A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY
WEST COAST OF COREA,
THE GREAT LOO-CHOO ISLAND;
CHARTS, AND VARIOUS HYDROGRAPHICAL AND SCIENTIFIC NOTICES.
BY CAPTAIN BASIL HALL,
ROYAL NAVY, F.R.S. LOND. & EDIN. MEMBER OF THE ASIATIC SOCIETY OF CALCUTTA, OF THE LITERARY SOCIETY OF BOMBAY, AND OF THE SOCIETY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES AT BATAVIA.
A VOCABULARY OF THE LOO-CHOO LANGUAGE,
BY H.J. CLIFFORD, ESQ.
LIEUTENANT ROYAL NAVY.
LONDON JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE-STREET. 1818.
TO CAPTAIN MURRAY MAXWELL, Knight Companion to the Bath, TO WHOSE ABILITY IN CONDUCTING THIS VOYAGE, ZEAL IN GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT TO EVERY INQUIRY, SAGACITY IN DISCOVERING THE DISPOSITION OF THE NATIVES, AND ADDRESS IN GAINING THEIR CONFIDENCE AND GOOD WILL, IS TO BE ATTRIBUTED WHATEVER MAY BE FOUND INTERESTING OR USEFUL IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES, THIS WORK IS MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED, BY THE AUTHORS.
The following work contains a Narrative of the Voyage to the West Coast of Corea, and the Great Loo-choo Island; an Appendix, containing Nautical details; and a Vocabulary of the Language spoken at Loo-choo.
In drawing up the Narrative from journals written at the time, I have derived great assistance from notes made by Lieutenant H.J. Clifford, of the Navy. This officer obtained permission from the Admiralty to accompany me, though on half pay, and having no specific duty to perform, he was enabled to devote himself entirely to the acquisition of knowledge; and had it in his power to record many interesting occurrences of the voyage, which the numerous duties of my station left me but little leisure to observe or describe.
All the Charts, Tables, and Nautical Notices have been placed in an Appendix, in order to avoid the interruption which such details are apt to occasion when inserted in a journal; and the Nautical reader will perhaps consider it advantageous, to have this part of the subject set apart, and condensed, instead of being scattered over the pages of the narrative.
I am indebted to Mr. Clifford for very important assistance in collecting and arranging the materials which form this Appendix.
The northern part of the Chart of the Yellow Sea, given in the Appendix, was taken from a Chart by Captain Daniel Ross, of the Bombay marine, the scientific and able surveyor commanding the squadron which the Honourable East India Company, in the spirit of a liberal and enlarged policy, have employed for upwards of nine years, in surveying the China Seas.
The Vocabulary is exclusively compiled by Mr. Clifford, who took the greatest pains to collect words and sentences in common use; and though, from the shortness of our stay, this part of the work is necessarily incomplete, it is hoped that a future voyager will derive considerable assistance from it, in his intercourse with the natives.
The drawings of scenery and costume were made by Mr. William Havell, the eminent artist who accompanied the Embassy, from sketches taken on the spot, by Mr. C.W. Browne, midshipman of the Alceste, and myself.
Nothing respecting the west side of Corea has hitherto been accurately known to Europeans. The coast laid down in most Charts has been taken from the celebrated map of the Jesuits, which is very correct in what relates to China, but erroneous with respect to Corea. The Jesuits, indeed, did not survey this country, but have inserted it in their map, I believe, from Japanese authorities.
Captain Broughton in his voyage to the North Pacific Ocean visited the South Coast of Corea, and his account of the inhabitants agrees with ours in most particulars.
The same distinguished voyager visited the Great Loo-choo Island in 1797, after having been shipwrecked near Typinsan, one of its dependant islands. He was at Napakiang for a few days, and his account of the natives is highly interesting.
There is an article by Pere Gaubil, a missionary, on the subject of the Loo-choo Islands, in the 23d vol. of the "Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses." It is a translation from the official report of a Chinese embassador sent to Loo-choo by the Emperor Kang Hi; our opportunities, however, were not sufficient to enable us to judge of the accuracy of this curious memoir.
H.M.S. Alceste and Lyra leave the Yellow Sea on a Voyage of Discovery—Sir James Hall's Group on the Coast of Corea—Unsociable Character of the Natives—Hutton's Island—Interesting geological Structure—Anchor near the Main Land—Corean Chief's Visit—Objections made to Strangers landing—Distress of the Chief—His Character—Departure from Basil's Bay—Clusters of Islands—Murray's Sound—Deserted Corean Village—View from the Summit of a high Peak—Interview with the Coreans—Peculiarities of their Character—Language—Erroneous geographical Position of this Coast—Leave Corea Page 1
Enter the Japan Sea—Sulphur Island—Volcano—See the Great Loo-choo Island—Lyra nearly wrecked—First Interview with the Natives—Anchor at Napakiang—Natives crowd on Board—Their interesting Appearance and Manners—Several Chiefs visit the Alceste—Land to make Observations—Astonishment of the Natives—Six Chiefs visit the Ships—Alceste and Lyra proceed farther in Shore—A Chief of high Rank waits upon Captain Maxwell—Return his Visit—Feast—Projected Survey of the Anchorage—Visit Reef Island—The Lyra sent to look for another Harbour—Arrangements for landing the Alceste's Stores—Description of the Temple and Garden—First Acquaintance with Madera—Study of the Language 58
The Lyra sent to survey the Island of Loo-choo—Discovery of Port Melville—Description of that Harbour, and the Villages on its Banks—Lyra nearly wrecked—Interview with Natives at the South Point—Return to Napakiang—Behaviour of the Natives at a Seaman's Funeral—Madera's Character and Conduct—Sociable Habits of the Natives—Dinner given to the Chiefs of the Island by Captain Maxwell—Madera's Behaviour on this Occasion—Two Women seen—A Lady of Rank visits the Boatswain's Wife—Captain Maxwell fractures his Finger—Loo-choo Surgeon—Concern of the Natives—Visit of the Prince—Discussion about the King of Loo-choo's Letter—Madera appears in a new Character—Feast given by the Prince—List of Supplies given to the Ships—Behaviour of the Prince on taking Leave—Preparations for Departure—Madera's Distress—Last Interview with the Chiefs—Brief Memorandums upon the Religion, Manners, and Customs of Loo-choo—Advice to a Stranger visiting this Island 135
Notice explanatory of a Chart of the Gulf of Pe-chee-lee v
Notice to accompany the Chart of the West Coast of Corea x
Notice to accompany the general Chart of the Great Loo-choo Island in the Japan Sea, and the Charts of Napakiang Roads and Port Melville xvii
Observations made at the Observatory at Napakiang xxix
Table of Observations made with Dr. Wollaston's Dip Sector: with an Engraving, and a Description of this Instrument, and Directions for its Use xxxi
Meteorological Journal, from July to November 1816, while the Ships were in the Yellow and Japan Seas li
Abstract of the Lyra's Voyage, from leaving England till her Return; shewing the Distance between the different Places at which she touched, and the Time taken in performing each Passage cix
Geological Memorandum; being a Description of the Specimens of Rocks collected at Macao and the Ladrone Islands, on the Shores of the Yellow Sea, the West Coast of Corea, and the Great Loo-choo Island cxix
PART I.—English and Loo-choo words.
PART II.—Sentences in English and Loo-choo, with a literal Translation.
Loo-choo and Japanese Numerals—Names of Persons at Napakiang—Names of Places—Days of the Moon—Orders of Rank—Tattoo Marks—Hours of the Day.
Comparison between the Japanese and Loo-choo Languages.
Comparison between the Loo-choo and Insu Languages.
Comparison between the Loo-choo, Japanese, and Insu Languages.
DIRECTIONS FOR PLACING THE PLATES.
Sulphur Island, to face the Title Page. Corean Chief and Secretary To face Page 16 Napakiang 77 Loo-choo Chief and his two Sons 97 Priest and Gentleman of Loo-choo 132 The Prince of Loo-choo 176 Scene after the Prince's Feast 196 Gentleman of Loo-choo in his Cloak 215 Bridge of Napakiang 222
Chart of the Gulf of Pe-chee-lee v Coast of Corea x Chart of the Great Loo-choo Island xix Napakiang Roads xxi Port Melville xxiv Wollaston's Dip Sector xxxiii
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[Transcriber's note: The following errors have been corrected in the text.]
Page 1, line 2 from bottom, for 11th August, read 9th August.
Page 60, top line, for was, read saw.
Meteorological Journal.—Longitude on the 1st Sept. for 124.20, read 124.48.
The longitudes in the Met. Journ. from the 3d to the 7th of Sept. inclusive are too small by 15'.
For Tatesee, read Tatsee. For Teetesee, read Teetsee. For Meetesee, read Meetsee. For Eeotesee, read Eeotsee. For Eeyatesee, read Eeyatsee. For opposite, read under, in the note on the word Hour.
[Transcriber's Note: a letter with a macron above it is denoted by x.]
