The worthy consul did his best to embellish the days of our sojourn with pleasurable episodes. Society there was not likely to be any; but yet such as, for want of better, they had, he undertook to show us. He really seemed very much obliged to us for our opportune visit, and said that it would be the making of him. It certainly did seem to be quite necessary to the maintaining of the dignity of his office. One invitation we had from a merchant of the place, a man whom they described as being very rich and of great influence; and a plan was laid for our having a picnic in the country. There is a place in the neighbourhood of the town which has been prepared expressly for the use of those who make rural excursions. A thick grove of trees keeps off the sun, and soft turf lends a seat to the revellers. We could make out the top of the trees from the anchorage, for the country is of an elevated character, hanging out on lofty cliffs the different features of its panorama. The effect produced by this arrangement of the scenery is highly beautiful. It has in profusion one element of the beautiful, and that is the feature of cascade. There is in one point a congress of waterfalls, whereat may be counted no less than nine separate streams, which pour down their abundance from the cliffs into the sea. The good consul and his satellites bore us pretty constant company; and of great service they were in preserving order among the motley crew that constantly thronged our decks. We did not like to qualify the good report we had so far gained and maintained, by any exhibition of harshness towards the mob. But the sturdy janissary of Mr —— thought nothing of laying his stick across a fellow's shoulders, by way of reminder to behave himself. I must say that many of them deserved it, and for their sakes can but hope that they profited by the attention.
Mr —— had two men in attendance upon him, without whom he never stirred abroad. They were brothers, but filled situations of different rank. One was dragoman, a post of which the occupation entitled him to the consideration of a gentleman; the other was merely henchman or janissary, of which dignity the allocation is in the kitchen. I remember that it pained me to see one brother walk in to dinner, while the other poor fellow had to keep guard without. But they seemed well used to the enforcement of the distinction, and to find therein nothing of invidiousness. Fine fellows were they both, and highly lauded by their master. There is surely something extraordinary in these instances, where men are brought to devote themselves implicitly to a foreign service, in the heart of their country, and amid the full play of national prejudices. That they really are faithful followers, is I believe beyond doubt; and that sometimes under trying circumstances. With these two individuals especially, we had so much intercourse, that we were enabled to see how admiration for the English entered into the main current of their feelings. It so happened that we had come here to the very place where that early victim to the zeal of travel, Mr Daniels, had shortly before met his doom. While following in the track of Mr Fellowes, he caught the fatal Xanthian fever; and after many relapses died here. That these men were very kind and attentive to him may be argument only of their humanity. But there was something in the emotion with which they spoke of him, that betokened a sense of fellowship, beyond what men of such differing creeds are apt to feel for a travelling stranger. They spoke of sitting up with him at night, giving him his medicine, and weeping for him, when there remained no room for active solicitude. The idea of dying amidst strangers in a foreign land, with no familiar face at the bed-side, is a desolation whose thought cannot pass over the spirit without beclouding its sunniness. And yet we may rely upon it, that amongst those most affectionately tended and most generously wept, have been they who have met their last hour under such circumstances. Human hearts all vibrate in harmony to one chord: in the good this sympathy is ready; in the bad it is dulled; but never while life and hope remain, can the silver chord be said to be cut. And so it is, that the same image of the forlorn, which, as affecting any that we love, appeals at once to the deep wells of compassion, will cause the same feeling of compassion to thrill with the remotest stragglers of the family of Adam. It is not a matter of reasoning, but an instinct. There is in the sight of helpless suffering a power to disarm human ferocity. And if that be the gentlest death-pillow that is breathed upon by the prayer and lighted by the eye of family love, depend upon it that far from the ungentlest is that, whose presence has brought to rude and rough natures the putting off of their roughness, and the recognising of the sweet faculty of compassion. Happy is that desolation, even in the last hour, which can awaken the heaven-like eagerness to be to the dying one a minister from his far-off home! A man might be happy so to die, that he might light up so much of heaven within a human breast.
Both these attaches of the consulate were men of note. The dragoman had been captain of a troop of cavalry in the service of Mehemet Ali, and on some quarrel with his commanding officer had left the service and kingdom. He was a person of polished manners, and some education, and thus enabled to produce agreeably in conversation the results of his experience of many lands and people. He rather astonished us with the extent to which he carried jeune France principles, that seem so entirely incompatible with the holding of Mahomedanism. But wonderful it is to see how the French spirit circulates in the most apathetic societies, seeming to find in them a latent vitality suited to its purpose. The manners of a Mussulman are so stereotyped, and his subjects of conversation so provided for by law, that it seemed quite an anomaly to see this Turk drinking wine after dinner, and talking like a man of the world. It would not seem that such an effect on the personal character is the invariable result of educating a Turk in Paris, though such an effect is exactly what we might expect. I have met a native of Constantinople, who had brought back with him from France only the language and the personal deportment, retaining withal the anti-reforming spirit of his orthodox brethren. But this spirit of resistance to innovation is fast fading away; and as innovation once begun here must lead to revolution, it is not difficult to foresee that a few more years only shall have passed, when the character of the Turk will have become historical, and the scenes that at present embellish their corner of the world, will have to be sought for in the descriptions of pen and pencil. Whether the influence emanate from the throne, or whether the court be following the popular metropolitan movement, it is difficult to say. But among them is assuredly at work the spirit of change, that must shortly carry away the mouldering edifice of their present institutions. This is something too vetust to abide the shock of any agitation. Let us hope that their changes may be successively biassed towards the better: may they acquire the urbanity of our great masters in elegance, without their profligacy; and if they reject Mahomedanism, may it be to receive in exchange something better than mere infidelity.
The brother of the ci-devant captain was a quiet, unassuming fellow, who wanted language to communicate with us freely. Nevertheless he managed to interest us much, with an account of the sufferings and trials of his youth. They were by birth Moreote Turks; and in the revolution of that country, when first the Greeks arose against their Turkish masters, (for really one must particularise in talking of Greek revolutions,) they had suffered the loss of all their protecting kindred, and hardly, children as they were, by some kindly intervention, been themselves saved. It is a sad thing, but a truth, that in this exterminating war, the cold-blooded massacreing was not all on one side. The horror and hatred of these deeds have, with their infamy, rested chiefly on the Turks, because theirs was the power to exceed in enormity; but the black veil of guilt rests on both sides of the strife. Still, however blameable the Greeks may be, for the cruelty committed on occasion, they were far from having power to work the enormous destruction of harmless life, whose memory still weighs on the Turkish power, and whose record is still extant in the evidence of ruined and dispeopled cities. But a short time before coming to Adalia, we had visited the island of Scio—that island which once was the garden of the Levant, and the storehouse of her riches. Even now, the great majority of the Greek merchants who are so prosperous a body in London, are Sciotes; and in those days they had pretty well all the commerce of the Levant in their hands. They delighted themselves in adorning their beautiful island with the artifices which money can command to the decorating of nature. At present a mass of ruins defaces that lovely spot. One is disposed to wonder that the Turks have never been at the pains to clear away the wreck of the town, if only for the sake of removing the monument of their cruelty. Mere selfish motives might induce them to be at that pains, and to restore this island to its former fitness for the habitations of the rich. At present it is one wide ruin; noble streets are there, with the shells of their houses remaining, as they were left in the day of massacre and pillage. The few inhabitants are stowed away in the one or two odd rooms of the old mansions that remain; being now reduced to such poverty that they have had neither spirit nor money to build for themselves; and probably finding it more congenial to the present spirit of their fortunes to roost among the bats and owls, rather than in trim streets. One occurrence gave us much pleasure, because it gave the lie to a story which has many abettors. It is said that when the garrison in the fortress, and the fleet before the town, were promoting the havoc, the English consul, from some punctilio on the subject of neutrality, refused shelter to the miserables who fled to his threshold. One old woman, in the story of her sufferings, gave us a full contradiction to this most incredible tradition. She had invited us into her dwelling to look at her wares, in the shape of conserves and purses—a strange combination, but nevertheless the articles by the sale of which they eke out their living. We were fully consoled for the trouble of passing over and through the debris of some half-dozen houses which lay between us and her domicile. It came out that she herself had been saved by flying to the English consulate. It was a comfort to hear this—and to hear it in a way that involved the fact of an indefinite number of refugees having found the same shelter. Many rejoice to say that the French consul was the only efficient protector in that day of horror; and of these times, though so recent, it is not easy always to get such correct information as may sustain a contradiction of popular report.
In a country of such limited resources in the way of amusement, it was not very easy for our zealous friends to cater for us, during the long days that we had to await the answer from the Caimacan. Riding was out of the question, and there were no antiquities within reach. Thus were we cut off from the two great resources of men in our position. But they played their part of entertainers hospitably and well. They told us long stories of the courts, and of what was to be seen in actual service in the camp of the Egyptian viceroy. Above all, they did us good by showing how thoroughly happy the whole party had been rendered by our coming. We were only afraid that they might become a little too bumptious on the strength of it, and be after giving us another job. But they did more than simply bear us company; they bore us to the cool grove, which I have said we could descry from the deck of our ship, there to be introduced to certain worthies, and to make kef in their company. Nothing to my mind comes up to an al fresco entertainment—in proper season and country, be it understood; for an English gipsy party is a very different affair.
Our host conceived it to be a duty incumbent on him to develop, on this occasion, the full power of the resources of Adalia. We should have been far better satisfied if he had contented himself with doing things in a smaller way; but he was bent on magnificence. It was quite treat enough to lie on the soft turf, with the thick shade above, and to allow the hours to pass away as they led on evening. But he had been at the trouble to retain a band of musicians for our sakes. Such a set they were!—surpassing, in discordant prowess, the worst street musicians among our beggar melodists. It is quite surprising that invention has so long slumbered with these native artistes. With Musard concerts and Wilhelm music-meetings all around them, it is wonderful that they do not catch the note of something better than their villanous mandolins and single-noted pipes. Does any one need to be told what a mandolin is? It is something very different, let me assure him, from the ideal instrument of Moore's Melodies. Not even the lovely maidens that Moore paints could render tolerable a performance upon it; whereas it is made to resound by some especially ugly fellow, whose rascality of appearance, is relieved by no touch of the poetic. I did once hear a Turco-Greek lady perform, and on a more civilised instrument—a lady of high reputation as a performer on the guitar and a vocalist. And seldom has the spirit of romantic preparation received a more sudden chill than did mine on that occasion. Nothing could be more outrageously absurd than the whole thing was—accompaniment and song. I never afterwards was solicitous to hear an Oriental's musical performance; and am quite satisfied, that in them dwells no musical faculty, creative or perceptive: or that at least it is in a dormant state.
These musicians began with a symphony on the full band—mandolins leading, drums doing bass, and the whole lot of ugly fellows screeching forth what might have been esteemed air or accompaniment, as the case might be. That a sorry musical effect was produced will surprise no one who considers the build of the most musical of their instruments. The mandolin is by way of being a guitar, or banjo—only in a very small way indeed. Nothing has been added to the idea since first Mercury stumbled on the original testudo—indeed, I should guess that the dried sinews of a tortoise would give out a far purer sound than the jingling wires with which the mandolin is mounted. I have sometimes stood at the door of a cafe, or, to give it the real name [Greek: kapheneion], and listened in wonder to the strains of some minstrel holding forth within. The wonder was, not that the man should play egregiously ill, but that the effect of good music should be produced by his evil playing. The people were evidently excited to sorrow when the attempt was at a mournful strain, and to ardour when the lilt took a loftier flight. To me who stood by, the difference of intention on the part of the performer was hardly discernible; indeed to be recognised only by the occasional catching of some familiar word in the burden of the song. The same observation may apply to the current Greek poetry. There can be no mistake in the conclusion, that it produces the effect of real poetry on the people, urging them in the direction whither works the imagination of the poet. But men of taste have come to, and can come to, but one decision on the judgment of Romaic poetasters. The spirit of poetry has died out of, and is become extinct from the genius of their tongue. It is but the enthusiasm of by-gone days, the inkling of Attic glory, that lingers about the circumstances of their modern productions, and cheats men with the mere similarity of idiom. Poetry is of universal application, and were the pretensions of the modern Greek genuine, his productions would touch the hearts of the poetic of other lands.
These fellows who entertained us on this occasion, struck a good deal of enthusiasm out of their jingle,—enthusiasm to themselves, be it remarked, and not to us. I saw them grow sad in face, while the strain proceeded at a slow pace, and the voce di canto degenerated into a more lugubrious howl than ever. By these tokens, I judged them to be singing some tale of sorrow, and so it seemed they were. The gentleman who performed for us the part of Chorus, gave us to wit, that they were lamenting the fall of Algiers, and imprecating maledictions on the head of the French. This they evidently considered a delicate and appropriate attention to us as Englishmen. I was only surprised to find they entered so far into the family distinctions of the Franks. There was some heart, too, in the manner in which they gesticulated and declaimed; and I have little doubt but that they were in earnest—especially if any of these happened to have friends or relations down that way, who had been roused out of house and home by the Gallic Avatar. When they were tired with singing, or perhaps presumed that they had therewith tired us, they took to playing the fool. Not merely in a general sense, in which they may be said to have been so engaged all along; but with heavy effort, and under the express direction of a professional master of the ceremonies. The Adalian jester was a tall ugly fellow, who had considerable power of comic expression in his face, but whose forte lay in a cap of fantastic device. It was made of the skin of some animal, whose genus I will not venture to guess; and had been contrived in such fashion that the tail hung over the top, and whisked about at the caprice of the wearer. This was a never-failing source of amusement to the performer himself, as well as to the native bystanders. As he bobbed his head up and down, and ran after this tail, the people burst into peals of laughter. They were quite taken up with the exhibition, except when they stole a moment now and then for a peep to see how the Frank visitors were amused with their wit. Besides this, the jester had a number of practical jokes, such as coming quietly along-side of some unsuspecting person, and catching hold of his leg, barking loudly the while, so as to make him think that some dog had bitten him. But this part of the performance was decidedly coarse, and did not improve our idea of the civilisation of the place. A good deal of sketching was going on in the course of this day; and the visages of some of these musicians, and especially of the jester, and of a blind old choragus, have been handed down to the posterity of our affectionate friends. We had a visit this day of a gentler kind. A Greek lady, the owner of considerable landed property in the place, came with her youthful daughter to interchange civilities with us. She was a plain, almost ugly old woman; but, like nine out of ten of all women extant, was of kind and feminine disposition. Moreover, like the rest of the ladies, she was very fond of talking; but, on this particular occasion, unhappily could speak no single word that would convey meaning to us. Still it was not to be expected that she could hold her tongue; so she squatted down by us, and talked, perhaps all the faster because she had the conversation all to herself. Her daughter was a young lady, whom by appearance in England, you would call somewhere in her teens; but, hereaway they are so precocious that one is constantly deceived in guessing their age. She would have been pretty if she had been clean; and was abundantly and expensively ornamented. Sometimes we hear it figuratively said of a domestic coquette, that she carries all her property on her back. These Greeks must be well off, if it may not sometimes be so said with propriety of them. They have a plan of advertising a young lady's assets, in a manner that must be most satisfactory to fortune-hunters, and prevent the mistakes that with us constantly foil the best-laid plans. They turn a girl's fortune into money, and hang it—it, the fortune proper—the [Greek: poion] and the [Greek: poson]—about her neck. They do not buy jewels worth so many hundreds or tens—but transpierce the actual coin, and of them compose a necklace of whose value there can be no doubt, and whose fashion is not very variable. This may be called a fair and above-board way of doing things. The swain, as he sits by the beloved object, may amuse himself by counting the number of precious links in the chain that is drawing him into matrimony, and debate within himself, on sure data, the question whether or no he shall yield to the gentle influence. There would not have been much doubt about the monetary recommendations of this young lady, for she was abundantly gilt, as became the daughter of one reputed so rich as the old lady. Poor girls! It makes one sad to look upon them, brought up with so little idea of what is girlish and beautiful; to see them ignorant yet sophisticated, bejeweled and unwashed. This poor child was decked out in the most absurd manner, and sat for admiration most palpably. She also sat for something else, which was her picture. This was taken by several of the party, so much to the satisfaction of mother and daughter, that the old lady insisted on taking her turn as model. We invariably found them pleased with the productions of our art in these cases, and satisfied of the correctness of the likeness. The only objections they would occasionally make, would refer to the pretermission of some such thing as a tassel in the cap. The fidelity of the likeness they took implicitly on trust.
I have said we could not talk to this old lady, Greek though she was, furnished though some of us were with the language of her compatriots. The deficiency was on her part—not on ours. She could not speak one single word of her own language. And so it is, that of all the Greeks of Adalia, not one can converse in the language of their fathers. Separated from their countrymen, they have become almost a distinct race; and, losing that language of which they have no practice, have learnt to use as their own the vernacular of the land in which they are immigrants of such antique standing. They talk Turkish—live almost like Turks; and by their religion only are distinguished from their neighbours. For religious purposes they use their own language: and, by consequence, understand no single word of the ritual or lessons. This is certainly a singular national position—impossible, except from religious prevention. It is just the reverse of what may be seen elsewhere: for instance, in the mountains of Thessaly you find a colony of Germans, who, though completely shut in by the people of the land, and holding intercourse with none other, remain foreigners and Germans, resisting the tendency to amalgamation. So in Sicily you find the Piana della Grecia, where the original Greek colonists have kept their language and customs in their integrity. But where else, save in this one spot, will you find people who, after having imbibed the influences of the country to the extent of adoption of its language, have been able to resist amalgamation with its denizens in every respect?
By the bye, these people have opened a sort of royal road to the acquisition of the Turkish language. The orthography of this language is a most vexed and perplexed affair. Those who have made the attempt to master its difficulties may say something in its vituperation; but the practice of many of those who are well acquainted therewith, says a great deal more. These Greeks, for instance, though they have adopted this language as their own, and have been accustomed in no other to lisp to their nurses, have altogether discarded the orthography. They speak as do the natives, but write in their own character; accommodating the flexible capabilities of their alphabet to the purposes of Turkish orthoepy. Thus have you the means of reading Turkish in a familiar character, which also has the advantage of presenting your words in a definite form. The real Turkish alphabet is any thing but definite; at least to one within any decent term of years of his commencing the study. This is a mode of teaching which I have known to be insisted on by at least one good master: though of course the man of any ambition would regard this byway to knowledge as merely a step preliminary in the course.
This was not the only party at which we assisted during our visit. A rich Greek merchant invited us to enjoy the coolness of evening in his gardens. It was duly impressed on our minds by the gentleman of the place that this old fellow was worth his weight in gold. They did say that his name was good for L150,000—a long figure, certainly, to meet in such a place. He was a quiet-looking, unpretending person, with very much the air of a moneyed man. The hope that we had formed of seeing a display of the youth and fashion of Adalia was disappointed. It was by all express relaxation of the law of etiquette that we had the opportunity of seeing even the one or two ladies belonging to the family. Greeks, in their own country, though exceedingly jealous, and apt to build up alarms on the slightest foundation, are yet by no means chary in showing their women. In-doors and out, you will meet them, both old and young; and perfectly unconstrained and companionable you will find them. But here the case is far otherwise. They have acquired so much of Mussulman notions, that they do not allow their women to mix in society. This is the general rule: more pliant to occasion than the law of the Turks, which never yields. And not only here is there a strong feeling on this subject: the same prejudice prevails widely in the Turco-Greek islands. For instance, in Mytilene, on occasion of taking that long excursion which I have already mentioned, we observed that all the women we met were old and ugly. From this observed fact we drew conclusions unfavourable to the general appearance and presentability of the Mytilenian ladies. But subsequently we found the reason of the phenomenon to be, that the young and pretty girls were kept within doors, and the old ones alone allowed the privilege of walking forth—a difference of condition that might almost induce the girls of Mytilene to wish for age and wrinkles.
They did not, at Adalia, use us quite so ill as to withhold their ladies from the entertainment. The mother was there and a daughter—a young lady with the romantic name of Dudu. With such a name as this she ought to have been very pretty, and certainly she did not fall far short of such condition. It was clearly to be perceived that she was unaccustomed to mix in general society, and that the company of strange men disturbed her. But she was not ungraceful either in manner or dress, or in her evident desire to please. The place of our reception was in the central court, which the best kind of houses preserve—a contrivance which gives to each of the four sides on which the building is disposed, the advantages of a pure and thorough current of air. Here we sat drinking sherbet, and, of course, smoking the unfailing chibouque. The lady mother was painfully anxious to talk to us, and pretty Miss Dudu was seriously bent on listening; but we could not manage to execute a colloquy. All the civil things imaginable were expressed to us by gesture, and the young lady came out strong in the presentation of bouquets. One fortunate man received from her an orange, the only one remaining at that time in the garden; this we persuaded ourselves must, in their symbolical language, imply a declaration of some soft interest. Miss Dudu would not have been such a very bad parti, being, as she was, the sole heritress of her father's thousands. However, she was, we understood, engaged already to a youth, who was obeying the cruel law prevalent in this place, which compels the accepted swain to absent himself from his inamorata for a long probation. I think the time was said to be a year; during which no communication must pass between the parties. Should the first overtures of a suitor be rejected, it is a settled matter of etiquette, that he never again is to see or speak to the young lady. This must be likely, we would think, to render a man cautious in proposing: but certainly it must tend to lessen the number of eventual old maids, by rendering the young ladies also chary of saying No, when they mean Yes. On the whole, we can scarcely admire their matrimonial tactics. We found that we were among a family of Hadjis. Miss Dudu was a Hadji, and so were her father and mother. In their case the place of pilgrimage is Jerusalem, a visit to which confers on them the respectable title of Hadji for life. This old gentleman had made a pious use of some of his money, by promoting the cause of pilgrimage among his less opulent brethren. The desire to tread the holy soil is common to them all; not only to the religious. These have their motives; but so also have the disorderly and wicked, who think that a world of cheating and ill-living is covered over by the wholesome cloak of pilgrimage. There are also certain less considerable places of pilgrimage, invested with considerable sanctity, though inferior in character to the one great rendezvous of the religious. Health to body seems often the expected result of visits to these secondary places, to which recourse will frequently be had when medical aid has failed to be available. Dudu's father had made himself highly popular by chartering a vessel, and conveying, for charity's sake, as many devotees as chose to go on one of these minor expeditions. The island of Cyprus has a convent of peculiar sanctity, a visit to which is highly esteemed as an antidote to bodily ills. He gave a great number the opportunity of testing the truth of the tradition.
It was not bad fun, after all, tarrying a few days in Adalia: only, by choice, we would hardly choose that particular season for the excursion. What between the Consul's gardens, and the old Greek, and the little bit of business we had upon our hands, we managed to get through the time pleasantly enough. We saw that we had here a good specimen of the variety of life commonly described as deadly-lively. Were it not that they have such a lot of strangers constantly passing through the place, they might seem to be in danger of a moralanchylosis—of falling into a state of mind so rusty, as to be incapable of direction to any object, save such as lay before them, in the way of immediate physical requirement. The few days that we remained there did not afford time enough for the disease to make much head with us. Indeed, for us it was a variety of experience, sufficiently stirring for the time, to mark the ways of a people so deeply buried in imperturbability and incuriosity.
I think we were not sorry when at last the messenger returned from the Caimacan, and we found we were in condition to leave the place. The Consul was set on his legs again, and the English name in better odour than ever. The attaches of the consulate had taken care that our visit should fail in no degree of its wholesome influence, for want of their good word; and I fancy that the town's people thought themselves rather well off that we left their town standing. We left, too, with the full reputation for merciful dealing; as we had spared the poor soap-rioters the infliction of the bastinado.
And so we sped on our way to Rhodes.
We were much puzzled, a few weeks since, by a tantalising and unintelligible paragraph, pertinaciously reiterated in the London newspapers. Its brevity equalled its mystery; it consisted but of five words, the first and last in imposing majuscules. Thus it ran:—
"OMOO, by the author of TYPEE."
With Trinculo we exclaimed, "What have we here? a man or a fish? dead or alive?" Who or what were Typee and Omoo? Were things or creatures thus designated? Did they exist on the earth, or in the air, or in the waters under the earth; were they spiritual or material, vegetable or mineral, brute or human? Were they newly-discovered planets, nicknamed whilst awaiting baptism, or strange fossils, contemporaries of the Megatherium, or Magyar dissyllables from Dr Bowring's vocabulary? Perchance they were a pair of new singers for the Garden, or a fresh brace of beasts for the legitimate drama at Drury. Omoo might be the heavy elephant; Typee the light-comedy camel. Did danger lurk in the enigmatical words? Were they obscure intimations of treasonable designs, Swing advertisements, or masonic signs? Was the palace at Westminster in peril? had an agent of sure of Barbarossa Joinville undermined the Trafalgar column? Were they conspirators' watchwords, lovers' letters, signals concerted between the robbers of Rogers's bank? We tried them anagrammatically, but in vain: there was nought to be made of Omoo; shake it as we would, the O's came uppermost; and by reversing Typee we obtained but a pitiful result. At last a bright gleam broke through the mist of conjecture. Omoo was a book. The outlandish title that had perplexed us was intended to perplex; it was a bait thrown out to that wide-mouthed fish, the public; a specimen of what is theatrically styled gag. Having but an indifferent opinion of books ushered into existence by such charlatanical manoeuvres, we thought no more of Omoo, until, musing the other day over our matutinal hyson, the volume itself was laid before us, and we suddenly found ourselves in the entertaining society of Marquesan Melville, the phoenix of modern voyagers, sprung, it would seem, from the mingled ashes of Captain Cook and Robin Crusoe.
