"The prisoners had slept the previous night in a part of the vessel appropriated for this purpose; but it was without fastening or other means of securing them below. Two sentries were, however, placed over the hatchway. The prisoners occasionally came on deck during the night, for their launch was towing astern, and the brig was standing off and on until the morning. Between six and seven o'clock in the morning, the men were called to work. Two of them were up some time before the rest. They were struck by the air of negligence which was evident on deck, and instantly communicated the fact to one or two others. The possibility of capturing the brig had often been discussed by the prisoners, among their many other wild plans for escaping from the island, and recently had been often proposed by them. The thought was told by their looks, and soon spread from man to man. A few moments were enough; one or two were roused from sleep, and the intention was hurriedly communicated to them. It was variously received. One of them distrusted the leader, and entreated his companions to desist from so mad an attempt. It was useless; the frenzied thirst for liberty had seized them, and they were maddened by it. Within a few minutes, they were all on deck; and one of the leaders rushing at the sentry nearest to him, endeavored to wrest from him his pistols, one of which had flashed in the pan as he rapidly presented it, and threw him overboard; but he was subsequently saved. The arms of the other sentry were demanded, and obtained from him without resistance. A scuffle now took place with two other soldiers who were also on the deck, but not on duty, during which one of them jumped over the vessel's side, and remained for some time in the main-chains; but upon the launch being brought alongside, he went down into it. The other endeavored to swim ashore (for by this time the vessel was within a gun's shot of the rocks;) but, encumbered by his great coat, he was seen, when within a few strokes of the rock, to raise his hands, and uttering a faint cry to Heaven for mercy, he instantly sunk. In the meanwhile, the sergeant in charge of the guard hearing a scuffling overhead, ran upon deck, and seeing some of the mutineers struggling with the sentry, shot the nearest of them dead on the spot. He had no sooner done so than he received a blow on the head, which rendered him for some time insensible. Little or no resistance was offered by the sailors; they ran into the forecastle, and the vessel was in the hands of the mutineers. All the hatches were instantly fastened down, and every available thing at hand piled upon them. But now, having secured their opponents, the mutineers were unable to work the brig; they therefore summoned two of the sailors from below, and placed one of them at the wheel, while the other was directed to assist in getting the vessel off. The cockswain, a free man in charge of the prisoners, had at the first onset taken to the rigging, and remained in the maintop with one of the men who refused to join in the attack. At this moment, a soldier who had gone overboard and endeavored to reach the shore, had turned back, and was seen swimming near the vessel. Woolfe, one of the convicts, immediately jumped into the boat alongside, and saved him. Whilst this was the state of things above, the soldiers had forced their way into the captain's cabin, and continued to fire through the gratings overhead as often as any of the mutineers passed. In this manner several of them received wounds. To prevent a continuance of this, a kettle of hot water was poured from above; and shortly afterwards, a proposal was made to the captain from the prisoners to leave the vessel in the launch, provided he handed up to them the necessary supplies. This he refused; and then all the sailors were ordered from below into the launch, with the intention of sending them ashore. Continuing to watch for the ring-leaders, the captain caught a glimpse of one of them standing aft, and, as he supposed, out of reach. He mounted the cabin table, and, almost at a venture, fired through the woodwork in the direction he supposed the man to be standing. The shot was fatal; the ball struck him in the mouth, and passed through his brain. Terrified at the death of their comrades, the remainder were panic-struck, and instantly ran below. One of the leaders sprung over the taffrail, and eventually reached the launch. The sailor at the wheel, now seeing the deck almost cleared, beckoned up the captain, and without an effort, the vessel was again in their possession. In the confusion, a soldier, who had been in the boat, and was at this moment with the sailors returning on deck, was mistaken for one of the mutineers, and shot by the sergeant. The prisoners were now summoned from their place of concealment. They begged hard for mercy; and upon condition of their quietly surrendering, it was promised to them. As the first of them, in reliance upon this assurance, was gaining the deck, by some unhappy error, he received a ball in his thigh, and fell back again. The rest refused to stir; but after a few moments' hesitation, another of them ventured up, was taken aft by the captain, and secured. A third followed, and, as he came up, he extended his arms and cried: "I surrender; spare me." Either this motion was mistaken by the soldiers, or some of them were unable to restrain their passion, for at this instant the man's head was literally blown off. The captain hastened to the spot, and received the others, who were secured without further injury.
"When we reached the vessel, the dying, dead, and wounded, were lying in every direction. In the launch astern, we saw the body of one wretched man who had leaped over the taffrail, and reached the boat badly wounded; he was seen lying in it when the deck was regained, and was then pierced through with many balls. Nothing could be more horrible than his appearance; the distortion of every feature, his clenched hands, and the limbs which had stiffened in the forms of agony into which pain had twisted them, were appalling. The countenance of every man on board bore evidence of the nature of the deadly conflict in which he had been engaged. In some, sullenness had succeeded to reckless daring, and exultation to alarm in others.
"Nothing could have been more desperate than such an attempt to seize the vessel. The most culpable neglect could alone have encouraged it; and it is difficult to conceive how it could have succeeded, if anything like a proper stand had been made by those in charge of her when it commenced.
"The wounded were immediately landed, and conveyed to the hospital, and the dead bodies were afterwards brought on shore.
"The burial ground is close to the beach. A heavy surf rolls mournfully over the reef. The moon had just risen, when, in deep and solemn silence, the bodies of these misguided men were lowered into the graves prepared for them. Away from home and country, they had found a fearful termination of a miserable existence. Perhaps ties had still bound them to the world; friends whom they loved were looking for their return, and, prodigals though they had been, would have blessed them, and forgiven their offences. Perhaps even at that sad moment, mothers were praying for their lost ones, whom in all their infamy they had still fondly loved. Such thoughts filled my mind; and when a few drops of rain at that moment descended, I could not help thinking that they fell as tears from heaven over the guilt and misery of its children.
"On the morning following the fatal occurrence, I visited the jail in which the mutineers were confined. The cells were small, but clean and light. In the first of them, I found George Beavers, Nicholas Lewis, and Henry Sears. Beavers was crouching in one corner of the cell, and looking sullen, and in despair. Lewis, who was walking the scanty space of the cell, seemed to glory in the rattle of his heavy chains; while Sears was stretched, apparently asleep, upon a grass mat. They were all heavily ironed, and every precaution had evidently been taken to prevent escape.
"In the other cell I found Woolfe and Barry, the latter in much agony from an old wound in the leg, the pain of which had been aggravated by the heavy irons which galled it. All the prisoners except Barry and Woolfe, readily acknowledged their participation in the attempt to seize the brig, but most solemnly denied any knowledge of a preconcerted plan to take her; or that they at least had attempted to throw the soldiers overboard. They were unwilling to be interrupted, and inveighed in the bitterest manner against some of their companions who had, they seemed to think, betrayed them, or at least had led them on, and at the moment of danger had flinched.
"The names of the surviving mutineers were John Jones, Nicholas Lewis, Henry Sears, George Beavers, James Woolfe, Thomas Whelan, and Patrick Barry.
"The depositions against them having been taken, all the men I have mentioned, with the exception of Jones and Whelan, who were wounded, were brought out to hear them read. They listened with calm attention, but none of them appeared to be much excited. Once only during the reading, Beavers passionately denied the statements made by one of the witnesses present, and was with difficulty silenced. His countenance at that moment was terribly agitated; every bad feeling seemed to mingle in its passionate expression. They were all young, powerful, and, with one or two exceptions, not at all ill-looking men.
"From the jail I proceeded to the hospital, where the wounded men were lying. They had each received severe wounds in the thigh, and were in great agony. The violence of Jones was excessive. Weakened in some degree by the loss of blood, the bitterness of his spirit nevertheless exhibited itself in passionate bursts of impatience. He was occasionally convulsed with excessive pain; for the nerves of the thigh had been much lacerated, and the bone terribly shattered. His features were distorted with pain and anger, and occasionally bitter curses broke from his lips; yet there was something about his appearance which powerfully arrested my attention—an evident marking of intellect and character, repulsive in its present development, yet in many respects remarkable. His history had been a melancholy one, and, as illustrative of many thousand others, I give it as I afterwards received it from his lips.
"At eleven years of age, he was employed in a warehouse in Liverpool as an errand-boy. While following this occupation, from which, by good-conduct, he might have risen to something better, he was met in the street one day by the lad whom he had succeeded in this employment, and was told by him how he might obtain money by robbing the warehouse, and then go with him to the theatre. He accordingly took an opportunity of stealing some articles which had been pointed out, and gave them to his companion, who, in disposing of them, was detected, and of course criminated Jones. After remaining some weeks in jail, Jones was tried, and acquitted; but his character being now gone, he became reckless, and commenced a regular career of depredation. In attempting another warehouse robbery, he was detected, and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment. By the time he was released from this, he was well tutored in crime, and believed that he could now adroitly perform the same robbery in which he had previously failed. He made the attempt the very night of his release from jail, and with temporary success. Subsequently, however, he was detected, and received sentence of transportation for seven years. He underwent this sentence, and an additional one in Van Diemen's Land, chiefly at Port Arthur, the most severe of the penal stations there. From this place he, with Lewis, Moss (who was shot on board the brig), and Woolfe, having seized a whale-boat, effected their escape. During three months, they underwent the most extreme hardships from hunger and exposure. Once they had been without food for several days, and their last hook was over the boat's side; they were anxiously watching for a fish. A small blue shark took the bait, and in despair one of them dashed over the boat's side to seize the fish; his leg was caught by one of the others, and they succeeded in saving both man and hook. They eventually reached Twofold Bay, on the coast of New South Wales, and were then apprehended, conveyed to Sydney, and thence sent back to Van Diemen's Land; tried, and received sentence of death; but this was subsequently commuted to transportation for life to Norfolk Island.
