« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
JOURNAL OF CIVILIZATION.
UNDER THE SUPERINTENDENCE OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF CIVILIZATION.
THE BLACK RACES OF POLYNESIA. THERE is a problem relating to the inhabitants of the vast ocean situated between Asia and America, the solution of which is of great importance in connexion with the subject of civilization. Do these inhabitants belong to one nation? If not, are they all equally disposed to receive Christian enlightenment?
over the Pacific, arose a necessity for some sort
In the earlier stages of our geographical knowledge, the islands near the south-east coast of Asia were classed as belonging to that continent, while those off the western coast of America-distant by the whole breadth of the Pacific from the former The point to which we have to draw attention is, -were included in America. But with our know- that the inhabitants of Papua and several adjacent ledge of the vast assemblage of islands scattered | islands in Australasia present, with few exceptions,
PART VI.-NO. XXII.
of hypotheses as to the origin of these islanders; but before noticing these, it will be desirable to refer to Mr. Williams's "Missionary Enterprises," for the connexion between the two races.
After drawing the distinction between the two races, Mr. Williams observes: "Hitherto missionary labours have been entirely confined to the copper-coloured natives; we have now, however,
marked features of person and character very different from those of Polynesia. The late Rev. John Williams, who united with the pious zeal of the missionary a large measure of scientific and practical knowledge, was forcibly impressed with this difference. The Papuas (or, as he terms them, the Western Polynesians) are allied to the Negro, having an herculean frame, black skin, and woolly or rather crisped hair; whereas the Poly-proceeded so far west as to reach the Negro race, nesians (the Eastern Polynesians of Williams) have bright, lank, and glossy hair, light copper-coloured skin, and countenance resembling that of the Malay. Papua or New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, the Louisiade Archipelago, and Solomon's Isles, are included by Mr. Williams in the former list; while the Sandwich, Society, Friendly, Austral, Marquesan, New Zealand, and some other groups of islands, are those in which the copper-coloured race dwells. This classification, and indeed every other which we could adopt, would be liable to objection, because some of the islands contain both races; but it is of the races themselves that we have here to speak.
Dr. Forster, who accompanied Captain Cook in his second voyage round the globe, remarked this difference in the two races; but also remarked that the two became in some instances combined, as it were, into one. He says: "Each of these two races of men is again divided into several varieties, which form the gradations towards the other race; so that we find some of the first race almost as black and slender as some of the second, and in this second race are some strong athletic figures that might almost vie with the first." Dr. Prichard, after alluding to the circumstance that the Negrolike inhabitants of New Guinea and the neighbouring islands are called Pua-pua (blacks) by the Polynesians, and that our name Papuas has been thence derived, proceeds to state that a third class or race seems to exist, including all those tribes found in New Holland, and in some islands of the Indian Archipelago, who, in their savage character and destitute condition, as well as in the complexion most prevalent among them, resemble the Papuas; but differ from the latter in their hair, | which, instead of being crisp or woolly, is lank and straight, as well as in some other physical peculiarities.
The Rev. William Ellis, in his "Polynesian Researches," drew attention to the many points of resemblance between the inhabitants of the Malayan peninsula and neighbouring islands, and those of the Polynesian islands generally (omitting the islands of which New Guinea may be deemed the centre). He traces similarity in the domestic customs, the marriage ceremonies, the funeral rites, the canoes, the languages, and the occupations, of all these islanders, although widely separated by space. Mr. Ellis proceeds to offer a train
and our next effort will be to impart the blessing to them. To this we are encouraged by the fact, (and a fact more interesting can scarcely be found,) that nearly the whole nation of Polynesian Asiatics is now converted to the Christian faith." Supposing the Malay group and the Polynesian groups to be one common race, then the Papua race is situated between them in geographical position; and it becomes a curious question how they came to those islands, and from what quarter. Mr. Williams offered an hypothesis, that this Papua or Negro race inhabited the whole of the islands prior to the arrival of the Malay Polynesians; that the latter, being a fierce and treacherous people, succeeded in conquering and extirpating them from the smaller islands and groups, but were unable to effect this in the larger ones; and that consequently they were left in quiet possession of the islands which their posterity still inhabit.
