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Adventures on the Columbia River, including the narrative of a residence of six years on the western… Cox, Ross, 1793-1853 1832

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an Historical and Geographical Account of the Persons and Places ; a literal, critical, and systematical Description of other Objects, whether natural, artificial, civil,
religious, or military ; and an Explanation of the Appellative Terms mentioned in
the Old and New Testaments. By the Rev. JOHN BROWN. From die last
Edinburgh Edition.    To which is prefixed a Biographical Sketch of the Author, &c.
RELIGION, derived from the literal Fulfilment of PROPHECY; particularly
illustrated by the History of the Jews, and by the Discoveries of recent Travellers.
By the Rev. ALEXANDER KEITH.    12mo.   From the sixth Edinburgh Edition.
JOHN WESLEY, M.A., sometime Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. From
the last London Edition. Containing a number of Sermons never before published
in this Country.    3 vols. 8vo.
WESLEY. Containing a Plain Account of Christian Perfection; the Appeals to
Men of Reason and Religion; Principles of the Methodists; Letters, &c. la
3 vols. 8vo.
plete. With a brief Memoir and a Sketch of his literary Character, by the Right
Hon. Sir James Mackintosh, LL.D., M.P. And a Sketch of his Character as a
Theologian and a Preacher, by the Rev. John Foster.    In 3 vols. 8vo.
A CONCORDANCE to the Holy Scriptures of the Old and
New Testaments.   By the Rev. JOHN BROWN, of Haddington.    32mo.
sionary Establishments for its Propagation in all Parts of the World. Edited by
THE   HISTORY  OF THE  JEWS.    From the earliest
Period to the present Time. By Rev. H. H. MILMAN. In 3 vols. 18mo. [With
Maps and Woodcuts.}
THE LIFE OF MOHAMMED, Founder of the Religion of
Islam, and of the Empire of the Saracens. By the Rev. GEORGE BUSH, A.M.
{With a Plan of the Temple of Mecca.]    18mo.
THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE..  By th^-fte^. G. R.
GLEIG, M.A., M.R.S.D., &c. &c. In 2 vols ISino. [With Maps of Palestine
and the Travels of St. Paul.]
Outline of its Natural History. By Rev. M. RUSSELL, LL.D. With Engravings.    18mo.
PALESTINE; or, THE HOLY LAND.   From the earliest
Period to the present Time. By Rev. M. RUSSELL, LL.D. 18mo. [With a
Map and wood Engravings. ]
■" fftftifif^T-VfSBtfBrS^^aMigr^iiiui'mi^
 . '
M.D., F.R.S., F.R.S.L., Mem. Am. Phil. Soc. and F.R.S. of Philadelphia. From
the last London Edition. To which is now prefixed, A Sketch of the Author's
Life.    8vo.       »
BREWSTER, LL.D.    With a Portrait.    18mo.
SADES.    By G. P. R. JAMES, Esq.    18mo.    [With a Plate.]
rous Woodcuts.]    18mo. ^^
ENGLISH SYNONYMES, with copious Illustrations and
Explanations, drawn from the best Writers. A new Edition, enlarged. By
GEORGE CRABB, M.A. Author of the Universal Technological Dictionary,
and the Universal Historical Dictionary.    8vo.
DOMESTIC DUTIES ;  or, Instructions to Young Married
Ladies, on the Management of their Households, and the Regulation of their
Conduct in the various Relations and Duties of Married Life. By Mrs. WILLIAM
PARKES.    [Third Edition.]    12mo. |g|
ROBERTSON, D.D. Complete Edition. Including his History of AMERICA;
CHARLES V.; SCOTLAND, INDIA, &c.    In 3 vols. 8vo.    TWith Plates, &c]
FAMILY LIBRARY.    Of this work, which is intended to
combine the two objects of instruction and amusement, comprising as much entertaining matter as can be given along with useful knowledge, several volumes are
already published.
of the Progress of Society from the Rise of the modern Kingdoms to the Peace of
Paris, in 1763. By WILLIAM RUSSELL, LL.D. And a Continuation of the
History to the present Time. By WILLIAM JONES, Esq. With Annotations
by an American.    In 3 vols. 8vo.    [With Portraits.]
from the last London Edition. In 4 vols. 8vo. [With a Portrait of the Author,
and Maps.]
Addressed toM^G. LOCKHART, Esq. By- Sir WALTER SCOTT, Bart.
[With a copperplate* Engravir^J    18mo.
XENOPHON.    The ANABASIS, translated bv EDWARD
SPELMAN, Esq. The CYROPiEDIA, translated by the Hon. ASHLEY
COOPER.    In 2 vols. 18mo.    [Portrait.]
SALLUST.    Translated by WM. ROSE, M.A.    With Improvements and Notes.    [Portrait.]    18mo.
THOMAS LELAND, D.D.   In 3 vols. 18mo.    [Portrait.] J
-t m*
The following Narrative embraces a period of six years, five of
which were spent among various tribes on the banks of the
Columbia River and its tributary streams; and the remaining
portion was occupied in the voyage outwards, and the journey
across the continent.
During this period the author ascended the Columbia nine
times, and descended it eight; wintered among various tribes:
was engaged in several encounters with the Indians; was lost
fourteen days in a wilderness, and had many other extraordinary
He kept journals of the principal events which occurred during
the greater part of this period, the substance of which will be
found imbodied in the following pages. Those who love to read
of " battle, murder, and sudden death," will, in his description of
the dangers and privations to which the life of an Indian trader is
subject, find much to gratify their taste; while to such as are fond
of nature, in its rudest and most savage forms, he trusts his sketches
of the wild and wandering tribes of Western America may not
be found uninteresting.
They cannot lay claim to the beautiful colouring which the romantic pen of a Chateaubriand has imparted to his picture of Indian
manners; for the author, unfortunately, did not meet with anv
tribe which approached that celebrated writer's splendid description of savage life.   He has seen many of them before the con-
tamination of white men could have deteriorated their native
character; and, while he records with pleasure the virtues and
bravery of some, truth compels him to give a different character
to the majority.
The press has of late years teemed with various " Recollections," "Reminiscences," &c. of travels, scenes, and adventures
in well-knovm countries; but no account has been yet published of
a great portion of the remote regions alluded to in this work.
They are therefore new to the world; and, if the author's unpretending narrative possesses no other claim to the public favour, it
cannot at least be denied that of novelty.
In the year 1670 a charter was granted by Charles the Second to the Hudson's-Bay Company, whose first governor was
Prince Rupert, by which the Company was allowed the exclusive privilege of establishing trading factories on the shores of
that noble bay and its tributary rivers. Owing to this charter,
the fur-trade, which forms an important and extensive branch of
American commerce, was for a long period monopolized by the
Company ; but, from the peculiar nature of its constitution, little
progress was made by its officers in extending its trading posts,
or exploring the interior, until the year 1770, when Mr. Hearne
was sent on an expedition to the Arctic Sea, for an account of
which I beg to refer the reader to that gentleman's simple and
interesting narative.
While Canada belonged to France the Canadian traders had
advanced many hundred miles beyond Lake Superior, and established several trading posts in the heart of the country, some
of which ihevoyageurs still call by their original names ; such as
Fort Dauphin, Fort Bourbon, and others.
The conquest of that province opened a new source of trade
to British enterprise; and while the officers of the Hudson's-
Bay Company fancied their charter had secured them in the
undisturbed possession of their monopoly, an active and enterprising rival was gradually encroaching on their territories, and
imperceptibly undermining their influence with the Indians ; L
allude to the North-West Fur Company of Canada, which originally consisted of a few private traders, but subsequently became the first commercial establishment in British America.
It is not here necessary to enter into a detail of the formation
and increase of this Company. Its first members were British
and Canadian merchants; among whom Messrs. Rocheblave,
Frobisher, Fraser, M'Tavish, Mackenzie, and M'Gillivray were
the most prominent. Their clerks were chiefly younger branches
of respectable Scottish families, who entered the service as apprentices for seven years; for which period they were allowed
one hundred pounds, and suitable clothing. At tie expiration
of their apprenticeship they were placed on yearly salaries, varying from eighty to one hundred and sixty pounds, and according to their talents were ultimately provided for as partners;
some, perhaps in a year or two after the termination of their
engagements; while others remained ten, twelve, or sixteen
years in a state of probation.
This system, by creating an identity of interest, produced a
spirit of emulation among the clerks admirably calculated to
promote the general good; for, as each individual was led to
expect that the period for his election to the proprietary depended
on his own exertions, every nerve was strained to attain the
long-desired object of his wishes.
Courage was an indispensable qualification, not merely for
the casual encounters with the Indians, but to intimidate any
competitor in trade with whom he might happen to come in
collision. Success was looked upon as the great criterion of a
trader's cleverness; and provided he obtained for his outfit of
merchandise what was considered a good return of furs, the
partners never stopped to inquire about the means by which they
were acquired.
The Hudson's-Bay Company, on the contrary, presented no
such inducements to extra exertion on the part of its officers.
Each individual had a fixed salary, without any prospect of becoming a proprietor; and some of them, whose courage was
undoubted, when challenged to single combat by a North-Wester,
refused; alleging as a reason, that they were engaged to trade
for furs, and not to fight with fellow-subjects.
Independently of the foregoing circumstances, the North-
West Company in the selection of its canoe-men, or, as they are
called, engages, had another great advantage over its chartered
rival. These men were French Canadians, remarkable for
obedience to their superiors; and whose skill in managing canoes, capability of enduring hardships, and facility of adapting
themselves to the habits and peculiarities of the various tribes,
rendered them infinitely more popular in the eyes of Indians
than the stubborn, unbending, matter-of-fact Orkney men, into
whose ideas a work of supererogation never entered.*
The diminished amount of their imports, joined to the increased demand of goods from their factories, at length opened
the eyes of the Hudson's-Bay directors to the success of their
formidable opponents, and induced them to attempt, when too
late, to arrest their career. By their charter they now laid claim
to the exclusive privilege of trading, not merely on the Mississippi River and its various branches, but also on the Saskacha-
wan, Red River, and all the other streams which empty themselves into the great Lake Winepic, the waters of which are
carried to Hudson's-Bay by the rivers Nelson and Severn.
* The chief part of the boatmen, and several of the officers of the Hudson's-
Bay Company were, formerly, natives of the Orkney Islands.
This territorial claim, unsupported by any physical power, had
but little weight with their persevering rivals. They were far
beyond the reach of magisterial authority; and an injunction could not be easily served, nor obedience to it enforced in
a country fifteen hundred or two thousand miles beyond the limits of any recognised jurisdiction.
