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John MacGillivray.

Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By the Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During the Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea, the Louisiade online

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Online LibraryJohn MacGillivrayNarrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By the Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During the Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea, the Louisiade → online text (page 1 of 26)
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Produced by Sue Asscher




NARRATIVE OF THE VOYAGE

OF

H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE,

COMMANDED BY THE LATE

CAPTAIN OWEN STANLEY, R.N., F.R.S. ETC.

DURING THE YEARS 1846-1850.

INCLUDING DISCOVERIES AND SURVEYS IN

NEW GUINEA, THE LOUISIADE ARCHIPELAGO,

ETC.

TO WHICH IS ADDED THE ACCOUNT OF

MR. E.B. KENNEDY'S EXPEDITION

FOR THE EXPLORATION OF THE CAPE YORK PENINSULA.

BY JOHN MACGILLIVRAY, F.R.G.S.

NATURALIST TO THE EXPEDITION.


PUBLISHED UNDER THE

SANCTION OF THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY.


IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOLUME 1.



1852.


TO

MRS. STANLEY,

THIS WORK IS DEDICATED

AS A TRIBUTE OF RESPECT TO THE MEMORY OF HER SON,

UNDER WHOSE DIRECTION THE PRINCIPAL OBJECTS

OF THE

VOYAGE OF THE RATTLESNAKE

WERE SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISHED.



PREFACE.

It was originally intended that an account of the Surveying Voyage of
H.M.S. Rattlesnake should have been undertaken conjointly by the late
Captain Owen Stanley and myself, in which case the narrative would have
been constructed from the materials afforded by the journals of both, and
the necessary remarks upon hydrographical subjects would have been
furnished by that officer, whose lamented death in March, 1850, prevented
this arrangement from being carried out. Not having had access to Captain
Stanley's private journals, I considered myself fortunate, when the Lords
Commissioners of the Admiralty - in addition to sanctioning the
publication of my account of the Voyage in question - directed that every
facility should be afforded me in consulting the manuscript charts and
other hydrographical results at their disposal, and to Rear-Admiral Sir
F. Beaufort, C.B., Commander C.B. Yule, R.N., and Lieutenant J. Dayman,
R.N., I beg to express my thanks for the liberal manner in which they
carried out their Lordships' intentions.

To the other gentlemen who have contributed Appendices to this
work - George Busk, Esquire F.R.S., Dr. R.G. Latham, Professor Edward
Forbes, F.R.S., and Adam White, Esquire, F.L.S. - I have also to offer my
best thanks. It also affords me great pleasure to record my obligations
to T. Huxley, Esquire R.N., F.R.S., late Assistant-Surgeon of the
Rattlesnake, for the handsome manner in which he allowed me to select
from his collection of drawings those which now appear as illustrations;
and I may express the hope, which in common with many others I entertain,
that the whole of his researches in marine zoology may speedily be laid
before the scientific world. My own collections in Natural History have
been submitted to the examination of various eminent naturalists. Many of
the novelties have already been described, and the remainder will appear
from time to time.



CONTENTS OF VOLUME 1.


CHAPTER 1.1.

Objects of the Voyage.
Admiralty Instructions.
Hydrographer's Instructions.
Sail from Plymouth.
Arrive at Madeira.
Funchal.
Visit to Curral.
Try for Deep Sea Soundings.
Crossing the Line.
Arrive at Rio de Janeiro.
City of Rio and Neighbourhood.
Dredging in Botafogo Bay.
Slavery.
Religious Processions.
Brazilian Character.
Cross the South Atlantic.
Temperature of the Sea.
Oceanic Birds.
Pelagic Animals.
Arrive at Simon's Bay.
Survey the Bay.
Caffre War.
Observations on the Waves.
Arrive at Mauritius.
Port Louis.
Visit to Pamplemousses.
La Pouce Mountain.
Try for Deep Sea Soundings.
Arrive at Hobart Town.


CHAPTER 1.2.

