Samuel Pattersons Narrative | Wreck of the ‘Eliza’

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Sandwood-Bay-Fiji-Map Samuel Pattersons Narrative Wreck of the ‘Eliza’

The following article details the Journal of Samuel Patterson, a Nantucket Seaman traveling on the American Vessel ‘Eliza’ under the captaincy of E. Hill Correy between 1808 and 1809. This historical journal brings to life a descriptive personal narrative of the living conditions he endured on the Island of Nairai, after being marooned from the shipwreck of ‘Eliza’, Patterson details the initial interactions with the natives, to becoming part of the community’s religious customs, comestibles, and the symbolic minimalistic attire worn by the natives.   A very interesting account delving into the cultures and traditions of the time.

Port Jackson (New South Wales, Australia)

While at this place (Port Jackson), one day when at work in the hold, there came a young man on deck who enquired if there were any Americans on board and was informed of me. He gave me a call, and after a little conversation, I found he had lived in the neighborhood of my father, and informed me that my parents and brothers and sisters were recently well, which was very satisfying to me.  After a while, I fell in with an American brig (Vessel Eliza) belonging to Providence, commanded by E. H. Corey. In this vessel was an Englishman that wanted to get into the English service, and with him, I effected a change, and went on board the American brig,

Tongataboo Island (Tongan Archipelago)

On the 1st of May 1808, we sailed from Port Jackson and after a passage of twelve days arrived at Tongataboo. While lying here there came two men to us, John Husk and Charles Savage, and stated that the Port-au-Prince, had been taken by the savages, and all the hands massacred, excepting 21, and they ‘were two of the survivors, but the others were on different islands. These men wanted a passage, and we received them on board. They also informed us that a chief by the name of Torki intended to rise on us. Great numbers of the natives came alongside, and we had a profitable trade with them for a number of days.

On the 16th of May, it being calm, we could not get under-weigh, and there came 140 canoes of savages alongside and went to trading; at length, the chief, who had laid his plans to take us, made his appearance, and we permitted him to come on board. We kept every man to his arms, but soon one of the Englishmen who knew their signs and language, told our captain that a signal was given to attack us, he asked by whom and was told by Torki the chief, who was sitting by the tail rail. The Captain then pointed a pistol at him, at which he fell off backward and went on board his canoe.  At this time I was unwell but was called from below by the captain, and directed to sit on the hen coop with a brace of pistols and a cutlass, and not to let my weakness be observed for I was hardly able to walk. The savages were soon dispersed and we got immediately under weigh.

At this place, we purchased quite a number of canoes to carry to the Peejee islands to purchase Sandlewood. This wood is of great value in India and is burnt there before the gods, in an offering of sweet incense, and the most pleasant fans are made of it; the oil of this wood is a perfume, very delightsome, and is a rich fragrance for furniture. Our voyage to the Feejee Islands was principally to procure this article.  We touched at a number of islands, and on the 20th of June were nigh the place to which we were bound.

Shipwreck (Feegee Islands)


Nairai Island Fiji
Nairai Island Fiji | Image: Supplied

On the 20th of June 1808, being in S. lat. 17, 40, E. Long 179, at about eleven o’clock p.m. the man who had the lookout on the forecastle, seeing breakers but just ahead, cried out “with the greatest vehemence, and gave us the alarm. I then was sick in my bunk below, but with the others, I jumped out, but before we could get on deck the vessel struck on the rocks. We caught the axe and cut away the rigging and the masts went over the side, and as they fell broke our whaleboat in pieces, but we got the long boat out and put the money in it to the amount of 34000 dollars, the navigating implements, muskets, a cask of powder and balls, cutlasses and some of our clothes: we also lashed two canoes together, and John Husk and William Brown went on board of them to keep them astern of the long boat and heading the seas, while the rest of us went into the long boat. Our fears were great that, if the vessel went to pieces, we should be killed by the timbers. The violence of the swell and the sea running high, set the canoes a surging, which parted the line they were made fast with, and they went adrift, and Husk, being an excellent swimmer, said to Brown, I must bid you goodbye and swim to the wreck, and he was seen no more, but Brown stayed on the canoes and drifted with them, and fortunately, three days after was drove on the shore of the island of Booyer (Vanua Levu) and six months after met us at Nairai.

