Page images
PDF

perplate inscriptions upon the stump of the memorable cocoanut-tree put there by British men-of-war; and have been to the place further inland, where a rude monument tells us that his flesh was burned;—yet at neither locality could I start productively the meditative or heroic mood.

Perhaps it is because the imaginative notions of my boyhood, respecting the Great Captain and Discoverer in the Island World of the Pacific, have been reluctantly corrected by the more accurate information obtained here on the spot in Hawaii-nei. The footprints Cook has left on the sands of time, great as he was in many respects, will never wear out; but the place and the manner of his death we should contemplate less painfully, had the illustrious navigator, whose blood threescore and ten years ago crimsoned these peaceful waters, done more to direct the untaught natives to the Great Jehovah, instead of receiving divine homage himself.

God will not have his glory given to another, nor will he with impunity let selfish gain be made out of the principle of reverence for higher powers, which himself has implanted in the human constitution. Captain Cook wrongly attempted this, although, as we would fain believe, not aware to what extent the offerings paid him were meant as homage to a God. Hence, in the order of retributive Providence, his ignominious death at the hands of the very incensed barbarians whom he had allowed to worship him.

[merged small][ocr errors]

A glimpse of the besotted idolatry which the aborigines of this Island Kingdom of Hawaii were then addicted to, and of the moral state of Hawaii As It Was, may be gathered from the engravings we give of some of their idol gods.

It is a matter of curious interest to the philosopher, in tracing the origin of the religious and mythological notions of different savage tribes, to observe how they are always modified by the physical objects, usages, and scenery with which they are chiefly conversant. The most terrific and impressive of all visible things to Hawaiians being the Volcano, or Lua Pele, and its cause unknown, they attributed all its phenomena to gods there living, and those gods their imaginations made like unto themselves.

Thus, the conical craters in the bed of the volcano they regarded as the houses of their gods, where they amused themselves by playing at konane, the favorite Hawaiian game of drafts. The roaring of the volcano's furnaces, and the crackling of its sulphurous flames, were deemed by them the kani to the hula of their gods, that is, the music of their dances, which were naturally attributed to them, from their own addictedness to the same. The red flaming surge in the caldron of the volcano they called the surf, where their gods played like themselves with surf-boards on the great Pacific rollers.

In like manner, the Greenlanders and Esquimaux of the Arctic regions, when first visited by Moravians, believed every thing in heaven to be after the pattern of things on their earth; and they found it difficult to be satisfied with the Bible promise of the Christian heaven, because it did not contain seals. The arch of heaven, in their view, turns round on the pivot of a high, sharp peak, far to the north. The Great Bear they compare to a sort of bench, on which they fasten their ropes and harpoons for the capture of seal. The belt of Orion consists of Greenlanders, who were placed there because they could not find the way to their own country. The Pleiades are howling dogs, which surround a white bear. The red stars take their color from eating seals' livers, the white from eating seals' brains. The Northern Lights are caused by the souls of the dead playing at ball. In the sky there is an immense lake, confined by a dam; when the water overflows this dam, it rains; and if the dam should break, heaven would fall, and crush the earth.

The deities worshipped by Hawaiians were called by the general name Akua, and the number of them was unlimited, expressed by their word hini. Mr. Dibble says the Hawaiians had six deities to whom they gave names, but oftener addressed only four, Ku, Lono, Kane, and Kanaloa. After naming these four, and sometimes six, they then added the expres_ sion, the forty thousand, and the four hundred thousand gods, meaning an indefinite number.

These deities they regarded as spirits who had their residence above, or in the clouds. Tdiey attributed to them all the proud, fierce, cruel, and impure passions of men; and supposed them of course to delight in the

[graphic][graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »