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]
A particular Description of the Island of Savu, its Produce and Inhabitants, with a Specimen of their Language.
This island is called by the natives Savu; the middle of it lies in about the latitude 10° 35′ S. longitude 237° 30′ W. and has in general been so little known, that I never saw a map or chart in which it is clearly or accurately laid down. I have seen a very old one, in which it is called Sou, and confounded with Sandel Bosch. Rumphius mentions an island by the name of Saow; and he also says that it is the same which the Dutch call Sandel Bosch: but neither is this island, nor Timor, nor Rotte, nor indeed any one of the islands that we have seen in these seas, placed within a reasonable distance of its true situation. It is about eight leagues long from east to west; but what is its breadth, I do not know, as I saw only the north side. The harbour in which we lay is called Seba, from the district in which it lies: it is on the north-west side of the island, and well sheltered from the south-west trade wind, but it lies open to the north-west. We were told, that there were two other bays, where ships might anchor; that the best, called Timo, was on the southwest side of the south-east point; of the third we learned neither the name nor situation. The sea-coast in general is low; but in the middle of the island there are hills of a considerable height. We were upon the coast at the latter end of the dry season, when there had been no rain for seven months; and we were told that when the dry season continues so long, there is no running stream of fresh water upon the whole island, but only small springs, which are at a considerable distance from the sea-side: yet nothing can be imagined so beautiful as the prospect of the country from the ship.
The level ground next to the sea-side was covered with cocoa-nut trees, and a kind of palm called Arecas; and beyond them the hills, which rose in a gentle and regular ascent, were richly cloathed, quite to the summit, with plantations of the fan-palm, forming an almost impenetrable grove. How much even this prospect must be improved, when every foot of ground page 446 between the trees is covered with verdure, by maize' and millet and indigo, can scarce be conceived but by a powerful imagination, not unacquainted with the stateliness and beauty of trees that adorn this part of the earth. The dry season commences in March, or April, and ends in October or November.
The principal trees of this island are the fan-palm, the cocoanut, tamarind, limes, oranges, and mangoes; the other vegetable productions are maize, Guinea corn, rice, millet, callevances, and water melons. We saw also one sugar-cane, and a few kinds of European garden-stuff; particularly cellery, marjoram, fennel, and garlic. For the supply of luxury, it has betel, areca, tobacco, cotton, indigo, and a small quantity of cinnamon, which seems to be planted here only for curiosity; and indeed we doubted whether it was the genuine plant, knowing that the Dutch are very careful not to trust the species out of their proper islands. There are however several kinds of fruit, besides those which have been already mentioned; particularly the sweet sop, which is well known to the West Indians, and a small oval fruit, called the Blimbi, both of which grow upon trees. The blimbi is about three or four inches long, and in the middle about as thick as a man's finger, tapering towards each end: it is covered with a very thick skin of a light green colour, and in the inside are a few seeds disposed in the form of a star: its flavour is a light, clean, pleasant acid, but it cannot be eaten raw; it is said to be excellent as a pickle; and stewed, it made a most agreeable four sauce to our boiled dishes.
The tame animals are buffaloes, sheep, goats, hogs, fowls, pigeons, horses, asses, dogs and cats; and of all these there is great plenty. The buffaloes differ very considerably from the horned cattle of Europe in several particulars; their ears are much larger, their skins are almost without hair, their horns are curved towards each other, but together bend directly backwards, and they have no dewlaps. We saw several that were as big as a well grown European ox, and there must be some much larger; for Mr. Banks saw a pair of horns which measured from tip to tip three feet nine inches and an half, across their widest diameter four feet one inch and an half, and in the whole page 447 sweep of their semicircle in front seven feet six inches and an half. It must however be observed, that a buffalo here of any size, does not weigh above half as much as an ox of the same size in England: those that we guessed to weigh four hundred weight did not weigh more than two hundred and fifty; the reason is, that so late in the dry season the bones are very thinly covered with flesh: there is not an ounce of fat in a whole carcase, and the flanks are literally nothing but skin and bone: the flesh however is well tasted and juicy, and I suppose better than the flesh of an English ox would be if he was to starve in this sun-burnt country.
