Vancouver's contribution to the history of Tahiti concerns the changes that had taken place in native life since he had been there on Cook's last voyage in 1777.
"So important are the various European implements, and other commodities, now become to the happiness and comfort of these islanders," he writes, "that I cannot avoid reflecting with Captain Cook on the very deplorable condition to which these good people on a certainty must be reduced, should their communication with Europeans be ever at an end.
The knowledge they have now acquired of the superiority and the supply with which they have been furnished of more useful implements, have rendered these, and other European commodities, not only essentially necessary to their common comforts, but have made them regardless of their former tools and manufactures, which are now growing fast out of use, and, I ...
...may add, equally out of remembrance.
Of this we had convincing proof".
left Tahiti and set a course to the northward on January 14, 1791.
By this time, according to plans made in England, Vancouver should have been leaving the Hawaiian Islands for the American coast.
A month had been spent examining the southwestern Australian coast, but the delay was due more to adverse winds and the indifferent sailing qualities of the vessels than to procrastination on the commander's part.
Vancouver sighted Hawaii on March 1, and the ships bore to the westward of South Point for Kealakekua Bay.
The first Hawaiian
on board Discovery was the peripatetic Kaiana whom Meares had brought
back from China in 1788.
Kaiana, now a prominent chief on Hawaii, inquired after Meares and mentioned Captain Colnett's visit (that ended in massacre).
Kaiana knew of every ship that had visited the islands, including several American brigs, but much to Vancouver's despair his own expected storeship (the Chatham) was not among them.
Kaiana was not
the only traveling Hawaiian.
As the Discovery coasted the island in a light breeze she passed a canoe and was hailed in English by a young man named Tarehooa (perhaps better known as Jack), who had sailed with Captain Ingraham in 1791 with a cargo of furs to China and thence to Boston in New England.
Jack had returned to the islands in a brig some months before, and Vancouver promptly engaged him as an interpreter to sail to the Northwest Coast.
The primary source for this chapter is the magnificent three-volume work A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and Round the World; in which the coast of North-West America has been carefully examined and accurately surveyed. Undertaken by His Majesty's Command, Principally with a view to ascertain the existence of any navigable communication between the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans; and performed in the Years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795, in the Discovery Sloop of War, and Armed Tender Chatham, under the command of Captain George Vancouver (London, 1798).
Also helpful have been Vancouver A Life, 1757-1798 by George Goodwin (London, 1930), and Surveyor of the Sea: The Life and Voyages of Captain George Vancouver, by Bern Anderson (Seattle, 1960).
In early 1797...
For some unknown reason -perhaps in the interests of economy- the Providence had been sent out on her lonely mission without a consort.
Ever since Cook's Endeavour was nearly lost on the Australian coast, it had been customary to send two ships on government exploring expeditions.
Doubtless the dreadful weather encountered around the Kuriles and off Japan persuaded Broughton that he should find another vessel to accompany him on his return to those stormy seas. He found a suitable little schooner of eighty-seven tons in nearby Lark's Bay and purchased her for
It was lucky that he did.
Already this remarkable vessel had a history of long voyaging.
We have met her before.
She was the schooner Resolution, built by James Morrison in Tahiti for the Bounty mutineers.
She was taken by Captain Edwards of the Pandora when he rounded up the mutineers left on Tahiti; he commissioned her as his tender under Mr. Oliver, his master's mate, and we have already followed her voyage across the Pacific to the East Indies (after the Pandora was wrecked), where she was sold.
subsequently wrecked on May 17 1797 and once more the Resolution
was required to provde the means of rescue.
At Whampoa (China), Broughton made arrangements to repatriate the extraneous crew to England (however those on the Swift were to perish) and then continued his surveying duties in the Sea of Japan for five months before returning to England aboard the Resolution in February 1799.
