Narrative of a Voyage Round the World (Wilson)/Chapter 9
A British Settlement formed at Raffles Bay—Extract from the Diary of the Commandant—Extract from Mr. Duncan's Journal, containing an account of the occurrences attending the formation of the Settlement and also the Narrative of a Lascar, relative to the Aborigines of the North-east Coast of New Holland.
Judging from the accounts received, respecting the settlement at Melville Island, that it was likely to prove a failure, and being unwilling to abandon the north coast of New Holland, the Home Government determined to make another trial.
Captain Stirling, of H. M. S. Success, being charged with the execution of this important commission, sailed from Sydney, accompanied by three merchant vessels, which conveyed the troops, volunteers, provisions, and stores.
On the 17th of June, 1827, they arrived at Raffles Bay where it was determined to form the new settlement, without spending time in search of a more desirable situation.
Various reasons, which it is now needless to mention, have been assigned for this supposed precipitancy. Suffice it to say, the settlement was formed on the 18th of June, and named, in honour of the day. Fort Wellington.
Having been favoured, by the courtesy of the Colonial Government, with an inspection of all the official documents, relative to Melville Island and Raffles Bay, I have availed myself of this privilege on several occasions, and am thereby enabled to present the reader with the following extracts from the diary of Captain Smyth, the first Commandant of Raffles Bay; and, as they afford a concise account of events which occurred in the formation of the settlement, they will, I have no doubt, be considered very interesting.
Memorandum of passing events, from the commencement of the New Settlement at Fort Wellington, in Raffles Bay, on the Northern Coast of New Holland.
"Sunday, June 17th, 1827.—Came to anchor in Raffles Bay, at eleven, A. M., three and a half fathoms water, about a mile from the shore. Surveyed by Captain Stirling, and selected by him as the fittest situation on which to found the new settlement, on the north-east side of the bay.
"The bay appears capable of sheltering any number of vessels, but the water is shoal for a mile from the shore; even small boats cannot get in at low water, except at one point, about three quarters of a mile from the camp, to the N.N.W."
"Monday, June 18th.—Early this morning, sent parties on shore, protected, with tents, &c., which were immediately fixed, at four, P. M. Captain Stirling, with part of the officers and crew of H. M. S. Success, came on shore; also myself, and detachment from the Lansdowne, when the British flag was hoisted, and possession taken of this land by Captain Stirling, in the name, and on the behalf of, His Majesty King George the Fourth;—the Success firing a royal salute, the 39th and marines a feu de joie, concluding with three hearty cheers, which were answered by the crew remaining on board the Success, Marquis of Lansdowne, and Amity and Caledonian brigs. The settlement is named, by Captain Stirling, Fort Wellington, in honour of the anniversary of that day's achievements at Waterloo."
"Tuesday, June 19th.—Hoisted the union at sunrise. Troops and mechanics employed in disembarking cattle, and securing them on shore. Employed all hands, after breakfast, in bringing public stores on shore. About forty of the crew of the Success, under the command of Lieutenant Belcher, R. N., commenced their preparations for building a substantial log-house and battery. Gardener employed in preparing ground for seeds and plants."
"Friday, June 22d.—Ten or twelve of the natives seen about a mile from the camp, to the west. They fled on the approach of the watering party from the Lansdowne, leaving two spears and a wamero on the ground, which were brought off by the officer in charge of the watering party."
"Saturday, June 23d.—Our whale-boat being very leaky, having suffered considerable injury in the passage, needed repair, and I placed her under the shade of some mangrove trees at the water's edge, about 300 yards off the camp. Lashed her by stem-and-stern, and took out the plug, that she might fill at high water. Cabbage and raddish seeds sown this day. At ten, P. M., the native dogs made an incessant howling in the vicinity of the camp."
"Sunday, June 24th.—Seamen drew their seine at daylight; caught an abundance of mullet, some few soles, bream, and a variety of nondescripts. I tried the settlement seine (which, in fact, is not one as specified in the invoice, but a common net, without a purse or cod); caught no fish. Received a mess from the Success's boat for all hands. Fired the dry grass round the camp, having ranged men to stop it within certain limits; it burnt most furiously. Sent another party in search of the heifer that had strayed: one of the party being a little in the rear of the others, was chased by a number of natives with spears (about seventy or one hundred), who fled on his reaching his party."
