Obrázky stránek

Art. IV.

Journal of a Tour around Hawaii, the largest of the Sandwich Islands. By a Deputation from the Mission on those Islands. Boston. 1825. Crocker & Brewster.

12mo. pp. 264. The clusters of islands in the great Pacific ocean, comprising that portion of the earth's surface called in recent geography Polynesia, remained a hidden region of the globe till comparatively modern times. Almost nothing was known of the vast number of islands scattered in this remote hemisphere, till the discoveries of Cook, although a few of them had been visited by earlier navigators. Polynesia reaches from the Sandwich Islands on the north to New Zealand on the south, and from the coast of America to the Friendly Islands, embracing, together with these, the groups of the Society Islands, the Marquesas, and all the other islands, which fall within the space designated by these general outlines. This new geographical division of the earth extends, therefore, from north to south about five thousand miles, and from east to west nearly four thousand.

It was not merely for the technical convenience of classification, that geographers arranged all these islands under one name. Their actual and relative position might properly enough suggest such an arrangement; but there are other and stronger reasons founded in the physical conformation of the islands themselves, in the productions of the soil and effects of climate; and, above all, in the characteristic traits of the inhabitants, their social habitudes, customs, manners, modes of living, language, government, and religion. In all those particulars, which are considered as marking the broad features of the human constitution and character, the inhabitants of Polynesia exhibit a striking resemblance. Of no races or tribes of men can it be inferred with greater certainty, that they originated from a common stock. Considering how widely these people are dispersed, inhabiting countless numbers of islands, many of them several hundred miles asunder, and without any obvious means of intercommunication before their discovery by Europeans, and considering also the remarkable points of similarity between them all, it is obvious that their history and condition present a fruitful theme for curious inquiry and reflection. We aim not now, however, at so discursive an investigation; the matter before us relates exclusively to the Sandwich Islands, and that portion of the Polynesian family inhabiting them.

For some time after Cook visited these islands, where he was killed by the natives, he was universally considered as the first discoverer; but La Perouse has made it appear more than probable, that they were discovered by Gaetano, a Spanish navigator, as early as 1542. It is said that the use of iron was known among the natives, before they were visited by Cook, and as no iron is produced on any of the islands, it is hence inferred, that the natives must have had a previous intercourse with Europeans. To this argument it has been replied, that iron might have been obtained from the wrecks of vessels, which had doubtless from time to time floated to the shores. The testimony advanced by La Perouse, however, is of a historical nature, and amounts to a very high degree of probability. Be the fact as it may, it is quite certain, that the natives, when Cook found them, had no knowledge or tradition of a previous visit from any European, nor any tinge in their manners and opinions indicating an intercourse with foreigners.*

The number of islands in this group is ten, of which eight are inhabited. The superficial contents of the whole are estimated at 5050 square miles. Hawaii, (Owhyhee,) is supposed to contain 4000 square miles, being thus four times greater in 'extent, than all the other islands, and nearly as large as the state of Connecticut. It is ninetyseven miles long, and seventyeight broad. The amount of population has been variously estimated; in Cook's time it was thought to be four hundred thousand on all the islands. The navigators, however, had no accurate means of calculation, and this is evidently a highly exaggerated estimate. It would be within bounds to fix it at half that number. Many causes have since concurred to produce a rapid decrease ; monuments exist giving evidence of a more numerous population at a former period. The missionaries, who have attended a good deal to the subject, with the best opportunities for judging, do not place the present number, on all the islands, higher than one hundred and thirty thousand, of which eightyfive thousand, or two thirds of the whole, inhabit the island of Hawaii.

* A general account of the discovery of the Sandwich Islands, and some remarks on the recent history of the people, may be found in a former number of this Journal. See Vol. 111. for May, 1816, p. 42.-In an article on New Zealand are also contained many particulars, relating to the character and manners of the inhabitants of that country, their customs and government, which will apply with little variation to all the Polynesians. See North American Review, Vol. xvii. No. 43, for April, 1824, p. 329.

As the Sandwich Islands afford a valuable article of commerce in sandal wood, and are favorably situated for supplying with provisions whale ships, and other vessels crossing the Pacific, they have been much more frequently visited by foreigners, than the other Polynesian groups. For several years past, indeed, factors and agents from England and the United States have resided there for mercantile purposes. This intercourse has naturally caused some advancement in the arts of civilization; new wants have been created, by an acquaintance with articles of convenience or luxury unknown before, and to supply these wants new incentives have been given to industry. It is melancholy to know, however, that the vices of civilization have made their way, in too many instances, more rapidly than its improvements or comforts; that indulgence in novel sources of gratification has unnerved the arm of enterprise ; that the powerful, instead of being quickened to industry, have laid more oppressive burdens on the weak. This must perhaps always be the case under similar circumstances. Civilization is not the work of a day; nor is it an opinion, a theory, or consent of the mind; it is a habit, an acquired nature, the growth of years, wrought into the being and constitution of the human system, both intellectual and corporeal. A savage is not to be brought to this state at once; it has cost the education of a life in the civilized man, and it can hardly be done at less expense of time and care in the uncivilized. One of the great instruments of civilization is restraint ; society itself, as well as the closer ties of private relationships, is held together by the system of restraints, to which every member subjects himself ; restraints on appetites, feelings, wishes, conduct. We have learnt to do this by habit from infancy; education, a cultivated understanding, refined moral sense, the knowledge of a pure religion, and example, have contributed each its portion to confirm the habit

, and make up the civilized man.

Now the savage has all these appetites and propensities, without the habit of controlling them, or of resisting temptation ; and without the moral light and culture, that enable him to discern their pernicious tendency, and reflect on the consequences of indulgence. Nature manages the matter very well, while it is wholly in her charge; she teaches the savage to be contented with his narrow comforts, and confine his wants to the means of supply, which his rude skill in the arts of life has compassed. But when civilization has poured out before bim her accumulated stores, tempted him with novelty, and

pampered him with the promise of new gratifications, he is no longer under the pupilage of nature; he becomes a civilized man to the utmost of his power; that is, he gives way to all the excesses of civilized life, in which he needs no instructers but his appetites, and possesses none of the virtues, principles, and habits, which are the balancing weights in the character of the civilized man, but which are only to be acquired by a long train of discipline. Hence it is, that the Sandwich Islanders were not for a time in the way of the best influences of civilization ; they were visited by seamen, or traffickers, whose example was not a shining light, and whose business and interest it was to furnish the natives with such articles as they most craved, and for which there was the quickest demand.

Such was the condition of the Sandwich Islanders from the time of their discovery by Cook, till very recently ; but we are happy to state, that a salutary change is now taking place, and that prospects of improvement among them are in a high degree encouraging. In April of the year 1820, a body of Missionaries from this country arrived at Hawaii, and were favorably received by the king. *

* Being divided into small parties, they were stationed on different islands, and from that period have been laboring with great zeal and selfdevotedness to advance the intellectual, moral, and religious culture of the natives. Schools have been established, houses for stated religious worship erected, a printing press put in operation, and books published in the Hawajian dialect; many of the natives have already been taught reading, writing, and the elementary principles of a refined education. This is taking the true ground; it is opening a way gradually to the hearts and understanding of the people; it is scattering seed in the minds of the rising generation, which will hereafter spring up, and flourish, and produce fruit.

The arrival of the Missionaries among the Sandwich Islanders, we hold to be an important era in the history of that people. Certain political events had then recently occurred, favorable to the objects of the Missionaries, which it is here proper to recount; and in doing this, we shall glance briefly at the character

* The first Mission embarked from this country on the 23d of October, 1819. It consisted of seven men and their wives. Messrs Bingham and Thurston were clergymen; Mr Chamberlain, farmer; Dr Holman, physician ; Mr Whitney, teacher and mechanic ; Mr Ruggles, teacher; Mr Loomis, printer. Three natives, Honooree, Hopoo, and Tennooe, who had been educated in this country, also returned with the Mission.

of the great king Tamehameha, and the government established by him. This personage stands out in bold relief on the prominent lists of men, who, by their talents, have acquired an unbounded dominion over others, and by their conquests and good fortune have made themselves objects of the gaze and wonder of the world. Tamehameha was the Gengis Khan, or Bonaparte, of Polynesia. He conquered till there was nothing more to conquer, and he ruled absolute to the end of his life. In former times the Sandwich Islands were governed by chiefs independent of each other. The right of government was hereditary in the principal chiefs; subordinate governors ruled under them; and in some cases the authority of a chief extended beyond his island. Hawaii was divided into several districts, over each of which a chief presided, and although these chiefs possessed different degrees of authority and power, it does not appear, that either of them acknowledged a permanent dependence on any of the others. Wars were constant, but rather for predatory purposes, than for conquest, or the extension of territory.

T'he author of the Tour around Hawaii visited a place called Halaua, on the north eastern extremity of the island, which is understood to have been the birthplace of Tamehameha. His original possessions consisted of lands inherited from his ancestors at Halaua, and a small tract on another part of the island in the district of Kona. He lived in the place of his birth till he was grown to the age of manhood, and tradition records many extraordinary incidents in his youthful years, and points to the yet remaining monuments of his early enterprise and prowess. Nature endowed him with an active and vigorous mind, and the happy faculty of winning the esteem, and commanding the respect of his companions, in such a manner as to impress them with a sense of his superiority, and make them his willing followers, and the zealous abettors of his designs. He was fond of athletic exercises and warlike amusements, of planning and executing difficult undertakings. He dug wells, and excavated passages through rocks, for a more easy access to the seashore. One of his accomplishments was agriculture; he cultivated a field of potatoes and other vegetables with his own hands ; it is still shown to the traveller, and called by his name; other fields were in like manner cultivated by his companions, who followed his example; he planted groves, which are now standing. But nothing was more remarkable in his character, than the strict and profound worship, which he rendered to his

« PředchozíPokračovat »