Page images
PDF
EPUB

SITE FOR COTTON-FACTORY.

151

latter there were two hundred and fourteen, most of them full-grown. It was as much as the strength of one of us could accomplish to lift this single cluster from the ground.

Several chiefs called to take leave of us, being about to sail for Eimeo to visit the king. It is supposed that, in the event of his demise, Tati, his prime adviser, will assume the regency, as guardian to Pomare's son or daughter, both of whom are children. This chief, though an able and worthy man, is not generally beloved, as he is suspected to be inclined towards arbitrary measures in the administration of state affairs, to which the people, having now tasted the sweets of enfranchisement, are resolutely opposed.

266 The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice, and the multitude of the isles be glad thereof.”—This is our assurance of hope.

Messrs. Armitage and Blossom came, this afternoon, to inform us that they had examined and approved of the station which had been pointed out for a cotton-mill, in Eimeo. The chiefs of that island were very anxious that the manufactory should be established there, and had offered to build suitable houses, &c. if it were so determined. Pomare, too, had said that he should not prevent it, if we were in favour of Eimeo,—though both he and Manaonao, a principal chief here, had set their minds on having the first cotton-works commenced in Tahiti : the latter, fearing to lose this benefit to his district, had actually dispatched two double canoes, with forty men, who had taken possession of the machinery against Mr. Blossom's will, but under a plea of royal authority. On consulting with Messrs. Nott and Wilson, it was their opinion that it would not be well to thwart the king's purposes, because, unless the undertaking were countenanced by him, it would inevitably fail in the issue.

Nov. 9. We walked to the house of Manaonao, to settle

152

AMERICAN SHIP IN MATAVAI BAY.

to

the question respecting the cotton-factory; and at his desire we visited several places in his district of Pare, but found them all equally ineligible, there being no fall of water from any source of sufficient power to be applied to millwork. The old man was much distressed by our unfavourable report, and requested us to explore another watercourse, at a place called Pirae, where there is a small village, with several considerable buildings, unoccupied, which might be turned to immediate use if the settlement should be made there. This site appeared to all of us preferable

any other that we had seen, and if the plan must be tried in Tahiti we agreed that this should be the place. The chief was now as much delighted as he had been before disheartened; and he issued orders for the workpeople to begin, forthwith, to put the standing tenements in repair, at his own expense, for the present accommodation of Messrs. Armitage and Blossom.

In the bed of one of the currents which we traced we found a black shell, resembling an English snail's, in size and shape, but having six sharp spines, like those of a thorn, growing round it in a spiral form, from the centre to the circumference.

Nov. 10. Early in the afternoon a ship was descried in the offing, and by six o'clock she cast anchor in Matavai bay. She proved to be the General Gates, Captain Riggs, an American, in the seal-fishery, three years from home, but unsuccessful, having taken no more than eleven thousand seals, when seventy thousand were wanted to complete her cargo. The captain had touched a few days ago at Raivavai, or High Island, where, having detected a native in the act of stealing a musket from his boat, he attempted to recover it, but received a blow from a sabre (which the savage had concealed) that had nearly cost him his life, having cut

A PLOT TO SEIZE A EUROPEAN VESSEL.

