Imatges de pÓgina

Captain Hall's observations on a coral-reef formation, on the western side of the great Loo-choo island.

The examination of a coral reef during the different stages of one tide is particularly interesting. When the tide has left it for some time it becomes dry, and appears to be a compact rock, exceedingly hard and ragged; but as the tide rises, and the waves begin to wash over it, the coral worms protrude themselves from holes which were before invisible. These animals are of a great variety of shapes and sizes, and in such prodigious numbers, that, in a short time, the whole surface of the rock appears to be alive and in motion. The most common worm is in the form of a star, with arms from four to six inches long, which are moved about with a rapid motion in all directions, probably to catch food. Others are so sluggish, that they may be mistaken for pieces of the rock, and are generally of a dark colour, and from four to five inches long, and two or three round. When the coral is broken, about high water mark, it is a solid hard stone, but if any part of it be detached at a spot which the tide reaches every day, it is found to be full of worms of different lengths and colours, some being as fine as a thread and several feet long, of a bright yellow, and sometimes of a blue colour: others resemble snails, and some are not unlike lobsters in shape, but soft, and not above two inches long.

The growth of coral appears to cease when the worm is no longer exposed to the washing of the sea. Thus, a reef rises in the form of a cauliflower, till its top has gained the level of the highest tides, above which the worm has no power to advance, and the reef of course no longer extends itself upwards. The other parts, in succession, reach the surface, and there stop, forming in time a level field with steep sides all round. The reef, however, continually increases, and being prevented from going higher, extends itself laterally in all directions. But this growth being as rapid at the upper edge as it is lower down, the steepness of the face of the reef is still preserved. These are the circumstances which render coral reefs so dangerous in navigation; for, in the first place, they are seldom seen above the water; and, in the next, their sides are so steep, that a ship's bows may strike against the rock before any change of soundings has given warning of the danger.'-p. 107 -109.

On approaching the great island of Loo-choo, they fell in with several canoes; and one man, appearing to be aware of what they were in search, directed them, by signs, to the quarter in which the principal harbour was situated. The conduct of the people in these canoes was singularly friendly; one handed up a jar of water, another, a basket of boiled sweet potatoes, without asking or appearing to wish for any return. Their manners,' Captain Hall says, were gentle and respectful; they uncovered their heads when in our presence; bowed whenever they spoke to us; and when we gave them some rum, they did not drink it till they had bowed to every person round. All this promised well, and was particularly grateful after the cold repulsive manners of the Coreans.'

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ment; saying, as he held out the last, "You go Ingeree, you give this to your childs."

Mr. Clifford gave him a few presents in return, and expressed his anxiety to be considered his friend. Mádera, with the tears streaming down his cheeks, placed his hand several times upon his heart, and cried, "Eedooshee, edooshee!" My friend, my friend!

To me he gave a fan and a picture of an old man looking up at the sun, drawn, he said, by himself: he probably meant in his picture some allusion to my usual occupation at the observatory. After he had put off in his boat, he called out, "Ingeree noo choo sibittee yootoosha," I shall ever remember the English people. When he went to the Alceste, one of the chiefs remarked that he had neither his hatchee-matchee on nor his robes, and told him that it was not respectful to wait upon Captain Maxwell for the last time, in his ordinary dress; particularly as all the others were in full array. Mádera, who, poor fellow, had been too much concerned about other matters to think of dress, was shocked at this apparent want of politeness, and went immediately to apologize to Captain Maxwell, who took him by the hand, and gave him a present, telling him, at the same time, that he was always too happy to see him, to notice what dress he had on.

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On going into the cabin, I found the chiefs seated in a row, all very disconsolate, and apparently trying to conceal emotions different, in all probability, from any which they had ever before experienced. Captain Maxwell had made them his parting present, and I therefore gave to each chief some trifle, receiving from them in return, their knives, pipes, pouches, and fans. In the mean time the anchor was hove up, and every thing being ready for making sail, the chiefs rose to take leave. Ookooma wished to say something, but was too much affected to speak, and before they reached their boats they were all in tears.

'Mádera cried bitterly as he shook hands with his numerous friends, who were loading him with presents.

