Having filled our water, cut our wood, and got our ship in a sailing posture while the blustering hard winds lasted, we took the first opportunity of a settled gale to sail towards Manila. Accordingly June the 4th 1687 we loosed from Pulo Condore with the wind at south-west fair weather at a brisk gale. The pepper-junk bound to Siam remained there, waiting for an easterly wind; but one of his men, a kind of a bastard Portuguese, came aboard our ship and was entertained for the sake of his knowledge in the several languages of these countries. The wind continued in the south-west but 24 hours or a little more, and then came about to the north, and then to the north-east; and the sky became exceeding clear. Then the wind came at east and lasted betwixt east and south-east for eight or ten days. Yet we continued plying to windward, expecting every day a shift of wind because these winds were not according to the season of the year.
We were now afraid lest the currents might deceive us and carry us on the shoals of Pracel, which were near us a little to the north-west, but we passed on to the eastward without seeing any sign of them; yet we were kept much to the northward of our intended course. And, the easterly winds still continuing, we despaired of getting to Manila; and therefore began to project some new design; and the result was to visit the island Pratas about the latitude of 20 degrees 40 minutes north; and not far from us at this time.
It is a small low island, environed with rocks clear round it, by report. It lies so in the way between Manila and Canton, the head of a province, and a town of great trade in China, that the Chinese do dread the rocks about it more than the Spaniards did formerly dread Bermuda; for many of their junks coming from Manila have been lost there, and with abundance of treasure in them; as we were informed by all the Spaniards that ever we conversed with in these parts. They told us also that in these wrecks most of the men were drowned, and that the Chinese did never go thither to take up any of the treasure that was lost there for fear of being lost themselves. But the danger of the place did not daunt us; for we were resolved to try our fortunes there if the winds would permit; and we did beat for it five or six days; but at last were forced to leave that design also for want of winds; for the south-east winds continuing forced us on the coast of China.
It was the 25th day of June when we made the land; and running in towards the shore we came to an anchor the same day on the north-east end of St. John's island.
This island is in latitude about 22 degrees 30 minutes north, lying on the south coast of the province of Quantung or Canton in China. It is of an indifferent height and pretty plain, and the soil fertile enough. It is partly woody, partly savannahs or pasturage for cattle; and there is some moist arable land for rice. The skirts or outer part of the island, especially that part of it which borders on the main sea, is woody: the middle part of it is good thick grassy pasture, with some groves of trees; and that which is cultivated land is low wet land, yielding plentiful crops of rice; the only grain that I did see here. The tame cattle which this island affords are china-hogs, goats, buffaloes, and some bullocks. The hogs of this island are all black; they have but small heads, very short necks, great bellies, commonly touching the ground, and short legs. They eat but little food yet they are most of them very fat; probably because they sleep much. The tame fowls are ducks and cocks and hens. I saw no wild fowl but a few small birds.
The natives of this island are Chinese. They are subject to the crown of China, and consequently at this time to the tartars. The Chinese in general are tall, straight-bodied, raw-boned men. They are long-visaged, and their foreheads are high; but they have little eyes. Their noses are pretty large with a rising in the middle. Their mouths are of a mean size, pretty thin lips. They are of an ashy complexion; their hair is black, and their beards thin and long, for they pluck the hair out by the roots, suffering only some few very long straggling hairs to grow about their chin, in which they take great pride, often combing them and sometimes tying them up in a knot, and they have such hairs too growing down from each side of their upper lip like whiskers. The ancient Chinese were very proud of the hair of their heads, letting it grow very long and stroking it back with their hands curiously, and then winding the plaits all together round a bodkin thrust through it at the hinder part of the head; and both men and women did thus. But when the Tartars conquered them they broke them of this custom they were so fond of by main force; insomuch that they resented this imposition worse than their subjection and rebelled upon it but, being still worsted, were forced to acquiesce; and to this day they follow the fashion of their masters the tartars, and shave all their heads, only reserving one lock, which some tie up, others let it hang down a great or small length as they please. The Chinese in other countries still keep their old custom, but if any of the Chinese is found wearing long hair in China he forfeits his head; and many of them have abandoned their country to preserve their liberty of wearing their hair, as I have been told by themselves.
The Chinese have no hats, caps, or turbans; but when they walk abroad they carry a small umbrella in their hands wherewith they fence their head from the sun or the rain by holding it over their heads. If they walk but a little way they carry only a large fan made of paper, or silk, of the same fashion as those our ladies have, and many of them are brought over hither; one of these every man carried in his hand if he do but cross the street, screening his head with it if he has not an umbrella with him.
The common apparel of the men is a loose frock and breeches. They seldom wear stockings but they have shoes, or a sort of slippers rather. The men's shoes are made diversely. The women have very small feet and consequently but little shoes; for from their infancy their feet are kept swathed up with bands as hard as they can possibly endure them; and from the time they can go till they have done growing they bind them up every night. This they do purposely to hinder them from growing, esteeming little feet to be a great beauty. But by this unreasonable custom they do in a manner lose the use of their feet, and instead of going they only stumble about their houses, and presently squat down on their breeches again, being as it were confined to sitting all days of their lives. They seldom stir abroad and one would be apt to think that, as some have conjectured, their keeping up their fondness for this fashion were a stratagem of the men to keep them from gadding and gossiping about and confine them at home. They are kept constantly to their work, being fine needlewomen, and making many curious embroideries, and they make their own shoes; but if any stranger be desirous to bring away any for novelty's sake he must be a great favourite to get a pair of shoes of them, though he give twice their value. The poorer sort of women trudge about streets and to the market without shoes or stockings; and these cannot afford to have little feet, being to get their living with them.
The Chinese both men and women are very ingenious; as may appear by the many curious things that are brought from thence, especially the porcelain or China earthenware. The Spaniards of Manila that we took on the coast of Luconia told me that this commodity is made of conch-shells, the inside of which looks like mother-of-pearl. But the Portuguese lately mentioned, who had lived in China and spoke that and the neighbouring languages very well, said that it was made of a fine sort of clay that was dug in the province of Canton. I have often made enquiry about it but could never be well satisfied in it: but while I was on the coast of Canton I forgot to enquire about it. They make very fine lacquer-ware also, and good silks; and they are curious at painting and carving.
China affords drugs in great abundance, especially China-root; but this is not peculiar to that country alone; for there is much of this root growing at Jamaica, particularly at 16-mile walk, and in the Bay of Honduras it is very plentiful. There is a great store of sugar made in this country; and tea in abundance is brought from thence; being much used there, and in Tonquin and Cochin-china as common drinking; women sitting in the streets and selling dishes of tea hot and ready made; they call it chau and even the poorest people sip it. But the tea at Tonquin of Cochin-china seems not so good, or of so pleasant a bitter, or of so fine a colour, or such virtue as this in China; for I have drunk of it in these countries; unless the fault be in the way of making it, for I made none there myself; and by the high red colour it looks as if they made a decoction of it or kept it stale. Yet at Japan I was told there is a great deal of pure tea, very good.
The Chinese are very great gamesters and they will never be tired with it, playing night and day till they have lost all their estates; then it is usual with them to hang themselves. This was frequently done by the Chinese factors at Manila, as I was told by Spaniards that lived there. The Spaniards themselves are much addicted to gaming and are very expert at it; but the Chinese are too subtle for them, being in general a very cunning people.
But a particular account of them and their country would fill a volume; nor doth my short experience of them qualify me to say much of them. Wherefore I confine myself chiefly to what I observed at St. John's Island, where we lay some time and visited the shore every day to buy provision, as hogs, fowls, and buffalo. Here was a small town standing in a wet swampy ground, with many filthy ponds amongst the houses, which were built on the ground as ours are, not on posts as at Mindanao. In these ponds were plenty of ducks; the houses were small and low and covered with thatch, and the insides were but ill furnished, and kept nastily: and I have been told by one who was there that most of the houses in the city of Canton itself are but poor and irregular.
The inhabitants of this village seem to be most husbandmen: they were at this time very busy in sowing their rice, which is their chiefest commodity. The land in which they choose to sow the rice is low and wet, and when ploughed the earth was like a mass of mud. They plough their land with a small plough, drawn by one buffalo, and one man both holds the plough and drives the beast. When the rice is ripe and gathered in they tread it out of the ear with buffaloes in a large round place made with a hard floor fit for that purpose, where they chain three or four of these beasts, one at the tail of the other, and, driving them round in a ring as in a horse-mill, they so order it that the buffaloes may tread upon it all.
I was once at this island with seven or eight Englishmen more and, having occasion to stay some time, we killed a shote, or young porker, and roasted it for our dinners. While we were busy dressing of our pork one of the natives came and sat down by us; and when the dinner was ready we cut a good piece and gave it him, which he willingly received. But by signs he begged more, and withal pointed into the woods; yet we did not understand his meaning nor much mind him till our hunger was pretty well assuaged; although he did still make signs and, walking a little way from us, he beckoned to us to come to him; which at last I did, and two or three more. He going before led the way in a small blind path through a thicket into a small grove of trees, in which there was an old idol-temple about ten foot square: the walls of it were about six foot high and two foot thick, made of bricks. The floor was paved with broad bricks, and in the middle of the floor stood an old rusty iron bell on its brims. This bell was about two foot high, standing flat on the ground; the brims on which it stood were about sixteen inches diameter. From the brims it did taper away a little towards the head, much like our bells but that the brims did not turn out so much as ours do. On the head of the bell there were three iron bars as big as a man's arm and about ten inches long from the top of the bell, where the ends joined as in a centre and seemed of one mass with the bell, as if cast together. These bars stood all parallel to the ground, and their farther ends, which stood triangularly and opening from each other at equal distances, like the fliers of our kitchen-jacks, were made exactly in the shape of the paw of some monstrous beast, having sharp claws on it. This it seems was their god; for as soon as our zealous guide came before the bell he fell flat on his face and beckoned to us, seeming very desirous to have us do the like. At the inner side of the temple against the walls there was an altar of white hewn stone. The table of the altar was about three foot long, sixteen inches broad, and three inches thick. It was raised about two foot from the ground and supported by three small pillars of the same white stone. On this altar there were several small earthen vessels; one of them was full of small sticks that had been burned at one end. Our guide made a great many signs for us to fetch and to leave some of our meat there, and seemed very importunate but we refused. We left him there and went aboard; I did see no other temple nor idol here.
While we lay at this place we saw several small China junks sailing in the lagoon between the islands and the main, one came and anchored by us. I and some more of our men went aboard to view her: she was built with a square flat head as well as stern, only the head or fore part was not so broad as the stern. On her deck she had little thatched houses like hovels, covered with palmetto-leaves and raised about three foot high, for the seamen to creep into. She had a pretty large cabin wherein there was an altar and a lamp burning. I did but just look in and saw not the idol. The hold was divided into many small partitions, all of them made so tight that if a leak should spring up in any one of them it could go no farther, and so could do but little damage but only to the goods in the bottom of that room where the leak springs up. Each of these rooms belong to one or two merchants, or more; and every man freights his goods in his own room; and probably lodges there if he be on board himself. These junks have only two masts, a main-mast and a fore-mast. The fore-mast has a square yard and a square sail, but the main-mast has a sail narrow aloft like a sloop's sail, and in fair weather they use a topsail which is to haul down on the deck in foul weather, yard and all; for they did not go up to furl it. The main-mast in their biggest junks seem to me as big as any third-rate man-of-war's mast in England, and yet not pieced as ours but made of one grown tree; and in an all my travels I never saw any single-tree-masts so big in the body, and so long and yet so well tapered, as I have seen in the Chinese junks.
Some of our men went over to a pretty large town on the continent of China where we might have furnished ourselves with provision, which was a thing we were always in want of and was our chief business here; but we were afraid to lie in this place any longer for we had some signs of an approaching storm; this being the time of the year in which storms are expected on this coast; and here was no safe riding. It was now the time of the year for the south-west monsoon but the wind had been whiffing about from one part of the compass to another for two or three days, and sometimes it would be quite calm. This caused us to put to sea, that we might have sea-room at least; for such flattering weather is commonly the forerunner of a tempest.
Accordingly we weighed anchor and set out; yet we had very little wind all the next night. But the day ensuing, which was the 4th day of July, about four a clock in the afternoon, the wind came to the north-east and freshened upon us, and the sky looked very black in that quarter, and the black clouds began to rise apace and moved towards us; having hung all the morning in the horizon. This made us take in our topsails and, the wind still increasing, about nine a clock we reefed our mainsail and foresail; at ten we furled our foresail, keeping under a mainsail and mizzen. At eleven a clock we furled our mainsail and ballasted our mizzen; at which time it began to rain, and by twelve a clock at night it blew exceeding hard and the rain poured down as through a sieve. It thundered and lightened prodigiously, and the sea seemed all of a fire about us; for every sea that broke sparkled like lightning. The violent wind raised the sea presently to a great height, and it ran very short and began to break in on our deck. One sea struck away the rails of our head, and our sheet-anchor, which was stowed with one flook or bending of the iron over the ship's gunwale, and lashed very well down to the side, was violently washed off, and had like to have struck a hole in our bow as it lay beating against it. Then we were forced to put right before the wind to stow our anchor again; which we did with much ado; but afterwards we durst not adventure to bring our ship to the wind again for fear of foundering, for the turning the ship either to or fro from the wind is dangerous in such violent storms. The fierceness of the weather continued till four a clock that morning; in which time we did cut away two Canoas that were towing astern.
After four a clock the thunder and the rain abated and then we saw a corpus sant at our main-top-mast head, on the very top of the truck of the spindle. This sight rejoiced our men exceedingly; for the height of the storm is commonly over when the corpus sant is seen aloft; but when they are seen lying on the deck it is generally accounted a bad sign.
A corpus sant is a certain small glittering light; when it appears as this did on the very top of the main-mast or at a yard-arm it is like a star; but when it appears on the deck it resembles a great glow-worm. The Spaniards have another name for it (though I take even this to be a Spanish or Portuguese name, and a corruption only of corpus sanctum) and I have been told that when they see them they presently go to prayers and bless themselves for the happy sight. I have heard some ignorant seamen discoursing how they have seen them creep, or, as they say, travel about in the scuppers, telling many dismal stories that happened at such times: but I did never see anyone stir out of the place where it was first fixed, except upon deck, where every sea washes it about: neither did I ever see any but when we have had hard rain as well as wind; and therefore do believe it is some jelly: but enough of this.
We continued scudding right before wind and sea from two till seven a clock in the morning, and then the wind being much abated we set our mizzen again, and brought our ship to the wind, and lay under a mizzen till eleven. Then it fell flat calm, and it continued so for about two hours: but the sky looked very black and rueful, especially in the south-west, and the sea tossed us about like an eggshell for want of wind. About one a clock in the afternoon the wind sprung up at south-west out of the quarter from whence we did expect it: therefore we presently brailed up our mizzen and wore our ship: but we had no sooner put our ship before the wind but it blew a storm again and rained very hard, though not so violently as the night before: but the wind was altogether as boisterous and so continued till ten or eleven a clock at night. All which time we scudded and run before the wind very swift, though only with our bare poles, that is, without any sail abroad. Afterwards the wind died away by degrees, and before day we had but little wind and fine clear weather.
I was never in such a violent storm in all my life; so said all the company. This was near the change of the moon: it was two or three days before the change. The 6th day in the morning, having fine handsome weather, we got up our yards again and began to dry ourselves and our clothes for we were all well sopped. This storm had deadened the hearts of our men so much that, instead of going to buy more provision at the same place from whence we came before the storm, or of seeking any more for the island Prata, they thought of going somewhere to shelter before the full moon, for fear of another storm at that time: for commonly, if there is any very bad weather in the month, it is about two or three days before or after the full or change of the moon.
These thoughts, I say, put our men on thinking where to go, and, the charts or sea-plats being first consulted, it was concluded to go to certain islands lying in latitude 23 degrees north called Piscadores. For there was not a man aboard that was anything acquainted on these coasts; and therefore all our dependence was on the charts, which only pointed out to us where such and such places or islands were without giving us any account what harbour, roads or bays there were, or the produce, strength, or trade of them; these we were forced to seek after ourselves.
The Piscadores are a great many inhabited islands lying near the island Formosa, between it and China, in or near the latitude of 23 degrees north latitude, almost as high as the Tropic of Cancer. These Piscadore islands are moderately high and appear much like our Dorsetshire and Wiltshire Downs in England. They produce thick short grass and a few trees. They are pretty well watered and they feed abundance of goats and some great cattle. There are abundance of mounts and old fortifications on them: but of no use now, whatever they have been.
Between the two easternmost islands there is a very good harbour which is never without junks riding in it: and on the west side of the easternmost island there is a large town and fort commanding the harbour. The houses are but low, yet well built, and the town makes a fine prospect. This is a garrison of the Tartars, wherein are also three or four hundred soldiers who live here three years and then they are moved to some other place.
On the island, on the west side of the harbour close by the sea, there is a small town of Chinese; and most of the other islands have some Chinese living on them more or less.
Having, as I said before, concluded to go to these islands, we steered away for them, having the wind at west-south-west a small gale. The 20th day of July we had first sight of them and steered in among them; finding no place to anchor in till we came into the harbour before mentioned. We blundering in, knowing little of our way, and we admired to see so many junks going and coming, and some at an anchor, and so great a town as the neighbouring easternmost town, the Tartarian garrison; for we did not expect nor desire to have seen any people, being in care to lie concealed in these seas; however seeing we were here, we boldly ran into the harbour and presently sent ashore our canoa to the town.
Our people were met by an officer at their landing; and our quartermaster, who was the chiefest man in the boat, was conducted before the governor and examined of what nation we were, and what was our business here. He answered that we were English and were bound to Amoy or Anhay, which is a city standing on a navigable river in the province of Fokien in China, and is a place of vast trade, there being a huge multitude of ships there, and in general on all these coasts, as I have heard of several that have been there. He said also that, having received some damage by a storm, we therefore put in here to refit before we could adventure to go farther; and that we did intend to lie here till after the full moon, for fear of another storm. The governor told him that we might better refit our ship at Amoy than here, and that he heard that two English vessels were arrived there already; and that he should be very ready to assist us in anything; but we must not expect to trade there but must go to the places allowed to entertain merchant-strangers, which were Amoy and Macao. Macao is a town of great trade also, lying in an island at the very mouth of the river of Canton. It is fortified and garrisoned by a large Portuguese colony, but yet under the Chinese government, whose people inhabit one moiety of the town and lay on the Portuguese what tax they please; for they dare not disoblige the Chinese for fear of losing their trade. However the governor very kindly told our quartermaster that whatsoever we wanted, if that place could furnish us, we should have it. Yet that we must not come ashore on that island, but he would send aboard some of his men to know what we wanted, and they should also bring it off to us. That nevertheless we might go on shore on other islands to buy refreshments of the Chinese. After the discourse was ended the governor dismissed him with a small jar of flour, and three or four large cakes of very fine bread, and about a dozen pineapples and watermelons (all very good in their kind) as a present to the captain.
The next day an eminent officer came aboard with a great many attendants. He wore a black silk cap of a particular make, with a plume of black and white feathers standing up almost round his head behind, and all his outside clothes were black silk: he had a loose black coat which reached to his knees, and his breeches were of the same; and underneath his coat he had two garments more, of other coloured silk. His legs were covered with small black limber boots. All his attendants were in a very handsome garb of black silk, all wearing those small black boots and caps. These caps were like the crown of a hat made of palmetto-leaves, like our straw hats; but without brims, and coming down but to their ears. These had no feathers, but had an oblong button on the top, and from between the button and the cap there fell down all round their head as low as the cap reached, a sort of coarse hair like horse-hair, dyed (as I suppose) of a light red colour.
The officer brought aboard as a present from the governor a young heifer, the fattest and kindliest beef that I did ever taste in any foreign country; it was small yet full-grown; two large hogs, four goats, two baskets of fine flour, 20 great flat cakes of fine well-tasted bread, two great jars of arak (made of rice as I judged) called by the Chinese sam shu; and 55 jars of hoc shu, as they call it, and our Europeans from them. This is a strong liquor, made of wheat, as I have been told. It looks like mum and tastes much like it, and is very pleasant and hearty. Our seamen love it mightily and will lick their lips with it: for scarce a ship goes to China but the men come home fat with soaking this liquor, and bring store of jars of it home with them. It is put into small white thick jars that hold near a quart: the double jars hold about two quarts. These jars are small below and thence rise up with a pretty full belly, closing in pretty short at top with a small thick mouth. Over the mouth of the jar they put a thin chip cut round just so as to cover the mouth, over that a piece of paper, and over that they put a great lump of clay, almost as big as the bottle or jar itself, with a hollow in it, to admit the neck of the bottle, made round and about four inches long; this is to preserve the liquor. If the liquor take any vent it will be sour presently, so that when we buy any of it of the ships from China returning to Madras, or Fort St. George, where it is then sold, or of the Chinese themselves, of whom I have bought it at Achin and Bencoolen in Sumatra, if the clay be cracked, or the liquor motherly, we make them take it again. A quart jar there is worth sixpence. Besides this present from the governor there was a captain of a junk sent two jars of arak, and abundance of pineapples and watermelons. Captain Read sent ashore as a present to the governor a curious Spanish silver-hilted rapier, an English carbine, and a gold chain, and when the officer went ashore three guns were fired. In the afternoon the governor sent off the same officer again to compliment the captain for his civility, and promised to retaliate his kindness before we departed; but we had such blustering weather afterward that no boat could come aboard.
We stayed here till the 29th day and then sailed from hence with the wind at south-west and pretty fair weather. We now directed our course for some islands we had chosen to go to that lie between Formosa and Luconia. They are laid down in our plots without any name, only with a figure of 5, denoting the number of them. It was supposed by us that these islands had no inhabitants, because they had not any name by our hydrographers. Therefore we thought to lie there secure, and be pretty near the island Luconia, which we did still intend to visit.
In going to them we sailed by the south-west end of Formosa, leaving it on our larboard side. This is a large island; the south end is in latitude 21 degrees 20 minutes and the north end in the 25 degrees 10 minutes north latitude. The longitude of this isle is laid down from 142 degrees 5 minutes to 143 degrees 16 minutes reckoning east from the Pike of Tenerife, so that it is but narrow; and the Tropic of Cancer crosses it. It is a high and woody island, and was formerly well inhabited by the Chinese, and was then frequently visited by English merchants, there being a very good harbour to secure their ships. But since the tartars have conquered China they have spoiled the harbour (as I have been informed) to hinder the Chinese that were then in rebellion from fortifying themselves there; and ordered the foreign merchants to come and trade on the main.
