Главная » Книги

Лисянский Юрий Фёдорович - Voyage round the world..., Страница 3

Лисянский Юрий Фёдорович - Voyage round the world...

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

uguese masters, and have already a black St Benedict to apply to, in cases of emergency. {Mr. Lansdorff, in his description of Nostra Senora del Destero, says, that the slaves there are very barbarously used. I doubt not that instances are to be found of brutal treatment, but they are exceptions to the general rule.} The military force of the island consists of a regiment of regulars, amounting to about 1000 men, and 3000 militia. The regulars are, in time of peace, so divided, that whilst one half are on duty, the rest may live at home and cultivate their grounds.
   The residence of the governor of St. Catharine is in the town of Nostra Senora del Desteco. It is close to the water-side, on that part of the isle, which is separated from the main land by a channel of about two hundred fathoms. The town has a good number of inhabitants. Fresh provisions of every kind, excellent water, and plenty of European and Indian corn, as well as sugar, coffee, and rum, may be obtained there; and with this further advantage, that many of the articles are of a moderate price, as will appear by the following list:


   A large hog


   A middling one


   A sucking pig


   A bullock


   A fowl


   A duck


   A bunch of onions


   A thousand lemons


   A pound of brown sugar


   Fifty-eight pumpkins


   A turkey


   A bunch of bananas


   A hundred and forty-four pounds of rice


   A hundred and forty-four pounds of wheat


   An alkera, or seventy-two pounds of Indian corn


   A roba, or thirty-two pounds of coffee


   A medina, or four bottles of rum


   An alkera of maniock


   * Seven hundred and fifty raices make a Spanish dollar.
   Though this part of the Brazils produces cotton, coffee, rice, timber, and many other valuable objects of commerce, it is, generally speaking, extremely poor, from the prohibition of foreign trade. If, instead of being obliged to carry their merchandise to Rio de Janeiro, a free commerce with Europe were permitted, the inhabitants would soon improve and enrich themselves; since, with all the disadvantages of the above restrictions, many of them live in comfort. What then might not be expected from proper encouragement? The Portuguese government must be aware of the advantages to be derived from the trade of this colony, and its unjust preference of Rio de Janeiro is a problem very difficult to solve.
   I am ignorant whether there are any of the sea-snakes upon this coast, that are found upon that of Coromandel; but there are alligators here. We caught a young one, and sent it on board the Nadejda to the naturalists, who have preserved the skin. Although this little monster was scarcely a yard long, his scales were not to be penetrated even by a large harpoon; and, but for the dexterity of one of my sailors, who contrived to slip a rope under his belly, we should not have been able to have caught him.
   It would be a waste of time to describe that wonderful little insect, the fire-fly, as many accurate descriptions of it already exist. But I cannot avoid adding my testimony to what has been said of its astonishing splendour, by observing, that, by way of experiment, I have several times read with no other light than what was reflected from a number of these insects placed upon the table.
   The port and town of Nostra Senora del Destero is fortified all round, as may be seen in the chart; but scarcely any of the batteries were in order, while in many of them the guns were lying either on planks or on the ground.
   The inhabitants of St. Catharine are civil and hospitable. La Perouse was right in saying, that they are in general honest and disinterested, though there are individuals amongst them not quite deserving of that character. The mast-maker, for example, claimed a thousand dollars for our two masts, though the general opinion was, that half that sum would have been an ample compensation. This may be deemed a trifling circumstance; but I think it right to mention it, that future navigators may be led to take the same precautions here as they do in Europe, of settling the price before-hand, of what they mean to purchase.
   I should be chargeable with ingratitude, were I to omit paying a large tribute of acknowledgment to the governor of this island, Don Francisco Shever de Courado, for his truly kind and hospitable conduct to us during the whole of our stay, To this gentleman's perfect acquaintance with this part of the world, we were also indebted for much information relative to the whole of the Brazil coast.
