Manners & customs of S. Sea Islands
We have now seen 17 Islands in these Seas and been ashore upon 5 of the most principal ones. Of these the Language manners and customs have agreed almost exactly, I should therefore be tempted to conclude that those of the Islands we have not seen differ not materialy at least from them. The account I shall give of them is taken cheifly from Otahite where I was well acquainted with their most interior policy, as I found them to be a people so free from deceit that I trusted myself among them almost as freely as I could do in my own countrey, sleeping continualy in their houses in the woods with not so much as a single companion. Whither or not I am right in judging their manners and customs to be general throughout these seas any one who gives himself the trouble of reading this Journal through will be as good a Judge as myself.
All the Islands I have seen are very populous all along the sea coast, where are generaly large flats coverd with a vast many breadfruit and Cocoa nut trees. Here are houses almost every 50 yards with their little plantations of Plantains, the tree that makes their cloth &c . but the inland parts are totaly uninhabited except in the vallies where are rivers and even there are but a small propo[r]tion of people to what live upon the flats. They are of the larger size of Europaeans, all excellently made, and some handsome both men and women, the only bad feature they have is their noses which are in general flat, but to balance this their teeth are almost without exception even and white to perfection, and the eyes of the women especialy are full of expression and fire. In Colour they differ very much: those of inferior rank who are obligd in the excersise of their professions, fishing especialy, to be much exposd to the sun and air are of a dark brown; the superiors again who spend most of their time in their houses under shelter are seldom browner (the women especialy) than that kind of Brunette which many in Europe preferr to the finest red and white. Complexion indeed they seldom have tho some I have seen shew a Blush very manifestly; this is perhaps owing to the thickness of their skins, but that fault is in my opinion well compensated by their infinite smoothness much superior to any thing I have met with in Europe.
The men as I have before said are rather large, I have measurd one 6 feet 3½; the superior women are also as large as Europaeans but the inferior sort generaly small, some very small owing possibly to their early amours which they are much more addicted to than their superiors. Their hair is almost universaly black and rather coarse: this the women wear always cropt short round their ears, the men on the other hand wear it in many various ways, sometimes cropping it short, sometimes letting [it] grow very long and tying it at the top of their heads or letting it hang loose on their shoulders &c . Their beards they also wear in many different fashions always however plucking out a large part of them and keeping that that is left very clean and neat. Both sexes eradicate every hair from under their armpits and they look upon it as a great mark of uncleanliness in us that we did not do the same.
During our stay in these Islands I saw some not more than 5 or 6 who were a total exception to all I have said before. They were whiter even than us but of a dead Colour like that of the nose of a white horse; their eyes hair eyebrows and beards were also white; they were universaly short sighted and lookd always unwholesome, their skins scurfy and scaly and eyes often full of Rheum. As they had no two of them any connextions with one another I conclude that the difference of colour &c . was totaly accidental and did not at all run in families.
So much for their persons. I shall now mention their method of Painting their bodies or Tattow as it is calld in their language. This they do by inlaying the colour of Black under their skins in such a manner as to be indelible; every one is markd thus in different parts of his body according may be to his humour or different circumstances of his life. Some have ill designd figures of men, birds or dogs, but they more generaly have this figure Z eitheir simply, as the women are generaly marked with it, on every Joint of their fingers and toes and often round the outside of their feet, or in different figures of it as square, circles, crescents &c . which both sexes have on their arms and leggs; in short they have an infinite diversity of figures in which they place this mark and some of them we were told had significations but this we never learnt to our satisfaction. Their faces are in general left without any marks, I did not see more than one instance to the contrary. Some few old men had the greatest part of their bodies coverd with large patches of black which ended in deep indentations like coarse imitations of flame, these we were told were not natives of Otahite but came there from a low Island called Noouoora.
Tho they are so various in the application of the figures I have mentiond that both the quantity and situation of them seems to depend intirely upon the humour of each individual, yet all the Islanders I have seen (except those of Ohiteroa) agree in having all their buttocks coverd with a deep black; over this most have arches drawn one over another as high as their short ribbs, which are often ¼ of an inch broad and neatly workd on their edges with indentations &c . These arches are their great pride: both men and women shew them with great pleasure whether as a beauty or a proof of their perseverance and resolution in bearing pain I can not tell, as the pain of doing this is almost intolerable especialy the arches upon the loins which are so much more susceptible of pain than the fleshy buttocks.
Their method of doing it I will now describe. The colour they use is lamp black wich they prepare from the smoak of a kind of oily nutts usd by them instead of candles; this is kept in cocoa nut shells and mixt with water occasionaly for use. Their instruments for pricking this under the skin are made of Bone or shell, flat, the lower part of this is cut into sharp teeth from 3 to 20 according to the purposes it is to be usd for and the upper fastned to a handle. These teeth are dippd into the black liquor and then drove by quick sharp blows struck upon the handle with a stick for that purpose into the skin so deep that every stroke is followd by a small quantity of Blood, or serum at least, and the part so markd remains sore for many days before it heals.
I saw this operation performd on the 5th of July on the buttocks of a girl about 14 years of age; for some time she bore it with great resolution but afterwards began to complain and in a little time grew so outrageous that all the threats and force her freinds could use could hardly oblige her [to] indure it. I had occasion to remain in an adjoining house an hour at least after this operation began and yet went away before it was finished, tho this was the blacking of only one side of her buttocks the other having been done some weeks before.
It is done between the ages of 14 and 18 and so essential it is that I have never seen one single person of years of maturity without it. What can be a sufficient inducement to suffer so much pain is difficult to say; not one Indian (tho I have askd hundreds) would ever give me the least reason for it; possibly superstition may have something to do with it, nothing else in my opinion could be a sufficient cause for so apparently absurd a custom. As for the smaller marks on the fingers, arms &c they may be intended only for beauty; Our European ladies have found the Convenience of patches, and something of that kind is more usefull here, where the best complexions are much inferior to theirs, and yet whiteness is esteemd the first Essential in beauty.
They are certainly as cleanly a people as any under the sun except in their lousyness, every one of them wash their whole bodies in the running water as soon as they rise in the morn, at noon, and before they sleep at night; and if they have not such water near their houses as often happens, they will go a good way to it; as for their lice had they the means only they would certainly be as free from them as any inhabitants of so warm a climate could be. Those to whoom combs were given provd this, for those who I was best acquainted with kept themselves very clear while we staid by the use of them; as for their eating lice it is a custom which none but children and those of the inferior people can be chargd with. Their cloths also as well as their persons are kept almost without spot or stain; the superiour people spend much of their time in repairing, dying, &c the cloth, which seems to be a genteel amusement for the ladies here as it is in Europe.
Their Clothes are either of a kind of cloth made of the Bark of a tree, or matts of several different sorts. Of all these and their manner of making them I shall speak in another place, here I shall only mention their method of covering and adorning their Persons, which is of course most various as they never form dresses, or sew any two things together. It must be a peice of cloth which is generaly 2 yards wide and 11 long, is sufficient Clothing for any one, and this they put on in a thousand different ways, often very genteel. Their dress of form however is, in the women, a kind of Peticoat (Parou) wrappd round their hipps, and reaching about the middle of their leggs; 1, 2 or 3 peices of thick cloth about 2½ yards long and one wide (Te buta) through a hole in the middle of which they put their heads, and suffer the sides of it to hang before and behind them, the open edges serving to give their arms liberty of moving; round the ends of this, about as high as their wastes, are tied 2 or 3 large peices of thin Cloth, and sometimes another or two thrown over their shoulders loosely, for the rich seem to shew their greatest pride in wearing a large quantity of cloth. The dress of the men differs but little from this; their bodys are rather more bare, and instead of the petticoat they have a peice of Cloth passed between their leggs and round their waists (Maro) which keeps up the strictest rules of decency, and at the same time gives them rather more liberty to use their limbs than the womens dress will allow. Thus much of the richer people, the poorer sort have only a small allowance of cloth given them from the tribes or families to which they belong, and must use that to the best advantage
It is reckond no shame for any part of the body to be exposd to view except those which all mankind hide; it was no uncommon thing for the richest of the men to come to see us with a large quantity of cloth rolld round their loins, and all the rest of their bodies naked, tho the cloth wrappd round them was sufficient to have clothd a dozn people. The women at sun set always bard their bodys down to the navel, which seemd to be a kind of easy undress to them as to our ladies to pull off any finery that has been usd during the course of the day, and change it for a loose gown and capachin.
Both sexes shade their faces from the sun with little bonnets of cocoa nut leaves which they make occasionaly in a very few minutes, some have these made of fine matting but that is less common. Of matting they have several sorts, some very fine, which is usd in exactly the same manner as Cloth for their dresses, cheifly in rainy weather, as their cloth will not bear the least wett.
Ornaments they have very few, they are very fond of earings but wear them only in one ear. When we came they had them of their own, made of Shell, stone, berries, red pease, and some small pearls which they wore 3 tied together; but our beads very quickly supplyd their place; they also are very fond of flowers, especialy of the Cape Jasmine of which they have great plenty planted near their houses; these they stick into the holes of their ears, and into their hair, if they have enough of them which is but seldom. The men wear feathers often the tails of tropick birds stuck upright in their hair, they have also a kind of wiggs made upon one string of the hair of men, dogs, or Cocoa nut strings, which they tie under their hair upon the back of their heads; I have seen them also wear whimsical garlands made of a variety of flowers stuck into a peice of the rind of plaintain, or of scarlet pease stuck upon a peice of wood with gum, but these are not common. Their great pride of Dress seems to be centerd almost in what they call Tamou, which is human hair platted, scarce thicker than common thread, of this I may easily affirm that I have peices above a mile in lenght worked upon an end without a single Knot, and I have seen 5 or 6 of such peices wound round the head of one woman, the effect of which if done with taste was most becoming
Thus much of their common dresses, their dancing dresses I have describd in the Island of Ulhietea and that of the Heiva I shall when I come to their mourning ceremonies. They have also several more suited to particular ceremonies which I had not an opportunity of seeing, tho I was very desirous, as the singular taste of those promise much novelty at least if not something worth imitation in whatever they take pains with.
I had almost forgot the Oil with which they anoint their heads, monoe it is calld in their language, a custom more disagreable to Europeans than any other among them. This is made of Cocoa nut oil in which some sweet woods or flowers are infusd; the oil is most commonly very rancid and consequently the wearers of it smell most disagreably, at first we found it so but very little use reconcild me at least very compleatly to it. These people are free from all smells of mortality and surely rancid as their oil is it must be preferrd to the odoriferous perfume of toes and armpits so frequent in Europe.
