Sidor som bilder

their faces. One man watching his opportunity when the Chief was punching away at somebody who had just come up, slipped past and ran off; but the quick eye of the old man was not so easily deceived; and he set off in chase of him round the quarter deck. The man had an apron full of biscuit, which had been given to him by the midshipmen; this impeded his running, so that the Chief, notwithstanding, his robes, at last came up with him; but while he was stirring him up with his rod, the fellow slipped his cargo of bread into a coil of rope, and then went along with the Chief quietly enough. The old man came back afterwards, and found the biscuit, which he pointed out to is, to shew that it had not been taken away.' pp. 25, 26.

A person of rank who accompanied the Chief, was erroneously supposed, from bis sickly look,' to be labouring under indisposition, and considerable amusement was afforded by the unconsicous gravity with which he submitted to the examination of his tongue and pulse, under the evident impression that it was a necessary part of the ceremonies of reception. This individual, who, some how or other, got the title of the Courtier, appeared to be a literary character, and examined the books with much attention. After leaving this bay, the scene which presented itself to the voyagers, is well described by Captain Hall.

• We threaded our way for upwards of a hundred miles amongst islands which lie in immense clusters in every direction. At first we thought of couating them, and even attempted to note their places on the charts which we were making of this coast, but their great number completely baffled these endeavours. They vary in size, from a few hundred yards in length to five or six miles, and are of all shapes. From the mast-head other groups were perceived lying one behind the other to the east and south as far as the eye could reach. Frequently above a hundred islands were in sight from deck at one moment. The sea being quite smooth, the wea. ther fine, and many of the islands wooded and cultivated in the valleys, the scene was at all times lively, and was rendered still more inj teresting by our rapid passage along the coast, by which the appearances about us were perpetually changing. Of this coast we had no charts possessing the slightest pretensions to accuracy, none of the places at which we touched being laid down within sixty miles of their proper places. Only a few islands are noticed in any map; whereas the coast, for near two hundred miles, is completely studded with them, to the distance of fifteen or twenty leagues from the main land. These inaccuracies in the charts naturally gave a very high degree of interest to this part of the voyage; yet the navigation being at all times uncertain, and often dangerous, considerable anxiety necessarily mingled itself with the satisfaction produced by so new and splendid a scene. We always anchored during the night, or when the tides, which were very rapid, prevented our proceeding in the deliberate manner abso

lutely required by the nature of the circumstances. An instance of the necessity of these precautions occurred on the 7th of September, at four o'clock in the afternoon, when, it being quite calm, we were drifting along with the tide, which suddenly shifted and carried us rapidly towards a reef of rocks, which was invisible till the strong rippling of the water shewed us our danger: we let go the anchor immediately, but the jerk was so great, as to break the Lyra's cable. A second anchor, however, brought her up at sufficient distance from the recf.' pp. 42–43.

On some of these islands they landed, and found on all occasions the same uneasiness at their stay, and the same evident gratification at their departure. They had an excellent opportunity, in one ivstance, of examining the interior of native habitation, which, though it was dark, dirty, and uncomfortable, seemed to be well constructed, and furnished with many articles of convenience. The people bere walked with them, laughed with them, smoaked with them, and drank with them, but testified the same unvarying anxiety to get rid of thein. On the 13th Sept. the vessels were off Sulphur Island in the sea of Japan, but from the high wind and dangerous surf they were unable to land. In the course of the following day, after a difficult and bazardous navigation among coral reefs, they anchored off the great Loo-choo island.

We fell in with several people in canoes : one man, who seemed to know what we were searching for, directed us to a point of land to the northward, and waved for us to go round it. While the boats were away, several natives came off to the Lyra. No people that we have yet met with have been so friendly; for the moment they came alongside, one handed a jar of water up to us, and another a basket of boiled sweet potatoes, without asking or seeming to wish for any recompense.

Their manners were gentle and respectful; they uncovered their heads when in our presence, bowed whenever they spoke to us; and when we gave them some rum, they did not drink it till they had bowed to every person round. Another canoe went near the Alceste, and a rope being thrown to them, they tied a fish to it, and then paddled away. All this seemed to promise well, and was particularly grateful after the cold repulsive manners of the Coreans. pp. 61 62.

The chiefs who visited them, conducted themselves with admirable propriety. The dress of these personages is described as singularly graceful, consisting of flowing silken drapery, and à cylindrical cap, convenient and not inelegant in its form. On political subjects, the higher classes maintained an extreme reserve, referring on many occasions to the Great Man,' but evading all explanation respecting his peculiar character and prerogatives. The required permission to land and to enjoy unrestrained intercourse with he shore, was put aside by repre

the pumps.

senting the necessity of reference to this mysterious individual, and the whole of the stores which were sent with the utmost liberality to the ships, were tendered in his name. At one period, it was strongly suspected that he had been on board the Alceste in disguise, a supposition which, although afterwards rejected, would seem, from the character of the natives, not to have been without probability. On the 22nd, the frigate was visited by a chief of bigher rank than any of their previous acquaintance, an elderly man of venerabile aspect and prepossessing mappers.

• From the first moment he seemed quite at his ease. Every thing about him, in short, indicated good-breeding, and a familiarity with good society; and we could not help remarking his decided superiority in appearance over the other chiefs

• When the pumps were ready, he was escorted to the main deck, where he sat for some time in great admiration of the ma. chinery; and seeing the labour required to work it, be seemed really affected at our situation, which he naturally thought must be very bad, froin the immense quantiiy of water thrown out by

The ship being upright, the water did not run off freely from the deck, and in a short time it flowed round the chair in which tlie old man was seated. Three or four of the sailors seeing him somewhat uneasy at this inundation, took him up chair and all, and placed him on a dry spot. The old gentleman was surprised, not displeased, and very graciously replied to the low bows which the sailors made him.' pp. 87–88.

• He went all over the ship, accompanied by the other chiefs, and his own personal suite, consisting of a pipe bearer, a man who carried bis large camp chair, anuther with a cover of red cloth for the chair, and a man who carried a round Japan box for the hatchee matchee. Two others took it in turn to fan him, and to hold his arm by the elbow and wrist whenever he walked about; probably as a piece of state, for the ship had very little motion : these fanners were very expert at their business, for not content with cooling his face and neck, they lifted up his large sleeves and fanned his arms.' pp. 90.

Our countrymen, finding that it was impossible to obtain a direct permission to land, ventured to give themselves an invitation to visit their new guest, and announced to him their intention, through the awkward medium of a Chinese interpreter, whose knowledge of English seems to have been very imperfect. The party landed in the midst of a large yet orderly assembage of ihe natives, the trees, walls, and bouse-tops, being

literally covered with people. They were conducted, through a lane of spectators, to a temple where a feast bad been prepared, which deserves honourable mention in the Almanach des Gourmands: eggs boiled bard, fish fried in batter, smoked pork, pig's liver, cakes of different kinds, and a strange' dish, very

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

little to the taste of those to whom it was a novelty, consisting of a mess of of coarse, soft, black sugar, wrapped up in unbaked • dough, powdered over with rice flower, dyed yellow.'

A light kind of wine, called Sackee, drank hot, was passed gaily round, till they became exceedingly good company, and the old chief's

eyes at length began to glisten, and observing that we felt it hot, he requested us to uncover, shewing the example himself. He seized the doctor's cocked hat and put it on, while the doctor did the same with his hatchee-matchee. The oddity of the Chief's appearance produced by this change overcame the gravity of the attendants, and the mirth became general; nor was the joke relished by any body more than the Chief's two sons, who stood by his chair during all the entertainment; they were pretty little boys, with gaudy dresses, and their hair dressed in high shewy top-knots. p. 97.

During the feast, several Bodezes, or priests, made their appearance, a class of men whose precise habits and character among the Loo-chooers it does not seem easy to determine.

