An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of His Present Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, and successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour: Drawn from the Journals which were kept by the several Commanders, and from the Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq. [Vol. II]
An Account of the Circumnavigation of the Island, and various Incidents that happened during the Expedition; with a Description of a Burying-place and place of Worship, called Morai.
On Monday the 26th, about three o'clock in the morning, I set out in the pinnace, accompanied by Mr. Banks, to make the circuit of the island, with a view to sketch out the coast and harbours. We took our rout to the eastward, and about eight in the forenoon we went on shore, in a district called Oahounuf, which is governed by Ahio, a young Chief, whom we had often seen at the tents, ana who favoured us with his company to breakfast. Here also we found two other natives of our old acquaintance, Tituboalo and Hoona, who carried us to their houses, near which we saw the body of the old woman, at whose funeral rites Mr. Banks had assisted, and which had been removed hither from the spot where it was first deposited, this place having descended from her by inheritance to Hoona, and it being necessary on that account that it should lie here. We then proceeded on foot, the boat attending within call, to the harbour in which Mr. Bougainville lay, called Ohidea, where the natives shewed us the ground upon which his people pitched their tent, and the brook at which they water, though no trace of them remained, except the holes where the poles of the tent had been fixed, and a small piece of potsheard, which Mr. Banks found in looking narrowly about the spot. We met, however, with Orette, a Chief who was their principal friend, and whose brother Outorrou went away with them.page 13
This harbour lies on the west side of a great bay, under shelter of a small island called Boourou, near which is another called Taawirrh; the breach in the reefs is here very large, but the shelter for ships is not the best.
Soon after we had examined this place, we took boat, and askted Tituboalo to go with us to the other side or the bay; but he refused, and advised us not to go, for he said the country there was inhabited by people who were not subject to Tootahah, and who would kill both him and us. Upon receiving this intelligence, we did not, as may be imagined, relinquish our enterprize; but we immediately loaded our pieces with ball: this was so well understood by Tituboalo as a precaution which rendered us formidable, that he now consented to be of our party.
Having rowed till it was dark, we reached a low neck of land, or isthmus, at the bottom of the bay, that divides the island into two peninsulas, each of which is a district or government wholly independent of the other. From Port-Royal, where the Ship was at anchor, the coast trends E. by S. and E. S. E. ten miles, then S. by E. and S. eleven miles to the isthmus. In the first direction, the shore is in general open to the sea; but in the last it is covered by reefs of rocks, which form several good harbours, with safe anchorage, in 16, 18, 20, and 24 fathom of water, with other conveniences. As we had not yet got into our enemy's country, we determined to sleep on shore: we landed, and though we found but few houses, we saw several double canoes whose owners were well known to us, and who provided us with supper and lodging; of which Mr. Banks was indebted for his share to Ooratooa, the lady who had paid him her compliments in so Angular a manner at the fort.
In the morning, we looked about the country, and found it to be a marshy flat, about two miles over, across which the natives haul their canoes to the corresponding bay on the other side. We then prepared to continue our route for what Tituboalo called the other Kingdom; he said that the name of it was Tiarrabou, or Otaheite Ete; and that of the Chief who governed it, Waheatua; upon this occasion page 14 also, we learnt that the name of the peninsula where we had taken our station was Opoureonu, or Otaheite Nue. Our new associate seemed to be now in better spirits than he had been the day before; the people in Tiarabou would not kill us, he said, but he assured us that we should be able to procure no victuals among them; and indeed we had seen no breadfruit since we set out.
After rowing a few miles, we landed in a district, which was the dominion of a Chief, called Maraitata, the burying-place of men; whose father's name was Pahairedo, the stealer of boats. Though these names seemed to favour the account that had been given by Tituboalo, we soon found that it was not true. Both the father and the son received us with the greatest civility, gave us provisions, and, after some delay, sold us a very large hog for a hatchet. A croud soon gathered round us, but we saw only two people that we knew; neither did we observe a Angle bead or ornament among them, that had come from our ship, though we saw several things which had been brought from Europe. In one of the houses lay two twelve-pound shot, one of which was marked with the broad arrow of England, though the people said they had them from the ships that lay in Bougainville's harbour.
