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CHAPTER IV.

R E W A.

1840.

WHEN the Peacock left the harbour of Levuka for Rewa, it was for the purpose of visiting that town and inducing the King of Rewa to sign the Feejee regulations, and also to carry on the surveys in that quarter. (The instructions will be found in Appendix VI.) The Peacock left Levuka on the 15th May, and reached Rewa at noon the next day. The harbour of Rewa is formed by two small islands, called Nukalou and Mukalou, with their attached coral reefs, and has three passages into it. The two southern ones are safe, though narrow, but the northern one is much obstructed with coral lumps. The port is a secure one, and the anchorage, which is off the island of Nukalou, is about three miles from the mouth of Wailevu, or Peale's river, and six from the town of Rewa, which is situated on a low piece of land, which the river, passing on each side of it, has formed into an island. The east point of Vitilevu is low, and is divided by several small and unimportant streams, which we had not time to examine; there is, also, at high water, a passage for canoes through one of them to Ambau, which lies ten miles to the northward.

The launch and first cutter of the Peacock, under Lieutenant Emmons and Passed Midshipman Blunt, were found here, having advanced thus far in their surveying operations. They had passed around the bay of Ambau, stopped at the town, and met with rather an unfriendly reception there; the chiefs refused to give them any water unless paid for, on account, as they said, of our trade-master not paying a higher price for the yams they carried him. For this reason the chiefs were in a bad humour, and had refused a supply of water to the boats.

Ambau is a singular-looking place. It occupies a small island, which is entirely covered with houses, among which the mbure stands

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conspicuous. The approach to the town is much obstructed by reefs of coral; and the water being shallow, is impassable for an armed vessel. The island is connected with the main land or large island, by a long flat of coral, which is fordable, even at high water, and is in places quite bare at low water. One is at a loss to conceive how this place could have acquired its strength and importance. I am rather inclined to impute it to the enterprise of its first settlers, and the ascendency given it by the accidental aid that has been afforded its chiefs by the whites, who came among them and joined their side. It was, probably, at first, the retreat of the fishermen; and from their enterprise, the difficulties they had to encounter, and the powerful connexions they have formed with the other towns and districts, it is likely that their rule will continue until the people shall have become civilized, when, from the want of internal resources, the terror of its name will pass away, and it must fall to the rank of a place of secondary importance.

At present it is in the ascendency, and its chiefs have a high estimate of their own importance. Thus, while I was at Levuka, I was much amused by a question put me by Seru, “Why I had not gone with my ship to Ambau? why come to Levuka, where there were no gentlemen, none but common people (kai-si) ? all the gentlemen lived at Ambau.”

The towns of Verata and Viwa are within a short distance of Ambau, and have both been its rivals. At each of these some fearful outrage has been perpetrated upon trading vessels, for which the guilty have been but partially punished. The chief of Viwa, I understood, had made it his boast that the French had only burned a few of his mud huts, which he could shortly build again; that it would give a very few days of labour to his slaves; and that he would cut off the next vessel that came, if he had an opportunity. He thinks that it was a very cheap purchase to get so much property for so little damage. The Ambau people also spoke vauntingly of having given the French permission to destroy Viwa, as it was nothing, and satisfied the Papalangis; but they did not intend that any property or lives should be lost, for they had sent to inform the Viwa people that the attack was to be made, and even helped them to remove all their valuables. Viwa is not so large a town as Ambau, but is built on a larger island, and affords more conveniences for a port.

The whole bay of Ambau is well shielded by extensive coral seareefs. Here the launch and first cutter again left the Peacock, on their way to the island of Mbenga, to the westward.

Captain Hudson, after anchoring, sent Lieutenant Budd to the town

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