After establishing opposition trading posts adjoining the different factories of the Hudson's-Bay Company in the interior, the indefatigable North-Westers continued their progress to the northward and westward, and formed numerous trading establishments
at Athabasca, Peace River, Great and Lesser Slave Lakes, New
Caledonia, the Columbia, <fcc.; to none of which places did the
officers of the Hudson's-Bay attempt to follow them. By these
means the North-West Company became undisputed masters of
the interior. Their influence with the natives was all-powerful;
and no single trader, without incurring imminent danger from
the Indians, or encountering the risk of starvation, could attempt
to penetrate into their territories.
A few independent individuals, unconnected with either company, the chief of whom was Mr. John Jacob Astor, a wealthy
merchant of New-York, still carried on a fluctuating trade with
the Indians, whose lands border Canada and the United States;
but their competition proved injurious to themselves, as prices
far above their value were frequently given to, the natives for
their furs.
With the interior thus inaccessible, and the confines not worth
disputing, Mr. Astor turned his thoughts to the opposite side of
the American continent; and accordingly made proposals to the
North-West Company to join with him in forming an establishment on the Columbia River. This proposition was submitted
to the consideration of a general meeting of the wintering proprietors ; and, after some negotiations as to the details, rejected.
Mr. Astor therefore determined to make the attempt without
their co-operation; and in the winter of 1809, he succeeded in
forming an association called the | Pacific Fur Company," of
which he himself was the chief proprietor. As able and experienced traders were necessary to ensure success, he induced
several of the gentlemen connected with the North-West Company to quit that establishment and join in his speculation.
Among these was Mr. Alexander M'Kay, an old partner, who
had accompanied Sir Alexander Mackenzie in his perilous journey across the continent to the Pacific Ocean.
It was intended in the first instance to form a trading establishment at the entrance of the Columbia, and as many more subsequently on its tributary streams as the nature and productions of
the country would admit.    It was also arranged that a vessel
laden with goods for the Indian trade should sail every year
from New-York to the Columbia, and after discharging her cargo
at the establishment, take on board the produce of the year's
trade, and thence proceed to Canton, which is a ready market
for furs of every description. On disposing of her stock of
peltries at the latter place, she was to return to New-York
freighted with the productions of China.
The first vessel fitted out by the Pacific Fur Company was
the Tonquin, commanded by Captain Jonathan Thorne, formerly
a lieutenant in the service of the United States. She sailed
from New-York in the autumn of 1810, and had on board four
partners, nine clerks, with a number of mechanics and voyageurs,
with a large and well assorted cargo for the Indian and Chinese
trades. 'Much about the same period a party under the command of Messrs. W. P. Hunt, and Donald Mackenzie, left Saint
Louis on the Missouri, with the intention of proceeding as nearly
as possible by Lewis and Clarke's route across the continent to
the mouth of the Columbia. This party consisted, besides the
above gentlemen, who were partners, of three clerks, and
upwards of seventy men.
The following year, 1811, another vessel, the Beaver, of four
hundred and eighty tons, commanded by *Captain Cornelius
Stawles, sailed for the Columbia. She had on board one partner, six clerks, and a number of artisans and voyageurs, with a
plentiful supply of every thing that could contribute to the comfort of the crew and passengers.
The exaggerated reports then in circulation relative to the
wealth to be obtained in the Columbia, induced merchants of
the first respectability to solicit for their sons appointments in
the new Company ; and many of their applications were unsuccessful. The author, who was at this period in New-York, captivated with the love of novelty, and the hope of speedily realizing
an independence in the supposed El Dorada, exerted all his
influence to obtain a clerkship in the Company. He succeeded,
and was one of those who embarked on board the Beaver.
With what success his golden anticipations were crowned,
together with all his | travels' history," will be amply detailed
in the following Narrative.
Singularly luminous appearance of the ocean—The Equator—Magellanic Clouds—Falkland islands—Storm, and loss of two men—
Cape Horn—Dreadful storm—Islands of |uan Fernandez and Massa-
fuero—Trade Winds in the Pacific—A shark—Arrival at Sandwich
Islands .
^1 ^r-■■■'-
Whoahoo—Visit from a chief—Nocturnal excursion—King and
queens—Invasion of the ship—White men—Gardens—Foot race, and
summary justice—Throwing the spear—Royal residence, and body
guard—Mourning for a chiefs wife—Billy Pitt, George Washing-
Tamaamah—The Eooranee—Curious custom—Fickleness in dress
—Character of natives—Important position of the islands—Cow hunting—Complete our supplies—Take a number of natives—Departure—
New Discovery—Arrival at the Columbia    .....   45
Account of the Tonquin—Loss of her chief mate, seven men, and
two boats—Extraordinary escape of Weekes—Erection of Astoria—
Mr. Thompson of the N. W. Company—Arrival of Messrs. Hunt and
Mackenzie, and sketch of their journey over-land .       ..       .54
Particulars of the destruction of the Tonquin and crew—Indians
attack a party ascending the river—Description of fort, natives, and
the country   ........       . .63
Departure from Astoria—Description of our party, lading, &c.—Appearance of river and islands—Fleas and mosquitoes—First rapids,
dangerous accident—Indian cemetery—Ugly Indians—Gibraltar—Cape
Horn—The narrows and falls—Change in the appearance of the country—Attempt at robbery—Mounted Indians 72
Party commence eating horses—Remarkable escape from' a rattlesnake—Kill numbers of them—Arrive among the Wallah Wallah tribe
—Description of the country—The Pierced-nose Indians—Author's
party proceeds up Lewis River—Purchase horses for land-travelling—
Prickly pears—Awkward accident—Leave the canoes, and journey
inland 81
Author loses the party—Curious adventures, and surprising escapes
from serpents and wild beasts during fourteen days in a wilderness—
Meets with Indians, by whom he is hospitably received and conducted
to his friends 88
Remarkable case of Mr. Pritchard, who was thirty-five days lost—
Situation of Spokan House—Journey to the Flat-head lands, and de-
cription of that tribe—Return to Spokan House—Christmas-day—Horse
eating—Spokan peculiarities—Articles of trade—A duel       .       .   99
Execution of an Indian for robbery—War between Great Britain and
the United States—Dissolution of the Pacific Fur Company—Author
joins the North-West Company, and proceeds to the Rocky Mountains—Meets a party, and returns to the sea—Robbery of goods, and
successful stratagem to recover the property—Attack at night—Dog-
eating—Author and three men pursued by Indians—Narrow escape .106
Author proceeds to Oakinagan, and thence to the Flat-heads, where
he passes the winter—Cruel treatment of the Black-feet prisoners by
the Flat-heads—Horrible Spectacle—Buffalo the cause of war between
the two tribes—Women—Government—Peace and war chiefs—Wolves
—Anecdote of a dog—Syrup of birch—Surgical and medical knowledge of the Flat-heads—Remarkable cure of rheumatism—Their ideas
of a future state, and curious tradition respecting the beavers'—Name
of Flat-head a misnomer—A marriage        .       .       ,       ,      .117
Effect of snow on the eyes—Description of a winter at Oakinagan
-—News from the sea—Capture of Astoria by the Racoon sloop of war
—Offer of Chinooks to cut off the British—A party attacked; Mr.
Stewart wounded; two Indians killed—Arrival of Mr. Hunt—Shipwreck of the Lark—Massacre of Mr. Read and eight of his men—Extraordinary escape of Dorrien's widow and children   .       .       .    129
Arrival of the Isaac Tod—Miss Jane Barnes, a white woman—Murder of one of our men by Indians—Trial and execution of the murderers—Death of Mr. Donald M'Tavish and five men   .       .       .   139
Sketch of the Indians about the mouth of the Columbia—Process of
flattening the head—Thievish disposition—Treatment of their slaves
—Suggestions to the missionary societies—Dreadful ravages of the
small-pox—Jack Ramsay—Their ideas of religion—Curious superstition—Marriage ceremonies—Anecdote—Aversion to ardent spirits—
Government—War—Arms and armour—Canoes and houses—System
of cooking—Utensils—Gambling—Haiqua—Quack doctors—Mode of
burial 146
Voyage to the interior—Party attacked, and one man killed—Arrive
at Spokan House—Joy of the Indians at our return—The chief's speech
—Sketch of Mr. M'Donald—Duel prevented between him and a chief—
Kettle Indians ; their surprise at seeing white men—Curious account
of an hermaphrodite chief—Death of Jacques Hoole   .       .       .    160
The party attacked by the natives at the Wallah Wallah River—Two
killed—Encamp on an island for safety—Indians demand two white
men as a sacrifice—Arrival of a chieftain—His speech, and peace restored 172
Author and party lost hi\i snow-storm—Curious instance of mental
abstraction—Poor Ponto—Arrive at Spokan House—A marriage—
Great ravine—Agates—Hot-springs—Kitchen-garden—Indian manner
of hunting the deer—Method adopted by the wolves for the same purpose—Horse-racing—Great heat .       .       .       .       .       .   183
Letter from Mr. Stewart—His account of New Caledonia—Navigation of the Columbia obstructed by ice—Miserable situation of the party
during the winter—Author frost-bitten—Amusements—Departure of
Mr. Keith—His letters—Author and party quit their winter encampment—Rapid change of seasons—Arrive at Fort George    .       .   192
Author placed in charge of Oakinagan—Erects new buildings there
—Mosquitoes—sagacity of the horses—Rattlesnakes good food—Sar-
saparilla—Black snakes—Climate—Whirlwinds—Handsome situation
—Character of the tribe—Manner of trading—Extraordinary cures of
consumption 203
Author nearly blinded by hawks—Foxes—Great number of wolves
—Their method of attacking horses—Lynxes—Bears—Anecdote of a
kidnapping bruin—Ingenious plan of getting off bear-skins—Account of
the horses on the Columbia—Great feat performed by one |   210
Letter from the proprietors—Author winters at Oakinagan—Letter
from Mr. Mackenzie—A number of horses stolen—Successful plan to
recover them—Description of soil, climate, productions, &c. of the
lower part of the Columbia 218
Description of climate, soil, &c. above the rapids—Sketch of various tribes—the Chohoptins—Yackamans—Oakinagans—Sinapoils—
Spokans—Anecdote—Pointed-hearts—Cause of war—Cootonais—Kettle Indians—Kamloops, &c. 227
Ascent of the Columbia—Its lakes—Dangerous navigation—High
water1—Arrive at the mountains—Melancholy detail of the death of six
of the party  ^ 236
Canoe Valley and River—Appearance of Mountains—M'Gillivray's
Rock-—Dangerous situation of party on a raft—Arrive at Rocky Mountain House—Volcanic appearances—Animals, &c.—Indian tradition
respecting Mammoth—Difference in size of trees       .       .       •   246
Descent of the Athabasca River—Party disappointed in receiving
provisions—Elk River and Lake—"Join the brigade from Lesser Slave
Lake—Arrive at He a la Crosse—Dreadful effects of the opposition between the North-West andTHudson's-Bay Companies—Sketch of Mr.
Peter Ogden        .       .       .       .       .       •       .       .       .       .257
English River—Pass numerous lakes and rapids—Arrive at Cumberland House—Saskachawaine river—Lake Winepic—Aurora Borealis—
River Winepic—Meet various parties—Rainy Lake and Fort—Death of
an Indian i   270
Leave Rainy Lake—Messrs. M'Gillivray and La Rocque—Sketch of
Messrs. Wentzel and M'Neill—Great Falls of the mountain—Description of Fort William&its inhabitants, &c 281
Enter Lake Superior—St. Mary's Falls—Sketch of Mr. Johnston—
Lake Huron—French River—Lake Nipising—Arrive on the Ottawa—
A back-woodsman—Chaudiere Falls—Hull—Longue Sault—Mr. Grant
—Laughable mistake—Mr. M'Donald Le Pretre—Mr. M'Gilles—Snyder's Tavern—Lake of the Two Mountains—La Chine—Arrive at Montreal      290
Sketches of the Canadian Voyageurs—Anecdote of La Liberte—The
Freemen, or Trappers—The Half-breeds—Anecdote—Retired Partners
—Josephine—Francaise—Amusing Letter—Iroquois Indians—Anecdote      305
Coalition of the two Companies—New Caledonia—Description of
the Chilcotms, Talkotins, &c.—Soil, produce, lakes, rivers, animals, climate—Peculiarities of the natives—Suicides—Cruelty to relatives—
Horrible treatment of prisoners—Sanguinary quarrels—Extraordinary
ceremonies attending the dead—Barbarities practised on widows, &c.—
Table of population        .       .       .316
Singularly luminous appearance of the ocean—The Equator—Magellanic
clouds—Falkland Islands—Storm, and loss of two men-—Cape Horn—
Dreadful storm—Islands of Juan Fernandez and Massafuero—-Trade-winds
in the Pacific—A shark—Arrival at Sandwich Islands.
On Thursday the 17th of October, 1811, we sailed from New-
York, with a gentle breeze from the northward, and in a few
hours lost sight of the highlands of | Never Sink." Our cabin
passengers were, Messrs. Clarke, Clapp, Halsey, Nicolls, Seton,
Ehninger, and self; with Captain Sowles, and Messrs. Rhodes,
Champenois, and Dean, officers of the ship.
Nothing particular occurred until the night of the 7th of November, when we were gratified with observing the ocean assume that fiery appearance mentioned by several of our circumnavigators ; to account for which has not a little perplexed the
most erudite inquirers into marine phenomena. During our passage through these liquid flames we had what sailors term a
" smacking breeze" of eight knots. The captain declared that
he had never witnessed so luminous an appearance of the sea;
and so great was the light afforded by the waves, that we were
thereby enabled to peruse books of a moderate-sized print!
On the following day, the 8th, we made the Cape de Verds, at
which place it was the captain's intention to stop for a day or
two; but the wind being favourable he relinquished the idea,
and kept under way. We had fine gales and pleasant weather
until the 17th, on which day we crossed the Equator, in longitude 30° west, with a light northerly breeze, which on the following day subsided into a dead calm: this calm continued eight
days, during which period we did not advance ten miles.
Vol. I.-—C
On the 26th a smart breeze sprang up, which drove us on
nobly at the rate of from seven to ten knots an hour. The 28th
we spoke a Portuguese brig bound from Rio Grande to Pernam-
buco. The captain and crew of this vessel were all negroes,
the lowest of whom was six feet high. We inquired from the
sable commander what was his longitude ; but he could not give
us any information on the subject! After setting this unfortunate navigator right, we pursued our course; and the wind still
continuing fresh, we were quickly emancipated from the scorching influence of a vertical sun.
On the 10th of December, in latitude 39°, we spoke the
American ship Manilla, Captain M'Lean, on her return from a
whaling voyage, and bound to Nantucket, Rhode Island. The
captain came on board, and politely waited till we had written
a few letters, of which he took charge. A few days after this
we lost sight of the celebrated Magellanic clouds,^ which had
teen visible almost from the time we crossed the Equator.
That these nebulae should be so immutable in their form and
station, has been a source of no trifling perplexity to our natural philosophers. As so much ink has already been consumed
in speculations respecting these phenomena, and such various
and conflicting opinions elicited from the most learned astronomers of the last and present age, I conceive it would be presumptuous in me to offer a single word on the subject. These
clouds are white, jand in shape nearly resemble an equilateral
triangle, rounded at each angular point.
On the 21st of December, at 5 a. m., land was discovered on
our weather-bow. The captain pronounced it to be the coast of
Patagonia; and acting on this opinion, we kept along-shore, in
order to pass between the Falkland Islands and the mainland; but,
strange to tell! at noon, when he obtained a meridian observation, he discovered that what he previously conceived to be the
Patagonian coast was in reality a part of the Falkland Islands.
To account for this mistake, it is proper to mention, that during
the preceding ten days the haziness of the weather precluded
the possibility of our obtaining either a solar or lunar observation : we therefore were compelled to sail entirely by dead-
reckoning. To this may be added the effect of a strong westerly current: and had the obscure weather continued but a day
longer, the consequences might have proved fatal.
As the wind was fair, and we had proceeded so far, the captain abandoned his original intention, and determined to sail round
the eastern extremity of the islands, and from thence to shape
his course for Cape Horn. We coasted along the shore until
the 24th, with light westerly and south-westerly breezes.—
Albatrosses, penguins, and pintado birds were very numerous
--—_.., .": _
around the ship. We shot several, and took others with a
hook and bait. One albatross which we caught in this manner
received but little injury. It had an enormously large bill,
measured eleven feet from wing to wing when extended, and
kept a fierce English bull-dog at bay for half an hour.
Although the Falkland Islands occupy in the southern hemisphere a similar degree of latitude to that of Ireland in the northern, still they possess none of the characteristic fertility of the
" Emerald Isle." Of grass, properly so called, there is none in
those islands. In vegetable and animal productions they are
also deficient; and the climate, generally speaking, is cold, variable, and stormy : yet for such a place the British empire was
on the point of being involved in a war, the preparations for
which cost the nation some millions !*
On the 24th we took leave of the islands vv$fh a gentle breeze
right aft, but this changed ere we had cleared the Sea-lion rocks
to a violent head gale. All the lighter sails werejlftantly furled;
in the hurry of doing which, the gaskets or small ropes which
bound the flying jib gave waypsand two sailors were sent out to*
adjust it. While they were in the act of performing this hazardous duty, a tremendous wave struck the forepart of the ship, carried away the jib-boom, and with it the two unfortunate men who
were securing the sail. The ship was immediately hove to, and
every piece of timber, empty barrel, or hen-coop on deck was
thrown over to afford the unfortunate men a chance of escape.
Unhappily, all our efforts were unavailing; the poor fellows remained in sight about ten minutes, when they disappeared amid
the raging billows. When the accident occurred, two of the
ship's company jumped into the jolly-boat, and with all the
thoughtless good-nature of sailors, were about cutting away the
lashings to go to the assistance of their ill-fated messmates, when
the captain observing them, ordered them out of the boat, exclaiming, "D—n you, have you a mind to go to hell also If
This was the most gloomy Christmas-eve I ever spent. The
above melancholy accident had thrown a cloud over every countenance , and when to this was added the darkness of the cabin
(the dead-lights being all in), with the loud roaring of the storm,
and the Alpine waves threatening every instant to ingulf us, our
situation may be more easily imagined than described. Home,
with all its mild and social endearments at this season of general
festivity, involuntarily obtruded itself on our recollections. The
half-expressed wish of being once more on terra firma was unconsciously communicated from one to another.    But when we
* It may be remembered that our ejection from*these islands by Buccarelli, a
Spanish officer, brought the celebrated Samuel Johnson in collision with Junius.
looked upon the weather-beaten face of our veteran captain, and
observed the careless, if not contented air of his officers and
crew, when we felt that they were enduring the " peltings of the
pitiless storm" unmoved and without a murmur; and when we
reflected on the immense expanse of ocean through which we
had to plough our way, and how fruitless would be the indulgence of unmanly apprehension,—" to the wind we gave our
sighs," ascended to the deck, and tendered our feeble assistance
to the captain.
The gale continued with much violence until the 29th ; when,
at two p. m. we made Staten Land. At four p. m. we perceived
the " snow-topped" mountains of Terra del Fuego, rearing their
majestic heads above the clouds, and surveying with cold indifference the conflict of the contending oceans that on all sides
surround them. As we approached Cape Horn the weather
moderated, and the captain ordered all the lighter masts and
yards again to be rigged.
January 1st, 1812, at two p. m., on this day, we bade adieu
to the Atlantic, and sailed round the long-dreaded southern
extremity of America, with a gentle breeze from the N.N.W. at
the rate of one mile per hour, and under top-gallant studding-
sails ; a circumstance, I believe, unparalleled in the history of
Towards evening the wind died away, and
Not a breeze disturb'd the wide serene.
Our entrance into the great Pacific was marked by none of
those terrible concussions of the " vasty deep," the frequency of
which have given such a fearful celebrity to Cape Horn. It
seemed as if the two mighty oceans had ceased for a period their
dreadful warfare, and mingled their waters in the blessed calm
of peace. On our right rose the wild inhospitable shores of
Terra del Fuego; on the left lay the low desert islands of Diego
Ramarez; while all around myriads of whales, porpoises, and
other marine monsters, emerging at intervals from the deep, and
rolling their huge bodies over the placid surface of the surrounding element, agreeably diversified the scene.
This calm was of short duration. On the" following day the
wind shifted once more ahead, and drove us as far as 61° S. before we cleared Cape Noire, the south-western point of Terra del*
Fuego. During this period we had a succession of cold boisterous weather,and occasionally came in collision with large masses
of floating ice, from which we however escaped without injury.
It is unnecessary to mention to my^geographical readers that
the period at which we .doubled the Cape is the summer season
in the high southern latitudes; and if such be its attractions in
the balmy season of the year, what a region must it be on the
arrival of
Barren Winter, with his nipping colds !
We are informed by the early geographers that Terra del
Fuego was so called from several volcanoes which contrasted
their vivid flames with the surrounding icy wastes: and from
the same authority we learn that Patagonia, which is on the
opposite side of the Straits of Magellan, was inhabited by a
race of people of immense stature. Modern travellers, however,
have obtained a more correct knowledge of that country, and
have reduced the wonderful altitude of the supposed giants to
the common standard of humanity. Young travellers should
not make rash assertions, particularly if opposed to the received
opinions of the world, I cannot however avoid saying, that it
is my belief there is no better foundation for the volcanoes than
there was for the accounts of the giants. For several days that
we were in sight of this supposed land of fire, we did not observe the smallest appearance of smoke; and our captain, who
had made many voyages round Cape Horn, declared he had
never perceived the slightest volcanic appearance in its neighbourhood.
