When a vessel approaches the Feejee Islands, numberless canoes put off, and soon surround her so closely, that unless the wind is pretty fresh, she is placed in no slight jeopardy. At such a time the principal chief ought to be invited on board; and presents should be given to him, while he is made to understand that it is necessary he should order the canoes to keep off. His commands will be implicitly obeyed; and while he is on board, and well treated, there will be less risk; but he must not be relied on implicitly.
Some of the canoes are very long, from sixty to eighty feet in length: and when two such are fastened together, with a light structure erected upon them, the men who stand on their raised deck are above the level of a small vessel's bulwark.
At the time that Mr. Clark was a prisoner among them, a musket was considered to be a fair ransom for a white man; and (perhaps fortunately for him) they had then an idea that the flesh of white men was not wholesome.
They have many articles of trade, such as shells, tortoiseshell, coral, spermaceti, whales' teeth, 'bicho de mar,' mats of exquisite workmanship, fruit, and provisions: among the latter are pigs and 'iguanas.' Excepting a great alligator, the Feejee men never saw an animal on their island larger than a dog or a pig. The monster just mentioned made its appearance on the island Pau, the largest of the group, some years ago, to the extreme consternation of the natives, who thought it was a sea-god. After destroying nine people, at different times, the 'enormous lizard,' as they called it, was caught by a strong noose passed over the bough of a large tree, the other end of the rope being held at a distance by fourteen men, who lay concealed, while a daring old man offered himself as a bait to entice the brute to run into the snare.
Mr. Mariner supposed that this alligator, or crocodile, had made its way from the East Indies; a curious instance of the manner in which occasional migrations take place. On an island in that neighbourhood, called Lotooma, Mariner heard of two enormous bones, not at all like any human bones, nor resembling those of a whale. The natives of the island have a tradition that they belonged to a giant, who was killed in former ages by the united attack of all the population.