The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Part 3 out of 5


THE _Jane Guy_ was a fine-looking topsail schooner of a hundred
and eighty tons burden. She was unusually sharp in the bows, and on a
wind, in moderate weather, the fastest sailer I have ever seen. Her
qualities, however, as a rough sea-boat, were not so good, and her
draught of water was by far too great for the trade to which she was
destined. For this peculiar service, a larger vessel, and one of a
light proportionate draught, is desirable- say a vessel of from three
hundred to three hundred and fifty tons. She should be bark-rigged,
and in other respects of a different construction from the usual
South Sea ships. It is absolutely necessary that she should be well
armed. She should have, say ten or twelve twelve-pound carronades,
and two or three long twelves, with brass blunderbusses, and
water-tight arm-chests for each top. Her anchors and cables should be
of far greater strength than is required for any other species of
trade, and, above all, her crew should be numerous and efficient- not
less, for such a vessel as I have described, than fifty or sixty
able-bodied men. The Jane Guy had a crew of thirty-five, all able
seamen, besides the captain and mate, but she was not altogether as
well armed or otherwise equipped, as a navigator acquainted with the
difficulties and dangers of the trade could have desired.

Captain Guy was a gentleman of great urbanity of manner, and of
considerable experience in the southern traffic, to which he had
devoted a great portion of his life. He was deficient, however, in
energy, and, consequently, in that spirit of enterprise which is here
so absolutely requisite. He was part owner of the vessel in which he
sailed, and was invested with discretionary powers to cruise in the
South Seas for any cargo which might come most readily to hand. He
had on board, as usual in such voyages, beads, looking-glasses,
tinder-works, axes, hatchets, saws, adzes, planes, chisels, gouges,
gimlets, files, spokeshaves, rasps, hammers, nails, knives, scissors,
razors, needles, thread, crockery-ware, calico, trinkets, and other
similar articles.

The schooner sailed from Liverpool on the tenth of July, crossed
the Tropic of Cancer on the twenty-fifth, in longitude twenty degrees
west, and reached Sal, one of the Cape Verd islands, on the
twenty-ninth, where she took in salt and other necessaries for the
voyage. On the third of August, she left the Cape Verds and steered
southwest, stretching over toward the coast of Brazil, so as to cross
the equator between the meridians of twenty-eight and thirty degrees
west longitude. This is the course usually taken by vessels bound
from Europe to the Cape of Good Hope, or by that route to the East
Indies. By proceeding thus they avoid the calms and strong contrary
currents which continually prevail on the coast of Guinea, while, in
the end, it is found to be the shortest track, as westerly winds are
never wanting afterward by which to reach the Cape. It was Captain
Guy's intention to make his first stoppage at Kerguelen's Land- I
hardly know for what reason. On the day we were picked up the
schooner was off Cape St. Roque, in longitude thirty-one degrees
west; so that, when found, we had drifted probably, from north to
south, _not less than five-and-twenty degrees!_

On board the Jane Guy we were treated with all the kindness our
distressed situation demanded. In about a fortnight, during which
time we continued steering to the southeast, with gentle breezes and
fine weather, both Peters and myself recovered entirely from the
effects of our late privation and dreadful sufferings, and we began
to remember what had passed rather as a frightful dream from which we
had been happily awakened, than as events which had taken place in
sober and naked reality. I have since found that this species of
partial oblivion is usually brought about by sudden transition,
whether from joy to sorrow or from sorrow to joy- the degree of
forgetfulness being proportioned to the degree of difference in the
exchange. Thus, in my own case, I now feel it impossible to realize
the full extent of the misery which I endured during the days spent
upon the hulk. The incidents are remembered, but not the feelings
which the incidents elicited at the time of their occurrence. I only
know, that when they did occur, I then thought human nature could
sustain nothing more of agony.

We continued our voyage for some weeks without any incidents of
greater moment than the occasional meeting with whaling-ships, and
more frequently with the black or right whale, so called in
contradistinction to the spermaceti. These, however, were chiefly
found south of the twenty-fifth parallel. On the sixteenth of
September, being in the vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope, the
schooner encountered her first gale of any violence since leaving
Liverpool. In this neighborhood, but more frequently to the south and
east of the promontory (we were to the westward), navigators have
often to contend with storms from the northward, which rage with
great fury. They always bring with them a heavy sea, and one of their
most dangerous features is the instantaneous chopping round of the
wind, an occurrence almost certain to take place during the greatest
force of the gale. A perfect hurricane will be blowing at one moment
from the northward or northeast, and in the next not a breath of wind
will be felt in that direction, while from the southwest it will come
out all at once with a violence almost inconceivable. A bright spot
to the southward is the sure forerunner of the change, and vessels
are thus enabled to take the proper precautions.

It was about six in the morning when the blow came on with a
white squall, and, as usual, from the northward. By eight it had
increased very much, and brought down upon us one of the most
tremendous seas I had then ever beheld. Every thing had been made as
snug as possible, but the schooner laboured excessively, and gave
evidence of her bad qualities as a seaboat, pitching her forecastle
under at every plunge and with the greatest difficulty struggling up
from one wave before she was buried in another. Just before sunset
the bright spot for which we had been on the look-out made its
appearance in the southwest, and in an hour afterward we perceived
the little headsail we carried flapping listlessly against the mast.
In two minutes more, in spite of every preparation, we were hurled on
our beam-ends, as if by magic, and a perfect wilderness of foam made
a clear breach over us as we lay. The blow from the southwest,
however, luckily proved to be nothing more than a squall, and we had
the good fortune to right the vessel without the loss of a spar. A
heavy cross sea gave us great trouble for a few hours after this, but
toward morning we found ourselves in nearly as good condition as
before the gale. Captain Guy considered that he had made an escape
little less than miraculous.

On the thirteenth of October we came in sight of Prince Edward's
Island, in latitude 46 degrees 53' S., longitude 37 degrees 46' E.
Two days afterward we found ourselves near Possession Island, and
presently passed the islands of Crozet, in latitude 42 degrees 59'
S., longitude 48 degrees E. On the eighteenth we made Kerguelen's or
Desolation Island, in the Southern Indian Ocean, and came to anchor
in Christmas Harbour, having four fathoms of water.

This island, or rather group of islands, bears southeast from the
Cape of Good Hope, and is distant therefrom nearly eight hundred
leagues. It was first discovered in 1772, by the Baron de Kergulen,
or Kerguelen, a Frenchman, who, thinking the land to form a portion
of an extensive southern continent carried home information to that
effect, which produced much excitement at the time. The government,
taking the matter up, sent the baron back in the following year for
the purpose of giving his new discovery a critical examination, when
the mistake was discovered. In 1777, Captain Cook fell in with the
same group, and gave to the principal one the name of Desolation
Island, a title which it certainly well deserves. Upon approaching
the land, however, the navigator might be induced to suppose
otherwise, as the sides of most of the hills, from September to
March, are clothed with very brilliant verdure. This deceitful
appearance is caused by a small plant resembling saxifrage, which is
abundant, growing in large patches on a species of crumbling moss.
Besides this plant there is scarcely a sign of vegetation on the
island, if we except some coarse rank grass near the harbor, some
lichen, and a shrub which bears resemblance to a cabbage shooting
into seed, and which has a bitter and acrid taste.

The face of the country is hilly, although none of the hills can
be called lofty. Their tops are perpetually covered with snow. There
are several harbors, of which Christmas Harbour is the most
convenient. It is the first to be met with on the northeast side of
the island after passing Cape Francois, which forms the northern
shore, and, by its peculiar shape, serves to distinguish the harbour.
Its projecting point terminates in a high rock, through which is a
large hole, forming a natural arch. The entrance is in latitude 48
degrees 40' S., longitude 69 degrees 6' E. Passing in here, good
anchorage may be found under the shelter of several small islands,
which form a sufficient protection from all easterly winds.
Proceeding on eastwardly from this anchorage you come to Wasp Bay, at
the head of the harbour. This is a small basin, completely
landlocked, into which you can go with four fathoms, and find
anchorage in from ten to three, hard clay bottom. A ship might lie
here with her best bower ahead all the year round without risk. To
the westward, at the head of Wasp Bay, is a small stream of excellent
water, easily procured.

Some seal of the fur and hair species are still to be found on
Kerguelen's Island, and sea elephants abound. The feathered tribes
are discovered in great numbers. Penguins are very plenty, and of
these there are four different kinds. The royal penguin, so called
from its size and beautiful plumage, is the largest. The upper part
of the body is usually gray, sometimes of a lilac tint; the under
portion of the purest white imaginable. The head is of a glossy and
most brilliant black, the feet also. The chief beauty of plumage,
however, consists in two broad stripes of a gold color, which pass
along from the head to the breast. The bill is long, and either pink
or bright scarlet. These birds walk erect; with a stately carriage.
They carry their heads high with their wings drooping like two arms,
and, as their tails project from their body in a line with the legs,
the resemblance to a human figure is very striking, and would be apt
to deceive the spectator at a casual glance or in the gloom of the
evening. The royal penguins which we met with on Kerguelen's Land
were rather larger than a goose. The other kinds are the macaroni,
the jackass, and the rookery penguin. These are much smaller, less
beautiful in plumage, and different in other respects.

Besides the penguin many other birds are here to be found, among
which may be mentioned sea-hens, blue peterels, teal, ducks, Port
Egmont hens, shags, Cape pigeons, the nelly, sea swallows, terns, sea
gulls, Mother Carey's chickens, Mother Carey's geese, or the great
peterel, and, lastly, the albatross.

The great peterel is as large as the common albatross, and is
carnivorous. It is frequently called the break-bones, or osprey
peterel. They are not at all shy, and, when properly cooked, are
palatable food. In flying they sometimes sail very close to the
surface of the water, with the wings expanded, without appearing to
move them in the least degree, or make any exertion with them

The albatross is one of the largest and fiercest of the South Sea
birds. It is of the gull species, and takes its prey on the wing,
never coming on land except for the purpose of breeding. Between this
bird and the penguin the most singular friendship exists. Their nests
are constructed with great uniformity upon a plan concerted between
the two species- that of the albatross being placed in the centre of
a little square formed by the nests of four penguins. Navigators have
agreed in calling an assemblage of such encampments a rookery. These
rookeries have been often described, but as my readers may not all
have seen these descriptions, and as I shall have occasion hereafter
to speak of the penguin and albatross, it will not be amiss to say
something here of their mode of building and living.

When the season for incubation arrives, the birds assemble in vast
numbers, and for some days appear to be deliberating upon the proper
course to be pursued. At length they proceed to action. A level piece
of ground is selected, of suitable extent, usually comprising three
or four acres, and situated as near the sea as possible, being still
beyond its reach. The spot is chosen with reference to its evenness
of surface, and that is preferred which is the least encumbered with
stones. This matter being arranged, the birds proceed, with one
accord, and actuated apparently by one mind, to trace out, with
mathematical accuracy, either a square or other parallelogram, as may
best suit the nature of the ground, and of just sufficient size to
accommodate easily all the birds assembled, and no more- in this
particular seeming determined upon preventing the access of future
stragglers who have not participated in the labor of the encampment.
One side of the place thus marked out runs parallel with the water's
edge, and is left open for ingress or egress.

Having defined the limits of the rookery, the colony now begin to
clear it of every species of rubbish, picking up stone by stone, and
carrying them outside of the lines, and close by them, so as to form
a wall on the three inland sides. Just within this wall a perfectly
level and smooth walk is formed, from six to eight feet wide, and
extending around the encampment- thus serving the purpose of a
general promenade.

The next process is to partition out the whole area into small
squares exactly equal in size. This is done by forming narrow paths,
very smooth, and crossing each other at right angles throughout the
entire extent of the rookery. At each intersection of these paths the
nest of an albatross is constructed, and a penguin's nest in the
centre of each square- thus every penguin is surrounded by four
albatrosses, and each albatross by a like number of penguins. The
penguin's nest consists of a hole in the earth, very shallow, being
only just of sufficient depth to keep her single egg from rolling.
The albatross is somewhat less simple in her arrangements, erecting a
hillock about a foot high and two in diameter. This is made of earth,
seaweed, and shells. On its summit she builds her nest.

