Narrative Of The Voyage Of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By The Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During The Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries And Surveys In New Guinea, The Louisiade Archipelago, Etc. To Which Is Added The Account Of Mr. E.B. Kennedy's Expedition For The Exploration Of The Cape York Peninsula. By John Macgillivray, F.R.G.S. Naturalist To The Expedition. In Two Volumes. Volume 1.
John MacGillivray

Part 4 out of 6

petticoat of grass-like stuff, probably the pandanus leaf divided into
fine shreds--worked into a narrow band which ties round the waist. They
usually, when alongside the ship, held a small piece of matting over the
head with one hand, either to protect them from the sun or partially to
secure themselves from observation, as in their manners they were much
more reserved than the men.


At Coral Haven we have already seen considerable variety displayed in the
various styles of painting the body. Pounded charcoal mixed up with
coconut oil, and lime obtained from burnt shells similarly treated, are
the pigments made use of. The most common fashion of painting is with a
broad streak down the forehead, and a circle round each eye. Occasionally
the entire body is blackened, but often the face only--with daubs of
paint on the temples, cheek, and round the mouth and one or both eyes,
rendering a forbidding countenance inexpressibly hideous in our sight.


The ornaments worn by these savages are very numerous, besides which they
are fond of decorating the person with flowers and strong-scented plants.
In what may be considered as full dress, with the face and body painted,
they are often decked out with large white cowries appended to their
waist, elbows and ankles, together with streamers of pandanus leaf. Among
many kinds of bracelets or armlets the most common is a broad woven one
of grass, fitting very tightly on the upper arm. There are others of
shell--one solid, formed by grinding down a large shell (Trochus
niloticus) so as to obtain a well polished transverse section, and
another in two or three pieces tied together, making a round smooth ring;
of the former of these five or six are sometimes worn on one arm. But the
most curious bracelet, and by no means an uncommon one, is that made of a
human lower jaw with one or more collar bones closing the upper side
crossing from one angle to the other. Whether these are the jaws of
former friends or enemies we had no means of ascertaining; no great value
appeared to be attached to them; and it was observed, as a curious
circumstance, that none of these jaws had the teeth discoloured by the
practice of betel chewing.

We procured various sorts of necklaces--strings of shells, black seeds,
and dogs' teeth. As the canine teeth alone are used in making one of the
last description, the number of dogs required to complete a single
necklace must be considerable. A round thin, concave piece of shell (Melo
ethiopica) with a central black portion, is often worn suspended by a
string round the neck, and similar ornaments, but much smaller, are
attached to the hips and elbows. The long nose-stick of shell is only
occasionally worn, although everyone, of either sex, has the septum of
the nose pierced for its reception--an operation most likely performed
during infancy, as I once saw that it had been done to a child about a
year old.

Nearly all the men carried in their hair a comb projecting in front or on
one side. This article is usually made of wood, but occasionally of
tortoise-shell, a foot in length, thin, flat, and narrow, with about six
very long, slightly diverging, needle-shaped teeth, but it admits of much
variety of size and shape, and frequently has various ornaments attached
to it. The spatula used by betel chewers to introduce the lime to the
mouth, although often made of tortoise-shell and resembling that figured
above, is more commonly made of coconut-wood, with a massive handle,
deeply divided by a slit, and when struck upon the knee it is made to
produce a loud clicking noise like that of castanets.


Leave Coral Haven.
Brierly Island.
Communication with the Natives.
Description of their Huts.
Bartering for Yams and Cocoa-nuts.
Suspicious conduct of the Natives.
They attack the Surveying Boats.
Calvados Group.
Further communication with the Inhabitants.
Stay at Duchateau Islands.
Their Productions.
Proceedings there.
Duperre Islands.
Unable to find Anchorage.
Pass out to Sea, and proceed to the Westward.
Western termination of the Louisiade Archipelago.
Reach the Coast of New Guinea.

July 2nd.

The Bramble having returned from an exploration to the westward with the
report that there was a passage out of Coral Haven in that direction, the
ship left her anchorage off the watering-place this morning, with boats
ahead and on each side of her, repeating the soundings by signal; she ran
along the land to the westward seven or eight miles, passed between Pig
and South-east Islands, rounded the north-west end of the latter, stood
between it and Joannet Island to the West-South-West for about five
miles, and anchored early in the forenoon in 15 fathoms, water, under a
small detached reef and dry sandbank. Several very fine red snappers were
caught with hook and line soon after anchoring, and smaller fish of many
kinds were caught in abundance--they were mostly species of Pentapus,
Diacope, and Mesoprion.


While passing a small island--afterwards named in honour of Mr.
Brierly--distant from our anchorage about two miles North-west by West,
several women and dogs were seen on shore, and soon afterwards two
canoes, which had followed us from the anchorage, were seen to put in
there. In the afternoon two boats were sent to this island, to
communicate with the natives, and search for an anchorage near it.


We landed upon a sandy beach, after wading over the fringing reef, and
were met by some natives who had come round a neighbouring point from the
windward or inhabited side. Although at first cautious of approach, yet
in the course of a few minutes they came freely about us to the number of
twenty, each carrying two or three spears--not the beautifully polished
and well-balanced ones we had seen elsewhere, but merely slender,
rudely-fashioned sticks sharpened at each end. About twelve women,
dressed in the usual petticoat of grass-like stuff, followed at a
distance, and kept close to the point for some time; but at length the
natural curiosity of the sex (I suppose) overcame their fear, and
although repeatedly ordered back by the men, they drew up closer and
closer to have a peep at the strangers. Two of the youngest and most
attractive of these ladies advanced to within twenty yards, and received
with much apparent delight, and a great deal of capering and dancing
about on the sand, some strips of a gaudy handkerchief conveyed to them
by a lad decorated with streamers of pandanus leaf at the elbows and
wrists--evidently the Adonis of the party. Some of the men had formerly
been off to the ship, and one or two carried axes of the usual form, but
headed with pieces of our iron hoop, neatly ground to a fine edge. A few
coconuts were given us for a knife or two, and we saw their mode of
climbing for them, which one man did with the agility of a monkey,
ascending first by a few notches, made years ago, afterwards by clasping
the trunk with his arms, arching his body with the feet against the tree,
and then walking up precisely in the mode of the Torres Strait Islanders.
Like these last people too, they open the nut with a sharp stick, and use
a shell (a piece of mother-of-pearl oyster) for scraping out the pulp.
After a stay of half an hour we returned to the boat leaving the natives
in good humour. Our search for a safe anchorage for the ship was
unsuccessful, so we returned on board.

July 3rd.

After the good understanding which appeared to have been established
yesterday, I was rather surprised at observing the suspicious manner in
which we were received today by the people on Brierly Island. In two
boats we went round to a small sandy point on the northern side of the
island where seven or eight canoes were hauled up on the beach, but some
time elapsed before any of the natives came close up--even to a single
unarmed man of our party who waded ashore--the others remaining in the
boats--although tempted by the display of pieces of iron hoop and strips
of calico. One of the natives, carrying a wooden sword, and apparently a
leading man among them, made some signs and used gesticulations
expressive of sleep or death with reference to a part of Joannet Island
which he repeatedly pointed to. This we could not understand.* After a
certain degree of confidence had been restored, five or six of us
remained on shore, and great harmony appeared to prevail throughout the
combined party. In one place the sergeant of marines was seated on the
sand with a ring of people round him whom he was drilling into the mode
of singing a Port Essington aboriginal song, occasionally rising to vary
his lesson with a dance--in another, a group of natives were being
initiated in the mysteries of the Jew's harp, or kept amused by the
performance of various antics. Mr. Huxley as usual, was at work with his
sketch-book, and I employed myself in procuring words for an incipient
vocabulary. My principal informant was called Wadai, a little withered
old man with shaved head, on which someone had stuck a red night-cap
which greatly took his fancy. Not being of so volatile a nature as the
others he remained patiently with me for half an hour.

(*Footnote. Although not understood at the time, he referred to an affray
between two boats detached from the ship on surveying service and some
Joannet Island canoes, which had occurred only a few hours before at the
place indicated; of this we had not yet heard, but the news had reached
Brierly Island, and occasioned our strange reception. This is a
remarkable instance of the rapidity with which intelligence may be
conveyed from one island to another.)


He showed me the mode of using the betel, which, as practised by these
people has this peculiarity, that the leaf of the siri or betel pepper is
not employed, as is universally the case among the Malays. A small
portion of the green betelnut (the fruit of the Areca catechu) which here
curiously enough is named ereka--is broken off with the teeth and placed
in the mouth; then the spatula, formerly described, moistened with
saliva, is dipped into a small calabash of lime in fine powder, with
which the tongue and lips are smeared over by repeated applications. The
bolus is then kept in the mouth, and rolled over and over until it is
thought requisite to renew it. The practice of betel chewing is not
confined to the men, for the few women whom we had seen alongside the
ship in Coral Haven, had their teeth blackened by it.

One of the natives seen today exhibited a remarkable case of malformation
of the teeth. The lower incisors were wanting, and the upper ones had
coalesced and grown downwards and outwards, forming an irregular dark
protruding mass which I at first took to be a quid of betel. Another man
with a diseased leg had lost one hand at the wrist, and the long
shrivelled arm presented a curious appearance.

Several dogs were also seen close to, for the first time--they were
wretched half-starved objects of various colours, but agreed in being
long-bodied, short-legged, and prick-eared, with sharp snout and long
tail, slightly bushy, but tapering to a point. They do not bark, but have
the long melancholy howl of the dingo or wild dog of Australia.


At length some of us found our way to the huts of the natives which were
close at hand, and had thus an opportunity of examining one of them
minutely, besides verifying what we had before seen only from a distance,
and with the aid of the telescope. The distinctive characters of these
huts consist in their being long and tunnel-like, drooping and
overhanging at each end, raised from the ground upon posts, and thatched
over. The four huts composing the village were placed in two adjacent
clearings, fifty or sixty yards in length, screened from the beach by a
belt of small trees and brushwood, behind is the usual jungle of the
wooded islands of the Archipelago, with a path leading through it towards
the centre of the island. A solitary hut stood perched upon the ridge
near the summit shaded by cocoa-palms, and partially hid among the bushes
and tall grass. It differed from those of the village in having the posts
projecting through the roof, but whether used as a dwelling or not, is a
matter of conjecture. It may possibly have been used for the reception of
the dead. In the village an approximate measurement gave thirty feet as
the length, nine the breadth, and thirteen the height in centre of one of
these huts--the one figured in the accompanying plate; the annexed
woodcut gives an end view of another. All four were built upon exactly
the same plan. The supporting posts are four in number, and raise the
floor about four and a half feet from the ground, leaving a clear space
beneath. Before entering the body of the hut each post passes through an
oval disc of wood, a foot and a half in diameter, the object of which is
probably to prevent the ingress into the dwelling of snakes, rats, or
other vermin, most likely the Mus indicus, with which all the islands to
the westward are overrun. To the stout uprights are lashed transverse
bars supporting three long parallel timbers running the whole length of
the floor; on these seven or eight transverse poles are laid, crossed by
about a dozen longitudinal and slighter ones, on which a flooring of long
strips of the outer wood of the coconut-tree is laid across. After
penetrating the floor, the main posts rise five feet higher, where they
are connected at top by others as tie-beams, which cross them, and
project a little further to sustain the two lateral of the five
longitudinal supports of the roof, which, at the gable ends, are further
secured by other tie-beams. On the two central cross-bars also is laid a
platform running one half the length of the hut, floored on one side,
forming a partial upper story, with a space of three feet between it and
the ceiling. The sides and roof are formed of slender poles or rafters
arching over from side to side, secured by lashings of rattan to five
poles running lengthways; the whole forming a strong framework thatched
over with coarse grass pulled up by the roots in large tufts, with a few
cocoa-palm leaves laid over all. The lower part of the sides and upper
portion of the ends under the overhanging gables are formed by strips of
coarse matting. There are usually entrances at both ends, and the centre
of one side, closed by a flap of matting finer than the rest. Opposite
each door an inclined beam--one end of which rests on the ground, and the
other leans against the fork of a short upright post--serves as a step
for mounting by.