The houses or rather dwellings of these people are admirably calculated for the continual warmth of their climate. They do not build them in villages or towns but seperate each from the other according to the size of the estate the owner of the house possesses; they are always in the woods and no more ground is cleard away for each house than is Just sufficient to hinder the Dropping of the branches from rotting the thatch with which they are coverd, so that you step from the house immediately under shade and that the most beautifull imaginable. No countrey can boast such delightfull walks as this, the whole plains where the people live are coverd with groves of Breadfruit and cocoa nut trees without underwood; these are intersected in all directions by the paths which go from one house to the other, so the whole countrey is a shade than which nothing can be more gratefull in a climate where the sun has so powerfull an influence. They are built without walls so that the air coold by the shade of the trees has free access in whatever direction it happens to blow. I shall describe one of the middle size which will give an Idea of all the rest as they differ scarce at all in fashion.
Its lengh was 24 feet, breadth 11, extreem high[t] 8½, hight of the eaves 3½; it consisted of nothing more than a thatchd roof of the same form as in England supported by 3 rows of posts or pillars, one on each side and one in the middle; the floor was coverd some inches deep with soft hay upon which here and there were laid matts for the convenience of setting down; this is almost the only furniture as few houses have more than one stool which is the
property of the master of the family and constantly usd by him, and most are intirely without. These houses serve them cheifly to sleep in and make their cloth &c ., they generaly Eat in the open air under the shade of the next tree if the weather is not rainy. The matts which serve them to set upon in the day time are also their beds at night; the Cloth which they wear in the day serves for covering, and a little wooden stool, block of wood or a bundle of cloth for a pillow. Their order is generaly this, near the middle lay the master of the house and his wife and with them the rest of the married people, next to them the unmarried women, next to them at some small distance the unmarried men; the Servants, Toutous as they are calld, generaly lay in the open air or if it rains come just within shelter. Thus all privacy is banishd even from those actions which the decency of Europaeans keep most secret: this no doubt is the reason why both sexes express the most indecent ideas in conversation without the least emotion; in this their language is very copious and they delight in such conversation beyond any other. Chastity indeed is but little valued especialy among the midling people; if a wife is found guilty of a breach of it her only punishment is a beating from her husband. Notwithstanding this some of the Eares or cheifs are I beleive perfectly virtuous. They indeed tho they have no decency in conversation have privacy; most or all of them have small houses which when they move are tied upon their Canoes; these have walls made of Cocoa nut leaves &c . in them they constantly sleep, man and wife, generaly lifting them off from their canoes and placing them on the ground in any situation they think proper.
Besides these there are another kind of houses much larger. One in our neighbourhood measurd lengh 162 feet, breadth 28½, high[t] of one of the middle row of pillars 18. These we conjecturd to be common to all the inhabitants of a district and raisd and kept up by their joint labour, of use maybe for any meetings or consultations, for the reception of any visitants of consequence, &c ; such we have also seen usd as dwelling houses by the very principal people, some of them much larger than this which I have here describd.
In the article of food these happy people may almost be said to be exempt from the curse of our forefather; scarcely can it be said that they earn their bread with the sweat of their brow when their cheifest sustenance Bread fruit
is procurd with no more trouble than that of climbing a tree and pulling it down. Not that the trees grow here spontaneously but if a man should in the course of his life time plant 10 such trees, which if well done might take the labour of an hour or thereabouts, he would as compleatly fulfull his duty to his own as well as future generations as we natives of less temperate climates can do by toiling in the cold of winter to sew and in the heat of summer to reap the annual produce of our soil, which when once gatherd into the barn must be again resowd and re-reapd as often as the Colds of winter or the heats of Summer return to make such labour disagreable.
may most truly be applied to these people; benevolent nature has not only supplyd them with nescessaries but with abundance of superfluities. The Sea about them in the neighbourhood of which they always live supplys them with vast variety of fish better than what is generaly met with between the tropicks, but these they get not without some trouble; every one desires to have them and there is not enough for all, tho while we remaind in these seas we saw
above [ ] species more perhaps than our own Island can boast of. I speak now only of what is more properly calld Fish; but almost every thing which comes out of the sea is eat and esteemd by these people, Shellfish, lobsters, Crabbs, even Sea insects and what the seamen call blubbers of many kinds conduce to their support. Some of the last indeed that are of a tough nature are prepard by suffering them to stink; custom will make almost any meat palatable and the women especialy are very fond of this, tho after they had eat it I confess I was not extreemly fond of their company.
Besides the Bread fruit the earth almost spontaneously produces Cocoa nuts, Bananas of 13 sorts the best I have ever eat, Plantains but indiffer[e]nt, a fruit not unlike an apple which when ripe is very pleasant, Sweet potatoes, Yamms, Cocos, another kind of Arum known in the East Indies by the name of Arum [ ], a fruit known there by the name of [Eug mallacc] and reckond most delicious, Sugar cane which the inhabitants eat raw, a root of the Salop kind Calld by the inhabitants Pea, the root also of a plant calld Ethee and a fruit in a Pod like a large Hull of a Kidney bean, which when roasted eats much like Chestnuts and is call[d] Ahee; besides a fruit of a tree which they call wharra in appearance like a pine apple, the fruit of a tree calld by them Nono, the roots and perhaps leaves of a fern and the roots of a plant calld Theve which 4 are eat only by the poorer sort of people in times of scarcity.
For tame animals they have Hogs, fowls and doggs, which latter we learn'd to eat from them and few were there of the nicest of us but allowd that a S-Sea dog was next to an English lamb; this indeed must be said in their favour that they live intirely upon vegetables, probably our dogs in England would not eat half as well. Their pork is certainly most excellent tho sometimes too fat, their fowls are not a bit better rather worse maybe than ours at home, often very tough.
Tho they seem to esteem flesh very highly yet in all the Islands I have seen the quantity they have of it is very unequal to the number of their people, it is therefore seldom usd among them. Even their most principal people have it not every day or even week, tho some of them had piggs that we saw quarterd upon different Estates as we send Cocks to walk's in England; when any of these kill a hog it seems to be divided almost equaly among all his dependands himself taking little more than the rest. Vegetables are their cheif food and of these they eat a large quantity. Cookery seems to have been little studied here: they have only two methods of applying fire, broiling, or baking as we calld it which is done thus. A hole is dug in depth and size according to what is to be prepard seldom exceeding a foot in depth, in this a heap is made of wood and stones alternately laid; fire is then put to it which by the time it has consumd the wood has heated the stones sufficiently just enough to discolour any thing which touches them. The heap is then divided; half is left in the hole the bottom of which is pavd with them, on them any kind of provisions are laid always neatly wrappd up in leaves, the whole is then coverd with leaves on which are laid the remaining hot stones then leaves again 3 or 4 inches thick and over them any ashes rubbish or dirt that lays at hand. In this situation it remains about 2 hours in which time I have seen a midling hog very well done, Indeed I am of opinion that victuals dressd this way are more juicy if not more Equably done than by any of our European methods, large fish more especialy. Bread fruit cookd in this manner becomes soft and something like a boild potatoe, tho not quite so farinaceous as a good one yet more so than the midling sort. Of this 2 or 3 dishes are made by beating it with a stone pestil till it make a paste, mixing water or Cocoa nut liquor with it and adding ripe plantains, bananas, sour paste &c .
As I have mentiond Sour paste I will proceed to de[s]cribe what it is. Bread fruit by what I can find remains in season only 9 or 10 of their 13 months so that a reserve of food must be made for those months when they are without it. To do this the fruit is gatherd when just upon the point of ripening and laid in heaps where it undergoes a fermentation and becomes disagreably sweet; the core is then taken out which is easily done as a small pull at the stalk draws it out intire, and the rest of the fruit thrown into a hole dug for that purpose generaly in their houses; the sides and bottom of which are neatly lind with grass; the whole is coverd with leaves and heavy stones laid upon them. Here it undergoes a second fermentation and becomes sourish in which condition it will keep as they told me many months. Custom has I suppose made this agreable to their palates tho we dislikd it extreemly, we seldom saw them make a meal without some [of] it in some shape or other.
As the whole making of this Mahai as they call it depends upon fermentation I suppose it does not always succeed. It is done at least always by the old women who make a kind of superstitious mystery of it. No one except the people employd by them is allowd to come even into that part of the house where it is; I myself spoild a large heap of it only by inadvertenly touching some leaves that lay upon it as I walkd by the outside of the house where it was. The old directress of it told me that from that circumstance it most certainly would fail and immediately pulld it down before my face, who did less regret the mischeif I had done as it gave me an opportunity of se[e]ing the preparation which perhaps I should not otherwise have been allowd to do.
To this plain diet prepard with so much simplicity salt water is the universal sauce; those who live at the greatest distance from the sea are never without it keeping it in large bamboes set up against the sides of their houses. When they eat a cocanut shell full of it always stands near them, into which they dip every morsel especialy of fish and often leave the whole soaking in it, drinking at intervals large supps of it out of their hands, so that a man may use ½ a pint of it at a meal. They have also a sauce made of the Kernels of cocoa nutts fermented till they dissolve into a buttery paste and beat up with salt water; the taste of this is very strong and at first was to me most abominably nauseous, a very little use however reconcild me intirely to it so much that I should almost preferr it to our own sauces with fish. It is not common among them, possibly it is thought ill management among them to use cocoa nuts so lavis[h]ly, or we were on the Islands at the time when they were scarce ripe enough for this purpose.
Small fish they often eat raw and sometimes large ones. I myself by being much with them learnt to do the same insomuch that I have made meals often of raw fish and bread fruit, by which I learnt that with my stomach at least it agreed as well as dressd and if any thing was still easier of digestion, howsoever contrary this may appear to the common opinion of the people at home.
Drink they have none but water and cocoa nut Juice, nor do they seem to have any method of Intoxication among them. Some there were who drank pretty freely of our liquors and in a few instances became very drunk but seemd far from pleasd with their intoxication, the individuals afterwards shunning a repitition of it instead of greedily desiring it as most Indians are said to do.
Their tables or at least apparatus for Eating are set out with great neatness tho the small quantity of their furniture will not admit of much Elegance. I will describe the manner in which one of their principal people is servd; they commonly eat alone unless some stranger makes a second in their mess.
