The Lecture of Dr. Downing at the Mechanics' Institute on Friday evening last will, we are sure, be perused with such interest by our readers as to lead them to be pleased with our copying it in extenso, and we beg to call particular attention thereto. The subject was
THE NEW HOME OF THE PITCAIRNERS.
This little drama now being enacted on the world's stage, which forms the subject of the present dis- course, is neither grand nor imposing - like many that now rivet the attention. It is rather one of those episodes of history which prove how thin is the partition in human life, dividing romance from reality. It illustrates the oft-repeated maxim, that truth is stranger than fiction. For it would be difficult for the most fervid imagination to conjure up events more singular than those furnished by the people of Pitcairn, who, from their position, their unfeigned piety, their loyalty, and amiability, have become the pets of the British nation, and the especial favourites of our beloved Queen.
The change that is now about to take place among them, their transfer to a larger and more fertile isle, is extremely interesting. It is a migration almost without parallel in the history of man, but finds its exact counterpart in that of a lower tribe of the animal creation. I allude, of course, to the swarming of bees. To this it will be well to diiect a moment's attention, for everything in nature is, doubtless, written for our learning, and to the reflecting there
are, as the great poet says,
Tongues in trees,
Books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
Let me recall to yonr recollection that season of the year when the earth awakes from its lethargy
throws off the dull mantle of the winter's fashion, and
Smiling nature's universal robe -
when all is glorious sunshine, life, and animation, and man, imbibing draughts of invigorating air so redolent of sweets, feels fresh hope and strength instilled into his bosom ; - then what a luxury it is to stroll along the walks of some well-cultivated garden, where art and nature have gone hand-in-haud,~and observe the opening and expanded blossoms of those gentle stars of earth that seem to display their beauties and exhale their perfume in gratitude to the tending hand. Then, while our senses are charmed by this incense, how soothing is the hum of bees in our ears, how pleasant to watch their busy flittings from bud to blossom, and their rapid flight away with stores of wax and honey. A turn in the walk brings us to the hive. What a busy scene is there ! What redoubled hummings ! The lively insects flitting to and fro, the very types of active energy. But see ! What change is this ? There is a stir - a commotion in the commonwealth. See how the little creatures con- gregate. How they flit off in a body, we know not whither, and again return. Once more they are away like mad things, whirling through the air, and making their tiny wings- glisten like motes in sunshine. See! Now they are assembled on the bough of yonder beech - clinging in a mass of life, yet to all appearance dull and inanimate. Again they are away, restless and unsettled, and now once more collected in a heap. What means all this? Who cannot answer this question ! All know that the bees are about to swarm - that their numbers have so increased that the hive will no longer hold them all - that there is a necessity to form another settlement - to plant a colony elsewhere, and estab- lish a home in a distant grove, where the unexhausted nectaries of flowers will furnish food for the wants and requirements of the rising generation.
We know not whether this is mere instinct, or whether, endowed with reason, these industrious and provident insects, the very types of soberness and foresight, feel the urgent necessity of such a move- ment, and tear themselves away by an effort of the will from their birthplace and dearest connections, - we may even assume that their fitful gyrations in the air, their clubbing and huddling together on the trees, are the results of powerful emotions of grief
and sorrow at the coming separation from the father-
The Pitcairn Islanders form a hive of the human race, a family of men, about to separate, to break up and congregate elsewhere, from the failure of supplies essential to the well-being of the increasing popula- tion. The house is too small, the rooms too scanty to accommodate the growing family, so that another, a larger, and a better home has been provided. To this they are now about to migrate. But, as with the insect favourites with which I havo compared them, their behaviour on this momentous occasion is agitated and eccentric. Their breasts are filled with auguish at the thoughts of leaving the spot rendered dear by old association, and many will rather perish on the bare rock that has hitherto supported them above the waters, than hasten to more fertile and prolific shores. In their prosperity and wel- fare the most lively interest is taken; not only by those who have visited their lonely isle, but by all those who havo heard- and who have not ?- of their sufferings, their trials, and their triumphs. To the people of Tasmania they should be especially inter- esting, for they are about in a measure to be incor- porated with them ; to occupy the sweet island hitherto polluted by the darkest crime, to implant the seeds of virtue in its soil, and to spread the blessings of civilisation and a pure faith among sur- rounding tribes, and thus, we should hops, to erase
from memory the sad and distressing annals of the
Before describing to you this new home of the Pit- cairners, I propose to conduct you to their present abode, to enable you to judge whether they are worthy of the interest taken in them. Let us examine the hive about to be vacated. It is true we cannot inspect it with our own visual organs, but must depend upon the ample and vivid descriptions of others ; as M. Huber, the best writer upon the natural history of the Bee, who was stone-blind, employed the eyes of his domestic in prosecuting his researches. But I will endeavour to be your humble servant upon this occasion. Had it been in my power I would gladly have set before you some such transparencies as Albert Smith - whom some here present may remember as the most successful of modern lecturers - is wont to use, to eke out my feeble descriptions, but failing these aids I will endeavour to present to your mind's eye such mental sketches as I can best execute.
