On another occasion a native seized a musket from one of the sentinels and made off with it. He was seen, however, by one of the chiefs, and his prize restored. On the following day the chief brought a quantity of cocoa-nuts tied up in bundles, but on opening them it was found that they were empty. The chief did not seem disconcerted, but acknowledged, after opening two or three himself, that the inside had been extracted. He afterwards, to make amends, sent off a quantity of plantains and bananas.
After an interview with the King Waheatoua, whom Cook had formerly known under the name of Tearee, the ships sailed for Matavia Bay. Before they anchored, a large number of natives came off. Among them was the King Otoo. Next day Captain Cook and some of his officers set off to visit him. He was found seated on the ground under the shade of a tree, with a large crowd round him, all standing with bare heads and shoulders in mark of respect. Captain Cook having given the presents he had brought, King Otoo inquired for Tupia and for several officers who had been on board the Endeavour. Afterwards coming on board, when, entering the cabin, several of the chiefs who had been there before, uncovered their shoulders, although they showed no other mark of respect. He took an especial fancy to the bagpipes. In return for the civilities he had received, he entertained the voyagers with a dramatic performance, in which his sister, elegantly dressed in a robe of feathers, took part.
Leaving this place, the ships anchored in the harbour of Owharre, in the island of Huaheine. Abundance of provisions were exchanged, and the chief Oree, who had on Cook's former voyage exchanged names with him, was still living, and now seemed greatly rejoiced to see him again. Friendly intercourse was maintained with the people. Notwithstanding this, Mr Sparrmann, one day while wandering in the woods, was robbed of his clothes and hanger. Oree, on hearing of it, shed tears, and by his personal exertions recovered most of the articles.
From this island Captain Furneaux received on board his ship a young man named Omai, who was anxious to accompany him; but he was not a chief, and was inferior in figure, complexion, and manners to most of them.
Ulietea was also visited. Here also a friendly intercourse was kept up with the natives. Captain Cook, who had before praised the inhabitants of these islands greatly, now discovered many of their horrible habits and customs; among others he found that human sacrifices were offered up at their Morais, the victims frequently being persons to whom the priests had taken a dislike, and who, unsuspicious of their intended fate, were knocked on the head.
After leaving the Society Islands, Cook steered west for Middleburg and Amsterdam, discovered by Tasman. At the first island the explorers met with an enthusiastic reception. The chief conducted the officers to his dwelling, which was built near the shore at the head of a fine lawn, under the shade of some shaddock-trees, in a most delightful situation. Here they were entertained and invited to join in a kava feast. Cook was the only person who ventured to taste the beverage.
Leaving this island, they steered for Amsterdam or Tonga Taboo. The natives welcomed them with white flags. When Cook landed, their chief Attago conducted him over part of the country; and so fair was its aspect, that he could fancy himself transported into the most fertile plains of Europe; not a spot of waste ground was to be seen. Fences were often formed of useful plants, and the road occupied as little space as possible. In other places the inhabitants resembled those of the Society Islands.
As it was now time to prosecute his researches in high southern latitudes, he sailed on the 7th of October, and having sighted Pilstart, he on the 21st descried the land of New Zealand, though, owing to contrary winds, he did not reach Queen Charlotte's Sound until the 3rd of November, having in the meantime lost sight of the Adventure. He here remained three or four weeks, waiting for her appearance, and then sailed in the hopes of completing the circle round the pole in a high latitude.
This was a most dreary part of his voyage. Immense masses of ice were seen, and occasionally the antarctic petrels, grey albatrosses, and some other birds; but there were few other objects of interest to amuse the minds of the crew. Often the ship was in great peril from icebergs. At one time no less than ninety-seven were seen within a field of ice, besides a number outside, many of them very large, and looking like a range of mountains rising one above another until they were lost sight of in the clouds. The outer or northern edge of this field was composed of loose or broken ice, so closely packed together that it was impossible for the ship to enter it. Since therefore he could not proceed farther to the south, he determined to stand back in search of a more genial clime. Many of his crew were suffering, and he himself was seized with so dangerous an illness that his life was despaired of. Unable to leave his cabin, Mr Cooper, his first officer, took charge of the ship. When he began to recover, a favourite dog, belonging to Mr Forster, was killed to supply him with fresh meat and broth.
The first land made was Easter Island, which had been in vain looked for by Byron, Cartaret, and Bougainville. There was no anchoring-ground, and but a very small supply of fresh provisions or water. The inhabitants, numbering between six and seven hundred, had made less progress in the arts than any other tribes of Polynesia. The objects of chief interest in the island were gigantic statues, some from fifteen to twenty-seven feet in height; on the head of each was a cylindrical block of red-coloured stone, wrought perfectly round. The carving on the upper portion resembling a human head and breast—was rude, though the nose and chin were fairly delineated, while the ears were of a length out of all proportion. The natives paid the statues no respect, and it appeared unlikely that they could have been carved by the ancestors of the present inhabitants.
From Easter Island Cook steered northward, until he came in sight of the Marquesas, discovered by Mendana. Passing between Dominica and Santa Christina, he came to an anchor in the port called Nombre de Dios by the Spaniards. A number of canoes immediately came off, their occupants richly tattooed, bringing bread—fruit and fish, which they willingly exchanged for nails. In each canoe was a heap of stones, and every man had a sling tied round his hand. Next morning many more came off and began to barter, and the deck was soon crowded. One of the savages stole an iron stanchion, when, as a warning, Cook gave an order to the marines to fire over the canoe in which the plunderer was making off. Unfortunately a marine aiming at him, shot him dead.
They, however, returned after some time, and again began bartering; but some of the gentlemen incautiously introduced new articles of trade, which were eagerly sought for, especially red feathers. When these were not to be obtained, the savages refused to bring off more provisions. Cook had to sail away without them.
He now steered nearly south-west, until the most easterly of King George's Islands was reached. Hence he returned to Otaheite, where he was warmly welcomed by the natives. Here provisions had become very plentiful. Numerous new habitations had been erected, and an immense number of canoes, destined for an expedition against Eimeo, were drawn up along the beach.
Some of the war canoes were from fifty to ninety feet long. In all there were three hundred and thirty vessels, carrying nine thousand seven hundred and sixty warriors and rowers, dressed in breast-plates and turbans or helmets, while other warriors were armed with clubs, spears, and stones. Having refitted the ship, Cook sailed for Huaheine, where he found his old friend Oree as kind as ever. They were received in the most affectionate manner by him and his family. The old chief wept when he heard that Captain Cook was not likely again to return, and inquired where he would be buried. When Cook replied "At Stepney," a hundred voices instantly echoed "Stepney mariai no Toote!" Toote being the name by which the natives called Cook.
Here Oedidee, who had been so long on board, was landed, greatly to the grief of the young islander, who, as he looked up at the ship, burst into tears, and then sank down into the canoe which was conveying him ashore.
After leaving Olietea, the Resolution proceeded westward, sighting Howe Island, seen by Captain Wallis, and afterwards an island before unknown, to which the name of Palmerston was given. On the 20th of June she came in sight of an island eleven leagues in circuit. Keeping the ship well out to sea, Captain Cook in vain attempted to open a communication with the natives, who, regardless of the muskets pointed at them, rushed forward, shaking their spears. One man darted his weapon at Captain Cook, who, to defend himself, pulled his trigger, but his musket missed fire. Unwilling to shed blood, he and his companions retired to their boat. In consequence of the fierce behaviour of the natives, he named this Savage Island.
After leaving this place, the Resolution steered westward, or west-south-west, until a string of islands was seen ahead, which proved to be those of the Tonga group. A canoe came off. At first the inhabitants appeared to be friendly, but various thefts were committed. Mr Clark's gun was snatched out of his hand, and another savage seized a fowling-piece belonging to the surgeon, who was out shooting. The marines were therefore landed, and took possession of two large double sailing canoes; but the chiefs restored the articles, and brought on board a man who had been slightly wounded by small shot, stretched on a board as if dead. They seemed to think the captain wanted him. On examination, he proved to be very slightly hurt, and his wounds were dressed.