Supposing this hypothesis to be conceded (and we are not yet in possession of materials either for proving or denying it), the next point is, whence and how did the copper-coloured natives reach the Polynesian islands? Mr. Ellis, although he found great similarity between the Polynesians and the Malayans, also alludes to the resemblance between the former and the native Americans, and seems inclined to the opinion that America is the country whence the islands were peopled; or rather, that while certain circumstances favour the opinion that the islanders migrated from the west, other circumstances, such as the direction of the tradewinds, render such a proceeding inexplicable. If they were peopled from the Malayan Islands, he thinks the migrants must have possessed better vessels, and more accurate knowledge of the navigation, than they now exhibit, to have made their way against the constant trade-winds prevailing within the tropics, and blowing regularly, with but transient and uncertain interruptions, from east to west.
Mr. Williams, however, does not think these objections forcible enough to overturn the strong probability of the Malayan origin of the Polyne sians. The distance from the Malayan coast to Tahiti and other Polynesian islands, one of the objections urged, he thinks is not insuperable; for although this distance is seven thousand miles, yet the intervening space is so bespangled with islands, which might serve as resting-places, that the migration might have consisted of several short voy
THE BLACK RACES OF POLYNESIA.
east of Australia? The remark of poor Williams, that missionary labours "have been entirely confined to the copper-coloured natives," was written five or six years ago; and in a subsequent part of his narrative, while speaking of the Polynesian Negroes, who had not yet been visited by missionaries, he said, "To that people I shall, on my return, direct my principal attention; I trust that British Christians, encouraged by the result of their efforts on behalf of the other race, will be still more anxious for the conversion of this, and never relax their efforts, or suspend their prayers, till all the islands that stud the vast Pacific shall be enlightened and blessed with the Gospel of salvation." It was at one of the islands here spoken of that Mr. Williams lost a life which had been productive of so much good to his fellow-creatures; and by the hands of those whom he was striving to benefit.
ages, instead of one very long one. Borneo, Cele- | Negroes, inhabiting the islands which lie northbes, Bessey, Ceram, New Guinea, New Hebrides, Feejee Islands, Friendly Islands, Navigators', and Harvey Islands, furnish links of a chain, so numerous, that the greatest water distance from one to another is seven hundred miles. If, then, the Malayans could go seven hundred miles in canoes eastward, the difficulty vanishes by supposing the migration to have taken place by degrees. But then comes the objection of the eastern tradewinds. To this objection Mr. Williams remarks, that, notwithstanding the general tendency of the eastern wind, there are, every two months, westerly gales for a few days, and, in February, there are what the natives call westerly twins, when the wind blows from the west several days, then veers round the compass, and in the course of twenty-four hours comes from this point again. "I have frequently seen it," he adds, “continue for eight or ten days; and, on one occasion, for more than a fortnight; so that the difficulty presented by the supposed uniform prevalence of the easterly winds, is quite imaginary. In addition to this, as I have already shown, the longest stage in an easterly direction, in performing a voyage from Sumatra to Tahiti, would be seven hundred miles; and I myself, in my first voyage to the Navigators', sailed sixteen dred miles due east in a few days." To the objection that the canoes now used by the Polynesians are not adequate to the performance of long voyages, Mr. Williams brings forward numerous proofs that the Malayan nations, in bygone times, were wont to employ vessels very superior to the Polynesian canoe of the present day; and he supposes that in those superior vessels the navigation was made. But whatever may have been the source whence the Polynesians reached the numerous clusters of islands which they now inhabit, we have the concurrent testimony of Mr. Ellis, Mr. Williams, and other intelligent men, that these copper-coloured natives have a strong capacity for receiving the seeds of Christian civilization, and an affectionate regard for those who labour among them to that end. On one occasion, when Mr. Williams was at Sydney, the captain of a ship, recently arrived from these islands, gave him an account of what he had seen at the Navigators' and other groups, and told him that "it is of no use to take muskets and powder to these groups; that nothing is demanded by the people but books, missionaries, pens, ink, slates, and paper." We may describe an immense triangle in the Pacific ocean, the angles of which will be the Sandwich Islands, the Dangerous Archipelago, and New Zealand; and between these limits we shall find a large number of missionaries now engaged, in imparting to the copper-coloured natives the truths of Christianity and the usages of civilized life.