Near these huts were several large sheds, open at one side, where the
cooking is performed--judging from the remains of fires under them. On
two small stages, planked over, we saw a number of thin and neatly carved
earthen pots, blackened with smoke; these are usually a foot in diameter,
but one was as much as eighteen inches. I was struck with a feature
exhibiting the cleanly habits of these savages, from whom in this respect
the inhabitants of many villages in the mother country might take a
lesson--it consisted in the well swept ground, where not a stray stone or
leaf was suffered to remain, and the absence about the dwellings of
everything offensive to the smell or sight.


I could not help contrasting the condition of these people with that of
the Australian blacks, a considerable portion of whose time, at certain
periods of the year, is spent in shifting about from place to place,
searching for food, living from hand to mouth, and leading a hard and
precarious life. But here, on this little island, the coconut-tree alone
would be sufficient to supply many of the principal wants of man. The
fruit serves both for food and drink--the shell is used to carry about
water in*--the fibres of the husk are converted into cordage, and the
leaves into matting, while the wood is fashioned into spears and other
useful articles. The cultivation of bananas and yams--of the latter of
which, and of two other edible roots, we saw large quantities in the
huts--costs him very little trouble--he occasionally keeps a few pigs,
and when inclined, can always catch plenty of fish, and occasionally a
turtle upon the reefs at low-water.

(*Footnote. Some of these are represented in the preceding woodcut--the
hole in the top is usually plugged with a portion of banana leaf.)

Before leaving the beach I presented old Wadai with an axe, as a
recompense for his civility. The poor man looked quite bewildered at his
unexpected good fortune, and for a little while was quite speechless--not
understanding the nature of a gift, or being taken with a sudden fit of
generosity, he afterwards waded out to the boat with some coconuts to
give me in return.


July 4th.

The first cutter was sent to Brierly Island today, for the double purpose
of endeavouring to procure yams from the natives for the use of the
ship's company, and enabling me to make additions to my vocabulary and
collection. Mr. Brady took charge of the bartering, and drawing a number
of lines upon the sandy beach, explained that when each was covered with
a yam he would give an axe in return. At first some little difficulty
occurred as the yams were brought down very slowly--two or three at a
time--but at length the first batch was completed and the axe handed
over. The man who got it--the sword-bearer of yesterday--had been
trembling with anxiety for some time back, holding Mr. Brady by the arm
and watching the promised axe with eager eye. When he obtained possession
of it he became quite wild with joy, laughing and screaming, and
flourishing the axe over his head. After this commencement the bartering
went on briskly amidst a good deal of uproar, the men passing between the
village and the beach at full speed, with basketfuls of yams, and too
intent upon getting the kiram kelumai (iron-axes) to think of anything
else. Meanwhile Mr. Huxley and myself walked about unheeded by almost
anyone. The women kept themselves in the bush at a little distance,
making a great noise, but avoided showing themselves. Occasionally we
caught a glimpse of these sable damsels, but only one female came near
us--a meagre old woman who darted past with an axe in her hand, and
sprang up into one of the huts like a harlequin, showing at the same time
more of her long shrivelled shanks than was strictly decorous. Besides
the usual petticoat reaching to the knee, made of a grass or some
leaf--perhaps of the pandanus--cut into long shreds, this dame wore a
somewhat similar article round the neck, hanging over the breast and
shoulders, leaving the arms free. An axe was offered to one of the men,
who had previously sat for his portrait, to induce him to bring the woman
to Mr. Huxley, who was anxious to get a sketch of a female, but in spite
of the strong inducement we did not succeed, and any further notice taken
of the woman seemed to give offence. While wandering about the place we
came upon a path leading into the adjacent brush, but blocked up by some
coconut leaves recently thrown across. This led past an enclosure of
about three quarters of an acre, neatly and strongly fenced in, probably
used as a pen for keeping pigs in, judging from the absence of anything
like cultivation, and the trodden-down appearance, apparently made by
these animals, a jaw-bone of one of which was picked up close by.


At length the natives appeared anxious to get rid of us, after obtaining
about seventeen axes and a few knives, in return for 368 pounds of yams,
which cost us little more than a halfpenny per pound. After wading out to
the boat, the natives assisted in shoving her off, and when we had got
well clear of the beach, they treated us to what might have been one of
their dances, dividing into two parties, and with wild pantomimic
gesture, advancing and retiring, and going through the motion of throwing
the spear, with one or two of which each was provided.


Even during the height of the bartering very few of the natives had laid
aside their weapons, and it was evident that they were influenced by no
very friendly feeling towards us, and were glad to be relieved of our
presence. They had latterly become more noisy than usual, and even
insolent, and I believe that had we stayed a little longer, hostilities
would have commenced, as they probably regarded our forbearance to be the
result of fear.

We landed on the opposite side of the island to give me an opportunity of
procuring some specimens, as it was judged that our shooting there would
not annoy the inhabitants. The boat remained off at anchor while some of
us strolled along the beach, getting an occasional shot. Birds however
were few. Among those seen were the fishing-eagle, osprey, and two
smaller birds--all Australian. On the slope behind the beach we saw for
the first time signs of cultivation--in a small plantation of bananas and
yams. There was no fence, but the ground had been partially cleared,
leaving the stumps of the smaller trees and shrubs as posts for the yam
plants (a Dioscorea with broad heart-shaped leaves) to train themselves
upon. After a stay of nearly an hour, we were moving down towards the
boat, when the natives made their appearance round the point, coming up
in straggling order. One in advance of the rest came along at a rapid
pace with his spear poised, and pointed it at the nearest of our party,
when within a few yards of him, with what intention I do not presume to
say--but the natives were evidently in a state of great excitement. As
they might erroneously have supposed that we had been making free with
their coconuts and yams, some grass which had been cut for the sheep on
board was taken out of the bag and shown them as being intended for our
bobo (pigs)--which they appeared to understand. The one among them who
had yesterday made the allusion to Joannet Island pointed to our guns,
talking at the same time with great energy, and making signs as if
wishing to see the use of a weapon of whose wonderful effects he had
lately heard. As many swallows were flying about, I told Wilcox--probably
the best shot of the party--to shoot one, which was done cleverly, and
the bird fell at our feet. The indications of surprise were not so great
as I expected to have seen exhibited, but after several more shots had
been fired, some with ball along the water, a few of the natives began to
show signs of uneasiness and sneaked away. Old Wadai, however (perhaps
feeling perfectly secure under the shelter of his perfect insignificance)
and one or two others sat down under a tree beside us, apparently
unconcerned, and some of the rest remained on the beach until after our

We did not afterwards land upon Brierly Island, so I may conclude with a
short description. It is not more than half a mile in length, with a
central ridge attaining the height of 347 feet, and sloping downwards at
each end. It is well wooded with low trees and brushwood, and mixed up
with them there is a profusion of cocoa-palms scattered about in clumps,
from the margin of the beach to the shoulders of the hill; long coarse
grass, at this time of a beautiful light green tint, covered the
remainder. The usual fringing coral reef surrounds the island, running
off to a great distance in one direction. The greater part of the shore
and the projecting points are rocky (where the soft splintery mica slate
has been exposed) with occasional sandy beaches. We saw no fresh water,
but the declivities here and there showed deep furrows in the red clayey
soil, the effects of torrents after heavy rains.


Today and yesterday I obtained in all about 130 words of the language of
the Brierly Island people. The small vocabulary thus formed, the first
ever obtained in the Louisiade Archipelago, leads to some interesting
results, and fills up one of the gaps in the chain of philological
affinities which may afterwards be brought to bear upon the perplexing
question--Whence has Australia been peopled? Taking the numerals as
affording in the present instance the most convenient materials for hasty
comparison, I find words in common--not only with those of other
divisions of the Pelagian Negroes,* as the inhabitants of the north coast
of New Guinea on the one hand, and New Ireland on the other, but also
with the Malay and the various Polynesian languages or dialects spoken
from New Zealand to Tahiti.** This latter affinity between the woolly and
straight-haired sections of oceanic blacks appears to me to render it
more curious and unexpected that the language of the Louisiade should
completely differ from that of the northern part of Torres Strait,*** the
inhabitants of both being connected by strong general similarity and
occasionally identity in manners and customs, and having many physical
characteristics common to both. Yet while the natives of the Louisiade
use the decimal system of the Malays and Polynesians, the Torres Strait
islanders have simple words to express the numerals one and two only,
while three is represented by a compound.****

(*Footnote. Natural History of Man by J.C. Prichard, M.D. 2nd edition
page 326.)

(**Footnote. D'Urville's Voyage de l'Astrolabe Philologie tome 2.)

(***Footnote. Jukes' Voyage of the Fly volume 2 page 274.)

(****Footnote. These remarks I give as written in my journal, with the
sole exception of the term Pelagian Negroes. The reader is referred to
Dr. Latham's observations on my Vocabularies in the Appendix to this


July 6th.

Lieutenants Dayman and Simpson, with the pinnace and second galley,
returned to the ship after an absence of several days. On the morning of
the 4th, after having spent the night at anchor in one of the bays on the
south side of Joannet Island, they were attacked by the natives under the
following circumstances: In the grey of the morning the lookouts reported
the approach of three canoes, with about ten men in each. On two or three
persons showing themselves in the bow of the pinnace in front of the
rain-awning, the natives ceased paddling, as if baulked in their design
of surprising the large boat, but, after a short consultation, they came
alongside in their usual noisy manner. After a stay of about five minutes
only they pushed off to the galley, and some more sham bartering was
attempted, but they had nothing to give in exchange for the kelumai so
much coveted. In a short time the rudeness and overbearing insolence of
the natives had risen to a pitch which left no doubt of their hostile
intentions. The anchor was got up, when some of the blacks seized the
painter, and others in trying to capsize the boat brought the gunwale
down to the water's edge, at the same time grappling with the men to pull
them out, and dragging the galley inshore towards the shoal water. The
bowman, with the anchor in his hand, was struck on the head with a
stone-headed axe, the blow was repeated, but fortunately took effect only
on the wash-streak; another of the crew was struck at with a similar
weapon, but warded off the blow, although held fast by one arm, when,
just as the savage was making another stroke, Lieutenant Dayman, who
until now had excercised the utmost forbearance, fired at him with a
musket. The man did not drop although wounded in the thigh; but even
this, unquestionably their first experience of firearms, did not
intimidate the natives, one of whom, standing on a block of coral, threw
a spear which passed across the breast of one of the boat's crew and
lodged in the bend of one arm, opening the vein. They raised a loud shout
when the spear was seen to take effect, and threw several others which
missed. Lieutenant Simpson, who had been watching what was going on then
fired from the pinnace with buckshot and struck them, when, finding that
the large boat, although at anchor, could assist the smaller one, the
canoes were paddled inshore in great haste and confusion. Some more
musket shots were fired, and the galley went in chase endeavouring to
turn the canoes, so as to bring them under the fire of the pinnace's
12-pounder howitzer, which was speedily mounted and fired. The shot
either struck one of the canoes or went within a few inches of the mark,
on which the natives instantly jumped overboard into the shallow water,
making for the mangroves, which they succeeded in reaching, dragging
their canoes with them. Two rounds of grape-shot crashing through the
branches dispersed the party, but afterwards they moved two of the canoes
out of sight. The remaining one was brought out after breakfast by the
galley under cover of the pinnace, and was towed off to some distance.
The paddles having been taken out and the spears broken and left in her,
she was let go to drift down towards a village whence the attacking party
were supposed to have come. Some blood in this canoe, although not the
one most aimed at, showed that the firing had not been ineffective.

This act of deliberate treachery was perpetrated by persons who had
always been well-treated by us, for several of the natives present were
recognised as having been alongside the ship in Coral Haven. This, their
first act of positive hostility, affords, I think, conclusive evidence of
the savage disposition of the natives of this part of the Louisiade when
excited by the hope of plunder, and shows that no confidence should ever
be reposed in them unless, perhaps, in the presence of a numerically
superior force, or the close vicinity of the ship. At the same time the
boldness of these savages in attacking, with thirty men in three canoes,
two boats known to contain at least twenty persons--even in hopes of
taking them by surprise--and in not being at once driven off upon feeling
the novel and deadly effects of musketry, indicates no little amount of
bravery. In the course of the same day, when Lieutenant Dayman was close
inshore with the galley laying down the coastline, he had occasion to
approach the native village before alluded to, and observed the men
following the boat along the beach within gunshot, sharpening and poising
their spears, violently gesticulating and calling out loudly, as if
daring him to land. A favourable opportunity was now afforded for
punishing the natives for their treachery; but from highly commendable
motives of humanity, no steps were taken for this purpose by Lieutenant
Dayman, and they were treated with silent contempt.

July 10th.

The Bramble and two of our boats were sent to ascertain whether an easy
passage to the westward existed inshore near the islands (Calvados Group)
extending in that direction, while, at the same time, the ship stood to
the southward and anchored in 28 fathoms, four miles inside the
barrier-reef. On our way we passed numerous small coral patches, and
others were afterwards found to the westward, running in irregular lines,
and partially blocking up the passage inside the barrier, which it was
expected would have been found clear.


We remained here for five days, during which period we had much variety
of weather--sometimes blowing hard from East-South-East to
East-North-East with squalls and thick gloomy weather--at other times
nearly a calm, the air disagreeably close and muggy, the temperature
varying from 75 to 85 degrees, with occasional heavy rain.


Small fish appeared to abound at this anchorage. I had never before seen
the sucking-fish (Echeneis remora) so plentiful as at this place; they
caused much annoyance to our fishermen by carrying off baits and hooks,
and appeared always on the alert, darting out in a body of twenty or more
from under the ship's bottom when any offal was thrown overboard. Being
quite a nuisance, and useless as food, Jack often treated them as he
would a shark, by spritsail-yarding, or some still less refined mode of
torture. One day some of us while walking the poop had our attention
directed to a sucking-fish about two and a half feet in length which had
been made fast by the tail to a billet of wood by a fathom or so of spun
yarn, and turned adrift. An immense striped shark, apparently about
fourteen feet in length, which had been cruising about the ship all the
morning, sailed slowly up, and, turning slightly on one side, attempted
to seize the apparently helpless fish, but the sucker, with great
dexterity, made himself fast in a moment to the shark's back--off darted
the monster at full speed--the sucker holding on fast as a limpet to a
rock, and the billet towing astern. He then rolled over and over,
tumbling about, when, wearied with his efforts, he laid quiet for a
little. Seeing the float, the shark got it into his mouth, and
disengaging the sucker by the tug on the line, made a bolt at the fish;
but his puny antagonist was again too quick, and fixing himself close
behind the dorsal fin, defied the efforts of the shark to disengage him,
although he rolled over and over, lashing the water with his tail until
it foamed all around. What the final result was, we could not clearly
make out.

Many water snakes were seen here, swimming about on the surface; and one
of two chasing each other and playing about the ship was shot by Captain
Stanley from his cabin window, and brought on board. It appeared to be of
the genus Hypotrophis, and measured 37 1/2 inches in length; it had a
pair of minute poison fangs on each side of the upper jaw; the colour was
a dirty greenish with numerous pale narrow bands.


July 16th.

The pinnace having returned yesterday and reported a clear passage for
the ship to the westward close inshore, we got underweigh and returned on
the same line by which we had come out, anchoring for the night in 19
fathoms water, under Observation Reef 2. Next day we rounded Brierly
Island from the eastward, passed between it and Joannet Island, and after
running a few miles further to the westward, anchored in 30 fathoms--15
miles West-North-West from Brierly Island, and two miles from the nearest
of the Calvados Group. In passing Brierly Island the place appeared to be
deserted. We saw a single canoe hauled up on the beach, but no natives.

On July 18th, after standing to the westward 32 miles, we hauled out
south, and anchored in 22 fathoms, about eight miles from the nearest of
the Calvados. We remained at this anchorage for the next three days.


One day we were visited by a canoe from a neighbouring island, and on the
following morning two more canoes came off. The people in one canoe kept
at a safe distance, but those in the other came alongside, and after
exhausting their stock of yams and other articles of barter, went off to
their more cautious companions, and speedily returned to us with a fresh
supply. The canoe was an old patched-up affair, and while one of the
natives was standing up with a foot on each gunwale, a previous fracture
in the bow, united only by pitch, gave way, and a piece of the side, four
feet long, came out, allowing the water to rush in. The canoe would
speedily have been swamped, had not the author of the mischief held on
the piece in his hand, while some of the others bailed away as rapidly as
possible, and the remainder paddled off with desperation, shouting loudly
to the people in the second canoe for help. But their friends seemed as
much frightened as themselves, not knowing the nature of the accident,
and probably supposing that we had been roughly treating their companions
they made sail for the shore, and did not stop until they had got half a
mile away from the ship, when they waited until the damaged canoe came up
in a sinking state, bailed her out, and after taking some people out of
her, both made off, under sail, and we saw no more of them.

But for this accident I would probably have got a few words of their
language to compare with those obtained at Brierly Island. Our visitors
were profusely decorated with the red, feathery, leafy shoots of an
Amaranthus, which they wore fastened in bunches about the ankles, waist,
elbows, and in the hair. In other respects, I saw nothing among them
different from what has already been described at Coral Haven.


From this anchorage we enjoyed an extensive view of the south-eastern
portion of the Louisiade Archipelago. On the extreme right is the large
South-east Island, with its sharply undulating outline, and Mount
Rattlesnake clearly visible, although distant 45 miles. Next, after a gap
partially filled up by Pig Island, Joannet Island succeeds, 10 1/2 miles
in length, not so high as South-east Island but resembling it in dimness
of outline--its highest point, Mount Asp, is 1,104 feet in height. Next
come the Calvados, of various aspect and size, some with the undulating
outline of the larger islands, others rising more or less abruptly to the
height of from four to upwards of nine hundred feet. They constitute a
numerous group--upwards of 40--some of which, however, are mere rocks,
are delineated upon the Rattlesnake's chart, and there are others to the
northward. Behind them, in two of the intervals, the large and distant
island of St. Aignan (so named after one of D'Entrecasteaux' lieutenants)
fills up the background, falling low at its eastern extreme, but the
western half high and mountainous, with an elevation of 3,279 feet.
Further to the westward the last of the Calvados in this view was seen to
form a remarkable peak, 518 feet in height, to which the name of
Eddystone was applied; and still further to the left Ile Real, of
D'Urville's chart, shoots up to the height of 554 feet, as a solitary
rocky island with rugged outline and an abruptly peaked summit.


July 23rd.

Yesterday we were prevented from reaching our intended anchorage at the
Duchateau Isles by a strong easterly tide, the wind at the same time
being too light to allow us to stem it. Today the ship was moved closer
in, and moored in a convenient berth in 13 fathoms, half a mile north
from the middle island.

We remained here for eleven days, thus affording good opportunities for
examining the group. The Duchateau Isles are three low, wooded, coral
islets, the largest of which is only three-fourths of a mile in length.
The two eastern islands are connected by a reef, partly dry at low water,
and separated by a narrow passage from the smaller reef, surrounding the
western island. The southern, or windward margin of these reefs, presents
a similarity to the barrier class by rising up suddenly from an unknown
depth, with constant and very heavy breakers, but the northern, and at
present the leeward portion, extends only a little way, with irregular
and not well defined outline, and anchorage near it in from twelve to
fifteen fathoms. The three islands agree in presenting the same physical


They are margined by a beach of white coral sand, with occasional thin
beds and ledges of coral conglomerate, succeeded by a belt of tangled
bushes and low trees, after which the trees become higher and the ground
tolerably free from underwood, with occasional thickets of woody
climbers. The cocoa-palm grows here in small numbers, usually several
together, overtopping the other trees among which one of the Bombaceae
(silk-cotton trees) and Pisonia grandis attain the greatest dimensions,
having frequently a girth of twelve or fifteen feet, with a height of
sixty or seventy. A large-leaved Calophyllum is the prevailing tree of
the island, and among the others I may mention a Myristica and a
Caryophyllum, neither of which, however, are of the species furnishing
the nutmegs and cloves of commerce.

Of mammalia a large Pteropus, or fruit-eating bat, was seen once or
twice, but no specimen was procured. The little Indian rat occurs
abundantly on all the islands, taking to hollow logs and holes under the
roots of trees for shelter. Here it is tamer than I have elsewhere seen
it--by sitting down in a shady place, and remaining quiet, I have
sometimes had three or four within a few yards of me playing about,
chasing each other, or turning over the dead leaves. It even climbs
bushes and low trees, and gets out among the branches like a squirrel.


Birds were plentiful, and our sportsmen committed great havoc among the
megapodii and pigeons. The former were very numerous, running about the
thickets, and calling to each other like pheasants in a preserve at home.
Among the other game birds, first in size and splendour comes the Nicobar
pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica). As its appearance exhibits a near approach
to the gallinaceous birds, so do its habits. It lives chiefly on the
ground, runs with great swiftness, and flies up into a tree when
disturbed. A nest found here was of the rude platform construction
usually found among the pigeon family; it was built in a tree about ten
feet from the ground, and contained a single white egg. The most common
of the family, however, is one of the nutmeg pigeons, Carpophaga
oceanica. Many of both sexes were furnished with a large, round, fleshy
caruncle on the bill at the base of the forehead--this is said to be
present during the breeding season only. Its favourite place of resort
during the heat of the day is among the nutmegs and other spreading shady
trees where we found it difficult of detection, even when led up to the
spot by its cooing. This last may be represented by the letters
poor-oo-oo-oo hoor-r-r-r, the first syllable loud and startling, the
remainder faint and long drawn-out; on the other hand the cry of the
Nicobar pigeon is merely hoo-hoo. In flavour the Oceanic pigeon far
surpasses the white or Torres Strait species, the merits of which, as an
article of food, we had so often fully appreciated during our last
cruise. Most of them were very fat, and some even burst open in falling
to the ground after having been shot. A solitary specimen of another
large pigeon--with the throat white, and the plumage with purple and
green metallic reflections--was obtained, also a small dove of a new
species, with pink forehead and broad cream-coloured pectoral band, which
has been named by Mr. Gould Ptilonopus strophium.


The only other bird which I shall mention is a very fine kingfisher
(Halcyon saurophaga) with white head, neck, and lower parts, green
scapulars, and blue wings and tail, previously known by a single specimen
from New Guinea in the British Museum. It is a very shy bird, frequenting
the margin of the island, usually seen perched on some detached or
solitary branch, as if sunning itself, and darting off into the dense
brush upon being approached.

Small lizards were plentiful, but we met with no large ones or snakes
during our rambles on the Duchateau Isles. These islands are probably
much resorted to by turtles, as they were daily seen swimming about, and
one was caught on shore during our stay by a party of natives. The
variety of fishes caught at this anchorage was considerable, and
furnished many additions to the ichthyological collection, to which the
paucity of other objects in zoology for some time back enabled me to
bestow much attention.* Among the genera most remarkable for singularity
of form and brilliancy of colouring I may mention Holocentrum, five kinds
of which were procured here, one brilliantly coloured with blue and
silver, and the remainder more or less of a bright scarlet.

(*Footnote. Besides many kinds preserved in spirits, which have not yet
been examined, my collection contained stuffed specimens of about forty
species of Louisiade fishes. These, I have been informed by Sir John
Richardson, have nearly all been previously described from other parts of
Oceania, the Indian Ocean, and the China Sea. The family Sparidae is that
best represented in the Louisiade Archipelago so far as I could
judge--three species of Pentapus numerically more than equal all the
rest, and the next commonest fish is Diacope octo-lineata.)


The landshells appear here to be limited to a solitary Helicina, found on
the leaves and trunks of trees; and the trifling amount of rise and fall
of tide, not exceeding three feet, prevented any search for marine
species upon the reef. By dredging, however, in some of the sandy
channels among the coral patches, in two or three fathoms water, some
small Mitrae, Nassae, Subulae, and other interesting shells were
procured, but no zoophytes came up in the dredge, and hardly any
crustacea. One can scarcely avoid taking notice of the prodigious numbers
of small hermit-crabs (Coenobita) tenanting dead univalve shells, and
occurring from the margin of the beach as far back as the centre of the
islands, where they are found even in the holes of decaying trees at some
height above the ground.

During our stay at this anchorage the weather was fine for the first
three days, but afterwards was usually hazy, with strong breezes from
between east and south-east, with squalls and occasional showers, the
thermometer ranging between 72 and 85 degrees--respectively the maximum
and minimum temperature registered on board.


We were frequently visited by canoes from the Calvados Islands. The
parties of natives usually landed on one of the adjacent Duchateau
Islands before communicating with the ship, and sometimes passed the
night there before returning on the following morning. They brought with
them coconuts, yams, and various other articles to barter with; among
these were some productions of the country which I had not previously
seen--Indian corn, ginger, and sugarcane. The canoes were of the common
description, with the exception of one of large size, closed at the bow
and stern, with a high peak at each end, a standing mast, large oval
sail, and the platform entirely covered over.* Few additional
observations upon the natives were made here. On one occasion I procured
a few words of their language, all of which, with one doubtful exception,
are similar to those formerly obtained at Brierly Island. At another time
we saw squatted down in a canoe alongside, with four men in it, two
female children about three years of age, quite naked, with their hair
twisted into long yarn-like strands falling over the shoulder; one of the
two was a plump, laughing, intelligent creature, with fine features,
great black eyes, and long silky eyelashes.

(Footnote. This is the canoe figured.)

At this place we had the misfortune to lose by death our carpenter, Mr.
Raymond. His remains were interred on the largest of the islands, in a
clearing made by the woodcutters, and as an additional precaution, for
the purpose of concealing the grave from the keen sight of the natives, a
large fire was made upon it to efface all marks of the spade.


August 4th.

We left our anchorage this morning for the Duperre Islands, twenty-one
miles to the westward, and reached them before noon. On our way we passed
in sight of the Montemont and Jomard groups, each consisting of two low,
wooded islets, similar to those which we had left. As the ship went along
she raised prodigious numbers of flying-fish in large schools, closely
watched by frigate-birds, boobies, and terns.


The afternoon was ineffectually spent in searching for an anchorage, the
pinnace and one of the cutters having been sent inshore for that purpose.
In the evening the anchor was let go after a cast of fifty fathoms, but
slipped off the bank, and had to be hove up again. In company with the
Bramble we passed the night in standing off and on the islands, directed
by bright moonlight, and a fire on the westernmost of the group which the
pinnace's people had been sent in to make.

The following day was spent in a similar manner, and with the like
result. The Bramble, when ordered by signal to point out the anchorage
which Lieutenant Yule had found a week before, at once passed through an
opening in the northern margin of the reef connected with the Duperre
Isles, and brought in the smooth and moderately deep water inside, but it
was not judged safe for us to follow, so the pinnace was hoisted
in-board, and the ship kept underweigh all night.

August 6th.

We passed out to sea to the southward by a wide and clear channel between
the Duperre and Jomard Islands. The former are five in number, all
uninhabited, small, low, and thickly covered with trees. They extend over
a space of about six miles on the northern margin of a large atoll or
annular reef extending eleven miles in one direction and seven in
another, with several openings leading into the interior, which forms a
navigable basin afterwards called Bramble Haven. Inside the greatest
depth found was twenty fathoms, with numerous small coral patches showing
themselves so clearly as easily to be avoided--outside, the water
suddenly deepens to no bottom with one hundred fathoms of line, at the
distance of a mile from its edge.


For several days we continued making traverses off and on the line of
barrier reefs extending to the westward, obtaining negative soundings,
and occasionally communicating by signal with the Bramble, which was
meanwhile doing the inshore part of the work. The next islet seen was Ile
Lejeune of D'Urville, situated in latitude 10 degrees 11 minutes South
and longitude 151 degrees 50 minutes East, eight miles to the westward of
the nearest of the Duperre group, with a wide intervening passage. The
sea-face of the barrier now becomes continuous for twenty-one miles
further, its northern side broken into numerous openings, leading into
shoal water. It is, in fact, an elongated, almost linear atoll, with
islands scattered along its sheltered margin. After this, the barrier
becomes broken up into a series of small reefs, with passages between,
still preserving a westerly trend, until it ends in longitude 150 degrees
58 minutes East. Several small, low islets are scattered along its
course; of these the Sandy Isles come first, three in number, two of them
mere sandbanks, and the third thinly covered with trees, apparently a
kind of Pandanus. The neighbouring Ushant Island (supposed to be that
named Ile Ouessant by Bougainville) is larger and densely wooded, and
still further to the westward we saw the two Stuers Islands, also low,
and wooded. All those islets hitherto mentioned as occurring along the
line of the barrier reef are of the same character--low, of coral
formation, and generally wooded--and so are two others situated a few
miles to the northward of the reef, and unconnected with it. These last
are Kosmann Island, in latitude 11 degrees 4 1/2 minutes South and
longitude 151 degrees 33 minutes East, and Imbert Island, situated
thirteen miles further to the westward.

August 11th.

Today we came in sight of two groups of high rocky isles, very different
from the low coral islets in the line of the barrier reef, which here
ceases to show itself above water. These are the Teste and Lebrun Islands
of D'Urville, the latter two in number, and of small size (the
westernmost, in latitude 10 degrees 53 minutes South and longitude 150
degrees 59 minutes East) the former, a group of four, of which the
largest measures two and a half miles in length, while the smallest is a
remarkable pyramidal projection, to which the name of Bell Rock was
given--this last is situated in latitude 10 degrees 57 1/2 minutes South
and longitude 151 degrees 2 minutes East.


August 12th.

We saw in the distance part of the high land of New Guinea in the
neighbourhood of where its south-east cape has been conjectured to be,
and approached within a few miles of the Dumoulin* Islands, a group of
four rocky isles, the westernmost of which is 400 feet high, and less
than a mile in length; there are besides five rocks, some of considerable

(*Footnote. The hydrographical engineer attached to D'Urville's last
expedition, and the constructor of most of the charts published in the
Hydrographical Atlas of Voyage au Pole Sud etc.)


The Dumoulin Isles are inhabited, and appear fertile--they are tolerably
well-wooded with small trees and a sprinkling of cocoa-palms. In standing
off for the night, the water suddenly shoaled from no bottom with 80
fathoms to casts of 16 and 12 fathoms, of coral, and sand and shells, and
then deepened again as we went out. One is inclined to suspect that this
may be a submarine extension of the barrier reef.

The Bramble meanwhile had been ordered in to look for anchorage, and
found it under the lee of the largest island in 25 fathoms. She remained
in that neighbourhood for several days while we were beating about at
sea. Several of the Dumoulin Islands proved to be inhabited, and the
natives exhibited no hostile feeling towards the Bramble's people. A
specimen of the rock, taken from the shore and given me by Lieutenant
Yule, is a very curious siliceous breccia; when viewed from the sea I had
observed the cliffs to exhibit horizontal and vertical
fissures--apparently lines of cleavage--as I had seen assumed on various
occasions during our last cruise by granite and porphyry. This, at least,
indicated a great approaching change in the geological structure of the
New Guinea Islands, contrasted with those of the Louisiade Group which
had come under our observation.


Brumer Islands.
Catamarans and Canoes.
Friendly relations with the Natives of New Guinea.
Are well received at their Village.
Tatooing and Dress of the Women.
The Huts described.
Large Canoe from the Mainland.
Tassai ladies return our visit.
The Natives described.
Their Weapons, Ornaments, Food, etc.
Cul de Sac de l'Orangerie, and Communication with the Natives.
Redscar Bay and its Inhabitants.
Leave the Coast of New Guinea.
Arrive at Cape York.


August 17th.

We are once more comfortably at anchor after many dreary days at sea of
thick blowing weather* spent in sailing backwards and forwards, daily
tantalised by the sight of land, which was approached only that we might
stand off again for the night. Yesterday afternoon the Bramble was seen
coming out from under the largest of the Brumer Islands, and on her
making the usual signal for good anchorage, we followed her in and
brought up after sunset in 35 fathoms, mud, about a mile from the shore.

(*Footnote. In working to the eastward (in June) Bougainville for four
days had "the wind constantly blowing very fresh, at East-South-East and
South-East" (just as we found it) "with rain; a fog so thick that," says
he, "we were obliged to fire guns in order to keep company with the
Etoile; and lastly, a very great sea, which hove us towards the shore. We
could hardly keep our ground by plying, being obliged to wear, and to
carry but little sail." Bougainville's Voyage round the World.
Translation by Forster page 308.)

The island under which we thus anchored, is the westernmost and largest
of a group of five, the next in size being about a mile in length,
moderately high and wooded, and the remaining three mere rocks. The large
Brumer Island is long and narrow, running East-North-East and
West-South-West, two miles and two-thirds in greatest width; it is
situated in latitude 10 degrees 45 minutes 30 seconds South and longitude
150 degrees 23 minutes East. The whole island presents a luxuriant
appearance, being covered with cocoa-palms and other trees, and on the
high ground several large fenced enclosures of cultivated ground--where
among other plants we could distinguish the banana and
sugar-cane--attested the fertility of the soil. The western, and at
present the leeward side of the island, as viewed from our anchorage
exhibits the appearance of a broken ridge on its southern half with
several eminences topped by immense detached blocks of rock, partially
concealed by the trees--to this, in the centre, succeeds a break occupied
by a very low irregular cliff behind a bay with a sandy beach--afterwards
the land rises suddenly to form a hill, 665 feet in height, with a steep
face to the north-west, and a gradual slope backwards--and beyond this
another hill, not so high (386 feet) but somewhat similar in form, shut
out our further view in that direction. The mainland of New Guinea filled
the background with a broken outline of ridges of wooded hills along the
coast in front of a more distant and nearly continuous range of high
mountains covered with trees up to their very summits.


