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Were I to decide upon the question of national education, my present view would present the following alternative: Every man educated, and a censorship of the press; or limited instruction, and perfect freedom of publication. Yours, &c.
A PRACTICAL POLITICIAN.
History of some curious Customs used by the Natives of the FEEJEE IsLANDS. By J. A.
THE HE Feejee Islands are situated about 21° South latitude, and 174° West longitude. They are very little known, and have received various names from different navigators. Tongataboo is the best known of this group, and there is an account of it in a work by the Missionaries, who endeavoured to convert the inhabitants to our holy religion.
These islands have been but little frequented except by the Missionaries, some of whom were massacred in their devout attempts. They have, however, been sometimes visited by men who had a less holy intention; viz. by persons in search of sandel wood, which forms a valuable article of commerce in China, where it is said to be worth 801. a ton.
In the pursuit of this article many persons bave had intercourse with the inhabitants; and have by no means left a favourable opinion of white men among them. One vessel particularly, after promising to as sist them in their wars with the natives of a neighbouring island, for which piece of service their brig was to be laden with sandel wood, received from them their cargo, and left them without any return. In consequence of some nefarious transactions of this sort, they have sometimes shewed signs of hostility, and more than once innocent persons have suffered for the guilty.
Having occasion to pass at no great distance from these islands in the year 1815, the master of a brig in company, whose name is Siddons, gave me the following account. Mr. Siddons had been several years living among them, had an estate there, and they even acknowledged him as a Chief.
As to the truth of his relation I have no manner of doubt; for, although on bearing it, some circamstances were enough to startle me,
yet having met with another man soon afterwards, who had been in the same trade,. I took the opportunity to converse with him on the subject he gave the same account, and without knowing that I had heard them before, related many circumstances that had happened to Siddons himself; for it appeared they had both been there at the same time.
When a man dies (said Mr. Sid, dons), if he be a chief or man of importance, one or more of his wives are strangled at his funeral; some have but one wife, but I have known several with five or six. I myself was present at one of these ceremo nies. The defunct was an old chief who had died of some lingering disease, and his body was wasted to skin and bone. A native friend, who was a chief, came on-board my brig, and invited me on shore to see the cere mony, as I had formerly expressed a wish to that effect. The corpse was rolled up in large folds of a kind of cloth that is made in these islands, similar to, but coarser than that which is made at Taheite. They conveyed the body to the door of the house of the coloo or priest; who are men having great influence in the country, and who are supposed to foretel future events. The corpse was placed on the ground with the feet towards the door of the priest's house, and many hundreds of the natives were sur rounding it. A woman was sitting at the head, which was uncovered, for the cloth was principally rolled across the belly. She had in her hand something like a powder-puff, and she continually puffed the face of the corpse with a black powder. I was anxious to get near the body, but my friend continually exhorted me to keep at a distance. I nevertheless persisted, and advanced to within a few yards of it. The woman conti. nued to sprinkle the face with the black powder, and when I had waited about an hour, a murmur among the multitude and a sort of shout at tracted my attention. My native friend, who kept beside me, informed me that it was occasioned by the approach of the principal wife of the defunct chief, who lived some miles off, and who had just arrived in a canoe. In a few minutes she made her appearance, accompanied by her female friends. I did not observe any
mark of extreme dejection about her, but she appeared serious and thoughtful; she advanced to the body, kissed it, and then retreated backwards about twenty steps, keeping her face towards it. A woman well known to me was sitting there, and the widow placed herself upon her lap, when the females who had accompanied her to the place approached her and attempt ed to kiss her; but she repelled them scornfully with her arms. The woman upon whose lap she sat, then put one of her hands at the back part of the head of the widow, and the other on her mouth; a man suddenly placed a cord round her neck; six inen who were ready took hold of it, three at each end, and pulled with all their force. I did not observe that the widow made the least struggle, although after the manner of the country she was only covered about the middle; not even her legs moved. I was anxious to know what would be done with the bodies, and had recourse to my friend for that purpose. He told me, however, that that was not permitted to be known, but I might see all that they themselves knew; the final part of the ceremony being known only to the caloo. I accord ingly went to the priest's house in the evening. The dead chief and his strangled widow were placed near the door. I had brought one of my boat's crew with me, and as the few natives that were present had some difficulty in forcing the chief's body through the door-way, in consequence of the many folds of cloth that were about it; this man assisted them in this part of the rite, and while this was doing I went into the apartment, anxious to discover whether there was any grave dug. It was dark, and I felt about the house cautiously with my feet, lest there should be a cavern beneath it, but I found none; and as they had then placed the two bodies beside each other in the house, my friend told me that I could not be permitted to see more, and we retired *.
