« FöregåendeFortsätt »
and called it King George the Third's Island. Just as he was embarking, an old man, to whom the lieutenant had given a few trifles, brought some green boughs, which he threw down at the foot of the staff, then retiring, brought about a dozen of his countrymen, who approached the staff in a supplicating posture, then retired and brought two live hogs, which they laid down at the foot of the staff, and then began to dance. After this ceremony the hogs were put into a canoe, and the old man carried them on board, handing up several green plantain leaves, and uttering a sentence on the delivery of each. Some presents were offered him in return, but he would accept of none.
Concluding that peace was now established, and that no further attack would be made, the boats were sent on shore the following day to get water. While the casks were filling, several natives were perceived coming from behind the hills and through the woods, and at the same time a multitude of canoes from behind a projecting point of the bay. As these were discovered to be laden with stones, and were making towards the ship, it was concluded their intention was to try their fortune in a second grand attack. 6 As to shorten the contest would certainly lessen the mischief, I determined,” says Captain Wallis, “ to make this action decisive, and put an end to hostilities at once.” Accordingly a tremendous fire was opened at once on all the groups of canoes, which had the effect of imme. diately dispersing them. The fire was then directed into the wood, to drive out the islanders, who had assembled in large numbers, on which they all fled to the hill, where the women and children had seated themselves. Here they collected to the amount of several thousands, imagining themselves at that distance to be perfectly safe. The captain, however, ordered four shot to be fired over them; but two of the balls having fallen close to a tree where a number of them were sitting, they were so struck with terror and consternation, that in less than two minutes not a creature was to be seen. The coast being cleared, the boats were manned and armed, and all the carpenters with their axes were sent on shore, with directions to destroy every canoe they could find; and we are told this service was effectually performed, and that more than fifty canoes, many of which were sixty feet long and three broad, and lashed together, were cut to pieces.
This act of severity must have been cruelly felt by these poor people, who, without iron or any kind of tools, but such as stones, shells, teeth, and bones supplied them with, must have spent months and probably years in the construction of one of these extraordinary double boats.
Such was the inauspicious commencement of our acquaintance with the natives of Otaheite. Their determined hostility and perseverance in an unequal combat could only have arisen from one of two motives—either from an opinion that a ship of such magnitude as they had never before beheld could only be come to their coast to take their country from them; or an irresistible temptation to endeavour, at all hazards, to possess themselves of so valuable a prize. Be that as it may, the dread inspired by the effects of the cannon, and perhaps a conviction of the truth of what had been explained to them, that the “ strangers wanted only provisions and water,” had the effect of allaying all jealousy; for from the day of the last action, the most friendly and uninterrupted intercourse was established, and continued to the day of the Dolphin's departure; and provisions of all kinds, hogs, dogs, fruit, and vegetables, were supplied in the greatest abundance, in exchange for pieces of iron, nails, and trinkets.
As a proof of the readiness of these simple people to forgive injuries, a poor woman, accompanied by a young man bearing a branch of the plan.
tain-tree, and another man with two hogs, ap. proached the gunner, whom Captain Wallis had appointed to regulate the market, and looking round on the strangers with great attention, fixing her eyes sometimes on one and sometimes on another, at length burst into tears. It appeared that her husband and three of her sons had been killed in the attack on the ship. While this was under explana. tion, the poor creature was so affected as to require the support of the two young men, who from their weeping were probably two more of her sons. When somewhat composed, she ordered the two hogs to be delivered to the gunner, and gave him her hand in token of friendship, but would accept nothing in return.
Captain Wallis was now so well satisfied that there was nothing further to apprehend from the hostility of the natives, that he sent a party up the country to cut wood, who were treated with great kindness and hospitality by all they met, and the ship was visited by persons of both sexes, who by their dress and behaviour appeared to be of a superior rank. Among others was a tall lady about fiveand-forty years of age, of a pleasing countenance and majestic deportment. She was under no restraint, either from diffidence or fear, and conducted herself with that easy freedom which generally distinguishes conscious superiority and habitual command. She accepted some small present which the captain gave her, with a good grace and much pleasure; and having observed that he was weak and suffering from ill health, she pointed to the shore, which he understood to be an invitation, and made signs that he would go thither the next morning. His visit to this lady displays so much character and good feeling, that it will best be described in the captain's own words.
The next morning I went on shore for the first time, and my princess, or rather queen, for such by
her authority she appeared to be, soon after came to me, followed by many of her attendants. As she perceived that my disorder had left me very weak, she ordered her people to take me in their arms, and carry me, not only over the river, but all the way to her house; and observing that some of the people who were with me, particularly the first lieutenant and purser, had also been sick, she caused them also to be carried in the same manner, and a guard, which I had ordered out upon the occasion, followed. In our way, a vast multitude crowded about us, but upon her waving her hand, without speaking a word, they withdrew, and left us a free passage. When we approached near her house, a great number of both sexes came out to meet her; these she presented to me, after having intimated by signs that they were her relations, and taking hold of my hand she made them kiss it.
“We then entered the house, which covered a piece of ground three hundred and twenty-seven feet long, and forty-two feet broad. It consisted of a roof thatched with palm leaves, and raised upon thirty-nine pillars on each side, and fourteen in the middle. The ridge of the thatch, on the inside, was thirty feet high, and the sides of the house, to the edge of the roof, were twelve feet high; all below the roof being open. As soon as we entered the house she made us sit down, and then calling four young girls, she assisted them to take off my shoes, draw down my stockings, and pull off my coat, and then directed them to smooth down the skin, and gently chafe it with their hands. The same operation was also performed on the first lieutenant and the purser, but upon none of those who appeared to be in health. While this was doing, our surgeon, who had walked till he was very warm, took off his wig to cool and refresh himself : ą sudden exclamation of one of the Indians, who saw it, drew the attention of the rest, and in a moment every eye
was fixed upon the prodigy, and every operation was suspended. The whole assembly stood some time motionless, in silent astonishment, which could not have been more strongly expressed if they had discovered that our friend's limbs had been screwed on to the trunk. In a short time, however, the young women who were chafing us resumed their employment, and having continued for about half an hour, they dressed us again, but in this they were, as may easily be imagined, very awkward; I found great benefit, however, from the chafing, and so did the lieutenant and the purser.
“ After a little time our generous benefactress ordered some bales of Indian cloth to be brought out, with which she clothed me and all that were with me, according to the fashion of the country. At first I declined the acceptance of this favour; but being unwilling not to seem pleased with what was intended to please me, I acquiesced. When we went away, she ordered a very large sow big with young to be taken down to the boat, and accompanied us thither herself. She had given directions to her people to carry me, as they had done when I came, but as I chose rather to walk, she took me by the arm, and whenever we came to a plash of water or dirt, she lifted me over with as little trouble as it would have cost me to have lifted over a child if I had been well.”
The following morning Captain Wallis sent her a present by the gunner, who found her in the midst of an entertainment given to at least a thousand people. The messes were put into shells of cocoanuts, and the shells into wooden trays, like those used by our butchers, and she distributed them with her own hands to the guests, who were seated in rows in the open air round the great house. When this was done she sat down herself upon a place somewhat elevated above the rest, and two women, placing themselves one on each side of her, fed her,