A Continuation of a Voyage to New Holland/Chapter 4
THE MAINLAND OF NEW GUINEA. ITS INHABITANTS. SLINGERS BAY.
The mainland at this place is high and mountainous, adorned with tall flourishing trees; the sides of the hills had many large plantations and patches of cleared land; which, together with the smokes we saw, were certain signs of its being well inhabited; and I was desirous to have some commerce with the inhabitants. Being nigh the shore we saw first one proa; a little after, 2 or 3 more; and at last a great many boats came from all the adjacent bays. When they were 46 in number they approached so near us that we could see each other's signs, and hear each other speak; though we could not understand them, nor they us. They made signs for us to go in towards the shore, pointing that way; it was squally weather, which at first made me cautious of going too near; but, the weather beginning to look pretty well, I endeavoured to get into a bay ahead of us, which we could have got into well enough at first; but while we lay by we were driven so far to leeward that now it was more difficult to get in. The natives lay in their proas round us; to whom I showed beads, knives, glasses, to allure them to come nearer; but they would come so nigh as to receive anything from us. Therefore I threw out some things to them, namely a knife fastened to a piece of board, and a glass bottle corked up with some beads in it, which they took up and seemed well pleased. They often struck their left breast with their right hand, and as often held up a black truncheon over their heads, which we thought was a token of friendship; wherefore we did the like. And when we stood in towards their shore they seemed to rejoice; but when we stood off they frowned, yet kept us company in their proas, still pointing to the shore. About 5 o'clock we got within the mouth of the bay and sounded several times, but had no ground though within a mile of the shore. The basin of this bay was above 2 miles within us, into which we might have gone; but, as I was not assured of anchorage there, so I thought it not prudence to run in at this time; it being near night and seeing a black tornado rising in the west, which I most feared: besides we had near 200 men in proas close by us. And the bays on the shore were lined with men from one end to the other, where there could not be less than 3 or 400 more. What weapons they had we know not, nor yet their design. Therefore I had, at their first coming near us, got up all our small arms, and made several put on cartouch boxes to prevent treachery. At last I resolved to go out again: which, when the natives in their proas perceived, they began to fling stones at us as fast as they could, being provided with engines for that purpose (wherefore I named this place Slingers Bay). But at the firing of one gun they were all amazed, drew off and flung no more stones. They got together as if consulting what to do; for they did not make in towards the shore, but lay still, though some of them were killed or wounded; and many of them had paid for their boldness, but that it was unwilling to cut off any of them; which, if I had done, I could not hope afterwards to bring them to treat with me.
The next day we sailed close by an island where we saw many smokes, and men in the bays; out of which came 2 canoes, taking much pains to overtake us, but they could not, though we went with an easy sail; and I could not now stay for them. As I passed by the south-east point I sounded several times within a mile of the sandy bays, but had no ground: about 3 leagues to the northward of the south-east point we opened a large deep bay, secured from west-north-west and south-west winds. There were 2 other islands that lay to the north-east of it which secured the bay from north-east winds; one was but small, yet woody; the other was a league long, inhabited and full of coconut-trees. I endeavoured to get into this bay; but there came such flaws off from the high land over it that I could not; besides we had many hard squalls which deterred me from it; and, night coming on, I would not run any hazard, but bore away to the small inhabited island to see if we could get anchoring on the east side of it. When we came there we found the island so narrow that there could be no shelter; therefore I tacked and stood towards the greater island again: and, being more than midway between both, I lay by, designing to endeavour for anchorage next morning. Between 7 and 8 at night we spied a canoe close by us; and, seeing no more, suffered her to come aboard. She had 3 men in her who brought off 5 coconuts, for which I gave each of them a knife and a string of beads to encourage them to come off again in the morning: but before these went away we saw 2 more canoes coming; therefore we stood away to the northward from them and then lay by again till day. We saw no more boats this night; neither designed to suffer any to come aboard in the dark.
By nine o'clock the next morning we were got within a league of the great island, but were kept off by violent gusts of wind. These squalls gave us warning of their approach by the clouds which hung over the mountains, and afterwards descended to the foot of them; and then it is we expect them speedily.
GERRIT DENNIS ISLE DESCRIBED.
On the 3rd of March, being about 5 leagues to leeward of the great island, we saw the mainland ahead; and another great high island to leeward of us, distance about 7 leagues; which we bore away for. It is called in the Dutch charts Gerrit Denis Isle. It is about 14 or 15 leagues round; high and mountainous, and very woody: some trees appeared very large and tall; and the bays by the seaside are well stored with coconut-trees; where we also saw some small houses. The sides of the mountains are thick set with plantations; and the mould in the new cleared land seemed to be of a brown-reddish colour. This island is of no regular figure, but is full of points shooting forth into the sea; between which are many sandy bays, full of coconut-trees. The middle of the isle lies in 3 degrees 10 minutes south latitude.