On the 12th of January, the wind veered in our favour, and
enabled us to proceed with brisk southerly breezes till the 19th,
on which day, in lat. 52°, long. 79° W, nearly abreast of the Straits
of Magellan, we encountered a most dreadful gale from the eastward, which lasted eighteen hours. Our ship was a sttout, strong-
built vessel, notwithstanding which she sustained considerable
damage. The bulwarks were completely washed away; the head
carried off; the mainmast and bowsprit sprung ; and the foresail,
which was the only one set, was blown to a thousand shivers. We
shipped several heavy seas in the cabin, and for some time all our
trunks were floating. The violence of the storm, however, moderated on the 20th, and enabled us once more to bring the vessel
under control: had it continued twelve hours longer, we should
inevitably have been dashed to pieces on the iron-bound shores of
Terra del Fuego; for, at the period the hurricane broke, we were
not twenty-five leagues from shore; and owing to the unmanageable state of the vessel, the wind was driving us with unopposed
force in that direction. The billows made sad havoc among the
remainder of our live-stock. The sheep, poultry, and most of
our hogs were carried away; and a few only of the last, fortunately for us, escaped drowning, to die by the hands of the
On the 27th a young man named Henry Willetts, who had
been engaged as a hunter in the Company's service, died of the
1 *—- "iiTrf-ia r
black scurvy, a disease which it is supposed he had contracted
previous to his embarkation, as no other person on board had
any scorbutic affection. As many of my readers may not be
acquainted with the melancholy ceremony of consigning the
body of a fellow-being to the deep, I shall mention it. The deceased was enveloped in his blankets, in which two large pieces
of lead were sewed, and placed immediately under his feet.
The body was then laid on a plank, one end of which rested on
the railing, and the other was supported by his comrades, the
crew and passengers forming a circle about it. The beautiful
and sublime burial service of the church of England was then
read in an audible and impressive manner by Mr. Nicolls, who
officiated as chaplain, after which the plank was raised, the body
with the feet downwards slided gently into the ocean, and in a
moment we lost sight of it for ever.
On the 4th of February, at 2 p. m., we made the island of
Juan Fernandez ; and at six, that of Massafuero, at the latter of
which the captain determined to touch for a supply of wood
and water. It was on the former island, in the beginning of
the eighteenth century, that Alexander Selkirk, a Scotchman, resided for several years, and from whose rude indigested story
the ingenious De Foe, by adding the fictitious Friday, &c. has
given to the world the delightful romance of Robinson Crusoe.
On the morning of the 5th we stood in to about five miles off
shore, when the ship was hove to ; and at six o'clock we proceeded for the island in the pinnace and jolly-boat, with twenty-
four empty water-casks. Our party, including mates, passengers, and sailors, amounted-to twenty-three. A heavy surf
broke along the beach, and after searching in vain for a fair
opening to disembark, we were reduced to the disagreeable
necessity of throwing ourselves through the surf, and succeeded
in accomplishing a landing at the imminent risk of our lives.
After making a cheering fire to dry our clothes, we divided into
two parties for the purpose of exploring the island. Messrs.
Clarke, Clapp, and Seton formed one ; and Messrs. Nicolls,
Halsey, and myself the other; Messrs. Rhodes, Dean, and
Ehninger remained in the boats, and at the landing-place, to
superintend the watering and fishing business.
The island appears to be one vast rock, split by some convulsion of nature into five or six parts. It was through one of these
chasms that our party determined to proceed; and accoutred
each with a fowling-piece, horn and pouch, we set forward in
quest of adventures. The breadth of the aperture at its entrance did not exceed fifty feet, and it became narrower as we
advanced; through the bottom meandered a clear stream of
fine water, from which the boats were supplied, and which
proved of great service to us in the course of our excursion.
We had not proceeded more than half a mile when we encountered so many difficulties in climbing over steep rocks,
passing ponds, waterfalls, &c, that we were compelled to
leave our guns behind us. Thus disembarrassed, we continued
our course for upwards of two miles up a steep ascent, following the different windings of the stream, which, at intervals,
tumbling over large rocks, formed cascades which greatly impeded our progress.
In proportion as we advanced, the daylight seemed to recede,
and for some time we were involved in an almost gloomy darkness, on account of the mountain tops on each side nearly forming a junction. We now regretted the want of our guns, as
we observed a great number of goats on the surrounding precipices ; and the dead bodies of several, in a more or less decayed
state, which we supposed must have fallen in bounding from
cliff to cliff, and ascending the slippery and almost perpendicular
hills among which they vegetate. A little further on, on turning
the point of a projecting rock, we were agreeably relieved by
the bright rays of the sun, which shone with great splendour on
the chaotic mass of rocks by which we were encompassed.
Reanimated by the presence of this cheering object, we redoubled our pace, and were already congratulating ourselves with
being near the summit of the mountain (which froin the height
we had ascended must have been the case), when our progress
was arrested by a large pond, upwards of twenty feet deep ;
and from the steepness of the rocks on each side, it was impossible to pass it except by swimming. We therefore determined to return before night overtook us in such a dreary place;
and after encountering fifty hair-breadth escapes, reached the
watering-place about seven o'clock, hungry as wolves, and
almost fatigued to death. Here we found the other party, who
had arrived a short time before us. Messrs. Clark and Clapp
shot two fat goats; and Mr. Dean, who with three men remained in the boats, caught between three and four hundred
excellent fish, out of which we succeeded in making an excellent supper.
Sixteen of the casks being now filled, Mr. Rhodes judged it
expedient to proceed with them to the ship, and to return the
following day for the remainder. Ten were made fast to the
pinnace and six to the jolly boat, and at one o'clock, a. m., on
the morning of the 6th, after some hours' hard rowing, we
reached the ship, amid a storm of thunder, lightning, and rain.
During that day it blew too fresh to permit the boats to return,
and we kept standing off and on till the 7th, when the breeze
'moderated, and enabled us to bring off the remaining casks.
Massafuero rises abruptly from the sea, and has but a narrow^
strip of beach. It was formerly well stocked with seals, but
these animals have been nearly destroyed by American whalers.
The goats are numerous, but too rancid to be used for food,
except in cases of necessity. The island also appears to be
devoid of wood. The carpenter, who went on shore for the purpose of procuring some that could be used in building a boat,
found only a few pieces with a close grain, very hard, and in
colour resembling box: it was fit only for knees. Mr. Clapp's
party, in their tour, which was along the beach, around the western extremity of the island, saw none of this necessary article;
and in the cleft of the mountain through which our party proceeded, we observed only a few trees of the kind found by the
carpenter, growing among inaccessible rocks. The most valuable production of Massafuero is undoubtedly its fish, of which
there is a great variety. No one on board was able to appropriate names to all we toQk. The smallest is a species of whiting, and very delicate when fried. The largest bears a strong
resemblance to cod, and by some of our people was deemed
superior. There are also several kinds of bass, herring, crabs,
&c. We caught a few conger eels ; the most disgusting I ever
saw; but, as a counterbalance, the Massafuero lobster, for largeness of size, beautiful variety of colours, and deliciousness of
taste, is, I believe, unrivalled.
With the exception of the fish, there is nothing to induce a
vessel to touch at this place, while the fruitful island of Juan
Fernandez is so near, but a desire, as was our case, of concealing the object of its voyage from the inquisitive and jealous eyes
of the Spanish authorities, who were stationed at the latter
A few days after leaving Massafuero we got into the trade-
winds, which wafted us on at an even, steady rate, varying from
four to seven knots an hour.
A curious incident occurred on Sunday, the 23d of February,
early on the morning of which day a hog had been killed ; a practice which had been generally observed every Sabbath morning
during the voyage. After breakfast, the weather being calm, a
number of the crew and passengers amused themselves by bathing
around the vessel. Some of them had returned on board, when a
sailor on the forecastle discovered a large shark gliding slowly and
cautiously under the starboard bow. With great presence of mind
* While Spain held possession of South America every vessel touching at
Juan Fernandez was subjected to a rigorous search ; and from the number of
our guns, joined to the great quantities of warlike stores on board, the captain
did not deem it prudent to run the risk of an inquisitorial inspection. I should
hope the officers of the Chilian republic stationed here have adopted a more
liberal .policy.
he instantly seized a small rope called a clew-line, and with characteristic despatch made a running knot, which he silently lowered into the water: the monster unwarily passed the head and
upper fin through the noose; on observing which, the sailor jerked
the rope round the cat-head, and with the assistance of some
of his messmates, succeeded in hauling it on deck. In the mean
time, those who were still sporting in the water were almost paralyzed on hearing the cry of | a shark! a shark!" and not knowing on which side of them lay the dreaded danger, some made
for the ship, and others swam from it; each momentarily expecting to come in contact with
His jaws horrific, armM with threefold fate, ^pit
when their fears were dissipated by announcing to them the welcome intelligence of his caption. On dissecting him, the entire
entrails of the hog which had been killed in the morning were
found in his belly ! so that he must have been alongside during
the whole of the forenoon, and was doubtless intimidated by the
number of the swimmers from attacking any of them individually.
On the 4th of March we crossed the Equator, for the second
time this voyage, with a brisk south-easterly breeze; and on the
25th, at daybreak, we made the island of Owhyee, the largest
in the group of the Sandwich Islands. It was the captain's original intention to stop at this place for his supplies: but on approaching Karakakooa bay we were informed by some natives,
who came off in canoes, that Tamaahmaah, the king, then resided
in Whoahoo. As we were anxious, for several reasons, to have
an interview with his majesty, the captain relinquished the idea
of stopping here, and stood about for the latter island.
As we sailed along Owhyee, with a fine easterly breeze;
nature and art displayed to our view one of the finest prospects I
ever beheld. The snow-clad summit of the gigantic Mouna
Roah, towering into the clouds, with its rocky and dreary sides,
presented a sublime coup d'osil, and formed a powerful contrast
to its cultivated base, and the beautiful plantations interspersed
along the shore. Eternal winter reigned above, while all beneath
flourished in the luxuriance of perpetual summer. The death,
too, of the ill-fated and memorable Cook will attach a melancholy
celebrity to this island; as it was here that that great navigator was sacrificed in a temporary ebullition of savage fury, and
closed a brilliant career of services, which reflect honour on his
country, and will perpetuate his name to the latest posterity.
As the wind continued fresh, we soon cleared Owhyee, an$
passed in succession the islands of Mowee, Ranai, Morotoi, and
in the evening came in sight of Whoahoo.   While we sailed
along this interesting group of islands several Indians boarded
us, from whom we purchased a few hogs, some melons, plantains, &c.    It being too late to attempt anchoring this evening,
we stood off and on during the night.
Whoahoo—Visit from a chief—Nocturnal excursion—King and Queens—Invasion of the ship—While men—Gardens—Foot race, and summary justice
—Throwing the spear—Royal residence, and body-guard—Mourning for
a chief's wife—Billy Pitt, George Washington, &c.
