To home page

To archive index

To Archive Index

To contents

To Contents

Pacific Manuscript Bureau 223 frame 359, page 167

log of the ship EMERALD of Salem,  Captain John H. Eagleston

log by Joseph W. Osborn

1835   Emerald bound to Rotumah

Tuesday 9th (June) ... at 9 am saw the island of Rottumah on our larboard bow, hauled up for it & at noon came to anchor in 15 fathoms sand & shells.

Cpt Winn & Cpt Chapman have both been here. Cpt W's hand was better. Cpt Jinnis, one of our New Zealand acquaintences, has also been here., he left the Navigators (Samoa) a few days before we arrived at that place.

Mr Emery came on board. This gentleman acts as Pilot & Interpreter to those who need his services. He resides upon a small island of the harbour where he is so pleasantly situated that a description of it may not come amiss:

He was formerly mate of an English whaleship, he was obliged to leave in this place on account of his health. He so was so much pleased with the manners of these kind‑hearted people, that he had taken up his residence among them, most probably for life, he says, he has no friends in England to care for & that he cannot anywhere be better off than he is here.

It is 6 years since he took up his abode here during which time he had thoroughly learnt the language & has his little homestead in as high state of cultivation as circumstances will allow. He has a native wife.

That he is held in some estimation by his countrymen who visit this place will be shown by the numerous presents they have made & the recommendations they have given him.

Waie [Uea] ‑ This is the pleasantest little island I have yet seen. It is about 4 miles in circumference. Its sides are nearly perpendicular & are completely ironbound except on the SE side where there is a landing place, about 80 or 100 feet in length. Even here the surf beats tremendous & it is impossible to land from the boat. The way is to go in as near as possible, when they shove a canoe off which you on board off & pull in. The natives stand by & throw you a rope from on top of the rock while you watch & as the sea rises,, spring on shore. This is the only landing place, so that it naturally fortified. But to make it more secure, Mr E has a swivel & and a 12 pounder ready to beat off all assailants. After rising about 30 feet from the water, the precipice is much higher in some places & bold water close in. There is a strip of level land, but the centre of the island is a high hill, about 200 feet high.

The whole island is covered with trees & is very fertile producing all the necessarys & many of the comforts of life.

On the (top?) of this hill there is a natural spring or reservoir in the solid rock. It is about 6 feet square & 7 deep. Strange to relate, there is a species of eels in this tank, about as large round as a man's leg & lengthy in proportion.

Mr E has quite a settlement here having about 60 natives on the island. They call him chief & obey him as such. They appear to like him & do all the bids them, with the greatest cheerfulness.

He has (a) well built wooden house which is touched off with pictures & furniture, English cooking utensils etc. The whole has an air of great comfort & neatness. I almost envy the happiness he appears to enjoy & I think that if I was situated as he is, that I should want to stop here too.

He has however to keep a bright lookout on account of the "beachcombers" who are envious of the popularity he enjoys among the masters of vessels who visit here. Anyone who has visited here once giving him their business to transact with the natives.

He has also to look out for the natives on the SE side of Rottumah who are big scamps & would rob him if they could get a chance. But nature has so well fortified his residence that he can stand on his rocks & laugh them. The natives on the NW side, especially their chief, are very well disposed towards him.

Cpt, Mr E & myself went on shore to see the chief who appears to be a very sensible old chap of about 60, but like a Feegee man he loves Angonah or Ahoah as they call it here. He possesses great power with his tribe all live on this NW side of the island. After we got through with our sociable, we had a walk out to see the Sious (?). These houses are very low dirty miserable things. They are built in this way: They have posts about 3 feet high, set in the 4 corners of a square. Cross beams connect each of these. From these, rafters extend to the ridge pole, about 15 ft high. They are thatched & covered with coconut trees (?).

The doors which serve for chimney, windows & all are not more than 2 1/2 ft high & have the convenience of all who enter bow to those within. I did not see any cooking utensils or the like., but we stopped so little time I could not make a regular survey.

Canoes are so much like the Feegee that I will not give a second description.