VOYAGE TO THE WEST COAST OF COREA AND THE LOO-CHOO ISLANDS.
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H.M.S. Alceste and Lyra leave the Yellow Sea on a Voyage of Discovery—Sir James Hall's Group on the Coast of Corea—Unsociable Character of the Natives—Hutton's Island—Interesting geological Structure—Anchor near the Main Land—Corean Chiefs Visit—Objections made to Strangers landing—Distress of the Chief—His Character—Departure from Basil's Bay—Clusters of Islands—Murray's Sound—Deserted Corean Village—View from the Summit of a high Peak—Interview with the Coreans—Peculiarities of their Character—Language—Erroneous geographical Position of this Coast—Leave Corea.
The embassy to China, under the Right Honourable Lord Amherst, left England in his Majesty's frigate Alceste, Captain Murray Maxwell, C.B., on the 9th of February, 1816, and landed near the mouth of the Pei-ho river, in the Yellow Sea, on the 9th of August. Shortly afterwards the Alceste and Lyra sloop of war, which had accompanied the embassy, proceeded to the coast of Corea, the eastern boundary of the Yellow Sea; for as these ships were not required in China before the return of the Embassador by land to Canton, it was determined to devote the interval to an examination of some places in those seas, of which little or no precise information then existed. The following pages give the details of this voyage.
1st of September.—This morning at daylight the land of Corea was seen in the eastern quarter. Having stood towards it, we were at nine o'clock near three high islands, differing in appearance from the country we had left, being wooded to the top, and cultivated in the lower parts, but not in horizontal terraces as at the places we had last visited in China. We proceeded to the southward of the group, and anchored in a fine bay at the distance of two or three miles from the southern island. Shortly after anchoring, a boat came from the shore with five or six natives, who stopped, when within fifty yards of the brig, and looking at us with an air of curiosity and distrust, paid no attention to the signs which were made to induce them to come alongside. They expressed no alarm when we went to them in our boat; and on our rowing towards the shore, followed us till we landed near a village. The inhabitants came in a body to meet us, forming an odd assemblage, different in many respects from any thing we had seen; their colour was a deep copper, and their appearance forbidding, and somewhat savage. Some men, who appeared to be superior to the rest, were distinguished by a hat, the brim of which was nearly three feet in diameter, and the crown, which was about nine inches high, and scarcely large enough to admit the top of the head, was shaped like a sugar-loaf with the end cut off. The texture of this strange hat is of a fine open work like the dragon-fly's wing; it appears to be made of horse-hair varnished over, and is fastened under the chin by a band strung with large beads, mostly black and white, but occasionally red or yellow. Some of the elderly men wore stiff gauze caps over their hair, which was formed into a high conical knot on the top of the head. Their dress consisted of loose wide trowsers, and a sort of frock reaching nearly to the knee, made of a coarse open grass cloth, and on their feet neat straw sandals. They were of the middle size, remarkably well made, and robust looking. At first they expressed some surprise on examining our clothes, but afterwards took very little interest in any thing belonging to us. Their chief anxiety was to get rid of us as soon as possible. This they expressed in a manner too obvious to be mistaken; for, on our wishing to enter the village, they first made motions for us to go the other way; and when we persevered, they took us rudely by the arms and pushed us off. Being very desirous to conciliate them, we shewed no impatience at this treatment; but our forbearance had no effect; and after a number of vain attempts to make ourselves understood, we went away not much pleased at their behaviour. A Chinese, who accompanied us, was of no use, for he could not read what the Coreans wrote for him, though in the Chinese character; and of their spoken language he did not understand a word.
On leaving these unsociable villagers, we went to the top of the highest peak on the island, the ascent being easy by a winding foot-path. From this elevation we saw a number of islands to the eastward, and the main land at a great distance beyond them. The top of the hill being covered with soft grass and sweet-smelling shrubs, and the air, which had been of a suffocating heat below, being here cool and refreshing, we were tempted to sit down to our pic-nic dinner. We returned by the other side of the hill; but there being no path, and the surface rocky and steep, and covered with a thick brushwood, we were not a little scratched and bruised before we reached a road which runs along the north face of the hill about midway. By following this, we came to a spot from whence we were enabled to look down upon the village, without being ourselves perceived by the natives. The women, who had deserted the village on our landing, had now returned; most of them were beating rice in wooden mortars, and they had all children tied on their backs. On a sudden they quitted their work and ran off to their huts, like rabbits in a warren; and in a few minutes we saw one of the ship's boats row round the point of land adjacent to the village, which explained the cause of their alarm. After remaining for some time in expectation of seeing the women again, we came down to the village, which the natives now permitted us to pass through. On this occasion one of the gentlemen of our party saw, for an instant, a woman at no great distance, whose feet he declared were of the natural size, and not cramped as in China. The village consists of forty houses rudely constructed of reeds plaistered with mud, the roofs are of all shapes, and badly thatched with reeds and straw, tied down by straw ropes. These huts are not disposed in streets, but are scattered about without order, and without any neatness, or cleanliness, and the spaces between them are occupied by piles of dirt and pools of muddy water. The valley in which this comfortless village is situated is, however, pretty enough, though not wooded; the hills forming it are of an irregular shape, and covered at top with grass and sweet-scented flowers; the lower parts are cultivated with millet, buckwheat, a kind of French bean, and tobacco, which last grows in great quantity; and here and there is a young oak-tree.
We saw bullocks and poultry, but the natives would not exchange them for our money, or for any thing we had to offer. They refused dollars when offered as a present, and, indeed, appeared to set no value upon any thing we shewed them, except wine glasses; but even these they were unwilling to receive. One of the head men appeared particularly pleased with a glass, which, after a good deal of persuasion, he accepted, but, in about five minutes after, he, and another man to whom a tumbler had been given, came back and insisted upon returning the presents; and then, without waiting for further persuasion, returned to the village, leaving with us only one man, who, as soon as all the rest were out of sight, accepted one of the glasses with much eagerness.
These people have a proud sort of carriage, with an air of composure and indifference about them, and an absence of curiosity which struck us as being very remarkable. Sometimes when we succeeded, by dint of signs and drawings, in expressing the nature of a question, they treated it with derision and insolence. On one occasion, being anxious to buy a clumsy sort of rake made of reeds, which appeared to me curious, I succeeded in explaining my wish to the owner, one of the lowest class of villagers; he laughed at first good humouredly, but immediately afterwards seized the rake which was in my hand, and gave it a rude push towards me with a disdainful fling of the arm, accompanying this gesticulation by words, which seemed to imply a desire to give any thing upon condition of our going away. One man expressed the general wish for our departure, by holding up a piece of paper like a sail, and then blowing upon it in the direction of the wind, at the same time pointing to the ships, thereby denoting that the wind was fair, and that we had only to set sail and leave the island. Several of the people were marked with the small-pox. The children kept out of our reach at first, but before we went away, their fears had, in some degree, subsided, for the boys, who, from their feminine appearance, were mistaken at first for girls, accompanied us to some distance from the village.
Captain Maxwell named these islands Sir James Hall's group, in compliment to the President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. They lie in longitude 124 46' E. and latitude 37 50' N.
At eight o'clock in the evening we weighed and stood to the southward, but as the coast was quite unknown, we kept rather off shore during the night, and in the morning no land was in sight. On the 2d we stood to the eastward, but not having daylight enough to get in with the coast, it became necessary to anchor for the night, though in deep water.
3d of September.—Having reached nearly lat. 36-1/3 N. and long. 126 E. we sailed this morning amongst a range of islands extending as far as the eye could reach, both to the southward and northward, at the distance of six or seven leagues from the main land. By two o'clock we were close to the outer cluster of the islands, and the passages appearing clear between them, we sailed through and anchored inside. While passing one of these islands in the ships, at no great distance, it looked so curiously formed, that, on anchoring, we went in the boats to examine its structure more minutely. While we were thus engaged, the natives had assembled in a crowd on the edge of the cliff above us; they did not seem pleased with our occupation of breaking their rocks, for, from the moment we landed, they never ceased to indicate by shouts, screams, and all kinds of gesticulations, that the sooner we quitted the island the better; the cliff being 200 feet high, and nearly perpendicular, it was fortunate for us that they confined themselves to signs and clamour, and did not think of enforcing their wishes by a shower of stones.
As soon as we had completed our investigation of this spot, we went round in the boats to a small bay where there was good landing. Here we were met by the natives, who addressed several long speeches to us in a very loud tone of voice; to which we replied in English, that our wish was merely to look at the island, without interfering with any body; at the same time we proceeded up a foot-path to the brow of a hill. This the natives did not seem at all to relish, and they made use of a sign which was sufficiently expressive of their anxiety, though we could not determine exactly to whom it referred. They drew their fans across their own throats, and sometimes across ours, as if to signify that our going on would lead to heads being cut off; but whether they or we were to be the sufferers was not apparent. It was suggested by one of our party that they dreaded being called to account by their own chiefs for permitting us to land. All these signs, however, did not prevent our advancing till we had reached the brow of the hill to which the path led; from this place we had a view of a village at the distance of half a mile, of a much better appearance than that above described. Trees were interspersed among the houses, which were pleasantly situated at the bottom of a little cove, with fishing-boats at anchor near it. We explained readily enough that our wish was to go to the village, but it was all in vain, for their anxiety increased every moment, and we desisted from any further attempts to advance.