On Thursday the 26th of March, at noon, we came to anchor
outside of the bar in Whytetee bay, about two miles from shore,
and nearly abreast of a village from which the bay is named.
A short time after anchoring we were visited by an eree or
chief, named Tiama, in a double canoe, who was sent by the king
to learn from whence the ship came, whither bound, &c. After
obtaining the necessary information, and taking a glass of
wine, he returned, and was accompanied by the captain, who
went on shore in order to acquaint his majesty with the particular object he had in touching here. Tiama informed us that a
taboo* was then in force, Which accounted for our not being
visited by any of the natives. At ten o'clock the captain came
back with Tiama. He had met with a favourable reception
from Tamaahmaah, who promised to expedite his departure as
soon as possible.
Mr. Nicolls observing the chief preparing to return, and being
impatient to go on shore, proposed that the passengers should
accompany him: this was opposed by others; upon which it
was put to the vote, when four appearing in its favour, the
motion was of course carried. The ayes were Messrs. Nicolls,
Clapp, Halsey, and myself: the minority chose to remain on
board. The weather was calm, and we took with us a couple
of flutes. Our canoe went on briskly until we passed the channel of the bar, when a most delightful nocturnal prospect
opened on us. The serenity of the sky and the brightness of
the moon enabled us to discern objects distinctly on shore. The
village of Whytetee, situated in an open grove of cocoanut-
trees, with the hills rising gently in the rear, presented a charming perspective by moonlight, while the solemn stillness of the
night,interrupted at intervals by the hoarse murmurs of the surges,
* See Cook, Vancouver, &c.
as they broke over the bar, rendered the scene in the highest
degree romantic* On landing we found the beach covered
with a concourse of natives, whom the sound of our flutes had
attracted thither: they came pressing on us in such crowds, that
were it not for the chief's authority, we should have had considerable difficulty in forcing a passage through them. About
midnight we reached the village, and Tiama conducted us to his
house, where we experienced a hospitable reception from his
family, which consisted of three strapping wives, two handsome
daughters, and a brother, about twenty years of age. A young
pig lost its life by our arrival, on which, with some cocoanuts
and bananas, we made an excellent supper. Tiama's brother
was our major domo: he attached himself particularly to Nicolls,
who called him Tom ; and as a compensation for his trouble and
obliging attention to us, made him a present of his stockings,
which, unfortunately for poor Tom, were silk ones. He was so
proud of the gift, that he immediately put them over his olive-
coloured calves, and without any shoes, he continued walking
and working about the house: this was usage to which silk stockings were not accustomed, and the consequence was that before
morning their soles had vanished. Our repast being finished,
the chief ordered a bevy of young females, who since our arrival had been hovering about the house, to entertain us with one
of their native airs : they at once complied, and having formed
themselves into a semicircle, sang in' rather an harmonious man-
ner: their languishing eyes, and significant pauses, evidently
showed without the aid of. an interpreter that the subject was
amatory. This over, Tom conducte4^fe^to a neat lodge which
Tiama had allotted for our use, and irf^hich we enjoyed the remainder of the night in undisturbed repose on soft beds of island
On the following morning we arose early, and took a refreshing walk on the seashore, after which we returned to the ship
in Tiama's canoe. Our appearance was a subject of merriment
to those on board. One bare-legged, another without his cravat,
the coat of a third closely buttoned up to conceal the absence of
his vest; all in fact lighter than when we set out; but nothing
was purloined. We had been hospitably entertained by the
chieftairfand his family; gratitude demanded a return, and as
we had omitted to furnish ourselves with trinkets, we could only
supply the deficiency by parting with a portion of our least
useful clothing.
As the taboo had ceased to operate this day, we found the
vessel crowded with natives bartering their produce with our
people. At noon we were honoured by a visit from their majesties, the king and four queens, attended by Krimacoo, the prime
king and queens*
minister, and several of the principal chiefs,   together with
Messrs. Maninna and Hairbottle, two white men, the former a
Spaniard, who held the office of chief interpreter to the king*
and the latter an Englishman, and head pilot of his majesty's -
The king and queens came in a large double canoe, which
Was formed by lashing two canoes together, separated by bars of
two and a half feet in length from each other. Each canoe had
fourteen chosen men. On the bars was raised a kind of seat on
which the queens reposed, and above all was placed an arm-
chest well stored with muskets, on which the king
Above the rest,
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Sat like—a tailor.
Immediately before his majesty was a native who carried a
handsome silver-hilted hanger, which was presented to him by
the late emperor of Russia, and which on state occasions he had
always carried before him, in imitation, as we supposed, of
European sword-bearers. Behind the royal personage sat
another native who carried a large and highly polished bowl of
dark-brown wood, into which his majesty ever and anon ejected
all his superabundant saliva.
After he had arrived on the deck, Tamaahmaah shook hands
in the most condescending manner with every one he met between the cabin and the gangway, exclaiming to each person,
" Aroah, Aroah nuee" (I love you, I love you much). There
was a degree of negligent simplicity about his dress, which
strongly characterized the royal philosopher. His head was
crowned with an old woollen hat; the coat was formed of
coarse blue cloth in the antique shape, with large metal buttons j
the waistcoat of brown velvet, which in its youthful days had
been black; a pair of short, tight, and well worn velveteen
pantaloons displayed to great advantage coarse worsted stockings and thick-soled shoes, all admirably adapted for the tropics ;
while his shirt and cravat, which had formerly been white,
seemed to have had a serious misunderstanding with their washerwoman. Such, gentle reader, was the costume of Tamaahmaah the First, king of the Sandwich Islands, hereditary* prince
of Owhyee, and protector of a confederation of escaped convicts from New South Wales !*
The royal party remained on board to dine.    The king only
* Tamaahmaah was hereditary king of Owhyee only; he subsequently
conquered all the other islands. A number of convicts are at Whoahoo, who
escaped from Botany Bay by means of American vessels, and who reside here
in security.
gat at table,an(jypis placed at the right-hand of the captain, with
the attendant w|reF c^jj^ied his saliva reservoir behind him. He
ate voraciously, and in a very commendable manner washed
down the solids with a fair quantum of Madeira, to the virtues
of which he appeared by no means to be a stranger. On filling
the first glass he drank our healths individually ; after which he
plied away nobly, and apparently unconscious of the presence of
any of the company. He did not touch the port, but finished
between two and three decanters of the Madeira. As the ladies
are prohibited from eating with the men, we were of course
deprived of the pleasure of their society at our repast; but after
we had quitted the table they were graciously permitted to occupy our seats. Their dinner had been dressed on shore by
their own cooks, and was brought by them on board ; it consisted of small raw fish, roasted dogs, and a white mixture
called pooah, of the consistence of flummery : this last they take
by dipping the two forefingers of the right hand into the dish
which contains the pooah, and after turning them round in the
mixture until they are covered with three or four coats, they
raise the hand, and giving the fingers a dexterous twist, to
shake off the fag-ends, bring them forward rapidly to the mouth,
which is ready open for their reception, and by a strong labial
compression, they are quickly cleared of their precious burden !
But in plain unadorned simplicity of dress, they far exceeded
their royal consort. It merely consisted of a long piece of
their country cloth wrapped in several folds round the waist,
and reaching only to the knees, leaving the breasts and legs exposed to the criticisms of amateurs in female beauty; to this
they occasionally add a scarf of the same material, which is negligently thrown over the shoulders, and falls behind.. They are
very corpulent: the favourite measured nearly nine feet in circumference round the waist; and the others were not much inferior in size.   We may say of the royal taste, that
They were chosen as we choose old plate,
Not for their beauty, but their weight.
Still they possess mild engaging countenances, with that | soft
sleepiness of the eye"* by which Goldsmith distinguishes the
beauties of Cashmere. |ETheir conduct is under strict surveillance. Mr. Hairbottle informed us that a few days previous to
our arrival, an intrigue had been discovered between the favourite queen and one of the king's body-guard. As their guilt admitted of no doubt, the uitfortunate paramour was strangled on
the same night ; but as Tamaahmaah still cherished a lingering
affection for his frail favourite, he pardoned her, with the short
but pithy expression," If you do it again—."
During the afternoon the king employed himself in taking the
dimensions of the ship, examining the cabirflPate-rooms, &c.
Scarcely an object escaped the royal scrutiny: observing Mr.
Seton writing, he approached him, and began to examine the various little knicknacks with which the desk was furnished. Seton
showed him a handsome penknife of curious workmanship, containing a number of blades, not with an intention of bestowing
it: with this he appeared particularly pleased, and putting it
into one of the pockets of his capacious vest, said, " Mytye, nue
nue mytye" (good, very good), and wajked away. It was in
vain for SetorL to expostulate ; his majesty did not understand
English, and all entreaties to induce him to return the penknife
were ineffectual. On the following day, however, a chief
brought Seton a handsome present from the king, of mats,
cloth, and other native productions, with two hundred fine
In the course of the evening the queens played draughts with
some of our most scientific amateurs, whom they beat hollow;
and such was the skill evinced by them in the game, that not
one of our best players succeeded in making a king.
Late in the evening our illustrious guests took their departure,
accompanied by all their attendants ; but they had scarcely
embarked in their canoes when the ship was boarded on all
sides by numbers of women, who had come off in small canoes
paddled by men or elderly females, and who, after leaving their
precious cargo on deck, returned quickly to the island, lest the
captain should refuse his sanction to their remaining in the vessel.
They crowded in such numbers about the crew as to obstruct
the performance of their duty, and the captain threatened
to send them all on shore in the ship's boats if they did not
behave themselves with more propriety. This had the desired
effect, and while they remained on board they gave no further
cause for complaint.
