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]
The Range from Tolaga to Mercury-Bay, with an Account of many Incidents that happened both on board and a-shore. A Description of several Views exhibited by the Country, and of the Heppahs, or forfeited Villages of the Inbatitants.
On Monday the 30th, about half an hour after one o'clock, having made sail again to the northward for about ten hours, with a light breeze, I hauled round a small island, which lay east one mile from the north-east point of the land: from this place I found the land trend away N. W. by W. and W. N. W. as far as I could see. This point being the eastermost land on the whole coast, I gave it the name of East Cape, and I called the island that lies off it the East Island; it is of a small circuit, high and round, and appears white and barren; the Cape is high with white cliffs, and lies in latitude 37° 42′ 30″ S. and longitude 181°W. The land from Tolaga Bay to East Cape is of a moderate, but unequal height, forming several small bays, in which are sandy beaches: of the inland country we could not see much, the weather being cloudy and hazy. The soundings were from twenty to thirty fathom at the distance of about a league from the shore. After we had rounded the Cape, we saw in our run along the shore a great number of villages, and much cultivated land; the country in general appeared more fertile than before, and was low near the sea, but hilly within. At six in the evening, being four leagues to the westward of East Cape, we passed a bay which was first discovered by Lieutenant Hicks, and which therefore I called Hicks's Bay. At eight in the evening, being eight leagues to the westward of the Cape, and three or four miles from the shore, I shortened sail and brought to for the night, having at this time page 150 a fresh gale at S. S. E. and squally; but it soon became moderate, and at two in the morning, we made sail again to the S. W. as the land now trended; and at eight o'clock in the morning saw land, which made like an island, bearing west, the south-westermost part of the main bearing south-west; and about nine no less than five canoes came off, in which were more than forty men, all armed with their country pikes and battle-axes, shouting, and threatening an attack: this gave us great uneasiness, and was indeed what we did not expect; for we hoped, that the report both of our power and clemency had spread to a greater extent. When one of these canoes had almost reached the ship, another, of an immense size, the largest we had yet seen, crowded with people who were also armed, put off from the shore, and came up at a great rate; as it approached it received signals from the canoe that was nearest to the ship, and we could see that it had sixteen, paddles on a side, beside people that sat, and others that stood in a row from stem to stern, being in all about sixty men: as they made directly to the ship, we were desirous of preventing an attack, by shewing what we could do; and therefore fired a gun, loaded with grape shot, a-head of them; this made them stop, but not retreat; a round shot was then fired over them, and upon seesing it fall, they seized their paddles and made towards the shore with such precipitation, that they seemed scarcely to allow themselves time to breathe. In the evening, three or four more canoes came off unarmed; but they would not venture within a musquet shot of the vessel. The cape, off which we had been threatened with hostilities, I called, from the hasty retreat of the enemy, Cape Runaway. It lies in latitude 37° 32′; longitude 181° 48′. In this day's run, we found that the land, which made like an island in the morning, bearing west, was so; and we gave it the name of White Island.
At day-break, on the first of Nov. we counted no less than five and forty canoes that were coming from the shore towards the ship: seven of them came up with us, and after some conversation with Tupia, sold us some lobsters and muscles, and two conger-eels. These people traded pretty fairly: but when they were gone, page 151 some others came off from another place, who began also to trade fairly; but after some time they took what was handed down to them, without making any return; one of them who had done so, upon being threatened, began to laugh, and with many marks of derision set us at defiance, at the same time putting off the canoe from the ship: a musquet was then fired over his head, which brought him back in a more serious mood, and trade went on with great regularity. At length, when the cabin and gun room had got as much as they wanted, the men were allowed to come to the gang-way, and trade for themselves. Unhappily the same care was not taken to prevent frauds as had been taken before, so that the Indians, finding that they could cheat with impunity, grew insolent again, and proceeded to take greater liberties. One of the canoes, having sold every thing on board, pulled forward, and the people that were in her seeing some linen hang over the ship's side to dry, one of them, without any ceremony, untied it, and put it up in his bundle: he was immediately called to, and required to return it; instead of which, he let his canoe drop a-stern, and laughed at us: a musquet was fired over his head, which did not put a stop to his mirth; another was then fired at him with small shot, which struck him upon the back; he shrunk a little when the shot hit him, but did not regard it more than one of our menwould have done the stroke of a rattan; he continued with great composure to pack up the linen that he had stolen. All the canoes now dropped a-stern about a hundred yards, and all set up their song of defiance, which they continued till the ship was distant from them about four hundred yards. As they seemed to have no design to attack us, I was not willing to do them any hurt; yet I thought their going off in a bravado might have a bad effect when it should be reported a-shore. To shew them therefore that they were still in our power, though very much beyond the reach of any missile weapon with which they were acquainted, I gave the ship a yaw, and fired a four pounder so as to pass near them. The shot happened to strike the water, and rise several times at a great distance beyond the canoes: this struck them with terror, page 152 and they paddled away without once looking behind them.
