Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Polynesian Researches

Government and General Orders, dated December 1, 1813

Government and General Orders, dated December 1, 1813

“No ship or vessel shall clear out from any of the ports within this territory, (New South Wales,) for New page 43 Zealand, or any other island in the South Pacific, unless the Master, if of British or Indian, or the Master and Owners, if of Plantation registry, shall enter into bonds with the Naval Officer, under £1000 penalty, that themselves and crew shall properly demean themselves towards the natives; and not commit acts of trespass on their gardens, lands, habitations, burial grounds, tombs, or properties, and not make war, or at all interfere in their quarrels, or excite any animosities among them, but leave them to the free enjoyment of their rites and ceremonies; and not take from the islands any male native, without his own and his chief's and parents' consent; and shall not take from thence any female native, without the like consent—or, in case of shipping any male natives, as mariners, divers, &c. then, at their own request at any time, to discharge them, first paying them all wages, &c. And, the natives of all the said islands being under His Majesty's protection, all acts of rapine, plunder, piracy, murders, or other outrages against their persons or property, will, upon conviction, be severely punished.”

In reference to another Order resembling this, and issued November 19, 1814, it is declared, that—

“Any neglect or disobedience of these Orders, will subject the offenders to be proceeded against with the utmost rigour of the law, on their return thither, (viz. New South Wales;) and, those who shall return to England, without first resorting to this place, will be reported to His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, and such documents transmitted, as will warrant their being equally proceeded against and punished.”

Although the justice and humanity of the governor of New South Wales were so distinctly manifested in the foregoing Orders, these regulations were found insufficient to prevent outrage upon the natives, from the masters and crews of vessels visiting the islands: an act was therefore passed in the British parliament, in the month of June, 1817, entitled, “An Act of the 57th of the King, page 44 for the more effectual punishment of Murders and Manslaughters committed in places not within His Majesty's dominions.” As it is a document important to the peace and security of the inhabitants of Polynesia, I deem no apology necessary, for inserting it nearly entire. In the preamble of the bill, it is stated—

“That grievous murders and manslaughters had been committed in the South Pacific Ocean, as well on the high seas, as on land, in the islands of New Zealand and Otaheite, and in other islands, countries, and places, not within His Majesty's dominions, by the masters and crews of British ships, and other persons, who have, for the most part, deserted from, or left their ships, and have continued to live and reside amongst the inhabitants of these islands; whereby great violence has been done, and a general scandal and prejudice raised against the name and character of British and other European traders: And whereas such crimes and offences do escape unpunished, by reason of the difficulty of bringing to trial the persons guilty thereof: For remedy whereof, be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from and after the passing of this Act, all murders and manslaughters committed, or that shall be committed, in the said islands of New Zealand and Otaheite, or within any other islands, countries, or places, not within His Majesty's dominions, nor subject to any European state or power, nor within the territory of the United States of America, by the master or crew of any British ship, or vesse., or any of them, or by any person sailing in, or belonging thereto; or that shall have sailed in, or belonged to, and have quitted any British ship, or vessel, to live in any of the said islands, countries, or places, or either of them, or that shall be there living; shall and may be tried, and adjudged, and punished, in any of His Majesty's islands, plantations, colonies, dominions, forts, or factories, under or by virtue of the King's commission, or commissions, which shall have been, or may hereafter be issued, under, and by virtue, and in pursuance of, an Act passed in the page 45 forty-sixth year of His present Majesty, entitled, ‘An Act for the more speedy trial of offences committed in distant countries, or upon the sea.’”

By the Porpoise, the Missionaries received the agreeable intelligence that a ship, with a reinforcement of their number, and necessary supplies from England, was on her way to the islands. In the afternoon of the 10th of July, 1801, the Royal Admiral, commanded by Captain W. Wilson, anchored in the bay, having a number of Missionaries on board, together with supplies and letters from their friends and the directors, from whom they had heard only once, during the four years they had dwelt on the island. Mr. Shelly, one of the Missionaries who had been stationed in the Friendly Islands, but had escaped to New South Wales, returned to Tahiti in this ship, and was cordially welcomed by his friends, along with those who had arrived from England.