The sixth day of August we arrived at the five islands that we were bound to and anchored on the east side of the northernmost island in 15 fathom, a cable's length from the shore. Here, contrary to our expectation, we found abundance of inhabitants in sight; for there were three large towns all within a league of the sea; and another larger town than any of the three, on the back side of a small hill close by also, as we found afterwards. These islands lie in latitude 20 degrees 20 minutes north latitude by my observation, for I took it there, and I find their longitude according to our charts to be 141 degrees 50 minutes. These islands having no particular names in the charts some or other of us made use of the seamen's privilege to give them what names we please. Three of the islands were pretty large; the westernmost is the biggest. This the Dutchmen who were among us called the Prince of Orange's Island, in honour of his present Majesty. It is about seven or eight leagues long and about two leagues wide; and it lies almost north and south. The other two great islands are about four or five leagues to the eastward of this. The northernmost of them, where we first anchored, I called the Duke of Grafton's Isle as soon as we landed on it; having married my wife out of his duchess's family, and leaving her at Arlington House at my going abroad. This isle is about 4 leagues long and one league and a half wide, stretching north and south. The other great island our seamen called the Duke of Monmouth's Island. This is about a league to the southward of Grafton Isle. It is about three leagues long and a league wide, lying as the other. Between Monmouth and the south end of Orange Island there are two small islands of a roundish form, lying east and west. The easternmost island of the two our men unanimously called Bashee Island, from a liquor which we drank there plentifully every day after we came to an anchor at it. The other, which is the smallest of all, we called Goat Island, from the great number of goats there; and to the northward of them all are two high rocks.
Orange Island, which is the biggest of them all, is not inhabited. It is high land, flat and even on the top with steep cliffs against the sea; for which reason we could not go ashore there as we did on all the rest.
I have made it my general observation that where the land is fenced with steep rocks and cliffs against the sea there the sea is very deep, and seldom affords anchor-ground; and on the other side where the land falls away with a declivity into the sea (although the land be extraordinary high within) yet there are commonly good soundings, and consequently anchoring; and as the visible declivity of the land appears near, or at the edge of the water, whether pretty steep or more sloping, so we commonly find our anchor-ground to be more or less deep or steep; therefore we come nearer the shore or anchor farther off as we see convenient; for there is no coast in the world that I know or have heard of where the land is of a continual height without some small valleys or declivities which lie intermixed with the high land. They are the subsidings of valleys or low lands that make dents in the shore and creeks, small bays, and harbours, or little coves, etc., which afford good anchoring, the surface of the earth being there lodged deep under water. Thus we find many good harbours on such coasts where the land bounds the sea with steep cliffs, by reason of the declivities or subsiding of the land between these cliffs: but where the declension from the hills or cliffs is not within land, between hill and hill, but, as on the coast of Chile and Peru, the declivity is toward the main sea, or into it, the coast being perpendicular, or very steep from the neighbouring hills, as in those countries from the Andes that run along the shore, there is a deep sea, and few or no harbours or creeks. All that coast is too steep for anchoring, and has the fewest roads fit for ships of any coast I know. The coasts of Galicia, Portugal, Norway, and Newfoundland, etc., are coasts like the Peruvian and the high islands of the archipelago; but yet not so scanty of good harbours; for where there are short ridges of land there are good bays at the extremities of those ridges, where they plunge into the sea; as on the coast of Caraccos, etc. The island of John Fernando and the island St. Helena, etc., are such high land with deep shore: and in general the plunging of any land under water seems to be in proportion to the rising of its continuous part above water, more or less steep; and it must be a bottom almost level, or very gently declining, that affords good anchoring, ships being soon driven from their moorings on a steep bank: therefore we never strive to anchor where we see the land high and bounding the sea with steep cliffs; and for this reason, when we came in sight of States Island near Tierra del Fuego, before we entered into the South Seas, we did not so much as think of anchoring after we saw what land it was, because of the steep cliffs which appeared against the sea: yet there might be little harbours or coves for shallops or the like to anchor in, which we did not see or search after.
As high steep cliffs bounding the sea have this ill consequence that they seldom afford anchoring; so they have this benefit that we can see them far off and sail close to them without danger: for which reason we call them bold shores; whereas low land on the contrary is seen but a little way and in many places we dare not come near it for fear of running aground before we see it. Besides there are in many places shoals thrown out by the course of great rivers that from the low land fall into the sea.
This which I have said, that there is usually good anchoring near low lands, may be illustrated by several instances. Thus on the south side of the bay of Campeachy there is mostly low land, and there also is good anchoring all along shore; and in some places to the eastward of the town of Campeachy we shall have so many fathom as we are leagues off from land that is from nine or ten leagues distance till you come within 4 leagues: and from thence to land it grows but shallower. The bay of Honduras also is low land, and continues mostly so as we passed along from thence to the coasts of Portobello and Cartagene till we came as high as Santa Martha; afterwards the land is low again till you come towards the coast of Caraccos, which is a high coast and bold shore. The land about Surinam on the same coast is low and good anchoring, and that over on the coast of Guinea is such also. And such too is the Bay of Panama, where the pilot-book orders the pilot always to sound and not to come within such a depth, be it by night or day. In the same seas, from the high land of Guatimala in Mexico to California, there is mostly low land and good anchoring. In the main of Asia, the coast of China, the Bay of Siam and Bengal, and all the coast of Coromandel, and the coast about Malacca, and against it the island Sumatra, on that side are mostly low anchoring shores. But on the west side of Sumatra the shore is high and bold; so most of the islands lying to the eastward of Sumatra, as the islands Borneo, Celebes, Gilolo, and abundance of islands of less note, lying scattering up and down those seas, are low land and have good anchoring about them, with many shoals scattered to and fro among them; but the islands lying against the East Indian Ocean, especially the west sides of them, are high land and steep, particularly the west parts, not only of Sumatra but also of Java, Timor, etc. Particulars are endless; but in general it is seldom but high shores and deep waters; and on the other side low land and shallow seas are found together.
But to return from this digression, to speak of the rest of these islands. Monmouth and Grafton Isles are very hilly, with many of those steep inhabited precipices on them that I shall describe particularly. The two small islands are flat and even; only the Bashee Island has one steep scraggy hill, but Goat Island is all flat and very even.
The mould of these islands in the valley is blackish in some places, but in most red. The hills are very rocky: the valleys are well watered with brooks of fresh water which run into the sea in many different places. The soil is indifferent fruitful, especially in the valleys; producing pretty great plenty of trees (though not very big) and thick grass. The sides of the mountains have also short grass, and some of the mountains have mines within them; for the natives told us that the yellow metal they showed us (as I shall speak more particularly) came from these mountains; for when they held it up they would point towards them.
The fruit of these islands are a few plantains, bananas, pineapples, pumpkins, sugarcane, etc., and there might be more if the natives would, for the ground seems fertile enough. Here are great plenty of potatoes, and yams, which is the common food for the natives for bread kind: for those few plantains they have are only used as fruit. They have some cotton growing here of the small plants.
Here are plenty of goats and abundance of hogs; but few fowls, either wild or tame. For this I have always observed in my travels, both in the East and West Indies, that in those places where there is plenty of grain, that is, of rice in one and maize in the other, there are also found great abundance of fowls; but on the contrary few fowls in those countries where the inhabitants feed on fruits and roots only. The few wild fowls that are here are parakeets and some other small birds. Their tame fowl are only a few cocks and hens.
Monmouth and Grafton Islands are very thick inhabited; and Bashee Island has one town on it. The natives of these islands are short squat people; they are generally round-visaged, with low foreheads and thick eyebrows; their eyes of a hazel colour and small, yet bigger than the Chinese; short low noses and their lips and mouths middle proportioned; their teeth are white; their hair is black, and thick, and lank, which they wear but short; it will just cover their ears, and so it is cut round very even. Their skins are of a very dark copper colour.
They wear no hat, cap, nor turban, nor anything to keep off the sun. The men for the biggest part have only a small clout to cover their nakedness; some of them have jackets made of plantain leaves which were as rough as any bear's skin: I never saw such rugged things. The women have a short petticoat made of cotton which comes a little below their knees. It is a thick sort of stubborn cloth which they make themselves of their cotton. RINGS OF A YELLOW METAL LIKE GOLD. Both men and women do wear large earrings made of that yellow metal before mentioned. Whether it were gold or no I cannot positively say; I took it to be so, it was heavy and of the colour of our paler gold. I would fain have brought away some to have satisfied my curiosity; but I had nothing where with to buy any. Captain Read bought two of these rings with some iron, of which the people are very greedy; and he would have bought more, thinking he was come to a very fair market, but that the paleness of the metal made him and his crew distrust its being right gold. For my part I should have ventured on the purchase of some, but having no property in the iron, of which we had great store on board sent from England by the merchants along with Captain Swan, I durst not barter it away.
These rings when first polished look very gloriously, but time makes them fade and turn to a pale yellow. Then they make a soft paste of red earth and, smearing it over their rings, they cast them into a quick fire where they remain till they be red hot; then they take them out and cool them in water and rub off the paste; and they look again of a glorious colour and lustre.
These people make but small low houses. The sides, which are made of small posts wattled with boughs, are not above 4 foot and a half high: the ridge-pole is about 7 or 8 foot high. They have a fireplace at one end of their houses and boards placed on the ground to lie on. They inhabit together in small villages built on the sides and tops of rocky hills, 3 or 4 rows of houses, one above another and on such steep precipices that they go up to the first row with a wooden ladder, and so with a ladder still from every storey up to that above it, there being no way to ascend. The plain on the first precipice may be so wide as to have room both for a row of houses that stand all along on the edge or brink of it, and a very narrow street running along before their doors, between the row of houses and the foot of the next precipice; the plain of which is in a manner level to the tops of the houses below, and so for the rest. The common ladder to each row or street comes up at a narrow passage left purposely about the middle of it; and the street, being bounded with a precipice also at each end, it is but drawing up the ladder if they be assaulted, and then there is no coming at them from below, but by climbing up against a perpendicular wall: and, that they may not be assaulted from above, they take care to build on the side of such a hill whose back side hangs over the sea, or is some high, steep, perpendicular precipice, altogether inaccessible. These precipices are natural; for the rocks seem too hard to work on; nor is there any sign that art has been employed about them. On Bashee island there is one such, and built upon, with its back next the sea. Grafton and Monmouth isles are very thick set with these hills and towns; and the natives, whether for fear of pirates, or foreign enemies, or factions among their own clans, care not for building but in these fastnesses; which I take to be the reason that Orange Isle, though the largest, and as fertile as any, yet being level and exposed has no inhabitants. I never saw the like precipices and towns.
These people are pretty ingenious also in building boats. Their small boats are much like our deal yawls but not so big; and they are built with very narrow plank pinned with wooden pins and some nails. They have also some pretty large boats which will carry 40 or 50 men. These they row with 12 or 14 oars of a side. They are built much like the small ones and they row doubled-banked; that is, two men setting on one bench, but one rowing on one side, the other on the other side of the boat. They understand the use of iron and work it themselves. Their bellows are like those at Mindanao. The common employment for the men is fishing; but I did never see them catch much: whether it is more plenty at other times of the year I know not. The women do manage their plantations.
I did never see them kill any of their goats or hogs for themselves, yet they would beg the paunches of the goats that they themselves did sell to us: and if any of our surly seamen did heave them into the sea they would take them up again and the skins of the goats also. They would not meddle with hogs' guts if our men threw away any besides what they made chitterlings and sausages of. The goat-skins these people would carry ashore, and making a fire they would singe off all the hair, and afterwards let the skin lie and parch on the coals till they thought it eatable; and then they would gnaw it and tear it in pieces with their teeth, and at last swallow it. The paunches of the goats would make them an excellent dish; they dressed it in this manner. They would turn out all the chopped grass and crudities found in the maw into their pots, and set it over the fire and stir it about often: this would smoke and puff, and heave up as it was boiling; wind breaking out of the ferment and making a very savoury stink. While this was doing, if they had any fish, as commonly they had two or three small fish, these they would make very clean (as hating nastiness belike) and cut the flesh from the bone, and then mince the flesh as small as possibly they could, and when that in the pot was well boiled they would take it up and, strewing a little salt into it, they would eat it, mixed with their raw minced flesh. The dung in the maw would look like so much boiled herbs minced very small; and they took up their mess with their fingers, as the Moors do their pillaw, using no spoons.
They had another dish made of a sort of locusts, whose bodies were about an inch and a half long and as thick as the top of one's little finger; with large thin wings and long and small legs. At this time of the year these creatures came in great swarms to devour their potato leaves and other herbs; and the natives would go out with small nets and take a quart at one sweep. When they had enough they would carry them home and parch them over the fire in an earthen pan; and then their wings and legs would fall off and their heads and backs would turn red like boiled shrimps, being before brownish. Their bodies being full would eat very moist, their heads would crackle in one's teeth. I did once eat of this dish and liked it well enough; but their other dish my stomach would not take.
Their common drink is water; as it is of all other Indians: besides which they make a sort of drink with the juice of the sugar-cane, which they boil, and put some small black sort of berries among it. When it is well boiled they put it into great jars and let it stand three or four days and work. Then it settles and becomes clear, and is presently fit to drink. This is an excellent liquor, and very much like English beer, both in colour and taste. It is very strong, and I do believe very wholesome: for our men, who drank briskly of it all day for several weeks, were frequently drunk with it, and never sick after it. The natives brought a vast deal of it every day to those aboard and ashore: for some of our men were ashore at work on Bashee Island; which island they gave that name to from their drinking this liquor there; that being the name which the natives called this liquor by: and as they sold it to our men very cheap so they did not spare to drink it as freely. And indeed from the plenty of this liquor and their plentiful use of it our men called all these islands the Bashee Islands.
What language these people do speak I know not: for it had no affinity in sound to the Chinese, which is spoken much through the teeth; nor yet to the Malayan language. They called the metal that their earrings were made of bullawan, which is the Mindanao word for gold; therefore probably they may be related to the Philippine Indians; for that is the general name for gold among all those Indians. I could not learn from whence they have their iron; but it is most likely they go in their great boats to the north end of Luconia and trade with the Indians of that island for it. Neither did I see anything beside iron and pieces of buffalo hides, which I could judge that they bought of strangers: their clothes were of their own growth and manufacture.
These men had wooden lances and a few lances headed with iron; which are all the weapons that they have. Their armour is a piece of buffalo hide, shaped like our carters' frocks, being without sleeves and sewn both sides together with holes for the head and the arms to come forth. This buff coat reaches down to their knees: it is close about their shoulders, but below it is three foot wide and as thick as a board.
I could never perceive them to worship anything, neither had they any idols; neither did they seem to observe any one day more than other. I could never perceive that one man was of greater power than another; but they seemed to be all equal; only every man ruling in his own house, and the children respecting and honouring their parents.
Yet it is probable that they have some law or custom by which they are governed; for while we lay here we saw a young man buried alive in the earth; and it was for theft as far as we could understand from them. There was a great deep hole dug and abundance of people came to the place to take their last farewell of him: among the rest there was one woman who made great lamentation and took off the condemned person's earrings. We supposed her to be his mother. After he had taken his leave of her and some others he was put into the pit and covered over with earth. He did not struggle but yielded very quietly to his punishment; and they rammed the earth close upon him and stifled him.
They have but one wife, with whom they live and agree very well; and their children live very obediently under them. The boys go out a-fishing with their fathers; and the girls live at home with their mothers: and when the girls are grown pretty strong they send them to their plantations to dig yams and potatoes, of which they bring home on their heads every day enough to serve the whole family; for they have no rice nor maize.
Their plantations are in the valleys, at a good distance from their houses; where every man has a certain spot of land which is properly his own. This he manages himself for his own use; and provides enough that he may not be beholding to his neighbour.
Notwithstanding the seeming nastiness of their dish of goats' maw they are in their persons a very neat cleanly people, both men and women: and they are withal the quietest and civilest people that I did ever meet with. I could never perceive them to be angry with one another. I have admired to see 20 or 30 boats aboard our ship at a time, and yet no different among them; but all civil and quiet, endeavouring to help each other on occasion: no noise, nor appearance of distaste and, although sometimes cross accidents would happen which might have set other men together by the ears, yet they were not moved by them. Sometimes they will also drink freely and warm themselves with their drink; yet neither then could I ever perceive them out of humour. They are not only thus civil among themselves but very obliging and kind to strangers; nor were their children rude to us, as is usual. Indeed the women, when we came to their houses, would modestly beg any rags or small pieces of cloth to swaddle their young ones in, holding their children out to us; and begging is usual among all these wild nations. Yet neither did they beg so importunately as in other places; nor did the men ever beg anything at all. Neither, except once at the first time that we came to an anchor (as I shall relate) did they steal anything; but dealt justly and with great sincerity with us; and make us very welcome to their houses with bashee-drink. If they had none of this liquor themselves they would buy a jar of drink of their neighbours and sit down with us: for we could see them go and give a piece or two of their gold for some jars of bashee. And indeed among wild Indians, as these seem to be, I wondered to see buying and selling, which is not so usual; nor to converse so freely as to go aboard strangers' ships with so little caution: yet their own small trading may have brought them to this. At these entertainments they and their family, wife and children, drank out of small calabashes: and when by themselves they drink about from one to another; but when any of us came among them then they would always drink to one of us.
They have no sort of coin; but they have small crumbs of the metal before described which they bind up very safe in plantain leaves or the like. This metal they exchange for what they want, giving a small quantity of it, about two or three grains, for a jar of drink that would hold five or six gallons. They have no scales but give it by guess. Thus much in general.
To proceed therefore with our affairs: I have said before that we anchored here the 6th day of August. While we were furling our sails there came near 100 boats of the natives aboard, with three or four men in each; so that our deck was full of men. We were at first afraid of them, and therefore got up 20 or 30 small arms on our poop and kept three or four men as sentinels, with guns in their hands, ready to fire on them if they had offered to molest us. But they were pretty quiet, only they picked up such old iron that they found on our deck, and they also took out our pump bolts and linchpins out of the carriages of our guns before we perceived them. At last one of our men perceived one of them very busy getting out one of our linchpins; and took hold of the fellow who immediately bawled out, and all the rest presently leapt overboard, some into their boats, others into the sea; and they all made away for the shore. But when we perceived their fright we made much of him that was in hold, who stood trembling all the while; and at last we gave him a small piece of iron, with which he immediately leapt overboard and swam to his consorts who hovered about our ship to see the issue. Then we beckoned to them to come aboard again, being very loth to lose a commerce with them. Some of the boats came aboard again, and they were always very honest and civil afterward.
We presently after this sent a canoa ashore to see their manner of living and what provision they had: the canoa's crew were made very welcome with bashee-drink and saw abundance of hogs, some of which they bought and returned aboard. After this the natives brought aboard both hogs and goats to us in their own boats; and every day we should have fifteen or twenty hogs and goats in boats aboard by our side. These we bought for a small matter; we could buy a good fat goat for an old iron hoop, and a hog of seventy or eighty pounds weight for two or three pound of iron. Their drink also they brought off in jars, which we bought for old nails, spikes and leaden bullets. Beside the fore-mentioned commodities they brought aboard great quantities of yams and potatoes; which we purchased for nails, spikes or bullets. It was one man's work to be all day cutting out bars of iron into small pieces with a cold chisel: and these were for the great purchases of hogs and goats, which they would not sell for nails, as their drink and roots. We never let them know what store we have, that they may value it the more. Every morning as soon as it was light they would thus come aboard with their commodities which we bought as we had occasion. We did commonly furnish ourselves with as many goats and roots as served us all the day; and their hogs we bought in large quantities as we thought convenient; for we salted them. Their hogs were very sweet; but I never saw so many measled ones.
We filled all our water at a curious brook close by us in Grafton's Isle where we first anchored. We stayed there about three or four days before we went to other islands. We sailed to the southward, passing on the east side of Grafton Island, and then passed through between that and Monmouth Island; but we found no anchoring till we came to the north end of Monmouth Island, and there we stopped during one tide. The tide runs very strong here and sometimes makes a short chopping sea. Its course among these islands is south by east and north by W. The flood sets to the north, and ebb to the south, and it rises and falls eight foot.
When we went from hence we coasted about two leagues to the southward on the west side of Monmouth Island; and, finding no anchor-ground we stood over to the Bashee Island and came to an anchor on the north-east part of it, against a small sandy bay, in seven fathom clean hard sand and about a quarter of a mile from the shore. Here is a pretty wide channel between these two islands and anchoring all over it. The depth of water is twelve, fourteen, and sixteen fathom.
We presently built a tent ashore to mend our sails in, and stayed all the rest of our time here, namely, from the 13th day of August till the 26th day of September. In which time we mended our sails and scrubbed our ship's bottom very well; and every day some of us went to their towns and were kindly entertained by them. Their boats also came aboard with their merchandise to sell, and lay aboard all day; and if we did not take it off their hands one day they would bring the same again the next.
We had yet the winds at south-west and south-south-west mostly fair weather. In October we did expect the winds to shift to the north-east and therefore we provided to sail (as soon as the eastern monsoon was settled) to cruise off of Manila. Accordingly we provided a stock of provision. We salted seventy or eighty good fat hogs and bought yams and potatoes good store to eat at sea.
About the 24th day of September the winds shifted about to the east, and from thence to the north-east fine fair weather. The 25th it came at north and began to grow fresh, and the sky began to be clouded, and the wind freshened on us.
At twelve a clock at night it blew a very fierce storm. We were then riding with our best bower ahead; and though our yards and top-mast were down yet we drove. This obliged us to let go our sheet-anchor, veering out a good scope of cable, which stopped us till ten or eleven a clock the next day. Then the wind came on so fierce that she drove again, with both anchors ahead. The wind was now at north by W. and we kept driving till three or four a clock in the afternoon: and it was well for us that there were no islands, rocks, or sands in our way, for if there had we must have been driven upon them. We used our utmost endeavours to stop here, being loth to go to sea because we had six of our men ashore who could not get off now. At last we were driven out into deep water, and then it was in vain to wait any longer: therefore we hove in our sheet-cable, and got up our sheet-anchor, and cut away our best bower (for to have heaved her up then would have gone near to have foundered us) and so put to sea. We had very violent weather the night ensuing, with very hard rain, and we were forced to scud with our bare poles till three a clock in the morning. Then the wind slackened and we brought our ship to under a mizzen, and lay with our head to the westward. The 27th day the wind abated much, but it rained very hard all day and the night ensuing. The 28th day the wind came about to the north-east and it cleared up and blew a hard gale, but it stood not there, for it shifted about to the eastward, thence to the south-east, then to the south, and at last settled at south-west, and then we had a moderate gale and fair weather.
It was the 29th day when the wind came to the south-west. Then we made all the sail we could for the island again. The 30th day we had the wind at west and saw the islands but could not get in before night. Therefore we stood off to the southward till two a clock in the morning; then we tacked and stood in all the morning, and about twelve a clock the 1st day of October we anchored again at the place from whence we were driven.
Then our six men were brought aboard by the natives, to whom we gave three whole bars of iron for their kindness and civility, which was an extraordinary present to them. Mr. Robert Hall was one of the men that was left ashore. I shall speak more of him hereafter. He and the rest of them told me that, after the ship was out of sight, the natives began to be more kind to them than they had been before, and persuaded them to cut their hair short, as theirs was, offering to each of them if they would do it a young woman to wife, and a small hatchet and other iron utensils fit for a planter, in dowry; and withal showed them a piece of land for them to manage. They were courted thus by several of the town where they then were: but they took up their headquarters at the house of him with whom they first went ashore. When the ship appeared in sight again then they importuned them for some iron, which is the chief thing that they covet, even above their earrings. We might have bought all their earrings, or other gold they had, with our iron bars, had we been assured of its goodness; and yet when it was touched and compared with other gold we could not discern any difference, though it looked so pale in the lump; but the seeing them polish it so often was a new discouragement.
