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Life in Feejee, or, Five Years among the Cannibals

Chapter XV

Chapter XV.

Departure for Ba—The Soul Destroyer—The Attack—Account of One Buried Alive.

March 27.

All necessary arrangements being completed for our voyage to Ba, we once more took leave of our kind friends at Vewa, and set sail for Motureke. Elijah accompanies us, with several of his people, who are to serve as trading men on shore, that the lives of our people may not be endangered on the barbarous coast to which we are bound. A young chief of Ba, who has been visiting at Vewa of late, also accompanies us with several attendants.

Namosimalua has "tambued" the coast for the bark C. to fish at; but Thakombau has sent a large quantity of yanggona by Elijah, and orders for the "tambu" to be removed, and for the natives to fish for the Zotoff. Mr. W. has been told that Bau has no influence on the lands to which we go,—that Namosi is acknowledged as page 257their head chief as far as Raverave, and beyond that the chiefs are all independent.

29.We arrived at Naikarotumba. This town is under the dominion of Namosimalua. They have chiefs of their own, but he is their king. Several of this tribe have renounced heathenism, and are supplied with Tonga teachers.

We anchored at Raverave. This place is famous as being the residence of the great god, Dengai. The mountains a little back from the shore are called the Kauvandra. It is said that the god inhabits a cave in the side of the mountain.

The following legend of this place has been kindly furnished me by Rev. Mr. Hunt, as it was told him by a native.

An Account of Ravugalo, or the "Soul-Destroyer"

"We do not know the origin of this god, whether he is the son of Dengai or not; we know, however, that the god of the Kauvandra appointed him to kill souls. He resides at a place called Nembanggatai, where the spirits of men go when they enter the separate state at Kauvandra. The town is inhabited, and a parrot is stationed there, who calls out when a spirit enters it. If one soul comes, it calls once; if two, twice, and so on. The god and his children hear the calls of the parrot, and hasten to prepare their clubs to kill the spirits as they pass their dwelling. They do not succeed, however, in killing all who are passing this dangerous spot; many are strong, and pass safely on to the Kauvandra, while others are killed and eaten by the god and his sons, and are never seen again in this world or any other. Some of my people have heard the noise of the page 258god, as be knocks out the brains of his ghostly victims.

Ravagalo is now dead, and the business is carried on by his sons. A short time since, as he was holding his club, ready to attack a poor soul that was passing, and carelessly sitting on a stump of brushwood, which had been left with a sharp point out of the ground, it penetrated his body and caused his death.

He said to his children, 'I am dead. Take me to the 'buri.' My sons, look well to the souls to be eaten.' A man who is employed as a messenger between the Kauvandra and this world, brought the news of his-death here.

The spirits who are so fortunate as to pass safely through the town of the 'Soul-Destroyer,' go to the Kauvandra on the top of the mountain. Many ladies reside there, who often ascend to the highest points of the land to witness the wars of Feejee. On the arrival of the spirits at the Kauvandra, they proceed to a steep precipice, called Naindelinde. On the margin of this precipice two persons sit, father and son, who have been appointed to interrogate the new comers. 'From whence have you come?' they ask. 'From the earth,' ia the reply. 'What have you been doing there?' The spirit then recounts his deeds which he performed while in the body on the earth. After he concludes his history, he is invited to take a seat on the broad end of a large steer oar, (which is placed directly over the precipice,) to take the air. From this the soul is suddenly plunged into 'bulu.' Some say that only the bad spirits are sent to 'bulu,' and that the good ones remain at the Kauvandra with Dengai. Others assert that the spirits who have visited 'bulu,' visit this world and the Kauvandra at their pleasure."

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I have heard some accounts of punishments that are awarded to the souls of the wicked, but they are scarcely fit to record. One can never get a true idea of heathenism from books, as many of its most revolting characteristics cannot be penned.

April 1.

Anchored at Ba and were visited by Touaga, the brother of the murdered chief. He appears friendly, and has promised to employ his people to collect "beech de mer" for the vessel. Some red paint was presented to him with a black silk head dress, and a native comb ornamented with beads. He painted his face red, fixed his head dress on his head, placed his comb in his hair, then seated himself upon the table opposite the looking-glass, and seemed to think that he looked "plenty well enough."

