A Voyage to the South Sea/Chapter 6

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A Voyage to the South Sea by William Bligh
Chapter 6

Account of an English Ship lately sailed from Otaheite. Death of Omai. Captain Cook's Picture sent on board. Otoo visits the Ship. His Visit returned. Natives well disposed towards us. Account of the Cattle left by Captain Cook. Breadfruit plants promised. Visit to the Earee Rahie. Presents made to the Arreoys.


1788. October. Sunday 26.
The ship being anchored, our number of visitors continued to increase; but as yet we saw no person that we could recollect to have been of much consequence. Some inferior chiefs made me presents of a few hogs and I made them presents in return. We were supplied with coconuts in great abundance but breadfruit was scarce.
Many enquiries were made after Captain Cook, Sir Joseph Banks, and many of their former friends. They said a ship had been here from which they had learnt that Captain Cook was dead; but the circumstances of his death they did not appear to be acquainted with; and I had given particular directions to my officers and ship's company that they should not be mentioned. The ship spoken of, they informed me, stayed at Otaheite one month and had been gone four months, by some of their accounts; according to others only three months. The captain they called Tonah. I understood likewise from them that Lieutenant Watts was in the ship who, having been here in the Resolution with Captain Cook, was well known to them. One of my first enquiries, as will naturally be imagined, was after our friend Omai; and it was a sensible mortification and disappointment to me to hear that not only Omai, but both the New Zealand boys who had been left with him, were dead. Everyone agreed in their information that they died a natural death. Otoo, who was the chief of Matavai when Captain Cook was here the last time, was absent at another part of the island; they told me messengers were sent to inform him of our arrival, and that he was expected to return soon. There appeared among the natives in general great goodwill towards us, and they seemed to be much rejoiced at our arrival. This whole day we experienced no instance of dishonesty. We were so much crowded that I could not undertake to remove to a more proper station without danger of disobliging our visitors by desiring them to leave the ship: this business was therefore deferred till the next morning.
Monday 27.
Early in the morning, before the natives began to flock off to us, we weighed anchor to work farther into the bay, and moored at about a quarter of a mile distance from the shore; Point Venus bearing north 16 degrees east; the west part of One-tree hill south-west by south; and the point of the reef north 37 degrees west; the ship lying in seven fathoms water.
Several chiefs now came on board and expressed great pleasure at seeing me. Among these were Otow, the father of Otoo, and Oreepyah, his brother; also another chief of Matavai called Poeeno: and to these men I made presents. Two messengers likewise arrived from Otoo to acquaint me of his being on his way to the ship; each of whom brought me as a present from Otoo a small pig and a young plantain-tree as a token of friendship. The ship was now plentifully supplied with provisions; every person having as much as he could consume.
As soon as the ship was secured I went on shore with the chief Poeeno, and accompanied by a multitude of the natives. He conducted me to the place where we had fixed our tents in 1777 and desired that I would now appropriate the spot to the same use. We then went across the beach and through a walk delightfully shaded with breadfruit trees to his own house. Here we found two women at work staining a piece of cloth red. These I found were his wife and her sister. They desired me to sit down on a mat which was spread for the purpose, and with great kindness offered me refreshments. I received the congratulations of several strangers who came to us and behaved with great decorum and attention. The people however thronged about the house in such numbers that I was much incommoded by the heat, which being observed they immediately drew back. Among the crowd I saw a man who had lost his arm just above the elbow; the stump was well covered and the cure seemed as perfect as could be expected from the greatest professional skill.
I made enquiries about the cattle that had been left here by Captain Cook, but the accounts I received were very unfavourable and so various that for the present I shall forebear speaking of them. After staying about an hour I got up to take leave, when the women in a very obliging manner came to me with a mat and a piece of their finest cloth, which they put on me after the Otaheite fashion. When I was thus dressed they each of them took one of my hands, and accompanied me to the waterside, and at parting promised that they would soon return my visit.
