We spoke frequently to our friend George, as well as to several other of their powerful chiefs, respecting the erection of a small fort with a British garrison, and of permanently hoisting the English flag. They always expressed the utmost delight at the idea; and, from all I have seen of them, I feel convinced it would prove a most politic measure. George (who had visited Port Jackson) said: “This country is finer than Port Jackson; yet the English go and settle there. Our people are much better than the black natives of New South Wales, and yet you English live amongst them in preference to us.”
The ship Anne, Captain Gray, was out three years, and during that period she never entered a civilised port. She had touched twice at this bay, and had cruised four months on the coast of Japan, off Timor, through the Sandwich and Friendly Islands, and passed several times over the Pacific Ocean, in order to obtain a cargo of sperm oil, which she at length accomplished; and was at this time here to refit for her voyage home to England round Cape Horn, having picked up most of her cargo off this port.
For twelve years past, notwithstanding all the disadvantages, this has been the favourite resort for ships in the above-mentioned trade. Here, surrounded with savages and cannibals, they heave down their vessels, land the cargoes and stores, and carry on work, both on board and on shore, in tolerable security. The safety of the harbour, the facility of wooding and watering, the supplies of pigs and potatoes, tempt them to run the risk of placing themselves in the power of capricious and barbarous people.
It has been imagined that the residence of missionaries would have the effect of civilising the natives, and adding to the safety of ships touching here; but experience fully proves the fallacy of such an expectation. These people, abstracted by their own gloomy reflections, look with contempt on all who are in the pursuit of “worldly wealth”; and regard the arrival of a whaler as an enemy coming to interfere with the spiritual interests of “their flock,” as they term the inhabitants, though I never yet saw one proselyte of their converting.
They never visit a whaler except on a Sunday, and then it is to beg for the benefit of their society. It cannot, therefore, be expected that much sympathy can exist between parties, where the cold formality of one excites the contempt and disgust of the other.
The ship Anne, of which I have formerly spoken, arrived here lately from Wahoo, one of the Sandwich Islands, which possesses the advantage of a British consul. The pacific disposition and orderly government of the natives do not require a British garrison, or any war-like force; and of the excellent effects produced by this representation of our Government Captain Gray speaks with admiration and enthusiasm. The harbours were crowded with shipping; houses, nay, even streets, were beginning to appear; the savage character of the people was gradually subsiding into industrious and peaceful occupations; and comfort and prosperity were spreading their benign influence over the whole island: yet Wahoo is not nearly so well situated as a rendezvous for South Sea whalers as New Zealand; at least so I have been informed by all the captains of those ships who have conversed with me on the subject.