Главная » Книги

Лисянский Юрий Фёдорович - Voyage round the world..., Страница 9

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

-law makes: a parade of sending pieces of it to his friends. This ostentation, however, is only practised in a season of plenty: at other times there are no givings; every one keeps what he gets to himself.
   Of all the customs, of these islanders, the most disgusting is that of meny called: schoopans, living with men, and supplying the place of women. These are brought up from their infancy with females, and taught all the feminine arts. They even assume the manners and dress of the sex so nearly, that a stranger would naturally take them for what they are not. {As a proof how easily this mistake may be made; it once happened, that a toyon brought one of these unnatural beings to church to be married to him, and the ceremony was nearly finished, when an interpreter, who came in by chance, put a stop to the proceedings, by making known to the priest, that the couple he was joining in wedlock were both males.} This odious practice was formerly so prevalent, that the residence of one of these monsters in a house was considered as fortunate; it is however daily losing ground.
   The Cadiack people seem more attached to their dead than to their living relatives, and often weep when their names happen to be mentioned. They dress the dead in their best apparel, and then lay them in state, commonly in the place where they sickened and died. While the grave is digging, the relations and friends howl bitterly. When it is ready, the body is wrapped up in furs and seal-skins, and placed in it. Over the grave large stones are piled, and blocks of wood. The melancholy business of interment being ended, the distant relations and friends return home; but the parents of the deceased remain on the spot, wailing till sun-set. Formerly, on the demise of a great man, a slave or calga, as it is called here, used to be killed, that he might be buried with his master; but this is no longer allowed. At present the only difference is, that broken beads add granules of amber are strewed over the bodies of the wealthy; and even this is but seldom practised. With the hunters that die, their arrows, spears, and harpoons, are generally buried; and the frame of a bidarka is placed over them. I saw instances of high poles being erected over the graves of persons of consequence.
   They express their mourning by cutting the hair short, and daubing the face with soot. A wife, on the death of her husband, retires for a certain period to another settlement; and a husband does the same on the death of his wife. When a child dies, its mother must seclude herself, for a period of from ten to twenty days, in a hovel built apart; of which, in my account of the Fugitive settlement, I have cited an instance that came under my observation.
   A curious custom prevails here on occasions of lying-in. To be delivered, the woman retires into a small low hovel, built of reeds and covered with grass, where she must remain after the birth of the child twenty days, whatever may be the season of year, summer or winter. During this period she is considered so unclean, that nobody will touch her, and food is given to her on sticks. When the twenty days are expired, she washes herself and child, first in cold water and in the open air, and then in a warm bath. During the first washing, a small perforation is often made in the gristle of the infant's nose, and a thin twig, like a small wire, drawn through it; an incision is also made under the lower lip, or small holes are bored in it.
   This custom extends also to women during their periodical courses, when they are not allowed to remain in their barabaras, but must retire to similar hovels; nor are they permitted to come out, till they have observed the customary ablutions. Those females to whom this occurs for the first time, are even obliged to retire for ten days; during which, from being considered as unclean, they are fed as in the instance of child-birth. I had the curiosity to measure one of these hovels; the length of which was three feet two inches, the breadth two feet seven inches, and the height two feet four inches.
   Of the different diseases to which these people are subject, the most common are, venereal, colds, consumption, itch, and ulcers. The two last are so unavoidable, that there is hardly a person to be found on the island without one or the other. They have three methods of cure; shamaning, cutting away the part affected, and bleeding. I was told, that slight venereal taints are removed by means of some decoction; but that when the disease touches the nose, each nostril is pierced through, and sometimes the gristle itself.
   The mode of education here is similar to that of other savage countries. The people are able to bear cold, from having been habituated to it, in various ways, from their cradle. It often happens that a mother plunges her noisy child into water, even in winter, and keeps it there till it leaves off crying. To teach them to bear hunger, they have no occasion for lessons, necessity being a sufficient master; for they have often nothing to eat for several days together. The men are taught early to construct bidarkas, and to manage them at sea; to make arrows, and to shoot with them: and the women are exercised from their infancy in needle-works, in making nets, lines, and other things adapted to their sex. The men are all, without exception, brought up to fishing, and killing wild animals and birds. The whale-fishing, however, belongs almost exclusively to particular families, and is handed down in succession to those children who prove to be the most expert at it. But this art is not brought to such perfection in the island of Cadiack, as in Greenland, and many other places. A Cadiack whaler, in a single bidarka, attacks only small whales; and for this purpose he is provided with a harpoon, the spear of which is made of slate-stone, and so fixed into the handle, as to detach itself when the whale is struck. When wounded by it, the whale runs to sea and dies, and is perhaps never seen again, unless the currents and winds should throw it on the coast Thus no whaler is sure of his prey. The spears of the whale harpoons are marked by the whalers, so that every one knows his own.
   The mode of hunting the sea-otter is different, and the prey so sure, that scarcely one animal out of a hundred can save itself from its pursuers. The method is this. A number of Aleutians, more or less, go out together in separate bidarkas. As soon as any one of them perceives an otter, he throws his arrow at it, if he can, and, whether he can or cannot, pulls to the place where it plunges. He here stations his boat, and then lifts up his oar. The rest of the hunters, on observing the signal, form a circle round it. The moment the animal appears above water, the hunter that is nearest throws his arrow, and then hastens to the spot where the animal replunges, and makes it known, as in the preceding instance, by raising his oar. A second circle is then formed; and in this manner the chase continues, till the poor beast is perfectly exhausted by the blood flowing from its wounds. I was told by very expert hunters, that these animals were sometimes easily caught; whereas, at other times, twenty bidarkas would be employed half a day in taking a single otter: and that this animal has been known to tear the arrow from its body in order to escape. The first plunge of an otter exceeds a quarter of an hour; the second is of shorter duration, the third still shorter; and thus the intervals gradually diminish, till at last it can plunge no more.
   When these hunters attack a female otter, swimming with her young one, a picture of maternal affection presents itself, that would induce a feeling mind to desist from its cruel purpose: but a Cadiack man, hardened to his trade, has no frailties of this kind, and can pass nothing without darting his arrow at it. When she finds herself pursued, the poor mother takes her cub in her arms, if I may so speak, and plunges with it, to save it. As the cub, however, cannot long remain under water, she soon, instigated by affection, rises again, and is easily struck by the weapons of the hunters. Sometimes the hunters come upon her by surprise, and separate her from her young one, in which case her loss is inevitable, for the cub is sure to be taken; and when she hears its cries, she swims, fearless of danger, to the very bidarka from which they proceed. It is said, that if a female otter has two cubs with her when she is attacked, she will destroy one herself, or leave it to its fate, that she may be the better able to protect the other.
   The Cadiack people, exercised from their childhood to this sort of hunting, are very expert at it. In fine weather, they know the course of the otter under water, after it has plunged, by the bubbles that appear on the surface; and in rough weather they are equally acquainted with it, as the otter always swims against the wind.
   The killing a sea-otter is matter of great triumph to these people. It is expressed by a shout, proceeding at once from all the party concerned in the hunt; then follows the inquiry to whom the prize belongs. The highest claim is his who first wounded the animal; if several wounded it at the same time, the right side has the preference over the left, and the nearer the wound is to the head, the more weight has it in the scale of decision. When two or more arrows are struck into the same part of the animal, and the lines of the arrows are broken, {The line of the sea-otter arrows is made of the sinews of the whale; one end is fastened to the spear of the instrument, and the other to the handle.} the longest piece of line determines the preference. From this complication of rules, disputes often arise; and in such cases, some Russian is called in to determine the point.

