The Journal of William Lockerby 1808-1809

Map-10th-edition-Fiji-Encyclopaedia-Britannica The Journal of William Lockerby 1808-1809

The following article details the Journal of William Lockerby, a mate traveling on the American Vessel ‘Jenny’ under the captaincy of William Dorr between 1808 and 1809.  This extensive historical journal brings to life the conditions of the seafarers on the islands involved in the lucrative sandalwood trade and how it was interwoven with a backdrop of tribal disputes between the different kings and chiefs on the islands.

Table of Contents

Feegee Islands

At Port Jackson (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia); we were informed that Sandlewood had been found in the Feegee Islands; which is an article of great value in the Chinese market, the natives making use of it, on account of its strong smell, to burn on their altars and over the bodies of their deceased friends. We, therefore, determined to go to these islands for a cargo of this wood. The Feegee Islands were first visited by Europeans four years ago (Marcia Captained by Aikin, and the Manilia ship ‘Fair America’ Captained by Farrell, were the first ships to fetch sandalwood from the Fiji islands, both in 1804, and both in consequence of Oliver Slater’s report of what he had seen when adrift in the islands after the wreck of the ‘Argo’). They are inhabited by cannibals. This group of islands is detached from the Friendly Islands (Up to the time of Lokcerby’s visit the Fijian group had not been clearly distinguished from the Friendly (Tongan) group, indeed, the Samoan group had sometimes been classed with them, the three being regarded as ‘the Navigator Islands’), and bears W.N.W. from them, distant about ninety leagues. They are in number about fifty. The largest is called by the Europeans Sandle Wood Island (‘Sandle Wood Island’, ie Vanua Levu is the only second largest island of the group, Viti Levu being larger, but till long after 1808 the larger island remained unknown, except as regards small parts of its coastline), as this wood is peculiar to that island only — ^its Lat is i6° 55′ S., Long 178°, E. of Greenwich.Having shipped more seamen, and got additional guns, ammunition, and other necessary articles on board, we sailed from Port Jackson on the 15th. of March 1808, and nothing material occurred until the 2nd. of April, when in Lat. 22° S., Long. 172° 50′ W. in a sudden squall we lost our fore and main masts, and knowing we were close to some of the Friendly Islands from a good observation we had made the day before, with a ship almost a perfect wreck, we found ourselves placed in a very disagreeable situation; for although the natives of these islands received from Capt. Cook the appellation of Friendly Islanders, it is a well-known fact that of late their conduct to unfortunate Europeans who have fallen in their way has been one of the most hostile nature, whatever right they may have had to that tide from Capt. Cook in his time.

They have taken several ships that put into their islands for refreshment, and massacred every man; the ship Port au Prince of London put into Tongataboo in 1806, and the Captn. was decoyed on shore on the pretense of purchasing provisions. It being on Sunday, the half of the ship’s company went on shore with him. They no sooner landed than the natives fell upon them, and put every man to death; they then went on board the ship, and the remaining part of the crew, not harboring the least suspicion, were overpowered and massacred, except five men who jumped into the ship’s hold. A few months after this treacherous affair I received the above account from the mouth of one of the five that escaped the general massacre of their shipmates. (The ‘Port au Prince’ happened at Lefuka in the Hapaai islands, not Tongataboo. In addition to the eight Sandwich Islanders who had been on the ship, twenty-six of the European crew, including William Mariner himself, survived and remained among the natives for some years.)

But to return to the ship, which was now laying like a log upon the water — fortunately, the weather proved fine for several days, which enabled us to get our ship on the fourth day under jury masts, and in such a condition that we judged her competent to proceed on her voyage. On the 10th. we made the island of Tongataboo; on passing the S.W. side of the island it was nearly calm, and about fifty canoes came off to the ship. Forty of the natives were permitted to come on board; their canoes were made fast to the ship.

We bought several hogs, yams, and plantains from them, while one of them, who appeared to be their principal chief, stood on the ship’s round-house abaft, and was apparently by his signs encouraging those of the natives that were still in their canoes to come nearer the vessel. The wind being very light and the current appearing to be setting the ship inshore, I ordered one of the seamen into the chains to take a cast of the lead. The man sees a number of lines made fast around the after part of the ship and hauls one of them up, found a hatchet fast to the end of it with a long handle, which he informed me of, and I communicated the same to Captn. Dorr, gave the order to clear the ship of the natives; which order, although the natives made some resistance, was soon complied with. After we had driven them overboard, we drew up their lines and found about thirty hatchets with handles about four feet long; this was sufficient to convince us their intention was to have taken the vessel from us.   The breeze springing up, we fired several swivels loaded with grape amongst them, by the way of wishing them good-bye, and left them to lament over their bad luck and perhaps some of their dead friends.

Votoa island Lau Group Fiji – 12th April 1808

  • ‘Jenny’ arrived at Votoa Island in the Lau Group Fiji
  • Island Chief and his Wife delivered a large baked shark to Captain Dorr (Ceremony)

On the 12th. of April we passed Turtle Island; (Turtle Island or Votoa, the only of the Fijian Islands, actually visited by Captain Cook, is at the southernmost extremity of the chain of the Lau Islands, which almost connects the Friendly and the Fijian Islands).

A large canoe came off to the ship, amongst whom was the chief of the island and his wife; the latter brought a large baked shark as a present for Captn. Dorr. It was delivered with a great deal of ceremony into the arms of the Captn. by one of the chief’s principal men, as he was standing upon the quarter deck. In spite of his inclination to please his visitors, he was obliged to let go of his hold, and stop his nostrils, for the un-savory steam which arose from this delicate present was too strong for him not to be affected by it; but when the shark (which was folded up in green leaves at the time it was given to him and smoking hot) fell upon the deck and broke to pieces, the stench it spread was so great that the Captn. was compelled to betake himself into the cabin for shelter; while her ladyship was picking up the precious morsels, to carry down to him, he all the time was making signs to her to express his thankfulness for the great attention she was showing him; but he could not be persuaded again to take hold of it, either by fair or foul means. When she found he would not receive it from her, she turned from him towards her companions and seemed perfectly sensible of the affront that had been put upon her. To make his peace with her, Captn. Dorr presented her with a looking glass, some beads, &c., on which our visitors left us very well satisfied. In the course of the following day, we passed several islands, and some of the natives came off to the ship, but not having any sandalwood, we had little communication with them.

Koro Island – 15 April 1808

  • ‘Jenny’ arrived on the Western Coast of Koro Island 
  • Mr. Francker and William Lockerby received a welcoming Ceremony
  • Internal Island  war between the Western and Eastern natives discussed
  • Purchased Large Hogs, vegetables, coconut milk, etc – Whale tooth, iron glass beads.
  • Gift of Masi from the Kings Wife, the King presented carved spears, clubs, bow, and arrows
  • Small conformation with the Eastern Natives

On the 15th. of May we arrived at the island of Koro, and came to anchor on the west side of it, close in with the land, and before a town in which the king of the island resided. Mr. Francker, the supercargo (a person employed on board a vessel by the owner of cargo carried on the ship), and myself landed and were received with a good deal of ceremony and respect by this king, who informed us he was at war with the people on the east side and gave us to understand they were very bad men, that they would take our ship from us, and kill us if they had an opportunity®.

We dined with this good old king and some of his principal men upon bread fruit and plantains; for a drink, we had the milk of the cocoa nut. We bought from the king sixteen fine large hogs. Afterward, he made us a present of a fine large hog and a quantity of breadfruit, &c.; in return, we gave him a whale’s tooth, several pieces of iron, and some glass beads for his wife. Although he kept many women, he showed more attention to one, than any of the rest; and she alone was permitted to eat with him.  We left these friendly people in the evening, but not before they had shown us more of their kindness. The old queen made us another present of cloth of her own making from the bark of a tree (Masi), and some coconut oil. The king made each of us a present of a carved spear, a club, a bow, and a bundle of arrows. We went on board quite pleased with our excursion on shore.

The next day we were visited by a number of the Natives of the east side of the island who came on board all armed. I took particular notice of one man, who brought on board in his canoe about twenty men; he then sculled on shore and returned with twenty more; this he repeated several times until we thought proper to drive them out of the ship; and in doing this we found some difficulty. However, by my wounding that chief, who had been so active in bringing the others from the shore, in the side with a boarding pike, they all jumped overboard. The same day we got under weigh and sailed for Myemboo bay (Mai Mbua), often in early times called Sandalwood Bay, as being the one harbour in which all ships coming to the islands for sandalwood dropped anchor), where we arrived on the 21st. May.

Mai Mbua – Sandalwood Bay, Vanua Levu – 21st April

  • ‘Jenny’ arrived at Mai Mbua (Sandalwood Bay) Vanua Levu
  • Myemboo Bay is Mbua Bay (Mai Mbua), often in early times called Sandalwood Bay
  • A sandalwood trade dispute between Brig ‘Elizabeth’, and ‘King George’
  • Tui Na Mbouwalu (Chief of Mbouwalu), the principal town of Mbua
  • Sailed to Highley Bay (Wailea Bay directly north of Mbua Bay), to obtain sandalwood

At this place, we found a ship and a brig (The Brig Elizabeth Captained by Stewart, and the ship ‘King George’ Captained by Aikin), at anchor, (belonging to Port Jackson, owned by Messrs. Lord, Cable, and Underwood, gentlemen), who a few years ago were transported from England as common convicts. Mr. Stewart, who was Captn. of the Brig, came on board, as he said, to help us in mooring the ship, but his motive proved to be quite different. This trade is considered by the gentlemen of Botany Bay as belonging to themselves, the Captn. had no doubt particular orders to prevent us from getting a cargo of sandalwood, if possible.

They attempted to run our ship on shore but were disappointed. In order to discover what their intentions were towards us, we plied them well with rum, which produced the desired effect, for they openly declared they intended to prevent us from procuring a cargo. This produced an immediate quarrel, the result of which was driving them out of the ship, which some did not quit without broken bones. From our vessel they went on board King George, the name of the ship from Port Jackson, requesting the assistance of her crew to make an attack upon us for the injury we had done them. This they were deterred from by the report of some of our guns, and conjecturing we were prepared for their reception, altered their design and retired to rest.

We had anchored the ship in four fathoms water, opposite the mouth of a small river, that emptied itself into the bay; on the side of which the town of the king of Mbua Bay (Sandalwood Bay). was situated, whose name was Tui Na Mbouwalu (Chief of Mbouwalu), he was the principal chief of that part of the island. I went on shore to see him and invite him on board the ship to receive a present from Captn. Dorr. The next day he came, and was presented with five whale’s teeth and some iron; several saws and axes were also given to him to cut wood for us, but as this was the only part of the island where the sandalwood had been cut, it was not then plentiful, which obliged us to go to Highley Bay (Wailea Bay directly north of Mbua Bay) about forty miles distant from the ship to procure it.

The boats of the Botany Bay ship were at the same place, and I had often quarrels with the crew, which generally ended in blows; but finding they could not make much by this kind of play, they endeavored to make the natives steal from us, thinking we should punish them for such depredations, and by that means to prevent us from completing our cargo. In this they were likewise disappointed, for when anything was lost, I made a small present to the chief, who not only had the article returned, but punished the offenders. On the 27th. of May one of the Botany Bay vessels (King George) sailed, and we had then a free trade with the natives.

Long Boat from ‘Brig Eliza’ Arrived – 29th June

The Ship Eliza in Full Sail
The Ship Eliza in Full Sail | Image: Supplied
  • Shipwrecked Crew from ‘Brig Eliza’ of Providence arrived in a Longboat, seeking assistance.
  • Short overview of the events leading up to their predicament

On the 29th. of June, the long boat of the Brig Eliza of Providence, Rhode Island, arrived owned by Messrs. Brown and Ives, on board was Captn. Correy, Mr. Elderkin chief mate, Mr. Barton, second mate, and two seamen. They were all nearly naked. We received them on board and supplied them with clothes and other necessities.

The Brig Eliza sailed from Port Jackson a few days after we did, for the Feegee Islands. On the 23rd. of May last she ran upon a reef of coral rocks, about sixty miles to the eastward of Myemboo Bay (Sandalwood Bay). They got on shore on the Island of Nairai (Map below)  in their boats, where they were soon stripped naked by the natives, and plundered of everything they had saved from the wreck of their vessel. After remaining among the natives for three weeks, Captn. Correy his two mates and two men with much difficulty obtained permission from the chief of the island to go in search of our ship, which they supposed might be among the islands to the westward.

The brig’s long boat was given to them, but the islanders would not allow them to take any arms or ammunition, and their provision consisted merely of cocoa nuts. The natives not being acquainted with the use of their nautical instruments had destroyed them all. In these circumstances, they shaped their course to the westward, and on the third day were fortunate enough to fall in with our ship, and were received on board by their countrymen, almost dead through hunger and fear of falling into the hands of the natives of the other islands.

Recovery Mission – 3rd July

  • Two boats were sent on a recovery expedition to save the crew and cargo from Nairai Island
  • ‘Eliza’ crew had already departed the shipwrecked island, with the majority of the money.
  • Natives try to seize the ships in a surprise attack.
  • Returned to ship at Highley Bay

On the 3rd. of July we fitted out two boats for the purpose of recovering as much of the money as we could that was on board the ‘Eliza’ when she was cast away; which amounted to thirty thousand dollars. The boats were well provided, manned, and armed; Captn. Correy, his mates, Mr. Francker, and myself were of the number. We arrived at the island on the 5th. where Captn. Correy had landed, after the wreck of his vessel, and where he had left the remainder of his crew.  On our landing, we found they had left the island soon after the departure of the Captn., and gone to another (Mbatiki), whither they had taken the greatest part of the money.

After remaining here several days, we succeeded without any difficulty in obtaining the money that was still left from the natives, by exchanging with them a small piece of iron for a hundred dollars. In this manner, we recovered for Capt. Correy about nine thousand. In the afternoon of the 9th. we had got the money in the boat and determined that evening to return to the ship.

The boat at this time was lying about two miles from the shore and Capt. Correy and I were in it eating some cocoa nuts which some of the natives were opening.   Alongside there were two canoes each containing a few natives. At this moment, little suspecting of any danger, we were suddenly seized by the natives that were on board with us, and thrown overboard. They were then assisted by those in the canoes and attacked the seamen, of whom one man and a boy they left for dead. After some trouble Captn. Correy ’s second mate and the other seamen succeeded in driving the villains out of the boat, but not before the former was severely wounded. Mr. Francker and Mr. Elderkin were on shore and knew nothing of what was taking place in the boat; Capt. Correy and myself by this time had regained it, and the natives being joined by some others had manned a large canoe, and were making towards us. Imagining the treatment we should receive in case of being overpowered, we steered our boat directly towards them, and when we were within about a hundred yards of them, we fired our swivel and muskets, which did considerable execution; a number being killed, and the rest jumping overboard swam to the shore.

The two gentlemen on land hearing the report of the guns and suspecting some disaster, made for a point of land in sight of the boat, and before the particulars of the affair were known by the natives on the island, we were fortunate enough to pick up Mr. Francker and Elderkin, as they were swimming towards us.  The night coming on we left these unfriendly people, and made the best of our way to the ship, which we reached on the 11th. The boy got well again, but the man died a few days afterward, his skull being fractured.

Elizabeth Captain Stewart – 17th July

  • Five crew members of the ‘Elizabeth Brig’ were held captive by natives on the island of Tavea
  • Three whaleboats manned with six crews, armed expedition to recover the crew, boat, and cargo from the aggressors.
  • Capt. Dorr, or Captn. Stewart did not consent to the rescue expedition.
  • Charlie Savage was part of the manned crew of six (speaks the native language)
  • Hostage negotiations between the natives and the crew
  • Two wounded crew returned and informed three had been eaten 

On the 17th. a boat’s crew, five in number, belonging to the ‘Elizabeth Brig’, Captain Stewart, on her passage to Highley Bay (Wailea Bay) fired upon a canoe on the Island of Tavea. The islanders upon this fell upon the crew, and instantly put three of them to death — the remaining two were natives of Otaheite, who saved themselves by jumping out of the boat, and diving underwater; however, they were taken and carried with the bodies of the three Europeans to the island of Tavea with the boat. Sometime after I received information that they were still living, and on hearing this I determined to recover them and the boat, if possible on friendly terms, as the boat’s crew had been the first aggressors.

I had three whaleboats each manned with six men and carrying a swivel and musket, in case I should have to adopt hostile measures. The island was situated about thirty miles from Highley Bay (Wailea Bay);and consequently seventy miles from the ship. This expedition was undertaken without the consent of either Capt. Dorr, or Captn. Stewart; the latter, although they were his own people, either through fear or some other motive, would not attempt their recovery.

We set out for the island in the evening, in order that we might arrive there by the morning, which we did. With us we had a man who had been some time among the islanders and understood their language (Charle Savage) Not wishing to trust too much to the natives, we sent this man on shore, who prevailed upon the King to come with him on board the boat. When I had him in my power I was resolved not to part with him, until I got the two men. I made him some small presents to induce him to send them to us; but this he did not seem inclined to do, probably on account of their being so shamefully mangled with their spears and clubs.  I sent the interpreter on shore again to try what he could do with the chiefs there; when after waiting an hour, a canoe with a native came off to me, carrying a stone on which the man I had sent on shore had written that they were afraid for their chief, whom we had possession of, and that they intended to detain him as a hostage for the chief’s safety, and not give up the two men. I wrote back by this man that as soon as they were delivered up I would let the King go, but not before; to which they replied they would allow the interpreter to return, and when the King was released, the two men should be sent. This I would not admit of. They sent me than a number of cocoa nuts, yams, and plantains, thinking these presents might make me alter my resolution, but it was in vain, and fearing a surprise I kept the natives at a respectable distance from the boat.

One canoe with six women came alongside my side, and endeavored by singing, dancing, and all the bewitching arts they were capable of, to induce me to liberate their king; but I was determined. I must confess the islanders could not have sent less powerful advocates to plead their cause, and one more proof against them than myself might have been persuaded to grant their request; for although they could not boast of the beautiful complexion of European women, yet they were not destitute of those qualifications peculiar to the female sex which renders them such irresistible intercessors. The women left us; and soon after the interpreter and the two men were sent on board. At the sight of the two latter, the seamen could scarcely be prevented from falling upon the natives. They were both wounded in several parts of the body; one so much disfigured that his shipmates did not know him. I sent the King on shore as I had promised.

The two wounded men reported, that the other three, who were killed, had been cooked in the ground upon hot stones. The bodies of two of them were sent as presents to the neighboring isles, the remaining one was eaten before their eyes. I did not think it prudent at that time to revenge the death of these three men. After the King had landed, the natives collected up the beach to the number of two or three hundred and were busy with their canoes. I demanded the boat they had taken, which they refused to give me without the present of a whale’s tooth. This conduct of the islanders exasperated the seamen so much, that it caused me to back the boats in nearer to the shore. When at a proper distance we fired on the natives with the swivels and muskets, and then took to our oars. The natives immediately launched about thirty canoes and gave chase to us, which they continued twenty miles, all which time they were within musket shot, and we kept firing among them. Night approached they left us, and soon after we arrived at Highley Bay  (Wailea Bay). The next day we sent the wounded men on board the ship.

We traded with the people of Highley Bay (Wailea Bay) for some time; for ironwork, beads &;c. they gave us sandalwood, cut and brought down to the beach, where I had built a hut, in which we lived in the daytime, but for fear of alarm, slept in the boats at night.&; MrFrancker {generally}) remained at the Bay, and I in the whaleboat carried the wood to the ship as it was collected; sometimes I exchanged situations with him, the mosquitoes and sandfly being very troublesome.

Marooned – 27/28th July

  • Captain Doir –  ‘Jenny’ sailed to China
  • Mr. Francker and William Lockerby were left behind to their astonishment among a race of Cannibals

The ship had almost completed her cargo when to my utter astonishment I was told by the natives that the ship had sailed. I and five men on our return from the Bay to the place where we expected to find her, were astonished to observe she had sailed. Whether it was the intention of Captain Dorr, when the ship sailed for China, to leave Mr. Francker or myself, or perhaps both, I shall not say, because he has denied that he intended to leave either of us, and has excused himself by saying that the ship was droved to the sea, and, being under jury masts, was not able to get up again and was obliged to bear away for China. Be this as it may, by this accident I was left among a race of cannibals, far from every object that was near and dear to me, and possessing but very faint hopes of a vessel calling at such a simply dismal corner of the Globe that might carry me and my unfortunate comrades again into civilized society. The Brig belonging to Botany Bay was still at Myemboo Bay, but as I was one of the most active in driving them out of our ship, I did not expect to receive any good treatment from them: nor did I like to go to Botany Bay without money, for that would be transporting myself at once.

I went the next day after the ship sailed (28th. of July) to visit the old King Mbua Bay (Sandalwood Bay). By this time I spoke the language in a tolerable manner. I told him my misfortune, to which he answered more like a father than an uncultured savage, that I was very welcome to stay with him. He then took me to his house, where he gave me some breadfruit, but would not allow me to feed myself, it being contrary to the custom of the principal chiefs, who always have one to feed them; and this honor was shown to me all the time that I lived with them, I found the greatest difficulty in drinking in their manner; the drink is commonly served in a green plantain leaf, and was poured into my mouth,  not being permitted to touch the leaf that contained it either with my lips or hands. This island is called by the natives Thakaundrove (The native name of a district of Vanua Levu); it is about one hundred and seventy miles in length and twenty in breadth. The middle of the island is mountainous, but along the seashore, it is a fine-level plain principally covered with coconut, breadfruit, plantain, banana, and other fruit trees peculiar to the islands in the Pacific ocean. All these islands are surrounded by coral reefs, transparent and of every color. In looking down upon them when the sun is shining they present the most beautiful the eye can behold or the imaginary picture.

Social Hierarchy

  • On this island, there are four persons who call themselves kings Tui Mbua, Tui Mathuata, Tui Thakau and Tui Ndama  (Tui is the official title of the principal Chief of a place). The one under whose protection I lived, was con-considered the most powerful, being able to bring into the field three thousand men.
  • The population of the whole island might be twelve thousand.
  • Besides these four Kings, there are a great number of petty chiefs, who have districts allotted to them, and have a fort or place of defense in each, but are still considered subjects and under the control of one or other of the four Kings.
  • The lower class of the people is under complete subjection to the different chiefs, particularly to the kings. If one of them should chance to meet him, he passes him in a bending posture, at the same time repeating a few words, which manifest his obedience; he nevertheless would rather go half a mile out of his way to avoid him.
  • The king’s wife has respect shown her by other women;
  • In short, there is a similarity of deference demanded and paid by the inferiors to the superiors to that of more polished nations; but in their own way, far more particularly attended to.

Peacetimes – No Cannibalism

In times of peace, they live as neighbors in the greatest harmony together; in war, they are most inveterate enemies. They eat no human flesh except that of the prisoners they take in battle, and for this, they take more credit for themselves than for merely killing them. The first nine months that I lived among them I saw no human flesh eaten. During that period their conduct towards me, and their general character, as much as I could observe of it, made me consider them in quite a different light than that of cannibals. The men are remarkably stout, well-made people, and in features much resembling Europeans. They differ from other Indians in being very desirous of keeping their skin clean. Their hair is different colours, so that one-half of their heads will appear white and the other black at the same time.

In war, they are fearless and savage to the utmost degree, but in peace, their disposition is mild and generous towards their friends, and the affection they bear towards their relations is very seldom found among Europeans. Their arms consist of bows and arrows, slings, spears, and clubs, which they use very dexterously. The women are remarkably handsome, and have all that delicacy of form and softness of voice and manners, which distinguish female from the other sex in every part of the civilized world. Their virtue might be set as an example to nations who pride themselves on being far removed from them in knowledge and refinement.

Husband and Wife Burial Rituals 

Should their husbands die before them, custom obliges them to submit to be strangled and put with them into the same grave: this they do with the greatest alacrity, and should the man have ten wives at his death, all must suffer and be buried with him. Were this the practice in Europe, I think most of our ladies would prefer to live and die single.

Personal Narrative  

But to return to my narrative, my intention being principally to inform my friends of the particulars relating to myself during this unfortunate voyage. Placed in this deplorable situation, I had only to resign myself to fate, or allow myself to sink under my misfortune. By natural instinct man is roused to overcome difficulties when there is no other alternative but to overcome them or perish.

In my present condition, my life was scarcely worth enjoying, but I had motives that still made me anxious to prolong it; I had left at home a beloved wife, a father, and mother, and other relations whose happiness was inseparable from my own, and whom Providence had doomed should look up to me for support and protection. Thus influenced I endeavored to acquire the goodwill of the natives and in particular that of the King.

Manners and Customs – Attire – Hair – Language

I adopted their manners and customs as much as possible; went naked with only a belt made from the bark of a tree around my waist, that hung down before and behind like a sash. The islanders were also dressed in this way. The dress of the women is somewhat similar to that of the men; only the belt or petticoat is made of grass about four inches broad, is tied in a knot before, and hangs down to the ground. These dresses differ in quality according to the rank of the wearers, and in the manner, in which the women walk and sit. They answer every purpose they are intended for. When I first took to wearing this, to me, new-fashioned dress, the sun scorched my body to a shocking degree, and the sand-flies and mosquitoes almost eat me up: however by the application of cocoa-nut oil and turmeric root my skin soon got so hard, that it was proof against the hottest meridian sun. My body was some-times painted black, sometimes white, according to their different rites and ceremonies. My hair was at times painted black, at other times red; in this way, I was apparently metamorphosed sometimes to an African negro, and then to a native of Bengal. I paid particular attention to making myself acquainted with their language, and in a few months I could make myself not only understood but could discourse with them on any subject; which made my wretched situation more tolerable.

