Murihiku: A History of the South Island of New Zealand and the Islands Adjacent and Lying to the South, from 1642 to 1835
CHAPTER XIX. — The Far South, 1820 to 1830
The Far South, 1820 to 1830.
THE period under review opens with the visit of the Russian Expedition to Macquarie Island. It is not our province to follow Bellingshausen during his long voyaging; it is sufficient to mention that he returned to Sydney and sailed thence via Macquarie Island for the Antarctic, on Sunday, 31st October, 1820. Macquarie Island was sighted on 17th November. The visit of the expedition is told in the leader's own words in the narrative following, which, as in the case of the preceding chapter, is translated from the Russian, and attention is called to it, firstly as a translation from an exceedingly rare work, and secondly as the best word picture of the life of the Macquarie sea-elephant hunter, ever penned. When we recollect that our nation supplied, almost without exception, the skin and oil hunters of the far south during these early days, it seems marvellous that we should have to go to a Russian source to learn how they did their work.
“At three o'clock in the morning we put on sail; with the dawn the shore soon appeared before us at 82° N.E. which we recognised as the island Macquarie; we saw a great number of columbine storm-birds, a few albatrosses and one Port-Egmond hen. At 5 a.m. I directed our course towards the northern end of the island. At 9 a.m., coming nearer, we perceived rocks washed by the breakers; I recognised the rocks as the very same which are indicated on the Arosmith map under the name of ‘the Judge’ At 1 p.m., having gone round these rocks on the north side for about half a mile, I directed my course to the north-east side of the island Macquarie, and approaching it page 276 protected by the shore, I brought the ship to leeward, whilst I sent M. Zavadovsky on a skiff into the bay to the lower isthmus, which divides the high northern promontory from the island. I told him to see if he could find a streamlet where we might fill our casks with fresh water. M. Michailow also went with M. Zavadovsky in order to make a sketch of the view, and Messrs. Simanow and Demidow accompanied them out of curiosity. M. Lazarew and a few officers from the sloop Mirny also went on shore.
“We had imagined that the island Macquarie was covered with eternal ice and snow, like the island of Southern Georgia, as both are situated in the same hemisphere and in the same latitude. We were therefore greatly surprised when we discovered that the island Macquarie is covered with beautiful green, with the exception, of course, of the stone cliffs which are of a gloomy dark colour. We looked through the telescope and found that the coast was covered with gigantic sea-elephants, known as the Phoca proboscidea, and with penguins. A great number of sea birds were flying on the shore.
“At 4 p.m., I was glad to notice a rowing-vessel coming towards us from the south along the shore, on the east side of the island; soon a second vessel followed the first. These vessels belonged to traders from Port Jackson; they were sent out for the train-oil of the sea-elephants; one detachment remained on the island 9 months and the other 6 months. The merchants complained that they remained four months without work, they had filled their casks and had no empty ones, and as their provisions were beginning to be scarce, they were not at all pleased to hear from us that the vessel Marie-Elizabeth, which was coming to take their place was still busy taking in timber at Port Jackson at the moment of our departure and could therefore not be expected so soon.
“I learned from these traders that there was a great quantity of fresh water on the island, the most convenient place to fill the casks being in the middle of the island where page 277 they had camped; they offered their services. I gave orders that they should be regaled with biscuits and butter and also with grog,—of which drink, highly esteemed by them, they had been deprived for months; they grew more loquacious in consequence and offered their services even more heartily than at first.
“At 5 p.m., a big sea-elephant bleeding from its wounds was swimming alongside the sloop Wostok. We sent another two bullets into him and a long stream of blood remained on the surface of the sea. I intended to send a boat in pursuit, but the traders told me it was impossible to kill him in the water, whilst on the shore there were great quantities of them and we could easily pick out the finest.
“At 8 p.m. our skiff returned; we had remained all the time near the shore whither they had been sent.
