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 Description of several other Islands in the Neighbourhood of Otaheite, with various Incidents; a dramatic Entertainment; and many Particulars relative to the Customs and Manners of the Inbabitants.
After parting with our friends, we made an easy sail, with gentle breezes and clear weather, and were informed by Tupia, that four of the neighbouring islands, which he distinguished by the names of Huaheine, Ulietea, Otaha, and Bolabola, lay at the distance of between one and two days sail from Otaheite; and that hogs, fowls, and other refreshments, with which we had of late been but sparingly supplied, were there to be procured in great plenty; but having discovered, from the hills of Otaheite, an island lying to the northward, which he called Tethuroa, I determined first to stand that way, to take a nearer view of it. It lies N. ½ W. distant eight leagues from the northern extremity of Otaheite, upon which we had observed the transit, and to which we had, for that reason, given the name of Point Venus. We found it to be a small low island, and were told by Tupia, that it had no settled inhabitants, but was occasionally visited by the inhabitants of Otaheite, page 89 heite, who sometimes went thither for a few days to fish; we therefore determined to spend no more time in a farther examination of it, but to go in search of Huaheine and Ulietea, which he described to be well peopled, and as large as Otaheite.
At six o'clock in the morning of the 14th, the westermost part of Eimeo, or York Island, bore S. E. ½ S, and the body of Otaheite E. ½ S. At noon, the body of York Island bore E. by S. ½ S. and Port-Royal bay, at Otaheite, S. 70° 45′ E. distant 61 miles, and an island which we took to be Saunders's Island, called by the natives Tapoamanao, bore S. S. W. We also saw land bearing N. W. ½ N. which Tupia said was Huaheine.
On the 15th, it was hazy, with light breezes and calms succeeding each other, so that we could see no land, and made but little way. Our Indian, Tupia, often prayed for a wind to his god, Tane, and as often boasted of his success, which indeed he took a very effectual method to secure; for he never began his address to Tane, till he saw a breeze so near that he knew it must reach the ship before his oraison was well over.
On the 16th, we had a gentle breeze; and in the morning about eight o'clock; being close in with the north-west part of the island Huaheine, we sounded, but had no bottom with 80 fathom. Some canoes very soon came off; but the people seemed afraid, and kept at a distance till they discovered Tupia, and then they ventured nearer. In one of the canoes, that came up to the ship's side, was the king of the island and his wife. Upon assuranees of friendship, frequently and earnestly repeated, their majesties and some others came on board. At first they were struck with astonishment, and wondered at every thing that was shewn them, yet they made no enquiries; and seeming to be sutissed with what was offered to their notice, they made no search after other objects of curiosity, with which, it was natural to suppose, a building of such novelty and magnitude as the ship must abound. After some time they became more familiar. I was given to understand, that the name of the king was Oree; and he proposed, as a mark page 90 of amity, that we should exchange names. To this I readily consented; and he was Cookee, for so he pronounced my name, and I was Oree, for the rest of the time we were together. We found these people to be very nearly the same with those of Otaheite, in person, dress, language, and every other circumstance, except, if Tupia might be believed, that they would not steal.
Soon after dinner we came to an anchor, in a small but excellent harbour on the west side of the island, which the natives call Owharee, in eighteen fathom water, clear ground, and secure from all winds. I went immediately a shore, accompanied by Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, Mr. Monkhouse, Tupia, King Cookee, and some other of the natives, who had been on board ever since the morning. The moment we landed, Tupia stripped himself as low as the waist, and desired Mr. Monkhouse to do the same; he then sat down before a great number of the natives, who were collected together in a large house or shed; for here, as well as at Otaheite, a house consists only of a roof supported upon poles; the rest of us, by his desire, standing behind. He then began a speech, or prayer, which lasted about a quarter of an hour, the king, who stood over-against him, every now and then answering, in what appeared to be set responses. In the course of this harangue, he delivered at different times two handkerchiess, a black silk neckoloth, some beads, two small bunches of seathers, and some plantains, as presents to their Eatua, or God. In return for these, he received for our Eatua, a hog, some young plantains, and two small bunches of feathers, which he ordered to be carried on board the ship. After these ceremonies, which we supposed to be the ratification of a treaty between us, every one was disimissed, to go whither he pleated; and Tupia immediately repaired to offer his oblations at one of the Morais.
The next morning, we went on shore again, and walked up the hills, where the productions were exactly the same as those of Otaheite, except that the rocks and clay appeared to be more burnt. The houses page 91 were near, and the boat-houses remarkably large; one that we measured was fifty paces long, ten broad, and twenty-four feet high; the whole formed a pointed arch, like those of our old cathedrals, which was supported on one side by twenty-six, and on the other by thirty pillars, or rather posts, about two feet high, and one thick, upon most of which were rudely carved the heads of men, and several fanciful devices, not altogether unlike those which we sometimes see printed from wooden blocks, at the beginning and end of old books, The plains, or flat part of the country, abounded in bread-fruit, and cocoa-nut trees; in some places, however, there were salt swamps and lagoons, which would produce neither.
