Jouney to Kearakomo—Description of the dracæna, or ti plant—Account of the application of a priestess of Pélé to the chiefs at Maui, to revenge the insult offered to the goddess—Visit of Kapiolani to the crater—Reported eruption of lava in Kapapala—Sabbath in Kearakomo—Affectionate reception of Mauae—Fragment of a song on his birth—Conversation with the people—Marks of an earthquake—Description of Kaimu—Manner of launching and landing canoes at Kehena—Preaching—Visit to Kinao—Popular superstitions respecting the origin of diseases.
Though we left our encampment at daybreak, it was eleven o'clock in the forenoon before we took our final leave of Kirauea.
The path by which we descended towards the sea was about south-east-by-east. On the high lands in the vicinity of the crater, we found the ground covered with strawberry plants, on some of which were a few berries, but the season for them appeared to be gone by. The plants and vines were small, as was also the fruit, which in its colour and shape resembled the hautboy strawberry, though in taste it was much more insipid. Strawberries, as well as raspberries, are indigenous plants, and are found in great abundance over most of the high lands of Hawaii; though we do not know of their existence in any other islands of the group.page 271
The ground over which we walked was composed of ancient lava, of a light brown colour, broken into small pieces, resembling coarse dry gravel, to the depth of two or three inches, below which it appeared one solid mass of lava. The surface was covered with ohelo bushes, and a few straggling ferns and low shrubs, which made travelling more agreeable than when we approached the volcano. Within a few miles of Kirauea, we passed three or four high and extinct craters. One of them, Keanakakoi, the natives told us, sent forth, in the days of Riroa, king of Hawaii, about fourteen generations back, most of the lava over which we were travelling. The sides of these craters were generally covered with verdure, while the brown irregular-shaped rocks, on their indented summits, frowned like the battlements of a castle in ruins. We occasionally passed through rather extensive shrubberies of bushes and small trees, growing in the decomposed lava and sand, and striking their roots among the cracks which were filled up with the same material. As we approached the sea, the soil became more generally spread over the surface, and vegetation more luxuriant.
We stopped at a solitary cottage, where we procured a draught of fresh water, to us exceedingly grateful, as we had travelled since the morning without any refreshment, except a few berries and a piece of sugar-cane. We descended 300 or 400 feet, by a narrow winding path, covered with overhanging trees, and bordered by shrubs and grass. We then walked over a tract of lava, broken and decomposed, and about four or five miles wide, at the end of which another steep appeared. These steep precipices form concentric page 272 ridges of volcanic rock round the greater part of this side of the island. Down this we descended, by following the course of a rugged current of ancient lava, for about 600 feet perpendicular depth, when we arrived at the plain below, which was one extended sheet of lava, without shrub or bush, stretching to the north and south as far as the eye could reach, and from four to six miles across, from the foot of the mountain to the sea. The natives gave us the fabulous story of the combat between Pélé and Tamapuaa, as the origin of this flood of lava. This vast tract of lava was black, shining, and cellular, though not very brittle, and was more homogeneous than that which covered the southern shores of the island. We crossed it in about two hours, and arrived at Kearakomo, the second village in the division of Puna. We stopped at the first house we came to, and asked for water. The natives brought us a calabash-full, of which we drank most hearty draughts, though it was little better than the water of the sea, from which it had percolated through the vesicles of the lava into hollows from nine to twelve feet distant from the ocean. It barely quenched our thirst while we were swallowing it, but it was the best we could procure, and we could hardly refrain from drinking at every hollow to which we came. After walking about a mile along the beach, we came to a house, which our guide pointed out as our lodgings. It was a miserable hut, and we asked if we could not find better accommodation: as we intended to spend the Sabbath in the village? Mauae told us it was the only one in the place that was not crowded with people, and he thought the most comfortable one we could procure.page 273
The village is populous, and the natives soon thronged around us. To our great regret, two-thirds of them appeared to be in a state of intoxication, a circumstance we frequently had occasion to lament, in the villages through which we passed. Their inebriation was generally the effect of an intoxicating drink made of fermented sugar-cane juice, sweet potatoes, or ti root.
