William Chambers.

Chambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) online

. (page 4 of 59)
Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 4 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of a piece of land for him on the west side of Owharre harbour,
Huaheine. The carpenters of the ships built him a small house,
to which a garden was attached, planted with shaddocks, vines-,
pine apples, melons, &c. and a variety of vegetables ; the whole of
which were thriving before Captain Cook quitted the island.
When the house was finished, the presents Omai had received
in England were carried ashore, with every article necessary for
domestic purposes, as well as two muskets, a bayonet, a brace of
pistols, &c.

The two lads brought from New Zealand were put on shore at
this place, to form part of Omai's family ; but it was with great



Teluctance that tliey quitted tlie voyag-ers, who had behaved so
kindly to them.

Whilst lying at Huaheiue, a thief, who had caused them great
trouble, not only had his head and beard shaved, but, in order
to deter others, both his ears were cut off. On the 3d November
the ships went to Ulietea, and here, decoyed by the natives, two
or three desertions took place ; and as others seemed inclined to
follow the example. Captain Gierke pursued the fugitives with
two armed boats and a party of marines ; but without effect.
Captain Cook experienced a similar failure : he therefore seized
upon the persons of the chief's son, daughter, and son-in-law,
whom he jDlaced under confinement till the people should be
restored ; which took place on the 28th, and the hostages were
Teleased. One of the deserters was a midshipman of the Disco-
very, and the son of a brave officer in the service. Schemes were
projected by some of the natives to assassinate Captain Cook and
Captain Clerke ; but though in imminent danger, the murderous
plans failed.

At Bolabola, Captain Cook succeeded in obtaining an anchor
which had been left there by M. Bouganville, as he was very
'desirous of converting the iron into articles of traffic. They left
this place on the 8th December, crossed the line, and on the 24th
stopped at a small island, which he named Christmas Island, and
where he planted cocoa-nuts, yams, and melon seeds, and left a
Ijottle enclosing a suitable inscription.

On the 2d January 1778 the ships resumed their voyage north-
ward, to pursue the grand object in Behring's Straits. They
passed several islands, the inhabitants of which, though at an
immense distance from Otaheite, spoke the same language. Those
who came on board displayed the utmost astonishment at every-
thing they beheld ; and it was evident they had never seen a
ship before. The disposition to steal was equally strong in these
as in the other South Sea islanders, and a man was killed who
tried to plunder the watering party ; but this was not known to
Oaptain Cook till after they had sailed. They also discovered
that the practice of eating human flesh was prevalent. To a
group of these islands (and they were generally found in clusters)
Captain Cook gave the name of the Sandwich Islands, in honour
of the noble earl at the head of the Admiralty.

The voyage to the northward was continued on the 2d Feb-
ruary, and the long-looked-for coast of New Albion was made on
the 7th March, tlae ships being then in latitude 44 degrees
33 minutes north ; and after sailing along it till the 29th, they
came to an anchor in a small cove lying in latitude 49 degrees
29 minutes north, A brisk trade commenced with the natives,
who appeared to be well acquainted with the value of iron, for
which they exchanged the skins of various animals, such as
bears, wolves, foxes, deer, &c. both in their original state and
made up into garments. But the most extraordinary articles



•were human skulls, and hands not quite stripped of the flesh, and
which had the appearance of having- been recently on the fire.
Thieving' was practised at this place in a more scientific manner
than they had before remarked ; and the natives insisted upon,
being' paid for the wood and other thing's supplied to the ships ;
with which Captain Cook scrupulously complied. This inlet was
named King George's Sound ; but it was afterwards ascertained
that the natives called it Nootka Sound, After making' every
requisite nautical observation, the ships being again ready for
sea on the 26th, in the evening they departed, a severe gale of
wind blowing them away from the shore. From this period they
examined the coast, under a hope of finding* some communication
with the Polar Sea ; and one river they traced as high as lati-
tude 61 degrees 30 minutes north, and which was afterwards
named Cook's River.