Next morning we were visited by a party of natives from the neighbouring
island, consisting of six men in a canoe, and one on a catamaran or raft.
They were perfectly unarmed and came boldly alongside with a quantity of
yams and coconuts for barter; when their stock was exhausted, they
returned for more, and, accompanied by others, repeated the visit several
times during the day. Although there was no obvious difference between
these natives and those of the southern portion of the Louisiade, yet the
catamaran was quite new to us, and the canoe differed considerably from
any which we had seen before.


The first catamaran was only nine feet long--it consisted of three thick
planks lashed together, forming a sort of raft, which one man sitting a
little behind the middle, with his legs doubled under him, managed very
dexterously with his paddle. We afterwards saw others of a larger size,
some of them capable of carrying a dozen people with their effects. One
of this description is made of three logs--rarely two or four--laid side
by side, and firmly secured to each other with strips of rattan at each
end, and in two or three other places. The upper surface is smoothed down
flat, and the central piece projects a little way at each end which
usually shows some rude carving touched up with red and white paint. As
the sea washes over a catamaran during rough weather, on such an occasion
a small temporary stage is sometimes erected in the centre, and on this
the cargo is secured with strips of cane.

The canoe of this part of New Guinea is usually about twenty-five feet in
length, and carries seven or eight people. It is made of the trunk of a
tree, hollowed out like a long trough, roundly pointed at each end, a
foot and a half in extreme width, with the sides bulging out below and
falling in at top, leaving only eight inches between the gunwales which
are strengthened by a pole running along from end to end. The ends--which
are alike--are carved like those of the catamaran in imitation of the
head of a turtle or snake, but more elaborately. The outrigger consists
of a float as long as the canoe, attached by small sticks or pegs let
into the wood to eight or nine notches in both gunwales, and are secured
there. A portion, or the whole of this framework, is carefully covered
over with planks or long sticks, and occasionally a small stage is formed
on the opposite side, over the centre of the canoe, projecting a little
outwardly, with room upon it for two people to sit and paddle. The canoes
of this description which we saw were not provided with any other sail
than a small temporary one, made by interlacing the leaflets of the
cocoa-palm, and stuck up on poles when going with the wind free. The
paddles used here are similar in shape to those seen in the Louisiade
Archipelago, with spear-shaped blades and slender handles, but are
larger--measuring six feet in length--and of neater construction, the end
of the handle being carved into some fanciful device.


About sunset, and when about to leave us, one of the Brumer Islanders,
standing on a large catamaran alongside, put himself into a grotesque
attitude, and commenced beating with his hand upon a large tin can which
someone had given him, at the same time going through some of the motions
of a dance. He seemed to be a most amusing vagabond, for, upon our
drummer being set to work in the chains, after joining with the other
natives in the first exclamations of surprise, he listened attentively
for a little, and then struck up on his own extempore drum, keeping very
good time and causing roars of laughter by his strange grimaces and
antics. The effect of this pantomime was heightened by the style of
painting adopted by the actor whose face had been blackened with
charcoal, variegated by a white streak along the eyebrows turned down at
the ends, and another along the cheeks passing round the chin.


August 18th.

The boisterous state of the weather did not prevent the natives from
repeatedly coming off to us with various articles of barter; and we were
even visited by a party of seven men from Tissot Island, who paddled up
on a catamaran five or six miles to windward against a strong breeze and
current. After some little persuasion, several of them were induced to
come on board and were shown round the ship, presented with various
articles, and dressed out with scraps of clothing of every description.
At first they showed symptoms of uneasiness, and made frequent
protestations of friendship, as if the circumstance of our repeating them
gave increased confidence. Their mode of salutation or expression of
friendship consists in first touching the nose with the forefinger and
thumb of one hand, and then pinching the skin on each side of the navel
with the other, calling out at the same time, magasuga! This habit
resembles on one hand that of rubbing noses, so general in Polynesia--and
on the other, the custom of pinching the navel and repeating the name for
that part, practised by the islanders of Torres Strait. At length our
visitors withdrew, well pleased with their reception, during which their
common exclamation indicative of surprise and delight, an ao long drawn
out, was in constant requisition.

August 19th.

A quantity of cooked yams in baskets and large earthen pots was brought
off today by a party of natives, as if in acknowledgment of our civility
to those whom we had invited on board yesterday. Nothing was asked for in
return--a very unusual circumstance--and that it was intended as a
present was further shown by their leaving a proportionate share on board
the Bramble, and immediately pushing off for the Rattlesnake with the
remainder, explaining that it was intended for us and could not be sold.

The weather being now favourable for communication with the shore, the
two cutters were manned and armed for this purpose, and sent away in
charge of Lieutenant Simpson, and, as usual, I was one of the volunteers
who joined the party. Two of the natives gladly went in one of the
boats--the same two who had previously invited us onshore, as if to
return our hospitality and point out the fresh water about which we had
made repeated inquiries, our stock of that all-essential article being
now much reduced, and the ship's company on an allowance of six pints
each per diem.


We landed at a little bay near the centre of the western side of the
nearest and largest of the Brumer group. Although perfectly sheltered
from the wind, a heavy swell broke upon the margin of a fringing coral
reef running out fifty or sixty yards from the sandy beach and stretching
across the bay. The boats were backed in from their anchors, and, after
seven of us had got onshore by watching an opportunity to jump out up to
the middle in water, and cross the reef, hauled out again to await our

Some women on the beach retired as we were about to land, but a number of
boys and a few men received us, and after a preliminary halt to see that
our guns were put to rights after the ducking, we all started together by
a narrow path winding up a rugged wall of basaltic rock, fifty feet in
height. From the summit a steep declivity of a couple of hundred yards
brought us to the village of Tassai, shaded by coconut-trees, and
beautifully situated on a level space close to the beach on the windward
side of the island, here not more than a quarter of a mile in width. No
canoes were seen here, and a heavy surf broke on the outer margin of a
fringing reef.


On the outskirts of the village we met the women and remainder of the
people, and were received without any signs of apprehension. One of our
friends immediately got hold of a drum*--a hollow cylinder of palm-wood
two feet and a half in length, and four inches in diameter, one end
covered over with the skin of a large lizard--and commenced beating upon
it very vigorously with the palm of the hand, singing and dancing at the
same time, as if in honour of our arrival.

(*Footnote. Represented in the uppermost figure.)


Each of us joined in the merriment as he came up, and in a short time the
whole of Tassai was in an uproar. Among the natives everyone seemed
pleased, bustling about, watching our motions, examining our dress, and
laughing and shouting immoderately as each new object was presented to
his view. Meanwhile I wandered about the village, accompanied by some
women and children, picking up at the same time materials for my
vocabulary. One old dame brought me a coconut shell full of water which I
returned after drinking some, but she pressed me in a very motherly way
to put it into my bag, having doubtless imagined from our inquiries after
water, that even a little constituted a valuable present. We had seen
neither stream nor well upon the island, and besides, it is probable that
the great abundance of coconuts enables them to subsist with very little
water. We distributed among them some iron-hoop, knives, fish-hooks, and
calico, to which I added a quantity of useful seeds,* which last were
eagerly sought after when their use had been explained and understood.

(*Footnote. Part of a large supply procured at Hobart Town by Captain
Stanley from the Government garden there. They were placed under my
charge, and were sown wherever circumstances appeared favourable for
their growth, chiefly on uninhabited islands, there seldom having been an
opportunity of distributing them among the natives of the shores we


The women showed an unusual amount of curiosity, and were much pleased at
the notice taken of them, for, on examining the curious tattooing of one,
others immediately pressed forwards to show me theirs, directing
particular attention to the difference of patterns. This practice of
tattooing the body--or marking it with colouring matter introduced into
the skin by means of punctures or incisions--is rarely exhibited by the
men, and in them is usually confined to a few blue lines or stars upon
the right breast; in some instances, however, the markings consisted of a
double series of large stars and dots stretching from the shoulder toward
the pit of the stomach. Among the women the tattooing extends over the
face, fore part of the arms, and whole front of body continued backwards
a little way over the shoulders, usually, but not always, leaving the
back untouched. The pattern for the body consists of series of vertical
stripes less than an inch apart, connected by zigzag and other
markings--that over the face is more complicated, and on the forearm and
wrist it is frequently so elaborate as to assume the appearance of
beautiful lace-work.


Unlike the men--whose only article of dress consists of a small
breech-cloth of pandanus leaf passing between the legs, and secured
before and behind to a string or other girdle round the waist--the
females wear petticoats (noge) of the same leaf, divided into long
grass-like shreds, reaching to the knee. That worn by the girls consists
merely of single lengths made fast to a string which ties round the
waist; but the women wear a larger and thicker kind of petticoat,
composed of three layers of different degrees of fineness and lengths,
forming as many flounces, the upper one of more finely divided stuff,
neatly plaited above, over a girdle of the same tough bark (barrai) used
in making their larger kinds of rope. Two or three of these petticoats
are usually worn one over the other, and in cold or wet weather the outer
one is untied and fastened round the neck, covering the upper part of the
body like a cape or short cloak. The hair of the women is also usually
but not invariably twisted up into thrums like those of a mop, a style of
dressing it here peculiar to the female sex.

Many pigs were running about the village--small in size, lean and long
legged, usually black, with coarse bristles--also two or three dogs,
similar to those seen at Brierly Island. One young woman was seen
carrying about in her arms and fondling a very young pig--an incident
which afforded us as much amusement as a lady's lap-dog, with one end of
a ribbon round its neck and the other attached to a wasp-waisted damsel,
would have caused among these utilitarian savages.


The village covers a space of about half an acre; it consisted of
twenty-seven huts built at rightangles to each other, but without any
other attempt at arrangement. These huts are of various sizes--the
largest thirty-five feet long, twelve wide, and twenty-five high. All are
constructed on a similar plan, being raised from the ground about four
feet on posts, four, five, or six in number, passing through the same
circular wooden discs seen at the Louisiade Archipelago, intended, I
believe, to keep out rats or other vermin. The sides and roof are
continuous, and slope sharply upwards, giving to an end view the
appearance of an acute triangle, while a side view exhibits a long ridge
rising suddenly at each end to a point and descending by a straight line
of gable. The roof is neatly and smoothly thatched with grass, and the
sides are covered in with sheets of a bark-like substance, probably the
base of the leaf of the coconut-tree flattened out by pressure. The
entrance is at one end, overhung by the gable like a curtain, with a
small stage to ascend by. I did not examine the interior of the houses,
being desirous to avoid any cause of offence by exhibiting too much
prying curiosity. From the accounts of others of the party it appears
that there is a second partial floor above the principal one; they saw
large bundles of spears stowed along the sides of the hut which they
looked into, and some human skulls suspended near the entrance.*

(*Footnote. These huts resemble in form some found on the Duke of York
and Bowditch Islands, in the western part of the Pacific, 300 miles to
the northward of the Samoan group. See Narrative of the United States
Exploring Expedition volume 5 page 7; also plate.)


