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laws of the country, forfeited their lives, and have nothing to redeem them; and such will generally be found among the lower class of people,
i The man of whom I made these inquiries, as well as some others, took some pains to explain the whole of this custom to us; but we were not masters enough of their language to understand them. I have since learnt from Omai, that they offer human facrifices to the Supreme Being. According to his account, what men sall be so facrificed, depends on the caprice of the high priest, who, when they are assembled on any folemn occasion, retires alone into the house of God, and stays there some time. When he comes out, he informs them, that he has seen and conversed with their great God (the high priest alone having that privilege) and that he has asked for a human facrifice, and tells them that he has desired such a person, naming å man present, whom most probably the priest has an antipathy against. He is immediately killed, and so falls a victim to the priest's relentment, who, no doubt, : (if neceflary) has address enough to persuade the people that he was a bad man. If I except their funeral ceremonies, all the knowledge that has been obtained of their religion, has been from information; and as, their language is but imperfectly understood, even by those who prea , tend to the greatest knowledge of it, very little on this head is yet, known with certainty.
6 The liquor which they make from the plant called Ava ava, is expressed from the root, and not from the leaves, as mentioned in the narrative of my former voyage. The manner of preparing this liquor is as fimple as it inutt be disgusting to an European. It is thus : several people take some of the root and chew it till it is soft and pulpy; then chey (pit it out into a platter or other vessel, every one into the same ; when a sufficient quantity is cbewed, more or less water is put to it, according as it is to be strong or weak; the juice, thus diluted, is strained through some fibrous stuff like tine savings ; after which it is fit for drinking, and this is always done immediately. It has a pepperish taste, drinks flat and rather infipid. But though it is intoxicating, I saw only one instance where it had that effect; as they generally drink it with great moderation, and but little at a time. Sometimes they chew this root in their mouths, as Europeans do tobacco, and swallow their spittle ; and sometimes I have seen them eat it wholly.
46 At Ulietea chey cultivate great quantities of this plant. At Otaheite but very little. I believe there are but few islands in this fea, that do not produce more or less of it; and the natives apply it to the fame use, as appears by Le Mair's account of Horn Ifand, wherein he speaks of the natives making a liquor from a plant in the same manner as above mentioned. .
." Great injustice has been done to the women of Otaheite, and the Society Ilies, by those who have represented them, without exception, as ready to grant the last favour to any man who will come up to their price. . But this is by no means the cafe ; the favours of married women, and allo the unmarried of the better fort, are as difficult to be obtained here, as in any other country whatever. Neither can the charge be understood indiscriminately of the unmarried of the lower class, for many of these admit of no such familiarities. That there
are profticutes here, as well as in other countries, is very true, perhapg more in proportion, and such were those who came on board the tips to our people, and frequented the post we had on shore. By seeing these mix indiscriminately with those of a ditferent turn, even of the first rank, one is, at first, inclined to think that they are all difposed the same way, and that the only difference is in the price. But the truth is, the woman who becomes a proftitute, does not leem, in their opinion, to have committed a crime of so deep a dye as to exa elude her from the esteern and society of the community in general. On the whole, a stränger who visits England might, with equal justice, draw the characters of the women there, from those which he might meet with on board the ships in one of the naval ports, or in the Durlieus of Covent-Garden and Drury-Lare, I must, however, allow that they are all completely versed in the art of coquetry, and that very fesy of them fix any bounds to their conversation. It is, thereforé, no wonder that they have obtained the character of libertines.”
In the general Introduction, containing a very concise account of former circumnavigations, Captain Cook takes an opportunity to retract what he had afferted, in his first voyage, relative to the inhabitants of the Island of St. Helena ; in contradiction to which, he now fays, they are far from exercifing a wanton cruelty over their flaves; and they have had wheel-carriages and porters knots for many years.-On this occasion we cannot help observing that, as it becoines, travelfers to be very cautious of too hastily forming notions of men and things, of which they have time only to make a cursory observation: fo nothing is more commendable in them than such open and ingenuous confession of their mistake when they are themselves undeceived.
Biographia Literaria ; 'or, a Biographical History of Literature:
containing the Lives of English, Scotish, and Irish Autbors, from
the Dawn of Letters in these Kingdoms to the present Time, chrom . mologically and classically arranged. By John Berkenhout, M.D.