After leaving the Friendly Islands, the Australis del Esperito Santo of Quiros was reached. Sailing round it, Cook proved it to be an island. Passing another, which the natives called Ambrym, he anchored the next day off another island, of which he discovered the name to be Mallicolo. The natives were hideous in appearance and very dark, while their language differed entirely from that of the other South Sea Islands. Having passed several more islands, he again anchored, on the 3rd of August, on the south-east side of Erromango. Here a large number of people assembled as the boat pulled for the shore. Cook landed with only a green branch in his hand, and offered a number of presents to the chief, which were accepted. Still the natives were armed with clubs, spears, bows and arrows, and kept advancing in a suspicious manner. On this the captain stepped back into the boat, when the islanders, rushing forward, attempted to drag her up the beach. Others snatched at the oars. In this predicament he was compelled to raise his gun, but the piece only flashed in the pan. The savages now began throwing stones, darts, and shooting their arrows, one of the crew being wounded in the chin. Captain Cook now ordered his men to fire. The first discharge threw the savages into confusion, but a second was hardly sufficient to drive them from the beach. They then retired behind the trees, from which they continued to shoot their arrows. The boat succeeded in getting off, and returning to the ship. Cook now ordered a gun to be fired, and a shot was pitched among the crowd. Happily no one was killed, but it prevented all further communication with the savages, who too probably did not forget the way they had been treated.
After leaving Erromango, Cook steered for another island, which was called Tanna, and on which a volcano was seen in full activity. The natives, coming off, proved to be daring thieves, some attempting to steal even the rings from the rudder. An effort was made to carry off the buoys, but a musket or two, fired over their heads, had the effect of driving them off. One old man, who said his name was Paowang, continued to bring off provisions, and barter with the English. After some time Cook, with a well-armed party, landed, but the natives, instead of being frightened, began to use such threatening gestures that it was necessary to fire upon them. At the same time the guns opened from the ship. At first the savages dispersed, but soon came back in a humble manner, and there appeared every probability that they would prove submissive.
After this the English were able to make excursions in various parts of the island, while old Paowang enabled them to obtain as much wood as was required, as also bread-fruit, plantains, and cocoa-nuts.
Black and savage as were the inhabitants, every hill was covered with plantations. The vegetation was luxuriant, and the valleys watered by sparkling streams. Having surveyed the whole of the group, Captain Cook left Tanna on the 20th of August, and stood for New Zealand. On her course to the north-west a fourth island was discovered, and, passing through a reef, the ship came to an anchor. The natives, in numerous canoes, came alongside, and were invited on board. Although naked, with the exception of the usual wrapper, they were intelligent, and examined with much interest the goats, hogs, ducks, dogs, and cats. Some were invited into the cabin, but would touch none of the provisions except some yams.
Afterwards Captain Cook landed, and all the chiefs made speeches. One of them, Teabooma, especially, showing a friendly disposition, was of great use in obtaining water, fuel, and provisions. Though hundreds of natives came on board, not a theft was committed. In some respects the country resembled New Holland, but the sides of the mountains and other places had an especially dreary aspect. The natives had made some advances out of a purely savage state. They lived in well-thatched circular huts, some of which had two fireplaces, and some even two stories, while their canoes were of large size.
Such was the first knowledge obtained of New Caledonia, and it was considered, with the exception of New Zealand, the largest island in the Pacific. To the south of it a small island was seen, to which the name of the Isle of Pines was given, on account of the number of tall trees growing on it.
Some of these were cut down for spars, and the Resolution then bore away for New Zealand.
On the 10th of October a small island was discovered, rising to a great height out of the ocean, and bearing numbers of spruce pine and cabbage-palms. It was uninhabited, and possibly no human being had ever before landed there. The name of Norfolk Island was given to it, and it was afterwards used by the British as a station for twice-convicted prisoners.
On the 18th of October the Resolution anchored in Ship Cove, near Mount Egmont, in New Zealand. The conduct of the natives was suspicious. They found that the Adventure had been there, and feared from what was said that some accident had happened to her; what it was could not be made out.
On the 10th of November Captain Cook again sailed, and on the 20th of December reached a harbour at the western entrance of the Straits of Magellan, to which the name of "Christmas Sound" was given. Here a number of natives made their appearance in nine canoes: a little, ugly, half-starved, beardless race. Their clothing consisted of two or three seal-skins, forming a cloak. Some had only one sealskin, and the women wore a sort of apron. On the 28th the Resolution again sailed, and rounded Cape Horn the next morning. She afterwards put into Success Bay, in the Straits of Le Maire, where a notice was left for Captain Furneaux, should he call there. Vast numbers of sea-lions, bears, geese, and ducks were obtained, the former for the sake of their blubber, from which oil was made. On the 3rd of January, 1775, the Resolution was again at sea. Ten days afterwards two islands were discovered—one being named "Willis's Island," from the man who first saw it, and the other "Bird Island,"—while beyond, land was seen extending for a considerable distance.
On approaching, they landed at three different places,—the British flag was displayed, and possession of the country taken in his Majesty's name. It was a dreary region, bordered by perpendicular cliffs of considerable height, from which pieces were continually breaking off. Beyond, the country was equally savage and horrible, not even a shrub being seen large enough to make a toothpick.
At first it was supposed to be a continent, but proved, after they had sailed partly round it, to be an island, about seventy leagues in circuit. After passing other islets and rocks, land of considerable extent was discovered, to which the name of "Sandwich Land" or "Southern Thule" was given. It rose to a great height, covered everywhere with snow. While the Resolution was close in with the coast, a great westerly swell sent her nearer and nearer to it. No bottom was found, and a thick haze obscured the land. It appeared too probable that the ship would be dashed to pieces on one of the most horrible coasts in the world. When the fog cleared away, a point appeared, beyond which no land was visible.
After escaping this danger, Captain Cook looked in vain for the long-sought Cape Circumcision. Convinced, at last, that it did not exist, to the delight of all he steered for the Cape of Good Hope. On arriving there he found a letter from Captain Furneaux, giving an account of the massacre of a midshipman and a boat's crew by the natives, who had rushed down on them while at dinner, and clubbed them all.
After being treated with great courtesy by the Dutch, Captain Cook sailed for England on the 27th of April, in company with the Dutton East Indiaman, and on the 30th of July, 1775, he anchored at Spithead, having been absent from home three years and eighteen days.
Besides the numerous important discoveries made by Cook on this voyage, he had shown that, by due attention, the health of a ship's company can be preserved in all climates, and while undergoing extreme toil. His system was to make the crew keep their persons, hammocks, bedding, and clothes clean and dry; to air the ship once or twice every week with fires, or to smoke her with gunpowder mixed with vinegar and water. A fire in an iron pot was frequently lowered to the bottom of the well. The ship's coppers were kept constantly cleaned. Fresh water was taken on board whenever practicable, and vegetables, including scurvy-grass, and greens of all descriptions, were, when possible, obtained. As a remedy against scurvy, sweet wort was found most valuable, two or three pints a day being given to a man on the slightest appearance of the disease. Preparations of potatoes, lemons, and oranges were served out, and a pound of sour-krout was supplied to each man twice a week, while sugar and wheaten flour were found useful, but oatmeal and fish oil were considered to promote scurvy.
The voyage, now completed, was justly considered without a parallel in the history of maritime enterprise. Never, indeed, had any expedition been conducted with greater skill and perseverance. Cook received the honours which were his due. He was raised to the rank of Post-Captain, and named a Captain in Greenwich Hospital, and in February of the following year he was unanimously elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.
CAPTAIN COOK'S THIRD VOYAGE—A.D. 1776.
A third voyage planned—The Resolution and Discovery commissioned— Expedition sails—Omai taken on board—Touch at the Cape of Good Hope— Van Diemen's Land—New Zealand—The Friendly or Tonga Islands reached— Acquaintance formed with Feenon—His treacherous designs—Cook's determined conduct checks the natives—Visits Otaheite—Omai shows his true character—Astonishment of natives on seeing horses ridden—Omai landed at Huaheine with his property—His bad conduct and wretched fate—Desertions at Ulietea—Live stock landed—Bolabola and other islands visited—Unknown islands sighted—Cook lands—Natives receive him with deep respect—Assist the watering party—Name of Sandwich Islands given to the group—Ships proceed to coast of America—Natives come off at Nootka Sound—Anchor in Prince William's Sound—The ships enter Behring's Straits—Turned back by the ice—Anchor off Oonalaska— Kind behaviour of the Russian authorities—The expedition returns to the Sandwich Islands—Sail round them, and come to an anchor in Karakavoa Bay—Vast numbers of natives come off—Cook supposed to be their god Rono—Honours paid to him—Ceremonies at a temple—Ships put to sea— Compelled to return—Temper of the natives changed—Attempts to coerce them—Death of Captain Cook and several men—His character—Captain Clerke succeeds, and makes peace with the natives—Ships sail in search of a passage round America—Touch at Saint Peter and Saint Paul— Courtesy of the Russians—Ships again compelled to return by the ice— Death of Captain Clerke—Captain Gore takes command—Sails for Macaohigh price obtained for seal-skins—Commanders of French ships ordered to treat the Adventure and Resolution as neutrals—Touch at the Cape of Good Hope—Steer round Scotland, and reach the Nore 4th of October, 1780—Remarks on Captain Cook's discoveries—Notice of his family.