After Mr. Williams's return to England, he engaged, in conjunction with the London Missionary Society (whose agent he had been) in the prosecution of various plans for the furtherance of this object; and as he proposed to make frequent exploratory voyages, from those islands where missions were established to others which had not yet been hun-visited, it was deemed advisable to provide a missionary ship, to be at the disposal of the Society for missionary purposes. The necessary funds were speedily subscribed, and in the early part of the year 1838, the Camden, a vessel of 200 tons burden, was purchased, and fitted out with everything which foresight and benevolence could devise. The control of the ship was vested in Mr. Williams, on behalf of the Society; Captain Morgan, with a crew of good character, being employed to navigate it. On the 11th of April, 1838, Mr. Williams, with a party of missionaries and their wives, destined for Polynesia, left London in the Camden, and proceeded on their long voyage to a region far away from friends and country.
It may next be asked, however, whether anything is now doing among the Papuas or Polynesian
On the 8th of September the voyagers reached Sydney in safety, after a voyage of five months; and Mr. Williams, after staying there for a few weeks to make arrangements connected with the Society, proceeded onwards towards the Navigators' Islands. On the 19th, Mr. Williams touched at the island of Tanna, one of the New Hebrides, included among the group to which his earnest thoughts had been directed. The result of a brief interview with the natives was satisfactory to him; and he thence proceeded to the neighbouring island of Erromanga. Here he found a race of people differing both in appearance and in language from any whom he before encountered; and after many ineffectual entreaties to them to come on board the vessel, he landed among them, accompanied by Mr. Harris. At first he had hopes of acquiring their confidence; but in a very short time he was knocked down by a native with a club,
and in a few minutes pierced to the heart by arrows. The details of this melancholy event we do not propose to dwell upon here; but we mention it in relation to our present subject, viz., the civilization of the Papuas,-the first attempt at which resulted in the sacrifice of the benevolent man who undertook it.
can better show, in a style which the others can understand, the nature of the benefits which civilization confers on them. More recent accounts, received from the same quarter, tend to confirm the idea that permanent benefit may be conferred on these black natives. The islands we have named are at the eastern margin of this Polynesian negro-land (if we may use the term); and if the margin can be influenced, the central body will be pretty sure to share in the benefit by degrees.
We think it necessary to speak in this place of the Wesleyan mission at the Feejee (Fiji) islands, because Mr. Williams includes these islands as part of the Polynesian negro-land. He says, after
by brother missionaries, has given evidence in the successive letters which he forwarded to England, of the capacity of the natives for receiving instruction.
But there is no reason for believing that the attempt will continue to be met by insuperable difficulties, although they may be formidable. The New Hebrides were among those islands which Mr. Williams marked as being inhabited by Papuas, or by races nearly allied to them; and Tanna, one of these, presented a field which filled him with hope. When the Camden conveyed the news of Mr. Wil-speaking of the copper-coloured race, “the former liams's death to the Navigators' Islands, Mr. Heath, race, which we may designate the Polynesian negro, a missionary on that station, resolved to take up is found from the Fijis to the coast of New Hol the work which had been begun, and to convey land;" and at the time when he was preparing the native teachers to such of the New Hebrides as materials for his narrative, the Fiji islands were would receive them; that is, copper-coloured Poly- ranked among those which he said had not yet nesians, who had been converted to Christianity, received Christian aid. But since then a mission were to act as teachers to the New Hebrideans, has been established there by the Wesleyan Soa remarkable instance of the agency by which civi- ciety; and the Rev. D. Cargill, who was at these lization may be effected. Mr. Heath, after describ-islands, sometimes alone, and at other times aided ing the first part of his voyage in the Camden, states: "We thence proceeded to the New Hebrides, and first to Tanna, at which island three teachers were placed by Mr. Williams on the day before he was killed. We had been recommended not to anchor there; nor should we have done so but for the assurance of some of the chiefs, and one of the teachers, who came out to meet us in the offing, that we might go in with safety; we therefore anchored, and remained in Resolution Bay for three nights." Mr. Heath had considerable intercourse with the people, and found that from thirty to forty attended worship with the teachers whom Mr. Williams had left there. After making some presents, and purchasing articles from the natives, Mr. Heath left two additional teachers, natives of the Navigators' Islands, and proceeded to another island, named Immer, accompanied by a Tanna chief, who acted as interpreter. After a little negociation, one of the chiefs of Immer agreed to receive native teachers on the island, and these were accordingly left there. He then proceeded to the fatal Erromanga, having on board his vessel two native teachers, who had expressly undertaken to go to the island where Mr. Williams had been killed. Here again the negotiations succeeded; the chiefs (in a different part of the island from that at which Williams landed) agreed to receive the native teachers among them; as did also those in the neighbouring island of New Caledonia.
