Page images
PDF
EPUB

two square miles looked like a couple of islands. A drawbridge was soon thrown across the narrow channel between them, and Nature had provided for their connection with the mainland by a narrow isthmus, a mile in length. The uneven surface was divided amongst three hills, since called Beacon Hill, Fort Hill, and Copps Hill, with the intervening valleys.

Before Englishmen reached this part of the world, the country was in the possession of water-fowls, scudding the surface of its flats and streams, and of bearers and otters building on the muddy banks. The wood-pigeon, the wild turkey, the quail and the robin made their nests in thickets and forests covering the higher lands, whilst bears and wolves in one direction and fallow deer in another, roved at liberty amongst firs and spruce, or amidst small oaks and brush wood. Red Indians had stations here and there, and came down to the water-side to paddle in canoes, and to catch the swarming

fish.

a

[ocr errors]

How Boston began and grew, and rose to what it is, I will proceed to relate. In the year 1629, there were living in England a number of persons of strong religious principles, very much dissatisfied with the state of things in the Established Church, longing for Puritan reform of existing evils, and, if reform were impossible, dreaming of a life in some distant land where they could serve God according to their convictions.

Of this number were, John Winthrop, then forty-two years of age, of a good Suffolk family possessing an estate of £600 or £700 a year, and accustomed to the best society ; John Humphrey, a gentleman “of special parts of learning, and activity and a godly man,” son-in-law to the Earl of Lincoln ; Isaac Johnson, married to the Lady Arbella, daughter of the same nobleman ; Sir Richard Saltonstall, of Halifax, a person of considerable wealth ; Thomas Dudley, who had served under Henry IV., of France, in the Religious War ; Theophilus Eaton, who had been English Minister in the Court of Denmark; Simon Bradstreet, a student of Emanuel, Cambridge, son of a nonconforming clergyman and grandson of " a Suffolk gentleman of fine estate," and William Vassal, a rich West Indian proprietor. A tract of land on the New England coast, by Massachusetts Bay, had previously been sold by the New Plymouth Company to six persons, including John Endicott, who figures conspicuously in New England History, and these persons, with twenty new associates, managed to procure a Royal Charter, constituting them the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. In a little time the gentlemen of quality, just enumerated, joined in the undertaking, and it was determined, not without legal advice, by the general consent of the Company, that the government and patent should be settled in New England-in other words, that the entire management of the enterprise should be in the hands of the emigrants themselves. This Royal Charter, which proved afterwards a subject of troublesome controversy, invested the associates with the ownership of the land bought by the original six patentees, empowered the associates, and their successors to elect a governor, deputy-governor, and eighteen assistants -authorised the admission of ew partners, the trans of settlers, the repulsion of foes, the appointment of inferior officers, and the making of laws and ordinances not repugnant to the laws of England. Nothing was said about

[ocr errors]

a

religion, and the clause respecting legal enactments was of such a vague character as to be capable of different constructions, according to the views of those who appealed to the terms of the document. In the eyes of Puritans it would mean one thing, in the eyes of Churchmen another.

With this fondly-prized charter in their hands, the party embarked in a vessel called the Arbella—the name of Johnson's wife. Winthrop had been elected Governor, and on his voyage kept a journal, and he further composed a treatise entitled “A Model of Christian Charity,” in which may be seen prospects looming beyond what the cautious language of the Charter could be construed to denote. “It is by mutual consent,' said he, “through a special overruling Providence, and more than an ordinary approbation of the Churches of Christ, to seek out a place of cohabitation and consortship under a due form of government, both civil and ecclesiastical.” These were significant words ; they bore an expansive meaning, and they foreshadowed the unfolding of important practical ideas in the brain of John Winthrop. Winthrop and his companions reached New England in 1630. First the emigrants went to Salem, where Endicott and the pilot party had settled down. There disease wrestled with them as with the Plymouth Forefathers. Poor Lady Arbella Johnson, “coming from a paradise of plenty and pleasure which she enjoyed in the family of a noble earldom," could not endure the privations of this wilderness of wants” and died a month after her arrival. In a few weeks more her husband followed her to the grave. Other vessels came in the wake of the Arbella, bringing a large number of settlers ; and, at length, after visiting the side of the river where they began the building of Charlestown, they crossed over to the opposite peninsula of Shawmut—the name of an Indian village on the spot-and there determined to begin a town, which rose and rose until Boston attained its present noble dimensions. Sickness followed the emigrants from Salem to Charlestown; food was wanting ; and, which added greatly to their distress, they had no fresh water. The springs at Shawmut proved a great attraction.

