CAPTAIN COOK'S THIRD VOYAGE.
Cook did not discover a southern continent, but he did the next best thing, in pretty thoroughly satisfying his supporters that no such continent existed, hence a failure of his immediate object resulted in a discovery of little less consequence; for it served to settle a speculation, which, if continued, must have cost a great deal of treasure, with no other determination. But as public belief in the existence of a southern continent was dispelled, that in the existence of a sea route by the way of the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and China, directly absorbed public interest as a substitute. And the government of England, recognizing in Cook the first navigator of the period, signified a desire that he accept a commission to go in quest of the supposititious North-west Passage. Great interest was taken in the proposed expedition, and in preparing it the Earl of Sandwich took a leading part, attending personally to seeing that the equipment was in accordance with all of Cook's wishes.
The Resolution, which had performed such excellent service in the expedition from which Cook had just returned, was thought to be the best ship that could be had for the purpose, and was accordingly selected for the third voyage, now about to be undertaken. Another vessel, the Discovery, of 300 tons, was purchased and put into like commission, and Captain Clerke was appointed to the command. Besides a vast store of provisions for the crew, the ships took on several head of cattle, goats, hogs, poultry, and dogs, with which to stock certain islands that were believed might be made valuable some time for British commerce. Besides the crews there were scientists, naturalists, artists, astronomers, and the young man, Omai, whom Captain Furneaux had taken from the island Huaheine, of the Society Group, to be educated in England. This young man, though of a quick intelligence, had been only an attendant of the Otaheite King, and hence could hardly have been expected to exercise any great influence upon his people after his return to them, even though they should recognize how superior his qualifications had been made by long contact with English civilization. But a greater mistake than the selecting for such a purpose one of the common people of the island, was the character of the education he received.
AN OTAHEITAN AT THE ENGLISH COURT.
Being the first native of the South Sea Islands brought to England, Omai was sought after as a wonder, and became the "lion" of a season; he was introduced to fashionable parties, conducted to splendid entertainments of the highest classes, and presented at court. In all these positions, the pliancy natural to the Otaheitans and their congeners, enabled him to preserve a perfect propriety of demeanor, and his naturally lively disposition rendered him, with his imperfect English (a language varying so much from the idiom of his native tongue, as to render its perfect acquirement very difficult), an exceedingly entertaining guest. As such he was welcomed everywhere, and was carried about from one public exhibition to another, without time being allowed him to comprehend any; but no effort was made to instruct him in any useful art, or to enable him to comprehend the wonders he beheld, or the condition of the society by which he was surrounded. Of all those who took an interest in him, Mr. Granville Sharp alone exerted himself to turn his attention to rational pursuits, by teaching him to write, and instructing him in some degree in the principles of Christianity.
When he departed from England, he was loaded with presents, but few of which were calculated to be of real service. He carried with him a coat-of-mail, a suit of armor, a musket, pistol, cartouch-box, cutlasses, powder and ball, a portable organ and an electrical machine; but no implements of agriculture or useful tools are included in the catalogue of his treasures. Captain Cook procured for him a grant of land, on which a house in the European style was erected for him; and he was furnished with seeds, plants, horses, goats, and other useful animals. His warlike stores rendered him a man of consequence to the King, who gave him his daughter in marriage, and honored him with the name of Paari (wise, or instructed), by which name, Mr. Ellis informs us, he was ever afterwards spoken of by the natives. So far, however, from becoming the instructor or improver of his people, he seems to have sunk into the mere compliant tool of the King, who, Mr. Ellis states, "not only availed himself of the effects of his fire-arms in periods of war, but frequently ordered him to shoot at a man at a certain distance, in order to see how far the musket would do execution, or to despatch with his pistol, in the presence of the King, the ill-fated objects of his deadly anger."
