Life in Feejee, or, Five Years among the Cannibals
Departure for Ba—Feejeean Names—Dillon's Rock—Prospect of a Battle —Viait of a Missionary—A Feejeean Plot—The "Soro."
All things being in readiness for our departure to Ba, I took leave of our kind entertainers with regret, and embarked once more on board the Zotoff. I had been quite unwell during my stay at Vewa, and Mrs. C. had shown me all the kind attention of a sister, and the more I became acquainted with her the more admirable her character appeared.
On arriving at the vessel, I found several additions to our former company. Elijah and a dozen of his people were to accompany us to Ba. There were some curious names among them, such as Ngone Tha (a bad child); Nga (a duck); Kalava (a rat); Bona Boaka (a pig's tail), &c. Thakombau has presented a large ox to be given to Touaga, that he may be of "a good mind "towards Mr. Wallis, and procure him a great many fish. The animal stood gazing about him, apparently astonished at the novelty of his situation.
Ba. We arrived here this afternoon, after stopping on our way at Buladagaloa and Tabua, to make arrangements for the erection of "beech de mer" houses.
As we passed Raverave Elijah told us a legend concerning it. but says he does not like to tell such stories now, although once he believed them all to be true.
The natives of Feejee always have a story on hand. Every town, place and tribe, has its legendary accounts of its origin, and concerning all its affairs. There is scarcely a rock, island, mountain or river that we pass, page 331which has not its tale. They must be a most imaginative people. On moonlight nights the natives often sit relating and listening to stories.
Buladagaloa. In company with Elijah and the pilot, I visited the town at this place. We sailed up a narrow river, walled on each side by the beautiful mangroves. After landing, we crossed several dykes, and at length arrived at a high fence, and apparently a strong one, being composed of large stones, mud and logs, surmounted by a lighter one of reeds. This fortification is called a "ba-ni valu," or a fence of war. We entered an opening, and found a small town of about thirty houses romantically situated in a mud puddle. I stooped and looked in at the doors of a few of them, but had no desire to enter. They were without mats, and looked cheerless enough. We passed out of the town, and took a long walk towards the mountains. Several of the inhabitants followed us, and appeared more curious to see Phebe, who accompanied us, and who they were told had been to America, than they were to see the white woman. Just back of the town are several acres of fine table land, dry, and a much better locality for a town than the site now occupied; but fear of their enemies deters the natives from building upon it.
The people belonging here have for many years been carrying on a warfare with many of the towns of Ba and other places.
We crossed from Vetelavu and anchored off Dillon's rock, which is quite a prominent object, considerably elevated, of a dark color, and flat at the top. An event occurred at this place in the year 1813, which I shall relate as Dillon has given it in his voyages.
In order that the story may be properly understood, it is necessary to state that Dillon came to Feejee in the page 332ship Hunter, Capt. Robson, for the purpose of collecting sandal wood at Bua and the vicinity. Capt. R. had been here several times before for the same purpose, when he had assisted the natives in fighting their enemies, and in procuring bodies to satisfy their cannibal appetites.
On his arrival here in 1813, his old friends told him that the enemies he had assisted in conquering had revolted, and it would be difficult for them to cut sandal wood, unless he would first assist them to reconquer their foes, after which they would load his vessel in a short time. Capt. R. again assisted them, and they destroyed a great many people, towns and plantations, but the chiefs and natives did not come up to their agreement. Several months passed, and the vessel remained without its cargo. The chiefs remained away, and the disappointed captain was provoked at the trick played upon him. He vowed vengeance against his old allies, and took fourteen of their canoes at the commencement. Soon after, Capt. R. wished to have a cutter belonging to the Hunter taken on shore for some repairs. Before doing this, however, he wished to possess himself of the rest of the Wailea canoes, that he might repair the cutter in safety. We now proceed to give an account of the expedition and battle in Dillon's own words:—
"On the morning of the 6th of September, the Europeans belonging to the ship, and also the Europeans from Bau were all armed with muskets, and placed under the command of Mr. Norman, the first officer. We landed at a place called the Black Rock, and were soon joined by the Bau chiefs and a hundred of their men. The boats and canoes then put off into deep water, which precaution was used to prevent their getting aground by the tide ebbing. On landing, the Europeans began to disperse into straggling parties of two, three and four in page 333a group. I begged of Mr. Norman to cause them to keep close together in case of a sudden attack from the islanders; but no attention was paid to my remonstrance. We proceeded by a narrow path over a small level plain without interruption, until we arrived at the foot of a hill, which we ascended, and soon gained the level or table land on its top. There a few natives showed themselves, and tried to irritate us by shouts and gestures.
