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Title: The Adventures of John Jewitt - Only Survivor of the Crew of the Ship Boston During a Captivity of Nearly Three Years Among the Indians of Nootka Sound in Vancouver Island
Author: Jewitt, John Rodgers
Language: English
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[Illustration: Portrait of Dr. Robert Brown]


Only Survivor of the Crew of the Ship _Boston_
During a Captivity of Nearly Three Years Among
the Indians of Nootka Sound in Vancouver Island

Edited with an Introduction and Notes


Robert Brown, Ph.D., M.A., F.L.S.
Commander of the First Vancouver Exploring Expedition

With Thirteen Illustrations

Clement Wilson
29 Paternoster Row, London, E.C.

[_All Rights Reserved_]

Morrison and Gibb, Printers, Edinburgh


A sad interest attaches to this little book. Although published after
his death, and therefore deprived of his final revision, it was not the
last work which Dr. Robert Brown did. His manuscript was actually
completed many months ago, but at his own request it was returned to him
to receive a last careful overhaul at his hands. This revision had been
practically finished, and the MS. lay ready uppermost among the papers
in his desk, where it was found after his death. Dr. Brown died on the
morning of the 26th of October, 1895, working almost to his last hour.
Before the leader he had written for the _Standard_ on the evening of
the 25th had come under the eyes of its readers, the hand that had
penned it was cold in death. Between the evening and the morning he went
home. He was only fifty-three, but "a righteous man, though he die
before his time, shall be at rest."

And in one sense Dr. Brown needed rest--ay, even this last and sweetest
rest of all. His life had been one of unremitting work--work well done,
which the busy, hurrying world mostly heeded not, knowing naught of the
hand that did it. Some twenty years ago, when I first knew him, he was a
fair, stalwart Northerner, full of vigour, mirthful also, and apparently
looking out on the voyage of life with the confident, joyous eye of one
who felt he had strength within him to conquer. His latter days were
saddened by incessant toil, performed in weakness of body and jadedness
of brain, and by the feeling that his best work, the work into which he
put his rich stores of knowledge, was neither recognised nor requited as
it should have been.

To a sensitive man the daily wear and tear of a journalist's life in
London is often murderous, always exhausting--and Dr. Brown was very
sensitive. Beneath the genial exterior, which seemed to indicate a
careless, light-hearted spirit, lay great depths of feeling, and a
tenderness that shrank from expressing itself. The man was too proud and
self-restrained to betray these depths even to those nearest and dearest
to him. This was at once a nobility in him and a weakness. Had he opened
his heart more, he would have chafed and fretted less, little annoyances
would not have become mountain loads of care. But the truth is, Dr.
Brown was not cut out for the life of an everyday journalist, either by
training, habits, or disposition. The ideal post for him would have been
that of a professor at some great university, where he could have had
abundant leisure to pursue his favourite studies, where young men would
have surrounded him and listened with delight to the outpouring of the
wealth of lore with which his capacious intellect was stored. His lot
was otherwise cast, and he accepted it manfully, battling with his
destiny to his last hours, grimly and in silence of soul, intent only on
one thing, to lift his children clear above the necessity for treading
the same rough road upon which he had worn himself out.

Other and worthier hands than mine may trace, it is to be hoped, the
story of his life, his expeditions in America and Greenland, and his
many literary labours not only in popularising scientific subjects, with
a thoroughness and attractiveness too little recognised, but in walks
apart where the multitude could not judge him. My dominant feeling about
him for many years has been one of regret that he should be wearing his
life away so fast. He never learned to play; to be completely idle for a
day even became, latterly, irksome, almost irritating, to him. His
fingers itched to hold the pen, to handle a book. Although in earlier
times he could enjoy a brief holiday, he ever mixed work with his
pleasure; could, indeed, accept no pleasure which did not imply work
somewhere close to his hand. Thus his various journeys to Morocco,
ostensibly taken, at any rate the earlier of them, to escape from all
kinds of work, and from the sight of the day's newspaper, ended in his
becoming the foremost authority in Great Britain upon the literature,
present social condition, and probable future of that perishing country.
The acquisition of this knowledge was all in his day's enjoyment.

The testimony of the introduction and notes to this little book is
enough to prove how thoroughly and conscientiously everything that Dr.
Brown undertook was done. The question of payment rarely entered into
his calculations. Some of his very best work was done for nothing,
because he loved to do it. Witness his edition of _Leo Africanus_,
prepared for the Hakluyt Society, and his innumerable memoirs to the
various learned Societies of which he was a member.

Few of Dr. Brown's London friends were aware that his attainments as a
scientific botanist were of the highest order. Yet in this department of
science alone he had written thirty papers and reports, besides an
advanced text-book of Botany (published by William Blackwood and Sons),
before the summer of 1872, when he was only thirty years of age. These
were entirely outside his contributions to general literature on that
and other subjects, already at that date numerous; and if we add to the
list the various reports, essays, memoranda contributed by him to the
Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh, of which he was President, to the
Royal Geographical Society, of whose Council he was a member at his
death, and to numerous other bodies, as well as to scientific and
popular journals, on geographical, geological, and zoological subjects,
from first to last the total mounts to several hundreds. In these
branches of science his heart lay always, but he laboured for his daily
bread and to give to him that needed.

The portrait forming the frontispiece to this volume is from a
photograph of Dr. Brown taken in 1870, just after his return from his
last expedition to Greenland, and represents him much as he looked when,
some years later, he first came to London, after failing to obtain the
chair of Botany in Edinburgh University. That was a disappointment which
he cannot be said ever to have entirely surmounted. The memory of it to
some extent kept him aloof from his fellow-labourers in the world of
journalism. What work he had to do he did loyally, manfully, and with
the most scrupulous care; but he lived a man apart, more or less, from
his first coming among us to the end. In his family circle, and where he
was really known, his loss has brought a great sorrow.

    A. J. W.
    LONDON, _February 16, 1896_.


  INTRODUCTION. BY DR. ROBERT BROWN                         13


  VOYAGE TO NOOTKA SOUND                                    53

  OF THE VESSEL AND MURDER OF THE CREW                      58



  HOUSES--FURNITURE--DRESSES                                95

  FISHING--CANOES                                          112

  TRIBES--TRADE WITH THESE--ARMY                           129

  PARTIES                                                  142

  CEREMONIES--VISIT TO UPQUESTA                            156


  PURCHASE THE AUTHOR                                      185

  WIFE--RELIGION OF THE NATIVES--CLIMATE                   198

  AUTHOR--ITS SUCCESS                                      223

  I. THE "BOSTON'S" CREW                                   247
  II. WAR-SONG OF THE NOOTKA TRIBE                         248
  III. A LIST OF WORDS                                     249

  INDEX                                                    253


  PORTRAIT OF DR. ROBERT BROWN (1870)           _Frontispiece_
  DR. BROWN'S "BOY"                                         14
  PORT SAN JUAN INDIANS                                     16
  OHYAHT INDIAN                                             24
  HABITATIONS IN NOOTKA SOUND (TEMP. 1803)                  97
  NOOTKA SOUND INDIANS                                     111
  INDIAN CANOES, VICTORIA, V. I. (TEMP. 1863)              125
  UK-LULAC-AHT INDIAN                                      135
      (TEMP. 1803)                                         159
  INDIAN CHIEF'S GRAVE (TEMP. 1863)                        209



Many years ago--when America was in the midst of war, when railways
across the continent were but the dream of sanguine men, and when the
Pacific was a faraway sea--the writer of these lines passed part of a
pleasant summer in cruising along the western shores of Vancouver
Island. Our ship's company was not distinguished, for it consisted of
two fur-traders and an Indian "boy," and the sloop in which the crew and
passengers sailed was so small, that, when the wind failed, and the
brown folk ashore looked less amiable and the shore more rugged than was
desirable, we put her and ourselves beyond hail by the aid of what
seamen know as a "white ash breeze." Out of one fjord we went, only to
enter another so like it that there was often a difficulty in deciding
by the mere appearance of the shore which was which. Everywhere the
dense forest of Douglas fir and Menzies spruce covered the country from
the water's edge to the summit of the rounded hills which here and there
caught the eye in the still little known, but at that date almost
entirely unexplored interior. Wherever a tree could obtain a foothold,
there a tree grew, until in places their roots were at times laved by
the spray. Beneath this thick clothing of heavy timber flourished an
almost equally dense undergrowth of shrubs, which until then were only
known to us from the specimens introduced from North-West America into
the European gardens. Gay were the thickets of thimbleberry[1] and
salmonberry[2] wherever the soil was rich, and for miles the ground was
carpeted with the salal,[3] while the huckleberry,[4] the crab-apple,[5]
and the flowering currant[6] varied the monotony of the gloomy woods. In
places the ginseng, or, as the woodmen call it, the "devil's
walking-stick,"[7] with its long prickly stem and palm-like head of
great leaves, imparted an almost tropical aspect to scenery which, seen
from the deck of our little craft, looked so like that of Southern
Norway, that I have never seen the latter without recalling the outer
limits of British Columbia. On the few flat spits where the sun reached,
the gigantic cedars[8] and broad-leaved maples[9] lighted up the scene,
while the dogwood,[10] with its large white flowers reflected in the
water of some river which, after a turbulent course, had reached the sea
through a placid mouth, or a Menzies arbutus,[11] whose glossy leaves
and brown bark presented a more southern facies to the sombre jungles,
afforded here and there a relief to the never-ending fir and pine and

[Illustration: DR. BROWN'S "BOY."]

A more solitary shore, so far as white men are concerned, it would be
hard to imagine. From the day we left until the day we returned, we
sighted only one sail; and from Port San Juan, where an Indian trader
lived a lonely life in an often-beleaguered blockhouse, to Koskeemo
Sound, where another of these voluntary exiles passed his years among
the savages, there was not a christened man, with the exception of the
little settlement of lumbermen at the head of the Alberni Canal. For
months at a time no keel ever ploughed this sea, and then too frequently
it was a warship sent from Victoria to chastise the tribesmen for some
outrage committed on wayfaring men such as we. The floating fur-trader
with whom we exchanged the courtesies of the wilderness had indeed been
despitefully used. For had he not taken to himself some savage woman,
who had levanted to her tribe with those miscellaneous effects which he
termed "iktas"? And the Klayoquahts had stolen his boat, and the
Kaoquahts his beans and his vermilion and his rice, and threatened to
scuttle his schooner and stick his head on its masthead. And, moreover,
to complete this tale of public pillage and private wrong, a certain
chief, to whom he applied many ornate epithets, had declared that he
cared not a salal-berry for all of "King George's warships." So that the
conclusion of this merchant of the wilds was that, until "half the
Indians were hanged, and the other half badly licked, there would be no
peace on the coast for honest men such as he." Then, under a cloud of
playful blasphemy, our friend sailed away.

[Illustration: PORT SAN JUAN INDIANS.]

For if civilisation was scarce in the Western Vancouver of '63,
savagedom was all-abounding. Not many hours passed without our having
dealings with the lords of the soil. It was indeed our business--or, at
least, the business of the two men and the Indian "boy"--to meet with
and make profit out of the barbarous folk. Hence it was seldom that we
went to sleep without the din of a board village in our ears, or woke
without the ancient and most fish-like smell of one being the first
odour which greeted our nostrils. In almost every cove, creek, or inlet
there was one of these camps, and every few miles we entered the
territory of a new tribe, ruled by a rival chief, rarely on terms with
his neighbour, and as often as not at war with him. More than once we
had occasion to witness the gruesome evidence of this state of matters.
A war party returning from a raid on a distant hamlet would be met with,
all painted in hideous colours, and with the bleeding heads of their
decapitated enemies fastened to the bows of their cedar canoes, and the
cowering captives, doomed to slavery, bound among the fighting men. Or,
casting anchor in front of a village, we would be shown with pride a row
of festering skulls stuck on poles, as proof of the military prowess of
our shifty hosts.

These were, however, unusually unpleasant incidents. More frequently we
saw little except the more lightsome traits of what was then a very
primitive savage life, and the barbarous folk treated us kindly. A
marriage feast might be in progress, or a great "potlatch," or
merrymaking, at which the giving away of property was the principal
feature (p. 82), might be in full blaze at the very moment we steered
round the wooded point. Halibut and dog-fish were being caught in vast
quantities--the one for slicing and drying for winter use; the other for
the sake of the oil extracted from the liver, then as now an important
article of barter, being in ready demand by the Puget Sound saw-mills.
Now and then a fur-seal or, better still, a sea-otter would be killed.
But this is not the land of choice furs. Even the marten and the mink
were indifferent. Beaver--which in those days, after having been almost
hunted to death, were again getting numerous, owing to the low prices
which the pelts brought having slackened the trappers' zeal--would often
be brought on board, and a few hides of the wapiti, the "elk" of the
Western hunter, and the black-tailed deer which swarm in the Vancouver
woods, generally appeared at every village. The natives are, however,
essentially fish-eaters, and though in every tribe there is generally a
hunter or two, the majority of them seldom wander far afield, the
interior being in their mythology a land of evil things, of which wise
men would do well to keep clear. Even the black bear, which in autumn
was often a common feature of the country, where it ranged the
crab-apple thickets, was not at this season an object of the chase. Like
the deer and the wolves, it was shunning the heat and the flies by
summering near the snow which we could notice still capping some of the
inland hills, rising to heights of from five thousand to seven thousand
feet, and feasting on the countless salmon which were descending every
stream, until, with the receding waters, they were left stranded in the
upland pools. So cheap were salmon, that at times they could be bought
for a cent's worth of "trade goods," and deer in winter for a few
charges of powder and shot. A whale-hunt, in which the behemoth was
attacked by harpoons with attached inflated sealskins, after a fashion
with which I had become familiar when a resident among the Eskimo of
Baffin Bay, was a more curious sight. Yet dog-fish oil was the staple of
the unpicturesque traffic in which my companions engaged; while I, a
hunter after less considered trifles, landed to roam the woods and
shores for days at a time, gathering the few flowers which bloomed under
these umbrageous forests, though in number sufficient to tempt the
red-beaked humming-bird[12] to migrate from Mexico to these northern
regions, its tiny nest being frequently noticed on the tops of low

[Sidenote: The Aht Indians.]

But, after all, the most interesting sight on the shore was the people
who inhabited it. They were the "Indians," whom my friend Gilbert Sproat
afterwards described as the "Ahts,"[13] for this syllable terminates the
name of each of the many little tribes into which they are divided. Yet,
with a disregard of the laws of nomenclature, the Ethnological Bureau at
Washington has only recently announced its intention of knowing them
officially by the meaningless title of "Wakashan." They are a people by
themselves, speaking a language which was confined to Vancouver Island,
with the exception of Cape Flattery, the western tip of Washington,
where the Makkahs speak it. In Vancouver Island, a region about the size
of Ireland, three, if not four distinct aboriginal tongues are in use,
in addition to Chinook Jargon, a sort of _lingua franca_ employed by the
Indians in their intercourse with the whites or with tribes whose speech
they do not understand. The Kawitshen (Cowitchan) with its various
dialects, the chief of which is the Tsongersth (Songer) of the people
near Victoria, prevails from Sooke in the Strait of Juan de Fuca,
northwards to Comox. From that point to the northern end of the island
various dialects of the Kwakiool (Cogwohl of the traders) are the medium
in which the tribesmen do not conceal their thoughts. The people of
Quatseno and Koskeemo Sounds, owing to their frequent intercourse with
Fort Rupert on the other side of the island, which at this point is at
its narrowest, understand and frequently speak the Kwakiool. But after
passing several days entirely alone among these people, I can vouch for
the fact that this dialect is so peculiar that it almost amounts to a
separate language. However, from this part, or properly, from Woody
Point southwards to Port San Juan, the Aht language is entirely

The latter locality,[14] nearly opposite Cape Flattery, on the other
side of Juan de Fuca Strait, the most southern part, and the only one on
the mainland where it is spoken, is the special territory of the
Pachenahts. When I knew them, they were, like all of their race, a
dwindling people. A few years earlier, Grant had estimated them to
number a hundred men. In 1863 there were not more than a fifth of that
number fit to manage a canoe, and the total number of the tribe did not
exceed sixty. War with the Sclallans and Makkahs on the opposite shore,
and smallpox, which is more powerful than gunpowder, had so decimated
them that, no longer able to hold their own, they had leagued with the
Nettinahts, old allies of theirs, for mutual defence. Quixto, the chief,
I find described in my notes as a stout fellow, terrible at a bargain,
very well disposed towards the whites, as are all his tribe, the husband
of four wives, an extraordinary number for the Indians of the coast, and
reputed to be rich in blankets and the other gear which constitutes
wealth among the aborigines of this part of the British Empire. In their
palmy days they had made way as far north as Clayoquat Sound and the
Ky-yoh-quaht-cutz in one direction, and with the Tsongersth to the
eastward, though that now pusillanimous tribe had generally the best of
them. Their eastern border is, however, the Jordan River, but they have
a fishing station at the Sombria (Cockles), and several miles up both
the Pandora and Jordan Rivers flowing into their bay. Karleit is their
western limit.

The Nettinahts[15] are a more powerful tribe; indeed, at the period when
the writer of this book was a prisoner in Nootka Sound, they were among
the strongest of all the Aht people. Even then, they had four
hundred[16] fighting men, and were a people with whom it did not do to
be off your guard. They have--or had--many villages, from Pachena
Bay[17] to the west and Karleit to the east, besides three villages in
Nettinaht Inlet,[18] eleven fishing stations on the Nettinaht River,
three stations on the Cowitchan Lake, and one at Sguitz on the Cowitchan
River itself, while they sometimes descend as far as Tsanena to plant
potatoes. They have thus the widest borders of any Indian tribe in
Vancouver Island, and have a high reputation as hunters, whale-fishers,
and warriors. Moqulla was then the head chief, but every winter a
sub-tribe hunted and fished on the Cowitchan Lake, a sheet of water
which I was among the first to visit, and the very first to "lay down"
with approximate accuracy. Though nowadays--_Eheu fugaces, Postume,
Postume, labuntur anni!_--there is a waggon road to the lake, and, I am
told, "a sort of hotel" on the spot where eight-and-twenty years ago we
encamped on extremely short rations, though with the soothing knowledge
that if only the Fates were kindly and the wind favourable, there were
plenty of trout in the water, and a dinner at large in the woods around.
In those days most of the Nettinaht villages were fortified with wooden
pickets to prevent any night attack, and from its situation, Whyack, the
principal one (built on a cliff, stockaded on the seaward side, and
reached only by a narrow entrance where the surf breaks continuously),
is impregnable to hostile canoemen. This people accordingly carried
themselves with a high hand, and bore a name correspondingly bad.

Barclay--or Berkeley Sound--is the home of various petty
tribes--Ohyahts, Howchuklisahts, Yu-clul-ahts, Toquahts, Seshahts, and
Opechesahts. The two with whom I was best acquainted were the last
named. The Seshahts lived at the top of the Alberni Canal--a long
narrow fjord or cleft in the island--and on the Seshaht Islands in the
Sound. During the summer months they came for salmon-fishing to Sa ha,
or the first rapids on the Kleekort or Saman River,[19] their chief
being Ia-pou-noul, who had just succeeded to this office owing to the
abdication of his father, though the entire fighting force of the tribe
did not number over fifty men. As late as 1859 the Seshahts seized an
American ship, the _Swiss Boy_. The Opechesahts, of whom I have very
kindly memories, as I encamped with their chief for many days, and
explored Sproat Lake in his company, were an offshoot of the Seshahts,
and had their home on the Kleekort River, but, owing to a massacre by
the now extinct Quallehum (Qualicom) Indians from the opposite coast,
who caught them on an island in Sproat Lake, they were reduced to
seventeen men, most of them, however, tall, handsome fellows, and good
hunters. Chieftainship in that part of the world goes by inheritance.
Hence there may be many of these hereditary aristocrats in a very small
tribe. Accordingly, few though the Opechesaht warriors were, three men,
Quatgenam, Kalooish or Kanash, and Quassoon, a shaggy, thick-set, and
tremendously strong individual who crossed the island with me in 1865,
were entitled to that rank; and it may be added that the women of this,
the most freshwater of all the Vancouver tribes, were noted for a more
than usual share of good looks.

The Howchuklisahts, whose chief was Maz-o-wennis, numbered forty-five
people, including twenty-eight men. They lived in Ouchucklesit[20]
Harbour, off the Alberni Canal; they had also a fishing camp on
Henderson Lake, and two or three lodges on the rapid or stream flowing
out of that sheet of water, which was discovered and named by me. But
they were "bad to deal with."

[Illustration: OHYAHT INDIAN.]

The You-clul-ahts of Ucluelt Inlet, ruled by Ia-pou-noul, a wealthy man
in blankets and other Indian wealth, numbered about one hundred. The
chief of the Toquahts in Pipestem Inlet was Sow-wa-wenes, a middle-aged
man, who had an easy task, as his lieges numbered only eleven, so that
they were thirty years ago on the eve of extinction. The Ohyahts of
Grappler Creek were estimated in 1863 to be about one hundred and
seventy-five in fighting strength--which, multiplied by four for women
and children, would make them, for that region, an unusually strong
community. These figures are probably correct, since the man who made
the statement was, after living for years amongst them, eventually
murdered by the savages,[21] whom he had trusted too implicitly.
Kleesheens, a notorious scoundrel, was their chief. In Clayoquat Sound
were the Klahoquahts, Kellsmahts, Ahousahts, Heshquahts, and
Mamosahts--the last a little tribe numbering only five men. Indeed, with
the exception of the Klahoquahts (who numbered one hundred and sixty
men) and the Ahousahts (who claimed two hundred and fifty), these little
septs, all devoured by mutual hatred, and frequently at war with each
other, were even then dwindling to nothingness. But the Opetsahts,
though marked on the Admiralty Chart[22] as a separate tribe, are--or
were--only a village of the Ahousahts.

In Nootka Sound, the Muchlahts and Mooachahts lived. In Esperanza
Inlet were the villages of two tribes--the Noochahlahts and Ayattisahts,
numbering forty and twenty-two men respectively, and chiefed at that
time by two worthies of the names of Mala-koi-Kennis, and
Quak-ate-Komisa, whom we left in the delectable condition of each
expecting the other round to cut his and his tribesmen's throats.

North of this inlet were Ky-yoh-quahts, of the Sound of that name
(Kaioquat), numbering two hundred and fifty men. To us they were
exceedingly friendly, though a trader whom we met had a different tale
to tell of their treatment of him. Kanemat, a young man of about
twenty-two, was their chief, though the tribe was virtually governed by
his mother, a notable lady named Shipally, and at times by his pretty
squaw, Wick-anes, and his lively son and heir, Klahe-ek-enes. The
Chaykisahts, the Klahosahts, and the Neshahts of Woody Point are the
other Aht tribes, though the latter is not included among them by Mr.
Sproat. But they speak their language, of which their chief village is
its most northern limit.

Everywhere their tribes showed such evident signs of decadence that by
this time some of them must be all but extinct. Still, as the whites had
not come much in contact with them--though all of them asked us for
"lum" (rum), but did not get it, it is clear enough what had been the
traders' staple--the "diseases of civilisation" could not be blamed for
their decay. Even then the practical extermination of two tribes was so
recent that the facts were still fresh in their neighbours' memory.
These were the Ekkalahts, who lived at the top of the Alberni Canal, but
were all but killed off in the same massacre by which the Opechesahts
were decimated. The only survivor was a man named Keekeon, who lived
with the Seshahts, most of whom had forgotten even the name of this
vanquished little nationality. The other tribe was the Koapinahts (or
Koapin-ah), who at that time numbered sixty or seventy people, but at
the period to which I refer they were reduced to two adults--a man and a
woman--all the rest having been slaughtered a few years earlier by the
Kwakiools from the other side of the island, in conjunction with the
Neshahts of Woody Point. In after days I learned to know these tribes
very familiarly, crossing and recrossing the island with or to them,
hunting and canoeing with them, in the woods, up the rivers, or on the
lakes, and gathering from their lips

    "This fair report of them who dwell
    In that retirement."

At first sight these "tinkler loons and siclike companie" were by no
means attractive. They were frowsy, and, undeniably, they were not
clean. But it was only after penetrating their inner ways, after
learning the wealth of custom and folk-lore of which they, all
unconscious of their riches, were the jealous custodians, that one began
to appreciate these primitive folk from a scientific point of view. Even
yet, as the writer recalls the days when he was prone to find men more
romantic than is possible in "middle life forlorn," it is difficult not
to associate the most prosaic of savages with something of the
picturesqueness which, in novels at least, used to cling to all their
race. For, as the charm of such existence as theirs unfolded itself to
the lover of woods and prairies, and lakes and virgin streams, the
neglect of soap and of sanitation was forgotten. As Mr. Leland has
remarked about the gipsies: "When their lives and legends are known,
the ethnologist is apt to think of Tieck's elves, and of the Shang
Valley, which was so grim and repulsive from without, but which, once
entered, was the gay forecourt of Goblin-land."

In those days little was known--and little cared--about any of the
Western tribes, except by the "schooner-men," as the Indians called the
roving traders. Their very names were strange to the majority of the
Victoria people, and I am told that very few of the colonists of to-day
are any better informed. It has therefore been thought fitting that I
should go somewhat minutely into the condition of the Indians, at a
period when they were more primitive than now, as a slight contribution
to the meagre chronicles of a dying race. For if not preserved here, it
is likely to perish with almost the last survivor of a little band with
whom, during the last two decades, death has been busy.

[Sidenote: Nootka Sound and its memories.]

Among the many inlets which we entered on the cruise which has enabled
me to edit this narrative of a less fortunate predecessor, was Nootka
Sound. No portion of North-West America was more famous than this spot,
for once upon a time it was the former centre of the fur trade, and a
locality which more than once figured prominently in diplomatic
correspondence. Indeed, so associated was it as the type of this part of
the western continent, that in many works the heterogeneous group of
savages who inhabit the entire coast between the Columbia River and the
end of Vancouver Island was described as the "Nootka-Columbians." More
than one species of plant and animal attest the fact of this Sound
having been the locality at which the naturalist first broke ground in
North-West America. There are, for instance, a _Haliotis Nutkaensis_ (an
ear shell), a _Rubus Nutkanus_ (a raspberry); and a yellow cypress,
which, however, attained its chief development on the mainland much
farther north, bears among its synonyms that of _Chamcæcyparis
Nutkaensis_. For though it is undeniable that Ensign Juan Perez
discovered it as early as 1779, and named it Port San Lorenzo, after the
saint on whose day it was first seen, this fact was unknown or
forgotten, when, four years later, Cook entered, and called it King
George Sound, though he tells us it was afterwards found that it was
called Nootka by the natives. Hence arose the title it has ever since
borne, though this was an entire mistake on the great navigator's part,
since there is no word in the Aht language at all corresponding to
Nootka, unless indeed it is "Nootche," a mountain, which not unlikely
Cook mistook for that of the inlet generally. The proofs of the presence
of earlier visitors were iron and other tools, familiarity with ships,
and two silver spoons of Spanish manufacture, which, we may take it, had
been stolen from Perez's ship. The next vessel to enter the Sound was
the _Sea Otter_, under the command of Captain James Hanna, who made such
a haul in the shape of sea-otter skins that for many years Nootka was
the great rendezvous of the fur-traders who cruised as far north as
Russian America--now Alaska--and, like Portlock, Dixon, and Meares,
charted and named many of the most familiar parts of the British
Columbian coast. Meares built the _North-West America_ by the aid of
Chinese carpenters in Nootka Sound in the winter of 1788-89, this little
sloop being the first vessel, except a canoe, ever constructed in the
country north of California.

The lucrative trade done by the English and American traders, some of
whom, disposing of their furs in China, sailed under the Portuguese flag
and fitted out at Macao as the port most readily open to them,
determined the Spaniards to assert their rights to the original
discovery. This was done by Don Estevan Martinez "taking possession" of
the Sound, seizing the vessels there, and erecting a fort to maintain
the territory against all comers. A hot diplomatic warfare ensued, the
result of which was the Convention of Nootka, by which the Sound was
made over to Great Britain; and it was while engaged on this mission of
receiving the Sound that Vancouver, conjointly with Quadra, the Spanish
commander, discovered that the region it intersects is an island, which
for a time bore their joint names, but by general consent has that of
Vancouver only attached to it nowadays.

This was in the year 1795. Being now indisputably British territory,
Nootka and the coasts north and south of it became more and more
frequented by fur-traders, who found, in spite of the increasing
scarcity of pelts, and the higher prices which keener competition
brought about, an ample profit in buying tolerably cheap on the American
coast and selling very dear to the Chinese, whose love for the sea-otter
continues unabated. Many of these adventurers were Americans--hailing,
for the most part, from Boston. Hence to this day an American is
universally known among the North-Western Indians as a "Boston-man,"
while an Englishman is quite as generally termed a "Kintshautsh man"
(King George man), it being during the long reign of George III. that
they first became acquainted with our countrymen. Their barter was
carried on in knives, copper plates, copper kettles, muskets,
brass-hilted swords, soldiers' coats and buttons, pistols, tomahawks,
and blankets, which soon superseded the more costly "Kotsaks" of
sea-otter until then the principal garment, though the women wore, as
they do still at times (or did when I knew the shore), blankets woven
out of pine-tree bark. Rum also seemed to have been freely disposed of,
and no doubt many of the outrages which early began to mark the
intercourse of the brown men and their white visitors were not a little
due to this, and to the customs, ever more free than welcome, in which
it is the habit of the mariner to indulge when he and the savage
forgather. At all events, the natives and their foreign visitors seem to
have come very soon into collision. Indeed, it was seldom that a voyage
was completed without some outrage on one or both sides, followed by
reprisals from the party supposed to have been wronged. Thus part of the
crew of the _Imperial Eagle_, under the command of Captain Barclay,[23]
who discovered and named in his own honour the Sound so called, were
murdered at "Queenhythe,"[24] south of Juan de Fuca Strait, which
Barclay was amongst the first to explore, or rather to rediscover. At a
later date, namely, in 1805, the _Atahualpa_ of Rhode Island was
attacked in Millbank Sound, and her captain, mate, and six seamen were
killed. In 1811 the _Tonquin_, belonging to John Jacob Astor's romantic
fur-trading adventure, which is so well known from Washington Irving's
_Astoria_, was seized by the savages on this coast, and then blown up by
M'Kay, the chief trader, with the entire crew and their assailants. The
scene of the catastrophe has been stated to be Nootka, but other
commentators have fixed upon Barclay Sound, and as late as 1863 an
intelligent trader informed me that some ship's timbers, half buried in
the sand there, were attributed by the Indians to some disastrous event,
which he believed to have been the one in question.[25] I am, however,
now inclined to think that in crediting Nahwitti, at the northern end of
Vancouver Island, with this notable event in the early history of
North-West America,[26] Dr. George Dawson has arrived at the truth.

To this day--or until very recently--the Indians of the North-West
coast are not accounted very trustworthy, and at the period when I knew
them they were suspected of killing several traders and of looting more
than one small vessel, acts which earned for them frequent visits from
the gunboats at Esquimault, and in several instances the undesirable
distinction of having their villages shelled when they refused to
give up the offenders--generally a difficult operation, since it meant
pretty well the entire village.


[Sidenote: John Jewitt and the capture of the "Boston" in 1803.]

But the most famous of all the piracies of the Western Indians is that
of which an account is contained in John Jewitt's Narrative. The
ostensible author of this work was a Hull blacksmith, the armourer of
the _Boston_, an American ship which was seized while lying in Nootka
Sound, and the entire crew massacred, with the exception of Jewitt, who
was spared owing to his skill as a mechanic being valuable to the
Indians, and John Thompson, the sail-maker, who, though left for dead,
recovered, and was saved by the tact of Jewitt in representing him to be
his father. This happened in March 1803, and from that date until the
20th of July 1805, these two men were kept in slavery to the chief
Maquenna or Moqulla, when they were freed by the arrival of the brig
_Lydia_ of Boston, Samuel Hill master. During this servitude, Jewitt,
who seems to have been a man of some education, kept a journal and
acquired the Aht language, though the style in which his book is written
shows that in preparing it for the press he had obtained the assistance
of a more practised writer than himself. Still, his work is a valuable
contribution to ethnology. For, omitting the brief but excellent
accounts by Cook and Meares, it is the earliest, and, with the exception
of Mr. Sproat's lecture, the fullest description of these Indians. It is
indeed the only one treating specially on the Nootka people, with whom
alone he had any minute acquaintance. Some of the habits he pictures are
now obsolete, or greatly modified, but others--it may be said the
greater number--are exactly as he notes them to have been eighty-six
years ago. Besides the internal evidences of its authenticity, the truth
of the adventures described was vouched for at the time by Jewitt's
companion in slavery; and though there is no absolute proof of its
credibility, it may not be uninteresting to state that, thirty years
ago, I conversed with an American sea captain, who, as a boy, distinctly
remembered Jewitt working as a blacksmith in the town of Middleton in
Connecticut. When the book was first published, in the year 1815,
several editions appeared in America, and at least two reprints were
called for in England, so that the Narrative enjoyed considerable
popularity in the first two decades of the century. Writing in 1840,
Robert Green Low, Librarian to the Department of State at Washington,
characterises it as "a simple and unpretending narrative, which will, no
doubt, in after centuries, be read with interest by the enlightened
people of North-West America." Again, in 1845, the same industrious,
though not always impartial, historian remarks that "this little book
has been frequently reprinted, and, though seldom found in libraries, is
much read by boys and seamen in the United States." As copies are now
seldom met with, this is no longer the case, though on our cruise in
1863 it was one of the well-thumbed little library of the traders, one
of whom had inherited it from William Edy Banfield, whose name has
already been mentioned (p. 25). This trader, for many years a well-known
man on the out-of-the-way parts of the coast, furnished a curious link
between Jewitt's time and our own. For an old Indian told him that he
had, as a boy, served in the family of a chief of Nootka, called
Klan-nin-itth, at the time when Jewitt and Thompson were in slavery; and
that he often assisted Jewitt in making spears, arrows, and other
weapons required for hostile expeditions. He said, further, that the
white slave generally accompanied his owner on visits which he paid to
the Ayhuttisaht, Ahousaht, and Klahoquaht chiefs. This old man
especially remembered Jewitt, who was a good-humoured fellow, often
reciting and singing in his own language for the amusement of the
tribesmen. He was described as a tall, well-made youth, with a mirthful
countenance, whose dress latterly consisted of nothing but a mantle of
cedar bark. Mr. Sproat, who obtained his information from the same
quarter that I did, adds that there was a long story of Jewitt's
courting, and finally abducting, the daughter of Waughclagh, the
Ahousaht chief. This incident in his career is not recorded by our
author, who, however, was married to a daughter of Upquesta, an
Ayhuttisaht Indian.

Apart, however, from Jewitt not caring to enlighten the decent-living
puritans of Connecticut too minutely regarding his youthful escapades,
it is not unlikely that Mr. Banfield's informant mixed up some
half-forgotten legends regarding another white man, who, seventeen years
before Jewitt's captivity, had voluntarily remained among these Nootka
Indians. This was a scapegrace named John M'Kay,[27] an Irishman, who,
after being in the East India Company's Service in some minor medical
capacity, shipped in 1785 on board the _Captain Cook_ as surgeon's mate,
and was left behind in Nootka Sound, in the hope that he would so
ingratiate himself with the natives, as to induce them to refuse furs to
any other traders except those with whom he was connected. This man
seems to have been an ignorant, untruthful braggart, who contradicted
himself in many important particulars. But entire credence may be given
to his statement that in a short time he sank into barbarism, becoming
as filthy as the dirtiest of his savage companions. For when Captain
Hanna saw him in August 1786, the natives had stripped him of his
clothes, and obliged him to adopt their dress and habits. He even
refused to leave, declaring that he had begun to relish dried fish and
whale oil--though, owing to a famine in the Sound, he got little of
either--and was well satisfied to stay for another year. After making
various excursions in the country about Nootka Sound, during which he
came to the conclusion that it was not a part of the American continent,
but a chain of detached islands, he gladly deserted his Indian wife, and
left with Captain Berkeley in 1787. To "preach, fight, and mend a
musket" seems to have been too much for this medical pluralist. His
further history I am unable to trace, though, for the sake of historical
roundness, it would have been interesting to believe that he was the
same M'Kay who twenty-four years later ended his career so terribly by
blowing up the _Tonquin_, with whose son I was well acquainted.