The ti plant is common in all the South Sea islands, and is a variety of dracæna, resembling the dracæna terminalis, except in the colour of its leaves, which are of a lively shining green. It is a slow-growing plant, with a large woody fusiform root, which, when first dug out of the ground, is hard and fibrous, almost tasteless, and of a white or light yellow colour. The natives bake it in large ovens under ground. After baking, it appears like a different substance altogether, being of a yellowish brown colour, soft, though fibrous, and saturated with a highly saccharine juice. It is sweet and pleasant to the taste, and much of it was eaten in this state, but the greater part is employed in making an intoxicating liquor much used by the natives. They bruise the baked roots with a stone, and steep them with water in a barrel or the bottom of an old canoe, till the mass is in a state of fermentation. The liquor is then drawn off, and sometimes distilled, when it produces a strong spirit; but the greater part of it is drank in its fermented state without any further preparation. The root is certainly capable of being used for many valuable purposes. A good beer may be made from it; and in the Society Islands, though never able to granulate it, we have frequently boiled its juice to a think syrup, page 274 and used it as a substitute for sugar, when destitute of that article.
We should think it an excellent antiscorbutic, and, as such, useful to ships on long voyages. Captains visiting the Society Islands frequently procure large quantities of it, to make beer with during their voyage, as it will keep good six weeks or two months after it is baked.∗
∗On my return, in the American ship Russell, Captain Coleman, we procured a quantity that had been baked, at Rurutu, near the Society Islands, and brought it round Cape Horn. It lasted five or six weeks, and would probably have kept longer, as the only change we perceived during that time was a slight degree of acidity in the taste. Cattle, sheep, and goats, are fond of the leaves; and, as they contain more nutriment than any other indigenous vegetable, and may be kept on board ships several weeks, they are certainly the best provender that can be procured in the islands for stock taken to sea.
Other parts of the dracæna are also useful. The natives frequently plant the roots thickly around their enclosures, interweave the stems of the plant, and form a valuable permanent hedge. The branch was always an emblem of peace, and, in times of war, borne, together with a young plantain tree, as a flag of truce by the messengers who passed between the hostile parties. The leaves, woven together by their stalks, formed a short cloak, which the natives wore in their mountainous journeys; they also make the most durable thatch for the sides and roofs of their best houses.
About sunset we sent to the head man of the village for some refreshment, but he was intoxicated; and though we had walked upwards of twenty miles since morning, and had subsisted on but scanty fare since leaving Kapapala, we could only procure a few cold potatoes, and two or three page 275 pieces of raw salt fish. Multitudes crowded around our hut; and with those that were sober we entered into conversation.
The apprehensions uniformly entertained by the natives, of the fearful consequences of Pélé's anger, prevented their paying very frequent visits to the vicinity of her abode; and when, on their inland journeys, they had occasion to approach Kirauea, they were scrupulously attentive to every injunction of her priests, and regarded with a degree of superstitious veneration and awe the appalling spectacle which the crater and its appendages presented. The violations of her sacred abode, and the insults to her power, of which we had been guilty, appeared to them, and to the natives in general, acts of temerity and sacrilege; and, notwithstanding the fact of our being foreigners, we were subsequently threatened with the vengeance of the volcanic deity, under the following circumstances.
Some months after our visit to Kirauea, a priestess of Pélé came to Lahaina, in Maui, where the principal chiefs of the islands then resided. The object of her visit was noised abroad among the people, and much public interest excited. One or two mornings after her arrival in the district, arrayed in her prophetic robes, having the edges of her garments burnt with fire, and holding a short staff or spear in her hand, preceded by her daughter, who was also a candidate for the office of priestess, and followed by thousands of the people, she came into the presence of the chiefs; and, having told who she was, they asked what communications she had to make. She replied, that, in a trance or vision, she had been with Pélé, by whom she was charged to complain to them page 276 that a number of foreigners had visited Kirauea, eaten the sacred berries; broken her houses, the craters; thrown down large stones, &c. to request that the offenders might be sent away—and to assure them, that if these foreigners were not banished from the islands, Pélé would certainly, in a given number of days, take vengeance, by inundating the country with lava, and destroying the people. She also pretended to have received, in a supernatural manner, Rihoriho's approbation of the request of the goddess. The crowds of natives who stood waiting the result of her interview with the chiefs, were almost as much astonished as the priestess herself, when Kaahumanu, and the other chiefs, ordered all her paraphernalia of office to be thrown into the fire, told her the message she had delivered was a falsehood, and directed her to return home, cultivate the ground for her subsistence, and discontinue her deceiving the people.
This answer was dictated by the chiefs themselves. The Missionaries at the station, although they were aware of the visit of the priestess, and saw her, followed by the thronging crowd, pass by their habitation on her way to the residence of the chiefs, did not think it necessary to attend or interfere, but relied entirely on the enlightened judgment and integrity of the chiefs, to suppress any attempts that might be made to revive the influence of Péle over the people; and in the result they were not disappointed, for the natives returned to their habitations, and the priestess soon after left the island, and has not since troubled them with the threatenings of the goddess.
