Page images
PDF
EPUB

about: for it must not be supposed that the Tonga islanders were become in any degree less superstitious, or more enlightened. Human sacrifices would still be offered,--and perhaps become more frequent as manners were becoming more ferocious ;—the Tooitonga would have favoured the missionaries if he had dared, but he advised them to desist from the peruicious practice of praying; for otherwise, it would, he feared, be attended with bad consequences to himself as well as them, the people being much dissatisfied with him for suffering them to follow it. While he retained his full authority it appears that these islands enjoyed a most remarkable continuance of peace and consequent prosperity; as soon as it was disturbed, civil wars began,—and will probably continue till a handful of cannibals alone remain, unless some beneficial change be effected by European means.

The policy of the younger Finow is the result of a mind humaner and more addicted to meditation than all around him. How far he may have succeeded in preserving his own island in peace we have as yet no opportunity of knowing. A party from Hapai attempted to land during the night with the intention of making all the havoc they could, but they were intercepted and defeated with loss. Shortly after, as Mr. Mariner was fishing at sea, he espied a sail just in the line of the horizon. He had three servants in the canoe and they refused to make toward her, saying they knew that their chiefs never meant to let him go if they could help it.' This was no time for hesitation, or compunction, they made for the shore, and one man declared that if Mr. Mariner resisted, he would die in opposing him, rather than let him escape. The Englishman uttered a Tonga curse, and thrust the muzzle of his musquet into the man's loins, making a mortal wound ;—there was little reason to regret this wretch,—he had inurdered two of his children to put them out of the way, and in time of scarcity had killed and eaten his wife. The others, in fear of a like fate, obeyed his orders and put about. It was just when the sun sunk below the horizon that he got sight of the ship, and he did not come up with her till daylight. What a night for an Englishman! As soon as he came alongside, without stopping to hail, he jumped into the main-chains, and had nearly been knocked overboard by the sentinel, who took him for a native. It was a brig from Port Jackson, with motherof-pearl on board from the Society islands, bound now for the Fijis, there to make up her voyage with sandal wood, -and from thence to China. Having got on board, Mr. Mariner obtained an axe as a present for Finow, and sent a message requesting him to come to the ship. The young king came accordingly, and brought as a present for his departing friend five large hogs and forty yams, weighing from thirty to seventy pounds each. He was very desirous

of

of accompanying him to England, that he might acquire a Papalangi mind, that being the name by which they call their white visitors. And when the captain refused to bring away a prince from his own country, to one where he might perhaps find himself, for a time at least, not only without patronage, but without protection, he made Mr. Mariner swear by his father and by the God who governed him, that he would endeavour to return for him in a ship, and take him even by force of arms, if the people should attempt to prevent him from executing his purpose.

In this brief abstract of a most interesting story, many circumstances, highly curious in themselves, have been necessarily passed over. There are, however, some scattered facts which particularly deserve notice. A species of fowling is fashionable in these islands, which is performed by means of a decoy bird. The sportsman conceals bimself in a sort of cage or bower, made of wicker work, and covered with green leaves; a cock bird is fastened on the top, and a hen bird within; both cocks and hens are attracted by their call, and are shot with arrows when they perch within sure distance. This pastime is only practised by great chiefs, as it requires great care to train the decoy birds, and great expenses to maintain them, -or rather their keepers, an insolent race of men who frequently abuse their privileges. The birds are fed upon plaintains, which these fellows are authorized to demand from any person whatsoever, even if food be scarce, and the owner himself should be in want: it is not a little remarkable to find oppression uniformly growing out of the passion for field sports, even in such rude governments as this. One of the Tonga chiefs, who was a kinsman of Finow, had the most famous bird of this kind that ever had been known; Eclipse was not more famous among horses, nor Snowball among greyhounds, than the Chief of Hihifo's bird among the sportsmen of the Tonga islands. It was, however, an uncomfortable property; if he had had the most beautiful woman in all the islands—a very Helen—for his wife, she would not have been coveted so much. Many chiefs had requested him to give them the bird, and many times he had been engaged in war for refusing their demand. At length Finow sent a special message to obtain it; the chief represented that it was become almost a point of honour for him to keep the bird, since he had undergone such danger, and so many lives had been sacrificed in maintaining it: but as Finow had so strong a desire for an excellent bird, he would make him a present of two, not, indeed, so good as the one in question,—which was certainly the best that ever had been trained,—but still exceedingly valuable. Finow was vexed at the refusal: he'went out to try the two, and the sport was so successful, that his heart was more than ever set upon obtaining the only bird in the world which exceeded these. This

