An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of His Present Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, and successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour: Drawn from the Journals which were kept by the several Commanders, and from the Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq. [Vol. II]
Of the Diviston of Time in Otaheite; Numeration, Computation of Distance, Language, Diseases, Disposal of the Dead, Religion, War, Weapons, and Government with some general Observations for the Use of future Navigators.
We were not able to acquire a perfect idea of their method of dividing time; but observed, that in speaking of it, either past or to come, they never used any term but Malama, which signifies Moon. Of these moons they count thirteen, and then begin again; which is a demonstration that they have a notion of the solar year: but how they compute their months so that thirteen of them shall be commensurate with the year, we could not discover; for they say that each month has twenty-nine days, including one in which the moon is not visible. They have names for them separately, and have frequently told us the fruits that would be in the season, and the weather that would prevail, in each of them; and they have indeed a name for them collectively, though they use it only when they speak of the mysteries of their religion.
Every day is subdivided into twelve parts, each of two hours, of which six belong to the day, and six to the night. At these divisions they guess pretty nearly by the height of the sun while he is above the horizon; but there are few of them who can guess at them, when he is below it, by the stars.
In numeration they proceed from one to ten, the number of fingers on both hands; and though they have for each number a different name, they generally take hold of their fingers one by one, shifting from one hand to the other till they come to the number they want to express. And in other instances, we observed that, when they were conversing with each other, they joined signs to their words, which were so expressive that a stranger might easily apprehend their meaning.
In counting from ten they repeat the name of that number, and add the word more; ten, and one more, page 72 is eleven; ten, and two more, twelve; and so of the rest, as we say one and twenty, two and twenty. When they come to ten and ten more, they have a new denomination, as we say a score; and by these scores they count till they get ten of them, when they have a denomination for two hundred; and we never could discover that they had any denomination to express a greater number: neither, indeed, do they seem to want any; for ten of these amount to two thousand, a greater number than they can ever apply.
In measuring distance they are much more deficient than in computing numbers, having but one term which answers to fathom; when they speak of distances from place to place, they express it, like the Asiatics, by the time that is required to pass it.
Their language is soft and melodious; it abounds with vowels, and we easily learned to pronounce it: but found it exceedingly difficult to teach them to pronounce a single word of ours; probably not only from its abounding in consonants, but from some peculiarity in its structure; for Spanish and Italian words, if ending in a vowel, they pronounced with great facility.
Whether it is copious, we were not sufficiently acquainted with it to know; but it is certainly very imperfect, for it is almost totally without inflexion, both of nouns and verbs. Few of the nouns have more than one case, and few of the verbs more than one tense; yet we found no great difficulty in making ourselves mutually understood, however strange it may appear in speculation.
They have, however, certain affixa, which, though but few in number, are very useful to them, and puzzled us extremely. One asks another, Harre hea? “Where are you going?” the other answers, Ivahinera, “To my wives;” upon which the first repeating the answer interrogatively, “To your wives?” is answered, Ivahinereira; “Yes, I am going to my wives.” Here the suffixa era and eira save several words to both parties.
