to barter with them, and as soon as they had got them in their possession, refuting to give us any thing in return. One of them, however, consented to give up to us a flute and a necklace, which are represented in Plate XXXVIII. Fig. 26 and 27.
I observed one of the natives who wore, suspended from his neck by a thin cord, a part of a human bone, cut from about the middle of the cubitus. Whether this might be a trophy of some victory gained over an enemy, and those natives belong to the class of the cannibals, I cannot tell.
Many of them had their faces smeared over with the powder of charcoal.
They generally cover their natural parts with large leaves of vacoua, passing between their thighs, and fastened to the girdle before and behind by a very tight ligature.
They had with them some pretty large fishing nets, to the lower end of which they had fastened various sorts of shells; some of these shells they carried in small cylindrical baskets, furnished in the inside with cords seemingly intended to prevent their breaking.
They used combs with three diverging teeth, some made of bamboo, others of tortoise-shell.
The savages left us at the close of the evening, and we plied to windward during the whole night.
We had scarcely advanced more than 10,000 toises to the N.E. since the preceding evening, when we found ourselves surrounded with low islands connected by shoals, amongst which we were obliged to beat even during the night. We several times passed over flats, which we could distinguish by the dim light of the moon, and often found ourselves in less than ten fathoms water.
A calm coming on about midnight, left us at the mercy of the current, which carried us towards the coast where the savages had lighted several fires.
At break of day we perceived the Esperance at a great distance from us, and much nearer to the land than our vessel, so that she was obliged to be towed by the boats.
The savages soon came in great numbers along-side of our vessel, but were not to be prevailed upon to come on board. An old man, who had already left his canoe in order to comply with our invitation, was prevented by the rest, who eagerly pulled him back to them, as if they imagined him to be about to expose himself to some great danger.
We thought that we recognized amongst these islanders some of those whom we had seen on the two preceding days. They were very curious to know the names of the things we gave them; but what surprised us very much was, that they enquired with the terms poe nama, which very much resemble the Malayan words apa nama, signifying "what is the name of this?" They however, understood none of the men in our ships, who addressed them in the Malay language.
These savages brought with them a sort of pudding, which we found to consist partly of roots and the flesh of lobsters. They offered us some of it, and those of us who ate of it, found it very well tasted.
Most of these islanders made use of a human cubitus, scooped out at the extremity, for drawing the pieces of chalk which they mixed with their betel, from the bottom of a calabash.
They sold us an axe shaped like that represented in Plate XII. Fig. 9; it was made of serpentine alone, very well polished, and hafted with a single piece of wood. The edge of the axe was in the direction of the length of the handle, as in ours.
These islanders are very fond of perfumes; most of the things we got from them, were scented. They had pieces of the bark of different aromatic trees, one of which seemed to me to belong to the species of laurel, known by the name of laurus culilabau, which is very common among the Molucca islands.
The calm still continued, and about one o'clock the Commander sent the barge to assist in towing the Esperance, as the crew might be supposed already much fatigued with their labour. At length, about half an hour after four a breeze sprung up from the south-east, which enabled her to get clear of the shoals. The barge soon returned to our vessel, when we were informed that the Esperance had been surrounded for a long time by a great number of the savages; that about noon they had pointed out to the crew two canoes rowing from two small islands to meet each other, and given them to understand that the islanders in the boats were going to fight a battle, and that these who came off conquerors intended to devour their enemies. During this recital, a ferocious expression of pleasure was visible in their countenances, as if they were to partake of this horrible banquet. After this communication, almost all those among our crew who had eaten of the pudding, which the savages brought them in the morning, were seized with retchings, from the apprehension that this food, which seemed to be so highly grateful to the islanders, was partly composed of human flesh.
The two canoes were soon near enough together to commence the engagement. The combatants were seen mounted upon a platform of wood, supported by the out-rigger, and the canoe, from whence they threw stones with their slings; each of them wearing a buckler upon his left arm; with which he endeavoured to ward off the stones thrown by his adversary. They, however, separated after a fight of half a quarter of an hour, in which none of them appeared to have been dangerously wounded, and returned to the shore.
The captain of the Esperance sent to the Commander a tomahawk and a buckler which he had obtained from these savages.
The tomahawk was very broad, and flat at one of its extremities. The buckler was the first defensive weapon which we had observed among the savage nations we had hitherto visited. It was made of very hard wood, and of the form represented in Plate XII, Fig. 7 and 8. It was nearly three feet in length, a foot and a quarter in breadth, and upwards of half an inch in thickness. The outer side was slightly convex. About the middle of Fig. 8, which represents the inner-side of the buckler, three small pieces of cane are visible, by which the islanders fix it to the left arm.
Though the natives had been in great numbers about the Esperance, they had attempted no act of hostility, except that one of them appeared to be preparing to throw a javelin at one of the crew who was upon the wale, but seeing himself observed, he desisted from his design, and the canoe in which he was rowed away from the vessel with precipitation.
On the following days we sailed by some very low small islands, beyond which we saw very high lands to the southward. The prodigious numbers of flats which we continually encountered, prevented us from ranging nearer to the coast.
On the 25th, being in 8° 7 south latitude, 146° 39' east longitude, we saw the high grounds of New Guinea extending from south-west to northwest. After having followed them in their direction to north-west, we arrived on the 27th at a deep gulph, about 40,000 toises in extent, and, surrounded by very high mountains, the loftiest of which are on the north side, where they unite with that which forms the Cape of King William. The calm detained us here till the 29th, when we sailed for the straits of Dampier.
On the 30th, at break of day, we discovered to the N.W.W. a very high mountain furrowed near its summits by longitudinal excavations of a great depth. This was the Cape of King William. We afterwards observed the western coast of New Britain, for which we steered under full sail, in order to get before night to the northward of the straits of Dampier. The sun being in our face, the man at the mast-head could not perceive timely enough a flat over which we passed about eight in the morning, the surge running very high. After getting clear of this, we thought ourselves out of all danger; but about three quarters of an hour after, we found ourselves between two shoals very near to each, other, which inclosed us in such a manner, that it was impossible to pass through with the south-south-east wind, which drove us farther and farther in. The Commander gave orders immediately to put about; but there was not time sufficient to perform this manoeuvre, before our vessel drove towards the shoals to the northward, where we expected the would soon be wrecked, when Citizen Gicquel cried from the mast-head that he saw a passage between the rocks which, though very narrow, was yet wide enough for our vessel to sail through. We immediately steered for this passage, and were at length extricated from one of the most hazardous situations which we experienced during the whole course of our expedition. We were, however, not yet out of all danger, being still surrounded for some time by other shoals, which obliged us several times to change our direction; but we were at length fortunate enough to find a passage through the narrow straits by which they were separated from each other.
About noon we were already very far up the strait, our latitude being 5° 38' south, longitude 146° 24' east.
The coast of New Britain bore from east 37° south, to east 61° north, we being at the distance of 2,500 toises from the land.