"Monday, June 25th.—Peach slips put in the ground. Collected a quantity of trepang, of which there is an abundance lying in the mud along the shore; boiled some, and reduced it nearly to a jelly. I conceive it may make very good soup when we know how to dress it. The largest and finest specimens are grey, with a light grey belly: the black are not numerous, and very small. I can perceive no difference in favour of the latter, when made into soup. Some very fine light brown clay was brought me by one of the prisoners. Potts, a potter: he pronounced it to be very good for any purpose to which clay is applied, and reports that there is a bed of it, of some acres, about three miles to the south, near a river. I shall ascertain the truth of this circumstance as soon as time will permit."
"Tuesday, June 26th.—Success's crew and ourselves employed from daylight till sunset, as usual. The heat very oppressive; myriads of the green ants on every tree, excessively annoying to the workmen; the flies, also, are intolerably numerous and troublesome, and particularly attack the eyes; most of the men find it absolutely necessary to put something over the face as a safeguard, and, even with this precaution, I have some men with sore eyes. Gardener put some potatoes in the ground this day. At nine this morning, discovered the whale-boat was gone from her birth. Sent an armed party along the coast to the N.W., and went in the same direction in a boat myself; found she had been taken by the natives to the mouth of a small fresh-water river, about three miles off, hauled up, high and dry, and stripped of every particle of iron about her; both ends opened, and rendered altogether useless. The ship's pinnace brought her back. Seeds sown on Saturday appeared above ground. Four sentinels on duty this night."
"Saturday, June 30th.—Gardener, this day, planted sugar cane. This night, we were disturbed by the natives, and about two o'clock I heard the sentinel challenge: I arose, and was informed by him that ten or twelve had come within a few yards of him; the darkness of the night prevented his seeing them sooner, when he challenged, and they fled. I went on the beach, and, with a lanthorn, found, by the tracks of their feet, that the sentry was correct. At daylight, I discovered they had taken two iron pots from the place of cooking, not more than fifteen yards distant from my tent, but found them, in the course of the day, evidently dropped in the hurry of their retreat. There were marks of their spears in the sand. Captain Stirling sent me an additional force of eight seamen, with cutlasses, at sunset, to assist in the duty of the night."
"Sunday, July Ist.—About 150 hammocks, belonging to the Success, and on shore to be lettered, had been purloined during the night by the natives; also a rope jack; all within forty yards of the sentry, on the south-east of the camp. The first Lieutenant of the Success, and a party of twelve marines, at noon, went in an easterly direction, to discover the source of the small river which empties itself where the wreck of our whale-boat was discovered; and, in their research, fell in with about twenty-five of their hammocks, but saw no natives. At noon, I went with an armed party in a north-east direction, where I had heard of the strayed heifer, and found her, but so wild, that I could not get within 300 yards of her. I shall, however, when we can spare time, form some stratagem to get her in; she is in good pasturage, and close to the river, and, as yet, unmolested by the natives."
"Monday, July 2d.—Stowed the greater part of the dry goods in the excavated part of the logged house; the soil is a perfect dry sand; was surprised to find that, even for the short time they had been under the canvas, the white ants, in myriads, had assembled, and made great encroachments on the barrels. Marines, soldiers, and volunteers very active in erecting each their respective hut. The French dwarf beans, planted only three days, made their appearance. Orange and lemon slips put in the ground. At twelve, noon, the cooper, with some other men of the Success, were at the watering place, repairing the butts, when a party of natives, with spears, came on them; they retreated, and some of their tools were taken: one spear was thrown, without injury. The camp was instantly on the alarm, and pursued, but no traces could be seen of them. At eleven, this night, immediately after the moon had set, the natives were heard, and imperfectly seen, not more than thirty or forty yards from the sentry, on the south-east flank, who challenged them, when (he reports) they approached on him the faster; he fired at them, as did also two others of the guard, in the direction they retreated, who came instantly to his assistance. A boat from the Success came ashore, to know what was the matter."