First, then, ladies and gentlemen, let us fly on Ariel's wing across the blue Pacific, and travel back-
wards in the march of timo. Far away across the Southern Sea, in long. 180° 8' west, and lat. 25°4' south, close to the Tropics, we see a solitary ísle rise up from the bosom of the waters. Those present who have visited tho romantic good old town of Edinburgh will recall to mind the Bass Rock in the Frith of Forth, with its steep and almost inaccessible cliffs . but this is much more removed from society. For although there are scattered about in different directions unproductive islets within circuit of three or four hundred miles, yet Tahiti, the nearest port of civilisation, is distant fully more than twelve hun-
If we examine it moro closely, we find tuhat it is a mere speck in the ocean ; one of those spots that could only be discovered by accident, and that unless laid down with the greatest accuracy in charts would be as difficult to find as a needle in a haystack. The greatest length is little more than a mile, and the entire circumference measures but four and a half; yet it rises up in the centre to about 1008 feet above the sea level, and hence when once descried may be seen at a considerable distance. Precipitous rocky cliffs bound the shore on all sides, upon which the sea beats with dreadful violence. There is no haven for vessels even of the smallest size, and the anchor- age is so insecure as to be rarely resorted to. The earliest discoverer, Carbaret, in 1767, approached the islet without venturing to land, from the violence of the surf, and later explorers sailed round it many times before they could detect a place suitable to make the trial. It was to all appearance a huge rock rising out of the lone waters. A small indentation of the coast, since called Bounty Bay, was afterwards noticed, and here the landing has ever since been effected, yet not without danger even in the mildest weather. The interior of this inhospitable shore was found to bo less repulsive than its unpromising exte- rior indicated ; for although the island, being of vol- canic origin, was broken up into precipitous cliffs and ravines, and the bare rock protruded from the surface perpetually, yet some spots were fertile, and yielded fruit and timber trees. It was both romantic and pictuiqsquu certainly, but lonely and silent as the grave, and might be compared to one of those pretty oases that travellers meet with occasionally in the
It was the month of January, in the year 1790, some sixty-six years since, on the shore of the iso- lated rock of Pitcairn, a small party of people is col- lected ; their dress and manners indicate variety ; there are nine Europeans in the ordinary garb of English seamen, six men and twelve women, whose dark skin and simple attire denote that they are natives of the South Seas, and a little girl of the same tribe ; in all, eight-and-twenty individuals. A large vessel is lying at anchor in the bay, the stores of which are collected in heaps upon the beach. A deliberation is held. A few men put off from the shore, reach the ship, and quickly after flames are seen ascending fore and aft. The boat leaves the vessel's side, the fire spreads to the sails and rig- ging, she is consumed to the watei's edge, and then sinks slowly to the bottom. This destruction is wit- nessed on shore with satisfaction, but still a gloomy silence prevails among the spectators. The whole proceeding is mysterious - incomprehensible. Here we see a party of people, of heterogeneous nature, seeking an isolated, remote, solitary rock, and then deliberately destroying the vessel that conveyed them thither, and by which retreat might be effected. Who are they, and what is the reason for this appa- rently insane proceeding? The Europeans are a portion of the successful mutineers of the Bounty, an English Government vessel, with their Otaheitan wives, a few men of the same Society group and their female companions. They have come to this distant spot to reap the fancied advantages of their rebellion, and to escape the punishment due to their crime. You, doubtless, remember the sad story. They have destroyed their vessel lest it should lead to their detection, and hope on this sequestered rock to form a paradise, to pass a quiet, blissful life in the com- pany of those most dear to them. Vain delusion ! The history of these misguided men offers an admirable lesson of morality, showing the destructive tendency of evil passions, and that the sling of conscience is never more keenly felt than in solitude and silence. That guilty man carries within his bosom a more poignant instrument of vengeance than was ever
devised by his fellow mortal.
Let us examine the party a little more closely, as they are building huts and culti- vating the ground. There is Fletcher Chris- tian, former master's mate of tbe Bounty, sup- posed to have been the instigator and ringleader in the revolt, and Edward Young, a midshipman. These are the only men of good education amongst them. Then there is Mills, the gunner's mate ; Brown, the gardener ; and five sailors, of the names of Quintal, McCoy, Smith, Williams and Martin. One of these deserves to be specially distinguished from his fellows at this time. It is Alex. Smith, whose real name was John Adams, a man who figures here- after in a prominent manner. Each of these men is accompanied by a Tahitian woman, the wife of his choice - one of those confiding, simple, affectionate creatures, who won the hearts and bewildered the senses of the earlier navigators. The South Sea
Islandmen have associated with the Europeans from motives of friendship, being probably ignorant of their previous conduct or future intentions.
Thus, of such strange, heterogeneous materials is the little colony of Pitcairn founded. You can ima- gine that in a community of successful mutineers, vice in its most revolting shapes would stalk tri- umphant. Of principle, there would be none. No restraint of any kind could be imposed on men who were determined to be guided by their passions. There was no law for pirates, but the law of the strongest. Might would be sure to prevail over right. Every evil passion being excited by intem- perance, rude license would predominate. Thus Pitcairn was tenanted at this period by tigers and hyenas in human shape, let loose to prey upon each other. The result may be imagined. We will let the curtain drop on this dreadful scene.