That they have some skill in navigation will be shown from the following anecdote, related to me by Mr Emery:

The old chief & about 60 of his followers went out in their largest double canoe to fish for sharks. While out, a heavy storm came on from the E. They could not fetch back again, but drifted far to leeward. There (the) mast broke & they were completely wrecked. After a few days the tempest abated, they fished their mast & began to look for home. But as they was, it was "far far away". Fortunately the wind shifted to the W. They described a star which they knew set nearly due E from their island. They steered for this & fortunately after a 17 days cruise arrived at their homes, 6 of which they were entirely out of provisions.

We saw one of their burial places. It was banked up about 4 foot high & 50 square, having a stone wall built round to keep the earth in its place. In this mound or bank they bury their dead. Over their graves were placed large stones. Some of them were so large that 50 men would without assistance find it a hard task to lift one.

Mr Emery tells me that they bury their dead with their knees bent up, nearly to their chin, for what reason deponent saith not, except it is to have less trouble in digging the grave.

The Rottumah men are the handsomest & best of any of the South Sea Islanders, I have yet seen. They are of a good deal lighter colour than our American Indians. They are of a middle size, light‑built & active. They are tattooed from the middle nearly down to the knee. Some have it of a close pattern, others like net work, others have trees etc. which make a very good appearance. They wear their hair long. Its natural colour is black, but many of them stain it red. They crop their beards & most of them what whiskers they have.

Their usual dress is a mat made of a flaxy material, round the waist hanging down as low as the knees. I noticed some of the youngsters had on a tapper Fegee fashion.

All hands anoint themselves with oil & a kind of yellow paint which gives them rather a disgusting appearance. It has the power also of disgusting you with your own appearance after you have been among them & in their houses a little time. It gives you a saffron colour which it requires considerable use of the soap & towel to eradicate.

The Rottumah women are, to say the least, handsome, especially when compared with the other coloured ladies I have lately seen. Their manners are very pleasing, affording a striking contrast to those of the sulky Fegee & the immodest Tahiti & Navigator ladies.

The married females wear their long black hair so as to show it to the best advantage, while on the contrary, the unmarried females wear their hair dyed white. All the women wear tortoise shell rings & ear rings & tale as much care of these their jewels as our females would of theirs.

Nature has been kind enough to give‑them beautiful forms without giving them the trouble of tight lacing etc. & to show themselves to the best advantage, these simple children wear only a mat around them. This puts me in a mind of a saying I have heard somewhere of "most adorned when unadorned".

Altogether these appear to be a very willing obliging kind‑hearted race of people.

They fight but little, among themselves & we saw but very few weapons amongst them. They like all other natives who have learnt power, prefer our weapons to their own & eagerly purchase them for hogs etc.

It is upwards of 6 years since they have had a fight in the island at which time the victorious party stripped the others of all their arms & separated them entirely from themselves, since which time they have been called the Losing & the Winning side.

They love to visit foreign countries & great numbers of them ship on board the English whaleships. We had one of them on board the ship a 12 months & have paid him off since arriving here. On board a ship they are as good or better than any of the South Sea natives: diligent, civil & quiet, 3 very necessary qualities. They soon learn to talk English & there is but few of them but what can talk a few words.

The whites living on shore are, generally speaking, a gang of scoundrels & set the natives a bad example. They entice men to runaway from shipping & supply them on board with a liquour called Oggnedent ‑ I am not sure that the spelling is correct. This is very common in the East Indies & is of very intoxicating quality.

The principal trade is tobacco. For this you can purchase any small articles which they may have to dispose of. We bought a few fancy shells & several thousands of old coconuts to feed the hogs upon.

Turtle shell is excellent rade here. Of the thin pieces they make rings etc. & the large pieces cut out round serve in the lieu of money.

Blue beads, hand axes, plane Jous (?) etc are much poised by them. White shells were once in great request, but they do not think much of them now ‑having found by experience that they will not ward off a musket ball. They used, before muskets came in fashion, wear them in their fights round their heads as they were both ornamental & would break the force of the blow of a club.

They will sell their pigs for muskets, but they charge too high a price for a Blechen (?) trader to purchase them.

The island is high & is covered all over with coconut trees. The principal anchorage is the NW harbour. Here you anchor in 15 fathoms sand with Mr Emery's island bearing per compass... & a remarkable yellow cliff forming the Western point of the Bay beach.