I have inserted a few of their words, from which perhaps, some idea may be formed of their language.page 73
|Pupo, the bead.||Eraow, a tree.|
|Ahewh, the nose.||Ama, a branch.|
|Roourou, the hair.||Tiale, a flower.|
|Outou, the mouth.||Huero, fruit.|
|Niheo, the teeth.||Eturmmoo, the stem.|
|Arrero, the tongue.||Aaa, the root.|
|Meu-eumi, the beard.||Eiherre, berbaceous plants.|
|Tiaraboa, the threat.||Ooopa, a pigeon.|
|Tuamo, the shoulders.||Avigne, a paroquet.|
|Tuah, the back.||A-a, another species.|
|Oama, the breast.||Mannu, a bird.|
|Eu, the nipples.||Mora, a duck.|
|Oboo, the belly.||Mattow, a fish-book.|
|Rema, the arm.||Toura, a rope.|
|Oporema, the hand.||Mow, a shark.|
|Manneo, the singers.||Mahi-mahi, a dolphin.|
|Mieu, the nails.||Mattera, a fishing-rod.|
|Touhe, the buttocks.||Eupea, a net.|
|Hoouhah, the thighs.||Mahanna, the sun.|
|Avia, the legs.||Malama, the moon.|
|Tapoa, the feet.||Whettu, a star.|
|Booa, a hog.||Whettu -euphe, a comet.|
|Moa, a fowl.||Erai, the sky.|
|Euree, a dog.||Eatta, a cloud.|
|Eure-eure, iron.||Miti, good.|
|Ooroo, bread-fruit.||Eno, bad.|
|Hearee, cocoa-nuts.||A, yes.|
|Mia, bananas.||Ima, no.|
|Vaee, wild plantains.||Paree, ugly.|
|Poe, beads.||Paroree, bungry.|
|Poe matawewwe, pearls.||Pia, full.|
|Ahou, a garment.||Timahah, beavy.|
|Avee, a fruit like apples.||Mama, light.|
|Ahee, another like chestnuts.||Poto, short.|
|Ewharre, a house.||Roa, tall.|
|Whennua, a high island.||Nehenne, sweet.|
|Motu, a, low island.||Mala-mala, bitter.|
|Toto, blood.||Whanno, to go far.|
|Aeve, bone.||Harre, to go.|
|Aeo, flesh.||Arrea, to stay.|
|Mae, fat.||Enoho, to remain.|
|Tuea, lean.||Rohe-rohe, to be tired.|
|Huru-huru, hair.||Maa, to eat.page 74|
|Inoo, to drink.||Worridde, to be angry.|
|Ete, to understand.||Teparahi, to beat.|
|Warrido, to steal.|
Among people whose food is so simple, and who, in general, are seldom drunk, it is scarcely necessary to say, that there are but few diseases; we saw no critical disease during our stay upon the island, and but few instances of sickness, which were accidental fits of the cholic. The natives, however, are afflicted with the erysipelas, and cutaneous eruptions of the scaly kind, very nearly approaching to a leprosy. Those in whom this distemper was far advanced, lived in a state of seclusion from all society, each in a small house built upon some unfrequented spot, where they were supplied with provisions; but whether they had any hope of relief, or languished out the remainder of their lives in solitude and despair, we could not learn. We obseryed also a few who had ulcers upon different parts of their bodies, some of which had a very virulent appearance; yet they seemed not much to be regarded by those who were afflicted with them, for they were left intirely without application, even to keep off the flies.
Where intemperance produces no diseases, there will be no physicians by profession; yet where there is sufferance, there will always be attempts to relieve; and where the cause of the mischief and the remedy are alike unknown, these will naturally be directed by superstition: thus it happens, that in this country, and in all others which are not surther injured by luxury, or improved by knowledge, the management of the sick falls to the lot of the priest. The method of cure that is practised by the priests of Otaheite, consists chiefly of prayers and ceremonies. When he visits his patient, he repeats certain sentences, which appear to be set forms contrived for the occasion, and at the same time plaits the leaves of the cocoa-nut into different figures very neatly; some of these he fastens to the fingers and toes of the sick, and often leaves behind him a few branches of the thespecia populnea, which they call E' midbo; these ceremonies are repeated till the patient recovers or dies. If he recovers, they say the remedies page 75 cured him; if he dies, they say the disease was incurable; in which, perhaps, they do not much differ from the custom of other countries.
If we had judged of their skill in surgery from the dreadful scars which we sometimes saw, we should have supposed it to be much superior to the art not only of their physicians, but of ours. We saw one man whose face was almost intirely destroyed: his nose, including the bone, was perfectly flat, and one cheek and one eye were so beaten in, that the hollow would almost receive a man's fist, yet no ulcer remained: and our companion, Tupia, had been pierced quite through his body by a spear, headed with the bone of a sting-ray, the weapon having entered his back, and come out just under his breast; but, except in reducing dislocations and fractures, the best surgeon can contribute very little to the cure of a wound; the blood itself is the best vulnerary balsam, and when the juices of the body are pure, and the patient is temperate, nothing more is necessary, as an aid to Nature, in the cure of the worst wound, than the keeping it clean.