About two in the afternoon, we saw a pretty high island, bearing west from us; and at five, saw more islands and rocks to the westward of that. We hauled our wind in order to go with them, but could not weather them before it was dark. I therefore bore up, and ran between them and the main. At seven, I was close under the first, from which a large double canoe, or rather two canoes lashed together at the distance of about a foot, and covered with boards so as to make a deck, put off, and made sail for the ship: this was the first vessel of the kind that we had seen since we left the South Sea islands. When she came near, the people on board entered very freely into conversation with Tupia, and we thought shewed a friendly disposition; but when it was just dark, they ran their canoe close to the ship's side, and threw in a volley of stones, after which they paddled a-shore.
We learnt from Tupia, that the people in the canoe called the ill and which we were under Mowtohora: it is but of a small circuit, though high, and lies six miles from the main: on the south side is anchorage in fourteen fathom water. Upon the main land S. W. by W. of this island, and apparently at nogreat distance from the sea, is a high, round mountain, which I called Mount Edgecombe: it stands in the middle of a large plain, and is therefore the more conspicuous; latitude 37° 59′, longitude 193′ 7′.
In standing westward, we suddenly shoaled our water from seventeen to ten fathom; and knowing that we were not far from the small islands and rocks which we had seen before dark, and which I intended to have passed before I brought to for the night, I thought it more prudent to tack, and spend the night under Mowtohora, where I knew there was no danger. It was indeed happy for us that we did so; for in the morning, after we had made sail to the westward, we discovered, a-head of us, several rocks, some of which were level with the surface of the water, and some below it: they lay N. N. E. from Mount Edgecombe, one league and a half distant from the island Mowtohora, and about nine miles from the main. We passed between page 153 these rocks and the main, having from ten to seven fathom water.
This morning, many canoes and much people were seen along the shore; several of the canoes followed us, but none of them could reach us, except one with a sail, which proved to be the same that had pelted us the night before. The people on board again entered into a conversation with Tupia; but we expected another volley of their ammunition, which was not indeed dangerous to any thing but the cabin windows. They continued a-breast of the ship about an hour, and behaved very peaceably; but at last the salute which we expected was given; we returned it by firing a musquet over them, and they immediately dropped a-stern and left us, perhaps rather satisfied with having given a test of their courage, by twice insulting a vessel so much superior to their own, than intimidated by the shot.
At half an hour after ten, we passed between a low flat island and the main: the distance from one to the other was about four miles, and the depth of water from ten to twelve fathom. The main land between this flat island and Mowtohora is of a moderate height, but level, pretty clear of wood, and full of plantations and villages. The villages, which were larger than any we had yet seen, were built upon eminences near the sea, and fortified on the land side by a bank and ditch, with a high paling within it, which was carried all round; beside a bank, ditch, and pallisadoes, some of them appeared to have out-works. Tupia had a notion that the small inclosures of pallisadoes, and a ditch that we had seen before, were Morais, or places of worship; but were of opinion that they were forts, and concluded that these people had neighbouring enemies, and were always exposed to hostile attacks.
At two o'clock, we passed a small high island, lying four miles from a high round head upon the main. From this head the land trends N. W. as far as can be seen, and has a rugged and hilly appearance. As the weather was hazy, and the wind blew fresh on the shore, we hauled off for the weathermost island in page 154 sight, which bore from us N. N. E. distant about six or seven leagues.
Under this island, which I have called the Mayor, we spent the night. At seven in the morning it bore S. 47 E. distant six leagues, and a cluster of small islands and rocks bore N. ½ E. distant one league, to which I gave the name of the Court of Aldermen. They lie in the compass of about half a league every way, and five leagues from the main, between which and them lie other islands, most of them barren rocks, of which there is great variety; some of them are as small in compass as the Monument of London, but rise to a much greater height, and some of them are inhabited. They lie in latitude 36° 57′, and at noon bore S. 60 E. distant three or four leagues, and a rock, like a castle, lying not fat from the main, bore N. 40 W. at the distance of one league, The country, that we passed the night before, appeared to be well inhabited, many towns were in sight, and some hundreds of large canoes lay under them upon the beach; but this day, after having failed about fifteen leagues, it appeared to be barren and desolate. As far as we had yet coasted this country, from Cape Turnagain, the people acknowledge one Chief, whom they call Teratu, and to whose residence they pointed, in a direction that we thought to be very far inland, but afterwards found to be otherwise.
