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The adventures of John Jewitt : only survivor of the crew of the ship Boston during a captivity of nearly… Jewitt, John Rodgers, 1783-1821 1896

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Array         THE
fe.      , BOSTON
ROBERT   BROWN,   Ph.D.,   M.A.,   F.L.S.
29 Paternoster Row, London, E.C.
[All Rights Reserved]  o
A SAD interest attaches to this little book. Although
published after his death, and therefore deprived of his
final revision, it was not the last work which Dr. Robert
Brown did. His manuscript was actually completed
many months ago, but at his own request it was returned to him to receive a last careful overhaul at his
hands. This revision had been practically finished,
and the MS. lay ready uppermost among the papers in
his desk, where it was found after his death. Dr. Brown
died on the morning of the 26th of October, 1895, working almost to his last hour. Before the leader he had
written for the Standard on the evening of the 25 th had
come under the eyes of its readers, the hand that had
penned it was cold in death. Between the evening and
the morning he went home. He was only fifty-three,
but "a righteous man, though he die before his time,
shall be at rest."
And in one sense Dr. Brown needed rest—ay, even
this last and sweetest rest of all. His life had been one
of unremitting work—work well done, which the busy,
hurrying world mostly heeded not, knowing naught of
the hand that did it. Some twenty years ago, when I
first knew him, he was a fair, stalwart Northerner, full of
vigour, mirthful also, and apparently looking out on the
voyage of life with the confident, joyous eye of one who ■
In Memory
felt he had strength within him to conquer. His latter
days were saddened by incessant toil, performed in
weakness of body and jadedness of brain, and by the
feeling that his best work, the work into which he put
his rich stores of knowledge, was neither recognised nor
requited as it should have been.
To a sensitive man the daily wear and tear of a
journalist's life in London is often murderous, always
exhausting—and Dr. Brown was very sensitive. Beneath
the genial exterior, which seemed to indicate a careless, light-hearted spirit, lay great depths of feeling,
and a tenderness that shrank from expressing itself.
The man was too proud and self-restrained to betray
these depths even to those nearest and dearest to
him. This was at once a nobility in him and a weak-:
ness. Had he opened his heart more, he would have
chafed arid fretted less, little annoyances would not
have become mountain loads of care. But the truth
is, Dr. Brown was not cut out for the life of an everyday journalist, either by training, habits, or disposition.
The ideal post for him would have been that of a
professor at some great university, where he could have
had abundant leisure to pursue his favourite studies,
where young men would have surrounded him and
listened with delight to the outpouring of the wealth of
lore with which his capacious intellect was stored. His
lot was otherwise cast, and he accepted it manfully,
battling with his destiny to his last hours, grimly and in
silence of soul, intent only on one thing, to lift his
children clear above the necessity for treading the same
rough road upon which he had worn himself out.
Other and worthier hands than mine may trace, it is
to be hoped, the story of his life, his expeditions  in In Memory 7
America and Greenland, and his many literary labours not
only in popularising scientific subjects, with a thoroughness and attractiveness too little recognised, but in walks
apart where the multitude could not judge him. My
dominadt feeling about him for many years has been one
of regret that he should be wearing his life away so fast.
He never learned to play; to be completely idle for a day
even became, latterly, irksome, almost irritating, to him.
His fingers itched to hold the pen, to handle a book.
Although in earlier times he could enjoy a brief holiday,
he ever mixed work with his pleasure; could, indeed,
accept no pleasure which did not imply work somewhere
close to his hand. Thus his various journeys to Morocco,
ostensibly taken, at any rate the earlier of them, to
escape from all kinds of work, and from the sight of the
day's newspaper, ended in his becoming the foremost
authority in Great Britain upon the literature, present
social condition, and probable future of that perishing
country. The acquisition of this knowledge was all in
his day's enjoyment.
The testimony of the introduction and notes to this
little book is enough to prove how thoroughly and
conscientiously everything that Dr. Brown undertook
was done. The question of payment rarely entered
into his calculations. Some of his very best work was
done for nothing, because he loved to do it. Witness
his edition of Leo Africanus, prepared for the Hakluyt
Society, and his innumerable memoirs to the various
learned Societies of which he was a member.
Few of Dr. Brown's London friends were aware that
his attainments as a scientific botanist were of the
highest order. Yet in this department of science alone
he  had written thirty papers and reports, besides  an 8
In Memory
advanced text-book of Botany (published by William
Blackwood and Sons), before the summer of 1872, when
he was only thirty years of age. These were entirely
outside his contributions to general literature on that
and other subjects, already at that date numerous;
and if we add to the list the various reports, essays,
memoranda contributed by him to the Royal Physical
Society of Edinburgh, of which he was President, to the
Royal Geographical Society, of whose Council he was a
member at his death, and to numerous other bodies, as
well as to scientific and popular journals, on geographical,
geological, and zoological subjects, from first to last the
total mounts to several hundreds. In these branches
of science his heart lay always, but he laboured for his
daily bread and to give to him that needed.
The portrait forming the frontispiece to this volume is
from a photograph of Dr. Brown taken in 1870, just after
his return from his last expedition to Greenland, and
represents him much as he looked when, some years later,
he first came to London, after failing to obtain the chair of
Botany in Edinburgh University. That was a disappointment which he cannot be said ever to have entirely surmounted. The memory of it to some extent kept him
aloof from his fellow-labourers in the world of journalism.
What work he had to do he did loyally, manfully, and
with the most scrupulous care ; but he lived a man apart,
more or less, from his first coming among us to the end.
In his family circle, and where he was really known,
his loss has brought a great sorrow.
A. J. W.
London, February 16, 1896. o
INTRODUCTION.   By Dr. Robert Brown   .       .       .       .13
Birth, Parentage, and Early Life of the Author  .      .     43
Voyage to Nootka Sound -53
Intercourse with the Natives—Maquina—Seizure of the
Vessel and Murder of the Crew 58
Reception of Jewitt by the Savages—Escape of Thompson
—Arrival of Neighbouring Tribes—An Indian Feast .     70
Burning   of   the   Vessel — Commencement   of   Jewitt's
Journal 83
Description   of   Nootka   Sound — Manner   of   Building
Houses—Furniture—Dresses 95
Appearance of the Natives—Ornaments—Otter-Hunting
—Fishing—Canoes       .112
9' io Contents
Music — Musical    Instruments — Slaves — Neighbouring
Tribes—Trade with these—Army 129
Situation of the Author—Removal to Tashees—Fishing
Parties 142
Conversation with Maquina—Fruits—Religious Ceremonies—Visit to Upquesta 156
Return to Nootka (Friendly Cove)—Death of Maquina's
Nephew—Insanity of Tootoosch—An Indian Mountebank      172
War with the A-y-Charts—A Night Attack—Proposals to
Purchase the Author        .185
Marriage   of   the  Author—His   Illness—Dismisses   his
Wife—Religion of the Natives—Climate    .       .       .    198
Arrival of the Brig "Lydia"—Stratagem of the Author
—Its Success 223
1. The "Boston's" Crew 247
11. War-Song of the Nootka Tribe 248
ni. A List of Words 249
Portrait of Dr. Robert Brown (1870) .       .       .       Frontispiece
Dr. Brown's "Boy" 14
Port San Juan Indians 16
Ohyaht Indian 24
Indian Encampment near the Landing-stage, Esquimault     33
Habitations in Nootka Sound (Temp. 1803) ....     97
Interior of a Habitation in Nootka Sound       .       .       .    103
Nootka Sound Indians m
Indian Canoes, Victoria, V. I. (Temp. 1863) .       .       .      .125
Uk-Lulac-Aht Indian 135
Salmon Wear near the Indian Village of Quamichan,
V. 1 151
Callicum and Maquilla, Chiefs of Nootka Sound (Temp.
1803)     159
Indian Chief's Grave (Temp. 1863) 209
11  mmm
Many years ago—when America was in the midst of
war, when railways across the continent were but the
dream of sanguine men, and when the Pacific was a faraway sea—the writer of these lines passed part of a
pleasant summer in cruising along the western shores
of Vancouver Island. Our ship's company was not
distinguished, for it consisted of two fur-traders and
an Indian " boy," and the sloop in which the crew and
passengers sailed was so small, that, when the wind failed,
and the brown folk ashore looked less amiable and the
shore more rugged than was desirable, we put her and
ourselves beyond hail by the aid of what seamen know
as a " white ash breeze." Out of one fjord we went, only
to enter another so like it that there was often a difficulty in deciding by the mere appearance of the shore
which was which. Everywhere the dense forest of Douglas
fir and Menzies spruce covered the country from the
water's edge to the summit of the rounded hills which
here and there caught the eye in the still little known,
but at that date almost entirely unexplored interior.
Wherever a tree could obtain a foothold, there a tree
13 14
Adventures of John Jewitt
grew, until in places their roots were at times laved'by
the spray. Beneath this thick clothing of heavy timber
flourished an  almost   equally dense   undergrowth   of
shrubs, which until
then were only
known to us from
the specimens introduced from North-
West America into
the European gardens. Gay were the
thickets of thimble-
berry1 and salmon-
berry 2 wherever the
soil was rich, and
for miles the ground
was carpeted with
the salal,3 while the
huckleberry,4 the
crab-apple,5 and the
flowering currant6
varied the monotony
of the gloomy
woods. In places
the ginseng, or, as
the woodmen call
it, the "devil's
walking-stick,"7 with its long prickly stem and palm-like
1 Ridms Nutkanus. 2 Rubus spectabilis. 3 Gaultheria Shallon.
* Vaccinium ovatum. 5 Pyrus rivularis.
* Rides sanguineum, now a common shrub in our ornamental grounds.
1 Echinopanax horridum.
DR.  BROWN'S "BOY. Introduction
head of great leaves, imparted an almost tropical aspect
to scenery which, seen from the deck of our little craft,
looked so like that of Southern Norway, that I have
never seen the latter without recalling the outer limits
of British Columbia. On the few flat spits where the
sun reached, the gigantic cedars1 and broad-leaved
maples2 lighted up the scene, while the dogwood,3 with
its large white flowers reflected in the water of some
river which, after a turbulent course, had reached the sea
through a placid mouth, or a Menzies arbutus,4 whose
glossy leaves and brown bark presented a more
southern facies to the sombre jungles, afforded here
and there a relief to the never-ending fir and pine and
A more solitary shore, so far as white men are
concerned, it would be hard to imagine. From the day
we left until the day we returned, we sighted only one
sail; and from Port San Juan, where an Indian trader
lived a lonely life in an often-beleaguered blockhouse,
to Koskeemo Sound, where another of these voluntary
exiles passed his years among the savages, there was
not a christened man, with the exception of the little
settlement ot lumbermen at the head of the Alberni
Canal. For months at a time no keel ever ploughed
this sea, and then too frequently it was a warship sent
from Victoria to chastise the tribesmen for some outrage
committed on wayfaring men such as we. The floating
fur-trader with whom we exchanged the courtesies of
the wilderness had indeed been despitefully used.    For
1 Thuja gigantea, a tree which to the Indian is what the bamboo is to
the Chinese.
2 Acer macrophvllum.       3 Cornus Nuttallii,       4 Arbutus Menzicsii. i6
Adventures of John Jewitt
had he not taken to himself some savage woman, who
had levanted to her tribe with those miscellaneous
effects which he termed " iktas " ?    And the Klayoquahts
had stolen his boat,
and theKaoquahts
his beans and his
vermilion and his
rice, and threatened to scuttle his
schooner and stick
his head on its
masthead. And,
moreover, to complete this tale of
public pillage and
private wrong, a
certain chief, to
whom he applied
many ornate epithets, had declared
that he cared not
a salal-berry for all
of I King George's
warships." So that
the conclusion of
this merchant of
the wilds was that,
until " half the Indians were hanged, and the other half
badly licked, there would be no peace on the coast for
honest men such as he." Then, under a cloud of playful
blasphemy, our friend sailed away.
For if civilisation was scarce in the Western Vancouver
of '63, savagedom was all-abounding. Not many hours
passed without our having dealings with the lords of
the soil. It was indeed our business—or, at least, the
business of the two men and the Indian "boy"—to
meet with and make profit out of the barbarous folk.
Hence it was seldom that we went to sleep without the din of a board village in our ears, or woke
without the ancient and most fish-like smell of one
being the first odour which greeted our nostrils. In
almost every cove, creek, or inlet there was one of
these camps, and every few miles we entered the
territory of a new tribe, ruled by a rival chief, rarely
on terms with his neighbour, and as often as not at
war with him. More than once we had occasion
to witness the gruesome evidence of this state of
matters. A war party returning from a raid on a
distant hamlet would be met with, all painted in hideous
colours, and with the bleeding heads of their decapitated
enemies fastened to the bows of their cedar canoes, and
the cowering captives, doomed to slavery, bound among
the fighting men. Or, casting anchor in front of a
village, we would be shown with pride a row of festering
skulls stuck on poles, as proof of the military prowess
of our shifty hosts.
These were, however, unusually unpleasant incidents.
More frequently we saw little except the more lightsome
traits of what was then a very primitive savage life, and
the barbarous folk treated us kindly. A marriage feast
might be in progress, or a great " potlatch," or merrymaking, at which the giving away of property was the
principal feature (p. 82), might be in full blaze at the very
moment we steered round the wooded point. Halibut
2 ■ ii'iimi
18 Adventures of John Jewitt
and dog-fish were being caught in vast quantities—the
one for slicing and drying for winter use; the other for
the sake of the oil extracted from the liver, then as
now an important article of barter, being in ready
demand by the Puget Sound saw-mills. Now and then
a fur-seal or, better still, a sea-otter would be killed.
But this is not the land of choice furs. Even the marten
and the mink were indifferent. Beaver—which in those
days, after having been almost hunted to death, were
again getting numerous, owing to the low prices which
the pelts brought having slackened the trappers' zeal—
would often be brought on board, and a few hides of
the wapiti, the "elk" of the Western hunter, and the
black-tailed deer which swarm in the Vancouver woods,
generally appeared at every village. The natives are,
however, essentially fish-eaters, and though in every tribe
there is generally a hunter or two, the majority of them
seldom wander far afield, the interior being in their
mythology a land of evil things, of which wise men
would do well to keep clear. Even the black bear,
which in autumn was often a common feature of the
country, where it ranged the crab-apple thickets, was
not at this season an object of the chase. Like the deer
and the wolves, it was shunning the heat and the flies
by summering near the snow which we could notice
still capping some of the inland hills, rising to heights
of from five thousand to seven thousand feet, and feasting
on the countless salmon which were descending every
stream, until, with the receding waters, they were left
stranded in the upland pools. So cheap were salmon,
that at times they could be bought for a cent's
worth of "trade goods," and deer in winter for a few Introduction
charges of powder and shot. A whale-hunt, in which
the behemoth was attacked by harpoons with attached
inflated sealskins, after a fashion with which I had
become familiar when a resident among the Eskimo
of Baffin Bay, was a more curious sight. Yet dog-fish
oil was the staple of the unpicturesque traffic in which
my companions engaged ; while I, a hunter after less
considered trifles, landed to roam the woods and shores
for days at a time, gathering the few flowers which
bloomed under these umbrageous forests, though in
number sufficient to tempt the red-beaked hummingbird x to migrate from Mexico to these northern regions,
its tiny nest being frequently noticed on the tops of
low bushes.
But, after all, the most interesting sight on the shore
The       was the people who inhabited  it.    They
Aht Indians were the " Indians," whom my friend Gilbert
Sproat afterwards described as the "Ahts,"2 for this
syllable terminates the name of each of the many
little tribes into which they are divided. Yet, with
a disregard of the laws of nomenclature, the Ethnological Bureau at Washington has only recently
announced its intention of knowing them officially by
the meaningless title of " Wakashan." They are a
people by themselves, speaking a language which
was confined to Vancouver Island, with the exception
of Cape Flattery, the western tip of Washington, where
the Makkahs speak it.    In Vancouver Island, a region
1 Selasphorus rufus. It is one of one hundred and fifty-three birds which
I catalogued from Vancouver Island {Ibis, Nov. 1868.)
"Scenes and Studies of Savage Life (1868), by the Hon. G. M.
Sproat, late Commissioner of Indian Affairs for British Columbia. SOB
Adventures of John Jewitt
about the size of Ireland, three, if not four distinct
aboriginal tongues are in use, in addition to Chinook
Jargon, a sort of lingua franca employed by the Indians
in their intercourse with the whites or with tribes
whose speech they do not understand. The Kawitshen
(Cowitchan) with its various dialects, the chief of which is
the Tsongersth (Songer) of the people near Victoria,
prevails from Sooke in the Strait of Juan de Fuca,
northwards to Comox. From that point to the northern
end of the island various dialects of the Kwakiool
(Cogwohl of the traders) are the medium in which the
tribesmen do not conceal their thoughts. The people of
Quatseno and Koskeemo Sounds, owing to their frequent
intercourse with Fort Rupert on the other side of the
island, which at this point is at its narrowest, understand and frequently speak the Kwakiool. But after
passing several days entirely alone among these people, I
can vouch for the fact that this dialect is so peculiar that
it almost amounts to a separate language. However,
from this part, or properly, from Woody Point southwards to Port San Juan, the Aht language is entirely
The latter locality,1 nearly opposite Cape Flattery,
on the other side of Juan de Fuca Strait, the most
southern part, and the only one on the mainland where
it is spoken, is the special territory of the Pachenahts.
When I knew them, they were, like all of their race, a
dwindling people. A few years earlier, Grant had
estimated them to number a hundred men. In 1863
there were not more than a fifth of that number fit to
manage a canoe, and the total number of the tribe did
1 "Pachena" of the Indians. . Introduction
not exceed sixty. War with the Sclallans and Makkahs
on the opposite shore, and smallpox, which is more
powerful than gunpowder, had so decimated them that,
no longer able to hold their own, they had leagued with
the Netnriahts, old allies of theirs, for mutual defence.
Quixto, the chief, I find described in my notes as a stout
fellow, terrible at a bargain, very well disposed towards
the whites, as are all his tribe, the husband of four wives,
an extraordinary number for the Indians of the coast,
and reputed to be rich in blankets and the other
gear which constitutes wealth among the aborigines
of this part.of the British Empire. In their palmy
days they had made way as far north as Clayoquat
Sound and the Ky-yoh-quaht-cutz in one direction, and
with the Tsongersth to the eastward, though that now
pusillanimous tribe had generally the best of them.
Their eastern border is, however, the Jordan River, but
they have a fishing station at the Sombria (Cockles),
and several miles up both the Pandora and Jordan Rivers
flowing into their bay.   Karleit is their western limit.
The Nettinahtsx are a more powerful tribe; indeed,
at the period when the writer of this book was a prisoner
in Nootka Sound, they were among the strongest of all
the Aht people. Even then, they had four hundred2
fighting men, and were a people with whom it did not
do to be off your guard. They have—or had—many
villages, from Pachena Bay 3 to the west and Karleit to
the east, besides three villages in Nettinaht Inlet,4 eleven
1 Or, as they call themselves in their dialect of the Aht, " Dittinahts."
Nettinaht is a white man's corruption.
2 A few years earlier they were estimated at a thousand.
3 " Klootis | of the Indians. 4 Known to them as I Etlo." E5SK5
Adventures of John Jewitt
fishing stations on the Nettinaht River, three stations
on the Cowitchan Lake, and one at Sguitz on the
Cowitchan River itself, while they sometimes descend as
far as Tsanena to plant potatoes. They have thus the
widest borders of any Indian tribe in Vancouver Island,
and have a high reputation as hunters, whale-fishers,
and warriors. Moqulla was then the head chief, but
every winter a sub-tribe hunted and fished on the
Cowitchan Lake, a sheet of water which I was among
the first to visit, and the very first to " lay down"
with approximate accuracy. Though nowadays—Eheu
fugaces, Postume, Postume, labuntur annil—there is a
waggon road to the lake, and, I am told, " a sort of
hotel" on the spot where eight-and-twenty years ago
we encamped on extremely short rations, though with
the soothing knowledge that if only the Fates were
kindly and the wind favourable, there were plenty of
trout in the water, and a dinner at large in the woods
around. In those days most of the Nettinaht villages
were fortified with wooden pickets to prevent any
night attack, and from its situation, Whyack, the
principal one (built on a cliff, stockaded on the seaward
side, and reached only by a narrow entrance where
the surf breaks continuously), is impregnable to hostile
canoemen. This people accordingly carried themselves
with a high hand, and bore a name correspondingly
Barclay—or Berkeley Sound—is the home of various
petty tribes — Ohyahts, Howchuklisahts, Yu-clul-ahts,
Toquahts, Seshahts, and Opechesahts. The two with
whom I was best acquainted were the last named.
The  Seshahts lived at the top of the Alberni  Carnal Introduction
■—a long narrow fjord or cleft in the island—and on the
Seshaht Islands in the Sound. During the summer
months they came for salmon-fishing to Sa ha, or the
first rapids on the Kleekort or Saman River,1 their
chief being Ia-pou-noul,.who had just succeeded to this
office owing to the abdication of his father, though the
entire fighting force of the tribe did not number over
fifty men. As late as 1859 the Seshahts seized an
American ship, the Swiss Boy. The Opechesahts, of
whom I have very kindly memories, as I encamped
with their chief for many days, and explored Sproat
Lake in his company, were an offshoot of the Seshahts,
and had their home on the Kleekort River, but,
owing to a massacre by the now extinct Quallehum
(Qualicom) Indians from the opposite coast, who caught
them on an island in Sproat Lake, they were reduced
to seventeen men, most of them, however, tall, handsome fellows, and good hunters. Chieftainship in
that part of the world goes by inheritance. Hence
there may be many of these hereditary aristocrats
in a very small tribe. Accordingly, few though the
Opechesaht warriors were, three men, Quatgenam,
Kalooish or Kanash, and Quassoon, a shaggy, thick-set,
and tremendously strong individual who crossed the
island with me in 1865, were entitled to that rank ; and
it may be added that the women of this, the most freshwater of all the Vancouver tribes, were noted for a
more than usual share of good looks.
The   Howchuklisahts,   whose   chief   was   Maz-o-
wennis, numbered forty-five people, including twenty-
1 They were not permitted this  privilege until the whites came to
Alberni in August i860. 24
Adventures of John Jewitt
eight men. They lived in Ouchucklesit1 Harbour, off
the Alberni Canal; they had also a fishing camp on
Henderson Lake, and two or three lodges on the rapid
or stream flowing out of that sheet of water, which was
discovered and   named by  me.    But they were "bad
to deal with."
The You-clul-ahts
of Ucluelt Inlet, ruled
by Ia-pou-noul, a
wealthy man in blankets and other Indian
wealth, numbered
about one hundred.
The chief of the To-
quahts in Pipestem
Inlet was Sow-wa-
wenes, a middle-aged
man, who had an easy
task, as his lieges
numbered only
eleven, so that they
were thirty years ago
on the eve of extinction. The Ohyahts
of Grappler Creek
were estimated in 1863
to be about one hundred and seventy-five in fighting
strength—which, multiplied by four for women and
children, would make them, for that region, an unusu-
1 Though the orthography of these names is often incorrect, and not
even phonetically accurate, I have, in order to avoid the mischief of a
confusion of nomenclature, kept to that of the Admiralty Chart.
OHYAHT INDIAN. Introduction
ally strong community. These figures are probably
correct, since the man who made the statement was,
after living for years amongst them, eventually murdered
by the. savages,1 whom he had trusted too implicitly.
Kleesne^ens, a notorious scoundrel, was their chief. In
Clayoquat Sound were the Klahoquahts, Kellsmahts,
Ahousahts, Heshquahts, and Mamosahts—the last a
little tribe numbering only five men. Indeed, with the
exception of the Klahoquahts (who numbered one
hundred and sixty men) and the Ahousahts (who
claimed two hundred and fifty), these little septs, all
devoured by mutual hatred, and frequently at war with
each other, were even then dwindling to nothingness.
But the Opetsahts, though marked on the Admiralty
Chart2 as a separate tribe, are—or were—only a village
of the Ahousahts.
In Nootka Sound, the Muchlahts and Mooachahts
lived. In Esperanza Inlet were the villages of two
tribes—the Noochahlahts and Ayattisahts, numbering
forty and twenty-two men respectively, and chiefed at
1 This was the Banfield who acted as Indian agent in Barclay Sound.
He was drowned by Kleetsak, a slave of Kleesheens, capsizing the canoe
in which he was sailing, in revenge for a slight passed upon the chief. I.
went ashore at the Ohyaht village in the same canoe, and was asked
whether I was not afraid, " for Banipe was killed in it." There was also
a story that the capsize was an accident.
2 It maybe proper to state in this place that the interior details of that
chart are, with very few exceptions, from my explorations. But the map
on which they were laid down by me has been so often copied by
societies, governments, and private individuals without permission (and
without acknowledgment), that the author of it has long ceased to claim a
property so generally pillaged. The original, however, appeared, with a
memoir on the interior—% Das Innere der Vancouver Insel"—which has not
yet been translated, in Petermann's Geographische Mittheilungen, 1869. > 4MB
Adventures of John Jewitt
that time by two worthies of the names of Mala-koi-
Kennis, and Ouak-ate-Komisa. whom we left in the
delectable condition of each expecting the other round
to cut his and his tribesmen's throats.
North of this inlet were Ky-yoh-quahts, of the Sound
of that name (Kaioquat), numbering two hundred and
fifty men. To us they were exceedingly friendly, though
a trader whom we met had a different tale to tell of their
treatment of him. Kanemat, a young man of about
twenty-two, was their chief, though the tribe was virtually
governed by his mother, a notable lady named Shipally,
and at times by his pretty squaw, Wick-anes, and his
lively son and heir, Klahe-ek-enes. The Chaykisahts,
the Klahosahts, and the Neshahts of Woody Point are
the other Aht tribes, though the latter is not included
among them by Mr. Sproat. But they speak their
language, of which their chief village is its most northern
Everywhere their tribes showed such evident signs,
of decadence that by this time some of them must be
all but extinct. Still, as the whites had not come much
in contact with them—though all of them asked us for
" lum " (rum), but did not get it, it is clear enough what
had been the traders' staple—the " diseases of civilisation " could not be blamed for their decay. Even then
the practical extermination of two tribes was so recent
that the facts were still fresh in their neighbours' memory.
These were the Ekkalahts, who lived at the top of the
Alberni Canal, but were all but killed off in the same
massacre by which the Opechesahts were decimated.
The only survivor was a man named Keekeon, who
lived with the Seshahts, most of whom had forgotten —_
even the name of this vanquished little nationality.
The other tribe was the Koapinahts (or Koapin-ah),
who at that time numbered sixty or seventy people,
but at the period to which I refer they were reduced
to two adults—a man and a woman—all the rest having
been slaughtered a few years earlier by the Kwakiools
from the other side of the island, in conjunction with
the Neshahts of Woody Point. In after days I learned
to know these tribes very familiarly, crossing and recross-
ing the island with or to them, hunting and canoeing
with them, in the woods, up the rivers, or on the lakes,
and gathering from their lips
" This fair report of them who dwell
In that retirement."
At first sight these "tinkler loons and siclike com-
panie " were by no means attractive. They were frowsy,
and, undeniably, they were not clean. But it was only
after penetrating their inner ways, after learning the
wealth of custom and folk-lore of which they, all
unconscious of their riches, were the jealous custodians,
that one began to appreciate these primitive folk from
a scientific point of view. Even yet, as the writer
recalls the days when he was prone to find men more
romantic than is possible in " middle life forlorn," it is
difficult not to associate the most prosaic of savages
with something of the picturesqueness which, in novels
at least, used to cling to all their race. For, as the
charm of such existence as theirs unfolded itself to the
lover of woods and prairies, and lakes and virgin
streams, the neglect of soap and of sanitation was
forgotten.    As  Mr. Leland  has remarked  about  the
1W 28
Adventures of John Jewitt
gipsies: j When their lives and legends are known, the
ethnologist is apt to think of Tieck's elves, and of the
Shang Valley, which was so grim and repulsive from
without, but which, once entered, was the gay forecourt
of Goblin-land."
In those days little was known—and little cared—
about any of the Western tribes, except by the
I schooner - men," as the Indians called the roving
traders. Their very names were strange to the majority
of the Victoria people, and I am told that very few of
the colonists of to-day are any better informed. It
has therefore been thought fitting that I should go
somewhat minutely into the condition of the Indians, at
a period when they were more primitive than now, as a
slight contribution to the meagre chronicles of a dying
race. For if not preserved here, it is likely to perish
with almost the last survivor of a little band with whom,
during the last two decades, death has been busy.
Among the many inlets which we entered on the cruise
Nootka Sound which has enabled me to edit this narrative
and its      of a less fortunate predecessor, was Nootka
memories. Sound. No portion of North-West America
was more famous than this spot, for once upon a time
it was the former centre of the fur trade, and a locality
which more than once figured prominently in diplomatic
correspondence. Indeed, so associated was it as the
type of this part of the western continent, that in many
works the heterogeneous group of savages who inhabit
the entire coast between the Columbia River and the
end of Vancouver Island was described as the " Nootka-
Columbians." More than one species of plant and animal
attest the fact of this Sound having been the locality —J
at which the naturalist first broke ground in North-
West America. There are, for instance, a Haliotis
Nutkaensis (an ear shell), a Rubus Nutkanus (a raspberry) ; and a yellow cypress, which, however, attained its
chief development on the mainland much farther north,
bears among its synonyms that of Chamcecyparis
Nutkaensis. For though it is undeniable that Ensign
Juan Perez discovered it as early as 1779, and named it
Port San Lorenzo, after the saint on whose day it was
first seen, this fact was unknown or forgotten, when, four
years later, Cook entered, and called it King George
Sound, though he tells us it was afterwards found that
it was called Nootka by the natives. Hence arose
the title it has ever since borne, though this was an
entire mistake on the great navigator's part, since there
is no word in the Aht language at all corresponding to
Nootka, unless indeed it is " Nootche," a mountain, which
not unlikely Cook mistook for that of the inlet generally.
The proofs of the presence of earlier visitors were iron and
other tools, familiarity with ships, and two silver spoons of
Spanish manufacture, which, we may take it, had been
stolen from Perez's ship. The next vessel to enter the
Sound was the Sea Otter, under the command of Captain
James Hanna, who made such a haul in the shape of
sea-otter skins that for many years Nootka was the
great rendezvous of the fur-traders who cruised as far
north as Russian America—now Alaska—and, like Port-
lock, Dixon, and Meares, charted and named many of
the most familiar parts of the British Columbian coast.
Meares built the North- West America by the aid of
Chinese carpenters in Nootka Sound in the winter of
1788-89, this little sloop being the first vessel, except 3o
Adventures of John Jewitt
a canoe, ever constructed in the country north of
The lucrative trade done by the English and
American traders, some of whom, disposing of their
furs in China, sailed under the Portuguese flag and fitted
out at Macao as the port most readily open to
them, determined the Spaniards to assert their rights
to the original discovery. This was done by Don
Estevan Martinez " taking possession" of the Sound,
seizing the vessels there, and erecting a fort to maintain
the territory against all comers. A hot diplomatic
warfare ensued, the result of which was the Convention of Nootka, by which the Sound was made
over to Great Britain; and it was while engaged on
this mission of receiving the Sound that Vancouver,
conjointly with Quadra, the Spanish commander, discovered that the region it intersects is an island, which
for a time bore their joint names, but by general
consent has that of Vancouver only attached to it
This was in the year 1795. Being now indisputably
British territory, Nootka and the coasts north and
south of it became more and more frequented by fur-
traders, who found, in spite of the increasing scarcity of
pelts, and the higher prices which keener competition
brought about, an ample profit in buying tolerably cheap
on the American coast and selling very dear to the
Chinese, whose love for the sea-otter continues unabated.
Many of these adventurers were Americans—hailing, for
the most part, from Boston. Hence to this day an
American is universally known among the Northwestern Indians as a " Boston-man," while an English- Introduction
man is quite as generally termed a i Kintshautsh man 1
(King George man), it being during the long reign of
George III. that they first became acquainted with our
countrymen. Their barter was carried on in knives,
copper prates,copper kettles, muskets, brass-hilted swords,
soldiers' coats and buttons, pistols, tomahawks, and
blankets, which soon superseded the more costly
I Kotsaks " of sea-otter until then the principal garment,
though the women wore, as they do still at times (or did
when I knew the shore), blankets woven out of pine-tree
bark. Rum also seemed to have been freely disposed
of, and no doubt many of the outrages which early began
to mark the intercourse of the brown men and their
white visitors were not a little due to this, and to the
customs, ever more free than welcome, in which it is the
habit of the mariner to indulge when he and the savage
forgather. At all events, the natives and their foreign
visitors seem to have come very soon into collision.
Indeed, it was seldom that a voyage was completed
without some outrage on one or both sides, followed by
reprisals from the party supposed to have been wronged.
Thus part of the crew of the Imperial Eagle, under the
command of Captain Barclay,1 who discovered and named
in his own honour the Sound so called, were murdered
at " Queenhythe,"2 south of Juan de Fuca Strait, which
Barclay was amongst the first to explore, or rather to
rediscover. At a later date, namely, in 1805, the
Atahualpa of Rhode Island was attacked in Millbank
1 Or Berkeley—for the name is spelt both ways.
2 Destruction Island, in lat. 470 35'. This was almost the same spot as
that in which the Spaniards of Bodega's crew were massacred in 1775, and
for this reason they named it Isla de Dolores—the 1 Island of Sorrows." It
is in what is now the State of Washington, U.S.A. mmm
Adventures of John Jewitt
Sound, and her captain, mate, and six seamen were killed.
In 1811 the Tonquin, belonging to John Jacob Astor's
rc-mantic fur-trading adventure, which is so well known
from Washington Irving's Astoria, was seized by the
savages on this coast, and then blown up by M'Kay, the
chief trader, with the entire crew and their assailants.
The scene of the catastrophe has been stated to be
Nootka, but other commentators have fixed upon Barclay
Sound, and as late as 1863 an intelligent trader informed
me that some ship's timbers, half buried in the sand
there, were attributed by the Indians to some disastrous
event, which he believed to have been the one in question.1
I am, however, now inclined to think that in crediting
Nahwitti, at the northern end of Vancouver Island,
with this notable event in the early history of North-
West America,2 Dr. George Dawson has arrived at the
To this day—or until very recently—the Indians of
the North-West coast are not accounted very trustworthy, and at the period when I knew them they were
suspected of killing several traders and of looting more
than one small vessel, acts which earned for them
frequent visits from the gunboats at Esquimault, and
in   several   instances   the   undesirable   distinction   of
1 Green Low will even blame Wikananish, who figures in Jewitt's narrative, as the instigator of the outrage.
2 The Nahwitti Indians. Compare the Tla-tli-si—Kwela and Ne-
kum-ke-lisla septs of the Kwakiool people. They now inhabit a village
named Meloopa, on the south-east side of Hope Island. But their original
hamlet was situated on a small rocky peninsula on the east side of Cape
Commerell, which forms the north point of Vancouver Island. Here
remains of old houses are still to be seen, at a place known to the Indians as
Nahwitti. It was close to this place that the Tonquin was blown up.—
Science, vol. ix. p. 341. h
55  .....
having their villages shelled when they refused to give
up the offenders—generally a difficult operation, since
it meant pretty well the entire village.
But the^most famous of all the piracies of the Western
,   :, -    Indians is that of which an account is con-
John Jewitt
and the capture tained in John Jewitt s Narrative. The
ofthe"Boston" ostensible author of this work was a Hull
blacksmith, the armourer of the Boston, an
American ship which was seized while lying in Nootka
Sound, and the entire crew massacred, with the exception of Jewitt, who was spared owing to his skill as
a mechanic being valuable to the Indians, and John
Thompson, the sailmaker, who, though left for dead,
recovered, and was saved by the tact of Jewitt in representing him to be his father. This happened in March
1803, and from that date until the 20th of July 1805,
these two men were kept in slavery to the chief
Maquenna or Moqulla, when they were freed by the
arrival of the brig Lydia of Boston, Samuel Hill master.
During this servitude, Jewitt, who seems to have been
a man of some education, kept a journal and acquired
the Aht language, though the style in which his book
is written shows that in preparing it for the press he had
obtained the assistance of a more practised writer than
himself. Still, his work is a valuable contribution to
ethnology. For, omitting the brief but excellent accounts
by Cook and Meares, it is the earliest, and, with the
exception of Mr. Sproat's lecture, the fullest description
of these Indians. It is indeed the only one treating
specially on the Nootka people, with whom alone he
had any minute acquaintance. Some of the habits
he pictures are now obsolete, or greatly modified, but 1111    '
Adventures of John Jewitt
others—it may be said the greater number—are exactly
as he notes them to have been eighty-six years ago.