On the following morning, the 28th, we weighed anchor, and
worked the ship a few miles higher up, exactly opposite the village of Honaroora, where the king resided. We spent the day
on shore, at the house of a Mr. Holmes, a white man, and a
native of the United States, by whom we were sumptuously
entertained. He had been settled here since the year 1793, and at
the period I speak of was, next to the king, the greatest chief
on the island. He had one hundred and eighty servants, or
under-tenants, whom he called slaves, and who occupied small
huts in the immediate vicinity of his house. He had also
extensive plantations on Whoahoo, and on the island of Morotoi,
from whence he derived a considerable income. He was mar-
lied to a native wife, by whom he had several children.   The
eldest was a mqn^iter.e^^hg girl, aged about fifteen years, with
a peculiarly softjfcpljtopressive countenance. Nature, in her
freaks, had bestSifed *Hpon this island beauty an extraordinary
profusion of hair, in which the raven tresses of the mother were
strangely intermingled with the flaxen locks of the father. She
spoke tolerably good English, and always sat near him. He
appeared to watch her conduct with all the parental solicitude
of a man who, from long experience, well knew the danger to
which she was exposed from the general demoralization of manners that prevailed about her. Mr. Holmes is greatly respected
by the natives, by whom he is entitled Eree Homo, or the Chief
As we met here several other respectable white men, I shall
mention their names ; and first, Mr. Maninna. This gentleman
had been a Spanish officer, and in consequence of having while
stationed at Mexico killed a superior officer in a quarrel, he fled
to California, from whence he escaped to the Sandwich Islands,
where, having acquired the language with wonderful facility, he
was appointed to the office of chief interpreter. He was a man
of general information, spoke French and English fluently, and
from his easy manners and insinuating address, shortly became
a general favourite. He had built a handsome stone house, the
only one on the island, in which he resided with his wife, who
was the daughter of a chief: her sister lived also in the same
house; and the busy tongue of scandal, which even here has
found an entrance, did not hesitate to say that the two sisters
equally participated in his affections. His drawing-room was
decorated with a number of Chinese paintings, which he obtained
from Canton, of the crucifixion, the Madonna, different saints,
&e.; but on removing a sliding pannel from the opposite side,
subjects of a far different nature were represented !   j
Mr. Davis, the ^king's gardener, was a Welshman, and at this
period had been settled on the island twelve years. He had also
considerable plantations, and had a native wife, who was a most
incontinent jade. He had just returned from a distant part of
the island, whither he had been in pursuit of his faithless cara
sposa, who had eloped a few days before with one of her native
beaux. Poor Davis felt rather sore on being bantered by old
Holmes on this affair. " Tam the strap," said he, "I cot her snug
enough to be sure with her sweetheart; but I think she'll remem-
per the pasting I gave her all the tays of her life." We were
informed he might have easily parted from her, and-procured a
more suitable match, but he was unfortunately too much attached
to her to think of taking another.
Mr. Hairbottle, the chief pilot, is a native of Berwick, and was
formerly boatswain of an English merchant ship,    He had resi-
ded upwards of fourteen years on the different islands, and had
been married to a native wife, who was dead for some years.
He was a quiet, unassuming old man,^whos© principal enjoyments consisted in a glass of rum grog and a pipe of tobacco.
Mr. Wadsworth, an American. This gentleman had been
chief mate of a ship which had touched here about six years
before. Having quarrelled with his captain, they separated, and
he took up his residence in the island. The king, who gave particular encouragement to white men of education to settle here,
immediately presented Wadsworth with a belle brunette for a
wife, together with a house and some hogs.
Here we also found a gentleman from New-York, under the
assumed name of Cook; but who was recognized by Mr. Nicolls
as a member of a highly respectable family in that city, named
S s.    He had, like Wadsworth, been also chief officer of
an American East Indiaman, which had touched here about three
months previous to our arrival; and in consequence of a misunderstanding with the captain, he left the ship, and took up his
abode with Mr. Holmes. On hearing of this circumstance,
Tamaahmaah, as an encouragement to his settling permanently
on the island, gave him the daughter of a principal chief for a
wife, some land,  and a number of hogs.    S s, however,
did not appear to relish his situation : he had been too long accustomed to the refinements of civilization at once to adapt
himself to Indian habits, and received with apathy the fond
caresses of his olive-coloured spouse. He expressed a desire to
return in our ship, but the captain's arrangements could not
permit it. sS§|S
While on this subject I may as well mention that the example
of Wadsworth and  S s seemed to be contagious ; for a
few days after our arrival Mr. Dean, our third officer, had a serious altercation with the captain, which ended in his quitting the
ship; and on its coming to the king's knowledge, he sent for him,
and told him if he would remain, and take charge of his fleet,
he would give him a house and lands, plenty of hogs, and a beautiful daughter of a chief for a wife. Dean told him he had not
yet made up his mind on the subject, and requested time to consider the offer. The king did not object, and the interview ended.
I believe, however, that Dean subsequently quitted the island,
and returned to New-York.
Mr. Holmes gave us a plentiful dinner of roast pork, roast dog,
fowl, ham, fish, wine, and rum, with a profusion of excellent tropical fruit. A number of native servants attended at table, each
holding a napkin: they performed their duty in a very expert
manner, and appeared to be well acquainted with all the domestic
economy of the table.    Their livery was quite uniform, and.
consisted merely of a cincture of country cloth round the waist,
from which a narrow piece of the same stuff passed between the
legs, and was fastened to the belt, leaving the remainder of the
body totally uncovered! Our noble commander was vice-president, and undertook to carve the dog; which duty he performed
in a manner quite unique. He was the only one of our party
who partook of it. The idea of eating so faithful an animal
without even the plea of necessity effectually prevented any of
us joining in this part of the feast; although, to do the meat justice, it really looked very well when roasted. The islanders
esteem it the greatest luxury they possess; and no one under
the dignity of an eree of the first class is permitted to partake
of this delicious food. However singular their taste may be
regarded in this respect by modern civilization, my classical readers may recollect that the ancients reckoned dogs excellent eating, particularly when young and fat; and we have the authority
of Hippocrates for saying that their flesh is equal to pork or mutton : he also adds, that the flesh of a grown dog is both wholesome and strengthening, and that of puppies relaxing. The Romans, too, highly admired these animals as an article of food, and
thought them a supper in which the gods themselves would have
Independently of the white men whose names I have mentioned, there were about fourteen others, belonging to all nations,
the majority of whom were convicts who had effected their
escape from Botany Bay, and were held in no estimation by the
natives. They are supremely indolent, and rum and women
seemed to constitute their only enjoyment.
On the 29th we made an excursion into the interior with
Davis. His gardens were extensive, and pleasantly situated at
the foot of the hills, between four and five miles from JBbnaroora.
They were laid out with taste, and kept in excellent order. Exclusive of the indigenous productions of the country, with which
they were plentifully stocked, he planted a few years before
some Irish potatoes, and the crop more than equalled his expectations. We also observed some prime plantations of sugarcane. A few of those we measured had fourteen feet eatable,
and were one foot in circumference, which, I am informed, far
exceeds the best Jamaica canes. The climate of the Sandwich
Islands is, however, more propitious to the growth of the cane
than that of the West Indies, at which latter place it has, besides,
many enemies to encounter which are strangers to the islands
in the Pacific; such as monkeys, ants, bugs, the blast, &c, one or
other of which often destroys the fairest hopes of the planter.
The islanders distil an inferior spirit from it, which the resident
white people have dignified by the title of I country rum."   It
is weak, and has a smoky, insipid taste, and does not produce in
toxication except taken in large quantities.
On our way back we visited the king's gardens, which were
contiguous to Davis's. They were much more extensive than
4tisy although far inferior in neatness, and contained nothing particularly deserving notice. Davis was the only white man who
superintended his own plantations: the others were left to the
Management of their servants, and were seldom visited by the
proprietors; and as he was a good practical agriculturist, his
gardens were superior to any we saw on the island. In the
course of this tour we did not observe a spot that could be turned
to advantage left unimproved. The country all around the
bay exhibits the highest state of cultivation, and presents at one
view a continued range of picturesque plantations, intersected
by small canals, and varied by groves of cocoanut-trees; the
whole bounded on the background by gently sloping hills, and
in the front by the ocean. We returned late in the evening,
highly delighted with our day's excursion, and sat down to an
excellent dinner prepared for us by the worthy Cambrian, in
whose hospitable mansion we spent the night.
On the 30th we were present at a grand pedestrian racing
match, between Krikapooree, the king's nephew, and an American black named Anderson, who was his armourer: the latter
won, after a well contested struggle. The race-course presented
a novel and striking appearance. At the upper end was erected
a covered platform about twenty feet from the ground, on
Which the king sat cross-legged, and without any covering whatever, save the waistband commonly worn by the natives: his
guards, armed with muskets, paraded around the platform ;
while on each side, and close to the guards, were assembled
an immense concourse of natives of all classes, mingled together
without any regard to Tank, age, or sex. The two favourite
queens were richly dressed: one wore a light-blue satin gown,
trimmed with broad gold lace; the other had on a cream-coloured
riding-habit of cassimere, ornamented with silver lace, and a
profusion of sugar-loaf buttons, &c. These dresses were made
for them in England, fitted them admirably, and set off their
persons to great advantage. Tney walked through the crowd
along with several chiefs' wives, and seemed in a high degree to
enjoy the bustling scene before them. Betting was very spirited
on the issue of the race. Money of course was out of the
question ; but among the lower classes its place was supplied
by axes, beads, knives, scissors, handkerchiefs, and various-kinds
of trinkets; and among the erees of the first and second grades
we could distinguish scarlet and blue cloths, silks, Chinese shawls,
icalicoes, ribands, &c.   Several quarrels occurred among the
men, which were settled, a VAnglaise, by the fist. One of the
natives had a dispute about a bet with an English sailor, who
had been left here a short time before by his captain, for mutiny.
The Indian felt he was right, and refused to yield to the chicanery
of the sailor, who in order to intimidate him, drew from his
pocket a small pistol, which he cocked, and presented in a menacing manner at the islander's breast, swearing if he did not
submit he would shoot him: this however was disregarded by
the other, who seemed determined not to flinch ; but the king,
who had observed the whole transaction from his elevated position, ordered the sailor to be brought up to him, which was instantly complied with. He then took the pistol, and delivered
it to one of his attendants to be placed in the royal armory;
and addressing the sailor, told him the only punishment he
should then inflict on him would be the forfeiture of the pistol;
but in case he ever offended in the same manner again, he would
have him put to death. We were quite delighted with this summary administration of justice, for the sailor appeared to be a
quarrelsome rascal, and bore an infamous character among his
After the race was over, several wrestling and boxing matches
took place, on which there was also considerable betting. Some
of our party, who were amateur pugilists, declared their style of
hitting to be admirable ; but as I unfortunately never studied
the noble science of self-defence, I am quite incompetent to
hazard an opinion on the subject. I will however say, that no
unfair play was used, and that no blow was struck while a man
was down. At the termination of these encounters a large space
was formed, for two natives to display their skill in throwing the
spear. A full account of this wonderful performance is given in
Cook's Voyages ; and I can only add, that the amazing activity
evinced in avoiding each other's weapons, by leaping to the
right or left, or allowing them to pass under their arms, between
their legs, &c.; and their surprising dexterity and self-possession
in a situation in which a European would be transfixed ere he
had time to look about him, must be seen to be credited. This
exercise forms the amusement of their earliest years, and is the
neplus ultra of their education. No islander can take a wife
until he is able to withstand the attacks of any old warrior
whom the chief of his tribe may appoint to try him ; so that
this condemnation to celibacy, among a people so notoriously
amorous, contributes, I should imagine, more than any other
cause, to the wonderful perfection at which they have arrived in
this exercise.