“M. Zavadovsky informed me that on approaching the shore he saw the breakers dashing against the rocks. He choose a place where the shore was steep, the swell was very heavy, but there were inlets and he managed to land although with some difficulty; then our travellers saw before them a wide stretch covered with penguins of three different species and with hugh sea-elephants, whose peaceful sleep nothing could disturb. Two species of penguins belonged to those which we had already seen before, near the island Georgia, and on the ice, whilst the third species in greater numbers than the two first, M. Saunders had already met on the island Querhelen and mentioned it in the third voyage of Captain Cook. A shot fired by M. Zavadovsky at one of the sea-elephants awoke them all, but they only opened their eyes, began to low and again fell asleep. Some of them were very big. One, however rose on his hind legs, opened his jaws and began to roar. M. Zavadovsky fired a case shot right into his mouth, at a short distance, but the monster did not fall, he only threw himself backwards into the sea, swimming away; it was evidently the same we saw wounded near our sloop.page 278
“Continuing along the shore they noticed a row of casks with iron hoops as well as huts with closed doors: The skins taken from the sea monsters were being dried there; our travellers also noticed a great quantity of birds. M. Demidow, not budging from the spot, shot about twenty Port-Egmond hens. A little further along the shore they met a great quantity of penguins, which the merchants call ‘royal ones.’
“These penguins did not get out of the way and they had therefore to be dispersed. M. Zavadovsky and the others noticed that each bird had an egg which it kept between its legs, pressing it to its belly with the beak so that it formed a small cavity, its lower part resting on the feet, the egg was thus held tightly; in order not to drop the egg, the penguins do not run, but jump on both feet at once. Our travellers also saw a penguin covered with a shaggy skin, like that of a racoon only a little softer. On their way back M. Zavadovsky took with him one penguin with a shaggy skin, and several of the royal penguins; he also took a number of eggs, various kinds of herbs, stones and several skins of young sea-elephants and their train-oil; he also shot some Egmond-hens, sea and other gulls and one parrot, but he could find no fresh water.
“Having lifted the skiff on to the bumkins we turned from the shore and directed our course during the night, to N.N.E. The wind from N.W. became stronger, the sky was covered with clouds so that we were obliged to take in two reefs in each of the top-sails. The night was very dark. At 10 p.m. the same evening whilst I was walking on the deck we suddenly felt two shocks, as if the sloop had touched a shallow place. I gave orders to throw the sounding lead, but no ground was touched for 60 sazhens; we therefore concluded that we had either knocked against a sleeping whale or had passed a layer of stones and knocked against it, which of course, might have been disastrous to us. The sloop Mirny was then under the wind across. M. Lazarew sent the lieutenant Annenkof in a rowing vessel page 279 to inform me that his sloop had touched a shallow place, but that they could find no ground with the sounding lead for 50 sazhens. This information somewhat dispelled my doubts. The two shocks felt by both vessels at the same moment could not have been caused by a sleeping whale nor by submarine-sands. I informed M. Lazarew that exactly the same thing had happened to us and that the shocks were evidently the result of an earthquake, as only in such a case could we have felt the same number of shocks at the very same moment. Towards midnight the wind increased and we took a third reef in the top-sails. At midnight we could touch no ground with the sounding-lead of 65 sazhens. I was then quite convinced that there were no shallow places in the vicinity. Before daybreak we returned towards the shore adding sail and beating to windward. We searched for a streamlet where we could fill our casks with water. At ten o'clock the traders came from the shore and pointed to their habitations, which however we could hardly distinguish from the shore, as they were very small and of the same colour as the coast. At midday we reached the place and bringing our vessels to leeward sent rowing-boats, under the command of Lieutenant Lyeskof, with one trader on each, so that they should pilot them through the rocks; the sloops remained under sail not far from that place.