It is very populous; the natives are very black, strong, and well-limbed people; having great round heads, their hair naturally curled and short, which they shave into several forms, and dye it also of divers colours, namely red, white and yellow. They have broad round faces with great bottle noses, yet agreeable enough, till they disfigure them by painting, and by wearing great things through their noses as big as a man's thumb and about four inches long; these are run clear through both nostrils, one end coming out by one cheek-bone, and the other end against the other; and their noses so stretched that only a small slip of them appears about the ornament. They have also great holes in their ears, wherein they wear such stuff as in their noses.
They are very dexterous active fellows in their proas, which are very ingeniously built. They are narrow and long with outlagers on one side; the head and stern higher than the rest, and carved into many devices, namely some fowl, fish, or a man's head, painted or carved: and though it is but rudely done, yet the resemblance appears plainly, and shows an ingenious fancy. But with what instruments they make their proas or carved work I know not; for they seem to be utterly ignorant of iron. They have very neat paddles with which they manage their proas dexterously and make great way through the water. Their weapons are chiefly lances, swords and slings, and some bows and arrows: they have also wooden fishgigs for striking fish. Those that came to assault us in Slingers Bay on the main are in all respects like these; and I believe these are alike treacherous. Their speech is clear and distinct; the words they used most when near us were "vacousee allamais," and then they pointed to the shore. Their signs of friendship are either a great truncheon, or bough of a tree full of leaves put on their heads; often striking their heads with their hands.
ANTHONY CAVE'S ISLAND.
The next day, having a fresh gale of wind, we got under a high island, about 4 or 5 leagues round, very woody, and full of plantations upon the sides of the hills; and in the bays by the waterside are abundance of coconut-trees. It lies in the latitude of 3 degrees 25 minutes south, and meridian distance from Cape Mabo 1316 miles. On the south-east part of it or 3 or 4 other small woody islands; one high and peaked, the other low and flat; all bedecked with coconut-trees and other wood. On the north there is another island of an indifferent height, and of a somewhat larger circumference than the great high island last mentioned. We passed between this and the high island. The high island is called in the Dutch charts Anthony Cave's Island. As for the flat low island and the other small one, it is probable they were never seen by the Dutch; nor the islands to the north of Gerrit Dennis Island.
As soon as we came near Cave's Island some canoes came about us and made signs for us to come ashore, as all the rest had done before; probably thinking we could run the ship aground anywhere, as they did their proas; for we saw neither sail nor anchor among any of them, though most eastern Indians have both. These had proas made of one tree, well dug, with outlagers on one side: they were but small yet well shaped. We endeavoured to anchor but found no ground within a mile of the shore: we kept close along the north side, still sounding till we came to the north-east end, but found no ground; the canoes still accompanying us; and the bays were covered with men going along as we sailed: many of them strove to swim off to us but we left them astern. Being at the north-east point we found a strong current setting to the north-west; so that though we had steered to keep under the high island, yet we were driven towards the flat one. At this time 3 of the natives came aboard: I gave each of them a knife, a looking-glass, and a string of beads. I showed them pumpkins and coconut-shells, and made signs to them to bring some aboard, and had presently 3 coconuts out of one of the canoes. I showed them nutmegs, and by their signs I guessed they had some on the island. I also showed them some gold-dust, which they seemed to know, and called out "manneel, manneel," and pointed towards the land. A while after these men were gone 2 or 3 canoes came from the flat island, and by signs invited us to their island; at which the others seemed displeased, and used very menacing gestures and (I believe) speeches to each other. Night coming on we stood off to sea; and, having but little wind all night, were driven away to the north-west. We saw many great fires on the flat island. These last men that came off to us were all black, as those we had seen before with frizzled hair: they were very tall, lusty, well-shaped men; they wear great things in their noses, and paint as the others, but not much; they make the same signs of friendship, and their language seems to be one: but the others had proas, and these canoes. On the sides of some of these we saw the figures of several fish neatly cut; and these last were not so shy as the others.
TREES FULL OF WORMS FOUND IN THE SEA.
Steering away from Cave's Island south-south-east we found a strong current against us, which set only in some places in streams; and in them we saw many trees and logs of wood which drove by us. We had but little wood aboard; wherefore I hoisted out the pinnace and sent her to take up some of this driftwood. In a little time she came aboard with a great tree in a tow, which we could hardly hoist in with all our tackles. We cut up the tree and split it for firewood. It was much worm-eaten and had in it some live worms above an inch long, and about the bigness of a goose-quill, and having their heads crusted over with a thin shell.
ST. JOHN'S ISLAND.
After this we passed by an island called by the Dutch St. John's Island, leaving it to the north of us. It is about 9 or 10 leagues round and very well adorned with lofty trees. We saw many plantations on the sides of the hills, and abundance of coconut-trees about them; as also thick groves on the bays by the seaside. As we came near it 3 canoes came off to us but would not come aboard. They were such as we had seen about the other islands: they spoke the same language, and made the same signs of peace; and their canoes were such as at Cave's Island.
THE MAINLAND OF NEW GUINEA.