When it rises again in the year 1800, what a change has taken place ! One man alone of all the fifteen remains alive. The rest have fallen by each other's hand, or are the victims of their own mis- guided passions. Let us trace briefly the course of events. Scarcely had the mutineers set foot upon the island when it became the stage for the display of every evil passion. Mutual distrust, suspicion, and intemperance produced conspiracy, hatred, and murder. Fletcher Christian, the head of the out- laws, struggled painfully between the stings of conscience and the fear of detection. Though, when fixed at Pitcairn, this man endeavoured to assume a cheerful countenance, the remembrance of the past was deeply painful to him, while shame and remorse weighed heavily on his mind. Often for hours, days together, he would seat himself on a high peak of rock, alone and miserable, and carefully scrutinize the wide expanse of ocean around him, under the apprehension of the approach of the officer of justice. Others would resort also occasionally to this " look- out;" and often the curl of a distant wave, or the glitter of the sea-gull's wing, mistaken for a sail, has infused a panic among the guilty community. Then came deadly struggles and assassination. In one twelvemonth, 1793, five of the white men, including Christian, were murdered by the blacks, and these latter again fell in their turn by the survivors. Every man's hand was armed against his neighbour. Four Europeans, Young, McCoy, Adams and Quintal, now remained, and their condition must have been pitiable indeed. No circumstance can illustrate this better than the fact of the women, now greatly outnum- bering the men, finding the place intolerable, determined to desert, and to brave all perils of the ocean, to thom wholly unknown, rather than remain with their adopted husbands. This strange resolution would doubtless have been carried into effect, but that an accident happened to the boat which was being launched for the purpose. Thus foiled in their design, these desperate Tahitian viragos plotted together for the extermination of their masters ; but this conspiracy also miscarried. These incidents are of no further importance than as indications of the dreadful state of disorganization to which tho com- munity was reduced--when woman, gentle woman, kind, amiable, loving and confiding woman, makes such desperate combinations for an evil end. When a partial and suspicious peace was brought about be- tween the sexes, the males perished singly, miserably. McCoy was drowned by a suicidal act in a fit of delirium tremens, induced by drunkenness. Quintal was killed by his companions, and when Young died of asthma in 1800, Adams remained the sole survivor of the men who landed from the Bounty.
And now we have a different, far more pleasant scene to contemplate. Wo have hitherto been tracing the horrors and consequences of crime. Now we
have to view the sweet spring of virtue and its reward. There is something so exceedingly soothing
and gratifying in the picture I am now about to pre- sent to you, that I would gladly dwell upon its
details for a much longer time than I am warranted by your good nature.
Adams, when he found himself the only man on the
island, was in his thirty-sixth year. Although an ignorant sailor, and doubtless implicated in the mutiny, he must have been less guilty than his fellows - at least it will be charitable to think so. Traces of a kind and gentle heart must have existed beneath the ragged exterior of the seaman. Germs of right feeling existed that required but time and circumstances for their development ; in the same way as the grains of wheat that had lain dormant in the Egyptian tomb for 3000 years took root and flourished luxuriautly when exposed to the genial influence of the sun and air. The dreadful scenes he had lately witnessed produced a powerful influence on his mind, and led to reflection and reform. Solitude also greatly contributed to effect the change, if we may presume to analyse the ways of Providence to man. An old Bible, saved probably by accident from the Bounty, was carefully studied by the lone soli- tary man, and was the source of much hope and con- solation. vThe position in which he was now placed with respect to his associates on the island was unpre- cedented. We can scarcely imagine anything more embarrassing, or better calculated to arouse feelings of grave responsibility. Here was a man of little education, and by no means of hardened heart, placed by destiny alone on a distant isolated isle, and sur- rounded by some dozen heathen women and perhaps twenty children, all looking up to him for assistance and advice. His must have been a callous heart indeed to have resisted such an impulse. The great- est criminal on earth would have been affected. No wonder, then, that we find Adams poring over the leaves of the Bible, that his language and manners became gentle and engaging, and that he had dreams and visions of supernatural visitation, in which his past transgressions and the awful nature of the punish- ment awaiting them were presented to him in vivid colours. These were, doubtless, such effects of exalted imagination as most persons have in their turn, and may properly be regarded as a mode of the interposition of Providence for reformatory purposes ; but they produced in him a lasting and wholesome
impression, and effectually moved his conscience ; for from this time he became an altered and a better man. His manners, as I have said, became gentle and engaging, and his whole demeanour pious and exemplary. Studying diligently the Scriptures, and gathering therefrom stores of wisdom and morality, Adams set to work to impart, to the best of his ability, this knowledge to the poor benighted crea- tures by whom he was surrounded. A beautiful picture it would have made - this now reformed and worthy man sitting like a Patriarch of old, beneath the spreading banyan tree as the sun went down, surrounded by troops of heathen women and of smiling children, all looking up to him with reve- rence and affection, and drinking in the words of holy wisdom that flowed from his mouth. Thus were the good seeds scattered, aud in due course produced fruit abundantly. Portions of Scripture were read and commented on by the old man - loyalty was not forgot-
ten - as well as lessons of morality and virtue pro-
Reform in all things was needed, and was affected steadily and quietly. Diligence, order, and regularity became established in the community. The fertile land was divided, the ground cultivated, and the fruit and grain harvested in proper seasons. Peace of mind followed these virtuous exertions. At first, during his solitary life, poor Adams used often to resort to the Look-out Ridge, in fear that some ship might come to drag him away to punishment ; but subsequently this place was forsaken, and he passed his days and nights in tranquillity. The women be- came steady and industrious matrons, and the children grew together in innocence, until, as youths and maidens, they caught the infection of love, and were united together in couples in holy matrimony.
In this quiet, orderly way, the community of Pit- cairn lived until the year 1814: up to this period no
body had molested them. Their very existence was ignored. And this was 26 years after the mutiny. Away on their distant rock, far away from the busy haunts of men, they passed their tranquil, contented hours, unsought and unknown. In that year, H. M. ships Tagus and Briton, in search of an American ship of war, fell in with an island, believed by Sir T. Staines to be one of the ordinary, uninhabited rocks of those seas. Upon nearing it, however, he observed to his astonishment, plantations regularly laid out, and huts or houses neatly constructed. When about two miles from the landing-place, some of the natives were observed bringing down a canoe on their shoulders, dashing through a heavy surf, and paddling off to the ships. This created surprise, but the astonishment of all on board was unbounded when, as the inhabitants of this distant, isolated, and sup- posed savage isle approached the Briton, one of them sung out in good, bold English, "Won't you heave us
rope, now ?"
