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consists of a few natives. There are three detached reefs to the eastward, and within a few miles of it.
Oneata lies north of Motha, and forms the northern side of the Oneata Channel. It is of good height, and may readily be known by Observatory Isle to the northeast, two hundred and fifty feet in height, with three lofty trees on its apex. The reef around Oneata is also extensive; it has two good entrances on the northeast side, and three on the west.
Not being able to pass through the reef of Oneata, Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold bore away to the northwest for Lakemba, which is twelve miles distant. At nine o'clock on the 15th the Porpoise was off its south side, and as the boats were preparing to land, a canoe was seen leaving the beach, having on board the missionary, the Reverend Mr. Calvert, belonging to the Wesleyan Society. He had been on the island more than a year, and succeeded the Rev. Messrs. Cargill, Cross, and Jagger, who had removed to the larger and more important islands of the group. Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold and some of the officers returned with him to the island, where they were kindly entertained by him and his lady. Mr. Calvert did not express himself favourably regarding the natives, describing them as cruel and bloodthirsty, and said it was the prevailing custom to destroy all shipwrecked persons. Cannibalism, however, is now extinct on this island.
The king of Lakemba, Tui Neau, was found seated in a large canoe-house, near the landing, with a numerous retinue of almost naked natives about him. He is a corpulent nasty-looking fellow, and has the unmitigated habits of a savage. He is said to have one hundred wives! He exercises despotic power over all the surrounding islands, has the character of being a cruel tyrant, and lives in the midst of all kinds of excesses. The settlement is dirty and badly built, but has some large houses. In it were seen numbers of ugly women and children. Salomon, the Tonga chief, left the brig at Lakemba; he had been of but little use as a pilot in consequence of being sea-sick nearly the whole time, which was somewhat singular for a person who was almost constantly engaged in navigating canoes. In his stead they procured a person whose name was Thaki. Thaki was a very respectable old man, and had many letters of recommendation, giving him the highest character. Among them was a letter from some shipwrecked sailors, who by his exertions were saved from death, and afterwards supplied by him with every thing that was necessary, until they got on board an English vessel. Chevalier Dillon, also, had given him a printed document. All of these papers Thaki takes great pride in showing, and carries them constantly with him. He had been
at Sydney, and had evidently profited much by his trip. He was acquainted with the characters of Napoleon and Washington, and when prints of them were shown him, he expressed a desire to have them, which was complied with. On seeing a likeness of the Duke of Reichstadt, he asked if he had not been poisoned. The print of General Jackson was highly prized by him.
Mr. Calvert was landed in the evening, and the next morning, the 16th, the brig resumed the surveying duties, the islands of Komo, Ularua, and the Aivas, (both the high and low,) Oneata, and Motha, all in the neighbourhood of Lakemba, were observed on and explored.
At night there was a violent squall, accompanied with lightning and rain. Among these islands and numerous reefs, such squalls become very dangerous, but fortunately they are not of long duration.
The two Aivas are both uninhabited; they lie between Lakemba and Oneata, and are surrounded by an extensive reef, with the exception of a large opening in the northeast side, which affords anchorage, exposed, however, to the northeast winds.
On the 17th they were engaged in exploring the great Argo Reef. Its native name is Bocatatanoa, and it is one of the most extensive and dangerous in the group. Its English name is derived from the loss (on its southeast end) of the English brig Argo, which happened in the year 1806.
The outlying reefs off Angasa and Motha, were also examined and surveyed. Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold then proceeded towards Oneata. Here they found excellent anchorage, under Observatory Isle, near a settlement on the northeast side of the island. A second anchorage is to be found off the west side of the island, near a large sandy bay. No water is to be had here, except from wells, but there is abundance of fruit, vegetables, and poultry. The population is two hundred. Two Tahitian missionaries were found here, and about one half of the people are Christians.
The natives showed themselves sharp traders. They seldom adhere to the value they have set upon an article, after their first demand is agreed to, but ask a more exorbitant price, and show an indisposition to comply with their engagements. It was amusing to witness the trade between them and the sailors. They generally took a fancy to some one thing, and nothing would suit them but it. Bottles were found here to be the articles in most request, and a porter-bottle would purchase two baskets of yams or sweet-potatoes, and be received in preference to knives or cloth.
The village is situated on the south side of the island, in a grove of cocoa-nut trees, but from the clouds of musquitoes, was not the most
inviting place. Their plantations seemed to be well taken care of, and large patches of taro, yams, potatoes, some corn (maize), and young plantains, were in fine condition. The soil is made up of decomposed lava. Large quantities of scoriaceous matter were scattered over the island, and some pumice-stone was seen floating about.
There was a small church, plastered and whitewashed, with its burying-ground attached. Old Thaki here pointed out the graves of two of his children, side by side. At the foot of the graves he had planted a fragrant shrub, which he said he had brought from Lakemba for the purpose, as the plant did not grow at Oneata. Much pains had been taken with many of the graves, and a few of them were neatly laid out.
The Tahitian missionaries prepossessed all in their favour by their quiet and orderly behaviour. They have many recommendations from the former visiters to the island. They have been on Oneata upwards of twenty years, having been placed there, as they said, by Mr. Williams, who was the pioneer for so many years in the missionary field, in which service he lost his valuable life.