He had never seen a white woman before, and I obtained a share of his attention. After gazing at me intently for some time, he exclaimed, "Sa tha ni lewa ni vete, Venaka ni lewa ni papalagi" "The Feejeean women are bad; white women are good"

There are two chiefs of equal rank at Ba. Vakambua is the name of the other. He seldom visits any vessels that come here. I believe they are not related, and are often at enmity with each other. It is said that when Touaga's brother was killed, he was laying a plan for the murder of Vakambua.


We are still at Ba, and have several houses under way for "beech de mer" Touaga often visits us, and, as yet, says nothing about eating us. We think the "buri" must be at the Kauvandra, as we hear nothing about it at this place.

As I have presented Touaga with several articles which he appeared to value highly, he seemed to wish to make me some return, and one day inquired if there page 260was any thing on shore that he should bring me. I told him if he had any "karwais," I should like some. He said there was an abundance on the land, and some should be brought. A small quantity was brought the next day. He made a great parade in presenting them. I pronounced them very good, and supposed the affair settled; when, to our surprise, before he left the vessel he asked Mr. W. what he would give him for the vegetables that he had brought for me. He was asked what he wanted. "Beads," he replied; which were given him. This, however, is the only case of the kind I have witnessed no such meanness from any other chief of Feejee.

The females of this coast are not employed in collecting the "beech de mer," consequently, they do not visit the vessels. I have seen but few.

Elijah preaches the gospel wherever he goes, and does not suffer any opportunity to escape without recommending it to his countrymen.

We find that the name of Bau carries an influence with it wherever we go. The manners of the chiefs and people on this coast compare with those of Bau and vicinity, as the manners of our most remote little country villages would with those of the most fashionable cities. The chiefs appear to be treated with but little ceremony, and have but little authority.

29.A boat belonging to some of the white residents of Feejee came alongside of our vessel. From its master we learn the following item of news:—A cutter belonging to the Consul had been sent to a place called Mbaga, for the purpose of obtaining provisions. Three men were on board, and the cutter was anchored near the shore, that is, so near that the natives could swim to it with ease. Six natives went on board, and the men, page 261feeling no suspicion of evil, were completely off their guard. One was carelessly seated on the deck, another was leaning on the main boom, while the third was stooping to arrange some matters in the cuddy. One native threw the man that was seated on the deck overboard, another sprung to clasp the man at the boom, but clasped the boom, which gave the man a chance to escape; a third native attacked the other man, but he, having the advantage of his situation, being partly in the cuddy, slipped from him, and snatching a loaded pistol, discharged its contents into the arm of one of the assailants, when they all jumped into the water, and swam to the shore.
May 1.

Our steward and one of the sailors have been sick for several days; the steward with the dysentery, and the sailor with inflammation of the lungs.

Last evening Touaga came alongside in a canoe well filled with natives. They wished to come on board and sleep, but were refused. Perhaps it might have been safe for them to have come on board; but Mr. W. knew that our safety was more certain for them to be ashore.

Elijah has gone to Raverave.


The steward complained to-day of being in great pain. I inquired if he had eaten any thing except what I had sent to him from the cabin. He replied that he had not; but I learned afterwards that he had eaten two small fish, remarking, as he did so, that he could not live on rice, bread and gruel.

George, the sailor, appears to be worse. A blister was applied to the chest, as he complained of difficulty in breathing. He wore it an hour, and then threw it overboard, saying that it did him no good.


We are now sailing towards Natnula. It is nearly calm, and our progress is very slow. As we pass page 262along the coast of this part of Vetelavu, the broken hills gradually slope to the water's edge, where the mangroves seem to form a barrier. Their defiles are filled with trees and shrubs of dark foliage, which, contrasting with the lighter verdure of the hills, make the whole appear increasingly beautiful. In the back ground are seen the lofty mountains of the interior, with their rugged and irregular peaks towering above the whole, and imparting a majestic as well as beautiful appearance to the scenery.

Mr. W. was called at four o'clock this morning to George, whom they thought to be dying. He was placed in a warm bath, and other remedies being applied, he was relieved. He suffers much; not being able to lie down at all. His sickness has been occasioned by sleeping on deck. Mr. W. had often spoken to him and the steward about it, but they chose to have their own way, and are now suffering the consequences of rejecting good advice.

6.Namula. Mr. W. is busy, having a number of "beech de mer" houses in this vicinity. There are several towns about here, but none of them are visible. There are some half dozen petty chiefs, but none of much rank. They go out themselves to collect "beech de mer" the same as the "kaises"

The Perseverance arrived from Vatea with fish, discharged, and sailed again the same day. The captain brought no news.