The first person who sprang on board, after hailing in this fashion, was Thursday October Christian, son of Fletcher Christian, the ringleader of the mu- tineers. He was named somewhat after the mode of Robinson Crusoe's man Friday, from the fact of his having been born on a Thursday in October. But what a contrast to his parent ! The youth was about 25 years of age, a fine young fellow, six feet high, with dark black hair. His only dress was a piece of cloth round his loins, and a straw hat, ornamented with the black feather of the domestic fowl. His countenance was remarkably open and interesting. His compa- nions were very similar to him. The Commanders were delighted to trace all the usual characteristics of the honest English face, which could not be surveyed without feelings of tenderness and compassion. These emotions were by no means lessened when, upon taking the youths below, and setting before them something to eat, one of them rose up and, placing his hands before him in an attitude of devotion, asked a blessing on his food. A cow was shown them, but in their simplicity they were puzzled to decide whether it was a great goat or a sow with horns. The two captains accompanied the youths ashore, and effected a landing with difficulty. But they were amply compensated by witnessing the joy manifested bv these poor people at seeing those whom they were pleased to consider their countrymen. All that the island could furnish, in the shape of new laid eggs, yams, cocoa-nuts and other fruits, were laid before the visitors with lavish hospitality. The settlement then consisted of about 46 persons, mostly grown-up young people, besides a number of infants. It will be interesting to notice the impression produced upon
these the first visitors to Pitcairn.
The young men, all bom on the island, were very athletic and of fine forms ; their countenances open and pleasing, indicative of benevolence and goodness of heart. But the young women were objects of particular admiration ; - tall, robust, and well formed, their faces beaming with smiles and unruffled good humour, but wearing a degree of modesty and bash- fulness that would do honour to the most virtuous
nation on earth. Their teeth, like ivory, were regular and beautiful, without a single exception ; and all of them, both male and female, had the most marked English features. Their native modesty, assisted by a proper sense of religion and morality, instilled into their minds by John Adams, had hitherto pre- served these interesting people pure and uncorrupted. The youngest part of the female sex were employed with their brothers, under the direction of the patriarch, in the cultivation of the ground, which yielded cocoa-nuts, bananas, the bread-fruit, yams, sweet potatoes and turnips. They had also plenty of hogs, goats, poultry aud fish. The greatest harmony prevailed in the little society. When possessed of a sufficient quantity of cleared land and of stock to maintain a family, the youths were allowed to marry, but never without the consent of the old man. The majority of the settlers dwelt in a little village, the houses of which, arranged in the form of a square, enclosing a smooth verdant lawn, were built on a settled plan, and were fitted in an orderly manner. All indicated sobriety, piety, and peace.
When these details reached England, they na- turally excited the greatest interest among all classes, and led to an event which certainly forms another epoch in the remarkable annals of Pitcairn ; I allude to the settlement among them of Mr. Nobbs, their teacher and pastor. The circumstances which brought this about are curious. As a youth, Nobbs served some time as a midshipman in the British Navy, but afterwards went to assist the patriots of South America, and held a commission in the Chilian service. Quitting this employment, after many hardships and dangers, he returned to London, and went one or two voyages from thence to Sierra Leone,
in merchant vessels. Excaping from this pestilential shore with life, and thoroughly wearied out by his incessant wanderings and perils - for he had at that
period been no less than four times round the world, and experienced shipwrecks and dangers innumera- ble - he longed to pass the rest of his days in peace, and, if possible, in usefulness to his fellow-creatures. It was at this time that he heard of the people of
Pitcairn, of their innocence, their piety, their happi- ness, and resolved to make his way thither, if it was in any way possible. The idea of such a project was romantic in the extreme, almost Quixotic. Its execu- tion required no little detetmination and perseverance, for there was no direct communication with the island, and the chanoe of a vessel touching there was
extremely problematical. However, nothing daunted by these difficulties, and as if to prove that where there's a will there's a way, Mr. Nobbs took passage in the Circassian, in November 1825, for Calcutta. Here he was detained until August 1827,when starting again,
and being nearly shipwrecked in the Straits of Sunda, he crossed the Pacific to Valparaiso. In this city, and afterwards in Callao, the adventurer suffered further detention. Ultimately, finding other means of pro- gression hopeless, he fitted out at his own expense, probably with every farthing he possessed, a frail barque of l8 tons burthon, and in this, accompanied by an American seaman of the name of Bunker, he made his way across the waters to the solitary isle. He arrived at Pitcairn in October 1828, was kindly welcomed by the inhabitants, soon selected a wife from
amonst them, and broke up his little vessel to
afford the materials for a house.
The arrival of Mr. Nobbs at Pitcairn at this period was most opportune. Although apparently fortui- tous, it was one of those circumstances that may be called providential, and which illustrate the myste- rious ways of God to man.
