Sidor som bilder

her a smart blow. Mr. Banks staid in the neigh bouring house an hour, and the operation was not over when he went away."

The sufferings of this young lady did not, however, deter the late president of the Royal Society from undergoing the operation on his own person.


The skill and labour which the Otaheitans bestow on their large double boats is not less wonderful than their stone morais, from the felling of the tree and splitting it into plank, to the minutest carved ornaments that decorate the head and the stern. The whole operation is performed without the use of any metallic instrument. "To fabricate one of their principal vessels with their tools is," says Cook, as great a work as to build a British man of war with ours." The fighting boats are sometimes more than seventy feet long, but not above three broad; but they are fastened in pairs, side by side, at the distance of about three feet; the head and stern rise in a semicircular form, the latter to the height of seventeen or eighteen feet. To build these boats, and the smaller kinds of canoes,-to build their houses, and finish the slight furniture they contain,-to fell, cleave, carve, and polish timber for various purposes,—and, in short, for every conversion of wood,-the tools they make use of are the following: an adze of stone; a chisel or gouge of bone, generally that of a man's arm between the wrist and elbow; a rasp of coral; and the skin of a stingray, with coral sand as a file or polisher.

The persons of the Otaheitan men are in general tall, strong, well-limbed, and finely shaped; equal in size to the largest of Europeans. The women of superior rank are also above the middle stature of Europeans, but the inferior class are rather below it. The complexion of the former class is that which we call a brunette, and the skin is most delicately smooth and soft. The shape of the face is comely, the cheek bones are not high. neither are the eyes

hollow, nor the brow prominent; the nose is a little, but not much, flattened; but their eyes, and more particularly those of the women, are full of expression, sometimes sparkling with fire, and sometimes melting with softness; their teeth also are, almost without exception, most beautifully even and white, and their breath perfectly without taint. In their motions there is at once vigour as well as ease; their walk is graceful, their deportment liberal, and their behaviour to strangers and to each other affable and courteous. In their dispositions they appear to be brave, open, and candid, without suspicion or treachery, cruelty or revenge. Mr. Banks had such confidence in them as to sleep frequently in their houses in the woods without a companion, and consequently wholly in their power. They are delicate and cleanly, almost wholly without example.

"The natives of Otaheite," says Cook, "both men and women, constantly wash their whole bodies in running water three times every day; once as soon as they rise in the morning, once at noon, and again before they sleep at night, whether the sea or river be near them or at a distance. They wash, not only the mouth, but the hands at their meals, almost between every morsel; and their clothes, as well as their persons, are kept without spot or stain."

If any one should think this picture somewhat overcharged, he will find it fully confirmed in an account of them made by gentlemen of the highest respectability. In the first missionary voyage, in the year 1797, the natives of Otaheite are thus described:

"Natural colour olive, inclining to copper; the women, who carefully clothe themselves and avoid the sunbeams, are but a shade or two darker than a European brunette; their eyes are black and sparkling; their teeth white and even; their skin soft and delicate their limbs finely turned; their hair jetty

perfumed and ornamented with flowers; they are in general large and wide over the shoulders; we were therefore disappointed in the judgment we had formed from the report of preceding visiters; and though here and there was to be seen a young person who might be esteemed comely, we saw few who, in fact, could be called beauties; yet they possess eminent feminine graces: their faces are never darkened with a scowl, or covered with a cloud of sullenness or suspicion. Their manners are affable and engaging; their step easy, firm, and graceful; their behaviour free and unguarded; always boundless in generosity to each other and to strangers; their tempers mild, gentle, and unaffected; slow to take offence, easily pacified, and seldom retaining resentment or revenge, whatever provocation they may have received. Their arms and hands are very delicately formed; and though they go barefoot, their feet are not coarse and spreading.