It had long been the desire of scientific men to discover a passage round the north coast of America between the Atlantic and Pacific. In 1773, Captain Phipps, afterwards Lord Mulgrave, went to Baffin's Bay, but had returned without making any important discovery. At a dinner at the house of Lord Sandwich, to which Sir Hugh Palliser, Mr Stevens, Secretary to the Admiralty, and Captain Cook had been invited, the importance of the design was under discussion, when Cook, although he might justly have enjoyed quiet and repose, volunteered to command any expedition which might be undertaken. His offer was accepted. He was at once appointed to the command of the Resolution, and Captain Clerke, who had been with him on each of his previous voyages, received orders to commission the Discovery, a vessel of three hundred tons, fitted out as the Adventure had been. The ships were ready early in July, 1776. Everything that could tend to preserve the health of the crews was put on board,—warm clothing, as well as numerous animals, garden seeds of all sorts, and iron tools to traffic with the natives, while many things, purely for the benefit of the people, were to be supplied. The chief object of the voyage was to find a passage from the Pacific into the Atlantic; but the Society Islands and other spots were to be visited on the way. The young savage Omai, who had been petted and made a lion of in London, but whose advancement in civilisation was entirely superficial, and who had imbibed no religious principles, was to be restored to his country, under the foolish notion that he would convey to the islanders of the Pacific an exalted idea of the "greatness and majesty of the British nation," as a writer of the day expresses it.
A very brief sketch of this voyage can alone be given. The two ships sailed from Plymouth on the 12th of July, 1776, and reached the Cape of Good Hope on the 10th of November. Again sailing on the 3rd of December, they sighted Marion and the Crozet Islands, and coasted along Kerguelen's Land, which was found to be an island, desolate and sterile in the extreme. On the 24th of January they anchored in Adventure Bay, on the coast of Van Diemen's Land. A few natives appeared, whose only weapons were pointed sticks, and who were black and perfectly naked. Sailing on the 30th of January, the ships reached Queen Charlotte's Sound in New Zealand on the 12th of the next month. The natives were somewhat shy, fearing that Cook had come to punish them for the murder of the boat's crew belonging to the Adventure. Some of those who had not taken part in it urged him to do so; but, as he remarks, "the natives of one part were constantly requesting him to destroy their neighbours—indeed, the tribes were living in a state of warfare among each other."
Leaving Queen Charlotte's Sound, Mangeea was reached, a pleasing fertile island, and beyond it another called Wateea, a spot of great beauty, diversified by hills and plains. The inhabitants were in general remarkably handsome, and were of the same race as those of the Society Islands. Thence a course was steered for Hervey Island, seen on the previous voyage. Though then supposed not to be inhabited, several canoes came off, carrying men of a somewhat darker hue and a more fierce and warlike aspect than the natives of Mangeea, though probably of the same race.
On the passage to the Friendly Islands, the ships called off Palmerston Island, where scurvy-grass, palm-cabbages, and fodder for the animals and birds, and cocoa-nuts for the crew, were obtained.
Passing Savage Island on the 1st of May, they dropped anchor at Annamooka. Here Cook made the acquaintance of Feenon, who, though then only a tributary, afterwards became lord of the whole group. By his means an abundant supply of provisions of all sorts was obtained. Feenon and another chief, Omai, accompanied him to Hapai, belonging to the same archipelago. Here Cook accompanied them on shore, and a large concourse of people, numbering three thousand, assembled, whom the chief addressed, urging them to bring such provisions as were required.
They were entertained with various games, such as wrestling and pugilistic matches. Some warriors engaged in a succession of single combats, in which they fought with clubs. Cook, on landing, suspected from the behaviour of the chiefs that something more than ordinary was in agitation. In fact, friendly as they appeared, they had formed a plot, instigated by Feenon, to massacre their visitors and take possession of their ships, as they did some years afterwards of the vessel in which Mr Mariner sailed. Fortunately, disputes arose amongst the conspirators, and they either abandoned or put off their design. Feenon, notwithstanding his intended treachery, accompanied their other visitors on board ship, and dined with the captain. Afterwards he sent a present of two large hogs, some yams, and a considerable quantity of cloth. Notwithstanding this apparently friendly intercourse, the natives, who came on board in considerable numbers, stole whenever they had an opportunity. At length, to put a stop to this, Cook seized three canoes which were alongside, and then going ashore with a strong guard, and having found the King, his brother Feenon, and some other chiefs in a house, immediately placed a guard over them, and made them understand that until the things were returned they must remain under restraint. This had the desired effect, and most of the articles were brought back. Cook then invited the King and other chiefs to accompany him on board to dinner. The King set the example, although the others at first objected, and in a short time the remainder of the things were brought back.
Cook remained at the Tonga Islands for nearly three months. Having left with them several useful animals and various seeds, he sailed on the 17th of July for Otaheite. Here Omai found several relatives, who showed him little affection until he presented them with some coloured plumes and other treasures he had brought. Cook here induced his crew to take cocoa-nut liquor in exchange for part of their allowance of spirits, with beneficial results. Omai showed his true character by associating with the lower orders of the people; and had not Cook interfered, he would have given everything he possessed away to his worthless companions. Some horses had been brought out, on two of which the captains rode daily over the plains of Matavai, to the great astonishment of the natives, who on all occasions assembled to witness this, to them, extraordinary feat.
Leaving Otaheite, Cook the next day landed at Eimeo, where one of the goats he carried to stock their islands was stolen. It was not until several war canoes and six or eight huts had been burnt that the natives restored the missing animal.
On the 12th of October, he anchored at Huaheine, where it was arranged that Omai was to be left, though he himself wished to settle at Ulietea, where his father had possessed some land, which he hoped to be able to recover through the means of the English. He was very indignant on finding that the captain would not consent to do this, but was at last reconciled to the plan proposed for him. The grant of a piece of land being obtained from the chief, a house was built, a garden stocked, and the young savage was sent on shore with various firearms, toys, a portable organ, an electrical machine, fireworks, with other things, as well as a horse and a mare, a boar and sow, and a male and female kid. Being thus established, it was hoped that with these advantages he would be able to maintain himself, and instruct the islanders in some of the arts of civilisation. He exhibited the deepest grief when he was at length landed, and would gladly have remained with his friends.
How different was the conduct of Omai to that which was expected! Abandoning his European dress, he quickly sank into idleness, barbarously employing his firearms either to assist the chief in his wars or to shoot those of his countrymen who had offended him. In three years he died, despised even by the savages it was supposed that he would have improved.
At Otaheite, where Cook afterwards touched, three or four of his people having deserted, several members of the chief's family were seized and kept as hostages until they should be delivered up. Oreo, the chief, fearing that the runaways might not be discovered, formed a plot to seize the captain and some of his principal officers; but, as they wisely took care not to put themselves in his power, this was prevented, and fortunately the deserters were discovered and brought on board.
Bolabola was the next island visited, for the purpose of recovering an anchor which had been lost by Bougainville at Otaheite, and brought here as a tribute to its warlike inhabitants; Cook's object being to manufacture it into iron tools to trade with. It was easily obtained from the chief Opoony for some axes and other articles.
Cook here landed, as at other places, goats and hogs, in hopes that the archipelago would in a few years be stocked with all the valuable domestic animals of Europe. Sailing from Bolabola on the 8th of December, he steered northward, and on the 24th saw a low island, of barren appearance, to which the name of "Christmas Island" was given. It was uninhabited, though nearly twenty leagues in circumference. No fresh water could be found here, but three hundred green turtles were taken.