The three principal books relied on for this chapter are William Robert Broughton's A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean. ..Performed in His Majesty's Sloop Providence, and her Tender, in the Years 1795, 1796, 1797, 1798 (London, 1804); James Wilson's A Missionary Voyage to the Southern Pacific Ocean, performed in the Years 1796, 1797, 1798, in the Ship Duff (London, 1799); and John Turnbull's A Voyage Round the World in the Years 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804 (London, 1813, second edition).
Margaret raised the Cape of Good Hope November 7.
One month later she passed south of Australia and through Bass Strait -a course which had become standard procedure for vessels making the eastern passage to China.
She arrived at Port Jackson in January (1802).
in Australia and on Norfolk Island, where he had gone on a whaler, for
over a year, while Buyers took the Margaret to the Northwest Coast.
Buyers's northwest speculation was a failure; he returned to Australia and then went to Bass Strait for sealskins.
Because supplies were scarce in Port Jackson, Buyers picked up Turnbull at Norfolk and they left there on August 9, I 802, bound for Tahiti.
At Matavai Bay, on September 24, they found H.M.S. Porpoise collecting hogs for Port Jackson. According to Turnbull's account, the Margaret was visited by the missionaries left by the Duff and by a Captain House, whose brig, the Norfolk, was wrecked here, as well as by "a Mr. Lewin, a landscape painter sent hither from Botany Bay, for the purpose of taking view, and making drawings of objects in this island."
There were also
the usual visits by Tahitian royalty and girls.
The royal family at this time had a drinking problem.
As Turnbull writes, "all the members of this family were indeed extremely eager to obtain spirits; and, with the exception of Pomarre, all equally outrageous and brutal when intoxicated."
Indeed, things were changing in Tahiti.
About thirty Europeans were living there, and the missionaries, in the midst of a destructive native war that had been going on for some time, had converted their dwelling into a sort of fortress by mounting the guns of the wrecked Norfolk on the second story.
Buyers spent a
month at Tahiti collecting hogs, then took on six Tahitians who wanted
to go to the Hawaiian Islands, and cruised out through the Leeward Islands
of the Society group.
At Huahine he found a former crew member who had deserted on the ship's first passage to the Northwest Coast in 1801.
At Raiatea Margaret's cables were cut by natives who hoped that the ship would strike so that she could be plundered.
Everywhere the Tahitians urged the sailors to desert.
The six Tahitians on board, who had been terrified by the sailors' crossing-the-line ceremonies, were calm enough by the time the Mar-...
... gret reached Oahu on December 17, 1802.
At Kauai on December 26, Turnbull observed of their compatriots that "the voyage of van- couvre [sic] has made a most eminent and permant [sic] change in the situation of these islanders."
Bay, Young, Kamehameha's advisor for fourteen years, came on board.
The king's accomplishments since Vancouver's day had been considerable.
The great surveyor had laid the keel of His Majesty's first vessel, and now the king owned twenty vessels ranging in size from twenty-five to seventy tons.
As Turnbull describes it, "his palace is built after the European style, of brick, and glazed windows, and defended by a battery of ten guns.
He has European and American artificers about him of almost every description.
Indeed his own subjects, from their intercourse with Europeans, have acquired a great knowledge of several of the mechanical arts, and have thus enabled him to increase his navy, a very favourite object with him.
I have no doubt that in a very few years he will erect amongst these islands a power very far from despicable."
Many Hawaiians had become inveterate travelers since Kaiana's visit to China.
They made frequent voyages to the Northwest Coast and visited New England and the Orient. A number had settled in Tahiti.
On January 21,
1803, the Margaret left Hawaii for a third visit to Tahiti.
Because of contrary winds she passed well to the leeward of the Society Islands, sighted Mangaia, and then worked her way east and north until she was off Makemo and T aenga in the middle of the Tuamotus.
She then sailed to Mehetia (or Osnaburg) Island, about a degree east of Tahiti, and anchored again in Matavai Bay a few days later.
Knowing that Margaret had arrived from the Sandwich Islands, the Tahitians swarmed her in search of Hawaiian tapa, which they preferred to their own.