"Jones often described to me the intense misery he had undergone during his career. He had never known what freedom was, and yet incessantly longed for it. All alike confessed the unhappiness of their career. Having made the first false step into crime, they acknowledged that their minds became polluted by the associations they formed during imprisonment. Then they were further demoralized by thinking of the glory—such miserable glory!—attending a trial; and the hulks and the voyage out gave them a finished criminal training. The extent of punishment many of them have undergone during the period of transportation is almost incredible. I have known men whose original sentence of seven years has been extended over three times that period, and who, in addition to other punishment, have received five thousand or six thousand lashes!
"After many solemn interviews with the mutineers, I found them gradually softening. They became more communicative, and extremely anxious to receive instruction. I think I shall never forget one of the earliest of these visits to them. I first saw Sears, Beavers, and Jones. After a long and interesting conversation with them, we knelt together, and I offered prayer. When we arose, I perceived that each of them had been shedding tears. It was the first time I had seen them betray any such emotion, and I cannot tell how glad I felt; but when I proceeded afterwards to read to them the first chapter of Isaiah, I had scarcely uttered that most exquisite passage in the second verse—"I have nourished and brougth up children, and they have rebelled against me,"—when the claims of God, and their violation and rejection of them; His forbearance, and their ingratitude, appeared to overwhelm them; they sobbed aloud, and were thoroughly overpowered.
"For a considerable time we talked together of the past, the wretched years they had endured, the punishments, and the crimes which had led to them, until they seemed to feel most keenly the folly of their sad career. We passed on to contrast the manner in which their lives had been spent, with what God and society required from them; their miserable preversion of God's gifts, with the design for which He gave them, until we were led on to speak of hope and of faith; of Him who "willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live;" and then the Saviour's remonstrance seemed to arrest them—"Ye will not come to me that ye might have life;" until at length the influences of the Holy Spirit were supplicated with earnestness and solemnity. These instructions and such conversations were daily repeated; and henceforth each time I saw them, I perceived a gradual but distinct unfolding of the affections and the understanding.
"August.—The wounded men are much recovered, and the whole of the mutineers are now confined together in a large ward of the jail. They have long received extreme kindness from the commandant, and are literally bewildered at finding that even this last act has not diminished the exercise of his benevolence. That anybody should care for them, or take such pains about them after their violent conduct excited surprise at first almost amounting to suspicion; but this at length gave place to the warmest gratitude. They were, in fact, subdued by it. They read very much, are extremely submissive, and carefully avoid the slightest infringement of the prison regulations. At first, all this was confined to the three men I have mentioned; but their steady consistency of conduct, and the strange transformation of character, so evident in them, gradually arrested the attention of the others, and eventually led to a similar result.
"They will be detained here until the case has been decided by the authorities in Sydney. They will probably be tried by a commission sent from thence to the island for the purpose. Formerly, however, prisoners charged with capital offences here were sent up for trial; but (it is a horrible fact) this was found to lead to so much crime, that, at much inconvenience and expense, it was found absolutely necessary to send down a judicial commission on each important occasion, in order to prevent it. The mere excitement of a voyage, with the chances connected with it, nay, merely a wish to get off the island even for a time, led many men to commit crimes of the deepest dye in order to be sent to Sydney for trial.
"Two months, therefore, at least must intervene between the perpetration of the offence and their trial; and this interval is usually employed in similar cases in arranging a defence but too commonly supported by perjury. In the present instance, I found not the slightest attempt to follow such a course. They declare that they expect death, and will gladly welcome it. Of their life, which has been a course of almost constant warfare with society, ending in remorseful feelings, they were all thoroughly weary, although only one of them exceeds thirty years of age.
"In addition to the ordinary services, Captain Maconochie, each Sunday afternoon has read prayers to them, and has given permission to a few of their friends to be present. Singular good has resulted from it, both to the men and those who join in their devotions. At the conclusion of one of these services, Sears stood up, and with his heart so full as scarcely to allow him utterance, to the surprise of every person there, he addressed most impressively the men who were present. 'Perhaps,' said he, 'the words of one of yourselves, unhappily circumstanced as I am, may have some weight with you. You all know the life I have led; it has, believe me, been a most unhappy one; and I have, I hope not too late, discovered the cause of this. I solemnly tell you that it is because I have broken God's laws. I am almost ashamed to speak, but I dare not be silent. I am going to tell you a strange thing. I never before was happy; I begin now, for the first time in my life, to hope. I am an ignorant man, or at least I was so; but I thank God I begin to see things in their right light now. I have been unhappily placed from my childhood, and have endured many hardships. I do not mention this to excuse my errors; yet if I had years since received the kindness I have done here, it might have been otherwise. My poor fellows, do turn over a new leaf; try to serve God, and you, too, will be happier for it.' The effect was most thrilling; there was a deathlike silence; tears rolled down many cheeks, which I verily believe never before felt them; and without a word more, all slowly withdrew.
"This man's story is also a common, but painful one. At fifteen years of age, he was transported for life as an accomplice in an assault and alleged robbery, of which, from circumstances which have since transpired, I have little doubt he was entirely innocent. During a long imprisonment on Horsham jail, he received an initiation in crime, which was finished during the outward voyage. Upon his arrival in New South Wales, he was assigned to a settler in the interior, a notoriously hard and severe man, who gave him but a scanty supply of food and clothing, and whose aim seemed to be to take the utmost out of him at the least possible expense. Driven at length to desperation, he, with three fellow-servants, absconded; and when taken, made a complaint to the magistrate, before whom they were brought almost without clothes. Their statements were found to be literally correct; but for absconding, they were sent to New Castle, one of the penal stations of New South Wales, where Sears remained nearly two years. At the expiration of that time, he was again assigned, but unfortunately to a man, if possible, worse than his former employer, and again absconded. For this offence, he was sent to Moreton Bay, another penal settlement, and endured three years of horrible severity, starvation, and misery of every kind. His temper was by this time much soured; and, roused by the conduct of the overseers, he became brutalized by constant punishment for resisting them. After this, he was sent to Sydney, as one of the crew in the police-boat, of which he was soon made assistant cockswain. For not reporting a theft committed by one of the men under his charge, he was sentenced to a road-party; and attempting to escape from it, he was apprehended, and again ordered to Moreton Bay for four years more. There he was again repeatedly flogged for disobedience and resistance of overseers, as well as attempting to escape; but having most courageously rendered assistance to a vessel wrecked off the harbor, he attracted the attention of the commandant, who afterwards shewed him a little favor. This was the first approach to kindness he had known since when, years before, he had left his home, and had its usual influence. He was never again in a scrape there. His good-conduct induced the commandant to recommend him for a mitigation of sentence, which he received, and he was again employed in the police-boat. The free cockswain of the boat was, however, a drunkard, and intrusted much to Sears. Oftentimes he roused the men by his violence, but Sears contrived to subdue his passion. At length, one night, returning to the hut, drunk, the man struck at one of the crew with his cutlass, and the rest resisted and disarmed him. But the morning came; the case was heard; their story was disbelieved; and upon the charge and evidence of the aggressor, they were sent to an ironed gang, to work on the public roads. When Sears again became eligible for assignment, a person whom he had known in Sydney applied for him. The man must be removed within a fixed period after the authority is given. In this case, application was made a day beyond the prescribed time, and churlishly refused. The disappointment roused a spirit so untutored as his, and once again he absconded; was of course apprehended, tried, and being found with a man who had committed a robbery, and had a musket in his possession, was sent to Norfolk Island for life. This sentence has, however, for meritorious conduct, been reduced to fourteen years; and his ready assistance during a fire which recently broke out in the military garrison here, might possibly have helped to obtain a still further reduction. He never, during those abscondings, was absent for any long period, and never committed any act of violence. His constant attempt seems to have been to reach Sydney, in order to effect his escape from the scene of so much misery.
"For some time past, I have noticed his quiet and orderly conduct, and was really sorry when I found him concerned in this unhappy affair. His desire for freedom was, however, most ardent, and a chance of obtaining it was almost irresistible. He has since told me that a few words kindly spoken to himself and others by Captain Maconochie when they landed, sounded so pleasantly to him—such are his own words—that he determined from that moment he would endeavor to do well. He assures me that he was perfectly unconscious of a design to take the brig, until awakened from his sleep a few minutes before the attack commenced; that he then remonstrated with the men; but finding it useless, he considered it a point of honor not to fail them. His anxiety for instruction is intense; he listens like a child; and his gratitude is most touching. He, together with Jones, Woolfe, and Barry, were chosen by the commandant as a police-boat's crew; and had, up to this period, acted with great steadiness and fidelity in the discharge of the duties required from them. Nor do I think they would even now, tempting as the occasion was, have thought of seizing it, had it not been currently reported that they were shortly to be placed under a system of severity such as they had already suffered so much from.
"Woolfe's story of himself is most affecting. He entered upon evil courses when very young; was concerned in burglaries when only eleven years of age. Yet this was from no natural love of crime. Enticed from his home by boys older than himself, he soon wearied of the life he led, and longed to return to his home and his kind mother. Oftentimes he lingered near the street she lived in. Once he had been very unhappy, for he had seen his brother and sister that day pass near him, and it had rekindled all his love for them. They appeared happy in their innocence; he was miserable in his crime. He now determined to go home and pray to be forgiven. The evening was dark and wet, and as he entered the court in which his friends lived, his heart failed him, and he turned back; but, unable to resist the impulse, he again returned, and stole under the window of the room. A rent in the narrow curtain enabled him to see within. His mother sat by the fire, and her countenance was so sad, that he was sure she thought of him; but the room looked so comfortable, and the whole scene was so unlike the place in which he had lately lived, that he could no longer hesitate. He approached the door; the latch was almost in his hand, when shame and fear, and a thousand other vile and foolish notions, held him back; and the boy who in another moment might have been happy—was lost. He turned away, and I believe he has never seen them since. Going on in crime, he in due course of time was transported for robbery. His term of seven years expired in Van Diemen's Land. Released from forced servitude, he went a whaling-voyage, and was free nearly two years. Unhappily, he was then charged with aiding in a robbery, and again received a sentence of transportation. He was sent to Port Arthur, there employed as one of the boat's crew, and crossing the bay one day with a commissariat-officer, the boat was capsized by a sudden squall. In attempting to save the life of the officer, he was seized by his dying grasp, and almost perished with him; but extricating himself, he swam back to the boat. Seeing the drowning man exhausted, and sinking, he dashed forward again, diving after him, and happily succeeded in saving his life. For this honorable act, he would have received a remission of sentence; but ere it could arrive, he and five others made their escape. He had engaged with these men in the plan to seize the boat, and although sure of the success of the application in his favor, he could not now draw back. The result I have already shewn. There were two more men concerned in the mutiny, who, with those I have mentioned, and those killed on board the brig, made up the number of the boat's crew. But neither of these men came under my charge, being both Roman Catholics.
"At length the brig, which had been despatched with an account of the affair, returned, and brought the decision of the governor of New South Wales. He had found it extremely difficult, almost impossible, to obtain fitting members for the commission, who would be willing to accept the terms proposed by the government, or trust themselves in this dreadful place, and therefore he had determined that the prisoners should be sent up for trial. The men were sadly disappointed at this arrangement. They wished much to end their days here, and they dreaded both the voyage and the distracting effect of new scenes. They cling, too, with grateful attachment to the commandant's family, and the persons who, during their long imprisonment, had taken so strong an interest in their welfare. I determined to accompany them, and watch for their perseverance in well-doing, that I might counsel and strengthen them under the fearful ordeal I could not doubt they would have to pass.
"The same steady consistency marked the conduct of these men to the moment of their embarkation. There was a total absence of all excitement; one deep, serious feeling seemed to possess them, and its solemnity was communicated to all of us. They spoke and acted as men standing on the confines of the unseen world, and who not only thought of its wonders, but, better still, seemed to have caught something of its spirit and purity.
"November.—The voyage up was a weary, and, to the prisoners, a very trying one. In a prison on the lower deck of a brig of one hundred and eighty-two tons, fifty-two men were confined. The place itself was about twenty feet square, of course, low, and badly ventilated. The men were all ironed, and fastened to a heavy chain rove through iron rings let into the deck, so that they were unable, for any purpose, to move from the spot they occupied; scarcely, indeed, to lie down. The weather was also unfavorable. The vessel tossed and pitched most fearfully during a succession of violent squalls, accompanied by thunder and lightning. I cannot describe the wretchedness of these unhappy convicts; sick, and surrounded by filth, they were huddled together in the most disgusting manner. The heat was at times unbearable. There were men of sixty—quiet and inoffensive old men—placed with others who were as accomplished villains as the world could produce. These were either proceeding to Sydney, their sentences on the island having expired, or as witnesses in another case (a bold and wicked murder) sent there also for trial. The sailors on board the brig were for the most part the cowardly fellows who had so disgracefully allowed the brig to be taken from them; and they, as well as the soldiers on guard (some of them formed a part of the former one), had no very kindly feeling towards the mutineers. It may be imagined, therefore, that such feelings occasioned no alleviation of their condition. In truth, although there was no actual cruelty exhibited, they suffered many oppressive annoyances; yet I never saw more patient endurance. It was hard to bear, but their better principles prevailed. Upon the arrival of the vessel in Sydney, we learned that the case had excited an unusual interest. Crowds assembled to catch a glimpse of the men as they landed; and while some applauded their daring, the great majority very loudly expressed their horror at the crime of which they stood accused.
"I do not think it necessary to describe the trial, which took place in a few days after landing. All were arraigned except Barry. The prisoners' counsel addressed the jurors with powerful eloquence; but it was in vain: the crime was substantiated; and the jury returned a verdict of guilty against all of the prisoners, recommending Woolfe to mercy.
"During the whole trial, the prisoners' conduct was admirable; so much so, indeed, as to excite the astonishment of the immense crowd collected by curiosity to see men who had made so mad an attempt for liberty. They scarcely spoke, except once to request that the wounded man, who yet suffered much pain, might be allowed to sit down. Judgment was deferred until the following day. When they were then placed at the bar, the judge, in the usual manner, asked whether they had any reason to urge why sentence should not be pronounced upon them. It was a moment of deep solemnity; every breath was held; and the eyes of the whole court were directed towards the dock. Jones spoke in a deep, clear voice, and in a deliberate harangue pointed out some defects in the evidence, though without the slightest hope, he said, of mitigating the sentence now to be pronounced on himself and fellows. Three of the others also spoke. Whelan said, 'that he was not one of the men properly belonging to the boat's crew, but had been called upon to fill the place of another man, and had no knowledge of any intention to take the vessel, and the part he took on board was forced upon him. He was compelled to act as he had done; he had used no violence, nor was he in any way a participator in any that had been committed.' At the conclusion of the address to them, Jones, amidst the deep silence of the court, pronounced a most emphatic prayer for mercy on his own soul, and those of his fellow-prisoners, for the judge and jury, and finally for the witnesses. Sentence of death was then solemnly pronounced upon them all; but the judge informed Woolfe that he might hold out to him expectations that his life would be spared. They were then removed from the bar, and sent back to the condemned cells.
"I cannot say how much I dreaded my interview with them that day; for although I had all along endeavored to prepare their minds for the worst result, and they had themselves never for a moment appeared to expect any other than this, I feared that the realization of their sad expectation would break them down. Hitherto, there might have been some secret hope sustaining them. The convulsive clinging to life, so common to all of us, would now, perhaps, be more palpably exhibited.
"Entering their cells, I found them, as I feared, stunned by the blow which had now fallen on them, and almost overpowered by mental and bodily exhaustion. A few remarks about the trial were at length made by them; and from that moment I never heard them refer to it again. There was no bitterness of spirit against the witnesses, no expression of hostility towards the soldiers, no equivocation in any explanation they gave. They solemnly denied many of the statements made against them; but, nevertheless, the broad fact remained, that they were guilty of an attempt to violently seize the vessel, and it was useless debating on minor considerations.
"In the meantime, without their knowledge, petitions were prepared and forwarded to the judges, the governor and executive council. In them were stated various mitigatory facts in their favor; and the meliorated character of the criminal code at home was also strongly urged. Every attention was paid to these addresses, following each other to the last moment. But all was in vain. The council sat, and determined that five of the men should be hanged on the following Tuesday. Whelan, who could have no previous knowledge of a plan to seize the vessel, together with Woolfe, was spared. The remaining four were to suffer. The painful office of communicating this final intelligence to these men was intrusted to me, and they listened to the announcement not without deep feeling, but still with composure.
"It would be very painful for me to dwell on the closing scene. The unhappy and guilty men were attended by the zealous chaplain of the jail, whose earnest exhortations and instructions they most gratefully received. The light of truth shone clearly on the past, and they felt that their manifold lapses from the path of virtue had been the original cause of the complicated misery they had endured. They entreated forgiveness of all against whom they had offended, and in the last words to their friends, were uttered grateful remembrances to Captain Maconochie, his family, and others. At the place of execution, they behaved with fortitude and a composure befitting the solemnity of the occasion. Having retired from attendance upon them in their last moments, I was startled from the painful stupor which succeeded in my own mind, by the loud and heavy bound of the drop as it fell, and told me that their spirits had gone to God who gave them."