Besides the internal evidences of its authenticity, the
truth of the adventures described was vouched for at
the time by Jewitt's companion in slavery ; and though
there is no absolute proof of its credibility, it may not be
uninteresting to state that, thirty years ago, I conversed
with an American sea captain, who, as a boy, distinctly
remembered Jewitt working as a blacksmith in the town
of Middleton in Connecticut. When the book was first
published, in the year 1815, several editions appeared
in America, and at least two reprints were called for in
England, so that the Narrative enjoyed considerable
popularity in the first two decades of the century.
Writing in 1840, Robert Green Low, Librarian to the
Department of State at Washington, characterises it as
i a simple and unpretending narrative, which will, no
doubt, in after centuries, be read with interest by the
enlightened people of North-West America." Again,
in 1845, the- same industrious, though not always
impartial, historian remarks that 1 this little book has
been frequently reprinted, and, though seldom found
in libraries, is much read by boys and seamen in the
United States." As copies are now seldom met with,
this is no longer the case, though on our cruise in 1863
it was one of the well-thumbed little library of the
traders, one of whom had inherited it from William
Edy Banfield, whose name has already been mentioned
(p. 25). This trader, for many years a well-known man
on the out-of-the-way parts of the coast, furnished a
curious link between Jewitt's time and our own. For
an old Indian told him that he had, as a boy, served in Introduction
the family of a chief of Nootka, called Klan-nin-itth, at
the time when Jewitt and Thompson were in slavery;
and that he often assisted Jewitt in making spears,
arrows, antl other weapons required for hostile expeditions. He said, further, that the white slave generally
accompanied his owner on visits which he paid to the
Ayhuttisaht, Ahousaht, and Klahoquaht chiefs. This
old man especially remembered Jewitt, who was a
good-humoured fellow, often reciting and singing in
his own language for the amusement of the tribesmen.
He was described as a tall, well-made youth, with a
mirthful countenance, whose dress latterly consisted of
nothing but a mantle of cedar bark. Mr. Sproat, who
obtained his information from the same quarter that
I did, adds that there was a long story of Jewitt's
courting, and finally abducting, the daughter of Waugh-
clagh, the Ahousaht chief. This incident in his career
is not recorded by our author, who, however, was
married to a daughter of Upquesta, an Ayhuttisaht
Apart, however, from Jewitt not caring to enlighten
the decent-living puritans of Connecticut too minutely
regarding his youthful escapades, it is not unlikely that
Mr. Banfield's informant mixed up some half-forgotten
legends regarding another white man, who, seventeen
years before Jewitt's captivity, had voluntarily remained
among these Nootka Indians. This was a scapegrace
named John M'Kay,1 an Irishman, who, after being in
the -East India Company's Service in some minor
medical capacity, shipped in 1785 on board the Captain
Cook as surgeon's mate, and was left behind in Nootka
1 "Maccay" (Meares); "M'Key" (Dixon). flf"
Adventures of John Jewitt
Sound, in the hope that he would so ingratiate himself
with the natives, as to induce them to refuse furs to any
other traders except those with whom he was connected.
This man seems to have been an ignorant, untruthful
braggart, who contradicted himself in many important
particulars. But entire credence may be given to his
statement that in a short time he sank into barbarism,
becoming as filthy as the dirtiest of his savage companions. For when Captain Hanna saw him in August
1786, the natives had stripped him of his clothes, and
obliged him to adopt their dress and habits. He even
refused to leave, declaring that he had begun to relish
dried fish and whale oil—though, owing to a famine in
the Sound, he got little of either—and was well satisfied to
stay for another year. After making various excursions
in the country about Nootka Sound, during which he
came to the conclusion that it was not a part of the
American continent, but a chain of detached islands, he
gladly deserted his Indian wife, and left with Captain
Berkeley in 1787. To " preach, fight, and mend a musket"
seems to have been too much for this medical pluralist.
His further history I am unable to trace, though, for
the sake of historical roundness, it would have been
interesting to believe that he was the same M'Kay who
twenty-four years later ended his career so terribly by
blowing up the Tonquin, with whose son I was well
In all of these transactions the head chief of Nootka,
or at least of the Mooachahts, figures prominently. This
was Maquenna or Moqulla (Jewitt's Maquina), who, with
his relative Wikananish, ruled over most of the tribes
from here to Nettinaht Inlet.    He was a shifty savage, —
endowed with no small mental ability, and, though at
times capable of acts which were almost generous,
untrustworthy like most of his race, and when offended
ready for ^my act of vindictiveness. Wikananish was on
a visit to Maquenna when the Discovery and Resolution
entered the Sound, and among the relics which
Maquenna kept for many years were a brass mortar
left by Cook, which in Meares's day was borne before the
chief as a portion of his regalia, and three " pieces of a
brassy metal formed like cricket bats," on which were the
remains of the name and arms of Sir Joseph Banks, and
the date 1775—Banks, it may be remembered, being
the scientific companion of Cook. In every subsequent
voyage Maquenna figures, and not a few of the outrages
committed on that coast were due either to him or to
his instigation. Some, like his attempt to seize Hanna's
vessel in 1785, are known from extraneous sources, and
others were boasted of by him to Jewitt. The last of
his proceedings of which history has left any record,
is the murder of the crew of the Boston and the enslavement of Thompson and Jewitt, and in the narrative
of the latter we are afforded a final glimpse of this
notorious " King."x
When I visited Nootka Sound in 1863, fifty-eight
Changes since years had passed since the captivity of
Jewitt's time, the author of this book.    In  the interval
1 There is a portrait of him, apparently authentic, in Meares's Voyages,
vol. ii. (i79i)« That in the original edition of Jewitt's Narrative, like the
plate of the capture of the Boston, appears to have been drawn from description, though there is a certain resemblance in it to Meares's sketch
made fourteen or fifteen years earlier. But the scenery, the canoes, the
people, and, above all, the palm trees in Nootka Sound, are purely
imaginary. I!
11    '.
Adventures of John Jewitt
many things had happened. But though the Indians
had altered in some respects, they were perhaps less
changed than almost any other savages in America since
the whites came in contact with them. Eighty-five
years had passed since Cook had careened his ships in
Resolution Cove, and seventy since Vancouver entered
the Sound on his almost more notable voyage. Yet the
bricks from the blacksmith's forge, fresh and vitrified as
if they had been in contact with the fire only yesterday,
were at times dug up from among the rank herbage.
The village in Friendly Cove—a spot which not a few
mariners found to be very unfriendly—differed in no
way from the picture in Cook's Voyage] and though
some curio-hunting captain had no doubt long ago
carried off the mortar and emblazoned brasses, the
natives still spoke traditionally of Cook and Vancouver,
and were ready to point out the spots where in 1788
Meares built the North- West America and the white
men had cultivated. Memories of Martinez and Quadra
existed in the shape of many legends, of Indians with
Iberian features, and of several old people who by
tradition (though some of them were old enough to
have remembered these navigators), could still repeat
the Spanish numerals. And the head chief of the
Mooachahts in Friendly Cove—vastly smaller though
his tribe was, and much abridged his power—was a
grandson of Maquenna, called by the same name, and
had many of his worst characteristics. This fact
I am likely to remember. For he had been accused
of having murdered, in the previous January, Captain
Stev of the Trader, and since that time no whites
had   ventured   near  him.     He,   however,  assured   us Introduction1
that the report was simply a scandal raised by the
neighbouring tribes, who had long hated him and his
people, and would like to see them punished by the
arrival of a gunboat, and that in reality the vessel was
wrecked, and the white men were drowned. At the same
time, among the voices heard that night at the council
held in Maquenna's great lodge, supported by the huge
beams described by Jewitt, were some in favour of killing
his latest visitors, on the principle that dead men tell no
tales. But that the Noes had it, the present narrative
is the best proof.
oo far as their habits were concerned, they were in a
condition as primitive as at almost any period since the
whites had visited them. Many of the old people were
covered only with a mantle of woven pine bark, and
beyond a shirt, in most cases made out of a flour sack,
a blanket was the sole garment of the majority of the
tribesmen. At times when they wanted to receive any
goods, they simply pulled off the blanket, wrapped up
the articles in it, and went ashore stark naked, with
the exception of a piece of skin round the loins. The
women wore for the most part no other dress except the
blanket and a curious apron made of a fringe of bark
strings. All of them painted hideously, the women
adding a streak of vermilion down the middle division
of the hair, and on high occasions the glittering mica
sand, spoken of by Jewitt, was called into requisition.
Their customs—and I had plenty of opportunities to
study them in the course of the years which followed
—were in no way different from what they were
in Cook's time. No missionary seemed ever to have
visited them, and their religious observances were accord-
1 42
Adventures of John Jewitt
ingly still the most unadulterated of paganism. Jewitt's
narrative is, however, as might have been expected, very
vague on such matters; and, curiously enough, he makes
no mention of their characteristic trait of compressing
the foreheads of the children, the tribes in Koskeemo
Sound squeezing it, while the bones are still cartilaginous, in a conical shape—though the brain is not
thereby "permanently injured : it is simply displaced.
Since that day, the tribesmen of the west coast of
Vancouver Island have grown fewer and fewer. Some
of the smaller septs have indeed become extinct, and
others must be fast on the wane. They have, however,
eaten of the tree of knowledge, and the gunboats have
now little occasion to visit them for punitive purposes.
Missionaries have even attempted to teach them better
manners. The Alberni saw-mills have long been
deserted, though other settlers have taken possession of
the ground, and several have squatted in Koskeemo
Sound, in the hope that the coal-seams there might
induce the Pacific steamers to make that remote region
their headquarters. Finally, an effort is being made to
induce fishermen from the West of Scotland to settle
on that coast. There is plenty of work for them,
and the Indians nowadays are very little to be feared.
Indeed, so far from the successors of Moqulla and
Wikananish menacing Donald and Sandy, they will
be ready to help them for a consideration; though a
great deal of tact and forbearance will be necessary
before people so conservative as the hot-tempered Celts
work smoothly with a race quite as fiery and quite as
wedded to old ways, as the Ahts among whom John
Jewitt passed the early years of this century.       R.,B. -—
I WAS born in Boston, a considerable borough town in
Lincolnshire, in Great Britain, on the 2ist of May, 1783.
My father, Edward Jewitt, was by trade a blacksmith,
and esteemed among the first in his line of business in
that place. At the age of three years I had the misfortune to lose my mother, a most excellent woman,
who died in childbed, leaving an infant daughter, who,
with myself, and an elder brother by a former marriage
of my father, constituted the whole of our family. My
father, who considered a good education as the greatest
blessing he could bestow on his children, was very particular in paying every attention to us in that respect,
always exhorting us to behave well, and endeavouring
to impress on our minds the principles of virtue and
morality, and no expense in his power was spared to
have us instructed in whatever might render us useful
and respectable in society. My brother, who was four
years older than myself and of a more hardy constitution, he destined for his own trade, but to me he had
43 If
Adventures of John Jewitt
resolved to give an education superior to that which is
to be obtained in a common school, it being his intention that I should adopt one of the learned professions.
Accordingly, at the age of twelve he took me from the
school in which I had been taught the first rudiments of
learning, and placed me under the care of Mr. Moses, a
celebrated teacher of an academy at Donnington, about
eleven miles from Boston, in order to be instructed in
the Latin language, and in some of the higher branches
of the mathematics. I there made considerable proficiency in writing, reading, and arithmetic, and obtained
a pretty good knowledge of navigation and of surveying;
but my progress in Latin was slow, not only owing to
the little inclination I felt for learning that language,
but to a natural impediment in my speech, which
rendered it extremely difficult for me to pronounce it,
so that in a short time, with my father's consent, I
wholly relinquished the study.
The period of my stay at this place was the most
happy of my life. My preceptor, Mr. Moses, was not
only a learned, but a virtuous, benevolent, and amiable
man, universally beloved by his pupils, who took delight in his instruction, and to whom he allowed every
proper amusement that consisted with attention to
their studies.
One of the principal pleasures I enjoyed was in
attending the fair, which is regularly held twice a year
at Donnington, in the spring'and in the fall,1 the second
day being wholly devoted to selling horses, a prodigious
number of which are brought thither for that purpose.
1 These fairs are   still held,  though  the dates are now May 26th,
September 4th, and October 27th. School Days and Boyhood
As the scholars on these occasions were always indulged with a holiday, I cannot express with what
eagerness of youthful expectation I used to anticipate
these fairs, nor what delight I felt at the various shows,
exhibitions of wild beasts, and other entertainments that
they presented ; I was frequently visited by my father,
who always discovered much joy on seeing me, praised
me for my acquirements, and usually left me a small
sum for my pocket expenses.
Among the scholars at this academy, there was one
named Charles Rice, with whom I formed a particular
intimacy, which continued during the whole of my stay.
He was my class and room mate, and as the town he
came from, Ashby, was more than sixty miles off,
instead of returning home, he used frequently during
the vacation to go with me to Boston, where he always
met with a cordial welcome from my father, who
received me on these occasions with the greatest
affection, apparently taking much pride in me. My
friend in return used to take me with him to an uncle of
his in Donnington, a very wealthy man, who, having no
children of his own, was very fond of his nephew, and
on his account I was always a welcome visitor at the
house. I had a good voice, and an ear for music, to
which I was always passionately attached, though
my father endeavoured to discourage this propensity,
considering it (as is too frequently the case) but an
introduction to a life of idleness and dissipation; and,
having been remarked for my singing at church, which
was regularly attended on Sundays and festival days by
the scholars, Mr. Morthrop, my friend Rice's uncle, used
frequently to request me to sing ; he was always pleased 46
Adventures of John Jewitt
with my exhibitions of this kind, and it was no doubt
one of the means that secured me so gracious a reception at his house. A number of other gentlemen in the
place would sometimes send for me to sing at their
houses, and as I was not a little vain of my vocal powers,
I was much gratified on receiving these invitations, and
accepted them with the greatest pleasure.
Thus passed away the two happiest years of my life,
when my father, thinking that I had received a sufficient
education for the profession he intended me for, took
me from school at Donnington in order to apprentice
me to Doctor Mason, a surgeon of eminence at Reasby,
in the neighbourhood of the celebrated Sir Joseph Banks.1
With regret did I part from my school acquaintance,
particularly my friend Rice, and returned home with my
father, on a short visit to my family, preparatory to my
intended apprenticeship. The disinclination I ever had
felt for the profession my father wished me to pursue,
was still further increased on my return. When a child
I was always fond of being in the shop, among the
workmen, endeavouring to imitate what I saw them do;
this disposition so far increased after my leaving the
academy, that I could not bear to hear the least mention
made of my being apprenticed to a surgeon, and I used
so many entreaties with my father to persuade him to
give up this plan and learn me his own trade, that he
at last consented.
More fortunate would it probably have been for me,
had I gratified the wishes of this affectionate parent,
in  adopting the. profession   he   had  chosen  for   me,
1 The companion of Cook, and for many years President of the Royal
Society. Apprenticed
than thus to have induced him to sacrifice them to
mine. However it might have been, I was at length
introduced into the shop, and my natural turn of mind
corresponding with the employment, I became in a short
time uncommonly expert at the work to which I was
set. I now felt myself well contented, pleased with my
occupation, and treated with much affection by my
father, and kindness by my step-mother, my father
having once more entered the state of matrimony, with
a widow much younger than himself, who had been
brought up in a superior manner, and was an amiable
and sensible woman.
About a year after I had commenced this apprenticeship, my father, finding that he could carry on his
business to more advantage in Hull, removed thither
with his family. An event of no little importance to
me, as it in a great measure influenced my future
destiny. Hull being one of the best ports in England,
and a place of great trade, my father had there full
employment for his numerous workmen, particularly in
vessel work. This naturally leading me to an acquaintance with tfie sailors on board some of the ships: the
many remarkable stories they told me of their voyages
and adventures, and of the manners and customs of the
nations they had seen, excited a strong wish in me to
visit foreign countries, which was increased by my
reading the voyages of Captain Cook, and some other
celebrated navigators.
Thus passed the four years that I lived at Hull, where
my father was esteemed by all who knew him, as a
worthy, industrious, and thriving man. At this period
a circumstance occurred which afforded me the oppor-
V    I Tr
48 Adventures of John Jewitt
tunity I had for some time wished, of gratifying my
inclination of going abroad.
Among our principal customers at Hull were the
Americans who frequented that port, and from whose
conversation my father as well as myself formed the
most favourable opinion of that country, as affording an
excellent field for the exertions of industry, and a flattering prospect for the establishment of a young man in
life. In the summer of the year 1802, during the peace
between England and France, the ship Boston, belonging to Boston, in Massachusetts, and commanded by
Captain John Salter, arrived at Hull, whither she came
to take on board a cargo of such goods as were wanted
for the trade with the Indians, on the North-West
coast of America, from whence, after having taken in a
lading of furs and skins, she was to proceed to China,
and from thence home to America. The ship having
occasion for many repairs and alterations, necessary for
so long a voyage, the captain applied to my father to
do the smith's work, which was very considerable.
That gentleman, who was of a social turn, used often
to call at my father's house, where he passed many
of his evenings, with his chief and second mates,
Mr. B. Delouisa and Mr. William Ingraham,1 the
latter a fine young man of about twenty, of a most
amiable temper, and of such affable manners, as gained
him the love and attachment of the whole crew.
These gentlemen used  occasionally to take  me with
1 This William Ingraham must not be confounded with Joseph Ingraham, who also visited Nootka Sound, and played a considerable part in
the exploration of the North-West American coast. Captain Salter's Proposal
them to the theatre, an amusement which I was very
fond of, and which my father rather encouraged than
objected to, as he thought it a good means of preventing young men, who are naturally inclined to
seek for something to amuse them, from frequenting
taverns, ale-houses, and places of bad resort, equally
destructive of the health and morals, while the stage
frequently furnishes excellent lessons of morality and
good conduct
In the evenings that he passed at my father's, Captain
Salter, who had for a great number of years been at sea,
and seen almost all parts of the world, used sometimes
to speak of his voyages, and, observing me listen with
much attention to his relations, he one day, when I had
brought him some work, said to me in rather a jocose
manner," John, how should you like to go with me ?"
I answered, that it would give me great pleasure, that
I had for a long time wished to visit foreign countries,
particularly America, which I had been told so many
fine stories of, and that if my father would give his
consent, and he was willing to take me with him, I
would go.
" I shall be very glad to do it," said he, " if your father
can be prevailed on to let you go; and as I want an
expert smith for an armourer, the one I have shipped
for that purpose not being sufficiently master of his
trade, I have no doubt that you will answer my turn
well, as I perceive you are both active and ingenious,
and on my return to America I shall probably be able
to do something much better for you in Boston. I will
take the first opportunity of speaking to your father
about it, and try to persuade him to consent." He
4 II
k; i
Adventures of John Jewitt
accordingly, the next evening that he called at our
house, introduced the subject: my father at first would
not listen to the proposal. That best of parents, though
anxious for my advantageous establishment in life, could
not bear to think of parting with me, but on Captain
Salter's telling him of what benefit it would be to me to
go the voyage with him, and that it was a pity to keep
a promising and ingenious young fellow like myself
confined to a small shop in England, when if I had
tolerable success I might do so much better in America,
where wages were much higher and living cheaper, he at
length gave up his objections, and consented that I
should ship on board the Boston as an armourer, at the
rate of thirty dollars per month, with an agreement that
the amount due to me, together with a certain sum of
money, which my father gave Captain Salter for that
purpose, should be laid out by him on the North-West
coast in the purchase of furs for my account, to be disposed of in China for such goods as would yield a profit
on the return of the ship; my father being solicitous to
give me every advantage in his power of well establishing myself in my trade in Boston, or some other maritime town of America. Such were the flattering
expectations which this good man indulged respecting
me. Alas! the fatal disaster that befell us, not
only blasted all these hopes, but involved me in
extreme distress and wretchedness for a long period
The ship, having undergone a thorough repair and
been well coppered, proceeded to take on board her
cargo, which consisted of English cloths, Dutch blankets,
looking-glasses, beads, knives, razors, etc., which .were My Father's Advice
received from Holland, some sugar and molasses, about
twenty hogsheads of rum, including stores for the
ship, a great quantity of ammunition, cutlasses, pistols,
and three thousand muskets and fowling-pieces. The
ship being loaded and ready for sea, as I was preparing
for my departure, my father came to me, and, taking me
aside, said to me with much emotion, " John, I am now
going to part with you, and Heaven only knows if we
shall ever again meet. But in whatever part of the
world you are, always bear it in mind, that on your own
conduct will depend your success in life. Be honest,
industrious, frugal, and temperate, and you will not fail,
in whatsoever country it may be your lot to be placed,
to gain yourself friends. Let the Bible be your guide,
and your reliance in any fortune that may befall you,
that Almighty Being, who knows how to bring forth
good from evil> and who never deserts those who put
their trust in Him." He repeated his exhortations to me
to lead an honest and Christian life, and to recollect
that I had a father, a mother, a brother, and sister, who
could not but feel a strong interest in my welfare, enjoining me to write him by the first opportunity that
should offer to England, from whatever part of the
world I might be in, more particularly on my arrival in
Boston, This I promised to do, but long unhappily
was it before I was able to fulfil this promise. I then
took an affectionate leave of my worthy parent, whose
feelings would hardly permit him to speak, and, bidding
an affectionate farewell to my brother, sister, and stepmother, who expressed the greatest solicitude for my
future fortune, went on board the ship, which proceeded
to the Downs, to be ready for the first favourable  ■v>
On the third day of September, 1802, we sailed from
the Downs with a fair wind, in company with twenty-
four sail of American vessels, most of which were bound
I was sea-sick for a few of the first days, but it was
of short continuance, and on my recovery I found myself in uncommonly fine health and spirits, and went to
work with alacrity at my forge, in putting in order some
of the muskets, and making daggers, knives, and small
hatchets for the Indian trade, while in wet and stormy
weather I was occupied below in filing and polishing
them. This was my employment, having but little to
do with sailing the vessel, though I used occasionally to
lend a hand in assisting the seamen in taking in and
making sail.
As I had never before been out of sight of land, I
cannot describe my sensations, after I had recovered
from the distressing effects of sea-sickness, on viewing
the mighty ocean by which I was surrounded, bound
only by the sky, while its waves, rising in mountains, seemed every moment to threaten our ruin.
Manifest as is the hand of Providence in preserving its
creatures from destruction, in no instance is it more so
ii 54
Adventures of John Jewitt
than on the great deep; for whether we consider in its
tumultuary motions the watery deluge that each moment
menaces to overwhelm us, the immense violence of
its shocks, the little that interposes between us and
death, a single plank forming our only security, which,
should it unfortunately be loosened, would plunge us
at once into the abyss, our gratitude ought strongly to
be excited towards that superintending Deity who in
so wonderful a manner sustains our lives amid the
We had a pleasant and favourable passage of twenty-
nine days to the Island of St. Catherine,1 on the coast of
Brazils, where the captain had determined to stop for a
few days to wood and water. This place belongs to the
Portuguese. On entering the harbour, we were saluted
by the fort, which we returned. The next day the
governor of the island came on board of us with his
suite; Captain Salter received him with much respect,
and invited him to dine with him, which he accepted.
The ship remained at St. Catherine's four days, during
which time we were busily employed in taking in wood,
water, and fresh provisions, Captain Salter thinking it
best to furnish himself here with a full supply for his
voyage to the North-West coast, so as not to be obliged
to stop at the Sandwich Islands. St. Catherine's is a
very commodious place for vessels to stop at that are
bound round Cape Horn, as it abounds with springs
of fine water, with excellent oranges, plantains, and
Having completed our stores, we put to sea, and on
the twenty-fifth of December, at length passed  Cape
1 Santa Cathafina. Life Aboard Ship
Horn, which we had made no less than thirty-six days
before, but were repeatedly forced back by contrary
winds, experiencing very rough and tempestuous
weather in doubling it.
Immediately after passing Cape Horn, all our dangers
and difficulties seemed to be at an end; the weather
became fine, and so little labour was necessary on board
the ship, that the men soon recovered from their fatigue
and were in excellent spirits. A few days after we fell
in with an English South Sea whaling ship homeward
bound,1 which was the only vessel we spoke with on our
voyage. We now took the trade wind or monsoon,
during which we enjoyed the finest weather possible, so
that for the space of a fortnight we were not obliged to
reeve a topsail or to make a tack, and so light was the
duty and easy the life of the sailors during this time,
that they appeared the happiest of any people in the
Captain Salter, who had been for many years in the
East India trade, was a most excellent seaman, and preserved the strictest order and discipline on board his
ship, though he was a man of mild temper and conciliating manners, and disposed to allow every indulgence
to his men, not inconsistent with their duty. We had
on board a fine band of music, with which on Saturday
nights, when the weather was pleasant, we were accustomed to be regaled, the captain ordering them to
play for several hours for the amusement of the crew.
This to me was most delightful, especially during the
serene   evenings   we   experienced   in   traversing   the
1 This is now, so far as Great Britain is concerned, a reminiscence of a
vanished trade: the South Sea whaling is extinct. 1
Adventures of John Jewitt
Southern Ocean. As for myself, during the day I was
constantly occupied at my forge, in refitting or repairing
some of the ironwork of the vessel, but principally in
making tomahawks, daggers, etc., for the North-West
During the first part of our voyage we saw scarcely
any fish, excepting some whales, a few sharks, and flying
fish; but after weathering Cape Horn we met with
numerous shoals of sea porpoises, several of whom we
caught, and as we had been for some time without fresh
provisions, I found it not only a palatable, but really a
very excellent food. To one who has never before seen
them, a shoal of these fish x presents a very striking and
singular appearance; beheld at a distance coming towards a vessel, they look not unlike a great number of
small black waves rolling over one another in a confused
manner, and approaching with great swiftness. As soon
as a shoal is seen, all is bustle and activity on board the
ship, the grains and the harpoons are immediately got
ready, and those who are best skilled in throwing them take
their stand at the bow and along the gunwale, anxiously
awaiting the welcome troop as they come, gambolling
and blowing around the vessel, in search of food. When
pierced with the harpoon and drawn on board, unless
the fish is instantly killed by the stroke, which rarely
happens, it utters most pitiful cries, greatly resembling
those of an infant. The flesh, cut into steaks and
broiled, is not unlike very coarse beef, and the harslet
in appearance and taste is so much like that of a hog,
1 The zoological reader does not require to be told that the porpoise, a
very general term applied by sailors to many small species of cetaceans, is
not a "fish." Catching a Shark
that it would be no easy matter to distinguish the one
from the other; from this circumstance the sailors have
given the name of the herring hog1 to this fish. I was
told by some of the crew, that if one of them happens to
free itself from the grains or harpoons, when struck,
all the others, attracted by the blood, immediately quit
the ship and give chase to the wounded one, and as soon
as they overtake it, immediately tear it in pieces. We
also caught a large shark, which had followed the ship
for several days, with a hook which I made for the purpose, and although the flesh was by no means equal to
that of the herring hog, yet to those destitute as we were
of anything fresh, I found it eat very well. After passing the Cape, when the sea had become calm, we saw
great numbers of albatrosses, a large brown and white
bird of the goose kind, one of which Captain Salter shot,
whose wings measured from their extremities fifteen
feet. One thing, however, I must not omit mentioning,
as it struck me in a most singular and extraordinary
manner. This was, that on passing Cape Horn in
December, which was midsummer in that climate, the
nights were so light, without any moon, that we found
no difficulty whatever in reading small print, which we
frequently did during our watches.
1 Pore poisson of the French, of which porpoise is simply a corruption. i
In this manner, with a fair wind and easy weather from
the 28th of December, the period of our passing Cape
Horn, we pursued our voyage to the northward until
the 12th of March, 1803, when we made Woody Point
in Nootka Sound, on the North-West coast of America.
We immediately stood up the Sound for Nootka, where1
Captain Salter had determined to stop, in order to supply
the ship with wood and water before proceeding up the
coast to trade. But in order to avoid the risk of any
molestation or interruption to his men from the Indians
while thus employed, he proceeded with the ship about
five miles to the northward of the village, which is
situated on Friendly Cove, and sent out his chief mate
with several of the crew in the boat to find a good
place for anchoring her. After sounding for some time,
they returned with information that they had discovered
a secure place for anchorage, on the western side of an
inlet or small bay, at about half a mile from the coast,
1 By "Nootka," Friendly Cove, or jj Yucuaht," is meant; there is no
special place of that name; the word, indeed, is unknown to the natives.
Woody Point, or Cape Cook, is in lat. 500 6' 31" N.
58 King Maquina
near a small island which protected it from the sea, and
where there was plenty of wood and excellent water.
The ship accordingly came to anchor in this place, at
twelve o'clock at~night, in twelve fathom water, muddy
bottom, and so near the shore that to prevent the ship
from winding we secured her by a hawser to the trees.
On the morning of the next day, the 13th, several of
the natives came on board in a canoe from the village of
Nootka, with their king, called Maquina, who appeared
much pleased on seeing us, and with great seeming
cordiality welcomed Captain Salter and his officers to his
country. As I had never before beheld a savage of any
nation, it may readily be supposed that the novelty of
their appearance, so different from any people that I had
hitherto seen, excited in me strong feelings of surprise
and curiosity. I was, however, particularly struck with
the looks of their king, who was a man of a dignified
aspect, about six feet in height and extremely straight
and well proportioned; his features were in general good,
and his face was rendered remarkable by a large Roman
nose, a very uncommon form of feature among these
people; his complexion was of a dark copper hue,
though his face, legs, and arms were, on this occasion,
so covered with red paint, that their natural colour
could scarcely be perceived; his eyebrows were painted
black in two broad stripes like a new moon, and his
long black hair, which shone with oil, was fastened in a
bunch on the top of his head and strewed or powdered
all over with white down, which gave him a most curious
and extraordinary appearance. He was dressed in a
large mantle or cloak of the black sea-otter skin, which
reached to his knees, and was  fastened around his mrmmm
Adventures of John Jewitt
middle by a broad belt of the cloth of the country,
wrought or painted with figures of several colours; this
dress was by no means unbecoming, but, on the contrary,
had an air of savage magnificence. His men were
habited in mantles of the same cloth, which is made from
the bark of a tree,1 and has some resemblance to straw
matting; these are nearly square, and have two holes in
the upper part large enough to admit the arms; they
reach as low as the knees, and are fastened round their
bodies with a belt about four inches broad of the same
From his having frequently visited the English and
American ships that traded to the coast, Maquina had
learned the signification of a number of English words, and
in general could make himself pretty well understood
by us in our own language. He was always the first to
go on board such ships as came to Nootka, which he was
much pleased in visiting, even when he had no trade to
offer, as he always received some small present, and was
in general extremely well treated by the commanders.
He remained on board of us for some time, during which
the captain took him into the cabin and treated him with
a glass of rum—these people being very fond of distilled
spirits—and some biscuit and molasses, which they prefer
to any kind of food that we can offer them.2
xThe white pine (Pinus monticola). This is employed for making
blankets trimmed with sea-otter fur, but the mats used in their canoes are
made of cedar bark (Thuja gigantea).
2 This is still true. Many years ago, when there was a threat of Indian
trouble at Victoria, Sir James Douglas, famous as the first governor of
British Columbia, and still more celebrated as a factor of the Hudson Bay
Company, immediately allayed the rising storm by ordering a keg of treacle
and a box of biscuit to be opened. Instantly the knives and muskets
were tossed aside, and the irate savages fell to these homely dainties* with Taking in Wood and Water
As there are seldom many furs to be purchased at
this place, and it was not fully the season, Captain Salter
had put in here not so much with an expectation of
trading, as to procure an ample stock of wood and water
for the supply of the ship on the coast, thinking it more
prudent to take it on board at Nootka, from the
generally friendly disposition of the people, than to
endanger the safety of his men in sending them on
shore for that purpose among the more ferocious natives
of the north.
With this view, we immediately set about getting
our water-casks in readiness, and the next and two
succeeding days, part of the crew were sent on shore to
cut pine timber, and assist the carpenter in making it
into yards and spars for the ship, while those on board
were employed in refitting the rigging, repairing the
sails, etc., when we proceeded to take in our wood and
water as expeditiously as possible, during which time I
kept myself busily employed in repairing the muskets,
making knives, tomaxes,1 etc., and doing such ironwork
as was wanted for the ship.
Meantime more or less of the natives came on board
of us daily, bringing with them fresh salmon, with which
they supplied us in great plenty, receiving in return some
trifling articles. Captain Salter was always very particular, before admitting these people on board, to see
that they had no arms about them, by obliging them
the best of goodwilKto all concerned. " Dear me ! dear me! there is
nothing like a little molasses," was the sage governor's remark. At the
Alberni sawmills, on the West coast, the invariable midday meal of the
Indians loading lumber was coarse ship's biscuit dipped in a tin basin of
the cheapest treacle, around which the mollified tribesmen squatted.
1 Tomahawks (little hatchets) in more familiar language. 62
Jji =
Adventures of John Jewitt
indiscriminately to throw off their garments, so that he
felt perfectly secure from any attack.
On the 15th the king came on board with several of
his chiefs; he was dressed as before in his magnificent
otter-skin robe, having his face highly painted, and his
hair tossed with the white down, which looked like
snow. His chiefs were dressed in mantles of the country
cloth of its natural colour, which is a pale yellow; these
were ornamented with a broad border, painted or
wrought in figures of several colours, representing men's
heads, various animals, etc., and secured around them by
a belt like that of the king, from which it was distinguished only by being narrower: the dress of the
common people is of the same fashion, and differs from
that of the chiefs in being of a coarser texture, and
painted red, of one uniform colour.
Captain Salter invited Maquina and his chiefs to dine
with him, and it was curious to see how these people
(when they eat) seat themselves (in their country fashion,
upon our chairs) with their feet under them crossed like
Turks. They cannot endure the taste of salt, and the
only thing they would eat with us was the ship bread,
which they were very fond of, especially when dipped in
molasses; they had also a great liking for tea and coffee
when well sweetened. As iron weapons and tools of
almost every kind are in much request among them,
whenever they came on board they were always very
attentive to me, crowding around me at the forge, as if
to see in what manner I did my work, and in this way
became quite familiar, a circumstance, as will be seen in
the end, of great importance to me. The salmon which
they brought us furnished a most delicious treat to men II I ■
Coming Treachery
who for a long time had lived wholly on salt provisions,
excepting such few sea fish as we had the good fortune
occasionally to take. We indeed feasted most luxuriously, and flattered ourselves that we should not
want while on the coast for plenty of fresh provisions,
little imagining the fate that awaited us, and that this
dainty food was to prove the unfortunate lure to our
On the 19th the king came again on board, and was
invited by the captain to dine with him. He had much
conversation with Captain Salter, and informed him
that there were plenty of wild ducks and geese near
Friendly Cove, on which the captain made him a present
of a double-barrelled fowling - piece, with which he
appeared to be greatly pleased, and soon after went on
On the 20th we were nearly ready for our departure,
having taken in what wood and water we were in
want of.
The next day Maquina came on board with nine pair
of wild ducks, as a present; at the same time he brought
with him the gun, one of the locks of which he had
broken, telling the captain that it was peshak,1 that is,
bad. Captain Salter was very much offended at this
observation, and, considering it as a mark of contempt
for his present, he called the king a liar, adding other
opprobrious terms, and, taking the gun from him, tossed
it indignantly into the cabin, and, calling me to him, said,
"John, this fellow has broken this beautiful fowling-
piece, see if you can mend it."   On examining it, I told
1 Pesh-shuak, Wikoo, or Chuuk is also used in the same sense, but the
first word is most frequently employed.
I 64
Adventures of John Jewitt
him that it could be done. As I have already observed,
Maquina knew a number of English words, and unfortunately understood but too well the meaning of the
reproachful terms that the captain addressed to him.
He said not a word in reply, but his countenance
sufficiently expressed the rage he felt, though he
exerted himself to suppress it, and I observed him,
while the captain was speaking, repeatedly put his hand
to his throat, and rub it upon his bosom, which he
afterwards told me was to keep down his heart, which
was rising into his throat and choking him. He soon
after went on shore with his men, evidently much
On the morning of the 22nd the natives came off to
us as usual with salmon, and remained on board; when
about noon Maquina came alongside, with a considerable number of his chiefs and men in their canoes, who,
after going through the customary examination, were
admitted into the ship. He had a whistle in his hand,
and over his face a very ugly mask of wood, representing
the head of some wild beast,, appeared to be remarkably
good-humoured and gay, and whilst his people sang and
capered about the deck, entertaining us with a variety
of antic trick and gestures, he blew his whistle to a kind
of tune which seemed to regulate their motions. As
Captain Salter was walking on the quarter-deck, amusing himself with their dancing, the king came up to him
and inquired when he intended to go to sea? He
answered," To-morrow." Maquina then said, " You love
salmon—much in Friendly Cove, why not go there and
catch some ? " The captain thought that it would be
very desirable to have a good supply of these fish for Villainy
the voyage, and, on consulting with Mr. Delouisa, it was
agreed to send part of the crew on shore after dinner
with the seine, in order to procure a quantity. Maquina
and his chiefs stayed and dined on board, and after
dinner the chief mate went off with nine men in the
jolly-boat and yawl, to fish at Friendly Cove, having set
the steward on shore at. our watering place, to wash the
captain's clothes.
