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June 1787

2nd June. Saw and passed the Salvages. These islands are not laid down in any of the charts we had on board, except a small one, by Hamilton Moore, in the possession of the second mate. They lie, by our observation, in lat. 30°10'N. long. 15°9'W.

3rd. This evening, after seeing many small fish in our way from the Salvages, we arrived at Teneriffe, and anchored in Santa Cruz road, about a mile to the N.E. of the town of that name, in sixteen fathom water; some of the


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ships came to in twenty fathom. We were visited the same night, as is the custom of the port, by the harbour master, and gained permission to water and procure such refreshments as the island afforded. The marines were now served with wine in lieu of spirits; a pound of fresh beef was likewise daily distributed to them as well as to the convicts, together with a pound of rice instead of bread, and such vegetables as could be procured. Of the latter indeed the portion was rather scanty, little besides onions being to be got; and still less of fruit, it being too early in the season.

4th. Captain Phillip, as governor of his Majesty's territories in New South Wales, and commander in chief of the expedition, accompanied by twenty of the principal officers, paid his respects to the Marquis de Brancifort, governor of this and the other Canary islands. We were received by his Excellency with great politeness and cordiality; and, after the ceremony of introduction was over, he entered into familiar conversation with Captain Phillip on general topics. In person the Marquis is genteel; he is rather above the middle size, but cannot boast of much embonpoint; his countenance is animated; his deportment easy and graceful; and both his appearance and manners


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perfectly correspond with the idea universally entertained of the dignity of a grandee of Spain. This accomplished nobleman, as I have been informed, is not a Spaniard by birth, but a Sicilian; and descended from some of the princes of that island. On this ancestry and descent, it is visible that he prides himself not a little. The people he is placed over will have it that he carries himself with too much stateliness to be long a favourite there; they cannot, however, help acknowledging that he preserves a degree of disinterestedness, moderation, and justice, in his conduct towards them, that is not to be objected to.

6th. A convict, named James Clark, died of a dropsy; he had been tapped ten days before, and discharged twelve quarts of water.

8th. During the night, while the people were busily employed in taking in water on board the Alexander, a service in which some of the convicts assisted, one of them, of the name of Powel, found means to drop himself unperceived into a small boat that lay along-side; and under cover of the night to cast her off without discovery. He then drifted to a Dutch East Indiaman that had just come to an anchor, to the crew of which he told a plausible story


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and entreated to be taken on board; but, though they much wanted men, they would have nothing to do with him. Having committed himself again to the waves, he was driven by the wind and the current, in the course of the night, to a small island lying to leeward of the ships, where he was the next morning taken. The boat and oars, which he could not conceal, led to a discovery; otherwise he would probably have effected his escape. When brought back by the party sent after him, Captain Phillip ordered him into irons, in which state he remained for some time; but at length, by an artful petition he got written for him, he so wrought on the governor's humanity as to procure a release from his confinement.

As you approach the island of Teneriffe, and even when you are near to it, the appearance from the sea conveys no very favourable idea of its fertility, one rugged, barren hill or mountain terminating in another, until it forms the famous Peak. The town of Santa Cruz is large and populous, but very irregular and ill built; some of the private houses, however, are spacious, convenient, and well constructed. Although this town is not considered as the capital, Laguna enjoying that pre-eminence, yet I cannot


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help thinking it ought to be so; not only from its being more frequented by ships of various nations, and having a greater share of trade than any other port in the Canaries, but on account of its being the residence of the governor-general.

Among other steps for its improvement, the Marquis set on foot a contribution, and from the produce of it has caused to be built an elegant and commodious mole, or pier, about the center of the town. To this pier, water of an excellent quality is conveyed by pipes; so that boats may come along-side, and by applying a hose to the cocks, placed there for this purpose, fill the casks without the usual trouble and fatigue. The landing or shipping of goods is likewise, by means of this pier, rendered both convenient and expeditious. In short, I think I may safely recommend this port as a very good one for ships undertaking long voyages to water at and refresh their crews, more especially in the time of the fruit season.