This last storm put our men quite out of heart: for although it was not altogether so fierce as that which we were in on the coast of China, which was still fresh in memory, yet it wrought more powerfully and frightened them from their design of cruising before Manila, fearing another storm there. Now every man wished himself at home, as they had done a hundred times before: but Captain Read and Captain Teat the master persuaded them to go towards Cape Comorin, and then they would tell them more of their minds, intending doubtless to cruise in the Red Sea; and they easily prevailed with the crew.
The eastern monsoon was now at hand, and the best way had been to go through the Straits of Malacca: but Captain Teat said it was dangerous by reason of many islands and shoals there with which none of us were acquainted. Therefore he thought it best to go round on the east side of the Philippine Islands and so, keeping south toward the Spice Islands, to pass out into the East Indian Ocean about the island Timor.
This seemed to be a very tedious way about, and as dangerous altogether for shoals; but not for meeting with English or Dutch ships, which was their greatest fear. I was well enough satisfied, knowing that the farther we went the more knowledge and experience I should get, which was the main thing that I regarded; and should also have the more variety of places to attempt an escape from them, being fully resolved to take the first opportunity of giving them the slip.
The third day of October 1687 we sailed from these islands, standing to the southward, intending to sail through among the Spice Islands. We had fair weather and the wind at west. We first steered south-south-west and passed close by certain small islands that lie just by the north end of the island Luconia. We left them all on the west of us, and passed on the east side of it and the rest of the Philippine islands, coasting to the southward.
The north-east end of the island Luconia appears to be good champion land, of an indifferent height, plain and even for many leagues; only it has some pretty high hills standing upright by themselves in these plains; but no ridges of hills or chains of mountains joining one to another. The land on this side seems to be most savannah, or pasture: the south-east part is more mountainous and woody.
Leaving the isle Luconia, and with it our golden projects, we sailed onto the southward, passing on the east side of the rest of the Philippine Islands. These appear to be more mountainous and less woody till we came in sight of the island St. John; the first of that name I mentioned: the other I spoke of on the coast of China. This I have already described to be a very woody island. Here the wind coming southerly forced us to keep farther from the islands.
The 14th day of October we came close by a small low woody island that lies east from the south-east end of Mindanao, distant from it about 20 leagues. I do not find it set down in any sea-chart.
The 15th day we had the wind at north-east and we steered west for the island Mindanao, and arrived at the south-east end again on the 16th day. There we went in and anchored between two small islands which lie in about 5 degrees 10 minutes north latitude. I mentioned them when we first came on this coast. Here we found a fine small cove on the north-west end of the easternmost island, fit to careen in or haul ashore; so we went in there and presently unrigged our ship and provided to haul our ship ashore to clean her bottom. These islands are about three or four leagues from the island Mindanao; they are about four or five leagues in circumference and of a pretty good height. The mould is black and deep and there are two small brooks of fresh water.
They are both plentifully stored with great high trees; therefore our carpenters were sent ashore to cut down some of them for our use; for here they made a new boltsprit, which we did set here also, our old one being very faulty. They made a new fore-yard too, and a fore-top-mast: and our pumps being faulty and not serviceable they did cut a tree to make a pump. They first squared it, then sawed it in the middle, and then hollowed each side exactly. The two hollow sides were made big enough to contain a pump box in the midst of them both when they were joined together; and it required their utmost skill to close them exactly to the making a tight cylinder for the pump-box; being unaccustomed to such work. We learnt this way of pump-making from the Spaniards, who make their pumps that they use in their ships in the South Seas after this manner; and I am confident that there are no better hand-pumps in the world than they have.
While we lay here the young prince that I mentioned in the 13th chapter came aboard. He understanding that we were bound farther to the southward desired us to transport him and his men to his own island. He showed it to us in our chart and told us the name of it; which we put down in our chart, for it was not named there; but I quite forgot to put it into my journal.
This man told us that not above six days before this he saw Captain Swan and several of his men that we left there, and named the names of some of them, who he said were all well, and that now they were at the city of Mindanao; but that they had all of them been out with Raja Laut, fighting under him in his wars against his enemies the Alfoores; and that most of them fought with undaunted courage; for which they were highly honoured and esteemed, as well by the sultan as by the general Raja Laut; that now Captain Swan intended to go with his men to Fort St. George and that, in order thereto, he had proffered forty ounces of gold for a ship; but the owner and he were not yet agreed; and that he feared that the sultan would not let him go away till the wars were ended.
All this the prince told us in the Malayan tongue, which many of us had learnt; and when he went away he promised to return to us again in three days' time, and so long Captain Read promised to stay for him (for we had now almost finished our business) and he seemed very glad of the opportunity of going with us.
After this I endeavoured to persuade our men to return with the ship to the river of Mindanao and offer their service again to Captain Swan. I took an opportunity when they were filling of water, there being then half the ship's company ashore; and I found all these very willing to do it. I desired them to say nothing till I had tried the minds of the other half, which I intended to do the next day, it being their turn to fill water then; but one of these men, who seemed most forward to invite back Captain Swan, told Captain Read and Captain Teat of the project, and they presently dissuaded the men from any such designs. Yet fearing the worst they made all possible haste to be gone.
I have since been informed that Captain Swan and his men stayed there a great while afterward; and that many of the men got passages from thence in Dutch sloops to Ternate, particularly Mr. Rofy and Mr. Nelly. There they remained a great while and at last got to Batavia (where the Dutch took their journals from them) and so to Europe; and that some of Captain Swan's men died at Mindanao; of which number Mr. Harthrop and Mr. Smith, Captain Swan's merchants, were two. At last Captain Swan and his surgeon, going in a small canoa aboard of a Dutch ship then in the road, in order to get passage to Europe, were overset by the natives at the mouth of the river; who waited their coming purposely to do it, but unsuspected by them; where they both were killed in the water. This was done by the general's order, as some think, to get his gold, which he did immediately seize on. Others say it was because the general's house was burnt a little before, and Captain Swan was suspected to be the author of it; and others say that it was Captain Swan's threats occasioned his own ruin; for he would often say passionately that he had been abused by the general, and that he would have satisfaction for it; saying also that now he was well acquainted with their rivers, and knew how to come in at any time; that he also knew their manner of fighting and the weakness of their country; and therefore he would go away and get a band of men to assist him, and returning thither again he would spoil and take all that they had and their country too. When the general had been informed of these discourses he would say: “What, is Captain Swan made of iron and able to resist a whole kingdom? Or does he think that we are afraid of him that he speaks thus?” Yet did he never touch him till now the Mindanayans killed him. It is very probable there might be somewhat of truth in all this; for the captain was passionate, and the general greedy of gold. But, whatever was the occasion, so he was killed, as several have assured me, and his gold seized on, and all his things; and his journal also, from England as far as Cape Corrientes on the coast of Mexico. This journal was afterwards sent away from thence by Mr. Moody (who was there both a little before and a little after the murder) and he sent it to England by Mr. Goddard, chief mate of the Defence. THE CLOVE ISLANDS. TERNATE. TIDORE, ETC. But to our purpose: seeing I could not persuade them to go to Captain Swan again I had a great desire to have had the prince's company: but Captain Read was afraid to let his fickle crew lie long. That very day that the prince had promised to return to us, which was November 2 1687, we sailed hence, directing our course south-west and having the wind at north-west.
This wind continued till we came in sight of the island Celebes; then it veered about to the west and to the southward of the west. We came up with the north-east end of the island Celebes the 9th day, and there we found the current setting to the westward so strongly that we could hardly get on the east side of that island. The island Celebes is a very large island, extended in length from north to south about 7 degrees of latitude, and in breadth it is about 3 degrees. It lies under the Equator, the north end being in latitude 1 degree 30 minutes north, and the south end in latitude 5 degrees 30 minutes south, and by common account the north point in the bulk of this island lies nearest north and south, but at the north-east end there runs out a long narrow point stretching north-east about thirty leagues; and about thirty leagues to the eastward of this long slip is the island Gilolo, on the west side of which are four small islands close by it, which are very well stored with cloves. The two chiefest are Ternate and Tidore; and as the isle of Ceylon is reckoned the only place for cinnamon, and that of Banda for nutmegs, so these are thought by some to be the only clove islands in the world; but this is a great error, as I have already shown.
At the south end of the island Celebes there is a sea or gulf of about seven or eight leagues wide and forty or fifty long, which runs up the country almost directly to the north; and this gulf has several small islands along the middle of it. On the west side of the island, almost at the south end of it, the town of Macassar is seated. A town of great strength and trade, belonging to the Dutch.
There are great in lets and lakes on the east side of the island; as also abundance of small islands and shoals lying scattered about it. We saw a high peaked hill at the north end: but the land on the east side is low all along; for we cruised almost the length of it. The mould on this side is black and deep, and extraordinary fat and rich and full of trees: and there are many brooks of water run out into the sea. Indeed all this east side of the island seems to be but one large grove of extraordinary great high trees.
Having with much ado got on this east side, coasting along to the southward, and yet having but little wind, and even that little against us at south-south-west and sometimes calm, we were a long time going about the island.
The 22nd day we were in latitude 1 degree 20 minutes south and, being about three leagues from the island standing to the southward, with a very gentle land-wind, about 2 or 3 a clock in the morning we heard a clashing in the water like boats rowing: and fearing some sudden attack we got up all our arms and stood ready to defend ourselves. As soon as it was day we saw a great proa, built like the Mindanayan proas, with about 60 men in her; and six smaller proas. They lay still about a mile to windward of us to view us; and probably designed to make a prey of us when they first came out; but they were now afraid to venture on us.
At last we showed them Dutch colours, thinking thereby to allure them to come to us: for we could not go to them; but they presently rowed in toward the island and went into a large opening; and we saw them no more; nor did we ever see any other boats or men, but only one fishing canoa while we were about this island; neither did we see any house on all the coast.
About five or six leagues to the south of this place there is a great range of both large and small islands; and many shoals also that are not laid down in our charts; which made it extremely troublesome for us to get through. But we passed between them all and the island Celebes, and anchored against a sandy bay in eight fathom sandy ground, about half a mile from the main island; being then in latitude 1 degree 50 minutes south.
Here we stayed several days and sent out our Canoas a-striking of turtle every day; for here is great plenty of them; but they were very shy, as they were generally wherever we found them in the East India seas. I know not the reason of it unless the natives go very much a-striking here: for even in the West Indies they are shy in places that are much disturbed: and yet on New Holland we found them shy, as I shall relate; though the natives there do not molest them.
On the shoal without us we went and gathered shellfish at low-water. There were a monstrous sort of cockles; the meat of one of them would suffice seven or eight men. It was very good wholesome meat. We did also beat about in the woods on the island but found no game.
One of our men, who was always troubled with sore legs, found a certain vine that supported itself by clinging about other trees. The leaves reach six or seven foot high, but the strings or branches 11 or 12. It had a very green leaf, pretty broad and roundish, and of a thick substance. These leaves pounded small and boiled with hog's lard make an excellent salve. Our men knowing the virtues of it stocked themselves here: there were scarce a man in the ship but got a pound or two of it; especially such as were troubled with old ulcers, who found great benefit by it. This man that discovered these leaves here had his first knowledge of them in the Isthmus of Darien, he having had his recipe from one of the Indians there: and he had been ashore in divers places since purposely to seek these leaves, but did never find any but here.
Among the many vast trees hereabouts there was one exceeded all the rest. This Captain Read caused to be cut down, in order to make a canoa, having lost our boats, all but one small one, in the late storms; so six lusty men who had been log-wood cutters in the Bays of Campeachy and Honduras (as Captain Read himself and many more of us had) and so were very expert at this work, undertook to fell it, taking their turn, three always cutting together; and they were one whole day and half the next before they got it down. This tree, though it grew in a wood, was yet 18 foot in circumference and 44 foot of clean body without knot or branch: and even there it had no more than one or two branches, and then ran clear again 10 foot higher; there it spread itself into many great limbs and branches, like an oak, very green and flourishing: yet it was perished at the heart, which marred it for the service intended.
So leaving it and having no more business here we weighed and went from hence the next day, it being the 29th day of November. While we lay here we had some tornadoes, one or two every day, and pretty fresh land-winds which were at west. The sea-breezes are small and uncertain, sometimes out of the north-east and so veering about to the east and south-east. We had the wind at north-east when we weighed, and we steered off south-south-west. In the afternoon we saw a shoal ahead of us and altered our course to the south-south-east. In the evening at 4 a clock we were close by another great shoal; therefore we tacked and stood in for the island Celebes again, for fear of running on some of the shoals in the night. By day a man might avoid them well enough, for they had all beacons on them like huts built on tall posts, above high-water mark, probably set up by the natives of the island Celebes or those of some other neighbouring islands; and I never saw any such elsewhere. In the night we had a violent tornado out of the south-west which lasted about an hour.
The 30th day we had a fresh land-wind and steered away south, passing between the two shoals which we saw the day before. These shoals lie in latitude 3 degrees south and about ten leagues from the island Celebes. Being past them the wind died away and we lay becalmed till the afternoon: then we had a hard tornado out of the south-west, and towards the evening we saw two or three spouts, the first I had seen since I came into the East Indies; in the West Indies I had often met with them. A spout is a small ragged piece or part of a cloud hanging down about a yard, seemingly from the blackest part thereof. Commonly it hangs down sloping from thence, or sometimes appearing with a small bending, or elbow in the middle. I never saw any hang perpendicularly down. It is small at the lower end, seeming no bigger than one's arm, but still fuller towards the cloud from whence it proceeds.
When the surface of the sea begins to work you shall see the water, for about 100 paces in circumference, foam and move gently round till the whirling motion increases: and then it flies upward in a pillar, about 100 paces in compass at the bottom, but lessening gradually upwards to the smallness of the spout itself, there where it reaches the lower end of the spout, through which the rising seawater seems to be conveyed into the clouds. This visibly appears by the clouds increasing in bulk and blackness. Then you shall presently see the cloud drive along, although before it seemed to be without any motion: the spout also keeping the same course with the cloud, and still sucking up the water as it goes along, and they make a wind as they go. Thus it continues for the space of half an hour, more or less, until the sucking is spent, and then, breaking off, all the water which was below the spout, or pendulous piece of cloud, falls down again into the sea, making a great noise with its fall and clashing motion in the sea.
It is very dangerous for a ship to be under a spout when it breaks, therefore we always endeavour to shun it by keeping at a distance, if possibly we can. But, for want of wind to carry us away, we are often in great fear and danger, for it is usually calm when spouts are at work; except only just where they are. Therefore men at sea, when they see a spout coming and know not how to avoid it, do sometimes fire shot out of their great guns into it, to give it air or vent, that so it may break; but I did never hear that it proved to be of any benefit.
And now being on this subject I think it not amiss to give you an account of an accident that happened to a ship once on the coast of Guinea, some time in or about the year 1674. One Captain Records of London, bound for the coast of Guinea, in a ship of 300 tuns and 16 guns called the Blessing: when he came into the latitude 7 or 8 degrees north he saw several spouts, one of which came directly towards the ship, and he, having no wind to get out of the way of the spout, made ready to receive it by furling his sails. It came on very swift and broke a little before it reached the ship; making a great noise and raising the sea round it, as if a great house or some such thing had been cast into the sea. The fury of the wind still lasted and took the ship on the starboard bow with such violence that it snapped off the boltsprit and foremast both at once, and blew which ship all along, ready to overset it, but the ship did presently right again, and the wind whirling round took the ship a second time with the like fury as before, but on the contrary side, and was again like to overset her the other way. The mizzen-mast felt the fury of this second blast and was snapped short off, as the foremast and boltsprit had been before. The mainmast and main-top-mast received no damage, for the fury of the wind (which was presently over) did not reach them. Three men were in the fore-top when the foremast broke and one on the boltsprit, and fell with them into the sea, but all of them were saved. I had this relation from Mr. John Canby, who was then quartermaster and steward of her; one Abraham Wise was chief mate, and Leonard Jefferies second mate.
We are usually very much afraid of them: yet this was the only damage that ever I heard done by them. They seem terrible enough, the rather because they come upon you while you lie becalmed, like a log in the sea, and cannot get out of their way: but though I have seen and been beset by them often, yet the fright was always the greatest of the harm.
December the 1st we had a gentle gale at east-south-east. We steered south; and at noon I was by observation in latitude 3 degrees 34 minutes south. Then we saw the island Bouton, bearing south-west and about ten leagues distant. We had very uncertain and inconstant winds: the tornadoes came out of the south-west, which was against us; and what other winds we had were so faint that they did us little kindness; but we took the advantage of the smallest gale and got a little way every day. The 4th day at noon I was by observation in latitude 4 degrees 30 minutes south. TURTLE. The 5th day we got close by the north-west end of the island Bouton, and in the evening, it being fair weather, we hoisted out our canoa and sent the Moskito men, of whom we had two or three, to strike turtle, for here are plenty of them; but they being shy we chose to strike them in the night (which is customary in the West Indies also) for every time they come up to breathe, which is once in 8 or 10 minutes, they blow so hard that one may hear them at 30 or 40 yards distance; by which means the striker knows where they are, and may more easily approach them than in the day; for the turtle sees better than he hears; but on the contrary the manatee's hearing is quickest.
In the morning they returned with a very large turtle which they took near the shore; and withal an Indian of the island came aboard with them. He spoke the Malayan language; by which we did understand him. He told us that two leagues farther to the southward of us there was a good harbour in which we might anchor: so, having a fair wind, we got thither by noon.
This harbour is in latitude 4 degrees 54 minutes south; lying on the east side of the island Bouton. Which island lies near the south-east end of the island Celebes, distant from it about three or four leagues. It is of a long form, stretching south-west and north-east above 25 leagues long and 10 broad. It is pretty high land, and appears pretty even and flat and very woody.
There is a large town within a league of the anchoring-place called Callasusung, being the chief, if there were more; which we knew not. It is about a mile from the sea, on the top of a small hill, in a very fair plain, encompassed with coconut-trees. Without the trees there is a strong stone wall clear round the town. The houses are built like the houses at Mindanao; but more neat: and the whole town was very clean and delightsome.
The inhabitants are small and well shaped. They are much like the Mindanayans in shape, colour, and habit; but more neat and tight. They speak the Malayan language and are all Mohammedans. They are very obedient to the sultan, who is a little man about forty or fifty years old, and has a great many wives and children.
About an hour after we came to an anchor the sultan sent a messenger aboard to know what we were and what our business. We gave him an account; and he returned ashore and in a short time after he came aboard again and told us that the sultan was very well pleased when he heard that we were English; and said that we should have anything that the island afforded; and that he himself would come aboard in the morning. Therefore the ship was made clean, and everything put in the best order to receive him.
The 6th day in the morning betimes a great many boats and Canoas came aboard with fowls, eggs, plantains, potatoes, etc., but they would dispose of none till they had orders for it from the sultan at his coming. About 10 a clock the sultan came aboard in a very neat proa, built after the Mindanao fashion. There was a large white silk flag at the head of the mast, edged round with a deep red for about two or three inches broad, and in the middle there was neatly drawn a green griffin trampling on a winged serpent that seemed to struggle to get up and threatened his adversary with open mouth and with a long sting that was ready to be darted into his legs. Other east Indian princes have their devices also.
The sultan with three or four of his nobles and three of his sons sat in the house of the proa. His guards were ten musketeers, five standing on one side of the proa and five on the other side; and before the door of the proa-house stood one with a great broadsword and a target, and two more such at the after-part of the house; and in the head and stern of the proa stood four musketeers more, two at each end.
The sultan had a silk turban laced with narrow gold lace by the sides and broad lace at the end: which hung down on one side the head, after the Mindanayan fashion. He had a sky-coloured silk pair of breeches, and a piece of red silk thrown across his shoulders and hanging loose about him; the greatest part of his back and waist appearing naked. He had neither stocking nor shoe. One of his sons was about 15 or 16 years old, the other two were young things; and they were always in the arms of one or other of his attendants.
Captain Read met him at the side and led him into his small cabin and fired five guns for his welcome. As soon as he came aboard he gave leave to his subjects to traffic with us; and then our people bought what they had a mind to.
The sultan seemed very well pleased to be visited by the English; and said he had coveted to have a sight of Englishmen, having heard extraordinary characters of their just and honourable dealing: but he exclaimed against the Dutch (as all the Mindanayans and all the Indians we met with do) and wished them at a greater distance.
For Macassar is not very far from hence, one of the chiefest towns that the Dutch have in those parts. From thence the Dutch come sometimes hither to purchase slaves. The slaves that these people get here and sell to the Dutch are some of the idolatrous natives of the island who, not being under the sultan, and having no head, live straggling in the country, flying from one place to another to preserve themselves from the prince and his subjects, who hunt after them to make them slaves. For the civilised Indians of the maritime places, who trade with foreigners, if they cannot reduce the inland people to the obedience of their prince, they catch all they can of them and sell them for slaves; accounting them to be but as savages, just as the Spaniards do the poor Americans.
After two or three hours' discourse the sultan went ashore again, and five guns were fired at his departure also. The next day he sent for Captain Read to come ashore, and he with seven or eight men went to wait on the sultan. I could not slip an opportunity of seeing the place and so accompanied them. We were met at the landing-place by two of the chief men, and guided to a pretty neat house where the sultan waited our coming. The house stood at the further end of all the town before mentioned, which we passed through; and abundance of people were gazing on us as we passed by. When we came near the house there were forty poor naked soldiers with muskets made a lane for us to pass through. This house was not built on posts as the rest were, after the Mindanayan way; but the room in which we were entertained was on the ground, covered with mats to sit on. Our entertainment was tobacco and betel-nut and young coconuts; and the house was beset with men and women and children, who thronged to get near the windows to look on us.
We did not tarry above an hour before we took our leaves and departed. This town stands in a sandy soil; but what the rest of the island is I know not, for none of us were ashore but at this place.
The next day the sultan came aboard again and presented Captain Read with a little boy, but he was too small to be serviceable on board; and so Captain Read returned thanks and told him he was too little for him. Then the sultan sent for a bigger boy, which the captain accepted. This boy was a very pretty tractable boy; but what was wonderful in him, he had two rows of teeth, one within another on each jaw. None of the other people were so, nor did I ever see the like. The captain was presented also with two he-goats, and was promised some buffalo, but I do believe that they have but few of either on the island. We did not see any buffalo nor many goats, neither have they much rice, but their chiefest food is roots. We bought here about a thousand pound weight of potatoes.
Here our men bought also abundance of cockatoos and fine large parakeets, curiously coloured and some of them the finest I ever saw. The cockatoo is as big as a parrot and shaped much like it with such a bill; but it is as white as milk, and has a bunch of feathers on his head like a crown. At this place we bought a proa also of the Mindanayan make, for our own use, which our carpenters afterwards altered and made a delicate boat fit for any service. She was sharp at both ends, but we sawed off one and made that end flat, fastening a rudder to it and she rowed and sailed incomparably.