Arrive at Sydney.
Bramble is attached to the Expedition.
Survey Entrance of Port Jackson and Twofold Bay.
Sail upon our First Northern Cruise.
Arrive at Moreton Bay.
Proceedings there.
Natives at Moreton Island.
Arrive at Port Curtis.
Settlement of North Australia.
Excursions made in Neighbourhood.
Natural Productions.
Call at the Percy Isles.
Port Molle and Cape Upstart.
Unable to find Fresh Water.
Return to Sydney.
Recent Occurrences there.
Sail for Bass Strait.
Visit Port Phillip and Port Dalrymple.
Inspect the Lighthouses of the Strait.


CHAPTER 1.3.

Sail on our Second Northern Cruise.
Entrance to the Inner Passage.
Arrive at Rockingham Bay.
Land Mr. Kennedy's Expedition.
Commence the Survey at Dunk Island.
Communication with Natives.
Barnard Isles.
Botanical Sketch.
Examine a New River.
Frankland Isles.
Find the Cocoanut Palm.
Fitzroy Island.
The Will-o-the-Wisp and her Story.
Trinity Bay.
Animals of a Coral Reef.
Stay at Lizard Island.
Howick, Pelican, and Claremont Isles.
Bird Isles.
Meet party of Natives in Distress.
Cairncross Island.
Arrive at Cape York.


CHAPTER 1.4.

Water the Ship.
Vessel with Supplies arrives.
Natives at Cape York.
Description of the Country and its Productions.
Port Albany considered as a Depot for Steamers.
Sail from Cape York and arrive at Port Essington.
Condition of the Place.
History of the Settlement.
Would be useless as a Colony.
Aborigines.
Leave Port Essington.
Arrive at Sydney.


CHAPTER 1.5.

Fate of Kennedy's Expedition.
Sail on our Third Northern Cruise.
Excursion on Moreton Island.
History of Discoveries on the South-East Coast of New Guinea and the
Louisiade Archipelago, from 1606 to 1846.
Find the Shores of the Louisiade protected by a Barrier Reef.
Beautiful appearances of Rossel Island.
Pass through an opening in the Reef, and enter Coral Haven.
Interview with Natives on Pig Island.
Find them treacherously disposed.
Their mode of Fishing on the Reefs.
Establish a system of Barter alongside the Ship.
Description of the Louisiade Canoes, and mode of management.
Find a Watering Place on South-East Island.
Its Scenery and Productions.
Suspicious conduct of the Natives.
Their Ornaments, etc. described.


CHAPTER 1.6.

Leave Coral Haven.
Brierly Island.
Communication with the Natives.
Description of their Huts.
Bartering for Yams and Cocoa-nuts.
Suspicious conduct of the Natives.
They attack the Surveying Boats.
Calvados Group.
Further communication with the Inhabitants.
Stay at Duchateau Islands.
Their Productions.
Proceedings there.
Duperre Islands.
Unable to find Anchorage.
Pass out to Sea, and proceed to the Westward.
Western termination of the Louisiade Archipelago.
Reach the Coast of New Guinea.


CHAPTER 1.7.

Brumer Islands.
Catamarans and Canoes.
Friendly relations with the Natives of New Guinea.
Are well received at their Village.
Tatooing and Dress of the Women.
The Huts described.
Large Canoe from the Mainland.
Tassai ladies return our visit.
The Natives described.
Their Weapons, Ornaments, Food, etc.
Cul de Sac de l'Orangerie, and Communication with the Natives.
Redscar Bay and its Inhabitants.
Leave the Coast of New Guinea.
Arrive at Cape York.


CHAPTER 1.8.

Rescue a white Woman from Captivity among the Natives.
Her History.
Bramble and boats complete the Survey of Torres Strait.
Wini and the Mulgrave Islanders.
Intercourse with the Cape York Natives.
Nearly quarrel with them at a night dance.
Witness a Native fight.
Discover some fine country.
Incidents of our stay.
Many new Birds found.
Remarks on the Climate, etc. of Cape York.