We stood along by St. John's Island till we came almost to the south-east point; and then, seeing no more islands to the eastward of us, nor any likelihood of anchoring under this, I steered away for the main of New Guinea; we being now (as I supposed) to the east of it, on this north side. My design of seeing these islands as I passed along was to get wood and water, but could find no anchor-ground, and therefore could not do as I purposed. Besides, these islands are all so populous that I dared not send my boat ashore unless I could have anchored pretty nigh. Wherefore I rather chose to prosecute my design on the main, the season of the year being now at hand; for I judged the westerly winds were nigh spent.
On the 8th of March we saw some smokes on the main, being distant from it 4 or 5 leagues. It is very high, woody land, with some spots of savannah. About 10 in the morning 6 or 7 canoes came off to us: most of them had no more than one man in them; they were all black, with short curled hair; having the same ornaments in their noses, and their heads so shaved and painted, and speaking the same words, as the inhabitants of Cave's Island before mentioned.
THE COAST DESCRIBED.
There was a headland to the southward of us beyond which, seeing no land, I supposed that from thence the land trends away more westerly. This headland lies in the latitude of 5 degrees 2 minutes south, and meridian distance from Cape Mabo 1290 miles. In the night we lay by for fear of over-shooting this headland. Between which and Cape St. Maries the land is high, mountainous and woody; having many points of land shooting out into the sea, which make so many fine bays. The coast lies north-north-east and south-south-west.
The 9th in the morning a huge black man came off to us in a canoe but would not come aboard. He made the same signs of friendship to us as the rest we had met with; yet seemed to differ in his language, not using any of those words which the others did. We saw neither smokes nor plantations near this headland. We found here variation 1 degree east.
CAPE AND BAY ST. GEORGE.
In the afternoon, as we plied near the shore, 3 canoes came off to us; one had 4 men in her, the others 2 apiece. That with the 4 men came pretty nigh us, and showed us a coconut and water in a bamboo, making signs that there was enough ashore where they lived; they pointed to the place where they would have us go, and so went away. We saw a small round pretty high island, about a league to the north of this headland, within which there was a large deep bay, whither the canoes went; and we strove to get thither before night, but could not; wherefore we stood off, and saw land to the westward of this headland, bearing west by south half south, distance about 10 leagues; and, as we thought, still more land bearing south-west by south, distance 12 or 14 leagues: but, being clouded, it disappeared and we thought we had been deceived. Before night we opened the headland fair and I named it Cape St. George. The land from hence trends away west-north-west about 10 leagues, which is as far as we could see it; and the land that we saw to the westward of it in the evening, which bore west by south half south, was another point about 10 leagues from Cape St. George; between which there runs in a deep bay for 20 leagues or more. We saw some high land in spots like islands down in that bay at a great distance; but whether they are islands or the main closing there we know not. The next morning we saw other land to the south-east of the westermost point, which till then was clouded; it was very high land, and the same that we saw the day before, that disappeared in a cloud. This Cape St. George lies in the latitude of 5 degrees 5 minutes south; and meridian distance from Cape Mabo 1290 miles. The island off this cape I called St. George's Isle; and the bay between it and the west point I named St. George's Bay. Note: no Dutch charts go so far as this cape, by 10 leagues. On the 10th in the evening we got within a league of the westermost land seen, which is pretty high and very woody, but no appearance of anchoring. I stood off again, designing (if possible) to ply to and fro in this bay till I found a conveniency to wood and water. We saw no more plantations, nor coconut-trees; yet in the night we discerned a small fire right against us. The next morning we saw a burning mountain in the country. It was round, high, and peaked at top (as most volcanoes are) and sent forth a great quantity of smoke. We took up a log of driftwood and split it for firing; in which we found some small fish.
The day after we passed by the south-west cape of this bay, leaving it to the north of us: when we were abreast of it I called my officers together, and named it Cape Orford, in honour of my noble patron; drinking his lordship's health. This cape bears from Cape St. George south-west about 18 leagues. Between them there is a bay about 25 leagues deep, having pretty high land all round it, especially near the capes, though they themselves are not high. Cape Orford lies in the latitude of 5 degrees 24 minutes south by my observation; and meridian distance from Cape St. George 44 miles west. The land trends from this cape north-west by west into the bay, and on the other side south-west per compass, which is south-west 9 degrees west, allowing the variation which is here 9 degrees east. The land on each side of the cape is more savannah than woodland, and is highest on the north-west side. The cape itself is a bluff point of an indifferent height with a flat tableland at top. When we were to the south-west of the cape it appeared to be a low point shooting out; which you cannot see when abreast of it. This morning we struck a log of driftwood with our turtle-irons, hoisted it in, and split it for firewood. Afterwards we struck another but could not get it in. There were many fish about it.
We steered along south-west as the land lies, keeping about 6 leagues off the shore; and, being desirous to cut wood and fill water if I saw any conveniency, I lay by in the night, because I would not miss any place proper for those ends, for fear of wanting such necessaries as we could not live without. This coast is high and mountainous, and not so thick with trees as that on the other side of Cape Orford.
