« PředchozíPokračovat »
Their idea was that the ship had come from the sky, and that the officers were divinities; the question whether they were so was constantly repeated, and although every endeavour was made to convince them to the contrary, yet the disclaimer produced no effect. Their continual singing and chaunting was supposed to arise from the desire to propitiate us.
When a number of the officers had collected in the male, the two oldest of the men, seating themselves on the ground, with two short sticks, commenced chaunting and drumming on a large stick, whilst another wrapped a net about his middle, and began to dance: the more they were interrupted, the more vigorous became their efforts, both in the song and dance.
These islanders were thought by all to be a docile, harmless people, although they possessed, in common with all other savages, a strong propensity to theft. Many of the officers lost small articles out of their pockets, which were no doubt taken at the time of their affectionate embraces. Just as they were leaving the island, a hatchet was missed, which was supposed to be stolen; on the loss being made known to them, a prodigious excitement ensued. The old chief, or he who had been pointed out as the " alike," jumped up with much energy, and made a speech with a stentorian voice and excessive volubility, while his whole frame was agitated. The natives immediately separated in all directions, and in a short time the missing hatchet was produced.
They had no knowledge of the use of tobacco, so general among the other islanders of Polynesia, and when shown some, they made signs to know if it was edible. On being given a cigar, they examined it very closely, and being induced to light it, attempted to imitate the motions of smoking; but instead of drawing in the breath to ignite it, pursued a directly opposite course, and very soon returned it with some agitation, apparently rejoiced to get rid of it. The natives accompanied them in a body to the beach, and saw them safely into the boats.
Dip and intensity observations were made here; they likewise had a perpendicular cast of the lead, half a mile from the shore, with three hundred fathoms; but they found no bottom.
Nineteen varieties of trees were found, some of which were of a large growth; among which were seen large Tournefortia, covered with Asplenium and Polypodium, species of ferns, which gave it quite a venerable appearance; a pandanus more than thirty feet high. A tree, believed to be a Pisonia, was more than twenty feet in circumference at its base, and about forty feet high. A beautiful species of
ficus, the Cape jessamine of Tahiti, and the "nono," used as a dye were both growing wild.
Some tame oceanic pigeons, plovers, and a noddy, were seen about their town, with numerous water-fowl, but no land-birds. Rats were numerous, as was also a large black lizard.
On the 26th, the vessels sailed for the Duke of Clarence Island, but, owing to the unfavourable state of the weather, they did not reach it until the 28th, though only a few miles distant, when it was surveyed, and found to be seven and two-tenths miles long, in a north and south direction, and five miles wide from east to west. It is of a triangular shape, with the apex to the north. It has a lagoon similar to that of the Duke of York's, with islets in it; the northwest side is a bare reef, or wash, on which the sea breaks heavily. After the survey was effected, Captain Hudson found it impossible to land to hold communication with the natives, but has no doubt of its being inhabited, as it was spoken of by the inhabitants of the Duke of York's Island as belonging to the same people, and was called by them Nukunono. No opening was perceived into the lagoon, and there were many cocoa-nut and other trees on the island.
On the 28th, in the afternoon, they bore away for the purpose of looking for the islands of Gente Hermosas of Quiros. During the night the weather was squally, with heavy rain, accompanied with thunder and lightning; aud it is a source of regret, that at this time the rain-gauge was out of repair, and no observations were made as tc the quantity which fell, or its temperature.
At 2h 30m A. M., whilst Lieutenant Emmons had the deck, the night being very dark, and the weather clear, he heard the distant sound of surf; soon afterwards the wind changed, when land was discovered close to the vessel, bearing northeast. They made signal to the tender, and hove-to till daylight, when the largest island they had yet seen was within two miles of the ship.
This proved to be a new discovery, as it was not to be found on any chart. The island, which I have named Bowditch, agreeably to the wish of Captain Hudson, was of coral formation, and its shape is that of a triangle, with the apex to the south. From north to south it is eight miles long, and in width, from its west point, four miles. On its southwest and north points the land is of considerable elevation, and the more elevated parts are connected by an extensive coral reef, that is awash. On the east side the land is more continuous, and on three parts there are extensive groves of cocoa-nut trees and shrubbery. There is no entrance for a vessel to the lagoon, which, from the appear. ance of the water, has but little depth.
At daylight, eighteen canoes, with four or five persons in each, were seen off the end of the island, apparently on a fishing excursion: they disregarded the vessels altogether, and continued their occupation, without taking any notice of them, and as if unwilling to lose the opportunity of taking the fish. The fish seemed to be extremely numerous, if the actions of the birds were to be taken as an indication, for immense numbers of them were seen darting into and rising from the sea every
As the natives refused to come near the ship, Captain Hudson ordered two boats to be sent to open a communication with them. They were taking fish after the manner of the Samoans, by trolling a line, it being fastened by a pole eight or ten feet long to the stern of the canoes, and elevated above the surface to a sufficient height to allow the fish-hook, which was made of shell or bone, to drag along the surface of the water; as their canoes were propelled, the fish, attracted by the glistening of the hook, eagerly caught at it, and were taken.