Mr. Norman turned to the right, along a narrow path, which led to a thicket where were some native houses. I followed him with seven other Europeans, the two Bau chiefs and one of their men. Here a few natives tried to dispute our passage; they were fired at, and one was shot dead; the rest retreated. Mr. Norman then directed the chief's house with some others to be set on fire. The order was immediately obeyed, and all were in flames in a few seconds. A few minutes after, we heard dreadful yells and shoutings of the savages proceeding from the road by which we had ascended to the table land. The Bau chiefs understood from the yells that some of their men as well as Europeans were killed by the Wailea people, who were concealed in ambush until they got us on the table land, where they attacked our straggling parties, who, having discharged their muskets, were killed before they had time to reload. Others, I afterwards understood, on seeing themselves nearly surrounded by the savages, threw down their muskets and ran towards the boat; two of them escaped. In Mr. Norman's party there were ten musket men, with the two Bau chiefs, and one of their followers. We determined to keep close together, and fight our way to the boats.
We immediately got out of the thicket on to the table land, where there were not more than three of the island-page 334era, who shouted and called out to us that several of our men were killed, as well as Bau men, and that we should immediately share a similar fate. On reaching the brink of the path by which we were to descend to the plain, we found Terence Dun lying dead with his brains beaten out by a native club, and the whole plain between us and the boats covered with thousands of infuriated savages, all armed.
Before descending to the plain, a young man named John Graham separated from us and ran into a thicket of bushes on the left hand side of the road, where he was quickly pursued by the three savages above mentioned, who despatched him. The remainder of us proceeded down the precipice. On getting to the bottom, the savages prepared to receive us. They stood in thousands on each side of the path, brandishing their weapons, with their faces and bodies besmeared with the blood of our slaughtered companions. At this moment, a native who came down the precipice after us, threw a spear at Mr. Norman, which entered his back and passed out of his breast. He ran a few yards and fell down apparently dead. I fired at this native, and reloaded my musket as soon as possible, when, on turning round, I found my companions had all run by different routes. Taking advantage of the absence of the natives, who had all quitted the path and pursued our flying men, I dashed along with all possible speed, but had not proceeded more than a few yards when I came on to the dead body of William Parker, who was prostrated across the path with his musket by him. I took it up and retreated.
About this time the natives observed me and gave chase. One of them came up so close to me that I was obliged to throw the musket away, and a pistol also which I had in my belt. In a moment after this, I page 335reached the foot of a steep rock that stood on the plain, Finding it impossible to get to the boat through the crowds of natives that intercepted the pathway, I called out to my companions (some of whom were on my right),
Take the hill! take the hill!' We then got to the top of it, where I joined the following persons. Charles Savage, a man named Luis, Martin Bushart, Thomas Dafny and William Wilson. The three former resided at Bau, and joined us at this island; the two latter belonged to the ship. Mic Macabe, Joseph Atkinson, and the two Bau chiefs were killed; these men had joined us here. Dafny fired his musket on the plain, and then broke it off at the end in defending himself. He was wounded in several parts of the body, and had four arrows stuck in his back; the point of a spear had pierced his shoulder, having entered from behind, and came out in the fore part, under the collar bone.
It fortunately happened that the rock to which we had escaped was so steep that few persons could ascend it at a time, and it was too much elevated for the natives to annoy us much with their spears or slings. They, however, shot several arrows at us, which were impeded by a strong gale of wind that blew them off their intended course. Our chief officer having fallen, I now, as next in rank, took command of the party, and stationed them in the best way I could to defend our post. I did not allow more than one or two muskets to be fired at a time, and kept the wounded man loading for us. Several of the natives ascended the hill to within a few yards of us, and were shot by us in self-defence as fast as they approached. After some of them had been killed in this manner, the rest kept off. Having but little ammunition left, we were as sparing of it as possible; besides this, we did not wish to irritate the natives more than they page 336already were, by firing, except when driven to it by necessity. From our elevated situation we had a clear view of the landing place; the boats at anchor, the two Bau canoes and the ship were waiting our return. We had but little prospect of ever rejoining them, though I had some hopes that Capt. Robson would make an effort to rescue us by arming six Indian soldiers that were on board, two or three Europeans, and the Bau people in the canoes. These hopes soon vanished when I saw the Bau canoes set sail, and steer towards their own island without passing alongside the ship.
