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recommend it. Let us see what he makes of this little fairyland of the Yellow Sea.
The great puzzle in the character of these people, is conceived to be the readiness with which they supply to ships whatever may be required, without asking or receiving any equivalent in return. The riddle, however, is not of very difficult solution. For, in the first place, from the facts stated by Captain Beechey, it is manifest that their liberality is more apparent than real. He found them ready enough not only to receive presents, but to beg for them, when they could do so without being observed, and he further discovered that they could steal, when occasion offered, with very tolerable dexterity. A registering thermometer having been abstracted from the deck, Captain Beechey mentioned the circumstance to Captain Hall's friend the linguist. The latter affected much distress on hearing of the theft, and said he would make every enquiry about the missing article on shore; adding, however, with great naïveté, Plenty Loo Choo man 'teef, plenty mans teef, and advising the captain to look well after his handkerchiefs, watches, and particularly any of the instruments that might be taken on shore. Every circumstance, indeed, leads to the conclusion, that the ostensible liberality of these people is the result of policy, rather than native generosity of disposition. Cunning and craftiness are the arms which the weak employ against the strong. Conscious alike of their exposed position, and of their inability, in the event of actual aggression, to repel force by force, the Loochooans naturally avail themselves of the only effectual means of defence they possess, and seek to coax and bribe off visitors with whom it might be dangerous to quarrel, and fatal to come to blows. They are by no means of a bold and warlike disposition, but rather the reverse; and their intercourse with Europeans must have convinced them that policy afforded the surest, as well as the most congenial means of protection. Accordingly, they are consummate adepts in all the arts of dissimulation; smooth, hypocritical, false, and at the same time jealous and watchful in a high degree; always attempting to accomplish their object, and commonly succeeding, by means of cunning, cozenage, and deceit, lackered over with an outer coating of fair-seeming, urbanity, and plausibility, which seldom fail to impose on those with whom they have to deal. Thus, in their very weakness they have found, if we may so express it, an element of strength. But to represent such a people as paragons of every human virtue, and as strangers to all the evils, and vices, and crimes, which afflict society in other parts of the earth, is to take them rather too literally at their word, and to exhibit the external varnish,
without giving us a glimpse of the coarse or corrupt material within, which it serves to smooth and gloss over to the eye of a distant observer. Captain Beechey has rendered an essential service to the cause of truth, by details exposing several of the more prominent mistakes which have been committed in regard to the Loochooans.
First, it was said that this people were possessed of no arms, either offensive or defensive; an assertion which excited considerable surprise at the time when it was originally made, and which Napoleon, on its being repeated to him, instantly declared his unqualified disbelief of. Captain Beechey, however, saw no arms in the possession of the natives. But the mandarins and others stated that there were both cannon and muskets in the island; An-yah affirmed that twenty-six cannon were distributed among the junks belonging to Loochoo; the fishermen, and indeed all classes at Napa, showed themselves familiar with the use of cannon, when they came on board the Blossom, and particularly noticed the improvement of the flintlock upon the matchlock on the panels of the joshouse, or temple, are painted figures seated upon broadswords, and bows and arrows; and, what is still more conclusive than all, the harbour of Napa is defended by three square stone forts, one on each side of the entrance, and the other on a small island, so situated as to rake a vessel entering the port, and these forts, besides being loopholed, are provided with platforms and parapets. Further, Captain Beechey presented a mandarin with a pair of pistols, which he thankfully accepted; and the arms were taken charge of by his attendants, without exciting any unusual degree of curiosity. Upon questioning Captain Hall's friend the linguist as to where the Loochooans procured gunpowder, Captain Beechey immediately received for answer, From Fochien.' Besides, both China and Japan have repeatedly fitted out expeditions against Loochoo, and civil wars have occasionally prevailed in the island; occurrences, we presume, which will scarcely be considered compatible with an ignorance of war and of the use of arms.
Secondly, we were also told that the Loochooans had no money, and were wholly unacquainted with the use of it. This, as the newspapers say, would have been important, if true. But, unfortunately for the accuracy of those who promulgated this statement, Captain Beechey not only saw money in circulation on the island, but has some of it now in his possession! The coin is similar to the cash of China. From the authorities which our author has quoted, it also appears that money has long been known to, if not in use among, the Loochooans; probably since the middle of the fifteenth century.
Thirdly, so effectually had these smooth hypocrites imposed on the good-nature of Captain Hall, that we were led, on his authority, to believe that the heaviest penalty attached to the commission of a crime in Loochoo was a gentle tap with a fan. We were also informed that the conduct of the superior orders in Loochoo towards their inferiors, was characterised by a mildness and forbearance worthy of the primitive ages. Captain Beechey's surprise may therefore be conceived, when the first mandarin who came on board the Blossom proceeded, on some slight provocation, to bamboo the canaille that had accompanied him, with an energy and vigour which astonished both the commander and the crew, and proved that the buttoned functionary was no mean proficient in the use of the Chinese instrument of government. The cowardly, however, are always cruel. Upon further enquiry, it turned out that the punishments inflicted in Loochoo are nearly the same as those practised in China, which has always been famous for the sanguinary character of its penal code. For great crimes, the punishment awarded is death, by strangulation on a cross, and sometimes under protracted torments; while, for less aggravated offences, the body is loaded with iron chains, or the neck is locked into a heavy wooden frame, or the person is enclosed in a case, leaving out the head of the culprit, which is shaven, and exposed to the scorching rays of the sun,-or, finally, the hands and feet are bound, and quicklime thrown into the eyes. It appears, also, that confession is sometimes extorted by dividing the joints of the fingers alternately, and clipping the muscles of the legs and arms with scissors; and several individuals at Potsoong assured Captain Beechey that they had seen an unfortunate wretch expire under this horrid species of torture. One is almost tempted to believe that the devil or an inquisitor had invented these atrocities; there being scarcely any other supposition on which we can account for a refinement in cruelty such as that which is at length found to prevail among the people of Loochoo, and which, unquestionably, would reflect no discredit either on the place of punishment below, or on the best imitation of it that has ever been got up above. Such are the gentle doves who cooed so softly in the ear of Captain Hall, persuading him that the golden age was, after all, no poetical chimera, and filling his imagination with some of the most absurd fantasies ever palmed on good-natured credulity.
