« FöregåendeFortsätt »
roots, fruits, and a variety of shrubs. Every cottage has its out-house for making cloth, its bakingplace, its pig-sty, and its poultry-house.
During the stay of the strangers on the island, they dined sometimes with one person and sometimes with another, their meals being always the same, and consisting of baked pig, yams, and taro, and sometimes sweet potatoes. Goats are numerous on the island, but neither their flesh nor their milk is relished by the natives. Yams constitute their principal food, either boiled, baked, or mixed with cocoanut, made into cakes, and eaten with molasses extracted from the tee-root. Taro-root is no bad substitute for bread; and bananas, plantains, and appoi are wholesome and nutritive fruits. The common beverage is water, but they make tea from the tee-plant, flavoured with ginger, and sweetened with the juice of the sugar-cane. They but seldom kill a pig, living mostly on fruit and vegetables. With this simple diet, early rising, and taking a great deal of exercise, they are subject to few diseases; and Captain Beechey says, 66 they are certainly a finer and more athletic race than is usually found among the families of mankind."
The young children are punctual in their attendance at school, and are instructed by John Buffet in reading, writing, and arithmetic; to which are added precepts of religion and morality, drawn chiefly from the Bible and Prayer Book; than which, fortunately, they possess no others, that might mystify and perplex their understandings on religious subjects. They seldom indulge in jokes or other kinds of levity; and Beechey says they are so accustomed to take what is said in its literal meaning, that irony was always considered a falsehood in spite of explanation; and that they could not see the propriety of uttering what was not strictly true, for any purpose whatever. The Sabbath is wholly devoted to the church service, to prayer, reading, and serious
meditation; no work of any kind is done on that day, not even cooking, which is prepared on the preceding evening.
"I attended," says Beechey, "their church on this day, and found the service well conducted; the prayers were read by Adams, and the lessons by Buffet, the service being preceded by hymns. The greatest devotion was apparent in every individual; and in the children there was a seriousness unknown in the younger part of our communities at home. In the course of the Litany, they prayed for their sovereign and all the royal family, with much apparent loyalty and sincerity. Some family prayers which were thought appropriate to their own particular case were added to the usual service; and Adams, fearful of leaving out any essential part, read in addition all those prayers which are intended only as substitutes for others. A sermon followed, which was very well delivered by Buffet; and lest any part of it should be forgotten, or escape attention, it was read three times. The whole concluded with hymns, which were first sung by the grown people, and afterward by the children. The service thus performed was very long; but the neat and cleanly appearance of the congregation, the devotion that animated every countenance, and the innocence and simplicity of the little children, prevented the attendance from becoming wearisome. In about half an hour afterward we again assembled to prayers, and at sunset service was repeated; so that, with their morning and evening prayers, they may be said to have church five times on a Sunday."
Perhaps it will be thought by some that they carry their seriousness too far, and that the younger people are not allowed a sufficient quantity of recreation. The exercise and amusement of dancing, once so much resorted to in most of the islands of the Pacific, is here almost excluded. With great difficulty and much entreaty, the visiters prevailed on three
grown-up ladies to stand up to perform the Otaheitan dance, which they consented to with a reluctance that showed it was done only to oblige them. It was little more than a shuffling of the feet, sliding past each other, and snapping their fingers. They did not long continue this diversion, considering it as too great a levity, and only the three before-mentioned ladies could be prevailed on to exhibit their skill. They appeared to have little taste for music, either instrumental or vocal. Adams, when on board the Blossom for two or three days, made no difficulty of joining in the dance, and was remarkably cheerful, but on no occasion neglected his usual devotions. Captain Beechey has no doubt of the sincerity of his piety. He slept in the same cabin, but would never get into his cot until the captain was in bed and supposed to be asleep, when, in a retired corner of the cabin, he fell on his knees and performed his devotions; and he was always up first in the morning for the same purpose.
This good old man told Beechey one day that it would add much to his happiness if he would read the marriage ceremony to him and his wife, as he could not bear the idea of living with her without its being done when a proper opportunity should offer, as was now the case. Though Adams was aged, and the old woman had been blind and bedridden for several years, Beechey says he made such a point of it, that it would have been cruel to refuse him. They were accordingly, the following day, duly united, and the event noted in a register by John Buffet. The marriages that take place among the young people are, however, performed by Adams, who makes use of a ring for such occasions, which has united every couple on the island since its first settlement; the regulated age under which no man is allowed to marry is twenty, and that of the women eighteen. The restrictions with regard to relationship are the same as with us, and are strictly
put in force when parties are about to marry. Adams also officiates at christenings.
Captain Beechey observes that these amiable people rigidly adhere to their word and promise, even in cases where the most scrupulous among Europeans might think themselves justified in some relaxation of them. Thus, George Adams, in his early days, had fallen in love with Polly Young, a girl somewhat older than himself; but Polly, for some reason or other, had incautiously declared she never would give her hand to George Adams; who, however, still hoped she would one day relent, and of course was unremitting in his endeavours to please her; nor was he mistaken; his constancy and his handsome form, which George took every opportunity of displaying before her, softened Polly's heart, and she would willingly have given him her hand. But the vow of her youth was not to be got over, and the love-sick couple languished on from day to day, victims to the folly of early resolutions. This weighty case was referred to the British officers, who decided that it would be much better to marry than to continue unhappy in consequence of a hasty resolution made before the judgment was matured, but Polly's scruples still remained, and those who gave their decision left them unmarried. Captain Beechey, however, has recently received a letter, stating that George Adams and Polly Young had joined hands and were happy; but the same letter announced the death of John Adams, which took place in March, 1829.
The demise of this old patriarch is the most serious loss that could have befallen this infant colony. The perfect harmony and contentment in which they appear to live together, the innocence and simplicity of their manners, their conjugal and parental affection, their moral, religious, and virtuous conduct, and their exemption from any serious vice, are all to be ascribed to the exemplary conduct and
instructions of old John Adams; and it is gratifying to know, that five years after the visit of the Blos som, and one year subsequent to Adams's death, the little colony continued to enjoy the same uninterrupted state of harmony and contentment as before.
In consequence of a representation made by Captain Beechey when there of the distressed state of this little society with regard to the want of certain necessary articles, his majesty's government sent out to Valparaiso, to be conveyed from thence for their use, a proportion for sixty persons, of the following articles: sailors' blue jackets and trousers, flannel waistcoats, pairs of stockings and shoes, women's dresses, spades, mattocks, shovels, pickaxes, trowels, rakes; all of which were taken in his majesty's ship Seringapatam, commanded by Captain the Honourable William Waldegrave, who arrived there in March, 1830.
The ship had scarcely anchored when George Young was alongside in his canoe, which he guided by a paddle; and soon after Thursday October Christian, in a jolly-boat, with several others, who, having come on board, were invited to breakfast, and one of them said grace as usual both before and after it. The captain, the chaplain, and some other officers accompanied these natives on shore, and having reached the summit of the first level or plain, which is surrounded by a grove or screen of cocoanuttrees, they found the wives and mothers assembled to receive them. "I have brought you a clergyman," says the captain.-" God bless you," issued from every mouth;" but is he come to stay with us?" -"No."—" You bad man, why not?"- "I cannot spare him, he is the chaplain of my ship; but I have brought you clothes and other articles, which King George has sent you."-" But," says Kitty Quintal, "we want food for our souls."
"Our reception," says Captain Waldegrave, "was most cordial, particularly that of Mr. Watson, the