They left this place on the 6th June, but notwithstanding all
their watchfulness and vigilance, no passage could be found.
The ships ranged across the mouth of the straits in about latitude
60 degrees, where the natives of the islands, by their manners,
gave evident tokens of their being acquainted with Europeans —
most probably Russian traders. They put in at Oonalaska and
other places, which were taken possession of in the name of the
king of Eng'land. On the 3d August Mr Anderson, surgeon of
the Resolution, died from a lingering consumption, under which
lie had been suffering more than twelve months. He was a
young man of considerable ability, and possessed an amiable dis-

Proceeding to the northward. Captain Cook ascertained the
relative positions of the two continents, Asia and America, whose
-extremities he observed. On the 18th they were close to a dense
wall of ice, beyond which they could not penetrate, the latitude
at this time being 70 degrees 44 minutes north. The ice here
was from ten to twelve feet high, and seemed to rise higher in
the distance. A prodigious number of sea-horses were crouching'
on the ice, some of which were procured for food. Captain Cook
continued to traverse these icy seas till the 29th : he then ex-
plored the coasts in Behring's Straits both in Asia and America ;
and on the 2d of October again anchored at Oonalaska to refit ;
and here they had communication with some Russians, who
undertook to convey charts and maps, &cc. to the English Admi-
ralty ; which they faithfully fulfilled. On the 26th the ships
quitted the harbour of Samg'anoodah, and sailed for the Sand-
wich Islands; Captain Cook purposing to remain there a few
months, and then to return to Kamschatka. In latitude 20 de-
grees 55 minutes, the island of Mowee was discovered on the
26th of November ; and on the 30th they fell in with another,
called by the natives Owhyhee ; and being of large extent, the
ships were occupied nearly seven weeks in sailing round it, and
examining the coast ; and they found the islanders more frank


K '■ ■- ■ ■ LIFE OF CAPTAIN COOK. ' ' ■ 'm:%m

and free from suspicion than any they had yet had intercourse
with ; so that on the 16th January 1779 there were not fewer
than a thousand canoes about the two ships, most of them crowded
with people, and well laden with hog's and other productions of
the place. A robbery having- been committed, Captain Cook
ordered a volley of musketry and four great guns to be tired
over the canoe that contained the thief; but this seemed only to
astonish the natives, without creating* any great alarm. On the
17th the ships anchored in a bay called by the islanders Kara-
kakooa. The natives constantly throng-ed to the ships, whose
decks consequently, being* at all times crowded, allowed of pilfer-
ing" without fear of detection ; and these practices, it is conjec-
tured, were encourag-ed by the chiefs. A g-reat number of the
hog's purchased were killed and salted down so completely, that
some of it was g'ood at Christmas 1780. On the 26th Captain
Cook had an interview with Terreeoboo, king of the islands, in
which great formality was observed, and an exchange of presents
took place, as well as an exchange of names. The natives were
extremely respectful to Cook ; in fact, they paid him a sort of
adoration, prostrating themselves before him ; and a society of
priests furnished the ships with a constant supply of hogs and
vegetables, without requiring any return. On the 3d February,
the day previous to the ships sailing, the king presented them
with an immense quantity of cloth, many boat-loads of vege-
tables, and a whole herd of hogs. The ships sailed on the follow-
ing day, but on the 6th encountered a very heavy gale, in which,
on the night of the 7th, the Resolution sprung the head of her
foremast in such a dangerous manner, that they were forced to
put back to Karakakooa Bay in order to get it repaired. Here
they anchored on the morning of the 11th, and everything for
a time promised to go well in their intercourse with the natives.
The friendliness manifested by the chiefs, however, was far from
solid. They were savages at a low point of cultivation, and
theft and murder were not considered by them in the light of
crimes. Cook, aware of the nature of these barbarians, was
anxious to avoid any collision, and it was with no small regret
that he found that an aifray had taken place between some sea-
men and the natives. The cause of the disturbance was the
seizure of the cutter of the Discovery as it lay at anchor. The
boats of both ships were sent in search of her, and Captain Cook
went on shore to prosecute the inquiry, and, if necessary, to
seize the person of the king, who had sanctioned the theft.