ANOTHER BAY. THE INHABITANTS THERE.
On the 14th, seeing a pretty deep bay ahead, and some islands where I thought we might ride secure, we ran in towards the shore and saw some smokes. At 10 o'clock we saw a point which shot out pretty well into the sea, with a bay within it which promised fair for water; and we stood in with a moderate gale. Being got into the bay within the point we saw many coconut-trees, plantations, and houses. When I came within 4 or 5 mile of the shore 6 small boats came off to view us, with about 40 men in them all. Perceiving that they only came to view us and would not come aboard, I made signs and waved to them to go ashore; but they did not or would not understand me; therefore I whistled a shot over their heads out of my fowling-piece, and then they pulled away for the shore as hard as they could. These were no sooner ashore but we saw 3 boats coming from the islands to leeward of us, and they soon came within call; for we lay becalmed. One of the boats had about 40 men in her, and was a large well-built boat; the other 2 were but small. Not long after I saw another boat coming out of that bay where I intended to go: she likewise was a large boat, with a high head and stern painted and full of men; this I thought came off to fight us, as it is probable they all did; therefore I fired another small shot over the great boat that was nigh us, which made them leave their babbling and take to their paddles. We still lay becalmed; and therefore they, rowing wide of us, directed their course toward the other great boat that was coming off: when they were pretty near each other I caused the gunner to fire a gun between them which he did very dexterously; it was loaded with round and partridge-shot; the last dropped in the water somewhat short of them, but the round shot went between both boats and grazed about 100 yards beyond them; this so affrighted them that they rowed away for the shore as fast as they could, without coming near each other; and the little boats made the best of their way after them: and now, having a gentle breeze at south-south-east, we bore in to the bay after them. When we came by the point I saw a great number of men peeping from under the rocks: I ordered a shot to be fired close by to scare them. The shot grazed between us and the point; and, mounting again, flew over the point, and grazed a second time just by them. We were obliged to sail along close by the bays; and, seeing multitudes setting under the trees, I ordered a third gun to be fired among the coconut-trees to scare them; for, my business being to wood and water, I thought it necessary to strike some terror into the inhabitants, who were very numerous, and (by what I saw now and had formerly experienced) treacherous. After this I sent my boat to sound; they had first 40, then 30, and at last 20 fathom water. We followed the boat and came to anchor about a quarter of a mile from the shore in 26 fathom water, fine black sand and oaze. We rode right against the mouth of a small river where I hoped to find fresh water. Some of the natives standing on a small point at the river's mouth, I sent a small shot over their heads to fright them; which it did effectually.
A LARGE ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR'S ATTEMPTS TO TRADE WITH THEM.
In the afternoon I sent my boat ashore to the natives who stood upon the point by the river's mouth with a present of coconuts; when the boat was come near the shore they came running into the water, and put their nuts into the boat. Then I made a signal for the boat to come aboard, and sent both it and the yawl into the river to look for fresh water, ordering the pinnace to lie near the river's mouth while the yawl went up to search. In an hour's time they returned aboard with some barrecoes full of fresh water, which they had taken up about half a mile up the river. After which I sent them again with casks; ordering one of them to fill water, and the other to watch the motion of the natives, lest they should make any opposition; but they did not, and so the boats returned a little before sunset with a tun and a half of water; and the next day by noon brought aboard about 6 tun of water.
I sent ashore commodities to purchase hogs, etc., being informed that the natives have plenty of them, as also of yams and other good roots; but my men returned without getting anything that I sent them for; the natives being unwilling to trade with us: yet they admired our hatchets and axes; but would part with nothing but coconuts; which they used to climb the trees for; and so soon as they gave them our men they beckoned to them to be gone; for they were much afraid of us.
The 18th I sent both boats again for water, and before noon they had filled all my casks. In the afternoon I sent them both to cut wood; but, seeing about 40 natives standing on the bay at a small distance from our men, I made a signal for them to come aboard again; which they did, and brought me word that the men which we saw on the bay were passing that way, but were afraid to come nigh them. At 4 o'clock I sent both the boats again for more wood, and they returned in the evening. Then I called my officers to consult whether it were convenient to stay here longer, and endeavour a better acquaintance with these people or go to sea. My design of tarrying here longer was, if possible, to get some hogs, goats, yams and other roots; as also to get some knowledge of the country and its product. My officers unanimously gave their opinions for staying longer here. So the next day I sent both boats ashore again to fish and to cut more wood. While they were ashore about 30 or 40 men and women passed by them; they were a little afraid of our people at first; but upon their making signs of friendship they passed by quietly; the men finely bedecked with feathers of divers colours about their heads, and lances in their hands; the women had no ornament about them, nor anything to cover their nakedness but a bunch of small green boughs before and behind, stuck under a string which came round their waists. They carried large baskets on their heads, full of yams. And this I have observed amongst all the wild natives I have known that they make their women carry the burdens, while the men walk before without any other load than their arms and ornaments. At noon our men came aboard with the wood they had cut, and had caught but 6 fishes at 4 or 5 hauls of the seine, though we saw abundance of fish leaping in the bay all the day long.