The King and his Wifes

The King’s family, who lived with him, consisted of his wife, three children, his two sisters, his niece, and myself. Although he had more wives than one, and no doubt more children, no more lived with him.  This wife was the daughter of the chief or king of the district of Mai Ndama (Ndama was an important native town immediately south of Mbua Bay). She was about forty years of age, and of a mild temper, but at the same time sensible of her superiority over other women, both by her birth and situation. She possessed likewise great influence over the king, who was a fatherly, good man. Her attention to her children when sick evinced the great motherly affection which she bore for them.

Kings Niece (The Escape from Customary Burial with her Husband) 

To the king’s niece, I was under many obligations for the care she took of me while I was unwell. My being exposed much to the sun, and my head uncovered, affected my eyes in such a way that I was several days nearly blind (conjunctivitis). She dressed them with preparation from roots, and by that means they soon got well. She would also if I was absent when the family was at their meals, (which are not confined to any particular time of day), always preserve some for me.

As her story is a little singular, I shall relate it, as she told it to me herself. Her uncle likewise told me it in the same words. She was about twenty years of age, and had been married to a chief of an adjacent island, who was killed in battle; she, according to custom, with the rest of the wives was to be strangled. The night previous to the day that was to have been her last, Naronga, for that was her name, made her escape from the island by swimming and fled to her uncle, who granted her his protection on account of her being with child, of which she was delivered the next day after her escape. By this act of indulgence and humanity towards his niece, the King told me he was afraid he had incurred the displeasure of his Callow, or God, and the different chiefs of the surrounding islands, as it is the duty of the principal of them to see such laws put into force. Naronga informed me that had it not been for her child, she would willingly have submitted to her fate, and smiling at the little infant then at her breast, two months old, she said she had lived to give it suck.

Kings Wooden House of Trinkets

The King had a present made him of a wooden house by some gentlemen of Botany Bay, Lord, Cable & Co., which he did not like. The seamen in putting it up, for it was framed at Botany Bay, had split some of the boards, and the King said it would neither keep out the sun, nor the rain.  The house was divided into two apartments; one containing the different articles the King had obtained from Europeans, and in the other was deposited the fire-arms that I had with me in the boat, consisting of four muskets, two pairs of pistols, six cutlasses, six boarding pikes, a compass, quadrant, spyglass, &c. I kept the key to this house, so that I was able to lock myself in, and enjoy myself writing and reading the few books I had with me, without interruption from the natives. The King had likewise been presented with a brass laced hat, with a brass crown, but he would much rather have had a whaler’s tooth, that being the most valuable article among them. They hang them about their necks on great festivals, and give them with their daughters in marriage as their marriage portion — in short, he who is possessed of a quantity of them thinks himself extremely rich.

Escape Plan from the Island

The men who had been left behind with me were living with the lower class of natives; they often complained to me of their being very much distressed for want of provisions.  This being the season that the islanders planted their yams &c., the white men assisted them. Some were given to them to plant for themselves, which they would have applied to present use, had I not told them, that I had been thinking of a plan for our escape, and that by planting the yams, they would answer for our sea stock. Nothing could be more pleasing to them than the thought of getting away from the island. They began immediately to plant their yams with great cheerfulness, which when done I communicated to them my plan for our escape; but fearing the natives might prevent us, I made them all swear to keep our intention secret, and to conceal it, particularly from the King. And the oath which they all took [was as] follows :

Myemboo Bay, 5th Sept. 1808.  

By mutual agreement we whose names are under-signed, having been unfortunately left in this unfrequented part of the globe, since the 28th. of July last, and having no assurance of any vessel coming to relieve us from our unhappy situation, we think it prudent to make the best preparations in our power to make our escape by the 1st. of December next, it being the commencement of the S.E. Trades : We therefore appoint William Lockerby, formerly chief mate of the ship Jenny but at present one of our unfortunate companions, to direct the fitting out of our boat; and should no ship arrive before the 1st. of December next we, depending upon his judgement, will willingly embark with him for any part of the Pacific Ocean or any other part of the world which he may prefer to steer for, and we do most solemnly swear and promise to be governed wholly and entirely by his directions.  We promise not to form any connection with any of the women of the island, but endeavour to acquire the good will of the natives in order that they may not prevent, but assist our escaping; and should we leave this island and have to stop at any other near this one no man shall leave our party without the consent of the whole. These rules we most willingly conform to and we will at all times and in all cases relating to our liberty and return to our native country attend to the advice of William Lockerby.

(signed) William Johnston, James Sulivan, Peter
Anderson, Robert Brown, Prince Freeman,
Alexander Lindsay, William Lockerby.

On the 7th. of September we got our boat hauled up, and as the King had plenty of tools of all sorts, we soon cut it in two and proceeded to lengthen it. The people worked with goodwill. My principal view in doing this was to keep them upon good terms with one another, for they were generally quarreling among themselves, which made the natives sometimes interfere; but now they were so well occupied that all enmity was hushed, and the constant subject they talked upon was their friends at home.

Interisland Warfare

  • The arrival of several large canoes demanding part of the property the king had received from Europeans
  • Several islanders combined and were making preparations for attacking the Kings place and the island of Tavea
  • Preparations for Fortifications with interior chiefs

At about this time, several large canoes arrived from the other islands. The King informed me they were come to demand from him a part of the property he had received from Europeans, which he had refused to give them; he moreover said that ever since the white men traded with him, he had always given them a portion of what his own subjects had worked hard for; but now he and his people had determined to give them no more. Soon after we received information that several Islanders had combined, and were making preparations for attacking the King’s place and the island of Tavea, the chief of which was the old King’s nephew, who would not enter into the league. On being apprised of the storm, the King began to prepare a fort and sent the interior chiefs to assist him or fortify themselves. I mentioned to the King I thought it strange he had not long before provided himself with a fort: to which he answered, that ever since he had been king, he had been feared and respected, that when at war he had always been the strongest and never had occasion to act on the defensive, which he observed was the only time a fort was useful. As the construction of their forts is ingenious and shows the progress they have made in the art of war, I will give you an account of the one built for the King.


  • The ground he chose for the fort, was a dry spot of rising ground in the middle of a swamp, about twelve hundred yards in circumference.
  • Round the dry parts, logs of wood were placed at equal distances, about ten feet long and one foot thick, which had been collected by four hundred natives in the surrounding woods, where they cut and from thence carried them on their shoulders. Holes were then dug in the ground into which these posts were placed, and afterward filling earth about them, that became quite solid.
  • About these posts, two heights of small trees were lashed lengthways with vines, the first three, the other six feet from the ground; to these two heights of small trees they fasten in an upright position, bamboos, about forty feet long, which are placed close to each other all round the fort: the ends of them being buried a considerable depth in the soil, and mould thrown up against them.  They form a complete and strong rampart.
  • The fort has four gates, eight feet wide, at each of which they place perpendicularly four cocoa-nut trees, about sixty feet high: on the top of these platforms are erected sufficiently large to contain fifty men, & surrounded by a breast-work so strong and close as secures entirely those upon it, who by their slings and arrows have a great advantage over the besiegers.
  • In addition to the strength of the fort, they place the plantain tree, which is of a spongy substance, inside of the bamboo that surrounds it, which completely shelters them from the arrows &c. of the assailants. When attacked in the daytime they leave the gates open, but at night they are secured by logs of wood laid across them. This is the manner the fort is constructed, the outer works of which are equally calculated for defense.
  • It is encompassed by a ditch full of water, six yards wide, except in front of the gates, to which narrow pathways run through it, six feet wide. In the middle of these pathways they have a gate-way with a flanking barricade, so contrived that a number of men may conceal themselves behind it, and through which they have got holes for shooting their arrows, while they remain quite safe from the attacks of the enemy outside.
  • At the outer extremity of the pathway, there is also a barricade similar to that in the middle. This is when force is abandoned, and a stand is made in the inner one, and should this be carried, they retreat into the fort.
  • The ditch, or the different divisions of it, is so planned as to keep it full, and not allow it to overflow, the water being conducted underground by hollow bamboo.  Such a fort as the above was completed in less than a month.
  • The women were no less busy preparing for the war than the men. They were employed in a grating or rubbing down the plantain, the sweet potatoes, and the bread-fruit into a kind of jelly^. They wrapped up in leaves of the plantain and deposited it inside the fort in small holes covered over with stones. The bodies of their enemies and this jelly or paste are all they have to live upon in times of war, the provisions outside being generally destroyed by the besieging party.
  • After the fort was finished, they carried there and placed in the rising ground in its middle the house of their Callow, This was of a square form and higher than all the others — it was very handsomely decorated inside with shells, spears, clubs, bows, arrows, and other implements of war.
  • Their small sleeping huts followed the house of God. These are easily transported, as they are divided into four pieces; the two sides and two ends are put up and taken down in a few minutes. They possess two other descriptions of houses; one in which their provisions are cooked, and another, which they use as their common residence. These are much larger than the huts they sleep in, and as they are not taken to the fort during the war, are mostly burnt by the enemy. The houses they live in are particularly handsome, neatly worked inside with reeds, the floors are covered with mats, and are kept remarkably clean. The King is the owner of the largest and most handsome, and this, with respect to show, is the only thing in which he differs from his subjects; his dress cannot be distinguished from that of any of his people. The houses being lodged in the fort, and every preparation made, a scene took place, which appeared to me well adapted to their present situation.
  • The chief of every family in the place brought what little property he had, consisting of mats, cloths, baskets, &c., of which one general parcel was made and then equally divided among the whole. Some who before had more than others were now on the same footing as those that had less; yet everyone seemed satisfied.

Between Peace and War

Everything being now ready for the reception of the enemy, the natives enjoyed themselves in their out-houses, in fishing &c., as they did not think the enemy, as the King told me, would make an attack upon them for some time.

By this time our boat was in great forwardness. The King asked me one day, what I intended to do with it, to which I answered, that if the enemy, meaning the several islanders, did not soon come to attack us, I would go, and attack them on their own islands. My stock of powder was about 20 Ibs,  which I made into cartridges and some balls from lead. The natives seeing these preparations expected to derive much advantage from my assistance.

On the 9th. of Sept., the King told me that the next day I must go with him to see the fort of Tattalepo (Tatilipo, is Tathi-Levu, which was a town near the present town of Navunievu, a few miles westward from the town of Mbua). This was a district of a petty chief named Walabatoo®, who was subject to the King. We accordingly set out with twenty canoes, and with us, we had a number of the King’s principal men.  Everyone was armed, and I might be like the others, my body was painted black; I had a musket on my back, and two pairs of pistols, all loaded. When we arrived, we were received by all the old men and the chief, with a great deal of ceremony and respect. The natives both men and women were employed in constructing their fort. The King had a long conference with the old men, who declared their willingness to assist him in the war, and to defend themselves to the last extremity, should they be able to have their fort completed before the arrival of the enemy. “We feasted on yams and bread-fruit, &c. and remained with them all night.

The moon shining we joined them in dancing; it was a part of their worship to dance while the moon shines. The men and women dance in separate bodies. They keep an excellent time with their song, during which some play on a hollow bamboo, which they blow with their nose; it produces a sound somewhat like our fife. By the King’s order the next morning I fired the musket and pistols, taking care to put two balls into each, and to fire into the wood. The natives were astonished when they saw the bark fly from the trees, and the balls sink into a number of them. They wished me to show them more of my thunder, as they called it; but I had no desire to satisfy them further, or let them know the muskets would do no execution without them being charged.  The old King was the only one that knew this secret; he had the courage to fire one pistol, but the others dare not touch them. The King having settled his affairs, we departed for Myemboo by land, with ten of the natives for company.  The canoes were sent around loaded with bread-fruit, &c.which the King had been presented with. On our way to Myemboo I shot some wild ducks, that I gave to the old Queen; but I soon after repented my generosity, for she liked them so much as to wish me to get her a few every day; however, in such a way I had not much ammunition to spend.

Mercenary Troops arrived to assist the King in the Battle

The 15th. Sept, about two hundred people arrived from the island of Migora (Koro) to offer their services to the King to assist him in the war. They were not immediately admitted to the royal presence but were lodged in a house outside of the fort appropriated for the reception of strangers. Every village has a home for strangers. The King appointed the following day for receiving them, before which time none of the King’s subjects were permitted to have any communication with them, except some old men who carried their provisions. I visited these strangers previous to their obtaining their audience, and found them engaged in cleaning their spears and clubs, painting their bodies, &C- Those who were armed with bows and arrows painted themselves all over with turmeric and cocoa-nut oil: those armed with spears were painted from their navel upwards all black, and red from that part downwards; those, with slings and clubs, were painted entirely black, their heads and arms excepted, which were red. All of them had long pieces of white cloth tied to their hair, arms, and around their clubs and spears.  They were all stout, able-bodied men; most of them upwards of six feet high. War was their profession, being mercenary kind of troops, who fought for those who paid them best, and to me, they appeared well-fitted for it.