The island on which Dampier discovered a volcano bore west 38° north, at the distance of 7,600 toises. This volcano was then extinguished; but we saw, at the distance of 5,130 toises, west 28° north, a small island of a conical form, which was not observed by Dampier to exhibit any signs of subterraneous fire. A thick smoke proceeded at intervals from the summit of the mountain; and about half an hour after three, a great quantity of burning substances were thrown out of the aperture of the volcano, which lighting upon the eastern declivity of the mountain, rolled down the sides till they fell into the sea, where they immediately produced an ebullition in the water, and raised it into vapours of a shining white colour. At the moment of the eruption, a thick, smoke, tinged with different hues, but principally of a copper colour, was thrown out with such violence, as to ascend above the highest clouds.
We saw a great number of inhabitants along the coast of New Britain, and several huts raised upon stones, after the manner of the Papous.
We left the strait before close of evening.
We now ranged along the northern coast of New Britain, where we discovered several small islands, very mountainous, and hitherto unknown. The currents in this passage were scarcely perceptible, except under the meridian of Port Montague, where they carried us rapidly to the northward, which led us to suppose that we were opposite a channel that divides the lands of New-Britain. We left this coast on the 9th July, after having been impeded in our survey of it by the winds from the south-east, and the frequent calms.
We had been obliged for a long time to live upon worm-eaten biscuit and salt-meat, which was already considerably tainted, in consequence of which, the scurvy had begun to make great ravages amongst us. The greater part of us found ourselves compelled to leave off the use of coffee, as it occasioned very troublesome spasmodic affections.
On the 11th we steered very near the Portland Islands.
In the afternoon of the 12th we espied the most easterly of the Admiralty Isles.
On the 18th, about sun-set, we discovered the Anchorites S.W. by W.
About seven o'clock in the evening of the 21st, we lost our Commander Dentrecasteaux; he sunk under the violence of a cholic which had attacked him two days before. For some time he had experienced a few slight symptoms of the scurvy, but we were far from imagining ourselves threatened with so heavy a loss.
AUGUST 2d. we descried the Traitors Islands, and about noon we saw them at the distance of 20,000 toises, from S. 35° W. to S 42° W., we being in 6' S. lat. 134° 3' E. long.
On the 8th our baker died of the scurvy, his whole body having been previously affected with an emphysema, which had encreased with astonishing rapidity, in consequence of the heats of the Equator.
On the 11th we doubled the Cape of Good Hope of New Guinea, and on the 16th cast anchor at Waygiou.
Abode at Waygiou—Scorbutic Patients
are speedily relieved—Interviews with the
Natives—Anchor at Bourou—Passage through the Straits
of Bouton—Ravages produced by the Dysentery—Anchor at
Sourabaya—Abode at Samarang—My Detention at Fort
Anké, near Batavia—Abode at Isle de
France—Return to France.
DURING our stay at Waygiou we were frequently visited by the natives, who brought us turtles, several of which weighed from 200 to 240 pounds. They had mostly been taken on the islands of Aiou. The soup which we made of them afforded great relief to our scorbutic patients. When the natives perceived, that we were in need of them, they made us pay for them at ten tithes their value. These animals continued to crawl about several hours after their heads had been cut off. The natives sold us likewise, turtle eggs roasted and dried, broiled turtle flesh, pullets, hogs, of which they told us there was great abundance in their woods; oranges, cocoa-nuts, papayas, gourds of different kinds, rice, purslain (portulaca guadrifida), sugar canes, pimento; unripe ears of Turkey corn roasted, and the fresh sprouts of the papaya tree. They told us that the sprouts and unripe fruit of this tree were very good eating when boiled. They brought us also sago, made into a sort of flat cakes, three inches broad and six long, which they ate without any farther preparation. Some of them brought us sago made into a sourish tasted paste, after having undergone fermentation.
Most of these islanders were naked all but their natural parts, which they cover with a coarse stuff, apparently made of the bark of the fig tree. The heat of the climate renders all other cloathing unnecessary. Only their chiefs wear very wide trowsers and jackets, made of stuffs which they buy from the Chinese, who, as they told us, came from time to time to anchor where we were. Some of them wore also bracelets of silver, which they had likewise bought of the Chinese. Almost all the chiefs of these savages had been at the Molucca Islands, and spoke the Malay language. Some wore hats made of the leaves of vacoua, of a conical form, and very like to those of the Chinese. Others had their heads bound round with a sort of turban. They have all curled hair, which grows very thick, and to a considerable length. The colour of their skins is not very black. Some suffer the beard on the upper lip to grow, and have their ears and the division of the nose bored. Several of them shewed us their dexterity in shooting with the how at a mark placed at the distance of more than forty paces; and their arrows always came very near their aim. Others were armed with very long lances, pointed, with iron or bone. These islanders undoubtedly know how to forge the iron, as they set great value upon some bars of this metal, which we gave them. Tin was likewise in great requests with them. But of all our commodities they gave a decided preference to cloth, particularly such as was of a red colour.
The island Waygiou, called by the inhabitants Ouarido, is covered with large trees, and throughout mountainous, even at a very small distance from the coast. The huts were built of bamboo, raised upon stakes, about three yards above the ground, and covered with reeds.
It is remarkable, that as soon as we had landed, those of our crew who were the least affected with the scurvy, or even shewed no symptoms at all of that disorder, became affected with a considerable degree of swelling all over the body; but this symptom, which had very much alarmed some of us, disappeared entirely after walking three or four hours.
During our stay in this island I made very frequent excursions into the forests, where I collected a great number of new plants, and killed a variety of rare birds, amongst which was that species of the promerops which Buffon calls the promerops of New Guinea; also a large psitaccus aterrimus, and a new species of calao, to which I gave the name of the calao of the island Waygiou. Its beak is bent, of a dirty white colour, and about six inches in length. Each mandible is unequally notched, and the superior is surmounted by a hood of a yellow colour, flat at the top and ridged. The wings and body are black, the tail white, and the neck of a lively red. (See Plate XI.) This beautiful bird is two feet in length, from the tip of the beak to the extremity of the feet.
PLATE XI. Calao of the Island of Waygiou
I saw several wild cocks in the woods. The female of this species, which was brought us by the natives, was scarcely larger than a partridge, and yet its eggs were as large again as those of our domestic hen. This wild species of the dung-hill-cock is black, that which I had found in the forests of Java was grey.
The crowned pheasant of India (columba coronata) is very common in these thick forests, where we found here and there wild orange trees; the fruit of which furnished our scorbutic patients with a very wholesome sort of lemonade.
The natives told us, that the road-stead where our vessels rode at anchor was infested by alligators; but this did not deter several of our sailors from bathing in it. We afterwards found some of the prints of their feet in the woods. It is particularly during the night-time that these animals are most to be feared.