Another instance of the same ceremony I was more intimately acquaiut ed with, and indeed was in some measure a party concerned. I had been
* A description of the ceremony may be found in the voyage of a Missionary, printed in Mr. Dalrymple's Collection.
on a cruise, and at my return, I found my friend Riceanimong dead. He was a fine young man, and a chief; I had formerly entered into an agreement with him for a cargo of sandel wood, which was not yet fulfilled. 1 greatly regretted the death of this man, not only because I had a friendship for him, but because I feared it would be a means of my losing my cargo of sandel wood. I called immediately upon his mother, who had also been a great friend to me. As soon as she saw me she embraced me; and not knowing I had been informed of her loss, with tears told me, that Riceammong was dead; and what can I do, said she, how shall I be able to procure you the sandel wood? I told her I was much grieved at the loss of her son, and requested to pay my respect to the body. I knew very well before that it was customary to visit and speak to the dead as if they were living, and that there was always some person present to give answers for them. I therefore went with the mother to the apartment where the body was laid, and taking hold of the dead chief's hand, I said to him, "I see, Riceamong, what has happened to you; you are dead, and have left us: you know, Riceammong, the agreement that existed between us, that you were to pro cure me a freight of sandel wood, which I have already paid you for, and which I have not received; what is to be done in the business, Riceammong?" The mother, who stood by, answered, " yes, I recollect the agreement, and I will take care that it shall be fulfilled." Much more conversation passed between us which it is needless to repeat, when we retired from the body. I was by this time intimate with many of the natives. I had a house and farm, and most of my property was rendered sacred, or as it is called in the country, tabooed, so that any person injuring it might be destroyed.
The old mother took me to her house, and we had much conversation respecting the sandel wood that I had agreed with her son for; she wept much during our conversation, and anxiously spoke of Riceammong's principal wife. You know, said she, that she paid great attention to the white people, that she fed them, and cloathed them. Alas! unless some of
her friends rescue her, she must fol-
tinued the old woman quickly, if you
cessary that men only had a right to interfere in these concerns; that it was the law, and that he was determined for reasons known only to himself, that the usual sacrifice should take place immediately. It was therefore done as he had commanded, and the widow of Riceammong was strangled about a quarter of an hour before I arrived with the whale's tooth. My departed friend had three wives, two of whom were strangled ; the third was saved by the influence of her relations, who were persons of great influence.
(To be continued.)
last Supplement, p. 594, is no OUR Correspondent S. P. in the doubt aware that great expence may always be saved by the parties making mutual admissions on the trial of a cause; but as this depends upon the caprice of the parties interested, or perhaps their attornies, it often happens that instead of saving trouble, a disposition of harassing each other to the extent of their power frequently prevails.
A plan, however, might be adopted, with the sanction of the Judges, or at farthest of the Legislature, to avoid the unnecessary expence which usually attends the examination of witnesses, ore tenus, when their evidence relates to facts, which in themselves are not intended to be disputed; such as the execution of a deed, a demand of goods previous to an action of trover, the delivery of an attorney's bill, signed pursuant to statute before commencement of suit, and many other common-place circumstances, which it would occupy too much space to enumerate.
The mode I propose would be, to receive as evidence the depositions of witnesses taken in writing, according to the practice of the Court of Chancery. Mr. Justice Blackstone (Commentaries, Book 3, 383) suggests the same thing in the event of the witness going abroad, or being aged; the evidence to be taken conditionally, to be read in case the witness leaves the kingdom, or dies previous to the trial; this of course would not answer the proposed end.
Notwithstanding the forcible objections made by that great lawyer (ibid. 313) to this kind of evidence
becoming general, as in the civil law courts, I cannot see that the practice, if allowed, would be productive of any serious evils at a time like the present, when justice is so impartially administered; in Westminster Hall rules would soon be laid down, directing in what cases such evidence ought to be received: by such a course the loss of much time aud expence, as well to the parties as the witnesses, would certainly be avoided. I am aware difficulties would attend the introduction of this as well as any new practice, but they would soon pass over, and be greatly counterbalanced by the benefits which would in time result from it.
Should you deem the above worthy a place in your Magazine, it will greatly oblige your occasional Correspondent,
E. I. C.
P. S. Allow me to correct two errors in my Letter on the subject of the Inner Temple Hall, in p. 579, col. 2, line 4; you have printed "sashpanes," instead of "sash-frames," as I wrote; and my iuitials stand E.T.C. instead of E. 1. C.
not be lawful for any person withis the said dominions to keep any Tavern, or to sell or utter by retail, in any place, any of the said wine or wines, except it be in cities, towns, corporate boroughs, port-towns, or market-towns, or in the towns of Gravesend, Sittingborn, Tuxford, and Bagshot." I shall be obliged to any of your Correspondents who will have the goodness to communicate an adequate reason for naming these towns particularly in the Act.