The birds take especial care never to leave their nests
unoccupied for an instant during the period of incubation, or,
indeed, until the young progeny are sufficiently strong to take care
of themselves. While the male is absent at sea in search of food, the
female remains on duty, and it is only upon the return of her partner
that she ventures abroad. The eggs are never left uncovered at all --
while one bird leaves the nest the other nestling in by its side.
This precaution is rendered necessary by the thieving propensities
prevalent in the rookery, the inhabitants making no scruple to
purloin each other's eggs at every good opportunity.

Although there are some rookeries in which the penguin and
albatross are the sole population, yet in most of them a variety of
oceanic birds are to be met with, enjoying all the privileges of
citizenship, and scattering their nests here and there, wherever they
can find room, never interfering, however, with the stations of the
larger species. The appearance of such encampments, when seen from a
distance, is exceedingly singular. The whole atmosphere just above
the settlement is darkened with the immense number of the albatross
(mingled with the smaller tribes) which are continually hovering over
it, either going to the ocean or returning home. At the same time a
crowd of penguins are to be observed, some passing to and fro in the
narrow alleys, and some marching with the military strut so peculiar
to them, around the general promenade ground which encircles the
rookery. In short, survey it as we will, nothing can be more
astonishing than the spirit of reflection evinced by these feathered
beings, and nothing surely can be better calculated to elicit
reflection in every well-regulated human intellect.

On the morning after our arrival in Christmas Harbour the chief
mate, Mr. Patterson, took the boats, and (although it was somewhat
early in the season) went in search of seal, leaving the captain and
a young relation of his on a point of barren land to the westward,
they having some business, whose nature I could not ascertain, to
transact in the interior of the island. Captain Guy took with him a
bottle, in which was a sealed letter, and made his way from the point
on which he was set on shore toward one of the highest peaks in the
place. It is probable that his design was to leave the letter on that
height for some vessel which he expected to come after him. As soon
as we lost sight of him we proceeded (Peters and myself being in the
mate's boat) on our cruise around the coast, looking for seal. In
this business we were occupied about three weeks, examining with
great care every nook and corner, not only of Kerguelen's Land, but
of the several small islands in the vicinity. Our labours, however,
were not crowned with any important success. We saw a great many fur
seal, but they were exceedingly shy, and with the greatest exertions,
we could only procure three hundred and fifty skins in all. Sea
elephants were abundant, especially on the western coast of the
mainland, but of these we killed only twenty, and this with great
difficulty. On the smaller islands we discovered a good many of the
hair seal, but did not molest them. We returned to the schooner: on
the eleventh, where we found Captain Guy and his nephew, who gave a
very bad account of the interior, representing it as one of the most
dreary and utterly barren countries in the world. They had remained
two nights on the island, owing to some misunderstanding, on the part
of the second mate, in regard to the sending a jollyboat from the
schooner to take them off.

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 14 ~~~


ON the twelfth we made sail from Christmas Harbour retracing our
way to the westward, and leaving Marion's Island, one of Crozet's
group, on the larboard. We afterward passed Prince Edward's Island,
leaving it also on our left, then, steering more to the northward,
made, in fifteen days, the islands of Tristan d'Acunha, in latitude
37 degrees 8' S, longitude 12 degrees 8' W.

This group, now so well known, and which consists of three
circular islands, was first discovered by the Portuguese, and was
visited afterward by the Dutch in 1643, and by the French in 1767.
The three islands together form a triangle, and are distant from each
other about ten miles, there being fine open passages between. The
land in all of them is very high, especially in Tristan d'Acunha,
properly so called. This is the largest of the group, being fifteen
miles in circumference, and so elevated that it can be seen in clear
weather at the distance of eighty or ninety miles. A part of the land
toward the north rises more than a thousand feet perpendicularly from
the sea. A tableland at this height extends back nearly to the centre
of the island, and from this tableland arises a lofty cone like that
of Teneriffe. The lower half of this cone is clothed with trees of
good size, but the upper region is barren rock, usually hidden among
the clouds, and covered with snow during the greater part of the
year. There are no shoals or other dangers about the island, the
shores being remarkably bold and the water deep. On the northwestern
coast is a bay, with a beach of black sand where a landing with boats
can be easily effected, provided there be a southerly wind. Plenty of
excellent water may here be readily procured; also cod and other fish
may be taken with hook and line.

The next island in point of size, and the most westwardly of the
group, is that called the Inaccessible. Its precise situation is 37
degrees 17' S. latitude, longitude 12 degrees 24' W. It is seven or
eight miles in circumference, and on all sides presents a forbidding
and precipitous aspect. Its top is perfectly flat, and the whole
region is sterile, nothing growing upon it except a few stunted

Nightingale Island, the smallest and most southerly, is in
latitude 37 degrees 26' S., longitude 12 degrees 12' W. Off its
southern extremity is a high ledge of rocky islets; a few also of a
similar appearance are seen to the northeast. The ground is irregular
and sterile, and a deep valley partially separates it.

The shores of these islands abound, in the proper season, with
sea lions, sea elephants, the hair and fur seal, together with a
great variety of oceanic birds. Whales are also plenty in their
vicinity. Owing to the ease with which these various animals were
here formerly taken, the group has been much visited since its
discovery. The Dutch and French frequented it at a very early period.
In 1790, Captain Patten, of the ship Industry, of Philadelphia, made
Tristan d'Acunha, where he remained seven months (from August, 1790,
to April, 1791) for the purpose of collecting sealskins. In this time
he gathered no less than five thousand six hundred, and says that he
would have had no difficulty in loading a large ship with oil in
three weeks. Upon his arrival he found no quadrupeds, with the
exception of a few wild goats; the island now abounds with all our
most valuable domestic animals, which have been introduced by
subsequent navigators.

I believe it was not long after Captain Patten's visit that
Captain Colquhoun, of the American brig Betsey, touched at the
largest of the islands for the purpose of refreshment. He planted
onions, potatoes, cabbages, and a great many other vegetables, an
abundance of all which is now to be met with.

In 1811, a Captain Haywood, in the Nereus, visited Tristan. He
found there three Americans, who were residing upon the island to
prepare sealskins and oil. One of these men was named Jonathan
Lambert, and he called himself the sovereign of the country. He had
cleared and cultivated about sixty acres of land, and turned his
attention to raising the coffee-plant and sugar-cane, with which he
had been furnished by the American Minister at Rio Janeiro. This
settlement, however, was finally abandoned, and in 1817 the islands
were taken possession of by the British Government, who sent a
detachment for that purpose from the Cape of Good Hope. They did not,
however, retain them long; but, upon the evacuation of the country as
a British possession, two or three English families took up their
residence there independently of the Government. On the twenty-fifth
of March, 1824, the Berwick, Captain Jeffrey, from London to Van
Diemen's Land, arrived at the place, where they found an Englishman
of the name of Glass, formerly a corporal in the British artillery.
He claimed to be supreme governor of the islands, and had under his
control twenty-one men and three women. He gave a very favourable
account of the salubrity of the climate and of the productiveness of
the soil. The population occupied themselves chiefly in collecting
sealskins and sea elephant oil, with which they traded to the Cape of
Good Hope, Glass owning a small schooner. At the period of our
arrival the governor was still a resident, but his little community
had multiplied, there being fifty-six persons upon Tristan, besides a
smaller settlement of seven on Nightingale Island. We had no
difficulty in procuring almost every kind of refreshment which we
required- sheep, hogs, bullocks, rabbits, poultry, goats, fish in
great variety, and vegetables were abundant. Having come to anchor
close in with the large island, in eighteen fathoms, we took all we
wanted on board very conveniently. Captain Guy also purchased of
Glass five hundred sealskins and some ivory. We remained here a week,
during which the prevailing winds were from the northward and
westward, and the weather somewhat hazy. On the fifth of November we
made sail to the southward and westward, with the intention of having
a thorough search for a group of islands called the Auroras,
respecting whose existence a great diversity of opinion has existed.

These islands are said to have been discovered as early as 1762,
by the commander of the ship Aurora. In 1790, Captain Manuel de
Oyarvido,, in the ship Princess, belonging to the Royal Philippine
Company, sailed, as he asserts, directly among them. In 1794, the
Spanish corvette Atrevida went with the determination of ascertaining
their precise situation, and, in a paper published by the Royal
Hydrographical Society of Madrid in the year 1809, the following
language is used respecting this expedition: "The corvette Atrevida
practised, in their immediate vicinity, from the twenty-first to the
twenty-seventh of January, all the necessary observations, and
measured by chronometers the difference of longitude between these
islands and the port of Soledad in the Manillas. The islands are
three, they are very nearly in the same meridian; the centre one is
rather low, and the other two may be seen at nine leagues' distance."
The observations made on board the Atrevida give the following
results as the precise situation of each island. The most northern is
in latitude 52 degrees 37' 24" S., longitude 47 degrees, 43' 15" W.;
the middle one in latitude 53 degrees 2' 40" S., longitude 47 degrees
55' 15" W.; and the most southern in latitude 53 degrees 15' 22" S.,
longitude 47 degrees 57' 15" W.

On the twenty-seventh of January, 1820, Captain James Weddel, of
the British navy, sailed from Staten Land also in search of the
Auroras. He reports that, having made the most diligent search and
passed not only immediately over the spots indicated by the commander
of the Atrevida, but in every direction throughout the vicinity of
these spots, he could discover no indication of land. These
conflicting statements have induced other navigators to look out for
the islands; and, strange to say, while some have sailed through
every inch of sea where they are supposed to lie without finding
them, there have been not a few who declare positively that they have
seen them; and even been close in with their shores. It was Captain
Guy's intention to make every exertion within his power to settle the
question so oddly in dispute. {*3}

We kept on our course, between the south and west, with variable
weather, until the twentieth of the month, when we found ourselves on
the debated ground, being in latitude 53 degrees 15' S., longitude 47
degrees 58' W.- that is to say, very nearly upon the spot indicated
as the situation of the most southern of the group. Not perceiving
any sign of land, we continued to the westward of the parallel of
fifty-three degrees south, as far as the meridian of fifty degrees
west. We then stood to the north as far as the parallel of fifty-two
degrees south, when we turned to the eastward, and kept our parallel
by double altitudes, morning and evening, and meridian altitudes of
the planets and moon. Having thus gone eastwardly to the meridian of
the western coast of Georgia, we kept that meridian until we were in
the latitude from which we set out. We then took diagonal courses
throughout the entire extent of sea circumscribed, keeping a lookout
constantly at the masthead, and repeating our examination with the
greatest care for a period of three weeks, during which the weather
was remarkably pleasant and fair, with no haze whatsoever. Of course
we were thoroughly satisfied that, whatever islands might have
existed in this vicinity at any former period, no vestige of them
remained at the present day. Since my return home I find that the
same ground was traced over, with equal care, in 1822, by Captain
Johnson, of the American schooner Henry, and by Captain Morrell in
the American schooner Wasp- in both cases with the same result as in
our own.

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 15 ~~~


It had been Captain Guy's original intention, after satisfying
himself about the Auroras, to proceed through the Strait of Magellan,
and up along the western coast of Patagonia; but information received
at Tristan d'Acunha induced him to steer to the southward, in the
hope of falling in with some small islands said to lie about the
parallel of 60 degrees S., longitude 41 degrees 20' W. In the event
of his not discovering these lands, he designed, should the season
prove favourable, to push on toward the pole. Accordingly, on the
twelfth of December, we made sail in that direction. On the
eighteenth we found ourselves about the station indicated by Glass,
and cruised for three days in that neighborhood without finding any
traces of the islands he had mentioned. On the twenty-first, the
weather being unusually pleasant, we again made sail to the
southward, with the resolution of penetrating in that course as far
as possible. Before entering upon this portion of my narrative, it
may be as well, for the information of those readers who have paid
little attention to the progress of discovery in these regions, to
give some brief account of the very few attempts at reaching the
southern pole which have hitherto been made.

That of Captain Cook was the first of which we have any distinct
account. In 1772 he sailed to the south in the Resolution,
accompanied by Lieutenant Furneaux in the Adventure. In December he
found himself as far as the fifty-eighth parallel of south latitude,
and in longitude 26 degrees 57' E. Here he met with narrow fields of
ice, about eight or ten inches thick, and running northwest and
southeast. This ice was in large cakes, and usually it was packed so
closely that the vessel had great difficulty in forcing a passage. At
this period Captain Cook supposed, from the vast number of birds to
be seen, and from other indications, that he was in the near vicinity
of land. He kept on to the southward, the weather being exceedingly
cold, until he reached the sixty-fourth parallel, in longitude 38
degrees 14' E.. Here he had mild weather, with gentle breezes, for
five days, the thermometer being at thirty-six. In January, 1773, the
vessels crossed the Antarctic circle, but did not succeed in
penetrating much farther; for upon reaching latitude 67 degrees 15'
they found all farther progress impeded by an immense body of ice,
extending all along the southern horizon as far as the eye could
reach. This ice was of every variety- and some large floes of it,
miles in extent, formed a compact mass, rising eighteen or twenty
feet above the water. It being late in the season, and no hope
entertained of rounding these obstructions, Captain Cook now
reluctantly turned to the northward.

In the November following he renewed his search in the
Antarctic. In latitude 59 degrees 40' he met with a strong current
setting to the southward. In December, when the vessels were in
latitude 67 degrees 31', longitude 142 degrees 54' W., the cold was
excessive, with heavy gales and fog. Here also birds were abundant;
the albatross, the penguin, and the peterel especially. In latitude
70 degrees 23' some large islands of ice were encountered, and
shortly afterward the clouds to the southward were observed to be of
a snowy whiteness, indicating the vicinity of field ice. In latitude
71 degrees 10', longitude 106 degrees 54' W., the navigators were
stopped, as before, by an immense frozen expanse, which filled the
whole area of the southern horizon. The northern edge of this expanse
was ragged and broken, so firmly wedged together as to be utterly
impassible, and extending about a mile to the southward. Behind it
the frozen surface was comparatively smooth for some distance, until
terminated in the extreme background by gigantic ranges of ice
mountains, the one towering above the other. Captain Cook concluded
that this vast field reached the southern pole or was joined to a
continent. Mr. J. N. Reynolds, whose great exertions and perseverance
have at length succeeded in getting set on foot a national
expedition, partly for the purpose of exploring these regions, thus
speaks of the attempt of the Resolution. "We are not surprised that
Captain Cook was unable to go beyond 71 degrees 10', but we are
astonished that he did attain that point on the meridian of 106
degrees 54' west longitude. Palmer's Land lies south of the Shetland,
latitude sixty-four degrees, and tends to the southward and westward
farther than any navigator has yet penetrated. Cook was standing for
this land when his progress was arrested by the ice; which, we
apprehend, must always be the case in that point, and so early in the
season as the sixth of January- and we should not be surprised if a
portion of the icy mountains described was attached to the main body
of Palmer's Land, or to some other portions of land lying farther to
the southward and westward."

In 1803, Captains Kreutzenstern and Lisiausky were dispatched by
Alexander of Russia for the purpose of circumnavigating the globe. In
endeavouring to get south, they made no farther than 59 degrees 58',
in longitude 70 degrees 15' W. They here met with strong currents
setting eastwardly. Whales were abundant, but they saw no ice. In
regard to this voyage, Mr. Reynolds observes that, if Kreutzenstern
had arrived where he did earlier in the season, he must have
encountered ice- it was March when he reached the latitude specified.
The winds, prevailing, as they do, from the southward and westward,
had carried the floes, aided by currents, into that icy region
bounded on the north by Georgia, east by Sandwich Land and the South
Orkneys, and west by the South Shetland islands.

In 1822, Captain James Weddell, of the British navy, with two
very small vessels, penetrated farther to the south than any previous
navigator, and this, too, without encountering extraordinary
difficulties. He states that although he was frequently hemmed in by
ice before reaching the seventy-second parallel, yet, upon attaining
it, not a particle was to be discovered, and that, upon arriving at
the latitude of 74 degrees 15', no fields, and only three islands of
ice were visible. It is somewhat remarkable that, although vast
flocks of birds were seen, and other usual indications of land, and
although, south of the Shetlands, unknown coasts were observed from
the masthead tending southwardly, Weddell discourages the idea of
land existing in the polar regions of the south.

On the 11th of January, 1823, Captain Benjamin Morrell, of the
American schooner Wasp, sailed from Kerguelen's Land with a view of
penetrating as far south as possible. On the first of February he
found himself in latitude 64 degrees 52' S., longitude 118 degrees
27' E. The following passage is extracted from his journal of that
date. "The wind soon freshened to an eleven-knot breeze, and we
embraced this opportunity of making to the west; being however
convinced that the farther we went south beyond latitude sixty-four
degrees, the less ice was to be apprehended, we steered a little to
the southward, until we crossed the Antarctic circle, and were in
latitude 69 degrees 15' E. In this latitude there was no field ice,
and very few ice islands in sight.

Under the date of March fourteenth I find also this entry. The
sea was now entirely free of field ice, and there were not more than
a dozen ice islands in sight. At the same time the temperature of the
air and water was at least thirteen degrees higher (more mild) than
we had ever found it between the parallels of sixty and sixty-two
south. We were now in latitude 70 degrees 14' S., and the temperature
of the air was forty-seven, and that of the water forty-four. In this
situation I found the variation to be 14 degrees 27' easterly, per
azimuth.... I have several times passed within the Antarctic circle,
on different meridians, and have uniformly found the temperature,
both of the air and the water, to become more and more mild the
farther I advanced beyond the sixty-fifth degree of south latitude,
and that the variation decreases in the same proportion. While north
of this latitude, say between sixty and sixty-five south, we
frequently had great difficulty in finding a passage for the vessel
between the immense and almost innumerable ice islands, some of which
were from one to two miles in circumference, and more than five
hundred feet above the surface of the water."

Being nearly destitute of fuel and water, and without proper
instruments, it being also late in the season, Captain Morrell was
now obliged to put back, without attempting any further progress to
the westward, although an entirely open, sea lay before him. He
expresses the opinion that, had not these overruling considerations
obliged him to retreat, he could have penetrated, if not to the pole
itself, at least to the eighty-fifth parallel. I have given his ideas
respecting these matters somewhat at length, that the reader may have
an opportunity of seeing how far they were borne out by my own
subsequent experience.

In 1831, Captain Briscoe, in the employ of the Messieurs
Enderby, whale-ship owners of London, sailed in the brig Lively for
the South Seas, accompanied by the cutter Tula. On the twenty-eighth
of February, being in latitude 66 degrees 30' S., longitude 47
degrees 31' E., he descried land, and "clearly discovered through the
snow the black peaks of a range of mountains running E. S. E." He
remained in this neighbourhood during the whole of the following
month, but was unable to approach the coast nearer than within ten
leagues, owing to the boisterous state of the weather. Finding it
impossible to make further discovery during this season, he returned
northward to winter in Van Diemen's Land.

In the beginning of 1832 he again proceeded southwardly, and on
the fourth of February was seen to the southeast in latitude 67
degrees 15' longitude 69 degrees 29' W. This was soon found to be an
island near the headland of the country he had first discovered. On
the twenty-first of the month he succeeded in landing on the latter,
and took possession of it in the name of William IV, calling it
Adelaide's Island, in honour of the English queen. These particulars
being made known to the Royal Geographical Society of London, the
conclusion was drawn by that body "that there is a continuous tract
of land extending from 47 degrees 30' E. to 69 degrees 29' W.
longitude, running the parallel of from sixty-six to sixty-seven
degrees south latitude." In respect to this conclusion Mr. Reynolds
observes: "In the correctness of it we by no means concur; nor do the
discoveries of Briscoe warrant any such indifference. It was within
these limits that Weddel proceeded south on a meridian to the east of
Georgia, Sandwich Land, and the South Orkney and Shetland islands."
My own experience will be found to testify most directly to the
falsity of the conclusion arrived at by the society.

These are the principal attempts which have been made at
penetrating to a high southern latitude, and it will now be seen that
there remained, previous to the voyage of the Jane, nearly three
hundred degrees of longitude in which the Antarctic circle had not
been crossed at all. Of course a wide field lay before us for
discovery, and it was with feelings of most intense interest that I
heard Captain Guy express his resolution of pushing boldly to the

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 16 ~~~


We kept our course southwardly for four days after giving up
the search for Glass's islands, without meeting with any ice at all.
On the twenty-sixth, at noon, we were in latitude 63 degrees 23' S.,
longitude 41 degrees 25' W. We now saw several large ice islands, and
a floe of field ice, not, however, of any great extent. The winds
generally blew from the southeast, or the northeast, but were very
light. Whenever we had a westerly wind, which was seldom, it was
invariably attended with a rain squall. Every day we had more or less
snow. The thermometer, on the twenty-seventh stood at thirty-five.

January 1, 1828.- This day we found ourselves completely hemmed
in by the ice, and our prospects looked cheerless indeed. A strong
gale blew, during the whole forenoon, from the northeast, and drove
large cakes of the drift against the rudder and counter with such
violence that we all trembled for the consequences. Toward evening,
the gale still blowing with fury, a large field in front separated,
and we were enabled, by carrying a press of sail to force a passage
through the smaller flakes into some open water beyond. As we
approached this space we took in sail by degrees, and having at
length got clear, lay-to under a single reefed foresail.

January 2.- We had now tolerably pleasant weather. At noon we
found ourselves in latitude 69 degrees 10' S, longitude 42 degrees
20' W, having crossed the Antarctic circle. Very little ice was to be
seen to the southward, although large fields of it lay behind us.
This day we rigged some sounding gear, using a large iron pot capable
of holding twenty gallons, and a line of two hundred fathoms. We
found the current setting to the north, about a quarter of a mile per
hour. The temperature of the air was now about thirty-three. Here we
found the variation to be 14 degrees 28' easterly, per azimuth.

January 5.- We had still held on to the southward without any
very great impediments. On this morning, however, being in latitude
73 degrees 15' E., longitude 42 degrees 10' W, we were again brought
to a stand by an immense expanse of firm ice. We saw, nevertheless,
much open water to the southward, and felt no doubt of being able to
reach it eventually. Standing to the eastward along the edge of the
floe, we at length came to a passage of about a mile in width,
through which we warped our way by sundown. The sea in which we now
were was thickly covered with ice islands, but had no field ice, and
we pushed on boldly as before. The cold did not seem to increase,
although we had snow very frequently, and now and then hail squalls
of great violence. Immense flocks of the albatross flew over the
schooner this day, going from southeast to northwest.

January 7.- The sea still remained pretty well open, so that we
had no difficulty in holding on our course. To the westward we saw
some icebergs of incredible size, and in the afternoon passed very
near one whose summit could not have been less than four hundred
fathoms from the surface of the ocean. Its girth was probably, at the
base, three-quarters of a league, and several streams of water were
running from crevices in its sides. We remained in sight of this
island two days, and then only lost it in a fog.

January 10.- Early this morning we had the misfortune to lose a
man overboard. He was an American named Peter Vredenburgh, a native
of New York, and was one of the most valuable hands on board the
schooner. In going over the bows his foot slipped, and he fell
between two cakes of ice, never rising again. At noon of this day we
were in latitude 78 degrees 30', longitude 40 degrees 15' W. The cold
was now excessive, and we had hail squalls continually from the
northward and eastward. In this direction also we saw several more
immense icebergs, and the whole horizon to the eastward appeared to
be blocked up with field ice, rising in tiers, one mass above the
other. Some driftwood floated by during the evening, and a great
quantity of birds flew over, among which were nellies, peterels,
albatrosses, and a large bird of a brilliant blue plumage. The
variation here, per azimuth, was less than it had been previously to
our passing the Antarctic circle.

