Departure from Tanna; with some Account of its Inhabitants, their Manners and Arts.
During the night the wind had veered round to S.E. As this was favourable for getting out of the harbour, at four o’clock in the morning of the 20th, we began to unmoor, and at eight, having weighed our last anchor, put to sea. As soon as we were clear of the land, I brought-to, waiting for the launch, which was left behind to take up a kedge-anchor and hawser we had out, to cast by. About day-break a noise was heard in the woods, nearly abreast of us, on the east side of the harbour, not unlike singing of psalms. I was told that the like had been heard at the same time every morning, but it never came to my knowledge till now, when it was too late to learn the occasion of it. Some were of opinion, that at the east point of the harbour (where we observed, in coming in, some houses, boats, &c.) was something sacred to religion, because some of our people had attempted to go to this point, and were prevented by the natives. I thought, and do still think, it was owing to a desire they shewed on every occasion, of fixing bounds to our excursions. So far as we had once been, we might go again; but not farther with their consent. But by encroaching a little every time, our country expeditions were insensibly extended without giving the least umbrage. Besides, these morning ceremonies, whether religious or not, were not performed down at that point, but in a part where some of our people had been daily.
I cannot say what might be the true cause of these people shewing such dislike to our going up into their country. It might be owing to a naturally jealous disposition, or perhaps to their being accustomed to hostile visits from their neighbours, or quarrels among themselves. Circumstances seemed to shew that such must frequently happen; for we observed them very expert in arms, and well accustomed to them; seldom or never travelling without them. It is possible