The horses are from eleven to twelve hands high; but though they are small, they are spirited and nimble, especially in pacing, which is their common step: the inhabitants generally ride them without a saddle, and with no better bridle than a halter. The sheep are of the kind which in England are called Bengal sheep, and differ from ours in many particulars. They are covered with hair instead of wool, their ears are very large, and hang down under their horns, and their noses are arched; they are thought to have a general resemblance to a goat, and for that reason are frequently called cabritos: their flesh we thought the worst mutton we had ever eaten, being as lean as that of the buffaloes, and without flavour. The hogs, however, were some of the fattest we had ever seen, though, as we were told, their principal food is the outside husks of rice, and the palm syrup dissolved in water. The fowls are chiefly of the game breed, and large, but the eggs are remarkably small.
Of the fish, which the sea produces here, we know but little: turtles are sometimes found upon the coast, and are by these people, as well as all others, considered as a dainty.
The people are rather under than over the middle size; the women especially are remarkably short and squat built: their complexion is a dark brown, and their hair universally black and lank. We saw no difference in the colour of rich and poor, though in the South Sea islands those that were exposed to the weather were almost as brown as the New Hollanders, and the better sort nearly as fair as the natives of Europe. The men are in general well made, vigorous and active, page 448 and have a greater variety in the make and disposition of their features than usual; the countenances of the women, on the contrary, are all alike.
The men fasten their hair up to the top of their heads with a comb, the women tie it behind in a club, which is very far from becoming. Both sexes eradicate the hair from under the arm, and the men do the same by their beards: for which purpose, the better sort always carry a pair of silver pincers hanging by a string round their necks; some however suffer a very little hair to remain upon their upper lips, but this is always kept short.
The dress of both sexes consists of cotton cloth, which being dyed blue in the yarn, and not uniformly of the same shade, is in clouds or waves of that colour, and even in our eye had not an inelegant appearance. This cloth they manufacture themselves, and two pieces, each about two yards long, and a yard and a half wide, make a dress: one of them is worn round the middle, and the other covers the upper part of the body; the lower edge of the piece that goes round the middle the men draw pretty tight just below the fork, the upper edge of it is left loose, so as to form a kind of hollow belt, which serves them as a pocket to carry their knives, and other little implements which it is convenient to have about them. The other piece of cloth is passed through this girdle behind, and one end of it being brought over the left shoulder, and the other over the right, they fall down over the bread, and are tucked into the girdle before; so that by opening or closing the plaits, they can cover more or less of their bodies as they please; the arms, legs, and feet are always naked. The difference between the dress of the two sexes consists principally in the manner of wearing the waist-piece, for the women, instead of drawing the lower edge tight, and leaving the upper edge loose for a pocket, draw the upper edge tight, and let the lower edge fall as low as the knees, so as to form a petticoat; the body-piece, instead of being passed thro' the girdle, is fastened under the arms and across the breast, with the utmost decency. I have already observed that the men fasten the hair upon the top of the head, and the women tie it in a club behind, but there is another difference in the head dress, by which the sexes page 449 are distinguished: the women wear nothing as a succedaneum for a cap, but the men constantly wrap something round their heads in the manner of a fillet; it is small, but generally of the finest materials that can be procured; we saw some who applied silk handkerchiefs to this purpose, and others that wore fine cotton, or muslin, in the manner of a small turban.
