Andrew Kippis.

A narrative of the voyages round the world performed by Captain James Cook ; with an account of his life during the previous and intervening periods online

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Online LibraryAndrew KippisA narrative of the voyages round the world performed by Captain James Cook ; with an account of his life during the previous and intervening periods → online text (page 27 of 37)
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to which we found those of all ages, and both sexes, addicted, to
an uncommon degree. It should, however, be considered, that
this exceptionable part of their conduct seems to exist merely
with respect to us ; for, in their general intercourse with one
another, I had reason to be of opinion, that thefts do not happen
more frequently (perhaps less so) than in other countries, the dis-
honest practices of whose worthless individuals are not supposed
to authorise any indiscriminate censure on the whole body of the
people. Great allowances should be made for the foibles of these
poor natives of the Pacific Ocean, whose minds we overpowered
with the glare of objects, equally new to them as they were cap-
tivating. Stealing, among civilized nations of the world, may
well be considered as denoting a character deeply stained with
moral turpitude ; with avarice, unrestrained by the known rules
of right ; and with profligacy, producing extreme indigence, and
neglecting the means of relieving it. But at the Friendly and
other islands which we visited, the thefts so frequently committed
by the natives, of what we had brought along with us, may be
fairly traced to less culpable motives. They seemed to arise
solely from an intense curiosity or desire to possess something
which they had not been accustomed to before, and belonging to
a sort of people so different from themselves. And perhaps, if it
were possible, that a set of beings, seemingly as superior in our
judgment as we are in theirs, should appear among us, it might be
doubted, whether our natural regard to justice would be able to
restrain many from falling into the same error. That I have
assigned the true motive for their propensity to this practice,
appears from their stealing everything indiscriminately at first
sight, before they could have the least conception of converting
their prize to any one useful purpose. But I believe, with us, no
person would forfeit his reputation, or expose himself to punish-
ment, without knowing, beforehand, how to employ the stolen
goods. Upon the whole, the pilfering disposition of these islan-


814 CAPTAIN cook's

ders, though certainly disagreeable and troublesome to strangers,
was the means of affording us some information as to the quick-
ness of their intellects. , .

With respect to the religion of these Indians, Mr. Anderson
maintains, that they have very proper sentiments concerning the
immateriality and immortality of the soul ; and thinks himself
sufiBciently authorised to assert, that they do not worship any-
thing which is the work of their own hands, or any visible part
of the creation. The language of the Friendly Islands has the
greatest imaginable conformity with that of New Zealand, of
Wateeoo, and Mangeea. Several hundred of the words of it
were collected by Mr. Anderson ; and amongst these are terms
that express numbers reaching to a hundred thousand. Beyond
this limit they never went, and probably were not able to go
farther ; for it was observed, that when they had gotten thus
far, they commonly used a word which expresses an indefinite

P\ On the Itth of July, our commander took his final leave of
the Friendly Islands, and resumed his voyage. An eclipse was
observed in the night between the 20th and 21st ; and on the
8th of August land was discovered. Some of the inhabitants
who came off in canoes seemed earnestly to invite our people to
go on shore ; but Captain Cook did not think proper to run the
risk of losing the advantage of a fair wind, for the sake of exam-
ining an island, which appeared to be of little consequence. Its
name, as was learned from the natives, who spoke the Otaheite
language, is Toobouai.

^ Pursuing his course, the captain reached Otaheite on the 12th,
and steered for Oheitepha Bay, with an intention to anchor there,
in order to draw what refreshments he could from the southeast
part of the island, before he went down to Matavia. Omai'a
first reception among his countrymen was not entirely of a flat-
tering nature. Though several persons came on board who knew


him, and one of tbem was his brother-in-law, there was nothing
remarkably tender or striking in their meeting. An interview
which Omai had, on the 13th, with his sister, was agreeable to
the feelings of nature ; for their meeting was marked with expres-
sions of tender affection, more easy to be conceived than described.
In a visit, likewise, which he received from an aunt, the old lady
threw herself at his feet, and plentifully bedewed them with tears
of joy.