“At 2 o'clock p.m. I went on shore with Messrs.Lazarew, Torson and Michailow; approaching the sharp rocks against which the back waves were breaking with great noise, we could see no way to the shore until lieutenant Lyeskof made a sign to us from the shore to show us where there was a passage between the rocks. We landed just at the huts. The rowing-boats were quite out of danger; they were protected from the breakers by the rocks. The head-trader met us and took us into his hut which was 20ft. in length and 10 in breadth; the walls inside were covered with the skins of sea-elephants whilst outside they were covered with grass, that grew on the island. At one end of the hut there page 280 was a fire place and a lamp in which a fire was kept continually alight. As there were neither wood nor coals, a piece of fat of sea-elephant was burning on the hearth, whilst the lamp was filled with molten fat; near the hearth stood a bedstead; in the other half of the hut the provisions were kept; it was so dark and gloomy from soot and smoke-black that the glimmering lamp-light and the chink filled up with a bladder could scarcely light the interior of the hut, and until we got accustomed to the darkness we had to be led by the hand; the dwellings of the other traders were better.
“The head-trader also told us that last night they had felt two shocks of an earthquake. He himself had already lived on the island Macquarie for 6 years; occupying himself with the melting of the fat of the sea-elephant; the Phlca proboscidea; of other sea animals there were none on this island, which had only recently become a centre for the majority of the merchants from Port Jackson. The abundance of sea-bears had been the cause that a great number of vessels came straight from South-Wales for the skins which were much in request in England, where a good sea-bear skin was worth as much as one guinea; but an unlimited demand soon resulted in a complete destruction of the sea-bears.
“At present on the island Macquarie they only dealt with the fat of the sea-elephant. Having killed the sleeping animal, they cut off his fat, put it in large kettles placed on stones, so that there should be room for the fire, which is made up with the same fat. Then the casks are filled with the liquid fat. One part is sent to New South Wales, whilst the remainder is shipped direct to England, where a good price is paid for it. There were, at that moment, two parties of traders on the island, one consisting of 13 and the other of 27 men. Their manner of life was somewhat more bearable than that of the traders whom we met in South Georgia; both live on the same sea birds, on the paws of the young sea-elephants, the eggs of the penguins page 281 and other birds; but the traders on this island have the advantage of a better climate and have also at their disposal an excellent remedy against scurvy in the shape of a certain wild cabbage, which is found in great abundance on this island. This cabbage is distinguished from the other herbs growing on the island by its dark herbage; it has large horizontal leaves bordered with festoons. The surface of the cabbage is dark, whilst the inner (lower) part of it is of a light green colour; the stalks, which are about one foot long, and the leaves are rough, the colour of the middle stalk is white like that of a cauliflower; the greatest part of the root which is about two inches wide, is on the ground and the off-shoots of the same grow into the ground. The taste of the root is something like that of a cabbage stump. The traders scrape the roots and the stalks, cut them up very thinly and boil them for soup. We collected a great quantity of that cabbage, stocking ourselves with it for our servants, whilst for the officers' table we made pickles from the roots. We prepared some tasty cabbage soup out of the (fermented) preserved pieces and regretted that we had not obtained more. The naturalists Messrs. Fischer and Eichenwald in St. Petersberg afterwards examined the leaves of this herb and named it Gunnera, the second kind of herb they called Cryptostules, whilst the third sort with which the whole island is covered they said was an undefinable, colourless herb. It appeared to us, however, to be an ordinary grass, the only difference being that it grows a little higher on account of the humidity of the climate; the sheep ate it very willingly.
