Although Antarctica was the chief object of study of the US Exploring Expedition (USExEx), much of Wilkes’ Voyage is an extensive travelogue of ports visited.
p. 78, in Santiago, Chile: The mint occupies a whole square; it has never yet been completed, and has also suffered greatly from earthquakes. The operation of coining is in the rudest and oldest form. The rolling and cutting are done by mule-power, and the oldest kind of fly-press, with a great screw beam, having enormous balls at the end, is used. The dies employed are made from the male die, in the same way as with us, but
they have not the same facilities, and want the modern improvements in the process. A toggle-jointed press was imported from France; but it was soon put out of order by the workmen, and there being no one to repair it, its use has been abandoned.
The library is extensive, containing several thousand volumes, which formerly belonged to the Jesuits, and many curious manuscripts relating to the Indians.
The amusements are not very remarkable. Santiago, however, boasts of a theatre, and a chingano.
p. 93-94, in Lima, Peru: The public library is composed of rare and valuable books, both in French and Spanish, taken from the Jesuits’ College and convents. They are in good order, and among them are many manuscripts which are beautifully illuminated. The librarian, a young priest, deserves our thanks for his attention and civility.
The public museum has been but lately commenced. . It contains a
collection of curious Peruvian antiquities, some native birds, and the
portraits of all the viceroys, from Pizarro down. At the cabildos or
city hall, are to be seen some of the archives of Lima, kept until recently in good order.
p. 175, about Tutuila in what is now American Samoa: The chiefs have still great power over the people, although the influence of the missionaries has tended greatly to diminish it. Most of the people look back to the days when polygamy existed with regret, and cannot understand why they are restricted to one wife. They say, “Why should God be so unreasonable as to require them to give up all their wives but one for his convenience?” They pay just attention to their religious duties; morning and evening prayers are always said, as is grace before their meals, and with a devotion rarely to be seen among civilized men.
Their amusements seem to be few; their books are constantly before them, and a great portion of their time is employed over them. Old gray-headed men may be seen poring over the alphabet, and taught by some of the youngest of the family. The employment of the men is to.
cultivate and weed the taro, and to take care of the fences; they also make sennit for their houses, and canoes for fishing. The women are
engaged in making mats, and the boys and girls play, and wait upon
p. 202, on Samoa: A printing-press has also been established at Upolu, and rapid progress is making in the translation of the Scriptures, of which some portions are already published. Many publications have issued from this press: among them I regretted to observe a small tract containing a violent attack upon the Roman Catholics. The sight of this surprised me, as it contradicted the opinion I had formed, from my intercourse with the missionaries, of their liberality and freedom from intolerance. The sole object of the tract was to prepossess the minds of the natives against the missionaries of the Papal Church, in case they should visit these islands. This struck me as being at variance with the first principles of our religion; and I could not refrain from expressing an opinion that the tract was calculated to do much harm.
p. 355, at Tongataboo on Tonga: The missionaries reside at each of these stations. The smaller islands are under the care of native teachers, and are visited occasionally by the missionaries to marry and baptize, &c. There is a printing press established at Vavao, which has been in operation since 1832. Many of the women can sew, and a great number of the natives have learned to read and write; a few of them have been taught the rules of arithmetic, and the principles of geography. A very great improvement has taken place in the morals of the Christian part of the community; but the attachment of the people to their ancient usages is so strong, and the island so little visited by civilized nations, that they have not had that stimulus to improvement which others have derived from such advantages.
p. 513, in Hawaii: The operation of foreign opinions upon the natives is very evident; they are more prone to take knowledge and advice from the books that are circulated among them, than strangers are apt to believe. Their gambling propensities appear to have been very difficult to overcome; yet, from the simple sentence, “Do not gamble,” having been printed in the first books circulated among them, that expression has become almost proverbial, and many have in consequence been restrained from indulging in gaming to excess, while some have abandoned the practice altogether.—From the inquiries I made on the subject of their vices, I am satisfied that these have been much overrated by both residents and missionaries, and I fully believe that these natives are as susceptible of correct impressions as any other people.
p. 583, in Oahu enroute to Manila: A table of statistics, which was published in a newspaper at Oahu, and compiled by intelligent merchants there, gives the amount of imports actually landed at four hundred and fifty-five thousand dollars, while the exports of native produce are no more than ninety-eight thousand dollars. From this great difference between the imports and exports, it would appear that many of these articles must have been reshipped to other ports, or are still on hand. The latter I believe to be the case.
The trade on the northwest coast, formerly so much resorted to by our vessels, is entirely broken up by the Russians, who have interdicted
the taking of furs on the coast of their territory, and obtain their supplies exclusively from the Hudson Bay Company, or by the latter, who have adopted the principle of underselling all competitors, and have thereby caused a monopoly, which effectually shuts out all small traders.p. 659, St Helen, at Longwood where Napoleon died: Longwood is now but little better than a barn; the glass of the windows is broken, and the outward walls much disfigured. The door at which visitors are admitted is covered with a small latticed veranda, and leads into what is called the billiard-room, although it seems much too small ever to have been used for that purpose; its walls are covered with scribbling, and its general appearance is dirty and neglected. The next apartment is about fourteen by seventeen feet, said to have been used as a dining-room, and in which Napoleon died; it is now occupied by a patent thrashing and winnowing machine, and was strewed with chaff and straw. The adjoining room had been used as a library; its present state was disgusting, and it seemed as if it was appropriated to the hatching of chickens. The bath, bed, and dressing-rooms which he occupied at the commencement of his illness, are now in part used as a stable. The place in which his body lay in state, contains eight stalls, five of which were occupied by horses and cattle.