410. lås. Dodíley. : Dr. Berkenhout, to whom the Public is indebted for several ingenious publications *, besides those in the line of his profeffion, hath here published the first volume of a work, which has not only been had in private contemplation by many other writers, but hath been more than once publicly hinted at, as a
. * Particularly an elegant translation of Count Teffin's Letters to the King of Sweden. Dr. B, if we are rightly informed, had alfo' no inconfi. derable hand in our colleague's (Dr. K's] celebrated vertion of Rousseau's Eloiia. Various also, we are told, arc his original tracts, interspersed anoeymoudy in our numerous periodical publications,
defideratum in Englith Literature. Certain it is that the chronological method, of disposing the several objects of the biographer, has a very obvious advantage over the alphabetical inethod of arrangement: a history of writers according to thic former, conftituting at once a history of the language and literature of their country. In like manner, the classical division, into different branches of arts and science, displays the gradual improvement and present state of each. A well-executed performance on this plan, therefore, cannot fail of being acceptable to the public. Before we speak of the work itself, howcver, we must beg leave to take notice of its Preface; in which the author judiciously prepares the reader for the perusal of what follows. As an apology, which we think at the fame time unnecessary, for the undertaking, Dr. Berkenhout gives us the following sketch of his literary turn and disposition. ;
" The principle of variety, which so universally pervades that atom of the creation with which we are acquainted, is not more conspicuous in our faces than in our diffimilar pursuits of felicity or pleasure : Quot capitum vivunt tatidem ftudiorum
HOR. Sat. « Horace was fo forcibly struck with this general diversity of inclination, that, besides casual repetitions in various parts of his works, he has made it the principal subject of his first ode, his first satire, and his first epittle. But the human fpecies is not more obviously charac. terised in the diversity of our propenfities and purfuits, than in the bizarrerie, che whimsical absurdity, of those propenfities.
“ That one man Thould delight in Olympic dust, another in power, a third in wealth, is quite natural; that some men hould be pleased with crowns of laurel, some with crowns of ivy, and others wirk frowns of thorns, is not at all lurprising ; that cards and masquerades ihould be the universal amusement of the present molt rational generasion, excites no wonder: these are philofophical pursuits, and worthy of that reason in which we boast our distinction from the brute creation. But what plea can be urged in excuse for a man, who, in this age of bon ton, should find real amusement in turning over a parcel of old musty books? Such a man, however, is the author of thele volumes of Literary Biography; the compilation of which hath, for many years palt, been the amusement of his hours of leisure and relaxation. To this ftrange species of luxury he hath generally appropriated thofe hours of the day, or rather nighs, when the pleasures of high life begin, and men of businets usually indulge in a focal cetration from labour.
" In ebis land of universal freedom, it were unjust it authors alone were molested in the choice of their hobby-horse; but when that hobby-horfe is obtruded on the public, the public have doubtless à right to expect some apparent utility. Hence it seems incumbent on every author to thew, that there is either novelty, or, at least, a comparative degree of excellence, in his matter, his manner, or his
With this design Dr. Berkenhout takes a review of former literary biographers, beginning with Boston, the monk of St. Edmund's Bury in the 15th century, and ending with the Companion to the Playhouse in 1764; which, he says, contains a better and more comprehensive account of our dramatic poets and their works, than any other book in the English language. . After this review of writers of literary memoirs, our author proceeds to take a view of the rise and progress of literature in this kingdom. This view commences at so early a period as the Invasion of Britain by Julius Cæsar; although, he justly observes, the history of Letters does not properly commence till several centuries later; all that is related about the learning of the Druids, the priests and prophets of the antient Britons, being legendary and fabulous.-Having given a concise abftract of our literary History to the end of the fifteenth century, our author closes his Preface as follows.
