Open Collections

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

Narrative of a voyage round the world, performed in Her Majesty's ship Sulphur, during the years 1836-1842,… Belcher, Edward, Sir, 1799-1877 1843

Item Metadata


JSON: bcbooks-1.0222565.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0222565-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0222565-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0222565-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0222565-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0222565-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0222565-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

FROM DEC.  1840, TO NOV.  1841.
Pu$ltgJ)it) unticr tije &utj)orit» of tfye Sortie ©ommfegtotwr*
of tïie Slomfraltg.
C.B.,  F.R.A.S.,  &C.
1843.  TO
IRELAND,   &C,   &C,   &C,
Voyages undertaken for the express purposes of Maritime Discovery have always been received with so much
favour by the British public, and especially when made (as
in the present instance) by British officers, and under the
direction of the British Government, that the writer of
the present Narrative of a Voyage Round the World
confidently trusts he will not be denied that indulgence
which has been uniformly accorded to those who have
preceded him. He hopes for such indulgence the rather
that, although the practical results of his labours have
been necessarily less fertile of novelty, and therefore of
popular interest, than those of his more distinguished
predecessors, they have not been less arduous or onerous
to the individuals engaged in them.
In order that the scope and extent of the objects contemplated and attained, in this Voyage Round the World,
may be judged of, it may be well to precede the narrative
by a brief outline of its contents.
Her Majesty's ship Sulphur was commissioned in
September, 1835, by Captain Beechey, and, accompanied VI
by her consort the Starling, Lieut. Commander Kellett,
quitted England in the following December. Captain
Beechey invalided at Valparaiso, and was succeeded by
Acting Commander Kellett, who was again superseded by
the author of the present narrative, who took the command at Panama, in February, 1837, having crossed the
Isthmus of Darien for that purpose, and retained it till
the conclusion of her protracted voyage. After some
little delay in completing certain necessary operations,
the two vessels proceeded northerly, touching at Realejo
and Libertad in Central America, and reached San Bias
in June, 1837, whence she sailed for the Sandwich Islands,
which she reached the following month.
Port Etches, in King William's Sound, in 60° 30' N. was
the next destination of the Expedition. Point Riou and
Port Mulgrave were chosen as base stations for determining the position of Mount St. Elias,and further settling the
question of longitude between Cook and Vancouver. The
Sulphur then proceeded to Sitka or New Archangel, in
Norfolk Sound, where the officers received very courteous
treatment from Captain KoupreanofF, the Russian governor. She next visited Friendly Cove, in Nootka
Sound, and thence sailed to San Francisco, when the
examination of the river Sacramento, one hundred and
fifty-six miles from her anchorage, occupied the party in
open boats for thirty-one days. Thence the Sulphur successively visited Monterey, San Bias, Acapulco, and
Libertad, on her way to Realejo, where the author, for
the recovery of his health, undertook a land survey of the
principal mountains overlooking his future ground in the PREFACE. Vil
Gulf of Papagayo, and fixed the principal features of the
Lake of Managua, to its fall into that of Nicaragua atTepi-
tapa, After surveyiug the Gulf of Papagayo and Port
Culebra, the Sulphur quitted Central America, touched at,
and fixed Cocos Island, and reached Callao in June, 1838,
for the purpose of refit, and the completion of stores and
provisions. Having examined the coast between Cerro
Azul and Callao, (about sixty miles,) she left Callao in
August, calling at Paita and Guayaquil, and returned to
Panama in the following October.
Here may be said to have ended her first cruize ; but
between October and March a survey was made of the
Gulfs of Fonseca and Nicoya, Pueblo Nueva, and Baia
Honda, after which the ship moved northerly, repeating
her cruize of 1837. She was detained at the Columbia
River till September ; Bodega, the Russian position near
San Francisco, was then surveyed, and subsequently San
Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Pedro, San
Juan, San Diego, San Quentin, San Bartolomè, the
Gulf of Magdalena, and Cape San Lucas. The Sulphur
then proceeded to San Bias and Mazatlan, where orders
for a westerly return awaited her. Having shipped supplies for fourteen months from a transport which had
been sent to meet her, she commenced her-homeward
voyage in January, 1840 ; en route the author landed on
the islands of Socorro and Clarion, and secured their positions. She reached the.Marquesas the same month, and
after a short visit to Port Anna Maria, Nuhuhiva, moved
on to Bow Island, where the operation was performed of
boring for the volcanic foundation on which these coral
1 vm
islands are suspected to stand. She then visited Tahiti,
Huaheine, Raratonga, Vavao, (Tonga group,) Nukulau,
(Feejees,) Tanna, (New Hebrides,) Port Carteret, (New
Ireland,) Britannia Island, New Guinea, coasting that
island to Arimoa and as far as Jobie, where she remained
to rate and survey ; then to Amsterdam, Pigeon Island,
(Dampier's Straits,) Bouro and Amboina, moving thence
to Macassar, Great Solombo, and Pulo Kumpal, off the
Borneo coast; and reached Singapore in October of the
same year.
Orders here awaited her to proceed instantly to China,
where she was detained, and took an active part in the
operations against the Chinese, till nearly the close
of the year 1841, when she sailed for England. After
leaving Singapore, and touching at Malacca, Penang,
Acheen, Sumatra, Point de Galle, (Ceylon,) Séchelles,
Madagascar, Cape of Good Hope, St. Helena, and Ascension, she at last returned to Spithead.
The account of the voyage has been carefully drawn up
from the author's own memoranda, made when the places
and incidents they describe were under his observation,
and the illustrations are faithfully given from existing
scenes and objects.
In conclusion, the author desires to aknowledge his
obligation to Mr. Hinds, the Surgeon to the Expedition,
for his valuable and interesting account of the vegetable
regions, which will be found appended to the second
volume of the narrative.
Hydrographie Instructions
Page xvii.
Her Majesty's ship Sulphur quits England—Captain Beechey
invalided—Is succeeded by Acting-Commander Kellett, who
repairs to Panama to await instructions—Captain Belcher appointed to the command of the Expedition—Quits Falmouth in
her Majesty's steamer Echo—Touches at Lisbon, and reaches
Barbadoes and Jamaica—Is transferred to her Majesty's ship
Forte, Commodore Pell, and thence to her Majesty's ship Madagascar, Commodore Sir J. Peyton—Is present at the blockade, &c., of Carthagena, and then embarks in her Majesty's
ship Nimrod for Chagres—Passage up  the river—Reaches
Panama, and takes command of the Sulphur
Page 1
Assume the command of the Sulphur—Escort Consul's family to
Chagres, and measure meridian distance by chronometers—Embark the ladies in her Majesty's ship Nimrod, and re-measure distance to Gorgona—Another attempt with the rockets from Cara-
veli, unsuccessful ; Explosion bags from tree on Ato. Ormigero, CONTENTS.
successful—Measure distance to Panama—Power of Moteros in
carrying burdens—Opinion on rocket measurement compared
with chronometer—Present state of Panama—Move to Taboga
— Leave Taboga — Visit Baia Honda — Magnetic Island
(Pueblo Nueva)—Pass Gulf of Nicoya—Papagayo gusts—
Arrive at Realejo—Obtain supplies—Port of Realejo—Quit
Realejo by the Barra Falsa—Repair to Libertad—Visit San Salvador—Return and hear of fatal accident to eoxswain—Surf—
Difficulty of getting to ship—Succeed, and quit Libertad—
Touch at Manzanilla (Port of Colima)—Reach San Bias—Visit
Tepic—Quit San Bias for Sandwich Islands.       . .19
Search for islands in the neighbourhood of Socorro—Clouds and
Freshwater Island—Pass over position of Best's Island—Make
Clarion's—Search for islands reported by "Whalers between 130°
and 13° W—Cross Blossom's track—Method of inserting
track—Make Island of Maui—Singular cascades—Arrive at
Oahu—Enter the port to refit—Question of forcible entry of
" Clementine "—Appeal to the Government —Unsuccessful—
Re-capture Clementine, and send her for the king—Missionary
threat—Land the missionaries—Arrival of the French frigate
Venus—Letter from the king—Arrival of the king's yacht—
Royal reception—King consents to the missionaries remaining
—Suspicions of foul play—Take leave of Venus, and quit Oahu
—Arrival in the Bay of Atooi—Quit Hanalai—Present condition of Oahu—Views of the king—College at Maui—Starling
despatched to Port Mulgrave—Touch at Rose Island—Arrive
at Port Etches—Aurora observed—Visit the Russian settlement of Port Etches—Discover traces of Captain Portlock on
Garden Island—Quit Port Etches — Extraordinary appearance of land near Cape Suckling—Anchor in Icy Bay, under
Mount Elias—Point Riou not to be found—Icebergs—Arrival
at Port Mulgrave — Rejoin Starling—Lip ornament—Quit
Port Mulgrave .... 47
niimiiiiiHi CONTENTS.
Norfolk Sound, Cape Edgecumbe—Sitka — Russian Governor
Koupreanoff—Erect observatory—Establishment of Sitka—
Small-pox among the Indians—Attention of the Governor—
Entertainment to the natives—Probable cause of disagreements
—Musical instruments—Slavery—Russian ball—Quit Sitka—
Customary signals—Reach Woody Point—Anchor in Friendly
Cove, Nootka—Arrival of Macquilla—Description of natives—
Exhibition of magic-lanthorn and fireworks—A court fool—
Sulkiness of Macquilla, on our refusal to trade—Description of
natives—Quit Nootka, and proceed to San Francisco        .    91
Changes since 1828—Result of revolution—Delawares—Visit
Santa Clara—Decay of the mission—Examine Sacramento—
Meet Indian hunters — Reach Point Victoria — Commence
survey of river—Short of provisions—Grotesque dresses of
Indians—Decrease of population—Animals—Climate—Productions—Scenery of river—Scarcity of provisions—Rejoin
Starling—Insecure state of the country—Renegadoes—Quit
San Francisco—Anchor at Monterey—State of its defences—
Quit Monterey — Pass Cape San Lucas — Touch at Très
Marias—Reach San Bias. . . . .115
Official news of the accession of Queen Victoria—Arrival of
Venus—Scurvy—Starling despatched to Panama for letters—
Quit San Bias—Arrive at Acapulco—Entering by Boca Chica
—Interview with the Governor—Erect observatory—Examine
the port—Capacity—Best berth—Watering place — Present
state of trade—Merchants deserting the city in consequence of
custom-house regulations—Earthquakes from 1732 to present
date—Fort San Carlos not affected by them—Period of rainy Xll
season—Distance from Mexico—Imports, exports, and general
trade—Population and diseases—Military force—Execution of
two murderers—Unsafe at night—Quit Acapulco—Touch at
Guatulco, and fix position of Morro Ayuca—Cross Gulf of
Tehuantepec—Views of volcanic peaks—Call at Sonsonati and
Libertad—Volcano of Isalco active—Anchor at Realejo. .  141
Excursion to summit of Viejo Volcano—San Antonio—Mr.
Bridge, its proprietor—Chinandega—Swarm of musquitoes—
Moyotepita—Pine range — Viejo summit — Palm toddy—
Return to San Antonio—Move on to Chichigalpa—Posoltega
—City of Leon—Its Cathedral and College—Reach Piedra
Gorda on the lake of Managua—Attempt to visit Momotom-
bita relinquished —Stormy breezes—Reach Nagarote—Hospitality—Move on to Matiares—Productions—Cholera, &c.—
Reported remains of causeway to Momotombita—Reach Managua—Brasil wood noticed—Sleep at Managua—Move on to
Tepitapa—The falls—Sulphur springs—Return to Managua
—Matiares—Nagarote—Leon and San Antonio—Rejoin Sulphur, and quit Realejo to examine Gulf of Papagayo—Bay of
Salinas—Murciellag'os islands examined—Return to Realejo—
Arrival of Starling with letters—Quit Realejo—Search for and
find Culebra—Survey it—Reach island of Cocos—Tedious
passage—Pass through Gallapagos, and reach Callao       . 159
Naval forces at Callao—Refit the Sulphur—Arrival of Admiral
Ross—Periodical observations—Visit the coast below Callao—
Cerro Azul—Port and town of Chilean—Disturbances in Peru—
Arrival of the Chilians—Troops land at Ancon—Engagement
near Lima—Chilian forces enter the city—Ladies witness the
action—The Sulphur quits Callao — Visits the Hormigas,
Pay ta, Guayaquil . . . . .195 CONTENTS.
Proceed to Guayaquil in gig—Ladies of Guayaquil — General
Wright's excursion to Bodegas—General Flores—Batahoya,
Bull fight—Alligators—Balsas, Canoa de piéca—Samborodon
—Sulphur drops down the river— Harrier calls at Puna—
Capture of an alligator—Handsome conduct of Government of
Equador—Return to Panama—Visit Yslas del Rey—Witness
pearl-diving operations — Arrival of despatches |— Sail for
Realejo—Reach Realejo ..... 209
Realejo—Termiriation of the rainy season—Quit Realejo and repair
to Chicarene—Gulf of Eonseca—Trip to San Miguel—Agua
Frio—Reach San.Miguel—Start to visit the Volcano—Demur
at Chinameca—Return in disgust to San Miguel—Quit, and
visit Moncagua—Breakfast—Arrive at San Miguel—The fair—
Method of transacting business—Honourable conduct of natives
—Run to Realejo—Meet H. M. S. Imogene—Return to Con-
chagua—Port of San Carlos—Ascend Amapala—Conchagua,
&c.—Pitch observatory under Conseguina—Start with Starling
and boats to examine Estero Real—Result—Swarms of Mosquitoes—Canal question— Volcano of Conseguina — Desolation-
caused by its eruption—Return to Realejo—A boat upset in
a squall —Mr. Speck and. a seaman drowned—Sail for the
Gulf of Nicoya ...... 225
Survey of the.Gulf of Nicoya^—Its capabilities—Examine Bay
of Honda—Quibo—Receive despatches at Panama — Future
movements^-SaiL for the Sandwich Islands—Revisit Cocos
Island— Examine Clipperton - Rock—Anchor at Honolulu—
Disposition of the king towards us—Fune-ral of Banau, the m
King's aunt — The king and suite
visit the Sulphur—Missionary influence and operations—The islands less frequented
—The Orphan School — Rapid decrease of the population—
Exports and productions . . . .247
Quit Honululu—Touch at Atooi—Signs of improvement—Sail
for the north—Great numbers of marine animals—Touch at
■■ Kodiack—Natives — Observations — Visit Sitka — Enter the
Columbia River — Present state of Astoria — Ascend the
river to Fort Vancouver—Jealousy of the Indians respecting
their dead—The establishment at Fort Vancouver—Colonizing
the Wallamette—-Relations with America and Russia—Great
size of the forest trees—The Hudson's Bay trading establishment—Wreck of a Japanese junk—The crew seized by the
natives—Other similar occurrences—Character of the Indians
who compress the head—Influence on the mind—Sail for California—Settlement of Ross—Bodega—Unsafe anchorage ■—
San Francisco—Sailing directions for the port     . . 279
Arrive at Monterey—Move on to St. Barbara—Kelp line—
St. Barbara—Move on to San Pedro—Starling despatched to
San Buenaventura—San Pedro—Touch at San Juan—Starling
despatched to examine St. Catalina—Anchor at San Diego—
Description of the port—Alarm from Indians—Defenceless
state—Country wines made at San Luis Rey—Quit San Diego
—Pass Cape Colnett and enter San Quentin, or Puerto de las
Virgines—Touch at San Bartolomè—Enter and anchor in
Gulf of Magdalena—Fossils—Esteros—Extent of Esteras—
Probable connexion with La Paz—Adapted for naval rendezvous—Cape San Lucas Productions—Reach San Bias—Quit,
and anchor at Mazatlan—Return to San Bias      . .319 CONTENTS.
Quit San Bias — Island of Socorro—Goats — Does not afford
water—Braithwaite's Bay—Clarion Island—Lose anchor—
Botany—Fish—No water—Irish eagle shot—False alarm of
breakers—Make, the Marquesas—Enter port Anna Maria—
Nuhuhiva—Transactions—War in Tabu—Interference to stop
hostilities—Unsuccessful—Compact of safety to foreign residents
—Signed by king and prime ministers—Quit Nuhuhiva . 345  HYDROGRAPHIC INSTRUCTIONS
The general objects of the expedition which has been
placed under your command having been set forth in their
Lordships' orders, it becomes my duty to enter somewhat
more diffusely into the nature and details of the service
which you are to perform.
The first point to which your orders advert after quitting
England is the Eight Stones. You will probably add
one more to the many testimonies which have been already
collected of their non-existence, at least in the position
assigned to them in the old charts ; but before we
venture to expunge them it would be satisfactory to
make all the inquiry in your power at Madeira, respecting
the traditions on which their existence is asserted.
In approaching the coast of Brazil, you will have a good
opportunity of verifying or discarding the bank of sound-
VOL. I. c
*?/i XV111
ings which has been adopted in our charts, from a circumstantial account in the remark-book of the Fly, within a
week after her leaving Bahia, and with chronometer on
board. For this purpose it will be proper to run down
the parallel of 16° 50 S., (or 16° 55, so as to allow for
the northerly current,) and to carry in a chain of deep sea
soundings from about the longitude of 35° 30 W., till in
37° 30 W. From thence you may shape an extremely
useful course, so as to round Cape St. Thome and Frio
at such a distance, if the wind will permit, as will enable
you to intersect some very discordant soundings which
have been inserted in the chart, from different but
apparently good authorities. One well determined line of
genuine depths will go far to elucidate all the difficulties.
At Rio de Janeiro, or at Santa Catharina, you will have
an important task to perform, and the choice of the two
places is of no moment, provided the chronometers enable
you to determine their meridian distance with precision.
The longitude of the former has been reduced within very
narrow limits, by various observers, and a vast number of
observations of various kinds, the mean of which gives
43° 8 W., for the little island of Villegagnon ; but as every
change of a standard meridian is attended with great
inconvenience to seamen, it may be hoped that a good
series of moon-culminating stars may now put the question
at rest, so that no further alteration will be requisite, at
least for nautical purposes.
As magnetic phenomena are objects of much scientific
interest at present, you should not lose the opportunity of
obtaining some careful observations of dip and intensity,
at one of the above places, and likewise at one of the high
southern positions where it was obtained by Captain P.
King.   Port Famine would be well adapted to the purpose HYDROGRAPHIC   INSTRUCTIONS.
if other circumstances should not render that route inconvenient, and the more so as it was the standard meridian
to which he referred all the longitudes of his survey.
From thence there will be nothing to delay your progress towards that part of the western coast where Captain
Fitzroy's late survey terminated. Unfortunately no
account of his concluding operations has yet arrived, but
by a comparison of dates it does not appear that there
could have been time to examine much of the coast of
Chili, to the northward of Valparaiso, or even to complete
it down to that port. This question must be decided,
because at no great distance to the southward lie the
shoals of Topocalmo, where an American ship was wrecked,
and which, if they have not been satisfactorily laid down
by him, and their connexion with the shore examined,
must not be neglected by you.
It is, however, probable that at Valparaiso you will be
able to obtain such information on that subject, as may
help to guide your movements ; but if not, there will be
little danger of repeating any part of his work if you
commence yours at Coquimbo, leaving the interval to
be hereafter effected, when the return of the Beagle, or
the arrival of her despatches, shall enable me to define
more exactly the point at which the great work assigned
to you by their Lordships ought to begin.
Of that extensive region which your work is to comprehend, we are at present best acquainted with the
southern portion, including Chili and Peru. Yet of
those long and populous coasts, excepting the ports of
Guayaquil and Callao, our whole knowledge is derived
from two Spanish charts, on the limited scale of one
inch to twenty-eight miles ; and it appears from Captain
Fitzroy's recent examination of the large island of Chiloe,
and of the intricate gulf of Chonos, that those charts
are evidently the result of mere running of surveys.    The
half-knowledge to be obtained by this kind of survey has
always acted as a check on the advance of geographical
ad nautical information, and is in itself useless; for the
native coaster wants  nothing   beyond  his  local   experience; the regular foreign trade employs a pilot; and
the occasional visitor sees that all the details are so unlike
the truth, that he does not even attempt to correct ;-and
thus our enterprising carriers in peace, and our active
cruizers in war, find themselves equally foiled m their
operations along shore.    These evils can  be  remedied
only by correct charts, on scales appropriate to the greater
or less intricacy of their contents, and showing the true
shape and nature of the shore, the positions of the towns
the places for anchoring, the depths on the bank, and
the appearance of the land, as it makes in the offing.
The present state of science,   and   the   excellence  of
modern instruments, afford ample means  for acquiring
this knowledge with comparative facility, and our western
American commerce has long been in need of such charts ;
but especially now, that the impulse it has received from
the revolutions of those rich but only half maritime countries, has brought our vessels into contact with every
port from Valdivia to the Columbia.
In carrying this great survey into effect, their Lordships have placed the fullest reliance on the unabated
zeal and talents which you have heretofore displayed,
and they have cautiously and wisely abstained, in your
orders, from fettering you in the selection of your ground,
or in that division and disposition of your time, which
the periodic changes of season, or the occasional necessities of the vessels, may require. If, therefore, Providence permits you to preserve your resources unimpaired,
and if the several governments interpose no obstacles, you HYDROGRAPHIC   INSTRUCTIONS.
will, doubtless, pursue this important work, with all the
energy in. your power, and with all the perseverance
consistent with a due regard to the health of your officers
and crews.
Where their Lordships have placed such unlimited
confidence, it would ill become me to enter too minutely
into the lesser pursuits, which are connected with the
main object of the coast line ; but there are some detached islands and dangers to which it is proper to advert,
and to which it is necessary to call your attention.
In crossing from one division of the survey to the
other, you might visit and determine the position of the
little islands of St. Felix; for though they can offer
neither resources nor shelter, yet such insulated specks
in the ocean are often useful to the mariner in rectifying
his longitude.
A little further to the westward, the brig Cannon, in
1827, discovered a dangerous reef, of half a mile in length,
which she called the London Bank, and placed in 27° 6
south, and 92° 16 west, and which it would be useful to
If there be any truth in the report that the earthquake
of February has considerably shaken the island of Juan
Fernandez, it might be useful to stretch over there, and
to examine if any material change has really taken
place in the anchorage. Some other extraordinary effects
of this earthquake are said to have occurred on the coast
of Chili, in permanently elevating part of the shore, and
in changing the depth of the adjacent sea. These assertions, if at all true, are probably exaggerated, and you will
render a service to geology, by minutely inquiring into
the circumstances, and communicating the result without
It jnjayvbe hoped that Captain Fitzroy has sufficiently XX11
examined the Galapagos, and therefore, till that is ascertained, your time should not be occupied there.
Cocos Island is stated by Vancouver to be only four
miles in length, while, according to Collnet, it is not less
than four leagues ; and its position being also imperfectly known, it .should be visited. The little solitary
islet of Malpelo should likewise be definitively placed.
The islands of Revilla, Gigado, &c, will naturally be
included in your general chart of California.
Further off, in 10° North, and about 130° West, a
large group of coral islands is supposed to have been
seen. It is not probable that you will have to stand
so far out in any of your traverses, but if accident
should lead you near them, it will be proper to establish their position, and to ascertain their general character.
Political circumstances have invested the Columbia
river with so much importance, that it will be well to
devote some time to its bar and channels of approach, as.
well as to its inner anchorages and shores.
In touching at some of the points of Vancouver's
survey, you will perceive, that unless in any cases of
gross error, it is not their Lordships' intention that you
should do more than rectify the general longitudes in the
chart of that officer, as they are probably quite adequate
to any interest that is felt at present about that archipelago of islands. If, however, you have a convenient
opportunity, it will be desirable to ascertain whether there
is not a broad sea passage through his King George
Island, dividing it into two islands.
As the terminal point of your whole survey to the
northward, the magnificent mountain of St. Elias may
be named; and its exact position and height should
therefore be determined.
Next in importance to the accuracy of the coast line mmmm~
and of the shoals, is the precision and fulness of the
soundings, with the quality of the bottom. There can be
no doubt that the nature of the substances which are
spread over the bottom of the sea does not depend on
mere chance, but that they are in some measure connected with the adjacent shores, and sometimes with
those of more distant parts of the coast, from which they
have been swept by currents ; and it would be a great
benefit to navigation if this relationship could be satisfactorily traced. The transition also from one species of
sand to another, and the link by which these beds or
patches are connected, are subjects which would be well
deserving the reflection and exertions of our scientific
mariners. Besides the soundings to be carried along
shore, (the breadth of which zone, proceeding from the
back of the rollers, will depend on their depth and regularity,) the outer edge of the bank should also be laid
down, as being a most important aid to the navigator,
and a sufficient number of depths marked in the intervening space, to show the general slope of the bank.
This outer edge may be assumed at a hundred fathoms,
as in general it rapidly sinks from that depth, to one
beyond the usual reach of the lead. Massey's machine
should not be used in a greater depth than fifty or sixty
In approaching the several groups of islands, and in
the various runs which either vessel may have to make
in the course of the survey, at a distance from the land,
no opportunity should be missed of throwing down the
deep sea lead. The negative language of no bottom
soundings on the charts, is next in value to the real
depth ; and, unless when pressed in time by some paramount object, it should be the established practice of a
surveying vessel, both night and day, though apparently
■—1 XXIV
remote from any bank, to have a deep cast of the lead
every ten or twenty miles, according to the distance from
the shore. This might sometimes lead to useful discoveries ; and in order to abridge the labour, as well as to
prevent the unwholesome effect of wet sleeves, the sounding winch should be always employed on these occasions.
consistent  account   of the   currents
western American coast has been yet framed, though in
no part of the world would it be of more importance
and value. Observations, therefore, to determine the
direction and strength of the current, should not be left
to be inferred from the mere error of the dead reckoning,
when traversing the sea in the offing,
set of the boats when employed in-shore, but should be
systematically made, for the express purpose of forming a
general view of this interesting subject, and which can
only be effected by a great accumulation of data.
In applying this rule to the extensive ocean which will
be more than once traversed by the present expedition,
it may be as well to divide the inquiry into distinct questions.
1. The actual set and direction of the current in all
parts that the vessels may visit.
2. Are the currents permanent, or in what degree are
they modified by the daily sea and land breeze, or by the
periodic monsoon, or by the issue of the large rivers ?
3. To what distance does the regular current extend
from the coast ? and where do the neutral space and
counter-current begin ?
4. Is the general direction of the permanent current
parallel to the shore, or oblique ?
5. To what depth do these currents extencP%lown-
wards ?
The comparative temperature of the atmosphere and HYDROGRAPHIC   INSTRUCTIONS.
the sea whenever the current runs from the northward
or southward, should be continually observed, and marked
in the log. A series of such observations would show
under what circumstances the thermometer will indicate
the effect of currents.
A minute examination of the tides, including all those
data by which they may be accurately calculated, their
local set, and the extent to which they are influenced by
the periodic winds, and by the sea currents, arc so
evident a part of your survey that it need not be dwelt
on here. When practicable, their extreme height at the
springs should be referred to a fixed object on the
You will be furnished with a scale by which the force
of the wind is to be expressed, and certain abbreviations
by which the weather may be correctly described, and
these are invariably to be employed in marking the log-
board and log-books of both vessels.
The periods and limits of the trade winds, monsoons,
and rains, will no doubt be a constant object of your
study. It is true that your observations of them must be
confined to the place where your vessels are ; but still you
will be able to collect a large number of accurate facts ;
you may perhaps pick up some authentic information
from others ; your journals of the Blossom and those of
former navigators, will supply many connecting circumstances ; and I feel confident that on your return home
you will present to their Lordships the first consistent
account of this interesting subject. Hitherto the practical seaman knows not where to seek for the periods of
change, which are so essential to the due performance of
his voyage ; and those who would investigate and generalise the laws of these curious phenomena cannot find
any distinct statements on which they can rely. XXVI
No possible pains should be spared which may throw
any light on the hitherto inexplicable form of the curves
which unite the degrees of equal magnetic variation, or
on the annual motion of those curves to the east or to the
The diurnal arcs of variation should also occupy your
attention in favourable situations ; and it will be very
interesting, if, by multiplying observations, you can
either confirm or refute the assertion that there is a
constant difference between the variation on the east and
west sides of an 4sland, independent of that due to the
space it occupies. The restrictions under which these
delicate observations should be made will readily suggest
themselves to you. No subject can be of greater importance to navigators than the laws which affect their
compass, and none should be pursued with more perseverance ; azimuths and amplitudes should be obtained
every day, and under every variety of circumstance, as
well on shore as on board ; and the latter, whenever
practicable, should be made with the ship's head either
north or south, or rather on the line of no deviation, as
shown by the table which will have been formed in each
vessel, of her local attraction.
The local attraction, however, varies in the ratio of the
dip ; it should, therefore, be carefully retried, (on every
point of the compass,) at both extremes of the survey,
as well as near the equator, and a full report of each
trial transmitted to this office.
Observations for the dip and intensity should be made
at different points of the coast, carefully avoiding the
neighbourhood of any place which may be likely to influence the needle.
Nautical descriptions of the places comprised within
the limits of the  Survey,  and clear directions for the HYDROGRAPHIC  INSTRUCTIONS.
ports and dangers, adapted to all classes of seamen, will
obviously be among the essential parts of the survey ;
but there will also be opportunities of collecting
auxiliary information which, when digested, may be
made extensively useful to those who may have to visit
that coast ;—such as places of refuge after any disaster
at sea ; ports where pilots are requisite ; the most advantageous methods of obtaining water, wood, and other supplies ; the general resources and productions on which
vessels may depend ; the usual effects of the climate in
the rainy and in the dry seasons ; and notice should be
given of those spots which are peculiarly unhealthy. In
short, no facts can be useless in compiling directions
It has been suggested by some geologists that the coral
insect, instead of raising its superstructure directly from
the bottom of the sea, works only on the summits of
submarine mountains, which have been projected upwards by volcanic action. They account, therefore, for
the basin-like form so generally observed in coral islands,
by supposing that they insist on the circular lip of extinct
volcanic craters.
In order, by a satifactory experiment, to bring this
question to a direct issue, their Lordships have ordered
you to be supplied with a complete set of the boring
apparatus used by miners ; leaving it to your own judgment to select any coral island which may be well
adapted to the purpose, and which will lead you as
little as possible from the line of your survey. They
wish you to fix upon a convenient spot of the island
where the operation cannot be disturbed by the surf, and
there to bore perpendicularly, so as to perforate the
whole thickness of the coral, and to enter the tool suffi- XXV111
ciently deep in the rock on which it is based to furnish
specimens for future analysis. You will of course keep
a register of the contents of the auger every time it is
withdrawn, and if the structure or density of the coral
appear to change, it will be desirable to have a series of
such specimens also preserved, and tallied with their corresponding depths.
Immediately that the bore hole arrives at its greatest
depth, provided no water has been allowed to enter, it
will be well to contrive some method of sending down a
registering thermometer, so as to ascertain the temperature of the bottom of the hole.
Hitherto it has been made a part of the duty of all the
surveying vessels to keep an exact register of the height
of the barometer, at its two maxima of nine, and its two
minima of three o'clock, as well as that of the thermometer at the above periods, and at its own day and
night maximum and minimum, as well as the continual
comparative temperature of the sea and air. This was
done with the view of providing authentic data, from,all
parts of the world, for the use of future labourers in
meteorology, whenever some powerful mind should
happily rescue that science from its present neglected
state. But those hours of entry interfere so much with
the employments of such officers as are capable of registering those instruments with the precision and deli,
cacy which alone can render these data useful, that I do
not think these journals should be further required. The
daily height of the former, and the extremes of the
thermometer, will be sufficient to record, unless from some
unforeseen cause you should be long detained in any one
port ; a system of these observations might then be advantageously undertaken. HYDROGRAPHIC   INSTRUCTIONS.
There are, however, some occasional observations which
cannot fail of being extensively useful in future investigations.
1. During the approach of the periodic changes of
wind and weather; in which case the hygrometer also
should find a place in the journal.
2. The mean temperature of the sea at the equator,
and under a vertical sun. These observations should be
repeated whenever the ship is in either ,of those situations, as well in the Atlantic as in the Pacific ; they
should be made far away from the influence of the land,
and at certain constant depths, suppose fifty and ten
fathoms, and at the surface, and the latter ought to
be again observed at the corresponding hour of the
3. A collection of good observations systematically
continued, for the purpose of connecting the isothermal
lines of the globe, and made as above at certain uniform
4. Some very interesting facts might result from a
comparison of the direct heat of the solar rays in high
and low latitudes. The two thermometers for this purpose should be precisely similar in every respect; the
ball of the one should be covered with white kerseymere,
and of the other with black kerseymere, and they should
be suspended far out of the reach of any reflected heat
from the ship, and always at the same elevation above
the surface of the water ; the observations should be
made out of sight of land, in a variety of latitudes, and
at different hours of the day, and every pains taken to
render them all strictly similar and comparative.
5. All your météorologie instruments should early in
the voyage be carefully compared throughout a large
extent of the scales, and tabulated, for the purpose of XXX
applying the requisite corrections when necessary, and
one or more of them should be compared with the
standard instruments at the Royal Society or Royal
Observatory on your return home.
6. All observations which involve the comparison of
minute differences, should be the mean result of at least
three readings, and should be as much as possible the
province of the same individual observer.
7. In some of those singularly heavy showers which
occur in crossing the equator, and also at the changes
of the monsoon, an attempt should be made to measure
the quantity of rain'that falls in a given time. A very
rude instrument, if properly placed, will answer this
purpose ; merely a wide superficial basin to receive the
rain, and to deliver it into a pipe whose diameter, compared with that of the basin, will show the number of
inches, &c, that have fallen, on an exaggerated scale.
8. It is unnecessary to call your attention to the necessity of recording every circumstance connected with
those highly interesting phenomena—the Aurora Aus-
tralis and Borealis ; such as the angular bearing and
elevation of the point of corruscation ; the bearing also of
the principal luminous arches, &c. &c.
9. It has been asserted that lunar and solar halos
are not always exactly circular; and a general order
might therefore be given to the officer of the watch to
measure their vertical and horizontal diameters whenever
they occur.
Large collections of natural history cannot be expected, nor any connected account of the structure or
geological arrangement of the great continent which
you are to coast ; nor indeed would minute inquiries on
these subjects be at all consistent with the true objects of
the survey.     But  at the islands, and even  along the HYDROGRAPHIC   INSTRUCTIONS.
coast, to an observant eye, some facts will unavoidably
present themselves, which will be well worth recording,
and the medical officers of both vessels will no doubt be
anxious to contribute their share to the scientific character of the Survey.
F. B.
19th December, 1835.
By the Commissioners for executing the
office of Lord High-Admiral of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland, &c.
You are hereby required and directed to take the
Starling, surveying vessel, under your command, (the
lieutenant commanding her being directed to follow your
orders,) and the Sulphur and Starling being in all respects ready, you are to put to sea and to proceed with
her to Plymouth Sound, for two chronometers which
have been selected for you there, and having determined
your chronometric departure from the west end of the
breakwater, you are to make the best of your way to the XXX11
supposed place of the Eight Stones, and crossing the
parallel of 34° 45 north, in the longitude of 16° west,
you are to spread the Starling to the westward, according
to the clearness of the weather, so as to make sure of
discovering any broken or discoloured water in the
interval between the two vessels.
You are also to get a few deep casts of the lead, when
passing the alleged place of that shoal.
You are then to repair to Madeira, to verify the rates of
the chronometers by the standard meridian of Funchal, or
if that be impractible from the state of the weather, you
are to proceed to Teneriffe for this purpose.
Every exertion is then to be made to cross over to
America with the least possible delay, and to approach
it on the parallel of 16° 55 south, in order to fix the
outer limit of the Abrothos Bank. In that latitude you
should carry on a series of sea-bottom soundings from
35' ° west, till you have arrived fairly on the main bank,
or in 37° 30 west, when, crossing the banks to the southwards, with a line of soundings, you are to proceed to Rio
de Janeiro.
At that   place you will not only obtain satisfactory
ratio of the chronometers, but by setting up the transit
instruments, a few nights 'observations of moon-culminating stars, will enable you, it may be hoped, to settle
finally its longitude.
If, however, the moon should there be unfavourable,
the same object may be equally well obtained at Santa
Catharina. The coast, between these two places, has
been sufficiently surveyed by Le Baron Roussin, but their
meridian distance requires confirmation, and your means
are fully capable of dispelling all further uncertainty.
From Santa Catharina, you are to pass forward
towards the passage between the Falkland Islands and
the Main, and taking nearly the mid-channel, you are
to sound freely between the latitudes of 50° and 53° S.,
there being good grounds for believing that the bank
which unites that group of islands to the continent, is
within the reach of the deep-sea lead.
You are then to round Cape Horn, or proceed by the
Strait of Magellan, as you may find most eligible, and to
make the best of your way to Conception, up to. which
place it may be supposed that Captain Fitz-Roy has fully
completed his survey, although he may possibly have
carried it as far as Valparaiso.
This point, however, can be easily ascertained at one of
those ports, and from wherever it may appear to have
been terminated, you will forthwith begin the great work
which has been confided to you by us ; or if there should
be any doubt aboutthe limits of Captain Fitz-Roy's labours,
you may safely commence at Coquimbo, beyond which, in
the time consumed by the Beagle, they could scarcely
have extended.
When Captain Fitz-Roy's missing despatches arrive,
that point will be communicated to you ; and if any part
of the above interval should not have been examined, and
particularly the dangerous banks off Topocalmo, you can
easily resume your operations to the southward, so as to
include them.
As Rio de Janeiro may be considered the standard
point to which it is so convenient to refer the meridian
distances obtained on the eastern side of America, so there
should be a similar point on the coast of Chili. The choice
of that station we leave to you, and there you will again
establish the transit instrument, and determine the difference of longitude from Greenwich.
The extent of coasts along the western side of America
d XV111
is so great that the utmost energy will be requisite in
conducting the necessary observations, and can be effected
in any reasonable time only, by skilfully combining them
with the changes of seasons which take place at alternate
periods of the year to the north and south of the Equator.
On the approach, therefore, of the monsoon to the coast of
Peru, you are to make the utmost expedition in removing
both vessels to California, where San Francisco offers
a healthy and convenient spot for fresh rating the chronometers.
Little is known of this great country except that it is
rapidly increasing in population and commerce ; and as
it contains but few harbours, its shores steep, and the
approaches bold, there will be little motive for detention
between San Francisco and the district visited by Captain
You will then have an excellent opportunity of verifying the longitudes of two or three of the above officer's
principal points, which differ materially from those which
Senor Quadra and the Spaniards have assigned to them,
and on which therefore depend the whole form of that
From this region you will again pursue the survey to
the southward along to [the shores of Guatemala and
Mexico, and so on, alternately changing your ground
according to the periodic change of weather, till in a
succeeding season you will have met the operations proceeding to the northward. With the very dubious knowledge which exists of the periods of the winds, or of the
changes of wet and dry weather, which prevail along the
great continent, and the still less knowledge of the character of the shores, which will in some places delay, and
in others rapidly accelerate your progressât is impossible HYDROGRAPHIC   INSTRUCTIONS.
to determine beforehand the extent of survey, either to
the north or south, which you should perform in the
alternate seasons. This division of your labours must be
entrusted to your own zeal and prudence, but founded on
the one leading principle, that on those parts of the
coast which are uninhabited, where no ports or an^
chorages can ever invite the activity of commerce, and
where bold and straight shores offer no difficulties or
dangers to the passing navigator, there no precious time
should be wasted, or minute accuracy employed, which
would be as uninteresting to the geographer as useless
to the seaman.
When obliged to stand far out to sea, in order to
reach the remote divisions of the survey, you are to make
that passage as useful as possible, by the selection of
new ground, or by rapidly crossing the curves of magnetic variation, or by searching for some of the many
islands or dangers with which different navigators have
studded the Pacific ocean, and which in numerous cases
will probably be found to originate in three or four
erroneous positions having been given to the same spots.
On most parts of the coast you will be able to obtain
fresh beef, flour, cocoa, and other victuals and refreshments ; and if you should want a further supply of salt
provisions or of stores, you should apply to the senior
officer of the squadron on the western side of America,
who will be directed to assist you.
You are to attend to the instructions and suggestions
contained in a paper which has been drawn up under
our directions by the hydrographer, and you are to
supply a copy thereof to the lieutenant commanding the
You are   to leave no opportunity of transmitting to XX
the hydrographer detailed accounts of the progress of
the survey, as well as tracings of any part of the coast
which may be completed. On every occasion which may
offer, you are to address a brief report of your proceedings to our Secretary for our information, and at the
expiration of three years passed in the execution of the
above survey, you are, after communicating with the
senior officer, to call at Valparaiso, and by rounding
Cape Horn, to repair to Spithead, reporting your arrival and proceedings.
You are to prepare a berth for the botanical collector
for plants and seeds for his Majesty's garden at Kew,
who is to be borne on the book of the Sulphur for victuals only, and who will mess with the warrant officers ;
you will furnish him with the means of landing on such
parts of the coast of the shores you may visit, to make
his collection, when it will not interfere with the
Should anything fatal happen to you on this side of
America, the officer next in command is hereby required
and directed to return with the Sulphur and Starling to
Spithead, calling at Rio Janeiro, if already passed that
If that unfortunate event should happen to you on the
western side of America, and during the first year, the
officer next in «ommand is to continue until the end of
that fair weather season, on the work which may. have
been commenced, and then to return as above.
But should it occur.after the vessels have begun their
operations in the northern hemisphere, it may be presumed that the officer next in command will have acquired a sufficient acquaintance with your views to proceed  with   the  remainder   of the  survey on his own HYDROGRAPHIC   INSTRUCTIONS.
resources, and he is hereby required and directed to carry
these orders into execution accordingly.
Given, &c, 21st Dec. 1835.
(Signed) C. Adams.
Geo. Elliot.
.   To F, N. Beechey, Esq.,
Subsequently Commander E. Belcher,
Captain of his Majesty's surveying vessel
Sulphur at Spithead,
By, &c.
(Signed) C. Wood.
N.B. While the Sulphur and Starling are within the
limits of the South American Station you are to consider
yourself under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir G. E.
Hammond, the commander-in-chief on that station.
By the Commissioners for executing the
office of Lord High Admiral of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland, &c.
Whereas we think fit that you shall be employed in
superintending the survey of the coasts of the Pacific,
and having ordered a passage for you in the Echo
steam-vessel, to the West Indies, you are hereby required and directed to repair to Chagres, and there
learning from his Majesty's consul the best way of crossing the isthmus, you will proceed to Panama, in order
to assume the command of his Majesty's surveying vessel
| Sulphur," and to take his Majesty's surveying vessel
" Starling" under your orders.
Before you quit Chagres, you will make such arrange- HYDROGRAPHIC   INSTRUCTIONS.
ments as will prevent any loss of time in firing the
rockets for determining the meridian distance across the
This object having been effected, or found to be impracticable without serious delay, you are hereby required
and directed to proceed forthwith to carry into execution
our orders formerly given to your predecessor Captain
Beechey, as well as the instructions of our hydrographer,
which were framed under our directions ; copies of both
of which papers are herewith inclosed for your information and guidance.
But as it appears that Captain Fitz-Roy has continued
the survey of the western coast of South America, from
the termination of Captain King's Survey at the peninsula of Très Montes as far as the Gulf of Guayaquil, you
are to consider as executed so much of our orders to
Captain Beechey ; excepting such further details in that
interval of coast as you may be directed to obtain in the
additional instructions addressed to you by our hydrographer, which are herewith transmitted.
Given under our hands, the 16th of November, 1836.
Chas. Adams.
To Commander Edward Belcher,
Appointed to command
His Majesty's surveying vessel Sulphur.
By command of their Lordships.
John Barrow. NARRATIVE
Her Majesty's ship Sulphur quits England—Captain Beechey
invalided—Is succeeded by Acting-Commander Kellett, who
repairs to Panama to await instructions—Captain Belcher appointed to the command of the Expedition—Quits Falmouth in
her Majesty's steamer Echo—Touches at Lisbon, and reaches
Barbadoes and Jamaica—Is transferred to her Majesty's ship
Forte, Commodore Pell, and thence to her Majesty's ship Madagascar, Commodore Sir J. Peyton—Is present at the blockade,
&c, of Carthagena, and then embarks in her Majesty's ship
Nimrod for Chagres—Passage up the river—Beaches Panama,
'and takes command of the Sulphur.
VOL.  I.
On the 25th of September, 1835, her Majesty's
ship Sulphur, three hundred and eighty tons, previously fitted for a surveying vessel, was commissioned by Captain Beechey as a sixth rate, with a
complement of 109 men. Her Majesty's schooner
Starling, one hundred and nine tons, fitted as a
tender, was likewise commissioned by Lieutenant
H. Kellett, both vessels being intended for carrying
on the survey of the Pacific, from Valparaiso to
60° 30' N.
On the 24th December they quitted Plymouth,
and touching at Madeira January 7th, 1836, Teneriffe
13th, Rio de Janeiro February 19th, St. Catherine's
February 28th, Monte Video April 6th, reached
Valparaiso, the first port within the limits of their
survey, on June 9th.
At this port Captain Beechey, whose health had
for some time been suffering, found that his constitution was too much shattered to allow of his
continuing the command, subject to such changes of
climate as it would necessarily entail ; and therefore,
having been invalided, he returned to England in
her Majesty's ship, North Star.
Lieutenant Kellett, of the Starling, was then appointed acting commander of the Sulphur, and
Lieutenant Dashwood, first of the Sulphur, to the
command of the Starling.
The vessels then proceeded to Callao August
7th, Paita August 21st, Guayaquil 24th, Gorgona
January 11th, 1837, and finally reached Panama
on January 29th, where they had been directed to
await further instructions from England;
On the Lords of the Admiralty receiving notice
of the return of Captain Beechey, their Lordships
thought fit to entrust me with the command. I
was at that time employed in Lancashire, surveying
its coasts ; but was merely performing that duty until
another steamer could be provided, to enable me to
resume my proper command of the Irish Sea survey.
On the 10th November, 1836, I received my appointment to her Majesty's ship Sulphur, and a
passage having been ordered for me in her Majesty's
steamer Echo, I proceeded in her to Portsmouth,
where I had to complete some magnetic experiments,
and thence to Falmouth, where the illness of Lieutenant Reid, commander of the Echo, caused some
little delay.    This was perhaps fortunate, as a very 1837.]
severe hurricane, which caused much damage to
houses, trees, chimneys, &c, occurred the day previous to our departure. My detention here was also
productive of much satisfaction and benefit, by the
access it afforded me to books, and the introduction
to scientific friends, particularly to Mr. James Were
Fox, a gentleman already well known to the
scientific world.
On the 30th we quitted Falmouth, having on board
despatches to deliver at Lisbon, where we were also
to fill up our coal.
Here we were detained by the perverseness of
our engineer, and by other trivial matters, over
which, until the commanders of steam vessels are
better informed on scientific subjects, they will have
no control.
On the 27th December we quitted Lisbon, blindly
steaming at full coal, in spite of every remonstrance,
expecting to reach the trade limit before it could be
expended. On the last day, at the last four hours'coal,
I succeeded in persuading the commander to try one
boiler with half fuel, and he then found that the
difference was eight knots at full expenditure, and
six and a half with half. We did not reach the trade
limit, and we were left at the mercy of strong breezes
from N.W. to S.W. for nine days, making but trifling
On January 1st a calm succeeded, and I caused a
current bottle to be put over, which reached Half-
moon Bay on the island of Antigua on the 16th July 6
following; having travelled during this interval,
nearly west, 1440 miles, or at the rate of 7*4 per
To our chagrin, the westerly breezes revisited us,
and unfortunately, instead of standing southerly where
smooth water and the trade might be hoped for, we
kept attempting to work westerly.
On January 2nd we experienced a favourable flaw,
by which we were compelled to make southing, and
at length secured the steady trade wind.
Sunday, 8th.—Being seven hundred and sixty-
five miles from Barbadoes, another current bottle
was put over. On the evening of the 13th, we
shipped the paddle floats, got the steam up, and at
daylight on the 14th made the island of Barbadoes.
At eight we passed her Majesty's ship Melville,
bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir P. Halkett, Bel-
videra, Captain Strong, and Racehorse, Sir E. Home.
Having delivered to the Admiral a letter from the
Admiralty respecting my movements, I was directed to proceed on immediately to Jamaica, and if
no ship of war was there, to proceed on in the
steamer to Chagres.
I was fortunate in finding all the commanders old
friends, and from my good messmate, Sir E. Home,
received much valuable information, as well as
hints to guide me in my future movements at Chagres, at that period not quite so well known.
In the evening we again started for Jamaica,
having taken on board Mr. Sturge of the Society of 1837.]
Friends, a gentleman engaged in the examination
into slave affairs.
On the morning of the 22nd we reached Port
Royal, and just as we were letting the steam off
and about to anchor, I was informed that a large
ship seen outside was her Majesty's ship Forte,
Commodore Pell, bound to Carthagena. I directed
the commander to proceed after her immediately,
and it being calm, very soon had the pleasure of waiting on Commodore 0. Pell, who took me under- his
immediate protection as an old friend of my father's;
the steamer was then released for packet duty.
I now learned, that as war, or rather a close
blockade of the ports of New Granada, had been
proclaimed by Commodore Sir J. Peyton, under
present circumstances it would have been unsafe to
proceed to Panama via Chagres, and therefore remained quietly the guest of my kind friend, Commodore, (now Sir 0. Pell).
The cause of this rupture is already well known :
I shall therefore merely observe that until the terms
sent out by Lord Palmerston were fully acceded to,
I saw but little chance of reaching my ship, which
caused me some uneasiness ; fearing that the acting
commander of the Sulphur, on finding that the state
of affairs precluded the chance of communication
would move away to survey some other port until
amicable relations were restored.
On the 25th we arrived off Carthagena, where
we found her Majesty's ship  Madagascar, bearing CARTHAGENA.
the pendant of Commodore Sir J. Peyton, with the
rest of the West Indian and North American
squadron blockading the port.
I was then transferred to the Madagascar, Sir
John Peyton very kindly following up the attentions
I had experienced from my friend Commodore Pell,
who shortly after quitted us to return to Jamaica.
In order to obtain as much information as our
position would afford, I volunteered to examine the
bay and passage to the Passo Cavallos, and became
the guest of Captain Warren of the Serpent, who
was ordered to intercept supplies destined for Carthagena by that channel.
Whilst employed on this service, one of Captain
Warren's crew was unfortunately shot by a person
concealed amongst the bushes ; and the same evening a boat belonging to the Government reached us
with orders to return. Having with me the Commodore's barge and crew, I immediately determined,
as we were informed that hostilities had ceased, on
making a short cut through the Pass, the pilot offering no opposition. I thus obtained some insight
into this channel, which I afterwards found was
not opened to foreigners.
By a small steamer it could easily be passed ; but
the width, barely sufficient for the oars of the barge,
would render it a rash step in uncovered boats, the
trees, which are well cleared for ten yards or more
back, affording ample shelter for musketry.
On reaching the port, I found the Madagascar 1837.]
and other ships moored within. General Lopez,
having received from Bogota the fullest powers to
treat definitively, had consented to the demands in
full ; the greatest obstacle, the production of the
money, being overcome, that night five thousand
dollars were lodged on board the Madagascar.
The Nimrod, just arrived from Chagres, had
brought Mr. Russell, the cause of the late rupture ;
he had been released by order of the Government.
It also brought the lamentable news of the decease
of the new consul, Mr. Turner, from a sudden attack
of inflammation of the stomach.
The Nimrod was then ordered to convey me to
Chagres, together with an officer from the Madagascar, to seal the papers of the late consul, and
bring back the widow and daughters of the deceased.
Supernumeraries are nuisances in all ships, under
any circumstances, and are apt to feel more than they
can well express : but I must candidly confess, for
myself, that from the moment I put my foot on
board the Forte, to that of quitting the Nimrod, the
kindness and attention I met with from their
several warm-hearted commanders will ever be remembered with pleasure.
After a smart passage the Nimrod anchored off Chagres on February 7th, and Captain Fraser and myself
landed, and communicated to the governor (La Barrière) the very agreeable intelligence that hostilities
had terminated. I say agreeable, because, although his
bearing bespoke him an ardent character, he had still BONGOS.
the good sense to see that the war must injure his
adopted country, (being a Frenchman,) and he was
anxious to return to his family, which he had left at
his estate in Chiriqui.
The cessation of hostilities, however, appeared
agreeable to all classes ; although it is an undoubted
fact, that but a few weeks before, the people of this
part of the State of New Grenada were most virulent against Great Britain, as being more immediately connected with, and under the control of, the
governor of Panama. Much bravado and boasting
had been exhibited, but the pseudo warriors vanished
with the calumet of peace.
We were very cordially received by La Barrière,
who is a person superior to such an insignificant
command. Our baggage was landed, and before
dark restowed in a bongo* calculated to carry seventy
bales, (of one hundred and twenty pounds each,) fitted
with arched thatch abaft, and capable of accommodating six passengers.
As previous travellers have not sufficiently dwelt
on the details of the conveniences which may be
obtained for transit of despatches, passengers, baggage, cargoes, &c, from Chagres across the isthmus,
by land as well as by water, I trust I shall not be
deemed tedious by detailing all that may positively
be ensured.
* A canoe hollowed out from a single tree, generally a species
of cedar ; frequently from eighty to ninety feet in length, by eight
feet width at the stern. 1837.]
Canoes of the tonnage of seventy bales and under,
to proceed to Gorgona or Cruces, are to be obtained
at the rate of ten to eighty-five dollars ; during the
freshes, or rainy season, something higher.
A despatch to Panama, express, with the reply,
should be seventeen dollars; time, seventy-two
hours at longest. A small canoe with two persons
and a change (of luggage), may get to Gorgona in
sixteen or eighteen hours, and on to Panama in nine
hours, if daylight favours ; but this can only ' be
performed by an European ; the common proprio
will take his time.   The cost is ten or fifteen dollars.
The " rapids," or dangers of grounding, are mere
bugbears. In large or heavily-laden canoes much
delay or stoppage may arise during the dry season ;
but even with our heavy cargo, and the present dry
period, we were not delayed more than five hours.
No danger exists in point of highway or sea robbery. The people, generally, may be trusted with
large sums of money. Part of my baggage was
missing for eight or ten days, but without apprehension on the part of the residents at Panama, who
affirmed " that it must be safe." And so it proved,—
having been delayed by the breaking down of the
mules. It was eventually borne on the heads of
men : one package weighed one hundred and seventy-six
As our passage was not to commence until dawn,
we took up our quarters in a house provided by an
Englishman, with the intention of enjoying a pre- 12
liminary nap, the last we expected on this side of
Panama. In this, however, we were disappointed,
as the whole village assembled nearly beneath our
windows, and maintained a constant succession of
native songs and dancing, accompanied by very discordant music, until dawn, when they dispersed, and
we embarked, in all seven persons—the lieutenant of
the Madagascar, the purser, mate, and my steward, of
the Sulphur, assistant-surgeon, and lieutenant of the
Nimrod, and myself
We quitted the bank, and notwithstanding our
ill-founded suspicions, very soon enjoyed a most comfortable nap under our awning, formed by a thatch
of palm leaves, covered finally by a painted canvass.
Our crew consisted of the padron and five rowers,
theirrate of pay on these occasions being five reals each,
or two shillings and sixpence per diem. Although
the cost of this canoe up was eighty-five dollars, the
return charge, waiting twenty-four hours, was only
ten. Any delay beyond twenty-four hours entails a
charge of five reals a day per man.
Our journey commenced at rather a slow rate.
The men, perhaps, had not lately worked together, or,
possibly, were fatigued by their dancing exertions of
the previous night. They were inclined, I thought,
to exhibit an independence; in fact, they would
move only at their own convenience ; and of this
we shortly had a specimen. On our arrival at Gatun,
about eleven miles from Chagres, we stopped to
allow the crew time to dine.    Unfortunately their 1837.]
1 Q
wives resided here, and having already received part
of their pay in advance, it was not without much
difficulty, and by the exertion of the padron, that
we succeeded in getting away at all, and much
sulkiness and ill-humour were exhibited by one of
the crew during the remainder of our voyage.
About three p.m. we moved on, and at sunset
came to for the night at a sandy beach, where our
crew recommenced their culinary operations.
They had provided themselves with rice and ripe
cocoa-nuts at Chagres. The cocoa-nut having been
grated finely, by one of Nature's provisions on the
banks of the river, [the stem of a plant very closely
studded with fine spines,] is put into an iron pot,
mixed with a small portion of water, and boiled
until it becomes milky. It is then strained by another of Dame Nature's utensils, viz. a sieve made of
the Gorgonia flabellum, or Venus's fan, and the remains finally squeezed by hand. This milky fluid is
boiled with the rice, and affords, with the addition of
sugar and rice, a very palatable mess. I am told it
is very delicious, and frequently given to children.
We were not without music this night ; the frogs
maintained their concert in imitation of our friends
at Chagres. One of our party having inquired what
caused the noise, and being answered serpo, a term
applied to frogs here, thinking it meant a snake,
was rather shy of the shore for the rest of the
At dawn the crew breakfasted, and we then re- CAPTAIN  FOSTER.
commenced our journey with more spirit. At this
stage the oars were replaced by long poles shod with
iron, similar to those used in our Thames punts.
A platform consisting of a single plank on each side
enabled them to walk about fifteen feet forwards,
and with the pole to the shoulder walking aft maintained a rate equal to about two miles per hour
against the stream.
Up to this point a ship's gig could come with ease,
and, in case of necessity, I should think even to
Gorgona. Here a canoe might be despatched over
night, with fresh hands, in readiness to effect the
utmost despatch. The gig probably would get thus
far in half the time required by a canoe, and mostly
under canvass.
Just above this position, at Palo Matea, poor Captain
Foster, of her Majesty's ship Chanticleer, met his melancholy fate. The spot is not now marked, but a brass
tablet rudely engraved, and but an insignificant
monument, even for a seaman, still remains in Fort
Lorenzo, to show how little is thought of the pet of
science, when his services are no longer available.
Our progress this second day afforded us little
change, save in the appearance of a few more alligators and iguanas. Some of the latter were taken by
our crew, who displayed some tact in putting them
in durance, although cruel—viz. by breaking the
claw joints and passing one claw through the ligament of its opposite member,—toggling their hands
over their necks, as a seaman would term it.    The 1837.]
eggs of the iguana are much esteemed ; every house
displays strings of them hung up to dry ; the
children eat them ; after which, having filled them
with air, they explode them by a blow of the hand,
in mock contention, causing a very sharp report.
They are similar to those of the tortoise or turtle,
but in size not exceeding that of the pigeon.
A second night we passed in our canoe. The
work of the following day became more tedious»
owing to- the dryness of the river, which frequently
compelled us to land. On one occasion, our passage
was for some time obstructed by a large tree, which
had fallen across the stream at its most rapid point.
Fortunately, in its fall it had broken away so much
of the bank, which the stream, impeded in its former
course, had forced a channel through, that we effected
our passage by this new cut, after some little dexterity
on the part of the boatmen, aided by our exertions.
It may readily be imagined, that with eight
chronometers in the canoe, and depending on their
performance, it was not the difficulties or other disagreeables of the voyage, which kept me continually
in torment In fact, every time the canoe touched
anything more solid than water my senses were
About sunset we got sight of Gorgona, and were
shortly after housed for the night (excepting, however, for astronomical observations) in a habitation
provided by the alcalde.
Our baggage was landed by eight the following 16
morning, and it was intended that the party should
have moved on immediately for Panama. But want
of mules and previous arrangement detained them
until noon, when the greater part had moved forward. My astronomical observations detained me
until three, when Lieut. Bevan and myself mounted
our steeds, intending to reach Panama that evening.
One of the mates was left behind in charge of
three chronometers, to await my return for rocket
operations, in order to complete the meridian distance between the Atlantic and Pacific, or between
Chagres and Panama, where the tides have effect.
A party from the Sulphur, which had been ordered
to meet me here, having been, by the mistake of the
guide, taken to Cruces, missed me entirely.
Shortly before sunset, having lost our guide, we
fell into the wrong road, but eventually met with
shelter for the night in a hut where nothing else
could be obtained. In the morning, by the assistance of the peasant, our host, we were enabled to
reach the main road, and about two that evening
arrived at Panama, when we found that those who
had preceded us had also been similarly unfortunate.
Our first efforts were directed to free ourselves
from the garrapatas, or ticks, which infest the woods
of this country, and we then proceeded to pay our
respects to the widow and family of the late consul,
whom we found residing at the house of Mr. Dawson,
the only English merchant (although by birth a
Russian,) resident here. 1837.]
The Sulphur,' on arriving, had ascertained, the
state of affairs, and finding it probable that they
would not immediately be settled, her commander
had deemed it prudent to avoid any chance of collision with any of the braggadocios, (who volunteered
to capture her if necessary,) and therefore fixed on
the island of Taboga, about twelve miles distant,
where he had fixed his observatory.
As it became important that the distances should
be measured from Panama, from whence the rockets
might be seen, and as all our western operations were
to hinge on this position, the Sulphur was ordered
to repair to Panama, and the observatory was erected
on the N.E. angle of the fortifications.
Instructions, in reply to notes forwarded to our
various consuls from the foreign office, had already
reached from Bogota, directing the several authori-
ties to afford me every facility ; and I now found that
no impediment would have been offered, even had I
arrived in the midst of the blockade. The instructions to the commandant at Chagres warranted
this, and the facilities offered by the authorities at
Panama fully evinced their disposition to second
the views of the governor of Bogota.
Assume the command of the Sulphur—Escort Consul's family to
Chagres, and measure meridian-distance by chronometers—Embark the ladies in her Majesty's ship Nimrod, and re-measure distance to Gorgona—Another attempt with the rockets from Cara-
veli ; unsuccessful ; Explosion bags from tree on Ato. Ormigero ;
successful—Measure distance to Panama—Power of Moteros in
carrying burdens—Opinion on rocket measurement compared
with chronometer—Present state of Panama—Move to Taboga
— Leave Taboga — Visit Baia Honda — Magnetic Island
(Pueblo Nueva)—Pass Gulf of Nicoya—Papagayo gusts—
Arrive at Realejo—Obtain supplies—Port of Realejo—Quit.
Realejo by the Barra Falsa—Repair to Libertad—Visit San Salvador—Return and hear of fatal accident to coxswain—Surf—
Difficulty of getting to ship—Succeed, and quit Libertad—
• Touch at Manzanilla (Port of Colima)—Reach San Bias—Visit
Tepic—Quit San Bias for Sandwich Islands.
Having formally taken the command of the
Sulphur, and replaced Lieutenant Kellett in the
Starling, Lieutenant Dashwood was invalided, and
several of the Sulphur's crew were discharged for
passage to England.
The affairs of the late consul's family having been
arranged, and the necessary preparations completed
for their removal, I recommenced my journey
to Gorgona with five pocket chronometers. We
formed a complete escort for the ladies ; and, arriving
shortly before them at Gorgona, made all the
necessary arrangements for such comfort as could
be procured on their water excursion down to
Accompanied by Lieutenant Collinson, who was
already previously prepared for my immediate departure, we stepped into a light canoe at eight the
same evening, but did not succeed in reaching-
Chagres before noon the day following. The original agreement for this canoe, down and to return,
was six dollars ; but our increased number induced 1836.]
them to impose; therefore rather than lose an
instant I was glad to hear the paddles in motion at
the price of ten.
About dawn the ensuing morning, the heavy
canoes arrived, and as our repose had been disturbed,
in the same manner as on our former visit, we were
fully prepared to receive our fair travellers, for whom
we had prepared coffee and other requisites by the
aid of our kind friend Captain Fraser,—their meeting
with whom was a melancholy one, as a.bout one year
before he had landed them, in the bloom of health
and enjoyment, at this very spot.
At eight, we took our leave of them, they embarking in the Nimrod, and we proceeding to our professional toils, under a broiling sun, on the ramparts
of San Lorenzo.
We had arranged to return at two to Gorgona,
but our crew had been tampered with, were intoxicated, and it was merely by giving way to all their
absurd demands for increase of pay that we eventually departed at dark.
At ten on the 20th, we reached Gorgona, and
tried a second set of rockets on Mount Caraveli, but
being of faulty construction they failed, bursting the
instant they were fired, without ascent.
A second station, by bags of powder exploded
from a high tree on Ato. Ormigero, succeeded.
On the following morning we commenced our
journey to Panama, the heavy chronometers being
packed in a basket of hay, with the pocket watches HMM
above them; the whole secured on the head and
back of a light-footed Motero.
Some of these men carry enormous burthens ; I
have already mentioned one case weighing one
hundred and seventy-six pounds, brought on the head.
It was in this manner, in a chair with the back secured to the head, and the hind legs supported by
stirrups to the shoulders, that the Padres travelled in
central America and the Equador. It is not improbable that some of these individuals exceeded the
above weight.
On my arrival at Panama I found the weather
continued so very hazy, and the light of the moon
interfered so much, that further operations were
delayed until the termination of our survey of the
bay, when another attempt was made from Ato.
Ormigero to connect Gorgona with Panama by explosion bags.
No one could have felt a greater interest than
myself in these operations, and provided I could
have been the actor, endued with ubiquity, very
possibly I might have been better satisfied with
the results. But I have long acted in conjunction with others, and I recollect only two or
three instances where comparisons obtained by
simultaneous signals from ship to shore, and within
three miles, have been satisfactory. I know this
from possessing two first-rate pocket chronometers,
whose differences could not exceed 0',4", but which
nevertheless exhibited as much as two seconds error
mm»   two oMi
l nave rreoii*
h our whak force of chis
\ an assistant, and fennel
m  i am toefea  geerêj
i Sket watehes, prcvi spy \
MBH, wo more worthy    ^
É|t Ibwfe of a gun in pe
lortly after the, visit.of Ulloa, abrni
-' --M
asulsfri^ent*comprise all ib<
| doubtless will change the inttfsj
[„tidn !■• in f«*«e. - Inns and lodging^
Hap 1er i:-.. accommodation of those pur-
ry facility for erecting .a. su
hag ..the inner anchorage. < <  1836.]
in comparisons thus, taken. I have frequently taken a
set of comparisons with our whole force of chronometers immediately after an assistant, and found errors
of five-tenths or more. I am therefore perfectly
satisfied that good pocket watches, previously rated
at the extreme positions, are more worthy of confidence than explosion of rockets. We seldom find
two observers note the flash of a gun in perfect
accordance, even at three miles.
Panama was formerly a place of some note,- but
shortly after the visit of Ulloa, about a century ago,
may be said to have arrived at its zenith. The
remains of the buildings evince wealth, and afford
some idea of the extent to which they hoped to carry
their improvements. But they are now fast falling
into decay. The port is seldom visited by vessels of
any size, and the fortifications, which originally were
admirably constructed, are rapidly following the fate
of the houses.
The population is chiefly a mixed race : few
Spaniards are to be found. One Englishman, and the
American consular agent, comprise all the society we
met. This doubtless will change the instant the
steam navigation is in force. Inns and lodging-houses
must then arise for the accommodation of those pursuing this route.
There is every facility for erecting a substantial
pier, and improving the inner anchorage, which must
follow the arrival of the steamers, unless they still 24
submit to the miserable landing at the sea-port gate,
which is as filthy as it is inconvenient.
Of the governor we saw nothing, except officially.
I made the acquaintance of General Herran, with
whom I was much pleased. He has been at the
British court, and was a friend of the late Admiral
Fleming. I am indebted to him for his influence
in preserving order at our quarters on the lines.
Panama affords the usual supplies which are to be
obtained in these tropical regions, and at moderate prices, but vessels wishing to procure water,
bullocks, &c, can obtain them more readily at the
island of Taboga.
Having completed our operations at Panama, as
well as the survey of the immediate neighbourhood,
the Sulphur was moved to the anchorage at Taboga,
where she remained completing water and the necessary arrangements for the run up the coast. On
quitting Panama, our chronometric force was twenty,
two;  of these seventeen were trustworthy.
On the 15th March, we quitted Taboga, and
pursued our voyage along the coast, with the Starling in company. On being becalmed off a deep
indentation of the coast, which appeared to be the
mouth of a river, I left in my gig, in ' of der to fix
one of its points, directing the ship to follow in
should the breeze permit, and the signal for depth be
made. About noon she was anchored in what we found
to be Baia Honda, and about four p.m. our operations
m 1837.]
having been completed, we again put to sea in our
route to Realejo.
As the 21st March was at hand, I determined on
selecting the first eligible spot for making our first I
suite of quarterly observations, and on the evening
of the 20th was fortunate enough to find safe landing on a very convenient island off the mouth of the
river leading to Pueblo Nueva.
As these observations were principally magnetic,
this island received the name of Magnetic Island.
No natives who could afford us any information presented themselves ; and all we succeeded in eliciting,
was that Pueblo Nueva was situated some distance
up the river, of which a very partial survey was at that
time made.
Our operations here having been completed, we
moved on for Realejo. On the 28th, passed the Island
of Cano, and on the 29th, between it and the main,
found ourselves at daylight, off the mouth of a large
inlet, which we had not time to examine ; the
current setting strong to the eastward ; the weather
very hazy, followed by thunder, lightning, and rain.-
On the morning of the 30th, we passed the Gulf
of Nicoya, and close to the island termed Cape
Blanco, at its western point. Here we found ourselves
obstructed by a point off which the breakers and
rocky ledges above water, extended a considerable
distance to seaward. The soundings were regular
from twenty-five to eleven, and eight and a half
fathoms, hard sand, in which latter depth we tacked
- ■ " -   liei-i'..';': —~^—~—-
warn 26
successively within a mile and a half of the shore
surf, and an outer roller about half a mile from us
on the last tack. The weather during the whole
" day was thick and hazy over the land, followed at
nightfall by thunder, lightning, and rain.
These symptoms of the approach of the bad season
rendered me doubly anxious to get to the northward,
as our crew were not at this period in the best
condition, and the moist heat we experienced was very
At daylight the weather hazy, and Cape Blanco
still in sight. A short distance to the westward we
observed a sandy sloping bluff, off which a shelf, apparently composed of sand, with conical studded
rocks, extended a considerable distance to seaward.
On a sandy islet near the bluff, two very remarkable
ears jutting up, off which we tacked in thirteen and
a half fathoms, sand.
On the 2nd, atmosphere hazy, breeze freshened
considerably, which on the 3rd reduced us to double
reefs, gradually decreasing towards daylight, when
the Volcan de Leon, as well as that of Viego, were
plainly seen, and particularly well defined. These
strong breezes just at the point we met them, viz.
off the Punta Santa Catalina, are the prevailing
gusts termed Papagayos, which blow with great
force out of that Gulf, and frequently cause the loss
of spars. Many fish of large size were seen, and
several dolphin caught.
At noon we had reached Point Desolada—a most 1837.]
appropriate name certainly ; it seems almost in
mockery that one or two stunted shrubs are allowed
to stand on its summit—objects at all times of interest to us.
We failed in reaching Realejo before dark, and
not knowing its dangers, preferred standing off and
on during the night, in preference to the being rocked
to sleep by anchoring in the heavy ground swell, or
lulled by the roaring of the surf, at all times particularly loud on this coast. The sailing remarks
will be found in the appendix.
At eight the following morning we anchored about
a mile from the western end of Cardon, where, on
landing, I found a mark probably left by the Conway
when she examined this place a few years back.
The Island of Cardon is of volcanic origin, and
the beach contains so much iron, that the sand,
which probably is washed up, caused the magnetic needle to vibrate 21° from zero. I do not,
however, believe that the needle was much, if at all,
affected on the summit of the island, where our
observations were conducted. Our position was on
its new cliffy angle. The boats having examined
and found the anchorage safe, the Sulphur was
brought in and anchored within the Island of
Aserradores, in perfectly ^till water, four fathoms
On the Island of Aserradores our tide gauge was
established, being free from undulation, although
directly open to seaward through Barra Falsa ; and
■i . —i 28
we were fortunate enough to find a good well of
fresh water close to the beach.