The dress of these people is a loose white robe, cloth shoes, and a few wear the broad hats before described; by most the hair is tied in a high conical knot on the top of the head, but by others it is allowed to fly loose, so as to give them a wild appearance. Some confine the short hair by a small gauze band with a star on one side, forming, along with the top knot, rather a becoming head-dress. Their beards and whiskers which, apparently, had never been cut, and their fans and long tobacco-pipes, and their strange language and manners, gave a grotesque air to the whole group, which it is impossible to describe. They crowded about us, and, by repeated shouts, manifested their surprise at the form and texture of our clothes; but on a watch being shewn, they disregarded every thing else, and entreated to be allowed to examine it closely. It was evidently the first they had seen, and some of them while watching the second-hand, looked as if they thought it alive. From the watch they proceeded to examine the seals and keys; with the former they shewed themselves acquainted by pressing them on their hands, so as to cause an impression. Their attention was drawn away from the watch by our firing a musket, which made the whole party fall back several paces.
After amusing ourselves in this manner for some time, we walked back to the boats, to the great joy of the natives, who encouraged us by all means to hasten our departure. They took our hands and helped us over the slippery stones on the beach; and, on perceiving one of the boats aground, several of them stript and jumped into the water to push her off. This gave us an opportunity of observing their remarkable symmetry and firmness of limb; yet, as their long hair was allowed to flow about their neck and shoulders, their appearance was truly savage. During this visit we saw no women; but the children came round us without shewing any symptoms of fear. The people, upon the whole, are more free, and not so surly as our acquaintance on Sir James Hall's group. They have a singular custom of speaking with a loud tone, amounting almost to a shout. Captain Maxwell named this island after Dr. Hutton the geologist.
4th of September.—During all last night it remained perfectly calm. At nine o'clock in the morning we got under weigh with a fine sea breeze, and stood in for the land, leaving on either hand many well cultivated islands. The main land seems to be populous, from the number of large villages which we passed, and the cultivation which extends a considerable way up the mountains. Our object this morning was to discover some safe anchoring place in the main land, but we were obliged to coast along for a considerable distance before any opening appeared. About three o'clock we sailed round a point of land and discovered a bay, which, at first sight, promised shelter, but the water proved too shallow even for the Lyra, and we anchored far out in five fathoms. The natives who had assembled in crowds on the point shouted to us as we passed, in seeming anger at our approaching so near. This bay is about four miles in diameter, and is skirted by large villages built amongst trees, and surrounded by cultivated districts, forming altogether a scene of considerable beauty.
As soon as the Alceste had anchored, Captain Maxwell, Mr. Clifford, and I, went towards the nearest village in the bay. On approaching the shore we observed a great bustle among the inhabitants on the shore, as well as in the boats at anchor off the village. The people on the beach hastily jumped into canoes, whilst those in the large boats weighed the anchors, and pulled out with such expedition, as to meet us in a body before we were near the landing-place. Every boat was crowded with people, and ornamented with numerous flags and streamers; but one of them being distinguished by a large blue umbrella, we steered towards it, on the supposition that this was an emblem of rank; in which opinion we were soon confirmed by the sound of music, which played only on board this boat. On coming closer, we saw a fine patriarchal figure seated under the umbrella; his full white beard covered his breast, and reached below his middle; his robe or mantle, which was of blue silk, and of an immense size, flowed about him in a magnificent style. His sword was suspended from his waist by a small belt, but the insignia of his office appeared to be a slender black rod tipped with silver, about a foot and a half long, with a small leather thong at one end, and a piece of black crape tied to the other: this he held in his hand. His hat exceeded in breadth of brim any thing we had yet met with, being, as we supposed, nearly three feet across.
As this was evidently the chief of the party, we pulled alongside and got into his boat, where he received us with much politeness; but as he looked dissatisfied at this proceeding, we returned to our own boat, and there carried on the conference. While we were endeavouring to make ourselves understood, the other boats gradually separated, and began to form a circle round us. Apprehending treachery, we prepared our arms, and pushed off to a little distance. The old gentleman, perceiving this, looked about very innocently to discover the cause of our alarm; and at length being made aware by our signs of what was the matter, he commanded all the boats to go to the other side. We now remained a considerable time without being able to make ourselves understood; for the Chinese whom we had with us was quite ignorant of their language. We endeavoured, by pointing to the shore, to signify our desire to land, while the old Chief, by similar signs, expressed his wish to go to the ships. We accordingly rowed to the Lyra, which lay nearer to the shore than the Alceste. When the Chief's boat was within ten yards of the brig, they let go their anchor, and threw a rope on board her, by which they drew the boat alongside in a very seaman-like style. The old man did not find it an easy matter to get up the ship's side, encumbered as he was with his splendid robes; he was no sooner on board, however, than we were crowded with the natives, who boarded us on all sides. Some climbed up the rigging, so as to overlook the quarter-deck; others got on the poop, and a line was formed along the hammock netting from one end of the brig to the other. As the evening was fine, it was thought best to entertain the venerable Chief upon deck, rather than give him the trouble of going down to the cabin, which, indeed, we had reason to fear would prove too small for the party. Chairs were accordingly placed upon the deck; but the Chief made signs that he could not sit on a chair, nor would he consent for a time to use his mat, which was brought on board by one of his attendants. He seemed embarrassed and displeased, which we could not at the moment account for, though it has since occurred to us that he objected to the publicity of the conference. At length, however, he sat down on his mat, and began talking with great gravity and composure, without appearing in the smallest degree sensible that we did not understand a single word that he said. We of course could not think of interrupting him, and allowed him to talk on at his leisure; but when his discourse was concluded, he paused for our reply, which we made with equal gravity in English; upon this he betrayed great impatience at his harangue having been lost upon us, and supposing that we could, at all events, read, he called to his secretary, and began to dictate a letter. The secretary sat down before him with all due formality, and having rubbed his cake of ink upon a stone, drawn forth his pen, and arranged a long roll of paper upon his knee, began the writing, which was at length completed, partly from the directions of the Chief, and partly from his own ideas, as well as the occasional suggestions of the bystanders. The written part was then torn off from the scroll and handed to the Chief, who delivered it to me with the utmost confidence of its being understood: but his mortification and disappointment were extreme on perceiving that he had overrated our acquirements.
A debate now appeared to take place between the Chief and his followers, as to the mode of communicating with us; meanwhile, as we ourselves were equally at a loss, we became anxious to relieve the old man's embarrassment, by shewing him all the attention in our power, and completely succeeded in putting him into a good humour, by giving him some cherry brandy, and distributing rum to his people.
While these attempts at explanation were going on, the crowd of natives increased, and their curiosity became so great, that they pressed round us in a way nowise agreeable. Some of them roved about the ship, and appeared highly entertained with every thing they saw. The Chief himself, however, did not appear at ease, but continued giving directions to his officers and people about him with an air of impatience. He more than once ordered them all into their boats, but they always returned after a few minutes. One man persevered in climbing over the hammocks, close to the Chief, to see what was going on. The noise made to keep him back attracted the Chief's attention, who immediately gave orders to one of the attendants for his being taken away; it will be seen by and by what was his fate.
The persons forming the suite of the Chief were dressed nearly in the same manner as himself, excepting that their robes were white, and did not contain such a profusion of cloth. They wore the large hats and wide trowsers tied above the ancle, with cotton shoes turned up a little at the toe. The immediate attendants, who seemed also to be soldiers, were differently clothed: over a loose pink frock with wide sleeves, they have another which fits closer, and is without sleeves, the corners being tucked up, like the skirts of some military uniforms. Their hat is a broad flat cone made of thick grass, the under part being embossed with different coloured silks, and from a gilt ornament on the peak there hangs a tassel made of peacock's feathers, and another of hair dyed red: some are armed with bows and arrows, others with only a straight sword, having no guard for the hand. A coarse frock without sleeves, and trowsers, or rather drawers, covering the thigh, are worn by the lower orders.
It was nearly dark when the Chief gave directions for preparing the boats, at the same time calling to two of his attendants to assist him to get on his legs. Each took an arm, and in this way succeeded in raising him up, which was no sooner observed by the people, than they jumped into their boats with the utmost alacrity, and the Chief, after many bows and salams, walked into his boat. This did not give him so much trouble as he had experienced on coming on board, for a platform of gratings and planks had been prepared for his accommodation during his visit, an attention with which he seemed much pleased. So far all seemed well; but there was still something amiss, for the old man, seated in state under his umbrella, remained alongside with his attendants ranged on the deck about him, he and his people preserving the most perfect silence, and making no signs to explain his wishes. We were greatly puzzled to discover what the old gentleman wanted, till at length it was suggested, that having paid us a visit, he expected a similar compliment in return. This idea was no sooner started, than we proceeded to pay our respects to him in his boat. He made signs for us to sit down, honouring us at the same with a corner of his own mat. When we were seated, he looked about as if in distress at having nothing to entertain us with, upon which a bottle of wine was sent for and given to him. He ordered an attendant to pour it into several bowls, and putting the bottle away, made signs for us to drink, but would not taste it himself till all of us had been served. He was nowise discomposed at being obliged to entertain his company at their own expense; on the contrary, he carried off the whole affair with so much cheerfulness and ease, as to make us suspect sometimes that he saw and enjoyed the oddity of the scene and circumstances, as fully as we did ourselves.