Shortly after the departure of the boats, I went down
to my vice-bench in the steerage, where I was employed in cleaning muskets. I had not been there
more than an hour, when I heard the men hoisting
in the longboat, which, in a few minutes after, was
succeeded by a great bustle and confusion on deck. I
immediately ran up the steerage stairs, but scarcely was
my head above deck, when I was caught by the hair by
one of the savages, and lifted from my feet; fortunately
for me, my hair being short, and the ribbon with which
it was tied slipping, I fell from his hold into the steerage.
As I was falling he struck at me with an axe, which cut
a deep gash in my forehead, and penetrated the skull,
but in consequence of his losing his hold I luckily
escaped the full force of the blow, which otherwise
would have cleft my head in two. I fell, stunned and
senseless, upon the floor; how long I continued in this
situation I know not, but on recovering my senses, the
first thing that I did was to try to get up, but so weak
was I, from the loss of blood, that I fainted and fell. I
was, however, soon recalled to my recollection by three
loud shouts or yells from the savages, which convinced
me that they had got possession of the ship. It is impossible for me to describe my feelings at this terrific
m 66
Adventures of John Jewitt
sound. Some faint idea may be formed of them by
those who have known what it is to half waken from a
hideous dream and still think it real. Never, no, never
shall I lose from my mind the impression of that dreadful moment. I expected every instant to share the
wretched fate of my unfortunate companions, and when
I heard the song of triumph, by which these infernal
yells was succeeded, my blood ran cold in my veins.
Having at length sufficiently recovered my senses to
look around me, after wiping the blood from my eyes, I
saw that the hatch of the steerage was shut. This was
done, as I afterwards discovered, by order of Maquina,
who, on seeing the savage strike at me with the axe, told
him not to hurt me, for that I was the armourer, and
would be useful to them in repairing their arms ; while
at the same time, to prevent any of his men from injuring
me, he had the hatch closed. But to me this circumstance wore a very different appearance, for I thought
that these barbarians had only prolonged my life in
order to deprive me of it by the most cruel tortures.
I remained in this horrid state of suspense for a very
long time, when at length the hatch was opened, and
Maquina, calling me by name, ordered me to come up.
I groped my way up as well as I was able, being almost
blinded with the blood that flowed from my wound, and
so weak as with difficulty to walk. The king, on perceiving my situation, ordered one of his men to bring a pot
of water to wash the blood from my face, which having
done, I was able to see distinctly with one of my eyes,
but the other was so swollen from my wound, that it
was closed. But what a terrific spectacle met my eyes:
six naked savages, standing in  a circle  around, me, My Murdered Mates
covered with the blood of my murdered comrades, with
their daggers uplifted in their hands, prepared to strike.
I now thought my last moment had come, and recommended my soul to my Maker.
The king, who, as I have already observed, knew
enough of English to make himself understood, entered
the circle, and, placing himself before me, addressed me
nearly in the following words: " John—I speak—you no
say no; You say no—daggers come!" He then asked
me if I would be his slave during my life—if I would
fight for him in his battles, if I would repair his
muskets and make daggers and knives for him
—with several other questions, to all of which I was
careful to answer, yes. He then told me that he would
spare my life, and ordered me to kiss his hands and feet
to show my submission to him, which I did. In the
meantime his people were very clamorous to have me put
to death, so that there should be none of us left to tell our
story to our countrymen, and prevent them from coming
to trade with them ; but the king in the most determined
manner opposed their wishes, and to his favour am
I wholly indebted for my being yet among the living.
As I was busy at work at the time of the attack, I
was without my coat, and what with the coldness of the
weather, my feebleness from loss of blood, the pain of
my wound, and the extreme agitation and terror that I
still felt, I shook like a leaf, which the king observing,
went into the cabin, and, bringing up a greatcoat that
belonged to the captain, threw it over my shoulders,
telling me to drink some rum from a bottle which he
handed me, at the same time giving me to understand
that it would be good for me, and keep me from trem^
*"'. ru
Adventures of John Jewitt
bling as I did. I took a draught of it, after which, taking
me by the hand, he led me to the quarter-deck, where
the most horrid sight presented itself that ever my eyes
witnessed. The heads of our unfortunate captain and his
crew, to the number of twenty-five, were all arranged
in a line,1 and Maquina, ordering one of his people to
bring a head, asked me whose it was: I answered, the
captain's. In like manner the others were showed me,
and I told him the names, excepting a few that were so
horribly mangled that I was not able to recognise them.
I now discovered that all our unfortunate crew had
been massacred, and learned that, after getting possession
of the ship, the savages had broke open the arm-chest
and magazine, and, supplying themselves with ammunition and arms, sent a party on shore to attack our men,
who had gone thither to fish, and, being joined by
numbers from the village, without difficulty overpowered
and murdered them, and, cutting off their heads, brought
them on board, after throwing their bodies into the sea.
On looking upon the deck, I saw it entirely covered
with the blood of my poor comrades, whose throats had
been cut with their own jack-knives, the savages having
seized the opportunity, while they were busy in hoisting
in the boat, to grapple with them, and overpower them
by their numbers ; in the scuffle the captain was thrown
1 The Indians of the North-West coast and the wooded region protected
by the great rivers always take heads as trophies. The heads are subsequently fixed on poles in front of their cedar-board lodges. The prairie
Indians and the tribes east of the Rocky Mountains generally take, and
always took, scalps alone, owing, perhaps, to the difficulty of carrying
heads. This is no obstacle to fighting men travelling in canoes, on the
bows of which they are often fastened while the warriors are returning from
hostile expeditions. mw-
Friendly Cove
overboard, and despatched by those in the canoes, who
immediately cut off his head. What I felt on this occasion, may be more readily conceived than expressed.
After I had answered his questions, Maquina took my
silk handkerchief from my neck and bound it around
my head, placing over the wound a leaf of tobacco, of
which we had a quantity on board. This was done at
my desire, as I had often found, from personal experience, the benefit of this application to cuts.
Maquina then ordered me to get the ship under weigh
for Friendly Cove. This I did by cutting the cables,
and sending some of the natives aloft to loose the sails,
which they performed in a very bungling manner. But
they succeeded so far in loosing the jib and top-sails,
that, with the advantage of fair wind, I succeeded in
getting the ship into the Cove, where, by order of the
king, I ran her ashore on a sandy beach, at eight o'clock
at night. CHAPTER IV
We were received by the inhabitants of the village,
men, women, and children, with loud shouts of joy, and
a most horrible drumming with sticks upon the roofs
and sides of their houses,1 in which they had also stuck
a great number of lighted pine torches, to welcome their
king's return, and congratulate him on the success of his
Maquina then took me on shore to his house, which
was very large, and filled with people—where I was
received with much kindness by the women, particularly
those belonging to the king, who had no less than nine
wives, all of whom came around me, expressing much
sympathy for my misfortune, gently stroking and patting my head in an encouraging and soothing manner,
with words expressive of condolence. How sweet is
compassion even from savages ! Those who have been
in a similar situation, can alone truly appreciate its
1 A common mode of expressing joy.    During dancing and singing
this goes on continually.
70 Clamouring for my Life
In the meantime all the warriors of the tribe, to the
number of five hundred,1 had assembled at the king's
house, to rejoice for their success. They exulted greatly
in having taken our ship, and each one boasted of his
own particular exploits in killing our men, but they
were in general much dissatisfied with my having been
suffered to live, and were very urgent with Maquina to
deliver me to them, to be put to death, which he
obstinately refused to do, telling them that he had
promised me my life, and would not break his word;
and that, besides, I knew how to repair and to make
arms, and should be of great use to them.
The king then seated me by him, and ordered his
women to bring him something to eat, when they set
before him some dried clams and train-oil, of which he
ate very heartily, and encouraged me to follow his
example, telling me to eat much, and take a great deal
of oil, which would make me strong and fat. Notwithstanding his praise of this new kind of food, I felt no
disposition to indulge in it, both the smell and taste
being loathsome to me; and had it been otherwise, such
was the pain I endured, the agitation of my mind, and
the gloominess of my reflections, that I should have felt
very little inclination for eating.
Not satisfied with his first refusal to deliver me up to
them, the people again became clamorous that Maquina
should consent to my being killed, saying that not one
of us ought to be left alive to give information to others
of our countrymen, and prevent them from coming to
1 In 1863, when I made a special inquiry, the whole number of adult
males in the Mooachaht tribe (the so-called Nootkans) was one hundred
and fifty. 72
Adventures of John Jewitt
trade, or induce them to revenge the destruction of our
ship, and they at length became so boisterous, that he
caught up a large club in a passion, and drove them all
out of the house. During this scene, a son of the king,
about eleven years old, attracted no doubt by the
singularity of my appearance, came up to me: I
caressed him; he returned my attentions with much
apparent pleasure, and considering this as a fortunate
opportunity to gain the good will of the father, I took
the child on my knee, and, cutting the metal buttons
from off the coat I had on, I tied them around his neck.
At this he was highly delighted, and became so much
attached to me, that he would not quit me.
The king appeared much pleased with my attention
to his son, and, telling me that it was time to go to sleep,
directed me to lie with his son next to him, as he was
afraid lest some of his people would come while he was
asleep and kill me with their daggers. I lay down as
he ordered me, but neither the state of my mind nor the
pain I felt would allow me to sleep.
About midnight I was greatly alarmed by the
approach of one of the natives, who came to give
information to the king that there was one of the white
men alive, who had knocked him down as he went on
board the ship at night. This Maquina communicated
to me, giving me to understand that as soon as the sun
rose he should kill him. I endeavoured to persuade
him to spare his life, but he bade me be silent and go to
sleep. I said nothing more, but lay revolving in my
mind what method I could devise to save the life of this
man. What a consolation, thought I, what a happiness
would it prove to me in my forlorn state among these =-*«-,
Thompson Alive
heathens, to have a Christian and one of my own
countrymen for a companion, and how greatly would it
alleviate and lighten the burden of my slavery.
As I was thinking of some plan for his preservation,
it all at once came into my mind that this man was
probably the sail-maker of the ship, named Thompson,
as I had not seen his head among those on deck, and
knew that he was below at work upon sails not long
before the attack. The more I thought of it, the more
probable it appeared to me, and as Thompson was a
man nearly forty years of age, and had an old look, I
conceived it would be easy to make him pass for my
father, and by this means prevail on Maquina to spare
his life. Towards morning I fell into a dose, but was
awakened with the first beams of the sun by the king,
who told me he was going to kill the man who was on
board the ship, and ordered me to accompany him. I
rose and followed him, leading with me the young
prince, his son.
On coming to the beach, I found all the men of the
tribe assembled. The king addressed them, saying
that one of the white men had been found alive on board
the ship, and requested their opinion as to saving his life
or putting him to death. They were unanimously for
the latter. This determination he made known to me.
Having arranged my plan, I asked him, pointing to the
boy, whom I still held by the hand, if he loved his son.
He answered that he did. I then asked the child if he
loved his father, and on his replying in the affirmative, I
said, " And I also love mine." I then threw myself on
my knees at Maquina's feet, and implored him, with
tears in my eyes, to spare my father's life, if the man on
■II 74
Adventures of John Jewitt
board should prove to be him, telling him that if he
killed my father, it was my wish that he should kill me
too, and that if he did not, I would kill myself—and
that he would thus lose my services; whereas, by sparing my father's life, he would preserve mine, which
would be of great advantage to him, by my repairing
and making arms for him.
Maquina appeared moved by my entreaties, and
promised not to put the man to death if he should be
my father. He then explained to his people what I
had said, and ordered me to go on board and tell the
man to come on shore. To my unspeakable joy, on
going into the hold, I found that my conjecture was
true. Thompson was there. He had escaped without
any injury, excepting a slight wound in the nose, given
him by one of the savages with a knife, as he attempted
to come on deck, during the scuffle. Finding the
savages in possession of the ship, as he afterwards
informed me, he secreted himself in the hold, hoping for
some chance to make his escape; but that, the Indian
who came on board in the night approaching the place
where he was, he supposed himself discovered, and,
being determined to sell his life as dearly as possible, as
soon as he came within his reach, he knocked him down,
but the Indian, immediately springing up, ran off at full
I informed him, in a few words, that all our men
had been killed ; that the king had preserved my life,
and had consented to spare his on the supposition
that he was my father, an opinion which he must be
careful not to undeceive them in, as it was his only
safety.   After giving him his cue, I went on shore with Stripping the Ship
him, and presented him to Maquina, who immediately
knew him to be the sail-maker, and was much pleased,
observing that he could make sails for his canoe. He
then tool? us to his house, and ordered something for us
to eat.
On the 24th and 25th, the natives were busily
employed in taking the cargo out of the ship, stripping
her of her sails and rigging, cutting away the spars and
masts, and, in short, rendering her as complete a wreck
as possible, the muskets, ammunition, cloth, and all the
principal articles taken from her, being deposited in the
king's house.
While they were thus occupied, each one taking what
he liked, my companion and myself being obliged to
aid them, I thought it best to secure the accounts and
papers of the ship, in hopes that on some future day I
might have it in my power to restore them to the
owners. With this view I took possession of the
captain's writing-desk, which contained the most of
them, together with some paper and implements for
writing. I had also the good fortune to find a blank
account-book, in which I resolved, should it be permitted
me, to write an account of our capture, and the most
remarkable occurrences that I should meet with during
my stay among these people, fondly indulging the hope
that it would not be long before some vessel would
arrive to release us. I likewise found in the cabin a
small volume of sermons, a Bible, and a Common Prayer-
book of the Church of England, which furnished me and
my comrade great consolation in the midst of our
mournful servitude, and enabled me, under the favour of
Divine Providence, to support with firmness the miseries 76
Adventures of John Jewitt
of a life which I might otherwise have found beyond
my strength to endure.
As these people set no value upon things of this kind,
I found no difficulty in appropriating them to myself,
by putting them in my chest, which, though it had been
broken open and rifled by the savages, as I still had the
key, I without much difficulty secured. In this I also
put some small tools belonging to the ship, with several
other articles, particularly a journal kept by the second
mate, Mr. Ingraham, and a collection of drawings and
views of places taken by him, which I had the good
fortune to preserve, and on my arrival at Boston,
I gave them to a connection of his, the Honourable
Judge Dawes, who sent them to his family in New
York.        'I
On the 26th, two ships were seen standing in for
Friendly Cove. At their first appearance the inhabitants
were thrown into great confusion, but, soon collecting a
number of muskets and blunderbusses, ran to the shore,
from whence they kept up so brisk a fire at them, that
they were evidently afraid to approach nearer, and, after
firing a few rounds of grape-shot, which did no harm to
any one, they wore ship and stood out to sea. These
ships, as I afterwards learned, were the Mary and
funo of Boston.
They were scarcely out of sight when Maquina
expressed much regret that he had permitted his people
to fire at them, being apprehensive that they would give
information to others in what manner they had been
received, and prevent them from coming to trade with
A few days after hearing of the capture of the ship, More Savages
there arrived at Nootka a great number of canoes filled
pnth savages from no less than twenty tribes to the
north and south. Among those from the north were
the Ai-tiz-zarts,1 Schoo-mad-its,2 Neu-wit-ties,8 Savin-
nars,4 Ah-owz-arts,5 Mo-watch-its,6 Suth-setts,7 Neu-
chad-lits,8 Mich-la-its,9 and Cay-u-quets,10 the most of
whom were considered as tributary to Nootka From
the south, the Aytch-arts u and Esqui-ates,12 also tributary, with the Kla-oo-quates,18 and the Wickannish, a
large and powerful tribe about two hundred miles
These last were better clad than most of the others,
and their canoes wrought with   much greater skill;
1 Ayhuttisahts.
3 This name is unknown to me.
3Nahwittis, or Flatlashekwill, an almost vanished tribe, join the north
end of Vancouver Island (Goletas Channel, Galliano Island, and westward to Cape Scott).
4 The name of some village, not a tribe.
8 Ahousahts.
6 Mooachahts.   The '' Nootkans " proper of Friendly Cove.
7 Seshahts, but they are to the south (Alberni Canal) and Barclay
8 Noochahlahts (lat 49 ° 47' 20 • N.).
9 Muchlahts, or Quaquina arm.
10 Ky -yoh-quah ts.
n This is probably another spelling of the E-cha-chahts.
"Hishquayahts (lat. 490 27' 31" N., long. 1260 25' 27* W.
13 Klahoquahts. This and the other tribes mentioned in the text are no
longer tributary to the Mooachahts, and there is no " Wickannish" tribe.
As we have already seen (p. 38), it is the name of an individual—probably
the chief of the Klahoquahts. It is a common name. The Nettinahts
and the Klahoquahts are still renowned in canoe-making. They chisel
them out of the great cedar (Thuja gigantea) trees in this district, for
sale to other tribes. But Jewitt, who had no personal knowledge of the
homes of these tribes, makes sad havoc of their names and the direction
from which they came. 78
Adventures of John Jewitt
they are furnished with sails as well as paddles, and,
with the advantage of a fair breeze, are usually but
twenty-four hours on their passage.
Maquina, who was very proud of his new acquisition,
was desirous of welcoming these visitors in the European
manner. He accordingly ordered his men, as the canoes
approached, to assemble on the beach with loaded
muskets and blunderbusses, placing Thompson at the
cannon, which had been brought from the ship and laid
upon two long sticks of timber in front of the village ;
then, taking a speaking trumpet in his hand, he
ascended with me the roof of his house, and began
drumming or beating upon the boards with a stick
most violently.
Nothing could be more ludicrous than the appearance
of this motley group of savages collected on the shore,
dressed as they were with their ill-gotten finery in the
most fantastic manner, some in women's smocks, taken
from our cargo, others in Kotsacks} (or cloaks) of blue,
red, or yellow broadcloth, with stockings drawn over
their heads, and their necks hung round with numbers
of powder-horns, shot-bags, and cartouch-boxes, some
of them having no less than ten muskets apiece on their
shoulders, and five or six daggers in their girdles.
Diverting indeed was it to see them all squatted upon
the beach, holding their muskets perpendicularly with
1 Kootsik, the "cotsack" of Meares. Kootsik-poom is the pin by which
the Indian blanket cloak is fastened. In Meares's time the people dressed
in kootsiks of sea-otter skin. But even then they were getting so fond of
blankets, that without "woollens" among the barter^ trade was difficult.
In- fifteen years they learned a better use for sea-otters worth ,£20 apiece
than to make cloaks of them. Welcoming the Visitors
the butt pressed upon the sand, instead of against
their shoulders, and in this position awaiting the order
to fire.
Maquina, at last, called to them with his trumpet to fire,
which they did in the most awkward and timid manner,
with their muskets hard pressed upon the ground as
above-mentioned. At the same moment the cannon
was fired by Thompson, immediately on which they
threw themselves back and began to roll and tumble
over the sand as if they had been shot, when, suddenly
springing up, they began a song of .triumph, and, running
backward and forward upon the shore, with the wildest
gesticulations, boasted of their exploits, and exhibited as
trophies what they had taken from us. Notwithstanding the unpleasantness of my situation, and the feelings
that this display of our spoils excited, I could not avoid
laughing at the strange appearance of these savages,
their awkward movements, and the singular contrast of
their dress and arms.
When the ceremony was concluded, Maquina invited
the strangers to a feast at his house, consisting of whale-
blubber, smoked herring spawn, and dried fish and train-
oil, of which they ate most plentifully. The feast being
over, the trays out of which they ate, and other things,
were immediately removed to make room for the dance,
which was to close the entertainment. This was performed by Maquina's son, the young prince Sat-sat-sok-
sis, whom I have already spoken of, in the following
Three of the principal chiefs, drest in their otter-skin
mantles, which they wear only on extraordinary occasions
and at festivals, having their heads covered over with So
Adventures of John Jewitt
white down and their faces highly painted, came forward
into the middle of the room, each furnished with a bag
filled with white down, which they scattered around in
such a manner as to represent a fall of snow. These
were followed by the young prince, who was dressed in a
long piece of yellow cloth, wrapped loosely around him,
and decorated with small bells, with a cap on his head to
which was fastened a curious mask in imitation of a wolfs
head, while the rear was brought up by the king himself
in his robe of sea-otter skin, with a small whistle in his
mouth and a rattle in his hand, with which he kept time
to a sort of tune on his whistle. After passing very rapidly
in this order around the house, each of them seated
himself, except the prince, who immediately began his
dance, which principally consisted in springing up into
the air in a squat posture, and constantly turning
around on his heels with great swiftness in a very
narrow circle.
This dance, with a few intervals of rest, was continued
for about two hours, during which the chiefs kept up a
constant drumming with sticks of about a foot in length
on a long hollow plank, which was, though a very noisy,
a most doleful kind of music. This they accompanied
with songs, the king himself acting as chorister, while
the women applauded each feat of activity in the dancer,
by repeating the words, Wocash ! Wocash Tyee !x that
is, Good ! very good, Prince !
1 The words were really Waw-kash (a word of salutation) and Tyee.
This is in most common use in Nootka Sound. The order of salutation
to a man is Quaache-is, to a woman Chi-is, and at parting Alack-she. A
married woman is Klootsnah; a young girl Hah-quatl-is \ an unmarried
woman (whether old or young) Hah~quatl—distinctions which Jewitt does
not make in his brief vocabulary.    The Indians have many Words to The King's Reception
As soon as the dance was finished, Maquina began
to give presents to the strangers, in the name of his son
Sat-sat-sok-sis. These were pieces of European cloth,
generally of a fathom in length, muskets, powder, shot, etc.
Whenever he gave them anything, they had a peculiar
manner of snatching it from him with a very stern
and surly look, repeating each time the words, Wocash
Tyee. This I understood to be their custom, and was
considered as a compliment, which, if omitted, would
be supposed as a mark of disregard for the present.
On this occasion Maquina gave away no less than one
hundred muskets, the same number of looking-glasses,
four hundred yards of cloth, and twenty casks of
powder, besides other things.
After receiving these presents, the strangers retired
on board their canoes, for so numerous were they that
Maquina would not suffer any but the chiefs to sleep
in the houses; and, in order to prevent the property
from being pillaged by them, he ordered Thompson and
myself to keep guard during the night, armed with
cutlasses and pistols.
In this manner tribes of savages from various parts
of the coast continued coming for several days, bringing
with them blubber, oil, herring spawn, dried fish, and
clams, for which they received in return presents of
cloth, etc., after which they in general immediately
returned home. I observed that very few, if any, of
them, except the chiefs, had arms, which, I afterwards
express varieties of the same action. Thus pdttes means to wash. But
pdttee is to wash all over; tsont-soomik, to wash the hands; tsocuks, to
wash a pan, etc Haouivith, or Hawilth, is the original word for chief,
though Tyee is commonly used,
6* Adventures of John Jewitt
learned, is the custom with these people, whenever they
come upon a friendly visit or to trade, in order to show,
on their approach, that their intentions are pacific.1
1 This is one of the earliest—if not the first—account of these periodical
givings away of property so characteristic of the North-Western coast
Indians, and known to the whites as " Pot latches." An Indian accumulates
blankets and other portable property simply to give away at such feasts.
Then if a poor, he becomes a great man, and even a kind of minor chief
—a Life Peer, as it were. But those who have received much are expected
to return the compliment by also giving a "potlatch," to which guests
come from far and near. I have described one of these in The Races of
Mankind (the first edition of The Peoples of the World), vol. i. pp. 75-90. ponpi
Early on the morning of the 19th the ship was discovered to be on fire. This was owing to one of the
savages having gone on board with a firebrand at night
for the purpose of plunder, some sparks from which fell
into the hold, and, communicating with some combustibles, soon enveloped the whole in flames. The
natives regretted the loss of the ship the more as a
great part of her cargo still remained on board. To my
companion and myself it was a most melancholy sight,
for with her disappeared from our eyes every trace of a
civilised country; but the disappointment we experienced was still more severely felt, for we had calculated
on having the provision to ourselves, which would have
furnished us with a stock for years, as whatever is cured
with salt, together with most of our other articles of
food, are never eaten by these people. I had luckily
saved all my tools, excepting the anvil and the bellows,
which was attached to the forge, and from their weight
had not been brought on shore. We had also the good
fortune, in looking over what had been taken from the.
ship, to discover a box of chocolate and a case of port
wine, which, as the Indians were not fond of it, proved
83 iBKHn
Adventures of John Jewitt
a great comfort to us for some time; and from one of
the natives I obtained a Nautical Almanack which had
belonged to the captain, and which was of great use to
me in determining the time.
About two days after, on examining their booty, the
savages found a tierce of rum, with which they were
highly delighted, as they have become very fond
of spirituous liquors since their intercourse with the
whites.1 This was towards evening, and Maquina, having assembled all the men at his house, gave a feast, at
which they drank so freely of the rum, that in a short
time they became so extremely wild and frantic that
Thompson and myself, apprehensive for our safety,
thought it prudent to retire privately into the woods,
where we continued till past midnight.
On our return we found the women gone, who are
always very temperate, drinking nothing but water,
having quitted the house and gone to the other huts to
sleep, so terrified were they at the conduct of the men,
who lay all stretched out on the floor in a state of complete intoxication. How easy in this situation would
it have been for us to have dispatched or made ourselves
masters of our enemies had there been any ship near to
which we could have escaped, but as we were situated
the attempt would have been madness. The wish of
revenge was, however, less strongly impressed on my
mind than what appeared to be so evident an interposition of Divine Providence in our favour. How little can
man penetrate its designs, and how frequently is that
1 It was about this date that Long, an Indian trader, described rum as
the ununi necessdrium for traffic with the savages. It is still eagerly
asked for, though its sale or gift is illegal. Recovered of my Wound
intended as a blessing which he views as a curse. The
burning of our ship, which we had lamented so much,
as depriving us of so many comforts, now appeared to
us in a very different light, for, had the savages got
possession of the rum, of which there were nearly twenty
puncheons on board,1 we must inevitably have fallen a
sacrifice to their fury in some of their moments of intoxication. This cask, fortunately, and a case of gin,
was all the spirits they obtained from the ship. To
prevent the recurrence of similar danger, I examined the
cask, and, finding still a considerable quantity remaining,
I bored a small hole in the bottom with a gimblet,
which before morning, to my great joy, completely
emptied it.
By this time the wound in my head began to be
much better, so that I could enjoy some sleep, which I
had been almost deprived of by the pain, and though I
was still feeble from the loss of blood and my sufferings, I found myself sufficiently well, to go to work at
my trade, in making for the king and his wives bracelets
and other small ornaments of copper or steel, and in
repairing the arms, making use of a large square stone
for the anvil, and heating my metal in a common wood
fire. This was very gratifying to Maquina, and his
women particularly, and secured me their goodwill.
In the meantime, great numbers from the other tribes
kept continually flocking to Nootka, bringing with them,
in exchange for the ship's plunder, such quantities of
provision, that, notwithstanding the little success that
Maquina met with in whaling this season, and their
gluttonous waste, always eating to excess when they
1 For sale, of course, to the Indians. 86
Adventures of John Jewitt
have it, regardless of the morrow, seldom did the natives
experience any want of food during the summer. As
to myself and companion, we fared as they did, never
wanting for such provision as they had, though we were
obliged to eat it cooked in their manner, and with train-
oil as a sauce, a circumstance not a little unpleasant,
both from their uncleanly mode of cooking and many
of the articles of their food, which to a European are
very disgusting; but, as the saying is, hunger will break
through stone walls, and we found, at times, in the
blubber of sea animals and the flesh of the dog-fish,
loathsome as it generally was, a very acceptable repast.
But much oftener would poor Thompson, who was no
favourite with them, have suffered from hunger had it
not been for my furnishing him with provision. This I
was enabled to do from my work, Maquina allowing me
the privilege, when not employed for him, to work for
myself in making bracelets and other ornaments of
copper, fish-hooks, daggers, etc., either to sell to the
tribes who visited us or for our own chiefs, who on these
occasions, besides supplying me with as much as I
wished to eat, and a sufficiency for Thompson, almost
always made me a present of a European garment,
taken from the ship, or some fathoms of cloth, which
were made up by my comrade, and enabled us to go
comfortably clad for some time; or small bundles of
penknives, razors, scissors, etc., for one of which we
could almost always procure from the natives two or
three fresh salmon, cod, or halibut; or dried fish, clams,
and herring spawn from the stranger tribes; and had
we only been permitted to cook them after our own
way, as we had pots and other utensils belonging to Curious Cooking Customs
the ship, we should not have had much cause of complaint in this respect; but so tenacious are these people
of their customs, particularly in the article of food and
cooking, that the king always obliged me to give whatever provision I bought to the women to cook. And
one day, finding Thompson and myself on the shore
employed in boiling down sea-water into salt, on being
told what it was he was very much displeased, and, taking the little we had procured, threw it into the sea. In
one instance alone, as a particular favour, he allowed
me to boil some salmon in my own way, when I invited
him and his queen to eat with me; they tasted it, but
did not like it, and made their meal of some of it that
I had cooked in their country fashion.
In May the weather became uncommonly mild and
pleasant, and so forward was vegetation, that I picked
plenty of strawberriesx by the middle of the month. Of
this fruit there are great quantities on this coast, and I
found them a most delicious treat.
My health now had become almost re-established,
my wound being so far healed that it gave me no
further trouble. I had never failed to wash it regularly
once a day in sea water, and to dress it with a fresh leaf
of tobacco, which I obtained from the natives, who had
taken it from the ship, but made no use of it. This was
all the dressing Igave it, except applying to it two or
three times a little loaf sugar, which Maquina gave me,
in order to remove some proud flesh, which prevented
it from closing.
My cure would doubtless have been much sooner
effected had I have been in a civilised country, where I
1 Chiefly Fragaria chilensis. 88
Adventures of John Jewitt
could have had it dressed by a surgeon and properly
attended to. But alas ! I had no good Samaritan, with
oil and wine, to bind up my wounds, and fortunate
might I even esteem myself that I was permitted to dress
it myself, for the utmost that I could expect from the
natives was compassion for my misfortunes, which I
indeed experienced from the women, particularly the
queen, or favourite wife of Maquina, the mother of Sat-
sat-sok-sis, who used frequently to point to my head,
and manifest much kindness and solicitude for me. I
must do Maquina the justice to acknowledge, that he
always appeared desirous of sparing me any labour
which he believed might be hurtful to me, frequently
inquiring in an affectionate manner if my head pained
me. As for the others, some of the chiefs excepted,
they cared little what became of me, and probably would
have been gratified with my death.
My health being at length re-established and my
wound healed, Thompson became very importunate for
me to begin my journal, and as I had no ink, proposed
to cut his finger to supply me with blood for the purpose
whenever I should want it. On the 1st of June I
accordingly commenced a regular diary, but had no
occasion to make use of the expedient suggested by my
comrade, having- found a much better substitute in the
expressed juice of a certain plant, which furnished me
with a bright green colour, and, after making a number
of trials, I at length succeeded in obtaining a very
tolerable ink, by boiling the juice of the blackberry with
a mixture of finely powdered charcoal, and filtering it
through a cloth. This I afterwards preserved in bottles,
and found it answer very well, so true is it that" necessity I Begin my Journal
is the mother of invention." As for quills, I found no
difficulty in procuring them whenever I wanted, from
the crows and ravens with which the beach was almost
always covered, attracted by the offal of whales, seals,
etc., and which were so tame that I could easily kill them
with stones, while a large clam-shell furnished me with
an inkstand.
The extreme solicitude of Thompson that I should
begin my journal might be considered as singular in a
man. who neither knew how to read or write, a circumstance, by the way, very uncommon in an American,
were we less acquainted with the force of habit, he
having been for many years at sea, and accustomed to
consider the keeping of a journal as a thing indispensable. This man was born in Philadelphia, and at eight
years old ran away from his friends and entered as a
cabin boy on board a ship bound to London. On his
arrival there, finding himself in distress, he engaged as
an apprentice to the captain of a collier, from whence
he was impressed on board an English man-of-war, and
continued in the British naval service about twenty-
seven years, during which he was present at the engagement under Lord Howe with the French fleet in June
1794, and when peace was made between England
and France, was discharged. He was a very strong
and powerful man, an expert boxer, and perfectly
fearless; indeed, so little was his dread of danger,
that when irritated he was wholly regardless of his
life. Of this the following will furnish a sufficient
One evening about the middle of April, as I was at
the house of one of  the  chiefs, where  I had been 90
Adventures of John Jewitt
employed on some work for him, word was brought
me that Maquina was going to kill Thompson. I
immediately hurried home, where I found the king in
the act of presenting a loaded musket at Thompson,
who was standing before him with his breast bared
and calling on him to fire. I instantly stepped up to
Maquina, who was foaming with rage, and, addressing
him in soothing words, begged him for my sake
not to kill my father, and at length succeeded in
taking the musket from him and persuading him to sit
On inquiring into the cause of his anger, I learned
that, while Thompson was lightings the lamps in the
king's room, Maquina having substituted ours for their
pine torches, some of the boys began to tease him,
running around him and pulling him by the trousers,
among the most forward of whom was the young prince.
This caused Thompson to spill the oil, which threw him
into such a passion, that, without caring what he did,
he struck the prince so violent a blow in his face with
his fist as to knock him down. The sensation excited
among the savages by an act which was considered as
the highest indignity, and a profanation of the sacred
person of majesty, may be easily conceived. The king
was immediately acquainted with it, who, on coming in
and seeing his son's face covered with blood, seized a
musket and began to load it, determined to take instant
revenge of the audacious offender, and had I arrived a
few moments later than I did, my companion would
certainly have paid with his life for his rash and violent
conduct. I found the utmost difficulty in pacifying
Maquina, who for a long time after could not forgive m   inwwm
Thompson's Temper
Thompson, but would repeatedly say, " John, you die—
Thompson kill."
But to appease the king was not all that was necessary.
In consequence of the insult offered to their prince, the
whole tribe held a council, in which it was unanimously
resolved that Thompson should be put to death in the
most cruel manner. I however interceded so strenuously
with Maquina for his life, telling him that if my father
was killed, I was determined not to survive him, that he
refused to deliver him up to the vengeance of his people,
saying, that for John's sake they must consent to let
him live. The prince, who, after I had succeeded in
calming his father, gave me an account of what had
happened, told me that it was wholly out of regard to
me, as Thompson was my father, that his life had been
spared, for that if any one of the tribe should dare to
lift a hand against him in anger, he would most certainly
be put to death.
Yet even this narrow escape produced not much effect
on Thompson, or induced him to restrain the violence of
his temper. For, not many weeks after, he was guilty of
a similar indiscretion, in striking the eldest son of a chief,
who was about eighteen years old, and, according to
their custom, was considered as a Tyee, or chief, himself,
in consequence of his having provoked him by calling
him a white slave. This affair caused great commotion
in the village, and the tribe was very clamorous for his
death, but Maquina would not consent.
I used frequently to remonstrate with him on the
imprudence of his conduct, and beg him to govern his
temper better, telling him that it was our duty, since our
lives were in the power of these savages, to do nothing 11 "■
i   1 r 1
Adventures of John Jewitt
to exasperate them. But all I could say on this point
availed little, for so bitter was the hate he felt for them,
which he was no way backward in manifesting both by
his looks and actions, that he declared he never would
submit to their insults, and that he had much rather be
killed than be obliged to live among them; adding that
he only wished he had a good vessel and some guns,
and he would destroy the whole of the cursed race; for
to a brave sailor like him, who had fought the French
and Spaniards with glory, it was a punishment worse
than death to be a slave to such a poor, ignorant,
despicable set of beings.
As for myself, I thought very differently. After returning thanks to that merciful Being who had in so
wonderful a manner softened the hearts of the savages
in my favour, I had determined from the first of my
capture to adopt a conciliating conduct towards them,
and conform myself, as far as was in my power, to their
customs and mode of thinking, trusting that the same
divine goodness that had rescued me from death, would
not always suffer me to languish in captivity among
these heathens.
With this view, I sought to gain their good-will by
always endeavouring to assume a cheerful countenance,
appearing pleased with their sports and buffoon tricks,
making little ornaments for the wives and children
of their chiefs, by which means I became quite a
favourite with them, and fish-hooks, daggers, etc., for
As a further recommendation to their favour, and
what might eventually prove of the utmost importance
to us, I resolved to learn their language, which in the Learning the Language
course of a few months1 residence I so far succeeded in
acquiring, as to be able in general to make myself well
I likewise tried to persuade Thompson to learn it, as
what might prove necessary to him. But he refused,
saying that he hated both them and their cursed lingo,
and would have nothing to do with it.
By pursuing this conciliatory plan, so far did I gain
the good-will of these savages, particularly the chiefs,
that I scarcely ever failed experiencing kind treatment
from them, and was received with a smile of welcome at
their houses, where I was always sure of having something given me to eat, whenever they had it, and many
a good meal have I had from them, when they themselves were short of provisions and suffering for the
want of them.
