Imágenes de páginas

his family, &c., we shall accompany him at once on his fourth and last expedition to the North and South Pacific Indian Ocean, &c. It is however important to add, before parting with the Antarctic, the vessel in which the third voyage was performed, that she had no ardent spirits on board during the whole time: what is better, is, that the Captain's experience on this occasion, proves that the breach of bad habits, necessarily occasioned by such a length of privation, is attended with the best effect; and the crew, who were thus compelled to abstain for two years from liquor, lost all taste for it during their lives.

On the 2nd September, 1829, Captain Morrell, accompanied on this occasion by his wife, at her own earnest solicitation, proceeded in the Antarctic from Sandy Hook Light, the Cape de Verd Islands being the first place at which they were destined to rest. This part of the voyage was disastrous, as nearly all on board, including the captain's lady, were struck with a fever. Several on board died; but the disease disappeared before the arrival of the ship at Tristan d'Acunha, one of three islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. From this they proceeded to the Auckland group, of the natural history of which the captain gives us a very elaborate account. These islands once abounded in numerous herds of fur and hair seal; but the English and American seamen have nearly exhausted the breed completely; for, whilst in 1823, Captain Johnston, in an American ship, took from one of these islands about thirteen thousand good fur-seal skins; in 1830 there was not a single fur-seal to be found there. From these islands the Antarctic sailed towards New Zealand, and anchored at a short distance from Molyneux Harbour. As New Zealand is at present an object of considerable attention, on account of its production of an excellent species of flax, we shall not hesitate to present to our readers the account which Captain Morrell has collected concerning its inhabitants. He states, that they have some excellent domestic habits, and evince extraordinary ingenuity in a few arts. Having no metallic vessels for boiling their food, they contrive to cook their fern-root and their potatoes by means of two hollow stones, in which they first put the roots, surrounded by a few moist leaves of some well-flavoured plant, and then applying the hollow sides of the stones to one another, heat them thoroughly for a due length of time, at the end of which the contents are well stewed and palatable food. They make wooden vessels, and carve them with much taste; cultivate their fields with great neatness, with nothing but a wooden spade; construct large and well-finished canoes; and prepare fishing-tackle and other implements in a wonderful manner, considering their limited means and want of tools. Their principal mechanical tool is formed in the shape of an adze, and is made of the serpent-stone, or jasper. Their chisels and gouges are generally made of the same material, but sometimes of a black solid stone, similar to the jasper. Their masterpiece of ingenuity is carving, which they display on the most tri. vial objects, as well as in the elegant figure-heads of their canoes, &c. Their cordage for fishing-lines, nets, &c., is not inferior to the finest we have in this country, and their nets are admirably made. A bit of flint, or a shell, is their only substitute for a knife, and a shark's tooth, fixed in a piece of wood, serves for an auger or gimlet. They also fix on a piece of wood, nicely carved, a row of large shark's teeth, setting them in a line, and their sharp edges all one way. This answers for a saw, which they use in their carpenterwork, and also for the purpose of cutting up the bodies of their enemies who are slain in battle. Their wars are conducted with the utmost ferocity. They have short spears, which they throw like javelins, from a distance; long ones, which they use as lances; and a broad, thick, sharp-edged weapon of stone, called patoo-patoo, with which they strike each other in close combat, and which sometimes cleaves the skull at a single blow. They devour the bodies of their enemies, but not from a physical appetite or relish for human flesh, as many suppose. Such an appetite or relish was never yet experienced by any cannibal that ever existed. The horrid rite is performed merely to appease a moral appetite, far more voracious than that of hunger. It is done to express the extent of their hate, their vengeance, or, rather, an insatiable malice, that would pursue its victim beyond the confines of the grave; for, it is an article of their religious creed, that the soul of a man thus devoured is doomed to eternal fire.