After sitting about ten minutes, we left the Chief in great good humour, and returned on board, thinking, of course, that he would go straight to the shore; but in this we were much mistaken, for we had no sooner left him, than he pushed off to the distance of ten or twelve yards, and calling the other boats round him, gave orders for inflicting the discipline of the bamboo upon the unfortunate culprit, who had been ordered into confinement during the conference. This exhibition, which it was evidently intended we should witness, had a very ludicrous effect, for it followed so much in train with the rest of the ceremony, and was carried on with so much gravity and order, that it looked like an essential part of the etiquette. During the infliction of this punishment, a profound silence was observed by all the party, except by five or six persons immediately about the delinquent, whose cries they accompanied by a sort of song or yell at each blow of the bamboo. This speedy execution of justice was, no doubt, intended to impress us with high notions of Corean discipline.
As it was now quite dark, we did not expect the Chief to pay any more visits this evening; but we underrated his politeness, for the moment the above scene was concluded, he steered for the Alceste. Captain Maxwell, who during all the time had been on board the Lyra, hurried into his boat to be prepared to give him a proper reception in his ship, and had just time to change his jacket for a coat and epaulettes before the Chief arrived. After climbing up the ship's side with some difficulty, and being received in due form on the quarter-deck, which was lighted up, he was handed into the foremost cabin, where he was met by Captain Maxwell, and conducted to a seat in the after cabin. As he declined sitting on a chair, he was obliged to wait for his mat, and, in the meantime, looked round him in amaze at the magnificence of the apartments. The change of dress made him behave towards Captain Maxwell as to a perfect stranger; but the moment he recognised him, he appeared much amused with his mistake, and his manners became less reserved. He now turned about to see what was become of his mat, and was astonished to find himself alone with us in the cabin. It was then discovered that the sentry at the door, in repressing the crowd of his followers, had found it impossible to distinguish his more immediate attendants, and had therefore allowed nobody to pass.
The door being opened, the mat-bearer and four of the principal people were called in by the Chief; and when we were all fairly seated on the deck, the secretary was directed to prepare a writing, which was dictated and delivered much in the same manner as before. Whether the presentation of a written paper was considered by the Chief as a necessary piece of etiquette, or whether he really had more hopes of being understood on this occasion than before, was quite uncertain; but the mode adopted by Captain Maxwell to undeceive him was conclusive. He immediately called for paper, and wrote upon it in English, "I do not understand one word that you say," and presented this paper in return, with all the forms and ceremonies that had been adopted towards himself. The Chief, on receiving it, examined the characters with great attention, and then made signs that it was wholly unintelligible, alternately looking at the paper and at Captain Maxwell with an inquiring air, and was only made sensible of the awkward dilemma in which we were placed, by observing Captain Maxwell repeat all his looks and gestures as equally applicable to the Corean writing which he held in his hand.
The Chief had now recourse to signs, which he used ever afterwards. He was in great spirits, and seemed entertained with the efforts which were made to please him. He asked to look at a mirror which had caught his attention; when it was put into his hands, he seemed very well satisfied with the figure which it presented, and continued for some time pulling his beard from side to side with an air of perfect complacency. One of the attendants thought there could be no harm in looking at the mirror likewise, but the Chief was of a different opinion, and no sooner observed what he was doing, than he very angrily made him put down the glass and leave the cabin. The secretary too fell under his displeasure, and was reprimanded with much acrimony for overlooking our paper when we were writing. Scarcely five minutes elapsed, in short, during his stay, without his finding some cause of complaint against his people; but we could not determine whether this arose from mere captiousness, or was done to give us a higher notion of his consequence, because, in the intervals, he was all cheerfulness and good humour. He was offered tea and cherry brandy, which he took along with us, and appeared at his ease in every respect. We thought that he made signs, implying a wish for us to visit him on shore; to this we cheerfully assented, and an arrangement for landing in the morning was made accordingly by means of similar signs, with which the Chief appeared much pleased, and rose to go away.
He had not got much beyond the cabin-door, however, before the serenity of his temper was once more overturned. On passing the gun-room sky-light, he heard the voices of some of his people whom the officers had taken below, and who were enjoying themselves very merrily amongst their new acquaintance. The old Chief looked down, and observing them drinking and making a noise, he called to them in a loud passionate voice, which made them leave their glasses, and run up the ladder in great terror. From thence the alarm spread along the lower deck, to the midshipmen's berth, where another party was carousing. The grog and wine with which they had been entertained was too potent for this party, as they did not seem to care much for the old Chief, who, posting himself at the hatchway, ascertained, by personal examination, who the offenders were. On this occasion, his little rod of office was of much use; he pushed the people about with it to make them speak, and used it to turn them round, in order to discover their faces. One man watching his opportunity when the Chief was punching away at somebody who had just come up, slipped past and ran off; but the quick eye of the old man was not so easily deceived, and he set off in chase of him round the quarter deck. The man had an apron full of biscuit, which had been given to him by the midshipmen; this impeded his running, so that the Chief, notwithstanding his robes, at last came up with him; but while he was stirring him up with his rod, the fellow slipped his cargo of bread into a coil of rope, and then went along with the Chief quietly enough. The old man came back afterwards, and found the biscuit, which he pointed out to us, to shew that it had not been taken away.
He continued for some time at the hatchway, expecting more people; but finding none come up, he went below himself, to the main deck, and rummaged under the guns and round the main-mast, to discover whether any one was concealed; but finding no person there, he came again upon deck, and shortly after went into his boat.
On returning to the Lyra, we found a number of boats anchored round her, which looked as if they meant to keep strict watch over us. We went in our boat to one of them, where we found the crew asleep. They seemed to have had orders not to follow the Chief to the frigate, and were here waiting his return. On our pointing to the shore, and making signs that the old man with the long beard and large hat had landed, they began immediately to get their anchor up, and called to the other boats to do the same. In a few minutes they were all at work, and every person in the boats joined in repeating the two words "ho ya, ho ya," the effect of which, from a great many voices, was not unpleasing.
The cable in these boats is wound round a large reel or barrel; to the ends of which two wheels with handles are fitted, which enables a considerable number to apply their strength at the same moment. The anchor is made of a dark coloured, heavy wood, with a long shank and flukes, and a short stock crossing the former, near the crown of the anchor, and not at the end of the shank, as with us in Europe. The mat sails are divided into horizontal divisions by slender pieces of bamboo. When not under sail, the boats are moved by oars having a circular piece of wood tied to the end, and are steered by a large scull over the stern. The bow is square above, but rises from the water in a slope, making a small angle with the water, like the end of a coal barge, but overhanging more. The planks are fastened together by means of square tree-nails, which pass in a slanting direction through the plank, and not straight, as with us.
5th of September.—A considerable bustle was observed on shore at daybreak this morning; and shortly afterwards, we saw the old Chief and his suite embark, and pull towards us, accompanied by a numerous fleet of smaller boats, all ornamented with showy flags, and crowded with people in gay and bright coloured garments, forming, upon the whole, a splendid and imposing scene. As the procession moved slowly along, the band in the Chief's boat struck up a lively, martial sort of air, on instruments similar to those we had heard last night; the tone of which is not unlike the drawling sound of the bagpipe, the bass or drone being produced by a long horn, and the squeaking sounds by four trumpets, two of which have stops in the middle, by which the notes are distinctly marked.
The Chief's visit was so unexpectedly early, that we had not put things in order for his reception, before he was alongside: he came on board, however, and seemed happy at being allowed to walk about the decks, and examine every thing at his leisure. When the cabin was ready, and the Chief seemed to have satisfied himself with looking round the upper deck, he was asked to walk down; which he complied with as soon as he understood what was meant. But he found it no easy matter to get down the narrow hatchway, in which there was barely room for his hat; but this he would by no means take off. As he entered the cabin, his robes and hat completely filled the door-way; and when seated at the table, (for he now made no objection to a chair) he occupied no inconsiderable portion of the whole apartment. He sat here for some time, and examined every thing in the cabin with great attention, pointing with the little stick whenever he saw any thing which he wanted to look at more closely. In this way, the books, globes, glasses, &c. were put into his hands; and it was not a little amusing to see the old gentleman wheeling the globes round, and hunting over the books for pictures, like a child. A person of rank who accompanied the Chief this morning, was asked to the cabin along with him; and was no sooner seated, than we observed that he had a very sickly look; which circumstance was the cause of a curious mistake. It had been supposed that the Chief, during last night's conference, made allusions to some friend of his who was unwell; and accordingly, in our arrangements for the morning, it was proposed to take the doctors of both ships on shore, to visit him. As the Chief had himself come on board, our plans for landing were interrupted, and we ascribed this early visit to his anxiety on account of his friend's health.
