Page images

Thus recruited, hope revived; but the absence of food again plunged them into the deepest despair. We need not relate the dreadful alternative to which they had recourse, until several large sharks rose to the surface, and followed the canoe; Tu warri, by breaking off the head of an iron scraper, formed it into a hook, and succeeded in catching one of them, which was instantly substituted for the revolt ing banquet which had hitherto sustained life.

"Thus refreshed, they again worked at their paddles, or spread their sail, and were not long before their exertions were repaid with the joyful sight of land, on which clusters of cocoa-nuts crowned the heads of several tufts of palm-trees; they hurried through the surf, and soon reached the much-wished for spot, but being too feeble to ascend the lofty trees, were obliged to fell one of them with an axe.

"On traversing the island, to which Providence had thus conducted them, they discovered by several canoes in the lagoon, and pathways intersecting the woods, that it had been previously inhabited; and knowing the greater part of the natives of the low islands to be cannibals, they determined to remain no longer upon it than was absolutely necessary to recruit their strength, imagining that the islanders, when they did return, would not rest satisfied with merely dispossessing them of their asylum. It was necessary while they were allowed to remain, to seek shelter from the weather, and to exert themselves in procuring a supply of provisions for their farther voyage; huts were consequently built, pools dug for water, and three canoes added to those which were found in the lake.

"Their situation by these means was rendered tolerably comfortable, and they not only provided themselves with necessaries sufficient for daily consumption, but were able to lay by a considerable quantity of fish for sea stock.

After a

time, finding themselves undisturbed, they gained confidence, and deferied their departure till thirteen months had elapsed from the time of their landing.

At the

expiration of which period, being in good

bodily health, and supplied with neccs

saries for their voyage, they again launch

ed upon the ocean in quest of home. They steered two days and nights to the north-west, and then fell in with a small island, upon which, as it appeared to be uninhabited, they landed, and remained three days, and then resumed their voyage. After a run of a day and a night, they came in sight of another uninhabited island. In their attempt to land upon it, their canoe was unfortunately store;

but all the party got safe on shore. The damage which the vessel had sustained requiring several weeks to repair, they established themselves upon this island, and again commenced storing up provi sions for their voyage. Eight months had already passed in these occupations, when we unexpectedly found them thus encamped upon Byam Martin's Island, with their canoe repaired, and all the necessary stores provided for their next expedition.

"The other two canoes were never heard of."

Tuwarri was, after this, safely restored to his native island, and shewed feelings of gratitude and attachment to those who thus brought him back from his long and painful exile, which raised him highly in their opi


With great judgment, Captain Beechey does not dwell farther on Otaheite-which has been so often and so well described-than is absolutely necessary to point out the changes which have lately taken place, and to detail the events of his own stay. His observations, however, on the efforts of the missionaries, and the consequences of the present system of biblical instruction, are conceived in a spirit of kindness and liberality, guided by strong good sense, which does high honour to himself, and may do infinite good, if those engaged in the propagation of the gospel will but attend to the remonstrances of one who evidently wishes them the most complete success. Nothing requires more care in examining, and more cool judgment in deciding, than the choice of persons to be sent out amongst an uncivilized people for the purpose of communicating to them a new religion, in which the spirit is all, and the forms are really nothing. It is much to be feared, that amongst the islanders of the been, not perhaps more taught, but South Sea, forms and words have certainly more learnt, than the essence or spirit. This Captain Beechey's observations tend to shew, but still more the simple facts which he narrates. The great care of all engaged in sending missionaries to the South Seas, should be against fanaticism; because it is the natural, and unhappily too frequent, disease of that noble and self-devoting zeal which first prompts the missionary to his

arduous task-because it is the bane of all his efforts and because, instead of implanting good in the savage mind he goes to teach, it invariably produces evil. Zeal will never be wanting in men who abandon home, and all home's ties, for the purpose of diffusing light and civilisation amongst the dark and barbarous; the great requisite in those that send and those that go, is good sense.

From the group of which Otaheite forms the chief, the Blossom proceeded to the Sandwich Islands; and the comparison between the two is treated by Captain Beechey in a most able and masterly manner. The rapid advances of the Sandwich islanders towards civilisation, and the causes, are displayed, while the narrative of the ship's proceedings goes on uninterrupted, without the least pretence of deep views or fine reasoning. All is simple, natural, and easy; and the mind of the reader is gradually led on from facts to conclusions, without being whipped into conviction by logic, or insulted by dogmatism. The details, too, of manners, customs, and scenes (which Captain Beechey gives wherever any thing new was to be portrayed) are always vivid, clear, and interesting, and fill the whole pages with spirit and activity.