Their commerce with the inhabitants of Europe has, however, already entailed upon them that dreadful curse which avenged the inhumanities committed by the Spaniards in America, the venereal disease. As it is certain that no European vessel, besides our own, except the Dolphin, and the two that were under the command of Mons. Bougainville, ever visited this island, it must either have been brought by one of them, or by us. That it was brought by the Dolphin, Captain Wallis has demonstrated, in the account of her voyage, in the first volume, and nothing is more certain, than that when we arrived it had made most dreadful ravages in the island. One of our people contracted it within five days after we went on shore, and by the enquiries among the natives, which this occasioned, we learned, when we came to undcrstand a little of their language, that it had been brought by the vessels which had been there about fifteen months before us, and had lain on the east side of the island. They distinguished it by a name of the same import with rottenness, but of a more page 76 extensive signification, and described, in the most pathetic terms, the sufferings of the first victims to it? rage, and told us, that it caused the hair and the nails to fall off, and the flesh to rot from the bones; that it spread a, universal terror and consternation among them, so that the sick were abandoned by their nearest relations, lest the calamity should spread by contagion, and left to perish alone in such misery as till then had never been known among them. We had some reason, however, to hope that they had found out a specific to cure it. During our stay upon the island we saw none in, whom it had made a great progress; and one who went from us infected, returned after a short time in perfect health; and by this it appeared, either that the disease had cured itself, or that they were not unacquainted with the virtues of simples, nor implicit dupes to the superstitious follies of their priests. We endeavoured to learn the medical qualities which they imputed to their plants, but our knowledge of their language was too imperfect for us to succeed. If we could have learned their specific for the venereal disease, if such they have it would have been of great advantage to us, for when we left the island it had been contracted by more than half the people on board the ship.
It is impossible but that, in relating incidents, many particulars with respect to the customs, opinions, and works of these people should be anticipated; to avoid repetition, therefore, I shall only supply deficiencies. Of the manner of disposing of their dead, much has. been said arready. I must more explicitly observe, that there are two places in which the dead are deposited; one a kind of shed, where the flesh is suffered to putrify, the other an enclosure, with erctions of stone, where the bones are afterwards buried. The sheds are called Tupapow, and the enclosures Morai. The Morais are also places of worship.
As soon as a native of Otaheite is known to be dead, the house is filled with relations, who deplore their loss, some by loud lamentations, and some by less clamorous, but more genuine expressions of gries. Those who are in the nearest degree of kindred, and are really affected by the event, are silent; the rest are one moment page 77 uttering passionate exclamations in a chorus, and the next laughing and talking, without the least appearance of concern. In this manner the remainder of the day on which they assemble is spent, and all the succeeding night. On the next morning the body is shrouded in their cloth, and conveyed to the sea side upon a bier, which the bearers support upon their shoulders, attended by the priest, who having prayed over the body, repeats his sentences during the procession; when it arrives at the water's edge, it is set down upon the beach; the priest renews his prayers, and taking up some of the water in his hands, sprinkles it towards the body, but not upon it; it is then carried back forty or fifty yards, and soon after brought again to the beach, where the prayers and sprinkling are repeated. It is thus removed backwards and forwards several times; and while these ceremonies have been performing a house has been built, and a small space of ground railed in. In the centre of this house, or Tupapow, posts are set up to support the bier, which is at length conveyed thither, and placed upon it, and here the body remains to putrify till the flesh is wholly wasted from the bones.
These houses of corruption are of a size proportioned to the rank of the person whose body they are to contain; those allotted to the lower class are just sufficient to cover the bier, and have no railing round them. The largest we ever saw was eleven yards long, and such as these are ornamented according to the abilities and inclination of the surviving kindred, who never sail to lay a profusion of good cloth about the body, and sometimes almost cover the outside of the house. Garlands of the fruit of the palm-nut, or pandanus, and cocoa leaves, twisted by the priests in mysterious knots, with a plant called by them Ethee no Morai, which is particularly consecrated to funeral solemnities, are deposited about the place; provision and water are also left at a little distance, of which, and of other decorations, a more particular description has been given already.
As soon as the body is deposited in the Tupapow, the mourning is renewed. The women assemble, and are led to the door by the nearest relation, who strikes page 78 a shark's tooth several times into the crown of her head: the blood copiously follows, and is carefully received upon pieces of linen, which are thrown under the bier. The rest of the women follow this example, and the ceremony is repeated at the interval of two or three days, as long as the zeal and sorrow of the parties hold out. The tears also which are shed upon these occasions, are received upon pieces of cloth, and offered as oblations to the dead: some of the young people cut off their hair, and that is thrown under the bier with other offerings. This custom is founded upon a notion that the soul of the deceased, which they believe to exist in a separate state, is hovering about the place where the body is deposited: that it observes the actions of the survivors, and is gratified by such testimonies of their affection and grief.