We went again a-shore on the 18th, and would have taken the advantage of Tupia's company, in our perambulation; but he was too much engaged with his friends: we took however his boy, whose name was Tayeto, and Mr. Banks went to take a farther view of what had much engaged his attention before; it was a kind of chest or ark, the lid of which was nicely sewed on, and thatched very neatly with palm-nut leaves: it was fixed upon two poles, and supported on littte arches of wood, very neatly carved; the use of the poles seemed to be to remove it from place to place, in the manner of our sedan chairs: in one end of it was a square hole, in the middle of which was a ring touching the sides, and leaving the angles open so as to form a round hole within a square one. The first time Mr. Banks saw this coffer, the aperture at the end was stopped with a piece of cloth, which, left he should give offence, he left untouched; probably there was then something within, but now the cloth was taken away, and, upon looking into it, it was found empty. The general resemblance between this repoistory and the Ark of the Lord among the Jews is remarkable; but it is still more remarkable, that upon enquiring of the boy what it was called, he said, Ewharre no Eatua, the house of the God: he could however give no account of its signification or use. We had commenced a kind of trade with the natives, but it went on slowly; for when any thing was offered, not one of them would take it upon his own judgment, page 92 but collected the opinions of twenty or thirty people, which could not be done without great loss of time. We got, however, eleven pigs, and determined to try for more the next day.
The next day, therefore, we brought out some hatchets, for which we hoped we should have had no occasion, upon an island which no European had ever visited before. These procured us three very large hogs; and as we proposed to sail in the afternoon, King Oree and several others came on board to take their leave. To the King I gave a small plate of pewter, on which was stamped this insription, “His Bri “tannic Majesty's ship, Endeavour, Lieutonant Cook “Commander, 16th July, 1769, Huaheine.” I gave him also some medals or counters, resembling the coin of England, struck in the year 1761, with some other presents; and he promised that with none of these, particularly the plate, he would ever part. I thought it as lasting a testimony of our having first discovered this island, as any we could leave behind; and having dismissed our visitors well satisfied, and in great good humour, we set sail about half an hour after two in the afternoon.
The island of Huaheine, or Huahene, is situated in the latitude of 16° 43′S. and longitude 150° 52′ W. from Greenwich; it is distant from Otaheite about thirty-one leagues, in the direction of N. 58 W. and is about seven leagues in compass. Its surface is hilly and uneven, and it has a safe and commodious harbour. The harbour, which is called by the natives Owalle, or Owharre, lies on the wesl side, under the northermost high land; and within the north end of the reef, which lies along that side of the island, there are two inlets, or openings, by which it may be entered through the reef, about a mile and a half distant from each other; the southermost is the widest, and on the south side of it lies a very small sandy island.
Huaheine seems to be a month forwarder in its productions than Otaheite, as we found the cocoa-nuts full of kernel, and some of the new bread-fruit fit to, eat. Of the cocoa-nuts the inhabitants make a food, which they call Poe, by mixing them with yams: they scrape both fine, and having incorporated the powder, they put it into a wooden trough, with a number of page 93 hot stones; by which an oily kind of hasty pudding is made, that our people relished very well, especially when it was fried. Mr. Banks found not more than eleven or twelve new plants; but he observed some insect, and a species of scorpion which he had not seen before.
The inhabitants seem to be larger made, and more stout, than those of Otaheite. Mr. Banks measured one of the men, and found him to be six feet three inches and an half high; yet they are so lazy, that he could not persuade any of them to go up the hills with him; they said, if they were to attempt it, the fatigue would kill them. The women were very fair, more so than those of Otaheite; and in general we thought them more handsome, though none that were equal to some individuals. Both sexes seemed to be less timid, and less curious. It has been observed, that they made no enquiries on board the ship; and when we fired a gun, they were frighted indeed, but they did not fall down, as our friends at Otaheite constantly did when we first came among them. For this difference, however, we can easily account upon other principles; the people at Huaheine had not seen the Dolphin, those at Otaheite had. In one, the report of a gun was connected with the idea of instant destruction; to the other, there was nothing dreadful ia it but the appearance and the sound, as they had never experienced its power of dispensing death.
While we were on shore, we found that Tupia had commended them beyond their merit, when he said, that they would not steal; for one of them was detected in the fact. But when he was seized by the hair, the rest, instead of running away, as the people at Otaheite would have done, gathered round, and enquired what provocation had been given; but this also may be accounted for, without giving them credit for their superior courage; they had no experience of the consequence of European resentment, which the people at Otaheite had in many instances purchased with life. It must, however, be acknowledged, to their honour, that when they understood what had happened, they shewed strong signs of disapprobation, and page 94 prescribed a good beating for the thief, which was immediately administered.
We now made sail for the island of Ulietea, which lies S.W. by W. distant seven or eight leagues from Huaheine, and at half an hour after six in the evening we were within three leagues of the shore, on the eastern side. We stood off and on all night, and when the day broke the next morning, we slood in for the shore. We soon after discovered an opening in the reef which lies before the island, within which, Tupia told us, there was a good harbour. I did not however, implicitly take hi word, but sent the master out in the pinnace to examine it: he soon made the signal for the ship to follow; we accordingly stood in, and anchored in two and twenty fathom, with soft ground.
The natives soon came off to us in two canoes, each of which brought a woman and a pig. The woman, we supposed, was a mark of confidence, and the pig was a present; we received both with proper acknowledgments, and complimented each of the ladies with a spike nail and some beads, much to their satisfaction. We were told by Tupia, who had always expressed much fear of the men of Bolabola, that they had made a conquest of this island, and that, if we remained here, they would certainly come down to-miorrow and fight us. We determined, therefore, to go on shore without delay, while the day was our own.
