Life in Feejee, or, Five Years among the Cannibals
Visit at Bau—The Fancy Ball—The Ride—Arrival of the Mission Schooner, Triton—A Perilous Adventure—A Novel Mode of Punishment—Execution at Bau—The Bachelor.
|Oct. 4.||Mr. Hunt preached on board the bark. All but the cook attended the services. This is the first page 224time that preaching has ever been held on board a trading vessel at Feejee.|
Mr. Hunt, Mrs. Wilson and myself visited at Bau. We found all the ladies busily employed in preparing for a fancy ball, which was to be held in the evening. Two barbers were dressing the head of Samonunu. Thakombau was amusing himself with a little pop-gun, by-lyly hitting the several ladies of the court. There was as much finery about as would be found in any lady's dressing room who was preparing for a fancy ball at home. A profusion of wild flowers and aromatic shrubs were being arranged into very pretty wreaths. I was truly surprised at the taste displayed by these untutored savages. Some were cutting little ornaments from bright-colored cloth or paper, for the head; others were preparing cocoa-nut oil, scented with sandal wood, to anoint their persons; and several were giving the finishing touch to their best "lekus." While this was going on, some one would receive the contents of Thakombau's pop-gun (which was usually a piece of uncooked yam) upon the top of her nose, lip, or cheek; she would spring and look towards His Majesty, but his attention would be fixed upon some distant object with the most innocent look imaginable.
We called at several other houses, and found all the females similarly employed. At last we called at the house of Tanoa. Here we found the royal captives of Rewa, except the wife of Garenggeo, who had made her escape and joined her husband. The widow of the murdered king was mourning the death of her only son, whom she declares has been poisoned. They were not preparing to engage in the festivities of the coming evening; but the queen and her court were making preparations like the rest. We here partook of some refreshments, page break page 225consisting of baked tarro and little boiled fish. The natives manufacture a kind of pottery which they call "kurus," in which they cook their food. Their fish is carefully wrapped in fresh green leaves, and boiled in the "kuru." When sufficiently cooked, they are taken from the leaf and placed in order on a Large banana leaf, and the water in which they are boiled is served hot in a cocoa-nut shell. After our banana leaf was spread, Mr. H. asked a blessing, and we proceeded to satisfy our hunger with no other knife or fork except what nature had provided. Our meal was really very nice. At its conclusion, water was brought to wash our hands, and we used our handkerchiefs for napkins. We then visited the king in his little "buri" and departed. The tide being considerably on the ebb, we rode the distance of a quarter of a mile on chairs made of human arms,—our own arms encircling the necks of our carriers. I laughed at Mrs. Wilson, she laughed at me, and Mr, Hunt, who was travelling on the back of a native, laughed at both of us.
|11.||Rev. Mr. Jaggar held divine service on board the bark. I spent the Sabbath at Vewa. The natives of this region do not visit the vessel on the Sabbath, as formerly. The gospel appears to be exerting its influence, and a very perceptible change is visible since our first arrival at this place.|
Some of Phillips's warriors have killed two of Garenggeo's people, who were brought to Bau yesterday and devoured. In the afternoon Thakombau came on board. He appeared highly displeased that the Consul had located himself at Nuque, under the protection of Phillips. "Well, Mr. Wallis," he said, "they say that the king of America has come here." "Surely he must be much poorer than myself, to come so far for oil for page 226his lamps." "How is it," said Thakombau, "that you do not call yourself a king, or the son of a king? such is the fashion of the captains." "I am the master of this vessel, and hold no other rank. Why should I tell you Iies? The great and rich men of America are never to be seen in Feejee after oil and 'beech de mer,' " said Mr. W. "Ah! these men take us for fools, but we laugh at them when they tell us such stories. Mr. Williams has sent for me to collect a cargo of oil, but I sent word that he must come himself, if he wished me to do any thing for him, as I do not trade with 'kaises.' " He appears to understand human nature, and to appreciate character as well as any one I have seen. One day when we had first arrived at the group, the man Harry was in the cabin with Thakombau and Mr. W. As they were conversing, he made some remarks. The chief turned to him, exhibiting in his whole bearing the utmost "hauteur," and said, "Who are you?—nothing but a runaway sailor, who has no riches but what he earns. You are not to say your own words. When Mr. Wallis tells you to speak, then you may speak." "You black rascal!" muttered Harry in English, "I wish I had you in Virginia, I think the tables would be turned." The man was hushed; he dared not open his mouth again to speak his own words.