Since the foregoing narrative was written, the treatment of convicts has undergone considerable change, government having found the experiment of transporting the worse class of criminals from New South Wales to Norfolk Island to be a failure. The penal settlement was therefore broken up in 1855, and convicts are now confined in different establishments in the United Kingdom, where, without subjecting them to absolute silence or solitude, they are separated from the contaminating society of each other. Under the present system, it is a fixed principle never to allow, if at all possible, the punishment—while it may be made to any extent disagreeable—to injure either the body or the mind.
THE SOLITARY ISLANDER.
It was at the time Queen Anne began to reign, and her ships were carrying the English flag into all seas, for commerce, for discovery, or for war, when one of these vessels, called the Clinque Ports, put in to refit at the uninhabited island of Juan Fernandez, on the west coast of South America.
It was but a small island, though fertile and pleasant; it had not been tilled or planted, neither had any place of shelter been built upon it, but sometimes two or three sick sailors had been left there to recover health, and sometimes a passing ship would put in for water, and departing leave one or two of their live-stock on the island. It had thus become stocked with goats, which ran wild about the hills and craggy rocks, free from any danger of pursuit and capture.
This was not the first time that the Clinque Ports had touched at Juan Fernandez, for not long before she had left there two seamen who were unable to continue their voyage, and now she had anchored to reship these men, to take in water, and to refit for the long and perilous voyage to the English shore.
The two seamen, coming on board, told strange stories to their comrades of the pleasant life they had led on the island, of the hunt for goats, of the abundance of shell-fish, of the delicious fruits and vegetables, and of the cool waters of the place.
Of all the eager listeners to these tales of plenty and delight, there was one who never failed to fasten on each word that was said, and by constant questioning, to learn every detail of the life on the green island which lay before them. This sailor was a Scotsman, named Alexander Selkirk or Selcraig. He was of an impatient, overbearing temper, and no favorite with his captain, who was not wise enough to discern the good sense and honesty which lay hidden under his rough and uncourteous manner. Thus it chanced that the Scotch Sailor was often in trouble and disgrace, and resenting bitterly a harshness he did not think he had deserved, he began to long to leave the ship at any cost.
But perhaps the beginning of his misery and discomfort must be sought farther back in his life. His surly speech, his unsocial temper, spoke of a mind ill at ease,—the remembrance of the past made the present sad.
He had been religiously and strictly brought up by his father, a Scotch Puritan, but he had broken loose from the restraints which his parents sought to throw around him, and had led, if not a vicious, at least an irreligious life, without thought of God, or of the lessons of truth and goodness which he had been taught. Yet his conscience was not so hardened that he could be happy in this neglect of God, and he felt ill at ease, dissatisfied with himself, and with all around him.
He shrank, too, from the prospect of the voyage to England in a vessel but half repaired, exaggerating to his own mind the perils before him, and fearful of his own temper with his hard and prejudiced commander.
Weighing all these things, he determined on asking the captain to set him on shore, that he might wait at Juan Fernandez the passing of some other ship in which he might return home. The captain agreed to this proposal willingly enough, glad to dismiss from his crew so insubordinate a sailor; and just before the Clinque Ports was about to weigh anchor, the adventurous seaman was sent on shore with the few things that belonged to him. He sprang from the boat almost before her keel had grazed the sand, wishing to appear gay and brave to his companions; but no sooner did the splash of oars begin to grow faint and distant, and the faces of the boatmen indistinct as they neared the ship, than all his courage forsook him. With outstretched hands, and frantic words and gestures, he implored them to return, promising to bear everything, to risk everything, if only he might not be left alone on the lonely island. But he cried in vain; the boat reached the ship, the men climbed on board, the sails were hoisted, and there on his sea-chest, sat the lonely sailor, gazing over the wide ocean, on which nothing but the lessening speck of white on the far horizon reminded him of the existence of any human being but himself.
Days passed almost uncounted, for in his desolate misery Alexander Selkirk had but one thought left—the longing desire of rescue and return home. He valued the daylight only because by its aid he could watch for a sail on the wide, silent sea; he dreaded the coming on of the night, chiefly because it shut him off for a time from his one employment. During these dreary days or weeks he never tasted food, save when driven to look for it by pangs of sharpest hunger, and even then he would not leave the beach, but fed on shell-fish picked up on the rocks, or sometimes on the flesh of seals.
It was September when the Clinque Ports sailed, and now October had come, the middle of spring in Juan Fernandez, and, all round him, nature spoke of hope, and taught of God. But before hope could enter into Alexander's desolate heart, sorrow must come: sorrow for sin, for his disobedience to the parents whom he had made unhappy; for his reckless, godless life; for all the teachings of his youth forgotten, and for its lessons neglected. Sometimes, for a few minutes, Alexander would turn his eyes from his eager watch over the sea, and looking down, would picture instead his Scottish home. He would see clearly in his mind his venerable father, with his furrowed brow, and stern, unsmiling mouth; his mother, in her tall white cap, busied at her wheel, with a far-away, mournful look in her eyes, which told that she was thinking of her absent son. Ah! and he saw again even his poor idiot brother, to whom he had only used harsh words, and even rough blows. "I would be so different now if it should please God ever to let me see home and my dear ones again," he thought. And so has many a poor prodigal thought as he has been compelled to suffer the punishment for his sins, and found no way to escape from it.
Little by little, there grew up in his heart the purpose of beginning even now this new life. He would not wait till his return to England. In this lonely island, with half the world between him and all he loved, he would strive to be one with them in heart, and to join with them in prayer and praise. He would seek pardon for the sins of his youth for the Saviour's sake, and in His strength, begin life anew. He had a Bible with him in his chest, and he began to read it daily, and in earnest prayer to seek forgiveness and blessing; then, even in his loneliness, comfort came to him. He was no longer alone, for God was with him. He knew that God was his Father, his Helper, and his Keeper, and he grew calm, almost happy, and was even able sometimes to leave his look-out over the sea, and make little journeys into the interior of his new kingdom.
As his mind became more peaceful, he turned his thoughts to the question of a shelter from the storms of the approaching winter, which, even in that mild climate, was often accompanied with frost and snow. There were plenty of trees on the island, and with their stems and branches he soon built for himself a rough hut, which he thatched with long grass cut and dried in the sun. This attempt was so successful that he determined to build another hut at a short distance, so that he might sleep in one, and in the other, prepare his food. Now that he had once looked in the face the thought of spending the winter in the island, he grew, slowly, more reconciled to it, and began to take an interest in preparing, as far as he could, for its approach.
His huts must be furnished in some fashion; first, he brought up from the shore his sea-chest, which contained his few clothes; then he cut and fastened up a shelf on which to keep his Bible and the other books which he had brought on shore. He had with him a large cooking-pot in which to prepare his food, and a smaller drinking-can which he had brought, most likely, from home, and which bore the old-fashioned inscription, "Alexander Selkirk, this is my one." It was needful to make for himself a bed, for hitherto he had slept on the beach, so that at the first moment of opening his eyes he might begin his watch over the sea: now he must sleep in his hut.
This bed he determined to make of the skins of goats, for he had begun to hunt the wild goats for food, having by this time wearied of his diet of fish. At first he was able only to overtake and capture the young kids, for he had no gun, no bow and arrow with which to kill them at a distance; then as exercise and practice increased his strength, he found himself able to pursue and take the largest and swiftest goats, and having killed them, to carry them on his shoulders to his hut. But as goat's flesh, his principal food, could only be obtained by him while he remained in full strength and vigor, he determined to provide a store in case of illness or accident, and so, catching several young kids, he slightly lamed them, so that they could move but slowly, and then trained them to feed around his hut, and these gentle creatures, who soon learned to know him, brought some sense of companionship to the lonely man.
His life began now to have its regular duties and interests. In the morning when he rose, he sang one of the old Scotch psalms, after the practice which he had been taught from childhood, and then read aloud a chapter of the Bible, and prayed long and fervently.
Then he betook himself to light a fire by rubbing together two dry sticks till a flame was produced, and this fire he fed from time to time with branches and logs from the woods. He had also, his food to obtain and to cook—goat's flesh or cray-fish, which he boiled in his large sauce-pan; and to gather the tender tops of the cabbage-palm or other vegetables, for bread. These necessary employments finished, he would take his Bible, and, sitting in the door of his hut, or on the beach, would study it for hours, finding new truths and deeper meaning in the blessed words familiar to him from his childhood. Or he would choose one of his books on navigation, and study with a care which he had never before thought it worth while to give, hoping in this way to be a better sailor, and be able to take higher rank in the service, if it should please God to restore him once more to the duties and work of life. In this regular, peaceful, and religious life his spirits gradually recovered; nay, he became far happier than he had been since his childhood, for something of the trust and the love of a little child were restored to his heart.
He would adorn his hut with fragrant boughs, and as he fed and caressed his kids, would sing with a light heart the songs of old Scotland. Then at set of sun he returned to the hut in which he slept, and there once more sang, and read, and prayed, and so lay down to sleep in peace, because he knew that it was the Lord only that made him dwell in safety.
"I was a better Christian in my solitude than ever I was before, or than I fear I shall ever be again," he said, years after he had left the island. In this there was both truth and error. He had been led by the merciful goodness of God to repentance and to an earnest desire to escape from sin, but it was in the life among his fellows that this repentance and these new resolves—must be tested. It was in the daily little trials and crosses of a life among other men, that he must learn to subdue his proud spirit, and curb his hot temper.