It was therefore taken for granted, that this sickly looking companion of the Chief, who, some how or other, got the title of the "Courtier," amongst us, was the patient alluded to last night; and no sooner were the first compliments over in the cabin, than the doctor was sent for to prescribe. On his being introduced, the Courtier was made to hold out his tongue, have his pulse felt, and submit to various interrogatories, the object of which the unfortunate man could not divine, particularly as there was nothing at all the matter with him. He submitted with so much patience to all these forms, and the Chief looked on with such grave propriety during all the examination, that they evidently considered the whole scene as a part of our ceremonial etiquette. When this gentleman was released from the doctor's hands, he began to examine the books with the air of a person who understands what he is about. He appeared desirous of passing for a literary character; and observing us hand the books about in a careless manner, ventured to ask for one, by drawing it towards himself with a begging look. As he happened to select a volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, I was under the necessity of refusing; but offered in its stead a less valuable, though more showy book, which he accepted with much gratitude. No return, of course, had been looked for, and I was for a moment at a loss to understand what my friend meant, by slipping his fan into my hand, under the table. He did this in so mysterious a way, when the Chief was looking in another direction, that I saw it was his wish to conceal what he had done, and the fan was sent privately away. But unfortunately, my precaution was fruitless, for a few minutes afterwards, on finding the crowded cabin very hot, I called for a fan, and the servant, unconscious of the mischief he was doing, brought the Courtier's present; which no sooner met the old man's eye, than he rose half off his chair, and gave his unhappy companion such a look of furious anger, as made him tremble from top to toe: but he was soon pacified when he saw that we took an interest in the question, and the Courtier was allowed to keep his book.
After sitting half an hour, and drinking a glass of Constantia, the old man proposed to go upon deck. I accordingly led the way, and had gone some steps up the ladder, in advance, before I perceived that he had stopped at the door of the gun-room, where the officers mess, and was looking in, with his usual curiosity. I begged him to go in, which he accordingly did, and entertained himself for some time, with looking over the different cabins of the officers. From having observed the pleasure which he took in the sight of any thing new, I was induced to propose his going round the lower deck, and he looked quite pleased when I pointed along the passage. The state hat, which had been resolutely kept on during all this time, notwithstanding its perpetual inconvenience to himself and every one around him, was here destined to come off; for after making two or three attempts, he found it impossible to get along and wear the hat too; and being of a very inquisitive disposition, he chose the degrading alternative of being uncovered, and his researches proceeded without interruption. Nothing escaped the old man's observation; whatever was shut or tied up, he requested to have opened; and in this way he rummaged the midshipmen's chests, and the sailors' bags, all along the lower deck. He looked into the holds, took the lid off the boilers, and turned every thing topsy-turvy. Seeing a cutlass tied to the deck, overhead, he took it down, and on drawing it from the scabbard, its lustre, and the keenness of its edge, surprised and delighted him so much, that I asked him to accept it. At first he seemed willing enough, but after holding a consultation with the Courtier for five minutes, he reluctantly put it back again. As he went along, he took samples of every thing that he could easily put into his sleeve, which served him instead of a sack; so that when he came upon deck, he was pretty well loaded, and looked about with the satisfaction of a school-boy, on having visited a show for the first time in his life.
Whilst we were below, one of the natives had been busily employed in taking the dimensions of the ship with a string, and another person was engaged under him, taking an account of the guns, shot, and rigging, all which details he wrote down; but not being able to ascertain, himself, the exact number of people on board, he had recourse to me for the information; this I communicated by opening eight times the fingers of both hands. The only part of the ship to which he had not free access was the cabin under the poop, and from which he felt much annoyed at being excluded: but when told that a gentleman was shaving there, he shewed himself quite satisfied with the explanation, and waited patiently until the door was opened to him.
The old gentleman and his followers appearing anxious to see a shot fired, an eighteen pound carronade was loaded before them, and discharged with the muzzle so much depressed, that the shot struck the water close to us, and then rose and fell eight or ten times, to the great entertainment and surprise of the whole party. In the mean time, Captain Maxwell had come on board, and breakfast being ready, we prevailed upon the Chief to sit down with us. He ate heartily of our hashes, and of every thing else that was put before him, using a knife, fork, and spoon, which he now saw, probably, for the first time in his life, not only without awkwardness, but to such good purpose, that he declined exchanging them for Chinese chopsticks, which were provided for him. In fact, he was so determined to adopt our customs in every respect, that when the tea was offered to him in the Chinese way, he looked to the right and left, and seeing ours differently prepared, held up his cup to the servant, for milk and sugar, which being given to him, the old gentleman remained perfectly satisfied.
The politeness and ease with which he accommodated himself to the habits of people so different from himself, were truly admirable; and when it is considered, that hitherto, in all probability, he was ignorant even of our existence, his propriety of manners should seem to point, not only to high rank in society, but to imply also a degree of civilization in that society, not confirmed by other circumstances. Be this as it may, the incident is curious, as shewing, that however different the state of society may be in different countries, the forms of politeness are much alike in all. This polished character was very well sustained by the old Chief; as he was pleased with our attempts to oblige him, and whatever we seemed to care about, he immediately took an interest in. He was very inquisitive, and was always highly gratified when he discovered the use of any thing which had puzzled him at first. But there was no idle surprise, no extravagant bursts of admiration, and he certainly would be considered a man of good breeding, and keen observation, in any part of the world. Towards his own people, indeed, he was harsh and impatient at all times; but this may have arisen from his anxiety that no offence should be given to us by the other natives, whom he might know were less delicate and considerate than himself, and therefore required constant control.
When breakfast was over, and the old man once more upon deck, we endeavoured to signify to him that we meant to land, according to our engagement yesterday evening; but this he either did not, or would not comprehend; for whenever we pointed towards the shore, he directed our attention to the frigate. At length he got into his boat, pushed off, and was making for the Alceste, when Captain Maxwell followed in his boat, and drawing up alongside of him, tried to prevail upon him to accompany us to the village: the Chief shook his head by way of disapprobation, and turning towards his attendants, entered into a discussion with them, which terminated by the Courtier and himself stepping into Captain Maxwell's boat.
We ascribed this measure to a desire on the Chief's part to show publicly that he had not himself invited us on shore, and had only acceded to our request to land. We had not proceeded far before the Chief repented of his ready compliance, and tried to persuade us to return; but finding the ordinary signs of no avail, he held his head down and drew his hand across his throat, as if his head was to be cut off. It was now our turn not to comprehend signs, and thinking it would be idle to lose so favourable an opportunity, spared no pains to reconcile the old man to our landing. In this, however, we did not succeed, for, as we approached the shore, his anxiety increased, and he frequently drew his hand across his neck, as if to shew that he would lose his head if we persisted. We again tried to re-assure him, by explaining that we had no intention of going near the village, but merely desired to walk about for a short time, and then to go to the frigate to dine. He was of course included in this invitation; but his only answer consisted in pointing to us and making signs of eating, and then drawing his hand across his throat; by which he was understood to mean, that it might be very well for us to talk of eating, but, for his part, he was taken up with the danger of losing his head. We could not but laugh at this, as we had no notion of any such apprehension being well grounded; and, in a short time, landed at the distance of half a mile from the village.
The old man was lifted out of the boat by several of his people, and we were amazed to find, when they set him down, that he was in tears, and looking altogether very unhappy. In a few minutes a crowd, consisting of more than a hundred people, assembled round us, and we began to think we should pay dearly for our curiosity. But the poor old man had no thoughts of vengeance, and was no better pleased with the crowd than we were; for turning to his soldiers, he desired them to disperse the mob, which they did in a moment by pelting them with great stones. The Chief now began crying violently, and turning towards the village walked away, leaning his head on the shoulder of one of his people. As he went along, he not only sobbed and wept, but every now and then bellowed aloud. We had been nowise prepared for such a scene, and were extremely sorry for having pushed matters to this extremity. It had never occurred to us that the old Chief's head was really in danger; and even now we could not satisfy ourselves whether he was sincere, or merely acting in order to prevail on us to retire. The perfect tranquillity, nay even cheerfulness of the Courtier, who staid with us all this time, puzzled us extremely: nor could we account for the indifference of the other attendants, who looked on with as much composure as if such scenes were every day occurrences. But at all events, it was necessary before proceeding any further, that the old man should be pacified; and in order to effect this, we sat down on the beach, upon which he turned about and came crying back again. He seated himself by us, and waited very patiently whilst we remonstrated on the unreasonableness of his conduct, and contrasted the reception he had met with from us, with his present unaccountable behaviour. This was expressed by a dumb show acting of all that had taken place since we came to anchor in the bay; and these signs we thought might be intelligible to the Chief, because they were so to all of us, although no words were used. The signs used by different nations, however, are often dissimilar when the same thing is to be expressed: and it happened frequently with us that all attempts at explanation failed, on both sides, though the signs used appeared to be understood by all the people of the same nation with the person making the signs.