Captain Cook was informed by the natives, that, since he was
last at the island, in It 74, two ships had been twice in the
Oheitepha Bay, and had left animals in the country. These, on
further inquiry, were found to be hogs, dogs, goats, one bull, and
a ram. That the vessels which had visited Otaheite were Span-
ish, was plain from an inscription that was cut upon a wooden
cross, standing at some distance from the front of a house which
had been occupied by the strangers. On the transverse part of
the cross was inscribed,

Christus vincit.

And on the perpendicular part,

Carolus III. Imperat. 17Y4.

Our commander took this occasion to preserve the memory o.
the prior visits of the English, by inscribing, on the other side
of the post,

Georgius tertius, rex,

Annis 1767,

1769, 1773, 1774, & 1777.

Whatever might be the intentions of the Spaniards in their
visit to the island, it ought to be remembered to their honour,
that they behaved so well tc the inhabitants, as always to be

316 CAPTAIN cook's

Fpoken (f in the strongest expressions, of esteem and venera-

< Captain Cook had at this time an important affair to settle.
As he knew that he could now be furnished with a plentiful sup-
ply of cocoa-nuts, the liquor of which is an excellent and whole-
some beverage, he was desirous of prevailing upon his people to
consent to their being abridged, during their stay at Otaheite
and the neighbouring islands, of their stated allowance of spirits
to mix with water. But as this stoppage of a favourite article,
without assigning some reason for it, might occasion a general
murmur, he thought it most prudent to assemble the ship's com-
pany, and to make known to them the design of the voyage, and
the extent of future operations. To animate them in undertaking
with cheerfulness and perseverance what lay before them, he took
notice of the rewards offered by parliament, to such of his ma-
jesty's subjects as should first discover a communication between
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in any direction whatever, in
the northern hemisphere ; and also such as should first penetrate
beyond the eighty-ninth degree of northern latitude. The cap-
tain made no doubt, he told them, that he should find them will-
ing to cooperate with him in attempting, as far as might be
possible, to become entitled to one or both of these rewards ;
but that, to give the best chance of success, it would be neces-
sary to observe the utmost economy in the expenditure of the
stores and provisions, particularly the latter, as there was no pro-
bability of getting a supply anywhere, after leaving these islands.
He strengthened his argument, by reminding them, that, in con-
sequence of the opportunity's having been lost of getting to the
north this summer, the voyage must last at least a year longer
than had originally been supposed. He entreated them to con-
sider the various obstructions and difficulties tbey might still
meet with, and the aggravated hardships they would endure, if
it should be found necessary to put them to short allowance, of


any species of provisions, in a cold climate. For these very sub-
stantial reasons, he submitted to them, whether it would not be
better to be prudent in time, and, rather than to incur the haz-
ard of having no spirits left, when such a cordial would most be
wanted, to consent to give up their grog now, when so excellent
a liquor as that of cocoa-nuts, could be substituted in its place.
In conclusion, our commander left the determination of the mat-
ter entirely to their own choice.

This speech, which certainly partook much of the nature of
true eloquence, if a discourse admirably calculated for persuasion
be entitled to that character, produced its full effect on the gen-
erous minds of English seamen. Captain Cook had the satisfac-
tion of finding that his proposal did not remain a single moment
under consideration ; being unanimously and immediately ap-
proved of, without the least objection. By our commander's
order. Captain Clerke made the same proposal to his people, to
which they likewise agreed. Accordingly, grog was no longer
served, excepting on Saturday nights ; when the companies of
both ships had a full allowance of it, that they might drink the
health of their friends in England.

On the 24th Captain Cook quitted the southeast part of Ota-
heite, and resumed his old station in Matavia Bay. Immedi-
ately upon his arrival, he was visited by Otoo, the king of the
whole island, and their former friendship was renewed ; a friend-
ship which was continued without interruption, and cemented by
a perpetual succession of civilities, good offices, and entertain-
ments. One of our commander's first objects was to dispose of
all the European animals which were in the ships. Accordingly,
he conveyed to Oparee, Otoo^s place of residence, a peacock and
hen : a turkey cock and hen^ one gander and three geese, a drake
and four ducks. The geese and ducks began to breed before
our navigators left their present station. There were already at
Otoo's, several goats, and the Spanish bull ; which was ouq of

318 CAPTAIN cook's

the finest animals of the kind that was ever seen. To the bull
Captain Cook sent the three cows he had on board, together
with a bull of his own ; to all which were added the horse and
mare, and the sheep that had still remained in the vessels.