Whilst we lay at anchor we were visited by several of the chiefs. The chief of Ravak supped and slept on board the Esperance the night before our departure; but as soon as he saw preparations for weighing anchor, he threw himself into the sea, from, the apprehension that we were going to carry him away with us. We should have been surprised at his harbouring such a suspicion, if we had not been informed, that five months before the Dutch had carried off his brother, during an entertainment which they had made for him on board of their vessel. This chief wore trowsers, with a very wide Indian cloak, and a waistcoat of satin. His ear-rings were of gold.
The inhabitants of this island had declared war against the Dutch, and the greater part of them, with the most powerful of the chiefs, to whom they give the title of Sultan, at their head, were gone to unite with the inhabitants of Ceram, in order to attack the Governor of Amboyna, who was expected there on his visit to the Molucca Islands. The inhabitants of the huts built on the coast near our anchoring station, had provided for the safety of their women and children, by conducting them, before their departure from the island, into the villages in the heart of the country. The road-stead where our vessels lay is called by the natives Boni-Sainé. It is distant about 5,130 toises to the eastward of Ravak, and formed by the coast of Waygiou and a small island called by the natives Boni, which was eastward of our station. We were here almost under the Equator, our latitude being found by observation 38" S. Our longitude was 128° 53' E.
We took in our water towards the extremity of the road-stead, at a pretty large river, into which our boats could enter more than 500 toises from its mouth at low water, and twice as far at high water.
The thermometer, as observed on board, did not rise higher than 24°, undoubtedly in consequence of the abundant rains.
The barometer varied only from 28 inches 1 line to 28 inches 1½ line.
The variation of the magnetic needle was 1° 14' E.
The breezes were very slight, and varied only from S.S.E. to S.W.
On the 28th we sailed from Waygiou, and ranged along its northern coast, standing to the west, in order to weather the westerly point. We here met with a flat which is not indicated upon the charts, where the soundings gave us a depth of from four to eight, fathoms, within a space of about 300 toises in length, which we were obliged to cross. We observed in different places, rocks almost even with the water's edge, but were fortunate enough to keep clear of them. The greatest length of this flat is about 1,000 toises from north to south.
On the 4th of SEPTEMBER we cast anchor in the road-stead of Bourou, at the distance of 1,000 toises from the Dutch settlement, in a depth of 20 fathoms, over a bottom of sand and mud. The Commander of this station immediately sent a corporal to us, to offer us a supply of whatever fresh provisions we might have occasion for. A few minutes after we, observed some muskets fired amongst a herd of buffaloes that were walking along the shore, and were informed that the Resident had ordered two of the fattest to be killed for the use of our vessels. Well acquainted with the wants of navigators, he had sent us a great quantity of fruit, several bottles of an agreeable liquor extracted from the palm-tree, and some of the young leaves of a species of fern of the genus asplenium, which grows in moist places in the shade; eaten as sallad they are very tender and well-tasted.
The Resident, Henry Commans, was a man of great simplicity of manners, and very much beloved by the inhabitants. It was the whole happiness the Dutch of Amboyna described, by, telling us that he might sleep as much as he pleased. We met with several persons in his house who had seen Admiral Bougainville during his stay at Bourou, and who mentioned the name of that celebrated navigator with enthusiastic admiration.
This and the following day were employed by me in surveying the different districts of this island, which presents every where a very varied and picturesque appearance. The sago tree grows here in great abundance; it forms the principal source of subsistence to the inhabitants, and affords even an article of exportation. Large plantations of it were seen near the Dutch establishment, in marshes which render this place very unhealthy, particularly in the beginning of the spring. The cayou pouti of the Malays (melaleuca latifolia), grows in great abundance upon the hills. The Resident showed us a large alembic, which he uses for distilling the leaves of this tree, from which he procures every year a great quantity of the oil of cajeput.
The island of Bourou produces several kinds of wood proper for inlaid work, which are its great request among the Chinese; and others useful in dyeing. Two Chinese vessels were run aground in the mud to the N.E. of the Dutch fort. The village near which the fort is built is called Cayeli, in the Malay language. Those of the natives who follow the Mahometan religion have a mosque, whose roofs diminishing in regular gradation, as they rise one above the other, present a very agreeable appearance. (See Plate XLII, which represents, a part of this village.)
PLATE XLII. View of the Island of Bourou, taken from the Road
The coast to the east of the village is watered only by very small streams, but about 2,500, toises to the N.W. we went up a very considerable river, called by the inhabitants Aer-Bessar, which discharges itself into the road-stead. This river is very deep, and for the length of about 2,000 toises, as far as we went up it, more than 70 feet broad. The island of Bourou undoubtedly owes its possessing so considerable a stream to the great elevation of its mountains. On the borders of the river I frequently found the beautiful shrub known by the name of portlandia grandiflora.
The pebbles rolled from the mountains, which on the banks of several rivulets, were fragments of rocks of quartz mixed with mica, and frequently of a sort of free stone, which likewise consisted of quartzose particles.
Birds, especially parrots, are so numerous in this island, that it probably derives from this circumstance its name, which signifies in the Malayan language, a bird.
The woods affords such abundance of deer, goats and wild boars, that the natives can furnish the Resident with as many as he has occasion for, at the rate of two musket shots fired at each. The species of boar called babi-roussa (sus babyrussa), is also found here.
The natives seemed to be much afraid of several kinds of snakes, which they told us were very numerous in their island; but during the whole of our stay in this place, which I spent almost entirely in rambling through the woods, I never met with one of these reptiles.
Although the rainy season had not yet set in, violent forms blew almost every night from the high mountains.
Upon sounding the bay, we discovered at its entrance, a little on this side of the eat point, called Point Rouba, a shelf of rocks, at a depth of not more than a fathom throughout an extent of about 2,000 toises; but the rest of this spacious outlet very deep, and that even at a small distance from the western point, or Point Lessatello, called by the natives Tanguiou Corbau (Buffalo Point).
According to astronomical, observations made at the village of Cayeli, its latitude was 3° 21' 54" S. long. 125° 1' 6" E.
The dip of the magnetic needle was 20° 30'.
Its variation, as observed on board, was 0° 54' E.
The highest point indicated by the thermometer on board was 23°, and on shore 25° 3-10ths.
The mercury in the barometer varied only from 28 inches 1 line to 28 inches 2 lines.
The time of high water on the full and change days was three quarters after eleven; it then rose to six feet perpendicular height.
On the 16th we sailed from Bourou, steering for the Strait of Bouton, which we entered on the afternoon of the 22d.
17th. On the following day, about sun-set, we cast anchor 513 toises from the coast, opposite to the outlet of the channel which separates Pangesani from Celebes. Rossel, who, in consequence of Dauribeau's being indisposed, had now the command of the expedition, formed the project of sailing out through this channel. Early in the morning of the 24th, he dispatched a pinnace, which reconnoitred the channel to the extent of 15,000, toises. A great number of small islands were scattered throughout the Strait, particularly towards the coast of Celebes; and both coasts were almost every where bordered with marshes. After this report many of our seamen thought there was reason to apprehend that we might not be able to find a sufficient depth of water in every part of the channel for our vessels to pass through it; however we sailed into it on the following day, and, after having proceeded about 10,000 toises east, anchored at the close of the evening.
