« ForrigeFortsæt »
uniform presented to him from this country by Lord Byron, which his preceptor had forbidden him to use, under the impression that it might excite his vanity. The boys, following the example of their youthful sovereign, resumed their games, which had also been suppressed ; and the streets, occupied by happy children, wore a more cheerful aspect.*
But, though the teachers may have been unseasonably urgent, or even indiscreet, let it not be forgotten that the good they have effected, and the positive benefits they have conferred upon the natives, would compensate for more errors, if such they be, than have been any where laid to their charge. It is not indeed denied,
* Voyage to the Pacific, vol. ii. p. 103. The candour of Captain Beechey cannot be called in question, and we are satisfied that he relates exactly what he saw and heard, though the missionaries accuse him of yielding to a bias at once unfavourable to their interests and not quite consistent with facts. Mr Stewart, in his “ Visit to the South Seas,” gives a somewhat different account of the assembly convened for enacting laws: the design of which, we are told, was to publish the Ten Commandments, without any penal obligations, preparatory to the promulgation of specific statutes founded upon them. “ Some of the missionaries had been invited by the regents, Karaimoku and Kahumanu, to be present ; on information of which reaching the European residents, a party of leading individuals from their number violently and riotously interrupted the council, with such menaces and threats against the members of the mission, even to the taking of life, that the chiefs were utterly intimidated, and for the time relinquished their purpose.” We could have wished to see, on the part of Mr Stewart, a little more generosity than to allege that the residents, who have much at stake,“ wished the whole nation to remain lawless in points not affecting the interests of their own property or persons.”—P. 325.
We can discover, through the medium of events, that the missionaries owed 'no small portion of their influence to the good offices of Kahumanu, who had succeeded in dividing with Boki the power of the regency. This lady, who appeared to be a sincere convert, reflected on the christian teachers the rays of her favour, perceiving that their exertions were directed towards the support of the government which she administered in the name of her late husband's grandchild. Boki, who desired not her co-operation, was less esteemed among the ministers of religion; hence the origin of the jarring which disturbed the early years of this reign.
even by those who view their proceedings through the least favourable medium, that the cause of christian benevolence has gained a great triumph in the abolition of infanticide, human sacrifices, and more especially by the removal of that gross licentiousness which sometimes accompanied even the acts of worship. Much, no doubt, remains to be done before true religion shall completely supersede, by its refined morality, those vicious habits which were produced and encouraged by the ancient superstition: and yet in no part of the South Sea has the power of truth and civilisation been more strikingly manifested than in the larger islands of the Sandwich group. For a proof of this, the reader is referred to the works of Mr Stewart, who visited that portion of Polynesia at two different periods. In the days of Rihoriho, who occasionally sunk into the savage, he relates, that he “ found the king and the people about him in a state of great intoxication. None of our party, chiefs or people, were to be seen! At eleven o'clock, we repeated our visit, but all was riot and debauchery, and not meeting with any of our pupils, we quickly turned from so melancholy a scene of licentiousness and intoxication. At sunset we went again to the beach. The wild and heathenish sounds of the song and the dance were distinctly to be heard, long before we reached the place of our customary worship; and the tent of the king was still the centre of revelry. Never can we forget the appearance of Keopuolani. The countenance and manner of no christian mother could have manifested more real anguish of spirit in witnessing the dissipation of a beloved son. As we approached, her eyes filled with tears, and with a voice almost inarticulate from emotions ready to overpower her, she lifted her hand, and pointing to the scene of intemperance, exclaimed, O shameful! O shameful!' and throwing herself back with a convulsive sob, hid at once her face and her tears."*
The better sentiments inspired by the gospel did not
* Private Journal of the Rev. C. S. Stewart, p. 109.
much longer tolerate such disgraceful orgies. In the year 1827, his majesty and chiefs, in a general council, passed certain penal statutes against the crimes of murder, adultery, theft, gambling, drunkenness, and profanation of the Sabbath. Civilisation, too, appears to have kept pace with morality and the advancement of true godliness; a fact which is proved by the state of the population in Woahoo in the year 1829, compared with the manners and comforts of the several classes in 1825, when visited by the commanders of the Blonde and Blossom. In the royal residence especially, which even in the time of Lord Byron was thought elegant and respectable, the difference is described to be almost equal to the improvements which would have taken place in a century in other countries, and greater than that which now exists between the new and the old rooms in Windsor Castle. The floors are covered with beautiful carpets suited to the climate ; the large windows at either side of the room, and the folding-doors of glass at each end, are hung with draperies of crimson damask; the furniture consists of handsome pier-tables and large mirrors; and of a line of glass chandeliers suspended along the centre of the ceiling, with lustres and candelabra of bronze affixed to the pillars which line the sides of the apartment. The portraits of the late king and queen, painted in London, are placed at the upper end, in carved frames richly gilt.
