Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

pensities of the latter rendered it impossible to turn him from his bar

barous purposes.

On the day of the feast the shutters of their house were closed, in order to keep out the disgusting smell that would ensue, but Mr. Hunt took his station just within his fence, and witnessed the whole that follows. The victims were dragged along the ground with ropes around their necks, by these merciless cannibals, and laid, as a present to the king, in the front of the missionaries' house, which is directly opposite the king's square, or public place of the town. The cause of the massacre was, that the people of Lauthala had killed a man belonging to the king's koro, who was doing some business for the king; and, notwithstanding the people of Lauthala are related to the king, it was considered an unpardonable offence, and an order was given to attack their town. The party that went for this purpose came upon the unsuspecting village when (according to themselves) they were neither prepared for defence nor flight, or, as they described it to Mr. Hunt, " at the time the cock crows, they open their eyes and raise their heads from sleep, they rushed in upon them, and clubbed them to death,” without any regard to rank, age, or sex. All shared the same fate, whether innocent or guilty. A large number were eaten on the spot. No report makes this less than thirty, but others speak of as many as three hundred. Of these it is not my intention to speak, but only of what was done with the eleven presented to the king and spirit.

The utmost order was preserved on this occasion, as at their other feasts, the people approaching the residence of the king with every mark of respect and reverence, at the beat of the drum. When human bodies are to be shared, the king himself makes a speech, as he did on this occasion. In it he presented the dead to his son, and intimated that the gods of Feejee should be propitiated, that they might have rain, &c. The son then rose and publicly accepted the gift, after which the herald pronounced aloud the names of the chiefs who were to have the bodies. The different chiefs take the bodies allotted to them away to their mbures, there to be devoured.

The chief of Lauthala was given to their principal god, whose temple is near the missionaries' house. He was cut up and cooked two or three yards from their fence, and Mr. Hunt stood in his yard and saw the operation. He was much struck with the skill and despatch with which these practised cannibals performed their work. While it was going on, the old priest was sitting in the door of his temple giving orders, and anxiously looking for his share. All this,

Mr. Hunt said, was done with the most perfect insensibility. He could not perceive the least sign of revenge on the part of those who ate them, and only one body was given to the injured party. Some of those who joined in the feast acknowledged that the people of Lauthala were their relations, and he fully believes that they cooked and ate them, because they were commanded to do so. The coolness, Mr. Hunt further remarked, with which all this was done, proved to him that there was a total want of feeling and natural affection among them.

After all the parts but the head had been consumed, and the feast was ended, the king's son knocked at the missionaries' door, (which was opened by Mr. Hunt,) and demanded why their windows were closed? Mr. Hunt told him to keep out the sight as well as the smell of the bodies that were cooking. The savage instantly rejoined, in the presence of the missionaries' wives, that if it happened again, he would knock them in the head and eat them.

The missionaries were of opinion, that after these feasts, the chiefs become more ferocious, and are often very troublesome. In the present case, they attempted to bring accusations against the missionaries, that they might have a pretext for plundering them, but the only fault they could find to complain of was, that they did not receive presents. The missionaries' conduct was firm and decided, telling them if they desired the property, they must take it by force. This the natives seemed afraid to do, and after they were fully convinced they could not intimidate them, showed a desire to become friends. The missionaries then took them a present, which they were glad to accept, and gave one in return, as a make-peace, since which time they have lived

in peace.

I know of no situation so trying as this for ladies to live in, par. ticularly when pleasing and well-informed, as we found those at Somu-somu.

The missionaries have made but slow advancement in their work, and there is but little to be expected as long as the people remain under their present chiefs, for they dare not do any thing but what they allow them. All the chiefs seemed to look upon Christianity as a change in which they had much to lose and little to gain. The old chiefs, in particular, would often remark, that they were too old to change their present for new gods, or to abandon what they considered their duty to their people ; yet the chiefs generally desire the residence of missionaries among them. I was, therefore, anxious to know why they entertained such a wish, when they had no desire for their instruction. They acknowledged that it was to get presents, and because it

would bring vessels to their place, which would give them opportunities of obtaining many desirable articles.

The presents from the missionaries are small; but an axe, or hatchet, or other articles of iron, are acquisitions, in their minds, which their covetousness cannot forego the opportunity of obtaining. They express themselves as perfectly willing that the missionaries should worship their own spirit, but they do not allow any of the natives to become proselytes, and none are made without their sanction, under fear of death.

It is not to be supposed, under this state of things, that the success of the missionaries will be satisfactory, or adequate to their exertions, or a sufficient recompense for the hardships, deprivations, and strug. gles which they and their families have to encounter. There are few situations in which so much physical and moral courage is required, as those in which these devoted and pious individuals are placed; and nothing but a deep sense of duty, and a strong determination to perform it, could induce civilized persons to subject themselves to the sight of such horrid scenes as they are called upon almost daily to witness.

On the afternoon of the 9th, the Porpoise joined me here, agreeably to appointment.