The chiefs, as well as the people in the numerous canoes which had assembled round the ships, stood up, and continued waving their fans and handkerchiefs till we were beyond the reefs, and could see them no longer.'-p. 200--203.`、

The narratives of Captain Hall and Mr. M'Leod are well calculated to make an impression highly favourable to the character and happy condition of the Loo-choos. Their conduct to Captain Broughton, when wrecked near Taypinsan, (one of the group of islands,) gave the same idea of the humane and friendly disposition of these islanders. The Chinese and the Japanese agree in speaking of them as a cheerful and happy people. Kæmpfer says, 'the inhabitants, which are for the most part either husbandmen or fishermen, are a good natured merry sort of people, leading an agreeable contented life, diverting themselves, after their work is done, with a glass of rice beer, and playing upon their musical instruments, which they for this purpose carry out with them into the fields.' With all this it seems evident, that in their jealousy of strangers, they are perfect Chi


people mo besides me." They say, "too much men come;" I say, “No, no too much." They ax, "What time come?" I give no answer. -p. 93.

On this report the determination was taken of returning the visit. The ceremony of landing, their friendly reception, the decent behaviour of the multitude, and the entertainment which had been prepared for them are described pretty nearly in the same terms as in Mr. M'Leod's book. The feast consisted of hard boiled eggs, coloured and sliced, of fish fried in batter, sliced pork smoked, sliced pig's liver; then tea, which being new, resembled in taste an infusion of hay. A dish consisting of a mass of coarse, soft, black sugar, wrapped up in unbaked dough, and powdered over with rice flour dyed yellow, was the only unpalateable one; cakes in various shapes, with something like cheese, completed the entertainment; the intervals of which were filled up with cups of sackee,* pipes and tobacco; and every thing passed off with the greatest good humour and jollity. A hint was given towards the end of the entertainment, when every one appeared to be merry and good humoured, of a wish to go into the town, but the very mention of such a thing sobered the whole party in an instant, and the subject was accordingly dropped.

From this time, however, it was perceived that our visitors had gained a considerable step in the confidence of the Loo-choos; they now were occasionally allowed to go on shore and to walk up the side of a hill, though still under such surveillance as to make any little excursion irksome and uncomfortable, and it was in vain they urged the necessity of landing the sick. The departure of the Lyra, however, to examine the coast, produced the desired effect; the chiefs hastened on board the Alceste to inquire what was become of the little ship. Captain Maxwell told them that they had trifled with him so long, and refused to let him land his casks and stores with such obstinacy, that he found it necessary to look out for some more favourable place at which to refit. On hearing this they entreated that he would not think of moving from Napakiang; adding that he should have store-rooms on shore for whatever he desired; and that he and his officers might land where they pleased, and walk to the top of the hill without being guarded. In short, they now assigned for their immediate use an oblong enclosure, sixty yards by forty, surrounded by a wall twelve feet high. Of this prison (for such it might be considered) they kept undivided possession during the remainder of their stay, which was about a month.

A more intimate intercourse now began to take place; the three

* This liquor (which is distilled from rice) is called chazzi by Mr. M'Leod: suckee is the Japanese name, and chazzi (we suppose) their own, as we perceive it is so called by the Chinese ambassador. It is drank in very small cups.


or four persons who constantly attended them were all civility and good humour; among these was an individual of the name of Mádera, whose character is drawn with great ability, and excites a very considerable degree of interest.

Two of the natives have been studying English with great assiduity, and with considerable success. One is called Mádera, the other Anya. They carry note books in imitation of Mr. Clifford, in which they record in their own characters every word they learn. They are both keen fellows, and are always amongst the strangers. From the respect occasionally paid to them, it is suspected that their rank is higher than they give out, and that their object in pretending to be people of ordinary rank is to obtain a more free intercourse with all classes on board the ships. Mádera, by his liveliness and propriety of manners, has made himself a great favourite; he adopts our customs with a sort of intuitive readiness, sits down to table, uses a knife and fork, converses, and walks with us; in short, does every thing that we do, quite as a matter of course, without any apparent effort or study. He is further recommended to us by the free way in which he communicates every thing relating to his country; so that as he advances in English, and we in Loo-choo, he may be the means of giving us much information. As an instance of his progress in English, it may be mentioned, that one day he came on board the Lyra, and said, "The Ta-yin speak me, you go ship, John come shore;'" by which we understood that Captain Maxwell had sent him on board the brig for the interpreter. This was about three weeks after our arrival.'-pp. 132–133.

