Page images
PDF
EPUB

ries.” The “injudicious and inef- mer customs and habits, the present fectual attempts” are nothing but state of society in regard to its inthe enactment of laws prohibiting dustrial interests, the introduction of licentiousness, the importation of various branches of art, manufacliquors, and intemperance !! ture, and agriculture, the establish

The true condition of a heathening of codes of written laws, the retribe, in all the moral deformity and cognizing of these governments as hideousness of their abominable and independent sovereignties, the fear. cruel rites, and the almost utter ne- ful depopulation of the islands, and gation of every thing that is good, others which crowd before us, would in the intelligent use of the term, protract our remarks to an ample and not mere instinct, can be appre. folio. But we forbear the arduous ciated only by those who have un- task. dertaken as missionaries to enlighten The opinions of men who after a and elevate them. And although few days of intercourse with a peowe may now go to Tabiri, and be. ple whom they see for the first time, hold in it, as well as in other parts and to whom they bid farewell in a of the world, the broken fragments week or a month, whether they be and dreary ruins of the old systems, titled noblemen or frolicking seaand all things as in the transition men, Von Kotzebues, Beecheys, or state; and ihough we may weep Melvilles, are all of little moment; over the fate of tens of thousands, yet, as Russell remarks of the we have yet reason to hope that the first two, their opinions are such seed sown, will at length make her “as can not fail to have great weight rejoice in brightness and beauty. with the public," because their posi

When Pomare, on the 30th of tion entitles them, as observers and June, 1817, printed the first sheet of historians, to credit, not that they the spelling book, he was but giving make statements which are reliable the first impetus to that untold power or true. which is to be the chief agent in the Passing by Lieut. Wilkes's Exploremancipation of the world. And ing Expedition, we content ourselves though we may have our ears pained with a single passage from Darwin's by the discord, and our hearis bro. “ Voyage of a Naturalist,” the mod. ken with grief over the wasting esty of whose opinions, with the enfamilies of ihe earth, we feel cheer- lightened character of the observer, ed with the thought that there is a strongly commends it to the imparpower which shall stem the torrent tial reader. of death, or will call to judgment

" From the varying accounts wbich I the guilty destroyers and their less had had before reaching these islands, I guilty victims.

was very anxious lo form, from my own The remaining remarks of our

observation, a judgment of their moral author are fortified with quotations cessarily be very imperfeci. First in,

state, although such judgment would nefrom Kotzebue, Beechey, and others, pressions at all times very much depend and are such as favor Mr. Melville's on one's previously acquired ideas. My views. However agreeable it might sian Researches, an admirable and most be to expose the follies of this whole interesting work, but naturally looking at triad of superficial observers, the every thing under a favorable point of time and space requisite would make view; froin Beechey's Voyage, and from too large a demand upon the patience verse to the whole missionary system. of our readers. A full examination He who compares these three accounts of the legitimate topics of this dis. will, I think, form a tolerably correct concussion, the improvement in the in- ception of the present state of Tahiu. tellectual, moral, and social condi- from the iwo last authorities, was de

One of my impressions, which I took tion of the Polynesians—their for- cidedly incorrect, viz. that the Tahitians

#

had become a gloomy race, and lived in which they do not wish to practice, or to a fear of the missionaries. Of the latter religion which they undervalue, if not defeeling I saw no trace, unless, indeed, spise.' fear and respect be confounded under one name. Instead of discontent being a

The unfinished records of the common feeling, it would be difficult in love scenes of our modern BoccacEurope to pick out of a crowd half socio, which leave the reader in a state many merry and happy faces. The pro- of not very uncertain surmise as to hibition of the flute and dancing is inveighed against as wrong and foolish; the secret incidents, we commend the more than Presbyterian manner of to the conscience of their author in keeping the Sabbath, is looked at in a sim- connection with the foregoing pasilar" light. On these points I will not pretend to offer any opinion in opposition

sage. to men who have resided as many years

When we review the condition of as I have days on the island.

