Page images
PDF
EPUB

great part of North America prevented the viceroys of Mexico from pursuing expeditions of discovery to the north of Mendocino. The court of Madrid gave orders to suspend the expeditions so long as the hostilities should endure between Spain and England. This interruption continued even long after the peace of Versailles; and it was not till 1788 that two Spanish vessels, the frigate la Princesa and the pacquet-boat San Carlos, commanded by Don Esteban Martinez and Don Gonzalo Lopez de Haro, left the port of San Bias with the design of examining the position and state of the Russian establishments on the northwest coast of America. The existence of these establishments, of which it appears that the court of Madrid had no knowledge till after the publication of the third voyage of the illustrious Cook, gave the greatest uneasiness to the Spanish government. It saw with chagrin that the fur trade drew numerous English, French, and American vessels towards a coast which, before the return of Lieutenant King to London, had been as little frequented by Europeans as the land of the Nuyts, or that of Endracht in New Holland.

The expedition of Martinez and Haro lasted from the 8th March to the 5th December 1788. These navigators made the direct route from San Bias to the entry of Prince William, called by the Russians the gulf Tschugatskaja. They visited Cook river, the JLichtak (Kodiak) islands, Schumagin,Unimah, and Unalaschka (Onalaska.) They were very friendly treated in the different factories which they found established in Cook river and Unalaschka, and they even received communication of several maps drawn up by the Russians of these latitudes. I found" in the ar* chives of theviceroyalty of Mexico a large volume in folio, bearing the title of Riconocimiento de los quatros establecimientos Russos al Norte de la California, hecho -en 1788. The historical account of the voyage of Martinez contained in this manuscript furnishes, however, very few data relative to the Russian colonies in the new continent. No person in the crew understanding a word of the Russian language, they could only make themselves understood by signs. They forgot, before undertaking this distant expedition, to bring an interpreter from Europe. The evil was without remedy. However M. Martinez would have had as great difficulty in finding a Russian in the whole extent of Spanish America as Sir George Staunton had to discover a Chinese in England or France.

Since the voyages of Cook, Dixon, Portlock, Mears, andDuncan, theEuropearis began to consider the port of Nootka as the principal fur market of the north-west coast of North America. This consideration induced the court of Madrid to do in 1789 what it could easier have done 15 years sooner, immediately after the voyage of Juan Perez. M. Martinez, who had been visiting the Russian factories, received orders to make a solid establishment at Nootka, and to examine carefully that part of the coast comprised between the 50° and the 55" of latitude, which Captain Cook, could not survey in the course of his navigation. The port of Nootka is on the eastern coast of an island, which, according to the survey in 1791 by MM. Espinosa and Cevallos, is twenty marine miles in breadth, and which is separated by the channel of Tasis from the great island, now called the island of Quadra and Vancouver. It is therefore equally false to assert that the port of Nootka, called by the natives Yucuatl, belongs to the great island of Quadra, as it is inaccurate to say .that Cape Horn is the extremity of Terra del Fuego. We cannot conceive by what misconception the illustrious Cook could convert the name of Yucuatl into Nootka*, this last word being unknown to the natives of the country, and having no analogy to any of the words of their language excepting Noutchi, which signifies mountain*.

voL. II. Y

* There does not seem to be any difficulty in the matter. It is very easy for any one at all acquainted with the embarrassment experienced by the ear in catching, and, as it were, disentangling the sounds of a foreign language, to conceive that when the common standard of writing cannot be resorted to, hardly two persons will report the same word alike. In languages even already familiar to us by writing, it requires a long experience before we can follow the conversation of the natives; what must it therefore be in.languages affording no such assistance, and of which many of the sounds are new to European ears. Thus Captain Cook and Mr. Anderson, a surgeon in his expedition, hardly agree in the representation

of any one word. It would appear, however, from what is Said of Captain Cook by Mr. King, that his ear was by no means very accurate in distinguishing sounds. Trans.

* Memoire de Don Francisco Moziiio. The Worthy author was one of the botanists of the expedition of M. Sesse, and remained at Nootka with M. Quadra in 1792. Wishing to procure every possible information with regard to the northwest coast of North America, I made extracts in 1803 from the manuscript of M. Mozino, for which I was indebted to the friendship of professor Cervantes, director of the botanical garden at Mexico. I have since discovered that the same memoir furnished materials to the learned compiler of the Viage de la Sutil, p. 123. Notwithstanding the accurate information which we owe to the English and French navigators, it would still be interesting to publish the observation* of M. Mozino on the manners of the Indians of Nootka. These observations embrace a great number of curious subjects, viz. the union of the civil and ecclesiastical power in the person of the princes or tays; the struggle between Quaut? and Matlox, the good and bad principle by which the world is governed; the origin of the human species at an epoqua when stags were without horns, birds without wings, and dogs without tails; the Eve of the Nootkians, who lived solitary in a flowery grove of Yucuatl, when the god Quautz visited her in a fine copper canoe; the education of the first man, who, as he grew up, past from one small shell to a greater; the genealogy of the nobility of Nootka, who descend from the oldest son of the man brought up i« a shell, while the rest of the people (who even in the other world have a separate paradise called Pinpula) dare not trace their origin farther back than to younger branches; the calendar of the

Don Esteban Martinez, commanding the frigate La Princessa, and the pacquet-boat San Carlos, anchored in the port of Nootka on the 5th May, 1789. He was received in a very friendly manner by the chief Macuina, who recollected very well having seen him with M. Perez in 1774, and who even shewed the beautiful Monterey shells which were then presented to him. Macuina, the tays of the island of Yucuatl, has an absolute authority; he is the Montezuma of these countries; and his name has become celebrated among all the nations who carry on the sea-otter skin trade. I know not if Macuina yet lives; but we learned at Mexico in the end of 1803, by letters from Monterey, that more jealous of his independence than the king of the Sandwich Islands, who has declared himself the vassal of England, he was endeavouring to procure fire-arms and powder to protect himself from the insults to which he was frequently exposed by European navigators.

The port of Santa Cruz of Nootka (called Puerto de San Lorenzo by Perez, and Friendly-cove byCook), is from seven to eight fathoms in depth*. It is almost shut in on the south-east by small islands, on one of which Martinez erected the

Nootkians, in which the year begins with the summer solstice, and is divided into fourteen months of 20 days, and a great number of intercalated days added to the end of several months, &c. &c. * From nearly to 8£ fathoms English. Trans.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »