Page images

noon the schooner got within gun-shot, hoisted French colours, and opened her fire ; which was immediately returned from the chase-guns of the Windsor-Castle. This was continued until the privateer came near, when she hailed the packet in very opprobrious terms, and desired her to strike her colours. On meeting a prompt refusal, the schooner ran alongside, grappled the packet, and attempted to board. In this the Frenchmen were unexpectedly defeated by the pikes of the packet's crew, and sastained a loss of eight or ten in killed and wounded. The privateer now endeavoured to cut away the grapplings and get clear; but the packet's main yard, being locked in the schooner's rigging, held her fast.

Great exertions continued to be made on both sides; and captain Rogers erinced considerable judgment and real in ordering part of his men to shift the mails as circumstances required, or to cut them away in case the privateer should succeed in the conflict. At about 3 P. M. one of the packet's guns, a 9-pounder carronade, loaded with double grape, canister, and 100 musket-balls, was brought to bear upon the privateer, and was discharged, with dreadful effect, at the moment the latter was making a second attempt to board. Soon after this, captain Rogers, followed by five men of his little crew, leaped upon the schooner's decks, and, notwithstanding the apparently overwhelming odds against him, succeeded in driving the privateer's men from their quarters, and ultimately in capturing the vessel.

The Windsor-Castle mounted six long 4-pounders and two 9-pounder carronades, with a complement of 28 men and boys; of whom she had three killed and 10 severely wounded : her main yard and mizenmast were carried away, and her rigging, fore and aft, greatly damaged. The captured schooner was the Jeune-Richard, mounting six long 6-pounders and one long 18-pounder on a traversing carriage, with a complement, at the commencement of the action, of 92 men; of whom 21 were found dead on her decks, and 33 wounded.

From the very superior number of the privateer's crew still remaining, great precaution was necessary in securing the prisoners. They were accordingly ordered up from below, one by one, and were placed in their own irons successively as they came up. Any attempt at a rescue being thus effectually guarded against, the packet proceeded, with her prize, to the port of her destination ; which, fortunately for the former, was not very far distant.

This achievement reflects the highest honour upon every officer, man, and boy, that was on board the Windsor-Castle ; and, in particular, the heroic valour of her commander, so decisive of the business, ranks above all praise. Had captain Rogers stayed to calculate the chances that were against him, the probability is, that the privateer would have ultimately succeeded in capturing the packet ; whose light carronades could have offered very little resistance at the usual distance at which vessels engage ; and whose very small crew, without such a coup de main, ay, and without such a leader, could never have brought the combat to a favourable issue.

There are many interesting passages and topics in the remaining volumes, which we still wish to bring before our readers. As, however, in the present Number we can give no more room to the subject, we shall return to it shortly.


The spirit of adventure, the love of distant enterprize, the thirst of strange sights, and the contempt of hardship and danger, which distinguish the British mariner of the right breed, give also a kindred charm to the narrative of his proceedings. The pleasantest of books is the description of a voyage to unknown lands. The love of novelty,

Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia, performed between the years 1818 and 1822, by Captain Philip Parker King, R.N., F.R.S., F.L.S., and Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of London; with an Appendix, containing various subjects relating to Hydrography and Natural History, in two volumes ; illustrated by Plates, Charts, and Woodcuts. Murray, London. 1827.

