CHAPTER XLI

THE START FOR THE SOUTH SEA.

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PREPARATIONS for the voyage to Otaheite, to observe the transit of Venus, were made on an elaborate scale, and Captain Cook wanted for nothing to make the object of his visit to the island a success, or the accomplishment of a circumnavigation of the globe, which was one of his ambitions. Just before sailing, and while lying in Plymouth Sound waiting for a favorable wind, the ship's company was paid two months' wages in advance and were told to expect no additional pay for their services on the voyage. On Friday, August 26th, 1768, the wind becoming fair, Cook's ship set her sails and did not throw her anchor until she came into the roads at Funchal, capital of Madeira Island, where the first accident happened in the drowning of Mr. Wier, the master's mate. Here the scientists of the expedition, Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, spent several days familiarizing themselves with the geology of the island.

With a fresh supply of provisions Cook departed from Madeira September 19th, and without adventure reached Rio de Janeiro on the 14th of October. At the time of Cook's visit to the chief city of Brazil, Portuguese occupation and government had served to civilize the country, so that the customs of the people there are not described by the great navigator, nor would such report be particularly interesting if he had; but he took occasion to make some pointed observations on the Brazilian women, whose favors were gladly granted for no other reward than the asking.

Having been detained by the freakishness and suspicion of the Viceroy, Cook did not leave Rio de Janeiro until early in December, when he set his course southward to make a passage round Cape Horn. On the nth a large shark was hooked which was brought on board with much difficulty and from which six young sharks were taken that swam swiftly about when placed in a tub of water.

LOST IN THE MOUNTAINS OF TERRE DEL FUEGO.

On the nth of January, 1769, the coast of Terre del Fuego was sighted. Five days later the ship came to anchor in Magellan Strait where Cook was directly after visited by a large number of natives, among whom was a chief, or exorcist, who went about the ship and at every surprising thing he saw he would shout with all his might; the object
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of this singular manifestation Cook was unable to understand, but that it was connected with some superstitious belief he had no reason to doubt. After examining the ship the several visitors returned on shore and did not come back again. While lying here the two scientists, Banks and Solander, with ten seamen went on shore to make investigations, but wandering up into the mountains they were overtaken by a snow storm and such severe cold that though this was summer time in that region, two of the number perished before they could find their way back to the ship.

After recovering from the effects of their exposure, the two scientists visited a village of some fourteen huts occupied by some fifty persons. The cold continued very severe, but the natives appeared to be comfortable though they wore no clothing save a guanaco or seal skin thrown over the shoulders and a small flap in place of the traditional fig leaf; thus a greater part of their bodies was nude, though decorated with much paint. Their huts were made of poles and grass, constructed in the crudest manner and set in circular shape with about one-eighth of the circle left open, thus exposing the occupants to chilly blasts which might freely enter. These Terre del Fuegans, as many other travellers have verified, are the real pigmies of the human race, the men rarely exceeding five and one-half feet in height, while the women average less than five feet.

AN EXTRAORDINARY CUTTLE-FISH.

On the 22d of January Cook weighed anchor and continued his voyage, proceeding around Cape Horn, which he doubled in thirty-six days. After leaving sight of land the ship was surrounded by birds, of which Mr. Banks killed sixty-two in one day, and he also discovered floating on the water a cuttle-fish of extraordinary size, believed to have been killed a short time before by the savage attacks of gulls and albatrosses. In describing this wonderful animal Mr. Banks says: "It is very different from the cuttle-fish that are found in the European seas; for its arms, instead of suckers, were furnished with a double row of very sharp talons, which resembled those of a cat and, like them, were retractible into a sheath of skin from which they might be thrust at pleasure. Of this cuttle-fish we made
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one of the best soups we had ever tasted." We may observe that this description in nowise accords with that given by other scientists of cuttle-fishes found in any part of the world's waters. In this instance, therefore, Drs. Banks and Solander may be credited with a discovery which has never since been, nor is likely to be verified.

On the 4th of April the first land was discovered after leaving Terre del Fuego, which proved to be a coral island, lagoon shaped, and one of the numerous Polynesian group. No landing was made, and thereafter several islands were passed from day to day, all of which were inhabited by naked people who were armed with bows and spears, some of the latter being as much as fourteen feet in length.

RECEPTION AT OTAHEITE.

Ten days later the Endeavor reached her destination and came to anchor in Port Royal Bay at Otaheite, or Tahiti, first called King George the Third Island. Here Cook was immediately visited by many of the islanders, who brought young plantains and branches of the tree as tokens of peace and amity. As the stay here was to be for a considerable time, Capt. Cook drew up a code and set of rules to govern those connected with the expedition in their intercourse
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with the natives. The commander and the two scientists, Banks and Solander, accompanied by a party of armed men then went on shore, where they were hospitably received by some hundred of the inhabitants, who signified their welcome of the white men by crouching so low as to appear to approach on their hands and knees. "It is remarkable" says Capt. Cook, "that the people in the canoes presented to us the same symbol of peace that is known to have been in use among the ancients and mighty nations of the northern hemisphere, the green branches of a tree. We took it with looks and gestures of kindness and satisfaction. On observing that each of them held one in his hand, we immediately gathered every one a branch and carried it in our hands in the same manner."

