Historical Records of New Zealand
George Bass to Captain Waterhouse
George Bass to Captain Waterhouse.
My dear Friend,—
I am much obliged by your friendly letters, which I met with on my arrival here from the islands in Nov’r last.
That pork voyage has been our first successful speculation, and I trust will be an earnest of our future. We again go in search of pork, not because it is a great voyage, but that it is more near to certain than any other we can attempt.
Our European goods will be left here for sale, except such parts of them as we may judge necessary for buying our pork at the islands, and also some others for the purpose of a new scheme.
Gov’r King, anxious to introduce good cattle into this colony, gives me a letter to the commanding officer of any of the Spanish posts in South America I may think proper to go to, begging of him to allow me to purchase cattle to salt down on the spot for a supply of beef, as well also to purchase them alive to introduce the breed here. Moreover, in case the Venus should be found incapable of carrying live cattle of the Chili stature, I am to be page 241 allowed to hire, on my own account, a ship of sufficient size to bring them down. The guanaco* and pacos† of Chili are also very [suitable] animals for this country. The Governor wishes me to bring some of these animals. The Venus is perfectly equal to their size.
I propose, after leaving the Spanish coast, if my intentions have been answered there so far as to procuring beef in salt and the latter animals, to run down to Otaheite for water, and there we have a new job to set about—it is the recovery of a Colonial brig which was stranded there and left as lost a year ago,‡ but which we think may be got off and repaired, if no new gale has knocked her to pieces. We buy her as she lies of the Gov’r (King) on the above condition.§ Should we get her off and repair her, I shall send the brig Venus on to Port Jackson w’th one of the mates, and myself go on in the Resurrection to other islands in search of a cargo of pork for her to bring here.
If from the strictness of their orders I can find no Spanish Governor who will allow me to purchase cattle, I shall then go to the Sandwich Isles, and set myself wholly upon a real pork voyage as before.
If our approaching voyage proves at all fortunate in its issue, I expect to make a handsome thing of it, and to be much expedited on my return to old England.
Sealskins and oil will most probably be the article imported by us there.
I have also some idea of selling the brig to the Spaniards, who cannot fail to admire so much beauty and strength. She is now heaving down, and at this moment lies keel out to repair her copper, which is much worn by her long runs. She is just the same vessel as when we left England—never complains nor cries, though we loaded her with pork most unmercifully; nor have we either split sail or carried away a spar, but the former have suffered much by working about amongst the islands.
* The Auchenia Huanaca, belonging to the same genus of ruminant mammals as the llama, vicuña, and alpaca. Its principal habitats are the Andes Mountains and the high lands of Patagonia.
† The Peruvian name of the alpaca.
‡ This was an English-built vessel of 56 tons, named originally the Harbinger. Governor King purchased her in May, 1801, for £700, and renamed her the Norfolk. She was sent to Otaheite for pork in November, 1801, and while there was allowed to dirve ashore to save her being wrecked in a hurricane.
§ The agreement in regard to the Norfolk was that Bass should pay the Governor £100, provided he managed to repair her; if not, no money was to be due.
In my letter from Sandwich Islands in May last, I told you we had been at Dusky Bay in N. Zealand—at least I thought so. I shall go to Dusky Bay again this voyage for the purpose of picking up two anchors and breaking the iron fastenings out of an old Indiaman* that lies there deserted, with the intention of selling the former to the Spaniards, and of working up the other to purchase pork in the Islands. Of the little iron we took out last voyage, converted by our smith into axes, we made a good thing. Now we shall be prepared for breaking her up.
The Buffalo brought here all my old friends, so that on my arrival from the Islands I was as much surprized to find them returned as I was on coming here from England to find them all gone.
I have written to my beloved wife by the Naturaliste vid France, and the Alexander, viâ Bombay, but still did not write to you because I wished [to wait] until I could inform you of my future intended proceedings.
Pray make my kind love and compliments to Mrs. Waterhouse. I shall desire Bess to say the same to her sisters and brothers.
With all my disappointments, my much beloved friend, I trust our voyage and affairs will turn to some good account. The want of a remittance must prove a great disappointment to you; it is a painful one to me. Be assured my labor will never be wanting to our success. Let but our next trip do well and all will do well. Be assured of the fidelity of
* The Endeavour was beached at Dusky Bay in September, 1795—ante, p. 204. The submerged remains of the wreck can still be seen in a small nook in Facile Harbour. An interesting account, by Dr. Hocken, of this old relic, as it appeared in 1887, will be found in the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute,“ vol. xx, p. 422.