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Tongn, Fijee, and Navigators' Islands.
Tonga or Friendly Islands discovered by Tasman-Visited by
Cook-Amiable Qualities of the Natives- Improved State of their Country-Conspiracy against Cook-La Perouse, Edwards, and D’Entrecasteaux-The Ship Duff arrives there in *1797–Missionaries landed - Intrigues of Connelly, Ambler, and Morgan-Generous Conduct of Moomooe-The Chiefs Finou and Mytyle—The Duff leaves the Islands—Death and Funeral of Moomooe—Toogahowe protects the PreachersAmbler and Morgan-Details relative to Inhabitants-Warlike Habits derived from the Fijees—Civil War, Toogahowe murdered— Character of Toobo Nuha, and of Finou his Brother-Speech of Young Finou-Attack made upon Missionaries—Error as to the Number killed-Friendly Islands visited by Williams, Declaration of Finou—Wesleyan Missionaries had already begun their Labours-Arrangement with those of the London Society-Fijees a distinct Race from the Friendly Islanders-Christianity introduced-Cannibalism-A native Feast-Navigators' Islands discovered by Bougainville-Visited by La Perouse, and by KotzebueIncidents mentioned by the latter—These Islands extremely important-Exertions of the Chief Fauea—Progress of the Missionaries—Conduct of Malietoa-Motives of Conversion -Number of professed Christians-Beneficial Effects of the Gospel.
It must be considered entirely as a matter of convenience on what principle the numerous islands in this part of the South Sea shall be distributed; for, except the date of discovery, there is no particular in which one cluster can be said to differ from another. The Tonga, the Fijee, and the Navigators', for example, are so closely
associated in regard to position and physical character, that it seems impossible to assign any other reason why they should not all be considered as one group, than that they have been variously named by successive visiters.
Following the usual arrangement of geographers, we shall begin with the Friendly Islands, the principal members of which, it is well known, were discovered by Tasman, a Dutch seaman, in the year 1643, and afterwards more minutely examined by Captain Cook. In the eyes of both these distinguished voyagers the inhabitants of Tongataboo appeared extremely amiable and generous, whence originated the complimentary epithet applied by the Englishman to their country. The former, seeing no arms among them, was thereby induced to believe that the reign of peace must have been for ever undisturbed in those happy regions; an impression which a more minute acquaintance with their habits and the course of subsequent events have altogether removed. On grounds equally fallacious, Tasman concluded that, being ignorant of all religion, they were strangers to the practice of worship in any one of its forms. He saw no temples, no idols, no priests; but observed that they had a devout veneration for the serpent-brood. One of them took up a water-snake, and with great reverence put it upon his head, and afterwards replaced it in the sea. They seem, indeed, to have carried their respect for life so far as not to kill even a fly, though these insects were exceedingly numerous, proving an actual plague to the island. It is stated that the natives had made considerable progress in agriculture ; that the ground was divided into portions of a regular shape, where fields and gardens were neatly laid out; and that the latter were filled with plants and trees, which, besides being pleasing to the eye, diffused a delightful odour.*
* Tasman's Voyage is described in Dalrymple’s Historical Collection of Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean, vol. ii
. p. 63. His relation is derived from the work of Vallentyn, who is supposed to have had access to Tasman's original Journal.
After the long interval of one hundred and thirty years, Tongataboo was visited by Cook, who, as he could profit little by the labours of his predecessor, may be said to have discovered it. During this period the inhabitants had divested themselves of the peculiarities ascribed to them by the Dutchman, for they were found in possession at once of arms and of idols. Our countryman relates, that almost immediately after he landed, he was conducted along a lane which led to an open green, on one side of which was a house of worship, built on a mount that had been raised by the hand of man, about sixteen or eighteen feet above the common level. It had an oblong figure, and was enclosed by a wall or parapet of stone about three feet in height, from which wall the mount rose with a gentle slope, and was covered with a green turf. On the top of it stood the house, which had the same figure as the tumulus, and was about twenty feet in length, and fourteen or sixteen broad. The floor was laid with fine gravel ; except in the middle, where there was a parallelogram of blue pebbles raised about six inches above the surface. In a corner stood an image rudely carved in wood, and on one side lay an
each about two feet long. The ceremonies which were performed by persons clothed with the attributes of priests, ought to have left no doubt on the mind of the navigator that the figures which he saw were meant to represent the powers of invisible beings; but observing that they were handled with little respect by those who frequented the house which their presence was meant to sanctify, he remained undecided as to the real purpose of these carved logs.
