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 Expedition of Mr. Banks to trace the River: Marks of subterraneous Fire: Preparations for leaving the Island: An Account of Tupia.
On the 3d, Mr. Banks, set out early in the morning, with some Indian Guides, to trace our River up the valley from which it istues, and examine' how far its banks were inhabited. For about six miles they met with houses, not. far distant from each other, on each side of the river, and the valley was every where about four hundred yards wide, from the foot of the hill on one side, to the foot of that on the other; but they were now shewn a house. which they were, told was the last that they would see. When they came up to it, the master of it offered them refresh-ments of cocoa nuts and other fruit, of which they accepted; after a short stay, they walked forward for a considerable time; in bad way it is not easy to compute distances, but they imagined that they had walked about six miles farther, following the course of the river, when they frequently passed under vaults, formed by fragments of the rock, in which they were told people who were benighted frequently passed the night. Soon after they found the river banked by steep rocks, from which a cascade falling with great violence, form ed a pool, so steep, that the Indians said they could not pass it. They seemed, indeed, not much to be acquainted with the valley beyond this place, their business lying chiefly upon the declivity of the rocks on each side, and the plains which extended on their summits, where they found plenty of wild plantain, which they called Vae. The way up these rocks from the banks of the river was in every respect dreadful; the sides were nearly perpendicular, and in some places one hundred feet high; they were also rendered exceedingly slippery by the water of innumerable springs which issued from the fissures on the surface; yet up these precipices a way was to be traced by a succession of long pieces of the bark of the Hibiscus tiliaceus, which served as a rope for the climber to take page 27 hold of, and assisted him in scrambling from one ledge to another, though upon these ledges there was footing only for an Indian or goat. One of these ropes was nearly thirty feet in length, and their guides offered to assist them in mounting this pass, but recommended another, at a little distance lower down, as less difficult and dangerous. They took a view of this “better way,” but found it so bad that they did not choose to attempt it, as there was nothing at the top to reward their toil and hazard but a grove of the wild plantain or Vae tree, which they had often seen before.
During this excursion, Mr. Banks had an excellent opportunity to examine the rocks, which were almost every where naked, for minerals; but he found not the least appearance of any. The stones every where, like those of Madeira, shewed manifest tokens of having been burned; nor is there a single specimen of any stone, among all those that were collected in the island, upon which there are not manifest and indubitable marks of fire, except perhaps some small pieces of the hatchet-stone, and even of that, other fragments were collected, which are burned almost to a pumice. Traces of fire are also manifest in the very clay upon the hills; and it may, therefore, not unreasonably be supposed, that this, and the neighbonring islands, are either Shattered remains of a continent, which some have supposed to be necessary in this part of the globe, to preserve an equilibrium of its parts, which were left behind when the rest sunk, by the mining of a subterraneous fire, so as to give a passage to the sea over it; or were torn from rocks, which, from the creation of the world, had been the bed of the sea, and thrown up in heaps, to a height which the waters never reach. One or other of these suppositions will, perhaps, be thought the more probable, as the water does not gradually grow shallow, as the shore is approached, and the islands are almost every where surrounded by reefs, which appear to be rude and broken, as some violent concussion would naturally leave the solid substance of the earth. It may also be remarked, upon this occasion, that the most probable cause of earthquakes seems to be the sudden rushing in of water upon some vast page 28 mass of subterraneous fire, by the instantaneous rare-faction of which into vapour, the mine is sprung, and various substances, in all stages of vitrification, with shells, and other marine productions, that are now found fossil, and the strata that covered the furnace, are thrown up; while those parts of the land which were supported upon the broken shell give way, and sink into the gulph. With this theory the phænomena of all earthquakes seem to agree; pools of water are frequently left where land has subsided, and various substances, which manifestly appear to have suffered by the action of fire, are thrown up. It is indeed true, that fire cannot subsist without air; but this cannot be urged against there being fire below that part of the earth which forms the bed of the sea; because there may be innumerable fissures by which a communication between those parts and the external air may be kept up, even upon the highest mountains, and at the greatest distance from the sea-shore.