John Turnbull's A Voyage Round the World in the Years 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804 (London, 1813, second edition).
Krusenstern also planned to make Easter but was prevented by adverse winds and had to bear away for Nuku Hiva -a circumstance that greatly disappointed the expedition's scientists.
He sighted Nuku Hiva on May 5.
Coming into Port Anna Maria Harbor (Taiohae), the ship was approached by a canoe flying a white flag.
The captain's surmise that this indicated a European on board proved correct: Edward Roberts, an Englishman who had lived nine years in the Marquesas and married a chief's daughter, came to offer his services as an interpreter.
His services were invaluable, as events turned out.
No sooner was the ship anchored than she was surrounded by Marquesans trading coconuts, bananas, and breadfruit for axes, hatchets, and hoop iron.
While the shy, elaborately tatooed chief came on board to receive gifts, about a hundred girls swam around the vessel.
(They were eventually allowed to board the ship and spend the night with the sailors.)
A second European also turned up.
He was a Frenchman, called Jean Baptiste Cabri in Langsdorff's account (Krusenstern calls him Joseph Cabritt), who, it soon became obvious, was the interpreter Roberts's mortal enemy.
They had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get each other killed for some time.
in Neva raised the first of the Marquesas, Fatu Hiva, on May 7,
and made numerous observations of several islands before rejoining his
commander in Anna Maria Bay at Nuku Hiva on May 11.
After the Neva's arrival Krusenstern, Lisiansky, and the scientists made an excursion ashore to visit the house of the chief and to call on Roberts and his family.
of ethnological information were collected at Nuku Hiva and published by
Krusenstern, Lisiansky, and Langsdorff in their handsome books.
The unusual richness of the information was due to the two Europeans, Roberts and Cabri, who acted as interpreters and informants.
Langsdorff remarks that the reason there are occasional differences in information between his book and Krusenstern's is that he collected most of his data from Cabri, whereas Krusenstern ...
... relied principally upon Roberts.
He further says that he relied more on Cabri for his knowledge of native life, but trusted Roberts more for doing business.
Lisiansky, like his commander, received most of his information from Roberts.
Each of the three writers dwells upon most aspects of Marquesan life, although they vary in detail and emphasis.
Nuku Hiva had been discovered by Ingraham only thirteen years before, in 1791, but in those few years trade for iron with European vessels had nearly eliminated the use of stone tools.
"Their tools are extremely simple," Krusenstern writes, "and consist of a pointed stone to bore holes with, and an axe made of a flat black stone.
This latter they never use but in the total absence of all European tools; for the smallest piece of iron that they received from us, they instantly fastened to a handle, after sharpening the edge of it."
On May 17, 1 804, Krusenstern, his water and provisions replenished, attempted to leave Nuku Hiva but was blown back into the harbor.
The next day the two ships left so precipitously that Cabri was unable to get ashore and was carried from his adopted home and family. *
This extraordinary individual had a colorful later career.
As a tattooed man par excellence, Cabri appeared on the stage in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where he also performed Marquesan dances.
Because he had become an expert swimmer in the islands, he was appointed swimming instructor to the marine corps cadets in Kronshtadt, where he settled down.
With the passage of time his tales lost nothing in the telling and he came to be regarded as a second Baron Munchausen.
Most of the information for this chapter is contained in the following books on the voyage.
I have used the English editions.
Voyage Round the World, in the Years 1803, 1804, 180), & 1806 ..., by Captain A. J. von Krusenstern, 2 vol. (London, 1813); A Voyage Round the World in the Years 1803,4,), & 6 ... , by Urey Lisiansky (London, 1814); and Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World, during the Years 1803, 1804, 180), 1806 and 1807, by G. H. von Langsdorff (London, 1813).
Also Atlas de l'ocean Pacifique dresse par m. de Krusensterll. Publie par ordre de Sa Majeste imperiale (St. Petersburg, 1827).