We proceeded on foot till we came to the dislrict which was immediately under the government of the principal, Chief, or King of the peninsula, Waheatua. Waheatua had a son, but whether, according to the custom of Opoureonu, he administered the government as regent, or in his own right, is uncertain. This district consists of a large and fertile plain, watered by a river so wide, that we were obliged to ferry over it in a canoe; our Indian train, however, chose to swim, and took to the water with the same facility as a pack of hounds. In this place we saw no house that appeared to be inhabited, but the ruins of many, that had been very large. We proceeded along the shore, which forms a bay, called Oaitipeha, and at last we found the Chief sitting near some pretty canoe awnings, under which, we supposed, he and his attendants slept. He was a thin old man, with a very white head and beard, and had with him a comely woman, about page 15 five and twenty years old, whose name was Toudidde. We had often heard the name of this woman, and, from report and observation, we had reason to think that she was the Oberea of this peninsula. From this place, between which and the isthmus there are Other harbours formed by the reefs that lie along the shore, where shipping may lie in perfect security, and from whence the land trends S. S. E. and S. to the S. E. part of the island, we were accompanied by Tearee, the son of Waheatua, of whom we had purchased a hog, and the country we parted through appeared to be more cultivated than any we had seen in other parts of the island: the brooks were every where banked into narrow channels with stone, and the shore had also a facing of stone, where it was washed by the sea. The houses were neither large nor numerous, but the canoes that were hauled up along the shore were almost innumerable, and superior to any that we had seen before, both in size and make; they were longer, the sterns were higher, and the awnings were supported by pillars. At almost every point there was a sepulchral building, and there were many of them also inland. They were of the same figure as those in Opoureonu, but they were cleaner and better kept, and decorated with many carved boards, which were set upright, and on the top of which were various figures of birds and men: on one in particular, there was the representarion of a cock, which was painted red and yellow, to imitate the feathers of that animal, and rude images of men were, in some of them, placed one upon the head of another. But in this part of the country, however fertile and cultivated, we did not see a single bread-fruit; the trees were entirely bare, and the inhabitants seemed to subsist principally upon nuts which are not unlike a chesnut, and which they call Ahee.
When we had walked till we were weary, we called up the boat, but both our Indians, Tituboalo and Tuahow, were missing: they had, it seems, stayed behind at Waheatua's, expeding us to return thither, in consequence of a promise which had been extorted from us, and which we had it not in our power to fulfil.page 16
Tearee, however, and another, embarked with us, and we proceeded till we came a-breast of a small island called Otooareite; it being then dark, we determined to land, and our Indians conducted us to a place where they said we might sleep: it was a deserted house, and near it was a little cove, in which the boat might lie with great safety and convenience. We were, however, in want of provisions, having been very sparingly supplied since we set out; and Mr. Banks immediately went into the woods to see whether any could be procured. As it was dark, he met with no people, and could find but one house that was inhabited: a bread-fruit and a half, a few ahees, and some fire, were all that it afforded; upon which, with a duck or two, and a few curlieus, we made our supper, which, if not scanty, was disagreeable, by the want of bread, with which we had neglected to furnish ourselves, as we depended upon meeting with bread-fruit, and took up our lodging under the awning of a canoe belonging to Tearee, which followed us.