We stayed here but till the 12th day because it was a bad harbour and foul ground, and a bad time of the year too, for the tornadoes began to come in thick and strong. When we went to weigh our anchor it was hooked in a rock, and we broke our cable, and could not get our anchor though we strove hard for it; so we went away and left it there. We had the wind at north-north-east and we steered towards the south-east and fell in with four or five small islands that lie in 5 degrees 40 minutes south latitude and about five or six leagues from Callasusung harbour. These islands appeared very green with coconut-trees, and we saw two or three towns on them, and heard a drum all night, for we were got in among shoals, and could not get out again till the next day. We knew not whether the drum were for fear of us or that they were making merry, as it is usual in these parts to do all the night, singing and dancing till morning.
We found a pretty strong tide here, the flood setting to the southward and the ebb to the northward. These shoals and many other that are not laid down in our charts lie on the south-west side of the islands where we heard the drum, about a league from them. At last we passed between the islands and tried for a passage on the east side. We met with divers shoals on this side also, but found channels to pass through; so we steered away for the island Timor, intending to pass out by it. We had the winds commonly at west-south-west and south-west hard gales and rainy weather.
The 16th day we got clear of the shoals and steered south by east with the wind at west-south-west but veering every half hour, sometimes at south-west and then again at west, and sometimes at north-north-west, bringing much rain with thunder and lightning.
The 20th day we passed by the island Omba which is a pretty high island lying in latitude 8 degrees 20 minutes and not above five or six leagues from the north-east part of the island Timor. It is about 13 or 14 leagues long and five or six leagues wide.
About seven or eight leagues to the west of Omba is another pretty large island, but it had no name in our charts; yet by the situation it should be that which in some maps is called Pentare. We saw on it abundance of smokes by day and fires by night, and a large town on the north side of it, not far from the sea; but it was such bad weather that we did not go ashore.
Between Omba and Pentare and in the mid-channel there is a small low sandy island with great shoals on either side; but there is a very good channel close by Pentare, between that and the shoals about the small isle. We were three days beating off and on, not having a wind, for it was at south-south-west.
The 23rd day in the evening, having a small gale at north, we got through, keeping close by Pentare. The tide of ebb here set out to the southward, by which we were helped through, for we had but little wind. But this tide, which did us a kindness in setting us through, had like to have ruined us afterwards; for there are two small islands lying at the south end of the channel we came through, and towards these islands the tide hurried us so swiftly that we very narrowly escaped being driven ashore; for, the little wind we had before at north dying away, we had not one breath of wind when we came there, neither was there any anchor-ground. But we got out our oars and rowed, yet all in vain; for the tide set wholly on one of these small islands that we were forced with might and main strength to bear off the ship by thrusting with our oars against the shore, which was a steep bank, and by this means we presently drove away clear of danger; and, having a little wind in the night at north, we steered away south-south-west. In the morning again we had the wind at west-south-west and steered south, and the wind coming to the west-north-west we steered south-west to get clear of the south-west end of the island Timor. The 29th day we saw the north-west point of Timor south-east by east distant about eight leagues.
Timor is a long high mountainous island stretching north-east and south-west. It is about 70 leagues long and 15 or 16 wide, the middle of the island is in latitude about 9 degrees south. I have been informed that the Portuguese do trade to this island; but I know nothing of its produce besides coir for making cables, of which there is mention Chapter 10.
The 27th day we saw two small islands which lie near the south-west end of Timor. They bear from us south-east. We had very hard gales of wind and still with a great deal of rain; the wind at west and west-south-west.
Being now clear of all the islands we stood off south, intending to touch at New Holland, a part of Terra Australis Incognita, to see what that country would afford us. Indeed as the winds were we could not now keep our intended course (which was first westerly and then northerly) without going to New Holland unless we had gone back again among the islands: but this was not a good time of the year to be among any islands to the south of the Equator, unless in a good harbour.
The 31st day we were in latitude 13 degrees 20 minutes, still standing to the southward, the wind bearing commonly very hard at west, we keeping upon it under two courses, and our mizzen, and sometimes a main-topsail reefed. About 10 a clock at night we tacked and stood to the northward for fear of running on a shoal which is laid down in our charts in latitude 13 degrees 50 minutes or thereabouts: it bearing south by W. from the east end of Timor; and so the island bore from us by our judgments and reckoning. At 3 a clock we tacked again and stood south by W. and south-south-west.
In the morning as soon as it was day we saw the shoal right ahead: it lies in 13 degrees 50 minutes by all our reckonings. It is a small spit of sand, just appearing above the water's edge, with several rocks about it, eight or ten foot high above water. It lies in a triangular form; each side being about a league and a half. We stemmed right with the middle of it, and stood within half a mile of the rocks and sounded; but found no ground. Then we went about and stood to the north two hours; and then tacked and stood to the southward again, thinking to weather it, but could not. So we bore away on the north side till we came to the east point, giving the rocks a small berth: then we trimmed sharp and stood to the southward, passing close by it, and sounded again but found no ground.
This shoal is laid down in our charts not above 16 or 20 leagues from New Holland; but we did run afterwards 60 leagues due south before we fell in with it; and I am very confident that no part of New Holland hereabouts lies so far northerly by 40 leagues, as it is laid down in our charts. For if New Holland were laid down true we must of necessity have been driven near 40 leagues to the westward of our course; but this is very improbable that the current should set so strong to the westward, seeing we had such a constant westerly wind. I grant that when the monsoon shifts first the current does not presently shift, but runs afterwards near a month; but the monsoon had been shifted at least two months now. But of the monsoons and other winds and of the currents elsewhere in their proper place. As to these here I do rather believe that the land is not laid down true, than that the current deceived us; for it was more probable we should have been deceived before we met with a shoal than afterwards; for on the coast of New Holland we found the tides keeping their constant course; the flood running north by east and the ebb south by east.
The 4th day of January 1688 we fell in with the land of New Holland in the latitude of 16 degrees 50 minutes, having, as I said before, made our course due south from the shoal that we passed by the 31st day of December. We ran in close by it and, finding no convenient anchoring because it lies open to the north-west, we ran along shore to the eastward, steering north-east by east for so the land lies. We steered thus about 12 leagues; and then came to a point of land from whence the land trends east and southerly for 10 or 12 leagues; but how afterwards I know not. About 3 leagues to the eastward of this point there is a pretty deep bay with abundance of islands in it, and a very good place to anchor in or to haul ashore. About a league to the eastward of that point we anchored January the 5th 1688, two mile from the shore in 29 fathom, good hard sand and clean ground.
New Holland is a very large tract of land. It is not yet determined whether it is an island or a main continent; but I am certain that it joins neither to Asia, Africa, nor America. This part of it that we saw is all low even land, with sandy banks against the sea, only the points are rocky, and so are some of the islands in this bay.
The land is of a dry sandy soil, destitute of water except you make wells; yet producing divers sorts of trees; but the woods are not thick, nor the trees very big. Most of the trees that we saw are dragon-trees as we supposed; and these too are the largest trees of any there. They are about the bigness of our large apple-trees, and about the same height; and the rind is blackish and somewhat rough. The leaves are of a dark colour; the gum distils out of the knots or cracks that are in the bodies of the trees. We compared it with some gum-dragon or dragon's blood that was aboard, and it was of the same colour and taste. The other sort of trees were not known by any of us. There was pretty long grass growing under the trees; but it was very thin. We saw no trees that bore fruit or berries.
We saw no sort of animal nor any track of beast but once; and that seemed to be the tread of a beast as big as a great mastiff-dog. Here are a few small land-birds but none bigger than a blackbird; and but few sea-fowls. Neither is the sea very plentifully stored with fish unless you reckon the manatee and turtle as such. Of these creatures there is plenty but they are extraordinary shy; though the inhabitants cannot trouble them much having neither boats nor iron.
The inhabitants of this country are the miserablest people in the world. The Hodmadods of Monomatapa, though a nasty people, yet for wealth are gentlemen to these; who have no houses, and skin garments, sheep, poultry, and fruits of the earth, ostrich eggs, etc., as the Hodmadods have: and, setting aside their human shape, they differ but little from brutes. They are tall, straight-bodied, and thin, with small long limbs. They have great heads, round foreheads, and great brows. Their eyelids are always half closed to keep the flies out of their eyes; they being so troublesome here that no fanning will keep them from coming to one's face; and without the assistance of both hands to keep them off they will creep into one's nostrils and mouth too if the lips are not shut very close; so that, from their infancy being thus annoyed with these insects, they do never open their eyes as other people: and therefore they cannot see far, unless they hold up their heads as if they were looking at somewhat over them.
They have great bottle-noses, pretty full lips, and wide mouths. The two fore-teeth of their upper jaw are wanting in all of them, men and women, old and young; whether they draw them out I know not: neither have they any beards. They are long-visaged, and of a very unpleasing aspect, having no one graceful feature in their faces. Their hair is black, short, and curled like that of the Negroes; and not long and lank like the common Indians. The colour of their skins, both of their faces and the rest of their body, is coal-black like that of the Negroes of Guinea.
They have no sort of clothes but a piece of the rind of a tree, tied like a girdle about their waists, and a handful of long grass, or three or four small green boughs full of leaves thrust under their girdle to cover their nakedness.
They have no houses but lie in the open air without any covering; the earth being their bed, and the heaven their canopy. Whether they cohabit one man to one woman or promiscuously I know not; but they do live in companies, 20 or 30 men, women, and children together. Their only food is a small sort of fish which they get by making weirs of stone across little coves or branches of the sea; every tide bringing in the small fish and there leaving them for a prey to these people who constantly attend there to search for them at low water. This small-fry I take to be the top of their fishery: they have no instruments to catch great fish should they come; and such seldom stay to be left behind at low water: nor could we catch any fish with our hooks and lines all the while we lay there. In other places at low-water they seek for cockles, mussels, and periwinkles: of these shellfish there are fewer still; so that their chiefest dependence is upon what the sea leaves in their weirs; which, be it much or little, they gather up, and march to the places of their abode. There the old people that are not able to stir abroad by reason of their age and the tender infants wait their return; and what providence has bestowed on them they presently broil on the coals and eat it in common. Sometimes they get as many fish as makes them a plentiful banquet; and at other times they scarce get everyone a taste: but be it little or much that they get, everyone has his part, as well the young and tender, the old and feeble, who are not able to go abroad, as the strong and lusty. When they have eaten they lie down till the next low-water, and then all that are able march out, be it night or day, rain or shine, it is all one; they must attend the weirs or else they must fast: for the earth affords them no food at all. There is neither herb, root, pulse, nor any sort of grain for them to eat that we saw; nor any sort of bird or beast that they can catch, having no instruments wherewithal to do so.
I did not perceive that they did worship anything. These poor creatures have a sort of weapon to defend their weir or fight with their enemies if they have any that will interfere with their poor fishery. They did at first endeavour with their weapons to frighten us, who lying ashore deterred them from one of their fishing-places. Some of them had wooden swords, others had a sort of lances. The sword is a piece of wood shaped somewhat like a cutlass. The lance is a long straight pole sharp at one end, and hardened afterwards by heat. I saw no iron nor any other sort of metal; therefore it is probable they use stone-hatchets, as some Indians in America do, described in Chapter IV.
How they get their fire I know not; but probably as Indians do, out of wood. I have seen the Indians of Bon-Airy do it and have myself tried the experiment: they take a flat piece of wood that is pretty soft and make a small dent in one side of it, then they take another hard round stick about the bigness of one's little finger and, sharpening it at one end like a pencil, they put that sharp end in the hole or dent of the flat soft piece, and then rubbing or twirling the hard piece between the palms of their hands they drill the soft piece till it smokes and at last takes fire.
These people speak somewhat through the throat; but we could not understand one word that they said. We anchored, as I said before, January the 5th and, seeing men walking on the shore, we presently sent a canoa to get some acquaintance with them: for we were in hopes to get some provision among them. But the inhabitants, seeing our boat coming, ran away and hid themselves. We searched afterwards three days in hopes to find their houses; but found none: yet we saw many places where they had made fires. At last, being out of hopes to find their habitations, we searched no farther; but left a great many toys ashore in such places where we thought that they would come. In all our search we found no water but old wells on the sandy bays.
At last we went over to the islands and there we found a great many of the natives: I do believe there were 40 on one island, men, women, and children. The men at our first coming ashore threatened us with their lances and swords; but they were frightened by firing one gun which we fired purposely to scare them. The island was so small that they could not hide themselves: but they were much disordered at our landing, especially the women and children: for we went directly to their camp. The lustiest of the women, snatching up their infants, ran away howling, and the little children ran after squeaking and bawling; but the men stood still. Some of the women and such people as could not go from us lay still by a fire, making a doleful noise as if we had been coming to devour them: but when they saw we did not intend to harm them they were pretty quiet, and the rest that fled from us at our first coming returned again. This their place of dwelling was only a fire with a few boughs before it, set up on that side the winds was of.
After we had been here a little while the men began to be familiar and we clothed some of them, designing to have had some service of them for it: for we found some wells of water here, and intended to carry 2 or 3 barrels of it aboard. But it being somewhat troublesome to carry to the Canoas we thought to have made these men to have carried it for us, and therefore we gave them some old clothes; to one an old pair of breeches, to another a ragged shirt, to the third a jacket that was scarce worth owning; which yet would have been very acceptable at some places where we had been, and so we thought they might have been with these people. We put them on them, thinking that this finery would have brought them to work heartily for us; and, our water being filled in small long barrels, about six gallons in each, which were made purposely to carry water in, we brought these our new servants to the wells, and put a barrel on each of their shoulders for them to carry to the canoa. But all the signs we could make were to no purpose for they stood like statues without motion but grinned like so many monkeys staring one upon another: for these poor creatures seem not accustomed to carry burdens; and I believe that one of our ship-boys of 10 years old would carry as much as one of them. So we were forced to carry our water ourselves, and they very fairly put the clothes off again and laid them down, as if clothes were only to work in. I did not perceive that they had any great liking to them at first, neither did they seem to admire anything that we had.
At another time, our canoa being among these islands seeking for game, espied a drove of these men swimming from one island to another; for they have no boats, Canoas, or bark-logs. They took up four of them and brought them aboard; two of them were middle-aged, the other two were young men about 18 or 20 years old. To these we gave boiled rice and with it turtle and manatee boiled. They did greedily devour what we gave them but took no notice of the ship, or anything in it, and when they were set on land again they ran away as fast as they could. At our first coming, before we were acquainted with them or they with us, a company of them who lived on the main came just against our ship, and, standing on a pretty high bank, threatened us with their swords and lances by shaking them at us: at last the captain ordered the drum to be beaten, which was done of a sudden with much vigour, purposely to scare the poor creatures. They hearing the noise ran away as fast as they could drive; and when they ran away in haste they would cry “Gurry, gurry,” speaking deep in the throat. Those inhabitants also that live on the main would always run away from us; yet we took several of them. For, as I have already observed, they had such bad eyes that they could not see us till we came close to them. We did always give them victuals and let them go again, but the islanders, after our first time of being among them, did not stir for us.
When we had been here about a week we hauled our ship into a small sandy cove at a spring tide as far as she would float; and at low-water she was left dry and the sand dry without us near half a mile; for the sea rises and falls here about five fathom. The flood runs north by east and the ebb south by W. All the neap tides we lay wholly aground, for the sea did not come near us by about a hundred yards. We had therefore time enough to clean our ship's bottom which we did very well. Most of our men lay ashore in a tent where our sails were mending; and our strikers brought home turtle and manatee every day, which was our constant food.
While we lay here I did endeavour to persuade our men to go to some English factory; but was threatened to be turned ashore and left here for it. This made me desist and patiently wait for some more convenient place and opportunity to leave them than here: which I did hope I should accomplish in a short time; because they did intend, when they went from hence, to bear down towards Cape Comorin. In their way thither they designed also to visit the island Cocos which lies in latitude 12 degrees 12 minutes north, by our charts; hoping there to find of that fruit; the island having its name from thence.
March the 12th 1688 we sailed from New Holland with the wind at north-north-west and fair weather. We directed our course to the northward, intending, as I said, to touch at the island Cocos: but we met with the winds at north-west, west-north-west, and north-north-west for several days; which obliged us to keep a more easterly course than was convenient to find that island. We had soon after our setting out very bad weather with much thunder and lightning, rain and high blustering winds.
It was the 26th day of March before we were in the latitude of the island Cocos which is in 12 degrees 12 minutes and then, by judgment, we were 40 or 50 leagues to the east of it; and the wind was now at south-west. Therefore we did rather choose to bear away towards some islands on the west side of Sumatra than to beat against the wind for the island Cocos. I was very glad of this; being in hopes to make my escape from them to Sumatra or to some other place. We met nothing of remark in this voyage beside the catching two great sharks till the 28th day. Then we fell in with a small woody island in latitude 10 degrees 20 minutes. Its longitude from New Holland, from whence we came, was by my account 12 degrees 6 minutes west. It was deep water about the island, and therefore no anchoring; but we sent two Canoas ashore; one of them with the carpenters to cut a tree to make another pump; the other canoa went to search for fresh water and found a fine small brook near the south-west point of the island; but there the sea fell in on the shore so high that they could not get it off. At noon both our Canoas returned aboard; and the carpenters brought aboard a good tree which they afterwards made a pump with, such a one as they made at Mindanao. The other canoa brought aboard as many boobies and men-of-war birds as sufficed all the ship's company when they were boiled.
They got also a sort of land animal somewhat resembling a large crawfish without its great claws. These creatures lived in holes in the dry sandy ground like rabbits. Sir Francis Drake in his Voyage round the World makes mention of such that he found at Ternate, or some other of the Spice Islands, or near them. They were very good sweet meat and so large that two of them were more than a man could eat; being almost as thick as one's leg. Their shells were of a dark brown but red when boiled.
This island is of a good height, with steep cliffs against the south and south-west, and a sandy bay on the north side; but very deep water steep to the shore. The mould is blackish, the soil fat, producing large trees of divers sorts.
About one a clock in the afternoon we made sail from this island with the wind at south-west and we steered north-west. Afterwards the winds came about at north-west and continued between the west-north-west and the north-north-west several days. I observed that the winds blew for the most part out of the west or north-west and then we had always rainy weather with tornadoes, and much thunder and lightning; but when the wind came any way to the southward it blew but faint and brought fair weather.
We met nothing of remark till the 7th day of April, and then, being in latitude 7 degrees south, we saw the land of Sumatra at a great distance, bearing north. The 8th day we saw the east end of the island Sumatra very plainly; we being then in latitude 6 degrees south. The 10th day, being in latitude 5 degrees 11 minutes and about seven or eight leagues from the island Sumatra on the west side of it, we saw abundance of coconuts swimming in the sea; and we hoisted out our boat and took up some of them; as also a small hatch, or scuttle rather, belonging to some bark. The nuts were very sound, and the kernel sweet, and in some the milk or water in them and was yet sweet and good.
The 12th day we came to a small island called Triste in latitude (by observation) 4 degrees south; it is about 14 or 15 leagues to the west of the island Sumatra. From hence to the northward there are a great many small uninhabited islands lying much at the same distance from Sumatra. This island Triste is not a mile round and so low that the tide flows clear over it. It is of a sandy soil and full of coconut-trees. The nuts are but small; yet sweet enough, full, and more ponderous than I ever felt any of that bigness; notwithstanding that every spring tide the salt-water goes clear over the island.
We sent ashore our Canoas for coconuts and they returned aboard laden with them three times. Our strikers also went out and struck some fish which was boiled for supper. They also killed two young alligators which we salted for the next day.
I had no opportunity at this place to make any escape as I would have done and gone over hence to Sumatra, could I have kept a boat to me. But there was no compassing this; and so the 15th day we went from hence, steering to the northward on the west side of Sumatra. Our food now was rice and the meat of the coconuts rasped and steeped in water; which made a sort of milk into which we did put our rice, making a pleasant mess enough. After we parted from Triste we saw other small islands that were also full of coconut-trees.
The 19th day, being in latitude 3 degrees 25 minutes south, the south-west point of the island Nassau bore north about five miles distant. This is a pretty large uninhabited island in latitude 3 degrees 20 minutes south and is full of high trees. About a mile from the island Nassau there is a small island full of coconut-trees. There we anchored the 29th day to replenish our stock of coconuts. A reef of rocks lies almost round this island so that our boats could not go ashore nor come aboard at low-water; yet we got aboard four boat-load of nuts. This island is low like Triste and the anchoring is on the north side; where you have 14 fathom a mile from shore, clean sand.
The 21st day we went from hence and kept to the northward, coasting still on the west side of the island Sumatra; and having the winds between the west and south-south-west with unsettled weather; sometimes rains and tornadoes, and sometimes fair weather.
The 25th day we crossed the Equator, still coasting to the northward between the island Sumatra and a range of small islands lying 14 or 15 leagues off it. Amongst all these islands Hog Island is the most considerable. It lies in latitude 3 degrees 40 minutes north. It is pretty high even land, clothed with tall flourishing trees; we passed it by the 28th day.
The 29th we saw a sail to the north of us which we chased: but it being little wind we did not come up with her till the 30th day. Then, being within a league of her, Captain Read went into a canoa and took her and brought her aboard. She was a proa with four men in her, belonging to Achin, whither she was bound. She came from one of these coconut islands that we passed by and was laden with coconuts and coconut-oil. Captain Read ordered his men to take aboard all the nuts and as much of the oil as he thought convenient, and then cut a hole in the bottom of the proa and turned her loose, keeping the men prisoners.
It was not for the lucre of the cargo that Captain Read took this boat but to hinder me and some others from going ashore; for he knew that we were ready to make our escapes if an opportunity presented itself; and he thought that by abusing and robbing the natives we should be afraid to trust ourselves among them. But yet this proceeding of his turned to our great advantage, as shall be declared hereafter.
May the 1st we ran down by the north-west end of the island Sumatra, within seven or eight leagues of the shore. All this west side of Sumatra which we thus coasted along our Englishmen at Fort St. George call the West Coast simply, without adding the name of Sumatra. The prisoners who were taken the day before showed us the islands that lie off of Achin Harbour, and the channels through with ships go in; and told us that there was an English factory at Achin. I wished myself there but was forced to wait with patience till my time was come.
We were now directing our course towards the Nicobar Islands, intending there to clean the ship's bottom in order to make her sail well.
The 14th day in the evening we had sight of one of the Nicobar Islands. The southernmost of them lies about 40 leagues north-north-west from the north-west end of the island Sumatra. This most southerly of them is Nicobar itself, but all the cluster of islands lying south of the Andaman Islands are called by our seamen the Nicobar Islands.
The inhabitants of these islands have no certain converse with any nation; but as ships pass by them they will come aboard in their proas and offer their commodities to sale, never enquiring of what nation they are; for all white people are alike to them. Their chiefest commodities are ambergris and fruits.
Ambergris is often found by the native Indians of these islands who know it very well; as also know how to cheat ignorant strangers with a certain mixture like it. Several of our men bought such of them for a small purchase. Captain Weldon also about this time touched at some of these islands to the north of the island where we lay; and I saw a great deal of such ambergris that one of his men bought there; but it was not good, having no smell at all. Yet I saw some there very good and fragrant.
At that island where Captain Weldon was there were two friars sent thither to convert the Indians. One of them came away with Captain Weldon; the other remained there still. He that came away with Captain Weldon gave a very good character of the inhabitants of that island, namely, that they were very honest, civil, harmless people; that they were not addicted to quarrelling, theft, or murder; that they did marry or at least live as man and wife, one man with one woman, never changing till death made the separation; that they were punctual and honest in performing their bargains; and that they were inclined to receive the Christian religion. This relation I had afterwards from the mouth of a priest at Tonquin who told me that he received this information by a letter from the friar that Captain Weldon brought away from thence. But to proceed.
The 5th day of May we ran down on the west side of the island Nicobar properly so-called and anchored at the north-west end of it in a small bay in eight fathom water not half a mile from the shore. The body of this island is in 7 degrees 30 minutes north latitude. It is about 12 leagues long, and 3 or 4 broad.
The south end of it is pretty high with steep cliffs against the sea; the rest of the island is low, flat, and even. The mould of it is black and deep; and it is very well watered with small running streams. It produces abundance of tall trees fit for any uses; for the whole bulk of it seems to be but one entire grove. But that which adds most to its beauty off at sea are the many spots of coconut-trees which grow round it in every small bay. The bays are half a mile or a mile long, more or less; and these bays are intercepted or divided from each other with as many little rocky points of woodland.
As the coconut-trees do thus grow in groves fronting to the sea in the bays, so there is another sort of fruit-trees in the bays bordering on the back side of the coconut-trees, farther from the sea. It is called by the natives a melory-tree. This tree is as big as our large apple-trees and as high. It has a blackish rind and a pretty broad leaf. The fruit is as big as the breadfruit at Guam, described in Chapter 10, or a large penny loaf. It is shaped like a pear and has a pretty tough smooth rind of a light green colour. The inside of the fruit is in substance much like an apple but full of small strings as big as a brown thread. I did never see of these trees anywhere but here.
The natives of this island are tall well-limbed men; pretty long-visaged, with black eyes; their noses middle proportioned, and the whole symmetry of their faces agreeing very well. Their hair is black and lank, and their skins of a dark copper colour. The women have no hair on their eyebrows. I do believe it is plucked up by the roots; for the men had hair growing on their eyebrows as other people.
The men go all naked save only a long narrow piece of cloth or sash which, going round their waists and thence down between their thighs, is brought up behind and tucked in at that part which goes about the waist. The women have a kind of a short petticoat reaching from their waist to their knees.
Their language was different from any that I had ever heard before; yet they had some few Malayan words, and some of them had a word or two of Portuguese; which probably they might learn aboard of their ships, passing by this place: for when these men see a sail they do presently go aboard of them in their Canoas. I did not perceive any form of religion that they had; they had neither temple nor idol nor any manner of outward veneration to any deity that I did see.
They inhabit all round the island by the seaside in the bays; there being four or five houses more or less in each bay. Their houses are built on posts as the Mindanayans are. They are small, low, and of a square form. There is but one room in each house, and this room is about eight foot from the ground; and from thence the roof is raised about eight foot higher. But instead of a sharp ridge the top is exceeding neatly arched with small rafters about the bigness of a man's arm, bent round like a half moon, and very curiously thatched with palmetto-leaves.
They live under no government that I could perceive; for they seem to be equal without any distinction; every man ruling in his own house. Their plantations are only those coconut-trees which grow by the seaside; there being no cleared land farther in on the island: for I observed that when past the fruit-trees there were no paths to be seen going into the woods. The greatest use which they make of their coconut-trees is to draw toddy from them, of which they are very fond.
The melory-trees seem to grow wild; they have great earthen pots to boil the melory fruit in which will hold 12 or 14 gallons. These pots they fill with the fruit; and, putting in a little water, they cover the mouth of the pot with leaves to keep the steam while it boils. When the fruit is soft they peel off the rind and scrape the pulp from the strings with a flat stick made like a knife; and then make it up in great lumps as big as a Holland cheese; and then it will keep six or seven days. It looks yellow, and tastes well, and is their chiefest food: for they have no yams, potatoes, rice, nor plantains (except a very few) yet they have a few small hogs and a very few cocks and hens like ours. The men employ themselves in fishing; but I did not see much fish that they got: every house has at least two or three Canoas belonging to it, which they draw up ashore.
The Canoas that they go a-fishing in are sharp at both ends; and both the sides and the bottom are very thin and smooth. They are shaped somewhat like the proas at Guam with one side flattish and the other with a pretty big belly; and they have small slight outlayers on one side. Being thus thin and light they are better managed with oars than with sails: yet they sail well enough and steered with a paddle. There commonly go 20 or 30 men in one of these Canoas; and seldom fewer than 9 or 10. Their oars are short and they do not paddle but row with them as we do. The benches they sit on when they row are made of split bamboos, laid across and so neat together that they look like a deck. The bamboos lie movable so that when any go in to row they take up a bamboo in the place where they would sit and lay it by to make room for their legs. The Canoas of those of the rest of these islands were like those of Nicobar; and probably they were alike in other things; for we saw no different at all in the natives of them who came hither while we were here.
But to proceed with our affairs: it was, as I said before, the 5th day of May about 10 in the morning when we anchored at this island: Captain Read immediately ordered his men to heel the ship in order to clean her: which was done this day and the next. All the water vessels were filled. They intended to go to sea at night: for, the winds being yet at north-north-east, the captain was in hopes to get over to Cape Comorin before the wind shifted. Otherwise it would have been somewhat difficult for him to get thither because the westerly monsoon was not at hand.
I thought now was my time to make my escape by getting leave if possible to stay here: for it seemed not very feasible to do it by stealth; and I had no reason to despair of getting leave: this being a place where my stay could probably do our crew no harm should I design it. Indeed one reason that put me on the thoughts of staying at this particular place, besides the present opportunity of leaving Captain Read, which I did always intend to do as soon as I could, was that I had here also a prospect of advancing a profitable trade for ambergris with these people, and of gaining a considerable fortune to myself: for in a short time I might have learned their language and, by accustoming myself to row with them in the proas or Canoas, especially by conforming myself to their customs and manners of living, I should have seen how they got their ambergris, and have known what quantities they get, and the time of the year when most is found. And then afterwards I thought it would be easy for me to have transported myself from thence, either in some ship that passed this way, whether English, Dutch, or Portuguese; or else to have gotten one of the young men of the island to have gone with me in one of their Canoas to Achin; and there to have furnished myself with such commodities as I found most coveted by them; and therewith at my return to have bought their ambergris.
I had till this time made no open show of going ashore here: but now, the water being filled and the ship in a readiness to sail, I desired Captain Read to set me ashore on this island. He, supposing that I could not go ashore in a place less frequented by ships than this, gave me leave: which probably he would have refused to have done if he thought I should have gotten from hence in any short time; for fear of my giving an account of him to the English or Dutch. I soon got up my chest and bedding and immediately got some to row me ashore; for fear lest his mind should change again.
The canoa that brought me ashore landed me on a small sandy bay where there were two houses but no person in them. For the inhabitants were removed to some other house, probably for fear of us because the ship was close by: and yet both men and women came aboard the ship without any sign of fear. When our ship's canoa was going aboard again they met the owner of the houses coming ashore in his boat. He made a great many signs to them to fetch me off again: but they would not understand him. Then he came to me and offered his boat to carry me off; but I refused it. Then he made signs for me to go up into the house and, according as I did understand him by his signs and a few Malayan words that he used, he intimated that somewhat would come out of the woods in the night when I was a sleep and kill me, meaning probably some wild beast. Then I carried my chest and clothes up into the house.
I had not been ashore an hour before Captain Teat and one John Damarel, with three or four armed men more, came to fetch me aboard again. They need not have sent an armed posse for me; for had they but sent the cabin-boy ashore for me I would not have denied going aboard. For though I could have hid myself in the woods yet then they would have abused or have killed some of the natives, purposely to incense them against me. I told them therefore that I was ready to go with them and went aboard with all my things.
When I came aboard I found the ship in an uproar; for there were three men more who, taking courage by my example, desired leave also to accompany me. One of them was the surgeon Mr. Coppinger, the other was Mr. Robert Hall, and one named Ambrose; I have forgot his surname. These men had always harboured the same designs as I had. The two last were not much opposed; but Captain Read and his crew would not part with the surgeon. At last the surgeon leapt into the canoa and, taking up my gun, swore he would go ashore, and that if any man did oppose it he would shoot him: but John Oliver, who was then quartermaster, leapt into the canoa, taking hold of him took away the gun and, with the help of two or three more, they dragged him again into the ship.
Then Mr. Hall and Ambrose and I were again sent ashore; and one of the men that rowed us ashore stole an axe and gave it to us, knowing it was a good commodity with the Indians. It was now dark, therefore we lighted a candle and I, being the oldest stander in our new country, conducted them into one of the houses, where we did presently hang up our hammocks. We had scarce done this before the canoa came ashore again and brought the four Malayan men belonging to Achin (which we took in the proa we took off of Sumatra) and the Portuguese that came to our ship out of the Siam junk at Pulo Condore: the crew having no occasion for these, being leaving the Malayan parts, where the Portuguese spark served as an interpreter; and not fearing now that the Achinese could be serviceable to us in bringing us over to their country, forty leagues off; nor imagining that we durst make such an attempt, as indeed it was a bold one. Now we were men enough to defend ourselves against the natives of this island if they should prove our enemies: though if none of these men had come ashore to me I should not have feared any danger: nay perhaps less because I should have been cautious of giving any offence to the natives. And I am of the opinion that there are no people in the world so barbarous as to kill a single person that falls accidentally into their hands or comes to live among them; except they have before been injured by some outrage or violence committed against them. Yet even then, or afterwards if a man could but preserve his life from their first rage, and come to treat with them (which is the hardest thing because their way is usually to abscond and, rushing suddenly upon their enemy, to kill him at unawares) one might by some slight insinuate one's self into their favours again; especially by showing some toy or knack that they did never see before: which any European that has seen the world might soon contrive to amuse them withal: as might be done generally, even with a lit fire struck with a flint and steel.
As for the common opinion of anthropophagi, or man-eaters, I did never meet any such people: all nations or families in the world, that I have seen or heard of, having some sort of food to live on either fruit, grain, pulse, or roots, which grow naturally, or else planted by them; if not fish and land animals besides (yea even the people of New Holland had fish amidst all their penury) and would scarce kill a man purposely to eat him. I know not what barbarous customs may formerly have been in the world; and to sacrifice their enemies to their gods is a thing has been much talked of with relation to the savages of America. I am a stranger to that also if it be or have been customary in any nation there; and yet, if they sacrifice their enemies it is not necessary they should eat them too. After all I will not be peremptory in the negative, but I speak as to the compass of my own knowledge and know some of these cannibal stories to be false, and many of them have been disproved since I first went to the West Indies. At that time how barbarous were the poor Florida Indians accounted which now we find to be civil enough? What strange stories have we heard of the Indians whose islands were called the Isles of Cannibals? Yet we find that they do trade very civilly with the French and Spaniards; and have done so with us. I do own that they have formerly endeavoured to destroy our plantations at Barbados, and have since hindered us from settling in the island Santa Loca by destroying two or three colonies successively of those that were settled there; and even the island Tobago has been often annoyed and ravaged by them when settled by the Dutch, and still lies waste (though a delicate fruitful island) as being too near the Caribbees on the continent, who visit it every year. But this was to preserve their own right by endeavouring to keep out any that would settle themselves on those islands where they had planted themselves; yet even these people would not hurt a single person, as I have been told by some that have been prisoners among them. I could instance also in the Indians of Boca Toro and Boca Drago, and many other places where they do live, as the Spaniards call it, wild and savage: yet there they have been familiar with privateers, but by abuses have withdrawn their friendship again. As for these Nicobar people I found them affable enough, and therefore I did not fear them; but I did not much care whether I had gotten any more company or no.
But however I was very well satisfied, and the rather because we were now men enough to row ourselves over to the island Sumatra; and accordingly we presently consulted how to purchase a canoa of the natives.
It was a fine clear moonlight night in which we were left ashore. Therefore we walked on the sandy bay to watch when the ship would weigh and be gone, not thinking ourselves secure in our new-gotten liberty till then. About eleven or twelve a clock we saw her under sail and then we returned to our chamber and so to sleep. This was the 6th of May.
The next morning be times our landlord with four or five of his friends came to see his new guests, and was somewhat surprised to see so many of us for he knew of no more but myself. Yet he seemed to be very well pleased and entertained us with a large calabash of toddy, which he brought with him.
Before he went away again (for wheresoever we came they left their houses to us, but whether out of fear or superstition I know not) we bought a canoa of him for an axe, and we did presently put our chests and clothes in it, designing to go to the south end of the island and lie there till the monsoon shifted, which we expected every day.
When our things were stowed away we with the Achinese entered with joy into our new frigate and launched off from the shore. We were no sooner off but our canoa overset, bottom upwards. We preserved our lives well enough by swimming and dragged also our chests and clothes ashore; but all our things were wet. I had nothing of value but my journal and some draughts of land of my own taking which I much prized, and which I had hitherto carefully preserved. Mr. Hall had also such another cargo of books and draughts which were now like to perish. But we presently opened our chests and took out our books which, with much ado, we did afterwards dry; but some of our draughts that lay loose in our chests were spoiled.
We lay here afterwards three days, making great fires to dry our books. The Achinese in the meantime fixed our canoa with outlayers on each side; and they also cut a good mast for her and made a substantial sail with mats.
The canoa being now very well fixed, and our books and clothes dry, we launched out a second time and rowed towards the east side of the island, leaving many islands to the north of us. The Indians of the island accompanied us with eight or ten Canoas against our desire; for we thought that these men would make provision dearer at that side of the island we were going to by giving an account what rates we gave for it at the place from whence we came, which was owing to the ship's being there; for the ship's crew were not so thrifty in bargaining (as they seldom are) as single persons or a few men might be apt to be, who would keep to one bargain. Therefore to hinder them from going with us Mr. Hall scared one canoa's crew by firing a shot over them. They all leapt overboard and cried out but, seeing us row away, they got into their canoa again and came after us.
The firing of that gun made all the inhabitants of the island to be our enemies. For presently after this we put ashore at a bay where were four houses and a great many Canoas: but they all went away and came near us no more for several days. We had then a great loaf of melory which was our constant food; and if we had a mind to coconuts or toddy our Malayans of Achin would climb the trees and fetch as many nuts as we would have, and a good pot of toddy every morning. Thus we lived till our melory was almost spent; being still in hopes that the natives would come to us and sell it as they had formerly done. But they came not to us; nay they opposed us wherever we came and, often shaking their lances at us, made all the show of hatred that they could invent.
At last when we saw that they stood in opposition to us we resolved to use force to get some of their food if we could not get it other ways. With this resolution we went into our canoa to a small bay on the north part of the island because it was smooth water there and good landing; but on the other side, the wind being yet on the quarter, we could not land without jeopardy of oversetting our canoa and wetting our arms, and then we must have lain at the mercy of our enemies who stood 2 or 300 men in every bay where they saw us coming to keep us off.
When we set out we rowed directly to the north end and presently were followed by seven or eight of their Canoas. They keeping at a distance rowed away faster than we did and got to the bay before us; and there, with about 20 more Canoas full of men, they all landed and stood to hinder us from landing. But we rowed in within a hundred yards of them. Then we lay still and I took my gun and presented at them; at which they all fell down flat on the ground. But I turned myself about and, to show that we did not intend to harm them, I fired my gun off towards the sea; so that they might see the shot graze on the water. As soon as my gun was loaded again we rowed gently in; at which some of them withdrew. The rest standing up did still cut and hew the air, making signs of their hatred; till I once more frightened them with my gun and discharged it as before. Then more of them sneaked away, leaving only five or six men on the bay. Then we rowed in again and Mr. Hall, taking his sword in his hand, leapt ashore; and I stood ready with my gun to fire at the Indians if they had injured him: but they did not stir till he came to them and saluted them.
He shook them by the hand, and by such signs of friendship as he made the peace was concluded, ratified, and confirmed by all that were present: and others that were gone were again called back, and they all very joyfully accepted of a peace. This became universal over all the island to the great joy of the inhabitants. There was no ringing of bells nor bonfires made, for that it is not the custom here; but gladness appeared in their countenances, for now they could go out and fish again without fear of being taken. This peace was not more welcome to them than to us; for now the inhabitants brought their melory again to us; which we bought for old rags and small strips of cloth about as broad as the palm of one's hand. I did not see above five or six hens, for they have but few on the island. At some places we saw some small hogs which we could have bought of them reasonably; but we could not offend our Achinese friends who were Mohammedans.
We stayed here two or three days and then rowed toward the south end of the island, keeping on the east side, and we were kindly received by the natives wherever we came. When we arrived at the south end of the island we fitted ourselves with melory and water. We bought three or four loaves of melory and about twelve large coconut-shells that had all the kernel taken out, yet were preserved whole, except only a small hole at one end; and all these held for us about three gallons and a half of water. We bought also two or three bamboos that held about four or five gallons more: this was our sea-store.
We now designed to go for Achin, a town on the north-west end of the island Sumatra, distant from hence about 40 leagues, bearing south-south-west. We only waited for the western monsoon, which we had expected a great while, and now it seemed to be at hand; for the clouds began to hang their heads to the eastward, and at last moved gently that way; and though the wind was still at east, yet this was an infallible sign that the western monsoon was nigh.
It was the 15th day of May 1688 about four a clock in the afternoon when we left Nicobar Island, directing our course towards Achin, being eight men of us in company, namely, three English, four Malayans, who were born at Achin, and the mongrel Portuguese.
Our vessel, the Nicobar canoa, was not one of the biggest nor of the least size: she was much about the burden of one of our London wherries below bridge, and built sharp at both ends like the fore part of a wherry. She was deeper than a wherry, but not so broad, and was so thin and light that when empty four men could launch her or haul her ashore on a sandy bay. We had a good substantial mast and a mat sail, and good outlayers lashed very fast and firm on each side the vessel, being made of strong poles. So that while these continued firm the vessel could not overset which she should easily have done without them, and with them too had they not been made very strong; and we were therefore much beholden to our Achinese companions for this contrivance. These men were none of them so sensible of the danger as Mr. Hall and myself, for they all confided so much in us that they did not so much as scruple anything that we did approve of. Neither was Mr. Hall so well provided as I was, for before we left the ship I had purposely consulted our chart of the East Indies (for we had but one in the ship) and out of that I had written in my pocket-book an account of the bearing and distance of all the Malacca coast and that of Sumatra, Pegu, and Siam, and also brought away with me a pocket-compass for my direction in any enterprise that I should undertake. The weather at our setting out was very fair, clear and hot. The wind was still at south-east, a very small breeze just fanning the air, and the clouds were moving gently from west to east, which gave us hopes that the winds were either at west already abroad at sea, or would be so in a very short time. We took this opportunity of fair weather, being in hopes to accomplish our voyage to Achin before the western monsoon was set in strong, knowing that we should have very blustering weather after this fair weather, especially at the first coming of the western monsoon.
We rowed therefore away to the southward, supposing that when we were clear from the island we should have a true wind, as we call it; for the land hauls the wind; and we often find the wind at sea different from what it is near the shore. We rowed with four oars taking our turns: Mr. Hall and I steered also by turns, for none of the rest were capable of it. We rowed the first afternoon and the night ensuing about twelve leagues by my judgment. Our course was south-south-east; but the 16th day in the morning, when the sun was an hour high, we saw the island from whence we came bearing N. W. by north. Therefore I found we had gone a point more to the east than I intended for which reason we steered south by east.
In the afternoon at 4 a clock we had a gentle breeze at west-south-west which continued so till nine, all which time we laid down our oars and steered away south-south-east. I was then at the helm and I found by the rippling of the sea that there was a strong current against us. It made a great noise that might be heard near half a mile. At 9 a clock it fell calm, and so continued till ten. Then the wind sprang up again and blew a fresh breeze all night.
The 17th day in the morning we looked out for the island Sumatra, supposing that we were now within 20 leagues of it; for we had rowed and sailed by our reckoning 24 leagues from Nicobar Island; and the distance from Nicobar to Achin is about 40 leagues. But we looked in vain for the island Sumatra; for, turning ourselves about, we saw to our grief Nicobar Island lying west-north-west and not above eight leagues distant. By this it was visible that we had met a very strong current against us in the night. But the wind freshened on us and we made the best use of it while the weather continued fair. At noon we had an observation of the sun, my latitude was 6 degrees 55 minutes and Mr. Hall's was 7 degrees north.
The 18th day the wind freshened on us again and the sky began to be clouded. It was indifferent clear till noon and we thought to have had an observation; but we were hindered by the clouds that covered the face of the sun when it came on the meridian. This often happens that we are disappointed of making observations by the sun's being clouded at noon though it shines clear both before and after, especially in places near the sun; and this obscuring of the sun at noon is commonly sudden and unexpected, and for about half an hour or more.
We had then also a very ill presage by a great circle about the sun (five or six times the diameter of it) which seldom appears but storms of wind or much rain ensue. Such circles about the moon are more frequent but of less import. We do commonly take great notice of these that are about the sun, observing if there be any breach in the circle, and in what quarter the breach is; for from thence we commonly find the greatest stress of the wind will come. I must confess that I was a little anxious at the sight of this circle and wished heartily that we were near some land. Yet I showed no sign of it to discourage any consorts, but made a virtue of necessity and put a good countenance on the matter.
I told Mr. Hall that if the wind became too strong and violent, as I feared it would, it being even then very strong, we must of necessity steer away before the wind and sea till better weather presented; and that as the winds were now we should, instead of about twenty leagues to Achin, be driven sixty or seventy leagues to the coast of Cudda or Queda, a kingdom and town and harbour of trade on the coast of Malacca. The winds therefore bearing very hard we rolled up the foot of our sail on a pole fastened to it, and settled our yard within three foot of the canoa sides so that we had now but a small sail; yet it was still too big considering the wind; for the wind being on our broadside pressed her down very much, though supported by her outlayers; insomuch that the poles of the outlayers going from the sides of their vessel bent as if they would break; and should they have broken our overturning and perishing had been inevitable. Besides the sea increasing would soon have filled the vessel this way. Yet thus we made a shift to bear up with the side of the vessel against the wind for a while: but the wind still increasing about one a clock in the afternoon we put away right before wind and sea, continuing to run thus all the afternoon and part of the night ensuing. The wind continued increasing all the afternoon, and the sea still swelled higher and often broke, but did us no damage; for the ends of the vessel being very narrow he that steered received and broke the sea on his back, and so kept it from coming in so much as to endanger the vessel: though much water would come in which we were forced to keep heaving out continually. And by this time we saw it was well that we had altered our course, every wave would else have filled and sunk us, taking the side of the vessel: and though our outlayers were well lashed down to the canoa's bottom with rattans, yet they must probably have yielded to such a sea as this; when even before they were plunged under water and bent like twigs.