In latitude 4° 50' 30" south, and longitude 156° 10 30" east, the Antarctic cast anchor near an island, for the purpose of fishing on the coast, which

appeared to be well supplied with the species coveted by the crew, The natives were easily conciliated, and were ultimately induced to become familiar with the people of the ship; the captain called one of them, who seemed to induence the rest, by the name of Nero, and when he landed on a visit to the island, it was at Nero's place of residence that he was received. Nothing could equal the kindness that was heaped upon the captain when in the midst of the natives. Men and women, as they were, stripped off their most valuable ornaments and gave them to the captain and his attendants. Nero even offered him assistance in preparing a situation in a part of the island for carrying on the fishery, and nothing could be more fortunate, to all appearance, than the accident which brought the ship into such favourable circumstances. The captain, with the fullest approbation of the heads of the island, had

garden dug, in which he sowed the seeds of almost all the known useful vegetables and fruits. The nights were passed delightfully by the crew, there being no formation of dew in the atmosphere of that climate. Notwithstanding the good understanding which was maintained between the natives and the strangers, still the utmost precautions were nightly provided against the accident of a surprise. The men from the ship at length commenced operations on the island for building, and laying out the ground, and were cheerfully


assisted by the islanders until the armourer commenced operations; but when the furnace had been put up, and the bellows began to play upon the coals, the natives, astonished and alarmed, fled from the scene. They were soon prevailed on to return, but amongst them were persons who stole some of the iron, with a part of the tools. These thefts commenced one by one, but afterwards multiplied so that the islanders, under the influence of the chiefs, formed one party, and the thieving body, which increased in numbers, another, and both now began to be engaged in serious conflicts. The two chiefs, Nero and Henneen, had done every thing for the purpose of stopping these robberies by their subjects, but at last it turned out, that, notwithstanding all their show of regard to the strangers, a theft of some importance was committed in which the chief, Henneen, was a principal.' The captain hearing this, went to Nero, but the conduct of this savage explained every thing. The occasion, how. ever, was one of extraordinary advantage, and was not to be lost for a trifle, so that Captain Morrell redoubled his attentions, and by hospitality and presents seemed to have eternally fixed the chiefs as his friends.

It was on the morning after a night of gaiety and amusement, spent by the chiefs on board the Antarctic, that the Captain's ears were startled by a sound, which sent the life-blood curdling to his heart; it was the warhoop, and he knew the fatal yell. It would be but to harrow up the feelings of the compassionate, to go through a detail of the results: it must be sufficient for us to state, that the part of the crew on the island rushed to the shore opposite the Antarctie, and there they found the two sentinels, their shipmates, basely butchered, and about three hundred savages, with bows bent, to dispose of them in a similar manner; a shower of arrows assailed them, and three men fell, and the rest were wounded. A whale boat at the moment of alarm was despatched from the ship with ten sturdy oarsmen. In the meantime the gallant seamen on the island were determined to sell their lives at the dearest price, and for every white man that fell, half a dozen of the savages were made victims. Just when fourteen of the party had been murdered, and the remaining seven were in a state of total inability to fight any more from exhaustion, the whale boat reached the edge of the shore. The oarmen commenced a well directed fire upon the savages, which made them fall back and allow the seven to retreat to the boat; four of them were badly wounded. The savages rallied and made a rush upon the boat, but it was soon in deep water. One portion of the natives continued firing at her, while the greater part took to their canoes. As the boat was full and consequently slowly rowed, the canoes were able to gain upon her; the boatmen fired their muskets, but the falling of the victims seemed only to add fresh fuel to their sanguinary appetites, for they rushed forward with the greater desperation.

The captain, now dreading the total destruction of the men in the boat, brought the broadside of the schooner to bear on the canoes

by means of springs on the cables. The guns were loaded with canister and grape shot, and, by a signal, directed the boat to be moy. ed towards the stern of the vessel. By this arrangement, the canoes, about twenty in number, were presented in a detached group, quite distinct from the boat. The Antarctic opened her flaming battery at once, and two of the canoes were in an instant seen floating in minute fragments on the waters. The effect was what may be expected, the canoes which were untouched by the broadsides, retired to the banks, and the boat was enabled to come alongside the ship in perfect security. The poor wounded were then removed into berths, and the Antarctic had now only a force of eleven efficient men to defend her in case of an attack from the savages. Almost immediately, an immense flotilla of canoes made its appearance, and there is no doubt that, from the numbers of the natives which filled these boats, they would have been able to take the ship, had it not been for the providential springing up of an easterly breeze, which carried on the vessel so rapidly, that the canoes by degrees were obliged to drop astern, and finally to give up the pursuit., It appears that the natives of the particular island to which the strangers became obnoxious, were joined at this crisis by the inhabitants of all the surrounding islands, who were, no doubt, persuad. ed that the general interests of the whole required a common effort to annihilate the enemy. During the whole of the night which succeeded this memorable