The old man made a long speech in reply; in the course which the beheading sign was frequently repeated. It is curious that he invariably held his hands towards his throat after he had gone through this motion, and appeared to wash his hands in his blood: probably he did this in imitation of some ceremony used at executions.
Upon one occasion the Chief endeavoured to explain something to us which had a reference to a period of two days; this he did by pointing to the sun, making a motion twice from east to west, and, at the end of each time, closing his eyes as if asleep. This sign was variously interpreted: some believed it to mean that in two days his head would be taken off: others imagined that in two days a communication might be made to his government, and that orders for our reception would be transmitted. Whatever might have been meant by this particular sign, it seems very probable that some general instructions were in force along the whole of this coast by which the treatment of strangers is regulated. The promptitude with which we were met at this place, where, perhaps, no ship ever was before, and the pertinacity with which our landing was opposed, seem to imply an extraordinary degree of vigilance and jealousy on the part of the government.
We expressed a desire to eat and drink, in the hopes of working on the old man's hospitality, and, perhaps, inducing him to entertain us in his house; but he made no motion towards the village, and merely sent off a servant for some water and a few small cockles. When this sorry fare was laid on the beach, the old gentleman made signs for us to begin; but we did not choose to be pleased either with the entertainment itself, or with the place and manner in which it had been served. We explained to him that the proper place to eat was in a house, and not on a wet dirty beach; he made no offer, however, of any other; but leaning his head pensively on his hands, seemed entirely resigned to his fate.
The case was now utterly hopeless; and after an ineffectual attempt to cheer him up, we went on board, as the last, and indeed only favour we could grant him. Thus we quitted this inhospitable shore, after a stay of not quite an hour, in which time we had never been twenty yards from our own boats. We saw the village, however, to some advantage; it is neatly built, and very pleasantly situated under fine trees, in a valley cultivated like a garden, in small square patches.
It was now determined to prosecute the voyage to the southward, and the Lyra was accordingly ordered to proceed as usual to sound the passages a-head of the frigate, but had not gone far before the Alceste, still at anchor, was observed to be surrounded with boats. In about an hour she weighed and stood to sea. Captain Maxwell had received another visit from the old Chief, whose appearance was described as being quite altered; his sprightliness and curiosity all gone, and his easy unceremonious manner exchanged for cold and stately civility: he looked embarrassed and unhappy, as it appeared, from an apprehension of having offended Captain Maxwell. When this was discovered, no pains were spared to convince him that, in this respect, there was not the slightest cause for uneasiness. He would not accept any presents, but appeared much relieved by the unexpected kindness with which he was received, and before he went away, was restored, in some degree, to his wonted spirits. When looking over the books in the cabin, he was a good deal taken with the appearance of a Bible, but when offered to him he declined it, though with such evident reluctance, that it was again shewn to him just as he was pushing off in his boat, and he now received it with every appearance of gratitude, and took his leave in a manner quite friendly.
We quitted this bay without much regret. The old Chief, indeed, with his flowing beard, and pompous array, and engaging manners, had made a strong impression upon us all; but his pitiable and childish distress, whatever might have been the cause, took away from the respect with which we were otherwise disposed to regard him: yet this circumstance, though it makes the picture less finished, serves to give it additional interest; whilst every thing ridiculous in the old man's character is lost in the painful uncertainty which hangs over his fate.
From this bay we steered amongst the islands, during all the 6th and 7th, to the S.W. before the natives were met with again; we saw them indeed, but never got near enough to converse with them. They were frequently observed seated in groups watching us on the islands which we passed. We saw several fishing-boats, with a crew of about a dozen men, crowded on a sort of poop. At a little distance these boats appeared to be formed of two vessels lashed together. This appearance we believe to be caused by their having an outrigger on one side, on which their oars, sails, and masts are piled, in order probably to keep the boat clear when they are at anchor fishing. Their mast is lowered down and hoisted up by means of a strong tackle from the mast-head to the stern, as in the barges on the Thames.
We threaded our way for upwards of a hundred miles amongst islands which lie in immense clusters in every direction. At first we thought of counting them, and even attempted to note their places on the charts which we were making of this coast, but their great number completely baffled these endeavours. They vary in size, from a few hundred yards in length to five or six miles, and are of all shapes. From the mast-head other groups were perceived lying one behind the other to the east and south as far as the eye could reach. Frequently above a hundred islands were in sight from deck at one moment. The sea being quite smooth, the weather fine, and many of the islands wooded and cultivated in the valleys, the scene was at all times lively, and was rendered still more interesting by our rapid passage along the coast, by which the appearances about us were perpetually changing. Of this coast we had no charts possessing the slightest pretensions to accuracy, none of the places at which we touched being laid down within sixty miles of their proper places. Only a few islands are noticed in any map; whereas the coast, for near two hundred miles, is completely studded with them, to the distance of fifteen or twenty leagues from the main land. These inaccuracies in the charts naturally gave a very high degree of interest to this part of the voyage; yet the navigation being at all times uncertain, and often dangerous, considerable anxiety necessarily mingled itself with the satisfaction produced by so new and splendid a scene. We always anchored during the night, or when the tides, which were very rapid, prevented our proceeding in the deliberate manner absolutely required by the nature of the circumstances. An instance of the necessity of these precautions occurred on the 7th of September, at four o'clock in the afternoon, when, it being quite calm, we were drifting along with the tide, which suddenly shifted and carried us rapidly towards a reef of rocks, which was invisible till the strong rippling of the water shewed us our danger: we let go the anchor immediately, but the jerk was so great, as to break the Lyra's cable. A second anchor, however, brought her up at a sufficient distance from the reef.
As soon as the tide slacked, a boat was dispatched to examine the anchorage on the other side of an island near us. The officer landed about sunset, and from the top of the island could discover a village on the other side, on the shores of a fine large bay. He afterwards sounded the anchorage, and found it of a convenient depth. On his way back he landed near the village, but though it was bright moonlight he saw none of the inhabitants.
8th of September.—About noon we weighed and sailed round the north end of the island, which had been visited last night. The Alceste anchored nearly in the middle between the two islands which form the anchorage; but as the Lyra draws less water, she was placed as close off the village as was safe, being then about a quarter of a mile from the beach. At this distance, by means of a telescope fixed on a table on the poop, we were enabled to see what was going on in the village, while the people were unconscious of being observed. Mr. Clifford, who was too unwell to land with Captain Maxwell and myself, placed himself at the glass, and made many observations which must otherwise have escaped notice.
At first the only inhabitants visible were seated on the top of the hill watching us, the village itself being quite deserted; but shortly after our anchoring, the inhabitants began to assemble from different parts of the island. Of these several were women, some of whom had children on their backs, and others carried them in their arms. They looked stout, were fairer in complexion than the men, and were dressed in a long white robe, loose and open in front, with a petticoat of the same colour reaching a little below the knees; their hair was tied in a large knot behind; a small piece of white cloth was thrown loosely over the head to protect them from the rays of the sun. Some women were engaged in husking rice in a mortar with a wooden beater; these had no dress above the waist. The men and boys were seen carrying loads on a wooden frame hooked to the shoulders.
In a square flat place near the village a number of women and children were employed winnowing corn by pouring it from a height, so that the husks blew away. Fishing-nets were spread to dry on most of the houses. We landed about five o'clock, and found in the village only two men, who obstinately remained at one place without speaking, and looking anxious that we should go away; they refused the buttons which we offered them, and resisted our persuasions to accompany us to the upper part of the village, which we were anxious they should do, to shew that we had no intention of hurting any thing, but merely to look about us. We went on alone, and on reaching a deserted house thought it a good opportunity to examine it. Before the door, on a neat clean level space, enclosed by a hedge covered with a sweet-scented white flower, we found several heaps of corn and straw, and several of the wooden mortars in which the rice is pounded, also a number of vessels, some filled with water and others with rice. Cooking utensils were lying about, and a number of fishing lines coiled neatly in baskets, and split fish spread out to dry on the top of little corn ricks on one side of the court. The inside was dark and uncomfortable; the mud floor was full of hollow places; the walls were black with soot, and every thing looked dirty. On the left of the entrance two large metal boilers, twenty inches deep, were sunk in the brickwork, the upper part being about a foot above the floor. The fire-place was between the boilers, and on the hot embers lay three split fish. On the wall opposite to the fire were shelves, having a number of cups, basons, and cooking utensils, principally of coarse stone ware, and some few of a sort of bell-metal. The number of inhabitants in one house must be considerable, if we can form an estimate from the quantity of their dishes and vessels. There were three neat small pieces of furniture on one of the shelves, the use of which we could not discover; they were made of wood, elegantly carved and varnished, with a round top about a foot in diameter, and four legs a foot and a half long. The roof was well constructed, the rafters being mortised into the ends of the horizontal beams, and tied to the middle by a perpendicular beam or King-Post. Over the rafters is laid a net-work of rods, to which the thatch is tied. There was no chimney to this house, and only one window made of slender bars of wood, forming square spaces three inches by two, covered by a thin semi-transparent paper defended by the roof, which extends so far beyond the wall as to shelter it not only from the rain but from the sun. Most of the houses had a sort of raised verandah under the eaves, about a foot or more above the ground, extending from the door on either hand to the end of the house; these places were neatly levelled, and must afford a cool seat. The walls of the houses are from six to eight feet high, and from fourteen to twenty feet long; the top of the roof being about fourteen. The walls are of stone and mud, the door moves on the bar, which forms one of its sides; this bar is prolonged, and works in holes in the beam above, and a stone below. There was a back door to the house which we examined. On opening this we found a bare bank of earth as high as the house, at the distance of three feet from the walls, and a hedge rising still higher on the top; this effectually excluded all light.