On the 18th of January, 1778, an island appeared north-east by east, and soon after another was seen bearing north, and the next day a third, in a west-north-west direction. From the second some men came off to the ships in a canoe. They were of a brown colour, but the features of many differed little from those of Europeans. As the vessels steered along the coast, several villages were seen, and the inhabitants brought off pigs and fine potatoes. From the looks of amazement with which they regarded the ships and everything on board, it was evident that they were unused to European visitors; at the same they exhibited remarkable intelligence. On rowing ashore with three armed boats and a party of marines, the instant Cook landed, the natives fell flat on their faces, until by expressive signs he prevailed upon them to rise. They had brought a number of small pigs, which they presented on plantain-leaves, one of the party making a long speech. The people willingly assisted the sailors in rolling the casks to and from the watering-place, and made no attempt to cheat or steal.
To this group, now first visited by civilised man, the name of the "Sandwich Islands" was given, in compliment to the First Lord of the Admiralty. On leaving these islands,—destined to be so fatal to the discoverer,—the ships steered for New Albion, which had been visited by Drake. After tacking on and off the shore for several days, they put into a harbour, which received the title of "Hope Bay." The morning afterwards three canoes, shaped like Norway yawls, came off from a village, and a man, dressed in the skin of an animal, with a rattle in each hand, make a long speech. Others followed, and one of the party sang a pleasant air in a soft tone. When the voyagers moved to a safer anchorage, a large number of inhabitants made their appearance. They willingly supplied the ships with such provisions as they possessed, but would receive nothing but brass in return, and all brass articles to be found on board were bartered away. Nearly a month was passed in uninterrupted friendship among these savages. The inlet was called "Nootka Sound," from the native name.
Again putting to sea on the 4th of May, Mount Saint Elias was seen. Nine days afterwards the ships came to an anchor in a bay, on which was bestowed the name of "Prince William's Sound." The most remarkable feature of some of the inhabitants on its shores was a slit through the lower lip, parallel with the mouth, through which were worn pieces of carved bone. Sometimes the natives would remove this bone, and thrust out their tongues from the opening, which had a most hideous effect.
After examining an inlet, which it was hoped would lead round the north coast of America, the vessels sailed south-west round the promontory of Alaska. At length the discoverers reached the entrance to Behring's Straits, although not aware at the time of the fact. About the 9th, the most westerly point of America was reached, to which the name of Cape Prince of Wales was given. On the same evening the coast of Asia came in view, and on the following morning the ships anchored in a harbour of the Tschutski territories. Here the natives, though alarmed, made their visitors profound bows. A few days after this the ships encountered a dense field of ice, extending across their course as far as the eye could reach. To proceed farther was impossible, and the ships' heads were therefore turned to the southward. Coasting the shores of Asia, Cook anchored off Oonalaska. Here the natives were most inoffensive. Their stature was low, their necks short, their faces swarthy and chubby; whilst they had black eyes and small beards. Their houses were large oblong pits, covered with a roof thatched with grass and earth.
A few days after the arrival of the ships, the Captains were surprised by a present of a salmon pie, baked in flour, and a note in Russian, which was delivered to them by two natives. John Ledyard, a corporal of marines, afterwards known as a traveller, volunteered to proceed with the messengers and discover who had sent the gift. In two days he returned with three Russian traders, and shortly afterwards Mr Ismyloff, the principal person in the island, arrived. Through him Cook transmitted to the Admiralty a letter enclosing a chart of his discoveries. Intending to make another attempt to find the long-sought-for passage, Cook returned to the Sandwich Islands. On the 26th of November he discovered Mowee, lying farther west than the islands before visited, and on the evening of the 30th a much larger island to windward, called Owhyhee or Hawaii. Several weeks were passed in sailing round this island in search of a harbour. At length the ships came to an anchor, on the morning of January 17th, 1779, in Karakavoa. Here a vast number of people were assembled to witness, to them, the so novel spectacle. Multitudes came off in canoes, crowding into the ships, many hundreds swimming round like shoals of fish, and the shores were thronged with eager spectators, who expressed their pleasure in shouts, songs, and various extravagant motions. It was supposed they fancied Captain Cook to be their god Rono, who after a long absence had returned to their island. At the time this he of course did not know, or he would not have received the worship paid to him. No sooner was the Resolution moored, than two chiefs came, accompanied by a priest named Koah, who approached the captain with much veneration, and threw over his shoulders a piece of red cloth, and then made an offering to him of a small pig, and landing, they conducted him to a Morai or temple, where he was presented in due form to their idols, arranged on a platform within it.
After various other ceremonies, the priest presented him with a large live pig and a piece of red cloth, and the men who brought it prostrated themselves before him. He now descended from the platform, and led the captain before a number of other images, each of which he addressed in a sneering tone, snapping his fingers at it until he came to the centre, when he threw himself before it and kissed it, requesting the captain to do the same, who throughout had suffered himself to be directed by the priest Koah. After this, a feast having been prepared, the two captains were fed by the priests.
After distributing some presents, the captains returned, being conducted to the boats by men bearing wands, the people falling down before them as they walked along the beach. It is sad to reflect that a man of judgment and intelligence should have submitted to this idolatrous worship. Captain Cook probably expected that by yielding to the natives, he should obtain greater facilities for trading and keeping up amicable relations with them. After this the King Terreeoboo, with his wife and child, came on board. He had previously paid the Resolution a visit, when the ships were off Mowee. The following day he came in state, he and his chiefs dressed in rich feathered cloaks, and armed with long spears and helmets. In the second canoe sat the chief priests, with idols of wicker-work of gigantic size, covered with feathers of different colours and pieces of red cloth. Their eyes were large pearl-oysters, and their mouths were marked with double rows of dogs' fangs, giving them a hideous appearance.
When Cook returned the visit the King threw a superb cloak over his shoulders, and placed a crown of feathers on his head, spreading six other cloaks at his feet, of great beauty, while his attendants brought four hogs, sugar-canes, and cocoa-nuts. After this the ships sailed, but, meeting with very bad weather, were compelled to put back into Karakavoa. On their return it was observed by some of those on board that a change had taken place in the minds of some of the natives. Instead, however, of trying to win back the people by gentle means, force was resorted to directly any offence was committed. Some of the people having stolen several articles from the Discovery, were trying to escape, when she opened fire upon them. The articles were returned, but an officer on shore not knowing this, seized a canoe belonging to one of the chiefs, who, in a squabble, was afterwards knocked down. Captain Cook, also ignorant of what had taken place, followed the supposed thieves into the interior, although he returned unmolested. The next day the Discovery's cutter was carried off, and Captain Cook, in order to recover it, resolved to seize the King. With this object he landed, carrying with him his double-barrelled gun, accompanied by Mr Phillips and nine marines. Mr King ordered the marines to keep their pieces loaded, and to be on their guard. He then, going to the huts of the priests, endeavoured to quiet their alarm. Captain Cook in the meantime reached the old King's house, and persuaded him to come on board; but as they were embarking one of his wives came down and induced him to give up his intention. A vast number of armed men now began to collect, and Captain Cook, seeing that matters were growing serious, considered how he might best prevent bloodshed, and endeavoured to draw off his party.
Meantime the boats stationed in the bay had fired at some canoes, and a chief of high rank had been killed. The hostile natives soon heard of this. Mr Phillips, on seeing the state of affairs, had withdrawn his men to some rocks close to the water. The anger of the natives being excited, they now began to throw stones, and one of them threatened Captain Cook with his dagger. In defence he fired one of his barrels, loaded with small shot. He then discharged the other, and a man was killed. The marines had now begun to fire, and Captain Cook had turned round either to order them to cease or to summon the boat, when a savage struck him on the back with a large club, and he fell forward on his hands and knees, letting his fowling-piece drop. A chief next plunged his dagger into his back, and he fell into the water, the natives who crowded round preventing him from rising.
From that moment nothing more was seen of him. The natives rushing on, four of the marines were killed before they could reach the boats; another was saved by the gallantry of Lieutenant Phillips, who, though wounded himself, leapt overboard, and dragged the man who was struggling in the water into the pinnace.
Lieutenant King had remained near the observatory with a party of his men. Though the natives attacked him, he drove them off, and they at last willingly agreed to a truce. He afterwards tried to obtain the body of his captain, and in a few days some human flesh was brought off by a man, who said that this was all that remained, the head, bones, and hands being in possession of the King. With the exception of the head the greater portion of the remainder was subsequently brought on board, and they being placed in a coffin, were committed to the deep with the usual naval honours.