I landed, in company with Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, and the other gentlemen, Tupia being also of the party. He introduced us, by repeating the ceremonies which he had performed at Huaheine; after which I hoisted an English Jack, and took possession of this and the three neighbouring islands, Huaheine, Otaha, and Bolabola, which were all in sight, in the name of his Britannic Majesty. After this, we took a walk to a great Morai, called Tapodeboxtea. We found it very different from those of Otaheite, for it consisted only of four walls, about eight feet high, of coral stones, some of which were of an immense size, inclosing an area of about five and twenty yards square, which was filled up with smaller stones; upon the top of it many planks were set up on end, which were page 95 carved in their whole length; at a little distance we found an altar, or Ewhatta, upon which lay the last oblation or sacrifice, a hog of about eighty pounds weight, which had been offered whole, and very nicely roasted. Here were also four or five Ewharre-no-Eatua, or houses of God, to which carriage poles were fitted, like that which we had seen at Huaheine. One of these Mr. Banks examined, by putting his hand into it, and found a parcel about five feet long and one thick, wrapped up in mats; he broke a way through several of these mats with his fingers, but at length came to one which was made of the fibres of the cocoanut, so firmly plaited together that he found it impossible to tear it, and therefore was forced to desist: especially as he perceived, that what he had done already gave great offence to our new friends. From hence we went to a long house, not far distant, where, among rolls of cloth and several other things, we saw the model of a canoe, about three feet long, to which were tied eight humanl jaw-bones: we had already learned that these, like scalps among the Indians of North America, were trophies of war. Tupia affirmed, that they were the jawbones of the natives of this island; if so, they might have been hung up, with the model of a canoe, as a symbol of invasion, by the warriors of Bolabola, as a memorial of their conquest.
Night now came on apace, but Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander continued their walk along the more, and at a little distance saw another Ewharre-no-Ealua, and a tree of the fig kind, the same as that which Mr. Green had seen at Otaheite, in great perfection; the trunk, or rather congeries of the roots of which was forty-two paces in circumference.
On the 21st, having dispatched the master in the long-boat, to examine the coast of the south part of the island, and one of the mates in the yawl, to sound the harbour where the ship lay, I went myself in the pinnace, to survey that part of the island which lies to the north. Mr. Banks and the gentlemen were again on shore, trading with the natives, and examining the products and curiosities of the country; they saw nothing, however, worthy notice, but some more jawbones, page 96 of which they made no doubt but that the account they had heard was true.
On the 22d and 23d, having strong gales and hazy weather, I did not think it safe to put to sea; but on the 24th, though the wind was still variable, I got under sail, and plied to the northward within the reef, with a view to go out at a wider opening than that by which I had entered: in doing this, however, I was unexpectedly in the most imminent danger of striking on the rock; the master, whom I had ordered to keep continually sounding in the chains, suddenly called out, “two fathom.” This aiarmed me; for though I knew the ship drew at least fourteen feet, and that therefore it was impossible such a shoal should be under her keel, yet the master was either mistaken, or she went along the edge of a coral rock, many of which, in the neighbourhood of these islands, are as steep as a wall.
This harbour or bay is called by the natives Oopoa, and, taken in its greatest extent, it is capable of holding any number of shipping. It extends almost the whole length of the east side of the island, and is defended from the sea by the reef of coral rocks. The southermost opening of this reef or channel into the harbour, by which we entered, is little more than a cable's length wide; it lies off the eastermost point of the island, and may be known by another small woody island, which lies a little to the south-east of it, called by the people here Oatara. Between three and four miles north-west from this island lie two other islets, in the same direction as the reef, of which they are a part, called Opururu and Tamou; between these lies the other channel into the harbour, through which I went out, and which is a full quarter of a mile wide. Still farther to the north-west are some other small islands, near which, I am told, there is another small channel into the harbour: but this I knew only by report.
The principal refreshments that are to be procured at this part of the island are plantains, cocoa-nuts, yams, hogs, and fowls; the hogs and fowls, however, are scarce, and the country, where we saw it, is neither so populous nor so rich in produce as Otaheite, page 97 or even Huaheine. Wood and water may also be procured here, but the water cannot conveniently be got at.
We were now again at sea, without having received any interruption from the hostile inhabitants of Bolabola, whom, notwithstanding the fears of Tupia, we intended to visit. At four o'clock in the afternoon of the 25th, we were within a league of Otaha, which bore N. 77 W. To the northward of the south end of that island, on the east side of it, and something more than a mile from the shore, lie two small islands, called Toahoutu and Whennuaia, between which, Tupia says, there is a channel into a very good harbour, which lies within the reef, and appearances confirmed his report.
As I discovered a broad channel between Otaha and Bolabola, I determined rather to go through it, than run to the northward of all; but the wind being right a-head, I got no ground.
Between five and six in the evening of the 26th, as I was standing to the northward, I discovered a small low island lying N. by W. or N. N. W. distant four or five leagues from Bolabola. We were told by Tupia, that the name of this island is Tubai, that it produces nothing but cocoa-nuts, and is inhabited only by three families; though it is visited by the inhabitants of the nighbouring islands, who resort thither to catch fish, with which the coast abounds.