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There is something so fascinating in the conduct of this extraordinary man, that we cannot resist the temptation of entering more largely into it.

'Mádera has made great improvement in English, and his character is altogether more developed. He is quite at his ease in our company, and seems to take the most extraordinary interest in every thing belonging to us; but his ardent desire to inform himself on all subjects sometimes distresses him a good deal; he observes the facility with which we do some things, and his enterprizing mind suggests to him the possibility of his imitating us; but when he is made sensible of the number of steps by which alone the knowledge he admires is to be attained, his despair is strongly marked. He sometimes asks us to read English aloud to him, to which he always listens with the deepest attention. One day, on shore, he saw me with a book in my hand: he begged me to sit down under a tree and read: Jeeroo was the only chief present, but there were several of the peasants in attendance upon him; they all lay down on the grass, and listened with an attention and interest which are natural enough: every one expressed himself pleased and satisfied except Mádera, whose anxiety was to read in the same manner himself. From the earnest way in which he inquired into every subject, we were sometimes inclined to think that he must have been directed by the government to inform himself on these topics; and certainly a fitter person could not have been selected; for he adapted


himself so readily to all ranks, that he became at once a favourite, and every person took pleasure in obliging him.

'Jeeroo is esteemed in another way; he is uniformly good humoured and obliging, and not without curiosity; but he is not clever, and has none of the fire and enthusiasm of Mádera. We all think kindly of Jeeroo, and shake him cordially by the hand when we meet him; but Mádera is admired and respected, as well as esteemed, and his society is courted for his own sake.

Mádera is about twenty-eight years of age, of a slender figure, and very active; his upper teeth project in front over the lower ones, giving his face a remarkable, but not a disagreeable expression. He is always cheerful, and often lively and playful, but his good sense prevents his ever going beyond the line of strict propriety. When required by etiquette to be grave, no one is so immoveably serious as Mádera, and when mirth rules the hour, he is the gayest of the gay such indeed is his taste on these occasions, that he not only catches the outward tone of his company, but really appears to think and feel as they do. His enterprizing spirit and versatility of talent have led him to engage in a number of pursuits; his success, however, is the most remarkable in his acquisition of English: About a month after our arrival, he was asked what had become of his companion Anya; he replied, "Anya, him mother sick, he go him mother house;" and when asked if he would return, he said, "Two, three day time, him mother no sick, he come ship." With all these endowments and attainments he is unaffectedly modest, and never seems aware of his being superior to the rest of his countrymen. We were a long time in doubt what was his real rank; for at first he kept himself back, so that he was well known to the midshipmen, before the officers were at all acquainted with him: he gradually came forward, and though he always wore the dress of the ordinary respectable natives, his manners evidently belonged to a higher rank, but he never associated with the chiefs, and disclaimed having any pretensions to an equality with them. Notwithstanding all this, there were occasional circumstances, which, by shewing his authority, almost betrayed his secret. One morning a difficulty arose about some supplies which the chiefs had engaged to procure, but which they had neglected to send : as soon as Mádera was told of the circumstance, he went to Captain Maxwell, and undertook to arrange it to his satisfaction, at the same time begging that if any difficulty occurred in future, he might be applied to. Whatever may be Mádera's rank in his own society, it is highly curious to discover in a country so circumstanced, the same politeness, self-denial, and gracefulness of behaviour which the experience of civilized nations has pointed out as constituting the most pleasing and advantageous form of intercourse.

The great interest which Mádera took in the English, and the curiosity he always expressed about our customs at home, suggested the idea of taking him with us to England, where he would have been an interesting specimen of a people so little known; and he also might have carried back knowledge of the greatest use to his country. When it was proposed to him, he paused for some minutes, and then, shaking

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