Cook took his departure from Plymouth Sound on the 16th of July, 1776, and reached Teneriffe on the 31st, where he made a short stay to procure subsistence for the animals that he had on board. Departing again on the 4th of August, he steered directly for Good Hope, which he did not reach until November the 18th, owing to heavy weather, adverse winds, and leaky ships. He remained here until the 30th of November, repairing his ships and rigging, when at last weighing anchor, he stood for Christmas Sound, calling at Kerguelen's Land on the way, where a large number of seals, penguins, and other birds were killed for food, and a good supply of fresh water taken on. His stay in Christmas Sound was a short one, and from this point Cook set his course due west for Van Dieman's Land, the coast of which he came in sight of on the 24th of January. A landing having been made, Cook was met on shore by eight natives, all naked and unarmed, who, however, exhibited no signs of fear of their visitors, until a gun was discharged, when they all immediately retreated to the deep woods. After a couple of days' stay at Van Dieman's Land, Cook induced others of the natives to visit him, and he was thus enabled to determine something of their habits.
AMONG THE NATIVES OF VAN DIEMAN'S LAND.
Their only weapon seemed to be a sharpened stick, and as they had no canoes, it was evident that they did little fishing or hunting, but subsisted chiefly on shell fish and such small game as they were able to take with the hands or traps. The women were sometimes seen to wear a kangaroo skin; not, however, as clothing, but rather in which to support their infants, because the skin was never drawn about the body so as to cover that portion which needs concealment most. Nor was it understood how the kangaroos thus stripped of their skins were captured, though most likely by some kind of trap. As to their habitations, Cook says: "What the ancient poet tells us of Fauns and Satyrs living in hollow trees, is here realized. Some wretched construction of sticks, covered with bark, which do not even deserve the name of huts, were indeed found near the shore in the bay; but these seemed only to have been erected for temporary purposes, and many of their largest trees were converted into more comfortable habitations. These had their trunks hollowed out by fire, to the height of six or seven feet; and that they take up their abode in them sometimes was evident from the hearths, made of clay, to contain the fire in the middle, leaving room for four or five persons to sit round it. At the same time these places of shelter are durable, for they take care to leave one side of the tree sound, which is sufficient to keep it growing as luxuriantly as those which remain untouched."
PARTICULARS OF THE MASSACRE OF FURNEAUX'S MEN.
Departure was made from Van Diemen's Land January 30th, 1777, and on the 10th following New Zealand was sighted, and the ships were run into Queen Charlotte's Sound. Here Cook was greeted by a very large party of natives, who, finding that it was his intention to remain in the sound awhile to beach and overhaul his ship, began directly the erection of huts, and so expeditiously did they work that in an hour, says Cook, a large village was built, covering nearly all of the considerable level grass ground near the ship. As the natives appeared peaceably disposed Cook, though at no time relaxing his vigilance, made a visit to Grass Cove, the scene of the massacre of Captain Furneaux's men, with the hope of gaining particulars from the islanders of that unfortunate affair. Nor was he disappointed, for meeting Pedro, an old chief with whom he had become familiar on a previous visit to the island, he obtained from him an account of the killing somewhat as follows: "While the white people were sitting at dinner, surrounded by several of the natives, some of the latter stole, or snatched from them, some bread and fish, for which they were beat. This being resented a quarrel ensued and two New Zealanders were shot dead by the only two muskets that were fired. For before the white people had time to discharge a third or to load again those that had been fired the natives rushed in upon them, overpowered them with their numbers and put them all to death."
Pedro and his companions, besides relating the history of the massacre, made Cook acquainted with the very spot that was the scene of it. It is at the corner of the cove, on the right hand. They pointed to the place of the sun to mark at what hour of the day it happened, and according to this it must have been late in the afternoon. They also showed him the place where the boat lay, and it appeared to be about two hundred yards distant from that where the crew were seated. One of their number, a black servant of Captain Furneaux, was left in the boat to take care of her. He was afterwards told that the black was the cause of the quarrel, which was said to have happened thus: One of the natives stealing something out of the boat the negro gave him a severe blow with a stick. The cries of the fellow being heard by his countrymen at a distance they imagined he was killed, and immediately began the attack on the whites, who, before they had time to reach the boat or to arm themselves against the unexpected impending danger, fell a sacrifice to the fury of their savage assailants.
SAVAGE FURY OF THE NEW ZEALANDERS.