Those who have read M. Herman Melville's former work will remember, those who have not are informed by the introduction to the present one, that the author, an educated American, whom circumstances had shipped as a common sailor on board a South-Seaman, was left by his vessel on the island of Nukuheva, one of the Marquesan group. Here he remained some months, until taken off by a Sydney whaler, short-handed, and glad to catch him. At this point of his adventures he commences Omoo. The title is borrowed from the dialect of the Marquesas, and signifies a rover: the book is excellent, quite first-rate, the "clear grit," as Mr Melville's countrymen would say. Its chief fault, almost its only one, interferes little with the pleasure of reading it, will escape many, and is hardly worth insisting upon. Omoo is of the order composite, a skilfully concocted Robinsonade, where fictitious incident is ingeniously blended with genuine information. Doubtless its author has visited the countries he describes, but not in the capacity he states. He is no Munchausen; there is nothing improbable in his adventures, save their occurrence to himself, and that he should have been a man before the mast on board South-Sea traders, or whalers, or on any ship or ships whatever. His speech betrayeth him. His voyages and wanderings commenced, according to his own account, at least as far back as the year 1838; for aught we know they are not yet at an end. On leaving Tahiti in 1843, he made sail for Japan, and the very book before us may have been scribbled on the greasy deck of a whaler, whilst floating amidst the coral reefs of the wide Pacific. True that in his preface, and in the month of January of the present year, Mr Melville hails from New York; but in such matters we really place little dependence upon him. From his narrative we gather that this literary and gentlemanly common-sailor is quite a young man. His life, therefore, since he emerged from boyhood, has been spent in a ship's forecastle, amongst the wildest and most ignorant class of mariners. Yet his tone is refined and well-bred; he writes like one accustomed to good European society, who has read books and collected stores of information, other than could be perused or gathered in the places and amongst the rude associates he describes. These inconsistencies are glaring, and can hardly be explained. A wild freak or unfortunate act of folly, or a boyish thirst for adventure, sometimes drives lads of education to try life before the mast, but when suited for better things they seldom persevere; and Mr Melville does not seem to us the manner of man to rest long contented with the coarse company and humble lot of merchant seamen. Other discrepancies strike us in his book and character. The train of suspicion once lighted, the flame runs rapidly along. Our misgivings begin with the title-page. "Lovel or Belville," says the Laird of Monkbarns, "are just the names which youngsters are apt to assume on such occasions." And Herman Melville sounds to us vastly like the harmonious and carefully selected appellation of an imaginary hero of romance. Separately the names are not uncommon; we can urge no valid reason against their junction, and yet in this instance they fall suspiciously on our ear. We are similarly impressed by the dedication. Of the existence of Uncle Gansevoort, of Gansevoort, Saratoga County, we are wholly incredulous. We shall commission our New York correspondents to inquire as to the reality of Mr Melville's avuncular relative, and, until certified of his corporality, shall set down the gentleman with the Dutch patronymic as a member of an imaginary clan.
Although glad to escape from Nukuheva, where he had been held in a sort of honourable captivity, Typee—the alias bestowed upon the rover by his new shipmates, after the valley whence they rescued him—was but indifferently pleased with the vessel on which he left it, and whose articles he signed as a seaman for one cruise. The Julia was of a beautiful model, and on or before a wind she sailed like a witch; but that was all that could be said in her praise. She was rotten to the core, incommodious, and ill-provided, badly manned, and worse commanded. American-built, she dated from the Short war, had served as a privateer, been taken by the British, passed through many vicissitudes, and was in no condition for a long cruise in the Pacific. So mouldering was her fabric, that the reckless sailors, when seated in the forecastle, dug their knives into the dank boards between them and eternity as easily as into the moist sides of some old pollard oak. She was much dilapidated and rapidly becoming more so; for Black Baltimore, the ship's cook, when in want of firewood, did not scruple to hack splinters from the bits and beams. Lugubrious indeed was the aspect of the forecastle. Landsmen, whose ideas of a sailor's sleeping-place are taken from the snow-white hammocks and exquisitely clean berth-deck of a man of war, or from the rough, but substantial comfort of a well-appointed merchantman, can form no conception of the surpassing and countless abominations of a South-Sea whaler. The "Little Jule," as her crew affectionately styled her, was a craft of two hundred tons or thereabouts; she had sailed with thirty-two hands, whom desertion had reduced to twenty, but these were too many for the cramped and putrid nook in which they slept, ate, and smoked, and alternately desponded or were jovial, as sickness and discomfort, or a Saturday night's bottle and hopes of better luck, got the upper hand. Want of room, however, was one of the least grievances of which the Julia's crew complained. It was a mere trifle, not worth the naming. They could have submitted to close stowage had the dunnage been decent. But instead of swinging in cosy hammocks, they slept in bunks or wretched pigeon-holes, on fragments of sails, unclean rags, blanket-shreds, and the like. Such unenviable accommodations ought hardly to have been disputed with their luckless possessors, who nevertheless were not allowed to occupy in peace their broken-down bunks and scanty bedding. Two races of creatures, time out of mind the curse of old ships in warm latitudes, infested the Julia's forecastle, resisting all efforts to dislodge or exterminate them, sometimes even getting the upper hand, dispossessing the tortured mariners, and driving them on deck in terror and despair. The sick only, hapless martyrs unable to leave their cribs, lay passive, if not resigned, and were trampled under foot by their ferocious and unfragrant foes. These were rats and cockroaches. Typee—we use the name he bore during his Julian tribulations—records a singular phenomenon in the nocturnal habits of the last-named vermin. "Every night they had a jubilee. The first symptom was an unusual clustering and humming amongst the swarms lining the beams overhead, and the inside of the sleeping-places. This was succeeded by a prodigious coming and going on the part of those living out of sight. Presently they all came forth; the larger sort racing over the chests and planks; winged monsters darting to and fro in the air; and the small fry buzzing in heaps almost in a state of fusion. On the first alarm, all who were able darted on deck; while some of the sick, who were too feeble, lay perfectly quiet, the distracted vermin running over them at pleasure. The performance lasted some ten minutes." Persons there are, weak enough to view with loathing and aversion certain sable insects that stray at night in kitchen or in pantry, and barbarous enough to circumvent and destroy the odoriferous coleopterae by artful devices of glass traps and scarlet wafers. Such persons will probably form their ideas of Typee's cockroaches from their own domestic opportunities of observation. That were unjust to the crew of the Julia, and would give no adequate idea of their sufferings. As a purring tabby to a roaring jaguar, so is a British black-beetle to a cock-roach of the Southern Seas. We back our assertion by a quotation from our lamented friend Captain Cringle, who in his especially graphic and attractive style thus hits off the peculiarities of this graceful insect. "When full grown," saith Thomas, "it is a large dingy brown-coloured beetle, about two inches long, with six legs, and two feelers as long as its body. It has a strong anti-hysterical flavour, something between rotten cheese and asafoetida, and seldom stirs abroad when the sun is up, but lies concealed in the most obscure and obscene crevices it can creep into; so that, when it is seen, its wings and body are thickly covered with dust and dirt of various shades, which any culprit who chances to fall asleep with his mouth open, is sure to reap the benefit of, as it has a great propensity to walk into it, partly for the sake of the crumbs adhering to the masticators, and also, apparently, with a scientific desire to inspect, by accurate admeasurement with the aforesaid antennae, the state and condition of the whole potato-trap." A description worthy of Buffon. Such were the delicate monsters, the savoury sexipedes, with whom Typee and his comrades had to wage incessant war. They were worse even than the rats, which were certainly bad enough. "Tame as Trenck's mouse, they stood in their holes, peering at you like old grandfathers in a doorway;" watching for their prey, and disputing with the sailors the weevil-biscuit, rancid pork, and horse-beef, composing the Julia's stores; or smothering themselves, the luscious vermin, in molasses, which thereby acquired a rich wood-cock flavour, whose cause became manifest when the treacle-jar ran low, greatly to the disgust and consternation of the biped consumers. There were no delicate feeders on board, but this saccharine essence of rat was too much even for the unscrupulous stomachs of South-Sea whalers. A queer set they were on board that Sydney barque. Paper Jack, the captain, was a feeble Cockney, of meek spirit and puny frame, who glided about the vessel in a nankeen jacket and canvass pumps, a laughing-stock to his crew. The real command devolved upon the chief mate, John Jermin—a good sailor and brave fellow, but violent, and given to drink. The junior mate had deserted; of the four harpooners only one was left, a fierce barbarian of a New Zealander—an excellent mariner, whose stock of English was limited to nautical phrases and a frightful power of oath, but who, in spite of his cannibal origin, ranked as a sort of officer, in virtue of his harpoon, and took command of the ship when mate and captain were absent. What a capital story, by the bye, Typee tells