« ForrigeFortsæt »
SECOND LONDON EDITION.
THE flattering reception with which the present work has already been honoured by a liberal public, and the appearance of a French translation of it at Paris, in November last, are convincing proofs of the interest, at least, which the subject has excited, Whilst preparing this second edition, it has been my good fortune to meet with an additional weight of testimony in favour of the facts related; and not to detain the reader with unnecessary matter, I shall at once lay open the source of this new proof of the strict fidelity of Mr. Mariner's representations, Jeremiah Higgins, a young man belonging to the crew of the Port au Prince,* made his escape from the Tonga Islands about thirteen months before Mr. Mariner, that is to say, after a residence there of two years and eleven months. Being very young, he was one of the first who acquired a tolerable knowledge of the language; he practised
* He served on board this vessel in the capacity of what is technically termed a landsmau, and was then about fifteen or sixteen years of age.
their dances, and learned their songs; and although he had not the advantage of those better opportunities which fell in Mr. Mariner's way, and consequently is not so intimately acquainted, in certain points of view, with the political sentiments, and moral notions and habits especially of the higher classes of the natives, which the superior education of the iatter, as well as his relative condition among the Tonga chiefs, rendered bim more apt to acquire; -still, the information obtained from Higgins must undoubtedly be considered valuable, if only regarded as generally corroborative, and in a few instances somewhat corrective of Mr. Mariner's statements.
For three or four years (until December last) Jeremiah resided with his father, an old inhabitant of the town of Aylesbury, a man well known, and much respected; and in the employ of many farmers in the county as a hay-binder. Some time after the publication of the first edition of the present work, a copy was sent to Jeremiah, with a request, that he would particularly remark and make a memorandum of whatever he conceived not to be correctly stated. In the month of November last, Mr. Higgins, the father, happening to be in town upon some business, called to inform me, that his son had been exceedingly pleased with the perusal of the work, particularly as it served to corroborate many things which he had previously related to his friends and neighbours, and to which he had reason to think they did not always give the credit that was due ; insomuch that he began to be heartily tired of answering their numerous inquiries. Among those to whom he had given the most information prior to the publication of the work, was Mr. T. Woodman, a very respectable and intelligent farmer, residing at Stone, near Aylesbury. As this gentlemen had also read the book, I wrote to him to request the favour of his sentiments, with regard to the two unconnected sources of information, which had fallen in his way. From the answer which he obligingly sent me, dated Stone, 4th December, 1817, I beg leave to
extract the following paragraph, as bearing immediately upon the subject.
"I most certainly have many times, before your publication ap peared in the world, asked Jeremiah Higgins many questions respecting the inhabitants of the Tonga islands; but as he is a young man of a reserved disposition, the communications he made were always desultory, unconnected, and confined. Yet I cannot have the least doubt, or the least hesitation in saying, that in the accounts he gave, he spoke of the very same people, and of the very same incidents, which are related by Mr. Mariner, in the work you have recently published. He spoke to me of the capture of the vessel he sailed in; of the siege and reduction of the Tonga great fortress : of the effects of the great guns : of the panic and consternation thence produced : of their religious and political convocations, &c. &c., which are events so exactly detailed and pourtrayed in the work you have given, that I find not the least difference between the one and the other, save that the accounts given by Mr. Mariher are more amplified, and better arranged in bearing reference to the religious and political proceedings relating to their society."
That no source of information or of satisfactory proof might be left untried, I engaged Jeremiah Higgins to come up to town, and now it was, for the first time, that he and Mr. Mariner met, since their separation at the Tonga islands. He remained with me till the latter end of December, and I had abundant reason to be satisfied with the accordance between his several statements, extracted rom him by various questions, and those which I had formerly received from Mr. Mariner. When they spoke the Tonga language together, I noticed the similarity of their pronunciation and accent: when Higgins sang and exhibited some Tonga dances in presence of several of my friends, whilst Mr. Mariner also sang and beat time according to the native method,* we were struck with
* To give greater effect to the scene, Mr. Mariner was dressed as represented in the frontispiece, and Higgins's only apparel was a sort of circular
executed, far surpasses the expectation
the accuracy of the description of these amusements in the “ voyages of Captain Cook.” But to be brief, however satisfied I have hitherto been with Mr. Mariner's details, I issue this second edition with a twofold confidence, for now I can assure the candid reader that, endeavouring to divest my mind of all prejudices, I have carefully and assiduously questioned Jeremiah Higgins, at various times, with regard to the events at the Tonga islands while he was there, and the manners and customs of the people, and have always found bis answers (though for obvious reasons somewhat more confined) yet so consonant and agreeable, as far as they went, with Mr. Mariner's accounts, that I feel quite certain of the truth of the great outlines of the matter contained in the following sheets, and the highest degree of confidence in all the details. Such is the additional testimony which the present work has obtained, and I flatter myself that I have used all the means within my reach to render it if possible, worthy of the honour which public approbation has already bestowed upon it.
A complete account of all the different tribes inhabiting the islands of the Pacific Ocean would no doubt form a most interesting portion of human history, and supply, in a great measure, the history of the earlier ages of mankind, so much obscured as they are by romance and fabulous traditions. The infancy of human society in our times probably differs not much, except in local circumstances, from that which existed four thousand years ago :-by a apron, made of loose strips of matting very thickly set, and at the top plaited so as to form a band round the lower waist, (the pelvis) from which the strips bung down nearly to the knees: this was to represent the apron of the leaves of the chi tree, used by the natives on such occasions. He had also a wreath of artificial flowers round the head, and another round the neck. He is beautifully tattowed from the hips nearly to the knees, agreeably to the custom of the Tonga people, Upon them it appears of a black colour, but upon a white man it causes the skin to resemble soft blue satin. The neatness, and I might almost say, the mathematical precision with which the pattern iş
of all who see it for the first time.
scrupulous and attentive examination of the present, therefore, we may be able to form some tolerable judgment of the past. And this is not, I apprehend, a matter of idle curiosity or of useless knowledge, as some have the presumption to cry out ;--for all that regards man, whether it be good or evil, is highly interesting to man ;--the good, that we may either adopt or improve ;-the evil, that we may either avoid or remedy :-and as the history of the human individual cannot be perfectly understood, without examining him in his infancy,50 a true knowledge of the species in a state of society is not to be thoroughly and easily acquired, without a suitable investigation into the incipient stages of the social compact; for there it is that the passions of man are more openly and strongly developed, -his imaginations and prejudices less concealed by artificial coverings--and his actions, generally speaking, under much less restraint. Moreover, as the education of children ought, in one point of view, to be chiefly founded upon a knowledge of their notions and habits, so ought all attempts at civilization (which is only another kind of education) to be built upon our acquaintance with the customs and modes of thinking of the people on whom we wish to superinduce new trains of habits and sentiments,
,-so that we may educate or lead them out of bad into better,--out of imperfection towards perfection. It is in morals much the same as in physics ; if we wish to alter the qualities of a substance, we must first examine what those qualities are, that we may see in what way they are best capable of being changed. It is true, by hard labour with the hammer, we may bend a piece of cold iron ; but observation and experience teach us, that at a high temperature this metal becomes so soft, that we can fashion it as we please.
With regard to the Society islands, where missionaries have so long established themselves, we have not yet an intimate, and what may be called a domestic history of the people ; this, I think, is much to be regretted : if it be not already too late, it will perbaps be so in a few years, when their native customs and notions will