The captain found himself lightened of a very heavy burthen
in having disposed of these passengers. It is not easy to con-
ceive the trouble and vexation, which had attended the convey-
ance of this living cargo, through such various hazards, and to so
immense a distance. But the satisfaction which our commander
felt, in having been so fortunate as to fulfil his majesty's humane
designs, in sending such valuable animals, to supply the wants of
two worthy nations, afforded him an ample recompense for the
many anxious hours he had passed, before this subordinate object
of his voyage could be carried into execution.

At this time, a war was on the point of breaking out between
the inhabitants of Eimeo and those of Otaheite ; and by the
latter Captain Cook was requested to take a part in their favour.
With this request, however, though enforced by frequent and
urgent solicitations, the captain, according to his usual wisdom,
refused to comply. He alleged, that as he was not thoroughly
acquainted with the dispute, and the people of Eimeo had never
offended him, he could not think himself at liberty to engage iu
hostilities against them. With these reasons Otoo and most of
the chiefs appeared to be satisfied ; but one of them, Towha, was
so highly displeased, that our commander never afterwards recov-
ered his friendship.

Upon the present occasion. Captain Cook had full and undenia-
ble proof, that the offering of human sacrifices forms a part of
the religious institutions of Otaheite. Indeed, he was a witness
to a solemnity of this kind ; the process of which he had parti-
cularly described, and has related it with the just sentiments of
indip-nation and abhorrence. The unhappy victim, who was now
oflfe "^d to the object of worship, seemed to be a middle-aged man,


and was said to be one of the lowest class of people. But the
captain could not learn, after all his inquiries, whether the
wretch had been fixed upon on account of his having committed
any crime, which was supposed to be deserving of death. It is
certain, that a choice is generally made, either of such guilty
persons for the sacrifices, or of common low fellows, who stroll,
about from place to place, without any visible methods of
obtaining an honest subsistence. Those who are devoted to suf-
fer, are never apprised of their fate, till the blow is given, that
puts an end to their being. Whenever upon any particular
emergency, one of the great chiefs considers a human sacrifice to
be necessary, he pitches upon the victim, and then orders him to
be suddenly fallen upon and killed, either with clubs or stones.
Although it should be supposed, that no more than one person is
ever devoted to destruction on any single occasion, at Otaheite,
it will still be found that these occurrences are so frequent, as
to cause a shocking waste of the human race ; for our comman-
der counted no less than forty-nine skulls of former victims, lying
before the Moral, where he had seen another added to the num-
ber. It was apparent, from the freshness of these skulls, that
no great length of time had elapsed, since the wretches to whom
they belonged had been offered upon the altar of blood.

There is reason to fear that this custom is as extensive as it
is horrid. It is highly probable, that it prevails throughout the
widely-diffused islands of the Pacific Ocean ; and Captain Cook
had particular evidence of its subsisting at the Friendly Islands.
To what an extent the practice of human sacrifices was carried
in the ancient world, is not unknown to the learned. Scarcely
any nation was free from it in a certain state of society ; and, as
religious reformation is one of the last efforts of the human mind,
the practice may be continued, even when the manners are
otherwise far removed from savage Tfe. It may have been a
long time before civilization has made Buch a progress as to

320 CAPTAIN cook's

deprive superstition of its cruelty, and to divert it from barbar-
ous rites to ceremonies, which, though foolish enough, are com
paratively mild, gentle, and innocent.