Shortly afterwards Cook heard this story of the massacre repeated by a participant, and the one too, over whom the bloody fight was begun. This man showed no fear of punishment for his crime. Indeed, he appeared as if justification had exempted him, and he entered freely into a discussion of the tragic event, as well as the devouring of the bodies afterwards. This conversation led to inquiries respecting the manner in which the New Zealanders go to war and their treatment of prisoners, which Cook thus describes: "Before they begin the onset, they join in a war-song, to which they all keep the exactest time, and soon raise their passion to a degree of frantic fury, attended with the most horrid distortion of their eyes, mouths, and tongues, to strike terror into their enemies, which, to those who have not been accustomed to such a practice, makes them appear more like demons than men, and would almost chill the boldest with fear. To this succeeds a circumstance, almost foretold in their fierce demeanor, horrid, cruel, and disgraceful to human nature: which is, cutting in pieces, even before being perfectly dead, the bodies of their enemies, and after dressing them on a fire, devouring the flesh, not only without reluctance, but with peculiar satisfaction."
Cook weighed anchor on the 24th of February, 1777, and set his course towards Otaheite, but en route he discovered the islands of Mangeea and Wateeoo, at both of which he landed, and held some intercourse with the natives. At the latter, Lieutenant Burney, Omai, and two others of the crew, who had gone on shore, were entertainted by a dance performed by a score of elegantly formed and remarkably smooth-skinned women, whose beauty was much enhanced by long ringlets of jet black hair which fell in great profusion down their backs, and which constituted nearly their only dress. Some, however, wore a piece of glazed cloth about the waist reaching to the knees, but few of them were so amply clothed. At this island, Omai found three of his countrymen, the remnant of a party of twenty, who, while passing from Otaheite to Ulitea, had been driven out to sea by a gale, and after days of famishment, their canoe was capsized, in which disaster only four survived by being cast upon the shore of Wateeoo, while one of these died soon after.
A WONDERFUL ENTERTAINMENT AT HAPAEE.
After leaving Wateeoo Cook discovered several other islands, chiefly of coral formation, the natives of which he found to greatly resemble the Otaheitans. At Hapaee, a group some fifty miles from the Friendly Islands, Cook landed, and found the natives so amicably disposed and provisions there so abundant that he concluded to remain for a space of five days, which time he profitably employed, and was pleasantly diverted by the islanders. Directly upon going ashore he was hospitably received by several hundreds of the natives, headed by their chief, and after cordial salutations had been passed, provision was made for a magnificent entertainment of the white visitors. Some hundreds of the natives, after retiring for an hour or so, returned, laden with yams, bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, and sugar-cane, which they deposited in two heaps, intending that one pile should be a gift to Omai, and the other to Captain Cook. Among other articles there were also two pigs and six fowls afterwards placed in one of the piles, and six pigs and two turtles were added to the other. As soon as this munificent collection of provisions was laid down in order, and disposed to the best advantage, the bearers joined the multitude, who formed a large circle around the whole. What afterwards followed, Cook thus describes:--
"Presently, a number of men entered this circle or area before us, armed with clubs, made of the green branches of the cocoa-nut tree. These paraded about for a few minutes, and then retired, the one half to one side, and the other half to the other side, seating themselves before the spectators. Soon after they successively entered the lists, and entertained us with single combats. One champion, rising up and stepping forward from one side, challenged those of the other side, by expressive gestures more than by words, to send one of their body to oppose him. If the challenge was accepted, which was generally the case, the two combatants put themselves in proper attitudes, and then began the engagement, which continued till one or other owned himself conquered, or till their weapons were broken. As soon as each combat was over, the victor squatted himself down facing the chief, then rose up and retired. At the same time some old men, who seemed to sit as judges, gave their plaudits in a few words; and the multitude, especially those on the side to which the victor belonged, celebrated the glory he had acquired by two or three huzzas. This entertainment was now and then suspended for a few minutes. During these intervals there were both wrestling and boxing matches. The first were performed in the same manner as at Otaheite, and the second
This entertainment having been concluded, the large store of provisions, which loaded four boats, was removed on shipboard, in return for which Cook distributed a considerable quantity of articles, which greatly pleased the chief and the people.
A GREAT DANCE.