The time now began to approach appointed for his presence in Kotzebue Sound; and, sailing onwards towards the Pole, he left behind him the happy climate and smiling islands of the south, and in a wonderfully short time plunged into the midst of snows and everlasting ice. On the eve of the first of June, the Blossom left the Tropic, and, on the 27th of the same month, she was at Kamschatka. How her crew must have felt such a change can only be imagined from the bare fact. Captain Beechey wisely gives no description; but the sudden transition, within three pages, from the sunny valleys and groves of palm, the smile and the light, the lovely scenes and rich productions of the south, to icebergs and frozen cliffs, skin-covered Esquimaux, and fossil elephants, is the most extraordinary that can be conceived, and really reminds one of the Icelandic idea of the punishment of sinful souls, which are supposed to be made red hot in Hecla, and then

plunged into the snows which_surround that mountain. Here, however, some of the most interesting parts of Captain Beechey's voyage commenced; and the tracking up the western coast of America, as far as latitude 71° 23′ 31′′ north, longitude 145o 21' 30" west, will make the expedition memorable for ever as one which has added immensely to our knowledge of this earth that we inhabit. Only 146 miles of the coast of America now remain to be exploredthe probabilities of a north-west passage are greatly increased-the hypothesis is plausible of a gradual diminution of the ice of the polar regions, which would render that passage available; and surely all these circumstances may well encourage the hope, that an enterprise which has called forth the energies of so many distinguished men, and obtained many important results even in the attempt, will not be abandoned at a moment when success is likely, and certainty may, at all events, be ensured. Had the Blossom been ordered to Kotzebue Sound one fortnight earlier in the year, had she possessed any means of equipping a land expedition, even for a short journey, Captain Franklin might have been met, and the great geographical problem would have been solved. Let us hope that such a plan may still be adopted, and that, by combined efforts on both sides of the continent, the end may still be obtained. In regard to this part of the voyage, no extracts can be made. The whole is interesting in the highest degree, but it must be read as a whole.

After waiting as long as his instructions permitted, Captain Beechey gave up the hope of meeting Captain Franklin, and once more turned towards the south. Pursuing his survey through many parts of the northern Pacific, he at length reached California; where, during his stay for the purpose of procuring supplies, he obtained an immense mass of information concerning a country very little known. The extraordinary neglect of the Spanish government, in regard to an extensive and fertile dependency, blessed with a delightful climate and a rich productive soil, first calls Captain Beechey's attention; and, indeed, it is a curious

and lamentable fact, that, while the thronged population of Europe offers really no prospect but plague, battle, or famine, a beautiful, salubrious, and prolific land should be left comparatively uninhabited or forgotten. The account of the government and the missions of Spanish priests is amusing, shrewd, and even humorous; while underneath the surface is much matter for reflection and regret. The description, however, of the Indians of that part of America—a race very different from the Mexicans, the Peruvians, or, in fact, any of the other tribes either to the north or southmust be noticed more particularly.

"Like the Arabs and other wandering tribes, these people [the Indians] move about the country, and pitch their tents wherever they find a convenient place, keeping, however, within their own dis



as much as possible; for which purpose
he generally selects places which are
This stra-
overgrown with long grass.
tagem seldom fails to entice several of
the herd within reach of his arrows, which
are frequently sent with unerring aim to
the heart of the animal, and he falls with-
out alarming the herd; but if the aim
should fail, or only wound its intended
victim, the whole herd is immediately put
to flight."

They cultivate no land, and subsist entirely by the chase, and upon the spontaneous produce of the earth. Acorns, of which there is great abundance in the country, constitute their principal vegetable food. In the proper season they procure a supply of these, bake them, and then bruise them between two stones into a paste, which will keep until the following season. The paste, before it is dried, is subjected to several washings in a sieve, which, they say, deprives it of the bitter taste common to the acorn. We cannot but remark the great resemblance this custom bears to the method adopted by the South Sea islanders to keep their bread-fruit; nor ought we to fail to notice the manner in which Providence points out to the different tribes the same wise means of preserving their food, and providing against a season of scarcity.