Months and even years passed on, and but little happened to vary Alexander's quiet life in his island home. He had now a large number of kids around his hut, and had added to his list of favorites several tamed cats, which he needed to protect him from the troop of rats which gnawed his bed-clothes, and even nibbled at his feet as he lay asleep. He had taught the kids and cats, too, to dance, and many a merry hour he spent among these his daily companions and friends. The clothes which he had brought on shore had been long since worn out, and he had supplied their place by a cap, and trousers, and jacket, made of goat-skin. His needle was a nail, and his thread thin strips of the skin; among his stores was a piece of linen, and this too he had sewn into shirts, unravelling one of his stockings for a supply of thread. He was barefoot, and the soles of his feet had grown so hard that he could climb sharp crags, and run over the stony beach, unhurt.
Twice or thrice during these lonely years he had seen a sail approaching, but on these he looked with as much terror as hope, for should the crew prove to be Spaniards, he knew that he should be made a prisoner by them, and either put to death, or sent into hopeless slavery.
Once, indeed, the crew of a Spanish vessel, putting in for water, had caught sight of the strange figure in the goat-skin dress, and had chased him, but so swift-footed was he that he soon left his pursuers far behind, and then lay hid in terror for hours, till the vessel had departed. His life had been besides in other danger, for once while pursuing the hunt from crag to crag, in wild and delightful adventure, he had set foot on the hidden edge of a precipice: the grass which seemed to promise so fair a footing gave way beneath his feet, he fell headlong, and lay hurt and senseless below. He judged by the size of the moon, when at last he opened his eyes to consciousness, that he must have been lying stunned and helpless for more than twenty-four hours, and it was with the greatest pain and difficulty that he could drag himself to his hut, and lie down on his bed of skins. His tame favorites came about him but none of them could help him, and he was too weak to care to procure for himself food or water. But even in his great distress he did not lose his confidence in God, and he lay calm and patient, satisfied that he was safe in the care of his Heavenly Father. After many days of suffering he recovered and once more enjoyed full health and vigor.
He had been alone on Juan Fernandez for more than four years when one evening, looking out seaward before lying down in his hut, he saw the sails of an English-built vessel which was standing in very near to the shore. Alexander could not resist the sudden and strong desire which he felt, to be once more among his fellow-men, to hear once more the English speech, and feel once more the grasp of a friendly hand. Hurrying down to the beach, he piled and lighted a large bonfire, to carry a message to his fellow-countrymen, but the ship, instead of sailing shoreward, or of putting off a boat at once, tacked and went farther from the island, taking the fire to be the lights of an enemy's ship at anchor in the bay.
Alexander spent the night in hope and in doubt: he killed some goats and prepared them for food, hoping the next day to entertain some of his countrymen in his island home, and at the first dawn of day he was again on the beach, gazing at the now distant but motionless ship.
Those on board were also keeping an anxious watch, but when morning light showed them that there was no other ship near, the captain determined to send a boat on shore to discover the cause of the strange light which they had seen the night before. As they approached the island they saw a strange figure running to meet them, and by gestures and shouts pointing out the best place for landing. Alexander, with his long beard, his tanned complexion, his goat-skin dress, had lost almost all outward resemblance to a civilized man, and they wondered much who this friendly and solitary savage might be.
But who can describe his joy when he heard once more the speech of his own country, and looked on the faces of his kind. He welcomed his visitors in the best English he could remember, for even his speech was half forgotten, and led them to his hut to partake of the banquet he had prepared.
Yet in the midst of all his joy he could hardly determine to leave his beloved island, so accustomed had he grown to solitude, and to his wild, uncontrolled life. At length the remembrance of his aged parents, and of his friends at home, made him determine to ask a passage in the ship which had touched on his island shore, and the captain, finding how much he had learnt of seamanship and navigation, offered to rate him as mate. And thus Juan Fernandez was left once more in utter solitude, and Selkirk, gazing from the ship's deck, saw its green hills and pleasant coasts disappear in the distance, as he left the island and all its sad, its sacred, its happy memories forever. He soon grew tired of the society of men, and when not busy about the ship, would always seek to be alone, dreaming of the life which he had left. He found it hard, too, to accustom himself to the salt meat and biscuits which were sailors' fare, and to the dress and boots in which he must now appear. Soon every other thought was lost in his longing desire to see once more his parents and his home, for the shores of England were in sight. It was on a Sunday morning that the wanderer entered once more his native village, where all seemed quiet and unchanged. He did not turn his steps to his father's cottage, for his parents, as he well knew, would be at the kirk, and there would he look on their faces once more. Would they recognize, he asked himself, in the strong and bearded man, the youth who had left them years ago for the life of adventure which he loved best? Would they know the fine gentleman in gold lace and embroidery to be their son Alexander, their lost sailor lad. Pondering such thoughts as these, he walked on almost unconsciously. How well he knew every step of his way! In this farmhouse, his sister and her husband used to live; there was the wood where he had so often gathered nuts, or climbed for birds' nests with his boyish companions; there, its thatched roof more lichen-covered than of old, stood his father's cottage, at the door of which years ago he had kissed his mother for the last time—ah! was she still alive to welcome the returning wanderer?
Seated in the kirk among unfamiliar faces, his eyes sought at once the well-known corner where, as a boy, he had been used to sit, and with an almost overwhelming rush of thankfulness and joy he saw once more his mother's face, the same, yet changed, its added wrinkles and silvered hair telling, perhaps, of many tears and long sorrow for her lost sailor son.
There sat his father, too, the portly, respectable-looking elder, in blue cap and coat of homespun tweed. In vain did Alexander seek to join in the psalm or prayer, his looks and thoughts were ever wandering; and he was not alone in this, for the dark eyes of his old mother turned continually with an eager, inquiring gaze to the grand stranger gentleman, strange yet so familiar. Then her eyes were cast down once more on her book, as she tried to give heed to the service, till at last a sudden smile which lit up Alexander's face, showed her that she saw before her the son for whom she had longed and prayed, whom no doubt she had before this counted as among the dead. In her sudden joy the old woman forgot all else, and rising, rushed towards the place where the returned wanderer was seated.
The whole family, with Alexander in their midst, now made their way out of the kirk, and returned home to talk of the great deliverance which God had given to their lost kinsman.
On this true story of Selkirk was founded the tale of the Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.
CAPTAIN COOK'S LAST VOYAGE.
The discovery of a supposed north-west passage from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific Oceans, had for many years been ardently sought for, both by the English and the Dutch. Frobisher, in 1576, made the first attempt, and his example was in succeeding times followed by many others. But though much geographical information had been gained in the neighborhood of Hudson's Bay, Davis' Strait, Baffin's Bay, and the coast of Greenland, yet no channel whatever was found. By act of parliament, L20,000 was offered to the successful individual. But though Captain Middleton, in 1741, and Captains Smith and Moore, in 1746, explored those seas and regions, the object remained unattained. The Honorable Captain Phipps (afterwards Earl Mulgrave) was sent out in the Racehorse, accompanied by Captain Lutwidge, in the Carcase (Lord Nelson was a boy in this latter ship), to make observations, and to penetrate as far as it was practicable to do so. They sailed June 2, 1773, and made Spitzbergen on the 28th; but after great exertions, they found the ice to the northward utterly impenetrable. Once they became closely jammed, and it was only with great difficulty they escaped destruction. On August 22, finding it impossible to get further to the northward, eastward, or westward, they made sail, according to their instructions, for England, and arrived off Shetland on September 7.
Notwithstanding these numerous failures, the idea of an existing passage was still cherished; and Earl Sandwich continuing at the head of the Admiralty, resolved that a further trial should be made, and Captain Cook offered his services to undertake it. They were gladly accepted, and on February 10, 1776, he was appointed to command the expedition in his old, but hardy ship, the Resolution, and Captain Clerke, in the Discovery, was ordered to attend him. In this instance, however, the mode of experiment was to be reversed, and instead of attempting the former routes by Davis' Strait or Baffin's Bay, etc., Cook, at his own request, was instructed to proceed into the South Pacific, and thence to try the passage by the way of Behring's Strait; and as it was necessary that the islands in the Southern Ocean should be revisited, cattle and sheep, with other animals, and all kinds of seeds, were shipped for the advantage of the natives.
Every preparation having been made, the Resolution quitted Plymouth on July 12, taking Omai, the native, from the Society Isles. Having touched at Teneriffe, they crossed the equator September 1, and reached the Cape on October 18, where the Discovery joined them on November 10.
The ships sailed again on November 30, and encountered heavy gales, in which several sheep and goats died. On December 12 they saw two large islands, which Cook named Prince Edward's Islands; and three days afterwards several others were seen; but having made Kerguelen's Land, they anchored in a convenient harbor on Christmas day. On the north side of this harbor one of the men found a quart bottle fastened to a projecting rock by stout wire, and on opening it, the bottle was found to contain a piece of parchment, on which was an inscription purporting that the land had been visited by a French vessel in 1772-3. To this Cook added a notice of his own visit; the parchment was then returned to the bottle, and the cork being secured with lead, was placed upon a pile of stones near to the place from which it had been removed. The whole country was extremely barren and desolate, and on the 30th they came to the eastern extremity of Kerguelen's Land.