APPENDIX.


OBSERVATIONS ON THE TEMPERATURE OF THE SEA, MADE DURING THE VOYAGE OF
H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE, DECEMBER 1846 TO JULY 1847, BY LIEUTENANT J. DAYMAN,
R.N.

ABSTRACTS OF MERIDIAN DISTANCES MEASURED DURING THE VOYAGE OF H.M.S.
RATTLESNAKE, 1847 TO 1850, BY CAPTAIN OWEN STANLEY, R.N., F.R.S., AND
LIEUTENANT C.B. YULE, R.N.

OBSERVATIONS OF THE MEAN MAGNETIC INCLINATION, MADE ON SHORE IN THE
VOYAGE OF H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE, BY LIEUTENANT J. DAYMAN, R.N.

ACCOUNT OF THE POLYZOA AND SERTULARIAN ZOOPHYTES, COLLECTED IN THE VOYAGE
OF H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE, BY GEORGE BUSK, ESQUIRE F.R.S.


LIST OF PLATES. VOLUME 1.


CANOE AND NATIVES OF NEW GUINEA.

CUTTING THROUGH THE SCRUB AT ROCKINGHAM BAY.
T. Huxley, delt. Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.

LIME CALABASH AND SPATULA.

INTERVIEW WITH NATIVES OF REDSCAR BAY, LOUISIADE ARCHIPELAGO.
T. Huxley, Esquire del.

STONE-HEADED AXE AND FISHHOOK.

PLAN OF PIRON ISLAND CANOE.

LARGE CANOE OF THE LOUISIADE.

VIEW IN WATERING CREEK, SOUTH-EAST ISLAND, LOUISIADE ARCHIPELAGO.
T. Huxley, delt. Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.

BRACELET MADE OF A HUMAN JAW.

HUT ON BRIERLY ISLAND, LOUISIADE ARCHIPELAGO.
T. Huxley, delt. Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.

END VIEW OF HUT ON BRIERLY ISLAND.

INTERIOR OF HUT ON BRIERLY ISLAND.

CATAMARAN AND NATIVES OF BRUMER ISLAND.

DRUM, BAILER, AND COOKING POT.

VILLAGE OF TASSAI, NEW GUINEA.
Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.

SHIELD, SPEARS, BASKET, AND COMB.

PANDEAN PIPES.

WOODEN PILLOW.

NEW GUINEA CANOE IN A SQUALL.

NATIVES OF REDSCAR BAY.

PLAYHOUSE OF BOWER BIRD OF CAPE YORK.

NEW ZOOPHYTES.
C. Busk, delt. W. Wing, lith.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.
Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.

...



VOYAGE OF H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE.


CHAPTER 1.1.

Objects of the Voyage.
Admiralty Instructions.
Hydrographer's Instructions.
Sail from Plymouth.
Arrive at Madeira.
Funchal.
Visit to Curral.
Try for Deep Sea Soundings.
Crossing the Line.
Arrive at Rio de Janeiro.
City of Rio and Neighbourhood.
Dredging in Botafogo Bay.
Slavery.
Religious Processions.
Brazilian Character.
Cross the South Atlantic.
Temperature of the Sea.
Oceanic Birds.
Pelagic Animals.
Arrive at Simon's Bay.
Survey the Bay.
Caffre War.
Observations on the Waves.
Arrive at Mauritius.
Port Louis.
Visit to Pamplemousses.
La Pouce Mountain.
Try for Deep Sea Soundings.
Arrive at Hobart Town.

H.M.S. Rattlesnake, one of the old class of 28-gun ships, was
commissioned at Portsmouth on September 24th, 1846, by the late Captain
Owen Stanley, with a complement of 180 officers and men. The nature and
objects of the intended voyage will best be conveyed to the reader
through the medium of the following instructions from the Admiralty, for
the use of which I am indebted to Lieutenant C.B. Yule, who succeeded to
the command of the Rattlesnake, upon the death of our late lamented
Captain, at Sydney, in March 1850, after the successful accomplishment of
the principal objects of the expedition.