"Tuesday, July 3d.—As the natives had, the preceding evening, made their advances towards the Success's forge, and probably attracted by the hope of getting iron, it was removed this day into the centre of the camp. I ordered all lights to be extinguished early, that they might not serve as a guidance to any encroachment on the part of the natives. The evenings are beautifully serene and pleasant."
"Wednesday, July 4th.—The natives, under cover of the darkness of the night, again made their approaches at about two, A. M., crawling on their hands and knees. The sentry fired, and I think without effect, as no cry was heard; they instantly disappeared. They approached us on the south-east point, but had been seen by the Success, in great numbers, at an earlier part of the evening, on the north-west point. There is no possibility of discovering their movements. I had this day given directions to the guard, that the sentries should remain totally inactive and quiet, if no more than two or three of the natives made their appearance, and allow them to get sufficiently into the settlement to secure them."
"Thursday, July 5th.—Again, at about two in the morning, I heard the natives at the back of the settlement, and quietly turned out all hands. Planted about an acre and a half of seed maize, which I found very indifferent, and have but little hope of its growing: it appeared to have been heated in the cask. I sowed, also, a small patch of wheat, in which wevils are in abundance. Six eighteen-pounder carronades this day landed from the Success for the Fort."
"Friday, July 6th.—The back of the camp again visited by the natives. The sentry saw them, but they went off when he challenged. The sugar cane is come up, and looks well."
"Saturday, July 7th.—I received a message from Captain Stirling about half-past two this morning, to say, great bodies of the natives were just round the north-west point, about half a mile from us; the point hid them from us. We prepared ourselves, but they did not come; they were heard by the sentry at the back of the camp, and a jagged spear was found at daylight,—supposed to have been thrown at the serjeant of marines, who had been on the alert near the spot, during the morning."
"Sunday, July 8th.—At noon, a party, consisting of Lieutenant Carnac, three midshipmen, and twenty marines, accompanied by Dr. Wood, again made an excursion into the interior, in a more easterly direction than before, not having then succeeded in finding the source of the river. It was expected they would have been able to return by five or six o'clock at farthest, but did not come in till two, P. M., the following day, having lost their way, and broken their compass. Guns were fired from the Success, at intervals, during the day and night, none of which were heard by them. Native dogs were in numbers in the camp this night, but as they appeared harmless, I directed they might not be molested."
"Monday, July 9th.—Captain Stirling announced his intention of leaving the bay in a fortnight. The heavy logs being completed in the house, the framing of the upper part was commenced. The stockade far advanced. The 39th and volunteers employed in their huts; the marines in erecting a fence, to enclose the camp. No interruption during the night."
"Wednesday, July 11th.—I have not, as yet, seen any stone likely to be serviceable, nor are there shells, in any quantities, for the purpose of making lime. The coast is composed of hardened clay, and conglomerate, and towards the interior strongly impregnated, with iron,"
"Friday, July 13th,—Working parties continued as usual. At seven, A. M., a party from the Success hauled their seine about a mile to the south-east, and, on leaving the beach, eight or ten natives came down. I proceeded towards them with Lieutenant Belcher, of the Success, directing the whole of the remainder of our party to retire to the camp. With some difficulty, we prevailed on them to allow us to come up to them with some fish, biscuit, and a few other trifles: the extraordinary jealous caution they maintained induces me to think they have, more than probably, been dealt treacherously with by the Malays, of whose visits, on all the small islands contiguous to the main land (but not on it), there are many evident proofs, such as places for boiling the trepang; a sort of wicker work on which to dry it, &c. These natives were armed with spears, three or four each, some of them jagged; one was pointed with iron, perhaps a part of the plunder of our whale-boat. We gave them what few things we had, and, in return, the chief presented me with a small purse, suspended from his neck, containing shells, neatly netted, and with much the same mesh used by us. The material appears to be the stringy bark. We left them much more composed, and, as far as signs could be understood, with a promise to return to-morrow at the same time. Night passed tranquilly."