The evening of this 18th day was very dismal. The sky looked very black, being covered with dark clouds, the wind blew hard and the seas ran high. The sea was already roaring in a white foam about us; a dark night coming on and no land in sight to shelter us, and our little ark in danger to be swallowed by every wave; and, what was worst of all, none of us thought ourselves prepared for another world. The reader may better guess than I can express the confusion that we were all in. I had been in many imminent dangers before now, some of which I have already related, but the worst of them all was but a play-game in comparison with this. I must confess that I was in great conflicts of mind at this time. Other dangers came not upon me with such a leisurely and dreadful solemnity. A sudden skirmish or engagement or so was nothing when one's blood was up and pushed forwards with eager expectations. But here I had a lingering view of approaching death and little or no hopes of escaping it; and I must confess that my courage, which I had hitherto kept up, failed me here; and I made very sad reflections on my former life, and looked back with horror and detestation on actions which before I disliked but now I trembled at the remembrance of. I had long before this repented me of that roving course of life but never with such concern as now. I did also call to mind the many miraculous acts of God's providence towards me in the whole course of my life, of which kind I believe few men have met with the like. For all these I returned thanks in a peculiar manner, and this once more desired God's assistance, and composed my mind as well as I could in the hopes of it, and as the event showed I was not disappointed of my hopes. Submitting ourselves therefore to God's good providence and taking all the care we could to preserve our lives, Mr. Hall and I took turns to steer and the rest took turns to heave out the water, and thus we provided to spend the most doleful night I ever was in. About ten a clock it began to thunder, lightning, and rain; but the rain was very welcome to us, having drunk up all the water we brought from the island.
The wind at first blew harder than before, but within half an hour it abated and became more moderate; and the sea also assuaged of its fury; and then by a lighted match, of which we kept a piece burning on purpose, we looked on our compass to see how we steered, and found our course to be still east. We had no occasion to look on the compass before, for we steered right before the wind, which if it shifted we had been obliged to have altered our course accordingly. But now it being abated we found our vessel lively enough with that small sail which was then aboard to haul to our former course south-south-east, which accordingly we did, being now in hopes again to get to the island Sumatra. But about two a clock in the morning of the 19th day we had another gust of wind with much thunder, lightning, and rain, which lasted till day, and obliged us to put before the wind again, steering thus for several hours. It was very dark and the hard rain soaked us so thoroughly that we had not one dry thread about us. The rain chilled us extremely; for any fresh water is much colder than that of the sea. For even in the coldest climates the sea is warm, and in the hottest climates the rain is cold and unwholesome for man's body. In this wet starveling plight we spent the tedious night. Never did poor mariners on a lee shore more earnestly long for the dawning light than we did now. At length the day appeared; but with such dark black clouds near the horizon that the first glimpse of the dawn appeared 30 or 40 degrees high; which was dreadful enough; for it is a common saying among seamen, and true as I have experienced, that a high dawn will have high winds, and a low dawn small winds. PULO WAY. We continued our course still east before wind and sea till about eight a clock in the morning of this 19th day; and then one of our Malayan friends cried out “Pulo Way.” Mr. Hall and Ambrose and I thought the fellow had said “pull away,” an expression usual among English seamen when they are rowing. And we wondered what he meant by it till we saw him point to his consorts; and then we looking that way saw land appearing like an island, and all our Malayans said it was an island at the north-west end of Sumatra called Way; for Pulo Way is the island Way. We, who were dropping with wet, cold and hungry, were all overjoyed at the sight of the land and presently marked its bearing. It bore south and the wind was still at west, a strong gale; but the sea did not run so high as in the night. Therefore we trimmed our small sail no bigger than an apron and steered with it. Now our outlayers did us a great kindness again, for although we had but a small sail yet the wind was strong and pressed down our vessel's side very much: but being supported by the outlayers we could brook it well enough, which otherwise we could not have done.
About noon we saw more land beneath the supposed Pulo Way; and, steering towards it, before night we saw all the coast of Sumatra, and found the errors of our Achinese; for the high land that we first saw, which then appeared like an island, was not Pulo Way but a great high mountain on the island Sumatra called by the English the Golden Mountain. Our wind continued till about seven a clock at night; then it abated and at ten a clock it died away: and then we stuck to our oars again, though all of us quite tired with our former fatigues and hardships.
The next morning, being the 20th day, we saw all the low land plain, and judged ourselves not above eight leagues off. About eight a clock in the morning we had the wind again at west, a fresh gale and, steering in still for a shore, at five a clock in the afternoon we ran to the mouth of a river on the island Sumatra called Passange Jonca. It is 34 leagues to the eastward of Achin and six leagues to the west of Diamond Point, which makes with three angles of a rhombus and is low land.
Our Malayans were very well acquainted here and carried us to a small fishing village within a mile of the river's mouth, called also by the name of the river Passange Jonca. The hardships of this voyage, with the scorching heat of the sun at our first setting out, and the cold rain, and our continuing wet for the last two days, cast us all into fevers, so that now we were not able to help each other, nor so much as to get our canoa up to the village; but our Malayans got some of the townsmen to bring her up.
The news of our arrival being noised abroad, one of the Oramkis, or noblemen, of the island came in the night to see us. We were then lying in a small hut at the end of the town and, it being late, this lord only viewed us and, having spoken with our Malayans, went away again; but he returned to us again the next day and provided a large house for us to live in till we should be recovered of our sickness, ordering the towns-people to let us want for nothing. The Achinese Malayans that came with us told them all the circumstances of our voyage; how they were taken by our ship, and where and how we that came with them were prisoners aboard the ship and had been set ashore together at Nicobar as they were. It was for this reason probably that the gentlemen of Sumatra were thus extraordinary kind to us, to provide everything that we had need of; nay they would force us to accept of presents from them that we knew not what to do with; as young buffaloes, goats, etc., for these we would turn loose at night after the gentlemen that gave them to us were gone, for we were prompted by our Achinese consorts to accept of them for fear of disobliging by our refusal. But the coconuts, plantains, fowls, eggs, fish, and rice we kept for our use. The Malayans that accompanied us from Nicobar separated themselves from us now, living at one end of the house by themselves, for they were Mohammedans, as all those of the kingdom of Achin are and, though during our passage by sea together we made them be contented to drink their water out of the same coconut-shell with us; yet being now no longer under that necessity they again took up their accustomed nicety and reservedness. They all lay sick, and as their sickness increased one of them threatened us that, if any of them died, the rest would kill us for having brought them this voyage; yet I question whether they would have attempted, or the country people have suffered it. We made a shift to dress our own food, for none of these people, though they were very kind in giving us anything that we wanted, would yet come near us to assist us in dressing our victuals: nay they would not touch anything that we used. We had all fevers and therefore took turns to dress victuals according as we had strength to do it, or stomachs to eat it. I found my fever to increase and my head so distempered that I could scarce stand, therefore I whetted and sharpened my penknife in order to let myself blood; but I could not for my knife was too blunt.
We stayed here ten or twelve days in hopes to recover our health but, finding no amendment, we desired to go to Achin. But we were delayed by the natives who had a desire to have kept Mr. Hall and myself to sail in their vessels to Malacca, Cudda, or to other places whither they trade. But, finding us more desirous to be with our countrymen in our factory at Achin, they provided a large proa to carry us thither, we not being able to manage our own canoa. Besides, before this three of our Malayan comrades were gone very sick into the country, and only one of them and the Portuguese remained with us, accompanying us to Achin and they both as sick as we.
It was the beginning of June 1686 [sic, 1688] when we left Passange Jonca. We had four men to row, one to steer, and a gentleman of the country that went purposely to give an information to the government of our arrival. We were but three days and nights in our passage, having sea-breezes by day and land-winds by night and very fair weather.
When we arrived at Achin I was carried before the shebander, the chief magistrate in the city. One Mr. Dennis Driscal, an Irishman and a resident there in the factory which our East India Company had there then, was interpreter. I being weak was suffered to stand in the shebander's presence: for it is their custom to make men sit on the floor as they do, cross-legged like tailors: but I had not strength then to pluck up my heels in that manner. The shebander asked of me several questions, especially how we durst adventure to come in a canoa from the Nicobar Islands to Sumatra. I told him that I had been accustomed to hardships and hazards therefore I did with much freedom undertake it. He enquired also concerning our ship, whence she came, etc. I told him from the South Seas; that she had ranged about the Philippine islands, etc., and was now gone towards Arabia and the Red Sea. The Malayans also and Portuguese were afterwards examined and confirmed what I declared, and in less than half an hour I was dismissed with Mr. Driscal, who then lived in the English East India Company's factory. He provided a room for us to lie in and some victuals. Three days after our arrival here our Portuguese died of a fever. What became of our Malayans I know not: Ambrose lived not long after, Mr. Hall also was so weak that I did not think he would recover. I was the best; but still very sick of a fever and little likely to live. Therefore Mr. Driscal and some other Englishmen persuaded me to take some purging physic of a Malayan doctor. I took their advice, being willing to get ease: but after three doses, each a large calabash of nasty stuff, finding no amendment, I thought to desist from more physic; but was persuaded to take one dose more; which I did, and it wrought so violently that I thought it would have ended my days. I struggled till I had been about twenty or thirty times at stool: but, it working so quick with me with little intermission, and my strength being almost spent, I even threw myself down once for all, and had above sixty stools in all before it left off working. I thought my Malayan doctor, whom they so much commended, would have killed me outright. I continued extraordinary weak for some days after his drenching me thus: but my fever left me for above a week: after which it returned upon me again for a twelvemonth and a flux with it. However when I was a little recovered from the effects of my drench I made a shift to go abroad: and, having been kindly invited to Captain Bowrey's house there, my first visit was to him; who had a ship in the road but lived ashore. This gentleman was extraordinary kind to us all, particularly to me, and importuned me to go his boatswain to Persia; whither he was bound, with a design to sell his ship there, as I was told, though not by himself. From thence he intended to pass with the caravan to Aleppo and so home for England. His business required him to stay some time longer at Achin; I judge to sell some commodities that he had not yet disposed of. Yet he chose rather to leave the disposal of them to some merchant there and make a short trip to the Nicobar Islands in the meantime, and on his return to take in his effects, and so proceed towards Persia. This was a sudden resolution of Captain Bowrey's, presently after the arrival of a small frigate from Siam with an ambassador from the king of Siam to the queen of Achin. The ambassador was a Frenchman by nation. The vessel that he came in was but small yet very well manned, and fitted for a fight. Therefore it was generally supposed here that Captain Bowrey was afraid to lie in Achin Road because the Siamers were now at wars with the English, and he was not able to defend his ship if he should be attacked by them.
But whatever made him think of going to the Nicobar Islands he provided to sail; and took me, Mr. Hall, and Ambrose with him, though all of us so sick and weak that we could do him no service. It was some time about the beginning of June when we sailed out of Achin road: but we met with the winds at north-west with turbulent weather which forced us back again in two days' time. Yet he gave us each 12 mess apiece, a gold coin, each of which is about the value of 15 pence English. So he gave over that design: and, some English ships coming into Achin Road, he was not afraid of the Siamers who lay there.
After this he again invited me to his house at Achin, and treated me always with wine and good cheer, and still importuned me to go with him to Persia: but I being very weak, and fearing the westerly winds would create a great deal of trouble, did not give him a positive answer; especially because I thought I might get a better voyage in the English ships newly arrived, or some others now expected here. It was this Captain Bowrey who sent the letter from Borneo directed to the chief of the English factory at Mindanao, of which mention is made in Chapter XIII.
A short time after this Captain Welden arrived here from Fort St. George in a ship called the Curtana bound to Tonquin. This being a more agreeable voyage than to Persia at this time of the year; besides that the ship was better accommodated, especially with a surgeon, and I being still sick; I therefore chose rather to serve Captain Welden than Captain Bowrey. But to go on with a particular account of that expedition were to carry my reader back again: whom, having brought thus far towards England in my circumnavigation of the globe, I shall not weary him with new rambles, nor so much swell this volume, as I must describe the tour I made in those remote parts of the East Indies from and to Sumatra. So that my voyage to Tonquin at this time, as also another to Malacca afterwards, with my observations in them and the descriptions of those and the neighbouring countries; as well as the description of the island Sumatra itself, and therein the kingdom and city of Achin, Bencoolen, etc., I shall refer to another place where I may give a particular relation of them.
In short it may suffice that I set out to Tonquin with Captain Welden about July 1688 and returned to Achin in the April following. I stayed here till the latter end of September 1689, and, making a short voyage to Malacca, came thither again about Christmas. Soon after that I went to Fort St. George and, staying there about five months, I returned once more to Sumatra; not to Achin but Bencoolen, an English factory on the west coast; of which I was gunner about five months more.
So that having brought my reader to Sumatra without carrying him back, I shall bring him on next way from thence to England: and of all that occurred between my first setting out from this island in 1688 and my final departure from it at the beginning of the year 1691, I shall only take notice at present of two passages which I think I ought not to omit.
The first is that, at my return from Malacca a little before Christmas 1689, I found at Achin one Mr. Morgan who was one of our ship's crew that left me ashore at Nicobar, now mate of a Danish ship of Trangambar; which is a town on the coast of Coromandel, near Cape Comorin, belonging to the Danes: and, receiving an account of our crew from him and others, I thought it might not be amiss to gratify the reader's curiosity therewith; who would probably be desirous to know the success of those ramblers in their new-intended expedition towards the Red Sea. And withal I thought it might not be unlikely that these papers might fall into the hands of some of our London merchants who were concerned in fitting out that ship; which I said formerly was called the Cygnet of London, sent on a trading voyage into the South Seas under the command of Captain Swan: and that they might be willing to have a particular information of the fate of their ship. And by the way, even before this meeting with Mr. Morgan while I was at Tonquin, January 1689, I met with an English ship in the river of Tonquin called the Rainbow of London, Captain Poole commander; by whose mate, Mr. Barlow, who was returning in that ship to England, I sent a packet which he undertook to deliver to the merchants, owners of the Cygnet, some of which he said he knew: wherein I gave a particular account of all the course and transactions of their ship, from the time of my first meeting it in the South Seas and going aboard it there, to its leaving me ashore at Nicobar. But I never could hear that either that or other letters which I sent at the same time were received.
To proceed therefore with Mr. Morgan's relation: he told me that, when they in the Cygnet went away from Nicobar in pursuit of their intended voyage to Persia, they directed their course towards Ceylon. But, not being able to weather it, the westerly monsoon being hard against them, they were obliged to seek refreshment on the coast of Coromandel. Here this mad fickle crew were upon new projects again. Their designs meeting with such delays and obstructions that many of them grew weary of it and about half of them went ashore. Of this number Mr. Morgan, who told me this, and Mr. Herman Coppinger the surgeon went to the Danes at Trangambar, who kindly received them. There they lived very well; and Mr. Morgan was employed as a mate in a ship of theirs at this time to Achin: and Captain Knox tells me that he since commanded the Curtana; the ship that I went in to Tonquin, which Captain Welden, having sold to the Mogul's subjects, they employed Mr. Morgan as captain to trade in her for them; and it is a usual thing for the trading Indians to hire Europeans to go officers on board their ships; especially captains and gunners. About two or three more of these that were set ashore went to Fort St. George; but the main body of them were for going into the Mogul's service. Our seamen are apt to have great notions of I know not what profit and advantages to be had in serving the Mogul; nor do they want for fine stories to encourage one another to it. It was what these men had long been thinking and talking of as a fine thing; but now they went upon it in good earnest. The place where they went ashore was at a town of the Moors: which name our seamen give to all the subjects of the great Mogul, but especially his Mohammedan subjects; calling the idolaters gentous or rashbouts. At this Moors town they got a peun to be their guide to the Mogul's nearest camp; for he has always several armies in his vast empire.
These peuns are some of the gentous or rashbouts who in all places along the coast, especially in sea-port towns, make it their business to hire themselves to wait upon strangers, be they merchants, seamen, or what they will. To qualify them for such attendance they learn the European languages, English, Dutch, French, Portuguese, etc., according as they have any of the factories of these nations in their neighbourhood, or are visited by their ships. No sooner does any such ship come to an anchor and the men come ashore but a great many of these peuns are ready to proffer their service. It is usual for the strangers to hire their attendance during their stay there, giving them about a crown a month of our money, more or less. The richest sort of men will ordinarily hire two or three peuns to wait upon them; and even the common seamen, if able, will hire one apiece to attend them, either for convenience or ostentation; or sometimes one peun between two of them. These peuns serve them in many capacities, as interpreters, brokers, servants to attend at meals and go to market and on errands, etc. Nor do they give any trouble, eating at their own homes and lodging there; when they have done their masters' business for them, expecting nothing but their wages, except that they have a certain allowance of about a fanam, or three pence in a dollar, which is an 18th part profit, by way of brokerage for every bargain they drive; they being generally employed in buying and selling. When the strangers go away their peuns desire them to give them their names in writing, with a certificate of their honest and diligent serving them: and these they show to the next comers to get into business; some being able to produce a large scroll of such certificates.
But to proceed: the Moors town where these men landed was not far from Cunnimere, a small English factory on the Coromandel Coast. The governor whereof, having intelligence by the Moors of the landing of these men and their intended march to the Mogul's camp, sent out a captain with his company to oppose it. He came up with them and gave them hard words: but they being thirty or forty resolute fellows, not easily daunted, he durst not attack them, but returned to the governor, and the news of it was soon carried to Fort St. George. During their march John Oliver, who was one of them, privately told the peun who guided them that himself was their captain. So when they came to the camp, the peun told this to the general: and when their stations and pay were assigned them John Oliver had a greater respect paid him than the rest; and whereas their pay was ten pagodas a month each man (a pagoda is two dollars or 9 shillings English) his pay was twenty pagodas: which stratagem and usurpation of his occasioned him no small envy and indignation from his comrades.
Soon after this two or three of them went to Agra to be of the Mogul's guard. A while after the governor of Fort St. George sent a message to the main body of them and a pardon to withdraw them from thence; which most of them accepted and came away. John Oliver and the small remainder continued in the country; but, leaving the camp, went up and down, plundering the villages and fleeing when they were pursued; and this was the last news I heard of them. This account I had partly by Mr. Morgan, from some of those deserters he met with at Trangambar; partly from others of them whom I met myself afterwards at Fort St. George. And these were the adventures of those who went up into the country.
Captain Read having thus lost the best half of his men sailed away with the rest of them after having filled his water and got rice, still intending for the Red Sea. When they were near Ceylon they met with a Portuguese ship richly laden, out of which they took what they pleased and then turned her away again. From thence they pursued their voyage: but, the westerly winds bearing hard against them, and making it hardly feasible for them to reach the Red Sea, they stood away for Madagascar. There they entered into the service of one of the petty princes of that island to assist him against his neighbours with whom he was at wars. During this interval a small vessel from New York came hither to purchase slaves: which trade is driven here, as it is upon the coast of Guinea; one nation or clan selling others that are their enemies. Captain Read, with about five or six more, stole away from their crew and went aboard this New York ship, and Captain Teat was made commander of the residue.
Soon after which a brigantine from the West Indies, Captain Knight commander, coming thither with a design to go to the Red Sea also, these of the Cygnet consorted with them and they went together to the island Johanna. Thence, going together towards the Red Sea, the Cygnet proving leaky and sailing heavily, as being much out of repair, Captain Knight grew weary of her company and, giving her the slip in the night, went away for Achin: for, having heard that there was plenty of gold there, he went thither with a design to cruise: and it was from one Mr. Humes, belonging to the Ann of London, Captain Freke commander, who had gone aboard Captain Knight, and whom I saw afterwards at Achin, that I had this relation. Some of Captain Freke's men, their own ship being lost, had gone aboard the Cygnet at Johanna: and after Captain Knight had left her she still pursued her voyage towards the Red Sea: but, the winds being against them, and the ship in so ill a condition, they were forced to bear away for Coromandel, where Captain Teat and his own men went ashore to serve the Mogul.
But the strangers of Captain Freke's ship, who kept still aboard the Cygnet, undertook to carry her for England: and the last news I heard of the Cygnet was from Captain Knox who tells me that she now lies sunk in St. Augustin Bay in Madagascar. This digression I have made to give an account of our ship.
The other passage I shall speak of that occurred during this interval of the tour I made from Achin is with relation to the painted prince whom I brought with me into England and who died at Oxford. For while I was at Fort St. George, about April 1690, there arrived a ship called the Mindanao Merchant, laden with clove-bark from Mindanao. Three of Captain Swan's men that remained there when we went from thence came in her: from whence I had the account of Captain Swan's death, as is before related. There was also one Mr. Moody, who was supercargo of the ship. This gentleman bought at Mindanao the painted prince Jeoly (mentioned in Chap. XIII) and his mother; and brought them to Fort St. George where they were much admired by all that saw them. Some time after this Mr. Moody, who spoke the Malayan language very well and was a person very capable to manage the company's affairs, was ordered by the governor of Fort St. George to prepare to go to Indrapore, an English factory on the west coast of Sumatra, in order to succeed Mr. Gibbons, who was the chief of that place.
By this time I was very intimately acquainted with Mr. Moody and was importuned by him to go with him and to be gunner of the fort there. I always told him I had a great desire to go to the Bay of Bengal, and that I had now an offer to go thither with Captain Metcalf, who wanted a mate and had already spoke to me. Mr. Moody, to encourage me to go with him, told me that if I would go with him to Indrapore he would buy a small vessel there and send me to the island Meangis, commander of her; and that I should carry Prince Jeoly and his mother with me (that being their country) by which means I might gain a commerce with his people for cloves.
This was a design that I liked very well, and therefore I consented to go thither. It was some time in July 1690 when we went from Fort St. George in a small ship called the Diamond, Captain Howel commander. We were about fifty or sixty passengers in all; some ordered to be left at Indrapore, and some at Bencoolen: five or six of us were officers, the rest soldiers to the company. We met nothing in our voyage that deserves notice till we came abreast of Indrapore. And then the wind came at north-west, and blew so hard that we could not get in but were forced to bear away to Bencoolen, another English factory on the same coast, lying fifty or sixty leagues to the southward of Indrapore.
Upon our arrival at Bencoolen we saluted the fort and were welcomed by them. The same day we came to an anchor, and Captain Howel and Mr. Moody with the other merchants went ashore and were all kindly received by the governor of the fort. It was two days before I went ashore and then I was importuned by the governor to stay there to be gunner of this fort; because the gunner was lately dead: and this being a place of greater import than Indrapore I should do the company more service here than there. I told the governor if he would augment my salary which, by agreement with the governor of Fort St. George I was to have had at Indrapore, I was willing to serve him provided Mr. Moody would consent to it. As to my salary he told me I should have 24 dollars per month which was as much as he gave to the old gunner.
Mr. Moody gave no answer till a week after and then, being ready to be gone to Indrapore, he told me I might use my own liberty either to stay here or go with him to Indrapore. He added that if I went with him he was not certain as yet to perform his promise in getting a vessel for me to go to Meangis with Jeoly and his mother: but he would be so fair to me that, because I left Madras on his account, he would give me the half share of the two painted people, and leave them in my possession and at my disposal. I accepted of the offer and writings were immediately drawn between us.
Thus it was that I came to have this painted prince, whose name was Jeoly, and his mother. They were born on a small island called Meangis, which is once or twice mentioned in Chap. XIII. I saw the island twice, and two more close by it: each of the three seemed to be about four or five leagues round and of a good height. Jeoly himself told me that they all three abounded with gold, cloves and nutmegs: for I showed him some of each sort several times and he told me in the Malayan language which he spoke indifferent well: “Meangis hadda madochala se bullawan”: that is, “There is abundance of gold at Meangis.” Bullawan I have observed to be the common word for gold at Mindanao; but whether the proper Malayan word I know not, for I found much difference between the Malayan language as it was spoken at Mindanao and the language on the coast of Malacca and Achin. When I showed him spice he would not only tell me that there was madochala, that is, abundance; but to make it appear more plain he would also show me the hair of his head, a thing frequent among all the Indians that I have met with to show their hair when they would express more than they can number. That there were not above thirty men on the island and about one hundred women: that he himself had five wives and eight children, and that one of his wives painted him.