Feenou, who appeared to be King of Hapaee islands, then expressed to Cook a desire to see his marines go through their military exercise, to gratify which, Cook ordered 105 of his men to go on shore; and they performed various evolutions, accompanied by the firing of muskets, which so pleased the King that he in turn provided another
"The musical instruments consisted of two drums, or rather two hollow logs of wood, from which some varied notes were produced by beating on them with two sticks. It did not, however, appear to me that the dancers were much directed or assisted by these sounds, but by a chorus of vocal music in which all the performers joined at the same time. Their song was not destitute of pleasing melody, and all their corresponding motions were executed with so much skill that the numerous body of dancers seemed to act as if they were one great machine. It was the opinion of every one of us that such a performance would have met with universal applause on a European theatre; and it so far exceeded any attempt we had made to entertain them that they seemed to pique themselves upon the superiority they had over us. As to our musical instruments, they held none of them in the least esteem, except the drum, and even that they did not think equal to their own. Our French horns, in particular, seemed to be held in great contempt, for neither here nor at any of the other islands would they pay the smallest attention to them. In order to give a more favorable opinion of English amusements, and to leave their minds fully impressed with the deepest sense of our superior attainments, I directed some fire-works to be got ready, and after it was dark played them off in the presence of Feenou, the other chiefs and a vast concourse of their people. Some of the preparations we found damaged, but others of them were in excellent order, and succeeded so perfectly as to answer the end I had in view. Our water- and sky-rockets, in particular, pleased and astonished them beyond all conception, and the scale was now turned in our favor.
A BAND OF BAMBOO PLAYERS.
"This, however, seemed only to furnish them with an additional motive to proceed to fresh exertions of their very singular dexterity, and our fire-works were no sooner ended than a succession of dances, which Feenou had got ready for our entertainment, began. As a prelude to them a band of music, or chorus of eighteen men, seated themselves before us, in the centre of the circle composed by the numerous spectators, the area of which was to be the scene of the exhibitions. Four or five of this band had pieces of large bamboo, from three to five or six feet long, each managed by one man, who held it nearly in a vertical position, the upper end open, but the other end closed by one of the joints. With this closed end the performers kept constantly striking the ground, though slowly, thus producing different notes, according to the different lengths of the instruments, but all of them of the hollow or bass sort; to counteract which, a person kept striking quickly, and with two sticks, a piece of the same substance, split, and laid along the ground, and, by that means, furnishing a tone as acute as those produced by the others were grave. The rest of the band, as well as those who performed on the bamboos, sung a low and soft air, which so tempered the harsher notes of the above instruments that no bystander, however accustomed to hear the most varied and perfect modulation of sweet sounds, could avoid confessing the pleasing effect of this simple harmony.
"The concert having continued about a quarter of an hour, twenty women entered the circle. Most of them had upon their heads garlands of the crimson flowers of the China rose, or others; and many of them had ornamented their persons with leaves of trees cut with a great deal of nicety about the edges. They made a circle round the choristers, turning their faces toward them and began by singing a soft air, to which responses were made by the choristers in the same tone; and these were repeated alternately. All this while the women accompanied their song with several very graceful motions of their hands toward their faces, and in other directions at the same time, making constantly a step
"To this grand female ballet succeeded one performed by fifteen men. Some of them were old; but their age seemed to have abated little of their agility or ardor for the dance. They were disposed in a sort of circle, divided at the front, with their faces not turned out toward the assembly, nor inward to the chorus, but one-half of their circle faced forward as they had advanced, and the half in a contrary direction. They sometimes sung slowly in concert with the chorus; and, while thus employed, they also made several very fine motions with their hands, but different from those made by the women, at the same time inclining the body to either side alternately by raising one leg, which was stretched outward and resting on the other; the arm of the same side being also stretched fully upward. At other times they recited sentences in a musical tone, which were answered by the chorus; and at intervals increased the measure of the dance by clapping the hands and quickening the motions of the feet, which, however, were never varied. At the end the rapidity of the music and of the dancing increased so much that it was scarcely possible to distinguish the different movements; though one might suppose the actors were now almost tired, as their performance had lasted nearly half an hour.
THE FEMALE DANCERS PUNISHED.