On the 4th, Mr. Banks employed himself in plantinga great quantity of the feeds of water-melons, oranges, lemons, limes, and other plants and trees which he had collected at Rio de Janeiro. For these he prepared ground on each side of the fort, with as many varieties of foil as he could choose; and there is little doubt but that they will succeed. He also gave liberally of these feeds to the Indians, and planted many of them in the woods: some of the melon seeds having been planted soon after our arrival, the natives shewed him several of the plants, which appeared to be in a most flourishing condition, and were continually asking him for more.
We now began to prepare for our departure, by bending the sails and performing other necessary operations on board the ship, our water being already on board, and the provisions examined. In the mean time we had another visit from Oamo, Oberea, and their Ion and daughter; the Indians expressing their respect by uncovering the upper parts of their body, as they had done before. The daughter, whose name we understood to be TOIMATA, was very desirous to see the fort, but her father would by no means suffer her to come in. Tearee. the son of Waheatua. the sove- page 29 reign of Tiarrabou, the south-east peninsula, was also with us at this time; and we received intelligence of the landing of another guest, whose company was neither expected nor desined; this was no other than the ingenious gentleman who contrived to steal our quadrant. We were told, that he intended to try his fortune again in the night; but the Indians all offered very zealously to assist us against him, desiring that, for this purpose, they might be permitted to lie in the fort. This had so good an effect, that the thief relinquished his enterprize in despair.
On the 7th, the carpenters were employed in taking down the gates and pallisadoes of our little fortification, for fire-wood on board the ship; and one of the Indians bad dexterity enough to steal the staple and book upon which the gate turned; he was immediately pursued, and after a chace of six miles he appeared to have been passed, having concealed himself among some rushes in the brook; the rushes were searched, and tho' the thief had escaped, a scraper was found, which had been stolen from the ship some time before; and soon after our old friend Tubourai Tamaide brought us the staple.
On the 8th and 9th, we continued to dismantle our fort, and our friends still flocked about us; some, I believe, sorry at the approach of our departure, and others desirous to make as much as they could of us while we stayed.
We were in hopes that we should now leave the island, without giving or receiving any other offence; but it unfortunately happened otherwise. Two foreign seamen having been out with my permission, one of them was robbed of his knife, and endeavouring to recover it, probably with circumstances of great provocation, the Indians attacked him, and dangerously wounded him with a stone; they wounded his companions also slightly in the head, and then fled into the mountains. As I should have been sorry to take any farther notice of the affair, I was not displeased that the offenders had escaped, but I was immediately involved in a quarrel which I very much regretted, and which yet it was not possible to avoid.page 30
In the middle of the night between the 8th and 9th, Clement Webb and Samuel Gibson, two of the marines, both young men, went privately from the fort, and in the morning were not to be found. As public notice had been given, that all hands were to go on board on the next day, and that the ship would sail on the morrow of that day or the day following, I began to fear that the absentees intended to stay behind. I knew that I could take no effectual steps to recover them, without endangering the harmony and good-will which at present subsisted among us; and, therefore, determined to wait a day for the chance of their return.
On Monday morning the 10th, the marines, to my great concern, not being returned, an enquiry was made after them of the Indians, who frankly told us, that they did not intend to return, and had taken refuge in the mountains, where it was impossible for our people to find them. They were then requested to assist in the search, and, after, some deliberation, two of them undertook to conduct such persons as I should think proper to send after them to the place of their retreat. As they were known to be without arms, I thought two would be sufficient, and accordingly dispatched a petty officer, and the corporal of the marines, with the Indian guides, to fetch them back. As the recovery of these men was a matter of great importance, as I had no time to lose, and as the Indians spoke doubtfully of their return, telling us, that they had each of them taken a wife, and were become inhabitants of the country, it was intimated to several of the Chiefs who were in the fort with their women, among whom were Tubourai Tamaide, Tomio, and Oberea, that they would not be permitted to leave it till our deserters were brought back. This precaution I thought the more necessary, as, by concealing them a few days, they might compel me to go without them; and I had the pleasure to observe, that they received the intimation with very little signs either of fear or discontent; assuring me that my people should be secured and sent back as soon as possible. While this was doing at the fort, I sent Mr. Hicks in the pinnace to fetch Tootahah on board the ship, which he did, without alarming either him or his page 31 people. If the Indian guides proved faithful and in earnest, I had reason to expect the return of my people, with the deserters before evening. Being disappointed, my suspicions increased; and night coming on, I thought it was not safe to let the people whom I had detained as hostages continue at the fort, and I therefore ordered Tubourai Tamaide, Oberea, and some others, to be taken on board the ship. This spread a general alarm, and several of them, especially the women, expressed their apprehensions with great emotion and many tears, when they were put into the boat. I went on board with them, and Mr. Banks remained on shore, with some others whom I thought it of less consequence to secure.
About nine o'clock, Webb was brought back by some of the natives, who declared, that Gibson, and the petty officer and corporal would be detained till Tootahah should be set at liberty. The tables were now turned upon me; but I had proceeded too far to retreat. I immediately dispatched Mr. Hicks in the long-boat, with a strong party of men, to rescue the prisoners, and told Tootahah that it behoved him to send some of his people with them, with orders to afford them effectual assistance, and to demand the release of my men in his name, for that I should expect him to answer for the contrary. He readily complied; this party recovered my men without the least opposition, and, about seven o'clock in the morning, returned with them to the ship, though they had not been able to recover the arms which had been taken from them when they were seized: these, however, were brought on board in less than half an hour, and the Chiefs were immediately set at liberty.
When I questioned the petty officer concerning what had happened on more, be told me, that neither the natives who went with him, nor those whom they met in their way, would give them any intelligence of the deserters; but, on the contrary, became very troublesome: that as he was returning for further orders to the ship, he and his comrade were suddenly seized by a number of armed men, who having learned that Tootahah was confined, had concealed themselves in a wood for that purpose, and, who having taken them at a disadvantage, forced their weapons out of their page 32 hands, and declared, that they would detain them till their Chief should be set at liberty. He said, however, that the Indians were not unanimous in this measure; that some were for setting them at liberty, and others for detaining them: that an eager dispute ensued, and that from words they came to blows, but that the party for detaining them at length prevailed: that soon after, Webb and Gibson were brought in by a party of the natives, as prisoners, that they also might be secured as hostages for the Chief; but that it was after some debate resolved to send Webb to infrom me of their resolution, to assure me that his companions were safe, and direct me where I might send my answer. Thus it appears that whatever were the disadvantages of seizing the Chiefs, I should never have recovered my men by any other method. When the Chiefs were set on shore from the ship, those at the fort were also set at liberty, and, after staying with Mr. Banks about an hour, they all went away. Upon this occasion, as they had done upon another of the same kind, they expressed their joy by an undeserved liberality, strongly urging us to accept of four hogs. These we absolutely refused as a present, and they as absolutely refusing to be paid for them, the hogs did not change masters. Upon examining the deserters, we found that the account which the Indians had given of them was true: they had strongly attached themselves to two girls, and it was their intention to conceal themselves till the ship had sailed, and take up their residence upon the island. This night every thing was got off from the shore, and every body slept on board.
