A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 12 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 760 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 12.

On the 14th, which was Sunday, I directed that divine service should be performed at the fort:  We were desirous that some of the principal Indians should he present, but when the hour came, most of them were returned home.  Mr Banks, however, crossed the river, and brought back Tubourai Tamaide and his wife Tomio, hoping that it would give occasion to some enquiries on their part, and some instruction on ours:  Having seated them, he placed himself between them, and during the whole service, they very attentively observed his behaviour, and very exactly imitated it; standing, sitting, or kneeling, as they saw him do:  They were conscious that we were employed about somewhat serious and important, as appeared by their calling to the Indians without the fort to be silent; yet when the service was over, neither of them asked any questions, nor would they attend to any attempt that was made to explain what had been done.

In the evening of this day, an exhibition of the grossest lewdness was made by a young couple, in presence of Oberea and several women of superior rank, who indeed seemed to assist in it, by their advice to the female, a girl about eleven or twelve years of age.  This was quite in conformity to the custom of the place, and did not appear to excite the least feeling of shame in either performers or spectators.[91]

[Footnote 91:  The relation of this incident is purposely varied from the copy.  It is but justice to the Otabeitans to apprize the reader, that in the account of the missionary voyage, published in 1799, and hereafter to be noticed, this conduct as to immodesty is in no small degree explained, and they are acknowledged even to excel in some parts, of delicacy of sentiment and behaviour.  The testimony of that account, it may be remarked, is deserving the more credit, because the mission itself was avowedly founded on the conviction of the total depravity of these islanders, and was purposed as an attempt at reformation on religious principles.  Still, however, it is most certain that the Otabeitans were much addicted to sensual indulgences, and that Oberea, as we have already seen, was noted for libidinous propensities.  How far their peculiar circumstances may either account for or palliate their apparent immorality in this respect, is quite another question; one too, it is probable, which the prejudiced and erring mind of man is, of itself, incompetent to solve.  One thing, however, is most certain:  The Judge of all the earth will do what is right with his creatures, whether he take vengeance for transgression, or pardon in mercy, or reward in approbation.—­E.]

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