Imatges de pàgina

his head, said, "I go Injeree, father, mother, childs, wife, house, all cry! not go; no, no, all cry !"'-p. 156-159.

A few days before they sailed, the prince of Loo-choo, heir to the throne, paid a visit to the Alceste, and invited the officers to an entertainment on shore. He was about fifty years old, his beard full and white, and his figure well proportioned. He was a man of plain, unaffected manners, and though there was nothing striking about him, it was thought that in making inquiries into different things on board, he shewed more discrimination than most of those who had preceded him.


Nothing, however, that occurred to-day, attracted more notice than Mádera's assumption of his long concealed rank. He came for the first time dressed in the robes and hatchee-matchee of a chief, and not only took precedence of all our old friends, but during the discussion in the cabin with the Prince, maintained a decided superiority over them all. While all the rest were embarrassed in the Prince's presence, and crouching on their knees every time they spoke, Mádera, though always respectful, was quite at his ease; and we could not help fancying that he addressed the Prince as if accustomed to his society. It was no less remarkable, that the Prince referred much oftener to him than to any of the rest, and listened to what he said with greater attention. Whether Madera owed such distinction to his actual rank, which may have. placed him about the court, or to the ascendancy of his talents, or to the accidental circumstance of his having had better opportunities of knowing us than any other of the natives, we could never discover. He admitted, when interrogated, that he had often seen the Prince before, while the other chiefs confessed their ignorance even of his person, before to-day.

As soon as the Prince was placed in his chair and carried away, Mádera came on board, and entered with great good humour into all the jokes which were made upon his new character. He declined telling why he had kept his rank so long out of sight, but it was sufficiently obvious that his main object was to establish an intimacy with all the different classes on board the ships, and in this he completely succeeded; for he had gradually advanced in his acquaintance, first with the sailors, then the midshipmen, next with the officers, and last of all with the captains. By this means he gained the confidence and good will of each class as he went along; and by rising in consequence every day, instead of putting forward all his claims at once, acquired not only substantial importance with us, but gained a much more intimate knowledge of our character and customs than he could have hoped to do in any other way.'-p. 184, 185.

The time was now fast approaching for their departure; and never was regret more sincerely felt on both sides at taking leave of each other. The poor fellows who had been appointed to attend on the strangers, and who had taken so lively an interest in all that concerned them, were overwhelmed with grief on perceiving the prepa


nese; nor perhaps ought we to wonder at it. While we give them full credit, however, for the dexterous management of that suspicious vigilance which they exercised without giving offence, we must not withhold the praise due to Captain Maxwell for the patience and forbearance exemplified in his own person, and which influenced the conduct of all those under his orders. It was an instance of no slight degree of self-denial, to remain for a whole fortnight patiently on board, when anchored close to the shore, after a long voyage, or to refrain from entering the town, close to the gates of which they were quartered for a full month. Such conduct in the officers and crews of two ships of war is above all praise; and the good effects of it cannot fail of being experienced by such English vessels as may hereafter touch at Loo-choo. The British flag is not likely to meet with that rude repulse here which Captain Pellew, of the Phaeton frigate, is said to have experienced in the bay of Nangasaki, when he exacted from the Japanese that which they could not well spare, and the payment for which they refused with an observation, that all they asked was that he would leave their coast and never come near them again.

In conclusion, we are not quite sure that the two accounts of Captain Hall and Mr. M'Leod, though perfectly correct in every thing that came under their own observation, are not calculated to raise the national character of the Loo-choos somewhat above its proper level. Limited as the intercourse of our navigators was to a few persons especially appointed to superintend their wants and observe their movements; ignorant altogether, for some time at least, of the language, and communicating only by means of a Chinese servant, speaking broken English and provincial Chinese, it cannot be supposed that they enjoyed the means of obtaining either very extensive or very accurate information. The narrative of Su-poa-quang, a learned Chinese, who was sent by Kanghi, in 1719, to Loo-choo, with instructions to note down every thing curious or interesting with regard to those islands and their inhabitants, may probably therefore be considered as the most accurate account which has yet been given of these islanders. It was published at Pekin in two volumes; and as it differs in some respects from that of Captain Hall, it may not be amiss to notice one or two of these points of disagreement.

Captain Hall observes, that the tombs of the Loo-choos are, like those of the Chinese, generally in the form of a horse-shoe; that the coffin is placed in the vault under the tomb, and remains untouched for six or seven years, by which time the flesh is found to have separated and wasted away; when the bones are collected and put into jars, which are ranged in rows on the inside of the vault. Burning,' he adds, is never used at any stage of the proceedings, nor under any circumstances.' Su-poa-quang says that


they burn the flesh of the dead bodies, and collect and preserve the bones.'

Polygamy,' says Captain Hall, is not allowed in Loo-choo as in China they invariably spoke with horror of the Chinese practice, which allows a plurality of wives, and were much gratified on learning that the English customs in this respect were similar to those of Loo-choo.' Su-poa-quang asserts, on the contrary, that polygamy is allowed as in China; but that the young men and women see each other before marriage, and chuse for themselves. The complete state of degradation in which the females are, from both accounts, placed, detracts not a little from the many good qualities of these islanders; and the contempt and ridicule with which the priesthood appears to be treated is an unfavourable trait in the national character.