About one o'clock, three canoes came off to us from the main, with one and-twenty men on board. The construction of these vessels appeared to be more simple than that of any we had seen, they being nothing more than trunks of a single tree hollowed by fire, without any convenience or ornament. The people on board were almost naked, and appeared to be of a browner complexion; yet, naked and despicable as they were, they sung their song of defiance, and seemed to denounce against us inevitable destruction. They remained, however, some time out of stones-throw, and then venturing nearer, with less appearance of hostility, one of our men went to the ship's side, and was about to hand them a rope; this courtesy, however, they thought fit to return by throwing a lance at him, which page 155 having missed him, they immediately threw another into the ship; upon this a musquet was fired over them, which at once sent them away.
About two, we saw a large opening, or inlet, for which we bore up: we had now forty-one fathom water, which gradually decreased to nine, at which time we were one mile and an half distant from a high towered rock, which lay near the south point of the inlet; this rock, and the northermost of the Court of Aldermen being in one, bearing S. 61 E.
About seven in the evening, we anchored in seven fathom, a little within the south entrance of the bay. To this place we were accompanied by several canoes, and the people like those we had seen last, and for some time they behaved very civilly. While they were hovering about us, a bird was shot from the ship, as it was swimming upon the water: at this they shewed less surprize than we expected, and taking up the bird they tied it to a fishing-line, that was towing a-stern; as an acknowledgment for this favour we gave them a piece of cloth. But notwithstanding this effect of our fire-arms, and this interchange of civilities, as soon as it grew dark they sung their war song, and attempted to tow away the buoy of the anchor. Two or three muskets were then fired over them, but this seemed rather to make them angry than afraid, and they went away, threatening that to-morrow they would return with more force, and be the death of us all; at the same time sending off a boat, which they told us was going to another part of the bay for assistance.
There was some appearance of generosity, as well as courage, in acquainting us with the time when they intended to make their attack; but they forfeited all credit which this procured them, by coming secretly upon us in the night, when they certainly hoped to find us asleep: upon approaching the ship they found themselves mistaken, and therefore retired without speaking a word, supposing that they were too early; after some time they came a second time, and being again disappointed, they retired as silently as before.
In the morning, at day-break, they prepared to effect by force what they had in vain attempted by stealth and artifice; no less than twelve canoes came against page 156 us, with about a hundred and fifty men, all armed with pikes, lances, and stones. As they could do nothing till they came very near the ship, Tupia was ordered to expostulate with them, and, if possible, divert them from their purpose. During the conversation, they appeared to be sometimes friendly, and sometimes other-wise; at length, however, they began to trade, and we offered to purchase their weapons, which some of them consented to sell. They sold two very fairly, but having received what had been agreed upon for the purchase of a third, they refused to send it up, but offered it for a second price; a second was sent down, but the weapon was still detained, and a demand made of a third; this being refused, with some expressions of displeasure and resentment, the offender, with many ludicrous tokens of contempt and defiance, paddled his canoe off a few yards from the ship. As I intended to continue in this place five or six days, in order to make an observation of the transit of Mercury, it was absolutely necessary, in order to prevent future mischief, to shew these people that we were not to be treated ill with impunity; some small shot were therefore fired at the thief, and a musket ball through the bottom of his boat; upon this it was paddled to about a hundred yards distance, and, to our great surprize, the people in the other canoes took not the least notice of their wounded companion, though he bled very much, but returned to the ship, and continued to trade with the most perfect indifference and unconcern. They sold us many more of their weapons, without making any other attempt to defraud us for a considerable time; at last, however, one of them thought fit to paddle away with two different pieces of cloth, which had been given for the same weapon; when he had got about an hundred yards distance, and thought himself secure of his prize, a musket was fired after him, which fortunately struck the boat just at the water's edge, and made two holes in her side; this only incited them to ply their paddles with greater activity, and the rest of the canoes also made off with the utmost expedition. As the last proof of our superiority, therefore, we fired a round shot over them, and not a boat stopped till they got on shore.page 157
About ten o'clock, I went with two boats to sound the bay, and look out for a more convenient anchoring place, the master being in one boat, and myself in the other. We pulled first over to the north shore, from which some canoes came out to meet us; as we advanced, however, they retired, inviting us to follow them; but, feeing them well armed, I did not think it proper to comply, but went towards the head of the bay, where I observed a village upon a very high point, fortified in the manner that has been already described, and having fixed upon an anchoring-place not far from where the ship lay, I returned on board.
