Abbildungen der Seite

1765- first discovered, and we must have passed very near it

June. . , . . » '

.in the night.

I stood for the small island, which as we drew near it had a most beautiful appearance; it was surrounded by a beach os the finest white sand, and within, it •was covered with tall trees, which extended their (hade to a great distance, and formed the most delightful groves that can be imagined without underwood. We judged this island to be about five miles in circumference, and from each end of it we saw a spit running out into the sea, upon which the surge broke with great fury ; there was also a great furs all round it. We soon perceived that it was inhabited; for many of the natives appeared upon the beach, with spears in their hands that were at least sixteen feet long. They presently made several large fires, which we supposed to be a signal; for we immediately perceived several fires upon the larger island that was to windward of us, by which we knew that also to be inhabited. I sent the boat with an officer to look for an anchoring place, who, to our great regret ar.d disappointment, returned with an account that he had been all round the island, and that no bottom could be found within less than a cable's length of the shore, which was surrounded close to the beach with a steep coral rock. The scurvy by this time had made dreadful havock among us,, many of my best men being now confined to their hammocks; the poor wretches who were able to crawl upon the deck, stood gazing at this little Paradise which Nature had forbidden them to enter, with sensations which cannot easily be conceived; they saw cocoa-nuts in great abundance, the milk of which is perhaps the most powerful 'antiscorbutic in the world: they had reason to suppose that there were limes, bananas, and other fruits which are generally found between the tropics; and to increase their mortification they saw the shells of many turtles scattered about the shore. These refreshments, indeed, for want of which they were languishing to death, were as effectually beyond their reach as if there had been half the circumference of the world between them; yet their being in sight, was no considerable increase of the distress, which they suffered by the want of them. Their situation in itself indeed was no worse than it -would have been if the obstacle to their wishes had been distance, and not a reef of rocks ; and both being alike insuperable, a being wholly under the insluence of reason, would, by both, have been equally asfected; but this is a situation, among many others, that may be remarked by a diligent observer, in which reason cannot preserve mankind trom the power which fancy is perpetually exertingto aggravate the calamities of life. When I knew the soundings, I could not forbear standing close round the island with the ship, though I also knew it was impossible to procure any of the refreshments which it produced. The natives ran along the shore a-breast of the ship, shouting and dancing; they also frequently brandished their long spears, and then threw themselves backward, and lay a few minutes motionless, as if thev had been dead: this we understood as a menace that they would kill us, if we ventured to go on shore. As we were failing along the coast, we took notice that in one place the natives had fixed upright in the sand two spears, to the top of which they had fastened several things that sluttered in the air, and that some of them were every noment kneeling down before them, as we supposed, invoking the assistance of some invisible Being to defend them against us. While I was thus circumnavigating the island with the ship, I sent the boats out again to sound, and when they came near the shore, the Indians set up one of the most hideous yells I had ever heard, pointing at the fame time to their spears, and poising in their hands large stones which they took up from the beach. Our men on the contrary made all the signs of amity and good-will that they could devise, and at the same time threw them bread and many other things, none of which they vouchsased so much as to touch, but with great expedition hauled five or six large canoes, which we saw lying upon the beach, up into the wood. When this was done, they waded into the water, and seemed to watch for an opportunity of laying hold of the boat, that they might drag her on shore: the people on board her, apprehending that this was their design, and that it they got them on shore they would certainly put


[graphic][merged small]

'76J- them to death, were very impatient to be before-hand . -1 * , with them, and would fain have fired upon them; but the officer on board, having no permission from me to commit any hostilities, restrained them. I should indeed have thought myself at liberty to have obtained by force the refreshments, for want of which our people were dying, if it had been possible to have come to an anchor, supposing we could not have made these poor favages our friends; but nothing could justify the taking away their lives for a mere imaginary or intentional injury, without procuring the least advantage to ourselves. They were of a deep copper colour, exceedingly stout and well-limbed, and remarkably.nimble and active, for I never faw men run so fast in my lise. This island lies in latitude 14° 5' S. longitude I45°4' W. from the meridian of London. As the boats reported a second time that there was no anchoring ground about this island, I determined to .work up to the other, which was accordingly done all the rest of the day and the following night. 8«or. 8. At fix o'clock in the morning of the 8th, we