The next morning, after having spent some time in another fruitless attempt to procure a supply of provisions, we proceeded round the south-east point, part of which is not covered by any reef, but lies open to the sea; and here the hill rises directly from the shore. At the southermost part of the island, the shore is again covered by a reef, which forms a good harbour; and the land about it is very fertile. We made this route partly on foot and partly in the boat; when we had walked about three miles, we arrived at a place where we saw several large canoes, and a number of people with them, whom we were agreeably surprised to find were of our intimate acquaintance. Here, with much difficulty, we procured some cocoa-nuts, and then embarked, taking with us Tuahow, one of the Indians who had waited for us at Waheatua's, and had returned the night before, long after it was dark.
When we came a-breast of the south-east end of the island, we went ashore, by the advice of our Indian guide, who told us that the country was rich and good. The Chief, whose name was Mathiabo, soon came down to us, but seemed to be a total stranger both to us and to our trade: his subjects, however, brought page 17 us plenty of cocoa-nuts, and about twenty bread fruit. The bread-fruit we bought at a very dear rate, but his, excellency sold us a pig for a glass bottle, which he preferred to every thing else that we could give him. We found in his possession a goose and a turkey-cock, which, we were informed, had been left upon the island by the Dolphin: they were both enormously fat, and so tame that they followed the Indians, who were fond of them to excess, wherever they went.
In a long house, in this neighbourhood, we saw what was altogether new to us. At one end of it, fastened to a semi-circular board, hung fifteen human jawbones; they appeared to be fresh, and there was not one of them that wanted a single tooth. A sight so extraordinary strongly excited our curiosity, and we made many enquiries about it; but at this time could get no information; for the people either could not or would not understand us.
When we left this place, the Chief, Mathiabo, desired leave to accompany us, which was readily granted. He continued with us the remainder of the day, and proved- very useful, by piloting us over the shoals. In the evening, we opened the bay on the north-west side of the island, which answered to that on the south-east, so as at the isthmus, or carrying place, almost to intersect the island, as I have observed before; and when we had coasted about two-thirds of it, we determined to go on more for the night. We saw a large house at some distance, which, Mathiabo informed us, belonged to one of his friends; and soon after several canoes came off to meet us, having on board some very handsome women, who, by their behaviour, seemed to have been sent to entice us on shore. As we had before resolved to take up our residence here for the night, little invitation was necessary. We found that the house belonged to the Chief of the district, whose name was WIVEROU: he received us in a very friendly manner, and ordered his people to assist us in dressing our provision, of which we had now got a tolerable stock. When our supper was ready, we were conducted into that part of the house where Wiverou was sitting, in order to eat it: Mathiabo supped with us; and Wiverou, calling for his page 18 supper at the same time, we eat our meal very sociably, and with great good humour. When it was over, we began to enquire where we were to sleep, and a part of the house was shewn us, of which we were told we might take possession for that purpose. We then sent for our cloaks, and Mr. Banks began to undress, as his custom was, and, with a precaution which he had been taught by the loss of the jackets at Atahourou, sent his clothes aboard the boat, proposing to cover himself with a piece of Indian cloth. When Mathiabo perceived what was doing, he also pretended to want a cloak; and, as he had behaved very well, and done us some service, a cloak was ordered for him. We lay down, and observed that Mathiabo was not with us; but we supposed that he was gone to bathe, as the Indians always do before they sleep. We had not waited long, however, when an Indian, who was a stranger to us, came and told Mr.Banks, that the cloak and Mathiabo had disappeared together. This man had so far gained our confidence that we did not at first believe the report; but it being soon after confirmed by Tuahow, our own Indian, we knew no time was to be lost. As it was impossible for us to pursue the thief with any hope of success, without the assistance of the people about us, Mr. Banks started up, and telling our case, required them to recover the cloak, and, to enforce his requisition,. shewed one of his pocket pistols, which he always kept about him. Upon sight of the pistol, the whole company took the alarm, and, instead of assisting to catch the thief, or recover what had been stolen, began with great precipitation to leave the place; one of them, however, was seized, upon which