The principal object of my visit at this moment
was to complete our supplies of sugar and rum, which
we had been informed by our naval friends were
good and reasonable, and, moreover, the produce of
a farm belonging to one of our countrymen, Mr.
In this we were rightly informed, and the purser
was immediately despatched to make the necessary
purchases, as well as bullocks, and other necessaries.
Trusting to the accounts I had read of the mag-
nificence of this port, I had fully intended placing
the ship near the town. The visit of the captain of
the port soon undeceived me. He assured me that
at low water not more than three feet would be
found near the town, and so narrow, that there was
barely room for the oars of my gig, and then only
by careful steerage. Indeed, I found that although
the ship might be warped two miles higher up, she
would there be entirely shut from any breeze, her
yards probably locked in the trees, and swarming
with mosquitoes. I deem these remarks particularly called for, as the accounts given in the Modern
Traveller may otherwise mislead.
This port, if a settlement were established on the
islands of Aserradores, Cardon, or Castanon, would
probably be more frequented ; but the distance from
the position where vessels usually anchor (within
Cardon) to Realejo, is a sad drawback to vessels 1837.]
touching merely for- supplies. Rum is also too cheap
and too great a temptation for the seamen. Supplies
of poultry, fruit, bullocks, grain, &c, are, however, very
reasonable, and of very superior quality ; turkeys are
said to attain an incredible weight ; they still, however, justly maintain a very high reputation.
At the period of our visit, a young American had
imported machinery for a cotton mill, and had also
advanced funds to a family of Leon for the cultivation of the cotton plant on the island of Aserradores. But although the house on the island was
in progress, and the machinery erected between
Realejo and San Antonio, I much doubt the
success of either speculation. Cotton thrives well
in the interior, but not on Mangrove islands such as
Aserradores, and the plan of the mill power I much
These people also are too indolent for the successful pursuit of anything which requires perseverance. They are attracted for the time by the
novelty, and rave on the idea of the fortunes they
are to make, but one unlucky accident overthrows
all their hopes and stability.
The present village of Realejo (for the name of
Town cannot be applied to such a collection of
hovels) contains one main street about two hundred
yards in length, with three or four cross openings,
leading to the isolated cottages in the back lanes of
With the exception of the houses occupied by the REALEJO.
commandant, our Vice-consul, Mr. Forster, admi-
nistrador of customs, and one or two others, there is
not a decent house in the place. The ruins of a well-
constructed church attest its former respectability ;
but the place is now little more than a collection of
The inhabitants generally present a most unhealthy
appearance, and there is scarcely a cottage without
some diseased or sickly-hued person to be seen.
Our botanical collector proceeded to Leon, in order
to make the most of his time. The purser and
surgeon visited the sugar establishment of Mr. Bridges
at San Antonio, but the duties of the survey detained
me at the ship.
About a mile below the town the ruins of an old
but well built fort, with three embrasures, are yet to
be traced, and between it and the town are the floor
timbers of a brig, which ventured up to grave, but
fell to pieces before she was taken in hand. Vessels
of 100 tons have grounded at the pier of Realejo
Custom-house, but above that they would be left
dry at low water.
Mr. Forster, the Vice-consul, happened to be on
a visit to Grenada during our visit ; we therefore
had not the pleasure of becoming acquainted with
On the 10th the Starling rejoined us, and our
observations and interior survey being complete, we
moved to the outer anchorage, to finish the external
parts of our plan. 1837.]
On the 12th the Starling was despatched to Libertad in order to make the necessary arrangements for
obtaining time there, at the instant of our arrival,
as well as to make enquiries, and provide for our
visit to San Salvador, where our Consul-general, Mr.
Chatfield, resided.
Realejo is the only port after quitting Panama
where British residents can be found, or supplies conveniently obtained. Water of the finest quality is
obtained from a powerful stream, into which the
boat can be brought and the casks filled by baling,
alongside of a small wall raised to cause a higher
level. Here the women resort to wash, but by
due notiee to the Alcalde, this is prevented. A
guide is necessary on the first visit, after entering
the creek which leads to it, and which should only
be entered at half flood ; it is necessary to pole the
remainder, the channel not having sufficient width for
The water from the well on the island of Aserradores is good, but I have a great objection to water
infiltrated through marine sand and decayed vegetable
matter, and consider the chances of sickness one step
removed by obtaining it from a running stream.
The mountains in the neighbourhood of Realejo
are magnificent, particularly to the spectator at twelve
or fifteen miles off shore ; but as they will be subsequently noticed, as well as the Estero Dona Paula,
which leads up to Leon, I shall not advert to them
further at present. 32
On the 13th of April, we quitted Realejo, and aided
by land and sea breezes, reached the anchorage off
Libertad, on the 15th, by eight a. m.  Here I found my
good friend Kellett had fully met my wishes, and
after breakfast, the surf being then moderate, we
risked our persons, not however without a wetting,
and gained the Custom house on the beach, which is
little better than a mud hut, with a small cabin at
one end for the officer.    Here we were detained
waiting for mules until two p. m., and without any
respectable place of shelter, and nothing to amuse
us, or even to kill time.    This delay became doubly
annoying as it would prevent our reaching San Salvador before dark.    We mounted our mules, however, which seemed to promise us some little vexation
from their miserable condition, and, accompanied by
Kellett, set off for San Salvador.    The mules, which
were before blown in the exertions to evade their
pursuers, and much worried by innumerable horse
flies, which caused the blood at times to roll freely
down their faces, could neither be persuaded nor
compelled to move at a faster than cargo rate, little
exceeding a walk.
The road is through a very mountainous tract, and
for the first five miles the great effort is made to ascend
by a bridle road, little better than a goat path, or very
similar to the roads between Gorgona and Panama.
On reaching the highest pitch from whence we could
observe the sea, the scenery grew more interesting,
and as the sun declined it became beautiful.    At 1837.]
this season too every thing appeared to disadvantage,
the atmosphere being hazy, and the vegetation
parched ; they were also burning the trees, &c, to
clear and manure, and the temperature was sultry in
the extreme.
About seven we reached the village of Hojia, but
hardly had we made our calculations on reaching the
city of San Salvador, at nine, when the sound of
thunder and the appearance of heavy black clouds
caused us to pause. Our guidé also made his preparations for the coming storm with so much determination, by unsaddhng and packing our baggage
under the centre of an open horse-shed, that it was
received by us as a signal for no further remonstrance.
Thunder, lightning, and rain we had in profusion.
But there are few evils without some trifling loophole
through which comfort may be derived, or at all events
imagined, by those in the humour to make the best
of all disasters. The change of temperature was a
great relief, and we consoled ourselves by looking
forward to the enjoyments of a cool ride when the
clouds should have passed. The only shelter we had
was shared with our mules ; and, perched on our
respective saddles and baggage, aided by Indian corn
leaves, we were glad to sup on a couple of eggs,
and a plaintain each, not having touched food since
six A.M.
After enjoying sundry naps in every imaginable
position, interrupted by the encroachment of a leak
at one time, or the too near approach of the nose of
VOL.  I. D
a mule at another, we arose at midnight, resaddled
the beasts, and with a clear sky resumed our journey.
At two we entered the city of San Salvador, and
were misdirected by the guard to the house of the
French Consul, who was not a little surprised at
such an unexpected visit. He was, however, excessively civil, offered us accommodation, and finally
sent his servant to conduct us to the house of our
Consul-general, Mr. Chatfield, who turned out with
much good-humour, provided refreshments, and having
chatted away the interval employed in preparing our
beds, we finally enjoyed an uninterrupted repose in
civilized style.
We were amused in the morning by the sound
of martial music, and found a band of eight heroes
very pompously attired, parading the street, but
unaccompanied by troops. At ten they returned
with the latter, in number about twenty ; the master
of the band, fancying himself at least a general,
and using as many antics as a gander, leading forth
his troop to the green. The whole number reminded one much of Liston's brave army in Bom-
bastes Furioso.
The town is very prettily situated on a level plain
or amphitheatre, from which several lofty mountains
rise, that of the Volcano de San Salvador being1 the
most conspicuous. The streets are broad, and very
clean for a foreign town ; the houses have very
projecting eaves; they are substantial, although
lightly constructed, and of one story only, in con- 1837.]
sequence of the liability to frequent shocks of earthquake. They have internal courts, and appear to
possess convenience, space, and comfort. All are
well supplied with water by aqueducts ; have a good
market, every necessary being cheap, and abundant ;
and nothing is wanting to their comfort but society,
and strictly enforced order. The want of this latter,
I am informed, is a sad drawback ; and it never
can be attained under their present laws, habits, &c.
One of these habits, arising from their new system >of
Independence, is entering your house, and seating
themselves without invitation : any opposition might
be attended by unpleasant results—even to assassination.
During the day we accompanied Mr. Chatfield to
call on the President Morasan, an intelligent gen-
tlemanly person, very much like the portrait of
Bolivar, which at the time was suspended over his
chair. We afterwards called to make our apologies
to the French Consul, who, being from home, returned the call, and pressed us strongly to dine the
day following, but as our return was imperative, we
were obliged to decline the honour.
The temperature in the shade during our stay
averaged 76°.
At six the next morning, we commenced our
journey to Libertad. The weather was cool and
pleasant, from the effects of the late rain. The
country in the neighbourhood of the city appears to
be   in cultivation—apparently sugar-cane.     Cattle
are abundant, and, although in a state of civil war,
the toils of clearing the soil of wood, by fire and axe,
are still in activity.
On reaching the highest point of the ridge, which
commands the sea as well as the surrounding mountains, we had anticipated a grand treat, but the
action of the sun on the recently saturated earth had
clothed all in vapour.
At a stream, half the distance down, we stopped to
take our luncheon, which we enjoyed under the
shadow of an immense tree overhanging the stream.
Our poor beasts, however, were grievously tormented
by their enemies, the horse-flies, which caused them
literally to flow with blood, but more particularly
about the head and neck.
About two o'clock, as we neared the beach, I
perceived Lieutenant Collinson awaiting my arrival.
His presence on shore, backed by the expression of
his countenance, foretold disaster; and I very
shortly learned that my gig had been overwhelmed
in the surf, and my coxswain drowned. This was
a severe blow to me, as I had never before lost a
man since I held a command.
On our arrival at the beach, I found no less than
fourteen hands on shore, and not the slightest chance
of passing the surf. We were compelled patiently
to await the following dawn, at which moment the
sea, owing to the land breeze blowing during the
night, and until six in the morning, usually overcomes
the impetus given by the sea breeze of the day. 1837.]
By the statement of Lieutenant Collinson, I found
that our misfortune was witnessed by the persons
in power with the most perfect apathy ; and of this
I had ocular demonstration in a second mishap.
In the morning we succeeded in passing our
whale-boat, which got out well. Kellett followed
in his gig, but unfortunately got into a heavy roller,
and for some minutes I was at a loss to ascertain
who were saved, my attention being directed to
Kellett. By great exertion I prevailed on one-or
two natives to assist the seamen, who, although not
more than knee deep, were sinking from exhaustion,
and would probably without aid have been carried
back by the efflux. I was myself, although fresh,
scarcely able to keep my footing, the boulders and
sand falling back with such force on the efflux.
During this affair, the commandant stood mute,
nor did those under his command offer the slightest
assistance. However, their miserable appearance
but too truly indicated their utter helplessness and
We succeeded in recovering the gig, which was
slightly stove, and as we could not get off for several
days, we employed ourselves in preparing her for
the next attempt.
Every scheme to effect a communication, by casks,
rockets, &c, failed, and every attempt to take advantage of a lull proved abortive, although Kellett
watched in the water, with the boat afloat, for some
hours. LIBERTAD.
At length, on the morning of the 22 April, we succeeded in passing Kellett out in his gig by six a. m.
We had no serviceable whale-boat remaining, and
one of our gigs was therefore sent. She swamped
in a heavy roller, but the officer, Mr. Speck, mate,
and crew, having been selected for the duty and
well prepared, swam in with the connecting line
fast to our cutter, which was moored without the
danger limit. They also succeeded in bringing in
the boat, but bilged. A cask containing implements
was then hauled in, into which the clothes and instruments were packed and sent off by the line to
the cutter. Having repaired our boat rapidly, we
made an attempt, and fortunately passed without a
The body of the coxswain was not found, although
the shores were searched daily. It is probable that
he was taken by the sharks, as he was a light hand
and expert swimmer.
" Port of Libertad." One would naturally expect
from this title that something pretending to a bay,
or deep indentation at least, would have warranted
the appellation. But a straight sandy beach, between two slightly projecting ledges of rock about
one mile asunder, forms the playa of Libertad :
it is law and interest only that have made it a port.
At times the bay is smooth, but the substratum
at the beach being of large smooth boulders of compact basalt, the instant the surf rises they are freed
from their sandy covering, and a dangerous moving 1837.]
stony bottom left, on which the boat grounded. We
were informed that it is generally violent for three
or four days at full and change, which corresponded
to the time of our visits.
The village contains about twelve huts, with a
family of about six in each. There is also a long government building constructed of adobes, in which
the tackle of the bongos used for landing cargoes
is usually stored ; and a cabin for the commandant
at its extremity served for parlour, bedroom,
kitchen, &c. The only pet birds were fighting cocks
perched under the chairs, or probably tethered in
the corners. Cockfighting is a complete passion in
Spanish America.
This is all that can be hoped for at Libertad.
The rollers which set in on this beach curl and
break at times in four or five fathoms, at least
a quarter of a mile off. Those within, which are the
most dangerous, are caused by the offset or efflux.
The sand beach is composed chiefly of magnetic
iron sand, the dried superstratum, about one inch in
thickness, caking in flakes free from admixture.
The anchorage is uneasy, and, I should think,
unsafe, and should be avoided near the full moon.
Sudden rollers come in, which are apt to snap chain
cables, unless with a long range.
Poultry, bullocks, &c, are to be obtained, but
compared with those of San Salvador or Realejo,
the prices are exorbitant. Bullocks can only be
embarked in one of their bongos. TRACK  OF  THE  BLOSSOM.
On the 22nd we quitted our anchorage, intending
to make the shortest passage to San Bias. By the
advice of several old traders, I stood to sea in order
to reach the trades, as the inshore passage is not
only tedious, but subject to strong gales in opening
the Gulf of Tehuantepec.
We experienced a very heavy swell from the
north, succeeded by strong breezes, and parted company from the Starling during the night—the ship
very wet and uneasy.
Crossed the track of the Blossom ; compared observations for magnetic declination : observer in
both cases, E. B.
Blossom, 1827.
Sulphur,   1837.
Mean of three days.
That given in Bauza's chart 10J, is probably an
error of the engraver.
Fish were numerous—among them many flat fish
similar to the old wife ; but until cooked, I was not
aware they had been taken, otherwise specimens
would have been preserved, as the caudal, dorsal, and
anal fins were uncommon.
Having crossed the limits usually assigned for the
trade, and outside of the Blossom's track, I gave up
all further idea of making more westing, and in
12° 307 N. long. 102° 40' W. stretched in for the
land, our water being short, and trusting to Acapulco
being on our lee in the event of distress.
On the 12th May we made the land about three 1837.]
hundred miles eastward of Cape Corrientes. Continued to ply close in shore, taking advantage of
land and sea breezes—the latter never holding
longer than six hours—viz. coming in about ten and
ceasing at four. Current strong, easterly. The
land breezes, when close in shore, helped us from
eleven p.m. until eight a.m., but were never sufficiently strong to impel us beyond three knots,
—seldom two.
On the morning of the 14th, saw the Starling
about ten miles to the E. S. E. ; kept sight of her
from the mast head until the evening of the 19th,
when she again parted.
On the evening of the 17th, when tacking very
close in, apparently at the mouth of a large river
or estuary, observed a vast crowd of men, women,
and children, waving to us. This, we afterwards
found, was some superstitious ablution which had
collected thousands from the interior. . I have witnessed a very similar exhibition at Lytham in Lancashire, in the month of August, at the highest spring
On the evening of the 20th we anchored off
Manzanilla, and dispatched a boat to seek for water.
On her return, we learned that the Leonora barque,
having some English amongst her crew, was at
anchor inside, and that water might be obtained
close to the beach. On the following morning, we
beat in, and anchored in a snug berth in twelve
fathoms.    We determined the position;   obtained PORT  OF  MANZANILLA.
ten tons of water and one bullock ; and at midnight
were again en route.
The bay is small, but safe, anchorage good, water
brackish. There are no houses,—men and families
living exposed under the trees, and had not the
Leonora been there, it is probable that we should not
have met a soul.
This port is the main sea communication with
the city of Colima, thirty leagues, or eighteen hours
travel from hence, and containing a population of
thirty-eight thousand.
The following was kindly furnished by a friend,
who at the moment was on business at Colima.
" This port has a good anchorage, and is well
protected against the southerly winds prevalent
during the rainy reason, but, on account of a very
considerable lake of stagnant water in its immediate
neighbourhood, is very unhealthy during the summer.
Infested by myriads of mosquitoes and sand flies,
even in the dry season, it is nearly impossible to
reside there.
I This port has been open to foreign commerce
for several years, but has not been able to make
much progress. The port itself has not a single
house, and the first adjacent town is Colima, formerly the capital of the territory bearing the same
name, now embodied with the department of
" Colima, it is true, is a large town, of considerable 1837.]
consumption, containing about thirty thousand inhabitants ; but the distance from the port (thirty
leagues) and the difficulty of communication, the
roads being passable in the dry season only, naturally augment the expenses on any mercantile
transaction, to such a degree that it scarcely pays—as
any cargo which could be introduced, would be
merely to supply the district of Colima. Such
drawbacks, added to the detention, deter vessels
from touching at Manzanilla.
" Another cause which must divert the maritime
trade from Colima and Manzanilla, is the preferable
market at the capital of Guadalaxara, for its produce
of sugar, maize, coffee, cocoa, indigo, &c. ; and as
these articles are not eligible for exportation, on
account of the high cost prices, the foreign merchant
could only deal in cash payments, whilst Guadalaxara,
which is generally overstocked with goods, via Tampico on the east, and San Bias on the west, can
supply Colima with the necessary merchandize by
| The articles saleable at Colima are linens, cotton
goods, woollens, and a little hardware ; but, as already
stated, in small quantities, calculated perhaps for the
the consumption of about ten to fifteen thousand
The captain of the port had previously received
full instructions to afford us every facility that the
country could offer, and to repair to the beach on our TEPIC.
arrival. We found him here, but doubtless brought
down by the supercargoes of the Leonora. He
urged me strongly to wait until the following day,
when the colonel commanding at Colima would call
upon me.    We quitted the port at dawn.
After a very tedious beat, we succeeded in reaching
San Bias on the 27th, but did not gain our berth
at the usual anchorage until the following morning,
when we found the Starling had been here two days.
No prospect of provisions, and no dispatches.
On the receipt of a letter from my old friend Mr.
Barron, our Vice-consul at Tepic, who held out hopes
of finding provisions at Mazatlan, which had belonged
to a whaler wrecked at Cape St. Lucas, I immediately
despatched the Starling to purchase them, with
directions to rejoin me off Isabel Island.
Having received a very pressing invitation to
come to Tepic, where Mr. Barron was suffering in
apprehension of a severe family affliction, and it
being essentially necessary that we should arrange
about letters, provisions, &c, I set off immediately,
accompanied by my assistant-surgeon Mr. Hinds, and
Messrs. Simpkinson and Nicholson, mids.
As we entered the town, Mr. Barron's favourite
daughter, about eighteen, expired, and it was not for
some days that I could communicate with him on
service matters. I had already received an invitation
from another friend Mr. Forbes, to make his house
my resting place during my visit, (I was also his
guest in 1828,) and foreseeing the gloominess of the 1837.]
house of affliction, he had most kindly made arrangements for the accommodation of all our party.
The funeral, which took place the following day,
was very splendid, and attended by all the rank and
respectability of Tepic ; indeed the loss appeared a
public calamity ; so entirely was the deceased the
idol of this small community, every family seemed to
participate in it ; nor did they regain their spirits
during our stay.
Having made the necessary observations for proving
the longitude of Tepic, and completed my affairs
with the Consul, we started for San Bias at half-past
three the following morning, and reached the beach
at four in the afternoon. Passing through the town of
San Bias, it being my first visit since 1828, I was
astonished at its utter desolation. It seemed like
another Pompeii, or the tomb of a city, compared to
what I had witnessed in 1828.
In the square, which at that period had every
door open, not three human beings were to be seen ;
and on the market evening, (Saturday,) when I certainly expected to have found some little remnant
of former gay scenes, not one hundredth of the numbers were assembled.
It is truly melancholy to witness such changes. I
fear its fate is sealed, and nothing but a pile of ruins
will mark this once gay spot, particularly as the main
road now passes beneath the hill, and the houses at
the beach have increased.
That same evening I took my departure, the ship THE  STARLING.
having weighed in the afternoon, and awaited me
outside the Piedra de Tierra.
On the 10th June we passed the Isabel, when
the Starling rejoined, having fortunately obtained
part of the supplies for which she had been despatched. CHAPTER III.
Search for islands in the neighbourhood of Socorro—Clouds and
Freshwater Island—Pass over position of Best's Island—Make
Clarion's—Search for islands reported by Whalers between 130°
and 136° W.—Cross Blossom's track—Method of inserting
track—Make Island of Maui—Singular cascades—Arrive at
Oahu—Enter the port to refit—Question of forcible entry of
"Clementine"—Appeal to the Government—Unsuccessful—
Re-capture Clementine, and send her for the king—Missionary
threat—Land the missionaries—Arrival of the French frigate
Venus—Letter from the king—Arrival of the king's yacht—
Royal reception—King consents to the missionaries remaining
—Suspicions of foul play—Take leave of Venus, and quit Oahu
—Arrival in the Bay of Atooi—Quit Hanalai—Present condition of Oahu—Views of the king—College at Maui—Starling
despatched to Port Mulgrave—Touch at Rose Island—Arrive
at Port Etches—Aurora observed—Visit the Russian settlement of Port Etches—Discover traces of Captain Portlock on
Garden Island—Quit Port Etches — Extraordinary appearance of land near Cape Suckling—Anchor in Icy Bay under
Mount Elias—Point Riou not to be found—Icebergs—Arrival
at Port Mulgrave — Rejoin Starling—Lip ornament—Quit
Port Mulgrave. BESTS  ISLAND.
Our course was now directed for the Sandwich
Islands, where we were almost certain of completing
our supplies. Baffling winds, with a heavy S.W.
swell, prevented our clearing Cape San Lucas until
the 14th, when we began to make pretty fair runs.
Sunday, June 19th, having reached the range of
Socorro and Clarion Groups, several of which are
doubtful, I despatched the Starling to seek for Fresh
water and Clouds Islands, and rejoin us off Clarion.
My attention was directed to Clarion, Nublada,
and Best Islands. The weather unfortunately was
very unpropitious, preventing our obtaining astronomical observations.
Birds, principally gannet, ' together with broad
patches of weed at times, plentiful.
On the 20th we found we had been drifted much to
the southward of our reckoning ; hauled up for Best's
Island, and passed over its assumed position, at which
time we could easily have discovered a breaker five,
and land ten miles off. About six we made the east
end of Clarion Island, distant about fifteen miles ; 1837.]
and by eight its bearing, due north, proved that its
position in longitude is not far from correct.
The Starling was now directed to pursue a course
so as to enter on the 130° meridian in latitude 17°
N. I bore up to preserve a parallel course to her,
and enter at 16° 30' N., at which point another cluster
of doubtful islands was reported to exist, as well as
a continuous batch given us by the whalers in 1826
and 1827, as far as 135°, and which we then sought
in the Blossom, without success. As the Starling
would preserve a W.b.S. and the Sulphur a W.b.N.
course through that region, avoiding the Blossom's
track, they ought to have been found if they existed.
22nd. Wind light, Medusa? more plentiful, and a
few sticks floating, excited our hopes of finding land ;
but the current having been determined to set S.
86° W., this would bring them from Clarion island.
24th. Breeze varied much in strength, water
smooth, Tropic birds, (Phaeton iEtherius,) and frigate
Pelican (Pelecanus Aquilus) also observed. As these
latter birds do not go far from land, I am disposed
to believe some one of these reports to be well founded,
but the position erroneously determined. Weather
unfavourable for astronomical observations, even
should we discover land.
25th. Weather variable in puffs, varying our rate
from five to nine knots. Shortly after noon the appearance on the lee quarter caused me to suspect land
in that direction, but the indication was not sufficiently
distinct to warrant any deviation from our course.
Should chance lead me in this direction again, I shall
certainly cross the meridian of to-day fifteen miles
further south. Tropic birds, frigate pelican, gannet,
and flying-fish, were noticed, and during the day we
had partial showers.
26th. Same observations as to wind varying in
puffs about nine a. m. and p. m. : fewer birds, but no
symptoms of land. On the 27th entered the limits
assigned to Whaler's discoveries. 28th. Crossed
Blossom's track; 29th. Passed over many positions
assigned. No symptoms of land beyond the smoothness of the water, wind coming in gusts at nine a. m,
and p. m., and frequent showers—the last one of the
strongest indications within the tropics. The spaces
thus examined must, however, relieve the general
navigation of this region.
I have been thus minute upon this subject, as I
cannot divest myself of the impression that land exists
in this neighbourhood.   So many assertions can hardly
st on imagination.
By the ordinary system of laying down the track
of vessels, no clue is obtained as to the actual limits
of examination. The actual limit of vision is entirely
lost sight of. To render this more distinct in the
Sulphur's track, great attention has been paid to the
radius of vision, so that the dotted circles distinctly
point out where no land can exist. The space has
also been sounded two hourly, with as much line as
our velocity would admit.
Sharks troublesome ; lost one patent log, and the
Jj.::Mlm.,. ■■i
rotator of a second damaged.    Mr. Massey should
invent something to obviate this nuisance.
On July 7th, at daylight, saw the outline of the
island Maui, (or Mowee of the charts,) and about
eight the N.W. extremity of Hawaii (Owhyhee.)
The heavy clouds capping the summits of both
islands prevented our obtaining a glimpse of these
remarkable peaks.
The numerous cascades resulting from the showers
afforded us a very interesting embellishment to the
lower scenery, which we were passing within three
or four miles of the breaker line. To seamen there
is a peculiar enjoyment even in the sight of fresh
water; but the numerous silver threads of it here
sportively displayed must be seen to be duly enjoyed.
No description can convey the idea of their number
and variety, and a sketch including twenty leaps
within one or two hundred yards, would appear
almost a burlesque, yet such was the fact. About
four we passed the east end of Maui, and came suddenly upon Morotoi, (or Molokoi,) Rana (Lana) visible
in the interval.*
The view of Molokoi from this position is very
singular. Four exactly parallel outlines of most
picturesque and lofty cliffs appeared almost a visual
deception, or the effect of quadruple refraction. But
as we advanced it proved in this instance a reality ;
height about four hundred feet, and varying but
slightly from the perpendicular.
* All the words formerly commencing with R now take L.
M^M mm
The current being strong in our favour, and our
velocity above eight knots, the scene varied sufficiently to preserve our interest from flagging.
Here also, as on Maui, several very pretty and loftier
cascades embellished the scenery, which was rich in
colours, but like the work of the scene painter, not
bearing to be examined too closely. Attired in
nature's clothing only, the scene will probably never
be subjected to cultivation.
About sunset we were off the N.W. extreme of
Molokoi, and ^steering for Oahu. About midnight
we found ourselves much closer to the breakers of
the latter island than our speed warranted us in
expecting, the current having helped us considerably.
Fortunately we were on the alert, and hauled off
in time to escape danger. The wind being very
strong, with rain, we hove to until daylight and then
bore up for Honululu.
At six the pilot's boat came off, bringing Mr. Reynolds ; the pilot being drunk, and the wind not admitting our entry, we anchored outside. I landed, and was
received with much warmth by my old friends the
British and American Consuls. On the morning
following the ship was anchored within the harbour,
and our refit commenced.
The Consul applied for my interference, in the
question raised against this government, by the
forcible entry of the brigantine Clementine, under
the British flag, and compelling her to receive on 1837.]
board as prisoners two French missionaries, brought
by her on her late voyage hither from California,—
thus, making a prison-ship of a British vessel—after
her cargo had been started, the vessel returned to her
owner, and these people were permitted to land. The
government at first had endeavoured to carry their
object by bribery with the master and owner ; on
this failing, they had recourse to force ; on which
the Consul advised the colours to be struck, and the
vessel abandoned. The Consul, I think rather indiscreetly, caused the flag to be burned.
I had before been apprised that the lady chief,
Kinau, who governs the island, was entirely under the
control of a missionary, not only obnoxious to the
civilised community, but also in bad odour with the
natives and chiefs themselves, and that I should
not be able to obtain satisfaction. It was further
reported, that by his advice (or command) the cruel
and barbarous act of sending these two persons to
be landed on a desolate part of California in 1830,
was carried into effect merely from the fancy that
his followers would be seduced by them from his
style of religion,—if I am to profane the name by
terming it such.
My duty, however, was plain. If I could succeed
in opening their eyes to the injustice and inhumanity
of their act, as well as the grievous insult they had,
through their ignorance, offered to our flag, tant
mieux. Failing in that, stronger measures would
Having given due notice to Kinau and her chiefs
that I wished to speak on this subject, they assembled at her house, Kuanoa, her husband, receiving us
with military honours, in his general's uniform.
The chiefs were present, as well as most of the
missionary establishment.
Finding remonstrance useless, and that their
principal missionary leader, Mr. Bingham, evidently
spoke in his own name as well as theirs, and therefore that they were not free agents, I ventured to
acquaint them that stronger arguments must be
resorted to, and I instantly ordered the brig to be
recaptured, and the British colours re-hoisted.
Mr. Bingham then ventured to show himself in
his true colours, and, intimating " that blood would
flow from this act," I most distinctly assured him,
I that having now ascertained his character, I should
visit that threat on his head, and that his life should
answer for the first drop of British blood which his
agency should cause to flow." It is true that I did
accompany that threat with my clenched fist, but
totally false that any action of mine towards Kinau
could be so construed. Indeed, I felt too much
pity for her situation, and so far from the slightest
animosity at that instant existing, she shook hands
with me, and Kuanoa, the husband, warmly pressed
my hand at parting.
I immediately decided on landing the missionaries,
and sending an officer in the Clementine to Maui,
requesting the immediate presence of the king, who
was there on a visit. 1837.]
At this critical moment the French frigate La
Venus, of sixty guns, made her appearance. Captain
du Petit Thouars sent to request I would allow him
to act in conjunction, and on his landing, a fresh
interview was requested and obtained. However,
finding them stubbornly determined on maintaining
their acts, we came to the determination of awaiting
the arrival of the king.
Before sunset the missionaries were reinstated in
their domiciles, accompanied by the white population, and crowds of natives, who appeared to rejoice
in the act. The recaptured Clementine, in charge
of Mr. Speck, mate, and under her proper banner,
triumphantly quitted Honululu to apprise the king
of our first acts.*
The Starling hove in sight about the same time,
and so far from showing any hostile feeling, Kuanoa
himself, with his large war canoes, assisted in warping
her in.
The Venus I had been taught to expect in these
seas, her voyage being partly scientific ; our meeting,
therefore, was very cordial. At a déjeuné given
on board the Venus to the Consuls and myself, the
flags of England and America combined were hoisted
at the fore, and a salute of eighteen guns fired. I
regretted much our inability to return the salute,
our orders forbidding it except in cases of necessity.
On the 20th the king arrived, contrary to the
* These and the foregoing facts are noticed as a short denial
of the false statements which have appeared on this subject. ROYAL  LETTER.
expectation of many, as we had been given to understand that every missionary entreaty and threat
had been exerted to prevent him. However, as his
reply to my letter was friendly, and very decided, I
will do him the justice to say that I never for an
instant doubted the pledge he had given me.
| Lahaina, (Maui,) July 13th, 1837.
S Captain Belcher, of H. B. M. S. Sulphur,
" Honululu, Oahu.
" Love to you, Captain Belcher, of the British
sloop-of-war, the stranger beloved. I have received
your letter, and I give my consent to your request
of me to return to Oahu : I will indeed return, that
we may together adjust thai affair ; because it was
I, indeed, that returned those two Frenchmen on
board the vessel : I did it by the hand of Kinau; my
assistant-chief, the one who banished them. As was
formerly done to those two men, by the hand of
Kahamanu, who was formerly my assistant-chief,
so it has been done to them at this time. This was
my doing; but the taking capture the brig Clementine, and the burning of the flag, and acting in
opposition to Britain, I have not by any means done
that, nor have my assistant-chiefs.
I A vessel has gone after Kuakini, governor of
Hawaii ; when he comes, then I will sail.
" With love to you,
| I am yours truly,
(Signed) Tamehameha III. 1837.]
He came in his yacht, the Don Quixote, a barque
purchased from the Americans, and mounting a few
guns for saluting. I waited on him on board her*
and arranged a meeting for the day following.
The captain of the Venus, accompanied by his
officers, and the American and English Consuls, with
myself and such officers as could be spared, repaired
at noon to the king's house, where we were received
by thé officers attendant on the king, in their state
uniforms, similar to those worn at the time of Lord
Byron's visit in 1825. The king wore a round blue
jacket with lace straps on the shoulders, and an
embroidered crown on the sides of the collar, with
fawn-coloured drill trowsers.
The chiefs were seated on chairs, in line with
the king ; the lady chiefs on a bank of raised
mats behind. Our party occupied a line of chairs
fronting them.
The king has not grown much since 1827, but is
confirmed, in his formation, stout built, and about
five feet six. His reception was very cordial, but I
could plainly discern that he had been previously
severely schooled for this meeting.
Before proceeding to business, both Captain de
Petit Thouars and myself protested against the interpretation or interference of Mr. Bingham ; indeed
we requested his absence. This latter point was not
conceded, and he took up a position where he could
command the eye of the king ; but the sharp glances
of some  of the  officers  of both  ships  were  too 58
powerful for him; and I believe something very
much allied to menace from one of the lieutenants
of the Venus damped his ardour, as he spent the
remainder of the time with his head between his
hands, nearly resting it on his knees.
The questions at issue were—1st, The forcible
entry of the Clementine, and putting on board
Messrs. Bachelot and Short.
2nd, The right of British subjects to reside at
these islands, so. long as they conformed to the laws,
as established by treaty of Lord Edward Russell.
This latter they endeavoured to reject-—indeed
refused to acknowledge. The discussion on the
merits of the case of Messrs. Short and Bachelot
continued until four, when all parties being exhausted, the king proposed an adjournment until the
following morning.
The only object carried was the consent that
Messrs. Short and Bachelot should remain unmolested until they could be removed, on the guarantees respectively of Captain Thouars and myself.
The meeting was then adjourned.
The discussion was resumed on the morrow at
ten, and before two we had concluded by gaining
their consent to the unmolested residence of Messrs.
Bachelot and Short, until a favourable opportunity
offered for their reaching some civilised portion of
the globe, and that no further molestation should
be offered the Clementine.
I then presented the claims of the owner for
demurrage and other expenses. 1837.]
Before signing the documents, the king requested
a private interview in the evening, when I remained
with him from seven until ten, discussing quietly the
line of conduct he should pursue, and what the civilised world expected of him—reading frequent extracts from Vattel, which I sent for to confirm him.
As I gave him to understand that I would not
quit the port until I had a definitive answer for my
government, relative to the disputed clause in Lord
Edward Russell's treaty, he immediately consented
to adopt my reading, and signed a copy that evening,
promising another in Hawaian on the morrow.
He protested strongly against the charge of having
forcibly taken the Clementine.
He expressed himself " very much indebted for
this visit of kindness," and observed, | If I had one
who would advise me as you do, occasionally, I should
not get into so many scrapes." We parted on the
best of terms.
