« AnteriorContinuar »
throughout this festive exhibition of agility and joy; which terminated only with the dawn.
“ After amusing ourselves for many days on this island, and receiving the most friendly attentions from the chiefs, Malkaamair's son fixed a period for our return; and a number of canoes assembled to accompany us.
“At day-break we took leave of the old chief, whom we had visited, and his young female relation, whom I had espoused, and sailed off for Tongataboo, which lay at the distance of sixty or seventy miles. The canoes sailed at the rate of six or seven miles in an hour, and brought us to the shores of Tonga in the evening; where we all repaired to our respective districts.
"I was charmed on my return with ihe Aurishing appearance of my plantation. The bread-fruit, cocoa and plantain trees, had already shot forth branches, which promised, ere long, to cast around them a friendly shade. Some bread-fruit trees, almost as large as the oak, had indeed spread their sheltering arms for years near the
spot where I built iny fallee; and now their fruits hung in clusters amongst the branches, some as large as a boy's head, full grown, and exuding a gum; others turned yellow, through ripeness, and the gum dried up. These fruits, when cut into four parts, and baked like potatoes in the fire, in a kind of oven, formed a good substitute for bread, while the ripe cocoa-nuts supplied me with both meat and drink of a delicious favour, and the plantains furnished me with a refreshing desert aiter dinner. The oven which they use is a hole dug in the ground, the sides obliquely sloped: in this they kindle a fire, on which they place some stones; as soon as these are red hot, they draw the burnt sticks from under them, and, spreading the stones, place their provisions on them: they then lay some sticks prepared for the purpose across the hole to k ep it hollow, and cover them with plantain and other broad and long leaves; on which they heap grass and sods, to confine the heat. In this manner their provisions are cooked in the course of half an hour. I have seen a pig of the weight of fourteen or sixteen stone sufficiently baked in one of these ovens in the space of four hours.
“The rows of sugar canes which I had planted on each side the path leading to the high road, had shot up to the height of eiglit or ten feci; and now they embowered and entwined theinselves, so as to form a shady walk. I had improved upon the method of planting them, usual with the natives. They cut the stalk of a cane into two or three pieces, and planted them nearly upright in the ground; these shot forth stems at the lower knots, hut decayed at the top. I planted them lengthways, in furrows, and thus succeeded in obtaining suckers from every knot.
“By this expedient my plantation of canes so increased after a time, that I had abundance for my own use, and for presents to my friends. My little farm was a garden throughout. Many came to offer themselves for workmen, as my land was free from fadongyeer, or tax un labour, and my labourers met with kind treatment. I willingly received them, as I took much pleasure in agriculture; and the chiefs perceiving my industry and success, and entertaining a friendship for me, gave me permission to cultivate lots of land adjoining to my own; and, ere long, I purchased some fields bordering upon my abbee, so that at last it comprised fifty acres; and my own household sometimes contained no less than thirt persons. So great was the fertility of my abbee, that I had vams, cocoa-nuts, and plantains, in such abundance, that even in the hungry season, or time of scarcity, after making liberal presents to my neighbours, and feasting my own family with daili plenty, the fruits were left to drop off the trees. I mention this circumstance, also, to show the honesty of the natives, and their regard for strangers. Though they thought it rather a commendabli dexterity, than a crime, to rob European articles, because so rare and valuable, yet they would not plunder the plantation of another, especially that of a stranger. Many of the natives around who were pressed with want, came to beg the fruits of my estate. The abbie was robbed however but once, and that was by one man of the lowest order. He was detected by some other natives, who with great dexterity, discovered that he was the person who had stolen some pines and plantains from my abbee, by bringing the fruits to the trees, from which they had been robbed, and filling them to the branches where they had been broken off. Se great is their severity against a plunderer of the plantations, that they would have put him to death, had not I interposed: but they would not be satisfied without tying him up and fugging him.
“The umbrageous walk, which my thick-set hedge of canes soon formed, was the admiration of all who saw it. It was my pleasure to trim my little shrubbery, and keep it clean and neat: and its delicious fruits and cooling shade, amply repaid me for my trouble. When wearied with labour, in my fields, I found great refreshment in walking or reclining in my embowering harbour of canes, and sucking the juicy sugar they contained. I used to break off a cane at the root, snap it into two or three parts, and, stripping down the cane, suck the pith, which was saturated with the sweet juice.
“The cane, when grown to perfection, was as thick as four fingers; but the chiefs were so fond of it, that they would not refrain from eating it till it arrived at maturity. It was a common amusement with them, to chew it for hours together.
“I much enjoyed my embowering walk of canes. I wish I could say, that while I sat under its shadow with great delight, and its "fruit was sweet to my taste," I had meditated with a grateful heart on Him, of whom these words imply, that his favour refreshes the wearied soul, and his “ word is sweeter than the precious cane."
“While I enjoyed, under the shade of my fruitful trees, a pleasant tranquillity, in the simplicity of nature, had I endeavoured to direct the minds of the natives, who visited me, or my own household, to the glorious Parent of good, and to his blessed Sun, the restorer of Eden's lost bliss, my present reflections would fill me with delight instead of shame. But, alas, I now needed instruction and reproof myself! I had so much imbibed the spirit of the natives, and joined their practices, that I never attempted to teach and improve them; or else, in a household of twenty, and sometimes of thirty people, who lived in my habitation, as my attendants and workmen, I might have done much good. But I thought of nothing but employing them for my service, in the labours of the day, or for my amusement in the diversions of the evening.
