[ed] : easter island, 1793-1861
Richards (ed) : Easter Island, 1793-1861. Richards, Rhys
(ed): Easter Island 1793 to 1861 Observations by Early
Visitors Before the Slave Raids Easter Island Foundation, Los Osos (2008)
Introduction The page numbers are from Rhys Richards' excellent work, his comments in standard font with the
titles and original documents in bold.
Additional entries or illustrations are marked (Ad), inserted
between lines, and with an appropriate reference.
My supplementary comments are in [italics],
inside square brackets.
Right: c Man of Master Island. Drawing by Radiguet from
Dupetit-Thouars, 1851. From S. Chauvet, 1934,
2. Two British Fur Traders in l791 and 1793
The comments by Captain Charles Bishop in the Ruby of [???]1795
includes very brief references to a previous visit by Captain
M the Jenny of
Bristol in 1792 or 1793. This account is quite
well known, but included here, much abbreviated, because the
published version is not readily available.
22 February 1795. Have made great progress towards
Easter Island where I mean to put in and try to procure some
fowls, etc. It has a barren appearance; no
wood.... small canoes came off with two men: They approached
much caution, but as they perceived by our presents of hoop
19 that we were friends, jumpt
overboard and were taken on board. Their canoes are of very mean
construction, consisting of a great many small pieces of
wood like rough staves sewed together with a high beak and
stern post to prevent their oversetting for they are
scarcely wide enough to set down in ... with two long spars
as out riggers.... As we passed along observed a
good many natives sitting on the sides of the hills which
are covered with plantations of sweet potatoes, sugar cane,
yams and other roots. Near many of the villages they
have one or two monuments standing on the sea shore facing
them; these seem to be intended to represent human figures;
but done with a very coarse idea, they stand some twenty
feet high; and appear constructed of stone; and are
either as monuments of some of their worthies, or on some
religious idea. At Cook Bay ... at 2am about a
dozen beautiful young women came swimming off naked, not in
the least afraid ... the sight of so much beauty, for it was
a fine moonlit night, did not fail to awaken in the minds of
our weather beaten crew, sentiments kindred to love....(1) Some of them content with the
presents they had received, a knife, a piece of hoop iron,
or a looking glass, jumpt overboard and swam to the shore
with their news. Daylight no sooner appeared than
off they [all ] came -
men, women, boys and girls, the ship was surrounded with
beauties. The men brought off a good many
red yams, and bananas, which was mostly bought with short
pieces of hoop iron, but brought but few sweet potatoes, and
no fowls, though offered the Enor-
Footnote 1. The next
twenty or so words were scored out. Page
21 ... These
young women who came on board, had in general either a
father, husband or brother attending them, who for the sake
of a handkerchief or cloth the sailors would give them,
urged them (even some times apparently against their own
inclinations) to accompany them below ... I have seen a
variety of females but none anywhere so well formed...
Some of them were painted a little with a reddish ochre,
over the forehead.
Both men and women seemed very fond of a little boy I have
under my care about ten years of age.. whom they sought hard
to kidnap, but so benignly and gently that I was sure they
were not as is said cannibals, but they were prevented from
carrying him off.
In confirmation of this latter idea, I observed they had not
a weapon, or a scar or spot or blemish on their skins ... I
fancy their food consists of roots, they have some fowls and
there is fish round the island, for which they have fine
fishing netts made of grass, their fish hooks are of bone
The natives when they swim off... use a bundle of coopers'
rushes to support them...
8th March. The ship sailed].
(Roe 1967 pp.34-42) Page 26
5. The First
Russian Explorers Captain Lisiansky,
Lieutenant Povalishin and Archpriest Gedeon in 1804
Lisiansky, in the Neva, sailed along the
east coast in very rough seas in April, 1804. He sent a small boat
inshore at Hanga Roa bay where Lieutenant Povalishin obtained
a little fruit and vegetables from about thirty islanders who
came out through the heavy surf. (Lisiansky 1814 pp.52-61) The islands seemed to
the Russians harsh but green, fertile but treeless. They saw standing moai
on the south west and north coasts, and noted several forms,
some with white tops. Page
7. W. A. Gale on the Albatross of Boston
in January 1810
It should be noted that in
this decade several Boston fur traders probably passed close
by Easter Island, or called there, while en route round Cape
Horn to the North West Coast and Alaska.