"Saturday, July 14th.—At eleven, A. M., eighteen of the natives came down to the fishing beach, about a mile from us. The surgeon, Mr. Belcher, and myself, went to them with some biscuit, and a few other little presents; they were much pleased, but still observed a vigilant and distrustful caution, and remained but a short time. Three, P. M.—Two of the native chiefs have been in my tent, and are now on board the Success. Four, P. M.—Returned, much gratified with dresses given them on board, and gone to their tribe: this circumstance, I hope, will entirely put a stop to their nocturnal visits. While they were near my tent, close to which the wrecked boat, and the recovered rope-jack (which was found buried in the mud) were lying; neither of them appeared to notice the one or the other. I did not think it necessary to remind them of these circumstances in so early an acquaintance. They are generally strong, muscular men, infinitely more so than the description of natives in the neighbourhood of Sydney. Some of them were daubed over from the crown of the head to the ancle with a kind of pipe clay. No disturbance this night."
"Sunday, July 15th.—Seven of the natives came into the camp, and were fed, and shown over the place. Much surprise was manifested by them, and particularly when I showed them the use of the gun, by bringing down two large hawks, of which there are vast numbers. The power of pistols also astonished them, and they begged we would not use them again, as it gave them great pain in the head. Mr. Belcher and myself, wishing to show we had every confidence in them, went with them and joined their party of about twenty, at a distance of about three miles to the S.S.E., near the beach. We afterwards hailed the jolly-boat of the Success, with Mr. Carr and four midshipmen in her, and with two of the chiefs got in, and went across the bay to the west, about five miles, where they gave us to understand was their great place of assembly. After getting on shore, about thirty, with spears, made their appearance; but, by order of their chief, laid them down, and approached us with most extraordinary attitudes and gestures. They were eager to lead us to their place of general rendezvous, and we followed them for about two miles on a well-beaten track; but as the sun was near down, and one or two instances of daring theft had taken place, I thought it prudent not to go further; and, to the evident disappointment and displeasure of the sable group, we returned to our boat. The two who were left as a guard in her had been strongly entreated to follow us into the wood, which induces me to think they had in view the pilfering of the boat at parting. They presented us with a spear, which we understood as a token of friendship. The bones, and three or four skulls, on the beach, engaged our attention, but they showed signs of great displeasure at our approaching them, and we desisted. The night passed perfectly tranquil."
"Tuesday, July 1 7th.—The natives (twelve) came into the camp, and were given biscuit, &c. One assisted in blowing the forge; another in scrubbing the hammocks of the Success. I was anxious to establish a perfect good understanding with them, and did not check it. Early in the afternoon, they left us, and went two miles at least along the beach, in our sight, when two of them (the leaders, and to whom we had been particularly kind,) struck into the wood, came up to a party cutting wood, and, remaining a few minutes, seized on an axe, and ran off. Two soldiers followed them near to their general assembly, when a large body came out with spears, and with much difficulty the soldiers escaped. This night, they again began their marauding system in the early part of the night; it was dark, but the guard heard them in all directions round the camp. I considered their faithless conduct did not deserve lenity, and I ordered the several sentries to fire whenever they approached. One shot was fired, and no more was heard of them. The Mary Elizabeth arrived in harbour at six, P. M., all hands well, and cargo safe. She has been to Melville Island, not knowing where to find us, and being without a chart of the coast."
"Thursday, July 19th.—The natives were more bold last night, and came into the forge. A shot was fired at them, and they disappeared. Tools and everything are carefully put out of their reach each night. The Success's men conclude their assistance to us this day. Three guns only are mounted. Mr. Hicks reports his having been in Port Essington some days, and that the harbour is very superior, in every respect, to this; the soil much better, and exceeding good water in wells. He also states, he found one small stream. The natives made an attack upon him, and his party, and hurt one man considerably by a blow on the arm with the waddy. The party retreated, and fired in return. Mr. Hicks brought a Portuguese, belonging to Madras, from Cape Flinders, who had been wrecked in the Frederic, Captain Williams, a trader, about seven years ago; himself, and two others only, escaped in a small boat, and got ashore, where they both died, leaving himself the only survivor. We saw the man making a signal, by waving a branch when we passed two days before the Mary Elizabeth came there; but mistook him, from his colour, to be one of the natives. He is anxious to get on to Madras. I have given directions that he receives rations during his stay with us."
