CHAPTER XVII: COMES TO THE ISLANDS OF JAMA AND MOA.
On the 27th, being in the latitude of 2 degrees 10 minutes south, and in the longitude of 146 degrees 57 minutes, we fancied that we had a sight of the island of Moa, but it proved to be that of Jama, which lies a little to the east of Moa. We found here great plenty of cocoa-nuts and other refreshments. The inhabitants were absolutely black, and could easily repeat the words that they heard others speak, which shows their own to be a very copious language. It is, however, exceedingly difficult to pronounce, because they make frequent use of the letter R, and sometimes to such a degree that it occurs twice or thrice in the same word. The next day we anchored on the coast of the island of Moa, where we likewise found abundance of refreshments, and where we were obliged by bad weather to stay till May 9th. We purchased there, by way of exchange, six thousand cocoa-nuts, and a hundred bags of pysanghs or Indian figs. When we first began to trade with these people, one of our seamen was wounded by an arrow that one of the natives let fly, either through malice or inadvertency. We were at that very juncture endeavouring to bring our ships close to the shore, which so terrified these islanders, that they brought of their own accord on board us, the man who had shot the arrow and left him at our mercy. We found them after this accident much more tractable than before in every respect. Our sailors, therefore, pulled off the iron hoops from some of the old water-casks, stuck them into wooden handles, and filing them to an edge, sold these awkward knives to the inhabitants for their fruits.
In all probability they had not forgot what happened to our people on July 16th, 1616, in the days of William Schovten: these people, it seems, treated him very ill; upon which James le Maire brought his ship close to the shore, and fired a broadside through the woods; the bullets, flying through the trees, struck the negroes with such a panic, that they fled in an instant up into the country, and durst not show their heads again till they had made full satisfaction for what was past, and thereby secured their safety for the time to come; and he traded with them afterwards very peaceably, and with mutual satisfaction.
This account of our author's seems to have been taken upon memory, and is not very exact. Schovten's seamen, or rather the petty officer who commanded his long boat, insulted the natives grossly before they offered any injury to his people; and then, notwithstanding they fired upon them with small arms, the islanders obliged them to retreat; so that they were forced to bring the great guns to bear upon the island before they could reduce them. These people do not deserve to be treated as savages, because Schovten acknowledges that they had been engaged in commerce with the Spaniards; as appeared by their having iron pots, glass beads, and pendants, with other European commodities, before he came thither. He also tells us that they were a very civilised people, their country well cultivated and very fruitful; that they had a great many boats, and other small craft, which they navigated with great dexterity. He adds also, that they gave him a very distinct account of the neighbouring islands, and that they solicited him to fire upon the Arimoans, with whom it seems they are always at war; which, however, he refused to do, unless provoked to it by some injury offered by those people. It is therefore very apparent that the inhabitants of Moa are a people with whom any Europeans, settled in their neighbourhood, might without any difficulty settle a commerce, and receive considerable assistance from them in making discoveries. But perhaps some nations are fitter for these kind of expeditions than others, as being less apt to make use of their artillery and small arms upon every little dispute; for as the inhabitants of Moa are well enough acquainted with the superiority which the Europeans have over them, it cannot be supposed that they will ever hazard their total destruction by committing any gross act of cruelty upon strangers who visit their coast; and it is certainly very unfair to treat people as savages and barbarians, merely for defending themselves when insulted or attacked without cause. The instance Captain Tasman gives us of their delivering up the man who wounded his sailor is a plain proof of this; and as to the diffidence and suspicion which some later voyagers have complained of with respect to the inhabitants of this island, they must certainly be the effects of the bad behaviour of such Europeans as this nation have hitherto dealt with, and would be effectually removed, if ever they had a settled experience of a contrary conduct. The surest method of teaching people to behave honestly towards us is to behave friendly and honestly towards them, and then there is no great reason to fear, that such as give evident proofs of capacity and civility in the common affairs of life should be guilty of treachery that must turn to their own disadvantage.
CHAPTER XVIII: PROSECUTES HIS VOYAGE TO CERAM.
On the 12th of May, being then in the latitude of 54 minutes south, and in the longitude of 153 degrees 17 minutes, we found the variation 6 degrees 30 minutes to the east. We continued coasting the north side of the island of William Schovten, which is about eighteen or nineteen miles long, very populous, and the people very brisk and active. It was with great caution that Schovten gave his name to this island, for having observed that there were abundance of small islands laid down in the charts on the coast of New Guinea, he was suspicious that this might be of the number. But since that time it seems a point generally agreed, that this island had not before any particular name; and therefore, in all subsequent voyages, we find it constantly mentioned by the name of Schovten's Island.
He describes it as a very fertile and well-peopled island; the inhabitants of which were so far from discovering anything of a savage nature, that they gave apparent testimonies of their having had an extensive commerce before he touched there, since they not only showed him various commodities from the Spaniards, but also several samples of China ware; he observes that they are very unlike the nations he had seen before, being rather of an olive colour than black; some having short, others long hair, dressed after different fashions; they were also a taller, stronger, and stouter people than their neighbours. These little circumstances, which may seem tedious or trifling to such as read only for amusement, are, however, of very great importance to such as have discoveries in view; because they argue that these people have a general correspondence; the difference of their complexion must arise from a mixed descent; and the different manner of wearing their hair is undoubtedly owing to their following the fashion of different nations, as their fancies lead them. He farther observes that their vessels were larger and better contrived than their neighbours; that they readily parted with their bows and arrows in exchange for goods, and that they were particularly fond of glass and ironware, which, perhaps, they not only used themselves, but employed likewise in their commerce. The most western point of the island he called the Cape of Good Hope, because by doubling that cape he expected to reach the island of Banda; and that we may not wonder that he was in doubts and difficulties as to the situation on of these places, we ought to reflect that Schovten was the first who sailed round the world by this course, and the last too, except Commodore Roggewein, other navigators choosing rather to run as high as California, and from thence to the Ladrone Islands, merely because it is the ordinary route.
In the neighbourhood of this island Schovten also met with an earthquake, which alarmed the ship's company excessively, from an apprehension that they had struck upon a rock. There are some other islands in the neighbourhood of this, well peopled, and well planted, abounding with excellent fruits, especially of the melon kind. These islands lie, as it were, on the confines of the southern continent, and the East Indies, so that the inhabitants enjoy all the advantages resulting from their own happy climate, and from their traffic with their neighbours, especially with those of Ternate and Amboyna, who come thither yearly to purchase their commodities, and who are likewise visited at certain seasons by the people of these islands in their turn.