he immediately offered to direct the chace: I set out therefore with Mr. Banks, and though we ran all the way, the alarm had got before us, for in about ten minutes we met a man bringing back the cloak, which the thief had relinquished in great terror; and as we did not then think fit to continue the pursuit, he made his escape. When we returned, we found the house, in which there had been between two and three hundred people, entirely deserted. It being, however, soon known that we had no resentment against any body page 19 but Mathiabo, the Chief Wiverou, our host, with his wife, and many others, returned, and took up their lodging with us for the night. In this place, however, we were destined to more confusion and trouble, for about five o'clock in the morning our centry alarmed us with an account that the boat was missing: he had seen her, he said, about half an hour before, at her grappling, which was not above fifty yards from the shore; but upon hearing the found of oars, he had looked out again, and could see nothing of her. At this account we started up greatly alarmed, and ran to the water side; the morning was clear and star light, so that we could see to a considerable distance, but there was no appearance of the boat. Our situation was now such as might justify the most terrifying apprehensions; as it was a dead calm, and we could not therefore suppose her to have broken from her grappling, we had great reason to fear that the Indians had attacked her, and finding the people asleep, had succeeded in their enterprize. We were but four, with only one musquet and two pocket pistols, without a spare ball or charge of powder for either. In this state of anxiety and distress we remained a considerable time, expecting the Indians every moment to improve their advantage, when, to our unspeakable satisfaction, we saw the boat return, which had been driven from her grappling by the tide; a circumstance to which, in our confusion and surprise, we did not advert.
As soon as the boat returned, we got our breakfast, and were impatient to leave the place, left some other vexatious accident should befal us. It is situated on the north side of Tiarrabou, the south-east peninsula, or division, of the island, and at the distance of about five miles south-east from the isthmus, having a large and commodious harbour, inferior to none in the island, about which the land is very rich in produce. Notwithstanding we had had little communication with this division, the inhabitants every where received us in a friendly manner; we found the whole of it fertile and populous, and, to all appearance, in a more flourishing state than Opoureonu, though it is not above one fourth part as large.page 20
The next district in which we landed was the last in Tiarrabou, and governed by a Chief, whose name we understood to be OMOE. Omoe was building a house, and being herefore very desirous of procuring a hatchet, he would have been glad to have purchased one with any thing that he had in his possession; it. happened, however, rather unfortunately for him and us, that we had not one hatchet left in the boat. We offered to trade with nails, but he would not part with any thing in exchange for them; we therefore reimbarked, and put off our boat; but the Chief being unwilling to relinquish all hope of obtaining something from us that would be of use to him, embarked in a canoe, with his wife Whano-ouda, and followed us. After some time we took them into the boat, and when we had rowed about a league, they desired we would put ashore: we immediately complied with his request, and found some of his people, who brought down a very large hog. We were as un willing to lose the hog, as the Chief was to part with us, and indeed it was worth the best axe we had in the ship; we therefore hit upon an expedient, and told him, that if he would bring his hog to the fort at MATAVAI, the Indian name for Port Royal bay, he should have a large axe, and a nail into the bargain, for his trouble. To this proposal, after having consulted with his wife, he agreed, and gave us a large piece of his country cloth as a pledge, that he would perform his agreement, which, however, he never did.
At this place we saw a very singular curiosity: it was the figure of a man constructed of basket work, rudely made, but not ill designed; it was something more than seven feet high, and rather too bulky in proportion to its height. 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, and upon the head, where there was to be a representation of hair; upon the head also were four protuberances, three in front, and one behind, which we should have called horns, but which the Indians dignified with the name of TATE ETE, little men. The image was page 21 called Manioe, and was said to be the only one of the kind in Otaheite. They attempted to give us an explanation of its use and design, but we had not then acquired enough of their language to understand them. We learned, however, afterwards, that it was a representation of Mauwe, one of their Eatuas, or gods of the second class.