This minute survey of the house being completed, we returned to our friends, who seemed in some measure re-assured. We tried to prevail upon them to accompany us in our walk, in hopes that the rest of the cottagers might be induced to return when they saw how peaceably we were disposed. Captain Maxwell used every sign he could think of to no purpose, and tired at length of these attempts, took hold of the oldest man's hand, drew it through his arm, and walked off with him. I followed his example with the other; and this familiarity amused the natives, who now accompanied us in perfect good humour. The ease and apparent indifference with which they walked along with us was curious, and had so little of awkwardness in it, that one might have supposed it to be the fashion of Corea to walk arm in arm. Having reached the house which we had before examined, we sat down in the verandah, and made signs that we wished to smoke a pipe with them. In the meantime a boat was observed to come to the landing-place; the crew quitted her and came towards us at a rapid pace. The quick manner of these people, so different from the ordinary behaviour of the Coreans we had seen, made us apprehend that some violence was meditated; but in this we were mistaken, for they sat down with us, gave us their pipes to smoke, and laughed immoderately at some of our words: we took the hint from them, and laughed heartily whenever we observed that any thing good had been said amongst them; this was well received, and proved afterwards a good mode of introduction.
Their curiosity was strongly excited by our clothing, which they examined minutely; they wished to see some parts of our dress taken off, and in order to gratify them they were allowed to have our coats, shoes, stockings, hats, &c. They were more struck with the stockings than with any thing else, frequently shouting "Hota! Hota!" This word, which is pronounced with a strong aspiration, was noted down in our list as the Corean word for stockings; but it was found afterwards to be an expression of approbation, applied indiscriminately to whatever they consider remarkably good. After sitting some time with these people, and smoking several pipes with them, we gave up all hopes of seeing the villagers return while we were there, and as the night was falling we proposed taking a short walk with our friends, and then going on board. But as soon as they saw us go up the hill instead of returning to the boat, they became very uneasy, and wanted us to turn back. As we had reason, however, to conjecture that the women and children were on the other side of the hill, we went on in the expectation of getting a sight of them before dark. This the Coreans prevented by following us with shouts wherever we went, so as to give warning of our approach. The women and children probably retreated before us to a ravine on the north side of the island, for when we approached it the Coreans became more anxious than ever for our return; and one man seeing us still advance, took hold of my arm and gave it a sharp pinch. I turned round and exclaimed, "Patience, Sir!" He drew back on observing my displeasure, and a moment after called out himself, "Patience, Sir!" The others hearing this caught the words too, and nothing was heard for some time amongst them but "Patience, Sir," pronounced in every instance with perfect propriety. They seemed surprised themselves on discovering powers of imitation hitherto in all probability unexercised. This incident brought us better acquainted, and we remained on the top of the hill teaching them English words till it was dark. They were certainly entertained with our instructions, but nevertheless shewed much more satisfaction in attending us down hill again to our boats. Before going on board we invited them to come to the ship next day, which one of the party was supposed to comprehend: he first made preparations for going to bed, then closed his eyes, hung his head on his hand, and snored very properly; after a time he opened his eyes, started and looked about him, then laid his hands on Captain Maxwell's shoulders with an air of welcome. This was interpreted by some into a wish for our departure till the morning, and by others that he himself would visit us at daylight. As he never came on board, and received us on landing next day with any thing but welcome, probably both guesses were wrong: of one thing there was no doubt, his anxiety to get rid of us; and his signs may have meant that it was time for all honest people to be in bed.
9th of September.—At sunrise we landed at the same village, and found it deserted as before. We left it and made for the highest peak on the island, accompanied by a few of the Coreans, who did not interfere with us till about halfway up, when on our entering a grove of fir trees, with the appearance of which we had been struck, one of the Coreans objected; we went on, however, and upon reaching the stump of an old tree the Corean fell on his knees, bowed his head to the ground, and as he raised it again held his hands closed and pressed together towards the stump. This had very much the air of a stratagem to dissuade us from going further in that direction, where the women probably were concealed. Admitting this to have been the motive, it is curious that he should have supposed such a shew of religious form calculated to restrain us. It is further remarkable as being the only circumstance which we have seen on this coast implying a knowledge of religion or religious ceremony. There are here no temples, idols, nor tombs, whereas in China, villages much smaller than these of Corea have them in every corner. The other Coreans took no notice of the stump, and the man who was prostrating himself before it finding that his behaviour produced nothing but a number of questions from us concerning the nature of the tree, got on his legs and walked sulkily away. In the course of our walk we saw six bullocks of a small breed and very fat, but which the Coreans were not to be tempted to sell by any thing which we had to give them. Dogs were the only quadrupeds besides that we saw. There were pigeons, hawks, and eagles, but few small birds. Crows were as numerous here as in every other part of the world. We returned on board to breakfast, and afterwards set out on an excursion to the top of a high island lying some leagues to the south-east of us. On our way we landed, and observed the sun's meridian altitude with an artificial horizon, by which we ascertained the latitude to be 34 22' 39" north, the longitude by the mean of two chronometers is 126 2' 45" east.
We passed, for the distance of five miles, amongst islands, all, except the very smallest, inhabited. The villages are built in the valleys, where the houses are nearly hid by trees and hedges. The sides of the hills are cultivated with millet and a species of bean; and in the numerous small gardens near the villages, we saw a great variety of plants.
As the peaked island which we had undertaken to climb was steep, and covered with a long coarse grass, it cost us a tiresome scramble to gain the top, which is about six hundred feet above the level of the sea. The main land of Corea is just discernible in the north-east and east, from this elevation; but it commands a splendid view of the islands, lying in thick clusters, as far as the eye can reach, from north-west quite round by east to south. We endeavoured to count them. One person, by reckoning only such as were obviously separate islands, made their number one hundred and twenty. Two other gentlemen, by estimating the numbers in each connected cluster, made severally, one hundred and thirty-six, and one hundred and seventy; a difference, which at once shews the difficulty of speaking with precision on this subject. But when it is considered, that from one spot, which though considerably elevated, was not centrical, one hundred and twenty islands could be counted, and that our course for upwards of one hundred miles had been amongst islands no less crowded than these, some idea may be formed of this great Archipelago.
After enjoying this scene for some time, we went down on the other side of the peak, which is much less steep. We found the boat's crew preparing dinner for us, under some trees, close to a well of cool water. The village to which the well belonged not being many yards off, we proceeded to explore it, and found it deserted by all except an old woman and a man. The woman, seated on a pile of stones, in the middle of the village, took no notice of us as we passed; and indeed, she was herself so very homely, as to occupy but little of our attention. The man was seated at the door of a cottage, making a straw sandal: on our entering his inclosure, he looked up for an instant, and immediately resumed his work, with as much composure as if we had been a party of the villagers. A button was offered to him, which he accepted without scruple: he agreed, with equal readiness, to exchange his unfinished sandal for another button, which having carelessly put away, in a bag lying near him, he took some straw and re-commenced his business, without seeming to notice that we were rummaging his house. He is the only Corean we have met with, who has not shewn some slight symptoms of curiosity: indeed, he seemed totally indifferent about our staying or going, or about what we were doing in his house; and we left him without knowing whether to ascribe his apathy to fear, or to absolute stupidity.
On returning from the village, we saw a party of the natives assembled on a rising ground near us; they were invited, by signs, to join us at dinner, but they kept their places unmoved. While we were at dinner, the sailors, who had been rambling about, joined the natives, and in a few minutes became very good friends with them; the natives giving up their pipes, and the sailors in return supplying them with tobacco. We have frequently remarked during this voyage, that the sailors make acquaintance with the natives much sooner than the officers. This seems the natural effect of the difference in our manners. On meeting with natives, we feel so anxious to conciliate, and to avoid giving offence, that our behaviour, thus guarded and circumspect, has an air of restraint about it, which may produce distrust and apprehension on their part; whilst, on the other hand, Jack, who is not only unreflecting and inoffensive himself, but never suspects that others can possibly misconstrue his perfect good-will and unaffected frankness, has an easy, disengaged manner, which at once invites confidence and familiarity.