He setts commonly under the shade of the next tree or on the shady side of the house; a large quantity of leaves either of Bread fruit or Banana are neatly spread before him which serves instead of a table cloth, a basket is then set by him which contains his provisions and two cocoa nut shells, one full of fresh water the other of salt. He begins by washing his hands and mouth thoroughly with the fresh water which he repeats almost continualy throughout the whole meal. He then takes part of his provision from the basket. Supose (as it often did) it consisted of 2 or 3 bread fruits, 1 or 2 small fish about as big as a perch in England, 14 or 15 ripe bananas or half as many apples: he takes half a breadfruit, peels of the rind and takes out the core with his nails; he then cramms his mouth as full with it as it can possibly hold, and while he chews that unlapps the fish from the leaves in which they remain tied up since they were dressd and breaks one of them into the salt water; the rest as well as the remains of the bread fruit lay before him upon the leaves. He generaly gives a fish or part of one to some one of his dependants, many of whoom set round him, and then takes up a very small peice of that that he has broke into the salt water in the ends of all the fingers of one hand and sucks it into his mouth to get with it as much salt water as possible, every now and then taking a small sup of it either out of the palm of his hand or the cocoa nut shell. In the mean time one of the standers by has prepard a young cocoa nut by peeling of the outer rind with his teeth (an operation which at first appears very surprizing to Europeans but depends so much upon a sl[e]ight that before we left the Islands many of us were ourselves able to do it, even myself who can scarce crack a nut) which when he chuses to drink he takes from him and boring a hole through the shell with his finger or breaking the nut with a stone drinks or sucks out the water. When he has eat his bread fruit and fish he begins with his plantains, one of which makes no more than a mouthful if they are as big as black puddings; if he has apples a shell is nescessary to peel them, one is pickd of the ground where they are always plenty and tossd to him, with this he scrapes or cutts off the skin rather awkwardly as he wastes almost half the apple in doing it. If he has any tough kind of meat instead of fish he must have a knife, for which purpose a peice of Bamboo is tossd him of which he in a moment makes one by splitting it transversly with his nail, with which he can cut tough meat or tendons at least as readily as we can with a common knife. All this time one of his people has been employd with a stone pestle and a block of wood beating breadfruit which by much beating and sprinkling with water he Reduces to the consistence of soft paste; he then takes a vessel made like a butchers tray and in it he lays his paste mixing it with either bananas sour paste or making it up alone according to the taste of his master; to this he adds water pouring it on by degrees and squeezing it often through his hand till it comes to the consistence of thick custard; a large cocoa nut shell full of this he then sets before his master who supps it down as we would do a custard if we had not a spoon to eat it with; and his dinner is then finishd by washing his hands and mouth, cleaning the cocoa nut shells and putting any thing that may be left into the basket again.
It may be thought that I have given rather too large a quantity of provision to my eater when I say he has eat 3 bread fruits each bigger than two fists, 2 or 3 fish and 14 or 15 plantains or Bananas, each if they are large 6 or 7 inches long and 4 or 5 round, and conclude his dinner with about a quart of a food as substantial as the thickest unbaked custard; but this I do affirm that it is but few of the many of them I was acquainted with that eat less and many a great deal more. But I shall not insist that any man who may read this should beleive it as an article of faith; I shall be content if politeness makes him think as Joe Millers freind said, 'Well Sir as you say so I beleive it but by g-d had I seen it myself I should have doubted it excedingly'.
I have said that they seldom eat together the better sort hardly ever, even two brothers or sisters have each their respective baskets one of which contains victuals the other cocoa nut shells &c . for furniture of their seperate tables. These were brought every day to our tents to those of our freinds who having come from a distance chose to spend the whole day or sometimes 2 or 3 in our company; these two relations would go out and setting down upon the ground within a few yards of each other turn their faces different ways and make their meals without saying a word to each other.
The women carefully abstain from eating with the men or even any of the victuals that have been prepard for them. All their victuals are prepard seperately by boys and kept in a shed by themselves where they are lookd after by the same boys who attend them at their meals; notwithstanding this when we visited them at their houses the women with whoom we had any particular acquaintance or freindship would constantly ask us to partake of their meals, which we often did, eating out of the same basket and drinking out of the same cup. The old women however would by no means allow the same liberty but would esteem their victuals polluted if we touchd them; in some instances I have seen them throw them away when we had inadvertently defil'd them by handling the vessels which containd them.
What can be the motive for so unsocial a custom I cannot in any shape guess, especialy as they are a people in every other instance fond of society and very much so of their women. I have often askd the reason of them but they have as often evaded the question or given me no other answer but that they did it because it was right, and expressd much disgust when I told them that in England men and women eat together and the same victuals; they however constantly affirm that it does not proceed from any superstitious motive, Eatua they say has nothing to do with it. But whatever the motive may be it certainly affects their outward manners more than their principles: in the tents for instance we never saw an instance of the women partaking of our victuals at our table, but we have several [times] seen them go 5 or 6 together into the servants apartment and there eat very heartily of whatever they could find, nor were they at all disturbd if we came in while they were doing [it] tho we had before usd all the intreatys we were masters of to invite them to partake with us. When a woman was alone she would often eat even in our company, but always took care to extort a strong promise that we should not let her countrey people know what she had done.
After their meals and in the heat of the day they often sleep, middle ag'd people especialy, the better sort of whoom seem to spend most of their time in eating or sleeping. The young boys and girls are uncommonly lively and active and the old people generaly more so than the middle ag'd ones, which perhaps is owing to the excessive venery which the heat of the climate and their dissolute manners tempt them to. Diversions they have but few: shooting with the bow is the cheif one I have seen at Otahite which is confind almost intirely to the cheifs; the[y] shoot for distance only with arrows unfledgd, kneeling upon one knee and dropping the bow from their hands at the instant of the arrows parting from it. I measurd a shot that Tubourai Tamite made, 274 yards, yet he complaind that as the bow and arrows were bad he could not shoot so far as he ought to have done. At Ulhietea bows were less common, but the people amusd themselves by throwing a kind of Javelin 8 or 9 feet long at a mark which they did with a good deal of force and dexterity, often striking the body of a plantain tree their mark in the very center, but I could never observe that either these or the Otahite people stakd any thing but seemd to contend merely for the honour of victory.Musick is very little known to them which is the more wonderfull as they are very fond of it. They have only two instruments the flute and the drum. The former is made of a hollow bamboo about a foot long in which is 3 holes; into one of these they blow with one nostril stopping the other with the thumb of the left hand, the other two they stop and unstop with the fore finger of the left and middle finger of the right hand; by this means they produce 4 notes and no more of which they have made one tune that serves them for all occasions, to which they sing a number of songs pehay as they call them generaly consisting of two lines affecting a coarse metre and generaly in Rhime. May be they would appear more musical if we well understood the accent of their language but are as downright prose as can be wrote. I shall give two or 3 specimens of songs made upon our arrival:
Te de pahai de parow-a
Ha maru no mina.
E pahah Tayo malama tai ya
No Tabane tonatou whannomiya
E Turai eattu terara patee whennua toai
Ino o maio Pretane to whennuaia no Tute.
At any time of the day when they are lazy they amuse themselves by singing these couplets but especialy after dark. Their candles are then lighted which are made of the kernel of a nut abounding much in oil; many of these are stuck upon a skewer of wood one below the other and give a very tolerable light which they often keep burning an hour after dark and if they have many strangers in the house it is sometimes kept up all night - a kind of guard maybe upon the chastity of the ladies who upon such occasions are very shy of receiving any mark of regard from their lovers.
Their Drumms they manage rather better: they are made of a hollow block of wood coverd with sharks skin, with these they make out 5 or 6 tunes and accompany the flute not disagreably; they know also how to tune two drums of Different notes into concord which they do nicely enough. They also tune their flutes if two play upon flutes which are not in unison, the short one is leng[t]hned by adding a small roll of leaf which is tied round the end of it and movd up and down till their ears (which are certainly very nice) are satisfied. The drumms are usd cheifly in their heivas which are at Otahiti no more than a set of musicians, 2 drums for instance two flutes and two singers, who go about from house to house and play; they are alway receivd and rewarded by the master of the family who gives them a peice of cloth or whatever else he can best spare and while they stay, 3 or 4 hours maybe, receives all his neighbours who croud his house full. This diversion the people are extravagantly fond of most likely because like concerts asemblys &c . in Europe they serve to bring the Sexes easily together at a time when the very thoughts of meeting has opend the heart and made way for pleasing Ideas. The grand Dramatick heiva which we saw at Ulhietea is I beleive occasionaly performd in all the Islands but that I have so fully Describd in the Journal of that Island Augst ye 3d 7th and 8th that I need say no more about it. Besides this they dance especialy the young girls whenever they can collect 8 or 10 together, singing most indecent words using most indecent actions and setting their mouths askew in a most extrordinary manner, in the practise of which they are brought up from their earlyest childhood; in doing this they keep time to a surprizing nicety, I might almost say as true as any dancers I have seen in Europe tho their time is certainly much more simple. This excercise is however left off as soon as they arrive at Years of maturity for as soon as ever they have formd a connection with a man they are expected to leave of Dancing Timorodee as it is calld.
One amusement more I must mention tho I confess I hardly dare touch upon it as it is founded upon a custom so devilish, inhuman, and contrary to the first principles of human nature that tho the natives have repeatedly told it to me, far from concealing it rather looking upon it as a branch of freedom upon which they valued themselves, I can hardly bring myself to beleive it much less expect that any body Else shall. It is this that more than half of the better sort of the inhabitants of the Island have like Comus in Milton enterd into a resolution of enjoying free liberty in love without a possibility of being troubled or disturbd by its consequences; these mix together with the utmost freedom seldom cohabiting together more than one or two days by which means they have fewer children than they would otherwise have, but those who are so unfortunate as to be thus begot are smotherd at the moment of their birth. Some of these people have been pointed out to me by name and on being askd have not denyd the fact, who have contracted intimacies and livd together for years and even now continue to do so, in the course of which 2, 3 or more children have been born and destroyd.
They are calld Arreoy and have meetings among themselves where the men amuse themselves with wrestling &c . and the women with dancing the indecent dances before mentiond, in the course of which they give full liberty to their desires but I beleive keep strictly up to the appearances of decency. I never was admitted to see them, one of our gentlemen saw part of one but I beleive very little of their real behavior tho he saw enough to make him give credit to what we had been told.
This custom as indeed it is natural to suppose Owes as we were told its existence cheifly to the men. A Woman howsoever fond she may be of the name of Arreoy and the liberty attending it before she conceives, generaly desires much to forfeit that title for the preservation of her child: in this she has not the smallest influence; if she cannot find a man who will own it she must of course destroy it; and if she can, with him alone it lies whether or not it shall be preserv'd: sometimes it is, but in that case both the man and woman forfeit their title of Arreoy and the privelege annext thereunto, and must for the future be known by the term Whannownow, or bearer of children: a title as disgracefull among these people as it ought to be honourable in every good and well governd society. In this case the man and woman generaly live together as man and wife for the remainder of their lives.
The great facility with which these people have always procurd the nescessaries of life may very reasonably be thought to have originaly sunk them into a kind of indolence which has as it were benumbnd their inventions, and prevented their producing such a variety of Arts as might reasonably be expected from the aproaches they have made in their manners to the politeness of the Europeans. To this may also be added a fault which is too frequent even among the politest nations, I mean an invincible attachment to the Customs which they have learnt from their forefathers which these people are indeed in this degree excusable for: they derive their original not from Creation but from the womb of an inferior divinity who was herself with those of equal rank descended from the God Causer of Earthquakes; they therefore look upon it as a Kind of Sacriledge to attempt to amend Customs which they suppose to have had their original either from their deities or their first ancestors, who they hold as little inferior to the divin[i]ties themselves.