In all of these transactions the head chief of Nootka, or at least of
the Mooachahts, figures prominently. This was Maquenna or Moqulla
(Jewitt's Maquina), who, with his relative Wikananish, ruled over most
of the tribes from here to Nettinaht Inlet. He was a shifty savage,
endowed with no small mental ability, and, though at times capable of
acts which were almost generous, untrustworthy like most of his race,
and when offended ready for any act of vindictiveness. Wikananish was on
a visit to Maquenna when the _Discovery_ and _Resolution_ entered the
Sound, and among the relics which Maquenna kept for many years were a
brass mortar left by Cook, which in Meares's day was borne before the
chief as a portion of his regalia, and three "pieces of a brassy metal
formed like cricket bats," on which were the remains of the name and
arms of Sir Joseph Banks, and the date 1775--Banks, it may be
remembered, being the scientific companion of Cook. In every subsequent
voyage Maquenna figures, and not a few of the outrages committed on that
coast were due either to him or to his instigation. Some, like his
attempt to seize Hanna's vessel in 1785, are known from extraneous
sources, and others were boasted of by him to Jewitt. The last of his
proceedings of which history has left any record, is the murder of the
crew of the _Boston_ and the enslavement of Thompson and Jewitt, and in
the narrative of the latter we are afforded a final glimpse of this
notorious "King."[28]

[Sidenote: Changes since Jewitt's time.]

When I visited Nootka Sound in 1863, fifty-eight years had passed since
the captivity of the author of this book. In the interval many things
had happened. But though the Indians had altered in some respects, they
were perhaps less changed than almost any other savages in America since
the whites came in contact with them. Eighty-five years had passed since
Cook had careened his ships in Resolution Cove, and seventy since
Vancouver entered the Sound on his almost more notable voyage. Yet the
bricks from the blacksmith's forge, fresh and vitrified as if they had
been in contact with the fire only yesterday, were at times dug up from
among the rank herbage. The village in Friendly Cove--a spot which not a
few mariners found to be very unfriendly--differed in no way from the
picture in Cook's _Voyage_; and though some curio-hunting captain had no
doubt long ago carried off the mortar and emblazoned brasses, the
natives still spoke traditionally of Cook and Vancouver, and were ready
to point out the spots where in 1788 Meares built the _North-West
America_ and the white men had cultivated. Memories of Martinez and
Quadra existed in the shape of many legends, of Indians with Iberian
features, and of several old people who by tradition (though some of
them were old enough to have remembered these navigators), could still
repeat the Spanish numerals. And the head chief of the Mooachahts in
Friendly Cove--vastly smaller though his tribe was, and much abridged
his power--was a grandson of Maquenna, called by the same name, and had
many of his worst characteristics. This fact I am likely to remember.
For he had been accused of having murdered, in the previous January,
Captain Stev of the _Trader_, and since that time no whites had ventured
near him. He, however, assured us that the report was simply a scandal
raised by the neighbouring tribes, who had long hated him and his
people, and would like to see them punished by the arrival of a gunboat,
and that in reality the vessel was wrecked, and the white men were
drowned. At the same time, among the voices heard that night at the
council held in Maquenna's great lodge, supported by the huge beams
described by Jewitt, were some in favour of killing his latest visitors,
on the principle that dead men tell no tales. But that the Noes had it,
the present narrative is the best proof.

So far as their habits were concerned, they were in a condition as
primitive as at almost any period since the whites had visited them.
Many of the old people were covered only with a mantle of woven pine
bark, and beyond a shirt, in most cases made out of a flour sack, a
blanket was the sole garment of the majority of the tribesmen. At times
when they wanted to receive any goods, they simply pulled off the
blanket, wrapped up the articles in it, and went ashore stark naked,
with the exception of a piece of skin round the loins. The women wore
for the most part no other dress except the blanket and a curious apron
made of a fringe of bark strings. All of them painted hideously, the
women adding a streak of vermilion down the middle division of the hair,
and on high occasions the glittering mica sand, spoken of by Jewitt, was
called into requisition. Their customs--and I had plenty of
opportunities to study them in the course of the years which
followed--were in no way different from what they were in Cook's time.
No missionary seemed ever to have visited them, and their religious
observances were accordingly still the most unadulterated of paganism.
Jewitt's narrative is, however, as might have been expected, very vague
on such matters; and, curiously enough, he makes no mention of their
characteristic trait of compressing the foreheads of the children, the
tribes in Koskeemo Sound squeezing it, while the bones are still
cartilaginous, in a conical shape--though the brain is not thereby
permanently injured: it is simply displaced.

Since that day, the tribesmen of the west coast of Vancouver Island have
grown fewer and fewer. Some of the smaller septs have indeed become
extinct, and others must be fast on the wane. They have, however, eaten
of the tree of knowledge, and the gunboats have now little occasion to
visit them for punitive purposes. Missionaries have even attempted to
teach them better manners. The Alberni saw-mills have long been
deserted, though other settlers have taken possession of the ground, and
several have squatted in Koskeemo Sound, in the hope that the coal-seams
there might induce the Pacific steamers to make that remote region their
headquarters. Finally, an effort is being made to induce fishermen from
the West of Scotland to settle on that coast. There is plenty of work
for them, and the Indians nowadays are very little to be feared. Indeed,
so far from the successors of Moqulla and Wikananish menacing Donald and
Sandy, they will be ready to help them for a consideration; though a
great deal of tact and forbearance will be necessary before people so
conservative as the hot-tempered Celts work smoothly with a race quite
as fiery and quite as wedded to old ways, as the Ahts among whom John
Jewitt passed the early years of this century.

    R. B.


[1] _Rubus Nutkanus._

[2] _Rubus spectabilis._

[3] _Gaultheria Shallon._

[4] _Vaccinium ovatum._

[5] _Pyrus rivularis._

[6] _Ribes sanguineum_, now a common shrub in our ornamental grounds.

[7] _Echinopanax horridum._

[8] _Thuja gigantea_, a tree which to the Indian is what the bamboo is
to the Chinese.

[9] _Acer macrophyllum._

[10] _Cornus Nuttallii._

[11] _Arbutus Menziesii._

[12] _Selasphorus rufus._ It is one of one hundred and fifty-three birds
which I catalogued from Vancouver Island (_Ibis_, Nov. 1868).

[13] _Scenes and Studies of Savage Life_ (1868), by the Hon. G. M.
Sproat, late Commissioner of Indian Affairs for British Columbia.

[14] "Pachena" of the Indians.

[15] Or, as they call themselves in their dialect of the Aht,
"Dittinahts." Nettinaht is a white man's corruption.

[16] A few years earlier they were estimated at a thousand.

[17] "Klootis" of the Indians.

[18] Known to them as "Etlo."

[19] They were not permitted this privilege until the whites came to
Alberni in August 1860.

[20] Though the orthography of these names is often incorrect, and not
even phonetically accurate, I have, in order to avoid the mischief of a
confusion of nomenclature, kept to that of the Admiralty Chart.

[21] This was the Banfield who acted as Indian agent in Barclay Sound.
He was drowned by Kleetsak, a slave of Kleesheens, capsizing the canoe
in which he was sailing, in revenge for a slight passed upon the chief.
I went ashore at the Ohyaht village in the same canoe, and was asked
whether I was not afraid, "for Banipe was killed in it." There was also
a story that the capsize was an accident.

[22] It may be proper to state in this place that the interior details
of that chart are, with very few exceptions, from my explorations. But
the map on which they were laid down by me has been so often copied by
societies, governments, and private individuals without permission (and
without acknowledgment), that the author of it has long ceased to claim
a property so generally pillaged. The original, however, appeared, with
a memoir on the interior--"Das Innere der Vancouver Insel"--which has
not yet been translated, in Petermann's _Geographische Mittheilungen_,

[23] Or Berkeley--for the name is spelt both ways.

[24] Destruction Island, in lat. 47° 35'. This was almost the same spot
as that in which the Spaniards of Bodega's crew were massacred in 1775,
and for this reason they named it Isla de Dolores--the "Island of
Sorrows." It is in what is now the State of Washington, U.S.A.

[25] Green Low will even blame Wikananish, who figures in Jewitt's
narrative, as the instigator of the outrage.

[26] The Nahwitti Indians. Tlā-tlī-sī--Kwela and
Nekum-ke-līsla septs of the Kwakiool people. They now inhabit a
village named Meloopa, on the south-east side of Hope Island. But their
original hamlet was situated on a small rocky peninsula on the east side
of Cape Commerell, which forms the north point of Vancouver Island. Here
remains of old houses are still to be seen, at a place known to the
Indians as Nahwitti. It was close to this place that the _Tonquin_ was
blown up.--_Science_, vol. ix. p. 341.

[27] "Maccay" (Meares); "M'Key" (Dixon).

[28] There is a portrait of him, apparently authentic, in Meares's
_Voyages_, vol. ii. (1791). That in the original edition of Jewitt's
Narrative, like the plate of the capture of the _Boston_, appears to
have been drawn from description, though there is a certain resemblance
in it to Meares's sketch made fourteen or fifteen years earlier. But the
scenery, the canoes, the people, and, above all, the palm trees in
Nootka Sound, are purely imaginary.




I was born in Boston, a considerable borough town in Lincolnshire, in
Great Britain, on the 21st of May, 1783. My father, Edward Jewitt, was
by trade a blacksmith, and esteemed among the first in his line of
business in that place. At the age of three years I had the misfortune
to lose my mother, a most excellent woman, who died in childbed, leaving
an infant daughter, who, with myself, and an elder brother by a former
marriage of my father, constituted the whole of our family. My father,
who considered a good education as the greatest blessing he could bestow
on his children, was very particular in paying every attention to us in
that respect, always exhorting us to behave well, and endeavouring to
impress on our minds the principles of virtue and morality, and no
expense in his power was spared to have us instructed in whatever might
render us useful and respectable in society. My brother, who was four
years older than myself and of a more hardy constitution, he destined
for his own trade, but to me he had resolved to give an education
superior to that which is to be obtained in a common school, it being
his intention that I should adopt one of the learned professions.
Accordingly, at the age of twelve he took me from the school in which I
had been taught the first rudiments of learning, and placed me under the
care of Mr. Moses, a celebrated teacher of an academy at Donnington,
about eleven miles from Boston, in order to be instructed in the Latin
language, and in some of the higher branches of the mathematics. I there
made considerable proficiency in writing, reading, and arithmetic, and
obtained a pretty good knowledge of navigation and of surveying; but my
progress in Latin was slow, not only owing to the little inclination I
felt for learning that language, but to a natural impediment in my
speech, which rendered it extremely difficult for me to pronounce it, so
that in a short time, with my father's consent, I wholly relinquished
the study.

The period of my stay at this place was the most happy of my life. My
preceptor, Mr. Moses, was not only a learned, but a virtuous,
benevolent, and amiable man, universally beloved by his pupils, who took
delight in his instruction, and to whom he allowed every proper
amusement that consisted with attention to their studies.

One of the principal pleasures I enjoyed was in attending the fair,
which is regularly held twice a year at Donnington, in the spring and in
the fall,[29] the second day being wholly devoted to selling horses, a
prodigious number of which are brought thither for that purpose. As the
scholars on these occasions were always indulged with a holiday, I
cannot express with what eagerness of youthful expectation I used to
anticipate these fairs, nor what delight I felt at the various shows,
exhibitions of wild beasts, and other entertainments that they
presented; I was frequently visited by my father, who always discovered
much joy on seeing me, praised me for my acquirements, and usually left
me a small sum for my pocket expenses.

Among the scholars at this academy, there was one named Charles Rice,
with whom I formed a particular intimacy, which continued during the
whole of my stay. He was my class and room mate, and as the town he came
from, Ashby, was more than sixty miles off, instead of returning home,
he used frequently during the vacation to go with me to Boston, where he
always met with a cordial welcome from my father, who received me on
these occasions with the greatest affection, apparently taking much
pride in me. My friend in return used to take me with him to an uncle of
his in Donnington, a very wealthy man, who, having no children of his
own, was very fond of his nephew, and on his account I was always a
welcome visitor at the house. I had a good voice, and an ear for music,
to which I was always passionately attached, though my father
endeavoured to discourage this propensity, considering it (as is too
frequently the case) but an introduction to a life of idleness and
dissipation; and, having been remarked for my singing at church, which
was regularly attended on Sundays and festival days by the scholars, Mr.
Morthrop, my friend Rice's uncle, used frequently to request me to sing;
he was always pleased with my exhibitions of this kind, and it was no
doubt one of the means that secured me so gracious a reception at his
house. A number of other gentlemen in the place would sometimes send for
me to sing at their houses, and as I was not a little vain of my vocal
powers, I was much gratified on receiving these invitations, and
accepted them with the greatest pleasure.

Thus passed away the two happiest years of my life, when my father,
thinking that I had received a sufficient education for the profession
he intended me for, took me from school at Donnington in order to
apprentice me to Doctor Mason, a surgeon of eminence at Reasby, in the
neighbourhood of the celebrated Sir Joseph Banks.[30] With regret did I
part from my school acquaintance, particularly my friend Rice, and
returned home with my father, on a short visit to my family, preparatory
to my intended apprenticeship. The disinclination I ever had felt for
the profession my father wished me to pursue, was still further
increased on my return. When a child I was always fond of being in the
shop, among the workmen, endeavouring to imitate what I saw them do;
this disposition so far increased after my leaving the academy, that I
could not bear to hear the least mention made of my being apprenticed to
a surgeon, and I used so many entreaties with my father to persuade him
to give up this plan and learn me his own trade, that he at last

More fortunate would it probably have been for me, had I gratified the
wishes of this affectionate parent, in adopting the profession he had
chosen for me, than thus to have induced him to sacrifice them to mine.
However it might have been, I was at length introduced into the shop,
and my natural turn of mind corresponding with the employment, I became
in a short time uncommonly expert at the work to which I was set. I now
felt myself well contented, pleased with my occupation, and treated with
much affection by my father, and kindness by my step-mother, my father
having once more entered the state of matrimony, with a widow much
younger than himself, who had been brought up in a superior manner, and
was an amiable and sensible woman.

About a year after I had commenced this apprenticeship, my father,
finding that he could carry on his business to more advantage in Hull,
removed thither with his family. An event of no little importance to me,
as it in a great measure influenced my future destiny. Hull being one of
the best ports in England, and a place of great trade, my father had
there full employment for his numerous workmen, particularly in vessel
work. This naturally leading me to an acquaintance with the sailors on
board some of the ships: the many remarkable stories they told me of
their voyages and adventures, and of the manners and customs of the
nations they had seen, excited a strong wish in me to visit foreign
countries, which was increased by my reading the voyages of Captain
Cook, and some other celebrated navigators.

Thus passed the four years that I lived at Hull, where my father was
esteemed by all who knew him, as a worthy, industrious, and thriving
man. At this period a circumstance occurred which afforded me the
opportunity I had for some time wished, of gratifying my inclination of
going abroad.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among our principal customers at Hull were the Americans who frequented
that port, and from whose conversation my father as well as myself
formed the most favourable opinion of that country, as affording an
excellent field for the exertions of industry, and a flattering prospect
for the establishment of a young man in life. In the summer of the year
1802, during the peace between England and France, the ship _Boston_,
belonging to Boston, in Massachusetts, and commanded by Captain John
Salter, arrived at Hull, whither she came to take on board a cargo of
such goods as were wanted for the trade with the Indians, on the
North-West coast of America, from whence, after having taken in a lading
of furs and skins, she was to proceed to China, and from thence home to
America. The ship having occasion for many repairs and alterations,
necessary for so long a voyage, the captain applied to my father to do
the smith's work, which was very considerable. That gentleman, who was
of a social turn, used often to call at my father's house, where he
passed many of his evenings, with his chief and second mates, Mr. B.
Delouisa and Mr. William Ingraham,[31] the latter a fine young man of
about twenty, of a most amiable temper, and of such affable manners, as
gained him the love and attachment of the whole crew. These gentlemen
used occasionally to take me with them to the theatre, an amusement
which I was very fond of, and which my father rather encouraged than
objected to, as he thought it a good means of preventing young men, who
are naturally inclined to seek for something to amuse them, from
frequenting taverns, ale-houses, and places of bad resort, equally
destructive of the health and morals, while the stage frequently
furnishes excellent lessons of morality and good conduct.

In the evenings that he passed at my father's, Captain Salter, who had
for a great number of years been at sea, and seen almost all parts of
the world, used sometimes to speak of his voyages, and, observing me
listen with much attention to his relations, he one day, when I had
brought him some work, said to me in rather a jocose manner, "John, how
should you like to go with me?" I answered, that it would give me great
pleasure, that I had for a long time wished to visit foreign countries,
particularly America, which I had been told so many fine stories of, and
that if my father would give his consent, and he was willing to take me
with him, I would go.

"I shall be very glad to do it," said he, "if your father can be
prevailed on to let you go; and as I want an expert smith for an
armourer, the one I have shipped for that purpose not being sufficiently
master of his trade, I have no doubt that you will answer my turn well,
as I perceive you are both active and ingenious, and on my return to
America I shall probably be able to do something much better for you in
Boston. I will take the first opportunity of speaking to your father
about it, and try to persuade him to consent." He accordingly, the next
evening that he called at our house, introduced the subject: my father
at first would not listen to the proposal. That best of parents, though
anxious for my advantageous establishment in life, could not bear to
think of parting with me, but on Captain Salter's telling him of what
benefit it would be to me to go the voyage with him, and that it was a
pity to keep a promising and ingenious young fellow like myself confined
to a small shop in England, when if I had tolerable success I might do
so much better in America, where wages were much higher and living
cheaper, he at length gave up his objections, and consented that I
should ship on board the _Boston_ as an armourer, at the rate of thirty
dollars per month, with an agreement that the amount due to me, together
with a certain sum of money, which my father gave Captain Salter for
that purpose, should be laid out by him on the North-West coast in the
purchase of furs for my account, to be disposed of in China for such
goods as would yield a profit on the return of the ship; my father being
solicitous to give me every advantage in his power of well establishing
myself in my trade in Boston, or some other maritime town of America.
Such were the flattering expectations which this good man indulged
respecting me. Alas! the fatal disaster that befell us, not only blasted
all these hopes, but involved me in extreme distress and wretchedness
for a long period after.

The ship, having undergone a thorough repair and been well coppered,
proceeded to take on board her cargo, which consisted of English cloths,
Dutch blankets, looking-glasses, beads, knives, razors, etc., which
were received from Holland, some sugar and molasses, about twenty
hogsheads of rum, including stores for the ship, a great quantity of
ammunition, cutlasses, pistols, and three thousand muskets and
fowling-pieces. The ship being loaded and ready for sea, as I was
preparing for my departure, my father came to me, and, taking me aside,
said to me with much emotion, "John, I am now going to part with you,
and Heaven only knows if we shall ever again meet. But in whatever part
of the world you are, always bear it in mind, that on your own conduct
will depend your success in life. Be honest, industrious, frugal, and
temperate, and you will not fail, in whatsoever country it may be your
lot to be placed, to gain yourself friends. Let the Bible be your guide,
and your reliance in any fortune that may befall you, that Almighty
Being, who knows how to bring forth good from evil, and who never
deserts those who put their trust in Him." He repeated his exhortations
to me to lead an honest and Christian life, and to recollect that I had
a father, a mother, a brother, and sister, who could not but feel a
strong interest in my welfare, enjoining me to write him by the first
opportunity that should offer to England, from whatever part of the
world I might be in, more particularly on my arrival in Boston. This I
promised to do, but long unhappily was it before I was able to fulfil
this promise. I then took an affectionate leave of my worthy parent,
whose feelings would hardly permit him to speak, and, bidding an
affectionate farewell to my brother, sister, and step-mother, who
expressed the greatest solicitude for my future fortune, went on board
the ship, which proceeded to the Downs, to be ready for the first
favourable wind. I found myself well accommodated on board as regarded
my work, an iron forge having been erected on deck; this my father had
made for the ship on a new plan, for which he afterwards obtained a
patent; while a corner of the steerage was appropriated to my
vice-bench, so that in bad weather I could work below.


[29] These fairs are still held, though the dates are now May 26th,
September 4th, and October 27th.

[30] The companion of Cook, and for many years President of the Royal

[31] This William Ingraham must not be confounded with Joseph Ingraham,
who also visited Nootka Sound, and played a considerable part in the
exploration of the North-West American coast.



On the third day of September, 1802, we sailed from the Downs with a
fair wind, in company with twenty-four sail of American vessels, most of
which were bound home.

I was sea-sick for a few of the first days, but it was of short
continuance, and on my recovery I found myself in uncommonly fine health
and spirits, and went to work with alacrity at my forge, in putting in
order some of the muskets, and making daggers, knives, and small
hatchets for the Indian trade, while in wet and stormy weather I was
occupied below in filing and polishing them. This was my employment,
having but little to do with sailing the vessel, though I used
occasionally to lend a hand in assisting the seamen in taking in and
making sail.

As I had never before been out of sight of land, I cannot describe my
sensations, after I had recovered from the distressing effects of
sea-sickness, on viewing the mighty ocean by which I was surrounded,
bound only by the sky, while its waves, rising in mountains, seemed
every moment to threaten our ruin. Manifest as is the hand of Providence
in preserving its creatures from destruction, in no instance is it more
so than on the great deep; for whether we consider in its tumultuary
motions the watery deluge that each moment menaces to overwhelm us, the
immense violence of its shocks, the little that interposes between us
and death, a single plank forming our only security, which, should it
unfortunately be loosened, would plunge us at once into the abyss, our
gratitude ought strongly to be excited towards that superintending Deity
who in so wonderful a manner sustains our lives amid the waves.

We had a pleasant and favourable passage of twenty-nine days to the
Island of St. Catherine,[32] on the coast of Brazils, where the captain
had determined to stop for a few days to wood and water. This place
belongs to the Portuguese. On entering the harbour, we were saluted by
the fort, which we returned. The next day the governor of the island
came on board of us with his suite; Captain Salter received him with
much respect, and invited him to dine with him, which he accepted. The
ship remained at St. Catherine's four days, during which time we were
busily employed in taking in wood, water, and fresh provisions, Captain
Salter thinking it best to furnish himself here with a full supply for
his voyage to the North-West coast, so as not to be obliged to stop at
the Sandwich Islands. St. Catherine's is a very commodious place for
vessels to stop at that are bound round Cape Horn, as it abounds with
springs of fine water, with excellent oranges, plantains, and bananas.

Having completed our stores, we put to sea, and on the twenty-fifth of
December, at length passed Cape Horn, which we had made no less than
thirty-six days before, but were repeatedly forced back by contrary
winds, experiencing very rough and tempestuous weather in doubling it.

Immediately after passing Cape Horn, all our dangers and difficulties
seemed to be at an end; the weather became fine, and so little labour
was necessary on board the ship, that the men soon recovered from their
fatigue and were in excellent spirits. A few days after we fell in with
an English South Sea whaling ship homeward bound,[33] which was the only
vessel we spoke with on our voyage. We now took the trade wind or
monsoon, during which we enjoyed the finest weather possible, so that
for the space of a fortnight we were not obliged to reeve a topsail or
to make a tack, and so light was the duty and easy the life of the
sailors during this time, that they appeared the happiest of any people
in the world.

Captain Salter, who had been for many years in the East India trade, was
a most excellent seaman, and preserved the strictest order and
discipline on board his ship, though he was a man of mild temper and
conciliating manners, and disposed to allow every indulgence to his men,
not inconsistent with their duty. We had on board a fine band of music,
with which on Saturday nights, when the weather was pleasant, we were
accustomed to be regaled, the captain ordering them to play for several
hours for the amusement of the crew. This to me was most delightful,
especially during the serene evenings we experienced in traversing the
Southern Ocean. As for myself, during the day I was constantly occupied
at my forge, in refitting or repairing some of the ironwork of the
vessel, but principally in making tomahawks, daggers, etc., for the
North-West coast.

During the first part of our voyage we saw scarcely any fish, excepting
some whales, a few sharks, and flying fish; but after weathering Cape
Horn we met with numerous shoals of sea porpoises, several of whom we
caught, and as we had been for some time without fresh provisions, I
found it not only a palatable, but really a very excellent food. To one
who has never before seen them, a shoal of these fish[34] presents a
very striking and singular appearance; beheld at a distance coming
towards a vessel, they look not unlike a great number of small black
waves rolling over one another in a confused manner, and approaching
with great swiftness. As soon as a shoal is seen, all is bustle and
activity on board the ship, the grains and the harpoons are immediately
got ready, and those who are best skilled in throwing them take their
stand at the bow and along the gunwale, anxiously awaiting the welcome
troop as they come, gambolling and blowing around the vessel, in search
of food. When pierced with the harpoon and drawn on board, unless the
fish is instantly killed by the stroke, which rarely happens, it utters
most pitiful cries, greatly resembling those of an infant. The flesh,
cut into steaks and broiled, is not unlike very coarse beef, and the
harslet in appearance and taste is so much like that of a hog, that it
would be no easy matter to distinguish the one from the other; from this
circumstance the sailors have given the name of the herring hog[35] to
this fish. I was told by some of the crew, that if one of them happens
to free itself from the grains or harpoons, when struck, all the others,
attracted by the blood, immediately quit the ship and give chase to the
wounded one, and as soon as they overtake it, immediately tear it in
pieces. We also caught a large shark, which had followed the ship for
several days, with a hook which I made for the purpose, and although the
flesh was by no means equal to that of the herring hog, yet to those
destitute as we were of anything fresh, I found it eat very well. After
passing the Cape, when the sea had become calm, we saw great numbers of
albatrosses, a large brown and white bird of the goose kind, one of
which Captain Salter shot, whose wings measured from their extremities
fifteen feet. One thing, however, I must not omit mentioning, as it
struck me in a most singular and extraordinary manner. This was, that on
passing Cape Horn in December, which was midsummer in that climate, the
nights were so light, without any moon, that we found no difficulty
whatever in reading small print, which we frequently did during our


[32] Santa Catharina.

[33] This is now, so far as Great Britain is concerned, a reminiscence
of a vanished trade: the South Sea whaling is extinct.

[34] The zoological reader does not require to be told that the
porpoise, a very general term applied by sailors to many small species
of cetaceans, is not a "fish."

[35] _Porc poisson_ of the French, of which porpoise is simply a



In this manner, with a fair wind and easy weather from the 28th of
December, the period of our passing Cape Horn, we pursued our voyage to
the northward until the 12th of March, 1803, when we made Woody Point in
Nootka Sound, on the North-West coast of America. We immediately stood
up the Sound for Nootka, where[36] Captain Salter had determined to
stop, in order to supply the ship with wood and water before proceeding
up the coast to trade. But in order to avoid the risk of any molestation
or interruption to his men from the Indians while thus employed, he
proceeded with the ship about five miles to the northward of the
village, which is situated on Friendly Cove, and sent out his chief mate
with several of the crew in the boat to find a good place for anchoring
her. After sounding for some time, they returned with information that
they had discovered a secure place for anchorage, on the western side of
an inlet or small bay, at about half a mile from the coast, near a small
island which protected it from the sea, and where there was plenty of
wood and excellent water. The ship accordingly came to anchor in this
place, at twelve o'clock at night, in twelve fathom water, muddy bottom,
and so near the shore that to prevent the ship from winding we secured
her by a hawser to the trees.

On the morning of the next day, the 13th, several of the natives came on
board in a canoe from the village of Nootka, with their king, called
Maquina, who appeared much pleased on seeing us, and with great seeming
cordiality welcomed Captain Salter and his officers to his country. As I
had never before beheld a savage of any nation, it may readily be
supposed that the novelty of their appearance, so different from any
people that I had hitherto seen, excited in me strong feelings of
surprise and curiosity. I was, however, particularly struck with the
looks of their king, who was a man of a dignified aspect, about six feet
in height and extremely straight and well proportioned; his features
were in general good, and his face was rendered remarkable by a large
Roman nose, a very uncommon form of feature among these people; his
complexion was of a dark copper hue, though his face, legs, and arms
were, on this occasion, so covered with red paint, that their natural
colour could scarcely be perceived; his eyebrows were painted black in
two broad stripes like a new moon, and his long black hair, which shone
with oil, was fastened in a bunch on the top of his head and strewed or
powdered all over with white down, which gave him a most curious and
extraordinary appearance. He was dressed in a large mantle or cloak of
the black sea-otter skin, which reached to his knees, and was fastened
around his middle by a broad belt of the cloth of the country, wrought
or painted with figures of several colours; this dress was by no means
unbecoming, but, on the contrary, had an air of savage magnificence. His
men were habited in mantles of the same cloth, which is made from the
bark of a tree,[37] and has some resemblance to straw matting; these are
nearly square, and have two holes in the upper part large enough to
admit the arms; they reach as low as the knees, and are fastened round
their bodies with a belt about four inches broad of the same cloth.

From his having frequently visited the English and American ships that
traded to the coast, Maquina had learned the signification of a number
of English words, and in general could make himself pretty well
understood by us in our own language. He was always the first to go on
board such ships as came to Nootka, which he was much pleased in
visiting, even when he had no trade to offer, as he always received some
small present, and was in general extremely well treated by the
commanders. He remained on board of us for some time, during which the
captain took him into the cabin and treated him with a glass of
rum--these people being very fond of distilled spirits--and some biscuit
and molasses, which they prefer to any kind of food that we can offer

As there are seldom many furs to be purchased at this place, and it was
not fully the season, Captain Salter had put in here not so much with an
expectation of trading, as to procure an ample stock of wood and water
for the supply of the ship on the coast, thinking it more prudent to
take it on board at Nootka, from the generally friendly disposition of
the people, than to endanger the safety of his men in sending them on
shore for that purpose among the more ferocious natives of the north.

With this view, we immediately set about getting our water-casks in
readiness, and the next and two succeeding days, part of the crew were
sent on shore to cut pine timber, and assist the carpenter in making it
into yards and spars for the ship, while those on board were employed in
refitting the rigging, repairing the sails, etc., when we proceeded to
take in our wood and water as expeditiously as possible, during which
time I kept myself busily employed in repairing the muskets, making
knives, tomaxes,[39] etc., and doing such ironwork as was wanted for the

Meantime more or less of the natives came on board of us daily, bringing
with them fresh salmon, with which they supplied us in great plenty,
receiving in return some trifling articles. Captain Salter was always
very particular, before admitting these people on board, to see that
they had no arms about them, by obliging them indiscriminately to throw
off their garments, so that he felt perfectly secure from any attack.

On the 15th the king came on board with several of his chiefs; he was
dressed as before in his magnificent otter-skin robe, having his face
highly painted, and his hair tossed with the white down, which looked
like snow. His chiefs were dressed in mantles of the country cloth of
its natural colour, which is a pale yellow; these were ornamented with a
broad border, painted or wrought in figures of several colours,
representing men's heads, various animals, etc., and secured around them
by a belt like that of the king, from which it was distinguished only by
being narrower: the dress of the common people is of the same fashion,
and differs from that of the chiefs in being of a coarser texture, and
painted red, of one uniform colour.

Captain Salter invited Maquina and his chiefs to dine with him, and it
was curious to see how these people (when they eat) seat themselves (in
their country fashion, upon our chairs) with their feet under them
crossed like Turks. They cannot endure the taste of salt, and the only
thing they would eat with us was the ship bread, which they were very
fond of, especially when dipped in molasses; they had also a great
liking for tea and coffee when well sweetened. As iron weapons and tools
of almost every kind are in much request among them, whenever they came
on board they were always very attentive to me, crowding around me at
the forge, as if to see in what manner I did my work, and in this way
became quite familiar, a circumstance, as will be seen in the end, of
great importance to me. The salmon which they brought us furnished a
most delicious treat to men who for a long time had lived wholly on
salt provisions, excepting such few sea fish as we had the good fortune
occasionally to take. We indeed feasted most luxuriously, and flattered
ourselves that we should not want while on the coast for plenty of fresh
provisions, little imagining the fate that awaited us, and that this
dainty food was to prove the unfortunate lure to our destruction!

On the 19th the king came again on board, and was invited by the captain
to dine with him. He had much conversation with Captain Salter, and
informed him that there were plenty of wild ducks and geese near
Friendly Cove, on which the captain made him a present of a
double-barrelled fowling-piece, with which he appeared to be greatly
pleased, and soon after went on shore.

On the 20th we were nearly ready for our departure, having taken in what
wood and water we were in want of.

The next day Maquina came on board with nine pair of wild ducks, as a
present; at the same time he brought with him the gun, one of the locks
of which he had broken, telling the captain that it was _peshak_,[40]
that is, bad. Captain Salter was very much offended at this observation,
and, considering it as a mark of contempt for his present, he called the
king a liar, adding other opprobrious terms, and, taking the gun from
him, tossed it indignantly into the cabin, and, calling me to him, said,
"John, this fellow has broken this beautiful fowling-piece, see if you
can mend it." On examining it, I told him that it could be done. As I
have already observed, Maquina knew a number of English words, and
unfortunately understood but too well the meaning of the reproachful
terms that the captain addressed to him. He said not a word in reply,
but his countenance sufficiently expressed the rage he felt, though he
exerted himself to suppress it, and I observed him, while the captain
was speaking, repeatedly put his hand to his throat, and rub it upon his
bosom, which he afterwards told me was to keep down his heart, which was
rising into his throat and choking him. He soon after went on shore with
his men, evidently much discomposed.

On the morning of the 22nd the natives came off to us as usual with
salmon, and remained on board; when about noon Maquina came alongside,
with a considerable number of his chiefs and men in their canoes, who,
after going through the customary examination, were admitted into the
ship. He had a whistle in his hand, and over his face a very ugly mask
of wood, representing the head of some wild beast, appeared to be
remarkably good-humoured and gay, and whilst his people sang and capered
about the deck, entertaining us with a variety of antic trick and
gestures, he blew his whistle to a kind of tune which seemed to regulate
their motions. As Captain Salter was walking on the quarter-deck,
amusing himself with their dancing, the king came up to him and inquired
when he intended to go to sea? He answered, "To-morrow." Maquina then
said, "You love salmon--much in Friendly Cove, why not go there and
catch some?" The captain thought that it would be very desirable to have
a good supply of these fish for the voyage, and, on consulting with Mr.
Delouisa, it was agreed to send part of the crew on shore after dinner
with the seine, in order to procure a quantity. Maquina and his chiefs
stayed and dined on board, and after dinner the chief mate went off with
nine men in the jolly-boat and yawl, to fish at Friendly Cove, having
set the steward on shore at our watering place, to wash the captain's

Shortly after the departure of the boats, I went down to my vice-bench
in the steerage, where I was employed in cleaning muskets. I had not
been there more than an hour, when I heard the men hoisting in the
longboat, which, in a few minutes after, was succeeded by a great bustle
and confusion on deck. I immediately ran up the steerage stairs, but
scarcely was my head above deck, when I was caught by the hair by one of
the savages, and lifted from my feet; fortunately for me, my hair being
short, and the ribbon with which it was tied slipping, I fell from his
hold into the steerage. As I was falling he struck at me with an axe,
which cut a deep gash in my forehead, and penetrated the skull, but in
consequence of his losing his hold I luckily escaped the full force of
the blow, which otherwise would have cleft my head in two. I fell,
stunned and senseless, upon the floor; how long I continued in this
situation I know not, but on recovering my senses, the first thing that
I did was to try to get up, but so weak was I, from the loss of blood,
that I fainted and fell. I was, however, soon recalled to my
recollection by three loud shouts or yells from the savages, which
convinced me that they had got possession of the ship. It is impossible
for me to describe my feelings at this terrific sound. Some faint idea
may be formed of them by those who have known what it is to half waken
from a hideous dream and still think it real. Never, no, never shall I
lose from my mind the impression of that dreadful moment. I expected
every instant to share the wretched fate of my unfortunate companions,
and when I heard the song of triumph, by which these infernal yells was
succeeded, my blood ran cold in my veins.

Having at length sufficiently recovered my senses to look around me,
after wiping the blood from my eyes, I saw that the hatch of the
steerage was shut. This was done, as I afterwards discovered, by order
of Maquina, who, on seeing the savage strike at me with the axe, told
him not to hurt me, for that I was the armourer, and would be useful to
them in repairing their arms; while at the same time, to prevent any of
his men from injuring me, he had the hatch closed. But to me this
circumstance wore a very different appearance, for I thought that these
barbarians had only prolonged my life in order to deprive me of it by
the most cruel tortures.

I remained in this horrid state of suspense for a very long time, when
at length the hatch was opened, and Maquina, calling me by name, ordered
me to come up. I groped my way up as well as I was able, being almost
blinded with the blood that flowed from my wound, and so weak as with
difficulty to walk. The king, on perceiving my situation, ordered one of
his men to bring a pot of water to wash the blood from my face, which
having done, I was able to see distinctly with one of my eyes, but the
other was so swollen from my wound, that it was closed. But what a
terrific spectacle met my eyes: six naked savages, standing in a circle
around me, covered with the blood of my murdered comrades, with their
daggers uplifted in their hands, prepared to strike. I now thought my
last moment had come, and recommended my soul to my Maker.

