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Sandwich Islands discovered by Captain Cook–Visited by La
Perouse—Their geographical Position and Extent-Enterprise of the Chiefs—Seizure of an American Schooner-State in which Vancouver found the Natives—Rise of Tamehameha-He cedes to Vancouver the Sovereignty of the Islands -Trade with civilized Nations-Attempt made by Russians -Character of Tamehameha as a Reformer-Missionaries sent from America-Notice of Obookiah- The Way paved for Christianity by Rihoriho the young King-Taboo explained-Its Abolition-Supposed Motives of the Sovereign
- The People admit the Change-An Attempt to revive Idol. atry-Operations of the Missionaries, and Success-Religious Movement throughout the World-Chiefs devote themselves to the Study of Letters-King and Queen visit England, where they both die-Various Opinions as to the Effect of Christianity on the native Mind-Statements by Kotzebue, Lord Byron, and Captain Beechey-Funeral of the King and Queen-Laws recommended by Lord Byron-State of Society described-Great Good accomplished by MissionariesStewart's Journal—Vast Improvement in Manners and Accommodation-Palace, Guards, and Dress of the Court-Dedication of a Church-Progress of Luxury-Civilisation continues to advance-A “ religious Awakening ” in several Islands-Cautious Behaviour of a Missionary-Remarks on such Occurrences.
It is well known that these islands were discovered, on the 18th January 1778, by Captain Cook, who named them in honour of Earl Sandwich, at that time First Lord of the Admiralty. Eight years afterwards, they were visited by La Perouse, who landed at Mowee; and about the same period, two vessels, engaged in the fur-trade on the north-western shores of America, procured refreshments at Woahoo. Other merchantmen are understood to have followed from time to time the same track; and hence a frequent and rather confidential intercourse was established between foreigners from various parts of the civilized world and the simple natives, who now began to set some value on the productions of their soil.
The Sandwich Islands lie between the parallels of 18° 24' and 22° 15' north, extending in longitude from 154° 56' to 160° 23' west. Their number is usually limited to ten ; and the names by which, according to the latest orthography, they are known among the natives, are Hawaii (Owhyhee), Oahu, Maui, Tauai, Morokai, Ranai, Morokini, Nihau, Taura, and Tahurawe. They are distant about two thousand eight hundred miles from Mexico on the east, five thousand from the shores of China on the west, and two thousand seven hundred from the Society Islands on the south.*
Owhyhee, the most southern and largest of the whole, is about ninety-seven miles long, seventy-eight broad, and was supposed, when first discovered by the English, to contain eighty-five thousand inhabitants. Woahoo is forty-six miles in length, and twenty-three in breadth, with a population of about twenty thousand. Towee, situated seventy-five miles north-west from the latter, is somewhat smaller in dimensions, and is supposed to possess only ten thousand residents. Mowee is fortyeight miles long and thirty broad, its people being computed at twenty thousand. The others are of less importance; and Taura, in particular, is nothing more than a rocky islet, visited almost exclusively by those who seek a livelihood from gathering the eggs of seafowl which frequent it in great numbers.
* For the reasons already assigned, we retain the more ancient spelling as being familiar to the general reader, though perfectly satisfied that the letter o prefixed to Hawaii and Tahiti is no part of either word, but simply the mark of a case. The missionaries state, that the names of the several islands ought to be written and pronounced as follows:
Ha-wai-i Hah-wye-e Moro-kai Moro-kye
Before the year 1792, when the expedition under Vancouver touched at that interesting group, civilisation had advanced at a rapid pace. Several of the chiefs, availing themselves of the opportunity supplied by English and American ships, had made voyages to distant parts. One had gone to China ; others had sailed to the settlements near California ; and several had gratified their curiosity by a short residence in the United States. Enlightened by this experience, the people became so sensible of the advantages of a mercantile navy, that they made an attempt to take possession of some small vessels which had entered their harbours. Nay, they actually seized by force an American schooner, the crew of which they murdered, with the exception of Richard Davies, the mate, who happening to be on shore, found refuge with the King of Owhyhee, in whose service he afterwards remained.
