« AnteriorContinuar »
ill-treated, but were given to understand that it was the custom of the country to detain all strangers and never to suffer them to depart. The governor ordered boiled rice and arrack to be given to them, and was particularly attentive to the sick; 'so that' (observes Hamel) 'it might be said we were better used by this idolater than we should have been, in the like situation, by Christians.' On their march to the capital the people behaved civilly to them, and every where the upper ranks invited them to their houses; * tlie women aud children especially (says the narrator) had great curiosity to see us, because it had been rumoured that we were monsters, and that when we drank we were 'obliged to hold our noses on one side out of the way.'
HamePs description of the extraordinary measures of precaution taken by the Corean government to prevent all communication between the Chinese ambassador (on his entering the capital) with the Coreans, agrees with that of Pere Regis. 'All the streets between the palace and his hotel were lined with soldiers, who were stationed within ten or twelve feet of each other; and two or three men were always in waiting under the windows of the hotel, whose business it was to watch for and take up the billets that were thrown from thence, and to forward them to the king, that he might continually know what the ambassador was doing.' This extreme caution respecting foreigners will sufficiently explain the conduct of the Corean chief, and his followers, towards our navigators: with every disposition to be kind and friendly, they were obviously under the influence of terror, lest, by permitting any communication with the people on shore, their heads should be endangered. Captain Hall has contrived to give a considerable degree of interest to the character and conduct of the chief of the district bordering on Basil Bay.
'On coming closer, we saw a fine patriarchal figure seated under the umbrella (the symbol of authority); his full white beard covered his breast, and reached below his middle; his robe or mantle, which was of blue silk, and of an immense size, flowed about him in a magnificent style. His sword was suspended from his waist by a small belt, but the insignia of his office appeared to be a slender black rod tipped with silver, about a foot and a half long, with a small leather thong at one end, and a piece of black crape tied to the other: this he held in his hand. His hat exceeded in breadth of brim any thing we had yet met with, being, as we supposed, nearly three feet across.'—p. 14.
• Unfortunately, the ships had no other interpreter than a Chinese servant, who could neither write his own language, nor speak that of Corea. The old gentleman seemed to be considerably annoyed at this.
'At length, however, he sat down on his mat, and began talking with
v 3 great
great gravity and composure, without appearing in the smallest degree sensible that we did not understand a single word that he said. We of course could not think of interrupting him, and allowed him to talk on at leisure; but when his discourse was concluded, he paused for our reply, which we made with equal gravity in English; upon this he betrayed great impatience at the harangue having been lost upon us, and supposing that we could, at all events, read, he called to his secretary, and began to dictate a letter. The secretary sat down before him with all due formality, and having rubbed his cake of ink upon a stone, drawn forth his pen, and arranged a long roll of paper upon his knee, began the writing, which was at length completed, partly from ihe directions of the Chief, and partly from his own ideas, as well as the occasional suggestions of the bystanders. The written part was then torn off from the scroll and handed to the Chief, who delivered it to me with the utmost confidence of its being understood: but his mortification and disappointment were extreme on perceiving that he had overrated our acquirements.'—p. 16, 17.
Wherever a party landed, it met from the natives an unwelcome reception, and all means were employed to make them comprehend how anxious they were to send them back to their ships. One man held up a piece of paper shaped like a sail, blew upon it in the direction of the wind, and pointed to the vessels; and whenever the visitors happened to turn their faces towards the boats, instant marks of joy appeared on every countenance. 'They took our hands,' says Captain Hall,' and helped us over the slippery stone* to the beach; and on perceiving one of the boats aground, several of them stripped and jumped into the water to push her off.' The description which our author gives of a Corean village on the principal island of ' Sir James Hall's group' is not of the most inviting kind; and, upon the whole, we are not surprized that they quitted (as they say they did) ' the coast of Corea without much regret.'
'The village consists of forty houses rudely constructed of reeds plastered with mud, the roofs are of all shapes, and badly thatched with reeds and straw, tied down by straw ropes. These huts are not disposed in streets, but are scattered about without order, and without any neatness or cleanliness, and the spaces between them are occupied by piles of dirt and pools of muddy water. The valley in which this comfortless village is situated is,however, pretty enough, though not wooded; the hills forming it are of an irregular shape, and covered at top with grass and sweet-scented flowers; the lower parts are cultivated with millet, buck-wheat, a kind of French bean, and tobacco, which last grows in great quantity; and here and there is a young oak-tree.'—p. 5,6.
In their progress to the southward they fell in with Sulphur Island, on which, unfortunately, they found it impossible to land, on account of the violent surf which broke on every part of the beach.
* The sulphuric volcano from which the island takes its name is on th« north-west side; it emits white smoke, and the smell of sulphur is very strongon the lee side of the crater. The cliffs near the volcano are of a pals yellow colour, interspersed with brown streaks: the ground at this placa is very rugged, as the strata lie in all directions, and are much broken; on the top is a thin coat of brown grass. The south end of the island is of considerable height, of a deep blood-red colour, with here and there a spot of bright green: the strata, which are here nearly horizontal, are cut by a whin dyke running from the top to the bottom of the cliff, projecting from its face like a wall.'—pp. 58, 59
The volcano, which appeared to be in a state of activity, is probably the westernmost of a chain of volcanoes stretching far eastward into the Pacific. One of these was passed by Captain Gore, io latitude 24° 48', and longitude 141° 12': he gave it the name of 'Sulphur Island, as it exhibited (he says) various colours, and as a considerable part of it was conjectured to be sulphur, both from its appearance to the eye, and its strong sulphureous smell.'
Kaempfer mentions an island to the southward of Satzuma, under the name of Iwogosima, which signifies, he tells us, Sulphur Island.* 'It is not above a hundred years,' he says, ' since the Japanese first ventured thither. It was thought, before that time, to be wholly inaccessible, and by reason of the thick smoke which was observed continually to arise from it, and of the several spectres, and other frightful uncommon apparitions, people fancied to see there chiefly in the night, it was believed to be a dwellingplace of devils, till at last a resolute and courageous man offered himself, and obtained leave, accordingly, to go and to examine the state and situation. He chose fifty resolute fellows for this expedition, who, upon going on shore, found neither hell nor devils, but a large flat spot of ground at the top, which was so thoroughly covered with sulphur, that wherever they walked a thick smoke issued from under their feet.' Sulphur is a very considerable article of export from Loo-choo to China.
Of the two great agents in the formation of new lands in the Pacific, the fabricators of the coral reefs are by far more productive than the sub-marine volcanoes, and, at the same time, more dangerous to the navigator. The Lyra, which led the way, had nearly been wrecked upon reefs of this kind more than once, on their approach to the Loo-choo islands. We have often, in our pages, adverted to this extraordinary and almost inexplicable process of the creation of new lands; and as all additional facts respecting those immense labours of minute worms may be considered as so many accessions to science, we willingly transcribe
* From his vague account of its position, this may, or may not, be the island seen by the Alceste and Lyra, which the Loo-thoos call by the uaoie of Lun-huan-sliun, which also signifies Sulphur Island.
v 4 Captain
Captain Hall's observations on a coral-reef formation, on the western side of the great Loo-choo island.
'The examination of a coral reef during the different stages of one tide is particularly interesting. When the tide has left it for some-time it becomes dry, and appears to be a compact rock, exceedingly hard and ragged; but as the tide rises, and the waves begin to wasli over it, the coral worms protrude themselves from holes which were before invisible. These animals are of a great variety of shapes and sizes, and in such prodigious numbers, that, in a short time, the whole surface of the rock appears to be alive and in motion. The most common worm is in the form of a star, with arms from four to six inches long, which are moved about with a rapid motion in all directions, probably to catch food. Others are so sluggish, that they may be mistaken for pieces of the rock, and are generally of a dark colour, and from four to five inches long, and two or three round. When the coral is broken, about high water mark, it is a solid hard stone, but if any part of it be detached at a spot which the tide reaches every day, it is found to be full of worms ef different lengths and colours, some being as fine as a thread and several feet long, of a bright yellow, and sometimes of a blue colour: others resemble snails, and some are not unlike lobsters in shape, but soft, and not above two inches long.
