We understood that the little isle of Immer was chiefly inhabited by fishermen, and that the canoes we frequently saw pass, to and from that isle and the east point of the harbour, were fishing canoes. These canoes were of unequal sizes, some thirty feet long, two broad, and three deep; and they are composed of several pieces of wood clumsily sewed together with bandages. The joints are covered on the outside by a thin batten champered off at the edges, over which the bandages pass. They are navigated either by paddles or sails. The sail is lateen, extended to a yard and boom, and hoisted to a short mast. Some of the large canoes have two sails, and all of them outriggers.
At first we thought the people of this island, as well as those of Erromango, were a race between the natives of the Friendly Islands and those of Mallicollo; but a little acquaintance with them convinced us that they had little or no affinity to either, except it be in their hair, which is much like what the people of the latter island have. The general colours of it are black and brown, growing to a tolerable length, and very crisp and curly. They separate it into small locks, which they woold or cue round with the rind of a slender plant, down to about an inch of the ends; and, as the hair grows, the woolding is continued. Each of these cues or locks is somewhat thicker than common whipcord; and they look like a parcel of small strings hanging down from the crown of their heads. Their beards, which are strong and bushy, are generally short. The women do not wear their hair so, but cropped; nor do the boys, till they approach manhood. Some few men, women, and children, were seen, who had hair like ours; but it was obvious that these were of another nation; and, I think, we understood they came from Erronan. It is to this island they ascribe one of the two languages which they speak, and which is nearly, if not exactly, the same as that spoken in the Friendly Islands. It is therefore more than probable that Erronan was peopled from that nation, and that by long intercourse with Tanna and the other neighbouring islands, each had learnt the other’s language, which they use indiscriminately.
The other language which the people of Tanna speak, and, as we understood, those of Erromango and Annatom, is properly their own. It is different from any we had before met with, and bears no affinity to that of Mallicollo; so that, it should seem, the people of these islands are a distinct nation of themselves. Mallicollo, Apee, &c. were names entirely unknown to them; they even knew nothing of Sandwich Island, which is much nearer. I took no small pains to know how far their geographical knowledge extended; and did not find that it exceeded the limits of their horizon.