Captain Beechey quitted the Elysium of the Yellow Sea on the 25th May, and making the best of his way to the northward, arrived in Awatska Bay, in Kamtschatka, on the 2d of July, whence, on the 18th, he sailed for Behring's Strait, and reached
the old rendezvous on the 16th of August. We shall now endeavour, as briefly as possible, to state the general results of Captain Beechey's proceedings in the Strait during both seasons.
He explored and carefully examined the whole of Kotzebue Sound, rectifying several mistakes which had been committed by the navigator whose name it bears, and discovering Hotham Inlet and the Buckland River. He also examined, though we scarcely think with much address, the remarkable cliffs at Elephant Point, in Eschscholtz Bay, which Kotzebue had supposed to be a stranded iceberg, from having found them covered with a thick coating of ice, but which were, in reality, composed of mud and gravel in a frozen state, the glacial facing having partly melted away; while, amidst the debris and sand at or near the base of these remarkable cliffs, were disinterred several tusks, bones, and grinders of elephants and other animals, in a fossil state. He then surveyed the line of coast to the northward, and, in autumn 1826, succeeded, by means of the barge, in adding about 70 miles of coast to the geography of the Arctic regions. Captain Beechey proceeded in the Blossom as far as Icy Cape, where he found the sea quite open, and felt the greatest desire to advance; but having received positive orders to avoid the hazard of being beset in the ship, and being provided with a decked launch, well adapted by her size to prosecute an inshore survey, he lost no time in dispatching her on this service, which proved one of considerable danger, the return of the boat being nearly cut off by the sudden accumulation of the ice. Proceeding to the north-eastward, however, she succeeded in exploring the line of coast as far as Barrow Point, 126 miles beyond Icy Cape, or 70 miles farther than any preceding navigator had advanced, and 146 miles from the extreme point reached by Captain Franklin in his progress westward, from Mackenzie River. By this approximation, therefore, little room is left for further speculation as to the northern limits of the American continent. From Icy Cape to Barrow Point, which is situated in about 71 deg. of latitude, the coast trends constantly to the eastward, and probably, at no point, extends much farther north than that reached by the Blossom's barge; wherefore, combining this circumstance with the general direction of the coast from the Mackenzie River to Captain Franklin's Extreme, as it is called, the general outline of the part yet unexplored may be conjectured with tolerable certainty. The extreme points of discovery, however, do not approximate so closely on the eastern as on the western side of America; since, from the spot in Prince Regent's Inlet where the Fury was wrecked in 1825, to Point Turnagain, is a distance of 385 miles, being nearly
thrice as great as that intercepted, on the western side, between Point Beechey and Barrow Point.
But we hope, though we can scarcely say we expect, that our enterprising countryman, Captain Ross, will be able to complete the solution of this great geographical problem, by means of his steam-vessel, which is certainly better adapted to the navigation of the Arctic Seas, during the brief period they are partially open, than sailing vessels can possibly be. His intention is understood to have been, to proceed down Prince Regent's Inlet, and then to try to make his way along the northern coast of America to Behring's Strait, to pass through, land in Kamtschatka, and, there leaving the vessel to be conducted home by his nephew, who accompanies him, to travel across Siberia to Petersburgh.
In 1827, Captain Beechey found it impracticable to advance as far to the northward as in 1826, owing to the earlier accumulation of the ice, and its progress to the southward. Nothing, in fact, can be more uncertain and variable than the state of the Arctic Seas. One year they are almost entirely open, with comparatively little ice, and the next they are so completely blocked up, as to present an insurmountable barrier to navigation; nay, a few weeks, or even days, are sometimes sufficient to produce this transformation. Hence, if the north-west passage were entirely explored, of which, indeed, we see but small chance, commerce would in no degree profit by the discovery. Our maps of America would be improved, and nothing else.
From what has been stated, it appears that, upon the whole, Captain Beechey employed his time advantageously while in Behring's Strait. But there are, nevertheless, some subjects of great interest, both to science and navigation, which, although they lay fairly within the scope of his researches, he seems to have, in a great measure, neglected. One of these is the subject of currents, and, in connexion with it, that of driftwood, which was everywhere abundant.' In regard to the current which is generally understood to prevail in Behring's Strait, setting into the Polar Sea round Icy Cape, Captain Beechey gives us little information, and that little is not very consistent; for, in one place, (p. 266,) he seems disposed to question the existence of any such current; while, in another, (p. 376,) he comes to the conclusion, that a current prevails in a northerly direction,' although he confesses himself unable to determine its rate with any degree of precision, and expresses an opinion that it sets in during only one season of the year. Nor is he in any degree more satisfactory on the subject of driftwood, which he has evidently not examined with the attention which it deserved. Combating the opinion that this wood comes from the southward, he says loosely,