Friday, June 12th at 10 am got under way & stood out to the N

Pacific Manuscript Bureau frame 31

ship EMERALD, Cpt Eagleston

log by George N. Cheever

1834... Cpt Winn has 3 or 4 Rotumah men which Cpt Eagleston employed at Rewa some time since & sent here in the CORAL. They are very good hands in a fish house.

June 23rd at 2 pm got underway for Rottumah, an island 3 or 4 degrees to the north. Our object in visiting this island is to procure some whales teeth, which a number residing at that island, have promised therefore to save for Cpt Eagleston. We had a fine breeze the whole distance and at noon of the 25th made the island. At 6 pm of the 26th hauled off the land, the wind having having shifted to NE, which is a bad wind for vessels at anchor here, it blowing directly into the small bay & there being no defence from the sea. At 7 am the wind having hauled back to SE, stood in for the anchorage. Saw a sail to leeward beating up for the island. We came to anchor at 8 am & the sail to leeward 2 hours after. She was the barque MARY, Cpt Drabery, a Sydney whaler, after water & refreshments.

This island is a great resort for whalers, from whom the natives obtain their whales teeth. Shortly before we came to anchor we were boarded by a Mr Amery (a white resident at this island) & 3 natives in a canoe. This man is the only person at this place on whom any reliance can be placed. The other whites (& there's plenty of them) being in general poor miserable vagabonds, runaways from vessels that visit here.  We had hardly got our anchor on bottom when we were visited by the natives in swarms. We had immediately to stow away everything moveable of value, they being great thieves. Our Cpt & Mr Amery boarded the MARY before she came to anchor & made acquaintance with Cpt Drabery who is a fine man. We obtained of him a lot of excellent whales teeth for which we gave him tobacco. This article (tobacco) is worth almost its weight in gold at this place. Most everything you wish for, that the natives have, can be purchased with it. We bought about 1200 old coconuts here for 5 or 6 lbs of tobacco. We also obtained a quantity of whales teeth of them & some wood suitable for handspikes. Another article of value with them is the top or end pieces of turtle shell, which they requested in payment for very large teeth. There is little or no provisions to be got here, but coconuts & fruit in abundance. Mr Amery informed us that the natives could easily fill a ship of this size with coconut oil once a year, if they were not so "confounded lazy.

There is no danger to be anticipated from them on board ship, the only difficulty being to keep them from below & little things out of their reach. They will even steal the coconuts you have just purchased & sell them over again if not detected. I went on shore with Mr Amery the morning previous to our departure & soon got tired of my visit. I saw enough to convince me that their intercourse with the Whites has been of no benefit to them so far & I think they are as bad as the New Zealanders (Maori) if not worse. Many of the natives have been on whaling voyages,‑ visited England & America, can speak very good English. But the treatment they receive generally deters them from going a second voyage. Some however (say?) that they have been well nod, prefer a ship to "sweet home". There are 2 aboard of us now that are very much attached to our Cpt & are determined to go with us to Otahitei & come back & make Fish le Mar (beche de mêr) as they call it. We got a quantity of teeth of Mr Amery & having collected what we could from the natives, we made our preparations for sea on the 28th.

Mr Litch, our 2nd officer, was taken sick & went below when the ship first anchored. He was visited by the doctor of the whaler who pronounced him feverish, but not dangerous. Accordingly at 2 pm we weighed anchor for Otahitei & went to sea.


June 9th at 9 pm saw the island of Rottumah on our larboard bow bearing by compass about WSW, hauled up for it & with favour of a stiff breeze had the good fortune to come to anchor again in our old place, NW bay, at about noon in 15 fathoms sand & shells.

Shortly after anchoring sent the boat after Mr Emery ‑ over to Wares Island, the place where he resides, Boat picked him up in his canoe about half way. We had observed his flag flying on the island, but not understanding the nature of the signal, concluded the surf beat too heavy for him.

From him we learn the ELIZA, Cpt Winn has been here (12.10.1834?) on her way to Manila, also brig CONSUL, Cpt Chapman (11.‑14.1.1835?).