On January 24, 1777, they came in sight of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), and on the 26th anchored in Adventure Bay, where intercourse was opened with the natives, and Omai took every opportunity of lauding the great superiority of his friends, the English. Here they obtained plenty of grass for the remaining cattle, and a supply of fresh provisions for themselves. On the 30th they quitted their port, convinced that Van Diemen's Land was the southern point of New Holland. Subsequent investigations, however, have proved this idea to be erroneous, Van Diemen's Land being an island separated from the mainland of Australia by Bass's Strait.
On February 12, Captain Cook anchored at his old station in Queen Charlotte's Sound, New Zealand; but the natives were very shy in approaching the ships, and none could be persuaded to come on board. The reason was, that on the former voyages, after parting with the Resolution, the Adventure had visited this place, and ten of her crew had been killed in an unpremeditated skirmish with the natives. It was the fear of retaliatory punishment that kept them aloof. Captain Cook, however, soon made them easy upon the subject, and their familiarity was renewed; but great caution was used, to be fully prepared for a similar attack, by keeping the men well-armed on all occasions. Of the animals left at this island in the former voyages, many were thriving; and the gardens, though left in a state of nature, were found to contain cabbages, onions, leeks, radishes, mustard, and a few potatoes. The captain was enabled to add to both. At the solicitation of Omai, he received two New Zealand lads on board the Resolution, and by the 27th was clear of the coast.
After landing at a number of islands, and not finding adequate supplies, the ships sailed for Anamocka, and the Resolution was brought up in exactly the same anchorage that she had occupied three years before. The natives behaved in a most friendly manner, and but for their habits of stealing, quiet would have been uninterrupted. Nothing, however, could check this propensity, till Captain Cook shaved the heads of all whom he caught practicing it. This rendered them an object of ridicule to their countrymen, and enabled the English to recognize and keep them at a distance. Most of the Friendly Isles were visited by the ships, and everywhere they met with a kind reception. On June 10 they reached Tongataboo, where the King offered Captain Cook his house to reside in. Here he made a distribution of animals amongst the chiefs, and the importance of preserving them was explained by Omai. Two kids and two turkey-cocks having been stolen, the captain seized three canoes, put a guard over the chiefs, and insisted that not only the kids and turkeys should be restored, but also everything that had been taken away since their arrival. This produced a good effect, and much of the plunder was returned.
Captain Cook remained at the Friendly Islands nearly three months, and lived almost entirely during that period upon fresh provisions, occasionally eating the produce of the seeds he had sown there in his former visits. On July 17, they took their final leave of these hospitable people, and on August 12 reached Otaheite, and took up a berth in Oaiti-piha Bay, which, it was discovered, had been visited by two Spanish ships since the Resolution had last been there.
Animals of various kinds had been left in the country by the Spaniards, and the islanders spoke of them with esteem and respect. On the 24th the ships went round to Matavai Bay, and Captain Cook presented to the king, Otoo, the remainder of his live stock.
They here witnessed a human sacrifice, to propitiate the favor of their gods in a battle they were about to undertake. The victim was generally some strolling vagabond, who was not aware of his fate till the moment arrived, and he received his death-blow from a club. For the purpose of showing the inhabitants the use of the horses, Captains Cook and Clerke rode into the country, to the great astonishment of the islanders; and though this exercise was continued every day by some of the Resolution's people, yet the wonder of the natives never abated.
On the return of Omai to the land of his birth, the reception he met with was not very cordial; but the affection of his relatives was strong and ardent. Captain Cook obtained the grant of a piece of land for him on the west side of Owharre harbor, Huaheine. The carpenters of the ships built him a small house, to which a garden was attached, planted with shaddocks, vines, pineapples, melons, etc., and a variety of vegetables, the whole of which were thriving before Captain Cook quitted the island. When the house was finished, the presents Omai had received in England were carried ashore, with every article necessary for domestic purposes, as well as two muskets, a bayonet, a brace of pistols, etc.
The two lads brought from New Zealand were put on shore at this place, to form part of Omai's family; but it was with great reluctance that they quitted the voyagers, who had behaved so kindly to them.
Whilst lying at Huaheine, a thief, who had caused them great trouble, not only had his head and beard shaved, but, in order to deter others, both his ears were cut off. On November 3, the ships went to Ulietea, and here, decoyed by the natives, two or three desertions took place; and as others seemed inclined to follow the example, Captain Clerke pursued the fugitives with two-armed boats and a party of marines, but without effect. Captain Cook experienced a similar failure; he therefore seized upon the persons of the chief's son, daughter, and son-in-law, whom he placed under confinement till the people should be restored, which took place on the 28th, and the hostages were released. One of the deserters was a midshipman of the Discovery, and the son of a brave officer in the service. Schemes were projected by some of the natives to assassinate Captain Cook and Captain Clerke; but though in imminent danger, the murderous plans failed.
At Bolabola, Captain Cook succeeded in obtaining an anchor which had been left there by M. Bougainville, as he was very desirous of converting the iron into articles of traffic. They left this place on December 8, crossed the line, and on the 24th stopped at a small island, which he named Christmas Island, and where he planted cocoa-nuts, yams, and melon seeds, and left a bottle enclosing a suitable inscription.
On January 2, 1778, the ships resumed their voyage northward, to pursue the grand object in Behring's Strait. They passed several islands, the inhabitants of which, though at a great distance from Otaheite, spoke the same language. Those who came on board displayed the utmost astonishment at everything they beheld, and it was evident they had never seen a ship before. The disposition to steal was equally strong in these as in the other South Sea islanders, and a man was killed who tried to plunder the watering-party, but this was not known to Captain Cook till after they had sailed. They also discovered that the practice of eating human flesh was prevalent. To a group of these islands (and they were generally found in clusters) Captain Cook gave the name of the Sandwich Islands, in honor of the noble earl at the head of the Admiralty.
The voyage to the northward was continued on February 2, and the long-looked-for coast of New Albion was made on March 7; the ships, after sailing along it till the 29th, came to anchor in a small cove. A brisk trade commenced with the natives, who appeared to be well acquainted with the value of iron, for which they exchanged the skins of various animals, such as bears, wolves, foxes, deer, etc., both in their original state and made up into garments. But the most extraordinary articles were human skulls, and hands not quite stripped of the flesh, and which had the appearance of having been recently on the fire. Thieving was practiced at this place in a more scientific manner than they had before remarked; and the natives insisted upon being paid for the wood and other things supplied to the ships, with which Captain Cook scrupulously complied. This inlet was named King George's Sound, but it was afterwards ascertained that the natives called it Nootka Sound. After making every requisite nautical observation, the ships being again ready for sea on the 26th, in the evening they departed, a severe gale of wind blowing them away from the shore. From this period they examined the coast, under a hope of finding some communication with the Polar Sea; one river they traced a long distance, which was afterwards named Cook's River.
They left this place June 6, but notwithstanding all their watchfulness and vigilance, no passage could be found. The ships ranged across the mouth of the strait. The natives of the islands, by their manners, gave evident tokens of their being acquainted with Europeans—most probably Russian traders. They put in at Oonalaska and other places, which were taken possession of in the name of the King of England. On August 3, Mr. Anderson, surgeon of the Resolution, died from a lingering consumption, under which he had been suffering more than twelve months. He was a young man of considerable ability, and possessed an amiable disposition.
Proceeding to the northward, Captain Cook ascertained the relative position of the two continents, Asia and America, whose extremities he observed. On the 18th they were close to a dense wall of ice, beyond which they could not penetrate. The ice here was from ten to twelve feet high, and seemed to rise higher in the distance. A prodigious number of sea-horses were crouching on the ice, some of which were procured for food. Captain Cook continued to traverse these icy seas till the 29th. He then explored the coasts in Behring's Strait both in Asia and America; and on October 2 again anchored at Oonalaska to refit; and here they had communication with some Russians, who undertook to convey charts and maps, etc., to the English Admiralty, which they faithfully fulfilled. On the 26th the ships quitted the harbor of Samganoodah, and sailed for the Sandwich Islands, Captain Cook purposing to remain there a few months, and then return to Kamtschatka. The island of Mowee was discovered on November 26; and on the 30th they fell in with another, called by the natives Owyhee (now Hawaii); and being of large extent, the ships were occupied nearly seven weeks in sailing round it, and examining the coast; and they found the islanders more frank and free from suspicion than any they had yet had intercourse with; so that on January 16, 1779, there were not fewer than a thousand canoes about the two ships, most of them crowded with people, and well-laden with hogs and other productions of the place. A robbery having been committed, Captain Cook ordered a volley of musketry and four great guns to be fired over the canoe that contained the thief; but this seemed only to astonish the natives, without creating any great alarm. On the 17th the ships anchored in a bay called by the islanders, Karakakooa. The natives constantly thronged to the ships, whose decks, consequently, being at all times crowded, allowed of pilfering without fear of detection; and these practices, it is conjectured, were encouraged by the chiefs. A great number of the hogs purchased were killed and salted down so completely, that some of the pork was good at Christmas, 1780. On the 26th, Captain Cook had an interview with Terreeoboo, King of the islands, in which great formality was observed, and an exchange of presents took place, as well as an exchange of names. The natives were extremely respectful to Cook; in fact, they paid him a sort of adoration, prostrating themselves before him; and a society of priests furnished the ships with a constant supply of hogs and vegetables, without requiring any return. On February 3, the day previous to the ships sailing, the King presented them with a quantity of cloth, many boat-loads of vegetables, and a whole herd of hogs. The ships sailed on the following day, but on the 6th encountered a very heavy gale, in which, on the night of the 7th, the Resolution sprung the head of her foremast in such a dangerous manner, that they were forced to put back to Karakakooa Bay, in order to get it repaired. Here they anchored on the morning of the 11th, and everything for a time promised to go well in their intercourse with the natives. The friendliness manifested by the chiefs, however, was far from solid. They were savages at a low point of cultivation, and theft and murder were not considered by them in the light of crimes. Cook, aware of the nature of these barbarians, was anxious to avoid any collision, and it was with no small regret that he found that an affray had taken place between some seamen and the natives. The cause of the disturbance was the seizure of the cutter of the Discovery as it lay at anchor. The boats of both ships were sent in search of her, and Captain Cook went on shore to prosecute the inquiry, and, if necessary, to seize the person of the King, who had sanctioned the theft.