The plain which surrounded the rock was covered with armed savages assembled from all parts of the coast, amounting to several thousands, who had been in ambush, waiting for us to land. This assemblage now exhibited a scene revolting to human nature. Fires were prepared, and ovens heated for the reception of the bodies of our ill-fated companions, who, as well as the Bau chiefs and their slaughtered men, were brought to the fires in the following manner. Two of the Wailea people placed a stick or limb of a tree on their shoulders, over which were thrown the bodies of their victims, with their legs hanging down on one side and their heads on the other. They were thus carried in triumph to the ovens prepared to receive them. Here they were placed in a sitting posture, while the savages sung and danced with joy over their prizes, and fired several musket balls through each of the corpses, all the muskets of the slain having fallen into their hands. No sooner was this ceremony over than the priests began to cut up and dissect these unfortunate men in our presence. The feet were cut off at the ancles, the legs from the knees, the thighs at the hip joints, the hands at the wrists, the arms at the elbows, the shoulders at the sockets, and lastly, the head page 337and neck were separated from the body. Each of these divisions of the human frame formed one joint, which was carefully wrapped in green plantain leaves, and placed in the ovens to be baked; meanwhile, we were closely guarded on all sides but one, which fronted the thick mangrove forest on the banks of the river. Savage proposed to Martin Bushart to run for that, and endeavor to escape to the water's side and swim for the ship. This I opposed, threatening to shoot the first man dead who left the hill, and my threat for the present had the desired effect. By this time the fury of the savages was somewhat abated, and they began to listen attentively to our harangues and offers of reconciliation. I reminded them that on the day the fourteen canoes were seized and taken, eight of their men had been made prisoners on board the ship, where they were now confined. One of them was Bete, brother of the chief of Wailea. I represented to the multitude that if we were killed, the eight prisoners would be put to death on board; but that if I, and my five companions, were not sacrificed, we would cause the eight prisoners to be released immediately. The head priest, who is regarded as a deity by these savages, immediately asked if I was speaking truth, and if his brother and the other seven men were alive. I assured him they were, and that I would send a man on board to the captain to order them to be released, if he would convey the man in safety to the boat from among the multitude; this the priest promised to do immediately As Thomas Dafny was wounded, and had no arms to defend himself, I prevailed on him to venture down the rock with the priest, and thence to the boat. He was to inform Capt. Robson of our horrid situation, which may be more easily imagined than described. I also directed him to tell the captain that it was my particular request page 338he should release one-half of the prisoners, and show them a large chest of iron mongery, whales' teeth, &c, which he might promise to deliver to the remaining four prisoners with their liberty, the moment we returned to the ship. This man proceeded as directed, and I did not lose sight of him from the time he left us until he got on the ship's deck. A cessation of arms took place in the meantime, which might have continued unbroken had it not been for the imprudence of Charles Savage, who put a greater temptation in the way of the natives than they could withstand.
During this interval several native chiefs ascended the hill, and came within a few paces of us with protestations of friendship, and proffered us security if we would go down among them. To these promises I would not accede, nor allow my men to do so, till Charles Savage, who had resided on the islands for more than five years and spoke the native dialect fluently, begged me to allow him to go down among the natives with the chiefs to whom we were speaking, as he had no doubt their promises would be kept, and that if I allowed him to go he would certainly procure a peace, and enable us all to return in safety to the ship. Overcome by his importunities I gave my consent, but reminded him that I did not wish him to do so, and that he must leave his musket and ammunition with me. This he did, and proceeded about two hundred yards from the foot of the rock to the place where Vunisa, the chief of Wailea was seated, surrounded by chiefs who were happy to receive him, their secret determination being to kill and eat him. They conversed with him, however, for some time, and then called out to me in the native dialect, 'Come down, Peter, we will not hurt you; you see we do not hurt Charley.' I re-page 339plied that I would not go down until the prisoners arrived.
During this discussion, Luis, the Chinaman, stole down the opposite side of the hill unknown to me, with bis arms, for the purpose of placing himself under the protection of a chief with whom he was intimately acquainted, and to whom he had rendered important services in former wars. The islanders finding they could not prevail on me to place myself in their power, set up a scream that rent the air. At that moment Charles Savage was seized by the legs, and held in that state by six men, with his head placed in a well of fresh water until he was suffocated; while at the same time a savage got behind the Chinaman, and knocked the upper part of his skull to pieces with his huge club. These wretched men were scarcely lifeless, when they were cut up and put into the ovens already prepared for the purpose.
We, the three defenders of the rock, were then furiously attacked on all sides by the cannibals, whom our muskets, however, kept in great dread, though the chiefs stimulated their men to ascend and bring us down, promising to confer the greatest honors on the man who should kill me, and frequently inquired of their people if they were afraid of three white men when they had killed several that day. Thus encouraged, they pressed close upon us. Having four muskets between three of us, two always remained loaded, for Wilson being a bad marksman, we kept him loading the muskets, while Martin Bushart and I kept firing them off. Bushart had been a rifleman in his own country, and was an excellent marksman. He shot twenty-seven of the cannibals with twenty-eight discharges, only missing once. I also killed and wounded a few of them in self-defence. Finding page 340they could not conquer us without a great sacrifice on their part, they kept off and vowed vengeance.
The human bodies being now prepared, were withdrawn from the ovens and distributed among the different tribes, who devoured them greedily. They frequently invited me to come down and be killed before it was dark, that they might not have the trouble of dissecting and baking me in the night. I was bespoken joint by joint by the different chiefs, who exultingly brandished their weapons in the air, and boasted the number of white men each had killed during the day.
In reply to all this, I informed them that if I was killed, their countrymen confined on board our vessel would be killed also; but that if I was saved, they would be saved. The ruthless savages replied, 'Capt. Robson may kill and eat our countrymen if he chooses, we will kill and eat you. When it is dark you cannot see to shoot us, and you have no more powder.'
My companions and myself, seeing no hope of mercy on earth, turned our eyes towards heaven, and implored the Almighty Ruler of all things to have compassion on our wretched souls. We had not the most distant hope of escaping the savages, and expected to be devoured as our companions had been. The only thing which prevented us from surrendering quietly, was the dread of being taken alive and put to the torture.
These people sometimes, but not very often, torture their prisoners in the following manner:—They skin the soles of the feet, and then torment their victims with firebrands, so as to make them jump about in that wretched state. At other times they cut off the prisoner's eyelids, and turn his face to the sun, at which he is obliged to look with his bare eyes.
Having no more than sixteen or seventeen cartridges page 341left, we determined as soon as it was dark to place the muzzles of our muskets to our hearts with the ends on the ground, and discharge them into our breasts, thus to avoid the danger of falling alive into the hands of these cannibal monsters.
At this moment the boat put off from the ship, and soon got close to the landing place, where we counted the eight prisoners landing from her. I could not imagine how the captain could have acted in so strange a manner, as the only hope presented of our lives being spared, was by allowing a part of the prisoners to land, who would of course intercede with their friends on shore to save us that we might in return protect their countrymen when we returned to the ship; but this precaution not being attended to, all hope seemed to have fled, and the only hope of relief left, was the dreadful determination of destroying our own lives in the manner already mentioned.
Shortly after the eight prisoners landed, they were conveyed unarmed up the rock to me, preceded by the priest, who informed me that Capt. Robson had released the eight men, and sent a chest of cutlery, iron-mongery, &c., on shore for the chiefs, with orders that we were to deliver our muskets to them, and that he would see us in safety to the boat.
I replied that as long as I lived I would not part with my musket, which was my own property, as I was certain they would slaughter me and my companions as they had Charles Savage and Luis.
The priest then turned to Martin Bushart, and harangued him on the policy of our complying. At this moment the thought entered my head of making the priest my prisoner, and either to destroy him or to regain my liberty. I tied Charles Savage's musket with my page 342neck-handkerchief to the belt of my cartridge-box, and presenting my own musket to the priest's head, told him that I would shoot him dead if he attempted to run away, or if any of his companions tried to molest me or my companions. I then directed him to proceed before me to the boat, threatening him with instant death in case of non-compliance. The priest proceeded as directed, and as we passed through the multitude, he exhorted them to sit down, and upon no account to molest Peter or his countrymen, because if they attempted to hurt us he would be shot, and they, of course, must be aware that they would consequently incur the wrath of the gods in the clouds, who would be angry at the disobedience of the divine orders, and cause the sea to rise and swallow up the island with all its inhabitants.
The multitude treated their priest's injunctions with profound respect, and sat down on the grass. The priest proceeded towards the boat, with the muzzles of Bushart's and Wilson's muskets at each of his ears, while the muzzle of mine was placed between his shoulders. Finding night approaching, and anxious to prolong life, I had recourse to this dreadful expedient, being aware of the influence and sway which the priests in all barbarous nations have over their votaries.
On getting to the boats the priest made a sudden stop. I ordered him to proceed, but he refused in the most positive manner, declaring that he would go no farther, and that I might shoot him if I chose. I threatened to do so, and asked him why he would not go to the water's edge. He replied, 'You want to take me on board alive, and put me to the torture.' There being no time to spare, I told him to stand still, and turned my face to him with my musket presented, threatening to shoot him if he attempted to move until I got into the boat. We then page 343walked backwards to the water's side, and up to our breasts in water, where we joined the boat, and had no sooner got into it than the islanders came down and saluted us with a shower of arrows and stones from slings.
Being once more out of danger, we returned thanks to Divine Providence for our escape, and proceeded towards the ship.
I expostulated with Capt. Robson on his extraordinary conduct in causing so many human beings to be unnecessarily sacrificed. He offered some absurd apologies, and inquired if we were all that had escaped. I told him we were, but that if the natives could have made a proper use of all the muskets that fell into their hands on that occasion, we must all have been killed."
Thus ends the story of Peter Dillon, who must have been taught by the disastrous events above recorded, that it was not so fine sport after all to go on shore and shoot savages as though they were so many monkeys, to burn their dwellings and destroy their plantations.
The father of Mary Wallis, the Lasakau widow, was one of the Bau chiefs who was killed on that occasion.
Anchored at Tavea. The Glide, a tender belonging to the bark, was sent to this part of Feejee some weeks since, to get houses under way, and urge the natives on with the fishing against the arrival of the bark. On her return, we met at Buladagaloa, and were informed that nothing could be done here at present, as several of the Tavea people had been murdered at Yanganga, in consequence of which, war would commence immediately.
