OF THE MUTINY,
ON BOARD THE SHIP GLOBE, OF NANTUCKET,
IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN, JAN. 1824 AND THE JOURNAL
OF A RESIDENCE OF TWO YEARS ON THE MULGRAVE ISLANDS;
WITH OBSERVATIONS ON THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE INHABITANTS.
BY WILLIAM LAY, OF SAYBROOK, CONN. AND CYRUS M. HUSSEY, OF NANTUCKET:
The only Survivors from the Massacre of the Ship's Company by the Natives.
NEW-LONDON: PUBLISHED BY WM. LAY, AND C. M. HUSSEY.
INTRODUCTION. v CHAPTER I. 11 CHAPTER II. 27 CHAPTER III. 50 CHAPTER IV. 72 CHAPTER V. 77 CHAPTER VI. 98 CHAPTER VII. 130 CHAPTER VIII. 138 CHAPTER IX. 154 VOCABULARY. 165
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, TO WIT
District Clerk's Office.
Be it remembered, that on the twenty-fourth day of October, A. D. 1827, in the fifty-second year of the independence of the United States of America, WILLIAM LAY and CYRUS M. HUSSEY, of the said District, have deposited in this Office, the title of a Book, the Right whereof they claim as Proprietors, in the words following, to wit:
"A Narrative of the mutiny on board the Ship Globe, of Nantucket, in the Pacific Ocean, Jan. 1824, and a Journal of a residence of two years on the Mulgrave Islands, with observations on the manners and customs of the inhabitants. By William Lay, of Saybrook, Conn. and Cyrus M. Hussey, of Nantucket, the only Survivors from the Massacre of the Ship's Company, by the Natives."
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States entitled "an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies during the times therein mentioned:" and also to an act entitled "an act supplementary to an act, entitled an act, for the encouragement of learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books to the Authors and Proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of Designing, Engraving, and Etching Historical and other Prints."
JNO. W. DAVIS, Clerk of the District of Massachusetts.
—————————— S. Green, Printer. ——————————
TO JOHN PERCIVAL, ESQ.
OF THE U. S. NAVY,
Who, under the auspices of Government, visited the Mulgrave Islands, to release the survivors of the Ship Globe's crew, and extended to them every attention their unhappy situation required—the following Narrative is most respectfully dedicated, by
WILLIAM LAY, & CYRUS M. HUSSEY, The Authors.
Formerly whales were principally taken in the North Seas: the largest were generally found about Spitzbergen, or Greenland, some of them measuring ninety feet in length. At the commencement of the hazardous enterprize of killing whales, before they had been disturbed by man, they were so numerous in the bays and harbours, that when taken the blubber was for the most part boiled into oil upon the contiguous coast.
The pure oil and whale bone were only preserved in those days; consequently a ship could carry home the product of a greater number of whales than a ship of the same size now can.—Indeed, so plentiful were the whales in those seas, and taken with such facility, that the ships employed, were not sufficient to carry home the oil and bone, and other ships were often sent to bring home the surplus quantity. But the coasts of these countries, were soon visited by ships from Denmark, Hamburgh, and Holland, as well as from England; and from frequently being killed in the shoal water near the coasts, the whales gradually receded from the shores, and have since been found only in deeper water, and at a much greater distance from the land.
In the earlier stages of the whale fishery, of which we are now treating, the ships were generally on the whaling waters, early in May, and whether successful or not, they were obliged to commence their return by the succeeding August, to avoid the early accumulation of ice in those seas. But it not unfrequently happened, that ships procured and returned with a cargo in the months of June and July, making a voyage only about three months, whereas, a voyage to the Pacific Ocean is now often protracted to three years!
Among the early whalers it was customary to have six boats to a ship, and six men to a boat, besides the harpooner. What at that time was considered an improved method in killing whales, consisted in discharging the harpoon, from a kind of swivel; but it was soon found to be attended with too much inconvenience to be much practised, and the muscular arms and steady nerves of the harpooner, have ever since performed the daring duty, of first striking the whale. The ropes attached to the harpoon, used to be about 200 fathoms in length, and some instances occurred, that all the lines belonging to six boats, were fastened together and ran out by one whale, the animal descending in nearly a perpendicular line from the surface. Instead of going prepared to bring home a ship load of oil, it was customary to bring only the blubber, and instead of trying the oil out and putting it into casks on board, the fat of the whale was cut up into suitable pieces, pressed hard in tubs carried out for the purpose, and in this situation was the return cargo received at home.
Of so great consequence was the whale fishery considered to Great Britain, that a bounty of 40s. for every ton, when the ship was 200 tons, or upwards, was given to the crews of ships engaged in that business in the Greenland seas, under certain conditions. But this bounty was found to draw too largely upon the treasury; and while the subject was under discussion in the British Parliament, in 1786, it was stated that the sums which that country had paid in bounties to the Greenland fishers, amounted to 1,265,461 pounds sterling. Six thousand seamen were employed in that fishery, and each cost the government L13 10s. per annum. The great encouragement given to that branch of commerce, caused so large a number to engage in it, that the oil market became glutted, and it was found necessary to export considerable quantities.
In 1786, the number of British ships engaged in the whale fishery to Davis's Strait and the Greenland seas, was 139, besides 15 from Scotland. In 1787, notwithstanding the bounty had been diminished, the number of English ships was 217, and the following year 222.
The charter right of the Island of Nantucket, was bought by Thomas Mayhew, of Watertown, of Joseph Ferrick, steward to Lord Sterling, in 1641; and afterwards sold to Tristram Coffin, and his associates, who settled upon it in 1659. On the 10th of May, 1660, Sachems, Wonnook, and Nickannoose, for and in behalf of the nations of the Island, in consideration of the sum of 26l. sterling, conveyed by deed, about half of the Island, to the first ten purchasers, who afterwards took in other associates.
Whaling from Nantucket, was first carried on from the shore in boats. In 1672, James Loper entered into a contract with the inhabitants of the Island, for the purpose of prosecuting the whale fishery, by which it appears that James Loper agreed to be one third in the enterprize, and sundry other people of the Island, the other two thirds, in every thing connected with the undertaking. It was further stipulated, that for every whale killed by any one of the contracting party, the town should receive five shillings, and for the encouragement of James Loper, the town granted him ten acres of land in some convenient situation, and liberty for the commonage of three cows, twenty sheep and one horse, with necessary wood and water for his use, on condition that he should follow the trade of whaling for two years, build upon his land, &c. &c.
Thus it will be seen that the commencement of whaling at Nantucket, was on a very small scale, and practised only along the shores of the Island;—whereas, at this time, our ships leave no seas unexplored in pursuit of these monsters of the deep. We might pursue the subject through the various stages of improvement up to this time, but it would swell this introduction beyond the limits designed. It is proper, however, to observe that the present number of ships employed in the whale fishery from Nantucket, is about 70, averaging about 350 tons each, and manned by about 1500 seamen.
The Ship Globe, on board of which vessel occurred the horrid transactions we are about to relate, belonged to the Island of Nantucket; she was owned by Messrs. C. Mitchell, & Co. and other merchants of that place; and commanded on this voyage by Thomas Worth, of Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard. William Beetle, (mate,) John Lumbert, (2d mate,) Nathaniel Fisher, (3d mate,) Gilbert Smith, (boat steerer,) Samuel B. Comstock, do. Stephen Kidder, seaman, Peter C. Kidder, do. Columbus Worth, do. Rowland Jones, do. John Cleveland, do. Constant Lewis, do. Holden Henman, do. Jeremiah Ingham, do. Joseph Ignasius Prass, do. Cyrus M. Hussey, cooper, Rowland Coffin, do. George Comstock, seaman, and William Lay, do.
On the 15th day of December, we sailed from Edgarton, on a whaling voyage, to the Pacific Ocean, but in working out, having carried away the cross-jack-yard, we returned to port, and after having refitted and sent aloft another, we sailed again on the 19th, and on the same day anchored in Holmes' Hole. On the following day a favourable opportunity offering to proceed to sea, we got under way, and after having cleared the land, discharged the pilot, made sail, and performed the necessary duties of stowing the anchors, unbending and coiling away the cables, &c.—On the 1st of January 1823, we experienced a heavy gale from N. W. which was but the first in the catalogue of difficulties we were fated to encounter.—As this was our first trial of a seaman's life, the scene presented to our view, "mid the howling storm," was one of terrific grandeur, as well as of real danger. But as the ship scudded well, and the wind was fair, she was kept before it, under a close reefed main-top-sail and fore-sail, although during the gale, which lasted forty-eight hours, the sea frequently threatened to board us, which was prevented by the skillful management of the helm. On the 9th of January we made the Cape Verd Islands, bearing S. W. twenty-five miles distant, and on the 17th, crossed the Equator. On the 29th of the same month we saw sperm whales, lowered our boats, and succeeded in taking one; the blubber of which, when boiled out, yielded us seventy-five barrels of oil. Pursuing our voyage, on the twenty-third of February we passed the Falkland Islands, and about the 5th of March, doubled the great promontory of South America, Cape Horn, and stood to the Northward.
We saw whales once only before we reached the Sandwich Islands, which we made on the first of May early in the morning. When drawing in with the Island of Hawaii about four in the afternoon, the man at the mast head gave notice that he saw a shoal of black fish on the lee bow; which we soon found to be canoes on their way to meet us. It falling calm at this time prevented their getting along side until night fall, which they did, at a distance of more than three leagues from the land. We received from them a very welcome supply of potatoes, sugar cane, yams, cocoanuts, bananas, fish, &c. for which we gave them in return, pieces of iron hoop, nails, and similar articles. We stood off and on during the next day, and after obtaining a sufficient supply of vegetables and fruit, we shaped our course for Oahu, at which place we arrived on the following day, and after lying there twenty hours, sailed for the coast of Japan, in company with the whaling ships Palladium of Boston, and Pocahontas of Falmouth; from which ships we parted company when two days out.—After cruising in the Japan seas several months, and obtaining five hundred and fifty barrels of oil, we again shaped our course for the Sandwich Islands, to obtain a supply of vegetables, &c.
While lying at Oahu, six of the men deserted in the night; two of them having been re-taken were put in irons, but one of them having found means to divest himself of his irons, set the other at liberty, and both escaped.
To supply their places, we shipped the following persons, viz: Silas Payne, John Oliver, Anthony Hanson, a native of Oahu, Wm. Humphries, a black man, and steward, and Thomas Lilliston.—Having accommodated ourselves with as many vegetables and much fruit as could be preserved, we again put to sea, fondly anticipating a successful cruise, and a speedy and happy meeting with our friends. After leaving Oahu we ran to the south of the Equator, and after cruising a short time for whales without much success, we steered for Fannings Island, which lies in lat. 3, 49 N. and long. 158, 29 W. While cruising off this Island an event occurred which, whether we consider the want of motives, or the cold blooded and obstinate cruelty with which it was perpetrated, has not often been equalled.—We speak of the want of motives, because, although some occurrences which we shall mention, had given the crew some ground for dissatisfaction, there had been no abuse or severity which could in the least degree excuse or palliate so barbarous a mode of redress and revenge. During our cruise to Japan the season before, many complaints were uttered by the crew among themselves, with respect to the manner and quantity in which they received their meat, the quantity sometimes being more than sufficient for the number of men, and at others not enough to supply the ship's company; and it is fair to presume, that the most dissatisfied, deserted the ship at Oahu.
But the reader will no doubt consider it superfluous for us to attempt an unrequired vindication of the conduct of the officers of the Globe whose aim was to maintain a correct discipline, which should result in the furtherance of the voyage and be a benefit to all concerned, more especially when he is informed, that part of the men shipped at Oahu, in the room of the deserters, were abandoned wretches, who frequently were the cause of severe reprimands from the officers, and in one instance one of them received a severe flogging. The reader will also please to bear in mind, that Samuel B. Comstock, the ringleader of the mutiny, was an officer, (being a boat-steerer,) and as is customary, ate in the cabin. The conduct and deportment of the Captain towards this individual, was always decorous and gentlemanly, a proof of intentions long premeditated to destroy the ship. Some of the crew were determined to leave the ship provided she touched at Fannings Island, and we believe had concerted a plan of escape, but of which the perpetration of a deed chilling to humanity, precluded the necessity. We were at this time in company with the ship Lyra, of New-Bedford, the Captain of which, had been on board the Globe during the most of the day, but had returned in the evening to his own ship. An agreement had been made by him with the Captain of the Globe, to set a light at midnight as a signal for tacking. It may not be amiss to acquaint the reader of the manner in which whalemen keep watch during the night. They generally carry three boats, though some carry four, five, and sometimes six, the Globe, however, being of the class carrying three. The Captain, mate, and second mate stand no watch except there is blubber to be boiled; the boat-steerers taking charge of the watch and managing the ship with their respective boats crews, and in this instance dividing the night into three parts, each taking a third. It so happened that Smith after keeping the first watch, was relieved by Comstock, (whom we shall call by his sir name in contradistinction to his brother George) and the waist boat's crew, and the former watch retired below to their births and hammocks. George Comstock took the helm, and during his trick, received orders from his brother to "keep the ship a good full," swearing that the ship was too nigh the wind. When his time at the helm had expired he took the rattle, (an instrument used by whalemen, to announce the expiration of the hour, the watch, &c.) and began to shake it, when Comstock came to him, and in the most peremptory manner, ordered him to desist, saying "if you make the least damn bit of noise I'll send you to hell!" He then lighted a lamp and went into the steerage. George becoming alarmed at this conduct of his unnatural brother, again took the rattle for the purpose of alarming some one; Comstock arrived in time to prevent him, and with threatenings dark and diabolical, so congealed the blood of his trembling brother, that even had he possessed the power of alarming the unconscious and fated victims below, his life would have been the forfeit of his temerity!
Comstock, now laid something heavy upon a small work bench near the cabin gangway, which was afterwards found to be a boarding knife. It is an instrument used by whalers to cut the blubber when hoisting it in, is about four feet in length, two or three inches wide, and necessarily kept very sharp, and for greater convenience when in use, is two edged.
In giving a detail of this chilling transaction, we shall be guided by the description given of it by the younger Comstock, who, as has been observed, was upon deck at the time, and afterwards learned several particulars from his brother, to whom alone they could have been known. Comstock went down into the cabin, accompanied by Silas Payne or Paine, of Sag-Harbour, John Oliver, of Shields, Eng., William Humphries, (the steward) of Philadelphia, and Thomas Lilliston; the latter, however, went no farther than the cabin gangway, and then ran forward and turned in. According to his own story he did not think they would attempt to put their designs in execution, until he saw them actually descending into the cabin, having gone so far, to use his own expression, to show himself as brave as any of them. But we believe he had not the smallest idea of assisting the villains. Comstock entered the cabin so silently as not to be perceived by the man at the helm, who was first apprised of his having begun the work of death, by the sound of a heavy blow with an axe, which he distinctly heard.
The Captain was asleep in a hammock, suspended in the cabin, his state room being uncomfortably warm; Comstock approaching him with the axe, struck him a blow upon the head, which was nearly severed in two by the first stroke! After repeating the blow, he ran to Payne, who it seems was stationed with the before mentioned boarding knife, to attack the mate, as soon as the Captain was killed. At this instant, Payne making a thrust at the mate, he awoke, and terrified, exclaimed, "what! what! what!" "Is this——Oh! Payne! Oh! Comstock!" "Don't kill me, don't;" "have I not always——" Here Comstock interrupted him, saying, "Yes! you have always been a d—d rascal; you tell lies of me out of the ship will you? It's a d—d good time to beg now, but you're too late," here the mate sprang, and grasped him by the throat. In the scuffle, the light which Comstock held in his hand was knocked out, and the axe fell from his hand; but the grasp of Mr. Beetle upon his throat, did not prevent him from making Payne understand that his weapon was lost, who felt about until he found it, and having given it to Comstock, he managed to strike him a blow upon the head, which fractured his skull; when he fell into the pantry where he lay groaning until despatched by Comstock! The steward held a light at this time, while Oliver put in a blow as often as possible!
The second and third mates, fastened in their state rooms, lay in their births listening, fearing to speak, and being ignorant of the numerical strength of the mutineers, and unarmed, thought it best to wait the dreadful issue, hoping that their lives might yet be spared.
Comstock leaving a watch at the second mate's door, went upon deck to light another lamp at the binnacle, it having been again accidentally extinguished. He was there asked by his terrified brother, whose agony of mind we will not attempt to portray, if he intended to hurt Smith, the other boat-steerer. He replied that he did; and inquired where he was. George fearing that Smith would be immediately pursued, said he had not seen him.—Comstock then perceiving his brother to be shedding tears, asked sternly, "What are you crying about?" "I am afraid," replied George, "that they will hurt me!" "I will hurt you," said he, "if you talk in that manner!"
But the work of death was not yet finished. Comstock, took his light into the cabin, and made preparations for attacking the second and third mates, Mr. Fisher, and Mr. Lumbert. After loading two muskets, he fired one through the door, in the direction as near as he could judge of the officers, and then inquired if either was shot! Fisher replied, "yes, I am shot in the mouth!" Previous to his shooting Fisher, Lumbert asked if he was going to kill him? To which he answered with apparent unconcern, "Oh no, I guess not."