26th. The following day another pinnace was sent out to sound throughout the whole of this passage. She returned on the 29th in the afternoon, with the intelligence that she had found a great number of sand-banks and some flats, very difficult to have discovered on account of their black colour, which rendered the passage extremely dangerous. It was therefore determined to return to the Strait of Bouton; and after having been obliged to cast anchor, often several times in the course of a single day, we at length arrived, on the 7th OCTOBER, at its southern extremity, and anchored near the village of Bouton, at the distance of 1,000 toises from the nearest coast.
We had spent a considerable space of time in passing through this Strait, as we were obliged to lie at anchor during the whole night time, and in the day to wait till the tide was favourable to our intended course, before we could set sail.
During our passage the natives brought us various sorts of fruits common in the Moluccas. Some of their boats had a cargo of wild bread-fruit, the kernels of which, those who eat of them, found very indigestible, even when roasted. They brought us likewise a great number of pullets, goats, dried and sometimes fresh fish. Most of those natives would not exchange any of their commodities with us, before they had asked permission of the Commander of our vessel, to whom they generally made a present. They informed us that a year ago they had seen four European vessels sailing through this Strait; namely, two from Ternate, the others from Banda and Amboyna. These people trade with the Dutch. They preferred money to any other commodity we offered them. Most of them, however, were very desirous to procure powder and ball from us; but when they found that we would not give them any, one of them offered us two slaves in exchange for a small quantity of ammunition, and appeared extremely surprised that we did not accept of his proposal.
These islanders brought us a great number of parrots, of the species psillacus alexandri and psillacus cristatus.
We were much surprised to see them bring some cotton stuffs, and thread made of the agave vivipara, which, they told us, were of their own manufacture.
I made use of the opportunities afforded me by our detention in the Strait to go on shore. I found a great number of plants which I had never met with before: among others, the uviform nutmeg tree described by Citizen Lamark; its fruit has no aromatic quality. I likewise collected the cynometra ramiflora the gyrinocarpus of Gærtner, and various species of calamus, which, after raising themselves to the summit of the tallest trees, descend again to the ground, from whence they climb up others trees of equal height, their stalks frequently growing to the length of several hundred yards.
The fruit of the bombax ceiba, and that of several new species of the same genus, affords abundant nourishment to the numerous troops of apes that are found here, some of which we killed, in order to preserve their skins.
The moist ground exhibited almost every where marks of the feet of deer, wild boars, and buffaloes. We frequently found numerous herds of the last-mentioned animals lying upon the wet ground; but they always betook themselves to flight as soon as they saw us, and it was impossible to pursue them through the mire.
In the island of Pangesani I frequently traversed thick forests of the palm, known by the name of corypha umbraculifera, where I found squirrels of the species called feiurus palmarum, which always fled at the approach of a man.
The natives had erected several sheds near the shore, where they kept the bamboo hurdles, upon which they place their fish when they dry them at the fire in order to preserve them.
The islanders, aware of the danger of living near the morasses, which render the northern coast of Pangesani very unhealthy, have built no villages in that part of the country. It was in the midst of these morasses that our crew became first infected with a dysentery of a very contagious nature, which produced the greatest ravages amongst us, as we were already much debilitated by the long use of bad provisions, which had become still more unwholesome during the course of our voyage. I was also infected with this disorder which proved fatal to great numbers of our crew.
8th. This morning at sun-rise, four chiefs, who bore the title of Oran-kai, came on board to notify to us, that we were not permitted to land, before the Sultana, who resided at Bouton, and was an ally of the Dutch Company, had been previously informed of our design. We told them that we were very desirous of viewing this part of the island, and one of them went immediately to signify our wish to that petty sovereign.
We were soon visited by two Dutch soldiers, who offered to procure us an interview with the Sultan, assuring us that without his permission the natives durst not sell us any provisions. They then conducted us to their own dwelling, where we were informed that the Sultan would not be visible till very late in the afternoon. Upon this intelligence a considerable number of us took an excursion into the interior of the island, directing our route to the eastward. The natives did not appear surprised at seeing us, and shewed no inclination to follow us.
After having walked for more than two hours along the banks of a small river, covered with a great number of boats, some of which had come from the strait laden with fish, we forded the stream with a view of proceeding to the northward. We went up very steep ascents, where I collected a great number of plants; among others, the barleria prionitis, and several new species of the croton.
Most of the habitations in this part of the country were built upon the summits of delightful hills, with which this side of the island abounds. We met with a very friendly reception from the inhabitants, who presented to us fruits of different kinds. One of them, who went to gather some cocoa-nuts for us, climbed very quickly to the top of the tree, by means of an expedient which to me appeared singular. He tied his legs together near the ancle with a stripe of cloth, by which he was enabled to grasp the trunk of the tree with his feet so strongly as to support the whole weight of his body; and, as the stem was not very thick, by thus clasping it alternately with his feet and his arms, he very soon reached the top.
We remarked some forts built on the most inaccessible heights amongst these hills, which serve the inhabitants for a place of refuge, when their habitations are invaded by an enemy. These fortifications consist of stone walls of considerable thickness, and about ten or twelve feet high, inclosing a plot of ground from sixty to eighty feet square.
The natives who sold us stuffs a few days before, had not deceived us when they told us that they had been manufactured in the island of Bouton. We saw to-day, in, several of the houses, looms for manufacturing similar stuffs; the workmen performing their operations in a manner very like our linen weavers. They use cotton threads of various colours; but red and blue appear to be the most in request among the natives.
About four o'clock in the afternoon we went to the village of Bouton to see the Sultan. We had not been informed that it was necessary to bring some presents with us, in order to be admitted to an audience. As we had nothing to offer him, he was not to be spoken with; but his son and nephew received us at the sort where he resides. They frequently repeated to us, with great emphasis, that the whole island was under his dominion; that he was an ally of the Dutch Company, and that their enemies were his enemies. They then told us that the natives of Ceram having lately invaded their coasts, four of them were taken and delivered up to the King, who immediately ordered them to be beheaded. They then desired us to step a few paces further, and viewed us, with an air of great satisfaction, the heads of these unfortunate islanders, exposed upon long poles planted on the walls of the fort.
The village of Bouton is built upon an eminence with a very steep declivity to the north-west, and surrounded with thick walls which secure the inhabitants from the incursions of their enemies. The houses are built of bamboo, and their roofs covered with palm-trees, like those of the other inhabitants of the Moluccas.
The Sultan resides in a fort built of stone. It appeared to us that this chief shews great distrust of the agents of the Dutch Company, though they are his allies; for the three Dutch soldiers, who were the only inhabitants of the Company's house, were not permitted to live in the village where he resides. They were obliged to remain in an inconvenient, isolated dwelling, more than a 1000 toises distant from his residence. They were soon to leave the island, and go to Macassar; but were still detained by the apprehension of meeting with the vessels. of the natives of Ceram, which had been cruising for some time in these seas.