“Of quadrupeds there are on the island Macquarie wild dogs, and cats, which hide amongst the dense herbage; they have been brought over by the Europeans and left behind. Thus Lieutenant Oberneebessof of the sloop Mirny left behind a dog and if the traders do not treat it kindly it will certainly join the wild dogs. We went along the sandy coast to have a look at the sea-elephants who sleep for 2 or 3 months without moving from their places. One of the page 282 traders accompanied us, he carried with him an implement with which the elephants are beaten. This implement is 4½ ft. long and 2 inches thick, the exterior end of it has a spheric shape, is 4 or 5 inches in diameter, is iron-mounted and bound with sharp pointed nails. When we approached one peacefully sleeping elephant, the trader hit him with his implement on the bridge of the nose; the animal opened its jaws and began to roar in a plaintive voice, but had no strength to move; the trader took a knife and saying that it was a pity to see the poor beast suffer cut it four or five times in the neck, the blood welled up like a fountain, forming a circle; the elephant heaved one more sigh and died. The big elephants, besides this blow with the implement, are also pierced right through the heart with a spear, so as to keep them on the spot.
“The old male animals whom we saw were about 20 ft. in length. They have a trunk of about 8 inches long and at the end of it there are nostrils. They usually come out of the water upon the grass and lie in holes which seem to be made by the heaviness of their bodies, as the soil here is rather porous. The snout of the female elephant and of the young males resemble that of pug-dogs. They also have no trunks; on their paws which serve them as fore legs they have 5 united toes with nails; the traders use these paws as food and say that those of the young ones are very tasty. The elephants have no tails; they have large dark eyes; their skin is used to line (clout) boxes and cases.
“We had by this time met in the Southern Hemisphere three species of penguins and all three were to be found on the island Macquarie; they do not mix on shore; each species occupies a separate place and forms a particular herd. The albatross, the Port Egmond hens, the columbine stormbirds come to the island to lay their eggs and to hatch their young. During our presence there they were already hatching. The traders require no arms nor powder, they simply kill the birds with sticks and use them as page 283 nourishment, considering them a very tasty food. There is an abundance of fresh water on the island; it flows from the mountain, near the camp of the traders, and it is quite easy to fill the small casks. Besides, we have seen fresh water in many other places, where it is flowing directly into the sea, but it is not easy to make use of it on account of the breakers. To our great surprise we saw on this half-cooled down island a number of middle size parrots, all belonging to the same species. According to the traders this island was discovered by the vessel Hazelbourg from New South Wales in 1810 and is part, as it appears, of a submarine mountain range, the summits of which form a chain of islands, such as: New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Norfolk, New Zealand, the islands Lord Auckland and Macquarie. The surface of the island is nearly everywhere of the same level and is covered with a porous soil overgrown with bushes and grass, similar to that in the northern regions. It is 17 miles long and 6 miles wide; its direction is N½E. S½W. Its latitude in the middle is 54° 38′ 40″ southern and its longitude 158° 40′ 50″ eastern. The rocks known as the Judge and the Scribe are surrounded by a bank ¼ of a mile long, and are situated in a latitude 54° 23′ 5″ southern, and in a longitude 158° 45′ 50″ eastern. On the map of Mr. Arosmith the island Macquarie is situated 1° 5′ more towards the east, whilst the rocks the Judge and Scribe are placed 13′ more southwards.
“The winds in this island are mostly western, the north wind is always accompanied by humidity and rain, the south wind is very cold, whilst the east wind occurs rarely but is very violent. Having no thermometer the traders could not calculate the temperature in winter; everyone described it according to his feelings and all differently. All however, agree that ice is carried by the current in winter towards the island from the south, remaining on the coast for a considerable time.
“At 5 o'clock we returned to our vessels with our booty, which consisted of 2 albatrosses, and 20 dead and page 284 one live parrot, the last one of the traders sold me for 3 bottles of rum.
“During the following inspection of the island a barge and a skiff kept the sloops constantly supplied with water.”
Accompanying the narrative is a very fine chart of the island showing the position of the watering places and the movements of the vessel. There are also views of the island and of the landing place showing sea-elephants and penguins in characteristic attitudes.
Encouraged by the success of the other Hobart boats in making up a cargo at Macquarie Island, the Emerald (Elliott) in May, 1821, took down a gang of 25 men, fitted out for 12 months, and left them at the Island. She returned on the 11th of June having been absent only 25 days.1 The following year she sailed from Sydney for the relief of the gang she had left, calling en route at Hobart on 7th September, 1822. On 31st October she returned to Hobart with 150 tons of oil and the Hobart Town gang she had relieved.2 On 4th December she sailed for England with her cargo of oil.