These people bore their testimony that the love of finery is an universal passion, for their ornaments were very numerous. Some of the better sort wore chains of gold round their necks, but they were made of plaited wire, and consequently were light and of little value; others had rings, which were so much worn that they seemed to have descended through many generations; and one person had a silver-headed cane, marked with a kind of a cypher, consisting of the Roman letters V, O, C, and therefore probably a present from the Dutch East India Company, whose mark it is: they have also ornaments made of beads, which some wear round their necks as a solitaire, and others, as bracelets, upon their wrists: these are common to both sexes, but the women have, besides, strings or girdles of beads, which they wear round their waists, and which serve to keep up their petticoat. Both sexes had their ears bored, nor was there a single exception that sell under our notice, yet we never saw an ornament in any of them; we never indeed saw either man or woman in any thing but what appeared to be their ordinary dress, except the King and his Minister, who in general wore a kind of a nightgown of coarse chintz, and one of whom once received us in a black robe, which appeared to be made of what is called prince's stuff. We saw some boys, about twelve or fourteen years old, who had spiral circles of thick brass wire passed three or four times round their arms, above the elbow, and some men wore rings of ivory, two inches in breadth, and above an inch in thickness, upon the same part of the arm; these, we are told, were the sons of the Rajas, or Chiefs, who wore these cumbrous ornaments as badges of their high birth.
Almost all the men had their names traced upon their arms, in indelible characters of a black colour, and the women had a square ornament of flourished lines, impressed page 450 in the same manner, just under the bent of the elbow. We were struck with the similitude between these marks, and those made by tattowing in the South Sea islands, and upon enquiring into its origin, we learned, that it had been practised by the natives long before any Europeans came among them; and that in the neighbouring islands the inhabitants were marked with circles upon their necks and breasts. The universality of this practice which prevails among savages in all parts of the world, from the remotest limits of North America, to the islands in the South Seas, and which. probably differs but little from, the method of staining the body, that was in use among the ancient inhabitants of Britain, is a curious subject of speculation.*
The houses of Savu are all built upon the same plan, and differ only in size, being large in proportion to the rank and riches of the proprietor. Some are four hundred feet long, and some are not more than twenty; they are all raised upon posts, or piles, about four feet high, one end of which is driven into the ground, and upon the other end is laid a substantial floor of wood, so that there is a vacant space of four feet between the floor of the house and the ground. Upon this floor are placed other posts or pillars, that support a roof of sloping sides, which meet in a ridge at the top, like those of our barns: the eaves of this roof, which is thatched with palm leaves, reach within two feet of the floor, and over-hang it as much: the space within is generally divided lengthwise into three equal parts; the middle part, or centre, is enclosed by a partition of four sides, reaching about six feet above the floor, and one or two small rooms are also sometimes taken off from the sides, the rest of the space under the roof is open, so as freely to admit the air and the light: the particular page 451 uses of these disserent apartments, our short stay would not permit us to learn, except that the close room in the centre was appropriated to the women.
The food of these people consists of every same animal in the country, of which the hog holds the first place in their estimation, and the horse the second; next to the horse is the buffalo, next to the buffalo their poultry, and they prefer dogs and cats to sheep and goats. They are not fond of fish, and, I believe, it is never eaten but by the poor people, nor by them, except when their duty or business requires them to be upon the beach, and then every man is furnished with a light casting net, which is girt round him, and makes part of his dress, and with this he takes any small fish which happen to come in his way.
