« PreviousContinue »
To every Christian reader, blessed by a kind Providence with ability to aid the Christian instruction of our valuable seamen, this narrative is a call upon them to favour the sailors' cause liberally, as Providence may give opportunity, and as they may have been entrusted with the means. I am, Mr. Editor,
Yours, with sincere respect,
A RETIRED SHIP-OWNER. Lloyd's, Oct. 17th, 1837.
WRECK OF THE TIGER MERCHANTMAN.
Crew and Passengers 70 days on a Coral Rock.
The following brief account of the wreck of the Tiger, which sailed from Liverpool, bound for Bombay, in June last year,
in company with another vessel called the Tigris, is from a youth of sixteen, a son of Mr. Wrightson, of the firm of Wrightson and Webb, booksellers, Birmingham. He was an apprentice on board the vessel, and his account of the wreck, as related to his friends, was to this effect:
“ Nothing of more than ordinary note occurred for the first few weeks. We had brilliant weather, and held on steadily, the Tigris getting ahead sometimes, at others we took the lead. Soon, however, the Tigris shot away rapidly, and after a few days we lost sight of her. Upon this, the captain, who before had been all life and activity, was observed to grow gloomy and reserved ; and the surmise was rife among the crew, that some heavy stake was pending on the sailing powers of the two vessels. To allay his chagrin, the captain drank spirits in large quantities, and symptoms of insanity were speedily discerned. One night, pacing the deck and talking incoherently, he suddenly stopped, and lifting up his dog, who crouched at his feet, by the neck, flung him overboard, saying, ' Poor devil! I shall soon follow you.' After this he was watched narrowly, the surgeon of the vessel not considering himself justified in putting him under arrest, nor did he think it absolutely necessary. He contrived, however, to elude our vigilance, and a few days after his exclamation threw himself overboard, and though a boat was instantly put out, he sank before it reached him. The command of the vessel now devolved upon the mate, named Spurze, a well
conducted but inexperienced seaman, who got out of his latitude; and after many weeks of wandering and anxious pain we were eventually wrecked on an uninhabited island, which, as we afterwards learned, was 10 degrees south of the line, and between 600 and 700 east of Madagascar; crew and passengers, 26 in number, including one lady, the wife of a naval officer on board, all being saved. The island, called Astovia, was a coral rock, and nowhere could we discover any vestige of vegetable matter. After hoisting some remnants of canvass from the wreck in three different parts of the island, which was about six miles long, by three or four wide, we set out in quest of fresh water, but to our inexpressible anguish the search was without success. Our thirst became intolerable; and, to appease it, we were compelled to wring off the heads of sea fowl (with which the island providentially abounded, and which were not by any means difficult to catch), and drink the blood. Our food was turtle; and we used to take it by going out in small parties of six or seven in number, and wading through a creek, on the banks of which they congregated. Here we were in constant danger
of our lives, from the sharks that paddled slowly and stealthily up the creek; and on one occasion a poor fellow, too daring and adventurous, was seized and torn piecemeal
“ After the lapse of two weeks, 14 of the crew agreed to take the long-boat, with a single barrel of biscuits, the only provision saved, with a solemn promise to touch at the first island to which they came, if possible to procure aid, and return to us. Their parting shout was the last we ever heard of them. A day or two after they had left us, two of the crew picked up a barrel of spirits which had been washed ashore, and for some time kept it to themselves, and upon Spurze, the mate, discovering it, and upbraiding them with the selfishness of their conduct, they, in their inebriation, drew their knives and would have despatched him on the instant, had not some of us rushed to his rescue. The poor lady, the only female, suffered dreadfully; and notwithstanding we did all that was possible under the circumstances to alleviate her condition, and whilst she endeavoured to bear up with a seeming fortitude, it was evident her spirit was completely broken. With the canvass and spars from the wreck we erected a sort of tent, where she was in some measure protected from the intense heat of a tropical sun.
:.;“ “ We had been three weeks on the island, and our only drink was blood, and, for the last few days, the spirits which had been secreted by the men and discovered by the mate, when, to our infinite joy, a fresh-water spring was at last discovered, and one and all scoured away, yelling like Bedlamites with delight at this priceless God-send. Week after week passed away, and still no sign of deliver
To mark the days, we cut, like Crusoe, notches in a spar. At one time we were buoyed up with the hope of rescue, at others steeped in the lowest depths of wretchedIn consequence
of the nature of our diet, many of our number suffered greatly from diarrhoea, though no fatal consequences attended it. At the expiration of 70 days our signal was discovered by a south whaler, by which we were taken to Mahe, an island, or rather a cluster of islands, the governor of which supplied us with necessaries, and forwarded us to the Cape, from whence we took passage to England, in a vessel that touched there shortly after our arrival.”