What English foot first touched the soil of Shawmut is a doubtful point. Miles Standish reached Boston Bay somewhere in 1621, and Mr. Blackstone, an Episcopalian clergyman, had landed at the time when Winthrop arrived; and as to priority amongst the new party in stepping ashore it is remarkable to find that, as at Plymouth so here, a lady felt ambitious to take the lead. One who lived to be a hundred years old used to relate, that a number of young people in the ship’s boats crossed over to Boston and “that, as the boat drew nigh to the shore, she being then a romping girl, declared she would be the first to land, and accordingly, before anyone, jumped from the bow of the boat on to the beach." The resemblance of this story to that told respecting the Pilgrims at New Plymouth, might, according to the principles of the higher criticism, provoke doubts in sceptical minds as to the truth of either, but I see no difficulty in believing both.

The three hills of Shawmut gave it the name of Trimountain, and on the 7th September, 1630 (O.S.), it was ordered by a Court held at Charlestown, that the name of Trimountain should henceforth be Boston. Forthwith the colonists set to work to build up the place, which speedily grew and flourished.

Before the end of the year 1630, as many as eight plantations in the neighbourhood had been settled, namely: Salem, Dorchester, Watertown, Roxbury, Mystic, and Saugus (or Lynn), Charlestown and Boston—the last the centre of the rest in point of importance and influence, a position it has continued to hold, being the hub of them all, to use a common American word, meaning the centre of a many-spoked wheel. Immediately on its foundation, it was "thought by general consent ” to be the fittest spot for public meetings of any in the Bay. It was also ordered that there a market should be kept every Thursday; and the Magistrates directed a House of Correction to be built, with a dwelling for a beadle.

JOHN STOUGHTON.

The Hawaiian Kiugs and Kingdom. The present king is forty-four years old, wealthy, unmarried, intelligent, understanding himself and his people thoroughly. He is the fifth in the line of the Kamehameha dynasty, a grandson of the great Kamehameha, who was chief of Hawaii when Cook and Vancouver visited these islands in the last century-celebrated as a statesman and a warrior, and for those daring physical feats which his people associated with great mental gifts. At the national festivals he exhibited his dexterity in catching spears hurled at him earnestly by his warriors ; and it is said that when, in his old age, he was advised to abandon this dangerous practice he declared that he was as able to catch a spear as any man was to throw it.

This remarkable chief conquered all the islands of the group, ruled over them, and became the founder of the present royal dynasty. He met in a friendly manner the advances of Europeans, and encouraged the introduction of Christianity by them, although he never embraced it. His son, known as Kamehameha II., succeeded him, and abolished idolatry throughout the islands before the American missionaries arrived in 1820. This great event was not owing to any Christian principles of his, but to his love of dissipation ; since freedom from the power of the priests gave him opportunity to gratify his appetites, and enjoy his fish and poi with his wives without the restraint of superstitious customs. His ruling authority was contested by the claims which some of his father's relations possessed under the feudal laws of the islands. The most troublesome of these was the Dowager Queen, a woman of resolute character, who at first treated the missionaries with disdain ; but, embracing Christianity, became their ardent supporter. They called her “the good Kaahumanu,” and recognised her as the lawful guardian of the kingdom, while others considered her as an usurping old woman. At any rate she was the steadfast friend of the missionaries, and helped them to their great success.

The king seems to have tired of his associations, and, to escape from an uncomfortable position, sailed with his queen, in 1825, for London, where, on a visit to King George the Fourth, they both died of the measles. It was during the reign of his brother and successor, Kamehameha III., that the Hawaiian Islands were acknowledged, in 1843, as an independent

P, w.

[ocr errors]

government by Great Britain, the United States, and France. With the latter power he had embarrassing difficulties, owing to his attempt, under advice, to prevent the establishment of the Papal Church on the islands. Kaahumanu had previously persecuted the Romanists, who had landed here, confining in irons some who refused to renounce their faith. It is perhaps because of this uncharitable policy, for a long time forcibly pursued, that the Roman Catholic religion is now advancing.

During this reign the Bible was translated into the Hawaiian language by various members of the American mission, who also reduced the oral language to a written alphabet of twelve letters-a, e, i, o, u, h, k, l, m, n,

On a certain public occasion the king declared that “the life of the land is established in well-doing”-Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono-and these words were adopted as the Hawaiian national motto, a worthy sentiment for any Christian people. His death, in 1854, was a sincere grief to both foreigners and natives.