And it was a common practice with me, when we
had nothing to eat at home, which happened not
unfrequently during my stay among them, to go
around the village, and on noticing a smoke from any
of the houses, which denoted that they were cooking,
enter in without ceremony, and ask them for something,
which I was never refused.
Few nations, indeed, are there so very rude and
unfeeling, whom constant mild treatment, and an
attention to please, will not mollify and obtain from
some return of kind attention. This the treatment I
received from these people may exemplify, for not
numerous, even among those calling themselves civilised,
are there instances to be found of persons depriving
themselves of food to give it to a stranger, whatever
may be his merits. Adventures of John Jewitt
It may perhaps be as well in this place to give a
description of Nootka; some accounts of the tribes
who were accustomed to visit us; and the manners
and customs of the people, as far as I hitherto had
an opportunity of observing them. mm*m
description of nootka sound—manner of building HOUSES—FURNITURE—DRESSES
The village of Nootka is situated in between 49 and
50 deg. N. lat.,1 at the bottom of Friendly Cove, on the
west or north-west side. It consists of about twenty
houses or huts, on a small hill, which rises with a gentle
ascent from the shore. Friendly Cove, which affords
good and secure anchorage for ships close in with the
shore, is a small harbour of not more than a quarter or
half a mile in length, and about half a mile or three-
quarters broad, formed by the line of coast on the east
and a long point or headland, which extends as much
as three leagues into the Sound, in nearly a westerly
direction.2 This, as well as I can judge from what I
have seen of it, is in general from one to two miles in
breadth, and mostly a rocky and unproductive soil, with
1 The exact position of the village is laL 490 35' 31" N.; long. 1260
37' 32" W.
2 According to the Admiralty Sailing Directions, the Cove is about two
cables in extent, and sheltered from the sea by a small rocky high-water
island on its east side. It affords anchorage in the middle for only one
vessel of moderate size, though several small vessels might find shelter.
When Vancouver visited it in 1792, no less than eight ships were in it,
most of them small, and secured to the shore "by hawsers.
95 I
Adventures of John Jewitt
but few trees. The eastern and western shores of this
harbour are steep and in many parts rocky, the trees
growing quite to the water's edge, but the bottom to the
north and north-west is a fine sandy beach of half a
mile or more in extent.
From the village to the north and north-east extends
a plain, the soil of which is very excellent, and with
proper cultivation may be made to produce almost any
of our European vegetables ; this is but little more than
half a mile in breadth, and is terminated by the sea-
coast, which in this place is lined with rocks and reefs,
and cannot be approached by ships. The coast in the
neighbourhood of Nootka is in general low, and but
little broken into hills and valleys. The soil is good,
well covered with fine forests of pine, spruce, beech,
and other trees, and abounds with streams of the finest
water, the general appearance being the same for many
miles around.
The village is situated on the ground occupied by the
Spaniards, when they kept a garrison here ; the foundations of the church and the governor's house are yet
visible, and a few European plants are still to be found,
which continue to be self-propagated, such as onions,
peas, and turnips, but the two last are quite small, particularly the turnips, which afforded us nothing but
the tops for eating. Their former village stood on the
same spot, but the Spaniards, finding it a commodious
situation, demolished the houses, and forced the inhabitants to retire five or six miles into the country.1    With
1 This means farther up the Sound ; for there are villages in the interior
of Vancouver Island. The Admiralty Sailing Directions declare that not
a trace of the Spanish settlement now exists.   This is scarcely correct,   mmmm
Houses of the Natives
great sorrow, as Maquina told me, did they find themselves compelled to quit their ancient place of residence,
but with equal joy did they repossess themselves of
it when the Spanish garrison was expelled by the
The houses, as I have observed, are above twenty in
number, built nearly in a line. These are of different
sizes, according to the rank or quality of the Tyee, or
chief, who lives in them, each having one, of which he is
considered as the lord. They vary not much in width,
being usually from thirty-six to forty feet wide, but are
of very different lengths, that of the king, which is much
the longest, being about one hundred and fifty feet,
while the smallest, which contain only two families, do
not exceed forty feet in length; the house of the king is
also distinguished from the others by being higher.
Their method of building is as follows : they erect in
the ground two very large posts, at such a distance apart
as is intended for the length of the house. On these,
which are of equal height, and hollowed out at the upper
end, they lay a large spar for the ridge-pole of the build-
for an indistinct ridge shows the site of houses, and here and there a few
bricks half hidden in the ground may be detected. I have seen a cannon
ball and a Mexican dollar found there. Many of the Nootka Indians have
large moustaches and whiskers, which may possibly be due to their-
Spanish blood, and others were decidedly Chinese-looking, a fact which
may be traced to the presence of Meares's Chinese carpenters in 1778-79.
Some of them can, or could, thirty years ago, by tradition, count ten
in Spanish; and there is a legend in the Sound to the effect that the
white men had begun to cultivate the ground, and to erect a stockade and
fort; when one day a ship came with papers for the head man, who was
observed to cry, and all the foreigners became sad. The next day they
began moving their goods to the ship. But, as Mr. Sproat suggests, this
might have reference to Meares's settlement. &• (
ioo Adventures of John Jewitt
ing, or, if the length of the house requires it, two or more,
supporting their ends by similar upright posts; these
spars are sometimes of an almost incredible size,
having myself measured one in Maquina's house, which
I found to be one hundred feet long and eight feet four
inches in circumference. At equal distances from these
two posts, two others are placed on each side, to form
the width of the building; these are rather shorter than
the first, and on them are laid in like manner spars, but
of a smaller size, having the upper part hewed flat, with
a narrow ridge on the outer side to support the ends of
the planks.
The roof is formed of pine planks with a broad feather
edge, so as to lap well over each other, which are laid
lengthwise from the ridge-pole in the centre, to the
beams at the sides, after which the top is covered with
planks of eight feet broad, which form a kind of coving
projecting so far over the ends of the planks that form
the roof, as completely to exclude the rain. On these
they lay large stones to prevent their being displaced
by the wind. The ends of the planks are not secured
to the beams on which they are laid by any fastening,
so that in a high storm I have often known all the men
obliged to turn out and go upon the roof to prevent
them from being blown off, carrying large stones and
pieces of rock with them to secure the boards, always
stripping themselves naked on these occasions, whatever
may be the severity of the weather, to prevent their
garments from being wet and muddied, as these storms
are almost always accompanied with heavy rains. The
sides of their houses are much more open and exposed
to the weather; this proceeds from their not being so mm
Houses of the Natives
easily made close as the roof, being built with planks of
about ten feet long and four or five wide, which they
place between stancheons or small posts of the height
of the roof; of these there are four to each range of
boards, two at each end, and so near each other as to
leave space enough for admitting a plank. The planks
or boards which they make use of for building their
houses, and for other uses, they procure of different
lengths as occasion requires, by splitting them out
with hard wooden wedges from pine logs, and afterwards dubbing them down with their chisels, with much
patience, to the thickness wanted, rendering them quite
There is but one entrance; this is placed usually at
the end, though sometimes in the middle, as was that of
Maquina's. Through the middle of the building, from
one end to the other, runs a passage of about eight or
nine feet broad, on each side of which the several
families that occupy it live, each having its particular
fireplace, but without any kind of wall or separation to
mark their respective limits; the chief having his apartment at the upper end, and the next in rank opposite
on the other side. They have no other floor than the
ground; the fireplace or hearth consists of a number of
stones loosely put together, but they are wholly without
a chimney, nor is there any opening left in the roof, but
whenever a fire is made, the plank immediately over it
is thrust aside, by means of a pole, to give vent to the
The height of the houses in general, from the ground
to the centre of the roof, does not exceed ten feet, that of
Maquina's was not far from fourteen ; the spar forming io2 Adventures of John Jewitt
the ridge-pole of the latter was painted in red and black
circles alternately, by way of ornament, and the large
posts that supported it had their tops curiously wrought
or carved, so as to represent human heads of a monstrous
size, which were painted in their manner. These were
not, however, considered as objects of adoration, but
merely as ornaments.1
The furniture of these people is very simple, and consists only of boxes, in which they put their clothes, furs,
and such things as they hold most valuable; tubs for
keeping their provisions of spawn and blubber in; trays
from which they eat; baskets for their dried fish and
other purposes, and bags made of bark matting, of which
they also make their beds, spreading a piece of it upon
the ground when they lie down, and using no other bed
covering than their garments. The boxes are of pine,
with a top that shuts over, and instead of nails or pegs,
are fastened with flexible twigs; they are extremely
smooth and high polished, and sometimes ornamented
with rows of very small white shells. The tubs are of a
square form, secured in the like manner, and of various
sizes, some being extremely large, having seen them
that were six feet long by four broad and five deep.
The trays are hollowed out with their chisels from a
solid block of wood, and the baskets and mats are made
from the bark of trees.
From bark they likewise make the cloth for their
garments, in the following manner:—A quantity of this
bark is taken and put into fresh water, where it is
kept for a fortnight, to give it time to completely soften \
1 This is a good description of the house of Maquina's grandson, as I
saw it fifty-eight years after Jewitt's time.   Dress of the Natives
it is then taken out and beaten upon a plank, with an
instrument made of bone, or some very hard wood,
having grooves or hollows on one side of it, care being
taken to keep the mass constantly moistened with
water, in order to separate, with more ease, the hard
and woody from the soft and fibrous parts, which,
when completed, they parcel out into skeins, like thread.
These they lay in the air to bleach, and afterwards dye
them black or red, as suits their fancies, their natural
colour being a pale yellow. In order to form the
cloth, the women, by whom the whole of this process
is performed, take a certain number of these skeins
and twist them together, by rolling them with their
hands upon their knees into hard rolls, which are afterwards connected by means of a strong thread, made for
the purpose.
Their dress usually consists of but a single garment,
which is a loose cloak or mantle (called kutsack) in one
piece, reaching nearly to the feet. This is tied loosely
over the right or left shoulder, so as to leave the arms
at full liberty.
Those of the common people are painted red with
ochre the better to keep out the rain, but the chiefs
wear them of their native colour, which is a pale yellow,
ornamenting them with borders of the sea-otter skin,
a kind of grey cloth made of the hair of some animall
which they procure from the tribes to the south, or
their own cloth wrought or painted with various figures
in red or black, representing men's heads, the sun and
moon, fish and animals, which are frequently executed
1 Dog's hair.   A tribe on Fraser River used to keep flocks of these curs,
which they periodically clipped like sheep. 11 V
106   Adventures of John Jewitt
with much skill. They have also a girdle of the same
kind for securing this mantle or kutsack around them,
which is in general still more highly ornamented, and
serves them to wear their daggers and knives in. In
winter, however, they sometimes make use of an
additional garment, which is a kind of hood, with a hole
in it for the purpose of admitting the head, and falls
over the breast and back, as low as the shoulders; this
is bordered both at top and bottom with fur, and is
never worn except when they go out.
The garments of the women vary not essentially from
those of the men, the mantle having holes in it for the
purpose of admitting the arms, and being tied close
under the chin instead of over the shoulder. The chiefs
have also mantles of the sea-otter skin, but these are
only put on upon extraordinary occasions ; and one
that is made from the skin of a certain large animal,
which is brought from the south by the Wickanninish1
and Kla-iz-zarts.2 This they prepare by dressing it in
warm water, scraping off the hair and what flesh adheres
to it carefully with sharp mussel-shells, and spreading
it out in the sun to dry on a wooden frame, so as to
preserve the shape. When dressed in this manner it
becomes perfectly white, and as pliable as the best
deer's leather, but almost as thick again. They then
paint it in different figures with such paints as they
usually employ in decorating their persons; these
figures mostly represent human heads, canoes employed
in catching whales, etc.
This skin is called metamelth, and is probably got
1 Probably the Klayoquahts (see p. 77)«
2 Klahosahts. Their Head-Gear
from an animal of the moose kind ; it is highly prized by
these people, is their great war dress, and only worn
when they wish to make the best possible display of
themselves. Strips or bands of it, painted as above, are
also sometimes used by them for girdles or the bordering of their cloaks, and also for bracelets and ankle
ornaments by some of the inferior class.
On their heads, when they go out upon any excursion,
particularly whaling or fishing, they wear a kind of cap
or bonnet in form not unlike a large sugar loaf with the
top cut off. This is made of the same materials with
their cloth,1 but is in general of a closer texture, and
by way of tassel has a long strip of the skin of the
metamelth2 attached to it, covered with rows of small
white shells or beads. Those worn by the common
people are painted entirely red, the chiefs having theirs
of different colours. The one worn by the king, and
which serves to designate him from all the others, is
longer and broader at the bottom; the top, instead of
being flat, having upon it an ornament in the figure
of a small urn. It is also of a much finer texture
than the others, and plaited or wrought in black and
white stripes, with the representation in front of a canoe
in pursuit of a whale, with the harpooner standing in
1 The outside is made of cedar bark, the inside of white-hair bark.
21 have more than once discussed the identity of this animal with
Indian traders. None of them recognised it, nor, indeed, were acquainted
with the animal by the name Jewitt applies to it. It is, however, not
unlikely the North-Western marmot (Arctomys pruinosus), specimens
of which are now and then—though, it must be admitted, rarely—seen in
Vancouver Island; but it is more common farther south. The Alberni
Indians (Seshahts and Opechesahts) used to talk of a beast called Sit-si-
lehl, which we took to be the marmot, and Mr. Sproat saw one; I was
not so fortunate. .
io8 Adventures of John Jewitt
the prow prepared to strike. This bonnet is called
Their mode of living is very simple—their food
consisting almost wholly of fish, or fish spawn fresh or
dried, the blubber of the whale, seal, or sea-cow, mussels,
clams, and berries of various kinds; all of which are
eaten with a profusion of train-oil for sauce, not excepting even the most delicate fruit, as strawberries and
With so little variety in their food, no great secret
can be expected in their cookery. Of this, indeed, they
may be said to know but two methods, viz. by boiling
and steaming, and even the latter is not very frequently
practised by them. Their mode of boiling is as
follows :—Into one of their tubs they pour water
sufficient to cook the quantity of provision wanted. A
number of heated stones are then put in to make it boil,
when the salmon or other fish are put in without any
other preparation than sometimes cutting off the heads,
tails, and fins, the boiling in the meantime being kept
up by the application of the hot stones, after which it
is left to cook until the whole is nearly reduced to one
mass. It is then taken out and distributed in the trays.
In a similar manner they cook their blubber and spawn,
smoked or dried fish, and, in fine, almost everything
they eat, nothing going down with them like broth.
When they cook their fish by steam, which are
usually the heads, tails, and fins of the salmon, cod, and
halibut, a large fire is kindled, upon which they place a
bed of stones, which, when the wood is burnt down,
becomes perfectly heated. Layers of green leaves or
pine boughs are then placed upon the stones, and the Cookery and Meals
fish, clams, etc., being laid upon them, water is poured
over them, and the whole closely covered with mats to
keep in the steam. This is much the best mode of
cooking, and clams and mussels done in this manner
are really excellent.1 These, as I have said, may be
considered as their only kinds of cookery; though I
have, in a very few instances, known them dress the roe
or spawn of the salmon and the herring, when first
taken, in a different manner; this was by roasting them,
the former being supported between two split pieces of
pine, and the other having a sharp stick run through it,
with one end fixed in the ground; sprats are also
roasted by them in this way, a number being spitted
upon one stick; and this kind of food, with a little salt,
would be found no contemptible eating even to an
At their meals they seat themselves upon the
ground, with their feet curled up under them, around
their trays, which are generally about three feet long
by one broad, and from six to eight inches deep. In
eating they make use of nothing but their fingers,
except for the soup or oil, which they lade out with
Around one of these trays from four to six persons
will, seat themselves, constantly dipping in their fingers
or clam-shells one after the other. The king and chiefs
alone have separate trays, from which no one is permitted to eat with them except the queen, or principal
wife of the chief; and whenever the king or one of the
1 In the opinion of the judicious Jewitt, every one who has eaten food—
especially salmon and shell-fish—cooked after this fashion will coincide.
Experto crede. no   Adventures of John Jewitt
chiefs wishes to distinguish any of his people with a
special mark of favour on these occasions, he calls him
and gives him some of the choice bits from his tray.
The slaves eat at the same time, and of the same provisions, faring in this respect as well as their masters,
being seated with the family, and only feeding from
separate trays.
Whenever a feast is given by the king or any of
the chiefs, there is a person who acts as a master of
ceremonies, and whose business it is to receive the
guests as they enter the house, and point out to them
their respective seats, which is regulated with great
punctiliousness as regards rank ; the king occupying
the highest or the seat of honour, his son or brother
sitting next him, and so on with the chiefs according to
their quality; the private persons belonging to the same
family being always placed together, to prevent any
confusion. The women are seldom invited to their
feasts, and only at those times when a general invitation
is given to the village.1
As, whenever they cook, they always calculate to
have an abundance for all the guests, a profusion in
this respect being considered as the highest luxury,
much more is usually set before them than they can eat.
That which is left in the king's tray, he sends to his
house for his family by one of his slaves, as do the
chiefs theirs ; while those who eat from the same tray,
and who generally belong to the same family, take it
home as common stock, or each one receives his portion,
which is distributed on the spot.    This custom appeared
1 Or to one or more of the neighbouring tribes, such feasts being known
as Wawkoahs, ..,,,,,„   . ..jjuw
Remains from the Feast
very singular to my companion and myself, and it was
a most awkward thing for us, at first, to have to lug
home with us, in our hands or arms, the blubber of fish
that we received at these times, but we soon became
reconciled to it, and were very glad of an opportunity
to do it.
appearance of the NATIVES-
In point of personal appearance the people of Nootka
are among the best-looking of any of the tribes that I
have seen. The men are in general from about five feet
six to five feet eight inches in height; remarkably straight,
of a good form, robust and strong, with their limbs in
general well turned and proportioned, excepting the
legs and feet, which are clumsy and ill formed, owing,
no doubt, to their practice of sitting on them, though
I have seen instances in which they were very well
shaped; this defect is more particularly apparent in the
women, who are for the most part of the time within
doors, and constantly sitting while employed in their
cooking and other occupations.1   The only instance of
1 Yet they are by no means weak in the legs, a coast Indian being
capable of long travel in the bush without tiring. The Hydahs of Queen
Charlotte Island, and the Tlinkets and Kaloshes of the neighbouring
mainland, are splendid specimens of men, tall, comparatively fair, large-
headed, regularly-featured, and endowed with courage and intelligence,
though their morals leave much to be desired. All the canoe Indians
are very strong-handed, owing to the constant use of the paddle. In a
scuffle with one of them, it does not do to let him get a grip; better
prevent him from coming to close quarters, for in this case the white man
has little chance. The Klahoquahts are the finest-looking of the Vancouver
west coast tribes.
112 ~ff-
Appearance of the Natives
deformity that I saw amongst them was a man of
dwarfish stature ; he was thirty years old, and but three
feet three inches high; he had, however, no other
defect than his diminutive size, being well made, and
as strong and able to bear fatigue as what they were in
Their complexion, when freed from the paint and oil
with which their skins are generally covered, is a brown,
somewhat inclining to a copper cast. The shape of the
face, is oval; the features are tolerably regular, the lips
being thin and the teeth very white and even; their
eyes are black but rather small, and the nose pretty well
formed, being neither flat nor very prominent; their
hair is black, long, and coarse, but they have no
beard, completely extirpating it, as well as the hair
from their bodies, Maquina being the only exception,
who suffered his beard to grow on his upper lip in the
manner of mustachios, which was considered as a
mark of dignity.
As to the women, they are much whiter, many of
them not being darker than those in some of the
southern parts of Europe. They are in general very
well - looking, and some quite handsome. Maquina's
favourite wife in particular, who was a Wickinninish
princess, would be considered as a beautiful woman in
11 have rarely seen a corpulent Indian, and not one idiot, or a cripple
so deformed trlat he was incapable of earning his livelihood. It is seldom
that they are deformed from birth, and when they are, they generally
disappear, so as not to be a burden on the tribe. As a facetious old
savage remarked to me, when discussing that curious immunity from
helplessness in his tribe, "The climate doesn't agree with them." The
brother of Quisto, chief of the Pachenahts in 1865 (San Juan Harbour),
was much deformed in the legs, but he was an excellent canoeman.
8 F
114 Adventures of John Jewitt
any country. She was uncommonly well formed, tall,
and of a majestic appearance ; her skin remarkably fair
for one of these people, with considerable colour, her
features handsome, and her eyes black, soft, and languishing; her hair was very long, thick, and black,
as is that of the females in general, which is much
softer than that of the men; in this they take much
pride, frequently oiling and plaiting it carefully into
two broad plaits, tying the ends with a strip of the
cloth of the country, and letting it hang down before
on each side of the face.
The women keep their garments much neater and
cleaner than the men, and are extremely modest in their
deportment and dress; their mantle, or kutsack, which
is longer than that of the men, reaching quite to their
feet and completely enveloping them, being tied close
under the chin, and bound with a girdle of the same
cloth or of sea-otter skin around their waists; it has also
loose sleeves, which reach to the elbows.    Though fond
of ornamenting their persons, they are by no means so
partial to paint as the men, merely colouring their eyebrows black and drawing a bright red stripe from each
corner of the mouth towards the ear.   Their ornaments
consist chiefly of ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets, rings
for the fingers and ankles, and small nose-jewels (the
latter are,  however, wholly confined  to the wives  of
the king or chiefs); these are principally made out of
copper or brass, highly polished and of various forms
and sizes ; the nose-jewel is usually a small white shellx
or bead suspended to a thread.
1 Commonly the fiattish nacreous portion of the Abelone, or Ear-shell
(Haliotis Kamschatkiana), known as Apats-em, which is pawned dr sold Their Ornaments
The wives of the common people frequently wear for
bracelets and ankle rings strips of the country cloth or
skin of the metamelth painted in figures, and those of
the king or principal chiefs, bracelets and necklaces
consisting of a number of strings of Ife-waw, an article
much prized by them, and which makes a very handsome
appearance. This Ife-waw, as they term it, is a kind of
shell of a dazzling whiteness and as smooth as ivory; it
is of a cylindrical form, in a slight degree curved, about
the size of a goose quill, hollow, three inches in length
and gradually tapering to a point, which is broken off
by the natives as it is taken from the water; this they
afterwards string upon threads of bark and sell it by the
fathom; it forms a kind of circulating medium among
these nations, five fathoms being considered as the price
of a slave, their most valuable species of property. It is
principally obtained from the Aitizzarts, a people living
about thirty or forty miles to the northward, who collect
it from the reefs and sunken rocks with which their
coast abounds, though it is also brought in considerable
quantity from the south.1
in times of scarcity. By constant removal and insertion, the septum of the
nose, through which it is fastened, becomes in time so large that it will
admit almost any kind of moderately-sized ornament. Feathers are
frequently inserted, and more than once I have seen an Indian, clad in a
blanket alone, denude himself of his single garment to hold biscuits or other
goods, and dispose of his pipe by sticking it in the hole through his nasal
septum, which, had times been better, would have been occupied with a
piece of shell, either square, oblong, or of a horseshoe shape.
1 This is the well-known Dentalium pretiosum, or Tooth-shell, generally
known as the Hioqua. It is procured chiefly from Cape Flattery, on the
southern side of Juan de Fuca Strait, and from Koskeemo Sound on the
north. The "Aitizzarts" (Ayhuttisahts) probably obtained it by barter
with the tribes on that part of the coast. It is not much used nowadays.
—The Peoples of the World, vol. i. p. 60. r>«>
116 Adventures of John Jewitt
Their mode of taking it has been thus described to
me:—To one end of a pole is fastened a piece of plank,
in which a considerable number of pine pegs are inserted,
made sharp at the ends ; above the plank, in order to
sink it, a stone or some weight is tied, and the other end
of the pole suspended to a long rope; this is let down
perpendicularly by the Ife-waw fishers in those places
where that substance is found, which are usually from
fifty to sixty fathoms deep. On finding the bottom,
they raise the pole up a few feet and let it fall; this they
repeat a number of times, as if sounding, when they draw
it up and take off the Ife-waw which is found adhering
to the points. This method of procuring it is very
laborious and fatiguing, especially as they seldom take
more than two or three of these shells at a time, and
frequently none.
Though the women, as I have said, make but little use
of paint, the very reverse is the case with the men. In
decorating their heads and faces they place their
principal pride, and none of our most fashionable beaus
when preparing for a grand ball can be more particular;
for I have known Maquina, after having been employed
more than an hour in painting his face, rub the whole off,
and recommence the operation anew, when it did not
entirely please him.
The manner in which they paint themselves frequently varies, according to the occasion, but it oftener
is the mere dictate of whim. The most usual method
is to paint the eyebrows black in form of a half-moon
and the face red in small squares, with the arms and
legs and part of the body red; sometimes one half of
the face is painted red in squares and the other black; Their Toilet
at others dotted with spots of red and black instead
of squares, with a variety of other devices, such as
painting one half of the face and body red and the
other black.
But a method of painting which they sometimes
employed, and which they were much more particular
in, was by laying on the face a quantity of bear's grease
of about one-eighth of an inch thick; this they raised
up into ridges resembling a small bead in joiner's work
with a stick prepared for the purpose, and then painted
them red, which gave the face a very singular appearance.
On extraordinary occasions the king and principal
chiefs used to strew over their faces, after painting, a fine
black shining powder procured from some mineral, as
Maquina told me it was got from the rocks. This they
call pelpelth,1 and value it highly, as, in their opinion, it
serves to set off their looks to great advantage, glittering
especially in the sun like silver. This article is brought
them in bags by the Newchemass,2 a very savage nation
who live a long way to the north, from whom they likewise receive a superior kind of red paint, a species of
very fine and rich ochre, which they hold in much
1 This is powdered mica of the black variety. It is obtained in various
places, from veins exposed, for the most part in the beds of streams.
2 These seem to be the Nimpkish, from the Nimpkish River, south of Fort
Rupert, on the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, who still frequently cross
the island by a chain of rivers and lakes to Nootka Sound. This is confirmed by Jewitt writing in another place that they lived somewhat in the
interior. It is doubtful whether he knew that the country in which he
lived was an island. At all events, he never mentions it by that name.
This route I have described in "Das Innere der Vancouver Insel" (Peter -
mann, Geographische Mittheilungen, 1869). ■Mi
Adventures of John Jewitt
Notwithstanding this custom of painting themselves,
they make it an invariable practice, both in summer and
winter, to bathe once a day, and sometimes oftener; but
as the paint is put on with oil, it is not much discomposed
thereby, and whenever they wish to wash it off, they
repair to some piece of fresh water and scour themselves
with sand or rushes.
In dressing their heads on occasion of a festival or a
visit, they are full as particular and almost as long as in
painting. The hair, after being well oiled, is carefully
gathered upon the top of the head and secured by a
piece of pine or spruce bough with the green leaves
upon it. After having it properly fixed in this manner,
the king and principal chiefs used to strew all over it
the white down obtained from a species of large brown
eagle which abounds on this coast, and which they are
very particular in arranging so as not to have a single
feather out of place, occasionally wetting the hair to
make it adhere. This, together with the bough, which
is sometimes of considerable size and stuck over with
feathers by means of turpentine, gives them a very
singular and grotesque appearance, which they, however,
think very becoming, and the first thing they do, on
learning the arrival of strangers, is to go and decorate
themselves in this manner.
The men also wear bracelets of painted leather or
copper and large earrings of the latter, but the ornament
on which they appear to set the most value is the nose-
jewel, if such an appellation may be given to the wooden
stick which some of them employ for this purpose. The
king and chiefs, however, wear them of a different form,
being either small pieces of polished copper or brass, of Their Jewellery
which I made many for them in the shape of hearts and
diamonds, or a twisted conical shell about half an inch
in length, of a bluish colour and very bright, which is
brought from the south. These are suspended by a
small wire or string to the hole in the gristle of the
nose, which is formed in infancy by boring it with a
pin, the hole being afterwards enlarged by the repeated
insertion of wooden pegs of an increased size, until
it becomes about the diameter of a pipe-stem, though
some have them of a size nearly sufficient to admit the
little finger.
The common class, who cannot readily procure the
more expensive jewels that I have mentioned, substitute
for them, usually, a smooth, round stick, some of which
are of an almost incredible length, for I have seen them
projecting not less than eight or nine inches beyond
the face on each side; this is made fast or secured in
its place by little wedges on each side of it. These
"sprit-sail-yard fellows," as my messmate used to call
them, when rigged out in this manner, made quite a
strange show, and it was his delight, whenever he saw
one of them coming towards us with an air of consequence proportioned to the length of his stick, to put
up his hand suddenly as he was passing him, so as to
strike -the stick, in order, as he said, to brace him up
sharp to the wind; this used to make them very angry,
but nothing was more remote from Thompson's ideas
than a wish to cultivate their favour.
The natives of Nootka appear to have but little
inclination for the chase, though some of them were
expert marksmen, and used sometimes to shoot ducks
and geese; but the seal and the sea - otter form the 120 Adventures of John Jewitt
principal objects of their hunting, particularly the
Of this animal, so much noted for its valuable skin,
the following description may not be uninteresting:—
The sea-otter1 is nearly five feet in length, exclusive of
the tail, which is about twelve inches, and is very thick
and broad where it joins the body, but gradually tapers
to the end, which is tipped with white. The colour of
the rest is a shining, silky black, with the exception of a
broad white stripe on the top of the head. Nothing
can be more beautiful than one of these animals whe&s
seen swimming, especially when on the look-out for
any object. At such times it raises its head quite
above the surface, and the contrast between the shining
black and the white, together with its sharp ears and
a long tuft of hair rising from the middle of its forehead,
which looks like three small horns, render it quite a
novel and attractive object. They are in general very
tame, and will permit a canoe or boat to approach very
near before they dive. I was told, however, that they
are become much more shy since they have been accustomed to shoot them with muskets, than when they
used only arrows.2
The skin is held in great estimation in China, more
especially that of the tail, the fur of which is finer and
closer set than that on the body. This is always cut
off and sold separately by the natives. The value of
a skin is determined by its size, that being considered
1 Enhydra lutris, or "Quiaotluck," now so rapidly decreasing in numbers
that it can scarcely escape the fate of Steller's Rhytina.
3 For an account of the habits and history of these valued animals, the
reader is referred to The Countries of the World, vol. i. p. 304. -w—
Expert Fishers
as a prime skin which will reach, in length, from a
man's chin to his feet. The food of the sea-otter is
fish, which he is very dexterous in taking, being an
excellent swimmer, with feet webbed like those of a
goose. They appear to be wholly confined to the sea-
coast, at least to the salt water. They have usually
three or four young at a time, but I know not how often
they breed, nor in what place they deposit their young,
though I have frequently seen them swimming around
the mother when no larger than rats. The flesh is
eaten by the natives, cooked in their usual mode by
boiling, and is far preferable to that of the seal, of which
they make much account.
But if not great hunters, there are few people more
expert in fishing. Their lines are generally made from
the sinew of the whale, and are extremely strong. For
the hook, they usually make use of a straight piece of
hard wood, in the lower part of which is inserted, and
well secured with thread or whale sinew, a bit of bone
made very sharp at the point and bearded; but I used
to make for them hooks from iron, which they preferred,
not only as being less liable to break, but more certain
of securing the fish. Cod, halibut, and other sea fish
were not only caught by them with hooks, but even
To take this latter fish, they practise the following
method:—One person seats himself in a small canoe,
and, baiting his hook with a sprat, which they are always
careful to procure as fresh as possible, fastens his line
to the handle of the paddle; this, as he plies it in the
water, keeps the fish in constant motion, so as to give
it the appearance of life, which the salmon seeing, leaps 122 Adventures of John Jewitt
at it and is instantly hooked, and, by a sudden and
dexterous motion of the paddle, drawn on board. I
have known some of the natives take no less than eight
or ten salmon of a morning, in this manner, and have
seen from twenty to thirty canoes at a time in Friendly
Cove thus employed.
They are likewise little less skilful in taking the
whale. This they kill with a kind of javelin or harpoon
thus constructed and fitted: the barbs are formed of
bone, which are sharpened on the outer side, and
hollowed within, for the purpose of forming a socket
for the staff; these are then secured firmly together
with a whale sinew, the point being fitted so as to
receive a piece of mussel-shell, which is ground to a
very sharp edge, and secured in its place by means of
turpentine.1 To this head or prong is fastened a
strong line of whale sinew about nine feet in length,
to the end of which is tied a bark rope from fifty to
sixty fathoms long, having from twenty to thirty sealskin floats or buoys attached to it at certain intervals,
in order to check the motion of the whale and obstruct
his diving. In the socket of the harpoon a staff or
pole of about ten feet long, gradually tapering from
1 The harpoon is at present a little different in construction. Pine resin,
not "turpentine," is used for the purpose described, and the tips of
deers' horns are utilised for the barbs. The most remarkable fact about
the west coast of Vancouver Island whaling is its use of inflated sealskins to impede the motion of the animal through the water. This is an
Eskimo contrivance in use by the Alaskans and other extreme northern
tribes, from whom the West Vancouverians seem to have borrowed it.
In Sproat's Scenes and Studies of Savage Life, p. 226, there is an
excellent description of whaling as practised in that part of Vancouver
Island. The species pursued is usually finbacks, though a "black fish"
with good whalebone is occasionally captured. Whaling
the middle to each end, is placed; this the har-
pooner holds in his hand, in order to strike the whale,
and immediately detaches it as soon as the fish is
The whale is considered as the king's fish, and no
other person, when he is present, is permitted to touch
him until the royal harpoon has first drawn his blood,
however near he may approach; and it would be considered almost a sacrilege for any of the common people
to strike a whale before he is killed, particularly if any
of the chiefs should be present.1 They also kill the
porpoise2 and sea-cow3 with harpoons, but this inferior
game is not interdicted the lower class.
With regard to their canoes, some of the handsomest
1 The honour of using the harpoon is a hereditary privilege, enjoyed by
only a few men in a tribe, and previous to the whaling season the crews
have to practise all manner of ascetic practices in order to ensure good
luck in the venture.
2 This porpoise Dr. Gray considered, after examining a skull which I
brought to the British Museum in 1866, to differ little, if at all, from the
Phoccena communis of the Atlantic; but Dr. (afterwards Sir) W. H.
Flower (List of the Specimens of Cetacea, etc., 1885, p. 16) seems to be of
a different opinion.
3 This "sea-cow," of which Meares also speaks as an animal hunted by
the Nootka people, though rarely seen so far south, must, one might
think, be another name for the seal or "sea-calf," were not the latter
expressly referred to by name. The sea-cow, dugong, or manatee is not
found in these seas, and the Rhytina Stelleri, once so abundant on Behring
Island in Behring Strait, is generally considered to have been exterminated
in the interval between 1741-1768. This, however, is hardly in accord-x
ance with fact, for, as evidence collected by Nordenskjold proves, they
were occasionally killed in 1780, while one was seen as late as 1854. It
is therefore by no means improbable that in 1803 a few stragglers were
still waiting their end on the shores of Vancouver Island. The sea-lion
(Eumetopias Stelleri) is a seal also verging on extinction, the Otaria
ursinus being now the fur seal of commerce (and politics) in that part of
the North Pacific. >W
124 Adventures of John Jewitt
to be found on the whole coast are made at Nootka,
though very fine ones are brought by the Wickinninish
and the Kla-iz-zarts, who have them more highly ornamented. They are of all sizes, from such as are capable
of holding only one person to their largest war canoes,
which will carry forty men, and are extremely light.
Of these, the largest of any that I ever saw was one
Belonging to Maquina, which I measured, and found
to be forty-two feet six inches in length at the bottom,
and forty-six feet from stem to stern. These are
made of pine,1 hollowed out from a tree with their
chisels solely, which are about three inches broad
and six in length, and set into a handle of very hard
This instrument was formerly made of flint, or some
hard stone ground down to as sharp an edge as possible,
but since they have learned the use of iron, they have
almost all of them of that metal. Instead of a mallet
for striking this chisel, they make use of a smooth
round stone, which they hold in the palm of the hand.
With this same awkward instrument they not only
excavate their canoes and trays and smooth their
planks, but cut down such trees as they want, either for
building, fuel, or other purposes, a labour which is
mostly done by their slaves.
The felling of trees, as practised by them, is a slow
and most tedious process, three of them being generally
from two to three days in cutting down a large one; yet
so attached were they to their own method, that notwithstanding they saw Thompson frequently, with one
of our axes, of which there was a number saved, fell a
1 A species of cedar (Thuja) is the wood used. .——
fr  Canoe Building
tree in less time than they could have gone round it
with their chisels, still they could not be persuaded to
make use of them.
After hollowing out their canoes, which they do very
neatly, they fashion the outside, and slightly burn it, for
the purpose of removing any splinters or small points
that might obstruct its passage through the water, after
which they rub it over thoroughly with rushes or coarse
mats, in order to smooth it, which not only renders it
almost as smooth as glass, but forms a better security
for it from the weather; this operation of burning and
rubbing down the bottoms of their canoes is practised
as often as they acquire any considerable degree of
roughness from use. The outside by this means
becomes quite black, and to complete their work they
paint the inside of a bright red, with ochre or some
other similar substance; the prows and sterns are almost
always ornamented with figures of ducks or some other
kind of bird, the former being so fashioned as to represent
the head, and the latter the tail; these are separate pieces
from the canoe, and are fastened to it with small flexible
twigs or bark cord.