They now opened the door, and Comstock making a pass at Mr. Lumbert, missed him, and fell into the state room. Mr. Lumbert collared him, but he escaped from his hands. Mr. Fisher had got the gun, and actually presented the bayonet to the monster's heart! But Comstock assuring him that his life should be spared if he gave it up, he did so; when Comstock immediately ran Mr. Lumbert through the body several times!!
He then turned to Mr. Fisher, and told him there was no hope for him!!—"You have got to die," said he, "remember the scrape you got me into, when in company with the Enterprise of Nantucket." The "scrape" alluded to, was as follows. Comstock came up to Mr. Fisher to wrestle with him.—Fisher being the most athletick of the two, handled him with so much ease, that Comstock in a fit of passion struck him. At this Fisher seized him, and laid him upon deck several times in a pretty rough manner.
Comstock then made some violent threats, which Fisher paid no attention to, but which now fell upon his soul with all the horrors of reality. Finding his cruel enemy deaf to his remonstrances, and entreaties, he said, "If there is no hope, I will at least die like a man!" and having by order of Comstock, turned back too, said in a firm voice, "I am ready!!"
Comstock then put the muzzle of the gun to his head, and fired, which instantly put an end to his existence!—Mr. Lumbert, during this time, was begging for life, although no doubt mortally wounded. Comstock, turned to him and said, "I am a bloody man! I have a bloody hand and will be avenged!" and again run him through the body with a bayonet! He then begged for a little water; "I'll give you water," said he, and once more plunging the weapon in his body, left him for dead!
Thus it appears that this more than demon, murdered with his own hand, the whole! Gladly would we wash from "memory's waste" all remembrance of that bloody night. The compassionate reader, however, whose heart sickens within him, at the perusal, as does ours at the recital, of this tale of woe, will not, we hope, disapprove our publishing these melancholy facts to the world. As, through the boundless mercy of Providence, we have been restored, to the bosom of our families and homes, we deemed it a duty we owe to the world, to record our "unvarnished tale."
Smith, the other boat-steerer, who had been marked as one of the victims, on hearing the noise in the cabin, went aft, apprehending an altercation between the Captain and some of the other officers, little dreaming that innocent blood was flowing in torrents. But what was his astonishment, when he beheld Comstock, brandishing the boarding knife, and heard him exclaim, "I am the bloody man, and will have revenge!" Horror struck, he hurried forward, and asked the crew in the forecastle, what he should do. Some urged him to secrete himself in the hold, others to go aloft until Comstock's rage should be abated; but alas! the reflection that the ship afforded no secure hiding place, determined him to confront the ringleader, and if he could not save his life by fair means, to sell it dearly! He was soon called for by Comstock, who upon meeting him, threw his bloody arms around his neck, and embracing him, said, "you are going to be with us, are you not?" The reader will discover the good policy of Smith when he unhesitatingly answered, "Oh, yes, I will do any thing you require."
All hands were now called to make sail, and a light at the same time was set as a signal for the Lyra to tack;—while the Globe was kept upon the same tack, which very soon caused a separation of the two ships. All the reefs were turned out, top-gallant-sails set, and all sail made on the ship, the wind being quite light.
The mutineers then threw the body of the Captain overboard, after wantonly piercing his bowels with a boarding knife, which was driven with an axe, until the point protruded from his throat!! In Mr. Beetle, the mate, the lamp of life had not entirely gone out, but he was committed to the deep.
Orders were next given to have the bodies of Mr. Fisher, and Mr. Lumbert brought up. A rope was fastened to Fisher's neck, by which he was hauled upon deck. A rope was made fast to Mr. Lumbert's feet, and in this way was he got upon deck, but when in the act of being thrown from the ship, he caught the plank-shear; and appealed to Comstock, reminding him of his promise to save him, but in vain; for the monster forced him from his hold, and he fell into the sea! As he appeared to be yet capable of swimming, a boat was ordered to be lowered, to pursue and finish him, fearing he might be picked up by the Lyra; which order was as soon countermanded as given, fearing, no doubt, a desertion of his murderous companions.
We will now present the reader, with a journal of our passage to the Mulgrave Islands, for which groupe we shaped our course.
1824, Jan. 26th. At 2 A. M. from being nearly calm a light breeze sprung up, which increased to a fresh breeze by 4 A. M. This day cleaned out the cabin, which was a scene of blood and destruction of which the recollection at this day chills the blood in our veins.—Every thing bearing marks of the murder, was brought on deck and washed.
Lat. 5 deg. 50' N. Long. 159 deg. 13' W.
Jan. 27th. These twenty-four hours commenced with moderate breezes from the eastward. Middle and latter part calm. Employed in cleaning the small arms which were fifteen in number, and making cartridge boxes.
Lat. 3 deg. 45' N. Long. 160 deg. 45' W.
Jan. 28. This day experienced fine weather, and light breezes from N. by W. The black steward was hung for the following crime.
George Comstock who was appointed steward after the mutiny, and business calling him into the cabin, he saw the former steward, now called the purser, engaged in loading a pistol. He asked him what he was doing that for. His reply was, "I have heard something very strange, and I'm going to be ready for it." This information was immediately carried to Comstock, who called to Payne, now mate, and bid him follow him.
On entering the cabin they saw Humphreys, still standing with the pistol in his hand. On being demanded what he was going to do with it, he said he had heard something which made him afraid of his life!
Comstock told him if he had heard any thing, that he ought to have come to him, and let him know, before he began loading pistols. He then demanded to know, what he had heard. Humphreys answered at first in a very suspicious and ambiguous manner, but at length said, that Gilbert Smith, the boat-steerer who was saved, and Peter Kidder, were going to re-take the ship. This appeared highly improbable, but they were summoned to attend a council at which Comstock presided, and asked if they had entertained any such intentions. They positively denied ever having had conversation upon the subject. All this took place in the evening. The next morning the parties were summoned, and a jury of two men called. Humphreys under a guard of six men, armed with muskets, was arraigned, and Smith and Kidder, seated upon a chest near him. The prisoner was asked a few questions touching his intentions, which he answered but low and indistinctly. The trial, if it may be so called, had progressed thus far, when Comstock made a speech in the following words. "It appears that William Humphreys has been accused guilty, of a treacherous and base act, in loading a pistol for the purpose of shooting Mr. Payne and myself. Having been tried the jury will now give in their verdict, whether Guilty or Not Guilty. If guilty he shall be hanged to a studding-sail boom, rigged out eight feet upon the fore-yard, but if found not guilty, Smith and Kidder, shall be hung upon the aforementioned gallows!" But the doom of Humphreys had been sealed the night before, and kept secret except from the jury, who returned a verdict of Guilty.—Preparations were immediately made for his execution! His watch was taken from him, and he was then taken forward and seated upon the rail, with a cap drawn over his face, and the rope placed round his neck.
Every man was ordered to take hold of the execution rope, to be ready to run him up when Comstock should give the signal, by ringing the ship's bell!
He was now asked if he had any thing to say, as he had but fourteen seconds to live! He began by saying, "little did I think I was born to come to this———;" the bell struck! and he was immediately swung to the yard-arm! He died without a struggle; and after he had hung a few minutes, the rope was cut, to let him fall overboard, but getting entangled aloft, the body was towed some distance along side, when a runner hook,[A] was attached to it, to sink it, when the rope was again cut and the body disappeared. His chest was now overhauled, and sixteen dollars in specie found, which he had taken from the Captain's trunk. Thus ended the life of one of the mutineers, while the blood of innocent victims was scarcely washed from his hands, much less the guilty stain from his soul.
[A] A large hook used when hoisting in the blubber.
Feb. 7th. These twenty-four hours commenced with thick squally weather. Middle part clear and fine weather.—Hove to at 2 A. M., and at 6 made sail, and steered W. by S. At 1/2 past 8 made an Island ahead, one of the Kingsmill groupe. Stood in with the land and received a number of canoes along side, the natives in them however having nothing to sell us but a few beads of their own manufacture. We saw some cocoanut, and other trees upon the shore, and discovered many of the natives upon the beach, and some dogs. The principal food of these Islanders is, a kind of bread fruit, which they pound very fine and mix it with fish.
Feb. 8. Commences squally with fresh breezes from the northward.—Took a departure from Kingsmill Island; one of the groupe of that name, in Lat. 1 deg. 27' N. and Long. 175 deg. 14' E. In the morning passed through the channel between Marshall's and Gilbert's Islands; luffed to and despatched a boat to Marshall's Island, but did not land, as the natives appeared hostile, and those who swam off to the boat, endeavoured to steal from her. When about to leave, a volley of musketry was discharged at them, which probably killed or wounded some of them. The boat then gave chase to a canoe, paddled by two of the natives, which were fired upon when within gunshot, when they immediately ceased paddling; and on the boat approaching them, discovered that one of the natives was wounded. In the most supplicating manner they held up a jacket, manufactured from a kind of flag, and some beads, being all they possessed, giving their inhuman pursuers to understand, that all should be theirs if they would spare their lives! The wounded native laid down in the bottom of the boat, and from his convulsed frame and trembling lip, no doubt remained but that the wound was mortal. The boat then returned on board and we made sail for the Mulgrave Islands. Here was another sacrifice; an innocent child of nature shot down, merely to gratify the most wanton and unprovoked cruelty, which could possibly possess the heart of man. The unpolished savage, a stranger to the more tender sympathies of the human heart, which are cultivated and enjoyed by civilized nations, nurtures in his bosom a flame of revenge, which only the blood of those who have injured him, can damp; and when years have rolled away, this act of cruelty will be remembered by these Islanders, and made the pretext to slaughter every white man who may fall into their hands.