 []

   Next to the otter, the most valuable animal, in the estimation of the Cadiack men, is the species of seal or sea-dog, called by the Russians Nerpa. It is caught with nets, made of the same material as the line of the sea-otter arrow; or killed when asleep: or, which is the easiest manner of taking it, enticed towards the shore. A fisherman, concealing the lower part of his body among the rocks, puts on his head a wooden cap, or rather casque, resembling the head of a seal (Plate III. Fig. c), and makes a noise like that animal. The unsuspicious seal, imagining he is about to meet a partner of his own species, hastens to the spot, and is instantly killed.
   The catching of birds called ooreel or searraven, from the skin of which handsome warm gowns or parkas are made, is also a business of importance. It is done by a net, the lower part of which is stretched on a pole fourteen feet in length, while a string is passed through loop-holes in the upper part, and fastened to the extremities of the pole. These birds always keep on high and steep rocks and precipices. The sportsman, getting as near as he can to the birds, throws the net over them; and when by fluttering they are sufficiently entangled, he draws the net to a bag by means of the string, and sometimes takes a whole flight at once. The length of the net is about eighty feet, the breadth fourteen only.
   Fish in the rivers are caught, either with the hands only, or by bags tied to a long pole. Sometimes they are taken by being struck with a spear about five feet long, made for the purpose (Plate III. Fig. h, k). At sea it is done by hooks made of bone, which are fastened, instead of a line, to a sea-leek, that grows sometimes to the length of nearly two hundred feet, and is the eighth of an inch thick. This production of the sea answers better for fishing, than a line made of the sinews of the whale; which, by stretching too much in the water, becomes impaired in strength.
   The Cadiack people use long spears, harpoons, and arrows, for killing the large sea animals, such as whales, seals, sea-otters, and others. Formerly, in their wars with one another, bows and arrows were in use; but at present this weapon is seldom to be seen. The whale harpoon is about ten feet long; the spear or point is of slate stone, and of the form of a knife, sharp on both sides, and is set loose into the handle. The seal harpoon is but tittle shorter, and has a barbed spear made of bone. A bladder is fixed to the middle of the handle, to prevent the harpoon from sinking, or the seal from plunging beyond a certain depth after being wounded by it (Plate III. Fig. o). There is also a particular sort of arrow used against the seal (Plate III. Fig. m) nearly similar to that used against the sea-otter (Plate III. Fig. l), the length of which is about four feet. The arrows are thrown from a narrow and pointed board, twenty inches long, which is held by the thumb and three fingers (Plate III. Fig. n.) They are thrown straight from the shoulder with astonishing velocity.
   Their working tools are very few. They consist of a small iron adz, which was formerly made of stone; a crooked knife, which has taken place of a shell; a stone for polishing, and a tooth, fixed in a wooden handle. With the assistance of these simple instruments, the Cadiack men make various articles, and finish them neatly. In the art of carving, however, which had been carried by them to tolerable perfection, they have so greatly declined, that there is now scarcely an individual who can execute any thing decently in that way.
   With respect to the needle-work of the women, it is no where surpassed but in Oonalashka. I have a great many specimens of their skill, that would do credit to our best seamstresses. Every thing is sewed with thread made of the sinews of the whale, or other sea animals, some of which is as fine as the thread of silk. The most beautiful twists and braids are made of it. Before the Russians came, the needles were of bone: the instruments for boring the eye in them, are still found in almost every family. The hair of the rein-deer and of goats, are used here for ornamenting the dresses of the women; as also is the European shaloon, out of which they draw the threads, and form them into tufts, each according to her fancy.
   On the island of Cadiack, as through the whole of what we saw of the north-west coast of America, shamaning is held in great veneration. The professors of it are brought up to their business from their infancy. They persuade the people, they have a correspondence with the devil, and can by his means foretell what will come to pass. They pretend that some children are doomed to be shamans; and that their destiny is made known by a dream. Though every shaman has in his practice some particular mummery, the foundation of the pretended art is the same in all. The ceremony generally observed on these occasions, is this:- The skin of a seal or other animal being spread on the ground, in the middle of a barabara or elsewhere, and a vessel of water placed near it, the shaman enters, and, placing himself on the skin, takes off his ordinary dress, and puts on a camleyka, turning the fore part behind. He then disguises himself by a wig of human hair, to which two feathers are attached, one on each side, to resemble horns. Opposite to him stands the person who wishes to consult him about his affairs. The question to be solved being stated, the shaman begins to sing, the company joining in the song by degrees, till it comes to a chorus, or rather a yell. During this incantation, the shaman makes the most frightful grimaces and twistings of the body, till at last he appears perfectly exhausted and falls to the ground. He falls, however, only to rise again; and he repeats this foolery several times before he gives the answer, which, in his trance, he pretends to have received from the evil spirit.