January 12.-Our passage to the south again looked doubtful, as
nothing was to be seen in the direction of the pole but one
apparently limitless floe, backed by absolute mountains of ragged
ice, one precipice of which arose frowningly above the other. We
stood to the westward until the fourteenth, in the hope of finding an

January 14.-This morning we reached the western extremity of the
field which had impeded us, and, weathering it, came to an open sea,
without a particle of ice. Upon sounding with two hundred fathoms, we
here found a current setting southwardly at the rate of half a mile
per hour. The temperature of the air was forty-seven, that of the
water thirtyfour. We now sailed to the southward without meeting any
interruption of moment until the sixteenth, when, at noon, we were in
latitude 81 degrees 21', longitude 42 degrees W. We here again
sounded, and found a current setting still southwardly, and at the
rate of three quarters of a mile per hour. The variation per azimuth
had diminished, and the temperature of the air was mild and pleasant,
the thermometer being as high as fifty-one. At this period not a
particle of ice was to be discovered. All hands on board now felt
certain of attaining the pole.

January 17.- This day was full of incident. Innumerable flights
of birds flew over us from the southward, and several were shot from
the deck, one of them, a species of pelican, proved to be excellent
eating. About midday a small floe of ice was seen from the masthead
off the larboard bow, and upon it there appeared to be some large
animal. As the weather was good and nearly calm, Captain Guy ordered
out two of the boats to see what it was. Dirk Peters and myself
accompanied the mate in the larger boat. Upon coming up with the
floe, we perceived that it was in the possession of a gigantic
creature of the race of the Arctic bear, but far exceeding in size
the largest of these animals. Being well armed, we made no scruple of
attacking it at once. Several shots were fired in quick succession,
the most of which took effect, apparently, in the head and body.
Nothing discouraged, however, the monster threw himself from the ice,
and swam with open jaws, to the boat in which were Peters and myself.
Owing to the confusion which ensued among us at this unexpected turn
of the adventure, no person was ready immediately with a second shot,
and the bear had actually succeeded in getting half his vast bulk
across our gunwale, and seizing one of the men by the small of his
back, before any efficient means were taken to repel him. In this
extremity nothing but the promptness and agility of Peters saved us
from destruction. Leaping upon the back of the huge beast, he plunged
the blade of a knife behind the neck, reaching the spinal marrow at a
blow. The brute tumbled into the sea lifeless, and without a
struggle, rolling over Peters as he fell. The latter soon recovered
himself, and a rope being thrown him, he secured the carcass before
entering the boat. We then returned in triumph to the schooner,
towing our trophy behind us. This bear, upon admeasurement, proved
to be full fifteen feet in his greatest length. His wool was
perfectly white, and very coarse, curling tightly. The eyes were of a
blood red, and larger than those of the Arctic bear, the snout also
more rounded, rather resembling the snout of the bulldog. The meat
was tender, but excessively rank and fishy, although the men devoured
it with avidity, and declared it excellent eating.

Scarcely had we got our prize alongside, when the man at the
masthead gave the joyful shout of "land on the starboard bow!" All
hands were now upon the alert, and, a breeze springing up very
opportunely from the northward and eastward, we were soon close in
with the coast. It proved to be a low rocky islet, of about a league
in circumference, and altogether destitute of vegetation, if we
except a species of prickly pear. In approaching it from the
northward, a singular ledge of rock is seen projecting into the sea,
and bearing a strong resemblance to corded bales of cotton. Around
this ledge to the westward is a small bay, at the bottom of which our
boats effected a convenient landing.

It did not take us long to explore every portion of the island,
but, with one exception, we found nothing worthy of our observation.
In the southern extremity, we picked up near the shore, half buried
in a pile of loose stones, a piece of wood, which seemed to have
formed the prow of a canoe. There had been evidently some attempt at
carving upon it, and Captain Guy fancied that he made out the figure
of a tortoise, but the resemblance did not strike me very forcibly.
Besides this prow, if such it were, we found no other token that any
living creature had ever been here before. Around the coast we
discovered occasional small floes of ice- but these were very few.
The exact situation of the islet (to which Captain Guy gave the name
of Bennet's Islet, in honour of his partner in the ownership of the
schooner) is 82 degrees 50' S. latitude, 42 degrees 20' W. longitude.

We had now advanced to the southward more than eight degrees
farther than any previous navigators, and the sea still lay perfectly
open before us. We found, too, that the variation uniformly decreased
as we proceeded, and, what was still more surprising, that the
temperature of the air, and latterly of the water, became milder. The
weather might even be called pleasant, and we had a steady but very
gentle breeze always from some northern point of the compass. The sky
was usually clear, with now and then a slight appearance of thin
vapour in the southern horizon- this, however, was invariably of
brief duration. Two difficulties alone presented themselves to our
view; we were getting short of fuel, and symptoms of scurvy had
occurred among several of the crew. These considerations began to
impress upon Captain Guy the necessity of returning, and he spoke of
it frequently. For my own part, confident as I was of soon arriving
at land of some description upon the course we were pursuing, and
having every reason to believe, from present appearances, that we
should not find it the sterile soil met with in the higher Arctic
latitudes, I warmly pressed upon him the expediency of persevering,
at least for a few days longer, in the direction we were now holding.
So tempting an opportunity of solving the great problem in regard to
an Antarctic continent had never yet been afforded to man, and I
confess that I felt myself bursting with indignation at the timid and
ill-timed suggestions of our commander. I believe, indeed, that what
I could not refrain from saying to him on this head had the effect of
inducing him to push on. While, therefore, I cannot but lament the
most unfortunate and bloody events which immediately arose from my
advice, I must still be allowed to feel some degree of gratification
at having been instrumental, however remotely, in opening to the eye
of science one of the most intensely exciting secrets which has ever
engrossed its attention.

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 17 ~~~


January 18.- This morning {*4} we continued to the southward,
with the same pleasant weather as before. The sea was entirely
smooth, the air tolerably warm and from the northeast, the
temperature of the water fifty-three. We now again got our
sounding-gear in order, and, with a hundred and fifty fathoms of
line, found the current setting toward the pole at the rate of a mile
an hour. This constant tendency to the southward, both in the wind
and current, caused some degree of speculation, and even of alarm, in
different quarters of the schooner, and I saw distinctly that no
little impression had been made upon the mind of Captain Guy. He was
exceedingly sensitive to ridicule, however, and I finally succeeded
in laughing him out of his apprehensions. The variation was now very
trivial. In the course of the day we saw several large whales of the
right species, and innumerable flights of the albatross passed over
the vessel. We also picked up a bush, full of red berries, like those
of the hawthorn, and the carcass of a singular-looking land-animal.
It was three feet in length, and but six inches in height, with four
very short legs, the feet armed with long claws of a brilliant
scarlet, and resembling coral in substance. The body was covered with
a straight silky hair, perfectly white. The tail was peaked like that
of a rat, and about a foot and a half long. The head resembled a
cat's, with the exception of the ears- these were flopped like the
ears of a dog. The teeth were of the same brilliant scarlet as the

January 19.- To-day, being in latitude 83 degrees 20', longitude
43 degrees 5' W. (the sea being of an extraordinarily dark colour),
we again saw land from the masthead, and, upon a closer scrutiny,
found it to be one of a group of very large islands. The shore was
precipitous, and the interior seemed to be well wooded, a
circumstance which occasioned us great joy. In about four hours from
our first discovering the land we came to anchor in ten fathoms,
sandy bottom, a league from the coast, as a high surf, with strong
ripples here and there, rendered a nearer approach of doubtful
expediency. The two largest boats were now ordered out, and a party,
well armed (among whom were Peters and myself), proceeded to look for
an opening in the reef which appeared to encircle the island. After
searching about for some time, we discovered an inlet, which we were
entering, when we saw four large canoes put off from the shore,
filled with men who seemed to be well armed. We waited for them to
come up, and, as they moved with great rapidity, they were soon
within hail. Captain Guy now held up a white handkerchief on the
blade of an oar, when the strangers made a full stop, and commenced a
loud jabbering all at once, intermingled with occasional shouts, in
which we could distinguish the words Anamoo-moo! and Lama-Lama! They
continued this for at least half an hour, during which we had a good
opportunity of observing their appearance.

In the four canoes, which might have been fifty feet long and
five broad, there were a hundred and ten savages in all. They were
about the ordinary stature of Europeans, but of a more muscular and
brawny frame. Their complexion a jet black, with thick and long
woolly hair. They were clothed in skins of an unknown black animal,
shaggy and silky, and made to fit the body with some degree of skill,
the hair being inside, except where turned out about the neck,
wrists, and ankles. Their arms consisted principally of clubs, of a
dark, and apparently very heavy wood. Some spears, however, were
observed among them, headed with flint, and a few slings. The bottoms
of the canoes were full of black stones about the size of a large egg.

When they had concluded their harangue (for it was clear they
intended their jabbering for such), one of them who seemed to be the
chief stood up in the prow of his canoe, and made signs for us to
bring our boats alongside of him. This hint we pretended not to
understand, thinking it the wiser plan to maintain, if possible, the
interval between us, as their number more than quadrupled our own.
Finding this to be the case, the chief ordered the three other canoes
to hold back, while he advanced toward us with his own. As soon as he
came up with us he leaped on board the largest of our boats, and
seated himself by the side of Captain Guy, pointing at the same time
to the schooner, and repeating the word Anamoo-moo! and Lama-Lama! We
now put back to the vessel, the four canoes following at a little

Upon getting alongside, the chief evinced symptoms of extreme
surprise and delight, clapping his hands, slapping his thighs and
breast, and laughing obstreperously. His followers behind joined in
his merriment, and for some minutes the din was so excessive as to be
absolutely deafening. Quiet being at length restored, Captain Guy
ordered the boats to be hoisted up, as a necessary precaution, and
gave the chief (whose name we soon found to be Too-wit) to understand
that we could admit no more than twenty of his men on deck at one
time. With this arrangement he appeared perfectly satisfied, and gave
some directions to the canoes, when one of them approached, the rest
remaining about fifty yards off. Twenty of the savages now got on
board, and proceeded to ramble over every part of the deck, and
scramble about among the rigging, making themselves much at home, and
examining every article with great inquisitiveness.

It was quite evident that they had never before seen any of the
white race- from whose complexion, indeed, they appeared to recoil.
They believed the Jane to be a living creature, and seemed to be
afraid of hurting it with the points of their spears, carefully
turning them up. Our crew were much amused with the conduct of
Too-wit in one instance. The cook was splitting some wood near the
galley, and, by accident, struck his axe into the deck, making a gash
of considerable depth. The chief immediately ran up, and pushing the
cook on one side rather roughly, commenced a half whine, half howl,
strongly indicative of sympathy in what he considered the sufferings
of the schooner, patting and smoothing the gash with his hand, and
washing it from a bucket of seawater which stood by. This was a
degree of ignorance for which we were not prepared, and for my part I
could not help thinking some of it affected.

When the visitors had satisfied, as well as they could, their
curiosity in regard to our upper works, they were admitted below,
when their amazement exceeded all bounds. Their astonishment now
appeared to be far too deep for words, for they roamed about in
silence, broken only by low ejaculations. The arms afforded them much
food for speculation, and they were suffered to handle and examine
them at leisure. I do not believe that they had the least suspicion
of their actual use, but rather took them for idols, seeing the care
we had of them, and the attention with which we watched their
movements while handling them. At the great guns their wonder was
redoubled. They approached them with every mark of the profoundest
reverence and awe, but forbore to examine them minutely. There were
two large mirrors in the cabin, and here was the acme of their
amazement. Too-wit was the first to approach them, and he had got in
the middle of the cabin, with his face to one and his back to the
other, before he fairly perceived them. Upon raising his eyes and
seeing his reflected self in the glass, I thought the savage would go
mad; but, upon turning short round to make a retreat, and beholding
himself a second time in the opposite direction, I was afraid he
would expire upon the spot. No persuasion could prevail upon him to
take another look; throwing himself upon the floor, with his face
buried in his hands, he remained thus until we were obliged to drag
him upon deck.

The whole of the savages were admitted on board in this manner,
twenty at a time, Too-wit being suffered to remain during the entire
period. We saw no disposition to thievery among them, nor did we miss
a single article after their departure. Throughout the whole of their
visit they evinced the most friendly manner. There were, however,
some points in their demeanour which we found it impossible to
understand; for example, we could not get them to approach several
very harmless objects- such as the schooner's sails, an egg, an open
book, or a pan of flour. We endeavoured to ascertain if they had
among them any articles which might be turned to account in the way
of traffic, but found great difficulty in being comprehended. We made
out, nevertheless, what greatly astonished us, that the islands
abounded in the large tortoise of the Gallipagos, one of which we saw
in the canoe of Too-wit. We saw also some biche de mer in the hands
of one of the savages, who was greedily devouring it in its natural
state. These anomalies- for they were such when considered in regard
to the latitude- induced Captain Guy to wish for a thorough
investigation of the country, in the hope of making a profitable
speculation in his discovery. For my own part, anxious as I was to
know something more of these islands, I was still more earnestly bent
on prosecuting the voyage to the southward without delay. We had now
fine weather, but there was no telling how long it would last; and
being already in the eighty-fourth parallel, with an open sea before
us, a current setting strongly to the southward, and the wind fair, I
could not listen with any patience to a proposition of stopping
longer than was absolutely necessary for the health of the crew and
the taking on board a proper supply of fuel and fresh provisions. I
represented to the captain that we might easily make this group on
our return, and winter here in the event of being blocked up by the
ice. He at length came into my views (for in some way, hardly known
to myself, I had acquired much influence over him), and it was
finally resolved that, even in the event of our finding biche de mer,
we should only stay here a week to recruit, and then push on to the
southward while we might. Accordingly we made every necessary
preparation, and, under the guidance of Too-wit, got the Jane through
the reef in safety, coming to anchor about a mile from the shore, in
an excellent bay, completely landlocked, on the southeastern coast of
the main island, and in ten fathoms of water, black sandy bottom. At
the head of this bay there were three fine springs (we were told) of
good water, and we saw abundance of wood in the vicinity. The four
canoes followed us in, keeping, however, at a respectful distance.
Too-wit himself remained on board, and, upon our dropping anchor,
invited us to accompany him on shore, and visit his village in the
interior. To this Captain Guy consented; and ten savages being left
on board as hostages, a party of us, twelve in all, got in readiness
to attend the chief. We took care to be well armed, yet without
evincing any distrust. The schooner had her guns run out, her
boarding-nettings up, and every other proper precaution was taken to
guard against surprise. Directions were left with the chief mate to
admit no person on board during our absence, and, in the event of our
not appearing in twelve hours, to send the cutter, with a swivel,
around the island in search of us.

At every step we took inland the conviction forced itself upon
us that we were in a country differing essentially from any hitherto
visited by civilized men. We saw nothing with which we had been
formerly conversant. The trees resembled no growth of either the
torrid, the temperate, of the northern frigid zones, and were
altogether unlike those of the lower southern latitudes we had
already traversed. The very rocks were novel in their mass, their
color, and their stratification; and the streams themselves, utterly
incredible as it may appear, had so little in common with those of
other climates, that we were scrupulous of tasting them, and, indeed,
had difficulty in bringing ourselves to believe that their qualities
were purely those of nature. At a small brook which crossed our path
(the first we had reached) Too-wit and his attendants halted to
drink. On account of the singular character of the water, we refused
to taste it, supposing it to be polluted; and it was not until some
time afterward we came to understand that such was the appearance of
the streams throughout the whole group. I am at a loss to give a
distinct idea of the nature of this liquid, and cannot do so without
many words. Although it flowed with rapidity in all declivities where
common water would do so, yet never, except when falling in a
cascade, had it the customary appearance of limpidity. It was,
nevertheless, in point of fact, as perfectly limpid as any limestone
water in existence, the difference being only in appearance. At first
sight, and especially in cases where little declivity was found, it
bore resemblance, as regards consistency, to a thick infusion of
gum arabic in common water. But this was only the least remarkable of
its extraordinary qualities. It was not colourless, nor was it of any
one uniform colour- presenting to the eye, as it flowed, every
possible shade of purple; like the hues of a changeable silk. This
variation in shade was produced in a manner which excited as profound
astonishment in the minds of our party as the mirror had done in the
case of Too-wit. Upon collecting a basinful, and allowing it to
settle thoroughly, we perceived that the whole mass of liquid was
made up of a number of distinct veins, each of a distinct hue; that
these veins did not commingle; and that their cohesion was perfect in
regard to their own particles among themselves, and imperfect in
regard to neighbouring veins. Upon passing the blade of a knife
athwart the veins, the water closed over it immediately, as with us,
and also, in withdrawing it, all traces of the passage of the knife
were instantly obliterated. If, however, the blade was passed down
accurately between the two veins, a perfect separation was effected,
which the power of cohesion did not immediately rectify. The
phenomena of this water formed the first definite link in that vast
chain of apparent miracles with which I was destined to be at length

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 18 ~~~


We were nearly three hours in reaching the village, it being
more than nine miles in the interior, and the path lying through a
rugged country. As we passed along, the party of Too-wit (the whole
hundred and ten savages of the canoes) was momentarily strengthened
by smaller detachments, of from two to six or seven, which joined us,
as if by accident, at different turns of the road. There appeared so
much of system in this that I could not help feeling distrust, and I
spoke to Captain Guy of my apprehensions. It was now too late,
however, to recede, and we concluded that our best security lay in
evincing a perfect confidence in the good faith of Too-wit. We
accordingly went on, keeping a wary eye upon the manoeuvres of the
savages, and not permitting them to divide our numbers by pushing in
between. In this way, passing through a precipitous ravine, we at
length reached what we were told was the only collection of
habitations upon the island. As we came in sight of them, the chief
set up a shout, and frequently repeated the word Klock-klock, which
we supposed to be the name of the village, or perhaps the generic
name for villages.

The dwellings were of the most miserable description imaginable,
and, unlike those of even the lowest of the savage races with which
mankind are acquainted, were of no uniform plan. Some of them (and
these we found belonged to the Wampoos or Yampoos, the great men of
the land) consisted of a tree cut down at about four feet from the
root, with a large black skin thrown over it, and hanging in loose
folds upon the ground. Under this the savage nestled. Others were
formed by means of rough limbs of trees, with the withered foliage
upon them, made to recline, at an angle of forty-five degrees,
against a bank of clay, heaped up, without regular form, to the
height of five or six feet. Others, again, were mere holes dug in the
earth perpendicularly, and covered over with similar branches, these
being removed when the tenant was about to enter, and pulled on again
when he had entered. A few were built among the forked limbs of trees
as they stood, the upper limbs being partially cut through, so as to
bend over upon the lower, thus forming thicker shelter from the
weather. The greater number, however, consisted of small shallow
caverns, apparently scratched in the face of a precipitous ledge of
dark stone, resembling fuller's earth, with which three sides of the
village were bounded. At the door of each of these primitive caverns
was a small rock, which the tenant carefully placed before the
entrance upon leaving his residence, for what purpose I could not
ascertain, as the stone itself was never of sufficient size to close
up more than a third of the opening.

This village, if it were worthy of the name, lay in a valley of
some depth, and could only be approached from the southward, the
precipitous ledge of which I have already spoken cutting off all
access in other directions. Through the middle of the valley ran a
brawling stream of the same magical-looking water which has been
described. We saw several strange animals about the dwellings, all
appearing to be thoroughly domesticated. The largest of these
creatures resembled our common hog in the structure of the body and
snout; the tail, however, was bushy, and the legs slender as those of
the antelope. Its motion was exceedingly awkward and indecisive, and
we never saw it attempt to run. We noticed also several animals very
similar in appearance, but of a greater length of body, and covered
with a black wool. There were a great variety of tame fowls running
about, and these seemed to constitute the chief food of the natives.
To our astonishment we saw black albatross among these birds in a
state of entire domestication, going to sea periodically for food,
but always returning to the village as a home, and using the southern
shore in the vicinity as a place of incubation. There they were
joined by their friends the pelicans as usual, but these latter never
followed them to the dwellings of the savages. Among the other kinds
of tame fowls were ducks, differing very little from the canvass-back
of our own country, black gannets, and a large bird not unlike the
buzzard in appearance, but not carnivorous. Of fish there seemed to
be a great abundance. We saw, during our visit, a quantity of dried
salmon, rock cod, blue dolphins, mackerel, blackfish, skate, conger
eels, elephantfish, mullets, soles, parrotfish, leather-jackets,
gurnards, hake, flounders, paracutas, and innumerable other
varieties. We noticed, too, that most of them were similar to the
fish about the group of Lord Auckland Islands, in a latitude as low
as fifty-one degrees south. The Gallipago tortoise was also very
plentiful. We saw but few wild animals, and none of a large size, or
of a species with which we were familiar. One or two serpents of a
formidable aspect crossed our path, but the natives paid them little
attention, and we concluded that they were not venomous.

As we approached the village with Too-wit and his party, a vast
crowd of the people rushed out to meet us, with loud shouts, among
which we could only distinguish the everlasting Anamoo-moo! and
Lama-Lama! We were much surprised at perceiving that, with one or two
exceptions, these new comers were entirely naked, and skins being
used only by the men of the canoes. All the weapons of the country
seemed also to be in the possession of the latter, for there was no
appearance of any among the villagers. There were a great many women
and children, the former not altogether wanting in what might be
termed personal beauty. They were straight, tall, and well formed,
with a grace and freedom of carriage not to be found in civilized
society. Their lips, however, like those of the men, were thick and
clumsy, so that, even when laughing, the teeth were never disclosed.
Their hair was of a finer texture than that of the males. Among these
naked villagers there might have been ten or twelve who were clothed,
like the party of Too-wit, in dresses of black skin, and armed with
lances and heavy clubs. These appeared to have great influence among
the rest, and were always addressed by the title Wampoo. These, too,
were the tenants of the black skin palaces. That of Too-wit was
situated in the centre of the village, and was much larger and
somewhat better constructed than others of its kind. The tree which
formed its support was cut off at a distance of twelve feet or
thereabouts from the root, and there were several branches left just
below the cut, these serving to extend the covering, and in this way
prevent its flapping about the trunk. The covering, too, which
consisted of four very large skins fastened together with wooden
skewers, was secured at the bottom with pegs driven through it and
into the ground. The floor was strewed with a quantity of dry leaves
by way of carpet.

To this hut we were conducted with great solemnity, and as many
of the natives crowded in after us as possible. Too-wit seated
himself on the leaves, and made signs that we should follow his
example. This we did, and presently found ourselves in a situation
peculiarly uncomfortable, if not indeed critical. We were on the
ground, twelve in number, with the savages, as many as forty, sitting
on their hams so closely around us that, if any disturbance had
arisen, we should have found it impossible to make use of our arms,
or indeed to have risen to our feet. The pressure was not only inside
the tent, but outside, where probably was every individual on the
whole island, the crowd being prevented from trampling us to death
only by the incessant exertions and vociferations of Too-wit. Our
chief security lay, however, in the presence of Too-wit himself among
us, and we resolved to stick by him closely, as the best chance of
extricating ourselves from the dilemma, sacrificing him immediately
upon the first appearance of hostile design.