I was escorted home by the officer of the guard
and two soldiers, the Governor Kuanoa, and two
lanthorns. This escort possibly prevented mischief,
as, near the fort, we encountered a native with a
musket, in a very suspicious attitude. The officer
of the guard struck him full in the face, and he
darted off in the direction of the fort. It has been
surmised that foul play was intended. The fact of
sending the guard, &c, was somewhat suspicious,
although it did not occur to me until the following
day, when I was told it was their intention to destroy
On the following day I sent a letter to his majesty,
acquainting him that the question touching the
insult to the flag would remain for the commodore
to dispose of, as well as the damages done to the
owner of the Clementine. At the same time I sent
a formal instrument for his signature, agreeing to the
full reading of the treaty entered into with Lord
Edward Russell, and further engaging to grant a
fair trial, &c, before the usual prerogative of majesty
was exerted against any British subject. This was
completed in due form, and returned with an
Hawaian copy.
The Starling had been despatched the previous
day to Atooi, (Taui,) and by four o'clock, our affairs
being settled satisfactorily? we embarked the Consul
and family, and quitted the Port of Honolulu.
As the Venus had saluted our flag, I thought it as
well to give them a cordial parting cheer, and for
this end gave her a pretty close shave. The cheer
was heartily responded to by our French friends,
the national colours of the French at our main, and
the union at that of the Venus. Before sunset we
noticed her get under weigh, and depart for Kamt-
schatka, Nootka, and Monterey.
At two the day following we were anchored in
the snug bay of Hanalae, on the N.W. side of the
island of Atooi. Here we found the Starling had
arrived a few hours before us. These were the two
first British vessels of war which had entered the
port.  IMP
Is majesty
suing thi
|.-.i       *j>      t|lf
•-:::, ; iam,) ana by fqur oclock, our
;>=-t settled satisfactorily, yrë embarked the Ci
&aÀj}   and   quitted ' the   Port  of
V*»ïïtï8 had saluted oiïï'-flîii''.
pere anc
[•Aï   '. Uc   o *.><■■;
tea had entier* V
• M
^   Il  1837.]
in  coming   hither was  to  embark
Our object
bullocks, which, we were assured, were better and
cheaper than at Oahu ; and we were fully repaid
for the trouble; we obtained noble animals, and
meat as fine as in England.
During our detention, the survey of the bay was
completed. At four, on the 27th,- we took our departure for the north, taking leave of civilized society
for some months. Hanalae, besides beef and vegetables of the finest quality, furnishes fruits, poultry,
turkeys, &c, cheap and in abundance. Water can be
filled in the boats, by sending them into the river.
I shall now return to Oahu, and compare it with
what we left it in 1827, just ten years before. On
the first glance I thought it had retrograded.
The appearance of the natives was miserable and
dirty; their features apparently coarser, and that
brightness of eye and independence of carriage which
freedom alone can exhibit, were decidedly wanting.
The habit of frequent bathing, which constituted
half their original existence, is entirely exploded, and
not one good trait or feature by which former
navigators have described them can be traced !
The substitution of the mud brick, or adobe of
the continent, for their former neat wooden paling,
gives the town a most gloomy aspect, and adds a
dirty cast, independent of the actual nuisance arising
from the clouds of dust which dry weather and
strong sea breezes bring to your house, resulting
from the constant destruction of the adobes. 62
The native population has decreased in a degree
exceeding ordinary calculation, whilst that of the
foreign residents has increased in the same proportion. In 1827, with the exception of the Consul's
family and the missionary ladies, not a foreign
female could be found. At a ball given during our
visit no less than twenty couple stood up. Some
ladies then were absent from illness, and those of
the missionary families could not be expected to
attend such sinful pastime.
No apparent change has taken place in the cultivation of the land ; they are still in the same state
of idleness as to their own affairs. They cannot
cultivate their land, because their labour is demanded
for the church, the missionaries having obtained the
necessary edict which compels the natives to labour on
the reefs, to procure blocks of stone for the purpose
of building a new church. The first duty, of obtaining subsistence for their families, was deemed but
a secondary consideration. If they presumed to do
so on Sunday their punishment was double labour
the ensuing week. Even the servants of the foreign
residents were interfered with, and arbitrarily marched
This state of things could not exist long ; great
discontent was manifested by all parties, and it probably would have proceeded to some decisive act,
had it not been 1 considered advisable to suspend
operations for one year."
At Tahiti the natives are compelled to frequent
RBBHS 1837.]
the church. Here the attendance may be avoided,
but " you shall build one of stone." What, it wil
be asked, is this amount of labour ? To cut a block
of compact coral limestone from the reef, about three
feet long, two wide, and one deep, at low water,
and transport it to the shore—say half a mile.
The houses of the foreign residents are considerably improved ; shops are more numerous and well
supplied, and several of them are kept by Chinese.
The chiefs and upper classes are better clothed,
and appear as if they were accustomed to dress
properly. Of course the grog shops, bowling ground,
billiard rooms, &c, have increased in proportion.
The port, however, is less frequented by whalers,
in consequence of their stubbornness in maintaining a
ridiculously high port charge. Atooi, where the
port dues are evaded, is rapidly seducing the old
hands from this port, which, indeed, they do not
enter but to refit. I endeavoured to point out this
mistake to the king, but his reply was, that the port
was in the hands of Kinau—or, in other words,
ruled by the missionaries.
If the king and chiefs continue their present
course, this island will never improve, but for the
benefit of the foreign residents.
The Bonin groupe, I am told, is rapidly improving
in settlers and importance. It is encouraged, I
believe, by our Consul here. If any legal authority
existed there, I have little doubt but half the trade 64
of the whalers would be taken from hence, and
would aid in establishing the Bonins.
The king and chiefs appear to desire to act in
conformity with the established customs of civilized
communities, but are led astray by bad advice, which,
in the absence of those supposed to be empowered
to advise them, they consider themselves bound to
adhere to.
I found this observation particularly on what
escaped from the king. He appears at all times
anxious for the advice and support of Great Britain,
and asked " if another lord would come out to settle
this affair ?" or " who would come to advise him ?"
He asked many questions ; listened eagerly to every
suggestion calculated to avert any future misunder-
GO .
standing between our governments ; and, so convinced was I of his sincerity, that, although my
success was more than doubted by all about me, I
sent a written document by my first lieutenant,
stipulating for his consent in toto to my wishes relative to the disputed article of the treaty, and an
engagement on his part not to exert the undoubted
right of a sovereign power against a British subject,
without due notice to our Consul and satisfactory
reasons to the government ; and this document he
duly signed without comment, at the very instant of
departure. I much regret that I had not an opportunity of paying him my last adieus, after his very
decided courtesy towards me. 1837.]
Amongst the improvements, and one of the greatest
importance to the future welfare of Oahu, or of these
islands generally, I must not omit to mention with
the warmest approbation the school for the children of mixed parents, where they are instructed
not only in all the branches of British charity education, but also in the English language. I was
astonished at their proficiency. This school is supported by voluntary contributions of the white residents, and those frequenting the port, and is under
the especial supervision of the ladies resident—particularly of the Consul's family.
Some of the specimens of needlework exibited
to tempt our patronage were beautiful. These were
the productions of children not exceeding eight
years of age.
The example of these children at some future
period will, it is to be hoped, materially tend to
improve the society of Oahu.
In the present state of missionary thraldom they
cannot much longer continue. The introduction of a
clergyman, and the ordinary course of devotion, must
soon supersede the present system. Such a friend
to advise the king would probably cure all the heartburnings which at present distract the community.
His disposition is good, the people have ever been
mild and amiable, or they would never have submitted
to the yoke which, galls them. The course they are
at present pursuing is equally opposed to their feelings
and their interests.    The civilized world has from
time to time been interested in their acts, by the
prospect of a semibarbarous community rising into
the rank of civilized society, and has extended the
hand of friendship to assist in their elevation. Great
Britain, France, and America, have completed treaties,
and sent consuls to reside among them. But if
repeated acts of outrage, fit only to be attributed to
the dark ages from which they have but just emerged,
continue to sully their flag, in which the British
union is blended, then will they be hurled back
from that footing, into the insignificance which their
bad advisers and their consummate presumption will
so richly merit. And should a vigorous exertion of
power once be called for, then is theiç, sun for ever
set, and the flag of these islands, now so proudly but
wantonly waving, may be confined to their own ports,
as has been the case with San Domingo.
Possibly it is not known that the flag of these
islands has our union in the upper canton, with blue,
red, and white stripes three times repeated.
At Lahaina (Maui) a college is founded, of which
Mr. Andrews is Principal. From specimens I have
examined of their progress in engraving, (charts, and
I believe those of the Sandwich Islands are in progress) their proficiency is very creditable ; and from
what I saw of Mr. Andrews himself, who interpreted
for me at the interview with the king, I had reason
to admire him.
To return to Hanalae : at the present season the
anchorage is safe, but when the N.W. gales blow, a
HUB 1837.]
very heavy sea must tumble into the bay. I am
informed that a Russian store-ship rode out the
season in spite of everything. The anchorage is
pretty well covered by a spit, over which there
is about nine feet ; but there is not sufficient space
in bad weather for more than three vessels, although
in the present fine season the bay is spacious.
The landing is within the mouth of a small river,
which carries, for a considerable distance up, from
one to three quarters of a fathom, into fresh water, and
is further navigable for boats or canoes (drawing three
feet) several miles.
The scenery is beautiful, and my surprise is that
such a favourable situation should so long have been
overlooked. The Consul possesses a tract of land on
which his tenant (Kellett, an Englishman) feeds cattle,
makes butter, cheese, and farms to great advantage.
I am certain that our men derived more nourishment
from the cattle we embarked there than from any
previous diet, and contrary to the general feeling,
preferred it to salt, regretting its loss. I would
therefore strongly advise ships of war to sacrifice
much to secure these advantages.
Our attention was now directed to a very different
scene. Hitherto we had enjoyed the balmy airs of
the tropics, seldom too warm, never oppressive.
We were no longer to bask in sunshine, but to
meet the chilling blasts from Mount St. Elias, the
position of which our orders required us to fix, as
well as to verify generally the principal longitudes of
Our progress northward was tedious and uninteresting. On the 17th August, the Starling was despatched to Port Mulgrave, to make the necessary
observations for fixing the position of Mount St.
Elias, which I suspected might not be seen clearly
every day, and therefore might cause us detention.
Our course was directed northerly, wherever she
could fetch, Port Chalmers, Etches, or Wingham
On the 21st, with light airs at noon, we expected
to see Montague Island; but the current having
driven us much to leeward of our reckoning, we
determined on seeking Rose Island, or the nearest
spot on which I could secure our meridian distance.
About five, Rose or Middleton Island was plainly
discerned, which put an end to our constant excitement by the frequent reports of land which proved
to be only clouds.
At nearly dusk, breakers were observed between
the point we were steering for and the ship ; a
breaker curled close to our lee-beam ; the lead giving fifteen fathoms, previous cast forty-four ; hauled
off into forty-five.
It being calm we drifted during the night to the
south-east, and at six the following morning anchored in twenty-one  fathoms.    Accompanied by
landed to determine 1837.]
the position, but drizzling rain frustrated this object,
and the setting in, forbidding all further prospect for
the day, compelled us to embark.
The island, which does not exceed thirty feet in
height, is a very soft spongy soil, on a slaty micacious
schale, intersected by quartz dykes. A few fuci,
land shells adhering to ferns, and three small alca,
comprised our collection. The ripples I had observed were found to arise from ledges of rock, on
which as little as two fathoms was found. The
tide was ascertained to set—flood, north-east,—ebb,
Strong moanings, or rushes on the surface, intimated that we should have sufficient wind; however,
before weighing I determined on trying what the
bottom would afford, and succeeded in hooking
three fine halibut, two of which I secured ; one
weighing a hundred and forty-six pounds, was given
to the crew, the other divided amongst the officers.
Shortly after five we weighed with the breeze
strong from the northward, and a heavy swell from
the eastward ; the wind veering enabled us to shape a
course for Port Etches, which we now had a prospect of reaching easily, but not before dark.
At nine we observed the aurora for the first time.
The corruscations were all very brilliant, but instead
of broad masses of wavy lambent light, it exhibited
chiefly sharp rays shooting to the zenith, from E.N.E.
to N.W. The stars clearly visible, with diminution
of light.
At dawn, the snowy ranges of mountains from the
termination of Montague Island as far as Cape
Suckling, or in the direction of Kaye's Island, were
entirely free from clouds or vapours, a sight not
common in these regions, and generally a warning for
bad weather. As the sun rose, our attention was
anxiously directed to witness the effect of its rays
on the innumerable snow-capped pinnacles, which
this splendid range presented, each, even the lowest,
an object of interest, compared with our late
scenery. We were, however, disappointed; their
obHquity, added to the faces being to the S.W., prevented the effect we anticipated. It was, however,
accomplished at sunset.
Light baffling airs, with oppressively hot sun,
kept teazing us until after noon, when we appeared
to move but tardily towards the passage between
Montague and Hinchinbrook Islands, where I was
prepared to expect strong tides. About eight we
had doubled the Cape, and a gig was sent to examine the coast ; but shoal water, contrary to Vancouver's idea, rendered it necessary to anchor in
seventeen fathoms. The tide ran at the rate of
three knots, but not sufficiently strong to cause me
any uneasiness. The boat returned without information; we therefore remained quiet for the night.
Several fine fish were caught.
At four we weighed, and followed the gig sent
ahead to point out the entrance to the port.
Worked in against a fresh N.E. breeze, soundings on
OH 1837.]
both sides giving twenty-five, thirty, and forty far
thorns, close in at our tacking position, almost touching the rocks.
About nine we anchored at the mouth of the
small entrance to the inner harbour, in seven fathoms ; pretty nearly in the position mentioned by
The weather immediately became threatening,
blew very hard, brought one anchor home, and compelled us to let go the second.
We were visited by the Russian residents, who
betrayed some little alarm at our arrival, and at
one time I thought would have retired. The stay
of the principal was short, but he returned after we
anchored, enveloped in his waterproof cloak, formed
of the small intestines of the seal, and endeavoured to persuade us to enter the inner harbour.
This I certainly would have done, had I purposed
remaining long. The day continued pouring with
rain, debarring any kind of occupation or amusement.
The day following the wind subsided, but continued from the same quarter, with frequent showers.
I called on the Russian resident, who evidently
had made some preparation to receive me, so far
as hot water and a clean table-cloth were concerned,
but the prevailing odour was that of seal-oil. He
regretted that he had nothing to present to me but
a tanned skin dress, embroidered by the natives of
the   Aleutian   islands,    precisely similar to   those —I 1»
which we obtained at Avatcha, and one or two
baskets. As I was well aware of the exact meaning of this attention, I did not hesitate in receiving
it, particularly as I had brought with me presents of
tea, sugar, and other comforts.
He then took me through the fish and oil establishment, which was inches deep in hardened filth
and seal-oil; and thence to the room containing
peltry. I was much disappointed at the quality of
the furs. They comprised sea-otter, sable, rat,
squirrel, fox, wolf, bear, seal, and beaver, very large
and heavy. The only desirable skins were those of
the sea-otter and sable, and they were not first-rate.
As it is strictly forbidden to sell anything, and our
visit bound us in honour not to permit anything of
the sort, I felt little inclination to remain in this
valuable repository,
This establishment of the Imperial Russian Fur
Company consists of the official resident, eight
Russians, and fifty Aleutian and other allies. The
houses are included in a substantial wooden quadrangle, furnished at its sea angles with two octagonal turrets, capped in the old English style, and
pierced with loop-holes and ports ; the summits of
the lines are armed with spikes of wood. It is calculated to sustain a tolerable siege, under determined hands. The sleeping apartments, or " 'tween
decks," as we should term them, are desperately
filthy. The whole range is warmed by Dutch-ovens,
and the sides being eighteen inches in thickness, are 1837.]
well-calculated to withstand the cold, as well as to
defy musketry.
The native allies, who live in huts outside, are
filthier than any Esquimaux ; arising, doubtless,
from their life of inactivity, resulting from doubtful
dependence. On my return to the ship, I found
that a boat-load of salmon had been sent, which afforded the crew a fresh .meal, of a pound and a half
of salmon per man.
A survey of the port was effected, malgré the unfavourable state of the weather, and our astronomical and magnetic observations were secured. I had
completed my observations at a small island which I
had selected for a station, but was at a loss for a mark,
and had directed a tree near me, which was deprived
of bark, to be felled for this purpose. I had barely
time to arrest the sacrilegious order on perceiving
letters on its sides, and easily traced
JULY 22, 1787.
On my return onboard, I found in Mavor's edition
of Portlock and Dixon's Voyage, Portlock notices
having trimmed and marked a tree on Garden island
in this manner.
At present the island is covered with pine trees :
we could not trace any remains of plants differing
from those on the nearest land. The surface of the
Garden must have been very small, nor did the grass
and mould in any part exceed six inches in depth.
- 74
^ n
11  ' !
On the side of the bay within, where he had his
tents, a species of wild grain was noticed, and a large
spot free from trees. It was gratifying, however, thus
to meet some token of our adventurous countrymen,
even in such an inhospitable clime ; a sensation only
to be appreciated by wanderers like ourselves.
We found strawberries, whortleberries, blaeberries
(arbutus), pigeonberries, and a small cranberry, in
tolerable profusion, without going in search of them.
On Wednesday, the 30th August, we prepared for
sea, and took on board spars and firewood. I
paid my final visit to the Resident, leaving him a
further supply of comforts, for which he evinced
much gratitude.
About two we weighed and beat out, the fort,
saluting as we passed.
Port Etches might furnish a most complete harbour, if vessels frequented these regions, or a station
should ever be required in so high a latitude. The
currents, however, between it and Montague Island,
render it difficult of approach in light winds, and
the Russian informed me that many sunken rocks
lie off Cape Hinchinbroke. But as they designate a
rock over which there may be ten or fifteen fathoms,
a sunken rock, they probably allude to danger to
ground tackle.
It was on one of these ledges that we anchored
in seventeen fathoms, and on tripping had twelve
before clearing the rocks.
The result of our observations at this port gives 1837.]
Vancouver in error nearly to the amount which he
ascribes to Cook.
Finding ourselves becalmed near the flat island
mentioned by Vancouver, and wishing to verify its
position, I started in my gig for this purpose, but
had not proceeded far when a light favourable air
brought me back: all sail was crowded for Cape
Hammond, which was rounded at midnight.
I had been running my eye over Vancouver, and
noticed the difficulty he described in getting round
this cape, by reason of an adverse current ; otherwise I had fully intended to anchor within Wing-
ham Island, and endeavour to intersect Mount St.
Elias from thence, as well as rectify the errors in
that neighbourhood. But time was now too precious, and the ensuing morn proved that my determination had been judicious, as we had gloomy
weather, no sun, light wind, and could scarcely stem
the current.
All our transit bearings and other observations,
plainly indicated the charts to be erroneous about
this region. A river appears to flow near Cape
Suckling, which has not been noticed.
Our attention was suddenly attracted by the very
peculiar outline of ridge in profile, which one of
our draughtsmen was sketching, apparently toothed.
On examining it closely with a telescope, I found,
that although the surface presented to the naked
eye a comparatively even outline, that it was actually
one mass  of small  four-sided truncated pyramids, SINGULAR  SIGHT.
resembling salt-water mud which has been exposed
several days to the rays of a tropical sun, (as in
tropical salt marshes,) or an immense collection of
For some time we were lost in conjecture, probably from the dark ash colour. But our attention
being drawn to nearer objects, and the sun lending
his aid, we found the whole slope, from ridge to base,
similarly composed ; and as the rays played on those
near the beach, the brilliant illumination distinctly
showed them to be ice. We were divided between
admiration and astonishment. What cause would
produce those special forms? If one could fancy
himself perched on an eminence, about five hundred feet above a city of snow-white pyramidal houses,
with smoke-coloured flat roofs covering many square
miles of surface, and rising ridge above ridge in steps,
he might form some faint idea of this beautiful freak
of nature.
aNDHraHn 1837.]
Kaye's Island, viewed from the eastward, presents
the appearance of two islands. The southern is a
high table-rock, free from trees or vegetation, and of a
whitish hue ; the other is moderately high land for
this region, with three bare peaks ; its lower region
being well-wooded.
Wingham Island, which can be seen to nearly its
whole length between Cape Suckling and Point Le
Mesurier, (the north part of Kaye's Island,) is moderately elevated, rising in three hummocks, which
are bare on their summits. The southern at a distance, owing to the lowness of the neck, appears
separated.    The whole is well clothed with trees.
In one direction from the southward, Cape Suckling exhibits on its bower profile, the brow, nose,
and lips of a man. It is a low neck, stretching out
from a mountainous isolated ridge, which terminates
about three miles from it easterly, where the flats
of the ice pyramids just alluded to terminate. Apparently the river or opening near Cape Suckling
flows round its base. There is little doubt but that
we may attribute the current to this outlet, arising
probably from the melting of the snow. We had
less strength of current after passing this position.
Immense piles of drift-wood were noticed on each
side of the opening, but none elsewhere. Floating
trees of considerable magnitude were numerous, and
one sufficiently interesting to cause its admeasurement by sextant, which afforded two hundred feet
as its probable length.    Current northerly.    Water, MOUNT  ST.   ELIAS.
within three miles of the land, whitish, showing a
distinct division, doubtless snow-water and mud.
We continued to be teazed with light variable
airs and strong currents, and on Monday, the 4th
September, finding the wind failing, I determined on
keeping in small water, so as to be able to anchor,
Mount St. Elias being then within fair distance.
About eight we anchored in fifty fathoms, mud ;
the day beautifully fine, horizon well defined, and our
position as perfect as could be wished for our observations, all of which were obtained, and satisfactory.
The current was found to set one mile and a
half per hour west, varying but slightly in force,
and not at all in directym. At this position, not a
single drift tree was noticed. We were within the
white water about two miles, which I am now satisfied
flows from the ice. But why it preserves its uniformity of strength and direction, is yet a problem to
be solved.
On the morning following it was cloudy, with rain,
and the breeze springing up compelled us to trip.
Towards the evening it cleared up, and we were
treated with a most splendid picture of St. Elias and
all the neighbouring peaks, in full beauty, not a
vapour near them. Each range is in itself an object
worthy of the pencil, but with the stupendous, proud
St. Elias towering above all, they dwindled into mere
hillocks, or into a most splendid base on which to
place his saintship.
Although Vancouver describes St. Elias as " in re-
llHUimmi   sP /
m  1837.]
gions of eternal snow," yet his edges, to the very summit, present a few black wrinkles, and the depth of
snow does not, even in the drifts, appear to be very
My anxiety to reach Point Riou and obtain observations on it, induced me to hold on by the land.
Indeed there was no other chance of overcoming
the current. The coast presents so little to recognise
in Vancouver's chart, that I despair of doing more
than fixing the position of Mount St. Elias, which, if
Kellett has been successful in seeing from Port Mub-
grave, will be now secure.
Towards noon the breeze favoured us sufficiently
to reach into Icy Bay, very aptly so named, as
Vancouver's Point Riou must have dissolved, as well
as the small island also mentioned, and on which I
had long set my heart as one of my principal positions. At noon we tacked in ten fathoms, mud,
having passed through a quantity of small ice, all of
a soft nature. The whole of this bay, and the valley
above it, was now found to be composed of (apparently) snow ice, about thirty feet in height at the
water cliff, and probably based on a low muddy
beach ; the water for some distance in contact not
even showing a ripple; which, it occurred to me,
arose from being charged with floating vegetable
matter, probably fine bark, &c.
The small bergs or reft masses of ice, forming the
cliffy outlines of the bay, were veined and variegated by mud streaks like marble, and where they POINT  RIOU.
had been exposed to the sea, were excavated into
arches, &c, similar to some of our chalk formations. The base of the point, named by Vancouver
Point Riou, probably remains; but being free, for
some distance, of the greater bergs, it presented
only a low sand or muddy spit, with ragged dirty-
coloured ice grounded. No island could be traced,
and our interest was too deeply excited in seeking
for it, to overlook such a desirable object.
On our inshore tack we had five fathoms and three
quarters, and were therefore quite close enough to
make certain of our remarks, short of actual contact,
which the favourable breeze would not admit of
without some more important results.
We edged along, keeping within a mile and a half
of the shore, carrying from ten to fifteen fathoms,
until night, when we bore away to cross Beering's
Bay, and rejoin our consort in Port Mulgrave.
I perceive in Vancouver, (vol. iii. p. 204,) twenty-
three fathoms was his nearest approach, and within
one league. He also terms it | low, well-wooded,
with a small detached islet, a little to the westward."
Also, | Eastward from the steep cliffs that terminate
this bay, and from whence the ice descends into
the sea." It is very probable there has been a
misreading of his manuscript, or that severer weather had covered his trees with ice, for we saw none,
and that portion of the coast was examined with
his voyage constantly before me, and the discrepancies discussed with our spy-glasses-on the objects. 1837.]
Our observations and speculations, on the motion
of the ice now before us, led us to suspect that the
whole of the lower body is subject to slide, and that
the whole of the substratum, as frequently found
within the Arctic Circle, is a slippery mud. I am
satisfied that this is the case in Icy Bay, as one
berg, which waé well up on the shore, moved off to
seaward ; grounding again near what I took for
Point Riou.
This leads me back to our observations on the
mathematical forms observed on the 3rd, after
passing Bingham Island, and I perceive that Vancouver notices not only the ice, but (at p. 209, 210,
vol. iii.) attempts to account for its formation, remarking that the ice observed (before reaching
Point Riou and to the southward) was not so clean,
I most of them appearing to be dirty." How came
they so ?
If the dark, | dirty " ice had been near the beach,
it could readily be accounted for, by having been
agitated with the beach mud, andforced up by gales.
But the reverse is the fact. The darker ice was on
the high ridges, and the bright near the sea. Only
the theory of a slip would allow of its moving down
the inclined plane without disturbing its mathematical arrangement. Vancouver's visit occurred In
the latter end of June, ours in the early part of
In Icy Bay, the apparently descending ice from
the mountains to the base was in irregular, broken
vol. i. G CAPE   PHIPPS.
masses, tumbling in confusion, similar to ice forced
in upon the beach by gales of wind. They were
doubtless detached masses from the mountains. But
near Cape Suckling the inclination of the steps was
very slight, and apparently had subsided perpendicularly for many miles in gradation.
The forms observed will best be illustrated by the
sketch.    (Vide plate and woodcut.)
By night we had a confirmed fair wind, a relief
of no small moment bodily, as well as mentally, for
anxiety most decidedly deadens the faculties ; and
I was anything but easy respecting the Starling, as
from Kellett's sanguine temperament he might
think our protracted absence imported accident, and
starting to seek us, might miss us for some time.
On the morning of the 7th we had sighted-the
land near Cape Phipps, and found that we had been
driven much to the westward by the current.
Fortunately I was prepared for this, and hauled up
until I brought Mount Fairweather over Cape
Turner, which the chart showed to be a good leading
© ©
mark (or N. 88° E.) for the entrance.
We were even in doubt on opening the mouth
of the port, which appeared like a cluster of islands.
However, I knew, if she was within, that a gun would
soon bring some signal in return, and was not deceived, as the smoke of the Starling's reply soon
curled over the points. Being sure of our mark,
we bore up for the anchorage, passing from soundings at sixty fathoms ^suddenly   into thirteen and 1837.]
eight, and as suddenly deepening again to forty,
until reaching the ledge off Cape Turner, when it
exceeded the length of our handlines.
The observations in Vancouver were sufficient to
have taken us in, but we picked up Kellett off Cape
Turner, and instantly availed ourselves of his later
examination of the port. We took up our berth
close round the low gravelly point of the island, in
thirteen fathoms, within three hundred yards of the
The Starling had only arrived three days before
us, having been, like ourselves, delayed nine days by
currents and baffling winds. The day was sufficiently
fine to enable me to secure all the requisite observations for latitude, time, astronomical bearings, and
altitudes of St. Elias and Fairweather, as well as
magnetic details.
The principal chief of this tribe, Anoutchy, paid
his visit of ceremony, accompanied by his lady.
Better specimens of the improved state of the
Indians I have not seen. Both were clean, and
well-dressed; the chief by the aid of an old coat and
trowsers bestowed on him by Kellett ; and his lady
in a dark-coloured cotton gown with blue and
scarlet cloak, à la robe, over all. He had assumed
the name of Iwan Iwatsky, probably in compliment to one of the Russian traders, who frequently
visit this port.
Their manners were good, even in some degree
polished; and  although  not particularly well-bred
at table, they were evidently not unacquainted with
the use of knife, fork, and plate.
It was a very gratifying sight to observe such a
change amongst such a set as we found them associated with, even comparing them with their compeers (as chiefs).
Kellett acquainted me that this chief possessed
very high notions of territorial right, and had thrown
difficulties in the way  of wooding   and  watering,
which he was glad that our presence would remove.
, Having given him a few presents, and intimated
Uium* 1837.]
my intention of adding to them at my departure, he
was well pleased, and retired to the shore.
On the first arrival of the Starling, but few canoes
had appeared ; these nearly doubled daily, until his
position called for a vigilance which was unpleasant,
and made them comparatively prisoners.
Our presents having allayed every unpleasant
feeling, the utmost security was felt, so as to admit of
full range to sportsmen and naturalists.
One peculiarity which I noticed in this tribe, is'
the manner in which they receive presents—as a
due, not as a gift ; and consequently no return is
made for civility. They have probably had a lesson
from their friends the fur-dealers, whose maxim is
| nothing for nothing." Excepting in traffic, at
which they are very keen, nothing could be obtained.
Fish, halibut and salmon of two kinds, were
abundant and moderate, of which the crews purchased
and cured great quantities. Game very scarce ; one
goose and a small blue-winged duck were all the
birds that were brought for sale. The remains of
Russian establishments were observed ; a blockhouse perched on a cliff on the east side ; and on the
low point, where our astronomical observations were
taken, the ruins of another ; also a staff, with a vane
and cross over a grave.
Strawberry plants were very numerous, but the
ladies had cleared them of fruit, and were busied
during the day procuring supplies of these and other NATIVE   ORNAMENTS.-
berries from the main, which, with salmon, appear
to constitute their chief food.
Although many seal-skins were noticed, I did
not observe this or animal food amongst them.
Deer is said to abound, but on asking for it, they
pointed to and named Sitka (in Norfolk Sound)
and Nootka. Their implements of chase are far
inferior to those in use amongst the Esquimaux or
The men are wretchedly clothed, in mats woven
with the inner bark of the cypress, which is tough,
flexible, and very soft. The women are very similar
to the Esquimaux, differing however in the mouth-
ornament, which is here worn in an aperture under
[1837. 1837.]
the lower lip. It is of wood, and retains its place
by the elasticity of the flesh contracting in the
groove, substituting larger ornaments as they grow
up, or as the aperture elongates. They are as filthy
as such tribes usually are, beyond description, and
use vermillion, and any paint they can get. I
must, however, except the chiefs lady and daughters,
as not wearing these ornaments, or paint, and exhibiting a dislike to it. The latter I had not the
pleasure of seeing, but I am told one is very pretty,!
—I suppose we may add, " for the tribe."
On the 8th October, after completing our astronomical observations, and swinging the ship for
local attraction, we took leave of our friends, and
with great difficulty got up our anchor, owing to the
tough clay in which it had hooked. Light airs prevented our getting out, although towed by the
canoes as well as our own boats ; I therefore turned
her head to her old anchorage for the night.    The
© ©
chief and his lady, who had come to secure the assistance of their tribe, as soon as they perceived my
determination, were quite delighted,—the only time
I had seen them relax their features,—and haranguing the canoes, particularly her ladyship, they not
only increased in numbers, but also in efforts, which
had they applied earlier, we should have gained an
offing. We were very soon at anchor. I think
they gained a saw and hatchet for this manoeuvre.
They well knew every hour of delay would enrich
them. 88
About six the following morning a breeze enabled
us to get out. We were visited by the greater part
of the canoes ; but the chief and his lady, who had
taken tea with us, and finished by asking for a little
warm gin and water, were probably too sleepy to
pay us a visit at this early hour.
About nine the breeze giving us too great a velocity for the canoes, and their saleable articles being
expended, one by one they gradually dropped off
and left us to pursue our course. We found some
difficulty in gaining a fair offing, and stood in until
the last moment of daylight, in order to ensure a
loiiff tack after eight p.m.
© ©
At half-past seven I left the deck, after the deep
sea cast was given " no bottom ;" but I was not
quite satisfied that I ought to credit it. However,
as I had great objections to discuss the matter
with the mate in charge of the watch, I thought
possibly that the next cast he would be more attentive. I had hardly been seated in my cabin five
minutes, when breakers ahead and under the lee
were reported, and the first lieutenant being on
deck, relieved him from charge, and prepared for
putting her about. On reaching the deck, I found
her behaving well, and by timely hum'ouring with the
helm, she was safely stayed. After the sails were
full, and with the wind abeam, the influence of the
roller swell, within which we were, was such that she
barely reached out. The least depth we found after
she was tacked, and had   gone several times her   m
Norfolk Sound, Cape Edgecumbe — Sitka — Russian Governor
Koupreanoff—Erect observatory—Establishment of Sitka—
Small-pox among the Indians—Attention of the Governor—
Entertainment to the natives—Probable cause of disagreements
—Musical instruments—Slavery—Russian ball—Quit Sitka—
Customary signals—Reach Woody Point—Anchor in Friendly
Cove, Nootka—Arrival of Macquilla—Description of natives—
Exhibition of magic-lanthorn and fireworks—A court fool—
Sulkiness of Macquilla on our refusal to trade—Description of
natives—Quit Nootka and proceed to San Francisco. [1837-
On the night of September 11th we observed the
aurora. The breeze failed us about noon next day,
within a short distance of Cape Edgecumbe. This
remarkable land is not sufficiently described by Vancouver, or Ave should have reached the mouth of
the sound, and derived the benefit of the flood-
tide, instead of being compelled to anchor and warp
off the rocks.
Cape and Mount Edgecumbe may be easily distinguished ; the latter by being a high dome-shaped
peak, on which streaks of snow and bright lines of
reddish-yellow clay radiate from its apex. There is
not any other high hill on the coast, and the bluff
termination of its western slope is Cape Edgecumbe,
which, if the sound be open, will also exhibit close
under its southern side two small but high islands
called " Bird Islands."
In the morning we had stretched well into the
southern part of the sound, and at daylight tacked
to the northward, with a light breeze in our teeth.
m 1837.]
I despatched Lieutenant Collinson to Bird Island,
in order to secure the latitude and longitude during
the present favourable weather. He was soon
joined by Kellett.
About three the breeze enabled us to lay up for
the centre channel, the houses, citadel, and flags of
Sitka showing very distinctly. About half-past
three we were visited by the Governor's secretary,
Mr. Alexander, in a caiack, with the customary
string of boarding questions answered by merchant'
vessels ; but finding, as they had imagined, a ship-
of-war, these were laid aside, and a note containing
the principal points of interest forwarded by the
The pilot having arrived, we beat into the
channel, where, the breeze failing, we resorted to
towing, aided by the Governor's barge and other
boats sent to our assistance; a practice quite indispensable here, where nine vessels out of ten are
forced to tow in or out. The Governor had also
despatched his lieutenant-aide, who directed in person the exertions of the Russians, and did not quit
us until dark, when, unable to stem the tide, we
dropped anchor about two miles from the Fort.
The aide-de-camp then accompanied me in my
gig to call on the Governor, Captain Koupreanoff,
formerly commanding the Azof, seventy-four, in the
Black Sea, who received me in the warmest manner, and tendered all the facilities which the port or
arsenal could afford ; at the same time, to put me RUSSIAN   FUR   ESTABLISHMENT.
quite at ease in following up the objects of the expedition, he requested I would consider myself
quite at home, and make my own arrangements as to
the selection of a site for my observatory or any
other pursuits. He speaks English well, and with
true English feeling acted up to all he professed ;
indeed, his civilities were overpowering. The Sulphur is the first foreign vessel of war that has visited
this colony.
Having warped the ship to within a cable's
length of the arsenal, the observatory was landed on
an island opposite, and we had the good fortune to
obtain complete sights, and secure our meridian
before midnight.    The natives visited us, bringing
© 7 ©      ©
salmon, &c, and some few skins, but the Governor
having most kindly supplied us with more of the
former than we could consume, and any traffic in the
latter being expressly against the laws of the colony
in which we were guests, I considered it prudent,
and what courtesy demanded, that traffic on board
or at the observatory should be tabooed. This soon
shortened the numbers of hangers on, whose principal object is generally to note the nakedness of the
land, and aid in depredations atnight.