Some of these canoes, particularly those employed in
whaling, which will hold about ten men, are ornamented
within about two inches below the gunwale with two
parallel lines on each side of-very small white shells,
running fore and aft, which has a very pretty effect.
Their war canoes have no ornament of this kind, but
are painted on the outside with figures in white chalk,
representing eagles, whales, human heads, etc. They
are very dexterous in the use of their paddles, which are
very neatly wrought, and are five feet long, with a short
THEY have a number which they sing on various occasions—as war,1 whaling and fishing, at their marriages
and feasts, and at public festivals or solemnities. The
language of the most of these appears to be very
different in many respects from that used in their
common conversation, which leads me to believe either
that they have a different mode of expressing themselves in poetry, or that they borrow their songs from
their neighbours; and what the more particularly induces
me to the latter opinion is, that whenever any of the
Newchemass, a people from the northward, and who
speak a very different language, arrived, they used to
tell me that they expected a new song, and were almost
always sure to have one.
Their tunes are generally soft and plaintive, and
though not possessing great variety, are not deficient in
harmony. Their singing is generally accompanied with
several rude kinds of instrumental music, among the
most prominent of which is a kind of a drum.   This is
1 A specimen of one of their war-songs will be found at the end of this
work. ■MB
Adventures of John Jewitt
nothing more than a long plank hollowed out on the
under side and made quite thin, which is beat upon by
a stick of about a foot long, and renders a sound not
unlike beating on the head of an empty cask, but much
But the two most favourite instruments are the rattle
and the pipe or whistle; these are, however, only used
by the king, the chiefs, or some particular persons. The
former is made of dried sealskin, so as to represent a
fish, and is filled with a number of small smooth pebbles;
it has a short handle, and is painted red. The whistle is
made of bone, generally the leg of a deer; it is short,
but emits a very shrill sound. They have likewise
another kind of music, which they make use of in
dancing, in the manner of castanets. This is produced
by a number of mussel or cockle shells tied together
and shaken to a kind of tune, which is accompanied
with the voice.
Their slaves, as I have observed, form their most
valuable species of property. These are of both sexes,
being either captives taken by themselves in war, or
purchased from the neighbouring tribes, and who reside
in the same house, forming as it were a part of the
family, are usually kindly treated, eat of the same food,
and live as well as their masters. They are compelled,
however, at times to labour severely, as not only all the
menial offices are performed by them, such as bringing
water, cutting wood, and a variety of others, but they are
obliged to make the canoes, to assist in building and
repairing the houses, to supply their masters with fish,
and to attend them in war and to fight for them.
■I Their Slaves
None but the king and chiefs have slaves, the common
people being prevented from holding them, either from
their inability to purchase them, or, as I am rather inclined to think, from its being considered as the privilege
of the former alone to have them,1 especially as all those
made prisoners in war belong either to the king or the
chiefs who have captured them, each one holding such
as have been taken by himself or his slaves. There is
probably, however, some little distinction in favour of
the king, who is always the commander of the expedition, as Maquina had nearly fifty, male and female, in
his house, a number constituting about one half of its
inhabitants, comprehending those obtained by war and
purchase; whereas none of the other chiefs had more
than twelve. The females are employed principally in
manufacturing cloth, in cooking, collecting berries, etc.,
and with regard to food and living in general have not a
much harder lot than their mistresses, the principal difference consisting in these poor unfortunate creatures being
considered as free to any one, their masters prostituting
them whenever they think proper for the purpose of
gain. In this way many of them are brought on board
the ships and offered to the crews, from whence an
opinion appears to have been formed by some of our
navigators injurious to the chastity of their females,
than which nothing can be more generally untrue, as
perhaps in no part of the world is that virtue more
The houses at Nootka, as already stated, are about
This was not the case.    Any free-born native, provided he had the
means, could own a slave.
2 This is largely a tale of the past. ■M*
1 i
| ■
132   Adventures of John Jewitt
twenty, without comprising those inhabited by the
Klahars, a small tribe that has been conquered and
incorporated into that of Nootka, though they must be
considered as in a state of vassalage, as they are not
permitted to have any chiefs among them, and live by
themselves in a cluster of small houses at a little distance from the village. The Nootka tribe, which
consists of about five hundred warriors,1 is not only
more numerous than almost any of the neighbouring
tribes, but far exceeds them in the strength and martial
spirit of its people ; and in fact there are but few nations
within a hundred miles either to the north or south but
are considered as tributary to them.
In giving some account of the tribes that were accustomed to visit Nootka, I shall commence at the southward with the Kla-iz-zarts, and the Wickinninish,
premising that in point of personal appearance there
prevails a wonderful diversity between the various tribes
on the coast, with the exception of the feet and legs,
which are badly shaped in almost all of them from their
practice of sitting on them.
The Kla-iz-zarts are a numerous and powerful tribe,
living nearly three hundred miles to the south, and are
said to consist of more than a thousand warriors.2 They
appear to be more civilised than any of the others, being
better* and more neatly dressed, more mild and affable
in their manners, remarkable for their sprightliness and
vivacity, and celebrated for their singing and dancing.
1 It is questionable if there are now as many people in the whole tribe.
Cook estimated the population of Friendly Cove at two thousand.
2 This is wrong.    The Kla-iz-zarts (Klahosahts) live north of Nootka
Sound. The Klahosahts
They exhibit also greater marks jof improvement in
whatever is wrought by them ; their canoes, though not
superior to those of Nootka in point of form and lightness, are more highly ornamented, ,and their weapons
and tools of every kind have a much higher finish and
display more skill in the workmanship. Their cast of
countenance is very different from that of the Noot-
kians, their faces being very broad, with a less prominent nose and smaller eyes, and the top of the head
flattened as if it had been pressed down with a weight.
Their complexion is also much fairer, and their
stature shorter, though they are well formed and
strongly set.
They have a custom which appears to be peculiar to
them, as I never observed it in any of the other tribes,
which is to pluck out not only their beards and the hair
from their bodies, but also their eyebrows, so as not to
leave a vestige remaining. They were also in general
more skilful in painting and decorating themselves, and
I have seen some of them with no less than a dozen
holes in each of their ears, to which were suspended
strings of small beads about two inches in length.
Their language is the same as spoken at Nootka, but
their pronunciation is much more hoarse and guttural.
These people are not only very expert in whaling, but
are great hunters of the sea-otter and other animals,
with which their country is said to abound, and the
metamelth, a large animal of the deer kind, the skin of
which I have already spoken of, another of a light grey
colour, with very fine hair, from which they manufacture
a handsome cloth, the beaver, and a species of large wild
cat or tiger cat. KVSI
134 Adventures of John Jewitt
The Wickinninish,1 their neighbours on the north, are
about two hundred miles from Nootka. They are a
robust, strong, and warlike people, but considered by the
Nootkians as their inferiors in courage. This tribe is
more numerous than that of Nootka, amounting to
between six and seven hundred warriors. Though not
so civilised as the Kla-iz-zarts, and less skilful in their
manufactures, like them they employ themselves in
hunting, as well as in whaling and fishing. Their faces
are broad, but less so than the Kla-iz-zarts, with a
darker complexion and a much less open and pleasing
expression of countenance, while their heads present a
very different form, being pressed in at the sides and
lengthened towards the top somewhat in the shape of a
sugar loaf. These people are very frequent visitors at
Nootka, a close friendship subsisting between the two
nations, Maquina's Arcomah or queen, Y-ya-tintla-no,
being the daughter of the Wickinninish king.
The Kla-oo-quates2 adjoining them on the north are
much less numerous, their force not exceeding four
hundred fighting men; they are also behind them in the
arts of life. These are a fierce, bold, and enterprising
people, and there were none that visited Nootka, whom
Maquina used to be more on his guard against, or viewed
1 In Meares's time (1788) Wickinninish was regarded as the most powerful chief, next to Maquina or Maquilla, as he calls him. His residence
was usually at "Port Cox" (Clayoquat Sound), but his territory extended as far south as Nettinaht, his subjects comprising thirteen thousand
people. Meares does not fall into Jewitt's blunder of confounding the
name of the chief with that of his tribe. But Meares derived his information first hand, while Jewitt obtained it merely from hearsay, never
having visited any other part except the immediate vicinity of Nootka
2 Klayoquahts.    They have now barely two hundred warriors. Hishquahts and Ayhuttisahts       135
with so much suspicion. The Eshquates1 are about
the same number; these are considered as tributary
to Maquina. Their coast abounds with rivers, creeks,
and marshes.
To the north the nearest tribe of any importance is
the  Aitizzarts;2 these, however, do not exceed  three
1 Hishquahts.   If they have twenty men, that is all.    Thirty years ago
they had only thirty adult males.
2 Ayhuttisahts.   Thirty years ago they had thirty-six men fit to fight. 136
Adventures of John Jewitt
hundred warriors. In appearance they greatly resemble
the people of Nootka, to whom they are considered
as tributary, their manners, dress, and style of living
also being very similar. They reside at about forty
miles' distance up the Sound. A considerable way
farther to the northward are the Cayuquets;1 these
are a much more numerous tribe than that of
Nootka, but thought by the latter to be deficient in
courage and martial spirit, Maquina having frequently
told me that their hearts were a little like those of
There are also both at the north and south many
other intervening tribes, but in general small in number
and insignificant, all of whom, as well as the above-
mentioned, speak the same language. But the Newche-
mass, who come from a great way to the northward, and
from some distance inland, as I was told by Maquina,
speak quite a different language,2 although it is well
understood by those of Nootka. These were the most
savage-looking and ugly men that I ever saw, their
complexion being much darker, their stature shorter,
and their hair coarser, than that of the other nations,
and their dress and appearance dirty in an extreme.
They wear their beards long like Jews, and have a very
morose and surly countenance. Their usual dress is a
kotsuk made of wolf-skin, with a number of the tails
attached to it, of which I have seen no less than ten on
one  garment, hanging  from the  top  to  the  bottom ;
1 Ky-yoh-quahts.    In i860 they numbered two hundred and thirty adult
2 Namely, the Kwakiool spoken on the east and north coasts of Vancouver
Island from Comox northwards. m^
Trade of the Tribes
though they sometimes wear a similar mantle of bark
cloth, of a much coarser texture than that of Nootka,
the original of which appears to be the same, though
from their very great filthiness it was almost impossible
to discover what it had been.
Their mode of dressing the hair also varies essentially
from that of the other tribes, for they suffer that on
the back of the head to hang loose, and bind the other
over their foreheads in the manner of a fillet, with a
strip of their country cloth, ornamented with small
white shells. Their weapons are the cheetolth, or
war-club, which is made from whalebone, daggers, bow
and arrows, and a kind of spear pointed with bone
or copper.1 They brought with them no furs for sale,
excepting a few wolf-skins, their merchandise consisting
principally of the black shining mineral called pelpelth,
and the fine red paint, which they carefully kept in close
mat bags, some small dried salmon, clams, and roes of
fish, with occasionally a little coarse matting cloth.
They were accustomed to remain a much longer time
at Nootka than the other tribes, in order to recover from
the fatigue of a long journey, part of which was overland, and on these occasions taught their songs to our
The trade of most of the other tribes with Nootka
was principally train-oil, seal or whale's blubber, fish
fresh or dried, herring or salmon spawn, clams and
mussels, and the yama? a species of fruit which is
pressed and dried, cloth, sea-otter skins, and slaves.
1 These implements have fallen out of use.
2The salal (Gaultheria Shallon), which forms a carpet to the ground,
especially where the soil is poor. 1
138 Adventures of John Jewitt
From the Aitizzarts and the Cayuquets, particularly the
former, the best Ife-whaw and in the greatest quantities
was obtained. The Eshquates furnished us with wild
ducks and geese, particularly the latter. The Wickinninish
and Kla-iz-zarts brought to market many slaves, the
best sea-otter skins, great quantities of oil, whale sinew,
and cakes of the yama, highly ornamented canoes, some
Ife-whaw, red ochre and pelpelth of an inferior quality to
that obtained from the Newchemass, but particularly
the so much valued metamelth, and an excellent root
Called by the Kla-iz-zarts Quawnoose} This is the size
of a small onion, but rather longer, being of a tapering
form like a pear, and of a brownish colour. It is cooked
by steam, is always brought in baskets ready prepared
for eating, and is in truth a very fine vegetable, being
sweet, mealy, and of a most agreeable flavour. It was
highly esteemed by the natives, who used to eat it, as
they did everything else, with train-oil. From the
Kla-iz-zarts was also received, though in no great
quantity, a cloth manufactured by them from the fur
already spoken of, which feels like wool and is of a grey
Many of the articles thus brought, particularly the
provisions, were considered as presents, or tributary
offerings, but this must be viewed as little more than a
nominal acknowledgment of superiority, as they rarely
failed to get the full amount of the value of their presents.
1 The bulb of a pretty blue lily (Gamassia esculenta), well known all over
North-West America as the "gamass" or "kamass." The digging and
storing of it in summer form one of the most picturesque of Indian
occupations. The gamass camps are always lively, and the skill and
industry which a girl displays in this important part of her future duties
are carefully noted by the young men in search of wives. Mode of Traffic
I have known eighteen of the great tubs, in which they
keep their provisions, filled with spawn brought in this
way. On these occasions a great feast is always made,
to which not only the strangers, but the whole village,
men, women, and children, are generally invited, and I
have seen five of the largest tubs employed at such
time, in cooking at the king's house. At these feasts
they generally indulge in eating to an excess, making
up in this respect for their want of inebriating liquors,
which they know no method of preparing in any form,
their only drink being water.
Whenever they came to visit or trade, it was their
general custom to stop a few miles distant, under the
lee of some bluff or rock, and rig themselves out in their
best manner, by painting and dressing their heads. On
their first coming on shore, they were invited to eat by
the king, when they brought to him such articles as he
wanted, after which the rest of the inhabitants were
permitted to purchase, the strangers being careful to
keep them in their canoes until sold, under strict guard
to prevent their being stolen, the disposition of these
people for thieving being so great, that it is necessary to
keep a watchful eye upon them.
This was their usual mode of traffic, but whenever
they wished to purchase any particular object, as, for
instance, a certain slave, or some other thing of which
they were very desirous, the canoe that came for this
purpose would lie off a little distance from the shore,
and a kind of ambassador or representative of the king
or chief by whom it was sent, 'dressed in their best
manner, and with his head covered with the white down,
would rise, and, after making known the object of his m^^^m*jmmmWmWmmmmmmwm
140 Adventures of John Jewitt
mission in a pompous speech, hold up specimens of such
articles as he was instructed to offer in payment, men*
tioning the number or quantity of each, when, if the
bargain was concluded, the exchange was immediately
On their visits of friendship or traffic, the chiefs alone
used to sleep on shore ; this was generally at the house
of the king or the head chief, the others passing the
night on board of their canoes, which was done not
only for the preservation of their property, but because
they were not permitted to remain on shore, lest they
might excite some disturbance or commit depredations.
All these people generally go armed, the common
class wearing only a dagger suspended from their neck
behind, with a string of metamelth, and sometimes
thrust in their girdles. The chiefs, in addition to the
dagger, carry the cheetolth, or war-club, suspended in
the same manner beneath their mantles; this, in the
hands of a strong man, is a powerful weapon, in the
management of which some of the older chiefs are very
dexterous. It is made from the bone of a whale, and is
very heavy. The blade is about eighteen inches long
and three broad, till it approaches near the point, where
it expands to the breadth of four inches. In the middle,
from whence it slopes off gradually to an edge on each
side, it is from one to two inches in thickness. This
blade is usually covered with figures of the sun and
moon, a man's head, etc.; and the hilt, which is made
to represent the head of a man or some animal, is
curiously set with small white shells, and has a band of
metamelth fastened to it, in order to sling it over the
shoulder.    Some of the tribes have also a kind of spear Weapons of War
headed with copper or the bone of the sting ray, which
is a dangerous weapon ; this is, however, not usual, and
only carried by the chiefs. The bow and arrow are still
used by a few, but since the introduction of firearms
among them, this weapon has been mostly laid aside. SSBPP"
situation of the author—REMOVAL to tashees—
fishing parties
But to return to our unhappy situation. Though my
comrade and myself fared as well, and even better than
we could have expected among these people, considering
their customs and mode of living, yet our fears lest no
ship would come to our release, and that we should never
more behold a Christian country, were to us a source of
constant pain. Our principal consolation, in this gloomy
state, was to go on Sundays, whenever the weather
would permit, to the borders of a freshwater pond about
a mile from the village, where, after bathing and putting
on clean clothes, we would seat ourselves under the
shade of a beautiful pine, while I read some chapters in
the Bible, and the prayers appointed by our Church for
the day, ending our devotions with a fervent prayer to
the Almighty, that He would deign still to watch over
and preserve our lives, rescue us from the hands of the
savages, and permit us once more to behold a Christian
In this manner were the greater part of our Sundays
passed at Nootka; and I felt gratified to Heaven that,
amidst our other sufferings, we were at least allowed the
142 Hope Deferred
pleasure of offering up our devotions unmolested, for
Maquina, on my explaining to him as well as was in my
power the reason of our thus retiring at this time, far
from objecting, readily consented to it.
The pond above mentioned was small, not more
than a quarter of a mile in breadth, and of no great
length, the water being very clear, though not of great
depth, and bordered by a beautiful forest of pine, fir,
elm,1 and beech,1 free from bushes and underwood—a
most delightful retreat, which was rendered still more
attractive by a great number of birds that frequented
it, particularly the humming-bird.2 Thither we used
to go to wash our clothes, and felt secure from any
intrusion from the natives, as they rarely visited it,
except for the purpose of cleansing themselves of their
In July we at length thought that the hope of delivery
we had so long anxiously indulged was on the point of
being gratified. A ship appeared in the offing; but,
alas! our fond hopes vanished almost as soon as formed ;
for, instead of standing in for the shore, she passed to
the northward, and soon disappeared. I shall not
attempt to describe our disappointment—my heart sank
within me, and I felt as though it was my destiny never
more to behold a Christian face. Four days after, there
occurred a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning;
during which the natives manifested great alarm and
terror, the whole tribe hurrying to Maquina's house,
1 These trees are not found in Vancouver Island. Possibly, though
they are not very like, Jewitt mistook them for the Oregon alder and the
American ash, both trees of that locality.
This is the migratory red-backed species (Selasphorus rufus, p. 19). 144
Adventures of John Jewitt
where, instead of keeping within, they seated themselves on the roof, amid the severest of the tempest,
drumming upon the boards, and looking up to heaven,
while the king beat the long hollow plank, singing,
and, as he afterwards told me, begging Quahootze,
the name they give to God, not to kill them, in
which he was accompanied by the whole tribe; this
singing and drumming was continued until the storm
As the summer drew near its close, we began to suffer
from the frequent want of food, which was principally
owing to Maquina and the chiefs being out whaling, in
which he would not permit Thompson and myself to join,
lest we should make our escape to some of the neighbouring tribes. At these times the women seldom or
ever cook any provision, and we were often hungry, but
were sometimes fortunate enough to procure secretly a
piece of salmon, some other fish, spawn, or even blubber,
which, by boiling in salt water, with a few onions and
turnips, the remains of the Spanish garden, or young
nettles or other herbs, furnished us a delicious repast in
In the meantime, we frequently received accounts
from the tribes who came to Nootka, both from the
north and south, of there being vessels on the coast,
and were advised by their chiefs to make our escape,
who also promised us their aid, and to put us on board.
These stories, however, as I afterwards learned, were
almost all of them without any foundation, and merely
invented by these people with a view to get us into their
power, in order to make slaves of us themselves, or to sell
us to others.
i An Interesting Suitor
But I was still more strongly solicited to leave
Nootka by a woman. This was a Wickinninish princess,
a younger sister of Maquina's wife, who was there on
a visit. I had the good fortune, if it may be so called,
to become quite a favourite with her. She appeared
much interested for me, asked me many questions
respecting my country, if I had a mother and sister at
home, and if they would not grieve for my absence.
Her complexion was fairer than that of the women in
general, and her features more regular, and she would
have been quite handsome had it not been for a defect
in one of her eyes, the sight of which had been injured
by some accident; the reason, as Maquina told me,
why she had not been married, a defect of this kind
being by these savages considered as almost an insuperable objection. She urged me repeatedly to return
with her, telling me that the Wickinninish were much
better than the Nootkians; that her father would
treat me more kindly than Maquina, give me better
food and clothes, and finally put me on board one of
my own country vessels. I felt, however, little disposed to accompany her, considering my situation with
Maquina full as eligible as it would be with Wickinninish, if not better, notwithstanding all she said to the
On the 3rd of September the whole tribe quitted
Nootka, according to their constant practice, in order to
pass the autumn and winter at Tashees1 and Cooptee,
the latter lying about thirty miles up the Sound, in a
deep bay, the navigation of which is very dangerous,
1"Tashis Canal" of seamen—the Tashis River flows in at its head.
Coptee is at the mouth, Tashis farther up the stream.
10 146 Adventures of John Jewitt
from the great number of reefs and rocks with which it
On these occasions everything is taken with them,
even the planks of their houses, in order to cover
their new dwellings. To an European such a removal
exhibits a scene quite novel and strange; canoes piled
up with boards and boxes, and filled with men, women,
and children, of all ranks and sizes, making the air
resound with their cries and songs.
At these times, as well as when they have occasion
to go some distance from their houses, the infants
are usually suspended across the mother's shoulders,
in a kind of cradle or hammock, formed of bark, of
about six inches in depth, and of the length of the child,
by means of a leather band inserted through loops on
its edges; this they also keep them in when at home,
in order to preserve them in a straight position, and
prevent any distortion of the limbs, most probably a
principal cause of these people being so seldom
deformed or crooked.
The longboat of our ship having been repaired and
furnished with a sail by Thompson, Maquina gave us
the direction of it, we being better acquainted with
managing it than his people, and, after loading her as
deep as she could swim, we proceeded in company with
them to the north, quitting Nootka with heavy hearts,
as we could entertain no hopes of release until our
return, no ships ever coming to that part of the coast.
Passing Cooptee, which is situated on the southern bank,
just within the mouth of a small river flowing from the
east in a narrow valley at the foot of a mountain, we
proceeded about fifteen miles up this stream to Tashees, Sojourn at Tashees
between a range of lofty hills on each side, which extend
a great distance inland, and are covered with the finest
forest trees of the country. Immediately on our arrival,
we all went to work very diligently in covering the
houses with the planks we had brought, the frames
being ready erected, these people never pretending to
remove the timber. In a very short time the work
was completed, and we were established in our new
Tashees is pleasantly situated, and in a most secure
position from the winter storms, in a small vale or
hollow on the south shore, at the foot of a mountain.
The spot on which it stands is level, and the soil very
fine, the country in its vicinity abounding with the most
romantic views, charmingly diversified, and fine streams
of water falling in beautiful cascades from the mountains.
The river at this place is about twenty rods in width,
and, in its deepest part, from nine to twelve feet.
This village is the extreme point of navigation, as,
immediately beyond, the river becomes much more
shallow, and is broken into falls and rapids. The
houses here are placed in a line like those at Nootka,
but closer together, the situation being more confined;
they are also smaller, in consequence of which we were
much crowded, and incommoded for room.
The principal object in coming to this place is the
facility it affords these people of providing their winter
stock of provisions, which consists principally of salmon,
and the spawn of that fish ; to which may be added
herrings and sprats, and herring spawn. The latter,
however, is always procured by them at Nootka, previous
to their quitting it.    At the seasons of spawning, which 55?S
Adventures of John Jewitt
are early in spring and the last of August, they collect a
great quantity of pine branches, which they place in
different parts of the Cove at the depth of about ten
feet, and secure them by means of heavy stones. On
these the herring deposit their spawn in immense
quantities; the bushes are then taken up, the spawn
stripped from the branches, and, after being washed
and freed from the pine leaves by the women, is
dried and put up in baskets for use. It is considered
as their greatest delicacy, and eaten both cooked and
raw; in the former case, being boiled and eaten with
train-oil, and in the latter, mixed up with cold water
The salmon are taken at Tashees, principally in pots
or wears. Their method of taking them in wears is
thus :—A pot of twenty feet in length, and from four to
five feet diameter at the mouth, is formed of a great
number of pine splinters, which are strongly secured, an
inch and a half from each other, by means of hoops
made of flexible twigs, and placed about eight inches
apart. At the end it tapers almost to a point, near
which is a small wicker door for the purpose of taking
out the fish. This pot or wear is placed at the foot
of a fall or rapid, where the water is not very deep,
and the fish, driven from above with long poles, are
intercepted and caught in the wear, from whence
they are taken into the canoes. In this manner I
have seen more than seven hundred salmon caught
in the space of fifteen minutes.1    I have also sometimes
1 Salmon used to be bought at Alberni at the rate of a cent apiece.
There have been times when the garden at Fort Rupert was manured with
fresh salmon,  mmmm mmmmmm
A Fish Dinner
known a few of the striped bass taken in this manner,
but rarely.
At such times there is great feasting and merriment
among them. The women and female slaves being
busily employed in cooking, or in curing the fish for
their winter stock, which is done by cutting off the heads
and tails, splitting them, taking out the back bone, and
hanging them up in their houses to dry. They also dry
the halibut and cod, but these, instead of curing whole,
they cut up into small pieces for that purpose, and expose to the sun.
The spawn of the salmon, which is a principal article
of their provision, they take out, and, without any
other preparation, throw it into their tubs, where
they leave it to stand and ferment, for, though they
frequently eat it fresh, they esteem it much more
when it has acquired a strong taste, and one of the
greatest favours they can confer on any person, is to
invite him to eat Quakamiss, the name they give this
food, though scarcely anything can be more repugnant
to an European palate, than it is in this state; and
whenever they took it out of these large receptacles,
which they are always careful to fill, such was the stench
which it exhaled, on being moved, that it was almost
impossible for me to abide it, even after habit had
in a great degree dulled the delicacy of my senses.
When boiled it became less offensive, though it still
retained much of the putrid smell, and something of^
the taste.
Such is the immense quantity of these fish, and
they are taken with such facility, that I have known
upwards of twenty-five hundred brought into Maquina's ^ssass
152   Adventures of John Jewitt
house at once; and at one of their great feasts, have
seen one hundred or more cooked in one of their
largest tubs.
I used frequently to go out with Maquina upon these
fishing parties, and was always sure to receive a handsome present of salmon, which I had the privilege of
calling mine; I also went with him several times in a
canoe, to strike the salmon, which I have attempted
to do myself, but could never succeed, it requiring
a degree of adroitness that I did not possess. I was
also permitted to go out with a gun, and was several
times very successful in shooting wild ducks and
teal, which are very numerous here, though rather
shy. These they cooked in their usual manner, by
boiling, without any farther dressing than skinning
In many respects, however, our situation was less
pleasant here than at Nootka. We were more incommoded for room, the houses not being so spacious, nor
so well arranged, and as it was colder, we were compelled to be much more within doors. We, however,
did not neglect on Sundays, when the weather would
admit, to retire into the woods, and, by the side of some
stream, after bathing, return our thanks to God for
preserving us, and offer up to Him our customary
I was, however, very apprehensive, soon after our
arrival at this place, that I should be deprived of the
satisfaction of keeping my journal, as Maquina one day,
observing me writing, inquired of me what I was doing,
and when I endeavoured to explain it, by telling him
that I was keeping an account of the weather, he said it ■•!■■
A Royal Robe
was not so, and that I was speaking bad about him, and
telling how he had taken our ship and killed the crew,
so as to inform my countrymen, and that if he ever saw
me writing in it again, he would throw it into the fire.
I was much rejoiced that he did no more than threaten,
and became very cautious afterwards not to let him see
me write.
Not long after, I finished some daggers for him, which
I polished highly; these pleased him much, and he gave
me directions to make a cheetolth, in which I succeeded
so far to his satisfaction, that he gave me a present of
cloth sufficient to make me a complete suit of raiment,
besides other things.
Thompson also, who had become rather more of a
favourite than formerly, since he had made a fine sail
for his canoe, and some garments for him out of
European cloth, about this time completed another,
which was thought by the savages a most superb
dress. This was a kotsuk or mantle, a fathom square,
made entirely of European vest patterns of the gayest
colours. These were sewed together in a manner to
make the best show, and bound with a deep trimming
of the finest otterskin, with which the arm-holes were
also bordered ; while the bottom was further embellished
with five or six rows of gilt buttons, placed as near as
possible to each other.
Nothing could exceed the pride of Maquina when
he first put on this royal robe, decorated, like the coat
of Joseph, with all the colours of the rainbow, and
glittering with the buttons, which as he strutted about
made a tinkling, while he repeatedly exclaimed, in a
transport of exultation, " Klew shish Kotsuk—wick kum ■**PI
154 Adventures of John Jewitt
atack Nootka!'%—IA fine garment—Nootka can't make
Maquina, who knew that the chiefs of the tribes who
came to visit us had endeavoured to persuade me to
escape, frequently cautioned me not to listen to them,
saying that, should I make the attempt, and he were to
take me, he should certainly put me to death. While
here, he gave me a book, in which I found the names of
seven persons belonging to the ship Manchester, of
Philadelphia, Captain Brian—viz. Daniel Smith, Lewis
Gillon, James Tom, Clark, Johnson, Ben, and Jack.
These men, as Maquina informed me, ran away from
the ship and came to him, but that six of them soon
after went off in the night, with an intention to go to
the Wickinninish, but were stopped by the Eshquates,
and sent back to him, and that he ordered them to
be put to death ; and a most cruel death it was, as I
was told by one of the natives, four men holding
one of them on the ground, and forcing open his
mouth, while they choked him by ramming stones down
his throat.
As to Jack, the boy, who made no attempt to go off,
Maquina afterwards sold him to the Wickinninish. I
was informed by the Princess Yuqua that he was quite
a small boy, who cried a great deal, being put to hard
labour beyond his strength by the natives, in cutting
1 This is a fair specimen of the kind of lingua franca which even then
had begun to spring up in the intercourse of the early traders with the
Indians, and which by now takes the shape of the Chinook Jargon. For,
apart from the imperfectly pronounced Indian words, there is no such
term as Nootka in any language. It was a misconception of the first
visitors there. They probably mistook Nootchee, a mountain, for the name
of the country generally (p. 29). Poor Jack
wood and bringing water, and that when he heard of
the murder of our crew, it had such an effect on him,
that he fell sick, and died shortly after. On learning
the melancholy fate of this unfortunate lad, it again
awakened in my bosom those feelings that I had
experienced at the shocking death of my poor comrades.
The king, finding that I was desirous of learning their
language, was much delighted, and took great pleasure
in conversing with me. On one of these occasions he
explained to me his reasons for cutting off our ship,
saying that he bore no ill will to my countrymen, but
that he had been several times treated very ill by them.
The first injury of which he had cause to complain, was
done him by a Captain Tawnington, who commanded a
schooner which passed a winter at Friendly Cove, where
he was well treated by the inhabitants. This man,
taking advantage of Maquina's absence, who had gone
to the Wickinninish to procure a wife, armed himself
and crew, and entered the house, where there were none
but women, whom he threw into the greatest consternation, and, searching the chests, took away all the skins,
of which Maquina had no less than forty of the best;
and that about the same time, four of their chiefs were
barbarously killed by a Captain Martinez, a Spaniard.1
1 This was probably Don Estevan Martinez, who, on the 6th of May
1789, arrived in the corvette Princesa, to take possession of the country for
his sovereign. He it was who landed materials and artillery, and began to
erect a fort on a small island at the entrance to Friendly Cove.    He seCms
166 Captain Hanna
That soon after, Captain Hanna, of the Sea Otter} in
consequence of one of the natives having stolen a chisel
from the carpenter, fired upon their canoes which were
alongside, and killed upwards of twenty of the natives,
of whom several were Tyees or chiefs; and that he himself, being on board the vessel, in order to escape was
obliged to leap from the quarter-deck, and swim for a
long way under water.
These injuries had excited in the breast of Maquina
an ardent desire of revenge, the strongest passion of the
savage heart, and though many years had elapsed since
their commission, still they were not forgotten, and the
want of a favourable opportunity alone prevented him
from sooner avenging them. Unfortunately for us, the
long-wished-for opportunity at length presented itself in
to have been a most high-handed kind of Don, for he seized the British
vessels Iphigenia,, North-West America, Argonaut, and Princess Royal,
then trading under the Portuguese flag, and acted in so arbitrary a manner
to the officers and crew, that it was easy to believe he was not over scrupulous in his dealings with the Indians. It was during his stay in Nootka
Sound that Callicum, a relation of Maquina's, and next to him in rank, was
barbarously murdered by an officer on board one of the Spanish ships, and
his father refused permission to dive for the body until he had handed
over a number of skins to the white savage.
1 Captain James Hanna was the second European to enter Nootka
Sound after Captain Cook had left it. The Sea Otter, a vessel under 70
tons, was fitted out in China, and reached Nootka in August 1785 ; when
Maquina, presuming upon the inferior size of the craft and the small
number of the crew, made a desperate attack upon her. This was repulsed by the courage of the ship's company, after which business proceeded
on such friendly terms that he procured five hundred and eighty-five sea-
otter skins in five weeks, which were sold in Canton for 20,600 dollars. It
was Hanna who discovered Fitzhugh Sound, Lance Island, Sea Otter
Harbour, and other now well-known spots on the North-West coast of
America. The incident related by Maquina is not to be found in the
records of the expedition which have descended to us. He made another
voyage in 1786, solely for commercial purposes. ^■PSHHIS*
158   Adventures of John Jewitt
our ship, which Maquina finding not guarded with the
usual vigilance of the North-West traders, and feeling
his desire of revenge rekindled by the insult offered him
by Captain Salter, formed a plan for attacking, and on
his return called a council of his chiefs, and communicated it to them, acquainting them with the manner in
which he had been treated. No less desirous of avenging this affront offered their king than their former
injuries, they readily agreed to his proposal, which was
to go on board without arms as usual, but under
different pretexts, in great numbers, and wait for his
signal for the moment of attacking their unsuspecting
victims. The execution of this scheme, as the reader
knows, was unhappily too successful.
And here I cannot but indulge a reflection that has
frequently occurred to me on the manner in which our
people behave towards the natives. For, though they
are a thievish race, yet I have no doubt that many of
the melancholy disasters have principally arisen from
the imprudent conduct of some of the captains and
crews of the ships employed in this trade, in exasperating them by insulting, plundering, and even killing
them on slight grounds. This, as nothing is more
sacred with a savage than the principle of revenge, and
no people are so impatient under insult, induces them
to wreak their vengeance upon the first vessel or boat's
crew that offers, making the innocent too frequently
suffer for the wrongs of the guilty, as few of them know
how to discriminate between persons of the same general
appearance, more especially when speaking the same
language. And to this cause do I believe must principally  be   ascribed  the   sanguinary disposition   with CALLICUM AND MAQUILLA, CHIEFS OF NOOTKA SOUND.
159  How to Deal with Savages
which these people are reproached, as Maquina repeatedly told me that it was not his wish to hurt a
white man, and that he never should have done it,
though ever so much in his power, had they not
injured him.
And were the commanders of our ships to treat the
savages with rather more civility than they sometimes
do, I am inclined to think they would find their account
in it; not that I should recommend to them a confidence
in the good faith and friendly professions of these
people, so as in any degree to remit their vigilance, but,
on the contrary, to be strictly on their guard, and suffer
but a very few of them to come on board the ship, and
admit not many of their canoes alongside at a time; a
precaution that would have been the means of preventing some of the unfortunate events that have occurred,
and if attended to, may in future preserve many a
valuable life. Such a regulation, too, from what I know
of their disposition and wants, would produce no serious
difficulty in trading with the savages, and they would
soon become perfectly reconciled to it.
Among the provisions which the Indians procure at
Tashees, I must not omit mentioning a fruit that is very
important, as forming a great article of their food. This
is what is called by them the Yama,1 a species of berry
that grows in bunches like currants, upon a bush from
two to three feet high, with a large, round, and smooth
leaf. This berry is black, and about the size of a pistol
shot, but of rather an oblong shape, and open at the top
like the blue whortleberry. The taste is sweet, but a
little acrid, and when first gathered, if eaten in any great
1 Gaultheria Shallon (see p. 137),
il mmmmm
162 Adventures of John Jewitt
quantity, especially without oil, is apt to produce colics.
To procure it, large companies of women go out on the
mountains, accompanied by armed men to protect them
against wild beasts, where they frequently remain for
several days, kindling a fire at night, and sheltering
themselves under sheds constructed of boughs. At
these parties they collect great quantities. I have
known Maquina's queen and her women return loaded,
bringing with them upwards of twelve bushels. In
order to preserve it, it is pressed in the bunches between
two planks, and dried and put away in baskets for use.
