Billeder på siden

coveries in 1768, and to Cook, whose investigations in 1774 have rendered them familiar to every reader. Of the inhabitants of Mallicollo, the great navigator does not speak highly. He calls them an “ape-like nation ;” and farther remarks, that they are the most ugly, ill-proportioned people he ever saw, being in every respect different from any he had observed in the Pacific. They are indeed a very dark coloured and rather diminutive race, with long heads, flat countenances, and monkey features. Their hair, mostly black or brown, is short and curly, but not quite so soft and woolly as that of a negro. Their beards are very strong, crisp, and bushy, and generally black and short. But what most adds to their deformity, is a belt or cord which they wear round the waist, and tie so tight over the belly, that the shape of their bodies is not unlike that of an overgrown pismire.*

At Tanna, the discoverer was informed by the natives, that they were in the habit of eating human flesh. “They began the subject of their own accord, by asking us if we did; otherwise I should never have thought of ask

Cook's Voyage towards the South Pole, vol. ii. p. 36. “The people of Mallicollo seemed to be quite a different nation from any we had yet met with, and speak a different language. Of about eighty words which Mr Forster collected, hardly one bears any affinity to the language spoken at any other island or place I had ever been at. The letter R is used in many of their words; and frequently two or three being joined together, such words we found difficult to pronounce. I observed that they could pronounce most of our words with great ease. They express their admiration by hissing like a goose."

In reference to the island of Tanna, Cook states, that “during the night the volcano, which was about four miles to the west of us, vomited up vast quantities of fire and smoke, as it had also the night before ; and the flames were seen to rise above the hill which lay between us and it. At every eruption it made a long rumbling noise like that of thunder, or the blowing up of large mines. A heavy shower of rain which fell at this time seemed to increase it ; and the wind blowing from the same quarter, the air was loaded with its ashes, which fell so thick, that every thing was covered with the dust. It was a kind of fine sand, or stone ground or burnt to powder, and was exceedingly troublesome to the eyes."

ing them such a question. I have heard people argue, that no nation could be cannibals, if they had other flesh to eat, or did not want food; thus deriving the custom from necessity. The people of this island can be under no such necessity ; they have fine pork and fowls, and plenty of fruits and roots."

At first the captain thought that the inhabitants of Tanna, as well as those of Erromango, were a race between the natives of the Friendly Islands and the people of Mallicollo, but a farther acquaintance convinced him that they had little or no affinity to either, except in their hair. It is very crisp and curly, like that of the negro families, and dark in the colour. They separate it into small locks, wound tightly round with the rind of a slender plant; and each of these not being thicker than common whip-cord, look like a parcel of small strings hanging down from the crown of the head. Some few of both sexes were seen, who had hair like that of Europeans; but it was concluded that they belonged to a different nation, and were probably emigrants from Erronan. It is to this island they ascribe one of the languages they speak, and which is nearly the same as the dialect of the Tonga Archipelago. Hence, it is presumed, that the former was peopled from the Friendly Isles, and that, in consequence of a long intercourse, each had learned to use the speech of the other.

It was found that, besides the arts necessary for the cultivation of the ground, the people who occupy the larger islands of the New Hebrides practise no other. They know, indeed, how to make a kind of matting, as also a coarse cloth manufactured from the bark of a tree, and used chiefly for belts. But their canoes present only a very imperfect acquaintance with the rules of shipbuilding; while their armour, on which they bestow the greatest pains, is very inferior in point of neatness to that seen in the more eastern parts of Polynesia. Little knowledge was acquired either as to their religion or form of government. Chiefs were introduced to the English in various parts of the several islands, but no one was observed to assume the exercise of authority, or to receive implicit obedience from the multitude.*

In the days of Quiros, the inhabitants were more fierce and warlike than they were found by our countryman towards the close of last century; and in several encounters which took place, though the Spaniards were victorious, considerable loss was sustained. His description of the island of Espiritu Santo gives the picture of a Polynesian paradise, the shores of which were “full of odoriferous flowers and plants.” There were in all parts contiguous to the sea pleasant and agreeable groves, extending to the sides of lofty mountains in the interior; and also, from the top of one which his people mounted, were perceived at a distance extremely fertile valleys, diversified by fine rivers winding among the green hills. The whole country, he maintained, had a decided advantage over America. It was uncommonly plenteous in various and delicious fruits, potatoes, yams, papas, plantains, which the soil produced in the greatest abundance. There were also in the plains and on the declivities, which descend into them excellent limes. They saw almonds larger than those in Spain ; there were sweet basil, nutmegs, ebony, fowls, and hogs ; and they observed honey-bees, doves, partridges, and parrots.