Two or three days after these ceremonies have been commenced by the women, during which the men seem to be wholly insensible of their loss, they also be gin to perform their part. The nearest relations take it in turn to assume the dress, and perform the office which have already been particularly described in the account of Tubourai Tamaide's having acted as chief mourner to an old woman, his relation, who died while we were in the island. One part of the ceremony, however, which accounts for the running away of the people as soon as this procession is in sight, has not been mentioned. The chief mourner carries in his hand a long flat stick, the edge of which is set with shark's teeth, and in a phrenzy, which his grief is supposed to have inspired, he runs at all he sees, and if any of them happen to be overtaken, he strikes them most unmercifully with this indented cudgel, which cannot sail to wound them in a dangerous manner.
These processions continue at certain intervals for five moons, but are less and less frequent, by a gradual diminution, as the end of that time approaches. When it is expired, what remains of the body is taken down from the bier, and the bones having been scraped and washed very clean, are buried, according to the rank of the person, either within or without a Morai: if the deceased was an Earee, or Chief, his skull is not buried with the rest of the bones, but is wrapped up in fine cloth, and put up in a kind of box made for page 79 that purpose, which is also placed in the Morai. This coffer is called Ewbarre no te Orometua, the house of a teacher or master. After this the mourning ceases, except some of the women continue to be really afflicted for the loss, and in that case they will sometimes suddenly wound themselves with the shark's tooth wherever they happen to be: this perhaps will account for the passion of grief in which Terapo wounded herself at the fort; some accidental circumstance might forcibly revive the remembrance of a friend or relation whom she had lost, with a pungency of regret and tenderness which forced a vent by tears, and prompted her to a repetition of the funeral rite.
The ceremonies, however, do not cease with the mourning: prayers are still said by the priest, who is well paid by the surviving relations, and offerings made at the Morai. Some of the things, which from time to time are deposited there, are emblematical: a young plantain represents the deceased, and the bunch of feathers the deity who is invoked. The priest places himself over-against the symbol of the God, accompanied by some of the relations, who are furnished with small offering, and repeats his oraison in a set form, consisting of separate sentences; at the same time weaving the leaves of the cocoa-nut into different forms, which he afterwards deposits upon the ground where the bones have been interred; the deity is then addressed by a shrill screech, which is used only upon that occasion. When the priest retires, the tuft of feathers is removed, and the provisions left to putrify, or be devoured by the rats.
Of the religion of these people, we were not able to acquire any clear and consistent knowledge: we found it like the religion of most other countries, involved in mystery, and perplexed with apparent inconsistences. The religious language is also here, as it is in China, different from that which is used in common; so that Tupia, who took great pains to instruct us, having no words to express his meaning which we understood, gave us lectures to very little purpose: what we learnt, however, I will relate with as much perspicuity as I can.
Nothing is more obvious to a rational being, however ignorant or stupid, than that the universe and its various parts, as far as they fall under his notice, were produced page 80 by some agent inconceivably more powerful than himself; and nothing is more difficult to be conceived, even by the most sagacious and knowing, than the production of them from nothing, which among us is expressed by the word Creation. It is natural therefore, as no Being apparently capable of producing the universe is to be seen, that he sould be supposed to reside in some distant part of it, or to be in his nature invisible, and that he sould have originally produced all that now exists in a manner similar to that in which nature is renovated by the succession of one generation to another: but the idea of procreation includes in it that of two persons, and from the conjunction of two persons these people imagine every thing in the universe either originally or derivatively to proceed.