It was already night when we returned to the shore in order to go on board. As it was then low water, we, were obliged to wade in the sea up to our waists, though the greater part of us had laboured under the dysentery for several days, which was very much aggravated in consequence.
During the day the natives had brought, for the use of our vessels, rice, maize, sugar canes, pullets' eggs, ducks and goats. In exchange for these provisions they had been offered hardware commodities, but they preferred the money current in the Moluccas, especially the small silvered coin which they call koupan pera, and which is brought over by the Dutch from Europe.
The time of high water in this bay at full and change-days, is about one o'clock in the afternoon, the tide rising six feet perpendicular height.
Our anchoring station was 5° 27' 8" S. lat. 120° 27' E. long.
On the 9th in the afternoon we weighed anchor, and steering under full sails to get out of the strait of Bouton, we soon reached the open sea.
On the 11th we passed the Strait of Salayer. A great number of canoes and natives were seen upon the beach, others were sailing towards Celebes.
We cast anchor several times along the coast of Madura, and on the afternoon of the 19th, in a bottom of reddish mud, at the depth of five fathoms, not far distant from the north-west point of the island, and at the entrance of the channel that leads to Sourabaya, one of the principal establishments of the Dutch in the island of Java. As we intended to come to anchor there, a pinnace had been dispatched, about nine o'clock in the morning, to the village of Grissé, by the Esperance, to demand a pilot who could conduct us through the channel.
Five days elapsed without our receiving any news of our pinnace. We were apprehensive that she had fallen in with pirates; and, on the 23d, another was sent out, upon the supposition that the former had not arrived at the place of her destination; for we could not have imagined that she had been detained by the Dutch, who were well acquainted with the purpose of our expedition; but on the 25th, we received a letter from the officer who had the command of the pinnace, acquainting us that he was detained prisoner by the Dutch, who were then at war with France. Soon, however, a message was brought us from the Council of Sourabaya, informing us that in pursuance of the instructions which they had just received from Batavia, they were willing to afford us every assistance in their power; and on the 26th two pilots were sent us. We were obliged to cast anchor several times before we could get into the roads of Sourabaya, where we cast anchor on the 28th, about 1,000 toises northward of the river that runs through the town the flag of the fort bearing S. 2° E. and the village of Grissé W. 30' N.
The dysentery had already carried off six of our crew since our departure from Bouton.
31st. We soon obtained permission to reside in the town of Sourabaya, where I procured a lodging in the house of Messrs. Bawer and Stagh, who received me with the greatest cordiality.
NOVEMBER 10th. The council revoked the permission they had granted us, and all our company were immediately obliged to return on board, with the exception of our invalids, to which number I belonged, the dysentery having left me in a state of extreme debility. Being now removed from the rest of my fellow-sufferers in this contagious malady, I was very much relieved by the use of purgatives, sago, and skimmed milk; and in a short time completely recovered.
It was high time that this captivity should have an end; for the number of sick persons on board increased with alarming rapidity. Almost one half of the crew were attacked with dysentery and contagious fevers, which did not abate of their violence till they had carried off several of our men. At length the Council again granted the permission which they had revoked a few days before, and we had the satisfaction of meeting again together in the town.
The heat was excessive during the first days of our stay at Sourabaya. I was astonished to see Reaumur's thermometer rise to 27°; but these burning heats were but of short duration; for the change of the monsoon, which took place about the beginning of November, caused for a considerable time, especially in the afternoon, abundant falls of rain, which cooled the atmosphere to such a degree, that the thermometer did not stand higher than 22° or 23°, in the hottest part of the day.
As soon as my health was a little re-established, I made frequent excursions in the environs of the town, and as far into the country as my strength permitted me. I had the pleasure of seeing my collections of natural history encrease with a great number of specimens which I had never before met with.
Most of the roads to a considerable distance from Sourabaya are shaded by hedges of bamboo. Others were inclosed between long avenues of mimusops elengi, guillandina moringa, nauclea orientalis, hybiscus tiliaceus, &c. the shade of which produces a very salutary effect in this fervid climate. I was much surprised to see the last mentioned tree send out branches from the whole length of its trunk, as far down as the root; differing in this respect from all of the same species, that I had seen in other places, but I soon observed some of the Javanese employed in making incisions very close to each other in the bark of the trees with a large knife, and was informed that this operation has been practised here from time immemorial for the purpose of causing young shoots to sprout from the places cut in this manner. They, always choose the rainy season for performing this operation, as it succeeds with most certainty at that period. Vegetation is then so rapid in this climate, that a very short time after the incisions had been made, I saw them filled with a vast number of young buds. The inhabitants of this island are, however, in general, but little skilled in the agricultural arts.
On the 12th of DECEMBER, those of us who were engaged in the pursuit of natural history, obtained permission from the Governor of Sourabaya to visit the mountains of Prau, situated at the distance of about 30,000 toises west-south-west of the town.
On the following day we set out for the village of Poron, situated near the foot of the mountains. The Javanese who carried our baggage, suspended it to long poles of bamboo, each borne between the shoulders of two men.
Having proceeded about 20,000 toises, we arrived at Sonde Kari, where we dined after the Javanese fashion with the chief of the village, who had ordered a sumptuous repast to be prepared for us. It consisted of sever al dishes of broiled fish, and the flesh of buffaloes and horses that had been preserved, as we were told, for six months, by being cut into thin slices, and dried in the sun. All the dishes were seasoned very highly with pepper, pimento and ginger. Rice served us in the place of bread, and the entertainment concluded with a plentiful desert of excellent fruit.
We soon set forward on our journey, and were overtaken by a heavy rain, which put us to great inconvenience. A serjeant of the Dutch troop gave us a proof of his authority over the Javanese, who returned to the village we had left, by taking out of their hands the umbrellas which they had brought with them; none of them daring to resist. We did not know what he intended to do with them, till he came up and offered them to us, laying, that he thought it very presumptuous in these men to shelter themselves from the rain, while they saw us exposed to it; but to his great surprise, none of us would make use of the umbrellas, but desired him to return them to the owners.
At length we arrived at the village of Poron, where we were received by the chief, who bears the title of Deman. His principal office is to apportion to the natives their daily tasks of labour.
The country through which we had palled is a vast plain, in which rice is principally cultivated. The plantations were already covered with six or eight inches of water, retained by the earthen mounds with which they were surrounded.
Before we arrived at Sonda Kari, we had observed large plantations of indigo. This article is principally cultivated in Java by the Chinese, who have a much more extensive acquaintance with the arts than the natives.
We saw likewise several fields in which the ricinus communis was cultivated from the seeds of which the Javanese extract a kind of lamp-oil.
This plain contains also a few plantations of maize, sugar canes, and the holcus sorghum.