   The shamans are consulted also as physicians in dangerous cases, and are rewarded very handsomely if the patient recovers, but receive nothing if he dies. The mode of cure consists, in like manner, in incantations.
   Next in rank to the shamans are the kaseks, or sages, whose office is to teach children the different dances, and superintend the public amusements and shows, of which they have the supreme control. The islanders generally call our priests by this name.
   The people of Cadiack, whelmed in ignorance, can do nothing without some superstition mixing in the business. If merely a piece of twist or line is made, it is under the auspices of some lucky root, herb, or stone, which owes its power to its scarcity. A person who possesses none of these happy influences, these gifts of fortune, is considered as the poorest of his species. Even the small sea nut, which abounds on the beach in the warmer climates, is esteemed in this way here, because seldom found. It is from this superstitious feeling that, at the commencement of spring, the whale-fishermen go into the interior of the island to search on the mountains for eagle-feathers, bear's hair, and different stones and roots. The abominable custom, which I mentioned before as prevailing amongst the whalers, of stealing the dead bodies from the graves and secreting them in caverns, has the same origin. This is carried so far, that a father at his death bequeaths this cavern to the son whom he appoints to succeed him in the whale-fishery, and the son endeavours to augment the precious collection; so that a whaler may be found possessing upwards of twenty of such corses.
   In my narrative I have represented the whalers as unclean, in the eyes of their countrymen, during the fishing season. Nevertheless, they have great respect paid them, and are regarded as the purveyors of their country.
   These islanders pass their time in hunting, festivals, and abstinence. The first takes place in the summer; the second begins in the month of December, and continues as long as any provisions remain; and then follows the period of famine, which lasts till the reappearance of fish in the rivers. During the last-mentioned period, many have nothing but shell-fish to subsist on, and some die for want. Their festivals consist chiefly of dancing, which differs but little from that of other savage nations, except that masks of the most hideous figures are worn. I was present at some of these festivals, but found nothing pleasant or amusing in them.
   The Cadiack men are so fond of gaming, that they often lose every thing they possess at play. They have a very favourite game called kroogeki. Four or more men play at it; that is, two against two, or three against three. Two skins are spread on the ground, at the distance of about twelve feet from each other. On each skin is placed a round flat mark made of bone, about four inches and a half in circumference, with a black circle and centre marked on it. Every player has five wooden pieces, like what are called men in the game of draughts or back-gammon, and distinguished in the same manner by colour. The players kneel, and stretching themselves forward lean on the left hand, throwing the draughts with the right, one after another, adversary against adversary, aiming at the round mark. If a man hits the mark, his antagonist endeavours to dislodge the draught, by placing his own there. When all the draughts are expended on both sides, it is examined how they lie, and they are counted accordingly: for every draught touching the mark, one; for that which lodges on it, two; for that which cuts the black circle, three, &c. In this manner the game continues till the number of a hundred and twelve, which is the point of the game, is gained. The numbers are counted by small sticks made for the purpose.
   There is another favourite game called stopka, which is a small figure cut out of bone (Plate III. Fig. g). It is thrown up into the air, and if it falls on its bottom, two are counted: if on its back, three; and if on its belly, one only. This game consists in gaining twenty, which are also marked with short sticks.
   The Cadiack men deserve great credit for the invention of the bidarka, which is lightly constructed of wood, fastened together with whalebone, and covered over with seal-skins? the seams of which are so well sewed that not a drop of water can get through. At present there are three sorts in use: the first carries three persons, the second two, and the third only one (See Plate, View of St. Paul's Harbour). Before the arrival of the Russians, the two last only, called the single and the double bidarkas, had been built. The islanders had also large leathern boats, of sufficient burthen to carry seventy persons, which were used in their wars and long voyages; but these boats are kept now only by the Russians. The bidarkas paddle very fast, and are safer at sea in bad weather than European boats; especially when provided with good hatchway cloths, which are always drawn over holes, answering to hatchways, and extend round the waists of the people sitting in them. It is common to send one of these craft as far as the island of Oonalashka, or to Sitca Sound. For such voyages, however, the rowers must be furnished with new camleykas, which they always fasten tight round the neck and arms, as a guard against the waves of the sea, which often roll over them. When there are several of these vessels in company, and a storm overtakes them, they fasten together in parties of three or four, and thus ride it out, like so many ducks tossed up and down by the waves, without the smallest danger. At first I disliked these leathern canoes, on account of their bending elasticity in the water, arising from their being slenderly built; but when accustomed to them, I thought it rather pleasant than otherwise.
   The following table gives the dimensions of each of the three kinds of bidarka.

