« AnteriorContinuar »
can frigate Essex. Towards the end of the same month they entered the harbour of Rio de Janeiro, where our traveller, apprehensive of a mortification in his legs, got admitted into the Portugueze hospital De la Mesericordia. Here he remained six weeks, and was discharged uncured. Mr. Hill, the American Consul, gave him a jar of essence of spruce, which he brewed, and, with other trifling articles, sold to ships in the harbour : in this manner he saved as much money as enabled him to open a boarding-house for sailors. This, however, not succeeding, he set up a butcher's stall, and supplied the ships with fresh meat: a concern which promised better, when his house was broken into, his whole property in money and clothes stolen, and he again reduced to poverty. By the friendly aid, however, of a gentleman from Edinburgh, of the name of Lawrie, he was enabled to resume his business; but his health failing, and the sores of his legs remaining unhealed, he determined to return home; and, with this view, left Rio de Janeiro, after a stay of twenty-two months, in the brig Hazard, Captain Anderson, and arrived in the Clyde on the 21st April, 1812, after an absence of nearly six years. In Edinburgh the father of Mr. Lawrie presented him with a barrel organ, and he contrived to earn a miserable pittance by crawling about the streets of Edinburgh and Leith, grinding music, and selling a metrical history of his adventures. In process of time he learned to play on the violin, and found the sedentary employment of amusing the passengers of the Clyde steam-boat more suitable to his lamentable state, where, as before narrated, he was fortunately observed by the humane editor
volume before us. We have been thus prolix in detailing the adventures and sufferings of this poor sailor from a double motive; first, to endeavour to raise an interest in behalf of this unfortunate man, who is not only sensible of, but truly penitent for his offence of desertion from his Majesty's service, and breach of engagement with his employers; and secondly, to hold up, as an example* to our brave, but too frequently thoughtless' tars, the hardships to which they expose themselves, by yielding to the fallacious offers made to induce them to break their engagements, and following the wild and irregular schemes of the unprincipled masters of American vessels, who seem to feel a malignant pleasure in seizing every opportunity first to ill-treat and then to defraud British seamen.
Campbell's book, however, is by no means confined to a narrative of his personal sufferings and adventures; there is much curi
Could example teach, Campbell will not have lived in vain. His good conduct on board the Thames had already procured him the situation of sail-master's mate; and there can be no doubt, that if he had not deserted, he would now be in a state of permanent ease and comfort, instead of being condemned to hopeless years of suffering and distress.
ous information respecting that particular island of the Sandwich group, called Wahoo, on which he resided, and more especially concerning the king, l'amaahmaah. - This person, though endowed by nature with more feeling, more energy, and more steadiness of conduct, than savages in general possess, has not made that progress in civilization which would entitle him to be ranked, as Mr. Smith is inclined to rank him, among those remarkable characters, who, like Alfred or Peter the Great, seem destined to hasten the progress of civilization. He certainly bears a stronger resemblance, on a small scale, to Peter than to Alfred,—but the parallel,' after all, is not much in the manner of Plutarch; for he has done little if any thing, that we can find, to ameliorate the condition of his people. He has indeed kept them in better order, especially in their conduct towards strangers; and thus prevented the recurrence of those horrid murders which, till his reign, were so frequent as almost to deter navigators from communicating with those islands; but it is to be apprehended that the practice has been discontinued more from personal fear, than from any new feeling or principle of justice or humanity which he has awakened in their minds. Indeed we consider it as utterly vain to expect much moral improvement in any state of society, so long as the female part of it shall continue to be despised and degraded ; and it does not appear that the women of the Sandwich islands have gained a single step in the estimation of the men or lost any part of their grossness of behaviour, since they were first visited by Captain Cook. We find no abatement of that offensively conspicuous wantonness' which Captain Vancouver so feelingly deplores, and to which, he says, ' in the whole of the South Sea Islands visited by him, no indecency on the part of the women was to be compared. While Campbell was on the island of Wahoo, the king's brother died, on which occasion, as part of the general mourning, a public prostitution of the women took place. On the captain of a ship in the harbour remonstrating with the king on such disgraceful scenes, he observed, that such was their custom and that he could not prevent it.
No great hopes of advancement in civilization are to be expected, while society remains in this state. The earliest and perhaps the deepest impressions are made on a child's mind while under the immediate protection of its mother; and the mother of a Sandwich islander is in no condition to communicate one amiable or virtuous feeling to her offspring. We are told by Campbell, that the favourite queen, Tamina, generally availed herself of her husband's performing his religious duties in the Morai, to get drunk, and that two Aleutian women, who had been left on the island, were her chosen companions on these occasions. The women, however, are not doomed to that degree of drudgery which it is their lot to undergo in most savage states: they are fond of finery like most of the sex, fond of singing, dancing and amusement; and if less agreeable and insinuating than the Otaheitans, by no means yield to them in personal charms; their features are equally good, their skin, though somewhat darker, is clean, clear and healthy, and their shape is superior—they are good humoured, but, as it would seem, not very brilliant.
An Englishman, of the name of James Beattie, a quondam hero of the sock and buskin, but now his Majesty's block-maker, fitted up a theatre, and got up Oscar and Malvina, which, Campbell observes, was originally a pantomime, but Beattie “had words written for it. The part of Malvina was performed by the wife of Isaac Davies, another Englishman. As her knowledge of the English language extended not beyond the affirmative and negative monosyllables, her speeches were confined to yes and no; but she acted her part to admiration and gained great applause. The audience, he says, did not seem to understand the play well; but were highly delighted with the after-piece, which represented a naval engagement—the scene was a forest, which unluckily caught fire in the heat of the action and nearly consumed the theatre.
It is much to be lamented that the white people dwelling among them and who at one time amounted, by Campbell's account, to nearly sixty, should not be of a better description : ten or twelve of them were convicts from New South Wales, rescued from the punishment due to their crimes by the American traders, out of mere wantonness; others were English, who complained of having been landed and left there by the same people, in order to defraud them of their wages; and the remainder Americans left behind by accident, or design. Some of them, Campbell says, were sober and industrious, but the greater part idle and dissolute, getting drunk. whenever an opportunity offered. A convict from New South Wales, as before observed, first introduced distillation into the islands, and the ill consequences both to the natives.and the whites are incalculable; and yet if, as Campbell says, uva or kava is giving way to the use of ardent spirits, pernicious as are the effects of the latter, they are by no means so destructive to the health as the former. This liquor, the juice of a root of the pepper tribe (piper methysticum), chewed and spit into a large bowl, and then diluted with water, was the exclusive beverage of the king and the chiefs. Its baneful effects were most apparent—the bodies of those who swallowed it being covered with a white scurf, their eyes red and inflamed, their limbs emaciated, and their whole frame trembling and paralytic. Almost every chief has now his still, which consists of an iron pot surmounted by a number of calabashes, with the bottoms sawo off and the joints luted. The plant employed, the
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 a 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 tabboo, 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 most 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 theniselves whatever is not tabbooed. Captain Black, of the Raccoon, suffered hundreds 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 them, was that of a man who had violated the sanctity of the Morai by getting drunk and quitting it during tabboo time. He was car"ried back 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 themselves, who were the parents of the present race. Campbell neither saw nor heard of hunan 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 certain 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 which 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, bis 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 bas done to increase bis 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 bis 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, who 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 iuteresting 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 fipest climates under the sun, and with a TOL. XVI. NO. XXXL