Independent of this, as the Governor informed me,
that even in his time, two years, their fortress had
been threatened, and that, although seven hundred
only were now in our neighbourhood, seven thousand might arrive in a few hours, I deemed it prudent to keep them as much aloof as our sentinels,
ummum 1837.]
without resorting to strong measures, could effect.
At the same time, as our boats would be engaged in
the examination of the sound during our stay, it
became necessary to preserve an amicable feeling so
long as they conducted themselves quietly.
The establishment at Sitka is situated on a broad
flat delta, on the outer rocky peninsula of which the
fortress, which is now rebuilding, stands. It is
about sixty feet above the sea-level, and completely
commands all the anchorages in the immediate-
neighbourhood, as well as the peninsula. The inner
line, which traverses the longest base of this delta, is
protected by a heavy line of picketted logs, twenty-
five feet in height, surmounted en cheveux de frise,
and flanked at. the angles, within musket-shot of
each other, by small block-house redoubts, loopholed
and furnished with small guns and swivels. It extends from the sea in three fathoms, about one
mile through to the river. This cuts off all connexion with the natives, but through a portcullis
door, admitting into a railed yard those, bringing
goods to market. This door is closely watched by
two or three guards, who, upon the least noise or
dispute in the market, drop the portcullis, and proceed summarily with the delinquents.
As the traffic is generally conducted by women
and children, and the Russians moreover employ
female spies in the camp, they are always well
warned, and fully prepared for any act of treachery.
They have also a party of their allies,  (slaves ?) the
Kodiacks, on the opposite side of the stream, who
conduct the greater part of the traffic with the natives, and catch and cure fish for the general consumption.
The present very substantial house erecting for
the Governor and his establishment, is about one
hundred and forty feet in length, by seventy feetwide,
of two good stories, with lofts, capped by a lighthouse
in the centre of the roof. The summit of the light
is one hundred and ten feet above the sea-level, and
commands a most extensive prospect. The building
is of wood, solid ; some of the logs measuring
seventy-six and eighty feet in length, and squaring
one foot. They half dovetail over each other at the
angles, and are treenailed together vertically. The
roof is pitched, and covered with sheet iron.
When complete, the fortifications (one side only
of which at present remains) will comprise five sides,
upon which forty pieces of cannon will be mounted,
principally old ship guns, varying from twelve to
twenty-four pounders. The bulwarks are of wood,
and fitted similarly to the ports on the maindeck of
a frigate.
The arsenal, which is immediately under, on the
low ground, is well-stored with cordage of every
description, and of very superior quality. The
cables and large rope come by sea, but the yarn, in
packages of fifty-six pounds, is transported on mules
through Siberia. The range of artificers is very
complete, and specimens of their  workmanship in     1837.]
every department (more than an arsenal generally
boasts) attest very superior ability.
The saw-mills, which are worked by water,. are
about twenty miles distant, half way down the south
side of the sound, at Les Sources, or warm springs,
which serves as a sort of Harrowgate to the colony.
Their most valuable wood is a very fine-grained
bright-yellow cypress, of which they build boats, and
export the plank in payment of debts contracted for
supplies from the Sandwich Islands, (principally
China and other goods.) They have a building slip,
protected by a house, similar to those in our dockyards, and have, I am informed, built one very fine
The establishment comprises that of a ship of the
line, one captain, the governor; one commander,
(lieutenant-governor ;) and lieutenants, masters, &c,
according to the number of vessels employed. The
total number is about eight hundred, but of these
many, if not the greater part, are invalids ; but few
able-bodied men were visible. Many, of course their
picked men, were absent in their vessels, visiting
the ports and collecting the furs, which were daily
expected to arrive,—when the vessels are laid up,
and they remain quiet until the spring.
I visited every part of the establishment with the
Governor, and although a man-of-war's man's ideas
of cleanliness are perhaps occasionally acute, (and
these people are yet a shade lower in civiliza-?
tion by their intermarriage with the natives,) yet I
still witnessed comparative cleanliness and comfort,
and much to admire, particularly in the school and
hospital. In the latter, the name of the man, date
of admission, and nature of disease, is placed over
the bed of each patient, which in any contagious
disease gives timely warning to any one fearing infection.
Not long since, the small-pox committed dreadful
ravages amongst the Indians, and threatened to prove
a still greater pestilence, by their neglect of their
dead, and not unfrequently of the living, whom
they quitted the moment they found them infected.
The colony having arrived from the westward,
brought their own Sunday ; consequently we were
generally working on our opposite holidays, a measure I could only obviate by respecting their day of
worship, and giving our men a holiday. To our artificers, who could not work at the dockyard on their.
Sabbath, this was a serious drawback, when we considered the short period of our stay.
I visited their church, and witnessed the ceremony.
The interior of the edifice is splendid, quite beyond
conception in such a place as this. The padre, who
officiated in his splendid robes, was a very powerful
athletic man, about forty-five years of age, and standing in his boots (which appear to be part of his
costume) about six feet three inches ; quite Herculean, and very clever. I took a very great liking
to him, and was permitted to examine his workshop,
in which I noticed a   good   barrel-organ,  a  baro-
IB 1837.]
meter, and several other articles of his own manufacture. He was kind enough to volunteer his
services on one or two of our sick barometers, and
succeeded effectually. Notwithstanding he only
spoke Russian, of which I knew nothing, we managed to become great allies. He has since been
promoted and gone home.
On their Sunday, all the officers of the establishment, civil as well as military, dine at the Governor's.
During the week the military meet at the mess daily"
at one. The dinner is soon discussed. They reassemble at five, take tea, and remain until supper,
at ten or eleven, during which interval cards or
billiards occupy their time. The attentions of the
Governor and his establishment wrere kind in the
The vessels in port were one ship, corvette-built,
of four hundred and fifty tons, commanded by the
Lieutenant-Governor, and two brigs commanded by
a lieutenant and a master. They belong to the " Imperial Russo-American Fur Company," who are paid
similarly to our troops employed in the service of
the East India Company, retaining their rank, and
their service time going on.
We visited several stations in the sound, in order
to determine the position of Mount Edgecumbe,
the Cape, Pouce, and some 'of the mountains in the
sound, in prosecution of a projected survey ; a party
was also employed cutting wood (cypress) intended
for the construction of a new whale-boat.
H 2
The chiefs having pestered the Governor to ask
permission to visit the Sulphur, and glad on my
part of an occasion to show that no unfriendly feeling kept them away, I immediately consented to a
nomination of the best characters, amounting to
thirty-seven, which, with the addition of the Russian
officers and ourselves, would form a pretty large
They observed great ceremony in their approach,-
and were dressed in the most fantastic garb imaginable, being generally painted with scores of Vermillion, in some instances not devoid of taste.
Some had helmets of wood, carved in imitation of
frogs, seals, fish, or birds' heads. Others wore the
very sensible plain conical hat * without rim, which
serves effectually to ward off sun or rain ; and the
generality wore, or carried with them, their native
shawl, which is very laboriously worked into carpet
figures, from the Wool of some animal which I could
not ascertain. One or two had cloaks of American-
sables, which were very handsome, but far inferior to
those of Siberia.
Most of the helmet party wore ermine skins, tied
loosely about them, which I found were purchased
at the factory, and are imported from Siberia (via
Ochotsk) for traffic with the natives.
I had an opportunity here, as  well as at Port
Etches, of viewing some of the skins, particularly the
sea-otter, which they purchase from the natives, andr;
* Used by Mandarins in China.
nm 1837.]
was not a little surprised to find how completely
they have arrived at their standard value, which is
a very high price. A moderately good sea-^tter skin
will fetch from six to seven blankets, increasing to
thirteen for the best ; no bargain being conclusive
without sundry nicknacks, similar to the Chinese
cumshaw. These generally may be estimated at one
blanket, which should be worth twelve shillings
here. In money they frequently ask forty dollars ;
on the coast of California, at San Francisco, and
Monterey, as much as eighty to a hundred.
When offering objects for sale, they are very sulky
if their tender is not responded to ; which in some
measure accounts for the ill-humour experienced at
Port Mulgrave, and which I am inclined to think
would have terminated in hostility had I commenced
purchases which could not have been followed up.
Upon very mature consideration of what I have
heard and seen respecting this subject, I think
many of the unprovoked attacks we have heard of
have originated in some transaction of this nature—
refusal to trade being deemed almost a declaration
of war. Facts, however, which have been acknowledged, prove that wanton malice has visited upon
the next tribe the sins of their offending neighbours.
This accounts for the two extremes we notice—extraordinary timidity when they are the weaker, and
overbearing impertinence when they fancy themselves the more powerful party.
But to return to our party.    The canoes were as CEREMONIES.
fantastic as their occupants, (for which vide sketch.)
They were carved in grotesque figures, and remarkably
well handled. After encircling the ship, singing, and
gesticulating, as if she was to become a good prize,
they at length came on board, and were severally
presented by the Governor,—not omitting their virtues or vice versa, when they possessed sufficient
notoriety. I observed that those who had become
(nominally) Christians were entitled to precedence,
but no particular virtues were enumerated as their
especial property.
A feast, as it is termed here, of rice and molasses, 1837.]
had been provided, on tables ranged on the main-
deck. Instead of the proposed thirty-seven, I
think one hundred might be nearer their number,
After one good feed they were served with previously diluted grog ; (mixed to Sitka proof, about four
to one ;) then a second dose of rice and molasses, followed by the grog, and then a third, finished that part
of the meal ; the ladies quietly bagging the remains
in order, I presume, to prevent their soiling our main-
deck. One or two ludicrous dances followed, to their,
own music,—a species of tambourine, clapping, yelling, &c, and a new musical instrument, composed
of three hoops with a cross in the centre, the circum-
ferences being closely strung with the beaks of the
Alca arctica. This being held by the centre of the
cross from below, and given a short vibratory motion,
similar to the escapement of a watch, produced not
a bad accompaniment. SLAVERY.
I was heartily glad when they decamped, as they
began to be noisy, wanted more lumme (rum,) and
thought they had not been treated well,—being as
yet only half-seas over, it was too apparent what a pest
they might have turned out had I indulged them
further ! 1837.]
number, but generally a larger number answers the
insult. This may continue until they have expended
their stock, when they possibly come to personal
attack, assisted by their allies of the tribe.
On the 26th of September, having completed our
observations, we embarked the observatory, and
moved down to the outer roads, in order to proceed
to sea by a more direct channel. Before parting,
the Governor gave an evening party and dance, to
show us the female society of Sitka. The evening-
passed most delightfully ; and although the ladies
were almost self-taught, they acquitted themselves
with all the ease, and I may add elegance, communicated by European instruction. Although few could
converse with their partners, they still contrived to
get through the dance without the slightest difficulty. Quadrilles and waltzing were kept up with
great spirit, and I was not a little surprised to learn
from our good friend and host, that many of the
ladies then moving before us with easy and graceful
air, had not an idea of dancing twelve months previous. I believe that the society is indebted principally to the Governor's elegant and accomplished
lady for much of this polish.
This lady is of one of the first Russian families,
and resembles the pictures of the empress. She
accompanied her husband, enduring great hardships,
through Siberia to Ochotsk on horseback or mules, in
a most critical moment, in order to share with him
the privations of this barbarous region.    The lady of 106
Baron Wrangel, I think, was the first Russian lady
who ventured so far.
The whole establishment appears to be rapidly on
the advance, and at no distant period we may hear
of a trip to Norfolk Sound (through America) as
little more than a summer excursion.
On the 27th of September we parted from our
friends with much regret, and to the latest moment
experienced acts of kindness and attention. Our
egress was by the direct or southern channel, which
leads clear of dangers, and allows of free working
room at a distance of three miles from the anchorage.
There are several remarkable hills in the sound
which, in foggy weather, show their summits above
all, and serve to help the navigator who has before
seen them ; but unless particularly inserted on the
chart, they are of course useless.
Of these, Mount Edgecumbe, at the northern entrance, is three thousand one hundred and thirty
feet above the sea-level, and is easily known by its
denuded red stripes. The Pouce, immediately behind the arsenal, is three thousand four hundred
feet, and indicates the direction to which the vessel
must be pushed for anchorage before dark.
The Russian chart places a light on one of the
rocks in the western channel, but this is incorrect.
There is but one light, and that is on the citadel,
and, unless a vessel makes her signal, will not be illuminated. 1837.]
Two guns is the customary signal ; and boats will
come out to assist, the pilot coming off in one of
There are many rocks nearly even with the
water's edge, which by daylight may easily be
avoided, but the distinct channels are not easily discerned by a stranger, even when assisted by the
Russian chart.
The late strong breezes had raised a heavy westerly swell, which caused us to make very poor
work of it, and agitated our chronometers considerably. However, on the morning of October 3rd,
we reached Woody Point, and at four the same
evening, anchored in "Friendly Cove," Nootka
Sound, the very interesting point of Cook and Vancouver's operations.
At first I doubted my senses, that so small a
space could have occupied so much type, and until
I had examined it myself in my boat, did not think
it could afford shelter to two vessels. However, by
placing one anchor outside, one well in, and the
stream cable to the rocks, the Sulphur became well
secure with the Starling within us. The greatest
distance between any two points does not exceed a
quarter of a mile, and mostly rocky.
The weather, during our stay, proved very unpro-
pitious for astronomical observations, and beyond
the absolute requisites for time and latitude, little
was obtained, and that only after tediously watching
for several days. [1837.
The Indians very shortly began to assemble about
us in their canoes, offering fish ; one in particular refused any return, and, from his appearance, and quiet,
dignified behaviour, as well as the respect shown
him by those in his own canoe, and in those around
him, I was satisfied that he was above the common
herd. There were others, of probably opposition
tribes, who assumed more, and were more gaudily
dressed, but I determined on giving my quiet friend
the preference. He was invited on board, and I
had the satisfaction of finding him to be no other 1837.]
than Macquilla, the husband of the descendant of the
Macquilla or Maquinna of Vancouver, (who states
that he left his daughter his successor, and he probably assumed the name with his wife.)
He intimated that Wicân-ân-ish stood first in
repute, himself (Mack-quill-a) second, and Nook-amis third.
He was accompanied by his wife, a son, and
daughter, who were evidently of the same breed as
himself; much fairer and smoother-skinned than
others of the race (or races) about us, and possessing rather prepossessing and agreeable features.
Vancouver's description of Maquinna's daughter
would accord very well with the present, excepting
that the young lady here introduced was yet but a
child. Her features were, however, more of the
Chinese or Tartar breed, than those of the brother.
Her manner was very simple and winning ; she had
black expressive eyes ; and her affection for her
father, on whom she often clung, with her head reposed on his shoulder, was quite a novel sight
amongst these people.
The son, as well as the daughter, appeared to
receive all the respect due to high rank, even from
the father, who invariably turned over his presents to
I treated them with rice, molasses, and very
diluted rum and sugar, after the fashion at Sitka,
which  they  appeared to  enjoy ;   but  the  damsel MAGIC-LANTHORN.
making very wry faces at the latter, wine was ordered ; the father, however, anxious to taste everything offered her, evidently preferred the milder be
After their repast, presents were given to them,
and notice given to retire. This I found not so
easily effected, the father and son remaining ; and
I was compelled to quit them, to pursue my duties
on shore. I found them on my return still on
board, and, from what I could ascertain from their
signs, anxious to barter their furs. I endeavoured
to make them comprehend that our supplies were
not calculated for trade, nor beyond presents ; that I
expected no return ; and further, that I would land
in the evening, and show them fireworks, &c.
At dusk I landed, taking with me a magie-lan-
thorn and supply of fireworks. At the former they
all exhibited the most unfeigned delight, to a
degree quite outrageous ; but at the ascent of the
rockets, their impressions amounted to fear. I had
several women grasping me by . each hand, huddled
into one groupe, and evidently trembling ; and, by
the light from the fire, I could perceive the tears
rolling down the cheeks of Macquilla's wife and
daughter, who fled to the bush the instant the
fireworks were over ; nor could they be persuaded
to return, even to witness a second exhibition of
the magic-lanthorn.
The excessive enjoyment of Macquilla was ridi- 1837.]
culously displayed, by tearing the bushy hair of his
particular friend or court-fool, but not so violently
as to remove it by the roots.
On the day following, I still found the chief in
bad humour, and at length he despatched his fool
or first aid, to know whether I intended to trade or
not, as he was about to proceed immediately to
Tasheis, his residence, some miles up the sound,
—Nootka being merely a fishing station.
Other natives observed in a marked manner,
I Macquilla go to Tasheis ;" I therefore presumed
that declining to trade became an insult ; and, as I
wished* to part on the best terms, I sent to assure
him that I would see him again on board, the instant I had completed my observations. I accord-
inly did so, purchased several skins, and accompanied
him to the beach, where I enjoyed myself about ten
minutes, witnessing the effect of his speech, describing our uniforms which he had seen, as well as
his treatment on board. At each pause a complete
yell issued from his myrmidons, which at times was
anything but pleasant. I suppose it meant " hear,
hear," as amongst most cultivated assemblies elsewhere.
Macquilla is about fifty, five feet eight inches in
height, his shoulders very square in proportion, and
limbs exceedingly muscular. His countenance might
assume any expression, from that of determined courage to that of the kindest and mildest feelings ;
but  not of fierceness.     His  complexion is whiter
and smoother than usual. His superiority consists in
a dignified, unobtrusive mildness of manner and deportment.
His son appears to be between twenty-three and
twenty-five years of age, and stands about five feet
nine inches ; is fair, and possesses more knowledge
than the father.    His expression is mild.
The daughter is apparently about fourteen or fifteen years old, and, like all the females of the northwest coast, very short-limbed. Like her sex, she was
desperately bent on ornaments, and had enough
about her neck and wrists (although covered by her
blanket) to set up a distinct trade. Unfortunately,
I had none to bestow; Government, or Captain
Beechey, not having considered the ladies of sufficient
importance, to provide the presents necessary for
their gratification. This is bad poUcy, as their first
demand is invariably for presents for the wives and
children; and if they are not gratified, we well
know the result all the world over.
The dress of the natives differs much from those
to the northward. Their cloaks, which are circular
capes with a hole in the centre, edged with sea-otter
skin, are constructed from the inner bark of the
cypress. It turns the rain, is very soft and pliable,
and is in use for mats, sails, ropes, clothing, &c. ;
the roofs of their houses are also covered with it.
They make use of the dried fucus giganteus,
anointed with oil, for lines, in taking salmon and
sea-otters.    The hook is baited with a herring, which
mm 1837.]
abound on the coast, and are taken by a long comb
with teeth about an inch asunder, and ten inches in
length. This instrument is beaten into the shoal
as the canoes glide over it, and as the operator feels
it strike the fish, they are, by a slight inclination
of the hand, turned into the canoe.
The sides of the bay are covered by salmon-
stages in the summer season, when that fish is very
abundant. Gooseberries, strawberries, and the
whortleberry appear to be plentiful in summer, and
probably the raspberry.
No vestige remains of the settlement noticed by
Vancouver, nor could I discover on the site of the
Spanish battery the slightest trace of stones employed for building. The chiefs pointed out where
their houses stood, arid where the potatoes grew, but
not a trace remains of an European.
On my taking leave of them, the chief and his
family exhibited much feeling; indeed, I was not
without some slight share of it myself. I had become much interested about the party. Their general courtesy and freedom from importunity, daily
present of ten salmon, and information rudely imparted, added to a very pressing invitation to visit
them at Tasheis, had convinced me they were superior to any we had yet fallen in with, and that
they deserved encouragement.
If the season had permitted, I certainly would
have gone with them to Tasheis, and examined that
part of the country, but time was precious, the bad
season had now arrived, and I much doubted even of
the propriety of nearing, much more attempting to
enter, the river Columbia.
On the morning of the 9th October, having completed our observations at Friendly Cove, Nootka,
we sailed, intending to call off the mouth of the
river Columbia, and if tranquil enter ; but twenty-
four hours after our departure, the weather proved
boisterous, attended by a long westerly swell, which
rendered it necessary to preserve our offing, and
make the best of our way to San Francisco.
On the morning of the 19th October, we made
Punta de los Reyes and the Farallones, the weather
being beautifully fine, and the sea smooth ; but the
breeze throughout the day did not enable us to
make much progress, and further tantalized us by
springing up at sunset. Having closely surveyed
the entrance to this port in 1827,1 felt satisfied that
it was safer and less harassing to our crew to enter
by night, than to remain outside, subject to sudden
bad weather, as well as the chance of drifting on
? ©
the bar, where a very unpleasant swell prevails with
the ebb.
About nine we entered the heads, and shortly
after midnight, as the moon cleared the eastern
hills, we dropped anchor in Yerba Buena Bay. We
were fortunate in having entered, as it presently
blew half a gale, and the Starling outside experienced very unpleasant weather.
Changes since 1828—Result of revolution—Delawares—Visit
Santa Clara—Decay of the mission—Examine Sacramento—
Meet Indian hunters — Reach Point Victoria — Commence
survey of river—Short of provisions—Grotesque dresses of
Indians—Decrease of population—Animals—Climate—Productions—Scenery of river—Scarcity of provisions—Rejoin
Starling—Insecure state of the country—Renegadoes—Quit
San Francisco—Anchor at Monterey—State of its defences—
Quit Monterey — Pass Cape San Lucas — Touch at Très
Marias—Reach San Bias. SAN  FRANCISCO.
At daylight I was anxious to take a peep at our
old ground, and was much surprised to find, everything going to decay, and infinitely worse than we
found them ten years before.
Of the revolution, of which we heard much and
expected more, not a trace could be observed; it
was a sore subject, and (as it resulted) they were
evidently aware of their inability to govern themselves: no one stepped forward to attempt it, and
they quietly fell back under the Mexican yoke.
Another fate attends this country; their hour is
fast approaching; harassed on all sides by Indians,
who are now stripping them of their horses, without
which their cattle are not to be preserved ; pestered
by a set of renegado deserters from whalers and
merchant ships, who start by dozens, and will
eventually form themselves into a bandit gang, and
domineer over them ; unable, from want of spirit, to
protect themselves ; they will soon dwindle into insignificance.    As a proof of their apathy or help- 1837.]
lessness, a party of Delaware Indians, or American
hunters, had a permit from the Governor to hunt
for furs "in the back country." Their time being
expired, the chief returned, but the remainder, having appointed a new head, are now carrying on land-
piracy throughout the state. In open day they rode
to the mission of St. Luis, and took from the " corral "
all the horses belonging to the mission, (said to be a
thousand !) desiring the administrador to keep clear
of rifle range.
Having a special introduction to the Padre Présidente of the mission residing at Santa Clara, I
set out, accompanied by Lieutenant Kellett and our
surgeon, to visit him ; hoping to obtain the necessary table supplies from the missions, instead of
taking our chance at the beach. After much toil,
and a night spent in the marshes by the fault of a
bad pilot, we reached Santa Clara to breakfast, but
were miserably disappointed, the padre being absent
at San Josef. The mission is fast fairing to decay,
and scarcely common civility was shown to us.
Lately, all the missions have been transferred into
the hands of administradores, who, under the new
law, take about two-thirds to themselves, and account for the remaining third to government. The
consequence is, that the Indians are robbed ; they
do nothing but rob when they can, run away to
escape punishment, and then form themselves into
gangs, and set their masters at defiance. The missions, the  only  respectable establishments   in this ENTER  SACRAMENTO.
country, are thus annihilated ; they have been virtually plundered by all parties.
These were the only places of resort for travellers
throughout California, and even in their palmy times
were only tolerable ; but now a meal cannot be
procured without difficulty, and travellers must rely
upon their own resources.
On my return to the ship, I started with the
Starling, pinnace, two cutters, and two gigs, to explore the navigable limit of the Rio Sacramento ; one
of three streams, diverging about thirty miles up the
north-western arm of Estrecho Karquines, where the
Blossom's survey terminated.
At dawn, on the 24th of October, we started, and
carried the Starling thirty-six miles. On the 26th,
the pilot assuring us that she could not be carried
further, we stored our boats with as much provision
as they could stow, and moved on. We soon found
our pilot mistaken, but it was now too late, our
measures were taken, and several boats twenty miles
in advance. With a most beautiful day we advanced, touching at particular spots for astronomical
stations. Ducks and geese were noticed in great
numbers ; also elk and deer, in herds of twenty and
thirty ; but there was no time for delay.
From  former  descriptions  of the  river,   I   was
greatly disappointed at not meeting with either the
San Joachim or Jesus Maria, equally large streams,
said to trifurcate north and south with the Sacra-,
mento.    These streams may possibly be found upon 1837.]
a closer examination, but no such idea is conveyed,
even to the inquisitive observer, on entering the
mouth of the Sacramento, which becomes a narrow
stream about twenty miles above the position where
we left the Starling ; the intermediate extensive
sheet of water forming a great archipelago. As our
entry was on the northern edge of this archipelago,
we were satisfied that no great river ran in the direc-
tion of or behind " Elk Range ;" the two streams,
if they fork here, must be southerly.
On our left the high range of the Montes Diavolo,
as well as Elk range, appeared to bound the limits
of water. On our right the range of the Sierras Bol-
bones was visible, equally from the sea as from the
source of the Sacramento. All the intermediate
space in the rainy season may be under water, and at
such a period, the trifurcation may possibly be
apparent ; but our guide appeared quite as much in
the dark as ourselves, and could not afford any satisfactory explanation.
This guide was one of those trained in former
days to hunt for Christians ! * and frequently, on being pressed upon a subject of which he really
knew nothing, would reply, " I only know where to
find the Indians."
As these Indians' were sought for in streams
which flowed southerly of the Bolbones, and at the
* Boats with soldiers were sent under the direction of the
padres to capture Indians and bring them to the missions, where
thev were made Christians nolens volens.
back of the range, behind San Josef, the San Joachim
probably flows in that direction, branching off at the
archipelago near the entrance of the Sacramento,
but certainly not navigable, nor entitled to be named
as a river in conjunction with its majestic neighbour.
Having entered the Sacramento, we soon found
that it increased in width as we advanced, and at our
noon station of the second day was about one-third
of a mile wide. The marshy land now gave way to
firm ground, preserving its level in a most remarkable
manner, succeeded by banks well wooded with oak,
planes, ash, willow, chesnut, walnut, poplar, and
brushwood. Wild grapes in great abundance overhung the lower trees, clustering to the river, at
times completely overpowering the trees on which
they climbed, and producing beautiful varieties of
tint. All our efforts were directed to reach the
head of the stream without delay, stopping only at
nine a. m., noon, and three p. M., for astronomical
stations. As my boat was swift, these short delays
afforded rest to the men, and we very soon overtook
those in advance.
About half way up we observed Indians on our
right, but were soon apprised of their friendship by
our guide, who brought their pass from the General
Vallejo, I to absent themselves from the mission of
San José, in order to make treaties with the natives
or wild Indians ;" or in other terms, to make trade
for peltry, &c.    Two of these volunteering to join 1837.]
our party, and hoping through them to get into communication with others, by whom we might be supplied with venison, &c, we willingly took them into
the boats.
On the 30th, about four p. m.» we found the deep
boats stopped at a point where the river forked.
Lieutenant Kellett was despatched to examine the
main stream, but returned without having passed
out of sight, reporting | no water for our lightest
boats." The natives also assured us that this was the
ford where the hunters cross.
I landed at " the Fork," which was named Point
Victoria, and found the natives had but shortly fled,
leaving a large stock of acorns, and all their provisions,
fires, &c, behind.
Every experiment was resorted to in order to get
an answer from them. The natives who accompanied us called loud enough, and doubtless they
were close to us ambushed, but afraid to reply. I
therefore attached a knife, some tobacco, and beads,
and left them to be picked up when the natives returned. On the following morning I perceived
them crouching in the grass. One had a metal band
on his brow, through which some feathers were
passed, They were not clothed, and appeared a
wretched-looking race. They disregarded every
overture made to them by our two Indians, whom
I directed to go full in their front on the opposite
bank, (about pistol-shot across,) and endeavour to
arouse them.    With my telescope I could observe —^-
them wave the hand slowly to indicate their disinclination, and therefore gave up all further hope of
friendly communication. Before quitting, I left
other presents ; and our interpreting friends were
very anxious to exhibit their generosity, by easing
them of bags of acorns, &c, and were much disconcerted at my refusal to sanction their exploits. They
were termed the Wallock tribe by our Indians.
Our extreme position having been satisfactorily
determined by astronomical observations, and true
bearing of the Sierras Bolbones, the more arduous
part of our duty commenced, viz. the trigonometrical
survey from hence to the junction with the Blossom's
Survey at the mouth of the San Pablo.
By these observations Point Victoria was found to
be in latitude 38° 46' 47" north, longitude 0° 47' 31"5
east of the observatory on Yerba Buenâ ; traversing
in its meanderings about one hundred and fiftv
Throughout the whole extent, from Elk station to
the Sacramento mouth, the country is one immense
flat, bounded in the distance N.W. by Sierras Dia-
volo, W. Sierras Bolbones, and E.N.E. to E.S.E. by
the Sierras Nievadas, from whence no doubt this
river springs, and rises in proportion to the rains and
thaws. Our course lay between banks, varying from
twenty to thirty feet above the river-level, apparently, from its strata, of differently composed clay
and loose earth, produced by some great alluvial
deposit.    Sand did occur at times, but not a rock or 1837.]
pebble varied the sameness of the banks. These
were, for the most part, belted with willow, ash,
oak, or plane, (platanus occidentalis,) which latter,
of immense size, overhung the stream, without apparently a sufficient hold in the soil to support them,
so much had the force of the stream denuded their
Within, and at the verge of the banks, oaks of
immense size were plentiful. These appeared to
form a band on each side, about three hundred yards
in depth, and within (on the immense park-like
extent, which we generally explored when landing
for positions) they were to be seen disposed in
clumps, which served to relieve the eye, wandering
over what might otherwise be described as one level
plain or sea of grass. Several of these oaks were
examined, and some of the smaller felled. The two
most remarkable measured respectively twenty-seven
feet and nineteen feet in circumference, at three
feet above ground. The latter rose perpendicularly
at a (computed) height of sixty feet before expanding its branches, and was truly a noble sight.
All the trees and roots on the banks afford unequivocal proofs of the power of the flood-streams,
the mud line on a tree we measured exhibiting a
rise of ten feet above the present level, and that of
recent date.
At the period of our examination the river was
probably at its lowest, and much less than I had anticipated  in   regard   to  strength,   being  at  times RANCHERIAS.
almost still water ; and yet up to our highest position the Sulphur might have been warped or towed
by a steamer. During the rainy season, which
commences about the middle of November, and
terminates about the end of February, the river is
said to overflow its banks, when its impetuosity is
such that navigation (for the craft of this country I
suppose) is then impossible. The annual rains do
not, however, of necessity inundate these low lands,
but in severe seasons, after heavy falls of snow, they
produce one immense sea, leaving only the few
scattered eminences which art or nature have produced, as so many islets or spots of refuge.
Upon these spots the tribes who inhabit these
low lands are frequently compelled to seek shelter,
principally, however, on those artificially constructed,
—as all were which we examined. They consist
merely of a rounded pile, raised about fifteen feet
at the apex above the surrounding level ; the space
from which the earth is removed forming a ditch
to carry off the superfluous water.
Our pilot termed them Rancherias, (as they also
do any place to which the natives resort,) and assured us that each was the separate property of a
distinct tribe. None exceed one hundred yards in
diameter ; and confined within such a compass, it
is fearful to contemplate the ravages which disease
must make in an inclement season, or the misery
which the survivors must endure thus pent up with
the dead and dying. 1837.]
Lately, fever and ague carried off whole tribes ;
and the spots they had thus so carefully reared, were
but their own tombs ! On one of these I had fixed
a station, and on digging to insert the post, the
parts of a skeleton, with hair perfect, mixed with
ashes, were turned up. It is, therefore, probable
that they burn their dead, to destroy the animal
matter, and prevent contagion. This Rancheria was
assigned by our pilot (an Indian) to the Onëë-shân-
â-tëë tribe ; but as he appeared to name every tribe
below Point Victoria (where they are Wallocks) by
the same appellation, I am induced to attach little
importance to his nomenclature, as I have been since
informed that they keep to the left bank.
At a position nearer Point Victoria where no mound
was apparent, many entire skeletons were scattered
about, above ground ; which probably may have resulted
from the mortality before alluded to (a few years
since) having cut them off before they could reach
their Rancheria. My first impression was, that some
great battle had been fought, and that their dead had
been left. But this is not customary, and they would
not have been left so complete by birds or beasts of
prey. As these skeletons appeared less disturbed,
it is probable that at these seasons of inundation,
birds and beasts retire to the mountains or wooded
On  our passage down, we  visited   the Indians
whom we had found encamped.    They were also of GROTESQUE   DRESSES.
the Onëë-shân-â-tëë tribe, and were evidently prepared to receive us in better humour.
They appeared as if they had just returned from
plundering the dresses of a theatre, being partially
clothed in shirts, jackets, trousers, &c; in many
instances wearing but half of one of the articles ;
the 'effect of which, in the case of trousers, was
ridiculous in the extreme. Those who could not
sport these grotesque dresses, were fancifully decorated with those pigments which wood fires produce, and which, when nearly dry, was scored off,
thus displaying skeletons, tatoos, &c ; some indeed
exhibited the new patterns of fancy shirts very admirably imitated. The generality, however, were
very disgusting.
The first party were without implements of any
kind, and probably came on a visit of ceremony
as the spokesman, who was one of our interpreters
before alluded to, came to inform me that he had
put some fish on board of the boats. Lower down
the river, I visited them at their Rancheria, and
there had an opportunity of observing them more
minutely. Some of the women were clad in cloaks
made from the skins of a slate-coloured duck we
had not yet seen, (either now or in 1827,) which
presented a very neat appearance. All sexes and
ages were collected, and all busily employed,—the
woirien pounding and making acorn-bread, boiling
huge horse-chesnuts, &c, the men forming arrows. 1837.]
The only apparent formation of a hut beneath the
trees, which were their only shelter from the sun,
was a kind of partition formed of folding mats.
Some bore the marks of tatoo ; but this was not
common, and was probably a mission taste.
Their general appearance was that of extreme
misery and filthiness ; and much as I wished to see
the completion of one of their arrows then in pro-»
gress, I was glad to breathe the open air, and free
myself from such company. Some of our party
induced the hunting set to exhibit their skill with
the bow ; but they were far from expert. Their
implements were but few, and of the simplest kind,
—similar, indeed, to those observed at Point Victoria,
and probably constructed on the spot, to prevent the
labour of conveyance.
They are migratory, and were generally traced
by us to have fixed their temporary sojourn under
a horse-chesnut, or in the immediate vicinity of
acorn grouuds. It is probable that they continue
travelling and amassing their stock until winter,
and then betake themselves to the high grounds or
the Rancherias. As habit is second nature, and all
these tribes, including all I have seen at the missions, appear of the most degraded class, it is probable that they prefer the latter, (" De gustibus, &c.,)
where possibly their friends the ducks and geese,
visit them occasionally. Possibly, also, the deer may
drop in on them. But the chances are miserably
poor, in case of inundation. DECREASE  OF  TRIBES.
The river abounds in fish and muscles, which
they take in great quantity ; but I suspect they are
not sufficiently skilful to capture those of larger
dimensions, which we noticed incessantly leaping ;
probably sturgeon, or a fish resembling it very
Elk and deer were tolerably plentiful ; the former
are easily taken, and the profusion of antlers found
at the Rancherias prove their capture in fair quantity.
The pilot, a native, converted and retained by the
mission, informed us that the banks throughout our
whole route were once thickly studded with these
Rancherias, and with natives to possess them. They
are now nearly extinct, and individuals of the tribes
are only to be found in the mission.
Let not theorists too eagerly advance the opinion,
that the introduction of foreigners depopulates whole
tracts.    A higher power has operated here.
It is probable that the hunters and Delawares
which frequent these grounds, may have in some
measure caused them to shift their ground. It is
also known that they have most valorously contended even against the rifle, and suffered slaughter
rather than retreat, generally severely and fatally
wounding their adversaries. These are traditions.