In the afternoon I sent the boats ashore for more wood; and some of our men went to the natives' houses, and found they were now more shy than they used to be; had taken down all the coconuts from the trees and driven away their hogs. Our people made signs to them to know what was become of their hogs, etc. The natives, pointing to some houses in the bottom of the bay, and imitating the noise of those creatures, seemed to intimate that there were both hogs and goats of several sizes, which they expressed by holding their hands abroad at several distances from the ground.
At night our boats came aboard with wood, and the next morning I went myself with both boats up the river to the watering-place, carrying with me all such trifles and iron-work as I thought most proper to induce them to a commerce with us; but I found them very shy and roguish. I saw but 2 men and a boy: one of the men by some signs was persuaded to come to the boat's side, where I was; to him I gave a knife, a string of beads, and a glass bottle; the fellow called out, "cocos, cocos," pointing to a village hard by, and signified to us that he would go for some; but he never returned to us. And thus they had frequently of late served our men. I took 8 or 9 men with me and marched to their houses, which I found very mean; and their doors made fast with withes.
I visited 3 of their villages; and, finding all the houses thus abandoned by the inhabitants, who carried with them all their hogs etc., I brought out of their houses some small fishing-nets in recompense for those things they had received of us. As we were coming away we saw 2 of the natives; I showed them the things that we carried with us and called to them "cocos, cocos," to let them know that I took these things because they had not made good what they had promised by their signs, and by their calling out "cocos." While I was thus employed the men in the yawl filled 2 hogsheads of water and all the barrecoes. About 1 in the afternoon I came aboard and found all my officers and men very importunate to go to that bay where the hogs were said to be. I was loth to yield to it, fearing they would deal too roughly with the natives. By 2 o'clock in the afternoon many black clouds gathered over the land, which I thought would deter them from their enterprise; but they solicited me the more to let them go. At last I consented, sending those commodities I had ashore with me in the morning, and giving them a strict charge to deal by fair means, and to act cautiously for their own security. The bay I sent them to was about 2 miles from the ship. As soon as they were gone I got all things ready that, if I saw occasion, I might assist them with my great guns. When they came to land the natives in great companies stood to resist them; shaking their lances and threatening them; and some were so daring as to wade into the sea, holding a target in one hand and a lance in the other. Our men held up to them such commodities as I had sent, and made signs of friendship; but to no purpose; for the natives waved them off. Seeing therefore they could not be prevailed upon to a friendly commerce, my men, being resolved to have some provision among them, fired some muskets to scare them away; which had the desired effect upon all but 2 or 3, who stood still in a menacing posture till the boldest dropped his target and ran away; they supposed he was shot in the arm: he and some others felt the smart of our bullets but none were killed; our design being rather to fright than to kill them. Our men landed and found abundance of tame hogs running among the houses. They shot down 9, which they brought away, besides many that ran away wounded. They had but little time; for in less than an hour after they went from the ship it began to rain: wherefore they got what they could into the boats; for I had charged them to come away if it rained. By that time the boat was aboard and the hogs taken in it cleared up; and my men desired to make another trip thither before night; this was about 5 in the evening; and I consented, giving them order to repair on board before night. In the close of the evening they returned accordingly with 8 hogs more, and a little live pig; and by this time the other hogs were jerked and salted. These that came last we only dressed and corned till morning; and then sent both boats ashore for more refreshments, either of hogs or roots: but in the night the natives had conveyed away their provisions of all sorts. Many of them were now about the houses, and none offered to resist our boats landing, but on the contrary were so amicable that one man brought 10 or 12 coconuts, left them on the shore after he had showed them to our men, and went out of sight. Our people finding nothing but nets and images brought some of them away; which 2 of my men brought aboard in a small canoe; and presently after, my boats came off. I ordered the boatswain to take care of the nets, till we came at some place where they might be disposed of for some refreshment for the use of all the company: the images I took into my own custody.
In the afternoon I sent the canoe the place from whence she had been brought; and in her, 2 axes, 2 hatchets (one of them helved) 6 knives, 6 looking-glasses, a large bunch of beads, and 4 glass bottles. Our men drew the canoe ashore, placed the things to the best advantage in her; and came off in the pinnace which I sent to guard them. And now, being well stocked with wood and all my water-casks full, I resolved to sail the next morning. All the time of our stay here we had very fair weather; only sometimes in the afternoon we had a shower of rain which lasted not above an hour at most: also some thunder and lightning with very little wind. We had sea- and land-breezes; the former between the south-south-east, and the latter from north-east to north-west.
HE NAMES THE PLACE PORT MONTAGUE. THE COUNTRY THEREABOUTS DESCRIBED, AND ITS PRODUCE.