After some trouble a certain degree of quiet was restored, when
the chief addressed us in a speech of great length, and very nearly
resembling the one delivered in the canoes, with the exception that
the Anamoo-moos! were now somewhat more strenuously insisted upon
than the Lama-Lamas! We listened in profound silence until the
conclusion of this harangue, when Captain Guy replied by assuring the
chief of his eternal friendship and goodwill, concluding what he had
to say be a present of several strings of blue beads and a knife. At
the former the monarch, much to our surprise, turned up his nose with
some expression of contempt, but the knife gave him the most
unlimited satisfaction, and he immediately ordered dinner. This was
handed into the tent over the heads of the attendants, and consisted
of the palpitating entrails of a specials of unknown animal, probably
one of the slim-legged hogs which we had observed in our approach to
the village. Seeing us at a loss how to proceed, he began, by way of
setting us an example, to devour yard after yard of the enticing
food, until we could positively stand it no longer, and evinced such
manifest symptoms of rebellion of stomach as inspired his majesty
with a degree of astonishment only inferior to that brought about by
the looking-glasses. We declined, however, partaking of the
delicacies before us, and endeavoured to make him understand that we
had no appetite whatever, having just finished a hearty dejeuner.

When the monarch had made an end of his meal, we commenced a
series of cross-questioning in every ingenious manner we could
devise, with a view of discovering what were the chief productions of
the country, and whether any of them might be turned to profit. At
length he seemed to have some idea of our meaning, and offered to
accompany us to a part of coast where he assured us the biche de mer
(pointing to a specimen of that animal) was to be found in great
abundance. We were glad of this early opportunity of escaping from
the oppression of the crowd, and signified our eagerness to proceed.
We now left the tent, and, accompanied by the whole population of the
village, followed the chief to the southeastern extremity of the
island, nor far from the bay where our vessel lay at anchor. We
waited here for about an hour, until the four canoes were brought
around by some of the savages to our station. The whole of our party
then getting into one of them, we were paddled along the edge of the
reef before mentioned, and of another still farther out, where we saw
a far greater quantity of biche de mer than the oldest seamen among
us had ever seen in those groups of the lower latitudes most
celebrated for this article of commerce. We stayed near these reefs
only long enough to satisfy ourselves that we could easily load a
dozen vessels with the animal if necessary, when we were taken
alongside the schooner, and parted with Too-wit, after obtaining from
him a promise that he would bring us, in the course of twenty-four
hours, as many of the canvass-back ducks and Gallipago tortoises as
his canoes would hold. In the whole of this adventure we saw nothing
in the demeanour of the natives calculated to create suspicion, with
the single exception of the systematic manner in which their party
was strengthened during our route from the schooner to the village.

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 19 ~~~


THE chief was as good as his word, and we were soon plentifully
supplied with fresh provisions. We found the tortoises as fine as
we had ever seen, and the ducks surpassed our best species of wild
fowl, being exceedingly tender, juicy, and well-flavoured. Besides
these, the savages brought us, upon our making them comprehend our
wishes, a vast quantity of brown celery and scurvy grass, with a
canoe-load of fresh fish and some dried. The celery was a treat
indeed, and the scurvy grass proved of incalculable benefit in
restoring those of our men who had shown symptoms of disease. In a
very short time we had not a single person on the sick-list. We had
also plenty of other kinds of fresh provisions, among which may be
mentioned a species of shellfish resembling the mussel in shape, but
with the taste of an oyster. Shrimps, too, and prawns were abundant,
and albatross and other birds' eggs with dark shells. We took in,
too, a plentiful stock of the flesh of the hog which I have mentioned
before. Most of the men found it a palatable food, but I thought it
fishy and otherwise disagreeable. In return for these good things we
presented the natives with blue beads, brass trinkets, nails, knives,
and pieces of red cloth, they being fully delighted in the exchange.
We established a regular market on shore, just under the guns of the
schooner, where our barterings were carried on with every appearance
of good faith, and a degree of order which their conduct at the
village of _Klock-klock_ had not led us to expect from the savages.

Matters went on thus very amicably for several days, during which
parties of the natives were frequently on board the schooner, and
parties of our men frequently on shore, making long excursions into
the interior, and receiving no molestation whatever. Finding the ease
with which the vessel might be loaded with _biche de mer_, owing to
the friendly disposition of the islanders, and the readiness with
which they would render us assistance in collecting it, Captain Guy
resolved to enter into negotiations with Too-wit for the erection of
suitable houses in which to cure the article, and for the services of
himself and tribe in gathering as much as possible, while he himself
took advantage of the fine weather to prosecute his voyage to the
southward. Upon mentioning this project to the chief he seemed very
willing to enter into an agreement. A bargain was accordingly struck,
perfectly satisfactory to both parties, by which it was arranged
that, after making the necessary preparations, such as laying off the
proper grounds, erecting a portion of the buildings, and doing some
other work in which the whole of our crew would be required, the
schooner should proceed on her route, leaving three of her men on the
island to superintend the fulfilment of the project, and instruct the
natives in drying the _biche de mer_. In regard to terms, these were
made to depend upon the exertions of the savages in our absence. They
were to receive a stipulated quantity of blue beads, knives, red
cloth, and so forth, for every certain number of piculs of the _biche
de mer_ which should be ready on our return.

A description of the nature of this important article of
commerce, and the method of preparing it, may prove of some interest
to my readers, and I can find no more suitable place than this for
introducing an account of it. The following comprehensive notice of
the substance is taken from a modern history of a voyage to the South

"It is that _mollusca_ from the Indian Seas which is known to
commerce by the French name _bouche de mer_ (a nice morsel from the
sea). If I am not much mistaken, the celebrated Cuvier calls it
_gasteropeda pulmonifera_. It is abundantly gathered in the coasts of
the Pacific islands, and gathered especially for the Chinese market,
where it commands a great price, perhaps as much as their
much-talked-of edible birds' nests, which are properly made up of the
gelatinous matter picked up by a species of swallow from the body of
these molluscae. They have no shell, no legs, nor any prominent part,
except an _absorbing_ and an _excretory_, opposite organs; but, by
their elastic wings, like caterpillars or worms, they creep in
shallow waters, in which, when low, they can be seen by a kind of
swallow, the sharp bill of which, inserted in the soft animal, draws
a gummy and filamentous substance, which, by drying, can be wrought
into the solid walls of their nest. Hence the name of _gasteropeda

"This mollusca is oblong, and of different sizes, from three to
eighteen inches in length; and I have seen a few that were not less
than two feet long. They were nearly round, a little flattish on one
side, which lies next to the bottom of the sea; and they are from one
to eight inches thick. They crawl up into shallow water at particular
seasons of the year, probably for the purpose of gendering, as we
often find them in pairs. It is when the sun has the most power on
the water, rendering it tepid, that they approach the shore; and they
often go up into places so shallow that, on the tide's receding, they
are left dry, exposed to the beat of the sun. But they do not bring
forth their young in shallow water, as we never see any of their
progeny, and full-grown ones are always observed coming in from deep
water. They feed principally on that class of zoophytes which produce
the coral.

"The _biche de mer_ is generally taken in three or four feet of
water; after which they are brought on shore, and split at one end
with a knife, the incision being one inch or more, according to the
size of the mollusca. Through this opening the entrails are forced
out by pressure, and they are much like those of any other small
tenant of the deep. The article is then washed, and afterward boiled
to a certain degree, which must not be too much or too little. They
are then buried in the ground for four hours, then boiled again for a
short time, after which they are dried, either by the fire or the
sun. Those cured by the sun are worth the most; but where one picul
(133 1/3 lbs.) can be cured that way, I can cure thirty piculs by the
fire. When once properly cured, they can be kept in a dry place for
two or three years without any risk; but they should be examined once
in every few months, say four times a year, to see if any dampness is
likely to affect them.

"The Chinese, as before stated, consider _biche de mer_ a very
great luxury, believing that it wonderfully strengthens and nourishes
the system, and renews the exhausted system of the immoderate
voluptuary. The first quality commands a high price in Canton, being
worth ninety dollars a picul; the second quality, seventy-five
dollars; the third, fifty dollars; the fourth, thirty dollars; the
fifth, twenty dollars; the sixth, twelve dollars; the seventh, eight
dollars; and the eighth, four dollars; small cargoes, however, will
often bring more in Manilla, Singapore, and Batavia."

An agreement having been thus entered into, we proceeded
immediately to land everything necessary for preparing the buildings
and clearing the ground. A large flat space near the eastern shore of
the bay was selected, where there was plenty of both wood and water,
and within a convenient distance of the principal reefs on which the
_biche de mer_ was to be procured. We now all set to work in good
earnest, and soon, to the great astonishment of the savages, had
felled a sufficient number of trees for our purpose, getting them
quickly in order for the framework of the houses, which in two or
three days were so far under way that we could safely trust the rest
of the work to the three men whom we intended to leave behind. These
were John Carson, Alfred Harris, and ___ Peterson (all natives of
London, I believe), who volunteered their services in this respect.

By the last of the month we had everything in readiness for
departure. We had agreed, however, to pay a formal visit of
leave-taking to the village, and Too-wit insisted so pertinaciously
upon our keeping the promise that we did not think it advisable to
run the risk of offending him by a final refusal. I believe that not
one of us had at this time the slightest suspicion of the good faith
of the savages. They had uniformly behaved with the greatest decorum,
aiding us with alacrity in our work, offering us their commodities,
frequently without price, and never, in any instance, pilfering a
single article, although the high value they set upon the goods we
had with us was evident by the extravagant demonstrations of joy
always manifested upon our making them a present. The women
especially were most obliging in every respect, and, upon the whole,
we should have been the most suspicious of human beings had we
entertained a single thought of perfidy on the part of a people who
treated us so well. A very short while sufficed to prove that this
apparent kindness of disposition was only the result of a deeply laid
plan for our destruction, and that the islanders for whom we
entertained such inordinate feelings of esteem, were among the most
barbarous, subtle, and bloodthirsty wretches that ever contaminated
the face of the globe.

It was on the first of February that we went on shore for the
purpose of visiting the village. Although, as said before, we
entertained not the slightest suspicion, still no proper precaution
was neglected. Six men were left in the schooner, with instructions
to permit none of the savages to approach the vessel during our
absence, under any pretence whatever, and to remain constantly on
deck. The boarding-nettings were up, the guns double-shotted with
grape and canister, and the swivels loaded with canisters of
musket-balls. She lay, with her anchor apeak, about a mile from the
shore, and no canoe could approach her in any direction without being
distinctly seen and exposed to the full fire of our swivels

The six men being left on board, our shore-party consisted of
thirty-two persons in all. We were armed to the teeth, having with
us muskets, pistols, and cutlasses; besides, each had a long kind of
seaman's knife, somewhat resembling the bowie knife now so much used
throughout our western and southern country. A hundred of the black
skin warriors met us at the landing for the purpose of accompanying
us on our way. We noticed, however, with some surprise, that they
were now entirely without arms; and, upon questioning Too-wit in
relation to this circumstance, he merely answered that _Mattee non we
pa pa si_ -- meaning that there was no need of arms where all were
brothers. We took this in good part, and proceeded.

We had passed the spring and rivulet of which I before spoke, and
were now entering upon a narrow gorge leading through the chain of
soapstone hills among which the village was situated. This gorge was
very rocky and uneven, so much so that it was with no little
difficulty we scrambled through it on our first visit to Klock-klock.
The whole length of the ravine might have been a mile and a half, or
probably two miles. It wound in every possible direction through the
hills (having apparently formed, at some remote period, the bed of a
torrent), in no instance proceeding more than twenty yards without an
abrupt turn. The sides of this dell would have averaged, I am sure,
seventy or eighty feet in perpendicular altitude throughout the whole
of their extent, and in some portions they arose to an astonishing
height, overshadowing the pass so completely that but little of the
light of day could penetrate. The general width was about forty feet,
and occasionally it diminished so as not to allow the passage of more
than five or six persons abreast. In short, there could be no place
in the world better adapted for the consummation of an ambuscade, and
it was no more than natural that we should look carefully to our arms
as we entered upon it. When I now think of our egregious folly, the
chief subject of astonishment seems to be, that we should have ever
ventured, under any circumstances, so completely into the power of
unknown savages as to permit them to march both before and behind us
in our progress through this ravine. Yet such was the order we
blindly took up, trusting foolishly to the force of our party, the
unarmed condition of Too-wit and his men, the certain efficacy of our
firearms (whose effect was yet a secret to the natives), and, more
than all, to the long-sustained pretension of friendship kept up by
these infamous wretches. Five or six of them went on before, as if to
lead the way, ostentatiously busying themselves in removing the
larger stones and rubbish from the path. Next came our own party. We
walked closely together, taking care only to prevent separation.
Behind followed the main body of the savages, observing unusual order
and decorum.