After having settled our affairs with Omoe, we proceeded on our return, and soon reached Opoureonu, the north-west peninsula. After rowing a few miles, we went on shore again, but the only thing we saw worth notice was a repository for the dead, uncommonly de corated; the pavement was extremely neat, and upon it was raised a pyramid, about five feet high, which was intireiy covered with the fruits of two plants peculiar to the country. Near the pyramid was a small image of stone, of very rude workmanship, and the first instance of carving in stone that we had seen among these people. They appeared to set a high value upon it, for it was covered from the weather by a shed, that had been erected on purpose.
We proceeded in the boat, and passed through the only harbour, on the south side of Opoureonu, that is fit for shipping. It is situated about five miles to the westward of the isthmus, between two small islands that lie near the shore, and about a mile distant from each other, and affords good anchorage in eleven and twelve fathom water. We were now not far from the district called Paparra, which belonged to our friends Oamo and Oberea, where we proposed to sleep. We went on shore about an hour before night, and found that they were both absent, having left their habitations to pay us a visit at Matavai: this, however, did not alter our purpose; we took up our quarters at the house of Oberea, which, though small, was very neat, and at this time had no inhabitant but her father, who received us with looks that bid us welcome. Having taken possession, we were willing to improve the little day-light that was left us, and therefore walked out to a point, upon which we had seen, at a distance, trees that are here called Etoa, which generally distinguish the places where these people bury the bones of their dead; their name for such burying-grounds, which are page 22 also places of worship, is MORAI. We were soon struck with the sight of an enormous pile, which, we were told, was the Morai of Oamo and Oberea, and the principal piece of Indian architecture in the island. 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 built like the small pyramidal mounts upon which we sometimes fix the pillar of a sun-dial, where each side is a flight of steps; the steps, however, at the sides were broader than those at the ends, so that it terminated not in a square of the same figure with the base, but in a ridge; like the roof of a house; there were eleven of these steps, each of which was four feet high, so that the height of the pile was forty-four feet; each step was formed of one course of white coral stone, which was neatly squared and polished; the rest of the mass, for there was no hollow within, consited of round pebbles, which, from the regularity of their figure, seemed to have been wrought. Some of the coral stones were very large; we measured one of them, and found it three feet and an half by two feet and an half. The foundation was of rock stones, which were also squared, and one of them measured four feet seven inches by two feet four. Such a structure, raised without the assistance of iron tools to shape the stones, or mortar to join them, struck as with astonishment: it seemed to be as compact and firm as it could have been made by any workman in Europe, except that the steps, which range along its greatest length, are not perfectly straight, but sink in a kind of hollow in the middle, so that the whole surface, from end to end, is not a right line, but a curve. The quarry-stones, as we saw no quarry in the neighbourhood, must have been brought from considerable distance, as there is no method of conveyance here but by the hand; the coral must also have been fished for from under the water, where, though it may be found in plenty, it lies at a considerable depth, never less than three feet. Both the rock stone and the coral could be squared only by tools made of the same substance, which must have been a work of incredible labour; but the polishing was more easily effected by means of the sharp coral sand, which is found every where page 23 upon the sea-shore in great abundance. In the middle of the top stood the image of a bird, carved in wood; and near it lay the broken one of a fish, carved in stone. The whole of this pyramid made part of one side of a spacious area or square, nearly of equal sides, being three hundred and sixty feet by three hundred and fifty-four, which was walled in with stone, and paved with flat stones in its whole extent; though there were growing in it, notwithstanding the pavement, several of the trees which they call Etoa, and plantains. About an hundred yards to the west of this building, was another paved area or court, in which were several small stages raised on wooden pillars, about seven seet high, which are called by the Indian Ewattas, and seem to be a kind of altars, as upon these are placed provisions of all kinds, as offerings to the gods; we have since seen whole hogs placed upon them, and we found here the skulls of above fifty, besides the skulls of a great number of dogs.
