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arrangements being committed to Sir Joseph Banks, nothing was left undone which seemed necessary to secure ultimate success. We now allude to the Bounty, commanded by Lieutenant Bligh, whose name is so closely connected with the unhappy mutiny which ensued ; the sufferings of that portion of the crew who remained faithful to him ; with the melancholy fate of several of the officers; and the occupation of Pitcairn Island by some of the deserters. At the close of 1787, this vessel sailed from Portsmouth, and on the 25th October, in the following year, arrived at Otaheite. The chief ruler of the district, named Otoo, immediately on hearing that an English ship had entered his port, sent a pig and a young plantain tree as a token of friendship. The sailors also were plentifully supplied with provisions. Indeed, the commander relates, that the longer he and his people remained on the island, the more they had occasion to be pleased with the conduct of the inhabitants. In every house they entered, they experienced a kind reception from the simple inmates, who, we are told, had the most perfect easiness of manner, equally free from forwardness and formality, displaying a sincerity and candour which were quite delightful. When, for instance, refreshments were presented, if they were not accepted, they did not think of offering them a second time, not having the least idea of that ceremonious kind of refusal which expects a renewed or more earnest invitation. On one occasion the Bounty had nearly gone on shore in a tremendous gale of wind, and on a similar occurrence did actually get aground; after both which accidents the kind-hearted people crowded round the captain to congratulate him on her escape, being affected in the most lively manner while the danger lasted.
Mr Bligh alludes to a singular custom in the burial of the dead, which, if not borrowed from European navigators, cannot fail to suggest important reflections. On the 9th December 1788, the surgeon died from the combined effects of intemperance and indolence. The lieutenant obtained permission to inter him on shore ; and on going with the chief, now named Tinah, to the spot selected for the solemn duty, he found the natives had already begun to dig the grave. " Tinah asked if they were doing it right; there,” said he, “ the sun rises and there it sets." Whether the idea of making the grave east and west is their own, or whether they had learned it from the Spaniards, who buried the captain of their ship on the island in 1774, there were no means of ascertaining ; but it was clearly made out that they received no intimation to that effect from any one on board the Bounty. When the funeral took place, the chiefs and several of the natives attended the ceremony, and showed much seriousness during the service. Many of the principal inhabitants presented themselves at divine worship on Sundays, and behaved with great decency. Some of the women at one time betrayed an inclination to laugh at the general responses ; but a single look of disapprobation was sufficient to revive their gravity and decorum.*
After a stay of six months at Otaheite Mr Bligh made preparations to depart, having on board all the plants supplied by the sovereign of the island, “ being in seven hundred and seventy-four pots, thirty-nine tubs, and twenty-four boxes.” The number of bread-fruit plants were one thousand and fifteen; besides which they had collected others : the avee, which is one of the finestflavoured fruits in the world ; the ayyah, which is a fruit not so rich but of a fine flavour and very refreshing; the rattah, not much unlike a chestnut, which grows on a large tree in great quantities; and the orai-ab, which is a very superior kind of plantain. “ For twentythree weeks,” he observes, “ we had been treated with the utmost affection and regard, and which seemed to increase in proportion to our stay. That we were not insensible to their kindness, the events which followed
* Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H. M. S. Bounty ; its Cause and Consequences (12mo, Lond. 1831), pp. 55, 56.
more than sufficiently prove; for to the friendly and endearing behaviour of these people may be ascribed the motives for that event which effected the ruin of an expedition that there was every reason to hope would have been completed in the most fortunate manner.” The catastrophe here alluded to will invite the attention of the reader in a subsequent part of this volume.