The king, who, as I have already observed, knew enough of English to
make himself understood, entered the circle, and, placing himself before
me, addressed me nearly in the following words: "John--I speak--you no
say no; You say no--daggers come!" He then asked me if I would be his
slave during my life--if I would fight for him in his battles, if I
would repair his muskets and make daggers and knives for him--with
several other questions, to all of which I was careful to answer, yes.
He then told me that he would spare my life, and ordered me to kiss his
hands and feet to show my submission to him, which I did. In the
meantime his people were very clamorous to have me put to death, so that
there should be none of us left to tell our story to our countrymen, and
prevent them from coming to trade with them; but the king in the most
determined manner opposed their wishes, and to his favour am I wholly
indebted for my being yet among the living.

As I was busy at work at the time of the attack, I was without my coat,
and what with the coldness of the weather, my feebleness from loss of
blood, the pain of my wound, and the extreme agitation and terror that I
still felt, I shook like a leaf, which the king observing, went into the
cabin, and, bringing up a greatcoat that belonged to the captain, threw
it over my shoulders, telling me to drink some rum from a bottle which
he handed me, at the same time giving me to understand that it would be
good for me, and keep me from trembling bling as I did. I took a
draught of it, after which, taking me by the hand, he led me to the
quarter-deck, where the most horrid sight presented itself that ever my
eyes witnessed. The heads of our unfortunate captain and his crew, to
the number of twenty-five, were all arranged in a line,[41] and Maquina,
ordering one of his people to bring a head, asked me whose it was: I
answered, the captain's. In like manner the others were showed me, and I
told him the names, excepting a few that were so horribly mangled that I
was not able to recognise them.

I now discovered that all our unfortunate crew had been massacred, and
learned that, after getting possession of the ship, the savages had
broke open the arm-chest and magazine, and, supplying themselves with
ammunition and arms, sent a party on shore to attack our men, who had
gone thither to fish, and, being joined by numbers from the village,
without difficulty overpowered and murdered them, and, cutting off their
heads, brought them on board, after throwing their bodies into the sea.
On looking upon the deck, I saw it entirely covered with the blood of my
poor comrades, whose throats had been cut with their own jack-knives,
the savages having seized the opportunity, while they were busy in
hoisting in the boat, to grapple with them, and overpower them by their
numbers; in the scuffle the captain was thrown overboard, and despatched
by those in the canoes, who immediately cut off his head. What I felt on
this occasion, may be more readily conceived than expressed.

After I had answered his questions, Maquina took my silk handkerchief
from my neck and bound it around my head, placing over the wound a leaf
of tobacco, of which we had a quantity on board. This was done at my
desire, as I had often found, from personal experience, the benefit of
this application to cuts.

Maquina then ordered me to get the ship under weigh for Friendly Cove.
This I did by cutting the cables, and sending some of the natives aloft
to loose the sails, which they performed in a very bungling manner. But
they succeeded so far in loosing the jib and top-sails, that, with the
advantage of fair wind, I succeeded in getting the ship into the Cove,
where, by order of the king, I ran her ashore on a sandy beach, at eight
o'clock at night.


[36] By "Nootka," Friendly Cove, or "Yucuaht," is meant; there is no
special place of that name; the word, indeed, is unknown to the natives.
Woody Point, or Cape Cook, is in lat. 50° 6' 31" N.

[37] The white pine (_Pinus monticola_). This is employed for making
blankets trimmed with sea-otter fur, but the mats used in their canoes
are made of cedar bark (_Thuja gigantea_).

[38] This is still true. Many years ago, when there was a threat of
Indian trouble at Victoria, Sir James Douglas, famous as the first
governor of British Columbia, and still more celebrated as a factor of
the Hudson Bay Company, immediately allayed the rising storm by ordering
a keg of treacle and a box of biscuit to be opened. Instantly the knives
and muskets were tossed aside, and the irate savages fell to these
homely dainties with the best of goodwill to all concerned. "Dear me!
dear me! there is nothing like a little molasses," was the sage
governor's remark. At the Alberni saw-mills, on the West coast, the
invariable midday meal of the Indians loading lumber was coarse ship's
biscuit dipped in a tin basin of the cheapest treacle, around which the
mollified tribesmen squatted.

[39] Tomahawks (little hatchets) in more familiar language.

[40] _Pesh-shuak, Wikoo_, or _Chuuk_ is also used in the same sense, but
the first word is most frequently employed.

[41] The Indians of the North-West coast and the wooded region protected
by the great rivers always take heads as trophies. The heads are
subsequently fixed on poles in front of their cedar-board lodges. The
prairie Indians and the tribes east of the Rocky Mountains generally
take, and always took, scalps alone, owing, perhaps, to the difficulty
of carrying heads. This is no obstacle to fighting men travelling in
canoes, on the bows of which they are often fastened while the warriors
are returning from hostile expeditions.



We were received by the inhabitants of the village, men, women, and
children, with loud shouts of joy, and a most horrible drumming with
sticks upon the roofs and sides of their houses,[42] in which they had
also stuck a great number of lighted pine torches, to welcome their
king's return, and congratulate him on the success of his enterprise.

Maquina then took me on shore to his house, which was very large, and
filled with people--where I was received with much kindness by the
women, particularly those belonging to the king, who had no less than
nine wives, all of whom came around me, expressing much sympathy for my
misfortune, gently stroking and patting my head in an encouraging and
soothing manner, with words expressive of condolence. How sweet is
compassion even from savages! Those who have been in a similar
situation, can alone truly appreciate its value.

In the meantime all the warriors of the tribe, to the number of five
hundred,[43] had assembled at the king's house, to rejoice for their
success. They exulted greatly in having taken our ship, and each one
boasted of his own particular exploits in killing our men, but they were
in general much dissatisfied with my having been suffered to live, and
were very urgent with Maquina to deliver me to them, to be put to death,
which he obstinately refused to do, telling them that he had promised me
my life, and would not break his word; and that, besides, I knew how to
repair and to make arms, and should be of great use to them.

The king then seated me by him, and ordered his women to bring him
something to eat, when they set before him some dried clams and
train-oil, of which he ate very heartily, and encouraged me to follow
his example, telling me to eat much, and take a great deal of oil, which
would make me strong and fat. Notwithstanding his praise of this new
kind of food, I felt no disposition to indulge in it, both the smell and
taste being loathsome to me; and had it been otherwise, such was the
pain I endured, the agitation of my mind, and the gloominess of my
reflections, that I should have felt very little inclination for eating.

Not satisfied with his first refusal to deliver me up to them, the
people again became clamorous that Maquina should consent to my being
killed, saying that not one of us ought to be left alive to give
information to others of our countrymen, and prevent them from coming to
trade, or induce them to revenge the destruction of our ship, and they
at length became so boisterous, that he caught up a large club in a
passion, and drove them all out of the house. During this scene, a son
of the king, about eleven years old, attracted no doubt by the
singularity of my appearance, came up to me: I caressed him; he returned
my attentions with much apparent pleasure, and considering this as a
fortunate opportunity to gain the good will of the father, I took the
child on my knee, and, cutting the metal buttons from off the coat I had
on, I tied them around his neck. At this he was highly delighted, and
became so much attached to me, that he would not quit me.

The king appeared much pleased with my attention to his son, and,
telling me that it was time to go to sleep, directed me to lie with his
son next to him, as he was afraid lest some of his people would come
while he was asleep and kill me with their daggers. I lay down as he
ordered me, but neither the state of my mind nor the pain I felt would
allow me to sleep.

About midnight I was greatly alarmed by the approach of one of the
natives, who came to give information to the king that there was one of
the white men alive, who had knocked him down as he went on board the
ship at night. This Maquina communicated to me, giving me to understand
that as soon as the sun rose he should kill him. I endeavoured to
persuade him to spare his life, but he bade me be silent and go to
sleep. I said nothing more, but lay revolving in my mind what method I
could devise to save the life of this man. What a consolation, thought
I, what a happiness would it prove to me in my forlorn state among
these heathens, to have a Christian and one of my own countrymen for a
companion, and how greatly would it alleviate and lighten the burden of
my slavery.

As I was thinking of some plan for his preservation, it all at once came
into my mind that this man was probably the sail-maker of the ship,
named Thompson, as I had not seen his head among those on deck, and knew
that he was below at work upon sails not long before the attack. The
more I thought of it, the more probable it appeared to me, and as
Thompson was a man nearly forty years of age, and had an old look, I
conceived it would be easy to make him pass for my father, and by this
means prevail on Maquina to spare his life. Towards morning I fell into
a dose, but was awakened with the first beams of the sun by the king,
who told me he was going to kill the man who was on board the ship, and
ordered me to accompany him. I rose and followed him, leading with me
the young prince, his son.

On coming to the beach, I found all the men of the tribe assembled. The
king addressed them, saying that one of the white men had been found
alive on board the ship, and requested their opinion as to saving his
life or putting him to death. They were unanimously for the latter. This
determination he made known to me. Having arranged my plan, I asked him,
pointing to the boy, whom I still held by the hand, if he loved his son.
He answered that he did. I then asked the child if he loved his father,
and on his replying in the affirmative, I said, "And I also love mine."
I then threw myself on my knees at Maquina's feet, and implored him,
with tears in my eyes, to spare my father's life, if the man on board
should prove to be him, telling him that if he killed my father, it was
my wish that he should kill me too, and that if he did not, I would kill
myself--and that he would thus lose my services; whereas, by sparing my
father's life, he would preserve mine, which would be of great advantage
to him, by my repairing and making arms for him.

Maquina appeared moved by my entreaties, and promised not to put the man
to death if he should be my father. He then explained to his people what
I had said, and ordered me to go on board and tell the man to come on
shore. To my unspeakable joy, on going into the hold, I found that my
conjecture was true. Thompson was there. He had escaped without any
injury, excepting a slight wound in the nose, given him by one of the
savages with a knife, as he attempted to come on deck, during the
scuffle. Finding the savages in possession of the ship, as he afterwards
informed me, he secreted himself in the hold, hoping for some chance to
make his escape; but that, the Indian who came on board in the night
approaching the place where he was, he supposed himself discovered, and,
being determined to sell his life as dearly as possible, as soon as he
came within his reach, he knocked him down, but the Indian, immediately
springing up, ran off at full speed.

I informed him, in a few words, that all our men had been killed; that
the king had preserved my life, and had consented to spare his on the
supposition that he was my father, an opinion which he must be careful
not to undeceive them in, as it was his only safety. After giving him
his cue, I went on shore with him, and presented him to Maquina, who
immediately knew him to be the sail-maker, and was much pleased,
observing that he could make sails for his canoe. He then took us to his
house, and ordered something for us to eat.

On the 24th and 25th, the natives were busily employed in taking the
cargo out of the ship, stripping her of her sails and rigging, cutting
away the spars and masts, and, in short, rendering her as complete a
wreck as possible, the muskets, ammunition, cloth, and all the principal
articles taken from her, being deposited in the king's house.

While they were thus occupied, each one taking what he liked, my
companion and myself being obliged to aid them, I thought it best to
secure the accounts and papers of the ship, in hopes that on some future
day I might have it in my power to restore them to the owners. With this
view I took possession of the captain's writing-desk, which contained
the most of them, together with some paper and implements for writing. I
had also the good fortune to find a blank account-book, in which I
resolved, should it be permitted me, to write an account of our capture,
and the most remarkable occurrences that I should meet with during my
stay among these people, fondly indulging the hope that it would not be
long before some vessel would arrive to release us. I likewise found in
the cabin a small volume of sermons, a Bible, and a Common Prayer-book
of the Church of England, which furnished me and my comrade great
consolation in the midst of our mournful servitude, and enabled me,
under the favour of Divine Providence, to support with firmness the
miseries of a life which I might otherwise have found beyond my
strength to endure.

As these people set no value upon things of this kind, I found no
difficulty in appropriating them to myself, by putting them in my chest,
which, though it had been broken open and rifled by the savages, as I
still had the key, I without much difficulty secured. In this I also put
some small tools belonging to the ship, with several other articles,
particularly a journal kept by the second mate, Mr. Ingraham, and a
collection of drawings and views of places taken by him, which I had the
good fortune to preserve, and on my arrival at Boston, I gave them to a
connection of his, the Honourable Judge Dawes, who sent them to his
family in New York.

On the 26th, two ships were seen standing in for Friendly Cove. At their
first appearance the inhabitants were thrown into great confusion, but,
soon collecting a number of muskets and blunderbusses, ran to the shore,
from whence they kept up so brisk a fire at them, that they were
evidently afraid to approach nearer, and, after firing a few rounds of
grape-shot, which did no harm to any one, they wore ship and stood out
to sea. These ships, as I afterwards learned, were the _Mary_ and _Juno_
of Boston.

They were scarcely out of sight when Maquina expressed much regret that
he had permitted his people to fire at them, being apprehensive that
they would give information to others in what manner they had been
received, and prevent them from coming to trade with him.

A few days after hearing of the capture of the ship, there arrived at
Nootka a great number of canoes filled with savages from no less than
twenty tribes to the north and south. Among those from the north were
the Ai-tiz-zarts,[44] Schoo-mad-its,[45] Neu-wit-ties,[46]
Savin-nars,[47] Ah-owz-arts,[48] Mo-watch-its,[49] Suth-setts,[50]
Neu-chad-lits,[51] Mich-la-its,[52] and Cay-u-quets,[53] the most of
whom were considered as tributary to Nootka. From the south, the
Aytch-arts[54] and Esqui-ates,[55] also tributary, with the
Kla-oo-quates,[56] and the Wickannish, a large and powerful tribe about
two hundred miles distant.

These last were better clad than most of the others, and their canoes
wrought with much greater skill; they are furnished with sails as well
as paddles, and, with the advantage of a fair breeze, are usually but
twenty-four hours on their passage.

Maquina, who was very proud of his new acquisition, was desirous of
welcoming these visitors in the European manner. He accordingly ordered
his men, as the canoes approached, to assemble on the beach with loaded
muskets and blunderbusses, placing Thompson at the cannon, which had
been brought from the ship and laid upon two long sticks of timber in
front of the village; then, taking a speaking trumpet in his hand, he
ascended with me the roof of his house, and began drumming or beating
upon the boards with a stick most violently.

Nothing could be more ludicrous than the appearance of this motley group
of savages collected on the shore, dressed as they were with their
ill-gotten finery in the most fantastic manner, some in women's smocks,
taken from our cargo, others in _Kotsacks_[57] (or cloaks) of blue, red,
or yellow broadcloth, with stockings drawn over their heads, and their
necks hung round with numbers of powder-horns, shot-bags, and
cartouch-boxes, some of them having no less than ten muskets apiece on
their shoulders, and five or six daggers in their girdles. Diverting
indeed was it to see them all squatted upon the beach, holding their
muskets perpendicularly with the butt pressed upon the sand, instead of
against their shoulders, and in this position awaiting the order to

Maquina, at last, called to them with his trumpet to fire, which they
did in the most awkward and timid manner, with their muskets hard
pressed upon the ground as above-mentioned. At the same moment the
cannon was fired by Thompson, immediately on which they threw themselves
back and began to roll and tumble over the sand as if they had been
shot, when, suddenly springing up, they began a song of triumph, and,
running backward and forward upon the shore, with the wildest
gesticulations, boasted of their exploits, and exhibited as trophies
what they had taken from us. Notwithstanding the unpleasantness of my
situation, and the feelings that this display of our spoils excited, I
could not avoid laughing at the strange appearance of these savages,
their awkward movements, and the singular contrast of their dress and

When the ceremony was concluded, Maquina invited the strangers to a
feast at his house, consisting of whale-blubber, smoked herring spawn,
and dried fish and train-oil, of which they ate most plentifully. The
feast being over, the trays out of which they ate, and other things,
were immediately removed to make room for the dance, which was to close
the entertainment. This was performed by Maquina's son, the young prince
Sat-sat-sok-sis, whom I have already spoken of, in the following

Three of the principal chiefs, drest in their otter-skin mantles, which
they wear only on extraordinary occasions and at festivals, having their
heads covered over with white down and their faces highly painted, came
forward into the middle of the room, each furnished with a bag filled
with white down, which they scattered around in such a manner as to
represent a fall of snow. These were followed by the young prince, who
was dressed in a long piece of yellow cloth, wrapped loosely around him,
and decorated with small bells, with a cap on his head to which was
fastened a curious mask in imitation of a wolf's head, while the rear
was brought up by the king himself in his robe of sea-otter skin, with a
small whistle in his mouth and a rattle in his hand, with which he kept
time to a sort of tune on his whistle. After passing very rapidly in
this order around the house, each of them seated himself, except the
prince, who immediately began his dance, which principally consisted in
springing up into the air in a squat posture, and constantly turning
around on his heels with great swiftness in a very narrow circle.

This dance, with a few intervals of rest, was continued for about two
hours, during which the chiefs kept up a constant drumming with sticks
of about a foot in length on a long hollow plank, which was, though a
very noisy, a most doleful kind of music. This they accompanied with
songs, the king himself acting as chorister, while the women applauded
each feat of activity in the dancer, by repeating the words, _Wocash!
Wocash Tyee!_[58] that is, Good! very good, Prince!

As soon as the dance was finished, Maquina began to give presents to the
strangers, in the name of his son Sat-sat-sok-sis. These were pieces of
European cloth, generally of a fathom in length, muskets, powder, shot,
etc. Whenever he gave them anything, they had a peculiar manner of
snatching it from him with a very stern and surly look, repeating each
time the words, _Wocash Tyee_. This I understood to be their custom, and
was considered as a compliment, which, if omitted, would be supposed as
a mark of disregard for the present. On this occasion Maquina gave away
no less than one hundred muskets, the same number of looking-glasses,
four hundred yards of cloth, and twenty casks of powder, besides other

After receiving these presents, the strangers retired on board their
canoes, for so numerous were they that Maquina would not suffer any but
the chiefs to sleep in the houses; and, in order to prevent the property
from being pillaged by them, he ordered Thompson and myself to keep
guard during the night, armed with cutlasses and pistols.

In this manner tribes of savages from various parts of the coast
continued coming for several days, bringing with them blubber, oil,
herring spawn, dried fish, and clams, for which they received in return
presents of cloth, etc., after which they in general immediately
returned home. I observed that very few, if any, of them, except the
chiefs, had arms, which, I afterwards learned, is the custom with these
people, whenever they come upon a friendly visit or to trade, in order
to show, on their approach, that their intentions are pacific.[59]


[42] A common mode of expressing joy. During dancing and singing this
goes on continually.

[43] In 1863, when I made a special inquiry, the whole number of adult
males in the Mooachaht tribe (the so-called Nootkans) was one hundred
and fifty.

[44] Ayhuttisahts.

[45] This name is unknown to me.

[46] Nahwittis, or Flatlashekwill, an almost vanished tribe, join the
north end of Vancouver Island (Goletas Channel, Galliano Island, and
west-ward to Cape Scott).

[47] The name of some village, not a tribe.

[48] Ahousahts.

[49] Mooachahts. The "Nootkans" proper of Friendly Cove.

[50] Seshahts, but they are to the south (Alberni Canal) and Barclay

[51] Noochahlahts (lat. 49° 47' 20" N.).

[52] Muchlahts, or Quaquina arm.

[53] Ky-yoh-quahts.

[54] This is probably another spelling of the E-cha-chahts.

[55] Hishquayahts (lat. 49° 27' 31" N., long. 126° 25' 27" W.).

[56] Klahoquahts. This and the other tribes mentioned in the text
are no longer tributary to the Mooachahts, and there is no "Wickannish"
tribe. As we have already seen (p. 38), it is the name of an
individual--probably the chief of the Klahoquahts. It is a common name.
The Nettinahts and the Klahoquahts are still renowned in canoe-making.
They chisel them out of the great cedar (_Thuja gigantea_) trees in this
district, for sale to other tribes. But Jewitt, who had no personal
knowledge of the homes of these tribes, makes sad havoc of their names
and the direction from which they came.

[57] _Kootsik_, the "cotsack" of Meares. _Kootsik-poom_ is the pin by
which the Indian blanket cloak is fastened. In Meares's time the people
dressed in kootsiks of sea-otter skin. But even then they were getting
so fond of blankets, that without "woollens" among the barter, trade was
difficult. In fifteen years they learned a better use for sea-otters
worth £20 apiece than to make cloaks of them.

[58] The words were really _Waw-kash_ (a word of salutation) and _Tyee_.
This is in most common use in Nootka Sound. The order of salutation to a
man is _Quaache-is_, to a woman _Chè-is_, and at parting _Klach-she_. A
married woman is _Klootsnah_; a young girl _Hah-quatl-is_; an unmarried
woman (whether old or young) _Hah-quatl_--distinctions which Jewitt does
not make in his brief vocabulary. The Indians have many words to express
varieties of the same action. Thus _pâttēs_ means to wash. But
_pâttēē_ is to wash all over; _tsont-soomik_, to wash the hands;
_tsocuks_, to wash a pan, etc. _Haouwith_, or _Hawilth_, is the original
word for chief, though _Tyee_ is commonly used.

[59] This is one of the earliest--if not the first--account of these
periodical givings away of property so characteristic of the
North-Western coast Indians, and known to the whites as "Potlatches." An
Indian accumulates blankets and other portable property simply to give
away at such feasts. Then if a poor, he becomes a great man, and even a
kind of minor chief--a Life Peer, as it were. But those who have
received much are expected to return the compliment by also giving a
"potlatch," to which guests come from far and near. I have described one
of these in _The Races of Mankind_ (the first edition of _The Peoples of
the World_), vol. i. pp. 75-90.



Early on the morning of the 19th the ship was discovered to be on fire.
This was owing to one of the savages having gone on board with a
firebrand at night for the purpose of plunder, some sparks from which
fell into the hold, and, communicating with some combustibles, soon
enveloped the whole in flames. The natives regretted the loss of the
ship the more as a great part of her cargo still remained on board. To
my companion and myself it was a most melancholy sight, for with her
disappeared from our eyes every trace of a civilised country; but the
disappointment we experienced was still more severely felt, for we had
calculated on having the provision to ourselves, which would have
furnished us with a stock for years, as whatever is cured with salt,
together with most of our other articles of food, are never eaten by
these people. I had luckily saved all my tools, excepting the anvil and
the bellows, which was attached to the forge, and from their weight had
not been brought on shore. We had also the good fortune, in looking over
what had been taken from the ship, to discover a box of chocolate and a
case of port wine, which, as the Indians were not fond of it, proved a
great comfort to us for some time; and from one of the natives I
obtained a Nautical Almanack which had belonged to the captain, and
which was of great use to me in determining the time.

About two days after, on examining their booty, the savages found a
tierce of rum, with which they were highly delighted, as they have
become very fond of spirituous liquors since their intercourse with the
whites.[60] This was towards evening, and Maquina, having assembled all
the men at his house, gave a feast, at which they drank so freely of the
rum, that in a short time they became so extremely wild and frantic that
Thompson and myself, apprehensive for our safety, thought it prudent to
retire privately into the woods, where we continued till past midnight.

On our return we found the women gone, who are always very temperate,
drinking nothing but water, having quitted the house and gone to the
other huts to sleep, so terrified were they at the conduct of the men,
who lay all stretched out on the floor in a state of complete
intoxication. How easy in this situation would it have been for us to
have dispatched or made ourselves masters of our enemies had there been
any ship near to which we could have escaped, but as we were situated
the attempt would have been madness. The wish of revenge was, however,
less strongly impressed on my mind than what appeared to be so evident
an interposition of Divine Providence in our favour. How little can man
penetrate its designs, and how frequently is that intended as a blessing
which he views as a curse. The burning of our ship, which we had
lamented so much, as depriving us of so many comforts, now appeared to
us in a very different light, for, had the savages got possession of the
rum, of which there were nearly twenty puncheons on board,[61] we must
inevitably have fallen a sacrifice to their fury in some of their
moments of intoxication. This cask, fortunately, and a case of gin, was
all the spirits they obtained from the ship. To prevent the recurrence
of similar danger, I examined the cask, and, finding still a
considerable quantity remaining, I bored a small hole in the bottom with
a gimblet, which before morning, to my great joy, completely emptied it.

By this time the wound in my head began to be much better, so that I
could enjoy some sleep, which I had been almost deprived of by the pain,
and though I was still feeble from the loss of blood and my sufferings,
I found myself sufficiently well to go to work at my trade, in making
for the king and his wives bracelets and other small ornaments of copper
or steel, and in repairing the arms, making use of a large square stone
for the anvil, and heating my metal in a common wood fire. This was very
gratifying to Maquina, and his women particularly, and secured me their

In the meantime, great numbers from the other tribes kept continually
flocking to Nootka, bringing with them, in exchange for the ship's
plunder, such quantities of provision, that, notwithstanding the little
success that Maquina met with in whaling this season, and their
gluttonous waste, always eating to excess when they have it, regardless
of the morrow, seldom did the natives experience any want of food during
the summer. As to myself and companion, we fared as they did, never
wanting for such provision as they had, though we were obliged to eat it
cooked in their manner, and with train-oil as a sauce, a circumstance
not a little unpleasant, both from their uncleanly mode of cooking and
many of the articles of their food, which to a European are very
disgusting; but, as the saying is, hunger will break through stone
walls, and we found, at times, in the blubber of sea animals and the
flesh of the dog-fish, loathsome as it generally was, a very acceptable

But much oftener would poor Thompson, who was no favourite with them,
have suffered from hunger had it not been for my furnishing him with
provision. This I was enabled to do from my work, Maquina allowing me
the privilege, when not employed for him, to work for myself in making
bracelets and other ornaments of copper, fish-hooks, daggers, etc.,
either to sell to the tribes who visited us or for our own chiefs, who
on these occasions, besides supplying me with as much as I wished to
eat, and a sufficiency for Thompson, almost always made me a present of
a European garment, taken from the ship, or some fathoms of cloth, which
were made up by my comrade, and enabled us to go comfortably clad for
some time; or small bundles of penknives, razors, scissors, etc., for
one of which we could almost always procure from the natives two or
three fresh salmon, cod, or halibut; or dried fish, clams, and herring
spawn from the stranger tribes; and had we only been permitted to cook
them after our own way, as we had pots and other utensils belonging to
the ship, we should not have had much cause of complaint in this
respect; but so tenacious are these people of their customs,
particularly in the article of food and cooking, that the king always
obliged me to give whatever provision I bought to the women to cook. And
one day, finding Thompson and myself on the shore employed in boiling
down sea-water into salt, on being told what it was he was very much
displeased, and, taking the little we had procured, threw it into the
sea. In one instance alone, as a particular favour, he allowed me to
boil some salmon in my own way, when I invited him and his queen to eat
with me; they tasted it, but did not like it, and made their meal of
some of it that I had cooked in their country fashion.

In May the weather became uncommonly mild and pleasant, and so forward
was vegetation, that I picked plenty of strawberries[62] by the middle
of the month. Of this fruit there are great quantities on this coast,
and I found them a most delicious treat.

My health now had become almost re-established, my wound being so far
healed that it gave me no further trouble. I had never failed to wash it
regularly once a day in sea water, and to dress it with a fresh leaf of
tobacco, which I obtained from the natives, who had taken it from the
ship, but made no use of it. This was all the dressing I gave it, except
applying to it two or three times a little loaf sugar, which Maquina
gave me, in order to remove some proud flesh, which prevented it from

My cure would doubtless have been much sooner effected had I have been
in a civilised country, where I could have had it dressed by a surgeon
and properly attended to. But alas! I had no good Samaritan, with oil
and wine, to bind up my wounds, and fortunate might I even esteem myself
that I was permitted to dress it myself, for the utmost that I could
expect from the natives was compassion for my misfortunes, which I
indeed experienced from the women, particularly the queen, or favourite
wife of Maquina, the mother of Sat-sat-sok-sis, who used frequently to
point to my head, and manifest much kindness and solicitude for me. I
must do Maquina the justice to acknowledge, that he always appeared
desirous of sparing me any labour which he believed might be hurtful to
me, frequently inquiring in an affectionate manner if my head pained me.
As for the others, some of the chiefs excepted, they cared little what
became of me, and probably would have been gratified with my death.

My health being at length re-established and my wound healed, Thompson
became very importunate for me to begin my journal, and as I had no ink,
proposed to cut his finger to supply me with blood for the purpose
whenever I should want it. On the 1st of June I accordingly commenced a
regular diary, but had no occasion to make use of the expedient
suggested by my comrade, having found a much better substitute in the
expressed juice of a certain plant, which furnished me with a bright
green colour, and, after making a number of trials, I at length
succeeded in obtaining a very tolerable ink, by boiling the juice of the
blackberry with a mixture of finely powdered charcoal, and filtering it
through a cloth. This I afterwards preserved in bottles, and found it
answer very well, so true is it that "necessity is the mother of
invention." As for quills, I found no difficulty in procuring them
whenever I wanted, from the crows and ravens with which the beach was
almost always covered, attracted by the offal of whales, seals, etc.,
and which were so tame that I could easily kill them with stones, while
a large clam-shell furnished me with an inkstand.

The extreme solicitude of Thompson that I should begin my journal might
be considered as singular in a man who neither knew how to read or
write, a circumstance, by the way, very uncommon in an American, were we
less acquainted with the force of habit, he having been for many years
at sea, and accustomed to consider the keeping of a journal as a thing
indispensable. This man was born in Philadelphia, and at eight years old
ran away from his friends and entered as a cabin boy on board a ship
bound to London. On his arrival there, finding himself in distress, he
engaged as an apprentice to the captain of a collier, from whence he was
impressed on board an English man-of-war, and continued in the British
naval service about twenty-seven years, during which he was present at
the engagement under Lord Howe with the French fleet in June 1794, and
when peace was made between England and France, was discharged. He was a
very strong and powerful man, an expert boxer, and perfectly fearless;
indeed, so little was his dread of danger, that when irritated he was
wholly regardless of his life. Of this the following will furnish a
sufficient proof:--

One evening about the middle of April, as I was at the house of one of
the chiefs, where I had been employed on some work for him, word was
brought me that Maquina was going to kill Thompson. I immediately
hurried home, where I found the king in the act of presenting a loaded
musket at Thompson, who was standing before him with his breast bared
and calling on him to fire. I instantly stepped up to Maquina, who was
foaming with rage, and, addressing him in soothing words, begged him for
my sake not to kill my father, and at length succeeded in taking the
musket from him and persuading him to sit down.

On inquiring into the cause of his anger, I learned that, while Thompson
was lighting the lamps in the king's room, Maquina having substituted
ours for their pine torches, some of the boys began to tease him,
running around him and pulling him by the trousers, among the most
forward of whom was the young prince. This caused Thompson to spill the
oil, which threw him into such a passion, that, without caring what he
did, he struck the prince so violent a blow in his face with his fist as
to knock him down. The sensation excited among the savages by an act
which was considered as the highest indignity, and a profanation of the
sacred person of majesty, may be easily conceived. The king was
immediately acquainted with it, who, on coming in and seeing his son's
face covered with blood, seized a musket and began to load it,
determined to take instant revenge of the audacious offender, and had I
arrived a few moments later than I did, my companion would certainly
have paid with his life for his rash and violent conduct. I found the
utmost difficulty in pacifying Maquina, who for a long time after could
not forgive Thompson, but would repeatedly say, "John, _you_
die--Thompson kill."

But to appease the king was not all that was necessary. In consequence
of the insult offered to their prince, the whole tribe held a council,
in which it was unanimously resolved that Thompson should be put to
death in the most cruel manner. I however interceded so strenuously with
Maquina for his life, telling him that if my father was killed, I was
determined not to survive him, that he refused to deliver him up to the
vengeance of his people, saying, that for John's sake they must consent
to let him live. The prince, who, after I had succeeded in calming his
father, gave me an account of what had happened, told me that it was
wholly out of regard to me, as Thompson was my father, that his life had
been spared, for that if any one of the tribe should dare to lift a hand
against him in anger, he would most certainly be put to death.

Yet even this narrow escape produced not much effect on Thompson, or
induced him to restrain the violence of his temper. For, not many weeks
after, he was guilty of a similar indiscretion, in striking the eldest
son of a chief, who was about eighteen years old, and, according to
their custom, was considered as a Tyee, or chief, himself, in
consequence of his having provoked him by calling him a white slave.
This affair caused great commotion in the village, and the tribe was
very clamorous for his death, but Maquina would not consent.

I used frequently to remonstrate with him on the imprudence of his
conduct, and beg him to govern his temper better, telling him that it
was our duty, since our lives were in the power of these savages, to do
nothing to exasperate them. But all I could say on this point availed
little, for so bitter was the hate he felt for them, which he was no way
backward in manifesting both by his looks and actions, that he declared
he never would submit to their insults, and that he had much rather be
killed than be obliged to live among them; adding that he only wished he
had a good vessel and some guns, and he would destroy the whole of the
cursed race; for to a brave sailor like him, who had fought the French
and Spaniards with glory, it was a punishment worse than death to be a
slave to such a poor, ignorant, despicable set of beings.

As for myself, I thought very differently. After returning thanks to
that merciful Being who had in so wonderful a manner softened the hearts
of the savages in my favour, I had determined from the first of my
capture to adopt a conciliating conduct towards them, and conform
myself, as far as was in my power, to their customs and mode of
thinking, trusting that the same divine goodness that had rescued me
from death, would not always suffer me to languish in captivity among
these heathens.

With this view, I sought to gain their goodwill by always endeavouring
to assume a cheerful countenance, appearing pleased with their sports
and buffoon tricks, making little ornaments for the wives and children
of their chiefs, by which means I became quite a favourite with them,
and fish-hooks, daggers, etc., for themselves.

As a further recommendation to their favour, and what might eventually
prove of the utmost importance to us, I resolved to learn their
language, which in the course of a few months' residence I so far
succeeded in acquiring, as to be able in general to make myself well

I likewise tried to persuade Thompson to learn it, as what might prove
necessary to him. But he refused, saying that he hated both them and
their cursed lingo, and would have nothing to do with it.

By pursuing this conciliatory plan, so far did I gain the goodwill of
these savages, particularly the chiefs, that I scarcely ever failed
experiencing kind treatment from them, and was received with a smile of
welcome at their houses, where I was always sure of having something
given me to eat, whenever they had it, and many a good meal have I had
from them, when they themselves were short of provisions and suffering
for the want of them.

And it was a common practice with me, when we had nothing to eat at
home, which happened not unfrequently during my stay among them, to go
around the village, and on noticing a smoke from any of the houses,
which denoted that they were cooking, enter in without ceremony, and ask
them for something, which I was never refused.

Few nations, indeed, are there so very rude and unfeeling, whom constant
mild treatment, and an attention to please, will not mollify and obtain
from some return of kind attention. This the treatment I received from
these people may exemplify, for not numerous, even among those calling
themselves civilised, are there instances to be found of persons
depriving themselves of food to give it to a stranger, whatever may be
his merits.

It may perhaps be as well in this place to give a description of Nootka;
some accounts of the tribes who were accustomed to visit us; and the
manners and customs of the people, as far as I hitherto had an
opportunity of observing them.


[60] It was about this date that Long, an Indian trader, described rum
as the _unum necessarium_ for traffic with the savages. It is still
eagerly asked for, though its sale or gift is illegal.

[61] For sale, of course, to the Indians.

[62] Chiefly _Fragaria chilensis_.



The village of Nootka is situated in between 49 and 50 deg. N. lat.,[63]
at the bottom of Friendly Cove, on the west or north-west side. It
consists of about twenty houses or huts, on a small hill, which rises
with a gentle ascent from the shore. Friendly Cove, which affords good
and secure anchorage for ships close in with the shore, is a small
harbour of not more than a quarter or half a mile in length, and about
half a mile or three-quarters broad, formed by the line of coast on the
east and a long point or headland, which extends as much as three
leagues into the Sound, in nearly a westerly direction.[64] This, as
well as I can judge from what I have seen of it, is in general from one
to two miles in breadth, and mostly a rocky and unproductive soil, with
but few trees. The eastern and western shores of this harbour are steep
and in many parts rocky, the trees growing quite to the water's edge,
but the bottom to the north and north-west is a fine sandy beach of half
a mile or more in extent.

From the village to the north and north-east extends a plain, the soil
of which is very excellent, and with proper cultivation may be made to
produce almost any of our European vegetables; this is but little more
than half a mile in breadth, and is terminated by the seacoast, which in
this place is lined with rocks and reefs, and cannot be approached by
ships. The coast in the neighbourhood of Nootka is in general low, and
but little broken into hills and valleys. The soil is good, well covered
with fine forests of pine, spruce, beech, and other trees, and abounds
with streams of the finest water, the general appearance being the same
for many miles around.

