VOYAGES ROUND THE WORLD, AND POLAR EXPEDITIONS
"In their intercourse with us," he says, "they always showed the best possible disposition, and in bartering an extraordinary degree of honesty, always delivering their cocoa-nuts before they received the piece of iron that was to be paid for them. At all times they appeared ready to assist in cutting wood and filling water; and the help they afforded us in the performance of these laborious tasks was by no means trifling. Theft, the crime so common to all the islanders of this ocean, we very seldom met with among them; they always appeared cheerful and happy, and the greatest good humour was depicted in their countenances.... The two Europeans whom we found here, and who had both resided with them several years, agreed in their assertions that the natives of Nukahiva were a cruel, intractable people, and, without even the exceptions of the female sex, very much addicted to cannibalism; that the appearance of content and good-humour, with which they had so much deceived us, was not their true character; and that nothing but the fear of punishment and the hopes of reward, deterred them from giving a loose to their savage passions. These Europeans described, as eye-witnesses, the barbarous scenes that are acted, particularly in times of war—the desperate rage with which they fall upon their victims, immediately tear off their head, and sip their blood out of the skull, with the most disgusting readiness, completing in this manner their horrible repast. For a long time I would not give credit to these accounts, considering them as exaggerated; but they rest upon the authority of two different persons, who had not only been witnesses for several years to these atrocities, but had also borne a share in them: of two persons who lived in a state of mortal enmity, and took particular pains by their mutual recriminations to obtain with us credit for themselves, but yet on this point never contradicted each other. The very fact of Roberts doing his enemy the justice to allow, that he never devoured his prey, but always exchanged it for hogs, gives the circumstance a great degree of probability, and these reports concur with several appearances we remarked during our stay here, skulls being brought to us every day for sale. Their weapons are invariably adorned with human hair, and human bones are used as ornaments in almost all their household furniture; they also often gave us to understand by pantomimic gestures that human flesh was regarded by them as a delicacy."
There are grounds for looking upon this account as exaggerated. The truth, probably, lies between the dogmatic assertions of Cook and Forster and those of the two Europeans of Kruzenstern's time, one of whom at least was not much to be relied upon, as he was a deserter.
And we must remember that we ourselves did not attain to the high state of civilization we now enjoy without climbing up from the bottom of the ladder. In the stone age our manners were probably not superior to those of the natives of Oceania.
We must not, therefore, blame these representatives of humanity for not having risen higher. They have never been a nation. Scattered as their homes are on the wide ocean, and divided as they are into small tribes, without agricultural or mineral resources, without connexions, and with a climate which makes them strangers to want, they could but remain stationary or cultivate none but the most rudimentary arts and industries. Yet in spite of all this, how often have their instruments, their canoes, and their nets, excited the admiration of travellers.
On the 18th May, 1804, the Nadiejeda and the Neva left Noukha-Hiva for the Sandwich Islands, where Kruzenstern had decided to stop and lay in a store of fresh provisions, which he had been unable to do at his last anchorage, where seven pigs were all he could get.
This plan fell through, however. The natives of Owhyhee, or Hawaii, brought but a very few provisions to the vessels lying off their south-west coast, and even these they would only exchange for cloth, which Kruzenstern could not give them. He therefore set sail for Kamtchatka and Japan, leaving the Neva off the island of Karakakoua, where Captain Lisianskoï relied upon being able to revictual.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)
On the 11th July, the Nadiejeda arrived off Petropaulovski, the capital of Kamtchatka, where the crew obtained the rest and fresh provisions they had so well earned. On the 30th August, the Russians put to sea again.
Overtaken by thick fogs and violent storms, Kruzenstern now hunted in vain for some islands marked on a map found on a Spanish gallion captured by Anson, and the existence of which had been alternately accepted and rejected by different cartographers, though they appear in La Billardière's map of his voyage.
The navigator now passed between the large island of Kiushiu and Tanega-Sima, by way of Van Diemen Strait, till then very inaccurately defined, rectified the position of the Liu-Kiu archipelago, which the English had placed north of the strait, and the French too far south, and sailed down, surveyed and named the coast of the province of Satsuma.