On the 13th of July, 1801, Captain Wilson, and the eight Missionaries from England, landed near Point Venus, and were introduced to Otu, Pomare, and other principal chiefs, by whom they were welcomed to Tahiti. Pomare said he was pleased with their arrival, and expressed his willingness that others should join them. The gratification he expressed on their landing, however, did not arise from any desire after religious instruction, for in this interview he spoke of their engaging in war with him, and probably rejoiced in their arrival only as a means of increasing the extent of his influence, and the stability of his government. After remaining about three weeks at Tahiti, and assisting the society in their regulations by his counsel, and in the preparation of their houses by the carpenters of the ship, page 46 Captain Wilson sailed from Matavai on the 31st of July. With him, Mr. Broomhall left Tahiti for China or India. He had been above five years on the island, having arrived in the Duff in 1797. He was an intelligent, active young man, 24 years of age, had been highly serviceable to the Mission, and was respected by the natives, until about tweleve months prior to the arrival of the Royal Admiral, when he intimated his doubts as to the reality of Divine influence on the mind, and the immortality of the soul. His companions endeavoured to remove his scepticism; but failing in their efforts, he was separated from their communion, having on several occasions publicly declared his sentiments to be deistical. He then lived some time with a native female, as his wife, but was soon left by her; and, on the arrival of Captain Wilson, requested permission to leave the island in his ship. His departure from the island under such circumstances, although desirable on account of the influence of his principles and conduct on the minds of the inhabitants, could not but be peculiarly distressing to those he left behind. They followed him with their compassionate regard and their prayers, and, after a number of years, learned that he had been engaged in a vessel trading in the Indian seas; that he had at length made himself known to the Baptist Missionaries at Serampore, from whom they heard that he had renounced his erroneous sentiments, and professed his belief in the truth of the Christian revelation.

The circumstances which follow relative to the penitence of this unhappy man, are taken from the ‘Circular Letters’ published by the Baptist Missionary Society. In one of these, dated Calcutta, May 8, 1809, the writer says—

page 47

“We have lately seen the gracious hand of God stretched out in a most remarkable manner, in the recovery of a backsliding Missionary, after nine years of wandering from God. This person had been chosen with others for an arduous undertaking; had been set apart to the great work, and had engaged in it to a considerable extent; having acquired a tolerable knowledge of the language in which he was to preach to the heathen. At this period, he fell into open iniquity; and embraced a gloomy state of infidelity, the frequent consequence of backsliding from God.”

Having left the Mission and gone to sea, several alarming incidents, particularly the breaking of a limb at Madras, and a severe illness in Calcutta, tended to arouse him to a sense of his danger. But, although he held a correspondence with several serious persons, he studiously concealed his previous character and his name. At length, after writing a long letter, in which he described the anguish of his mind with dreadful minuteness, he obtained a private interview with Dr. Marshman and Mr. Ward, of which the following is the result.

“At the time appointed, he called on brother Marshman, at brother Carey's house, and, after a little conversation on the state of his soul, he added, ‘You now behold an apostate Missionary. I am ——, who left his brethren nine years ago. Is it possible you can behold me without despising me?’—The effect which this discovery of Divine mercy, displayed to a backslider, had on brother Marshman's mind, can better be conceived than described. It for the moment took away the anguish occasioned by a note that instant received from Serampore, saying, that brother Carey was at the point of death! Brother Marshman entreated this returning prodigal to be assured of the utmost love on our part; encouraged him in his determination to return to his Missionary brethren; and promised to intercede on his behalf, both with his brethren, and those who sent him out.”

page 48

Soon after the above interview, Mr. Broomhall embarked on another voyage to some port in India, purposing, on his return, to dispose of his vessel, and devote the remainder of his days to the advancement of that cause which he had abandoned, but from that voyage he never returned: neither Mr. Broomhall nor his vessel was ever afterwards heard of,—it is supposed that the vessel foundered, and all on board perished.