About four or five miles, inland, from Santa Cruz, stands the city of Laguna, so called from a lake near which it is situated. This lake, during the winter, or in rainy weather, is full of stagnant water, that in a little time


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becomes putrid, and, in very dry hot weather, is totally exhaled. I have before observed, that Laguna is considered as the capital of the island, and added my reasons for thinking this an ill-judged distinction. The road from Santa Cruz to it is a pretty steep ascent until you approach the town, which is situated at the extremity, or rather on a corner, of a plain three or four miles long. This city has two churches, one of them richly ornamented; and several convents both of friars and nuns. It has likewise three hospitals; two of which were originally instituted for the wise, but ineffectual, purpose of eradicating the lues venerea; a disease that has long been, and still continues to be, very common in this island. I was, however, informed that persons afflicted with other disorders are now received into these two charitable institutions; and that the third is appropriated to the reception of foundlings. Besides the foregoing, there are some other public, as well as private buildings, that tend to improve the appearance of the town. There is very little trade carried on at Laguna, it being rather the retired residence of the gentry of the island, and of the merchants of Santa Cruz, which is the principal seat of commerce. The officers of justice likewise reside here;


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such as the corrigedor, lieutenant of the police, &c. and a judge whose business it is to regulate commercial affairs. An office of inquisition, with the proper officers, delegated from, and subject to, the tribunal of the holy office held at Grand Canary, is besides established here.

The present natives of this island seem to have in them very little of the stock from whence they sprung; intermarriages with the Spaniards have nearly obliterated all traces of the original stamina: they are of a middle stature, inclining to be slender, and of a dark complexion, with large animated black eyes. The peasants in general are wretchedly clothed; when they do appear better, they are habited in the Spanish fashion. The men in a genteeler line dress very gaily, and are seldom seen without long swords. It is remarked that few of them walk with dignity and ease; which may be attributed to the long cloaks they usually wear, except on particular occasions.

The women wear veils: those worn by the lower ranks are of black stuff, those of the higher, of black silk; and such among the latter as have any claim to beauty, are far from being over careful in concealing their faces by them. The young ladies, some of whom I saw that were


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really pretty, wear their fine long black hair plaited, and fastened with a comb, or a ribbon, on the top of the head.

The common people, and in this they resemble the inhabitants of most of the islands in the Pacific Ocean lately discovered, have a strong spice of furacity in them; they are besides lazy; and the most importunate beggars in the world: I observed likewise, that the itch was so common among them, and had attained such a degree of virulence, that one would almost be led to believe it was epidemic there.

Some of the women are so abandoned and shameless that it would be doing an injustice to the prostitutes met with in the streets of London to say they are like them. The females of every degree are said to be of an amorous constitution, and addicted to intrigue, for which no houses could be better adapted than those in Teneriffe.

The manufactures carried on here are very few, and the product of them little more than sufficient for their own consumption. They consist of taffeties, gauze, coarse linens, blankets, a little silk, and curious garters. The principal dependance of the inhabitants is on their wine (their staple commodity), oil, corn, and every kind of stock for shipping.


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With these the island abounds, and, in their season, produces not only the tropical fruits but the vegetable productions of the European gardens in the greatest plenty. Teneriffe enjoys an agreeable and healthful mediocrity of climate. Indeed I know of none better adapted for the restoration of a valetudinarian; as, by going into the mountains, he may graduate the air, and chuse that state of it which best suits his complaint. But although the inhabitants are thus healthy, and have so little occasion for medical aid, they loudly complain of the want of knowledge in the professional gentlemen of the island.

The present governor has established a manufactory of silk and woollen goods in the suburbs of Santa Cruz, which is carried on by poor children, old and infirm people, and by abandoned females, with a view to reclaiming them: an institution that will ever do honour both to his excellency and to those who have liberally aided him in so laudable a scheme.