A canoe from Ovalau has just passed with the body of a mountaineer lashed to it, which they are taking to Bau to be eaten,—the natives of the coast having killed five of their enemies,—the mountaineers.
|23.||The mission schooner, Triton, has arrived from Lakemba. As this vessel was absent four weeks longer than was expected, some anxiety had been felt on her account. Rev. Dr. Lyth and family have arrived to take the place of Mr. Watsford.page 227|
|24.||The day being unpleasant, I remained on board the bark. In the afternoon Mr. W. went to Bau in the Star. As the day closed, the wind increased to half a gale. When the steward was preparing the tea-table, I asked if he had not better show a light on deck. He said, "Capt. W. is just here,—only a few rods from the vessel." Relieved from my anxiety, and supposing that all was right, I. continued reading till the expiration of some fifteen or twenty minutes, when I called to inquire if Mr. W. was on deck. I was told that be was not there, and the boat was not to be seen. I hastened to the deck, but could discern only the dim outlines of the surrounding isles. There was one hope that sustained me,—the wind, though strong, was fair for the boat to go to Vewa; and as our schooner lay there, I thought perhaps Mr. W. had suddenly altered his mind and gone there. I remained standing on the quarter deck from seven o'clock till nine. I then felt that there had been time for them to have returned, or some messenger to have been sent, as Mr. W. would know that I should be alarmed. I told the second mate that the boat must be sent to Vewa without another moment's delay. "De men is all turned in, ma'am," was the quiet reply. "Turned in!" I exclaimed. "Is it possible that there is no more interest or feeling in this case? Well, turn them out, and send the boat at once." "But de men could not fetch de boat back against de wind an tide,—she be too heavy." "There is a surf boat at Vewa," I replied, "ours can be left and that taken." "But ma'am, suppose de wind should come a gale, who will take care of de bark?" "Both anchors are out, and a hundred men could not save her from the reefs, if the wind should be strong enough to drive her there," I answered. "Call all hands,—send four in the boat, and let the rest watch page 228till we hear from Vewa; and if no intelligence is gained from the Star, let them bring Mr. Smith from our schooner! Lot all Vewa be alarmed, and canoes sent out in every direction!" The men were called, the boat lowered, and they started. Ten o'clock came and no intelligence, —eleven, and I hear between the fitful gusts of wind, the sound of oars. The sounds come nearer. I hear voices, too, hark! I hear the voice of my husband, —yes, I am certain 'tis he. Then I wept. I could not weep before; my head seemed to be on fire, and my throat filled to suffocation. It seems that when the Star neared the bark, a squall very nearly capsized her, and finding that they could not reach the bark with the wind so strong ahead, they made for Vewa as their only mode of safety. They had, however, various difficulties to encounter, owing to the darkness of the night and the violence of the wind; but about nine o'clock they gained the shore in safety, and Mr. W. had just procured a boat and men to bring him on board as our boat arrived at Vewa. Our people left their boat, and they all came off in a surf boat.|
|Nov. 4.||Passed the last week at Vewa. On the Sabbath Mr. Hunt preached on board the Triton in the morning, and then came, accompanied by Capt. Lilliwall, and preached on board the bark. Mrs. Wilson passed the day with me on board the vessel.|
|8.||Mr. Williams has arrived from Rewa, and at present is our visitor. He has just returned from a tour to the interior of Vetelavu. He was accompanied by the Vice Consul, Mr. Whippy, and several others. They penetrated into the wilds to a distance of thirty miles. Thev report the inhabitants as being civil and honest. The distance across that part of Vetelavu where they travelled, is about sixty miles; consequently, they visit-page 229ed the central part of the island. Mr. Whippy is the only white man who has ever been honored with a Feejeean office. He sustains that of Matta ge Mbau. Mr. W. has resided in Feejee for many years, and is truly respected by all who are acquainted with him. There are several white men now residingj at Solavu, who have been lately married and are becoming industrious and respectable. The missionaries have ever labored for their benefit, have treated them like men, and they now begin to conduct like men.|
|12.||The Consul, Mr. Wallis and myself, were invited to breakfast on board the Triton, where we met Mrs. Wilson, Messrs. Hunt, Lyth and Jaggar. We found the Triton a nice little vessel, well fitted for passengers. In the cabin, directly opposite the entrance, hung a likeness of the founder of the Wesleyan order, and underneath was a brass plate, on which were the words, "God is with us." After breakfast and prayers, we took leave of Mrs. Wilson and Capt. Lilliwall, and departed for Vewa. The anchor of the Triton was raised, the sails unfurled, and the vessel was soon lost to our view.|
Mr. W. hearing that the Bau and Lasakau people had stopped fishing for the bark, went to inquire about it. The chiefs said that they had been informed that "beech de mer" was sold in Manilla for large quantities of gold, and that the Feejeeans were not paid enough for it,—that Capt. Wallis would pay any price rather than not obtain it,—that they had been advised to stop fishing, demand higher prices for their fish, and they would obtain them. Mr. W. replied, "I came here a lad; now my hair is becoming gray. Why am I here now? Rich men do not come here. Should I not remain at home if "beech de mer" brought so great page 230riches? Do you not see that lies have been told vou?" "Yes; you talk wisely," they replied. "We see it now, and we were fools to listen to the lying 'kaise.'"