"As wives in private life, they are affectionate, tender, and obedient to their husbands, and uncom monly fond of their children: they nurse them with the utmost care, and are particularly attentive to keep the infant's limbs supple and straight. A cripple is hardly ever seen among them in early life. A rickety child is never known; any thing resembling it would reflect the highest disgrace on the mother "The Otaheitans have no partitions in their houses; but it may be affirmed they have in many instances more refined ideas of decency than ourselves; and one long a resident scruples not to declare, that he never saw any appetite, hunger and thirst excepted, gratified in public. It is too true, that for the sake of gaining our extraordinary curiosities, and to please our brutes, they have appeared immodest in the extreme. Yet they lay this charge wholly at our door, and say that Englishmen are ashamed of nothing, and that we have led them to public acts of indecency never before practised among themselves.

Iron here, more precious than gold, bears down every barrier of restraint; honesty and modesty yield to the force of temptation."


Such are the females and the mothers here described, whose interesting offspring are now peopling Pitcairn's Island, and who, while they inherit their mothers' virtues, have hitherto kept themselves free from their vices.

The greater part of the food of Otaheitans is vegetable. Hogs, dogs, and poultry are their only animals, and all of them serve for food. "We all agreed," says Cook, "that a South Sea dog was little inferior to an English lamb," which he ascribes to its being kept up and fed wholly on vegetables. Broiling and baking are the only two modes of applying fire to their cookery. Captain Wallis observes, that having no vessel in which water could be subjected to the action of fire, they had no more idea that it could be made hot, than that it could be made solid; and he mentions that one of the attendants of the supposed queen, having observed the surgeon fill the teapot from an urn, turned the cock himself, and received the water in his hand; and that as soon as he felt himself scalded, he roared out and began to dance about the cabin with the most extravagant and ridiculous expressions of pain and astonishment; his companions, unable to conceive what was the matter, staring at him in amaze, and not without some mixture of terror.

One of Oberea's peace-offerings to Mr. Banks, for the robbery of his clothes committed in her boat, was a fine fat dog, and the way in which it was prepared and baked was as follows. Tupei, the highpriest, undertook to perform the double office of butcher and cook. He first killed him by holding his hands close over his mouth and nose for the space of a quarter of an hour. A hole was then

*A Missionary Voyage to the Southern Pacific Ocean, Appendix, p. 336, 342.

made in the ground about a foot deep, in which a fire was kindled, and some small stones placed in layers, alternately with the wood, to be heated. The dog was then singed, scraped with a shell, and the hair taken off as clean as if he had been scalded in hot water. He was then cut up with the same instrument, and his entrails carefully washed. When the hole was sufficiently heated, the fire was taken out, and some of the stones, being placed at the bottom, were covered with green leaves. The dog, with the entrails, was then placed upon the leaves, and other leaves being laid upon them, the whole was covered with the rest of the hot stones, and the mouth of the hole close stopped with mould. In somewhat less than four hours, it was again opened, and the dog taken out excellently baked, and the party all agreed that he made a very good dish. These dogs, it seems, are bred to be eaten, and live wholly on bread-fruit, cocoanuts, yams, and oth vegetables of the like kind.

The food of the natives, being chiefly vegetable, consists of the various preparations of the breadfruit, of cocoanuts, bananas, plantains, and a great variety of other fruit, the spontaneous products of a rich soil and genial climate. The bread-fruit, when baked in the same manner as the dog was, is rendered soft, and not unlike a boiled potato; not quite so farinaceous as a good one, but more so than those of the middling sort. Much of this fruit is gathered before it is ripe, and by a certain process is made to undergo the two states of fermentation, the saccharine and acetous, in the latter of which it is moulded into balls, and called mahie. The natives seldom make a meal without this sour paste. Salt water is the universal sauce, without which no meal is eaten. Their drink in general consists of water, or the juice of the cocoanut, the art of producing liquors that intoxicate by fermentation being at this time happily unknown among them: neither

« FöregåendeFortsätt »