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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vol. IVoyaging Accounts
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King George's Island


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King George's Island (continued)

it to them; this courtesy, however, produced a disagreeable effect, for he had no sooner given away his waistcoat, than one of the Indians very ingeniously untied his cravat, and the next moment snatched it from his neck, and ran away with it. Our adventurer, therefore, to prevent his being stripped by piece-meal, made the best of his way back again to the boat: still, however, we were upon good terms, and several of the Indians swam off to our people, some of them bringing a cocoa-nut, and others a little fresh water in a cocoa-nut shell. But the principal object of our boats, was to obtain some pearls; and the men, to assist them in explaining their meaning, had taken with them some of the pearl oyster shells which they had found in great numbers upon the coast; but all their endeavours were ineffectual, for they could not, even with this assistance, at all make themselves understood. It is indeed probable that we should have succeeded better, if an intercourse of any kind could have been established between us, but it was our misfortune that no anchorage could be found for the ships. As all Indians are fond of beads, it can scarcely be supposed that the pearls, which the oysters at this place contained, were overlooked by the natives, and it is more than probable that if we could have continued here a few weeks, we might have obtained some of great value in exchange for nails, hatchets, and bill-hooks, upon which the natives, with more reason, set a much higher value. We observed, that in the lake, or lagoon, there were two or three very large vessels, one of which had two masts, and some cordage aloft to support them.

To these two islands, I gave the name of KING GEORGE’S ISLANDS, in honour of his Majesty. That which we last visited, lies in latitude 14° 41’S., longitude 149° 15’W.; the variation of the compass here was 5° E.

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© Derived from Volume I of the London 1773 Edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, page 106, 2004
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