On the 5th of September, an accident happened which, though
slight in itself, was of some consequence from the situation of
things. A young ram of the Cape breed, which had been lambed
and brought up with great care on board the ship, was killed
by a dog. Desirous as Captain Cook was of propagating so
useful a race, among the Society Islands, the loss of a ram was
a serious misfortune. It was the only one he had of that
breed ; and of the English breed a single ram was all that re-

Captain Cook and Captain Gierke, on the 14th, mounted on
horseback, and took a ride round the plain of Matavia to the
great surprise of a large number of the natives, who attended
upon the occasion, and gazed upon the gentlemen with as much
astonishment as if they had been Centaurs. What the two cap-
tains had begun was afterwards repeated every day, by one and
another of our people ; notwithstanding which, the curiosity of
the Otaheitans still continued unabated. They were exceedingly
delighted with these animals, after they had seen the use which
was made of them. Not all the novelties put together, which
European visitors had carried amongst the inhabitants, inspired
them with so high an idea of the greatness of distant nations.

Though Captain Cook would not take a part in the quarrels
between the islands, he was ready to protect his particular
friends, when in danger of being injured. Towha, who com-
manded the expedition against Eimeo, had been obliged to sub
mit to a disgraceful accommodation. Being full of resentment
on account of his not having been properly supported, he was
said to have threatened, that as soon as the captain should leave
the island, he would join his forces to those of Tiaraboo, and
attack Otoo, at Matavia or Oparre. This induced our com


mander lo declare, in the most public manner, that he waa
determined to espouse the interest of his friend, against any such
combination ; and that, whoever presumed to assault him, should
feel the weight of his heavy displeasure, when he returned again
ij Otaheite. Captain Cook's declaration had probably the
desired effect ; for, if Towha had formed hostile intentions, no
more was heard of the matter.

The, manner in which our commander was freed from a rheur
matic complaint, that consisted of a pain extending from the hip
to the foot, deserves to be recorded. Otoo's mother, his three
sisters, and eight other women went on board, for the express
purpose of undertaking the cure of his disorder. He accepted
of their friendly offer, had a bed spread for them on the cabin-
flioor, and submitted himself to their directions. Being desired
to lay himself down amongst them, then, as many of them as
could get round him began to squeeze him with both hands,
from head to foot, but more particularly in the part where the
pain was lodged, till they made his bones crack, and his flesh
become a perfect mummy. After undergoing this discipline about
a quarter of an hour, he was glad to be released from the
women. The operation, however, gave him immediate relief ; so
that he was encouraged to submit to another rubbing down
before he went to bed ; the consequence of which was, that he
was tolerably easy all the succeeding night. His female phy-
sicians repeated their prescription the next morning, and again
in the evening ; after which his pains were entirely removed,
and the cure was perfected. This operation, which is called
romee, is universally practised among these islanders ; being
sometimes performed by the men, but more generally by the

Captain Cook, who* now had come to the resolution of depart-
ing soon from Otaheite, accompanied, on the 27th, Otoo to
Oparre, and examined the cattle and poultry, which he had con-


322 CAPTAIN cook's

signed to his friend^s care at that place. Everything was in a
promising way, and properly attended. The captain procured
from Otoo four goats ; two of which he designed to leave at Ulie-
tea, where none had as yet been introduced ; and the other two
he proposed to reserve for the use of any islands he might chance
to meet with in his passage to the north. On the next day,
Otoo came on board, and informed our commander that he had
gotten a canoe, which he desired him to carry home, as a present
to the Earree rahie no Pretane. This, he said, was the only
thing he could send which was worthy of his majesty's ac-
ceptance. Captain Cook was not a little pleased with Otoo, for
this mark of his gratitude ; and the more, as the thought was
entirely his own. Not one of our people had given him the
least hint concerning it ; and it showed, that he was fully sensi-
ble to whom he stood indebted for the most valuable presents
that he had received. As the canoe was too large to be taken
on board, the captain could only thank him for his good inten-
tions ; but it would have given him a much greater satisfaction,
if his present could have been accepted.