The Memoirs of the Celebrated Admiral Adam John de Krusenstern The First Russian Circumnavigator, translated from the German by his daughter Madam Charlotte Bernhardi and Edited by Rear-Admiral Sir John Ross, CE. (London, 1856), contains numerous details of Krusenstern's life.
Moving north, the Antarctic arrived at the Bay of Islands on January 20, 1830, and left five days later. Captain Morrell had failed to get a cargo of furs; he now decided to go to Manila and attempt to obtain a freight for Europe or America.
On this passage Morrell became a self-styled geographical discoverer of the first rank.
In rather rapid succession, he claims for himself the discovery in the Carolines of Losap (actually discovered by Louis Isidor Duperrey), which he named Westervelt's Islands; of what is apparently Nama, which he called Bergh's Group; and of Namonuito (according to Duperrey, known as early as 1824), which he named Livingston's Island.
When Morrell failed to discover a freight in Manila, he decided to go to the Fijis for beche-de-mer.
This put him on another island-discovering spree, and he reported Skiddy's Shoal on May 8, and then Skiddy's Group (actually Namoluk, discovered by Fedor P. Ltitke in 1828), both named by him for Captain William Skiddy of New York.
Also in the Carolines,
he landed on Mortlock.
For once he did not ...
... claim discovery.
Rather, he spoke kindly of the natives, who "were all unarmed, and appeared to be very friendly. They are straight, active, muscular, and well-made, with an average height of about five feet nine inches.
Most of them wear a tapper round their loins, which reaches about half-way to the knees, and is made from the bark of tree.
The married women wear the same modest covering, highly ornamented in front with feathers and shells; but the unmarried women expose all their charms, being, 'When unadorned, adorned the most.' They sport in the surf, as if the water was their natural element."
Six books constitute the major sources of information for this chapter.
The first is "An Account of a recent discovery of seven Islands in the South Pacific Ocean, by Joseph Ingraham, Citizen of Boston, and Commander of the brigantine Hope, of seventy tons burthen: of, and from this Port, bound to the N. W. Coast of America," contributed by Jeremy Belknap, in Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society, For the Year 1793, Vol. II (Boston, 1810), pp. 20-24. Amasa Delano's Narrative of Voyages and Travels, in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: Comprising Three Voyages Round the World; together with a Voyage of Survey and Discovery in the Pacific Ocean and Oriental Islands (Boston, 1817) is a classic.
So, too, is Edmund Fanning's Voyages Round the World; with Selected Sketches of Voyages to the South Seas, North and South Pacific Oceans, China, etc. ...between the Years 1792 and 1832 (New York, 1833).
Fanning followed up this best seller with a second book, Voyages to the South Seas, Indian and Pacific Oceans, China Sea, North-west Coast, Feejee Islands, South Shetlands, etc., etc. , ...Between the Years 1830-1837 (New York, 1838), in which he makes a strong plea for an American Exploring Expedition to go to the South Seas.
In 1924 the Marine Research Society published a badly bowdlerized edition of Fanning's first book, entitled Voyages and Discoveries in the South Seas 1192-1832.
After the War of 1812 was over, David Porter published his experiences in the Pacific in Journal of a Cruise Made to the Pacific Ocean, by Captain David Porter in the United States Frigate Essex, in the Years 1812, 1813, and 1814 (New York, 1822, second edition), 2 vols.
Finally, the last and least reliable of the American sealing accounts came from the pen of Captain Benjamin Morrell, Jr., with the pretentious title A Narrative of Four Voyages, to the South Sea, North and South Pacific Ocean, Chinese Sea, Ethiopic and Southern Atlantic Ocean, Indian and Antarctic Ocean. From the Year 1822 to 1831 ...[the title goes on for much longer] (New York, 1832).
On the last of his four published voyages, Morrell was accompanied by his second wife, Abby Jane Morrell, who wrote a little book on her travels entitled Narrative of a Voyage to the Ethiopic and South, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Chinese Sea, North and South Pacific Ocean in the Years 1829,1830,1831 (New York, 1833).