Island of Nairai, First Contact with the natives

We lay by the wreck all night in the long boat, and when daylight appeared in the morning, we saw the island of Nairai, one of the Feejees, about nine miles distant from us, and we took our two remaining boats and steered for it. The natives seeing us coming came down in great numbers with their implements of war, such as bows and arrows, spears, and war clubs, and gave us to understand that they would not injure us if we would give them what we had in our boats; and on the condition of our lives being spared, we let them take the whole.

While the natives were carrying their spoil up to the village, I being sick was lagging along behind, when one of them came up to me, and took off my hat, in which was my pocketbook, which contained my protection and other papers; but I gave them to understand that if they would let me retain my papers, they might freely have my hat and pocketbook. But they took the papers and rolled them up and put them thro’ the holes in the rims of their ears and wore them off. They then took from me my jacket, trousers, and shirt, but I could not see what they wanted them for, for they were all naked, and never wore any clothes of consequence. I now was left naked, but was not much ashamed, for all around us were in the same condition.

As I drew nigh the village where the officers and the rest of the crew had gone and were eating of the produce of the island, I saw a great awkward savage have the captain’s silk coat, trying to put it on for a pair of breeches or trousers. I went up to him and took and put it on myself, and then took it off and handed it to him, and he put it on and wore it off, and notwithstanding my situation, I could not but smile for a moment at his ignorance.

Captain sets sail in the Longboat

I found all my shipmates in the same naked situation as myself. The captain endeavored to encourage us and told us he would try to prevail on the chief to let us have the longboat; and after about one week he procured it and started off with his two mates, and two others, having first collected as much of the money from the savages as they could, in all about 6000 dollars.

When they set off the captain called us down to the boat, gave us our charge, and shook hands with us. He told us that he was going to the island of Booyer (Vanua Levu), in hopes of finding a ship lying there and if he did he would be back in the course of a week and take us off; he ordered us to collect what money we could from the savages, and take care of it, which we endeavored to do, though it was attended with considerable difficulty, for it, was scattered extensively among the ignorant natives.

On parting with the captain, no tongue can tell my feelings; I then reflected on my past conduct, especially in disregarding my mother, and leaving her as I had done, I retired to a cocoa nut tree and sat down under it, and gave vent to a flood of tears.

Those who went with the captain were Billy Ellerin (Elderkin according to Lockerby) chief mate, Seth Barton second mate, Charles Bowen, a son of judge Bowen on the Mohawk river and nephew of Dr. Bowen of Providence, and John Holden.

The captain found an American ship (‘Jenny’) at Booyer (Vanua Levu), but did not return as soon as was expected, and not until I was gone from Niarie. He however at length came back but succeeded only to bring off his boy. The savages opposed him, and two of those with him were killed, and several wounded. He sailed for Canton, but before he arrived he was put into port in distress, took charge of a Spanish ship, was cast away, and died.

Charles Savage, who was with us when we landed in this melancholy place, could speak the language of these people and was of great use to us as an interpreter

Mbatiki Visit (Religion and Customs)

After we had been a while on the island of Nairai, a chief from another of the Feejee Islands called Mbatiki came to us, and being much pleased with us, persuaded me and one of my shipmates, Noah Steere by name, to go home with him. We took all the money we had collected and went. Mbatiki lies not far from Nirie, and we arrived there in a few hours. The people of this place were very fond of us, and the chief used to take us over his plantations and show us his cane and the produce he had growing.