We spent the night in a very neat house, built of bamboo, which stood close by that of the Deman.
14th. On the following day we baited at the west extremity of the same village upon lands under the jurisdiction of the Tomogon of Banguil, who, though he resided at the distance of more than 7,500 toises from thence, came early in the morning to give orders to the inhabitants to provide for our safety, and furnish us with whatever eatables we might want.
The Tomogon was a man of much good sense, spoke the Dutch language very well, and had a competent knowledge of the affairs of Europe. He was a Chinese by birth, but had embraced the Mahometan religion in order to obtain the title of Tomogon.
We were extremely fatigued with the journey we had made the preceding day upon the small honks common in this island. Their very hard trot galled us the more, as the saddles we were obliged to make use of were not stuffed, but confined of a very hard kind of wood, with a thick piece of skin glued on for their only covering. Besides, the Javanese stirrups were too short for us, and could not be lowered, which rendered our posture extremely uneasy. We therefore went very little from our habitation during this day, but on the following (15th), we passed over a plain about 2,500 toises in length, and for the greater part already covered with water, before we arrived at the mountains of Prau. The Tomagon of Banguil came to this place on horseback, accompanied by upwards of a hundred attendants, very well mounted. We found him in the forest, where he waited for us; but, having probably very little idea of the simple mode in which naturalists choose to travel, he had made his men bring chairs with them for us to sit down upon at the top of one of the mountains, from whence, we had a view through the trees of a great extent of country, which he told us was all in his dependency; and, to impress it the more strongly upon our minds, he immediately ordered the tops of several tek-trees to be struck off; but we saw with regret more than a hundred feet of the trunks of these beautiful trees destroyed and sacrificed to such a momentary gratification.
Peacocks were very common in these forests through which we rambled in every direction, and we shot several of them. Amongst other plants, I collected several beautiful species of uvaria, helecteres and bauhinia.
The natives were employed in clearing a fine piece of ground at the foot of the eastern mountains. The smaller trees they cut down with axes; the larger they only stripped of their bark near the root, in order to make them decay.
In the afternoon a distant sound of thunder ushered in a violent fall of rain, as is usual at this season, which compelled us to hasten back to our habitation. The Tomagon, before he returned to Banguil, repeated the orders he had already given to the natives, to provide for our safety and our wants.
On the following days we visited the mountains of Panangounan, penetrating into the territory of the Emperor of Solo through vast forests, of tek-trees, under the shade of which the pancratium amboinense grew in abundance. Our guides often expressed their fear of meeting with tigers, which, they told us, were very common in the thickets on the banks of the rivers, where they lie in wait for the animals that come to drink. We, however, met with none of these beasts of prey.
The Javanese who accompanied us were almost continually on horseback, and did not dismount even in the most inaccessible parts of the forest; but whenever they saw the plant, called in their language kadiarankri, they immediately threw themselves on their feet, and ran as fast as they were, able to gather it, trying to outstrip each other. Their eagerness raising our curiosity to know the cause of their valuing this plant so highly, we were informed that the knobs of its roots, dried and reduced to powder, were a powerful aphrodisiac. It appears that these auxiliary medicines are much esteemed amongst this people, as, indeed, they generally are amongst the inhabitants of hot climates. This parasite plant is only to be found upon the trunks of large trees. It was not yet at its period of fructification; however, it appeared to me to be a new species of the pothos.
During these excursions I killed several wild cocks, whose plumage was diversified with a variety of colours of admirable brilliancy. Their crowing, which we often heard in the midst of the woods, led us at first to imagine that we were in the vicinity of some habitation, but we soon learnt to distinguish their note perfectly well from that of the domestic cock. The comb of the wild cock is not red, but of a whitish colour, with a slight tinge of violet, which grows somewhat deeper towards the edges. The greater part of the swamps in the neighbourhood of our dwelling were covered with very large leaves of the nymphea nelumbo, upon which we frequently observed a species of bird similar to that called parra sinensis; and admired the lightness with which it walked over the surface of the water, stepping with its long legs from one leaf to the other.
At a small distance westward of the village of Porou, we saw two colossal statues, called by the Javanese rectio, and in high veneration amongst them. They were both hewn out of blocks of stone eleven feet high; their drapery was very wide, and the physiognomy of the two heads bore a Moorish character. To me it appeared probable that these statues had been creed in honour of some of the Moorish conquerors of the Moluccas; but the natives could give us no information upon this head.
The Dutch serjeant who accompanied us was a passionate admirer of the music of the Javanese. Soon after our arrival at Porou, he sent for a female singer, whose shrill voice was accompanied by two musicians, who played every evening upon instruments, one of which resembled a dulcimer, and the other a mandolin. Whilst we were employed in preparing and describing our collections, we were obliged to hear, for several hours together, this discordant music, which, however, had always charms sufficient to attract a great concourse of the natives round the performers.
All the airs were sung in the Javanese language. They generally turned upon the subject of love, as our serjeant, who understood the Javanese language perfectly well, interpreted them to us. He told us that these airs were all impromptu as those sung by the singing-women of Java generally are. Ours accompanied her voice with a variety of gestures appropriate to the subject, and especially with certain movements of her fingers of very difficult execution, which were much applauded by the natives. If report does not do them injustice; these singing-women are not distinguished by any extraordinary rigidity of virtue.
On the 20th [December 1793] we returned to Sourabaya.
Citizen Riche and I had formed a plan of spending some time among the mountains of Passervan; to which we had approached very near during our last excursion. They are very high; and we had often heard their fertility much token of. Grain is cultivated there with great success. Many European fruit-trees likewise succeed very well upon those heights, on account of the mild temperature of their atmosphere. It was necessary for us to procure a new order from the Governor before we could undertake this expedition; but Dauribeau, who had offered to request it for us, brought us information that the Governor had shortly received new instructions from the Council at Batavia, according to which he could not permit us to go to any great distance from the town; a walk of three or four hours, being all that was allowed us. I went several times to see a spring situated at the distance of about 7,500 toises to the westward. A great quantity of petroleum rises to the surface of its water, and is carefully collected by the inhabitants, who mix it with pitch. Abundance of pumice-stone is found in the surrounding country.
Citizen Riche and I lodged in the same house. We generally went out together to pursue our researches, and returned in the evening to Sourabaya with the new specimens we had collected. It was always with regret that we found our labours suspended by the approach of night. But on the 19th of February 1794, about four o'clock in the morning, Chateauvieux, the commandant of the place, came with a troop of thirty soldiers under arms, to inform us, in the name of Dauribeau and the principal officers of our expedition, that we were under arrest. Shortly after we learnt that several others of our companions had shared the same fate, without being able to divine the cause of so arbitrary an act of authority; but we were soon informed that intelligence which Dauribeau had received from Europe, had determined him to hoist the white flag, and put himself under the protection of the Dutch, who were then at war with France. He had undoubtedly already then formed the project, which he afterwards carried into execution, of selling the vessels of our expedition. To insure his success, it was necessary for him to get rid of all those persons under him who he knew would strongly disapprove of such a measure. We were therefore delivered into the hands of the Dutch as prisoners of war, to the number of seven, namely, Legrand, Laignel, Willaumez, Riche, Ventenat, Piron, and myself, and conducted to Samarang by a march of 200,000 toises, over roads bad in the extreme, and in the rainy season. We were obliged to use boats to cross several large plains, inundated by the torrents descending from the mountains situated to the southward, and which form a part of the great chain which runs through the whole island of Java from east to west.
