VOYAGES ROUND THE WORLD, AND POLAR EXPEDITIONS
After a short stay at the Canary Islands, Kruzenstern hunted in vain, as La Pérouse had done before him, for the Island of Ascension, as to the existence of which opinion had been divided for some three hundred years. He then rounded Cape Frio, the position of which he was unable exactly to determine although he was most anxious to do so, the accounts of earlier travellers and the maps hitherto laid down varying from 23° 6' to 22° 34'. A reconnaissance of the coast of Brazil was succeeded by a sail through the passage between the islands of Gal and Alvaredo, unjustly characterized as dangerous by La Pérouse, and on the 21st December, 1803, St. Catherine was reached.
The necessity for replacing the main and mizzen masts of the Neva detained Kruzenstern for five weeks on this island, where he was most cordially received by the Portuguese authorities.
On the 4th February, the two vessels were able to resume their voyage, prepared to face all the dangers of the South Sea, and to double Cape Horn, that bugbear of all navigators. As far as Staten Island the weather was uniformly fine, but beyond it the explorers had to contend with extremely violent gales, storms of hail and snow, dense fogs, huge waves, and a swell in which the vessels laboured heavily. On the 24th March, the ships lost sight of each other in a dense fog a little above the western entrance to the Straits of Magellan. They did not meet again until both reached Noukha-Hiva.
Kruzenstern having given up all idea of touching at Easter Island, now made for the Marquesas, or Mendoza Archipelago, and determined the position of Fatongou and Udhugu Islands, called Washington by the American Captain Ingraham, who discovered them in 1791, a few weeks before Captain Marchand, who named them Revolution Islands. Kruzenstern also saw Hiva-Hoa, the Dominica of Mendaña, and at Noukha-Hiva met an Englishman named Roberts, and a Frenchman named Cabritt, whose knowledge of the language was of great service to him.
The incidents of the stay in the Marquesas Archipelago are of little interest, they were much the same as those related in Cook's Voyages. The total, but at the same time utterly unconscious immodesty of the women, the extensive agricultural knowledge of the natives, and their greed of iron instruments, are commented upon in both narratives.
Nothing is noticed in the later which is not to be found in the earlier narrative, if we except some remarks on the existence of numerous societies of which the king or his relations, priests, or celebrated warriors, are the chiefs, and the aim of which is the providing of the people with food in times of scarcity. In our opinion these societies resemble the clans of Scotland or the Indian tribes of America. Kruzenstern, however, does not agree with us, as the following quotation will show.
"The members of these clubs are distinguished by different tattooed marks upon their bodies; those of the king's club, consisting of twenty-six members, have a square one on their breasts about six inches long and four wide, and to this company Roberts belonged. The companions of the Frenchman, Joseph Cabritt, were marked with a tattooed eye, &c. Roberts assured me that he never would have entered this association, had he not been driven to it by extreme hunger. There was an apparent want of consistency in this dislike, as the members of these companies are not only relieved from all care as to their subsistence, but, even by his own account, the admittance into them is a distinction that many seek to obtain. I am therefore inclined to believe that it must be attended with the loss of some part of liberty."
A reconnaissance of the neighbourhood of Anna Maria led to the discovery of Port Tchitchagoff, which, though the entrance is difficult, is so shut in by land that its waters are unruffled by the most violent storm.
At the time of Kruzenstern's visit to Noukha-Hiva, cannibalism was still largely practised, but the traveller had no tangible proof of the prevalence of the custom. In fact Kruzenstern was very affably received by the king of the cannibals, who appeared to exercise but little authority over his people, a race addicted to the most revolting vices, and our hero owns that but for the intelligent and disinterested testimony of the two Europeans mentioned above he should have carried away a very favourable opinion of the natives.