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the richest fruits for the use of man — as the cocoa-nut, the sugar-cane, the Chinese mulberry, and bananas of thirteen kinds. There was no European fruit nor grain of" any sort. But the want of it was supplied by a rare and special gift of Providence to these South Sea islanders — the bread-fruit tree. This, in its trunk and branches, has been compared to an oak, in its foliage to a fig-tree; and the fruit is about the size and shape of a child's head. The rind being removed, there appears within a soft and spongy substance, white as snow, which, when divided into portions, and roasted, affords nearly the taste and the nourishment of bread. Thus, at Otaheite did a few turns before a fire supersede our manifold processes, which, from the tools that they require, are connected with so many processes more — of ploughing, sowing, harrowing, reaping, storing, thrashing, grinding, baking,— and, in late years at least, legislating!"*
The race of men who were found inhabiting this island were, for the most part, tall, well-proportioned, and handsome; their complexion of a clear light olive. Their mild, intelligent looks, and their gentle manners, seemed far indeed removed from the common ferocity of savages. But they had the barbaric practice of drawing upon their bodies various patterns by small punctures—a practice which they, and we from them, denominate Tattooing. Their dress consisted of either cloth or matting; the former made from the bark of trees. In wearing it (but on that point civilised nations and barbarians well agree) they had rather more regard for fashion than for use; thus Cook observed of the chiefs, that whenever they came to visit him, they had folded round their loins as much cloth as would suffice to clothe a dozen people while the rest of their bodies was quite bare.
"It has been remarked," says a recent traveller, "that "it requires only little habit to make a dark skin more "pleasing and natural to the eye of an European than his "own colour. A white man bathing by the side of an "Otaheitean was like a plant bleached by the gardener's "art, compared with a fine dark-green one growing vigo"rously in the open fields." f
* See, however, as against the bread-fruit, the forcible remarks of Dr. Johnson ; Boswell's Life, under the date May 7. 1773. f Darwin's Journal, November 15. 1835.
To the Otaheiteans, the use of letters or the art of writing were utterly unknown. They had no metal whatever, all their tools being made of stone, shells, or bone. This was of the less importance to them, since they required no tillage, nor any but the lightest toil. It was observed of them, at this time, that to catch fish was their chief labour, and to eat it their chief luxury. Their houses, sufficient for such a climate, were no more than a thatch of palm leaves, raised a little way on poles, and open at all sides. They had no tame quadrupeds besides hogs and dogs. Both of these they cooked for food, by a process of small ovens and hot stones; "and in my opi"nion," adds Captain Wallis, "the meat is better in every "respect than when it is dressed any other way." * Having no vessel in which fluids could undergo the action of fire, and their climate being unvisited by frosts, they had as little idea that water could ever be made hot as that it could ever be made solid. At breakfast, on board the ship, a hissing tea-urn was to them an incomprehensible mystery; and one Otaheitean, who on that occasion slightly scalded his own hand, was gazed at by the rest with terror and amazement.
The longer residence of Captain Cook enabled him to become acquainted with their language. He describes it as soft and melodious and easy to pronounce. It bears little or no affinity to those of the Old World, but was found, though with great varieties of dialect, extending to New Zealand, and over many of the archipelagoes of the South Sea.
For their religion, the Otaheiteans believed in two great deities, or first beings, by whom all other beings were produced. The year was, they said, the daughter of these; the year begot the months, and the month begot the days. The stars, as they supposed, were partly the offspring of the first pair, but partly, also, had increased among themselves. They had an hereditary priesthood ; and, according to their own avowal, the horrible practice of human sacrifices-^ Most of their other rites related to their se- * Hawkesworth's Voyages, vol. i. p. 484. Captain Cook says the same. (vol. ii. p. 197.)
f Cook's Second Voyage, vol. i. p. 185. This does not seem to have been suspected during his first visit, nor yet during Captain
pulchral monuments, which they called Morais; their dead being neither burned, nor buried, nor yet embalmed, but, at least in some cases, laid out to decay above ground.
For their government they had one supreme and many subordinate chiefs. But the lesser peninsula (for Otaheite consists of two connected by a narrow neck of land) acknowledged a different sway. Between both sanguinary wars were sometimes waged, in which little mercy was shown even to women or children. Their chiefs, as their priests, were hereditary, of either sex, but of fluctuating authority. Thus, for example, when Captain Wallis first discovered the island, he saw a woman of middle age, named Oberea, whom, from the demeanour of the people towards her, he supposed to be their Queen; but during the later visits of Captain Cook Oberea had declined from her high estate, and was little regarded.
