Captain Cook, his Life, Voyages and Discoveries, by W.H.G. Kingston.
This book is not a series of fictitious adventures of the great Captain Cook, the eighteenth century navigator and explorer, but a straightforward statement of his life and achievements. It is therefore more of a biography than an adventure book for boys. However, the man was so great that his biography can indeed be read as a well-written book of adventures.
CAPTAIN COOK, HIS LIFE, VOYAGES AND DISCOVERIES, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.
CAPTAIN COOK—HIS LIFE, VOYAGES, AND DISCOVERIES.
Among all those Englishmen who, from a humble origin, have risen to an honourable position, Captain James Cook is especially worthy of record. His parents were of the peasant class—his father having commenced life as a farm-labourer, and his mother being a cottager's daughter. Probably, however, they were both superior to others of the same station, as the husband, in process of time, became farm-bailiff to his employer—a Mr Thomas Skottowe. This was about the year 1730, and the farm of which he had the management was called Airy-Holme, near Ayton, in Yorkshire. Not far from this place, at the village of Marton, near Stockton-upon-Tees; his son James was born, on October 27, 1728. James was one of nine children, all of whom he survived, with the exception of a sister who married a fisherman at Redcar.
The father of this family spent the latter years of his life with his daughter at Redcar, and was supposed to have been about eighty-five years old at the time of his death; so that he must have had the satisfaction of seeing his son rising in his profession, though probably he little thought of that son as establishing a fame which would be handed down in history.
James Cook does not appear to have enjoyed any peculiar educational advantages, but owed his subsequent advancement chiefly to his own intelligence, perseverance, and diligence. He first went to a village school, and was afterwards sent, at the expense of Mr Skottowe, to an ordinary commercial school, kept by a Mr Pullen. He continued there four years, and was then apprenticed to Mr William Sanderson, a grocer and haberdasher at the fishing town of Straiths, ten miles from Whitby. It may be supposed that the occupation in which he was engaged was not suited to his taste. The sea was constantly before his eyes, and the desire to seek his fortune on it sprang up within him, and grew stronger and stronger, till in about a year after he went to Straiths he obtained a release from his engagement with Mr Sanderson, and apprenticed himself to Messrs. Walker and Company, shipowners of Whitby. He went to sea for the first time when he was about eighteen, on board one of their vessels—the Truelove collier, [Note 1] of four hundred and fifty tons burden, trading between Newcastle and London. The lad soon showed that he was well fitted for his new profession, and in 1748, not two years after he had commenced it, we find him especially directed to assist in fitting for sea the Three Brothers, a new ship of six hundred tons. While he served on board this ship she was hired by Government as a transport; and on her being paid off she was employed in the Norway trade.
After making several voyages in the Three Brothers up the Baltic, young Cook was promoted to the rank of mate on board the Friendship. He had by this time gained the goodwill of his employers; and had made several other friends on shore, who, before long, were enabled to render him essential service. He was now known as a thorough seamen; indeed, from the moment he went on board ship, he had steadily applied his mind to acquiring a knowledge of his profession. Still he served on as mate of the Friendship till the breaking out of the war between England and France in 1756, when he made up his mind to push his fortunes in the Royal Navy. He knew that at all events there was a great probability of his being pressed into the service, and he had good reason to hope that he might be placed ere long on the quarter-deck, since many young men at that time had been who went to sea, as he had done, before the mast. He accordingly volunteered, and entered as an able seaman on board the Eagle, of sixty guns, then commanded by Captain Hamer, but shortly afterwards by Captain Palliser, who became the well-known Sir Hugh Palliser—Cook's warm and constant friend.
As soon as the young sailor's Yorkshire friends heard that he had entered on board a man-of-war, they exerted themselves on his behalf, and a letter of introduction was procured from Mr Osbaldeston, Member for the county, to his captain, who, having already remarked the intelligence and assiduity Cook exhibited in all his professional duties, was the more ready to give him a helping hand.
Considering how best he could assist the young man, who had served too short a time in the Navy to obtain a commission, Captain Palliser advised that a master's warrant should be procured for him—this being a position for which, both from age and experience, he was well fitted. [Note 2.] This was done; and on May 10, 1759, James Cook was appointed to the Grampus, sloop of war, and was now in a fair way of gaining the object of his ambition. He had, however, to undergo a trial of patience at the first outset of his career; for the former master returning, his appointment was cancelled. His friends were not idle, and four days after this he was made master of the Garland; but on going to join her he found that she had already sailed for her destination. On the following day, May 15, he was appointed to the Mercury, on the point of sailing for the North American station to join the fleet under Sir Charles Saunders, which, in conjunction with the army under General Wolfe, was engaged in the siege of Quebec. The termination of that contest gained for Great Britain one of her finest provinces. To this success Cook contributed in his particular department; and it is remarkable that he should have been in various ways instrumental in giving to his country the three finest provinces she possesses—Canada, the Australian settlements, and New Zealand.
James Cook was now about thirty-two years of age, and although the position in life he had filled for the previous twelve years was not one (especially in those days) conducive to refinement of manners, he appears from the first to have conducted himself with propriety and credit. He had already shown his superiority as a seaman. He was now to exhibit his talents in the more scientific part of his profession, in which officers in the Navy were in those days greatly deficient.
It was necessary to take the soundings in the channel of the Saint Lawrence, between the Isle of Orleans and the north shore, directly in front of the French fortified camp of Montmorency and Beauport, in order to enable the admiral to place his ships so as to oppose the enemy's batteries, and to cover the projected landing of the British army under Wolfe, and a general attack on their camp. Captain Palliser, who now commanded the Shrewsbury, a seventy-four gun ship, recommended Cook for this difficult and dangerous service. He was engaged on it for many consecutive nights, it being a work which could not be performed in the daytime. At length his proceedings were discovered by the French, who laid a plan to catch him. They concealed in a wood near the water a number of Indians with their canoes. As the Mercury's barge, in which Cook was making the survey, passed, the canoes darted out on him and gave chase. His only chance of escape was to run for it. He pushed for the Isle of Orleans with a whole host of yelling savages paddling at full speed after him. On they came, every moment gaining on his boat. The English hospital, where there was a guard, was before him; towards this he steered, the bows of the Indian canoes almost touching the barge's stern; a few strokes more, and the Indians would have grappled him. He sprang from his seat over the bow of his boat, followed by his crew, just as the enemy leaped in overwhelming numbers over the quarters. They carried off the barge in triumph, but Cook and his comrades escaped; and he succeeded, in spite of all difficulties, in furnishing the admiral with a correct and complete draft of the channel and soundings. This was the more extraordinary, as Sir Hugh Palliser afterwards expressed his belief that before this time Cook had scarcely ever used a pencil, and knew nothing of drawing; and it is one of many proofs that the ardent seaman not only threw his soul into the duties of his profession, but that this determination enabled him quickly to master every subject to which he applied his mind.
While his ship remained in the Saint Lawrence, Cook, at the desire of the admiral, made an accurate survey of the more difficult parts of that river below Quebec. So complete and perfect was the chart which he executed, and which, with his sailing directions, was afterwards published, that until a late period no other was thought necessary. So little were the English acquainted with the navigation of the river before this, that when, early in the season, the fleet under Rear-Admiral Darell arrived at its mouth, some difficulty was expected in getting up it. Fortunately, when off the island of Caudec, the inhabitants, mistaking the English ships for their own fleet, sent off their best pilots. These were of course detained, and proved of great use in taking the English fleet up the river.
After the conquest of Canada had been accomplished, Admiral Saunders despatched the larger ships to England, following himself in the Somerset, and leaving the command of the fleet in North America to Captain Lord Colvill, who had his commodore's flag flying on board the Northumberland. To this ship Cook was appointed as master, by warrant from his lordship, on September 22, 1739. The squadron wintered at Halifax. Cook employed the leisure which the winter afforded him in acquiring that knowledge which especially fitted him for the service in which he was thereafter to be engaged. At Halifax he first read Euclid, and began to study astronomy and other branches of science, in which, considering the few books to which he had access, and the want of assistance from others, he made wonderful progress. In the following year, 1760, a lieutenant's commission was presented to him as a reward for his services.
In 1762 the Northumberland was engaged in the recapture of Newfoundland. The activity which Cook displayed in surveying its harbour and heights attracted the attention of Captain Graves, the acting governor, and commander of the Antelope. Captain Graves, on becoming farther acquainted with Cook, formed a high opinion of his abilities, while he admired the energy and perseverance he exhibited in surveying the neighbouring coasts and harbours.
At the end of the year Cook went to England, and on December 21 he married, at Barking, in Essex, Miss Elizabeth Batts, a young lady of respectable family, to whom he had some time before been engaged. As she died in 1835, at the age of ninety-three, she must at the time of her marriage have been twenty years old. Her husband was tenderly attached to her, but his married life, like that of most sailors, had long and frequent interruptions. She bore him six children, three of whom died in their infancy.