During this visit of our voyagers to Otaheite, such a cordial
friendship and confidence subsisted between them and the natives,
as never once to be interrupted by any untoward accident. Our
commander had made the chiefs fully sensible, that it was their
interest to treat with him on fair and equitable terms, and to keep
their people from plundering or steahng. So great was Otoo's
attachment to the English, that he seemed pleased with the idea
of their having a permanent settlement at Matavia ; not consid-
ering, that from that time he would be deprived of his kingdom,
and the inhabitants of their liberties. Captain Cook had too
much gratitude and regard for these islanders, to wish that such
an event should ever take place. Though our occasional visits
may, in some respects, have been of advantage to the natives, he
was afraid that a durable establishment among them, conducted


as most European establishments amongst Indian nations havo
unfortunately been, would give them just cause to lament that
they had been discovered by our navigators. It is not, indeed,
likely, that a measure of this kind should at any time seriously
be adopted, because it cannot serve either the purposes of public
ambition, or private avarice ; and, without such inducements, the
captain has ventured to pronounce that it will never be under-

From Otaheite our voyagers sailed, on the 30th, to Eimeo,
where they came to an anchor on the same day. At this island,
the transactions which happened were, for the most part, very
unpleasant. A goat, which was stolen, was recovered without
any extraordinary difficulty, and one of the thieves was, at the
same time, surrendered ; being the first instance of the kind that
our commander had met with in his connexions with the Society
Islands. The stealing of another goat was attended with an
uncommon degree of perplexity and trouble. As the recovery
of it was a matter of no small importance, Captain Cook was
determined to effect this at auy rate ; and accordingly he mad¬Ђ
an expedition across the island, in the course of which he set fire
to six or eight houses, and burned a number of war canoes. At
last, in consequence of a peremptory message to Maheine, the
chief of Eimeo, that not a single canoe should be left in the
country, or an end be put to the contest, unless the animal in
his possession should be restored, the goat was brought back.
This quarifel was as much regretted on the part of the captain,
as it could be on that of the natives. It grieved him to reflect,
that, after refusing the pressing solicitations of his friends at
Otaheite to favour their invasion of this island, he should find
himself so speedily reduced to the necessity of engaging in hos-
tilities against its inhabitants ; and in such hostilities as, perhaps,
had been more injurious to them than Towha's expedition.

On the 11th of October, the ships departed from Eimeo, and

824 CAPTAIN cook's

the next day arrired at Owharre Harbour, on the west side of
Huaheine. The grand business of our commander at this island
was the settlement of Omai. In order to obtain the consent of
the chiefs of the island, the affair was conducted with great
solemnity. Omai dressed himself very properly on the occasion ;
brought with him a suitable assortment of presents ; went
through a variety of religious ceremonies ; and made a speech, the
topics of which had been dictated to him by our commander. The
result of the negotiation was, that a spot of ground was assigned
him, the extent of which, along the shore of the harbour, was
about two hundred yards ; and its depth to the foot of the hill
somewhat more. A proportionable part of the hill was included
in the grant. This business having been adjusted in a satisfac-
tory manner, the carpenters of both ships were employed in
building a small house for Omai, in which he might secure his
European commodities. At the same time, some of the Eng-
lish made a garden for his use, in which they planted shaddocks,
vines, pine-apples, melons and the seeds of several other vege-
table articles. All of these Captain Cook had the satisfaction of
seeing in a flourishing state before he left the island.

At Huaheine, Omai found a brother, a sister, and a brother-
in-law, by whom he was received with great regard and tender-
ness. But though these people were faithful and affectionate in
their attachment to him, the captain discovered, with concern,
that they were of too little consequence in the island to be cap-
able of rendering him any positive service. They had not either
authority or influence to protect his person or property ; and in
such a situation, there was reason to apprehend that he might
be in danger of being stripped of all his possessions as soon as
he should cease to be supported by the power of the English.
To prevent this evil, if possible, our commander advised him to
conciliate the favour and engage the patronage and protection
of two or three of the principal chiefs, by a proper distribution


of some of his moveables ; with which advice he prudeutly com>
plied. Captain Cook, however did not entirely trust to the oper-
ations of gratitude, but had recourse to the more forcible motive
of intimidation. With this view, he took every opportunity of
signifying to the inhabitants that it was his intention to return to
the island again, after being absent the usual time ; and that if
he did not find Omai in the same state of security in which he left
him, all those whom he should then discover to have been his
enemies, should feel the weight of his resentment. As the natives

Online LibraryAndrew KippisA narrative of the voyages round the world performed by Captain James Cook ; with an account of his life during the previous and intervening periods → online text (page 27 of 37)