« PreviousContinue »
From the Spectator. of savages and sailors has gone on among the
islands, especially among those that form the CAPTAIN ERSKINE'S CRUISE AMONG THE frontier lands of Australasia. The visits of ISLANDS OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC. *
ships of war to these places have hitherto
been casual. Captain Erskine's was a regular Tue scene of Captain Erskine's cruise is cruise for the purpose of observation and those groups of islands and single islets in the Western Pacific which extend from the justiciary objects ; and seems to be the be
ginning of an annual series, which, efficiently Navigators Islands in longitude 170 degrees carried out, will be beneficial both to knowlWest to New Caledonia in 165° East, and
edge and humanity.
The greater groups · which may rank among the most interesting visited by Captain Erskine in his voyage of and little known regions directly accessible 1849 (for he made a second in 1830), were by sea. The genius of Cook recorded their the Navigators, Friendly, Feejee, and Loyalty natural and social traits with a discriminat- Islands, New Caledonia, and some of the ing sagacity, which even now excites the ad- New Hebrides. A careful study of the works miration of those who follow in his track. of his predecessors had made him familiar Since Cook's day not much has been done to with the history and characteristics of the extend his observations, beyond Mariner's
or Friendly Islands. from books. The size and equipment of his account of the Ton
peoples, so far as they could be ascertained Navigators have touched at many of the frigate, the absence of trading pursuits. places, missionaries have settled or attempted and his position as a queen's officer (for none to settle at them, and traders between Sydney
are better judges of character than many of and China have frequented the most interest- these savages), gave him great advantages in ing portion of the whole -- the region which point of prestige ; his own bearing, equally forms the easterly extreme of Australasia, con- removed from undue familiarity and from the sisting of new Caledonia, the Loyalty'Islands, hauteur of the service, and, above all, his and the new Hebrides. The results, how- reasonable sense of justice, appear to have erer, bave not corresponded with the apparent made a favorable personal impression upon opportunities. From the traders, indeed, we the native chiefs. Every commander who were not likely to learn much; they were as visits the less frequented islands of the Pacific corrupt, as bloody, and for all purposes of has opportunities of observation in plenty if philosophical observation as ignorant, as the be can benefit by them. The confidence insavages they visited and slaughtered. The
spired by a man whom the savage feels he missionaries, with some rare exceptions, were deficient in native penetration and largeness freely eliciting his traits.
can trust, gives greater opportunities by more of mind, while their primary object naturally
The opinion formed by Captain Erskine of gave a color to everything they saw, and as the moral capability of the worst islanders naturally predominated in their narratives. whom he encountered is more favorable than Some of them, however, have left valuable that of many other navigators ; if they were pictures of the mental state of the natural man, properly treated, he sees in them the germ
of though theology may be more conspicuous goodness. As regards their actual vices, esthan philosophy. Either want of time or of pecially their bloodiness, cruelty, and cannitaste has rendered many of the navigators less balism, his picture is darker than that of discriminating, and perhaps less impartial most other men. With that instinctive judgthan might be wished. It has been reserved ment of character which they possess, they for Captain Erskine to exhibit the fullest and have quickly seen that Europeans hold cannimost interesting account of these islands since balism in abhorrence, and have denied or the great circumnavigator first described them. softened the circumstances of the practice. The object of the voyage and the change of The residence of the missionaries and other circumstances may be noted as advantages white men amongst them has enabled inore in Captain Erskine’s favor; but opportunities information to be acquired about the real are useless to those who cannot use them. The cruise was one of the first of its kind; there appears no reason for doubt
facts of the case. If truly reported -- and
- a dinner being intended as a sort of judicial circuit. of human flesh in some of the islands seems Owing in part to the cupidity and treachery as common a thing as game in Europe ; and of the islanders, but a good deal more to the the more unsophisticated justify the practice unprincipled and brutal character of whalers on the plea of the want of the larger animals and other traders in these seas, the massacre which Europeans have got. In the interior
even of the Feejee Islands, and on state * Journal of a Cruise among the Islands of the occasions, there are regular sacrificial feasts. Western Pacific, including the Feejees and others Like other national customs, man-eating exinhabited by the Polynesian Negro Races, in her ists without injury to individual character Majesty's Ship Ilavannah. By John Elphinstone Erskine, Capt. R. N. With Maps and Plates. beyond the range of its own effects.
Navindi, Published by Murray.
one of the mildest-mannered and most respect
able of the Feejeean chiefs, not very long who could not understand why we should throw before Captain Erskine's arrival went out to away articles which appeared to him of great procure victims, as they ran short for the value, when such common utensils as those he ceremony, and by means of a skilsul ambush had given to me were at hand. In spite of our kidnapped fourteen women. Their cruelty, efforts to keep ourselves awake, we were all as indifferent as that of ignorant children heartily tired before we reached the ship at towards animals, is horrible as described. eleven o'clock. Our Feejeean friends were asSuperstitious usage is at the bottom of much tonished at her size, the effect of which was inof their barbarism, though sometimes it may side seemed for a moment to lose their seif-pos
creased by the starlight, and on mounting the save life.
session, crouching under the bulwark, apparently The former Queen of Rewa, whose husband afraid to advance further. Having been ins had been put to death during the war, was formed, in answer to their anxious inquiries, pointed out to us at a neighboring house ; she that every person in the ship had been ordered was a half-sister to Thakombau, and had escaped to treat them as friends, they became reässured, the usual death awarded to widows, in conse- and descended to the cabin, where mats were quence of there being present no chief of higher prepared for their beds, and a space screened in rank than herself to perform the duty of strangu- for their occupation. Their curiosity getting the lation, which cannot be executed in such a case better of their fears, they proceeded on a cruise by an inferior. This woman, now of middle age about the main deck before repairing to their and very corpulent, bore marks nevertheless of mats; whence I heard them at intervals during the former benuty for which she was celebrated, the night discussing the wonders they had seen, and which may be judged of from the likeness and no doubt speculating on what was forthcomintroduced into Captain Wilke's narrative. Evi- ing on the morrow. dence of the extraordinary bloodthirsty charac
16th August. — Captain Jenner, who slept in ter of this people's institutions met us at every one of the side-cabins, was awoke this morning step. Having pointed out to Mr. Calvert, when by the awful-looking visage of Thakombau, who on the hill, two blocks of stone which had been had begun early to gratify his curiosity by exhewn into rude pillars by apparently on Euro- ploring all the corners of the ship, gazing inpean workman, nearly overgrown with grass, he tently upon him as he lay in his cot. Some of besought me earnestly to take no notice of them ; the officers' pea jackets, which had been inad. adding, afterwards, that they were intended for a vertently handed from the barge into my cabin, monument or mausoleum to the memory of Ta- had afforded him and Navindi the opportunity no:a's father, but that their erection, if ever it of appearing in what they evidently considered should take place, would most certainly be ac- full dress, although the heat of the morning companied by the sacrifice of at least two human caused them to look very uncomfortable, and, victims, it being considered necessary that in soon after breakfast, to lay their adopted clothworks of such a nature, or even in the construc- ing aside. tion of the house of a ruling chief, a man should
În the forenoon we went to quarters, having be buried alive at the foot of each post, to insure previously laid out a target (a hammock, with the stability of the edifice.