The narrative of what ensued is affectingly tragical. Cook
left the Resolution about seven o'clock, attended by the lieu-
tenant of marines, a sergeant, a corporal, and seven private
men. The pinnace's crew were likewise armed, and under the
command of Mr Roberts ; the launch was also ordered to assist
his own boat. He landed with the marines at the upper end of
the town of Kavoroah, where the natives received him with



their accustomed tokens of respect, and not the smallest sign
of hostility was evinced by mij of them ; and as the crowds
increased, the chiefs emplo3''ed themselves as before in keeping-
order. Captain Cook requested the king- to go on board the
Resolution with him, to which he offered few objections ; but
in a little time it was observed that the natives were arming-
themselves with long spears, clubs, and daggers, and putting on
the thick mats which they used by way of armour. This hostile
appearance was increased by the arrival of a canoe from the
opposite side of the bay, announcing that one of the chiefs had
been killed by a shot from the Discovery's boat. The women,
who had been conversing familiarlj^ with the English, imme-
diately retired, and loud murmurs arose among'st the crowd.
Captain Cook perceiving the tumultuous jiroceedings of the
natives, ordered Lieutenant Middleton to march his marines
down to the boats, to which the islanders offered no obstruction.
The captain followed with the king-, attended by his wife, two
sons, and several chiefs. One of the sons had already entered
the pinnace, expecting his father to follow, when the king's wife
and others hung round his neck, and forced him to be seated near
a double canoe, assuring- him that he would be put to death if he
went on board the shij).

Whilst matters were in this position, one of the chiefs was seen
with a dagg-er partly concealed under his cloak lurking about
Captain Cook, and the lieutenant of marines proposed to fire at
him ; but this the captain would not permit ; but the chief closing
upon them, the officer of marines struck him with his firelock.
Another native grasping the sergeant's musket, was forced to
let it go by a blow from the lieutenant. Captain Cook, seeing
the tumult was increasing, observed, that " if he were to force the
king- off, it could only be done by sacrificing the lives of many of
his peoj)le ;" and was about to give orders to re-embark, when a
man flung a stone at him, which he returned by discharging small
shot from one of the barrels of his piece. The man was but little
hurt ; and brandishing his spear, with threatenings to hurl it at
the captain, the latter, unwilling to fire with ball, knocked the
lellow down, and then warmly expostulated with the crowd for
their hostile conduct. At this moment a man was observed be-
hind a double canoe in the act of darting a spear at Captain
Cook, who promptly fired, but killed another who was standing
by his side. The sergeant of marines, however, instantly pre-
sented, and brought down the native whom the captain had
missed. The impetuosity of the islanders was somewhat re-
pressed ; but being pushed on by those in the rear, who were igno-
lant of what was passing in front, a volley of stones was poured
in amongst the marines, who, without waiting for orders, re-
turned it with a general discharge of musketry, which was
directly succeeded by a brisk fire from the boats. Captain Cook
expressed much surprise and vexation : he waved his hand for



tlie boats to cease firing, and to come on shore to eml3ark the
marines. The pinnace unhesitatingly obeyed ; but the lieutenant
in the launch, instead of pulling* in to the assistance of his com-
mander, rowed further off at the very moment that the services
of himself and people were most required. Nor was this all the
mischief that ensued ; for, as it devolved upon the pinnace to
receive the marines, she became so crowded, as to render the men
incapable of using their fii'earms. The marines on shore, how-
ever, fired ; but the moment their pieces w^ere discharged, the
islanders rushed en masse upon them, forced the party into the
water, where four of them were killed, and the lieutenant
wounded. At this critical period Captain Cook was left entirely
alone upon a rock near the shore. He, however, hurried towards
the pinnace, holding his left arm round the back of his head, tO'
shield it from the stones, and carrying his musket under his
right. An islander, armed with a club, was seen in a crouching
posture cautiously following him, as if watching for an opportu-
nity to spring forward upon his victim. This man was a relation of
the king's, and remarkably agile and quick. At length he jumped
forward upon the captain, and struck him a heavy blow on the
back of his head, and then turned and fled. The captain appeared
to be somewhat stunned. He staggered a few paces, and, drop-
ping his musket, fell on his hands and one knee; but whilst
striving to recover his upright position, another islander rushed
forward, and with an iron dagger stabbed him in the neck. He
again made an effort to proceed, but fell into a small pool of
water not more than knee-deep, and numbers instantly ran to
the spot, and endeavoured to keep him down ; but by his
struggles he was enabled to g'et his head above the surface, and
casting a look towards the pinnace (then not more than five or
six yards distant), seemed to be imploring assistance. It is
asserted that, in consequence of the crowded state of the pinnace
(through the withdrawal of the launch), the crew of that boat
were unable to render any aid : but it is also probable that the
emergency of this unexpected catastrophe deprived the English
of that cool judgment which was requisite on such an occasion.
The islanders, perceiving that no help w^as afforded, forced him
under water again, but in a deeper place ; yet his great muscular
power once more enabled him to raise himself and cling to the
rock. At this moment a forcible blow was given with a club, and
he fell down lifeless. The savages then hauled his corpse upon
the rock, and ferociously stabbed the body all over, snatching
the dagger from each others' hands to wreak their sanguinary
vengeance on the slain. The body was left some time exposed
upon the rock ; and as the islanders gave way, through terror at
their own act and the fire from the boats, it might have been
recovered entire. But no attempt of the kind was made ; and it
was afterwards, together with the marines, cut up, and the parts
distributed amongst the chiefs. The mutilated fragments were