After a very short stay of a quarter of an hour only we returned by the
path formerly taken, accompanied by about fifty men, women, and children,
and went on board the boats. During our visit we had met with the most
friendly reception; no weapon of any kind was seen in the hands of the
natives who at the same time probably thought us perfectly unarmed, as
they at first supposed our guns to be instruments for carrying water in,
and we had no opportunity of showing the effects of firearms without
involving the risk of causing a tumult. The anchor of one of the boats
having caught the coral, some delay was caused, during which an old man
from the beach swam off to her, as if he perfectly understood what had
happened, and, after diving several times, cleared the anchor, for which
he was rewarded with an axe. His skill in diving was remarkable--he went
down feet foremost, apparently without an effort, and after remaining
below about half a minute, came up showing no signs of exhaustion. But
all these natives appeared to feel as much confidence afloat as on shore;
and we had frequent opportunities of observing their fearlessness of the
water, and dexterity in swimming and diving when alongside the ship.


August 20th.

It being considered probable that the natives might be induced to part
with some of their pigs, a party was sent onshore, to endeavour to
procure some by barter. On landing, which was effected with much less
difficulty than yesterday (for it was now high-water, enabling the boats
to go over the reef although heavy rollers were coming in) we found that
most of the men were absent, and the few remaining, although made to
understand what we wanted, did not appear to like our paying a visit to
their village, as if suspicious of our intentions towards the women, a
circumstance which Europeans must always be on their guard against in
dealing with savage tribes. Our stay therefore was very short--not
exceeding five minutes--and on the way back, besides picking up a few
scraps for my vocabulary from a number of women and children in company,
I procured a fine white Helix from the branch of a bread-fruit tree, and
had a brief opportunity of examining the rock of the island. This is of
volcanic origin, and consists of a stratified earthy tufa and volcanic
conglomerate, hollowed out below by the sea, succeeded by a harder
vesicular rock above which one of the forms of lava has been poured out.

On our return to the beach we found that scarcely any bartering had gone
on, and that the exhibition of a number of axes and knives, had been
attended with the bad effect of exciting the cupidity of the natives.
Soon afterwards a canoe with people from the mainland arrived, and as
anything but good feeling appeared to subsist, and we had failed in our
object of getting the pigs, we left for the ship--and this was our last
communication with the shore during our stay at this anchorage.


August 22nd.

The most interesting occurrence of the day was the arrival from the main
of a very large canoe, with twenty-six people on board.* When close to
she shortened sail and attempted to paddle up, but being too unwieldy to
stem the current, the end of a rope from the ship was carried out to her
and she hauled up under our stern and made fast there. Besides the
ordinary paddles we observed at each end two others of large
size--probably used for steering with, pulled as oars, with cane grommets
on the gunwale. We had not before seen so fine a sample of Papuans;
several were elderly men of fine figure and commanding appearance. One
man among them who sat alone upon a small raised stage over the platform
appeared to exercise a considerable degree of authority over the rest;
the only instance yet seen by us, either here or at the Louisiade, of
anyone assuming the functions of a chief. He called a small canoe
alongside, and getting under the mizen chains attempted to climb up at
once, and appeared surprised that the privilege of coming on board denied
to the other natives was not immediately extended to him. He was,
however, accidentally allowed to come up the side and remain on deck for
a short time. He was a tall slender man, of about forty years of age,
with sharp Jewish features--his face and chest were painted black, and he
wore a crest of cassowary feathers across his head.

(*Footnote. Represented in the illustration.)


This large canoe measured about forty feet in length, and was constructed
of a hollowed-out tree raised upon with large planks forming a long
coffin-like box, closed with high end boards elegantly carved and
painted. Two rows of carved fishes ran along the sides, and both ends
were peaked, the bow rising higher than the stern, and, like it, but more
profusely, decorated with carving painted red and white, streamers of
palm-leaf, egg-cowries, and plumes of cassowary feathers. The outrigger
framework was completely covered over, forming a large platform above the
centre of which a small stage rested on a strong projecting beam the
outer end of which was carved into the figure of a bird, while the inner
reached to the centre of the body of the canoe, and served to support the
mast. The planks forming the sides were strongly supported by knees where
each of the ten or twelve outrigger poles passes through one side and
rests against the other, and some loose bottom boards form a partial
shifting deck. The mast is supported above by two stays fore and aft, and
below steps into a massive bent timber crossing the centre of the canoe,
resting on the bottom, and is secured above to the inner end of the long
cross beam by strong lashings, and some large wedges between it and one
side. The sail is of great size, being as long as the platform, but both
in construction and mode of management is precisely similar to that
formerly described with reference to a canoe seen at Coral Haven,
supposed to have come from Piron's Island.

A few days ago we saw another canoe closely resembling the
above-mentioned, but much smaller and carrying only eleven people. It
exhibited, however, one peculiarity in the great breadth of beam
amidships--amounting to four feet--which gave it much room for stowage
and additional buoyancy.


Of late the number of natives daily coming off to the ship has rapidly
increased, so as now to amount to upwards of 100 in about 15 canoes and
catamarans. Those from Tissot Island and the mainland usually arrive in
the forenoon, and, after an hour's stay, leave us for the northern
village on the nearest Brumer Island, where they spend the night and
return the next morning with a fair wind. The noise and scrambling
alongside when bartering is going on baffles all description--besides the
usual talking and shouting, they have a singular habit of directing
attention to their wares by a loud, sharp ss, ss, a kind of hissing
sound, equivalent to look at this.


In their bargaining the natives have generally been very honest, far more
so than our own people whom I have frequently seen cheating them by
passing off scraps of worthless iron, and even tin and copper, for pieces
of hoop, the imposition not being found out until the property has
changed hands. As at the Louisiade iron hoop is the article most prized
by the natives, and is valued according to its width and thickness as a
substitute for the stone-heads of their axes. They also showed great
eagerness to obtain our hatchets and fish-hooks, but attached little
value to calico, although a gaudy pattern, or bright colour, especially
red, was sure to arrest attention; but in such matters they are very
capricious. Even glass bottles were prized, probably as a substitute for
obsidian or volcanic glass, portions of which I saw among them, used in
shaving, as was explained to me, and probably also for carving in wood.


August 25th.

Yesterday and today, in addition to upwards of a hundred natives
alongside bartering, we were honoured with visits from several parties of
the Tassai ladies, in whose favour the prohibition to come on board was
repealed for the time. The young women were got up with greater attention
to dress and finery than when seen on shore, and some had their face
blackened as if to heighten their attractions. The outer petticoat, worn
on gala days such as this, differs from the common sort in being much
finer in texture and workmanship, besides being dyed red and green, with
intermediate bands of straw colour and broad white stripes of palm-leaf.
It is made of long bunches of very light and soft shreds, like fine
twisted grass, apparently the prepared leaf of a calamus or rattan. None
of the women that I saw possessed even a moderate share of beauty
(according to our notions) although a few had a pleasing expression and
others a very graceful figure, but, on the other hand, many of the boys
and young men were strikingly handsome. We had no means of forming a
judgment regarding the condition of the women in a social state, but they
appeared to be treated by the men as equals and to exercise considerable
influence over them. On all occasions they were the loudest talkers, and
seemed to act from a perfect right to have everything their own way. It
is worthy of mention, that, even in their own village, and on all other
occasions where we had an opportunity of observing them, they acted with
perfect propriety, and although some indecent allusions were now and then
made by the men, this was never done in the presence of the women. Of
their marriages we could find out nothing--one man appeared to have two
wives, but even this was doubtful. The circumstance of children being
daily brought off by their fathers to look at the ship, and the strange
things there, indicated a considerable degree of parental affection.


Returning to our visitors: the fiddle, fife, and drum were put in
requisition, and a dance got up to amuse them. The women could not be
persuaded to join, but two of the men treated us to one of their own
dances, each having been previously furnished with a native drum or
baiatu. They advanced and retreated together by sudden jerks, beating to
quick or slow time as required, and chanting an accompanying song, the
cadence rising and falling according to the action. The attitude was a
singular one--the back straight, chin protruded, knees bent in a
crouching position, and the arms advanced; on another occasion, one of
the same men exhibited himself before us in a war dance. In one hand he
held a large wooden shield, nearly three feet in length and rather more
than one in width, and in the other a formidable-looking weapon two feet
in length--a portion of the snout of a saw-fish with long sharp teeth
projecting on each side. Placing himself in a crouching attitude, with
one hand covered by the shield, and holding his weapon in a position to
strike, he advanced rapidly in a succession of short bounds, striking the
inner side of the shield with his left knee at each jerk, causing the
large cowries hung round his waist and ankles to rattle violently. At the
same time with fierce gestures he loudly chanted a song of defiance. The
remainder of the pantomime was expressive of attack and defence, and
exaltation after victory. But a still more curious dance was one
performed a few nights ago by a party of natives which had left the ship
after sunset and landed abreast of the anchorage. On seeing a number of
lights along the beach, we at first thought they proceeded from a fishing
party, but on looking through a night-glass, the group was seen to
consist of above a dozen people, each carrying a blazing torch, and going
through the movements of a dance. At one time they extended rapidly into
line, at another closed, dividing into two parties, advancing and
retreating, crossing and recrossing, and mixing up with each other. This
continued for half an hour, and having apparently been got up for our
amusement, a rocket was sent up for theirs, and a blue-light burned, but
the dancing had ceased, and the lights disappeared.


In the evening when the natives were leaving for the shore, one of them
volunteered to remain on board on the understanding that some of us
should accompany him to Tassai, where, he explained, there would be
plenty of dancing and eating, enumerating pigs, dogs, yams, and coconuts,
as the component parts of the feast. He was taken down to the wardroom,
and shortly underwent a complete metamorphosis, effected by means of a
regatta shirt of gaudy pattern, red neckcloth, flannel trousers, a faded
drab Taglioni of fashionable cut buttoned up to the throat, and an old
black hat stuck on one side of his woolly head. Every now and then he
renewed his invitation to go on shore, but was satisfied when given to
understand that our visit must be deferred till the morrow.


He was a merry, active, good-humoured fellow, and gave us a number of
songs, one of which I wrote down. Although unfortunately I cannot give an
accompanying translation, yet this song exhibits the remarkable softness
of the language from the great number of vowels.

Ama watuya boyama
Manyure gerri gege udaeno
Dagi ginoa dagi gino ama
Watu yebbo.

Manyure gerri gege udaeno
Dagi egino da' gino ama
Watu yebbo--watu yebbo.

Most of them--perhaps all--were extempore, as on turning his attention to
the moon, he struck up a song in which the name of that body was
frequently mentioned. He was treated to an exhibition of the magic
lantern in the cabin by Captain Stanley, and a rocket was sent up to his
great astonishment and admiration, which he found words to express in
"kaiwa" (fire) "kaiwa, oh! dim dim!"

August 26th.

Our guest became very uneasy when he saw no canoes from the island coming
off, and no symptoms of lowering a boat to land him. His invitation to
the shore and pantomime of killing a pig were repeated time after time,
and he became very despondent. Two canoes from the mainland came
alongside, and he got into one which shoved off, but quickly returned and
put him on board, as they were not going to the island. The poor fellow
at last appeared so miserable, being actually in tears, that a boat was
sent to put him on shore abreast of the ship, and, when he landed, two
young women and a child came running up to meet him. A number of natives
on the sandy beach were anxiously watching the boat, as if the long
detention of the man on board the ship had made them suspicious of our
treatment of him.