The good old man, John Adams, the patriarch of the little community, was fast hastening towards that bourne from whence no traveller returns. His appear- ance at this time, when in his sixty-fifth year, must have been both venerable and prepossessing. Dressed ¡a a sailor's shirt and trousers, with a handkerchief loosely tied round the throat, the seriousness of his occupations in instructing and governing the simple people about him had given a calm, thoughtful, and benevolent expression to a countenance on which the exercise of an habitually fervent and sincere piety had marked indelible traces. He was respected, nay, revered, by young and old; his word was law, from which there was no appeal ; all matters were referred to him for decision, and this was final. He was like the father of a large family, and up to the latest hour of his life was surrounded by affectionate and dutiful children. When, after expounding the Scrip- tures and dispensing the blessings of salvation to the infant colony, the worthy old man was at length gathered to his fathers, the tears and blessings of all accompanied him to his lonely grave. Their best friend had departed. His grave is now pointed out
This event happened in March 1829, some six months after tho arrival of Mr. Nobbs. We may assume that this gentleman, living as one of the community during the interval, had become tho- roughly acquainted with the old sailor's mode of teaching, and had been impresssd by and had imi- tated his exemplary habits. He was trained, there- fore, immediately by the master. Now that the islanders were left otherwise without guidance or control, who was so fit to succeed to the post of Adams as the newly-arrived European, who pos- sessed great experience and a fair share of know- ledge ? In this light I say that the arrival of Nobbs was providential. He at once became their pastor, surgeon, and schoolmaster, and is so at the present day. All the duties of the patriarch devolved upon him, and have certainly been exercised in a most exemplary manner. His flock, then numbering only sixty-eight, has now increased to nearly two hun- dred, and has remained under his tuition as pure and uncorrupted as before, notwithstanding the interrup- tions and annoyances to which he was occasionally subjected. Once, for instance, when, in 1822, a certain cracked-brain fellow, named Joshua Hill, made his way to Pitcairn from Tahiti. This person, then about sixty years of age, gave out that he was authorised by the British Government to reside amongst them, and that he was a man of great importance and authority. He told the simple people of Pitcairn that he had been everywhere, from the Falls of Niagara to the Temple of Elephanta in Bombay. That he had been on most intimate terms with princes, am- bassadors, red Indians, and bishops, and had dined with counts, barons, and aldermen, and hong-mer- chants; had danced witb countesses and mar- chionesses, partaken of tokay with Esterhazy, and a glass of hock with Schwarzenburgh. He had seen everything, been everywhere, although he did not allude to his having worn a straight-waistcoat when he spent a twelvemonth in Bedlam.
By such preposterous, bumptious pretensions, suited to the character of Bombastes Furioso, this Mr. Joshua Hill so deluded the simple people of Pit- cairn that he set them together by the ears. Fac- tions were created among tho hitherto united people, and so far did he succeed in exalting his own cha- racter and debasing that of the plain and straight- forward Mr. Nobbs, that the latter was obliged to
withdraw himself to the Gambier Islands.
The way in which the madman was brought to his senses was curious. Among other specious pretences Hill had asserted that he was a near re- tive of the Duke of Bedford, aud that the duchess seldom rode out in her carriage without him. But while the Pitcairners innocently listened to his mag- nificent accounts of himself and his noble friends, H.M.S. Actaeon arrived at Bounty Bay, commanded by Lord Edward Russell, the son of the Duke of Bedford. Of course detection immediately followed, and the imposter was soon afterwards carried away in durance vile to Valparaiso. Thus relieved, the good sense of the people of Pitcairn returned, and was evinced in the recal, with every sign of contrition, of poor Mr. Nobbs, their friend and teacher.
After this, things went on quietly and smoothly, until in 1852 Rear-Admiral Moresby, then on the Pacific station, received a most pressing invitation, signed by thirteen on behalf of the entire female population of the island, to pay them a visit. Such an invitation no Rear-Admiral of England or of Tas- mania could possibly withstand. When at Pitcairn he learnt in course of conversation that there was a great desire felt for the ordination of their pastor, in order that he might be able to administer the sacra- ment of the Lord's Supper, and offered to send Mr. Nobbs home for that purpose at his own expense. This generous proposal was accepted, although they did not at all like the temporary loss of their beloved teacher. Suffice it to say that the voyage was per- formed safely. Mr. Nobbs was ordained, introduced to the Queen and Prince Albert, and finally made his way back to Pitcairn in May 1853, laden with good wishes and useful presents to his flock. The Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge had also appointed bim a missionary at a salary of £50 per annum. Great was the rejoicing among these affec- tionate people upon his return.
Since the visit of Captain Folger in 1808, between 300 and 400 vessels have touched at Pitcairn. Many of these were British ships of war, some merchant vessels, but the greater number whalers, who were cruising in the neighbourhood and wished supplies ot fruit or water. Every matter of importance re- specting the inhabitants of the lone isle has been ascertained, and in consequence of the great interest manifested on the subject, even the most trivial de- tails have been recorded. It will be well to select a
The land was originally divided among the nine mutineers of the Bounty, but subsequently was allotted in fair proportion to the several families. Thus, as there were lately some two or three and twenty families, there was just that number of plan- tations. These estates rarely exceoded half an acre in extent, the size of an ordinary garden, and required to be cultivated with great care and diligence to sup- ply the wants of the owners. Yet so well were they managed, that there was often grown a superfluity, which was bartered with the whalers for clothing and other essentials. On the produce of these gardens the people lived in the most simple, frugal style, though as they kept goats, pigs, and poultry, these also, together with fish, assisted occasionally, and as great luxuries, at the meal. The regulations for the good behaviour of these animals were most stringent. The creatures are all marked ; to begin with, the goats in the ear and the fowls in the toe. If one of these latter happened to stray into the vineyard of his neighbour, the owner of the plantation may, after giving due warning, shoot the bird and cook it for his own use. He may also demand compensation in the shape of the charge of ammunition so ex-
pended. If a pig gets loose from its sty and commits depredation, the chief magistrate is bound to survey the damage alleged to be done, and submit the case to a jury. But if their decision be not satisfactory, an appeal is made to the captain of the next man of war touching at the island, and this is final. The commanders of Her Majesty's ships have been chiefly occupied in deciding these grave matters when at
As rats and mice are abundant, the household cat is carefully protected. Puss sometimes, however, misbehaves, or is suspected of a misdemeanour, and gets punished. If a cat is, however, killed without being positively detected in flagrante delicto, however strong the suspicion may be, the person shooting such cat is obliged as a penalty to destroy 300 rats, whose tails must be submitted for the inspection of the magistrate, by way of proof that the penalty has been
The chief magistrate or mayor, who has to count the rat-tails, is a leading man of the small commu- nity, who is elected annually on the 1st of January. The privileges of the ladies are better attended to here than elsewhere - the rights of women are under- stood, for the election is made by a general vote of all those males and females who have attained the age of eighteen years. Two councillors are chosen at the same time, - one elected by the magistrate, the other by the people. If the person so chosen does not wish to serve, he must kill a hog for the public service.
The strength and activity of these islanders have been often noted as among their characteristics. They skip up and down the rocks and precipices like moun- tain goats ; and on one occasion, when some diffi- culty was experienced by a bulky sea-officer in ascending the precipitous cliff leading to the settle- ment, a fair girl of Pitcairn took him up in her arms and sprang up the declivity with surprising agility. They swim like fish. The water seems as much their element as the land. Accustomed from child- hood to battle with the waves, they often spend the whole day in the sea, and traverse great distances. You all remember the great feat of Lord Byron swimming across the Hellespont, and how much he boasted of it. It is estimated that, taking into due consideration the force of the current and the dia- gonal line he was obliged to traverse, the poet's navigation was about two miles in extent. Now these people, the Pitcairners, often swim entirely round their island, a distance of not less than six or seven miles, and have rough ocean waves to encoun- ter. In fishing for squid, both men and women are frequently washed off from tho rocks by the surf, and struggle successfully to gain the land when most Europeans would perish. In supplying ships with water they have been known in rough weather to launch the casks through or rather under the huge combers that roll upon the shore, and dashing after them convey them safely to the boats. How it is they escape the sharks that abound in this locality seems a marvel, yet there is no record of these monsters of the deep making a meal of one of them. Their loyalty and attachment to the British ensign - to
" The flag that's braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze,"
endears them to John Bull, as well as their pious faith, devout and exemplary conduct. It must have been a pleasant sight to have witnessed these poor people flocking to Church on the Sabbath morn, clad in their best apparel. All, old and young, the infirm and helpless, made clean and respectable, walking soberly and steadily to the common centre. All thoughts of worldly interest put aside, the entire day devoted to prayer and praise. Those who have been happily present on such occasions speak of the orderly, grave, and decorous behaviour of even the smallest children in the assembly. When the prayers and hymns had ceased, a sermon was preached, and in order to impress this more forcibly on the minds of the congregation, this was read no less than three times over. Yet this rather long service scarcely ceased half-an-hour, ere the people were again called together by the chiming bell. Thus throughout the day, so that the pious people attended their pastor five or six times every Sunday. During the week,
too, morning and evening prayers were regularly performed, portions of Scripture read, and every meal preceded by some act of devotion.
Grand again must have been the jubilee on each
1st of May, when these good people showed their loyalty and allegiance by celebrating the birthday of
Queen Victoria. This was the grand day of the year - the epoch of joy and festival. All the people assembled near the Church in holiday attire. Formerly, a gun belonging to the Bounty, after lying many fatboms deep for five and fifty years, was fished up from the bottom of the ocean ; old and honey-combed as it was, it was used to assist at the solemnity, until an accident having occurred through its agency, it was spiked, and thus rendered voiceless for ever. In its place the Church bell is set merrily ringing, the English union-jack is hoisted, the young people dance then, and then only, the feast is spread beneath the shadowy banyan, while old and young unite in sing- ing loyal songs in honour of the day.
To all people who have visited their shores have the good folks of Pitcairn shown the greatest hospi- tality, but more especially to the British, whom they regard as brothers. The visit of Mr. Brodie was one of the most interesting of those festive occasions. It occurred in 1850, when five persons belonging to a vessel bound from Now Zealand to California landed through curiosity upon the island, and were detained there three weeks through mischance. During this long detention, although thoy had no property about them but the clothes they wore, they were treated with every mark of friendship and sympathy. For- tunately they were able to repay the obligation a hundredfold. Observing that the efforts of psalmody in the Church were somewhat imperfect, the Baron de Thierry and Mr. Carlton undertook to teach them the rudiments of music. At this they were in exstacies of delight. The Baron produced a tuning fork from his pocket, and with this instrument to direct his labours, the progress surpassed his most sanguine expectations. Many had exceedingly fine voices, and none were deficient in ear. In a few days they were able not only to sing psalms and hymns with accuracy, but even to execute glees and catches with great pre- cision. Thus was a new era opened to the Pitcairners - a mine of innocent recreation and delight. Almost every adult male and female on the island joined in the music class, and the art thus acquired has been preserved up to the present day. No boon could have been more acceptable. Their delight and gratitude were unbounded. When the visitors left them after this pleasant sojourn, the part-
ing was both touching and pathetic. All flocked down to the beach. Warm, cordial greetings were exchanged with the men ; but with the women, the young aud lovely daughters of the ocean isle, such a mode of parting was far too cold and unimpassioned. Overcome by grateful feelings, they hung upon the shoulders of the departing, and breathed a tender adieu, amidst sobs and pearly showers.
The difficulty of landing on the island, and the want of harbour and anchorage, though at first sight a disadvantage, may have proved a blessing in pre- serving these simple-minded people from tho baneful effects too likely to arise from crews remaining, as a matter of course, among them. As it is, the behaviour of both officers and men who have visited the place is believed to have been most exemplary. The good habits, moral and religious conduct of the islanders have not failed to produce, by the power of example, a wholesome influence on the strangers. With what- ever motive he landed, he has returned an altered man. The most reckless sailor of the American whale-ships, bent on ridicule, has felt edified and im- proved by witnessing the Pitcairn Sabbath. The words of the pastor have sunk deep into his heart; for, as the sweet poet describes it,
At Church, with meek and unaffected grace, His looks adorned the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway, And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray.