Soon after Cook's marriage, peace with France and Spain was concluded. On this Captain Graves was again appointed Governor of Newfoundland. As the island was of great importance to England, he obtained from the Government, with some difficulty, an establishment for the survey of its coasts, and offered the direction of it to Cook, who, notwithstanding his recent marriage, accepted the offer. In the following year, 1764, Sir Hugh Palliser being appointed Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, Cook was made Marine Surveyor of the Province, the Grenville schooner being placed under his command. The charts made by Cook enlightened the Government as to the value of Newfoundland, and induced them, when drawing up articles of peace with France, to insist on arrangements which secured to Great Britain the advantages which its coasts afford. Not content, however, with merely surveying the shore, Cook penetrated into the interior of the country, and discovered several lakes hitherto unknown.
On August 5 an eclipse of the sun occurred, an observation of which was taken by Cook from one of the Burgeo Islands, near the south-west end of Newfoundland. The paper that he wrote on it was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. This fact alone proves that he must already have become a good mathematician and astronomer. The last time he went to Newfoundland as marine surveyor was in 1767.
We have now briefly traced the career of James Cook from his childhood to the period when he had established his character as an able seaman, a scientific navigator, and a good officer. He was soon to have an opportunity of proving to his country and to the world in general the very high degree in which he possessed these qualities, and which enabled him to accomplish an undertaking which has proved of inestimable benefit to millions of the human race. By his means, discovery was made of fertile lands of vast extent, previously trodden only by the feet of wandering savages; and numberless tribes, sunk in the grossest idolatry and human degradation, were made known to the Christian world. And Christians, roused at length to a sense of their responsibility, began to devise means, under the blessing of God, for teaching these, their ignorant brethren of the human family, the knowledge of the only true God, and the way of eternal life.
Note 1. In the biographies of Cook the name of the vessel in which he first went to sea is given as the Freelove—evidently a misprint. I have never known a vessel of that name, whereas the Truelove is a favourite name.
Note 2. Masters in the Navy were in those days appointed by warrant, and were very generally taken direct from the merchant service without going through any preparatory grade, as at present. They are now also commissioned officers, and on retiring receive commanders' rank.
FIRST VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY. AUGUST 1768 TO JULY 1771.
In the year 1763, on the restoration of peace, the desire to explore unknown seas and to discover new countries revived among the English, and was warmly encouraged by King George the Third. Two expeditions were at once fitted out to circumnavigate the globe—one under Lord Byron, and the other under Captains Wallis and Carteret; the former commanding the Dolphin, in which Lord Byron had just returned, the latter the Swallow. As, however, Captains Wallis and Carteret accidentally parted company at an early period of their voyage, and kept different routes, they are generally considered as having led two separate expeditions.
Before the return of these ships, another expedition was determined on, the immediate object of which was to observe a transit of Venus which it had been calculated by astronomers would occur in 1769. It was believed that one of the Marquesas, or one of the Friendly Islands, called, by Tasman, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Middleburg, would be an advantageous spot for making the proposed observation.
The King was memorialised by the Royal Society, and through his Majesty's intervention the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty undertook to furnish a suitable vessel and crew to convey the astronomers and other scientific persons who might be selected to carry out the proposed objects. The Royal Society had fixed on Mr Alexander Dalrymple to take the direction of the expedition; but as he was not in the Royal Navy, Sir Edward Hawke, then at the head of the Admiralty, would not hear of his being appointed. Mr Dalrymple, on the other hand, would not consent to go unless he received a brevet commission as captain. It was necessary, therefore, to find some one else, and Mr Stephens, the Secretary of the Admiralty, a warm supporter of the expedition, mentioned Cook to the Board, and suggested that Sir Hugh Palliser's opinion should be asked respecting him. This, as may be supposed, was in every respect favourable; and consequently Lieutenant Cook was directed to hold himself in readiness to take command of the proposed expedition. Sir Hugh Palliser was requested to select a fit ship for the purpose, and with Cook's assistance he fixed on a barque of three hundred and seventy tons, to which the name of the Endeavour was given. She mounted ten carriage and ten swivel guns; her crew, besides the commander, consisted of eighty-four persons, and she was provisioned for eighteen months.
The well-known Sir Joseph Banks, then Mr Banks, one of the chief promoters of the expedition, volunteered to accompany it. On leaving Oxford he had visited the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, to obtain information on scientific subjects. Although he suffered no small amount of hardship on that occasion, he returned home with unabated zeal in the cause he had adopted, and ready again to leave all the advantages which his position afforded him, for the discomfort and dangers of a long voyage in unknown seas. Mr Banks was, however, more than a philosopher—he was a large-hearted philanthropist, and he was animated with the hope of diffusing some of the advantages of civilisation and Christianity among the people who might be discovered. He engaged, as naturalist to the expedition, the services of Dr Solander, a Swede by birth, educated under Linnaeus, from whom he had brought letters of introduction to England. Mr Banks also, at his own charge, took out a secretary and two artists—one to make drawings from subjects of natural history, the other to take sketches of scenery and the portraits of the natives who might be met with. He had likewise four personal attendants, two of whom were negroes.
The Government, on its part, appointed Mr Charles Green, who had long been assistant to Dr Bradley at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, to assist Lieutenant Cook in the astronomical department of the expedition; and in every respect the persons engaged in this celebrated expedition were well fitted to attain the objects contemplated.
While these preparations were going forward, Captain Wallis returned from his voyage round the world. He expressed his opinion that a harbour in an island he had discovered, and called King George's Island, since well-known as Otaheite or Tahiti, was a fit spot for observing the transit of Venus. That island was accordingly to be the first destination of the Endeavour. After having accomplished the primary object of the voyage, the commander was directed to proceed in making discoveries through the wide extent of the Great Southern Ocean.
Lieutenant Cook received his commission as commander of the Endeavour (which was then in the basin in Deptford Yard) on May 25, 1768. On the 27th he went on board, and immediately began fitting her for sea. The work in dockyards was not executed so rapidly in those days as it is now, and it was upwards of two months before the vessel was ready. On July 30 she dropped down the river; but it was not till August 15 that she reached Plymouth. On Friday, August 26, the wind becoming fair, the Endeavour finally put to sea, and commenced the first of one of the most memorable series of voyages which have ever been performed by a single vessel. Next to Commander Cook in authority in the Endeavour were her two lieutenants—Zachary Hicks and John Gore; her senior mate was Charles Clerke, who accompanied Cook in each of his subsequent voyages, and succeeded to the command of the third expedition on the death of his beloved captain. He had previously served as midshipman under Lord Byron in his first voyage round the world.
A long sea voyage is almost always felt to be extremely tedious and dull to landsmen; but every change in the atmosphere, the varied appearance presented by the sea, the numberless creatures found in it, the birds which hovered about the ship or pitched on the rigging, all afforded matter of interest to the enlightened persons on board the Endeavour.
At Madeira the naturalists of the expedition set to work collecting specimens. The social condition of the people has probably altered little since those days, though the monasteries, which then existed, have long since been abolished. The nuns of the convent of Santa Clara especially amused Mr Banks and his companions by the simplicity of the questions they put on hearing that they were philosophers. Among others, they requested them to ascertain by their art whether a spring of pure water existed within the walls of their convent, and also when the next thunderstorm would occur.
On leaving Madeira the course was shaped for Rio de Janeiro, which was reached on November 13. The voyagers were not treated by the viceroy with the courtesy which might have been expected. The object of the voyage was utterly beyond the comprehension of that functionary, who could form no other conception of the matter than that it had something to do with the passing of the North Star through the South Pole. This ignorance and suspicion caused the voyagers a great deal of annoyance during the whole of their stay; though the viceroy could not refuse them water and other necessaries. When, at length, these were procured, and the Endeavour was going out of the harbour, she was fired at from the forts of Santa Cruz. Cook immediately sent on shore to demand the cause of this act. The excuse offered by the commandant of the port was that he had received no orders from the viceroy to allow the ship to pass. It appeared that the letter had been written, but that through neglect it had not been forwarded. Through the whole of the contest with the viceroy, Cook behaved with equal spirit and discretion. Among the remarks which Cook makes in his journal on Brazil, is one on the fearful expense of life at which the royal gold mines in that country were worked. No less than forty thousand negroes were annually imported to labour in the royal mines. In the year 1766, through an epidemic, the number required falling short, twenty thousand more were drafted from the town of Rio. A very similar account may be given of the silver and other mines on the other side of the continent; while the treacherous system which was organised to supply the demand for labour from among the inhabitants of the Pacific Islands must be looked on with even greater horror and indignation than that which existed for supplying Brazil with slave labour. So strictly were the Brazilian gold mines guarded, that no stranger was allowed to visit them, and any person found on the roads leading to them was immediately hanged by the guards stationed there. Altogether Cook formed a very unfavourable opinion of the inhabitants of Brazil, though few parts of the tropics surpass it in beauty of climate, fertility of soil, and power of production.