Among the natives who were most constantly with us, was Tupia, whose name has been often mentioned in this narrative. He had been, as I have before observed, the first minister of Oberea, when she was in the height of her power: he was also the chief Tahowa or Priest of the island, consequently well acquainted with the religion of the country, as well with respect to its ceremonies as principles. He had also great experience and knowledge in navigation, and was particularly acquainted with the number and situation of the neighbouring islands. This man had often expressed a desire to go with us, and on the 12th in the page 33 morning, having with the other natives left us the day before, be came on board, with a boy about thirteen years of age, his servant, and urged us to let him proceed with us on our voyage. To have such a person on board, was certainly desirable for many reasons; by learning his language, and teaching him ours, we should be able to acquire a much better knowledge of the custom, policy, and religion of the people, than our short stay among them could give us; I therefore gladly agreed to receive them on board. As we were prevented from sailing to-day, by having found it necessary to make new stocks to our small and best bower anchors, the old ones having been totally destroyed by the worms, Tupia said he would go once more on shore, and make a signal for the boat to fetch him off in the evening. He went accordingly, and took with him a miniature picture of Mr. Banks's, to show his friends, and several little things to give them as parting presents.
After dinner, Mr. Banks being desirous to procure a drawing, of the Merai belonging to Tootahah at Eparré, I attended him thither, accompanied by Dr. Solander, in the pinnace. As soon as we landed, many of our friends came to meet us, though some absented themselves in resentment of what had happened the day before. We immediately proceeded to Too tahah's house, where we were joined by Oberea, with several others who had not come out to meet us, and a perfect reconciliation was soon brought about; in consequence of which they promised to visit us early the next day, to take a last farewell of us, as we told them we should certainly set sail in the afternoon. At this place also we sound Tupia, who returned with us, and slept this night on board the ship for the first time.
On the next morning, Thursday the 13th of July, the ship was very early crowded with our friends, and surrounded by a multitude of canoes, which were filled with the natives of an inferior class. Between eleven and twelve we weighed anchor, and as soon as the ship was under sail, the Indians on board took their leave, and wept, with a decent and silent sorrow, in which there was something very striking and tender: the people in the canoes, on the contrary, seemed to vie page 34 with each other in the boldness of their lamentations, which we considered rather as affectation than grief. Tupia sustained himself in this scene with a sirmnesand resolution truly admirable: he wept indeed, but the effort that he made to conceal his tears concurred, with them, to do him honour. He sent his last present, a shirt, by Otheothea, to Potomai, Tootahah's favourite mistress, and then went with Mr. Banks to the masthead, waving to the canoes as long as they continued in fight.
Thus we took leave of Otaheite, and its inhabitants, after a stay of just three months; for much the greater part of the time we lived together in the most cordial friendship, and a perpetual reciprocation of good offices. The accidental differences which now and then happened, could not be more sincerely regretted on their part than they were on ours: the principal causes were such as necessarily resulted from our situation and circumstances, in conjunction with the infirmities of human nature, from our not being able perfectly to understand each other, and from the disposition of the inhabitants to thest, which we could not at all times bear with or prevent. They had not however, except in one instance, been attended with any fatal consequence; and to that accident were owing the measures that I took to prevent others of the same kind. I hoped, indeed, to have availed myself of the impression which had been made upon them by the lives that had been sacrificed in their contest with the Dolphin, so as that the intercourse between us should have been carried on wholly without bloodshed; and by this hope all my measures were directed during the whole of my continuance at the island, and I sincerely wish, that whoever shall next visit it, may be still more fortunate. Our traffic here was carried on with as much order as in the best regulated market in Europe. It was managed principally by Mr. Banks, who was indefatigable in procuring provisiton and resreshments while they were to be had; but during the latter part of our time they became scarce, partly by the increased consumption at the fort and ship, and partly by the coming on of the season in which cocoa-nuts and bread-fruit sail. All kind of fruit we pur- page 35 chased for beads and nails, but no nails less than forty-penny were current: after a very short time we could never get a pig of more than ten or twelve pounds, for less than a hatchet; because, tho' these people set a high value upon spike-nails, yet these being an article with which many people in the ship were provided, the women found a much more easy way of procuring them than by bringing down provisions.
The best articles for traffic here are axes, hatchets, spikes, large nails, looking-glasses, knives, and beads, for some of which every thing that the natives have may be procured. They are indeed fond of fine line-cloth, both white and printed; but an axe worth half a crown will fetch more than a piece of cloth worth twenty shillings.