Hitherto we have regarded the Pitcairners in poverty indeed, but still in contentment and peace; it will now be necessary to look at them in trouble and distress. The evils to which they have been subjected have arisen in the natural course of events, and might have been anticipated from the beginning. The rock in mid-ocean, of such very limited area, might suffice for the maintenance of a petty commu- nity; but when in course of time the population ln- creased,want and privatlon would be experienced. Such for a long time past has been the case. However attached they have been to the cradle of their exist-
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ence, however ardent the amor patrice, that love of one's own country, which, I will venture to say, is one of the greatest of the cardinal virtues, and felt deeply by the Tasmanians; the wiser among them, the Nestors of Pitcairn, have felt the absolute necessity of seeking a wider field for expansion - of migrating
elsewhere with the surplus population. Hence in 1831, dearth of water being apprehended, 87 of the islanders were removed by order of the British Government to Otaheite. As the women who accom-
panied the mutineers were natives of the Society Islands, and all were descended from them, nothing would appear more natural than this migration. Yet it did not turn out so well as might have been ex-
pected. They were received kindly by Queen Po nare. But their health suffered in the new climate, and the licentious habits of the place proved distasteful to a well-ordered Christian community.
All whom death had spared found their way back
in 1833, to their old hive. Efforts have been made since then to plant little colonies in the neighbouring islets. More than one expedition has been sent to Elizabeth Island, the nearest land, but the soil and productions were so unpromising, and water so scarce, that this hope was abandoned.
In their distresses the good people of Pitcairn have ever looked for a helping hand to England, and this reliance has not boen misplaced. Great and frequent assistance has been afforded ; and general orders have been issued to the commanders of Her Majesty's navy in thoso seas to render every service in their power. Yet hurricanes will come to turn up vine- yards and fruit trees - droughts will occur to ruin crops. Such visitations set relief at defiance. When seen upon the return of Mr. Nobbs from England, they were in a pitiable condition, through failure of their harvest. Worn to the bone by famine and its attendant plagues, the once gay and noble islanders seemed such veritable objects of misery, that the common sailors of the troop-ship clubbed together for their relief. In this way was a But the evil day could not be long deferred. When seen, some time afterwards, fresh troubles had come ation of ship's captains for the bare necessaries of life. improvidence of their own. The same industry, Pitcairn is, after all, a mere rock, aud may sustain but is totally inadequate to the maintenance of two hundred souls. Hence the necessity that has arisen for some vital change - for the migration, if not of the whole, at least the surplus population of the island. A new home is required - the hive will no vided for them, doubtless after anxious and careful deliberation, by the paternal British Government. This act is most creditable to the nation, as indicative of Pitcairn are not regarded as the mere descendants of outlaws and mutineers, and thus beyond the pale of which these have in a huudred-fold atoned are always However base aud degraded their origin, they would fruits meet for repentance.
now being transferred to Norfolk Island, a spot ad- mirably adapted to the purpose. To this new home that you may judge of its capabilities. But as at this late hour you are doubtloss thinking more of your own homes than those of other people, I will postpone its description until our next meeting.
THE HOLIDAYS. - It will be seen on reference to pleasure excursion on Thursday should be dis- appointed, Mr. Thompson has laid on his beautiful steamer Monarch for pleasure trips to New Norfolk on Thursday and Saturday ; and for a trip round Betsy's Island on Sunday.
AUDIT OFFICE, 17th May. The under-men- tioned persons are requested to make application as early as possible at the Colonial Treasury for pay-
ment of their accounts of contingent expenses, for which warrants have been transmitted since the 9th instant: - Z. W. Davis, C. A. Forster, advance; W. G. Harris, costs, &c. ; The Postmaster-General, gratuities to masters of vessels, &c.; J. Murdoch, forage ; W. Stokell, medical attendance ; J. Thomas, surveying, &c. ; H. J. D'Emden, advertising; Dolan and Drewitt, J. Goodson, junior, J. Lobley, G. Ban- assessment ; J. Buckhill, J. Farrell, stores ; J. W. Danby, Jones and Wise, transport ; J. E. Risby, a boat ; E. Edwards, repairing a boat ; R. Dodge, R. Whiteway, W. King, R. Marlow, R. M. Lewis, W. Morrison, W. Spearman, J. Bell, W. Butcher, J.
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ANNIVERSARY OF HER MAJESTY'S BIRTHDAY. - We have during the ensuing holidays, for it seems that we are to havo two days of it, to direct particu- lar attention to the danger which is incurred by the impromptu discharge of fireworks in the evening throughout our principal streets. The in- flammable materials of so many of the shoproofs, &c. are in momentary danger of igniting from the care- less manner in which the fireworks have been dis- charged, and respectable persons have boen severely injured by the mischievous pranks of those who take so profitless a mode of testifying their loyalty to the Queen by breaking the Queen's peace, as directed to be enforced by the laws regulating the police. The calamitous consequences of a fire in this city at the present moment would be doubly felt, not only because it would probably withdraw a large amount of capital from our insurance companies, but as there is a likelihood of gold being discovered in the territory, we want to keep many houses over our heads to accommodate the numerous seekers who will be attracted to our shores. Taking also into consideration, that from the consequent increased value of labour, serious loss would fall upon the insured, inasmuch as it would involve twice the cost of rebuilding after a burn-down, wo cannot too earnestly desire the police authorities to do all they can to discountenance the practice.
Coroner. - The Governor has been pleased to appoint Hubert Blyth, Esq, to be a Corouor for the
The Commission. - The name of William Storey, Esq., of Circular Head, has been inserted in the
Commission of the Peace.