So angered were the crews of the two ships at the loss of the captain, that it was with the greatest difficulty the officers could restrain them from hurrying on shore and wreaking their vengeance on the heads of the natives.
Thus died Captain Cook in the fifty-first year of his age, surpassed by none as a seaman, and was probably equalled by few as a marine surveyor and draughtsman; while, if he was at times hasty, he was kind-hearted and humane, and possessed the important power of attaching both officers and men to his person. Captain Clerke, who succeeded to the command, made peace with the chiefs, many of whom came on board expressing their sorrow at what had happened, while the natives brought off provisions as usual. Indeed, as the ships sailed away they expressed every mark of affection and good-will.
Two other islands of the group, Woakoo and Atooi, were visited, when the natives behaved in the same friendly way as elsewhere. After this, on the 12th of March, the ships sailed for Behring's Straits, in search of a passage into the Atlantic.
Captain Clerke, who had been suffering for some time from consumption, was evidently fast sinking, but he still persevered in his undertaking. On the 28th of April the harbour of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was reached. The Russian inhabitants, on finding that the explorers were English, treated them with the greatest possible kindness, and through Major Behin, the Governor of Bolcheretsk, Captain Clerke sent home an account of the proceedings of the expedition, with that of the death of Captain Cook. Both ships, after passing through Behring's Straits, encountered an icy barrier, against which the Discovery was nearly lost.
Every effort having been made in vain, Captain Clerke resolved to return. Before the ships again anchored in the harbour of Saint Peter and Saint Paul he had breathed his last. He was there buried on some ground on which it was intended to raise a church. The command of the expedition now devolved on Captain Gore, who went on board the Resolution, while Lieutenant King took charge of the Discovery. That ship, on being examined, was found to have suffered seriously from the ice. It seemed surprising, indeed, from the injuries she had received, that she had kept afloat.
She was repaired as far as possible, some time being spent in these necessary operations, as also in exchanging civilities between the officers of the Russian garrison and the English.
The ships sailed on the 9th of October, and steered a course for Macao. While in Behring's Straits sea-otter and other skins had been obtained; these realised altogether upwards of two thousand pounds. The report of the high prices obtained on the return home of the expedition, probably set on foot the fur trade with the west coast of North America, which afterwards became of such considerable importance. Here Captain Gore heard that war had broken out between England and France; but soon afterwards, being informed that the commanders of the French ships had been directed to treat the expedition under Captain Cook as belonging to a neutral power, he put to sea, resolved to preserve the strictest neutrality during the remainder of the voyage.
Touching at several places in the Indian seas, the ships at length reached Cape Town, where they were treated with the same kindness as on former visits. Sailing thence on the 9th of May, they made the coast of Ireland on the 12th of August. Strong southerly winds compelling them to run to the northward, they rounded Scotland, and at length, on the 4th of October, arrived at the Nore, after an absence of four years, two months, and twenty-two days.
It is remarkable that during this time the two ships only twice, for a short time, lost sight of each other.
Owing to the admirable arrangements for preserving health, during the whole time the Resolution had lost only five men by sickness, three of whom were ill when she left England, while the Discovery had not lost a man.
Although one of the objects of the expedition had failed, that of finding a way through Behring's Straits round the north coast of America, during this and his previous voyages Cook had made far more discoveries than any previous navigator. He had surveyed the whole eastern coast of New Holland, and proved it to be an island, as also that of New Zealand. He had discovered New Caledonia, and surveyed the islands of the New Hebrides, and other islands in the Austral Ocean. He had made known the Marquesas and Tonga group, and completed the survey of the Society Islands. He had succeeded in finding Easter Island, had visited the groups of the low archipelago, and had discovered numerous separate islands,—Norfolk, Botany, Palmerston, Hervey, Savage, Mangaia, Wateeoo, Allakootaia, Turtle, Toobania, and Christmas, as also the magnificent group known as the Sandwich Islands. He had ascertained the strait between America and Asia to be eighteen leagues in width.
It was not until many years after that any navigator penetrated as far north as he had done. In the Antarctic Ocean he had brought to light Sandwich Land, settled the position of Kerguelen's Land, as also of Isla Grande, on which he justly prided himself; and his survey of the southern shore of Tierra del Fuego was long unsurpassed, while he rendered the greatest service to the cause of humanity by the way he maintained the health of his crews. During all previous expeditions numbers of the men had perished. During his long and protracted voyage he lost none by scurvy, and very few from any other disease.
The nation, grateful to him, bestowed a pension of two hundred pounds a year on his wife, and each of his children had twenty-five pounds a year settled on them, though the latter did not live long to enjoy it. Three died in infancy. Another, a midshipman, was lost on board the Thunderer. The second, intended for the ministry, died at Oxford, in the seventeenth year of his age; and the eldest, who became a commander, was drowned while attempting to get on board his ship off Poole during a gale of wind. His widow survived until the year 1835, when, she died at the age of ninety-three.
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.
PARRY'S THREE VOYAGES IN SEARCH OF A NORTH-WEST PASSAGE—A.D. 1819.
Ancient voyagers in arctic seas—Parry's voyage in command of the Alexander—Under Captain John Ross—Parry's first expedition with the Hecla and Griper—The ice reached—Danger among icebergs—The vessels freed—Steer westward—A way cut through the ice—Enter Lancaster Sound—Sail up it till stopped by the ice—Reach longitude 110 degrees west—A passage cut through the ice into a harbour in Melville Island—Preparations for passing the winter—A paper established—Plays acted—An observatory and house built on shore—The former catches fire—Many of the men frost-bitten while extinguishing the flames—All animals quit the country—Scurvy appears—Mustard and cress grown— Employments of officers and men—Excursions on shore—Ice begins to break up—Get out of harbour—Attempt to sail westward defeated— Return—Parry's second expedition with Fury and Hecla in 1821 to Hudson's Bay—Dangers among icebergs and floes—Visited by Esquimaux— Fox's Channel and Repulse Bay reached—Further explorations made—No opening found—More natives appear—Ships frozen in near Lyon Inlet— Plays acted—A school established—Natives come on board—Native village—Honesty and intelligence of natives—A clever woman—Iliglink and her son—The Esquimaux leave them—Ships again put to sea—In fearful danger—Fury and Hecla Strait reached—Attempt to pass through it—Go into winter quarters—Natives appear—Winter less pleasantly spent than the former—Great difficulty in escaping—Parry's wish to remain overruled—Ships swept along by the current—Sail homewards— Reception at Lerwick—Parry's third voyage in the Hecla and Fury, 1824—Accompanied by the William Harris transport—Call off Lievely— Reach Lancaster Sound—Are frozen up in Port Eowen—Masquerades—Good conduct of the men—Progress in the school—Expedition on shore—Ships get out of harbour—In fearful danger—The Fury wrecked and abandoned—The Hecla refitted, sails homeward, and safely reaches England—Remarks on Admiral Sir Edward Parry.
From the days of Edward the Sixth, and even before that period, attempts have been made to discover a passage eastward along the northern shores of Europe and Asia to India from the westward, and from the Atlantic into the Pacific, as well as to reach the north pole.
Among the gallant men who commanded these expeditions the names of Sir Hugh Willoughby, Richard Chancellor, Sir Martin Frobisher, Barentz, Henry Hudson, and Baffin stand out pre-eminently. Captain Cook, as we have seen, made attempts to penetrate from the Pacific into the Atlantic, and at the same time Captain Phipps, afterwards Lord Mulgrave, accompanied by Nelson, then a midshipman, was engaged in an attempt to reach the north pole along the coast of Spitzbergen. For some time after this the interest in arctic discovery died away, but was at length revived in the year 1818 by the reports of the state of the ice, which was said to have broken away from the coast of Greenland in places where it had been attached to the shore for centuries. In that year four ships were fitted out—two, the Isabella, commanded by Captain John Ross, and the Alexander by Lieutenant Parry, to explore the north-west passage, and the Dorothea, commanded by Captain Buchan, and the Trent, by Lieutenant John Franklin,—for the purpose of attempting to reach the north pole. Many of the officers who subsequently became well known as arctic explorers were employed in these expeditions; among others were Mr Beechy and Mr Hoppner, both sons of eminent artists, and themselves excellent draughtsmen.