The aesculent vegetables and fruits have been mentioned already, but the san-palm requires more particular notice, for at certain times it is a succedaneum for all other food both to man and beast. A kind of wine, called toddy, is procured from the tree, by cutting the buds which are to produce flowers, soon after their appearance, and tying under them small baskets, made of the leaves, which are so close as to hold liquids without leaking. The juice, which trickles into these vessels, is collected by persons who climb the trees for that purpose, morning and evening, and it is the common drink of every individual upon the island; yet a much greater quantity is drawn off than is consumed in this use, and of the surplus they make both a syrup and coarse sugar. The liquor is called dua or duac, and both the syrup and the sugar gula. The syrup is prepared by boiling the liquor down in pots of earthen ware, till it is sufficiently inspissated; it is not unlike treacle in appearance, but it is somewhat thicker, and has a much more agreeable taste: the sugar is of a reddish brown, perhaps the same with the Jugata sugar upon the continent of India, and it was more agreeable to our palates than any cane sugar, unrefined, that we had ever tasted. We were at first afraid that the syrup, of which some of our people eat very great quantities, would have brought on fluxes, but its aperient quality was so very slight, that what effect it produced was rather salutary than hurtful. I have already observed, that it is given with the husks of rice to the hogs, and that they grow page 452 enormously fat without taking any other food: we were told also, that this syrup is used to fatten their dogs and their fowls, and that the inhabitants themselves have subsisted upon this alone for several months, when other crops have failed, and animal food has been scarce. The leaves of this tree are also put to various uses, they thatch houses, and make baskets, cups, umbrellas, and tobacco-pipes. The fruit is least esteemed, and as the blossoms are wounded for the tuac, or toddy, there is not much of it: it is about as big as a large turnip, and covered, like the cocoa-nut, with a fibrous coat, under which are three kernels, that must be eaten before they are ripe, for afterwards they become so hard that they cannot be chewed; in their eatable state they taste not unlike a green cocoa-nut, and, like them, probably they yield a nutriment that is watry and unsubstantial.
The common method of dressing food here is by boiling, and as fire-wood is very scarce, and the inhabitants have no other fuel, they make use of a contrivance to save it, that is not wholly unknown in Europe, but it is seldom practised except in camps. They dig a hollow under ground, in a horizontal direction, like a rabbit-burrow, about two yards long, and opening into a hole at each end, one of which is large and the other small: by the large hole the fire is put in, and the small one serves for a draught. The earth over this burrow is perforated by circular holes, which communicate with the cavity below; and in these holes are set earthen pots, generally about three to each fire, which are large in the middle, and taper towards the bottom, so that the fire acts upon a large part of their surface. Each of these pots generally contains about eight or ten gallons, and it is surprising to see with how small a quantity of site they may be kept boiling; a palm leaf, or a dry stalk, thrust in now and then, is sufficient: in this manner they boil all their victuals, and make all their syrup and sugar. It appears, by Frezier's account of his voyage to the South Sea, that the Peruvian Indians have a contrivance of the same kind, and perhaps it might be adopted with advantage by the poor people even of this country, where fuel is very dear.
Both sexes are enslaved by the hateful and pernicious habit of chewing beetle and areca, which they contract page 453 even while they are children, and practise incessantly from morning till night. With these they always mix a kind of white lime, made of coral stone and shells, and frequently a small quantity of tobacco, so that their mouths are disgustful in the highest degree both to the smell and the sight: the tobacco taints their breath, and the beetle and lime make the teeth not only as black as charcoal, but as rotten too. I have seen men between twenty and thirty, whose fore-teeth have been consumed almost down to the gums, though no two of them were exactly of the same length or thickness, but irregularly corroded like iron by rust. This loss of teeth is, I think, by all who have written upon the subject, imputed to the tough and stringy coat of the areca nut; but I impute it wholly to the lime: they are not loosened, or broken, or forced out, as might be expected if they were injured by the continual chewing of hard and rough substances, but they are gradually wasted like metals that are exposed to the action of powerful acids; the stumps always adhering firmly to the socket in the jaw, when there is no part of the tooth above the gums: and possibly those who suppose that sugar has a bad effect upon the teeth of Europeans, may not be mistaken; for it is well known, that refined loaf sugar contains a considerable quantity of lime; and he that doubts whether lime will destroy bone of any kind, may easily ascertain the fact by experiment.
Is the people here are at any time without this odious mouthful, they are smoaking. This operation they perform by rolling up a small quantity of tobacco, and putting it into one end of a tube about six inches long, and as thick as a goose quill, which they make of a palm leaf. As the quantity of tobacco in these pipes is very small, the effect of it is increased, especially among the women, by swallowing the smoke.
When the natives of this island were first formed into a civil society, is not certainly known, but at present it is divided into five principalities or nigrees: LAAI, SEBA, REGKEUA, TIMO, and MASSARA, each of which is governed by its respective Raja, or King. The Raja of Seba, the principality in which.. we were a-shore, seemed to have great authority, without much page 454 external parade, or show, or much appearance of personal respect. He was about five and thirty years of age, and the fattest man we saw upon the whole island: he appeared to be of a dull phlegmatic disposition, and to be directed almost implicitly by the old man, who, upon my presenting him with a sword, had procured us a fair market, in spight of the craft and avarice of the Dutch factors. The name of this person was Mannu Djarme, and it may reasonably be supposed that he was a man of uncommon integrity and abilities, as, notwithstanding his possession of power in the character of a favourite, he was beloved by the whole principality. If any difference arises among the people, it is settled by the Raja and his counsellors, without delay or appeal, and, as we were told, with the most solemn deliberation and impartial justice.
We were informed by Mr. Lange, that the Chiefs who had successively presided over the five principalities of this island, had lived for time immemorial in the strictest alliance and most cordial friendship with each other; yet, he said, the people were of a warlike disposition, and had always courageously defended themselves against foreign invaders. We were told also, that the island was able to raise, upon very short notice, 7300 fighting men, armed with muskets, spears, lances, and targets. Of this force, Laai was said to furnish 2600, Sebo 2000, Regeeua 1500, Timo 800, and Massara 400. Besides the arms that have been already mentioned, each man is furnished with a large poleaxe, resembling a wood-bill, except that it has a straight edge, and is much heavier: this in the hands of people who have courage to come to close quarters with an enemy, must be a dreadful weapon; and we are told that they were so dexterous with their lances, that at the distance of sixty feet they would throw them with such exactness as to pierce a man's heart, and such force as to go quite through his body.
How far this account of the martial prowess of the inhabitants of Savu may be true, we cannot take upon us to determine, but, during our stay, we saw no appearance of it. We saw indeed in the town-house, or house of assembly, about one hundred spears and targets, which served to arm the people who were sent down to page 455 intimidate us at the trading-place; but they seemed to be the refuse of old armouries, no two being of the same make or length, for some were six and some sixteen feet long. We saw no lance among them, and as to the muskets, though they were clean on the outside, they were eaten into holes by the rust within, and the people themselves appeared to be so little acquainted with military discipline, that they marched like a disorderly rabble, every one having, instead of his target, a cock, some tobacco, or other merchandise of the like kind, which he took that opportunity to bring down to fell, and few or none of their cartridge-boxes were furnished with either powder or ball, though a piece of paper was thrust into the hole to save appearances. We saw a few swivel guns and pateraroes at the town-house, and a great gun before it; but the swivels and pateraroes lay out of their carriages, and the great gun lay upon a heap of stones, almost consumed with rust, with the touch-hole downwards, possibly to conceal its size, which might perhaps be little less that that of the bore.
We could not discover that, among these people, there was any rank of distinction between the Raja and the land-owners; the land-owners were respectable in proportion to their possessions. The inferior ranks consist of manufacturers, labouring poor, and slaves. The slaves, like the peasants in some parts of Europe, are connected with the estate, and both descend together; but though the land-owner can fell his slave, he has no other power over his person, not even to correct him, without the privity and approbation of the Raja. Some have five hundred of these slaves, and some not half a dozen; the common price of them is a sat hog. When a great man goes out, he is constantly attended by two or more of them; one of them carries a sword or hanger, the hilt of which is commonly of silver, and adorned with large tassels of horse-hair, and another carries a bag which contains beetle, areca, lime, and tobacco. In these attendants consist all their magnificence, for the Raja himself has no other mark of distinction.
The chief object of pride among these people, like that of a Welchman, is a long pedigree of respectable page 456 ancestors, and indeed a veneration for antiquity seems to be carried farther here than in any other country; even a house that has been well inhabited for many generations, becomes almost sacred, and few articles either of use or luxury bear so high a price as stones, which having been long sat upon are become even and smooth: those who can purchase such stones, or are possessed of them by inheritance, place them round their houses, where they serve as seats for their dependants.