On another occasion, Kapiolani, a pious chief-woman, the wife of Naihe, chief of Kaavaroa, was page 277 passing near the volcano, and expressed her determination to visit it. Some of the devotees of the goddess met her, and attempted to dissuade her from her purpose; assuring her, that though foreigners might go there with security, yet Pélé would allow no Hawaiian to intrude. Kapiolani, however, was not to be thus diverted, but proposed that they should all go together; and declaring that if Pélé appeared, or inflicted any punishment, she would then worship the goddess, but proposing, that if nothing of the kind took place, they should renounce their attachment to Pélé, and join with her and her friends in acknowledging Jehovah as the true God. They all went together to the volcano; Kapiolani, with her attendants, descended several hundred feet towards the bottom of the crater, where she spoke to them of the delusion they had formerly laboured under in supposing it inhabited by their false gods; they sung a hymn, and, after spending several hours in the vicinity, pursued their journey. What effect the conduct of Kapiolani, on this occasion, will have on the natives in general, remains yet to be discovered.
The people of Kearakomo also told us, that, no longer than five moons ago, Pélé had issued from a subterranean cavern, and overflowed the low land of Kearaara, and the southern part of Kapapala. The inundation was sudden and violent, burnt one canoe, and carried four more into the sea. At Mahuka, the deep torrent of lava bore into the sea a large rock, according to their account, near a hundred feet high, which, a short period before, had been separated by an earthquake from the main pile in the neighbourhood. It now stands, they say, in the sea, nearly a mile page 278 from the shore, its bottom surrounded by lava, its summit rising considerably above the water. We exceedingly regretted our ignorance of this mundation at the time we passed through the inland parts of the above-mentioned districts, for, had we known of it then, we should certainly have descended to the shore, and examined its extent and appearance. We now felt convinced that the chasms we had visited at Ponahohoa, and the smoking fissures we afterwards saw nearer Kirauea, marked the course of a stream of lava, and thought it probable, that though the lava had burst out five months ago, it was still flowing in a smaller and less rapid stream. Perhaps the body of lava that had filled Kirauea up to the black ledge which we saw, between three and four hundred feet above the liquid lava, at the time we visited it, had been drawn off by this subterranean channel, though the distance between the great crater and the land overflowed by it, was not less than thirty or thirty-five miles.
When the day began to close, and we wished the natives to retire, we told them that to-morrow was the sacred day of Jehovah, the true God, and directed them to come together early in the morning, to hear his word, and unite with us in his worship. We then spread our mats upon some poles that lay at one end of the house, and, as we had no lamp, and could procure no candlenuts, we laid ourselves down as soon as it became dark, and, notwithstanding our uncomfortable lodging place, slept very soundly till daybreak.
On the morning of the 3d, between six and seven o'clock, about two hundred of the people collected in front of our house. We sung a hymn; one of our number preached to them a discourse page 279 which occupied rather more than half an hour; and another concluded the service with prayer. They were all sober, and appeared attentive. Several proposed questions to us; and when we had answered them, we directed them to return to their houses, to abstain from fishing and other ordinary employments, and, when the sun was over their heads, (the manner of expressing midday,) to come together again, and hear more about Jehovah and Jesus Christ. Many, however, continued talking with the natives belonging to our company, and gazing at us through most of the day.
At twelve o'clock, about three hundred of the people again assembled near our dwelling, and we held a religious exercise similar to that which they had attended in the morning. The head man of the village was present during the service. He came into our house after it was over, and told us all his provisions were at his farm, which was some distance inland, and that to-morrow he intended to bring us a pig, and some potatoes. We thanked him, but told him probably we should proceed on our way early in the morning. He went away, and in a short time returned with a raw salted albicore, and a basket of baked sweet potatoes, which he said was all he could furnish us with to-day. We spent the afternoon in conversation with those who crowded our hut, and wished to inquire more fully about the things of which they had heard. Between five and six in the evening, the people again collected for worship in front of our house, when they were addressed from Isaiah lx. l. “Arise, shine, for thy light is come.” They listened with attention to the advantages of Christian light and knowledge, page 280 contrasted with pagan ignorance and misery, and several exclaimed at the conclusion of the service, Oia no. Poereere makou. E ake makou i hoomaramarama ia. “So it is. We are dark. We desire to be enlightened.” In the evening, we were so favoured as to procure a calabash-full of fresh water from the caves in the mountains, where it had filtered through the strata of lava, and was received into vessels placed there for that purpose. It tasted bitter, from standing long in the calabashes; but yet it was a luxury, for our thirst was great, notwithstanding the quantities of water we had drank during the day. About sunset we ate some of our raw fish and half-baked potatoes. When it began to grow dark, we concluded the day with prayer, imploring the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit to follow our feeble attempts to declare his truth, and make it effectual to the spiritual welfare of the people. We afterwards lay down upon our mats, but passed an uncomfortable night, from the swarms of vermin which infested the house, and the indisposition induced by the nature of the food and water we had taken since leaving the volcano.
