Morrell opens the work with a brief sketch of his own life, eldest son of a Stonington ship-builder, born in 1795 at Rye, NY. His merchant service seems to have taken him throughout the world.
p. 37, September 4, 1822, in Rio de Janeiro: So far as my own observation extends, their peculiar characteristies appear to be superstition, indolence, filthiness, and an irrepressible propensity for overreaching others in commercial transactions. I wish to be understood as expressing myself in general terms; there arc, of course, some bright and honour able exceptions; but these are by no means confined to the higher classes. The extent to which bribery is carried on in this place by the officers of government, especially in the custom-house, is almost incredible. It is in fact difficult, if not impossible, to bring any business with government to a consummation, without a frequent application of the golden spur, alias an exorbitant fee—in plain English, a bribe. Their cupidity seems to know no bounds, but eternally cries, "Give! give!" In Rio Janeiro ignorance of every thing but trade prevails to a melancholy degree, literature and science being almost totally unknown among the people, who are at least a century behind the age they live in. Nothing but an arbitrary government can restrain them from cutting each other’s throats. Several generations must pass over the stage before the great mass of Brazilians will be capable of appreciating and enjoying liberal institutions. Those who know how to read are too indolent for the task; while others are too lazy to learn. The magnificence and luxury of the wealthy and titled classes form a curious contrast with their habitual want of neatness and cleanliness. This is manifested in their skin, in their apparel, in the furniture of their houses, and in their cookery, which could not fail to disgust a citizen of the United States. Their persons are seldom if ever free from a species of vermin which among us is considered disgraceful; and that cutaneous disease which is the necessary concomitant of filth and unwholesome food is common to all.
p. 124, at island of Juan Fernandez 670km off the Chile coast: Every schoolboy knows that the island of Juan Fernandez was, for four or five years, the solitary residence of a Scotch sailor, named Alexander Selkirk; he having been left there by his captain, on account of a quarrel between them. It was from his journal that De Foe filched the materials for his interesting romance of Robinson Crusoe—a book that has never been equalled in popularity since the art of printing was discovered—a book that has had, and still has, more influence on the minds of youth than ever had the legends of chivalry in Spain, or the dramas of Schiller in Germany.
p. 371-73, Jan. 21, 1830, on the Eastern Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Describes the civilizing work of the missionaries and the native development of language skills
p. 371: This place was once inhabited by wild and ferocious cannibals but through the philanthropic labours of missionaries, the natives here and in the vicinity have become civilized, friendly, hospitable, and anxious to do good to others. Indolence and filthiness have given place to industry and personal cleanliness; ferocity, to gentleness; ignorance, to intelligence; idolatry, to the pure and undefiled religion of the Gospel. Go on, ye messengers of Divine Mercy; pursue the good work, until all the isles of the ocean shall rejoice; "until the knowledge of Jehovah covers the earth as the waters cover the sea." Soon may these labours of love be extended to the south island of New-Zealand, where the people now sit in intellectual darkness, and in the shadow of moral death.
p. 373, after the males finish their field labors: They assemble at six o’clock, and partake of a light upper, after which the natives receive lessons in reading , writing, and arithmetic; or hear a religious lecture. At nine, P. M., the day is closed with prayer, when a sweet night’s rest recruits their health and spirits, and fits them for the exercises of the following day.
While the missionaries are thus occupied with the male natives, their wives and daughters are equally busy with the females, teaching them to read and write, and also the art of needlework. Thus these good people devote their whole time in labouring to promote the temporal as well as the eternal welfare of the natives of New-Zealand. Several handsome specimens of their writing were shown us, together with some pieces of original composition that evinced no ordinary degree of genius and talent. I heard some of them read, also, with great accuracy, both in English and in their own tongue, which the missionaries have so reduced to a grammatical system, that it has become a written and printed language.