Dirk Peters, a man named Wilson Allen, and myself were on the
right of our companions, examining, as we went along, the singular
stratification of the precipice which overhung us. A fissure in the
soft rock attracted our attention. It was about wide enough for one
person to enter without squeezing, and extended back into the hill
some eighteen or twenty feet in a straight course, sloping afterward
to the left. The height of the opening, is far as we could see into
it from the main gorge, was perhaps sixty or seventy feet. There were
one or two stunted shrubs growing from the crevices, bearing a
species of filbert which I felt some curiosity to examine, and pushed
in briskly for that purpose, gathering five or six of the nuts at a
grasp, and then hastily retreating. As I turned, I found that Peters
and Allen had followed me. I desired them to go back, as there was
not room for two persons to pass, saying they should have some of my
nuts. They accordingly turned, and were scrambling back, Allen being
close to the mouth of the fissure, when I was suddenly aware of a
concussion resembling nothing I had ever before experienced, and
which impressed me with a vague conception, if indeed I then thought
of anything, that the whole foundations of the solid globe were
suddenly rent asunder, and that the day of universal dissolution was
at hand.

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 20 ~~~


AS soon as I could collect my scattered senses, I found myself
nearly suffocated, and grovelling in utter darkness among a quantity
of loose earth, which was also falling upon me heavily in every
direction, threatening to bury me entirely. Horribly alarmed at this
idea, I struggled to gain my feet, and at last succeeded. I then
remained motionless for some moments, endeavouring to conceive what
had happened to me, and where I was. Presently I heard a deep groan
just at my ear, and afterward the smothered voice of Peters calling
to me for aid in the name of God. I scrambled one or two paces
forward, when I fell directly over the head and shoulders of my
companion, who, I soon discovered, was buried in a loose mass of
earth as far as his middle, and struggling desperately to free
himself from the pressure. I tore the dirt from around him with all
the energy I could command, and at length succeeded in getting him

As soon as we sufficiently recovered from our fright and surprise
to be capable of conversing rationally, we both came to the
conclusion that the walls of the fissure in which we had ventured
had, by some convulsion of nature, or probably from their own weight,
caved in overhead, and that we were consequently lost for ever, being
thus entombed alive. For a long time we gave up supinely to the most
intense agony and despair, such as cannot be adequately imagined by
those who have never been in a similar position. I firmly believed
that no incident ever occurring in the course of human events is more
adapted to inspire the supremeness of mental and bodily distress than
a case like our own, of living inhumation. The blackness of darkness
which envelops the victim, the terrific oppression of lungs, the
stifling fumes from the damp earth, unite with the ghastly
considerations that we are beyond the remotest confines of hope, and
that such is the allotted portion of the dead, to carry into the
human heart a degree of appalling awe and horror not to be tolerated-
never to be conceived.

At length Peters proposed that we should endeavour to ascertain
precisely the extent of our calamity, and grope about our prison; it
being barely possible, he observed, that some opening might yet be
left us for escape. I caught eagerly at this hope, and, arousing
myself to exertion, attempted to force my way through the loose
earth. Hardly had I advanced a single step before a glimmer of light
became perceptible, enough to convince me that, at all events, we
should not immediately perish for want of air. We now took some
degree of heart, and encouraged each other to hope for the best.
Having scrambled over a bank of rubbish which impeded our farther
progress in the direction of the light, we found less difficulty in
advancing and also experienced some relief from the excessive
oppression of lungs which had tormented us. Presently we were enabled
to obtain a glimpse of the objects around, and discovered that we
were near the extremity of the straight portion of the fissure, where
it made a turn to the left. A few struggles more, and we reached the
bend, when to our inexpressible joy, there appeared a long seam or
crack extending upward a vast distance, generally at an angle of
about forty-five degrees, although sometimes much more precipitous.
We could not see through the whole extent of this opening; but, as a
good deal of light came down it, we had little doubt of finding at
the top of it (if we could by any means reach the top) a clear
passage into the open air.

I now called to mind that three of us had entered the fissure
from the main gorge, and that our companion, Allen, was still
missing; we determined at once to retrace our steps and look for him.
After a long search, and much danger from the farther caving in of
the earth above us, Peters at length cried out to me that he had hold
of our companion's foot, and that his whole body was deeply buried
beneath the rubbish beyond the possibility of extricating him. I soon
found that what he said was too true, and that, of course, life had
been long extinct. With sorrowful hearts, therefore, we left the
corpse to its fate, and again made our way to the bend.

The breadth of the seam was barely sufficient to admit us, and,
after one or two ineffectual efforts at getting up, we began once
more to despair. I have before said that the chain of hills through
which ran the main gorge was composed of a species of soft rock
resembling soapstone. The sides of the cleft we were now attempting
to ascend were of the same material, and so excessively slippery,
being wet, that we could get but little foothold upon them even in
their least precipitous parts; in some places, where the ascent was
nearly perpendicular, the difficulty was, of course, much aggravated;
and, indeed, for some time we thought insurmountable. We took
courage, however, from despair, and what, by dint of cutting steps in
the soft stone with our bowie knives, and swinging at the risk of our
lives, to small projecting points of a harder species of slaty rock
which now and then protruded from the general mass, we at length
reached a natural platform, from which was perceptible a patch of
blue sky, at the extremity of a thickly-wooded ravine. Looking back
now, with somewhat more leisure, at the passage through which we had
thus far proceeded, we clearly saw from the appearance of its sides,
that it was of late formation, and we concluded that the concussion,
whatever it was, which had so unexpectedly overwhelmed us, had also,
at the same moment, laid open this path for escape. Being quite
exhausted with exertion, and indeed, so weak that we were scarcely
able to stand or articulate, Peters now proposed that we should
endeavour to bring our companions to the rescue by firing the pistols
which still remained in our girdles- the muskets as well as cutlasses
had been lost among the loose earth at the bottom of the chasm.
Subsequent events proved that, had we fired, we should have sorely
repented it, but luckily a half suspicion of foul play had by this
time arisen in my mind, and we forbore to let the savages know of our

After having reposed for about an hour, we pushed on slowly up
the ravine, and had gone no great way before we heard a succession of
tremendous yells. At length we reached what might be called the
surface of the ground; for our path hitherto, since leaving the
platform, had lain beneath an archway of high rock and foliage, at a
vast distance overhead. With great caution we stole to a narrow
opening, through which we had a clear sight of the surrounding
country, when the whole dreadful secret of the concussion broke upon
us in one moment and at one view.

The spot from which we looked was not far from the summit of the
highest peak in the range of the soapstone hills. The gorge in which
our party of thirty-two had entered ran within fifty feet to the left
of us. But, for at least one hundred yards, the channel or bed of
this gorge was entirely filled up with the chaotic ruins of more than
a million tons of earth and stone that had been artificially tumbled
within it. The means by which the vast mass had been precipitated
were not more simple than evident, for sure traces of the murderous
work were yet remaining. In several spots along the top of the
eastern side of the gorge (we were now on the western) might be seen
stakes of wood driven into the earth. In these spots the earth had
not given way, but throughout the whole extent of the face of the
precipice from which the mass had fallen, it was clear, from marks
left in the soil resembling those made by the drill of the rock
blaster, that stakes similar to those we saw standing had been
inserted, at not more than a yard apart, for the length of perhaps
three hundred feet, and ranging at about ten feet back from the edge
of the gulf. Strong cords of grape vine were attached to the stakes
still remaining on the hill, and it was evident that such cords had
also been attached to each of the other stakes. I have already spoken
of the singular stratification of these soapstone hills; and the
description just given of the narrow and deep fissure through which
we effected our escape from inhumation will afford a further
conception of its nature. This was such that almost every natural
convulsion would be sure to split the soil into perpendicular layers
or ridges running parallel with one another, and a very moderate
exertion of art would be sufficient for effecting the same purpose.
Of this stratification the savages had availed themselves to
accomplish their treacherous ends. There can be no doubt that, by the
continuous line of stakes, a partial rupture of the soil had been
brought about probably to the depth of one or two feet, when by means
of a savage pulling at the end of each of the cords (these cords
being attached to the tops of the stakes, and extending back from the
edge of the cliff), a vast leverage power was obtained, capable of
hurling the whole face of the hill, upon a given signal, into the
bosom of the abyss below. The fate of our poor companions was no
longer a matter of uncertainty. We alone had escaped from the tempest
of that overwhelming destruction. We were the only living white men
upon the island.

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 21 ~~~


OUR situation, as it now appeared, was scarcely less dreadful
than when we had conceived ourselves entombed forever. We saw before
us no prospect but that of being put to death by the savages, or of
dragging out a miserable existence in captivity among them. We might,
to be sure, conceal ourselves for a time from their observation among
the fastnesses of the hills, and, as a final resort, in the chasm
from which we had just issued; but we must either perish in the long
polar winter through cold and famine, or be ultimately discovered in
our efforts to obtain relief.

The whole country around us seemed to be swarming with savages,
crowds of whom, we now perceived, had come over from the islands to
the southward on flat rafts, doubtless with a view of lending their
aid in the capture and plunder of the Jane. The vessel still lay
calmly at anchor in the bay, those on board being apparently quite
unconscious of any danger awaiting them. How we longed at that moment
to be with them! either to aid in effecting their escape, or to
perish with them in attempting a defence. We saw no chance even of
warning them of their danger without bringing immediate destruction
upon our own heads, with but a remote hope of benefit to them. A
pistol fired might suffice to apprise them that something wrong had
occurred; but the report could not possibly inform them that their
only prospect of safety lay in getting out of the harbour forthwith--
it could not tell them that no principles of honour now bound them
to remain, that their companions were no longer among the living.
Upon hearing the discharge they could not be more thoroughly prepared
to meet the foe, who were now getting ready to attack, than they
already were, and always had been. No good, therefore, and infinite
harm, would result from our firing, and after mature deliberation,
we forbore.

Our next thought was to attempt to rush toward the vessel, to
seize one of the four canoes which lay at the head of the bay, and
endeavour to force a passage on board. But the utter impossibility of
succeeding in this desperate task soon became evident. The country,
as I said before, was literally swarming with the natives, skulking
among the bushes and recesses of the hills, so as not to be observed
from the schooner. In our immediate vicinity especially, and
blockading the sole path by which we could hope to attain the shore
at the proper point were stationed the whole party of the black skin
warriors, with Too-wit at their head, and apparently only waiting for
some re-enforcement to commence his onset upon the Jane. The canoes,
too, which lay at the head of the bay, were manned with savages,
unarmed, it is true, but who undoubtedly had arms within reach. We
were forced, therefore, however unwillingly, to remain in our place
of concealment, mere spectators of the conflict which presently

In about half an hour we saw some sixty or seventy rafts, or
flatboats, without riggers, filled with savages, and coming round the
southern bight of the harbor. They appeared to have no arms except
short clubs, and stones which lay in the bottom of the rafts.
Immediately afterward another detachment, still larger, appeared in
an opposite direction, and with similar weapons. The four canoes,
too, were now quickly filled with natives, starting up from the
bushes at the head of the bay, and put off swiftly to join the other
parties. Thus, in less time than I have taken to tell it, and as if
by magic, the Jane saw herself surrounded by an immense multitude of
desperadoes evidently bent upon capturing her at all hazards.