us of one of this Bembo's whaling exploits! New Zealanders are brave and bloodthirsty, and excellent harpooners, and they act up to the South-Seaman's war-cry, "A dead whale or a stove boat!" There is a world of wild romance and thrilling adventure in the occasional glimpses of the whale fishery afforded us in Omoo; a strange picturesqueness and piratical mystery about the lawless class of seamen engaged in it. Such a portrait gallery as Typee makes out of the Julia's crew, beginning with Chips and Bungs, the carpenter and cooper, the "Cods," or leaders of the forecastle, and descending until he arrives at poor Rope Yarn, or Ropey, as he was called, a stunted journeyman baker from Holborn, the most helpless and forlorn of all land-lubbers, the butt and drudge of the ship's company! A Dane, a Portuguese, a Finlander, a savage from Hivarhoo, sundry English, Irish, and Americans, a daring Yankee beach-comber, called Salem, and Sydney Ben, a runaway ticket-of-leave-man, made up a crew much too weak to do any good in the whaling way. But the best fellow on board, and by far the most remarkable, was a disciple of Esculapius, known as Doctor Long-Ghost. Jermin is a good portrait; so is Captain Guy; but Long-Ghost is a jewel of a boy, a complete original, hit off with uncommon felicity. Nothing is told us of his early life. Typee takes him up on board the Julia, shakes hands with him in the last page of the book, and informs us that he has never since seen or heard of him. So we become acquainted with but a small section of the doctor's life; his subsequent adventures are unknown, and, save a chance hint or two, his previous career is a mystery, unfathomable as the Tahitian coast, where, within a biscuit's toss of the coral shore, soundings there are none. Now and then he would obscurely refer to days more palmy and prosperous than those spent on board the Julia. But however great the contrast between his former fortunes and his then lowly position, he exhibited much calm philosophy and cheerful resignation. He was even merry and facetious, a practical wag of the very first order, and as such a great favourite with the whole ship's company, the captain excepted. He had arrived at Sydney in an emigrant ship, had expended his resources, and entered as doctor on board the Julia. All British whalers are bound to carry a medico, who is treated as a gentleman, so long as he behaves as such, and has nothing to do but to drug the men and play drafts with the captain. At first Long-Ghost and Captain Guy hit it off very well; until, in an unlucky hour, a dispute about politics destroyed their harmonious association. The captain got a thrashing; the mutinous doctor was put in confinement and on bread and water, ran away from the ship, was pursued, captured, and again imprisoned. Released at last, he resigned his office, refused to do duty, and went forward amongst the men. This was more magnanimous than wise. Long-Ghost was a sort of medical Tom Coffin, a raw-boned giant, upwards of two yards high, one of those men to whom the between-decks of a small craft is a residence little less afflicting than one of Cardinal Balue's iron cages. And to one who "had certainly, at some time or other, spent money, drunk Burgundy, and associated with gentlemen," the Julia's forecastle must have contained a host of disagreeables, irrespective of rats and cockroaches, of its low roof, evil odours, damp timbers, and dungeon-like aspect. The captain's table, if less luxurious than that of a royal yacht or New York liner, surely offered something better than the biscuits, hard as gun-flints and thoroughly honeycombed, and the shot-soup, "great round peas polishing themselves like pebbles by rolling about in tepid water," on which the restive man of medicine was fain to exercise his grinders during his abode forward. As regarded society, he lost little by relinquishing that of Guy the Cockney, since he obtained in exchange the intimacy of Melville the Yankee, who, to judge from his book, must be exceeding good company, and to whom he was a great resource. The doctor was a man of learning and accomplishments, who had made the most of his time whilst the sun shone on his side the hedge, and had rolled his ungainly carcass over half the world. "He quoted Virgil, and talked of Hobbes of Malmsbury, besides repeating poetry by the canto, especially Hudibras. In the easiest way imaginable, he could refer to an amour he had in Palermo, his lion-hunting before breakfast among the Caffres, and the quality of the coffee to be drunk in Muscat." Strangely must such reminiscences have sounded in a whaler's forecastle, with Dunks the Dane, Finland Van, and Wymontoo the Savage, for auditors.
The Julia had hitherto had little luck in her cruise, and could scarcely hope for better in the state in which Typee found her. Besides the losses by desertion, her crew was weakened by disease. Several of the men lay sick in their berths, wholly unfit for duty. The captain himself was ill, and all would have derived benefit from a short sojourn in port; but this could not be thought of. The discipline of the ship was bad, and the sailors, desperate and unruly fellows, discontented, as well they might be, with their wretched provisions and uncomfortable state, were not to be trusted on or near shore. Three-fourths of them, had they once set foot on dry land, would have absconded, taken refuge in the woods or amongst the savages, and have submitted to any amount of tattoo, paint, and nose-ringing, rather than return to the ship. Already, at St Christina, one of the Marquesas, a large party had made their escape in two of the four whale-boats, scuttling the third, and cutting the tackles of the fourth nearly through, so that when Bembo jumped in to clear it away, man and boat went souse into the water. By the assistance of a French corvette, and by bribing the king of the country with a musket and ammunition, the fugitives were captured. But it was more than probable that they and others would renew the attempt should opportunity offer; so there was no alternative but to keep the sea, and hope for better days and for the convalescence of the invalids. Two of these died. Neither Bible nor Prayer-book were on board the godless craft, and like dogs, without form of Christian burial, the dead were launched into the deep. The situation of the survivors inspired with considerable uneasiness the few amongst them capable of reflection. The captain was ignorant of navigation; it was the mate who, from the commencement of the voyage, had kept the ship's reckoning, and kept it all to himself. He had only to get washed overboard in a gale, or to walk over in a drunken fit, to leave his shipmates in a fix of the most unpleasant description, ignorant of latitude, longitude, and of everything else necessary to be known to guide the vessel on her course. And as to the sperm whales, which Jermin had promised them in such abundance that they would only have to strike and take, not a single fin showed itself. At last the captain was reported dying, and the mate took counsel with Long-Ghost, Typee, and others of the crew. He would gladly have continued the cruise, but his wish was overruled, and the whaler's stern was turned towards the Society Islands.
The first glimpse of the peaks of Tahiti was hailed with transport by the Julia's weary mariners. They had got a notion that if the captain left the ship, their articles were no longer binding, and they should be free to follow his example. And, at any rate, the sickness on board and the shaky condition of the barque, guaranteed them, as they thought, long and blissful leisure amongst the waving palm-groves and soft-eyed Neuhas of Polynesia. Their arrival in sight of Papeetee, the Tahitian capital, was welcomed by the boom of cannon. The frigate Reine Blanche, at whose fore flew the flag of Admiral Du Petit Thouars, thus celebrated the compulsory treaty, concluded that morning, by which the island was ceded to the French.
Captain Guy and his baggage were now set on shore, and it was soon apparent to his men that whilst he nursed himself in the pure climate and pleasant shades of Tahiti, they were to put to sea under the mate's orders, and after a certain time to touch again at the island, and take off their commander. The vessel was not even allowed to go into port, although needing repairs, and in fact unseaworthy; and as to healing the sick, selfish Paper Jack thought only of solacing his own infirmities. The fury of the ill-fed, reckless, discontented crew, on discovering the project of their superiors, passed all bounds. Chips and Bungs volunteered to head a mutiny, and a round-robin was drawn up and signed. But when Wilson, an old acquaintance of Guy's, and acting consul in the absence of missionary Pritchard, came on board, the gallant cooper, who derived much of his courage from the grog-kid, was cowed and craven. The grievances brought forward, amongst others that of the salt-horse, (a horse's hoof with the shoe on, so swore the cook, had been found in the pickle,) were treated as trifles and pooh-poohed by the functionary, "a minute gentleman with a viciously pugged nose, and a decidedly thin pair of legs." But if Bungs allowed himself to be brow-beaten, so did not his comrades. Yankee Salem flourished a bowie-knife, and such alarming demonstrations were made, that the counsellor, as the sailors persisted in calling the consul, thought it wise to beat a retreat. Jermin now tried his hand, holding out brilliant prospects of a rich cargo of sperm oil, and a pocket-full of dollars for every man on his return to Sydney. The mutineers were proof alike against menace and blandishment, and, at the secret instigation of Long Ghost and Typee, resolutely refused to do duty. The consul, who had promised to return, did not show; and at last the mate, having now but a few invalids and landsmen to work the ship and keep her off shore, was compelled to enter the harbour. The Julia came to an anchor within cable's length of the French frigate, on board which consul Wilson repaired to obtain assistance. The Reine Blanche was to sail in a few days for Valparaiso, and the mutineers expected to go with her and be delivered up to a British man-of-war. Undismayed by this prospect, they continued stanch in their contumacy, and presently an armed cutter, "painted a 'pirate black,' its crew a dark, grim-looking set, and the officers uncommonly fierce-looking little Frenchmen," conveyed them on board the frigate, where they were duly handcuffed, and secured by the ankle to a great iron bar bolted down to the berth-deck.