After a stay of three weeks in the harbour of Rio, the Endeavour put to sea on December 7, and stood down the coast of South America. On approaching the latitudes of the Falkland Islands, the crew, complaining of cold, received what was called a Magellanic jacket, and a pair of trousers made of a thick woollen stuff called Fearnought. Instead of going through the Straits of Magellan, as was the custom in those times, the Endeavour was steered from the Strait of Le Maire between Helen Island and Tierra del Fuego. On her anchoring in the Bay of Good Success, several of the party went on shore. Thirty or forty Indians soon made their appearance, but, distrustful of the strangers, quickly retreated to a distance. On this, Mr Banks and Dr Solander advanced, when two of the Indians approached them and sat down. As the Englishmen drew near, the savages rose and each threw away from him a stick which he had in his hand, returning immediately to their companions and making signs to the white men to follow. This they did, and friendly relations were at once established between the two parties. Three of them were induced to go on board, and were chiefly remarkable for the entire want of interest with which they regarded all the novelties by which they were surrounded. One of them, who was conjectured to be a priest, did little else than shout all the time he was on board. He was supposed, by this, to be engaged in the performance of some heathenish incantation. When these three men were landed, their fellow-savages showed great eagerness to learn what they had seen in the strange big canoe, as they would probably have termed the English ship.
On December 16, Mr Banks and Dr Solander, with Mr Green, Mr Monkhouse the surgeon, and several attendants, landed, with the intention of ascending a mountain seen in the distance, and penetrating as far as they could into the country. The atmosphere when they set out was like that of a warm spring day in England. It being the middle of summer, the day was one of the longest in the year. Nothing could have been more favourable for their expedition. They had gone through a wood, and were about to pass over what at a distance they had taken to be a plain, but which proved to be a swamp covered thickly with tangled bushes three feet high. Still they pushed across it, and reached the mountain, on which Mr Banks and Dr Solander commenced collecting specimens. Most of the party were greatly fatigued, and Mr Buchan, the draughtsman, was seized with a fit. He was therefore left with some of the party while the rest went forward. The weather, however, changed— the cold became intense, and snow fell very thickly. Dr Solander had warned his companions not to give way to the sensation of sleepiness which intense cold produces, yet he was one of the first to propose to lie down and rest. Mr Banks, however, not without the greatest difficulty, urged him on, but the two black servants lay down and were frozen to death, and a seaman who remained with them nearly shared the same fate. The survivors collected together at night, but their provisions were exhausted; one or two were very ill, and they were a long day's journey from the ship. There appeared, indeed, a great probability that the chief objects of the voyage would be frustrated by the death of the principal scientific persons engaged in it. After a night of great anxiety, a vulture they had shot being their only food, the snow partially cleared off, and they made their way to the beach, which was not so far distant as they had supposed.
After this disastrous adventure the party again went on shore, and found a tribe of savages, numbering fifty persons, living in a collection of conical huts, rudely formed of boughs, and open on the lee side. The people, who are stout and clumsily formed, had their faces painted, and were very imperfectly covered with seal-skins. Their chief article of clothing, indeed, was a small cloak which they wore on the side on which the wind comes when walking or sitting. They lived chiefly on shell-fish, and in search of them wandered from place to place. They were considered as among the most dull and stupid of the human race. No wonder, indeed, considering the few objects on which their minds could be expanded. A farther acquaintance with these tribes has shown that they have minds as capable of receiving good impressions as other human beings, and that they are not destitute of a considerable amount of intelligence.
The Endeavour took her departure from Cape Horn on January 26, 1769. She ran for seven hundred leagues without land being seen. After that she passed several coral islands, the appearance of which is now familiar to most people, but in those days was but little-known. To three of them the names of Lagoon Island, Bow Island, and Chain Island were given; several of them were inhabited.
On April 11 she sighted Otaheite, [now known as Tahiti] called King George's Island by Captain Wallis, which appeared high and mountainous, and on the 13th came to an anchor in Matavai Bay. As she approached the land numerous canoes came off, their crews carrying young plantains and other green branches as a sign of friendship. Several of the boughs were handed on board, and it was intimated that they should be placed in different parts of the ship to show that the voyagers also wished for peace. The natives exhibited great satisfaction on this being done. They gladly exchanged cocoanuts, fruit resembling apples, bread-fruit, and small fish, for beads and other trifles. They had a pig, which they would not part with for anything but a hatchet; this Cook would not allow to be given, considering that if a hatchet was given them it would be considered from that time forward to be the proper price of a pig.
The bread-fruit, with which the voyagers now first became acquainted, grows on a tree about the height of an ordinary oak. Its leaves are about a foot and a half long, of an oblong shape, deeply sinuated like those of the fig-tree, which they resemble in consistency and colour; they also, on being broken, exude a white, milky juice. The fruit is about the size and shape of a child's head, and the surface is reticulated. It is covered with a thin skin, and has an oblong core four inches long. The eatable part, which lies between the skin and the core, is as white as snow, and of the consistency of new bread. It must be roasted before it is eaten, being first divided into three or four parts. Its taste is insipid, with a slight sweetness somewhat resembling the crumb of wheaten bread mixed with a Jerusalem artichoke.
The first person who came off was Owhaw. He was well-known to Mr Gore, and to others who had been there with Captain Wallis. It was hoped that he would prove useful, and he was therefore taken on board and every attention shown him. Captain Cook at once issued a set of rules to govern the ship's company in all their intercourse with the natives. They were as follows:—
"1. To endeavour by every fair means to cultivate a friendship with the natives; and to treat them with all imaginable humanity.
"2. A proper person or persons will be appointed to trade with the natives for all manner of provisions, fruit, and other productions of the earth; and no officer or seaman, or other person belonging to the ship, excepting such as are so appointed, shall trade or offer to trade for any sort of provision, fruit, or other productions of the earth, unless they have leave so to do.
"3. Every person employed on shore, on any duty whatsoever, is strictly to attend to the same; and if by any neglect he loses any of his arms or working tools, or suffers them to be stolen, the full value thereof will be charged against his pay, according to the custom of the Navy in such cases; and he shall receive such further punishment as the nature of the case may deserve.
"4. The same penalty will be inflicted on every person who is found to embezzle, trade, or offer to trade with any part of the ship's stores of what nature soever.
"5. No sort of iron, or anything that is made of iron, or any sort of cloth, or other useful or necessary articles are to be given in exchange for anything but provisions."
Though there can be no doubt as to Captain Cook's own feelings and wishes, his subordinates did not always act in accordance with them; and his judicious and benevolent designs with regard to the natives were thus frequently frustrated. As soon as the ship was secured, he, with Mr Banks, Dr Solander, and a party of men under arms, went on shore, where they were received by hundreds of the natives, whose countenances exhibited their friendly feelings. At first, however, the simple people were so struck with awe that they approached their visitors crouching down almost on their hands and feet, while they carried in their hands the green boughs as emblems of peace. The leader presented Captain Cook with a bough, which he and his companions received with looks and gestures of kindness and satisfaction. Each of the Englishmen also immediately gathered a bough, and carried it in the same way the natives did theirs. The party then proceeded about a mile and a half towards the place where Captain Wallis' ship, the Dolphin, had watered. Here a halt was called, and the natives having cleared away all the plants that grew on the ground, the principal persons among them threw their green branches on the bare spot, and made signs that their visitors should do the same. Captain Cook at once yielded to this request. The marines being drawn up, each as he passed dropped his bough on those of the Indians, the officers then doing the same. The natives now intimated to Captain Cook that he might make use of the ground for any purpose he desired; but as it was not suitable for the purpose of the expedition, the offer was declined.
The party now took a circuitous route of four or five miles through groves of trees which were loaded with cocoanuts and bread-fruit, and afforded the most grateful shade. Under these trees were the habitations of the people, most of them in the daytime presenting the appearance of a roof without walls. Mats at night were let down to afford such privacy and shelter as the habits of the people and the genial climate required. The whole scene seemed to realise to the voyagers the poetical fables of Arcadia.
The reception Captain Wallis met with from these people was in the first instance very different from that which Captain Cook and his companions now received. No sooner did the Dolphin, which the savages called a huge canoe without an outrigger, appear, than several thousand people, in canoes laden with stones, came off and attacked her. Not until they had been repeatedly fired on, and many of their number had been killed, did they retire. Several shots were fired at the crowds on shore before they would disperse. The people then saw that it would be hopeless to contend with the strangers, and with green boughs in their hands sued for peace. After this, Captain Wallis was treated with great attention, especially by a female chief, whom he called a queen or princess, and who lived in a house much larger than any others in the neighbourhood. On Captain Cook's arrival, no trace of her house was to be found, and the princess herself had disappeared. Indeed, the voyagers were convinced that as yet they had seen none of the leading chiefs of the island. The next day, however, two persons of greater consequence than any who had yet appeared came off, called Matahah and Tootahah; the first fixing on Mr Banks as his friend, and the latter on Captain Cook. The ceremony consisted in the natives taking off a great part of their clothing, and putting on that of their white friends. A similar ceremony exists among some of the tribes of North America. The dress of the natives was formed from cloth made of the bark of the paper-mulberry tree.
Captain Cook, Mr Banks, and others accompanied these chiefs on shore, where they met another chief, Tubourai Tamaide, and formed a treaty of friendship with him. He invited them to his house, and gave them a feast of fish, bread-fruit, cocoanuts, and plantains, dressed after the native fashion. The natives ate some of the fish raw, a feat the Englishmen could not accomplish. The general harmony was interrupted by Dr Solander and Mr Monkhouse finding that their pockets had been picked, the one of an opera glass, the other of his snuff-box. Mr Banks on this started up and struck the butt end of his musket violently on the ground. On this, most of the people ran away, but the chief remained. To show his concern, and that he had nothing to do with the theft, he offered Mr Banks several pieces of native cloth as a compensation. When Mr Banks refused it, and let him understand that he required only what had been taken away, the chief went out, and in half an hour returned with the snuff-box and the case of the opera glass. His countenance fell when he found the case empty, and taking Mr Banks by the hand, he led him out towards the shore at a rapid rate. On the way, followed by Dr Solander and Mr Monkhouse, he passed a woman, who handed him a piece of cloth, which he took, and went on till he reached another house, where a woman received them. He intimated that they should give her some beads. These with the cloth were placed on the floor, when the woman went out, and in half an hour returned with the glass. The beads were now returned, and the cloth was forced on Dr Solander, who could not well refuse it, though he insisted on giving a present in return. This, among other instances, shows that the people had a sense of justice, and were raised above the savage state in which the inhabitants of many of the surrounding islands were plunged.
A spot was at last fixed on, away from habitations, where the astronomical instruments could be set up, protected by a fort; and on the 10th, Captain Cook, accompanied by Mr Banks, Dr Solander, and Mr Green, went on shore with a party of men to commence operations. A number of natives, on seeing them, collected to watch their proceedings; though they had no weapons, it was intimated to them that they must not cross a line which the captain drew in front of the ground it was proposed to occupy. Having taken all the precautions he considered necessary, he left a midshipman and a party of marines to guard the tent, and, with Mr Banks and the other gentlemen, set off on an excursion through the woods, accompanied by Owhaw, who, however, seemed very unwilling that they should go far from the shore. One of their objects was to obtain poultry and pigs. Owhaw's unwillingness to proceed arose, they believed, from the fact that their live-stock had been driven into the interior by the natives lest their white visitors should lay violent hands on them.
As fresh meat or poultry was much wanted, Mr Banks, seeing some ducks, fired and killed three at one shot, which so astonished the natives that most of them fell flat on the ground as if knocked down by the same discharge. They soon recovered, however, and proceeded with the white men. The Englishmen were walking somewhat apart, when, shortly after the above-mentioned incident, two shots were heard. Owhaw, on this, seemed to think, as the visitors did, that something was wrong, and signing to them to keep together, sent most of the natives away. Three chiefs, however, remained, who instantly broke off green boughs from the nearest trees, and extended them towards the English, to show that they wished to be on terms of friendship, whatever had happened. The Englishmen, of course, full of anxiety, hurried back to the tent. On their arrival they found that the natives had fled, and that one of them had been killed. It appeared that a native had suddenly seized the sentry's musket and made off with it, when the midshipman, most improperly, ordered the marines to fire. This they did, into the very middle of the flying crowd; but finding that the thief did not fall, they pursued and shot him dead. It is easy to fancy Captain Cook's grief and annoyance at this incident. In spite of his humane desire to treat the natives justly and kindly, and to cultivate their goodwill, and notwithstanding all his precautions against violence, blood had been shed. Though the native had acted wrongly, death was too severe a punishment for his fault. The chiefs who had remained with Cook behaved very well. Calling the people around, they enabled him to explain to them that though the English would allow no liberties to be taken, yet their desire was to treat them with kindness.
Notwithstanding these assurances, the next morning very few natives came near the ship, and she was consequently warped closer in, more effectually to protect the intended fort. Before long, however, the natives got over their alarm, and the two chiefs Tubourai Tamaide and Tootahah returned, bringing in their canoes not branches only, but two young trees, and would not venture on board till these had been received as emblems of peace. They each also brought, as propitiatory gifts, a hog and bread-fruit ready dressed—both very acceptable articles at that time. In return, a hatchet and a nail were given to each of them.
At this time the expedition had the misfortune to lose Mr Buchan, the landscape-painter brought out by Mr Banks.
Rapid progress was made with the forts, and on April 18, Mr Banks's tent being set up, he slept on shore for the first time. The natives had by this time completely recovered from their alarm, and an abundance of provisions was offered for sale. Their friend Tubourai Tamaide even brought his wife and family to the fort, and did not hesitate to throw himself down and sleep on Mr Banks's bed. The voyagers were gradually gaining an insight into the manners and customs of the people. Mr Monkhouse, in one of his walks, learned their mode of treating their dead. He found the body of the poor man who had been shot. It was wrapped in cloth, and placed on a high platform supported by stakes, with a roof over it; near it were some instruments of war and other articles. Two other bodies were seen near, in a similar position, the bones of which were perfectly dry. The first was near the hut in which the man had lived. On the approach of the white man to the bodies the natives showed considerable uneasiness, and seemed greatly relieved when the examination was over.
A few days afterwards Tootahah amused them by a concert. There were four performers on flutes having two stops, which were sounded by application to the end of the nose, instead of the mouth; one nostril being stopped by the hand.
Longer excursions from the shore than they had at first ventured to take gave the explorers a good notion of the fertility and resources of the country. After passing a belt of fertile land, about two miles wide, they came to a range of barren hills. These being crossed, they descended into a wide plain, watered by a river issuing from a fertile valley, which was nearly a hundred yards wide, and at a considerable distance from the sea.
This plain was thickly studded over with houses, the inhabitants of which seemed to live in the full enjoyment of the ample productions of their country. As they became better acquainted with the people, it was discovered that, amiable as the people appeared, they had many vicious habits. They were generally expert and pertinacious thieves, although some of the chiefs appear to have been exempt from this vice, or to have been ashamed of practising it on their liberal visitors.
The fort was completed on April 26, and six swivel guns were mounted on it. This seemed very naturally to excite the apprehensions of the people, and some fishermen who lived near wisely moved farther off. Owhaw, indeed, intimated by signs that the English would begin to fire their guns in four days. Notwithstanding this, Tubourai Tamaide and other chiefs, with their wives, came into the fort and ate without showing any signs of fear. Again the commander's patience was tried by the misconduct of one of his own people. The butcher had taken a fancy to a stone hatchet in the hands of the wife of the above-named chief, and because she refused to give it to him for a nail, he threatened to kill her. Being proved guilty of this crime, as well as of an infraction of the rules drawn up by the commander, he received a severe flogging, in the presence of a number of the natives. It speaks well for their kind feelings that when they saw the first strokes given they begged that the rest of his punishment might be remitted, and when Captain Cook would not consent to this they burst into tears. Indeed, numberless instances proved that these people were mere children of impulse. They had never been taught to disguise or suppress their feelings; easily affected by all the changes of the passing hour, their sorrows were transient, and their joy and pleasure speedily excited. Unaccustomed to dwell on the past, or to allow themselves to be troubled with thoughts of the future, all they desired was to gratify the desire of the moment. About this time—the beginning of May—an event occurred which threatened disappointment to the object of the expedition. This was the disappearance, from the middle of the fort, of the quadrant, a large instrument in a case, on which the possibility of making the proposed observations entirely depended. Search was instantly made in every direction, and at length, through the intervention of the friendly chiefs, portions were discovered in the possession of the natives. They had been carried off by different people, but fortunately, not broken, and finally all the parts were collected and the instruments set up. At the suggestion of the Earl of Morton, before leaving home, Captain Cook sent out two parties to observe the transit of Venus from different situations—one to the east, the other to the westward. The anxiety for such weather as would be favourable to the success of the experiment was powerfully felt by all parties concerned; they could not sleep the preceding night; but their apprehensions were removed by the sun's rising without a cloud on the eventful morning of June 3. The weather continued with equal clearness throughout the day, so that the observations at each post were successfully made. At the fort Captain Cook, Mr Green, and Dr Solander were stationed. The passage of the planet Venus over the sun's disc was observed with great advantage.
The explorers had been, from the first, anxious to see the person who had been looked upon by Captain Wallis as the queen of the island, and at length, a number of people being collected at the tents, Mr Mollineux, the master, declared that one of the females, who was sitting quietly among the rest, was the lady herself. She, at the same time, acknowledged him to be one of the strangers she had before seen. Her name, they soon learned, was Oberea. She was tall and stout, and must have been handsome in her youth. Her countenance indicated much intelligence, and she was also unusually fair. She was thenceforth treated with great attention, and many presents were offered her. It was curious that among them all she seemed to value most a child's doll. On this, Tootahah, who was apparently at that time the principal chief on the island, jealous of the favours shown to Oberea, was not content till he also had a doll given to him. For the moment he valued it more than a hatchet, probably supposing that its possession conferred some mark of dignity; or perhaps he took it for one of the gods of the white men. Whatever the position really held by Oberea, her moral conduct was not superior to that of most of her countrywomen. She seems to have been the repudiated wife of Oamo, one of the principal chiefs of the island. There appeared to have been three brothers, chiefs—Whappai, the eldest, Oamo, and Tootahah. As soon as a son is born to a head chief, he succeeds as king, and generally the father becomes regent. Whappai had a son who was thus king, but Tootahah, having distinguished himself as a leader in battle, was chosen as regent instead of Whappai, and a son of Oamo and Oberea was the heir-apparent. It was thus manifest to our voyagers that even among those simple savages—"the children of nature" as they were sometimes called—ambition for greatness and jealousy of power were passions not unknown nor unfelt, any more than they are among civilised and highly cultivated nations and races of men.