Without entering into details of uninteresting daily occurrences, I may
here give a general account of such circumstances regarding the natives
as have not previously been alluded to or insufficiently described. It
would be difficult to state the peculiarities of this portion of the
Papuan* Race (including also the inhabitants of the Louisiade) for even
the features exhibit nearly as many differences as exist among a
miscellaneous collection of individuals of any European nation. They
appear to me to be resolvable into several indistinct types, with
intermediate gradations; thus occasionally we met with strongly marked
Negro characteristics, but still more frequently with the Jewish cast of
features, while every now and then a face presented itself which struck
me as being perfectly Malayan. In general the head is narrow in front,
and wide and very high behind, the face broad from the great projection
and height of the cheekbones and depression at the temples; the chin
narrow in front, slightly receding, with prominent angles to the jaw; the
nose more or less flattened and widened at the wings, with dilated
nostrils, a broad, slightly arched and gradually rounded bridge, pulled
down at the tip by the use of the nose-stick; and the mouth rather wide,
with thickened lips, and incisors flattened on top as if ground down.

(Footnote. As the term Papuan when applied to a Race of Mankind is not
strictly correct, I may here mention that whenever used in this work, it
includes merely the woolly or frizzled-haired inhabitants of the
Louisiade, South-East coast of New Guinea, and the islands of Torres

Although the hair of the head is almost invariably woolly, and, if not
cropped close, or shaved, frizzled out into a mop, instances were met
with in which it had no woolly tendency, but was either in short curls,
or long and soft without conveying any harsh feeling to the touch.


In colour too it varied, although usually black, and when long, pale or
reddish at the tips;* yet some people of both sexes were observed having
it naturally of a bright red colour, but still woolly. The beard and
moustache, when present, which is seldom the case, are always scanty, and
there is very little scattered hair upon the body.

(*Footnote. Probably artificially produced, as is known to be effected by
means of lime water, by the inhabitants of the north-west coast of New

The colour of the skin varies from a light to a dark copper colour, the
former being the prevailing hue; individuals of a light yellowish brown
hue are often met with, but this colour of the skin is not accompanied by
distinctive features.


The average stature of these Papuans is less than our own, being only
about five feet four inches; this did not appear to be the case when seen
alongside, but on board the ship, and especially when clothed, the
difference became very apparent. Although well made, and far surpassing
us in agility, they were our inferiors in muscular power. Their strength
was tested by means of a deep-sea lead weighing twenty-two pounds which
none of the natives could hold out at arm's length, although most of us
who tried it experienced no difficulty in sustaining the weight for a few

Among the people who came alongside the ship one day we noticed two cases
of that kind of elephantiasis called Barbadoes Leg, in one combined with
enormous distension of the scrotum, which was larger than a man's head,
and studded with warts. One of these unfortunate objects had both legs
much swollen, especially about the ankle, where the skin was almost
obliterated by large scab-like warts, the other, besides the diseased
leg, had a huge tumour on the inner side of the right thigh.


The weapons procured at this place consist of spears, clubs, a wooden
sword, and a shield. Of the first there are several kinds, all larger and
heavier than those obtained at the Louisiade, but, like them, made of
hard, heavy, well-polished coconut wood. The spears vary in length from
nine to eleven feet, with a diameter, where thickest, of rather more than
an inch. From their great weight it would scarcely be possible to throw
them with effect to a greater distance than from fifteen to twenty yards,
and, judging from the signs and gestures of the natives on various
occasions when explaining their mode of warfare, they are also used for
charging and thrusting with, the neighbourhood of the armpit being the
part aimed at as most vulnerable.

The spear in most common use tapers to a point at each end, more suddenly
in front and very gradually behind where it usually terminates in a small
knob with two or three ornamental rings. Sometimes a grommet, or ring of
cordage, is worked upon the spear near one end, to prevent the hand
slipping when making a thrust. There are many other kinds of spears
variously barbed on one or both sides near the head. The fishing spear is
usually headed by a bundle of about four or six slender, sharp-pointed
pieces of wood, two feet in length, sometimes barbed at the point.

We obtained three clubs here--the only ones seen--one, closely resembling
the stone-headed club of Darnley Island, consists of a wooden shaft, four
feet long, sharp pointed at one end and at the other passing through a
hole in the centre of a sharp-edged circular disk of quartz, shaped like
a quoit, four inches in diameter; the second is twenty-seven inches in
length, cut out of a heavy piece of wood, leaving a slender handle and
cylindrical head, three and a half inches long, studded with knobs; the
remaining one, a less formidable weapon than the others, is flat on both
sides, with a serrated edge, and measures twenty-two inches in length and
three in width.


The ornaments worn on this part of the coast are in general so precisely
similar to those of the Louisiade, already described, that a brief
allusion to them is sufficient. In both places we saw the same
nose-sticks, combs stuck in the hair, flat circular earrings, woven and
shell armlets, round ornaments made of melon shell, necklaces of dog's
teeth and black seeds, and white cowries strung round the legs, arms, and
neck. I observed here none of the human jaw bones worn as bracelets so
frequently met with in the Louisiade, nor did painting the body appear to
be carried to the same extent, although the mode of doing so was the
same. Here too we sometimes saw the hair collected and twisted behind
into a single or double queue, and procured a neatly constructed bushy
wig of frizzled hair. A girdle of split rattan wound about a dozen times
round the waist is in common use here, but I do not recollect having seen
it in the Louisiade.


Among other articles of native manufacture I may mention large baked
earthen pots* used in cooking, also very neatly made round flat-bottomed
baskets in sets of four, partially fitting into each other, with a woven
belt to suspend them from the shoulders by--in these various small
articles are carried, among them the spatula and calabash, with lime to
be used in betel chewing--and a netted bag, a foot and a half in width
and one in depth. Their rope is beautifully made of the long tough
stringy bark of a tree, strongly twisted and laid up in three strands,
and for finer lines and twine a kind of flax, resembling the New Zealand,
but still more the Manila sort, is used here. The finest sample of the
prepared material which I saw measured eleven feet in length, and
consisted of a bundle of rather fine white fibres. Although very much
coarser than our hemp, it is of nearly uniform size, and possesses
considerable strength, but breaks easily when knotted. We saw it in
considerable quantity, but had no means of ascertaining the plant from
which it is derived, probably, however, a banana of some kind. We
occasionally saw pieces of a white soft papery cloth, apparently similar
to the tapa of Polynesia, and like it made of the inner bark of some
small tree, but it did not appear to be applied to much use.

(*Footnote. Similar to that figured.)

In the Louisiade we had not observed the betel pepper, but here it was
found in common use--both the leaf and green fruit, especially the
latter, being added to the lime and areca-nut. Still betel chewing,
although a very general habit, is by no means universally practised, for
many elderly people retained the original whiteness of the teeth. By the
males it appears to be adopted only after attaining the state of manhood,
and among the females is almost entirely confined to the old women.

The fondness of these people for flowers and strong-scented plants is
remarkable--they wear them in their hair, thrust under the armlets and
girdle, or as garlands round the neck. Among the chief favourites may be
mentioned an amaranth with purple leaves, giving out a very rich colour
upon pressure being applied, and a species of mint-like herb which they
dry in bunches, and carry about with them.


In addition to the drum formerly mentioned, and large shells--Cassis or
Triton--with a hole at one end, used as trumpets, we saw a small Pandean
pipe made of portions of reed of different lengths, and a tube of bamboo,
two feet long, which gives out a sound like a horn when blown into.


The staple article of food is the yam, which is produced here in great
abundance, of large size, and excellent quality. Several other tubers, or
roots, are eaten. Among them is that of a species of Calladium, which
requires much cooking to destroy its acridity. The coconut-tree grows
everywhere. In the canoes we saw abundance of sugarcane in pieces two
feet in length and an inch in thickness, and the natives brought off to
us bananas, breadfruit, mangoes, and prepared arrowroot. To a certain
extent also the natives feed upon fish, judging from the nets and
fishing-spears seen among them. The former, although frequently thirty or
forty feet in length, did not exceed eighteen inches in depth--they have
small meshes, thin triangular wooden floats, and shells at the bottom as
sinkers. Although we saw many pigs on shore in the village, only one was
obtained by barter, in this one a spear wound behind the shoulder was
made alongside the ship before handing it on board, but for what purpose
we could not understand, as it did not kill the animal. Dogs also I have
reason to believe are occasionally eaten, but whether cannibalism is ever
practised by these people is a question which we have not the means of
settling, as no evidence bearing upon the point could be obtained.

August 29th.

During our stay of thirteen days at this anchorage the wind has usually
been strong from East to East-South-East, with dull, gloomy, squally
weather, and occasionally showers of drizzling rain. Today, however, the
rain was so heavy that we caught seven tons in the awning. To this
haziness, which by obscuring distant objects was unfavourable for
surveying purposes, we owed our long detention here. As our intercourse
with the shore was limited to the two brief visits formerly mentioned, I
made no addition to the collection, with the exception of a solitary
Helix, nor was anything of zoological interest brought off by the
natives, except a string of heads of a species of hornbill (Buceros
plicatus) and feathers of a cassowary, a scarlet lory, and a few other
birds. No fish were caught at the anchorage, probably on account of the
nature of the bottom--a tenacious, greenish, muddy clay--and the strength
of the current which prevented our lines from resting on the bottom.
Observations made with the lead alongside at the time of high and
low-water indicated by the shore showed in thirteen days' observations a
rise and fall of only from two to six feet. Neither during the ebb nor
the floodtide was there any appreciable difference in the direction of
the current at our anchorage which set constantly to the westward between
West and West-South-West, at the rate of from one to one and a half knots
an hour. This current may reasonably be conjectured to come from the
northward and sweep round the South-East cape of New Guinea (distant from
this anchorage about fifty miles) thus making it appear probable that a
clear passage exists between the South-East extreme of New Guinea and the
western termination of the Louisiade Archipelago: indeed so far as
Lieutenant Yule's observations were carried in this direction no reefs
were seen to impede his progress to the north-east.


September 4th.

Five days ago we sailed from the Brumer Islands, and continued running
lines of soundings off and on the coast, the inshore details being left
as usual to the Bramble. On one occasion, while within a few miles of the
shore, the water suddenly shoaled to twelve, ten, and six fathoms, rock
or coral, although half an hour before no bottom could be got with a
hundred fathoms of line--apparently an indication of a submarine barrier,
more or less continuous, running at a variable distance from the shore,
and following the general trend of the coast. The appearance of the land
seen lately is very fine: the coast being backed by ranges of high
mountains presenting a very diversified outline; one of them, named upon
the chart Cloudy Mount, attains an elevation of 4,477 feet. Yesterday and
today great numbers of a storm petrel (Thalassidroma leucogastra) have
been following in our wake.


This afternoon, while off the eastern end of the bay called by
Bougainville the Cul de sac de l'Orangerie, the Bramble was signalled to
lead in towards the land off which we anchored at 9 P.M. in 30 fathoms.

From our anchorage we next morning saw on Dufaure Island, from which we
were distant about three miles, a village in a grove of coconut trees
behind a sandy beach, and the natives came off in considerable numbers
bringing large quantities of coconuts and breadfruit;* they did not
appear however to have any yams. Two or three small pigs, of the same
description as that hitherto seen (Sus papuensis) were procured.

(*Footnote. This was of smaller size than it attains in the South Sea
Islands; we cooked it in various ways but failed to make it palatable.)