the figure of a man painted on it) against the
face of a conspicuous rock on the beach, at a Thakombau, alluded to in the above extract, distance from the ship of 800 yards. Thakomis the most powerful chief in the Feejee bau was evidently in great anxiety until the Islands ; a man of magnificent presence, great firing begin, although he tried to conceal it; resolution, and natural sagacity. There are and, when he saw the smallness of the target, freethinkers among the upper classes even expressed some incredulity as to the possibility at Feejee, and Thakombau is known “fre- of our striking such a mark. I furoished him quently to deride and reprobate many points with a spy-glikss, and placed him on the bowof his people's faith as mere delusions.” sprit, where he was not incommoded by the Policy or babit has prevented hin from smoke, Navindi, Tui Leruka, and one or two of adopting Christianity, though he tolerates the latter's followers being also present. Either the missionaries, and he continues the practice head ; and, our men being in beautiful practice,
the first or second shot struck the figure on the of cannibalism ; in fact, it was by his orders scarcely one missed the rock, and a very few that Navindi carried off the ladies. After re- rounds were sufficient to knock the target to ceiving Captain Erskine, and committing pieces, which was replaced by one or two others the great impropriety (according to Feejeean in quick succession. Even the short time necesideas) of interrupting a speech, when it sary for this was too much for Thakombau's imtouched too closely on cannibalism, he ac- patience, who had now worked himself up into a companied his guest on board the frigate. state of high excitement ; and he begged us not
to wait, pointing out, first, a man on the beach, After he hail dined, the chiefs, observing some and afterwards a canoe with several persons in pistols in the boat, and always pleased to see her, as more worthy our expenditure of ammuthe practice of arms of any description, proposed nition than the inanimate objects we had chosen ; firing at a mark to pass the time. Having evidently considering that his permission would thrown overboard some of our empty bottles for be quite sufficient to satisfy our consciences, and the purpose, I had much to do to save my surprised at our scruples. One or two shells, which specimens of Feejeean pottery from Navindi, burst with great precision, concluded the exhi
bition, which had greatly astonished all the them firewell. A parting request for a bottle chiefs. Thakombau, approaching. Mr. Calvert of brandy was delicately hinted on the part of said, “ This indeed makes me tremble ; I feel no Navindi ; which I granted on condition of its longer secure. Should I offend these people, not being opened on board, where they had they have to bring their ship to Bau, where, already been fully entertained ; and we took having found me out with their long spy-glasses, leave, with many mute professions of friendmy head would full at the first shot!" Not- ship. withstanding these professed fears, he was most On my return to the ship an hour or two afterpressing in his entreaties that I would take the wards, I was therefore not a little surprised at ship to Bau ; being desirous, doubtless, of ex- the scene which presented itself on entering the hibiting his powerful allies to his formidable cabin. On an arm-chair, with his naked feet neighbors of Viti Levu.
resting on another, sat Thakombau, in the At the request of Thakombau I took him on guardman's coat ; his turban, which had now shore to the rock against which our target had been worn for three days without change, dirty been placed, to examine the effects of the shot. and disordered ; whilst a self-satisfied leer on Large fragments had been knocked off, and were his bold features proclaimed that the brandylying on the beach ; some of the shot having bottle, which stood uncorked on the table, had been broken in pieces, and others, which we been too great a temptation to withstand. On dug out, having buried themselves for several the deck, at his feet, sat, each with tumbler in feet into the earth, which filled the fissures. hand, his boon companions, Navindi and Tui He inspected these with a • chuck, chuck” of Levuka, in the finest clothes they had acquired astonishment; which was increased by an old on board ; the group irresistibly reminding one man bringing, a few hours later, a 68-pound of that described in Rob Roy as encountered by shot, which, having glanced along the top of the Mr. Osbaldistone and Baillie Jarvie at thc clachan rock, had fallen into the ditch of the " kolo," of Aberfoil. I pretended to take no notice of the or native village, about a mile distant by the party ; which probably hastened their departbeach, where he had been employed in digging ure in rather an unceremonious manner ; Nahis taro. The old fellow made no complaint, vindi, after corking up the remainder of the although he must have narrowly escaped with brandy, following Thakombau over the quarter his life.