Feb. 11th. Commenced with strong breezes from the Northward. At 1/2 past meridian made the land bearing E. N. E. four leagues distant. Stood in and received a number of canoes along side. Sent a boat on shore; and brought off a number of women, a large quantity of cocoanuts, and some fish.—Stood off shore most of the night, and
Feb. 12th, in the morning stood in shore again and landed the women.—We then stood along shore looking out for an anchorage, and reconnoitering the country, in the hope of finding some spot suitable for cultivation; but in this we were disappointed, or more properly speaking, they, the mutineers; for we had no will of our own, while our bosoms were torn with the most conflicting passions, in which Hope and Despair alternately gained the ascendency.
Feb. 13th. After having stood off all night, we in the morning stood in, and after coasting the shores of several small Islands, we came to one, low and narrow, where it was determined the Ship should be anchored. When nearly ready to let go, a man was sent into the chains to sound, who pronounced twelve fathoms; but at the next cast, could not get bottom. We continued to stand in, until we got regular sounding, and anchored within five rods of the shore, on a coral rock bottom, in seven fathoms water. The ship was then moored with a kedge astern, sails furled, and all hands retired to rest, except an anchor watch.
Feb. 14th, was spent in looking for a landing place. In the morning a boat was sent to the Eastward, but returned with the information that no good landing place could be found, the shore being very rocky. At 2 P. M. she was sent in an opposite direction, but returned at night without having met with better success; when it was determined to land at the place where we lay; notwithstanding it was very rocky.—Nothing of consequence was done, until
Sunday, 15th Feb. 1824, when all hands were set to work to construct a raft out of the spare spars, upon which to convey the provisions, &c. on shore.
The laws by which we were now governed had been made by Comstock, soon after the mutiny, and read as follows:
"That if any one saw a sail and did not report it immediately, he should be put to death! If any one refused to fight a ship he should be put to death; and the manner of their death, this—They shall be bound hand and foot and boiled in the try pots, of boiling oil!" Every man was made to seal and sign this instrument, the seals of the mutineers being black, and the remainder, blue and white. The raft or stage being completed, it was anchored, so that one end rested upon the rocks, the other being kept sea-ward by the anchor. During the first day many articles were brought from the ship in boats, to the raft, and from thence conveyed on shore. Another raft, however, was made, by laying spars upon two boats, and boards again upon them, which at high water would float well up on the shore. The following, as near as can be recollected, were the articles landed from the ship; (and the intention was, when all should have been got on shore, to haul the ship on shore, or as near it as possible and burn her.) One mainsail, one foresail, one mizen-topsail, one spanker, one driver, one maintop gallantsail, two lower studdingsails, two royals, two topmast-studdingsails, two top-gallant-studdingsails, one mizen-staysail, two mizen-top-gallantsails, one fly-gib, (thrown overboard, being a little torn,) three boat's sails (new,) three or four casks of bread, eight or ten barrels of flour, forty barrels of beef and pork, three or more 60 gal. casks of molasses, one and a half barrels of sugar, one barrel dried apples, one cask vinegar, two casks of rum, one or two barrels domestic coffee, one keg W. I. coffee, one and a half chests of tea, one barrel of pickles, one do. cranberries, one box chocolate, one cask of tow-lines, three or more coils of cordage, one coil rattling, one do. lance warp, ten or fifteen balls spunyarn, one do. worming, one stream cable, one larboard bower anchor, all the spare spars, every chest of clothing, most of the ship's tools, &c. &c. The ship by this time was considerably unrigged.
On the following day, Monday 16th February, Payne the second in the mutiny, who was on board the ship attending to the discharge of articles from her, sent word to Comstock, who with Gilbert Smith and a number of the crew were on shore, attending to the landing of the raft; "That if he did not act differently with regard to the plunder, such as making presents to the natives of the officers' fine clothing, &c. he would do no more, but quit the ship and come on shore." Comstock had been very liberal to the natives in this way, and his object was, no doubt, to attach them as much as possible to his person, as it must have been suggested to his guilty mind, that however he himself might have become a misanthrope, yet there were those around him, whose souls shuddered at the idea of being forever exiled from their country and friends, whose hands were yet unstained by blood, but who might yet imbrue them, for the purpose of escape from lonely exile, and cruel tyranny.
When the foregoing message was received from Payne, Comstock commanded his presence immediately on shore, and interrogated him, as to what he meant by sending such a message. After considerable altercation, which took place in the tent, Comstock was heard to say, "I helped to take the ship, and have navigated her to this place.—I have also done all I could to get the sails and rigging on shore, and now you may do what you please with her; but if any man wants any thing of me, I'll take a musket with him!"
"That is what I want," replied Payne, "and am ready!" This was a check upon the murderer, who had now the offer of becoming a duellist; and he only answered by saying, "I will go on board once more, and then you may do as you please."
He then went on board, and after destroying the paper upon which were recorded the "Laws," returned, went into the tent with Payne, and putting a sword into a scabbard, exclaimed, "this shall stand by me as long as I live."
We ought not to omit to mention that during the time he was on board the ship, he challenged the persons there, to fight him, and as he was leaving, exclaimed "I am going to leave you; Look out for yourselves!"
After obtaining from Payne permission to carry with him a cutlass, a knife, and some hooks and lines, he took his departure, and as was afterwards ascertained, immediately joined a gang of natives, and endeavoured to excite them to slay Payne and his companions! At dusk of this day he passed the tent, accompanied by about 50 of the natives, in a direction of their village, upwards of a league distant. Payne came on board, and after expressing apprehensions that Comstock would persuade the natives to kill us all, picked out a number of the crew to go on shore for the night, and stationed sentinels around the tent, with orders to shoot any one, who should attempt to approach without giving the countersign. The night, however, passed, without any one's appearing; but early on the morning of the
17th Feb.; Comstock was discovered at some distance coming towards the tent. It had been before proposed to Smith by Payne, to shoot him; but poor Smith like ourselves, dare do no other than remain upon the side of neutrality.
Oliver, whom the reader will recollect as one of the wretches concerned in the mutiny, hurried on shore, and with Payne and others, made preparations to put him to death. After loading a number of muskets they stationed themselves in front of the tent, and waited his approach—a bushy spot of ground intervening, he did not make his appearance until within a short distance of the tent, which, as soon as he saw, drew his sword and walked quick towards it, in a menacing manner; but as soon as he saw a number of the muskets levelled at him, he waved his hand, and cried out, "don't shoot me, don't shoot me! I will not hurt you!" At this moment they fired, and he fell!—Payne fearing he might pretend to be shot, ran to him with an axe, and nearly severed his head from his body! There were four muskets fired at him, but only two balls took effect, one entered his right breast, and passed out near the back bone, the other through his head.
Thus ended the life, of perhaps as cruel, blood-thirsty, and vindictive a being as ever bore the form of humanity.
All hands were now called to attend his burial, which was conducted in the same inconsistent manner which had marked the proceedings of the actors in this tragedy. While some were engaged in sewing the body in a piece of canvas, others were employed in digging a grave in the sand, adjacent to the place of his decease, which, by order of Payne, was made five feet deep. Every article attached to him, including his cutlass, was buried with him, except his watch; and the ceremonies consisted in reading a chapter from the bible over him, and firing a musket!
Only twenty-two days had elapsed after the perpetration of the massacre on board the ship, when with all his sins upon his head, he was hurried into eternity!
No duty was done during the remainder of the day, except the selection by Payne, of six men, to go on board the ship and take charge of her, under the command of Smith; who had communicated his intentions to a number of running away with the ship. We think we cannot do better than to give an account of their escape in the words of Smith himself. It may be well to remark, that Payne had ordered the two binacle compasses to be brought on shore, they being the only ones remaining on board, except a hanging compass suspended in the cabin. Secreting one of the binacle compasses, he took the hanging compass on shore, and the exchange was not discovered.
"At 7 P. M. we began to make preparations for our escape with the ship.—I went below to prepare some weapons for our defence should we be attacked by Payne, while the others, as silently as possible, were employed in clearing the running rigging, for every thing was in the utmost confusion. Having found one musket, three bayonets, and some whale lances, they were laid handy, to prevent the ship being boarded. A handsaw well greased was laid upon the windlass to saw off the cable, and the only remaining hatchet on board, was placed by the mizen mast, to cut the stern moorings when the ship should have sufficiently swung off. Taking one man with me, we went upon the fore-top-sail-yard, loosed the sail and turned out the reefs, while two others were loosing the main-top-sail and main sail. I will not insult the reader's good sense, by assuring him, that this was a duty, upon the success of which seemed to hang our very existence. By this time the moon was rising, which rendered it dangerous to delay, for those who had formed a resolution to swim on board, and accompany us. The bunts of the sails being yet confined aloft, by their respective gaskets, I sent a man on the fore-yard and another upon the fore-top-sail-yard, with orders to let fall, when I should give the word; one man being at the helm, and two others at the fore tack.
"It was now half past nine o'clock, when I took the handsaw, and in less than two minutes the cable was off!—The ship payed off very quick, and when her head was off the land, there being a breeze from that quarter, the hawser was cut and all the sail we could make upon the ship immediately set, a fine fair wind blowing. A raft of iron hoops, which was towing along side, was cut adrift, and we congratulated each other upon our fortunate escape; for even with a vast extent of ocean to traverse, hope excited in our bosoms a belief that we should again embrace our friends, and our joy was heightened by the reflection, that we might be the means of rescuing the innocents left behind, and having the guilty punished."
After a long and boisterous passage the ship arrived at Valparaiso, when she was taken possession of by the American Consul, Michael Hogan, Esq. and the persons on board were put in irons on board a French frigate, there being no American man-of-war in port. Their names were, Gilbert Smith, George Comstock, Stephen Kidder, Joseph Thomas, Peter C. Kidder, and Anthony Henson.
Subsequently they were all examined before the U. S. Consul; and with the following, an examination of Gilbert Smith, we shall commence another chapter.
U. S. Consulate, Valparaiso, 15th June, 1824.
Gilbert Smith examined on oath, touching the mutiny and murder on board the whale ship Globe, of Nantucket, Massachusetts, in the Pacific Ocean.
Question. Who were the Captain and mates of the ship Globe?
Ans. Thomas Worth, Captain; William Beetle, first mate; John Lumbert, second mate; Nathaniel Fisher, third mate.
Q. Where was you born?
A. In the town of Edgarton, State of Massachusetts.
Q. Did you sail from thence in the ship Globe of Nantucket, 20th Dec. 1822, and in what capacity?
A. Yes; as a boat-steerer.
Q. Was there any thing like mutiny on board the ship during her passage to the Sandwich Islands?
Q. How many men belonged to the ship on sailing from Nantucket?
A. Twenty-one in all.
Q. Did any run away at the Sandwich Islands?
A. Six men ran away, and one was discharged.
Q. How many men were shipped in their places?
A. John Oliver, of Shields, England; Silas Payne, of Rhode Island; Thomas Lilliston, of Virginia; William Steward, of Philadelphia, (black;) Anthony Henson, of Barnstable; and a native of the Sandwich Islands.
Q. On what day or night did this murderous mutiny take place?
A. On Sunday night the 26th of January, this year; in the morning of that day there was a great disturbance, in consequence of Joseph Thomas having insulted the Captain, for which he was whipped by the Captain, with the end of the main buntline. The part of the crew not stationed stood in the hatchway during the punishment.
Q. Did any thing happen in consequence, during that day?
A. No: I lived aft; I heard nothing about it; Capt. Joy of the Lyra, was on board nearly all day.
Q. How were you stationed during the night?
A. The Captain, first and second mates, kept no watch during that night; the rest of the crew were stationed in three watches, in charge of the third mate and boat-steerers.
Q. Who had charge of the first watch during that night?
A. I had charge of the watch from 7 to 10 o'clock. At 8 the Captain came on deck, and had two reefs taken in the topsails, and at 9 went down, leaving me the orders for the night, to keep the ship by the wind, until two o'clock, and not to tack until the other watch came up; and on tacking, a light to be set for the Lyra who was in company, to tack also.
At 10 o'clock I went below, being relieved by the boat-steerer Comstock, to whom I passed the orders given me by the Captain,——(Here follows a detailed account of the mutiny, with which the reader has already been made acquainted.)
Q. Do you believe that Joseph Thomas had any knowledge of Comstock's intent to commit murder that night?
A. I think he must have known something about it, according to his talk.
Q. Do you believe that any other person in the ship, besides those persons who committed the murder, knew of the intention?
A. Thomas Lilliston knew about it, because he went to the cabin door with an axe, and a boat knife in his hand, in company with the murderers, but he did not go below.
Q. Did you live with them aft, afterwards?
A. No: I lived in the forecastle, but all on board eat in the cabin.
Q. Name all the persons you left on the Island, where you cut the cable of the ship and escaped.
A. Silas Payne, John Oliver, (being the principal mutineers next to Samuel B. Comstock,) Thomas Lilliston, Rowland Coffin, William Lay, Cyrus M. Hussey, Columbus Worth, Rowland Jones, and the Sandwich Island native, called Joseph Brown. The last five I believe ignorant of any knowledge of the intent to murder.
Q. What became of Samuel B. Comstock, who was the head mutineer after he landed upon the Island?
A. He was shot on the morning of the 17th Feb. by Silas Payne, and John Oliver, his associates in all the mutiny and murderous course they had pursued, and buried five feet deep on the beach near their tent; a chapter was read from the bible by me, acting under the orders of Payne, and muskets were fired by his orders, by the men.
Q. Why did they murder Comstock?
A. For giving away to the natives clothes and other articles before they were divided.
Q. Were the natives friendly and quiet?
A. Yes; very peaceable, gave away any thing they had; bread fruit, cocoanuts and other things.
Q. How did Joseph Thomas conduct himself during the passage from the Isle to this port?
A. In common, when help was called, he was the first man disobedient, and frequently said he would do as he pleased.
Q. Did he often speak of the murder, or of his knowing it about to take place?
A. I only remember, having heard him twice. I told him when we arrived, I would inform the American Consul of it; to which he replied, he should own all he knew about it.
Q. To what State does he belong to your knowledge?
A. To the State of Connecticut, he says.
(Signed) GILBERT SMITH. Sworn to, before me at Valparaiso, this eighteenth day of June, 1824.
(Signed) MICHAEL HOGAN, U. S. Consul.
The examination of the others who came in the ship, was but a repetition of the foregoing. All, however, concurred in believing, that Joseph Thomas was privy to the intention to mutiny, and murder the officers.
The ship was then furnished with necessary sails and rigging, and placed in charge of a Captain King, who brought her to the Island of Nantucket, arriving on Sunday 21st November, 1824. Another examination was held before Josiah Hussey, Esq. and all testified, as before the American Consul at Valparaiso.
Thomas, who was put in irons as soon as the land was discovered, was arraigned before the above named justice, and after an elaborate hearing, the prisoner was committed to jail, to take his trial at the following term of the U. S. District Court, and the witnesses recognised in the sum of three hundred dollars each.
Leaving Thomas, awaiting his trial, and the others in the enjoyment of the society of their families and friends, we will return to the Mulgrave Islands, the scene of no inconsiderable portion of our distresses and adventures.
On the 17th Feb. when night came, the watch was set consisting of two men, whose duty it was to guard against the thefts of the natives. At about 10 P. M. all hands were awakened by the cry; "The ship has gone, the ship has gone!" Every one hastened to the beach and verified the truth of the report for themselves. Some who were ignorant of the intention of Smith and others, to take the ship, were of opinion that the strong breeze then blowing, had caused her to drag her anchor, and that she would return in the morning.
The morning came, but nothing was to be seen upon the broad expanse of ocean, save here and there a solitary seagull, perched upon the crested billow. Payne in a paroxism of rage, vented the most dreadful imprecations; swearing that could he get them once more in his power, he would put them to instant death. Not so with us; a ray of hope shot through our minds, that this circumstance might be the means of rescuing us from our lonely situation.—The writers of this narrative were upon the most intimate terms, and frequently, though carefully, sympathized with each other upon their forlorn situation. We dare not communicate our disaffection to the Government of the two surviving mutineers, (Payne and Oliver,) to the others, fearing they might not agree with us in opinion, and we had too good reason to believe, that there was one, who although unstained by blood, yet from his conduct, seemed to sanction the proceedings of the mutineers.
The natives assembled in great numbers around the tent, expressing great surprise at the ship's having left,—Payne gave them to understand that the wind had forced her to sea, and that from her want of sails, rigging, &c. she must be lost, and would never return.—The natives received the assurance with satisfaction, but it was evident, Payne apprehended her safe arrival at some port, and his own punishment; for we were immediately set to work, to tear one boat to pieces, for the purpose of raising upon another, which was to have a deck; Payne, alleging as a reason for this, that the natives might compel us to leave the Island. We leave the reader to judge, however, of his motives, while we proceed to give an account of what actually did transpire.