'The growth of coral appears to cease when the worm is no longer exposed to the washing of the sea. Thus, a reef rises in the form of a cauliflower, till its top has gained the level of the highest tides, above which the worm has no power to advance, and the reef of course no longer extends itself upwards. The other parts, in succession, reach the surface, and there stop, forming in time a level field with steep sides all round. The reef, however, continually increases, and being prevented from going higher, extends itself laterally in all directions. But this growth being as rapid at the upper edge as it is lower down, the steepness of the face of the reef is still preserved. These are the circumstances which render coral reefs so dangerous in navigation; for, in the' first place, they are seldom seen above the water; and, in the next, their sides are so steep, that a ship's bows may strike against the rock before any change of soundings has given warning of the danger.'—p. 107 —109.
On approaching the great island of Loo-choo, they fell in with several canoes; and one man, appearing to be aware of what they were in search, directed them, by signs, to the quarter in which the principal harbour was situated. The conduct of the people in these canoes was singularly friendly; one handed up a jar of water, another, a basket of boiled sweet potatoes, without asking i or appearing to wish for any return. 'Their manners, ' Captain Hall says, 'were gentle and respectful; they uncovered their heads when in our presence; bowed whenever they spoke to us; and when we gave them some rum, they did not drink it till they had bowed to every person round. All this promised well, and was particularly grateful after the cold repulsive manners of the Coreans.'
We noticed, in a former Article, the little artifice made use of to convince the natives of the distressed situation of the ships on their anchoring before the town of Napakiang, and which obtained for theni such ready and cheerful assistance. Captain Hall tells us that numerous parties came off from the shore, and that the deportment of all was modest, polite, timid, and respectful. They had the address however to amuse their visitors a whole fortnight, parrying with considerable ingenuity every proposal that was made to go on shore, and setting aside with great adroitness every allusion to that subject; giving them at the same time every thing they could possibly want, in the way of provisions, and even anticipating their wishes. At length, however, a greater number of boats than usual were observed coming off in a kind of procession, and it was soon discovered that a great man was in one of them. He appeared to be about sixty, 'and had a cheerfulness of expression and a liveliness of manner, remarkable for a man of that age; his manners were graceful and elegant, and from the first moment he seemed to Le quite at his ease; every thing about him indicated good breeding, and a familiarity with good society.' He examined every part of the Alceste with the greatest attention, and seemed to be highly entertained with what he saw.
On taking leave, the Chinese interpreter (whose language was here understood) was desired to say that Captain Maxwell and his officers would return the visit the next day; but this was decidedly objected to. The interpreter however was not so easily to be repulsed; he followed the great man into the boat, where every persuasion was used to convince him of the impropriety of the strangers going on shore; but the Chinese being determined not to yield the point, they rowed away without coming to any understanding. The report of John Chinaman (so they familiarly called the interpreter) is too curious to be omitted, especially as to his perseverance the strangers appear to have owed their permission to land.
'"They ax me,"(says John) " what for my ta-yin (great man) come shoi" I say, "to make chin-chin* they ta-yin ;" they tell me, " You tayin too much great mandarine, no can come sho;" I say, " What for my ta-yin no come sho? He great man; he+Ta-whang-tee too much great man; he let you ta-yin come board ship, and you no let him come sho, chin-chin you ta-yin; what for this?" Then they speak long time together; by and by ax me, " how many people bring sho you ta-yin r" Sol shake my head, I no like give answer long time, (they always take long time answer me), When they ax me again, I say, " Ta-yin bring five
*'Chin-chin, in the corrupt dialect of Canton, means the ceremony of salutation, which consists in the action of holding up the closed hands, pressed together before th* face, and bowing at the same time.'
t 'Ta-whang-tee is Chinese for Emperor, King.'