of the ship into his canoe ; where, seated in a At dinner-time the chiefs seemed to have lost chair (the only one he possesses, and tabued for their appetites ; which was explained by the his use), we saw the chief, after they had shoved fact of their having already dined in both the still dressed in uniform, employed in attendgun-room and the midshipmen's birth, feeling, ing the sheet a duty always performed by the as they told some of the officers, more at their principal personage on board, but which I should ease among the young people than at their chief's have hardly thought him in a fit state to undertable. They, however, behaved very well, affect take. ing to praise our cookery and style of living ;
The halo of romance which bangs over and we afteiwards made them several presents the Papuan Archipelago, if New Caledonia in return for those received at Biu. Thakombau seemed somewhat disappointed that I had and the New Hlebrides are included in the no arms or ammunition to supply him with ; but naine, seeins likely to be dissipated on further ample amends were made by Captain Jenner's intimacy. The scenery, as beheld from the gift of a laced scarlet coat and epaulettes, the ship or from a distance, was often bold or full uniform of an officer of the guards, which beautiful ; but the soil does not appear to be exceeded in magnificence anything he had ever fertile, the climate is not healthy, and the seen before, and was put on with great satisfac- inhabitants have all the vices of the western tion. Navindi was gratified at the same time Polynesians without their strength of charwith a scarlet hunting-coat ; and Tui Levuka, acter or the variety and advance of their who had muude great friends with all the officers, social condition. This is a picture from New especially with the midshipmen, and had re- Caledonia :ceived from them many articles of clothing, had also a present of a few trifles allotted to him. We were very civilly received by Basset and
his brother ; who had both visited Sydney and Notwithstanding the highly polished man- spoke a little English, the former sufficiently ners of the Feejee chiefs, their strict atten- well to maintain a conversation tolerably withtion to etiquette, and the high rank of Tha- out the aid of an interpreter. He willingly kombau, he forgot himself before his departure, agreed to our proposal to accompany us for a under strony temptation.
few miles up the river, where he informed us he
had another house, which he would be happy to After Mr. Calvert's departure I became anx- show us ; and as we had not much time to spare, ious to get rid of my visitors, who seemed by no we started immediately, to profit by his invitameans disposed to leave me at leisure. It was tion. Although the weather was not favorable, intimated to them accordingly by Simpson, whom each turn of the river discovered new beauties, I had engiged to accompany us as pilot to Nandi nent, trimly-kept houses, standing often in very and Bau, that as I was going on shore to look at beautiful situations on its banks, with well-consome timber which our people were employed in structed landing-places, and a few trees placed felling (having been bought by Mr. Hannant in regular order on what appeared to be mown from Tui Levuka), I was desirous of wishing I lawns. In one or two places I observed a human
skull on the top of a pole planted in a provision- | the man who was to be buried. The old man, ground ; and was assured by Basset that they his father, began digging his grave, while his were the heads of friends preserved as a memento. mother assisted her son in putting on a new tapa, As the chief, however, looked somewhat con- and the girl (his sister) was besmearing him fused on giving me this explanation, I was in- with vermilion and lamp-black, so as to send duced to make further inquiry ; and found they him decent into the invisible world, he (the were the heads of persons, generally women, victim) delivering messages that were to be who had been caught in the act of breaking the taken hy his sister to people then absent. His “ tabu,” which, for the purpose of encouraging father then announced to him and the rest that other cultivation, is periodically placed on the the grave was completed, and asked him, in cocoa-nuts. From all we see, it is evident that rather a surly tone, if he was not ready by this this part of the country is not generally fertile ; time. The mother then nosed him, and likewise but a degree of pains seems to be taken in its the sister. He said, before I die I should like a cultivation that I never expected to see among drink of water. His father made a surly resavages. The face of the hills above the river mark, and said, as he ran to fetch it in a leaf is covered with rectangular fields, surrounded doubled up, “ You have been a considerable by channels for irrigation, which, as far as can trouble during your life, and it appears that 'be seen from below, is conducted on a careful you are going to trouble us equally at your and scientific system, levels being carried from death." The father returned with the water, the streams, which at this season of the year which the son drank off, and then looked up afterwards flow into the river at intervals of a into a tree covered with tough vines, saying he quarter of a mile.