Every Raja sets up, in the principal town of his province, or nigree, a large stone, which serves as a memorial of his reign. In the principal town of Seba, where we lay, there are thirteen such stones, besides many fragments of others, which had been set up in earlier times, and are now mouldering away: these monuments seem to prove that some kind of civil establishment here is of considerable antiquity. The last thirteen reigns in England make something more than 276 years.
Many of these stones are so large, that it is difficult to conceive by what means they were brought to their present station, especially as it is the summit of a hill; but the world is full of memorials of human strength, in which the mechanical powers that have been since added, by mathematical science, seem to be surpassed; and of such monuments there are not a few, among the remains of barbarous antiquity, in our own country, besides those upon Salisbury Plain.
These stones not only record the reigns of successive princes, but serve for a purpose much more extraordinary, and probably altogether peculiar to this country. When a Raja dies, a general feast is proclaimed throughout his dominions, and all his subjects assemble round these stones; almost every living creature that can be caught is then killed, and the feast lasts for a less or greater number of weeks or months, as the kingdom happens to be more or less furnished with live stock at the time; the stones serve for tables. When this madness is over, a fast must necessarily ensue, and the whole kingdom is obliged to subsist upon syrup and water, if it happens in the dry season, when no vegetables can be procured, till a new stock of animals can be raised page 457 from the few that have escaped by chance, or been preserved by policy from the general massacre, or can be procured from the neighbouring kingdoms. Such, however, is the account that we received from Mr. Lange.
We had no opportunity to examine any of their manufactures, except that of their cloth, which they spin, weave, and dye; we did not indeed see them employed, but many of the instruments which they use fell in our way. We saw their machine for clearing cotton of its seeds, which is made upon the same principles as those in Europe, but is so small that it might be taken for a model or a toy; it consist of two cylinders, lie our round rulers, somewhat less than an inch in diameter, one of which, being turned round by a plain winch, turns the other by means of an end-less worm, and the whole machine is not more than fourteen inches long, and seven high; that which we saw had been much used, and many pieces of cotton were hanging about it, so that there is no reason to doubt its being a fair specimen of the rest. We also once saw their apparatus for spinning; it consisted of a bobbin, on which was wound a small quantity of thread, and a kind of distaff filled with cotton; we conjecture therefore that they spin by hand, as the women of Europe did before the introduction of wheels; and, I am told, that they have not yet found their way into some parts of it. Their loom seemed to be, in one respect, preferable to ours, for the web was not stretched upon a frame, but extended by a piece of wood at each end, round one of which the cloth was rolled, and round the other the threads; the web was about half a yard broad, and the length of the shuttle was equal to the breadth of the web, so that, probably, their work goes on but slowly. That they dyed this cloth we first guessed from its colour, and from the indigo which we saw in their plantations; and our conjecture was afterwards confirmed by Mr. Lange's account. I have already observed, that it is dyed in the yarn, and we once saw them dying what was said to be girdles for the women, of a dirty red, but with what drug we did not think it worth while to inquire.page 458
The religion of these people, according to Mr. Lange's information, is an absurd kind of paganism, every man chusing his own god, and determining for himself how he should be worshipped; so that there are almost as many gods and modes of worship as people. In their morals, however, they are said to be irreproachable, even upon the principles of Christianity: no man is allowed more than one wife, yet an illicit commerce between the sexes is in a manner unknown among them: instances of theft are very rare; and they are so far from revenging a supposed injury by murder, that if any difference arises between them, they will not so much as make it the subject of debate, lest they should be provoked to resentment and ill-will, but immediately and implicitly refer it to the determination of their King.
They appeared to be a healthy and long-lived people: yet some of them were marked with the small-pox, which Mr. Lange told us had several times made its appearance among them, and was treated with the same precautions as the plague. As soon as a person was seized with the distemper, he was removed to some solitary place, very remote from any habitation, where the disease was left to take its course, and the patient supplied with daily food by reaching it to him at the end of a long pole.