The whole Act is curious, as far as it recites the character, number, and distribution of wine-bouses in the year 1553, and appears to have beeu a necessary extension of a system, upon which the Act relating to Alehouses was passed two years antecedently, 5, 6 Edw. VI. cap. 25. These Acts appear to be the foundation of the code for the regulation of publichouses at this day.
The facilities for the importation of wines at Gravesend and Sittingbourne, may have suggested indeed the accommodation for them; this, however, does not apply to Bagshot and Tuxford. The two former towns were increasing at that time, and were severally made towns corporate in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, vide Hasted's Kent.
Tuxford is omitted in a subsequent clause of the Act.
King Henry VI. by letters patent, appointed John Jenyn and Richard Ludlow, Sargeants of his Cellar to the Bailwick of Bagshot.-Vide Manning and Bray's Surrey, vol. III. p. 85. Yours, &c. R. P. C.
Holy Writ, is worth removing. Theo phylact mentions four; Mary, the mother of James, Joses, and our Lord; Mary, wife of Cleophas; Mary, the sister of Lazarus ; and Mary Magdalene. Nyssen, on authority of St. John, enumerates but three, leaving out the sister of Lazarus, unless I can, with all due respect to Dr. Lardner, prove her to be Mary Magdalene. It is positively said by St. John, that Mary of Bethany, sister to Lazarus, was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair (ch. xi.
v. 4 and 2, and ch. xii. 1, 2, 3). St. Luke asserts, that the woman who did this was a sinner (ch. vii. v. 37, 38). St. Mark says, that Mary Magdalene was the out of whom our Lord cast seven Devils (chap. xvi. v. 9); and perhaps our Lord's prohibition to touch him (John xx. 17) after his resurrection, might allude to her for
mer demoniacal and sinful state. Thus far these two women seem to be identified, and the difficulty arises from the second name Magdalene, which has always been supposed to be nomen gentile, having reference to Magdala, an ideal city on the Western baok of the lake Siberias, whereas the family of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, was of Bethany. Now as the article in the original Greek is used indifferently in Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνη, Ἰωάννης ὁ Βαπτισης, Σιμων ὁ Κανανίτης, she might as justly be so called from some act of her life, like John the Baptist, as from her country, like Simon the Canaanite. The chief occurrence of her life was anointing our Lord's feet with oil, and wiping them with her hair, instead of a towel or natin, of which they had none in autient Greece: but they had what served them instead, the soft part of bread on which they cleansed their hands, as the Persians and Abyssinians still do. This substance in classic Greek was called Maydania (vide Scap. Lex. Art. pacow), and in vernacular Greek we have the authority of Dod. well for stating that a towel is called magdulee or μαγδαλη; hence Mary Magdalene, or Mary of the Napkin, may be the sister of Lazarus, and of the city of Bethany; there will then be only three Marys, and all discrepancy on this trifle ceases. I am further supported by the curious fact, that this surname or agnomen (since you ob serve I take it for granted that it is derived from the act, and not from the city) is never added by any Evangelist till after the record of the act of wiping the feet. I cannot conclude without acknowledging, and calling on my brethren to acknowledge, with humble gratitude, the blessing of God, who has caused all the researches of modern travellers to abound in results which elucidate more and more the dark passages of holy writ, and serve to confirm the wavering. I am indebted to our countryman Mr. Dod
For a long series of years the transactions of the commercial world were carried on in the way of barter, or the exchange of one commodity for another, a practice which was attended, as may readily be supposed, with very great inconvenience. length, however, after mature deliberation, it occurred to the minds of some of the most enlightened of our ancestors, that the metals, particularly gold and silver, on account of their scarcity and value, their indestructibility and superior specific gravity, might he advantageously employed as a circulating medium in all commercial transactions, and would contribute in no small degree to simplify and facilitate all trading concerns whatever. When the metals were first used for this purpose, their value was determined only by the weight, a circumstance which afforded to the dishonest trader frequent opportunities of defrauding others with regard to the quality or fineness of the metals which he gave in payment; and this inconvenience had already been very extensively and very severely felt, when it was ordained that all the metals used as money should be divided into small pieces of equal size, and that each piece should be impressed with certain marks which should indicate at the same time its weight and value.
Thus originated the practice of that most valuable art, which, in the present state of civilization, seems almost necessary to our existence, but when or where the first coins were struck, appears now to be a