Touching the proceedings on board the French man-of-war, its imperfect discipline, and the strange, un-nautical way of carrying on the duty, Typee is jocular and satirical. American though he be—and, but for occasional slight yankeeisms in his style, we might have doubted even that fact—he has evidently much more sympathy with his cousin John Bull than with his country's old allies, the French, whom he freely admits to be a clever and gallant nation, whilst he broadly hints that their valour is not likely to be displayed to advantage on the water. He finds too much of the military style about their marine institutions. Sailors should be fighting men, but not soldiers or musket-carriers, as they all are in turn in the French navy. He laughs at or objects to every thing; the mustaches of the officers, the system of punishment, the sour wine that replaces rum and water, the soup instead of junk, the pitiful little rolls baked on board, and distributed in lieu of hard biscuit. And whilst praising the build of their ships—the only thing about them he does praise—he ejaculates a hope, which sounds like a doubt, that they will not some day fall into the hands of the people across the Channel. "In case of war," he says, "what a fluttering of French ensigns there would be! for the Frenchman makes but an indifferent seaman, and though for the most part he fights well enough, somehow or other, he seldom fights well enough to beat:"—at sea, be it understood. We are rather at a loss to comprehend the familiarity shown by Typee with the internal arrangements and architecture of the Reine Blanche. His time on board was passed in fetters; at nightfall on the fifth day he left the ship. How, we are curious to know, did he become acquainted with the minute details of "the crack craft in the French navy," with the disposition of her guns and decks, the complicated machinery by which certain exceedingly simple things were done, and even with the rich hangings, mirrors, and mahogany of the commodore's cabin? Surely the ragged and disreputable mutineer of the Julia, whose foot had scarcely touched the gangway, when he was hurried into confinement below, could have had scanty opportunity for such observations: unless, indeed, Herman Melville, or Typee, or the Rover, or by whatever other alias he be known, instead of creeping in at the hawse-holes, was welcomed on the quarter-deck and admitted to the gun-room, or to the commodore's cabin, an honoured guest in broad-cloth, not a despised merchant seaman in canvass frock and hat of tarpaulin. We shall not dwell on these small inconsistencies and oversights in an amusing book. We prefer accompanying the Julia's crew to Tahiti, where they were put on shore contrary to their expectations, and not altogether to their satisfaction, since they had anticipated a rapid run to Valparaiso, the fag-end of a cruise in an English man-of-war, and a speedy discharge at Portsmouth. Paper Jack and Consul Wilson had other designs, and still hoped to reclaim them to their duty on board the crazy Julia. On their stubborn refusal, they were given in charge to a fat, good-humoured, old Tahitian, called Captain Bob, who, at the head of an escort of natives, conveyed them up the country to a sort of shed, known as the Calabooza Beretanee or English jail, used as a prison for refractory sailors. This commences Typee's shore-going adventures, not less pleasant and original than his sea-faring ones; although it is with some regret that we lose sight of the vermin-haunted barque, on whose board such strange and exciting scenes occurred.
Throughout the book, however, fun and incident abound, and we are consoled for our separation from poor little Jule, by the curious insight we obtain into the manners, morals, and condition of the gentle savages, on whom an attempted civilisation has brought far more curses than blessings.
"How pleasant were the songs of Toobonai,"
how gladsome and grateful the rustle of leaves and tinkle of rills, and silver-toned voices of Tahitian maidens, to the rough seamen who had so long been "cabined, cribbed, confined," in the Julia's filthy forecastle! Not that they were allowed free range of the Eden of the South Seas. On board the Reine Blanche their ankles had been manacled to an iron bar; in the Calabooza, (from the Spanish calabozo, a dungeon,) they were placed in rude wooden stocks twenty feet long, constructed for the particular benefit of refractory mariners. There they lay, merry men all of a row, fed upon taro (Indian turnip) and bread-fruit, and covered up at night with one huge counterpane of brown tappa, the native cloth. It was owing to no friendly indulgence on the part of Guy and the consul, that their diet was so agreeable and salutary. Every morning Ropey came grinning into the prison, with a bucket full of the old worm-eaten biscuit from the Julia. It was a huge treat to the unfortunate Cockney, thus to be instrumental in the annoyance of his former persecutors; and lucky for him that their limbo'd legs prevented their rewarding his visible exultation otherwise than by a shower of maledictions. They swore to starve rather than consume the maggoty provender. Luckily the natives had it in very different estimation. They did not mind maggots, and held British biscuit to be a piquant and delicious delicacy. So in exchange for their allotted ration, the mutineers obtained a small quantity of vegetable food, and an unlimited supply of oranges, thanks to which refreshing regimen the sick were speedily restored to health. And after a few days of stocks and submission, jolly old Captain Bob, who spoke sailor's English, and obstinately claimed intimacy with Captain Cook,—whose visit to the island had occurred some years before his birth—relaxed his severity, and allowed the captives their freedom during the day. They profited of this permission to forage a little, in a quiet way; assisting at pig-killings, and dropping in at dinner-time upon the wealthier of their neighbours. Tahitian hospitality is boundless, and the more praiseworthy that the island, although so fertile, produces but a scanty amount of edibles. Bread-fruit is the chief resource; fish, a very important one, the chief dependence of many of the poorer natives. There is little industry amongst them, and on the spontaneous produce of the soil the shipping make heavy demands. Polynesian indolence is proverbial. Very light labour would enable the Tahitians to roll in riches, at least according to their own estimate of the value of money and of the luxuries it procures. The sugar-cane is indigenous to the island, and of remarkably fine quality; cotton is of ready growth; but the fine existing plantations "are owned and worked by whites, who would rather pay a drunken sailor eighteen or twenty Spanish dollars a month, than hire a sober native for his fish and taro." Wholly without energy, the Tahitians saunter away their lives in a state of drowsy indolence, aiming only at the avoidance of trouble, and the sensual enjoyment of the moment. The race rapidly diminishes. "In 1777, Captain Cook estimated the population of Tahiti at about two hundred thousand. By a regular census taken some four or five years ago, it was found to be only nine thousand!" Diseases of various kinds, entirely of European introduction, and chiefly the result of drunkenness and debauchery, account for this frightful decrease, which must result in the extinction of the aborigines.
"The palm-tree shall grow, The coral shall spread, But man shall cease."
So runs an old Tahitian prophecy, soon to be realised. And if Pomaree, who is under forty years of age, proves a long-lived sovereign, she may chance to find herself a queen without subjects. Concerning her majesty and her court, Typee is diffuse and diverting. This is an age of queens, and although her dominions be of the smallest, her people few and feeble, and her prerogative wofully clipped, she of Tahiti has made some noise in the world, and attracted a fair share of public attention. At one time, indeed, she was almost as much thought of and talked about as her more civilised and puissant European sisters. In France, La Reine Pomaree was looked upon as a far more interesting personage than Spanish Isabel or Portuguese Maria; and extraordinary notions were formed as to the appearance, habits, and attributes of her dusky majesty. Distance favoured delusion, and French imagination ran riot in conjecture, until the reports of the valiant Thonars, and his squadron of protection, dissipated the enchantment, and reduced Pomaree to her true character, that of a lazy, dirty, licentious, Polynesian savage, who walks about barefoot, drinks spirits, and hen-pecks her husband. Her real name is Aimata, but she assumed, on ascending the throne, the royal patronymic by which she is best known. There were Caesars in Rome, there are Pomarees in Tahiti. The name was originally assumed by the great Otoo, (to be read of in Captain Cook,) who united the whole island under one crown. It descended to his son, and then to his grandson, who came to the throne an infant, and, dying young, was succeeded by her present majesty, Pomaree Vahinee I., the first female Pomaree. This lady has been twice married. Her first husband was a king's son, but the union was ill assorted, a divorce obtained, and she took up with one Tanee, a chief from the neighbouring island of Imeco. She leads him a dog's life, and he consoles himself by getting drunk. In that state, he now and then violently breaks out, contemns the royal authority, thrashes his wife, and smashes the crockery. Captain Bob gave Typee an account of a burst of this sort, which occurred about seven years ago. Stimulated by the seditious advice of his boon companions, and under the influence of an unusually large dose of strong waters, the turbulent king-consort forgot the respect due to his wife and sovereign, mounted his horse, and ran full tilt at the royal cavalcade, out for their afternoon ride in the park. One maid of honour was floored, the rest fled in terror, save and except Pomaree, who stood her ground like a man, and apostrophised her insubordinate spouse in the choicest Tahitian Billingsgate. For once her eloquence failed of effect. Dragged from her horse, her personal charms were deteriorated by a severe thumping on the face. This done, Othello-Tanee attempted to strangle her, and was in a fair way to succeed, when her loving subjects came to her rescue. So heinous a crime could not be overlooked, and Tanee, was banished to his native island; but after a short time he declared his penitence, made amende honorable, and was restored to favour. He does not very often venture to thwart the will of his royal wife, much less to raise his hand against her sacred person, but submits with exemplary patience to her caprices and abuse, and even to the manual admonitions she not unfrequently bestows upon him.