This place I named port Montague in honour of my noble patron. It lies in the latitude of 6 degrees 10 minutes south, and meridian distance from Cape St. George 151 miles west. The country hereabouts is mountainous and woody, full of rich valleys and pleasant fresh-water brooks. The mould in the valleys is deep and yellowish; that on the sides of the hills of a very brown colour, and not very deep, but rocky underneath; yet excellent planting land. The trees in general are neither very straight, thick, nor tall; yet appear green and pleasant enough: some of them bore flowers, some berries, and others big fruits; but all unknown to any of us. Coconut-trees thrive very well here; as well on the bays by the seaside, as more remote among the plantations. The nuts are of an indifferent size, the milk and kernel very thick and pleasant. Here is ginger, yams, and other very good roots for the pot, that our men saw and tasted. What other fruits or roots the country affords I know not. Here are hogs and dogs; other land-animals we saw none. The fowls we saw and knew were pigeons, parrots, cockadores, and crows like those in England; a sort of birds about the bigness of a blackbird, and smaller birds many. The sea and rivers have plenty of fish; we saw abundance, though we caught but few, and these were cavallies, yellow-tails and whip-rays.
A BURNING ISLAND DESCRIBED.
We departed from hence on the 22nd of March, and on the 24th in the evening we saw some high land bearing north-west half west; to the west of which we could see no land, though there appeared something like land bearing west a little southerly; but, not being sure of it, I steered west-north-west all night, and kept going on with an easy sail, intending to coast along the shore at a distance. At 10 o'clock I saw a great fire bearing north-west by west, blazing up in a pillar, sometimes very high for 3 or 4 minutes, then falling quite down for an equal space of time; sometimes hardly visible, till it blazed up again. I had laid me down having been indisposed this 3 days: but upon a sight of this my chief mate called me; I got up and viewed it for about half an hour and knew it to be a burning hill by its intervals: I charged them to look well out, having bright moonlight. In the morning I found that the fire we had seen the night before was a burning island; and steered for it. We saw many other islands, one large high island, and another smaller, but pretty high. I stood near the volcano and many small low islands with some shoals.
A NEW PASSAGE FOUND.
March the 25th 1700 in the evening we came within 3 leagues of this burning hill, being at the same time 2 leagues from the main. I found a good channel to pass between them, and kept nearer the main than the island. At 7 in the evening I sounded, and had 52 fathom fine sand and oaze. I stood to the northward to get clear of this strait, having but little wind and fair weather. The island all night vomited fire and smoke very amazingly; and at every belch we heard a dreadful noise like thunder, and saw a flame of fire after it, the most terrifying that ever I saw. The intervals between its belches were about half a minute, some more, others less: neither were these pulses or eruptions alike; for some were but faint convulsions in comparison of the more vigorous; yet even the weakest vented a great deal of fire; but the largest made a roaring noise, and sent up a large flame 20 or 30 yards high; and then might be seen a great stream of fire running down to the foot of the island, even to the shore. From the furrows made by this descending fire we could in the daytime see great smokes arise, which probably were made by the sulphureous matter thrown out of the funnel at the top which, tumbling down to the bottom and there lying in a heap, burned till either consumed or extinguished; and as long as it burned and kept its heat so long the smoke ascended from it; which we perceived to increase or decrease, according to the quantity of matter discharged from the funnel. But the next night, being shot to the westward of the burning island, and the funnel of it lying on the south side, we could not discern the fire there as we did the smoke in the day when we were to the southward of it. This volcano lies in the latitude of 5 degrees 33 minutes south, and meridian distance from Cape St. George 332 miles west.
The eastermost part of New Guinea lies 40 miles to the westward of this tract of land, and by hydrographers they are made joining together: but here I found an opening and passage between, with many islands; the largest of which lie on the north side of this passage or strait. The channel is very good, between the islands and the land to the eastward. The east part of New Guinea is high and mountainous, ending on the north-east with a large promontory, which I named King William's Cape in honour of his present majesty. We saw some smokes on it; and, leaving it on our larboard side, steered away near the east land which ends with two remarkable capes or heads distant from each other about 6 or 7 leagues. Within each head were two very remarkable mountains, ascending very gradually from the seaside; which afforded a very pleasant and agreeable prospect. The mountains and lower land were pleasantly mixed with woodland and savannahs. The trees appeared very green and flourishing; and the savannahs seemed to be very smooth and even; no meadow in England appears more green in the spring than these. We saw smokes but did not strive to anchor here; but rather chose to get under one of the islands (where I thought I should find few or no inhabitants) that I might repair my pinnace, which was so crazy that I could not venture ashore anywhere with her. As we stood over to the islands we looked out very well to the north, but could see no land that way; by which I was well assured that we were got through, and that this east land does not join to New Guinea; therefore I named it New Britain. The north-west cape I called Cape Gloucester, and the south-west point Cape Anne; and the north-west mountain, which is very remarkable, I called Mount Gloucester.
This island which I called New Britain has about 4 degrees of latitude: the body of it lying in 4 degrees and the northermost part in 2 degrees 30 minutes and the southermost in 6 degrees 30 minutes south. It has about 5 degrees 18 minutes longitude from east to west. It is generally high, mountainous land, mixed with large valleys; which as well as the mountains appeared very fertile; and in most places that we saw the trees are very large, tall and thick. It is also very well inhabited with strong well-limbed negroes, whom we found very daring and bold at several places. As to the product of it I know no more than what I have said in my account of Port Montague: but it is very probable this island may afford as many rich commodities as any in the world; and the natives may be easily brought to commerce, though I could not pretend to it under my present circumstances.
SIR GEORGE ROOK'S ISLAND.
Being near the island to the northward of the volcano I sent my boat to sound, thinking to anchor here; but she returned and brought me word that they had no ground, till they met with a reef of coral rocks about a mile from the shore. Then I bore away to the north side of the island where we found no anchoring neither. We saw several people, and some coconut-trees, but could not send ashore for want of my pinnace which was out of order. In the evening I stood off to sea to be at such a distance that I might not be driven by any current upon the shoals of this island if it should prove calm. We had but little wind, especially the beginning of the night; but in the morning I found myself so far to the west of the island that, the wind being at east-south-east, I could not fetch it; wherefore I kept on to the southward and stemmed with the body of a high island about 11 or 12 leagues long, lying to the southward of that which I before designed for. I named this island Sir George Rook's Island.
LONG ISLAND AND CROWN ISLAND, DISCOVERED AND DESCRIBED.
We also saw some other islands to the westward; which may be better seen in my chart of these lands than here described. But, seeing a very small island lying to the north-west of the long island which was before us, and not far from it, I steered away for that; hoping to find anchoring there: and, having but little wind, I sent my boat before to sound; which, when we were about 2 miles distance from the shore, came on board and brought me word that there was good anchoring in 30 or 40 fathom water, a mile from the isle and within a reef of the rocks which lay in a half-moon, reaching from the north part of the island to the south-east: so at noon we got in and anchored in 36 fathom a mile from the isle.
In the afternoon I sent my boat ashore to the island to see what convenience there was to haul our vessel ashore in order to be mended, and whether we could catch any fish. My men in the boat rowed about the island, but could not land by reason of the rocks and a great surge running in upon the shore. We found variation here 8 degrees 25 minutes west.
I designed to have stayed among these islands till I had got my pinnace refitted; but, having no more than one man who had skill to work upon her, I saw she would be a long time in repairing (which was one great reason why I could not prosecute my discoveries further) and, the easterly winds being set in, I found I should scarce be able to hold my ground.
The 31st in the forenoon we shot in between 2 islands lying about 4 leagues asunder; with intention to pass between them. The southermost is a long island with a high hill at each end; this I named Long island. The northermost is a round high island towering up with several heads or tops, something resembling a crown; this I named Crown Isle from its form. Both these islands appeared very pleasant, having spots of green savannahs mixed among the woodland: the trees appeared very green and flourishing, and some of them looked white and full of blossoms. We passed close by Crown Isle; saw many coconut-trees on the bays and the sides of the hills; and one boat was coming off from the shore but returned again. We saw no smokes on either of the islands, neither did we see any plantations; and it is probable they are not very well peopled. We saw many shoals near Crown Island, and reefs of rocks running off from the points a mile or more into the sea. My boat was once overboard with design to have sent her ashore; but, having little wind and seeing some shoals, I hoisted her in again and stood off out of danger.
SIR R. RICH'S ISLAND.
In the afternoon, seeing an island bearing north-west by west, we steered away north-west by north, to be to the northward of it. The next morning, being about midway from the islands we left yesterday, and having this to the westward of us; the land of the main of New Guinea within us to the southward appeared very high. When we came within 4 or 5 leagues of this island to the west of us, 4 boats came off to view us: one came within call, but returned with the other 3 without speaking to us: so we kept on for the island which I named Sir R. Rich's Island. It was pretty high, woody, and mixed with savannahs like those formerly mentioned. Being to the north of it we saw an opening between it and another island 2 leagues to the west of it, which before appeared all in one. The main seemed to be high land, trending to the westward.
A BURNING ISLAND.
On Tuesday the 2nd of April about 8 in the morning we discovered a high peaked island to the westward which seemed to smoke at its top. The next day we passed by the north side of the burning island and saw a smoke again at its top; but, the vent lying on the south side of the peak, we could not observe it distinctly, nor see the fire. We afterwards opened 3 more islands and some land to the southward, which we could not well tell whether it were islands or part of the main. These islands are all high, full of fair trees and spots of green savannahs; as well the burning isle as the rest; but the burning isle was more round and peaked at top, very fine land near the sea, and for two-thirds up it. We also saw another isle sending forth a great smoke at once; but it soon vanished, and we saw it no more. We saw also among these islands 3 small vessels with sails, which the people on New Britain seem wholly ignorant of.
A STRANGE SPOUT.