Little was done for these interesting islands either in the

way of religion or of general civilisation till a few

Captain Cook, after mentioning that the northern islands were discovered by Quiros, and that the group was subsequently visited by Bougainville, who did no more than ascertain that the land was not connected, says, as besides fixing the extent and situation of these islands,

we added to them several new ones which were not known before, and explored the whole, I think we have obtained a right to name them; and shall'in future distinguish them by the name of the New Hebrides.” + Voyage de Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, in Dalrymple’s Historical Collection of the several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean, vol. i. p. 136. It is well known that when Quiros touched on the shores of Espiritu Santo, he imagined he had reached the great Southern Continent, then the favourite object of speculation and research. Bougainville, by sailing round the island, put an end to the fond dream entertained by the discoverer.

years ago, when the zealous men who had just succeeded in establishing the gospel in the Society, Friendly, and Navigators' groups, resolved to extend the blessings of light and knowledge to the New Hebrides. Embarking in the Cambden, a vessel supplied by the Society for the purpose of propagating the faith in the Pacific, Mr Williams, accompanied by a number of teachers, proceeded to Tanna, where he was uncommonly well received by the natives, and at whose request he left several missionaries. They next sailed to Erromango, the inhabitants of which, who appeared shy and suspicious, declined all intercourse, making signs to the preachers to go away. They spoke, too, a language quite different from that of the Windward Islands, so that the English on board could not understand a single word. Williams, who attributed their reluctance to admit strangers to the ill treatment which they had probably sustained at the hands of other foreigners who may have debarked on some former occasion, declared that he should not have the slightest fear to trust himself among them. To the captain, who doubted the wisdom of his resolution, he said,

you know we like to take possession of the land, and if we can only leave good impressions on the minds of the natives, we can come again and leave teachers; we must be content to do a little ; you know Babel was not built in a day.” Upon landing, he presented his hand to those nearest him, which they were unwilling to take, but by inducing them to accept some gifts, he seemed to have entirely gained their confidence. He therefore accompanied the party to a little distance from the shore, when, without any provocation, they commenced an attack upon their visiters, consisting of four individuals, one of whom, Mr Harris, they instantly despatched with their clubs. He himself attempted to escape by running down towards the beach ; he was, however, so hotly pursued, that before he could reach the water, he was several times struck, and at length fell heavily upon his face into the sea. The body, which was dragged from the waves, lay on the sand some time, and the assassins,



having retired for a moment, hope was entertained that it might be rescued from the hands of those ferocious cannibals. But before the crew could pull to the spot, they issued from the thicket into which they had withdrawn, and carried the remains into the interior, whither they could not be followed. The Cambden, being strictly a ship of peace, had no shot on board; and the noise made by an empty gun could not long intimidate the rude barbarians, who soon learn to distinguish between real power and a vain menace.

On the arrival of the melancholy tidings at Sydney, Sir George Gipps, the governor of the colony, ordered her majesty's ship Favourite, under the command of Captain Croker, to proceed to Erromango, with the view of recovering the bodies of the two murdered missionaries. The use of this vessel, however, was granted and received on the express condition that no of punishment or retaliation should be adopted against the wretched natives. By negotiating with the leading chiefs, they recovered from them a few, and only a few, of the relics of these honoured men, which were conveyed with suitable respect to the Navigators’ Islands for christian burial. This solemnity took place on the 31st March 1840, amidst an immense concourse of people ; the officers, seamen, and marines, from the man-of-war, being also present to pay their tribute of veneration to the memory of the intrepid servants of the Redeemer, who thought not their lives too dear to be expended in his service. At a meeting of the brethren immediately afterwards, it was resolved that Mr Heath should be named successor to Williams, who forth with took shipping for the New Hebrides, accompanied by five native teachers. Being favoured with a prosperous voyage, he had soon an opportunity of visiting the islands of Rotumah, Tanna, Immer, New Caledonia, the Isle of Pines, and even Erromango itself, at all of which stations were formed, and ministers appointed.+

Missionary Register, June 1840, p. 90. + Report of the Directors to the Forty-seventh General Meet

« ForrigeFortsæt »