subsequently restored, and committed to the deep with all the
honours due to the rank of the deceased. Thus (February 14,
1779) perished in an ing-lorious brawl with a set of savages, one
of Eng-land's greatest navig'ators, whose services to science have
never been surpassed by any man belonging' to his profession.
It may almost be said that he fell a victim to his humanity ; for
if, instead of retreating before his barbarous pursuers with a
view to s|)are their lives, he had turned revengefully upon them,,
his fate might have been very different.

The death of their commander was felt to be a heavy blow by
the officers and seamen of the expedition. With deep sorrow
the ships' comjDanies left Owhyhee, where the catastrophe had.
occurred, the command of the Resolution devolving on Captain
Gierke, and Mr Gore acting" as commander of the Discovery^
After making some further exploratory searches among the
Sandwich Islands, the vessels visited Kamschatka and Behring's
Straits. Here it was found impossible to penetrate through the
ice either on the coast of America or that of Asia, so that they
returned to the southward ; and on the 22d August 1779 Captain
Clerke died of consumption, and was succeeded by Captain.
Gore, who in his turn gave Lieutenant King an acting order in
the Discovery. After a second visit to Kamschatka, the two
ships returned by way of China, remained some time at Can-
ton, touched at the Cape, and arrived at the Nore, 4th October
1780, after an absence of four years, two months, and twenty-
two days, during which the Resolution lost only five men by
sickness, and the Discovery did not lose a sing'le man.

By this, as well as the preceding" voyages of Cook, a consider-
able addition was made to a knowledge of the earth's surface.
Besides clearing up doubts respecting the Southern Ocean, and
making known many islands in the Pacific, the navigator did
an inestimable service to his country in visiting the coasts of
New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land, New Zealand, and Nor-
folk Island — all now colonial possessions of Britain, and which
promise at no distant day to become the seat of a large and
flourishing nation of Anglo-Australians — the England of the
southern hemisphere.

The intelligence of Captain Cook's death was received with
melancholy regrets in Eng-land. The king granted a pension of
£200 per annum to his widow, and £25 per annum to each of
the children; the Royal Society had a gold medal struck in
commemoration of him ; and various other honours at home and
abroad were paid to his memory. "Thus, by his own persevering'
efforts," as has been well observed by the author of the Pursuit
of Knowledge Under Difficulties, " did this great man raise
himself from the lowest obscurity to a reputation wide as the
world itself, and certain to last as long as the age in which he
flourished shall be remembered by history. But better still than
even all this fame — than either the honours which he received