As usual on coming to anchor in this place we were soon surrounded. by canoes & boarded by numbers of the natives. As one object in visiting here was to procure coconuts for our livestock, we informed the natives to this effect through Mr Emery & off they started to get them. It is nearly a twelve months since we anchored here before, since which time the island has been visited by numbers of vessels, mostly English whalers.

Mr Emery generally acts as Pilot & Interpreter for strangers or others that may need his services & in both characters gives perfect satisfaction ‑ living on board during the vessel's stay, consequently always on hand. He was formerly 1st officer of an English whaler & left here at this island in consequence of ill‑health. He was so much pleased with the natives, their manners & customs at that time, that he concluded to take up his residence amongst them & is most probably now settled for life. He informs me, he is perfectly satisfied & at home in his present situation, having few or no friends or relations in England that feel themselves interested in his welfare.

He resides on a small island called Ware's Island (Uea), in full view of the harbour about 5 miles distant. It is about 4 miles in circumference. Its rocky sides are nearly perpendicular & excepting a small place on the SE side is completely ironbound. This place is about 100 feet in length & being quite exposed to the sea. The surf beats up here with great violence, rendering it extremely difficult', dangerous & often utterly impossible to land or shove off from the island. More especially when the SE trades are blowing fresh. Sometimes he has been unable to leave the island for 3 or 4 weeks at a time & at others during his absence, a fresh breeze has sprung up & prevented his return for the same space of time. It is impossible or in other words not safe to land from a boat at any time, but when sufficiently near, the people ashore launch a canoe from the rock into which you transport yourself from the boat & with the assistance of rope thrown to you from ashore, you are hauled up in safety. The boat meanwhile lies at anchor a short distance off the rocks.

Uncomfortable as this landing is (seldom effecting your purpose without a good ducking) it is the only one the island's rocks afford, it happening to be on the side that slopes to the water, the rest being a bold up & down rock with 30 or Ito fathoms water within 3 or 4 boats lengths of the base, The island is thus naturally fortified, but to make it doubly Mr E has a swivel & 1 twelvepounder mounted so as to command the landing & give a warm reception to any that might be disposed to disturb him.

First & perhaps most to be feared as disturbers are the white people residing on shore. Take them all together, they are a worthless set of vagabonds, runaways from shipping that visit here, or discharged for bad conduct. For these chaps Mr E has to keep a bright lookout. They hate him for 2 reasons (very good ones amongst rogues: First they know he is the best & only one amongst them on whom can be placed any reliance. 2ndly, Masters of vessels knowing this, always give him the preference when an interpreter is wanted to transact any business with the natives.

The place being so well fortified both by nature & art, these White natives are held in check, otherwise they probably would be the first to turn him off or kill him. The natives also on the SE side of Rottumah would turn him off, if not for these above reasons, being great scamps & anxious to possess themselves of his property.

The natives of this bay being under tolerable good subjection to the old chief (who professes himself a friend to Mr E), there is not much to be feared from them at present.

Mr E's settlement on this island consists of about 60 natives, men, women & children. They consider him as their chief & obey him as such with great cheerfulness.

The whole island is covered with trees: coconut, breadfruit etc. & is very fertile, producing sufficient to satisfy all their wants. On the side of the hill, there is a natural spring that issues out of the rock, forming a small reservoir about 7 ft deep. In this reservoir Mr E informed me, there were a species of eels, some of which were nearly as large round as a man's leg & lengthy in proportion.

Mr E has a well built wooden house after the English fashion, well furnished & somewhat tastefully decorated. He has resided here about 6 years (= since 1829?), has married a native woman & has made himself thoroughly acquainted with the language.

The whole establishment wears such an air of comfort that a person situated under similar circumstances as Mr E might almost envy the happiness he enjoys.

Found the old chief still alive but greatly debilitated owing to the excessive use of the Carvah (kava) root. It is with difficulty that he supports himself on his legs & seldom goes but a short distance from his house. It is probable he will live but a short time longer, CDt E having mentioned to him (thro Mr E) a scheme relating to coconut oil, he appeared to like it much & entered into the subject with some spirit, hoping lie should soon see us there to undertake it.