The natives in considerable numbers continued to attend us, and while the work was progressing, exhibited a great deal of curiosity. Their deportment towards us continued to be of the most friendly nature, continuing to barter with us, giving us bread fruit, cocoanuts, &c. for which they received in return, pieces of iron hoop, nails, and such articles as we could conveniently spare.
The small Islands of this groupe are frequently only separated by what are sometimes denominated causeways, or in other words, connected by reefs of coral, extending from the extreme point of one Island and connecting it with another. These reefs are nearly dry at low water, and the communication is easily kept up between them by the natives on foot.
On the 19th, in the morning, having obtained permission, several of us left the tent, travelling to the Eastward.—After crossing upon the causeways to several adjacent islands, we discovered numerous tracks of the natives in the sand, and having followed them about seven miles, came to a village consisting of about twenty or thirty families; and were received by them with great hospitality. They presented us with bread fruit and the milk of cocoanuts, while the wonder and astonishment of those who had not as yet seen us, particularly the women and children, were expressed by the most uncouth grimaces, attended with boisterous laughter, and capering around us. What more particularly excited their astonishment was the whiteness of our skins, and their mirth knew no bounds when they heard us converse.
Early on the morning of the 20th, we were ordered to go to work upon the boat; but at the request of a number, this duty was dispensed with, and we permitted to stroll about the Island. A number went to the village, carrying with them muskets, at the report of which and the effect produced by the balls, the natives were struck with wonder and astonishment. The reader will no doubt agree with us when we pronounce this to have been a bad policy, for they certainly disliked to have visitors possessed of such formidable and destructive weapons. They however continued to visit the tent without discovering any hostile intentions, and we continued to put the utmost confidence in them, or more properly speaking to live without any fear of them.
I (William Lay,) left the tent on a visit to the village, where I was received with the same kindness as before.—An old man between 50 and 60 years of age, pressed me to go to his house and tarry during the night, which I did.—The natives continued in and around the tent until a late hour, gratifying their curiosity by a sight of me. I was provided with some mats to sleep upon, but the rats, with which the Island abounds, prevented my enjoying much sleep.
At 10 o'clock I took my leave of them, with the exception of a number, who accompanied me to the tent.
Silas Payne and John Oliver, together with two or three others, set out in one of the boats, for the purpose of exploring the Island, and making new discoveries, leaving the rest of us to guard the tent. They were absent but one night, when they returned, bringing with them two young women, whom Payne and Oliver took as their wives. The women apparently showing no dissatisfaction, but on the contrary appeared much diverted. Payne now put such confidence in the natives, that he dispensed with having a watch kept during the night, and slept as secure as though he had been in his native country.
Payne, on awaking near morning, found the woman that he had brought to live with him was missing. After searching the tent, and finding nothing of her, concluded she had fled. He accordingly armed himself, together with John Oliver and Thomas Lilliston, (with muskets,) and set out for the nearest village, for the purpose of searching her out. They arrived at the village before it was light, and secreted themselves near an Indian hut, where they awaited the approach of day, in hopes of seeing her. Accordingly at the approach of day-light, they discovered the hut literally thronged with natives, and among the number, they discovered the woman they were in search of. At this moment one of them fired a blank cartridge over their heads, and then presented themselves to their view, which frightened the natives in such a manner that they left the hut and fled. Payne then pursued after, firing over their heads till he caught the one he wanted, and then left the village for his own tent.—On arriving at the tent, he took her, gave her a severe flogging and then put her in irons, and carried on in this kind of style until he was by them killed, and called to render up his accounts to his offended Judge.
This severity on the part of Payne, irritated the natives, and was undoubtedly the cause of their committing depredations and theft, and finally murdering all our remaining crew, excepting myself and Hussey.
Early on the succeeding morning, it was discovered that the tool chest had been broken open, and a hatchet, chisel, and some other articles, purloined by the natives. Payne worked himself into a passion, and said he would be revenged. During the day he informed a number of the natives of what had been done, (who signified much regret at the circumstance,) and vowing vengeance if the articles were not returned. During this day the natives frequented the tent more than they had ever done before; and at night one of them came running with one half of the chisel which had been stolen, it having been broken in two.
Payne told them it was but half of what he required, and put the Indian in irons, signifying to him, that in the morning he must go with him to the village, and produce the rest of the articles, and also point out the persons engaged in breaking open the chest. The poor native seemed much chagrined at his confinement; yet his companions who remained near the tent during the night, manifested no dissatisfaction, which we could observe.
In the morning, Payne selected four men, viz: Rowland Coffin, Rowland Jones, Cyrus M. Hussey, and Thomas Lilliston, giving them each a musket, some powder and fine shot; declining to give them balls, saying, the report of the muskets would be sufficient to intimidate them. The prisoner was placed in charge of these men, who had orders to go to the village, and recover the hatchet and bring back the person whom the prisoner might point out as the thief.
They succeeded in getting the hatchet, but when about to return, the natives in a great body, attacked them with stones. Finding that they retreated, the natives pursued them, and having overtaken Rowland Jones, killed him upon the spot. The remainder, although bruised with the stones which these Islanders had thrown with great precision, arrived at the tent with the alarming intelligence of a difficulty;—while they followed in the rear armed for war!
No time was lost in arming ourselves, while the natives collected from all quarters, and at a short distance from the tent, seemed to hold a kind of council. After deliberating some time, they began to tear to pieces one of the boats.
These were of vital importance to our guilty commander, and he ventured to go to them for the purpose of pacifying them. One of the Chiefs sat down upon the ground with him, and after they had set a few moments, Payne accompanied the Chief into the midst of the natives. After a conference with them which lasted nearly an hour, he returned to the tent, saying that he had pacified the natives upon the following conditions. They were to have every article belonging to us, even to the tent; and Payne had assured them of his willingness, and that of the others to live with, and be governed by them, and to adopt their mode of living! We have reason to doubt the sincerity of Payne in this respect, for what was to us a hope which we cherished with peculiar pleasure, must have been to him, a source of fearful anticipation—we mean the probable safe arrival of the ship, in the U. S. which should result in our deliverance. Our situation at this time was truly alarming; and may we not with propriety say, distressing? Surrounded by a horde of savages, brandishing their war clubs and javelins, our more than savage commanders, (Payne and Oliver) in anxious suspense as to the result of their negociations with them; no refuge from either foe, and what contributed not a little to our unhappiness, was a consciousness of being innocent of having in the least manner wilfully aided the destroyers of the lives of our officers, and the authors of our now, truly unhappy situation.
The natives now began to help themselves to whatever articles suited them, and when some of them began to pull the tent down, an old man and his wife took hold of me, and after conducting me a few rods from the tent, sat down, keeping fast hold of my hands. Under the most fearful apprehensions I endeavoured to get from them, but they insisted upon detaining me. I endeavoured to console myself with the idea, that gratitude had prompted them to take care of me, as I had frequently taken the part of this old woman, when she had been teased by others; but alas! the reflection followed, that if this was the case, there was a probability that not only my bosom friend, was about to be sacrificed, but I should be left alone to drag out a weary existence, with beings, strangers to the endearing ties which bind the hearts of civilized man.
Whether Payne and his associates offered any resistance to the course now pursued by the natives or not, I do not know. Suffice it to say, that all at once my ears were astounded with the most terrifying whoops and yells; when a massacre commenced but little exceeded by the one perpetrated on board the Globe. Our men fled in all directions, but met a foe at every turn. Lilliston and Joe Brown (the Sandwich Islander,) fell within six feet of me, and as soon as down, the natives macerated their heads with large stones. The first whom I saw killed, was Columbus Worth. An old woman, apparently sixty years of age, ran him through with a spear, and finished him with stones!
My protectors, for now they were truly so, shut out the scene by laying down upon the top of me, to hide me from the view of the merciless foe! I was however discovered, and one of the natives attempted to get a blow at me with a handspike, which was prevented by them; when, after a few words, he hurried away.
As soon as the work of death had been completed, the old man took me by the hand and hurried me along towards the village. My feet were very much laccerated in passing over the causeways of sharp coral rock, but my conductor fearing we might be pursued, hurried me onward to the village, where we arrived about noon. In a few minutes the wigwam or hut of the old man, was surrounded, and all seeming to talk at once, and with great excitement, I anticipated death every moment. Believing myself the sole survivor, the reader must pardon any attempt to describe my feelings, when I saw a number of the natives approaching the hut, and in the midst, Cyrus M. Hussey, conducted with great apparent kindness.
Notwithstanding we had both been preserved much after the same manner, we could not divest ourselves of the apprehension, that we perhaps had been preserved, for a short time, to suffer some lingering death.