Alexander Adams, at Hawai 'i in 1816, also told Kotzebue that
ten years earlier, in 1806, "he had been himself near Easter
Island, where the natives would not allow him to land, and
that the ship Albatross
under Captain Windship, met the same fate in 1809". (Kotzebue
Adams's visit was not in Kamehameha's vessel Kahumana (The Queen) which the King
did not acquire until April 1816. (Malloy 1998 p. 102)
Adams was mate on the Boston ship Atahualpa trading for furs at Milbanke Sound
in June 1804.
After her captain and eight men were killed, Adams took
command, resting at Hawai'i from August to October 1805,
reaching Canton in November, and Boston early in 1806.
Perhaps Adams was mate again when the Atahualpa set out in
October 1806 on her third voyage to the North West Coast, and
thus "off Easter Island" at the end of 1806. (Malloy 1998
p.74; Howay 1973 p.64)
Captain Jonathan Winship pioneered the poaching of sea otter
skins on the coast of lower California in 1806 in the 280-ton
ship O'Cain of New
York, of which he was a part owner.
He was again captain of the O'Cain
on its third voyage, leaving Boston in May 1809 for further
fur trading on the northwest coast of America.
Owing in part to the disruptions of the War of 1812-1814, the
lasted eight years, including several seasons on that coast
and further north trading with the Russians in Alaska.
She refreshed at the Hawaiian Islands in 1806, and was at
China in 1808, 1812, and 1813. (Malloy 1998 p.137; Richards
1994 pp.53, 55, 61, 64)
Captain Nathan Winship took the 165 -ton, 78-foot-long, ship AIbatross of Boston, with
a crew of 22, out in July 1809, and was at the Hawaiian
Islands from February to April 1810 before trading from the
Columbia River from June 1810, and along the California coast
in 1811. (Howay 1973 p.83; Malloy 1998 p.66) His Page 29
object was not only trade but also to establish an American
trading station at the mouth of the Colombia River.
The Albatross was at
Canton in 1811, February 1812, and April 1813. (Richards 1994)
That it was Nathan Winship, rather than Jonathan, his elder
brother, who was at Easter Island during 1809, can now be
confirmed from the following long account written by William
Alden Gale, on or about January 18, 1810.
The Albatross was
then two hundred days out, with not one case of scurvy, and
made her first stopping place at Easter Island:
The island is situated in Lat. 27.09 S. and Long. 109.116
Owing to the cunning and thievish disposition of the
natives, which is truly astonishing, we did not think it
prudent to land, as it might have given rise to a
The captain went in with a boat and six men to Cook's Bay,
and the ship lay off.
While we were trading with the natives at a short distance
from the shore in the boat, they swam off to us with
potatoes, sugar cane, bananas etc. for which we exchanged
small bits of old iron hoops, fish hooks and nails, the last
of which they seemed to set great story by.
Beads and small looking glasses etc they would not purchase,
although they would steal the most trifling article that
they could lay their hands upon.
Numbers would swim to us, and after disposing of what they
bought, would wait till others came off and then divide what
the newcomers brought among them all for the purpose of each
one procuring an additional fish hook or piece of hoop.
They would bring their potatoes in bunches tightly tied
together, and as soon as they obtained what they wanted for
them, as if by accident, while handling them to us, let them
drop into the water, and immediately diving down, would
bring them up for a second sale, and even went so far as to
purloin the same things that they had just before sold to
us, out of the boat, for the same purpose.
They also made several attempts to steal the rudder of the
boat, and so far succeeded as to break the irons by which it
was hung, when we were obliged to take it on board to
prevent their making off with it.
Those who swam off to the boat, both men and women, had
nothing on except a plat of grass or a small piece of tappa
(cloth) round their waists, though the number who remained
on shore had long pieces of the latter stuff thrown over
their shoulders, which reached nearly to their feet.
The women were well formed and handsome featured. These came
off more for the purpose of attracting our attention, so as
to give the men a better opportunity of exercising their
thievish talents, than they did to trade.
They seemed desirous that
... A few of their words are similar to those of the
Sandwich Islands, though the number is very small.