Mr. W. learned that this had been the work of John Johnson, the survivor of the two with whom the schooner had been left in charge on our departure for Manilla. A written agreement had been signed by those men, that the vessel should be delivered to Mr. W. on his return from M. in good repair, and he was to buy what fish they procured at a handsome profit to themselves. They were to have no other reward. As has been shown, the vessel had been laid up during our eight months' absence, not a fish had been procured, and the schooner had not only been found in the worst possible order, but several things missing; and the crowning of the whole affair was, that Johnson was very angry that Mr. W. would not pay him for doing nothing the past eight months, saying that he could not afford to lose so much time, and threatened vengeance. The above is his first attempt. He seems to forget that Mr, W.'s hair is gray, and that he has visited Feejee previous to the present time. Mr. Williams has written to him, warning him as to his future conduct. Johnson left Salem with us as a sailor, and continued as such till the bark left for Manilla. On our return Mr. W. offered Johnson employment, but he refused it.
The Consul has to-day taken his departure for his residence at Nukulau. This is a small island near Rewa. Mr. Williams told Phillips when he left the isle, (which he has purchased,) that he would rather not have any Feejeeans visit at the place during his absence. The Consul had not been absent long, when Phillips saw a canoe sailing towards Nukulau. He immediately despatched two canoes, with orders to kill all on board.page 231
Two were killed, and the rest escaped by jumping overboard and swimming away. Mr. Williams had not a thought that his wishes would have been so strictly obeyed, and regretted that he had said any thing about it. The canoe belonged to Phillips, and was manned by his own people, who would have obeyed him at once, had he sent word for them not to go to the isle. Phillips is a great coward, but delights in bloodshed and murder. Mr. Wallis once presented him with a large demijohn, which he passed into his canoe, and gave it in charge to two of his people; while they were putting it in a place of safety, they broke it. Phillips immediately made the men chew a quantity of broken glass, which killed them. He then begged for another demijohn. Mr. W. told him that he should give him no more glass to use for such a purpose. He thought, probably, that Mr. W. ought to reward him for the loss he had sustained.
The Feejeeans, in all their transactions with white people, expect payment. The following instances will illustrate my meaning:—A Feejeean at one time had a very troublesome eruption on his arm. He went on board a trading vessel that was here at the time, and requested medical aid. The captain told him that he might remain on board, and he would see what he could do for him. Accordingly the man remained till his arm was cured, and then requested the captain to pay him, that he might return to his home. "For what?" asked the captain. "For staying on board your vessel," was the reply. "What work have you done?" "Nothing." "Who has given you food and cured your arm?" "You have." "Then who should receive pay?" "Myself," was the reply of the grateful native. The man went ashore and set fire to the "beech de mer" house, and destroyed some four or five hundred dollars worth offish.page 232
The second instance came under my own observation. A canoe broke adrift that had been slightly fastened to our bark. Mr. W. let the natives have the jolly boat to go and pick up their own craft. They soon secured the canoe, and returned to the vessel, leaving two natives to bring the boat back. The wind was strong, and the rain poured in torrents. The boat drifted about for some time, when the canoe went to its assistance, and brought it safely to the vessel. The whole party, numbering about twelve, then asked to be paid for bringing the boat back, stating, that it would have been lost had they not saved it.
|30.||Mr. Williams writes us that on his arrival at Nukulau, a canoe with five dead bodies on board arrived at the isle at the same time. They were Garenggeo's men, who had been killed, and were being taken to Phillips. The war between Rewa and Bau appears to be renewed with all its former vigor.|
Three women belonging to Navinde attempted last week to escape to Rewa, but, losing their way, they were returned to Bau. They had, for sometime past, caused him trouble by their bad conduct. They told him that they intended to run away the first opportunity, and he said that if they attempted it, and did not succeed, he should have them shot. Accordingly their dresses were taken off, and they were fastened to stakes on a shoal near Bau, where they remained for marks, to receive the shots of any who chose to fire at them,—the marksmen being stationed on the island. It is said that one of the victims received twelve musket shot in her body before a fatal one.