which inspires the young Crusoo to roam, equally animates the reader of the fireside, with feet on fender, and baek reclining on red morocco; he is agitated by reefs, breakers, and a lee-shore, and discovers a leak with breathless fear; a fair wind sets his heart bounding with enjoyment, and a secure anchorage and good watering seem to lull him into a delicious repose. Uncouth natives and strange customs are examined with surprize and curiosity; and all the humour, as well as all the danger of communication between the barbarous savages on land, with their paint, nose-rings, nakedness, spears, clubs, and caprice; and the civilized savages of the ship, with their slang, fun, looking-glasses, ribbons, biscuits, hatchets, and nails, are both fully felt, understood, and enjoyed by the gentleman, who, in all this variety of sympathy, never wanders above three yards from his bell-rope. The moment we lay hold of a book of voyages, the most agreeable train of associations takes possession of us. Robinson Crusoe, of course, forms a warm back-ground, and then the Buccaneers, Dampier, Biron, and Cook, and many, many others, from Purchas and his Pilgrims, down to Parry and Lyon, crowd the gay and alluring picture. Captain King is one of the right kind—a true English naval officer : bold and cool; firm and mild ; dauntless in danger and ready in difficulty ; persevering, adventurous, generous, and, like all his brethren, pious. His book, too, though not exactly a book of discovery, is a survey of what was so imperfectly known, that it possesses all the charm of novelty. The service he was sent upon demanded scientific acquirements of a superior cast; moral qualities of a high order ; it was highly dangerous, very important, and very trying, both to health, temper, and talent. In all respects he seems to have acquitted himself well. We have read many works which have contained rarer and pleasanter matter, but none more uniformly sensible, unpretending, and to the point. His voyages possess a charm which more formal outfits do not possess ; a North Pole discovery ship is so carefully studied, arranged, and provided, that her very completeness and perfection detract somewhat from our interest in the accidents of her crew. Captain King was sent out alone; in Port Jackson he bought his vessel, such as it was, a cutter; he collected his crew himself, and sec out almost as independent, and nearly as ill-found, as a buccaneer of old.

A voyage of survey is, of course, less likely to abound in subjects of a popular interest than a voyage of discovery. The objects of scientific observers must lead them slowly over the ground; and the ascertaining the extent of a shoal, or the position of a rock, though a most anxious and useful employment, is a tedious affair in description. The chart which is covered with soundings is a scene of delight to the mariner, for it speaks to him of security and repose, but to the general eye we do not know a more barren or unpicturesque object. The coasts of Australia have been, however, so rarely visited, and still retain so much of the character of the former appendage to their name of incognita, that, though the labour of the surveyor is chiefly confined to the business of taking observations, which only end in numerals, still figures of a more curious kind are constantly flitting before his glass. It is true that Captain King's book is chiefly a book of business; it will be a most valued companion to all whose affairs lead them round the coasts of this vast continent, though to the voyager at home it does not afford all the amusement he might be led to expect; at the same time, so rich is Australia in all the productions of nature, and so remarkable is it for the character of its inhabitants, and so manifest are the indications of future greatness, wealth, and power, in its colonies and intended settlements, that it would be impossible for any man, much less the author of these volumes, to visit its shores without discovering numerous topics of interest. The future prospects of this country are so imposing, its present interests are so important to us, and the danger to all navigators on its coasts are so great, that we cannot be surprised that it should be an object with the admiralty and the colonial department to enlarge their knowledge concerning it. Doubtless an accurate nautical survey of the coasts was an object of the most direct and immediate utility; but were the views of official men a little more open to the advantages of general rescarch, a little more alive to the progress and advancement of the natural sciences, surely the expedition would not have been limited to a simple taking of bearings and soundings. One botanist, it is true, was joined with Captain King; every other branch of natural history was neglected, and that, too, in a country which revels in its abundance of zoological curiosities. Surely the expense would not have been very materially increased, and the service would not have been in the least impeded, had two or three other professors of natural science been added to the expedition. But when the benefit of a medical attendant was not allowed to Captain King for his long and arduous voyages, it is scarcely to be wondered at that zoology was neglected. The French, in their splendid equipment of M. de Freycinet's expedition, set a different and most laudable example. It should be remembered, that though we have flourishing colonies in this Australia, that it must be a very long time before these colonies can contribute to make the continent, in a nook of which they are settled, much better known. The space from the northern to its southern shore is twice the breadth of the continent that lies between the Baltic and the Mediterranean. Of the interior of this vast territory, nothing seems to be ascertained; and how little was accurately known of the coasts may be quickly seen by any one who will take the trouble to compare Captain King's chart with any former one. It is nearly three centuries since we became acquainted with the existence of the Great South Land, or Terra Australis Incognita, and until the last century very little had been done towards an accurate knowledge of its coasts. Dampier, in his celebrated Buccaneer's Voyages in 1688, visited the north-west coast, and gives a faithful and circumstantial account of Cygnet Bay. He afterwards visited the west and north-west coasts in his Majesty's ship Roebuck; and in his description of them, Captain King states that he has not only been very minute and particular, but, as far as he could judge, exceedingly correct. Within the last fifty years, Cook, Vancouver, Bligh, D'Entrecasteaur, Flinders, and Baudin, have gradually thrown a considerable light upon this extraordinary continent. The whole, however, of the north, north-west, and western shores remained to be explored. For this purpose, in 1817, Lieutenant King was sent to New South Wales. The governor had orders to procure him a vessel, which, after much delay and some vexation, was found and fitted up for the purpose ; and in December 1817 he left Port Jackson in the Mermaid cutter, eighty-four tops, with two mates, two young men to assist in the survey, a botanical collector, Mr. Allan Cunningham, and twelve seamen and five boys, making altogether a crew of eighteen. Three voyages were made in the cutter, after which she was found to be so much damaged, and se thoroughly out of repair, that a brig, the Bathurst, was purchased, and the fourth and last voyage performed in it.