Of the mortal sickness which scourged the Columbia
and its tribes, as far south as the Colorado in one year,
and even penetrated to the rocky mountains, we have
the most perfect evidence.    The later visitation of 1837.]
the small-pox probably was communicated by an
American or Canadian.
The Sacramento was once famed for its beaver
and land-otter. They are not scarce at present, but
our mission Indians were anxious to induce us to
become purchasers of furs which would certainly be
termed refuse to the northward.
The climate by day was mild, ranging from 41° to
77°. On one occasion on shore at night it fell as
low as 36°. The water ranged from 53° to 56°.
Slight rain 'was experienced on two days, but the
weather generally was extremely fine.
Our collection was enriched by some very beautiful ducks, owls, hawks, and other birds, which
abounded on the banks. Of four-footed animals few
were killed. Cuyote or jackal-fox, racoon, land-
otter, weasel, and squirrel, were obtained. I fired
twice at small tigers or tiger-cats, but they were
too thickly clad for small shot to make any impression. The party succeeded in taking an elk and a
deer, and killing a great quantity of wild geese.
Near the mouth of the river the soil is entirely
peaty ; so much so, that it was very difficult to use
the artificial horizon, particularly on the ebb or
flood-tides. The spring-tides overflow all the lower
lands, which are well stored with long flag grass, and
rushes of great size, of which latter the natives construct their balsas. The ground does not assume a
substantial bearing until the flood is overcome by
the fresh water ; and there the soil is of the finest
VOL. i. K
kind. Roses, arbutus, and other small shrubs flourish
luxuriantly, and wild grain produces and re-sows
itself, affording perpetual pasturage to the deer, &c.
During the dry season the natives burn this down,
and probably by such means destroy many oak
plantations which otherwise would flourish.
The oak of California does not bear a high character, although it is the same as that used generally
on the eastern coast of America, about the same
The ash is excellent, but does not attain any great
size. Wild grapes generally prefer it, and the varied
colours of the dark-green leaves, added to the brown
tints of the decaying leaves of the vine, produce,
on rounding the different bends of the river, very
beautiful contrasts at this season. Our friend the
plane, however, will not be eclipsed.
The timber of this tree is solid, and does not
swim ; when green it seasons well, and I found it
made good gunwales and timbers for light boats.
Laurel, varieties of oak, sumach, pine, &c, we
noticed ; also the bulbous root termed ammoles
by the Spaniards, and generally used as a detergent
in washing. It is roasted, and used by the natives as
food.    It has a sweetish taste.
The grapes were abundant and well-tasted, but
small in size and large in seed, therefore not very
great luxuries. Some of the acorns were as sweet
as chesnuts. The fruits of the hiccory and walnut
we occasionally met with, and not having better, we 1837.]
thought them excellent ; but the shells being very
thick, and the fruit small, they were as little prized
as the grapes.
About twenty miles above the Starling's anchorage
we found the water perfectly sweet ; we therefore
became not only relieved of the weight of this necessary article, but were enabled to luxuriate in
draughts of the purest we had tasted for many
weary months. To seamen such a luxury seldom
occurs, and it is one a landsman can scarcely appreciate. I suspect, however, that the waters of the
Sacramento would obtain their preference over all
It was otherwise, however, with solid provision.
Of this we very soon fell short ; and the nature of
our duties prevented our seeking assistance with our
guns. Twice we were compelled to despatch a boat
for fresh supplies, and on each occasion were re*
dueed to a much lower ebb than was either convenient or pleasant. Yet all was cheerfully submitted to, with the exception of one or two bad
characters, who were sent to luxuriate on board the
ship, as a punishment. They very soon wished
themselves on the bad fare, as they termed it.
One boat had hardly quitted us before she fell in
with a deer bathing, and to prevent the possibility
of losing a regale, they put about ten balls into his
head. They did not bring him back to us; time
was   too precious.     They  killed an elk  near the
Starling, but by the blow of an oar.    Of him we
tasted, but it was coarse meat.
The soil on the banks is.generally a loose mixture of sand and clay, entirely alluvial. The bottom
varies, from very loose mud to stiff red clay, and occasionally a very quick sand. Two varieties of my-
tilus and some univalves were obtained."
As we neared the actual mouth of the Sacramento,
we were rather more minute in our examination of the
creeks, but found nothing to change in our former
opinions. On the 18th November we sighted the
Starling, and having carried the triangulation up to
her nearest position, before sunset had the satisfaction,
after 'twenty-three days confinement in the boats, of
again luxuriating in a wholesome bed. As the work
of each day was entirely completed on paper before
we retired to rest, (sometimes at four a. m.) the
severe part of our labours was here ended.
. It was my intention to have waited a couple of
days at this position, and afforded the party amusement in shooting geese, ducks, elk, and deer, which
were in great abundance. But as the Starling's
provisions had been forwarded to us, and we had
barely sufficient to carry us down, this was necessarily abandoned ; although in the course of our
operations we were, not idle at this work, particularly about sunset ; generally bagging our eight or
sreese  for   the"
ensuing' day.
excursion the assistant-surgeon of the Starling killed
pun 1837.]
forty-eight geese and eight ducks ; at another
several elk and deer were wounded ; and when our
ammunition was expended, a whole herd of elk
passed me within ten yards.
Having completed our connexion with the Blossom's Survey up to Yerba Buena, we reached the
Sulphur on the 24th November ; having been absent
altogether on this interesting but harassing service
thirty-one days.
As far as navigation is concerned, the Sacramento
affords every facility for small craft as high up as the
" Fork ;" but I cannot at present perceive any advantage to be derived from taking large vessels
above the Starling's position, or even above the
creek at the mouth of the Estrecho Karquines,
which communicates with the mission of San José,
and which, until settlements are made above, will
be the extent of traffic, excepting for timber.
Taking into consideration the whole port of San
Francisco, the Sacramento, and minor streams, there
is immense field for capital, if the government
could protect its citizens or those inclined to reside.
At this moment (December, 1837) they are reduced
to almost their extreme gasp; harassed by their
own servants (who are natives) deserting and carrying off their property ; threatened by the Delawares,
who have piratically ranged the country, taking
away horses and cattle ; disturbed by their late
declaration and recantation of independence; they
sadly- want the interposition of some powerful friend 134
to rescue them. To Great Britain their hopes are
directed ; Why, I cannot learn, but I am much inclined to think that it is rather from a pusillanimous
fear, and want of energy to stand by each other and
expel their common enemies, than from any friendly
feeling to Great Britain.
Besides this, they look with some apprehension
Upon a power daily increasing in importance^—an
organised independent band of deserters from Ame-
rican and English whalers, who prefer a roving
careless life On horseback, and certainty of food
without labour, to the customary hardships of their
vocation. These men, headed by one or two noted
daring characters now amongst them, will, Whenever
it suits their purpose, dictate their own terms and
set all laW at defiance. It is distressing to witness
the downfall of this splendid port, all the forts in
ruins, not even a signal-gun mounted! Such are
the blessings of revolution !
During my absence, the serjeant and corporal of
marines, carpenter's mate, and several men and boys,
had deserted ; seduced, it is supposed, by promises
of independence, high pay, promotion, &c. All our
efforts to trace them were unavailing. We had
strong suspicions that they were concealed by a
person heading the mountain gang, (a discharged
midshipman,) particularly as the serjeant had been
his shipmate before, and he had .visited the ship about
that period.
Nothing further detaining us here, we embarked 1837.]
the observatory ; and on the 30th November took
our departure for Monterey, where we arrived on
the 2nd December. Here I found my old friend,
Mr. Jones, (the American consul to the [Sandwich
Islands,) who had visited the coast on a matrimonial
expedition. As he had just purchased the wreck of
an American whaler, which had been driven on the
beach, a week since, during a heavy gale, we were
fortunate enough to obtain from him a very seasonable supply of beef, pork, flour, and biscuits; of
course at a pretty high price. The French frigate,
La Venus, our old consort at the Sandwich Islands,
had quitted but a few days before, and proceeded to
San Bias.
No one should calculate on supplies beyond those
immediately connected with present consumption,
in any port of California. Bullocks, sheep, and
vegetables, (particularly potatoes,) with a few fowls
and fruit, are all that can be looked for, and these
are of moderate price. All these are much inferior
in quality, and frriit is particularly scarce since the
destruction of the missions. At San Francisco fine
fat bullocks, weighing from four to five hundred
pounds, hide included, were purchased at five dollars
each, sheep two dollars.
I am perfectly satisfied that beef could be as well
cured here on the farms, if proper precautions and
good materials were used, as in other parts of the
world. Individually I have proved it to the extent
of one bullock.    I think it would keep sound for STATE   OF   DEFENCES.
two years ; but from the wild state of the animals when
dragged'to the port, the blood is too much excited to
allow of fair trial. Beef in these climates requires
more sugar and nitre than in colder regions.
Monterey I found as much increased as San
Francisco had fallen into ruin. It was still, however, very miserable, and wanting in the military
air of 1827. The adobe or mud-brick battery
remained, and had been newly bedaubed during
the late ebullition of independence. There were
guns it is true, (about seven,) but they were in a
state infinitely more dangerous to those using them,
than to those against whom they might have been
used. An Englishman was found possessing sufficient courage to fire one at the crisis of the revolution.    That gun decided the question !
Yet I find in the restrictions enjoined on poor
Douglas that he was in honour bound "to desist
from entering or taking plans of the fortifications !"
which consisted of a mud wall of three sides, open
in the rear, with breastwork about three feet in
height ; with rotten platforms for seven guns, the
discharge of which would annihilate their remains
of carriages. The muzzles of one or two brass
twenty-four pounders, very old and very handsome,
are absent, and their verits might, upon an emergency,
be used to load, provided it became necessary to
make a second effort to discharge the shot, as I have
once witnessed. The visit of La Venus had stripped
the place of most of the supplies of which we stood
in need. 1837.]
The governor was in daily expectation of being
superseded by a Mexican appointment ; but it was
not quite certain that he would resign his honours
without, giving some trouble.    The affairs of Cali-
© ©
fornia were not yet finally arranged. Commissioners
had gone to Mexico, via Acapulco, in order to come
to some definitive arrangement.
On the 6th December we quitted Monterey for
San Bias, whither I had already despatched the
Starling to obtain our letters ; the distance to Tepic,
where our vice-consul, Mr. Baron, resides, causing a
delay of forty-eight hours.
A very severe bilious fever confined me to my
cot for some days, and prevented my examining the
island of Guadalupe, and searching for others said to
On the 11th December we passed close to Guadalupe, and thence explored a degree on the parallel
where an island had been lately reported, but
without success, thence southerly, to fall into the
parallel of Shelvoes, Shelvocke's, or Shovel Island ;
steering easterly towards Cape San Lucas, until I
had sufficiently determined its non-existence within
thirty miles east or west of its assigned position.
The Venus also went over the same ground on
nearly the same errand, and with like success.
On the 16th December we passed Cape San
Lucas within about half a mile of the rocks, looking
into the bay preparatory to a future examination,
and passed on for Très Marias, off which we perceived the Starling on the 18th of December. 138
On the day following we landed on the Northern
Maria, and obtained sights ; but disliking the anchorage, stood away and anchored off the centre of
George Island, where we procured wood, surveyed
the bay, and fixed its position. We then quitted
for San Bias.
There is nothing inviting on either of the Marias.
In the rainy season water may flow, but from what
I witnessed of the channels through which it must
pass, they should be well cleansed by floods before it
would be fit for consumption. What remained in
the natural tanks was sulphureous ; brackish, although
far above the influence of the sea ; and formed a
strong infusion of decayed leaves.
By the tracks observed, turtle appeared to have
visited the island lately, but none were seen or
taken. Wood is plentiful, particularly a species of
lignum vitse. Cedar of the coarse species used for
canoes we met with, but none of fine grain.
Firs are probably in the mountains, as I found a
cone in one of the water-courses. The other trees
are similar to those found at San Bias.
The soil is chiefly composed of a sandy mud,
similar to that discharged from volcanoes, and which
in some cases assists in forming an amygdaloidal
stratum, of which the cliffs and water-courses, especially on the northern island, are chiefly composed.
On George's Island the water-courses were of this
nature, with large boulders of greenstone. On the
eastern point a small delta of low land occurs, whjcli 1837.]
has coral sand for its substratum, skinned over with
a covering of mud and soil, on which rank grass
Fish appear to be numerous, particularly sharks ;
and the dead shells on the beach, including almost
every known species in these seas, hold out a prospect of employment for the conchologist.
But the capricious character of the ocean about
these islands renders visits at any time hazardous, as
a few moments may imprison the naturalist for
Weeks. Ten years since, nearly to a day, I found
landing on any part of these shores impracticable,
although the weather previously had been fine.
Here Vancouver tried ineffectually for water,
and I was induced, by the assertion of a master of
a vessel belonging to San Bias, " that wells were
sunk, and good water conveniently to be had," to
make this examination. It is not improbable that
if wells were sunk, water could be obtained ; but is
the result worth the trouble or risk ?
On the 20th of December we anchored off San
Bias, and found no letters; that dreadful damper
after long-cherished expectation, and particularly on
such a service as the present, where year after year
fate may send them without a chance of reaching
us.  im
Official news of the accession of Queen Victoria—Arrival of
Venus—Scurvy—Starling despatched to Panama for letters—
Quit San Bias—Arrive at Acapulco—Entering by Boca Chica
—Interview with the Governor—Erect observatory—Examine
the port—Capacity—Best berth—Watering place — Present
state of trade—Merchants deserting the city in consequence of
custom-house regulations—Earthquakes from 1732 to present
date—Fort San Carlos not affected by them—Period of rainy
season—Distance from Mexico—Imports, exports, and general
trade—Population and diseases—Military force—Execution of
two murderers—Unsafe at night—Quit Acapulco—Touch at
Guatulco, and fix position of Morro Ayuca—Cross Gulf of
Tehuantepec—Views of volcanic peaks—Call at Sonsonati and
Libertad—Volcano of Isalco active—Anchor at Realejo. ARRIVAL  OF   VENUS.
By the kindness of my excellent friend, Mr.
Barron, a large packet of newspapers, affording us
the official intelligence of the accession of our
Maiden Queen, Victoria, was immediately on our
arrival despatched to us, with dates to September.
On the 21st of December the Venus arrived from
Mazatlan, when we had the satisfaction of renew_
ing our acquaintance with our French friends. I
found from Captain du Petit Thouars, that he had
been successful in his examination of the coast of
California, and had surveyed the Bay of Magdalena,
rounded Cape San Lucas, and proceeded to Mazatlan in the vain hope of obtaining supplies. Here
he was equally unsuccessful, excepting in flour, of
which he obtained forty barrels at a very exorbitant
price. Many of his crew being ill with scurvy,
which I believe first made its appearance at Kamts-
chatka, he determined on proceeding immediately
to Acapulco, and landing them until recovered, and 1838.]
thence proceeding oh to Callao or Valparaiso for
provisions, of which he stood much in need. Wine
in particular he had not been able to obtain, nor
had we at this time spirits for our crew. The
duties here on imports are so exorbitant, that they
amount almost to an entire prohibition. At California sixty dollars were demanded for fifteen imperial gallons of indifferent rum, and no doubt at
San Bias or Acapulco not under twenty would have
been asked.
On the 28th of December I despatched the Starling to Panama, to obtain any letters, officers, or
despatches which might arrive for us, and to rejoin
us at our rendezvous, Realejo. We remained
until the 5th of January for the last mail, but nothing arriving for the Sulphur, we bore away for
Acapulco. Unfortunately we were drifted outside
the land and sea breeze limits, and did not reach
it until the evening of the 12th of January.
We made the high paps of Coyuca to the westward of Acapulco, but I cannot persuade myself
that they are good landmarks for iriaking the port.
In the offing they may be useful if not obscured.
Acapulco may be approached from the southward
or westward, by keeping the western cone open of
the land, which will lead up to the Boca Chica entrance, or until Acapulco port is so close under the
lee, that no further marks are necessary. There is
not any hidden danger in the entrance to Acapulco.
Keep a moderate distance from either shore, five 144
fathoms will be found alongside all the rocks, and
twenty-five to thirty in mid-channel. Round Point
Grifo sharp, rather than stand over to San Lorenzo,
as the wind, generally westerly, heads on that
shore. If working, tack when the rocks on the
south point of Town Bay show in the gap.
The two best berths are off the rocks alluded to ;
that outside is preferable, but in either case let the
outer rock bear W.S.W. or W.N.W., so that a hawser fast to the rock may keep your broadside to land
or sea breezes, and prevent a foul anchor.
The breeze barely carried us to the Boca Chica by
sunset, which made me determine on taking that
channel in preference to the chances of calm or
other delay by rounding the island. Fortunately
we succeeded in rounding Point Grifo by dark, and
beat up to our anchorage before eight, passing under
the stern of our old friend Venus, who kindly sent
immediate offers of any aid we might require.
On calling upon Captain Thouars, I found he had
also been tantalized by calms, had seen the Starling
off the port, and had only been four days before
On the following morning I waited on the Governor, who in the most civil manner offered me
every facility in erecting the observatory, or in any
other matter where his services could be available.
He appears to be a complete military character,
preserves strict discipline, and is much esteemed.
The  Venus, after some trifling difficulties with 1838.]
the authorities, landed her invalids, and established
an hospital in a house hired for that purpose.
Her astronomical and other observations were
conducted at the south extremity of the town beach,
on a spot inaccessible to land or sea breeze.
During our stay we re-surveyed the port, and
corrected several errors which were said to exist,
particularly one of three and a half fathoms in the
fairway ; upon which, however, eight and a half were
found by the lead. It must therefore be an error in
The harbour of Acapulco has long been reckoned,
for its size, one of the most complete in the world.
It affords sheltered land-locked anchorage of sixteen
fathoms and under, in a surface of one mile square ;
which, allowing for moorings, would, at half a cable
range, or one cable asunder, accommodate one hundred sail of vessels, even of the line. The bottom
is sandy at its surface, but clayey beneath, and holds
It would naturally be inferred that, surrounded
on its north and east sides by mountains ranging
from two thousand, to two thousand seven hundred
feet, and by others of three to five hundred feet on
the west, the breeze would scarcely be felt, and the
heat be intolerable. This is confined to the town
limits ; at our observatory, and at the port, San Carlos,
we enjoyed a constant breeze.
In all harbours there may be objectionable berths,
but in that of Acapulco, if care be taken to keep in
VOL.  i. L 146
the line of what I have designated the " west gap "
or neck of the peninsula, open of the south point
of the town bay, both land and sea breezes will be
felt in their full strength, and free from causes
which would heat them before entering the port ;
the neck being but a few feet above the sea-level.
Water of good quality was found at several points
between the fort and Obispo rock ; but the two best
streams are between the fort and San Lorenzo.
The market, owing to the decay of the respectable portion of its inhabitants, is but indifferently
supplied, but fowls, fruit, and vegetables, are readily
obtained. The very great mistake committed in
1827, by the expulsion of the old Spaniards, has
ruined every port on this side of Mexico, and the
vexatious system of carrying into effect the Custom
House regulations will utterly ruin its commerce, if
this has not been already achieved.
Only two European residents remain, (Germans,)
and a few months will in all probability induce them
to select some other port under the same laws, but
more justly and favourably administered. During
our visit, a French brig from Lima actually entered
the port, and, much to the chagrin of the officials,
who were contemplating their " pickings," without
a moment's delay tacked and put to sea,—her consignees having ordered her to San Bias, where proceedings are less vexatious. She was consigned to
merchants in Mexico, and as the instructions came
from Mexico, in anticipation of héiL_arrival, they
J 1838.]
must be aware in that city of the state of affairs
here. The circumstance appeared to afford matter
of great amusement to the merchants, and I suspect
that the presence of the Venus saved a little vexatious conduct, had a boat from the authorities reached
Acapulco from its earliest days has been famed
as the resort of the galleons from Manilla,—the
last, I believe, having entered in 1793—4. This,
of course, caused many wealthy Spaniards to settle
as agents for houses in Mexico, and until the edict
in 1827, requiring all old Spaniards to quit the
territory, which was carried into effect in a truly
bandit style by Montesdeosca, it continued to flourish.
That edict, like a blight, annihilated the germs
of high breeding; the Spaniards fled, half castes
stepped in to represent society, and decay has followed with rapid strides, until the place is now merely
a wreck of its former opulence. Nature, indeed,
has not stood idly by, but has added her full share
of miseries, as a further inducement to desert this
almost doomed city.
As far back as the year 1732 earthquakes of
uncommon force have continued to afflict this city.
It is recorded that on the 25th of February of that
year a very heavy earthquake destroyed nearly the
whole town : the sea rose to a great height, covering
the Plaza (or about ten feet perpendicular ;) the successive risings, after receding, recurring slowly at
the periods of the several shocks.
l2 148
On the 17th of August, 1754, another earthquake occurred, ruining the greater part of the
town. On this- occasion the rising of the sea was
attended with more violence ; the Plaza was again
On the 21st of April, 1776, an earthquake occurred
which destroyed many houses.
On the 14th of March, 1787, the whole town was
ruined. The sea retired, leaving the rocks of the
Punta Manzanilla (in the town bay) dry. The
Phillippine, Nao, was anchored at the time in the
port, and was left in four fathoms before the tide
returned,—showing a fall of thirty-six feet.
No earthquake of consequence is recorded afterwards until that of the 2nd of May, 1820. This
earthquake lasted several days, and entirely destroyed
the place. The steeple of San Francisco fell on
this occasion, and the church was rent ; the sea
retired still further than in 1787, and returned in
two hours, rising up to the church door ; the rise
and fall taking place gently. At the ultimate
recession the sand was found to have accumulated
so as to nearly cover the pier, (five or six feet,) by
which upwards of twenty varas of land was gained
at the beach.
On the 10th of March, 1833, about ten o'clock
at night, a heavy earthquake was experienced. The
sea retired forty feet, and gently resumed its former
level. This was felt at Mexico at precisely the
same hour, lasting there about one minute and a 1838.]
half, the motion there being undulatory, but at Acapulco trepidatory.
On March 13th, 1834, another shock is recorded ;
the sea receded fifty varas, and several buildings
were destroyed.
On the 6th of January, 1835, at six in the
morning, a very severe earthquake was felt, lasting
upwards of two minutes ; motion trepidatory, the
shocks recurring every thirty hours for upwards of
a month. This, like that of 1833, was felt in
On the 9th of August, 1837, a heavy shock was
felt, trepidatory, recurring at thirty hours for nearly
three weeks.    It was felt slightly at Mexico.
On the 18th of October, 1837, at four p. m. a
heavy earthquake occurred, which lasted until the
22nd. During this interval of four days the earth
trembled continuously; one hundred separate shocks
were counted between four p. m. 18th, and ten p. m.
22nd. During this interval five very severe shocks
occurred, four p. m. 18th, ten p. m. 19th, midnight
19th, four p. m. 20th, four p. m. 21st. That at midnight on the 21st was terrific ; had it lasted a few
seconds longer, rocks would undoubtedly have been
rent asunder. Following this earthquake, for six
weeks continuously, periodical heavy shocks were
experienced, at ten a. m., ten and twelve p. m., and
at dawn. At Mexico the shocks were severely felt
at the same instants, on the 18th and 19th. -
In conclusion, daily § temblors " have occurred since 150
the earthquake of 1820. But the season when the
heaviest shocks occur is between March and
The above is extracted from notes made by a
commissary resident for many years, and constantly
holding office under the government of all parties.
Under the dread of such - visitations and with
daily warnings that " all is not at rest," who can be
surprised at the desertion of Acapulco ? The whole
town at this moment bears glaring proof of a recent
concussion. Not a whole house remains. The churches
are demolished; one chapel (La Solidad) alone
remains, where mass is performed ; but even this is
rent, and is tottering.
By reason of such liabilities, houses are never
built above the ground floor. Those of the lower
orders are most sensibly constructed, of cane thatched.
Those of the better class, including the authorities,
are of adobes, formed of mud and straw, generally
from three to four feet in thickness, in the walls.
The latter are generally tiled, to afford ventilation, and
avoid insects, which are numerous and troublesome.
Pride alone must induce them to construct these
mud habitations, for with less expense a frame of
cane covered with tiles would be infinitely preferable.
It is rather a remarkable fact that, throughout the
whole of these shocks, the rock-built castle of San
Diego (or San Carlos) has experienced but slight
I caused very minute inquiry to be made, in order 1838.]
to ascertain to some degree of certainty whether any
of the solid granite rocks had altered their height
above the level. The only satisfactory reply that I
could obtain was, That from time immemorial the
rock we made fast to maintained its present position,
and no change of outer soundings had been observed.
High water flows to a hole in that rock, and up to a
crown well marked.
The rainy season is also another great drawback,
and is felt here severely. It commences about the
middle or end of July, and continues until the end
of October. Owing to the immediate vicinity of a
very lofty chain overlooking the town, (one of 2,790
feet) the fall is heavy, and almost incessant. It has
been asserted that in 1837 the rain gauge frequently
indicated twenty-eight inches in twenty-four hours.
During this period the inhabitants are compelled to
use every precaution to keep their houses dry, particularly under foot : a neglect of this is supposed
to produce fever. The heat during this period is
excessively oppressive, especially in May, when the
temperature seldom falls below 98. Water then
becomes scarce, and towards the end of the dry
season the ponds run dry, and wells are their only
Formerly Acapulco was considered as the main
outlet from Mexico on this side ; but San Bias is now
preferred. The distance from hence is one hundred and
four Spanish leagues, and the journey up is gerierally
performed in eight days.    The exports consist chiefly DRESS.
of rice, sugar, dyewoods, and cotton, and of these but
a trifling quantity.
The following remarks of a mercantile friend will
best illustrate the present state of trade :
I The environs of Acapulco are not badly populated,
^ut the wants of these people, the climate being-
tropical, are but few, and, like the neighbouring
Indians, their principal dress consists of the manta,
although they use a little more finery, the men
wearing Chinese sashes, (fasas or bandas,) and pre-
ferrins: linen to cotton for their shirts.
The women dress in linen shifts, using navy blues,
and calicoes for their petticoats. Stockings are not
in use, and for their head gear they entirely make
use of the riboza or Mexican shawl, made in the
interior. Their hats, shoes, and other trifling articles
of wearing apparel are all made in the interior ; so
that articles for sale on the spot, that can be imported
into Acapulco, are reduced to very few.
| The importation of manta is prohibited, being
supplied from the interior. Créas, Russian duck,
prints, a trifle of fine linen, such as Bretagnes,
Estopillas, &c, a few China goods, as sashes, twine,
silk, &c, but principally platillas of middling and
ordinary quality, and navy blues. The consumption
would not exceed two hundred dollars annually."
Thus far then the commerce of the interior appears
to meet their necessities, and the wants of the population are not likely to attract cargoes to this port.
My friend concludes,— 1838.]
I It is only an increase of population and consequent
increase of agricultural industry, that in time may
raise the port of Acapulco to any consequence for
maritime speculation."
The population of Acapulco in 1836 was computed
as follows :
Men               857
Women         1216
Total 2073
Men                 35
Women            40
Total 75
Excess above deaths 40—about 1 per cent.
The diseases of the country are intermittent fever,
ague, yellow fever, jaundice, and dropsy ; measles
and hooping-cough were prevalent during our
The fort will not bear much scrutiny. Although
constructed by the best engineers of the day, San
Carlos, the third fortification of Western Spain (viz.
Callao 1st, Ulloa 2nd, and Carlos 3rd) is commanded
by every easily accessible height in its neighbourhood.
It is capable of mounting sixty guns ; twenty-five of
various calibre are mounted ; ten good brass thirty-
two pounders show their muzzles very conspicuously,
and these we may reckon their main force. Five
hundred is stated as the. garrison, and this includes
militia, (when armed ;) one hundred and fifty can be 154
mustered. They are not well clothed ; and of course
under such officers as frequent revolutions breed, like
mushrooms, little can be expected beyond the most
gorgeous and ill adapted uniform that can be imagined,
stuffed by more pride than the buttons can well
The officers here, as in some other free countries,
can give you a yard of tape, ramrod, or sword.
An example of their determination to rigidly
execute the laws, occurred the day of our departure.
Two peasants, murderers and robbers, were condemned by a court-martial to be shot. They were
led out with great ceremony, escorted by an officer's
guard, and a priest in full canonicals purposely delaying the march, and halting at intervals in order to
inculcate religious precepts. They at length reached
the fatal spot, a jutting headland fronting the ship.
Here two seats had been prepared, with crosses at
shoulder height, when seated. To these seats they
were conducted, clad entirely in white, and their
arms securely lashed to the crosses. The priest
having repeated their sentence, from the warrant,
they were desired to kiss it in testimony of its justice,
and proof of their repentance, which they did most
humbly. Having received the sacrament, they were
despatched by signal, ten men presenting their pieces
within three feet of each victim. One was twenty-
two and the other eighteen years of age, and the sum
for which they deliberately committed murder, four
shillings, or less ! 1838.]
As our purser one night had been forcibly persuaded to empty his pockets of his spare cash, and
other acts of doubtful character occurred, we are
unable to applaud the conduct of the lower orders.
Indeed, we were informed that the native inhabitants
of Puebla Nueva, a few leagues distant from the
town, were frequently in the habit of setting the
authorities at defiance, and committing excesses with
The inhabitants seldom move from home, or in
the town at night, unarmed. The peasantry are
disarmed before entering the town, and receive
their passes and receipts for arms, which are returned on repassing the boundary. This reminds
me of the steamers conveying labourers from
Dublin in 1836, where their shilalehs were taken
from them until they landed on the pier at Liverpool.
After passing our time very agreeably, we took
leave of our friends in the Venus, and on the 19th
of January proceeded for Realejo, intending to
touch at the Sacrificios and port of Guatulco, and
determine their positions.
On the 24th of January, being off the position
assigned for Sacrificios, the coast was examined
closely, for any indentation which might justify our
anchoring. At noon we were to the east of Guatulco, but no symptoms of a port. I therefore
despatched a cutter with Lieutenant Collinson, to
examine for Sacrificios, and rejoin me at anchor on PI;1
l '
the coast. After running twenty-four miles without
meeting with any indentation to justify the title of
port, I rounded to, and anchored off the west point
of a bay, which probably may be the Morro Ayuca
of Bauza, but it differs much in position.
Landing at the time of anchoring was impracticable, but I succeeded on the following day in
obtaining complete observations on a rock off the
point, by which this remarkable angle of the coast
is well secured ; the sea giving me notice to quit,
at the instant I had completed, by nearly washing
away our instruments..
At sunset, Lieutenant Collinson returned, having
succeeded in finding Guatulco, and secured its position.    It was, however, too small for the ship.
My detention at this point afforded me very
satisfactory data respecting the partial set and direction of the currents. During the first twenty-four
hours the current set strong, one and a half to two
knots to the eastward. On the day following,
having again anchored in a calm, it was found to
set westerly, but not with so much velocity. Our
dead reckoning varied considerably in every direction, but an easterly set prevailed.
From Morro Ayuca I shaped a direct course
across the Gulf of Tehuantepec, expecting to experience some of the gusts which are assigned to that
region. In this we were entirely disappointed,
although a fresh breeze favoured us for a short
period.    On approaching the eastern shore, near the 1838.]
NUMEROUS volcanos.
Amilpas range, I was surprised, when at a considerable distance from the land, to strike soundings in
sixty-eight fathoms, which continued to decrease
very regularly until ten that night, when we changed
our course offshore in eleven and a half fathoms, with-
. put perceiving land, or hearing the " surf sound,"
which generally can be detected at night at seven, or
even ten miles.
Light baffling airs prevented our making much
progress, but the tedium was in some measure dissipated by splendid views of these volcanic ranges.
At one view no less than twelve conspicuous volcanic cones were visible. As far as the sea horizon
was available, we endeavoured to fix their positions,
by anchoring daily before noon. Our draughtsmen
attempted to delineate them, but no effort of the
pencil could convey an adequate idea of such magnificence. Far as the eye could reach to the N.E.,
numerous cones of extinct volcanos were readily
traced, as friends of yesterday; whilst to the westward we could barely trace through the tropical
haze those with which to-morrow would brine: us
more intimately in connexion. Our observations
were continued throughout the day three hourly.
Although apparently overlooking us, the nearest cone
was at least sixty miles distant.
Our progress was but tardy until the morning of
the 2nd Feb. when we reached in and sighted the
colours at Sonsonate, off which we observed two
American schooners at anchor.    Amongst the minor REALEJO.
volcanos immediately about Sonsonate, that of
Isalco appeared in activity, and has lately given
them cause for anxiety.
On the morning of the 3rd February we stood
in for Libertad, and despatched a boat for letters,
on the receipt of which we bore away for Realejo.
On the following morning saw the Volcano de Viejo,
and by noon had taken up our old berth within the
island of Cardon.
[1838. Excursion to summit of Viejo Volcano—San Antonio—Mr.
Bridge, its proprietor—Chinandega—Swarm of musquitoes—
Moyotepita—Pine range — Viejo summit — Palm toddy—
Return to San Antonio—Move on to Chichigalpa—Posoltega
—City of Leon—Its Cathedral and College—Reach Piedra
Gorda on the lake of Managua—Attempt to visit Momotom-
bita relinquished —Stormy breezes—Reach Nagarote—Hospitality—Move on to Matiares—Productions—Cholera, fee-
Reported remains of causeway to Momotombita—Reach Managua—Brasil wood noticed—Sleep at Managua—Move on to
Tepitapa—The falls—Sulphur springs—Return to Managua
—Matiares—Nagarote—Leon and San Antonio—Rejoin Sulphur, and quit Realejo to examine Gulf of Papagayo—Bay of
Salinas—Murciellagos islands examined—Return to Realejo—
Arrival of Starling with letters—Quit Realejo—Search for and
find Culebra—Survey it—Reach island of Cocos—Tedious
passage—Pass through Gallapagos, and reach Callao. 160
Having suffered much of late, horse exercise was
recommended to me ; and as my professional duties
might be much assisted by fixing some of the
principal peaks in the neighbourhood, I determined on making an inland excursion for that object. Having paid a visit to Mr. Bridge, the hospitable proprietor of a fine sugar plantation at San
Antonio, and which he manages to work with great
success, I made arrangements, through his assistance,
for mounting the Viejo volcano, from whence I
could obtain an extensive view, not only of the mountains, but also of the features of the coast. Provided with the necessary instruments, and accompanied by the surgeon, a mate, and botanical
collector, we started for Chinandega at p. m. on the
8th, fully intending to ride on to Moyatepita (a
farm belonging to Mrs. Bridge) the same night;
but owing to the stubbornness of our guide, who
was lately married, and his wife residing at Chinandega,   we were unable to  advance until five the 1838.]
following morning. Fortunately we had the pleasure of an introduction to Sr. Chico Vallejo, who
kindly entertained us during the night.
About half past nine we reached Moyotepita,
having passed through a band of mosquitoes, extending three or four miles, which galled both ourselves and horses much, and sadly put our patience
to the test. Suddenly they appeared, and after a
brisk gallop, as suddenly forsook us.
At Moyotepita we rested, breakfasted, and dined.
Moyotepita is situated on the first rise of the great
flat of marsh land, through which the Estero Real
meanders until it reaches the Gulf of Fonseca.
This flat extends easterly behind the ranges of Te-
lica and Asosusco, and probably near, or even as
far as, the lake of Managua, by which (I firmly believe) it is fed. By barometric measurement it is
not above the level of the observatory at Cardon.
Range of temperature 84° to 91° in shade, in a well
fifty feet deep 90°.
It was necessary to come to this side of the
range, as the Volcano de Viejo is inaccessible on the
At four p. m., having procured guides, we proceeded for the foot of the mountain, where we designed sleeping. Our journey lay partly through the
woods, where the guides halted for a draught of the
fermented juice of the palm, (toddy,) which their
previous visits had prepared, and others were now
tapped in readiness for our return.    As the method
vol. i. m 162
is different from any I have before observed, I shall
describe it.