Publicans' Licenses. - The following transfer has been allowed by the local bench : - From John Burke to Daniel O'Meara, the Berridale Inn, West- bury. Now licenses havo been granted to Richard Baldwin, Old Hamilton Inn, Hamilton, and Edwin
Allen, near Swansea.
Great Lake Road District. - At a meeting of the Trustees of this District, James Maclanachan, Esq., of Ballochmyle, and Nathaniel P. Allison, Esq., of Beverley, were duly elected Trustees under the 9th Section of the Road Act, in the room of Thomas Axford, Esq., and Frederick Patterson, Esq., resigned.
Fire Money for Public Schools. - It is noti- fied that the Board of Education have approved of
the Conductors of the sevcral Public Schools in this Colony receiving an allowance of £5 per annum for each fire they may maintain in their respective school rooms during the winter months, viz., from 1st April to 30th September. It will be the duty of the Conductors to keep up good and sufficient fires in their school rooms accordingly. A copy of the notice is required to be posted in every Public
School room for the information of the scholars and
SORELL ROAD TRUST. Mr. John Welsh, of Sorell, has been appointed a trustee for the above trust, in the room of Mr. Thomas Connell, who has left the
Crown Land Sales. - An extensive crown land sale is to be held on Thursday, the 19th June next,
at Hobart Town.
Court of Medical Examiners. - Mr. William Storey has been enrolled in the list of the legally qualified Medical Practitioners of Tasmania. Qualifi- cation - Diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons, England, dated 22nd December, 1837. Mr. R. C. Nicolson has obtained the License of the Court as a Dispenser of Medicines.
Brutal Assault.-A woman named Charlotte
Horden, living in High-street, was so brutally beaten last night that it was found necessary to send for Dr. Bright. The woman is so dangerously injured that D. C. Dorsett apprehended a wheelwright named Spargroves this morning, the person, it is said, who
committed this violent assault.
ROYAL VICTORIA THEATRE.
Mr. and ' Mrs. Charles Poole and Mr. Warner appearing in two legitimate pieces, " Tho Gamester," and the " Merchant of Venice." The performances mentioned lady, but we regret to say that tho weather was again, as by a fatality, so threateningly unpro- pitious as to prevent the garnering of a tolerable
and Mrs. Poole's personation of Mrs. Beverley was an interesting display of histrionic art. Mr. Warner played with his usual style aud vigour, and the whole passed off the satisfaction and delight of the audience, excepting for the injudicious and careless mismanagement of the prompter, who vilely murdered the denouement, by dropping the baize before the death of Mrs. Beverley over the body of the departed
In announcing the re-engagement for nine nights more of the present talented company, we believe the general public will share in the satisfaction we now express. The entertainments of this evening consist of the beautiful comedy of " The Love Chase," which Scottish drama, "Cramond Brig," or "The Gude Howieson the Farmer. We recommend those who to be present upon this the last time of their repre-
To-morrow evening we are glad to state is not apart,by desire and under distinguished patronage, for the special amusement of the youthful members of the community, who will have an opportunity of witnessing the new and favourite pantomime, which will afterwards be withdrawn. We may here state that the pantomime will be the first piece of the evening, and that the doors will open at six o'clock, precisely, so as to enable the youngsters to retire at a very early hour.
the rest of the performance will be confided to a juvenile company alone. Miss Matthews and the Masters Drury, whose combined efforts pleased the visitors so mightily upon a former occasion, will appear in selections from Macbeth, aud, in conclusion, play the extravaganza of Bombastes Furioso. Our young friends will, no doubt, feel an unconquerable desire to see the last popular burlesque represented by children of equal growth, and we have given them this timely notice, so that they will have an opportu- nity of making the necessary arrangements with their
indulgent parents, and as a mark of the appreciation in which the principal star of the evening is held, we call attention to the subjoined : -
TESTIMONIAL TO MISS JULIA MATTHEWS.
About sixty of the juvenile friends and patrons of Miss Julia Matthews. resident in Hobart Town, pre- sented her with an elegant Testimonial, in token of their respect and esteem for her conduct and the talents displayed by her during her engagement at the Royal Victoria Theatre, on Saturday evening last. The Testimonial consisted of an highly illustrated and illuminated and handsomely bound edition of " The Series of Dramatic Entertainments performed by Royal Command before Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness Prince Albert, The Royal Family and tho Court, at Windsor Castle, 1848-9," edited by Benjamin Webster, Lessee of the Theatres Royal, Haymarket und Adelphi, and pub- lished by Mr. Mitchell, of the Royal Library, Bond Street. The letter-press, executed in the highest style of ornamental printing, composes the " Mer- chant of Venice," "Used Up," "The Stranger," " The Housekeeper," " Hamlet," " Box and Cox," " Twice Killed," and '* Sweethearts and Wives," printed verbatim from the authorised versions, with fac-similes of the Bills of Performance, and corrected lists of the Royal Personages and the Nobility and Gentry present on each occasion.
We could scarcely conceive a more suitable present for a juvenile dramatist, and we trust that this token of the respect which she has gained in this commu- nity will encourage her to persevere in that course of conduct which will over be duly appreciated, not only in professional but social circles. We must also compliment our young Tasmanian ladies upon the correctness of taste which guided the selection of such
At the request of our little favourite, we have to insert the following Reply :
" MY DEAR LITTLE FRIENDS, - I beg to return you my sincere thanks for the kind present which you sent me on Saturday evening, and I trust that both my private and professional conduct will continue to merit your approval, and thereby prove to you how desirous I am to show myself worthy of the kindness you have bestowed on me.
" I am,
" Your much obliged and grateful,
" Julia Matthews."