Upon the whole, life, at the Calabooza was not very disagreeable. The prisoners, now only nominally so, had little to complain of, except occasional short commons, arising not from unwillingness, but from disability, on the part of the kind-hearted natives, to satisfy the cravings of the hungry whalers, whose appetites were remarkable, especially that of lanky Doctor Long Ghost. The doctor was a stickler for quality as well as quantity; the memory of his claret and beccafico days still clung to him, like the scent of the roses to Tom Moore's broken gallipot: he was curious in condiments, and whilst devouring, grumbled at the unseasoned viands of Tahiti. Cayenne and Harvey abounded not in those latitudes, but pepper and salt were on board the Julia, and the doctor prevailed on Rope Yarn to bring him a supply. "This he placed in a small leather wallet, a monkey bag (so called by sailors) usually worn as a purse about the neck. 'In my poor opinion,' said Long Ghost, as he tucked the wallet out of sight, 'it behoves a stranger in Tahiti to have his knife in readiness, and his castor slung.'" And thus equipped, the doctor and his brethren in captivity rambled over the verdant slopes and through the cool groves of Tahiti, bathed in the mountain streams, and luxuriated in orange orchards, where "the trees formed a dense shade, spreading overhead a dark, rustling vault, groined with boughs, and studded here and there with the ripened spheres, like gilded balls." Then they had plenty of society; native visitors flocked to see them, and Doctor Johnson, a resident English physician, was constant in his attendance, knowing that the Consul must pay his bill. Three French priests also called upon them, one of whom proved to be no Frenchman, but a portly, handsome, good-humoured Irishman, well known and much disliked by the Polynesian protestant missionaries. A strong attempt was made by Guy and Wilson to get the men to do duty. A schooner was about to sail for Sydney, and they were threatened to be sent thither for trial. They still refused to hand rope or break biscuit on board the Julia. Long Ghost made some cutting remarks on the captain; and the sailors, who had been taken down to the Consul's office for examination, began to bully, and talked of carrying off Consul and Captain to bear them company in the Calabooza. The same ill success attended subsequent attempts, until Captain Guy was compelled to look out for another crew, which he obtained with difficulty, and by a considerable advance of hard dollars. And at last, "It was Sunday in Tahiti, and a glorious morning, when Captain Bob, waddling into the Calabooza, startled us by announcing, 'Ah, my boy—shippee you, harree—maky sail!' in other words, the Julia was off," and had taken her stores of old biscuit with her: so the next morning the inmates of the Calabooza were without rations. The Consul would supply none, and it was pretty evident that he rather desired the departure of the obstinate seamen from that part of the island. The whole of his proceedings with regard to them had served but to render him ridiculous, and he wished them out of his neighbourhood; but the ex-prisoners found themselves pretty comfortable, and preferred remaining. They were better off than they had for some time been, for Jermin—not such a bad fellow, after all—had sent them their chests ashore; and these, besides supplying them with sundry necessaries, gave them immense importance in Tahitian eyes. They had been kindly treated before, but now they were courted and flattered, like younger sons in marching regiments, who suddenly step into the family acres. The natives crowded round them, eager to swear eternal friendship, according to an old Polynesian custom, once universal in the islands, but that has fallen into considerable disuse, except when something is to be gained by its observance. A gentleman of the name of Kooloo fixed his affections upon Typee—or rather upon his goods and chattels; for when he had wheedled him out of a regatta shirt, and other small pieces of finery, he transferred his affections to a newly-arrived sailor, whose chest was better lined, and who bestowed on him a love-token, in the shape of a heavy pea-jacket. In this garment, closely buttoned up, Kooloo took morning promenades, with the tropical sun glaring down upon him. He frequently met his former friend, but passed him with a careless "How d'ye do?" which presently dwindled into a nod. "In one week's time," says poor Typee, "he gave me the cut direct, and lounged by without even nodding. He must have taken me for part of the landscape."
After a while the contents of the chests, and even the chests themselves—esteemed by the Tahitians most valuable pieces of furniture—were given or bartered away, and, as the Consul still refused them rations, the sailors knew not how to live. The natives helped them as much as they could, but their larders were scantily furnished, and they grew tired of feeding fifteen hungry idlers. So at last the latter made a morning call upon the Consul, who, being unwilling to withdraw, and equally so to press, charges which he knew would not be sustained, refused to have any thing to say to them. Thereupon some of the party, strong in principle and resolution, and seeing how grievous an annoyance their presence was to their enemy, Wilson, swore to abide near him and never to leave him. Others, less obstinate or more impatient of a change, resolved to decamp from the Calabooza. The first to depart were Typee and Long Ghost. They had received intelligence of a new plantation in Imeco, recently formed by foreigners, who wanted white labourers, and were expected at Papeetee to seek them. With these men they took service under the names of Peter and Paul, at wages of fifteen silver dollars a month; and, after an affecting separation from their shipmates—whose respectable character may be judged of by the fact, that one of them picked Long Ghost's pocket in the very act of embracing him,—they sailed away for Imeco, and arrived without accident in the valley of Martair, where the plantation was situate. The chapters recording their stay here are amongst the very best in the book, full of rich, quiet fun. Typee gives a capital description of his employers. They were two in number, both "whole-souled fellows; one was a tall robust Yankee, born in the backwoods of Maine, sallow, and with a long face; the other, a short little Cockney who had first clapped his eyes on the Monument." Zeke the Yankee, had christened his comrade "Shorty;" and Shorty looked up to him with respect, and yielded to him in most things. Both showed themselves well disposed towards their new labourers, whom they at once discovered to be superior to their station. And they soon found their society so agreeable, that they were willing to keep them to do little more than nominal work. As to making them efficient farm servants, they quickly gave up that idea. As a sailor, Typee had little fancy for husbandry; and the doctor found his long back terribly in his way when requested to dig potatoes and root up stumps, under a sun which, as Shorty said, "was hot enough to melt the nose hoff a brass monkey." Long Ghost very soon gave in; the extraction of a single tree-root settled him; he pleaded illness, and retired to his hammock, but was considerably vexed when he heard the Yankee propose a bullock hunting expedition, in which, as a sick man, he could not decently take part. This was only the prologue to his annoyances. Musquitoes, unknown in Tahiti, abound in Imeeo. They were brought there, according to a native tradition, by one Nathan Coleman, of Nantucket, who, in revenge for some fancied grievance, towed a rotten water-cask ashore, and left it in a neglected taro patch, where the ground was moist and warm. Musquitoes were the result. "When tormented by them, I found much relief in coupling the word Coleman with another of one syllable, and pronouncing them together energetically." The musquito chapter is very amusing, showing the various comical and ingenious manoeuvres of the friends to avoid their tormentors, and obtain a night's sleep. At last they entered a fishing canoe, paddled some distance from shore, and dropped the native anchor, a stone secured to a rope. They were awakened in the morning by the motion of their boat. Zeke was wading in the shallow water, and towing them from a reef towards which they had drifted. "The water-sprites had rolled our stone out of its noose, and we had floated away." This was a narrow escape, but nevertheless they stuck to their floating bedstead as the only possible sleeping place. A day's successful hunting, followed by a famous supper and jollification under a banian-tree, put the doctor in good humour, and he made himself vastly agreeable. The natives beheld his waggish pranks with infinite admiration, and Zeke looked upon him with particular favour; so much so, that when upon the following morning an order came from a ship at Papeetee, for a supply of potatoes, he almost hesitated to tell funny Peter to assist in digging them up. But the emergency pressed, and the work must be done. So Peter and Paul were set to unearth the vegetables. This was no very cruel task, for "the rich tawny soil seemed specially adapted to the crop; the great yellow murphies rolling out of the hills like eggs from a nest." But when they were dug up, they had to be carried to the beach; and to this part of the business the lazy adventurers had a special dislike, although Zeke kindly provided them, to lighten their toil, with what he called the barrel machine—a sort of rural sedan, in which the servants carried their loads with comparative ease, whilst their employers sweated under shouldered hampers. But no alleviation could reconcile the sailor and the physician to this novel and unpleasant labour, and the potato-digging was the last piece of work, deserving the name, that either of them did. A few days afterwards they gave their masters warning, greatly to the vexation of Zeke, although he received the notice—with true Yankee imperturbability. He proposed that Long Ghost, who, after the hunt, had shown, considerable culinary skill, should assume the office of cook, and that Paul-Typee should only work when it suited