The tree being felled, (prickly tree palm,) and the
top branches lopped off at their junction, where the
cabbage should be, an oblong cistern is cut out,
four inches wide, nine long, and six deep. The
broad bases of the leaves are laid over this; the
cavity fills, fermentation ensues, and in twenty-four
hours a pleasant sharp beverage resembling cider
results. If it be allowed to remain longer, it becomes bitter, contains' more alcohol, and is less
pleasant, and more intoxicating. It is sucked
through a tube.
After scrambling through much loose lava rock,
which I was surprised to see the animals attempt,
as it was entirely hidden by long grass, we
reached our sleeping station at seven o'clock, where,
having picked out the softest stone bed, and unrigged
and tethered our animals, we made the most of our
time, by devoting ourselves to the sleeping god.
At dawn on the 10th, we remounted our steeds,
and passed yet more difficult ground, until half past
six, when we reached the lower line of 1 the Pine
range ;" that tree observing a distinct height throughout all these mountainous ranges. It became,
therefore, a matter of interest to ascertain this
elevation, which by barometric data is three thousand
feet above the sea-level. Temperature at this time
(before sunrise) 6Q°.
Having tethered our beasts, we commenced the 1838.]
ascent à pied. The first efforts, owing to the long
grass, were fatiguing, and the mate was hors de
combat before we had reached half way. As we
ascended, the grass failed, breeze freshened, and
spirits rose, and at nine we had turned the crater
np. If    |*&M      f
Our guides were certainly not at home at this
work, and at this moment, when it was time to be
observing, my hopes were nearly annihilated by the
peak presenting itself on the opposite side of the
crater, and apparently inaccessible without great
At first we descended to the edge of the inner
cone, from whence I thought I discovered a narrow
pass ; and it was only by dint of perseverance and
determination that we could persuade the guides to
re-shoulder the instruments and remount. Difficulties vanished on gaining the lip, and we found a
very comfortable and well-beaten track on an easy
ascent, which the stray, or now wild bullocks, had
prepared for us to the summit.
I was fortunate enough to obtain all my observations, by which this position and its height were
secured. It is five thousand five hundred and
sixty-two feet above the mean tide-level, and two
thousand five hundred and sixty-two feet above the
pine range. Range of temperature during our
stay (from half past ten until half past one) 77°*5 to
I was unfortunate  in the  day.    It blew fresh,
m 2 164
(although calm at the base,) was hazy, and excepting high peaks and conspicuous headlands, I lost the
most interesting minutiae.
The volcano now consists of three craters. The
outer is about five hundred yards in diameter, having
the peak or highest lip on the western edge. Within,
it is precipitous, from the peak to about one h un-
dred and fifty feet. From the inner base at that
depth, the second inner volcano rose to about eighty
feet, having within it another small cone, which is
inactive. Around the western base of the first or
inner, the cliffs rise precipitous, with pines growing
luxuriantly from the vertical face of the precipice.
Hot vapours arise in many points, and doubtless to
this cause they are indebted for their peculiar
healthy and luxuriant condition.
No minerals worthy of carriage were observed.
We had been informed that sulphur was abundant,
but those who descended to look for it saw none.
The temperature of the loose soil in the immediate
vicinity of the upper hot spring, which exceeded the
limits of my thermometers, I should estimate to be
near the boiling point, probably 196°. It speedily
warmed me to an unpleasant degree through thick
The view of the immediate neighbourhood was
very beautiful, and fully repaid our exertions. The
map of the country was at our feet; even the main
features of the lake of Managua were available.
Myriads of field bugs and other insects pestered us, 1838.]
and the breeze very speedily dissolved the enchantment, by the introduction of a smoky haze.
At half past one we commenced our descent, and
at three remounted oui- steeds. About half past six
we reached the farm at Moyotepita, after having
felt the value of the precaution of our guides in
preparing the toddy, for on our arrival at the spot
our water had been long expended, and some were
almost fainting with thirst. Mem.—People who
ascend high mountains with weak heads and weaker
stomachs, should reserve spirits for cases of necessity only—as medicine.
Having rested at Moyotepita until eight in the
evening, we rode on to Chinandega, eight leagues,
which we reached at one a. m., and at the house of
our kind friend Vallejo, enjoyed a most refreshing
sleep. At daylight, after a cup of coffee, we moved
on to San Antonio, and joined our good friend
Bridge and family at breakfast.
I had made arrangements with Mr. Foster, our
vice-consul, for the conveyance of a light boat to
sound part of the lake of Managua, and examine
the island of Momotombita within it, where report
stated there were many objects worthy of attention,
particularly the idols of the aborigines. Two of
our lads were forwarded in her. Mr. Foster himself had volunteered to accompany me, but business
detaining him, he despatched his factotum (a young
man who knew the country, people, and language
well,) as " my  cicerone.     With  this  addition,  and 166
our party as before, we set off at four on the morning of the 12th.
The roads in this state (Leon) are all excellent,
very level, and excepting where the rains have cut
their courses, might be travelled in an English
carriage.    Bridges of course would obviate all diffi-
O ©
culty. At this season they were dusty, but the
custom of travelling late in the evening, or early in
the morning, prevented our feeling the additional
inconvenience of the sun, although in many parts
the roads are well shaded by trees. Passing through
the small towns of Chichigalpa and Posoltega, we
reached Leon at nine ; where, after throwing off our
superabundant dust, we did ample justice to a good
Some difficulty arose with the authorities here, in
consequence of the vice-consul having omitted to
apprise all the authorities of my intentions ; but on
my calling on the chief, matters were soon satisfactorily arranged, with offers of assistance if required.
Observations were obtained in the garden of the
college for fixing the position of the city, and others
taken from the summit of the cathedral for furthering our operations.
Leon is situated in latitude 12° 25' 30" N., loned-
tude 86° 57' 45" W. ; and the cathedral flat is two
hundred and forty feet above mean-tide level ; the
base may be considered one hundred feet less.
Judging from the cathedral and churches now
standing, as well as from the carving on doors and 1838.]
windows, sculpture, &c, of the ruins of the city,
(destroyed in a late revolutionary struggle,) Leon
must have been a city of great opulence, consideration, and grandeur. So long as the old Spaniards
remained, affairs prospered, for capital was not
wanting; but they are now rare as one of their
palaces, for such their ruins would bespeak them.
Society has entirely changed, and become nearly
native. The population is stated at thirty thousand,
including the suburb Sultiaga, which almost entirely
consists of huts inhabited by native population.
Cholera has made great ravages in the states of
central America during the last year, and particularly in that of San Salvador. At Leon, three thousand fell victims to this disease alone.
It is a curious fact, and one which I suspected
would result from my inquiries, that wherever I have
been able to obtain positive information, it appears
that the mortality has invariably been greatest on
the S.W, angle, (or lee quarter.) This may in some
measure be accounted for, by the preference which
the better classes would take advantage of, by selecting more airy situations on the weather-side, where
also the population would be less crowded. Their
streets are wide, and mathematically regular ; and
in the meridian and at right angles, presenting the
appearance, from the summits of the mountain, of
complete chequer boards. The lower orders suffered most. My authority has generally been a
padre  or  an  official,  aided  by my cicerone, who
r- Tiff!
appeared to be the friend of the state. Wherever
he went, the pet term of Carlito, in an affectionate
tone, was sure to welcome him. He had been
employed trading throughout this state, and resident
at times in each village in our route.
The produce of Leon and its vicinity consists of
sugar, indigo, maize, tallow, and hides. The % Chief
of Estate " resides there. Formerly it had a bishop,
but a vicar at present officiates. The cathedral is
large and very firmly constructed. During the revolution, guns were, or were about to be, mounted on
its roof, which, from its strong arches, would easily
support them. The college is still maintained by
the authorities, but I was unable to collect details
respecting the establishment, &c. The pupils are
educated for the church, law, physic, and state.
I had intended measuring our meridian distance
from Cardon by rockets ; but either they did not
ascend well, or did not burst properly, therefore no
definitive time could be noted. Having sent our
party on before us at four, we waited until nine in the
evening, when by the light of the moon we moved
forward, and reached them at our rendezvous at
Pueblo Nuevo about one, the distance being eight
leagues, and the road good.
This village contains about thirty huts. The chief
employment of the inhabitants appeared to be the
construction of earthen water-jars,—for which purpose
the steatitic nature of the soil appeared to be peculiarly adapted.
nsnmm 1838.]
At five the following morning, having reclined on
a bedstead of stretched hide, with half a gale blowing on my feet, and cold enough for 50° N., we
recommenced our journey to the lake of Managua.
I am informed it always blows fresh, and at times
very hard, in this neighbourhood. Indeed the strong
gales termed | Papagayos," from blowing out of the
gulf of that name, commence about the line of
Leon, and are first experienced off Cape Desolada,
(about six miles to the eastward of Cardon,) and
suddenly give way to calms after passing to the
westward. This is doubtless the Atlantic " trade
wind," increased by induction through the pass
formed by the lake of Nicaragua, and our neighbouring mountains. It decreases about sunset, and
attains its ordinary force about nine or ten in the
After a pleasant and easy ride we reached the
margin of the lake (at Piedra Gorda) about ten
o'clock, (the distance four leagues,) where we found
our boat and crew awaiting us. We remained on
the beach to determine the latitude at noon, and
obtain other data, as well as to watch for a more
favourable moment for launching our boat.
About one, the sea having decreased considerably,"
we launched our bark, and freighted her, but it
was soon evident that she could not carry us, nor
could the crew make any progress ; and, as it was
impossible she could reach any place of safety
before dark, I instantly gave up this expedition ;
 —	 170
and loading the horses of my cicerone and self with
the instruments, despatched the remainder of our
party back, foreseeing that they would prove too
great a clog on my operations, and that accommodation for more than two was beyond the scale of the
huts we might touch at.
We, therefore, pushed on for such villages as we
might find on the borders of the lake, and thus
define its outline as the nearest approach to the
scene of our intended operations in the neighbouring gulf of Papagayo, intending to make the junction or fall of this lake into that of Nicaragua at
Tepitapa the extreme limit. At five we reached
Nagarote, (a distance of five Spanish leagues in two
hours,) and finding my strength fail me, we remained for the night.
Our host and hostess showed us more decided
attention than we had before experienced, and
begged, in the honest effusion of their hearts, that I
would always make that house my rendezvous when
I travelled that road ; being then ignorant that my
road lay on the " deep blue sea." Of course all this
kindness I attributed to the presence of Carlito,
who did nothing bnt play monkey tricks with the
little ones from the time of our arrival.
By five the ensuing morning we were en route
for Matiares, (eight leagues,) which we reached at
eight; temperature 78°, noon 90°. Our journey
over this tract presented some slight hills. After
breakfast we proceeded to the beach, and obtained
—-1 1838.]
satisfactory data, which places it in latitude 12° 14'
15" N., longitude 86° 43' W.
Matiares is a very small village ; population
usually three hundred, but decreased one hundred by
cholera. It is, however, generally healthy, deaths
not averaging more than three or four in the year.
No deformities were noticed. Its productions are
cotton, maize, and plantains.
I had been informed that a causeway formerly
existed from the neighbouring beach to the island of
Momotombita, (the diminutive of its neighbour
Momotombo, nearly the same height as the Viejo,)
and fortunately the place I had selected to observe
at, showed the remains. Its direction is towards
that island, and at the dry season a few years ago,
when the waters were unusually low, it was dry for
three hundred and sixty yards. As the only temples, (or caves,) idols, &c, alluded to, are on Momotombita, it is more than probable that this causeway was for the priests, if it really extended so far ;
but, on the other hand, it is reported that fifteen
fathoms surround the island.
At two we moved forward for Managua, (six
leagues,) which we reached at five, the road being
remarkably good and well shaded. Our animals
were in better condition than their riders. About
one mile before entering the town, we observed, for
the first time, the Nicaragua wood, (Csesalpinia
echinata,) a great article of trade in this and the
adjoining state. 172
We were fortunate in obtaining very decent
accommodations. The town of Managua, from
which the lake takes its name, is extensive, although
not containing many built houses. The population,
almost entirely native, consists of twelve thousand
souls. The town is situated on a gentle slope towards the lake, which washes close to its limits.
A large church stands nearly alone at its eastern
© *
end, forming one side of what probably might have
been intended for a square, but there is nothing
attractive about it. At the corners of the streets
several images, rudely carved in stone, were pointed
out as the work of the aborigines. They are much
worn, defaced by time, and merely serve as cornerstones to the side paths.
Managua appears to have suffered severely in the
late cholera visitation, losing by it alone six hundred
out of the population of twelve thousand. Of this
number it is rather remarkable that females between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, and principally newly-married, were the predominant victims.
Generally this spot is considered as peculiarly
healthy, the average deaths seldom exceeding one
per cent.
I was rather amused at their custom of publishing the bans or notices of marriage. The person
who reads the notice is accompanied by two soldiers
under arms, moving by beat of drum to the crossings
of the streets, where it is duly proclaimed, very
much in the  style  of our criers.    The natives of 1838.]
this place, either from less exposure, more frequent
bathing, or difference of origin, appear to be better
limbed, finer featured, and of a clearer complexion
than those of the places we have passed through.
They are athletic, without increase of bone at the
joints, and of more prepossessing manners.
At half-past three on the morning of the 15th,
we set out for Tepitapa, the point where the Managua descends by its first fall into the waters of the
Nicaragua, but distant from that lake fourteen miles.
At starting the thermometer stood at 75°, but on passing through a deeply-shaded wood, just as the sun was
rising, it had fallen to 61. The distance to Tepitapa is estimated at eighteen leagues ; but this cannot be correct. I should say that it does not exceed
ten, as we reached the house of the padre at half-
past seven. . After some delay we succeeded in
getting breakfast. Inns or houses of entertainment
do not exist ; the traveller must, therefore, put up
where or how he can, and patiently await what
follows.    There are no waiters, or bells to ring.
I notice this because I had anticipated a better
reception from the fraternity, who not only generally take good care of themselves, but from being
men of some little education, are more apt to extend
the courtesies of life.
After breakfast I procured a canoe, and by the
aid of two inefficient boatmen, fearing momentarily to
be immersed with my instruments, succeeded in
reaching a point within the lake, from whence I had THERMAL  SPRING.
a fair view of the surrounding objects. After noon
I returned and visited the first fall, which is about
a quarter of a mile from the gorge of the lake.
Here a mass of rock passes across, over which the
water falls by an inclined plane eight feet. Below
it the stream is spanned by a bridge about fifty feet
in length.
On the Tepitapa side a sulphur spring issues from
the earth, at near the boiling temperature, and flows
into the main stream. My thermometer was not
graduated above 120°, therefore I cannot state more
than that eggs were boiled in it and my sensation
on putting my finger to it, satisfied me it was near
two hundred and twelve. Crystallization was abundant on the small stones between which it flowed,
and some specimens I examined were a mixture of
sulphur and calcareous matter. The taste was not
unpleasant. It is deemed a sovereign remedy if
taken by the advice of the padre, and much used both
internally and externally. As he seemed to like
neither me nor my instruments, he possibly mistook
me for a poacher on his domain.
The population of Tepitapa, which is but a small
village, (distant twelve leagues from Grenada,) comprises five hundred souls, of which the cholera took
off thirty ; but the average deaths range at ten per
The produce may be included under the heads
of cattle, corn, and indigo. Nicaragua wood (termed
Brazil) is cut on the north side of the stream and 1838.]
sells at one shilling per quintal. The bullocks are
the finest I have seen in central America, and were
offered at five dollars each ; but the cost of driving
them to Realejo would make the whole amount to
seven dollars each. Fish are abundant in the lake,
principally perch. The Savola, or lake salmon of
the tropics, is found, but not taken in any quantity.
Alligators are also numerous. During the period of
our stay, the temperature ranged from 84° to 85°, 5'
water 83°.    Evap. 81°.
At a quarter to four we quitted Tepitapa ; and
our horses, apparently more anxious than even ourselves to quit this inhospitable spot, carried us to
our old quarters at Managua in three hours.
After a fresh set of observations on the beach,
we moved on at three the following morning for
Matiares, where we slept ; and by noon the following day reached Nagarote. I was rather surprised to find the doors and windows of our friend's
house closed, and as deaths in this country are
frequently sudden, began to augur ill. My cicerone,
however, led the way through the gate, and we soon
found that a calentura was the extent of the evil.
However, as the gentleman was the sufferer, I
very soon brought him to believe that he was not
quite so ill, and eventually succeeded in removing
the talismanic kerchief bandaged about his head.
Before we took our departure, he was lively as on
my former visit.    I experienced the same kind at- 176
tention, and on our parting at three for Pueblo
Nuevo, this good couple evinced very strongly the
warmth of their feelings. At sunset, we reached
Pueblo Nuevo; and at dawn rode on for Leon,
where we arrived at eight, very much fatigued.
It being Sunday, and finding myself too much
exhausted for travel, I took rest, and starting at
four the morning following, reached San Antonio
by eight, in time for breakfast. Here, also, I found
our worthy host, Mr. Bridge, in bed, suffering under
a smart attack of calentura,—one not to be talked
away. These attacks appear to occur very frequently, occupying about one third of the existence
of the residents ; indeed, the term calentura is so
indiscriminately applied to all affections of the head,
that one is not so much moved by hearing of its
presence, and I am satisfied in most cases that it
might be overcome by resolution. I never knew
it occur to any one but a resident.
After breakfast we moved on to Chinandega. The
population of this town is estimated at eight thousand, and deaths by cholera five hundred ; areneral
average one and a half per cent.
All the towns are laid out similarly, in the
right-angled plan, with streets north, south, east,
and west. Probably this system originated by building the streets to correspond with the churches.
In Chinandega, the centre of the town is pretty
closely built, but on the outskirts the houses are 1838.]
mostly furnished with gardens, which keep theni
about forty or fifty yards asunder. The fences are
often of bamboo, but more frequently of the cylindrical cactus, which runs up to twenty feet.
The houses are generally built of the adobe, of
one story, with an open court in the centre. The
church is large, and a respectable building.
The produce is chiefly maize, sugar-cane, cotton,
fruit, poultry, and hides, collected from the neighbourhood. Coffee has been grown and produces well,
.but none has yet been exported. An American gentleman, Mr. Higgins, has commenced the erection of
a mill for dressing cotton, but I am perfectly satisfied that its principle of action will fail. One
failure will put the natives out of conceit of
machinery, and thus, instead of introducing any
useful improvement, he Will considerably injure the
interests of others. Even if he succeeds, I can
clearly foresee that before he realizes sufficient to
«over his outlay, he will become disgusted with the
country and—government, I was about to say,—but
may add under present prospects,—government there
is none—property insecure.
After dining at Chinandega, we remounted, and
reached Realejo at three, and at half-past six I
was once more safely lodged in my own cabin.
One grievous annoyance attending travelling in this
country is the garrapata, an insect of the tick species, which is so abundant that if you brush a bush
it is sure to shed a host upon you.    They rapidly
insinuate themselves under the skin, and are a per^
feet torment. Even for days after they have been
entirely removed, sympathetic twitches are experienced, which are perhaps as great an evil as the
reality—in some instances greater. It causes one's
skin to contract even to write about them.
During this absence of fourteen days we had
travelled over a distance of five hundred miles, and
I certainly felt my constitution considerably refreshed.
Realejo is failing more from want of capital, and
the insecurity of the present government, than from
any want or field for speculation.
The timber which might be exported from
henee, in addition to those articles enumerated at
the towns we visited, is of the best quality, not
indeed for the ornamental work of cabinets, but
for substantial house and ship services. The following list was prepared by a person well conversant with carpentry, and has been added to by our
botanical collector.
Cedar of two kinds, one adapted for furniture, and
the other for canoes. They are known to arrive
at a diameter of nine feet, and are said to reach
twelve. Mahogany, very compact, light and dark-
coloured. Roble ; in grain resembling oak and mahogany, some very handsome, of which I have the
best specimen,    Fir, tough, (Pinus serrotina.)
Guiliquisto ;—very hard, resists worms ; used for
underground work in houses, &c. Guascino ;—used for timbers of boats.
Palanca;—tough, and powerful; used for levers, as
its name implies.
Madera negra ;—strong and durable under water.
Palo Brasil ;—Nicaragua wood.
Almendro;—strong, used for foundations and
mill work, rollers, &c. (squares three feet.)
Guanacaste ;—used for bongos, (not exportable.)
Rou rou ; — resembles rose-wood, (furniture
La ourele ; — tough and serviceable ; used for
Narascalo ;—very hard, probably ironwood.
Caimito ; — fine, box-coloured, straight-grained
Melon ; — yellow, used for furniture, (resembles
Guayam de Monte ;—durable, used for ship build
Granadillo ;—resembles rose-wood, but harder.
On the 20th, as the Starling was yet absent, I
determined upon the examination of the gulf of Papagayo, and having completed our second tender, (the
Victoria,) we quitted our anchorage, leaving my assistant, Mr. George, in charge of the observatory, as well
as with orders and provisions for the Starling.
My principal object at this moment was to seek
for and examine the port of San Juan, which spot
I had been informed that " a Mr. Bailey (employed
by the government of Central America) had selected
as the point where the projected canal or railroad
from the Nicaragua should communicate with the
After passing Cape Desolada, we began to experience the gusts from the lake of Managua, no
high land intervening in its course ; and shortly the
gale increased sufficiently to sprit a few of our sails,
and reduce us to treble reefed topsails, courses, and
trysails ; even this small canvass pressing her much.
One whole day we remained at anchor, the squalls
being too powerful to work in, and the necessary
expenditure for so doing not being warranted by
any equivalent. On the 3rd, by dint of perseverance, we reached the head of the gulf or bay of
Salinas, (Bolanos of Bauza,) but had not observed
anything like a river or port. Indeed, this term
cannot be relied on throughout this coast. Wherever a boat embarks cargo, the term port is applied.
Having determined the position of Salinas Island
in the centre of the bay, I left an officer (Mr. Speck)
in the Victoria, to make a survey of the bay of
Salinas, and proceeded with the ship to search for port
Culebra, leaving orders for Mr. Speck to rejoin me at
that rendezvous.
On rounding the point in view corresponding to
Point Catalina of Bauza, we discovered a cluster of
eight islands. These I determined to examine, as
they did not appear on the chart. They almost
formed two distinct harbours, the smaller islands
forming a crescent by the south, one large island 1838.]
protecting the east, and another of similar size forming the line of separation. Passing into the bay
we anchored in the inner or eastern harbour, and
having fixed the positions, surveyed it, and completed water at a very convenient position, where we
anchored in thirty-two fathoms, with a hawser fast to
the shore.
We quitted for Salinas, after having satisfied ourselves that Culebra was not near us. The name
of this remarkable cape, which we had mistaken
for Catalina, is cape St. Helena, and the cluster
of islands is termed Murciellagos, or Bat Islands.
The springs are numerous, and there are tolerable
rivulets ; but only that which we watered at (between
the centre point and the main) is safe to approach, by
reason of the constant surf. We found the gulf squalls,
even in this sheltered position, come down the
gullies with great force, and impede our work as
well as endanger our boats. In forty-eight hours,
however, it was finished. The geological structure
of the cape and islands is a schistose serpentine,
containing balls of noble serpentine.
As we could not fetch Salinas, I beat up to a position where we observed a flag displayed, rockets
fired, and a number of men and women in holiday
garb collected; and, it being Sunday, we anchored
for the /day. The surf was too heavy to attempt
landing, therefore we could neither fix our position
satisfactorily, nor obtain information about San
Juan, although I strongly suspected this to be the
spot. 182
On Monday we ran up to Salinas Bay, and then
commenced the coast survey to Realejo, under very
easy sail, anchoring for observations near noon as
well as at night.
Every nook was narrowly examined, but without
success ; therefore I am satisfied that Sunday's posk
tion, before noticed, was the port in question.
On March 14th we returned to the island of Cardon,
and to my mortification found that the Starling had
arrived and sailed again in quest of us. As we had
not found Culebra, I feared she might miss us and
cause further delay.
Here, therefore, I determined to await her arrival,
as well as complete some necessary observations at
the term day.
I now found that my land trip had been most
important ; the mountains, whose peaks I had fixed,
securing our positions beautifully. In one point
which I have marked upon the chart, no obstruction
appeared to intervene from the sea to the Lake of
Managua, and the peak of the island of Momotom-
bita was frequently used as one of our objects for
fixing the positions.
On the 20th of March the Starling returned,
bringing but few letters ; and to cure general disappointment, I determined on making another attempt
for Culebra, in which we all felt interested. • I felt
satisfied that Bauza had not erred more than in
position, and from the summit of one of the Miir-
ciellagos I had noticed features which I suspected
were those of Culebra.    Having embarked the ob- 1838.]
servatory, stock, &c, and supplies of very excellent
sugar and rum, which were obtained at a very reasonable rate from the estate of Mr. Bridge, we quitted
Realejo and our good friends there, steering for
Cape St. Helena, and, on rounding it, direct for the
spot where I suspected Culebra to be situated.
At daylight on Sunday, the 25th of March, we
were close off the port, but not being able to detect
the Viradores, we wore, and intended running further south ; as Kellet had informed me that in his
search for me he had been unable to find it.
While in the act of wearing, a gleam of sunshine
showed an island inshore, which induced me to
make another attempt, and on reaching to windward we opended the heads and discovered the
Viradores, but even then could only ascertain from
the mast head that any recess of bay lay within. At
noon we entered the heads, and at three anchored
in eight fathoms in this splendid port, justly deserving that appellation.
On landing, I met with some natives, who confirmed us in the name of the port. On Monday we
commenced our survey, to meet that of the outer
bay, entrusted to Kellett, which we completed in
forty-eight hours. I now found that my conjecture
respecting the position of the Viradores was correct.
The sketch given in Bauza's chart can only be given
from an eye-sketch or memory.
The port is certainly magnificent, and from information derived from the natives, I learned that BRASIL  WOOD,   &C.
it is connected with Salinas, and thence on to Nicaragua, Granada, &c. If any railroad is contemplated in this quarter, it ought to enter at the Bay
of Salinas, which would render these two ports important. When this portion of the country becomes settled, civilized, and more populous, I little
doubt but Culebra will be better known, and probably the chief port of the state of Nicaragua.
Water fit for consumption was not found at the
beach, but may be obtained at a short distance up
the creek, which a boat may enter at high water.
If wells were dug, doubtless it would be found at
the N. W. side, as the surrounding country is mountainous. Another symptom in favour of this is the
thickly-wooded sides and summits, as well as bright
green spots of vegetation throughout the bay.
Brasil wood is very abundant ; mahogany and
cedar were observed near the beach, but as they
have been employed cutting the Brasil, probably all
the mahogany and cedar, easily attainable, has been
The geological features of this port differ much
from any that we have met with on the coast. On
the north side of the bay, resting on a hardened
stratum of clayslate, a sandstone occurred containing
organic remains ; of these, masses had fallen to the
base of the cliffs, (about eighty feet above the level,)
and were washed by the sea. In one I found large
nodules of claystone dendrites. In the western parts
of the bay, basalt occurred, with hornblende rock ; 1838.]
and on the eastern side I met with shells enclosed
in a solid rock formed by a concretion of magnetic
iron-sand.    Timber of great variety abounded.
In the bay where the Starling was at anchor there
was a large village, where the natives were anxious
to dispose of their productions, consisting of fruit,
stock, cattle, &c.
On the 27th of March, quitting Culebra, we rounded
Point Catalina, which from the disjointed portions,
or islands, might have caused that of Murciellasros to
be mistaken for it. We passed close to Cape Velas,
so called from the rock being sometimes mistaken
for a sail, and looked into Catalina bay. Here we
lost the Papagayos. Therefore the limits may be
considered to be included in a line drawn from Cape
Desolado to Point Velas, and it is rather a curious
phenomenon that the strength of this breeze seldom
ranges so far as this chord, but seems to prefer a
curve at a distance of fifteen to twenty miles from
the land.
We now regretted the absence of these breezes,
and made but slow progress to the southward, the
currents pressing us to the eastward, and on the 30th
even to the northward of the preceding day. Vancouver notices this current also.
Our destination was now Cocos Island and Callao.
Bottles were thrown overboard daily to determine
the course of these currents. One was picked up
and forwarded to the consul at Panama, which
exhibited a course from latitude 6° 16', longitude 186
86° 18', west to Vedaci ; seven leagues and a quarter
to the south of Mensabe, about ninety miles from
Panama, having traversed a distance of five hundred
miles in eighty-eight days, on an E.b.N. course at the
rate of 5*6 miles per diem.
On the 3rd of April we made the island of Cocos,
and on the following morning observed two whale
ships at anchor. The currents now drove us westerly,
and as I saw little chance of getting the ship in until
the afternoon, I started with my gig and tent, and
secured my observations for time. In the afternoon
the tide ran to the eastward, and the ship ran in
under a light breeze, anchoring within the whale
ships in nine fathoms, the rocks very clearly to be
distinguished, with sand patches between. Our
anchor was exactly on the line of foul bottom.
On landing, I was surprised to find a hut and
several seamen, one Portuguese, one English, and
five blacks, Americans, landed by their own demand
from one of the American whalers. At first I suspected foul play, but on the masters of the vessels
landing and stating the facts to me in presence of the
men, they acknowledged " that they preferred living
on the island to sailing in his vessel." Their contract
■ was only " from the Sandwich Islands until they
reached a port." They were evidently bad characters.
Their only subsistence was fish, pigs, boobies, noddies,
and other marine birds frequenting the island.
Water is very abundant, and was easily conveyed
by hoses into the boats.    A survey of the bay and 1838.]
part of the north side of the island was effected, and
its position determined. The soundings off the
island rather astonished our friends the Americans,
who seldom use any line above thirty fathoms ; and
the Starling having taking up two positions at anchor
in fifty-six fathoms, at one mile and a half off shore,
greatly facilitated our measurements. The triangles
were extended by the ship and one cutter, and the
dimensions on tangental limits determined. Wind
and rain put an end to our labours.
In Chatham Bay we noticed the rock mentioned
by Vancouver, and left on another the Sulphur's
name; latitude 5° 33', N., longitude 86° 58' 22", W.,
dip. 23° 55', and variation 8° 23' 49" E., as determined
by us.
As the determination of the position of this island,
as well as its dimensions, were included in my special
instructions, (Vancouver stating it to be four miles,
and Colnett four leagues,) I was enabled to put the
matter beyond doubt. I suspect both were nearly
right, and that if we read Vancouver four miles in
diameter, and Colnett four leagues in circumference,
the difference will be nothing.
The record we have left will, I trust, assist seamen
in rating their chronometers, and taking their departures. But the whalers having cut all the
wood fit for fuel, they can only reckon upon
Our botanical collector observes : " The vegetable
productions of this island are more remarkable for li'tu-
r          / ' |
their luxuriance, than either their richness in variety
or value in cultivation ; a handsome flora, with but
few peculiarities, consisting chiefly of those soft-
wooded plants generally inhabiting the moist regions
of the tropics. The greater part of its productions
are comprised in the natural orders of the Malvaceae,
Palmse, and the low tribes of Foliaceee or Crypto-
gamia. Bombax heptaphyllum is the largest tree
Which came under my notice : the wood of all the
species is right and soft as in Malvaceae.
"Hibiscus gossypinus and H.palmatus are abundant.
Melastoma, a remarkably handsome genera purely
tropical, is here represented by M. grosa and parvi-
flora. Of palms a few only are found here ; those
which came under my notice belonged to the genus
of Diplothemium, but were not in flower. A variety
of cryptogamous plants abound, but few were in
flower during our visit. The most deserving of notice
is Diplagium auriculatum, a specimen of which I
measured, and found the stem to be thirty-four
inches in circumference ; unusually large for that
species of fern."
We felled one of the Bombax heptaphyllum,
eighteen inches diameter and forty feet in length,
intending to try it for boat plank. Its bark dyed
our decks a deep red brown. Unfortunately it was
thrown away before any experiments were tried on
it as a dye. The wood split freely in the direction
of its length, and was useless.
Fish are abundant in Chatham Bay, but were not 1838.]
easily taken at the ship. The whalers .sent their
boats daily to fish in the tide stream between the
small island and the main, and were very successful.
Shell fish were scarce, and few worth preserving.
Boobies, (Pelecanus sula) and black noddies (Sterna
stolida) were very numerous, and easily taken. The
small white tern were plentiful, but kept to the trees,
as well as the gannet and frigate pelican. A hawk
and sparrow were the only land birds taken.
The cocoa-nut has disappeared entirely from the
eastern bay, but was noticed on spots (inaccessible
by reason of the surf) to the westward.
The western bay is subject to sudden rollers,
particularly at low water, at which time the flat
extends to a great distance. It is also more subject
to calms, and consequently not so easy of ingress
and egress ; and being exposed to westerly winds,
watering at all times becomes difficult, and at low
water is quite impracticable.
Chatham, or Eastern Bay, possesses good anchorage;
a vessel may anchor within a quarter of a mile from
the beach in six fathoms, (if requisite,) but the best
anchorage is in twelve fathoms. There a constant
draught will be experienced between the opening
of the islets, and a vessel can generally enjoy the
refreshing sea breezes, and fetch out at once, clear of
the dangers, which are but few.
It was not without surprise that I read Vancouver's
opinion of this island, vol. iii. p. 369. The view of
the two bays, with the magnificent S.W. cliffs and Il !'
waterfalls, like silver threads, leaping from the richest
and varied tints of green that can be imagined, would
put a painter in ecstasy. Season, however, may make
a material difference. The same objects we view
and are delighted with in sunshine, are dreary and
uninteresting in gloomy weather, (Mount Edgecombe to wit.) There certainly is an entire absence
of low country and undulation of hill, &c. ; but
this, although a defect, does not take from other
The - thicket is not now impenetrable, as the self-
exiled whalers traversed easily from bay to bay.
Goats are said to abound, but keep to the heights.
Pigs are plentiful, and one large hog was sufficiently
inquisitive to look into the tent at a distance of
twenty yards. By reason of our magnetic operations, we were non-belligerents, or he would have
paid for his temerity.
The stream in West Bay produces fresh-water
fish, but we could not obtain any. A curious bullhead was taken, as well as fresh-water Crustacea,
at our watering-place. Some of our men, who had
landed to wash and amuse themselves, found their
way up the hill east of the watercourse, and saw
into the interior, which they described as a lake
or large sheet of water. This would account for
fresh-water fish in West Bay. The quantity of
water we had noticed in streams, waterfalls, &c,
and which were not much augmented by heavy
rains, or by the stream in our immediate vicinity, 1838.]
must be supplied from this lake. No rains could
preserve the volume and equality for twenty-four
The soil about the beach was found to be a rich
earth, but on the first flat above the sand, of a black
rich mould, overrun by a convolvulus, which also
ascended the trees near the water, and crowned
them, producing a grove within, with a very pretty
I planted seeds of the mahogany, horse-chesnut,
calabash tree, pumpkin, water-melon, Swedish and
common turnip, large Russian radish, and pine tops.
I also left a further supply with the people, with
a request that they would appropriate any hogs
which might attempt their destruction. I particularly recommended to their attention the turnip and
Russian radish, as a valuable remedy, or preventive,
for scurvy.
Before my departure I used every persuasion with
the masters of the Americans to take these unfortunate people away, as well as pointing out to the
people themselves the misery they must endure, and
the foul suspicions which the next vessel would
entertain of their conduct ; but only one embarked.
On the evening of the 6th of April, we drifted to
the southward, and although signals were made by
both vessels flashing during the night, and latterly
by rockets and guns, the Starling was not to be seen
at daylight, thus affording full proof of variety of
current.    We had cleared  the south end of  the 192    STARLING  DESPATCHED  TO   GUAYAQUIL. [1838.
island whilst the Starling was on the north. She
was set westerly, and Sulphur easterly About nine
she was observed dead on our lee-beam, when we
bore up, and rejoined her.
Wind and currents continued to baffle us much
in our attempt to reach one of the Gallapagos islands,
where our meridian distance might be important.
On the 10th I despatched the Starling to Guayaquil, in order to bring away an officer, and some
of our most needful supplies, left for us, at Puna,
by H. M. S. Cleopatra, with orders to rejoin at Callao.