On the 27th, about noon, the Peak of Bolabola bore-N. 25 W. and the north end of Otaha N. 80 W. distant three leagues. The wind continued contrary all this day, and the night following. On the 28th, at six in the morning, we were near the entrance of the harbour on the east side of Otaha, which has been just mentioned; and finding that it might be examined without losing time, I sent away the master in the long boat, with orders to sound it; and, if the wind did not shift in our favour, to land upon the island, and traffic with the natives for such refreshments as were to be had. In this boat went Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, who landed upon the island, and before night purchased three hogs, twenty-one fowls, and as many yams and plantains as the boat would hold. Plantains page 98 we thought a more useful refreshment even than pork, for they were boiled, and served to the ship's company as bread; and were now the more acceptable, as our bread was so full of vermin, that notwithstanding all possible care, we had sometimes twenty of them in our mouths at a time, every one of which tasted as hot as mustard. The island seemed to be more barren than Ulietea, but the produce was of the same kind. The people also exactly resembled those we had seen at the other islands; they were not numerous, but they flocked about the boat wherever she went, from all quarters, bringing with them whatever they had to sell. They paid the strangers, of whom they had received an account from Tupia, the same compliment which they used towards their own Kings, uncovering their shoulders, and wrapping their garments round their breasts; and were so solicitous to prevent its being neglected by any of their people, that a man was sent with them, who called out to every one he met, telling him what they were, and what he was to do.
In the mean time, I kept plying off and on, waiting for the boat's return. At half an hour after five, not seeing any thing of her, I fired a gun, and after it was dark hoisted a light. At half an hour after eight we heard the report of a musquet, which we answered with a gun, and soon after the boat came on board. The master reported, that the harbour was safe and commodious, with good anchorage from twenty-five feet to sixteen fathom water, clear ground.
As soon as the boat was hoisted in, I made sail to the northward, and at eight o'clock in the morning of the 29th, we were close under the Peak of Bolabola, which was high, rude, and craggy. As the island was altogether inaccessible in this part, and we found it impossible to weather it, we tacked and stood off, then tacked again, and after many trips did not weather the south end of it till twelve o'clock at night. At eight o'clock the next morning we discovered an island, which bore from us N. 63° W. distant about eight leagues: at the same time the Peak of Bolabola bore N. ½ E. distant three or four leagues. This island Tupia called Maurua, and said that it was small, wholly surrounded by a reef, and without any harbour for shipping; but page 99 inhabited, and bearing the same produce as the neighbouring islands. The middle of it rises in a high round hill, that may be seen at the distance of ten leagues.
When we were off Bolabola we saw but few people on the shore, and were told by Tupia, that many of the inhabitants were gone to Ulietea. In the afternoon we found ourselves nearly the length of the south end of Ulietea, and to windward of some harbours that lay on the west side of this island. Into one of these harbours, though we had before been ashore on the other side of the island, I intended to put, in order to stop a leak which we had sprung in the powder-room, and to take in more ballast, as I found the ship too light to carry sail upon a wind. As the wind was right against I us, we plied off one of the harbours, and about three o'clock in the afternoon, on the 1st of August, we came to an anchor in the entrance of the channel leading into it, in fourteen fathom water, being prevented from working in by a tide which set very strong out. We then carried out the kedge-anchor, in order to warp into the harbour; but when this was done we could not trip the bower-anchor with all the purchase we could make; we were therefore obliged to lie still all night, and in the morning, when the tide turned, the ship going over the anchor, it tripped of itself, and we warped the ship into a proper birth with ease, and moored in twenty-eight fathom, with a sandy bottom. While this was doing, many of the natives came off to us with hogs, fowls, and plantains, which they parted with at an easy rate.
When the ship was secured, I went on shore to look for a proper place to get ballast and water, both which I found in a very convenient situation.
This day Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander spent on shore very much to their satisfaction; every body seemed to fear and respect them, placing in them, at the same time, the utmost confidence; behaving as if conscious that they possessed the power of doing them mischiefs without any propensity to make use of it. Men, women, and children crouded round them, and followed them wherever they went; but none of them were guilty of the least incivility; on the contrary, whenever page 100 there happened to be dirt or water in the way, the men vied with each other to carry them over on their backs. They were conducted to the houses of the principal people, and were received in a manner altogether new: the people who followed them while they were on their way, rushed forward as soon as they came to a house, and went hastily in before them, leaving, however, a lane sufficiently wide for them to pass. When they entered, they found those who had preceded them ranged on each side of a long mat, which was spread upon the ground, and at the farther end of which sat the family. In the first house they entered they found some very young women, or children, dressed with the utmost neatness, who kept their station, expecting the strangers to come up to them and make them presents, which they did with the greatest pleasure; for prettier children or better dressed they had never seen. One of them was a girl about six years old; her gown, or upper garment, was red, a large quantity of plaited hair was wound round her head, the ornament to which they give the name of Tamou, and which they value more than any thing they possess. She sat at the upper end of a mat thirty feet long, upon which none of the sepectators presumed to set a foot, not withstanding the croud; and she leaned upon the arm of a well-looking woman about thirty, who was probably her nurse. Our gentlemen walked up to her, and, as soon as they approached, she stretched out her hand to receive the beads which they offered, and no princess in Europe could have done it with better grace.
