The Old Whaling Days
Thursday, 28th April
Thursday, 28th April.
Cloudy and overcast weather wind at South at 4 boats returned without Seeing anything except a Killer*—we are however daily expecting them—there are 6 ships the other side we are alone here as I do not like much Company and a gang of men ashore the other side to carry on Whaling have rum to Sell Which by keeping here we avoid having the trouble of. Latter thick weather much rain lay by nothing to do finding Some words about our house ashore I will detail it as it will give an idea of the dispositions of these natives—On our first arrival here I found it was the common practice for each Ship to have a house on shore to perform thier Coopering in as i preferred having that duty performed under my own inspection I did not care for having a house but on second thought when I reflected it was also needed for to mend boats under and the time taken for that was generally when.the weather was stormy I concluded to have one it was told me by our toungers that the cost was trifling and altogether at the option of a master What and how much be paid I therefore employd 2 chiefs living here to construct me one and they employed another who was father to one of them and thus I am in a fair way of having a house but to pay 3 people for it (the Principal Chief† is absent on one of his marauding traverses like the Ancient band Pirates and his authority delegated to 3 chiefs 1 on the western Shore the other 2 here) this morning I went on shore to see as to the house the Old page 436 man began talking about his pay insisting (Indian like) on what he must have as I never employd him I was finally obliged to tell him he need not do anything more about it as i would not have it. this spread and I was immediately waited on by the 2 who begged me not to pay any regard to him this however did not satisfy me I told them as well as I could make myself understood that I would immediately take my ship to the other shore where I could be Supplied with What I wanted on more reasonable terms this seemed to excite their fears and they begged me not to and began to upbraid the old man calling him names even his own son reviling and in this temper I left them Came on board and despatched the boat the other side for a linguist our tounger (The Ships all employ Tonguers and it is a general custom I have acceded on the same terms as others) On his arrival we opened the Subject but they were ashamed and finally settled that they would build the house. I was to pay the 2 and on the same terms as the Agent of the shore party the other side and when I had done using the house the material I was to dispose of in any manner or way suited me but Indian Cunning was plainly to be seen and as far as regards White men I fear their honesty will prove Something Equivocal. I must not omit here Some mention of what are called tonguers. they are here 2 and 3 White people who have a boat and some natives on a Ship arriving they repair on board to solicit the Job for the ship The terms are that they occasionally furnish a crew to help tow whales they furnish a boats crew to help cut the whale in and do any talking for the captain whose ignorance of the language requires their aid in any matters with the natives. When the whale is cut in they are entitled to the carcass and the tongue which in plentiful Whaling is always left on the carcass and they contrive to get for 6 to 8 barrels of oil from each carcass but they are in general Blackguards and no dependence can be put in them—Runaways from Ships Mostly.
* A carnivorous whale which preys upon the right.