sort

sort of interest upon such a subject, and in such a personage, seems like a story in the Arabian Tales. He prepared a costly present, containing axes, iron bolts, a looking-glass, and a grindstone, besides many articles of home mavufactory, and sent a second and more solenın embassy. This second attempt succeeded: the Chief of Hihifo, thinking it prudent, perhaps, to rid himself with honour of so troublesome a possession, said that he had no time to sport with the bird, because he was so constantly occupied in warfare, and therefore, as it was not consistent with the character of a chief to retain that from another which he could not use himself, he would resign this precious bird to Finow, notwithstanding the immense care it had cost him. The first thing Finow did after he had obtained the object of his wishes was to order all the dogs in Vavaoo to be killed (except a few belonging to the chiefs) because they destroyed the game, -just in the same spirit which made the late King of Naples exterminate the cats in the island of Ischia, and our William the Conqueror depopulate half Hampshire. He then went out with his bird; the first day he had very great sport; the second day the bird, either from illness, or fatigue, or caprice,—to which birds as well as taller bipeds are subject, would not make the call. Fidow knocked it on the ground, beat it with an arrow, and, having almost killed it, gave it away, exclaiming how vexatious it was to find so little pleasure in a bird which had cost him so much trouble. Vanity of vanities,-all is vanity! Had Finow succeeded in all his schemes of conquest to the utmost extent of ambition, he would not have enjoyed any more permanent satisfaction.

One of Captain Bligh's men was murdered by the natives upon the island of Tofooa. His name was John Norton, quarter-master of the Bounty, and he is spoken of as a man of worthy character, who supported an aged parent out of his wages. They killed him upon the beach, and stript the body, then dragged it up the country to one of their marlies, or lawns, and there left it exposed for two or three days before they buried it. This story was related by the islanders to Mr. Mariner, and they added, that from that time no grass had grown along the line where they dragged the corpse, nor upon the spot where it had lain while unburied. Such a tale induced him to visit the place, and he found a bare line, as they had stated, in a place where there could be no frequency of passers to have trodden a path, and at its termination a bare spot, İying transversely, about the length and breadth of a man. Dr. Martin observes, that such accounts, however trivial, deserve to be mentioned, and he explains the wonder, to his own satisfaction, by supposing that it is an old path which has been for some years disused, forgetful that such a solution fails to explain the manner in

which the path terminates. John Wesley would have believed it supernatural, and have classed the story with that of the Brothers' steps behind the Museum.

There is a cavern in the island of Hoonga which can only be entered by diving into the sea, and has no other light than is reflected from the bottom of the water. A young chief discovered it accidentally while diving after a turtle, and the use which he made of his discovery will probably be sung in more than one European language, so beautifully is it adapted for a tale in verse. There was a tyrannical governor at Vavaoo, against whom one of the chiefs formed a plan of insurrection: it was betrayed, and the chief, with all his family and kin, was ordered to be destroyed. He had a beautiful daughter betrothed to a chief of high rank, and she also was included in the sentence. The youth, who had found the caveru, and had kept the secret to himself, loved this damsel; he told her the danger in time, and persuaded her to trust herself to him. They got into a canoe; the place of her retreat was described to her on the way to it,--these women