Among the attendants of Oberea was Tupia, who had been her minister in the days of her power, and was now a priest, and possessed of considerable influence. He from the first attached himself to the English, and soon expressed a strong desire to accompany them whenever they should leave the country. As it was very important to have an intelligent native of a South Sea island attached to the expedition, Captain Cook gladly availed himself of this desire, and Tupia was subsequently received on board the Endeavour as interpreter.
During his first visit to the island, Captain Cook learned very little about the religion of the people. He came to the conclusion that they believed in one God or Creator of the universe, and in a number of subordinate deities, called Etuas, as also in a separate state of existence with different degrees of happiness. They did not seem to fancy that their deities took any notice of their actions. Their religion, such as it was, had therefore no restraining influence over them. Their priests were called Tahowas. The office was hereditary. All ranks belonged to it. The chief priest was generally the younger brother of a good family, and was respected in a degree next to the king. Of the little knowledge existing in the country the priests possessed the greatest share, especially with regard to navigation and astronomy. The name Tahowa signifies, indeed, a man of knowledge. Like all heathen superstitions, their system was one of imposture; and the priests supported their authority by cunning, and by working on the credulity of the people. Captain Cook was not aware at that time that it was their custom to offer up human sacrifices, and that they exercised a fearful influence over the people by selecting for victims those who had in any way offended them. The persons fixed on, often young men or girls in the pride and strength of youth, were followed, unsuspicious of the fate awaiting them, and were struck down by the clubs of the assistant priests without warning. They were then offered up at their morais to the Etuas, whose anger they desired to propitiate. The priests professed also to cure diseases by incantations very similar to those practised by the medicine-men or mystery-men among the Indians of North America. A society existed, called the Arreoy, the object of which was to set at defiance all the laws of morality which the rest of the people acknowledged. Many of the principal people of the island belonged to it. By its rules any woman becoming a mother was compelled instantly to strangle her infant. Both Captain Cook and Mr Banks spoke to some who acknowledged that they had thus destroyed several children, and, far from considering it as a disgrace, declared that it was a privilege to belong to the association. For a long period this dissolute society existed, and opposed all the efforts of the Christian missionaries to get it abolished. From the lowest to the highest, the people were addicted to thieving; for even the principal chiefs could not resist temptation when it came in their way. On one of their expeditions Mr Banks and his companions had the greater part of their clothes stolen from them while they were asleep. They had no doubt that Oberea was concerned in the robbery.
Still the people possessed qualities which won the regard of their visitors. In all their habits they were scrupulously clean. They regularly bathed three times in the day, washed their mouths before and after eating, and their hands frequently during each meal. It was the custom for the chiefs to take their meals alone, seated on the ground, with leaves instead of a cloth spread before them, and their food ready cooked in a basket by their side. Their chief animal food consisted of pigs and dogs, the latter being carefully kept for the purpose, and fed entirely on vegetable diet. It was agreed that South Sea dog was but little inferior to English lamb. The meat was either broiled or baked in earth-ovens. A hole was dug in the ground, and a fire lighted in it, small stones being mixed with the wood. When the hole was sufficiently hot, the fire was raked out, and a layer of hot stones placed at the bottom; on this leaves were put. The animal to be cooked was laid on the top of them, and covered, first with more leaves, and then with the remainder of the hot stones; the whole being then covered up with earth. All the fish and flesh eaten by the natives was baked in the same way.
An excursion in the pinnace, made by Captain Cook and Mr Banks, round the island, gave them a perfect knowledge of its shape and size. It consists of two peninsulas joined by a narrow neck of land, and was found to be about thirty leagues in circumference. Though they were received in a very friendly way, the natives stole their clothes or whatever they could lay hands on. On this excursion they met with a representation of one of their Etuas, or deities. It was the figure of a man constructed of basket-work, rudely made, and rather more than seven feet high. The wicker skeleton was completely covered with feathers, which were white where the skin was to appear, and black in the parts which it is their custom to paint or stain. On the head was a representation of hair; there were also four protuberances, three in front and one behind, which the English would have called horns, but which were called by the natives Tate Ete (little men).
In the northern peninsula they visited a burying-place, the pavement of which was extremely neat; upon it was raised a pyramid five feet high, covered with the fruit of two plants peculiar to the country. Near the pyramid, under a shed, was a small image of stone, of very rude workmanship—the first specimen of stone-carving which had been seen among the people. Continuing their voyage, they came to a district belonging to Oberea, and were entertained at her house, which, though small, was very neat. Not far from it they saw an enormous pile, which they were told was the morai of Oamo and Oberea, literally their burying-place and temple. It was a pile of stone-work, raised pyramidically upon an oblong base or square two hundred and sixty-seven feet long and eighty-seven wide. It was like the small mounds erected for sun-dials, with steps leading on all sides to the summit. The steps at the sides were broader than those at the ends, and it terminated in a ridge like the roof of a house. There were eleven steps, each four feet high, so that the height of the pile was forty-four feet; each course was formed of white coral stone, neatly squared and polished; the rest of the mass, for there was no hollow within, consisted of round pebbles. Some of the coral stones were measured, and found to be three feet and a half by two feet and a half. The foundation was of stones squared, and one of them measured four feet seven inches by two feet four inches. It was surprising that such a structure should have been raised without iron tools to shape the stones, or mortar to join them. The quarried stones must have been brought from a considerable distance by hand, and the coral must have been raised from under the water, where, though there is an abundance, it is at a depth of never less than three feet. To square these stones must have been a work of incredible labour, though the polishing might have been more easily effected by means of the sharp coral sand from the sea-shore. The whole pyramid was not straight, but formed a slight curve, and made one side of a spacious area or square of three hundred and sixty feet by three hundred and fifty-four feet, enclosed by a stone wall, and paved throughout its whole extent with flat stones. Several trees, called etoa and plantains, were growing through the pavement. On the top of the pyramid stood the figure of a bird carved in wood, and near it lay the broken figure of a fish carved in stone. About a hundred yards to the west of this building was another paved court, in which were several small stages raised on wooden pillars seven feet high. These were altars, called Ewattas, and upon them were placed provisions of all sorts as offerings to their gods. In the neighbourhood of the morai were found large numbers of human bones. These were said to have been the remains of the inhabitants killed a few months before by the people of Tirrabou, in the south-east peninsula, who had made a sudden descent on the coast. The jaw-bones had been carried away as trophies, as the Indians of North America carry off the scalps of their enemies. The natives conjectured, probably, that the English would not approve of human sacrifices, and therefore refrained from offering up any, or did so only when they knew that their visitors would not interrupt them in their horrible proceedings.
The inhabitants of Otaheite were remarkably intelligent, and their minds were capable of a high state of cultivation. The climate was considered healthy, and the natural productions of the island abundant. The bread-fruit was, perhaps, the most valuable. They had also cocoanuts, thirteen sorts of bananas, plantains; a fruit not unlike an apple, sweet potatoes, yams, cacao; a kind of arum, the yambu, the sugar-cane; a fruit growing in a pod, like a large kidney bean; the pandana tree, which produces fruit like the pine-apple, and numerous edible roots of nutritious quality. Among other trees must be mentioned the Chinese paper-mulberry, from which their cloth was, and is still, manufactured, and two species of fig-trees. There were no serpents and no wild quadrupeds on the island, except rats. Their tame animals were hogs, dogs, and poultry, and there were wild ducks, pigeons, paroquets, and a few other birds. The complexion of the people was olive or light brown; that of the women of the upper classes being very clear, with well-formed faces and expressive eyes, the nose only being flatter than is admired in Europe. In their persons, as already observed, they were remarkably cleanly; and they certainly showed that they were neither treacherous nor revengeful. Mr Banks, Dr Solander, and Captain Cook himself, were constantly in their power, often in their villages, sleeping in separate huts, without any watch or guard.
Contrary to the usual custom, the men wore their hair long or tied up in a bunch, while the women wore it cropped short round their ears. The bodies of both sexes were tattooed, but not their faces. They manufactured three sorts of cloth for dress. The finest and whitest was made from the paper-mulberry tree, and was used for the dresses of the chief people. The second, used by the common people, was made from the bread-fruit tree, and the third from a tree resembling a fig-tree. The latter was coarse and harsh, and of the colour of the darkest brown paper; but it was valuable because it resisted the wet, while the others did not. The women of the upper class wore three pieces of cloth; one, eleven yards long and two wide, was wrapped round the waist, and hung down like a petticoat; while the two others were formed like the South American poncho, the head being put through a hole in the middle, so as to leave the arms at liberty. The men dressed in much the same way, except that instead of allowing the cloth to hang down like a petticoat, they brought it between their legs so as to have some resemblance to breeches. The higher a person's rank, the more clothes he wore, some throwing a large piece loosely over the shoulders. They shaded their eyes from the sun with hats made at the moment required, of cocoanut leaves or matting, and the women sometimes wore small turbans, or a head-dress which consisted of long plaited threads of human hair, wound round and round, with flowers of various kinds stuck between the folds, especially the Cape jessamine, which was always planted near their houses. The chiefs sometimes wore the tail feathers of birds stuck upright in their hair. Their personal ornaments besides flowers were few; but both sexes wore ear-rings of shells, stones, berries, or small pearls.