It is always eaten with oil.
Of berries of various kinds, such as strawberries,
raspberries, blackberries, etc., there are great quantities
in the country, of which the natives are very fond,
gathering them in their seasons, and eating them
with oil, but the yama is the only one that they
Fish is, however, their great article of food, as almost
all the others, excepting the yama, may be considered
as accidental. They nevertheless are far from disrelishing meat, for instance, venison and bear's flesh.
With regard to the latter, they have a most singular
custom, which is, that any one who eats of it is obliged
to abstain from eating any kind of fresh fish whatever
for the term of two months, as they have a superstitious
belief that, should any of their people, after tasting bear's
flesh, eat of fresh salmon, cod, etc., the fish, though at
ever so great a distance off, would come to the knowledge of it, and be so much offended thereat as not
to allow themselves to be taken by any of the inhabitants.   This I had an opportunity of observing while Dressing the Bear 163
at Tashees, a bear having been killed early \n
December, of which not more than ten of the natives
would eat, being prevented by the prohibition annexed
to it, which also was the reason of my comrade and
myself not tasting it, on being told by Maquina the
As there is something quite curious in their management of this animal, when they have killed one, I shall
give a description of it. After well cleansing the bear
from the dirt and blood with which it is generally
covered when killed, it is brought in and seated opposite
the king in an upright posture, with a chief's bonnet,
wrought in figures, on its head, and its fur powdered
over with the white down. A tray of provision is then
set before it, and it is invited by words and gestures to
eat. This mock ceremony over, the reason of which I
could never learn, the animal is taken and skinned, and
the flesh and entrails boiled up into a soup, no part but
the paunch being rejected.1
This dressing the bear, as they call it, is an occasion
of great rejoicing throughout the village, all the inhabitants being invited to a great feast at the king's
house, though but few of them, in consequence of the
penalty, will venture to eat of the flesh, but generally
content themselves with their favourite dish of herring
spawn and water. The feast on this occasion was
closed by a dance from Sat-sat-sok-sis, in the manner I
have already described, in the course of which he
repeatedly shifted his mask for another of a different
1 These observances are well worth noting in connection with the others
which attach to the bear among nearly all savage races.
iii MM
164 Adventures of John Jewitt
A few days after, a second bear was taken, like the
former, by means of a trap. This I had the curiosity to
go and see at the place where it was caught, which was
in the following manner:—On the edge of a small
stream of water in the mountains which the salmon
ascend, and near the spot where the bear is accustomed
to watch for them, which is known by its track, a trap
or box about the height of a man's head is built of posts
and planks with a flat top, on which are laid a number
of large stones or rocks. The top and sides are then
carefully covered with turf, so as to resemble a little
mound, and wholly to exclude the light, a narrow
entrance of the height of the building only being left,
just sufficient to admit the head and shoulders of the
beast. On the inside, to a large plank that covers the
top is suspended by a strong cord a salmon, the plank
being left loose, so that a forcible pull will bring it down.
On coming to its usual haunt, the bear enters the trap,
and, in endeavouring to pull away the fish, brings down
the whole covering with its load of stones upon its head,
and is almost always crushed to death' on the spot, or
so wounded as to be unable to escape.1
They are always careful to examine these traps every
day, in order, if a bear be caught, to bring it immediately,
for it is not a little singular that these people will eat
no kind of meat that is in the least tainted, or not
perfectly fresh, while, on the contrary, it is hardly
possible for fish to be in too putrid a state for them, and
I have frequently known them, when a whale has been
driven ashore, bring pieces of it home with them in a
state of offensiveness insupportable to anything but a
1 These traps are still in common use. mam
A Religious Ceremony
crow, and devour it with high relish, considering it as
preferable to that which is fresh.
On the morning of the 13th of December, commenced
what to us appeared a most singular farce. Apparently
without any previous notice, Maquina discharged a
pistol close to his son's ear, who immediately fell down
as if killed, upon which all the women of the house set
up a most lamentable cry, tearing handfuls of hair from
their heads, and exclaiming that the prince was dead. At
the same time a great number of the inhabitants rushed
into the house, armed with their daggers, muskets, etc.,
inquiring the cause of their outcry. These were immediately
followed by two others dressed in wolf-skins, with masks
over their faces representing the head of that animal;
the latter came in on their hands and feet in the manner
of a beast, and, taking up the prince, carried him off upon
their backs, retiring in the same manner they entered.
We saw nothing more of the ceremony, as Maquina
came to us, and, giving us a quantity of dried provision,
ordered us to quit the house, and not return to the village
before the expiration of seven days, for that if we
appeared within that period, he should kill us.
At any other season of the year such an order would
by us have been considered as an indulgence, in enabling
us to pass our time in whatever way we wished; and even
now, furnished as we were with sufficient provision for
that term, it was not very unpleasant to us, more particularly Thompson, who was always desirous to keep
as much as possible out of the society and sight of the
natives, whom he detested. Taking with us our provisions, a bundle of clothes, and our axes, we obeyed the
directions of Maquina, and withdrew into the woods, 166 Adventures of John Jewitt
where we built ourselves a cabin to shelter us, with the
branches of trees, and, keeping up a good fire, secured
ourselves pretty well from the cold. Here we passed
the prescribed period of our exile, with more content
than much of the time while with them, employing the
day in reading and praying for our release, or in rambling
around and exploring the country, the soil of which we
found to be very good, and the face of it, beautifully
diversified with hills and valleys, refreshed with the finest
streams of water, and at night enjoyed comfortable
repose upon a bed of soft leaves, with our garments
spread over us to protect us from the cold.
At the end of seven days we returned, and found
several of the people of Ai-tiz-zart with their king or
chief at Tashees, who had been invited by Maquina to
attend the close of this performance, which I now learned
was a celebration, held by them annually, in honour of
their god, whom they call Quahootze} to return him their
thanks for his past, and implore his future favours. It
terminated on the 21st, the day after our return, with
a most extraordinary exhibition. Three men, each of
whom had two bayonets run through his sides, between
the ribs, apparently regardless of the pain, traversed the
room, backwards and forwards, singing war-songs, and
exulting in this display of firmness.
On the arrival of the 25th, we could not but call to
mind that this, being Christmas, was in our country a
day of the greatest festivity, when our fellow-countrymen,
assembled in their churches, were celebrating the goodness of God and the praises of the Saviour.   What a
1 Quawteaht, the supreme being of all the tribes speaking the "Aht"
language. Christmas Day
reverse did our situation offer!—captives in a savage land,
and slaves to a set of ignorant beings, unacquainted with
religion or humanity, hardly were we permitted to offer
up our devotions by ourselves in the woods, while we
felt even grateful for this privilege. Thither, with the
king's permission, we withdrew, and, after reading the
service appointed for the day, sung the hymn of the
Nativity, fervently praying that Heaven in its goodness
would permit us to celebrate the next festival of this kind
in some Christian land.
On our return, in order to conform as much as was in
our power to the custom of our country, we were desirous
of having a better supper than usual. With this view,
we bought from one of the natives some dried clams
and oil, and a root called Kletsup,1 which we cooked by
steaming, and found it very palatable. This root consists
of many fibres, of about six inches long, and of the size
of a crow quill. It is sweet, of an agreeable taste, not
unlike the Quawnoose, and it is eaten with oil. The plant
that produces it I have never seen.
On the 31st all the tribe quitted Tashees for Cooptee,
whither they go to pass the remainder of the winter, and
complete their fishing, taking off everything with them
in the same manner as at Nootka. We arrived in a few
hours at Cooptee, which is about fifteen miles, and
immediately set about covering the houses, which was
soon completed.
This place, which is their great herring and sprat
fishery, stands just within the mouth of the river, on the
same side with Tashees, in a very narrow valley at the
This seems the bracken fern root, which is eaten. But the name usually
applied to it is Sheetla. w
Adventures of John Jewitt
foot of a high mountain. Though nearly as secure as
Tashees from the winter storms, it is by no means so
pleasantly situated, though to us it was a much more
agreeable residence, as it brought us nearer Nootka,
where we were impatient to return, in hopes of finding
some vessel there, or hearing of the arrival of one
The first snow that fell this season was the day after
our arrival, on New Year's Day; a day that, like Christmas, brought with it painful recollections, but at the same
time led us to indulge the hope of a more fortunate year
than the last.
Early on the morning of the 7th of January, Maquina
took me with him in his canoe on a visit to Upquesta,
chief of the Ai-tiz-zarts, who had invited him to attend
an exhibition at his village, similar to the one with which
he had been entertained at Tashees. This place is
between twenty and thirty miles distant up the Sound,
and stands on the banks of a small river about the size
of that of Cooptee, just within its entrance, in a valley
of much greater extent than that of Tashees ; it consists
of fourteen or fifteen houses, built and disposed in the
manner of those at Nootka. The tribe, which is considered as tributary to Maquina, amounts to about three
hundred warriors, and the inhabitants, both men and
women, are among the best-looking of any people on
the coast.
On our arrival we were received at the shore by the
inhabitants, a few of whom were armed with muskets,
which they fired, with loud shouts and exclamations of
Wocash, wocash !
We were welcomed by the chiefs messenger, or master mmmlmm
A Visit of State
of ceremonies, dressed in his best garments, with his hair
powdered with white down, and holding in his hand the
cheetolth, the badge of his office. This man preceded
us to the chief's house, where he introduced and pointed
out to us our respective seats. On entering, the visitors
took off their hats, which they always wear on similar
occasions, and Maquina his outer robes, of which he has
several on whenever he pays a visit, and seated himself
near the chief.
As I was dressed in European clothes, I became quite
an object of curiosity to these people, very few of whom
had ever seen a white man. They crowded around me
in numbers, taking hold of my clothes, examining my
face, hands, and feet, and even opening my mouth to see if
I had a tongue, for, notwithstanding I had by this time
become well acquainted with their language, I preserved
the strictest silence, Maquina on our first landing having
enjoined me not to speak until he should direct.
Having undergone this examination for some time,
Maquina at length made a sign to me to speak to them.
On hearing me address them in their own language,
they were greatly astonished and delighted, and told
Maquina that they now perceived that I was a
man like themselves, except that I was white, and
looked like a seal, alluding to my blue jacket and
trousers, which they wanted to persuade me to take off,
as they did not like their appearance. Maquina in the
meantime gave an account to the chief of the scheme
he had formed for surprising our ship, and the manner
in which he and his people had carried it into execution,
with such particular and horrid details of that transaction
as chilled the blood  in  my veins.   Trays  of  boiled ■■
Adventures of John Jewitt
herring spawn and train-oil were soon after brought in
and placed before us, neither the chief or any of his
people eating at the same time, it being contrary to the
ideas of hospitality entertained by these nations, to eat
any part of the food that is provided for strangers, always
waiting until their visitors have finished, before they
have their own brought in.
The following day closed their festival with an
exhibition of a similar kind to that which had been
given at Tashees, but still more cruel; the different
tribes appearing on these occasions to endeavour to
surpass each other in their proofs of fortitude and
endurance of pain. In the morning, twenty men entered
the chiefs house, with each an arrow run through the
flesh of his sides and either arm, with a cord fastened to
the end, which, as the performers advanced, singing and
boasting, was forcibly drawn back by a person having
hold of it. After this performance was closed, we
returned to Cooptee, which we reached at midnight, our
men keeping time with their songs to the stroke of their
The natives now began to take the herring and sprat
in immense quantities, with some salmon, and there was
nothing but feasting from morning till night.
The following is the method they employ to take the
herring. A stick of about seven feet long, two inches
broad, and half an inch thick, is formed from some hard
wood, one side of which is set with sharp teeth, made
from whalebone, at about half an inch apart. Provided
with this instrument, the fisherman seats himself in
the prow of a canoe, which is paddled by another, «and
whenever he comes to a shoal of herrings, which cover wm
Herring Fishing
the water in great quantities, he strikes it with both
hands upon them, and at the same moment, turning it
up, brings it over the side of the canoe, into which he
lets those that are taken drop. It is astonishing to see
how many are caught by those who are dexterous at
this kind of fishing, as they seldom fail, when the shoals
are numerous, of taking as many as ten or twelve at a
stroke, and in a very short time will fill a canoe with
them.   Sprats are likewise caught in a similar manner.
About the beginning of February, Maquina gave a
great feast, at which were present not only all the
inhabitants, but one hundred persons from Ai-tiz-zart,
and a number from Wickinninish who had been invited
to attend it. It is customary with them to give an
annual entertainment of this kind, and it is astonishing
to see what a quantity of provision is expended, or
rather wasted, on such an occasion, when they always eat
to the greatest excess. It was at this feast that I saw
upwards of an hundred salmon cooked in one tub.
The whole residence at Cooptee presents an almost
uninterrupted succession of feasting and gormandising, and it would seem as if the principal object
of these people was to consume their whole stock
of provision before leaving it, trusting entirely to
their success in fishing and whaling, for a supply at
On the 25th of February we quitted  Cooptee, and
returned to Nootka.    With much joy did Thompson
and myself again find ourselves in a place where, not-
172 ■" irnw—
Death of a Chief's Son
withstanding the melancholy recollections which it
excited, we hoped before long to see some vessel arrive
to our relief, and for this we became the more solicitous,
as of late we had become much more apprehensive of
our safety, in consequence of information brought
Maquina a few days before we left Cooptee, by some of
the Cayuquets, that there were twenty ships at the
northward, preparing to come against him, with an
intent of destroying him and his whole tribe, for cutting
off the Boston.
This story, which was wholly without foundation, and
discovered afterwards to have been invented by these
people, for the purpose of disquieting him, threw him
into great alarm, and, notwithstanding all I could say to
convince him that it was an unfounded report, so great
was his jealousy of us, especially after it had been confirmed to him by some others of the same nation, that
he treated us with much harshness, and kept a very
suspicious eye upon us.
Nothing, indeed, could be more unpleasant than our
present situation, when I reflected that our lives were
altogether dependent on the will of a savage, on whose
caprice and suspicions no rational calculation could
be made.
Not long after our return, a son of Maquina's sister,
a boy of eleven years old, who had been for some time
declining, died. Immediately on his death, which was
about midnight, all the men and women in the house
set up loud cries and shrieks, which, awakening
Thompson and myself, so disturbed us that we left the
house.     This lamentation   was   kept   up during the Wmmmm■
174   Adventures of John Jewitt
remainder of the night. In the morning, a great fire
was kindled, in which Maquina burned, in honour of the
deceased, ten fathoms of cloth, and buried with him ten
fathoms more, eight of Ife-whaw, four prime sea-otter
skins, and two small trunks, containing our unfortunate
captain's clothes and watch.
This boy was considered as a Tyee, or chief, being
the only son of Tootoosch, one of their principal chiefs,
who had married Maquina's sister, whence arose this
ceremony on his interment: it being an established
custom with these people, that whenever a chief dies,
his most valuable property is burned or buried with him;
it is, however, wholly confined to the chiefs, and appears
to be a mark of honour appropriate to them.1 In this
instance, Maquina furnished the articles, in order that
his nephew might have the proper honours rendered
Tootoosch, his father, was esteemed the first warrior
of the tribe, and was one who had been particularly
active in the destruction of our ship, having killed two of
1 When an Indian dies, all of his property which has not been given
away, is either buried with him, or, in extreme cases, burned, not for the
purpose of accompanying him to the Spirit Land, but, so the people have
told me, to prevent any temptation to indulge in the bad luck of mentioning his name. The only things that are exempted from this practice are
the dead man's best canoes, his house-planks, and fishing and hunting
implements, which, with any slaves he may possess, go to his eldest son.
I have known the deceased's house and all its contents to be burned ; but
when this is not the case, then the materials are removed elsewhere, and
another building is erected. Around his grave—a box raised from the
ground on pillars, often quaintly carved, or a canoe, or a box fixed up a
tree—are placed various articles belonging to him (or her). At one time
they buried his money with him. But for obvious reasons this custom
has fallen into abeyance. An Insane Chief
our poor comrades, who were ashore, whose names were
Hall and Wood. About the time of our removal to
Tashees, while in the enjoyment of the highest health,
he was suddenly seized with a fit of delirium, in which
he fancied that he saw the ghosts of those two men
constantly standing by him, and threatening him, so that
he would take no food, except what was forced into his
A short time before this he had lost a daughter of
about fifteen years of age, which afflicted him greatly,
and whether his insanity, a disorder very uncommon
amongst these savages, no instance of the kind having
occurred within the memory of the oldest man amongst
them, proceeded from this cause, or that it was the
special interposition of an all-merciful God in our favour,
who by this means thought proper to induce these
barbarians still further to respect our lives, or that,
for hidden purposes, the Supreme Disposer of events
sometimes permits the spirits of the dead to revisit
the world, and haunt the murderer, I know not, but his
mind, from this period until his death, which took place
but a few weeks after that of his son, was incessantly
occupied with the images of the men whom he had
killed. -^ '   jf|      d      MRS
This circumstance made much impression upon the
tribe, particularly the chiefs, whose uniform opposition
to putting us to death, at the various councils that were
held on our account, I could not but in part attribute to
this cause; and Maquina used frequently, in speaking of
Tootoosch's sickness, to express much satisfaction that
his hands had not been stained with the blood of any of
our men.
i  I 176   Adventures of John Jewitt
When Maquina was first informed by his sister of
the strange conduct of her husband, he immediately
went to his house, taking us with him; suspecting
that his disease had been caused by us, and that the
ghosts of our countrymen had been called thither by
us, to torment him. We found him raving about
Hall and Wood, saying that they were peshak, that
is, bad.
Maquina then placed some provision before him, to see
if he would eat. On perceiving it, he put forth his hand
to take some, but instantly withdrew it with signs of
horror, saying that Hall and Wood were there, and
would not let him eat. Maquina then, pointing to us,
asked if it was not John and Thompson who troubled
" Wzk,"1 he replied,—that is, no ; "John klushish—
Thompson klushish"—John and Thompson are both good;
then, turning to me, and patting me on the shoulder, he
made signs to me to eat. I tried to persuade him that
Hall and Wood were not there, and that none were near
him but ourselves ; he said, " I know very well you do not
see them, but I do."
At first Maquina endeavoured to convince him that
he saw nothing, and tq laugh him out of his belief, but,
finding that all was to no purpose, he at length became
serious, and asked me if I had ever seen anyone affected
in this manner, and what was the matter with him. I
gave him to understand, pointing to his head, that his
brain was injured, and that he did not see things as
Being convinced by Tootoosch's conduct that we#had
1 Wik actually means " Not I."   Good is Klooteahatli or Klootakloosch* Treating the Madman
no agency in his indisposition, on our return home
Maquina asked me what was done in my country in
similar cases.
I told him that such persons were closely confined,
and sometimes tied up and whipped, in order to make
them better.1
After pondering for some time, he said that he
should be glad to do anything to relieve him, and that
he should be whipped, and immediately gave orders
to some of his men to go to Tootoosch's house, bind
him, and bring him to his, in order to undergo the
Thompson was the person selected to administer
this remedy, which he undertook very readily, and
for that purpose provided himself with a good number
of spruce branches, with which he whipped him most
severely, laying it on with the best will imaginable,
while Tootoosch displayed the greatest rage, kicking,
spitting, and attempting to bite all who came near
him. This was too much for Maquina, who at length,
unable to endure it longer, ordered Thompson to desist
and Tootoosch to be carried back, saying that if there
was no other way of curing him but by whipping, he
must remain mad.
The application of the whip produced no beneficial
effect on Tootoosch, for he afterwards became still more
deranged; in his fits of fury sometimes seizing a club
1 This, it must be remembered, was in the days before Connolly.
Maquina's remark that if an insane man could not be cured but by
whipping him, he must remain mad, proves that the savage chief was
in advance of his time. Insanity is, however, extremely rare among the
12 mmmmwrnmrni
178 Adventures of John Jewitt
and beating his slaves in a most dreadful manner, and
striking and spitting at all who came near him, till at
length his wife, no longer daring to remain in the house
with him, came with her son to Maquina's.
The whaling season now commenced, and Maquina
was out almost every day in his canoe in pursuit of
them, but for a considerable time with no success, one
day breaking the staff of his harpoon, another after
having been a long time fast to a whale, the weapon
drawing, owing to the breaking of the shell which formed
its point, with several such like accidents, arising from
the imperfection of the instrument.
At these times he always returned very morose
and out of temper, upbraiding his men with having
violated their obligation to continence preparatory to
whaling, In this state of ill-humour he would give
us very little to eat, which, added to the women not
cooking when the men are away, reduced us to a very
low fare.
In consequence of the repeated occurrence of similar
accidents, I proposed to Maquina to make him a
harpoon or foreganger of steel, which would be less
liable to fail him. The idea pleased him, and in a
short time I completed one for him, with which he was
much delighted, and the very next day went out to
make a trial of it.
He succeeded with it in taking a whale. Great was the
joy throughout the village as soon as it was known that
the king had secured the whale, by notice from a person
stationed at the headland in the offing. All the capoes
were immediately launched, and, furnished with harpoons Bringing Home the Whale
and sealskin floats, hastened to assist in buoying it up
and towing it in.
The bringing in of this fish exhibited a scene of
universal festivity. As soon as the canoes appeared at
the mouth of the Cove, those on board of them singing
a triumph to a slow air, to which they kept time with
their paddles, all who were on shore, men, women, and
children, mounted the roofs of their houses to congratulate the king on his success, drumming most
furiously on the planks, and exclaiming Wocash—wocash,
Tyee !
The whale, on being drawn on shore, was immediately
cut up, and a great feast of the blubber given at
Maquina's house, to which all the village were invited,
who indemnified themselves for their Lent by eating as
usual to excess. I was highly praised for the goodness
of my harpoon, and a quantity of blubber given me,
which I was permitted to cook as I pleased ; this I boiled
in salt water with some young nettles and other greens
for Thompson and myself, and in this way we found it
tolerable food.
Their method of procuring the oil, is to skim it from
the water in which the blubber is boiled, and when cool,
put it up into whale bladders for use; and of these
I have seen them so large as, when filled, would require
no less than five or six men to carry. Several of the
chiefs, among whom were Maquina's brothers, who,
after the king has caught the first whale, are privileged
to take them also, were very desirous, on discovering
the superiority of my harpoon, that I should make
some for them, but this Maquina would not permit,
reserving for himself this improved weapon.   He, how- *m
180   Adventures of John Jewitt
ever, gave me directions to make a number more for
himself, which I executed, and also made him several
lances, with which he was greatly pleased.
As these people have some very singular observances
preparatory to whaling, an account of them will, I
presume, not prove uninteresting, especially as it may
serve to give a better idea of their manners. A short
time before leaving Tashees, the king makes a point of
passing a day alone on the mountain, whither he goes
very privately early in the morning, and does not
return till late in the evening.1 This is done, as I afterwards learned, for the purpose of singing and praying
to his God for success in whaling the ensuing season.
At Cooptee the same ceremony is performed, and at
Nootka after the return thither, with still greater
solemnity, as for the next two days he appears very
thoughtful and gloomy, scarcely speaking to any one,
and observes a most rigid fast. On these occasions he
has always a broad red fillet made of bark bound
around his head, in token of humiliation, with a large
branch of green spruce on the top, and his great rattle
in his hand.
In addition to this, for a week before commencing
their whaling, both himself and the crew of his canoe
observe a fast, eating but very little, and going into
the water several times in the course of each day to
bathe, singing and rubbing their bodies, limbs, and
faces with shells and bushes, so that on their return I
have seen them look as though they had been severely
1 He was, as the Indians say, " making his medicine," a term of very
elastic meaning. Funeral Rites
torn with briers, They are likewise obliged to abstain
from any commerce with their women for the like
period, the latter restriction being considered as indispensable to their success.
Early in June, Tootoosch,1 the crazy chief, died. On
being acquainted with his death, the whole village, men,
women, and children, set up a loud cry, with every
testimony of the greatest grief, which they continued for
more than three hours. As soon as he was dead, the
body, according to their custom, was laid out on a
plank, having the head bound round with a red bark
fillet, which is with them an emblem of mourning and
sorrow. After lying some time in this manner, he
was wrapped in an otter-skin robe, and, three fathoms
of Ife-whaw being put about his neck, he was placed in
a large coffin or box of about three feet deep, which was
ornamented on the outside with two rows of the small
white shells. In this, the most valuable articles of his
property were placed with him, among which were no
less than twenty-four prime sea-otter skins.
At night, which is their time for interring the dead,
the coffin was borne by eight men with two poles thrust
through ropes passed around it, to the place of burial,
accompanied by his wife and family, with their hair cut
short in token of grief, all the inhabitants joining the
The place of burial was a large cavern on the side
of a hill at a little distance from the village, in which,
after depositing the coffin carefully, all the attendants
repaired to Maquina's house, where a number of articles
1 "Tootoosch" is the Thunder Bird of "Aht" mythology. n»
182 Adventures of John Jewitt
belonging to the deceased, consisting of blankets, pieces
of cloth, etc., were burned by a person appointed
by Maquina for that purpose, dressed and painted
in the highest style, with his head covered with white
down, who, as he put in the several pieces one by one,
poured upon them a quantity of oil to increase the
flame, in the intervals between making a speech and
playing off a variety of buffoon tricks, and the whole
closed with a feast, and a dance from Sat-sat-sok-sis,
the king's son.
The man who performed the ceremony of burning
on this occasion was a very singular character named
Kinneclimmets. He was held in high estimation by
the king, though only of the common class, probably
from his talent for mimicry and buffoonery, and might be
considered as a kind of king's jester, or rather, as combining in his person the character of a buffoon with
that of master of ceremonies and public orator to his
majesty, as he was the one who at feasts always
regulated the places of the guests, delivered speeches
on receiving or returning visits, besides amusing the
company at all their entertainments, with a variety of
monkey pranks and antic gestures, which appeared to
these savages the height of wit and humour, but would
be considered as extremely low by the least polished
Almost all the kings or head chiefs of the principal
tribes were accompanied by a similar character, who
appeared to be attached to their dignity, and are called
in their language Climmer-habbee.
This man Kinneclimmets was particularly odious to
Thompson, who would never join in the laugh at his M
The King's Chamberlain
tricks, but when he began, would almost always quit
the house with a very surly look, and an exclamation of " Cursed fool!" which Maquina, who thought
nothing could equal the cleverness of his dimmer-
habbee, used to remark with much dissatisfaction, asking
me why Thompson never laughed, observing that I
must have had a very good-tempered woman indeed
for my mother, as my father was so very ill-natured a
Among those performances that gained him the
greatest applause was his talent of eating to excess,
for I have known him devour at one meal no less than
seventy-five large herrings; and at another time, when
a great feast was given by Maquina, he undertook, after
drinking three pints of oil by way of a whet, to eat four
dried salmon, and five quarts of spawn, mixed up with
a gallon of train-oil, and actually succeeded in swallowing the greater part of this mess, until his stomach
became so overloaded as to discharge its contents in
the dish. One of his exhibitions, however, had nearly
cost him his life ; this was on the occasion of Kla-quak-
ee-na, one of the chiefs, having bought him a new wife,
in celebration of which he ran three times through a
large fire, and burned himself in such a manner that he
was not able to stir for more than four weeks. These
feats of savage skill were much praised by Maquina,
who never failed to make him presents of cloth, muskets,
etc., on such occasions.
The death of Tootoosch increased still more the
disquietude which his delirium had excited among the
savages, and all those chiefs who had killed our men
became much alarmed lest they should be seized with 184        Adventures of John Jewitt
the same disorder and die like him; more particularly,
as I had told Maquina that I believed his insanity was
a punishment inflicted on him by Quahootze, for his
cruelty in murdering two innocent men who had never
injured him. CHAPTER XII
war with the a-y-charts—a night attack—
proposals to purchase the author
Our situation had now become unpleasant in the extreme. The summer was so far advanced that we
nearly despaired of a ship arriving to our relief, and
with that expectation almost relinquished the hope of
ever having it in our power to quit this savage land.
We were treated, too, with less indulgence than before,
both Thompson and myself being obliged, in addition
to our other employments, to perform the laborious
task of cutting and collecting fuel, which we had to
bring on our shoulders from nearly three miles' distance,
as it consisted wholly of dry leaves, all of which near the
village had been consumed.
To add to this, we suffered much abuse from the
common people, who, when Maquina or some of the
chiefs were not present, would insult us, calling us
wretched slaves, asking us where was our Tyee or
captain, making gestures signifying that his head had
been cut off, and that they would do the like to us;
though they generally took good care at such times to
keep well out of Thompson's reach, as they had more
than once experienced, to their cost, the strength of
185 186 Adventures of John Jewitt
his fist. This conduct was not only provoking and
grating to our feelings in the highest degree, but it convinced us of the ill disposition of these savages towards
us, and rendered us fearful lest they might at some time
or other persuade or force Maquina and the chiefs to
put us to death.
We were also often brought to great distress for the
want of provisions, so far as to be reduced to collect a
scanty supply of mussels and limpets from the rocks,
and sometimes even compelled to part with some of
our most necessary articles of clothing in order to
purchase food for our subsistence.
This was, however, principally owing to the inhabitants themselves experiencing a great scarcity of
provisions this season; there having been, in the first
place, but very few salmon caught at Friendly Cove, a
most unusual circumstance, as they generally abound
there in the spring, which was by the natives attributed
to their having been driven away by the blood of our
men who had been thrown into the sea, which with
true savage inconsistency excited their murmurs against
Maquina, who had proposed cutting off our ship. Relying on this supply, they had in the most inconsiderate
manner squandered away their winter stock of provision, so that in a few days after their return it was
entirely expended.
Nor were the king and chiefs much more fortunate
in their whaling, even after I had furnished Maquina
with the improved weapon for that purpose; but four
whales having been taken during the season, which
closes the last of May, including one that had been
struck by Maquina and escaped, and was afterwards ■■
Short Commons
driven on shore about six miles from Nootka in almost
a state of putridity.
These afforded but a short supply to a population,
including all ages and sexes, of no less than fifteen
hundred persons, and of a character so very improvident, that, after feasting most gluttonously whenever a
whale was caught, they were several times, for a week
together, reduced to the necessity of eating but once
a day, and of collecting cockles and mussels from the
rocks for their food.
And even after the cod and halibut fishing commenced, in June, in which they met with tolerable
success, such was the savage caprice of Maquina, that
he would often give us but little to eat, finally ordering us to buy a canoe and fishing implements and
go out ourselves and fish, or we should have nothing.
To do this we were compelled to part with our greatcoats, which were not only important to us as garments, but of which we made our beds, spreading them
under us when we slept. From our want of skill,
however, in this new employ, we met with no success;
on discovering which, Maquina ordered us to remain at
Another thing, which to me in particular proved
an almost constant source of vexation and disgust,
and which living among them had not in the least
reconciled me to, was their extreme filthiness, not
only in eating fish, especially the whale, when in a
state of offensive putridity, but while at their meals,
of making a practice of taking the vermin from their
heads or clothes and eating them, by turns thrusting
their fingers  into  their hair and  into the dish, and WM
Adventures of John Jewitt
spreading their garments over the tubs in which the
provision was cooking, in order to set in motion their
Fortunately for Thompson, he regarded this much less
than myself, and when I used to point out to him any
instance of their filthiness in this respect, he would
laugh and reply, "Never mind, John, the more good
things the better." I must, however, do Maquina the
justice to state, that he was much neater both in his
person and eating than were the others, as was likewise his queen, owing, no doubt, to his intercourse with
foreigners, which had given him ideas of cleanliness,
for I never saw either of them eat any of these animals,
but, on the contrary, they appeared not much to relish
this taste in others. Their garments, also, were much
cleaner, Maquina having been accustomed to give his
away when they became. soiled, till after he discovered
that Thompson and myself kept ours clean by washing
them, when he used to make Thompson do the same for
Yet amidst this state of endurance and disappoint-
1 This habit—unfortunately not peculiar to the Indians—is still occasionally indulged in. The reason they give for it is, that when the great
flood covered the earth—a tradition that is found among other North-West
American Indians — they escaped in their canoes, and had to eat lice
for lack of any other food, and now practise it out of gratitude. The
superstitious observances of these tribes are so numerous that the merest
account of those known would fill a volume. One or two interesting
instances may be mentioned:—Thus, in sneezing, there is good luck if
the right nostril is alone affected. But if the left, then evil fortune is
at hand. When they pare their nails, which is not often, they burn the
parings, and if the smoke from them goes straight up, their latter end
will be good; if not, they will go to the place of punishment. They
used to regard—and perhaps still regard—the whites not as human beings,
but as a sort of demons. Maquina's Melting Moods 189
ment, in hearing repeatedly of the arrival of ships at
the north and south, most of which proved to be idle
reports, while expectation was almost wearied out in
looking for them, we did not wholly despond, relying
on the mercy of the Supreme Being, to offer up to
whom our devotions on the days appointed for His
worship was our chief consolation and support, though
we were sometimes obliged, by our taskmasters, to
infringe upon the Sabbath, which was to me a source
of much regret.
We were, nevertheless, treated at times with much
kindness by Maquina, who would give us a plenty of
the best that he had to eat, and occasionally, some
small present of cloth for a garment, promising me that,
if any ship should arrive within a hundred miles of
Nootka, he would send a canoe with a letter from me
to the captain, so that he might come to our release.
These flattering promises and marks of attention
were, however, at those times when he thought himself
in personal danger from a mutinous spirit, which the
scarcity of provisions had excited among the natives,
who, like true savages, imputed all their public calamities, of whatever kind, to the misconduct of their chief,
or when he was apprehensive of an attack from some
of the other tribes, who were irritated with him for
cutting off the Boston, as it had prevented ships from
coming to trade with them, and were constantly alarming him with idle stories of vessels that were preparing
to come against him and exterminate both him and
his people.
At such times, he made us keep guard over him both
night and day, armed with cutlasses and pistols, being 190 Adventures of John Jewitt
apparently afraid to trust any of his own men. At one
time, it was a general revolt of his people that he
apprehended; then three of his principal chiefs,
among whom was his elder brother, had conspired to
take away his life; and at length he fancied that a
small party of Klaooquates, between whom and the
Nootkians little friendship subsisted, had come to
Nootka, under a pretence of trade, for the sole purpose
of murdering him and his family, telling us, probably to
sharpen our vigilance, that their intention was to kill us
likewise; and so strongly were his fears excited on this
occasion, that he not only ordered us to keep near him
armed by day, whenever he went out, and to patrol
at night before his house while they remained, but to
continue the same guard for three days after they were
gone, and to fire, at one and at four in the morning, one
of the great guns, to let them know, if, as he suspected,
they were lurking in the neighbourhood, that he was on
his guard.
While he was thus favourably disposed towards us, I
took an opportunity to inform him of the ill-treatment
that we frequently received from his people, and the
insults that were offered us by some of the stranger
tribes in calling us white slaves, and loading us with
other opprobrious terms. He was much displeased,
and said that his subjects should not be allowed to
treat us ill, and that if any of the strangers did it, he
wished us to punish the offenders with death, at the
same time directing us, for our security, to go constantly
This permission was soon improved by Thompson to
the best advantage; for a few days after, having gone to Beheaded
the pond to wash some of our clothes, and a blanket for
Maquina, several Wickinninish who were then at Nootka
came thither, and, seeing him washing the clothes, and
the blanket spread upon the grass to dry, they began,
according to custom, to insult him, and one of them,
bolder than the others, walked over the blanket. Thompson was highly incensed, and threatened the Indian with
death if he repeated the offence, but he, in contempt of
the threat, trampled upon the blanket, when, drawing
his cutlass, without further ceremony, Thompson cut off
his head, on seeing which the others ran off at full speed.
Thompson then, gathering up the clothes and blanket,
on which were the marks of the Indian's dirty feet, and
taking with him the head, returned and informed the
king of what had passed, who was much pleased, and
highly commended his conduct. This had a favourable
effect for us, not only on the stranger tribes but the
inhabitants themselves, who treated us afterwards with
less disrespect.
In the latter part of July, Maquina informed me that
he was going to war with the A -y-charts} a tribe about
1 The E-cha-chets are not at present recognised as a separate tribe. But
there is a large village in Clayoquat Sound on the south end of Waken-
ninish Island which bears that name. Like many now all but extincftribes,
who ■ have become absorbed into greater ones, the E-cha-chets seem in
Jewitt's time to have been more numerous. In Meares's narrative, " Lee-
cha-ett" is mentioned as a village of Wakenninish, but this could not
have been the same place, for Maquina and Wakenninish were at
this period on good terms. The river which the expedition ascended to
reach the summer salmon fishing village of the tribe was probably either
the Bear or the Onamettis, both of which flow through some swampy
ground into the head of Bedwall Arm. But as usual Jewitt exaggerated
the distance up which the canoemen paddled. There is no river in Vancouver Island navigable for twenty or thirty miles, and few, even when
broken by rapids and falls, quite that length. 192 Adventures of John Jewitt
fifty miles to the south, on account of some controversy
that had arisen the preceding summer, and that I must
make a number of daggers for his men, and cheetolths
for his chiefs, which having completed, he wished me
to make for his own use a weapon of quite a different
form, in order to dispatch his enemy by one blow on
the head, it being the calculation of these nations, on
going to war, to surprise their adversaries while asleep.