The people were so much gratified by the presents which were made to these girls, that when Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander returned, they seemed attentive to nothing but how to oblige them; and in one of the houses they were, by order of the master, entertained with a dance, different from any that they had seen It was performed by one man, who put upon his head a large cylindrical piece of wicker-work, or basket, about four feet long, and eight inches in diameter, which was faced with feathers, placed perpendicularly, with the tops bending forwards, and edged round with Shark's teeth, and the tail feathers of tropic page 101 birds: when he had put on this head-dress, which is called a Whow, he began to dance, moving slowly, and often turning his head, so as that the top of his high wicker cap described a circle, and sometimes throwing it so near the faces of the spectators as to make them start back; this was held among them as a very good joke, and never sailed to produce a peal of laughter, especially when it was played off upon one of the strangers.
On the 3d, we went along the shore to the north-ward, which was in a direction opposite to that of the route Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander had taken the day before, with a design to purchase stock, which we always found the people more ready to part with, and at a more easy price, at their houses than at the market. In the course of our walk we met with a company of dancers, who detained us two hours, and during all that time afforded us great entertainment. The company consisted of two women dancers, and six men, with three drums; we were informed by Tupia, that they were some of the most considerable people of the island, and that though they were continually going from place to place, they did not, like the little strolling companies of Otaheite, take any gratuity from the spectators. The women had upon their heads a considerable quantity of Tamou, or plaited hair, which was brought several times round the head, and adorned in many parts with the flowers of the cape jessamine, which were stuck in with much taste, and made a head-dress truly elegant. Their necks, shoulders, and arms were naked; so were their breasts also, as low as the parting of the arm; below that they were covered with black cloth, which set close to the body; at the side of each breast, next the arm, was placed a small plume of black feathers, much in the same manner as our ladies now wear their nosegays, or Bouquets; upon their hips rested a quantity of cloth, plaited very full, which reached up to the breast, and fell down below into long petticoats, which quite concealed their feet, and which they managed with as much dexterity as our opera dancers could have done; the plaits above the waist were brown and white alternately, the petticoats below were all white.page 102
In this dress they advanced sideways in a measured step, keeping excellent time to the drums, which beat briskly and loud; soon after they began to shake their hips, giving the folds of cloth that lay upon them a very quick motion, which was in some degree continued through the whole dance, though the body was thrown into various postures, sometimes standing, sometimes sitting, and sometimes resting on their knees and elbows, the fingers also being moved at the same time with a quickness scarcely to be imagined. Much of the dexterity of the dancers, however, and the entertainment of the spectators, consisted in the wantonness of their attitudes and gestures, which was, indeed, such as exceeds all description.
One of these girls had in her ear three pearls; one of them was very large, but so soul that it was of little value: the other two were as big as a middling pea; these were clear, and of a good colour and shape, though spoiled by the drilling. Mr. Banks would fain have purchased them, and offered the owner any thing she would ask for them, but she could not be persuaded to part with them at any price: he tempted her with the value of four hogs, and whatever else she should chuse, but without success; and indeed they set a value upon their pearls very nearly equal to what they would fetch among us, except they could be procured before they are drilled.
Between the dances of the women, the men performed a kind of dramatic interlude, in which there was a dialogue as well as dancing; but we were not sufficiently acquainted with their language to understand the subject.
On the 4th, some of our gentlemen saw a much more regular entertainment of the dramatic kind, which was divided into four acts.
Tupia had often told us that he had large possessions in this island, which had been taken away from him by the inhabitants of Bolabola, and he now pointed them out in the very bay where the ship was at anchor. Upon our going on shore, this was confirmed by the inhabitants, who shewed us several districts or Whennuas, which they acknowledged to be his right.page 103
On the 5th, I received a present of three hogs, some fowls, several pieces of cloth, the largest we had seen, being 50 yards long, which they unfolded and displayed so as to make the greatest show possible; and a considerable quantity of plantains, cocoa-nuts, and other refreshments, from Opoony, the formidable King, or, in the language of the country, Earee rahie of Bolabola, with a message that he was at this time upon the island, and that the next day he intended to pay me a visit.
In the mean time Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander went upon the hills, accompanied by several of the Indians, who conducted them, by excellent paths, to such a height, that they plainly saw the other side of the island, and the passage through which the ship had passed the reef between the little islands of Opururu and Tamou, when we landed upon it the first time. As they were returning, they saw the Indians exercising themselves at what they call Erowhaw, which is nothing more than pitching a kind of lance, headed with a hard wood, at a mark: in this amusement, though they seem very fond of it, they do not excel, for not above one in twelve struck the mark, which was the bole of a plantain tree, at about twenty yards distance.
On the 6th, we all staid at home, expecting the visit of the great King, but we were disappointed; we had, however, much more agreeable company, for he sent three very pretty girls to demand something in return for his present: perhaps he was unwilling to trust himself on board the ship, or perhaps he thought his messengers would procure a more valuable return for his hogs and poultry than he could himself; be that as it may, we did not regret his absence, nor his messengers their visit.