   Living on shore during the greatest part of our stay here, I was a spectator of the manner in which the inhabitants of this island, both masters and slaves, spend their Christmas holidays. The customs of the masters, differing but little from the practice of the Catholics of Europe, scarcely attracted my attention. This was not the case with the negroes, who, being divided into parties, according to their casts, afforded me much entertainment by their whimsical national dances, in which were introduced actions and gestures characteristic of the manner of their conducting themselves in battle. This innocent amusement of dancing continued for a fortnight without intermission. I was at a loss which to admire most, their unwearied spirits, or their decent behaviour. This festival reflected, I thought, the highest honour on the humanity of the masters; and its policy also was visible in the sobriety and decorum of the slaves; qualities rarely to be met with in that class of people in other colonies. The last of these merry-making days was concluded by a kind of comedy, played before the governor, by negroes expressly chosen for the purpose; at the termination of which, one of the actors thanked him, in the name of his countrymen, for the happiness they had enjoyed under his administration during the preceding year.
   The native Americans here are so shy, that no intercourse takes place between them and the Portuguese; I therefore saw very little of them. The governor told me, that they mistake the negroes for monkeys, and kill them, whenever they meet them alone. It seems hardly credible, that human beings should exist so lost to reason, as not to distinguish creatures of their own species from brutes; and I cannot help regarding the account as a story purposely fabricated to keep the slaves from running away. {See Lansdorff's Voyage, page 42, English translation.}
   The principal food of the inhabitants of this island is maniock, a root which is sedulously cultivated in every part of the settlement. It is very nourishing, and makes much whiter bread than our flour, but harder, and not quite so palatable.
   The ships that touch here, to take in provisions, or to undergo repair, should prefer our place of anchorage, to that of Bon Port; or else should anchor nearer the town, as, independently of an excellent bottom, they will be immediately within reach of every thing they may want. Not aware of our own advantageous situation in this respect, we had previously ordered what we wanted from Nostra Senora del Destero.
   There are two watering places, one near the island of Atomeri, and the other at St. Michael. The last is the most convenient; but as it was at too great a distance from us, we watered at the first, where, from an over-abundant confidence in the honesty of the inhabitants, we lost two of our casks, having left them on shore over-night without a guard. During our stay we had fine weather till the middle of January, when it became so warm, that it was scarcely supportable: the thermometer, however, only rose to 84°.
   North-east winds prevail on this coast during half the year; with, however, occasional southerly breezes, that continue for forty-eight hours, and are accompanied with rain. On our arrival, we had few or none of these breezes, though they often afterwards interrupted our course. The ebb and flow of this place are very inconsiderable, unless when the wind blows strong. The ebb comes from the south, and the flow from the north-east quarter. The rise of water was generally observed to be about three feet, but during the last full moon it rose to five feet.
   I shall conclude these remarks, with observing, that I cannot agree with those who are of opinion that the climate of St. Catharine is unhealthy. Our crews were at work from morning till night, constantly exposed to the sun, at that time nearly in its zenith; notwithstanding which, they continued in perfect health. On our arrival, I must allow, that we had from three to six upon the sick list, who complained of a pain in their bowels, and a slight ague; but these symptoms passed off in a few days. I was, however, particularly attentive to the circumstance of health. I allowed my ship's company tea for breakfast, and for their common beverage a very weak grog. I also took care, that they did not drink much of the water that was newly brought on board; deeming it a prudent step that they should accustom themselves to it by degrees.





   Departure from St. Catharine. Danger of the Neva from striking upon the Body of a dead Whale. Change of Climate, and bad Weather. Perceive Staten Land. Currents.. Supposed Difficulty of passing Cape Horn erroneous. Advice to Navigators doubting that Cape. The Neva and Nadejda separate in a Fog. The Neva proceeds alone for Easter Island. Arrival there. Survey of the Coasts. Account of the Inhabitants. Latitude and Population of the Island different from what Captain Cook makes them.

1804. Feb. 4th.

   On the 4th of February, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the two ships were again under way, and, with the wind at south-east, shaped their course between the islands of Alvaredo and St. Catharine. On nearing the north end of the last-mentioned island, the wind freshened so much, as to oblige us to take in two reefs in the top-sails. Notwithstanding the delay occasioned by this, we were in open sea by six in the evening. The passage by which we came out of the harbour was equally good with that by which we had come into it. Being apprehensive of squally weather from the east, I kept near the shore. The water, however, was never less than five fathoms, and it gradually deepened till we had fifteen fathoms, with at first sandy, and afterwards muddy bottom. At seven o'clock all the small islands on the coast were to the westward.