While on these islands, some of our company had some pumpkin and watermelon seeds and some corn, we planted them; but before they were ripe, or half-grown, the ignorant savages picked them, and came to us to know what they should do with them. We told them that if they had left them alone till they had come to maturity, they would have been a good substitute for bread, but they said no in Fijian

Food of the Country

The food of this country is yams, potatoes, plantains, cocoanuts, bananas, taros, breadfruit, human flesh, an inferior kind of swine which they raise, etc. The breadfruit grows on trees fifteen or twenty feet high and is as large as our middling-sized pumpkins, and when ripe is yellow. They pluck it and boil it in pots made of clay, and then take out the core, and place it in a kind of vat fixed in the earth for the purpose; the women then, entirely naked, tread it down with their feet; and after putting on some plantain leaves, cover it with earth. After it is fermented, they take it out and make it into a kind of dumpling, called by them munries (Mandrai).

When cultivating their lands and in their other labors, about noon they generally have a hole dug in the ground, heated by a fire made in it, and after they clean out the coal and ashes, they lay in their dead bodies, human, if they have any for eating, if not hogs, and also potatoes and yams. On these, they place a covering of straw and then bring on the hot ashes and earth. After a few hours they take out the flesh etc., and each one receives his share.

Their method of tilling the ground is by hand to dig up the earth with sticks sharpened, or levers, and then with their hand plant yams or potatoes. Plantains and bananas are raised by separating and transplanting the sions each season, but all the other fruits of these islands are naturally produced by the soil.

These savages are cannibals and eat the bodies of their own malefactors and all those of their prisoners: and as they were continually at war with some of the tribes around them, and the breach of their own laws, in nearly every case was punishable with death, they generally had a supply of human flesh.

These wretches also eat vermin of almost every description; and if by pulling up a bush or weed, or by any other means, they meet with worms, they are as sure and quick to devour them as dunghill fowls would be. One day the wife of a chief, having collected a lot of lice in her hand from the head of her little son, she beckoned to the chief, who was at a little distance, to come, and in his haste to possess himself of his game he hurried them too carelessly into his mouth; of this, it seems, one of the scampering rogues somehow took advantage and made his escape from the grinders down the lane of the chief’s throat, and they’re taking his post to good advantage, he unmercifully choked the poor fellow. Notwithstanding the agony of the chief, Steere and myself could not avoid laughing at his flouncing; but this offended him much; and after he had obtained the better of the cruel little fellow in his throat, he called for his war club and was about to vent his rage on us for not being more solemn on so distressing an occasion. We thought then that the end of our days had come sure enough, and began to look for the fatal blow, which undoubtedly would have been given, had not a young chief, who was ever a friend to us, interceding on our behalf: by this means our lives were spared and we escaped.

Religion

Their religion appears to be as follows, each tribe has a man, something like a priest, called a mbeti (Sir Priest) and in the midst of their villages, they have a large building called a Mbure-kalou that is the house of the Spirit, for the purpose of their religious devotion, where they worship the sun, moon, and stars. To this sanctuary, the people retire every morning, led by their priest, whom they follow promiscuously: at the house, they appear very solemn and regular; and apparently seriously retire after their service is ended.

In their devotion they have a kind of sacrament, using the root which is called in the South Sea Islands yangona (Kava) in this country. In the first place, they wash the root clean, and then chew it, and put it into a large plantain leaf, which is as big as a small tea table, which they lay in a hole in the ground, and then pour a small quantity of water to it, and rinse the substance out. This liquor the Rombetty (Sir Priest) serves out in small plantain leaves to his people, and as each one receives it, they all clap their hands and say manal yangona which is returning thanks to God in their way. After partaking in this they think they are happy, its effect is similar to that of laudanum.

Circumcision

Circumcision is a sacred rite among the natives of Feejee, and they circumcise their male children when young. All the marriages are made by the parents when the children are in infancy; at which time the parties get together and have a great feast of the best the country affords, and partake of the yangona root; and after the young couple arrives at the age of maturity they live together. The chief is allowed eight or ten wives if he chuses. Adultery is punished with the deaths of both offenders. If the husband expires before the wife, she is choked to death by putting a bark round her neck, and twisting it with a stick until she is dead, and they are buried together in the same grave; but if the woman dies first, the man is suffered to live unmolested. And, if the chief dies, having ten wives, they must all be choked to death and buried with him.