BY THE COMMISSIONERS FOR EXECUTING THE OFFICE OF LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF THE
UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, ETC.

Whereas, it being the usual practice of vessels returning from the
Australian Colonies, or from the South Sea, to proceed to India through
Torres Strait; and most of those vessels preferring the chance of finding
a convenient opening in the Barrier Reefs to the labour of frequent
anchorage in the Inshore Passage, it was thought fit to send out an
expedition under Captain Francis Blackwood, to determine which was the
best opening that those reefs would afford, and to make such a survey
thereof as would ensure the safety of all vessels which should continue
to adopt that mode of reaching the Strait:

And whereas, although that specific object was successfully achieved by
the survey of Raine Island Passage, and by the erection of a durable
beacon there to render it the more accessible, yet it appears that much
is still to be done in those seas in order to make the approach to the
Strait more secure and certain, as well as to afford the choice of
another entrance farther to the northward in case of vessels overshooting
the latitude of Raine Island by stress of wind, or current:

We have, therefore, thought proper to appoint you to the command of the
Rattlesnake, for the purpose of carrying out these objects; and you are
here by required and directed, when that ship is in every respect ready
for sea, to proceed in her to Madeira for the verification of your
chronometers - from thence to Simon's Bay at the Cape of Good Hope, for a
supply of water, and to land the 50,000 pounds you have been ordered to
convey to that colony; then to make the best of your way to the
Mauritius, to land the treasure (15,000 pounds) entrusted to your charge
for that island; and having so done, to proceed to King George Sound for
the purpose of carrying its exact meridian distance to Sydney, where you
will lose no time in preparing for the execution of the important service
entrusted to you.

The several objects of that service have been drawn up under our
direction by our Hydrographer; but notwithstanding the order in which
they are placed, we leave to your own discretion the several periods of
their performance, and likewise the times of your return to Sydney to
revictual and refit - being satisfied that your zeal in pushing forward
the survey will never outstrip your attention to the health and comfort
of your crew.

You will take the Bramble and her tender, the Castlereagh, under your
orders, and employ them in those places which require vessels of a
lighter draft of water than the Rattlesnake. They are to be attached as
tenders to the Rattlesnake, and to be manned from that ship; and such of
the present crew of the Bramble as may have served five years
continuously, and volunteer to remain on the surveying service in
Australia, are to be entered in the Rattlesnake under the provisions of
the Act of Parliament. The books of the Bramble are to be closed, and she
is to be considered as no longer in commission; and you are here by
authorised, after being joined by her and by the Castlereagh, to enter
ten supernumerary seaman for wages and victuals in the Rattlesnake
(making her total complement 190) to enable you effectively to man the
said two tenders.

In stretching off from the Barrier Reefs to the eastward, in order to
explore the safety of the sea intervening between them and Louisiade and
New Guinea, you will have occasion to approach those shores, in which
case you must be constantly on your guard against the treacherous
disposition of their inhabitants, all barter for refreshments should be
conducted under the eye of an officer, and every pains be taken to avoid
giving any just cause of offence to their prejudices, especially with
respect to their women.

A naturalist having been permitted to accompany you, every reasonable
facility is to be given him in making and preserving his collections.

In the event of this country being involved in hostilities during your
absence, you will take care never to be surprised; but you are to refrain
from any act of aggression towards the vessels or settlements of any
nation with which we may be at war, as expeditions employed in behalf of
discovery and science have always been considered by all civilised
communities as acting under a general safeguard.

You will consider yourself under the command of Rear-Admiral Inglefield,
the Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's ships and vessels on the East
India station, while you are within the limits of that station; and we
have signified to him our desire that he should not divert you from the
survey, nor interfere with your proceedings, except under the pressure of
strong necessity; and that upon all fit occasions he should order you to
be supplied with the stores and provisions of which you may stand in
need; and all officers senior to yourself, with whom you may fall in, are
hereby directed to give you any assistance which may be requisite.

Notwithstanding the 16th article of the 4th section of the 6th chapter of
the Admiralty Instructions, you are, besides your reports to your
Commander-in-Chief, to send brief accounts to our Secretary of your
proceedings, state, and condition: and you will make known to him, in due
time, the nature and quantity of any supplies of which you may be
absolutely in want, and which may have to be forwarded to you from
England.

With our Hydrographer you are by every opportunity in your power to keep
up a constant correspondence; you are to report to him in full detail all
your proceedings; and you are to transmit to him, whenever possible,
tracings of all charts and plans that you may have completed, accompanied
by sailing directions, and with notices of any facts or discoveries which
may be of interest to navigation.

Having completed the service herein set forth, you are to return in the
Rattlesnake, along with the Bramble, to Spithead, when you will receive
directions for your further proceedings. If the Bramble should, however,
by that time be in an unfit state to undertake the voyage to Europe, it
may perhaps be prudent to dispose of her, under the sanction of the
Commander-in-Chief.

In the event of any unfortunate accident befalling yourself, the officer
on whom the command may in consequence devolve, is hereby required and
directed to carry out, as far as in him lies, the foregoing orders and
instructions.

Given under our hands, this 1st December 1846.

Signed:

CHARLES ADAM.

JNO. D. DUNDAS.

To OWEN STANLEY, Esquire,

Captain of her Majesty's Surveying Vessel Rattlesnake, at Plymouth,

By command of their Lordships,

Signed: H.G. WARD.

...

HYDROGRAPHER'S INSTRUCTIONS.

In connection with the preceding general instructions to Captain Stanley,
it will be necessary to give a portion of those more explicit directions
furnished by the Hydrographer, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort.

EXTRACTS FROM HYDROGRAPHIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR CAPTAIN STANLEY.

On your arrival at Sydney you should take the earliest opportunity of
communicating with Lieutenant Yule, in order to learn how much has been
executed, by the Bramble and her tender, of the orders which he received
from Captain Blackwood, and you will no doubt avail yourself of his long
experience in those seas in digesting your plan of future operations.

A letter from the Colonial Office having recently apprised their
Lordships that it is the intention of her Majesty's Government to form a
new settlement at Hervey Bay, and having requested that it may be duly
examined with that view, your first undertaking, after leaving Sydney,
should be to repair to that place, and to make an efficient survey of the
whole bay, extending it down through the channel into Wide Bay, and
marking the best anchorages, the most convenient landing-places, and the
several parts where water may be found. And as it appears that Colonel
Barney, R.E. is engaged in the same inquiry, it will be prudent to act in
concert with him, and to give him a copy of such parts of it as may suit
his purposes.

In your way to this district, and indeed on every part of the shores of
Australia, you should lose no fair opportunity of verifying the
positions - of multiplying the soundings - and of improving the smaller
details of the coast as laid down by Captain P.P. King in his excellent
Survey, but which he had not time or means to effect with the same
accuracy that will be in your power. By carrying on this system of
correction and improvement in our present charts from Hervey Bay along
the narrow navigation which is generally known by the name of the Inshore
Passage, between the coast and the Barrier Reefs, a very great benefit
will be conferred on those masters of vessels who would be the more
readily inclined to adopt that channel, if certain parts of it were so
clearly delineated, and the soundings so spread on either side of the
tracks, that they could sometimes continue under sail during the night.
However necessary it was, and is, to contribute as much as possible to
the safety of those vessels who choose the outer voyage by the Barrier
Reefs, it is not the less our duty to facilitate the navigation of the
Inshore Passage to all vessels who prefer its tranquillity and security
to the risk of the former; and your labours for the accomplishment of
this object will prove to be of peculiar importance when steam
communication between Singapore and Sydney shall be established.

In the general and searching examination of those parts of the Coral Sea
which are likely to be traversed by ships steering for Torres Strait, you
will be obliged to regulate your movements by the periodic changes of the
weather and monsoons - probably beginning to windward, and dropping gently
to leeward by close and well-arranged traverses, and by spreading out
your three vessels to a convenient distance apart. This great expanse of
sea, which may be said to stretch from Lord Howe's Island to New
Caledonia and to the Louisiade, would no doubt require many years work in
order to accomplish that object; but, by dividing it into definite zones
or squares, and by fully sifting those which you may undertake, a certain
quantity of distinct knowledge will be gained. Navigators in crossing
those zones will then be sure of their safety, and future surveyors will
know exactly on what parts to expend their labours.

In carefully exploring the northernmost, and apparently the safest
entrance from the Pacific, which may be called Bligh's Channel, you will
connect the islands with a survey of the coast of New Guinea, as well as
with the edge of the Warrior Reef, and as there are throughout moderate
soundings, you will probably be able to draw up such clear directions as
will enable the mariner to use it in moderate weather by night, and to
beat through it at all times. Characteristic views of the coast and hills
of New Guinea, as well as of each island, both from the eastward and
westward, will greatly assist him by the immediate certainty of his
landfall, and will also materially add to your means of giving proper
marks and bearings for avoiding the dangers.

In Torres Strait you will find much to do - not only has a new rock been
discovered in the middle of the Endeavour Channel, but the water in its
western opening is only four and a half fathoms, and there seems no
reason for not believing that Prince of Wales Channel is safer, easier,
and more direct. But before we can decide upon that point, an accurate
survey must be made of it, throughout its length and breadth, including
the adjacent islands, and showing their anchorages and watering-places,
as well as the nature of the soil, and the kind of timber they produce,
along with a full investigation of the tides.

The connection of that Strait with Bligh's Farewell should also be
examined, for many circumstances may render it highly necessary that the
Admiralty should be made aware of what means there are to pass from one
ocean to the other, without being observed from Cape York.

On this latter Cape Government have for some time contemplated a station,
and it will therefore be very desirable to fix upon a convenient but
secure anchorage in its neighbourhood. Our latest surveys do not show
much promise of finding such a port; but, perhaps, inside the reefs
beyond Peak Point, or more likely between Albany Island and the main, a
snug place may be discovered for that purpose.

In tracing out the approach to Bligh's Farewell, you will be led to
examine the southern face of New Guinea as far as Cape Valsche; but after
verifying the position of this point, it will be prudent to quit the
shores of that island, and not to meddle with any part of it over which
the Dutch claim jurisdiction.

When you have arrived at this distant point, the south-east monsoon will
probably render it necessary to repair to Port Essington for such
supplies as may by previous arrangement have been sent there for you from
Sydney; or perhaps unforeseen events might render it more expedient to
proceed for refreshments to some of the islands in the Arafura Sea, or it
is possible to one of the Dutch settlements in Java. And in either of
these two latter cases you should make a complete survey of the island to
which you have proceeded, or you should select any one of the eastern
passages from Bally to Floris most convenient to the object you have in
view, and then lay it down with precision. Of the many well-known
passages between the innumerable islands of that great Archipelago, there
is not one which has ever been charted with plausible accuracy; and it
cannot be too strongly impressed on your mind that hydrography is better
served by one accurate chart than by ten approximate sketches.

The several objects of this highly interesting expedition having thus
been briefly enumerated, I have only to remind you that their Lordships
do not prescribe to you the order in which they are to be executed,
leaving it to your own prudence, and to your experience in those
climates, so to arrange them that each part of your survey shall be
complete in itself, and that each step in your progress shall be
conducive to its successor.

Signed: F. BEAUFORT,

HYDROGRAPHER.

...

SAIL FROM PLYMOUTH.

The Rattlesnake left Spithead on December 3rd, and on the 11th took her



Online LibraryJohn MacGillivrayNarrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By the Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During the Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea, the Louisiade → online text (page 1 of 26)