The new system of carrying on the Macquarie Island sealing trade spread to Sydney. In the “Sydney Gazette” of 20th August, 1821, occurs the following advertisements of two ships getting ready at the one time to sail for Macquarie Island:
“The Ship Midas, Captain Beveridge, will proceed at an early Period, to Macquarie Island; all Claims are therefore to be presented to Mr. Joseph Underwood, George Street.
“The Ship Surry, Thomas Raine, Master, is about to proceed forthwith to Macquarie Island, and will return direct to Sydney; Captain Rayne avails himself of this Medium of soliciting the Patronage of Holders of Colonial Produce, in Hope, by this timely Intimation, they will reserve their Freight for England for the Ship Surry, to sail in all January, 1822.”
The Surry sailed on 4th September and the Midas on the 27th of the same month, and they returned to Sydney on 6th December and 23rd January, 1822, respectively.
The year 1822 produced nothing in the Sydney trade calling for special mention beyond the Lusitania, Langdon, sailing Home from Hobart Town, via Macquarie Island, on 14th February and the visit of the Mariner from Sydney about the end of the year. Captain Douglass, the master of the latter gives us a most invaluable description of the class of men who constituted the gangs on the island.3
“As to the Island, it is the most wretched place of involuntary and slavish exilium that can possibly be conceived: nothing could warrant any civilized creature living on such a spot, were it not the certainty of industry being handsomely rewarded; thus far, therefore, the poor sealer, who bids farewell, probably for years, to the comforts of civilized life, enjoys the expectation of ensuring an adequate recompense for all his dreary toil. As to the men employed in the gangs, the most appalling account is given:—They appear to be the very refuse of human species, so abandoned and lost to every sense of moral duty. Overseers are necessarily appointed by the merchants and captains of vessels to superintend the various gangs, but their authority is too often invariably contemned, and hence arises the failure of many a well-projected and expensive speculation. The overseer is clothed with no other power than that of mere command, a compliance with which is quite optional to those under him. We are happy, however, to bear testimony to one fact, which is indeed pretty proverbial, that the native youths of this Colony still maintain their character for industry and exemplary attention to their employer's interest. Some few of these young men are upon this Island and their unceasing industry, combined with their alacrity always to obey, so page 286 “engaged the attention of Captain Douglass, that this Gentleman actually declares he would not take a gang to any of the islands, unless they consisted of the native youth of New South Wales because, from their assiduity, he should be able to calculate upon the most ample success to any reasonable undertaking. This is a character, we trust, that the Australians, in every sphere of life, will endeavour to preserve from the very appearance of blemish.”
Referring to a period in Macquarie Island history coinciding with that described by Captain Douglass, Cunningham thus picturesquely describes the wild savagery and lawlessness which characterized the life of the gangs on this desolate “mountain on the boisterous bosom of the Southern Ocean.4
“Gangs of men remain on the island throughout the year, to kill the sea-elephants that frequent it, and to boil down the oil. Parties belonging to two or three individuals are frequently living here at one time, and as keenly contested wars have occasionally raged among them for the dominion of a half mile of coast of this dreary purgatory, as ever took place between the rival heroes of Rome for the dominion of the world; and the combatants, in their long beards, greasy seal-skin habiliments, and grim, fiend-like complexions, looked more like troops of demons from the infernal regions, than baptized Christain men, as they sallied forth with brandished clubs to the contest. Their provisions are supplied from Sydney, the fire for cooking, and the light for their study and their toilet, being all derived from the oil, which is kept burning in a dish with an ample wick; and the wretched stone and turf-walled and grass-roofed hovels they inhabit, are rendered as dingy and dismal thereby as the interior of an Esquimaux palace, and send forth an odour to which that of nightman's museum of foul abominations page 287 “is myrrh and frankinsense. They are paid according to what oil they procure, and expend their earnings chiefly on the island in such necessaries as they may want, but principally in wines, spirits and tobacco.”