   For the first two days, we had the wind at south-east; it then went round to the north, and settling at last in the north-east quarter, the ship's velocity was so great, that on the 11th we were in latitude 38° 19' south, and longitude 50° 47' west. On passing the mouth of the river De la Plata, we were opposed by pretty strong currents to the north-east; but having expected this, we shaped our course to the south-west, more than would otherwise have been necessary.


   On the 12th we had a south-west wind, with squalls. This was disagreeable to us, not only on account of the delay it occasioned, but from the weather becoming extremely cold. In the course of the day, we saw some gram pusses and albatrosses; one of the latter of which was black, except the belly and wings, which were white.


   On the 18th we were in 45° 29' south and 58° 32' west, which was twenty-three miles to the eastward of the lunar observation, which I took in the evening. During the night we struck upon the body of a dead whale, and had nearly lost our masts by the shock.


   Some storm-birds made their appearance the next day; but as our barometer stood high, I placed little faith in the prognostic. At four o'clock in the afternoon we sounded, and had seventy fathoms water, and at eight fifty, with fine sandy bottom.


   We now advanced so rapidly to the southward, that I could perceive every day the change of climate. Already the cold had increased to a degree of uncomfortableness; but we resolved to inure ourselves to it, as it was probable, before the ships doubled Cape Horn, we should have ice floating round us. During the course of the whales of a middling size played ^d. round our vessel. One in particular followed us closely for some time. We were much amused with their traverses as they pursued backward and forward the floating heaps of sea-weeds that passed us from the latitude of 40°.


   Early in the morning of the 25th, Staten Land appeared; but as the weather was extremely hazy, its shore could not be clearly distinguished. On sbunding, at nine o'clock, we had seventy-five fathoms, with bottom of fine sand, gravel stones, and coral. At eleven, bearings of Cape John were taken, by which it appeared that our chronometers, No. 136 and No. 50, were sixty-one miles to the eastward of the true longitude. We steered east-by-south till three in the afternoon, when, the wind shifting to the north-west, we altered our course to south-east. At six we passed through a space of smooth water, which, as the sea was much agitated on both sides of it, was no doubt the effect of two contrary currents. We had the greater reason to remark this smooth expanse, from seeing no more of the masses of weeds, which had been continually passing since our arrival in latitude 40°, and by which the two ships had been completely surrounded in the morning.
   I allowed my people, from this day, either tea or essence of malt, {Essence of malt, dissolved in hot water, affords a wholesome beverage, and is an excellent antiscorbutic.} for breakfast. I also ordered pumpkins and onions to be boiled with their salt meat, and plenty of portable soup to be served up with their pea-soap. I had no doubt that such wholesome and nourishing food, together with warm clothing, with which we were well provided, would prevent many of the diseases of which former navigators have so generally complained.
   I can give no other information respecting the currents that prevail in this quarter, than that they were constantly varying. By one in particular, we had gained, as was proved by our reckoning when we came in sight of Staten Laad, twenty-five miles eastward. On our leaving St. Catharine, it tended, during the first three days, to the south-east, and when we were opposite the mouth of the river De la Plata, to the north-east; after that it bore to the southward, and at last to the northward, as far as Cape John.

26th. 28th.

   We had hardly entered the Southern Ocean, when we were again incommoded by contrary winds and bad weather. On the 26th the south-west blew in squalls, and was so strong the next day, that we were obliged to reduce ourselves to the storm stay-sails. On the 28th it abated a little, but continued squally till the next day, when we had a second storm, from the violence of which we lost both our gangways, and should have parted with all our boats, had it not again abated towards noon.
   Our situation during the last three days was extremely distressing. Assailed by cold and rain, by strong winds, and a heavy sea, we had another enemy to contend with, in the hail, which fell during the whole time, and was driven against us with Mich force, that no one on board was able to face it.