It is an abomination among them to sneeze, and if one of the lower class happens to do this, the cry is, armattee armattee that is, that he might die, but if one of the chiefs or their wives should thus happen to do, they say ambullery ambuller that is, that he might be well.  But one morning a wife of a chief being about to sneeze, she violently seized her nose to prevent it; but as humorous nature was not to be baffled in this way, there was not a little disturbance at this comical affair Steere and myself could not well keep from laughing a little; but the chief was greatly offended, and was about to kill us immediately for our impudence, but a young chief interceded for us, and we escaped his fury.

Attire


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Image: Supplied

The men of these islands have no other dress but a strip of cloth about six inches wide, and six feet long, brought up between the legs and then passing around the waists with one end hanging down before and the other behind, called malo or masi. Their hair they burn or sear short, and erect in every direction, dressed with the white ashes of the bread-fruit tree leaves, made into a kind of paste, and fixed among it.

The dress of the women is a band about six inches wide, and long enough to pass around the waist, curiously worked of grass and bark of different colours, called Liku. This they fix around their middle, with a lock of grass about six inches long hanging down before. Their headdress is the hair about six inches long fixed erect, scorched or burnt with brands of fire to make it curl and keep its place; they then place the ash paste over the whole head, which when dry appears like white hair powder. That their heads thus fixed may not be ruffled, or the dressing injured when sleeping, a stick curiously worked, of the size of a walking staff, is placed about five inches from the ground on small crotches, and on this they lay their heads across not far from the back side of one of their ears, while the rest of the body lies on the ground or a mat, entirely naked.

These people are well shaped, and of comely features in many instances, their hair black and naturally straight, and their skin of copper colour, except in a single instance we saw one who was white amongst them (Albinism), as Steere and myself were walking out, he was in company with a large collection, and I think he was a European and being overjoyed, cried out, how fare you, shipmate? But the savages broke out in great laughter, saying taw haw haw haw (Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!) peppa langa Feqee peppa langa Feqee (the white man of Fiji). Whether any others were white among them I never knew.

Health Issues

During my dreadful sufferings at Feejee, I was in a poor lingering, and debilitated state of health; sometimes I could eat of the produce of the country, and sometimes I could not relish it, and almost starved for food. I would go into the huts and look up to the baskets which hung on the ridge pole of the houses with provisions in them to keep from the vermin, look at the chief’s wife and put my hand on my breast and say, sa via kana which is, I am hungry, and she would give me a piece of yam or potato.

But one day when we were very hungry, we took a walk out to get some plantains, but came to a tree on which they were not ripe; and in order that we might have some to eat another day, we pulled off a few, and buried them in the hot sand to ripen; but looking up we saw standing on a hill a savage, and he made at us at full speed with his war club. Steere ran, but I being lame had to stay and take the worst of it: the savage came up and kicked me over, kicked me after I was down, and left me for dead; he then dug up the plantains and carried and showed them to the chief. But I, recovering, got up and went and entered my complaint likewise to him, but he also was angry with me and I could get no redress.

I continued growing weaker till my feeble limbs could no longer support me, and one day in walking out, I fell and could not get up; at which the savages called Steere to my assistance, and he carried me into the chief’s hut. Here I stayed a few days and fared as they did: but one day they smelling a noisome scent, laid it to a man in the hut, but he denied it, and they charged it to me. The chief then ordered me to be carried out and placed in a hut they had built for the purpose of putting in yams, but it had stood so long as to be much decayed.

For about five weeks I was unable a considerable part of the time to go out of this hut, or even to turn myself, but endured more than can possibly be expressed. All my bedding was only a hard mat spread on the ground, on which, naked and without a covering, I lay. When it rained the water would pour upon me in streams, and the ground under me became mud, and the water around me half deep enough to cover me. In this situation I was often obliged to lie, being unable to move or help myself. Night after night without any human being near me, I have spent thus lying in the water and mud, while peals and peals of thunder, seemingly shook the very foundations of the earth, and unremitting streams of lightning would seem as though volcanoes were bursting in every direction around me. When the storms ceased, and the water dried away from my bed, by day my naked emaciated body was bitten and stung with numerous insects, which constantly, on all days, never ceased to devour me. I was nearly blind with soreness of eyes (acute conjunctivitis), the use of one leg entirely gone, and distressingly afflicted with the gravel, which was my principal complaint, together with a general weakness through the whole system.

While lying in this situation these cannibals would often come and feel my legs and tell me, white man, you are good to eat. We had bullock’s hides on board with their horns on, which the savages had taken, and I used to tell them if they would leave off eating their own flesh or human beings, God would send them such cattle as those hides were taken from; but they said they did not want them, for they should be afraid of them.

The women would also come and ask me when I was going to die, and I used to tell them when the Lord should see fit to take me out of the world, and they would say if they were half so sick they would die right off. They asked me where I came from; and I told them from America, a land away out of sight; they then asked me if we had any women among us, I said yes, but they replied sega, that is, no. I then asked where they thought we came from, and they pointed up to the sun, and said, white men, are chiefs from the sun in Fijian. I told them, no, we had women in our country and came into the world as they did, and that their God was our God, and that one God was God over all; but they said our God was a greater God than theirs. After we found that they believed that our God was greater than theirs, we endeavored to make them afraid and told them if they killed us our God would be angry with them, and they would not conquer their enemies, nor raise anything on their lands.

While confined in my hut the women would come and examine me, to see if I was circumcised, and when they found that I was not, they would point their fingers at me and say that I was unclean. They used to bring calabashes of water and roll me over, wash the mud from my body, and, by my request, stream breast milk into my eyes, to cure them.

That we might not lose our time or dates, we kept the day of the week and month thus; we knew the day we were shipwrecked was the 20th of June; we for then took a spear of grass, and for every day tied a knot, and for every Sunday tied two, one over the other. By this means we found out when Christmas came. On this day I told Steere we must have something better than common to eat; he then asked me what it could be. I told him to go out among the sugar canes, knock over one of the chiefs fowls, take it, pull up a handful of herbs, and tell the chief he wanted to make me some tea, and so borrow a pot of him, and make him think we wanted it for that purpose, while we should be cooking the fowl with it. Thus we had our feast and felt as well perhaps as many would on the best dainties in America.

At length my eyes were some better, and my strength in some small degree restored And one day Steere, traveling along the beach, discovered a canoe handy to be launched, and he informed me of it: I told him that I had a mat that we could make a lug sail of, and on a favorable hour we would try to launch the canoe and be off. Being ready, one night Steere came to me and said Sam, the savages are all asleep, and we will make an attempt to get away.” He took me on his back and carried me down to the canoe; we took a calabash of water, some yams, breadfruit, and potatoes. We attempted to launch the canoe, but it fell off a log and partly broke in two. We got it off to a reef, but it leaked so bad as to be partly filled with water, and we found we must return. We had got back near the beach just as the savages were turning out in the morning. They ran and informed the chief, and he came in a great rage with his war club to kill us. We fell down on our knees and pleaded his clemency, and the young chief, our friend, also begged that we might be spared, and finally, we were forgiven, and I was returned to my hut.

In this situation, I lay about three weeks longer, and during this time was awfully tempted by the devil; he told me that if I could die, it would be an end to all, and sometimes he made me believe it, but at other times I was of a different opinion and attempted to pray as follows; O Lord, spare my unprofitable life and enable me to get off this savage island and protect me once more over the boisterous ocean to my native country, and I will try by thy assistance to seek religion and become what thou wouldest have me to be.

After this, I have moved with the insinuations of satan again and made to believe that all could be well with me if I should then be dispatched to the world of spirits, and I put a piece of bark about my neck, and made an effort to hang myself, but was so weak that I could not get the bark over the ridge pole of the house, and was unable to accomplish my awful design.

Vuya Point and return to Nairai

At length, the chief is about to set out on a journey, with his canoes, to the island of Vuya Point, another of the Feejees, Steere, and I persuaded him to let us go with him, and we arrived there the evening of the same day and were kindly received by the savages.

