A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 768 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 16.

We landed where the natives directed us, and soon after I was introduced to Opoony, in the midst of a great concourse of people.  Having no time to lose, as soon as the necessary formality of compliments was over, I asked the chief to give me the anchor, and produced the present I had prepared for him, consisting of a linen night-gown, a shirt, some gauze handkerchiefs, a looking-glass, some beads and other toys, and six axes.  At the sight of these last there was a general outcry.  I could only guess the cause, by Opoony’s absolutely refusing to receive my present till I should get the anchor.  He ordered three men to go and deliver it to me; and, as I understood, I was to send by them what I thought proper in return.  With these messengers we set out in our boat for an island, lying at the north side of the entrance into the harbour, where the anchor had been deposited.  I found it to be neither so large nor so perfect as I expected.  It had originally weighed seven hundred pounds, according to the mark that was upon it; but the ring, with part of the shank and two palms, were now wanting.  I was no longer at a loss to guess the reason of Opoony’s refusing my present.  He doubtless thought that it so much exceeded the value of the anchor in its present state, that I should be displeased when I saw it.  Be this as it may, I took the anchor as I found it, and sent him every article of the present that I at first intended.  Having thus completed my negociation, I returned on board, and having hoisted in the boats, made sail from the island to the north.[1]

[Footnote 1:  Here again is a trait of genuine nobility, sufficient, we have no doubt, to reinstate our commander in the good graces of every reader.  On the other hand, there is something so truly honest on the part of Opoony and his people in declining the acceptance of the present, till Cook had seen the article he was bargaining for, that we cannot help giving them high credit for moral attainments.  How forcibly does such a conduct prove the existence of a sense of the law, which says, “Do to others, as you would that others should do to you.”  It is curious, that some authors have maintained, that no such law is recognised among mankind till they are made acquainted with divine revelation.  But these persons have confounded together two things, which are quite distinct,—­a sense of the obligation of such a law, and a disposition and power to obey it.  The former may exist, and indeed more generally does exist, without the latter.  But we see, by the present example, that both may operate, where, according to this opinion, no such thing as either could be found.  Here, however, we would not take it upon us to affirm any thing in respect of the motives which influenced the obedience.  In so far as our fellow-creatures alone are concerned, it is barely and simply our actions which ought to be considered.  It is the prerogative of a higher tribunal to judge of the heart and the principles it contains.—­E.]

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