In the afternoon, as the great King would not come to us, we determined to go to the great King. As he was lord of the Bolabola men, the conquerors of this, and the terror of all the other islands, we expected to see a Chief young and vigorous, with an intelligent countenance, and an enterprizing spirit: we found, however, a poor feeble wretch, withered and decrepid, half blind with age, and so sluggish and stupid, page 104 that he appeared scarcely to have understanding enough left to know that it was probable we should be gratified either by hogs or women. He did not receive us sitting, or with any state or formality, as the other Chiefs had done: we made him our present, which he accepted, and gave a hog in return. We had learnt that his principal residence was at Otaha; and upon our telling him that we intended to go thither in our boats the next morning, and that we should be glad to have him along with us, he promised to be of the party.
Early in the morning, therefore, I set out both with the pinnace and long-boat for Otaha, having some of the gentlemen with me, and in our way we called upon Opoony, who was in his canoe, ready to join us. As soon as we landed at Otaha, I made him a present of an axe, which I thought might induce him to encourage his subjects to bring us such provision as we wanted; but in this we found ourselves sadly disappointed, for after staying with him till noon, we left him without being able to procure a single article. I then proceeded to the north point of the island, in the pinnace, having sent the long-boat another way. As I went along I picked up half a dozen hogs, as many fowls, and some plantains and yams. Having viewed and sketched the harbour on this side of the island, I made the best of my way back, with the long-boat, which joined me soon after it was dark; and about ten o'clock at night we got on board the ship.
In this excursion Mr. Banks was not with us; he spent the morning on board the ship, trading with the natives, who came off in their canoes, for provisions and curiosities; and in the afternoon he went on shore with his draughtsman, to sketch the dresses of the dancers which he had seen a day or two before. He found the company exactly the same, except that another woman had been added to it: the dancing also of the women was the same, but the interludes of the men were somewhat varied; he saw five or six performed, which were different from each other, and very much resembled the drama of our stage dances. The next day he went ashore again, with Dr. Solander, and they directed page 105 directed their course towards the dancing company, which, from the time of our second landing, had gradually moved about two leagues in their courses round the island. They saw more dancing and more interludes, the interludes still varying from each other: in one of them the performers, who were all men, were divided into two parties, which were distinguished from each other by the colour of their clothes, one being brown, and the other white. The brown party represented a master and servants, and the white party a company of thieves: the master gave a basket of meat to the rest of his party, with a charge to take care of it: the dance of the white party consisted of several expedients to steal it, and that of the brown party in preventing their success. After some time, those who had charge of the basket placed themselves round it, upon the ground, and leaning upon it, appeared to go to sleep; the others, improving this opportunity, came gently upon them, and lifting them up from the basket, carried off their prize: the sleepers soon after awaking, missed their basket, but presently fell a dancing, without any farther regarding their loss; so that the dramatic action of this dance was, according to the severest laws of criticism, one, and our lovers of simplicity would here have been gratified with an entertainment perfectly suited to the chastity of their taste.
On the 9th, having spent the morning in trading with the canoes, we took the opportunity of a breeze, which sprung up at east, and having stopped our leak, and got the fresh stock which we had purchased on board, we sailed out of the harbour. When we were sailing away, Tupia strongly urged me to fire a shot towards Bolabola, possibly as a mark of his resentment, and to shew the power of his new allies: in this I thought proper to gratify him, though we were seven leagues distant.
While we were about these islands, we expended very little of the ship's provisions, and were plentifully supplied with hogs, fowls, plantains, and yams, which we hoped would have been of great use to us in our page 106 course to the southward; but the hogs would not eat European grain of any kind, pulse, or bread-dust, so that we could not preserve them alive; and the fowls were all very soon seized with a disease that affected the head so, that they continued to hold it down between their legs till they died: much dependance therefore must not be placed in live stock taken on board at these places, at least not till a discovery is made of some food that the hogs will eat, and some remedy for the disease of the poultry.
Having been necessarily detained at Ulietea so long, by the carpenters in stopping our leak, we determined to give up our design of going on shore at Bolabola, especially as it appeared to be difficult of access.
To these six islands, Ulietea, Otaha, Bolabola, Huaheine, Tubai, and Maurua, as they lie contiguous to each other, I gave the names of Society Islands, but did not think it proper to distinguish them separately by any other names than those by which they were known to the natives.
They are situated between the latitude of 16° 10′ and 16° 55′ S. and between the longitude of 150° 17′ and 152° W. from the meridian of Greenwich. Ulietea and Otaha lie within about two miles of each other, and are both inclosed within one reef of coral rocks, so that there is no passage for shipping between them. This reef forms several excellent harbours; the entrances into them, indeed, are but narrow, yet when a ship is once in, nothing can hurt her. The harbours on the east side have been described already; and on the west side of Ulietea, which is the largest of the two, there are three. The northermost, in which we lay, is called Ohamaneno: the channel leading into it is about a quarter of a mile wide, and lies between two low sandy islands, which are the northermost on this side; between, or just within the two islands, there is good anchorage in twenty-eight fathom, soft ground. This harbour, though small, is preferable to the others, because it is situated in the most fertile part of the island, and where fresh water is easily to be got. The other two harbours lie to the southward of this, and not far from the south end of the island: in both of them there is good anchorage, with ten, twelve, page 107 and fourteen fathom. They are easily known by three small woody islands at their entrance. The southermost of these two harbours lies within, and to the southward of the southermost of these islands; and the other lies between the two northermost. I was told that there were more harbours at the south end of this island, but I did not examine whether the report was true.