Neither of the expeditions was successful. Captain Ross sailed up Davis's Straits into Baffin's Bay, passing the entrances to Smith's and Lancaster Sounds, across both of which he was persuaded that a lofty range of mountains extended. These he called Crocker Mountains. The openings, he was convinced, were merely the mouths of deep inlets. Lieutenant Parry differed entirely from his commanding officer, and deep regret was expressed by many on board that an opening, by examining which important discoveries might have resulted, should have been abruptly quitted.
The reports brought home satisfied most scientific men that an opening existed through Lancaster Sound. On the following year, therefore, the Admiralty fitted out an expedition, which was placed under the command of Lieutenant Parry, who had Mr Beechy as his lieutenant.
As Parry takes the highest rank amongst arctic explorers, it is proposed to give a sketch of his three voyages to the polar regions in search of a north-west passage.
The expedition being determined on, two vessels, the Hecla, of three hundred and seventy-five tons, carrying fifty-eight men, and the Griper, a gun brig of one hundred and eighty tons, with thirty-six persons on board, were forthwith got ready for sea. Both vessels were strengthened as much as possible, and stored with provisions for two years, including an ample supply of anti-scorbutics, and everything which could be thought of to enable the crews to endure the extreme rigours of a polar winter. Captain Sabine accompanied Lieutenant Parry as astronomer, and Mr Beechy as lieutenant. Among the midshipmen were Joseph Nias and James Clark Ross, who became eminent arctic explorers. The Griper was commanded by Lieutenant Siddon, and his first lieutenant was Mr Hoppner.
The two vessels sailed from the Nore on the 11th of May, 1819, and having rounded the Orkneys, stood across the Atlantic. Having contrary winds, they made but slow progress. On the 18th of June they first fell in with icebergs, flying amid which were numberless petrels, kittiwakes, tarns, and other winged inhabitants of the northern regions. Some of these bergs, of which fifty were seen at a time, were of great size. The heavy southern swell dashed the loose ice with tremendous force against them, sometimes raising a cloud of white spray, which broke over their tops to the height of more than a hundred feet, accompanied by a loud noise, resembling distant thunder. As the Hecla was drifting on with a southerly current, she was nearly nipped by a detached floe, which drove her against a berg aground, one hundred and forty feet high, where the depth of water was one hundred and twenty fathoms, so that its whole height must have exceeded eight hundred feet.
Parry at first attempted to force his way north and west, amid the masses of ice, in the direction of Lancaster Sound; but as the vessels were sailing on, the floes suddenly closed round them, and on the 25th both were so completely beset that it was impossible to turn their heads in any direction. Here they were fixed, though in no danger, until the morning of the second day, when the violence of the sea loosening the ice, it was driven against the ships' sides with such force that, had they not been strongly built, they would probably have been destroyed. At this time, from the crow's nest, upwards of eighty-eight enormous icebergs were seen, besides many smaller ones. The vessels being at length freed, Lieutenant Parry came to the resolution of abandoning the attempt to reach Lancaster Sound by a direct course, and instead steered northward along the border of the great ice-field, in the hopes of finding open water farther to the north. He steered on that course until he reached latitude 73 degrees, when he resolved upon making a determined push to the westward.
A favourable breeze springing up, the ships stood on among the detached floes, through which they were warped by securing ice-anchors with hawsers to the more solid pieces ahead. Before they had made much progress, a thick fog came on, which prevented the open lanes ahead being seen. Still they continued to make way, sometimes dangerously beset by masses of ice; yet by persevering efforts, they first got into one lane, then into another, till, the fog clearing, they saw only one long floe separating them from the open sea. The ice-saws were therefore set to work, and with great labour cutting through the floe, they had the satisfaction of seeing the shore clear of ice extending out before them. They now steered for Lancaster Sound, and on the 30th of July they gained its entrance. As they sailed on, under a press of canvas, westward, the mast-heads were crowded by officers and men, eagerly looking out to ascertain if the supposed mountain barrier lay across their course.
The sound continued open, and it was calculated that the two shores were still thirteen leagues apart, without the slightest appearance of land to the westward.
Again and again a report was received from aloft that all was clear ahead, and the explorers began to flatter themselves that they had fairly entered the polar sea. Several headlands were passed, and wide openings to the north and south. With a strong breeze from the eastward, running on until midnight, they found themselves in latitude 83 degrees 12 minutes, nearly one hundred and fifty miles from the entrance of the sound, which was fully fifty miles in breadth. The Griper, which had fallen astern, joining the Hecla, they together reached latitude 86 degrees 30 minutes, when two other inlets were discovered, and named Burnet and Stratton; and then a bold headland, to which the name of Fellfoot was given. A lengthened swell rolling in from the north and west, gave them hopes that they had now really reached the wide expanse of the polar basin, and that nothing would stop their progress to Icy Cape, the western boundary of America.
While their hopes were at the highest land ahead was seen, but it proved only to be a small island. Very soon afterwards more land was seen, with a broad inlet, named Maxwell Bay. Still the sea stretched out uninterruptedly before them, but their hopes fell when, in a short time, they saw to the south a line of continuous ice.
Shortly afterwards an open passage appeared, through which it was hoped the ships would make their way westward. On proceeding on, however, the explorers discovered, to their sorrow, that this ice was joined to a compact and impenetrable body of floes, completely crossing the channel. They had therefore to haul their wind and stand away from it, for fear of being caught in the ice, along the edges of which a violent surf was beating.
As soon as the weather, which had been thick, became clear, an open sea, with a dark water sky, was seen to the south. In the hopes that this might lead to a passage, unencumbered with ice, the commander steered for it, and shortly reached the mouth of a large inlet, ten leagues broad, with no visible termination. The names of Clarence and Seppings were given to the two capes at its entrance.
Avoiding the ice on one side, the ships entered a broad open channel. The coast was dreary in the extreme, while the irregularity of the compass showed that they were approaching the magnetic pole, and increased the difficulties of navigation. They had run one hundred and twenty miles up this inlet, to which the name of Prince Regent was given, when the ice was found extending across it. Standing out of it, Parry steered across the channel, until he came off another broad inlet, leading north, which was called Wellington Inlet.
The great channel through which they were passing was called Barrow Straits, in compliment to the promoter of the expedition. The wind again becoming favourable, the ship sailed triumphantly along; three islands they successively passed being named Cornwallis, Bathurst, Byam Martin. The compass had now become perfectly useless, and they judged that they had passed the magnetic meridian at about 100 degrees west latitude, where it would have pointed due south instead of north. The cold also greatly increased, and thick fogs enveloped them. They had also to saw a passage through a thick floe.
Still forcing their way on, they discovered a large island, to which the name of Melville was given. Though the wind failed, by towing and warping, on the 4th of September they reached the meridian of 110 degrees west from Greenwich, in latitude 74 degrees 44 minutes 20 seconds, and became entitled to a reward of five thousand pounds, voted by Parliament to the first British ship's company who should obtain that meridian. To the bluff headland where the observation was made the appropriate name of Bounty Cape was given.
Encouraged by their success, they continued their course, until it was crossed by an impenetrable barrier of ice. In vain for a fortnight they attempted to pierce it, until about the 20th the young ice began to form rapidly on the surface, and Parry was convinced that a single hour's calm would be sufficient to freeze up the ships in the midst of the sea. Reluctantly, therefore, he was compelled to return, not without encountering great danger and difficulty. On the 24th he got off a harbour on the western side of Melville Island. A large floe, two miles wide, guarded its entrance. To get through this floe, it was necessary to form a channel with the ice-saws. To do this two parallel lines were first marked with boarding-pikes on the ice, at a distance from each other of somewhat more than the breadth of the Hecla. Having cut along these lines, large pieces were detached by cross-saws, and then again cut diagonally, in order to be floated out. Sometimes the boat's masts and sails were placed on them to hasten their movements. In two days the channel was cut, and the ships carried in and anchored in five fathoms of water, about a cable's length from the beach. At first the ice round them was every morning cleared away, but it was soon found that the task was useless, and the two ships became frozen up for the winter. They were immediately unrigged and housed over, snow walls built round them, and other plans adopted for keeping out the cold.