The thing in which they shew the most ingenuity is the making and dying of their Cloth: in the description of these especialy the latter I shall be rather diffuse, as I am not without hopes that my countrey men may receive some advantage either from the things themselves or at least by hints derivd from them.
The Material of which it is made is the interior bark or liber of 3 sorts of trees, the Chinese paper mulberry Morus Papyrifera, the Breadfruit tree Sitodium altile, and a tree much resembling the wild fig tree of the west Indians Ficus prolixa. Of the first which is calld by them Äouta the finest and whitest cloth is made which is worn cheifly by the principal people, it is likewise the properest for dying especialy with the Colour of red; of the second which is calld by them ooroo is made a cloth inferior to the former in whiteness and softness, worn cheifly by people of inferior degree; of the third which is much the most rare is made a coarse harsh Cloth of the colour of the deepest brown paper, which is the only one they have that at all resists water. It is much valued, the greatest quantity of it is perfumd and usd by the most principal people as a Morning dress.
These three trees are cultivated with much care especialy the former which covers the largest part of their cultivated land. Young plants of them only are us'd of 1 or 2 years growth, whose great merit is to be thin, streight, and tall, without branches; to prevent the growth of which they pluck off with great care all the lower leaves and their Gemms, as often as there is any appearance of a tendency to produce branches. Their Method of manufacturing the Bark is the same in all the sorts: one description of it will therefore be Sufficient: first then, the thin cloth they begin to make thus. When the trees are arrivd at a sufficient size they are drawn up and the roots and topps cut of and strippd of their leaves; the best of the Aouta are in this state about 3 or 4 feet long and as thick as a mans finger but the ooroo are considerably larger. The bark of these rods is then slit up longitudinaly and in this manner drawn off the stick; when all are stripd the bark is carried to some brook or running water into which it is laid to soak with stones upon it and in this situation it remains some days. When sufficiently soakd the women servants go down to the river, and stripping themselves set down in the water and scrape the peices of bark, holding them against a flat smooth board, with the shell calld by the English shell merchants Tygers tongue Tellina Gargadia, dipping it Continualy in Water untill all the outer green bark is rubbd and washd away and nothing remains but the very fine fibres of the inner bark. This work is generaly finishd in the afternoon; in the evening these peices are spread out upon Plantain leaves. In doing this I suppose there is some dificulty as the mistress of the family generaly presides, all that I could observe was that they laid them 2 or 3 layers thick, and seemd very carefull to make them every where of equal thickness; so that if any part of a peice of Bark was scrapd thinner than it ought, another peice of the same thin quality was laid over it, in order to render it of the same thickness as the next. When laid out in this manner the size of the peice of cloth [is] 11 or 12 yards long and not more than a foot broad, for as the longitudinal fibres are all laid lenghwise they do not expect it to stretch in that direction tho they well know how considerably it will in the other. In this state they suffer it to remain till morning, by which time a large proportion of the water with which when laid out it is thouroughly soakd is either draind off or evaporated and the fibres begin to adhere together, so that the whole may be lifted from the ground without dropping in peices. It is then taken away by the women servants who beat it in the following manner: they lay it upon a long peice of wood one side of which is very Even and flat, which side is put under the Cloth; as many women then as they can muster or as can work at the board begin; each is furnishd with a battoon made of a very hard wood calld by the natives Etoa (Casuarina equisetifolia) these are about a foot long and square with a handle; on each of the 4 faces of the square are many small furrows of as many different fineness, in the first or coarsest not more than  in the finest one  which cover the whole face of the side. With the coarsest then they begin, keeping time with their strokes in the same manner as smiths or Anchor smiths, and continue until the Cloth which extends itself very fast under these strokes shews by the too great thinness of the Grooves which are made in it that a finer side of the beater is requisite; in the same manner they proceed to the finest side with which they finish, unless the Cloth is to be of that very fine sort which they call Hoboo which is almost as thin as muslin. For the making of this they double the peice several times and beat it out again and afterwards bleach it in the sun and air which in these Climates cause whiteness in a very short time, but I beleive that the finest of their Hoboo does not come to either its whiteness or softness untill it has been worn some time, then washd and beat over again with the very finest beaters. Of this thin cloth they have as many different sorts almost as we have of Linnen, distinguishing it into different finenesses and the different materials of which it is made. Each peice is from 9 to 15 yards in lengh and about 2 and a half broad and serves them for Cloths in the day and bedding at night. When by use it is sufficiently worn and become dirty it is carried to the river and washd, cheifly by letting it soak in a gentle stream fasned to the bottom by a stone, or if very dirty wringing it and squeesing it gently; several of the peices of Cloth so washd are then laid on each other and being beat with the coarsest side of the beater adhere together and become a cloth as thick as coarse broad cloth, then which nothing can be more soft or delicious to the feel. This however is not the case with it immediately after being beat: it is then stiff as if newly starchd and some parts not adhering together as well as others it looks ragged, and is also of various thicknesses wherever any faults were in the Cloth from whence it was made; to remedy this is the business of the mistress of the family and principal women of it, who in this, and dying, seem to amuse themselves as our English women do in making Caps, ruffles, &c ; and in this they spend the greatest part of their time. They are furnishd with each a k[n]ife made of a peice of Bamboo cane, to which they make, by splitting it diagonally with their nails, an edge which with great ease cuts any kind of cloth or soft substance; and a certain quantity of a Paste made of the root of a Plant which serves them also for food, and is calld by them Pea (Chaitaea Tacca): with the former they cut off any ragged edges or ends which may not have been sufficiently fixd down by the Beating; and with the Paste they fasten down others which are less ragged, and also put on patches upon any part which may be thinner than the rest, generaly finishing their work, if intended for the best, by pasting a compleat covering of the finest thin Cloth or Hoboo over the whole. They make the thick Cloth also sometimes of thin, only half worn, and which having been worn by cleanly people is not soild enough to require washing; of this it is sufficient to paste the Edges together, which is done with the same paste. This thick cloth, made in either of these ways, is usd either for the garment calld Maro, which is a long peice passd between the legs and round the waste that serves instead of breeches; or the Tebuta as it is calld, a garment usd equally by both sexes instead of a Coat or gown, which exactly resembles that worn by the inhabitants of Peru and Chili that is calld by the Spanyards Poncho.
The cloth itself both thick and thin resembles most the finest cottons in softness especialy in which article it even exceeds them. Its tenderness (for it tears by the smallest accident) makes it very impossible that it can ever be usd in Europe; indeed it is properly adapted to a hot climate; I usd it to sleep in very often in the Islands and always found it far cooler than any English cloth, and that it much prevented perspiration or else, by drying it up immediately, the disagreable sensation of it.
Having thus describd their manner of making the Cloth I shall proceed to their method of dying it. They have principaly two Colours in which they excell, Red and Yellow; the first of these is most beautifull, I might almost venture to say a more delicate colour than any we have in Europe, aproaching however nearest to Scarlet; the second is a good bright colour but of no particular excellence. They also upon some occasions dye brown and black but so seldom that I had not an opportunity during my stay to see the methods or learn the materials which they make use of; I shall therefore say no more of these Colours than that they were so indifferent in their qualities that they did not much raise my curiosity to enquire concerning them.
To begin then with the red, in favour of which I shall premise that I beleive no Voyager has past these seas but he has said something in praise of this colour, the brightness and elegance of which is so great that it cannot avoid being taken notice of by the slightest observer. This colour is made by the admixture of the Juices of two vegetables neither of which in their seperate state have the least tendency to the colour of Red, nor have any Parts of them that I have at least been able to observe any circumstance relating to them from whence any one should be led to conclude that the colour of red was at all latent in them. They are Ficus tinctoria which is calld by them Matte the same name as the colour and Cordia Sebestena orientalis calld Etou; of these the fruits of the first and the leaves of the second are usd in the following manner.
The fruits which are about as large as a rounceval pea or very small Gooseberry, produce upon breaking off the stalk close to them each one drop of a milky liquor resembling the Juice of a fig tree in Europe, for indeed the tree itself is a kind of wild fig tree. This liquor the women collect, breaking off the footstalk and shaking the drop which hangs to the little fig into a small quantity of cocoa nut water: to sufficiently prepare a gill of Cocoanut water will require 3 or 4 quarts of the little figs, tho I never could observe that they had any rule in Proportioning the quantity except observing the Cocoa nut water, which was to be of a Whey colour when a sufficient quantity of the Juice of the little figs was mixd among it. When this liquor is prepard the leaves of the Etou are brought which are well wetted in it, they are then laid upon a CY 3006A \ 433
Plantain leaf and the Women begin first gently to turn and shake them about; afterwards as they grow more and more flaccid by this operation to squeese them a little, increasing the pressure gradualy, all which is done merely to prevent the leaves from breaking; still as they become more flaccid and spongy they supply them with more of the juice. In about 5 minutes the Colour begins to appear on the Veins of the leaves of the Etou and in 10 or a little more all is finishd and ready for straining, at which time they press and squeese the leaves as hard as they possibly can. The method of straining is this: they have for the purpose a large quantity of the fibres of a kind of Cyperus Grass (Cyperus stupeus) calld by them Mooo, which the boys prepare very nimbly by Drawing the stalks of it through their teeth or between two little sticks until all the green bark and the branny substance which lays between them is gone. In a covering of these fibres then they invelop the leaves and squeesing or wringing them strongly express the dye which turns out very little more in quantity than the liquor employd; this operation they repeat several times, soaking as often the leaves in the dye and squeesing them dry again until they have sufficiently extracted all their virtue, when they throw away the remaining leaves keeping however the Möoo which serves them instead of a brush to lay the colour upon the Cloth. The receptacle usd for the liquid dye is constantly a Plantain leaf, whether from any property it may have agreable to the colour, or the great ease with which they are always got and the facility of dividing one and making of it many small cups in which the dye may be distributed to every one in company I do not know. Their method of laying it on the Cloth is this: they take it up in the fibres of the Möoo and rubbing that gently over the Cloth spread the outside of it with a thin coat of dye. This of the thick cloth, the thin they very seldom dye more than the edges of; some indeed I have seen dyed through as if it had been soakd in the dye, but had not near so elegant a colour as that on which a thin coat only was laid on the outside.
Though the Etou leaf is the most generaly usd and I beleive produces the finest colour, yet there are several more which being mixd with the Juice of the little figs produce a red colour, as Tournefortia Sericea which they call Taheinoo; Convolvulus brasilienis, Pohue the Eurhe; Solanum latifolium, Ebooa. From the use of these different plants or from different proportions of materials many varieties of the colour are observable among their cloths, some of which are very conspicuously superior to others.
When the women have been employd in dying cloth they industriously preserve the colour upon their fingers and nails upon which it shews with its greatest beauty. They look upon this as no small ornament and I have been sometimes inclind to beleive that they even borrow the dye of each other merely for the purpose of dying their fingers; whether it is esteemd as a beauty, a mark of their housewifry in being able to dye, or their riches in having cloth to dye I know not.