KILLING OF A NATIVE.

On April 15th a suitable location was found for the building of a fort in which six swivel guns were mounted. The work of erecting an observatory was next begun, when the natives perceiving how they might make their services valuable, lent a hearty, voluntary assistance, in which work they were encouraged by their Chiefs, Tubourę Tamaide, and Tootahah; but just before beginning the erection of the observatory and defence, and in the temporary absence of Cook and the two scientists, a difficulty occurred over the theft of a musket by one of the natives, who was pursued and shot to death by the sentry. This tragic incident did not, however, incite any hostility on the part of the islanders, and three days afterwards Captain Cook, Banks and Solander discovered what disposition had been made of the body of the murdered man and, incidentally, the customs of the natives. Concerning these funeral customs, Cook says: ''I found the shed under which his body lay, close by the house in which he resided when he was alive, some others being not more than ten yards distant. It was about fifteen feet long and eleven broad, and of a proportional height. One end was wholly open, and the other end and the two sides were partly enclosed with a kind of wicker-work.

"The bier on which the corpse was deposited was a frame like that in which the sea-beds, called cots, are placed, with a matted bottom and supported by four posts at the height of about five feet from the ground. The body was covered first with a mat and then with white cloth. By the side of it lay a wooden mace, one of their weapons of war, and near the head of it, which lay next to the closed end of the shed, lay two cocoa-nut shells such as are sometimes used to carry water in. At the other end a bunch of green leaves with some dried twigs all tied together, was stuck in the ground, by which lay a stone about as big as a cocoa-nut. Near these lay one of the young plantain trees, which are used as emblems of peace, and close by it a stone axe. At the other end of the shed also hung in several strings a great number of palm nuts, and without the shed was stuck upright in the ground a stem of the plantain tree about five feet high, upon the top of which was placed a cocoa-nut shell full of fresh water. Against the side of one of the posts hung a small bag containing a few pieces of bread-fruit ready roasted, which were not all put in at the same time, for some of them were fresh and others stale. We supposed the food was placed there for the spirit of the deceased, and consequently that these Indians had some confused notion of a separate state; but upon our applying for further information to Tubourę Tamaide, he told us the food was placed there as an offering to the gods. They do not, however, suppose that the gods eat, any more than the Jews suppose Jehovah could dwell in a house. The offering is made here upon the same principle as the temple was built at Jerusalem, as an expression of reverence and gratitude, and a solicitation of the more immediate presence of the Deity. In the front of the area was a kind of style, where the relations of the deceased stood, to pay the tribute of their sorrow, and under the awning were innumerable small pieces of cloth, on which the tears and blood of the mourners had been shed; for in their paroxsym of grief it is a universal custom to wound themselves with shark's teeth."

On May 2d, the observatory having been completed, Mr. Solander prepared to fix the astronomical quadrant in position when to his amazement he found it was missing. Without this instrument the chief object of the expedition could not be accomplished, so learning through chief Tamaide that the quadrant had been stolen by a native, Mr. Banks and Green set out to recover it; but this was by no means an easy matter for they had to pursue the thief for a distance of seven miles into the interior before they came up with him, and then were able to secure the instrument only by a threatening show of their pistols.

AN ENTERTAINMENT PROVIDED BY THE NATIVES.

While the two went in pursuit of the thief, there was much restlessness exhibited by the Islanders about the fort, which seemed to indicate hostility, to prevent which, Tootahah was held as a hostage until the return of the instrument, when he was immediately released. Thinking it was the intention of his captors to execute him, when Tootahah was set free his gratitude was so great that he provided a novel entertainment for the whites, which was attended not only by
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Cook and his men, but also by the Island Queen, and five hundred of her subjects. The amusement thus provided consisted of boxing, fencing and wrestling matches between the best athletes of the district, and of singular dances which were performed by the men alone. After these were concluded a generous repast was served of pork, bread-fruit, cocoa-nut and other provisions.

The observation of the transit of Venus was successfully made from two points, on separate islands, but while the astronomers were making their calculations one of the ship's store rooms was broken into by some of the crew and a hundred pounds of nails, which constituted the prime article of exchange with the natives, was stolen. Only one of the culprits was afterwards discovered; for two dozen lashes failed to extort from him the names of his accomplices.