Michel Sirot and Pierre Creno, servants on board the Esperance, followed us in our proscription.
Dauribeau had robbed me of all my collections. When we left Sourabaya, I had intrusted to the care of Lahaie, the gardener, eleven bread-fruit trees, and an equal number of the roots and items of this valuable plant, kept in clay in perfect preservation, and fit to produce as many young trees. He promised to take the best care of them, and gave me a receipt for the deposit.
The greater part of the crews were thrown into the prisons of the Tomagon of Sourabaya, from whence they were taken out some time after, part to be sent into those of Batavia, and part to remain with Dauribeau.
We left Sourabaya on the 24th of February.
This town is situated in 7° 14' 28" south lat. 110° 35' 43" east long.
The variation of the magnetic needle was 2° 31' 14" west, and the distance 25°.
After a long course of fatigue we at length arrived at Samarang, on the morning of the 11th March.
The Commandant of the place immediately conducted us to Governor Overstraaten. The Governor told us that the first surgeon of the hospital had got a lodging prepared for us, and sent us to take possession of it; but what was our surprise, when, having been introduced to the surgeon, he led us into one of the wards of his hospital, where he shewed us seven beds, which he said had just been made ready for us. There was neither table nor chairs in this place. It was in vain that we represented to him that we were not sick, and did not with to become so by living in an hospital; his answer always was, that, according to the orders of his Excellency the Governor, he had no other lodging to offer us.
We were obliged at last to appeal to the Governor, and to make him sensible, if possible, of the harshness of such a mode of proceeding with respect to men, who, upon their return from a long and toilsome expedition, undertaken for the advancement of the arts and sciences, had a right to expect a better reception from a civilized nation. It was not, however, till after parleying for several hours, that the order for our imprisonment in an hospital was reversed. We were now permitted to live in the centre of the town, and this was our prison.
Some time after we obtained permission to go to the distance of about 2,500 toises from Samarang, but with the restriction that we should not approach the sea-coast.
During our march from Sourabaya to Samarang, I had been surprised to observe in the market places of several villages, shops where small flat squares of a reddish clay, called by the inhabitants tana ampo, were exposed for sale. At first I imagined that they might be employed for fulling cloths; but I soon observed the inhabitants chewing small quantities of this clay, and they assured me that this was all the use they made of it.
Whilst we were passing through the extensive rice plantations at the foot of the mountains, the natives had frequently pointed out to us, fields of rice upon declivities too steep to be able to retain the water. The rice cultivated in these places was of a species, that does not require an inundated soil to succeed perfectly well; but they only cultivate it in the season when the land is daily drenched with copious rains.
I had already remarked upon several hills in the island of Java, a great number of cocoa trees which were stripped of their leaves and dead at the root. It had appeared very singular to me to find so great a number within so small a space but I was at length informed, by several of the inhabitants of the hills situated at a little distance north-west of Samarang, where I saw many cocoa trees in the same condition, that they had been struck by lightning, and they informed me that the same circumstance frequently happens upon many other hills in the island. In fact, these high trees are particularly exposed by their situation, to the terrible effects of the lightning; besides, the sap, with which they abound, contributes in a great degree to attract the electric matter.
On the 5th of April, we were informed that a packet was shortly to sail from Batavia for Europe. The Governor of Samarang was willing that two of us should go to Batavia, to solicit permission of the Regency for themselves to return in this vessel. As we were all animated by the same desire of revisiting our native country, we agreed to cast lots. The fortunate persons were Citizens Riche and Legrand, and on the 8th. of May they set out for Batavia.
Twelve days after we received orders from the Governor of Samarang, to go to the same place, and there to wait for another opportunity of returning to France, than that of the packet above mentioned for it was even very uncertain, whether or not Riche and Legrand would find a place in it.
Some of the Dutch who were interested about us, informed us, that the fleet, upon which our hopes of returning to Europe depended, was not to set sail in less than six or seven months, and they assured us, that before that period it was not probable we should meet with any other opportunity of returning to out native country. The dysentery which I had caught among the marshes of Strait Bouton, made me apprehensive that a relapse would be produced by those of Batavia, where the exhalations are still more noxious. Besides, the situation of Batavia is so pernicious, so Europeans, particularly during the first year of their abode there, that out of every hundred soldiers who arrive there from Europe, twenty-four generally die in the first year, and those who become somewhat accustomed to the climate, still remain in a languishing state of health. Other Europeans who have all the conveniencies of life at their command, do not die in so terrifying a proportion; but from the small allowance that was granted us as prisoners of war, we could not hope to be able to procure ourselves any thing beyond the mere necessaries of life.
Citizen Piron and myself obtained permission to delay our departure for Batavia till the Dutch fleet was just about to sail. Our companions in misfortune, Laignel, Ventenat, and Willaumez, set off for that place; and as soon as they arrived there they were sent to Fort Tangaran, more than 7,500 toises distant from the town. Riche and Legrand, instead of procuring a passage in the packet, which was immediately to set sail, had been exiled to Fort Anké. However, about two months afterwards, they had the good fortune to embark for Isle de France, on board of a vessel in which some prisoners taken from our privateers were conveyed to that place.
Dauribeau, not satisfied with having taken away my collections, requested of the Governor of Samarang, that the manuscript which contained the observations I had made during the voyage in search of Pérouse might likewise be taken from me. In vain I protested against this violation of the most sacred species of property. Governor Overstraaten gave orders, on the 28th of July, that my effects, to which the seal had been applied a month before, should be searched; but fortunately my journal was not found.
Dauribeau shortly after his arrival at Samarang, for the purpose of treating with the Governor concerning the sale of the vessels, died there on the 22d of August.
As the time appointed or the sailing of the Dutch fleet was at hand, Citizen Piron and myself set out for Batavia on the 31st. On board of the vessel which conveyed us thither were several Javanese, one of whom was in irons. His unfortunate wife sat beside him, having voluntarily chosen to follow him in his banishment. We were penetrated with compassion, when we heard from the mouth of this unhappy man the occasion of his ruin. His name, he told us, was Piromongolo; he was of the village of Calibongou, in the dependency of the Government of Samarang. He had paid 350 rix dollars to become a freeman of that place, but was supplanted by another person, who offered a still larger sum for the same privilege; and those who had received his money, instead of returning it to him, thought fit to put him out of their way by banishing him to Ceylon, where he was to be in the same confinement with many others of the inhabitants of the Moluccas, who are sacrificed by the Dutch to their revengeful disposition, or pretended political interests. Amongst the injuries that had been heaped upon him, he had been accused, he said, of being a sorcerer. Though he assured us, with a great deal of simplicity, that if he was one, he had never known any thing about it; but at any rate he was sure that those who had robbed him of his three hundred and fifty dollars, were a much more dangerous kind of sorcerers than he.
