Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

island which I intended to visit, and when I reached it, I steered S. W. by W. close along the north-east side of it, but could get no soundings : This side is about six or seven leagues long, and the whole makes much the same appearance as the other, having a large salt-water lake in the middle of it. As soon as the ship came in sight, the natives ran down to the beach in great numbers : They were armed in the same manner as those that we had seen upon the other island, and kept abreast of the ship for several leagues. As the heat of this climate is very great, they seemed to suffer much by running so far in the sun, for they sometimes plunged into the sea, and sometimes fell flat upon the sand, that the surf might break over them, after which they renewed the race with great vigour. Our boats were at this time sounding along the shore, as usual, but I had given strict orders to the officers who commanded them never to molest the natives, except it should become absolutely necessary for their own defence, but to try all possible means to obtain their confidence and good will : Our people therefore went as near to the shore as they durst for the surf, and made signs that they wanted water; the Indians readily understood them, and directed them to run down farther along the shore, which they did, till they came abreast of such a cluster of houses as we had just left upon the other island: to this place the Indians still followed them, and were there joined by many others : The boals immediately hauled close into the surf, and we brought-to, with the ships, at a little distance from the shore, upon which a stout old man, with a long white beard, that gave him a very venerable appearance, came down from the houses to the beach. He was attended by a young man, and appeared to have the authority of a chief or king: The rest of the Indians, at a sig. nal which he made, retired to a little distance, and he then advanced quite to the water's edge; in one hand he held the green branch of a tree, and in the other he grasped his beard, which he pressed to his bosom ; in this attitude ho made a long oration, or rather song, for it had a musical cadence which was by no means disagreeable. We regretted infinitely that we could not understand what he said to us, and not less that he could not understand any thing which we should say to him ; to shew our good-will, however, we threw him some trifling presents, while he was yet speaking, but he would neither touch them himself, nor suffer them to

be

be touched by others till he had done : He then walked into the water, and threw our people the green branch, after which he took up the things which had been thrown from the boals. Every thing now having a friendly appearance, our people made signs that they should lay down their arms, and most of them having complied, one of the midshipmen, encouraged by this testimony of confidence and friendship, leaped out of the boat with his clothes on, and swam through the surf to shore. The Indians immediately gathered round him, and began to examine his clothes with great curiosity; they seemed particularly to admire his waistcoat, and being willing to gratify his new friends, he took it off, and presented it to them; this courtesy, however, produced a disagreeable effect, for he had no sooner given away

bis waistcoat, than one of the Indians very ingeniously untied his cravat, and the next moment snatched it from his neck, and ran away with it. Our adventurer, therefore, to prevent his being stripped by piece-meal, made the best of his way back again to the boat : Still, however, we were upon good terms, and several of the Indians swam off to our people, some of them bringing a cocoa-nut, and others a little fresh water in a cocoa-nut shell. But the principal object of our boats was to obtain some pearls; and the men, to assist them in explaining their meaning, had taken with them some of the pearl oystershells which they had found in great numbers upon the coast; but all their endeavours were ineffectual, for they could not, even with this assistance, at all make themselves understood. It is indeed probable that we should have succeeded better, if an intercourse of any kind could have been established between us, but it was our misfortune that no anchorage could be found for the ships. As all Indians are fond of beads, it can scarcely be supposed that the pearls, which the oysters at this place contained, were overlooked by the natives, and it is more than probable that if we could have continued here a few weeks, we might have obtained some of great value in exchange for nails, hatchets, and billhooks, upon which the natives, with more reason, set a much higher value. We observed, that in the lake, or lagoon, there were two or three very large vessels, one of which had two masts, and some cordage aloft to support them.

To these two islands, I gave the name of King George's Islands, in honour of his majesty. That which we last visited lies in latitude 14° 41' S., longitude 149° 15' W.; the variation of the compass here was 5° E.

ed,

Section X.

The Run from King George's Islands to the Islands of Say

pan, Tinian, and Aguigan; with an Account of several islands that were discovered in that Track.

WE pursued our course to the westward the same day, and the next, about three o'clock in the afternoon, we saw land again, bearing S.S.W. distant about six leagues. We immediately stood for it, and found it to be a low and very narrow island, lying east and west: we ran along the south side of it, which had a green and pleasant appearance, but a dreadful surf breaks upon every part of it, with foul ground at some distance, and many rocks and small islands scattered at about three leagues from the shore. We found it about twenty leagues in length, and it appeared to abound with inhabitants, though we could only get a transient glance of them as we passed along. To this place I

gave the name of the Prince of Wales's Island. It lies in latitude 15° S. and the westermost end of it in longitude 151° 53' W. It is distant from King George's Islands about eightand-forty leagues, in the direction of S. 80 W. the variation here was 5° 30' E.

