Sidor som bilder

scenery of those luxuriant plains, and, if possible, adding to their fertility and beauty.

Nor are these islands devoid of lakes. Between the declivities of one of the mountains in the dis. trict of Byeorde, is a lake of excellent fresh water, and around its banks are many dwellings, where the inhabitants enjoy plenty of every thing, except the bread-fruit, for which they substitute the moun. tain plantain. This lake issues forth with a pleasant flow into the valley, and greatly enriches the circumjacent scenery.

These islands for the most part are encircled with bays and creeks, and some are favoured with excellent harbours, where vessels may safely rest. These render commerce both practicable and easy; and' the time may not be very distant, when in these harbours the produce of Europe shall be exchanged for the improved produce of these highlyfavoured islands.

Bread-fruit, cocoa nuts, bananas, sweet potatoes, yams, juniper, sugar-cane, the paper mulberry, and several sorts of figs, are natural and almost spontaneous productions. The mountain sloe-tree, the plantain-tree, the precious sandal-tree, and many others, also flourish in all their beautiful verdure. And if these arrive at such perfection in their present state, what would they not under the fostering hand of cultivation? Nor can it be doubted, that the fertile valleys which border the coasts might produce sugar-cane in equal perfection to any in those places where it proves such a profitable article. And how pleasant to humanity would it be to see these planted, cultivated, and manufactured by the natives, rather than by these poor unhappy partners of human nature who groan under the lash in the West-India islands,

VOL. X.,


The climate of these islands considering their latitude is very temperate, to which the elevation of the greater part of them may probably contribute.

The seasons are variable; for in some islands the

crop is some months earlier than in others; but in all, they merit the appellation of favorable. In this the kindness of the Ruler of the universe is peculiarly obvious; because the untutored state of the human mind in these regions is unqualified to combat the hardships of unfavourable seasons, or to provide against the direful consequences.

Besides the domesticated animals, which aid in feeding the inhabitants, the winged tribe is very

Nor are these confined merely to the tame race, but widely extended to many wild fowl, which the ingenuity of the inhabitants, even in their uncultivated slate, find means to convert to substantial use. Hogs, dogs, and poultry com- . pose

their tame animals; and wild-ducks, pigeons, parroquets, doves, woodpeckers, with a vast mul. titude unknown in the northern world, compose their wild race. The mountains both sparkle with the beauty of their feathered inhabitants, and re.. sound with the melody of their songs; nor is it easy to describe the sensations of a contemplative European, when he wanders amid such a profusion of natural pleasures.

But the sea also affords her tribute to the Ota. heitcan table. All around the coasts of these different groups of islands, multitudes of fine fish unknown to Europeans play in crowds ; so that when the land withholds her stores, the natives have recourse to the sea ; and thus the year is crowned with plenty, and they pass their days in luxuriant indolence.

In what an eminent degree these facts prepare the way for the civilization and religious instruction of the inhabitants, is sufficiently evident ; because, under proper culture, these spots of the earth would produce food for six times the number of inhabitants. Nay, in addition to all the natural productions of the country, the introduction of the plants of other countries would fully supply the wants of the new settlers, These also might be planted in many parts of that fertile soil, which now lies uncultivated, and wastes its natural vigour in vain. The Indian corn, for instance, which they at present neglect, would produce a crop every three months, and the vines would add greatly to their stock of fruits,



THE inhabitants of the Otaheitean islands are in general of a larger make than the Europeans. Nourished with plenty and fostered in indolence, the human body appears more vigorous and larger. The males are tall, robust, and well proportioned ; and some of them arrive at the height of six feet. Unlike the original inhabitants of America, they have long beards, which they wear in various forms. Their shoulders are broad, and their muscular complexion conveys the idea of strength rather than beauty. Their features are so various, that it is difficult to fix upon'any general likeness which characterises them. They possess what are deemed good eyes and teeth, but the latter are not so well set, nor so. white as among the Indian nations. Few of them, however, have that unpleasant thickness of lips so common to the natives of other islands. The initiatory rite of the Hebrews is generally practised among them from a motive of cleanliness, and they upbraid those who do not adopt this custom. Contrary to the fashion of other countries, the men wear their hair long, and the woo men cut theirs short.

The women are less distiuguished from the men by their features, than by their general form, which is destitute of the strong firmness of the latter. Though the features of some of them be very delicate, and a true index of their sex, yet the rule is not so general as in most other countries. Their shape is usually well proportioned, and some of them are perfect models of a beautiful figure ; but the extraordinary smallness and delicacy of their fingers, forms the most striking distinction of the Otaheitean females.

The women of the higher class are above the size of English ladies, but those of the inferior rank are below the common standard, and some are uncommonly short. The obvious causes of this diversity; are the circumstances in which the latter are placed. The natural complexion is a fine clear olive colour, and the skin delicately smooth and soft. Their faces are in general handsome, and their eyes full of vivacity. Their teeth are remarkably white and regular, their hair usually black, and their breath, in general, is perfectly sweet.

Their dress, like their persons, is widely dif. ferent from that of Europeans. During the dry weather they wear cloth, and in the rainy season inatting ; but no shape is preserved in the pieces,

por are they sewed together. The women of superior rank wear three or four pieces ; one, of a considerable length, they wrap several times around the waist, and allow it to fall down to the middle of the leg. Two or three other short pieces, with a hole cut in each, are placed in one another; and their heads coming through the holes, the long ends are suspended before and be hind, both sides being open; by which means they have the free use of their arms.

A piece of cloth, of the manufacture of the country, is frequently tied round the head in the manner of a turban; and the women plait human hair in a very curious manner into fong strings, which being folded into branches, are sometimes bound by way. of ornament upon their foreheads.

The men dress in a similar manner, differing only in this particular, that one part of the garment, instead of failing below the knees, is brought between the legs. This dress is worn by all ranks, the only distinction consisting in its quality. At noon, both sexes appear almost naked, wearing only a piece of cloth round the middle of their bodies. They shade their faces with a kind of bonnets, constructed of cocoa-nut leaves, which they dexterously weave in a few minutes. Both men and women wear ear-rings on one side, made of shells, stones, berries, and small pearls; the European beads, however, upon their arrival, soon supplanted these. Boys and girls go quite naked, the former to the


of five, and the latter to that of seven or eight. The children soon acquire.strength to walk, and are not long in learning to swim.

All the inhabitants have a singular custom of staining their bodies, by indenting the flesh with

« FöregåendeFortsätt »