1804. March. 1th. 3th.

   On the 1st of March, the wind had considerably subsided; but the weather continued foul till the next day, when it cleared up, with a northerly breeze. We were then, by observation, in latitude 59° 2' south, and longitude 63° 45' west. On the 3d, in the evening, the wind shifted to the westward, and blew moderately.

11th. 14th. 15th.

   For a fortnight from the last-mentioned day we had contrary winds, or calms, except during the 11th and 14th; when easterly and northerly breezes sprung up, and gave us a very handsome run. On the 14th, I narrowly escaped having my arm shattered by the bursting of a gun, with which I was shooting at the albatrosses: happily the bursting took place near the mugele, and I received no injury. On the 15th also, the weather was fine, and a floating mass of sea-weeds, resembling those we had before seen on the Patagonian coast, again passed us. These were probably blown by the northerly winds from Terra del Fuego.

18th. 19th. 20th.

   The calms which succeeded on the 18th and 19th, did us some good; as, the weather being fine, we had an opportunity of drying our clothes. On the 20th we had a fair wind and the next day found ourselves, by observation, in 51° 33' south, and 93° 29' west. We now congratulated ourselves on having passed round Cape Horn, as our latitude was fifty miles to the northward of Cape Victoria, or of the northernmost point of the Straits of Magellan. A more important source of self-congratulation to me was, that since our departure from Russia to this place, a single man on board my ship had not been seriously ill. Many navigators dread the passage round Cape Horn; but, in my opinion, it resembles that of all other promontories in high latitudes; arid from what we ourselves experienced, it would appear as if the same variable weather prevailed at this southern point of America, during the worst months of winter, as in Europe. If lord Anson suffered here from tempestuous weather, the same misfortune might have happened to him, in any other place. I am persuaded, that, on consulting the journals of different ships of the United States, which now so often go by this track to the north-west coast of America, more successful voyages will be found, than unsuccessful ones. The only serious objection to the passage, in my opinion, is the desolate nature of the shores of this Cape, where, if a ship should be in want of masts, or repairs, no assistance can be obtained. It is true, there are harbours in the neighbourhood of Terra del Fuego; but we are not yet well enough acquainted with their true situation, for a damaged vessel to go in search of them.
   In captain Blay of the British navy, we have another instance of a navigator, who met with such rough weather here, that, after having been tossed about by contrary winds for several weeks, he was obliged at last to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope. These accidental circumstances do not, however, prove the place to be dangerous. I might as well assert the banks of the British Channel to be dangerous, because I found myself, on one occasion, in such a situation there, that, for the space of a month, the ship I was in was only able three days to carry close-reefed top-sails; during the rest of that period, we were obliged to remain under the storm stay-sails only.
   The barometer off Cape Horn does not rise so high, in good weather, as in our northern climates of the same latitude, while in bad weather it sinks much lower. When the wind was at south-west, our barometer commonly stood at 28 inches, 6 or 7 lines; the weather was then often squally, with hail, snow, and rain. This state of the barometer, however, though the weather was foggy, sometimes foretold a change of wind from south-west to north-west; for as soon as the mercury rose a few lines higher, the sky cleared, and the wind veered to south-east, and at last got round to the northward.
   The chief inconveniences of this place, are the coldness of the weather, the violence with which the hail and snow fall during the squalls, and the extreme dampness of the atmosphere. Whoever has passed the North Cape, in Europe, in the winter season, will understand the nature of the difficulties he has to encounter here. Introductory to bad weather, heavy dews generally take place, both morning and evening.
   Some navigators have observed, that there are always strong westerly currents about the. Cape; for instance, lord Anson mentions, in his journal, that be was driven by them to the eastward with great force, till he reached the latitude of the Straits of Magellan, in the Southern Ocean. Nothing of the kind, however, happened to us; as, by lunar observations of the 31st of March and of the 3d of April, it appeared, that in the run from Staten Land to Cape Victoria, which was the business of twenty-four days, we were only forty miles to the eastward of our reckoning. We perceived, too, that the current was different at different times, tending to the south, the west, and the north, as well as to the east. From these circumstances I conclude, that the terrible dangers ascribed to Cape Horn, have their existence only in the fertile imagination of former voyagers, who, in my opinion, in relating the wonders they have seen, have displayed more eloquence than veracity.
   The opinions are various, as to the best time for going round Cape Horn, and at what distance it may be most advantageous to take the passage. I am acquainted with several persons, who have doubled this Cape four times, and who recommend the month of December or January, as the best season for the purpose. Of these, some prefer Le Maire's Straits; and others, sailing to the eastward of Staten Land, and then, if the wind should permit, to steer directly for the Cape, under an idea, that the winds vary more near the shore of Terra del Fuego, than further to the southward. On the other hand, I have heard some masters of vessels in the whale-fishery {Captain Krusenstern says, that he was driven three degrees and a half to the eastward by the current; a circumstance I can no otherwise account for, than by supposing, that I allowed more for the heave of the sea than he did.} affirm, that the aid of April or the beginning of May was the best period, assigning as a reason, that the Spaniards, when they have to make this passage, never leave the river Plata till the middle of March. On viewing these contradictory opinions, I determined to be governed by my own judgment, as circumstances might arise, and the event proved that I was right in this. The result of my exponence is, that, except in particular cases, Staten Land should be left to the westward, and, having passed it, that the latitude of 58° 30' should be gained as soon as possible: the longitude should then be increased to 80° or 82°, and the course shaped to the northward. If the south-west winds should have set in, I would rather keep to the southward, as far as 60° or 6l°, and there ply to windward, waiting for a favourable change, than lessen my latitude, without considerably increasing the longitude. I would also advise keeping the ship full seven points from the wind, when she is lying to westward (in case of a scanty fair wind), to enable her the more easily to cut through the westerly swell, very prevalent in these parts. This advice, to steer so far westward, is not given merely on account of the westerly currents, which, as I have before mentioned, I did not find very strong, but that the most might be made of the south-west and westerly winds, for advancing afterwards to the northward.
   On many of the English charts, a small island is laid down in latitude 56°, and longitude 62°; but I have reason to think no island exists there, a% we were nearly in those bearings in the course of the voyage, and could perceive no signs of land. My opinion is the same of another island, bearing the name of Penice du Dosa, and laid down in 46° 30' south, and 58° 15' west.