In about an hour after we had sat down, one of the natives hastily rose, and without appearing to deliberate, but as if actuated by a sudden impulse, strode rapidly down to us, and in the most unceremonious way possible, presented his lighted pipe for us to smoke. We received him as kindly as we could, and prevailed upon him to take a glass of wine; which he had no sooner drank off, than he roared out, "Hota! Hota!"
This exclamation brought the rest down, who seating themselves by us, drank freely, and became very cheerful and communicative, telling us the Corean names of every thing we pointed to, and asking, in return, the English names for our clothes. But though the wine made these people far more sociable than any we had yet seen, they never forgot the principal object of their thoughts, and suggested, every now and then, by pointing to our boats, the propriety of our going away. After sunset, they became very impatient and uneasy at our stay; but when at length we yielded to their entreaties, the whole party accompanied us to the water's side, and took leave with the most lively marks of satisfaction at our departure.
10th of September.—This morning, about ten o'clock, we got under weigh, and stood to the southward. By sunset we were clear of all the islands, and could just distinguish the island of Quelpaert in the south-east quarter.
The shortness of our stay on this coast, and the difficulty we experienced in communicating with the inhabitants, will account for the scanty and disjointed nature of the information obtained. A future voyager would do well to be accompanied by a person who can write the Chinese character, and should have full leisure to overcome, by patient management, the distrust of strangers evinced by this unsociable people.
A chart of our track along this coast is subjoined to this work, in the hope that it may prove useful to a future voyager. As it was constructed under circumstances of great haste, it is necessarily incomplete; yet it will probably be found more accurate than any maps or charts hitherto published.
[Footnote 1: A servant of the embassy, left behind by accident at the Pei-ho river.]
[Footnote 2: We found the north-east end composed of a fine-grained granite; the middle of the island of a brittle micaceous schistus of a deep blue colour; the strata are nearly horizontal, but dip a little to the S.W. This body of strata is cut across by a granite dyke, at some places forty feet wide, at others not above ten; the strata in the vicinity of the dyke are broken and bent in a remarkable manner; this dislocation and contortion does not extend far from the walls of the dyke, but veins of granite branch out from it to a great distance, varying in width from three feet to the hundredth part of an inch: the dyke is visible from the top of the cliff to the water's edge, but does not re-appear on the corresponding cliff of an island opposite to it, though distant only thirty yards. This island is composed of the same schistus, and is cut in a vertical direction by a whin dyke, four feet wide, the planes of whose sides lie N.E. and S.W., being at right angles to those of the great granite dyke in the neighbourhood, which run S.E. and N.W. The strata contiguous to the whin dyke are a good deal twisted and broken, but not in the same degree as at their contact with the granite dyke.
The whin dyke is formed of five layers or sets of prisms laid across in the usual way. Beyond the small island cut by the whin dyke, at the distance of only forty or fifty feet, we came to an island rising abruptly out of the sea, and presenting a high rugged cliff of breccia, fronting that on which the granite dyke is so conspicuous: the junction of this rock with the schistus cut by the granite and the whin would have been interesting; but although we must have been at times within a few yards of it, the actual contact was every where hid by the sea.
The whole of the S.W. end of this island is formed of breccia, being an assemblage of angular and water-worn pieces of schistus, quartz, and some other rocks, the whole having the appearance of a great shingle beach. The fragments of the schistus in this rock are similar to that which forms the cliff first spoken of.
The theory which presented itself to us on the spot was, that the great mass of strata which forms the centre of the island was formerly at the bottom of the ocean; and that the western part, which is now a firm breccia, had been a beach shingle produced by the action of the waves on the strata: the granite which forms the eastern end of the island had been forced into its present situation from beneath the strata, with sufficient violence to dislocate and contort the beds nearest to it, and to inject the liquid granite into the rents formed by the heaving action of the strata as they were raised up. It is natural to suppose that the ragged edges of the strata forming the sides of these cracks would be subjected to a grinding action, from which the strata more remote might be exempted; and in this way we may account for the extraordinary twisting, and separation of masses along the whole course of the granite dyke. In the dyke, as well as in the veins which branch from it, there are numerous islands of schistus. That this last was softened, seems to follow from the frequent instances which occur of its being bent back upon itself without producing cracks. The same heat, propagated by the melted granite in the neighbourhood, may also be supposed to have reduced the shingle beach to a state of semifusion by the aid of some flux contained in the sand scattered amongst it. We could not discover any circumstance by which the relative antiquity of the two dykes mentioned above, could be ascertained.]
[Footnote 3: Note on the peculiar character of the written language in that quarter of the globe.
In China, Japan, Corea, and the islands in the adjacent seas, the spoken languages are different from one another; the written language, on the contrary, is the same in all. Thus a native of China is unintelligible to a Corean or Japanese, while he is speaking, but they mutually understand one another when their thoughts are expressed in writing. The cause of this may be thus explained. We in Europe form an idea in the mind, and this we express by certain sounds, which differ in different countries; these sounds are committed to writing by means of the letters of the alphabet, which are only symbols of sounds, and, consequently, a writing in Europe is unintelligible to every one who is ignorant of the spoken language in which it happens to be written. The Chinese and the other natives in these seas have, on the contrary, no alphabet; no symbols of sounds; their ideas are committed to writing at once without the intervention of sound, and their characters may therefore be called symbols of ideas. Now, as the same characters are adopted in all these countries to express the same ideas, it is clear that their writings will be perfectly intelligible to each other, although their spoken languages may be quite incomprehensible.
The case of the Roman numerals in Europe furnishes a ready illustration of this symbolical language. There is nothing in the symbols 1, 2, 3, &c. by which their pronunciation can be ascertained when presented to the eye, yet they communicate meaning independent of sound, and are respectively intelligible to the inhabitants of the different countries of Europe; while, at the same time, the sounds by which a native of one country distinguishes the written symbols 1, 2, 3, &c. are unintelligible to all the rest.
The knowledge of writing is supposed to be very generally diffused over the countries using what is called the Chinese character, and, as probably none but the lowest vulgar are ignorant of it, the surprise of these people on discovering our inability to read their papers is very natural. The case, we may imagine, had never occurred to them before, and it was highly interesting to watch the effect which so novel an incident produced. At first they appeared to doubt the fact of our ignorance, and shewed some symptoms of impatience; but this opinion did not last long, and they remained completely puzzled, looking at each other with an odd expression of surprise.]
[Footnote 4: This paper, presented by the Corean Chief, has been translated by Mr. Morrison at Canton, and is as follows: "Persons, of what land—of what nation (are you)? On account of what business do you come hither? In the ship are there any literary men who thoroughly understand, and can explain what is written?"]
[Footnote 5: See note at the end of the Loo-choo vocabulary.]
Enter the Japan Sea—Sulphur Island—Volcano—See the Great Loo-Choo Island—Lyra nearly wrecked—First Interview with the Natives—Anchor at Napakiang—Natives crowd on Board—Their interesting Appearance and Manners—Several Chiefs visit the Alceste—Land to make Observations—Astonishment of the Natives—Six Chiefs visit the Ships—Alceste and Lyra proceed farther in Shore—A Chief of high Rank waits upon Captain Maxwell—Return his Visit—Feast—Projected Survey of the Anchorage—Visit Reef Island—The Lyra sent to look for another Harbour—Arrangements for landing the Alceste's Stores—Description of the Temple and Garden—First Acquaintance with Madera—Study of the Language.
After leaving Corea, we stood to the southward and eastward, with a strong breeze from the north, and a mountainous swell from the north-east. Shortly after daybreak on the 13th of September, we saw Sulphur Island, in the south-west quarter, and by eleven in the forenoon were close up to it. We intended to land, but were prevented by the high wind, which caused so great a surf all round the island, as to render this impracticable. The sulphuric volcano from which the island takes its name is on the north-west side; it emits white smoke, and the smell of sulphur is very strong on the lee side of the crater. The cliffs near the volcano are of a pale yellow colour, interspersed with brown streaks: the ground at this place is very rugged, as the strata lie in all directions, and are much broken; on the top is a thin coat of brown grass. The south end of the island is of considerable height, of a deep blood red colour, with here and there a spot of bright green: the strata, which are here nearly horizontal, are cut by a whin dyke running from the top to the bottom of the cliff, projecting from its face like a wall. As the weather still looked threatening, we gave up the intention of examining this spot, and proceeded to the southward till four o'clock, at which time land was seen in the south-west quarter; but as there was not sufficient daylight to close with it, we hauled off to the westward for the night. Shortly after sunset the sky became overcast, the wind veered about from one point to another, the air became suddenly quite chill, the sea rose high, and every thing, in short, seemed to indicate an approaching tyfoong or hurricane. All our preparations were made to encounter a violent tempest; but we were much pleased at finding it turn out nothing more than an ordinary gale of wind.