King Receives the Mercenaries

At noon the King and about five hundred of his men assembled together before his house, and squatting down upon their hands, they formed a kind of half moon; in the middle of which were placed a number of hogs, cooked plantains, and yams, with bundles of spears, clubs, &c. A messenger was then dispatched to inform the strangers that the King was ready to receive them.  Soon afterward they appeared; those carrying bows came first and ranged themselves in front. The King was now standing in the middle of the half circle with a spear in his hand when one of the strangers advanced towards him making his reverence or signs of submission; which being ended they entered into an agreement respecting the war. During the time this took place, one of the party was ridding himself of a large burden of cloth, about one hundred yards in length: it was wrapped around his body, so that in unfolding it he had to turn round perhaps a hundred times before he got himself disencumbered; which to one unaccustomed to such work, could certainly be no easy task. When this scene was finished the King gave to each of them a bow and bundle of arrows. They then moved to one side to make way for those armed with spears who came next.

The ceremony that now took place was much the same as the first, with this difference, that the King told them when the war was over, and they had returned the spears with an account of what they had done with them, he would pay them accordingly. The Club men followed, and their ceremony ended, three of the King’s old men laid the hogs, yams, &c. before the strangers, who took them up without saying another word to anyone, and went back to the house they had formerly occupied. The cloth that had been brought was then divided among the King’s people; a share of which he only got; part was given to me, and all seemed content. The night coming on they were joined by their visitors when the dance and song began as usual.

Callow Ceremony 

A few days afterward a singular ceremony happened. The King had sent to the district of Myendam for an old decrepit man, whom they called a Callow, and being remarkably deformed in his person, he was thought superior to all the other Callows on the island. This man was put into the house of their Callow, and four of the King’s old men with him; I also had permission to go. The King remained outside of the house, and at times conversed with the Callow. This old man so decrepit and worn out with age, as he entered the house, supported himself with a stick, which made me think he was scarcely able to bear- his own weight.

The event proved how much I was mistaken, for he soon began to jump and skip, and beat the floor with his stick, to swing and twist his limbs and body to such a degree as to put himself into so great a perspiration, that induced me to think he was certainly mad. When he had done and had prognosticated something in favour of the King and his people, they were well pleased with his performance. Something was then brought him to eat, but his endeavors to pry into futurity had lost him his appetite, and he was so fatigued that he laid himself down on the ground, and went to rest, I asked the old King if he thought that this old man could tell him anything of future events. He said he did not know, but he was thought to be a very great Callow, and that it was his duty to believe him. I desired to know if he thought that the provisions which were every day put before the Callow’s house door were eaten by the Callow himself. He could not tell, he said, but if he did not, it was his duty always to leave some there for him. Fortunately for me he seldom neglected this duty, as I generally made my supper out of what was intended for the Callow; but this was only known to myself.  They have a temporary Callow for almost everything, but they still believe in as many invisible ones, who they suppose have power over the winds, waters, fish, fowls, &c. : in short, in their opinion, everything has a Callow of its own species.

Women Ceremony 

A ceremony on the 25th. of Septr. took place among the women, to whom the fishing department is allotted. For some time past they had been employed in making new nets.  About two hundred of them collected together in a cleared place of ground in the wood, at the upper end of which was the grave of a favorite Callow, who had been a tutelar deity of the fisheries and had died sometime before. This place is ornamented with cloth, fish-bones, shells &c. by the women. There were a number of men present but they took no part in the ceremony. The women spread out their nets, took some boiled yams, and with one hand over the net and the other under, they broke the yams in two. This was done to every net. They then commenced a dance and song in honor of their Callow and afterward set out to catch fish. Their nets were about three yards square. They go where there is about three feet depth of water when the women form a half circle with their nets: the men meanwhile beat the water with sticks and drive the fish into the snare; the women then close the circle, until they meet all in the middle and the fish by this means is completely surrounded. Afterward, the nets are taken up, and generally are full, for there is plenty of fish.

The Escape Boat is almost ready

Our boat was now almost ready; it was launched, our yams for sea stock had been already taken up, water was stowed in the bottom of the boat in hollow bamboos, and the people were employed in making sails out of mats, and rigging out of sennet, made from the husk of the cocoa-nut.

Final Preparations before the commencement of War – Vessel on the Horizon

The enemy was expected to arrive in a few days. On the 28th. of Sept, the natives retired into the fort, but not before they had burned all their out-houses, destroyed the plantain trees, bread-fruit trees, cocoa-nut trees, &c., that they might not fall into the hands of the enemy. They had placed upon the tops of some of the highest cocoa-nut trees, baskets, in which a man could sit conveniently, to see the enemy when they made their appearance. On these trees, pieces of wood were lashed, which made their ascent and descent very easy.  To my great joy, as I was upon one of the trees on the morning of the 2nd. of Oct., I discovered a sail, which at first I took for a large canoe, but as she approached I perceived she was rigged in the European manner. She came to an anchor in the bay, and soon after I saw a boat making for the shore. It was not long before I communicated this welcome intelligence to my unfortunate companions, who were so overjoyed at the news, that it made them forget the distance there still was between them and their friends in America, and even to suppose they were already amongst them. As for myself, I felt quite sensible of the interposition of Divine providence in directing a vessel to that unfrequented part of the world, at the very time that I was determining whether to embark in a small boat in an immense sea, ill-provided with necessaries for a voyage of the kind before me, or wait for the result of a war with a set of cannibals, whose manner of warfare I knew little of.

It may be said by some who may read this plain and undisguised narrative of facts, that my case was no worse than Captn. Bligh’s of the ship Bounty. Let such please recollect Captn. Bligh was supplied with charts, instruments, provisions, sails, and ammunition, and also with more men; all of which I was indifferently provided with.

To return from this digression: whatever my former opinion might have been, from this time I was fully convinced of the interposition of a supreme being in the affairs of men, and that we should always resign ourselves to his fruitfulness once attained outlasts several generations of its owners — that it is difficult to believe that the Mbuans really destroyed their coco-nut trees before retiring into the fort, whatever they may have done in the case of the more easily replaceable plantains or even the breadfruit trees. This is the one important statement by Lockerby that seems quite incredible. Probably the most the Mbuans did on this occasion was to destroy such of the growing coco-nuts as they did not take with them into the fort. beneficent will, with full confidence in his, never failing protection.

Fijian Drua (New York Public Library 1913)
Fijian Drua | Image: New York Public Library 1913

I now thought my troubles were at an end, but the reader will find how much I was mistaken when he reads that the sufferings I had hitherto endured were comparatively mere trifles to those which followed and that the most interesting part of my narrative is yet to commence.

Brig Favorite from Port Jackson

The vessel proved to be the Brig Favorite from Port Jackson, William Gamble, Commander; this gentleman received me on board and treated me with the greatest kindness. He told me he has come for a cargo of Sandle-wood, and that when it was procured, he was bound to Canton in China, to which place he would give me a passage. In return for his kindness, I offered him my services, as I could speak the language, to procure a cargo of Sandlewood. This he willingly accepted, but as the natives expected the war would break out in a short time, we did not expect to be able to carry on much trade with them at present.

Inland Excursion with Mr. Graham

On board the Favorite there was a Mr. Graham a gentleman passenger who wished to see the interior of the island.  I went with him on the 6th. to see the chief Gorabato, to engage him to cut wood for the ship. This chief was subject to the King of Myemboo, and had his fort upon an inaccessible rock in the middle of the island. We departed in the morning, and by noon had penetrated about seven miles into a wood, when we were stopped by about five and twenty natives, who rushed out of it, brandishing their spears.  Mr. Graham was much alarmed. I asked them in their own language what chief they belonged to, which surprised them no little. They told me Gorabato. He is the chief whom I wished to see, one of the natives went with us to show us the way.

At four o’clock we arrived at the fort, and after some difficulty in getting up the rock, we saw the chief. I gave him the presents Captn. Gamble had sent and mentioned to him the purport of my visit. When the war was over he told me he and his people would cut wood, but at present it was impossible. He then asked me if I had seen any of the enemies on my way. I said no. He said that the night before they had landed and carried off some of his people. He likewise informed me, that he and the chief of Tatelepo had agreed to join the enemy. His reason for so acting was to be revenged on the chief of Taffear, who was the King of Myemboo’s nephew, for the many depredations the former had committed on the different islands. They advised us to stay all night with them, and in the morning the chief said he could send a party of his men with us to protect us from the enemy. This counsel I would gladly have taken, for the night, was fast approaching, and I was apprehensive we might not find our way through the wood; but Mr. Graham having heard so much of the war, was afraid to remain the night, and having eaten some bread-fruit, we set out towards Myemboo Bay.

The woods being very thick, the pathways narrow, and the night approaching, we were in continual fear lest we should fall in with some of the natives. We traveled until midnight when we were completely at a loss for which way to pursue. It was so dark that we could not see the footpaths. We at last concluded we must have taken the wrong direction, from the distance we had come. Mr. Graham proposed to take that direction we thought led to the bay, without following the footpaths; which we did by forcing our way through the wood for some miles, sometimes crawling upon all fours, at other times scrambling over roots and stumps of trees, forcing our way through briars and bamboo which tore our clothes entirely to pieces, and bruised and scratched our bodies in a shocking manner. Our distressful situation was made still more intolerable by the immense number of the largest kind of snakes that we disturbed and which kept hissing about us; they were not the most venomous, yet we found them, as it may well be believed, no very pleasant companions. We were also tormented by the sandfly and mosquito. These plagues, besides the want of food and water, and the dampness of the air in a wood, without clothes to protect ourselves from it, reduced us to a most pitiable condition. We took it by turns to go ahead, in order to clear the way until at length I became so overcome with fatigue I could go no further, and consequently laid myself down. The snakes alarmed Mr. Graham too much to allow him to follow my example, so he left me. However, he soon returned and reported he had been stopped by a large rock, which he had not been able to pass. I prevailed on him to remain with me for about half an hour, during which time he betook himself to a tree to avoid the snakes &c. As for myself I got some sleep and found myself much refreshed from it.

We then proceeded by taking a different direction to where we had come, when we ultimately got into a footpath which we followed, until we came to a grove of cocoa-nut trees. This indeed was a welcome sight, but they were too high for us to get any of the fruit. This footpath we kept till we arrived at some huts of the natives, that proved to be the town of Tatelepo. We were very much afraid lest we should alarm its inhabitants, and they fall upon us in the dark before we could inform them who we were.  Hunger and fatigue however induced us to enter one of their cooking houses, which was empty, the natives having retired to their fort. We found nothing but some of their sour paste; this Mr. Graham could not eat, but for myself, I found now the advantage of having lived among the natives; I eat some of it, and with a drink of water, made a hearty meal. We then kindled a fire, and lay down by it, until daylight. Being almost naked we were supplied by the people of the village with a masi each, to cover our nakedness, and afterward put on board our ship in a canoe, as sick of our land cruise as ever two poor fellows were.

General Wellesley – 150 Enemy Canoes – 6th October 

On the 6th. of October the ship General Wellesley arrived from the straits of Malacca, commanded by Captain Dalrymple, and had been out nine months, having come around New Holland. The first and second mates had died, with about six of the crew. Captain D. was also in a bad state of health. The same day I sailed with two boats to Highley Bay (Wailea Bay, North of Mbua Bay); at which place I remained till the 10th. without being able to obtain any wood from the natives; who had secured themselves in their fort expecting the enemy. Finding I could get no wood, I determined to return. The Bay of Highley is so formed, that when at the head of it you can not see the mouth. When I got out into the middle of the Bay I had the mortification and disappointment to perceive its mouth covered with at least one hundred and fifty of the enemy’s canoes.

150 Enemy Canoes – Commanded by Chief Bulendam

  • Held captive in the hold of the canoes, the boat plundered
  • Callows prophecy saved the lives of the crew
  • 3 Day War commences

This was the fleet of the combined Islanders who were going to attack the King of Myemboo’s nephew, on the island of Tafiier (Tavea). The chief, Bulendam, had the command of this expedition. I was at this time in the launch, with seven men; Mr. Smith was in the whaleboat with six men. To have attempted to run from this formidable armament I was convinced would be useless, and to try to defend ourselves against such a superiority of numbers I also knew would be madness. I, therefore, thought it best to show confidence in them by steering directly towards them, and I was the more inclined to do this, as they were holding up yams, cocoa nuts &c. to invite us to come towards them. I then made for the largest canoe, thinking to fall into the hands of Bulendam, but unfortunately, I got alongside the canoe belonging to the chief of the island of Ambow (Ambau (Mbau).  I was no sooner within their reach, than several of the men jumped into my boat, plundered it of everything they could find, and dragged me and my comrades on board their canoe, where we were stripped to the skin and then tumbled down into the hold.

