Images de page

their conviction that he would approve of the same. He replied-" Ua tia ia ia oti ra May e tai ai. It is agreed, but let May be over, and then go;" alluding to the annual meetings held in the month of May.

I took up my abode with Mr. Nott, and spent the whole of the week in revising, with him and one or two of the chiefs from Huahine, the laws which had been prepared for that island. In this revision we endeavoured to correct what was defective in those already published in Tahiti and Raiaeta. This employment occupied a number of hours every day. It was a matter of importance: I was anxious that their laws should be framed with the utmost care, and felt desirous that we should avail ourselves of Mr. Nott's familiar acquaintance with the character of the people, and his observation on the effect of the laws on the inhabitants of Tahiti and Eimeo. I wished also to consult with Mr. Davies, but he was too far off. Mr. Nott stated, that the greatest defects he had observed, arose from the power vested in the hands of the magistrate to punish according to his own discretion those who were found convicted. In consequence of this, the same crime was followed by different punishments, in different parts, or by different magistrates. In order to remedy this, the punishment to be inflicted was annexed to the prohibition of the offence. The laws, it was hoped, would by these means be less uncertain in their influence than they had been.

Another subject of importance was the revenue of the government, and the means of support for the king and chiefs. On this subject, Pomare had refused to make any regulations, preferring to demand supplies from the people as his necessities might require, rather than receive any regular proportion of the produce of the soil. Private

property, therefore, was still insecure, and the industrious cultivator of the land was not sure of reaping the fruits of his labour. This was remarkably manifest at the present time, when the king of Tahiti, in his anxiety to pay for the vessel that had been purchased in his name, after making repeated applications to the chiefs for large numbers of pigs, prohibited every individual from selling to a captain or other person any commodity he might have for barter, but required them to bring all to him, in return for which he sometimes gave them articles of the most trifling value. To remedy this defect, several laws were added to those prepared for the people of Huahine, and a certain tax, somewhat resembling a poll-tax, proposed, by which it was fixed what proportion of the produce of the island each individual should furnish for the use of the king, and also of the chief of the district in which he resided. The remainder was to be inviolably his own, for use or disposal. The treatment of offenders between their apprehension and trial, was also regulated. These were the principal additions made to the Huahine code.

The trial by jury had been incorporated in the laws of Raiatea. The alterations were approved of by the chiefs who had come from Huahine, and were by them shewn to Teriitaria, who signified her entire satisfaction in their being adopted as the laws of Huahine. At the same time she informed the chiefs, that after the approaching meetings, she intended to remove to Huahine, but did not wish them on that account to defer the public enactment of the laws, whenever it should appear desirable.

The most important object of our visit being now accomplished, we returned to Papeete, intending to proceed to Eimeo. About noon on the 28th, we embarked in our boat, hoisted our sails, and were on the point of

[blocks in formation]

leaving the shore, when a messenger arrived with intelligence that a vessel was approaching Matavai, so that instead of putting out to sea, our course was instantly directed thither. A brig of considerable size was advancing towards the harbour. We hailed her approach with joyful hopes that she would bring us

"News of human kind,

Of friends and kindred, whom, perhaps, she held
As visitors, that she might be the link

Connecting the fond fancy of far friendship."

Meeting the vessel at the entrance of the bay, we found it was the Hope, of London, having Mr. and Mrs. Hayward from England, and Mr. and Mrs. Wilson from New South Wales, on board. As the vessel was under full sail, we could only greet their arrival by signal, and follow them to the harbour. They had, however, scarcely anchored, when we found ourselves alongside, and, ascending the deck, were happy to exchange our mutual congratulations. A number of cattle, some belonging to the passengers, others sent as presents by Mr. Birnie to the chiefs, having suffered much during the voyage, were speedily landed. After this, we accompanied our friends to the shore, elated with the anticipated pleasure of intelligence from home. In this respect we were not disappointed. A few letters which were at hand we received on board, and the rest as soon as the boxes containing them were opened. We broke the seals, skimmed the contents, and glanced at the signatures with no common feelings, reserving a more careful perusal for a season of greater leisure.

No opportunity equally favourable for receiving intelligence from England, had occurred since our arrival. Mr. Hayward had proceeded from the islands to Eng

land; he had met our friends and relatives there, and had been enabled to satisfy them in a variety of points, of which, though of confessedly minor importance, they were anxious to be informed. He had left them, and returned direct to us; and the simple fact that we were conversing with one who had traversed scenes long familiar and vividly present to our recollections, and one who had mingled in the society of those dearest on earth to us, appeared to shorten the distance by which we were separated, and to remove the most formidable barriers to intercourse. We had a thousand questions to ask, and the evening was far too short for the answers of half of our inquiries, or the perusal of our letters.

Mingled and intense are the emotions with which a lonely sojourner in a distant and uncivilized part of the world, receives a packet from his native land. This is especially the case when the symbol of mourning appears on the exterior of any of his letters. The unfolded sheet is sometimes put aside, as the eye, in its first glance over the lines, has been arrested by a sentence conveying tidings of the departure of some dear and valued relative or friend.

Notwithstanding the painful sensations occasioned by the knowledge of the fact, that some dear object of the heart's attachment or esteem has been for months consigned to the cheerless grave; epistles from those we have left in our native land, produce emotions more powerful, and satisfaction more elevated, than any other circumstance besides. Letters sent home by those in distant climes, may convey all that undiminished affection prompts, but they awaken no recollections connected with the locality, the companions, and the circumstances of those by whom they are written. The

scenes and society by which the writers are surrounded, are foreign; and next to the feeling of curiosity, the greatest interest they excite, arises from the connexion with those for whose welfare every concern is felt. Very different are the effects of a letter from home, to one in a distant land. Every circumstance connected with it awakens emotion; even the name of the place whence it is dated, recalls a thousand associations of by-gone days. We seem to hear again the familiar voice, and involuntarily feel as if we had mingled once more with the circle which friendship and attachment had often drawn round the domestic hearth; and while perusing letters from home, we have felt the force of the poet's exclamation, How fleet is a glance of the mind!

Next to the enjoyment of the Divine favour, letters from friends are among the sources of sweetest solace, and most cheering encouragement, to the sojourner in a foreign land. They excite a train of feeling which must be experienced, to be understood. They cheer the spirits often fainting under the effects of an insalubrious clime, the silent prostration of debilitating sickness, or the opposition and the trials of situation. They convey to his mind the gratifying conviction that he is not forgotten by those in whose enjoyments and pursuits he once participated.

This consideration not only revives his spirit, but imparts a fresh impetus to his movements, and adds new energy to all his efforts. Letters from those abroad are gratifying to friends at home; and if so, to those who participate the joys of sincere, enlightened, and glowing friendship, and who are encircled by a thousand sources of enjoyment, how much more welcome must' they be to the distant, and often lonely absentee, who,

« PrécédentContinuer »