Like the inhabitants of most catholic countries, the people of this island are very profuse in decorating their churches, and even their dwelling-houses, on the festivals held in honour of their saints. This being Corpus Christi, a


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day of much solemnity and parade, I went on shore with Lieutenant Ball of the Supply to see the procession incident to the occasion. Before we landed we formed a resolution to avoid, as much as lay in our power, giving offence even to the most zealous devotee. But we found this was not to be done. When we arrived at the church, from whence the procession commenced, the Host was just making its appearance, a circumstance that is announced by ringing of bells and firing of guns. As it passed by us we fell on our knees, as we observed those around us to do; but, it unfortunately happening that the spot we knelt upon consisted of sand intermixed with small rough pebbles, the posture we were in soon became so exceedingly painful that, in order to procure a momentary ease, we only let one knee remain on the ground. This heretical act did not escape the observation of one of the holy fathers, all of whom were intent on the exact performance of every ceremonious etiquette. It procured for us a frown from him, and treatment that was not of the most civil kind; so that, in order to pacify him, we again dropped on both knees. He did not, however, pass on, without exhibiting strong marks of ill-nature and resentment in his countenance, at this trivial and unintended breach of respectful


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attention to the religious rights of the country. The procession, in which the governor and all the principal inhabitants joined, having passed through most of the streets, returned, with the same solemnity, to the church it had set out from, which was richly ornamented and splendidly illuminated with large wax tapers upon the occasion. During our stay here, his excellency the governor entertained Captain Phillip and all the officers belonging to the expedition with a very elegant dinner.

Before we sailed from the Motherbank, a sporatic disease had appeared among the marines and convicts. On its first appearance it resembled the mumps, or swellings of the chaps; and as that distemper sometimes terminates in a translation of the inflammation to the testicles, so this complaint (after the swelling and induration of the jaws had subsided, which usually happened on the sixth or seventh day) never in one instance failed to fix on those parts; and that in so very obstinate a manner as not to give way to the treatment generally found effectual in similar inflammations. One of the convicts, thus affected, was seized with an intermitting fever: between the paroxysm I gave him an emetic, which had such a sudden and wonderful effect on this strange complaint


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that I was induced to repeat it; and I found it effectual in this, as well as in all subsequent cases. As soon as we got to sea, the motion of the ship acted on all those who were affected, to the number of seventeen, in a most surprising and extraordinary manner. Indeed it was so sudden that it was like a placebo. I could never account, with any satisfaction to myself, for the origin of this uncommon disease, though much acquainted with those incident to seamen; nor did I ever see or hear of any that resembled it. The most steady and prudent of the mariners, even those who had their wives on board, were equally affected with those who led more irregular lives. At first I attributed it to the verdigrease that might gather on the copper utensils wherein the provisions were cooked; but I am now fully persuaded that this was not the source from which it proceeded; for at the very time it was most prevalent, and attended with the greatest degree of inveteracy, the coppers were cleaned, and made as bright as they could be, every day, under my own inspection. Another proof, and a very strong one, that it did not proceed from the before-mentioned cause is that the provisions still continued to be dressed in the same coppers, when the smallest trace of the disease was no


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longer to be perceived; which was the case after being four or five days at sea.

9th. P.M. the Sirius made the signal for all officers to repair on board their respective ships; an officer was likewise sent to the governor to inform him that we intended to put to sea in the morning, and, at the same time, to thank him for the civilities and politeness he had shown us. His excellency returned, in answer to this message, that his best and most sincere good wishes should attend us, and that he should ever feel a very particular interest in our success, which he hoped would answer the intention of government and the expectations of those who had so cheerfully entered as volunteers on so novel and very uncertain a service.