The Supreme Deity, one of these two first beings, they call Taroataihetoomoo, and the other, whom they suppose to have been a rock, Tepapa. A daughter of these was Tettowmatatayo, the year, or thirteen months collectively, which they never name but upon this occasion, and she, by the common father, produced the months, and the months, by conjunction with each other, the days: the stars they suppose partly to be the immediate offspring of the first pair, and partly to have increased among themselves: and they have the. same notion with respect to the different species of plants. Among other progeny of Taroataihetoomoo and Tepapa, they suppose an inferior race of deities whom they call Eatuas. Two of these Eatuas, they say, at some remote period of time, inhabited the earth, and were the parents of the first man. When this man, their common ancestor, was born, they say that-he was round like a ball, but that his mother, with great care, drew out his limbs, and having at length moulded him into his present form, she called him Eothe, which signifies finibed. That being prompted by the universal instinct to propagate his kind, and being able to find no female but his mother, he begot upon her a daughter, and upon the daughter other daughters for several generations, before there was a son: a son, however, being at length born, he, by the assistancc of his sisters, peopled the world.page 81
Besides their daughter Tettowraatatayo, the first progenitors of nature had a son, whom they called Tane. Taroataihetoomoo, the Supreme Deity, they emphatically style the Causer of Earthquakes; but their prayers are more generally addressed to Tane, whom they suppose to take a greater part in the affairs of mankind.
The subordinate deities, or Eatuas, which are numerous, are of both sexes; the male are worshipped by the men, and the female by the women: and each have Morais to which the other sex are not admitted, though they have also Morais common to both. Men perform the office of pried to both sexes, but each sex has its priests, for those who officiate for one sex, do not officiate for the other.
They believe the immortality of the soul, at least its existence in a separate state; and that there are two situations of different degrees of happiness, somewhat analogous to our heaven and hell: the superior Situation they call Tavirua l'erai, the other Tiahoboo. They do not, however, consider them as places of reward and punishment, but as receptacles for different classes; the first, for their chiess and principal people, the other for those of inferior rank, for they do not suppose that their actions here in the least influence their future state, or indeed that they come under the cognizance of their deities at all. Their religion, therefore, if it has no influence upon their morals, is at least disinterested; and their expressions of adoration and reverence, whether by words or actions, arise only from an humble sense of their own inferiority, and the inessable excellence of divine perfection.
The character of the priest or Tahowa is hereditary: the class is numerous, and consists of all ranks of people; the chief, however, is generally the younger brother of a good family, and is respected in a degree next to their kings. Of the little knowledge that is possessed in this country, the priests have the greatest share; but it confists principally in an acquaintance with the names and ranks of the different Eatuas or subordinate divinities, and the opinions concerning the origin of things, which have been traditionally preserved among the order in detached sentences, of which some will repeat an incredible page 82 number, tho' but very few of the words that are used in their common dialed occur in them.
The priests, however, are superior to the rest of the people in the knowledge of navigation and astronomy, and indeed the name Tahowa signifies nothing more than a man of knowledge. As there are priests of every class, they officiate only among that class to which they belong: the priest of the inferior class is never called upon by those of superior rank, nor will the priest of superior rank officiate for any of the inferior class.
Marriage in this island, as appeared to us, is nothing more than an agreement between the man and woman, with which the priest has no concern. Where it is contraded it appears to be pretty well kept, tho' sometimes the parties separate by mutual consent, and in that case a divorce takes place with as little trouble as the marriage.
But tho' the priesthood has laid the people under no tax for a nuptial benediction, there are two operations which it has appropriated, and from which it derives considerable advantages. One is tattowing, and the other circumcision, tho' neither of them have any connection with religion. The tattowing has been described already. Circumcision has been adopted merely from motives of cleanliness; it cannot indeed properly be called circumciston, because the prepuce is not mutilated by a circular wound, but only slit thro' the upper part, to prevent its contracting over the glans. As neither of these can be performed by any but a priest, and as to be without either is the greatest disgrace, they may be considered as a claim to surplice fees, live our marriages and christenings which are chearfully and liberally paid, not according to any settled stipend, but the rank and abilities of the parties or their friends.
The Morai, as has been already observed, is at once a burying ground and a place of worship, and in this particular our churches too much resemble it. The Indian, however, approaches his Morai with a reverence and humility that disgraces the Christian, not because he holds any thing sacred that is there, but because he there worships an invisible, divinity, from whom, tho' he neither hopes for reward, nor fears punishment, at his hand, he always expresses the profoundest homage page 83 and most humble adoration. I have already given a very particular description both of the Morais and the altars that are placed near them. When an Indian is about to worship at the Morai, or brings his offering to the altar, he always uncovers his body to the waist, and his looks and attitude are such as sufficiently express a corresponding disposition of mind.