Mr. Smith, seeing what reception I had met with, attempted to escape, but he and his companions were soon overtaken by one of the canoes, and likewise made prisoners. Luckily for them, they fell into the hands of Bulendam, who knew he could not get up the river to attack the King of Myemboo without first having obtained permission from the ships, which both lay at the mouth of the river. He knew this to be the case and would gladly have released the whole of us, could he have prevailed on the other chiefs to give their consent; however this was an obstacle he could not surmount. I told them if we were delivered up to the ships, the ransom they would get for us would be large; but neither the reasoning of the king nor my persuasions produced the least effect. Several were already anticipating the rich repast our mangled bodies would make them; and our sacrifice would have been inevitable, had not one of the old Callows interfered. These men are looked upon by the natives in times of war as unerring prophets, and their prophecies are highly respected. On this occasion he had recourse to the mysteries of his profession; he seized hold of a coconut and after whirling it around several times on the deck of the canoe, he declared that our death was not desired and that our presence in battle would be advantageous to them.  My clothes were then given to me, but my comrades were obliged to sleep on the deck of the canoe all night without a thread upon them.

Enemy Canoes – 3-Day Attack

The following morning all the fleet was under sail steering towards the isle of Taffier (Tavea) with a fresh breeze. The canoe I was in, was one of the largest kinds of double canoes; it consisted of two single ones joined together by a platform, in the middle of which the mast is fixed. Round the sides of the platform, there is a strong breastwork of bamboo, behind which they stand in engaging an enemy. There is also a house on the platform which is erected and taken down as circumstances require. The number of men on board amounted to two hundred. Captain Cook’s account of the swift sailing of these vessels is quite correct, however incredible it may appear to those who have not seen them.  With moderate wind, they will sail twenty miles an hour.

At 10 am. the canoe I was in reached the island of Taffier (Tavea); the other part of the fleet not sailing so fast as we did, was about four miles astern. The crew of the canoe then got down their sail and house, strung their bows, and prepared for action. Before this was well performed, five small canoes carrying ten men each, came from the island to attack us.  A man was stationed at both ends of our canoe, each having a long pole; by this means they kept the breastwork between them and the enemy. The battle was begun by a volley of stones from the slings; bows and arrows were then used, and as they neared each other they fought with spears and clubs.  We should certainly have been taken if some of the light canoes of our party had not come up to our assistance, which made the islanders desist from the combat, and retreat into their fort, leaving the canoes in our possession. Several of them were wounded. On our side, the chief and some others were wounded, and the canoe struck all over with spears and arrows.

At 4 pm. the whole fleet of one hundred and fifty canoes had arrived, when the island was surrounded; which was about three miles in circumference, and completely barricaded all around with bamboo, stones &c. On the island, there were about six hundred men. In the course of the afternoon, the enemy made several sallies, in which many were wounded on both sides. Only one prisoner was taken, who was sent to the canoe I was in.

At night all the canoes left the island and ran over to the mainland, which is distant by it four miles. Between this and the island, there is a number of beds of coral rock. When we reached the mainland fires were kindled along the shore, around which a number of the party slept all night. The man that had been taken prisoner eat some yams that were given to him, and spoke about the war and other matters with great cheerfulness. He had several stumps of arrows in his body. Those who had been wounded were busily engaged in extracting the broken pieces of spears and arrows from their bodies, which they did in a very rough manner, with shells and pieces of bamboo. As their spears and arrows are generally pointed with the bill of the guard fish and other fish bones, it is impossible to get them out of the flesh without making incisions around them. I observed they did not assist the prisoner to dress his wounds: they told me they would be dressed in the morning, which they were with a vengeance, for at daylight he was brought forward by order of the Callow, and by a blow on the head with a club an end was put to his sufferings and existence together. He was about fifty years of age. His body was cut up and divided among the chiefs, who made a hearty breakfast of it. Some of my companions, I am sorry to say, eat a part of it involuntarily, mistaking it for pork, as it was cooked, and resembled it very much.

The attack on the island continued for three days, and each day about twenty prisoners were taken; at night they returned to the mainland, upon which they always i.e. with the long spear-like snout of the garfish. hauled up their canoes, and there they cooked and eat the bodies of their prisoners, packing up in baskets what was left.

On the morning of the 15th. of Oct. at break of day, a canoe was sent over to the island the crew of which landed and finding it evacuated by the natives, they set fire to one of the houses; at which signal all the canoes went over, and the men landed, leaving only two or three in each canoe to take care of them. Those on shore soon commenced to carry away the hogs, plantains, yams, mats, baskets, fishing nets, and all the plunder they could get. When they could find no more they set fire to every house, and burnt or cut down all the cocoa-nut, breadfruit, yams, and plantain trees which the island was covered with.

350 Old Men, Women, and Children Massacre

At about 1 pm. preparation were made for leaving the island when some of the natives by chance went into a long point of mangroves that projected from the island, where they discovered the retreat of about 350 old men, women, and children. It appears that the Islanders finding they would be overpowered by numbers, some got away to the mainland in canoes, and others affected their escape by swimming; but these unfortunate, helpless beings not being able to accomplish it, had betaken themselves to this place for safety. They had not long to remain in suspense, for no sooner were they discovered than a general massacre took place; some were knocked down with clubs and lanced with spears &c. Several of the younger class attempted to run away. These their murderers pursued as they would chase a wild beast, and before they were overtaken had a number of arrows in different parts of their bodies. They were then dragged by the feet and hands over the rocks to the canoes which lay about 300 yards from the shore. Everyone strove all he could to make the most prisoners. I saw two men bring down at one time five. Each of them had a pole, at the ends of which were hanging two children, and between them, they dragged by the feet a woman of about forty years of age, most probably the mother of those four that were suspended from the poles. When this woman reached the canoe she was not quite dead, although she had been dragged a considerable way over rocks and through water; she had also received a wound on the side of the head with a club. They then placed her upright in the canoe and gave her some fresh water: she I believe might have recovered again, but one of the infernal monsters by one blow with his club, laid her silent forever. No quarters were given to any but a boy about ten years old, who was remarkably deformed in his limbs and body; he, they said, was a Callow.

Cannibalism of the fallen

The scene of horror that I and my comrades here witnessed, who was all the time naked, with death pictured in our countenances surpass conception, and it is impossible for me to convey to the mind of the reader an adequate idea of this terrible scene of human misery. The shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying; the songs, the dance, and the hellish yells of the conquerors; their savage looks and gestures, and when the reader can fancy these, and our miserable situation, he may perhaps form some, though unequal representation of it. On board the canoe I was in, there were forty-two dead bodies, and as the sun was very hot, water was thrown at times upon them. Night coming on the fleet left the island and went over to the mainland as usual.

That night and the next day they spent in cutting up and cooking the dead bodies of their prisoners. Some were cooked whole in the ground upon hot stones covered over with green leaves and earth, but most of them were cut in pieces and after being broiled on the fire, they packed up what then was not eaten in baskets made from the branches of the cocoa-nut trees. They were very solicitous not to lose any part of the body; the head was held over the fire to singe off the hair — afterward, it was scraped with shells and made up with the rest of the body: the soles of the feet were also held over the fire, and then the skin, which might be half an inch thick, was peeled off in the manner the skin of a pig’s foot is taken off.  The foot that before was black became white through this operation. In order that no part should be lost they cleaned the intestines in the water by turning them inside out upon sticks; they were then broiled over the fire and eaten: these were considered by them the most delicate part of the body.

The reader may find such details as these disgusting, but still, they may show into what an abyss of dreadful depravity these poor wretches are sunk. I myself escaped with much difficulty from being a partaker of their abominable messes.  After I had been almost four days without food I was offered a part of a man’s leg; on which I told them if I eat any it would kill me, but this they would not believe. One more considerate than the rest brought me the piece of a child; this he said would not hurt me, and to demonstrate what he advanced he pointed to a woman, who had a child sucking at her breast eating some of the same, and observed that as it did not injure her, it could not hurt me. I then told him it was not the bagola (the name they give to human flesh)  I was afraid of, but it was my Callow, who would punish me if I were to eat it. In this way, I got clear from eating their bagola at this time, but I was obliged to eat yams cooked in the same pot. They put the flesh or what they want to cook into them; the pot is then placed into a hole in the ground, which is covered over with red hot stones and green leaves; afterward, they cover all with dry earth, and in a short time, their provisions are sufficiently done.

Proceeding to Myemboo Bay – 17th October 

On the 17th. all the canoes got underway and proceeded towards Myemboo Bay, where the ships were at anchor. The wind being right ahead we did not arrive at Highley Bay until the 21st. Here in the night, I might have made my escape, but as in this case I must have left behind my companions I did not make the attempt.

Female Death Ritual 

On the 22nd. we got behind the point of land that forms the west side of Myemboo Bay. In the night one of the company got away, traveled across the point of land, and the next day was taken on board ship by Captn. Camble in General Wellesley’s launch. It appeared that Capt; Camble had been angry with him. The man’s dead body was soon after brought out, and bundled into the grave (as it was too short to lay it at full length), at the bottom of which a mat was spread. A mat was then laid at the edge of the grave, on which the woman was placed, with her feet upon the dead body. In this posture, she remained for half an hour without speaking a word to anyone. The other women now brought some calabashes of oil, and other things as presents to her, when she rubbed some of the oil on her body. She did not appear the least uneasy about her approaching fate. I gave her a few beads, of which she took little notice, and handed them to the old chief, who was afraid to receive them. He returned them to me, saying he would give me cocoa nuts or anything he had, but the woman’s life he could not save.

A piece of their cloth twisted like the strand of a rope was then put around her neck with a round turn. One man at each end of this rope pulled it tight, while another kept her eyes closed, and a woman held her feet together. Her hands were loose. She did not make the least resistance. Her body soon became amazingly swollen, and very much convulsed.  As soon as she was thought to be dead, the rope was taken from her neck. She afterward however showed signs of life,  when the rope was again applied. One man held her head down, and four others drew the cord so very tight that they almost separated the head from her body. The corpse was then put into the grave, and covered with mats, over which they placed earth and stones. Having witnessed the horrid deed, I was about to return to the boat, when I found the old King appeared to be much alarmed. He said he was afraid of the white man’s Callow, and would make him a present of cocoa nuts, some of which he begged me to accept for him; but I refused. I then left the place, and immediately went on board the ship: she was laying within half a mile of the shore. The same night we fired several guns from the ship loaded with shots.

Negotiations start between Captain Camble and the combined islander war canoes controlled by the Chief Bulendam

  • Two Chiefs held hostage

Before daylight we landed and burned some of their houses, cut down several trees, &c.  The natives had all of them deserted the village, and taken shelter in the wood. A few days afterward they returned.  strongest party, taken the canoe from them, and carried it to the ships. Had it not been for me and the man left behind, the seamen would have taken summary vengeance on those they had in their power, for the sufferings they had undergone.  All the time they were in the hands of the natives they had been naked, and their bodies dreadfully scorched by the sun.  The men too that had taken them on board were the very rascals who had stripped them of their clothes and were wearing at the same time some of their shirts. Several of the sailors’ tin pots &c. were also on board the canoe. These articles the seamen demanded, and on their refusal to deliver them up, they were taken from them by force. This enraged them so much that when they were about to leave the ship they threatened what they would do to me and the man in their power; Captn. Camble then thought it most advisable to detain some of them on board until we should be delivered up. Accordingly (not without difficulty) two chiefs were secured, and the canoe was sent back to the others.

When they arrived the disappointment manifested was great; expecting as they did a considerable gratuity as I had endeavored to persuade them, they now found that instead of it, two of their principal chiefs were prisoners. On the return of the canoe and hearing this intelligence, they all crowded about me, some of them brandishing their clubs over my head, I expected every moment would be my last. At length, Bulendam and the father of one of the chiefs prisoners on board ransomed me and my comrade from the chief who had us in his possession for two whale’s teeth, two tomahawks, and two pieces of iron. We were told at the same time that if the white men did not kill the two chiefs they would not kill me, but if they were killed I should suffer the same fate.  To this I consented, not suspecting the least harm would happen to them while they remained on board. Night setting in the canoes was hauled to Mangrove Point on the east side of the bay, about seven miles from the ships. At 12 o’clock at night, I made an attempt to swim from them, but I was discovered, and although I tried to persuade them I was only bathing or washing, they would not believe me. I was afterward watched very closely.

The next day, the 24th. Oct., the fourteenth day I had been their prisoner, all the chiefs and old men went on shore to the point of land, and soon after sent for me and Thos. Berry, (the name of my companion). When we landed we we’re told the two chiefs had been killed, but I said it was not so; and to convince them of this truth if they would carry Berry on board they would get one of their chiefs, who would inform them how he had been treated, and then they might treat me accordingly. Some of them would have agreed to this; but the greater part was for delivering us up at once, in order that they might proceed to attack the old King, from whom they expected a good deal of plunder. The latter being resolved, thirty canoes were dispatched toward the ships. We were in the sternmost of them, and it was their intention to give us our liberty on receiving their two chiefs.

The natives in the headmost canoes commenced their song, which was considered by Captn. Camble is the signal for an attack upon the ships. So when they arrived within musket shot of them, they fired several broadsides of grapeshot among the canoes, which sank seven and killed a number of the natives. I tried to make them believe that they were only showing us how far the balls would go, but this was of little use. I could not shut their eyes from seeing the dead bodies of their friends floating past us. Berry and I were then lashed by the neck, hands, and feet to the deck of the canoe, which was at this time with the others returning to those they had left. Then I felt certain an end would be put to our existence; and to make myself visible to the ship’s company, I induced the natives to fasten me around the mast of the canoe. This fully answered my purpose, for Captn.  Camble soon discovered me from the deck of his ship, which was about a mile distant; and soon after I saw a small boat come from her with four Lascars. Captn. Camble had sent along with them a large present as our ransom. This they would not receive, and demanded the two chiefs, on the arrival of whom they would give us up; but how great was my surprise and disappointment when I heard that the two chiefs were dead

The night before they had attempted to make their escape, and Captn. Camble conceived if they effected it, no mercy would be shown me. They succeeded so far in getting away, that the crew was obliged to kill them, as they could not hinder their escape in any other manner^. When I was informed of this I lost all hope; and recommended my soul to the Almighty. Never do I think of this awful and perilous moment, with death and the thought of being mangled and devoured by these savages, without feeling sensible of the interposition of the Divine Being in preserving my life.

Escape plan formulated

The person who communicated to me the death of the two chiefs spoke in the Bengalee language, so the natives did not know they were dead. I sent word to Captn. Camble that there was a probability of his taking me from them by force, which was the only hope I had left. When the Lascars left me I told the natives I had sent for the two chiefs, who would soon arrive; and I then prevailed on them to make their canoes fast to a coral reef to wait till the chiefs should come. The reef was two miles from the ships. At this time there were about twenty canoes with us. I persuaded them to send ten away, by saying the small boat would come immediately with the two chiefs, but when they saw so many canoes they would be afraid to approach near enough for them to be able to receive them, or for me to be delivered up.  This reasoning had the desired effect; ten canoes left us. The remainder had about 16 men in each. I saw the Wellesley’s cutter hauled round to the opposite side; by this movement, I conjectured they were going to attempt my rescue. While they were making preparations on board to come to my assistance, although I was then bound, I danced and sang and otherwise amused the natives, to take their attention from the ship. I was told afterward that when Captain Camble heard of my situation, he and fourteen brave fellows voluntarily offered their services to save the lives of two brother seamen, or perish in the attempt. The sailors each armed with a musket, cutlass &c. lay flat down in the bottom of the cutter. Two black men, their backs towards the canoes, personated the two chiefs who had been killed. Captain Camble was in the stem sheets with a swivel loaded with grape, & a man steering the boat.

In this manner, they came towards us. I told the natives it was the same small boat, which had come before. As soon as Captn. Camble got within hail of me, he asked me if I could swim; I said, yes, but I was then bound. I requested him to come within pistol shot, and on the first fire the natives would jump overboard to escape the musket balls when I should have time to unbind myself before they regained their canoes,

Captn. Camble had given orders to his men to lie in the bottom of the boat until he should give them orders to fire, but the man who was steering being alarmed cried out that the boat was grounding on the coral reef. On this, the seamen jumped up and began a regular fire among the natives; who on the first report all jumped overboard. Being now alone, I got my neck and hands loose and sprang down into the water, but in the hurry I got my legs entangled in a rope, which prevented me from making my escape. When I was about two fathoms underwater I was brought up by the feet — several of the natives then laid hold of me, and again dragged me onboard the canoe. One of them struck me with his club on the lower part of my left jaw-bone, the effects of which I shall feel while I live. The battle now waxed hot on both sides. The Europeans were attacked by the islanders with their spears, and their arrows flew thick, but as the boat’s gunwale was high its crew did not suffer much; meanwhile, the seamen were picking out the natives fast, as they were little more than a pistol shot distant. The swivel too did great execution. At every fire, the natives leaped into the water, and it being quite smooth, it was quite red with their blood. A number of them in the water were nearly dead, yet they did not show any signs of desiring quarter. In every interval between the firing, they endeavored to secure me; several were shot in the act of doing so. Berry, who all this time had been lying bound on the deck of the canoe, contrived to get himself loose, and sprang overboard. As the boat could not take him up, an oar was thrown to him, on which he got and swam towards the ship. By this time there were only six or seven natives with me in the canoe; the others were either killed or had gone on board some of the other canoes. I frequently jumped overboard but was as often dragged on board again. At last, I sprang into the water and went to the bottom in four fathoms: I remained underneath it as long as I was able, taking the direction towards the boat. When I came to the surface of the water, I was almost suffocated by the quantity I had swallowed. However, I was immediately seen by one of the natives and was quickly seized by him. I was then within ten yards of the boat. He being both stronger and more expert in the water than I, he succeeded in getting me under him, and I was drowning fast when he was struck by a ball; on which he left me. I was now under the bow of the boat and in the act of sinking. My brave deliverers picked me up. Supposing life was extinct, they took to their oars and pulled for the ship as fast as possible. On the way, Berry was picked up. They were chased by these savages, who had been joined by a number of others, till they got within reach of the ship’s big guns, which were fired upon them, and several of the
canoes were sunk.

Combined Fleet Dispersed

The warm reception the natives met with at the ships, made them despair of being able to attack the King of Myemboo. On the same day the combined fleet dispersed, each party to its own island: their numbers being somewhat less than when they left them.

I was taken on board the brig Favorite, where my wounds were dressed &c.; and from Captn. Camble and his officers I received every assistance I could wish for. In a few days, I was able to go on shore to see the old King, who was still afraid the enemy would land on some part of the island. In his fort several of the seamen with six seapoys from General Wellesley remained; they had with them two four-pounders and ammunition. The King sent his people into the wood accompanied by an armed party from the ships. to cut sandalwood. About ten tons of it as a present were made to each vessel.

Chiefs who Revolted against the King adjusted matters with him 

On the 26th. Oct., several petty chiefs who had revolted against the King came to adjust matters with him, and with them brought all their property. This the good old King returned, only retaining some of the hogs for the Callow; and then pardoned them. They went home singing and dancing. There were still two chiefs who refused to make peace with the King; the chiefs of the districts of Tatelipo and Gorabato. The former was the place where Captain Camble had killed some of the natives on the 23rd., on being told that myself and the boats’ crews had been massacred.  For this injury, they had declared they would take all the white men they could, which made it dangerous to go on shore. These people had formerly been in the practice of plundering the boats of the Port Jackson vessels which traded with them. At one time they plundered one of the ships Jenny’s boats, stripped the crew naked, and would not allow them an oar to pull on board with. They were consequently old offenders, and before the affair with Captn. Camble is by no means friendly to Europeans.

The 28th. Oct., the ship Tonquin, Capt. Brumley of New York arrived in the bay. Our differences with the natives still existing it continued dangerous to venture on shore.

On the 29th. we manned and armed the boats and with the old King of Myemboo went to try to make friends between them and him, in order that we might engage them to cut wood for us. The King and myself only landed on the beach under the cover of the guns in the boats; which were under the direction of Capt. Camble, who would have fired into them had they shown they meant the least harm? We had a conference with the chief and some of his old men.  They were willing to make peace with the King, provided he would permit them to retain all their property. To this, the King consented, and they gave him a spear as a token of obedience. The white men were then mentioned; on which the chief whose name was Wallabatoo, (and blind of one eye), said that we had killed nine of his people and wounded a number of others and that he would kill as many of us as soon as he should have it in his power. When the King of Myemboo found that the white men were not to be included in this treaty of peace, he returned them their spear. I told them I had been taken by the party they had joined, and that Captn. Camble had been informed I was killed, which induced him to fire upon them. This explanation was not sufficient. They would not make friends with us; so we left them.

Negotiations fail with the two Chiefs of the districts of Tatelipo and Gorabato

As it was a great point for us to pacify them that we might procure our cargo of wood, and our going ashore while this a difference existed was attended with considerable risk, I offered them presents, which however would not satisfy them. I, therefore, agreed with the King of Myemboo, the King of Myendam, and some other chiefs, to destroy or drive them from the island.

According to this agreement, on the 2nd. of November 1808, at 4 a.m., the King of Myemboo arrived abreast of Tatelepo with about 900 of his people; the King of Myendam brought 500 with several from other districts; in all amounting to about 1800 men. I had with me in General Wellesley’s launch 16 Europeans, each of them armed with a good musket and cutlass. Besides we had a twelve-pound carronade and a four-pounder. Mr. Brown, the chief mate of the Tonquin, had also a launch provided with a twelve-pound carronade and a swivel. He had 14 men with him, but having left America during the time of the embargo, their wages were small, and they did not engage heartily in the affairs of this day.

At daylight we hauled the launches close in with the land, and abreast of the enemy’s fort. This was done at high water; at low water, the launches could not get within a mile of the shore. We then commenced a random fire into the fort through the wood, without doing them much damage.  This was continued until it became necessary to haul the boats into deeper water.

At 9 a.m. we landed carrying with us the small guns from each boat. Our allies, the natives, landed at the same time. The King of Myemboo then summoned all the chiefs together, who came and squatted all down upon their hands around him. As he related to them his motives for going to war with the people of Tatelepo, he stood in the middle of their circle with a spear in his hand. Amongst the causes he enumerated was that they had revolted against him, and had joined his enemies; they had burned some of his houses, they had taken some of his canoes and women, while fishing; and they had threatened to take the white men, who were his friends. When he had finished his harangue, the different chiefs clapped their hands and repeated the words; “ Venaka, Venaka ”; which signifies: very good, very good.

Fort Offensive

The fort we were about to attack was very strong and built on the same plan as the one I have already described at Myemboo. Behind it, there was a very high hill on the side of which was the King of Gorabato with 300 men. These made several attempts to join and assist their friends in the fort but were prevented from making the junction by the King of Myemboo, by the manner he had stationed his men.  The people of Myendam were ordered to the east side of the fort, to attack it, and also to hinder the enemy posted on the hill from getting into it. The natives of Mynobreti were sent to the west side. The King’s party and the Europeans were placed in the center. Between us and the fort the wood was very thick, and the ground swampy.

The King’s party began to cut down the wood to make a clear opening to the fort, but I found this operation very slow, and that the day would be spent without doing the enemy any harm, (who kept blowing their conches and beating their wooden drums as signals of defiance,) I proposed to the King to carry the guns through the wood and attack the fort at once, but the King thought this impracticable, the wood being so swampy.  He advised that we should go about three miles further down the Bay to another landing place, from whence, he said, we might walk along the foot of the hill to the fort. This plan I rejected, thinking that as 300 of the enemy were on the side of the hill above us, they would have a great advantage over us, and might cut off our retreat to the boats in case we should have occasion so to do. There was another objection; the guns we should have had to carry with us, and these the natives would by no means touch.

While they were employed in making an opening through the wood to the fort, I with some of the Europeans penetrated so far into it, till we got sight of the fort. We found the enemy driving down stakes for barricades. They soon perceived us and about a hundred of them sallied out to attack us, but by keeping up a regular fire we prevented them from coming too near. We retreated as they advanced without receiving any damage, although the stones from their slings passed, and the arrows stuck in the trees close to us. The report of the muskets brought the remainder of the Europeans with some of the natives to our assistance when we forced the enemy into their fort. We then got the small guns conveyed through the wood, and placed them upon the bank of a ditch, about 150 yards from the fort. At this distance, we fired about a hundred canisters and grape shots into it, while the rest of our party kept up a regular fire with their muskets, which no doubt went through and through it. However, we could not make any large breach or damage it visibly, which made the natives, our friends, believe that the balls could not penetrate the bamboo.

At noon the enemy made a desperate sally from the fort.  Those on the hill did the same. For ten minutes 200 men were closely engaged with spears and clubs. Fifty of each side, at least, were killed in this skirmish; among whom was the King of Myendam. His body was carried to a canoe.  His friends felt his loss very much. We again drove the enemy into their fort. Their courage was furious. When either spears or arrows penetrated their bodies, they would tear them out and throw them back at their enemies. One fell by a musket ball, and as he lay on the ground, he wounded several of his adversaries with the arrows from his body, before he was dispatched with a club.