This was a steel dagger, or more properly a spike,
of about six inches long, made very sharp, set at right
angles in an iron handle of fifteen inches long, terminating at the lower end in a crook or turn, so as to
prevent its being wrenched from the hand, and at the
upper in a round knob or head, from whence the
spike protruded. This instrument I polished highly,
and, the more to please Maquina, formed on the back
of the knob the resemblance of a man's head, with
the mouth open, substituting for eyes black beads,
which I fastened in with red sealing-wax. This pleased
him much, and was greatly admired by his chiefs, who
wanted me to make similar ones for them, but Maquina
would not suffer it, reserving for himself alone this
When these people have finally determined on war,
they make it an invariable practice, for three or four
weeks prior to the expedition, to go into the water five
or six times a day, when they wash and scrub themselves from head to foot with bushes intermixed with
briers, so that their bodies and faces will often be entirely covered with blood. During this severe exercise,
they are continually exclaiming, " Wocash, Quaheotze,
Teechamme  ah welth,   wik-etish   tau-ilth — Kar  sub- On the War Path
matemas—Wik-sish to hauk matemas—/ ya-ish kah-
shittle—As-smootish warich matemas"; which signifies,
" Good or great God, let me live—Not be sick—Find the
enemy—Not fear him—Find him asleep, and kill a great
many of them."
During the whole of this period they have no intercourse with their women, and for a week before setting
out, abstain from feasting or any kind of merriment,
appearing thoughtful, gloomy, and morose, and for the
three last days are almost constantly in the water, both
by day and night, scrubbing and lacerating themselves
in a terrible manner. Maquina, having informed
Thompson and myself that he should take us with him,
was very solicitous that we should bathe and scrub ourselves in the same way with them, telling me that it
would harden our skins, so that the weapons of the
enemy would not pierce them, but as we felt no great
inclination to amuse ourselves in this manner, we
declined it.
The expedition consisted of forty canoes, carrying
from ten to twenty men each. Thompson and myself
armed ourselves with cutlasses and pistols, but the
natives, although they had a plenty of European arms,
took with them only their daggers and cheetolths, with
a few bows and arrows, the latter being about a yard in
length, and pointed with copper, mussel-shell, or bone ;
the bows are four feet and a half long, with strings
made of whale sinew.
To go to A-y-chart, we ascended, from twenty to
thirty miles,1 a river about the size of that of Tashees,
the banks of which are high and covered with wood.
1 This is an exaggerated estimate.
13 194 Adventures of John Jewitt
At midnight we came in sight of the village, which was
situated on the west bank near the shore, on a steep hill
difficult of access, and well calculated for defence. It
consisted of fifteen or sixteen houses, smaller than those
at Nootka, and built in the same style, but compactly
placed. By Maquina's directions, the attack was
deferred until the first appearance of dawn, as he said
that was. the time when men slept the soundest.
At length, all being ready for the attack, we landed
with the greatest silence, and, going around so as to
come upon the foe in the rear, clambered up the hill,
and while the natives, as is their custom, entered the
several huts creeping on all-fours, my comrade and
myself stationed ourselves without to intercept those
who should attempt to escape or come to the aid of
their friends. I wished, if possible, not to stain my
hands in the blood of any fellow-creature; and though
Thompson would gladly have put to death all the
savages in the country, he was too brave to think of
attacking a sleeping enemy.
Having entered the houses, on the war-whoop being
given by Maquina as he seized the head of the chief and
gave him the fatal blow, all proceeded to the work of
death. The A-y-charts, being thus surprised, were
unable to make resistance, and, with the exception of a
very few who were so fortunate as to make their escape,
were all killed, or taken prisoners on condition of
becoming slaves to their captors. I had the good
fortune to take four captives, whom Maquina, as a
favour, permitted me to consider as mine, and occasionally employ them in fishing for me. As for Thompson,
who thirsted for revenge, he had no wish to take any A Famous Victory
prisoners, but with his cutlass, the only weapon he
would employ against them, succeeded in killing seven
stout fellows who came to attack him, an act which
obtained him great credit with Maquina and the chiefs,
who after this held him in much higher estimation, and
gave him the appellation of " Chehiel-suma-har," it being
the name of a very celebrated warrior of their nation in
ancient times, whose exploits were the constant theme
of their praise.
After having put to death all the old and infirm of
either sex, as is the barbarous practice of these people,
and destroyed the buildings, we re-embarked with our
booty in our canoes for Nootka, where we were received
with great demonstrations of joy by the women and
children, accompanying our war - song with a most
furious drumming on the houses. The next day a great
feast was given by Maquina in celebration of his victory,
which was terminated, as usual, with a dance by Sat-
Repeated applications had been made to Maquina by
a number of kings or chiefs to purchase me, especially
after he had showed them the harpoon I had made for
him, which he took much pride in, but he constantly
refused to part with me on any terms. Among these,
the king of the Wickinninish was particularly solicitous
to obtain me, having twice applied to Maquina for that
purpose, once in a very formal manner, by sending his
messenger with four canoes, who, as he approached the
shore, decorated in their highest style, with the white
down on his head, etc., declared that he came to buy
1 This is one of the best descriptions of West Coast warfare with which
I am acquainted. 196 Adventures of John Jewitt
I Tooteyoohannis," the name by which I was known to
them, for his master, and that he had brought for that
purpose four young male slaves, two highly ornamented
canoes, such a number of the skins of metamelth, and of
the quartlack,1 or sea-otter, and so many fathoms of
cloth and of Ife-whaw, while, as he mentioned the different articles, they were pointed out or held up by his
attendants; but even this tempting offer had no influence
on Maquina, who in the latter part of the summer was
again very strongly urged to sell me by Ulatilla, or, as
he is generally called, Machee Ulatilla, chief of the
Klaizzarts,2 who had come to Nootka on a visit.
This chief, who could speak tolerable English, had
much more the appearance of a civilised man than any
of the savages that I saw. He appeared to be about
thirty, was rather small in his person, but extremely well
formed, with a skin almost as fair as that of an European,
good features, and a countenance expressive of candour and amiableness, and which was almost always
brightened with a smile. He was much neater both in
his dress and person than any of the other chiefs, seldom
wearing paint, except upon his eyebrows, which, after
the custom of his country, were plucked out, and a few
strips of the pelpelth on the lower part of his face. He
always treated me with much kindness, was fond of
conversing with me in English and in his own language,
asking me many questions relative to my country, its
manners, customs, etc., and appeared to take a strong
1 "Quiaotluk," Jewitt, with innate cockneyism, inserting an r after a
wherever this is possible. No Indian can pronounce r, any mora than a
Chinaman can.
2 Klahosahts. A Friendly Chief
interest in my fate, telling me that if he could persuade
Maquina to part with me, he would put me on board
the first ship that came to his country, a promise which,
from his subsequent conduct, I have good reason to
think he would have performed, as my deliverance at
length from captivity and suffering was, under the
favour of Divine Providence, wholly owing to him, the
only letter that ever reached an European or American
vessel out of sixteen that I wrote at different times and
sent to various parts of the coast, having been delivered
by him in person. So much pleased was I with this
man's behaviour to me while at Nootka, that I made for
him a cheetolth, which I burnished highly, and engraved with figures. With this he was greatly delighted.
I also would have made for him a harpoon, would
Maquina have consented.
With hearts full of dejection and almost lost to hope,
no ship having appeared off Nootka this season, did my
companion and myself accompany the tribe on their
removal in September to Tashees, relinquishing in consequence for six months even the remotest expectation
of relief. CHAPTER XIII
SOON after our establishment there, Maquina informed
me| that he and his chiefs had held council both before
and after quitting Nootka, in which they had determined that I must marry one of their women, urging as
a reason to induce me to consent, that, as there was
now no probability of a ship coming to Nootka to
release me, that I must consider myself as destined
to pass the remainder of my life with them, that the
sooner I conformed to their customs the better,
and that a wife and family would render me more
contented and satisfied with their mode of living. I
remonstrated against this decision, but to no purpose, for he told me that, should I refuse, both
Thompson and myself would be put to death; telling
me, however, that if there were none of the women
of his tribe that pleased me, he would go with me to
some of the other tribes, where he would purchase
for me such a one as I should select. Reduced to
this sad extremity, with death on the one side and
matrimony on the other, I thought proper to choose
198 Jewitt a-Wooing Goes
what appeared to me the least of the two evils,
and consent to be married, on condition that, as I
did not fancy any of the Nootka women, I should
be permitted to make choice of one from some other
This being settled, the next morning by daylight,
Maquina, with about fifty men in two canoes, set out
with me for Ai-tiz-zart,1 taking with him a quantity of
cloth, a number of muskets, sea-otter skins, etc., for the
purchase of my bride. With the aid of our paddles
and sails, being favoured with a fair breeze, we arrived
some time before sunset at the village. Our arrival
excited a general alarm, and the men hastened to the
shore, armed with the weapons of their country, making
many warlike demonstrations, and displaying much zeal
and activity. We, in the meantime, remained quietly
seated in our canoes, where we remained for about half
an hour, when the messenger of the chief, dressed in
their best manner, came to welcome us and invite us on
shore to eat.2 We followed him in procession to the
chiefs house, Maquina at our head, taking care to leave
a sufficient number in the boats to protect the property.
When we came to the house, we were ushered in with
much ceremony, and our respective seats pointed
out to us, mine being next to Maquina by his
After having been regaled with a feast of herring
spawn and oil, Maquina asked me if I saw any among
the women who were present that I liked.   I immediately
1 Ayhuttisaht, also in Nootka Sound.
2 This is the custom if the visit of the strangers has not been announced
in advance, 2oo Adventures of John Jewitt
pointed out to a young girl of about seventeen, the
daughter of Upquesta, the chief, who was sitting near
him by her mother. On this, Maquina, making a sign
to his men, arose, and, taking me by the hand, walked
into the middle of the room, and sent off two of his
men to bring the boxes containing the presents from
the canoes. In the meantime, Kinneclimmets, the
master of ceremonies, whom I have already spoken of,
made himself ready for the part he was to act, by
powdering his hair with white down. When the chests
were brought in, specimens of the several articles were
taken out, and showed by our men, one of whom held
up a musket, another a skin, a third a piece of cloth,
On this Kinneclimmets stepped forward, and, addressing the chief, informed him that all these belonged
to me, mentioning the number of each kind, and
that they were offered to him for the purchase of
his daughter Eu - stoch - ee - exqua, as a wife for me.
As he said this, the men who held up the various
articles walked up to the chief, and with a very stern
and morose look, the complimentary one on these
occasions, threw them at his feet. Immediately on
which, all the tribe, both men and women, who were
assembled on this occasion, set up a cry of Klack-ko-
Tyee,x that is, " Thank ye, chief."
His men, after this ceremony, having returned to
their places, Maquina rose, and, in a speech of more
than half an hour, said much in my praise to the Ai-
tiz-zart chief, telling him that I was as good a man
as themselves, differing from ±hem only in being white,
1 Ooshyuksomayts is another expression meaning much the same thing. mm*
A Certificate of Character
that I was besides acquainted with many things of
which they were ignorant; that I knew how to make
daggers, cheetolths, and harpoons, and was a very
valuable person, whom he was determined to keep
always with him; praising me at the same time for
the goodness of my temper, and the manner in which
I had conducted myself since I had been with them,
observing that all the people of Nootka, and even the
children, loved me.
While Maquina was speaking, his master of ceremonies was continually skipping about, making the
most extravagant gestures, and exclaiming | Wocash 1"
When he had ceased, the Ai-tiz-zart chief arose, amidst
the acclamations of his people, and began with setting
forth the many good qualities and accomplishments of
his daughter; that he loved her greatly, and as she
was his only one, he could not think of parting with
her. He spoke in this manner for some time, but
finally concluded by consenting to the proposed union,
requesting that she might be well used and kindly
treated by her husband. At the close of the speech,
when the chief began to manifest a disposition to consent to our union, Kinneclimmets again began to call
out as loud as he could bawl, 1 Wocash!" cutting a
thousand capers and spinning himself around on his
heel like a top.
When Upquesta had finished his speech, he directed
his people to carry back the presents which Maquina
had given him, to me, together with two young male
slaves to assist me in fishing. These, after having been
placed before me, were by Maquina's men taken on
board the canoes.   This ceremony being over, we were 202 Adventures of John Jewitt
invited by one of the principal chiefs to a feast at
his house, of Klussamit} or dried herring, where, after
the eating was over, Kinneclimmets amused the company very highly with his tricks, and the evening's
entertainment was closed by a new war-song from our
men, and one in return from the Ai-tiz-zarts, accompanied with expressive gestures, and wielding of their
After this our company returned to lodge at Up-
questa's, except a few who were left on board the
canoes to watch the property. In the morning I received from the chief his daughter, with an earnest
request that I would use her well, which I promised
him ; when, taking leave of her parents, she accompanied me with apparent satisfaction on board of the
The wind being ahead, the natives were obliged to
have recourse to their paddles, accompanying them
with their songs, interspersed with the witticisms and
buffoonery of Kinneclimmets, who, in his capacity of
king's steersman, one of his functions which I forgot to
enumerate, not only guided the course of the canoe,
but regulated the singing of the boatmen. At about
five in the morning we reached Tashees, where we
found all the inhabitants collected on the shore to
receive us.
We were welcomed with loud shouts of joy, and
exclamations oi" Wocash!" and the women, taking my
bride under their charge, conducted her to Maquina's
house, to be kept with them  for ten days; it being
1 Kloosmit  is   "herring"  (Meletta  cceruled) generally.     Klooshist is
dried salmon, a more common article of food. •***mm
Marriage of the Author
an universal custom, as Maquina informed me, that no
intercourse should take place between the new married
pair during that period. At night Maquina gave a
great feast, which was succeeded by a dance, in which
all the women joined, and thus ended the festivities of
my marriage.1
The term of my probation being over, Maquina
assigned me as an apartment the space in the upper
part of his house between him and his elder brother,
whose room was opposite. Here I established myself with my family, consisting of myself and wife,
Thompson, and the little Sat-sat-sok-sis, who had
always been strongly attached to me, and now solicited
his father to let him live with me, to which he consented.
This boy was handsome, extremely well formed,
amiable, and of a pleasant, sprightly disposition. I
used to take a pleasure in decorating him with rings,
bracelets, ear-jewels, etc., which I made for him of
copper, and ornamented and polished them in my
best manner. I was also very careful to keep him free
from vermin of every kind, washing him and combing
his hair every day. These marks of attention were not
only very pleasing to the child, who delighted in being
kept neat and clean, as well as in being dressed off in
his finery, but was highly gratifying both to Maquina
and his queen, who used to express much satisfaction
at my care of him.
In making my domestic establishment, I determined,
1 Jewitt's marriage was less ceremonious than is usual with Indians of
any rank, and the ten days' probation was not according to modern
customs. Ul    I   ■■!!
204 Adventures of John Jewitt
as far as possible, to live in a more comfortable and
cleanly manner than the others. For this purpose I
erected with planks a partition of about three feet
high between mine and the adjoining rooms, and
made three bedsteads of the same, which I covered
with boards, for my family to sleep on, which I found
much more comfortable than sleeping on the floor
amidst the dirt.
Fortunately, I found my Indian princess both amiable
and intelligent, for one whose limited sphere of observation must necessarily give rise to but a few ideas.
She was extremely ready to agree to anything that I
proposed relative to our mode of living, was very
attentive in keeping her garments and person neat
and clean, and appeared in every respect solicitous to
please me.
She was, as I have said, about seventeen; her person was small but well formed, as were her features ;
her complexion was, without exception, fairer than
any of the women, with considerable colour in her
cheeks, her hair long, black, and much softer than
is usual with them, and her teeth small, even, and
of a dazzling whiteness; while the expression of
her countenance indicated sweetness of temper and
modesty. She would indeed have been considered as
very pretty in any country, and, excepting Maquina's
queen, was by far the handsomest of any of their
With a partner possessing so many attractions, many
may be apt to conclude that I must have found
myself happy,—at least, comparatively so; but far
otherwise was it with me.    A compulsory marriage with As one of Themselves
the most beautiful and accomplished person in the
world can never prove a source of real happiness ; and,
in my situation, I could not but view this connection
as a chain that was to bind me down to this savage
land, and prevent my ever again seeing a civilised
country; especially when, in a few days after, Maquina
informed me that there had been a meeting of his
chiefs, in which it had been determined that, as I
had married one of their women, I must be considered as one of them, and conform to their customs,
and that in future neither myself nor Thompson should
wear our European clothes, but dress in kutsaksx
like themselves. This order was to me most painful,
but I persuaded Maquina at length so far to relax in
it as to permit me to wear those I had at present,
which were almost worn out, and not to compel
Thompson to change his dress, observing that, as
he was an old man, such a change would cause his
Their religious celebration, which the last year took
place in December, was in this commenced on the 15th
of November, and continued for fourteen days. As I
was now considered as one of them, instead of being
ordered to the woods, Maquina directed Thompson and
myself to remain and pray with them to Quahootze
to be good to them, and thank him for what he had
It was opened in much the same manner as the
former.   After which, all the men and women in the
1 Kutsak, or hot sack, or kootsick, or cotsacTc, for all these forms occur,
was the blanket worn cloakwise, rendered familiar to Europeans in so
many pictures and sketches. «■—
Adventures of John Jewitt
village assembled at Maquina's house, in their plainest
dresses, and without any kind of ornaments about
them, having their heads bound around with the red
fillet, a token of dejection and humiliation, and their
countenances expressive of seriousness and melancholy.
The performances during the continuance of this celebration consisted almost wholly in singing a number
of songs to mournful airs, the king regulating the
time by beating on his hollow plank or drum, accompanied by one of his chiefs seated near him with the
great rattle. In the meantime they ate but seldom,
and then very little, retiring to sleep late, and rising
at the first appearance of dawn, and even interrupting
this short period of repose by getting up at midnight
and singing.
The ceremony was terminated by an exhibition of a
similar character to the one of the last year, but still
more cruel. A boy of twelve years old, with six
bayonets run into his flesh, one through each arm and
thigh, and through each side close to the ribs, was
carried around the room suspended upon them, without
manifesting any symptoms of pain. Maquina, on my
inquiring the reason of this display, informed me that
it was an ancient custom of his nation to sacrifice a
man at the close of this solemnity, in honour of their
God, but that his father had abolished it, and substituted
this in its place.1   The whole closed on the evening of
1 Human sacrifices are quite common among the Northern tribes. But
in Vancouver they were very rare in my time, arid are now still less
frequent. In 1863 the burial of a chief was celebrated by the heads of
several tribesmen being fixed about his grave. These were not taken by
force, but surrendered by the trembling tribesmen, the victims being most Husband and Wife
the 29th, with a great feast of salmon spawn and oil, at
which the natives, as usual, made up for their late
A few days after, a circumstance occurred, which,
from its singularity, I cannot forbear mentioning. I was
sent for by my neighbour Yealthlower, the king's elder
brother, to file his teeth, which operation having been
performed, he informed me that a new wife, whom he
had a little time before purchased, having refused to
sleep with him, it was his intention, provided she persisted in her refusal, to bite off her nose. I endeavoured
to dissuade him from it, but he was determined, and, in
fact, performed his savage threat that very night, saying
that since she would not be his wife, she should not be
that of any other, and in the morning sent her back to
her father.
The inhuman act did not, however, proceed from any
innate cruelty of disposition or malice, as he was far
from being of a barbarous temper ; but such is the
despotism exercised by these savages over their women,
that he no doubt considered it as a just punishment for
likely slaves. In 1788, Meares affirms, on what we believe to be insufficient evidence, that Maquina (Moqulla) sacrificed a human being every
new moon, to gratify "his unnatural appetite" for human flesh. The
victim was a slave selected by the blindfolded chief catching him in a
house in which a number were assembled. Meares even declares that
Maquina acknowledged his weakness, and that though Callicum, another
chief, avoided cannibalism, he reposed on a pillow filled with human skulls.
If so, the practice has ceased. Yet cannibalism was undeniably practised
at times among the Indians of both the East and West coasts. There were
in 1866 Indians living in Koskeemo Sound, who still talked of the delights
of human flesh. Many years ago, the Bella-Bellas ate a servant of the
Hudson Bay Company, and the Nuchaltaws of Cape Mudge are affirmed
by old traders to have paid the same doubtful compliment to a sailor who
fell into their clutches. 208   Adventures of John Jewitt
her offence, in being so obstinate and perverse; as he
afterwards told me, that in similar cases the husband
had a right with them to disfigure his wife in this
way or some other, to prevent her ever marrying
About the middle of December, we left Tashees
for Cooptee. As usual at this season, we found the
herrings in great plenty, and here the same scene
of riotous feasting that I witnessed last year was
renewed by our improvident natives, who, in addition
to their usual fare, had a plentiful supply of wild
geese, which were brought us in great quantities by
the Eshquates. These, as Maquina informed me, were
caught with nets made from bark in the fresh waters
of that country. Those who take them make choice
for that purpose of a dark and rainy night, and, with
their canoes stuck with lighted torches, proceed with
as little noise as possible to the place where the
geese are collected, who, dazzled by the light, suffer
themselves to be approached very near, when the net
is thrown over them, and in this manner from fifty to
sixty, or even more, will sometimes be taken at one
On the 15th of January 1805, about midnight, I was
thrown into considerable alarm, in consequence of an
eclipse of the moon, being awakened from my sleep
by a great outcry of the inhabitants. On going to
discover the cause of this tumult, I found them all
out of their houses, bearing lighted torches, singing
and beating upon pieces of plank; and when I asked
them the reason of this proceeding, they pointed to
the  moon, and   said  that  a  great  cod-fish was  en-  'I Clad as a Native
deavouring to swallow her, and that they were driving
him away. The origin of this superstition I could not
Though, in some respects, my situation was rendered
more comfortable since my marriage, as I lived in a
more cleanly manner, and had my food better and
more neatly cooked, of which, besides, I had always
a plenty, my slaves - generally furnishing me, and
Upquesta never failing to send me an ample supply
by the canoes that came from Ai-tiz-zart; still, from
my being obliged at this season of the year to change
my accustomed clothing, and to dress like the natives,
with only a piece of cloth of about two yards long
thrown loosely around me, my European clothes
having been for some time entirely worn out, I suffered
more than I can express from the cold, especially
as I was compelled to perform the laborious task of
cutting and bringing the firewood, which was rendered
still more oppressive to me, from my comrade, for a
considerable part of the winter, not having it in his
power to lend me his aid, in consequence of an attack
of the rheumatism in one of his knees, with which he
suffered for more than four months, two or three weeks
of which he was so ill as to be under the necessity to
leave the house.
This state of suffering, with the little hope I now had
of ever escaping from the savages, began to render my
life irksome to me; still, however, I lost not my
confidence in the aid of the Supreme Being, to
whom, whenever the weather and a suspension from
the tasks imposed on me would permit, I never
failed regularly on Sundays to retire to the wood to mm—
212 Adventures of John Jewitt
worship, taking Thompson with me when he was able
to go.
On the 20th of February, we returned to our summer
quarters at Nootka, but on my part, with far different
sensations than the last spring, being now almost in
despair of any vessel arriving to release us, or our being
permitted to depart if there should.
Soon after our return, as preparatory to the whaling
season, Maquina ordered me to make a good number
of harpoons for himself and his chiefs, several of
which I had completed, with some lances, when, on
the 16th of March, I was taken very ill with a
violent colic, caused, I presume, from having suffered
so much from the cold, in going without proper
clothing. For a number of hours I was in great pain,
and expected to die, and on its leaving me, I was so
weak as scarcely to be able to stand, while I had
nothing comforting to take, nor anything to drink but
cold water.
On the day following, a slave belonging to Maquina
died, and was immediately, as is their custom in such
cases, tossed unceremoniously out of doors, from
whence he was taken by some others and thrown into
the water. The treatment of this poor creature made
a melancholy impression upon my mind, as I could
not but think that such probably would be my fate
should I die among these heathens, and so far from
receiving a decent burial, that I should not even be
allowed the common privilege of having a little earth
thrown over my remains.
The feebleness in which the violent attack of my
disorder had left me, the dejection I felt at the almost mmmm
Departure of Jewitt's Wife 213
hopelessness of my situation and the want of warm
clothing and proper nursing, though my Indian wife,
as far as she knew how, was always ready, even
solicitous, to do everything for me she could, still kept
me very much indisposed, which Maquina perceiving,
he finally told me that if I did not like living with
my wife, and that was the cause of my being so sad, I
might part with her. This proposal I readily accepted,
and the next day Maquina sent her back to her
On parting with me she discovered much emotion,
begging me that I would suffer her to remain till I
had recovered, as there was no one who would take
so good care of me as herself. But when I told her
she must go, for that I did not think I should ever
get well, which in truth I but little expected, and that
her father would take good care of her and treat her
much more kindly than Maquina, she took an affectionate leave, telling me that she hoped I should
soon get better, and left her two slaves to take care
of me.
Though I rejoiced at her departure, I was greatly
affected with the simple expressions of her regard for
me, and could not but feel strongly interested for this
poor girl, who in all her conduct towards me had
discovered so much mildness and attention to my
wishes; and had it not been that I considered her as an
almost insuperable obstacle to my being permitted to
leave the country, I should no doubt have felt the
deprivation of her society a real loss. After her
departure, I requested Maquina that, as I had parted
with my wife, he would   permit   me to resume my 2i4   Adventures of John Jewitt
European dress, as, otherwise, from not having been
accustomed to dress like them, I should certainly die.
To this he consented, and I once more became comfortably clad.
Change of clothing, but, more than all, the hopes
which I now began to indulge that in the course of
the summer I should be able to escape, in a short
time restored me to health, so far that I could again
go to work in making harpoons for Maquina, who
probably, fearing that he should have to part with
me, determined to provide himself with a good
I shall not, however, long detain the reader with a
detail of occurrences that intervened between this
period and that of my escape, which, from that dull
uniformity that marks the savage life, would be in
a measure but a repetition, nor dwell upon that
mental torture I endured from a constant conflict of
hope and fear, when the former, almost wearied out
with repeated disappointment, offered to our sinking
hearts no prospect of release but death, to which we
were constantly exposed from the brutal ignorance
and savage disposition of the common people, who,
in the various councils that were held this season to
determine what to do with us in case of the arrival of
a ship, were almost always for putting us to death,
expecting by that means to conceal the murder of
our crew and to throw the blame of it on some other
tribe. These barbarous sentiments were, however,
universally opposed by Maquina and his chiefs, who.
would not consent to our being injured. But, as
some of their customs and traits of national character The Kingly Office
which I think deserving of notice have not been
mentioned, I shall proceed to give an account of
The office of king or chief is, with those people,
hereditary, and descends to the eldest son, or, in failure
of male issue, to the elder brother, who in the regal line
is considered as the second person in the kingdom. At
feasts, as I have observed, the king is always placed in
the highest or seat of honour, and the chiefs according
to their respective ranks, which appear in general to be
determined by their affinity to the royal family; they
are also designated by the embellishments of their
mantles or kutsaks. The king, or head Tyee, is their
leader in war, in the management of which he is
perfectly absolute. He is also president of their councils,
which are almost always regulated by his opinion. But
he has no kind of power over the property of his
subjects, nor can he require them to contribute to his
wants, being in this respect no more privileged than any
other person. He has, in common with his chiefs, the
right of holding slaves, which is not enjoyed by private
individuals, a regulation probably arising from their
having been originally captives taken in battle, the spoils
of war being understood as appertaining to the king,
who receives and apportions them among his several
chiefs and warriors according to their rank and deserts.
In conformity with this idea, the plunder of the Boston
was all deposited in Maquina's house, who distributed
part of it among his chiefs, according to their respective
ranks or degree of favour with him, giving to one three
hundred muskets, to another one hundred and fifty, with 216   Adventures of John Jewitt
other things in like proportion. The king is, however,
obliged to support his dignity by making frequent
entertainments, and whenever he receives a large supply
of provision, he must invite all the men of his tribe
to his house to eat it up, otherwise, as Maquina told
me, he would not be considered as conducting himself
like a Tyee, and would be no more thought of than a
common man.
With regard to their religion.—They believe in the
existence of a Supreme Being, whom they call Quahootze,
and who, to use Maquina's expression, was one great
Tyee in the sky, who gave them their fish, and could
take them from them, and was the greatest of all kings.
Their usual place of worship appeared to be the water,
for whenever they bathed, they addressed some words in
form of prayer to the God above, entreating that he
would preserve them in health, give them good success
in fishing, etc. These prayers were repeated with much
more energy on preparing for whaling or for war, as I
have already mentioned.
Some of them would sometimes go several miles to
bathe, in order to do it in secret; the reason for this I
could never learn, though I am induced to think it was
in consequence of some family or private quarrel, and
that they did not wish what they said to be heard;
while at other times they would repair in the same
secret manner to the woods to pray. This was
more particularly the case with the women, who
might also have been prompted by a sentiment of
decency to retire for the purpose of bathing, as they
are remarkably modest. fcM
The Natives' Theology
I once found one of our women more than two
miles from the village on her knees in the woods, with
her eyes shut and her face turned towards heaven,
uttering words in a lamentable tone, amongst which I
distinctly heard, Wocash Ah - welth, meaning " good
Lord," and which has nearly the same signification
with Quahootze.
Though I came very near her, she appeared not to
notice me, but continued her devotions. And I have
frequently seen the women go alone into the woods,
evidently for the purpose of addressing themselves to a
superior Being, and it was always very perceptible on
their return when they had been thus employed, from
their silence and melancholy looks.
They have no belief, however, in a state of future
existence, as I discovered in conversation with Maquina
at Tootoosch's death, on my attempting to convince
him that he still existed, and that he would again see
him after his death; but he could comprehend nothing
of it, and, pointing to the ground, said that there was
the end of him, and that he was like that.1 Nor do
they believe in ghosts, notwithstanding the case of
Tootoosch would appear to  contradict this  assertion,
1 This, in common with other statements of the kind, is more than
doubtful. The best account of their religion is by Mr. Sproat, but even
he acknowledges that, after two years devoted to the subject, and to the
questioning of others who had passed half a lifetime amongst the " Ahts,"
he could discover very little about their faith which could be pronounced
indisputably accurate. Even the Indians themselves are by no means at
one on the subject, people without a written creed or sacred books being
apt to entertain very contradictory ideas on their theological tenets. I
endeavoured to fathom some of their beliefs, and I had ample opportunities;
but I confess to the difficulty of getting behind these reserved folk, and I
did not meet with sufficient success to make the results worth recording.
t ■ .mil HI
218   Adventures of John Jewitt
but that was a remarkable instance, and such a one
as had never been known to occur before; yet from
the mummeries performed over the sick, it is very
apparent that they believe in the agency of spirits,
as they attribute diseases to some evil one that has
entered the body of the patient. Neither have they
any priests, unless a kind of conjurer1 may be so considered who sings and prays over the sick to drive
away the evil spirit.
On the birth of twins, they have a most singular
custom, which, I presume, has its origin in some religious
opinion, but what it is, I could never satisfactorily learn.
The father is prohibited for the space of two years from
eating any kind of meat, or fresh fish, during which
time he does no kind of labour whatever, being supplied
with what he has occasion for from the tribe. In the
meantime, he and his wife, who is also obliged to conform
to the same abstinence, with their children, live entirely
separate from the others, a small hut being built for
their accommodation, and he is never invited to any of
the feasts, except such as consist wholly of dried
provision, where he is treated with great respect, and
seated among the chiefs, though no more himself than
a private individual.
Such births are very rare among them; an instance
of the kind, however, occurred while I was at Tashees
the last time, but it was the only one known since the
reign of the former king.    The father always appeared
1 What Jewitt calls a "conjurer" is more commonly known in these
times as a "medicine man," who was, more often than not, a combination
nine parts rogue and one part fool. "■■
A Father of Twins
very thoughtful and gloomy, never associated with the
other inhabitants, and was at none of the feasts, but such
as were entirely of dried provision, and of this he ate
not to excess, and constantly retired before the amusements commenced. His dress was very plain, and he
wore around his head the red fillet of bark, the symbol
of mourning and devotion. It was his daily practice to
repair to the mountain, with a chiefs rattle in his hand,
to. sing and pray, as Maquina informed me, for the fish
to come into their waters. When not thus employed,
he kept continually at home, except when sent for to
sing and perform his ceremonies over the sick, being
considered as a sacred character, and one much in favour
with their gods.1
These people are remarkably healthful, and live to
a very advanced age, having quite a youthful appearance for their years.2 They have scarcely any
disease but the colic, their remedy for which is
friction, a person rubbing the bowels of the sick
violently, until the pain has subsided, while the conjurer, or holy man, is employed, in the meantime, in
making his gestures, singing, and repeating certain
words, and blowing off the evil spirit, when the patient
1 This is entirely different from the views that are entertained by
other tribes. The tribes speaking the language which prevails from
Port San Juan to Comox are so ashamed of twins, that one of the hapless two is almost invariably killed. I do not remember having ever
seen a case.    Most of the Indian birth notions are very curious.
2 They are apt to rapidly change from young-looking to old-looking men,
without any of that pleasant " Indian summer " so characteristic of people
in more civilised communities. But advanced years are not common. In
1864 the oldest man in the little Opechesaht tribe, whose homes are on the
Kleecoot River (flowing out of Sproat Lake into the Alberni Inlet), was
only sixty, so far as he could make out. 220 Adventures of John Jewitt
is wrapped up in a bearskin, in order to produce
Their cure for the rheumatism, or similar pains, which
I saw applied by Maquina in the case of Thompson, to
whom it gave relief, is by cutting or scarifying the part
affected. In dressing wounds, they simply wash them
with salt water, and bind them up with a strip of
cloth, or the bark of a tree. They are, however, very
expert and successful in the cure of fractured or
dislocated limbs, reducing them very dexterously, and,
after binding them up with bark, supporting them
with blocks of wood, so as to preserve their
During the whole time I was among them, but five
natural deaths occurred, Tootoosch and his two infant
children, an infant son of Maquina, and the slave whom
I have mentioned, a circumstance not a little remarkable
in a population of about fifteen hundred; and as respects
child-birth, so light do they make of it, that I have seen
their women, the day after, employed as usual, as if little
or nothing had happened.
The Nootkians in their conduct towards each other
are in general pacific and inoffensive, and appear by no
means an ill-tempered race, for I do not recollect any
instance of a violent quarrel between any of the men, or
the men and their wives, while I was with them, that of
Yealthlower excepted.   But when they are in the least
1 Bilious complaints, constipation, dysentery, consumption, fevers and
acute inflammatory diseases, and (amongst some tribes, but not amongst
the Nootkians), ophthalmia, are common, though rheumatism and paralysis
are infrequent. The " diseases of civilisation," it may be added, have been
known for many years. The Heir Apparent
offended, they appear to be in the most violent rage,
acting like so many maniacs, foaming at the mouth,
kicking and spitting most furiously; but this is rather a
fashion with them than a demonstration of malignity,
as in their public speeches they use the same violence,
and he is esteemed the greatest orator who bawls the
loudest, stamps, tosses himself about, foams, and spits
the most.1
•In speaking of their regulations, I have omitted
mentioning that, on attaining the age of seventeen, the
eldest son of a chief is considered as a chief himself,
and that whenever the father makes a present, it is
always done in the name of his eldest son, or, if
he has none, in that of his daughter. The chiefs
frequently purchase their wives at the age of eight or
ten, to prevent their being engaged by others, though
they do not take them from their parents until they
are sixteen.
With regard to climate, the greater part of the spring,
summer, and autumn is very pleasant, the weather being
at no time oppressively hot, and the winters uncommonly
mild for so high a latitude, at least, as far as my experience went. At Tashees and Cooptee, where we passed
the coldest part of the season, the winter did not set in
till late in December, nor have I ever yet known the ice,
even on the fresh-water ponds, more than two or three
1 This is still true. When sober they indulge in high words, and are
fond of teasing the women until they get out of temper; but a blow is rare.