The advantage of firearms to a people so frequently engaged in war did not fail to attract their attention, and several foreigners, accordingly, who looked only to a favourable exchange of commodities, furnished them with muskets and ammunition. A number of Europeans, too, who, from various motives, had quitted their ships, instructed the natives in the use of artillery, as well as in the more simple principles of fortification. Many of the chiefs, meanwhile, had erected houses of stone, adopted in part the European dress, and even ingrafted on their scanty vocabulary such English terms as were necessary to express their new ideas, or to give names to their recent acquisitions. Owing to these causes, when Vancouver arrived he found not only the means of an easy communication with the leading persons in the several islands, but also an ardent desire to
profit by his superior knowledge, and to secure the good will of the powerful nation to which he belonged.
At the time when Cook made known to the world the existence of the Sandwich group, the four principal isles were governed by as many independent kings, who, being frequently at war, committed great havock on each other's domains. But, about the year 1782, Tamehameha, originally a chief of inferior rank, and possessing only two small districts in Owhyhee, rose against his lawful prince, who appears to have been a cousin or even a nearer relative, and at length, by his superior talents, acquired possession of the whole cluster. The origin of the war is involved in some mystery. Kavarao, the chief ruler, is described as a tyrant, whereas his rival, who had shown an enterprising spirit from his earliest youth, possessed
very popular manners, and thereby acquired great influence over the public mind. A sanguinary engagement took place, near the bay where Captain Cook was murdered, which ended in the death of the king, and the captivity of his daughter Keopuolani, who had attended her father to the field. In order to unite the right of succession to that of conquest, the victor married his prisoner, and by this means obviated a powerful competition for the throne, which must otherwise have arisen to disturb his government. At the same time, he received into favour a young commander who had belonged to the vanquished party, and who, under the name of Karaimoku, displayed such abilities, both as a councillor and warrior, as amply to justify the confidence bestowed upon him by his royal patron.
In 1792, the war was not yet brought to a close, for though the whole of Owhyhee and Mowee acknowledged the authority of Tamehameha, the remainder of the islands were still governed by the independent kings of Towee and Woahoo. Owing to a destructive pestilence which had carried its ravages over the whole archipelago, an armistice was mutually accepted ; and it was at this crisis that Vancouver, on board the Discovery, made
his appearance in those seas. Both classes of belligerents courted the aid of the English officer, whose interposition, they were aware, would decide the contest in favour of the cause which he should choose to embrace. But he firmly declined to interfere in a civil war, the result of which he knew must be closely connected with the future fortunes of the country, and resolutely refused to supply to either side the arms that they both most earnestly solicited. He conferred upon them, however, a much greater boon, in a breed of cattle and of sheep, which Tamehameha immediately declared should be tabooed, or held sacred, for ten years; and the climate being favourable to these animals, the country is now well stocked with both, so that ships, in addition to fresh vegetables, are supplied with excellent beef. The foreigners resident in Owhyhee had also introduced the culture of many fruits and esculent plants; while, by the care that they bestowed on the goats which had been left on their island by successive navigators, they gradually made the natives acquainted with the luxuries of the dairy, and with a variety of meat more delicate than they had hitherto known.
But Tamehameha had sufficient penetration to perceive that, in proportion as his insular dominions should become important in the eyes of Europeans, the independence of his government would be exposed to greater hazard. It was already suspected that the Americans, as well as the Russians, were desirous to form settlements on one or other of the islands; and therefore he resolved to place himself under the protection of a powerful nation, which, from its ascendency as a maritime state, would defeat the designs of others. It was in pursuance of this policy that he ceded to Vancouver, as the representative of the English monarch, a supremacy which he had not yet completely established in his own right. In return, our countryman assisted the aspiring rebel to build a small vessel, which proved of essential service to him in his future expeditions, so that, in the course of a few months, by the death of the King of