The steward and George are no better. Having tried many remedies for the cure of the steward, and all seeming to fail, salt and vinegar were recommended, but not liking the taste of it, he threw it away, and expressed a desire to drink lime water, which one of the crew had recommended; he said this was too strong, and after page 263drinking it once, gave it up. Mr. W. or myself now give him his medicines instead of sending them to him.

9.As the crew were raising the anchor, preparatory to our return to Ba, George came upon deck. His face was purple, and he was speechless. Mr. W. ordered them to let go the anchor, and many remedies were tried for the relief of the sufferer; at length he was relieved by bleeding. He was in a fit for the space of two hours. In the evening he desired Mr. W. to write his will for him, which was done. He is very irritable and impatient, cursing and swearing because the Almighty does not cure him, or take his life. His real name is Bernardo H. Bloom. He is a German by birth.

We returned to Ba. An awning has been spread on the deck, and the sick sailor remained there during the day. I asked him to-day if he felt prepared to die, knowing that he had given up all hope of life. He said he supposed he was. I asked him if he read his Bible. He replied that he did. I told him if he did, he knew what constituted a Christian character, and asked him if he believed that he was a Bible Christian, and if he was conscious of loving and serving God. His reply was in the affirmative, and he added, "I never sinned much. God is merciful. He will not send me to hell for the few sins that I have committed" "I know nothing of your life," I replied, "except that since you have been on board this vessel you have been exceedingly profane; and even since your sickness, you have uttered oaths enough to sink your soul in everlasting misery" "Oh, I can repent of that easy enough," was his reply. I conversed with him some time longer, but his mind appeared so completely blinded, that he could not be convinced he was a sinner, or needed the pardoning grace of God. Some of the sailors were present, and he page 264would look at them with a scornful smile, seeming to say, "You will not frighten this fellow"

One of the boys on board, named George, is sick with the dysentery. He has been subject to slight attacks of this prevalent disease, but they have generally yielded to medical treatment and careful nursing. Being somewhat frightened when he is unwell, he is unlike the old sailors, and is willing to take proper medicines and food, and thus subdue the disease before it becomes dangerous.

11.Elijah has returned from Raverave, and we are disappointed to learn that Rev. Mr. Hunt, whom we have been expecting would visit this part of the coast, has returned to Vewa. We hoped to receive his advice for our sick ones, as we have studied our medical books through, and exhausted all our knowledge to no purpose. The steward has been taken into the house on deck, where he can be attended by Mr. W. and myself. He is a most valuable man as a steward, and hie services have added very much to the comforts of our voyage. We received letters by Elijah from our friends,—the missionaries at Vewa.
14.We anchored off the dominions of Vakambua, Mr. W. having a house at this place for fishing. There is a little schooner anchored here called the Venus, employed by Capt. Osborne, who arrived at the islands a short time since in the brig Tim Pickering, of Saiem, Mass.; but the vessel, striking on a reef soon after its arrival, has gone to Sydney for repairs.
15.We received a visit last evening from the supercargo of the Venus, who stated that he had come to get houses built on this coast for "beech de mer," and that he was surprised to find that Capt. W. had taken possession of the whole coast. He proposed that this house page 265should be given up to him, as he must get a hold somewhere, and if this one was not left to him, he should go down the coast and see what he could do. He wished to get along peacefully, if possible, but he must have houses here on some terms. Mr. W. replied that the opposite coasts were far more extensive, and he thought he might find room there; however, he had no objection to giving up the house to him.
16.Elijah and the supercargo visited Vakambua, to arrange matters relative to giving the house into other hands. Vakambua said that he would not do it,—that he was the friend of Elijah, who had given him yanggona to fish for the bark; moreover, the supercargo had sent to try to buy the house,—that he was a bad man, and might go away from his lands. The supercargo hearing this became angry and insulting to Elijah, when Vakambua gave orders that said supercargo should be clubbed. Elijah said, "No; let no harm come to him" After a long conversation, an agreement was made that another house should be built for the supercargo. Vakambua said aside to Elijah, "Red fish shall go to his house, and black to the bark's."

Our sick sailor had another distressing fit last night, Touaga, the chief, inquired if he might not take him on shore and bury him. Mr. W. told him that he was still alive, and "papalagis" did not bury their people alive. "Oh, but he is dead," he replied; "he has no spirit in him, and why should you keep him here? he is a great deal of trouble, and Marama is all the time preparing food and medicines for the sick that are on board; she wilt not have so much to do if this man is laid in the ground." Mr. W. told the humane chief that the man could not be buried till life had departed, and that a man lived as long as he breathed.