In this walk I had the satisfaction to see that the island had received some benefit from our former visits. Two shaddocks were brought to me, a fruit which they had not, till we introduced it. And among the articles which they brought off to the ship and offered for sale were capsicums, pumpkins, and two young goats.
On my return to the ship I found that a small disturbance had been occasioned by one of the natives making an attempt to steal a tin pot; which, on being known to Oreepyah, he flew into a violent rage, and it was with some difficulty that the thief escaped with his life. He drove all his countrymen out of the ship; and when he saw me he desired if at any time I found a thief that I would order him to be tied up and punished with a severe flogging.
This forenoon a man came on board with Captain Cook's picture which had been drawn by Mr. Webber in 1777 and left with Otoo. It was brought to me to be repaired. The frame was broken but the picture no way damaged except a little in the background. They called it Toote (which has always been their manner of pronouncing Captain Cook's name) Earee no Otaheite, chief of Otaheite. They said Toote had desired Otoo, whenever any English ship came, to show the picture, and it would be acknowledged as a token of friendship. The youngest brother of Otoo, named Whydooah, visited me this afternoon: he appeared stupefied with drinking ava. At sunset all our male visitors left the ship.
Tuesday 28.
The next morning early I received a message from Otoo to inform me of his arrival and requesting that I would send a boat for him; which I immediately did with an officer (Mr. Christian) to conduct him on board. He came with numerous attendants and expressed much satisfaction at our meeting. After introducing his wife to me we joined noses, the customary manner of saluting, and to perpetuate our friendship he desired we should exchange names. I was surprised to find that instead of Otoo, the name by which he formerly went, he was now called Tinah. The name of Otoo, with the title of Earee Rahie, I was informed had devolved to his eldest son who was yet a minor, as is the custom of the country. The name of Tinah's wife was Iddeah: with her was a woman dressed with a large quantity of cloth in the form of a hoop, which was taken off and presented to me with a large hog and some breadfruit. I then took my visitors into the cabin and after a short time produced my presents in return. The present I made to Tinah (by which name I shall hereafter call him) consisted of hatchets, small adzes, files, gimblets, saws, looking-glasses, red feathers, and two shirts. To Iddeah I gave earrings, necklaces, and beads; but she expressed a desire also for iron, and therefore I made the same assortment for her as I had for the husband. Much conversation took place among them on the value of the different articles and they appeared extremely satisfied, so that they determined to spend the day with me and requested I would show them all over the ship, and particularly the cabin where I slept. This though I was not fond of doing I indulged them in; and the consequence was as I had apprehended that they took a fancy to so many things that they got from me nearly as much more as I had before given them. Afterwards Tinah desired me to fire some of the great guns: this I likewise complied with and, as the shot fell into the sea at a great distance, all the natives expressed their surprise by loud shouts and acclamations.
I had a large company at dinner; for besides Tinah and his wife there was Otow, the father of Tinah, Oreepyah, and Whydooah, two of his brothers, Poeeno, and several other chiefs. Tinah is a very large man, much above the common stature, being not less than six feet four inches in height and proportionably stout: his age about thirty-five. His wife (Iddeah) I judged to be about twenty-four years of age: she is likewise much above the common size of the women at Otaheite and has a very animated and intelligent countenance. Whydooah, the younger brother of Tinah, was highly spoken of as a warrior but had the character of being the greatest drunkard in the country; and indeed to judge from the withered appearance of his skin he must have used the pernicious drink called ava to great excess. Tinah was fed by one of his attendants who sat by him for that purpose, this being a particular custom among some of the superior chiefs; and I must do him the justice to say he kept his attendant constantly employed: there was indeed little reason to complain of want of appetite in any of my guests. As the women are not allowed to eat in presence of the men Iddeah dined with some of her companions about an hour afterwards in private, except that her husband Tinah favoured them with his company and seemed to have entirely forgotten that he had already dined.
