Fine example of the 1865 work by the Reverend Thomas West entitled Ten Years in South-Central Polynesia and discussing a sailing cruise in the South Seas.
The work finely details the region, and is complemented by two attractive maps. The larger of these maps shows the locations of volcanoes in Polynesia.
Ten Years in Polynesia begins with the departure of the General Hewitt for Sydney and takes the reader on a journey through various locations such as Santa Cruz, Teneriffe, and Port Jackson. The author describes various events and encounters, including an Irish squabble, a rescue at sea, and observations of different islands. The first chapter sets the stage for a detailed exploration of the Polynesian region, including the geography, culture, and natural phenomena.
The subsequent chapters delve into the exploration of Sydney, Botany Bay, and the discovery of Australia. The author provides insights into the character of the country around Sydney, the destruction caused by white ants, and a thrilling ride through a great bush fire. The voyage then continues to New Zealand, where the author describes Auckland, the harbor of Mannkau, and various aspects of New Zealand's culture, including the Kauri Gum, canoes, and the state of religion among the natives. The journey then leads to the Friendly Islands, where the author provides a detailed description of the islands, the native canoes, the arrival of the royal fleet, and the history of King George.
In the middle chapters, the author focuses on the geographical distribution of the Friendly Islands, the extent of Polynesia proper, and the volcanic origin of the islands. There is a detailed examination of volcanic activity, including personal visits to sites of eruptions and the formation of new volcanic islands. The author also explores the absence of running streams, the capabilities of Vavau for water supply, the general character of the climate, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the richness of the soil. The chapters provide a comprehensive view of the natural environment, including flora and fauna.
The latter part of the book delves into the cultural, political, and religious aspects of Polynesia. It explores the origin of the Polynesian nation, ancient maritime discovery, Jewish extraction, and the political constitution of Tonga. The author also provides a sketch of Tonguese religion, the succession and rank of chiefs, land tenure, and various ceremonies and customs. The chapters on the commencement of the Tongan Mission, the rise of Christianity, the conversion of natives, and the progress of the Gospel provide a deep insight into the religious transformation of the region. The book concludes with reflections on the effects of the French Treaty, the progress of commerce, constitutional government, and a look at the Tonguese language and grammar.