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Elijah said that when be was a heathen, be had many people buried alive. At one time a young woman belonging to his establishment was sick, or rather weak for a long time. He thought she would never recover, and had a grave dug. She was then called out of the house to see some strange monster that had appeared on the waters. When she came out of the house, she was seized and thrown into the grave. She shrieked and cried out, "Do not bury me,—I am well now" Her cries were of no avail. Two men stood upon her body and held her down, while others threw on the earth, and thus she was buried.


The boy George has recovered, and the steward is better. Bernardo is very low. I have conversed with him several times upon the importance of repentance, but he still continues to curse God for his afflictions.

We have removed from the dominions of Vakambua to those of Touaga.

A small boat belonging to Solavu has been here, and we learn that Rewa appears to be gaining strength, and Garenggeo exhibits a good deal of warlike ability and courage, while Phillips, being almost constantly supplied with rum, is growing daily more imbecile.

There appears to be some misunderstanding between Touaga and Vakambua. The latter sent to a town belonging to the former for some pigs, which were refused. Vakambua then sent a whale's tooth to a mountain tribe for them to burn the town of the offenders, and kill as many of its inhabitants as possible. Touaga, being made acquainted with the affair, hastened to the aid of his people. A battle was fought, and Touaga lost nine of his warriors, that were taken to Vakambua, who kept as many as he wished for his own use, and sent the rest as presents to his allies.

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Touaga and the mountaineers are still fighting. We have seen the smoke and flames arise from four different places, and we suppose that towns are burned there.

Our steward is much worse again.

26.Natives have been to the vessel to-day, but different stories are told by them about the difficulties on shore, therefore I do not think it best to record them, except to say that four empty towns were destroyed by the enemy.

Touaga has been off, and says that the war is ended; that he has "soroed" to Vakambua because he did not wish the fishing to be interrupted; but by and by Vakambua should "soro" to him.

When we left Natemba, Mr. W. took away the "beech de mer" pot, as Vakambua's people did not get fish enough to pay the way. They sent word to the chief that the pot was wanted at another place, but sometime hence the schooner should be sent there, when they could re-commence fishing. To-day a Vewa man has arrived from Vendoga, where the pot was sent, and says that Vakambua has sent word that all the Vewa men must go on board the bark, as he shall send an armed force to take the "beech de mer" pot, and carry it back to Natemba. Elijah has returned to Vewa, but his brother, Korondvarasa is here, and says that he will go and make all straight with Vakambua, who, in reality, does not care to fish for any one, although he likes to have a trade house in his vicinity, so that if he or his people should be in want of any article, they can fish enough to get it; having received large presents, too, from Elijah, he is ashamed not to appear to do something.

29.Ezekiel, a son of Namosimalua, who is at one of our trade houses, has been wounded by the bursting of a page 268musket. Mr. W. has sent for him to be brought to the vessel.
June 4.

Korondvarasa has returned from Natemba, having made arrangements for the schooner to go there, as the people are done fishing where the schooner has been laying the last few weeks.

Ezekiel has arrived, being much burned and badly wounded. His father also arrived in the morning, bringing us letters from Vewa.

The steward complained in the morning of the heat, and wished to have an awning spread on the quarterdeck, which being done, be was removed, and said he felt much cooler. He disposed of his effects, said he had but a few hours to live, thanked us many times for our care of him during his sickness, and expressed a hope that his sins were pardoned. About seven o'clock, as Mr. W. and myself were standing by him, he died.

5.This morning a coffin was prepared for all that remained of our faithful steward. The body was put into it, and it was placed near the gangway, the national flag was raised half mast, and alt stood with heads uncovered while prayers and the burial service were read from the English prayer book. The coffin was then lowered into a canoe and taken to the shore, where it was buried near the trade house. Namosimalua went in the canoe, and prayed at the grave. The name of the steward was Thomas Williams, of Baltimore. During his sickness he was always patient and grateful. He prayed a great deal, and appeared to have a good hope in Christ.

Bernardo died about eleven o'clock, P. M. He continued irritable and impatient till the last. A few hours before his death some warm tea was offered him, and, finding that he could not swallow it, he spit it from his mouth, and threw the cup from him in the most spite-page 269ful manner. He was continually angry with God that he did not end his sufferings, and take him to heaven. What an awful state in which to leave the world! as though a man might curse and swear, practise every impurity, and then go to heaven at death. What would heaven be with such spirits, who die blaspheming their Maker!