Their dress differs only in some trifling respects from that of the secular tribes; their look is ' tiinorous, patient and subdued,

with a languid smile, and ghastly expression of countenance.' They seem to be held in no respect, and the attentions which the English officers were disposed to pay them, were looked upon as ridiculous by the chiefs.

Notwithstanding the hospitality with which the navigators were treated, they were not yet permitted to hold communication with the shore. Even when they requested permission to send the boats for fresh water, a very short time after the intimation had been given, the ships were surrounded by canoes with large tubs of that indispensable article. By way of employinent, during this state of unpleasant suspense, it was determined to measure a base on a low island in the harbour, surrounded by a coral reef, and as this led to a minute inspection of the latter, Captain flall has given a very excellent description of its structure, and of the animals which inhabit its cavities.

· The examination of a coral reef during the different stages of one tide, is particularly interesting. When the tide has left ič for some time it becomes dry, and appears to be a compact rock, exceedingly hard and ragged; but as the tide rises, and the waves begin to wash over it, the coral worms protrude themselves from holes which were before invisible. These animals are of a great variety of shapes and sizes, and in such prodigious numbers, that, in a short time, the whole surface of the rock appears to be alive and in motion. The most common worm is in the forın of a star, with arms from four to six inches long, which are moved about with a rapid motion in all directions, probably to catch food. Others are so sluggish, that they may be mistaken for pieces of the rock, and are generally of a dark colour, and from four to live inches long, and two or three round. When the coral is broken about high water mark, it is a solid hard stone, but if any part of it be detached at a spot which the tide reaches every day, it is found to be full of worms of different lengths and colours, some being as fine as a thread and several feet long, of a bright yellow, and sometimes of a blue colour : others resemble snails, and some are not unlike lobsters in shape, but soft, and not above two inches long.

•The growth of coral appears to cease when the worm is no longer exposed to the washing of the sea. Thus, a reef rises in the form of a cauliflower, till its top has gained the level of the highest tides, above which the worm has no power to advance, and the reef of course no longer extends itself upwards. The other parts, in succession, reach the surface, and there stop, forming in time a level field with steep sides all round. The reef, however, continually increases, and being prevented from going higher, extends itself laterally in all directions. But this growth being as rapid at the upper edge as it is lower down, the steepness of the face of the reef is still preserved. These are the circumstances which render coral reefs 50 dangerous in navigation ; for, in the first place they are seldom seen above the water; and, in the next, their sides are so steep, that a ship's bows may strike against the rock before any change of soundings has given warning of the danger.'

At length, the desired perinission was obtained, and from this time, with certain easy restrictions, our countrymen were left at liberty to recreate themselves on shore. The face of the country was interesting and cultivated, and the cottages which they had the opportunity of inspecting, shewed much regard to cleanliness and personal comfort. In their attention to the sick, who were now landed, the natives manifested the greatest kindness; they supported them from the beach to their quarters, furnished them with all the delicacies which they had it in their power to supply, and attended them in their convalescent walks, with the most benevolent assiduity. All these details being now satisfactorily arranged, the Lyra was despatched to make the survey of the island, and the result of this investigation, which occupied about a week, under favourable circumstances of weather, was a sufficiently complete determination of the form, extent, and bearings of the great island. The most important of the discoveries made by Captain Hall, during this short but interesting cruise, was that of a inost singular and coininodious harbour, consisting of narrow but deep and sheltered passages opening at intervals into basins, and terminating in an extensive lake several miles in length, studded with numerous small islands.' Lofty and richly wooded cliffs, interspersed with tracts of low and varied shores, romantic villages, and distant mountains, are among the attractions of this delightful place.

• The depth of water in the lake varied from four to six fathoms ; but in the narrow neck which connects it with the sea, the depth is from ten to twenty fathoms, being deepest at the narrowest parts. Ships might ride in any part of this extraordinary harbour, in perfect safety, during the most violent tempests, and the shores are so varied, that

« FöregåendeFortsätt »