Billeder på siden

rude guess as to its interior form; but the object of the present work is chiefly to describe the inside of this structure, that the reader may see the form, dimensions, ornaments, and general merit of its various passages and apartments, to which the Tonga language is the master-key, and which is here offered to all whom accident or design may lead to the same spot, that they may make the same researches in much less time, and with much less hazard and difficulty, than it originally cost the first investigator: and it certainly must be considered some proof of the uprightness of Mr. Mariner's intentions, and his consciousness of the accuracy of his details, that he readily consents to put into the hands of others as easy a method as lies in his power of satisfying themselves as to the truth of what is told them.

There are other points of view, in which, I think, the importance of this subject may be seen: a knowledge of the language helps to throw a considerable light in the path of those who choose to investigate the origin of the people, or how far they may be related to other nations of the same immense ocean. In regard to the philologist, it will help his inquiries into the theory of human language generally; and in respect to the metaphysician, he will not be displeased if we offer to his notice the structure of a language which has advanced in its progress up to the present time, among a people who have no conception of any method of noting down their ideas, and yet pride themselves upon the uniform accuracy with which they speak and pronounce their language. There is, moreover, another class of readers, who will by, no means regret that this subject has been thus far investigated; I mean those who take a laudable pleasure in looking forward to the civilization and religious instruction of savage nations, to effect which in the most rational manner is certainly to speak to them in their own language *

* The king and several other chiefs at the Tonga islands appeared quite surprised when Mr, Mariner informed them

--and to construct a dictionary, and grammar of it, and teach them to read it, is to do more for them than themselves could effect in many centuries. Lastly, I must beg leave to observe that it is not every European, whom accident or design may station in those islands for a few years, that can learn their language with accuracy; for the idiom is so different from our civilized and more artificial forms of speech, that it must be chiefly young persons, with minds very susceptible of the impressions of spoken language, and of the gestures accompanying it, that can readily accomplish this object without the assistance of an interpreter :—and as Mr. Mariner had acquired this under circumstances peculiarly favourable, it appeared to me paramount to a duty to use those means that lay in my power to prevent

that the object of the missionaries had been to instruct them in the religion of the white people : they had thought that the latter came to live among them merely from choice, as liking the climate better than their own.



all that he had learnt in this respect from sinking for ever into oblivion.

As it is a matter of the highest importance that Mr. Mariner's qualifications as a narrator of what he had seen and heard should be known to the public, in order that a proper judgment may be formed of the degree of credit to be attached to the present volumes, I shall here give a short account of his education and of his habits, as far as they may bear more or less upon the subject in question.

His father, Mr. Magnus Mariner, who is still living *, was formerly the owner of a hired armed vessel, of which he was also the commander, and served in this capacity under Lord Cornwallis, in the American war. About that period, having sustained some severe losses in the American trade, he returned to England, married, and resided in London. He has had several children, the second of whom is William, the subject of our present memoir, * Resident at No. 14, Johnson Street, Commercial Road.

who was born at Highbury Place, Islington, September 10, 1791. At an early age his father sent him to Mr. Mitchel's Academy, at Ware, in Hertfordshire. After remaining there five or six years, with the exception of the vacations, he returned home at the age of thirteen, in consequence of the death of Mr. Mitchel. The advantage he had already derived from his education were considerable: besides the common acquisitions of reading, writing, and arithmetic, he had made inuch progress in his knowledge of history, geography, and the French language, and also some advance in the first rudiments of the Latin. His father being of opinion that his education was already sufficient for the line of life he meant him to pursue, i. e. the sea, resolved to keep him at home till something suitable and advantageous should offer. William, however, was not very anxious for a mere maritime life, and his mother being wholly averse to it, his father was at length dissuaded from his intention, and placed him in the office of

b 2

« ForrigeFortsæt »