the South Sea islanders in all its es. “On the whole, it appears to me that sential features, mistaken as some of the morality and religion of the inhabi- the missionaries have been in the tants are highly creditable. There are many who attack, even more acrimoni. measures they have adopted, enga. ously than Kotzebue, both the missiona- ged in a novel and almost untried ries, their system, and the effects produ

enterprise, working upon materials ced by it. Such reasoners never compare the present state with that of the island the most repulsive and difficult, atonly twenty years ago, nor even with tempting to overturn the superstithai of Europe at the present day; but tions and systems of ages, breaking they compare it with the bigh standard of Gospel perfection. They expect the mis- up the stubborn and rugged soil, and sionaries to effect that which the Apostles endeavoring to soften and purify the ibemselves failed to do. Inasmuch as the callous and unclean hearts of some condition of the people falls short of this of the most debased of all the chil. bigh standard, blame is attached to the mis- dren of our common Father, we sionary, instead of credit for that which he has effected. They forget, or will not re

think there is ground for the belief member, that human sacrifices and the that very much has been done topower of an idolatrous priesthood—a sys- wards their regeneration and reten of profligacy unparalleled in any other part of the world-infanticide, a con

demption. In our own civilized and sequence of that system-bloody wars, Christian land, how many are there wbere the conquerors spared neither wo- who present no better aspects of men nor children-that all these have moral character than the half-rebeen abolished, and that dishonesty, intemperance, and licentiousness, have been claimed Tahitian or Hawaiian! Our greatly reduced by the introduction of refinement only conceals and hides Christianity. In a voyager to forget these in secret places the moral death things is base ingratitude, for should be

the loathsome and putrid carcass— chance to be at the point of shipwreck on some unknown coast, he will most de that preys upon hundreds of thouvoutly pray that the influence of the mis- sands at our very firesides, and at sionary may have extended thus far. " In point of morality, the virtue of the The intellectual grossness of the

the thresholds of our sanctuaries. women, it has been often said, is most open to exception. But, before they are Polynesian, the merely animal inblamed too severely, it will be well dis- stinct by which he had been, until tinctly to call to mind the scenes descri- recently, governed, forms the unbed by Captain Cook and Mr. Banks, in which the grandmothers and mothers of sightly background upon which his the present race took a part. Those who moral condition has been drawn. are most severe should consider how To look for a high state of cultivamuch of the morality of women in Eu- tion, or even a proximate underrope is owing to the system early impress. ed by mothers on their daughters, and standing of the spiritual nature of how much in each individual case to the Christianity, in a single age, would preeepts of religion. But it is useless to

be to require more than the civilized argue with such reasoners : I beliere that, disappointed in not finding the field of li- * Darwin's Voyage of a Naturalist, centiousness quite so open as formerly, (Harper's New Miscellany,) vol. ii, p. they will not give credit to a morality 191-193. VOL. VI.

8

GUN.

world, with all its refinement and its introduced: where the mariner reintelligence, now gives to the reli- sorted, the wildest licentiousness gion of the Redeemer. Is the evan. was encouraged. Where ignorance gelized Tahitian or Hawaiian, to brooded over the nations, the misto be accounted a barbarian still, sionaries have poured abroad a flood unless he yield a purer homage in of holy light and intelligence. The one generation, than has the Chris. war-club and spear have given place tian world with the light and privi- to deeds of love and peace. The leges of eighteen centuries ? bread-fruit and the cocoa-nut, once The woRK HAS BEEN NOBLY BE- destroyed, now rear their heads

Wherever the missionary has over peaceful vales and undisturbed been, the mariner may follow in hamlets. peace and security : where the mar- Honor, then, to those noble men iner went first, the missionary could who, burning with zeal to rescue enter only at some serious risk. the heathen from temporal and spirWhere the missionary succeeded, a itual death, left their homes and code of laws and a settled constitu. their enjoyments, to teach them the tional government have been estab. way of peace, and lished: where the mariner first land. ed, all was left to the caprice or the

"High on the pagan hills, where Satan sat

Encamped, and o’er the subject kingdoms cupidity of the chiefs or the foreign- threw ers. Where the missionaries first Perpetual night, to plant Immanuel's cross,

The ensign of the Gospel blazing round settled, morality and the arts were Immortal truth."

VOICES OF FREEDOM.*

We have noticed with no little earnest and thinking men, whose ob. satisfaction for some time past, that ject has been, not simply to weave while far the greater part of the garlands for sentimental maidens, current light literature of the day, whose nervous systems are shockis either positively pernicious in its ingly out of tune, that the sickening influence, or is utterly insipid and perfume of the flowers breathed late useless, except to procure waste of at night in the lorn sufferers' closetime and want of thought, there is pent chambers, may aggravate their yet another very considerable por- amiable illness; but rather to gather tion coming into existence, which out from the whole kingdom of na. has a purer aim than to corrupt and ture, whatever is best fitted to heal destroy, and a more exalted one, the diseased, and to supply additionthan merely to relieve the tedium al strength and sustenance to those of an idle hour. It seems to have who are already strong to bear the been discovered at last, that men burdens and to meet the conflicts of can be amused and instructed at the man's life. And they who, thus insame time; that their passions and tent upon ministering healing and emotions can be aroused, and yet strengih to diseased humanity, have not vent themselves in knight-er. sought through the many and diverrantry, nor misanthropy, nor liber. sified fields of nature, that great tinism. It is gratifying to find that garden of God's planting, have in some instances, the flowery walks found there many a tree of know. of literature have been trodden by ledge, the fruit of which is not for

* Voices of Freedom; by J. G. Whit. bidden, though it be beautiful to the tier. Fourth edition. 1846.

eye and pleasant to the taste, and to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

be desired to make one wise. They ly the governing principles of his have shown, and are still showing, own mind. And the means which by their productions, that not every shall contribute to this happy result voice of inviting melody is to be in the one case, and this unhappy shut out from our ears at first sound, one in the other, may not be parenas if its very enchantment must tal example and instruction alone. prove it to be that of a syren, which If a bad book, drawn up in a fasci. delights and allures only to destroy. nating style, both of language and They have taught us, that not every of conception, may do its reader form of beauty should warn us at more harm than he is aware, so a first sight, to turn from beholding, good book with the same pleasing as if its captivating aspect were address, may do its reader more enough of itself to prove it to be good than he is aware. It is well some Circean monster, which chan. that some are beginning to see this. ges all who expose themselves to And when they attempt to set forth the influence of its magic spells, to truth, adorned with the gorgeous loathsome brules. The stern phi- colors which imagination showers losophy which would make truth ne. upon its own creation, and the caucessarily repulsive to all not dispo- tious critic insinuates that there must sed to obey its dictates, has been be an insidious poison lurking beobliged 10 admit as much at least as neath so much beauty; they may this, that if perverse and corrupting well dare to say of their own, and principles may find their way to the similar productions, as the shrewd heart, under the fascinating disguise John Wesley said in defense of himof a beautiful exterior, the maxims self, for having employed some of of sound wisdom may reach the the gayer airs of the festive hall, to same fountain of feeling and of ac- set forth the raptures of religious tion, under the same disguise. And emotion—“ It is a pity that the devil if it be denied that there is any thing should have all the best music.” It good in the disguise in the one in- is also a pity, that the devil should stance, it must be admitted that there have all the best literature. It is need be nothing evil in it, in the se. a most mournful pity, in the estimacond. If a subtle and deadly poi- tion of one who has a mind to person may be administered unperceiv. ceive and a heart to feel whatever ed, in a draught so pleasant as that is most beautiful and glorious in all appetites will relish its sweet- God's creation, that the power of ness ; so the antidote which the dis. evil should claim the most just repeased may regard as loathsome in resentation of that beauty, that gloitself, may be given in the same ry, as the instrument of accomplishform. If the child, trained up in ing its own dark purposes of wretchcircumstances adverse to his moral edness and ruin to man. It is a subimprovement, under the constant in. ject for the deepest regret that this fluence of those who are bitterly is, and has long been, so far true, hostile to all good, may become as that many readers of pure and gradually worse and worse, till at elevated moral sentiments, have been length he knows so little of what accustomed to associate intellectual good is, as to be insensible of the beauty with moral deformity, so inextent to which evil reigns in every variably, as to suspect that wherever desire of his soul ; so, under the in the former is exhibited, the latter fluence of a different training, may must be a necessary accompaniment. another become far more deeply in Thus, whenever they are told, on love with all goodness than he is the publication of a new work in aware, till rough contact with the some department of fictitious or ima. world reveals to himself more clear- ginative literature, that it may be safely placed in the hands of the among readers of magazines and lityoung; they insensibly begin to re- erary weeklies, for something which gard that statement as equivalent to bas strength and reality and a noble one,