n swim like mermaids, -she dived after him, and rose in the cavern; in the widest part it is about forty feet, and its medium height is guessed at the same, the roof hung with stalactites. Here he brought her the choicest food, the finest clothing, mats for her bed, sandal wood oil to perfume herself; here he visited her as often as was consistent with prudence; and here, as may be imagined, this Tonga Leander wooed and won the maid, whom, to make the interest complete, he had long loved in secret, when he had no hope. Meantime he prepared, with all his dependants male and female, to emigrate in secret to the Fiji islands. The intention was so well concealed that they embarked in safety, and his people asked him at the point of their departure if he would not take with him a Tonga wife; and accordingly, to their great astonishment, having steered close to a rock, he desired them to wait while he went into the sea to fetch her, jumped overboard, and just as they were beginning to be seriously alarmed at his long disappearance, rose with his mistress from the water. This story is not deficient in that which all such stories should have to be perfectly delightful,a fortunate conclusion. The party remained at the Fijis till the oppressor died, and then returning to Vavaoo enjoyed a long and happy life. This is related as an authentic tradition,-it may be 50;—but there are poets in the Tonga islands, and of no ordinary genius, as the following specimen will evince :—We have given it with no other variation from Dr. Martin's idiomatic version than what the English idiom requires, except where we have made it more literal by the help of his own vocabulary:

Let us walk to Licoo, that we may behold the going down of . VOL. XVI. NO, XXXIII.

the

breathless upon

the sup: we will listen to the whistling of the birds, and the moaning of the wood-pigeon. We will gather flowers near the precipice at Matawto; we will sit down and share the provisions brought us from Licoo Onë. We will bathe in the sea, and rinse in the Vaoo Aca, and anoint with sweet scented oil; we will string flowers, and plait the chi plucked at Matawto. While we are standing upon the precipice at Ana Manoo we will look down

the distant sea below. As our minds are reflecting the great wind whistles toward us from the great Toa trees in the inland upon the plains. My mind is enlarged beholding the surf below endeavouring in vain to tear away the firm rocks. It is evening; let us go to the Mooa (the town). Hark! I hear the band of the singers. Are they learning a boo-ola (a torch-light dance) for to-night on the Malai* (or lawn) at Tanea? Let us go there. We shall think of our former state when war had not torn our land. Alas,+ war is a terrible thing ! Behold the land is overgrown with bushes, and heaps of men are sadly dead. Our chiefs are unsettled, they shall not go often alone by moonlight to their mistresses. Let us forbear to think,-how can it be helped that our land is at war! The land of Fiji has brought the war to our land of Tonga, let us then act like the Fiji people. Let us forbear to think, perhaps we may be dead to-morrow. Let us dress with the chi-coola, and bind our waists with bands of the gnatoo; we will put on coronals of jiale-flowers and necklaces of hooni to display our sun-coloured skins. Hear the applause of the many people! Now the oola is ended, and they are distributing the food of the feast. To-morrow let us go to the Mooa. The young men beg eagerly for our wreaths;--this is their flattery: Our women coming from Licoo have no beauty: their sun-coloured skins are not fine! their fragrance is like the hill of Mataloco and Vybooa. I am eager to go to Licoo, let us go to-morrow,

The language appears to be singularly sweet: it abounds with vowels more than the Italian, the Greek, or the Welsh; their proportion to the number of consonants being nearly as four to three, and scarcely a single word ends in a consonant. Some of their songs have neither rhyme nor metre, others have both ; this is noticed in the manuscript journal before us,--as a specimen the officer wrote down one by ear, although ignorant of its meaning : we insert it in a note, the measure will be apparent to every reader;

Mr. * In the Narrative this word is always written Marly; in this place and in the Vocabulary it is spelt as above. We have noticed several little variations of this kind, which *10 persons will wonder at who have ever considered the difficulty of writing from the ear.

Their ejaculation may vie in euphony with any of the Greek interjections—it is
Oinone.

| 0 chicheto-O chiche matta la
O chicheto-Vette vala vala

Keonemar,

« PreviousContinue »