We were now visited by heavy rains, during
which the wind generally favoured us, but it was
not until the 18th that we made Abingdon Island,
one of the Gallapagos, and passed within two miles
on its western side. We found the current setting
strong to the northward and westward.
On Saturday, the 21st of April, being in 0° 30', N.,
and about a degree west of the island of Albermarle,
a course of experiments was made on the currents
and temperatures, from 1000 fathoms, 600, 500, 400,
300, 200, and 100, to the surface ; being interesting
as to their proximity to land, and within the influence
of the Galapagos currents.
Captain Fitzroy has remarked on the differences
of temperature experienced on different sides of these
islands. Orders were issued in consequence to
watch narrowly, and hourly, for any change of temperature; and this was particularly attended to in
passing Abingdon Island.     No perceptible change    196
We found here H. M. S. Imogene, Captain Bruce,
and Harrier, Captain Carew, watching the motions
of the belligerents; the French Commodore Villeneuve, in the Andromède 60, and Alacrité brig,
and the American 80 gun ship, North Carolina,
bearing the broad pendant of Commodore Ballard ;
with the corvette Lexington.
The Chilian squadron, consisting of two large
corvettes, two brigs, and a sehooner, under Commodore Postego, were cruising off San Lorenzo, blockading the port ; but as the combined officers representing the three nations, protested against its validity,
vessels entered, with occasional detention. The force
of the Peruvians amounted to one corvette, one brig,
two schooners, and a few gun-boats, protected by the
castles of Callao.
On the 5th I had the pleasure of becoming personally acquainted with Mr. Wilson, her Majesty's
chargé d'affaires in Peru, to whom our department is
very much indebted for his very active and decisive 1838.]
exertions in forwarding our views with this government. Permission was immediately obtained to
erect our observatory on the lines, and although the
hostile squadron was constantly at hand, the further
privilege of embarking and disembarking at all hours
of the night was conceded, the parole and countersign
being delivered on board daily by an officer.
In reply to letters sent by Lord Palmerston to
our consuls in the Pacific, special letters from the
various governments, assuring me of every facility
and assistance in my pursuits, were officially forwarded to me by the respective consuls.
On the 7th of June her Majesty's ship President,
bearing the flag of Rear-admiral Ross, C.B., arrived,
and anchored at Callao.
Our refit commenced, but owing to scarcity of
artificers and other delays, which I could not control, the 7th of August arrived before we got to
sea. In the interim we examined the Boqueron
Passage, which had been reported to have narrowed,
and found that it was fully capable of affording a
safe entry for ships of the line.
Lima and its vicinity has been so frequently described, that I shall not dwell upon this subject.
I must, however, observe, that of the city itself
and its streets and houses, I was not much enamoured. Viewed from the summit of San Christoval,
one of my elevated stations behind the city, the whole
coup d'oeil was splendid in the extreme. Lima was
but like a chess-board on the table beneath us ; the 198
churches, cathedrals, &c, resembling the pieces.
The stream of the Rimac swept silently round its
walls, and soon lost itself in its meandering course
to the sea. Our interest was more peculiarly excited by the castles of Callao, with the colours of
Peru, bidding defiance to her enemy, whilst the
ships of war of France, America, and England, with
their brood of merchant vessels, lay deriding the
assumed blockade. On the west was the island of
Lorenzo, and to the southward the range of Morro
Solar and bay of Chorillas.
Between the 21st and 24th of June, the customary
term observations for magnetism and meteorology
were completed; but, although the transit instrument had been in the meridian for eight weeks, I
was unable to obtain the moon during the whole
interval. The temperature during our stay, (from
June to August,) ranged from 60° to 79°, the mean,
buried four feet beneath the earth's surface, being
It is asserted that it " never rains at Lima."
In discovery ships, or vessels on scientific research,
the law is " believe nothing you hear, and only half
you see" I know I heard very heavy pattering, and
I saw heavy streams issuing from tops of houses and
traversing the streets. The Peruvian dews, however, which afford the prevalent moisture of the
season of our visit, are rather heavier than our
" Scotch mist," and this probably is more the visitant
of Callao, where I did not witness heavy rain.
mm 1838.]
It is strange that at a port where vessels are
constantly undergoing repairs, heaving down, &c,
not a copper bolt or nail (except sheathing) can be
procured, and the marine stores in general are of a
very inferior quality. The supplies of beef, vegetables, &c, for the ships of war ought to be good,
but it is absolutely necessary to be a little scientific
upon this point, and to be satisfied that the contract
is duly fulfilled.
On the 17th of August, having refitted as far as
the resources of the place would admit, I quitted
Callao, in order to examine the coast between Cerro
Azul and Callao, a distance of sixty miles. We reached
and anchored in the bay of Canyete on the 12th,
and, after some doubt about the rollers, succeeded
in landing, and delivered my letter from the Peruvian
government to the chief authority, a military commandant, (corporal) who affected monstrous importance, and intimated "that the change of government
rendered any document authorising my pursuits
null ; but that courtesy amongst Caballeros of course
permitted my doing as I pleased." A conclusion to
which he plainly saw that I had already arrived before this last sentence, and his magnificence shortly
oozed out.
The state of the country, and the specimen I had
just witnessed, together with duties which tied me
to the beach, precluded my visiting the country.
Cerro Azul, or the port of Canyete, is an open
bay, in which landing at all times is very precarious. ASIA  ISLAND.
But the nature of the coast affords great facility for
constructing a breakwater, which would render this
bay more deserving of the name of port. In its
present state they contrive to embark sugar, which
is produced in tolerable quantity in the fertile
valleys of Canyete. These I overlooked from
my station on the summit of the Cerro Azul, or
about three hundred feet above the sea-level. The
town or village consists of one house, one church or
chapel, and a few huts, arranged on three sides
of a square, the fourth open to the sea, with other
straggling huts, amounting altogether to about
Cerro Azul is a high, bluff, insulated clump, projecting 'into the sea, and at a short distance might
be mistaken for an island.    Its predominant colour.
is yellowish red.
There are no objects of interest between this and
the Asia Islands, which are. distant a few miles
northerly, and are merely a patch of high rocks
projecting about two miles to seaward, from a very,
flat sandy beach, having a channel carrying four
fathoms, but well studded with. rocks, which by
daylight are easily avoided.    Asia Peak is situated
latitude 12° 47' S., longitude 76° 34' W., and its
island is about half a mile long by a quarter broad,
having no vegetation. There is good landing in a
very snug bay on its eastern side, where a seal
fishery has apparently been carried on at times.
Between Cerro Azul and Asia Island the coast 1838.]
is dangerous, and landing generally impracticable,
but the lead will always afford timely warning. A
little to the northward of Asia Island is a deep bay,
but neither here nor at any point, until reaching
Chilca, could we find landing; although we were
informed that this could be effected at the river
Mala. We did not see the river, nor anything like
one.    It was possibly screened by the surf.
Chilca Point forms a sharp elbow in the land,
making a very deep bay, in which a small town was
noticed. A remarkable peak, called Devil's Peak,
rises about three hundred feet perpendicularly, and
forms the eastern limits. Northerly from Chilca
Point three miles, lies the port of Chilca, formed by
a large island, which enables vessels of small
draught to lie in a complete dock, land-locked, the
outer harbour having good anchorage in ten to fourteen fathoms.*
A small village of huts, with a chapel, is situated on
the eastern beach of the inner harbour, and is apparently merely the resort of fishermen. The people,
probably mistaking us for Chilians, had deserted
their huts. The whole soil is so entirely impregnated with salt, that every stone has an incrustation of pure white crystalline salt on it, and in
many cases I noticed that it cemented the stones
together to a thickness of four inches, solid salt.
This, of course, is of great importance to the fishery,
* Her Majesty's ship President, from a tracing supplied, anchored at this port. 202
but a sad drawback to the seamen who may seek
for water in this neighbourhood. A road runs
through the valley of Chilca to the town in the bay
before mentioned, where bright green tints afforded
assurance of fertility.
Between Chilca and Chorillas no landing on the
coast could be effected, but I succeeded in gaining a
position on the Great Pachacamac, an island of about
four hundred feet elevation, from whence I commanded a view of twenty miles around. These islands
are situated immediately off Lurin, and about two
miles from the beach. The whole space between, up
to the point of Morro Solar, is unsafe.
Between the Pachacamac Islands and the main
our shipping have resorted for anchorage.
Lachira Bay, under the point of Morro Solar,
(having been named as the rendezvous for British
shipping, should the blockade of Callao be maintained,) became my next point of interest. Its
character is summed up in few words. The bay
is open, landing bad, (if practicable,) and anchorage
untenable and even dangerous ; in proof of which
we left there the fluke of our anchor.
On the 25th of August we returned to Callao,
having been absent eighteen days, out of which
twelve were employed in the survey.
Lima had fallen into the hands of the Chilians.
The revolution in Peru had for some time been
talked of, but so openly, that those unaccustomed
to such changes did not credit that any actual mea-
8ns 1838.]
sures were in contemplation. General Nieto, an old
officer under Gamarra, and then off the port in the
Chilian fleet about to besiege Callao, had, it appears,
held a communication with Gamarra, assuring him
that on the retirement of the Bolivians (which he
and Orbegoso would effect) and appearance of the
Chilian fleet, they would throw off the yoke of the
Confédération, and declare Peru free.
The Chilians being slow in their arrival, and fearing that their measures might be counteracted by
the party of Santa Cruz, Orbegoso and Nieto, eight
days previous to their appearance, (8th of August,)
threw off the mask, and entered Lima with four
thousand men, when the Confederaçion was declared dissolved.
General Miller, who held the castles of Callao,
was requested to remain ; as was also Moran. The
latter indignantly refused, carrying with him all the
Bolivians, which thus effected Nieto's first manœuvre.
General Miller, rather than uselessly shed Peruvian
blood, resigned the castles, and retired to the south,
to watch the interests of Santa Cruz.
On the 5th of August, the Chilian fleet, consisting
of ten vessels of war, and twenty-six transports,
arrived, and anchored out of gunshot. Garrido, 'the
Chilian minister, landed, and proceeded to Lima.
This was to gain time, having been apprised that
their landing would be warmly opposed at Callao.
The fleet, therefore, repaired to Ancon, landed the 204
troops, and pushed their picquets to the Boca
Negra before night.
On the arrival of the Chilians they declared,
I that they did not come to make war against Peru
but against Santa Cruz," and wished the Peruvian
army to join them, but upon conditions which the
latter could not accept.
On the 8th the Chilian army, five thousand strong,
landed and advanced three leagues on the road to
Lima. Garrido, having no credentials to present,
retired to the Chilian camp.
The Peruvians under Nieto and Orbegoso, amounting to two thousand men, encamped two leagues
from Lima, in the direction of Ancon.
From the 9th until the 16th, pretended endeavours
were made to conclude a treaty of peace, during
which interval the Peruvians received an accession
of force, consisting of two hundred men under the
command of General Vidal.
On the 18th the Chilians occupied the position of
La Legua, half way on the road between Lima and
Callao ; the Peruvians retiring into Lima.
Hostilities commenced on the 21st. The Chilians
advanced towards the N.W. side of Lima, where they
encountered the Peruvians ; the engagement commencing at four p. m.
Much hard fighting ensued, and the Chilians, it
is said, would have been repulsed had not General
Loyola and Colonel Saldeas, by Nieto's orders, it is 1838.]
reported, withdrawn the cavalry, and sacrificed the
At six the Chilians entered Lima by the bridge,
and at eight had possession of the town.
In this affair the Chilians lost three hundred
killed, and had three hundred wounded. The Peruvians three hundred killed, two hundred wounded,
and three hundred prisoners. During the night,
Nieto, who did not enter the action, and who is
accused of deserting his party, entered Callao castles,
followed by seven hundred infantry.
Orbegoso, who is reported to have behaved well,
and was the last man to quit the bridge, retired
three leagues to the south with the cavalry, and
Vidal remained to the north of Lima, collecting
Previous to this, the Chilians by sea commenced
firing on the castles of Callao, and cut out the sloop
of war, Socabaya. The brig Fundadora was scuttled,
to prevent her sharing the same fate. This was
merely a proof of their sincerity in the non-declaration of war !
On the entry of Gamarra with the Chilian troops,
they sung Viva el Peru, &c, declaring that they did
not make war against it !
On the 23rd, two thousand Chilians approached
the castles of Callao, which were defended by
Colonel Guarda, with six hundred artillerymen and
sailors, and seven hundred infantry, but Nieto was
without authority.    At  this moment we returned, 206
and the preceding statement was kindly afforded me
by a friend who kept notes of the proceedings. At
the moment of our departure we had observed the
Chilian fleet bear up for Ancon.
A cabildo was now held, and Orbegoso (absent)
named president. D. M. Salazar was then nominated, but declined the honour. A mock committee was then sent to Gamarra to request his
compliance, when, after much pressing, he accepted
the command, and was, I am informed, hooted in
the palace.
On the 27th, having obtained passports from both
parties, I passed through the belligerents to Lima,
where I found everything so quiet that I could
hardly imagine war had taken place. Some of the
ladies I visited had witnessed the action, from the
Miradores, on the summit of the houses, and had
seen the unfortunate infantry lanced like sheep, on
the desertion of their own cavalry. All were loud
in abhorrence of the treachery and cowardice of
their leaders, and I am satisfied that had the command been entrusted to the softer sex, a very different tale would have been told.
By some strange freak of nature, the ladies of
Lima seem to possess all the courage and energy
of mind which should animate their protectors, and
are dreadfully inveterate against any of their male
relatives who are found wanting in the proper
quantum of spirit,—using the strongest language
without hesitation. 1838.]
On the night previous to our departure, Nieto,
Lafuente, and others, embarked on board a schooner,
the officers in the castles declining, we understood,
to allow them to remain. It was strongly reported
that Nieto was embarked in the Sulphur, which our
immediate departure seemed to confirm.
Heartily sick of the occurrences at Callao, &c,
and not having had opportunity for enjoyment either
of the country or the customary gaieties of Lima, we
quitted Callao, (not, however, without regretting
many excellent and estimable friends,) and shaped
our course for the Hormigas, where I was fortunate
enough to land the morning following, and secure
its position beyond any chance of future dispute.
(Chronometers to the same second.)
From thence we started for Payta, where we
anchored on the night of the 2nd September, and
on the day following secured our position. From
Mr. Higginson, our worthy vice-consul here, we
obtained every assistance and information, and enjoyed ourselves much during our short visit.
Payta is an excellent position for supplies of
cattle, vegetables, or table necessaries, but, unfortunately, does not abound in wood or water, for both
of which payment must be made, and that exorbitant.
We were fortunate in obtaining here some excellent cordage, which is rather scarce on this coast ;
very probably that exchanged by some of the whale
ships which frequently  touch here for supplies of 208
stock,   and   more  particularly  the   sweet  potatoe»
which is an excellent anti-scorbutic.
Quitting Payta on the 4th, we anchored off Punta
Espanola, in the island of Puna, at six a. m. on the
•morning of the 6th. This is the summer residence
of Mr. Cope, our consul to the Equador, and where
ships of war usually anchor previous to passing up
the river to Guayaquil. At this point also our
stores and provisions, left by H. M. S. Cleopatra, were
by his kindness housed in his own warehouse.  VISIT  MR.   COPE.
As Mr. Cope was absent at Guayaquil, I proceeded by the morning tide in my gig, accompanied
by Kellett, and reached his house in time for breakfast, when we were received with all the warmth
and hospitality for which he is so justly famed.
Although a great invalid, his activity of mind soon
set aside all infirmities, and, breakfast ended, he
insisted upon accompanying us to call upon the
governor and military commandant, General Wright.
The latter relieved our good friend from further
labours that he would willingly have persisted in,
and took us the customary round of visits to the fair
goddesses of Guayaquil.
I had heard the beauty, affability, courtesy, &c,
of the ladies of Guayaquil rapturously extolled, and
was certainly prepared to admire, and bow to
general report. I have seen beauty, too, in our own
country ; but the extreme formality there exhibited
certainly cast a film over my eyes which shaded their
perfections. 1838.]
We were received by the ladies in state, seated
on a sofa or throne, in front of which a large carpet,
or square rug, was spread. Etiquette forbids approach within the limits of the border.
Their complexions, from never exposing themselves to the sun, are certainly very superior to
those of the Limanians, whose brunette tint, vivacious spirit, and dark, full, speaking eyes, are infinitely
more likely to endanger an infraction of the second
I understand that the male relatives of these
Guayaquilanean heroines have declared a civil war,
upon the question of being kept at such a distance?
and of rendering such absolute homage.
Our time was fully occupied in embarking our
stores, &c, and refitting, until the 25th September,
when I carried the ship up to Guayaquil to embark
coals, and complete other necessaries.
As our worthy consul had some affairs of importance to talk over with General Flores, previous to
his journey to Quito upon an important official
mission, and as it was not only right, but prudent,
that I should become acquainted with the future
president, as well as greatest general of the Equador,
I determined upon accompanying him, to pay my
respects, and such ceremonies as my ship, from .her
distance, was prevented from showing.
Our party, consisting of the ' consul General
Wright, Lieutenant Kellett, Mr. Hinds, assistant-
surgeon,  Mr.   Richards,   midshipman,  and   myself,
p 2
-■-   itilUlUgj. uiàW 212
quitted Guayaquil in our pinnace on the evening of
the 1st October, for Bodegas, and reached the house
of General Flores on the evening following. Great
rejoicings, &c, had just terminated, on the occasion
of the saint's day of his wife, who also had just been
confined of a daughter, who was christened Victoria,
in honour of our queen. All, therefore, was in confusion, but our reception was as warm as could be
wished, and our treatment princely. Having brought
up our saluting chambers in the pinnace, they were
landed immediately below the general's house, where
the boat's hull was hidden, and the colours of the
Equador being displayed at our top-mast head, a
salute of fifteen guns was fired, which shook the
surrounding houses, and startled their inhabitants, no
pendant having before been displayed or salute fired
in Bodegas. The general, who instantly comprehended the compliment, expressed himself very
warmly on the subject, through Mr. Cope.
General Flores is about thirty-eight, slight, but
remarkably well proportioned ; his countenance is intelligent and inquiring, and he appears to have studied
hard to master every subject which reading and conference with men of science could assist him to.
For this country, he certainly is an extraordinary
man, and when it is recollected that for his valour
alone he has been designated by his republican
countrymen " The first citizen of the Equador,"
and is now about to resume the presidentship for
the second time, it will readily be imagined that
-^— 1838.]
more than ordinary activity and intelligence must
have been his passport.
General Wright, (an Irishman,) who was also his
companion in arms under Bolivar, and subsequently
served under General Flores, distinguished himself
in Mina Rica, and several other actions. He assisted much in rendering our visit pleasant, and
drawing out the general, who delighted in conversing on the various subjects of machinery, steam,
&c, which he hoped to introduce, at his own expense, into this country.
On the second morning we made an excursion
through his estate, which is well stocked with
cattle, and has been cleared to a very great extent
by the dependants of the general, who being for the
greater part old soldiers who had served under his
immediate eye during the war, preferred living on
his bounty, and doing their best to merit his protection. We breakfasted at a very neat and roomy
farmhouse, about three miles from his mansion,
where the viands, &c, had been previously forwarded.
We noticed great numbers of birds of fine plumage, and shot several very interesting specimens,
which were added to our collection. In the afternoon we crossed the river to the town or village
of Batahoya, which contains about two hundred
houses. These, owing to the lowness of the situation, and occasional swelling of the stream, are
generally elevated on legs, about six or seven feet 214
above the ground. I am told that at times they
visit in boats.
The novelty of a bull-fight was the principal inducement to this visit. I am not at any time much
interested in such matters, but the present exhibition was entirely devoid of interest. The animals
were not disposed to be excited, nor were the
actors particularly anxious to display their prowess.
But to return to the farm : when the general proceeds to Quito to assume his functions as civil
magistrate, the house, farms, and sugar-mills, will be
transferred to his present aid-de-camp, Colonel Ponti,
who will pay a rental of 10,000 dollars per annum
during the four years of his presidency. But I
much doubt that the same content or success will
result, under a less vigilant and popular man than
the general. The dependants who cheerfully earned
their subsistence under his control, will now require
wages; and to support so large an establishment
will very soon strain the proceeds below the means
of paying so large a rental.
After experiencing the most marked civility from
our kind host, and an earnest request that our
intimacy should not end here, we parted, greatly
delighted with our excursion.
Our passage up may be said to have been almost
in the dark ; I omitted, therefore, to dwell upon the
river and its banks.
At the present season the tides flow within nine
miles of Bodegas, and therefore the ascent is easy; [1838.
but in the rainy season I am informed the freshes
are very strong, the stream frequently rising so far
above the ordinary level as to flood the streets of
Batahoya, and the farm-houses on the banks. The
houses, constructed as before noticed, are therefore
only tenanted on the first floor, and appear like birdcages on legs.
The river is fresh as low as Guayaquil, (and even
lower ;) but the water even there is not considered
fit for consumption ; consequently, the greater part
used for drinking is brought down the river in
earthen jars, containing about seven gallons each.
These are compactly packed on Balsas,—which are
rafts constructed of ten logs of wood, from twelve
to fourteen inches in diameter, and sixty feet in
length. The wood used for this purpose, a bombax,
has obtained the name of balsa wood. They are
calculated to bear a pressure of fifteen to twenty
tons, independent of the men required to navigate
them, and to this amount they are generally laden.
On these Balsas, houses are also constructed, varying from thirty to forty feet in length by twelve
wide, and in such conveyances whole families are
transported to Bodegas and other places. These
we observed at Batahoya, and we were informed
that some continue to make them their residence
during their visits from home. Many we observed
were thus inhabited, and also I noticed their tenants
bathing; but where alligators are so numerous it
must be attended with risk.
M 216
Others travel more "expeditiously by the canoa
de piéca, which derives its name from being a canoe
built, instead of hollowed out of a single tree;
One of these will contain one hundred persons : it
is furnished with an arched housing at the stern,
with sufficient shelter for hammocks &c, for one
family. They are also used for the conveyance of
The vegetation on the banks of the river is very
luxuriant, and studded with small sugar plantations.
The farm-housës perched amongst them appear neat
and comfortable, but on a closer inspection, have not
much to induce one to seek their shelter.
Alligators are very numerous ; forty-seven of one
swarm were counted before they glided down the
mud into the river. None were under ten feet;
they were mostly estimated at fifteen to eighteen, and
some were monsters. The peculiar sound, of closing
the jaws with a noise resembling cluck, is anything
but musical. We were assured that these were
nothing to what we should have seen had we passed
through the Estero de Lagartos, (or Alligator Creek,)
that there we should have encountered them in
About noon, it being low water, and the tide
against us, we landed, to afford our men time to
dine, take a run, and regain their wind.
Here we had an opportunity of noticing one of
the small farms, and their tenants, who appear to
be far from easy in their circumstances.    Their rude
mmmm 1838.]
machinery for crushing the cane, sufficiently denotes
their want of ingenuity and exertion amongst, themselves ; at the same time it becomes very apparent
what enormous advantages would accrue from the
introduction of machinery and engineers. In the
loss of the example of such a man as General Flores
at this particular moment, and for a period of four
years, I am induced to fear that the evil results
here will not be sufficiently counterpoised by his
duties to the republic. There are moments when
master minds are imperatively called for to guide
the helm of state ; but in quiet times it is possible that such powers might be more beneficially
exerted in a smaller sphere ; and this too is still
more apparent when the elevation does not give
the command of resources by which such abilities
can be called into play for the general good.
The rise and fall of the stream itself might very
easily be taken advantage of; mills might be
erected on a small scale, and the simplest of their
kind would open the road for a greater demand,
as well as for those of superior construction,—even
to steam. The natives are as yet but children in
these matters, and until they learn the use and
value of machinery as toys, the magnitude and complication of greater undertakings will deter them
from approaching them.
We shot several varieties of birds, and at one
spot, without moving from beneath the same tree,
no less than ten humming birds were obtained. 218
The flood did not run long, coming in and expanding its force almost at a gush ; we, therefore,
resumed our progress, and about four passed the
town of Samborodon, the half way, or resting spot
from Guayaquil, probably from its being the only
village where supplies for a large party can be obtained, as well as the home of most of the boatmen.
The appearance of the town is improving; but
its inhabitants being entirely coloured, and not
otherwise interesting, we preferred using our best
exertions to reach Guayaquil before the change of
tide.    This we effected by ten that evening.
From the foreign consuls, as well as from our
kind friend General Wright, we met with every
attention, and our affairs at Guayaquil being completed, we took leave of them on the 30th, taking with us our good friend the consul, and without kedging beat and backed through the
narrows   without  accident,   reaching  our old  an-
f- ©
chorage off Punta Espanola on the morning of
the 4th.
H. M. S. Harrier had called during our absence,
on her way to San Bias and the Gulf of California,
to collect freight, but only remained forty-eight
hours; consequently I had not an opportunity of
seeing my good friend Captain Carew.
By my letters, I found that affairs in Peru were in
statu quo at Callao. Nieto, Lafuente, &c. had
landed at Payta, and a Chilian force had attacked
HHH 1838.]
it. The two former retired on receiving about 2,000
dollars, and had arrived at Guayaquil before our
departure, but unnoticed by the authorities. Subsequently, the Chilians refusing all terms with the
inhabitants of Piura, marched against them, beat
them, and after capture, barbarously murdered the
captain of the port of Payta, and committed other
Our stay at Puna enabled us to collect several
varieties of birds, shells, and animals. In one of
my excursions, observing an alligator of twelve feet
asleep on the beach, and suspecting him to be dead, I
passed the lead line under his nose and jerked it
round his throat, taking the precaution of giving tLe
other end, similarly passed, to two of the boat's crew.
Rather to my surprise, he snapped his jaws, and
made for the water, but a turn of the line round a
rock considerably increased the pressure round his
throat, and he was securely taken to the boat.
After towing him a considerable time, and believing
him to be drowned, we tried to get him into the
boat, and had nearly succeeded, when he made a
snap at the gunwale, and tore a portion of it
away. We immediately decided that he was not fit
society, and towed him astern.
After having been landed for some time, the boat's
crew commenced the operation of skinning him,
considering him quite dead. Indeed, his stomach
had been some time exposed, and the skin laid open
to the tail on both sides,—when by a sudden convul-
sion he snapped his jaws, and included both hands
of one of the crew, (who was sitting on his head to
steady him,) cutting through several fingers, but
fortunately without injuring any bones. The instant the country people saw him they exclaimed,
I Patos, patos,"—intimating that he was a well-known
connoisseur and purloiner of fat ducks.
Having completed our wood, water, &c, we took
leave of our hospitable friend the consul, with very
great regret, for I am certain there was not a man
belonging to our establishment who did not feel his
kindness in some shape. We directed our course for
Panama, the Starling, as usual, having the Victoria
under her wing.
I cannot quit this port without mentioning the
very handsome conduct of this government relative
to our stores. On their arrival in H. M. S. Cleopatra,
and it being reported that they were intended for
this expedition, (special directions having already
been issued to afford us every assistance,) the authorities consented to their being landed at Mr. Cope's
private stores at Puna, where there is no officer of
customs ; and on Mr. Cope's sending the keys of two
locks placed on them, they were returned with a
very handsome message, and a rebuke to the inferior
officer for receiving them. Part of these supplies
consisted of articles contraband at this port, and
these were in very large quantity.
On entering the fifth degree of north latitude, we
began to experience the  rains,  the winds  at the 1838.]
same time pressing us to the eastward, which delayed us considerably. Vessels ought to endeavour
to reach Point Mala, and go up between the Oto-
gues, Taboga, and the main, on the western side of
the Gulf of Panama. I think we lost three days
by not following that route. On the 17th we
reached Taboga, where I landed to obtain time,
and at twelve the same night anchored off Panama.
In the morning I called on our new consul, Mr.
Cade, late of the Bogota mission, but not finding
our anticipated despatches, and the mail not being
due until the 20th, I moved the ship to Taboga, to
complete water, and make sundry observations
which the more frequent showers at Panama, and
the distance from the shore, rendered inconvenient.
On the 24th October, Mr. Cade forwarded our
despatches by his servant, and the day following
we returned to our old anchorage off Panama. Mr.
D. Gordon, Mid., of the Starring, having suffered
severely from the climate, was sent home by the
return mail, with our gleanings since February
As it became an object to ascertain the state
of the Yslas del Rey (now the Islands of Columbia,)
and to make up my mind as to the selection of
stations, should my time admit of connecting them
with Panama, I  ran over to the island of Casalla
where we could also witness the pearl fishery in
full activity. Our good friend the consul accompanied us, and we there had an opportunity of test- 222 EXERTIONS   OF  THE  PEARL   DIVERS.     [1838.
ing the powers of the niost expert divers they could
The depth on which they usually fish, is about
five or six fathoms, the bottom uneven and rocky,
or stony. The boat, in the present instance, being
anchored in a tideway, the padron commenced by
repeating prayers, in which he was joined by the
rest of the crew, amounting to seven. This ended,
they divested themselves of superfluities, and almost
simultaneously inhaling a long breath, dived feet
The average time of immersion ranged from forty
to forty-two seconds, and on reaching the surface,
they had generally seven or ten oysters each, about
the size of a cheese plate, packed from the left hand
to the left shoulder, four being firmly secured between three fingers and thumb ; all this is effected
under water.
Upon offering rewards for those who could remain longest under water, we were only able at
first to witness seventy-six seconds. But after a
little practice, the padron remained beneath the
surface ninety-six seconds, bringing up seven oysters
from the depth of seven fathoms. From what we
witnessed of his exhaustion, and the reports of
others who repute him their best diver, I am
strongly inclined to doubt thesuspension of breathing,
with power of exertion, for a longer period.
The fishery is carried on at their own expense
and   risk;  they either sell the oysters, and open 1838.]
them in the presence of the purchaser, at a real
or less per dozen, or take the risk themselves ; in
fact, a novel species of gambling has arisen, in which
many of us indulged without adding to our wealth ; ■
completely the reverse, for many of us, ashamed
to have nothing to show, purchased pearls. One
exception, however, occurred in the consul's servant,
who turned up a prize worth, I was told, about
forty dollars.
I examined the collections of several dealers in these
articles, who reside here in readiness to purchase during the diving season. Some were enormous, as large
as nine tenths of an inch long, by five tenths diameter,
but pear shaped, and of bad colour. Indeed, none
that I saw would be reckoned fine in England, and
amongst some thousand large ones, very few were
perfectly round.
The Yslas del Rey cover about four hundred
square miles, and comprise numerous islets, and
probably thirty or forty fishing villages. The quantity of pearls estimated at the season, is about two
Having returned to Panama, and landed the
consul, we sailed on the 1st of November for
Realejo, intending to verify the longitude of the
Cocos in our route ; but the heavy rains which we
encountered in that direction, added to oppressive
atmosphere and tendency to sickness, soon changed
my plans, and every effort was made to make
northing,   and    clear  these   unpleasant   latitudes.
=F=F 224
On reaching the latitude of 8° 40'  N. the cessation
was abrupt.
The rains alone are sufficiently unpleasant at
anchor ; but the variable winds, calms, squalls, &c,
calling for the constant exposure of the crew, added
to the wear and tear of stores, are infinitely more
harassing than months of heavy work in a dry elk
mm Realejo —Termination of the rainy season—Quit Realejo and repair
to Cbicarene—Gulf of Fonseca—Trip to San Miguel—Agua
Frio—Reach San Miguel—Start to visit the Volcano—Demur
at Cbinameca—Return in disgust to San Miguel—Quit, and
visit Moncagua—Breakfast—Arrive at San Miguel—Tbe fair—
Method of transacting business—Honourable conduct of natives
—Run to Realejo—Meet H. M. S. Imogene—Return to Con-
chagua—Port of San Carlos—Ascend Amapala—Conchagua,
&c.—Pitch observatory under Conseguina—Start with Starling
and boats to examine Estero Real—Result—Swarms of Mosquitoes—Canal question—Volcano of Conseguina — Desolation
caused by its eruption—Return to Realejo—A boat upset in
a squall—Mr. Speck and a seaman drowned—Sail for the
Gulf of Nicoya. 226
On the 14th of November we reached Realejo,
where the effects of the rainy season were still apparent, the residents informing us that the season had
terminated only on the 4th. The 1st of November,
then, may be safely assumed as the termination of
the rainy season at Realejo.
Our stay here was but short, being anxious to
commence the survey of the Gulf of Fonseca ; and
our consul, Mr. Foster, having consented to accompany us, and act as pilot to Conchagua, we quitted
Realejo on the 17th November, anchored off the watering-place, Chicarene Bay, at nine on the morning of
the 19th, and after obtaining observations on the
point, proceeded by boat to La Union, (or San
Carlos,) the town of the port of Conchagua, properly so called.
Here we found seven vessels at anchor, having
brought cargoes for the fair at San Miguel, situated
about forty miles in the interior, and at the base of
the volcano of that name.
As reports were in circulation that the insurgent
Carrera   contemplated disturbing   the proceedings, 4838.]
and I moreover, the property at stake being chiefly
British, I determined visiting the fair in my route
to the volcano, which I contemplated ascending.
The presence of the consul, officers, and myself
might have an influence on his actions. However, on
the eve of our departure, I had the satisfaction of
learning from San Salvador, that he had been
routed by the forces of the President Morasan,
and was pent up in the mountains.
On the 19th, at six p. M., our party, consisting of
the vice-consul, Mr. Foster, Lieut. Wood, Mr.
Hinds, assistant-surgeon, and Mr. Selwyn, Mid.,
commenced our journey on very indifferent animals,
the great demand leaving us no choice.
For the first stage our road lay through very
uneven ground, which the darkness did not improve ;
and to the discomfiture of our junior, he suddenly
found himself, by the failure of his animal at a leap,
" rather ahead of his reckoning," and head downwards,
in a pool or brook : he was fortunately extricated
without injury.
It was intended that we should rest " in campo—"
the customary mode in this country. But estimât-
ing, from the present condition of our beasts, what
they might be able to effect on the morrow, under
a broiling sun, I determined to push on another
league and a half, and rather sacrifice my rest than
risk the fatigue of dragging my mule. We, there-
fore, moved on and reached Agua Frio at one,
and after considerable trouble succeeded in obtaining
q 2 228
shelter and supper. I believe I was the only one
who had a roof over me, but had little reason to
rejoice in this particular, as | las pulgas" assured
me toll must be paid for such indulgence.
About four, our guides commenced saddling, and
we were soon once more en route. The temperature during our stay ranged to 56°, and at the moment of starting, we enjoyed, with some few shivers,
a fine cool air.
Our journey now lay through the mountains, the
road being tolerable for mules. About nine, we
reached the outer circle of the city of San Miguel,
which at this period was occupied by a dense belt of
about a mile of show oxen, horses, sheep, &c, the
owners, drovers, or proprietors, having erected temporary houses amongst the trees on either side of
the road. Many had brought their beasts to a bad
Here I met my old friend and host of Nagarote,
as before alluded to, who informed me that he could
only obtain five dollars per head for show beasts,
which he could sell at home for six, and this after
driving, feeding, &c, upwards of five days'journey;
in this country almost equal to their value. As
they came for goods, it is not improbable that the
intrinsic returns were of greater value than the
hard six dollars.
Having passed through the cattle fair, and forded
the river, which passes about half a mile on the
skirts of the  town,   we  entered San Miguel, and 1838.]
found the heat, dust, and clatter, almost Babylonian.
After considerable exertion, and forcing our way
through dense crowds by the most circuitous passes,
we at length reached the quarters of our allies, who
were just commencing breakfast. As our despatches
had not arrived, our appearance was rather a surprise, although welcome ; and great bustle and
activity were displayed to evince 'their sense of the
addition to the alliance, particularly from our old
friend, Mr. Bridge, of Realejo, who liifctle dreamed
of our re-appearance in Central America, when we
took leave of him in March last.
Having called on the military governor and commandant, who received us very politely, and offered every assistance in his power, we returned to
watch the movements of the fair, and make the
necessary arrangements for ascending the volcano,
that was majestically towering immediately above
us, and apparently easy of access. But on this side
it is impracticable, and some leagues must be travelled to gain its rear at the only point at which it
has ever been attempted with success.
The governor,