An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean. Compiled and arranged from the extensive communications of Mr. William Mariner, several years resident in those islands. MARINER, John MARTIN.
An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean. Compiled and arranged from the extensive communications of Mr. William Mariner, several years resident in those islands.
An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean. Compiled and arranged from the extensive communications of Mr. William Mariner, several years resident in those islands.

An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands.
An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean. Compiled and arranged from the extensive communications of Mr. William Mariner, several years resident in those islands.

Boston: Charles Ewer, 1820.

Octavo, with a frontispiece portrait of Mariner in Tongan dress, and a folding map; a large copy, edges completely uncut, in original blue-grey boards, with double printed paper labels on spine.

First American edition of a Pacific classic

First American edition. Mariner was a young British sailor on the Port au Prince, supposedly a whaler but which in fact spent much of her time attacking Spanish shipping. In the spring of 1806 she captured the brig Santa Isidora and the corbeta Santa Maria, both of which were then sent to Port Jackson to be sold. The Port au Prince visited Hawaii in late 1806, then sailed with a number of Hawaiian crew. They arrived at the Haapa'i Islands in Tonga in 1806, were attacked after a quarrel, and the ship was burned and destroyed.

First American edition. Mariner was a young British sailor on the Port au Prince, supposedly a whaler but which in fact spent much of her time attacking Spanish shipping. In the spring of 1806 she captured the brig Santa Isidora and the corbeta Santa Maria, both of which were then sent to Port Jackson to be sold. The Port au Prince visited Hawaii in late 1806, then sailed with a number of Hawaiian crew. They arrived at the Haapa'i Islands in Tonga in 1806, were attacked after a quarrel, and the ship was burned and destroyed.

Adopted by a Tongan chief, and given the name of the chief's dead son, Mariner spent four years learning the language and customs of Tonga until, in 1810, he hitched a passage home on an English boat. His account of life on Tonga, prepared for the press by John Martin, is 'considered the best report of Tongan life and culture before the arrival of Christianity' (Hill).

Mariner's story was cited by Byron as one of the two sources for his poem The Island, or Christian and his Comrades, his romantic narrative of the Bounty mutiny. The work includes a grammar and a Tongan-English dictionary, with a further important appendix "on the surgical skills of the Tonga people", with references to similar practices in Hawaii. This is one of the earliest accounts of indigenous medical practices in the Pacific.

John Martin, Mariner's ghost-writer, was a physician and meteorologist of some note. After working during the day as a doctor he spent his nights recording weather patterns and preparing meticulous meteorological charts which were pioneering in their scope and detail.

Martin's account of Tonga - Cook's "Friendly Isles" - was first published in London in 1817; the second revised edition on which this early American printing was based appeared the following year and included the large folding map of the Tongan archipelago, not present in the first edition, copied here. This detailed map shows outlying reefs and notes the exact point where Mariner was wrecked off the island of Lefooga (present day Lifuka).

A significant passage relates to the voyage of the Bounty when Mariner visits the grave of John Norton in Tofua. Norton had been quarter-master on the Bounty and sailed with Bligh on the open-boat voyage; he died helping wrest the boat free where it had gone aground during an affray.

The preface here notes that Mariner's narrative as written up by John Martin has been verified by one Jeremiah Higgins who served on the Port au Prince, survived the massacre and lived in Tonga for two years and eleven months. Significantly, Higgins was not adopted into the Tongan aristocracy, and therefore his account lacks many of the privileged insights of William Mariner's.

Despite its Australian significance this edition was not recorded by Ferguson (the English version appears in Addenda as 684aa: "the first volume includes a short account of Botany Bay given by a Tongan chief and his wife; also references to Cook and Bligh and the grave of Bounty seaman, John Norton, whose death is also described…").

Forbes, "Hawaiian National Bibliography", 515; Hill, 1077; Kroepelien, 819n.

Condition Report: Spotted throughout as is typical with paper used in American books of the period.

Price (AUD): $1,100.00

US$761.39   Other currencies

Ref: #5000377

Condition Report