The chubby children who peeped at us from all corners, and the very hearty appearance of their parents, plainly evidenced that theirs was an excellent and thriving trade. We had a cold invitation to stay all night; but this the number of our party entirely precluded; so they lent us their boat to convey us to the Bay of Islands, a distance of about twenty-five miles.
As the night proved dark and stormy, and as our boat was crowded with natives, our passage down the Kerikeri river became both disagreeable and dangerous. The river being filled with rocks, some under, and others just above the water, we were obliged to keep a good look-out. After experiencing many alarms, we arrived safely at Kororareka beach about midnight, where an Englishman of the name of Johnstone gave us a shelter in his hut.
THE BAY OF ISLANDS.
In the morning we beheld two vessels at anchor in the harbour. The Indian, whaler, of London, and the East India Company’s ship Research; which latter ship had been cruising in search of the wreck of the vessels under the command of La Perouse, and had completely elucidated the circumstances relating to that event. The Bay of Islands is surrounded by lofty and picturesque hills, and is secured from all winds. It is full of lovely coves, and a safe anchorage is to be found nearly all over it; added to this, a number of navigable rivers are for ever emptying themselves into the Bay, which is spotted with innumerable romantic islands all covered with perpetual verdure.
It is with peculiar interest that we look upon the spot where the illustrious Cook cast anchor after his discovery of this Bay. Some unhappy quarrels with the natives occasioned much blood to be shed on both sides, and for a long time caused this island to be looked upon with horror, and avoided by all Europeans. It was the courage and enterprise of the crews of our South Sea Whalers who exhibited these interesting islanders in their true character, and proved to the world that it was quite as safe to anchor in the Bay of Islands as in the harbour of Port Jackson.
The massacre of the “Boyd.”
Since the time of Cook, and other circumnavigators of that period, the character of these people has undergone a thorough change. Then it was necessary when a ship anchored, that the boarding nettings should be up, and all the arms ready for immediate use. The principal object the chiefs had in view seemed to be to lull the commanders into a fatal security, then to rush upon them, seize their vessel, and murder all the crew! Too often had they succeeded, and as often have they paid most dearly for their treachery and cruelty. In the case of the ship Boyd, though they attained their object, they were as completely punished for their perfidy. From their ignorance of the nature of powder, and the use of a magazine, they blew up the ship, and vast numbers of the natives were destroyed. Besides this calamity, they brought down upon themselves the vengeance of every vessel that visited these shores for a long period afterwards. As the circumstances may not be generally known, Mr. Berry’s letter, relating the particulars of that melancholy, yet interesting event, is here inserted:—