Leaving this consecrated place, Cook was conducted into the country on a road sixteen feet in width, and as level as a bowling-green, enclosed with neat fences made of reeds, and shaded from the scorching sun by fruittrees. He felt as if transported into the most fertile
The island called by the natives Tongataboo, or Sacred Tonga, was by Tasman denominated Amsterdam. See also Burney's Historical Discoveries, vol. iii. p. 84.
plains of Europe. There was not an inch of waste ground; the paths occupied no more space than was absolutely necessary; the fences did not take up above four inches each; and even this was not wholly lost, for in many were planted some useful trees or plants. It was every where the same ; change of place altered not the scene. Nature, assisted by a little art, nowhere appears in more splendour than at this isle. Here were found the richest productions of the Southern Pacific, bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, plantains, bananas, shaddocks, yams, sugar-cane, and a fruit like a nectarine. Tongataboo, in short, enjoys most of the commodities which can be procured at the Society Islands, and many which these have not.*
In the year 1777, Cook again visited the Friendly Islands, and conferred upon the inhabitants several benefactions which their intentions towards him did not in any degree merit. In fact, they had deliberately planned a conspiracy against him, which would infallibly have been put in execution, if the chiefs had not quarrelled about the exact mode of making the assault. It was proposed to invite the adventurer and his officers to a dance by torch-light, and, upon a given signal, to massacre him, together with all his company and soldiers. But the principal leader objected to this plan, as the darkness of the night would be unfavourable to their operations in taking the two vessels, and proposed rather that it should be done by day, on the occasion of a grand entertainment which was shortly to be given to the navigator in honour of his arrival. It was farther arranged, that those of his men who would naturally come in search of him, being conducted to the farther part of the island, under pretence that he was there, should be destroyed in like manner. The two ships, thus weakened by the diminution of their crews, might, they thought, be easily taken, and a large accession thereby made to the power of the ruling faction. The banquet was accordingly pre
Voyage towards the South Pole, vol. i. p. 201-213.
pared, and Captain Cook, with several of his subalterns, was present. But a difference of opinion again arising as to the most suitable moment for perpetrating the murder, the king gave orders that it should not be attempted. The amusements went on without interruption, and the visiters, who were much pleased with the liberality of their hosts, acknowledge that the festivities exceeded any they had hitherto received at the Friendly Islands.*
Between the period now under consideration and the arrival of the Duff, the Tonga group appears to have been visited by La Perouse, who merely touched on the coast; by Captain Edwards of the Pandora, when in search of the mutineers; and by D’Entrecasteaux, who anchored at the principal island in the spring of 1793. Tongataboo was considered by the Directors of the Missionary Society as a desirable station for their benevolent labours, chiefly on account of its connexion with the numerous clusters in the neighbourhood, most of which acknowledge it as the seat of government, and as invested with a certain species of supreme power. It was observed, besides, as a ground of preference, that the islets of which the sovereignty is composed stretch in the direction of north and south; a circumstance which, when viewed with reference to the trade-winds, was at once perceived to afford at all seasons a practicable communication from one to another. These reasons, combined with others of not less weight, gave birth to a resolution on the part of the leading missionaries to establish some of their brethren among a people whose mild dispositions were already celebrated throughout Europe, and whose mental endowments were pronounced to be of a higher order than those of any other Polynesians,
In April 1797, accordingly, the Duff, which had sailed from Otaheite, arrived on the coast of Tongataboo, where her decks were soon covered with crowds of natives, eager to dispose of their commodities. The articles offered
* Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, vol. i. p. 309-336.