The Rotumah men are as good looking & well built as any of the South Sea islanders I have yet seen, but of a much lighter complexion. They are tattooed similar to the Navigator Islanders (Samoans), but perhaps a little more variety of pattern. They wear their hair long, some with it dangling about their shoulders, others with it tied up in knots on their heads. Their dress consists simply of a fathom or 2 of cloth or tapper made fast round their hips. Some wear mats of their own manufacture which extends from "he waist to below the knees.

Their women are the handsomest native ladies that have yet come under my observation, Their manners are very pleasing, having none of the bold forward air of the Tahiti & New Zealand females. Their dress is either a mat or cloth sufficient to reach from the waist to the knees‑ showing their handsome forms to the best advantage. Hands & feet quite small ‑ in this respect totally unlike the women of other islands. This however may be owing to the easy comfortable life they lead, most of the work performed by the men & boys. The women, to use a familiar old saying, "wear the breeches". The married females wear their hair long & black, the unmarried have a custom of filling the hair full of a white powder (resembling lime as much as anything), from which circumstance they are known by the appellation of White Heads. They  are fond of beads & rings of turtle shell. The latter they value highly.

Both sexes anoint themselves with a kind of yellow or red paint (manufactured from Turmeric) which gives them rather a disgusting appearance. When the decks are full of natives I it is extremely difficult to keep clear of them; therefore utterly impossible to prevent receiving a good yellowing. Both ship & ship's company invariably leave this island wearing a bright saffron colour. The paint has this particular property: the sun is the only thing that will fade it out of clothing, soap & water having no effect upon it.

Their houses are certainly miserable habitations, being built low & kept quite dark inside, there being but a small aperture about 3 ft squared, which answers for doors, windows & chimney, They are kept dark the more effectually to keep out the numerous quantities of sandflies with which the beach abandons, The floors are hard & merely covered with a mat or plaited coconut leaves ‑ answering all purposes of chairs & beds. In the centre of the house is generally slung a little koop net on which are deposited their provisions etc. The house itself is built upon a raised bank of about 4 ft in height, walled up at the sides with stones, covered & thatched with plaited coconut leaves. All their cooking is done inside.

They have a number of burial grounds which are placed at convenient distances from the groups of houses. These are also raised about 4 ft high & from 50 to 100 ft square, having the sides walled up to keep the establishment solid. In these mounds they bury their dead till filled up & then they set themselves about building a new one. Mr E informs me they are buried in a sitting posture with their knees in contact with the chin. Over the grave is placed a large flat stone which is never removed.

Their canoes are rough made concerns,, displaying neither taste nor ornament in their construction. They bear the nearest resemblance in shape to the Navigators.

They have one large double canoe about 100 ft in length,, the largest on the island, in which the old chief & about 60 of his people once performed the following voyage:

They went out to fish for sharks a short distance from the land & while out a gale of wind breezed up from the E, which drove them so far to leeward they could not fetch back again. It carried away their mast & they were left completely at the mercy of the waves.

After the gale abated they repaired their damages as well as they could & with the help of a star shaped & steered their course for home. Fortunately they happened to make the island & arrived home after a 17 days cruise, 6 of which they were entirely out of provisions.

After this nautical exploit the double canoe was hauled up in ordinary, since which time it has not been used & is now suffered to fall to pieces.

They fight but little amongst themselves & are possessed of but few offensive weapons. It is about 6 years since they had fight amongst themselves, at which time the victors stripped the vanquished of all their arms & munitions of war & separated themselves entirely from them.

The old chief's party of this bay is the strongest & the chief is quite anxious to keep the other party from trading with shipping, the more effectually to prevent them from procuring arms.

We purchased about 5000 old coconuts for the use of our livestock, for which we paid as usually in tobacco at the rate of about one lb for 300. We might have purchased a few yams but there was plenty on board ‑ other provisions they had none to dispose of,

The trade for this island is as follows:

cloth          say bleached, unbleached or common print

Tobacco        large head leaf goes farthest in way of trade

thick edge pieces of turtle shell   they prize highly

hand axes, large knives (sheath), small pocket ones

scissors, blue beads etc.

powder         asked for by many

muskets        not much wanted, well supplied

The Rottumah men are good & willing hands to work on board ship & provided a gang of natives are wanted for any purpose on other Is, these natives are probably the best that could be obtained. We discharged one here that had been on board nearly a year, paid him off in trade that we had, with which he was well satisfied & said if the ship came back again he would go on board and work again. They pick up the English language quite fast.

frame 051: map of NW bay and the three islands!