This we were able to ascertain by having two of the natives
of those islands with us. (W.A. Gale in Solid Men of Boston
by W.D. Phelps, in Busch and Gough 1997 pp.52-57)
I'lle de Paque" ("View of Easter Island") by Ludovik
8. More Russian Explorers : Kotzebue in 1816
exploring ship Rurik,
Captain Kotzebue, was at Hanga Roa just one day, March
28,1816, but the ship carried scientific observers such as
Chamisso and Esehscholtz who wrote perceptive reports, and the
talented artist Choris, Baratt has published further annotated
translations from the Russian originals and again has added
valuable scholarly commentaries.
At first two canoes, each with two men came off to meet the
visitor hesitantly "with fear and distrust".
Many islanders swam out to the ship with bananas, yams, and
sugar cane, which they traded shyly for pieces of iron,
particularly knives which were soon exchanged for nets, sweet
potatoes, yams and fruit, and later bait nets made from paper
9. Voyage of the
Surry from NSW
to Chile and Return in 1821
Richard Dobson, a passenger on this trans-Pacific trader, Surry, wrote:
24 March 1821 -
At daylight saw Easter Island ... running along east side.
The appearance very beautiful.
As we approached N, W, Point, which we rounded at a mile
distance, saw a number of natives running, hollowing and saw
some swimming off to the ship which was going at least 5
Hove to ship with her head offshore, but before this was
done, they were alongside and had caught hold of the ropes
that had been thrown to them, held on surprisingly.
We hauled six of them up, and then led the ropes in board,
or we should soon have had too many.
As soon as they were on board they begun to caper and dance
about, with every appearance of being very much pleased.
They got up the rigging and halloowed and called to their
They were answered with loud cheers on shore by thousands.
Nor did they evidence any fear, but run about like madman,
dancing, singing and making all manner ol noise, hardly
being engrossed for the moment upon the same thing.
We offend them spirits etc but they had no sooner tasted it
but threw it out with every appearance of disgust
The looking glass particularly excited their curiosity.
They all of them brought a bag with them, either in their
hands or tied around their loins, made of the plantain leaf
containing some beautiful sweet potatoes.
By their actions they were very anxious for wearing apparel.
From what could be seen of the natives ashore, they did not
seem to have any offensive weapons whatever.
The shore was lined with them, cheering, hallooing and
waving to us.
Before they left the ship they measured her from stem to
stern and from side to side, measuring in fathoms and one of
them would count in a high voice, stamping and waving his
arms up and down.
And they also counted the number of [our] people on deck.
When they were going to leave, they took there cloathes and
presents, every man his own, in a bundle and tied it round
their loins, and then shook hands with all of us, they
having, as we supposed, taken notice of our doing so, as a
mark of friendship, and so returned the complement and
overboard they jumped.
They were excellent swimmers.
Around one of them the captain fastened a bottle with a
paper inside expressing the name of the ship and her voyage,
the lat. and long, of the island etc.
12. A British
Grove, in 1823
British seaman, Thomas W. Smith, was on his eleventh voyage
when he shipped from London in October 1821 on the whaleship Spring Grove on a voyage
round Cape Horn to Chile, Peru, and the Galapagos Islands.
Later, in mid-1823:
We touched at Easter Island to obtain some refreshment for
Two boats were sent in to trade with the natives while the
ship lay off and on.
The bartering articles consisted of bent needles and pins,
buttons, beads and other trinkets, for which we received in
return potatoes and sugar cane.
The pins and needles were used by them to catch fish, being
superior to native fish hooks which are made of hard wood or
Easter Island is about sixty miles in circumference and
densely populated; the general appearance of the soil along
the sea coast is of a dark red, and the soil appears to be
They raise sugar cane, yams and potatoes in abundance.
These productions of the islands, together with all kinds of
shellfish, which they procure plentifully, constitute their
The natives are of a light colour; tall and handsome.
Their chiefs are handsomely tattooed on their faces, necks,
lips, tongues and arms.
But they are in a most savage state, in consequence of which
we did not venture to land, but were under the necessity of
laying off in our boats at a distance from the shore while
the natives swam to us with their goods.
In this manner we obtained a sufficient quantity of potatoes
and sugar cane to refresh the crew and thus prevent the
scurvy which frequently visits whaleships while performing
their long and perilous voyages. (Smith 1844 p.168)
The Spring Grove returned to
Peru and the Galapagos before returning home yia Valparaiso in
October 1823 and on to London in March 1824. (Jones 1986 p.73)
American Whaleship, Paragon,
of Nantucket, in Late 1823
the Paragon of Nantucket, Captain Henry Bunker, also touched
at Easter Island for supplies.
Bunker reported that they "obtained sweet potatoes, yams,
bananas, plantains, sugar cane etc. all of which were brought
off by the natives of both sexes who swam to the boat lying at
the back of the surf, and even for their produce they took
nothing but whale scraps which they devoured with great
eagerness". (Stackpole 1953 p.283, citing Nantucket Inquirer -
July 27, 1835)
The Paragon was
reported at Honolulu in April 1823 (Richards 2000 p.42), and
probably visited Easter Island later that year.
Lieutenant on HMS Blossom in November 1825
While the account of the visit to Easter Island in 1825 by
Captain Beechey in HMS Blossom is well known and readily
accessible, there is also a useful account by Lieutenant
George Peard. (Gough 1973 pp.70-74)
A boat party that Peard commanded had a narrow escape at the
hands of about a thousand Easter Islanders, apparently because
they had expected to receive more presents than his naval men
had to offer.
This second account, written by Peard, merits inclusion here
in the following summary form:
16lh November. Saw Easter Island. Lay near Cook's Bay....
The huts of the natives
are like inverted canoes, and some appeared to be at least
one hundred yards in length.
The land looks dried up and barren, except here and there,
where we observed clumps of banana trees and marks of
cultivation... The gig and cutter went in ... the natives
collecting in great numbers, some hundreds of them threw
themselves off the rocks and swim towards the boats.... The
females commenced a loud and rather discordant song I
suppose by way of welcome.... They came fearlessly alongside
and held up bananas, yams, sugar cane, celery" and small
baskets of potatoes, but were not disposed to barter them
for nails or arrow heads, ... wanting fish hooks.
Our clothes seemed to be valued by them more than anything
else.... On shore I made a present to one who had short
brown feathers round his head, and appeared to be a chief...
In a few more minutes they stole several caps and hats....
Our suspicions being awakened by the ap¬pearance of several
wooden clubs, we retreated and immediately were assailed by
a volley of stones, some of them two pounds in weight,
showered upon us and wounded so many of our men that our
safety required a constant [gun] fire, but I am happy to
express my belief that none of the natives were hurt, except
the Chief, who I fear was shot....
The natives generally are good looking.
Some of them had a ragged sort of cloak of a cotton-like
substance over the shoul¬ders, but by far the greater
number, both male and females, were entirely naked excepting
a narrow strip of cloth or twisted celery leaves in lieu of
a fig leaf.
Many of the males had a few hairs on the chin, and were
tattooed and besmeared with yellow ochre and black paint
over the face and lips and other parts of the body.
The females especially the younger ones had good figures and
were far from ill-looking and all of them without exception
tattooed in front from the hips down to the knees of a dark
They are as much at home in the water as the men.
I did not observe any canoes ... but whilst our boats were
away, those left on board saw three or four canoes hauled up
on shore at some distance to the left of the landing
Peard is not the first to identify a plant on Easter Island
by the name "celery" even ough it is doubtful that celery
(Apium graveolensi) is the plant being identified.
Cook, during his third voyage between 1776 and 1779; Forster
in 1786; and Thomson in 1891 all described "celery" on the
island. However, according to Ziska (1991 p.31), celery is a
native the temperate regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia and
the use of the term here is either outright error or
possibly the result of misidentification of a species of
14. Captain Du
Petit-Thouars in the Venus
Government dispatched several expeditions during the 1820s and
g30s to promote French commerce and French whaling by finding
and surveying harbors and anchorages where whalers
particularly might shelter and find refreshments.