Namosimalua being at Naikaratumba with his large canoe and many of his people, hastened hither that he might join with Elijah in inducing the natives to give op hostilities, at least for the present, and go on with their page 344fishing, it being deemed of more importance to collect luxuries for the Chinese, than to feed themselves with human flesh.
The Tavea people have hitherto been a very bold, saucy set of natives, provoking their neighbors by their hostile proceedings. Of late, however, Natemba has renounced heathenism, and seems to have become a better, though not a good man. His enemies, however, are not at peace with him, as they have recently shown by the massacre of ten of the warriors of Tavea. The Tavea people have been engaged for some time past in fishing turtle for Bau, which they had placed in a pen on the island of Yanganga. Eleven men who were sent to bring the turtle to Tavea, were all murdered hut one, who escaped to tell the tale. Retova and a chief of the island of Naloa are among the most powerful of the enemies of Tavea. They have exerted an influence along the coast and among the adjacent islands in this vicinity, so that now the little island is completely hemmed in on all sides, and its inhabitants imprisoned. We hope, however, that the arrival of the Waqa Vanua, the Langi Lavu, and the influential characters which they have brought, will change the present aspect of affairs for the better.
Four canoes have arrived at Naloa from Mathuata, for the purpose of joining that people against Tavea, It is said that they contain a great number of warriors, and intend to attack Tavea to-morrow. Natemba is here, Namosirnalua spent the night at Naloa, and Elijah has gone to prevail upon Dumbui, the chief, to come here and meet Natemba, and see if they can come to an amicable settlement.
Elijah, on arriving at Naloa this morning, assembled the chiefs and warriors of the place, with those who had page 345come from Mathunta, and thus addressed them: "Why did you kill the people of Tavea?"
"Because many years ago they killed our people."
"Are you now satisfied? "
"Do you wish for war? "
"It is just as you say. If you say war, it shall be war; and if you say peace, it shall be peace."
"I have come in the 'waqa vanua,' or the big ship," said Elijah, "to assist Capt. Wallis in getting "beech de mer." I wish you to leave fighting and go a fishing. The Tavea people wish to fish, but they are afraid. You have killed ten of their strong men. The "waqa vanua "is sent here from Bau with yanggona from its chiefs for you to get "beech de mer" for it. If you kill or trouble any who are employed in its service, I shall send word to Bau, and they will come, as they did sometime ago, and make you all run for your lives. My speech is ended."
They replied that his speech was good, and it should be as he said. Elijah then requested Dumbui to accompany him to the bark and meet Natemba; but he probably remembered sundry acts of his own, committed during the latter part of our last voyage, which did not add to his dignity as a chief, and refused to accompany Elijah, saying that Capt. W, would keep him and he dared not to come. Elijah asked him if he had not known Capt. W. for many years. He replied that he had. He then asked him if he had ever known him to confine a Feejeean on board any vessel that he had commanded. He replied that he had not. "Then come with me," said Elijah, "he will not do so now. Do you not know that Mrs. Wallis is on board, and the vessel is a c waqa ni lolu?' "Dumbui entered the boat with fear, not daring to page 346refuse to visit the vessel, yet fearing the punishment due to his former transgressions. While on his passage to the bark, however, a capital idea occurred to his mind, and inspired him with confidence. He suddenly cried out, "flu sa lotu." "I am a Christian." He seemed to feel that if he acknowledged himself a Christian, he was safe.
Namosimalu, with his principal chiefs and officers, Natemba and several counsellors of Dumbui arrived, and a great meeting was held on our decks and in the house of the bark. The meeting was opened by Namosimalua, who stated that its object was to consummate a peace between the contending parties present. The parties talked long and sometimes loud when relating their grievances, but they finally concluded to bury all their animosities and unite in their labors for the bark. None of the Mathuata warriors were present, feeling no doubt disappointed at the change of affairs. They came to fight, that they might procure dead men for their ovens and appetites, and do not like to return to their homes as they came.
We have been informed that while Retova was fitting the canoes for the present expedition, he sent whales' teeth to Natemba, with complimentary speeches and protestations of love and friendship, which Natemba, at the time all unsuspicious, received, and returned others in their stead.
After the breaking up of the meeting on deck, Namosimalua, Elijah, Natemba, Dumbui, and two of the attendants of the latter, came into the cabin, where all knelt while Elijah offered a most fervent and appropriate prayer. He prayed that this peace might be permanent, —that the parties might not only be Christian in name, but that they might love God and serve him truly,—that page 347they might give up war, killing and eating each other, till their lands, and live no longer like pigs, but be like men, &c.
Dumbui and Natemba knelt by the side of each other, and I am not certain that Dumbui was not desiring all the time to eat a piece of his neighbor. Natemba appears much altered, and sincerely to desire instruction in the gospel.
Sabbath. Elijah preached at Tavea in the morning, and at Naloa in the afternoon. He found Dumbui at Naloa so deeply engaged in some native game of amusement, that it was long before he could leave to attend to the preaching.