At three o'clock in the afternoon I weighed, run in nearer to the shore, and anchored in four fathom and an half water, with a soft sandy bottom, the south point of the bay bearing E. distant one mile, and a river which the boats can enter at low-water S. S .E. distant one mile and an half.
In the morning, the natives came off again to the ship, and we had the satisfaction to observe that their behaviour was very different from what it had been yesterday. Among them was an old man, whom we had before remarked for his prudence and honesty; his name was Toiava, and he seemed to be a person of a superior rank. In the transactions of yesterday morning he had behaved with greater propriety and good sense, lying in a small canoe, always near the ship, and treating those on board as if he neither intended a fraud nor suspected an injury: with some persuasion this man and another came on board, and ventured into the cabin, where I presented each of them with a piece of English cloth and some spike-nails. They told us, that the Indians were now very much afraid of us; and, on our part, we promised friendship if they would behave peaceably, desiring only to purchase what they had to sell upon their own terms.
After the natives had left us, I went with the pinnace and long-boat into the river with a design to haul the seine, and sent the master in the yawl to sound the bay, and dredge for fish. The Indians who were on one side of the river, expressed their friendship by all the signs they could devise, beckoning us to land among them; but we chose to go a-shore on the other side, as the page 158 situation was more convenient for hauling the seine and shooting birds, of which they saw great numbers of various kinds. The Indians, with much persuasion about noon ventured over to us. With the seine we had very little success, catching only a few mullets; neither did we get any thing by the trawl or the dredge, except a few shells; but we shot several birds, most of them resembling sea-pies, except that they had black plumage and red bills and feet. While we were absent with our guns, the people who slayed with the boats saw two of the Indians quarrel and fight; they began the battle with their lances, but some old men interposed and took them away, leaving them to decide the difference, like Englishmen, with their fists. They boxed with great vigour and obstinacy for some time, but by degrees all retired behind a little hill, so that our people could not see the event of the combat.
In the morning, the long-boat was sent again to trawl in the bay, and an officer, with the marines and a party of men, to cut wood and haul the seine. The Indians on shore appeared very peaceable and submissive, and we had reason to believe that their habitations were at a considerable distance, for we saw no houses, and found that they slept under the bushes. The bay is probably a place to which they frequently resort in parties to gather shell-fish, of which it affords incredible plenty; for wherever we went, whether upon the hills or in the vallies, the woods or the plains, we saw vast heaps of shells, often many waggon-loads together, some appearing to be very old, and others recent. We saw no cultivation in this place, which had a desolate and barren appearance; the tops of the hills were green, but nothing grew there except a large kind of fern, the roots of which the natives had got together in large quantities, in order to carry away with them. In the evening Mr. Banks walked up the river, which at the mouth looked fine and broad, but at the distance of about two miles was not broad enough to cover the foot, and the country inland was still more barren than at the sea-side. The seine and dredge were not more successful to-day than yesterday; but the Indians in some measure compensated for the disappointment, by bringing page 159 us several baskets of fish, some dry, and some fresh dressed; it was not indeed of the best, but I ordered it all to be bought, for the encouragement of trade.
On the 7th, the weather was so bad that none of us left the ship, nor did any of the Indians come on board.
On the 8th, I sent a party of men on shore to wood and water; and in the mean time many canoes came off, in one of which was our friend Toiava; soon after he was along-side of the ship, he saw two canoes coming from the opposite side of the bay, upon which he hasted back again to the shore with all his canoes, telling us that he was afraid of the people who were coming. This was a further proof that the people of this country were continually committing hostilities against each other. In a short time, however, he returned, having discovered that the people who had alarmed him were not the same that he had supposed. The natives that came to the ship this morning sold us, for a few pieces of cloth, as much fish, of the mackerel kind, as served the whole ship's company, and they were as good as ever were eaten. At noon, this day, I observed the sun's meridional zenith distance by an astronomical quadrant, which gave the latitude 36° 47′ 43″ within the south entrance of the bay.
Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander went on shore and collected a great variety of plants, altogether unknown, and, not returning till the evening, had an opportunity of observing in what manner the Indians disposed themselves to pass the night. They had no shelter but a few shrubs; the women and the children were ranged innermost, or farthest from the sea; the men lay in a kind of half circle round them, and their arms were set up against the trees close by them, in a manner which shewed that they were afraid of an attack by some enemy not far distant. It was also discovered, that they acknowledged neither Teratu, nor any other person as their king. As in this particular they differed from all the people that we had seen upon other parts of the coast, we thought it possible that they might be a set of outlaws, in a state of rebellion against Teratu, and in that case they might have no settled habitations, or cultivated land in any part of the country.page 160
On the 9th, at day-break, a great number of canoes came on board, loaded with mackerel of two sorts, one exactly the same with those caught in England, and the other somewhat different. We imagined the people had taken a large shoal, and brought us an overplus which they could not consume, for they sold them at a very low rate. They were, however, very welcome to us,; at eight o'clock the ship had more fish on board than all her people could eat in three days, and before night the quantity was so much increased, that every man who could get salt cured as many as would last him a month.
After an early breakfast, I went a-shore, with Mr. Green and proper instruments, to observe the transit of Mercury, Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander being of the party. The weather had for some time been very thick, with much rain; but this day was so favourable, that not a cloud intervened during the whole transit. The observation of the ingress was made by Mr. Green alone, while I was employed in taking the sun's altitude to ascertain the time. It came on at 7° 20′ 58″ apparent time; according to Mr. Green's observation, the internal contact was at 12° 8′ 58″, the external at 129° 9 55″ P. M. and according to mine, the internal contact was at 12° 8′ 54′, and the external at 12° 9′ 48″; the latitude of the place of observation was 30° 48′ 5 ½″. The latitude observed at noon was 36° 48′ 28″. The mean of this and yesterday's observation gives 36° 48′ 5 ½″ S. the latitude of the place of observation; the variation of the compass was 11° 9′ E.
About noon, we were alarmed by the firing of a great gun from the ship; Mr. Gore, my second lieutenant, was at this time commanding officer on board, and the account that he gave was this: While some small canoes were trading with the people, two very large ones came up, full of men, one of them having on board forty-seven, all armed with pikes, darts, and stones, and apparently with a hostile intention. They appeared to be strangers, and to be rather conscious of superiority over us by their numbers, than afraid of any weapons which could give us the superiority over them. No attack, however, was made, probably because they learned from the people in the other canoes, page 161 with whom they immediately entered into conference, what kind of an enemy they had to deal with. After a little time they began to trade, some of them offering their arms, and one of them a square piece of cloth, which makes a part of their dress, called a Haahow; several of their weapons were purchased, and Mr. Gore having agreed for a Haahow, sent down the price, which was a piece of British cloth, and expected his purchase; but the Indian, as soon as he had got Mr. Gore's cloth in his possession, refused to part with his own, and put off the canoe: upon being threatened for this fraud, he and his companions began to sing their war song in defiance, and shook their paddles; still, however, they began no attack, only defying Mr. Gore to take any remedy in his power, which so provoked him, that he levelled a musquet, loaded with ball, at the offender, while he was holding the cloth in his hand, and shot him dead. It would have been happy if the effect of a few small shot had been tried upon this occasion, which upon some others had been successful.
When the Indian dropped, all the canoes put off to some distance; but as they did not go away, it was thought they might still meditate an attack. To secure therefore a safe passage for the boat, which it was necessary to send on shore, a round shot was fired over their heads, which effectually answered their purpose, and put them all to flight. When an account of what had happened was brought a-shore, our Indians were alarmed, and drawing all together retreated in a body. After a short time, however, they returned, having heard a more particular account of the affair, and intimated, that they thought the man who had been killed deserved his fate.
A little before sunset the Indians retired to eat their supper, and we went with them to be spectators of the repast: it consisted of fish of different kinds, among which were lobsters, and some birds of a species unknown to us; these were either roasted or baked. To roast them, they fastened them upon a small stick, which was stuck up in the ground, inclining towards their fire; and to bake them, they put them into a hole page 162 in the ground with hot stones, in the same manner as the people of Otaheite.
Among the natives that were assembled upon this occasion, we saw a woman who, after their manner, was mourning for the death of her relation: she sat upon the ground near the rest, who, one only excepted, seemed not at all to regard her. The tears constantly trickled down her cheeks, and she repeated in a low, but very mournful voice, words which even Tupia did not at all understand: at the end of every sentence she cut her arms, her face, or her breaff, with a shell that she held in her hand, so that she was almost covered with blood, and was indeed one of the most affecting spectacles that can be conceived. The cuts, however, did not appear to be so deep as are sometimes made upon similar occasions, if we may judge by the scars which we saw upon the arms, thighs, breasts, and cheeks of many of them, which, we were told, were the remains of wounds which they had inflicted upon themselves, as testimonies of their affection and sorrow.