him, which would not have been very often. The offer was friendly and favourable, but it was refused. A hospitable invitation to remain as guests as long as was convenient to them, was likewise rejected, and, bent upon a ramble, the restless adventurers left the vale of Martair. Even greater inducements would probably have been insufficient to keep them there. They had been so long on the rove, that change of scene had become essential to their happiness. The doctor, especially, was anxious to be off to Tamai, an inland village on the borders of a lake, where the fruits were the finest, and the women the most beautiful and unsophisticated in all the Society Islands. Epicurean Long Ghost had set his mind upon visiting this terrestrial paradise, and thither his steady chum willingly accompanied him. It was a day's journey on foot, allowing time for dinner and siesta; and the path lay through wood and ravine, unpeopled save by wild cattle. About noon they reached the heart of the island, thus pleasantly described. "It was a green, cool hollow among the mountains, into which we at last descended with a bound. The place was gushing with a hundred springs, and shaded over with great solemn trees, on whose mossy boles the moisture stood in beads." There is something delightfully hydropathic in these lines; they cool one like a shower-bath. He is a prime fellow, this common sailor Melville, at such scraps of description, terse and true, placing the scene before us in ten words. In long yarns he indulges not, but of such happy touches as the above, we could quote a score. We have not room, either for them, or for an account of the valley of Tamai, its hospitable inhabitants, and its heathenish dances, performed in secret, and in dread of the missionaries, by whom such saturnalia are forbidden. The place was altogether so pleasant, that the doctor and his friend entertained serious thoughts of settling there, or at least of making a long stay, when one morning they were put to flight by the arrival of strangers, said to be missionaries, with whom, vagrants as they were, they had no wish to fall in. So they returned to their friend Zeke, nursing new and ambitious projects. They had no intention of remaining with the good-hearted Yankee, but merely paid him a flying visit, and that with an interested motive. What they wanted of him was this. Although feeling themselves gentlemen every inch, they were not always able to convince the world of their respectability. So they resolved to have a passport, and pitched upon Zeke to manufacture it, he being well known and much respected in Imeeo. Zeke was gratified by the compliment, and set to work with a rooster's quill, and a piece of dirty paper. "Evidently he was not accustomed to composition; for his literary throes were so violent, that the doctor suggested that some sort of a Caesarian operation might be necessary. The precious paper was at last finished; and a great curiosity it was. We were much diverted with his reasons for not dating it. 'In this here damned climate,' he observed, 'a feller can't keep the run of the months, no how; 'cause there's no seasons, no summer and winter to go by. One's etarnally thinking it's always July, it's so pesky hot.' A passport provided, we cast about for some means of getting to Taloo."
The decline of the Tahitian monarchy—the degradation of the regal house of Pomaree, is painful to contemplate. The queen still wears a crown—a tinsel one, received as a present from her sister-sovereign of England,—she has also a court and a palace, such as they are; but her power is little more than nominal, her exchequer seldom otherwise than empty. Typee draws a touching contrast between times past and present. "'I'm a greater man than King George,' said the incorrigible young Otoo, to the first missionaries; 'he rides on a horse and I on a man.' Such was the case. He travelled post through his dominions on the shoulders of his subjects, and relays of immortal beings were provided in all the valleys. But, alas! how times have changed! how transient human greatness! Some years since, Pomaree Vahinee I., granddaughter of the proud Otoo, went into the laundry business, publicly soliciting, by her agents, the washing of the linen belonging to officers of ships touching in her harbours." Into the court of this washerwoman-queen, Typee and Long Ghost were exceedingly anxious to penetrate. Vague ideas of favour and preferment haunted their brains. During their Polynesian cruise, they had seen many instances of rapid advancement; vagabond foreigners, of all nations, domesticated in the families of chiefs and kings, and sometimes married to their daughters and sharing their power. At one of the Tonga islands, a scamp of a Welshman officiated as cupbearer to the king of the cannibals. The monarch of the Sandwich islands has three foreigners about his court—a Negro to beat the drum, a wooden-legged Portuguese to play the fiddle, and Mordecai, a juggler, to amuse his majesty with cups and balls and sleight of hand. On the Marquesan island of Hivarhoo, they had found an English sailor who had attained to the highest dignity in the country. He had deserted from a merchant ship, and at once set up, on his own hook, as an independent sovereign, without dominions, but by disposition most belligerent. A musket and a store of cartridges were his whole possessions; but in a land where war was rife, carried on with the primitive weapons of spear and javelin, they were sufficiently important to make a native prince covet his alliance. His first battle was a decisive victory, a perfect Waterloo, and he became the Wellington of Hivarhoo, receiving, as reward for his distinguished services, the hand of a princess, and a splendid dowry of hogs, mats, and other produce. To conform to the prejudices of his new family, he allowed himself to be tattooed, tabooed, and otherwise paganized, becoming as big a savage as any in the island. A blue shark adorned his forehead; a broad bar, of the same colour, traversed his face. The tabooing was a less ornamental but more decidedly useful formality, for by it his person was declared sacred and inviolable. Typee and his medical friend had a strong prejudice against cerulean sharks and the like embellishments; but if these could be dispensed with, they felt no disinclination to form part of Pomaree's household. They had not quite made up their minds what office would best suit them, but their circumstances were unprosperous, and they resolved not to be particular. They understood that the queen was mustering around her all the foreigners she could recruit, to make head against the French. She was then at Taloo, a village on the coast of Imeeo, and thither the two adventurers betook themselves, hoping to be at once elevated to important posts at court; but quite resigned, in case of disappointment, to work as day-labourers in a sugar-plantation, or go to sea in a whaler, then in the harbour for wood and water. Disgusted with their desultory, hand-to-mouth existence, they yearned after respectability and a prime-ministership. To their sanguine anticipations, both of these seemed easy of attainment. Long Ghost, indeed, who, amongst his various accomplishments, was a very Orpheus upon the violin, insisted strongly upon the probability of his becoming a Tahitian Rizzio. But a necessary preliminary to the realisation of these day-dreams, was a presentation at court, and that was difficult to obtain. Once before Queen Pomaree, they doubted not but she, with Napoleonic sagacity, would discern their merits, and forthwith make Typee her admiral, and Long Ghost inspector-general of hospitals. But they lacked an introduction. The proper course, according to the practice of travelling nobodies, desirous of intruding their plebeianism into a foreign court, would have been to apply to their ambassadors. Unfortunately Deputy-Consul Wilson, the only person at hand of a diplomatic character, was by no means disposed to act as master of the ceremonies to the insurgents of the Julia. And their costume, it must be confessed, scarcely qualified them to appear at levee or drawing-room. A short time previously, their ragged and variegated garb had given them much the look of a brace of Polynesian Robert Macaires. Typee had made himself a new frock out of two old ones, a blue and a red, the irregular mingling of the colours producing a pleasing parrot-like effect; a tattered shirt of printed calico was twisted round his head, turban-fashion, the sleeves dangling behind, and bullock's-hide sandals protected his feet. The doctor was still more fantastical in his attire. He sported a roora, a garment similar to the South American poncho, a sort of mantle or blanket, with a hole in the centre, through which the head passes. This simple article of apparel, which in the doctor's case was of coarse brown tappa, fell in folds around his angular carcass, and in conjunction with a broad-brimmed hat of Panama grass, gave him the aspect of a decayed grandee. Thus clad, the two friends arrived in the neighbourhood of the royal residence, and there were fortunate enough to fall in with Mrs Po-Po, a benevolent Tahitian matron, who provided them with clean frocks and trousers, such as sailors wear, and in all respects was as good as a mother to them. Her husband, Jeremiah Po-Po, a man of substance and consideration, made them welcome in his house, fed and fostered them, without hope of fee or recompense. A little of this generous hospitality was owing to the hypocrisy of that villain, Long Ghost, who, finding his entertainers devoutly disposed, muttered a "Grace before Meat" over the succulent little porkers, baked a la facon de Barbarie in the ground, upon which their kind-hearted Amphitrion regaled them. But neither clean canvass, nor simulated piety, sufficed to draw upon the ambitious schemers the favourable notice of Queen Pomaree. Accustomed to sailors, she held them cheap. A uniform, though but the moth-eaten undress of a militia ensign, would have been a powerful auxiliary to their projects of aggrandisement. Like some others of her sex, Pomaree loves a soldier's coat, and maintained in more prosperous days a formidable regiment of body-guards, in pasteboard shakos, and without breeches.