This was the primary objective of the voyage of the frigate La Venus under Captain Du
Since no copy was found in English of his observations and
comments at Easter Island, the following unpublished
translation has been made by Sara-Jean Richards and Ann
At midday on the 25th February 1838 we caught sight of
Easter Island.... On the morning of 26 February, we were 2
After having rounded this headland travelling westward, we
passed what is known as Spanish Bay; from the summit of the
eastern point, the land drops in a gentle slope towards the
west, in such a way that the bottom of Spanish Bay connects
with a valley, in which we noticed cabins and some areas of
land which appeared to be well cultivated.
While skirting the coasts we saw a large number of natives
on the summits of the headlands who, from their gestures and
shouts, which we could hear, seemed to be inviting us to
Others came and went on the beach; some were covered in a
white fabric which they wore loose; the majority of the
natives were completely naked.
This bay (VI) which barely merits this name due to its lack
of depth, ends in the west with a high rounded point which
appears to have been a volcano; the rocks at the edge of the
water have the same black and burnt appearance that we have
Anakena or possibly Ovahe.
For a moment the canoes could no longer keep up with the
frigate, which had caught the wind, and they fell behind at
When one of the women saw this, she began to sob loudly and
made pitiful lamentations, as do children; she was quickly
joined by several of the other savages, but all were quickly
re¬assured as the frigate again stopped. (IX)
Once our observations were complete they left; all, men and
women, threw themselves into the water and swam to their
canoes. The men were very able swimmers, the women were
equally very accustomed to this exercise but they swam
differently to the men; they did not move their arms and
legs at the same time as did the men, but moved them
This was common to all the women.
Footnote IX. This fear that the Islanders had
when they thought they had been kidnapped was not
without cause as several whaling ships, when
short-handed, had captured men and women at various
islands, and few of them were ever returned home.
After this first visit,
we were travelling to the west at great speed when
we heard cries coming from the open sea; soon we saw
two men swimming towards us and giving the cries we
could hear from a great distance; each of them
appeared to be upon a piece of broken canoe of which
only the front could be seen.
I sent out a boat to taker them up; I feared that,
given the great distance they were from land, that
they would become victims of the curiosity which we
had created because I believed that their canoe had
But we were greatly
surprised to find that these natives were sitting
upon a coil of rushes each, in the shape of a sheaf
of wheat.They brought us, in order to be assured of
a good welcome, bananas, sweet potatoes and yams,
carried in the reeds.
We had a great deal of difficulty in getting rid of
our new visitors; they laughed at our threats and did not
want to leave us, however when I gave orders to throw
their bundles of reeds into the sea, they threw themselves
overboard after them and returned to their island.
While skirting the western coast of Easter Island we melt
much smaller number of canoes than on the northern coast.
This is no doubt because they fear travelling away from
the island to the west where the currents always flow.
On this coast only 2 canoes would come alongside, two or
three others would be in sight but they stayed windward of
the frigate. In total, from one side of the island to the
other, we would have seen at most a dozen.
All the canoes on Easter Island are very small and could
only contain two or three people.
They are made with very straight and short pieces of
These boards are sewn together, to make the hull, and
caulked with a type of moss.
These canoes have a single balancer (outrigger) like those
of the Sandwich Island but theirs are inferior and also
are less pretty and less graceful, yet they must require
much more labour to build.
26. Whaling in the
South East Pacific: (c)
Twenty-Four Known Visits in 1841-1851.
... The Margaret Rait of St John, New Brunswick,
Canada, made her third in the Pacific from 1840 to 1844
under Captain James Coffin.
Most of her cruise was around the Galapagos Islands, but the
traded at Easter Island on December 26, 1843:
N.E. part of Easter Island ... sent two boats in to barter
with the natives for potatoes.
They returned at noon with about four barrels.
This island is entirely destitute of wood; the tops of its
hills appear not to possess soil... but its valleys appear
fertile ... and teeming with inhabitants....
The produce of the islands consists of sweet potatoes,
yams, bananas and sugar cane.
In exchange for these they take the [crispy, deep fried]
scraps which remain from whale blubber when it is dried
out, small pieces of wood, and fish bones [perhaps
The manner of exchanging articles with them is as folows:
Take your articles of Trade — scraps etc — in your boat
and pull to within a cable length of the shore, which is
prety rough, and upon which the surf breaks heavily.
The natives with a basket containing about half a peck of
potatoes [tied] fast to their backs or round the waist,
plunge into the breakers, swim off to the boats, pass
their baskets in.