day, the captain kept looking at the island through a telescope, Fires, he tells us, were kindled on the beach in every direction, among the dead bodies of

my unfortunate crew, from which those hell-hounds were cutting the flesh, and roasting it in the fire; and then, with savage ferocity, tearing it to pieces with their teeth, while from the half-cooked fragment the fresh blood was running down their ebony chins.

Soon after, they began to drag the bodies of their own fallen comrades to the edge of the beach, and then buried them in the bosom of the lagoon. When they had finished this necessary task, they proceeded to gather up their plunder, and divide the remains of the slaughtered strangers among them; after which, each party of war. riors embarked in their respective canoes, and started for the several islands to which they belonged, and which the last reached about dusk. All this he distinctly beheld, and when he looked again, fires were being kindled on the different islands, until they ranged along all the beaches that fronted the schooner. Around these fires the natives appeared to be very busy for the greater part of the night. This was, no doubt, for the prosecution of their horrid orgies; but, fearful that treachery lurked beneath their operations, that these fires might be intended to deceive the strangers, and that they intended to attack the Antarctic under cover of the darkness, every man was kept at his quarters during the whole of that melancholy night. Eighty muskets were loaded with buckshot, and laid upon the trunk. T'he guns and swivels were all double-shotted; the matches kept lighted in their places, and one man was stationed in each top, to keep a sharp look-out for canoes; their matches were also lighted, and the top-swivels in complete readiness. During the night, the ship cruised about among the shoals and reefs of the lagoon, anxiously waiting the tardy approach of daylight, which at last was hailed with joy and heartfelt thankfulness.

As the islands where they met with such extraordinary treachery were hitherto unknown to the civilized world, Capt. Morrell gave them the infamous designation of the “Massacre Islands.” The Antarctic then proceeded to Manilla, where the captain and crew were received with great hospitality, and where Mrs. Morrell awaited her lord. Nothing could pacify the captain's conscience when he bethought him that some of his men might still be living and be objects of persecution in the Massacre Islands. He determined at once upon a plan of going back to the Massacre Islands with such a force as would make the enterprise a rational experiment for the recovery of any of his shipmates, who might by possibility still survive, to form subjects of gratification for the monsters in whose hands they still unfortunately

might remain. Many of the merchants and ship-masters in Manilla took pains to dissuade the captain from this hopeless enterprise; but his invariable reply, and to his eternal honour it should be remembered, was this: "I could never again enjoy life, until my mind was relieved from its present horrid suspense. Should one of my crew be still living, a captive to those ruthless, remorseless cannibals, what must have been his agonizing distraction of mind to see the Antarctic depart for ever from his view; what must be his hopeless despondency during her lengthened absence; what would be his ecstasy of delight to see her return.”

His wife, with that spirit of valour which is instinctive to the sex whenever the proper occasion calls for such an exertion, insisted upon being one of the party; and with her and sixty-six Manillamen, together with nineteen Americans on board, the captain boldly steered back for the Massacre Islands. The ship was under the necessity of anchoring before a neighbouring island, forming one of Monteverdeson's group, where the captain had experienced, on a previous occasion, the most treacherous conduct; but he and his men thought it best, under the circumstances, to conciliate the islanders, who, in their turn, put on an appearance of the sincerest friendship. The captain, however, was not deceived by this tranquillity, but took the necessary precautions against an attack, and, had he been imprudent enough not to have done so, he would have met a dreadful fate. About three hundred of the natives attacked the ship from their canoes, just as the sun was setting, but they were received in such a manner as almost petrified them with terror; for, when the smoke disappeared, they were seen like so many porpoises tumbling about, their canoes in fragments, and their war weapons floating in every direction. Pity for their ignorance and depravity would not allow him to repeat the fire, particularly as he saw every

« AnteriorContinuar »