10th. This morning the fleet got under way with a light breeze, which carried us out of Santa Cruz, but left us two days becalmed between Teneriffe and the Grand Canary. After this a fine breeze sprung up from the north-east; and no occurrence worthy of notice happened for some days. We crossed the tropical line in 18°20' west longitude, and was nearly pressed on board the Lady Penrhynn transport, whose people did not attend to her steerage, being deeply engaged in sluicing and ducking all those on board who had never crossed it.




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17th. In the morning saw a strange sail to the northward, and at night the Sirius made the signal for the convoy to shorten sail.

18th. Early this morning the Sirius threw out the Supply's signal to make sail, and look out ahead. She immediately obeyed, and at eight o'clock made the signal for seeing land, which was repeated by the Sirius to the convoy. At eleven we passed the Isle of Sal, in lat. 16°38'N. long. 22°5'W., and in the evening Bonavista; two of the Cape de Verd islands, a cluster of islands so called from a cape of that name situated opposite to them on the continent of Africa. We passed the latter island so close, that we saw the breakers which endangered Captain Cook's ship in his last voyage. It blew at the time pretty fresh, and was so hazy that we could make no other observation than that the land was high, and the shore (what we could perceive of it through the haze, for the horizon line did not exceed two miles) had a white appearance, as if sand or chalk cliffs. At six in the evening, the Sirius made a signal for the convoy to observe a close order of sailing, and to shorten sail for the night; and at twelve, running under an easy sail,


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she made the signal for the ships to bring to, with their heads to the south-east.

19th. At day-break we made sail, the Supply being ahead on the look-out. At eight o'clock she made the signal for seeing land; which proved to be the isle of Mayo, another of the Cape de Verd islands, lying in lat. 15°10'N. long. 23°W. The Sirius now made the signal to prepare to anchor; which was followed by one that the boats from the victuallers and transports may land, as soon as the ships came to an anchor, without asking permission as at Teneriffe. We ran down the east side of the island, close in with the shore, on which we could perceive a high surf, or rather the sea, breaking violently among the rocks. The haze still continued so thick that we could only observe the shore to be rough, craggy, and bold, and that several parts of the island seemed high and mountainous. At twelve, through the haze, saw the island of Saint Jago, the principal of the Cape de Verd islands, lying in lat. 14°54'N. long. 23°29'W. Half after one, the Sirius leading into Port Praya Bay, on a sudden brought to, as we imagined, to wait for the sternmost ships, which, as they all came up, likewise brought to,


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on the outside of the entrance into the bay. After the preparations which had been made for anchoring, and the disposition shown by the Sirius to run in, we were not a little surprised to see her, at two o'clock, throw out the signal for the convoy to keep nearer the commanding officer; then make sail and bear away, steering south-west. At six in the evening we lost sight of the island, running with a smart top-gallant, and steering sail, breeze at north-east. A small Portugueze brig lay at anchor in Port Praya, which was the only vessel of any kind at that time there. This bay is rendered memorable by the action that took place there, on the 16th of April 1781, between Commodore Johnstone and Monsieur Suffrein; in giving an account of which, the French admiral (in a letter said to be written by him) humorously thus observes: “In leading into the bay, I was some time at a loss to distinguish which was the commodore's ship: but on getting more in, I at length saw his pendant blushing through a forest of masts; the Romney being securely placed in shore of the merchant ships and smaller men of war.”

The entrance into this bay appeared to be about a mile, between two bluff points, which makes it secure from every


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wind except a southerly one; and when that prevails a very high sea tumbles into it. On an eminence, in the center of the bay, stands a fort, where the Portugueze colours were displayed. Many people appeared on the batteries, looking at the ships; which were probably more in number than had been seen there since the memorable 16th of April. The appearance of the town and the island, from the distant view we had, gave us no very favourable opinion of them. The face of the country seemed to be sterile in the extreme. The lifeless brown of the Isle of Mayo, described by Captain Cook, may very well be applied to this island; for as far as my eye or glass could reach, not the smallest trace of vegetation or verdure was to be perceived, except at the west end of the fort, on the left side of the bay, where a few trees of the cocoa-nut or palm kind appeared. But, notwithstanding the sterile picture it exhibits when viewed from the sea, geographers, and those who have been on shore, describe it to be, in many places, well cultivated and very fertile; producing sugar canes, a little wine, some cotton, Indian corn, cocoa nuts, and oranges, with all the other tropical fruits in great plenty; and point it out as a place where ships bound on long voyages may be conveniently supplied