Provisions were brought off to the ship in the greatest plenty and, to prevent as much as possible anything which might occasion disputes, I desired Mr. Peckover, the gunner, to undertake the management of our traffic with the natives. Some of the hogs brought today weighed 200 pounds and we purchased several for salting. Goats were likewise brought off for sale, and I bought a she-goat and kid for less than would have purchased a small hog. Our friends here expressed much disappointment that there was no portrait-painter on board; Tinah in particular, who wished to have had pictures of his father and family.
An intimacy between the natives and our people was already so general that there was scarce a man in the ship who had not his tyo or friend. Tinah continued with me the whole afternoon, in the course of which he ate four times of roast pork besides his dinner. When he left the ship he requested I would keep for him all the presents I had given to him as he had not at Matavai a place sufficiently safe to secure them from being stolen; I therefore showed him a locker in my cabin for his use and gave him a key to it. This is perhaps not so much a proof of his want of power as of the estimation in which they hold European commodities and which makes more than the common means of security requisite to prevent theft.
I had sent Nelson and his assistant to look for plants, and it was no small pleasure to me to find by their report that according to appearances the object of my mission would probably be accomplished with ease. I had given directions to everyone on board not to make known to the islanders the purpose of our coming lest it might enhance the value of the breadfruit plants, or occasion other difficulties. Perhaps so much caution was not necessary but at all events I wished to reserve to myself the time and manner of communication. Nelson met with two fine shaddock-trees which he had planted in 1777: they were full of fruit but not ripe.
Wednesday 29.
In the morning I returned Tinah's visit for I found he expected it. He was in a small shed about a quarter of a mile to the eastward of Matavai point with his wife and three children, not their own but who they said were relations. In my walk I had picked up a numerous attendance for everyone I met followed me; so that I had collected such a crowd that the heat was scarce bearable, everyone endeavouring to get a look to satisfy their curiosity: they however carefully avoided pressing against me, and welcomed me with cheerful countenances and great good nature.
I made Tinah understand that my visit was particularly to him, and gave him a second present, equal to the first, which he received with great pleasure; and to the people of consequence that were about him I also presented some article or other. There were great numbers of children and, as I took notice of the little ones that were in arms and gave them beads, both small and great, but with much drollery and good humour, endeavoured to benefit by the occasion. Boys of ten and twelve years old were caught up in arms and brought to me, which created much laughter; so that in a short time I got rid of all I had brought on shore.
In my return I called on Poeeno, and an elderly chief, a relation of his, called Moannah, the principal men of this district and with whom I judged it my interest to be on good terms. I gave them several valuable articles and, as the situation here was eligible for a garden, I planted melon, cucumber, and salad-seeds. I told them many other things should be sown for their use; and they appeared much pleased when they understood I intended to plant such things as would grow to be trees and produce fruit. I saw large patches of tobacco growing without culture and many pumpkin vines. The breadfruit trees and coconut trees at this time were full of fruit.
I went on board to dinner and Moannah accompanied me. In the afternoon I returned to Poeeno's with some additional seeds to improve the little garden I had begun to make in the forenoon. While I was giving directions I received a message from Tinah inviting me to come to him at his brother Oreepyah's house, which was near the beach. At this place I found a great number of people collected who, on my appearance, immediately made way for me to sit down by Tinah. The crowd being ordered to draw back, a piece of cloth about two yards wide and forty-one yards in length was spread on the ground; and another piece of cloth was brought by Oreepyah, which he put over my shoulders and round my waist in the manner the chiefs are clothed. Two large hogs, weighing each above two hundred pounds, and a quantity of baked breadfruit and coconuts were then laid before me as a present, and I was desired to walk from one end of the cloth spread on the ground to the other, in the course of which Tyo and Ehoah* were repeated with loud acclamations. This ceremony being ended Tinah desired I would send the things on board, which completely loaded the boat; we therefore waited till she came back and then I took them on board with me; for I knew they expected some return. The present which I made on this occasion was equal to any that I had made before; but I discovered that Tinah was not the sole proprietor of what he had given to me for the present I gave was divided among those who, I guessed, had contributed to support his dignity; among whom were Moannah, Poeenah, and Oreepyah; Tinah however kept the greatest part of what I had given and everyone seemed satisfied with the proportion he allotted them.