For three Men.

Feet.

Inches.

For two Men.

Feet.

Inches.

For one man

Feet.

Inches.

   The length
   26
   7
  
   10
   7
  
   14
   6
   The breadth
   2
   8
  
   2
   7
  
   2
   4
   The depth
   1
   3
  
   1
   1
  
   1
  
   From stern to the first hatchway
  
   4
   6
   Between the hatchways
   4
   11
   Between the stern and the hatchway
   7
   8 1/2
   From the first hatchway to the main ditto
   4
   1
   From the fore hatchway to the stern
   7
   4
  
  
  
   From the stern to the fore hatchway
   7
   11
   From the stern to the main hatchway
   4
  
   Diameter of the hatchway
   1
   6 1/2
   It is astonishing that a people, capable of inventing the bidarka, should pay so little attention to the building of their barabaras, which are wretchedly constructed. A barabara here consists of a large room, with a door about three feet square, and an opening in the roof to let out the smoke. In the middle of the room a large hole is dug for a fire place. The sides of this dwelling are divided by boards into different store-rooms. In short, a barabara answers the purpose of a court-yard, a kitchen, and, when requisite, a theatre. In this room the natives dance, build their bidarkas, clean and dry their fish, and perform every other domestic office. It is never cleaned, except that now and then some fresh grass is thrown over the floor, to give it a sort of decent appearance. Adjoining to this filthy hall are small rooms, called by the natives joopans, each of which has a particular entrance, or rather hole, through which a man can with, difficulty thrust himself. It has also an opening in the roof covered with bladder, or dried intestines sewed together, which are a very good substitute for glass, and admit the light freely. These joopans serve for drawing-room, bed-room, and sometimes even for graves. The one I entered at Naumliack measured thirteen feet ten inches, by fourteen feet seven inches. Except at the entrance, blocks of wood were placed all round the room, at the distance of three feet and a quarter from the walls, in which narrow space seal skins and straw were laid, for the convenience of sitting and sleeping. These blocks were ornamented with teeth of the sea-otter, which greatly resembled human teeth, but were larger. While they served as a partition for the room, they were used also as bolsters to sleep on. It was surprising to me, how these people could lie, breadthwise, in so narrow a space as that between the wall and the blocks; but I found, upon inquiry, that they lie mostly on their back, with the knees cocked up nearly to the chin. These rooms are convenient in winter, as, from their size and construction, they will keep tolerably warm from the respiration only of those who live in them. They are, however, in very cold weather, warmed with heated stones; and in this manner are sometimes converted into hot baths. The construction of a barabara is a very simple one. A large square space is dug about two feet deep in the ground. In the corners of this space, pillars, about four feet long are fixed, upon which a high roof is erected, thickly covered with grass. The sides of this building are boards plastered over with mud, which gives it an appearance not very unlike a dunghill.
   It may justly be said, that the inhabitants of Cadiack, if we except the women during their monthly periods and their lyings-in, have not the least sense of cleanliness. They will not go a step out of the way for the most necessary purposes of nature; and vessels are placed at their very doors for the reception of the urinous fluid, which are resorted to alike by both sexes. Urine indeed is used by them for preparing the skins of birds; but they also wash themselves, as well as their clothes, with it: and even in the hot bath, of which the men and women are alike fond, because they love to perspire, it is with this fluid they sometimes make their ablutions.
