The Island Home

Richard Archer

The Island Home, by Richard Archer

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Title: The Island Home
Author: Richard Archer
Illustrator: Dalziel
Release Date: October 20, 2007 [EBook #23117]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

The Island Home, the Adventures of six Young Crusoes, by Richard Archer.

"A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A breeze that follows fast,
That fills the white and rustling sail,
And bends the gallant mast.
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
Our good ship sound and free,
The hollow oak our palace is,
Our heritage the sea."
It is now some twenty years ago, that the goodly ship Washington, commanded by Mr Erskine, left the port of New York, on a trading voyage to the East Indian archipelago. With a select few good seamen, the owners had also placed on board some youths of their own families and immediate connections.
Having passed through the Straits of Magellan in safety, they were then on their way to Canton, where the young men were to be settled; and meanwhile the ship was to visit any of the isles in the Pacific Ocean that lay in their path. After some little delay on the part of the captain among the numerous groups of isles, the purpose of the voyage was frustrated by the events narrated in the volume. The extreme beauty of the wild loveliness of nature that these islets exhibited, tempted the young men, accompanied by Mr Frazer, one of the officers, to land on one that presented great charms of scenery, as well as having a convenient and easily accessible landing-place, and from that point the narrative commences.
It is not necessary for the elucidation of the narrative, to name more of the crew than those whose adventures are hereafter related by one of the party. The names of these castaways were John Browne, the son of a Glasgow merchant; William Morton, and Maximilian Adeler, of New York; Richard Archer, from Connecticut, the journalist; John Livingstone, from Massachusetts; Arthur Hamilton, whose parents had settled at Tahiti; and to them was joined Eiulo, prince of Tewa, in the South-Seas.
The narrative commences from the time of the party landing, and although in some parts prolix and unequal, being evidently from an unpractised hand, it bears all the characteristics of a boyish mind, and thus to a certain extent confirms its genuineness. The sayings and doings of the young adventurers are recorded with the minuteness that to older heads seems tedious. This disposition to dwell upon, and to attach importance to things comparatively trivial, is peculiar to the youthful mind, and marks that period of freshness, joyousness, and inexperience, when every thing is new, and possesses the power to surprise and to interest.
What became of the ship and crew we are not informed; but we may conclude, that insubordination would lead to neglect and carelessness, and that the vessel was wrecked and plundered by the native; and the wretched crew murdered or detained.
The South Pacific Ocean abounds with thousands of islands, of a vast many of which we have no account; but those mentioned in these pages appear to be the Samoas, the Kingsmill, and the Feejee Groups of islands, which lie nearly under the equator, and they are described by Captain Charles Wilkes, in his narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition between the years 1838 and 1842. These islands were all visited by the different vessels engaged in the expedition; many of them appear to be of volcanic formation, others are of coral origin; they are all characterised as possessing an exceedingly fertile soil; they abound with a picturesque beauty of scenery, and luxuriant vegetation, which excites the most painful feelings when we learn, that where nature has bestowed so much bounty, the inhabitants are, it is greatly to be feared, cannibals. In some two or three islands, a solitary white man was found, one of whom, Paddy Connell, (an Irishman, of course), a short, wrinkled old man, with a beard reaching to his middle, in a rich Milesian brogue, related his adventures during a forty years' residence at Ovolan, one of the Feejees. Paddy, with one hundred wives, and forty-eight children, and a vast quantity of other live stock, expressed his content and happiness, and a determination to die on the island. In other cases, the white men expressed an earnest desire to quit the island, and were received on board the expedition, to the great grief of their wives and connections.
The Samoan Islands are of volcanic structure,
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