He was painted all down the breast, between his shoulders behind; on his thighs (mostly) before; and in the form of several broad rings or bracelets round his arms and legs. I cannot liken the drawings to any figure of animals or the like; but they were very curious, full of great variety of lines, flourishes, chequered work, etc., keeping a very graceful proportion and appearing very artificial, even to wonder, especially that upon and between his shoulder-blades. By the account he gave me of the manner of doing it I understood that the painting was done in the same manner as the Jerusalem cross is made in men's arms, by pricking the skin and rubbing in a pigment. But whereas powder is used in making the Jerusalem cross, they at Meangis use the gum of a tree beaten to powder called by the English dammer, which is used instead of pitch in many parts of India. He told me that most of the men and women on the island were thus painted: and also that they had all earrings made of gold, and gold shackles about their legs and arms: that their common food of the produce of the land was potatoes and yams: that they had plenty of cocks and hens but no other tame fowl. He said that fish (of which he was a great lover, as wild Indians generally are) was very plentiful about the island; and that they had Canoas and went a-fishing frequently in them; and that they often visited the other two small islands whose inhabitants spoke the same language as they did; which was so unlike the Malayan, which he had learnt while he was a slave at Mindanao, that when his mother and he were talking together in their Meangian tongue I could not understand one word they said. And indeed all the Indians who spoke Malayan, who are the trading and politer sort, looked on these Meangians as a kind of barbarians; and upon any occasion of dislike would call them bobby, that is hogs; the greatest expression of contempt that can be, especially from the mouth of Malayans who are generally Mohammedans; and yet the Malayans everywhere call a woman babby, by a name not much different, and mamma signifies a man; though these two last words properly denote male and female: and as ejam signifies a fowl, so ejam mamma is a cock, and ejam babbi is a hen. But this by the way.
He said also that the customs of those other isles and their manner of living was like theirs, and that they were the only people with whom they had any converse: and that one time as he, with his father, mother and brother, with two or three men more, were going to one of these other islands they were driven by a strong wind on the coast of Mindanao, where they were taken by the fishermen of that island and carried ashore and sold as slaves; they being first stripped of their gold ornaments. I did not see any of the gold that they wore, but there were great holes in their ears, by which it was manifest that they had worn some ornaments in them. Jeoly was sold to one Michael, a Mindanayan that spoke good Spanish, and commonly waited on Raja Laut, serving him as our interpreter where the Raja was at a loss in any word, for Michael understood it better. He did often beat and abuse his painted servant to make him work, but all in vain, for neither fair means, threats, nor blows would make him work as he would have him. Yet he was very timorous and could not endure to see any sort of weapons; and he often told me that they had no arms at Meangis, they having no enemies to fight with.
I knew this Michael very well while we were at Mindanao: I suppose that name was given him by the Spaniards who baptised many of them at the time when they had footing at that island: but at the departure of the Spaniards they were Mohammedans again as before. Some of our people lay at this Michael's house, whose wife and daughter were pagallies to some of them. I often saw Jeoly at his master Michael's house, and when I came to have him so long after he remembered me again. I did never see his father nor brother, nor any of the others that were taken with them; but Jeoly came several times aboard our ship when we lay at Mindanao, and gladly accepted of such victuals as we gave him; for his master kept him at very short commons.
Prince Jeoly lived thus a slave at Mindanao four or five years, till at last Mr. Moody bought him and his mother for 60 dollars, and as is before related, carried him to Fort St. George, and from thence along with me to Bencoolen. Mr. Moody stayed at Bencoolen about three weeks and then went back with Captain Howel to Indrapore, leaving Jeoly and his mother with me. They lived in a house by themselves without the fort. I had no employment for them; but they both employed themselves. She used to make and mend their own clothes, at which she was not very expert, for they wear no clothes at Meangis but only a cloth about their waists: and he busied himself in making a chest with four boards and a few nails that he begged of me. It was but an ill-shaped odd thing, yet he was as proud of it as if it had been the rarest piece in the world. After some time they were both taken sick and, though I took as much care of them as if they had been my brother and sister, yet she died. I did what I could to comfort Jeoly; but he took on extremely, insomuch that I feared him also. Therefore I caused a grave to be made presently to hide her out of his sight. I had her shrouded decently in a piece of new calico; but Jeoly was not so satisfied, for he wrapped all her clothes about her and two new pieces of chintz that Mr. Moody gave her, saying that they were his mother's and she must have them. I would not disoblige him for fear of endangering his life; and I used all possible means to recover his health; but I found little amendment while we stayed here.
In the little printed relation that was made of him when he was shown for a sight in England there was a romantic story of a beautiful sister of his, a slave with them at Mindanao; and of the sultan's falling in love with her; but these were stories indeed. They reported also that this paint was of such virtue that serpents and venomous creatures would flee from him, for which reason I suppose, they represented so many serpents scampering about in the printed picture that was made of him. But I never knew any paint of such virtue: and as for Jeoly I have seen him as much afraid of snakes, scorpions, or centipedes as myself.
Having given this account of the ship that left me at Nicobar, and of my painted prince whom I brought with me to Bencoolen, I shall now proceed on with the relation of my voyage thence to England, after I have given this short account of the occasion of it and the manner of my getting away.
To say nothing therefore now of that place, and my employment there as gunner of the fort, the year 1690 drew towards an end and, not finding the governor keep to his agreement with me, nor seeing by his carriage towards others any great reason I had to expect he would, I began to wish myself away again. I saw so much ignorance in him with respect to his charge, being much fitter to be a bookkeeper than governor of a fort; and yet so much insolence and cruelty with respect to those under him, and rashness in his management of the Malayan neighbourhood, that I soon grew weary of him, not thinking myself very safe indeed under a man whose humours were so brutish and barbarous. I forbear to mention his name after such a character; nor do I care to fill these papers with particular stories of him: but therefore give this intimation because, as it is the interest of the nation in general, so is it especially of the honourable East India Company to be informed of abuses in their factories. And I think the company might receive great advantage by strictly enquiring into the behaviour of those whom they entrust with any command. For beside the odium which reflects back upon the superiors from the misdoings of their servants, how undeservedly soever, there are great and lasting mischiefs proceed from the tyranny or ignorant rashness of some petty governors. Those under them are discouraged from their service by it and often go away to the Dutch, the Mogul, or the Malayan princes, to the great detriment of our trade; and even the trade and the forts themselves are many times in danger by indiscreet provocations given to the neighbouring nations who are best managed, as all mankind are, by justice and fair dealings; nor any more implacably revengeful than those Malayans who live in the neighbourhood of Bencoolen, which fort has been more than once in danger of being surprised by them. I speak not this out of disgust to this particular governor; much less would I seem to reflect on any others of whom I know nothing amiss: but as it is not to be wondered at if some should not know how to demean themselves in places of power, for which neither their education nor their business possibly have sufficiently qualified them, so it will be the more necessary for the honourable Company to have the closer eye over them, and as much as may be to prevent or reform any abuses they may be guilty of; and it is purely out of my zeal for theirs and the nation's interest that I have given this caution, having seen too much occasion for it.
I had other motives also for my going away. I began to long after my native country after so tedious a ramble from it: and I proposed no small advantage to myself from my painted prince, whom Mr. Moody had left entirely to my disposal, only reserving to himself his right to one half share in him. For beside what might be gained by showing him in England I was in hopes that when I had got some money I might there obtain what I had in vain sought for in the Indies, namely, a ship from the merchants wherewith to carry him back to Meangis and reinstate him there in his own country, and by his favour and negotiation to establish a traffic for the spices and other products of those islands.
Upon these projects I went to the governor and council and desired that I might have my discharge to go for England with the next ship that came. The council thought it reasonable and they consented to it; he also gave me his word that I should go. Upon the 2nd of January 1691 there came to anchor in Bencoolen Road the Defence, Captain Heath commander, bound for England in the service of the Company. They had been at Indrapore where Mr. Moody then was, and he had made over his share in Prince Jeoly to Mr. Goddard, chief mate of the ship. Upon his coming on shore he showed me Mr. Moody's writings and looked upon Jeoly, who had been sick for three months: in all which time I tended him as carefully as if he had been my brother. I agreed matters with Mr. Goddard and sent Jeoly on board, intending to follow him as I could, and desiring Mr. Goddard's assistance to fetch me off and conceal me aboard the ship if there should be occasion; which he promised to do, and the captain promised to entertain me. For it proved, as I had foreseen, that upon Captain Heath's arrival the governor repented him of his promise and would not suffer me to depart. I importuned him all I could; but in vain: so did Captain Heath also but to no purpose. In short, after several essays I slipped away at midnight (understanding the ship was to sail away the next morning and that they had taken leave of the fort) and, creeping through one of the portholes of the fort, I got to the shore where the ship's boat waited for me and carried me on board. I brought with me my journal and most of my written papers; but some papers and books of value I left in haste and all my furniture; being glad I was myself at liberty, and had hopes of seeing England again.
Being thus got on board the Defence I was concealed there till a boat which came from the fort laden with pepper was gone off again. And then we set sail for the Cape of Good Hope January 25 1691, and made the best of our way as wind and weather would permit; expecting there to meet three English ships more bound home from the Indies: for, the war with the French having been proclaimed at Fort St. George a little before Captain Heath came from thence, he was willing to have company home if he could.
A little before this war was proclaimed there was an engagement in the road of Fort St. George between some French men-of-war and some Dutch and English ships at anchor in the road: which, because there is such a plausible story made of it in Monsieur Duquesne's late voyage to the East Indies, I shall give a short account of, as I had it particularly related to me by the gunner's mate of Captain Heath's ship, a very sensible man, and several others of his men who were in the action. The Dutch have a fort on the coast of Coromandel, called Pallacat, about 20 leagues to the northward of Fort St. George. Upon some occasion or other the Dutch sent some ships thither to fetch away their effects and transport them to Batavia. Acts of hostility were already begun between the French and Dutch; and the French had at this time a squadron newly arrived in India and lying at Pondicherry, a French fort on the same coast southward of Fort St. George. The Dutch in returning to Batavia were obliged to coast it along by Fort St. George and Pondicherry for the sake of the wind; but when they came near this last they saw the French men-of-war lying at anchor there; and, should they have proceeded along the shore, or stood out to sea, expected to be pursued by them. They therefore turned back again; for though their ships were of a pretty good force yet were they unfit for fight, as having great loads of goods and many passengers, women and children, on board; so they put in at Fort St. George and, desiring the governor's protection, had leave to anchor in the road, and to send their goods and useless people ashore. There were then in the road a few small English ships; and Captain Heath, whose ship was a very stout merchant-man, and which the French relater calls the English Admiral, was just come from China; but very deep laden with goods, and the deck full of canisters of sugar which he was preparing to send ashore. But before he could do it the French appeared; coming into the road with their lower sails and topsails, and had with them a fire-ship. With this they thought to have burnt the Dutch commodore, and might probably enough have done it as she lay at anchor if they had had the courage to have come boldly on; but they fired their ship at a distance and the Dutch sent and towed her away, where she spent herself without any execution. Had the French men-of-war also come boldly up and grappled with their enemies they might have done something considerable, for the fort could not have played on them without damaging our ships as well as theirs. But instead of this the French dropped anchor out of reach of the shot of the fort, and there lay exchanging shot with their enemies' ships with so little advantage to themselves that after about four hours fighting they cut their cables and went away in haste and disorder, with all their sails loose, even their top-gallant sails, which is not usual but when ships are just next to running away. Captain Heath, notwithstanding his ship was so heavy and encumbered, behaved himself very bravely in the fight; and, upon the going off of the French, went aboard the Dutch commodore and told him that if he would pursue them he would stand out with them to sea though he had very little water aboard; but the Dutch commander excused himself, saying he had orders to defend himself from the French but none to chase them or go out of his way to seek them. And this was the exploit which the French have thought fit to brag of. I hear that the Dutch have taken from them since their fort of Pondicherry.
But to proceed with our voyage: we had not been at sea long before our men began to droop in a sort of distemper that stole insensibly on them and proved fatal to above thirty, who died before we arrived at the Cape. We had sometimes two, and once three men thrown overboard in a morning. This distemper might probably arise from the badness of the water which we took in at Bencoolen: for I did observe while I was there that the river-water wherewith our ships were watered was very unwholesome, it being mixed with the water of many small creeks that proceeded from low land, and whose streams were always very black, they being nourished by the water that drained out of the low swampy unwholesome ground.
I have observed not only there but in other hot countries also, both in the East and West Indies, that the land-floods which pour into the channels of the rivers about the season of the rains are very unwholesome. For when I lived in the Bay of Campeachy the fish were found dead in heaps on the shores of the rivers and creeks at such a season; and many we took up half dead; of which sudden mortality there appeared no cause but only the malignity of the waters draining off the land. This happens chiefly as I take it, where the water drains through thick woods and savannahs of long grass and swampy grounds, with which some hot countries abound: and I believe it receives a strong tincture from the roots of several kinds of trees, herbs, etc., and especially where there is any stagnancy of the water it soon corrupts; and possibly the serpents and other poisonous vermin and insects may not a little contribute to its bad qualities: at such times it will look very deep-coloured, yellow, red, or black, etc. The season of the rains was over and the land-floods were abating upon the taking up this water in the river of Bencoolen: but would the seamen have given themselves the trouble they might have filled their vessels with excellent good water at a spring on the back side of the fort, not above 2 or 300 paces from the landing-place; and with which the fort is served. And I mention this as a caution to any ships that shall go to Bencoolen for the future; and withal I think it worth the care of the owners or governors of the factory, and that it would tend much to the preservation of their seamen's lives to lay pipes to convey the fountain water to the shore, which might easily be done with a small charge: and had I stayed longer there I would have undertaken it. I had a design also of bringing into the fort, though much higher: for it would be a great convenience and security to it in case of a siege.
Besides the badness of the water it was stowed among the pepper in the hold which made it very hot. Every morning when we came to take our allowance it was so hot that a man could hardly suffer his hands in it or hold a bottle full of it in his hands. I never anywhere felt the like nor could have thought it possible that water should heat to that degree in a ship's hold. It was exceeding black too, and looked more like ink than water. Whether it grew so black with standing or was tinged with the pepper I know not, for this water was not so black when it was first taken up. Our food also was very bad; for the ship had been out of England upon this voyage above three years; and the salt provision brought from thence and which we fed on, having been so long in salt was but ordinary food for sickly men to feed on.
Captain Heath, when he saw the misery of his company, ordered his own tamarinds, of which he had some jars aboard, to be given some to each mess to eat with their rice. This was a great refreshment to the men and I do believe it contributed much to keep us on our legs.
This distemper was so universal that I do believe there was scarce a man in the ship but languished under it; yet it stole so insensibly on us that we could not say we were sick, feeling little or no pain, only a weakness and but little stomach. Nay most of those that died in this voyage would hardly be persuaded to keep their cabins or hammocks, till they could not stir about; and when they were forced to lie down they made their wills and piked off in two or three days.
The loss of these men and the weak languishing condition that the rest of us were in rendered us incapable to govern our ship but the wind blew more than ordinary. This often happened when we drew near the Cape and as oft put us to our trumps to manage the ship. Captain Heath, to encourage his men to their labour, kept his watch as constantly as any man though sickly himself, and lent a helping hand on all occasions.
But at last, almost despairing of gaining his passage to the Cape by reason of the winds coming southerly, and we having now been sailing eight or nine weeks, he called all our men to consult about our safety and desired every man from the highest to the lowest freely to give his real opinion and advice what to do in this dangerous juncture; for we were not in a condition to keep out long; and could we not get to land quickly must have perished at sea. He consulted therefore whether it were best to beat for the Cape or bear away for Johanna, where we might expect relief, that being a place where our outward-bound East India ships usually touch and whose natives are very familiar: but other places, especially St. Lawrence, or Madagascar, which was nearer, was unknown to us. We were now so nigh the Cape that with a fair wind we might expect to be there in four or five days; but as the wind was now we could not hope to get thither. On the other side this wind was fair to carry us to Johanna; but then Johanna was a great way off, and if the wind should continue as it was to bring us into a true tradewind, yet we could not get thither under a fortnight; and if we should meet calms, as we might probably expect, it might be much longer.
Besides, we should lose our passage about the Cape till October or November, this being about the latter end of March, for after the 10th of May it is not usual to beat about the Cape to come home. All circumstances therefore being weighed and considered, we at last unanimously agreed to prosecute our voyage towards the Cape and with patience wait for a shift of wind.
But Captain Heath, having thus far sounded the inclination of his weak men, told them that it was not enough that they all consented to beat for the Cape, for our desires were not sufficient to bring us thither; but that there would need a more than ordinary labour and management from those that were able. And withal for their encouragement he promised a month's pay gratis to every man that would engage to assist on all occasions and be ready upon call, whether it were his turn to watch or not; and this money he promised to pay at the Cape. This offer was first embraced by some of the officers, and then as many of the men as found themselves in a capacity listed themselves in a roll to serve their commander. This was wisely contrived of the captain for he could not have compelled them in their weak condition, neither would fair words alone without some hopes of a reward have engaged them to so much extraordinary work; for the ship, sail, and rigging were much out of repair. For my part I was too weak to enter myself into that list for else our common safety, which I plainly saw lay at stake, would have prompted me to do more than any such reward would do. In a short time after this it pleased God to favour us with a fine wind, which, being improved to the best advantage by the incessant labour of these new-listed men, brought us in a short time to the Cape.
The night before we entered the harbour, which was about the beginning of April, being near the land, we fired a gun every hour to give notice that we were in distress. The next day a Dutch captain came aboard in his boat, who seeing us so weak as not to be able to trim our sails to turn into the harbour; though we did tolerably well at sea before the wind, and, being requested by our captain to assist him, sent ashore for a hundred lusty men who immediately came aboard and brought our ship in to an anchor. They also unbent our sails and did everything for us that they were required to do, for which Captain Heath gratified them to the full.
These men had better stomachs than we, and ate freely of such food as the ship afforded; and they having the freedom of our ship to go to and fro between decks made prize of what they could lay their hands on, especially salt beef, which our men for want of stomachs in the voyage had hung up 6, 8, or 10 pieces in a place. This was conveyed away before we knew it or thought of it: besides in the night there was a bale of muslins broke open and a great deal conveyed away: but whether the muslins were stolen by our own men or the Dutch I cannot say; for we had some very dexterous thieves in our ship.
Being thus got safe to an anchor the sick were presently sen ashore to quarters provided for them, and those that were able remained aboard and had good fat mutton or fresh beef sent aboard every day. I went ashore also with my painted prince where I remained with him till the time of sailing again, which was about six weeks. In which time I took the opportunity to inform myself what I could concerning this country, which I shall in the next place give you a brief account of and so make what haste I can home.
The Cape of Good Hope is the utmost bounds of the continent of Africa towards the south, lying in 34 degrees 30 minutes south latitude in a very temperate climate. I look upon this latitude to be one of the mildest and sweetest for its temperature of any whatsoever; and I cannot here but take notice of a common prejudice our European seamen have as to this country, that they look upon it as much colder than places in the same latitude to the north of the Line. I am not of their opinion as to that: and their thinking so I believe may easily be accounted for from hence, that whatever way they come to the Cape, whether going to the East Indies or returning back, they pass through a hot climate; and, coming to it thus out of an extremity of heat, it is no wonder if it appear the colder to them. Some impute the coldness of the south wind here to its blowing off from sea. On the contrary I have always observed the sea winds to be warmer than land-winds, unless it be when a bloom, as we call it, or hot blast blow from thence. Such a one we felt in this very voyage as we went from Cape Verde Islands towards the South Seas; which I forgot to mention in its proper place, Chapter 4. For one afternoon about the 19th of January 1683 in the latitude of 37 south we felt a brisk gale coming from off the coast of America, but so violent hot that we thought it came from some burning mountain on the shore, and was like the heat from the mouth of an oven. Just such another gleam I felt one afternoon also, as I lay at anchor at the Groin in July 1694, it came with a southerly wind, both these were followed by a thunder shower. These were the only great blooms I ever met with in my travels. But setting these aside, which are exceptions, I have made it my general observation that the sea-winds are a great deal warmer than those which blow from land unless where the wind blows from the Poles, which I take to be the true cause of the coldness of the south wind at the Cape, for it is cold at sea also. And as for the coldness of land-winds, as the south-west parts of Europe are very sensible of it from the northern and eastern winds; so on the opposite coast of Virginia they are as much pinched with the north-west winds blowing excessively cold from over the continent; though its latitude be not much greater than this of the Cape.
But to proceed: this large promontory consists of high and very remarkable land and off at sea it affords a very pleasant and agreeable prospect. And without doubt the prospect of it was very agreeable to those Portuguese who first found out this way by sea to the East Indies; when after coasting along the vast continent of Africa towards the South Pole they had the comfort of seeing the land and their course end in this promontory: which therefore they called the Cape de Bon Esperance, or of Good Hope, finding that they might now proceed easterly.
There is good sounding off this Cape 50 are 60 leagues at sea to the southward, and therefore our English seamen, standing over as they usually do, from the coast of Brazil, content themselves with their soundings, concluding thereby that they are abreast of the Cape, they often pass by without seeing it, and begin to shape their course northward. They have several other signs whereby to know when they are near it, as by the seafowl they meet at sea, especially the albatrosses, a very large long-winged bird, and the mangovolucres, a smaller fowl. But the greatest dependence of our English seamen now is upon their observing the variation of the compass, which is very carefully minded when they come near the Cape by taking the sun's amplitude mornings and evenings. This they are so exact in that, by the help of the azimuth compass, an instrument more peculiar to the seamen of our nation, they know when they are abreast of the Cape or are either to the east or the west of it: and for that reason, though they should be to southward of all the soundings or fathomable ground, they can shape their course right without being obliged to make the land. But the Dutch on the contrary, having settled themselves on this promontory, do always touch here in their East India voyages both going and coming.
The most remarkable land at sea is a high mountain, steep to the sea, with a flat even top, which is called the Table Land. On the west side of the Cape, a little to the northward of it, there is a spacious harbour with a low flat island lying off it, which you may leave on either hand and pass in or out securely at either end. Ships that anchor here ride near the mainland, leaving the island at a farther distance without them. The land by the sea against the harbour is low; but back with high mountains a little way in to the southward of it.
The soil of this country is of a brown colour; not deep yet indifferently productive of grass, herbs, and trees. The grass is short, like that which grows on our Wiltshire or Dorsetshire downs. The trees hereabouts are but small and few; the country also farther from the sea does not much abound in trees, as I have been informed. The mould or soil also is much like this near the harbour, which, though it cannot be said to be very fat or rich land, yet it is very fit for cultivation, and yields good crops to the industrious husbandman, and the country is pretty well settled with farms, Dutch families, and French refugees for twenty or thirty leagues up the country; but there are but few farms near the harbour.