The canoes were single, with out-riggers, and resembled those of Samoa, being partly decked over the fore part, and with the same small protuberances or pegs, to which were fastened the ovula-shell. No sails were observed, but a small model of a canoe, purchased among the curiosities, had the usual triangular sail.
UNION GROUP CANOE.
The natives were at first very shy of the boats; but the Hawaiians who were in them, soon induced them to approach, and enter into trade, and finally enticed them alongside the ships. On coming near, they began a song or chaunt, holding up their paddles and mats, and shouting "kafilou tamatau." They resembled the natives of Oatafu, or Duke of York's Island, wore the same kind of mats, eye-shades, and ornaments, and some were tattooed after the same manner. Some, however, were tattooed in a different style, being ornamented with a variety of arrows on the forehead and cheeks. They were all finely formed, and manly in appearance, with pleasing countenances that expressed good-nature.
They seemed eager enough for trade, and soon disposed of all they had to exchange; a few presents were also made them, but all inducements failed to entice them on board. They appeared very cheerful, laughing heartily at any thing that struck them as ridiculous.
The annexed wood-cut is from an accurate sketch by Mr. Agate, and exhibits the tattooing above spoken of.
There was a necessity now for beginning the duties of the survey, and guns were to be fired for bases by sound. Attempts were made before the firing, to explain to them what was to be done, in hopes their fears might not be excited, and thus cause their desertion, as at the Duke of York's Island; but the moment the first gun was fired, they hurried off for a short distance to hold a parley. The second gun caused them to start at full speed for the land, and they did not slacken their efforts until they reached it.
Three boats, with several of the officers, landed on the southwest point of the island, whither four or five canoes accompanied them, the confidence of the natives being restored. When they came near the reef, the surf was found to be breaking heavily on it, which caused them to hesitate in attempting to land at that place; but, after looking for some distance, and finding no better place, they determined to try it. The natives, in the mean time, had been passing through the surf, by placing their canoes on the heaviest roller, and, paddling with great energy, reached the beach upon it, without difficulty.
Following their example, our boats landed with the same ease and safety.
The islet on which they now were was covered with cocoa-nut trees, but there were no houses upon it. They called it Fakaafo, which was the same as the natives of Oatafu had designated as the
island where their great chief lived. Oatafu was well known here, as well as the Duke of Clarence's Island, which they called Nukunono. It was observed that they spoke of their own island as the Fanua Loa, or the Great Land; and it, with the two islands just referred to, were all the lands of which they had any knowledge.
The only person our officers saw who appeared to have any authority, was an old man, whom they called Taufaiga, and designated as a priest, and who was considered fakatapa (sacred). The name they gave to the god of the island was Tui-Tokelau, whose residence was pointed out as being in the skies. Mr. Hale, by his questions, elicited that they called their great deity by the same name, with the customary addition of Tagaloa ilaya-i-te-layi-Tagaloa above in the heavens. They ascribed our origin to the same place, and could not be convinced that we were not deities, but only men (tagata lava).
Near the south end of the island was a small lagoon of salt water. Towards sunset, the natives gave them notice that it was time for them to return to their town, upon which our party embarked and joined the ship.
During the night, they had heavy rains, and stood on and off the island. In the morning, Captain Hudson landed, opposite the islet on which the town was situated, with four boats. The surf was breaking heavily, and they were well drenched, being obliged to wade over the reef, which was from knee to waist deep.
The king and about two hundred natives awaited their approach. The former was seated in advance, with about twenty old men; the rest stood behind, and all began to gesticulate and chaunt, as if under great excitement. They pointed to the sun and howled, spreading mats, and making motions for our party to be seated. Our gentlemen complied with their request, and the king, after embracing Captain Hudson, rubbed noses, pointed to the sun, howled, moaned, rubbed his nose over the captain's chin, hugged him again and again, put a mat around his waist, securing it with a cord of human hair, repeating the rubbing of noses, and howled for twenty minutes. The same ceremony was gone through with by minor chiefs, with the other officers.
The king, whose name was Taupe, was somewhat advanced in years, with a grave countenance. He had a sickly look, and his legs were much affected with the elephantiasis. Notwithstanding this, however, he would have been deemed a fine-looking man. He was thought to be under much greater agitation from fear than any of his subjects. The moment Captain Hudson attempted to leave his side, he would set up a most piteous howl and point to the men. He continued