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with water, and other necessaries, such as fowls, goats, and hogs; all of which are to be purchased at a very easy rate.

20th. This evening, standing to the southward with all sail; the wind moderate; the air warm and damp, with haze; the Sirius made the Alexander's signal, who had dropped considerably astern, and reprimanded the master for hoisting out a boat without permission. The two following days the weather was moderately warm, with some flashes of lightning.

23rd. The weather became exceedingly dark, warm, and close, with heavy rain, a temperature of the atmosphere very common on approaching the equator, and very much to be dreaded, as the health is greatly endangered thereby. Every attention was therefore paid to the people on board the Charlotte, and every exertion used to keep her clean and wholesome between decks. My first care was to keep the men, as far as was consistent with the regular discharge of their duty, out of the rain; and I never suffered the convicts to come upon deck when it rained, as they had neither linen nor clothing sufficient to make themselves dry and comfortable after getting wet: a line of conduct which cannot be too strictly observed, and enforced, in those latitudes.


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To this, and to the frequent use of oil of tar, which was used three times a week, and oftener if found necessary, I attribute, in a great degree, the uncommon good health we enjoyed. I most sincerely wish oil of tar was in more general use throughout his Majesty's navy than it is. If it were, I am certain that the advantage accruing from it to the health of seamen, that truly useful and valuable class of the community, and for whose preservation too much cannot be done, would soon manifest itself. This efficacious remedy wonderfully resists putrefaction, destroys vermin and insects of every kind; wherever it is applied overcomes all disagreeable smells; and is in itself both agreeable and wholesome.

In the evening it became calm, with distant peals of thunder, and the most vivid flashes of lightning I ever remember. The weather was now so immoderately hot that the female convicts, perfectly overcome by it, frequently fainted away; and these faintings generally terminated in fits. And yet, notwithstanding the enervating effects of the atmospheric heat, and the inconveniences they suffered from it, so predominant was the warmth of their constitutions, or the depravity of their hearts, that the hatches over the place


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where they were confined could not be suffered to lay off, during the night, without a promiscuous intercourse immediately taking place between them and the seamen and marines. What little wind there was, which was only at intervals, continuing adverse, and the health of these wretches being still endangered by the heat, Captain Phillip, though anxious to prevent as much as possible this intercourse, gave an order, on my representing the necessity of it, that a grating should be cut, so as to admit a small wind sail being let down among them. In some of the other ships, the desire of the women to be with the men was so uncontrollable, that neither shame (but indeed of this they had long lost sight), nor the fear of punishment, could deter them from making their way through the bulk heads to the apartments assigned the seamen.

25th. Still inclinable to calms, in lat. 8°30'N. long. 22°36'W. we perceived a strong current setting to the north-west; so that on the following day, though by our log we had run thirty miles south by east, yet by observation we found ourselves in lat. 8°45'; which shows the current against us to be nearly a knot an hour. I visited the different transports, and found the troops and convicts


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from the very great attention paid to cleanliness, and airing the ships, in much better health than could be expected in such low latitudes and unfavourable weather.

27th. Still calm, with loud thunder and incessant heavy rain.

28th. A gentle breeze sprung up to the westward, and the next day, about eleven in the forenoon, we saw a strange sail standing to the south-west. At twelve she tacked, stood towards us, and hoisted Portugueze colours. The Sirius spoke her, after which we all made sail again, steering south-east by east.

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