After his body was placed in the coffin, the fiftieth Psalm was read, and the burial service as before, and the body was taken ashore and buried by the side of the steward.

Ezekiel's wounds are doing well, but he is not able to sit up yet.

19.Capt. Waldon has arrived on this coast in the Charles Wirgman, for the purpose of collecting "beech de mer." Capt. Hartwell's boat is at Undu, where they have commenced fishing.
24.Mr. W. left the vessel after tea, to look at a fishing net which he had set at some distance off. He had scarcely gone, when I heard sounds of quarrelling on deck. I repaired immediately to the deck, where I saw our steward, who was an Italian, and one of the sailors embracing each other with more vigor than love. The blood was streaming from the face of the sailor, and their glaring eyes and angry countenances looked any thing but becoming. William, the pilot, was quietly seated on the harness-cask, and the second mate had removed to a situation where he could have a better view of the fight. Two sailors were seated on the rail, and the cook was sitting at the door of the caboose smoking his pipe. I asked if there was no one to part these men. "Mr. S.," said the pilot, "why don't you part them?" No answer being made, I said, "Mr. Smith, why do you not stop that business?" "Me no stop dem if dey fight till dey page 270die," was the reply. I stepped up to the combatants and commanded them to stop at once. I then told the steward to collect his dishes, which had been scattered in the affray, and go aft, and not go forward again till the arrival of his captain. The sailor takes every opportunity to insult and provoke the steward. When the captain returned, he demanded an account of the affair from the one that stands in the place of a second mate. He said dat if he did interfere, dey would have pitched right into him. "And so you left your duty to be performed by Mrs. W. What a courageous man you are!" said the captain.

Vendogo. The Charles Wirgman has passed us on its way to Undu. The anchor of the Zotoff was soon tripped, and we followed and anchored near. Capt. Waldon passed the afternoon and evening with us.

July 4.We had roast pork, plum puddings and apple pies for dinner fore and aft. The national flag was raised, and big guns were fired at sunrise, noon and sunset.

The Bark Pilot arrived to fish on this coast.

Elijah has arrived, bringing us letters from Vewa, from which we learn of the death of J. H. Chamberlain.


Elijah held a prayer meeting on shore, and Korondvarasa sent a request that the Christians would pray to God that the people would leave fishing for "beech de mer," as the Vewa people were tired and wished to go home.

Ezekiel has recovered from his wounds.

One of the crew belonging to the bark has gone to Vewa for medical aid, being attacked with dysentery.

Aug. 1.

Divine service was performed on board in the native language, by a local preacher from Vewa. Ten of the Vewa Christians were present, and the man-page 271ner in which they passed the Sabbath should serve as an example to the white men on board this vessel.

2.Since we have been on this coast, I have had no opportunity of learning the customs of the people, but I presume they do not differ much from other portions of these lands. Cannibalism is as prevalent here as at other places. Our time has been spent in visiting from one trade house to another along the coast from Undu to Natimba. The dialect being somewhat different here from that of the other places that I have visited, I cannot understand it as well.
3.Elijah has again left us for Vewa. When Mr. W. commenced fishing on this const, he promised to each chief who would collect fifty bags of fish, a present of one musket, one keg of powder and one pig of lead, but told them if they did not get that quantity they should have no present. One chief procured twenty, and demanded his present. Mr. W. told him that he promised nothing unless they procured fifty bags, yet he was willing to present him with one musket, considering that a fair proportion. The chief said that if he could not have the whole, he would not have any thing. Mr. W. told him it was very good for him not to take any thing, as he promised him nothing unless he brought him fifty bags. The chief then told the sailors that he should burn the "beech de mer" house as soon as he reached the shore, but they must not inform the captain till he left the bark. As soon as he had left, Mr. W. was informed of his threat. "A Feejeean never informs when he intends mischief. He has said that, in order that I may recall him and give him what he wants," said Mr. W. The chief, on his arrival ashore, took the trade chest from the house and carried it off. There was nothing valuable in it, however, and when Olamba, another chief, came in page 272from the reefs, he sent for the chest, which was returned, with a request that the musket he had refused should be sent to him. The request was not obeyed.
6.The schooner Perseverance has left fishing at Natimba, and the Charles Wirgman also, as the quantity of fish they obtained was too small to pay their way.