Obrázky stránek

groves, which was utterly impassable. I lay down upon the sand, determined to await here until some surveying boat might chance to pass; this was but a poor alternative, as I was not aware the island was to be surveyed in this manner, nor was it so surveyed. I had heard that it was inhabited, and of course could have little hope of kindness from a Feejee native. I pushed on a short distance, and lay down quite worn out. I had had no food or drink for eight or nine hours, and had been incessantly upon the move in a very hot day; the muscles of my legs were cramped and painful, and I could go no farther. I committed myself to fortune. I had lain a few moments only when I heard voices behind me, and looking around saw two huge natives, both well armed and running to the spot where I was lying; one was entirely naked, and the other wore a maro only. I was totally unarmed, and rising, offered my hand to the foremost one, at the same time giving them the native greeting. I was rejoiced to see that one of them was a Tongese. They shook hands with me in the most friendly manner, at the same time expressing and inquiring where I came from, who I was, and how I got there. I told them, as well as I could, that I was a Turanga Papalangi,' belonging to a • huanga-levu,” lying in the bay, and had lost my way; at the same time requesting them to guide me back to her, and provide me with water to quench my thirst. After a little parley, during which they were joined by two other Feejee men, they despatched one after cocoa-nuts, and began to examine my clothes and body, showing great curiosity, but being very respectful and good-natured. The nuts were soon brought, and, refreshed by the delicious draught, I set off to follow my guides, not without great distrust. But a short distance was sufficient to deprive me of all strength, and I could drag myself no farther; after a consultation, one of them took me upon his back and carried me through the mangroves, another proceeding with a hatchet, to cut a path. At last I was brought safely to the spot where I had landed from the brig; guns from the brig, fired for me, served to guide my leaders. A boat was immediately sent for me, and I was taken on board, worn out with fatigue, but full of joy and gratitude for my safe return.”

These men accompanied Dr. Holmes on board, and were liberally rewarded for their kindness, with hatchets, cloth, paint, fish-books, &c.

The inhabitants of this island amount to about thirty; they reckon ten Feejee men and five Tongese, with their families. They have an abundance of provisions, consisting of pigs, fowls, (which are said to be wild in the woods,) yams, taro, and cocoa-nuts. A few women were seen, but they were kept at a distance.


After remaining for another day on account of the weather, Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold concluded that he ought to rejoin the squadron at Muthuata, on account of his provisions becoming short. He therefore got under way and stood for Rambe Island. This is a lofty island, and very much broken; it is in full view from Somusomu; is well wooded, with many deep bights or indentations; one of these, on its southeast side, affords anchorage. There is a large settlement on its northwest side. Between it and Vanua-levu there is a passage, though it is much studded with reefs. The island of Rambe on the southeast, with Point Unda on the northwest, are the two boundaries of the bay of Natava.

After making some observations on Rambe, Lieutenant Commandant Ringgold stood over for Unda Point, and steered along the reef to the Sau-sau Passage. When the Porpoise entered this passage, she was boarded by Lieutenant Case, and came to anchor. From Lieutenant Case, Lieutenant-Commandant Ringgold received my instructions of the 9th, and was furnished with a pilot. After supplying Lieutenant Case's boats, he proceeded with the Porpoise through the channel, along the north shore of Vanua-levu, until he joined me off the island of Anganga, as before stated.

It would have been desirable, at this time, to give all hands a rest, before undertaking this second examination. But, from the nature of the service, and working against time, as we were constantly obliged to do, I found it impossible, and particularly so now, as our provisions were at a low ebb, and we could not procure any nearer than the Sandwich Islands, whither our supplies had been sent.

On the 17th, we all got under way at daylight, having strong breezes from the southward and eastward. The brig was ordered to take the first cutter of the Vincennes in tow; we ran across to Yendua Island, through a large number of coral patches, whose exact locality it was impossible to fix. The whole is foul ground, and ought not to be attempted by ships. I felt that it was necessary for us to run the risk, but I would not advise any one to try this route, as there is a free and good channel lying in a direct line from Mbua Bay to Yendua.

We passed through a narrow entrance in the reef into a very pretty harbour, which I have called Porpoise Harbour; its form is that of a large segment of a circle, about one mile and a half deep, and a mile in width. It lies open to the southeast, but has a double reef protecting it; the entrance is on the east side. This harbour was surveyed by the boats of the Porpoise and the tender.

Yendua may be said to be divided into two islands, having a boat

[ocr errors]

passage between them ; both are composed of a black volcanic conglomerate, and the hills are covered with large boulders of lava. I landed at once for observations, tents being pitched for the boats' crews. The next morning, Lieutenant Underwood again joined me in the Leopard, and we passed the day on shore, observing for time and latitude. The other officers were variously employed in surveying, and some ascended the peak, and succeeded in getting a round of angles on the distant peaks. The day was remarkably clear. Round Island and the Asaua Group were also in sight.