As they had ample provisions, preserved meat and concentrated soup were substituted for salt beef, and beer and wine were served out instead of spirits. They also had sour-krout, pickles, and vinegar. Every day the seamen were mustered and compelled to swallow a certain quantity of lime-juice in the presence of their officers, while their gums and shins were examined to detect the first appearance of scurvy. The stove for baking was placed in a central position, and by other arrangements a comfortable temperature was maintained in the cabin. At a distance from it, however, and in the bed-places, steam and even the breath soon turned into ice, which had to be carefully scraped away. To amuse the people, a newspaper was started, under the editorship of Captain Sabine, and a school was established, at which many of the men, who had never before handled a pen, learned to write well. Plays were acted, a fresh one being performed every fortnight, sometimes by the officers, and sometimes by the men. The theatre was on the quarter-deck, where, however, the cold was often as low as freezing-point, except close to the stove,—a position eagerly sought for.
Lieutenant Beechy became stage manager. The theatre received the name of the North Georgian, and was opened on the 5th of November, with "Miss in her Teens." The ships' companies were highly delighted, and Lieutenant Parry took a part himself, considering that an example of cheerfulness, by giving a direct countenance to everything that could contribute to it, was not the less essential part of his duty, under the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed.
It was by this means that Parry established a character for ready and happy expedients, accompanied by a sound judgment, which kept alive the active powers of the mind, and prevented it from falling into the worst of all conditions,—a state of morbid torpor. His plan was completely successful, and the crew, as well as the officers, were as happy as, under the circumstances, could possibly be expected.
One of the first works carried out, after the ships had been made snug for the winter, was the erection of an observatory, at a spot convenient for communication with the ships; and a house was also built on the beach, for the reception of the clock and other instruments. The walls of this were of double plank, with moss between, so that a high temperature could be kept up in it, without difficulty, by a single stove. To induce the men to take exercise, the band played, and they tramped round the deck to the music. While thus engaged, one day, what was their dismay to see the house containing the valuable instruments on fire! The crew, without stopping to put on their extra warm clothing, hurried to the shore, pulled off the roof with ropes, knocked down a part of the sides, and, by being thus able to throw in large quantities of snow, succeeded in extinguishing the flames. So bitter was the cold that, though thus actively employed, the noses and cheeks of all the men were white by frostbites. The medical officers were compelled to run from one to the other and rub them with snow, in order to restore animation; even thus it was found necessary to cut off several fingers of one poor fellow, and sixteen others were added to the sick list. Hunting excursions were organised, and reindeer, musk oxen, partridges, and ptarmigan were met with. Some of the former were killed. No bears had been seen, until one day Captain Sabine's servant being at a distance from the ship, a huge white monster started up and pursued him. The man ran as fast as his legs could carry him, until he got on board, when the bear, coming close to the ship, was shot at and wounded, but notwithstanding made its escape. It was the only one seen during the long stay of the ships on that desolate shore. The animal tribes disappeared early in the winter. On the 15th of September a herd of deer was seen lying down, except a large stag. This, after the rest had risen, guarded the herd in their flight, frequently going round them, sometimes striking them with his horns to make them move faster.
On the same day the last covey of ptarmigan was met with. What no one would have expected to see in that frozen region—three specimens of a caterpillar were obtained one of which, as an arctic curiosity, was brought to England.
For some months the crew retained excellent health, but early in January the gunner showed symptoms which indicated scurvy. The immediate cause appeared to be a collection of damp which had formed round his bed-place. At once all the anti-scorbutics were put into requisition, such as lime-juice, pickles, spruce beer; a quantity of mustard and cress had also been raised from mould placed over the stove-pipe, which rapidly grew. So successful were these remedies that, in nine days, the patient could walk about. The only animals remaining were a pack of wolves, which nightly surrounded the ships, although they cleverly avoided being captured. A beautiful white fox, however, was caught and made a pet of, and became very much attached to the commander, in whose cabin it took up its quarters. Every day, indeed every hour, had its allotted duties. On Sundays divine service was invariably performed, and a sermon read on board both ships, the men attending with evident satisfaction. The officers, unless when there was wind, took walks on shore, but were not permitted to go beyond two miles from the ship. After the ordinary duties of examining the berths and bed-places, the crews had their suppers, and the officers went to their tea, and after this the men were allowed to amuse themselves with games of various kinds, as well as dancing and singing, until nine o'clock, when they had to turn in, and all lights were extinguished. The officers employed their evenings in reading and writing, with an occasional game of chess, or a tune on the flute or violin, until half-past ten.
For forty-eight days they were entirely deprived of a sight of the sun, the long-continued night being lighted up only partially by the moon and occasionally by the aurora borealis. Thus the months went by until the middle of May arrived, and the ptarmigan began to appear. A considerable number were shot, their flesh having a beneficial effect on the crew. Under the snow was found an abundance of sorrel, a most potent antidote against scurvy. Footsteps of deer were seen, the animals evidently moving northwards. As soon as the cold decreased, the commander made an excursion across Melville Island, on which the vegetable productions were dwarf willow, sorrel, moss, grass, and saxifrage.
Captain Sabine fell in with a ranunculus in full flower on the western side of the island, evidently the most genial. The crew had in the meantime been employed in cutting away the ice from round the ships.
Soon after the commander's return, on the 15th of June, from his excursion, the ice in the offing began to move with a loud grinding noise, and by the middle of July the thermometer rose to 60 degrees, the highest point it reached in Melville Island. By the 24th everything was ready for sea, but still it seemed very probable that the two ships would be much longer detained, while it was known that in eight or nine weeks from that period the navigable season must come to a conclusion. Before the expiration of July the thermometer again fell, and the pools of water froze over in the night, but there were channels through which the boats could pass. On the ist of August, however, the outer mass of ice suddenly broke up and floated out. With eager haste the anchors were weighed, the sails spread, and the two ships, after being shut up for ten whole months and a part of September, sailed out of Winter Harbour, and stood round the shore of Melville Sound. They were still not free from danger, as the masses of ice were whirling about in all directions. To avoid them the ships stood close into the shore, but at length, off a point of land surrounded by hummocks of ice, some vast masses were seen driving down upon the Hecla. The Griper was in the same dangerous predicament, and there appeared every probability that she would be nipped and destroyed. Escaping these dangers, they pushed their way westward until they arrived at very nearly the most western point of the island, when all further progress was barred by the density of the ice.
The commander having consulted the officers of both ships, it was agreed that any further attempt to proceed in that direction would be useless. It was also arranged that they should run back along the edge of the ice, to look out for any opening which might lead them to the American continent. None, however, was found, and on the 31st of August they repassed Lancaster Sound.
They now, not without some risk of being frozen up after all, made their way to the southward, and on the 28th of October came in sight of Fair Island and the Orkneys.
The commander reached London on the 3rd of November, 1820, after an absence of eighteen months. Out of both ships' companies only one man, who had left home in ill health, died; the rest returned in excellent health and strength.
Scarcely had Captain Parry returned than it was resolved to fit out another expedition without delay. For this purpose the Hecla was again commissioned, and as it was considered that vessels of the same size were best calculated for the work, the Fury, of three hundred and seventy-seven tons, was appointed to accompany her instead of the old Griper.
Several of the officers who had served in the former voyage were again employed, and Commander Lyon was appointed to the command of the Hecla, while Commander Parry took charge of the Fiery. Among the midshipmen were F.R.M. Crozier and James Clarke Ross, both of whom were arctic explorers of note, the former ultimately destined to perish in the realms of ice.
The two ships were accompanied by the Nautilus transport, filled with stores and provisions, to be transhipped on arriving at the ice.
Parry was directed to proceed towards or into Hudson's Straits. He was then to penetrate to the westward until he should reach Repulse Bay, or some other part of the shores of Hudson's Bay to the north of Wager River, or some portion of the coast which he should feel convinced to be a part of America. Failing this, he was to keep along the line of this coast to the northward, examining every bend or inlet which should appear likely to afford a practicable passage to the westward.
The three ships sailed from the Nore on the 8th of May, 1821, but it was not until the 14th of June that they came in sight of the first iceberg, or until the 2nd of July that they reached Resolution Island, the valleys of which were filled with snow, while a dense fog hung over the land, rendering the scene before them indescribably dreary and desolate. In a short time the ships were surrounded by no less than six hundred and fifty-four icebergs, one of which rose to two hundred and fifty-eight feet above the sea. Among them were large floes, which were turned round and round by the strong tides and currents rushing in from the ocean. At the same time, fearful as they are in appearance, they are less dangerous to approach than those aground, against which a ship is liable to be carried with the whole force of the tide.