should prefer being strangled with a vine to
being smothered in the grave. His father beAppended to Captain Erskine's narrative came excessively angry, and, spreading the is an account of the Feejeeans by a seaman mat at the bottom of the grave, told the son to of the name of Jackson, who resided among die “faka tamaka” (like a man), when he thein for two years. He was employed by stepped into the grave, which was not more than the captain as interpreter, and at his wish four feet deep, and lay down on his back with wrote down in his intervals of leisure an the whale's tooth in his hands, which were clasped account of his experiences among that people. across his belly. The spare sides of the mats Jackson appears to have been of a respectable from getting to his body, and then about a foot
were lapped over him so as to prevent the earth yeoman's family in Sussex, with more educa- of earth was shovelled in upon him as quickly as tion than belongs to the generality of common possible. His father stamped it immediately sailors. His narrative is curious, minute, down solid, and called out in a loud voice, “ Sa and exhibitive of the daily life of the people. tiko, sa tiko” (You are stopping there, you are It has also an autobiographical interest, as stopping there), meaning “Good by, Good by.” showing the strange variety of scenes the The son answered with a very audible grunt, European adventurers or deserters go through and then about two feet more earth were shovelled in the South Sea.
in and stamped as before by the loving father, We will quote from this part one passage and Sa tiko called out again, which was answered describing a burial alive. A young man was by another grunt, but much fainter. ailing; he had lost his appetite, and fearing to grave was then completely filled up, when, for be reproached by the Feejee beauties for be- curiosity's sake, I said myself, Sa tiko, but no ing a skeleton - shame being an unendurable answer was given, although I fancied or really emotion — resolved to be buried alive. Jack- did see the earth crack a little on the top of the son tried to dissuade him from the sacrifice back to back on the middle of the grave, and,
grave. in vain, and the scene now to be described having dropped some kind of leaves from their followed :
The father and mother then turned
| hands, walked away in opposite directions towards a running stream of water hard by, where they
and all the rest washed themselves, and made By this time all his relations had collected me wash myself, and then we returned to the round the door. His father had a kind of wooden town, where there was a feast prepared. As spade to dig the grave with, his mother had a
soon as the feast was over (it being then dark), new suit of tapa, his sister some vermilion and began the dance and uproar which are always d whale's tooth, as an introduction to the great carried on either at natural or violent deaths. god of Rage-Rage. He arose, took up his bed | All classes then give themselves up to excess, and walked, not for life but for death, his father, especially at unnatural deaths of this sort, and mother, and sister following after, with several create a manner of uproar by means of large other distant relations, whom I accompanied. bamboos, trumpet-shells, &c., which will conI noticed that they seemed to follow him some tribute to the general noise which is considered thing in the same way that they follow a corpse requisite to drive the spirit away and deter him in Europe to the grave (that is, as far as rel.ition from desiring to dwell or even hover about his ship and acquaintance are concerned), but, in- late residence. stead of lamenting, they were, if not rejoicing, acting and chatting in a very unconcerned way. At last we reached a place where several graves They cannot be on the best terms with God could be seen, and a spot was soon selected by I who are always quarrelling with mankind.
A FEEJEE LIVING INTERMENT.
But since her marriage she had undergone
a great change - superficially at least. She Ir Lady Lee had been that exceedingly no longer showed the bright enthusiasm, thạ disagreeable character, a perfect pattern of a repressed hopefulness, that had characterized woman, so often met with in the pages of her of yore. Jumping too quickly, as ladies romance, so seldom, fortunately, in real life, sometimes do, at a conclusion, she had long I need hardly say these portions of her history ago settled it in her own mind that, having would never have been chronicled. She had failed to realize in her husband the hero of a vast number of charming little womanly her imagination, that ideal personage must failings — would give way to pique, vanity, be an absurd nonentity, to be banished forever prejudice was liable to be influenced by all from the precincts of her thoughts. In her manner of unreasonable reasons, such as early widowhood she mourued for Sir Joseph rank high in the feminine code of logic, in a calm religious way, and took to going to though they could not stand for a moment church many times a-week, bought up all the against Archbishop Whately - was petulant, sermons that she saw advertised for publicasometimes wilful, and perhaps capable of be- tion (doing horrible violence to her taste by stowing affection without first inquiring | persisting in perusing thein), and betame a whether the object was deserving of it, being Lady Bountiful to the villagers. Then she quite as likely to be influenced by her taste as dropped down gently from religion to science, her judgment. So I would warn those readers and studied chemistry, geology, and botany, who, with their tastes depraved by a long though none very deeply; - shuddered over course of didactic fiction, expect to find her, the Vestiges of Creation, revered Hugh Miller, perhaps, a model for the Widows of England, and pretended to admire Doctor Paley, whose that she has none of those pernicious excel- Natural Theology she found entirely convinclences which would qualify her for the honor. ing on points of which she had never enterAny of those approved and respectable heroines tained any doubt. In fact, she knew quite as who so often refrigerate the reader with vis- much about science as, some people think, a ions of unattainable merit, and make him woman need or ought- enough to give her a shudder at the idea of the possibility of tak- new interest in the world she lived in, and to ing such a bundle of virtues to his bosom, enable her to talk agreeably, though superfiwould have found her full of blemishes. cially, on the subjects of her studies. She Dear Lady Lee! like England, with all thy did n't think much for herself on these subfaults I love thee still — neither of you are jects -- few wonnen do, perhaps ; and when the worse for a little uncertainty of atmos- they do, they had better have let it alone in phere. Yet how should I have been forced to nine cases out of ten — (no offence, ladies !) nip and prune thee, and cocker thee up, badst - but she was quite capable of appreciating thou been that responsible being, the heroine and appropriating the best thoughts of others. of a tale with a moral ; but, thank Heaven! Thus she had gone on accumulating ideas and mine has none that I know of. Moral, God knowledge, which gave solidity to her more bless you, sir, I've none to tell! And I'm exclusively feminine accomplishments, and not sorry for it, either though I observe had qualified herself for being eminently comthat writers, now-a-days, think so much of panionable. There was something extremely their moral, that, when they have not suffi- piquant in hearing the same voice that had cient leisure or art to embody it, they tack on just charmed you with the brilliant delivery an essay to the beginning or end of a chapter, of a difficult song, or the exquisite grace of a for fear they should miss their aim — where simple one, discourse most excellent music it looks like a red elbow or horny toe pro- on the Old Red Sandstone and primary formtruding through the finery that clothes the ations. But shortly before the opening of rest of the design. For this reason many our story she had abated in zeal for these devoted novel-readers have begun to taste matters ; she had become rather indolent, fiction of late with a mixture of longing and and given to speculate on why she was born, distrust from the same cause which makes and what was her business in this world, and us, for many years previous to adolescence, the like improving themes, customary with suspect a latent dose in every spoonful of dissatisfied philosophers. If I might venture pleasant insidious raspberry jam.
to guess at the cause of this dissatisfaction, I Lady Lee had sorrowed sincerely for Sir pronounce it to be the emptiness of her heart. Joseph. She was affectionate by nature ; All sorts of loving capabilities, fit to make an and the baronet had been so dotingly, so inexhaustible paradise for a lover worthy of reverentially fond of her, and had displayed them, were running to waste, and caused her his fondness in so many acts of generosity and daily amusements to sound hollow to the ear thoughtfulness, that she must have been both of her fancy. hard-hearted and ungrateful to have speedily But it must have been her own fault, you forgotten him, whereas she was far from will say, when I tell you she had had lovers being either.
enough since Sir Joseph's death. There was