Of what use this preparation may be of to my Countreymen either in itself or in any hints which may be drawn from an admixture of vegetable substances so totaly different from any thing of the kind that is practis'd in Europe, I am not enough vers'd in Chymistry to be able to guess, I must however hope that it will be of some. The latent qualities of vegetables have already furnishd our most valuable dyes; no one from an inspection of the Plants could guess that any coulour was hid under the herbs of Indigo, Woad, Dyers weed, or indeed the most of the Plants whose leaves are usd in dying, and yet those latent qualifications have when discoverd produc'd Colours without which our dyers could hardly go on with their Trades.
The Painter whoom I have with me tells me that the nearest imitation of the colour that he could mak[e] would be by mixing together vermilion and Carmine, but even that would not equal the delicacy of it tho a body colour, and the Indian only a stain in the way that the Indians use it. I can not say much for its standing: they commonly keep their cloth white till the very time when it is to be us'd and then dye it as if conscious that it would soon fade. I have however usd Cloth dy'd with it myself for a fortnight or three weeks, in which time it has very little alterd itself and by that time the Cloth was pretty well wore. Of it I have also some now in chests which a month ago when I lookd into them had very little alterd their colour; the admixture of fixing drugs would however certainly not a little conduce to its standing.
So much for their Red: their yellow though a good colour has certainly no particular excellence to recommend it in which it is superior to our known Yellows: it is made of the bark of the Root of a shrub calld by them Nono (Morinda umbellata) this they scrape into water and after it has soakd there a sufficient time strain the water and dip the cloth into it. The wood of the root is no doubt furnishd in some degree with the same property as the Bark but not having any vessels in which they can boil it it is useless to the inhabitants. The genus of Morinda seems worthy of being examind as to its propertys in dying; Browne in his hist of Jamaica mentions 3 species whose roots he says are usd to dye a brown colour, and Rumphius says of his Bancudus angustifolia, which is very nearly allied to our Nono, that it is usd by the inhabitants of the East Indian Islands as a fixing drug for the colour of red with which he says it particularly agrees.
They also dye Yellow with the fruits of a tree calld by them Tamanu (Calophyllum Inophyllum) but their method I never had the fortune to see; it seems however to be cheifly esteemed by them for the smell which it gives to the cloth, a smell that is more agreable to an Indian than a Europaean nose.
Besides their cloth the women make several kinds of matting which serves them to sleep upon, and the finest for cloths: with the last they take much pains, especialy with that sort which is made of the Bark of the Tree calld by them Poorou, Hibiscus tiliaceus, of which I have seen matting almost as fine as coarse cloth. But the most beautifull sort, calld by them Vanne, which is white and extreemly glossy and shining is made of the leaves of a sort of Pandanus calld by them Wharra, of which we had not an opportunity of seing either flowers or fruit. The rest of their Möeäs as they call them which serve to set down or sleep upon are made of a variety of sorts of Rushes, grass &c : these they are extreemly nimble in making and indeed every thing which is platted, baskets of a thousand different patterns, some very neat &c . As for occasional Baskets or Paniers made of a Cocoa nut leaf, or the little Bonnets which they wear to shade the eyes from the sun of the same material, every one knows how to make them at once; as soon as the sun was pretty high the women who had been with us since morning sent generaly out for cocoa nut leaves of which they made such bonnets in a few minutes, which they threw away as soon as the sun became again low in the afternoon. These however serve merely for a shade, coverings to their heads they have none except their hair for these bonnets or shades only fit round their heads not upon them.
Besides these things they make netts for fishing in the same manner as we do, Ropes of about an inch, and lines, of the Poorou; threads with which they sew together their canoes, and also belts, of the fibres of the Cocoa nut, platted either round or flat very neatly; all their twisting work they do upon their thighs in a manner very dificult to describe and indeed unnecessary, as no European can want to learn how to do an operation which his instruments will do for him so much faster than it possibly can be done by hand. But of all the strings that they make none are so excellent as the fishing lines &c . which are made of the bark of a kind of frutescent nettle calld by them Erowa (Urtica argentea) which grows in the mountains and is consequently rather scarce; of this they make the lines which are employd to take the briskest and most active fish as bonetos, Albecores &c . As I never made experiments with it I can only ascertain its strengh by saying that it was infinitely stronger than silk lines which I had on board made by the best fishing shops in London, tho not so thick by almost half.
In every expedient for taking fish they are vastly ingenious. Their Seines, netts for fish to mesh themselves in &c . are exactly like ours: they strike fish with harpoons made of Cane and pointed with hard wood in a more dextrous manner than we can do with ours that are headed with Iron, for we who fasten lines to ours need only lodge them in the fish to secure it, while they on the other hand throwing theirs quite from them must either mortaly wound the fish or loose him. Their hooks indeed as they are not made of Iron must be very different from ours in construction. They [are] of two sorts, first that calld by them Witte witte which is usd for towing, of which fig 1 is the profile and fig 2 the view of the bottom part. The shank (a) is made of mother of Pearl the most glossy that can be got, the inside or naturaly bright side of which is put undermost as in fig 2; (b) is a tuft of white dogs or hogs hair which serves may be to imitate the tail of a fish. These hooks require no bait. They are usd with a fishing rod of Bamboo; the people who go out with them having found by the flights of birds which constantly attend shoals of Bonetos where they are, Paddle their Canoes as swift as they can across them and seldom fail to take some. This Indian invention seems far to exceed any thing of the kind which I have seen among Europaeans, and is certainly more successful than any artificial flying fish or other thing which is generaly usd for the taking of Bonitos, so far it deserves imitation at any time when the taking of Bonitos is at all desirable.
The other sort of hooks which they have are made likewise of mother of Pearl or some hard shell, and as they can not make them bearded as our hooks they supply that fault by making the points turn much inwards as in the annexd figure; they hae them of all sizes and catch with them all kinds of fish very successfully I beleive. The manner of making them is very simple, every fisherman makes them for himself. The shell is first cut by the edge of another shell into square peices; these are formd with files of Coral which work in a manner surprizing to any one who does not know how sharp Corals are; a hole is then bord in the middle by a drill which is no more than any stone that may have a sharp corner in it tied to a hand[l]e of cane, which is turnd in the hand like a Chocolate mill untill the hole is made; the file then comes into the hole and compleats the hook which is done in such a one as the figure shews in less than a quarter of an hour.
In their carpenters, joiners and stone cutters work &c . they are almost as little obligd to the use of tools as in making these hooks: an axe of Stone in the shape of an adze, a chisel or gouge made of a human bone, a file or rasp of Coral, skin of Sting rays, and coral sand to polish with, are a sufficient set of tools for building a house and furnishing it with boats, as well as for quarrying and squaring stones for the pavement of any thing which may require it in the neighbourhood. Their stone axes are made of a black stone not very hard but tolerably tough; they are of different sizes, some that are intended for felling weigh 3 or 4 Pounds, others which are usd only for carving not so many ounces. Whatever these tools want in goodness is made up by the industry of the people who use them. Felling a tree is their greatest labour, a large one requires many hands to assist and some days before it can be finishd, but when once it is down they manage it with far greater dexterity than is credible to an Europaean. If it is to be made into boards they put wedges into it, and drive them with such dexterity (as they have told me - for I never saw it) that they divide it into slabs of 3 or 4 inches in thickness, seldom meeting with an accident if the tree is good. These slabs they very soon dubb down with their axes to any given thinness; in this work they certainly excell; indeed their tools are better adaptd for it than any other performance; I have seen them dubb of the first rough coat of a plank at least as fast as one of our carpenters could have done it; and in hollowing, where they have liberty to raise large floors of the wood, they certainly work quicker, owing to the weight of their tools: those who are masters of this business, will take of a surprizing thin coat from a whole plank, without missing a stroke; they can also work upon a peice of wood of any shape as well as they can upon a flat one, for in making their canoes every peice is formd first into its proper shape, bilging or flat: for as they never bend a Plank all the bilging peices must be shap'd by hand which is done intirely with axes. They have small axes for carving also but all their carvd work was so bad and in so very mean a taste that it scarce deservd that name. Yet they love much to have carvd work and figures stuck about their canoes, the great ones especialy, which generaly have a figure of a man at the head and another at the stern of them. Their marai's also are ornamented with different kinds of figures, one sort of which represent many men standing on Each others heads; they have also the figures of animals, and Planks whose faces are carvd in patterns of squares and circles &c . but every part of their carving is in an equaly bad taste. All their work however acquires a certain neatness in the finishing for they polish every thing, even the side of a canoe or a Post of a house, with Coral sand rubbd on in the outer husk of a Cocoa nut and rays skin, which makes them very smooth and neat.
Their Boats all at least that I have seen of them may be divided into two general classes. The first which are calld by the natives Ivahah are the only sort which are usd at Otahite; they serve for fishing, and for short trips to sea but do not at all seem calculated for long ones. The others again which are calld Pahei and are usd by the inhabitants of the Societies Isles viz. Ulhietea, Bola Bola, Huaheine &c . are rather too clumsey for fishing, for which reason the inhabitants of those Isles have also Ivahas but are much better adapted for long voyages than the others. The figure below gives a section of both the kinds of which fig. I is the Ivahah and fig. II the Pahei. To begin then with the Ivahah these boats differ very much in lengh, I have measurd them from 10 ft to 72, but by no means proportionaly in breadth, for that of 10 feet was about 1 in breadth and that of 72 scarce 2, nor is their hight increasd in a much greater proportion. They may be subdivided into three sorts, the fighting ivahah, the common sailing or fishing ivahah, and the traveling ivahah. The fighting Ivahah is by far the largest; the head and stern of these boats are considerably raisd above the body of them in a semicircular form, the latter especialy which is 17 or 18 feet in hight when the body of the boat is scarcely 3. These boats never go to sea singly: two are always fastned together side by side at the distance of about 2 feet by strong poles of wood [which] go across them, and upon them is built a stage in the fore part, about 10 or 12 feet long and a little broader than the two boats; this is supported by pillars about 6 feet high and upon it stand the people who fight with slings, spears &c ; below are the rowers who are much less engagd in the battle on account of their confind situation but who receive the wounded from the stage and furnish fresh men to ascend in their room. This much from description for I never saw any of their battles. The Sailing and fishing Ivahahs vary in size from about 40 feet in lengh to the smallest I have mentiond, but those which are under 25 feet in lengh seldom or never carry sail; their Sterns only are raisd and those not above 4 or 5 feet; their heads are quite flat and have a flat board projecting forwards beyond them about 4 feet. Those which I have calld traveling Ivahas differ from these in nothing but their being constantly joind 2 and 2 together in the same manner as the fighting ones, and having a small neat house 5 or 6 feet broad and 7 or 8 long fastned upon the fore part of them, in which the principal people, who use them very much, set when they are carried from place to place. The sailing Ivahas have also sometimes this house upon them when they are joind two and two together, which is but seldom however; indeed the difference between these two consists almost intirely in the rigging, and I have divided them into two more because they are generaly seen employd in very different occupations than from any real difference in their built. All Ivahas however agree in that they are built wall sided and with flat bottoms, in which they differ from the Pahie fig. II: whose sides are built rounding out, or bilging as it is calld, and her bottom sharp which answers in some measure instead of a Keel.