At an earlier period than that now under our consideration, the principal islands in the Georgian group were visited by certain Spanish ships, sent from Peru to make discoveries in the Pacific. In 1772, two natives of Otaheite consented to accompany the navigators to America, where they were baptized; and the second season afterwards they were allowed to return home attended by two missionaries belonging to the Church of Rome. For the accommodation of these visiters a wooden house was erected near the shore in Oheitepeha Bay. But the Spaniards wished to gratify their love of dominion as well as to extend the empire of the true faith. Before the ships departed the commander called a meeting of the chiefs who had taken the priests under their protection, described to them the grandeur of his sovereign, and informed them of his right to all their islands. The natives, it is added, manifested much complaisance, and by acclamation acknowledged the King of Spain owner of Otaheite, as well as of the whole cluster of which it is the most important member. Whereupon he informed them that if they preserved their fidelity and fulfilled their promises, they should be frequently visited by his ships. In 1775, they made sail for Peru, carrying again two of the inhabitants with them; and after the lapse of ten months the missionaries themselves embraced an opportunity of returning to European society in the government of Lima. When Captain Cook, in 1777, paid a visit to Taiarapoo, he saw the dwelling which they had abandoned. It consisted of two rooms; loop-holes were cut all around, which seemed to serve the double purpose of admitting air and promoting defence. A wooden cross with suitable inscriptions denoted that christian ministers had favoured the island with their presence ; that the gospel in their persons had gained a triumph over idolatry; and that their monarch, Charles the Third, continued to exercise his power on all the shores washed by the Pacific. At their departure they left the more valuable boon of hogs and goats, which added a little variety to the simple fare of the inhabitants ; but no evidence remains that the priests ever held a free intercourse with those whom they had intended to convert, or produced any lasting impression either on their belief or their morals.*
Captain Cook maintains that the Spaniards did not succeed in making one convert. It does not appear, he adds, that they ever attempted it; for, if the natives are to be believed, they never conversed with them on the subject of religion or any other. Before they went away they gave an assurance to Otoo that they meant to return, and to bring with them houses, all kinds of animals, as well as numerous men and women, who were to settle in the island. The unsuspecting monarch seemed pleased with the idea of such an accession to his subjects; “ little thinking,” says the navigator, “ that the completion of it would at once deprive him of his kingdom, and the people of their liberties. This shows with what facility a settlement might be made at Otaheite ; which, grateful as I am for repeated good offices, I hope will never happen. Our occasional visits may in some respects have benefited its inhabitants; but a permanent establishment amongst them, conducted as most European establishments amongst Indians have unfortunately been, would, I fear, give them just cause to lament that
* Burney's Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean (5 vols 4to, Lond. 1803-1817), vol. iv. p. 570. Captain Cook (Voyage to the Pacific, vol. ii. p. 75) mentions that the hogs are of a large kind ; have greatly improved the breed originally found by us upon the island ; and at the time of our arrival were very numerous. Goats are also in tolerable plenty, there being hardly a chief of any note who has not got some.”
our ships had ever found them out. Indeed, it is very unlikely that any measure of this kind should ever be seriously thought of, as it can neither serve the purposes of public ambition nor of private avarice; and without such inducements I may pronounce that it will never be undertaken."*
We have made this quotation from the work of the great navigator, on account of the remark contained in the last sentence;—that without the stimulants of public ambition or private gain, no establishment would ever be attempted among the islanders of the South Sea. The accounts received in England of an interesting people living in a secluded situation in that remote part of the world, gave birth in due time to a sentiment more powerful than either ambition or avarice, the desire, namely, to extend to them the blessings of religion and moral improvement. So early as the year 1791, when Captain Bligh made a second voyage in a ship called the Providence, he was accompanied by several individuals who undertook to discharge the office of missionaries. But, owing to a defect in the zeal or qualifications of these persons, their labours were unattended with success : and it was not till four years later that a plan, constructed on better principles, was confided to men whose minds were more fitly attuned to the spirit of the important enterprise in which they engaged.
That pious, though rather eccentric person, Selina, countess of Huntingdon, contributed not a little to the generous efforts, which marked the close of the eighteenth century, in favour of the gentle savages of the Pacific, whose manners had fascinated the rough seamen by whom they were successively visited. Actuated by a strong desire that a knowledge of the christian religion should be conveyed to them, she is said on her deathbed to have exacted from a clergyman, who had cooperated with her in other schemes of benevolence, &
* Cook’s Voyage to the Pacific (3 vols 4to, Lond. 1785), vol. ii. p. 77.