« ForrigeFortsæt »
for Great Britain, more especially that branch of it which is necessarily connected with the valuable fisheries established on the coast by numerous foreigners, as well from Europe as America.
It is provided in the Act just mentioned, that the lands to be sold shall be distinguished into three separate classes, namely, Town lots, Suburban lots, and Country lots. The power of conveying such property is vested in the governor, who is authorized and required, in name of her majesty, to alienate it in fee simple to the respective purchasers. Of the three descriptions of land, the two former must be sold by public auction; the last may be conveyed by private contract, if it shall have been previously offered for sale and not bought, but not for a smaller sum than the amount of the upset price. It is farther provided, that all such sales shall be for ready money ; in other words, that a deposit of ten per cent. shall be paid at the time of purchase, and the remainder at the signing of the contract.
The stream of colonization has hitherto chiefly directed its course towards New Ulster, the northern island, owing principally to the accommodation found in its bays by the masters of whale-ships. But as New Munster presents many inducements to the agriculturist, and still more to the stock-farmer, whose wealth consists in the number of his cattle, there can be no doubt that its extensive valleys and green hills will be soon occupied by industrious settlers.
General Remarks on the past and present Condition of
Principles of a higher Knowledge discoverable among Natives
of South Sea-To be particularly traced in their religious Usages—Resemblance to Israelites, Greeks, and RomansInfluence of Chiefs in Conversion-Examples-Gospel advanced amidst War and Commotion-Caution necessary on the Part of Missionaries-First Intercourse with Europeans fatal to Aborigines-Experiment made by a Native as to Power of Gods—Various Opinions as to the Effect of Missionary Exertion-Improvement of People undeniable-Bad Conduct of certain French Officers-Progress of Religion in Hervey Islands, the Society Group, and Marquesas-Friendly Isles under Wesleyans--King George of Vavaoo-Death of Boki—Sandwich Islanders improved-Supposed Intolerance of Missionaries-Defence of their Conduct and Fruit of their Labour-Life at Honoruru-Alleged Depopulation of the Islands-Diseases propagated at New Zealand-Outbreak in New Ulster-Improved Mode of evangelizing that CountryStatement by Mr Yate-Liturgy-Religion aided by Knowledge and enlarged Intercourse—Trade in the Sandwich Islands and New Zealand—Whale-fishing-—British Com
e-Prospects of Polynesia in regard to Wealth and Intelligence.
THROUGH the dark cloud which envelops the early history of Polynesia, it is still possible to ascertain that the natives, more especially those of the central groups, must have inherited from their remote ancestors the principles of a higher knowledge and belief than they were foun to possess, when in these latter days they were discovered by Europeans. A question has been raised whether they migrated directly from Asia to their present abodes, or whether their progenitors had not previously crossed the narrow straits which separate that continent from America. The point in debate is not perhaps worthy of the attention which has been bestowed upon it; and it is certain that, in the absence of all historical muniments, and even of a uniform tradition, it cannot now be satisfactorily determined. The ancient condition of the American tribes is not more perfectly understood than that of the Polynesian families, whose existence, till a period comparatively recent, was not known to any civilized people. That a considerable advance in the arts was made in the vast regions descried by Columbus, many ages before his memorable voyage, does not admit of any reasonable doubt. Relics of architecture and other tokens of an improved state are from time to time brought to light by the enterprise of modern travellers; some of which perhaps are sufficiently well marked to justify the inferences that have been drawn in support of a primitive civilisation throughout those provinces which stretch between the mouth of the river Plate and the Gulf of Mexico. Hence we must allow that there is more than fancy in the conjecture which traces in the rude figures at Easter Island and other parts of the South Sea some affinity to the more finished statues which have been discovered at Copan, Quirigua, Palenque, and Uxmal.*
It requires no ingenuity to discover in the religious usages of the Polynesians such a resemblance to those of the other Asiatic nations as to afford the greatest probability that they sprung from the same source. In the practices every where prevailing, we perceive traces of that original faith which, though given to man by a divine agency, has perpetuated itself through a channel so corrupted as to have lost the sublime import and the purer ceremonies by means of which it first addressed
* Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. By John L. Stephens (2 vols 8vo, Lond. 1841). Vol. i. p. 100-118 ; vol. ü. pp. 292-310, 420-432.
itself to the acceptation of the descendants of Noah. Even the history of the Israelites, who, prior to their Babylonian thraldom, manifested a strong propensity to adopt the superstitions of the heathen, supplies materials for the illustration of this interesting subject; for, though separated by three thousand years, and the distance of nearly half the circumference of the earth, the posterity of Jacob displayed in their idolatrous worship an affinity to the ignorant hordes who now occupy the islands of the Pacific. The form of the temples in Otaheite and Woahoo, erected on the high place or under the green tree, remind the reader of the favourite resort of the chosen people for some ages after they crossed the Jordan. Even in the more guilty rites of human sacrifice we detect the same abuse of a sacred institution. Not only did they “ inflame themselves with idols ;" they also “ slew the children in the valleys under the clefts of the rocks ;” and this description given of them by the prophet might have been literally applied to the Georgian and Sandwich Islanders not many years ago.*
Could we trace the crime of infanticide among the natives of the South Sea to its origin, we should probably find that it arose from a religious obligation misunderstood and depraved. An attempt, it is well known, has been made to account for it on the ground of political economy; and a practice, than which none could be more revolting to the feelings of a parent, has been ascribed
* Isaiah, lvii. 5. In allusion to another superstition, the prophet says, among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion ; they, they are thy lot, even to them hast thou poured a drink-offering, thou hast offered a meat-offering.”—Verse 6th. The allusion here to the "smooth stones of the stream ” is perfectly intelligible to every one at all conversant in heathen antiquities, where many instances occur of such stones being consecrated. It is imagined that the usage may be traced to the days of Jacob, who erected a stone at Bethel and poured oil on the top of it. Arnobius gives an account of his own practice in this respect before he became a Christian: “Si quando conspexeram lubricatum lapidem, et ex olivi unguine sordidatum; tanquam inesset vis præsens, adulabar, affabar, et beneficia poscebam nihil sentiente de trunco.”_Lib. i. Lowth's Isaiah, vol. ii. p. 338.
to the discovery, that population increases faster than any means which can be devised for maintaining it. This conclusion has been too hastily admitted. The breadfruit-tree can be multiplied with little toil, while the supply of food which it yields is less dependent on seasons than the corn of more temperate climates. Nor, amidst so many indications of improvidence and thoughtlessness as disgrace the Polynesians, are we entitled to ascribe to calculation an outrage upon the tenderest sympathies of nature, and one to which the mother especially would oppose the most vigorous resistance. It was not want that impelled the Israelites to slay their infants under the clefts of the rocks, or to pass them through the fire to Moloch. This unnatural sacrifice may without doubt be traced to that most enthralling class of superstitions which, having their origin in a divine ordinance, have been gradually corrupted by the inventions of men. The Levitical law required that the eldest son should be either set apart to the Lord, or redeemed with a price ; an injunction which was not unlikely to be misunderstood during the progress of ages, and after the mixture of the chosen people with idolatrous tribes.
Even the institution of the Areois, it is probable, might be traced to a purpose which had for its aim not less the honour of the gods than the welfare of mankind. In the heroic times of Christianity, when the martial spirit inherited from Rome led the warriors of the church into foreign lands to seek a foe worthy of their arms, associations were formed, some of which terminated with as few claims to respect as are conceded to the knightstemplar of Otaheite. The atrocities of these last are evidently the corruption of a principle which raised the mind to heaven before it was made the pretext for the grossest impurities. No fraternity has ever had its origin in the contemplation of an unmixed evil; but in many cases has the pursuit of a speculative fantastical good depraved the moral sense, while it wasted the best energies of the soul. We find that even among the sea-rovers