   But to proceed: On the 24th we had a strong wind at east-north-east, and hazy weather, with drizzling rains. In the afternoon a thick fog came on, and continued till night, which proved extremely dark. Though I was under few sails, my vessel was unfortunately separated from our friend the Nadejda before morning. Every endeavour was in vain used to regain sight of her. At length, despairing of success, I resolved to proceed without her, and bear for Easter Island. It is needless to describe our feelings on thus losing our companions;--they may easily be imagined, when it is considered, that we were now left to struggle alone, with the many various accidents that might assail us. Separated by immense seas, from every civilized part of the globe, we had no succour to expect, on any trying occasion, but what our own fortitude, and the special protection of the Divine Providence, now doubly invoked, might afford.


   On the 28th, the wind from the south-west blew hard during the night, and it came on with so tremendous a squall, that I certainly should have lost my fore-mast, but for the alacrity of my people in taking in the sails. Towards morning the clouds dropped so low, that I apprehended a storm. The sun, however, appeared about noon, and in the evening the weather improved. During the two last days we had been accompanied by two black petrels, that greatly resembled Buffon's briseur d'oss, the wings excepted, which were much shorter. These birds always run a considerable distance on the surface of the water, before they take flight.


   On the 31st at noon, we found ourselves in latitude 39° 20' south, and longitude 98° 42' west. This longitude was 1° 51' to the west of that given by the lunar observation of the day. Since our parting from the Nadejda, I had regulated my ship's course, so as to pass a little to the westward of the place where Marchand had seen some birds, which, as he says in his journal, were never known to fly far from shore; and, during the last two days, we bad steered in the line in which that navigator thought some land might be discovered; but we saw nothing to confirm this opinion.

April. 13th.