We rifle their contents, put in a scrap, hand the basket
to its owner, and away he goes to shore.
Appendix A Hugh Cuming's
Account of an Anchorage Rapanui (Easter Island),
November 27-28, 1827.
By Steven Roger Fischer
Among the manuscripts in the
Mitchell Library, Sydney, is the unpublished "Journal of a
Voyage from Valparaiso to the Society and the Adjacent
Islands performed in the Schooner Discoverer, Samuel Grimwood Master, is the
years 1827 and 1828, by Hugh Cuming". (A 1336. CY Reel 194,
Between its humble covers lies a veritable treasure-trove of
early 19m centary information on an impressive list of
Pages 7-12 (frames 14-9) of this journal include a detailed
account of an anchorage at Hangaroa (Cook Bay), Rapanui,
affected November 27-28, 1827.
Because such early reports about Rapanui are rare, and, in
particular, as this one is exceedingly wealthy in
significant observations, it is reproduced here verbatim.
On standing into the Bay on the West side of the lsland
which appears to be the most highly cultivated, we saw the
Natives collected in great numbers on the Rocks and on
nearing the shore they took to the Water and
Footnote XIII. First
published in the Journal of the Polynesian Society, 1991,
Volume 100?, page 3??-316.
swam onboard each person having a small Net or Basket or
a Bunch of planiians on his Back for Sale or barter.
When the Sea becomes rough
which occurd in the afternoon some of them made use of
small Balsas or Bundle of Flags about 2 Feet long, Six
Inches thick at one End and tapering to a point at
the other, this the[y] place betwixt their legs to
assist them in Swimming at which the[y] are very
expert as I ever witness'd, having come onboard the[y]
appeard perfetly at home showing the utmost good
Nature and freely gave what the[y] had brought for any
small trifle that was offerd them they where [were]
particularly partial to Wood and Fish hooks for one
only the[y] gave a Net or Basket full of Fruit or
Money they appear to not have an Idea of when offerd
to them they tried to bite it, from every appearance
what I saw they neither have any Quadrupeds or Tame
Fowls neither could I find they had any defensive
Weapons, they brought onboard a few small poles about
6 feet long, headed with a stone but from the softness
of the Wood and the insecure manner the sharp stone
was secured it could be of small service as a
I rather should suppose them to be used for Fishing
They had also some about 18 Inches long which I
suppose where [were] used as Knives from the
brittleness of the stone I am of an opinion they would
not be able to cut any hard substa [substance] with
them, they also had a number
of small Figures carv'd of Wood in the shape of men
and Fishes, but whether they where [were] Household
Gods or Toys for their amusement I could not
after some little party with them I got some of the
Idols from the owners, they would not part with them
except for some Species of Cloth as Hankerchiefs or
Shirts of which the[y] appeard very fond of.
previous to the delivery of the Idol the[y] set up a
great Shout lifting up the figure above their Heads
several times all joining in Chorus and when upon
delivery they would prop it against their brest
Although their Chorus was very boisterous it was not
unmusical, it gave me great pleasure to see their
extreme good Nature shown on every occasion, they
appeared perfectly at home as if we had been
acquainted for Years.
Appendix B Ship's Surgeon R. Guthrie's Account of a Calling at Rapanui aboard H.M.S. Seringapatamon 6 March 1830
By Steven Roger Fischer (1)
Rapanui had been visited by several exploratory and
merchantmen and by an unknown number of whalers.(1)
Of these doubtless scores of visits, only a few accounts have
The calling at Rapanui on 6 March 1830 of the British
forty-six-gun man-of-war H.M.S. Seringapatam under the command of Captain
William Waldegrave is exceptional, for two reasons.
First, the Seringapatam certainly
was the largest vessel that had yet fetched up off Rapanui, an
event which would have left an indelible impression on the
Second, there exist three eyewitness accounts of this calling.
I have published elsewhere those of Captain Waldegrave
(1788-1859) and Midshipman John Orlebar (1810-1891).(2)
However, at the time of publication I was unaware that there
lay deposited at the Royal Maritime Museum at Greenwich, an
autograph journal of Ship's Sugeon R. Guthrie.(3)
Guthrie served aboard the Seringapatamfor
many years as surgeon under Captain
On 6 March he also shared the Seringapatam's first Polynesian
- Rapanui - and penned
the very same day a
detailed acount of what he experienced there.