“ Like a traveller who began his journey whilst the sun was yet far beneath the horizon, I rejoice to find myself at last in the daylight of the fixteenth century. There is, I confels, fome pleasure, and perhaps some utility, in tracing the Itream of science to its source: it is nerertheless but a dreary journey, through a dubious country, and with only . now and then the transient light of a Sirius, a Jupiter, a Venus, to guide us on our way. And indeed the most diligent enquirer will find among our English authors, previous to the invention of printing, very few books that will atford him either pleasure or instruction. In the sixteenth century we are dazzled with a multiplicity of authors in various branches of literature. Kings, queens, and many of cur-nobility, honoured the press with their productions. Linacre, in 1519, founded the college of physicians. . Collet, Grocyn, Latimer, and Lilly, revived the learning of Greece and Rome. Spenser, by his example, taught our poets melody. But the reader probably now wishes to dismiss his guide. The writers of this century are too well known to require an officious index. I mult, however, take the liberty to add a few words concerning Shakespeare, whole genius I shall ever contemplate with some degree of enthusiasın. I address myself particularly to the celebrated Monsieur de Voltaire, whose comprebensive abilities and repeated effusions of universal philanthropy, I shall always honour and applaud. As the scourge of sanctified syranny, and the advocate of oppressed innocence; be his opinions what they will, he deserves the thanks of all mankind*. Mr. de Voltaire has more than once, but particularly in a late publicarion, endeavoured to ridicule our enthusiastic admiration of Shakespeare. His opinions are univerJally diffused, and deservedly regarded; it is therefore of importance
* The horrible histories of Calas, Sirven, and Barre, whilft they fix infamy on modern France, and on every form of government capable of suffering such execrable enormitics, cannot fail to reflect a glow of humanity on the name of Voltaire, which must transmit him to posterity in an amiable light. The infernal judges of Calas, Sirven, aad Barre, were pious Christians i Voltaire is an unbeliever!
mo convince hiin of his error: and this I think may be done without attempting to vindicate any of the passages which he has quoted as ridiculous or absurd. The first general objection to Shakespeare, is, his total difreyard of the three unities of time, place, and action. I allow the charge, and am convinced that Shakespeare was perfectly right; because I never saw, or read, a tragedy, or comedy, fettered by these unities, which did not seen improbable, unnatural, and tedious. Can any thing be more ridiculous than to imagine, because the Greeks thought fit to prescribe certain arbitrary rules for the composition of tragedy and comedy, that therefore every other nation, to the end of time, is bound to observe these rules, and precluded from inventing any other species of dramatic entertainment? Many of Shakespeare's' best plays are neither tragedies, nor comedies, but histories, properly · and designedly so called by the first editors of his works; a species of dramatic composition, in which the least regard to these toolish unities would have been absurd. 'A dramatic history, or historical tragedy, is the exhibition of a succeflion of pictures, representing certain interest. ing events in a regular ieries. Every scene is a separate picture, and the real interval of time between each, is of no importance to the spectator. Hogarth's Mariage à la mode is an historical tragedy upon canvas, against which, I presume, no critic will urge the want of the three unities. If Hogarth had painted Shakespeare's history of Hamlet, would he have omitted the obnoxious scene of the grave-diggers ? Or did any man of real taste, fine feelings, and found judgement, ever wilh, in reading Hamlet, that this scene had not been written? The more I consider chele Greek unities, the more I am convinced of their absurdity. It were infinitely better for the English Itage, if their chimerical existence in Nature had never been supposed. Who, that Thould fee a Slingsby dance in chains, would doubt that he would have danced better without them i Was there ever a reader, capable of enjoying Sterne's excentricity, who wished that he had written by rule? Or, to come nearer to the point, was there ever a man of even common understanding, who wished that Shakespeare's ghosts and witches had been facrificed to any rules whatsoever? If thele unities had existed in Nature, Shakespeare was so well acquainted with her, that I trust he would have found them out: but Nature is so far from prefcribing the unities to a dramatic writer, that if he means to accoinplish the principal design of the theatre, amusement, they must be carefully avoided. They were the invention of dullness, and are only leading-strings for puny poetasters. As to some particular scenes, or speeches, which have been ridiculed because they are too low or vulgar for modern delicacy, it is quite sufficient to observe, that they were properly adapted to the taste and manners of at least a part of the audience for whom they were written. This is an argument of so much weight, that it ought for ever to preclude all attempts to ridicule Shakeipeare on that account.
The discerning reader will perceive, from the above quota tion, that Dr. Berkenhout is as heterodox in matters of the Drama as he appears to be in those of Divinity. –We with, for the sake of that reception which we hope his work will meet with from the public, that he had been a little more Vol. V