“ Yet there were times, when ideas were thrown out, by the natives, respecting the immortality of the soul, which much surprised and abashed me. One day, I recollect, they were conversing about a person that was lately dead: they said to each other," he goes to the island through the sky," an expression by which they denoted a place very far off, as beyond the horizon, where the sky appeared to touch the earth. Wishing to know their sentiments upon this subject, I pretended ignorance and disbelief. “How can he be," said I, “in that place, when he is dead, and his body is here? Did you not bury him some moons ago?” But all they answered was, “ But he is still alive." And one endeavouring to make me understand what he meant, took hold of my hand, and squeezing it, said, “ Goomaogee hen, mooe bekai maogge.”—“ This will die, but the life that is within you will never die," with his other hand pointing to my heart.
“This sentiment expressed on such an occasion so unexpectedly, with such animation, and by a young man with whom I was particularly intimate, deeply impressed me. No circumstance more affected my mind during the whole of my continuance in the South-Sea Íslands. Such a conviction of the immortality of the soul, expressed by a simple untutored heathen, defies, thought I, all the arguments of presumptuous philosophers, and infidel libertines.
“I was fully satisfied that they believed the soul to be immortal. I endeavoured then to obtain more information, by ap
pearing ignorant, and desirous of knowledge on the subject. But I could get nothing farther from them. Whatever notions they might have, I conceived the poverty of their language prevent ed their explaining them upon points so abstract.
“And so immersed was I, at this time, in habits of irreligion, that I felt an aversion of heart, to give them proper instruction; nay, I wished to forget it myself; so much does guilt tie up the tongue, and harden the heart against attempting to do any spiritual good, when opportunities offer; and powerfully impel us to depart still farther from God, in order to gain a refuge frum uneasy reflections. ..“ Afterwards, however, in conversation with some of the chiefs, I discovered that they had more precise ideas on a sube ject of which the commonalty had only confused and indistinct notions. They supposed that their souls, immediately after the death of the body, were swiftly conveyed away to a far distant island, called Doobludha, where every kind of food was spontaneously produced, and the blessed inhabitants enjoyed perpetual peace and pleasure, under the protection and favour of the god Fliggolayo, who had supreme power over all other Deities, and warded off from his subjects the attempts of all that would molest or injure them. Into this region, however, they believed none were admitted but the chiefs: the tooa, or lower class, therefore, having no hope of sharing such bliss, seldom speculate upon a futurity, which to them appeared a prospect“ lost in shadows, clouds, and darkness."
“ All, however, seemed to find consolation in calling upon a Deity, in trouble, or applying to him for a continuance of plenty. They solemnly implored his blessing, when they set their yams, and expressed their gratitude to him, when they gathered them, by offerings to Duatonga, the priest who personated him and interceded for them. Each district also called upon its appropriate god, and each change in the elements summoned them to address its peculiar divinity. Was there a storm:- They called on Calla Filatonga, who, they supposed, was the goddess of the wind. Were they deluged with rain, or parched with heat: They supplicated Tongaloer, the god of the sky and rain; as they said, the Deity was very angry. Was there an earthquake: They cried out to Mowe, a giant, who, they supposed, supported the island on his shoulders. An instance of this occurred not many months after we had landed at Tongataboo. We had lain down about ten o'clock, after our evening service, to rest; when we were alarmed by a considerable shock: but our alarm was much increased, immediately after, by an universal shout of all the natives within hearing, in every direction. The next day we inquired into the cause of the uproar, and they told us, with Vol. I. New Series.
seeming sincerity and unconcern, that the island had been shaken, because the giant Mowe, who supported it upon his shoulders, was become weary of his burden, and was beginning to fall asleep; and that for fear he should stumble and throw the island off his shoulders, they had all cried out as loudly as possible, and beaten the ground with sticks, to awake him that by their howlings he was roused from his drowsiness, and the island was held as fast as before upon his shoulders.
“ Ac another time, I was upon the sea-shore, when there was felt a smart shock of an earthquake, and I saw two canoes that were lying upon the beach, shaken with it. The natives did not appear at all alarmed; but immediately began to shout as loud as they could, and to beat the ground with sticks, till it was over. I began to ridicule their folly and superstition; but they took no notice of it: they said they were sure Mowe was falling asleep, and they must rouse him; and began again to howl and scream and to strike the earth.
“ They supposed also that every man had an odooa or particular spirit attending him; and when any thing wonderful excited their attention respecting us or our goods or arts, as was the case with our cuckoo-clock, &c. they would say, “Oye awa koo odooa fogee!"-"O dear, he has a spirit!" The odooa or particular spirit, which presides, as they suppose, over every one; sends afflictions and maladies if he is angry, and when irreconcileable, occasions the death of the person. It is to render him propitious that the relations so often wound themselves, and sometimes put some of the sick person's wives or domestics to death.
“By this time, having become very fluent in the language, I extended my acquaintance, and was the companion of the chiefs in most of their expeditions and excursions. They much respected me, and esteemed me as a very entertaining companion; as I could now, with a ready familiarity of language, amuse them with tales and descriptions of European customs, inventions, and events; and understand their remarks and tales in answer. I had it now in my power also to entertain large parties in return, and had learned to join in their amusements with too great facility and pleasure.
"' I took pains also to endear myself to the chiefs by timeing my presents, and presenting them in the most approved and acceptable manner. My abbee, being in a high state of cultivation, in the scarcest seasons abounded with fruits, and probably it would have been a chief source of supply to Mulkaamair. When scarcity desolated the country around, ripe plantains bended the branches of my trees, of which I would cut twenty branches and send them as a present to Mulkaamair, borne on the shoul