During our stay here, one morning a canoe came to this island, with one man in it, with whom the natives of this place were at war. He was mistrusted to be a spy, and the savages drew up around him, and after discoursing a while with him, they found him to be a hostile chief, and with a club gave him a furious blow on one side of his head, and broke it to such a degree that his brains ran out at his ears. As we knew the cannibal custom of these wretches, we told them it was utterly wrong and that God would be angry with them for eating their fellow beings; and to gratify us they agreed to bury the spy, and took him away professedly for that purpose. But about four hours after, I was in the chief’s hut, and a piece of this human flesh rolled up in a plantain leaf, was sent in for the chief’s wife, and she ate it. I told her what she had been eating, she denied it at first, but at length owned that the flesh was of the man that I saw killed.

The greediness of these people, and all cannibals, for human flesh, is astonishingly great, and perhaps there is no evil habit so hard to be eradicated as this inhuman one: it has been known that even after the practice has been renounced, and the persons Christianized, still a lurking hankering appetite has remained a long time.

After being here some weeks and seeing no prospect of getting off, the chief of Nirie arrived, and he persuaded us to go back with him to his island again.

I was now on the spot where I first landed from the wreck, and fell in company with two of my shipmates. Brown, who had drifted from the wreck on the canoes, and a black fellow.

My departure from Nairai to an American ship at Vuya Point

Seeing no prospect of relief, we persuaded the chief to let us have an old canoe that he had condemned, and we patched it up and consulted with Brown and the black man about going to the island of Booyer in search of a ship. John, the black man, agreed to go, but Brown said the expedition was too dangerous and should decline to go; and he went and joined the chief to whom he had belonged, to assist him to fight his battles, he being then at war.

Some of our men were so unwise as to go with the natives into their battles with muskets and kill many of the opposite party, who had never injured them and pleased their employers much. They were extremely afraid of a gun, and seldom would fire one themselves, and whenever they did they would pull and at the same time drop the piece on the ground and spring from it, that it might not kick them over or turn its thunder against them.

The condition on which we obtained the old canoe, was, as the chief expected that I must soon die, Steere and John were to take me to the island of Vuya Point and put me on board a ship that he knew had gone there, and get knives beads, scissors, and whale’s teeth, and bring them to him as a present.

We, having on board water, yams, and potatoes, and being ready to depart, the chief and the savages came down and brought some yangona, and we partook with them in their sacrament, and they wished us good success.

One of the natives got into our canoe with us and piloted us over the reef, which lay about one and a half miles from the shore. He then, with his war club, which they always carry with them, jumped overboard and swam to the shore. This was about nine o’clock in the morning, and we stood on with the trade winds, running about five miles an hour; and at sunset, we were out of sight of land.

We ran on all that night, with fresh breezes and squalls.  The next morning we saw a canoe running down for us, and were muchly affrighted. The guy that held our mast failed, and our sail went overboard; it was with difficulty that we spliced our guy and got our mast up again. By this time the canoe with the natives came up with us, and they seeing we were white men cried out, Ha Ha papalangi na wanga mate is, that is, the white men of the ship that was broken. They held up some provision that was cooked and asked us if we were hungry and if we wanted some meat.  We told them no, for we were afraid of them, and did not choose to have them come on board us.

We steered on about two hours long, and Steere cried out, Sam, I see a sail, I see a sail! ” I told him that I guessed it was one of the savages’ double canoes but he said no, for he could see her courses and her topsails. My eyes being sore at that time I could not see far, but after a little while, having run on further, I could clearly discover a sail myself.  We strove to make ahead as fast as we could, in order to fall in with the vessel if possible, but she sailed much faster than we, did and soon left us at a greater distance in the rear.

Being out of hopes of coming up with the sail we had seen, we looked away to the leeward and saw the land, which proved to be the island of Vuya Point. We steered on after the unknown sail, thinking it would be a good guide for us.