After having given this general idea of the nature of the expedition, we shall certainly not attempt to follow the navigator in his different tracks about the continent, but confine ourselves merely to the anecdotes of popular interest to be found in the work. These almost entirely relate to the natives, the irredeemable savages of Australia, whom no kindness, no severity, no instruction can improve ; the wily, capricious, intemperate, and ill-natured fish-spearer of New Holland. Of all the attempts made by the crew of the Mermaid to establish communication with these savages, and they were most numerous, persevering, and indefatigable, only one succeeded. Anecdote after anecdote shows that these creatures are made of the most impracticable materials, and seems to verify the scale of humanity which has placed them at the very lowest link which connects the brute and the man. The anecdotes which we shall extract from the Survey will, altogether, form an instructive chapter in anthropology.

The first traces of natives the navigators meet with are some huts) The description of a New Hollander's palace shows that he is very little removed from the brute creation; a beaver makes a better house. In his grave the savage of Australia occupies more room than during his life.

Upon further search we found their encampment; it consisted of three or foar dwellings of a very different description from any that we had before, or bare since seen ; they were of a conical shape, not more than three feet high, and not larger than would conveniently contain one person ; they were built of sticks, stuck in the ground, and being united at the top, supported a roof of bark, which was again covered with sand, so that the hut looked more like a sand hillock than the abode of a human creature : the opening was at one side, and about eighteen inches in diameter; but even this could be reduced when they were inside, by heaping the sand up before it. In one of the huts were found several strips of bamboo, and some fishing-nets, rudely made of the fibres of the bark of trees.

The first interview with the natives ends in the loss of a theodolite.

The day being Sunday, our intention was, after taking bearings from the summit of Luxmore Head, to delay our further proceeding until the next morning, but the circumstance that occurred kept us so much on the alert, that it was any thing but a day of rest. Having landed at the foot of the hill we ascended its summit, but found it so thickly wooded as to deprive us of the view we had anticipated ; but, as there were some openings in the trees through which a few distant objects could be distinguished, we made preparations to take their bearings, and while the boat's crew were landing the theodolite, our party were amusing themselves on the top of the hill.

Suddenly however, but fortunately before we had dispersed, we were surprised by natives, who, coming forward armed with spears, obliged us very speedily to retreat to the boat; and in the sauve qui peut sort of way in which we ran down the hill, at which we have frequently since laughed very heartily, our theolodite stand and Mr. Cunningham's insect-net were left behind, wbich they instantly seized upon. I had fired my fowling-piece at an iguana just before the appearance of the natives, so that we were without any means of defence ; but, having reached the boat without accident, where we had our musquets ready, a parley was commenced for the purpose of recovering our losses. After exchanging a silk-handkerchief for a dead bird, which they threw into

