Historical Records of New Zealand
Lieutenant Menzies to Sir Joseph Banks (Banks Papers)
Lieutenant Menzies to Sir Joseph Banks (Banks Papers).
I was favoured with your letter by the Dædalus, storeship, on our arrival here about twenty days ago. This ship has been about eleven months on her passage from England. On this side of Cape Horn she touched at the Marquesas, and in a few days after leaving them at a cluster of islands, where they found a fine harbour, and received good refreshments and much civility from the inhabitants. Though these were a new discovery to them, we have since learned that the Americans claim a priority.
They afterwards touched at the Sandwich Isles, where they unfortunately lost Lieut. Hergest, Mr. Gooch the astronomer, and one seaman at the Island of Woahoo, on the 10th of May last. The manner in which this fatal accident happened (they say) was thus: The vessel was laying off and on in Whyteetee Bay, on the south side of Woahoo, while they were procuring water and refreshments. Lieut. Hergest conceiving that this business was going on rather dilatory, ordered a few empty casks into the boat, and he and Mr. Gooch went on shore unarmed, to see the duty forwarded. While the casks were filling they both took a short walk back into a neighbouring plantation, and in the meantime a scuffle happened on the beach between the boat’s crew and the natives, in which one seaman was killed before they could get to the few arms they had in the boat. Some of the boat’s crew afterwards landed, and saw at a distance a group of the natives surrounding Messrs. Hergest and Gooch, hustling them back into the mountains, and stripping them, as they thought, of their clothes. The natives now arming themselves on all sides, with clubs, spears, and stones, obliged them to retreat to their boat for safety and join the ship, which soon after came to an anchor, and on the following day sent an armed boat on shore to demand the two gentlemen, when they were informed of their being both massacred on the preceding evening, and could procure no part of them, as the natives were all armed on an adjacent hill, where it was not in their power to use any compulsive means. Thus situated they left the Sandwich Island, and arrived here about the beginning of July.
I shall now proceed to give you a short account of our own progress since the date of my last letter to you from the Cape of Good Hope. We left that place on the 27th of August, 1791, and afterwards experienced a series of tempestuous weather until we passed the meridian of the east end of Madagascar. On the 26th September we made the coast of N. Holland, in the lat. of 35° south and long. 116° 15″ east. We coasted on to the eastward for about 33 leagues, when we entered a harbour which obtained the page 144 name of King George Sound, in lat. 35° 5″ south and long. 118° 16″ east. Here we remained for about a fortnight, which gave me an opportunity of examining the country in various excursions round the south, making a copious collection of its vegetable productions, particularly the genus BANKSIA, which are here very numerous. The climate appears to be exceedingly favourable. The soil tho’ light is good, and productive of a vast variety of vegetables, particularly inland, where the country appears chiefly covered with wood, diversified with pleasing pasturage and gentle rising hills of a very moderate height, well watered in many places by small rivulets. Whatever grains grow at the Cape would, I am certain, flourish here in greater perfection; in short, it is a delightful country, and well worth a more particular investigation from Government on account of its nearness and easy access to our settlements in India. We saw no natives or quadrupeds of any kind during our stay, tho’ some recent traces of the former were very evident in two deserted villages at the head of the Sound.
After leaving it we traced the coast about sixty leagues further to the eastward, and quitted it on the 15th of October, in the latitude of 34° 22″ south, and about the longitude of 122° east, shaping our course for Van Dieman’s Land, which we made on the 26th, and passing round it on the following day entered Dusky Bay, N. Zealand, on the 2nd Nov., where we remained twenty days, and where I was particularly entertained among a vast variety of cryptogamic plants, of which I have made a tolerable good collection, and added a new genus to the order of Musci. Next day, after departing from Dusky Bay, we discovered, in a violent gale of wind which separated us from our consort, a cluster of dreary barren rocks and islets, which we called the Snares, off the south-west end of N. Zealand, in lat. 48° 3″ south and long. 166° 20″ east; and in our passage we discovered a small inhabited island, about eight or nine leagues in circumference, in the lat. of 27° 36″ south and long. 215° 57″ east from Greenwich.
We anchored in Mattavai Bay on the 30th December, where we joined our consort,* who arrived about a week before us. Here the natives informed us of the departure of Capt. Edwards in the Pandora, frigate, with 13 of the Bounty’s people, but we are now sorry to learn of her being since lost in the Endeavour Straights.
* The Chatham. Lieutenant Menzies was on board Captain Vancouver’s ship, the Discovery.
* See Lord Grenville’s despatch, ante, p. 122.
He lived on shore at a very decent planked house, considering the situation, where he kept an open table, I may say, for the officers of every vessel that visited the port, and supplied them on board with greens and milk daily.
On our arrival he told Capt. Vancouver that he would put him in possession of this territory and port, † agreeable to his orders and the wish of his Catholic Majesty, giving up all the houses, gardens, &c., &c., as they stood, and that he would haul down the Spanish colours before he went away, and on our hoisting the English colours that he would salute the British flag. But on the arrival afterwards of an American trader, Capt. Inghram, he wonderfully prevaricated from his first intentions, as we believe by the advice of this man (Inghram), and would not give up any part excepting a small nook of the cove, about 100 yards wide, where Mr. Mears had his house and built his vessel, which could not be accepted of.
Don Quadra left this place a few days ago in the brig for St. Blas, parting with us in the most friendly manner, and leaving Don Coamano and a frigate to command here in his absence, but we expect to see him soon again on our way to the southward at the port of Monterey in Callifornia. He put himself under my care as a patient on or arrival here for a severe head-ache of which he complained, he said, for upwards of two years, and I was extremely happy that my endeavours proved serviceable in the re-establishment of his health before he went away.
* The Dædalus.
† Ante, p. 122.
Mr. Mudge, 1st lieu’t of the Discovery, goes home by the way of China with dispatches for the Admir’y, under whose care I send this and a box of seeds directed to you for his Majesty’s gardens; and as it is said that the Chatham will sail in the course of a few days for England by the way of Cape Horn I will embrace that opportunity to send duplicates.
I am also happy to acquaint you that Mr. Johnstone is lately promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and I have, &c.,