It did not appear to us that these people are, in any instance, guilty of idolatry; at least they do not worship any thing that is the work of their hands, nor any visible part of the creation. This island, indeed, and the rest that lie near it, have a particular bird, some a heron, and others a king's-fisher, to which they pay a peculiar regard, and concerning which they have some superstitious notions, with respect to good and bad fortune, as we have of the swallow and robin-red-breast, giving them the name of Eatua, and by no means killing or molesting them; yet they never address a petition to them, or approach them with any act of adoration.
Tho' I dare not assert that these people, to whom the art of writing, and consequently the recording of laws, are utterly unknown, live under a regular form of government; yet a subordination is established among them, that greatly resembles the early state of every nation in Europe under the feudal system, which secured liberty to the most licentious excess to a few, and entailed the most abject slavery upon the rest.
Their orders are, Earee rahie, which answers to the king; Earee, baron; Manahouni, vassal; and Toutou, villain. The Earee rahie, of which there are two in this island, one being the sovereign of each of the peninsulas of which it consists, is treated with great respect by all ranks, but it did not appear to us to be invested with so much power as was exercised by the Earees in their own districts; nor indeed did we, as I have before observed, once see the sovereign of Obereonoo, while we were in the island. The Earees are lords of one or more of the districts into which each of the peninsulas is divided, of which there may be about an hundred in the whole island; and they parcel out their territories to the Manahounies, who cultivate each his part which he holds under the baron. page 84 The lowest class, called Toutous, seem to be nearly under the same circumstances as the villains in feudal governments; these do all the laborious work, they cultivate the land under the Manahounies, who are only nominal cultivators for the lord; they fetch wood and water, and, under the direction of the mistress of the family, dress the victuals; they also catch the fish.
Each of the Earees keeps a kind of court, and has a great number of attendants, chiefly the younger brothers of their own tribe; and among those some hold particular offices, but of what nature exactly we could not tell. One was called the Eowa no l'Earee, and another the Whanno no l'Earee, and these were frequently dispatched to us with messages. Of all the courts of these Earees, that of Tootahah was the most splendid, as indeed might reasonably be expected, because he administered the government for Outou, his nephew, who was Earee rahie of Obereonoo, and lived upon his estate. The child of the baron, or Earee, as well as of the sovereign, or Earee rahie, succeeds to the title and honours of the father, as soon as it is born; so that a baron, who was yesterday called Earee, and was approached with the ceremony of lowering the garments, so as to uncover the upper part of the body, is to-day, if his wife was last night delivered of a child, reduced to the rank of a private man, all marks of respect being transferred to the child, if it is suffered to live, though the father still continues possessor and administrator of his estate: probably this custom has its share, among other inducements, in forming the societies called Arreoy.
If a general attack happens to be made upon the island, every district, under the command of an Earee, is obliged to furnish its proportion of soldiers for the common defence. The number furnished by the principal districts, which Tupia recollected, when added together, amounted, as I have observed before, to [gap — reason: unclear]680.
Upon such occasions, the united force of the whole island is commanded in chief by the Earee rahie. Private differences between two Earees, are decided by page 85 their own people, without at all disturbing the general tranquillity.
Their weapons are slings, which they use with great dexterity; pikes headed with the stings of sting-rays, and clubs of about six or seven feet long, made of a very hard heavy wood. Thus armed, they are said to fight with great obstinacy, which is the more likely to be true, as it is certain that they give no quarter to either man, woman, or child, who is so unfortunate as to fall into their hands during the battle, or for some hours afterwards, till their passion, which is always violent, though not lasting, has subsided.
The Earee rahie of Obereonoo, while we were here, was in perfect amity with the Earee rahie of Tiarre boo, the other penisula, tho' he took to himself the title of king of the whole island; this, however, produced no more jealousy in the other sovereign, than the title of King of France, assumed by our Sovereign does in his Most Christian Majesty.