153

through his hat. This island acknowledges the sovereignty of Pomare, who had visited it some time ago, and left two Tahitians there to teach the inhabitants the truths of the gospel. In the affair just mentioned, the captain was about to take vengeance upon the natives for the affront which he had suffered, but the Tahitian Missionaries interposed and made peace. Captain Riggs speaks well of the people generally, who have abjured idolatry and embraced the doctrines of Christ. Instances have not unfrequently occurred, in which the Missionaries at Tahiti have prevented the commanders of foreign ships from committing, or sustaining, injuries. Once, in war time, a party, under some provocation, had declared that they would seize the first vessel which should arrive on the coast. Mr. Nott, then residing with the king, who was a fugitive from his own island, in Eimeo, heard of this, and determined, if possible, to prevent it. He therefore wrote a letter to warn any captain who might arrive of the desperate design. It was a matter of no small difficulty to find a trust-worthy messenger, who would watch the opportunity, and deliver the caution in time to obviate the danger. By the advice of Pomare, a native of the Pomotu Islands was selected for this service. The letter was given into his charge, and he was directed to go and reside among others of his countrymen, at Matavai. It is said that, notwithstanding he acted with the utmost discretion, he was suspected by the Tahitians; however, he proved true to his employers, and by good management contrived to secrete the letter till the opportunity of using it came. At length His Majesty's ship, the Hibernia, Captain Campbell, appeared, and anchored in the bay of Matavai, for it was not in the man's power to get on board before she came in. The natives immediately put out in their canoes, and, being welcomed

154

THE PLOT PREVENTED.

by the crew, soon crowded the deck. They were headed by the chief of Pare, who was to conduct the execution of the plot. To throw the captain off his guard this chief presented him with a large roll of native cloth, and behaved with the greatest semblance of good will. Two or three days were necessary to complete the preparations for the capture. When the crisis arrived, the chief of Pare gave the signal of attack, but the chiefs of Matavai, who were leagued with him, perceiving that there were more of his people than of theirs on board at the time, and fearing that these would get the greatest share of the plunder, tacitly forbore to act. This, providentially, caused the delay of another day. Early the next morning, the Pomotu man, finding part of an old canoe on the beach, with perilous resolution hazarded his life in it, and was able to keep it afloat till he was received on board of the British ship. Proceeding instantly to the cabin where the captain lay asleep, he awoke him, and presented the letter. A favourable breeze was blowing, and the vessel was soon under weigh, and out of reach of danger, either from the natives already on board (including the chief of Pare), or the multitude in canoes that were putting off from the shore to join them and carry the design into effect. Enraged by this unexpected failure—the occasion of which they instantly perceivedthe Tahitians on board rushed towards the cabin to murder the man who had given the strangers the hint to escape. The captain, however, protected him with a loaded pistol, which kept the assailants at bay, and they were presently all driven overboard, and picked up by their companions, in canoes, as they swam for their lives towards the harbour. Captain Campbell immediately sailed for Eimeo, where he waited on Mr. Nott, and gratefully acknowledged his very considerate kindness, to which the preservation of the ship

[blocks in formation]

and crew appeared to be owing.—The same captain had an armed schooner on her way to Tahiti, the arrival of which was expected in a few weeks. He therefore left a boat's crew at Eimeo, with directions to keep a good look out to prevent that vessel from proceeding to Tahiti. The men failed in this duty, from neglect or accident; the schooner reached its appointed destination, and was immediately boarded, stormed, and plundered by the savages. One man was killed in the conflict; the rest of the crew, though overpowered by numbers and taken prisoners, eventually made their escape to Eimeo, and the schooner was afterwards recovered.

Nov. 12. We have agreed with Captain Riggs, of the General Gates, to convey us to the Leeward Islands, which he intends to visit, and whither, but for this favourable opportunity, we had not expected to be able to go before next spring

A man from the Pomotu Islands having died yesterday, we went to see the funeral this morning. The coffin was one end of an old canoe; the corpse was covered with a piece of coarse red cloth, and tied down with a cord. Two of the deceased's countrymen dug the grave with the broad ends of two old paddles. His wife sat beside the coffin on the ground, while the earth was thrown up. She did not appear at all disconsolate, but joined in conversation, and even in laughter, with the company around her.

In the afternoon, wishing to visit Captain Riggs, to agree upon the terms of our passage, we went, accompanied by Mr. Wilson, down to the beach to look for a convey

The ship's boat had not come on shore, and we saw no canoes at hand, though there were many out of call round the vessel. At last we found a small canoe lying under the shade of some pandanus palm-trees, and not far

ance.

« EelmineJätka »