Here grows plenty of wheat, barley, peas, etc. Here are also fruits of many kinds, as apples, pears, quinces, and the largest pomegranates that I did ever see.
The chief fruits are grapes. These thrive very well and the country is of late years so well stocked with vineyards that they make abundance of wine, of which they have enough and to spare; and do sell great quantities to ships that touch here. This wine is like a French high-country white wine, but of a pale yellowish colour; it is sweet, very pleasant and strong.
The tame animals of this country are sheep, goats, hogs, cows, horses, etc. The sheep are very large and fat, for they thrive very well here: this being a dry country and the short pasturage very agreeable to these creatures, but it is not so proper for great cattle; neither is the beef in its kind so sweet as the mutton. Of wild beasts it is said here are several sorts, but I saw none. However it is very likely there are some wild beasts that prey on the sheep because they are commonly brought into the houses in the night and penned up.
There is a very beautiful sort of wild ass in this country whose body is curiously striped with equal lists of white and black; the stripes coming from the ridge of his back and ending under the belly, which is white. These stripes are two or three fingers broad, running parallel with each other, and curiously intermixed, one white and one black, over from the shoulder to the rump. I saw two of the skins of these beasts dried and preserved to be sent to Holland as a rarity. They seemed big enough to enclose the body of a beast as big as a large colt of a twelvemonth old.
Here are a great many ducks, dunghill fowls, etc., and ostriches are plentifully found in the dry mountains and plains. I ate of their eggs here, and those of whom I bought them told me that these creatures lay their eggs in the sand or at least on dry ground, and so leave them to be hatched by the sun. The meat of one of their eggs will suffice two men very well. The inhabitants do preserve the eggs that they find to sell to strangers. They were pretty scarce when I was here, it being the beginning of their winter; whereas I was told they lay their eggs about Christmas which is their summer.
The sea hereabouts affords plenty of fish of divers sorts; especially a small sort of fish, not so big as a herring; whereof they have such great plenty that they pickle great quantities yearly and send them to Europe.
Seals are also in great numbers about the Cape; which, as I have still observed, is a good sign of the plentifulness of fish, which is their food.
The Dutch have a strong fort by the seaside against the harbour, where the governor lives. At about two or three hundred paces distance from thence, on the west side of the fort, there is a small Dutch town in which I told about fifty or sixty houses; low, but well built, with stone walls; there being plenty of stone drawn out of a quarry close by.
On the back side of the town, as you go towards the mountains, the Dutch East India Company have a large house and a stately garden walled in with a high stone wall.
This garden is full of divers sorts of herbs, flowers, roots, and fruits, with curious spacious gravel walks and arbours; and is watered with a brook that descends out of the mountains; which being cut into many channels is conveyed into all parts of the garden. The hedges which make the walks are very thick, and nine or ten foot high: they are kept exceeding neat and even by continual pruning. There are lower hedges within these again, which serve to separate the fruit-trees from each other, but without shading them: and they keep each sort of fruit by themselves, as apples, pears, abundance of quinces, pomegranates, etc. These all prosper very well and bear good fruit, especially the pomegranate. The roots and garden herbs have also their distinct places, hedged in apart by themselves; and all in such order that it is exceeding pleasant and beautiful. There are a great number of Negro slaves brought from other parts of the world; some of which are continually weeding, pruning, trimming, and looking after it. All strangers are allowed the liberty to walk there; and by the servants' leave you may be admitted to taste of the fruit: but if you think to do it clandestinely you may be mistaken, as I knew one was when I was in the garden, who took five or six pomegranates and was espied by one of the slaves and threatened to be carried before the governor: I believe it cost him some money to make his peace, for I heard no more of it. Further up from the sea, beyond the garden, towards the mountains, there are several other small gardens and vineyards belonging to private men: but the mountains are so nigh that the number of them are but small.
The Dutch that live in the town get considerably by the ships that frequently touch here, chiefly by entertaining strangers that come ashore to refresh themselves; for you must give 3 shillings or a dollar a day for your entertainment; the bread and flesh is as cheap here as in England; besides they buy good penny-worths of the seamen, both outward and homeward bound, which the farmers up the country buy of them again at a dear rate; for they have not an opportunity of buying things at the best hand, but must buy of those that live at the harbour; the nearest settlements, as I was informed, being twenty miles off.
Notwithstanding the great plenty of corn and wine yet the extraordinary high taxes which the Company lays on liquors makes it very dear; and you can buy none but at the tavern except it be by stealth. There are but three houses in the town that sell strong liquor, one of which is this wine-house or tavern; there they sell only wine; another sells beer and mum; and the third sells brandy and tobacco, all extraordinary dear. A flask of wine which holds three quarts will cost eighteen stivers, for so much I paid for it; yet I bought as much for eight stivers in another place, but it was privately at an unlicensed house, and the personage sold would have been ruined had it been known. And thus much for the country and the European inhabitants.
The natural inhabitants of the Cape are the Hodmadods, as they are commonly called, which is a corruption of the word Hottentot; for this is the name by which they call to one another, either in their dances or on any occasion; as if every one of them had this for his name. The word probably has some signification or other in their language, whatever it is.
These Hottentots are people of a middle stature with small limbs and thin bodies, full of activity. Their faces are of a flat oval figure, of the Negro make, with great eyebrows, black eyes, but neither are their noses so flat, nor their lips so thick, as the Negroes of Guinea. Their complexion is darker than the common Indians; though not so black as the Negroes or New Hollanders; neither is their hair so much frizzled.
They besmear themselves all over with grease as well to keep their joints supple as to fence their half-naked bodies from the air by stopping up their pores. To do this the more effectually they rub soot over the greased parts, especially their faces, which adds to their natural beauty, as painting does in Europe; but withal sends from them a strong smell which though sufficiently pleasing to themselves is very unpleasant to others. They are glad of the worst of kitchen-stuff for this purpose and use it as often as they can get it.
This custom of anointing the body is very common in other parts of Africa, especially on the coast of Guinea, where they generally use palm-oil, anointing themselves from head to foot; but when they want oil they make use of kitchen-stuff, which they buy of the Europeans that trade with them. In the East Indies also, especially on the coast of Cudda and Malacca, and in general on almost all the easterly islands, as well on Sumatra, Java, etc., as on the Philippine and Spice Islands, the Indian inhabitants anoint themselves with coconut oil two or three times a day, especially mornings and evenings. They spend sometimes half an hour in chafing the oil and rubbing it into their hair and skin, leaving no place unsmeared with oil but their face, which they daub not like these Hottentots. The Americans also in some places do use this custom, but not so frequently, perhaps for want of oil and grease to do it. Yet some American Indians in the North Seas frequently daub themselves with a pigment made with leaves, roots, or herbs, or with a sort of red earth, giving their skins a yellow, red, or green colour, according as the pigment is. And these smell unsavourly enough to people not accustomed to them; though not so rank as those who use oil or grease.
The Hottentots do wear no covering on their heads but deck their hair with small shells. Their garments are sheep-skins wrapped about their shoulders like a mantle, with the woolly sides next their bodies. The men have besides this mantle a piece of skin like a small apron hanging before them. The women have another skin tucked about their waists, which comes down to their knees like a petticoat; and their legs are wrapped round with sheep's guts two or three inches thick, some up as high as to their calves, others even from their feet to their knees, which at a small distance seems to be a sort of boots. These are put on when they are green; and so they grow hard and stiff on their legs, for they never pull them off again till they have occasion to eat them; which is when they journey from home and have no other food; then these guts which have been worn, it may be six, eight, ten or twelve months, make them a good banquet: this I was informed of by the Dutch. They never pull off their sheep-skin garments but to louse themselves, for by continual wearing them they are full of vermin, which obliges them often to strip and sit in the sun two or three hours together in the heat of the day to destroy them. Indeed most Indians that live remote from the equator are molested with lice, though their garments afford less shelter for lice than these Hottentots' sheep-skins do. For all those Indians who live in cold countries as in the north and south parts of America, have some sort of skin or other to cover their bodies; as deer, otter, beaver, or seal-skins, all which they as constantly wear without shifting themselves as these Hottentots do their sheep-skins. And hence they are lousy too and strong scented, though they do not daub themselves at all or but very little; or even by reason of their skins they smell strong.
The Hottentots' houses are the meanest that I did ever see. They are about nine or ten foot high and ten or twelve from side to side. They are in a manner round, made with small poles stuck into the ground and brought together at the top where they are fastened. The sides and top of the house are filled up with boughs coarsely wattled between the poles, and all is covered over with long grass, rushes, and pieces of hides; and the house at a distance appears just like a haycock. They leave only a small hole on one side about three or four foot high for a door to creep in and out at; but when the wind comes in at this door they stop it up and make another hole in the opposite side. They make the fire in the middle of the house and the smoke ascends out of the crannies from all parts of the house. They have no beds to lie on but tumble down at night round the fire.
Their household furniture is commonly an earthen pot or two to boil victuals, and they live very miserably and hard; it is reported that they will fast two or three days together when they travel about the country.
Their common food is either herbs, flesh, or shellfish, which they get among the rocks or other places at low water: for they have no boats, bark-logs, nor Canoas to go a-fishing in; so that their chief subsistence is on land-animals, or on such herbs as the land naturally produces. I was told by my Dutch landlord that they kept sheep and bullocks here before the Dutch settled among them; and that the inland Hottentots have still great stocks of cattle and sell them to the Dutch for rolls of tobacco: and that the price for which they sell a cow or sheep was as much twisted tobacco as would reach from the horns or head to the tail; for they are great lovers of tobacco and will do anything for it. This their way of trucking was confirmed to me by many others who yet said that they could not buy their beef this cheap way, for they had not the liberty to deal with the Hottentots, that being a privilege which the Dutch East India Company reserved to themselves. My landlord having a great many lodgers fed us most with mutton, some of which he bought of the butcher, and there is but one in the town; but most of it he killed in the night, the sheep being brought privately by the Hottentots who assisted in skinning and dressing, and had the skin and guts for their pains. I judge these sheep were fetched out of the country a good way off, for he himself would be absent a day or two to procure them, and two or three Hottentots with him. These of the Hottentots that live by the Dutch town have their greatest subsistence from the Dutch, for there is one or more of them belonging to every house. These do all sorts of servile work and there take their food and grease. Three or four more of the nearest relations sit at the doors or near the Dutch house, waiting for the scraps and fragments that come from the table; and if between meals the Dutch people have any occasion for them to go on errands or the like they are ready at command; expecting little for their pains; but for a stranger they will not budge under a stiver.
Their religion, if they have any, is wholly unknown to me; for they have no temple nor idol, nor any place of worship that I did see or hear of. Yet their mirth and nocturnal pastimes at the new and full of the moon looked as if they had some superstition about it. For at the full especially they sing and dance all night, making a great noise: I walked out to their huts twice at these times in the evening when the moon arose above the horizon, and viewed them for an hour or more. They seem all very busy, both men, women and children, dancing very oddly on the green grass by their houses. They traced to and fro promiscuously, often clapping their hands and singing aloud. Their faces were sometimes to the east, sometimes to the west: neither did I see any motion or gesture that they used when their faces were towards the moon, more than when their backs were toward it. After I had thus observed them for a while I returned to my lodging, which was not above 2 or 300 paces from their huts; and I heard them singing in the same manner all night. In the grey of the morning I walked out again and found many of the men and women still singing and dancing; who continued their mirth till the moon went down, and then they left off. Some of them going into their huts to sleep and others to their attendance in their Dutch houses. Other Negroes are less circumspect in their night dances as to the precise time of the full moon, they being more general in these nocturnal pastimes and use them oftener; as do many people also in the East and West Indies: yet there is a difference between colder and warmer countries as to their divertissements. The warmer climates being generally very productive of delicate fruits, etc., and these uncivilised people caring for little else than what is barely necessary, they spend the greatest part of their time in diverting themselves after their several fashions; but the Indians of colder climates are not so much at leisure, the fruits of the earth being scarce with them, and they necessitated to be continually fishing, hunting, or fowling for their subsistence; not as with us for recreation.
As for these Hottentots they are a very lazy sort of people, and though they live in a delicate country, very fit to be manured, and where there is land enough for them, yet they choose rather to live as their forefathers, poor and miserable, than be at pains for plenty. And so much for the Hottentots: I shall now return to our own affairs.
Upon our arrival at the Cape Captain Heath took a house to live in in order to recover his health. Such of his men as were able did so too, for the rest he provided lodgings and paid their expenses. Three or four of our men who came ashore very sick died, but the rest, by the assistance of the doctors of the fort, a fine air, and good kitchen and cellar physic, soon recovered their healths. Those that subscribed to be at all calls and assisted to bring in the ship received Captain Heath's bounty, by which they furnished themselves with liquor for their homeward voyage. But we were now so few that we could not sail the ship; therefore Captain Heath desired the governor to spare him some men; and, as I was informed, had a promise to be supplied out of the homeward-bound Dutch East India ships that were now expected every day, and we waited for them. In the meantime in came the James and Mary, and the Josiah of London, bound home. Out of these we thought to have been furnished with men; but they had only enough for themselves; therefore we waited yet longer for the Dutch fleet, which at last arrived; but we could get no men from them.
Captain Heath was therefore forced to get men by stealth such as he could pick up whether soldiers or seamen. The Dutch knew our want of men, therefore near forty of them, those that had a design to return to Europe, came privately and offered themselves, and waited in the night at places appointed, where our boats went and fetched three or four aboard at a time and hid them, especially when any Dutch boat came aboard our ship. Here at the Cape I met my friend Daniel Wallis, the same who leapt into the sea and swam at Pulo Condore. After several traverses to Madagascar, Don Mascarin, Pondicherry, Pegu, Cunnimere, Madras, and the river of Hooghly he was now got hither in a homeward-bound Dutch ship. I soon persuaded him to come over to us and found means to get him aboard our ship.
About the 23rd of May we sailed from the Cape in the company of the James and Mary and the Josiah, directing our course towards the island St. Helena. We met nothing of remark in this voyage except a great swelling sea out of the south-west which, taking us on the broadside, made us roll sufficiently. Such of our water-casks as were between decks running from side to side were in a short time all staved, and the deck well washed with the fresh water. The shot tumbled out the lockers and garlands; and rung a loud peal, rumbling from side to side every roll that the ship made; neither was it an easy matter to reduce them again within bounds. The guns, being carefully looked after and lashed fast, never budged, but the tackles or pulleys and lashings made great music too. The sudden and violent motion of the ship made us fearful lest some of the guns should have broken loose, which must have been very detrimental to the ship's sides. The masts were also in great danger to be rolled by the board; but no harm happened to any of us besides the loss of three or four buts of water, and a barrel or two of good Cape wine, which was staved in the great cabin.
This great tumbling sea took us shortly after we came from the Cape. The violence of it lasted but one night; yet we had a continual swelling came out of the south-west almost during all the passage to St. Helena; which was an eminent token that the south-west winds were now violent in the higher latitudes towards the South Pole; for this was the time of the year for those winds.
Notwithstanding this boisterous sea coming thus obliquely upon us we had fine clear weather and a moderate gale at south-east, or between that and the east, till we came to the island St. Helena, where we arrived the 20th day of June. There we found the Princess Ann at an anchor waiting for us.
The island St. Helena lies in about 16 degrees south latitude. The air is commonly serene and clear except in the months that yield rain; yet we had one or two very rainy days even while we were here. Here are moist seasons to plant and sow and the weather is temperate enough as to heat, though so near the equator, and very healthy.
The island is but small, not above nine or ten leagues in length, and stands 3 or 400 leagues from the mainland. It is bounded against the sea with steep rocks so that there is no landing but at two or three places. The land is high and mountainous and seems to be very dry and poor; yet they are fine valleys, proper for cultivation. The mountains appear bare, only in some places you may see a few low shrubs, but the valleys afford some trees fit for building, as I was informed.
This island is said to have been first discovered and settled by the Portuguese, who stocked it with goats and hogs. But it being afterwards deserted by them it lay waste till the Dutch, finding it convenient to relieve their east India ships, settled it again; but they afterwards relinquished it for a more convenient place; I mean the Cape of Good Hope. Then the English East India Company settled their servants there and began to fortify it, but they being yet weak the Dutch about the year 1672 came hither and re-took it and kept it in their possession.
This news being reported in England, Captain Monday was sent to re-take it who, by the advice and conduct of one that had formerly lived there, landed a party of armed men in the night in a small cove, unknown to the Dutch then in garrison, and, climbing the rocks, got up into the island, and so came in the morning to the hills hanging over the fort, which stands by the sea in a small valley. From thence firing into the fort they soon made them surrender. There were at this time two or three Dutch East India ships either at anchor or coming thither when our ships were there. These, when they saw that the English were masters of the island again, made sail to be gone; but being chased by the English frigates two of them became rich prizes to Captain Monday and his men.
The island has continued ever since in the hands of the English East India Company, and has been greatly strengthened both with men and guns; so that at this day it is secure enough from the invasion of any enemy. For common landing-place is a small bay like a half moon, scarce 500 paces wide between the two points. Close by the seaside are good guns planted at equal distances lying along from one end of the bay to the other; besides a small fort a little further in from the sea, near the midst of the bay. All which makes the bay so strong that it is impossible to force it. The small cove where Captain Monday landed his men when he took the island from the Dutch is scarce fit for a boat to land at; and yet that is now also fortified.
There is a small English town within the great bay standing in a little valley between two high steep mountains. There may be about twenty or thirty small houses whose walls are built with rough stones: the inside furniture is very mean. The governor has a pretty tolerable handsome low house by the fort; where he commonly lives, having a few soldiers to attend him and to guard the fort. But the houses in the town before mentioned stand empty save only when ships arrive here; for their owners have all plantations farther in the island where they constantly employ themselves. But when ships arrive they all flock to the town where they live all the time that the ships lie here; for then is their fair or market to buy such necessaries as they want and to sell off the product of their plantations.
Their plantations afford potatoes, yams, and some plantains and bananas. Their stock consists chiefly of hogs, bullocks, cocks and hens, ducks, geese, and turkeys, of which they have great plenty, and sell them at a lower rate to the sailors, taking in exchange shirts, drawers, or any light clothes; pieces of calico, silks, or muslins: arak, sugar, and lime-juice is also much esteemed and coveted by them. But now they are in hopes to produce wine and brandy in a short time; for they do already begin to plant vines for that end, there being a few Frenchmen there to manage that affair. This I was told but I saw nothing of it, for it rained so hard when I was ashore that I had not the opportunity of seeing their plantations.
I was also informed that they get manatee or sea-cows here, which seemed very strange to me. Therefore enquiring more strictly into the matter I found the St. Helena manatee to be, by their shapes and manner of lying ashore on the rocks, those creatures called sea-lions; for the manatee never come ashore, neither are they found near any rocky shores as this island is, there being no feeding for them in such places. Besides in this island there is no river for them to drink at, though there is a small brook runs into the sea out of the valley by the fort.
We stayed here five or six days; all which time the islanders lived at the town to entertain the seamen; who constantly flock ashore to enjoy themselves among their country people. Our touching at the Cape had greatly drained the seamen of their loose coins, at which these islanders as greatly repined; and some of the poorer sort openly complained against such doings, saying it was fit that the East India Company should be acquainted with it, that they might hinder their ships from touching at the Cape. Yet they were extremely kind, in hopes to get what was remaining. They are most of them very poor: but such as could get a little liquor to sell to the seamen at this time got what the seamen could spare; for the punch-houses were never empty. But, had we all come directly hither and not touched at the Cape, even the poorest people among them would have gotten something by entertaining sick men. For commonly the seamen coming home are troubled more or less with scorbutic distempers: and their only hopes are to get refreshment and health at this island; and these hopes seldom or never fail them if once they get footing here. For the islands afford abundance of delicate herbs, wherewith the sick are first bathed to supple their joints, and then the fruits and herbs and fresh food soon after cure them of their scorbutic humours. So that in a week's time men that have been carried ashore in hammocks and they who were wholly unable to go have soon been able to leap and dance. Doubtless the serenity and wholesomeness of the air contributes much to the carrying off of these distempers; for here is constantly a fresh breeze. While we stayed here many of the seamen got sweethearts. One young man belonging to the James and Mary was married and brought his wife to England with him. Another brought his sweetheart to England, they being each engaged by bonds to marry at their arrival in England; and several other of our men were over head and ears in love with the St. Helena maids who, though they were born there, yet very earnestly desired to be released from that prison, which they have no other way to compass but by marrying seamen or passengers that touch here. The young women born here are but one remove from English, being the daughters of such. They are well-shaped, proper and comely, were they in a dress to set them off.
My stay ashore here was but two days to get refreshments for myself and Jeoly, whom I carried ashore with me: and he was very diligent to pick up such things as the islands afforded, carrying ashore with him a bag which the people of the isle filled with roots for him. They flocked about him and seemed to admire him much. This was the last place where I had him at my own disposal, for the mate of the ship who had Mr. Moody's share in him left him entirely to my management, I being to bring him to England. But I was no sooner arrived in the Thames but he was sent ashore to be seen by some eminent persons; and I, being in want of money, was prevailed upon to sell first part of my share in him, and by degrees all of it. After this I heard he was carried about to be shown as a sight and that he died of the smallpox at Oxford.
Engraving of Prince Giolo [Jeoly, in Dampier's text] by John Savage. Illustration does not appear in New Voyage.—JW.
But to proceed, our water being filled and the ship all stocked with fresh provision, we sailed from hence in company of the Princess Ann, the James and Mary, and the Josiah, July the 2nd 1691, directing our course towards England, and designing to touch nowhere by the way. We were now in the way of the tradewinds, which we commonly find at east-south-east or south-east by east or south-east till we draw near the Line, and sometimes till we are eight or ten degrees to the north of the Line. For which reason ships might shape their course so as to keep on the African shore and pass between Cape Verde and Cape Verde Islands; for that seems to be the directest course to England. But experience often shows us that the farthest way about is the nearest way home, and so it is here. For by striving to keep near the African shore you meet with the winds more uncertain and subject to calms; whereas in keeping the midway between Africa and America, or rather nearer the American continent, till you are north of the Line you have a brisk constant gale.
This was the way we took, and in our passage before we got to the Line we saw three ships and, making towards them we found two of them to be Portuguese, bound to Brazil. The third kept on a wind so that we could not speak with her; but we found by the Portuguese it was an English ship called the Dorothy, Captain Thwart commander, bound to the East Indies. After this we kept company still with our three consorts till we came near England, and then were separated by bad weather; but before we came within sight of land we got together again, all but the James and Mary. She got into the Channel before us and went to Plymouth, and there gave an account of the rest of us; whereupon our men-of-war who lay there came out to join us and, meeting us, brought us off of Plymouth. There our consort the James and Mary came to us again, and from thence we all sailed in company of several men-of-war towards Portsmouth. There our first convoy left us and went in thither. But we did not want convoys, for our fleets were then repairing to their winter harbours to be laid up; so that we had the company of several English ships to the Downs, and a squadron also of Dutch sailed up the Channel, but kept off farther from our English coast, they being bound home to Holland. When we came as high as the south foreland we left them standing on their course, keeping on the back of the Goodwin Sands; and we luffed in for the Downs where we anchored September the 16th, 1691.