The village is situated on the ground occupied by the Spaniards, when
they kept a garrison here; the foundations of the church and the
governor's house are yet visible, and a few European plants are still to
be found, which continue to be self-propagated, such as onions, peas,
and turnips, but the two last are quite small, particularly the turnips,
which afforded us nothing but the tops for eating. Their former village
stood on the same spot, but the Spaniards, finding it a commodious
situation, demolished the houses, and forced the inhabitants to retire
five or six miles into the country.[65] With great sorrow, as Maquina
told me, did they find themselves compelled to quit their ancient place
of residence, but with equal joy did they repossess themselves of it
when the Spanish garrison was expelled by the English.


The houses, as I have observed, are above twenty in number, built nearly
in a line. These are of different sizes, according to the rank or
quality of the _Tyee_, or chief, who lives in them, each having one, of
which he is considered as the lord. They vary not much in width, being
usually from thirty-six to forty feet wide, but are of very different
lengths, that of the king, which is much the longest, being about one
hundred and fifty feet, while the smallest, which contain only two
families, do not exceed forty feet in length; the house of the king is
also distinguished from the others by being higher.

Their method of building is as follows: they erect in the ground two
very large posts, at such a distance apart as is intended for the length
of the house. On these, which are of equal height, and hollowed out at
the upper end, they lay a large spar for the ridge-pole of the building,
or, if the length of the house requires it, two or more, supporting
their ends by similar upright posts; these spars are sometimes of an
almost incredible size, having myself measured one in Maquina's house,
which I found to be one hundred feet long and eight feet four inches in
circumference. At equal distances from these two posts, two others are
placed on each side, to form the width of the building; these are rather
shorter than the first, and on them are laid in like manner spars, but
of a smaller size, having the upper part hewed flat, with a narrow ridge
on the outer side to support the ends of the planks.

The roof is formed of pine planks with a broad feather edge, so as to
lap well over each other, which are laid lengthwise from the ridge-pole
in the centre, to the beams at the sides, after which the top is covered
with planks of eight feet broad, which form a kind of coving projecting
so far over the ends of the planks that form the roof, as completely to
exclude the rain. On these they lay large stones to prevent their being
displaced by the wind. The ends of the planks are not secured to the
beams on which they are laid by any fastening, so that in a high storm I
have often known all the men obliged to turn out and go upon the roof to
prevent them from being blown off, carrying large stones and pieces of
rock with them to secure the boards, always stripping themselves naked
on these occasions, whatever may be the severity of the weather, to
prevent their garments from being wet and muddied, as these storms are
almost always accompanied with heavy rains. The sides of their houses
are much more open and exposed to the weather; this proceeds from their
not being so easily made close as the roof, being built with planks of
about ten feet long and four or five wide, which they place between
stancheons or small posts of the height of the roof; of these there are
four to each range of boards, two at each end, and so near each other as
to leave space enough for admitting a plank. The planks or boards which
they make use of for building their houses, and for other uses, they
procure of different lengths as occasion requires, by splitting them out
with hard wooden wedges from pine logs, and afterwards dubbing them down
with their chisels, with much patience, to the thickness wanted,
rendering them quite smooth.

There is but one entrance; this is placed usually at the end, though
sometimes in the middle, as was that of Maquina's. Through the middle of
the building, from one end to the other, runs a passage of about eight
or nine feet broad, on each side of which the several families that
occupy it live, each having its particular fireplace, but without any
kind of wall or separation to mark their respective limits; the chief
having his apartment at the upper end, and the next in rank opposite on
the other side. They have no other floor than the ground; the fireplace
or hearth consists of a number of stones loosely put together, but they
are wholly without a chimney, nor is there any opening left in the roof,
but whenever a fire is made, the plank immediately over it is thrust
aside, by means of a pole, to give vent to the smoke.

The height of the houses in general, from the ground to the centre of
the roof, does not exceed ten feet, that of Maquina's was not far from
fourteen; the spar forming the ridge-pole of the latter was painted in
red and black circles alternately, by way of ornament, and the large
posts that supported it had their tops curiously wrought or carved, so
as to represent human heads of a monstrous size, which were painted in
their manner. These were not, however, considered as objects of
adoration, but merely as ornaments.[66]

The furniture of these people is very simple, and consists only of
boxes, in which they put their clothes, furs, and such things as they
hold most valuable; tubs for keeping their provisions of spawn and
blubber in; trays from which they eat; baskets for their dried fish and
other purposes, and bags made of bark matting, of which they also make
their beds, spreading a piece of it upon the ground when they lie down,
and using no other bed covering than their garments. The boxes are of
pine, with a top that shuts over, and instead of nails or pegs, are
fastened with flexible twigs; they are extremely smooth and high
polished, and sometimes ornamented with rows of very small white shells.
The tubs are of a square form, secured in the like manner, and of
various sizes, some being extremely large, having seen them that were
six feet long by four broad and five deep. The trays are hollowed out
with their chisels from a solid block of wood, and the baskets and mats
are made from the bark of trees.

From bark they likewise make the cloth for their garments, in the
following manner:--A quantity of this bark is taken and put into fresh
water, where it is kept for a fortnight, to give it time to completely
soften; it is then taken out and beaten upon a plank, with an instrument
made of bone, or some very hard wood, having grooves or hollows on one
side of it, care being taken to keep the mass constantly moistened with
water, in order to separate, with more ease, the hard and woody from the
soft and fibrous parts, which, when completed, they parcel out into
skeins, like thread. These they lay in the air to bleach, and afterwards
dye them black or red, as suits their fancies, their natural colour
being a pale yellow. In order to form the cloth, the women, by whom the
whole of this process is performed, take a certain number of these
skeins and twist them together, by rolling them with their hands upon
their knees into hard rolls, which are afterwards connected by means of
a strong thread, made for the purpose.


Their dress usually consists of but a single garment, which is a loose
cloak or mantle (called _kutsack_) in one piece, reaching nearly to the
feet. This is tied loosely over the right or left shoulder, so as to
leave the arms at full liberty.

Those of the common people are painted red with ochre the better to keep
out the rain, but the chiefs wear them of their native colour, which is
a pale yellow, ornamenting them with borders of the sea-otter skin, a
kind of grey cloth made of the hair of some animal[67] which they
procure from the tribes to the south, or their own cloth wrought or
painted with various figures in red or black, representing men's heads,
the sun and moon, fish and animals, which are frequently executed with
much skill. They have also a girdle of the same kind for securing this
mantle or _kutsack_ around them, which is in general still more highly
ornamented, and serves them to wear their daggers and knives in. In
winter, however, they sometimes make use of an additional garment, which
is a kind of hood, with a hole in it for the purpose of admitting the
head, and falls over the breast and back, as low as the shoulders; this
is bordered both at top and bottom with fur, and is never worn except
when they go out.

The garments of the women vary not essentially from those of the men,
the mantle having holes in it for the purpose of admitting the arms, and
being tied close under the chin instead of over the shoulder. The chiefs
have also mantles of the sea-otter skin, but these are only put on upon
extraordinary occasions; and one that is made from the skin of a certain
large animal, which is brought from the south by the Wickanninish[68]
and Kla-iz-zarts.[69] This they prepare by dressing it in warm water,
scraping off the hair and what flesh adheres to it carefully with sharp
mussel-shells, and spreading it out in the sun to dry on a wooden frame,
so as to preserve the shape. When dressed in this manner it becomes
perfectly white, and as pliable as the best deer's leather, but almost
as thick again. They then paint it in different figures with such paints
as they usually employ in decorating their persons; these figures mostly
represent human heads, canoes employed in catching whales, etc.

This skin is called metamelth, and is probably got from an animal of
the moose kind; it is highly prized by these people, is their great war
dress, and only worn when they wish to make the best possible display of
themselves. Strips or bands of it, painted as above, are also sometimes
used by them for girdles or the bordering of their cloaks, and also for
bracelets and ankle ornaments by some of the inferior class.

On their heads, when they go out upon any excursion, particularly
whaling or fishing, they wear a kind of cap or bonnet in form not unlike
a large sugar loaf with the top cut off. This is made of the same
materials with their cloth,[70] but is in general of a closer texture,
and by way of tassel has a long strip of the skin of the metamelth[71]
attached to it, covered with rows of small white shells or beads. Those
worn by the common people are painted entirely red, the chiefs having
theirs of different colours. The one worn by the king, and which serves
to designate him from all the others, is longer and broader at the
bottom; the top, instead of being flat, having upon it an ornament in
the figure of a small urn. It is also of a much finer texture than the
others, and plaited or wrought in black and white stripes, with the
representation in front of a canoe in pursuit of a whale, with the
harpooner standing in the prow prepared to strike. This bonnet is called

Their mode of living is very simple--their food consisting almost
wholly of fish, or fish spawn fresh or dried, the blubber of the whale,
seal, or sea-cow, mussels, clams, and berries of various kinds; all of
which are eaten with a profusion of train-oil for sauce, not excepting
even the most delicate fruit, as strawberries and raspberries.

With so little variety in their food, no great secret can be expected in
their cookery. Of this, indeed, they may be said to know but two
methods, viz. by boiling and steaming, and even the latter is not very
frequently practised by them. Their mode of boiling is as follows:--Into
one of their tubs they pour water sufficient to cook the quantity of
provision wanted. A number of heated stones are then put in to make it
boil, when the salmon or other fish are put in without any other
preparation than sometimes cutting off the heads, tails, and fins, the
boiling in the meantime being kept up by the application of the hot
stones, after which it is left to cook until the whole is nearly reduced
to one mass. It is then taken out and distributed in the trays. In a
similar manner they cook their blubber and spawn, smoked or dried fish,
and, in fine, almost everything they eat, nothing going down with them
like broth.

When they cook their fish by steam, which are usually the heads, tails,
and fins of the salmon, cod, and halibut, a large fire is kindled, upon
which they place a bed of stones, which, when the wood is burnt down,
becomes perfectly heated. Layers of green leaves or pine boughs are then
placed upon the stones, and the fish, clams, etc., being laid upon
them, water is poured over them, and the whole closely covered with mats
to keep in the steam. This is much the best mode of cooking, and clams
and mussels done in this manner are really excellent.[72] These, as I
have said, may be considered as their only kinds of cookery; though I
have, in a very few instances, known them dress the roe or spawn of the
salmon and the herring, when first taken, in a different manner; this
was by roasting them, the former being supported between two split
pieces of pine, and the other having a sharp stick run through it, with
one end fixed in the ground; sprats are also roasted by them in this
way, a number being spitted upon one stick; and this kind of food, with
a little salt, would be found no contemptible eating even to an

At their meals they seat themselves upon the ground, with their feet
curled up under them, around their trays, which are generally about
three feet long by one broad, and from six to eight inches deep. In
eating they make use of nothing but their fingers, except for the soup
or oil, which they lade out with clam-shells.

Around one of these trays from four to six persons will seat themselves,
constantly dipping in their fingers or clam-shells one after the other.
The king and chiefs alone have separate trays, from which no one is
permitted to eat with them except the queen, or principal wife of the
chief; and whenever the king or one of the chiefs wishes to distinguish
any of his people with a special mark of favour on these occasions, he
calls him and gives him some of the choice bits from his tray. The
slaves eat at the same time, and of the same provisions, faring in this
respect as well as their masters, being seated with the family, and only
feeding from separate trays.

Whenever a feast is given by the king or any of the chiefs, there is a
person who acts as a master of ceremonies, and whose business it is to
receive the guests as they enter the house, and point out to them their
respective seats, which is regulated with great punctiliousness as
regards rank; the king occupying the highest or the seat of honour, his
son or brother sitting next him, and so on with the chiefs according to
their quality; the private persons belonging to the same family being
always placed together, to prevent any confusion. The women are seldom
invited to their feasts, and only at those times when a general
invitation is given to the village.[73]

As, whenever they cook, they always calculate to have an abundance for
all the guests, a profusion in this respect being considered as the
highest luxury, much more is usually set before them than they can eat.
That which is left in the king's tray, he sends to his house for his
family by one of his slaves, as do the chiefs theirs; while those who
eat from the same tray, and who generally belong to the same family,
take it home as common stock, or each one receives his portion, which is
distributed on the spot. This custom appeared very singular to my
companion and myself, and it was a most awkward thing for us, at first,
to have to lug home with us, in our hands or arms, the blubber of fish
that we received at these times, but we soon became reconciled to it,
and were very glad of an opportunity to do it.



[63] The exact position of the village is lat. 49° 35' 31" N.; long.
126° 37' 32" W.

[64] According to the Admiralty Sailing Directions, the Cove is about
two cables in extent, and sheltered from the sea by a small rocky
high-water island on its east side. It affords anchorage in the middle
for only one vessel of moderate size, though several small vessels might
find shelter. When Vancouver visited it in 1792, no less than eight
ships were in it, most of them small, and secured to the shore by

[65] This means farther up the Sound; for there are villages in the
interior of Vancouver Island. The Admiralty Sailing Directions declare
that not a trace of the Spanish settlement now exists. This is scarcely
correct, for an indistinct ridge shows the site of houses, and here and
there a few bricks half hidden in the ground may be detected. I have
seen a cannon ball and a Mexican dollar found there. Many of the Nootka
Indians have large moustaches and whiskers, which may possibly be due to
their Spanish blood, and others were decidedly Chinese-looking, a fact
which may be traced to the presence of Meares's Chinese carpenters in
1778-79. Some of them can, or could, thirty years ago, by tradition,
count ten in Spanish; and there is a legend in the Sound to the effect
that the white men had begun to cultivate the ground, and to erect a
stockade and fort; when one day a ship came with papers for the head
man, who was observed to cry, and all the foreigners became sad. The
next day they began moving their goods to the ship. But, as Mr. Sproat
suggests, this might have reference to Meares's settlement.

[66] This is a good description of the house of Maquina's grandson, as I
saw it fifty-eight years after Jewitt's time.

[67] Dog's hair. A tribe on Fraser River used to keep flocks of these
curs, which they periodically clipped like sheep.

[68] Probably the Klayoquahts (see p. 77).

[69] Klahosahts.

[70] The outside is made of cedar bark, the inside of white-hair bark.

[71] I have more than once discussed the identity of this animal with
Indian traders. None of them recognised it, nor, indeed, were acquainted
with the animal by the name Jewitt applies to it. It is, however, not
unlikely the North-Western marmot (_Arctomys pruinosus_), specimens of
which are now and then--though, it must be admitted, rarely--seen in
Vancouver Island; but it is more common farther south. The Alberni
Indians (Seshahts and Opechesahts) used to talk of a beast called
_Sit-si-tehl_, which we took to be the marmot, and Mr. Sproat saw one; I
was not so fortunate.

[72] In the opinion of the judicious Jewitt, every one who has eaten
food--especially salmon and shell-fish--cooked after this fashion will
coincide. _Experto crede._

[73] Or to one or more of the neighbouring tribes, such feasts being
known as _Wawkoahs_.



In point of personal appearance the people of Nootka are among the
best-looking of any of the tribes that I have seen. The men are in
general from about five feet six to five feet eight inches in height;
remarkably straight, of a good form, robust and strong, with their limbs
in general well turned and proportioned, excepting the legs and feet,
which are clumsy and ill formed, owing, no doubt, to their practice of
sitting on them, though I have seen instances in which they were very
well shaped; this defect is more particularly apparent in the women, who
are for the most part of the time within doors, and constantly sitting
while employed in their cooking and other occupations.[74] The only
instance of deformity that I saw amongst them was a man of dwarfish
stature; he was thirty years old, and but three feet three inches high;
he had, however, no other defect than his diminutive size, being well
made, and as strong and able to bear fatigue as what they were in

Their complexion, when freed from the paint and oil with which their
skins are generally covered, is a brown, somewhat inclining to a copper
cast. The shape of the face is oval; the features are tolerably regular,
the lips being thin and the teeth very white and even; their eyes are
black but rather small, and the nose pretty well formed, being neither
flat nor very prominent; their hair is black, long, and coarse, but they
have no beard, completely extirpating it, as well as the hair from their
bodies, Maquina being the only exception, who suffered his beard to grow
on his upper lip in the manner of mustachios, which was considered as a
mark of dignity.

As to the women, they are much whiter, many of them not being darker
than those in some of the southern parts of Europe. They are in general
very well-looking, and some quite handsome. Maquina's favourite wife in
particular, who was a Wickinninish princess, would be considered as a
beautiful woman in any country. She was uncommonly well formed, tall,
and of a majestic appearance; her skin remarkably fair for one of these
people, with considerable colour, her features handsome, and her eyes
black, soft, and languishing; her hair was very long, thick, and black,
as is that of the females in general, which is much softer than that of
the men; in this they take much pride, frequently oiling and plaiting it
carefully into two broad plaits, tying the ends with a strip of the
cloth of the country, and letting it hang down before on each side of
the face.

The women keep their garments much neater and cleaner than the men, and
are extremely modest in their deportment and dress; their mantle, or
_kutsack_, which is longer than that of the men, reaching quite to their
feet and completely enveloping them, being tied close under the chin,
and bound with a girdle of the same cloth or of sea-otter skin around
their waists; it has also loose sleeves, which reach to the elbows.
Though fond of ornamenting their persons, they are by no means so
partial to paint as the men, merely colouring their eyebrows black and
drawing a bright red stripe from each corner of the mouth towards the
ear. Their ornaments consist chiefly of ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets,
rings for the fingers and ankles, and small nose-jewels (the latter are,
however, wholly confined to the wives of the king or chiefs); these are
principally made out of copper or brass, highly polished and of various
forms and sizes; the nose-jewel is usually a small white shell[76] or
bead suspended to a thread.

The wives of the common people frequently wear for bracelets and ankle
rings strips of the country cloth or skin of the metamelth painted in
figures, and those of the king or principal chiefs, bracelets and
necklaces consisting of a number of strings of _Ife-waw_, an article
much prized by them, and which makes a very handsome appearance. This
_Ife-waw_, as they term it, is a kind of shell of a dazzling whiteness
and as smooth as ivory; it is of a cylindrical form, in a slight degree
curved, about the size of a goose quill, hollow, three inches in length
and gradually tapering to a point, which is broken off by the natives as
it is taken from the water; this they afterwards string upon threads of
bark and sell it by the fathom; it forms a kind of circulating medium
among these nations, five fathoms being considered as the price of a
slave, their most valuable species of property. It is principally
obtained from the Aitizzarts, a people living about thirty or forty
miles to the northward, who collect it from the reefs and sunken rocks
with which their coast abounds, though it is also brought in
considerable quantity from the south.[77]

Their mode of taking it has been thus described to me:--To one end of a
pole is fastened a piece of plank, in which a considerable number of
pine pegs are inserted, made sharp at the ends; above the plank, in
order to sink it, a stone or some weight is tied, and the other end of
the pole suspended to a long rope; this is let down perpendicularly by
the _Ife-waw_ fishers in those places where that substance is found,
which are usually from fifty to sixty fathoms deep. On finding the
bottom, they raise the pole up a few feet and let it fall; this they
repeat a number of times, as if sounding, when they draw it up and take
off the _Ife-waw_ which is found adhering to the points. This method of
procuring it is very laborious and fatiguing, especially as they seldom
take more than two or three of these shells at a time, and frequently

Though the women, as I have said, make but little use of paint, the very
reverse is the case with the men. In decorating their heads and faces
they place their principal pride, and none of our most fashionable beaus
when preparing for a grand ball can be more particular; for I have known
Maquina, after having been employed more than an hour in painting his
face, rub the whole off, and recommence the operation anew, when it did
not entirely please him.

The manner in which they paint themselves frequently varies, according
to the occasion, but it oftener is the mere dictate of whim. The most
usual method is to paint the eyebrows black in form of a half-moon and
the face red in small squares, with the arms and legs and part of the
body red; sometimes one half of the face is painted red in squares and
the other black; at others dotted with spots of red and black instead
of squares, with a variety of other devices, such as painting one half
of the face and body red and the other black.

But a method of painting which they sometimes employed, and which they
were much more particular in, was by laying on the face a quantity of
bear's grease of about one-eighth of an inch thick; this they raised up
into ridges resembling a small bead in joiner's work with a stick
prepared for the purpose, and then painted them red, which gave the face
a very singular appearance.

On extraordinary occasions the king and principal chiefs used to strew
over their faces, after painting, a fine black shining powder procured
from some mineral, as Maquina told me it was got from the rocks. This
they call _pelpelth_,[78] and value it highly, as, in their opinion, it
serves to set off their looks to great advantage, glittering especially
in the sun like silver. This article is brought them in bags by the
_Newchemass_,[79] a very savage nation who live a long way to the north,
from whom they likewise receive a superior kind of red paint, a species
of very fine and rich ochre, which they hold in much estimation.

Notwithstanding this custom of painting themselves, they make it an
invariable practice, both in summer and winter, to bathe once a day, and
sometimes oftener; but as the paint is put on with oil, it is not much
discomposed thereby, and whenever they wish to wash it off, they repair
to some piece of fresh water and scour themselves with sand or rushes.

In dressing their heads on occasion of a festival or a visit, they are
full as particular and almost as long as in painting. The hair, after
being well oiled, is carefully gathered upon the top of the head and
secured by a piece of pine or spruce bough with the green leaves upon
it. After having it properly fixed in this manner, the king and
principal chiefs used to strew all over it the white down obtained from
a species of large brown eagle which abounds on this coast, and which
they are very particular in arranging so as not to have a single feather
out of place, occasionally wetting the hair to make it adhere. This,
together with the bough, which is sometimes of considerable size and
stuck over with feathers by means of turpentine, gives them a very
singular and grotesque appearance, which they, however, think very
becoming, and the first thing they do, on learning the arrival of
strangers, is to go and decorate themselves in this manner.

The men also wear bracelets of painted leather or copper and large
ear-rings of the latter, but the ornament on which they appear to set
the most value is the nose-jewel, if such an appellation may be given to
the wooden stick which some of them employ for this purpose. The king
and chiefs, however, wear them of a different form, being either small
pieces of polished copper or brass, of which I made many for them in
the shape of hearts and diamonds, or a twisted conical shell about half
an inch in length, of a bluish colour and very bright, which is brought
from the south. These are suspended by a small wire or string to the
hole in the gristle of the nose, which is formed in infancy by boring it
with a pin, the hole being afterwards enlarged by the repeated insertion
of wooden pegs of an increased size, until it becomes about the diameter
of a pipe-stem, though some have them of a size nearly sufficient to
admit the little finger.

The common class, who cannot readily procure the more expensive jewels
that I have mentioned, substitute for them, usually, a smooth, round
stick, some of which are of an almost incredible length, for I have seen
them projecting not less than eight or nine inches beyond the face on
each side; this is made fast or secured in its place by little wedges on
each side of it. These "sprit-sail-yard fellows," as my messmate used to
call them, when rigged out in this manner, made quite a strange show,
and it was his delight, whenever he saw one of them coming towards us
with an air of consequence proportioned to the length of his stick, to
put up his hand suddenly as he was passing him, so as to strike the
stick, in order, as he said, to brace him up sharp to the wind; this
used to make them very angry, but nothing was more remote from
Thompson's ideas than a wish to cultivate their favour.

The natives of Nootka appear to have but little inclination for the
chase, though some of them were expert marksmen, and used sometimes to
shoot ducks and geese; but the seal and the sea-otter form the
principal objects of their hunting, particularly the latter.

Of this animal, so much noted for its valuable skin, the following
description may not be uninteresting:--The sea-otter[80] is nearly five
feet in length, exclusive of the tail, which is about twelve inches, and
is very thick and broad where it joins the body, but gradually tapers to
the end, which is tipped with white. The colour of the rest is a
shining, silky black, with the exception of a broad white stripe on the
top of the head. Nothing can be more beautiful than one of these animals
when seen swimming, especially when on the look-out for any object. At
such times it raises its head quite above the surface, and the contrast
between the shining black and the white, together with its sharp ears
and a long tuft of hair rising from the middle of its forehead, which
looks like three small horns, render it quite a novel and attractive
object. They are in general very tame, and will permit a canoe or boat
to approach very near before they dive. I was told, however, that they
are become much more shy since they have been accustomed to shoot them
with muskets, than when they used only arrows.[81]

The skin is held in great estimation in China, more especially that of
the tail, the fur of which is finer and closer set than that on the
body. This is always cut off and sold separately by the natives. The
value of a skin is determined by its size, that being considered as a
prime skin which will reach, in length, from a man's chin to his feet.
The food of the sea-otter is fish, which he is very dexterous in taking,
being an excellent swimmer, with feet webbed like those of a goose. They
appear to be wholly confined to the seacoast, at least to the salt
water. They have usually three or four young at a time, but I know not
how often they breed, nor in what place they deposit their young, though
I have frequently seen them swimming around the mother when no larger
than rats. The flesh is eaten by the natives, cooked in their usual mode
by boiling, and is far preferable to that of the seal, of which they
make much account.

But if not great hunters, there are few people more expert in fishing.
Their lines are generally, made from the sinew of the whale, and are
extremely strong. For the hook, they usually make use of a straight
piece of hard wood, in the lower part of which is inserted, and well
secured with thread or whale sinew, a bit of bone made very sharp at the
point and bearded; but I used to make for them hooks from iron, which
they preferred, not only as being less liable to break, but more certain
of securing the fish. Cod, halibut, and other sea fish were not only
caught by them with hooks, but even salmon.

To take this latter fish, they practise the following method:--One
person seats himself in a small canoe, and, baiting his hook with a
sprat, which they are always careful to procure as fresh as possible,
fastens his line to the handle of the paddle; this, as he plies it in
the water, keeps the fish in constant motion, so as to give it the
appearance of life, which the salmon seeing, leaps at it and is
instantly hooked, and, by a sudden and dexterous motion of the paddle,
drawn on board. I have known some of the natives take no less than eight
or ten salmon of a morning, in this manner, and have seen from twenty to
thirty canoes at a time in Friendly Cove thus employed.

They are likewise little less skilful in taking the whale. This they
kill with a kind of javelin or harpoon thus constructed and fitted: the
barbs are formed of bone, which are sharpened on the outer side, and
hollowed within, for the purpose of forming a socket for the staff;
these are then secured firmly together with a whale sinew, the point
being fitted so as to receive a piece of mussel-shell, which is ground
to a very sharp edge, and secured in its place by means of
turpentine.[82] To this head or prong is fastened a strong line of whale
sinew about nine feet in length, to the end of which is tied a bark rope
from fifty to sixty fathoms long, having from twenty to thirty sealskin
floats or buoys attached to it at certain intervals, in order to check
the motion of the whale and obstruct his diving. In the socket of the
harpoon a staff or pole of about ten feet long, gradually tapering from
the middle to each end, is placed; this the harpooner holds in his hand,
in order to strike the whale, and immediately detaches it as soon as the
fish is struck.

The whale is considered as the king's fish, and no other person, when he
is present, is permitted to touch him until the royal harpoon has first
drawn his blood, however near he may approach; and it would be
considered almost a sacrilege for any of the common people to strike a
whale before he is killed, particularly if any of the chiefs should be
present.[83] They also kill the porpoise[84] and sea-cow[85] with
harpoons, but this inferior game is not interdicted the lower class.

With regard to their canoes, some of the handsomest to be found on the
whole coast are made at Nootka, though very fine ones are brought by the
Wickinninish and the Kla-iz-zarts, who have them more highly ornamented.
They are of all sizes, from such as are capable of holding only one
person to their largest war canoes, which will carry forty men, and are
extremely light. Of these, the largest of any that I ever saw was one
belonging to Maquina, which I measured, and found to be forty-two feet
six inches in length at the bottom, and forty-six feet from stem to
stern. These are made of pine,[86] hollowed out from a tree with their
chisels solely, which are about three inches broad and six in length,
and set into a handle of very hard wood.

This instrument was formerly made of flint, or some hard stone ground
down to as sharp an edge as possible, but since they have learned the
use of iron, they have almost all of them of that metal. Instead of a
mallet for striking this chisel, they make use of a smooth round stone,
which they hold in the palm of the hand. With this same awkward
instrument they not only excavate their canoes and trays and smooth
their planks, but cut down such trees as they want, either for building,
fuel, or other purposes, a labour which is mostly done by their slaves.

The felling of trees, as practised by them, is a slow and most tedious
process, three of them being generally from two to three days in cutting
down a large one; yet so attached were they to their own method, that
notwithstanding they saw Thompson frequently, with one of our axes, of
which there was a number saved, fell a tree in less time than they
could have gone round it with their chisels, still they could not be
persuaded to make use of them.

[Illustration: INDIAN CANOES, VICTORIA, V. I. (TEMP. 1863).]

After hollowing out their canoes, which they do very neatly, they
fashion the outside, and slightly burn it, for the purpose of removing
any splinters or small points that might obstruct its passage through
the water, after which they rub it over thoroughly with rushes or coarse
mats, in order to smooth it, which not only renders it almost as smooth
as glass, but forms a better security for it from the weather; this
operation of burning and rubbing down the bottoms of their canoes is
practised as often as they acquire any considerable degree of roughness
from use. The outside by this means becomes quite black, and to complete
their work they paint the inside of a bright red, with ochre or some
other similar substance; the prows and sterns are almost always
ornamented with figures of ducks or some other kind of bird, the former
being so fashioned as to represent the head, and the latter the tail;
these are separate pieces from the canoe, and are fastened to it with
small flexible twigs or bark cord.

Some of these canoes, particularly those employed in whaling, which will
hold about ten men, are ornamented within about two inches below the
gunwale with two parallel lines on each side of very small white shells,
running fore and aft, which has a very pretty effect. Their war canoes
have no ornament of this kind, but are painted on the outside with
figures in white chalk, representing eagles, whales, human heads, etc.
They are very dexterous in the use of their paddles, which are very
neatly wrought, and are five feet long, with a short handle and a blade
seven inches broad in the middle, tapering to a sharp point. With these
they will make a canoe skim very swiftly on the water, with scarcely any
noise, while they keep time to the stroke of the paddle with their


[74] Yet they are by no means weak in the legs, a coast Indian being
capable of long travel in the bush without tiring. The Hydahs of Queen
Charlotte Island, and the Tlinkets and Kaloshes of the neighbouring
mainland, are splendid specimens of men, tall, comparatively fair,
large-headed, regularly-featured, and endowed with courage and
intelligence, though their morals leave much to be desired. All the
canoe Indians are very strong-handed, owing to the constant use of the
paddle. In a scuffle with one of them, it does not do to let him get a
grip; better prevent him from coming to close quarters, for in this case
the white man has little chance. The Klahoquahts are the finest-looking
of the Vancouver west coast tribes.

[75] I have rarely seen a corpulent Indian, and not one idiot, or a
cripple so deformed that he was incapable of earning his livelihood. It
is seldom that they are deformed from birth, and when they are, they
generally disappear, so as not to be a burden on the tribe. As a
facetious old savage remarked to me, when discussing that curious
immunity from helplessness in his tribe, "The climate doesn't agree with
them." The brother of Quisto, chief of the Pachenahts in 1865 (San Juan
Harbour), was much deformed in the legs, but he was an excellent

[76] Commonly the flattish nacreous portion of the Abelone, or Ear-shell
(_Haliotis Kamschatkiana_), known as _Apats-em_, which is pawned or sold
in times of scarcity. By constant removal and insertion, the septum of
the nose, through which it is fastened, becomes in time so large that it
will admit almost any kind of moderately-sized ornament. Feathers are
frequently inserted, and more than once I have seen an Indian, clad in a
blanket alone, denude himself of his single garment to hold biscuits or
other goods, and dispose of his pipe by sticking it in the hole through
his nasal septum, which, had times been better, would have been occupied
with a piece of shell, either square, oblong, or of a horseshoe shape.

[77] This is the well-known _Dentalium pretiosum_, or Tooth-shell,
generally known as the _Hioqua_. It is procured chiefly from Cape
Flattery, on the southern side of Juan de Fuca Strait, and from Koskeemo
Sound on the north. The "Aitizzarts" (Ayhuttisahts) probably obtained it
by barter with the tribes on that part of the coast. It is not much used
nowadays.--_The Peoples of the World_, vol. i. p. 60.

[78] This is powdered mica of the black variety. It is obtained in
various places, from veins exposed, for the most part in the beds of

[79] These seem to be the Nimpkish, from the Nimpkish River, south of
Fort Rupert, on the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, who still
frequently cross the island by a chain of rivers and lakes to Nootka
Sound. This is confirmed by Jewitt writing in another place that they
lived somewhat in the interior. It is doubtful whether he knew that the
country in which he lived was an island. At all events, he never
mentions it by that name. This route I have described in "Das Innere der
Vancouver Insel" (Petermann, _Geographische Mittheilungen_, 1869).

[80] _Enhydra lutris_, or "Quiaotluck," now so rapidly decreasing in
numbers that it can scarcely escape the fate of Steller's Rhytina.

[81] For an account of the habits and history of these valued animals,
the reader is referred to _The Countries of the World_, vol. i. p. 304.

[82] The harpoon is at present a little different in construction. Pine
resin, not "turpentine," is used for the purpose described, and the tips
of deers' horns are utilised for the barbs. The most remarkable fact
about the west coast of Vancouver Island whaling is its use of inflated
sealskins to impede the motion of the animal through the water. This is
an Eskimo contrivance in use by the Alaskans and other extreme northern
tribes, from whom the West Vancouverians seem to have borrowed it. In
Sproat's _Scenes and Studies of Savage Life_, p. 226, there is an
excellent description of whaling as practised in that part of Vancouver
Island. The species pursued is usually finbacks, though a "black fish"
with good whalebone is occasionally captured.

[83] The honour of using the harpoon is a hereditary privilege, enjoyed
by only a few men in a tribe, and previous to the whaling season the
crews have to practise all manner of ascetic practices in order to
ensure good luck in the venture.

[84] This porpoise Dr. Gray considered, after examining a skull which I
brought to the British Museum in 1866, to differ little, if at all, from
the _Phocæna communis_ of the Atlantic; but Dr. (afterwards Sir) W. H.
Flower (_List of the Specimens of Cetacea_, etc., 1885, p. 16) seems to
be of a different opinion.

[85] This "sea-cow," of which Meares also speaks as an animal hunted by
the Nootka people, though rarely seen so far south, must, one might
think, be another name for the seal or "sea-calf," were not the latter
expressly referred to by name. The sea-cow, dugong, or manatee is not
found in these seas, and the _Rhytina Stelleri_, once so abundant on
Behring Island in Behring Strait, is generally considered to have been
exterminated in the interval between 1741-1768. This, however, is hardly
in accordance with fact, for, as evidence collected by Nordenskjöld
proves, they were occasionally killed in 1780, while one was seen as
late as 1854. It is therefore by no means improbable that in 1803 a few
stragglers were still waiting their end on the shores of Vancouver
Island. The sea-lion (_Eumetopias Stelleri_) is a seal also verging on
extinction, the _Otaria ursinus_ being now the fur seal of commerce (and
politics) in that part of the North Pacific.

[86] A species of cedar (_Thuja_) is the wood used.



They have a number which they sing on various occasions--at war,[87]
whaling and fishing, at their marriages and feasts, and at public
festivals or solemnities. The language of the most of these appears to
be very different in many respects from that used in their common
conversation, which leads me to believe either that they have a
different mode of expressing themselves in poetry, or that they borrow
their songs from their neighbours; and what the more particularly
induces me to the latter opinion is, that whenever any of the
Newchemass, a people from the northward, and who speak a very different
language, arrived, they used to tell me that they expected a new song,
and were almost always sure to have one.

Their tunes are generally soft and plaintive, and though not possessing
great variety, are not deficient in harmony. Their singing is generally
accompanied with several rude kinds of instrumental music, among the
most prominent of which is a kind of a drum. This is nothing more than
a long plank hollowed out on the under side and made quite thin, which
is beat upon by a stick of about a foot long, and renders a sound not
unlike beating on the head of an empty cask, but much louder.

But the two most favourite instruments are the rattle and the pipe or
whistle; these are, however, only used by the king, the chiefs, or some
particular persons. The former is made of dried sealskin, so as to
represent a fish, and is filled with a number of small smooth pebbles;
it has a short handle, and is painted red. The whistle is made of bone,
generally the leg of a deer; it is short, but emits a very shrill sound.
They have likewise another kind of music, which they make use of in
dancing, in the manner of castanets. This is produced by a number of
mussel or cockle shells tied together and shaken to a kind of tune,
which is accompanied with the voice.

       *       *       *       *       *

Their slaves, as I have observed, form their most valuable species of
property. These are of both sexes, being either captives taken by
themselves in war, or purchased from the neighbouring tribes, and who
reside in the same house, forming as it were a part of the family, are
usually kindly treated, eat of the same food, and live as well as their
masters. They are compelled, however, at times to labour severely, as
not only all the menial offices are performed by them, such as bringing
water, cutting wood, and a variety of others, but they are obliged to
make the canoes, to assist in building and repairing the houses, to
supply their masters with fish, and to attend them in war and to fight
for them.