   The island of Cadiack, with the rest of the Russian settlements along the north-west coast of America, are superintended by a kind of governor-general, or commander-in-chief, who has agents under him, appointed, like himself, by the Company at Petersburg. The smaller settlements have each a Russian overseer. These overseers are chosen by the governor, and are selected for the office in consequence of their long services and orderly conduct. They have the power of punishing, to a certain extent, those whom they superintend; but are themselves amenable to the governor, if they abuse their power by acts of injustice. {*} The seat of government is the Harbour of St. Paul, which has a barrack, different store-houses, several respectable wooden habitations, and a church, the only one to be found on the coast. To these store-houses, all the valuable peltry from the various settlements are brought, to be conveyed, as opportunities offer, to Ochotsh, from whence a part goes to Russia, and the rest for sale to Kiakta, which is the mart of the Russian commerce with China.
   {* Mr. Langsdorff has drawn a most frightful picture of the barbarity of these overseers, and others above them in authority; and affirms, that he had ocular demonstration of its truth. "I have seen", he says, "the Russian promisclinicks, or fur-hunters, sport with the lives of the natives, and put these defenceless creatures to a horrible death, from the mere caprice of their own arbitrary will." To facts which a person asserts came under his own observation, I am not so rude as to give a direct denial; but I must be permitted to remark, that no such cruelties presented themselves to my sense of seeing, nor did I hear of any such, though I was more than a twelvemonth on the coast, and made many inquiries respecting the treatment of the natives* In my opinion, the greatest cause of complaint on the part of the poor Aleutians, is the severe labour that is required of them, and the hardships they have to endure in the long voyages they are obliged to perform in their small canoes in the business of hunting.
   There is another representation by Mr. Langsdorff, as to these overseers, in which I cannot agree with him. He says, "they are Siberian malefactors, or adventurers." The truth is this:- Some years ago, about twenty exiles were sent to Cadiack; but they were employed as common labourers only, not as overseers of districts.
   That mistakes of this nature should be made by Mr. Langsdorff, is not to be wondered at, when we find him thus speaking of himself:- To examine a country accurately, three things are requisite, not one of which I at this time enjoyed; leisure, serenity of mind, and convenience." To this might be added, that he was but a short time in the country of which he speaks, and was ignorant of the language both of the natives and of the Russians.
  

CHAPTER XL

SECOND PASSAGE FROM CADIACK TO SITCA.

   Feelings of the Russian Inhabitants on our leaving Cadiack. Arrive at New Archangel. Improved State of this Settlement. Account of the Destruction of the old Settlement. Explore the Coast round Mount Edgecumbe. Sitcan Embassy, and Ceremonies attending it. Excursion to the Top of Mount Edgecumbe. Arrival, at New Archangel, of another would-be Ambassador. Hot Baths. Plan of the ensuing Course of our Voyage.
  

1805. June. 14th.

   On the 14th of June, at eleven o'clock in the morning, we sailed out of St. Paul's harbour. Mr. Bander took leave of us in the offing beyond the woody island, and about five in the afternoon we were able to steer a direct course for Sitca. On quitting the harbour, we took, as in the former instance, the north passage, which is the best for coming but, though impracticable for sailing in, because, with the easterly and northerly winds, a thick fog generally prevails. On passing the fort, we were saluted by the cannon; and the inhabitants flocked to the shore to take a last farewell, wishing us a safe and good voyage to our native land. There were many amongst them, I am sure, whose hearts ached to be of our party; longing once more to behold their mother-country, from which poverty alone, perhaps, kept them banished.