   From the 1st to the 13th of April, though the weather continued unsettled, the wind blew less strong, and squalls were less frequent. On the 13th I found myself in latitude 29° 45' south, and longitude 104° 49' west: the correctness of our longitude could be relied on, from its near accord with the lunar observation, which was 104° 33'. On this day I ordered the forge to be brought upon deck, and the work to commence, of manufacturing axes, knives, large nails, and chisels, for the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands.


   The cables had been bent to all my anchors, and I had been perfectly prepared for an anchorage for several days; and at eleven in the morning of the 16th we saw Easter Island before us, in conformity to what our lunar observations had given us reason to expect. At noon we found ourselves in latitude 27° 13' south, and, from thirteen altitudes, by No. 50, in 109° 44'; by No. 1841, 110° 12'; by No. 136, 108° 59'; and by Pennington, 108° 34' west longitude. The shore, at that time, was about thirty miles distant; by which I found that the first-mentioned chronometer was thirty miles to the westward, the second sixty-five to the westward, the third eight to the eastward, and the last thirty-three to the eastward. From noon we steered west-by-north, and at five o'clock neared the eastern side of the island; but as the weather was both squally and hazy, towards evening I reefed my top-sails, and stood out to sea for the night. A great number of small gray gulls had indicated the proximity of the island some time before it was descried.


   Early in the morning of the next day, we were twelve miles to the eastward of the shore; and at eight, with the wind at north-west, we approached the southern point, which is remarkable for two large rocks, one of which so strikingly resembles a ship, with her main-top gallant-sail set, that, upon first perceiving it, one of my people mistook it for the Nadejda.
   The eastern part of Easter Island is very pleasant. It is covered with verdure, and many spots of it appeared to be planted with bananas. Towards the middle stood two large black statues, one twice the size of the other; yet it appeared as if both were intended to form but one monument, as they were contiguous to each other, and inclosed within the same mound. The south side of the island is craggy and steep, composed of a stone, resembling slate or lime-stone, lying in horizontal strata, the upper surface covered with grass.
   After getting round the south point, I steered towards the west side of the island; and when at the distance of about three miles, I recognised Cook's Bay, against the shores of which a heavy swell broke. Not far from the beach we observed four statues, three of which were very tall; the other appeared to have been broken down, so as to .have lost half its height. They bore a great resemblance to the monuments described by La Perouse, in the voyage in which this navigator so unfortunately perished.


   I had intended at first to anchor in Cook's Bay; but the weather being unsettled, I was apprehensive of westerly winds, which would have rendered it very unsafe. As we had seen nothing of the Nadejda since our separation, I resolved to wait at this island a few days, in the hope of her rejoining us, and to take a slight survey of the place. Accordingly, on the 18th, we again ranged along the eastern side of the island, and found it as pleasant as it appeared the day before. The middle of it is much lower than its extremities; and a few huts are dispersed here and there amongst the fruit-trees, of which, however, there were no great plenty. We kept so near the coast, that we could easily distinguish the natives following the ship along the beach. They were entirely naked, and of a dark copper colour. In coasting it this time, we observed five monuments. The first, which consisted of four statues, presented itself to view as soon as we had passed the south end of the island: the second had three: the third was the one we had seen the day before; and at no great distance from the eastern point stood the fourth and fifth. The neighbourhood of the two last-mentioned monuments contained a greater number of habitations, and seemed better cultivated, than any other spot we had yet seen. We also observed numerous heaps of stone, covered with something white at the top; respecting which, I could form no satisfactory conjecture.
   Though the wind was at north-west, the surf broke rather heavily against the shore, along the whole extent of which I could not discover a single anchorage. At sun-set the wind died away, and left us nine miles to the northward of the east point. During the day, we were surrounded by flying-fish and different sea-birds.


