« ForrigeFortsæt »
sions of which, according to his own directions, were eight feet in length, five in breadth, and about three in depth, Locks and bolts were not a sufficient security ; but it must be large enough for two people to sleep upon, by way of guarding it in the night.
It will appear a little extraordinary that we, who had a smattering of their language, and Omai, besides, for an interpreter, could never get any clear account of the time when the Spaniards arrived, how long they stayed, and when they departed. The more we enquired into this matter, the more we were convinced of the inability of most of these people to remember, or note the time, when past events happened; especially if it exceeded ten or twenty months. It however appeared, by the date of the inscription upon the cross, and by the information we received from the most intelligent of the natives, that two ships arrived at Oheitepeha in 1774, soon after I left Matavai, which was in May, the same year. They brought with them the house and live-stock before mentioned. Some said that, after landing these things, and some men, they sailed in quest of me, and returned in about ten days. But I have some doubt of the truth of this, as they were never seen either at Huaheine, or at Ulietea. The live-stock they left here consisted of one bull, some goats, hogs, and dogs, and the male of some other animal, which we afterward found to be a ram, and, at this time, was at Bolabola, whither the bull was also to have been transported.
The hogs are of a large kind; have already greatly improved the breed origioally found by us upon the island ; and, at the time of our late arrival, were very numerous. Goats are also in tolerable plenty, there being hardly a chief of any note who has not got some. As to the dogs that the Spaniards put ashore, which are of two or three sorts, I think they would have done the island a great deal more service if they had hanged thein all, instead of leaving them upon it. It was to one of them that my young ram fell a victim.
When these ships left the island, four Spaniards remained behind. Two were priests, one a servant, and the fourth made himself very popular among the natives, who distinguish bim by the name of Mateema. He seems to have been a person who had studied their language; or, at least, to have spoken it so as to be understood ; and to
have taken uncommon pains to impress the minds of the islanders with the most exalted ideas of the greatness of the Spanish nation, and to make them think meanly of the English. He even went so far as to assure them, that we no longer existed as an independent nation ; that Pretune was only a small island, which they, the Spaniards, had en tirely destroyed; and, for me, that they had met with me at sea, and, with a few shot, had sent my ship, and every soul in her, to the bottom; so that my visiting Otaheite, at this time, was, of course, very unexpected. All this, and many other improbable falsehoods, did this Spaniard make these people believe. If Spain had no other views, in this expedition, but to depreciate the English, they had better have kept their ships at home; for my returning again to Otabeite was considered as a complete confutation of all that Mateema had said.
With what design the priests stayed, we can only guess. If it was to convert the natives to the catholic faith, they have not succeeded in any one instance. But it does not appear that they ever attempted it; for, if the natives are to be believed, they never conversed with them, either on this, or on any other subject. The priests resided constantly in the house at Oheitepehra ; but Mateema roved about, visiting most parts of the island. At length, after he and his companions had stayed ten months, two ships came to Oheitepeha, took them on board, and sailed again in five days. This hasty departure shews that, whatever design the Spaniards might have had upon this island, they had now laid it aside. And yet, as I was informed by Otoo, and many others, before they went away, they would have the natives believe that they still meant to return, and to bring with them houses, all kinds of animals, and men and women who were to settle, live, and die on the island. Otoo, when he told me this, added, that if the Spaniards should return, he would not let them come to Matavai Fort, which, he said, was ours. It was easy to see that the idea pleased him; little thinking that the completion of it would, at once, deprive him of his kingdom, and the people of their liberties. This shews with what facility a settlement might be made at Otaheite, which, grateful as I am for repeated good offices, I hope will never happen, Our occasional visits may, in some respects, have benefitted its inhabitants; but a permanent establishment amongst
them, conducted as most European establishments amongst Indian nations have unfortunately been, would, I fear, give them just cause to lament that our ships had ever found them out. Indeed, it is very unlikely that any measure of this kind should ever be seriously thought of, as it can neither serve the purposes of public ambition, nor of private avarice; and, without such inducements, I may pronounce that it will never be undertaken.
I have already mentioned the visit that I had from one of the two natives of this island, who had been carried by the Spaniards to Lima. I never saw him afterward, which I rather wondered at, as I had received him with uncom mon civility. I believe, however, that Omai had kept him at a distance from me, by some rough usage ; jealous that
? We may have occasion hereafter to make mention of several subsequent visits to this island, on the part of our countrymen. It is evident, that Captain Cook was far from being well pleased with the consequences which had already resulted to its inhabitants from their intercourse with Europeans. Unfortunately, it is impracticable to give a more agreeable picture of the condition of the island as influenced by future visits. Cook's solicitude, in behalf of these people, is extremely commendable, and it is to this we must ascribe his opinion of the impolicy of attempting settlements amongst them. Is it wonderful, that to a man of his humanity and discernment, any other effect should seem likely to proceed from the undertaking, than what would augment his concern that ever Otaheite felt the necessity of being obliged to his countrymen? One motive alone, perhaps, not contemplated by him in reasoning on the purposes which might induce to such an attempt, gave some promise of compensating for former evils, without being likely to entail others, which would still leave the balance of good and bad consequences a subject of regret. We allude to the intentions of the missionaries, who projected a settlement on the island in 1796, &c. But the friends of humanity have not hitherto had cause to rejoice at the amount of the new benefits conferred. The advocates for such labours, indeed, require to arm themselves with patience, unless they can satisfy themselves with the conviction of having willed a good work. Besides, even they ought to anticipate the certainty, that, were their intentions realized, intruders of very different principles, and with very different motives, would speedily mar the fruits of their benevolence. Such reflections, it may be said, are discouraging. What opi. nion, then, ought we to entertain of the wisdom of labours, which had been undertaken without a full view of obvious causes threatening their ultinate failure? It would little alleviate the mortification of disappointment, to exclaim, as is often done on such occasions, “ Who could have thought it?” But the most enlightened judges of such undertakings, will not only advert to the probable occurrence of such mischief, but also be well aware of the existence of other untoward circumstances, extremely well calculated to render any fears of subsequent deterioration altogether superfiuous !--E,
there should be another traveller upon the island who might vie with himself. Our touching at Teneriffe was a fortunate circumstance for Omai ; as he prided himself in having visited a place belonging to Spain as well as this man. I did not meet with the other who had returned from Lima ; but Captain Clerke, who had seen him, spoke of him as a low fellow, and as a little out of his senses. His own countrymen, I found, agreed in the same account of him. In short, these two adventurers seemed to be held in no esteem. They had not, indeed, been so fortunate as to return home with such valuable acquisitions of property as we had bestowed upon Omai ; and, with the advantages he reaped from his voyage to England, it must be his own fault if he should sink into the same state of insignificance.
Arrival at Eimeo.-Two Harbours there, and an Account of
them.-Visit from Maheine, Chief of the Island.- His Person described.--A Goat stolen, and sent back with the Thief. -- Another Goat stolen, and secreted.-Measures taken on the Occasion.- Expedition cross the Island.- Houses and Canoes burnt.-The Goat delivered up, and Peace restored. Some Account of the Island, &c.
As I did not give up my design of touching at Eimeo, at day-break, in the morning of the 30th, after leaving Otaheite, I stood for the north end of the island; the harbour which I wished to examine being at that part of it. Omai, in his canoe, having arrived there long before us, had taken some necessary measures to shew us the place. However, we were not without pilots, having several men of Otaheite on board, and not a few women. Not caring to trust entirely to these guides, I sent two boats to examine the harbour; and, on their making the signal for safe anchorage, we stood in with the ships, and anchored close up to the head of the inlet, in ten fathoms water, over a bottom of soft mud, and moored with a hawser fast to the shore. This harbour, which is called Taloo, is situated upon the north side of the island, in the district of Oboonohoo, or Poonohoo. It runs in south, or south by east, between the hills, above two miles. For security and goodness of its bottom, it is not inferior to any harbour that I have met with at any of the islands in this ocean; and it has this advantage over most of them, that a ship can sail in and out, with the reigning trade wind; so that the access and recess are equally easy. There are several rivulets that fall into it. The one, at the head, is so considerable as to admit boats to go a quarter of a mile up, where we found the water perfectly fresh. Its banks are covered with the pooroo tree, as it is called by the natives, which makes good firing, and which they set no value upon; so that wood and water are to be got here with great facility.
On the same side of the island, and about two miles to the eastward, is the harbour of Parowroah, much larger within than that of Taloo; but the entrance, or opening in the reef (for the whole island is surrounded by a reef of coral rock) is considerably narrower, and lies to leeward of the harbour. These two defects are so striking, that the harbour of Taloo must always have a decided preference. It is a little extraordinary, that I should have been three times at Otaheite before, and have once sent a boat to Eis meo, and yet not know till now that tbere was a harbour in it. On the contrary, I always understood there was not. Whereas, there are not only the two above mentioned, but one or two more on the south side of the island. But these last are not so considerable as the two we have just described.
We had no sooner anchored, than the ships were crowded with the inhabitants, whom curiosity alone brought on board; for they had nothing with them for the purposes of barter. But, the next morning, this deficiency was supplied ; several canoes then arriving from more distant parts, which brought with them abundance of bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, and a few hogs. These they exchanged for batchets, nails, and beads; for red feathers were not so much sought after here as at Otaheite. The ship being a good deal pestered with rats, I hauled her within thirly yards of the shore, as near as the depth of water would allow, and made a path for them to get to the land, by fastening hawsers to the trees. It is said, that this experiment has some