The next day I went with two boats, accompanied by Mr. Banks and the other gentlemen, to examine a large river that empties itself into the head of the bay. We rowed about four or five miles up, and could have gone much farther if the weather had been favourable. It was here wider than at the mouth, and divided into many streams by small flat islands, which are covered with mangroves, and overflowed at high water. From these trees exudes a viscous substance, which very much resembles resin: we found it first in small lumps upon the sea beach, and now saw it sticking to the trees, by which we knew whence it came. We landed on the east side of the river, where we saw a tree upon which several shags had built their nests, and here therefore we determined to dine; twenty of the shags were soon killed, and, being broiled upon the spot, afforded us an excellent meal. We then went upon the hills, from whence I thought I saw the head of the river. The shore on each side, as well as the islands in the middle, were covered with mangroves, and the sand-banks abounded in cocklets and clams; in many places there were rock oysters, and every where plenty of wild fowl, page 163 principally shags, ducks, curlieus, and the sea-pie, that has been described before. We also saw fish in the river, but of what kind we could not discover. The country on the east side of this river is for the most part barren, and destitute of wood; but on the west it has a better aspect, and in some places is adorned with trees, but has in no part the appearance of cultivation. In the entrance of the river, and for two or three miles up, there is good anchoring in four and five fathoms water, and places very convenient for laying a vessel on shore, where the tide rises and falls seven feet at the full and change of the moon. We could not determine whether any considerable stream of fresh water came into this river out of the country, but we saw a number of small rivulets issue from the adjacent hills. Near the mouth of this river, on the east side, we found a little Indian village, consisting of small temporary sheds, where we landed, and were received by the people with the utmost kindness and hospitality: they treated us with a flat shell-fish of a most delicious taste, somewhat like a cockle, which we eat hot from the coals. Near this place is a high point or peninsula, projecting into the river, and upon it are the remains of a fort, which they call Eppah or Heppah. The best engineer in Europe could not have chosen a situation better adapted to enable a small number to defend themselves against a greater. The steepness of the cliffs renders it wholly inaccessible from the water, which incloses it on three sides; and, to the land, it is fortified by a ditch, and a bank raised on the inside: from the top of the bank to the bottom of the ditch is two-and-twenty feet; the ditch on the outside is fourteen feet deep, and its breadth is in proportion. The whole seemed to have been executed with great judgment; and there had been a row of pickets, or pallisadoes, both on the top of the bank and along the brink of the ditch on the outside; those on the outside had been driven very deep into the ground, and were inclined towards the ditch, so as to project over it; but of these the thickest posts only were left, and upon them were evident marks of fire, so that the place had probably been taken and destroyed by an enemy. If any occasion should make it necessary for a ship to winter here, or stay any time, page 164 tents might be built in this place, which is sufficiently spacious, with great convenience, and might easily be made impregnable to the whole country.
On the eleventh, there was so much wind and rain that no canoe came off; but the long-boat was sent to fetch oysters from one of the beds which had been discovered the day before: the boat soon returned, deeply laden, and the oysters, which were as good as ever came from Colchester, and about the same size, were laid under the booms, and the ship's company did nothing but eat them from the time they came on board till night, when, as may reasonably be supposed, great part of them were expended; this, however, gave us no concern, as we knew that not the boat only, but the ship, might have been loaded almost in one tide, as the beds are dry at half ebb.
In the morning of Sunday the 12th, two canoes came off full of people whom we had never seen before, but who appeared to have heard of us, by the caution which they used in approaching us. As we invited them to come along-side, with all the tokens of friendship that we could shew, they ventured up, and two of them came on board; the rest traded very fairly for what they had; a small canoe also came from the other side of the bay, and sold us some very large fish, which they gave us to understand, they would have brought yesterday, having caught them the day before, but that the wind was so high they could not venture to sea.