Of their domestic œconomy we could learn but little; in one instance, however, their delicacy and cleanliness are very remarkable. Many of us were a-shore here three successive days, from a very early hour in the morning till it was dark; yet we never saw the least trace of an offering to Cloacina, nor could we so much as guess where they were made. In a country so populous this is very difficult to be accounted for, and perhaps there is no other country in the world where the secret is so effectually kept.
The boats in use here are a kind of proa.
This island was settled by the Portuguese, almost as soon as they first found their way into this part of the ocean, but they were in a short time supplanted by the Dutch. The Dutch, however, did not take possession of it, but only sent sloops to trade with the natives, probably for provisions to support the inhabitants of their spice islands, who applying themselves wholly to page 459 the cultivation of that important article of trade, and laying out all their ground in plantations, can breed few animals: possibly their supplies, by this occasional traffic, were precarious: possibly they were jealous of being supplanted in their turn; but, however that be, their East-India Company, about ten years ago, entered into a treaty with the Rajas, by which the Company stipulated to furnish each of them with a certain quantity of silk, fine linen, cutlery ware, arrack, and other articles every year; and the Rajas engaged, that neither they nor their subjects should trade with any person except the Company, without having first obtained their consent, and that they would admit a resident on behalf of the company, to reside upon the island, and see that their part of the treaty was fulfilled; they also engaged to supply annually a certain quantity of rice, maize, and calevances. The maize and calevances are sent to Timor in sloops, which are kept there for that purpose, each of which is navigated by ten Indians; and the rice is fetched away annually by a ship which brings the Company's returns, and anchors alternately in each of the three bays. These returns are delivered to the Rajas in the form of a present, and the cask of arrack they and their principal people never cease to drink, as long as a drop of it remains.
In consequence of this treaty, the Dutch placed three persons upon the island; Mr. Lange, his colleague, the native of Timor, the son of an Indian woman by a Portuguese, and one Frederick Craig, the son of an Indian woman by a Dutchman. Lange visits each of the Rajas once in two months, when he makes the tour of the island, attended by fifty slaves on horseback. He exhorts their Chiefs to plant, if it appears that they have been remiss, and observes where the crops are got in, that he may order sloops to fetch it; so that it passes immediately from the ground to the Dutch store-houses at Timor. In these excursions he always carries with him some bottles of arrack, which he finds of great use in opening the hearts of the Rajas with whom he is to deal.
During the ten years that he had resided upon this island he had never seen an European besides ourselves, except at the arrival of the Dutch ship, which had page 460 filled about two months before we arrived; and he is now to be distinguished from the natives only by his colour and his dress, for he sits upon the ground, chews his beetle, and in every respect has adopted their characters and manners: he has married an Indian woman of the island of Timor, who keeps his house after the fashion of her country, and he gave that as a reason for not inviting us to visit him, saying, that he could entertain us in no other manner than the Indians had done, and he spoke no language readily but that of the country.
The office of Mr. Frederick Craig is to instruct the youth of the country in reading and writing, and the principles of the Christian religion; the Dutch having printed versions of the New Testament, a catechism, and several other tracts, in the language of this and the neighbouring islands. Dr. Solander, who was at his house, saw the books, and the copy-books also of his scholars, many of whom wrote a very fair hand. He boasted that there were no less than six hundred Christians in the township of Seba; but what the Dutch Christianity of these Indians may be, it is not perhaps very easy to guess; for there is not a church, nor even a priest, in the whole island.
While we were at this place, we made several inquiries concerning the neighbouring islands, and the intelligence which we received is to the following effect:
A small island to the westward of Savu, the name of which we did not learn, produces nothing of any consequence but areca-nuts, of which the Dutch receive annually the freight of two sloops, in return for presents that they make to the islanders.