"Friday, July 20th.—Two of the natives, the men who had stolen the axe, had the assurance to come into camp. Unfortunately, some officers of the Success received them in a friendly manner: it was my intention to have handcuffed one of them until his comrade brought in the stolen axe; however, I merely showed my displeasure at their conduct, and ordered them out of the camp to fetch it. At a few yards distance, one of them, with a look of expressive contempt of me, took up a frock from the ground, and away they both started, in the face of the whole camp. A pursuit took place, but they ran too fast for us. The frock, however, was dropped in the flight."
"Saturday, July 21st.—Received a letter from Captain Stirling, acquainting me that he should weigh and depart on Monday. Sunk a well a short depth; the water very good; some pipe clay in about three feet from the surface. A man, of the name of Thompson, of the Success, is missing; has not been seen since three, P.M., yesterday."
"Sunday, July 22d.—A party, under the command of Lieutenant Belcher, of the Success, are gone out in search of Thompson; fears are entertained that he has strayed from the settlement, and fallen in with the natives. Uninterrupted by natives last night."
Mr. Duncan, assistant-surgeon of H.M.S. Satellite (who was assistant-surgeon of H.M.S. Success, when the settlement was formed) favoured me with an extract from his journal, which, as it also gives an authentic account of the proceedings, from the formation of the settlement until the sailing of the Success, together with the curious narrative of a shipwrecked Lascar, cannot fail, I think, to be perused with much interest.
"On the 15th June, 1827, made Croker's Island; at 8h. 30; A.M., the Success struck on a sand bank: Cape Croker E.N.E., main land S. by E.; at noon anchored in Palm Bay, in five and a half fathoms. Shortly afterwards a boat, &c. was sent on shore. At seven P.M. they returned, reporting that they had seen a few of the natives, but that they did not speak to them, and that no water was to be found here. We remained all next day, and at five, A.M. on the 17th weighed and sailed for Raffles Bay; at eleven, A.M. anchored at about half a mile from the shore; at five, 30th, p. m. 18th June, the union jack was hoisted on shore, twenty-one guns were fired from the Success, and two rounds of musketry were fired by the marines, &c. on shore.
"On the 22d, a party of marines, &c. accompanied with a midshipman, and also a part of the crew, &c., of the ship 'Marquis of Lansdowne,' went on a short excursion towards the interior; on the same evening they returned, stating that they had found a small rivulet of fresh water to the right of the settlement, but that they saw none of the natives. For these two days past there has been seen a few of the natives in a small sandy bay to the left of the settlement. On the 24th, whilst a party of our men were fishing, a few of the natives came within a short distance of them; our people left some fish for them, and returned on board, on which the natives came down and took them away.
"On the night of the 26th the natives carried away a whale boat belonging to Captain Smyth, and rendered her completely useless. She was found next morning near the mouth of a small rivulet to the northward of the settlement, the greater part of the iron work being taken out of her, and her planks, &c. broken in various places, some parts of which were carried some distance into the bush, several pieces of which I have seen during my excursions into the woods. At 11h. 30' P. M. on the 30th, they again came into the camp, on purpose (it was supposed) to pilfer: one of the sentries snapped his musket at them, and gave the alarm. On a blue light being burned as a signal to the Success for assistance, they immediately retired into the woods, carrying away with them some of the cooking utensils. Next night they carried away, for a short distance from the settlement, the rope jack belonging to the ship, which they buried in the sands, where it was found shortly after; they also stole a quantity of hammocks belonging to the Success, which were scrubbed on shore.