that the new production has too aim, is becoming stronger and loudlittle life, beauty, richness of thought er. He who looks for nothing beand imagery, to secure the attention yond popular success, as a writer of the young, who have already had for such publications, is taught from a taste of the forbidden fruit, which many sources, that no small part of the tempter urges upon them with the reading world is beginning to disguised and prevailing earnestness. turn its patronage in favor of those Thus too, many an honest hearted who speak out, most truthfully and guardian or instructor of youth, feels nobly, the genuine emotions of hucompelled to warn his charge 10 manity, groaning and sighing for reshrink from entering what he him. lease from the heavy bondage of erself regards as the most brilliant ror, and depravity, and injustice. and inviting fields of literature, as Thus he is convinced that he, or they would shrink from the touch of those soon to come after him, must contagion, or from the instigations expect a lot of shame and neglect of the foul fiend.

if, in the face of such a demand for It is however, as has been already what is earnest, and real, and refor. stated, a subject for hope and con- matory, they can exhibit themselves gratulation, that the exceptions to in no higher character than that of inihe general rule of perversity in ventors and vendors of elegant trifies. aim, or inanity in substance, or both, In the department of poetry, (and among mere literary writers, are be- it is to that principally, that we recoming more and more frequent. fer in these observations,) it would Occasionally we find one giving to be easy to specify instances, both in his thoughts a gayer and more diEngland and in this country, showversified coloring than absolute re- ing that a single fugitive piece, apality would warrant, and yet show. parently thrown off by its author in ing himself to be in earnest in toil. a few happy moments, when nature ing for the improvement and hap- and humanity, in defiance of art and piness of his fellow men. While selfishness, both prompted and guiihe teeming and licentious imagina- ded his effort, has done more to awa. tion of French feuilletonists, has not ken a healthy and strong action in ceased to invent “all monstrous and the great heart of the Saxon people, prodigious things” to gratify the dis- than a lengthened and labored poem, eased appetite of their million read with nothing to commend it, but a ers, there is yet not entirely want- soulless and classical beauty, or the ing among all of these, the evidence revelings of a prodigal imagination, of an honest purpose to expose and in the misty realm of the ideal. break down false theories and old The recent effect of such effusions abuses, however little skill they may upon the minds of millions, whose possess to build up better upon the taste for the beautiful and imaginaruins they make. In Paris itself, tive, had been fed only by affected the world's emporium of literary, as conceits, or monstrously exaggerawell as of every other species of ted real sentiments, or the reeking trifling, it has been found that mere garbage of sensualists; has been vivacity of description, and fertility similar to the impression produced of aimless and useless invention, upon the same minds, by the sing. will no longer ensure an author the ing of one worthy and justly admisale of a new volume, each return. red family. People had been acing week. And in England, and in customed to expect, as a matter of our own country, the demand, even course, at concerts, to hear unintel.

« PreviousContinue »