I kept my eyes fixed on the people all the time, and saw nothing to induce me to think otherwise. While we were with them, having enquired, by signs, for fresh water, some pointed to the east and others to the west. My friend undertook to conduct us to it, and embarked with us for that purpose. We rowed about two miles up the coast to the east, where the shore was mostly covered with mangrove-trees; and entering amongst them, by a narrow creek or river, which brought us to a little straggling village, above all the mangroves, there we landed and were shewn fresh water. The ground near this village was finely cultivated, being laid out in plantations of sugar-canes, plantains, yams, and other roots, and watered by little rills, conducted by art from the main stream, whose source was in the hills. Here were some cocoa-nut trees, which did not seem burdened with fruit. We heard the crowing of cocks, but saw none. Some roots were baking on a fire in an earthen jar, which would have held six or eight gallons; nor did we doubt its being their own manufacture. As we proceeded up the creek, Mr Forster having shot a duck flying over our heads, which was the first use these people saw made of our fire-arms, my friend begged to have it; and when he landed, told his countrymen in what manner it was killed. The day being far spent, and the tide not permitting us to stay longer in the creek, we took leave of the people and got on board a little after sun-set. From this little excursion, I found that we were to expect nothing from these people but the privilege of visiting their country undisturbed. For it was easy to see they had little else than good-nature to bestow. In this they exceeded all the nations we had yet met with; and, although it did not satisfy the demands of nature, it at once pleased and left our minds at ease.
Next morning we were visited by some hundreds of the natives; some coming in canoes, and others swimming off; so that, before ten o'clock, our decks, and all other parts of the ship, were quite full with them. My friend, who was of the number, brought me a few roots, but all the others came empty in respect to eatables. Some few had with them their arms, such as clubs and darts, which they exchanged for nails, pieces of cloth, etc. After breakfast, I sent Lieutenant Pickersgill with two armed boats to look for fresh water; for what we found the day before was by no means convenient for us to get on board. At the same time Mr Wales, accompanied by lieutenant Clerke, went to the little isle to make preparations for observing the eclipse of the sun, which was to be in the afternoon. Mr Pickersgill soon returning, informed me that he had found a stream of fresh water, pretty convenient to come at. I therefore ordered the launch to be hoisted out to complete our water, and then went to the isle to assist in the observation.
About one p.m., the eclipse came on. Clouds interposed, and we lost the first contact, but were more fortunate in the end, which was observed as follows:
By Mr Wales with Dollond's 3 1/2 foot achromatic refractor, at 3h 28' 39" 1/4 By Mr Clerke with Bird's 2 feet Appa- reflector, at 3 28 52 1/4 rent And by me with an 18 inch reflector time. made by Watkins, 3 28 53 1/4 / Latitude of the isle or place of observation, 20 deg. 17' 39" S. Longitude per distance of the sun and moon, and moon and stars, 48 sets, 164 deg. 41' 21" East. Ditto per watch 163 58 0
Mr Wales measured the quantity eclipsed by a Hadley's quadrant, a method never before thought of. I am of opinion it answers the purpose of a micrometer to a great degree of certainty, and is a great addition to the use of this most valuable instrument. After all was over, we returned on board, where I found Teabooma the chief, who soon after slipped out of the ship without my knowledge, and by that means lost the present I had made up for him.
In the evening I went ashore to the watering-place, which was at the head of a little creek, at a fine stream that came from the hills. It was necessary to have a small boat in the creek to convey the casks from and to the beach over which they were rolled, and then put into the launch; as only a small boat could enter the creek, and that only at high water. Excellent wood for fuel was here far more convenient than water, but this was an article we did not want. About seven o'clock this evening, died Simon Monk, our butcher, a man much esteemed in the ship; his death being occasioned by a fall down the fore-hatch-way the preceding night.
Early in the morning of the 7th, the watering-party, and a guard, under the command of an officer, were sent ashore; and soon after a party of us went to take a view of the country. As soon as we landed we made known our design to the natives, and two of them undertaking to be our guides, conducted us up the hills by a tolerably good path. In our route, we met several people, most or whom turned back with us; so that at last our train was numerous. Some we met who wanted us to return; but we paid no regard to their signs, nor did they seem uneasy when we proceeded. At length we reached the summit of one of the hills, from which we saw the sea in two places, between some advanced hills, on the opposite or S.W. side of the land. This was an useful discovery, as it enabled us to judge of the breadth of the land, which, in this part, did not exceed ten leagues.
Between those advanced hills, and the ridge we were upon, was a large valley, through which ran a serpentine river. On the banks of this were several plantations, and some villages, whose inhabitants we had met on the road, and found more on the top of the hill gazing at the ship, as might be supposed. The plain, or flat of land, which lies along the shore we were upon, appeared from the hills to great advantage; the winding streams which ran through out, the plantations, the little straggling villages, the variety in the woods, and the shoals on the coast, so variegating the scene, that the whole might afford a picture for romance. Indeed, if it were not for those fertile spots on the plains, and some few on the sides of the mountains, the whole country might be called a dreary waste. The mountains, and other high places, are, for the most part, incapable of cultivation, consisting chiefly of rocks, many of which are full of mundicks. The little soil that is upon them is scorched and burnt up with the sun; it is, nevertheless, coated with coarse grass and other plants, and here and there trees and shrubs. The country, in general, bore great resemblance to some parts of New Holland under the same parallel of latitude, several of its natural productions seeming to be the same, and the woods being without underwood, as in that country. The reefs on the coast and several other similarities, were obvious to every one who had seen both countries. We observed all the N.E. coast to be covered with shoals and breakers, extending to the northward, beyond the Isle of Balabea, till they were lost in the horizon. Having made these observations, and our guides not chusing to go farther, we descended the mountains by a road different from that by which we ascended. This brought us down through some of their plantations in the plains, which I observed were laid out with great judgment, and cultivated with much labour. Some of them were lying in fallow, some seemingly lately laid down, and others of longer date, pieces of which they were again beginning to dig up. The first thing I observed they did, was to set fire to the grass, etc. which had over-run the surface. Recruiting the land by letting it lie some years untouched, is observed by all the nations in this sea; but they seem to have no notion of manuring it, at least I have no where seen it done. Our excursion was finished by noon, when we returned on board to dinner; and one of our guides having left us, we brought the other with us, whose fidelity was rewarded at a small expence.
In the afternoon I made a little excursion along-shore to the westward, in company with Mr Wales. Besides making observations on such things as we met, we got the names of several places, which I then thought were islands; but upon farther enquiry, I found they were districts upon the same land. This afternoon a fish being struck by one of the natives near the watering-place, my clerk purchased it, and sent it to me after my return on board.
It was of a new species, something like a sun-fish, with a large long ugly head. Having no suspicion of its being of a poisonous nature, we ordered it to be dressed for supper; but, very luckily, the operation of drawing and describing took up so much time, that it was too late, so that only the liver and row were dressed, of which the two Mr Forsters and myself did but taste. About three o'clock in the morning, we found ourselves seized with an extraordinary weakness and numbness all over our limbs. I had almost lost the sense of feeling; nor could I distinguish between light and heavy bodies, of such as I had strength to move; a quart-pot, full of water, and a feather, being the same in my hand. We each of us took an emetic, and after that a sweat, which gave us much relief. In the morning, one of the pigs, which had eaten the entrails, was found dead. When the natives came on board and saw the fish hanging up, they immediately gave us to understand it was not wholesome food, and expressed the utmost abhorrence of it; though no one was observed to do this when the fish was to be sold, or even after it was purchased.
On the 8th, the guard and a party of men were on shore as usual. In the afternoon, I received a message from the officer, acquainting me that Teabooma the chief was come with a present consisting of a few yams and sugar-canes. In return, I sent him, amongst other articles, a dog and a bitch, both young, but nearly full grown. The dog was red and white, but the bitch was all red, or the colour of an English fox. I mention this, because they may prove the Adam and Eve of their species in that country. When the officer returned on board in the evening, he informed me that the chief came, attended by about twenty men, so that it looked like a visit of ceremony. It was some time before he would believe the dog and bitch were intended for him; but as soon as he was convinced, he seemed lost in an excess of joy, and sent them away immediately.
Next morning early, I dispatched Lieutenant Pickersgill and Mr Gilbert with the launch and cutter to explore the coast to the west; judging this would be better effected in the boats than in the ship, as the reef would force the latter several leagues from land. After breakfast, a party of men was sent on shore, to make brooms; but myself and the two Mr Forsters were confined on board, though much better, a good sweat having had an happy effect. In the afternoon a man was seen, both ashore and alongside the ship, said to be as white as an European. From the account I had of him (for I did not see him,) his whiteness did not proceed from hereditary descent, but from chance or some disease; and such have been seen at Otaheite and the Society Isles. A fresh easterly wind, and the ship lying a mile from the shore, did not hinder those good-natured people from swimming off to us in shoals of twenty or thirty, and returning the same way.
[* Wafers met with Indians in the Isthmus of Darien of the colour of a white horse. See his 'Description of the Isthmus', page 134. See also Mr de Paw's Philosophical Enquiries concerning Americans, where several other instances of this remarkable whiteness are mentioned, and the causes of it attempted to be explained.]
On the 10th, a party was on shore as usual; and Mr Forster so well recovered as to go out botanizing.
In the evening of the 11th, the boats returned, when I was informed of the following circumstances. From an elevation which they reached the morning they set out, they had a view of the coast. Mr Gilbert was of opinion that they saw the termination of it to the west, but Mr Pickersgill thought not; though both agreed that there was no passage for the ship that way. From this place, accompanied by two of the natives, they went to Balabea, which they did not reach till after sun-set, and left again next morning before sun-rise; consequently this was a fruitless expedition, and the two following days were spent in getting up to the ship. As they went down to the isle, they saw abundance of turtle; but the violence of the wind and sea made it impossible to strike any. The cutter was near being lost, by suddenly filling with water, which obliged them to throw several things overboard, before they could free her, and stop the leak she had sprung. From a fishing canoe, which they met coming in from the reefs, they got as much fish as they could eat; and they were received by Teabi, the chief of the isle of Balabea, and the people, who came in numbers to see them, with great courtesy. In order not to be too much crowded, our people drew a line on the ground, and gave the others to understand they were not to come within it. This restriction they observed, and one of them, soon after, turned to his own advantage. For happening to have a few cocoa-nuts, which one of our people wanted to buy, and he was unwilling to part with, he walked off, and was followed by the man who wanted them. On seeing this, he sat down on the sand, made a circle round him, as he had seen our people do, and signified that the other was not to come within it; which was accordingly observed. As this story was well attested, I thought it not unworthy of a place in this journal.
Early in the morning of the 12th, I ordered the carpenter to work, to repair the cutter, and the water to be re-placed, which we had expended the three preceding days. As Tea Booma the chief had not been seen since he got the dogs, and I wanted to lay a foundation for stocking the country with hogs also, I took a young boar and a sow with me in the boat, and went up to the mangrove creek to look for my friend, in order to give them to him.
But when we arrived there, we were told that he lived at some distance, and that they would send for him. Whether they did or no I cannot say; but he not coming, I resolved to give them to the first man of note I met with. The guide we had to the hills happening to be there, I made him understand that I intended to leave the two pigs on shore, and ordered them out of the boat for that purpose. I offered them to a grave old man, thinking he was a proper person to entrust them with; but he shook his head, and he and all present, made signs to take them into the boat again. When they saw I did not comply, they seemed to consult with one another what was to be done; and then our guide told me to carry them to the Alekee (chief). Accordingly I ordered them to be taken up, and we were conducted by him to a house, wherein were seated, in a circle, eight or ten middle-aged persons. To them I and my pigs being introduced, with great courtesy they desired me to sit down; and then I began to expatiate on the merits of the two pigs, explaining to them how many young ones the female would have at one time, and how soon these would multiply to some hundreds. My only motive was to enhance their value, that they might take the more care of them; and I had reason to think I in some measure succeeded. In the mean time, two men having left the company, soon returned with six yams, which were presented to me; and then I took my leave and went on board.
I have already observed, that here was a little village; I now found it much larger than I expected; and about it, a good deal of cultivated land, regularly laid out, planted and planting with taro or eddy root, yams, sugar-canes, and plantains. The taro plantations were prettily watered by little rills, continually supplied from the main channel at the foot of the mountains, from whence these streams were conducted in artful meanders. They have two methods of planting these roots, some are in square or oblong patches, which lie perfectly horizontal, and sink below the common level of the adjacent land, so that they can let in on them as much water as they think necessary. I have generally seen them covered two or three inches deep; but I do not know that this is always necessary. Others are planted in ridges about three or four feet broad, and two, or two and a half high. On the middle or top of the ridge, is a narrow gutter, in and along which is conveyed, as above described, a little rill that waters the roots, planted in the ridge on each side of it; and these plantations are so judiciously laid out, that the same stream waters several ridges. These ridges are sometimes the divisions to the horizontal plantations; and when this method is used, which is for the most part observed where a pathway, or something of that sort, is requisite, not an inch of ground is lost. Perhaps there may be some difference in the roots, which may make these two methods of raising them necessary. Some are better tasted than others, and they are not all of a colour; but be this as it may, they are very wholesome food, and the tops make good greens, and are eaten as such by the natives. On these plantations men, women, and children were employed.
In the afternoon I went on shore, and, on a large tree, which stood close to the shore, near the watering-place, had an inscription cut, setting forth the ship's name, date, etc. as a testimony of our being the first discoverers of this country, as I had done at all others, at which we had touched, where this ceremony was necessary. This being done, we took leave of our friends, and returned on board; when I ordered all the boats to be hoisted in, in order to be ready to put to sea in the morning.
A Description of the Country and its Inhabitants; their Manners, Customs, and Arts.
I shall conclude our transactions at this place with some account of the country and its inhabitants. They are a strong, robust, active, well-made people, courteous and friendly, and not in the least addicted to pilfering, which is more than can be said of any other nation in this sea. They are nearly of the same colour as the natives of Tanna, but have better features, more agreeable countenances, and are a much stouter race; a few being seen who measured six feet four inches. I observed some who had thick lips, flat noses, and full cheeks, and, in some degree, the features and look of a negro. Two things contributed to the forming of such an idea; first, their rough mop heads, and, secondly, their besmearing their faces with black pigment. Their hair and beards are, in general, black. The former is very much frizzled, so that, at first sight, it appears like that of a negro. It is, nevertheless, very different, though both coarser and stronger than ours. Some, who wear it long, tie it up on the crown of the head; others suffer only a large lock to grow on each side, which they tie up in clubs; many others, as well as all the women, wear it cropped short. These rough heads, most probably, want frequent scratching; for which purpose they have a most excellent instrument. This is a kind of comb made of sticks of hard wood, from seven to nine or ten inches long, and about the thickness of knitting-needles. A number of these, seldom exceeding twenty, but generally fewer, is fastened together at one end, parallel to, and near one-tenth of an inch from each other. The other ends, which are a little pointed, will spread out or open like the sticks of a fan, by which means they can beat up the quarters of an hundred lice at a time. These combs or scratchers, for I believe they serve both purposes, they always wear in their hair, on one side their head. The people of Tanna have an instrument of this kind for the same use; but theirs is forked, I think, never exceeding three or four prongs; and sometimes only a small pointed stick. Their beards, which are of the same crisp nature as their hair, are, for the most part, worn short. Swelled and ulcerated legs and feet are common among the men; as also a swelling of the scrotum. I know not whether this is occasioned by disease, or by the mode of applying the wrapper before-mentioned, and which they use as at Tanna and Mallicollo. This is their only covering, and is made generally of the bark of a tree, but sometimes of leaves. The small pieces of cloth, paper, etc. which they got from us, were commonly applied to this use. We saw coarse garments amongst them, made of a sort of matting, but they seemed never to wear them, except when out in their canoes and unemployed. Some had a kind of concave, cylindrical, stiff black cap, which appeared to be a great ornament among them, and, we thought, was only worn by men of note or warriors. A large sheet of strong paper, when they got one from us, was generally applied to this use.
The women's dress is a short petticoat, made of the filaments of the plantain-tree, laid over a cord, to which they are fastened, and tied round the waist. The petticoat is made at least six or eight inches thick, but not one inch longer than necessary for the use designed. The outer filaments are dyed black; and, as an additional ornament, the most of them have a few pearl oyster-shells fixed on the right side. The general ornaments of both sexes are ear-rings of tortoise-shell, necklaces or amulets, made both of shells and stones, and bracelets, made of large shells, which they wear above the elbow. They have punctures, or marks on the skin, on several parts of the body; but none, I think, are black, as at the Eastern Islands. I know not if they have any other design than ornament; and the people of Tanna are marked much in the same manner.
Were I to judge of the origin of this nation, I should take them to be a race between the people of Tanna and of the Friendly Isles, or between those of Tanna and the New Zealanders, or all three; their language, in some respects, being a mixture of them all. In their disposition they are like the natives of the Friendly Isles; but in affability and honesty they excel them.
Notwithstanding their pacific inclination they must sometimes have wars, as they are well provided with offensive weapons, such as clubs, spears, darts, and slings for throwing stones. The clubs are about two feet and a half long, and variously formed; some like a scythe, others like a pick-axe; some have a head like an hawk, and others have round heads, but all are neatly made. Many of their darts and spears are no less neat, and ornamented with carvings. The slings are as simple as possible; but they take some pains to form the stones that they use into a proper shape, which is something like an egg, supposing both ends to be like the small one. They use a becket, in the same manner as at Tanna, in throwing the dart, which, I believe, is much used in striking fish, etc. In this they seem very dexterous; nor, indeed, do I know that they have any other method of catching large fish, for I neither saw hooks nor lines among them.
It is needless to mention their working-tools, as they are made of the same materials, and nearly in the same manner, as at the other islands. Their axes, indeed, are a little different; some, at least, which may be owing to fancy as much as custom.
Their houses, or at least most of them, are circular, something like a bee-hive, and full as close and warm. The entrance is by a small door, or long square hole, just big enough to admit a man bent double. The side-walls are about four feet and a half high, but the roof is lofty, and peaked to a point at the top; above which is a post, or stick of wood, which is generally ornamented either with carving or shells, or both. The framing is of small spars, reeds, etc. and both sides and roof are thick and close covered with thatch, made of coarse long grass. In the inside of the house are set up posts, to which cross spars are fastened, and platforms made, for the conveniency of laying any thing on. Some houses have two floors, one above the other. The floor is laid with dry grass, and here and there mats are spread, for the principal people to sleep or sit on. In most of them we found two fire-places, and commonly a fire burning; and, as there was no vent for the smoke but by the door, the whole house was both smoky and hot, insomuch that we, who were not used to such an atmosphere, could hardly endure it a moment. This may be the reason why we found these people so chilly when in the open air, and without exercise. We frequently saw them make little fires any where, and hustle round them, with no other view than to warm themselves. Smoke within doors may be a necessary evil, as it prevents the musquitoes from coming in, which are pretty numerous here. In some respects their habitations are neat; for, besides the ornaments at top, I saw some with carved door-posts. Upon the whole, their houses are better calculated for a cold than a hot climate; and as there are no partitions in them, they can have little privacy.
They have no great variety of household utensils; the earthen jars before mentioned being the only article worth notice. Each family has at least one of them, in which they bake their roots, and perhaps their fish, etc. The fire, by which they cook their victuals, is on the outside of each house, in the open air. There are three or five pointed stones fixed in the ground, their pointed ends being about six inches above the surface. Those of three stones are only for one jar, those of five stones for two. The jars do not stand on their bottoms, but lie inclined on their sides. The use of these stones is obviously to keep the jars from resting on the fire, in order that it may burn the better.
They subsist chiefly on roots and fish, and the bark of a tree, which I am told grows also in the West Indies. This they roast, and are almost continually chewing. It has a sweetish, insipid taste, and was liked by some of our people. Water is their only liquor, at least I never saw any other made use of.
Plantains and sugar-canes are by no means in plenty. Bread-fruit is very scarce, and the cocoa-nut trees are small and but thinly planted; and neither one nor the other seems to yield much fruit.
To judge merely by the numbers of the natives we saw every day, one might think the island very populous; but I believe that, at this time, the inhabitants were collected from all parts on our account. Mr Pickersgill observed, that down the coast, to the west, there were but few people; and we knew they came daily from the other side of the land, over the mountains, to visit us. But although the inhabitants, upon the whole, may not be numerous, the island is not thinly peopled on the sea-coast, and in the plains and valleys that are capable of cultivation. It seems to be a country unable to support many inhabitants. Nature has been less bountiful to it than to any other tropical island we know in this sea. The greatest part of its surface, or at least what we saw of it, consists of barren rocky mountains; and the grass, etc. growing on them, is useless to people who have no cattle.
The sterility of the country will apologise for the natives not contributing to the wants of the navigator. The sea may, perhaps, in some measure, compensate for the deficiency of the land; for a coast surrounded by reefs and shoals, as this is, cannot fail of being stored with fish.
I have before observed, that the country bears great resemblance to New South Wales, or New Holland, and that some of its natural productions are the same. In particular, we found here, the tree which is covered with a soft white ragged bark, easily peeled off, and is, as I have been told, the same that, in the East Indies, is used for caulking of ships. The wood is very hard, the leaves are long and narrow, of a pale dead green, and a fine aromatic; so that it may properly be said to belong to that continent. Nevertheless, here are several plants, etc. common to the eastern and northern islands, and even a species of the passionflower, which, I am told, has never before been known to grow wild any where but in America. Our botanists did not complain for want of employment at this place; every day bringing something new in botany or other branches of natural history. Land-birds, indeed, are not numerous, but several are new. One of these is a kind of crow, at least so we called it, though it is not half so big, and its feathers are tinged with blue. They also have some very beautiful turtle-doves, and other small birds, such as I never saw before.
All our endeavours to get the name of the whole island proved ineffectual. Probably it is too large for them to know by one name. Whenever we made this enquiry, they always gave us the name of some district or place, which we pointed to; and, as before observed, I got the names of several, with the name of the king or chief of each. Hence I conclude, that the country is divided into several districts, each governed by a chief; but we know nothing of the extent of his power. Balade was the name of the district we were at, and Tea Booma the chief. He lived on the other side of the ridge of hills, so that we had but little of his company, and therefore could not see much of his power. Tea seems a title prefixed to the names of all, or most, of their chiefs or great men. My friend honoured me by calling me Tea Cook.
They deposit their dead in the ground. I saw none of their burying-places, but several of the gentlemen did. In one, they were informed, lay the remains of a chief who was slain in battle; and his grave, which bore some resemblance to a large mole-hill, was decorated with spears, darts, paddles, etc. all stuck upright in the ground round about it. The canoes, which these people use, are somewhat like those of the Friendly Isles; but the most heavy clumsy vessels I ever saw. They are what I call double canoes, made out of two large trees, hollowed out, having a raised gunnel, about two inches high, and closed at each end with a kind of bulk-head of the same height; so that the whole is like a long square trough, about three feet shorter than the body of the canoe; that is, a foot and a half at each end. Two canoes, thus fitted, are secured to each other, about three feet asunder, by means of cross spars, which project about a foot over each side. Over these spars is laid a deck, or very heavy platform, made of plank, and small round spars, on which they have a fire-hearth, and generally a fire burning; and they carry a pot or jar to dress their victuals in. The space between the two canoes is laid with plank, and the rest with spars. On one side of the deck, and close to the edge, is fixed a row of knees, pretty near to each other, the use of which is to keep the masts, yards, etc. from, rolling over-board. They are navigated by one or two lateen-sails, extended to a small lateen-yard, the end of which fixes in a notch or hole in the deck. The foot of the sail is extended to a small boom. The sail is composed of pieces of matting, the ropes are made of the coarse filaments of the plantain-tree, twisted into cords of the thickness of a finger; and three or four more such cords, marled together, serve them for shrouds, etc. I thought they sailed very well; but they are not at all calculated for rowing or paddling. Their method of proceeding, when they cannot sail, is by sculling, and for this purpose there are holes in the boarded deck or platform. Through these they put the sculls, which are of such a length, that, when the blade is in the water, the loom or handle is four or five feet above the deck. The man who works it stands behind, and with both his hands sculls the vessel forward. This method of proceeding is very slow; and for this reason, the canoes are but ill calculated for fishing, especially for striking of turtle, which, I think, can hardly ever be done in them. Their fishing implements, such as I have seen, are turtle-nets, made, I believe, of the filaments of the plantain-tree twisted; and small hand-nets, with very minute meshes made of fine twine and fish-gigs. Their general method of fishing, I guess, is to lie on the reefs in shoal water, and to strike the fish that may come in their way. They may, however, have other methods, which we had no opportunity to see, as no boat went out while we were here; all their time and attention being taken up with us. Their canoes are about thirty feet long, and the deck or platform about twenty-four in length, and ten in breadth. We had not, at this time, seen any timber in the country so large as that of which their canoes were made. It was observed that the holes, made in the several parts, in order to sew them together, were burnt through, but with what instrument we never learnt. Most probably it was of stone, which may be the reason why they were so fond of large spikes, seeing at once they would answer this purpose. I was convinced they were not wholly designed for edge-tools, because every one shewed a desire for the iron belaying-pins which were fixed in the quarter-deck rail, and seemed to value them far more than a spike-nail, although it might be twice as big. These pins, which are round, perhaps have the very shape of the tool they wanted to make of the nails. I did not find that a hatchet was quite so valuable as a large spike. Small nails were of little or no value; and beads, looking-glasses, etc. they did not admire.
The women of this country, and likewise those of Tanna, are, so far as I could judge, far more chaste than those of the more eastern islands. I never heard that one of our people obtained the least favour from any one of them. I have been told that the ladies here would frequently divert themselves by going a little aside with our gentlemen, as if they meant to be kind to them, and then would run away laughing at them. Whether this was chastity or coquetry, I shall not pretend to determine; nor is it material, since the consequences were the same.
Proceedings on the Coast of New Caledonia, with Geographical and Nautical Observations.
Everything being in readiness to put to sea, at sun-rise, on the 13th of September, we weighed, and with a fine gale at E. by S., stood out for the same channel we came in by. At half past seven we were in the middle of it. Observatory Isle bore S. 5 deg. E., distant four miles, and the isle of Balabea W.N.W. As soon as we were clear of the reef, we hauled the wind to the starboard tack, with a view of plying in to the S.E.; but as Mr Gilbert was of opinion that he had seen the end, or N.W. extremity of the land, and that it would be easier to get round by the N.W., I gave over plying, and bore up along the outside of the reef, steering N.N.W., N.W., and N.W. by W., as it trended. At noon the island of Balabea bore S. by W., distant thirteen miles; and what we judged to be the west end of the great land, bore S.W. 1/2 S., and the direction of the reef was N.W. by W., latitude observed 19 deg. 53' 20". Longitude from Observatory Isle 14' W. We continued to steer N.W. by W. along the outside of the reef till three o'clock, at which time the isle of Balabea bore S. by E. 1/2 E. In this direction we observed a partition in the reef, which we judged to be a channel, by the strong tide which set out of it. From this place the reef inclined to the north for three or four leagues, and then to the N.W. We followed its direction, and as we advanced to N.W., raised more land, which seemed to be connected with what we had seen before; so that Mr Gilbert was mistaken, and did not see the extremity of the coast. At five o'clock this land bore W. by N. 1/2 N., distant twenty miles; but what we could see of the reef trended in the direction of N.W. by N.
Having hauled the wind to the starboard tack, and spent the night plying, on the 14th, at sun-rise, the island of Balabea bore S. 6 E., and the land seen the preceding night W., but the reef still trended N.W., along which we steered with a light breeze at E.S.E. At noon we observed in latitude 19 deg. 28', longitude from Observatory Isle 27' W. We had now no sight of Balabea; and the other land, that is, the N.W. part of it, bore W. by S. 1/2 S., but we were not sure if this was one continued coast, or separate islands. For though some partitions were seen, from space to space, which made it look like the latter, a multitude of shoals rendered a nearer approach to it exceedingly dangerous, if not impracticable. In the afternoon, with a fine breeze at E.S.E., we ranged the outside of these shoals, which we found to trend in the direction of N.W. by W., N.W. by N., and N.N.E. At three o'clock we passed a low sandy isle, lying on the outer edge of the reef, in latitude 19 deg. 25', and in the direction of N.E. from the north-westernmost land, six or seven leagues distant. So much as we could see of this space was strewed with shoals, seemingly detached from each other; and the channel leading in amongst them appeared to be on the S.E. side of the sandy isle; at least, there was a space where the sea did not break. At sun-set we could but just see the land, which bore S.W. by S., about ten leagues distant. A clear horizon produced the discovery of no land to the westward of this direction; the reef too trended away W. by N. 1/2 N., and seemed to terminate in a point which was seen from the mast-head. Thus every thing conspired to make us believe that we should soon get round these shoals; and with these flattering expectations we hauled the wind, which was at E.N.E., and spent the night making short boards.
Next morning at sun-rise, seeing neither land nor breakers, we bore away N.W. by W., and two hours after saw the reef extending N.W. farther than the eye could reach; no land was to be seen. It was therefore probable that we had passed its N.W. extremity; and, as we had seen from the hills of Balade its extent to the S.W., it was necessary to know how far it extended to the east or southeast, while it was in our power to recover the coast; for, by following the direction of the shoals, we might have been carried so far to leeward as not to be able to beat back without considerable loss of time. We were already far out of sight of land; and there was no knowing how much farther we might be carried, before we found an end to them. These considerations, together with the risk we must run in exploring a sea strewed with shoals, and where no anchorage, without them, is to be found, induced me to abandon the design of proceeding round by the N.W., and to ply up to the S.E., in which direction I knew there was a clear sea. With this view we tacked and stood to the S.E., with the wind at N.E. by E., a gentle breeze. At this time we were in the latitude of 19 deg. 7' S., longitude 163 deg. 57' E.
In standing to the S.E. we did but just weather the point of the reef we had passed the preceding evening. To make our situation the more dangerous the wind began to fail us; and at three in the afternoon it fell calm, and left us to the mercy of a great swell, setting directly on the reef, which was hardly a league from us. We sounded, but found no bottom with a line of two hundred fathoms. I ordered the pinnace and cutter to be hoisted out to tow the ship, but they were of little use against so great a swell. We, however, found that the ship did not draw near the reef so fast as might be expected; and at seven o'clock a light air at N.N.E. kept her head to the sea, but it lasted no longer than midnight, when it was succeeded by a dead calm.
At day-break on the 16th we had no sight of the reef; and at eleven, a breeze springing up at S.S.W., we hoisted in the boats, and made sail to S.E. At noon we observed in 19 deg. 35' S., which was considerably more to the south than we expected, and shewed that a current or tide had been in our favour all night, and accounted for our getting so unexpectedly clear of the shoals. At two o'clock p.m. we had again a calm which lasted till nine, when it was succeeded by a light air from E.N.E. and E., with which we advanced but slowly.
On the 17th at noon, we observed in latitude 19 deg. 54', when the isle of Balabea bore S. 68 deg. W., ten and a half leagues distant. We continued to ply, with variable light winds, between N.E. and S.E., without meeting with any thing remarkable till the 20th at noon, when Cape Colnett bore N. 78 deg. W., distant six leagues. From this cape the land extended round by the south to E.S.E. till it was lost in the horizon, and the country appeared with many hills and vallies. Latitude observed 20 deg. 41', longitude made from Observatory Isle 1 deg. 8' E. We stood in shore with a light breeze at east till sun-set, when we were between two and three leagues off. The coast extended from S. 42 deg. 1/2 E. to N. 59 deg. W. Two small islets lay without this last direction, distant from us four or five miles; some others lay between us and the shore, and to the east, where they seemed to be connected by reefs, in which appeared some openings from space to space. The country was mountainous, and had much the same aspect as about Balade. On one of the western small isles was an elevation like a tower; and over a low neck of land within the isle were seen many other elevations, resembling the masts of a fleet of ships.
Next day at sun-rise, after having stood off all night with a light breeze at S.E., we found ourselves about six leagues from the coast; and in this situation we were kept by a calm till ten in the evening, when we got a faint land-breeze at S.W., with which we steered S.E. all night.,
On the 22d at sun-rise the land was clouded, but it was not long before the clouds went off, and we found, by our land-marks, that we had made a good advance. At ten o'clock, the land-breeze being succeeded by a sea-breeze at E. by S., this enabled us to stand in for the land, which at noon extended from N. 78 deg. W. to S. 31 deg. 1/2 E., round by the S. In this last direction the coast seemed to trend more to the south in a lofty promontory, which, on account of the day, received the name of Cape Coronation. Latitude 22 deg. 2', longitude 167 deg. 7' 1/2 E. Some breakers lay between us and the shore, and probably they were connected with those we had seen before.
During the night, we had advanced about two leagues to the S.E.; and at day-break on the 23d an elevated point appeared in sight beyond Cape Coronation, bearing S. 23 deg. E. It proved to be the south-east extremity of the coast, and obtained the name of Queen Charlotte's Foreland. Latitude 22 deg. 16' S., longitude 167 deg. 14' E. About noon, having got a breeze from the N.E., we stood to S.S.E., and as we drew towards Cape Coronation, saw in a valley to the south of it, a vast number of those elevated objects before-mentioned; and some low land under the foreland was wholly covered with them. We could not agree in our opinions of what they were. I supposed them to be a singular sort of trees, being too numerous to resemble any thing else; and a great deal of smoke kept rising all the day from amongst those near the cape. Our philosophers were of opinion that this was the smoke of some internal and perpetual fire. My representing to them that there was no smoke here in the morning would have been of no avail, had not this eternal fire gone out before night, and no more smoke been seen after. They were still more positive that the elevations were pillars of basaltes, like those which compose the Giant's Causeway in Ireland. At sun-set, the wind veering round to the south, we tacked and stood off, it not being safe to approach the shore in the dark. At day-break we stood in again, with a faint land-breeze between E.S.E. and S.S.E. At noon observed, in latitude 21 deg. 59' 30", Cape Coronation being west southerly, distant seven leagues, and the foreland S. 38 deg. W. As we advanced S.S.W. the coast beyond the foreland began to appear in sight; and at sun-set we discovered a low island lying S.S.E, about seven miles from the foreland. It was one of those which are generally surrounded with shoals and breakers. At the same time a round hill was seen bearing S. 24 deg. E, twelve leagues distant. During night, having had variable light winds, we advanced but little either way.
On the 25th, about ten o'clock a.m., having got a fair breeze at E.S.E., we stood to the S.S.W., in hopes of getting round the foreland; but, as we drew near, we perceived more low isles, beyond the one already mentioned, which at last appeared to be connected by breakers, extending towards the foreland, and seeming to join the shore. We stood on till half past three o'clock, when we saw, from the deck, rocks, just peeping above the surface of the sea, on the shoal above-mentioned. It was now time to alter the course, as the day was too far spent to look for a passage near the shore, and we could find no bottom to anchor in during the night. We therefore stood to the south to look for a passage without the small isles. We had a fine breeze at E.S.E., but it lasted no longer than five o'clock, when it fell to a dead calm. Having sounded, a line of 170 fathoms did not reach the bottom, though we were but a little way from the shoals, which, instead of following the coast to S.W., took a S.E. direction towards the hill we had seen the preceding evening, and seemed to point out to us that it was necessary to go round that land. At this time the most advanced point on the main bore S. 68 deg. W., distant nine or ten leagues. About seven o'clock we got a light breeze at north, which enabled us to steer out E.S.E., and to spend the night with less anxiety. On some of the low isles were many of those elevations already mentioned. Every one was now satisfied they were trees, except our philosophers, who still maintained that they were basaltes.
About day-break on the 26th, the wind having shifted to S.S.W., we stretched to S.E. for the hill before mentioned. It belonged to an island which at noon extended from S. 16 deg. E. to S. 7 deg. W., distant six leagues. Latitude observed 22 deg. 16' S. In the p.m. the wind freshened, and veering to S.S.E., we stretched to the east, till two a.m., on the 27th, when we tacked and stood to S.W., with hopes of weathering the island; but we fell about two miles short of our expectations, and had to tack about a mile from the east side of the island, the extremes bearing from N.W. by N. to S.W., the hill W., and some low isles, lying off the S.E. point, S. by W. These seemed to be connected with the large island by breakers. We sounded when in stays, but had no ground with a line of eighty fathoms. The skirts of this island were covered with the elevations more than once mentioned. They had much the appearance of tall pines, which occasioned my giving that name to the island. The round hill, which is on the S.W. side, is of such a height as to be seen fourteen or sixteen leagues. The island is about a mile in circuit, and situated in latitude 22 deg. 38' S., longitude 167 deg. 40' E. Having made two attempts to weather the Isle of Pines before sun-set, with no better success, than before, this determined me to stretch off till midnight. This day at noon the thermometer was at 68 deg. 3/4 which is lower than it had been since the 27th of February.
Having tacked at midnight, assisted by the currents and a fresh gale at E. S.E. and S.E., next morning at day-break we found ourselves several leagues to windward of the Isle of Pines, and bore away large, round the S.E. and S. sides. The coast from the S.E., round by the S. to the W., was strewed with sand-banks, breakers, and small low isles, most of which were covered with the same lofty trees that ornamented the borders of the greater one. We continued to range the outside of these small isles and breakers, at three-fourths of a league distance, and as we passed one, raised another, so that they seemed to form a chain extending to the isles which lie off the foreland. At noon we observed, in latitude 22 deg. 44' 36" S. the Isle of Pines extending from N by E 1/2 E. to E. by N.; and Cape Coronation N. 32 deg. 30' W distant seventeen leagues. In the afternoon, with a fine gale at east, we steered N.W. by W., along the outside of the shoals, with a view of falling in with the land a little to S.W. of the foreland. At two o'clock p.m. two low islets were seen bearing W. by S., and as they were connected by breakers, which seemed to join those on our starboard, this discovery made it necessary to haul off S.W., in order to get clear of them all. At three, more breakers appeared, extending from the low isles towards the S.E. We now hauled out close to the wind, and, in an hour and a half, were almost on board the breakers, and obliged to tack. From the mast-head they were seen to extend as far as E.S.E., and the smoothness of the sea made it probable that they extended to the north of east, and that we were in a manner surrounded by them. At this time the hill on the Isle of Pines bore N. 71 1/2 E., the foreland N. 1/4 W., and the most advanced point of land on the S.W. coast bore N.W., distant fifteen or sixteen leagues. This direction of the S.W. coast, which was rather within the parallel of the N.E., assured us that this land extended no farther to the S.W. After making a short trip to N.N.E., we stood again to the south, in expectation of having a better view of the shoals before sun-set. We gained nothing by this but the prospect of a sea strewed with shoals, which we could not clear but by returning in the track by which we came. We tacked nearly in the same place where we had tacked before, and on sounding found a bottom of fine sand. But anchoring in a strong gale, with a chain of breakers to leeward, being the last resource, I rather chose to spend the night in making short boards over that space we had, in some measure, made ourselves acquainted with in the day: And thus it was spent, but under the terrible apprehension, every moment, of falling on some of the many dangers which surrounded us.
Day-light shewed that our fears were not ill-founded, and that we had been in the most imminent danger; having had breakers continually under our lee, and at a very little distance from us. We owed our safety to the interposition of Providence, a good look-out, and the very brisk manner in which the ship was managed; for, as we were standing to the north, the people on the lee-gangway and forecastle saw breakers under the lee-bow, which we escaped by quickly tacking the ship.
I was now almost tired of a coast which I could no longer explore, but at the risk of losing the ship, and ruining the whole voyage. I was, however, determined not to leave it, till I knew what trees those were which had been the subject of our speculation; especially as they appeared to be of a sort useful to shipping, and had not been seen any where but in the southern part of this land. With this view, after making a trip to the south, to weather the shoals under our lee, we stood to the north, in hopes of finding anchorage under some of the islets on which these trees grow. We were stopped by eight o'clock by the shoals which lie extended between the Isle of Pines and Queen Charlotte's Foreland; and found soundings off them in fifty-five, forty, and thirty-six fathoms, a fine sandy bottom. The nearer we came to these shoals, the more we saw of them, and we were not able to say if there was any passage between the two lands.
Being now but a few miles to windward of the low isles lying off the Foreland, mentioned on the 25th and 26th, I bore down to the one next to us. As we drew near it, I perceived that it was unconnected with the neighbouring shoals, and that it is probable we might get to an anchor under its lee or west side. We therefore stood on, being conducted by an officer at the mast-head; and after hauling round the point of the reef which surrounds the isle, we attempted to ply to windward, in order to get nearer the shore. Another reef to the north confined us to a narrow channel, through which ran a current against us, that rendered this attempt fruitless; so that we were obliged to anchor in thirty-nine fathoms water, the bottom fine coral sand; the isle bearing W. by N. one mile distant. As soon as this was done, we hoisted out a boat, in which I went on ashore, accompanied by the botanists. We found the tall trees to be a kind of spruce pine, very proper for spars, of which we were in want. After making this discovery, I hastened on board in order to have more time after dinner, when I landed again with two boats, accompanied by several of the officers and gentlemen, having with us the carpenter and some of his crew, to cut down such trees as were wanting. While this was doing I took the bearings of several lands round. The hill on the Isle of Pines bore S. 59 30' E; the low point of Queen Charlotte's Foreland N. 14 deg. 30' W.; the high land over it, seen over two low isles, N. 20 deg. W.; and the most advanced point of land to the west, bore west, half a point south, distant six or seven leagues. We had, from several bearings, ascertained the true direction of the coast from the foreland to this point, which I shall distinguish by the name of Prince of Wales's Foreland. It is situated in the latitude of 22 deg. 29' S., longitude 166 deg. 57' E., is of considerable height, and, when it first appears above the horizon, looks like an island. From this cape, the coast trended nearly N.W. This was rather too northerly a direction to join that part which we saw from the hills of Balade. But as it was very high land which opened off the cape in that direction, it is very probable that lower land, which we could not see, opened sooner; or else the coast more to the N.W. takes a more westerly direction, in the same manner as the N.E. coast. Be this as it may, we pretty well know the extent of the land, by having it confined within certain limits. However, I still entertained hopes of seeing more of it, but was disappointed.
The little isle upon which we landed, is a mere sandbank, not exceeding three-fourths of a mile in circuit, and on it, besides these pines, grew the Etoa-tree of Otaheite, and a variety of other trees, shrubs, and plants. These gave sufficient employment to our botanists, all the time we stayed upon it, and occasioned my calling it Botany Isle. On it were several water-snakes, some pigeons, and doves, seemingly different from any we had seen. One of the officers shot a hawk, which proved to be of the very same sort as our English fishing-hawks. Several fire-places, branches, and leaves very little decayed, remains of turtle, etc. shewed that people had lately been on the isle. The hull of a canoe, precisely of the same shape as those we had seen at Balade, lay wrecked in the sand. We were now no longer at a loss to know of what trees they make their canoes, as they can be no other than these pines. On this little isle were some which measured twenty inches diameter, and between sixty and seventy feet in length, and would have done very well for a foremast to the Resolution, had one been wanting. Since trees of this size are to be found on so small a spot, it is reasonable to expect to find some much larger on the main, and larger isles; and, if appearances did not deceive us, we can assert it.
If I except New Zealand, I, at this time, knew of no island in the South Pacific Ocean, where a ship could supply herself with a mast or yard, were she ever so much distressed for want of one. Thus far the discovery is or may be valuable. My carpenter, who was a mast-maker as well as a shipwright, two trades he learnt in Deptford-yard, was of opinion that these trees would make exceedingly good masts. The wood is white, close-grained, tough, and light. Turpentine had exuded out of most of the trees, and the sun had inspissated it into a rosin, which was found sticking to the trunks, and lying about the roots. These trees shoot out their branches like all other pines; with this difference, that the branches of these are much smaller and shorter; so that the knots become nothing when the tree is wrought for use. I took notice, that the largest of them had the smallest and shortest branches, and were crowned, as it were, at the top, by a spreading branch like a bush. This was what led some on board into the extravagant notion of their being basaltes: Indeed no one could think of finding such trees here. The seeds are produced in cones; but we could find none that had any in them, or that were in a proper state for vegetation or botanical examination. Besides these, there was another tree or shrub of the spruce-fir kind, but it was very small. We also found on the isle a sort of scurvy-grass, and a plant, called by us Lamb's Quarters, which, when boiled, eat like spinnage.
Having got ten or twelve small spars to make studding-sail booms, boat-masts, etc., and night approaching, we returned with them on board.
The purpose for which I anchored under this isle being answered, I was now to consider what was next to be done. We had from the top-mast-head taken a view of the sea around us, and observed the whole, to the west, to be strewed with small islets, sand-banks, and breakers, to the utmost extent of our horizon. They seemed indeed not to be all connected, and to be divided by winding channels. But when I considered that the extent of this S.W. coast was already pretty well determined, the great risk attending a more accurate survey, and the time it would require to accomplish it, on account of the many dangers we should have to encounter, I determined not to hazard the ship down to leeward, where we might be so hemmed in as to find it difficult to return, and by that means lose the proper season for getting to the south. I now wished to have had the little vessel set up, the frame of which we had on board. I had some thoughts of doing this, when we were last at Otaheite, but found it could not be executed, without neglecting the caulking and other necessary repairs of the ship, or staying longer there than the route I had in view would admit. It was now too late to begin setting her up, and then to use her in exploring this coast; and in our voyage to the south, she could be of no service. These reasons induced me to try to get without the shoals; that is, to the southward of them.
Next morning at day-break, we got under sail with a light breeze at E. by N. We had to make some trips to weather the shoals to leeward of Botany Isle; but when this was done the breeze began to fail; and at three p.m. it fell calm. The swell, assisted by the current, set us fast to S.W. towards the breakers, which were yet in sight in that direction. Thus we continued till ten o'clock, at which time a breeze springing up at N.N.W. we steered E.S.E.; the contrary course we had come in; not daring to steer farther south till daylight.
At three o'clock next morning, the wind veered to S.W., blew hard, and in squalls, attended with rain, which made it necessary to proceed with our courses up and top-sails on the cap, till day-break, when the hill on the Isle of Pines bore north; and our distance from the shore in that direction was about four leagues. We had now a very strong wind at S.S.W. attended by a great sea; so that we had reason to rejoice at having got clear of the shoals before this gale overtook us. Though every thing conspired to make me think this was the westerly monsoon, it can hardly be comprehended under that name, for several reasons; first, because it was near a month too soon for these winds; secondly, because we know not if they reach this place at all; and lastly, because it is very common for westerly winds to blow within the tropics. However, I never found them to blow so hard before, or so far southerly. Be these things as they may, we had now no other choice but to stretch to S.E., which we accordingly did with our starboard tacks aboard; and at noon we were out of sight of land.
The gale continued with very little alteration till noon next day; at which time we observed in latitude 23 deg. 18', longitude made from the Isle of Pines 1 deg. 54' E. In the afternoon we had little wind from the south, and a great swell from the same direction: And many boobies, tropic, and men-of-war birds were seen. At eleven o'clock a fresh breeze sprung up at W. by S., with which we stood to the south. At this time we were in the latitude of 23 deg. 18', longitude 169 deg. 49' E., and about forty-two leagues south of the Hebrides.
At eight o'clock in the morning, on the third, the wind veered to S.W. and blew a strong gale by squalls, attended with rain. I now gave over all thought of returning to the land we had left. Indeed, when I considered the vast ocean we had to explore to the south; the state and condition of the ship, already in want of some necessary stores; that summer was approaching fast, and that any considerable accident might detain us in this sea another year; I did not think it advisable to attempt to regain the land.
Thus I was obliged, as it were by necessity, for the first time, to leave a coast I had discovered, before it was fully explored.—I called it New Caledonia; and, if we except New Zealand, it is perhaps the largest island in the South Pacific Ocean. For it extends from the latitude of 19 deg. 37', to 22 deg. 30', S., and from the longitude of 163 deg. 37' to 167 deg. 14' E. It lies nearly N.W. 1/2 W., and S.E. 1 E., and is about eighty-seven leagues long in that direction; but its breadth is not considerable, not any where exceeding ten leagues. It is a country full of hills and valleys; of various extent both for height and depth. To judge of the whole by the parts we were on, from these hills spring vast numbers of little rivulets, which greatly contribute to fertilize the plains, and to supply all the wants of the inhabitants. The summits of most of the hills seem to be barren; though some few are cloathed with wood; as are all the plains and valleys. By reason of these hills, many parts of the coast, when at a distance from it, appeared indented, or to have great inlets between the hills; but, when we came near the shore, we always found such places shut up with low land, and also observed low land to lie along the coast between the seashore and the foot of the hills. As this was the case in all such parts as we came near enough to see, it is reasonable to suppose that the whole coast is so. I am likewise of opinion, that the whole, or greatest part, is surrounded by reefs or shoals, which render the access to it very dangerous, but at the same time guard the coast from the violence of the wind and sea; make it abound with fish, secure an easy and safe navigation along it, for canoes, etc.; and, most likely, form some good harbours for shipping. Most, if not every part of the coast, is inhabited, the Isle of Pines not excepted; for we saw either smoke by day, or fires by night, wherever we came. In the extent which I have given to this island, is included the broken or unconnected lands to the N.W. That they may be connected; I shall not pretend to deny; we were, however, of opinion that they were isles, and that New Caledonia terminated more to S.E.; though this at most is but a well-founded conjecture.
But whether these lands be separate isles, or connected with New Caledonia, it is by no means certain that we saw their termination to the west. I think we did not; as the shoals did not end with the land we saw, but kept their N.W. direction farther than Bougainville's track in the latitude of 15 deg. or 15 deg. 1/2. Nay, it seems not improbable, that a chain of isles, sand-banks, and reefs, may extend to the west, as far as the coast of New South Wales. The eastern extent of the isles and shoals off that coast, between the latitude of 15 deg. and 23', were not known. The resemblance of the two countries; *Bougainville's meeting with the shoal of Diana above sixty leagues from the coast; and the signs he had of land to the S.E.; all tend to increase the probability. I must confess that it is carrying probability and conjecture a little too far, to say what may lie in a space of two hundred leagues; but it is in some measure necessary, were it only to put some future navigator on his guard.
[See his Voyage, English translation p.303.]
Mr Wales determined the longitude of that part of New Caledonia we explored, by ninety-six sets of observations, which were reduced to one another by our trusty guide the watch. I found the variation of the compass to be 10 deg. 24' E. This is the mean variation given by the three azimuth compasses we had on board, which would differ from each other a degree and a half, and sometimes more. I did not observe any difference in the variation between the N.W. and S.E. parts of this land, except when we were at anchor before Balade, where it was less than 10 deg.; but this I did not regard, as I found such an uniformity out at sea; and it is there where navigators want to know the variation. While we were on the N.E. coast, I thought the currents set to S.E. and W. or N.W. on the other side; but they are by no means considerable, and may, as probably, be channels of tides, as regular currents. In the narrow channels which divide the shoals, and those which communicate with the sea, the tides run strong; but their rise and fall are inconsiderable, not exceeding three feet and a half. The time of high-water, at the full and change, at Balade, is about six o'clock; but at Botany Isle we judged it would happen about ten or eleven o'clock.
Sequel of the Passage from New Caledonia to New Zealand, with an Account of the Discovery of Norfolk Island; and the Incidents that happened while the Ship lay in Queen Charlotte's Sound.
The wind continuing at S.W., W.S.W., and W., blowing a fresh gale, and now and then squalls, with showers of rain, we steered to S.S.E, without meeting with any remarkable occurrence till near noon on the 6th, when it fell calm. At this time we were in the latitude of 27 deg. 50' S., longitude 171 deg. 43' E. The calm continued till noon the next day, during which time we observed the variation to be 10 deg. 33' E. I now ordered the carpenters to work to caulk the decks. As we had neither pitch, tar, nor rosin, left to pay the seams, this was done with varnish of pine, and afterwards covered with coral sand, which made a cement far exceeding my expectation. In the afternoon, we had a boat in the water, and shot two albatrosses, which were geese to us. We had seen one of this kind of birds the day before, which was the first we observed since we had been within the tropic. On the 7th, at one p.m. a breeze sprung up at south; soon after it veered to, and fixed at S.E. by S., and blew a gentle gale, attended with pleasant weather.
We stretched to W.S.W., and next day at noon were in the latitude of 28 deg. 25', longitude 170 deg. 26' E. In the evening, Mr Cooper haying struck a porpoise with a harpoon, it was necessary to bring-to, and have two boats out, before we could kill it, and get it on board. It was six feet long; a female of that kind, which naturalists call dolphin of the ancients, and which differs from the other kind of porpoise in the head and jaw, having them long and pointed. This had eighty-eight teeth in each jaw. The haslet and lean flesh were to us a feast. The latter was a little liverish, but had not the least fishy taste. It was eaten roasted, broiled, and fried, first soaking it in warm water. Indeed, little art was wanting to make any thing fresh, palatable to those who had been living so long on salt meat.
We continued to stretch to W.S.W. till the 10th, when at day-break we discovered land, bearing S.W., which on a nearer approach we found to be an island of good height, and five leagues in circuit. I named it Norfolk Isle, in honour of the noble family of Howard. It is situated in the latitude of 29 deg. 2' 30" S. and longitude 168 deg. 16' E. The latter was determined by lunar observations made on this, the preceding, and following days; and the former by a good observation at noon, when we were about three miles from the isle. Soon after we discovered the isle, we sounded in twenty-two fathoms on a bank of coral sand; after this we continued to sound, and found not less than twenty-two; or more than twenty-four fathoms (except near the shore), and the same bottom mixed with broken shells. After dinner a party of us embarked in two boats, and landed on the island, without any difficulty, behind some large rocks, which lined part of the coast on the N.E. side.
We found it uninhabited, and were undoubtedly the first that ever set foot on it. We observed many trees and plants common at New Zealand; and, in particular, the flax-plant, which is rather more luxuriant here than in any part of that country; but the chief produce is a sort of spruce-pine, which grows in great abundance, and to a large size, many of the trees being as thick, breast high, as two men could fathom, and exceedingly straight and tall. This pine is a sort between that which grows in New Zealand, and that in New Caledonia; the foliage differing something from both, and the wood not so heavy as the former, nor so light and close-grained as the latter. It is a good deal like the Quebec pine. For about two hundred yards from the shore, the ground is covered so thick with shrubs and plants, as hardly to be penetrated farther inland. The woods were perfectly clear and free from underwood, and the soil seemed rich and deep.
We found the same kind of pigeons, parrots, and parroquets as in New Zealand, rails, and some small birds. The sea-fowl are, white boobies, gulls, tern, etc. which breed undisturbed on the shores, and in the cliffs of the rocks.
On the isle is fresh water; and cabbage-palm, wood-sorrel, sow-thistle, and samphire, abounding in some places on the shore, we brought on board as much of each sort as the time we had to gather them would admit. These cabbage-trees or palms were not thicker than a man's leg, and from ten to twenty feet high. They are of the same genus with the cocoa-nut tree; like it they have large pinnated leaves, and are the same as the second sort found in the northern parts of New South Wales*. The cabbage is, properly speaking, the bud of the tree; each tree producing but one cabbage, which is at the crown, where the leaves spring out, and is inclosed in the stem. The cutting off the cabbage effectually destroys the tree; so that no more than one can be had from the same stem. The cocoa-nut tree, and some others of the palm kind, produce cabbage as well as these. This vegetable is not only wholesome, but exceedingly palatable, and proved the most agreeable repast we had for some time.
[Vide Hawkesworth's Voyages, Vol III, Page 624.]
The coast does not want fish. While we were on shore, the people in the boats caught some which were excellent. I judged that it was high water at the full and change, about one o'clock; and that the tide rises and falls upon a perpendicular about four or five feet.
The approach of night brought us all on board, when we hoisted in the boats, and stretched to E.N.E. (with the wind at S.E.) till midnight, when we tacked, and spent the remainder of the night making short boards.
Next morning at sun-rise, we made sail, stretching to S.S.W., and weathered the island; on the south side of which lie two isles, that serve as roosting and breeding-places for birds. On this, as also on the S.E. side, is a sandy beach; whereas most of the other shores are bounded by rocky cliffs, which have twenty and eighteen fathoms water close to them: At least so we found it on the N.E. side, and with good anchorage. A bank of coral sand, mixed with shells, on which we found from nineteen to thirty-five or forty fathoms water, surrounds the isle, and extends, especially to the south, seven leagues off. The morning we discovered the island, the variation was found to be 13 deg. 9' E.; but I think this observation gave too much, as others which we had, both before and after, gave 2 deg. less.
After leaving Norfolk Isle, I steered for New Zealand, my intention being to touch at Queen Charlotte's Sound, to refresh my crew, and put the ship in a condition to encounter the southern latitudes.
On the 17th, at day-break, we saw Mount Egmont, which was covered with everlasting snow, bearing S.E. 1/2 E. Our distance from the shore was about eight leagues, and, on sounding, we found seventy fathoms water, a muddy bottom. The wind soon fixed in the western board, and blew a fresh gale, with which we steered S.S.E. for Queen Charlotte's Sound, with a view of falling in with Cape Stephens. At noon Cape Egmont bore E.N.E. distant three or four leagues; and though the mount was hid in the clouds, we judged it to be in the same direction as the Cape; latitude observed 39 deg. 24'. The wind increased in such a manner as to oblige us to close-reef our top-sails, and strike top-gallant yards. At last we could bear no more sail than the two courses, and two close-reefed top-sails; and under them we stretched for Cape Stephens, which we made at eleven o'clock at night.
At midnight we tacked and made a trip to the north till three o'clock next morning, when we bore away for the sound. At nine we hauled round Point Jackson through a sea which looked terrible, occasioned by a rapid tide, and a high wind; but as we knew the coast, it did not alarm us. At eleven o'clock we anchored before Ship Cove; the strong flurries from off the land not permitting us to get in.
In the afternoon, as we could not move the ship, I went into the Cove, with the seine, to try to catch some fish. The first thing I did after landing, was to look for the bottle I left hid when last there, in which was the memorandum. It was taken away, but by whom it did not appear. Two hauls with the seine producing only four small fish, we, in some measure, made up for this deficiency, by shooting several birds, which the flowers in the garden had drawn thither, as also some old shags, and by robbing the nests of some young ones.
Being little wind next morning, we weighed and warped the ship into the Cove, and there moored with the two bowers. We unbent the sails to repair them; several having been split, and otherwise damaged in the late gale. The main and fore courses, already worn to the very utmost, were condemned as useless. I ordered the top-masts to be struck and unrigged, in order to fix to them moveable chocks or knees, for want of which the trestle-trees were continually breaking; the forge to be set up, to make bolts and repair our iron-work; and tents to be erected on shore for the reception of a guard, coopers, sail-makers, etc. I likewise gave orders that vegetables (of which there were plenty) should be boiled every morning with oatmeal and portable broth for breakfast, and with pease and broth every day for dinner for the whole crew, over and above their usual allowance of salt meat.
In the afternoon, as Mr Wales was setting up his observatory, he discovered that several trees, which were standing when we last sailed from this place, had been cut down with saws and axes; and a few days after, the place where an observatory, clock, etc. had been set up, was also found, in a spot different from that where Mr Wales had placed his. It was, therefore, now no longer to be doubted, that the Adventure had been in this cove after we had left it.
Next day, wind southerly; hazy clouded weather. Every body went to work at their respective employments, one of which was to caulk the ship's sides, a thing much wanted. The seams were paid with putty, made with cook's fat and chalk; the gunner happening to have a quantity of the latter on board.
The 21st, wind southerly, with continual rains.
The weather being fair in the afternoon of the 22d, accompanied by the botanists, I visited our gardens on Motuara, which we found almost in a state of nature, having been wholly neglected by the inhabitants. Nevertheless, many articles were in a flourishing condition, and shewed how well they liked the soil in which they were planted. None of the natives having yet made their appearance, we made a fire on the point of the island, in hopes, if they saw the smoke, they might be induced to come to us.
Nothing remarkable happened till the 24th, when, in the morning, two canoes were seen coming down the sound; but as soon as they perceived the ship, they retired behind a point on the west side. After breakfast I went in a boat to look for them; and as we proceeded along the shore, we shot several birds. The report of the muskets gave notice of our approach, and the natives discovered themselves in Shag Cove by hallooing to us; but as we drew near to their habitations, they all fled to the woods, except two or three men, who stood on a rising ground near the shore, with their arms in their hands. The moment we landed, they knew us. Joy then took place of fear; and the rest of the natives hurried out of the woods, and embraced us over and over again; leaping and skipping about like madmen, but I observed that they would not suffer some women, whom we saw at a distance, to come near us. After we had made them presents of hatchets, knives, and what else we had with us, they gave us in return a large quantity of fish, which they had just caught. There were only a few amongst them whose faces we could recognise, and on our asking why they were afraid of us, and enquiring for some of our old acquaintances by name, they talked much about killing, which was so variously understood by us, that we could gather nothing from it, so that, after a short stay, we took leave, and went on board.
Next morning early, our friends, according to a promise they had made us the preceding evening, paying us a visit, brought with them a quantity of fine fish, which they exchanged for Otaheitean cloth, etc. and then returned to their habitations.
On the 26th, we got into the after-hold four boat-load of shingle ballast, and struck down six guns, keeping only six on deck. Our good friends the natives, having brought us a plentiful supply of fish, afterwards went on shore to the tents, and informed our people there, that a ship like ours had been lately lost in the strait; that some of the people got on shore; and that the natives stole their clothes, etc. for which several were shot; and afterwards, when they could fire no longer, the natives having got the better, killed them with their patapatoos, and eat them, but that they themselves had no hand in the affair, which, they said, happened at Vanna Aroa, near Terrawhitte, on the other side of the strait. One man said it was two moons ago: But another contradicted him, and counted on his fingers about twenty or thirty days. They described by actions how the ship was beat to pieces by going up and down against the rocks, till at last it was all scattered abroad.
The next day some others told the same story, or nearly to the same purport, and pointed over the east bay, which is on the east side of the sound, as to the place where it happened. These stories making me very uneasy about the Adventure, I desired Mr Wales, and those on shore, to let me know if any of the natives should mention it again, or to send them to me; for I had not heard any thing from them myself. When Mr Wales came on board to dinner he found the very people who had told him the story on shore, and pointed them out to me. I enquired about the affair, and endeavoured to come at the truth by every method I could think of. All I could get from them was, "Caurey," (no); and they not only denied every syllable of what they had said on shore, but seemed wholly ignorant of the matter; so that I began to think our people had misunderstood them, and that the story referred to some of their own people and boats.
On the 28th, fresh gales westerly, and fair weather. We rigged and fitted the top-masts. Having gone on a shooting-party to West Bay, we went to the place where I left the hogs and fowls; but saw no vestiges of them, nor of any body having been there since. In our return, having visited the natives, we got some fish in exchange for trifles which we gave them. As we were coming away, Mr Forster thought be heard the squeaking of a pig in the woods, close by their habitations; probably they may have those I left with them when last here. In the evening we got on board, with about a dozen and a half of wild fowl, shags, and sea-pies. The sportsmen who had been out in the woods near the ship were more successful among the small birds.
On the 29th and 30th nothing remarkable happened, except that in the evening of the latter all the natives left us.
The 31st being a fine pleasant day, our botanists went over to Long Island, where one of the party saw a large black boar. As it was described to me, I thought it might be one of those which Captain Furneaux left behind, and had been brought over to this isle by those who had it in keeping. Since they did not destroy those hogs when first in their possession, we cannot suppose they will do it now; so that there is little fear but that this country will in time be stocked with these animals, both in a wild and domestic state.
Next day we were visited by a number of strangers who came up from the sound, and brought with them but little fish. Their chief commodity was green stone or talc, an article which never came to a bad market; and some of the largest pieces of it I had ever seen were got this day.
On the 2d I went over to the east side of the sound, and, without meeting any thing remarkable, returned on board in the evening, when I learnt that the same people who visited us the preceding day, had been on board most of this, with their usual article of trade.
On the 3d, Mr Pickersgill met with some of the natives, who related to him the story of a ship being lost, and the people being killed; but added, with great earnestness, it was not done by them.
On the 4th, fine pleasant weather. Most of the natives now retired up the sound. Indeed, I had taken every gentle method, to oblige them to be gone, for since these newcomers had been with us, our old friends had disappeared, and we had been without fish. Having gone over to Long Island, to look for the hog which had been seen there, I found it to be one of the sows left by Captain Furneaux; the same that was in the possession of the natives when we were last here. From the supposition of its being a boar, I had carried over a sow to leave with him; but on seeing my mistake, brought her back, as the leaving her there would answer no end.
Early in the morning of the 5th, our old friends made us a visit, and brought a seasonable supply of fish. At the same time I embarked in the pinnace, with Messrs Forsters and Sparrman, in order to proceed up the sound. I was desirous of finding the termination of it; or rather of seeing if I could find any passage out to sea by the S.E., as I suspected from some discoveries I had made when first here. In our way up, we met with some fishers, of whom we made the necessary enquiry; and they all agreed that there was no passage to the sea by the head of the sound. As we proceeded, we, some time after, met a canoe conducted by four men coming down the sound. These confirmed what the others had said, in regard to there being no passage to the sea the way we were going; but gave us to understand that there was one to the east, in the very place where I expected to find it. I now laid aside the scheme of going to the head of the sound, and proceeded to this arm, which is on the S.E. side, about four or five leagues above the isle of Motuara.