■n-hile living, or those which, when he was no more, his country
and mankind bestowed upon his memory — he had exalted him-
self in the scale of moral and intellectual being- ; had won for
himself, by his unwearied striving-, a new and nobler nature, and
taken a high place among- the instructors and best benefactors of
mankind. This alone is true happiness — the one worthy end of
human exertion or ambition — the only satisfying- reward of all
labour, and study, and virtuous activity or endurance. Among-
the shipmates with whom Cook mixed when he first went to sea,
there was perhaps no one who ever either raised himself above
the condition to Avhich he then belonged in point of outward cir-
cumstances, or enlarged in any considerable degree the knowledge
©r mental resources he then possessed. And some will perhaps say
that this was little to be regretted, at least on their own account ;
that the many who spent their lives in their original sphere
were probably as happy as the one who succeeded in rising above
it : but this is, indeed, to cast a hasty g'lance on human life and
human nature. That man was never truly happy — happy upon
reflection, and while looking to the past or the future — who could
not say to himself that he had made something of the faculties
God gave him, and had not lived altogether without progression,
like one of the inferior animals. We do not speak of mere wealth
or station ; these are comparatively nothing ; are as often missed
as attained, even by those who best merit them ; and do not of
themselves constitute happiness when they are possessed. But
there must be some consciousness of an intellectual or moral
2jrogress, or there can be no satisfaction, no self-congratulation
on reviewing what of life may be already gone, no hope in the
prospect of what is yet to come. All men feel this, and feel it
strongly ; and if they could secure for themselves the source of
happiness in question by a wish, would avail themselves of the
privilege with sufficient alacrity. Nobody would pass his life in
ignorance, if knowledge might be had by merely looking up to
the clouds for it : it is the labour necessary for its acquirement
that scares them ; and this labour they have not resolution to
encounter. Yet it is, in truth, from the exertion by which it
must be obtained that knowledge derives at least half its value ;
lor to this entirely we owe the sense of merit in ourselves which
the acquisition brings along with it ; and hence no little of the
happiness of which we have just described its possession to be the
source : besides that, the labour itself soon becomes an enjo}' -
ment." Let these observations meet with a ready reception
among youth, in whatever rank in life. Honour and fame are
not to be achieved by seeking for them alone^ nor are their pos-
session the end and aim of human existence. It is only by an
unwearied strivinr/ after a new and nobler nature ; only by being
useful to our fellows, and making the most of those qualities of
mind which God has given us, that happiness is to be attained,
or that we fulfil the ends of our being.



HE horse is universally acknowledged to be one of
the noblest members of the animal kingdom. Pos-
sessing the finest symmetry, and unencumbered by
those external appendages which characterise many
the larger quadrupeds, his frame is a perfect model
of elegance and concentrated energy. Highly sensitive,
yet exceedingly tractable, proud, yet persevering, natu-
"-J^ rally of a roaming disposition, yet readily accommodating
himself to domestic conditions, he has been one of the most
valuable aids to human civilisation — associating with man in
all phases of his progress from the temporary tent to the per-
manent city.

By his physical structure, the horse is fitted for dry open
plains that yield a short sweet herbage. His hoof is not adapted
to the swamp ; and though he may occasionally be seen brows-
ing on tender shoots, yet he could subsist neither in the jungle
nor in the forest. His lips and teeth, however, are admirably
formed for cropping the shortest grass, and thus he luxuriates
where many other herbivorous animals would starve, provided
he be supplied with water, of which he is at all times a liberal
drinker. He cannot crush his food like the hippopotamus, nor
does he ruminate like the ox ; but he grinds the herbage with
a peculiar lateral motion of the jaw, which looks not unlike the
action of a millstone. Delighting in the river-plain and open
glade, the savannahs of America, the steppes of Asia, and the
plains of Europe, must be regarded as his head-quarters in a wild
state. There is doubt expressed, however, as to the original
No. 41. 1


locality of the horse. The wild herds of America are looked upon
as the descendants of Spanish breeds imported by the first con-
querors of that continent ; those of the Ukraine, in Europe, are
said to be the progeny of Russian horses abandoned after the
siege of Azoph in 1696 ; and even those of Tartary are regarded
as coming from a more southern stock. Naturalists therefore look
to the countries bordering on Eg'ypt, as in all likelihood the pri-
mitive place of residence of this noble animal ; and there is no
doubt that the Arabian breed, when perfectly pure, presents the
finest specimen of a horse in symmetry, docility, and courag'e.
Regarding the horse as of Asiatic origin, we now find him asso-
ciated with man in almost every region of the habitable globe.
Like the dog', ox, sheep, and a few others of the brute creation,

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 4 of 59)