   On the 19th we had light breezes and a heavy swell from the south-west. At day-light we took our course along the northern shore. I at first proposed passing it as near as possible, but was prevented doing so, by the frequent calms and rain; the ship, however, was never further distant than five miles, so that we could clearly distinguish all the paints and remarkable places. This side of the island appeared to be but thinly inhabited. I saw four monuments: the first of which consisted of one statue only; the second and third of two each; and the fourth of three. On our approaching nearer, fires were lighted in different places by the inhabitants, and were kept burning till sun-set. We supposed these to be signals of invitation on shore; but as no good landing-place was to be found, I continued lying to westward. In the mean time my jolly-boat, which had been dispatched to try the current, returned, but discovered nothing worthy of remark.


   On the 20th the weather was so unsettled, that I could not prosecute my survey along the northern side of the island, and therefore attempted that of the west, though with no greater success, from being becalmed.


   The next morning the weather was so squally, that I could not reach Cook's Bay till eight o'clock. I wished to have dropped anchor there, but the heavy south-west swell prevented me. Determined, however, to leave some indication on the island, by which tire Nadejda, in case of her touching there, might trace us, I dispatched lieutenant Powalishin in the jolly-boat, with knives, small pieces of iron, empty bottles, and some printed linens. His orders were, to go as near the shore as the surf would permit, and distribute the above-mentioned articles to the natives, who, without doubt, would swim off to him. At the same time, I recommended him to examine the bay and try the soundings, but without attempting to land. At two in the afternoon he returned, and brought some plantains, bananas, sweet potatoes, yams, and sugar-cane. Every thing being thus executed according to my wish, I only waited to get another view of the north side of the island; and, having succeeded in this, at six o'clock we set sail for the Marquesas, with the satisfaction of having surveyed one of the most curious spots in the world.
   Easter Island was descried by us bearing west-north-west, at the distance of forty miles; and, had the weather been clear, it might have been perceived at sixty. It first appeared to lie low, with a high rock to the right. When we had advanced about ten miles nearer, this rock disappeared, and two small elevations were perceived to the left, which afterwards joined the main land in sight We wiled round this island, at a very short distance, but could no where discover a safe anchoring place. The shores are rocky and steep, excepting a small bay on the east side, near the south point, and another bay on the north side, not far from the north point. Cook's Bay, where the jolly-boat sounded, is certainly the best place to anchor at; though that is by no means safe when the south-west winds blow; as the swell is then so great, that the heaviest anchors would give way, especially as ships must lie close in shore. We had sixty fathoms, stony bottom, at the distance of a mile and a quarter from the shore. Lieutenant Fowaiishin found ten fathoms at one and a half cable length, sixteen fathoms at three cables, and twenty-three at four cables. Thus, according to the opinion of La Perouse, who says that the best anchorage is in twenty-four fathoms, ships should bring-to at five cables length from the beach.
   Vessels may come into this bay from the southward or from the northward, according to the wind, and the anchorage cannot be mistaken, on account of the sandy beach opposite to it, all the rest of the shore being rocky. Bringing the sandy beach to bear east-by-south, or east, and losing sight of the two rocks that lie near the south point, you will be in the depth La Perouse recommends, with sandy bottom.
   It appeared to me that the inhabitants of this island are not so poor in provisions, as former navigators have asserted them to be. If they have no animals, as is said, they are nevertheless plentifully supplied with substitutes, which, if not so substantial, are at least equally nourishing. Their houses, though greatly inferior to ours, appear to be sufficiently commodious for a people living in a state of nature; they resemble, in form, our long boats turned upside down. Some of them stand separately, and others two or three together. The door was of a conical form; but I did not observe any windows. Every house was planted round with bananas and sugar-canes,
   The shore is encompassed by monuments, very correctly described by La Perouse. They are built of stone, with a rude representation, on the top of each figure, of a human head surmounted with a cylinder.
   From the many fires, regularly lighted about nine o'clock, it may be inferred, that victuals are prepared here in the open air, and that nine o'clock is the accustomed hour for a general meal.