The salary which the different Governors of the Island of Java receive from the Dutch Company very moderate; but then the abuses are connived at, which result from the very ample indemnification, which the greater part make themselves, by raising contributions upon the natives to a much greater amount than what they have to deliver into the magazines of the Company, the surplus of which they appropriate to their own profit.
The Chinese are almost the only persons employed here in the cultivation of sugar. They scarcely make any other than sugar-candy, which they, are not allowed to sell, except to the Governor, who purchases it on the Company's account; but frequently he compels these unfortunate Chinese to sell it him at half the price which he makes the Company pay for it, though even they buy it at a comparatively low rate.
The contributions which the Governors receive in specie, are likewise a great source of profit to them, as they keep this money in their own hands; and pay the amount to the Company in paper. During my stay in Java their emoluments in this way amounted to twenty per cent.
The nomination of the natives to different offices, is likewise a source from whence the Governors and Residents, derive great profits.
On the 2d of September we anchored in the roadstead of Batavia.
4th. Aster we had remained two days on board, the Commandant of the roadstead conducted us on shore, and we were immediately conveyed to Fort Anké, distant not more than about 2,500 toises from the town. The same chamber was allotted us, which our companions in misfortune, Riche and Legrand, had formerly occupied.
We were surrounded on all sides by marshes, which render this situation very unhealthy; it is, however, much less so than that of the town, where, at low water, the black mud collected in a great number of canals, is exposed to the heat of the sun, and exhales the most pestilential effluvia. The marshes of Anké, on the contrary, were covered with a variety of plants, so close to each other, that they presented the appearance of fine meadows in full vegetation. A great number of different kinds of grasses, rushes, nelumbo, &c. grew forth from the bottom of the stagnant water, and the interstices between these plants were covered with large quantities of the ptisia stratiotes, which, floating on the surface of the water by means of the small air-bladders, with which its leaves are provided at their bases, absorb a great quantity of the noxious vapours as fast as they are exhaled from the mud, and change them, with the aid of the solar rays, as we know, into respirable air. This transmutation is affected by the ptisia more than by any other plant; for it is known by experiment to be so powerful a preventive of the decomposition of stagnant water, that if fishes be put into a small quantity of water, in which they would otherwise perish in the course of a few days they may be preserved alive for a long time, by covering its surface with these singular plants, every one of which occupies a space of about nine square inches.
These marshes are haunted by the enormous serpent known by the name of boa constrictor. One of these snakes came regularly every five or six days, and stole one of the fowls from a hen-coop belonging to a publican in the neighbourhood of Fort Anké, with whom we were allowed to take our meals. This publican was a very severe master; for, whenever he missed one of his fowls he always taxed an old slave, who had the care of his hen-coop, with dishonesty; and for every one that disappeared, he ordered fifty strokes of a ratan to be inflicted without mercy upon the unfortunate wretch; but one day the thief having swallowed a very large hen, found himself so stuffed with his meal, that he could not get out of the coop by the hole through which he had entered; and the slave revenged himself for the chastisement he had received by cutting the animal in pieces. The fowl, which was taken out of his stomach, had been swallowed down head foremost, and had as yet undergone no change in its substance. This serpent was but of a middling size, being only twelve feet in length; but a few days afterwards the natives killed one at a small distance from this place, which measured forty feet. It appeared that this animal did not use to prey upon fowls; for they found in his stomach a kid that weighed thirty pounds.
The river that runs at the foot of Fort Anké is frequented by alligators. One day I saw a very large one advance towards a company of boys who were swimming in the river. He immediately seized one of them and disappeared under the water; nevertheless, a few days after another, company of boys came to bathe in the same place.
During the last months of our stay at Anké, four officers of the French privateer Le Modeste were confined in the same fortress, and alleviated the tediousness of our captivity by their company. They had been made prisoners of war on board of a Dutch vessel, shortly after they had made prize of her.
The Major of the place, who visited us very frequently, informed us of the death of Giradrin, purser to the Recherche, who was discovered to be a woman, as we had suspected from the beginning of the voyage. An impulse of curiosity seems to have been her principal motive for embarking in this expedition. She had left a very young child behind her in France.
The corvette La Nathalie, having Citizen Riche on board, had been dispatched from Isle de France to Batavia in order to demand our vessels from the Regency; but, after she had arrived in the roads, she was detained for five months under the cannon of two Dutch ships of war, and all that the could obtain was to sail back with those persons belonging to our expedition, who were in confinement, and some other French prisoners of war.
At length, on the 29th of March 1795, we set sail for the Isle de France.
It was high time for me to be released from my confinement amongst the marches of Fort Anké, as I had laboured already more than a month under a dysentery, which was making a very rapid progress. But as soon as I was removed into a purer air, my malady diminished from day to day.
On the 18th of May we arrived at Isle de France, I made frequent excursions among the mountains, where I observed a great variety of natural productions.
I had long been waiting for an opportunity of returning to my native country, when at length General Malartic dispatched the Minerva to France, under the command of Citizen Laignel, one of my companions in misfortune. I embarked in this vessel, which sailed from Isle de France on the 20th of November.
It is remarkable, that during a run of upwards of 600,000 toises west-north-west, from 25° N. lat. and 31° W. long. we found the sea covered with a prodigious quantity of fucus natans, which indicate the existence of some very extensive banks upon which this sea-weed is produced. This is a subject well worthy of the investigation of navigators.
On the 12th of March 1796, we cast anchor at the Isle of Bar, from whence I soon returned to Paris.
Soon after I arrived in that city, I was informed that my collections of natural history had been sent to England. The French Government immediately put in their claim for them, which, being supported by Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society of London, with all the exertions that were to have been expected from his known love for the sciences, I soon had the satisfaction of finding myself again in possession of the requisite materials, for making known to the world the natural productions which I had discovered in the different countries we had visited during the course of our expedition.
The bread-fruit plants which I left in the custody of the gardener Lahaie, were transported, with several others which he had cultivated, to Isle de France; from whence some have been sent to Cayenne, and others to Paris, where they are deposited in the hot-houses of the Botanical Garden.
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N.B. These tables shew the position of the vessel at noon; the variation of the needle distinguished by fr., when observed at the horizon at sun-rise; and by ss., when observed at the horizon at sun-set; and by az., when it is the result of an azimuth observation; the degree of the thermometer according to Reaumur's scale (it was a thermometer with mercury), the height of the barometer at noon; the direction of the wind and the state of the weather.
Example Page of APPENDIX 5.
T. Gillet, Printer, Salisbury-Square.
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