Their houses were always built in woods, sufficient space only being cleared to prevent the droppings from the boughs from rotting the roofs. They were simply formed of three rows of parallel stakes for the support of the roof, the highest part of which was only nine feet from the ground, while the eaves reached to within three feet and a half. The houses were thatched with palm-leaves, and the floor was covered some inches deep with soft hay. They were, indeed, scarcely used for any other purpose than as dormitories, the people living almost constantly in the open air. The great chiefs, however, had houses in which privacy could be enjoyed; and there were guest-houses for the reception of visitors, or for the accommodation of the people of a whole district. Some were two hundred feet long, thirty broad, and twenty high under the ridge; on one side of them was an area enclosed with low palings. They were maintained at the public expense.
The style of cookery among these islanders has already been described. They baked in their earth-ovens hogs and large fish, as also the bread-fruit. The baked pork and fish were considered more juicy and more equally done than by any mode of cooking known at home. Of the bread-fruit they made various dishes, by putting to it either water or the milk of the cocoanut, and then beating it to a paste with a stone pestle, and afterwards mixing it with ripe plantains and bananas. They made an intoxicating beverage from a plant they called Ava. The chiefs only indulged in the vice of drinking to excess, and even they considered it a disgrace to be seen intoxicated. They sometimes drank together, and vied with each other in taking the greatest number of draughts, each draught being about a pint. They ate a prodigious quantity of food at each meal, and would finish off by swallowing a quart of pounded bread-fruit of the consistency of custard.
They had various amusements, and were especially fond of dancing, in which they kept admirable time, their movements being often graceful; but their gestures too generally showed the very debased condition of their morals. Their musical instruments were flutes and drums. The flutes were made of hollow bamboo, about a foot long. The drums were blocks of wood of cylindrical form, solid at one end, but scooped out and covered at the other with shark's skin. They were beaten by the hands instead of sticks. The natives sang to these instruments, and often made extempore verses.
The men delighted especially in wrestling. They also practised archery and spear-throwing. They shot, not at a mark, but to try how far they could send an arrow; their spears, however, they threw at a mark, generally the bole of a plantain, at the distance of twenty yards. These spears were about nine feet long. They also, in war, used clubs of hard wood, often well carved, and six or seven feet long; pikes, headed with the stings of sting-rays; and slings, which they wielded with great dexterity. Thus armed, they fought with obstinacy and fury, and gave no quarter to man, woman, or child who, while their passion lasted, fell into their hands. Although they could not be said to live under a regular form of government, there was a certain subordination established among them, not unlike that of European nations under the feudal system.
Their tools were few and rude: an adze of stone, a chisel or gouge of bone—generally that of a man's arm between the wrist and elbow—a rasp of coral, and the sting of a sting-ray, with coral sand as a file or polisher. With these tools they built their houses and canoes, hewed stone, and felled, clove, carved, and polished timber. Their axes were of different sizes, but even with the largest it took them several days to cut down a tree. The canoes were often large, and constructed with great labour and ingenuity. They were of two builds: one, the Ivaha, for short excursions, was wall-sided, with a flat bottom; the other, the Pahie, for longer voyages, was bow-sided, with a sharp bottom. There was the fighting Ivaha, the fishing Ivaha, and the travelling Ivaha. The fighting Ivaha was the largest; the head and stern were raised sometimes seventeen feet or more above the sides, which were only three feet out of the water. Two of these vessels were always secured together by strong poles about three feet apart. Towards the head a platform was raised, about twelve feet long, wider than the boats, and on this platform stood the fighting men, armed with slings and spears; for they did not use their bows and arrows except for amusement. Below the stage the rowers sat with reserved men, who supplied the place of those that were wounded. Some of their war canoes had stages or decks from one end to the other. The fighting Pahie was often sixty feet long, and two were also joined together, with a large platform above them. One measured by Captain Cook was, though sixty feet long, only one foot and a half at the gunwale, with flat sides; then it abruptly widened out to three feet, and narrowed again to the keel. The double canoes were sometimes out a month together, going from island to island. Some carried one, some two masts, with sails of matting, of shoulder-of-mutton shape. The bottom of a large Pahie was formed of three or more trunks of trees secured together and hollowed out, above this flooring were the sides of plank, two inches thick, and about fifteen inches broad; and then there were the upper works, hollowed out of trunks of trees like the bottom. Sometimes these canoes were used singly, but then they were fitted with outriggers like the flying Proa of the Ladrone Islands. The outrigger is a log of wood fixed at the end of two poles, which lie across the vessel, projecting eight or ten feet, according to her size. The length and high sterns of these canoes gave them great advantage in putting off from the shore through the surf; they also sailed and paddled very fast. The amount of time and labour expended in the construction of one of these canoes must have been very great, and speaks well for the intelligence as well as for the industry and perseverance of the islanders.
Before quitting the island, Mr Banks planted a quantity of seeds of water-melons, oranges, lemons, limes, and other plants and trees which he had collected at Rio de Janeiro. He had prepared the ground for them in the neighbourhood of the fort, in as many varieties of soil as he could select. He also gave away seeds liberally to the natives, and planted others in the woods. The plants from some melon-seeds which were sown on their first arrival were flourishing, and the natives eagerly begged for more.
Many articles manufactured by the natives have not yet been described. The mode of making cloth from the bark of the paper-mulberry was curious. When the trees were of a fit size, they were pulled up, and the tops and roots being cut off, the bark was slit longitudinally, and was this easily removed. It was then placed under stones in running water. When sufficiently softened, the coarser parts were scraped away with a shell, the fine fibres of the inner coat only remaining. They were then placed on plantain-leaves, in lengths of about twelve yards, one by the side of the other, for about a foot in width. Two or three layers were also placed one on the other, care being taken that the thickness should be equal throughout. In this state it remained till the following morning, when all the water it contained being drained off or evaporated, the fibres were found to adhere so closely together that the whole piece could be lifted up and carried home. There it was placed on a long, smooth board, to be beaten by the women. The instrument they used was a four-sided piece of wood, with a long handle. This mallet was scored with grooves of different finenesses, those on one side being wide enough to receive a small pack-thread, the size of the grooves diminishing by degrees till those on the last side were fine as the finest silk. The fabric was beaten with the coarser side first, the women keeping time, and it spread rapidly under their strokes. The finest side was the last used, and the groove marked the cloth so as to give it the appearance of having been made of fine thread. It was then almost as thin as English muslin, and became very white on being bleached in the air. The scarlet dye used was very brilliant, and was extracted from the juice of a species of fig; a duller red was from the leaves of another tree. A yellow pigment was extracted from the root of the Morinda citrifolia. A brown and a black dye were also used.
The natives, when visited by Cook, manufactured mats of various descriptions, some of them exceedingly fine and beautiful. One sort served them for clothing in wet weather. They made also coarse mats of rushes and grass, to sit or sleep on, plaiting them with great rapidity and facility. They produced every variety of basket-work of great beauty; they also made ropes and string of all sorts; their fishing-line, made from the bark of a species of nettle, was far stronger than any English line of the same thickness. Their fishing-nets, though coarse, answered their purpose. They were often eighty fathoms in length. Harpoons, made of cane, were used to catch fish, and fish-hooks of mother-of-pearl. One used for trawling had a white tuft of dog's or hog's hair attached to it, to look like the tail of a fish. The fishermen watched for the birds which always follow a shoal of bonetas, and seldom returned without a prize. Both sexes were expert swimmers, and would dash out through the fiercest foam, diving under the breaking seas as they rolled in, and coming up on the other side. One of their amusements was to tow out a small raft on which they would sit, and allow themselves to be carried in on the top of a high foaming sea, amid which no boat could live for an instant. They were not without the comfort of artificial light. Their candles were made of the kernels of a kind of oily nut, which were stuck one over another on a skewer running through the middle. The upper one being lighted burnt down to the second, which took fire, the part of the skewer which went through the first being consumed, and so on to the last. These candles burnt a considerable time, and gave a very tolerable light.
From the brief description which has been given of their manufactures it will be seen that the islanders of Otaheite possessed a considerable number of the conveniences of life. Had they but been blessed with true religion and a good government, they would already have had most of the elements of a happy existence, without further intercourse with the rest of the world.