We thus think, that there is little ground for doubt as to the possibility of bringing the Polynesian blacks into the same scale as civilized beings with their copper-coloured brethren of the more eastern districts. The single circumstance of the murder of poor Williams, sad as it is, proves nothing in the matter; for in another part of the same island teachers have been since received. It is impossible now to say what momentary fit of apprehension or suspicion may have influenced their conduct; but that such should continue to influence them, there is no ground for believing. If the agents of Christian civilization are now labouring at the Feejee or Fiji islands, and at other islands very much nearer to New Guinea, and connected with it by a close chain of islands, the western progress from the one to the other end of this chain seems not more difficult than other moral conquests which have been achieved within a few years.
Besides this, we may remark that the immense country of Australia, peopled principally by a black race, now contains missionaries in various parts, who from time to time report the progress which they are making. As these Australians possess the black hue of the Papua race, with the smooth, sleek hair of the Polynesians, it would not per
There thus appears to be a beginning-a breaking of the ground-by which intercourse may perhaps be an irrational conjecture that they are a haps be established between the missionaries and the Polynesian blacks. The copper-coloured natives are the pioneers, who can, perhaps, better prepare the way than whites themselves, since they
mixed race, compounded of the other two. If we adopt Williams's theory of the usurpation, by copper-coloured people, of islands belonging to aboriginal Papuas, we may perhaps attribute
to the intermarriage of the two races, the production of others which seem to belong in some respects to both. Blumenbach and Dr. Prichard both trace the existence of certain peculiarities throughout the inhabitants of the whole of this wide region, even from Madagascar to the coast of America; and Mr. Cargill has found a striking resemblance between the language at Feejee, and that at the Sandwich Islands.
We may affirm, then, that there is no peculiarity in any of these islanders, which shuts them out from the pale of Christianity and civilization.
THE attention of the intelligent and inquiring among all classes in this country has for many years past been directed, with more or less constancy, towards the condition of the negro race, and the means which exist for their religious and intellectual improvement. The question, whether one of the great branches of the family of man is to remain for ever plunged in ignorance, vice, and misery, and to serve no other purpose than that of ministering to the wants and passions of their more
powerful brethren, has happily become a subject which not only engages the thoughts of the philanthropist, but which forces itself on the attention even of those who can only be awakened to exertion by motives of a more interested character. Still, however, to the vast majority of persons the name of negro suggests no other ideas than those of degradation and suffering, unless they be accompanied (as they too often are) with a conviction of mental incapacity so great as to unfit the people of that race for ever rising to a condition much superior to that which they now occupy; and if such persons were told of a community of black men submitting to a constitutional and legal form of government, administered for the most part by officers chosen among themselves, engaging in the usual commercial and social intercourse of civilized life, holding public meetings, discussing topics of importance, and passing resolutions expressive of their opinions upon them, contributing original articles to a literary periodical conducted-(and not unably conducted)-by one of their own race,
and supporting schools for the social and moral as well as intellectual education of the young of either sex,-they would be apt to regard the whole relation as a chimera of the imagination, or at least as a romantic dream of the future, which had little prospect of being realised. Yet such a community does actually exist, and such results have, to some extent at least, been achieved in the colony of LIBERIA; it is the purport of the present article to lay before our readers a brief statement of where and what Liberia is.
It will be a sufficient explanation of the origin of this colony to state, that an anxious desire on the part of many benevolent individuals in the United States to provide the free negroes of that country with some asylum, where they might exercise the rights and privileges to which they are entitled, apart from the influence of those degrading prejudices of caste which, in that continent, prevent the freedom of the black man from being anything more than nominal while in the society of white communities, led to the formation, in the year 1817, of a Society