"After a considerable interval, another act, as we may call it, began. Twelve men now advanced, who placed themselves in double rows fronting each other, but on opposite sides of the circle; and, on one side a man was stationed, who, as if he had been a prompter, repeated several sentences, to which the twelve new performers, and the chorus, replied. They then sung slowly; and afterwards danced and sung more quickly, for about a quarter of an hour, after the manner of the dancers whom they had succeeded. Soon after they had finished, nine women exhibited themselves, and sat down fronting the hut where the chief was. A man then rose, and struck the first of these women on the back, with both fists joined. He proceeded, in the same manner, to the second and third; but when he came to the fourth, whether from accident or design I cannot tell, instead of the back, he struck her on the breast. Upon this, a person rose instantly from the crowd, who brought him to the ground with a blow on the head; and he was carried off without the least noise or disorder. But this did not save the other five women from so odd a discipline, or perhaps necessary ceremony; for a person succeeded him who treated them in the same manner. Their disgrace did not end here; for when they danced they had the mortification to find their performance twice disproved of, and were obliged to repeat it. This dance did not differ much from that of the first women, except in this one circumstance, that the present set sometimes raised the body upon one leg, by a sort of double motion, and then upon the other alternately, in which attitude they kept snapping their fingers; and, at the end, they repeated, with great agility, the brisk movements in which the former group of female dancers had shown themselves so expert.
"In a little time, a person entered unexpectedly, and said something in a ludicrous way about the fire-works that had been exhibited, which extorted a burst of laughter from the multitude. After this, we had a dance composed of men who attended or had followed Feenou. They formed a double circle (i.e. one within another) of twenty-four each, round the choristers, and began a gentle soothing song, with corresponding motions of the hands and head. This lasted a considerable time, and then changed to a much quicker measure, during which they repeated sentences, either in conjunction with the chorus, or in answer to some spoken by that band. They then retreated to the back part of the circle, as the women had done, and again advanced, on each side in a triple row, till they formed a semi-circle, which was done very slowly, by inclining the body on one leg, and advancing the other a little way, as they put it down. They accompanied this with such a soft air as they had sung in the beginning; but soon changed it to repeat sentences in a harsher tone, at the same time quickening the dance very much, till they finished it with a general shout and clap of the hands. The same was repeated several times; but at last they formed a double circle, as at the beginning, danced and repeated very quickly, and finally closed with several very dexterous transpositions of the two circles.
"The entertainments of this memorable night concluded with a dance, in which the principal people present exhibited. It resembled the immediately preceding one in some respects, having the same number of performers, who began nearly in the same way; but their ending at each interval was different. For they increased their motions to a prodigious quickness, shaking their heads from shoulder to shoulder with such force, that a spectator, unaccustomed to the sight, would suppose that they ran a risk of dislocating their necks. This was attended with a smart clapping of the hands, and a kind of savage hallo, or shriek, not unlike what is sometimes practised in the comic dances on our European theatres. They formed the triple semi-circle as the preceding dancers had done; and a person who advanced at the head on one side of the semicircle, began by repeating something in a truly musical recitative, which was delivered with an air so graceful, as might put to the blush our most applauded performers. He was answered in the same manner by the person at the head of the opposite party. This being repeated several times, the whole body on one side joined in the responses to the whole corresponding body on the opposite side, as the semi-circle advanced to the front; and they finished by singing and dancing as they had begun.
"These two last dances were performed with so much spirit, and so great exactness, that they met with universal approbation. The native spectators, who no doubt were perfect judges whether the several performances were properly executed, could not withhold their applauses at some particular parts; and even a stranger who never saw the diversion before, felt similar satisfaction at the same instant. For though, through the whole, the most strict concert was observed, some of the gestures were so expressive, that it might be said they spoke the language that accompanied them, if we allow that there is any connection between motion and sound. At the same time it should be observed, that though the music of the chorus and that of the dancers corresponded, constant practice in these favorite amusements of our friends seems to have a great share in effecting the exact time they keep in their performances. For we observed that if any of them happened accidentally to be interrupted, they never found the smallest difficulty in recovering the proper place of the dance or song. And their perfect discipline was in no instance more remarkable than in the sudden transitions they so dexterously made from the ruder exertions and harsh sounds, to the softest airs and gentlest movements."