And we obtained two fine live opossums, of a rare and singular kind
(Cuscus maculatus) for an axe apiece. They appeared to be quiet gentle
animals, until much irritated, when they bite hard. We fed them at first
on ripe coconuts, of which they were very fond; but latterly they became
accustomed to pea-soup. They spent most of the day in sleep in a corner
of the hen-coop where they were kept, each on its haunches with the tail
coiled up in front, the body arched, and the head covered by the fore
paws and doubled down between the thighs; at night, however, they were
more active and restless, their large reddish-yellow eyes being then
obscured by the dilated pupil, which during the day appears as a narrow
vertical line. One was frequently taken on deck towards evening and
allowed to climb about the rigging, moving very slowly, and endeavouring
to get up as high as possible.

The natives resemble those seen at Brumer islands (from which we were
distant about thirty-six miles) so closely that I saw no points regarding
them deserving of separate notice, and their language is the same,
judging from a small vocabulary of about seventy words. The only
manufactured article new to us was a small wooden pillow* about a foot
long and six inches high, with a slight concavity above to receive the
neck of the person using it. Both women and children came off with the
men to traffic with us and look at the ship, but none could be tempted to
come on board, although they paddled up alongside without the slightest
hesitation. We were frequently solicited to accompany them on shore, but
no one was allowed to leave the ship.

(*Footnote. Wooden pillows are also in use in some of the islands of
Polynesia and in New Caledonia.)


The northern shores of the Cul de Sac are low and wooded, forming an
extensive tract of level land stretching backwards towards the mountains,
with a large opening at its eastern end, which is probably the mouth of a
great river. The Bramble was sent to examine this bay, but the shoalness
of the water, and the unfavourable nature of the weather prevented the
completion of this work. During her absence a large canoe was seen in the
bay, differing from all those hitherto observed in having a triangular or
lateen sail set with the apex downwards, thus resembling those in use on
the north coast of New Guinea, among some of the Malay Islands, and those
of the Viti Archipelago.

The weather, since leaving Brumer Islands, has usually been gloomy, with
frequent rain, occasionally very heavy, and a close muggy feeling in the
atmosphere as if one were living in a vapour bath; the temperature on
board ship ranged between 72 and 83 degrees. During our five days' stay
off Dufaure Island we were daily employed in catching rainwater for
ship's use, being on reduced allowance of that necessary article. The
wind throughout has been steady at South-East, occasionally varying a
point or two towards east.


September 18th.

For the last three days the coast has appeared as a strip of low land,
backed by mountain ranges of moderate elevation.* We observed several
openings, apparently creeks or mouths of rivers, and saw much smoke and
some canoes, but our distance from the shore was too great to allow of
communication. In the evening we stood off to seaward, and during the
night, while trying to avoid it, probably passed over the assigned
position of a reef laid down on one of the charts as having been seen in
1804, but without being able to confirm or disprove its existence.**

(*Footnote. From the haze involving distant objects--less frequent (as we
afterwards had reason to believe) during the westerly monsoon--the much
higher Owen Stanley Range was not then visible; it had also, probably
from the same cause, quite escaped the notice of D'Urville who passed
this portion of the coast at the distance of about eight or nine miles.)

(**Footnote. Although this reef does not exist in the position assigned
to it, I may state that its presence upon the charts rests upon the
authority of Coutance; Freycinet, rejecting Coutance's longitude of Cape
Deliverance and adopting that of D'Entrecasteaux, has laid down the reef
in question as bearing West-South-West from Point Hood, at a distance of
twelve leagues. Another but smaller reef is stated on the same authority
to exist five leagues South-East 1/4 East from Cape Rodney.)


September 19th.

Passed Mount Astrolabe, a series of long flat-topped ridges parallel with
the coast, but were unable clearly to identify the Cape Passy of
D'Urville where his running survey terminated, and where the Astrolabe
and Zelee bore away to the westward for Torres Strait.

September 20th.

During the forenoon the Bramble was observed to windward, and in the
afternoon she was sent inshore to look for anchorage. Following her we
stood in towards a remarkable headland (365 feet high) which afterwards
received the name of Redscar Head, from the reddish colour of its cliffs.
At the distance of six and a half miles from the shore we struck
soundings in twenty-seven fathoms, and soon afterwards crossed a narrow
ridge of coral, with only five fathoms over it; after this the bottom
consisted of tenacious mud, and we carried in from twenty-two to eighteen
fathoms, in the last of which we anchored two miles and two-thirds off
the point.


When Lieutenant Yule came on board we heard that since we left the
Bramble near Dufaure Island to do the inshore work, he had on one
occasion an affray with the natives in the neighbourhood of the Toulon
Islands. When the Bramble was nearly becalmed close inshore, several
canoes with about thirty people, including several women and children,
came off to barter. A small pig* was handed into the chains, but, owing
to an unavoidable occurrence, no return was made for it, upon which the
owner snatched the cap from off the head of a marine attending at the
gangway. The canoe which had brought the pig then shoved off, and, on
being directed by gestures to return the cap, one man stood up and poised
his spear, and the others got their arms ready. Several musket shots were
fired into the canoe from a distance of six or seven yards, but,
regarding the effect, conflicting statements have been made. No
resistance was attempted, as, after the first shot, some of the natives
jumped into the water and all made off in confusion, which was further
increased when a round shot was fired in the direction of a distant canoe
coming out from the shore.

(*Footnote. As has often happened the bone of contention did not rest
with the belligerents, for the pig was eventually handed over to me and
prepared as a specimen, now in the British Museum, the only Sus papuensis
in England at the present time.)


September 21st.

Took a passage in a boat sent with Lieutenant Simpson to get a round of
angles on one of three neighbouring islands (afterwards called Pariwara,
the native name) situated two miles and a half North-West from Redscar
Point, with which they appear formerly to have been continuous, and, like
it, are remarkable for their red and white cliffs. The largest, that on
which we landed, is only three-fourths of a mile in length. In shape it
is somewhat triangular: one side is formed by a rounded ridge, the
highest point of which is 234 feet in height, with irregular cliffs along
the sea margin; the opposite angle is occupied by a rounded hill
projecting as a headland with rocky cliffs; and these two opposite
portions are connected by low land forming a sandy beach on two of the
sides. The island is covered with long coarse grass growing in tufts;
there are also some pandanus trees of two kinds (P. spiralis and P.
pedunculata) and some low brush of stunted bushy trees, their tops matted
together, and indicating by the direction in which their branches are
bent that the prevailing wind is from the south-east.

Strictly speaking, there is no soil upon the island: what may, however,
be considered as such consists of the disintegrated calcareous rock, on
the low part mixed up with sand. This rock, acted upon by the weather,
has a tendency to fall down in large masses, leaving cliffs, steep and
rugged in some places and smooth in others; in colour it varies from
white to red, and is usually of a light pink. Behind one of the beaches,
a few feet distant from high-water mark, I observed a bank twelve feet
high of slightly agglutinated coral sand in parallel beds, mixed up with
large depositions of weather-worn shells: Tridacna, Hippopus, Strombus,
etc., all of species now living on the reef. At one end this deposit
appears to have been tilted up, forming a slight ridge stretching across
the low part of the island. The shores in some places are fringed with
coral conglomerate composed of shells and sand, fragments of coral, and
rolled pieces of rock from above. The reef surrounding the islands does
not dry at low water, and in crossing it in the boat very little live
coral was observed, except on the outer margin, outside of which the
bottom is a tenacious mud, effervescing on the application of
hydrochloric acid.

I collected a few plants, among which are a yellow-flowered Cleome, a
purple Pongamia, Convolvulus multivalvis, Evolvulus villosus, Guettarda
speciosa, etc. The only birds seen were a white-headed eagle and an
osprey, neither of which were molested although the latter frequently
came within shot, and followed me as if from motives of curiosity. Almost
the only insects seen were small grasshoppers, rising in numbers at every
step, and green ants which have nests in the bushes, and appear identical
with those of the Louisiade and Australia.

No fresh water was found here. Some recent traces of natives were met
with--including two fireplaces where turtle and fish had been cooked on a
framework of sticks over a fire--precisely similar to one of large size,
formerly seen on the Duchateau Islands. I saw many places where turtle
eggs had been dug out of the sand behind the beach, where besides were
numerous burrows of a maritime crab (Ocypode cursor) which also appeared
to feed upon the eggs--judging from the quantity of empty shells about
the holes of those creatures.

Of the two remaining islands of the group, one, less than a quarter of a
mile long, is covered with trees, probably a Bombax or Erythrina--at this
time destitute of leaves--on the other is a high bare rock with three
other small detached, needle-shaped ones lying off it. The observations
with the theodolite having been completed we obtained some soundings and
returned to the ship.

The view we had today from the Pariwara Islands was not so interesting as
I had expected. The shores of the bay stretching to the northward of
Redscar Head for many miles are low and covered with tall trees behind a
strip of sandy beach. At the back of the point in the corner of the bay,
we saw an opening two hundred yards wide, with tall mangroves on the
northern bank, apparently one of the mouths of a river traversing the
great extent of low wooded country behind. A very large fire two or three
miles behind the beach, sending up great volumes of smoke, might have
been intended for a signal, but neither canoes nor natives were seen
during our absence from the ship.


September 24th.

A canoe with twelve young men and lads came off from the shore, and
approached within two hundred yards of the ship, but although tempted by
the exhibition of a large piece of red cloth, they would come no closer.
Their visit was apparently prompted by mere curiosity as they had nothing
to barter with. These natives closely resembled the other Papuans seen to
the eastward, but were smaller in stature, and wore the hair frizzled up
into a mop projecting backwards, nor had I before seen in one canoe so
many handsome faces. As a breech-cloth they wore a narrow strip of white
cloth passing between the legs and secured to a string round the waist,
but this was too narrow to serve as a fig-leaf. Among their ornaments we
saw necklaces of small white cowries, and round flat pieces of shell two
inches in diameter worn on the breast, also black, tightly fitting, woven
armlets, in which they had stuck bunches of apparently the same purple
odoriferous amaranth seen elsewhere, while other tufts of this plant were
attached to the ankles and elbows.


The canoe was nearly of the same description as those commonly seen at
the Brumer and Dufaure Islands, but the outrigger float was rather
shorter, having only five poles to support it instead of seven or eight,
and the bow and stern, especially the former, much sharper and more
raking. On the side opposite to the outrigger there was a small slightly
projecting stage of two planks only. The paddles were six and a half feet
in length, much clumsier than those seen in other parts of New Guinea,
and without the carving on the handle, the blade also differed slightly
in shape, being more elliptical. After paddling inshore a short distance
they made sail and landed near the point. The sail resembled the common
one of the Louisiade, being long, narrow, square at the ends, and
stretched between two yards or masts, and in setting was merely stuck
upon end and supported by guys fore and aft.

During our stay at this anchorage we had fine weather, with light
variable winds of short duration, generally from the westward, but
sometimes from the northward, and the thermometer ranged between 77 and
84 degrees.

September 25th.

Weighed in the afternoon with a very light air from South-West, and stood
to the North-West, but by sunset, when we anchored in 27 fathoms mud, we
had made only about eight miles. The weather was very sultry all day with
the thermometer from 82 to 84 degrees in the shade. In the evening we got
a land breeze from about east, which lasted most of the night.


September 26th.

Soon after daylight we were visited by a party of natives who came from
an opening in the low land at the north-east corner of the
bay--apparently the mouth of a large river. They were in three canoes
carrying respectively, seven, four, and three people, and paddled up
alongside without hesitation, appearing anxious to be admitted on board,
holding on by the chains and peeping into the ports in a most inquisitive


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