In a government so rude, it cannot be expected that distributive justice should be regularly administered; and indeed where there is so little opposition of interest, in consequence of the facility with which every appetite and passion is gratified, there can be but few crimes. There is nothing like money, the common medium by which every want and every wish is supposed to be gratified, by those who do not possess it; there is no apparently permanent good, which either fraud or force can unlawfully obtain; and when all the crimes that are committed by the inhabitants of civilized countries to get money, are set out of the account, not many will remain; add to this, that where the commerce with women is restrained by no law, men will seldom be under any temptation to commit adultery, especially as one woman is always less preferred to another, where they are less distinguished by personal decorations, and the adventitious circumstances which are produced by the varieties of art, and the refinements of sentiment. That they are thieves is true; but as among these people no man can be much injured or benefitted by theft, it is not necessary to restrain it by such punishments, as in other countries, page 86 are absolutely necessary to the very existence of civil society. Tupia, however, tells us, that adultery is sometimes committed as well as theft. In all cases where an injury has been committed, the punishment of the offender lies with the sufferer. Adultery, if the parties are caught in the fact, is sometimes punished with death, in the first ardour of resentment; but, without circumstances of immediate provocation, the female sinner seldom suffers more than a beating. As punishment, however, is enforced by no law, nor taken into the hand of any magistrate, it is not often inflicted, unless the injured party is the strongest; tho' the chiefs do sometimes punish their immediate dependents, for faults committed against each other, and even the dependents of others, if they are accused of any offence committed in their district.
Having now given the best description that I can of the island in its present state, and of the people, with their customs and manners, language and arts, I shall only add a few general observations, which may be of use to future navigators, if any of the ships of Great Britain should receive orders to visit it. As it produces nothing that appears to be convertible into an article of trade, and can be useful only by affording refreshments to shipping in their passage thro' these seas, it might be made to answer this purpose in a much greater degree, by transporting thither sheep, goats, and horned cattle, with European garden-stuff, and other useful vegetables, which there is the greatest reason to suppose will flourish in so fine a climate, and so rich a soil.
Though this and the neighbouring islands lie within the tropic of Capricorn, yet the heat is not troublesome, nor did the winds blow constantly from the east. We had frequently a fresh gale from the S. W. for two or three days, and sometimes, though very seldom, from the N. W. Tupia reported, that south-westerly winds prevail in October, November, and December, and we have no doubt of the fact. When the winds are variable, they are always accompanied by a swell from the S. W. or W. S. W. there is also a swell from the same points when it is calm, and the atmosphere loaded with clouds, which is a sure indication page 87 that the winds are variable, or westerly out at sea; for with the settled trade-wind the weather is clear.
The meeting with westerly winds, within the general limits of the eastern trade, has induced some navigators to suppose that they were near some large tract of land, of which, however, I think they are no indication.
It has been found, both by us and the Dolphin, that the trade-wind, in these parts, does not extend farther to the south than twenty degrees, beyond which, we generally found a gale from the westward; and it is reasonable to suppose, that when these winds blow strong they will drive back the easterly wind, and consequently incroach upon the limits within which they constantly blow, and thus necessarily produce variable winds, as either happens to prevail, and a south westerly swell. This supposition is the more probable, as it is well known that the trade-winds blow but faintly for some distance within their limits, and therefore may be more easily stopped or repelled by a wind in the contrary direction: it is also well known, that the limits of the trade winds vary, not only at different seasons of the year, but sometimes at the same season in different years.
There is therefore no reason to suppose, that south westerly winds, within these limits, are caused by the vicinity of large tracts of land, especially as they are always accompanied with a large swell, in the same direction in which they blow; and we find a much greater surf beating upon the shores of the south-west side of the islands that are situated just within the limits of the trade-wind, than upon any other part of them.
The tides about these islands are perhaps as inconsiderable as in any part of the world. A south or S. by W. moon makes high water in the bay of Matavai, at Otaheite; but the water very seldom rises perpendicularly above ten or twelve inches.
The variation of the compass I found to be 4° 46′ easterly, this being the result of a great number of trials made with four of Dr. Knight's needles, adapted page 88 to azimuth compasses. These compasses I thought the best that could be produced, yet, when applied to the meridian line, I found them to differ, not only one from another, sometimes a degree and an half, but the same needle, half a degree from itself, in different trials made on the same day; and I do not remember that I have ever found two needles which exactly agreed at the same time and place, though I have often found the same needle agree with itself, in several trials made one after the other. This imperfection of the needle, however, is of no consequence to navigation, as the variation can always be found to a degree of accuracy more than sufficient for all nautical purposes.