Captain Lyon, on one occasion, having fixed an anchor to a mass of ice with two strong hawsers, both were carried away, and the anchor broken off as if it had been made of crockeryware. The ships were here separated to the distance of eleven or twelve miles, and became closely beset by the ice, where they remained for eight or nine days. During nineteen days only seventy miles were made. At length they reached, on the 21st, the Savage Islands. Next afternoon a loud shouting was heard, and shortly afterwards a large number of natives were seen paddling their canoes through the lanes of open water, or occasionally drawing them over the ice. These were chiefly kayaks, rowed by a single man. There were also five oomiaks or women's boats, of considerable size, formed of a framework of wood and whalebone, covered with deer-skins, and having flat sides and bottom. One of these contained no less than twenty-one women, boys, and young children. They were of a wild tribe, and evidently more debased than those of the Greenland shore. They laughed, and shouted, and skipped, and then commenced traffic with the greatest eagerness, some of them stripping off the skins which formed their only covering, until they were almost in a state of nudity; the women, however, always retaining their breeches. They drove, as they fancied, a hard bargain; yet, being ignorant of the value of the skins, they raised shouts of triumph when they exchanged them for a nail, saw, or razor. Hideous as were the old women, some of the children looked almost pretty, although, being thrown carelessly into the bottom of the boat, they more resembled young wild animals than human beings. The men were especially addicted to practical jokes. One of them, getting behind a sailor, shouted lustily in his ear, then gave him a hearty box on the other. Captain Parry formed a very unfavourable opinion of the moral character of these natives, who seemed to have acquired, by an annual intercourse with our ships for nearly a hundred years, many of the vices of civilisation, without having imbibed any of the virtues or refinements which adorn it. Notwithstanding all obstructions, the expedition, early in August, came in view of Southampton Island, at the entrance of Fox's Channel, and from thence forced its way to Repulse Bay, through which it was supposed that a passage westward existed; but, after it had been thoroughly explored, Captain Parry proved that the land round it was continuous. The appearance of the land was not altogether uninviting. It rose to seven or eight hundred feet, and there was the usual vegetation found in the arctic regions. Reindeer and hares were plentiful, as were ducks and other birds. In one spot were the remains of no less than sixty Esquimaux habitations, consisting of stones laid one over the other, in regular circles, eight or nine feet in diameter. There were besides about a hundred structures,— fireplaces, store-houses, and other rough enclosures, four or five feet high,—used to keep their skin canoes from being gnawed by the dogs.
Getting out of Repulse Bay, Captain Parry commenced a career of discovery along an unknown coast. An inlet was discovered, on which the name of Gore was bestowed. At the mouth of the opening the valleys were richly clad with grass and mosses. The birds were singing, the butterflies and other insects displaying the most gaudy tints; so that the seamen might have fancied themselves in some happier clime, had not the mighty piles of ice in the frozen strait told a different tale.
While the ships were at anchor, hunting parties were sent out, and the game laws of the preceding year were strictly enforced, by which every beast and bird was to be given up for the general good, the capturer only retaining the head and legs. The head, however, was sometimes greatly extended, so as to include several joints of the back-bone. At length the explorers found themselves among a complete labyrinth of islands, amidst which strong currents set in various directions, while fogs and drift ice made navigation perilous in the extreme. Successive masses assailed the Fury. At one time her anchor was dragged along with a grinding noise, two flukes being broken off. She was afterwards carried forward by a violent stream amid thick mist, while it was found impossible to steer her in any direction.
At length the ships emerged into the open sea, but a strong northerly gale compelled them to run before it, when, on the 6th of August, they found themselves close to the spot where they had been on the 3rd of September. Still Captain Parry persevered, examining every opening, in the hopes that each might prove a passage into the polar ocean.
Lyon and Hoppner Inlets were surveyed. When near the shore, a number of Esquimaux came off to obtain some iron tools. The behaviour of one of the fair sex created considerable surprise. She had sold one boot, but obstinately retained the other. At length the suspicions of the seamen being aroused, she was seized and the buskin pulled off, when it proved to be a receptacle of stolen treasure. Besides other articles, it contained a pewter plate and a couple of spoons.
The end of September was now approaching. The summer was far from genial, and now, at any moment, the icy hand of winter might grasp the ships. Pancake ice began to form on the surface of the ocean. As the ships rolled from side to side, the ice clung to them in vast masses, and the various pieces which were tossing in the sea around became cemented into one great field, which threatened every moment to bear down upon them and dash them to pieces.
As it was important, without delay, to secure the ships for the winter, a small island lying off the northern point of the entrance into Lyon Inlet was fixed on. The distance was about half a mile, but the soft state of the pancake ice rendered the task not a very laborious one, though often dangerous, as it bent like leather beneath the feet of the seamen as they were working. At length it was accomplished, and the two ships were frozen in for another winter.
As there was no time to be lost, arrangements were at once made for passing it comfortably. Both ships were more thoroughly heated than had been the case on the previous voyage. They were both more amply provisioned, and anti-scorbutics against scurvy had been more bountifully supplied.
To amuse them, the theatre was opened on the 9th of November. The play of "The Rivals" being chosen, the two captains appeared as Sir Anthony and Captain Absolute.
A school was also established, and it was interesting to observe the zeal with which the hardy tars applied themselves to their books.
Sixteen of the men who had before been unable to form a letter could by Christinas write very well. That day was passed with the usual festivities, the seamen being amply regaled with fresh beef, cranberry pies, and grog, when they drank, with three hearty cheers, the health of each officer in succession. The shortest day was scarcely observed; indeed, the sun did not entirely leave them.
A few hares were caught, with a purely white covering, which resembled swans'-down rather than hair, and about a hundred white foxes were snared in the nets. At first they were perfectly ungovernable, but in a short time the young ones threw off their timidity, and became tame.
The sky was frequently brilliantly lighted by the aurora borealis. The light had a tendency to form an irregular arch, which in calm weather was very distinct. When the air became agitated, showers of rays spread in every direction with the rapidity of lightning. Sometimes long streams of light were spread out with inconceivable swiftness. No rule could be traced in the movement of the light parcels which are called the "merry dancers." The sun and moon were often surrounded with haloes and concentric circles of vapour, tinted with the brightest hues of the rainbow. Parhelia, or mock suns, frequently shone in different quarters of the firmament. Still the life the explorers were compelled to lead was becoming very monotonous, when, on the morning of the ist of February, a number of figures were seen in the distance, moving over the ice. The spy-glasses were turned towards them, and they were pronounced to be Esquimaux.
As it was important to establish friendly relations with these people, the two commanders, attended by a few men, proceeded towards them, walking in file behind each other, that they might cause no alarm. As the natives approached, they formed themselves into a line of twenty-one; then they advanced slowly, until, making a full stop, they saluted the English by the usual movement of beating their breasts. They were well clothed in rich deer-skins. On coming to the ships they immediately began to strip; and the females, finding that they could obtain knives, nails, and needles for their dresses, pulled them off, when it was discovered that they had others of a similar character beneath the outer ones.
A visit to their village, at their invitation, was paid; but at first no one could discover their habitations. They, however, led the way to a hill in the snow, through which they crept, on hands and knees, along a winding passage of considerable length, until they reached a little hall with a dome-shaped roof, the doors of which opened into three apartments, each occupied by a separate family. This curious structure was tenanted by sixty-four men, women, and children. It was formed entirely of slabs of snow, about two feet long and half a foot thick. On the outside a series of cupolas rose about seven feet above the ground, and were sixteen feet in diameter. A plate of ice in the roof served as a window.
When first seen the village appeared like a cluster of hillocks among the snow; but successive falls filled up the intervening spaces, and converted it into one smooth surface, so that the boys and dogs were seen sporting over the roof. In each room, suspended from the roof, a lamp was burning, with a long wick formed from a species of moss, the oil being the produce of the seal or walrus. This lamp served at once for light, heat, and cooking.
A few hours had been sufficient to put up the village. The natives were as desirous of pleasing as they were ready to be pleased, and a favourable impression was thus made at the first interview, which was not diminished during a constant intercourse of between three and four months. They were strictly honest, and frequently returned articles which had been dropped by accident.