The principal object of ambition among these peopleis to have a magnificent Morai, and this was a striking memorial of the rank and power of Oberea. It has been remarked, that we did not find her invested with the same authority that she exercised when the Dolphin was at this place, and we now learnt the reason of it. Our way from her house to the Morai lay along the sea side, and we observed every where under our feet a great number of human bones, chiesly ribs and vertebrae. Upon enquiring into the cause of so singular an appearance, we were told, that in the then last month of Owarahew, which answered to our December, 1768, about four or five months before our arrival, the people of Tiarrabou, the S. E. peninsula which we had just visited, made a descent at this place, and killed a great number of the people, whose bones were those that we saw upon the shore: that, upon this occasion, Oberea, and Oamo, who then administered the government for his son, had fled to the mountains; and that the conquerors burnt all the houses, which were very large, and carried away the hogs and what other animals they found. We learnt also, that the turkey and goose, which we had seen when we were with Mathiabo, the stealer of cloaks, page 24 were among the spoils; this accounted for their being found among people with whom the Dolphin had little or no communication; and upon mentioning the jawbones, which we had seen hanging from a board in a long house, we were told, that they also had been carried away as trophies, the people here carrying away the jaw-bones of their enemies, as the Indians of North America do the scalps.
After having thus gratified our curiosity, we returned to our quarters, where we passed the night in perfect security and quiet. By the next evening we arrived at Atthourou, the residence of our friend Tootahah, where, the last time we passed the night under his protection, we had been obliged to leave the best part of our clothes behind us. This adventure, however, seemed now to be forgotten on both sides. Our friends received us with great pleasure, and gave us a good supper and a good lodging, where we suffered neither loss or disturbance.
The next day, Saturday, July the 1st, we got back to our fort at Matavia, having found the circuit of the island, including both peninsulas, to be about thirty leagues. Upon our complaining of the want of bread-fruit, we were told, that the produce of the last season was nearly exhausted; and that what was seen sprouting upon the trees, would not be fit to use in less than three months; this accounted for our having been able to procure so little of it in our route.
While the bread-fruit is ripening upon the flats, the inhabitants are supplied in some measure from the trees which they have planted upon the hills to proserve a succession; but the quantity is not sufficient to prevent scarcity: they live therefore upon the four paste which they call Mahie, upon wild plantains, and ahee nuts, which at this time are in perfection. How it happened that the Dolphin, which was here at this season, found such plenty of bread-fruit upon the trees, I cannot tell, except the season in which they ripen varies.
At our return, our Indian friends crowded about us, and none of them came empty-handed. Though I had determined to restore the canoes which had been page 25 detained to their owners, it had not yet been done; but I now released them as they were applied for. Upon this occasion I could not but remark, with concern, that these people were capable of practising petty frauds against each other, with a deliberate dishonesty, which gave me a much worse opinion of them than I had ever entertained from the robberies they committed under the strong temptation to which a sudden opportunity of enriching themselves with the ineslimable metal and manufactures of Europe exposed them.
Among others who applied to me for the release of a canoe, was one POTATTOW, a man of some conse-quence, well known to us all. I consented, supposing the vessel to be his own, or that he applied on the behalf of a friend: he went immediately to the beach, and took possession of one of the boats, which, with the assistance of his people, he began to carry off. Upon this, however, it was eagerly claimed by the right owners, who, supported by the other Indians, clamorously reproached him for invading their property, and prepared to take the canoe from him by force. Upon this he desired to be heard, and told them, that the canoe did, indeed, once belong to those who claimed it; but that I, having seized it as a forfeit, had sold it to him for a pig. This silenced the clamour, the owners, knowing that from my power there was no appeal, acquiesced; and Potattow would have carried off his prize, if the dispute had not fortunately been overheard by some of our people, who reported it to me. I gave orders immediately that the Indians should be undeceived; upon which the right owners took possession of their canoe, and Potattow was so conscious of his guilt, that neither he nor his wife, who was privy to his knavery, could look us in the face for some time afterwards.