The system of utilizing Macquarie Island to pick up cargo for the return voyage to England continued.
“For London direct. The fast sailing ship Regalia (A1) William Collins Commander. Will sail in 10 days for Macquarie Island, and expected to return to Sydney in about 6 weeks, when she will immediately proceed direct to London, with such passengers and wool as may offer; for the former this ship is well known to be particularly adapted. Apply to Robert Campbell, Agent, Campbell's Wharf, 18th February, 1823.”
The Regalia sailed on 13th March and returned on 30th May, with 280 tons of oil and the Sydney gang which had procured it.5 While the author was searching the files of the “New Bedford Mercury” of 1828, he found, under date 18th July, mention made that the Palmyra had, on 4th November, 1827, called at Amsterdam Island and taken off two men, Jas. Paine and R. Proudfoot, who had resided there since September, 1826. On being hailed by the chief officer, Addison, of the Palmyra, Paine recognised the voice of his old chief mate on the Regalia, when he had been with her at Macquarie Island.
The same year (1823) the Lynx, Siddons, procured 150 tons of oil and during her voyage met with very heavy weather, being blown off Macquarie Island for 7 weeks, losing a cable and anchor. For relief she had to make for Hobart Town.6
We have seen to what condition the sealing trade had been reduced at Macquarie Island by the year 1815, owing to the indiscriminate slaughter carried on with such short-sighted policy. It was a race for wealth comparatively easily obtained, and the end was reached without a page 288 moment's consideration for the future. But if we are astonished at the incredible folly which, in so short a time, produced such disastrous results, we are much more amazed at the marvellous recuperative powers of the persecuted amphibians. A rest in the intensity of the slaughter for five years seems to have been sufficient to restock the coast with numbers sufficient at any rate to pay the adventurous hunter. Looking back to these early sealing days, we must deplore that no steps were taken to preserve, by means of proper regulations and effectual supervision, this great asset of the southern seas. Perhaps at the time this was impossible, at any rate the result was that a great source of national wealth was completely destroyed in a comparatively little time.
A vessel called the Caroline, of the House of Edward Lord of Hobart Town, now engaged in the Macquarie Island trade. She is first noted as returning with sea elephant oil on 11th July, 1823.7 She sailed again with Captain Taylor on 25th September, and is reported in Hobart Town on 30th January, as having reached Sydney from the island with a full cargo of oil. She returned to Sydney on her third trip with 90 tons of oil on 22nd April. During this trip Captain Taylor discovered a reef of rocks, which he reported for the information of shipping.
Caution to Mariners. N.W. by N. (by compass) six leagues from the Northernmost breakers and the Judge's Clerk, lays a very dangerous reef of rocks under water. The sea broke very heavy on two different parts. I passed close to it with the ship. It was seen by myself, my officers and whole crew.D. Taylor.