That they would succeed in so doing could not be doubted for an
instant. The six men left in the vessel, however resolutely they
might engage in her defence, were altogether unequal to the proper
management of the guns, or in any manner to sustain a contest at such
odds. I could hardly imagine that they would make resistance at all,
but in this was deceived; for presently I saw them get springs upon
the cable, and bring the vessel's starboard broadside to bear upon
the canoes, which by this time were within pistol range, the rafts
being nearly a quarter of a mile to windward. Owing to some cause
unknown, but most probably to the agitation of our poor friends at
seeing themselves in so hopeless a situation, the discharge was an
entire failure. Not a canoe was hit or a single savage injured, the
shots striking short and ricocheting over their heads. The only
effect produced upon them was astonishment at the unexpected report
and smoke, which was so excessive that for some moments I almost
thought they would abandon their design entirely, and return to the
shore. And this they would most likely have done had our men followed
up their broadside by a discharge of small arms, in which, as the
canoes were now so near at hand, they could not have failed in doing
some execution, sufficient, at least, to deter this party from a
farther advance, until they could have given the rafts also a
broadside. But, in place of this, they left the canoe party to
recover from their panic, and, by looking about them, to see that no
injury had been sustained, while they flew to the larboard to get
ready for the rafts.

The discharge to larboard produced the most terrible effect. The
star and double-headed shot of the large guns cut seven or eight of
the rafts completely asunder, and killed, perhaps, thirty or forty of
the savages outright, while a hundred of them, at least, were thrown
into the water, the most of them dreadfully wounded. The remainder,
frightened out of their senses, commenced at once a precipitate
retreat, not even waiting to pick up their maimed companions, who
were swimming about in every direction, screaming and yelling for
aid. This great success, however, came too late for the salvation of
our devoted people. The canoe party were already on board the
schooner to the number of more than a hundred and fifty, the most of
them having succeeded in scrambling up the chains and over the
boarding-netting even before the matches had been applied to the
larboard guns. Nothing now could withstand their brute rage. Our men
were borne down at once, overwhelmed, trodden under foot, and
absolutely torn to pieces in an instant.

Seeing this, the savages on the rafts got the better of their
fears, and came up in shoals to the plunder. In five minutes the Jane
was a pitiable scene indeed of havoc and tumultuous outrage. The
decks were split open and ripped up; the cordage, sails, and
everything movable on deck demolished as if by magic, while, by dint
of pushing at the stern, towing with the canoes, and hauling at the
sides, as they swam in thousands around the vessel, the wretches
finally forced her on shore (the cable having been slipped), and
delivered her over to the good offices of Too-wit, who, during the
whole of the engagement, had maintained, like a skilful general, his
post of security and reconnaissance among the hills, but, now that
the victory was completed to his satisfaction, condescended to
scamper down with his warriors of the black skin, and become a
partaker in the spoils.

Too-wit's descent left us at liberty to quit our hiding place
and reconnoitre the hill in the vicinity of the chasm. At about fifty
yards from the mouth of it we saw a small spring of water, at which
we slaked the burning thirst that now consumed us. Not far from the
spring we discovered several of the filbert-bushes which I mentioned
before. Upon tasting the nuts we found them palatable, and very
nearly resembling in flavour the common English filbert. We collected
our hats full immediately, deposited them within the ravine, and
returned for more. While we were busily employed in gathering these,
a rustling in the bushes alarmed us, and we were upon the point of
stealing back to our covert, when a large black bird of the bittern
species strugglingly and slowly arose above the shrubs. I was so much
startled that I could do nothing, but Peters had sufficient presence
of mind to run up to it before it could make its escape, and seize it
by the neck. Its struggles and screams were tremendous, and we had
thoughts of letting it go, lest the noise should alarm some of the
savages who might be still lurking in the neighbourhood. A stab with
a bowie knife, however, at length brought it to the ground, and we
dragged it into the ravine, congratulating ourselves that, at all
events, we had thus obtained a supply of food enough to last us for a

We now went out again to look about us, and ventured a
considerable distance down the southern declivity of the hill, but
met with nothing else which could serve us for food. We therefore
collected a quantity of dry wood and returned, seeing one or two
large parties of the natives on their way to the village, laden with
the plunder of the vessel, and who, we were apprehensive, might
discover us in passing beneath the hill.

Our next care was to render our place of concealment as secure
as possible, and with this object, we arranged some brushwood over
the aperture which I have before spoken of as the one through which
we saw the patch of blue sky, on reaching the platform from the
interior of the chasm. We left only a very small opening just wide
enough to admit of our seeing the, bay, without the risk of being
discovered from below. Having done this, we congratulated ourselves
upon the security of the position; for we were now completely
excluded from observation, as long as we chose to remain within the
ravine itself, and not venture out upon the hill, We could perceive
no traces of the savages having ever been within this hollow; but,
indeed, when we came to reflect upon the probability that the fissure
through which we attained it had been only just now created by the
fall of the cliff opposite, and that no other way of attaining it
could be perceived, we were not so much rejoiced at the thought of
being secure from molestation as fearful lest there should be
absolutely no means left us for descent. We resolved to explore the
summit of the hill thoroughly, when a good opportunity should offer.
In the meantime we watched the motions of the savages through our

They had already made a complete wreck of the vessel, and were
now preparing to set her on fire. In a little while we saw the smoke
ascending in huge volumes from her main hatchway, and, shortly
afterward, a dense mass of flame burst up from the forecastle. The
rigging, masts and what remained of the sails caught immediately, and
the fire spread rapidly along the decks. Still a great many of the
savages retained their stations about her, hammering with large
stones, axes, and cannon balls at the bolts and other iron and copper
work. On the beach, and in canoes and rafts, there were not less,
altogether, in the immediate vicinity of the schooner, than ten
thousand natives, besides the shoals of them who, laden with booty,
were making their way inland and over to the neighbouring islands. We
now anticipated a catastrophe, and were not disappointed. First of
all there came a smart shock (which we felt as distinctly where we
were as if we had been slightly galvanized), but unattended with any
visible signs of an explosion. The savages were evidently startled,
and paused for an instant from their labours and yellings. They were
upon the point of recommencing, when suddenly a mass of smoke puffed
up from the decks, resembling a black and heavy thundercloud- then,
as if from its bowels, arose a tall stream of vivid fire to the
height, apparently, of a quarter of a mile- then there came a sudden
circular expansion of the flame- then the whole atmosphere was
magically crowded, in a single instant, with a wild chaos of wood,
and metal, and human limbs-and, lastly, came the concussion in its
fullest fury, which hurled us impetuously from our feet, while the
hills echoed and re-echoed the tumult, and a dense shower of the
minutest fragments of the ruins tumbled headlong in every direction
around us.

The havoc among the savages far exceeded our utmost expectation,
and they had now, indeed, reaped the full and perfect fruits of their
treachery. Perhaps a thousand perished by the explosion, while at
least an equal number were desperately mangled. The whole surface of
the bay was literally strewn with the struggling and drowning
wretches, and on shore matters were even worse. They seemed utterly
appalled by the suddenness and completeness of their discomfiture,
and made no efforts at assisting one another. At length we observed a
total change in their demeanour. From absolute stupor, they appeared
to be, all at once, aroused to the highest pitch of excitement, and
rushed wildly about, going to and from a certain point on the beach,
with the strangest expressions of mingled horror, rage, and intense
curiosity depicted on their countenances, and shouting, at the top of
their voices, "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"

Presently we saw a large body go off into the hills, whence they
returned in a short time, carrying stakes of wood. These they brought
to the station where the crowd was the thickest, which now separated
so as to afford us a view of the object of all this excitement. We
perceived something white lying upon the ground, but could not
immediately make out what it was. At length we saw that it was the
carcass of the strange animal with the scarlet teeth and claws which
the schooner had picked up at sea on the eighteenth of January.
Captain Guy had had the body preserved for the purpose of stuffing
the skin and taking it to England. I remember he had given some
directions about it just before our making the island, and it had
been brought into the cabin and stowed away in one of the lockers. It
had now been thrown on shore by the explosion; but why it had
occasioned so much concern among the savages was more than we could
comprehend. Although they crowded around the carcass at a little
distance, none of them seemed willing to approach it closely.
By-and-by the men with the stakes drove them in a circle around it,
and no sooner was this arrangement completed, than the whole of the
vast assemblage rushed into the interior of the island, with loud
screams of "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"

~~~ End of Text of Chapter 22 ~~~


DURING the six or seven days immediately following we remained
in our hiding-place upon the hill, going out only occasionally, and
then with the greatest precaution, for water and filberts. We had
made a kind of penthouse on the platform, furnishing it with a bed of
dry leaves, and placing in it three large flat stones, which served
us for both fireplace and table. We kindled a fire without difficulty
by rubbing two pieces of dry wood together, the one soft, the other
hard. The bird we had taken in such good season proved excellent
eating, although somewhat tough. It was not an oceanic fowl, but a
species of bittern, with jet black and grizzly plumage, and
diminutive wings in proportion to its bulk. We afterward saw three of
the same kind in the vicinity of the ravine, apparently seeking for
the one we had captured; but, as they never alighted, we had no
opportunity of catching them.

As long as this fowl lasted we suffered nothing from our
situation, but it was now entirely consumed, and it became absolutely
necessary that we should look out for provision. The filberts would
not satisfy the cravings of hunger, afflicting us, too, with severe
gripings of the bowels, and, if freely indulged in, with violent
headache. We had seen several large tortoises near the seashore to
the eastward of the hill, and perceived they might be easily taken,
if we could get at them without the observation of the natives. It
was resolved, therefore, to make an attempt at descending.

We commenced by going down the southern declivity, which seemed
to offer the fewest difficulties, but had not proceeded a hundred
yards before (as we had anticipated from appearances on the hilltop)
our progress was entirely arrested by a branch of the gorge in which
our companions had perished. We now passed along the edge of this for
about a quarter of a mile, when we were again stopped by a precipice
of immense depth, and, not being able to make our way along the brink
of it, we were forced to retrace our steps by the main ravine.

We now pushed over to the eastward, but with precisely similar
fortune. After an hour's scramble, at the risk of breaking our necks,
we discovered that we had merely descended into a vast pit of black
granite, with fine dust at the bottom, and whence the only egress was
by the rugged path in which we had come down. Toiling again up this
path, we now tried the northern edge of the hill. Here we were
obliged to use the greatest possible caution in our maneuvers, as the
least indiscretion would expose us to the full view of the savages in
the village. We crawled along, therefore, on our hands and knees,
and, occasionally, were even forced to throw ourselves at full
length, dragging our bodies along by means of the shrubbery. In this
careful manner we had proceeded but a little way, when we arrived at
a chasm far deeper than any we had yet seen, and leading directly
into the main gorge. Thus our fears were fully confirmed, and we
found ourselves cut off entirely from access to the world below.
Thoroughly exhausted by our exertions, we made the best of our way
back to the platform, and throwing ourselves upon the bed of leaves,
slept sweetly and soundly for some hours.

For several days after this fruitless search we were occupied in
exploring every part of the summit of the hill, in order to inform
ourselves of its actual resources. We found that it would afford us
no food, with the exception of the unwholesome filberts, and a rank
species of scurvy grass, which grew in a little patch of not more
than four rods square, and would be soon exhausted. On the fifteenth
of February, as near as I can remember, there was not a blade of this
left, and the nuts were growing scarce; our situation, therefore,
could hardly be more lamentable. {*5} On the sixteenth we again went
round the walls of our prison, in hope of finding some avenue of
escape; but to no purpose. We also descended the chasm in which we
had been overwhelmed, with the faint expectation of discovering,
through this channel, some opening to the main ravine. Here, too, we
were disappointed, although we found and brought up with us a musket.

On the seventeenth we set out with the determination of examining
more thoroughly the chasm of black granite into which we had made our
way in the first search. We remembered that one of the fissures in
the sides of this pit had been but partially looked into, and we were
anxious to explore it, although with no expectation of discovering
here any opening.

We found no great difficulty in reaching the bottom of the hollow
as before, and were now sufficiently calm to survey it with some
attention. It was, indeed, one of the most singular-looking places
imaginable, and we could scarcely bring ourselves to believe it
altogether the work of nature. The pit, from its eastern to its
western extremity, was about five hundred yards in length, when all
its windings were threaded; the distance from east to west in a
straight line not being more (I should suppose, having no means of
accurate examination) than forty or fifty yards. Upon first
descending into the chasm, that is to say, for a hundred feet


Back to Full Books