None but the king and chiefs have slaves, the common people being
prevented from holding them, either from their inability to purchase
them, or, as I am rather inclined to think, from its being considered as
the privilege of the former alone to have them,[88] especially as all
those made prisoners in war belong either to the king or the chiefs who
have captured them, each one holding such as have been taken by himself
or his slaves. There is probably, however, some little distinction in
favour of the king, who is always the commander of the expedition, as
Maquina had nearly fifty, male and female, in his house, a number
constituting about one half of its inhabitants, comprehending those
obtained by war and purchase; whereas none of the other chiefs had more
than twelve. The females are employed principally in manufacturing
cloth, in cooking, collecting berries, etc., and with regard to food and
living in general have not a much harder lot than their mistresses, the
principal difference consisting in these poor unfortunate creatures
being considered as free to any one, their masters prostituting them
whenever they think proper for the purpose of gain. In this way many of
them are brought on board the ships and offered to the crews, from
whence an opinion appears to have been formed by some of our navigators
injurious to the chastity of their females, than which nothing can be
more generally untrue, as perhaps in no part of the world is that virtue
more prized.[89]

The houses at Nootka, as already stated, are about twenty, without
comprising those inhabited by the Klahars, a small tribe that has been
conquered and incorporated into that of Nootka, though they must be
considered as in a state of vassalage, as they are not permitted to have
any chiefs among them, and live by themselves in a cluster of small
houses at a little distance from the village. The Nootka tribe, which
consists of about five hundred warriors,[90] is not only more numerous
than almost any of the neighbouring tribes, but far exceeds them in the
strength and martial spirit of its people; and in fact there are but few
nations within a hundred miles either to the north or south but are
considered as tributary to them.

In giving some account of the tribes that were accustomed to visit
Nootka, I shall commence at the southward with the Kla-iz-zarts, and the
Wickinninish, premising that in point of personal appearance there
prevails a wonderful diversity between the various tribes on the coast,
with the exception of the feet and legs, which are badly shaped in
almost all of them from their practice of sitting on them.

The Kla-iz-zarts are a numerous and powerful tribe, living nearly three
hundred miles to the south, and are said to consist of more than a
thousand warriors.[91] They appear to be more civilised than any of the
others, being better and more neatly dressed, more mild and affable in
their manners, remarkable for their sprightliness and vivacity, and
celebrated for their singing and dancing.

They exhibit also greater marks of improvement in whatever is wrought by
them; their canoes, though not superior to those of Nootka in point of
form and lightness, are more highly ornamented, and their weapons and
tools of every kind have a much higher finish and display more skill in
the workmanship. Their cast of countenance is very different from that
of the Nootkians, their faces being very broad, with a less prominent
nose and smaller eyes, and the top of the head flattened as if it had
been pressed down with a weight. Their complexion is also much fairer,
and their stature shorter, though they are well formed and strongly set.

They have a custom which appears to be peculiar to them, as I never
observed it in any of the other tribes, which is to pluck out not only
their beards and the hair from their bodies, but also their eyebrows, so
as not to leave a vestige remaining. They were also in general more
skilful in painting and decorating themselves, and I have seen some of
them with no less than a dozen holes in each of their ears, to which
were suspended strings of small beads about two inches in length. Their
language is the same as spoken at Nootka, but their pronunciation is
much more hoarse and guttural. These people are not only very expert in
whaling, but are great hunters of the sea-otter and other animals, with
which their country is said to abound, and the metamelth, a large animal
of the deer kind, the skin of which I have already spoken of, another of
a light grey colour, with very fine hair, from which they manufacture a
handsome cloth, the beaver, and a species of large wild cat or tiger

The Wickinninish,[92] their neighbours on the north, are about two
hundred miles from Nootka. They are a robust, strong, and warlike
people, but considered by the Nootkians as their inferiors in courage.
This tribe is more numerous than that of Nootka, amounting to between
six and seven hundred warriors. Though not so civilised as the
Kla-iz-zarts, and less skilful in their manufactures, like them they
employ themselves in hunting, as well as in whaling and fishing. Their
faces are broad, but less so than the Kla-iz-zarts, with a darker
complexion and a much less open and pleasing expression of countenance,
while their heads present a very different form, being pressed in at the
sides and lengthened towards the top somewhat in the shape of a sugar
loaf. These people are very frequent visitors at Nootka, a close
friendship subsisting between the two nations, Maquina's _Arcomah_ or
queen, _Y-ya-tintla-no_, being the daughter of the Wickinninish king.

The Kla-oo-quates[93] adjoining them on the north are much less
numerous, their force not exceeding four hundred fighting men; they are
also behind them in the arts of life. These are a fierce, bold, and
enterprising people, and there were none that visited Nootka, whom
Maquina used to be more on his guard against, or viewed with so much
suspicion. The Eshquates[94] are about the same number; these are
considered as tributary to Maquina. Their coast abounds with rivers,
creeks, and marshes.

[Illustration: UK-LULAC-AHT INDIAN.]

To the north the nearest tribe of any importance is the Aitizzarts;[95]
these, however, do not exceed three hundred warriors. In appearance
they greatly resemble the people of Nootka, to whom they are considered
as tributary, their manners, dress, and style of living also being very
similar. They reside at about forty miles' distance up the Sound. A
considerable way farther to the northward are the Cayuquets;[96] these
are a much more numerous tribe than that of Nootka, but thought by the
latter to be deficient in courage and martial spirit, Maquina having
frequently told me that their hearts were a little like those of birds.

There are also both at the north and south many other intervening
tribes, but in general small in number and insignificant, all of whom,
as well as the above-mentioned, speak the same language. But the
Newchemass, who come from a great way to the northward, and from some
distance inland, as I was told by Maquina, speak quite a different
language,[97] although it is well understood by those of Nootka. These
were the most savage-looking and ugly men that I ever saw, their
complexion being much darker, their stature shorter, and their hair
coarser, than that of the other nations, and their dress and appearance
dirty in an extreme. They wear their beards long like Jews, and have a
very morose and surly countenance. Their usual dress is a _kotsuk_ made
of wolf-skin, with a number of the tails attached to it, of which I have
seen no less than ten on one garment, hanging from the top to the
bottom; though they sometimes wear a similar mantle of bark cloth, of a
much coarser texture than that of Nootka, the original of which appears
to be the same, though from their very great filthiness it was almost
impossible to discover what it had been.

Their mode of dressing the hair also varies essentially from that of the
other tribes, for they suffer that on the back of the head to hang
loose, and bind the other over their foreheads in the manner of a
fillet, with a strip of their country cloth, ornamented with small white
shells. Their weapons are the _cheetolth_, or war-club, which is made
from whalebone, daggers, bow and arrows, and a kind of spear pointed
with bone or copper.[98] They brought with them no furs for sale,
excepting a few wolf-skins, their merchandise consisting principally of
the black shining mineral called _pelpelth_, and the fine red paint,
which they carefully kept in close mat bags, some small dried salmon,
clams, and roes of fish, with occasionally a little coarse matting
cloth. They were accustomed to remain a much longer time at Nootka than
the other tribes, in order to recover from the fatigue of a long
journey, part of which was overland, and on these occasions taught their
songs to our savages.

The trade of most of the other tribes with Nootka was principally
train-oil, seal or whale's blubber, fish fresh or dried, herring or
salmon spawn, clams and mussels, and the _yama_,[99] a species of fruit
which is pressed and dried, cloth, sea-otter skins, and slaves. From
the Aitizzarts and the Cayuquets, particularly the former, the best
Ife-whaw and in the greatest quantities was obtained. The Eshquates
furnished us with wild ducks and geese, particularly the latter. The
Wickinninish and Kla-iz-zarts brought to market many slaves, the best
sea-otter skins, great quantities of oil, whale sinew, and cakes of the
_yama_, highly ornamented canoes, some Ife-whaw, red ochre and pelpelth
of an inferior quality to that obtained from the Newchemass, but
particularly the so much valued metamelth, and an excellent root called
by the Kla-iz-zarts _Quawnoose_.[100] This is the size of a small onion,
but rather longer, being of a tapering form like a pear, and of a
brownish colour. It is cooked by steam, is always brought in baskets
ready prepared for eating, and is in truth a very fine vegetable, being
sweet, mealy, and of a most agreeable flavour. It was highly esteemed by
the natives, who used to eat it, as they did everything else, with
train-oil. From the Kla-iz-zarts was also received, though in no great
quantity, a cloth manufactured by them from the fur already spoken of,
which feels like wool and is of a grey colour.

Many of the articles thus brought, particularly the provisions, were
considered as presents, or tributary offerings, but this must be viewed
as little more than a nominal acknowledgment of superiority, as they
rarely failed to get the full amount of the value of their presents. I
have known eighteen of the great tubs, in which they keep their
provisions, filled with spawn brought in this way. On these occasions a
great feast is always made, to which not only the strangers, but the
whole village, men, women, and children, are generally invited, and I
have seen five of the largest tubs employed at such time, in cooking at
the king's house. At these feasts they generally indulge in eating to an
excess, making up in this respect for their want of inebriating liquors,
which they know no method of preparing in any form, their only drink
being water.

Whenever they came to visit or trade, it was their general custom to
stop a few miles distant, under the lee of some bluff or rock, and rig
themselves out in their best manner, by painting and dressing their
heads. On their first coming on shore, they were invited to eat by the
king, when they brought to him such articles as he wanted, after which
the rest of the inhabitants were permitted to purchase, the strangers
being careful to keep them in their canoes until sold, under strict
guard to prevent their being stolen, the disposition of these people for
thieving being so great, that it is necessary to keep a watchful eye
upon them.

This was their usual mode of traffic, but whenever they wished to
purchase any particular object, as, for instance, a certain slave, or
some other thing of which they were very desirous, the canoe that came
for this purpose would lie off a little distance from the shore, and a
kind of ambassador or representative of the king or chief by whom it was
sent, dressed in their best manner, and with his head covered with the
white down, would rise, and, after making known the object of his
mission in a pompous speech, hold up specimens of such articles as he
was instructed to offer in payment, mentioning the number or quantity of
each, when, if the bargain was concluded, the exchange was immediately

On their visits of friendship or traffic, the chiefs alone used to sleep
on shore; this was generally at the house of the king or the head chief,
the others passing the night on board of their canoes, which was done
not only for the preservation of their property, but because they were
not permitted to remain on shore, lest they might excite some
disturbance or commit depredations.

All these people generally go armed, the common class wearing only a
dagger suspended from their neck behind, with a string of metamelth, and
sometimes thrust in their girdles. The chiefs, in addition to the
dagger, carry the cheetolth, or war-club, suspended in the same manner
beneath their mantles; this, in the hands of a strong man, is a powerful
weapon, in the management of which some of the older chiefs are very
dexterous. It is made from the bone of a whale, and is very heavy. The
blade is about eighteen inches long and three broad, till it approaches
near the point, where it expands to the breadth of four inches. In the
middle, from whence it slopes off gradually to an edge on each side, it
is from one to two inches in thickness. This blade is usually covered
with figures of the sun and moon, a man's head, etc.; and the hilt,
which is made to represent the head of a man or some animal, is
curiously set with small white shells, and has a band of metamelth
fastened to it, in order to sling it over the shoulder. Some of the
tribes have also a kind of spear headed with copper or the bone of the
sting ray, which is a dangerous weapon; this is, however, not usual, and
only carried by the chiefs. The bow and arrow are still used by a few,
but since the introduction of firearms among them, this weapon has been
mostly laid aside.


[87] A specimen of one of their war-songs will be found at the end of
this work.

[88] This was not the case. Any free-born native, provided he had the
means, could own a slave.

[89] This is largely a tale of the past.

[90] It is questionable if there are now as many people in the whole
tribe. Cook estimated the population of Friendly Cove at two thousand.

[91] This is wrong. The Kla-iz-zarts (Klahosahts) live _north_ of Nootka

[92] In Meares's time (1788) Wickinninish was regarded as the most
powerful chief, next to Maquina or Maquilla, as he calls him. His
residence was usually at "Port Cox" (Clayoquat Sound), but his territory
extended as far south as Nettinaht, his subjects comprising thirteen
thousand people. Meares does not fall into Jewitt's blunder of
confounding the name of the chief with that of his tribe. But Meares
derived his information first hand, while Jewitt obtained it merely from
hearsay, never having visited any other part except the immediate
vicinity of Nootka Sound.

[93] Klayoquahts. They have now barely two hundred warriors.

[94] Hishquahts. If they have twenty men, that is all. Thirty years ago
they had only thirty adult males.

[95] Ayhuttisahts. Thirty years ago they had thirty-six men fit to

[96] Ky-yoh-quahts. In 1860 they numbered two hundred and thirty adult

[97] Namely, the Kwakiool spoken on the east and north coasts of
Vancouver Island from Comox northwards.

[98] These implements have fallen out of use.

[99] The salal (_Gaultheria Shallon_), which forms a carpet to the
ground, especially where the soil is poor.

[100] The bulb of a pretty blue lily (_Gamassia esculenta_), well known
all over North-West America as the "gamass" or "kamass." The digging and
storing of it in summer form one of the most picturesque of Indian
occupations. The gamass camps are always lively, and the skill and
industry which a girl displays in this important part of her future
duties are carefully noted by the young men in search of wives.



But to return to our unhappy situation. Though my comrade and myself
fared as well, and even better than we could have expected among these
people, considering their customs and mode of living, yet our fears lest
no ship would come to our release, and that we should never more behold
a Christian country, were to us a source of constant pain. Our principal
consolation, in this gloomy state, was to go on Sundays, whenever the
weather would permit, to the borders of a freshwater pond about a mile
from the village, where, after bathing and putting on clean clothes, we
would seat ourselves under the shade of a beautiful pine, while I read
some chapters in the Bible, and the prayers appointed by our Church for
the day, ending our devotions with a fervent prayer to the Almighty,
that He would deign still to watch over and preserve our lives, rescue
us from the hands of the savages, and permit us once more to behold a
Christian land.

In this manner were the greater part of our Sundays passed at Nootka;
and I felt gratified to Heaven that, amidst our other sufferings, we
were at least allowed the pleasure of offering up our devotions
unmolested, for Maquina, on my explaining to him as well as was in my
power the reason of our thus retiring at this time, far from objecting,
readily consented to it.

The pond above mentioned was small, not more than a quarter of a mile in
breadth, and of no great length, the water being very clear, though not
of great depth, and bordered by a beautiful forest of pine, fir,
elm,[101] and beech,[101] free from bushes and underwood--a most
delightful retreat, which was rendered still more attractive by a great
number of birds that frequented it, particularly the humming-bird.[102]
Thither we used to go to wash our clothes, and felt secure from any
intrusion from the natives, as they rarely visited it, except for the
purpose of cleansing themselves of their paint.

In July we at length thought that the hope of delivery we had so long
anxiously indulged was on the point of being gratified. A ship appeared
in the offing; but, alas! our fond hopes vanished almost as soon as
formed; for, instead of standing in for the shore, she passed to the
northward, and soon disappeared. I shall not attempt to describe our
disappointment--my heart sank within me, and I felt as though it was my
destiny never more to behold a Christian face. Four days after, there
occurred a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning, during which the
natives manifested great alarm and terror, the whole tribe hurrying to
Maquina's house, where, instead of keeping within, they seated
themselves on the roof, amid the severest of the tempest, drumming upon
the boards, and looking up to heaven, while the king beat the long
hollow plank, singing, and, as he afterwards told me, begging
_Quahootze_, the name they give to God, not to kill them, in which he
was accompanied by the whole tribe; this singing and drumming was
continued until the storm abated.

As the summer drew near its close, we began to suffer from the frequent
want of food, which was principally owing to Maquina and the chiefs
being out whaling, in which he would not permit Thompson and myself to
join, lest we should make our escape to some of the neighbouring tribes.
At these times the women seldom or ever cook any provision, and we were
often hungry, but were sometimes fortunate enough to procure secretly a
piece of salmon, some other fish, spawn, or even blubber, which, by
boiling in salt water, with a few onions and turnips, the remains of the
Spanish garden, or young nettles or other herbs, furnished us a
delicious repast in private.

In the meantime, we frequently received accounts from the tribes who
came to Nootka, both from the north and south, of there being vessels on
the coast, and were advised by their chiefs to make our escape, who also
promised us their aid, and to put us on board. These stories, however,
as I afterwards learned, were almost all of them without any foundation,
and merely invented by these people with a view to get us into their
power, in order to make slaves of us themselves, or to sell us to

But I was still more strongly solicited to leave Nootka by a woman. This
was a Wickinninish princess, a younger sister of Maquina's wife, who was
there on a visit. I had the good fortune, if it may be so called, to
become quite a favourite with her. She appeared much interested for me,
asked me many questions respecting my country, if I had a mother and
sister at home, and if they would not grieve for my absence. Her
complexion was fairer than that of the women in general, and her
features more regular, and she would have been quite handsome had it not
been for a defect in one of her eyes, the sight of which had been
injured by some accident; the reason, as Maquina told me, why she had
not been married, a defect of this kind being by these savages
considered as almost an insuperable objection. She urged me repeatedly
to return with her, telling me that the Wickinninish were much better
than the Nootkians; that her father would treat me more kindly than
Maquina, give me better food and clothes, and finally put me on board
one of my own country vessels. I felt, however, little disposed to
accompany her, considering my situation with Maquina full as eligible as
it would be with Wickinninish, if not better, notwithstanding all she
said to the contrary.

On the 3rd of September the whole tribe quitted Nootka, according to
their constant practice, in order to pass the autumn and winter at
Tashees[103] and Cooptee, the latter lying about thirty miles up the
Sound, in a deep bay, the navigation of which is very dangerous, from
the great number of reefs and rocks with which it abounds.

On these occasions everything is taken with them, even the planks of
their houses, in order to cover their new dwellings. To an European such
a removal exhibits a scene quite novel and strange; canoes piled up with
boards and boxes, and filled with men, women, and children, of all ranks
and sizes, making the air resound with their cries and songs.

At these times, as well as when they have occasion to go some distance
from their houses, the infants are usually suspended across the mother's
shoulders, in a kind of cradle or hammock, formed of bark, of about six
inches in depth, and of the length of the child, by means of a leather
band inserted through loops on its edges; this they also keep them in
when at home, in order to preserve them in a straight position, and
prevent any distortion of the limbs, most probably a principal cause of
these people being so seldom deformed or crooked.

The longboat of our ship having been repaired and furnished with a sail
by Thompson, Maquina gave us the direction of it, we being better
acquainted with managing it than his people, and, after loading her as
deep as she could swim, we proceeded in company with them to the north,
quitting Nootka with heavy hearts, as we could entertain no hopes of
release until our return, no ships ever coming to that part of the
coast. Passing Cooptee, which is situated on the southern bank, just
within the mouth of a small river flowing from the east in a narrow
valley at the foot of a mountain, we proceeded about fifteen miles up
this stream to Tashees, between a range of lofty hills on each side,
which extend a great distance inland, and are covered with the finest
forest trees of the country. Immediately on our arrival, we all went to
work very diligently in covering the houses with the planks we had
brought, the frames being ready erected, these people never pretending
to remove the timber. In a very short time the work was completed, and
we were established in our new residence.

Tashees is pleasantly situated, and in a most secure position from the
winter storms, in a small vale or hollow on the south shore, at the foot
of a mountain. The spot on which it stands is level, and the soil very
fine, the country in its vicinity abounding with the most romantic
views, charmingly diversified, and fine streams of water falling in
beautiful cascades from the mountains. The river at this place is about
twenty rods in width, and, in its deepest part, from nine to twelve
feet. This village is the extreme point of navigation, as, immediately
beyond, the river becomes much more shallow, and is broken into falls
and rapids. The houses here are placed in a line like those at Nootka,
but closer together, the situation being more confined; they are also
smaller, in consequence of which we were much crowded, and incommoded
for room.

The principal object in coming to this place is the facility it affords
these people of providing their winter stock of provisions, which
consists principally of salmon, and the spawn of that fish; to which may
be added herrings and sprats, and herring spawn. The latter, however, is
always procured by them at Nootka, previous to their quitting it. At the
seasons of spawning, which are early in spring and the last of August,
they collect a great quantity of pine branches, which they place in
different parts of the Cove at the depth of about ten feet, and secure
them by means of heavy stones. On these the herring deposit their spawn
in immense quantities; the bushes are then taken up, the spawn stripped
from the branches, and, after being washed and freed from the pine
leaves by the women, is dried and put up in baskets for use. It is
considered as their greatest delicacy, and eaten both cooked and raw; in
the former case, being boiled and eaten with train-oil, and in the
latter, mixed up with cold water alone.

The salmon are taken at Tashees, principally in pots or wears. Their
method of taking them in wears is thus:--A pot of twenty feet in length,
and from four to five feet diameter at the mouth, is formed of a great
number of pine splinters, which are strongly secured, an inch and a half
from each other, by means of hoops made of flexible twigs, and placed
about eight inches apart. At the end it tapers almost to a point, near
which is a small wicker door for the purpose of taking out the fish.
This pot or wear is placed at the foot of a fall or rapid, where the
water is not very deep, and the fish, driven from above with long poles,
are intercepted and caught in the wear, from whence they are taken into
the canoes. In this manner I have seen more than seven hundred salmon
caught in the space of fifteen minutes.[104] I have also sometimes known
a few of the striped bass taken in this manner, but rarely.


At such times there is great feasting and merriment among them. The
women and female slaves being busily employed in cooking, or in curing
the fish for their winter stock, which is done by cutting off the heads
and tails, splitting them, taking out the back bone, and hanging them up
in their houses to dry. They also dry the halibut and cod, but these,
instead of curing whole, they cut up into small pieces for that purpose,
and expose to the sun.

The spawn of the salmon, which is a principal article of their
provision, they take out, and, without any other preparation, throw it
into their tubs, where they leave it to stand and ferment, for, though
they frequently eat it fresh, they esteem it much more when it has
acquired a strong taste, and one of the greatest favours they can confer
on any person, is to invite him to eat _Quakamiss_, the name they give
this food, though scarcely anything can be more repugnant to an European
palate, than it is in this state; and whenever they took it out of these
large receptacles, which they are always careful to fill, such was the
stench which it exhaled, on being moved, that it was almost impossible
for me to abide it, even after habit had in a great degree dulled the
delicacy of my senses. When boiled it became less offensive, though it
still retained much of the putrid smell, and something of the taste.

Such is the immense quantity of these fish, and they are taken with such
facility, that I have known upwards of twenty-five hundred brought into
Maquina's house at once; and at one of their great feasts, have seen
one hundred or more cooked in one of their largest tubs.

I used frequently to go out with Maquina upon these fishing parties, and
was always sure to receive a handsome present of salmon, which I had the
privilege of calling mine; I also went with him several times in a
canoe, to strike the salmon, which I have attempted to do myself, but
could never succeed, it requiring a degree of adroitness that I did not
possess. I was also permitted to go out with a gun, and was several
times very successful in shooting wild ducks and teal, which are very
numerous here, though rather shy. These they cooked in their usual
manner, by boiling, without any farther dressing than skinning them.

In many respects, however, our situation was less pleasant here than at
Nootka. We were more incommoded for room, the houses not being so
spacious, nor so well arranged, and as it was colder, we were compelled
to be much more within doors. We, however, did not neglect on Sundays,
when the weather would admit, to retire into the woods, and, by the side
of some stream, after bathing, return our thanks to God for preserving
us, and offer up to Him our customary devotions.

I was, however, very apprehensive, soon after our arrival at this place,
that I should be deprived of the satisfaction of keeping my journal, as
Maquina one day, observing me writing, inquired of me what I was doing,
and when I endeavoured to explain it, by telling him that I was keeping
an account of the weather, he said it was not so, and that I was
speaking bad about him, and telling how he had taken our ship and killed
the crew, so as to inform my countrymen, and that if he ever saw me
writing in it again, he would throw it into the fire. I was much
rejoiced that he did no more than threaten, and became very cautious
afterwards not to let him see me write.

Not long after, I finished some daggers for him, which I polished
highly; these pleased him much, and he gave me directions to make a
cheetolth, in which I succeeded so far to his satisfaction, that he gave
me a present of cloth sufficient to make me a complete suit of raiment,
besides other things.

Thompson also, who had become rather more of a favourite than formerly,
since he had made a fine sail for his canoe, and some garments for him
out of European cloth, about this time completed another, which was
thought by the savages a most superb dress. This was a _kotsuk_ or
mantle, a fathom square, made entirely of European vest patterns of the
gayest colours. These were sewed together in a manner to make the best
show, and bound with a deep trimming of the finest otter-skin, with
which the arm-holes were also bordered; while the bottom was further
embellished with five or six rows of gilt buttons, placed as near as
possible to each other.

Nothing could exceed the pride of Maquina when he first put on this
royal robe, decorated, like the coat of Joseph, with all the colours of
the rainbow, and glittering with the buttons, which as he strutted about
made a tinkling, while he repeatedly exclaimed, in a transport of
exultation, "_Klew shish Kotsuk--wick kum_ _atack Nootka_."[105]--"A
fine garment--Nootka can't make them."

Maquina, who knew that the chiefs of the tribes who came to visit us had
endeavoured to persuade me to escape, frequently cautioned me not to
listen to them, saying that, should I make the attempt, and he were to
take me, he should certainly put me to death. While here, he gave me a
book, in which I found the names of seven persons belonging to the ship
_Manchester_, of Philadelphia, Captain Brian--viz. Daniel Smith, Lewis
Gillon, James Tom, Clark, Johnson, Ben, and Jack. These men, as Maquina
informed me, ran away from the ship and came to him, but that six of
them soon after went off in the night, with an intention to go to the
Wickinninish, but were stopped by the Eshquates, and sent back to him,
and that he ordered them to be put to death; and a most cruel death it
was, as I was told by one of the natives, four men holding one of them
on the ground, and forcing open his mouth, while they choked him by
ramming stones down his throat.

As to Jack, the boy, who made no attempt to go off, Maquina afterwards
sold him to the Wickinninish. I was informed by the Princess Yuqua that
he was quite a small boy, who cried a great deal, being put to hard
labour beyond his strength by the natives, in cutting wood and bringing
water, and that when he heard of the murder of our crew, it had such an
effect on him, that he fell sick, and died shortly after. On learning
the melancholy fate of this unfortunate lad, it again awakened in my
bosom those feelings that I had experienced at the shocking death of my
poor comrades.


[101] These trees are not found in Vancouver Island. Possibly, though
they are not very like, Jewitt mistook them for the Oregon alder and the
American ash, both trees of that locality.

[102] This is the migratory red-backed species (_Selasphorus rufus_, p.

[103] "Tashis Canal" of seamen--the Tashis River flows in at its head,
Coptee is at the mouth, Tashis farther up the stream.

[104] Salmon used to be bought at Alberni at the rate of a cent apiece.
There have been times when the garden at Fort Rupert was manured with
fresh salmon.

[105] This is a fair specimen of the kind of _lingua franca_ which even
then had begun to spring up in the intercourse of the early traders with
the Indians, and which by now takes the shape of the Chinook Jargon.
For, apart from the imperfectly pronounced Indian words, there is no
such term as Nootka in any language. It was a misconception of the first
visitors there. They probably mistook _Nootchee_, a mountain, for the
name of the country generally (p. 29).



The king, finding that I was desirous of learning their language, was
much delighted, and took great pleasure in conversing with me. On one of
these occasions he explained to me his reasons for cutting off our ship,
saying that he bore no ill will to my countrymen, but that he had been
several times treated very ill by them. The first injury of which he had
cause to complain, was done him by a Captain Tawnington, who commanded a
schooner which passed a winter at Friendly Cove, where he was well
treated by the inhabitants. This man, taking advantage of Maquina's
absence, who had gone to the Wickinninish to procure a wife, armed
himself and crew, and entered the house, where there were none but
women, whom he threw into the greatest consternation, and, searching the
chests, took away all the skins, of which Maquina had no less than forty
of the best; and that about the same time, four of their chiefs were
barbarously killed by a Captain Martinez, a Spaniard.[106]

That soon after, Captain Hanna, of the _Sea Otter_[107] in consequence
of one of the natives having stolen a chisel from the carpenter, fired
upon their canoes which were alongside, and killed upwards of twenty of
the natives, of whom several were _Tyees_ or chiefs; and that he
himself, being on board the vessel, in order to escape was obliged to
leap from the quarter-deck, and swim for a long way under water.

These injuries had excited in the breast of Maquina an ardent desire of
revenge, the strongest passion of the savage heart, and though many
years had elapsed since their commission, still they were not forgotten,
and the want of a favourable opportunity alone prevented him from sooner
avenging them. Unfortunately for us, the long-wished-for opportunity at
length presented itself in our ship, which Maquina finding not guarded
with the usual vigilance of the North-West traders, and feeling his
desire of revenge rekindled by the insult offered him by Captain Salter,
formed a plan for attacking, and on his return called a council of his
chiefs, and communicated it to them, acquainting them with the manner in
which he had been treated. No less desirous of avenging this affront
offered their king than their former injuries, they readily agreed to
his proposal, which was to go on board without arms as usual, but under
different pretexts, in great numbers, and wait for his signal for the
moment of attacking their unsuspecting victims. The execution of this
scheme, as the reader knows, was unhappily too successful.

And here I cannot but indulge a reflection that has frequently occurred
to me on the manner in which our people behave towards the natives. For,
though they are a thievish race, yet I have no doubt that many of the
melancholy disasters have principally arisen from the imprudent conduct
of some of the captains and crews of the ships employed in this trade,
in exasperating them by insulting, plundering, and even killing them on
slight grounds. This, as nothing is more sacred with a savage than the
principle of revenge, and no people are so impatient under insult,
induces them to wreak their vengeance upon the first vessel or boat's
crew that offers, making the innocent too frequently suffer for the
wrongs of the guilty, as few of them know how to discriminate between
persons of the same general appearance, more especially when speaking
the same language. And to this cause do I believe must principally be
ascribed the sanguinary disposition with which these people are
reproached, as Maquina repeatedly told me that it was not his wish to
hurt a white man, and that he never should have done it, though ever so
much in his power, had they not injured him.


And were the commanders of our ships to treat the savages with rather
more civility than they sometimes do, I am inclined to think they would
find their account in it; not that I should recommend to them a
confidence in the good faith and friendly professions of these people,
so as in any degree to remit their vigilance, but, on the contrary, to
be strictly on their guard, and suffer but a very few of them to come on
board the ship, and admit not many of their canoes alongside at a time;
a precaution that would have been the means of preventing some of the
unfortunate events that have occurred, and if attended to, may in future
preserve many a valuable life. Such a regulation, too, from what I know
of their disposition and wants, would produce no serious difficulty in
trading with the savages, and they would soon become perfectly
reconciled to it.

Among the provisions which the Indians procure at Tashees, I must not
omit mentioning a fruit that is very important, as forming a great
article of their food. This is what is called by them the _Yama_,[108] a
species of berry that grows in bunches like currants, upon a bush from
two to three feet high, with a large, round, and smooth leaf. This berry
is black, and about the size of a pistol shot, but of rather an oblong
shape, and open at the top like the blue whortleberry. The taste is
sweet, but a little acrid, and when first gathered, if eaten in any
great quantity, especially without oil, is apt to produce colics. To
procure it, large companies of women go out on the mountains,
accompanied by armed men to protect them against wild beasts, where they
frequently remain for several days, kindling a fire at night, and
sheltering themselves under sheds constructed of boughs. At these
parties they collect great quantities. I have known Maquina's queen and
her women return loaded, bringing with them upwards of twelve bushels.
In order to preserve it, it is pressed in the bunches between two
planks, and dried and put away in baskets for use. It is always eaten
with oil.

Of berries of various kinds, such as strawberries, raspberries,
blackberries, etc., there are great quantities in the country, of which
the natives are very fond, gathering them in their seasons, and eating
them with oil, but the yama is the only one that they preserve.

Fish is, however, their great article of food, as almost all the others,
excepting the yama, may be considered as accidental. They nevertheless
are far from disrelishing meat, for instance, venison and bear's flesh.
With regard to the latter, they have a most singular custom, which is,
that any one who eats of it is obliged to abstain from eating any kind
of fresh fish whatever for the term of two months, as they have a
superstitious belief that, should any of their people, after tasting
bear's flesh, eat of fresh salmon, cod, etc., the fish, though at ever
so great a distance off, would come to the knowledge of it, and be so
much offended thereat as not to allow themselves to be taken by any of
the inhabitants. This I had an opportunity of observing while at
Tashees, a bear having been killed early in December, of which not more
than ten of the natives would eat, being prevented by the prohibition
annexed to it, which also was the reason of my comrade and myself not
tasting it, on being told by Maquina the consequences.

As there is something quite curious in their management of this animal,
when they have killed one, I shall give a description of it. After well
cleansing the bear from the dirt and blood with which it is generally
covered when killed, it is brought in and seated opposite the king in an
upright posture, with a chief's bonnet, wrought in figures, on its head,
and its fur powdered over with the white down. A tray of provision is
then set before it, and it is invited by words and gestures to eat. This
mock ceremony over, the reason of which I could never learn, the animal
is taken and skinned, and the flesh and entrails boiled up into a soup,
no part but the paunch being rejected.[109]

This dressing the bear, as they call it, is an occasion of great
rejoicing throughout the village, all the inhabitants being invited to a
great feast at the king's house, though but few of them, in consequence
of the penalty, will venture to eat of the flesh, but generally content
themselves with their favourite dish of herring spawn and water. The
feast on this occasion was closed by a dance from Sat-sat-sok-sis, in
the manner I have already described, in the course of which he
repeatedly shifted his mask for another of a different form.

A few days after, a second bear was taken, like the former, by means of
a trap. This I had the curiosity to go and see at the place where it was
caught, which was in the following manner:--On the edge of a small
stream of water in the mountains which the salmon ascend, and near the
spot where the bear is accustomed to watch for them, which is known by
its track, a trap or box about the height of a man's head is built of
posts and planks with a flat top, on which are laid a number of large
stones or rocks. The top and sides are then carefully covered with turf,
so as to resemble a little mound, and wholly to exclude the light, a
narrow entrance of the height of the building only being left, just
sufficient to admit the head and shoulders of the beast. On the inside,
to a large plank that covers the top is suspended by a strong cord a
salmon, the plank being left loose, so that a forcible pull will bring
it down. On coming to its usual haunt, the bear enters the trap, and, in
endeavouring to pull away the fish, brings down the whole covering with
its load of stones upon its head, and is almost always crushed to death
on the spot, or so wounded as to be unable to escape.[110]

They are always careful to examine these traps every day, in order, if a
bear be caught, to bring it immediately, for it is not a little singular
that these people will eat no kind of meat that is in the least tainted,
or not perfectly fresh, while, on the contrary, it is hardly possible
for fish to be in too putrid a state for them, and I have frequently
known them, when a whale has been driven ashore, bring pieces of it home
with them in a state of offensiveness insupportable to anything but a
crow, and devour it with high relish, considering it as preferable to
that which is fresh.

On the morning of the 13th of December, commenced what to us appeared a
most singular farce. Apparently without any previous notice, Maquina
discharged a pistol close to his son's ear, who immediately fell down as
if killed, upon which all the women of the house set up a most
lamentable cry, tearing handfuls of hair from their heads, and
exclaiming that the prince was dead. At the same time a great number of
the inhabitants rushed into the house, armed with their daggers,
muskets, etc., inquiring the cause of their outcry. These were
immediately followed by two others dressed in wolf-skins, with masks
over their faces representing the head of that animal; the latter came
in on their hands and feet in the manner of a beast, and, taking up the
prince, carried him off upon their backs, retiring in the same manner
they entered. We saw nothing more of the ceremony, as Maquina came to
us, and, giving us a quantity of dried provision, ordered us to quit the
house, and not return to the village before the expiration of seven
days, for that if we appeared within that period, he should kill us.

At any other season of the year such an order would by us have been
considered as an indulgence, in enabling us to pass our time in whatever
way we wished; and even now, furnished as we were with sufficient
provision for that term, it was not very unpleasant to us, more
particularly Thompson, who was always desirous to keep as much as
possible out of the society and sight of the natives, whom he detested.
Taking with us our provisions, a bundle of clothes, and our axes, we
obeyed the directions of Maquina, and withdrew into the woods, where we
built ourselves a cabin to shelter us, with the branches of trees, and,
keeping up a good fire, secured ourselves pretty well from the cold.
Here we passed the prescribed period of our exile, with more content
than much of the time while with them, employing the day in reading and
praying for our release, or in rambling around and exploring the
country, the soil of which we found to be very good, and the face of it,
beautifully diversified with hills and valleys, refreshed with the
finest streams of water, and at night enjoyed comfortable repose upon a
bed of soft leaves, with our garments spread over us to protect us from
the cold.