These Pahies differ very much in size. I have seen them from 60 to 30 feet in lenght but like the Ivahas they are very narrow in proportion to their lengh: one that I measurd was 51 feet in lengh, in breadth at the top (a) only 1½ ft and in the bilge (b) 3 feet, which is about the general proportion; their round sides however make them capable of carrying much greater burthens and being much more safe sea boats, in consequence of which they are usd merely for fighting and making long voyages; for the purposes of fishing and traveling along shore the natives of the Islands where these are cheifly usd have Ivahas. The fighting Pahies which are the largest are fitted in the same manner as the fighting Ivahas, only as they carry far greater burthens the stages are proportionaly larger. The Sailing ones are most generaly fastned two and two together: for this purpose the middling sizd ones are said to be the best and least liable to accidents in stormy weather; in these if we may credit the reports of the inhabitants they make very long voyages, often remaining out from home several months, visiting in that time many different Islands of which they repeated to us the names of near a hundred. They cannot however remain at sea above a fortnight or 20 days tho they live as sparingly as possible, for want of proper provisions and places to put them in safe, as well as water of which however they carry a tolerable stock in hollow Bamboes.
All these imbarkations which indeed are all that I saw us'd in any of the Islands are disproportionaly narrow in respect to their lengh, Which causes them to be so very Easily overset that not even the Indians dare venture in them till they are fitted with a contrivance to prevent this inconvenience; which is done either by fastening two together side by side as has been before describd, in which case one supports the other and they become the most steady Veh[i]cle that can be imagind, or if one of them is to go out single a log of wood fas[t]ned to two poles which are tied across the boat serves to balance it tolerably, tho not so securely but that I have seen the Indians overset them very often. This is upon the same principles as that usd in the flying Proa of the Ladrone Isles describd in Ld Ansons voyage, where it is calld an outrigger; indeed the vessels themselves enough resemble the flying Proa to make it appear at least possible that either that is a very artfull improvement of these or these a very aukward imitation of that.
These boats are paddled along with large paddles which have a long handle and a flat blade resembling more than any thing I recollect a Bakers peel; of these generaly every one in the boat has one except those who set under the houses and with these they push themselves on pretty fast through the water. They are so leaky however that one person at least is employd almost constantly in throwing out the water. The only thing in which they excell is landing in a surf, for by reason of their great lengh and high sterns they would land dry in a surf when our boats could scarcely land at all, and in the same manner put off from the shore as I have often experienc'd.
When fitted for sailing they have either one or two Masts fitted to a frame which is above the canoe; they are made of a single stick; in one that I measurd of 32 feet in lengh the mast was 25 ft high which seems to me to be about the common proportion. To this is fastned a sail of about one third longer but narrow, of a triangular shape, pointed at the top and the outside curvd; it is borderd all round with a frame of wood and has no contrivance either for reefing or furling, so that in case of bad weather it must be intirely cut away, but I fancy in these moderate climates they are seldom brought to this necessity; the material of which it is made is universaly Matting. With these sails their Canoes go at a very good rate and lay very near the wind, probably on account of their sail being borderd with wood which makes them stand better than any bowlines could possible do. On the top of this sail they carry an ornament which in taste resembles much our Pennants, it is made of feathers and reaches down to the very water so that when blown out by the wind it makes no inconsiderable shew. They are indeed fond of ornaments in all parts of their boats; they commonly in the good ones have a figure at the stern; in the Paheis which rise rounding both at the head and stern they have a figure at both, and the smaller ivahas have commonly a small carvd pillar standing upon their stern.
Considering these people as intirely destitute of Iron they build these Canoes very well. Of the Ivahas the foundation is always the trunks of one or more trees, hollowd out; the ends of these are Slopd off, and sewd together with the fibres of the Husk of the cocoanut; the sides of them are then raisd with plank, sewd together in the same manner. The Paheis as they are much better embarkations so they are built in a more ingenious manner. Like the others they are laid upon a long keel which however is not above 4 or 5 inches deep; upon this they raise with two ranges of Plank each of which is about 18 inches high and about 4 feet in lengh. Such a number of peices must necessarily be framd and fitted together before they are sewd and this they do very dexterously, supporting the Keel by ropes made fast to the top of the house under which they work and then each plank by a stantion: so that the canoe is compleatly put together before any one part of her is fastned to that which is next to it, and in this manner supported till the sewing is compleated. This however soon rotts in the salt water: it must be renewd once a year at least, in doing which the canoe is intirely taken to peices and every plank examind, by which means they are always in good repair. The best of them are however very leaky for as they use no calking the water must run in at every hole through which the sewing is past; this however is no great inconvenience to them who live in a climate where the water is always warm, and go barefoot.
For the convenience of keeping these Paheis dry we saw in the Islands where they are usd a peculiar sort of houses which were built on purpose for their reception, and put to no use but that; they are built of Poles stuck upright in the ground and tied together at the top so that they make a kind of Gothick arch; the sides of these are compleatly coverd with Thatch down to the ground but the ends are left open. One of these I measurd, 50 paces in lengh, 10 in breadth and 24 feet high, and this was of the midling size.
The people excell much in predicting the weather, a circumstance of great use to them in their short voyages from Island to Island. They have many various ways of doing this but one only that I know of which I never heard of being practisd by Europaeans, that is foretelling the quarter of the heavens from whence the wind shall blow by observing the Milky Way, which is generaly bent in an arch either one way or the other: this arch they conceive as already acted upon by the wind, which is the cause of its curving, and say that if the same curve continues a whole night the wind predicted by it seldom fails to come some time in the next day; and in this as well as their other predictions we found them indeed not infallible but far more clever than Europaeans.
In their longer Voyages they steer in the day by the Sun and in the night by the Stars. Of these they know a very large part by their Names and the clever ones among them will tell in what part of the heavens they are to be seen in any month when they are above their horizon; they know also the time of their annual appearing and disapearing to a great nicety, far greater than would be easily beleivd by an Europaean astronomer.
For their Method of dividing time I was not able to get a compleat Idea of it, I shall however set down what little I know. In speaking of Time either past or to come they never use any term but Moons, of which they count 13 and then begin again: this of itself sufficiently shews that they have an Idea of the Solar year but how they manage to make their 13 months agree with it I never could find out: that they do however I beleive because in mentioning the names of months they very frequently told us the fruits that would be in season in each of them, the sort of weather that was usual in them &c . They have also a name for the 13 months collectively but they never use it in speaking of time, they use it only in explaining the mysteries of their religion: in their metaphorical way they say that the Year Tettowmatatayo was the daughter of their cheif Divinity Taroataihetoomoo and that she in process of time brought forth the months, who in their turn produc'd the days, of which they count 29 in every month including one on which the moon is invisible. Every one of these has its respective name and is again subdivided into 12 parts containing about 2 hours each, 6 for the day and 6 for the night, each of which has likewise its respective name; in the day time they guess the divisions of these parts very well, but in the night tho they have the same number of divisions as in the day seem very little able to tell at any time which of them it then is, except the cleverer among them who know the stars.
In counting they proceed from 1 to 10, having a different name for each number; from thence they say one more, 2 more &c . till the number 20, which after being calld in the general count 10 more acquires a new name, as we say a score; by these scores they count till they have got 10 of them, which again acquires a new name, 200; these again are counted till they get 10 of them, 2000; which is the largest denomination I have ever heard them make use of and I suppose is as large as they can ever have occasion for, as they can count 10 of these 20,000 without any new term.
In measures of space they are very poor, indeed one fathom and ten fathoms are the only terms I have heard among them; by these they convey the size of any thing as a house, a boat, depth of the sea &c ; but when they speak of distances from one place to another they have no way but time of making themselves understood, but by the number of days it takes them in their canoes to go the distance.
Their Language appeard to me to be very soft and tuneable, it abounds much with vowels and was very easily pronounc'd by us when ours was to them absolutely impracticable. I shall instance particularly my own name which I took much pains to teach them and they to learn: after three days fruitless trials I was forc'd to select from their many attempts the word Tabáne, the only one I had been able to get from them that had the least similitude to it. Again Spanish or Italian words they pronouncd with ease provided they ended with a vowel, for few or none of theirs end with a consonant.
I cannot say that I am enough acquainted with it to pronounce whether or not it is copious. In one respect however it is beyond measure inferior to all European languages, which is its almost total want of inflexion both of Nouns and verbs, few or none of the former having more than one Case or the latter one tense. Notwithstanding this want however we found it very easy to make ourselves understood in matters of common necessaries, howsoever paradoxical that may appear to an European.
The[y] have certain Suffixa and make very frequent use of them, which puzzled us at first very much tho they are but few in number. An instance or two may be necessary to make myself understood as they do not exist in any modern European language. One asks another Harre hea? where are you going? the other answers Ivahinera, to my Wives; on Which the first questioning him still farther Ivahinera? to your wives do you say? is answered Ivahinereia, Yes I am going to my wives. Here the suffixa era and eia save several words to both parties.
From the vocabularies given in Le Mair's voyage (See Histoire des navigations aux Terres australes Tom 1. p.410) it appears clearly that the Languages given there as those of the Isles of Solomon and the Isle of Cocos are radicaly the identical same languages as those we met with, the greatest number of words differing in little but the greater number of consonants. The languages of New Guinea and Moyse Isle have also many words Radicaly the same, particularly their Numbers, tho they are so obscurd by a multitude of consonants that it is scarce possible that they should be found out by any but one in some measure acquainted with one of the Languages; for instance
New Guinea Hissou fish, is found to be the same as the Otahite Eia by the medium of Ica of the Isles of Solomon; Talingan ears, in Otahite Terrea; Limang a hand, Lima or Rima; Paring cheeks Paparea; Isle of Moyse Sou Sou Breasts, Eu; Mattanga Eyes, Mata. They calld us says the author Tata, which in Otahite signifies men in general; besides several more.
That the people who inhabit this numerous range of Isles should have originaly come from one and the same place and brought with the[m] the same numbers and Language, which latter especialy have remaind to this time not materialy alterd, is in my opinion not at all past beleif, but that the Numbers of the Island of Madagascar should be the same as all these is almost if not quite incredible. I shall give them from a book calld a Collection of voyages by the Duch East India Company Lond. 1703. p. 116, where supposing the author Who speaks of ten numbers and has only nine to have lost the fifth their similarity is beyond dispute.
|Madagascar||Otahite||Cocos Isle||New Guinea|
It must be rememberd however that the author of this voyage during the course of it touchd at Java and several more of the East Indian Isles as well as Madagascar, so that supposing by any misarangement of his papers that he has given the numerals of some of those Isles for those of Madagascar our wonder will be much diminishd; for after having tracd them from Otahite to New Guinea it should seem not very wonderfull to carry them a little farther to the East Indian Isles, which from their situation seem not unlikely to be the place from whence our Islanders originaly have come; but I shall wave saying any more on this subject till I have had an opportunity of myself seeing the customs &c of the Javans, which this Voyage will in all probab[i]lity give me an opportunity of doing.