(*Footnote. Tyo and Ehoah are words of the same signification, i.e. friend.)
The Otaheite breed of hogs seems to be supplanted by the European. Originally they were of the China sort, short and very thick-necked; but the superior size of the European have made them encourage our breed.
Thursday 30.
At break of day Tinah and his wife came again to the ship and, as their attendants were numerous, I provided a breakfast for them of broiled and roasted pork, which they preferred to tea. Our arrival being known all over the island, we had this day a great number of strangers on board who came from the most remote parts, and in the forenoon some hooks and thimbles were cut out from the blocks. This induced me to order all the natives out of the ship except the chiefs and their attendants. In executing these orders a daring fellow attacked the sentinel but escaped among the crowd. Everyone knew the consequence of offending the sentinel and were exceedingly alarmed at the appearance of anger I thought necessary to assume.
Among those who visited us today were two chiefs of great consequence, Marremarre and his son Poohaitaiah Otee, Earees of the districts of Itteeah and Attahooroo. Otee was fed at dinner in the same manner as Tinah. It was evident that the attention which I showed to these chiefs seemed to give uneasiness to Tinah. At sunset my visitors took leave and were carried on shore by one of the ship's boats, which has always been regarded as a mark of distinction, and on that account preferred by them to going in their own canoes. At their request a race was rowed between our five-oared cutter and one of their double canoes with four paddles. Great exertions were used on both sides but the cutter first reached the shore. In their return to the ship Oreepyah stopped them till a large piece of cloth that he had sent for was brought; which he tied to the boat-hook and desired should be carried off as a trophy of their victory.
Friday 31.
The next morning at sunrise Moannah came on board with a message from Tinah to acquaint me that he was mattow (afraid to see me) till he had recovered some things that had been stolen from the ship and which he had sent after. I knew there was something wrong, as no canoes came off to us and, on looking about, we found the buoy of the best bower anchor had been taken away, I imagine for the sake of some iron hoops that were on it. That this might not create any coolness I sent a boat to Tinah to invite him and his friends to come on board; which they immediately did and were no longer under any apprehensions. I had made an appointment with Oreepyah for him to go with me to Oparre this morning; but the accident just mentioned caused him to break his engagement, he having gone, I was informed, in search of what had been stolen.
Oparre is the district next to the westward of Matavai. One of my reasons for going to Oparre was to see if Nelson would be able to procure plants there; but I gave the credit of my visit to young Otoo, the son of Tinah, who was the Earee Rahie, and lived with the rest of Tinah's children at Oparre. I prepared a magnificent present for this youth, who was represented to me as the person of the greatest consequence, or rather of the highest rank, in the island. At noon I left the ship, accompanied by Tinah, his wife Iddeah, and Poeeno. Moannah was to have been of the party but he insisted on remaining in the ship to prevent his countrymen from attempting to steal anything.
After half an hour's sailing we arrived at Oparre. During this time Tinah gave me a more circumstantial account of the cattle and sheep that had been left with him: he related that, after five years from the time of Captain Cook's departure (counting 63 moons) the people of the Island Eimeo joined with those of Attahooroo, a district of Otaheite, and made a descent on Oparre: that after some resistance by which many men were killed Tinah and his people fled to the mountains, leaving all their property to the mercy of the victorious party who destroyed almost everything which they found not convenient to take away with them. Some of the cattle were killed and eaten but the greater part were taken to Eimeo. The cows he said had produced eight calves and the ewes ten young ones. The ducks, among which they classed the geese, had greatly increased; but the turkeys and peacocks, whatever was the cause, had not bred. It seemed to give Tinah great pleasure to observe how much I was concerned for the destruction of so many useful animals; but the cause of his satisfaction, I found, did not proceed from any expectation that I should replace them, but from the belief that I would take vengeance on the people who had deprived him of them; for with respect to the loss of the cattle he appeared so unconcerned and indifferent that I was very angry with him. There is however sufficient excuse for his resentment against the people of Eimeo; for the large extensive houses which we had seen in this part of Otaheite in the year 1777 were all destroyed, and at present they had no other habitations than light sheds which might be taken by the four corners and removed by four men: and of the many large canoes which they then had not more than three remained. Tinah, understanding from my conversation that I intended visiting some of the other islands in this neighbourhood, very earnestly desired I would not think of leaving Matavai. "Here," said he, "you shall be supplied plentifully with everything you want. All here are your friends and friends of King George: if you go to the other islands you will have everything stolen from you." I replied that, on account of their goodwill and from a desire to serve him and his country, King George had sent out those valuable presents to him; "and will not you, Tinah, send something to King George in return?" "Yes," he said, "I will send him anything I have;" and then began to enumerate the different articles in his power, among which he mentioned the breadfruit. This was the exact point to which I wished to bring the conversation and, seizing an opportunity which had every appearance of being undesigned and accidental, I told him the breadfruit trees were what King George would like; upon which he promised me a great many should be put on board, and seemed much delighted to find it so easily in his power to send anything that would be well received by King George.
On landing at Oparre an immense crowd of natives as usual immediately thronged about us. I enquired for Oreepyah, whom I expected to have met me here, but he was not yet returned from his search after the thieves; we therefore went under a shed of his to wait for him, and in about a quarter of an hour he joined us, bringing with him an iron scraper and one of the hoops of the buoy. I thanked him for the trouble which he had taken, and assured him that I was perfectly satisfied, for he still seemed apprehensive of my displeasure.
We took leave for a short time of Oreepyah and I proceeded with Tinah to make my visit to the young Otoo, the Earee Rahie. When we had walked about five minutes Tinah stopped and informed me that no person could be permitted to see his son, who was covered above the shoulders. He then took off his upper garments and requested I would do the same. I replied that I had no objection to go as I would to my own king, who was the greatest in all the world and, pulling off my hat, he threw a piece of cloth round my shoulders and we went on. About a quarter of a mile farther towards the hills, through a delightful shade of breadfruit trees, we stopped at the side of a small serpentine river: here I was in view of a house on the other side at about fifty yards distance. From this house the young king was brought out on a man's shoulders, clothed in a piece of fine white cloth, and I was desired by Tinah to salute him by the name of Too Earee Rahie. The present which I had prepared was divided into three parts, and two other children made their appearance in the same manner. The first present I gave to a messenger who attended for that purpose; and I was instructed by Tinah to say that it was for the Earee Rahie; that I was his friend; that I hated thieves; and that I came from Britannia. The second present was sent in the same manner, with a similar message, to one of the other children and likewise the third.
As I could not see the Earee Rahie distinctly I desired to be permitted to go over the river to him; but this, it seems, could not be complied with: therefore after seeing the presents delivered I returned with Tinah towards Oreepyah's house. I was informed that Tinah had four children by his wife Iddeah. Otoo, or Too, the Earee Rahie, appeared to be about six years old: the second is a girl named Terrenah Oroah: the third a boy, Terreetappanooai; and a fourth, an infant girl, whom I did not see, named Tahamydooah.
When we came to the place where we had first stopped Tinah took the cloth from my shoulders and desired me to put my hat on; I expressed a desire to see more of the place and he took me back by a different way. On passing a trunk of a tree, rudely carved, I was desired again to pull my hat off, and all uncovered their shoulders. This I discovered to be nothing more than the boundary of the king's land; on which whoever set their feet uncovered themselves out of respect.
We stopped at a house belonging to Tinah where I was treated with a concert of one drum and three flutes with singing by four men. I made some presents to the performers and we removed to Oreepyah's house where, after paying my compliments to him, which I found was expected, Tinah made me a present of a large hog and some coconuts. He then introduced an uncle of his called Mowworoah, a very old man much tattooed and almost blind. To this chief I made a present and soon after I embarked with Tinah, Oreepyah, their wives, and Poeeno. A vast number of people were collected on the beach to see us depart and as soon as the boat had put off Tinah desired me to fire my pocket pistol, the poopooe ete ete, as he called it: the report seemed to electrify the whole crowd but, finding no harm done, they gave great shouts of approbation.
Nelson, who accompanied me in this expedition, had but little opportunity to search after plants, the natives having crowded so much about him: he saw enough however to assure him that they were to be procured here as plentifully as at Matavai.
In our passage to the ship, which we rowed in one hour, nothing but Britannie was enquired after and of the number of ships and guns. When I told them we had ships of 100 guns they could not believe it till I drew one on paper: they then asked me if it was not as big as Tarrah, which is a high projecting headland halfway between Matavai and Oparre, called by us One-tree Hill. Tinah much wished that one of these large ships should be sent to Otaheite and that myself should come in her, and bring him a number of things that he wanted; among which he particularly desired beds and high-backed elbow chairs might not be forgotten: a request perfectly according with the indolent character of Tinah.
November. Saturday 1.
As we had occasion to fix a tent on Point Venus this morning we moved the ship nearer to it and moored again in six fathoms, the point bearing north-north-east.
Tinah and several other chiefs dined on board with me. After dinner I went on shore with Tinah and made a visit to his father Otow. I likewise went to the garden which I had made near Poeeno's house and found everything had been taken care of. After this I was invited to an entertainment called Heiva, which Tinah had ordered and which consisted of singing and dancing by three men and a young girl. When this performance was finished I returned to the ship.
Sunday 2.
At daylight I sent Mr. Christian with a party to erect our tent and soon after followed myself with Tinah, Moannah, and Poeeno. With their consent I fixed a boundary, within which the natives were not to enter without leave and the chiefs cautioned them against it.
The principal use of the tents on shore was for a lodgment for the plants; and I had now, instead of appearing to receive a favour, brought the chiefs to believe that I was doing them a kindness in carrying the plants as a present from them to the Earee Rahie no Britanee. The party at the tent consisted of nine persons, including Nelson and his assistant.
Tinah dined with me on board and was today my only visitor: nevertheless the ceremony of being fed he so scrupulously observed that, even after all the attendants were sent away and we were left by ourselves, I was obliged to lift the wine to his mouth. The wives of the Earees are sometimes subject to this restriction after the birth of a child but are released after a certain time on performing a ceremony called Oammo.
After dinner Tinah invited me to accompany him with a present of provisions to a party of the Arreoys, a society described in the accounts of the former voyages: in this ceremony he made me the principal person. Our way to the place where the offering was to be made was by the side of a river along the banks of which I had always walked before this time; but on the present occasion a canoe was provided for me and dragged by eight men. On arriving at the landing-place I saw a large quantity of breadfruit with some hogs ready dressed and a quantity of cloth. At about forty yards distant sat a man who, I was informed, was a principal Arreoy. A lane being made by the crowd he was addressed by one of Tinah's people, standing on the canoe, in a speech composed of short sentences which lasted about a quarter of an hour. During this a piece of cloth was produced, one end of which I was desired to hold, and five men, one with a sucking pig and the others having each a basket of breadfruit, prepared to follow me. In this order we advanced to the Arreoy and laid the whole down before him. I then spoke several sentences dictated to me by Tinah, the meaning of which I did not understand and, my pronunciation not being very exact, caused a great deal of mirth. This speech being finished I was shown another Arreoy, who had come from Ulietea, and to him likewise I was required to deliver an oration. Tinah understanding from me that I had children in my own country he desired me to make one more offering on their account. There still remained three baskets of breadfruit, a small pig, and another piece of cloth: with these, assisted as before, I made the offering in favour of my children to the man whom I had first addressed. He made no reply to all my fine speeches but sat with great gravity and received everything as a matter of right and not of courtesy.
All that I could make out of this strange ceremony was that the Arreoys are highly respected and that the society is chiefly composed of men distinguished by their valour or some other merit, and that great trust and confidence is reposed in them; but I could not comprehend what this had to do with my children or why it should be imagined that an offering made on their account to a society of men who destroy all their children should be propitious. I learnt from Tinah, in talking about his children, that his first-born child was killed as soon as it came into the world, he being then an Arreoy; but before his second child was born he quitted the society. The Arreoys are allowed great latitude in their amours except in times of danger. Then as they are almost all fighting men (tata toa) they are restricted that they may not weaken or enervate themselves.
These ceremonies being ended I returned to the ship.
Such of the natives as I conversed with about the institution of so extraordinary a society as the Arreoy asserted that it was necessary to prevent an overpopulation. Worrow worrow no te mydidde, worrow worrow te tata. We have too many children and too many men was their constant excuse. Yet it does not appear that they are apprehensive of too great an increase of the lower class of people, none of them being ever admitted into the Arreoy society. The most remarkable instance related to me of the barbarity of this institution was of Teppahoo, the Earee of the district of Tettaha, and his wife, Tetteehowdeeah, who is sister to Otow and considered as a person of the first consequence. I was told that they have had eight children, every one of which was destroyed as soon as born. That any human beings were ever so devoid of natural affection as not to wish to preserve alive one of so many children is not credible. It is more reasonable to conclude that the death of these infants was not an act of choice in the parents; but that they were sacrificed in compliance with some barbarous superstition with which we are unacquainted. What strengthens this conjecture is that they have adopted a nephew as their heir, of whom they are excessively fond.
In countries so limited as the islands in the South Seas, the natives of which, before they were discovered by European navigators, probably had not an idea of the existence of other lands, it is not unnatural that an increasing population should occasion apprehensions of universal distress. Orders of celibacy which have proved so prejudicial in other countries might perhaps in this have been beneficial; so far at least as to have answered their purpose by means not criminal. The number of inhabitants at Otaheite have been estimated at above one hundred thousand. The island however is not cultivated to the greatest advantage: yet were they continually to improve in husbandry their improvement could not for a length of time keep pace with an unlimited population.
An idea here presents itself which, however fanciful it may appear at first sight, seems to merit some attention: While we see among these islands so great a waste of the human species that numbers are born only to die, and at the same time a large continent so near to them as New Holland, in which there is so great a waste of land uncultivated and almost destitute of inhabitants, it naturally occurs how greatly the two countries might be made to benefit each other, and gives occasion to regret that the islanders are not instructed in the means of emigrating to New Holland, which seems as if designed by nature to serve as an asylum for the superflux of inhabitants in the islands. Such a plan of emigration, if rendered practicable to them, might not only be the means of abolishing the horrid custom of destroying children as it would remove the plea of necessity but might lead to other important purposes. A great continent would be converted from a desert to a populous country; a number of our fellow-creatures would be saved; the inhabitants of the islands would become more civilised; and it is not improbable but that our colonies in New Holland would derive so much benefit as to more than repay any trouble of expense that might be incurred in endeavouring to promote so humane a plan.
The latter however is a remote consideration for the intertropical parts of New Holland are those most suited to the habits and manner of living of the islanders; and likewise the soil and climate are the best adapted to their modes of agriculture. Man placed by his Creator in the warm climates perhaps would never emigrate into the colder unless under the tyrannous influence of necessity; and ages might elapse before the new inhabitants would spread to our settlers though they are but barely within the limits of frost, that great cause of nine-tenths of the necessities of Europeans. Nevertheless besides forwarding the purposes of humanity and general convenience in bringing a people without land to a land without people the benefit of a mutual intercourse with a neighbouring and friendly colony would in itself be no inconsiderable advantage.
Among people so free from ostentation as the Otaheiteans, and whose manners are so simple and natural, the strictness with which the punctilios of rank are observed is surprising. I know not if any action, however meritorious, can elevate a man above the class in which he was born unless he were to acquire sufficient power to confer dignity on himself. If any woman of the inferior classes has a child by an Earee it is not suffered to live. Perhaps the offspring of Teppahoo and Tetteehowdeeah were destined to satisfy some cruel adjustment of rank and precedency.