brought to on the west fide of it, at the distance of about three quarters of a mile from the shore, but we had no soundings with one hundred an^ forty fathom of line. We now perceived several other low islands, or rather peninsulas, most of them being joined one to the other by a neck of land, very narrow, and almost level with the surface of the water, which breaks high over it. In approaching these islands the cocoa-nut trees are first discovered, as they are higher than any part of the surface. I sent a boat with an officer from each ship to sound the lee-side of these istands for an anchoring place; and as soon as they left the ship. I faw the Indians run down to the beach in great numbers, armed with long spears and clubs: they kept a-breast of the boats as they went sounding along the shore, and used many threatening gestures to prevent their landing. I therefore fired a nine pound shot from theshipover their heads, upon which they ran into the woods with great precipitation. At ten o'clock the boats returned, but could get no soundings close in with the surf, which broke very high upon the shore. The middle of this cluster of islands lies in latitude 140 io' S. longitude gitude 144° 52' W. the variation of the compass was »76Shere 40 30' E. . •,une'

At half an hour aster ten, we bore away and made fail to the westward, finding it impossible to procure at thefe islands any refreshment for our sick, whose situation was becoming more deplorable every hour, and I therefore called them thels Lands Of Dis AppointMent.


The Discovery of King George's I/lands, with a description of them, and an Account of several Incidents that happened there.

AT half an hour aster five o'clock in the asternoon of the 9th, we saw land again bearing W. S. Sund. 9. W. at the distance of six or seven leagues; and at seven we brought to for the night. In the morning, Mond. i». being within three miles of the shore, we discovered it to be a long low island, with a white beach, of a pleasant appearance^ full of cocoa-nut and other trees, and surrounded with a rock of red coral. We stood along the north east side of it, within half a mile of the shore; and the savages, as soon as they saw us, made great fires, as we supposed, to alarm the distant inhabitants of the island, and ran along the beach, a-breast of the ship, in great numbers, armed in the fame manner as the natives of the Islands of Disappointment. Over the land on this side of the island we could fee a large lake of salt water, or lagoon, which appeared to be two or three leagues wide, and to reach within a small distance of the opposite shore. Into this lagoon we saw a small inlet about a league from the south-west point, off which we brought to. At this place the natives have built a little town, under the shade of a fine grove of cocoa.-nut trees. I immediately sent off the boats, with an officer in each, to found; but they could find no anchorage, the shore being every where as steep as a wall, except at the very' mouth of the inlet, which was scarcely a ship's length wide, and there they had thirteen fathom, with a bottom of coral


i76S- rock. We stood close in with the ships, and faw hun-1 '"'" .dreds of the favages, ranged in very good order, and standing up to their waists in "water; they were all armed in the fame manner as those that we had seen at the other islands, and one of them carried a piece of mat fastened to the top of a pole, which we imagined was an ensign. They made a most hideous and incessant noise, and in a short time many large canoes came down the lake to,join them. Our boats were still out, and the people on board them made all the signs of friendship that they could invent, upon which some of the canoes came through the inlet and drew near them. We now began to hope that a friendly intercourse might be established ; but we soon discovered that the Indians had no other design than to haul the boats on more: many of them leaped off the rocks, and swam to them ; and one of them got into that which belonged to the Tamar, and in the twinkling of an eye seize"cl a seaman's jacket, and jumping over board with it, never once appeared above water till he was close in shore among his companions. Another of them got hold of a midshipman's hat, but not knowing how to take it off, he pulled it downward instead X>{ lifting it up; so that the owner had time to prevent its being taken away, otherwise it would probably have difappeared as suddenly as the jacket; our men bore all this with much patience, and the Indians seemed to triumph in their impunity.

About noon, finding there was no anchorage here, I bore away and steered along the shore to the westermost point of the island : the boats immediately followed us, and kept sounding close to the beach, but could get no ground.

When we came to the westermost point of this island, we faw another, bearing S. W. by W. about four leagues distant. We were at this time about a league beyond the inlet where we had left the natives, but they were not fatisfied with having got rid of us quietly; for I now perceived two large double canoes failing after the ship, with about thirty men in each, all armed after the manner of their country. The boats were a good way to the leeward of us, and the canoes, passing between the ship and the shore, seemed very


« ZurückWeiter »