All the Isles I was upon agreed perfectly as far as I could understand them; the people of Ulietea only chang'd the t of the Otahiteans to a k, calling Tata which signifies a man or woman Kaka, a circumstance which made their Language much less soft. The people of Ohiteroa as far as I could understand their words which were only shouted out to us seemd to do the same thing, and add many more consonants and harshness's which made their Language still more untuneable. I shall give a few of their words from whence an Idea may be got of their language.
|Eupo||the Head||Booa||a hog|
|Roourou||the Hair||Eurèe||a dog|
|Nihëo||the teeth||Ooroo||Bread fruit|
|Arrero||the Tongue||Hearee||Cocoa nuts|
|Tiarraboa||the throat||Vaèe||wild Plantanes|
|Tuah||the Back||Poe Matawewwe||Pearl|
|Öima||the Breast||ahow||a garment|
|Eu||the Nipples||Avee||a fruit like apples|
|Oboo||the Belly||ahee||another like Chestnuts|
|Rema||the arm||Ewharre||a house|
|Aporema||the hand||Whennua||a high Island|
|Manneow||the fingers||Motu||a low one|
Among people whose dyet is so simple and plain Distempers cannot be suppos'd to be so frequent as among us Europeans, we observd but few and those cheifly cutaneous as erysipelas and scaly eruptions upon the skin. This last was almost if not quite advanc'd to Leprosy; the people who were in that state were secluded from society, living by themselves each in a small house built in some unfrequented place where they were daily supplyd with provisions; whither these had any hopes of releif or were doom'd in this manner to languish out a life of solitude we did not learn. Some but very few had ulcers upon different parts of their bodies, most of which lookd very virulent; the people who were afflicted with them did not however seem much to regard them, leaving them intirely without any application even to keep off the flies. Acute distempers no doubt they have but while we stayd upon the Island they were very uncommon, possibly in the rainy season they are more frequent. Among the numerous acquaintance I had upon the Island only one was taken ill during our stay; her I visited and found her as is their custom left by everybody but her three children who sat by her; her complaint was cholick which did not appear to me at all violent; I askd her what medicines she took, she told me none and that she depended intirely upon the preist who had been trying to free her from her distemper by his prayers and ceremonies, which she said he would repeat till she was well, shewing me at the same time Branches of the (Thespesia Populnea) which he had left with her. After this I left her and, whether by the ceremonies of the preist or the goodness of her constitution I know not, in three days time she came down to our tents compleatly recoverd.
I never hapned to be present when their preists performd their ceremonies for the cure of sick people, but one of our gentlemen who was informed me that it consisted in nothing but the preist repeating certain fixd sentences during which time he platted the leaves of the Cocoa nut tree into different figures, neat enough, some of which he fas[t]ned to the fingers and toes of the sick man, who [was during] the time uncoverd as in respect to the prayers, the whole ceremony almost exactly resembling their method of praying at the Marai's which I shall by and by describe. That they have however besides these operations of Preistcraft a knowledge of Medecine not to be despis'd we were abundantly convinc'd of by the following fact. The Spanish ship which visited this Island about 17 months before we came brought with it the Venereal disease and that in a most virulent degree; these people have often describd to me in most pathetick terms the shocking symptoms with which the poor wretches were afflicted who were first seizd by this filthy distemper, which in their Language they call by a name of Nearly the same but a more extensive signification than rotteness in English; their hair and nails dropd off and their very flesh rotted from their bones so that they dyed miserable objects shunnd by their nearest relations, fearfull least they themselves might be tainted with the dreadfull Contagion. Yet shocking as these symptoms were they had even at the time when we came there found a method of cure and that I should suppose not of a despicable nature, as we saw no one during the whole of our stay in whoom the distemper arrivd to any hight and some who went from us for their cure returnd in a short time perfectly recover'd. When first we discoverd this distemper among these people we were much alarmd, fearing that we ourselves had notwithstanding our many precautions brought it among them; but upon strict inquiry we found that one of our people had been infected within 5 days after our arrival and when we a little better understood the Language the natives explaind the matter fully to us.
That they have skillfull Chirurgeons among them we easily gatherd from the dreadfull scars of wounds which we frequently saw that had been cur'd, some of which were far greater than any I have seen any where else, and these were made by stones which these people know how to throw with slings with great dexterity and force. One man I particularly recolect whose face was almost intirely destroyd, his nose one cheek and one eye being beat in and all the bones there flatted down so that the hollow would receive a mans fist, yet this dreadfull wound was heald clean without any ulcer remaining. Tupia who has had several wound[s] has had one made by a spear of his countrey headed with the bone of a stingrays tail which has peircd quite through his body, entering at his back and coming out just under his breast, yet this has been so well curd that the remain[in]g scar is as smooth and as small as any I have seen from the cures of our best European surgeons.
Vulnerary herbs they have many, nor do they seem at all nice in the choice of them so they have plenty of such herbaceous plants as yeild mild juices devoid of all acridity, such as chickweed groundsell &c . in England. With these they make fomentations which they frequently apply to the wound, taking care to cleanse it as often as possible, the patient all the time observing great abstinence; by this method if they have told us true their wounds are curd in a very short time. As for their medicines we learn'd but little concerning them; they told us indeed freely that such and such plants were good for such and such distempers, but it requird a much better knowledge of the language than we were able to obtain during our short stay to understand the method of application even of those they attempted to explain to us.
Their Manner of Disposing of their dead as well as the ceremonies relating to their mourning for them are so remarkable that they deserve a very particular description. As soon as any one is dead the House is immediately filld with their relations who bewail their Loss with Loud lamentations, especialy those who are the farthest removd in blood from or who profess the least greif for the deceasd; the nearer relations and those who are realy affected spend their time in more silent sorrow, while the rest join in Chorus's of Greif at certain intervals between which they laugh, talk and gossip as if totaly unconcernd; this lasts till day light on the Morn after their meeting, when the body being shrowded in their cloth is laid upon a kind of Bier on which it can conveniently be carried upon mens shoulders. The priests office now begins; he prays over the body, repeating his sentences, and orders it to be carried down to the sea side; here his prayers are renewd, the Corps is brought down near the waters edge and he sprinkles water towards but not upon it, it is then removd 40 or 50 yards from the sea and soon after brought back and this ceremony repeated which is done several times. In the mean time a house has been built and a small space of ground round it raild in; in the center of this house are posts set up for the supporting of the bier which as soon as the ceremonies are finishd is brought here and set upon them, where the Corps is to remain and putrifie in state to the no small disgust of every one whose business requires them to pass near it.
These houses of corruption, Tu papow as they are calld here, are of a size proportionate to the rank of the Person containd in them; if he is poor they merely cover the bier and these generaly have no railing round them, the largest I ever saw was 11 yards in lengh. They are ornamented according to the abilities and inclinations of the surviving relations, who never fail to lay a profusion of Good Cloth about the body and often almost cover the outside of the house; the two ends which are open are also hung with kind of garlands of the Fruits of the Palm nut (Pandanus) Cocoa nut leaves knotted by the Preists in kind of Mystick knots, and a plant calld by them Ethee no ta Marai (terminalia) which is particularly consecrated to funerals. Near the House is also laid fish, fruits and cocoa nut or Common water or such provisions as can well be spard, not that they suppose the dead any way capable of eating this provision, but think that if any of their gods should descend upon that place and being hungry find that these preparations had been neglected he would infalibly satisfy his appetite with the flesh of the dead corps.
No sooner is the corps fixd up within the House or ewhatta as they call it than the ceremony of mourning begins again. The women (for the men seem to think lamentations below their dignity) assemble Led on by the nearest relation, who walking up to the door of the House swimming almost in tears strikes a sharks tooth several times into the crown of her head, on which a large effusion of blood flows, which is carefully caught in their linnen and thrown under the Bier. Her example is imitated by the rest of the women and this ceremony is repeated at the interval of 2 or 3 days as long as the women chuse or can keep it up, the nearest relation thinking it her duty to Continue it longer than any one else. Besides the blood which they beleive to be an acceptable present to the deceasd, whose soule they beleive to exist and hover about the place where the body lays observing the actions of the survivors, they throw in Cloths wet with tears, of which all that are shed are carefully preservd for that purpose, and the younger people cut off their hair either all or in part and throw that also under the Bier.
When these ceremonies have been performd for two or three days the men, who till now seemd to be intirely insensible of their loss, begin their part which the Nearest relations take in turns. They dress themselves in a dress so extrordinary that I question whether words can give a tolerable Idea of it, I therefore refer intirely to the annexd figure. In this dress they patrole the woods early in the morn and late at night, preceeded by 2 or 3 boys who have nothing upon them but a small peice of Cloth round their wrists and are smutted all over with Charcoal; these sable emissaries run about their principal in all directions as if in pursuit of people on whoom he may vent the rage inspird by his sorrow, which he does most unmercifully if he catches any body, cutting them with his stick the edge of which is set with sharks teeth, but this rarely or never happens for no sooner does this figure appear than every one who see either him or his emissaries fly inspird with a sort of religious awe, fly with the utmost speed, hiding wherever they think themselves the most safe but by all means quitting their Houses if they lie even near the path of this dreadfull apparition.
These ceremonies continue for 5 moons decreasing however in frequency very much towards the latter part of that time. The body is then taken down from the ewhatta, the bones washd and scrapd very clean, and burried according to the rank of the person either within or without some one of their Marais or places of publick worship; and if it is one of their Earees or cheifs his Scull is preservd and being wrappd up in fine Cloth is plac'd in a kind of case made for that purpose which stands in the marai. The mourning then ceases unless some of the women who find themselves more than commonly afflicted by the Loss repeat the ceremony of Poopooing or bleeding themselves in the head, which they do at any time or in any place where they happen to be when the whim takes them.
The ceremonies however are far from Ceasing at this time. Frequent prayers are to be said by the preist and frequent offerings made for the benefit of the deceasd, or more properly for that of the Preists who are well paid for their prayers by the surviving relations. During this ceremony Emblematical devices are made use of: a young plantain tree signifies the Deceased and a bunch of feathers the Deity invokd; opposite to this the preist places himself often attended by relations of the deceasd and always furnish'd with a small offering of some kind of Eatables intended for the God; he begins by adressing the God by a set form of sentences and during the time he repeats them employs himself in weaving Cocoa nut leaves into different forms, all which he disposes upon the Grave where the bones have been deposited; the Deity is then adressed by a shrill scritch usd only on that occasion and the offering presented to his representative, the little tuft of feathers, which after this is removd and every thing else left in statu quo, to the no small Emolument of the Rats who quickly devour the offering.
