« ForrigeFortsett »
the confinement, and being unwilling to make complaints, I rea moved, about the beginning of May, to the house of Isaac Davis, a Welshman, who had been above twenty years upon the island, and remained with him till the king gave me a grant of land about six months afterwards." P. 126.
The manners of the present inhabitants are described in a manner with which the reader cannot fail to be pleased.
6. The manners and customs of the Sandwich islanders have been repeatedly described by much abler observers; but my long residence has given me opportunities of noticing many ching which have escaped others ; and to these I shall, as much as possible, confine my remarks.
“ The natives, although not tall, are stout and robust in their make, particularly those of the higher rank; their complexion is nut brown, and they are extremely cleanly in their persons. They are distinguished by great ingenuity in all their arts and manufactures, as well as by a most persevering industry.
“ They are divided into two great classes, the Erees, or chiefs, and the Cannakamowree, or people. The former are the proprietors of the land, the latter are all under the dominion of some chief, for whom they work or cultivate the ground, and by whom they are supported in old age. They are not, however, slaves, or attached to the soil, but at liberty to change masters when they
“ The supreme government is vested in the king, whose power seems to be completely absolute. He is assisted by the principal chiefs, whom he always keeps about his person; many of these have particular departments to attend to ; one chief took charge of the household, and appointed the different surveys to be performed by every individual ; another, named Coweeowranee, acted as paymaster ; his province was to distribute wages and provisions amongst the people in the king's service
“ An elderly chief, of the name of Naai, took a general charge of the whole, and was, in fact, prime minister. He was commonly called Billy Pitt by the white people, and was by no means pleased 11 hen they addressed him by any other appellation.
“ The principal duties of the executive were, however, entrusted to the priests ; by them the revenues were collected, and the laws enforced. Superstition is the most powerful engine by wlicht the latter purpose is effected ; actual punishment being rare. I knew only one instance of capital punishment; which was that of a man wlio had violated the sanctity of the Morai. Having got drunk, he quitted it during taboo time, and entered the house of
He was immediately seized, and carried back to the Morai, where his eyes were put out. After remaining two days in this state, he was strangled, and his body exposed before the principal idol. “ The method of detecting theft or robbery, afords a singular
instance of the power of superstition over their minds. The party who has suffered the loss applies to one of the priests, to whom he presents a pig, and relates his story.
" The following ceremony is then performed: The priest begins by rubbing two pieces of green word upon each other, tili, by the friction, a kind of powder, like snuff, is produced, which is so hot, that, on being placed in dry grass, and blown upon, it takes fire ; with this a large pile of wood is kindled, and allowed to burn a certain time. He then takes three nuts, of an oily nature, called tootooee; having broken the shells, one of the kernels is thrown into the fire, at which time he says an anana, or prayer: an:l while the nut is crackling in the fire, repeats the words, Muckeero:o kanaka ai kooee, that is, Kill, or shoot the fellow. The same ce. remonies take place with each of the nuts, provided the thief does not appear
before they are consumed. “ This, however, but seldom happens ; the culprit generally makes his appearance with tle stolen property, which is restored to the owner, and the offence punished by a fine of four pigs. He is then dismissed, with strict injunctions not to commit the like crime in future, under pain of a more severe penalty. The pigs are taken to the Morai, where they are offered up as sacrifices, and afterwards eaten by the priests.
“ Should it happen that the unfortunate criminal does not make his appearance during the awful ceremony, his fate is inevitable; had he the whole island to bestow, not one word of the prayer could be recalled, nor the anger of the Etooah appeased. The circumstance is reported to the king, and proclamation made throughout the island that a certain person has been robbed, and that those who are guilty have been prayed to death.
“ So firm is their belief in the power of these prayers, that the eulprit pines away, refusing to take any sustenance, and at last falls a sacrifice to his credulity.
“ The priests also practice medicine. Bathing is their great specific. If the patient is too weak to be carried to the sea, he is washed with salt water. The oil, extracted from a nut, called tootooe, is used as a purgative; and a black mineral substance, reduced to a powder, as an emetic. This is very powerful in its effects ; half the quantity that can be laid on a sixpence forming a sufficient dose.
“ I have but few particulars to give of their religious opinions. Their principal god, to whom they attribute the creation of the world, is called Etooah ; and they have seven or eight subordinate deities, whose images are in the Morai, and to whom offerings are made as well as to the Etooah. Their names I cannot recollect.
“ They believe in a future state, where they will be rewarded or punished for their conduct in this life. Their belief in the effi. cacy of prayer bas already been remarked. During the time I lived with the king, it was reported that some person had prayed him to death ; in order to counteract the effects of this, the daugh.
2 VOL. VI. SEPTEMBER, 1816.
ter of a chief prostrated herself before the house, and turning towards the setting sun, prayed with great fervency. I did not then understand the language, and imagined that she was addressing that luminary; but William Mosely explained that part to me. She said, How could the sun rise and set, or the moon perform her revolutions, if there were not some Superior Being who regulated their motions.
“ They have a tradition of a general deluge. According to their account, the sea once overflowed the whole world, except Mouna Kaa, in Owhyhee, and swept away all the inhabitants but one pair, who saved themselves on that mountain, and are the parents of the present race of mankind." P. 168.
The natives appear, from Campbell's account, to be making no inconsiderable progress towards civilization. There are about sixty wbites on the island. Fire-arms are in constant use, and no contemptible navy of decked vessels rides in the harbour.
The narrator appears to have been a very intelligent and enquiring man. His relation is such as might be expected from one who had so little advantages of education. It is not, how. ever, on this account less valuable or less amusing. We prefer truth in general to the charms of style or to the powers of imagination, and especially in a traveller
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