At the end of seven days we returned, and found several of the people of
Ai-tiz-zart with their king or chief at Tashees, who had been invited by
Maquina to attend the close of this performance, which I now learned was
a celebration, held by them annually, in honour of their god, whom they
call _Quahootze_,[111] to return him their thanks for his past, and
implore his future favours. It terminated on the 21st, the day after our
return, with a most extraordinary exhibition. Three men, each of whom
had two bayonets run through his sides, between the ribs, apparently
regardless of the pain, traversed the room, backwards and forwards,
singing war-songs, and exulting in this display of firmness.

On the arrival of the 25th, we could not but call to mind that this,
being Christmas, was in our country a day of the greatest festivity,
when our fellow-countrymen, assembled in their churches, were
celebrating the goodness of God and the praises of the Saviour. What a
reverse did our situation offer!--captives in a savage land, and slaves
to a set of ignorant beings, unacquainted with religion or humanity,
hardly were we permitted to offer up our devotions by ourselves in the
woods, while we felt even grateful for this privilege. Thither, with the
king's permission, we withdrew, and, after reading the service appointed
for the day, sung the hymn of the Nativity, fervently praying that
Heaven in its goodness would permit us to celebrate the next festival of
this kind in some Christian land.

On our return, in order to conform as much as was in our power to the
custom of our country, we were desirous of having a better supper than
usual. With this view, we bought from one of the natives some dried
clams and oil, and a root called _Kletsup_,[112] which we cooked by
steaming, and found it very palatable. This root consists of many
fibres, of about six inches long, and of the size of a crow quill. It is
sweet, of an agreeable taste, not unlike the _Quawnoose_, and it is
eaten with oil. The plant that produces it I have never seen.

On the 31st all the tribe quitted Tashees for Cooptee, whither they go
to pass the remainder of the winter, and complete their fishing, taking
off everything with them in the same manner as at Nootka. We arrived in
a few hours at Cooptee, which is about fifteen miles, and immediately
set about covering the houses, which was soon completed.

This place, which is their great herring and sprat fishery, stands just
within the mouth of the river, on the same side with Tashees, in a very
narrow valley at the foot of a high mountain. Though nearly as secure
as Tashees from the winter storms, it is by no means so pleasantly
situated, though to us it was a much more agreeable residence, as it
brought us nearer Nootka, where we were impatient to return, in hopes of
finding some vessel there, or hearing of the arrival of one near.

The first snow that fell this season was the day after our arrival, on
New Year's Day; a day that, like Christmas, brought with it painful
recollections, but at the same time led us to indulge the hope of a more
fortunate year than the last.

Early on the morning of the 7th of January, Maquina took me with him in
his canoe on a visit to Upquesta, chief of the Ai-tiz-zarts, who had
invited him to attend an exhibition at his village, similar to the one
with which he had been entertained at Tashees. This place is between
twenty and thirty miles distant up the Sound, and stands on the banks of
a small river about the size of that of Cooptee, just within its
entrance, in a valley of much greater extent than that of Tashees; it
consists of fourteen or fifteen houses, built and disposed in the manner
of those at Nootka. The tribe, which is considered as tributary to
Maquina, amounts to about three hundred warriors, and the inhabitants,
both men and women, are among the best-looking of any people on the

On our arrival we were received at the shore by the inhabitants, a few
of whom were armed with muskets, which they fired, with loud shouts and
exclamations of _Wocash, wocash!_

We were welcomed by the chief's messenger, or master of ceremonies,
dressed in his best garments, with his hair powdered with white down,
and holding in his hand the cheetolth, the badge of his office. This man
preceded us to the chief's house, where he introduced and pointed out to
us our respective seats. On entering, the visitors took off their hats,
which they always wear on similar occasions, and Maquina his outer
robes, of which he has several on whenever he pays a visit, and seated
himself near the chief.

As I was dressed in European clothes, I became quite an object of
curiosity to these people, very few of whom had ever seen a white man.
They crowded around me in numbers, taking hold of my clothes, examining
my face, hands, and feet, and even opening my mouth to see if I had a
tongue, for, notwithstanding I had by this time become well acquainted
with their language, I preserved the strictest silence, Maquina on our
first landing having enjoined me not to speak until he should direct.

Having undergone this examination for some time, Maquina at length made
a sign to me to speak to them. On hearing me address them in their own
language, they were greatly astonished and delighted, and told Maquina
that they now perceived that I was a man like themselves, except that I
was white, and looked like a seal, alluding to my blue jacket and
trousers, which they wanted to persuade me to take off, as they did not
like their appearance. Maquina in the meantime gave an account to the
chief of the scheme he had formed for surprising our ship, and the
manner in which he and his people had carried it into execution, with
such particular and horrid details of that transaction as chilled the
blood in my veins. Trays of boiled herring spawn and train-oil were
soon after brought in and placed before us, neither the chief or any of
his people eating at the same time, it being contrary to the ideas of
hospitality entertained by these nations, to eat any part of the food
that is provided for strangers, always waiting until their visitors have
finished, before they have their own brought in.

The following day closed their festival with an exhibition of a similar
kind to that which had been given at Tashees, but still more cruel; the
different tribes appearing on these occasions to endeavour to surpass
each other in their proofs of fortitude and endurance of pain. In the
morning, twenty men entered the chief's house, with each an arrow run
through the flesh of his sides and either arm, with a cord fastened to
the end, which, as the performers advanced, singing and boasting, was
forcibly drawn back by a person having hold of it. After this
performance was closed, we returned to Cooptee, which we reached at
midnight, our men keeping time with their songs to the stroke of their

The natives now began to take the herring and sprat in immense
quantities, with some salmon, and there was nothing but feasting from
morning till night.

The following is the method they employ to take the herring. A stick of
about seven feet long, two inches broad, and half an inch thick, is
formed from some hard wood, one side of which is set with sharp teeth,
made from whalebone, at about half an inch apart. Provided with this
instrument, the fisherman seats himself in the prow of a canoe, which is
paddled by another, and whenever he comes to a shoal of herrings, which
cover the water in great quantities, he strikes it with both hands upon
them, and at the same moment, turning it up, brings it over the side of
the canoe, into which he lets those that are taken drop. It is
astonishing to see how many are caught by those who are dexterous at
this kind of fishing, as they seldom fail, when the shoals are numerous,
of taking as many as ten or twelve at a stroke, and in a very short time
will fill a canoe with them. Sprats are likewise caught in a similar


[106] This was probably Don Estevan Martinez, who, on the 6th of May
1789, arrived in the corvette _Princesa_, to take possession of the
country for his sovereign. He it was who landed materials and artillery,
and began to erect a fort on a small island at the entrance to Friendly
Cove. He seems to have been a most high-handed kind of Don, for he
seized the British vessels _Iphigenia_, _North-West America_,
_Argonaut_, and _Princess Royal_, then trading under the Portuguese
flag, and acted in so arbitrary a manner to the officers and crew, that
it was easy to believe he was not over scrupulous in his dealings with
the Indians. It was during his stay in Nootka Sound that Callicum, a
relation of Maquina's, and next to him in rank, was barbarously murdered
by an officer on board one of the Spanish ships, and his father refused
permission to dive for the body until he had handed over a number of
skins to the white savage.

[107] Captain James Hanna was the second European to enter Nootka Sound
after Captain Cook had left it. The _Sea Otter_, a vessel under 70 tons,
was fitted out in China, and reached Nootka in August 1785; when
Maquina, presuming upon the inferior size of the craft and the small
number of the crew, made a desperate attack upon her. This was repulsed
by the courage of the ship's company, after which business proceeded on
such friendly terms that he procured five hundred and eighty-five
sea-otter skins in five weeks, which were sold in Canton for 20,600
dollars. It was Hanna who discovered Fitzhugh Sound, Lance Island, Sea
Otter Harbour, and other now well-known spots on the North-West coast of
America. The incident related by Maquina is not to be found in the
records of the expedition which have descended to us. He made another
voyage in 1786, solely for commercial purposes.

[108] _Gaultheria Shallon_ (see p. 137).

[109] These observances are well worth noting in connection with the
others which attach to the bear among nearly all savage races.

[110] These traps are still in common use.

[111] _Quawteaht_, the supreme being of all the tribes speaking the
"Aht" language.

[112] This seems the bracken fern root, which is eaten. But the name
usually applied to it is _Sheetla_.



About the beginning of February, Maquina gave a great feast, at which
were present not only all the inhabitants, but one hundred persons from
Ai-tiz-zart, and a number from Wickinninish who had been invited to
attend it. It is customary with them to give an annual entertainment of
this kind, and it is astonishing to see what a quantity of provision is
expended, or rather wasted, on such an occasion, when they always eat to
the greatest excess. It was at this feast that I saw upwards of an
hundred salmon cooked in one tub. The whole residence at Cooptee
presents an almost uninterrupted succession of feasting and
gormandising, and it would seem as if the principal object of these
people was to consume their whole stock of provision before leaving it,
trusting entirely to their success in fishing and whaling, for a supply
at Nootka.

On the 25th of February we quitted Cooptee, and returned to Nootka. With
much joy did Thompson and myself again find ourselves in a place where,
notwithstanding the melancholy recollections which it excited, we hoped
before long to see some vessel arrive to our relief, and for this we
became the more solicitous, as of late we had become much more
apprehensive of our safety, in consequence of information brought
Maquina a few days before we left Cooptee, by some of the Cayuquets,
that there were twenty ships at the northward, preparing to come against
him, with an intent of destroying him and his whole tribe, for cutting
off the _Boston_.

This story, which was wholly without foundation, and discovered
afterwards to have been invented by these people, for the purpose of
disquieting him, threw him into great alarm, and, notwithstanding all I
could say to convince him that it was an unfounded report, so great was
his jealousy of us, especially after it had been confirmed to him by
some others of the same nation, that he treated us with much harshness,
and kept a very suspicious eye upon us.

Nothing, indeed, could be more unpleasant than our present situation,
when I reflected that our lives were altogether dependent on the will of
a savage, on whose caprice and suspicions no rational calculation could
be made.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not long after our return, a son of Maquina's sister, a boy of eleven
years old, who had been for some time declining, died. Immediately on
his death, which was about midnight, all the men and women in the house
set up loud cries and shrieks, which, awakening Thompson and myself, so
disturbed us that we left the house. This lamentation was kept up during
the remainder of the night. In the morning, a great fire was kindled,
in which Maquina burned, in honour of the deceased, ten fathoms of
cloth, and buried with him ten fathoms more, eight of Ife-whaw, four
prime sea-otter skins, and two small trunks, containing our unfortunate
captain's clothes and watch.

This boy was considered as a Tyee, or chief, being the only son of
Tootoosch, one of their principal chiefs, who had married Maquina's
sister, whence arose this ceremony on his interment: it being an
established custom with these people, that whenever a chief dies, his
most valuable property is burned or buried with him; it is, however,
wholly confined to the chiefs, and appears to be a mark of honour
appropriate to them.[113] In this instance, Maquina furnished the
articles, in order that his nephew might have the proper honours
rendered him.

Tootoosch, his father, was esteemed the first warrior of the tribe, and
was one who had been particularly active in the destruction of our ship,
having killed two of our poor comrades, who were ashore, whose names
were Hall and Wood. About the time of our removal to Tashees, while in
the enjoyment of the highest health, he was suddenly seized with a fit
of delirium, in which he fancied that he saw the ghosts of those two men
constantly standing by him, and threatening him, so that he would take
no food, except what was forced into his mouth.

A short time before this he had lost a daughter of about fifteen years
of age, which afflicted him greatly, and whether his insanity, a
disorder very uncommon amongst these savages, no instance of the kind
having occurred within the memory of the oldest man amongst them,
proceeded from this cause, or that it was the special interposition of
an all-merciful God in our favour, who by this means thought proper to
induce these barbarians still further to respect our lives, or that, for
hidden purposes, the Supreme Disposer of events sometimes permits the
spirits of the dead to revisit the world, and haunt the murderer, I know
not, but his mind, from this period until his death, which took place
but a few weeks after that of his son, was incessantly occupied with the
images of the men whom he had killed.

This circumstance made much impression upon the tribe, particularly the
chiefs, whose uniform opposition to putting us to death, at the various
councils that were held on our account, I could not but in part
attribute to this cause; and Maquina used frequently, in speaking of
Tootoosch's sickness, to express much satisfaction that his hands had
not been stained with the blood of any of our men.

When Maquina was first informed by his sister of the strange conduct of
her husband, he immediately went to his house, taking us with him;
suspecting that his disease had been caused by us, and that the ghosts
of our countrymen had been called thither by us, to torment him. We
found him raving about Hall and Wood, saying that they were _peshak_,
that is, bad.

Maquina then placed some provision before him, to see if he would eat.
On perceiving it, he put forth his hand to take some, but instantly
withdrew it with signs of horror, saying that Hall and Wood were there,
and would not let him eat. Maquina then, pointing to us, asked if it was
not John and Thompson who troubled him.

"_Wik_,"[114] he replied,--that is, no; "_John klushish--Thompson
klushish_"--John and Thompson are both good; then, turning to me, and
patting me on the shoulder, he made signs to me to eat. I tried to
persuade him that Hall and Wood were not there, and that none were near
him but ourselves; he said, "I know very well you do not see them, but I

At first Maquina endeavoured to convince him that he saw nothing, and to
laugh him out of his belief, but, finding that all was to no purpose, he
at length became serious, and asked me if I had ever seen anyone
affected in this manner, and what was the matter with him. I gave him to
understand, pointing to his head, that his brain was injured, and that
he did not see things as formerly.

Being convinced by Tootoosch's conduct that we had no agency in his
indisposition, on our return home Maquina asked me what was done in my
country in similar cases.

I told him that such persons were closely confined, and sometimes tied
up and whipped, in order to make them better.[115]

After pondering for some time, he said that he should be glad to do
anything to relieve him, and that he should be whipped, and immediately
gave orders to some of his men to go to Tootoosch's house, bind him, and
bring him to his, in order to undergo the operation.

Thompson was the person selected to administer this remedy, which he
undertook very readily, and for that purpose provided himself with a
good number of spruce branches, with which he whipped him most severely,
laying it on with the best will imaginable, while Tootoosch displayed
the greatest rage, kicking, spitting, and attempting to bite all who
came near him. This was too much for Maquina, who at length, unable to
endure it longer, ordered Thompson to desist and Tootoosch to be carried
back, saying that if there was no other way of curing him but by
whipping, he must remain mad.

The application of the whip produced no beneficial effect on Tootoosch,
for he afterwards became still more deranged; in his fits of fury
sometimes seizing a club and beating his slaves in a most dreadful
manner, and striking and spitting at all who came near him, till at
length his wife, no longer daring to remain in the house with him, came
with her son to Maquina's.

       *       *       *       *       *

The whaling season now commenced, and Maquina was out almost every day
in his canoe in pursuit of them, but for a considerable time with no
success, one day breaking the staff of his harpoon, another after having
been a long time fast to a whale, the weapon drawing, owing to the
breaking of the shell which formed its point, with several such like
accidents, arising from the imperfection of the instrument.

At these times he always returned very morose and out of temper,
upbraiding his men with having violated their obligation to continence
preparatory to whaling. In this state of ill-humour he would give us
very little to eat, which, added to the women not cooking when the men
are away, reduced us to a very low fare.

In consequence of the repeated occurrence of similar accidents, I
proposed to Maquina to make him a harpoon or foreganger of steel, which
would be less liable to fail him. The idea pleased him, and in a short
time I completed one for him, with which he was much delighted, and the
very next day went out to make a trial of it.

He succeeded with it in taking a whale. Great was the joy throughout the
village as soon as it was known that the king had secured the whale, by
notice from a person stationed at the headland in the offing. All the
canoes were immediately launched, and, furnished with harpoons and
sealskin floats, hastened to assist in buoying it up and towing it in.

The bringing in of this fish exhibited a scene of universal festivity.
As soon as the canoes appeared at the mouth of the Cove, those on board
of them singing a triumph to a slow air, to which they kept time with
their paddles, all who were on shore, men, women, and children, mounted
the roofs of their houses to congratulate the king on his success,
drumming most furiously on the planks, and exclaiming _Wocash--wocash,

The whale, on being drawn on shore, was immediately cut up, and a great
feast of the blubber given at Maquina's house, to which all the village
were invited, who indemnified themselves for their Lent by eating as
usual to excess. I was highly praised for the goodness of my harpoon,
and a quantity of blubber given me, which I was permitted to cook as I
pleased; this I boiled in salt water with some young nettles and other
greens for Thompson and myself, and in this way we found it tolerable

Their method of procuring the oil, is to skim it from the water in which
the blubber is boiled, and when cool, put it up into whale bladders for
use; and of these I have seen them so large as, when filled, would
require no less than five or six men to carry. Several of the chiefs,
among whom were Maquina's brothers, who, after the king has caught the
first whale, are privileged to take them also, were very desirous, on
discovering the superiority of my harpoon, that I should make some for
them, but this Maquina would not permit, reserving for himself this
improved weapon. He, however, gave me directions to make a number more
for himself, which I executed, and also made him several lances, with
which he was greatly pleased.

       *       *       *       *       *

As these people have some very singular observances preparatory to
whaling, an account of them will, I presume, not prove uninteresting,
especially as it may serve to give a better idea of their manners. A
short time before leaving Tashees, the king makes a point of passing a
day alone on the mountain, whither he goes very privately early in the
morning, and does not return till late in the evening.[116] This is
done, as I afterwards learned, for the purpose of singing and praying to
his God for success in whaling the ensuing season. At Cooptee the same
ceremony is performed, and at Nootka after the return thither, with
still greater solemnity, as for the next two days he appears very
thoughtful and gloomy, scarcely speaking to any one, and observes a most
rigid fast. On these occasions he has always a broad red fillet made of
bark bound around his head, in token of humiliation, with a large branch
of green spruce on the top, and his great rattle in his hand.

In addition to this, for a week before commencing their whaling, both
himself and the crew of his canoe observe a fast, eating but very
little, and going into the water several times in the course of each day
to bathe, singing and rubbing their bodies, limbs, and faces with shells
and bushes, so that on their return I have seen them look as though they
had been severely torn with briers. They are likewise obliged to
abstain from any commerce with their women for the like period, the
latter restriction being considered as indispensable to their success.

       *       *       *       *       *

Early in June, Tootoosch,[117] the crazy chief, died. On being
acquainted with his death, the whole village, men, women, and children,
set up a loud cry, with every testimony of the greatest grief, which
they continued for more than three hours. As soon as he was dead, the
body, according to their custom, was laid out on a plank, having the
head bound round with a red bark fillet, which is with them an emblem of
mourning and sorrow. After lying some time in this manner, he was
wrapped in an otter-skin robe, and, three fathoms of Ife-whaw being put
about his neck, he was placed in a large coffin or box of about three
feet deep, which was ornamented on the outside with two rows of the
small white shells. In this, the most valuable articles of his property
were placed with him, among which were no less than twenty-four prime
sea-otter skins.

At night, which is their time for interring the dead, the coffin was
borne by eight men with two poles thrust through ropes passed around it,
to the place of burial, accompanied by his wife and family, with their
hair cut short in token of grief, all the inhabitants joining the

The place of burial was a large cavern on the side of a hill at a little
distance from the village, in which, after depositing the coffin
carefully, all the attendants repaired to Maquina's house, where a
number of articles belonging to the deceased, consisting of blankets,
pieces of cloth, etc., were burned by a person appointed by Maquina for
that purpose, dressed and painted in the highest style, with his head
covered with white down, who, as he put in the several pieces one by
one, poured upon them a quantity of oil to increase the flame, in the
intervals between making a speech and playing off a variety of buffoon
tricks, and the whole closed with a feast, and a dance from
Sat-sat-sok-sis, the king's son.

The man who performed the ceremony of burning on this occasion was a
very singular character named Kinneclimmets. He was held in high
estimation by the king, though only of the common class, probably from
his talent for mimicry and buffoonery, and might be considered as a kind
of king's jester, or rather, as combining in his person the character of
a buffoon with that of master of ceremonies and public orator to his
majesty, as he was the one who at feasts always regulated the places of
the guests, delivered speeches on receiving or returning visits, besides
amusing the company at all their entertainments, with a variety of
monkey pranks and antic gestures, which appeared to these savages the
height of wit and humour, but would be considered as extremely low by
the least polished people.

Almost all the kings or head chiefs of the principal tribes were
accompanied by a similar character, who appeared to be attached to their
dignity, and are called in their language _Climmer-habbee_.

This man Kinneclimmets was particularly odious to Thompson, who would
never join in the laugh at his tricks, but when he began, would almost
always quit the house with a very surly look, and an exclamation of
"Cursed fool!" which Maquina, who thought nothing could equal the
cleverness of his _Climmer-habbee_, used to remark with much
dissatisfaction, asking me why Thompson never laughed, observing that I
must have had a very good-tempered woman indeed for my mother, as my
father was so very ill-natured a man.

Among those performances that gained him the greatest applause was his
talent of eating to excess, for I have known him devour at one meal no
less than seventy-five large herrings; and at another time, when a great
feast was given by Maquina, he undertook, after drinking three pints of
oil by way of a whet, to eat four dried salmon, and five quarts of
spawn, mixed up with a gallon of train-oil, and actually succeeded in
swallowing the greater part of this mess, until his stomach became so
overloaded as to discharge its contents in the dish. One of his
exhibitions, however, had nearly cost him his life; this was on the
occasion of Kla-quak-ee-na, one of the chiefs, having bought him a new
wife, in celebration of which he ran three times through a large fire,
and burned himself in such a manner that he was not able to stir for
more than four weeks. These feats of savage skill were much praised by
Maquina, who never failed to make him presents of cloth, muskets, etc.,
on such occasions.

The death of Tootoosch increased still more the disquietude which his
delirium had excited among the savages, and all those chiefs who had
killed our men became much alarmed lest they should be seized with the
same disorder and die like him; more particularly, as I had told Maquina
that I believed his insanity was a punishment inflicted on him by
Quahootze, for his cruelty in murdering two innocent men who had never
injured him.


[113] When an Indian dies, all of his property which has not been given
away, is either buried with him, or, in extreme cases, burned, not for
the purpose of accompanying him to the Spirit Land, but, so the people
have told me, to prevent any temptation to indulge in the bad luck of
mentioning his name. The only things that are exempted from this
practice are the dead man's best canoes, his house-planks, and fishing
and hunting implements, which, with any slaves he may possess, go to his
eldest son. I have known the deceased's house and all its contents to be
burned; but when this is not the case, then the materials are removed
elsewhere, and another building is erected. Around his grave--a box
raised from the ground on pillars, often quaintly carved, or a canoe, or
a box fixed up a tree--are placed various articles belonging to him (or
her). At one time they buried his money with him. But for obvious
reasons this custom has fallen into abeyance.

[114] _Wik_ actually means "Not I." Good is _Klooceahatli_ or

[115] This, it must be remembered, was in the days before Connolly.
Maquina's remark that if an insane man could not be cured but by
whipping him, he must remain mad, proves that the savage chief was in
advance of his time. Insanity is, however, extremely rare among the

[116] He was, as the Indians say, "making his medicine," a term of very
elastic meaning.

[117] "Tootoosch" is the Thunder Bird of "Aht" mythology.



Our situation had now become unpleasant in the extreme. The summer was
so far advanced that we nearly despaired of a ship arriving to our
relief, and with that expectation almost relinquished the hope of ever
having it in our power to quit this savage land. We were treated, too,
with less indulgence than before, both Thompson and myself being
obliged, in addition to our other employments, to perform the laborious
task of cutting and collecting fuel, which we had to bring on our
shoulders from nearly three miles' distance, as it consisted wholly of
dry leaves, all of which near the village had been consumed.

To add to this, we suffered much abuse from the common people, who, when
Maquina or some of the chiefs were not present, would insult us, calling
us wretched slaves, asking us where was our Tyee or captain, making
gestures signifying that his head had been cut off, and that they would
do the like to us; though they generally took good care at such times to
keep well out of Thompson's reach, as they had more than once
experienced, to their cost, the strength of his fist. This conduct was
not only provoking and grating to our feelings in the highest degree,
but it convinced us of the ill disposition of these savages towards us,
and rendered us fearful lest they might at some time or other persuade
or force Maquina and the chiefs to put us to death.

We were also often brought to great distress for the want of provisions,
so far as to be reduced to collect a scanty supply of mussels and
limpets from the rocks, and sometimes even compelled to part with some
of our most necessary articles of clothing in order to purchase food for
our subsistence.

This was, however, principally owing to the inhabitants themselves
experiencing a great scarcity of provisions this season; there having
been, in the first place, but very few salmon caught at Friendly Cove, a
most unusual circumstance, as they generally abound there in the spring,
which was by the natives attributed to their having been driven away by
the blood of our men who had been thrown into the sea, which with true
savage inconsistency excited their murmurs against Maquina, who had
proposed cutting off our ship. Relying on this supply, they had in the
most inconsiderate manner squandered away their winter stock of
provisions, so that in a few days after their return it was entirely

Nor were the king and chiefs much more fortunate in their whaling, even
after I had furnished Maquina with the improved weapon for that purpose;
but four whales having been taken during the season, which closes the
last of May, including one that had been struck by Maquina and escaped,
and was afterwards driven on shore about six miles from Nootka in
almost a state of putridity.

These afforded but a short supply to a population, including all ages
and sexes, of no less than fifteen hundred persons, and of a character
so very improvident, that, after feasting most gluttonously whenever a
whale was caught, they were several times, for a week together, reduced
to the necessity of eating but once a day, and of collecting cockles and
mussels from the rocks for their food.

And even after the cod and halibut fishing commenced, in June, in which
they met with tolerable success, such was the savage caprice of Maquina,
that he would often give us but little to eat, finally ordering us to
buy a canoe and fishing implements and go out ourselves and fish, or we
should have nothing. To do this we were compelled to part with our
greatcoats, which were not only important to us as garments, but of
which we made our beds, spreading them under us when we slept. From our
want of skill, however, in this new employ, we met with no success; on
discovering which, Maquina ordered us to remain at home.

Another thing, which to me in particular proved an almost constant
source of vexation and disgust, and which living among them had not in
the least reconciled me to, was their extreme filthiness, not only in
eating fish, especially the whale, when in a state of offensive
putridity, but while at their meals, of making a practice of taking the
vermin from their heads or clothes and eating them, by turns thrusting
their fingers into their hair and into the dish, and spreading their
garments over the tubs in which the provision was cooking, in order to
set in motion their inhabitants.[118]

Fortunately for Thompson, he regarded this much less than myself, and
when I used to point out to him any instance of their filthiness in this
respect, he would laugh and reply, "Never mind, John, the more good
things the better." I must, however, do Maquina the justice to state,
that he was much neater both in his person and eating than were the
others, as was likewise his queen, owing, no doubt, to his intercourse
with foreigners, which had given him ideas of cleanliness, for I never
saw either of them eat any of these animals, but, on the contrary, they
appeared not much to relish this taste in others. Their garments, also,
were much cleaner, Maquina having been accustomed to give his away when
they became soiled, till after he discovered that Thompson and myself
kept ours clean by washing them, when he used to make Thompson do the
same for him.

Yet amidst this state of endurance and disappointment, in hearing
repeatedly of the arrival of ships at the north and south, most of which
proved to be idle reports, while expectation was almost wearied out in
looking for them, we did not wholly despond, relying on the mercy of the
Supreme Being, to offer up to whom our devotions on the days appointed
for His worship was our chief consolation and support, though we were
sometimes obliged, by our taskmasters, to infringe upon the Sabbath,
which was to me a source of much regret.

We were, nevertheless, treated at times with much kindness by Maquina,
who would give us a plenty of the best that he had to eat, and
occasionally, some small present of cloth for a garment, promising me
that, if any ship should arrive within a hundred miles of Nootka, he
would send a canoe with a letter from me to the captain, so that he
might come to our release. These flattering promises and marks of
attention were, however, at those times when he thought himself in
personal danger from a mutinous spirit, which the scarcity of provisions
had excited among the natives, who, like true savages, imputed all their
public calamities, of whatever kind, to the misconduct of their chief,
or when he was apprehensive of an attack from some of the other tribes,
who were irritated with him for cutting off the _Boston_, as it had
prevented ships from coming to trade with them, and were constantly
alarming him with idle stories of vessels that were preparing to come
against him and exterminate both him and his people.

At such times, he made us keep guard over him both night and day, armed
with cutlasses and pistols, being apparently afraid to trust any of his
own men. At one time, it was a general revolt of his people that he
apprehended; then three of his principal chiefs, among whom was his
elder brother, had conspired to take away his life; and at length he
fancied that a small party of Klaooquates, between whom and the
Nootkians little friendship subsisted, had come to Nootka, under a
pretence of trade, for the sole purpose of murdering him and his family,
telling us, probably to sharpen our vigilance, that their intention was
to kill us likewise; and so strongly were his fears excited on this
occasion, that he not only ordered us to keep near him armed by day,
whenever he went out, and to patrol at night before his house while they
remained, but to continue the same guard for three days after they were
gone, and to fire, at one and at four in the morning, one of the great
guns, to let them know, if, as he suspected, they were lurking in the
neighbourhood, that he was on his guard.

While he was thus favourably disposed towards us, I took an opportunity
to inform him of the ill-treatment that we frequently received from his
people, and the insults that were offered us by some of the stranger
tribes in calling us white slaves, and loading us with other opprobrious
terms. He was much displeased, and said that his subjects should not be
allowed to treat us ill, and that if any of the strangers did it, he
wished us to punish the offenders with death, at the same time directing
us, for our security, to go constantly armed.

This permission was soon improved by Thompson to the best advantage; for
a few days after, having gone to the pond to wash some of our clothes,
and a blanket for Maquina, several Wickinninish who were then at Nootka
came thither, and, seeing him washing the clothes, and the blanket
spread upon the grass to dry, they began, according to custom, to insult
him, and one of them, bolder than the others, walked over the blanket.
Thompson was highly incensed, and threatened the Indian with death if he
repeated the offence, but he, in contempt of the threat, trampled upon
the blanket, when, drawing his cutlass, without further ceremony,
Thompson cut off his head, on seeing which the others ran off at full
speed. Thompson then, gathering up the clothes and blanket, on which
were the marks of the Indian's dirty feet, and taking with him the head,
returned and informed the king of what had passed, who was much pleased,
and highly commended his conduct. This had a favourable effect for us,
not only on the stranger tribes but the inhabitants themselves, who
treated us afterwards with less disrespect.

In the latter part of July, Maquina informed me that he was going to war
with the _A-y-charts_,[119] a tribe about fifty miles to the south, on
account of some controversy that had arisen the preceding summer, and
that I must make a number of daggers for his men, and cheetolths for his
chiefs, which having completed, he wished me to make for his own use a
weapon of quite a different form, in order to dispatch his enemy by one
blow on the head, it being the calculation of these nations, on going to
war, to surprise their adversaries while asleep. This was a steel
dagger, or more properly a spike, of about six inches long, made very
sharp, set at right angles in an iron handle of fifteen inches long,
terminating at the lower end in a crook or turn, so as to prevent its
being wrenched from the hand, and at the upper in a round knob or head,
from whence the spike protruded. This instrument I polished highly, and,
the more to please Maquina, formed on the back of the knob the
resemblance of a man's head, with the mouth open, substituting for eyes
black beads, which I fastened in with red sealing-wax. This pleased him
much, and was greatly admired by his chiefs, who wanted me to make
similar ones for them, but Maquina would not suffer it, reserving for
himself alone this weapon.

When these people have finally determined on war, they make it an
invariable practice, for three or four weeks prior to the expedition,
to go into the water five or six times a day, when they wash and scrub
themselves from head to foot with bushes intermixed with briers,
so that their bodies and faces will often be entirely covered
with blood. During this severe exercise, they are continually
exclaiming, "_Wocash, Quahootze, Teechamme ah welth, wik-etish
tau-ilth--Kar sub-matemas--Wik-sish_ _to hauk matemas--I ya-ish
kah-shittle--As-smootish warich matemas_"; which signifies, "Good or
great God, let me live--Not be sick--Find the enemy--Not fear him--Find
him asleep, and kill a great many of them."

During the whole of this period they have no intercourse with their
women, and for a week before setting out, abstain from feasting or any
kind of merriment, appearing thoughtful, gloomy, and morose, and for the
three last days are almost constantly in the water, both by day and
night, scrubbing and lacerating themselves in a terrible manner.
Maquina, having informed Thompson and myself that he should take us with
him, was very solicitous that we should bathe and scrub ourselves in the
same way with them, telling me that it would harden our skins, so that
the weapons of the enemy would not pierce them, but as we felt no great
inclination to amuse ourselves in this manner, we declined it.

The expedition consisted of forty canoes, carrying from ten to twenty
men each. Thompson and myself armed ourselves with cutlasses and
pistols, but the natives, although they had a plenty of European arms,
took with them only their daggers and cheetolths, with a few bows and
arrows, the latter being about a yard in length, and pointed with
copper, mussel-shell, or bone; the bows are four feet and a half long,
with strings made of whale sinew.

To go to A-y-chart, we ascended, from twenty to thirty miles,[120] a
river about the size of that of Tashees, the banks of which are high and
covered with wood. At midnight we came in sight of the village, which
was situated on the west bank near the shore, on a steep hill difficult
of access, and well calculated for defence. It consisted of fifteen or
sixteen houses, smaller than those at Nootka, and built in the same
style, but compactly placed. By Maquina's directions, the attack was
deferred until the first appearance of dawn, as he said that was the
time when men slept the soundest.

At length, all being ready for the attack, we landed with the greatest
silence, and, going around so as to come upon the foe in the rear,
clambered up the hill, and while the natives, as is their custom,
entered the several huts creeping on all-fours, my comrade and myself
stationed ourselves without to intercept those who should attempt to
escape or come to the aid of their friends. I wished, if possible, not
to stain my hands in the blood of any fellow-creature; and though
Thompson would gladly have put to death all the savages in the country,
he was too brave to think of attacking a sleeping enemy.

Having entered the houses, on the war-whoop being given by Maquina as he
seized the head of the chief and gave him the fatal blow, all proceeded
to the work of death. The A-y-charts, being thus surprised, were unable
to make resistance, and, with the exception of a very few who were so
fortunate as to make their escape, were all killed, or taken prisoners
on condition of becoming slaves to their captors. I had the good fortune
to take four captives, whom Maquina, as a favour, permitted me to
consider as mine, and occasionally employ them in fishing for me. As for
Thompson, who thirsted for revenge, he had no wish to take any
prisoners, but with his cutlass, the only weapon he would employ against
them, succeeded in killing seven stout fellows who came to attack him,
an act which obtained him great credit with Maquina and the chiefs, who
after this held him in much higher estimation, and gave him the
appellation of "Chehiel-suma-har," it being the name of a very
celebrated warrior of their nation in ancient times, whose exploits were
the constant theme of their praise.

After having put to death all the old and infirm of either sex, as is
the barbarous practice of these people, and destroyed the buildings, we
re-embarked with our booty in our canoes for Nootka, where we were
received with great demonstrations of joy by the women and children,
accompanying our war-song with a most furious drumming on the houses.
The next day a great feast was given by Maquina in celebration of his
victory, which was terminated, as usual, with a dance by

Repeated applications had been made to Maquina by a number of kings or
chiefs to purchase me, especially after he had showed them the harpoon I
had made for him, which he took much pride in, but he constantly refused
to part with me on any terms. Among these, the king of the Wickinninish
was particularly solicitous to obtain me, having twice applied to
Maquina for that purpose, once in a very formal manner, by sending his
messenger with four canoes, who, as he approached the shore, decorated
in their highest style, with the white down on his head, etc., declared
that he came to buy "Tooteyoohannis," the name by which I was known to
them, for his master, and that he had brought for that purpose four
young male slaves, two highly ornamented canoes, such a number of the
skins of metamelth, and of the _quartlack_,[122] or sea-otter, and so
many fathoms of cloth and of Ife-whaw, while, as he mentioned the
different articles, they were pointed out or held up by his attendants;
but even this tempting offer had no influence on Maquina, who in the
latter part of the summer was again very strongly urged to sell me by
Ulatilla, or, as he is generally called, Machee Ulatilla, chief of the
Klaizzarts,[123] who had come to Nootka on a visit.