>: Jn fr4nt of the royal residence there are planted thirty pieces
of cannon; fifteen on each side; chiefly six and nine pounders
a body-guard of handsome athletic young men are stationed
close to the house; two of whom are placed as sentinels at the
door, and are relieved with as much regularity as at any garrison
in England. In the daytime their muskets generally remain
piled before the door, but are taken in at night. These gardes-
du-corps have no particular dress to distinguish them from civilians ; and after the amusements just mentioned had ended, the
king ordered them to go through the manual and platoon exercises ; which, considering the limited means they have had for
learning, they performed with tolerable precision.
Shortly after quitting this noisy and bustling scene of mirth
and festivity, we were attracted by the sounds of mourning
voices, to a large house in a retired corner of the village ; in
front of which sat eight women, in a circle, all in a state of intoxication. At times their voices died away to a low mournful tone;
when, suddenly changing, they vented the wildest and most
frantic cries, tearing their hair, beating their breasts, and gnawing
the ends of their fingers : in the intervals they moistened their
parched throats from a bottle which was passed round from one
to the other; and after all had partaken of the libation, they renewed their cries with redoubled vigour. Their hanging breasts,
dishevelled hair, and fiery eyes, presented more the appearance
of furies than of human beings; and we were at first afraid to
approach them, apprehensive of an attack in the height of one
of their paroxysms. We were told, however, there was no danger, and they would injure no one save themselves. On inquiry,-
we ascertained that the dead body of a chief's wife of the
second class lay in an adjoining house, and that these women
were her friends and relatives mourning her death. This ceremony, although possessing a degree of rude lachrymose comicality, had nothing peculiarly interesting, and we quickly left the
Several of the chiefs have punctured on their arms the
names of celebrated English and American statesmen, captains of ships, &c. At the race-course I observed Billy Pitt,
George Washington, and Billy Cobbett, walking together in the
most familiar manner, and apparently engaged in confidential
conversation; while in the centre of another group, Charley
Fox, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Bonaparte, and Tom
Paine, were to be seen on equally friendly terms with each
other. They seem to be proud of these names, and generally
prefer them to their own. Krimacoo, the prime minister, is
called Billy Pitt, from the great influence he possesses. He is
consulted by the king on all subjects of importance; and in
cases of particular emergency, Mr. Holmes is sent for to give
his advice.
Tamaahmaah—The Eooranee—Curious custom—Fickleness in dress—Character of natives—Important position of the islands—Cow hunting—Complete our supplies—Take a number of natives—Departure—New discovery
—Arrival at the Columbia.
From this period until our departure we were honoured with
several visits from the royal family, principally connected with
the business of procuring our supplies. The king was a hard
bargain maker, and although he had several pipes of Madeira in
his stores, he would not barter a single article until he obtained a
quarter-cask of that wine, of which he was passionately fond.
He was by no means as generous as many of his subjects, and
he seldom committed an act of liberality without having a
particular object in view. He had upwards of forty small
schooners built by the natives, which were quite useless to
him from their ignorance of navigation ; and when he made the
presents which I have already mentioned to the officers who
had quarrelled with their captains, he had in view their settling
on the island, and availing himself of their services in teaching
the natives to navigate these vessels. The taboos of Tamaahmaah were often influenced by his dreams ; one of which gave
rise, while we remained here, to an extraordinary proclamation,
which ordered, that during the space of one day, " no native
should leave the island ; and that no dogs should bark, hogs
grunt, or cocks crow !" This whimsical prohibition was strictly
complied with by the islanders ; but I need scarcely state that
the three last-mentioned classes of his majesty's subjects did not
yield it the same ready obedience. This was called a dreaming
taboo, to distinguish it from the established ones, which occur at
stated periods, and are regulated by the high-priest.
At this time Tamaahmaah had only three children living, two
sons and one daughter. They were rather homely in their
appearance, and afforded a bad specimen of royal beauty. The
eldest son was about twenty years of age, and was called the
Eooranee. He possessed considerable authority, and was more
feared than his father, though not so much beloved. The following anecdote will show the dread in which he was held by the
natives. Some of the men engaged in the Company's employment had received permission to spend a day on shore: as they
did not return that night, I accompanied Mr. Clarke the following
morning in search of them; and after wandering about for some
time we discovered the party descending a hill near the village,
each with a lass under his arm, their hats decorated with flowers,
ribands, and handkerchiefs, and a fifer and fiddler at their head,
playing away merrily. They were all nearly § half-seas over,"
and were on their way to the ship when they perceived us.
They insisted in an humble good-natured manner on our taking
the lead; and as we were anxious to get them on board, we
accordingly joined them, and marched on at their head. We
had not proceeded far when the Eooranee met us, and he appeared so much pleased with the procession that he fell into the
ranks. As we approached the wharf, several of the natives, who
had been drawn by the sound of the music tp the party, retired
on seeing theyoung prince; but one unfortunate rascal, who was
quite drunk, annoyed us as we passed him, by pushing us and
pulling our clothes; and as the king's son was dressed like a
European, he treated him in the same manner; but I never saw
consternation so strongly depicted as when the poor wretch
looked up, and beheld the frowning countenance of the dreaded
Eooranee: the effect was instantaneous; he fell prostrate, as if
thunderstruck, and remained perfectly motionless until we lost
sight of him. We however did not part with the prince until
he had promised that no punishment should be inflicted on the
offending islander.
The male branches of the royal family are held in peculiar
veneration,, more particularly their heads. No individual, with
the exception of the domestics specially appointed for that purpose, is permitted to touch that part of their sacred person, or
any covering that has ever been on it, upon pain of death. My
ignorance of this law was near embroiling me in a serious
scrape. A few days after our arrival, while strolling on the
outskirts of the village, I observed an individual walking before
me dressed in a handsome green frockcoajL well-made pantaloons, and Hessian boots, followed by a native carrying the tail
of a white cow, which he used in driving away the flies that
annoyed his master. As I was given to understand that I had
been introduced to all the white men of respectability on the
island, I felt anxious to ascertain who this important personage
was, and therefore took a circuitous turn in order to have a front
view of him. It was the Eooranee. He called me to him, and
we sat down under the shade of some plantain-trees. He then
began to examine my clothes very minutely, and took off my
hat, which was a handsome one of Portuguese willow. While
this examination was going on, I felt a desire to look at his,
which was of a peculiarly fine texture, and therefore uncovered
the head of his highness with as little ceremony as he had
observed towards me ; but I had scarcely touched the forbidden
covering when I received a warm soufiet on the right cheek
from the attendant. Not knowing the cause of this aggression,
I determined on instant retaliation, and seizing a stone, was in
the act of hurling it at the fellow's head, when my arm was
arrested by the Eooranee, who begged of me, in broken English, to desist, and at the same time turned to his domestic, whom
he reprimanded with marks of evident displeasure, after which
he ordered him to retire.
While this was going on I observed Anderson the armourer
pass, to whom I related the circumstance. The king's son then
spoke to him for some time, after which Anderson told me that if
any islander had committed such an offence, instant death would
have followed; and added, that the prince begged him to assure
me that he deeply regretted the conduct of his domestic, who
should have distinguished between a stranger and a native, and
that he had dismissed him with disgrace. When Anderson had
finished, the Eooranee grasped my hand in the most friendly
manner; and as I felt satisfied with the explanation he had given,
I returned its pressure with equal warmth. At this period the
resident white people looked to his succession with considerable
apprehension, as he was supposed to entertain views hostile to
their interests. They might have been led to form this conclusion from his distant habits, and capricious tyranny towards his
immediate followers ; but I am happy to state their fears were
groundless; for on his accession to the supreme power at his
father's death, he treated them with marked indulgence, and held
out the greatest encouragement to white people to settle on the
island. The day after the circumstance above detailed I met
him near the king's house in a state of nudity, conversing with
some of the guards, and the same evening I again saw him in
the loose light dress of a West India planter. His father and
himself were very fickle in their clothing. I saw the old man
one day in the full dress of an English general, which had been
sent to him by his late majesty, George III.; but he felt so awkward in the cocked-hat, boots, &c, that he quickly got rid of
them, and a few hours afterward we saw him lounging about
the village, sans hat, sans coat, sans shirt, sans culottes, sans
every thing! On the death of the old king the Eooranee succeeded by the title of Tamaahmaah the Second.* At the
period of our visit they knew nothing of the Christian religion ; and the white professors of it who were resident among
them were badly calculated to inculcate its divine precepts.
Since then, however, thanks to the indefatigable and praiseworthy exertions of the missionaries, this rude, but noble-hearted
* This unfortunate prince is the same who, with his young queen, lately fell
victims to misjudged British hospitality, joifljato acclimate to which they were
unaccustomed. twt
race of people, have been rescued from their diabolical superstitions, and the greater part of them now enjoy the blessings of
Cook, Vancouver, Perouse, and others, have already written
so ably on the manners, customs, amusements, laws, religion,
and natural productions of these islands, that I might very probably subject myself to the charge of plagiarism, or book-
making, if I touched on them. To those therefore who feel
anxious for further information on these subjects, I would recommend the above authorities, in which they will have their
curiosity amply gratified. »$gj
The vice of thieving, attributed to the male inhabitants, is
rather exaggerated. It is certainly true that numbers of those
who visit trading ships are not scrupulous in appropriating to
their own use every trifling article on which they can conveniently lay their hands; but it should be observed they do not
consider such abstractions in the same light as if they robbed
each other. This circumstance I think it necessary to mention,
without attempting to justify it; for were we to consider all their
petty thefts in the same point of view that we are accustomed
to regard such offences in civilized countries, we should form a
very poor opinion of their honesty.
The women, too, have been generally accused of lascivious-
ness; but from what I saw, joined to the information I obtained,
I am induced to think the charge too general. It must, indeed,
be admitted, that the deportment of those who are in the habit
of frequenting trading ships is not calculated to impress a
stranger with a high idea of their virtue : but why make the
censure general ? If a native of Owhyee were to form his
opinion of the morality of our countrywomen from the disgusting
conduct of the unfortunate females who crowd our seaports and
ships, I should imagine he would entertain a very poor estimate
of English chastity. In the interior of the islands, and at a distance from seaports, I am informed that in the relative situations
of wife and mother, their conduct is irreproachable. It is true
that in the places at which ships are accustomed to touch, a universal depravity seems to pervade all classes ; for it is no uncommon sight to see parents bring their daughters, brothers their
sisters, and husbands their wives, to earn the wages of prostitution. These vices cannot, I fear, be totally eradicated; but it
is pleasing to learn, that through the active agency of the missionaries, their frightful predominancy has been greatly diminished.
In other respects, the natives are brave, active, hospitable, true
to their word, confiding, cleanly in their domestic economy,
easily satisfied at their meals, obedient to. proper authority, excellent agriculturists, quick in learning, with an aptitude for im-
provement that is really astonishing; and on the whole I would
say that their character presents a fairer field for success to the
exertions of the moral cultivator than that of any untutored
people whom I ever met.
Recent events seem destined to place the Sandwich Islands in
a much more important situation on the political map of the
world than they occupied fifteen or twenty years ago. While.