Chapter 14 : The Later Russian Voyages.
Honolulu, October 1818.
Kotzebue, the Rurick.
was to be a brief visit, the Hawaiian king granted Kotzebue the same amount
of provisions as before, and even sent a chief along to Oahu on the Rurick
to see that his orders were carried out.
Already Honolulu Harbor was becoming a crossroads of the Pacific.
Eight ships were there -six American, one Hawaiian, and a Russian-American Company vessel on the beach.
Three valuable books were published by members of Kotzebue's first voyage.
Kotzebue's own A Voyage of Discovery into the South Seas and Beering's Straits for the Purpose of Exploring a North-East Passage, Undertaken in the Years 1815-1818 was the first to appear-in German, at Weimar in 1821, and in English, in three volumes at London the same year.
Louis Choris's Voyage Pittoresque Autour du Monde was published in Paris in 1822.
Reise um die Welt, by Adelbert von Chamisso, appeared in 1836; he had already written a section on scientific observations for Kotzebue's book.
No account of
Bellingshausen's voyage was published in English until the Hakluyt Society
(Series II, Vols. XCI and XCII) translation, The Voyage of Captain Bellingshausen
to the Antarctic Seas, 1819-1821, by Frank Debenham, appeared in 1945.
The primary authority for the third voyage discussed in this chapter is A New Voyage Round the World, in the Years 1823, 24, 25, and 26 by Otto von Kotzebue, two vols. (London, 1830).
The book that he wrote about his second circumnavigation, however, cannot compare with his earlier work on the first voyage.
Much of the second book is based on the writings of Cook and other earlier explorers.
In his second book Kotzebue seems to be trying too hard to write a best seller, and he had not the advantage of having the talented Chamisso and Choris with him.
The expedition sailed from Cook Strait on June 9, 1820, and twenty days later sighted Rapa, which Vancouver had discovered in 1791.
Immediately, fifteen canoe loads of Polynesians, offering little to trade except shellfish, taro, and poi, surrounded the ships, and a chief cautiously ventured on board the Vostok.
The canoes were back the next morning, their occupants still consumed with wonder.
As Bellingshausen described it, "the islanders were astonished at the size of the ship and all the things, which were quite new to them.
One measured the length of the ship on the upper deck with the span of his arms, by lying down on the deck each time to stretch out his arms to their full extent.
He also measured the width of the quarter-deck.
Our guests did not leave the ship by the companion ladder but dived straight into the water and then climbed into their canoes."
He next saw Bellingshausen's Wolchonsky Islands (Takurea) and on March 8 made Romanzov Island, which he had discovered on his first voyage.
He discovered Aratika on March 9.
Islands were all around him now, including two that he could not identify, as well as Carlshof (discovered by Roggeveen in 1722), the Pallisers, Greig Island, and, finally, Tahiti, where he anchored in Matavai Bay on March 14.
The pilot who took him in was a Russian-speaking English- man named Williams, who had served with the Russian-American Company and was settled in Tahiti with a native wife and family.
Kotzebue had an
interesting time with the English missionaries, but he did not have a high
opinion of their accomplishments.
Nott, the head of the mission, was now an old man, and Wilson had also been there twenty years. Bennet and Tyrman were the only young toilers in the vineyard.
Tahitian culture had greatly changed, also.
The Tahitians now dressed in cast-off European clothing of all kinds.
There were no more great canoes.
Few mats were made.
Playing the flute, dancing, and mock battles were not allowed.
a house on shore, where he was visited by the queen and the adolescent
The queen arrived at the head of a long procession bringing three hogs, sweet and white potatoes, yams, and fruit as presents.
Kotzebue returned the compliment with calico, silk hand- kerchiefs, and beads.
Meanwhile, aboard the ship, the crew were selling all their old clothes to the Tahitians at exorbitant prices.
Pacific Exploration from
Captain Cook to the Challenger
Victor Gollanz Ltd., London, 1971.