Since my last date nothing of importance has occurred. The natives of Naloa and Tavea have erected "beech de mer" houses, and been engaged in collecting the precious article. They seem to regard Elijah as their prophet, priest and king. Dumbui is as much a Christian at heart as he ever was; but having renounced heathenism, he cannot well avoid listening to religious instruction. Elijah says perhaps God will soften his heart by and by.
Retova has honored us with a visit, when the chiefs and people held another meeting on board, and had another talk, after which they drank yanggona and became friends.
Yanggona drinking is a great affair in Feejee. No meetings are held and no business is transacted without the drinking of yanggona. It is a part of their religious ceremony.
The Feejeeans give the following account of the origin of this root:—They say that a man and his wife started many years ago from Tonga, in a canoe, for the purpose of trying to catch the sun for a "tombe," or neck orna-page 348ment. They thought they should find the place where it sets, by sailing towards it, and they kept on till they arrived in Feejee, Their child was buried on an island near Bau. From the grave, the first root of yanggona ever known in Feejee sprang up.
|17.||Elijah preached at Tavea. He had a large and attentive congregation. Natemba and several of his tribe wish to be married and baptized. In accordance with their request, I have written to Rev. J. Williams, at Bua, to request him to visit this place, when convenient, for the purpose of performing such religious ceremonies as he deems expedient.|
|19.||Last night an unusual noise near the windows of the cabin awoke us. Soon after, the watchman entered, and informed Mr. W. that he believed "De devil was hanging by de hook over de stern." It was found to be an enormous shark. He was safely moored till morning, when he was sent ashore to serve as a feast for the natives.|
In the morning, just at the dawn of day, Elijah walked to a retired spot on the island, and knelt among the bushes to pray. He had not been thus engaged long, before he heard a slight rustling among the bushes. Feeling no doubt, in such a land as this, the importance of watching as well as praying, he looked up and saw a man standing over him, with his club raised, just ready to strike. "What! is it you, Elijah?" exclaimed the man, "I thought it was some one who was hiding for a vile purpose, and was just ready to kill him." "The Lord has preserved me from your murderous hand," said Elijah, "as He will ever preserve those that fully trust in page 349Him." The man walked off, and Elijah finished his prayer, thanking God most heartily for his preservation.
After tea I visited the island of Tavea for the first time. All the boys and girls of the place closely followed our steps, just as the boys run behind a crazy person in our streets at home, and when we turned to look at them, they would run away as if afraid that we should bite them. The island is very small, its inhabitants numerous, and the houses in a dilapidated condition. The house of Moses was large, but nearly in ruins. "Why do you not build better houses?" I asked. "We are afraid that our enemies will come and burn them," was the reply. Formerly, no food was raised here,—the inhabitants depending entirely upon the main land for their subsistence, but, having learned at length how easy a matter it is to be surrounded by enemies, and starved, they have set out bread-fruit and banana trees in abundance. The island of Naloa has been the garden of Tavea till of late. Dumbui has built a town and settled there with his tribe. There are now large plantations on it belonging to the Tavea people; but they have recently been kept from procuring food there by the hostility of Dumbui and his cannibals. On our arrival, the Tavea people had subsisted for some time on green bananas only. We walked to the opposite side of the island, and found that a few rods only separated it from the Vanualavu, or the main land.
Mr. Williams here gave me an account of the manner in which the natives exchange their food. The inhabitants of the small islands bring their fish to the main, and deposit it on the shore in heaps, taking care fo keep a good distance from their neighbors, for there seems never to be a time when Feejeeans can trust each other. The inhabitants of the main also deposit the veg-page 350etables which they may have brought, in heaps like the others. When all are ready, a rush is made by the parties to procure what they can, and run for their homes. Of course, the division of food is most unequal. A poor old woman has, perhaps, been successful in fishing, and carries to the shore a larger quantity than the rest; but, distanced by the strong and more active, she totters back to her Home without any thing in return. About dusk we returned to the bark, where Mr. Williams preached in the evening in English in the house on deck, and afterward prayed in native in the cabin.
Mr. Williams left us to return to Bua. He related the following incident of their life at Bua. It appears that after the death of Tui Mbua, a son, named Muchanamu, assumed the title of Turaga-lavu, and imagined himself a great man. He had an elder brother whose rank was equal to his own, but he had been reared by a relative who had for many years been at variance with his father. He renounced heathenism, became a good man and cared not to govern the people belonging to his late father. Accordingly, there was no one to dispute the authority of Muchanamu, and he proceeded to lay the following plans for his own aggrandizement and the benefit of posterity. He assembled all his warriors and in secret conclave communicated his plans of the great and glorious enterprise in which he wished them to engage. First they were to proceed to Mathuata, kill Revtova and as many of his people as possible, in revenge for an uncle who had been killed long before. After their conquest of Mathuata, on their return to Bua they were to destroy all their enemies, burn their towns, destroy their plantations, and bring the women and riches to Bua. After their return from his glorious campaign were to attack the mission station, mas-page 351sacre Mr. Williams and the children, and take the property belonging to the mission for a spoil. After all this was accomplished, the women and the riches were to be divided among the warriors, Mrs. W. falling to the share of Muchanamu. A "buri" was to be erected lo commemorate the wonderful events, the warriors were to be feasted, and then return to their homes laden with riches and covered with glory. The assembled warriors were delighted with the glowing prospects now set before them, and proceeded at once to cut and erect the posts for the great "buri," which was to be finished on their return.