When, on the morning of the 4th, we had passed Punau, Leapuki, and Kamomoa, the country began to wear a more agreeable aspect. Groves of cocoa-nuts ornamented the projecting points of land, clumps of kou-trees appeared in various directions, and the habitations of the natives were also thickly scattered over the coast.
At noon we passed through Pulana, where we saw a large heiau called Wahaura, Red Mouth, or Red-feather Mouth, built by Tamehameha, and dedicated to Tairi, his war-god. Human sacrifices, we were informed, were occasionally offered page 281 here. Shortly after, we reached Kupahua, a pleasant village, situated on a rising ground, in the midst of groves of shady trees, and surrounded by a well-cultivated country. Here we stopped, and, having collected the people of the village, I preached to them. They afterwards proposed several interesting inquiries connected with what they had heard, and said it was a good thing for us to aroha, or have compassion on them. They also asked when we would come again.
Leaving this interesting place, we passed on to Kalapana, a small village on the sea-shore, distinguished as the residence of Kapihi, the priest, who, in the days of Tamehameha, told the king, that after death he and all his ancestors would live again on Hawaii. We saw a large heiau, of which he was priest, but did not see many people. Kapihi had many disciples, who believed, or pretended to believe, his predictions. Frequent offerings were made to Kuahairo, his god, at other parts of the island more frequently visited by the king, and this probably drew away many of the people from Kalapana. About three p. m. we approached Kaimu. This was the birth-place of Mauae, and the residence of most of his relations. He was a young man belonging to the governor, who had been sent with the canoe, and who, since leaving Honuapo, had acted as our guide. He walked before us as we entered the village. The old people from the houses welcomed him as he passed along, and numbers of the young men and women came out to meet him, saluted him by touching noses, and wept for joy at his arrival. Some took off his hat, and crowned him with a garland of flowers; others hung round his neck wreaths of a sweet-scented plant resembling ivy, page 282 or necklaces composed of the nut of the fragrant pandanus odoratissimus. When we reached the house where his sister lived, she ran to meet him, threw her arms around his neck, and, having affectionately embraced him, walked hand in hand with him through the village. Multitudes of young people and children followed, chanting his name, the names of his parents, the place and circumstances of his birth, and the most remarkable events in the history of his family, in a lively song, which, he afterwards informed us, was composed on the occasion of his birth. The following fragment of the commencement, which I afterwards wrote down from the mouth of one of his aged relatives who was with us, will suffice as a a specimen, the whole is too long for insertion:
|Inoa o Mauae a Para,||Name of Mauea,∗ (son) of Para,|
|He aha matou auanei?||How shall we declare?|
|O Mauae, te wahine horua nui,||O Mauea, woman famous at horua,†|
|Wahine maheai pono.||Woman tilling well the ground.|
|Tuu ra te Ravaia||Give the fisherman,|
|I ta wahine maheai,||To the woman (who) tilleth the ground;|
|I pono wale ai te aina o orua.||Happy will be the land of you two.|
|Owerawahie i uta i Tapapala.||Burnt were the woods inland of Tapapala.|
|Tupu man u ore te pari.||Long parched had been the precipice.|
|Oneanea te aina o Tuaehu.||Lonely was the land of Tuaehu.|
|Ua tu ra te manu i te pari Oharahara.||The bird perched on Oharahara rocks.|
|Ewaru te po, e waru te ao,||Eight the nights, eight the days,|
|Ua pau te aho o na hoa maheai,||Gone was the breath of those who help the tillage,|
|I te tanu wale i te rau, a maloa.||With planting herbs (they) were fatigued;|
|Ua mate i te la,||Fainting under the sun.|
|Ua tu nevaneva.||(They) looked anxiously around.|
|I ta matani, uä ino auaurere,||By the wind, the flying scudding tempest,page 283|
|Ua tu ta repo i Hiona:||Thrown up was the earth (or dust) at Hiona:|
|Pura ta onohi i ta u i ta repo.||Red were the eye-balls with the dust.|
|O Tauai, O Tauai, aroha wale||O Tauai,∗ O Tauai, loved be|
|Te aina i roto o te tai,||The land in the midst of the sea,|
|E noho marie oe I roto o te tai,||Thou dwellest quietly in the midst of the sea,|
|E hariu ai te aro i rehua.||And turnest thy face to the pleasant wind,|
|Pura ta onohi i ta matani,||Red were the eye-balls with the wind,|
|Ta tatau ta iri onionio,||(Of those) whose skin was spotted with tatau,|
|Ta repo a Taü i Pohaturoa,||The sand of Taü (lay) at Pohaturoa,†|
|Te a i Ohiaotalani,||The lava at Ohiaotalani.‡|
|Ma tai te aranui e hiti ai||By the sea was the road to arrive|
|I te one i Taimu,||At the sandy beach of Taimu,|
|Ma uta i ta tuahivi,||Inland by the mountain ridges,|
|Te aranui i hunaia.||The path that was concealed.|
|Narowale Tirauea i te ino.||Hid was Tirauea§ by the tempest,|
|Noho Pélé i Tirauea,||Pélé1 abode in Tirauea,|
|I tahu mau ana i te rua.||In the pit, ever feeding the fires.|
∗Mother of the young man.
†Horua, a native game.
‡North peak of the volcano.
§The great volcano.
1Goddess of volcanoes.
They continued chanting their song, and thus we passed through their plantations, and groves of cocoa-nut trees, till we reached his father's house, where a general effusion of affection and joy presented itself, which it was impossible to witness without delight. A number of children, who ran on before, had announced his approach; his father, followed by his brothers, and several other relations, came out to meet him, and, under the shade of a wide-spreading kou-tree, fell on his neck, and wept aloud for some minutes; after which, they took him by the hand, and led him through a neat little garden into the house. He seated himself on a mat on the floor, while his brothers and sisters gathered around him; some unloosed his sandals, and rubbed his limbs and feet; others clasped his hand, frequently saluting it by touching page 284 it with their nose; others brought him a calabash of water, or a lighted tobacco pipe. One of his sisters, in particular, seemed much affected: she clasped his hand, and sat for some time weeping by his side. At this we should have been surprised, had we not known it to be the usual manner, among the South Sea Islanders, of expressing unusual joy or grief. In the present instance, it was the unrestrained expression of joyful feelings. Indeed, every one seemed at a loss how to manifest the sincere pleasure which his unexpected arrival, after several years' absence, had produced. On first reaching the house, we had thrown ourselves down on a mat, and remained silent spectators; not, however, without being considerably affected by the interesting scene.
At six o'clock in the evening, we sent to collect the people of the village to hear preaching. Between three and four hundred assembled, under a clump of trees, in front of the house, and I preached to them from Psalm xxii. verses 27 and 28. Our singing appeared to interest them, as well as other parts of the service; and, at the conclusion, several exclaimed, “Jehovah is a good God; I desire him for my God.”
About this time Makoa arrived with our baggage. We were glad to see him, and inquired where he had been during the past week? He said he remained only one night at Honuapo, and followed on the next morning; observing, at the same time, we must have travelled fast, or he should have been here before us, as he had not gone round by the volcano, but had proceeded in a straight line from Kapapala to Kearakomo.
The evening we spent with the people of the place in conversation on various subjects, but page 285 principally respecting the volcano which we had recently visited.
The people recapitulated the contest between Pélé and Tamapuaa, and related the adventures of several warriors, who, with spear in hand, had opposed the volcanic demons when coming down on a torrent of lava. They could not believe that we had descended into the crater, or broken off pieces of Pélé's houses, as they called the small craters, until the specimens of lava, &c. were produced, when some of them looked very significantly, and none of them cared much to handle them.
We tried to convince them of their mistake in supposing Kirauea was inhabited, and unfolded to them, in as simple a manner as possible, the nature of volcanoes, and of their various phenomena, assuring them, at the same time, that they were under the sovereign control of Jehovah, the only true God. Some said, “Ae paha,” “Yes, perhaps;” others were silent.
Numbers of the people were present at our evening worship, which was in their language.
After a comfortable night's rest, we arose at daybreak on the 5th. At sun-rise the people assembled more numerously than they had done on the preceding evening, and I preached to them from these words,—“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” They appeared to listen with interest, and numbers sat down under the kou-trees, talking among themselves on the subject, for a long time after the services had closed.