This chief, who could speak tolerable English, had much more the
appearance of a civilised man than any of the savages that I saw. He
appeared to be about thirty, was rather small in his person, but
extremely well formed, with a skin almost as fair as that of an
European, good features, and a countenance expressive of candour and
amiableness, and which was almost always brightened with a smile. He was
much neater both in his dress and person than any of the other chiefs,
seldom wearing paint, except upon his eyebrows, which, after the custom
of his country, were plucked out, and a few strips of the pelpelth on
the lower part of his face. He always treated me with much kindness, was
fond of conversing with me in English and in his own language, asking me
many questions relative to my country, its manners, customs, etc., and
appeared to take a strong interest in my fate, telling me that if he
could persuade Maquina to part with me, he would put me on board the
first ship that came to his country, a promise which, from his
subsequent conduct, I have good reason to think he would have performed,
as my deliverance at length from captivity and suffering was, under the
favour of Divine Providence, wholly owing to him, the only letter that
ever reached an European or American vessel out of sixteen that I wrote
at different times and sent to various parts of the coast, having been
delivered by him in person. So much pleased was I with this man's
behaviour to me while at Nootka, that I made for him a cheetolth, which
I burnished highly, and engraved with figures. With this he was greatly
delighted. I also would have made for him a harpoon, would Maquina have

With hearts full of dejection and almost lost to hope, no ship having
appeared off Nootka this season, did my companion and myself accompany
the tribe on their removal in September to Tashees, relinquishing in
consequence for six months even the remotest expectation of relief.


[118] This habit--unfortunately not peculiar to the Indians--is still
occasionally indulged in. The reason they give for it is, that when the
great flood covered the earth--a tradition that is found among other
North-West American Indians--they escaped in their canoes, and had to
eat lice for lack of any other food, and now practise it out of
gratitude. The superstitious observances of these tribes are so numerous
that the merest account of those known would fill a volume. One or two
interesting instances may be mentioned:--Thus, in sneezing, there is
good luck if the right nostril is alone affected. But if the left, then
evil fortune is at hand. When they pare their nails, which is not often,
they burn the parings, and if the smoke from them goes straight up,
their latter end will be good; if not, they will go to the place of
punishment. They used to regard--and perhaps still regard--the whites
not as human beings, but as a sort of demons.

[119] The E-cha-chets are not at present recognised as a separate tribe.
But there is a large village in Clayoquat Sound on the south end of
Wakenninish Island which bears that name. Like many now all but extinct
tribes, who have become absorbed into greater ones, the E-cha-chets seem
in Jewitt's time to have been more numerous. In Meares's narrative,
"Lee-cha-ett" is mentioned as a village of Wakenninish, but this could
not have been the same place, for Maquina and Wakenninish were at this
period on good terms. The river which the expedition ascended to reach
the summer salmon fishing village of the tribe was probably either the
Bear or the Onamettis, both of which flow through some swampy ground
into the head of Bedwall Arm. But as usual Jewitt exaggerated the
distance up which the canoemen paddled. There is no river in Vancouver
Island navigable for twenty or thirty miles, and few, even when broken
by rapids and falls, quite that length.

[120] This is an exaggerated estimate.

[121] This is one of the best descriptions of West Coast warfare with
which I am acquainted.

[122] "Quiaotluk," Jewitt, with innate cockneyism, inserting an _r_
after _a_ wherever this is possible. No Indian can pronounce _r_, any
more than a Chinaman can.

[123] Klahosahts.



Soon after our establishment there, Maquina informed me that he and his
chiefs had held council both before and after quitting Nootka, in which
they had determined that I must marry one of their women, urging as a
reason to induce me to consent, that, as there was now no probability of
a ship coming to Nootka to release me, that I must consider myself as
destined to pass the remainder of my life with them, that the sooner I
conformed to their customs the better, and that a wife and family would
render me more contented and satisfied with their mode of living. I
remonstrated against this decision, but to no purpose, for he told me
that, should I refuse, both Thompson and myself would be put to death;
telling me, however, that if there were none of the women of his tribe
that pleased me, he would go with me to some of the other tribes, where
he would purchase for me such a one as I should select. Reduced to this
sad extremity, with death on the one side and matrimony on the other, I
thought proper to choose what appeared to me the least of the two
evils, and consent to be married, on condition that, as I did not fancy
any of the Nootka women, I should be permitted to make choice of one
from some other tribe.

This being settled, the next morning by daylight, Maquina, with about
fifty men in two canoes, set out with me for Ai-tiz-zart,[124] taking
with him a quantity of cloth, a number of muskets, sea-otter skins,
etc., for the purchase of my bride. With the aid of our paddles and
sails, being favoured with a fair breeze, we arrived some time before
sunset at the village. Our arrival excited a general alarm, and the men
hastened to the shore, armed with the weapons of their country, making
many warlike demonstrations, and displaying much zeal and activity. We,
in the meantime, remained quietly seated in our canoes, where we
remained for about half an hour, when the messenger of the chief,
dressed in their best manner, came to welcome us and invite us on shore
to eat.[125] We followed him in procession to the chief's house, Maquina
at our head, taking care to leave a sufficient number in the boats to
protect the property. When we came to the house, we were ushered in with
much ceremony, and our respective seats pointed out to us, mine being
next to Maquina by his request.

After having been regaled with a feast of herring spawn and oil, Maquina
asked me if I saw any among the women who were present that I liked. I
immediately pointed out to a young girl of about seventeen, the
daughter of Upquesta, the chief, who was sitting near him by her mother.
On this, Maquina, making a sign to his men, arose, and, taking me by the
hand, walked into the middle of the room, and sent off two of his men to
bring the boxes containing the presents from the canoes. In the
meantime, Kinneclimmets, the master of ceremonies, whom I have already
spoken of, made himself ready for the part he was to act, by powdering
his hair with white down. When the chests were brought in, specimens of
the several articles were taken out, and showed by our men, one of whom
held up a musket, another a skin, a third a piece of cloth, etc.

On this Kinneclimmets stepped forward, and, addressing the chief,
informed him that all these belonged to me, mentioning the number of
each kind, and that they were offered to him for the purchase of his
daughter Eu-stoch-ee-exqua, as a wife for me. As he said this, the men
who held up the various articles walked up to the chief, and with a very
stern and morose look, the complimentary one on these occasions, threw
them at his feet. Immediately on which, all the tribe, both men and
women, who were assembled on this occasion, set up a cry of
_Klack-ko-Tyee_,[126] that is, "Thank ye, chief."

His men, after this ceremony, having returned to their places, Maquina
rose, and, in a speech of more than half an hour, said much in my praise
to the Ai-tiz-zart chief, telling him that I was as good a man as
themselves, differing from them only in being white, that I was besides
acquainted with many things of which they were ignorant; that I knew how
to make daggers, cheetolths, and harpoons, and was a very valuable
person, whom he was determined to keep always with him; praising me at
the same time for the goodness of my temper, and the manner in which I
had conducted myself since I had been with them, observing that all the
people of Nootka, and even the children, loved me.

While Maquina was speaking, his master of ceremonies was continually
skipping about, making the most extravagant gestures, and exclaiming
"_Wocash!_" When he had ceased, the Ai-tiz-zart chief arose, amidst the
acclamations of his people, and began with setting forth the many good
qualities and accomplishments of his daughter; that he loved her
greatly, and as she was his only one, he could not think of parting with
her. He spoke in this manner for some time, but finally concluded by
consenting to the proposed union, requesting that she might be well used
and kindly treated by her husband. At the close of the speech, when the
chief began to manifest a disposition to consent to our union,
Kinneclimmets again began to call out as loud as he could bawl,
"_Wocash!_" cutting a thousand capers and spinning himself around on his
heel like a top.

When Upquesta had finished his speech, he directed his people to carry
back the presents which Maquina had given him, to me, together with two
young male slaves to assist me in fishing. These, after having been
placed before me, were by Maquina's men taken on board the canoes. This
ceremony being over, we were invited by one of the principal chiefs to
a feast at his house, of _Klussamit_,[127] or dried herring, where,
after the eating was over, Kinneclimmets amused the company very highly
with his tricks, and the evening's entertainment was closed by a new
war-song from our men, and one in return from the Ai-tiz-zarts,
accompanied with expressive gestures, and wielding of their weapons.

After this our company returned to lodge at Upquesta's, except a few who
were left on board the canoes to watch the property. In the morning I
received from the chief his daughter, with an earnest request that I
would use her well, which I promised him; when, taking leave of her
parents, she accompanied me with apparent satisfaction on board of the

The wind being ahead, the natives were obliged to have recourse to their
paddles, accompanying them with their songs, interspersed with the
witticisms and buffoonery of Kinneclimmets, who, in his capacity of
king's steersman, one of his functions which I forgot to enumerate, not
only guided the course of the canoe, but regulated the singing of the
boatmen. At about five in the morning we reached Tashees, where we found
all the inhabitants collected on the shore to receive us.

We were welcomed with loud shouts of joy, and exclamations of
"_Wocash!_" and the women, taking my bride under their charge, conducted
her to Maquina's house, to be kept with them for ten days; it being an
universal custom, as Maquina informed me, that no intercourse should
take place between the new married pair during that period. At night
Maquina gave a great feast, which was succeeded by a dance, in which all
the women joined, and thus ended the festivities of my marriage.[128]

The term of my probation being over, Maquina assigned me as an apartment
the space in the upper part of his house between him and his elder
brother, whose room was opposite. Here I established myself with my
family, consisting of myself and wife, Thompson, and the little
Sat-sat-sok-sis, who had always been strongly attached to me, and now
solicited his father to let him live with me, to which he consented.

This boy was handsome, extremely well formed, amiable, and of a
pleasant, sprightly disposition. I used to take a pleasure in decorating
him with rings, bracelets, ear-jewels, etc., which I made for him of
copper, and ornamented and polished them in my best manner. I was also
very careful to keep him free from vermin of every kind, washing him and
combing his hair every day. These marks of attention were not only very
pleasing to the child, who delighted in being kept neat and clean, as
well as in being dressed off in his finery, but was highly gratifying
both to Maquina and his queen, who used to express much satisfaction at
my care of him.

In making my domestic establishment, I determined, as far as possible,
to live in a more comfortable and cleanly manner than the others. For
this purpose I erected with planks a partition of about three feet high
between mine and the adjoining rooms, and made three bedsteads of the
same, which I covered with boards, for my family to sleep on, which I
found much more comfortable than sleeping on the floor amidst the dirt.

Fortunately, I found my Indian princess both amiable and intelligent,
for one whose limited sphere of observation must necessarily give rise
to but a few ideas. She was extremely ready to agree to anything that I
proposed relative to our mode of living, was very attentive in keeping
her garments and person neat and clean, and appeared in every respect
solicitous to please me.

She was, as I have said, about seventeen; her person was small but well
formed, as were her features; her complexion was, without exception,
fairer than any of the women, with considerable colour in her cheeks,
her hair long, black, and much softer than is usual with them, and her
teeth small, even, and of a dazzling whiteness; while the expression of
her countenance indicated sweetness of temper and modesty. She would
indeed have been considered as very pretty in any country, and,
excepting Maquina's queen, was by far the handsomest of any of their

With a partner possessing so many attractions, many may be apt to
conclude that I must have found myself happy,--at least, comparatively
so; but far otherwise was it with me. A compulsory marriage with the
most beautiful and accomplished person in the world can never prove a
source of real happiness; and, in my situation, I could not but view
this connection as a chain that was to bind me down to this savage land,
and prevent my ever again seeing a civilised country; especially when,
in a few days after, Maquina informed me that there had been a meeting
of his chiefs, in which it had been determined that, as I had married
one of their women, I must be considered as one of them, and conform to
their customs, and that in future neither myself nor Thompson should
wear our European clothes, but dress in kutsaks[129] like themselves.
This order was to me most painful, but I persuaded Maquina at length so
far to relax in it as to permit me to wear those I had at present, which
were almost worn out, and not to compel Thompson to change his dress,
observing that, as he was an old man, such a change would cause his

Their religious celebration, which the last year took place in December,
was in this commenced on the 15th of November, and continued for
fourteen days. As I was now considered as one of them, instead of being
ordered to the woods, Maquina directed Thompson and myself to remain and
pray with them to Quahootze to be good to them, and thank him for what
he had done.

It was opened in much the same manner as the former. After which, all
the men and women in the village assembled at Maquina's house, in their
plainest dresses, and without any kind of ornaments about them, having
their heads bound around with the red fillet, a token of dejection and
humiliation, and their countenances expressive of seriousness and
melancholy. The performances during the continuance of this celebration
consisted almost wholly in singing a number of songs to mournful airs,
the king regulating the time by beating on his hollow plank or drum,
accompanied by one of his chiefs seated near him with the great rattle.
In the meantime they ate but seldom, and then very little, retiring to
sleep late, and rising at the first appearance of dawn, and even
interrupting this short period of repose by getting up at midnight and

The ceremony was terminated by an exhibition of a similar character to
the one of the last year, but still more cruel. A boy of twelve years
old, with six bayonets run into his flesh, one through each arm and
thigh, and through each side close to the ribs, was carried around the
room suspended upon them, without manifesting any symptoms of pain.
Maquina, on my inquiring the reason of this display, informed me that it
was an ancient custom of his nation to sacrifice a man at the close of
this solemnity, in honour of their God, but that his father had
abolished it, and substituted this in its place.[130] The whole closed
on the evening of the 29th, with a great feast of salmon spawn and oil,
at which the natives, as usual, made up for their late abstinence.

A few days after, a circumstance occurred, which, from its singularity,
I cannot forbear mentioning. I was sent for by my neighbour Yealthlower,
the king's elder brother, to file his teeth, which operation having been
performed, he informed me that a new wife, whom he had a little time
before purchased, having refused to sleep with him, it was his
intention, provided she persisted in her refusal, to bite off her nose.
I endeavoured to dissuade him from it, but he was determined, and, in
fact, performed his savage threat that very night, saying that since she
would not be his wife, she should not be that of any other, and in the
morning sent her back to her father.

The inhuman act did not, however, proceed from any innate cruelty of
disposition or malice, as he was far from being of a barbarous temper;
but such is the despotism exercised by these savages over their women,
that he no doubt considered it as a just punishment for her offence, in
being so obstinate and perverse; as he afterwards told me, that in
similar cases the husband had a right with them to disfigure his wife in
this way or some other, to prevent her ever marrying again.

About the middle of December, we left Tashees for Cooptee. As usual at
this season, we found the herrings in great plenty, and here the same
scene of riotous feasting that I witnessed last year was renewed by our
improvident natives, who, in addition to their usual fare, had a
plentiful supply of wild geese, which were brought us in great
quantities by the Eshquates. These, as Maquina informed me, were caught
with nets made from bark in the fresh waters of that country. Those who
take them make choice for that purpose of a dark and rainy night, and,
with their canoes stuck with lighted torches, proceed with as little
noise as possible to the place where the geese are collected, who,
dazzled by the light, suffer themselves to be approached very near, when
the net is thrown over them, and in this manner from fifty to sixty, or
even more, will sometimes be taken at one cast.

On the 15th of January 1805, about midnight, I was thrown into
considerable alarm, in consequence of an eclipse of the moon, being
awakened from my sleep by a great outcry of the inhabitants. On going to
discover the cause of this tumult, I found them all out of their houses,
bearing lighted torches, singing and beating upon pieces of plank; and
when I asked them the reason of this proceeding, they pointed to the
moon, and said that a great cod-fish was endeavouring to swallow her,
and that they were driving him away. The origin of this superstition I
could not discover.

[Illustration: INDIAN CHIEF'S GRAVE (TEMP. 1863).]

Though, in some respects, my situation was rendered more comfortable
since my marriage, as I lived in a more cleanly manner, and had my food
better and more neatly cooked, of which, besides, I had always a plenty,
my slaves generally furnishing me, and Upquesta never failing to send me
an ample supply by the canoes that came from Ai-tiz-zart; still, from my
being obliged at this season of the year to change my accustomed
clothing, and to dress like the natives, with only a piece of cloth of
about two yards long thrown loosely around me, my European clothes
having been for some time entirely worn out, I suffered more than I can
express from the cold, especially as I was compelled to perform the
laborious task of cutting and bringing the firewood, which was rendered
still more oppressive to me, from my comrade, for a considerable part of
the winter, not having it in his power to lend me his aid, in
consequence of an attack of the rheumatism in one of his knees, with
which he suffered for more than four months, two or three weeks of which
he was so ill as to be under the necessity to leave the house.

This state of suffering, with the little hope I now had of ever escaping
from the savages, began to render my life irksome to me; still, however,
I lost not my confidence in the aid of the Supreme Being, to whom,
whenever the weather and a suspension from the tasks imposed on me would
permit, I never failed regularly on Sundays to retire to the wood to
worship, taking Thompson with me when he was able to go.

On the 20th of February, we returned to our summer quarters at Nootka,
but on my part, with far different sensations than the last spring,
being now almost in despair of any vessel arriving to release us, or our
being permitted to depart if there should.

Soon after our return, as preparatory to the whaling season, Maquina
ordered me to make a good number of harpoons for himself and his chiefs,
several of which I had completed, with some lances, when, on the 16th of
March, I was taken very ill with a violent colic, caused, I presume,
from having suffered so much from the cold, in going without proper
clothing. For a number of hours I was in great pain, and expected to
die, and on its leaving me, I was so weak as scarcely to be able to
stand, while I had nothing comforting to take, nor anything to drink but
cold water.

On the day following, a slave belonging to Maquina died, and was
immediately, as is their custom in such cases, tossed unceremoniously
out of doors, from whence he was taken by some others and thrown into
the water. The treatment of this poor creature made a melancholy
impression upon my mind, as I could not but think that such probably
would be my fate should I die among these heathens, and so far from
receiving a decent burial, that I should not even be allowed the common
privilege of having a little earth thrown over my remains.

The feebleness in which the violent attack of my disorder had left me,
the dejection I felt at the almost hopelessness of my situation and the
want of warm clothing and proper nursing, though my Indian wife, as far
as she knew how, was always ready, even solicitous, to do everything for
me she could, still kept me very much indisposed, which Maquina
perceiving, he finally told me that if I did not like living with my
wife, and that was the cause of my being so sad, I might part with her.
This proposal I readily accepted, and the next day Maquina sent her back
to her father.

On parting with me she discovered much emotion, begging me that I would
suffer her to remain till I had recovered, as there was no one who would
take so good care of me as herself. But when I told her she must go, for
that I did not think I should ever get well, which in truth I but little
expected, and that her father would take good care of her and treat her
much more kindly than Maquina, she took an affectionate leave, telling
me that she hoped I should soon get better, and left her two slaves to
take care of me.

Though I rejoiced at her departure, I was greatly affected with the
simple expressions of her regard for me, and could not but feel strongly
interested for this poor girl, who in all her conduct towards me had
discovered so much mildness and attention to my wishes; and had it not
been that I considered her as an almost insuperable obstacle to my being
permitted to leave the country, I should no doubt have felt the
deprivation of her society a real loss. After her departure, I requested
Maquina that, as I had parted with my wife, he would permit me to resume
my European dress, as, otherwise, from not having been accustomed to
dress like them, I should certainly die. To this he consented, and I
once more became comfortably clad.

Change of clothing, but, more than all, the hopes which I now began to
indulge that in the course of the summer I should be able to escape, in
a short time restored me to health, so far that I could again go to work
in making harpoons for Maquina, who probably, fearing that he should
have to part with me, determined to provide himself with a good stock.

I shall not, however, long detain the reader with a detail of
occurrences that intervened between this period and that of my escape,
which, from that dull uniformity that marks the savage life, would be in
a measure but a repetition, nor dwell upon that mental torture I endured
from a constant conflict of hope and fear, when the former, almost
wearied out with repeated disappointment, offered to our sinking hearts
no prospect of release but death, to which we were constantly exposed
from the brutal ignorance and savage disposition of the common people,
who, in the various councils that were held this season to determine
what to do with us in case of the arrival of a ship, were almost always
for putting us to death, expecting by that means to conceal the murder
of our crew and to throw the blame of it on some other tribe. These
barbarous sentiments were, however, universally opposed by Maquina and
his chiefs, who would not consent to our being injured. But, as some of
their customs and traits of national character which I think deserving
of notice have not been mentioned, I shall proceed to give an account of

       *       *       *       *       *

The office of king or chief is, with those people, hereditary, and
descends to the eldest son, or, in failure of male issue, to the elder
brother, who in the regal line is considered as the second person in the
kingdom. At feasts, as I have observed, the king is always placed in the
highest or seat of honour, and the chiefs according to their respective
ranks, which appear in general to be determined by their affinity to the
royal family; they are also designated by the embellishments of their
mantles or kutsaks. The king, or head _Tyee_ is their leader in war, in
the management of which he is perfectly absolute. He is also president
of their councils, which are almost always regulated by his opinion. But
he has no kind of power over the property of his subjects, nor can he
require them to contribute to his wants, being in this respect no more
privileged than any other person. He has, in common with his chiefs, the
right of holding slaves, which is not enjoyed by private individuals, a
regulation probably arising from their having been originally captives
taken in battle, the spoils of war being understood as appertaining to
the king, who receives and apportions them among his several chiefs and
warriors according to their rank and deserts.

In conformity with this idea, the plunder of the _Boston_ was all
deposited in Maquina's house, who distributed part of it among his
chiefs, according to their respective ranks or degree of favour with
him, giving to one three hundred muskets, to another one hundred and
fifty, with other things in like proportion. The king is, however,
obliged to support his dignity by making frequent entertainments, and
whenever he receives a large supply of provision, he must invite all the
men of his tribe to his house to eat it up, otherwise, as Maquina told
me, he would not be considered as conducting himself like a _Tyee_, and
would be no more thought of than a common man.

       *       *       *       *       *

With regard to their religion.--They believe in the existence of a
Supreme Being, whom they call _Quahootze_, and who, to use Maquina's
expression, was one great _Tyee_ in the sky, who gave them their fish,
and could take them from them, and was the greatest of all kings. Their
usual place of worship appeared to be the water, for whenever they
bathed, they addressed some words in form of prayer to the God above,
entreating that he would preserve them in health, give them good success
in fishing, etc. These prayers were repeated with much more energy on
preparing for whaling or for war, as I have already mentioned.

Some of them would sometimes go several miles to bathe, in order to do
it in secret; the reason for this I could never learn, though I am
induced to think it was in consequence of some family or private
quarrel, and that they did not wish what they said to be heard; while at
other times they would repair in the same secret manner to the woods to
pray. This was more particularly the case with the women, who might also
have been prompted by a sentiment of decency to retire for the purpose
of bathing, as they are remarkably modest.

I once found one of our women more than two miles from the village on
her knees in the woods, with her eyes shut and her face turned towards
heaven, uttering words in a lamentable tone, amongst which I distinctly
heard, _Wocash Ah-welth_, meaning "good Lord," and which has nearly the
same signification with Quahootze.

Though I came very near her, she appeared not to notice me, but
continued her devotions. And I have frequently seen the women go alone
into the woods, evidently for the purpose of addressing themselves to a
superior Being, and it was always very perceptible on their return when
they had been thus employed, from their silence and melancholy looks.

They have no belief, however, in a state of future existence, as I
discovered in conversation with Maquina at Tootoosch's death, on my
attempting to convince him that he still existed, and that he would
again see him after his death; but he could comprehend nothing of it,
and, pointing to the ground, said that there was the end of him, and
that he was like that.[131] Nor do they believe in ghosts,
notwithstanding the case of Tootoosch would appear to contradict this
assertion, but that was a remarkable instance, and such a one as had
never been known to occur before; yet from the mummeries performed over
the sick, it is very apparent that they believe in the agency of
spirits, as they attribute diseases to some evil one that has entered
the body of the patient. Neither have they any priests, unless a kind of
conjurer[132] may be so considered who sings and prays over the sick to
drive away the evil spirit.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the birth of twins, they have a most singular custom, which, I
presume, has its origin in some religious opinion, but what it is, I
could never satisfactorily learn. The father is prohibited for the space
of two years from eating any kind of meat, or fresh fish, during which
time he does no kind of labour whatever, being supplied with what he has
occasion for from the tribe. In the meantime, he and his wife, who is
also obliged to conform to the same abstinence, with their children,
live entirely separate from the others, a small hut being built for
their accommodation, and he is never invited to any of the feasts,
except such as consist wholly of dried provision, where he is treated
with great respect, and seated among the chiefs, though no more himself
than a private individual.

Such births are very rare among them; an instance of the kind, however,
occurred while I was at Tashees the last time, but it was the only one
known since the reign of the former king. The father always appeared
very thoughtful and gloomy, never associated with the other
inhabitants, and was at none of the feasts, but such as were entirely of
dried provision, and of this he ate not to excess, and constantly
retired before the amusements commenced. His dress was very plain, and
he wore around his head the red fillet of bark, the symbol of mourning
and devotion. It was his daily practice to repair to the mountain, with
a chief's rattle in his hand, to sing and pray, as Maquina informed me,
for the fish to come into their waters. When not thus employed, he kept
continually at home, except when sent for to sing and perform his
ceremonies over the sick, being considered as a sacred character, and
one much in favour with their gods.[133]

These people are remarkably healthful, and live to a very advanced age,
having quite a youthful appearance for their years.[134] They have
scarcely any disease but the colic, their remedy for which is friction,
a person rubbing the bowels of the sick violently, until the pain has
subsided, while the conjurer, or holy man, is employed, in the meantime,
in making his gestures, singing, and repeating certain words, and
blowing off the evil spirit, when the patient is wrapped up in a
bearskin, in order to produce perspiration.

Their cure for the rheumatism, or similar pains, which I saw applied by
Maquina in the case of Thompson, to whom it gave relief, is by cutting
or scarifying the part affected. In dressing wounds, they simply wash
them with salt water, and bind them up with a strip of cloth, or the
bark of a tree. They are, however, very expert and successful in the
cure of fractured or dislocated limbs, reducing them very dexterously,
and, after binding them up with bark, supporting them with blocks of
wood, so as to preserve their position.[135]

During the whole time I was among them, but five natural deaths
occurred, Tootoosch and his two infant children, an infant son of
Maquina, and the slave whom I have mentioned, a circumstance not a
little remarkable in a population of about fifteen hundred; and as
respects child-birth, so light do they make of it, that I have seen
their women, the day after, employed as usual, as if little or nothing
had happened.

The Nootkians in their conduct towards each other are in general pacific
and inoffensive, and appear by no means an ill-tempered race, for I do
not recollect any instance of a violent quarrel between any of the men,
or the men and their wives, while I was with them, that of Yealthlower
excepted. But when they are in the least offended, they appear to be in
the most violent rage, acting like so many maniacs, foaming at the
mouth, kicking and spitting most furiously; but this is rather a fashion
with them than a demonstration of malignity, as in their public speeches
they use the same violence, and he is esteemed the greatest orator who
bawls the loudest, stamps, tosses himself about, foams, and spits the

In speaking of their regulations, I have omitted mentioning that, on
attaining the age of seventeen, the eldest son of a chief is considered
as a chief himself, and that whenever the father makes a present, it is
always done in the name of his eldest son, or, if he has none, in that
of his daughter. The chiefs frequently purchase their wives at the age
of eight or ten, to prevent their being engaged by others, though they
do not take them from their parents until they are sixteen.

With regard to climate, the greater part of the spring, summer, and
autumn is very pleasant, the weather being at no time oppressively hot,
and the winters uncommonly mild for so high a latitude, at least, as far
as my experience went. At Tashees and Cooptee, where we passed the
coldest part of the season, the winter did not set in till late in
December, nor have I ever yet known the ice, even on the freshwater
ponds, more than two or three inches in thickness, or a snow exceeding
four inches in depth; but what is wanting in snow, is amply made up in
rain, as I have frequently known it, during the winter months, rain
almost incessantly for five or six days in succession.


[124] Ayhuttisaht, also in Nootka Sound.

[125] This is the custom if the visit of the strangers has not been
announced in advance.

[126] _Ooshyuksomayts_ is another expression meaning much the same

[127] _Kloosmit_ is "herring" (_Meletta cærulea_) generally. _Klooshist_
is dried salmon, a more common article of food.

[128] Jewitt's marriage was less ceremonious than is usual with Indians
of any rank, and the ten days' probation was not according to modern

[129] _Kutsak_, or _kotsack_, or _kootsick_, or _cotsack_, for all these
forms occur, was the blanket worn cloakwise, rendered familiar to
Europeans in so many pictures and sketches.

[130] Human sacrifices are quite common among the Northern tribes. But
in Vancouver they were very rare in my time, and are now still less
frequent. In 1863 the burial of a chief was celebrated by the heads of
several tribesmen being fixed about his grave. These were not taken by
force, but surrendered by the trembling tribesmen, the victims being
most likely slaves. In 1788, Meares affirms, on what we believe to be
insufficient evidence, that Maquina (Moqulla) sacrificed a human being
every new moon, to gratify "his unnatural appetite" for human flesh. The
victim was a slave selected by the blindfolded chief catching him in a
house in which a number were assembled. Meares even declares that
Maquina acknowledged his weakness, and that though Callicum, another
chief, avoided cannibalism, he reposed on a pillow filled with human
skulls. If so, the practice has ceased. Yet cannibalism was undeniably
practised at times among the Indians of both the East and West coasts.
There were in 1866 Indians living in Koskeemo Sound, who still talked of
the delights of human flesh. Many years ago, the Bella-Bellas ate a
servant of the Hudson Bay Company, and the Nuchaltaws of Cape Mudge are
affirmed by old traders to have paid the same doubtful compliment to a
sailor who fell into their clutches.

[131] This, in common with other statements of the kind, is more than
doubtful. The best account of their religion is by Mr. Sproat, but even
he acknowledges that, after two years devoted to the subject, and to the
questioning of others who had passed half a lifetime amongst the "Ahts,"
he could discover very little about their faith which could be
pronounced indisputably accurate. Even the Indians themselves are by no
means at one on the subject, people without a written creed or sacred
books being apt to entertain very contradictory ideas on their
theological tenets. I endeavoured to fathom some of their beliefs, and I
had ample opportunities; but I confess to the difficulty of getting
behind these reserved folk, and I did not meet with sufficient success
to make the results worth recording.

[132] What Jewitt calls a "conjurer" is more commonly known in these
times as a "medicine man," who was, more often than not, a combination
nine parts rogue and one part fool.

[133] This is entirely different from the views that are entertained by
other tribes. The tribes speaking the language which prevails from Port
San Juan to Comox are so ashamed of twins, that one of the hapless two
is almost invariably killed. I do not remember having ever seen a case.
Most of the Indian birth notions are very curious.

[134] They are apt to rapidly change from young-looking to old-looking
men, without any of that pleasant "Indian summer" so characteristic of
people in more civilised communities. But advanced years are not common.
In 1864 the oldest man in the little Opechesaht tribe, whose homes are
on the Kleecoot River (flowing out of Sproat Lake into the Alberni
Inlet), was only sixty, so far as he could make out.

[135] Bilious complaints, constipation, dysentery, consumption, fevers
and acute inflammatory diseases, and (amongst some tribes, but not
amongst the Nootkians), ophthalmia, are common, though rheumatism and
paralysis are infrequent. The "diseases of civilisation," it may be
added, have been known for many years.

[136] This is still true. When sober they indulge in high words, and are
fond of teasing the women until they get out of temper; but a blow is
rare. Even the children seldom fall out, the necessity of small
communities living together for mutual protection compelling the members
to establish a _modus vivendi_. However, when drunk--and in spite of the
laws against liquor being sold to them, this is by no means
uncommon--they are prone to seek close quarters and act like angry



It was now past midsummer, and the hopes we had indulged of our release
became daily more faint, for though we had heard of no less than seven
vessels on the coast, yet none appeared inclined to venture to Nootka.

The destruction of the _Boston_, the largest, strongest, and best
equipped ship, with the most valuable cargo of any that had ever been
fitted for the North-West trade, had inspired the commanders of others
with a general dread of coming thither, lest they should share the same
fate; and though in the letters I wrote (imploring those who should
receive them to come to the relief of two unfortunate Christians who
were suffering among heathen), I stated the cause of the _Boston's_
capture, and that there was not the least danger in coming to Nootka,
provided they would follow the directions I laid down, still I felt very
little encouragement that any of these letters would come to hand; when,
on the morning of the 19th of July, a day that will be ever held by me
in grateful remembrance of the mercies of God, while I was employed with
Thompson in forging daggers for the king, my ears were saluted with the
joyful sound of three cannon, and the cries of the inhabitants,
exclaiming "_Weena, weena--Mamethlee!_"--that is, "Strangers--White

Soon after, several of our people came running into the house, to inform
me that a vessel under full sail was coming into the harbour. Though my
heart bounded with joy, I repressed my feelings, and, affecting to pay
no attention to what was said, told Thompson to be on his guard, and not
betray any joy, as our release, and perhaps our lives, depended on our
conducting ourselves so as to induce the natives to suppose we were not
very anxious to leave them. We continued our work as if nothing had
happened, when, in a few minutes after, Maquina came in, and, seeing us
at work, appeared much surprised, and asked me if did not know that a
vessel had come.

I answered in a careless manner, that it was nothing to me. "How, John,"
said he, "you no glad go board?" I replied that I cared very little
about it, as I had become reconciled to their manner of living, and had
no wish to go away. He then told me that he had called a council of his
people respecting us, and that we must leave off work and be present at

The men having assembled at Maquina's house, he asked them what was
their opinion should be done with Thompson and myself, now a vessel had
arrived, and whether he had not better go on board himself, to make a
trade, and procure such articles as were wanted. Each one of the tribe
who wished, gave his opinion. Some were for putting us to death, and
pretending to the strangers that a different nation had cut off the
_Boston_; while others, less barbarous, were for sending us fifteen or
twenty miles back into the country, until the departure of the vessel.

These, however, were the sentiments of the common people, the chiefs
opposing our being put to death, or injured, and several of them, among
the most forward of whom were Yealthlower and the young chief
Toowinnakinnish, were for immediately releasing us; but this, if he
could avoid it, by no means appeared to accord with Maquina's wishes.

Having mentioned Toowinnakinnish, I shall briefly observe that he was a
young man of about twenty-three years old, the only son of
Toopeeshottee, the oldest and most respected chief of the tribe. His son
had always been remarkably kind and friendly to me, and I had in return
frequently made for him daggers, cheetolths, and other things, in my
best manner. He was one of the handsomest men among them, very amiable,
and much milder in his manners than any of the others, as well as neater
both in his person and house, at least his apartment, without even
excepting Maquina.

With regard, however, to Maquina's going on board the vessel, which he
discovered a strong inclination to do, there was but one opinion, all
remonstrating against it, telling him that the captain would kill him or
keep him prisoner, in consequence of his having destroyed our ship. When
Maquina had heard their opinions, he told them that he was not afraid of
being hurt from going on board the vessel, but that he would, however,
as it respected that, be guided by John, whom he had always found true.
He then turned to me, and asked me if I thought there would be any
danger in his going on board. I answered, that I was not surprised at
the advice his people had given him, unacquainted as they were with the
manners of the white men, and judging them by their own; but if they had
been with them as much as I had, or even himself, they would think very
different. That he had almost always experienced good and civil
treatment from them, nor had he any reason to fear the contrary now, as
they never attempted to harm those who did not injure them; and if he
wished to go on board, he might do it, in my opinion, with security.

After reflecting a few moments, he said, with much apparent
satisfaction, that if I would write a letter to the captain, telling him
good of him, that he had treated Thompson and myself kindly since we had
been with him, and to use him well, he would go.

It may easily be supposed that I felt much joy at this determination,
but, knowing that the least incaution might annihilate all my hopes of
escape, was careful not to manifest it, and to treat his going or
staying as a matter perfectly indifferent to me. I told him that, if he
wished me to write such a letter, I had no objection, as it was the
truth, otherwise I could not have done it.

I then proceeded to write the recommendatory letter, which the reader
will naturally imagine was of a somewhat different tenor from the one he
had required; for if deception is in any case warrantable, it was
certainly so in a situation like ours, where the only chance of
regaining that freedom of which we had been so unjustly deprived,
depended upon it; and I trust that few, even of the most rigid, will
condemn me with severity for making use of it, on an occasion which
afforded me the only hope of ever more beholding a Christian country,
and preserving myself, if not from death, at least from a life of
continued suffering.

The letter which I wrote was nearly in the following terms:--

    TO CAPTAIN----
    OF THE BRIG----
    NOOTKA, _July_ 19, 1805.

    SIR,--The bearer of this letter is the Indian king by the name
    of Maquina. He was the instigator of the capture of the ship
    _Boston_, of Boston, in North America, John Salter, captain, and
    of the murder of twenty-five men of her crew, the two only
    survivors being now on shore--Wherefore I hope you will take
    care to confine him according to his merits, putting in your
    dead-lights, and keeping so good a watch over him, that he
    cannot escape from you. By so doing, we shall be able to obtain
    our release in the course of a few hours.

