They were pursued so closely
"They were pursued so closely."

After a moment's hesitation, the natives continued their pursuit, when a second discharge stretched one of them dead on the spot. His companions made an effort to carry him away with them, but were obliged to abandon the attempt, as it retarded their flight. Hearing the firing, the officers who had landed went back to the vessel, whence they soon heard the natives returning to the shore, eagerly discussing the event.

Still Cook desired to have friendly intercourse with them. He ordered three boats to be manned, and landed with Banks, Solander, and Tupia. Fifty or more natives seated on the shore awaited them. They were armed with long lances, and an instrument made of green talc, and highly polished, a foot long, which perhaps weighed four or five pounds. This was the "patou-patou," or toki, a kind of battle-axe, in talc or bone, with a very sharp edge. All rose at once and signed to the English to keep their distance.

As soon as the marines landed, Cook and his companions advanced to the natives, whom Tupia told that the English had come with peaceful intentions, that they only wished for water and provisions, that they would pay for all that was brought them with iron, of which he explained the use. They saw, with pleasure, that the people, whose language was only a dialect of that spoken by the Tahitans, perfectly understood them. After some parleying, about thirty of the natives crossed the river. The strangers gave them iron and glass wares, on which they set no store; but one of them, having succeeded in possessing himself secretly of Mr. Green's cutlass, the others recommenced their hostile demonstrations, and it was necessary to fire at the robber, who was hit, when they all threw themselves into the river to gain the opposite shore.

Tahitian flute-player
Tahitian flute-player.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)

The various attempts at commercial intercourse with the people ended too unfortunately for Cook to persevere in them any longer. He therefore decided to find a watering-place elsewhere. Meanwhile, two pirogues, which were trying to regain the shore, were perceived. Cook took measures to intercept them; one escaped by rapid paddling, the other was caught, and although Tupia assured the natives that the English came as friends, they seized their weapons, and commenced attacking them. A discharge killed four, and three others, who threw themselves into the sea, were seized after a fierce resistance.

The reflections which this sad incident suggested to Captain Cook, are much to his honour. They are in strong contradistinction to the ordinary method of proceeding then in vogue, and deserve to be repeated verbatim.

"I cannot disguise from myself," he says, "that all humane and sensible people will blame me for having fired upon these unfortunate Indians, and I should be forced to blame myself for such an act of violence if I thought of it in cold blood. They certainly did not deserve death for refusing to trust to my promises, and to come on board, even if they suspected no danger; but my commission by its nature obliged me to take observations of their country, and I could only do so by penetrating into the interior, either by open force or by gaining the confidence and good will of the natives. I had tried unsuccessfully by means of presents and my anxiety to avoid new hostilities led me to attempt having some of them on board, as the sole method of persuading them that far from wishing to hurt them, we were disposed to be of use to them. So far, my intentions were certainly not criminal. It is true that during the struggle, which was unexpected by me, our victory might have been equally complete without taking the lives of four of these Indians, but it must also be remembered that in such a situation, the command to fire having once been given, one is no longer in a position to proscribe it, or to lighten its effect."

The natives were welcomed on board, with every possible demonstration, if not to make them forget, at least to make them less sensible of the pain of remembering their capture, they were loaded with presents, adorned with bracelets and necklaces, but when they were told to land, they all declared, as the boats were directed to the mouth of the river, that it was an enemy's country, and that they would be killed and eaten. However, they were put on shore, and there is no reason to suppose that anything painful came of their adventure.

Next day, the 11th of October, Cook left this miserable settlement. He named it Poverty Bay, because of all that he needed he had been able to procure but one thing—wood. Poverty Bay, in 38° 42' S. Lat., and 181° 36' W. Long., is of horse-shoe shape, and affords good anchorage, although it is open to the winds between south and east.

Cook continued along the coast in a southerly direction, naming the most remarkable points, and bestowing the name of Portland upon an island which resembled that of the same name in the English Channel. His relations with the natives were everywhere inimical; if they did not break out into open outrage, it was owing to the English patience under every provocation.

One day several pirogues surrounded the ship, and nails and glassware were exchanged for fish; when the natives seized Tayeto, Tupia's servant, and quickly paddled off.