There is but one village and only about thirty inhabitants on these islands; very few of the latter are males. Gingi, the noted chief of Muthuata, had passed by a few months before, on his way to the Asaua Group. Having demanded a large quantity of provisions, yams and taro, which it was impossible to supply, as the hurricane of the preceding March had destroyed all the crops, he landed and murdered all the men, women, and children that could be found.

The anchorage and bays on the west side were all explored, particularly those parts that Lieutenant Emmons, from want of time, had been unable to effect; but they were of minor importance. The anchorage in the western bays is not good, as they are so much filled with coral patches, as to make it difficult to find a clear berth for a ship. The island is about twelve miles in circumference. The ebb tide was found setting to the southward and westward.

Having finished the observations I designed making here, preparations were made for an early start in the morning. The boats

The boats received orders to pass at once over to the Asaua Group, while the brig and tender ran down the reef towards Awakalo or Round Island.

I landed on Round Island in time to secure my observations. The shelf on which we landed was found to be of black conglomerate, having had the soft sandstone washed away for fifteen or twenty feet above. The island is of a crescent form, both on the water-line and at its top, rising to the height of five hundred feet in the centre, and dropping at each end. It is, in various places, so deeply rent, as to make it impossible to reach its summit, which I was desirous of doing. There is no coral attached to it, but an extensive patch, on which there is anchorage, lies to the eastward; on this, however, it is not safe to anchor, for the ground is much broken. From the appearance of the water-worn strata, the island would appear to have been upheaved at several different times. After going round the island in my boat, I joined the tender, and ran over, south-southwest, for the Asaua Cluster. The distance was found to bc ten miles by the patent log, and the pas sage is perfectly clear.

We reached the most northern island of the cluster, Ya-asaua, which has several small islets off its northern point. We were just in time to get sight of the black rocks lying off the entrance of what I have called Emmons Bay, after Lieutenant Einmons, who had surveyed it. I felt so much confidence in this officer's work, that I ran into the bay after the night closed in, and was followed by the Porpoise. We thus obtained safe anchorage for the night. The boats answered our signal by large fires on the beach, at the head of the bay.

In the morning, we set about sounding this bay out, and orders were given to the Porpoise, to stand off and look for the great sea-reef which was supposed to exist to the westward, with passages through it, and to extend as far as Biva Island. This examination, together with a subsequent one by the tender, proved that it became deep and sunken a little to the northward of Round Island.

Ya-asaua is a very narrow island, about ten miles in length, and rises towards the southern part into a high peak, called Tau-tha-ke. Wishing to get observations from the top of it, we ran down and anchored near the southern bight, which is well protected, except from the northwest, by the small island of Ovawo and two small islets. We landed here with a strong party, well armed, as we knew the natives were particularly savage. We succeeded in getting good observations, and then ascended Tau-tha-ke, from which we obtained an excellent set of observations. The weather being very clear, the view was remarkably fine from its top, commanding all the surrounding headlands, islands, and reefs; the ascent to it is on the northern side, over a fine fertile plain upwards of a mile in extent, on which were the remains of a village or town, and of extensive plantations of bananas. These are now in total ruin, having been entirely destroyed by Gingi in his late expedition. The inhabitants, who had the air of a conquered people, treated us with great civility, but all the provisions they could furnish were a few cocoa-nuts, every thing else having been destroyed. They were found subsisting upon the yaka, a kind of root which grows wild on the hills, and is quite palatable when roasted.

Mr. Agate took a most capital likeness of the wife of the chief of this village. She was about forty years of age; her head and sidelocks were nearly of a scarlet colour; her necklace was composed of a whale's tooth, shells, and a few beads; the corners of her mouth were tattooed in circles of a blue-black colour,

She was sitting modestly after the fashion of her country, and had a peculiar cunning look, through eyelids nearly closed. Altogether she

furnished the most characteristic specimen of the appearance of this people, of any I had seen; but the imagination must supply the place of a bright red lock on the side of the head.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

From the top of Tau-tha-ke, the beautiful little bay of Ya-sau-y-lau appeared to lie at our feet, with the picturesque rock on its eastern side, having much resemblance to a ruined castle or impregnable fortress. This rock is entirely volcanic, with but little vegetation on it. Tradition states it to have been the abode of an immense bird, called Ya-sau-y-lau, which it is said was in the habit of frequenting Vitilevu, where it would pounce upon the first individual it met, and arry him off to its eyrie for food. The natives of Vitilevu held it in great dread for a long time, but desperation drove them to seek its abode on this rock, where they were so fortunate as to find the bird asleep on its nest, and killed it.

Tau-tha-ke was found to be seven hundred and eighty-one feet in height.

The boats' crews pitched their tents on shore for the night, near the schooner's anchorage. During our visit to Tau-tha-ke, although the natives appeared friendly, and were powerless from the late depredations, I thought it necessary to get the chief safe on board the tender as a hostage. I found him very ready to comply, for they were always sure of receiving presents when the time was up. After we returned on board, he remained during the evening, when we sent up some of our “fiery spirits," which greatly astonished him. He seemed to be more intelligent than the others we had met with. Through the interpreter I asked him several questions; among others, what would become of him and his people when they died. The answer was




« PředchozíPokračovat »