NW bay of Rotumah lies in Lat 12o 29'S Long 176o 57'E. Bay opens to NNW, consequently is sheltered from SE winds & sea from the same quarter. Westerly winds seldom occur except from November to April during which months it is often dangerous for vessels to anchor here, there being no defense from the sea.

The reef is close in & connected with the shorel affording simply one or two passages for boats, the principle of which is near the western boundary of the bay. Another lies in about the centre of the reef. Neither of these passages are safe except at high water. In shore of the reef close to the beach the water is quite deep, from 2 to 4 fathoms.

The high bluff point forming the western boundary of the bay is an excellent landmark for distinguishing the anchorage at a distance from the island. The rock forming this island is of remarkable yellowish colour ' which may be clearly distinguished at the distance of from 15' to 201. At this distance this point has the appearance of being detached from the main island & forming a separate one like Waie island.

The land at the bottom of the bay being low land to the opposite shore of the island, is the cause of its appearing thus.

There are other anchoring places at the island but being unprotected are dangerous at all seasons.

Friday 9th   Having settled our concerns, prepared again for sea. We      obtained a quantity of whales teeth from Mr Emery which he had collected from the whalers that stooped here. These with what few we got from the natives & those obtained at Tahiti, amounts to about 450 lbs on hand for another voyage. Consigned to Mr Emery 1 keg of tobacco for the purpose of purchasing teeth with orders not to dispose of any he may collect to any other trading vessel without orders from Cpt E. Left letters & copy of Nautical Almanac for 1835 in care of Mr E for the CORAL, as she will probably touch here about the 1st July on her way to Manilla, having received orders so to do.

(12.6.?)  at 10 am got underway with a fine breeze from SE & stood out to the N.


Pacific Manuscript Bureau frame 151

ship EMERALD   log by Cpt Eagleston

June 1834

sailed on the morning of the 22nd for Rotumah, where we anchored on the 26 am. Here we got 100 lbs of whales teeth & 2000 old coconuts. The English barque MARY TIDNEY, whaler, Cpt Drabury anchored two hours after us. She was 16 months out with 1000 barrels of oil. On the 28th we got underway for Otaheetee with a strong SE 

1835 June 10 at 11am came to anchor in‑NW bay Rhotumah, in 16 fathoms sand & shells, dist. from shore 1 mile ‑ yellow bluff SW to W, Waie WNW, Lone Coconut Point ENE.

Rhotumah is about 25 miles in circumference with a reef all round Its shore which extends off from 1/2 to 1 mile. It is high broken land about its central part & will be seen from a ship's deck in clear weather 80 miles. It is covered from its summit to the water's edge with coconut trees & produces the largest nuts of any island that I have ever visited.

On its eastern side there are several small but pretty high islands which stand on the edge of the reef & near the shore, On the west side there is several more small ones,, from it to 6 miles off shore, with a good passage between them 4 Rhotumah through which I have passed several times in the PERU & EMERALD.

Rhotumah is a very pleasant little spot & much resorted to by the whale ships that fish in these seas for the purpose of procuring supplies. It produces some good timber & much of it fine redwood which when worked is equally as parthy (?) as any of our fine woods, but not so easy to work as it is very cross grained.

The shore under the coconut trees is lined with houses all round the island & a many these at short distances is to be seen their burying places laid out with neatness & regularity, which shows they have more respect for their departed friends than any of their neighbours that I have visited in this ocean, missionary stations not excepted.

The island is divided into many districts each one having its place for the dead & is governed by a small chief. Tominak (?) who is the greatest chief on the island resides in NW bay, which is the pleasant part of the island & is where the winning or strongest party resides, the losing or weaker party reside at the NE part of the island.