Our interview was only long enough to satisfy each other that we alone survived the massacre, when we were separated; Hussey being taken away, and it seemed quite uncertain, even if our lives were spared, whether we ever saw each other again.
On the following day, however, accompanied by natives, we met at the scene of destruction, and truly it was an appalling one to us. The mangled corpses of our companions, rendered more ghastly from the numerous wounds they had received, the provisions, clothing, &c. scattered about the ground, the hideous yells of exultation uttered by the natives, all conspired to render our situation superlatively miserable.
We asked, and obtained leave from our masters, to bury the bodies which lay scattered about. We dug some graves in the sand, and after finishing this melancholy duty, were directed to launch the canoes, preparatory to our departure, (for we had come in canoes) when we begged permission, which was readily granted, to take some flour, bread and pork, and our respective masters assisted us in getting a small quantity of these articles into the largest canoe. We also took a blanket each, some shoes, a number of books, including a bible, and soon arrived at the landing place near the village. As the natives seemed desirous of keeping us apart, we dare not make any inquiries for each other, but at my request, having boiled some pork in a large shell, Hussey was sent for, and we had a meal together; during which time, the natives assembled in great numbers, all anxious to get a sight, not only of our novel mode of cutting the meat and eating it, but of the manner in which we prepared it. One of them brought us some water in a tin cup, as they had seen us drink frequently when eating.
The natives now began to arrive from distant parts of the islands, many of whom had not yet heard of us, and we were continually subjected to the examination of men, women and children. The singular colour of our skin, was the greatest source of their admiration, and we were frequently importuned to adopt their dress.
On the 28th Feb. early in the morning the whole village appeared to be in motion. All the adults commenced ornamenting themselves, which to me appeared to render them hideous. After greasing themselves with cocoanut oil, and hanging about them numerous strings of beads, they set off, taking us with them, to a flat piece of ground, about half a mile distant, where we found collected a great number, and all ornamented in the same fantastic manner.—Knowing that many of the natives inhabiting Islands in the Pacific Ocean, are cannibals, we were not without our fears that we had been preserved to grace a feast! Our apprehensions, however, were dissipated, when we saw them commence a dance, of which we will endeavour to give the reader some idea. The only musical instrument we saw, was a rude kind of drum; and the choristers were all females, say twenty or thirty, each having one of these drums. The music commenced with the women, who began upon a very low key, gradually raising the notes, while the natives accompanied them with the most uncouth gesticulations and grimaces. The precision with which about three hundred of these people, all dancing at a time, regulated their movements, was truly astonishing; while the yelling of the whole body, each trying to exceed the other, rendered the scene to us, not only novel, but terrifick.
The dance ended near night, and those natives who lived in a distant part of the Island, after gratifying their curiosity by gazing upon us, and even feeling of our skins, took their departure.
After our return to the village, we cooked some meat upon the coals, and with some bread, made a hearty meal. One source of regret to us, was, that the natives began to like our bread, which heretofore they had scarcely dared to taste; and particularly the woman whom I called mistress, ate, to use a sea phrase, her full allowance.
The natives expressed great dislike at our conversing together, and prohibited our reading, as much as possible. We never could make them comprehend that the book conveyed ideas to us, expressed in our own language.
Whether from a fear that we might concert some plan of escape, or that we might be the means of doing them some injury while together, we know not;—but about the first of April, we discovered that we were about to be separated! The reader may form some idea of our feelings when we were informed that Hussey was to be taken by his master and family, to a distant part of the Island! Not having as yet become sufficiently acquainted with their language, we were unable to comprehend the distance from our present location.
It now becomes expedient to present the reader with our separate accounts, in which we hope to be able to convey an idea of the manners and customs of these people. We had experienced in a very short time so many vicissitudes, and passed through so many scenes of distress, that no opportunity was afforded to keep a journal, and notwithstanding we had even lost the day of the week and month, yet with such force, were the principal incidents which occurred during our exile, impressed upon our minds, that we can with confidence proceed with our narrative, and will commence the next chapter with an account of the adventures of William Lay.
Early in the morning of the day on which Hussey left me, preparations were made for his embarkation with his new master and family. We were allowed a short interview, and after taking an affectionate leave of each other, we parted with heavy hearts. The tender ties which bound me to my companion in misfortune, seemed now about to be forever broken asunder. No features to gaze upon, but those of my savage masters, and no one with whom I could hold converse, my heart seemed bursting with grief at my lonely situation.—On the departure of my companion, the "star of hope" which had often gleamed brightly mid the night of our miseries, seemed now about to set forever! After watching the canoe which bore him from me, until she was hid from my view in the distance, I returned to the hut with my master, and as I had eaten but little during the day, the calls of nature induced me to broil my last morsel of meat, with which, and some bread, I made a tolerable supper. The natives began to be very fond of the bread, and eat of it as long as it lasted, which unfortunately for me, was but a short time.
I informed my master that I should like to have some more of the meat from the place where the ship had lain. On the following morning, my master, mistress, and four or five others embarked in a canoe, to assist me in procuring some provisions. Observing that they carried with them a number of clubs, and each a spear, I was apprehensive of some design upon my own person; but happily, was soon relieved, by seeing them wade round a shoal of fish, and after having frightened them into shoal water, kill a number with their spears. We then proceeded on, and when we arrived at the tent, they cooked them after the following manner. A large fire was kindled, and after the wood was burned to coals, the fish were thrown on, and snatched and eaten as fast as cooked; although they were kind enough to preserve a share for me, yet the scene around me, prevented my enjoying with them, their meal. The tent which had been torn down, had contained about forty barrels of beef and pork, two hogsheads of molasses, barrels of pickles, all the clothing and stores belonging to the ship, in short, every thing valuable, such as charts, nautical instruments, &c. &c. The latter had been broken and destroyed, to make ornaments, while the beef, pork, molasses and small stores lay scattered promiscuously around. They appeared to set no value upon the clothing, except to tear and destroy it. The pieces of beef and pork, from the barrels, (which had been all stove,) were scattered in every direction, and putrifying in the sun. After putting into the canoe some pork and a few articles of clothing, we commenced our return;—but a strong head wind blowing, we had considerable difficulty in getting back.
For some considerable time, nothing material occurred, and I led as monotonous and lonely a life, as could well be imagined. It is true, I was surrounded by fellow beings; and had all hope of ever seeing my country and friends again, been blasted, it is probable I might have become more reconciled to my condition, but I very much doubt if ever perfectly so, as long as reason and reflection held their empire over my mind. My books having been destroyed from a superstitious notion of their possessing some supernatural power, I was left to brood over my situation unpitied and alone.
Sometime in July, as I judged, Luckiair, son-in-law to my master, Ludjuan, came from a distant part of the groupe, on a visit, and during the week he remained with us, we became much attached to each other. When he told me, that on his return he should pass near the place where Hussey lived, my anxiety to accompany him thus far, was so great, that after much persuasion, Ludjuan gave his consent for me to go. On our way we stopped at the tent, and I procured for the last time, a small quantity of the ship's provisions, although the meat was some of it in a very decayed state.
In consequence of head winds, we were compelled to stop for the night upon a small Island, where we found an uninhabited hut; and after cooking some meat, and baking some wet flour (for it was no other) in the ashes, we took our mats into the hut, and remained until next day. The wind continuing to blow fresh ahead, we gathered some green bread fruit, and cooked some meat, in the same manner as they cook the largest of their fish, which is this.—A hole is dug in the ground, and after it has been filled with wood, it is set on fire, and then covered with stones. As the wood burns away, the heated stones fall to the bottom, which, when the fire is out, are covered with a thick layer of green leaves, and then the meat or fish is placed upon these leaves, and covered again in a careful and ingenious manner, and the whole covered with earth. This preserves the juices of the fish, and in this way do they cook most of their fish, with hot stones.
In the afternoon the weather proving more favourable, we left our encampment, and at sun down arrived at a place called Tuckawoa; at which place we were treated with the greatest hospitality. When we were about to leave, we were presented with bread fruit and cocoanuts in great abundance. As we approached the place of Hussey's residence, I discovered him standing on the beach. Our joy at meeting, I will not attempt to describe.—We had a short time, however, allowed us, in which to relate our adventures, and condole with each other; for in an hour we were once more separated; and we pursued our course for the residence of Luck-i-a-ir. After encamping another night upon the beach, we at length arrived at the house of my conductor, which was at a place called Dillybun. His family consisted of his wife and one child, whom we found busily engaged in making a fishing net. When near night Luckiair and myself went out and gathered some breadfruit, and after making a hearty meal, slept soundly upon our mats until morning.