Religion has been in ages, is still in all Countreys Cloak'd in mysteries unexplicable to human understanding. In the South Sea Islands it has still another disadvantage to present to any one who has a desire to investigate it - the Language in which it is conveyd, at least many words of it, are different from those usd in common conversation, so that tho Tupia often shewd the greatest desire to instruct us in it he found it almost impossible; in short it is only needfull to remember how dificult it would be to reconcile the apparent inconsistencies of our own religion to the faith of an infidel, and to recolect how many excellent discourses are daily read to instruct even us in the faith which we profess, as articles of excuse in my favour when I declare that I know less of the religion of these people than of any other part of their policy. What I do know however I shall here write down wishing that inconsistencies may not appear to the eye of the candid reader as absurdities.
This Universe and its marvelous parts must strike the most stupid with a desire of knowing from whence themselves and it were producd. Their Preists however have not Ideas sufficiently enlarg'd to adopt that of Creation: that this world should have been originaly created from nothing far surpasses their comprehension. They observd however that every animal and every plant producd new ones by procreation and adopted the Idea; hence it is necessary to suppose two original beings one of whom they call Ettoomoo and the other which they say was a rock Tepapa; these at some very remote period of time, and by the common means allowd to us males and females their children, begat all that is seen or known of by us; some things however they imagine have increasd among themselves, as the Stars, the different species of plants, and even the different divisions of Time; the Years say they producd the Months who intermingling with each other produc'd the days.
The First man say they was the Issue of a Connection between two of their inferior deities or Eatuas who at that time inhabited the Earth. He was when first born round like a ball but his mother with great care drew out each Limb and formd him as we now are, after which he was Calld Eothe which signifies finishd. When he arrivd at maturity the Stings of nature made him very desirous of Excersising those faculties with which the males of all animals are indued; his mother was the only female he could find and consequently the Object of his attempts; ignorant however what part of her he was in search of he made several unsuccessfull efforts, at Last however chance leading him right he begat a daughter whoom also he compressd and begat another, nor could for several generations have one son; at last however he had one who by the asistance of his many Sisters peopled this world and is the ancestor of us all.
Their Gods are numerous; they are divided into two Classes, the Greater and the Lesser Gods and of each Class are some of Both Sexes. The cheif of all is Tarroati'ettoomoo the procreator of all things whoom they emphaticaly stile the Causer of Earthquakes; his Son Tane was however much more generaly calld upon as supposd to be the more active deity. The Men worshipd the male Gods and the Women the Females, the Men however supply the office of Preist for both sexes.
They beleive in a heaven and a hell, the first they call Tairua l'orai the other Tiahoboo. Heaven they describe as a place of Great happines and hell is only a place enjoying less of the luxuries of life; to this they say that the souls of the interior people go after death and those of the cheifs and rich men to the other. This is one of the strongest instances to shew that their religion is totaly independent of Morality: no actions regarding their neighbours are supposd to come at all under the Cognizance of the Deity, a humble regard only is to be shewn him and his assistance askd on all occasions with much Ceremony and some sacrafice, from whence are derivd the Perquisites of the Preists.
The Tahowa or Preist is here a hereditary Character. They are numerous and all ranks of People have preists among them, the cheif is generaly however the younger brother of some very Good Family and is respected in a degree next to their kings. All ranks of preists are commonly more learned than the laity; their learning consists cheifly in knowing well the names and ranks of the different Eatuas or divinities, the origin of the universe and all its parts &c ; these things have been handed down to them in set sentences of which those who are clever can repeat an almost infinite number, in doing in which few words occur the same as those usd in common conversation, which greatly increasd the dificulty we found in Gaining a knowledge of their Theology.
Besides religion the Practise of Physick and the knowledge of Navigation and Astronomy is in the Possession of the Preists. The name indeed of preist, Tahowa, signifies a Man of Knowledge, so that even here the Preists Monopolize the greatest part of the learning of the Countrey in much the same manner as they formerly did in Europe; the practise of which gains them profit as well as respect each in his particular order, for each order has preists of its own nor will the preists of the Manahounies do any thing for a Toutou who is below them in rank.
Marriage is [in] these Islands no more than an agreement between the man and the woman totaly independent of the preist, it is in general I beleive pretty well kept unless they agree to seperate, which is done with as little trouble as they came together. Few people however enter this state but rather chuse freedom in their Amours, tho bought at the inhuman expence of murthering their children, whose fate is in that case intirely dependant on the father; who if he does not chuse to acknowledge both them and the woman and engage to contribute his part towards their support, orders them to be strangled which is instantly put in execution.
If our preists have excelld theirs in persuading us that the Sexes can not come lawfully together without having bought their benediction, they have done it by intermingling it so far with religion that the fear of punishment from above secures their power over us; but these untaught parsons have securd to themselves the profit of two operations without being driven to the necessity of so severe a penalty on the refusal, viz. Tattowing or painting their bodies and Circumsizing. Neither of these can be done by any but preists, and as the highest degree of shame follows the wanting either the people are as much necessitated to make use of them as if bound by the highest ties of Religion, of which both customs are totaly independent. For the first they give no reason but that their ancestors did the same, for the other Cleanliness in hot climates always will be a sufficient reason. For both these operations they are paid by every one according to his abilities in the same manner as weddings Christnings &c &c . are paid for in Europe.
Their places of publick worship, which they call Marai, are square enclosures of very different sizes, from 10 to 100 yards in diameter; at one end of these is a heap or built up pile of stones near which the bones of the principal people are interrd, those of their dependants laying all round on the outside of the wall. Near or in these enclosures are often placd planks carvd into different figures and very frequently images of many men standing on each others heads; these however are in no degree the objects of adoration, every prayer and sacrafise being here offerd to the Invisible deities.
Near or even within the Marai are one or more large altars raisd upon high posts 10 or 12 feet above the ground which are calld Whatterow: on these are laid the offerings, Hogs, dogs, fowls, fruits or what ever else the piety or superfluity of the owner thinks proper to dedicate to the gods.
Both these places are reverencd in the highest degree, no man aproaches them without taking his Cloths from off his shoulders and no woman is on any account permitted to enter them. The women however have Marais of their own where they worship and sacrifice to their Godesses.
Of these Marais each family of consequence has one which serves him and his dependants; as each family values itself upon its antiquity so are these esteemd. In the Society Isles especialy Ulhietea were some of great antiquity particularly that of Tapodeboatea; the building of these is rough and coarse but the stones of which they are composd immensely large. At Otahite again where either from frequent wars or other accidents many of the most ancient families are extinct they have tried to make them as elegant and expensive as possible, of which sort is that of Oamo describd in the Journal of going round the Island.
Besides their Gods each Island has a Bird to which the Title of Eatua or God is given, for instance Ulietea has the Heron and Bola Bola a kind of Kingfisher; these birds are held in high respect and by no means killd or molested. They are thought to be givers of Good or Bad fortune but no kind of Worship is offerd to them.
Tho I dare not assert that these people, to whoom the art of writing and consequently of Recording Laws &c . is totaly unknown, live under a regular form of Goverment, Yet the Subordination which takes place among them very much resembles the early state of the feudal laws by which our Ancestors were so long Governd, a System evidently formd to secure the Licentious Liberty of a few while the Greater part of the Society are unalterably immersd in the most abject Slavery.
Their Orders are Earee ra hie which answers to King; Earee, Baron; Manahouni, Vassel; and Toutou, Villain. The Earee ra hie is always the head of the Best family in the countrey; to him great respect is paid by all ranks but in Power he seemd to us inferior to several of the Principal Earees, nor indeed did he once appear in the transacting of any part of our business. Next to him in Rank are the Earees, each of whoom hold one or more of the Districts into which the Island is divided (in Otahite there may be about 100 such districts); which are by the Earees parceld out to the Manahounies, who cultivate each his part and for the use of it owe their Cheif service when calld upon and provisions, especialy when he travels, which he often does accompanied by many of his freinds and their families often amounting to near 100 principals beside their attendants. Inferiour to the Manahounes are the toutous who are upon almost the same footing as the Slaves in the East indian Islands, only that they never appeard to us transferrable from one to the other; these do all kinds of Laborious work, till the land, fetch wood and water, dress the victuals, under the direction however of the Mistris of the family, catch fish &c . Besides these are the two classes of Erate and Towha which seem to answer to Yeoman and Gentleman as they came between Earee and Manahouni; but as I was not acquainted with the existence of these classes during our stay on the Island I know little of their real situation.
Each of the Earees kept a kind of Court and hade a large attendance cheifly of the Younger brothers of their own family and of other Earees; among these were different officers of the Court, as Heewa no t'Earee Whanno no t'Earee, who were sometimes sent to us upon business. Of all these Courts Dootahah's was the most splendid, indeed we were almost inclind to believe that he acted as Locum tenens for Otou the Earee rahie, his nephew, as he livd upon an estate belonging to him and we never could hear that he had any other publick place of residence.
The Earees or rather the districts which they Possess are obligd in time of a general attack to furnish each their Quota of soldiersfor the service of the Publick. Those of the Principal districts which Tupia recolected when added together amounted to 6680 men to which army it is probable that the small Quotas of the rest would not make any great addition.
Besides these publick wars, which are to be headed by the Earee ra hie, any private difference between two Earees is decided by their own people without at all disturbing the tranquility of the Publick. Their weapons are Slings which they use with great dexterity, pikes headed with the stings of sting Rays, and Clubbs of 6 or 7 feet long made of a very heavy and hard wood. With these they fight by their own account very obstinately, which appears the more probable as the Conquerors give no Quarter to Man Woman or Child who is unfortunate enough to fall into their hands during or for some hours after the Battle, that is till their Passion is subsided.
Otahite at the time of Our being there was divided into two Kingdoms, Oporeonoo the larger and Tiarrebo the smaller. Each had its seperate king &c . &c . who were at Peace; the king of Oporeonoo however Calld himself king of both in just the Same manner as most European Monarchs usurp the Title of king over kingdoms over which they have not the least influence.
It is not to be expected that in a Goverment of this kind Justice can be strictly administerd, we saw indeed no signs of Punishments during our stay. Tupia however always insisted upon it that Theft was punishd with death and smaller crimes in proportion: in cases of Adultery the offenders were in the power of the offended party who if he takes them in the fact frequently kills them both. All punishments however were the business of the injurd party, who if superior to him who committs the crime easily executes them by means of his more numerous attendants; equals seldom chuse to molest each other unless countenancd by their superior who assists them to defend their unjust acquisitions. The cheifs however to whoom in reality all kinds of Property belong punish their dependants for crimes committed against each other, and the dependantsof others if caught doing wrong within their districts.