Otaha affords two very good harbours, one on the east side, and the other on the west. That on the east side is called Ohamene, and has been mentioned already; the other is called Oherurua, and lies about the middle of the south-west side of the island; it is pretty large, and affords good anchorage in twenty and twenty-five fathom, nor is there any want of fresh water. The breach in the reef, that forms a channel into this harbour, is about a quarter of a mile broad, and like all the rest is very steep on both sides; in general there is no danger here but what is visible.
The island of Bolabola lies N. W. and by W. from Otaha, distant about four leagues; it is surrounded by a reef of rocks, and several small islands, in compass together about eight leagues. I was told, that on the south-west side of the island there is a channel through the reef into a very good harbour, but I did not think it worth while to examine it, for the reasons that have been just assigned. This island is rendered very remarkable by a high craggy hill, which appears to be almost perpendicular, and terminates at the top in two peaks, one higher than the other.
The land of Ulieta and Otaha is hilly, broken, and irregular, except on the sea coast, yet the hills look green and pleasant, and are in many places clothed with wood. The several particulars in which these islands and their inhabitants differ from what we had observed at Otaheite, have been mentioned in the course of the narrative.
We pursued our course without any event worthy of note till the 13th, about noon, when we saw land bearing S. E. which Tupia told us was an island called Oheteroa. About six in the evening, we were within two or three leagues of it, upon which I shortened sail, and stood off and on all night: the next page 108 morning stood in for the land. We ran to the leeward of the island, keeping close in shore, and saw several of the natives, tho' in no great numbers, upon the beach. At nine o'clock I sent Mr. Gore, one of my lieutenants, in the pinnace, to endeavour to land upon the island, and learn from the natives whether there was anchorage in a bay then in sight, and what land lay further to the southward. Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander accompanied Mr. Gore in this expedition, and as they thought Tupia might be useful, they took him with them.
As the boat approached the shore, those on board perceived the natives to be armed with long lances; as they did not intend to land until they got round a point which ran out a little distance, they stood along the coast, and the natives therefore very probably thought they were afraid of them. They had now got together to the number of about sixty, and all of them sat down upon the shore, except two, who were dispatched forward to observe the motions of those in the boat. These men, after walking a-breast of her for some time, at length leaped into the water, and swam towards her, but were soon left behind; two more then appeared, and attempted to board her in the same manner, but they also were soon left behind; a fifth man then ran forward alone, and having got a good way a-head of the boat, before he took to the water, easily reached her. Mr. Banks urged the officer to take him in, thinking it a good opportunity to get the confidence and good will of a people, who then certainly looked upon them as enemies, but he obstinately refused; this man therefore was left behind like the others, and so was a sixth, who followed him.
When the boat had got round the point, she perceived that all her followers had desisted from the pursuit: she now opened a large bay, at the bottom of which appeared another body of men, armed with long lances like the first. Here our people prepared to land, and pushed towards the shore, a canoe at the same time putting off to meet them. As soon as it came near them, they lay upon their oars, and calling out to them, told them that they were friends, and that if they would come up they would give them nails, which were page 109 were held up for them to see: after some hesitation they came up to the boat's stern, and took some nails, that were offered them, with great seeming satisfaction; but in less than a minute they appeared to have formed a design of boarding the boat, and making her their prize: three of them suddenly leaped into it, and the others brought up the canoe, which the motion in quitting her had thrown off a little, manifestly with a design to follow their associates, and support them in their attempt. The first that boarded the boat, entered close to Mr. Banks, and instantly snatched his powder-horn out of his pocket; Mr. Banks seized it, and with some difficulty wrenched it out of his hand, at the same time pressing against his breast, in order to force him over-board, but he was too strong for him, and kept his place; the officer then snapped his piece, but it missed fire, upon which he ordered some of the people to fire over their heads; two pieces were accordingly discharged, upon which they all instantly leaped into the water; one of the people, either from cowardice or cruelty, or both, levelled a third piece at one of them as he was swimming away, and the ball grazed his forehead; happily, however, the wound was very slight, for he recovered the canoe, and stood up in her, as active and vigorous as the rest. The canoe immediately stood in for the shore, where a great number of people, not less than two hundred, were now assembled. The boat also pushed in, but found the land guarded all round with a shoal, upon which the sea broke with a considerable surf; it was therefore thought advisable by the officer to proceed along the shore in search of a more convenient landing-place: in the mean time the people on board saw the canoe go on shore, and the natives gather eagerly round her to enquire the particulars of what had happened. Soon after, a single man ran along the shore, armed with his lance, and when he came a-breast of the boat, he began to dance, brandish his weapon, and call out in a very shrill tone, which Tupia said was a defiance from the people. The boat continued to row along the shore, and the champion followed it, repeating his defiance by his voice and his gestures; but no better landing-place being found than that where the canoe page 110 had put the natives on shore, the officer turned back with a view to attempt it there, hoping, that if it should not be practicable, the people would come to a conference, either on the shoals or in their canoes, and that a treaty of peace might be concluded with them.