"The country inhabited by the Indians abounds in game, and the rivers in fish; and those tribes which inhabit the seacoast, make use of mussels and other shell-fish, of which the Haliotis gigantea is the most abundant. In the chase they are very expert, and avail themselves of a variety of devices to ensnare and decoy their game. The artifice of deceiving the deer, by placing a head of the animal upon their shoulders, is very successfully practised by them. To do this, they fit the head and horns of a deer upon the head of a huntsman, the rest of his body being painted to resemble the colour of a deer. Thus disguised, the Indian sallies forth equipped with his bow and arrows, approaches the pasture of the deer, whose actions and voice he then endeavours to imitate, taking care to conceal his body

Various stratagems are also detailed by which the Indians provide themselves with wild fowl; after which Captain Beechey proceeds:

"The occupation of the men consists principally in providing for their support, and in constructing the necessary implements for the chase, and for their own defence. The women attend to their domestic concerns, and work a variety of baskets and ornamental parts of their dress, some of which are very ingenious, and all extremely laborious. Their closely wove baskets are not only capable of containing water, but are used for cooking their meals. A number of small scarlet feathers of the Oriolus phaniceus are wove in with the wood, and completely screen it from view on the outside; and to the rim are affixed small black crests of the Californian partridges, of which birds a hundred brace are required to decorate one basket-they are otherwise ornamented with beads and pieces of motherof-pearl. They also embroider belts very beautifully with feathers of different colours, and they work with remarkable neatness, making use of the young quills of the porcupine in a similar manner to the Canadian Indians; but here they manufacture a fine cloth for the ground, whereas the Canadians have only the bark of the birch-tree. They also manufacture caps and dresses for their chiefs, which are extremely beautiful; and they have a great many other feathered ornaments, which it would be stepping beyond the limits of my work to describe.

"The stature of the Indians, which we saw in the Missions, was by no means diminutive. The Alchones are of good height, and the Tuluraios were thought to be generally above the standard of Englishmen. Their complexion is much darker than that of the South-sea Islanders, and their features far inferior in beauty. In their persons, they are extremely dirty, particularly their heads, which are so thatched with wiry black hair, that it is only by separating the locks with the hand, that it can be got at for the purpose of cleanliness. Many are seen performing such acts of kindness upon their intimate friends; and, as the

[ocr errors]

readiest means of disposing of what they find, consuming it in the manner practised by the Tartars, who, according to Hakluyt, cleanse one another's heades, and ever as thei take an animal do eate her, saeing, thus will I doe to our enemies.'

"Their bodies are, in general, very scantily clothed, and in summer many go entirely naked. The women, however, wear a deer skin, or some other covering about their loins; but skin dresses are not common among any of the tribes concerning whom we could procure any information. The women are fond of ornaments, and suspend beads and buttons about their persons, while to their ears they attach long wooden cylinders, variously carved, which serve the double purpose of ear-rings and needle-cases.

"Tattooing is practised in these tribes by both sexes, both to ornament the person, and to distinguish one clan from the other. It is remarkable that the women mark their chins precisely in the same way as the Esquimaux.

"The tribes are frequently at war with each other, often in consequence of trespasses upon their territory and property; and weak tribes are sometimes wholly annihilated, or obliged to associate themselves with those of their conquerors; but such is their warmth of passion and desire of revenge, that very little humanity is in general shewn to those who fall into their power. Their weapons consist only of bows and arrows: neither the tomahawk nor the spear is ever seen in their hands. Their bows are elegantly and ingeniously constructed, and, if kept dry, will discharge an arrow to a considerable distance. They resemble those of the Esquimaux, being strengthened by sinews at the back of the bow, but here one sinew, the size of the wood, occupies the whole extent of the back, and embraces the ends, where they are turned back to receive the strings; the sinew is fixed to the bow while wet, and, as it becomes dry, draws it back the reverse way to that in which it is intended to be used. The Indian

manner of stringing these bows is precisely similar to that practised by the lovers of archery in England; but it requires greater skill and strength, in consequence of the increased curvature of the bow, and the resistance of the sinew.

“The religion of all the tribes is idolatrous. The Olchone, who inhabit the sea-coast between San Francisco and

Monterey, worship the sun, and believe in the existence of a beneficent and an evil spirit, whom they occasionally attempt to propitiate. Their ideas of a future state are very confined; when a person dies,


they adorn the corpse with feathers, flowers, and beads, and place with it a bow and arrows; they then extend it upon a pile of wood, and burn it amidst the shouts of the spectators, who wish the soul a pleasant journey to its new abode, which they suppose to be a country in the direction of the setting sun. Like most other nations, these people have a tradition of the Deluge: they believe also that their tribes originally came from the north.