The 11th at noon, having a very good observation, I found myself to the northward of my reckoning; and thence concluded that we had a current setting north-west, or rather more westerly, as the land lies. From that time to the next morning we had fair clear weather and a fine moderate gale from south-east to east by north: but at daybreak the clouds began to fly, and it lightned very much in the east, south-east and north-east. At sun-rising the sky looked very red in the east near the horizon; and there were many black clouds both to the south and north of it. About a quarter of an hour after the sun was up there was a squall to the windward of us; when on a sudden one of our men on the forecastle called out that he saw something astern, but could not tell what: I looked out for it and immediately saw a spout beginning to work within a quarter of a mile of us, exactly in the wind. We presently put right before it. It came very swiftly, whirling the water up in a pillar about 6 or 7 yards high. As yet I could not see any pendulous cloud from whence it might come; and was in hopes it would soon lose its force. In 4 or 5 minutes time it came within a cable's length of us and passed away to leeward; and then I saw a long pale stream coming down to the whirling water. This stream was about the bigness of a rainbow: the upper end seemed vastly high, not descending from any dark cloud and therefore the most strange to me; I never having seen the like before. It passed about a mile to leeward of us and then broke. This was but a small spout, not strong nor lasting; yet I perceived much wind in it as it passed by us. The current still continued at north-west a little westerly, which I allowed to run a mile per hour.
A CONJECTURE CONCERNING A NEW PASSAGE SOUTHWARD.
By an observation the 13th at noon I found myself 25 minutes to the northward of my reckoning; whether occasioned by bad steerage, a bad account, or a current, I could not determine; but was apt to judge it might be a complication of all; for I could not think it was wholly the current, the land here lying east by south, and west by north, or a little more northerly and southerly. We had kept so nigh as to see it, and at farthest had not been above 20 leagues from it, but sometimes much nearer; and it is not probable that any current should set directly off from a land. A tide indeed may; but then the flood has the same force to strike in upon the shore as the ebb to strike off from it: but a current must have set nearly alongshore either easterly or westerly; and if anything northerly or southerly, it could be but very little in comparison of its east or west course, on a coast lying as this doth; which yet we did not perceive. If therefore we were deceived by a current it is very probable that the land is here disjoined, and that there is a passage through to the southward, and that the land from King William's Cape to this place is an island, separated from New Guinea by some strait as New Britain is by that which we came through. But this being at best but a probable conjecture I shall insist no farther upon it.
KING WILLIAM'S ISLAND.
The 14th we passed by Schouten's Island and Providence Island, and found still a very strong current setting to the north-west. On the 17th the we saw a high mountain on the main that sent forth great quantities of smoke from its top: this volcano we did not see in our voyage out. In the afternoon we discovered King William's Island, and crowded all the sail we could to get near it before night; thinking to lie to the eastward of it till day, for fear of some shoals that lie at the west end of it. Before night we got within 2 leagues of it and, having a fine gale of wind and a light moon, I resolved to pass through in the night; which I hoped to do before 12 o'clock if the gale continued; but when we came within 2 miles of it it fell calm; yet afterwards, by the help of the current, a small gale, and our boat, we got through before day. In the night we had a very fragrant smell from the island.
By morning-light we were got 2 leagues to the westward of it; and then were becalmed all the morning; and met such whirling tides that when we came into them the ship turned quite round; and though sometimes we had a small gale of wind yet she could not feel the helm when she came into these whirlpools: neither could we get from amongst them till a brisk gale sprang up; yet we drove not much any way, but whirled round like a top. And those whirlpools were not constant to one place, but drove about strangely; and sometimes we saw among them large ripplings of the water, like great overfalls, making a fearful noise. I sent my boat to sound but found no ground.
DISTANCE BETWEEN CAPE MABO AND CAPE ST. GEORGE COMPUTED.
The 18th Cape Mabo bore south distance 9 leagues. By which account it lies in the latitude of 50 minutes south and meridian distance from Cape St. George 1243 miles. St. John's Isle lies 48 miles to the east of Cape St. George; which, being added to the distance between Cape St. George and Cape Mabo, makes 1291 meridional parts; which was the furthest that I was to the east. In my outward-bound voyage I made meridian distance between Cape Mabo and Cape St. George 1290 miles; and now in my return but 1243; which is 47 short of my distance going out. This difference may probably be occasioned by the strong western current which we found in our return, which I allowed for after I perceived it; and though we did not discern any current when we went to the eastward, except when near the islands, yet it is probable we had one against us, though we did not take notice of it because of the strong westerly winds. King William's Island lies in the latitude of 21 minutes south, and may be seen distinctly off of Cape Mabo.
In the evening we passed by Cape Mabo; and afterwards steered away south-east half east, keeping along the shore which here trends south-easterly. The next morning, seeing a large opening in the land with an island near the south side, I stood in, thinking to anchor there. When we were shot in within 2 leagues of the island the wind came to the west, which blows right into the opening. I stood to the north shore; intending, when I came pretty nigh, to send my boat into the opening, and sound before I would adventure in. We found several deep bays, but no soundings within 2 miles of the shore; therefore I stood off again. Then, seeing a rippling under our lee, I sent my boat to sound on it; which returned in half an hour and brought me word that the rippling we saw was only a tide, and that they had no ground there.