"On the 2d July, at one, P. M. a party having gone on shore watering at the Lagoon, they filled their casks, and came off to the ship, leaving the cooper and another behind them repairing casks and making bungs for the same; the natives made their appearance on the opposite side, and hove a spear across at the men, (I do not know if our men had given them any provocation or not) the cooper, &c. fled, leaving his tools, buckets, &c., behind, which the natives carried off only to a short distance, they being immediately pursued by the settlers on the alarm being given, on which they dropped the greater part of the stolen articles. In the pursuit, some of the hammocks that the natives carried away were found in a tree, &c. None of the natives were taken. The same evening some of them were seen to the eastward of the settlement, and they, at eight, P. M. came down in a body of about thirty to near the place where the sentry was placed; he fired at them, but it was supposed he did no injury, as no wounded or dead remained behind.
"On the morning of the 4th July, at two, A. M., they again made their appearance, crawling on all-fours, but were again seen and fired at by three soldiers or marines.
On the 8th July, a party of our people, headed by our first Lieutenant, went on an excursion, with only one day's provisions; the same day our party went up to the west side of the bay, where the natives have often been seen. On approaching a small sandy bay the natives made their appearance, with their spears in an attitude of defence. On a handkerchief being thrown to them, they went into the water, but they did not wish our men to land. In the evening, the party that left the settlement on the 8th returned, having for some time lost their way. They did not see any of the natives.
"On the 11th, at about ten, A.M. seven of the natives came down on the beach, near the Lagoon, carrying their spears. Captain Smyth and Mr. Belcher went up to them and gave them some articles; two of them, who were named Wellington and Waterloo, came into the settlement along with them—they were bedaubed over with red clay. After eating some biscuit, &c. they joined their companions, and returned into the woods. Whilst the two chiefs remained in the camp, the other five natives stood at a short distance, with their spears in their hands.
"At one, P.M. on the 14th, the natives again came down and joined some of our people on the beach; at three, P.M. two of them came off to the ship, in company with Mr. Belcher and Mr. Carr. After they had seen the different parts of the ship, shaved and clothed, they were again sent on shore; during the time they remained on board, their companions, to the number of fourteen, remained on the beach, and were quite rejoiced to see the two chiefs arrive on shore.
"On the 15th, seven or eight of them came down, with the two who were on board the Success: they remained only for a short time; in the afternoon a party went out sailing, they landed on the opposite shore, in a sandy bay, where the natives had often been seen. Their canoes were on the beach. On the approach of the boat, several of the natives appeared, and made signs to our people to go on shore, which desire they complied with. There were several human bones lying on the sands, but the natives did not wish our men to touch them, but made signs to the men to follow them into the woods, which they did for a short distance; but being unarmed, and some of the natives making rather too free, they thought it most prudent to return. Whilst in the woods with the natives, one of them stole a handkerchief from our Lieutenant. On Wellington knowing of the theft, he immediately made the man return it. It was then offered to Wellington, but he would not accept of it until they returned to the beach.
"On the 17th the natives, about twelve in number, came down, accompanied by Wellington; they employed themselves, along with our men, cutting wood, turning the rope jack, and stirring the rice, which was boiling for the ships company's dinner. On the same afternoon, one of the natives stole a large axe, after he had seen and tried its use. The people who were cutting wood followed them, but the natives presented their spears at them. Our people being unarmed were obliged to retreat, and the thief got clearly off.
"At 6h 40' P.M. the Colonial brig Mary Elisabeth arrived, bringing along with her a native of Lidia, whom she picked up on one of Flinders Islands. At llh. 40' P.M. the natives came into the camp, about twenty in number, and advanced near to one of the sentries: he fired at them, but did no injury. The natives immediately fled.
"On the 18th July, the Lascar came on board the Success, and from him I learned the following particulars:—"That he belonged to the ship Fame, which was wrecked in the Straits; that he and a few others escaped in a leaky boat, after rowing for forty-eight hours. On landing, the natives stripped them of their clothes, &c. but otherwise behaved kindly towards them. His companions in misfortune died the first year of his residence amongst the natives, which in all amounted, he said, to six or seven years.
"The men in that part of Australia have from five to ten wives, of whom they are rather jealous at times. The tribes are continually at war with one another, and have regular pitched battles; but the moment that one is killed on either side, the battle ceases until they carry off their dead, and mourn for certain days, according to their customs, bedaubing themselves over with black earth, and on another day the fight begins and ends in a similar way.
