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Project of a Cotton Mill-Shells, &c.—Magnificent Natural Panorama
Night-scene-Banns of Marriage—Palma Christi and other Plants Native Martyrs-Great Marae—Arabu, Chief of EimeoCowries, &c. -Roman Catholic Missionary— Trials of the first Preachers of the Gospel bere—Roguery of the Islanders formerly— Their present Character contrasted-Idolatrous Priests Second Interview with PomareTatooing — Mosquitoes Return to Tahiti-Housekeeping — Native Manners-Barter Trade.
Oct. 16. This morning, accompanied by the Missionaries, we went up the valley, to examine a situation which had been pointed out, as eligible for a mill of any kind, but especially for cotton works, such as were proposed to be constructed by Mr. Armitage. The supply of water by a plentiful stream, the pleasantness, healthfulness, and fertility of the situation, with its proximity to the residences of the Missionaries, seemed to render this spot, in every way, suited for such an establishment. The vast amphitheatrical bosom of the mountains might graze thousands of cattle ; and it was with pleasure that we saw several cows and a bull eating the luxuriant herbage on their slopes. This small herd belongs to Mr. Henry, and supplies him abundantly with milk and butter. Pomare has signified his approbation of this plan of a cotton-factory, “if the man can carry it into effect.” These words repeated several times, intimate not only some doubt on the part of the king of
success, but some prejudice against the undertaking, from the failure of Mr. Gyles's previous experiment.
In the afternoon we ascended the fine harbour, and rivermouth, in two canoes. On the coral rocks and the beach, as we proceeded, we collected the following shells :the areho, a small brown turbinate, a quarter of an inch long, found adhering to a leaf in the water ;-a small muscle, of delicate taste, called by the natives pice ;_tona, a large cockle ;—the ehi, another bivalve of the same species, but larger even than the former ;-also the pui, a brown worm, marked with black rings, an inch apart;—some of these worms were from one, to one and a half, and two feet in length; they lay at the bottom of the shoals, and when taken out seemed to be nothing more than long slender bladders of water. The piao, or brown butterfly, was flying in great numbers around. We met a man who had caught a singular and splendid fish. It resembled a flounder in shape, being twelve inches by six in length and breadth. The prevailing colour was a silvery grey, the tail and side fins of the richest gold, the delicate shades of which were radiated beyond the junctures of these with the body. The natives call this fish paraha, and consider it excellent food. We observed, likewise, a small species of sprat, called ona, the body of which is brown, the fins black. The maau toria, a small bird, like a plover, was frequently seen sitting on the rocks.
This is one of the finest harbours in the world for depth, safety, and convenience of obtaining fresh water and wood. It is nearly three miles in length by half a mile in width. The deep water continues at the sides to the very shore, so that a ship may approach close, and be moored fast to a tree with perfect security. The entrance is through the opening of a reef, which runs across the mouth, and protects it
MAGNIFICENT NATURAL PANORAMA.
from heavy seas.
When we had advanced about two miles towards the head of this bay, we came to a bar of sand, brought down by the river. Over this, the natives dragged the canoes, and then we were paddled a mile up the stream, on either bank of which the most luxuriant tropical vegetation expanded, in the majestic ito, chesnut, vi-apple, and cocoa-nut trees; with innumerable puraus, of every size and form; shrubs and plants, especially the cryptogamous ones, flourishing in richest abundance, and often of prodigious magnitude.
We landed near the site of the sugar-mills, formerly erected by Mr. Gyles, now in ruins; the valuable parts of the machinery having been removed by Mr. Bicknell, junior, and Pomare, with the view, it is said, of re-commencing the works at Tahiti. The sugar scheme failed here, in consequence of the king's jealousy, excited by false alarms insinuated into his mind, by foreigners, that slavery and the culture of the cane were necessarily associated; as though the Europeans would presently come and possess themselves of the islands, when they found that sugar was produced in them. From the site of the dilapidated mills, we ascended Mount Gyles (so called from the late settler here) which stands nearly in the midst of a vast circumvallation of towering eninences, that meet and astonish the eye every
turn. The mountains, with surpassing grandeur, and not less beauty of contour and colouring, when seen at due distance, do indeed form corresponding walls, to what may be styled an immense rotunda, roofed with a blue expanse of firmament, overhanging the pinnacles of the everlasting hills. Here, were such an occasion to arrive, a fit theatre might be found for the assembled population of an empire, to receive a message from heaven, by
MAGNIFICENT NATURAL PANORAMA.
the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, whose sound should go forth, and be heard throughout the whole area and circumference, crowded with gazing, listening, or adoring multitudes. The proportions of this temple of earth and sky (for such it appeared) were so harmonious and exact, that its immensity was lost, at first sight, for want of a contrast whereby to measure its parts. But when we looked back upon the harbour of Taloo, and saw the steep declivities, by which we had ascended from the beach, diminished like peaked points beneath our feet, we were then made almost tremblingly sensible of the magnitude of the mountains that here engirdled our horizon, and the breadth of the interjacent valley, in the middle of which we stood, and felt how little is man, when he perceives but a glimpse of the greater works of God, though they are unconscious matter, and he a living, intellectual soul. Yet is there an exaltation (akin to the immortality that stirs within him,) even in that humbling sense of littleness ; for it is not his inferiority to mounds of earth, and tracts of water, which he feels, but his utter nothingness before Him who made all these, and into whose presence-chamber he seems to be brought, when scenes, like that which we were contemplating, overpower the nerves, and almost disembody the spirit by the entrancement which they induce. Language can convey no distinct idea of such a panorama as here stretched around us. The ground, clothed with exuberant vegetation, rises gradually from the coast towards this interior district, where the whole surface bursts, as it were, into abrupt and precipitous elevations, the crests of which are naked rocks, of stupendous bulk, and strangest forms. Some seem to stand on very narrow bases, with broad and beetling fronts; one facing the harbour resembles a huge tower, surmounted by a sharp spire ; in another
BANNS OF MARRIAGE.
place, a mass of black stone, apart from the adjacent range, (which is brown basalt) bears a rude likeness to the head and shoulders of a man. The valleys intersecting these gigantic heights, are as lovely and fertile as the eye can desire to look upon, when, giddy and bewildered with gazing on the terrible sublimities above, it seeks repose in the green dells and shady solitudes below.
In the evening, while we slowly returned across the harbour, the glimmering of the stars, as they multiplied over head, gave to the faded realities of day-light the unsubstantial forms of shadows; woods, rocks, and mountains being alike dark shapes, and the sea itself an invisible mirror of the firmament, in which beneath, as above, the planets Jupiter, from the east, and Venus, from the west, contended with each other in brilliancy and beauty.
It added much to our enjoyment on this excursion, to be in company with the only two remaining Missionaries, Mr. Nott and Mr. Henry, who first came out, in the ship Duff, with Captain Wilson; and while on our return, at night-fall, we sang, in our boat, upon the water, “God moves in a mysterious way—his wonders to perform,” &c. these fathers of the Polynesian church acknowledged that He had often thus dealt with them, and having found Him ever faithful, they had learned to trust in Him, under the darkest dispensations of Providence.
Oct. 17. Mr. Nott preached this afternoon to a congregation of about three hundred persons. At the close of the service, the banns of marriage were published between a young man and woman, who, having formed a strong attachment, desired to be united. A relative of the female, however, disapproving of the match, stood up, and forbade it. This brought on a short altercation between the
parties. Some friends of the young man had objected in the