After breakfast, we examined the effects of an earthquake experienced in this place about two page 286 months before. We were informed that it too place about ten o'clock in the evening. The ground, after being agitated some minutes with a violent tremulous motion, suddenly burst open, for several miles in extent, in a direction from north-by-east, to south-by-west, and emitted, in various places at the same instant, a considerable quantity of smoke and luminous vapour, but none of the people were injured by it. A stone wall, four feet thick and six feet high, enclosing a garden at the north end of the village, was thrown down. A chasm about a foot wide marked distinctly its course. At the south end of the village, it had passed through a small well, in which originally there was seldom more than eighteen inches' depth of water, though since that period there has been upwards of three feet. The crack was about ten inches wide, running from north to south across the bottom of the well. The water has not only increased in quantity, but suffered a great deterioration in quality, being now very salt; and its rising and falling with the ebbing and flowing of the tide, indicates its connexion with the waters of the ocean, from which it appeared distant about three hundred yards.
Convulsions of this kind are common over the whole island: “they are not, however, so frequent in this vicinity as in the northern and western parts, and are seldom violent, except when they immediately precede the eruption of a volcano. The superstitions of the natives lead them to believe they are produced by the power of Pélé, or some of the volcanic deities, and consider them as requisitions for offerings, or threatenings of still greater calamities.
Kaimu is pleasantly situated near the sea-shore, page 287 on the south-east side of the island, standing on a bed of lava considerably decomposed, and covered over with a light and fertile soil. It is adorned with plantations, groves of cocoa-nuts, and clumps of kou-trees. It has a fine sandy beach, where canoes may land with safety; and, according to the houses numbered to-day, contains about seven hundred and twenty-five inhabitants. Including the villages in its immediate vicinity, along the coast, the population would probably amount to two thousand; and, if water could be procured near at hand, it would form an eligible Missionary station. There are several wells in the village, containing brackish water, which has passed from the sea through the cells of the lava, undergoing a kind of filtration, and is collected in hollows scooped out to receive it. The natives told us, that, at the distance of about a mile, there was plenty of fresh water. The extent of cultivation in the neighbourhood, together with the decent and orderly appearance of the people, induced us to think they are more sober and industrious than those of many villages through which we have passed.
From the oppression of idolatry, the people feel themselves emancipated, and seem also to enjoy, in some degree, the domestic comfort resulting from their dwelling together in one house, sitting down to the same repast, and eating the same kind of food. But though they approved of the destruction of the national idols, many were far from having renounced idolatry, and were in general destitute of all knowledge of that dispensation of grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ. They seemed firm believers in the existence of deities in the volcanoes.page 288
We endeavoured in the evening to convince those who crowded our dwelling, of their mistake respecting the objects of their worship, spoke to them of Jehovah, the only being to whom religious homage should be rendered, and of that life and immortality revealed in the sacred scriptures.
Before we retired, we wrote a letter to the governor, informing him of our progress, the hospitality of the people in general, and the kind attention we had received from Mauae, who intended to return from this place to Kairua.
Early the next morning, after travelling nearly two hours, we arrived at Keouohana, where we sat down to rest beneath the shade of some cocoa-nut trees. Makoa, our guide, spoke to the head man, and he directed the people to assemble near his house. About one hundred soon came; and when we had explained to them, in few words, the object of our visit, we requested them to sit down, and listen to the tidings we had brought. They immediately obeyed. We sang a hymn in their language, after which an address was given, and the service concluded in the usual manner. As soon as it was finished, they began to talk about what we had told them. Some said it was very good: they had never heard before of a God who had sent his Son to save men. Others said, it was very well for the haore (foreigners) to believe it, but Tane, Rono, Tanaroa, and Tu were the gods of the Sandwich Islanders. Makoa, who was a chief speaker among them on such occasions, said they must all attend to the new word, must forsake thieving and drunkenness, infanticide and murder, and do no work on the la tabu (day sacred); adding, at the same time, that the king page 289 had received the palapala, books, &c. and went to church on the sacred day, as did also Kuakini, the governor. The head man brought us some ripe plantains, of which we ate a few, and then proceeded on our way, leaving them busy in conversation about the news they had heard; which, in all probability, were “strange things” to their ears.
After travelling a mile and a half along the shore, we came to Kehena, a populous village: the people seemed, from the number of their canoes, nets, &c. to be much engaged in fishing. Their contrivance for launching and landing their canoes was curious.