"When one dies or is killed, they bury the body in the earth, but at the end of five days dig it up again, and wrap up the bones, &c. in bark of trees, and carry them along with them. When the women fight, which is very often, they use a short kind of club. The natives paint their bodies over with red clay to prevent the musquitoes from biting them. When they paint their bodies white it is a sign of war with some other tribe.
"Their marriage ceremony is performed in the following way:—The father and mother of a female child lead in one hand between them the intended bride, (whilst in the other hand they each carry a piece of burning wood,) towards the intended husband, he standing with his back towards them. When they arrive at the appointed place, the parents lay down the burning pieces of wood, beside which the child sits down, and the parents retire, on which the husband turns round to his wife and takes her home. She stays only with him during the night, returning to her parents during the day, until she has attained a more mature age.
"Their food consists chiefly of fish, kangaroo, turtle, wild yams, and various other roots. They have no regular times for meals, and eat at any time they can find any thing to subsist upon.
"On that part of the coast they have canoes hollowed out of the trunks of trees, a work of great labour, as they have no iron tools; in these they often paddle from the main land to the neighbouring islands in quest of food. They worship no superior being, nor have any knowledge of one. They obey and reverence the eldest of their tribe. They keep their elderly men and wives at a distance when they fight or go to war. They would not allow this Lascar to go to their battles, although they gave him a wife of their tribe, by whom he had several children.
"They punish an adulterer, when detected, with death. They have no knowledge of ships; their chief conversation is either concerning food or war. There are very few diseases amongst them, and they in general live to a good old age. They employ themselves in hunting or fishing during the day, and at night sleep round a small fire. When a brother dies and leaves a wife, the next eldest brother marries her. They have no houses or any thing to cover them; and scarcely two tribes speak the same language.
"The natives were greatly attached to this Lascar. When he hailed the brig, they placed their hands on his mouth; on the approach of the boat to carry him on board the brig they fled, but again returned; but would not go on board the vessel. Although this man knew and could speak the language of the tribe with whom he had lived, understood only a few words of the language spoken by the Raffles Bay and Port Essington tribes. He suffered greatly from the bites of musquitoes, and small ulcers on the skin; as well as from the change of diet during his first year's residence amongst them. He buried the other Lascars who died. The natives were desirous that he would take up their bodies again according to their custom, but he did not comply with their request. This man we left on board the Mary Elizabeth, in Raffles Bay, although he was desirous to return to India.
"On the 18th July, during the night, the natives came in and attempted to steal the armourer's forge, &c. but were seen and fired at by the sentry. Next day, at llh. 30' A. M. they again made their appearance on the beach. They appeared more shy to-day than usual, and would hardly come down to the tents, although the Indian native tried to persuade them, but went in quest of honey. About five, P. M. they returned. An axe was shown to them similar to the one they had stolen some days before. And, being informed that they would not be allowed to come into the camp until they returned the stolen axe, the chief grinned at Captain Smyth, and showed his posteriors in rather an indecent attitude, then ran off, picking up in his way some of our people's clothes. In attempting to escape he was fired at by Mr. Carr, but without effect. A dog pursued him and made him drop his prey.
"The same evening one of the men belonging to the Success was missed; but some time after the Success sailed, he returned to the settlement, in company with some natives, and joined the brig. Search was made for this man for a considerable distance round the settlement on the 22d, but to no effect. From the night that the natives were last fired at (21st July) to the 23d, the day that the Success sailed for Melville Island, the natives did not make their appearance."
- Raffles Bay was discovered by Captain King, on the 16th of April, 1820, and so named by him, from his having had an opportunity of forwarding a letter to Sir Stamford Raffles by a Malay proa, several of which he met, for the first time, on that day.—Vide King's Australia.
- Wellington and Waterloo.
- This person, named Paul De Sois, was forwarded to Coupang, from thence he went to Batavia with Mr. Bechade, and wished to remain with him; but, as Mr. Bechade informed me, he was so excessively lazy, that his request was not complied with. He was forwarded to Madras, his native place, where, he said, he had a wife and several children.