After breakfast I went with the pinnace and yawl, accompanied by Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, over to the north side of the bay, to take a view of the country, and two fortified villages which we had discovered at a distance. We landed near the smallest of them, the situation of which was the most beautifully romantic that can be imagined; it was built upon a small rock, detached from the main, and surrounded at high water. The whole body of this rock was perforated by an hollower arch, which possessed much the largest part of it; the top of the arch was above sixty feet perpendicular above the sea, which at high water flowed through the bottom of it; the whole summit of the rock above the arch was fenced round, after their manner; page 165 ner; but the area was not large enough to contain more than five or six houses: it was accessible only by one very narrow and steep path, by which the inhabitants, at our approach, came down, and invited us into the place; but we refused, intending to visit a much more considerable fort of the same kind at about a mile's distance. We made some presents, however, to the women, and in the mean time we saw the inhabitants of the town, which we were going to, coming towards us in a body, men, women, and children, to the number of about one hundred: when they came near enough to be heard, they waved their hands and called out Horomai, after which they sat down among the bushes near the beach. These ceremonies, we were told, were certain signs of their friendly disposition. We advanced to the place where they were sitting, and when we came up made them a few presents, and asked leave to visit their Heppah; they consented, with joy in their countenances, and immediately led the way. It is called Wharretouwa, and is situated upon a high promontory, or point, which projects into the sea on the north side, and near the head of the bay. Two sides of it are washed by the sea, and these are altogether inaccessible; two other sides are to the land; up one of them, which is very steep, lies the avenue from the beach, the other is flat and open to the country upon the hill, which is a narrow ridge; the whole is inclosed by a pallisade about ten feet high, consisting of strong pales bound together with withes. The weak side next the land is also defended by a double ditch, the innermost of which has a bank and an additional pallisade; the inner pallisades are upon the bank next the town, but at such a distance from the top of the bank, as to leave room for men to walk and use their arms between them and the inner ditch. The outermost pallisades are between the two ditches, and driven obliquely into the ground, so that their upper ends incline over the inner ditch: the depth of this ditch, from the bottom to the top, or crown of the bank, is four-and-twenty feet. Close within the innermost pallisade is a stage twenty feet high, forty feet long, and six broad; it is supported by strong posts, and is intended as a station page 166 for those who defend the place, from which they may annoy the assailants by darts and stones, heaps of which lay ready for use. Another stage of the same kind commands the steep avenue from the beach, and stands also within the pallisade: On this side of the hill there are some little out-works and huts, not intended as advanced posts, but as the habitations of people who for want of room could not be accommodated within the works, but who were, notwithstanding, desirous of placing themselves under their protection. The pallisades, as has been observed already, run round the whole brow of the hill, as well towards the sea as towards the land; but the ground within having originally been a mount, they have reduced it not to one level, but to several, rising in stages one above the other, like an amphitheatre, each of which is inclosed within its separate pallisade: they communicate with each other by narrow lanes, which might easily be stopped up; so that if an enemy should force the outward pallisade, he would have others to carry before the place could be wholly reduced, supposing these places to be obstinately defended one after the other. The only entrance is by a narrow passage, about twelve feet long, communicating with the steep ascent from the beach: it passes under one of the fighting stages, and though we saw nothing like a door or gateway, it may be easily barricaded in a manner that will make the forcing it a very dangerous and difficult undertaking. Upon the whole, this must be considered as a place of great strength, in which a small number of resolute men may defend themselves against all the force which a people with no other arms than those that are in use here could bring against it. It seemed to be well furnished for a siege with every thing but water; we saw great quantities of fern-root, which they eat as bread, and dried fish piled up in heaps; but we could not perceive that they had any fresh water nearer than a brook, which runs close under the foot of the hill: whether they have any means of getting it from this place during a siege, or whether they have any method of storing it within the works in gourds or other vessels, we could not learn; some resource they certainly have with respect to this article, an page 167 indispensable necessary of life, for otherwise the laying up dry provisions could answer no purpose. Upon our expressing a desire to see their method of attack and defence, one of the young men mounted a fighting stage, which they call Porava, and another went into the ditch; both he that was to defend the place, and he that was to assault it, sung the war song, and danced with the same frightful gesticulations that we had seen used in more serious circumstances, to work themselves up into a degree of that mechanical fury, which, among all uncivilized nations, is the necessary prelude to a battle; for dispassionate courage, a strength of mind that can surmount the sense of danger, without a flow of animal spirits by which it is extinguished, seems to be the prerogative of those who have projects of more lasting importance, and a keener sense of honour and disgrace, than can be formed or felt by men who have few pains or pleasures besides those of mere animal life, and scarcely any purpose but to provide for the day that is passing over them, to obtain plunder, or revenge an insult: they will march against each other indeed in cool blood, though they find it necessary to work themselvs into passion before they engage; as among us there have been many instances of people who have deliberately made themselves drunk, that they might execute a project which they formed when they were sober, but which, while they continued so, they did not dare to undertake.
