Page images
PDF
EPUB

root of which varies from the size of a carrot to that of a man's thigh, Campbell calls the Tee-root, perhaps the arum macrorhizon. By remaining in a close pit covered with water twenty-four hours, it becomes as sweet as molasses; it is then bruised and left to ferment for five or six days, when it is ready for distillation, and yields à kind of rum.

We naturally expect to find savages more superstitious than the enlightened part of mankind; but that singular practice by which the priests, under the name of tubboo, have contrived to render sacred and inviolable whatever they chuse to appropriate to their own use, seems peculiar to the islanders of the Pacific. It is one of the niost extraordinary means ever devised to rob a people of their property, with their own approbation. When their houses are tabbooed, they dare not enter them; when their tarro or their hogs are tabbooed, they surrender them without a murmur: but in return, they think themselves fully at liberty to appropriate to themselves whatever is not tabbooed. Captain Black, of the Raccoon, suffered hurdreds of them to go into his cabin after he had declared it to be placed under tabboo, and not an article was touched; without this precaution, it is more than probable that not an article would have been left. To break tabboo is a capital crime; and the only legal execution seen by Campbell, during his stay among thein, was that of a man who had violated the sanctity of the Morai by getting drunk and quitting it during tabboo time. He was carried back to the Morai, where his eyes were put out: after he had remained in this state two days, he was strangled, and his body exposed before the image of Etooah, their principal deity, who, they believe, created the world, and afterwards destroyed it by an inundation that covered the whole earth except Mowna Roa, on the top of which one single pair saved theinselves, who were the parents of the present race. Campbell neither saw nor heard of buman sacrifices, (except on going to war,) but very frequently offerings of hogs were made to the idols in the Morai, in which the priests and the chiefs, after certaiu ceremonies, sat down and feasted.

The people, it would seem, are chiefly kept in order by the influence of superstition. If a robbery has been committed, the aggrieved party has only to apply to a priest, presenting him with a pig, and the criminal is almost certain of being detected. The priest sets about performing a long ridiculous ceremony, during wbich the thief generally makes his appearance, restores the property or its equivalent, and adds a handsome present, by way of penalty or expiation, to the priest. If, however, the unfortunate man should not appear during the ceremony, his fate is inevitable;

public proclamation is made through the island that the guilty person has been prayed to death; and such is the power of superstition that the culprit pines away and is soon discovered.

It is much to be regretted that a people, for whom nature has done so much, should have done so little for themselves. By all accounts they are capable of being moulded into any shape; and if Tamaahmaah would take as much pains to break the fetters of superstition, as he has done to increase his naval force, which is perfectly useless—to set the example in his own person, of treating the female part of society with more respect, and to convince his subjects of the immoral and disgusting practice of encouraging the prostitution of their women to strangers—he would then deserve the praise which we think has rather prematurely been given to him. For the regular habits of his life and his abstemiousness we are ready to allow him all due credit; but we see no merit in monopolizing the trade of the island, in hoarding up dollars, or in taking them by force from his subjects. We must not forget, however, that he was born among savages, and has had few opportunities of gaining instruction. The white people about him are of a description not well calculated to improve his morals or enlighten his understanding—besides, they have all that mean and selfish cunning inseparable from their condition. When Campbell made his loom, Davis advised him not to let any of the natives see him, because 'if they could weave cloth and supply themselves, ships would have no encouragement to call at the islands. He also advised him not to teach a brother of the queen, wbo very much wished it, to read, observing,' they will soon know more than ourselves.'

Little as we are disposed to attach value to the missionary labours, in general, for their progress in converting savages to the Christian religion, and least of all to those of the Evangelical or Methodist missionaries,—whose ignorance and absurd conduct and conversation make them, in fact, a laughing-stock even to the savages—we are fully persuaded that a sober-minded sensible clergyman of the Established Church, accompanied by his family, would be of infinite service to those interesting islanders—for so they are with all their vices: and we really cannot discover why the church of England should refrain from sending out its missionaries for the propagation of the Gospel, instead of contenting itself with looking on the feeble and, we fear, useless attempt to spread Christianity by a mere distribution of the Bible. Surely there might be found a few among the many hundred clergymen, of whose distresses we so frequently hear, who, independent of a sense of duty, or zeal for the propagation of the Gospel, would be most ready to transport themselves and their families into a country, which Providence has blessed with one of the finest climates under the sun, and with a VOL. XVI. NO. XXXI.

fertile

fertile soil, abounding in all the necessaries and many of the luxuries of life. Till something of this kind be done, the Sandwich islanders will, we suspect, advance but little in the arts and virtues of civilization: it may be feared indeed that, if left to themselves, they will relapse, on the death of their present sovereign, into their former state of intestine warfare and massacre.

If Christianity had no other advantage than that of placing women on a level with the other sex, the dissemination of it is well worth our best exertions. That alove, makes man mild and sociable to man.' Among those extensive and populous nations of the East, deprived of the light of its benevolent maxims, we look in vain for any kindliness of nature, any sympathy or fellow feeling for the sufferings of others; we find only masses of insulated beings, unconnected by any social tie, and actuated by motives purely seltish. The Chinese, who raunt themselves as the most wise and virtuous of mankind, and whose government and institutions are founded on maxims of filial piety and brotherly love, are lotally destitute of all social feeling; and the same is the case with the whole Mahomedan and Hindoo world. It would seem, indeed, that the light of the Gospel only can restore women to their true place in society, of which all other religions and superstitions have so unjustly and inbumanly deprived them. We have a beautiful illustration of the good effects which even the faintest glimmering of the Gospel truthis produce, in the interesting case of good old Adams, and his innocent and amiable young savages on Pitcairn's Island; among them we find no murders, no pilfering, no quarrelling, except now and then some trifling quarrels of the mouth, ' which are immediately adjusted by a reference to the patriarch; with them their daily prayer of 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us,' is not an empty jargon of words; as they pray, so they act.

The whole group of the Sandwich Islands consists of five principal and three small ones; of these, Owyhee contains about 6000

We have repeatedly been asked whether any thing has been done for this infant society? The answer rests not with us :-but convinced as we are of the difficulty and the delicacy of interfering, we cannot help repeating that the want of a few simple utensils for husbandry and household use under which they laboured, might be supplied, in such a manner, as not to disturb their present state of innocence. Their comforts too might be increased by the introduction of such domestic aniinals, fruits, grain and culinary vegetables as would afford then a palatable food; and of hemp, flax, or cotton, for their clothing. To preserve the happiness of this little society, and to guard them against intruders, we are not sure that the sending among them a Moravian missionary with his wife would not be the most effectuat means; the instruction and example of a good man might tend much to consolidate and perpetuate their happy state, and one of this description would unquestionably be the most useful kind of pastor that could be given to them. If something of this kind be not done, we greatly fear that the loss of Adams, who in the cominon course of humanity cannot survive many years, may be fatal to their innocence, and consequently to their happiness.

square

square miles; Mowee, 600; Morotoi, 300; Woahoo, 1800; Atooi, 1000; making, with the small islands, about 10,000 square miles ; possessing, according to a calculation of Captain king, made however from insufficient data, a population of 400,000 souls, of which wyhee contains about 150,000. From their position in the midst of the northern Pacific, they may truly be termed, (what, indeed, the editor of Marchand's voyage has called them,) the Grand Caravanserai for all vessels which traverse that sea, between the ports of Asia and America, to the northward of the Equator; and it is this which will one day make them a bone of contention among the great maritime and commercial powers. To us they belong of right by a double title, a voluntary and solemn cession to the King of Great Britain from the sovereign, by and with the consent of all the chiefs and priests convoked for the occasion; and by priority of discovery; the latter of which, however, we hold to be a very slender title to authorize the strong to dispossess the weak. Slender as it is, however, M. Fleurieu has thought fit, in his dulland ponderous narrative of Marchand's voyage, to dispute it, and, out of pure hatred to England, to assign the credit of the first discovery to Mendana, because this able navigator, on his retum voyage in 1568, passed at no great distance from Owybee; and because he finds the island of Mesa laid down in the 19th parallel on the obscure and unauthenticated chart of Galion de Manille.

The English however, with all their claim to the legitimate possession of the Sandwich islands, are the least likely to profit by them. Campbell says, but we think he is mistaken, that preparations were made by the Russians at Kodiak, to form a seitlement on them; that the Neva had a house in frame on board for that purpose; and that intimation was given to this effect in order to raise volunteers, but that none entered. Again, he says, on sailing along the shore of Owyhee, one Joseph Wynn, who called himself an American, but whose real name was Angus Maccallum, a Scotcbman, came off in a canoe, to whom he told the circumstance; but that on this reaching the Russian captain's ears, be received from him a severe reprimand, and was ordered to say no more on the subject in future. As the Russians have nearly exhausted the Aleutian islands of the most valuable furs, and are spreading themselves down the north-west coast of America as far as Nootka, it may easily be conceived that the possession of the Sandwich islands would ultimately prove a most valuable acquisition to them; but we do not believe that they formed any part of the object of Captain Krusenstern's expedition, or that the time is yet arrived to make a forcible possession of them either necessary or politic.

The Americans are the people who have hitherto derived tbe greatest benetit from the Sandwich islands, and we may add the

FO

least

years.

least deserving of it. These adventurers set out on the voyage with a few trinkets of very little value; in the southern Pacific they pick up some seal skins, and perhaps a few butts of oil; at the Gallipagos they lay in turtle of which they preserve the shells; at Valparaiso they raise a few dollars in exchange for European articles; at Nootka and other parts of the north-west coast they traffic with the natives for furs which, wben winter commences, they carry to the Sandwich islands to dry and preserve from vermin; here they leave their own people to take care of them, and in the spring embark in lieu the natives of the islands to assist in navigating to the north-west coast in search of more skins. The remainder of the cargo is then made up of sandal, which grows abundantly in the woods of Atooi and Owyliee, of tortoise shell, shark fins, and pearls of an inferior kind, all of which are acceptable in the China market, and with these and their dollars they purchase cargoes of tea, silks and nankeens, and thus complete their voyage in the course of two or three

It seems, however, that with all this intercourse, they have gained but litile ground in the good opinion of Tamaahmaah, and his chieftains; for when His Majesty's ship the Raccoou nade the island in the year 1813, wmder American colours the king would not trust himself on board till he had ascertained what she was, when he iminediately set off with his three wives; and declared to the captain, as he did a month afterwards to the captain of the Cherub, that he and his people were subjects of the King of Great Britain. He lamented very much that the Americans were the only people who came to trade with them, as from constant communication his subjects were apt to consider them as friends, notwithstanding the tricks which they played them—such as selling them muskets and pistols that burst at the first firing, mixing charcoal in the gunpowder, &c. The king added that one of these American traders had defrauded him of 15,000 dollars, srbich he owed bim for sandal wood.

"We are not of opinion, however, that we should altogether lose sight of these islands. They completely command the navigation of the northern Pacific, and all ships passing from India or China, to the western coast of America, or the contrary, must be at the mercy of the cruizers from the Sandwich islands. They have excellent hogs; yams of the finest kind; bread-fruit, plantains and cocoa-nuts in the greatest plenty; sweet potatoes of the best kind, and tarroo root (arum esculentuin) which may be considered as the staple of the islands, affording an excellent farinaceous food. The Cherub and Raccoon, two sloops of war, with each a complement of 120 men, were completely furnished at a moment's notice, with a three week's supply of fresh provisions; for which the king would receive no payment, but hoped (he said) that his master George III.

would

« PreviousContinue »