In the same space of time, Tamehameha the Third had grown up into a fine stout young man of sixteen, as graceful, well-bred, and perfectly gentleman-like in his whole deportment as any lad of his age in the most polished circles of Europe. “ It was gratifying to mark the dignity and propriety of his demeanour; and still more so to learn that his private character was as unexceptionable as his public appearance is manly, and become ing the station he occupies.”
Nor was the great improvement here indicated confined to the court; it had extended more or less to all ranks of society. Upon visiting one of the ladies who had
been converted to the gospel, Mr Stewart remarks, that had he entered the rooms by accident, not knowing to whom they belonged, he would not have thought that he was in the residence of a native, but, from the finish of every part and the elegant furniture, in that of some foreign gentleman. “ The sitting-room is delightful ; the floor was beautifully carpeted with mats; while in the centre stood a rich couch of yellow damask, with armed chairs placed on either side. A native lounge or divan occupied the whole length of the apartment. A pier-table, covered with a rich cloth, a large mirror, and a portrait completed the furniture on the one hand. On the other, a curtain of handsome chintz, looped up a foot or two at the bottom, partially disclosed the boudoir of Madam Kekuanoa, a principal article of its furniture being an elegant writing-table, with papers and books in the language of the country. From this she appeared to have risen, as we entered the farther door. Her dress, manner, and whole deportment in receiving us, were those of a lady. A neatly bound copy of the Gospel of Luke in the Hawaiian version, the first I had seen, was found lying on the sofa, with a blank book in which she had been writing.”
This missionary, now chaplain of a ship of war, accompanied his friends on other visits, where every thing was found equally pleasing and interesting. “I know not, says he, “ when I have myself been more highly delighted, or more affectingly impressed with the changes which have taken place here, and are still rapidly going on. In a single circle now before me, I beheld five of the highest chiefs in the island-those whom I had myself known as naked, debauched heathen, not only addicted to vice, but glorying in their shame-respectably dressed ; demeaning themselves with all the propriety and courteousness of civilized society ; modest and decorous in all their actions ; pure and intelligent in their conversation; and surrounded in the furniture and accommodations of their dwellings, not merely by the comforts, but also by many of the elegances of an advanced stage of improvement; and this, most evidently, not for the exhibition of an hour, but in proof of their present ordinary mode of life. In view of the magnitude and extent of the change, I could not but inwardly exclaim, especially as I looked on Kahumanu, who for fifty-three years lived, and became hardened in all the grossness of paganism, a debauchee in private character, a terrific despot in her publicrule-surely, “the eyes of these have been opened, and they turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.' Scarcely any thing in the contrast, passing in my mind, struck me more forcibly than that connected with the appearance of the children. In place of being utterly unclothed, as would have been the case ten or even five years ago, left entirely to the management of a rude train of attendants, and screaming with terror at the approach or look of any civilized being, we beheld them neatly and elegantly clad, differing from children at home only in their colour, and receiving not only the fondness of their parents and relatives, but courting, by the cleanliness of their persons and every appearance, the caresses of the captain and myself.”*
* A Visit to the South Seas, during the Years 1829 and 1830. By C. S. Stewart, M. A. Edited by William Ellis. Lond. 1832. The captain here alluded to was the commander of the Vincennes frigate, who in a “ Retrospective View of the Sandwich Islands,” remarks “ the very advanced stage of the people in the points involving civilisation, religion, and learning, is so well established, so generally known and admitted, that I forbear to give statements of them equally minute with those I made respecting Noukahiva, Tahiti, and Raratea. Their civilities, letters of correspondence, and transactions of business with me, place them in a just light, and will enable our government to appreciate and judge them properly without my saying a word in their favour beyond the simple declaration that they are much in advance of the Society Islanders, cheeringly and agreeably enlightened, acquainted limitedly with their own interests, capable of extending them, and sensible of the value of character as a nation. Their indolence of habít, and amiability of disposition, mislead the judgment of persons who deny their pretensions to intelligence and capacity for selfmanagement or government. It is a most lamentable fact, that the dislike of the missionaries by the foreign residents has &