After several days of feasting, the army departed for Mathuata, which was to be the first scene of action. They had not travelled far, when Muchanamu went into a town to order food to be prepared for himself and his warriors. It appears that he went into the town alone, which is an unusual thing for a chief. I know of no instance in Feejee in which a chief ventured abroad unattended. The inhabitants of the town, whom he supposed were his friends, showed their love to him by depriving him of his life and sending his body to Raverave. No reason is known for the act. Many stories are told, but the truth is not to be obtained, at least, at present. The sudden and unexpected death of their chief cooled the courage of the warriors, and they fled in terror to their homes.
It will be recollected that Mr. Williams and family were stationed for several years at Somosomo. He related to us some anecdotes of Tuilili, the ruling chief of that place. He describes him as being exceedingly large in size, and possessing a great deal of muscular strength, the expression of his countenance as most wicked, and his general appearance revolting in the ex-page 352treme. He is a great tyrant, but tender of his own subjects.
On one occasion a man stole some article from Mr. W. He complained to the chief, who began to take fire at once. "Who is the man?" he asked. The name was mentioned. "Oh, but he is one of my men. I thought it had been somebody else, that I might have punished him." "And why is one of your men to be passed by? the loss is the same to me," said Mr. W. Nothing more was said about the affair, and the culprit did not know that his chief knew of the depredation which he had committed. The chief, however, kept the thing in his mind, and determined to give his people a lesson through the punishment of another. Soon after the first complaint, a Tonguese stole something, when the chief clubbed him severely, saying that was the way to serve thieves. His people received the warning, and were benefited by it. Thus the object of the chief was effected without punishing one of his own people.
Messrs, Lyth and Williams at one time refused him some request that he had made, when he became exceedingly angry, rushed into the house, and catching hold of them, took one in each hand, (both are small men, and he almost a giant,) and threatened to smash them together. In a few moments, however, he became cool enough to listen to reason, and soon became as loving as he had been angry. Their tea was about being served. He seated himself by Mr. W. and would eat from the same plate, and the same piece of bread must serve both; first one taking a bite and then the other. He would sometimes eat half a banana, and thrust the remaining half into the mouth of one of the gentlemen. Sometimes, when his body was well besmeared with black and red paint, he would fall to hugging one of the page 353gentlemen, till the victim would get the greatest portion of the paint transferred to himself.
A few months previous to the death of the king of Somosomo, the father of Tuilili, he went to Bau. Tuilili stood on the shore, his bosom heaving, and the big tears coursing down his cheeks, exclaiming, "Oh! I shall never see my old father again." The gentlemen of the mission called to. see him soon after, and found him seated in one corner of his house, with a few of his father's old friends, weeping most bitterly, and talking of his father. Contrary, however, to the fears of Tuilili, the old king lived to return to his home, and be buried alive by his dutiful and affectionate son. The following story of the death of the king is given as related to us by Mr. W.
As soon as he heard of the sickness of the king, he called to visit him. Tuilili met him with one of his affectionate embraces, and said, "See, the father of us both is dead!" "Dead!" exclaimed Mr. Williams, as he glanced at the heaving breast of the king. "Yes, his spirit is gone,—that is only his body that moves," was the reply. The king raised his hand to his neck, and felt of a necklace of whales' teeth that had been placed there, then coughed, and laid his hand on his side. The loving son would not allow Mr. W. to speak to the king, who, finding that he could not save him from being buried alive, turned his attention to the living. Two women had been strangled already, and they were preparing more for the awful ceremony; but Mr. W. prevailed on Tuilili to promise that no more, should be sacrificed. The body of the still living king was wrapped in mats, and with those of the women was taken to a place called Nasima, where he was divested of his ornaments and carried to his grave. The bodies of the women were first placed in the grave, and then that page 354of the king. He was heard to cough in the grave before the earth was thrown in.
Thirty whales' teeth, twelve muskets, four clubs, and a large quantity of cloth had been presented to the sick man, but he was sent to "bulu," to encounter all the dangers of the way without either, and no other protection than that which could be afforded by the women who had accompanied him. There is one particular family at Somosomo, whose privilege it is on the death of a chief to supply a man, who is strangled and goes on before his superior, to hold a certain large dog, (which is always in the way between this world and "bulu,") while the chief passes on his way. On this occasion however, the family, from some cause, could not meet the supply, and that part of the ceremony was omitted.