On the 10th, I endeavoured to get the chiefs on board the Porpoise to sign the treaty, or regulations, which the chiefs of Ambau and Rewa had done. For this purpose I gave them an invitation to come on board; but no inducement could persuade them to place themselves in our power, for fear of a like detention with Vendovi. Finding that they were determined to persist in their refusal to come on board, I asl ed that a council of chiefs should be held on shore. To this the king agreed, and issued his orders for the meeting. It took place in his house, which is built much after the fashion of an mbure, though of larger dimensions; it had four apertures for doors; the fire-place was in one corner, and part of the house was curtained off with tapa. A large number of junk-bottles were hung from a beam, both for use and to display his wealth, for they are very much valued. The king also possessed a chair, two chests, and several muskets. The former he seemed to take much pleasure in sitting in, having discovered, as he told the interpreter, that they were very comfortable for an old man. We had a full meeting, and I was much struck with the number of fine-looking men who were present. Their complexions were dark, and they resembled one another more than any collection of natives I had before seen in the group.

The two sons of the king were present. Tui Illa-illa, who is the

actual king, is held much in awe by the people. The regulations, after a full explanation of their objects, were signed, or rather they made their mark, for the first time, on paper. The old king has always been friendly to the whites, but his son is considered quite unfriendly towards them; and it is thought, by the missionaries, that were it not for the old man, and the fear of punishment by a man-ofwar, they would not be safe.

Messrs. Hunt and Lythe acted as interpreters on this occasion, but not until after the one I had chosen was unable to make them understand. This was intentional on my part, for I did not wish the king and natives to think that the missionaries had had any part in the proceeding; and they did not undertake the office until the king and chiefs desired their assistance. Besides the signing, we had the clap ping of hands and thighs, and the three audible grunts of satisfaction from the audience. The meeting broke up with a distribution of presents, and all, I believe, went away satisfied.

The ceremony attending the ava drinking of the king, at Somusomu, is peculiar. Early in the morning, the first thing heard is the king's herald, or orator, crying out, in front of his house, “ Yango-na ei ava,” somewhat like a muezzin in Turkey, though not from the housetop. To this the people answer, from all parts of the koro, “Mama,” (prepare ava.) The principal men and chiefs immediately assemble together from all quarters, bringing their ava-bowl and avaroot to the mbure, where they seat themselves to talanoa, or to converse on the affairs of the day, while the younger proceed to prepare

Those who prepare the ava are required to have clean and undecayed teeth, and are not allowed to swallow any of the juice, on pain of punishment. As soon as the ava-root is chewed, it is thrown into the ava-bowl, where water is poured on it with great formality. The king's herald, with a peculiar drawling whine, then cries, “Sevu-rui-a-na,” (make the offering.) After this, a considerable time is spent in straining the ava through cocoa-nut husks; and when this is done, the herald repeats, with still more ceremony, his command, “ Sevu-rui-a-na." When he has chaunted it several times, the other chiefs join him, and they all sing, “ Mana endina sendina le.” A person is then commanded to get up and take the king his ava, after which the singing again goes on. The orator then invokes their principal god, Tava-Sava, and they repeat the names of their departed friends, asking them to watch over and be gracious to them. They then pray for rain, for the life of the king, the arrival of wangara Papalangi (foreign ships), that they may have riches and live to enjoy them. This prayer is followed by a most earnest response,

• Mana

the ava.

[ocr errors]

endina,” (amen, amen.) They then repeat several times, “Mana endina sendina le.” Every time this is repeated they raise their voices, until they reach the highest pitch, and conclude with

O-ya-ye,” which they utter in a tone resembling a horrid scream. This screech goes the rounds, being repeated by all the people of the koro, until it reaches its farthest limits, and, when it ceases, the king drinks his ava. All the chiefs clap their hands, with great regularity, while he is drinking, and, after he has finished his ava, the chiefs drink theirs, without any more ceremony. The business of the day is then hegun. The people never do any thing in the morning before the king has drunk his ava. Even a foreigner will not venture to work or make a noise before that ceremony is over, or during the preparation of it, if he wishes to be on good terms with the king and people.

It is almost impossible to conceive the horrible particulars relative to these natives, that have come under the personal observation of the missionaries, and are not for a moment to be doubted, from such respectable authority. They told me, that during their residence they had known of only one instance of a natural death, all having been strangled or buried alive! Children usually strangle their feeble and aged parents, and the sick that have been long ill are always killed.

Dr. Lythe pointed out to me a chief of high rank, who had strangled his own mother, as he himself saw. They went in procession to the grave, the mother being dressed in her best attire, and painted in the Feejee fashion. On arriving at the grave, a rope of twisted tapa was passed around her neck, when a number of natives, besides the son, taking hold of each end, soon strangled and buried her.

Dr. Lythe had a patient, a young girl, in a most critical state. She was scarce fourteen, when she was brutally violated by the same high chief who had strangled his mother; and much injury had resulted, in large swellings, which they attempted to cure, according to the Feejee custom, by large gashes with sharp bamboos, but without

The seducer had determined to destroy her, when Dr. Lythe heard of it, and, by interceding, after much difficulty and ridicule, was allowed to take her away, and put her under treatment.

Some time previous to our arrival, Katu Mbithi, the youngest son of Tui Thakau, was lost at sea, on the knowledge of which event the whole population went into mourning. He was much beloved by the king. All his wives were strangled, with much form and ceremony. Some accounts make their number as high as seventy or eighty; the missionaries stated it below thirty.

There were various other ceremonies, not less extraordinary. To supply the places of the men who were lost with Katu Mbithi, the

success.

« PředchozíPokračovat »