His observations comprise a rare addition to the two other
accounts of this historic visit.
Guthrie's account has never been published.(4)
My special thanks go to Robert Langdon for having informed me
in August 1993 at the Rapa Nui Rendezvous at Laramie, Wyoming, on the existance
Further, I owe a particular debt of gratitude to the staff of
the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich for their kind
attention during my research visit there in January 1994 and for their permission to
publish the following extract, I have maintained
Guthrie's original orthography, but have edited the punctuation in some cases to facilitate reading.
[Entry for Friday
5 March 1830]
87" W, Distance 179', Latitude 27° 17' S, Longitude 107° 11'
W, Winds ENE, Thermometer 76°, 78
1/2°, 78°: The same pleasant weather
Footnote 1. First published in the Rapa Nui Journal, 1994
(Vol. 8., pp.63-66, 106)
Page 111 ... Saturday 6th [March 1830].
Anchored at Easter Island.
Winds ESE, East, ENE, Thermometer 78,79,78. Hove the Ship too at 2 AM and at
Daylight saw the East point of Easter or Davis' Island
bearing West; (6) bore up and made sail to within about five
miles of it, when we stood along the South side.(7) The coast is bold and may be
approached near; the island itself is a pleasant variety of
Hill and plain — with numerous Volcanic mounts, the sides of
which and other parts of the plain are cultivated from
appearance, and agreeable to Captain Cook's report, with
Sugar Cane, Potatoes (sweet), Banana trees etc. As we Sailed along the East Coast
we observed the Statues, (8) Square buildings (10) and
collections of Stones (the upper One white of the latter) as
mentioned by Cook. These latter extend along the
whole coast and at a distance have somewhat the appearance
of persons sitting with white Caps on their heads. The island is perfectly free from
wood, if we except a few stunted Shrubs and the Banana tree. And the high ground is
covered with a green Sward which the natives cut for turf,
having little else for fuel. After rounding the South point
(11) we saw two Canoes with two people in each, quite naked
— and afterwards three more, similarly manned, fishing; but
observing us, they pulled in for the shore. Standing into the Bay which
Captain Cook points out as the only Anchorage, we observed
groups of people congregating on the beach. ... The Anchor was scarcely
down when we Observed the natives Swimming off and by noon
we had upwards of 150 men and women on board, and as many
along side Swimming and on the Side of the ship which we
would not admit on board.(18)
Houses appear externally like large graves covered with
straw and having a hole
in the side.(39)
Cook described them as being a frame of small
branches of wicker work covered with a sort of reed or straw
+ the floor
covered with grass. They eat both Potatoes and Banana's
withoutcooking. (40) To
relieve the women in swimming they lie on a long bundle of
straw which the
men push forward.
This was used only coming off, as most had to make the best
of their way back without assistance.(41) Footnote 41
Metraux (1940) Ethnology Easter Island, Bishop Museum
Page 115 ...
All were much surprised at the size of the Ship, (45) and a
number of them followed each other in first counting the
planks of tile upper deck, then measuring the breadth and
length of her by lying Down and extending the arms; this
they did with great quickness. They next counted the crew;
first the Officers, then the men who were on deck; the
number excited great surprise. Five Canoes, about ten feet Long
and built of small narrow planks, were all that we saw, they
were necessarily very leaky. They have an outrigger
consisting of three pieces of wood, about 2 inches diameter
and 7 feet long; two proceed from each extremity of the
Canoe on the Same side and the third is made fast to the
outer end of these. The paddles are About 4 feet
long, the handle occupying 3 feet, the 4th is the loom, made
in the Shape of a Long Cross thus. Solid.
Early visitors to Easter Island 1864-1877.
The reports of Eugène Eyraud, Hippolyte Roussel,
Pierre Loti, and Alphonse Pinart. Translated by Ann
Introduction by Georgia Lee. Bearsville Press, Los Osos,
Richards, Rhys (ed): Easter Island 1793 to
1861 Observations by Early
Visitors Before the Slave Raids Easter Island
Foundation, Los Osos, California, 2008.