The vessel was round the point of Vuya Point, on the account of shoal water, and we steered across but had like to have been upset in the breakers, we got over the reef, but soon lost sight of the vessel, in consequence of the sun going down.  But we looked away ahead and saw some mangrove bushes, and took them to be land; but when we got up to them and finding them to be bushes, we run in among them, in order to make the canoe fast, and lie there all night.

My two shipmates lay down and went to sleep, and left me bailing out the water from the canoe with a calabash shell. About ten o’clock I got the water all out and being weary and sleepy, not having slept any the night before, I put my hands on my knees and laid my head in them, and fell asleep. How long I slept I know not, but when I awoke the canoe had sunk. My shipmates awaking cried out, “Sam,  what did you let the canoe sink for? ” The roots of the mangrove trees prevented the canoe from going to the bottom.  Steere and John climbed up on the bushes, in order to keep out of the water: but I being lame, and not able to climb, reached up and took hold of the halyard and pulled myself up, but at the top of high water, every sea that came, went over my head: between the seas, I was just able to catch my breath, and in this situation, naked and distressed, I hung until morning, when the tide fell away and left the canoe bare. We bailed out the water and hoisted our sail again.

Hearing the savages talk on the land, we were greatly alarmed for fear they would come on board and rob us, and kill us, for we had all the money on board that we had collected at Nairai.  But about seven o’clock in the morning, the tide rose so that the canoe floated again, and we steered on round the island, in order to find the ship we saw the day before.

When we had sailed on about one and a half hours, Steere cried out “Sam I see the vessels!” I looked up and beheld them about two miles distant, cast my eyes up to heaven, and returned hearty thanks, though at that time I was a poor abandoned sinner.

We ran on to the nearest vessel, and it proved to be the brig Favorite of Port Jackson in New Holland and commanded by Captain Camel, who commanded the Letter of Marque that I went on board in India, and had the same chief mate, Arnold Fisk an American, son of Isaac Fisk of Cranston in Rhode Island.  My companions jumped up out of the canoe on board of the vessel, and being so overjoyed at finding themselves out of the hands of savages, they neglected to tell the ship’s crew that I was lame, and wanted assistance.

After being alongside in the canoe for a few minutes, one of the sailors looked over the side of the vessel, and said: “Shipmate why don’t you come on board, haven’t you been there long enough, without a shirt?” I replied that I had lost the use of a limb, and if I got on board I must have assistance.  They immediately rove the manropes and jumped down, and helped me up on board the vessel.

I was an object of pity; the use of one leg was entirely gone, so weak that I was not able to stand, and my body burned with the scorching sun in such a manner, that I was blistered from the crown of my head to the sole of my feet, even the rims of my eyes were blistered.

My shipmates brought me a shirt, and pair of trousers: and they brought us a bottle and gave us a drink of grog, and a chew of tobacco. I looked around and thought if there was any heaven, I had got to one, in being out of the hands of savages, and on board of a European vessel.

Breakfast being ready, we went down and eat. We enquired what other two vessels those were in sight, and were told that one was the General Wellesley of London: and the other, brig Elizabeth of Port Jackson. We asked them what day of the month it was, and they told us; we overhauled our string of knots and found we were correct with the exception of one day which we had lost.

On board, I fell in with William Shaddock, who was cast away with us and had got on board the “Favorite” before us.  I stayed on board this ship three days when she sailed, and we went on board General Wellesley,

A few days after this Steere and John agreed to take a canoe, with some of the natives of Vuya Point, and return to Nairai to buy or collect the remainder of the money of the brig Eliza, the vessel in which we were cast away, which was scattered among the savages there. For this purpose they took cloths, knives, scissors, beads, axes, chisels, and pieces of ivory made into the form of whale’s teeth; but before they left the vessel, Steere and John disagreed and took each of them a separate canoe, with a number of the savages, and proceeded on their voyage, armed with muskets, spears, and clubs. On their passage, they fell in with some hostile natives of another island, in canoes and armed with war clubs and spears, with whom they had a severe skirmish: their design was to possess themselves of the goods on board.

In the defense, John was killed with a spear through his body, but Steere, opening a brisk fire upon them, they were soon repulsed, and he went on his way without being further molested.

Steere succeeded in collecting a considerable sum of the money, returned on board of General Wellesley, and joined Shaddock and myself.  We lay here about seven weeks when we sailed round to the other side of the island, where we fell in with the ship Tonquin of New York, captain Brumley, and were sent on board of her, with all our money. The captain had plenty of provisions was willing to receive us and agreed to carry us where there was a consul, to be further provided for.

I knew the boatswain and several of the hands, being men that I had sailed with before, I advised the boatswain, or some of the men, to take charge of the money in my care: but they refused for fear their chests would be broken open and robbed. But the captain took it into his care, agreeing to give it up when we should arrive in Canton.  We continued on board the Tonquin about three months before we sailed, when, being ready for sea, we weighed anchor and proceeded for Canton.

Sail for China

After a pleasant voyage of six weeks, we arrived at Macoa, and after getting refreshments and a pilot on board, we sailed and came to anchor eighteen miles below Canton.  The ship lay here some months, but captain Brumley went immediately up to Canton in his boat, and here he saw the American consul, and informed him that he had three men on board, who were shipwrecked on the Feejees, and told him of the money we had saved from the wreck, which was in his possession.

The consul advised that we and the money should be committed to his care, and we accordingly were placed in his hands, and the money was delivered to him. This was in July 1809.  At first, the consul appeared to be unwilling to believe that I was an Englishman, but he was convinced to the contrary and used me with great kindness and my heart can never lose a tender affection for his great goodness to me in my bitter affliction.

My shipmates sail for America and I take a Cruise with the Chinese against their Enemies Steere having the use of his limbs, and being able to do his duty, went on board the ship G , captain Grenville, bound to Boston, and thus he succeeded to get home; but I, being lame, remained on the consul’s hands a number of months longer. My other shipmates sailed for New York.

In the course of my stay here, the Chinese were at war, and they employed an English ship, called the Mercury, Captain Williams; was manned out by Europeans, and the consul put me on board of her as a gunner’s assistant.  Being ready for sea, we sailed; and cruised about the Chinese sea for twenty-four days, and we fell in with nothing of importance.  We returned again, and I was sent immediately to the consul’s hands as before.

After about three weeks, the “Ann and Hope” of Providence, Rhode Island, arrived here. Captain Daniel Olney commander. The ship belonged to the same men that the brig belonged unto, in which I was shipwrecked.  My heart rejoiced at this circumstance, and I was very sure in my mind now, of a passage home.

The ship lay here about six weeks before she was ready for sea: and one morning as I was sitting in a door smoking, I saw captain Olney coming along, and being told it was the last time he would be on shore before he sailed I called to him and asked him if he could give me a passage home? but he answered that he could not, as he had more hands than he had provisions for already. The reply went to my heart like a naked sword.

My return to America

Not long after this, the Baltic of Providence arrived, commanded by captain Jonathan Ebom: he came up to Canton, and the consul informed him of me and asked him if he knew such a person. Captain Ebom came and entered into conversation with me, to find where I belonged, and on his first speaking to me, I called him by name, shook hands with him, and told him who I was, — that I was an apprentice to him when I was a boy, and that he was the first man that I sailed with. He asked me what my name was, I told him, and that I was his apprentice boy when he sailed out of Providence in Butler’s employ. After recollecting me, he seemed to be much affected by my misfortunes and told me to get ready and go with him down to his ship, and he would take me home.

My joy I cannot describe; I went with the Captain on board the ship, happy at the prospect of once more seeing my native country. I found on board a number of hands I was acquainted with when I was a boy; and I fared uncommonly well, on anything the ship afforded.  At length all things being ready, in January 1810, we sailed for the United States of America.

After a passage of about five months and a half, from China, around Cape of Good Hope, we arrived safely at Newport in Rhode Island. We tarried there one day, and then pressed up the river to Providence, and arrived there on the 9th of June.

Thus after an absence of almost six years, I once more beheld the land of Freedonia; having seen numerous distant, and extremely different regions of the world, with thousands of their inhabitants.

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