At one p.m. a boat was sent from each ship with ammunition, which came very opportunely, as we had almost expended all our stock.

At about two p.m. the Enemy made another sally. The natives of Myendam retreated to their canoes. Several of them were killed. A party of the enemy in again retreating to the fort passed within two hundred yards of the Europeans, who kept together in a body. Thirty shots were fired at them, but only three fell. This made the natives on our side think our muskets were of little use. On this point, I thought it right to undeceive them, and at the same time to give them proof of our valour. Six of my companions volunteered to go with me to set fire to the fort. We got behind the barricade in the middle of the ditch, and with a lighted bamboo we fired the fort several times, but the fires were as often extinguished. At last, we got inside the barricade. The entrance into it was so narrow that only one could pass at once. The arrows were then flying from the fort like a shower of hail. To dislodge us from our position the enemy rushed out, on which we fired into the inner door and galled them severely. We now reached this door, and placed ourselves on each side of it, secure from the arrows of the besieged. As the natives ventured out we dispatched them.  Not liking this kind of work, they tore down the gate and made the opening so large as to admit a number at a time to sally out upon us. Our situation now became untenable; and we were obliged to make the best retreat we could, which was no easy matter. The outer gate was so small that only one person could pass at once; our muskets were discharged, and we had no time to load them again. Thomas Berry and I remained to keep the enemy at bay while the others escaped; we fired our pistols, and as we could not charge them, the enemy being within five yards of us we threw the pistols at them and attempted to get out of the fort. It was unfortunately too late. Thomas Berry received a spear in the back part of his neck and fell into the ditch, where his body was afterward found. My breast and left leg were pierced by arrows.  I was also wounded on the left foot by a spear. With these wounds, I thought myself fortunate to get outside the barricade. I was there joined by the King’s party. Soon after the enemy determined to abandon the fort, and join their allies on the hill. They sallied out in a body and fought desperately.  About fifty of them were killed before the junction was affected.

We then took possession of the fort, where the natives were convinced of the use of our firearms when they saw upwards of two hundred corpses of men, women, and children, whom the grapeshot had dreadfully mangled. Amongst them the body of the chief Wallabatoo was found; it was known by his being blind in one eye.

So very anxious were the conquerors to feast upon the bodies of their slain Enemies, that as soon as the fort was taken, they began to take them away to their canoes. Owing to this, all but the King’s party left us, and it was with difficulty we got the body of Thomas Berry, and the guns down to the boats, being attacked several times by the enemy from the hill.

When I agreed with the King to attack the natives of Tatelepo, I got him to promise me that none of the women and children who might be taken prisoners during the war should be killed. Although the King in conformity with his promise might have been inclined to save them, it was not in his power. The savages showed no mercy either to young or old who came in their way. One woman only escaped; she had received a wound on her head from a club and ran from the canoe into which she had been thrown. She was chased by one of her enemies when I stopped him by threatening to blow out his brains. She was afterward caught by some of the Europeans and delivered to the old King, who took her home with him, where her wound got well. I saw her often after this, and she was thankful to me for preserving her life.

At 5 p.m. all the natives dispersed each canoe carrying with it some of the dead bodies.

Burial of Thomas Berry

The next day by permission from the King a grave was (made) for the corps of Thomas Berry, and it was taken ashore attended by all the boats and men that could be spared from each ship. The boats had several officers and colours. After reading prayers and committing the body to the grave, we fired two volleys of musketry over it. Several hundreds of the natives were present, who during the ceremony kept themselves quite silent, by command of the King.  When it was ended he stuck into the grave a piece of iron, repeating the words: ‘‘Taboo; Taboo*’; which signify that the place must not be disturbed; or that it was sacred to their Callow. At the head of the grave, we placed a piece of oak wood, on which was cut the year of our Lord &c. This the natives thought was the white men’s Taboo.

We went into the King of Myemboo’s fort, where we found both men and women employed in cutting up the bodies of their prisoners. Some were cooked whole, and laid upon platforms around the house of the Callow; upon others, children and men were feasting. I asked Captain Camble what the people in Europe would think if we reported to them the spectacle we were then witnessing; he said they would not believe us. He told me that when I mentioned what I had seen while I was a prisoner with the natives, a Mr. William Scot, then on board the ‘General Wellesley’, could not be made to believe they eat those that were taken in battle. We were then passed a hut where an old woman was eating the foot of a child. I requested her to give it to me; which she did, decently folded up in a plantain leaf, I carried it on board and presented it to Mr. Scot, who was then satisfied the natives of the Feegee Islands were cannibals. This gentleman was the son of Mr. Scot, one of the principal settlers on Prince of Wales Island in the Straits of Malacca.

A few days afterward I went on shore. In going up the river I found the intestines of the dead bodies had been thrown into it; they had been thrown in at high water and floated down at ebb tide. They had caught the mangrove roots, and on the water leaving them, they were exposed to a burning sun, which caused such a horrid stench to rise from them that almost suffocated me. A number of dead bodies were also laid on the riverside upon platforms that created a smell that was felt at a considerable distance.

Search for Sandalwood 

On the l0th. of Nov. I sailed with the Wellesley’s and Tonquin’s armed crews and launches, accompanied by the old King, to discover a part of the island, where sandalwood might be more plentiful. In passing the island of Angona (The Island of Yanganga, Lying across, but as some distance out from the opening of Wailea Bay) on the 11th. we fell in with about twenty of the enemy’s canoes, who seeing us made off as fast as possible. The 12th. we landed on the island of Taffier (Tavea, lying close up to the land in the smaller bay beyond Lekutu (Ngaloa Bay), where we remained for three days. We then sailed to Lagota Bay (Ngaloa Bay into which the River Lekutu flows) and arrived there on the 16th. About 50 tons of Sandlewood we found already cut for us, by the King’s order. We paid the natives well, and they agreed to cut us as much as we wanted. This agreement they performed. I made several trips with the Wellesley’s launch thither, and soon got Captain Camble a cargo, on which he sailed to Port Jackson. He paid me handsomely for my services. I then engaged with Mr. Scot, who had taken upon himself the command of ‘General Wellesley’; Captain Dalrymple, and his first officer having died. He stipulated to give me three tons of Sandlewood as a privilege, 120 rupees a month, and a passage with him to China.

On the 1st. of Jan. 1809, Mr. Brown took possession of a small island in Lagota Bay (Ngaloa Bay into which the River Lekutu flows), where the wood was deposited as it was procured from the natives.

Having previously examined and sounded the channel between the island of Angona and Highparker (Great Headland – Nai Vaka), on the 28th. February, the Wellesley, and Tonquin were got round to Lagota Bay and anchored in four fathoms water abreast of the chief’s town of Boboo (Baboo is Na Vovo, the Chief’s town in Lagota (Ngaloa Bay)).

March 5th. The Tonquin having got her Cargo, sailed for China.

On the 6th. I sailed eastward with a determination to sail around the island to see whether sandalwood was to be found on any of the adjacent islands, &c. I had with me 14 Europeans and two Lascars. We were provided with two four-pounders, muskets, &c. and ammunition. We had besides one month’s supply of provisions.

On the 8th. I arrived at the Bay of Nandorey (Nadorey Bay is that on which the native town of Nanduri now stands)., about 60 miles from the ship. For the last two days, the weather had considerably changed, and we had some heavy squalls of wind and rain from the westward accompanied by a good deal of thunder and lightning. The natives told me the N.W. monsoon was setting in; which determined me to go no further that season. I remained at Nandorey Bay for three days until the natives cut me a load of sandalwood. This part of the island, it is very abundant. Having got about ten tons of wood into the launch on the 11th., and everything ready, I set out on my return to the ship. In the evening it blew a very strong gale from the westward with very heavy rain. Fearing I should run foul of some of the coral reefs,  I was brought up under the island of Mattawata (Mathuata), a mile from the shore. Throughout the night it rained so hard, that although we had a tarpaulin to cover the launch, the men were obliged to continue throwing out the water by buckets to prevent it from sinking. At midnight the thunder and lightning were more dreadful than anything of the kind I ever before witnessed in any part of the globe. At one a.m. the launch was struck by lightning, but happily, it did no other damage than that of splintering the mast. The shock however was very great: the boat appeared for some time to be covered with a blue flame and smelt so strong of sulfur that I imagined our powder under the platform in the stern of the launch was blown up. One of the Lascar’s knives had been hanging to the mast, where it was found with the blade melted to the thickness of straw; the horn handle was so scorched that it seemed as if it had been in the fire. At 4 a.m. it was blowing a perfect hurricane. Knowing our anchor would not hold out long we set up a jury mast, and with a part of our fore sail got under weigh, and ran before the wind and sea for the ship. A whaleboat I had with me, ran ahead, under a little sail, to discover the reefs. I had at times to heave some of the wood overboard, on account of the sea rolling over the launch. At 8 a.m. the whaleboat made a signal of a reef right ahead. We set some after-sail to try to weather it, but it blew too hard to keep my way to the wind, and the sea was breaking over us so that the men were employed with their hats and buckets to keep her from filling. As I found I could not weather the reef, I kept away thinking to go to leeward of it; but this I found likewise impossible, for I was now too windward of part of the reef.  Finding I could not by any means clear it, I let go of my anchor. This, unfortunately, did not hold: in a few minutes afterward, the launch struck upon the reef, struck very heavy, and soon after bilged, with the stern upon it, and bow under water. There were about three feet of water on the reef; and we were two miles from shore, where we saw some hundreds of natives, with whom we were unacquainted.  The whaleboat came to our assistance, but it was too small to carry us all to the ship: some must be left to the mercy of the waves and the natives. I, therefore, concluded to leave the two Lascars. I sent them into the launch to pass out provisions, &c. When this was done, I with a hatchet cut the boat’s painter and left them on the wreck. All the men except four at the oars lay flat at the bottom of the whaleboat to prevent it from being upset by the heavy sea. We pulled up to the windward of the reef, and then made sail before the wind. We passed over a number of reefs, but it being high water we only struck once, when we were in the trough of a very heavy sea. This strained the boat so much that we with great difficulty kept it afloat till we got alongside the ship; which we did about 4 p.m. having run in the whaleboat a distance of 50 miles in six hours. This gale lasted fourteen days.

2nd. April. I went in the Wellesley’s cutter up Embagaba river, where I found the two Lascars who were left upon the wreck of the launch; the natives had taken them off.  When they were told they belonged to Massa Lombe, the name the Islanders gave me, (those of this part had no doubt heard of the affair of Tatelepo and the share I had in it,) they did not offer the two men any harm but conducted them across the land to the place I found them.

A few days afterward I went to the reef where the launch was lost. I took with me some of the natives, who are very expert divers. They slung and recovered the guns which had sunk in 4 fathoms of water. I got some of the Sandlewood, which from its weight had also sunk; but there was no remnant of the launch to be seen.

On account of the abundance of Sandlewood in Nandorey Bay, I examined the passage through the reef &c., in order that General Wellesley might safely get round; which she did, and got here the principal part of her cargo.

On the 16th. of May I went about two miles up the river Embagaba to a village where I was told there was a large lot of Sandlewood, but the owners wanted a large whale’s tooth for it, and I had not one to give. As the ship had almost completed her cargo, I wished very much to get this parcel. To accomplish my end I made use of a stratagem that answered the purpose. I told the native that the ship’s Callow, making him understand this to be the figure of General Wellesley at the ship’s head (in full uniform), had sent me for the wood and ordered me to pay for it in iron work. The man on this was a little alarmed, but still, he did not seem inclined to part with his wood. I then took some long grass and bound it around several of his breadfruit trees; this done, I made a pile of stones before a pond of fresh water which was before his door, and then told him whoever should eat of the breadfruit would die, and that the same fate would meet the person who should wash in the pond. I finished my anathema by telling him that he and all his family would be sick before the day following at noon.  All this I assured him was by the ship’s Callow’s order, because he would not let me have the wood. I then left him to go farther up the river; however he soon followed and called after me, but I pretended not to hear him. That afternoon I was passing his habitation and found a number of natives assembled at the landing place, who told me the man and his family were all dying. I went with part of the boat’s crew armed to the house, where I indeed saw him, and twenty women and children lying flat on the floor of their house, in seeming great agony; the perspiration running from every pore of their skin. Near was placed the old chief of the district mourning over them. When I entered they all rose and made a most lamentable cry, promising the Callow of the ship all their wood and everything they had. I was now sorry I had worked so much on the minds of these simple creatures^. I told them I would go on board to intercede with the Callow in their behalf; but before I returned, they said, everyone would be dead. After a good deal of persuasion, I was prevailed upon to take off the taboo, and receive a lot of wood as a present to the ship’s Callow. It was soon carried down to the boat with more yams, and plantains, &c., than it could contain. I then drew my hand over the faces of those who had been sick, on which they stood on their feet; but having perspired so much it was with difficulty they did so. Afterward, I made them a present of a quantity of iron and beads of far more value to them than a whale’s tooth, if they could have understood their own interests.  I left them dancing and singing, apparently well pleased on having freed themselves from the displeasure of the figurehead of General Wellesley so easily. When I was about seven miles down the river I heard a noise in the wood and saw the natives running after me. I had forgotten when I took off the taboo to push down the pile of stones that had been put before the pond of water, and they were following me to desire I would go back and remove it. Although the night was coming on, I was partly obliged to return to the place and remove this alarming spell.