Such is the account of Otaheite when first seen by European eyes. It was transmitted by men both discerning and trustworthy. Yet, perhaps, we may reasonably suspect some errors, when we find how gross and glaring are those committed at home. How ill, even at the present day, do our nearest neighbours understand us! One French traveller, only a few years since, affirmed, that we are in the habit of receiving our letters upon dishes, and of opening them with tongs.* One French historian, ascribing our intellectual vigour solely to our animal food, informs his readers, by way of illustration, that Shakspeare was a butcher by traed.f
A friendly intercourse and a system of barter sprung up at once between the people of Otaheite and each European ship. They brought provisions in plenty, and in return were most eager for axes and nails. But only a few hours sufficed to show the vices of their character. They were for the most part inveterate and incorrigible thieves. Even those who had received as free gifts many toys or tools could scarce be withheld from pilfering some
* "Les Anglais se font servir sur des plats des lettres qu'ils "premient avec des pincettes." (Theophile Gautier, Tra los A'onles, vol. ii. p. 98. ed. 1843.)
f "C'est de temps immemorial une race nourrie de chair. Leur "plus grand homme, Shakespeare, fut d'abord un buuiher." (Michelet, Histoire de France, vol. iv. p. 275. ed. 1837.)
more. On another still more essential subject they were still less to be restrained. Point Venus, where the ship's company, officers and sailors, often landed, might have been deemed the very shrine or dwelling-place of the heathen goddess. But among the Otaheiteans themselves the licentiousness was such as can find no parallel in any other age, or any other quarter of the globe. Among the Otaheiteans the men and women, at least of the richer class, were wont to form themselves into societies, or, as they might be aptly called, communities, in which infanticide became the order and the rule. These societies bore the name of Arreoy; and such was the state of feeling derived from them, that the term "bearer of children," which every where else is a title of honour among women, had grown to be at Otaheite a byword of reproach.
It is most strange to find that system, even though it might be limited to the richer class, still consistent with a swarming population. At his second visit, Captain Cook reckoned the number of the Otaheiteans at upwards of 200,000.* Recent voyagers find the actual numbers so far less, that, even allowing for a large decrease in consequence of the diseases introduced by Europeans, they see grounds for controverting the earlier calculation. Be this as it may, the recent voyagers have on other points good tidings to tell. At Otaheite the labours of the Missionary have been active and unceasing. At Otaheite the Gospel has not been preached in vain. There are still, no doubt, as even in the longest settled Christian countries, many faults of conduct to deplore and to amend. But the old abominations have been utterly swept away, and a healthful system both of faith and practice has succeeded.
On leaving Otaheite, and at the distance of one or two days' sail, Cook discovered a cluster of six isles, to which he gave the name of Society Islands. They were inhabited, he found, by a kindred race, with nearly the same language and manners as at Otaheite. From hence, at the farther bounds of the vast Pacific, he explored the coast of New Zealand. These, as their appellation
* Second Voyage, vol. i. p. 349. Compare his account with Captain Fitzroy's Voyages of the Beagle, vol. ii. p. 520.
denotes, were discovered by a Dutch voyager, namely Tasman, in 1642 ; yet neither he, nor any other since his time, had landed upon them. On more minute examination, Cook found the country to consist of two large islands; and the strait between them, which he was the first to trace, has deservedly received his name. Cook went on shore in several places, and perceived the great natural advantages which now, thick-set as that region has become with thriving Colonies, bids fair to render it, at no distant period, the Britain of the Southern hemisphere. With the natives, and through their fault, not his own, he became involved in some hostilities. According to his observations, they were tall and well-made, more athletic and active than the men of Otaheite, and by no means destitute of good qualities, but too plainly, and by their own confession, cannibals.
The English Captain pursued his voyage to the shores of New Holland, — another discovery of the old Dutch navigators, — but to which, as to the former, they had given a random view rather than any scientific or close survey. Cook, with great care, explored the eastern coast, which he called New South Wales. One inlet, where Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander found plants in especial plenty, received the appellation of Botany Bay. Until that time it was matter of uncertainty whether New Holland might not form part of New Guinea; but Cook now solved the doubt by steering between them. During that navigation he most narrowly escaped the peril of shipwreck. One night the vessel struck upon a hidden reef of coral. A formidable leak was sprung, and the crew set to work at the pumps; but the ship remained firmly fixed, and beat against the rocks with so much violence, that even the seamen could not without the utmost difficulty keep upon their legs. Their sole chance was now to lighten the vessel; accordingly, their guns upon the deck, their stone and iron ballast, casks, hoop-staves, oil-jars, decayed stores, and many other things, were with all expedition thrown overboard. Day broke, but only to show them the more clearly the horrors of their desolate condition; the land at eight leagues' distance, and no intermediate islet, to afford them even a temporary refuge. Providentially the wind died
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