20th.

   At three o'clock in the afternoon of the 20th, Mount Fair-Weather was observed to the north 6° east; and soon after many other elevations appeared, amongst which was Mount Edgecumbe, bearing by the true compass south 60° east, distant about forty miles. We flattered ourselves with being able to reach the anchorage in a few hours; but the weather becoming calm, obliged us to keep at a distance from the shore; which, from being covered with snow, could not be distinctly seen in the night, though we might be close to it. This precaution was also necessary on account of the easterly currents, which had pushed us forward, during the last five days, 2° 47', and still flowed in the same direction.

21st.

   The next morning we approached Mount Edgecumbe, which, with other elevations of Sitca Sound, presented a landscape similar to the one we had seen on our first arrival at Cadiack. The tops of the mountains being covered with snow, proved that the winter had not yet left these environs; though in many places of the same latitude, summer already reigned in its full splendour. At noon we found ourselves, by observation, in the latitude of 57° 30"; from which it appears, that Cape Edgecumbe, which bore from us then north 69° east, must be placed at 57° north. We had now a southerly breeze, but it was so light that we could not reach the entrance of the harbour till late in the evening; when, meeting with a strong counter current, we were obliged, once more, to retire for the night to a station beyond the Middle Islands.

22d.

   On the 22d we succeeded in entering the harbour of New Archangel, which, however, we should not have done, on account of light breezes from the north-west, had not Mr. Baranoff sent to our assistance three large leathern boats, which towed us in about noon. As the ebb tide would not permit us to enter the passage by which we had sailed out the preceding autumn, I found myself obliged to go to the leeward of it, and I took my station to the east of the fort of New Archangel. As soon as we let go our anchor, Mr. Baranoff came on board, whom I was happy to find perfectly recovered of the wound he had received in the contest with the Sitcans. Towards evening the ship was moored east and west, with about fifteen fathoms of cable each way; the fort of New Archangel bearing west-north-west, and point Coloshenskoy north-east by east.

23d.

   The next morning I went on shore, and was surprised to see how much the new settlement was improved. By the active superintendence of Mr. Baranoff, eight very fine buildings were finished, and ground enough in a state of cultivation for fifteen kitchen-gardens. His live stock also made no despicable appearance. It consisted of four cows, two calves, three bulls, three goats, a ewe and a ram, with many swine and fowls: an acquisition altogether of great value in this part of the world.

29th.

   The weather continued fine for many days after our arrival; and on the 29th I went, with Mr. Baranoff and some of my officers, to the place where formerly stood our old fort of Archangel. There were still some buildings left, which had either escaped the ravages of the flames, or which probably the savages had not thought it worth while to destroy to the foundation. We took our dinner on these ruins; and, having paid a last respect to the manes of our countrymen, who lost their lives in defending this place, we returned home.

 []

   As I have several times in my narrative referred to this unfortunate event, I shall state here a few particulars of it. The settlement had been built but two years; and it was with the perfect concurrence of the natives, with whom Mr. Baranoff, who superintended it, was on good terms. Having occasion to go to Cadiack, he left the care of it to a Russian overseer, between whom and the principal toyons there was a still greater cordiality; for they often passed a day together, he at one or other of their houses, and they at his. With so fair a face of friendship, no enmity could be suspected, and the fort was occasionally left in a sort of unprotected state; the Russians and Aleutians being engaged in hunting the sea-otter, or in the still more necessary business of procuring a supply of provision for winter. It was an opportunity of this nature which the Sitcans embraced for the execution of their nefarious plan; and so secret were they in its management, that, while some stole through the woods, others passed in canoes by different creeks, to the place of rendezvous. They were about six hundred in number, and were all provided with fire-arms. Though the attack was wholly unexpected, the few Russians in the fort courageously defended it. But vain was defence against such numbers: it was quickly taken by storm. The assault commenced at noon, and in a few hours the place was leveled to the ground. Among the assailants were three seamen belonging to the United States, who, having deserted from their ship, had entered into the service of the Russians, and then took part against them. These double traitors were among the most active in the plot. They contrived combustible wads, which they lighted, and threw upon the buildings where they knew the gunpowder was kept, which took fire, and were blown up. Every person who was found in the fort was put to death. Not content with this, the Sitcans dispersed in search both of Russians and Aleutians, and had many opportunities of exercising their barbarity. Two Russians, in particular, were put to the most excruciating torture. The place was so rich in merchandise, that two thousand sea-otter skins, and other articles of value, were saved by the Sitcans from the conflagration.

