Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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, abreast of the ship, in great numbers, armed in the same manner as the natives of the Islands of Disappointment. Over the land on this side of the island we could see 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 sound ; but they could find no anchorage, the shore being every wbere as steep as a wall, except at the very mouth of the inlet, which was scarce, ly a ship’s length wide, and there they had thirteen fathom, with a bottom of coral rock. We stood close in with the ships, and saw hundreds of the savages, ranged in very good order, and standing up to their waists in water; they were all arined in the same 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 sigus 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 shore : 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 seized 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 of lifting it up; so that the owner bad time to prevent its being taken away, otherwise it would probably have disappeared as suddenly as the jacket. Our men bore all this with much patience, and the Indians seemed to triumph in their impunity.

About

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 saw 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 satisfied with having got rid of us quietly ; for I now perceived two large double canoes sailing after the ship, with about thirty men in each, all armed after the manner of their country. The boats were a good way to leeward of us, and the canoes passing between the ship and the shore, seemed very eagerly to give theni chacé. Upon this I made the signal for the boats to speak with the canoes, and as soon as they perceived it, they turned, and made towards the Indians, who, seeing this, were seized with a sudden panic, and immediately hauling down their sails, paddled back again at a surprising rate. Our boats however came up with them; but notwithstanding the dreadful surf that broke upon the shore, the canoes pushed through it, and the Indians immediately hauled them up upon the beach. Our boats followed them, and the Indians, dreading an invasion of their coast, prepared to defend it with clubs and stones, upon which our men fired, and killed two or three of them : Oné of them received three balls which went quite through his body; yet he afterwards took up a large stone, and died in the action of throwing it against his enemy. This man fell close to our boats, so that the Indians who remained unhurt did not dare to attempt the carrying off his body, which gave us an opportunity to exainine it; but they carried off the rest of their dead, and made the best of their way back to their companions at the inlet. Our boats then returned, and brought off the two canoes which they had pursued. One of them was thirty-two feet long, and the other somewhat less, but they were both of a very curious construction, and must have cost those who made them infinite labour. They consisted of planks exceedingly well wrought, and in many places adorned with carving; these planks were sewed together, and over every seam there was a stripe of tortoise-shell, very artificially fastened, to keep out the weather : Their bottoms were as sharp as a wedge, and they were very narrow; and therefore two of them

were

were joined laterally together by a couple of strong spars, so that there was a space of about six or eight feet between them : A mast was hoisted in each of them, and the sail was spread between the masts : The sail, which I preserved, and which is now in my possession, is made of matting, and is as neat a piece of work as ever I saw : their paddles were very curious, and their cordage was as good and as well laid as any in England, though it appeared to be made of the outer covering of the cocoa-nut. When these vessels sail, several men sit upon the spars which hold the canoes together.

As the surf, which broke very high upon the shore, rendered it impossible to procure refreshments for the sick in this part of the island, I hauled the wind, and worked back to the inlet, being determined to try once more what could be done there.

I recovered that station in the afternoon, and immediately sent the boats to sound the inlet again, but they confirmed the account which had been made before, that it afforded no anchorage for a ship. While the boats were absent, I observed a great number of the natives upon the point near the spot where we had left them in the morning, and they seemed to be very busy in loading a great number of large canoes which lay close to the beach. As I thought they might be troublesome, and was unwilling that they should suffer by another unequal contest with our people, I fired a shot over their heads, which produced the effect I intended, for they all disappeared in a moment.

