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An Account of the Discovery of Queen Charlotte's Iflands, with a Defcription of them and their Inhabitants, and of what happened at Egmont Iland.
HE fcurvy ftill continued to make great progrefs among us, and thofe hands that were not rendered useless by disease, were worn down by exceffive labour; our veffel, which at beft was a dull failer, had been long in so bad a condition that she would not work; and on the 10th, to render our condition ftill more diftrefs- Monday 10. ful and alarming, she sprung a leak in the bows, which being under water, it was impoffible to get at while we were at fea. Such was our fituation, when on the 12th, at break of day, we Wednef. 12. discovered land: the fudden tranfport of hope and joy which this infpired, can perhaps be equalled only by that which a criminal feels who hears the cry of a reprieve at the place of execution. The land proved to be a cluster of islands, of which I counted feven, and believe there were many more. We kept on for two of them, which were right a head when land was first discovered, and feemed to lie close to
gether; in the evening we anchored on the north-eaft fide of one of them, which was the Wednef. 12. largest and the highest of the two, in about thirty fathom, with a good bottom, and at the distance of about three cables' length from the fhore. We foon after faw two of the natives, who were black, with woolly heads, and stark naked; I immediately fent the mafter out with the boat to fix upon a watering-place, and fpeak to them, but they disappeared before the could reach the fhore. The boat foon after returned with an account that there was a fine run of fresh water a-breaft of the fhip and close to the beach, but that the whole country in that part being an almost impenetrable foreft quite to the water's edge, the watering would be very difficult, and even dangerous, if the natives should come down to prevent it: that there were no efculent vegetables, for the refreshment of the fick, nor any habitations as far as the country had been examined, which was wild, forlorn, and mountainous.
Having confidered this account, and finding that a fwell, which came round the eastern part of the bay, would render watering troublesome and inconvenient, exclufive of the danger that might be apprehended from the natives, if they fhould attack us from ambushes in the wood, I determined to try whether a better fituation could not be found.
The next morning, therefore, as foon as it was light, I dispatched the mafter with fifteen men in the cutter, well armed and provided, to examine the coaft to the weftward, our prefent fituation being on the lee of the island, for a place where we might more conveniently be fupplied with wood and water, and at the fame time procure fome refreshments for the fick, and lay the fhip by the ftern to examine and stop the leak. I gave him fome beads, ribbons, and other trifles, which by chance I happened to have on board, to conciliate the good-will of the natives, if he should happen to meet with any of them; but at the fame time enjoined him to run no rifk, and gave him particular orders immediately to return to the fhip if any number of canoes fhould approach him which might bring on hoftilities; and if he fhould meet the Indians in small parties, either at fea or upon shore, to treat them with all poffible kindness, so as to establish a friendly intercourfe with them; charging him, on no account, to leave the boar himfelf, nor to suffer more than two men to go on fhore at a time, while the reft food ready for their defence; recommending to him, in the ftrongest terms, an application to his duty, without regarding any other object, as the finding a proper place for the fhip was of the utmost importance to us all; and conjuring him to re
turn as soon as this fervice should be performed, with all poffible speed.
Soon after I had dispatched the cutter on this expedition, I sent the long-boat with ten men on board well armed to the fhore, who before eight o'clock brought off a tun of water. About nine, I fent her off again, but foon after seeing fome of the natives advancing along the shore towards the place where the men landed, I made the fignal for them to return, not knowing to what number they would be expofed, and having no boat to fend off with affiftance if they should be attacked.
Our men had not long returned on board, when we saw three of the natives fit down under the trees a-breast of the fhip. As they continued there gazing at us till the afternoon, as foon as the cutter came in fight, not caring that both the boats fhould be abfent at the same time, I fent my lieutenant in the long boat, with a few beads, ribbons, and trinkets, to endeavour to establish some kind of intercourfe with them, and by their means with the rest of the inhabitants; thefe men, however, before the boat, could reach the shore, quitted their station, and proceeded along the beach. As the trees would foon prevent their being feen by our people who were making towards the land, we kept our eyes fixed upon them from the ship, and
very foon perceived that they were met by three