Captain Hall says, they appear to have no money, and, from all we could see or hear, they are even ignorant of its use'-' they set no value upon Spanish dollars.' The Spanish dollar is as little known in China beyond the province of Canton as in Loo-choo; and that extensive and populous empire has no other current coin than their base metal piece, which is the thousandth part of six and eight-pence; and which, as appears by Su-poa-quang, is carried away from the eastern coast of China in great abundance. Captain Hall further says, 'We saw no arms of any kind, and the natives always declared that they had none.' Yet Su-poa-quang says, they manufacture arms as an article of commerce, and that a military board forms one of the departments of government. We rather incline to the Chinese writer:-that a people should subsist in a high state of civilization without money or arms, appears altogether so extraordinary that we cannot wonder at the degree of scepticism with which the account has been received. When Lord Amherst mentioned this part of the Loo-choo polity to Buonaparte, he broke forth- No arms! Sacre! how do they carry on war then? When the same circumstances were related to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he is said to have exclaimed, 'No money! Bless me! how do they carry on the government?'

[ocr errors]

During our intercourse with these people,' says Captain Hall, 'there did not occur one instance of theft;' and he adds, this degree of honesty is a feature which distinguishes the people of Loochoo from the Chinese.' Is Captain Hall aware that, of the many thousand articles which the labouring Chinese transported both in Lord Macartney's and Lord Amherst's embassies-in the former, several hundred miles by land into the mountains of Tartary and back again not a single article was missing? We have heard indeed that he had himself an example of the honesty of the Chinese on the coast of Pe-tche-lee, where, having through forgetfulness left his



his watch among a crowd of Chinese in a town at some distance from the coast, on sending for it the following morning, he immediately recovered it. The common Chinese of Canton, it is true, are addicted to thieving and cheating; but are our own countrymen on the Point of Portsmouth, in Wapping, or in Houndsditch, quite immaculate in these respects? Do all foreigners who visit the port of Canton deal honestly with the Chinese? We refer to Mr. Barrow's book for an answer. Su-poa-quang, however, agrees with our navigators, and affirms that the Loo-choos are enemies to falsehood and dishonesty; yet we believe that, had Captain Maxwell put into any of the northern ports of China, under the same circumstances as into Napakiang, his reception from the Chinese would not have been very different from that which he experienced at the hands of these good people.

In fact, though originally Japanese or eastern Tartars, the Loochoos for the last thousand years or more have been so completely under the influence of the Chinese religion, government, laws, and customs, that they may be said to differ very little from them. Not long since a Loo-choo junk, on her voyage to Fokien, was driven to Macao, and we have been informed by an English gentleman, who went on board the vessel, that the Chinese of that place were delighted to see the crew, and hailed them as the descendants of the ancient Chinese, their dress and mode of pinning up their hair on the top of the head being the old costume of their countrymen, before they were conquered and shorn by the Tartars. If, therefore, they are found to excel the Chinese in virtue, it is not improbably to be ascribed, in some degree, to their seclusion from the rest of the world, and to the limited extent of their numbers, which requires a less rigid and a less suspicious administration of the government, than that which prevails in an empire containing the largest mass of population which exists, under the same code of laws, in the whole world.

ART. III. Foliage; or, Poems Original and Translated. By Leigh Hunt. Svo. London. 1818.


WINTER has at length passed away: spring returns upon us, like a reconciled mistress, with redoubled smiles and graces; and even we poor critics, in populous city pent,' feel a sort of ungainly inspiration from the starved leaflets and smutty buds in our window-pots; what, then, must be the feelings with which the Arcadian Hunt,

'half-stretched on the ground,

With a cheek-smoothing air coming taking him round,'-p. lxxxi. must welcome the approach of the 'fair-limbed' goddess to his


rural retreat at Hampstead? He owes her indeed especial gratitude; and it would be unpardonable in him to suffer his daysweet' voice, and smoothing-on' sleeking-up' harp to be mute upon this occasion. The spring is to Mr. Hunt, what the night was to Endymion, the season for receiving peculiar favours; the smiling Naiads,' and even the coy Ephydriads' will soon again admit him in sun-sprinkled ease' to their bath and toilette; while the bolder 'Nepheliads' will leave their chariots in the air to kiss with 'breathless lips serene' their 'little ranting' favourite adoncino d'amore.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Hunt's offering to the season (we do not mean the bookmaking and bookselling season) consists of foliage' and 'evergreens. Of each in order,-but first a few words of the dedication and preface. The former is addressed to a gentleman, of whom we know nothing, but who deserves, we doubt not, more than his friend's delicacy permitted him to record in his praise. Yet the good qualities which are with exquisite judgment selected, as entitling him to the honourable post which he occupies, must we think a little surprize even the possessor himself.

You are not one of those, who pay the strange compliment to heaven of depreciating this world, because you believe in another; you admire its beauties both in nature and art.' These are certainly very uncommon merits; but further- A rational piety and a manly patriotism does (do) not hinder you from putting the Phidian Jupiter over your organ, or flowers at the end of your room.' While we give the writer all due credit for the admirably close connection between the first and last part of this sentence, we must be excused if we hesitate to believe in the existence of magnanimity so super-human. The partiality of the friend is but too manifest in such praise; indeed Mr. Hunt seems to feel this himself, for he concludes by soothing the offended modesty of his hero-Pray pardon me this public compliment, for my own sake, and for sincerity's.'

The dedication is followed by a very entertaining preface; but we will take shame to ourselves, and honestly confess, that a certain beautiful and indefinite vagueness in the expression has made it difficult for us to understand parts-while the excursiveness of Mr. Hunt's mind prevents our following him so as to connect the whole. We are aware of the ready answer-intellectum non

We think it but candid to state thus early, that we claim no other praise than that of selection, for the many new and beautiful epithets, with which this article is adorned. The whole merit of original invention, as far as we know, is Mr. Hunt's,for our own sakes we could have wished that he had subjoined an explanation of some of them, as we fear that in our ignorance of their meanings we may sometimes, with all our care, have been guilty of misapplying them, X 2


« AnteriorContinua »