Kamehameha IV. was his son, born in 1834, the husband of Queen Emma, still living, and pleasantly remembered in England. He was a man of refinement and talent, reputed an eloquent orator and a sensible statesman. The early death of his only son and heir wrought such a change upon him that he died in 1863, when his brother, the present king, Kamehameha V., succeeded to the throne. With his accession the existing Constitution of Hawaii (of which he is the reputed author) was promulgated. It is the fundamental law of the land, and recognises life, liberty, property, and happiness as the inalienable rights of man. It acknowledges freedom of worship according to the dictates of conscience, responsible liberty of speech, right of assembly and petition for the redress of grievances, privilege of habeas corpus, trial by jury, freedom of persons from unreasonable searches and seizures. And it declares that “the king conducts his government for the common good, and not for the profit, honour, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men among his subjects ”-a declaration that might find a fitting place in the best and freest constitutions.

The Legislature meets biennially, and consists of a House of Nobles not exceeding twenty in number, appointed by the king for life, subject to good behaviour; and of a House of Representatives, elected by the people every two years, the number being apportioned according to the population, ascertained by census, but not less than twenty-four, nor more than forty members. The qualifications of a representative are sanity, mature age, a knowledge of reading, writing, and accounts, a three years' residence in the kingdom, an unencumbered property in real estate clearly worth at least £100, or an annual income of not less than £50, derived from property or lawful employment.

The Government is a constitutional monarchy, under which life and property are as safe, and law and order as much respected, as in any part of the continental world. To my mind the development of this kingdom is one of the greatest marvels of civilisation. But this development has not been produced, as many might suppose, by missionary labour entirely. The one hundred and fifty men and women, and the £200,000 which the Christian Churches of the United States have invested in these islands, have done their

a

special work of evangelisation, have contributed much to the growth of this Christian commonwealth ; but they have not been the only agents producing this result.

Merchants, statesmen, philanthropists, men accomplished in mercantile, civil, and political life, have been the benefactors of this nation as well as the self-denying missionaries. And in reviewing its history he is shortsighted who does not see that, but for the power of princely merchants, whose industry, honour, and capital gave life to the commerce of these islands; and of wise statesmen, whose wisdom and skill have moulded and controlled the conflicting interests of natives and foreigners, so that all dwell together in harmony and partnership--this kingdom might be to-day a mere missionary station, like Fiji, now under the power and protection of England. Father Damon says, and his thirty years of life here give weight to his opinion, “ The keystone of the arch has been in maintaining intact the native sovereignty, and at the same time admitting the foreign element to exercise a leading and controlling influence" in public rs, as it does to-day.

What is to be the fate of the native islanders over whom this surf of civilisation is rolling? Are they to be swept away? Is the race to become extinct like the American Indians, and give place to another race ? They have been dying fast since first they saw the white man. In 1823 the population of all the islands was estimated by the missionaries at 142,000. In 1832 a census was taken, and the number found to be 130,300. In 1836 a census gave 108,500. In 1850 a census gave only 82,400. In 1853 the number had fallen to 73,100; in 1860 to 69, 700. In 1866 there were but 63,000. I state the round numbers only.

This is an alarming decrease-9 decrease of more than one-half of the population in forty years! It would seem that the race is actually verging towards annihilation ; for this wasting away has continued for years—and not only with these people, but with similar races in all parts of Polynesia. The process of decay goes slowly on here in spite of improved social habits, better food, clothing, and shelter; and in spite of the notoriously cheerful, healthy, and vigorous appearance of the islanders. In fact it has been going on where no active disease or epidemic was manifest. At the present time the deaths in these islands are not so disproportionate to the population as the deficiency of births. The majority of marriages are not prolific, even when the married are in comfortable circumstances and of moral and industrious habits; and when there are births they are often felt to be a calamity. Villages containing many families have not a child born to them. Settlements are vanishing, cottages are vacated and destroyed, and you may ride for miles in the country without secing a new village, or hearing the voices of children, or meeting a human being. To whatever cause this mysterious decay of the Hawaiian race may be attributed, I consider it as the inevitable necessity of the transition from barbarism to civilisation. And there are those who believe that the entire Polynesian race is destined soon to disappear and give place to the Anglo-Saxons and Chinese—the two people representing the civilisations of the East and of the West,, who parted on the plains of Asia four thousand years ago, and

« PreviousContinue »