The Caroline again left Sydney on 17th November, 1824, and arrived at Macquarie Island on 15th February following. This proved her last trip to Macquarie Island. There a cargo of 160 tons of oil was put on board of her. On 16th March everything was in readiness for her to sail to another part of the island for the remainder of her cargo. The weather at this time was moderate and page 289 continued so until two o'clock on the morning of the 17th, when a sudden and very heavy gale came on without any of the warnings which usually give a crew some little time to prepare to meet it. The wind blew with such tempestuous fury that nothing human could withstand it. The ship was driven ashore with three bowers ahead; and in spite of every exertion she became a total wreck. It was some consolation that none of the men perished. They all reached the shore in safety, but were unable to carry with them out of the ship anything but a trunk, the only article that could be hoisted up the cliff, and this was done by a rope before the vessel parted in two. Then they found themselves cast upon a desolate island, without either provisions or clothing, excepting what they stood up in. When the ship broke up, part of the cargo, some 48 tons of oil and some boxes, were washed ashore. On this island the master and crew remained upwards of five dreary months until the arrival of the brig Wellington on 30th August. The wrecked vessel was not insured.8
Meanwhile concern began to be manifested in Sydney and Hobart Town. An American vessel called the Yankee brought to Sydney the news, that the Elizabeth and Mary would on her return bring tidings of the long missing vessel. In Hobart, Dr. Hood, the agent of Mr. Lord to whom the Caroline belonged, chartered the brig Cyprus to go down to Macquarie Island, remove the oil collected there, and bring away the gang left by the ship now so long missing.9 On 1st September the Wellington sailed for Sydney, taking Captain Taylor and some of his crew to procure a vessel to take off the oil from the island. After she had sailed the Cyprus arrived, and, on the 17th of the same month with the remainder of the crew and with 66 tons of oil, sailed for Hobart, where she arrived on 1st October. While lying at Macquarie Island the Cyprus lost an anchor and a chain cable, worth upwards of £100. She also lost all her bulwarks in a gale. Among her passengers, the Cyprus took up to Hobart a prisoner, who had been on the island for no less than three years.10page 290
Among the manuscript Hobart Records11 the author unearthed the actual manifest of the Cyprus for this voyage. It reads as follows:—
Manifest of Cargo laden on board the Brig Cyprus, Geo. K. Todd Master from Macquarie Island to Hobart Town British built and of the Burthen of 108 tons or thereabouts.
Marks Nos Packages Shippers Consignees None No of casks unknown containing 16,800 gs or 66 tons 168 gs. T. Dodds S. Hood 1 cs Hollands 1 Cask Flour 1 Tierce Beef 1 Puncheon bread 5 Bags do 1 Chest tea Geo. K. Todd.
On the arrival of the Wellington at Sydney, the owners of the wrecked vessel decided to sell her, and on 6th October, 1825, the sale of the wreck was advertised in the following form:—12
Sales by Auction
by Mr. Pritchett.
At the King's Wharf, on Saturday next, the 8th inst., at noon precisely, on account of those concerned.
Sundry Articles, as they now lay on Macquarie Island, appertaining to, and saved from, the Wreck of the Ship Caroline and more or less damaged; comprising a nearly new main-top-sail; mainsail, main-trysail, mainstaysail, foretopsail, foretopmast-staysail jib, and mizen-topsail; the fore, main, and cross-jack yards; fore, main, and mizen-topsail yards; also, the fore, main, and mizzen top gallant yards; about 90 fathoms of 15 inch bower cable, new, in 3 lengths; about 90 fathoms of 1 1.8 inch bower chain page 291 “cable; part of a stream cable, and part of a hawser; best part of the lower standing rigging and topmast rigging complete; a quantity of blocks, double and single; hooks and thimbles; a quantity of sheet copper and copper bolts. Also, the Ship's Long Boat, quite new, cut in two, and lengthened to 30 feet keel, 12 feet beam, and 6 feet in depth, more than half finished, and, when completed, would make a most useful craft of 25 to 30 tons burthen.
Conditions—Ready money; and the purchaser to abide by all chance and risks.
The last portion of the advertisement, where it mentions that the ship's long-boat had been cut in two and lengthened to a 30 feet keel, 12 feet beam and 6 feet in depth, would indicate that Taylor and his men had begun to despair of relief and had tackled the problem of getting off the island in the ship's long-boat, which they had half-finished when the Wellington arrived. The sale realised £37 10s., the purchaser being Underwood, the owner of the relieving vessel Wellington. On 26th October, Underwood's two vessels, the Wellington and the Perseverance, sailed for Macquarie Island, evidently to secure what had been purchased of the wreck. They returned to Sydney on 22nd and 27th December respectively with 125 tons of oil between them.
The year 1826 rather belied the prophecies of those who stated that the Macquarie Island trade was ruined. Considering the Hobart Town trade as well as the Sydney, as great an amount of shipping made for the extreme southern islands as had ever been known to seek its storm-bound coast. No less than eight visits were made by six different vessels, but nothing of moment is recorded for our information. Mr. Underwood, who was interested in the southern trade, visited the islands in the Perseverance, as also did Mr. White in the Brutus. The Sydney Packet, which sailed in August, took 22 men and their stores to Mr. J. McQueen's oiling establishment at Caroline Bay, Macquarie Island.page 292
The following year the trade continued with equal vigour. The Sydney Packet, having taken in 56 tons of oil from the west side of Macquarie Island, left for Auckland Island, where she procured wood and water, intending to go round Cape Horn and so on to England. Captain Taylor sailed on 4th March and made eastward, but after being 10 hours at sea, it was discovered that the vessel had sprung a leak and could not continue her journey. An attempt was made to reach Sydney, but such a steady succession of northerly weather was encountered that the idea of reaching that port had to be abandoned, and a course was shaped for the Derwent, which was reached on 8th March.13
Of the other vessels in the trade this year the Perseverance made two trips, bringing in all 88 tons of oil to port, and the Governor Arthur, which had been purchased by Mr. McQueen for £900 for the Macquarie Island trade, two trips, with 23 tons. The Elizabeth and Mary brought seal skins with her other cargo and called at New Zealand. In her one trip the Lord Rodney brought up 100 tons. The Rolla completed the list for the year, sailing for London via Macquarie Island.
The busy trade of 1826 and 1827 appears to have been too much for the islands to maintain, and beyond one trip at the end of the year, there are records of only two voyages in 1828. One of these was by the Elizabeth and Mary (June to September), when she met with very severe weather, losing her boats and bulwarks. The other was the last voyage of the Perseverance. This vessel left Sydney on 7th September with fishing stores, and a call at New Zealand was in her programme. Two years passed before tidings were heard of her. On 22nd September, 1829, the Elizabeth and Mary returned to Sydney with her crew, with the news that the vessel herself had been wrecked at Campbell Island in October, 1828. Beyond a statement that two of the crew were drowned, no particulars were given.
The Perseverance, it will be remembered, was the discovery vessel of Campbell Island in 1810, and, with the page 293 exception of a short period when used as a hulk at Sydney, had been employed in the Southern New Zealand trade all that time. With the news of her wreck appears to have completely died out all trade to the Far South. One vessel only, in 1829, sailed for Macquarie Island—the Faith, on 22nd December—and on her return brought two gangs of men who had been left there thirty months before. For all that time they had lived for the most part on mutton birds, which is the first reference to that southern table delicacy we have found. They reported that the swarms of elephants and seals had now left the island, owing to their continued persecution. Several men belonging to the gangs are stated to have got away, but it is not explained in what manner. When the Faith appeared off the island, the cook of one of the gangs became so overjoyed at the termination of his long exile that he laid his head between his mate's feet and quietly expired. The gangs had collected 200 tons of oil, of which 60 were brought up in the Faith. The sailors caused considerable amusement in Sydney by bringing up numbers of Macquarie Island parrots, “which are the glibbest birds of the loquatious tribe,” to sell or give away among their friends.
Again, as is the case of the Solander Island gangs, it is to be regretted that no mention is made of the vessel which left these men ashore. If correctly described as having been left there for thirty months, at a date which would probably be about February, 1830, the gangs must have been left there about August, 1827. The Elizabeth and Mary left Sydney for Macquarie Island on 13th April and 2nd August, 1827, and we have no record of a vessel between these dates. The Perseverance, however, sailed on 20th August, and left Macquarie Island on her return on 25th September, visiting the island again about the beginning of 1828. On her next trip she was, in October, wrecked at Campbell Island. The story of the gang fits in with the movements of the Perseverance.