A little before noon on the following day, two natives with their wives, arrived from Luj-no-ne-wort, the place where Hussey lived, and brought me some flour, and a piece of meat. The natives would eat of the bread, but would not taste of the meat. I remained here about a week, when Ludjuan came for me. Nothing occurred of note, during our passage back to Milly, (the place of my residence,) where I was welcomed by the natives with every demonstration of joy. I was sent for by one of the chiefs, who asked many questions, and as a mark of his friendship for me, when I was about to return, presented me with a kind of food called cha-kak-a. My present consisted of a piece about two feet long and six inches in diameter. It is made of a kind of fruit common among these Islands, and called by the inhabitants, bup. The fruit is scraped very fine, and then laid in the sun until perfectly dry. Some of the leaves of the tree bearing the fruit, are then wrapped round a piece of wood, which is the mould or former, and when securely tied with strings, the former is withdrawn, and into this cylinder of leaves is put the bup, which is of a sweet and pleasant taste.
At the urgent request of the natives, I now adopted their dress. Having but one pair of trowsers and a shirt left, I laid them by for bad weather, and put on the costume of a Mulgrave Islander. This dress, if it may be so called, consists in a broad belt fastened round the waist, from which is suspended two broad tassels. The belt is made from the leaves of the bup tree, and very ingeniously braided, to which is attached the tassels, which are made of a coarser material, being the bark of a small vine, in their language called aht-aht. When the dress is worn, one of the tassels hangs before and the other behind. The sun, as I expected, burned my skin very much; which the natives could not account for, as nothing of the kind ever happened among themselves.
One day there was seen approaching a number of canoes, which we found were loaded with fish for the chiefs, and to my great joy, Hussey was one of the passengers. My master accompanied me to see him; and we anticipated at least a mental feast in each other's society. But of this enjoyment we were deprived by the natives, who were always uneasy when we were conversing together.
I learned, however, from Hussey, that the natives had been kind to him; but before we had an opportunity to communicate to each other our hopes and fears, he was hurried away. Having now gained considerable knowledge of their language, I learned that they were afraid that if we were permitted to hold converse, we should be the means of provoking the Supreme God, Anit, to do them some injury.
The bread fruit beginning to ripen, we were all employed in gathering it; and I will endeavour to give the reader an idea of the process of preserving it. After the fruit was gathered, the outside rind was scraped off, and the seeds taken out; which are in size and appearance like a chesnut. The fruit is then put into a net, the meshes of which are quite small, taken into the salt water, and then beat with a club to pummice. It is then put into baskets made of cocoanut leaves, and in about two days becomes like a rotten apple; after which the cores are taken out, and the remainder after undergoing a process of kneading, is put into a hole in the ground, the bottom and sides of which are neatly inlaid with leaves, and left about two days; when it again undergoes the same process of kneading, and so on, until it becomes perfectly dry.—This occupied us a number of days; and when we were engaged in gathering another, and a larger kind, a small boy came running towards us, and exclaimed, "Uroit a-ro rayta mony la Wirrum," that is, the chiefs are going to kill William. Ludjuan seeing that I understood what the boy said, he said "reab-reab!" it is false. From the pains taken by the natives to keep Hussey and myself apart, it was evident that they were in some measure afraid of us; but from what cause I had yet to learn. After passing a sleepless night, we again in the morning pursued our labors, but I was continually agitated by fearful apprehensions. About midnight I overheard some of the natives in the tent talking about me, and I was now convinced that some injury was contemplated. I then asked them what I was to be killed for. They seemed surprised when I told them I had been listening; yet they denied that I was to be killed, and one of them who had frequently manifested for me much friendship, came to my mat, and lay down with me, assuring me I should not be injured.
The harvest being ended, a feast was had, and the chiefs were presented with considerable quantities of this fruit, after it had been prepared and baked, which in taste resembled a sweet potatoe, sending presents of it in all directions about the Island.
Having now but little work to do, I confined myself to the hut as much as possible, for I had been observed for some time in a very suspicious manner. In a few days I was informed that Hussey had been brought to the Island, and it was immediately suggested to my anxious mind, that we were now to be sacrificed. Ludjuan went with me to see Hussey, but we were only allowed a few moments conversation, when I was taken back to the hut, and communicated my fears to my old mistress, who sympathized with me, but said if the chiefs had determined it, there was no hope for me. I now was made acquainted with the cause of their dislike, which was no less than a superstitious idea, that we were the cause of a malady, then raging to considerable extent!
This disease consisted in the swelling of the hands and feet, and in many instances the faces of the youth swelled to such a degree, that they were blind for a number of days. Such a disease they had never before been afflicted with. I had now an opportunity of most solemnly protesting my total inability to injure them in this way, and as the disease had as yet caused no death, I had a hope of being spared. I learned that a majority of the chiefs in council, were for putting me to death, but one of them in particular, protested against it, fearing it might be the cause of some worse calamity. As the vote to carry into effect any great measure, must be unanimous, this chief was the means by his dissenting, of saving my life.
The afflicted began to recover, and my fears were greatly lessened; but as these people are of a very unstable and changeful character, I could not entirely divest myself of apprehensions.
As soon as the harvest was completed, great preparations were made for the embarkation of the chiefs, who were going to make their annual visit to the different Islands. They told me that the King, whom they called La-boo-woole-yet, lived on an Island at the N. W. and if he did not receive his yearly present of preserved bread fruit and pero, he would come with a great party to fight them. Twelve canoes were put in the water, each one carrying a part of the provisions, and manned by about two hundred persons.
After an absence of four or five days, during which time we exchanged civilities with numerous chiefs, we returned to Milly, and hauled up the canoes. I now learned that the principal chief, had said that it would have been wrong to kill me, firmly believing that the disease with which they had been afflicted, had been sent by their God, as a punishment for having killed Payne and the others! The malady having now entirely disappeared, they considered that crime as expiated!
About two days after my return, there was great excitement, in consequence of the appearance of a ship! Seeing the natives were very much displeased at the circumstance, I concealed as well as I could, the gladdening emotions which filled my breast; and, surrounded by about three hundred of them, went round a point of land, when I distinctly saw a ship standing for the land. The displeasure of the natives increased, they demanded to know where she came from, how many men she had in her, &c. I was compelled to tell them that she was not coming to get me, and even pretended to be afraid of her approach, which pleased them much, as they appeared determined I should never leave them. At dusk she was so near the land, that I saw them shorten sail, and fondly anticipated the hour of my deliverance as not far distant.
During the night, sleep was a stranger to me, and with the most anxious emotions did I anticipate a welcome reception on board, and above all, a happy and joyful landing on my native shore. In the morning, Ludjuan went with me to the beach, but alas! no ship was in sight. She had vanished, and with her had fled all my hopes of a speedy deliverance. The kind reader can perhaps form some idea of my disappointment.
The natives continued to be kind to me, and I was often complimented by them for my knowledge of their language; and the appearance of my person had very much improved, my hair and beard being long, and my skin turned nearly as black as their own! I was often importuned to have my ears bored and stretched, but never gave my consent, which much surprised them, it being a great mark of beauty. They begin at the age of four years, and perforate the lower part of the ear, with a sharp pointed stick; and as the ear stretches, larger ones are inserted, until it will hang nearly to their shoulders! The larger the ear, the more beauty the person possesses!
About a fortnight after I saw the ship pass, Hussey came with his master, on a visit. His disappointment was great, and we could only cheer each other, by hoping for the best, and wait patiently the pleasure of Heaven.
Hussey again left me, but we parted under less bodings of evil than before, for the kindness of the natives began to increase, and their suspicions to be allayed.
I will here acquaint the reader with some of the means that I was induced to make use of, to satisfy the cravings of appetite. As the Island now was in a state of almost entire famine, my daily subsistence not amounting to more (upon an average) than the substance of one half a cocoanut each day. The chief I lived with, having several cocoanut trees that he was very choice of, and which bore plentifully; I would frequently, (after the natives in the hut were all soundly asleep) take the opportunity and get out of the hut unperceived, and climb one of those trees, (being very careful about making the least noise, or letting any of them drop to the ground, whereby I might be detected,) and take the stem of one cocoanut in my mouth, and one in each hand, and in that manner make out to slide down the tree, and would then (with my prize) make the best of my way to a bunch of bushes, at a considerable distance from the hut, where I would have a sumptuous repast; and if any remained, would secrete them, until by hunger, I was drove to the necessity of revisiting that place.
I made a practice of this for some time, until the chief began to miss his cocoanuts, and keep such watch, that I, for fear of being detected, was obliged to relinquish that mode of satisfying my appetite.
A short time after this, I ventured to take a cocoanut off the ground where the natives had recently buried a person; a deed which is strictly against the laws of their religious principles, (if it can be said that they have any,) and a deed which the natives never dare to do, for fear of displeasing their God (Anit) under a certain length of time after the person had been buried, and then, the spot is only to be approached by males.