They all live on the best terms & are very friendly towards each other. Broils happen but seldom amongst them & since their great intercourse with the Whites, they have had none & have lived in the gannhd (?) of friendship & at present are more civilised than the Otahitians who has had missionaries residing with them since March 7, 1797.

As long as these skinners are kept from the small but pleasant little spot, the natives will remain as they are at present ‑ inoffensive & hospitable & their wants never excede a chew tobacco to fill the pipe which is the only one they know of at present.

Marrying: In this they are very strict. No man allowed to have more than one rib (wife?) at the time. But in case they should come to swords & pacints (?) & cannot live pleasantly together, they are at liberty to part & splice again to new ribs. This commerce takes place but seldom. The ladies are given away by their friends with much good advice in regard to a marryed life: The great comfort they would enjoy by living happily together & reserving the only to themselves & shunning all others. After this a feast or grand Tuckout of grub follows & the ceremony ends.

The men do all the cooking & laborious work while the females take care of the house & make mats some of which are very fine & neatly made. Those for clothing lightly threwed with a fine soft bark which is before using pounded until it becomes like tun(?)

The young girls before marriage are termed "white heads" from their dressing their heads daily with a white sort of lime. This is not put all over the head but on the crown where the hair is cut & kept short for that purpose. The females in general are very pretty, well made, not overtall, with small feet, black sparkling eyes & long black & glossy hair hanging over their shoulders in ringlets & sets them off with may of our fine feather birds at home. Their teeth are generally good, but a little dark owing to the use of tobacco which they are very fond of smoking. Their catheads are small, hard & as plump as an apple & too pretty to be left exposed. to rew which they are. They are very modest, affectionate & loving, more so then any other natives I have ever seen. They are also very clean in their persons, washing once &,twice a day lone & loft. Their dress consists of a nice soft mat which is slightly thruwed & worn round the body. With this they use a fine yellow paint made of turmeric. This Is rubbed over the skin. with a little scented coconut oil which keeps their skin soft & smooth. They also tattoo on their arms & hands. This is done very neatly in imitation of fish, birds etc. & is not a bad ornament to these parts.

The men in general are not so good looking as the females, but kind & hospitable & like all their neighbours in the South Sea., are given to thieving. In this they think there is no harm, as long as It is not from their island friends. So that when a ship anchors, her deck is soon swarmed with them & all small trups put out of their way. On a former voyage I was on shore one evening with my boat & while sitting in the chief's house, one of my men by the boat had his hat stolen from off his head, at which one of his ship mates put his hand to this man to find if it was safe & finding it was, commenced a hearty laugh at the other's misfortune. When a native took the liberty to take his hat which contained a knife & some tobacco & made for the bush, with Jack at his heels & his ship mates by the boat laughing at the frolic, but Jack could not sail (= catch up) with the native & had to return without his traps. The news came in to me when I applied to the chief & the two hats with the knife was soon returned.

They make good ship men & for a trading vessel are preferable to any of the other natives which I am acquainted with, they being more true & faithful & more to be depended on. I have had a number of them during my voyages to these seas, as well as other islanders, but always found the former to be the best.

They tattoo from the waist to near their knees, mostly in curved lines. Their hair is worn long & when not in presence of a chief is tied in a knot on the head. Their dress Is like the females' & worn the same.

Their war implements consist of clubs, spears & a few muskets. It is many years since they had any occasion to use them & at present there is but few to be seen & what few ‑they have are kept stowed in their houses & not taken out.

Houses then are small & after the fashion of the Tongan houses, rounding at the ends & when entered it is on all fours & being your head near the ground. The mwark about them is no ways fine. This is probably owing to their not having good materials to build them of, Before building there is a bank of some layings done up to the height of 2 or 3 ft above the common level of the ground, This is also done at the Feegees & is to keep the rains from overflowing the floors. It is on this bank that the house is erected & built of coconut logs which are split & boned out to a small size and used for rafters & the larger logs for parts & fore and after prices. It is covered with coconut leaves at top & sides & for the floors there is one thickness of mats laid which is also made of coconut leaves. They have no fire places in them or cooking vessels, but do their cooking in an out‑house & in a lobe (hole ?) with heated stones. This lobe is a hole of some lyings deep in the ground after which it is filled with wood. This is set on fire & on top of it the stones are placed. Till the wood burns down, the smoky brands are then low put, the stones replaced on the coals. When the yams, breadfruit etc. is laid onto them & covered over with many leaves. On these again the earth is hove to keep in all heat. It is then left to take care of itself for 1/2 or 3/4 of an hour ‑ when it is opened & the grub taken out in fine order. In cooking hogs they put a few of the stones inside of him & in this way all their cooking is done.