"The Indians in their wild state are said to be more healthy than those which have entered the missions. They have simple remedies, derived from certain medicinal herbs, with the properties of which they have previously made themselves acquainted. Some of these roots are useful as emetics, and are administered in cases of sickness of the stomach they also apply cataplasms to diseased parts of the body, and practise phlebotomy very generally, using the right arm for the purpose when the body is affected, and the left when the limbs. But the temiscal is the grand remedy for most of their diseases.

"The very great care taken of all who are affected with any disease ought not to be allowed to escape a remark. When any of their relations are indisposed, the greatest attention is paid to their wants; and it was remarked by Padre Arroyo, that filial affection is stronger in these tribes than in any civilized nation on the globe with which he was acquainted."

From California the Blossom proceeded once more to the Sandwich Islands, and thence was obliged, by want of proper medicines and supplies, to proceed to China, where her captain and crew were subject to the usual insolence of the Chinese authorities. Loo Choo is the next point of great interest at which Captain Beechey touched; and though Captain Hall has written well and at large upon that interesting group, the visit of the Blossom will be read

with infinite pleasure. The character of the Chinese, softened and ameliorated in the Loochooan, is well and ably depicted, and all the fine and amusing absurdities of a vain, weak, crafty nation, are touched with a light and masterly hand. Much valuable information also is communicated-information obtained by observation of the manners of the people, not by conversation with them, for it appears that the worthy natives of Napakang and its vicinity


taken without much selection, and instead of being choice sentences, which stand well alone, are rather injured than improved by being disjoined from the narrative. In the course of these, however, various errors of composition are observable; and did the merits of this work depend upon the accuracy of style, more than one fault would have to be remarked, which are now completely forgotten in a mass of information, interest, and amusement, such as few works of any day can boast, These faults, indeed, are noticed here only because they are of a kind which Captain Beechey could easily avoid, and would certainly have avoided, had he been more habituated to literary composition. Long sentences, which for perspicuity should have been divided into two or three short ones, and the frequent heedless recurrence of the same word, and the same form of expression; these are the chief errors of style, and these might easily be altered. In the whole book there is only one brief passage- -a few pages-which is in the least degree tedious. This is the chronicle of the Kings of Loo Choo. Doubtless its insertion in some part of the work was necessary, but it would have been better in the Appendix. Having said thus much, the faults-which but little influence the pleasure afforded by the book-are sufficiently noticed; but to point out all that is excellent and admirable in the work, would require far more space than any review can grant. We know of no officer that ever sailed, who has displayed greater faculties of observation than Captain Beechey. Wherever he touches, whatever he describes, all that can interest, or amuse, or benefit, is seized at once, nor does any one possess a greater power of presenting a complete picture to the mind of the reader. At the same time, his observations on what he sees are replete with that choice rare gift, good sense-and, though ventured sparingly and modestly, are firm and just. It is difficult for a commander to write a long account of an expedition conducted by himself, without some degree of egotism; but little of it is discoverable in this book; and throughout the whole, the great desire of giving full praise to his offi

are the most egregious liars that the world ever produced. Other nearly unknown islands were still to be visited, and really nature, in forming the Bonin Isles, to which the Blossom next steered her course, seems to have drawn from all her stores with the most bountiful and

decorating hand. We can easily imagine two seamen, willingly remaining behind in such a brilliant and favoured spot, after a long and tedious voyage over the broad uncertain sea, hoping there to find that rest and peace which is the universal aspiration of all mankind. Two such men were met by Captain Beechey, on his arrival at the chief of the Bonin Islands, or Yslas del Arzobispo. The trading vessel in which they had been seamen was casually wrecked on the island, but a new ship had been constructed by their companions, who had steered back for Europe. Such, however, was the effect of the climate and the scene upon these two men, that at their own desire they were left behind, filled probably with as bright imaginations of an earthly paradise as ever dazzled the eyes of any inexperienced child, whom this schoolmaster world has never whipped from any of youth's idle dreams.

It appears, however, that after Captain Beechey went away, habit, solitude, and monotony, dispelled the vision, and that they sought and found the means of returning to Europe, leaving the island stored with hogs, which the writer thinks likely to do great harm to the vegetable productions of the place,-much more valuable in those latitudes than the best pigs that ever became bacon. At the same time, plenty of animal food was to be found there already; for, in addition to manifold sorts of fowl and fish in various sandy bays, "the green turtle are sometimes so numerous that they quite hide the colour of the shore." What a punishment for a Lord Mayor's cook, who had mismanaged a dish of fins, to set him on shore on that island without his utensils for cooking!

But this long-drawn article must now be closed. A high opinion has been expressed of the merits of this book, and copious extracts have been inserted, in order to justify that opinion. The passages cited have been

« PreviousContinue »