May 1 8th. A canoe came alongside the ship, belonging to Highley Bay. It brought a present for Captain Scot, which it may be supposed could not be accepted. It was the entire body of a man who had been cooked upon hot stones in the ground. The bearers of it said it was one of their enemies, and added they thought they could not have brought us a more acceptable present; particularly as it was cooked in the manner they are always done when they make presents to their principal chiefs. We told them to throw it overboard; this they would not do; and left us saying we were afraid to eat our enemies.

While the ship lay at Nandorey bay we took possession of a small island in Lagota Bay, on which we left twenty men to procure wood. On the 30th. this party was attacked by ten canoes full of men, from one of the adjacent islands. They landed several times; but our men being well provided with muskets as well as two twelve-pounders, they always met a warm reception; and at length were forced to retreat, numbers of them being either killed or wounded.

About this time a schooner arrived from Port Jackson^. She had touched at one of the Hapei Islands, where she took off one of the four men that were left of the crew of the ship Port au Prince of London. This vessel was formerly a Liverpool Guineaman, commanded by Captain Corron. From the man brought by the schooner, I received an account of the loss of that ship, and the shocking massacre of her Captain and crew. I assisted him on his return to England; and have since been happy to learn, he was the means of recovering some of the property that had been insured for the widow of the unfortunate Captain. The master of the schooner had a number of gold bars, which he had purchased from the natives for pieces of iron. They had belonged to the Port au Prince^. She had been on the N.W. coast of America as a privateer.

After I had lost the Wellesley’s launch the cutter was fitted out to pull twelve oars, with a ridge pole fore and aft in which six musketoons were placed; each man was armed with a musket, cutlass, and pistol. On the 22nd. of May, I went to a village called Sawasau, having been told a meeting of the greatest part of the principal chiefs of the island would be held there. When I landed I found there about four hundred of the natives assembled. Near them was a large collection of yams: perhaps two tons: some of which were given to me, and sent down to the boat. The chiefs then told me they were met to consult upon attacking a small island about twelve leagues to the westward; and they promised me if I would assist them, to load the ship with Sandlewood. This offer I rejected this as our ship had already nearly completed her cargo; I had no desire to be the cause of destroying more of these unfortunate beings. However, before I left them an accident happened which had nearly cost some of us our lives. One of the boat’s crews who was on shore with me was chewing tobacco; an old chief near him seeing this begged a little from the sailor. Although I told him how it would make him sick if he ate any of it, yet he would not be dissuaded; the natural consequence was that it made him vomit excessively, and his countrymen thought he had been poisoned. Under this impression they began to threaten revenge: a number of them seized hold of their clubs. These menaces alarmed some of the sailors, who betook themselves to the boat. The natives were now all crowded around me. I stood with my back against one of the huts, and said, the men had run to the boat to bring something which would soon cure the old chief. This story pacified some, but others increased their threats. The women, fearing some disturbance, ran from the village, and on their way alarmed more of the men who joined the rest of their friends. The seamen got the boat nearer the shore with its broadside opposite to the place where I and the natives were stationed: the distance might be 150 yards. According to my orders, the men fired the musketoons over our heads, which so terrified the natives. that some ran off, while the rest fell down, thinking to escape the shot. Taking advantage of their alarm, I moved, with my face turned towards them, towards the boat, with a pistol pointed at them. By this means, I got safe on board and left them without receiving any damage.

The next day I was told the old man who eat the tobacco was dead. This is another proof of the fatal effects of fear on the natives of the South Pacific Ocean. This man imagined he had been poisoned, and I have no doubt that his idea was the cause of his death. I have been informed by gentlemen residing at Port Jackson that should one of the natives of New Holland dream that another had struck him with a spear, it has so great an effect upon him that he dies. According to their laws, the man whom he dreamed of is put to death.

May 26th. I received information of a large quantity of Sandlewood being up a small creek at the head of Embagaba river. This part of the island the natives of Tatfelepo had fled to, during the time I was engaged in destroying their fort. It required me therefore to be on my guard. I had the cutter well-manned and armed before I proceeded up the creek; which was so narrow in many places that there was no room to turn the boat. The land on each side was about fifty feet high. The natives had consequently great advantages over us. When I arrived at the head of the creek I found about three hundred of them, but none of them were armed. At first, they appeared very friendly. Still, I could not help entertaining some suspicions of distrust, which made me only bring one man with me ashore, and leave the remainder in the boat. I bought the wood and they agreed to carry it to the boat. Afterward, they wanted as much for carrying it there as I had paid for the wood itself. Soon after they began to pass their clubs and lances to each other, and made other maneuvers that boded no peaceable termination to our business. I whispered to the chief, if he would go with me to the boat, and make his men carry down the wood, I would give him a whale’s tooth. Accordingly, he went towards the boat, the natives following us. But when we got within a few yards of it, the chief would go no further.  I then got into the boat to make preparations to defend ourselves. The natives seeing what we were doing retired to a little distance, and saluted us with a volley of stones. The creek was so narrow we could only use the oars as poles.  We fired a musketoon among them, which checked their progress a little, and then worked down the creek as fast as we could. Our situation was now becoming perilous in the extreme. The natives were following us and increasing in numbers, and with the tide falling, there was hardly enough water for the boat. Under these circumstances, I and eight men landed, and succeeded in keeping the natives at a respectable distance, until the boat got out of the creek into the river.  We then went on board and soon were out of the reach of the natives. On our return, we met with a small fishing canoe by which I sent our enemies word that I would pay them a visit in a few days. This message no doubt alarmed them; for two or three days afterward, a number of canoes came alongside the ship with the wood I had bought, besides a number of yams and plantains as a present. In one of the canoes was the chief who had gone down with me to the boat, before we were attacked by his men with stones; he said he was the white man’s friend, and as proof of this, he showed me a human skull and some bones, which appeared to have been taken out of the ground. They belonged, he told me, to one of the white men, whose body had been sent to him nine moons ago by the natives of the island of Taffier, and that he would not eat them, but had buried them in the ground. I had no doubt but that those bones belonged to the unfortunate men who were taken by the people of that island on their passage to Highley Bay on the 17th. of July last; as the two men I afterward recovered, reported that the bodies of two of them had been sent as a present to different islands. I gave this man a whale’s tooth and some other trifles, and we were again friends. He afterward cut us more wood.  When the ship sailed a boat that was not wanted was given to him by Captain Scott.

We now got the ship transported back to Lagota Bay.  A young native, son to the chief of Nandory, whom I had learned to speak a few words of English, and who had been very useful to me, was determined to go with me, as he said, to the white man’s country. But a few days previous to the sailing of the ship, his friends came on board and were very uneasy about him. They at first consented to let him go, which induced me to allow him to go on shore with them much against his will; however, there he remained.

Before I sailed I went to the Bay of Myemboo to see my good old friend Beumbawallow, & I carried him some presents. He was greatly disappointed when I told him that in a short time, I was going to leave him. On leaving the village the last time, a number of old men and women followed me down to the boat, bringing some yams, cocoa nuts, and plantains, indeed more than I could carry. When I left them they could not have shown greater signs of regret at parting with one of their own people.  The old woman whose life I had saved at Tatelepo followed me with tears running down her aged cheeks. She gave me a calabash of oil, and again returned me thanks for preserving her life.

Witnessing this parting scene would have made anyone forget at the moment that these people were cannibals. For myself, I do assure those who may read this, that notwithstanding the strong motives I had to make me wish to be away, I could not help feeling considerable pain on parting with them. From the good old King, I had received kindnesses which I should remember while I live with gratitude.  Left as I was on his island without the least means of subsistence, to the mercy of the lower class of natives, who might have plundered me of the few articles I had left, and even deprived me of life, he not only supplied me with food when there was a great scarcity all over the island, and granted me his protection from the insults of his people, but he taught me by his advice how to acquire their goodwill.  Of this, I shall mention one instance. My razors had been stolen from me, and having discovered the thief, I gave chase to him with a pistol in my hand; not with the intent of hurting him, but merely to frighten, and make him return them. The old King called me and asked me to let him look at the pistol, which I did. However, he would not give it to me again until I promised not to injure the offender. He told me that if I should kill any of them, he himself would not be able to protect me from the fury of his people — at the same time, he said that if any should offend me to let him know and he would punish them. But he never had occasion to chastise one on my account, for I was generally respected even by the lower class. I seldom passed the door of an old woman’s hut without inviting me in to partake of what she had in her basket.

It is but a tribute of justice to the young women to declare that, during the time I was amongst them, I never heard in a single instance that any of my companions had a connexion with any of them, although the men are not inclined to jealousy. A circumstance happened which shows how artful women are in love affairs. A gentleman belonging to General Wellesley took a particular fancy to a young woman living in a village that belonged to the Rung of Myemboo. The application was made to the King for permission to take her on board; which he granted. The gentleman then applied to the girl who did not seem very unwilling; he then gave her some beads, a whale’s tooth, and other articles, and when he thought the business mutually concluded and nothing else to do, except to take her down to the boat, she pointed to a few logs of Sandlewood which belonged to her father and asked her lover if he would not buy them before she went. This request he could not well refuse, though she asked a whale’s tooth for it, which would have purchased ten times the quantity at any other time. She then conducted him to another house and showed him several logs belonging to her brother that she also demanded a whale’s tooth for this he first refused, but at last consented, thinking she would ask no more; however he was much mistaken, for she took him to her sister’s, her uncle’s and her aunt’s houses; and when he objected to buying the wood they had, she reproached him, and if reproaches did not succeed in making him alter his mind, she pretended to be sick and cried; and told him if he would not, she would not that night accompany him. In this manner, he was coaxed out of articles that would have bought fifty tons of wood, without getting five. When she had obtained everything from him that she could get, she went along with him, and when he thought she was going to step into the boat, the jilt ran from him with the swiftness of a hare and disappeared into the woods. The astonished lover thus left and went on board to mourn over his loss and disappointment. I was witness to several other tricks like this, but this one is sufficient to show how much the women in these islands differ in their manners from those of other islands in the South Seas.

One more remark I will make respecting the young men.  They are not allowed to marry until they are about twenty years of age; which perhaps may account for their being such well-made people. At the age of sixteen, young men are circumcised. How, or for what, circumcision was first introduced into these islands I never could learn; but was told it had been practiced as long as the oldest of the natives could remember^.

On leaving Myemboo the last time, the King loaded some canoes with breadfruit, yams, and plantains; a large hog he also presented to Captain Scott. He went in the boat with me to the ship, where he remained for several days. We made him some presents, and the good old man parted from us with much seeming regret; although I told him I should return, and bring with me some of the fine things of Europe, the grandeur of which I had often explained to him; but an ass to ride upon seemed to please him most. For several days we were employed in wooding and watering the ship, and in procuring a quantity of bread-fruit and sandalwood plants, which we planted in boxes filled with earth, and placed in the after-cabin.

On the 2nd of June 1809, we left Feegee island and sailed for China.  Before I left the Feegee islands I had taken a draught survey of the one on which I was left; from this, I produced a chart and sold two (? ten) copies of them in Boston for loo dollars each. Two vessels afterward were sent out to the islands^, one of which was never more heard of; but the other made a very profitable voyage. (A ship was offered to me to go to these islands again, but I could not think of returning there without first) visiting my family, from which I had been so long absent. Accordingly, I took my passage on board the ship Jane, Captn. Thomas, and after a passage of 37 days arrived at Liverpool. Here, happily, I found my wife and child in good health. I had been absent from them for three years and seven months; in which time I had suffered more in mind and body than it is possible for me to express. Eight months of which time I lived in common with the natives of the Feegee islands — exposed to the heat of a tropical sun by day and damp by night.

Such are the outlines of this long and untoward voyage: eight months whereof I lived quite naked in Lat. 16° S. & Long. 178° East of Greenwich. as an inset on Arrowsmith’s chart of the Fiji Islands first published in 1814 (or 1811 ?). This purports to have been taken from a survey made on board the “Elizabeth,*’ between which vessel and the “Jenny” there was, as we know, some intercourse but much hostility.

The Journal Of William Lockerby