The na

the water for us to pick up, we made signs that we wanted fresh water, upon which they directed us to go round the point, and upon our pulling in that direction, they followed us, skipping from rock to rock with surprising dexterity and speed. As soon as we reached the sandy beach, on the north side of Luxmure Head, they stopped and invited us to land, which we should have done, had it not been that the noises they made soon collected a large body of natives, who came running from all directions to their assistance; and, in a short time, there were twenty-eight or thirty patives assembled. After a short parley with them, in which they repeatedly asked for axes by imitating the action of chopping, we went on board, intimating to them our intention of returning with some, which we would give to them upon the resloration of the stand, which they immediately understood and assented to. tives had three dogs with them.

On our return to the beach, the natives had again assembled, and shouted loudly as we approached. Besides the whale-boat, in which Mr. Bedwell was stationed with an arıned party ready to fire is any hostility commenced, we had our jolly-hoat, in which I led the way with two men, and carried with me two tomahawks and some cbisels. On pulling near the beach the whole party came down and waded into the water towards us ; and, in exchange for a few chisels and files, gave us two baskets, one containing fresh water and the other was full of the fruit of the sago-palm, which grows here in great abundance. The basket containing the water was conveyed to us by letting it float on the sea, for their timidity would not let them approach us near enough to place it in our hands; but that containing the fruit, not being buoyant enough to swim, did not permit of this method, so that, after much difficulty, an old man was persuaded to deliver it. This was done in the most cautious manner, and as soon as he was sufficiently near the boat he dropped, or rather threw the basket into my hand, and immediately retreated to his companions, who applauded his feat by a loud shout of approbation. In exchange for this I offered him?:tomahawk, but his fears would not allow him to come near the boat to receive it. Finding nothing could induce the old man to approach us a second time, I threw it towards him, and upon his catching it the whole tribe began to shout and laugh in the most extravagant way. As soon as they were quiet we made signs for the theodolite stand, which, for a long while, they would not understand; at one time they pretended to think by our pointing towards it, that we meant some spears that were lying near a tree, which they immediately removed : the stand was then taken up by one of their women, and upon our pointing to her, they feigned to think that she was the object of our wishes, and immediately left a female standing up to her middle in the water, and retired to some distance to await our proceedings. On pulling towards the woman, who, by the way, could not have been selected by them either for her youth or beauty, she frequently repeated the words “ Ven aca, Ven aca,” accompanied with an invitation to land; but, as we approached, she retired towards the shore ; when suddenly two natives, who had slowly walked towards us, sprang into the water, and made towards the boat with surprising celerity, jumping at each step entirely out of the sea, although it was so deep as to reach their thighs. Their intention was evidently to seize the remaining tomahawk which I had been endeavouring to exchange for the stand, and the foremost had reached within two or three yards of the boat, when I found it necessary, in order to prevent his approach, to threaten to strike bim with a wooden club, which had the desired effect. At this moment one of the natives took up the stand, and upon our pointing at him, they appeared to comprehend our object; a consultation was held over ibe stand, which was minutely examined; but, as it was mounted with brass, and, perhaps, on that account, appeared to them more valuable than a tomahawk, they declined giving it up, and gradually dispersed: or, jather, pretended so to do, for a party of armed natives was observed to conceal themselves under some mangrove bushes near the beach, wbilst two canoes were plying about near at hand to entice our approach ; the stratagem, however, did not succeed, and we lay off upon our oars for some time without making any movement.

Soon afterwards the natives, finding that we had no intention of following them, left their canoes, and performed a dance in the water, which very conspicuously displayed their great muscular power : the dance consisted chiefly of the performers leaping two or three times successively out of the sea, and then violently moving their legs so as to agitate the water into foam for some dis

tance around them, all the time shouting loudly and laughing immoderately; then they would run through the water for eight or ten yards and perform again : and this was repeated over and over as long as the dance lasted. We were all thoroughly disgusted wita them, and felt a degree of distrust that could not be conquered. The men were more muscular and better formed than any we had before seen ; they were daubed ovor

« PreviousContinue »