    JOHN R. JEWITT, _Armourer of the "Boston"_
    _for himself, and_
    JOHN THOMPSON, _Sail-maker of the said ship_.

I have been asked how I dared to write in this manner: my answer is,
that from my long residence among these people, I knew that I had little
to apprehend from their anger on hearing of their king being confined,
while they knew his life depended upon my release, and that they would
sooner have given up five hundred white men, than have had him injured.
This will serve to explain the little apprehension I felt at their
menaces afterwards, for otherwise, sweet as liberty was to me, I should
hardly have ventured on so hazardous an experiment.

On my giving the letter to Maquina, he asked me to explain it to him.
This I did line by line, as he pointed them out with his finger, but in
a sense very different from the real, giving him to understand that I
had written to the captain that, as he had been kind to me since I had
been taken by him, that it was my wish that the captain should treat him
accordingly, and give him what molasses, biscuit, and rum he wanted.

When I had finished, placing his finger in a significant manner on my
name at the bottom, and eyeing me with a look that seemed to read my
inmost thoughts, he said to me, "John, you no lie?" Never did I undergo
such a scrutiny, or ever experience greater apprehensions than I felt at
that moment, when my destiny was suspended on the slightest thread, and
the least mark of embarrassment on mine, or suspicion of treachery on
his part, would probably have rendered my life the sacrifice.

Fortunately I was able to preserve my composure, and my being painted in
the Indian manner, which Maquina had since my marriage required of me,
prevented any change in my countenance from being noticed, and I replied
with considerable promptitude, looking at him in my turn, with all the
confidence I could muster,--

"Why do you ask me such a question, Tyee? Have you ever known me to


"Then how can you suppose I should tell you a lie now, since I have
never done it?" As I was speaking, he still continued looking at me with
the same piercing eye, but, observing nothing to excite his suspicion,
he told me that he believed what I said was true, and that he would go
on board, and gave orders to get ready his canoe. His chiefs again
attempted to dissuade him, using every argument for that purpose, while
his wives crowded around him, begging him on their knees not to trust
himself with the white men. Fortunately for my companion and myself, so
strong was his wish of going on board the vessel, that he was deaf to
their solicitations, and, making no other reply to them than "John no
lie," left the house, taking four prime skins with him as a present to
the captain.

Scarcely had the canoe put off, when he ordered his men to stop, and,
calling to me, asked me if I did not want to go on board with him.
Suspecting this as a question merely intended to ensnare me, I replied
that I had no wish to do it, not having any desire to leave them.

On going on board the brig, Maquina immediately gave his present of
skins and my letter to the captain, who, on reading it, asked him into
the cabin, where he gave him some biscuit and a glass of rum, at the
same time privately directing his mate to go forward, and return with
five or six of the men armed. When they appeared, the captain told
Maquina that he was his prisoner, and should continue so, until the two
men, whom he knew to be on shore, were released, at the same time
ordering him to be put in irons, and the windows secured, which was
instantly done, and a couple of men placed as a guard over him. Maquina
was greatly surprised and terrified at this reception; he, however, made
no attempt to resist, but requested the captain to permit one of his men
to come and see him. One of them was accordingly called, and Maquina
said something to him which the captain did not understand, but supposed
to be an order to release us, when, the man returning to the canoe, it
was paddled off with the utmost expedition to the shore.

As the canoe approached, the inhabitants, who had all collected upon the
beach, manifested some uneasiness at not seeing their king on board, but
when, on its arrival, they were told that the captain had made him a
prisoner, and that John had spoke bad about him in the letter, they all,
both men and women, set up a loud howl, and ran backwards and forwards
upon the shore like so many lunatics, scratching their faces, and
tearing the hair in handfuls from their heads.

After they had beat about in this manner for some time, the men ran to
their huts for their weapons, as if preparing to attack an invading
enemy; while Maquina's wives and the rest of the women came around me,
and, throwing themselves on their knees, begged me with tears to spare
his life; and Sat-sat-sok-sis, who kept constantly with me, taking me by
the hand, wept bitterly, and joined his entreaties to theirs, that I
would not let the white men kill his father. I told them not to afflict
themselves, that Maquina's life was in no danger, nor would the least
harm be done to him.

The men were, however, extremely exasperated with me, more particularly
the common people, who came running in the most furious manner towards
me, brandishing their weapons, and threatening to cut me in pieces no
bigger than their thumb-nails, while others declared they would burn me
alive over a slow fire suspended by my heels. All this fury, however,
caused me but little alarm, as I felt convinced they would not dare to
execute their threats while the king was on board the brig.

The chiefs took no part in this violent conduct, but came to me, and
inquired the reason why Maquina had been thus treated, and if the
captain intended to kill him. I told them that if they would silence the
people, so that I could be heard, I would explain all to them. They
immediately put a stop to the noise, when I informed them that the
captain, in confining Maquina, had done it only in order to make them
release Thompson and myself, as he well knew we were with them; and if
they would do that, their king would receive no injury, but be well
treated, otherwise he would be kept a prisoner.

As many of them did not appear to be satisfied with this, and began to
repeat their murderous threats--"Kill me," said I to them, "if it is
your wish," throwing open the bearskin which I wore. "Here is my breast.
I am only one among so many, and can make no resistance; but unless you
wish to see your king hanging by his neck to that pole," pointing to the
yard-arm of the brig, "and the sailors firing at him with bullets, you
will not do it."

"Oh no," was the general cry, "that must never be; but what must we do?"
I told them that their best plan would be to send Thompson on board, to
desire the captain to use Maquina well till I was released, which would
be soon. This they were perfectly willing to do, and I directed Thompson
to go on board. But he objected, saying that he would not leave me alone
with the savages. I told him not to be under any fear for me, for that
if I could get him off, I could manage well enough for myself; and that
I wished him, immediately on getting on board the brig, to see the
captain, and request him to keep Maquina close till I was released, as I
was in no danger while he had him safe.

When I saw Thompson off, I asked the natives what they intended to do
with me. They said I must talk to the captain again, in another letter,
and tell him to let his boat come on shore with Maquina, and that I
should be ready to jump into the boat at the same time Maquina should
jump on shore. I told them that the captain, who knew that they had
killed my shipmates, would never trust his men so near the shore, for
fear they could kill them too, as they were so much more numerous, but
that if they would select any three of their number to go with me in a
canoe, when we came within hail, I would desire the captain to send his
boat with Maquina, to receive me in exchange for him.

This appeared to please them, and after some whispering among the
chiefs, who, from what words I over-heard, concluded that if the captain
should refuse to send his boat with Maquina, the three men would have no
difficulty in bringing me back with them, they agreed to my proposal,
and selected three of their stoutest men to convey me. Fortunately,
having been for some time accustomed to see me armed, and suspecting no
design on my part, they paid no attention to the pistols that I had
about me.

As I was going into the canoe, little Sat-sat-sok-sis, who could not
bear to part with me, asked me, with an affecting simplicity, since I
was going away to leave him, if the white men would not let his father
come on shore, and not kill him. I told him not to be concerned, for
that no one should injure his father, when, taking an affectionate leave
of me, and again begging me not to let the white men hurt his father, he
ran to comfort his mother, who was at a little distance, with the
assurances I had given him.

On entering the canoe, I seated myself in the prow facing the three men,
having determined, if it was practicable, from the moment I found
Maquina was secured, to get on board the vessel before he was released,
hoping by that means to be enabled to obtain the restoration of what
property belonging to the _Boston_ still remained in the possession of
the savages, which I thought, if it could be done, a duty that I owed to
the owners. With feelings of joy impossible to be described did I quit
the savage shore, confident now that nothing could thwart my escape, or
prevent the execution of the plan that I had formed, as the men
appointed to convey and guard me were armed with nothing but their

As we came within hail of the brig, they at once ceased paddling, when,
presenting my pistols at them, I ordered them instantly to go on, or I
would shoot the whole of them. A proceeding so wholly unexpected threw
them into great consternation, and, resuming their paddles, in a few
moments, to my inexpressible delight, I once more found myself alongside
of a Christian ship, a happiness which I had almost despaired of ever
again enjoying. All the crew crowded to the side to see me as the canoe
came up, and manifested much joy at my safety. I immediately leaped on
board, where I was welcomed by the captain, Samuel Hill, of the brig
_Lydia_ of Boston, who congratulated me on my escape, informing me that
he had received my letter off Kloiz-zart[137] from the chief Machee
Ulatilla, who came off himself in his canoe to deliver it to him, on
which he immediately proceeded hither to aid me. I returned him my
thanks in the best manner I could for his humanity, though I hardly knew
what I said, such was the agitated state of my feelings at that moment,
with joy for my escape, thankfulness to the Supreme Being who had so
mercifully preserved me, and gratitude to those whom He had rendered
instrumental in my delivery, that I have no doubt that, what with my
strange dress, being painted with red and black from head to foot,
having a bearskin wrapped around me, and my long hair, which I was not
allowed to cut, fastened on the top of my head in a large bunch, with a
sprig of green spruce, I must have appeared more like one deranged than
a rational creature, as Captain Hill afterwards told me that he never
saw anything in the form of man look so wild as I did when I first came
on board.

The captain then asked me into the cabin, where I found Maquina in
irons, with a guard over him. He looked very melancholy, but on seeing
me his countenance brightened up, and he expressed his pleasure with the
welcome of "_Wocash_, John," when, taking him by the hand, I asked the
captain's permission to take off his irons, assuring him that, as I was
with him, there was no danger of his being in the least troublesome. He
accordingly consented, and I felt a sincere pleasure in freeing from
fetters a man who, though he had caused the death of my poor comrades,
had nevertheless always proved my friend and protector, and whom I had
requested to be thus treated, only with a view of securing my liberty.
Maquina smiled, and appeared much pleased at this mark of attention from
me. When I had freed the king from his irons, Captain Hill wished to
learn the particulars of our capture, observing that an account of the
destruction of the ship and her crew had been received at Boston before
he sailed, but that nothing more was known, except that two of the men
were living, for whose rescue the owners had offered a liberal reward,
and that he had been able to get nothing out of the old man, whom the
sailors had supplied so plentifully with grog as to bring him too much
by the head to give any information.

I gave him a correct statement of the whole proceeding, together with
the manner in which my life and that of my comrade had been preserved.
On hearing my story, he was greatly irritated against Maquina, and said
he ought to be killed. I observed that, however ill he might have acted
in taking our ship, yet that it might perhaps be wrong to judge an
uninformed savage with the same severity as a civilised person, who had
the light of religion and the laws of society to guide him. That
Maquina's conduct in taking our ship arose from an insult that he
thought he had received from Captain Salter, and from the unjustifiable
conduct of some masters of vessels who had robbed him, and, without
provocation, killed a number of his people. Besides, that a regard for
the safety of others ought to prevent his being put to death, as I had
lived long enough with these people to know that revenge of an injury is
held sacred by them, and that they would not fail to retaliate, should
we kill their king, on the first vessel or boat's crew that should give
them an opportunity; and that, though he might consider executing him as
but an act of justice, it would probably cost the lives of many

The captain appeared to be convinced from what I said of the impolicy of
taking Maquina's life, and said that he would leave it wholly with me
whether to spare or kill him, as he was resolved to incur no censure in
either case. I replied that I most certainly should never take the life
of a man who had preserved mine, had I no other reason, but as there was
some of the _Boston's_ property still remaining on shore, I considered
it a duty that I owed to those who were interested in that ship, to try
to save it for them, and with that view I thought it would be well to
keep him on board till it was given up. He concurred in this proposal,
saying, if there was any of the property left, it most certainly ought
to be got.

During this conversation Maquina was in great anxiety, as, from what
English he knew, he perfectly comprehended the subject of our
deliberation; constantly interrupting me to inquire what we had
determined to do with him, what the captain said, if his life would be
spared, and if I did not think that Thompson would kill him. I pacified
him as well as I was able, by telling him that he had nothing to fear
from the captain, that he would not be hurt, and that if Thompson
wished to kill him, he would not be allowed to do it. He would then
remind me that I was indebted to him for my life, and that I ought to do
by him as he had done by me. I assured him that such was my intention,
and I requested him to remain quiet, and not alarm himself, as no harm
was intended him. But I found it extremely difficult to convince him of
this, as it accorded so little with the ideas of revenge entertained by
them. I told him, however, that he must restore all the property still
in his possession belonging to the ship. This he was perfectly ready to
do, happy to escape on such terms.

But as it was now past five, and too late for the articles to be
collected and brought off, I told him that he must content himself to
remain on board with me that night, and in the morning he should be set
on shore as soon as the things were delivered. To this he agreed, on
condition that I would remain with him in the cabin. I then went upon
deck, and the canoe that brought me having been sent back, I hailed the
inhabitants and told them that their king had agreed to stay on board
till the next day, when he would return, but that no canoes must attempt
to come near the vessel during the night, as they would be fired upon.
They answered, "_Woho, woho_"--"Very well, very well."

I then returned to Maquina, but so great were his terrors, that he would
not allow me to sleep, constantly disturbing me with his questions, and
repeating, "John, you know, when you was alone, and more than five
hundred men were your enemies, I was your friend, and prevented them
from putting you and Thompson to death, and now I am in the power of
your friends, you ought to do the same by me." I assured him that he
would be detained on board no longer than whilst the property was
released, and that as soon as it was done, he would be set at liberty.

At daybreak I hailed the natives, and told them that it was Maquina's
order that they should bring off the cannon and anchors, and whatever
remained with them of the cargo of the ship. This they set about doing
with the utmost expedition, transporting the cannon and anchors by
lashing together two of their largest canoes, and covering them with
planks, and in the course of two hours they delivered everything on
board that I could recollect, with Thompson's and my chest, containing
the papers of the ship, etc.

When everything belonging to the ship had been restored, Maquina was
permitted to return in his canoe, which had been sent for him, with a
present of what skins he had collected, which were about sixty, for the
captain, in acknowledgment of his having spared his life, and allowed
him to depart unhurt.

Such was also the transport he felt when Captain Hill came into the
cabin, and told him that he was at liberty to go, that he threw off his
mantle, which consisted of four of the very best skins, and gave it to
him as a mark of his gratitude; in return for which the captain
presented him with a new greatcoat and hat, with which he appeared much
delighted. The captain then desired me to inform him that he should
return to that part of the coast in November, and that he wished him to
keep what skins he should get, which he would buy of him. This Maquina
promised, saying to me at the same time, "John, you know I shall be then
at Tashees, but when you come, make _pow_," which means, fire a gun, "to
let me know, and I will come down." When he came to the side of the
brig, he shook me cordially by the hand, and told me that he hoped I
would come to see him again in a big ship, and bring much plenty of
blankets, biscuit, molasses, and rum, for him and his son, who loved me
a great deal; and that he would keep all the furs he got for me,
observing at the same time, that he should never more take a letter of
recommendation from any one, or ever trust himself on board a vessel
unless I was there. Then, grasping both my hands with much emotion,
while the tears trickled down his cheeks, he bade me farewell, and stept
into the canoe, which immediately paddled him on shore.

Notwithstanding my joy at my deliverance, and the pleasing anticipation
I felt of once more beholding a civilised country, and again being
permitted to offer up my devotions in a Christian church, I could not
avoid experiencing a painful sensation on parting with the savage chief,
who had preserved my life, and in general treated me with kindness, and,
considering their ideas and manners, much better than could have been

My pleasure was also greatly damped by an unfortunate accident that
occurred to Toowinnakinnish. That interesting young chief had come on
board in the first canoe in the morning, anxious to see and comfort his
king. He was received with much kindness by Captain Hill, from the
favourable account I gave of him, and invited to remain on board. As the
muskets were delivered, he was in the cabin with Maquina, where was
also the captain, who, on receiving them, snapped a number in order to
try the locks; unluckily one of them happened to be loaded with swan
shot, and, going off, discharged its contents into the body of poor
Toowinnakinnish, who was sitting opposite. On hearing the report, I
instantly ran into the cabin, where I found him weltering in his blood,
with the captain, who was greatly shocked at the accident, endeavouring
to assist him.

We raised him up, and did everything in our power to aid and comfort
him, telling him that we felt much grieved at his misfortune, and that
it was wholly unintentional; this he told me he was perfectly satisfied
of, and while we dressed and bound up his wounds, in the best manner we
could, he bore the pain with great calmness, and, bidding me farewell,
was put on board one of the canoes and taken on shore, where, after
languishing a few days, he expired. To me his misfortune was a source of
much affliction, as he had no share in the massacre of our crew, was of
a most amiable character, and had always treated me with the greatest
kindness and hospitality.

The brig being under weigh, immediately on Maquina's quitting us, we
proceeded to the northward, constantly keeping the shore in sight, and
touching at various places for the purpose of trading.

Having already exceeded the bounds I had prescribed myself, I shall not
attempt any account of our voyage upon the coast, or a description of
the various nations we met with in the course of it, among whom were a
people of a very singular appearance, called by the sailors the
_Wooden-lips_.[138] They have many skins, and the trade is principally
managed by their women, who are not only expert in making a bargain, but
as dexterous in the management of their canoes as the men are elsewhere.

After a period of nearly four months from our leaving Nootka, we
returned from the northward to Columbia River, for the purpose of
procuring masts, etc., for our brig, which had suffered considerably in
her spars during a gale of wind. We proceeded about ten miles up the
river to a small Indian village, where we heard from the inhabitants
that Captains Clark and Lewis, from the United States of America, had
been there about a fortnight before, on their journey overland, and had
left several medals with them, which they showed us.[139] The river at
this place is of considerable breadth, and both sides of it from its
entrance covered with forests of the very finest pine timber, fir, and
spruce, interspersed with Indian settlements.

From this place, after providing ourselves with spars, we sailed for
Nootka, where we arrived in the latter part of November.[140] The tribe
being absent, the agreed signal was given, by firing a cannon, and in a
few hours after a canoe appeared, which landed at the village, and,
putting the king on shore, came off to the brig. Inquiry was immediately
made by Kinneclimmets, who was one of the three men in the canoe, if
John was there, as the king had some skins to sell them if he was. I
then went forward and invited them on board, with which they readily
complied, telling me that Maquina had a number of skins with him, but
that he would not come on board unless I would go on shore for him. This
I agreed to, provided they would remain in the brig in the meantime. To
this they consented, and the captain, taking them into the cabin,
treated them with bread and molasses. I then went on shore in the canoe,
notwithstanding the remonstrances of Thompson and the captain, who,
though he wanted the skins, advised me by no means to put myself in
Maquina's power; but I assured him that I had no fear as long as those
men were on board.

As I landed, Maquina came up and welcomed me with much joy: on inquiring
for the men, I told him that they were to remain till my return. "Ah,
John," said he, "I see you are afraid to trust me, but if they had come
with you, I should not have hurt you, though I should have taken good
care not to let you go on board of another vessel." He then took his
chest of skins, and, stepping into the canoe, I paddled him alongside
the brig, where he was received and treated by Captain Hill with the
greatest cordiality, who bought of him his skins. He left us much
pleased with his reception, inquiring of me how many moons it would be
before I should come back again to see him and his son; saying that he
would keep all his furs for me, and that as soon as my son, who was then
about five months old, was of a suitable age to take from his mother, he
would send for him, and take care of him as his own.[141]

As soon as Maquina had quitted us, we got under weigh, and stood again
to the northward. We continued on the coast until the 11th of August,
1806,[142] when, having completed our trade, we sailed for China, to the
great joy of all our crew, and particularly so to me. With a degree of
satisfaction that I can ill express, did I quit a coast to which I was
resolved nothing should again tempt me to return, and as the tops of the
mountains sank in the blue waves of the ocean, I seemed to feel my heart
lightened of an oppressive load.

We had a prosperous passage to China, arriving at Macao in December,
from whence the brig proceeded to Canton. There I had the good fortune
to meet a townsman and an old acquaintance in the mate of an English
East Indiaman, named John Hill, whose father, a wealthy merchant in Hull
in the Baltic trade, was a next-door neighbour to mine. Shortly after
our arrival, the captain being on board of an English ship, and
mentioning his having had the good fortune to liberate two men of the
_Boston's_ crew from the savages, and that one of them was named Jewitt,
my former acquaintance immediately came on board the brig to see me.

Words can ill express my feelings on seeing him. Circumstanced as I was,
among persons who were entire strangers to me, to meet thus in a foreign
land with one between whom and myself a considerable intimacy had
subsisted, was a pleasure that those alone who have been in a similar
situation can properly estimate. He appeared on his part no less happy
to see me, whom he supposed to be dead, as the account of our capture
had been received in England some time before his sailing, and all my
friends supposed me to have been murdered. From this young man I
received every attention and aid that a feeling heart interested in the
fate of another could confer. He supplied me with a new suit of clothes
and a hat, a small sum of money for my necessary expenses, and a number
of little articles for sea stores on my voyage to America. I also gave
him a letter for my father, in which I mentioned my wonderful
preservation and escape through the humanity of Captain Hill, with whom
I should return to Boston. This letter he enclosed to his father by a
ship that was just sailing, in consequence of which it was received much
earlier than it otherwise would have been.

We left China in February 1807, and, after a pleasant voyage of one
hundred and fourteen days, arrived at Boston. My feelings on once more
finding myself in a Christian country, among a people speaking the same
language with myself, may be more readily conceived than expressed. In
the post office in that place I found a letter for me from my mother,
acknowledging the receipt of mine from China, expressing the great joy
of my family on hearing of my being alive and well, whom they had for a
long time given up for dead, and requesting me to write to them on
receiving her letter, which I accordingly did. While in Boston I was
treated with much kindness and hospitality by the owners of the ship
_Boston_, Messrs. Francis and Thomas Amory of that place, to whom I feel
myself under great obligations for their goodness to me, and the
assistance which they so readily afforded a stranger in distress.


[137] This seems another variant of Klaosaht.

[138] These are doubtless the Hydahs and their kindred, the women of
whom insert a wooden or ivory trough in their lower lip.

[139] Lewis and Clark reached the mouth of Columbia River on the 15th of
November 1805, and wintered at "Fort Clatsop," as they called their
dwelling among the then numerous Clatsop Indians, until the 23rd of
March 1806, when they began the return journey. The Indians have long
ago vanished from the lower Columbia, the remnant of the Clatsops, and
the Chinooks on the opposite side, now wearing out the tribal existence
in inland Reservations. But it is still possible to come across one of
the medals which the explorers distributed amongst them.

[140] It is clear, therefore, from this statement that Lewis and Clark
had left Fort Clatsop much more than a fortnight before the vessel in
which Jewitt was arrived there; for it is impossible to suppose that the
latter took from April to November to get at spars and make the return
voyage to Nootka. But the journal of Lewis and Clark was not published
until 1814, so that, when Jewitt wrote, he had no ready means of
checking the Indians' statement, though neither he nor his editor seems
to have troubled books much.

[141] The cavalier manner in which Jewitt abandons his family is quite
in the fur-trader's fashion. It does not seem that he even asked to see
his Indian "princess!"

[142] If Jewitt's information about the departure of Lewis and Clark
from the Columbia River is even approximately accurate, the date must be
wrong by a year, and the subsequent one quite as far out of the due
reckoning. 1806 may be a misprint for 1807.



    Names of the Crew of the Ship _Boston_, belonging to Boston in
    Massachusetts, owned by Messrs. F. and T. Amory, Merchants of
    that place--All of whom, excepting two, were on the 22nd of
    March, 1803, barbarously murdered by the savages of Nootka.

  John Salter,             of Boston,                   Captain.
  B. Delouisa,                Ditto,                    Chief Mate.
  William Ingraham,        of New York,                 Second Mate.
  Edward Thompson,         of Blyth (England),          Boatswain.
  Adam Siddle,             of Hull,   ditto,            Carpenter.
  Philip Brown,            of Cambridge (Mass.),        Joiner.
  John Dorthy,             of Situate,   ditto,         Blacksmith.
  Abraham Waters,          of Philadelphia,             Steward.
  Francis Duffield,        of Penton (England),         Tailor.
  John Wilson (blackman),  of Virginia,                 Cook.
  William Caldwell,        of Boston,                   Seaman.
  Joseph Miner,            of Newport,                  Ditto.
  William Robinson,        of Leigh[143] (Scotland),    Ditto.
  Thomas Wilson,           of Air,[144]    ditto,       Ditto.
  Andrew Kelly,            Ditto,          ditto,       Ditto.
  Robert Burton,           of the Isle of Man,          Ditto.
  James M'Clay,            of Dublin,                   Ditto.
  Thomas Platten,          of Blackney, Norfolk, Eng.   Ditto.
  Thomas Newton,           of Hull,               "     Ditto.
  Charles Bates,           of St. James Deeping,  "     Ditto.
  John Hall,               of Newcastle,          "     Ditto.
  Samuel Wood,             of Glasgow (Scotland),       Ditto.
  Peter Alstrom,           Norwegian,                   Ditto.
  Francis Marten,          Portuguese,                  Ditto.
  Jupiter Senegal (blackman)                            Ditto.
  John Thompson,           Philadelphia,                Sail Maker,
                                           who escaped--since dead.
  John R. Jewitt,          of Hull (England),           Armourer,

the writer of the Journal from whence this Narrative is taken, and who
at present, March 1815, resides in Middletown, in the State of


[143] Leith.

[144] Ayr.


_Commencing with a Chorus repeated at the end of each line._

    Hah-yee hah yar har, he yar hah.
    Hah-yah hee yar har--he yar hah.
    Iye ie ee yah har--ee yie hah.
    Ie yar ee yar hah--ee yar yah.
    Ie yar ee I yar yar hah--Ie yar ee yee yah!

    Ie-yee ma hi-chill at-sish Kla-ha--Hah-ye-hah.
    Que nok ar parts arsh waw--Ie yie-yar.
    Waw-hoo naks sar hasch--Yar-hah. I-yar hee I-yar.
    Waw hoo naks ar hasch yak-queets sish ni-ese,
    Waw har. Hie yee ah-hah.

Repeated over and over, with gestures and brandishing of weapons.


_Ie-yee ma hi-chill_ signifies, "Ye do not know." It appears to be a
poetical mode of expression, the common one for "You do not know" being
_Wik-kum-atash_; from this, it would seem that they have two languages,
one for their songs and another for common use. The general meaning of
this first stanza appears to be, "Ye little know, ye men of Klahar, what
valiant warriors we are. Poorly can our foes contend with us, when we
come on with our daggers," etc.

The Nootkians have no songs of an historical nature, nor do they appear
to have any tradition respecting their origin.[145]


[145] That is not quite true. They have several of a vague order: one,
for example, is that all the Indians are sprung from Quawteaht and the
Thunder Birds. Another is that all the tribes on the West Coast come
from the west; the different tribes having sprung from the canoes full
of migrants stranded by a storm here and there, and so forth.


_In the Nootkian Language, the most in use._[146]

  Check-up,                 Man.
  Kloots-mah,               Woman.
  Noowexa,                  Father.
  Hooma-hexa,               Mother.
  Tanassis,                 Child.
  Katlahtik,                Brother.
  Kloot-chem-up,            Sister.
  Tanassis-check-up,        Son.
  Tanassis-kloots-mah,      Daughter.
  Tau-hat-se-tee,           Head.
  Kassee,                   Eye.
  Hap-se-up,                Hair.
  Neetsa,                   Nose.
  Parpee,                   Ears.
  Chee-chee,                Teeth.
  Choop,                    Tongue.
  Kook-a-nik-sa,            Hands.
  Klish-klin,               Feet.
  Oop-helth,                Sun or Moon.
  Tar-toose,                Stars.
  Sie-yah,                  Sky.
  Toop-elth,                Sea.
  Cha-hak,                  Fresh water.
  Meet-la,                  Rain.
  Queece,                   Snow.
  Noot-chee,                Mountain or hill.
  Kla-tur-miss,             Earth.
  Een-nuk-see,              Fire or fuel.
  Mook-see,                 Rock.
  Muk-ka-tee,               House.
  Wik,                      No.
  He-ho,                    Yes.
  Kak-koelth,               Slave.
  Mah-hack,                 Whale.
  Klack-e-miss,             Oil.
  Quart-lak,                Sea-otter.
  Coo-coo-ho-sa,            Seal.
  Moo-watch,                Bear.
  So-har,                   Salmon.
  Toosch-qua,               Cod.
  Pow-ee,                   Halibut.
  Kloos-a-mit,              Herring.
  Chap-atz,                 Canoe.
  Oo-wha-pa,                Paddle.
  Chee-me-na,               Fish-hook.
  Chee-men,                 Fish-hooks.
  Sick-a-minny,             Iron.
  Toophelth,                Cloth.
  Cham-mass,                Fruit.
  Cham-mas-sish,            Sweet or pleasant to the taste.
  Moot-sus,                 Powder.
  Chee-pokes,               Copper.
  Hah-welks,                Hungry.
  Nee-sim-mer-hise,         Enough.
  Chat-ta-yek,              Knife or dagger.
  Klick-er-yek,             Rings.
  Quish-ar,                 Smoke.
  Mar-met-ta,               Goose or duck.
  Pook-shit-tle,            To blow.
  Een-a-qui-shit-tle,       To kindle a fire.
  Ar-teese,                 To bathe.
  Ma-mook-su-mah,           To go to fish.
  Smootish-check-up,        Warrior.
  Cha-alt-see klat-tur wah, Go off, or go away.
  Ma-kook,                  To sell.
  Kah-ah-pah-chilt,         Give me something.
  Oo-nah,                   How many.
  Iy ah-ish,                Much.
  Ko-mme-tak,               I understand.
  I-yee ma hak,             I do not understand.
  Em-ma-chap,               To play.
  Kle-whar,                 To laugh.
  Mac-kam-mah-sish,         Do you want to buy.
  Kah-ah-coh,               Bring it.
  Sah-wauk,                 One.
  Att-la,                   Two.
  Kat-sa,                   Three.
  Mooh,                     Four.
  Soo-chah,                 Five.
  Noo-poo,                  Six.
  At-tle-poo,               Seven.
  At-lah-quelth,            Eight.
  Saw-wauk-quelth,          Nine.
  Hy-o,                     Ten.
  Sak-aitz,                 Twenty.
  Soo-jewk,                 One hundred.
  Hy-e-oak,                 One thousand.


[146] Most of the words in this vocabulary are given with reasonable
correctness, though the transliteration is somewhat primitive. A fuller
and more accurate one may be found in the Appendix to Sproat's _Scenes
and Studies of Savage Life_ (1868), pp. 295-309, so that it is not
necessary to annotate the present one. Those in Cook's _Voyage_ and in
Dawson and Tolmie's _Comparative Vocabularies of the Indian Tribes of
British Columbia_ (1884), are short and imperfect. I have a much fuller
one in manuscript.



Aht Indians, The, 19
---- The various tribes of, 23

A-y-chart, Journey to, 193
---- Natives, conflict with, 194

Bear, Capture of the, 164
---- Management of the, 163

Boston, Arrival at, 244
---- Reception at, by friends, 245

_Boston_, The--
  Burning of, 83
  Capture of, 32, 64
  List of crew of, 247
  Murder of crew of, 68

Canoes, Description of, 124

Cayuquets, The, 136

China, Arrival at, 244

Celebration, A religious, 205

Climate, 221

Cook and Vancouver, 38

Cooptee, Town of, 145, 168

Death, Indian customs observed at, 173

Feast, An Indian, 80

Fruit, Various kinds of, 162

Geese, Mode of capture of, 208

Herring, Mode of capture of, 171

Hull, Leave-taking at, 51

Klaizzarts, The, 132

Kla-oo-quates, The, 134

Kletsup Root, Description of, 167

Ife-waw, Method of securing, 116

  Birth of, 43
  Domestic management, 204
  Early life of, 44
  Illness of, 212
  Marriage of, 201
  Parentage of, 43
  Proposal to release, 232
  Proposal to murder, 214
  Reception of, by savages, 70
  Received by Captain Hill, 235
  Sufferings from cold, 211
  Suspicions of, by Maquina, 228
  Termination of captivity, 234

Journal, Jewitt's, Commencement of, 89

King, Privileges of the, 215

Language, Commencement to learn, 93

_Lydia_, The, Arrival of, 224
----Departure of, 241
----Letter to captain of, 227

_Manchester_, The, 154

Maquina--, 59, 188
  Capture and Imprisonment of, 229
  Council concerning, 236
  Release of, 238
  Visit of, to the _Lydia_, 243

Mooachats, The, 38

Moon, Eclipse of the, in 1805, 208

Newchemass, The, 136

Native, Indecent burial of a, 212

Natives, Intercourse with, 58

Nettinahts, The, 21

Nootka Sound, 28, 95
---- ---- Return to, 72
---- ---- Voyage to, 53

Nootkians, The--
  Complexion and physique, 113
  Diseases of, 220
  Dress of, 105
  Filthiness of, 187
  Food of, 110
  General conduct of, 225
  Houses of, 97
  Mode of living of, 108
  Musical instruments of, 129
  Ornaments and decorations of, 115, 117
  Personal appearance of, 112
  Religion of, 216
  Slaves of, 130
  Sports of, 120
  Superstitions of, 217
  War-song of, 248

Nootkian language, List of words, 249

Porpoises, Sea, Capture of, 56

Quahootze, The celebration of, 165

Salmon, Method of capture of the, 121, 148

Salter, Captain John, 48, 55

Savages, Treatment of, by English Commanders, 156, 161

Savagedom in Western Vancouver, 16

Sea-otter, Description of the, 120

Sundays at Nootka, 142

Tashees, 147

  Escape by stratagem of, 74
  Escape from death of, 90
  Reception of, by crew of the _Lydia_, 232

  Description of, 174
  Death of, 181
  Funeral of, 182
  Singular Derangement of, 176

Toowinnakinnish, 235, 240

Trade, Articles of, 137

Tribes, Arrival of neighbouring, 77

Twins, Custom at birth of, 218

Ulatilla, 198

Upquesta, Town of, 168
----Reception at, 169

War, Preparations for, with the A-y-charts, 192

Whale, Method of capture of, 122, 178

Whale-oil, Method of procuring, 179

Whaling, Observances preparatory to, 180

Wickinninish Native, Insult of, 191

Wife, Departure of Jewitt's, 213

Wooden-lips, The, 241

Yama fruit, Species of, 161

Yealthlower, Cruelty of, 207



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    paper and typography, but of the sane way in which the personal
    character and literary qualities of the author of 'Tam O' Shanter'
    are appraised in the biographical sketch which serves by way of
    introduction."--_Daily News._

    "Its price, its completeness, and the care bestowed in the arrangement
    of its contents, their annotation, and the preparation of a glossary,
    should have vogue with the admirers of Burns."--_Scotsman._

    "Mr. James A. Manson, the editor, has written a biographical
    introduction, in which he takes a temperate and common-sense view of
    the poet."--_Dundee Advertiser._

    "The volumes are such a treat to handle and read that they are certain
    to be popular."--_Glasgow Herald._

    "To anyone in search of a 'Burns' we thoroughly recommend this
    scholarly and beautiful edition."--_Freeman's Journal._

    "Contains an admirable biographical sketch, which, unlike most
    biographies, overlooks with kindly eye the follies of the erratic

    "There are several features in connection with the work which in our
    opinion specially commend it to admirers of our national poet at this
    time. While it is one of the smallest and handiest editions, it is
    also one of the most complete."--_People's Friend._

    "A most attractive edition."--_Cassel's Saturday Journal._

    "The thoroughness of the notes and the fulness and clearness of the
    English equivalents in the glossary unite in making this one of the
    very best editions of Burns ever published."--_North British Daily

    "A noble edition, which holds its place well with all rivals."--_Irish




    _Edited, with an Introduction and Notes_,

    NO. I.

    _Rector of Eastnor_;

    Paper covers, 1s.; cloth, gilt top, 2s.

    _Other Sundials will follow by various Authors._


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

The following words appear both with and without hyphens and have not
been changed: Ai-tiz-zarts, Cay-u-quets, Kla-iz-zarts, Noot-chee.

Hyphen added: ear[-]rings (page 118), otter[-]skin (page 153),
sail[-]maker (page 35), saw[-]mills (page 61).

Hyphen removed: fresh[-]water (page 221), good[-]will (pages 92, 93).

List of illustrations: page number 151 changed to 149.

Page 129: "as" changed to "at" (at war, whaling and fishing).

Page 250: The word "Moot-sus, Powder" was restored from another book.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Adventures of John Jewitt - Only Survivor of the Crew of the Ship Boston During a Captivity of Nearly Three Years Among the Indians of Nootka Sound in Vancouver Island" ***

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