Just before the evening closed in, our boats landed, and got a few cocoa-nuts, which they brought off, and saw none of the inhabitants. In the night, during which we had rain and hard squalls, 1 stood off and on with the ships, and at seven o'clock in the morning brought-to off the inlet. I immediately sent the boats on shore in search of refreshments, and made all the men who were not so ill of the scurvy as to be laid up, go in them; I also went on shore myself, and continued there the whole day. We saw many houses or wigwams of the natives, but they were totally deserted, except by the dogs, who kept an incessant howling from the time we came on shore till we returned to the ship: They were low mean hovels, thatched with cocoa-nut branches; but they were most delightfully situated in a fine grove of stately trees, many of which were the cocoa-nut, and many such as we were utterly unacquainted with. The cocoa-nut trees seem to furnish them with almost all the ne. cessaries of life ; particularly food, sails, cordage, timber, and vessels to hold water; so that probably these people always fix their habitations where the trees abound. We observed the shore to be covered with coral, and the shells of very large pearl oysters; so that I make no doubt but that as profitable a pearl fishery might be established here as any in the world. We saw but little of the people, except at a distance; we could however perceive that the women had a piece of cloth of some kind, probably fabricated of the same stuff as their sail, hanging from the waist as low as the knee; the men were naked.

many

Our people, in rummaging some of the huts, found the carved head of a rudder, which had manifestly belonged to a Dutch long-boat, and was very old and worm-eaten. They found also a piece of hammered iron, a piece of brass, and some small iron tools, which the ancestors of the present inhabitants of this place probably obtained from the Dutch ship to which the long-boat bad belonged, all which I brought away with me. Whether these people found means to cut off the ship, or whether she was lost upon the island, or after she left it, cannot be known; but there is reason to believe that she never returned to Europe, because no account of her voyage, or of any discoveries that she made, is extant. If the ship sailed from this place in safety, it is not perhaps easy to account for her leaving the rudder of her long-boat behind her : And if she was cut off by the natives, there must be much more considerable remains of her in the island, especially of her iron-work, upon which all Indian nations, who have no metal, set the highest vaJue ; we had no opportunities however to examine this matter farther. The hammered-iron, brass, and iron tools, I brought away with me; but we found a tool exactly in the form of a carpenter's adze, the blade of which was a pearl oyster-shell ; possibly this might have been made in imitation of an adze which had belonged to the carpenter of the Dutch ship, for among the tools that I brought away there was one which seemed to be the remains of such an implement, though it was worn away almost to nothing.

Close to the houses of these people, we saw buildings of another kind, which appeared to be burying-places, and from which we judged that they had great veneration for their dead. They were situated under lofty trees, that gave a thick shade; the sides and tops were of stone ; and in their figure they somewhat resembled the square tombs, with a fat top, which are always to be found in our country church-yards. Near these buildings we found many neat boxes full of human bones, and upon the branches of the trees which shaded them, hung a great number of the heads and bones of turtle, and a variety of fish, inclosed in a kind of basket-work of reeds : Some of the fish we took down, and found that nothing remained but the skin and the teeth; the bones and entrails seemed to have been extracted, and the muscular flesh dried away.

We sent off several boat-loads of cocoa-nuts, and a great quantity of scurvy-grass, with which the island is covered ; refreshments wbich were of infinite service to us, as by this time I believe there was not a man among us wholly untouched by the scurvy.

The fresh water here is very good, but it is scarce; the wells which supply the natives are so small, that when two or three cocoa-nut shells have been filled from them, they are dry for a few minutes ; but as they presently fill again, if a little pains were taken to enlarge them, they would abundantly supply any ship with water.

We saw no venomous creature here ; but the flies were an intolerable torment, they covered us from head to foot, and filled not only the boat, but the ships. We saw great numbers of parrots and paroquets, and several other birds which were altogether unknown to us; we saw also a beautiful kind of dove, so tame that some of them frequently came close to us, and even followed us into the Indian huts.

All this day the natives kept themselves closely concealed, and did not even make a smoke upon any part of the islands as far as we could see ; probably fearing that a smoké might discover the place of their retreat. In the evening, we all returned on board the ship.

This part of the island lies in latitude 14° 29' S., longitude 148° 50' W. and after I got on board, I hauled a litile way farther from the shore, intending to visit the other island in the morning, which had been seen to the westward of that before which the ship lay, and which is distant about sixtynine leagues from the Islands of Disappointment, in the direction of W. I S. The next morning at six o'clock, I made sail for the

« ZurückWeiter »