From the western extremity of this island, we steered N. 82 W. and at noon on the 16th, were in latitude 14° 28' S. longitude 156° 23' W. the variation being 7° 40 E. The wind was now easterly, and we had again the same mountainous swell from the southward that we had before we made the Islands of Direction, and which, from that time to this day, we had lost: When we lost that swell, and for some days before, we saw vast flocks of birds, which we observed always took their flight to the southward when evening was coming on. These appearances persuaded me that there was land in the same direction, and I am of opipion, that if the winds had not failed me in the higher latitudes, I should have fallen in with it: I would indeed at this time have hauled away to the southward, and attempted the discovery, if our people had been healthy, for having observed that all the islands we had seen were full of inhabitants, I was still more confirmed in my opinion ; aś I could account for their being peopled only by supposing a chain of islands reaching to a continent; but the sickness of the crews, in both ships, was an insuperable impediment.

that

No doubt to the Navigators' Islands, so called by Bougainville. Cap; tain Wallis touched at one of them, and named them Boscawen's and Keppel's Islands. Peyrouse has given a very curio but not a pleasing account of their inhabitants. To the south of them again are the Friendly Islands.-E.

The next day we again saw many birds of various sorts about the ship, and therefore supposed that some other island was not fär distant, for the swell continuing, I concluded that the land was not of very great extent: I proceeded, however, with caution, for the islands in this part of the ocean render the navigation very dangerous, they being so low, that a ship may be close in with them before they are seen. We saw nothing, however, on the 18th, the 19th, nor the 20th, during which we continued to steer the same course, though the birds still continued about the vessel in great numbers. Our latitude was now 12° 33' S. longitude 167° 47' W. The Prince of Wales's Island was distant 313 leagues, and the variation of the needle was go 15' E. The next morning about seven o'clock, we discovered a most dangerous reef of breakers, bearing S.S.W. and not farther distant than a single league. In about half an hour afterwards, land was seen from the mast-head, bearing W.N.W. and distant about eight leagues; it had the appearance of three islands, with rocks and broken ground between them. The south-east side of these islands lies N.E. by N. and S.W. by S. and is about three leagues in length between the extreme points, from both which a reef runs out, upon which the sea breaks to a tremendous height. We sailed round the north end, and upon the north-west and west side, saw innumerable rocks and shoals, which stretched near two leagues into the sea, and were extremely danger

The islands themselves had a more fertile and beautiful appearance than any we had seen before, and, like the rest, swarmed with people, whose habitations we saw standing in clusters all along the coast. We saw also a large vessel under sail, at a little distance from the shore ; but to

ous.

our

our unspeakable regret we were obliged to leave the place without farther examination, for it was surrounded in every direction by roeks and breakers, which rendered the hazard more than equivalent to every advantage we might procure. At this time I took these for part of the islands called Solomon's Islands, and was in hopes that I should fall in with others of them, in some of which we might find an har, bour.

The reef of rocks wbich we first saw as we approached these islands, lies in latitude 10° 15' S. longitude 169° 28' W. and it bears from Prince of Wales's Island N. 76° 487 W. distant 352 leagues. The islands bear from the reef W.N.W. distant nine leagues : I called them the Islands of Danger, and steered from them N.W. by W. allowing for the variation.

After having seen the breakers soon after it was light in the morning, I told my officers that I apprehended wę should have frequent alarms in the night; at night, therefore, every body was upon the watch, which a very hard squall of wind, with rain, rendered the more necessary, About nine o'clock, having just gone down into my cabin, I heard a great noise above, and when I enquired what was the matter, I was told that the Tamar, who was a-head, had fired a gun, and that our people saw breakers to leeward : I ran instantly upon deck, and soon perceived that what had been taken for breakers was nothing more than the undulating reflection of the moon, which was going down, and shone faintly from bebind a cloud in the horizon ; we therefore bore away after the Tamar, but did not get sight of her till an hour afterwards.

Nothing worthy of notice happened till Monday the 24th, when, about ten o'clock in the morning, we discovered another island, bearing S.S.W. distant about seven or eight leagues: We steered for it, and found it to be low, but covered with wood, among which were cocoa-nut trees in great abundance, It had a pleasant appearance, and a large lake in the middle, like King George's Island : It is near thirty miles in circumference, a dreadful sea breaks upon almost every part of the coast, and a great deal of foul ground lies about it. We sailed quite round it, and when we were on the lee-side, sent out boats to sound, in hopes of finding anchorage: No soundings, however, were to bę got near the shore, but I sent the boats out a second time, with or

ders

« ZurückWeiter »