Females of Bau, who are condemned to death, are usually obliged to suffer a punishment before they are killed that is too horrible to be recorded. The above ex-page 233ecution took place on the Sabbath. Mr. Jaggar started that morning to preach at Bau before he went to the bark, but the wind was strong ahead, their canoe was upset, and they were obliged to relinquish the attempt to reach Bau. He states that he heard the firing of muskets, and had he known of the affair, he should have made another attempt to have reached Bau, when he thinks that he could have saved the lives of the women. It is said that Navinde shut himself up in a little "buri," and no one dared to approach him; and when he appeared, after the women were shot, his face was very pale, and he was exceedingly agitated. Does this not show that there is a monitor within the breast of even a cannibal savage?
|8.||Mr. Hunt went to Bau, and talked to the Lasakau chief about the murdered women. He said that if he had pardoned them, it would have excited the jealousy of Bau at once, and they would have accused him of getting up a "vari" with Rewa against Bau. There is a good deal of truth in this. It often happens that when a chief is conspiring against an enemy, he will send some of his female servants to carry messages to those with whom he wishes to hold correspondence, and if they are missed, to say that they have run away. No one in this land of treachery knows who is his friend; consequently all are suspicious and vigilant.|
|14.||An Englishman, named Birch, arrived from Nukulau. He came from New Zealand a few months since, and has been residing at Nukulau with the Consul till the present time. He has come for medical aid, having been afflicted for several weeks with the dysentery.|
|17.||The weather has been too unpleasant for me to venture to Vewa the three past days. Mr. Birch has page 234remained on board, and is rather better than when he first arrived. He is a bachelor, but, strange as it may appear, is social and agreeable; therefore I have set him down in my book as belonging to the class accidental, or those who remain single from necessity. The bachelor who is one from choice, is never at ease in the company of respectable women; indeed, he affects to believe there are none such. He avoids the company of those who are not betrothed, lest they should have some designs upon his affections, or fortune, or both. He avoids the company of the betrothed and the married, lest they should lead him into sin. Such is his vanity that he believes every lady looks upon him with interest, and would never be convinced to the contrary. If he should happen to attend a party (which he seldom does), one would observe, as he enters the room, that he casts a glance around to see if any lady is present who has no beau to attend her home. If he sees this to be the case, he pleads an excuse to the company, and departs an hour before the party breaks up, exulting that he "slipped out of that." On the contrary, the bachelor who is one from necessity, does not appear to believe that every lady he meets is in love with his person, or his fortune, and he fears not to converse with her, neither does he avoid and affect to despise her because she is a woman, but treats her as a woman should be treated—with respect.|
The fat brother of the King of Bau died last night; the one whom Tanoa called the pig at the time of his restoration. Mr. W. has just returned from the capital, and says that most of the children were minus a finger joint. The men were throwing mud at the ladies, who, in return for the loving messages, were whipping the men in high glee.
Mr. Umbers, of Solavu, gives me the following account page 235of the late massacre at Ovalau:—"I was in a small schooner lying at anchor about two miles from the island of Ovalau, when we observed fires issuing from eight towns on the coast, and we saw the women and children running in every direction, pursued and killed by their enemies, the mountaineers. Many plunged into the sea, and, by diving, attempted to elude the spears of their adversaries; some reached the vessel, and were saved. The chief of Lavuka, called Tui Lavuka, was one of the victims. His daughter called to him to swim for the reef, which attracted the attention of the savages towards him, and they despatched him immediately. Five white men who were living at Lavuka had their houses burned; one of their wives was killed at the same time. The males belonging to the towns were most of them away, which fact was probably known to the enemy, who chose the favorable opportunity to make their descent and accomplish their designs. About four hundred were killed. One woman swam to our vessel with two children on her back; another came with a basket containing her riches, and had left her children to be destroyed. So sudden and expeditious were the enemy, that, in one hour from the time of the attack, all was quiet."
|20.||Mr. Birch died, and was buried yesterday. Strangers were brothers and sisters to him during his sickness, and strangers wept over his grave. He received able medical treatment from Rev. Dr. Lyth, while Rev. Mr. Hunt and family attended to his personal comfort, and all were faithful to that immortal part which can never die. Mr. Birch was a gentleman of education and talents, having been bred to the law.|