Timor is the chief, and the Dutch residents on the other islands go thither once a year to pass their accompts. The place is nearly in the same state as in Dampier's time, the Dutch having there a fort and store-houses; and by Lange's account, we might there have been supplied with every necessary that we expected to procure at Batavia, salt provisions and arrack not excepted. But the Portuguese are still in possession of several towns on the north side of the island, particularly Laphao and Sesial.page 461
About two years before our arrival, a French ship was wrecked upon the east coast of Timor; and after she had lain some days upon the shoal, a sudden gale broke her up at once, and drowned the captain, with the greatest part of the crew: those who got a-shore, among whom was one of the lieutenants, made the best of their way to Concordia; they were four days upon the road, where they were obliged to leave part of their company through fatigue, and the rest, to the number of about eighty, arrived at the town. They were supplied with every necessary, and sent back to the wreck, with proper assistance, for recovering what could be fished up: they fortunately got up all their bullion, which was in chests, and several of their guns, which were very large. They then returned to the town, but their companions who had been left upon the road were missing, having, as it was supposed, been kept among the Indians, either by persuasion or force; for they are very desirous of having Europeans among them, to instruct them in the art of war. After a stay of more than two months at Concordia, their number was diminished nearly one half by sickness, in consequence of the fatigue and hardship which they had suffered by the shipwreck, and the survivors were sent in a small vessel to Europe.
Rotte is in much the same situation as Savu; a Dutch factor resides upon it to manage the natives, and look after its produce, which consists, among other articles, of sugar. Formerly it was made only by bruising the canes, and boiling the juice to a syrup, in the same manner as toddy; but great improvements have lately been made in preparing this valuable commodity. The three little islands called the Solars, are also under the influence of the Dutch settlement at Concordia: they are flat and low, but abound with provisions of every kind, and the middlemost is said to have a good harbour for shipping. Ende, another little island to the westward of the Solars, is still in the hands of the Portuguese, who have a good town and harbour on the north-east. corner of it called Larntuca; they had formerly an harbour on the south side of it, but that, being much inferior to Larntuca, has for some time been altogether neglected.page 462
The inhabitants of each of these little islands speak a language peculiar to themselves, and it is an object of Dutch policy to prevent, as much as possible, their learning the language of each other. If they spoke a common language, they would learn, by a mutual intercourse with each other, to plant such things as would be of more value to themselves than their present produce, though of less advantage to the Dutch; but their languages being different, they can communicate no such knowledge to each other, and the Dutch secure themselves the benefit of supplying their several necessities upon their own terms, which, it is reasonable to suppose, are not very moderate. It is probably with a view to this advantage that the Dutch never teach their own language to the natives of these islands, and have been at the expence of translating the Testament and catechisms into the different languages of each; for in proportion as Dutch had become the language of their religion, it would have become the common language of them all.
To this account of Savu, I shall only add a small specimen of its language, by which it will appear to have some affinity with that of the South Sea islands, many of the words being exactly the same, and the numbers manifestly derived from the same sourse.
|The eye-lashes,||Rowna matta.|
|The nipples,||Caboo soosoo.|
|The knees,||Rootoo.page 463|
|A fish hook,||Maanadoo.|
|Tattow, the marks on the skin,||Tata.|
In this account of the island of Savu it must be remembered, that except the facts in which we were parties, and the account of the objects which we had an opportunity to examine, the whole is founded merely upon the report of Mr. Lange, upon whose authority alone therefore it must rest.
* In the account which Mr. Bossu has given of some Indians who inhabit the banks of the Akanza, a river of North America, which rises in New Mexico, and falls into the Mississippi, he relates the following incident: “The Akanzas, says he, have adopted me, and as mark of my privilege, have imprinted the figure of a roe-buck upon my thigh, which was done in this manner: an Indian having burned some straw, diluted the ashes with water, and with this mixture, drew the figure upon my skin; he then retraced it by pricking the lines with needles, so as every puncture just to draw the blood, and the blood mixing with the ashes of the straw, form a figure which can never be effaced.” See Travels through Louisiana, vol. i. p. 107.