Spain had possession of Mexico, California, and the southern
continent, they were seldom visited but by fur traders, for the
purpose of refitting, or obtaining fresh provisions; and were
regarded by the world more as objects of curiosity than as places
from which any political advantages were likely to be derived.
But now that the Mexicans and Southern Americans have succeeded in emancipating themselves from the slothful despotism
of their ancient rulers, the native energies, of their character will
shortly begin to develop themselves; and uncontrolled by the
trammels which so long fettered their commercial prosperity, a
few years may see their fleets, in imitation of their bold and enterprising brethren of the northern continent, ploughing their
way through the Pacific, and, in exchange for their precious
metals, bringing back to their country the luxurious productions
of China and the Indies. The Sandwich Islands are nearly
equidistant from the western coast of Mexico and the eastern
boundaries of China, and consequently lie nearly in the track of
vessels passing between the two continents. But the circumstance of all others calculated to raise them to the highest degree
of importance, is the stupendous enterprise lately set on foot of
forming a junction between the Pacific and Atlantic, by cutting
a canal through the Isthmus of Darien. If this magnificent
undertaking succeed, the long and dangerous voyages round
Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope will be avoided, and
comparatively short and safe passages made to the western coast
of America, Japan, China, our East Indian possessions, &c.
In the course of^these voyages, particularly to the East, the
Sandwich Islands must be touched at for fresh supplies, or at
least closely passed. In either case they will become an important acquisition to a maritime power. With the assistance of
science they can be rendered impregnable ; and when we take
into consideration their great natural capabilities of defence,
their noble harbours, productive soil, and temperate climate,
joined to the inoffensive deportment of the inhabitants, we may
safely conclude that their present state of independence will not
be or long duration. It is probable they will ultimately become
tributary to Great Britain, Russia, or America; and in the event
of war between any of these nations, the power in possession of
the islands, from their commanding position, will be able during
" r-inrftiwmsiafc;;
the continuation of hostilities not only to control the commerce
of the Pacific, but also neutralize in a great degree the advantages likely to be derived from the Grand Junction Canal.
Several of our domestic quadrupeds are now reared on the
islands ; such as cows, sheep, goats, and horses. The last are
brought from California, and are a small hardy race. The cows
at Woahoo are the descendants of those left there by our navigators, and are perfectly wild. We purchased two of them from
the king; and he ordered upwards of one hundred men of his
body-guard, with several chiefs, to proceed to the place where
the animals were grazing, to assist us in catching those we had
bought. It was situated a few miles from the village, in a handsome valley, studded with cocoanut-trees; a couple of hundred
additional natives volunteered to join us. They proceeded cautiously in the first instance, until they surrounded the herd, which
they succeeded in driving into an enclosure. One more expert
than the rest then advanced under the cover of some trees with
a long rope, at the end of which was a running noose. Having
quietly waited for some time until a proper opportunity offered,
he at length threw the rope, and succeeded in catching a young
cow. On feeling the noose round her neck, she became quite
furious, and made a desperate plunge at him, which he skilfully
avoided by running up a cocoanut-tree ; having previously fastened one end of the rope round the trunk. We had intrenched
ourselves with the chiefs behind a stone wall, close to the herd ;
and being apprehensive that the captive might break loose, we
fired and shot her. Upon hearing the report, the herd rushed
furiously out of the enclosure and ran at the natives; but as
they had anticipated such a result, each man secured a retreat
behind a tree; and in a moment after the furious animals had
gained their freedom three hundred cocoanut-trees might have
been seen, each manned with a native, who looked down with
the full confidence of security on the enraged herd below.
Finding it impossible to catch another, we were obliged to fire
among them, and killed a second. A few shots without ball
were then discharged, which drove them to their own pasture,
and enabled the natives to descend. The king preserved these
cattle for the purpose of bartering with ships touching there for
provisions; and although he killed none for the royal table, he
very condescendingly accepted from us a present of a sirloin.
As we intended to engage some of the natives for the Company's service at the Columbia, and as the captain also required
some to assist in working the ship (several of the crew being
indifferent sailors), he demanded permission from Tamaahmaah
to engage the number that should be deemed necessary: this
was at once granted; and Messrs. Holmes and Maninna were
requested to act as recruiting sergeants on the occasion, which
duty they kindly undertook to perform. On the intelligence
being announced, the vessel was crowded with numbers, all
offering to " take on." With the assistance of the above gentlemen we selected twenty-six of the most able-bodied of these
volunteers: sixteen for the Company's service, and ten for the
ship's. We agreed to pay each man ten dollars a month, and a
suit of clothes annually. An old experienced islander, who
was called Boatswain Tom, and who had made several voyages
both to Europe and America, was engaged to command them :
he got fifteen dollars a month, and was to have the sole control
of his countrymen. Several of the females also volunteered to
accompany us, but we were obliged to decline their kind offers.
Mr. Wadsworth, of whom I have already spoken, was also
engaged for the Company's service, to act as an officer on sea or
land, as occasion should require. He brought his lady with
him, not being accustomed, as he declared, to live in a state of
single blessedness.
On the 5th of April we got all our supplies on board. They
consisted of sixty hogs, two boats full of sugarcane to feed
them, some thousand cocoanuts, with as much bananas, plantains, taro, melons, &c, as could be conveniently stowed in the
ship. The same evening we took leave of the king and royal
family, and bade adieu to our kind white friends ; after which
we embarked ; and on the following morning, Tuesday, April
the 6th, we weighed anchor and set sail for the Columbia.
Krikapooree, the king's nephew, and several young chiefs,
accompanied us three or four leagues from land, and took leave
of us with tears in their eyes. The addition we received to our
numbers in live-stock, joined to the cargo of fruit, &c, lumbered
our deck greatly and annoyed the crew in working the ship.
When any number of the natives were wanted to perform a particular duty, word was passed to Boatswain Tom; who, to do
him justice, betrayed none of the softer feelings of national partiality to his countrymen. The moment he gave " the dreadful
word" it was followed by a horrid yell; and with a rope's end
he laid on the back and shoulders of every poor devil who did
not happen to be as alert as he wished, accompanied by a laughable melange of curses in broken English, and imprecations in
his own language.
We had tolerably good easterly breezes, and nothing particular occurred until the 18th, at four p. m., when a man ahead cried
out "Land on the weather-bow!" As we were then not more
than half-way between the islands and the American continent,
we eagerly rushed on deck to feast our eyes with a view of our
new discovery.
After looking at it for some time very attentively through his
glass, the captain pronounced it to be an island, with a dark-brown
soil, and apparently destitute of vegetation; and added, with
marks of evident exultation, that he always felt certain we
should fall in with unknown islands in these latitudes (about 35°
north); and in that expectation had diverged materially from the
usual course of vessels proceeding to the North-west Coast. We
now sounded, but got no bottom with one hundred fathoms: and
while this was going on we were all busy in forming conjectures
respecting this terra incognita. The first thing to be decided on
was the name. One thought that Mr. Astor, being the owner of
the ship, and the founder of the company, had the best claim,
and therefore moved that it be called "Astor's Island:" this having
been seconded, an amendment was moved by another person,
who argued that the ship had a prior right to the honour,
and stated he would have it called " Beaver Island :" the amendment having been seconded, was about to be put, when the
captain declared that, fond as he was of his ship, and highly
as he respected his owner, he thought the claims of their
President superior to either, and that he would therefore, without consulting the wishes of any one, call it "Madison's Island."
Although there were few admirers of the president on board,
the captain's decision settled the controversy; for on such occasions he is always the high-priest. Mr. Clarke said, if it proved
anywise fruitful, he would colonize it, and appoint Wadsworth,
with his island beauty, king and queen. Some hoped the
inhabitants would not be afraid of white men; while others
cursed the inhabitants, particularly the females, and expressed a
wish that the new discovery would contain some cooling simples.
In the mean time, we kept standing under easy sail for this unknown paradise; but in proportion as we advanced the hills
seemed to ascend, and blend their craggy summits with the
passing clouds: a pale bright opening appeared to divide, the
land: and the sad conviction was at length forced on us, that
Madison's Island was based on a nebulous foundation: in fact,~it
turned out what sailors call " a Cape Flyaway island;" and all
our glorious speculations dissolved literally in nubibus.
This disappointment chagrined us much; but none felt it more
sensibly than the captain, who was quite chapfallen on the occasion. However, on the 1st of May, we made the real terra firma
in lat. 41° N., Cape Orford in sight. We coasted along-shore
until the 5th, when we had the happiness of beholding the
entrance of the long-wished-for Columbia, which empties itself
into the Pacific in lat. 46° 19' N., and long. 124° W. Light baffling winds, joined to the captain's timidity, obliged us to stand
off and on until the 8th, on which day we descried a white flag
hoisted on Cape Disappointment, the northern extremity of the
land at the entrance of the river. A large fire was also kept
burning on the cape all night, which served as a beacon. A dangerous bar runs across the mouth of the Columbia; the channel
for crossing it is on the northern side close to the cape, and is
very narrow, and from thence to the opposite point on the southern side, which is called Point Adams, extends a chain or reef
of rocks and sandbanks, over which the dreadful roaring of the
mighty waters of the Columbia, in forcing their passage to the
ocean, is heard for miles distant.
Early on the morning of the 9th, Mr. Rhodes was ordered out
in the cutter, on the perilous duty of sounding the channel of the
bar, and placing the buoys necessary for the'safe guidance of the
ship. While he was performing this duty we fired several guns;
and, about ten o'clock in the morning, we were delighted with
hearing the report of three cannon from the shore in answer to
ours. Towards noon an Indian canoe was discovered making for
us, and a few moments after a barge was perceived following it.
Various were the hopes and fears by which we were agitated, as
we waited in anxious expectation the arrival of the strangers from
whom we were to learn the fate of our predecessors, and of the
party who had crossed the continent. Vague rumours had
reached the Sandwich Islands from a coasting vessel, that the
Tonquin had been cut off by the Indians, and every soul on board
destroyed; and, since we came in sight of the river, the captain's
ominous forebodings had almost prepared the weaker part of our
people to hear that some dreadful fatality had befallen our infant
establishment.. Not even the sound of the cannon, and the sight
of the flag and fire on the cape were proofs strong enough to
shake his doubts. "An old bird was not to be caught with
chaff:" he was too well acquainted with Indian cunning and
treachery to be deceived by such appearances. It was possible
enough that the savages might have surprised the fort, murdered
its inmates, seized the property, fired the cannon to induce us to
cross the bar, which, when once effected, they could easily cut
us off before we could get out again. He even carried his caution so far as to order a party of armed men to be in readiness
to receive our visiters. The canoe arrived first alongside: in it
was an old Indian, blind of an eye, who appeared to be a chief,
with six others, nearly naked, and the most repulsive-looking
beings that ever disgraced the fair form of humanity. The