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with a description of the most important religious ceremonies, and a vocabulary of about four or five hundred Tonga words. These materials excited in me a still deeper interest; for, though inadequate to the end in view, they convinced me of Mr Mariner's ability to furnish tenfold more; they were mere sketches and outlines, but they constituted the bearings of a most interesting and instructive history of uncivilized life, unlike any thing I had yet seen, and superior even to any hopes I had entertained.
After mutual deliberation on the best means of doing justice to the subject, that nothing important might be omitted, nor any thing doubtful inserted, without expressing the authority or inference under which it stood, it was ultimately determined, that I should undertake the composition and arrangement of the intended work, while Mr Mariner should direct his attention to the materials ; noting down all that he had seen and beard, as such occurred to his mind. These materials were afterwards made subjects of conversation and strict scrutiny; and not one of the ensuing pages has been written without his presence and approval. In this way, it is presumed more useful and interesting matter has been elicited, than would have occurred to Mr Mariner through the medium of his own unassisted reflections, for conversa
tion recalls many things that would otherwise have escaped the memory. It constantly demands elucidations ;-one idea gives birth to another, until the whole subject lies unfolded to the mind.
The specimens of Tonga music, contained in the second volume, I owe to the condescension and kindness of my late intelligent and lamented friend the Reverend George Greenway of Finsbury Circus, who did me the favour to note them down from Mr Mariner's voice ; and it now only remains, that I should inform the reader how I have been induced and enabled to construct the grammar and vocabulary of upwards of two thousand genuine Tonga words, which are appended to these volumes. One object which I had in view in constructing the grammar was to satisfy my curiosity, by ascertaining what sort of rules and idioms were preserved in a language spoken by a people, who have no notion of grammatical laws, and who have no other conception of the art of writing than as a species of witchcraft, but who take a pride, at least the higher classes, in speaking their language with a sort of aristocratic propriety. I conceived also, that such an investigation would be acceptable both to the philologist and the philosopher ;-to the former as regards the peculiarities of human language to the latter as respects the phenomena of the human mind. The result did not disappoint
I discovered some interesting coincidences, and several peculiarities worthy of notice. Like Hebrew and Greek, the Tonga dialect has a dual number. It has a peculiar pronoun belonging to the first person plural, excluding the person spoken to; a peculiar plural for intelligent beings; three words expressing the action of giving, accordingly as it may regard respectively the first, second, or third person to whom any thing is given; and many other points highly curious. The plan which I adopted to discover and assign the rules of this heretofore unwritten language, was this :After Mr Mariner had carefully selected from an English dictionary all the words to which he could find appropriate Tonga phrases, and after having assiduously attended to the elementary sounds of the language and their articulations from Mr Mariner's pronunciation, and upon this basis determined upon a system of orthography, I undertook the charge of arranging all the Tonga words alphabetically, according to the system of spelling previously adopted. In the mean time, Mr Mariner recalling to his mind sundry dialogues, popular tales, speeches, and songs, wrote them down in the Tonga original, upon which I exercised myself, with his assistance and that of the vocabulary, in making literal translations ; thereby learning the idiom and at the same time furnishing the voca
bulary with additional words. I also collected examples of the various turns of phrase in English, and of all the parts of speech, for Mr Mariner to translate into the true Tonga idiom. Thus we ascertained what could be readily translated, what not; where the language was ample in expression, where poor ;
what was definite, and what vague ; where there were rules, and where anomalies. By gradual but diligent procedure, the character and genius of the language were unfolded, and we soon arrived at the theoretical knowledge of its structure. In prosecuting this subject, I was gratifed with the frequent proofs given me of Mr Mariner’s great accuracy and the retentiveness of his memory, in the many translations and retranslations which were necessary for my purpose ; especially in regard to a speech of Finow, the king, on first coming into power, which I had lost for a time, and of which he furnished me with another manuscript : when the first was found, on comparing them together they were almost verbatim.
Every attempt to afford accurate information respecting the manners, customs, and sentiments of any portion of the human species, cannot but be considered, in these enlightened days, at least a praiseworthy undertaking ; but to bestow much time and pains upon an investigation of the prin
ciples of a barbarous language, like the one in question, will, no doubt, in the eyes of many, appear more curious than useful; and how far such a view of the subject may be correct, every reader will judge for himself. To me it appears almost as great a deficiency in the history of a nation to overlook the structure of its language, as to neglect any portion of its moral or political character. I may here take occasion to observe, that there is another class of readers, who, it is presumed, will not 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 ;* and to construct a dictionary and grammar of it, and teach them to read it, is to do more for them than they themselves could effect in many centuries. Lastly, as Mr Mariner, under circumstances pecuļiarly favourable, had acquired a familiar and perfectly correct knowledge of their language, it appeared to me paramount to a duty to use those means that lay in my power to prevent all that he
* The king and several other chiefs at the Tonga islands appeared quite surprised when Mr Mariner informed them 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.