NEW ZEALAND ISLANDERS.
James Wallis, Wesleyan Missionary at Waingaroa) te her sister.
“From the account given respecting the conduct of the natives towards us, at the time when our premises were on fire, you will naturally suppose that we have not any reason of alarm in consequence of outrage being offered to our persons.
I am happy to have it in my power to say, that as far as the general conduct of the natives, amongst whom we lived, was concerned, we were safe ; but we were surrounded by some of the most bloodthirsty wretches that ever breathed the vital air.
Hence our fears were almost constantly excited, and sometimes not without cause, as the following particulars will show.
About the middle of last summer (January), we were alarmed, just after breakfast, one morning, by the appearance of a dreadful savage chief from Waipa, who sent for my husband to go outside the door, to hear what he had
James accordingly went, when he told him that he was intending to bring down a large party from the interior, to burn down our premises, and either murder us or
drive us away:
James asked him why he intended to do 80;' to which he replied, “ that a man who was in the habit of attending our worship, had struck a great lady, a relation of his, upon the head, by which blood was started, and although it was accidentally done, he demanded (retuj payment for the offence. Mr. Wallis told him to seek payment of the offender, and not of him.' To this the chief replied, that as he is an attendant at the missionary's, he has brought a fight against you.'
(“Nina is the most ferocious, ill-looking savage I have ever seen.)
“I asked him for what cause he had brought the fight, and what evil Mr. Wallis had done. They scarcely knew what reply to make, but said, we shall take away your riches,' -and then he asked me if I was not afraid ? I told him that our God would take care of us :' but the poor savages, knowing nothing about the Divine Providence as exercised toward the children of God, said, 'where will be the protection of your God, if you are both dead by tomorrow by this time?' Just at this moment James came in, when they kept on much in the same way, until he told them he would talk to them no longer, but would meet them in the morning, with the other chiefs, and hear all they had to say. They then went outside the house, and James with them, and there told him that if he would give them a cask of tobacco they would not hurt us; but James told them positively that he would not. They then left us, intending to commence action the next morning.
After they were gone, several of our chiefs came in, and requested us not to be alarmed, that they would protect us, and that when they saw how they were disposed in the morning, they would advise Mr. Wallis how to act. We had a great number of friends, and one chief in particular, who, with his tribe, had formerly been a terror to the surrounding tribes. He came forward in our defence, declaring, that if they killed us, it should not be until he and his tribe had fallen. Part of that night was spent in making speeches, and the rest in getting war instruments prepared for the attack. Mr. Wallis, of course, did not retire to rest all that night. About day-break the next morning we heard them at a distance approaching (about 200 in number), armed with muskets, spears, battle-axes, &c., and in a few minutes they were outside our garden fence, where they had a war-dance. Some of our friends then came in, and asked Mr. W. what was to be done, for the people seemed determined to carry their plans into
execution. One of the friends said that he would suffer them to go so far as to break down the garden-fence, but that if they attempted to approach towards the house, he, with all his tribe, would fall upon them, and that either the one or the other should fall. Mr. W., seeing affairs brought to such a point, and knowing the resolute spirit of our friend the chief, and feeling assured that many lives would be lost if actual hostilities were commenced, offered them a few pounds of tobacco, by way of ending the matter. This had the desired effect: they put aside their purpose, and a good understanding amongst all parties was restored. They then had a great feast, at the expense of the man who was the cause of the affair, and after a few days they left the place.
“ This affair was indeed a great trial of my faith and courage, but the Lord was our keeper, and his promise was my support. You will perhaps feel indignant at the conduct of these men, but should we not rather pity them? They are poor ignorant, barbarous savages, who, from their infancy, have been taught to slay and DEVOUR each other. We ought, therefore, to do all we can to bring them under the influence of the Gospel, then they will not learn war any more, but will follow peace with all
You will be able to form a better idea of the malevolent disposition of that party, from the fact, that they went direct from Waingaroa, joined by others, to a place called Makatu, a distance of about 40 miles, where they destroyed extensive property, belonging to a European settler, taking away his flax (great quantities of which he had ready for a vessel), piling it up in large heaps, and then placed dear innocent infants and young children upon it, and set fire to it all together, besides murdering about fifty men and women.
“Nina (the savage chief) has since visited us, and endeavoured to make himself as friendly as possible; and when telling Mr. Wallis of the above-mentioned fight, he appeared highly delighted, especially when telling him of his cutting the arm of one man; but of our disturbance he appeared truly ashamed, and even talked of bringing us some pig's as a recompence.
I fear that I may tire your patience by this long account of events; however, you will perceive by it, how graciously our heavenly Father hath dealt with us, preserving us in and from dangers, thereby constraining us to see the reasonableness of devoting ourselves more fully to himself and to his service."