On the side of the hill, near this inclosure, we saw about half an acre planted with gourds and sweet potatoes, which was the only cultivation in the bay: under the foot of the point upon which this fortification stands, are two rocks, one just broken off from the main, and the other not perfectly detached from it: they are both small, and seem more proper for the habitations of birds than men; yet there are houses and places of defence upon each of them. And we saw many other works of the same kind upon small islands, rocks, and ridges of hills, on different parts of the coast, besides many fortified towns, which appeared to he much superior to this.
The perpetual hostility in which these poor savages, who have made every village a fort, must nccessarily page 168 live, will account for there being so little of their land in a state of cultivation; and, as mischiefs very often reciprocally produce each other, it may perhaps appear, that there being so little land in a state of cultivation, will account for their living in perpetual hostility. But it is very strange, that the same invention and diligence which have been used in the construction of places so admirably adapted to defence, almost without tools, should not, when urged by the same necessity, have furnished them with a single missile weapon except the lance, which is thrown by hand: they have no contrivance like a bow to dicharge a dart, nor any thing like a sling to assist them in throwing a stone; which is the more surprising, as the invention of slings, and bows and arrows, is much more obvious than of the works which these people construct, and both these weapons are found among much ruder nations, and in almost every other part of the world. Besides the long lance and Patoo-Patoo, which have been mentioned already; they have a staff about five feet long, sometimes pointed, like a Serjeant's halberd, sometimes only tapering to a point at one end, and having the other end broad, and shaped somewhat like the blade of an oar. They have also another weapon, about a foot shorter than these, pointed at one end, and at the other shaped like an axe. The points of their long lances are barbed, and they handle them with such strength and agility, that we can match them with no weapon but a loaded musquet.
After taking a slight view of the country, and loading both the boats with celery, which we found in great plenty near the beach, we returned from our excursion, and about five o'clock in the evening got on board the ship.
On the 15th, I sailed out of the bay, and at the same time had several canoes on board, in one of which was our friend Toiava, who said, that as soon as we were gone he must repair to his Heppah or fort, because the friends of the man who had been shot by Mr. Gore on the 9th, had threatened to revenge his death upon him, whom they had reproached as being our friend. Off the north point of the bay, I saw a great number of islands, of various extent, which lay page 169 scattered to the north-west, in a direction parallel with the main as far as I could sce. I steered north-east for the north-eastermost of these islands; but the wind coming to the north-west, I was obliged to stand out to sea.
To the bay which we had now left I gave the name of Mercury Bay, on account of the observation which we had made-there of the transit of that planet over the fun. It lies in latitude 36′ 4 S. and in the longitude of 184° 4 W. there are several islands lying both to the southward and northward of it, and a small island or rock in the middle of the entrance: within this island the depth of water no where exceeds nine fathom: the best anchoring is in a sandy bay, which lies just within the south head, in five and four fathom, bringing a high tower or rock, which lies without the head, in one with the head, or just shut in behind it. This place is very convenient both for wooding and watering, and in the river there is an immense quantity of oysters and other shell fish: I have for this reason given it the name of Oyster River. But for a ship that wants to stay here any time, the best and safest place is in the river at the head of the bay; which, from the number of mangrove trees about it, I have called Mangrove River. To fail into this river, the south shore must be kept all the way on board. The country on the east side of the river and bay is very barren, its only produce being fern, and a few other lants that will grow in a poor soil. The land on the north-west side is covered with wood, and the soil being much more fertile, would doubtless produce all the necessaries of life with proper cultivation: it is not however so sertile as the lands that we have seen to the southward; nor do the inhabitants, though numerous, make so good an appearance: they have no plantations; their canoes are mean and without ornament; they sleep in the open air; and say, that Teratu, whose sovereignty they do not acknowledge, if he was to come among them, would kill them. This favoured our opinion of their being outlaws; yet they told us, that they had Heppahs or strong holds, to which they retired in time of imminent danger.page 170
We found, thrown upon the shore, in several parts of this bay, great quantities of iron sand, which is brought down by every little rivulet of fresh water that finds its way from the country; which is a demonstration that there is ore of that metal not far inland: yet neither the inhabitants of this place not any other part of the coast that we have seen, know the use of iron, or set the least value upon it; all of them preferring the most worthless and useless trifle, not only to a nail, but to any tool of that metal.
Before we left the bay, we cut upon one of the trees near the watering-place the ship's name, and, that of the Commander, with the date of the year and month when we were there; and, after displaying the English colours, I took a formal possession of it in the name of his Britannic Majesty King George the Third.