Billeder på siden

The situation assigned to Rothuma in late charts and nautical tables I found to be correct.

2d. Moderate trades, with fine clear weather; toward sunset the wind inclined toward the southward of S.E. Our latitude at noon was 12° 26' S., and longitude 174° 52' E.; thermometer at noon in the shade 82°, for the first time since re-entering the tropics.

Being now at no great distance from the place where all my hopes of success lay, and wishing to preserve a perfect good understanding with the natives, who are unaccustomed to see Europeans, I issued orders to the crew and passengers on no account to trade, barter, or traffic for the smallest article with the islanders whom we might visit for the future. I had their articles of agreement rehearsed, and reminded them of their engagements with me, and how imperatively necessary it was that the tenour of them should be adhered to now, at the crisis of the expedition, when all our hopes of ultimate success depended so much on an unanimous cordial co-operation in the accomplishment of the one grand object. I also read to them some extracts from my instructions relative to restraining trading and the use of fire-arms, and endeavoured forcibly to impress upon their minds how much good conduct would recommend them to the favourable con.

sideration of the Government on our return to Calcutta.

3d.-Strong trades and cloudy weather: latitude at noon 12° 9' S.; longitude 172° 14' E. This situation would place us thirteen miles to the eastward of the Pandora's reefs, to avoid which I stood to the south-west until 5 P.M., when I resumed my course for Tucopia.

4th. At 6 A.M. land was seen from the masthead bearing N.N.E., for which I immediately stood. At a distance it exhibited two peaks, and appeared like two separate islands. This is the Mitre Island of the Pandora. At 11 A.M. the island bore E. N., distance two miles; at which time I tacked and stood to the southwestward, and found its situation to be as fol. lows: latitude 11° 56' S., longitude 170° 17' 10"; which may be depended on as perfectly correct.

Several authors assign the following situations to it, viz. Norie, in his “ Requisite Tables,” 11° 46 S. latitude, and longitude 169° 55' E.; Bowditch, in his “ Epitome,” gives its latitude 11° 49' S. and 169° 55' E. longitude; and in Lynn's Tables for 1825, the latitude assigned to it is 11° 55' S. and longitude 170° 20 E., which last situation is very near correct, and differs but little from


observation. The situation said to be assigned to Mitre Island on board the Pandora, which ship dis

covered it, is as follows, in Captain Birnie's very interesting collection of voyages. He refers to the Pandora's journal, from which it appears he has taken the latitude of the island, 11° 49' S.; 169° 55' E. longitude. It is really 'surprising how so many mistakes could have originated in the taking of latitudes and longitudes, at the close of the enlightened eighteenth century.

Not one of the latitudes and longitudes said to have been ascertained on board the Pandora, in 1791, with which I have fallen in as yet, is correct. There are islands laid down in that ship’s track that never existed in the situation assigned to them, and others several leagues out in their latitudes and longitudes. But these errors are not, in my opinion, to be imputed to the naval officers of that ship, who, no doubt were fully competent in this as well as every part of their duty; and I therefore rather suppose that they originated with the printers and chart-sellers, who, to obtain a ready sale for works, put a late date to them, with a seeming correction in the situations of islands and places from former works of a similar kind, thereby removing them really from truth to error.

Mitre Island, as I before stated, when first seen from a distance, appears like two islands. This appearance arises from two peaks of a

moderate height, the one standing near to its north-western extremity, and the other at its south-eastern, with an intervening valley nearly level with the sea. The island is about half a mile long, stretching in a S.E. and N.W. direction; a high surf breaks round its shores, which are therefore both difficult and dangerous to approach. It is inhabited by no human being; gannets and men-of-war hawks retaining jointly the ancient sway of this little spot. There are no cocoa-nut trees upon it, the reason for which will be presently explained; but it is thickly clothed with trees of other kinds. Near to the west side of it stands a rock, rearing perpendicularly its massy form, presenting to my eyes much the appearance of a steeple or tower of an old church.

I obtained the following account of Mitre Island from Martin Bushart. It is called by the natives of Tucopia and Cherry Islands Fatacca. Cherry Island is called by them Anula. They account for this island not being inhabited in the following manner. It is annually visited by them when the westerly winds prevail in these latitudes, for the purpose of procuring the feathers and flesh of the wild fowl which frequent it. They bake the bodies of the birds for several days, in ovens prepared like those in use at Tongataboo, and then return

home with their canoes laden with the food thus prepared.

As the shores of Mitre Island abound with sharks, they also resort thither for the purpose of catching them, more on account of the teeth than for the sake of the flesh. They fasten the teeth to bits of wood with twine and gum from the thamana tree, and thus make them serve the purposes of scissors and razors. These natives also report that water is plentiful upon this little island, but I suppose it is to be obtained only by digging.

Many canoes with several persons on board are from time to time drifted down from the islands to windward, and first land at Fatacca (Mitre Island). With a view to preserve their fishery on its coast, and their annual supplies of fowls and feathers from the land, they carefully discourage the growth of the cocoa-nut tree here, which in the South Seas is the staff of life, by eradicating it whenever, in spite of their care to prevent it, it makes its appearance. The reason they assign for this appears to be grounded on the soundest policy. They observe, that if the canoes which are drifted from the windward islands should find a sufficiency of supplies on Fatacca, they would proceed no farther, become permanent settlers there, disturb the haunts of the fowl, engross the shark

« ForrigeFortsæt »