That a life such as was apparently led by these South Sea islanders—a life of comparative ease, and in a luxurious and enervating but inviting climate—should have presented charms to such men as chiefly composed the crew of the Endeavour, can excite no surprise. Rude, ignorant, and, for the most part, vicious themselves, in spite of the boasted civilisation of their country, they saw nothing repulsive in the rudeness, ignorance, and vices of the dusky natives. On the other hand, they were attracted by visions of indolence and savage freedom from care. Some of them also had formed attachments not easy to be broken; and they were willing to barter their distant homes, connections, and prospects for the licentious pleasures so near at hand. It was very difficult for them to resist these enticements; and notwithstanding the vigilance of the commander of the expedition, two marines managed to desert from the ship. In order to recover these deserters, Captain Cook thought himself under the necessity of detaining several of the principal people of the island on board the Endeavour. This led to reprisals; for on a party being sent on shore to bring off the deserters, they were, in turn, seized by the natives, who made it understood that they should not be restored till their chiefs were set at liberty. A stronger party was consequently sent from the ship, with a message from Tootahah (one of the captives), desiring that the Englishmen should be released. This, happily, had the desired effect, and the deserters, as well as the other men, were immediately sent back. Thus, in this, as in previous transactions, the prudence and mildness of the islanders averted a quarrel which, had it proceeded to extremities, would have left the civilised visitors little to boast of, beyond the superior power they possessed. And it must be a source of deep regret to every Christian reader that in the protracted intercourse which had been carried on between these professed Christians on the one hand, and the poor heathens on the other, not one attempt, so far as is known, had been made to impart a knowledge of that glorious Being who is the "Light of the world" and "the Saviour of men;" nor of God the Holy Spirit, who is the Giver of the only true and eternal life. The scientific objects of the voyage had, indeed, thus far been successful, and, to a great extent, had been rendered so by the goodwill of the islanders; but to the silent appeal for religious teaching and spiritual aid made to the philosophers of that party by the ignorance of their hosts there was no reply.
The fort was now completely dismantled, and preparations were made for sailing. At a last interview with the chiefs, all differences were settled, and the voyagers parted from the islanders on the most friendly terms. The latter, indeed, were loud in their demonstrations of grief. Tupia, who still adhered to his determination of sailing in the Endeavour, though he shed tears, bade farewell to his countrymen in a dignified manner, and as far as he was able, concealed the sorrow he evidently felt. The Endeavour had remained exactly three months at the island. It was high time for her to leave; for the season for cocoanuts and bread-fruit being over, the natives could no longer spare any of their provisions for the strangers. Tupia, who had gone on shore, returned again on board with his servant, a lad of thirteen, called Tayeto, and on July 13, 1769, the Endeavour sailed from Otaheite to continue her voyage towards the west.
Tupia informed Captain Cook that four islands, called Huaheine, Ulietea, Otaha, and Bolabola, lay at the distance of between one and two days' sail of Otaheite, and that refreshments in abundance might be procured at them. In consequence, however, of light winds, the Endeavour did not get off Huaheine till the morning of the 16th. Tupia probably fancied that he could impose on the white men as he did on his own people, for in his character of priest he began to offer prayers, or rather to perform incantations, as soon as he saw the prospect of a breeze springing up.
Upon the ship's getting close in with the land, several canoes came off, but kept at a distance till they discovered Tupia. In one of them were Oree, king of the island, and his wife. On receiving reiterated assurances that they would be treated as friends, they ventured on board. Though at first struck with astonishment at what they saw, they soon became familiar with their visitors, and the king expressed his wish to change names with the captain, who was henceforth called Captain Oree, while the chief took the name of King Cookee. The ship having anchored in a small, excellent harbour called Owharee, the captain, Mr Banks, Dr Solander, and Mr Monkhouse, with Tupia and King Cookee, went on shore. On landing Tupia stripped himself to the waist, and desired Mr Monkhouse, whom he seems to have looked on as a brother priest, to do the same; and sitting down in a large guest-house, full of people, opposite the king, he began a sort of incantation, the king answering in what appeared to be set responses. During this he made presents of some handkerchiefs, beads, two bunches of feathers, and plantains to the Etua, or god of the island, and received in return a hog, two bunches of feathers, and some young plantains, as presents to the white man's God. [Note 3.]
These he ordered to be carried on board. On the treaty, as the ceremony was supposed to be, being concluded, every one went his way, and Tupia repaired to worship at a morai. The next day, as Tupia was much engaged with his friends in the island, the captain and Mr Banks took Tayeto as their companion in their rambles. The most interesting object they met with was a chest or cask, the lid of which was nicely sewed on, and neatly thatched with palm-leaves. It was fixed on two horizontal poles, and supported on arches of wood neatly carved. The object of the poles seemed to be to remove it from place to place. There was a circular hole at one end, stopped, when it was first seen, with cloth. The chest was, on a second visit, found to be empty. The general resemblance between it and the ark of the Lord among the Jews was remarkable. The boy called it Ewharre no Etua (the house of the god). He, however, could give no account of its use.
Some hogs were exchanged for axes, and some medals bestowed on the king, and no accident having happened to mar their friendly intercourse with the natives, the voyagers took their departure. The people were superior in size and appearance to the general run of the natives of Otaheite, and the women fairer and better-looking. Not having experienced the effects of the guns of the Dolphin, they were less timid than the people of Otaheite, and did not fall down on hearing a musket fired. On one of them being detected in thieving, his companions prescribed a good beating, which was at once administered.
The next island visited was Ulietea, where, within the coral reef, the ship anchored in a good harbour. Two canoes at once came off, each bringing a woman and a pig—the one as a mark of confidence, the other as a present. The ladies each received a spike-nail and some beads, greatly to their delight. On landing, the Union-Jack was hoisted, and the three islands in sight taken possession of in the name of his Britannic Majesty. Here was a large morai, called Tapodeboatea, which was visited, and found to be different from those of Otaheite. It consisted only of four walls, eight feet high, built of coral stones— some of immense size—enclosing an area of five-and-twenty yards square, filled up with smaller stones. On the top of it many carved planks were set on end, and at a little distance was an altar, on which lay a hog of about eighty pounds weight, roasted whole, supposed to have been a sacrifice. Round it were four or five arks resting on poles like that seen at Huaheine. In the interior of one of them Mr Banks found a package done up tightly in mats. He had opened several folds, but the last resisted all his attempts; and as he saw that his proceeding gave great offence, he was compelled to desist. Not far off was a long house, where, among rolls of cloth, was the model of a canoe, about three feet long, to which were tied eight human jaw-bones. Other jaw-bones were seen near the ark, and Tupia affirmed that they were those of natives of the island.
Bad weather detained the ship in the harbour of Oopoa for two more days, and when at length she got out, she was in imminent danger of striking on a reef, having got unexpectedly close to the edge of one, which was discovered from the water being shallow on one side, though deep enough under the keel to float her. Some time was expended in endeavouring to beat up to an anchorage off Bolabola, and several smaller islands were visited.
A leak having been discovered, and some more ballast being required, Captain Cook put into a harbour in Ulietea, at the opposite side of the island to that he had before visited. While the ship's company were taking in ballast and water, Mr Banks and Dr Solander went on shore, and were everywhere received with the greatest respect by the natives, who seemed conscious that their white visitors had the power, though not the desire, to do them every possible harm. Men, women, and children crowded round them, and followed them wherever they went; but no one was guilty of the least incivility. On the contrary, the men vied with each other in lifting them over any dirt or water in the way.
On approaching the first house, they saw the people arrange themselves on either side of a long mat spread on the ground, at the farther end of which sat some young girls and very pretty children, dressed with the greatest neatness and taste, who kept their position, evidently expecting the strangers to come up and make them presents. At one house, at the end of a mat thirty feet long, sat a girl about six years old; her dress was red, and a large quantity of plaited hair was wound round her head. She was leaning on the arm of a good-looking woman, supposed to be her nurse. The gentlemen walked up to her, and as soon as they approached she stretched out her hands for the beads which they offered, and received them with a grace which no princess in Europe could have surpassed. The people, in consequence of these gifts, seemed to be so pleased with their visitors that they employed every means in their power to amuse them. The master of one of the houses where they stopped ordered a dance to be performed before them, different from any they had yet witnessed. It was executed by one man, who put on a high head-dress of feathers, edged round with sharks' teeth. As he moved slowly round he made it describe a circle, bringing it often close to the faces of the spectators so as to make them start back, always to the great amusement of the rest.
In the course of their walk the next day they met a company of dancers— two women and six men, with three drums—who were making a tour of the island for their own amusement, for they received no pay, and were said by Tupia to be among the principal people of the country. The women wore graceful head-dresses of long braids of hair and flowers. The upper parts of their bodies were without clothing; but they were amply clothed from the breast downwards in black, and they wore pearls in their ears. The dances were of the immoral kind general in the islands. Regular dramas were also represented before the strangers.
It appeared that the island had lately been conquered by the subjects of Opoony, King of Bolabola, whose acquaintance Captain Cook wished to make. Instead of seeing a fine-looking warrior as he had expected, he found a withered, decrepit wretch, half blind with age; yet it seemed that he was the terror of all the surrounding islands.
A good supply of hogs, poultry, and other provisions having been obtained at Ulietea, and her leak being stopped, the Endeavour sailed on August 9. As Bolabola was difficult of access, Captain Cook gave up his intention of touching there. To gratify Tupia, however, he fired a shot towards the island, though it was seven leagues distant. The object of Tupia appeared to be that of showing his resentment against the king of that island, as well as of exhibiting the power of his new allies.
To the six islands which had been visited or seen, namely, Ulietea, Otaha, Bolabola, Huaheine, Tubai, and Maurua, Captain Cook gave the name of the Society Islands. Otaheite was not included in the group, but continued to be known as King George's Island. [Note 1.]
The voyagers were much disappointed in finding that they could not keep their live-stock. The hogs would not eat European grain of any sort, nor bread-dust; and the fowls were seized with a disease which made them hold their heads between their legs till they died.
Nothing worthy of notice occurred till the 13th, when an island, called, by Tupia, Oheteroa, was seen. The next morning Mr Gore was sent in the pinnace to attempt a landing, accompanied by Mr Banks, Dr Solander, and Tupia. As the boat approached the land a number of natives, armed with long lances, appeared. The main body sat down, while two walked abreast of the boat as she pulled along the shore. At length they leaped into the water and swam towards the boat, but were left behind. Two others followed, but were soon distanced. At last, one man, running on, got up to the boat. Mr Banks, wishing to gain the goodwill of the natives by kind treatment, urged Mr Gore to take him in; but he declined doing so. On the English attempting to land, soon after this, several natives came off in a canoe and boarded the boat, evidently with the intention of capturing her; indeed, it was not till muskets were fired over their heads that the savages leaped out and swam ashore. As no harbour or good landing-place was discovered in the circuit of the island, and as the natives were everywhere hostile, the attempt to land was abandoned. The clothing of the inhabitants was considered superior to that of the natives of the islands before visited. The cloth of which their dresses were made was richly coloured. One piece of red or yellow was crossed on the breast, and sewed round the waist as a sash. They had also head-dresses of white or lead-coloured cloth, shaped like a small turban; and some wore the feathers of the native birds round their heads. They had well-finished lances in their hands, twenty feet long, and highly carved and polished clubs and pikes. The canoe also, though small, was richly carved; and her head and stern were ornamented with white feathers. Tupia stated that there were numerous islands between the south and north-west, at different distances from Oheteroa; and that there was one, three days' sail to the north-east, called Manua, or Bird Island. The most distant island with which he was acquainted to the south was Mouton, but his father had told him of islands to the south of that. But considering the uncertainty of this information, Captain Cook determined not to lose time in looking for islands, but to steer to the south in search of a continent.
In leaving these islands we cannot help expressing regret that the voyagers were so forgetful, as they appear to have been, of their obligations to the religion they professed, and of the eternal welfare of those among whom they sojourned. They found a people sunk in idolatry and superstition, and should have endeavoured to do as the Apostle Paul did at Athens, where, finding an altar inscribed "To the unknown God," he said to the assembled multitude, "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you," and then began to preach Jesus Christ and His great salvation. But so far from imitating this example, they, in many instances, took part in their idolatrous and superstitious ceremonies. It is vain to attempt an excuse of these Englishmen by saying either that it was the fashion of the times to pass by the heathen without a thought for their wretched lost condition, or that the party of philosophers and scientific men and discoverers were not Christian missionaries. Every Christian ought to look upon himself as a missionary, when work for his Lord can be done by him; and it was a bad fashion to follow, surely, that of suffering heathens to perish without one effort made for their salvation. No doubt there were great physical and natural impediments in the way of Cook and his associates making anything known to the natives of those islands; but these impediments were overcome in relation to other matters.
The Endeavour sailed from Oheteroa on August 15, 1769. The 25th was the first anniversary of the day she had quitted the shores of England. To celebrate it a Cheshire cheese was cut, and a cask of porter broached, and both were found excellent. Those who have been long at sea and away from home can best understand the importance attached to such trifles, and the pleasure they afford.
On the morning of the 30th a comet was seen in the east, a little above the horizon. Tupia, who observed it with others, instantly cried out that as soon as the people of Bolabola perceived it they would attack the inhabitants of Uhetea, who would have to fly to the mountains to save their lives. Meeting with a heavy sea and strong gales from the westward, on September 1 Captain Cook wore and stood to the northward. On the weather moderating he continued his course to the westward during the whole of September. Several seals were seen asleep on the surface of the water, and various birds were perceived, a sure indication that the ship was approaching land. On October 6 land was seen from the mast-head, bearing west by north. In the evening it could be seen from the deck. It was not till the evening of the next day that the voyagers got near enough to observe the nature of the country, when it appeared of great extent, with four or five ranges of hills rising one over the other, and beyond them a lofty chain of mountains. The general opinion was that they had found the Terra Australia incognita. A bay was seen, and smoke rising from the shore, but night coming on, they were obliged to stand off till daylight. The next day, on standing in again, some small but neat houses were seen, and a considerable number of people seated on the beach. Farther on was discovered a tolerably high and regular paling, enclosing the whole of the top of a hill. Some on board supposed it to be a park for deer, others an enclosure for oxen or sheep. In the afternoon the ship came to an anchor in a bay off the mouth of a river. The sides of the bay were white cliffs of great height; the middle was low land, with hills rising behind and terminating in a chain of lofty mountains.
Captain Cook, with Mr Banks, Dr Solander, and a party of men in the yawl and pinnace, landed on the east side of the river; but some people being perceived on the west side, the yawl crossed over, and while the gentlemen landed, four boys were left in charge of her. On the approach of the Englishmen the natives ran away, and the former advanced towards some huts two or three hundred yards from the water's edge. When, however, they had got some distance from the yawl, four men with long lances rushed out of the woods towards her, and would have cut her off had not the people in the pinnace covered them, and called to the boys to drop down the stream. This they did, but the natives pursued in spite of two musket-shots fired at them. At length, one of the natives was poising his spear to dart it at the boys, when the coxswain of the pinnace fired a third time, and shot the native dead. The other three at first attempted to drag off the dead body, but fear soon made them drop it and take to flight.
On the captain and his companions returning to the boat they stopped to examine the body, which had been shot through the heart. It was that of a man of middle stature, of a brown, but not very dark complexion. One side of his face was tattooed in spiral lines of regular figure, and his hair tied in a knot on the top of his head, but no feathers in it. He wore a garment of a fine cloth, of a manufacture new to the English. When the voyagers returned on board, they could hear the natives talking very loudly. The next day the captain and the same party landed with Tupia, and the marines were afterwards sent for. A large body of natives had collected on the opposite side of the river, apparently unarmed; but on the approach of the English they started up, each man holding a spear or dart, and made signs to the strangers to depart. The marines being drawn up, the visitors again approached the natives, when Tupia addressed them in the language of Otaheite, which they perfectly understood. He told them that their visitors wanted provisions and water, and would pay them with iron, the properties of which he explained as well as he could. They replied that they were willing to trade if the English would cross over to them. Captain Cook consented to do this, provided they would put aside their arms. This they would not consent to do. Tupia warned the English, during the conversation, that the natives were not friendly. Captain Cook then invited the natives to come across to them. At last, one of them stripped himself and swam over without his arms. He was soon after followed by others, to the number of twenty, most of whom came armed; and though iron and beads were offered them, they set no value apparently on either, for a few feathers were offered in return, and they at once showed their hostile disposition by endeavouring to snatch the weapons from the hands of their visitors. They were told, through Tupia, that if they continued to proceed in that manner they would be killed; notwithstanding this, one of them seized Mr Green's hanger from his side, and ran off with it. Mr Banks on this fired at him with small shot; but though hit, he still continued to wave the hanger round his head. Mr Monkhouse, seeing this, fired at him with ball, when he instantly dropped. Upon this, the main body, who had retired to a rock in the middle of the river, began to return. Two that were near the man who had been killed tried to drag off the body. One seized his weapon of green talc; and the other tried to secure the hanger, which Mr Monkhouse had but just time to prevent. As the whole body were now returning with threatening gestures, those who had their guns loaded with small shot fired. The effect was to make the natives turn back, and to retreat up the country, several of them being wounded. Such was the first unhappy attempt of the English to open up an intercourse with the inhabitants of New Zealand, for that was the magnificent country Captain Cook and his companions had now reached. Painful as it is to reflect on the sacrifice of human life which often in those days attended the first intercourse of civilised Europeans with the savage inhabitants of newly-discovered countries, and the cruelties and injuries inflicted, we must not judge our countrymen too harshly. Much less value was set on human life a century ago than is the case at present, and dark-skinned savages were scarcely regarded as beings of the same nature as white men. Captain Cook was, however, undoubtedly a kind and humane man, and was sincere in his expressions of regret at the blood his followers so frequently shed whenever they met with opposition from the natives of the lands they visited.
Having no longer any hope of establishing a friendly intercourse with the inhabitants of this place, and finding that the water in the river was salt, Captain Cook proceeded with the boats round the head of the bay, in search of fresh water, intending also, if possible, to surprise some of the natives, and, by kind treatment and presents, to obtain their friendship. Everywhere, however, a dangerous surf beat on the coast, and he was unable to land. But seeing two canoes coming in towards the shore, one under sail, and the other moved by paddles, he judged it necessary for the object he had in view to intercept them. Supposing that they were fishermen without arms, he hoped to do this without bloodshed. Notwithstanding the way in which he had placed the boats, one of the canoes managed to escape; but the other, under sail, came directly into the middle of the English boats without perceiving what they were. On discovering the strangers, the natives lowered their sail and took to their paddles. Tupia called out to them that those in the boats wished to be friends; but the natives preferred trusting to their paddles, and continued their flight. On this, a musket was fired over their heads, when they ceased paddling and began to strip, not to swim to the shore but to fight to the last.