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The next morning having struck the tents, they set out on their return, and arrived at the fort before night.
The observation was made with equal success by the per- . sons whom I bad sent to the eastward, and al the fort, there not being a' cloud in the sky from the rising to the setting of the sun, the whole passage of the planet Venus over the sun's disk was observed with great advantage by Mr Green, Dr Solander, and myself? Mr Green's telescope and mine were of the same magnifying power, but that of Dr Solander was greater. We all saw an atmosphere or dusky cloud round the body of the planet, which very much disturbed the times of contact, especially of the internal ones'; and we differed from each other in our accounts of the times of the contacts much more than might have been expected. According to Mr Green,
Hors. Min Séc. The first external contact, or first appearance of Venus on the Sun, was
9 25 42 The first internal contact, or total emersion, was
944 4 The second internal contact, or beginning of the emersion,
§ 14 8 The second external contact,
or total emer. sion,
8°32 10 The latitude of the observatory was found to be 17° 29' 15"; and the longitude 149° 32' 30" W, of Greenwich. A more particular account will appear by the tables, for which the reader is referred to the Transactions of the Royal Society, vol. Ixi. part 2, p. 397 et seq. where they are illustrated by a cut. N
But if we had reason to congratulate ourselves upon the success of our observation, we bad scarce less cause to regret the diligence with which that time had been improved by some of our people to another purpose. While the attention of the officers was engrossed by the transit of Venus, some of the ship's coinpany broke into one of the store-rooms, and stole a quantity of spike-nails, amounting to no less than one hundred weight: This was a matter of public and serious concern ;s for these nails, if circulated by the people among the Indians, would do us irreparable injury, by reducing the value of iron, our staple commodity. One of the thieves was detected, but only seven nails
were found in his custody. He was punished with two dozen lashes, but would impeach none of his accomplices.
The Ceremonies of an Indian Funeral particularly described :
General Observations on the Subject : A Character found among the Indians to which the Ancients paid great tion: A Robbery at the Fort, and its Consequences; with a Specimen of Indian Cookery, and various Incidents.
On the 5th, we kept his majesty's birth-day; for though it is the 4th, we were unwilling to celebrate it during the absence of the two parties who had been sent out to observe the transit. We had several of the Indian chiefs at our entertainment, who drank his majesty's health by the name of Kihiargo, which was the nearest imitation they could produce of King George.
About this time died, an old woman of some rank, who was related to Tomio, which gave us an opportunity to see how they disposed of the body, and confirmed us in our opinion that these people, contrary to the present custom of all other nations now known, never bury their dead. In the middle of a small square, neatly railed in with bamboo, the awning of a canoe was raised upon two posts, and under this the body was deposited upon such a frame as has before been described : It was covered with fine cloth, and near it was placed bread-fruit, fish, and other provisions : We supposed that the food was placed there for the spirit of the deceased, and consequently, that these Indians had some confused notion of a separate state ; but upon our applying for further information to Tubourai Tamaide, he told us, that the food was placed there as an offering to their gods. They do not, however, suppose, that the gods eat, any more than the Jews supposed that Jehovah could dwell in a house : The offering is made here upon the same principle as the temple was built at Jerusalem, as an expression of reverence and gratitude, and a solicitation of the more immediate
of the Deity. In the front of the area was a kind of stile, where the relations of the deceased stood to pay the tribute of their sorrow; and under the awning were innumerable small pieces of cloth, on which the tears and blood of the mourners had been shed; for in their paroxysms of grief it is a universal custom to wound themselves with the shark's tooth. Within a few yards two occasional houses were set up, in one of which some relations of the deceas. ed constantly resided, and in the other the chief mourner, who is always a man, and who keeps there a very singular dress in which a ceremony is performed that will be described in its turn. Near the place where the dead are thus set up to rot, the bones are afterwards buried.
What can have introduced among these people the custom of exposing their dead above ground, till the flesh is consumed by putrefaction, and then burying the bones, it is perhaps iinpossible to guess; but it is remarkable that Ælian and Apollonius Rhodius impute a similar practice to the ancient inhabitants of Colchis, a country near Pontus in Asia, now called Mingrelia ; except that among them this manner of disposing of the dead did not extend to both sexes : The women they buried; but the men they wrapped in a hide, and hung up in the air by a chain. This practice among the Colchians is referred to a religious
The principal objects of their worship were the Earth and the Air; and it is supposed that, in consequence of some superstitious notion, they devoted their dead to both. Whether the natives of Otaheite had any notion
* If the Colchians, according to the assertion of Herodotus, Euter. 104, are to be considered as derived from the Egyptians, which some circumstances of resemblance render probable, it seems not irrational to imagine, that they had acquired from that people an abhorrence to the thought of becoming food for worms. This, Herodotus says, in Thal. 16. was the reason why they (the Egyptians) embalmed the bodies of the dead; for which the practice adopted by the Colchians, of wrapping them in hides of oxen for the purpose of preservation, was judged an adequate substiLute. But though this be admitted as satisfactory with respect to the origin of the usage, it affords no explanation as to the difference observable in the treatment of the sexes after death, which must be looked for in some other circumstance, common to these two people, or peculiar to one of them. It can scarcely be imputed to the different estimation in which the sexes were held whilst living; for if any thing, at least in the opinion of Diodorus Siculus, the women were in higher authority in Egypt than the men, in so far as civil and political rights were concerned. On the other hand, it is certain from Herodotus, that men alone could officiate in the service of their gods, whether male or female, and that there were no priestesses in Egypt. No reason can be discovered for this exclusion.
of the same kind, we were never able certainly to determine; but we soon discovered, that the repositories of their dead were also places of worship. Upon this occasion it may be observed, that nothing can be more absurd than the notion that the happiness or wisery of a future life depends, in any degree, upon the disposition of the body when the state of probation is past; yet that nothing is more general than a solicitude about it. However cheap we may hold any funeral rites which custom has not familiarized, or superstition rendered sacred, most men gravely deliberate how to prevent their body from being broken by the mattock and devoured by the worm, when it is no longer capable of sensation ; and purchase a place for it in holy ground, when they believe the lot of its future existence to be irrevocably determined. So strong is the association of pleasing or painful ideas with certain opinions and actions which affect us while we live, that we involuntarily act as if it was equally certain that they would affect us in the same manner when we are dead, though this is an opinion that nobody will maintain. Thus it happens, that the desire of preserving from reproach even the name that we leave behind us, or of procuring it honour, is one of the most powerful principles of action, among the inhabitants of the most speculative and enlightened nations. Posthumous reputation, upon every principle, must be acknowledged to have no influence upon the dead ; yet the desire of obtaining and securing it, no force of reason, no habits of thinking can subdue, except in those whom habitual baseness and guilt have rendered indifferent to ho
It is merely credible, that the Egyptians, though ascribing great excellence to the female sex in various particulars, nevertheless judged them to be destitute of that principle which constituted the essence of the gods, and therefore unfit for their society. Possibly they might in consequence imagine them to be incapable of immortality and transmigration, a belief which they so firmly maintained, as to be led to specify the various changes which the soul underwent for the space of three thousand years, when it re-assumed the human body." Now, if the Colchians credited this doctrine of the immortality and transmigration of the soul, and at the same time depreciated for any reasons whatever the dignity of women, one may easily conceive why they should think of a difference in the mode of disposing of male and female corpses. After all, however, such reasoning as this is very far from satisfactory; nevertheless, in the mind of the judicious reuder, accustomed to contemplate the minute circumstances, which, though much modified, prove a connection betwixt different people, it cannot but have some weight.-E.
nour and shame while they lived. This indeed seems to be among the happy imperfections of our nature, upon which the general good of society in a certain measure depends ; for as some crimes are supposed to be prevented by hanging the body of the criminal in chains after he is dead, so, in consequence of the same association of ideas, much good is procured to society, and much evil prevented, by a desire of preventing disgrace or procuring honour to a name, when nothing but a name remains
Perhaps no better use can be made of reading an account of manners altogether new, by which the follies and absurdities of mankind are taken out of that particular connection in which habit has reconciled them to us, than to consider in how many instances they are essentially the same. When an honest devotee of the church of Rome reads, that there are Indians on the banks of the Ganges who believe that they shall secure the happiness of a future state by dying with a cow's tail in their hands, he laughs at their folly and superstition, and if these Indians were to be told, that there are people upon the continent of Europe, who imagine that they shall derive the same advane tage from dying with the slipper of St Francis upon their foot, they would langh in their turn. But if, when the Indian heard the account of the catholic, and the catholic that of the Indian, each was to reflect, that there was no difference between the absurdity of the slipper and of the tails but that the veil of prejudice and custom, which covered it in their own case, was withdrawn in the other, they would turn their knowledge to a profitable purpose.
Having observed that bread-fruit had for some days been brought in less quantities than usual, we enquired the reason, and were told, that there being a great shew of fruit upon the trees, they had been thinned all at once, in order to make a kind of sour paste, which the natives call Mahie, and which, in consequence of having undergone a fermentation, will keep à considerable time, and supply them with food when no ripe fruit is to be had.
On the 10th, the ceremony was to be performed, in honour of the old woman whose sepulchral tabernacle bas just been described, by the chief mourner; and Mr Banks had so great a curiosity to see all the mysteries of the solemnily, that he determined to take a part in it, being told, that he could be present upon no other condition. In the even