Observatory Island was made one of the magnetic stations, and Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold also obtained there a full set of observations for latitude and azimuth, sights for chronometers, and a round of angles on all the islands and reefs in sight. The weather being unfavourable, they did not succeed in finishing the survey of Oneata and its reefs until the 23d. Tiana, the pilot whom they took on board at Fulanga, was here parted with. He had proved very serviceable, and possessed much knowledge of this part of the group. Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold gave him his discharge with many presents, and a certificate of his good conduct and abilities as a pilot.
The officers frequently visited the shore. The natives seemed to vie with each other as to who should appear most in the European garb. The native missionaries, and some others, wore ruffled shirts marked P. Dillon. These, with a straw hat, constituted their only clothing, except the maro.
Quantities of vegetables were brought for trade, which gave an opportunity of procuring a supply for the crew that was much needed. The few days they spent here were the only ones since the preceding November, that they had had any respite from duty, having, with the rest of the squadron, been kept in a constant state of activity, and, much of the time, on very arduous and fatiguing service.
The southern side of Oneata is a mass of lava, somewhat resembling the clinkers of the Sandwich Islands, to be spoken of hereafter. This rock is comparatively recent, having undergone but a slight
decomposition. Deep chasms were occasionally met with. The whole is partially covered with vines and creepers, and the shore was lined with mangroves.
The men enjoyed the opportunity of a walk on shore, and also the chance of bathing. Old Thaki, with many expressions of regret, brought off a hatchet and gimlet that had been stolen the day before, and had not yet been missed. These islanders are particularly anxious to obtain iron tools, and seem to prefer the axes of American manufacture to those of England, considering the former more serviceable.
On the 22d, they sailed, and continued the surveys to the eastward, towards the Bocatatanoa, or Argo. Reef. Besides the brig Argo, another vessel, by the name of the Harriet, is said to have been lost here. According to Thaki's report, all hands from one of these vessels were killed, while only a few from the other escaped. He remembers the occurrence, but it was a long time ago. This extensive reef was examined, when Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold, having heard of the arrival of the Flying-Fish, with a pilot and despatches, returned to Lakemba.
Here they took on board Tubou Totai and Corodowdow, with their suites, whom I have mentioned before, as having been left by the Flying-Fish, the former to act as pilot.
It is remarkable that, up to this time, in all their trials of the current, they had found it setting to the eastward about half a mile per hour, varying in direction from east-northeast to east-southeast. This fact is confirmed by the information obtained from the natives, that canoes which are wrecked to the westward are always drifted upon these islands.
On the 28th, Mr. Totten and Dr. Holmes were despatched on shore, to ascend Kendi-kendi, the highest peak of the island of Lakemba, for the purpose of making observations and getting its height by sympiesometer. The altitude was thus found to be seven hundred and fourteen feet. The ascent was not difficult, for a regular path led to the highest point. The ruins of a town were found on it, called Tumboa, from which the Tonga chiefs of the family of Tubou Totai are supposed to have derived their name, as has been before mentioned. This town was occupied for the purpose of defence against their enemies, both Tongese and Feejees.
Mr. Calvert and his lady received them most kindly at the mission, as they had already done the other officers. The house and out-buildings are comfortable, and the church, which stands near the missionhouse, is a good building, eighty feet long by thirty-two wide, and
twenty-five feet high. The latter is convenient and appropriate to its purpose, and its floor is covered with mats. At 4 P. M. the hollow log drum was beaten for prayers, which the officers attended with Mr. Calvert. There were only fifteen persons present. A Tonga man officiated, as Mr. Calvert was fatigued with his morning jaunt; and the services consisted of singing and prayer. There are about fifty resident Christians, nearly all of whom are Tongese, of whom about one-third of the population is composed; and they have literally taken possession of the island, for they never work, but subsist on the labour of the Feejee population, who hold them in much awe. The difference between the two races was as striking here as at Ovolau. Heathenism is fast passing away at Lakemba, and its absurd rites are held in ridicule by most of those who are still considered as heathens. The influence of the priest is diminished, and the temple or mbure has fallen into decay.
Lakemba is the largest island in the eastern group. It is five miles in diameter; its shape is nearly round, with an extensive encircling reef. There is an opening, on its eastern side, sufficient for large vessels, but dangerous, from the number of coral patches which stud it. The town is on the south side, and contains about two-thirds of the population of the island, (one thousand people.)
Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold, with his officers, again visited the king, Tui Neau, at his house, which is really very little better than a large pig-pen: it is about one hundred feet long by thirty wide, and has in it, after the example of the king of Rewa, two old rusty ninepounders, mounted on damaged carriages. There were a great number of women about the king, and some chiefs. He appeared to be too fat to be able to exert himself. He is about the middle size as to height, slovenly in his person and habits, with a dull-looking countenance, childish in his behaviour, and has been found to be mean and niggardly in his disposition. In proof of this character, a few circumstances will be given, which I have from the missionaries, and which happened while they resided there.
On the occasion of some thefts having been committed on the missionaries at Lakemba, they made complaint in a formal manner to the king. They were shortly afterwards surprised by a visit from a messenger, with many apologies, and the presentation of five small sticks, on which were stuck five little fingers that had been cut off from those who had committed the thefts, as a propitiation for their losses!
A poor man happening to offend a high chief by the name of Togi, one of the brothers of Tui Neau, king of Lakemba, the chief in revenge, took his wife from him; but the woman was so unhappy, that