Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

population of the West India islands The bread fruit plant was no new discovery of either Wallis or Cook. So early as the year 1688, that excellent old navigator Dampier thus describes it :-" The bread. fruit, as we call it, grows on a large tree, as big and high as our largest apple-trees; it hath a spreading head, full of branches and dark leaves. The fruit grows on the boughs like apples ; it is as big as a penny loaf, when wheat is at five shillings the bushel ; it is of a round shape, and hath a thick tough rind; when the fruit is ripe it is yellow and soft, and the taste is sweet and pleasant. The natives of Guam use it for bread. They gather it, when full grown, while it is green and hard ; then they bake it in an oven, which scorcheth the rind and makes it black, but they scrape off the outside black crust, and there remains a tender thin crust; and the inside is soft, tender, and white, like the crumb of a penny-loaf. There is neither seed nor stone in the inside, but all is of a pure substance like bread. It nust be eaten new; for if it is kept above twentyfour hours, it grows harsh and choaky; but it is very pleasant before it is too stale. This fruit lasts in season eight months in the year, during which the natives eat no other sort of food of bread kind. I did never see of this fruit anywhere but here. The natives told us that there is plenty of this fruit growing on the rest of the Ladrone Islands; and I did never hear of it anywhere else.”

Lord Anson corroborates this account of the bread-fruit, and says that while at Tinian it was constantly eaten by his officers and ship's company during their two months' stay, instead of bread; and 80 universally preferred, that no ship's bread was expended in that whole interval. The only essential difference between Dampier's and Cook's description is, where the latter says, which is true, that this fruit has a core, and that the eatable part lies between the skin and the core. Cook says also that

its taste is insipid, with a slight sweetness, some what resembling that of the crumb of wheaten bread mixed with a Jerusalem artichoke. From such a description, it is not surprising that the West India planters should have felt desirous of introducing it into those islands; and accordingly the introduction of it was subsequently accomplished, notwithstanding the failure of the present voyage; it has not, however, been found to answer the expectation that had reasonably been entertained. The climate, as to latitude, ought to be the same, or nearly so, as that of Otaheite, but there would appear to be some difference in the situation or nature of the soil, that prevents it from thriving in the West India islands. At Otaheite, and on several of the Pacific islands,

“ The bread-tree, which, without the ploughshare, yields

The unrrap'd harvest of unfurrow'd fields,
And bakes its unadulterated loaves
Without a furnace in unpurchased groves,
And flings off famine from its fertile breast,
A priceless market for the gathering guest"

is, to the natives of those islands a most invaluable gift, but it has not been found to yield similar benefits to the West India islands.

On the 23d December, 1787, the Bounty sailed from Spithead, and on the 26th it blew a severe storm of wind from the eastward, which continued to the 29th, in the course of which the ship suffered greatly. One sea broke away the spare yards and spars out of the starboard main-chains. Another heavy sea broke into the ship and stove all the boats. Several casks of beer that had been lashed upon deck were broke loose and washed overboard; and it was not without great difficulty and risk that they were able to secure the boats from being washed away entirely. Besides other mischief done to them in this storm, a large quantity of bread was dam aged and rendered useless, for the sea had stove in the stern and filled the cabin with water.

This made it desirable to touch at Teneriffe to put the ship to rights, where they arrived on the 5th January, 1788, and having refitted and refreshed, they sailed again on the 10th.

“I now,” says Bligh,“ divided the people into three watches, and gave the charge of the third watch to Mr. Fletcher Christian, one of the mates. I have always considered this a desirable regulation when circumstances will admit of it, and I am persuaded that unbroken rest not only contributes much towards the health of the ship's company, but enables then more readily to exert themselves in cases of sudden emergency.”.

Wishing to proceed to Otaheite without stopping, and the late storm having diminished their supply of provisions, it was deemed expedient to put all hands on an allowance of two-thirds of bread. It was also decided that water for drinking should be passed through filtering-stones that had been procured at Teneriffe. “I now,” says Bligh, “ made the ship’s company acquainted with the object of the voyage, and gave assurances of the certainty of promotion to every one whose endeavours should merit it.” Nothing, indeed, seemed to be neglected on the part of the commander to make his officers and men comfortable and happy. He was himself a thorough. bred sailor, and availed himself of every possible means of preserving the health of his crew. Continued rain and a close atmosphere had covered every thing in the ship with mildew. She was therefore aired below with fires, and frequently sprinkled with vinegar, and every interval of dry weather was taken advantage of to open all the hatchways, and clean the ship, and to have all the people's wet things washed and dried. With these precautions to secure health, they passed the hazy and sultry atmosphere of the low latitudes without a single com plaint. On Sunday, the 2d March, Lieutenant Bligh oba serves, " after seeing that every person was cioar, divine service was performed, according to my usual custom. On this day I gave to Mr. Fletcher Chris. tian, whom I had before desired to take charge of the third watch, a written order to act as lieutenant."

Having reached as far as the latitude of 36° south, on the 9th March,“ the change of temperature,” he observes, “ began now to be sensibly felt, there being a variation in the thermometer, since yesterday, of eight degrees. That the people might not suffer by their own negligence, I gave orders for their light tropical clothing to be put by, and made them dress in a manner more suited to a cold climate. I had provided for this before I left England, by giving directions for such clothes to be purchased as would be found necessary. On this day, ou a complaint of the master, I found it necessary to punish Matthew Quintal, one of the seamen, with two dozen lashes, for insolence and mutinous behaviour. Before this I had not had occasion to punish any person on board."

The sight of New-year's Harbour, in Staaten Land, almost tempted him, he says, to put in; but the lateness of the season, and the people being in good health, determined him to lay aside all thoughts of refreshment until they should reach Otaheite. Indeed, the extraordinary care he had taken to preserve the health of the ship's company rendered any delay in this cold and inhospitable region unnecessary.

They soon after this had to encounter tremendous weather off Cape Horn, storms of wind, with hail and sleet, which made it necessary to keep a constant fire night and day; and one of the watch always attended to dry the people's wet clothes. This stormy weather continued for nine days; the ship began to complain, and required pumping every hour; the decks became so leaky that the com. mander was obliged to allot the great cabin to those

who nad wet berths, to hang their hammocks in. Finding they were losing ground every day, and that it was hopeless to persist in attempting a passage by this route, at this season of the year, to the Society Islands, and after struggling for thirty days in this tempestuous ocean, it was determined to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope. The helm was accord. ingly put a-weather, to the great joy of every person on board.

They arrived at the Cape on the 23d May, and having remained there thirty-eight days to refit the ship, replenish provisions, and refresh the crew, they sailed again on the 1st July, and anchored in Adventure Bay, in Van Dieman's Land, on the 20th August. Here they remained taking in wood and water till the 4th September, and on the evening of the 25th October they saw Otaheite, and the next day came to anchor in Matavai Bay, after a distance which the ship had run over, by the log, since leaving England, of twenty-seven thousand and eighty-six miles, being on an average one hundred and eight miles each twenty-four hours. Of their proceedings in Otaheite a short abstract from Bligh's Journal will suffice,

Many inquiries were made by the natives after Captain Cook, Sir Joseph Banks, and others of their former friends. “ One of my first questions," says Bligh, was after our friend Omai; and it was a sensible mortification and disappointment for me to hear, that not only Omai, but both the New Zealand boys who had been left with him, were dead. There appeared among the natives in general great goodwill towards us, and they seemed to be much rejoiced at our arrival. The whole day we experienced no instance of dishonesty; and we were so much crowded, that I could not undertake to remove to a more proper station without danger of disobliging onr visiters, by desiring them to leave the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »