Abbildungen der Seite

and tying the strips together, they make their fishing 1770. nets; some of which, as I have before remarked, are . Marthof an enormous size.

A plant, which with such advantage might be applied to so many useful and important purposes, would certainly be a great acquisition to England, where it would probably thrive with very little trouble, as it seems to be hardy, and to affect no particular foil; being found equally in hill and valley; in the driest mould, and the deepest bogs: the bog, however, it seems rather to prefer, as near such places we observed it to be larger than elsewhere.

I have already observed, that we found great plenty of iron sand in Mercury Bay, and therefore that iron ore is undoubtedly to be found at no great distance. As to other metals, we had scarcely knowledge enough of the country for conjecture.

If the settling of this country should ever bethought an object worthy the attention of Great Britain, the best place for establishing a colony would be either on the banks of the Thames, or in the country bordering on the Bay of Islands. In either place there would be the advantage of an excellent harbour; and, by means of the river, settlements might be extended, and a communication established with the inland parts of the country: vessels might be built of the fine timber which abounds in these parts, at very little trouble and expence, fit for such a navigation as would answer the purpose. I cannot indeed exactly assign the depth of water which a vessel intended to navigate this river, even as far up as I went with the boat, mould draw, because this depends upon the depth of water that is upon the bar, or flats, which lie before the narrow part of the river, for I had no opportunity to make myself acquainted with them; but 1 am of opinion, that a vessel which sliould draw not more than twelve feet would perfectly answer the purpose.

When we first arrived upon the coast of this country, we imagined it to be-much better peopled than we afterwards found it, concluding that the inland parts were populous from the smoke that we saw at a considerable distance from the shore; and perhaps that


<77°- may really be the case with respect to the country be""''""""■ ^ind Poverty Bay, and the Bay of Plenty, where the inhabitants appeared to be more numerous than in' other places. "But we had reason to believe, that, in general, no part of the country but the sea coast is inhabited; and even there we found the people but thinly scattered, all the western coast from Cape Maria Van Diemen to Mount Egmont being totally desolate; so that upon the whole the number of inhabitants bears no proportion to the extent of country.


A Description of the Inhabitants, their Habitations,
. Apparel, Ornaments, Food, Cookery, and Manner of
Life. .

THE stature of the men,in general is equal to the
largest of those in Europe: they are stout, well
limbed, and fleshy; but not fat, like the lazy and
luxurious inhabitants of the islands in the South Seas:
they are also exceedingly vigorous and active, and have
an adroitness, and manual dexterity in an uncommon
degree which are discovered in whatever they do. I
have seen the strokes of fifteen paddles on a side in one
of their canoes made with incredible quickness, and
yet with such minute exactness of time, that all the
rowers seemed to be actuated by one common soul.
Their colour in general is brown; but in few deeper
than that of a Spaniard, who has been exposed to the
sun ; in many not so deep. The women have not a
feminine delicacy in their appearance, but their voice
is remarkably soft; and by that, the dress of both
sexes being the fame, they are principally distinguish-
ed: they have, however, like the women of other
countries, more airy cheerfulness, and a greater flow
of animal spirits, than the other sex. Their hair,
both of the head and beard, is black: and their teeth
extremelv regular, and as white as ivory: the features ■
of both Vexes are good; they seem to enjoy high
health and we saw many who appeared to be of a
great age. The dispositions both of the men- and the


women seemed to be mild and gentle; they treat each other with the tenderest affection, but are implacable towards their enemies, to whom, as I have before observed, they never give quarter. It may perhaps, at first, seem strange, that where there is so little to bs got by victory, there should so often be war; and that every little district of a country inhabited by people so mild and placid, should be at enmity with all the rest. But possibly more is to be gained by victory among ^hese people than at first appears, and they may be prompted to mutual hostilities by motives which no degree of friendship or affection is able to resist. It appears, by the account that has already been given of them, that their principal food is fish, which can only be procured upon the sea-coast; and there, in sufficient quantities, only at certain times; the tribes,, therefore, who live inland, if any such there are, and even those upon the coast, must be frequently in danger of perishing by famine. Their country produces neither sheep, nor goats, nor hogs, nor cattle; tame fowls they have none, nor any art by which those that are wild can be caught in sufficient plenty to serve as provision. If there are any whose situation cuts them off from a supply of fill), the only succedaneum of all other animal food, except dogs, they have nothing to support life, but the vegetables that have already been mentioned, of which the chief are fern root, yams, clams, and potatoes; when by accident these fail;, the distress must be dreadful ; and even among the inhabitants of the coast, many tribes must frequently be reduced to nearly the fame situation, either by the failure of their plantations, or the deficiency of their dry stock, during the season when but tew fish are to be caught. These considerations will enable us to account, not only for the perpetual danger in which the people who inhabit ,this country appear to live, by tlie care which they take to fortify every village, but for the horrid practice of eating those who are killed in battle; for the hunger of him who is pressed by famine to fight, will absorb every feeling, and every sentiment. which would restrain him from allaying it with the body of his adversary. It may however be remark id, that, if this account of the origin of so horrid a prac


'7 7e- tice is true, the mischief does by no means end witfe , the necessity that produced it: after the practice has been once begun on one fide by hunger, it will naturally be adopted on the other by revenge. Nor is this all, for though it may be pretended, by some who wish to appear speculative and philosophical, that whether the dead body of an enemy be eaten or buried, is in itself a matter perfectly indifferent; as it is, whether the breasts and thighs of a woman should be covered or naked; and that prejudice and habit only make us shudder at the violation of custom in one instance, and blush at it in the other: yet, leaving this as a point of doubtful disputation, to be discussed at leisure, it may safely be affirmed, that the practice of eating human flesh, whatever it may be in itself, is relatively and in its consequences, most pernicious: tending manifestly to eradicate a principle which is the chief security of human life, and more frequently restrains the hand of murder than the fense of duty, or even the fear of punishment.

Among those who are accustomed to eat the dead, death must have lost much of its horror; and where there is little horror at -the sight of death, there wilt not be much repugnance to kill. A fense of duty, and fear of punishment, may be more easily surmounted than the feelings of Nature, or those which have been engrafted by Nature by early prejudice and uninterrupted custom. The horror of the murderer arises less from the guilt of the fact, than its natural effect; and he who has familiarised the effect, will consequently lose much of the horror. By our laws, and our religion, murder and theft incur the fame punishment, both in this world and the next; yet, of the multitude who would deliberately steal, there are but very few who would deliberately kill, even to procure much greater advantage. But there is the strongest reason to believe, that those who have been so accustomed to prepare a human body for a meal, that they can with as little feeling cut up a dead man, as our cook-maids divide a dead rabbi* for a fricassee, would feel as littJe horror in committing a murder as in picking a pocket, and consequently would take away life with as li'ttle compunction as property; so that men, under these

circumstances, circumstances, would be made murderers by the flight temptations that now make them thieves. If any man doubts whether this reasoning is conclusive, let him ask himself whether, in his own opinion, he should notbe safer with a man in whom the horror of destroying life is strong, whether, in consequence of natural instinct unsubdued, or of early prejudice, which has nearly an e .ual influence, than in the power of a man who under any temptation to murder him would be restrained only by considerations of interest; for to these all motives of duty may be reduced, as they must terminate either in hope of good, or fear of evil.

The situation and circumstances, however, of these poor people, as well as their temper, are favourable to those who shall settle as a colony among them. Their situation sets them in need of protection, and their temper renders it easy to attach them by kindness; and whatever may be said in favour of a savage life, among people who live in luxurious idleness upon the bounty of Nature, civilization would certainly be a blessing to those whom her parsimony scarcely furnistie3 with the bread of life, and who are perpetually destroying each other by violence, as the only alternative of perishing by hunger.

But these people, from whatever cause, being inured to war, and by habit considering every stranger as an enemy, were always disposed to attack us when they were not intimidated by our manifest superiority.. At first, they had no notion of any superiority but numbers; and when this was on their side, they considered all our expressions of kindness as the artifices of fear and cunning, to circumvent them, and preserve ourselves: but when we are once convinced of our power, after having provoked us to the use of our fire-arms, though loaded only with small shot, and of our clemency, by our forbearing to make use of weapons so dreadful except in our defence, they became at once friendly, and even affectionate, placing in us the most unbounded confidence, and doing every thing which could incite us to put equal confidence in liiem. It is also remarkable, that when an intercourse was once established between us, they were

« ZurückWeiter »