Nowhere, perhaps, are the proverbial characteristics of sailors shown under wilder aspects than in the South Seas. For the most part, the vessels navigating those remote waters are engaged in the Sperm Whale Fishery; a business which is not only peculiarly fitted to attract the most reckless seamen of all nations, but, in various ways, is calculated to foster in them a spirit of the utmost licence. These voyages, also, are unusually long and perilous; the only harbours accessible are among the barbarous or semi- civilized islands of Polynesia, or along the lawless western coast of South America. Hence, scenes the most novel, and not directly connected with the business of whaling, frequently occur among the crews of ships in the Pacific.

Without pretending to give any account of the whale-fishery (for the scope of the narrative does not embrace the subject), it is, partly, the object of this work to convey some idea of the kind of life to which allusion is made by means of a circumstantial history of adventures befalling the author.

Another object proposed is to give a familiar account of the present condition of the converted Polynesians, as affected by their promiscuous intercourse with foreigners, and the teachings of the missionaries, combined.

As a roving sailor, the author spent about three months in various parts of the islands of Tahiti and Imeeo, and under circumstances most favourable for correct observations on the social condition of the natives.

In every statement connected with missionary operations, a strict adherence to facts has, of course, been scrupulously observed; and in some instances it has even been deemed advisable to quote previous voyagers, in corroboration of what is offered as the fruit of the author’s own observations. Nothing but an earnest desire for truth and good has led him to touch upon this subject at all. And if he refrains from offering hints as to the best mode of remedying the evils which are pointed out, it is only because he thinks that, after being made acquainted with the facts, others are better qualified to do so.

Should a little jocoseness be shown upon some curious traits of the Tahitians, it proceeds from no intention to ridicule: things are merely described as, from their entire novelty, they first struck an unbiassed observer.

The present narrative necessarily begins where “Typee” concludes, but has no further connection with the latter work. All, therefore, necessary for the reader to understand, who has not read “Type,” is given in a brief introduction.

No journal was kept by the author during his wanderings in the South Seas; so that, in preparing the ensuing chapters for the press, precision with respect to dates would have been impossible; and every occurrence has been put down from simple recollection. The frequency, however, with which these incidents have been verbally related, has tended to stamp them upon the memory.

Although it is believed that one or two imperfect Polynesian vocabularies have been published, none of the Tahitian dialect has as yet appeared. At any rate, the author has had access to none whatever. In the use of the native words, therefore, he has been mostly governed by the bare recollection of sounds.

Upon several points connected with the history and ancient customs of Tahiti, collateral information has been obtained from the oldest books of South Sea voyages and also from the “Polynesian Researches” of Ellis.

The title of the work— Omoo— is borrowed from the dialect of the Marquesas Islands, where, among other uses, the word signifies a rover, or rather a person wandering from one island to another, like some of the natives, known among their countrymen as “Taboo kannakers.”

In no respect does the author make pretensions to philosophic research. In a familiar way, he has merely described what he has seen; and if reflections are occasionally indulged in, they are spontaneous, and such as would, very probably, suggest themselves to the most casual observer.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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