Their furniture consists of mats, carved bare wood pillows, few clubs, spears & drinking vessels of coconut shells.

God honors of these with them, every chief has one, they are no different from the others & for a priest they have an old woman who at times lays the laws down to them in grand female stile. She at times makes offerings of hogs to the spirit which is done to keep in his good graces & to keep him in good humour.

On a former voyage I saw one of their grand old dances (?) in a great quandary which was quite amusing. By Teminar's orders I went with Mr Emery to another town to cut a few ironwood trees for hand spikes, which stood in front of & near one of their houses. On our arrival I set my men to cutting the trees when the chief of the town came up & informed us that the trees belonged to the spirit house & that it would not dare to cut them. Oofer, a little boy & son to Teminar, replied it was his father's orders. At this the chief at quick time hastened to the old woman & related the circumstance. When she gave a groan, took up a Carver root & they both proceeded to the spirit house. When entered, the old woman set her clapper going & at some time commenced a violent shake as if she intended to heave all her bones out of their places. By the motion of her body, her blannery (?) was to request the good spirit not to be putant with them for our taking the trees, as they had been given to us by Teminar & unbeknown to them, She continued her spake & blannery & rue to cutting our trees until all cut & in the boat, after which we took our departure, leaving the two good old ignorant alas still shaking & in great trouble on account of the trees.

Burying places. These are from 30 to 40 ft each way with a nice stone wall of 3 to 4 ft In height that goes all round. it, the earth being even with the top of the wall. Inside this they deposit their dead In graves which is dug of sufficient depth & after filling them up, there is stones placed all around them. On top of these again there is laid a large flat stone. Some of these I have seen on a chief's grave would weigh at least two tons. These are put on to keep their friends from (misery) which they think would be the case, if any little thing should be done to displease their departed friends. These big stones is very abundant & I should think would make good mill/wall (?) stones.

Canoes.  These are from 15‑20 to 30 ft in length, up to 2 wide  & 1 deep with a slight outrigger. There is but little neatness about 2 them & generally made out of one log & moved by paddles ‑ no sail.

Teminar has two large double ones which are about 50 to 70 ft in length & put together after the fashion of the Feegee canoes. These are not used, but kept in houses., out of the weather. They say, these were made for voyaging, which was attempted by them a number of years ago. But after being absent 15 days they landed on the island again nearly starved & sick of their voyage of discovery. It seems they intended to sail to the westward, but the westerly winds would not allow them to sail in that direction & after beating against them for some time, they gave it up & guided by stars they steered for home & had the grand luck to arrive in safety. Since that they have thought but little about voyaging in their own reefsails ‑ but prefer those that visit them.

There is generally a number of Whites residing here who are run= aways from ships, all of them great scumps & are before the natives in stealing. They have lately taken to extracting sap from the head of the coconut trees. This brings an intoxication & is called toddy.

Productions there are Yams Tarro, sort of potatoes, Pumpkins, Breadfruit, Plantains, Bananas', large plum called Vee (vi) ‑ caby nut which is large & eats like chestnut ‑ small plum called durver (?), arrowroot, turmeric, coconut, hogs, pigs, fowls & Carver which is drunk by both classes; some fish round the reef, plenty of good water & wood, but must be got off at high water.

For trade: tobacco, beads assorted, axes, hatchets, powder & cloth, white & blue of good quality & wide. Same pipes. I pound tobacco 100 coconuts, might be much oil made here.

12th     at 10 am hove up & made sail for Manila with a fine breeze from SE & pleasant. Left with Mr Emery one keg of tobacco, to buy whales teeth with & to save for me in case I should visit this ocean again.

To home page

To archive index

To Archive Index

To contents

To Contents