As the boat rowed slowly along the shore back again, another champion came down, shouting defiance, and brandishing his lance; his appearance was more formidable than that of the other, for he wore a large cap made of the tail-feathers of the tropic bird, and his body was covered with stripes of different coloured cloth, yellow, red, and brown. This gentleman also danced, but with much more nimbleness and dexterity than the first; our people therefore, considering his agility and his dress, distinguished him by the name of Harlequin. Soon after a more grave and elderly man came down to the beach, and haling the people in the boat, enquired who they were, and from whence they came? Tupia answered in their own language, “from Otaheite.” The three natives then walked peaceably along the shore till they came to a shoal, upon which a few people were collected; here they stopped, and after a short conference, they all began to pray very loud: Tupia made his responses, but continued to tell us that they were not our friends. When their prayer, or, as they call it, their Poorah, was over, our people entered into a parley with them, telling them, that if they would lay by their lances and their clubs, for some had one and some the other, they would come on shore, and trade with them for whatever they would bring: they agreed, but it was only upon condition that we would leave behind us our musquets: this was a condition which, however equitable it might appear, could not be complied with, nor indeed would it have put the two parties upon an equality, except their numbers had been equal. Here then the negociation seemed to be at an end; but in a little time they ventured to come nearer to the boat, and at last came near enough to trade, which they did very fairly, for a small quantity of their cloth, and some of their weapons; but as they gave our people no hope of provisions, nor indeed any thing else, except they would venture through a narrow channel to the shore, page 111 which, all circumstances considered, they did not think it prudent to do, they put off the boat and left them.
With the ship and the boat we had now made the circuit of the island, and finding that there was neither harbour nor anchorage about it, and that the hostile disposition of the people would render landing impracticable, without bloodshed, I determined not to attempt it, having no motive that could justify the risk of life.
The bay which the boat entered lies on the west side of the island, the bottom was soul and rocky, but the water so clear that it could plainly be seen at the depth of five and twenty fathom, which is one hundred and fifty feet.
This island is situated in the latitude of 22° 27′ S. and in the longitude of 150° 47′ W. from the meridian of Greenwich. It is thirteen miles in circuit, and rather high than low, but neither populous nor fertile, in proportion to the other islands that we had seen in these seas. The chief produce seems to be the tree of which they make their weapons, called in their language Etoa; many plantations of it were seen along the shore, which is not surrounded, like the neighbouring islands, by a reef.
The people seemed to be lusty and well-made, rather browner than those we had left: under their arm-pits they had black marks about as broad as the hand, the edges of which formed not a strait but an indented line; they had also circles of the same colour, but not so broad, round their arms and legs, but were not marked on any other part of the body.
Their dress was very different from any that we had seen before, as well as the cloth of which it was made. The cloth was of the same materials as that which is worn in the other islands, and most of that which was seen by our people was dyed of a bright but deep yellow, and covered on the outside with a composition like varnish, which was either red, or of a dark lead-colour; over this ground it was again painted in stripes of many different patterns, with wonderful regularity, in the manner of our striped silks in England; the cloth was painted red, and striped with black, and that which page 112 was painted lead-colour with white. Their habit was a short jacket of this cloth, which reached about as low as their knees; it was of one piece, and had no other making than a hole in the middle of it, stitched round with long stitches, in which it differed from all that we had seen before; through this hole the head was put, and what hung down was confined to their bodies by a piece of yellow cloth or sash, which passing round the neck behind, was crossed upon the breast, and then collected round the waist like a belt, which passed over another belt of red cloth, so that they made a very gay and warlike appearance. Some had caps of the feathers of the tropic bird, which have been before described, and some had a piece of white or lead coloured cloth wound about the head, like a small turban, which our people thought more becoming.
Their arms were long lances, made of the Etoa, the wood of which is very hard; they were well polished and sharpened at one end; some were near twenty feet long, though not more than three fingers thick. They had also a weapon which was both club and pike, made of the same wood, about seven feet long; this also was well polished, and sharpened at one end into a broad point. As a guard against these weapons, when they attack each other, they have mats folded up many times, which they place under their clothes from the neck to the waist; the weapons themselves indeed are capable of much less mischief than those of the same kind which we saw at the other islands, for the lances were there pointed with the sharp bone of the sting-ray that is called the sting, and the pikes were of much greater weight. The other things that we saw here were all superior in their kind to any we had seen before; the cloth was of a better colour in the dye, and painted with greater neatness and taste; the clubs were better cut and polished, and the canoe, though a small one, was very rich in ornament, and the carving was executed in a better manner; among other decorations peculiar to this canoe was a line of small white feathers, which hung from the head and stern on the outside, and which, when we saw them, were thoroughly wetted by the spray.page 113
Tupia told us, that there were several islands lying at different distances and in different directions from this, between the south and the north-west; and that at the distance of three days sail to the north-east there was an island called Manua, Bird-island: he seemed, however, most desirous that we should sail to the westward, and described several islands in that direction, which he said he had visited: he told us that he had been ten or twelve days in going thither, and thirty in coming back, and that the Pahie in which he had made the voyage, sailed much faster than the ship: reckoning his Pahie therefore to go at the rate of forty leagues a-day, which, from my own observation, I have great reason to think these boats will do, it would make four hundred leagues in ten days, which I compute to be the distance of Boscawen and Keppel's Islands, discovered by Captain Wallis, westward of Ulietea, and therefore think it very probable that they were the islands he had visited. The farthest island that he knew any thing of to the south ward, he said, lay at the distance of about two days sail from Oteroah, and was called Moutou; but he said that his father had told him there were islands to the southward of that: upon the whole, I was determined to stand southward in search of a continent, but to spend no time in searching for islands, if we did not happen to fall in with them during our course.