Mr. W. thinks that the indirect influence of Christianity may be observed in the ease with which many important parts of their former ceremonies, on such occasions, have been laid aside.
After the interment of the king, there was a great demand for scissors, razors, knives, &c. Dandies were despoiled of their well-dressed whiskers, moustaches, &c. A great reduction of fingers also took place, but there were not enough to supply the demand, and many were required from the country.
Mr. Williams while with us also related the following affair, which lately occurred at Nandy, the station occupied by Rev. D. Hazlewood. Mr. H. was at Bua with his child at the time.
The Saukase people sent a messenger to the chief of Solavu, saying, "The people of Nandy have embraced the 'lolu ' religion. We will go and kill them, burn their towns, and despoil them of their riches. Will you join us?" The chief of Solavu has been for some page 355time past exceedingly virulent against the Christians of Nandy, He sent word, therefore, that he would gladly join in the work of destruction. The hostile tribes lost no time in joining their forces and marching towards Nandy. As they approached the place, their courage entirely forsook them, and instead of clubbing, spearing, shootiug, and then feasting on the bodies of the slain, as they had boasted, they stopped, looked fearfully at each other, and, at length sent a messenger into the town, saying, "What shall we do?" "Do what you choose," was the answer. Another messenger came, saying, "Tell us what we must do." "Do just what you wish," was the brief reply. The Nandy people had prepared themselves for the reception of their enemies, and were quietly waiting their approach. At length the invaders came within speaking distance of the assembled warriors of Nandy, and both parties seated themselves upon the ground, and stared at each other. After some time, the commander of the besiegers said to the Christian chief, "You 'soro' to us, and we will go home." "Why should we 'soro' to you, having done you no harm?" was the cool reply. "Ah, no, but you 'soro,' and we will leave you in peace," said he. "No, we shall not 'soro,'" said the chief. Another pause ensued, and they continued to look at each other. A warrior then took a whale's tooth, and holding it on one side, that it might not be seen by his fellows, walked stealthily to the Nandy chief, and in a whisper said, "Here, you take this tooth, and 'soro' to us, that we may go home." "I shall do no such thing," replied the chief. The disconcerted warrior returned to his place, and the parties still stared at each other. The invaders could not summon courage to attack the Christians, and they were ashamed to leave the place without doing any thing. At page 356last the Solavu, or the Saukase chief, (I have forgotten which,) took a whale's tooth, and, pretending to represent the Nandy people, presented it to his own warriors, or the two hostile tribes, and said, hurriedly, "Here, you take this tooth, you be of 'a good mind 'towards us, and we will be of 'a good mind 'towards you. After playing "soro "in this manner, they departed. I think Mr. W. said that the Saukase people were subject to Nandy.
After the Saukase people returned to their homes they held a council, when a speaker, addressing the assembly, said, "We have acted like fools. We went to fight Nandy; we returned as we went; we were afraid, and now we are ashamed. What shall we do?" "Renounce our gods and join the Christians. It was the Christians' god that made you afraid," was the reply. "Venaka" (it is good) was the response. The result was that the whole tribe renounced heathenism, and are receiving religious instruction.
Raverave. Retova has become quite impatient with us for remaining so long at Tavea, that "kaise" place, as he terms it. He had forbidden the selling of food to that people, and thrown out sundry hints about burning houses, &c. Accordingly Mr. W. made arrangements for the Tavea and Naloa people to go on with their fishing, while he visited Raverave with the bark and made love to the chief.
I notice a marked difference in the dialect of the different parts of this group of islands. For instance, the inhabitants at the windward of Raverave call the name of the chief of Mathuata, Garatova; at the leeward, Retova; while the inhabitants of Geer call him Oratova.
Namosimalua came here from Naloa to present his page 357large canoe, the Lagi-lavu, to Retova. He was accompanied by some sixty or eighty of his people, who have all remained here for the Jast five weeks. Namosi is fond of making a great show; but Retova is not fond of feeding so many visitors for such a length of time.
|June 1.||A Vewa man died last night at Raverave. He had formerly renounced heathenism, but on coming to this place to live, he took a couple of wives, and returned to all the innocent delights of heathenism again. The widows were anxious to accompany their husband to the other world, and were preparing to do so, when Elijah landed from the boat and forbade their being strangled.|
|4.||Namosimalua and Retova have requested Mr. W. to take the chief of Vewa, with his attendants, pigs, turtles, and all belonging to him, to Naikarotumba, or Vetelavu. Mr. W., not having sufficient supplies for so large a company, as he would be expected to find them food on their way, and not deeming it important for the interests of his voyage, he modestly refused compliance, much to the chagrin of the chiefs.|
|6.||The visitors of Raverave departed this morning, after having, like the locusts of Egypt, eaten down every green thing.|