Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

ance in our country.” The king seemed not to be equally ignorant of the vast quantities of spirits manufactured in Great Britain; he requested to have some of our avu*, meaning spirituous liquors. Ou receiving some in a cocoa nut, he was pleased to express his most gracious approbation, by exclaiming in a loud and distinct tone, my ty te tala, my ty te paphil, very good men, very good ship. His majesty immediately proceeded to pay a similar visit

, and with a similar purpose to the porpoise. We are presently introduced to Edeah, the dowager, and wife of Pomare, the father of the reigning prince ; for it seems the son succeeds to the father's dignity immediately upon his birth, the father becoming the administrator for his child: and such was the actual relation of Otoo and his father. This lady had a savage chief for her paramour, and, though some years separated from her husband Pomarre, had not, on that account, suffered any diminution of power or respect in the country. She still enjoyed such influence in the state, that her favour was thought as essentially useful as her resentment was to be dreaded. No pains, therefore, were spared to gain her good-will; and the sacrifices made by Mr. Turnbull and his companions were, doubtless, as great as those experieyced by any of her domestic courtiers.

.“ This queen dowager and her paramour continued to drink and interchange tobacco till they were nearly incapable of leaving the ship, each appearing to be equally delighied with their entertainment."

The royal family of Otaheite, notwithstanding the ties of consanguinity, were governed by separate and personal interests. Though no longer living with his lawful wife, Pomarre did not hesitate to meet her in public, but, on the contrary, had the hardiness to appear every where with his reigning favourite, whoever she might be.

“ One day we had Edeah and her favourite chief to dine on board; not that they cared for our food dressed after our manner, but because they knew that, unless they ate with us, they could hope for none of our ava and tobacco, for which they both ardently longed. That we might not appear to be perre perre, niggardly and stingy, qualities they very artfully affected to abhor, they were

* Ava is a plast found in these islanıls, producing an intoxication similar to that of opiua; amongst the 'Turks. The preparation is extremely forbidding: after being cleansed and split into small pieces, it is masticated by some of the more sober attendants, and discharged with all the saliva into a wooden dish, and then mixed by the finger with some cocoa nut milk. Then, after being strained through the fibres of the cocoa nut, it is served up in a bowl of cocea leaves, boiding from a quartérn to half a pint,

suffered to indulge to their fullest wishes. After a very short in-
terval they renewed their calls for more: this was set before them ;
but the division of it had nearly.occasioned a very serious quarrel
between the lady and her attendant, who started up from table, and
with the most savage fury swore, in the language of the country, he
would put an end to her existence, for having, as he said, taken to
herself a little more than her due share.
“ The effect of the liquor on the two guests was very

different; for while the man became mad and furious, the poor queen dowager appeared silly and childish. She burst into tears, and trembled with fear as her companion grew outrageous and desperate. Just at this time, Pomarre (her husband) came on board. He was touched with compassion for Edeah, his consort; but unwilling personally to interfere, he beckoned me to go down, and endeavour to arrange matters, without his appearing to know any thing of the business."

Mr. Turnbull's detail of his adventures in Otaheite, his anecdotes of the royal family, and his characteristic sketches of the inhabitants, are very entertaining. We were particularly pleased with the testimony which he bears to the excellent conduct of the missionaries, though we lament that their efforts had not yet so far prevailed as to produce the discontinuance of the horrid practices of infanticide and human sacrifices. It is surprising, however, in the midst of customs so shocking to hunanity, that the temper of the Otaheiteąns is mild and amiable, and that they are absolutely incapable of malice, though engaged in perpetual

There unhappily prevails among them a general depravity of principle, a shameless infidelity to their engagements, and an indolence of disposition which nothing, not even their cupidity, seems capable of removing. Mr. Turnbull's peculiar opportunities gave him an insight into their character which no other European has enjoyed in a greater degree. And it is really mortifying to the humane bosoin to reflect upon the solemn and affecting import of one passage in Mr. Turubull's book, in which he states this melancholy truth

That upon a comparison of their present and former situation one inference is clear, that they have reaped no advantage from their intercourse with Europeans that the greater part of their characteristic simplicity has now vanished, and has given place to selfish cunning and low-minded artifice. Their communication with Botany Bay has been productive of the most bareful effects.”

The zeal of our missionaries are thus counteracted by an impulse derived from the same source.

We instruct them by our vices to offend that great Being whom we have taught them in some measure to know; and thus increase their risk in proportion to their responsibility.

wars.

1

1 .

The Sandwich islanders, through their intercourse with the north-west coast of America, have become tolerable proficients in the English tongue. They are extremely assiduous, and practise, or endeavour to imitate, all the callings of the Europeans. Their canoes are superior to any others that were witnessed by our traveller in any part of the world; and their skill in swimming is so great that we might almost be induced to suppose them an, amphibious race. The state of improvement in these islands is, indeed, very considerable, as will appear from the following extract of the missionary journal.

“ SANDWICH ÍSLANDS.-The missionaries at Otaheite were in-" formed, by the captain of a vessel which arrived there in August, 1806, that he had lately been at the Sandwich islands; of the prosperity of which he gave a pleasing account. There are two Europeans there, whose names are Davis and Young, who have resided in these islands for near fifteen years. These men are the king's confidents, and through their ability and fidelity have had the principal direction of his affairs. They have made great advances towards civilization. The king is not at all oppressive, as every man pays a regular tribute or tax out of his produce, &c. to the government; the rest he enjoys without any fear of being plundered by the king or chiefs. The king, it is said, has upwards of two thousand stand of arms.

He has built several vessels, and one of almost seventy tons. He has a fortification round his house, mounted with ten guns. He has also about two hundred disciplined native soldiers, who do regular duty night and day. He has upwards of one thousand two hundred dollars, and other valuable articles in proportion, deposited in store-houses, which he has collected from ships by regular trade. How happy should we be to add they have also the privilege of hearing and knowing the joyful sound of the gospel!"

Mr. Turnbull is very sanguine in his recommendations to the missionary society to give up the attempt of making converts at Otaheite, and to turn their attention to the Sandwich Islanders. He vindicates their character from the cruelty with which the unfortunate end of Captain Cooke had stained it, and adds, that that event is there to this day “ deeply and generally deplored."

“ In a conversation with Mr. Young respecting the melancholy fate of Captain Cooke, I asked him how the Sandwich islanders felt after the first transports of anger had abated respecting this great man.

His answer was, that as they at first considered him as immortal, according to some of their rude notions of a superior being, they most fully expected that he would, in some shape or other, re-appear amongst them; and that they retained this idea for some years. Afterwards, being given to understand that his sons were chiefs of high power in England, they conceived a great alarm lest one or other of them should return to the Sandwich Islands with a 1

large force, and wreak a merited vengeance on them by some terrible example."

We could not read without emotions of pleasure Mr. Turnbull's account of the efforts of these islanders in trade, and the building and management of ships. He pronounces them to be considerably advanced in the useful mechanical arts; and informs us that this rising little community entertain a confident hope of being, in the course of a few years, in a condition to open a trade with China in vessels of their own construction, and navigated by their own people. They are able to furnish fire-arms, gunpowder, hardware, and clothes of different kinds, to other infant nations within their reach; having already accumulated more of these articles than are consumed or wanted at home, and which articles they have found means to acquire in exchange for labour and refreshments supplied to the ships touching at their coast.

They possess also some articles of high price in the China market; such as pearls and sandal-wood.

Infant murder and other barbarous customs of the Otaheiteans are unknown among them; from which people they are also most advantageously distinguished by their eager curiosity, and thirst of improvement. · And Mr. Turnbull is of opiuion that the introduction of the system of Dr. Bell among them would, in all probability, be singularly successful.

The account of Tamahama, the king of the Sandwich Islands, of which Owhyhee, the scene of the unhappy fate of the excellent Captain Cooke, is the principal, is very interesting. · His power, after many vicissitudes, seemed to be firmly settled. * And,” says Mr. Turnbull," he is not only a great warrior and politician, but a very acute trader. He is well acquainted with weights and measures, and the value which all articles ought to bear in exchange with each other. He is inflexible in punishing all offences which seem to counteract his supreme command.” It appears also, from the same authority, that this chieftain has acquired an equal command over himself; for having felt in himself, and made others feel, the ill consequences of his addiction to liquor, he promised his European friends that, in future, he would not exceed a fixed and very moderate quantity; and to this engagement he has inviolably adhered; thus accomplishing that most difficult of all self-victories, the practice of continence, without abstinence. The knowledge of the English language, which has been long in progress in these islands, offers great facilities to European iutercourse with them, and great encouragement to measures for their moral and civil improvement.

There is no information given us of the Friendly Islands, other than that which we have before received from earlier travellers. Perhaps Mr. Turnbull's short stay at Goa (for he merely touched there) prevented him from examining more minutely the present condition of the inhabitants. They may be ranked much below the Sandwich, and on a par with the Otaheitean, islauders in point of civilization. In their wars they are extremely cruel, and are reported to give no quarter; a circumstance which may account for the apparent scantiness of the population.

In this short notice of Mr. Turnbull's voyage we have been governed less by the conviction that it was important to criticise the author, than to glean information from the plain, unsophisticated statements of the traveller. It is because, in our opinion, the work answers to this description that it is entitled to the public favour. It forms a pleasing contrast to the pompous and suspicious narratives of the French travellers, who have almost monopolized the manufacture of lying wonders : an article, however, in which their fabrics are too coarse to find a ready market out of their own country. To such productions we are glad to oppose the staple of Mr. Turnbull's-sober communications, and to give them the patronage of the British Review. We do not mean to credit him for any great skill or vigour in his manner of narrating, or to exempt him from the charge of occasional debility; but we do not hesitate to say that he generally expresses himself with propriety and simplicity; gives his opinions without affectation, and supports them with sense and spirit.

For our parts, we shall be happy if the small meed of approbation which we have thought it our duty to bestow on the work before us may contribute to repay its author in any degree for his labour and enterprize in collecting his materials, and his cost in preparing them for the public use.

ART. V.-The World before the Flood, a Poem, in ten Cantos,

with other occasional Pieces. By James Montgomery, Author of the Wanderer of Switzerland, the West Indies, &c. 1813.

When we first saw this volume announced under the title of the “World before the Flood," we recurred, as our readers probably will, to the only poet who has succeeded in filling up

« AnteriorContinuar »