The narrative of what ensued is affectingly tragical. Cook left the Resolution about seven o'clock, attended by the lieutenant of marines, a sergeant, a corporal, and seven private men. The pinnace's crew were likewise armed, and under the command of Mr. Roberts; the launch was also ordered to assist his own boat. He landed with the marines at the upper end of the town of Kavoroah, where the natives received him with their accustomed tokens of respect, and not the smallest sign of hostility was evinced by any of them; and as the crowds increased, the chiefs employed themselves as before, in keeping order. Captain Cook requested the King to go on board the Resolution with him, to which he offered few objections; but in a little time it was observed that the natives were arming themselves with long spears, clubs, and daggers, and putting on the thick mats which they used by way of armor. This hostile appearance was increased by the arrival of a canoe from the opposite side of the bay, announcing that one of the chiefs had been killed by a shot from the Discovery's boat. The women, who had been conversing familiarly with the English, immediately retired, and loud murmurs arose amongst the crowd. Captain Cook, perceiving the tumultuous proceedings of the natives, ordered Lieutenant Middleton to march his marines down to the boats, to which the islanders offered no obstruction. The captain followed with the king, attended by his wife, two sons, and several chiefs. One of the sons had already entered the pinnace, expecting his father to follow, when the king's wife and others hung round his neck, and forced him to be seated near a double canoe, assuring him that he would be put to death if he went on board the ship.
Whilst matters were in this position, one of the chiefs was seen with a dagger partly concealed under his cloak, lurking about Captain Cook, and the lieutenant of marines proposed to fire at him; but this the captain would not permit; but the chief closing upon them, the officer of marines struck him with his firelock. Another native, grasping the sergeant's musket, was forced to let it go by a blow from the lieutenant. Captain Cook, seeing the tumult was increasing, observed, that "if he were to force the king off, it could only be done by sacrificing the lives of many of his people;" and was about to give orders to re-embark, when a man flung a stone at him, which he returned by discharging small-shot from one of the barrels of his piece. The man was but little hurt; and brandishing his spear, with threatenings to hurl it at the captain, the latter, unwilling to fire with ball, knocked the fellow down, and then warmly expostulated with the crowd for their hostile conduct. At this moment a man was observed behind a double canoe, in the act of darting a spear at Captain Cook, who promptly fired, but killed another who was standing by his side. The sergeant of marines, however, instantly presented, and brought down the native whom the captain had missed. The impetuosity of the islanders was somewhat repressed; but being pushed on by those in the rear, who were ignorant of what was passing in front, a volley of stones was poured in amongst the marines, who, without waiting for orders, returned it with a general discharge of musketry, which was directly succeeded by a brisk fire from the boats. Captain Cook expressed much surprise and vexation; he waved his hand for the boats to cease firing, and to come on shore to embark the marines. The pinnace unhesitatingly obeyed; but the lieutenant in the launch, instead of pulling in to the assistance of his commander, rowed further off at the very moment that the services of himself and people were most required. Nor was this all the mischief that ensued; for, as it devolved upon the pinnace to receive the marines, she became so crowded, as to render the men incapable of using their fire-arms. The marines on shore, however, fired; but the moment their pieces were discharged, the islanders rushed en masse upon them, forced the party into the water, where four of them were killed, and the lieutenant wounded. At this critical period Captain Cook was left entirely alone upon a rock near the shore. He, however, hurried towards the pinnace, holding his left arm round the back of his head, to shield it from the stones, and carrying his musket under his right. An islander, armed with a club, was seen in a crouching posture cautiously following him, as if watching for an opportunity to spring forward upon his victim. This man was a relation of the king's, and remarkably agile and quick. At length, he jumped forward upon the captain, and struck him a heavy blow on the back of his head, and then turned and fled. The captain appeared to be somewhat stunned: he staggered a few paces, and, dropping his musket, fell on his hands and one knee; but whilst striving to recover his upright position, another islander rushed forward, and with an iron dagger stabbed him in the neck. He again made an effort to proceed, but fell into a small pool of water not more than knee-deep, and numbers instantly ran to the spot, and endeavored to keep him down; but by his struggles he was enabled to get his head above the surface, and casting a look towards the pinnace (then not more than five or six yards distant), seemed to be imploring assistance. It is asserted that, in consequence of the crowded state of the pinnace, (through the withdrawal of the launch), the crew of the boat were unable to render any aid; but it is also probable that the emergency of this unexpected catastrophe deprived the English of that cool judgment which was requisite on such an occasion. The islanders, perceiving that no help was afforded, forced him under water again, but in a deeper place; yet his great muscular power once more enabled him to raise himself and cling to the rock. At this moment a forcible blow was given with a club, and he fell down lifeless. The savages then hauled his corpse upon the rock, and ferociously stabbed the body all over, snatching the dagger from each others' hands to wreak their sanguinary vengeance on the slain. The body was left some time exposed upon the rock; and as the islanders gave way, through terror at their own act and the fire from the boats, it might have been recovered entire. But no attempt of the kind was made; and it was afterwards, together with the marines, cut up, and the parts distributed amongst the chiefs. The mutilated fragments were subsequently restored, and committed to the deep with all the honors due to the rank of the deceased. Thus, February 14, 1779, perished in an inglorious brawl with a set of savages, one of England's greatest navigators, whose services to science have never been surpassed by any man belonging to his profession. It may almost be said that he fell a victim to his humanity; for if, instead of retreating before his barbarous pursuers, with a view to spare their lives, he had turned revengefully upon them, his fate might have been very different.
The death of their commander was felt to be a heavy blow by the officers and seamen of the expedition. With deep sorrow the ships' companies left Owyhee, where the catastrophe had occurred, the command of the Resolution devolving on Captain Clerke, and Mr. Gore acting as commander of the Discovery. After making some further exploratory searches among the Sandwich Islands, the vessels visited Kamtschatka and Behring's Strait. Here it was found impossible to penetrate through the ice either on the coast of America or that of Asia, so that they returned to the southward; and on August 22, 1779, Captain Clerke died of consumption, and was succeeded by Captain Gore, who, in his turn, gave Lieutenant King an acting order in the Discovery. After a second visit to Kamtschatka, the two ships returned by way of China, remained some time at Canton, touched at the Cape, and arrived at the Nore, October 4, 1780, after an absence of four years, two months, and twenty-two days, during which the Resolution lost only five men by sickness, and the Discovery did not lose a single man.
By this, as well as the preceding voyages of Cook, a considerable addition was made to a knowledge of the earth's surface. Besides clearing up doubts respecting the Southern Ocean, and making known many islands in the Pacific, the navigator did an inestimable service to his country in visiting the coasts of New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land, New Zealand, and Norfolk Island—all now colonial possessions of Britain, and rapidly becoming the seat of a large and flourishing nation of Anglo-Australians—the England of the southern hemisphere.
The intelligence of Captain Cook's death was received with melancholy regrets in England. The king granted a pension of L200 per annum to his widow, and L25 per annum to each of the children; the Royal Society had a gold medal struck in commemoration of him; and various other honors at home and abroad were paid to his memory.
"Thus, by his own persevering efforts," as has been well observed by the author of the 'Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties,' "did this great man raise himself from the lowest obscurity to a reputation wide as the world itself, and certain to last as long as the age in which he flourished shall be remembered by history. But better still than even all this fame—than either the honors which he received while living, or those which, when he was no more, his country and mankind bestowed upon his memory—he had exalted himself in the scale of moral and intellectual being; had won a new and nobler nature, and taken a high place among the instructors and benefactors of mankind."
Honor and fame are not to be achieved by seeking for them alone, nor are their possession the end and aim of human existence. It is only by an unwearied striving after a new and nobler nature; only by being useful to our fellows, and making the most of those qualities of mind which God has given us, that happiness is to be attained, or that we fulfill the ends of our being.
SIX MONTHS AT MRS. PRIOR'S. By Emily Adams. Illustrated. Boston: D. Lothrop & Co. $1.25.
"In this fresh little story, which is addressed especially to young girls, the author tries to impress the lesson that the disagreeable and annoying duties of life may be made pleasant by accepting them as inevitable, and asking help from above. Mrs. Prior is the widow of a clergyman, and has been left with five little ones to support. She discharges her servant, and divides the lighter duties of the household between herself and the two eldest of her children, Minnie and Helen. Unaccustomed to any thing but study and play, the girls find it very hard to have their old time appointments for enjoyment circumscribed, and complain bitterly at first. The book gives a history of their experience, and shows how the work that was so irksome at first became in the end a source of pleasure and means of healthful discipline.
"Six Months at Mrs. Prior's" is a sweet story of womanly tact combined with Christian trust. A widow, with scanty means, makes a home happy for a group of children, restless, wayward and aspiring, like many American children of our day. The mother's love holds them, her thrift cares for them, her firmness restrains, and her christian words and life win them to noble aims and living. The influence of the christian household is widely felt, and the quiet transforming leaven works in many homes. We can't have too many books of this kind in the family or Sunday-school."
MISS PRICILLA HUNTER, by Pansy, opens a new view for that charming writer, but one eminently popular at the present time. It deals with the payment of a church debt, and shows how an humble woman, with a Christian character which gave power to her words, raised the money to pay off a debt which had long been a hindrance to church growth and to Christian benevolence. Why she did it, and how she did it, is told in Pansy's best fashion: her encounters with crabbed folks, and stingy folks, and folks determined not to give to the church debt, are highly amusing, as well as her devices to get something from everybody.
YENSIE WALTON. By Mrs. S. R. Graham Clark. Boston: D. Lothrop & Co. $1.50.
Of the many good books which the Messrs. Lothrop have prepared for the shelves of Sunday-school libraries, "Yensie Walton" is one of the best. It is a sweet, pure story of girl life, quiet as the flow of a brook, and yet of sufficient interest to hold the attention of the most careless reader. Yensie is an orphan, who has found a home with an uncle, a farmer, some distance from the city. Her aunt, a coarse, vulgar woman, and a tyrant in the household, does her best to humiliate her by making her a domestic drudge, taking away her good clothing and exchanging it for coarse, ill-filling garments, and scolding her from morning till night. This treatment develops a spirit of resistance; the mild and affectionate little girl becomes passionate and disobedient, and the house is the scene of continual quarrels. Fortunately, her uncle insists upon her attending school, and in the teacher, Miss Gray, she finds her first real friend. In making her acquaintance a new life begins for her. She is brought in contact with new and better influences, and profiting by them becomes in time a sunbeam in her uncle's house, and the means of softening the heart and quieting the tongue of the aunt who was once her terror and dread. Mrs. Clark has a very pleasing style, and is especially skilful in the construction of her stories.
"Yensie Walton" is a story of great power, by a new author. It aims to show that God uses a stern discipline to form the noblest characters, and that the greatest trials of life often prove the greatest blessings. The story is subordinate to this moral aim, and the earnestness of the author breaks out into occasional preaching. But the story is full of striking incident and scenes of great pathos, with occasional gleams of humor and fun by way of relief to the more tragic parts of the narrative. The characters are strongly drawn, and, in general, are thoroughly human, not gifted with impossible perfections, but having those infirmities of the flesh which make us all akin.
JOHNNY'S VACATIONS AND OTHER STORIES. By Mary E. N. Hathaway. Boston: D. Lothrop & Co. $1.00.
Few more entertaining stories for small boys have lately made their appearance than Johnny's Vacations. The author seems to have had experience with boys and tells in a charmingly natural manner the story of a vacation spent on a farm by one of them, Johnny Stephens by name. In addition there are six shorter stories, in which the girls will be as deeply interested as the boys. Among them are "The Doll's Party," "Biddy and her Chickens," "The Wild Goose," and "Pansy's Visit."
ROYAL LOWRIE. A Boy's Book. By Magnus Merriweather. D. Lothrop & Co., Boston. With eleven illustrations by Hopkins. 16mo. Price, $1.25.
Despite the efforts of publishers, a brilliant book for boys is a rara avis; therefore "Royal Lowrie" is likely to be appreciated by all lively boys between twelve and forty. While in literary finish the book ranks with the best novels of the day, the characters are the boys and girls of our modern High Schools. The plot is of breathless interest, but of such a character that we will warrant when the general mystification is dispersed no reader will feel like ever undertaking to seem what he is not. The humiliation which at last overtakes Royal Lowrie and Archer Bishop is so very thorough that the two gay, thoughtless fellows, in the language of the American Bookseller, "resolve in future to be wholly true, even in little things. Royal Lowrie is an especially engaging rattlepate, and we do not wonder that he wins forgiveness on all sides."
Although it is an irresistibly humorous story of high-spirited boys and girls, the book is calculated to exert as strong a restraining influence as any volume which will be found in our Sunday-school Libraries.
We copy the following from The American Bookseller, New York:
Few people can have failed to notice the great enterprise, if they have not observed the scrupulous care with which Messrs. D. Lothrop & Co. have published a class of books adapted to the highest culture of the people.
It is only ten years since they commenced the work of publishing, and their list now numbers more than six hundred volumes.
We are glad to make record, that brave and persistent following of a high ideal has been successful.
Messrs. D. Lothrop & Co. have given special attention to the publication of books for children and youths, rightly considering that in no department is the best, as regards literary excellence and purity of moral and religious reading, of so great importance. Yet the names of works by such authors as Austin Phelps, D.D., Francis Wayland, and Dr. Nehemiah Adams on their catalogue, will show that maturer readers have not been uncared for.
Of their work projected for the coming season, we have not room to speak in detail; it will suffice for the present to say that it is wide in range, including substantial and elegantly illustrated books, all in the line of the practical and useful, and fresh in character and treatment.
Their two juvenile magazines, Wide Awake and Babyland, are warmly welcomed in every part of the English-speaking world.
We advise any of our readers who desire to know more about these publications, to send to D. Lothrop & Co., Boston, for an illustrated catalogue.
All who visit their establishment, corner of Franklin and Hawley streets, will not only be courteously welcomed and entertained, but will have the pleasure of seeing one of the most spacious and attractive bookstores in the country.
BABY BUNTING. Short Stories with Bright Pictures. By the Best American Authors. Boston: D. Lothrop & Co. Price, $1.00.
Baby Bunting is a beautiful quarto with one of the most attractive outsides we have seen for a long time. It is made up of choice stories adapted to the reading of children from four to eight years of age. They are all short, few of them being over a page in length, and each is accompanied by a full page engraving. It is just the kind of book that ought to be popular, and undoubtedly will be.
YOUNG FOLKS' HISTORY OF GERMANY. By Charlotte M. Yonge. Boston: D. Lothrop & Co. Price, $1.50.
This handsome volume is the first of a series, which will include the principal countries of Europe, the succeeding numbers of which will appear at brief intervals. Miss Yonge, whose talents have been exerted in various directions for the benefit of young readers, has been peculiarly successful in this series, which has had a very large sale in Europe, and deserves a like popularity here. It covers not only the entire period of German civilization down to the present time, but it gives an account of ancient Germany and its inhabitants in times which might almost be called pre-historic. The first chapters are explanatory of the German mythology, and of the ancient methods of worship. The Nibelungen Lied is described and its story told. The real history begins about the year 496 A.D., at a time when the Franks were the victorious race in Europe. From that time down to the beginning of the present year the record is continuous. The volume is profusely illustrated.
HAPPY MOODS OF HAPPY CHILDREN. Original Poems. By favorite American authors. Boston: D. Lothrop & Co. Price $1.00.
We venture to say that no publishing house in the country will issue this season anything choicer in the way of a presentation book of poems than this charming volume. The poems it contains were written expressly for Mr. Lothrop, and have never before been brought together in collected form. Among the authors represented are Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Clara Doty Bates, Margaret G. Preston, Ella Farman, Mrs. Platt, Harriet McEwen Kimball, Mary A. Lathbury, Nora Perry, Mrs. L. C. Whiton, Celia Thaxter, Edgar Fawcett, and many others. Although the volume is ostensibly preferred for children, it is one which grown-up people will equally enjoy. There are a score or more of illustrations, most of them full-page, exquisitely drawn and engraved.
FOUR GIRLS AT CHAUTAUQUA. By Pansy. 12mo. Illustrated $1 50
The most fascinating "watering-place" story ever published. Four friends, each a brilliant girl in her way, tired of Saratoga and Newport, try a fortnight at the new summer resort on Chautauqua Lake, choosing the time when the National Sunday-school Assembly is in camp. Rev. Drs. Vincent, Deems, Cuyler, Edward, Eggleston, Mrs. Emily Huntington Miller, move prominently through the story.
HOUSEHOLD PUZZLES. By Pansy. 12mo. Illustrated 1 50
How to make one dollar do the work of five. A family of beautiful girls seek to solve this "puzzle." Piquant, humorous, but written with an intense purpose.