July. 2d.

   On the 2d of July, I dispatched my ship's master to explore the coast round Mount Edgecumbe, and find out the channel beyond it, that, as I was told by the natives, led to Cross Bay. At the same time Mr. Baranoff sent an interpreter to the Sitcans, with whom he had had no personal communication during the whole winter, to acquaint them with our arrival from Cadiack, and that we had brought back several of their hostages. {I had taken all the hostages with me to Cadiack last autumn, of which I now brought back three, a Sitca youth, and two men belonging to another tribe.} It appeared as if they still retained inimical feelings; since, during the long period of our absence, not a toyon could be induced to come to the fort. They had passed the winter in a scattered state, but were now united again, and had built themselves another fort, opposite to the settlement of Hoosnoff, in Chatham's Strait, similar to the one we had destroyed. It is well situated in a small shallow bay, and is defended on the water side by a large rock. Other tribes residing about Sitca, had also, it was understood, been busily employed in fortifying their settlements; so that, it is to be feared, our countrymen here will in a short time be surrounded by very formidable and dangerous neighbours.

 []

7th.

   On the 7th my ship's master returned from his expedition. He had found the channel, and surveyed the whole island on which Mount Edgecumbe stands. To this island I gave the name of Crooze, in honour of our late admiral, to whom I am chiefly indebted for my naval preferment: as he kindly took me under his protection from my youth, and gave me every opportunity of instruction, I cannot help ascribing to him, also, whatever qualities I may possess for undertaking this long and difficult voyage.- In the course of this day we changed our old mizen-mast for a new one made of pine.
   In the morning of the 11th our interpreter returned from the nth. Sitca settlement, bringing for answer, that the toyons wished for further assurance of good intention on our part, before they would venture to come to the fort. Accordingly, to conquer their reluctance, the same person was sent back with presents, and a message of invitation couched in the civilest terms.
   On the 16th he returned, accompanied by a Sitcan ambassador 16th. and his suite, to settle the terms of a formal pacification; and we prepared to receive them with the respect due to their dignity. Although the people here may be said to live in a state of perfect barbarism, they are fond of parade, and scrupulous observers of ceremony. The party, who were in five boats, made their appearance about four o'clock in the afternoon, rowing up all together in front of the fort. When at a short distance, they began to sing, and our Aleutians sallied forth to meet them, while the Choohaches, who were appointed to conduct them to the fort, instantly prepared for the office, by powdering their hair with the down of the eagle, and dressing themselves in their best apparel. It was difficult to refrain from laughter at the odd appearance of these gentlemen-ushers. Many of them had nothing on but a thread-bare waistcoat, and others paraded naked, with the exception of an old hat or a pair of tattered breeches; yet, with these rags, they were as vain as the most finical beau in Europe. The embassy stopped when close to the beach, and commenced dancing in the boats. The toyon himself jumped and capered in the most whimsical manner, fanning himself at the same time with large feathers. The song, which they sung as an accompaniment to the dancing, was execrable. This farce over, another of

Категория: Книги | Добавил: Armush (26.11.2012)
Просмотров: 118 | Рейтинг: 0.0/0
Всего комментариев: 0
Имя *:
Email *:
Код *:
Форма входа