   That the inhabitants of this island should have no fresh water, as is related by some navigators, is to me a matter of surprise; because, during the rainy season, they might easily supply themselves with it in tanks, so common throughout the West India islands: but, if it be true, as La Perouse informs us, that they drink sea-water, like the Albatrosses of Cape Horn, they have no need of this article.
   When lying to, near Cook's Bay, we saw a great number of people; who, on perceiving our boat, swam off to meet it, expressing their joy with a loud noise, and pointing out with their hands the best place for landing. Finding, however, that the boat did not intend to land, thirty of them forced themselves through a very heavy surf, and joined it. Mr. Powalishim uttered, repeated!}, the word teio (friend), and made signs that they should come to him, one at a time. To the first of his visitors he gave a sealed bottle, with a letter in it to captain Krusenstera, requesting, by signs, that it might be delivered to a ship as large as oars, if such should arrive there. Afterwards he distributed among them knives, Russian copper money, strung upon wire, to be worn round the neck, some pieces of printed linen, and lastly several mustard bottles, with small pieces of wood fastened to them, upon which the name of our ship was written. The knives were received with great eagerness by the islanders; and I was very sorry that I sent so few, as an old islander of sixty, who came after the rest, and presented Mr. Powalishia with a bag made of grass, filled .with sweet potatoes, solicited one in the most earnest manner: there were, however, none left, and he only received some copper ear-rings, and a few other trifles; but with these the poor old man was so satisfied, that he left with Mr. Powalishin all he had, including the rush-mat, which he used as a support in swimming.
   To judge from the behaviour of this man, he must have seen Europeaps before. He was the only one who had long hair on the head, and a bushy brown beard; the rest were all cropped, and beardless. When they were desired to go to the ship, they expressed by signs, that it was too far; which proves, as also do the rush-mats, which every one had to assist him in swimming, that the boats seen by La Perouse, do not at present exist on the island.
   Lieutenant Powalishin thinks that there were. about 500 persons on shore near him, including children. Being very busy with his visitors, he did not observe if there were any women amongst them; but he saw that many of them had a kind of short cloak, or piece of cloth, suspended from the shoulders, and scarcely covering the thighs. Amongst the crowd were some, who waved constantly square pieces of white and striped cloth, of the size of a pocket-handkerchief. From what he, and all who were with him in the boat observed; it appears that these islanders are stoutly built, and tall, some of them being six feet, and of a colour resembling a sun-burnt European. Those that swam to him had their faces and hands tatooed, which was all that was remarkable in their appearance.
   From the description which Mr. Powalishiri gave me of what he saw, I know not how to reconcile myself to the tremendous large ears mentioned by Mr. Forster, who represents them as hanging down upon the shoulders, and having holes perforated in them, through which five fingers may be thrust. Mr. Powalishin assured me, that this was not the case with those of the islanders who visited him, whose ears were no longer than ours. If, therefore, any of this long-eared race still remained on the island, they did not, in this instance, make their appearance; probably, however, the fashion of expanding the ears here, is now at an end.
   Our boat was so near the shore, that the houses and monuments of the bay were distinctly seen. The monuments were built of stone, and appeared to be about thirteen feet high, a fourth part of which height was taken up by the cylinder placed on the head of each figure.
   I cannot well judge of the handicraft of these islanders; but the bag and mat of the old man are deserving of notice. The first, which was fifteen inches long and ten wide, was made of hard grass, in a very masterly manner. The second, which was four feet and a half long, and fifteen inches and a half broad, consisted of sugar-cane, platted over with rushes; and, in point of workmanship, was scarcely inferior to any thing of the kind made in Europe.
   Captain Cook places Easter Island in latitude 27° 5' 86' south, and longitude 109° 46' 20" west; but, by my observations, the middle of it proved to be 27° 9' 23" south, and 109° 25' 20" west. On the 13th and 15th of the present month I took thirty lunar distances, and brought the calculation by our chronometers to the time of our making land, I know not how to account for this difference of latitude, unless by supposing that this celebrated navigator calculated his to some point lying to the northward of the middle of the island. His estimate also of the population of the island, which he says is from six to seven hundred, appears to me a little strange. When I consider the number of persons that assembled in the bay on the approach of our boat, and the many habitations which I observed r

Категория: Книги | Добавил: Armush (26.11.2012)
Просмотров: 87 | Рейтинг: 0.0/0
Всего комментариев: 0
Имя *:
Email *:
Код *:
Форма входа