Leaving Kehena, we walked on to Kamaili, a pleasant village, standing in a gently sloping valley, cultivated and shaded by some large cocoa-nut trees. Here we stopped to take breakfast, having travelled about four hours and a half. The people who were not employed on their plantations, or in fishing, afterwards assembled, and were addressed from Psalm lxvii. 7. Conversation followed, and they detained us some time to answer their questions, or to explain more fully the things that had been spoken. It was truly gratifying to notice the eagerness with which they proposed their inquiries. After spending about half an hour in endeavouring to satisfy two or three hundred of them, we took leave, and pursued our journey. Our path from Kaimu had been smooth and pleasant, but shortly after leaving Kamaili, we passed a very rugged tract of lava nearly four miles across. The lava seemed as if broken to pieces as it cooled; it had continued to roll on like a stream of large scoria, or cinders. Our progress across it was slow and fatiguing. page 290 On our way, our guide pointed out Karepa, an ancient heiau, formerly dedicated to Tu and Rono, and built in the days of Teavemauhiri, or Tanakini, king of this part of the island. We could not learn whether this was the heiau of Rono, in which the bones of Captain Cook were deposited, and worshipped. About half-past one, we arrived at Opihikao, another populous village, situated within a short distance of the sea. The head man, Karaikoa, brought out a mat, spread it under the umbrageous shade of a kou-tree in front of his door, and invited us to sit down and rest, as the sun was vertical, and travelling laborious. We seated ourselves beside him, and, so soon as he learned from Makoa the nature of our errand, he sent of his own accord, and collected the people. When they had assembled, we stood up and sung a hymn, after which one of our number preached to them from Job xxi. 15. It was undoubtedly the first time most, if not all of them, had attended a meeting of the kind; and the preacher was frequently interrupted by several, who exclaimed, “Owau kahi e malama ia Jehova,—e ake au i ora ia Jesu Kraist;” I am one that will serve Jehovah:—I desire to be saved by Jesus Christ.
We invited them to ask us any question respecting what they had heard; and, in answering those they proposed, we spent some time after the service was concluded. We then proceeded about two miles, principally through cultivated grounds, to Kauaea. About three hundred people, excited by curiosity, soon collected around us, to whom Mr. Thurston preached. We afterwards sat down and talked with them, and then resumed our journey through the district of Malama, the inland part of which was inundated by a volcanic eruption page 291 about thirty years since. The part over which we passed, being nearer the sea than that which the lava had overflowed, was covered with soil, and smiling with verdure. Near five p. m. we reached Keahialaka, the residence of Kinao, chief or governor of Puna. We found him lying on a couch of sickness, and felt anxious to administer to his comfort, yet did not like at so early an hour to halt altogether for the night. I therefore remained with the sick chief, while Messrs. Thurston and Bishop went on to a village at the east point, about two miles distant. When they reached Pualaa, the above-mentioned village, they were kindly welcomed by the head man, who soon had the people of the place collected at their request, and to them Mr. Thurston proclaimed the news of salvation through Jesus Christ. The chief entertained the travellers with hospitality, and their lodgings were comfortable.
Just before the setting of the sun, I preached to the people at the village where I was staying, and spent the evening with the chief, who was afflicted with a pulmonary complaint, and almost reduced to a skeleton, earnestly recommending him to apply to Jesus, the great physician of souls. He seemed at first much attached to the superstitions of his ancestors, said he had performed every ceremony that he thought likely to be of any avail, and would do any thing to live; but added, E make paha auanei, Perhaps I must soon die. The love of the Saviour, and his suitableness to the situation of the poor chief, were pointed out, and he was requested rather to seek unto Him for the salvation of his soul, than to priests, and the incantations of sorcerers, for the prolongation of his mortal life, which, although of infinitely less page 292 moment than the well-being of his soul, was yet entirely beyond their power. He listened attentively, and at a late hour requested me to pray for him to Jesus Christ. The family collected during the time of prayer, at the close of which the chief reclined on his mat, but said he could not sleep.
We were fatigued with the labours of the day, though we had not travelled so far as usual. The country had been much more populous than any we had passed since leaving Kona, and we felt thankful for the opportunities that we had this day enjoyed of speaking to so many about those things which concern their everlasting peace. May the Holy Spirit water the seed this day sown!
Messrs. Thurston and Bishop conducted the usual worship with the people, who, at an early hour the next morning, crowded the house where they had lodged.—I spent some time in endeavouring to inform the dark mind of the dying chief, on points of the last importance; again directed him to that compassionate Saviour, who invites all to come unto him, receives even those who apply at the eleventh hour, and is able to save to the uttermost those who trust in his mercy. I afterwards prayed with him and his family, and then bade them farewell.
The situation of Kinao was affecting. He appeared in the midst of his days, probably not more than thirty or forty years of age; and though formerly robust and healthy, he was now pale, emaciated, and reduced almost to a skeleton. Enveloped in all the darkness of paganism, and perhaps agitated with fearful uncertainties respecting a future state, he clung eagerly to life, yet seemed to feel a conviction of his approaching end daily increasing. Like his countrymen in general, he page 293 supposed his disease inflicted in consequence of the prayers of some malicious enemy, or the vindictive displeasure of the gods of his country; hence he had consulted the sorcerers, expended on them his property, and attended to all their injunctions, if by any means his life might be spared.
The popular superstitions of the islanders lead them to imagine, that an individual, who possesses the means of employing a sorcerer, may afflict with painful disease, and even occasion the death of, any person against whom he may indulge feelings of hatred or revenge. They also believe that the sorcerers, by certain incantations, can discover the author or cause of the disease, and refer it back to the party with whom it originated. So prevalent are these notions, that the people generally believe every individual, who does not meet his death by some act of violence, is destroyed by the immediate power of an unpropitious deity, by poison, or the incantations of the sorcerers employed by some cruel enemy. This belief gives the sorcerers great influence among the middling and lower orders; and in times of protracted sickness, their aid is almost invariably sought by all who can procure a dog and a fowl for the sacrifice, and a piece or two of tapa as a fee for the priest. A dog and a fowl are all that are necessary for the ceremony; but the offerings to the god, and the fees to the priest, are regulated according to the wealth or rank of the individual on whose behalf the aid of sorcery is employed.
The ceremonies performed are various; but the most general is the kuni ahi, broiling fire, a kind of anaaná, or sorcery, used to discover the person whose incantation has induced the illness of the page 294 party for whom it is performed. When a chief wishes to resort to it, he sends for a priest, who, on his arrival, receives a number of hogs, dogs, and fowls, together with several bundles of tapa. Before he commences any of his operations, all persons, except the parties immediately concerned, retire from the house, which the priest tabu's, and prohibits strangers from entering. He then kindles a small fire somewhere near the couch of the invalid, and covers it with stones. This being done, he kills one of the dogs by strangling it, and cuts off the head of one of the fowls, muttering all the while his prayers to the god he invokes. The dog, fowl, and pig, if there be one, are then cut open, embowelled, and laid on the heated stones, the priest continuing his incantations, and watching, at the same time, the offerings broiling on the fire. A small part only of these offerings are eaten by the priest, the rest remain on the fire until consumed, when the priest lies down to sleep; and if his prayers are answered, he informs the poor sufferer, on awaking, who or what is the cause of his sickness. Additional presents are then made to the god, and other prayers offered, that the sickness may seize the person whose incantations, in the first instance, caused it; or, if in consequence of any delinquency towards the god on the part of the sufferer, that he would abate his anger, and remove the disease. But if, during his sleep, the priest has no revelation or dream, he informs his employers, on awaking, that he has not succeeded, and that another kuni ahi must be prepared, before he can satisfy them respecting the cause of the sickness. On such occasions the unsuccessful priest is often dismissed, and another sent for, to try his influence with the god.page 295
Different priests employ different prayers or incantations, and are careful to keep the knowledge of them confined to their families, as each one supposes, or wishes the people to think, his own form the best; hence we have often heard the natives, when talking on the subject, say, “He pule mana ko me,” A powerful prayer has such a one:—and the priest or sorcerer who is supposed to have most influence with the god, is most frequently employed by the people, and hence derives the greatest emoluments from his profession. Though Uri is the principal god of the sorcerers, each tribe has its respective deities for these occasions. Thus the poor deluded people are led to imagine that the beings they worship are continually exerting their power against each other; or that the same god who, when a small offering only was presented, would allow sickness to continue till death should destroy the victim of his displeasure, would, for a larger offering, restrain his anger, and withdraw the disease. The sorcerers were a distinct class among the priests of the island, and their art appears to claim equal antiquity with the other parts of that cruel system of idolatry by which the people have been so long oppressed; and though it has survived the destruction of the national idolatry, and is still practised by many, it is entirely discontinued by the principal chiefs in every island, and by all who attend to Christian instruction.