Even the children seldom fall out, the necessity of small communities
living together for mutual protection compelling the members to establish
a modus vivendi. However, when drunk—and in spite of the laws
against liquor being sold to them, this is by no means uncommon—
they are prone to seek close quarters and act like angry termagants. 222 Adventures of John Jewitt
inches in thickness, or a snow exceeding four inches in
depth; but what is wanting in snow, is amply made up
in rain, as I have frequently known it, during the winter
months, rain almost incessantly for five or six days in
succession. CHAPTER XIV
arrival of the brig "lydia"—stratagem of the
author—its success
It was now past midsummer, and the hopes we had
indulged of our release became daily more faint, for
though we had heard of no less than seven vessels on
the coast, yet none appeared inclined to venture to
The destruction of the Boston, the largest, strongest,
and best equipped ship, with the most valuable cargo
of any that had ever been fitted for the North-West
trade, had inspired the commanders of others with
a general dread of coming thither, lest they should
share the same fate; and though in the letters I wrote
(imploring those who should receive them to come
to the relief of two unfortunate Christians who were
suffering among heathen), I stated the cause of the
Boston's capture, and that there was not the least danger
in coming to Nootka, provided they would follow the
directions I laid down, still I felt very little encouragement that any of these letters would come to hand;
when, on the morning of the 19th of July, a day that will
be ever held by me in grateful remembrance of the
mercies of God, while I was employed with Thompson
in forging daggers for the king, my ears were saluted
223 224   Adventures of John Jewitt
with the joyful sound of three cannon, and the cries of
the inhabitants, exclaiming " Weena, weena—Mameth-
lee ! "—that is, " Strangers—White men ! "
Soon after, several of our people came running into
the house, to inform me that a vessel under full sail was
coming into the harbour. Though my heart bounded
with joy, I repressed my feelings, and, affecting to pay
no attention to what was said, told Thompson to be on
his guard, and not betray any joy, as our release, and
perhaps our lives, depended on our conducting ourselves
so as to induce the natives to suppose we were not very
anxious to leave them. We continued our work as if
nothing had happened, when, in a few minutes after,
Maquina came in, and, seeing us at work, appeared
much surprised, and asked me if did not know that a
vessel had come.
I answered in a careless manner, that it was nothing
to me. | How, John," said he, " you no glad go board ? "
I replied that I cared very little about it, as I had
become reconciled to their manner of living, and had
no wish to go away. He then told me that he had
called a council of his people respecting us, and that
we must leave off work and be present at it.
The men having assembled at Maquina's house, he
asked them what was their opinion should be done with
Thompson and myself, now a vessel had arrived, and
whether he had not better go on board himself, to make
a trade, and procure such articles as were wanted. Each
one of the tribe who wished, gave his opinion. Some
were for putting us to death, and pretending to the
strangers that a different nation had cut off the Boston ;
while others, less barbarous, were for sending us fifteen A Mild-Mannered Man
or twenty miles back into the country, until the departure of the vessel.
These, however, were the sentiments of the common
people, the chiefs opposing our being put to death, or
injured, and several of them, among the most forward
of whom were Yealthlower and the young chief Too-
winnakinnish, were for immediately releasing us; but
this, if he could avoid it, by no means appeared to
accord with Maquina's wishes.
Having mentioned Toowinnakinnish, I shall briefly
observe that he was a young man of about twenty-
three years old, the only son of Toopeeshottee, the
oldest and most respected chief of the tribe. His son
had always been remarkably kind and friendly to me,
and I had in return frequently made for him daggers,
cheetolths, and other things, in my best manner. He
was one of the handsomest men among them, very
amiable, and much milder in his manners than any of
the others, as well as neater both in his person and
house, at least his apartment, without even excepting
With regard, however, to Maquina's going on board
the vessel, which he discovered a strong inclination to
do, there was but one opinion, all remonstrating against
it, telling him that the captain would kill him or keep
him prisoner, in consequence of his having destroyed
our ship. When Maquina had heard their opinions, he
told them that he was not afraid of being hurt from
going on board the vessel, but that he would, however,
as it respected that, be guided by John, whom he had
always found true. He then turned to me, and asked
me if I thought there would be any danger in his going
15 226   Adventures of John Jewitt
on board. I answered, that I was not surprised at the
advice his people had given him, unacquainted as they
were with the manners of the white men, and judging
them by their own; but if they had been with them as
much as I had, or even himself, they would think very
different. That he had almost always experienced good
and civil treatment from them, nor had he any reason
to fear the contrary now, as they never attempted to
harm those who did not injure them; and if he wished
to go on board, he might do it, in my opinion, with
After reflecting a few moments, he said, with much
apparent satisfaction, that if I would write a letter to
the captain, telling him good of him, that he had treated
Thompson and myself kindly since we had been with
him, and to use him well, he would go.
It may easily be supposed that I felt much joy at
this determination, but, knowing that the least incaution
might annihilate all my hopes of escape, was careful
not to manifest it, and to treat his going or staying as
a matter perfectly indifferent to me. I told him
that, if he wished me to write such a letter, I had no
objection, as it was the truth, otherwise I could not
have done it.
I then proceeded to write the recommendatory letter,
which the reader will naturally imagine was of a somewhat different tenor from the one he had required;
for if deception is in any case warrantable, it was
certainly so in a situation like ours, where the only
chance of regaining that freedom of which we had
been so unjustly deprived, depended upon it; and I
trust that few, even of the most rigid, will condemn A Letter of Introduction
me with severity for making use of it, on an occasion
which afforded me the only hope of ever more
beholding a Christian country, and preserving myself,
if not from death, at least from a life of continued
The letter which I wrote was nearly in the following
To Captain	
of the Brig
Nootka, July 19, 1805.
Sir,—The bearer of this letter is the Indian king by
the name of Maquina. He was the instigator of the
capture of the ship Boston, of Boston, in North America,
John Salter, captain, and of the murder of twenty-five
men of her crew, the two only survivors being now on
shore—Wherefore I hope you will take care to confine
him according to his merits, putting in your dead-lights,
and keeping so good a watch over him, that he cannot
escape from you. By so doing, we shall be able to
obtain our release in the course of a few hours.
John R. Jewitt, Armourer of the "Boston,"
for himself, and
John Thompson, Sail-maker of the said ship.
I have been asked how I dared to write in this
manner: my answer is, that from my long residence
among these people, I knew that I had little to apprehend from their anger on hearing of their king being
confined, while they knew his life depended upon my
release, and that they would sooner have given up five
hundred white men, than have had him injured.   This
m 228 Adventures of John Jewitt
will serve to explain the little apprehension I felt at
their menaces afterwards, for otherwise, sweet as liberty
was to me, I should hardly have ventured on so hazardous an experiment.
On my giving the letter to Maquina, he asked me to
explain it to him. This I did line by line, as he pointed
them out with his finger, but in a sense very different
from the real, giving him to understand that I had
written to the captain that, as he had been kind to me
since I had been taken by him, that it was my wish
that the captain should treat him accordingly, and give
him what molasses, biscuit, and rum he wanted.
When I had finished, placing his finger in a significant
manner on my name at the bottom, and eyeing me
with a look that seemed to read my inmost thoughts,
he said to me, " John, you no lie ?" Never did I
undergo such a scrutiny, or ever experience greater
apprehensions than I felt at that moment, when my
destiny was suspended on the slightest thread, and the
least mark of embarrassment on mine, or suspicion of
treachery on his part, would probably have rendered
my life the sacrifice.
Fortunately I was able to preserve my composure,
and my being painted in the Indian manner, which
Maquina had since my marriage required of me, prevented any change in my countenance from being
noticed, and I replied with considerable promptitude,
looking at him in my turn, with all the confidence I
could muster,—
" Why do you ask me such a question, Tyee ? Have
you ever known me to lie ? "
* No." Making the King Prisoner
"Then how can you suppose I should tell you a
lie now, since I have never done it?" As I was
speaking, he still continued looking at me with the
same piercing eye, but, observing nothing to excite his
suspicion, he told me that he believed what I said was
true, and that he would go on board, and gave orders
to get ready his canoe. His chiefs again attempted to
dissuade him, using every argument for that purpose,
while his wives crowded around him, begging him on
their knees not to trust himself with the white men.
Fortunately for my companion and myself, so strong
was his wish of going on board the vessel, that he was
deaf to their solicitations, and, making no other reply to
them than "John no lie," left the house, taking four prime
skins with him as a present to the captain.
Scarcely had the canoe put off, when he ordered his
men to stop, and, calling to me, asked me if I did not
want to go on board with him. Suspecting this as a
question merely intended to ensnare me, I replied that
I had no wish to do it, not having any desire to leave
On going on board the brig, Maquina immediately
gave his present of skins and my letter to the captain,
who, on reading it, asked him into the cabin, where he
gave him some biscuit and a glass of rum, at the same
time privately directing his mate to go forward, and
return with five or six of the men armed. When they
appeared, the captain told Maquina that he was his
prisoner, and should continue so, until the two men,
whom he knew to be on shore, were released, at the same
time ordering him to be put in irons, and the windows
secured, which was instantly done, and a couple of men
ft 230
Adventures of John Jewitt
placed as a guard over him. Maquina was greatly surprised and terrified at this reception; he, however, made
no attempt to resist, but requested the captain to permit
one of his men to come and see him. One of them was
accordingly called, and Maquina said something to him
which the captain did not understand, but supposed to
be an order to release us, when, the man returning to
the canoe, it was paddled off with the utmost expedition
to the shore.
As the canoe approached, the inhabitants, who had
all collected upon the beach, manifested some uneasiness at not seeing their king on board, but when, on
its arrival, they were told that the captain had made
him a prisoner, and that John had spoke bad about him
in the letter, they all, both men and women, set up a
loud howl, and ran backwards and forwards upon the
shore like so many lunatics, scratching their faces, and
tearing the hair in handfuls from their heads.
After they had beat about in this manner for some
time, the men ran to their huts for their weapons, as if
preparing to attack an invading enemy ; while Maquina's
wives and the rest of the women came around me, and,
throwing themselves on their knees, begged me with
tears to spare his life ; and Sat-sat-sok-sis, who kept
constantly with me, taking me by the hand, wept bitterly,
and joined his entreaties to theirs, that I would not let
the white men kill his father. I told them not to afflict
themselves, that Maquina's life was in no danger, nor
would the least harm be done to him.
The men were, however, extremely exasperated with
me, more particularly the common people, who came
running in   the   most   furious   manner   towards  me, "Strike, but Hear"
brandishing their weapons, and threatening to cut me in
pieces no bigger than their thumb-nails, while others
declared they would burn me alive over a slow fire suspended by my heels. All this fury, however, caused
me but little alarm, as I felt convinced they would not
dare to execute their threats while the king was on
board the brig.
The chiefs took no part in this violent conduct, but
came to me, and inquired the reason why Maquina had
been thus treated, and if the captain intended to kill him.
I told them that if they would silence the people, so
that I could be heard, I would explain all to them.
They immediately put a stop to the noise, when I informed them that the captain, in confining Maquina, had
done it only in order to make them release Thompson
and myself, as he well knew we were with them; and if
they would do that, their king would receive no injury,
but be well treated, otherwise he would be kept a
As many of them did not appear to be satisfied with
this, and began to repeat their murderous threats—
" Kill me," said I to them, " if it is your wish," throwing
open the bearskin which I wore. " Here is my breast. I
am only one among so many, and can make no resistance;
but unless you wish to see your king hanging by his
neck to that pole," pointing to the yard-arm of the brig,
" and the sailors firing at him with bullets, you will not
do it." I <r
" Oh no," was the general cry, " that must never
be; but what must we do ?" I told them that their
best plan would be to send Thompson on board, to
desire the captain to use Maquina well till I was released, II
232   Adventures of John Jewitt
which would be soon. This they were perfectly willing
to do, and I directed Thompson to go on board. But
he objected, saying that he would not leave me alone with
the savages. I told him not to be under any fear for
me, for that if I could get him off, I could manage well
enough for myself; and that I wished him, immediately
on getting on board the brig, to see the captain, and
request him to keep Maquina close till I was released, as
I was in no danger while he had him safe.
When I saw Thompson off, I asked the natives what
they intended to do with me. They said I must talk to
the captain again, in another letter, and tell him to let
his boat come on shore with Maquina, and that I should
be ready to jump into the boat at the same time Maquina
should jump on shore. I told them that the captain,
who knew that they had killed my shipmates, would
never trust his men so near the shore, for fear they could
kill them too, as they were so much more numerous,
but that if they would select any three of their number
to go with me in a canoe, when we came within hail, I
would desire the captain to send his boat with Maquina,
to receive me in exchange for him.
This appeared to please them, and after some whispering among the chiefs, who, from what words I overheard, concluded that if the captain should refuse to
send his boat with Maquina, the three men would have
no difficulty in bringing me back with them, they agreed
to my proposal, and selected three of their stoutest men
to convey me. Fortunately, having been for some time
accustomed to see me armed, and suspecting no design
on my part, they paid no attention to the pistols that I
had about me. Within Sight of Liberty
O f f
As I was going into the canoe, little Sat-sat-sok-sis,
who could not bear to part with me, asked me, with an
affecting simplicity, since I was going away to leave him,
if the white men would not let his father come on shore,
and not kill him. I told him not to be concerned, for
that no one should injure his father, when, taking an
affectionate leave of me, and again begging me not to
let the white men hurt his father, he ran to comfort his
mother, who was at a little distance, with the assurances
I had given him.
On entering the canoe, I seated myself in the prow
facing the three men, having determined, if it was
practicable, from the moment I found Maquina was
secured, to get on board the vessel before he was
released, hoping by that means to be enabled to obtain
the restoration of what property belonging to the Boston
still remained in the possession of the savages, which I
thought, if it could be done, a duty that I owed to the
owners. With feelings of joy impossible to be described
did I quit the savage shore, confident now that nothing
could thwart my escape, or prevent the execution of the
plan that I had formed, as the men appointed to convey
and guard me were armed with nothing but their
As we came within hail of the brig, they at once
ceased paddling, when, presenting my pistols at them, I
ordered them instantly to go on, or I would shoot the
whole of them. A proceeding so wholly unexpected
threw them into great consternation, and, resuming their
paddles, in a few moments, to my inexpressible delight,
I once more found myself alongside of a Christian ship,
a happiness which I had almost despaired of ever again 234 Adventures of John Jewitt
enjoying. All the crew crowded to the side to see me as
the canoe came up, and manifested much joy at my safety.
I immediately leaped on board, where I was welcomed
by the captain, Samuel Hill, of the brig Lydia of Boston,
who congratulated me on my escape, informing me that
he had received my letter off Kloiz-zartx from the chief
Machee Ulatilla, who came off himself in his canoe
to deliver it to him, on which he immediately proceeded hither to aid me. I returned him my thanks
in the best manner I could for his humanity, though I
hardly knew what I said, such was the agitated state of
my feelings at that moment, with joy for my escape,
thankfulness to the Supreme Being who had so mercifully
preserved me, and gratitude to those whom He had
rendered instrumental in my delivery, that I have no
doubt that, what with my strange dress, being painted
with red and black from head to foot, having a bearskin wrapped around me, and my long hair, which
I was not allowed to cut, fastened on the top
of my head in a large bunch, with a sprig of green
spruce, I must have appeared more like one deranged
than a rational creature, as Captain Hill afterwards
told me that he never saw anything in the form of man
look so wild as I did when I first came on board.
The captain then asked me into the cabin, where I
found Maquina in irons, with a guard over him. He
looked very melancholy, but on seeing me his countenance brightened up, and he expressed his pleasure with
the welcome of " Wocash, John," when, taking him by
the hand, I asked the captain's permission to take off
his irons, assuring him that, as I was with him, there was
1 This seems another variant of Klaosaht A Freed Man
no danger of his being in the least troublesome. He
accordingly consented, and I felt a sincere pleasure in
freeing from fetters a man who, though he had caused
the death of my poor comrades, had nevertheless always
proved my friend and protector, and whom I had
requested to be thus treated, only with a view of
securing my liberty. Maquina smiled, and appeared
much pleased at this mark of attention from me. When
I had freed the king from his irons, Captain Hill wished
to learn the particulars of our capture, observing that
an account of the destruction of the ship and her crew
had been received at Boston before he sailed, but that
nothing more was known, except that two of the men
were living, for whose rescue the owners had offered a
liberal reward, and that he had been able to get nothing
out of the old man, whom the sailors had supplied so
plentifully with grog as to bring him too much by the
head to give any information.
I gave him a correct statement of the whole proceeding, together with the manner in which my life and that
of my comrade had been preserved. On hearing my
story, he was greatly irritated against Maquina, and
said he ought to be killed. I observed that, however ill
he might have acted in taking our ship, yet that it might
perhaps be wrong to judge an uninformed savage with
the same severity as a civilised person, who had the
light of religion and the laws of society to guide him.
That Maquina's conduct in taking our ship arose from
an insult that he thought he had received from Captain
Salter, and from the unjustifiable conduct of some
masters of vessels who had robbed him, and, without
provocation, killed a number of his people.   Besides,
1 236 Adventures of John Jewitt
that a regard for the safety of others ought to prevent
his being put to death, as I had lived long enough with
these people to know that revenge of an injury is held
sacred by them, and that they would not fail to retaliate,
should we kill their king, on the first vessel or boat's
crew that should give them an opportunity; and that,
though he might consider executing him as but an act
of justice, it would probably cost the lives of many
The captain appeared to be convinced from what I
said of the impolicy of taking Maquina's life, and said
that he would leave it wholly with me whether to spare
or kill him, as he was resolved to incur no censure in
either case. I replied that I most certainly should never
take the life of a man who had preserved mine, had I
no other reason, but as there was some of the Bostons
property still remaining on shore, I considered it a duty
that I owed to those who were interested in that ship,
to try to save it for them, and with that view I thought
it would be well to keep him on board till it was given
up. He concurred in this proposal, saying, if there was
any of the property left, it most certainly ought to be
During this conversation Maquina was in great
anxiety, as, from what English he knew, he perfectly
comprehended the subject of our deliberation; constantly interrupting me to inquire what we had determined to do with him, what the captain said, if his life
would be spared, and if I did not think that Thompson
would kill him. I pacified him as well as I was able,
by telling him that he had nothing to fear from the
captain, that he would not be hurt, and that if Thompson Maquina's Terror
wished to kill him, he would not be allowed to do it.
He would then remind me that I was indebted to him
for my life, and that I ought to do by him as he had
done by me. I assured him that such was my intention,
and I requested him to remain quiet, and not alarm
himself, as no harm was intended him. But I found it
extremely difficult to convince him of this, as it accorded ]
so little with the ideas of revenge entertained by them.
I told him, however, that he must restore all the property
still in his possession belonging to the ship. This he
was perfectly ready to do, happy to escape on such
But as it was now past five, and too late for the
articles to be collected and brought off, I told him that
he must content himself to remain on board with me
that night, and in the morning he should be set on shore
as soon as the things were delivered. To this he agreed,
on condition that I would remain with him in the cabin.
I then went upon deck, and the canoe that brought me
having been sent back, I hailed the inhabitants and told
them that their king had agreed to stay on board till
the next day, when he would return, but that no canoes
must attempt to come near the vessel during the night,
as they would be fired upon. They answered, 1 Woho,
wqho "—" Very well, very well."
I then returned to Maquina, but so great were his
terrors, that he would not allow me to sleep, constantly
disturbing me with his questions, and repeating, " John,
you know, when you was alone, and more than five
hundred men were your enemies, I was your friend, and
prevented them from putting you and Thompson to
death, and now I am in the power of your friends, you -™-
238   Adventures of John Jewitt
ought to do the same by me." I assured him that he
would be detained on board no longer than whilst the
property was released, and that as soon as it was done,
he would be set at liberty.
At daybreak I hailed the natives, and told them
that it was Maquina's order that they should bring
off the cannon and anchors, and whatever remained
with them of the cargo of the ship. This they set
about doing with the utmost expedition, transporting the cannon and anchors by lashing together
two of their largest canoes, and covering them with
planks, and in the course of two hours they delivered
everything on board that I could recollect, with
Thompson's and my chest, containing the papers of
the ship, etc.
When everything belonging to the ship had been
restored, Maquina was permitted to return in his
canoe, which had been sent for him, with a present
of what skins he had collected, which were about
sixty, for the captain, in acknowledgment of his
having spared his life, and allowed him to depart
Such was also the transport he felt when Captain Hill
came into the cabin, and told him that he was at liberty
to go, that he threw off his mantle, which consisted of
four of the very best skins, and gave it to him as a mark
of his gratitude; in return for which the captain presented him with a new greatcoat and hat, with which
he appeared much delighted. The captain then desired
me to inform him that he should return to that part of
the coast in November, and that he wished him to keep
what skins he should get, which he would buy of him. Farewell to Maquina
This Maquina promised, saying to me at the same time,
"John, you know I shall be then at Tashees, but when
you come, make pow," which means, fire a gun, " to let
me know, and I will come down." When he came to
the side of the brig, he shook me cordially by the hand,
and told me that he hoped I would come to see him
again in a big ship, and bring much plenty of blankets,
biscuit, molasses, and rum, for him and his son, who
loved me a great deal; and that he would keep all the
furs he got for me, observing at the same time, that he
should never more take a letter of recommendation from
any one, or ever trust himself on board a vessel unless I
was there. Then, grasping both my hands with much
emotion, while the tears trickled down his cheeks, he
bade me farewell, and stept into the canoe, which
immediately paddled him on shore.
Notwithstanding my joy at my deliverance, and the
pleasing anticipation I felt of once more beholding a
civilised country, and again being permitted to offer up
my devotions in a Christian church, I could not avoid
experiencing a painful sensation on parting with the
savage chief, who had preserved my life, and in general
treated me with kindness, and, considering their ideas
and manners, much better than could have been
My pleasure was also greatly damped by an unfortunate accident that occurred to Toowinnakinnish. That
interesting young chief had come on board in the first
canoe in the morning, anxious to see and comfort his
king. He was received with much kindness by Captain
Hill, from the favourable account I gave of him, and
invited to remain  on board.   As   the  muskets were 240 Adventures of John Jewitt
delivered, he was in the cabin with Maquina, where was
also the captain, who, on receiving them, snapped a
number in order to try the locks; unluckily one of them
happened to be loaded with swan shot, and, going off,
discharged its contents into the body of poor Toowinnakinnish, who was sitting opposite. On hearing the
report, I instantly ran into the cabin, where I found
him weltering in his blood, with the captain, who was
greatly shocked at the accident, endeavouring to assist
We raised him up, and did everything in our power to
aid and comfort him, telling him that we felt much
grieved at his misfortune, and that it was wholly
unintentional; this he told me he was perfectly satisfied
of, and while we dressed and bound up his wounds, in
the best manner we could, he bore the pain with great
calmness, and, bidding me farewell, was put on board
one of the canoes and taken on shore, where, after
languishing a few days, he expired. To me his misfortune was a source of much affliction, as he had no share in
the massacre of our crew, was of a most amiable character,
and had always treated me with the greatest kindness
and hospitality.
The brig being under weigh, immediately on
Maquina's quitting us, we proceeded to the northward,
constantly keeping the shore in sight, and touching at
various places for the purpose of trading.
Having already exceeded the bounds I had prescribed
myself, I shall not attempt any account of our voyage
upon the coast, or a description of the various nations
we met with in the course of it, among whom were a
people  of a very singular  appearance, called  by the At Nootka again
sailors the Wooden-lips} They have many skins, and
the trade is principally managed by their women, who
are not only expert in making a bargain, but as dexterous
in the management of their canoes as the men are elsewhere.
After a period of nearly four months from our leaving
Nootka, we returned from the northward to Columbia
River, for the purpose of procuring masts, etc., for our
brig, which had suffered considerably in her spars during
a gale of wind. We proceeded about ten miles up the
river to a small Indian village, where we heard from
the inhabitants that Captains Clark and Lewis, from
the United States of America, had been there about a
fortnight before, on their journey overland, and had left
several medals with them, which they showed us.2 The
river at this place is of considerable breadth, and both
sides of it from its entrance covered with forests of the
very finest pine timber, fir, and spruce, interspersed with
Indian settlements.
From this place, after providing ourselves with spars, we
sailed for Nootka, where we arrived in the latter part of
November.3   The tribe being absent, the agreed signal
1 These are doubtless the Hydahs and their kindred, the women of whom
insert a wooden or ivory trough in their lower lip.
2 Lewis and Clark reached the mouth of Columbia River on the 15th
of November 1805, and wintered at " Fort Clatsop," as they called their
dwelling among the then numerous Clatsop Indians, until the 23rd of March
1806, when they began the return journey. The Indians have long ago
vanished from the lower Columbia, the remnant of the Clatsops, and the
Chinooks on the opposite side, now wearing out the tribal existence in
inland Reservations. But it is still possible to come across one of the
medals which the explorers distributed amongst them.
3 It is clear, therefore, from this statement that Lewis and Clark had
left Fort Clatsop much more than a fortnight before the vessel in which Jewitt
was arrived there ; for it is impossible to suppose that the latter took from
16 ■ ■ ■■
242   Adventures of John Jewitt
was given, by firing a cannon, and in a few hours after a
canoe appeared, which landed at the village, and, putting
the king on shore, came off to the brig. Inquiry was
immediately made by Kinneclimmets, who was one of
the three men in the canoe, if John was there, as the
king had some skins to sell them if he was. I then
went forward and invited them on board, with which
they readily complied, telling me that Maquina had a
number of skins with him, but that he would not come
on board unless I would go on shore for him. This I
agreed to, provided they would remain in the brig in the
meantime. To this they consented, and the captain,
taking them into the cabin, treated them with bread and
molasses. I then went on shore in the canoe, notwithstanding the remonstrances of Thompson and the captain,
who, though he wanted the skins, advised me by no
means to put myself in Maquina's power; but I assured
him that I had no fear as long as those men were on
As I landed, Maquina came up and welcomed -me with
much joy: on inquiring for the men, I told him that
they were to remain till my return. " Ah, John," said
he, " I see you are afraid to trust me, but if they had
come with you, I should not have hurt you, though I
should have taken good care not to let you go on board
of another vessel." He then took his chest of skins, and,
stepping into the canoe, I paddled him alongside the
brig, where he was received and treated by Captain Hill
April to November to get at spars and make the return voyage to Nootka.
But the journal of Lewis and Clark was not published until 1814, so that,
when Jewitt wrote, he had no ready means of checking the Indians' statement, though neither he nor his editor seems to have troubled books
much. ■""limn
The Last of the King
with the greatest cordiality, who bought of him his skins.
He left us much pleased with his reception, inquiring of
me how many moons it would be before I should come
back again to see him and his son; saying that he would
keep all his furs for me, and that as soon as my son, who
was then about five months old, was of a suitable age to
take from his mother, he would send for him, and take
care of him as his own.1
As soon as Maquina had quitted us, we got under
weigh, and stood again to the northward. We continued
on the coast until the nth of August, 1806,2 when,
having completed our trade, we sailed for China, to the
great joy of all our crew, and particularly so to me.
With a degree of satisfaction that I can ill express,
did I quit a coast to which I was resolved nothing
should again tempt me to return, and as the tops
of the mountains sank in the blue waves of the
ocean, I seemed to feel my heart lightened of an
oppressive load.
We had a prosperous passage to China, arriving at
Macao in December, from whence the brig proceeded
to Canton. There I had the good fortune to meet a
townsman and an old acquaintance in the mate of an
English East Indiaman, named John Hill, whose father,
a wealthy merchant in Hull in the Baltic trade, was a
next-door neighbour to mine.    Shortly after our arrival,
1 The cavalier manner in which Jewitt abandons his family is quite in
the fur-trader's fashion. It does not seem that he even asked to see his
Indian " princess ! "
2 If Jewitt's information about the departure of Lewis and Clark from the
Columbia River is even approximately accurate, the date must be wrong by
a year, and the subsequent one quite as far out of the due reckoning. 1806
may be a misprint for 1807. 244 Adventures of John Jewitt
the captain being on board of an English ship, and mentioning his having had the good fortune to liberate two
men of the Boston's crew from the savages, and that one
of them was named Jewitt, my former acquaintance
immediately came on board the brig to see me.
Words can ill express my feelings on seeing him.
Circumstanced as I was, among persons who were entire
strangers to me, to meet thus in a foreign land with one
between whom and myself a considerable intimacy had
subsisted, was a pleasure that those alone who have
been in a similar situation can properly estimate. He
appeared on his part no less happy to see me, whom he
supposed to be dead, as the account of our capture had
been received in England some time before his sailing,
and all my friends supposed me to have been murdered.
From this young man I received every attention and aid
that a feeling heart interested in the fate of another could
confer. He supplied me with a new suit of clothes and a
hat, a small sum of money for my necessary expenses,
and a number of little articles for sea stores on my
voyage to America. I also gave him a letter for my
father, in which I mentioned my wonderful preservation
and escape through the humanity of Captain Hill, with
whom I should return to Boston. This letter he enclosed to his father by a ship that was just sailing, in
consequence of which it was received much earlier than
it otherwise would have been.
We left China in February 1807, and, after a pleasant
voyage of one hundred and fourteen days, arrived at
Boston. My feelings on once more finding myself in a
Christian country, among a people speaking the same
language with myself, may be more readily conceived Kindness all Round
than expressed. In the post office in that place I found
a letter for me from my mother, acknowledging the
receipt of mine from China, expressing the great joy of
my family on hearing of my being alive and well, whom
they had for a long time given up for dead, and requesting me to write to them on receiving her letter, which I
accordingly did. While in Boston I was treated with
much kindness and hospitality by the owners of the
ship Boston, Messrs. Francis and Thomas Amory of that
place, to whom I feel myself under great obligations for
their goodness to me, and the assistance which they so
readily afforded a stranger in distress.  APPENDIX
I. The "Boston's" Crew
Names of the Crew of the Ship Boston, belonging to
Boston in Massachusetts, owned by Messrs. F. and
T. Amory, Merchants of that place—All of whom,
excepting two, were on the 22nd of March, 1803,
barbarously murdered by the savages of Nootka.
John Salter,
B. Delouisa,
William Ingraham,
Edward Thompson,
Adam Siddle,
Philip Brown,
John Dorthy,
Abraham Waters,
Francis Duffield,
John Wilson (blackman)
William Caldwell,
Joseph Miner,
William Robinson,
Thomas Wilson,
Andrew Kelly,
Robert Burton,
James M'Clay,
Thomas Platten,
Thomas Newton,
Charles Bates,
John Hall,
Samuel Wood,
Peter Alstrom,
Francis Marten,
Jupiter Senegal (blackman)
John Thompson,
of Boston,
of New York,
of Blyth (England),
of Hull,     ditto,
of Cambridge (Mass.),
of Situate,        ditto,
of Philadelphia,
of Pent on (England),
of Virginia,
of Boston,
of Newport,
of Leigh * (Scotland),
of Air,2       ditto,
Ditto, ditto,
of the Isle of Man,
of Dublin,
of Blackney, Norfolk, Eng.
of Hull,
of St. James Deeping,  ,,
of Newcastle, ,,
of Glasgow (Scotland),
John R. Jewitt,
Chief Mate.
Second Mate.
Sail Maker,
—since dead.
who escaped-
of Hull (England),
the writer of the Journal from whence this Narrative is taken, and who at
present, March 1815, resides in Middletown, in the State of Connecticut.
1 Leith. 2 Ayr.
247 248
II. War-Song of The Nootka Tribe
Commencing with a Chorus repeated at the end of each line.
Hah-yee hah yar har, he yar hah.
Hah-yah hee yar har—he yar hah.
lye ie ee yah har—ee yie hah.
Ie yar ee yar hah—ee yar yah.
Ie yar ee I yar yar hah—Ie yar ee yee yah !
Ie-yee ma hi-chill at-sish Kla-ha—Hah-ye-hah.
Que nok ar parts arsh waw—Ie yie-yar.
Waw-hoo naks sar hasch—Yar-hah.    I-yar hee I-yar.
Waw hoo naks ar hasch yak-queets sish ni-ese,
Waw har.    Hie yee ah-hah.
Repeated over and over, with gestures and brandishing of weapons.
Ie-yee ma hi-chill signifies, " Ye do not know." It appears to be a poetical mode of expression, the common one for " You do not know " being
Wik-kum-atash; from this, it would seem that they have two languages,
one for their songs and another for common use. The general meaning of
this first stanza appears to be, " Ye little know, ye men of Klahar, what
valiant warriors we are. Poorly can our foes contend with us, when we
come on with our daggers," etc.
The Nootkians have no songs of an historical nature, nor do they appear
to have any tradition respecting their origin.1
1 That is not quite true. They have several of a vague order : one, for example, is that
all the Indians are sprung from Quawteaht and the Thunder Birds. Another is that all
the tribes on the West Coast come from the west; the different tribes having sprung
from the canoes full of migrants stranded by a storm here and there, and so forth. Appendix
III. A List of Words
In the Nootkian Language, the most in use.
Kloots-mah,   .
.    Sister.
.    Son.
.    Daughter.
.    Head.
Neetsa, .
,    Hair.
Parpee, .
Choop,  .
.    Hands.
.    Sun or Moon.
Fresh water.
Queece, .
.    Snow.
ncr nf rhp wnrrls in this
iilnrv ;
\ Y€>   en \
.    Mountain or hill
pn  wit-Vi t»asnnaHp cn\
the transliteration is somewhat primitive. A fuller and more accurate one may be found
in the Appendix to Sproat's Scenes and Studies of Savage Life (1868), pp. 295-309, so
that it is not necessary to annotate the present one. Those in Cook's Voyage and
in Dawson and Tolmie's Comparative Vocabularies of the Indian Tribes of British
Columbia (1884), are short and imperfect.   I have a much fuller one in manuscript. Appendix
Kla-tur-miss, .
Een-nuk-see, .
Muk-ka-tee,   .
Wik,     .
He-ho, .
Kak-koelth,   .
Moo-watch,   .
So-har, -.
Toosch-qua,   .
Kloos-a-mit,  .
Chee-me-na,  .
Cham-mass,   .
Chat-ta-yek,   .
Klick-er-yek, .
Mar-met-ta,   .
Cha-alt-see klat-tur wah
Iy ah-ish,
Fire or fuel
Sweet or pleasant to the taste.
Knife or dagger.
Goose or duck.
To blow.
To kindle a fire.
To bathe.
To go to fish.
Go off, or go away.
To sell.
Give me something.
How many.
I understand. Appendix
1-yee ma hak,        .               .       .    I do not understand.
To play.
To laugh.
Do you want to buy.
Kah-ah-coh,   .
Bring it.
Att-la,   .
Kat-sa, .
Mooh,   .        .        .
Saw-wauk-quelth, .
Hy-o,    .
One hundred.
One thousand.   Index
Klaizzarts, The .
Kla-oo-quates, The .
Kletsup Root, Description of
Ife-waw, Method of securing
Birth of
Domestic management .
Early life of
Illness of
Marriage of
Parentage of
Proposal to release
Proposal to murder
Reception of, by savages
Received by Captain Hill
Sufferings from cold
Suspicions of, by Maquina
Termination of captivity
Journal, Jewitt's, Commencement of
King, Privileges of the
Language, Commencement to learn
Lydia, The, Arrival of
Departure of   .
Letter to captain of
Manchester, The
Maquina—   .
Capture and Imprisonment of
Council concerning
Release of
Visit of, to the Lydia   .
Mooachats, The
Moon, Eclipse of the, in 1805
59, 188
21  256
Toowinnakinnish     .
Trade, Articles of    .
Tribes, Arrival of neighbouring
Twins, Custom at birth of   .
Ulatilla   .
Upquesta, Town of .
 Reception at
War, Preparations for, with the A-y-charts
Whale, Method of capture of
Whale-oil, Method of procuring
Whaling, Observances preparatory to
Wickinninish Native, Insult of
Wife, Departure of Jewitt's .
Wooden-lips, The    ....
Yama fruit, Species of .
Yealthlower, Cruelty of
235, 240
•    137
.     218
.  198
.  168
122, 178
■  i79
.  191
.  213
.  161
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29 Paternoster Row, London, E.C. CLEMENT  WILSON'S   PUBLICATIONS.
BEING an Account of the Gold and Silver Moneys
and Monetary Standards of Europe and America,
together with an Examination of the effects of
Currency and Exchange Phenomena on Commercial and National Progress and Well-being.
By   WILLIAM   A.   SHAW,   M.A.
Second Edition.   Price 15s.
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Select Tracts and Documents
illustrative of
onetary  History,
Comprising Works of
Sir Robert Cotton ; Henry Robinson ; Sir Richard
Temple and J. S. j Sir Isaac Newton \ John
Conduitt ; together with Extracts from the Domestic
State Papers at H.M. Record Office.   Price 6s.
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A Glossary of Colloquial, Slang,
and Technical Terms
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Labour, Socialism, and Strikes.
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Scenes and  Stories from the American
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29 Paternoster Row, London, E.C. •B-mK
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29 Paternoster Row, London, E.C. CLEMENT WILSON'S PUBLICATIONS.
Edited by JAS. A. MANSON.
With Notes, Index, Glossary, and Biographical
Price 5s.    Two Volumes, small 8uo, cloth, gilt top.
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29 Paternoster Row, London, E.C. CLEMENT   WILSON'S   PUBLICATIONS.
Only Survivor of the Crew of the Ship
During a Captivity of nearly Three Years among the
In Vancouver Island.
Edited, with an Introduction and Notes,
Dr. ROBERT   BROWN,  M.A.,  F.L.S.,
Commander of the first Vancouver Exploring Expedition, etc.
No. I.
Rector of Eastnor;
author of "toddle island," etc.
Paper covers, Is.; cloth, gilt top, 2s.
Other Sundials will follow by various Authors.
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