Though the published object of the voyage was accomplished, Cook and his companions were in no haste to leave a spot so arcadian and they continued on the island a considerable while to familiarize themselves with the customs of the natives, who though practiced and irrepressible thieves, were always good natured and generous.

On the 12th of June, Tamaide, the Chief, brought his bow to exhibit his dexterity in its use. Singular enough, he made no claim to skill as a marksman, but prided himself on the extraordinary flight of his arrows, which, though unfeathered, he discharged a distance of 274 yards, or nearly one-sixth of a mile. When shooting, the natives invariably knelt down and dropped the bow immediately it was discharged.

A BAND OF NATIVE MINSTRELS.

On the same day near the spot where the bow practice had been given Mr. Banks met a small strolling band of musicians whose instruments consisted of two flutes and three drums, the latter made of a hollow cylindrical block closed at one end and the other covered with shark's skin. Their appearance was the signal for the collection of a crowd, and when a circle of auditors was formed the players began, their selections consisting of improvised songs with occasional taps on their instruments by the drummers, accompanied by the flutists, who instead of using the mouth employed their nostrils. In this connection I may add that I myself once saw a minstrel adjust two flutes to his nostrils and play them both at one time with great skill while he smoked a cigar. On nearly all the islands of the Pacific the flute and fife players use their nostrils instead of their mouths which appear to be equally well adapted for the purpose.

There are several islands in the Society Group, of which Otaheite is the largest, and Cook improved the opportunity to visit nearly all of them. He found them generally under distinct governments, each having its own king, though nearly all acknowledged more or less authority to Oberea, who was queen of Otaheite at the time of Cook's visit.

At one of the islands thus visited Cook and his companions discovered in a long house a semi-circular board to which was hung fifteen human jaw-bones, so fresh in appearance that he was convinced that they were from victims killed not very long before, but his curiosity to know the evidently cruel circumstances of which the jaw-bones were a memorial the natives could not or would not satisfy. On the following day however he learned that three or four weeks before his arrival on the island a descent had been made on the people of that place by the natives of the south-east peninsula of Otaheite, who had massacred a number of the surprised inhabitants, burned their houses and carried away their hogs, fowls and provisions. The jaw-bones found in the long house had been taken from some of these victims, the custom of the islanders being to preserve such relics as trophies of their prowess.

SAILORS FALL IN LOVE WITH THE GIRLS.

On July 13th, after a delightful stay of three months, Cook ordered the anchors of the Endeavor weighed and under a favorable breeze he departed from Otaheite, taking with him a chief named Tupia, who urged his desire to accompany the expedition to at least some of the other islands in the Pacific. The parting which followed was on both sides a sad and affecting one. Some of the sailors had fallen in love with the pretty native girls, and two deserted and fled into the mountains determined never to leave the island, having as they declared taken wives from among the fairest of the Otaheitans; but after a search of three days they were arrested and brought back on board. Queen Oberea, whose favors had been secured by the present of a doll, joined with her people in earnest lamentations for the departure of their visitors, and several of the women manifested their sorrow by mutilating their scalps with sharks' teeth, which was a common means employed by the natives to exhibit their grief and was occasionally employed to show a common sorrow.

Captain Cook furnishes the following description of the islanders of Otaheite: "As to the people, they are of the largest size of Europeans. The men are tall, strong, well limbed and finely shaped. The tallest we saw was a man on a neighboring island called Huahene, who measured six feet three inches and a half. The women of the superior rank are in general about our middle stature, but those of the inferior class are rather below it and some of them are very small. This defect in size probably proceeds from their early commerce with men, the only thing in which they differ from their superiors that could possibly affect their growth. Their complexion is that kind of clear olive, or brunette, which many people in Europe prefer to the finest white and red. In those that are exposed to the wind and sun it is considerably weakened, but in others that live under shelter, especially the superior class of women, it continues of its native hue and the skin is most delicately smooth and soft. They have no tint in their cheeks which we distinguish by the name of color. The shape of the face is comely; the cheek bones are not high, neither are the eyes hollow nor the brow prominent, and their breath is without taint."

Of their domestic customs and morals Cook gives us this surprising picture :

"In other countries, the girls and unmarried women are supposed to be wholly ignorant of what others upon some occasions may appear to know; and their conversation and conduct are consequently more restrained within narrow bounds, and kept at a more remote distance from whatever relates to a connection with the other sex, but there it is just the contrary. Among other diversions, there is a dance called timorodee, which is performed by young girls whenever eight or ten of them can be collected together, consisting of motions and gestures beyond imagination wanton, in which they have been brought up from their earliest childhood, accompanied by words which, if it were possible, would more explicitly convey the same ideas. In these dances they keep time with an exactness which is scarcely excelled by the best performers upon the stage of Europe; but the practice which is allowed to the virgin is prohibited to the woman from the moment that she has put the hopeful lessons in practice, and realized the symbols of the dance."