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Life in Feejee, or, Five Years among the Cannibals

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVI.

Departure from Ba—Arrival at Bau—Second Destruction of Rewa—Arrival of the Missionaries—Abandonment of the Mission at Somosomo— The Dinner—The Coronation.

Aug. 15.

Having settled the fishing business on this coast, we are now on our way to Vewa. The bark Catherine and the Charles Wirgman are near. Mr. W. and myself took tea on board the C., and passed the evening. Our schooner has sailed for Vewa. We learn that our cutter, the Star, in which Elijah and some of his people sailed, has been wrecked on one of the reefs.

We observe some few towns as we pass along the coast, which look romantic and pretty in the distance. Should we visit them, however, we should at once be reminded that we are in Feejee. It is said that the nearer we approach the sun, the plainer we see its spots. This is true of Feejee.


We have at length arrived off Bau and Vewa, after a passage of three weeks. The distance is one hundred miles.

On our arrival at the anchorage, we found there was but just water enough to admit of my being landed on that part of the island opposite to the mission. As I had not stepped on land for four months, I was anxious to go page 273on shore, and unless I went immediately I should be obliged to wait till the next morning; so before the anchor was down, a boat was lowered, and, in company with four Feejeeans, beside the boat's crew, we started, and soon arrived at Vewa. The Feejeeans conducted me across the little isle to the new house occupied by Rev. Mr. Hunt and family, who had previously informed me that my bed had been removed from my little straw house to a room in the new one, which was reserved for my use. I entered the open door very softly, and approached the study. Mrs. Hunt stood with her back to the door, and was saying to Mr. H., "The vessel has anchored. Capt. and Mrs. Wallis will soon be here. Let us go down to the shore and meet them." "No," said I, "you need not go. Mr. W. cannot leave so soon." I need not add that my reception by this affectionate and estimable couple was the same as ever. I soon received a kind greeting from Dr. and Mrs. Lyth, and Mr. and Mrs. Jaggar. I was almost wild with joy at being where I could move about without danger of stepping into the sea, and where I could enjoy good society again.


Rev. Mr. Hunt preached on board the bark.. None attended the services except the officers and steward.

The sick sailor at Vewa is no better. Mr. W. fears that his disorder is incurable.

Sept. 1.A dense column of smoke has been seen to arise this morning in the direction of Rewa. As Bauand the Lasakaus have gone there for a battle, Rewa. may have been burned.
2.Rewa has been destroyed, and several hundred massacred. The place was betrayed, as before, by some enemy within the camp. We do not understand that the page 274cowardly Phillips does much in the fighting way, Bau fights his battles, and butchers his kindred, and he boasts of his victories. Garenggeo has again retired to the mountains. Word was sent to him the night before the massacre to escape, as they had no wish to kill him. Phillips would prefer that he should be killed, as he would then reign king without fear; but Tanoa, the King of Ban, rather favors him. It is said that when the warriors were at Natawa, several messages of a pacific character passed between the King of Bau and Garenggeo. Thakombau calls this last war the Nakelo war, and says it wilt not end till that chief is killed.

Dr. Lyth preached on board the bark. On Saturday I visited the vessel, and the steward inquired if there was to be preaching on board on the Sabbath. I told him there would be. "Well, ma'am," he said, "I should think that the captain and yourself had better go on shore to meeting, as the crew will not attend the preaching on board." "Very well," I replied, "they will not be compelled to attend. Preaching will be held on board while we remain here, whether they attend or not. The crew are invited, but if they choose to appear so much like heathen as to stay away, they are at liberty to do so." Dr. L. informed me on his return, that all the crew attended the services.

They supposed, probably, that if they did not hear the preaching, it would be given up, the captain would pass the Sabbaths on shore, and they would have the liberty of spending the day as they pleased.

The sailor that was discharged at Manilla, leavened nearly the whole lump. The sick man at Vewa and one of the boys are the only exceptions. The name of the man is Thomas Lloyd, and that of the lad, John Derby.

A few days since, the bark Auckland arrived at Vewa page 275from Rewa, and the white residents here had a shameful frolic in consequence of it. It is said that some of them were so furious that murder would, undoubtedly have been committed had not the natives interfered, and secured them by tying them fast.

An old native belonging to this place came in this morning looking exceedingly troubled, and said, "It is very bad for rum to be brought here, for it endangers our lives, and our towns are likely to be burned during the drunkenness of the 'papalagis.' We have had a sad time since this vessel lay here. Would it not be good to make a law, banishing from this isle any person who brings rum on shore?" "Yes," said Mr. Hunt, "it is good for the chiefs to make such a law at once."

15.The missionary brig John Wesley arrived. This vessel was lately built in England, at an expense of thirty thousand dollars, for the service of the Wesleyan Mission in the South Pacific. An example worthy of imitation! Rev. Walter Lawry, the general superintendent of the South Sea Missions of the Wesieyans, has arrived, being on a tour to visit the mission stations. Rev. Messrs. Malvern and Ford, with their families, have been sent to reinforce the Mission at Feejee. Rev. Mr. Watsford and-his wife have arrived from Ono, and Rev. Mr. Calvert from Lakemba. The district meeting is to be held at Vewa.
19.We learn that six Feejeeans have been murdered on Vetelavu, not far from Vewa, under the following circumstances: A cask of oil had floated to their shores, and a Manilla man living at Vewa, tried to purchase it. The natives refused to sell it, and he threatened that he would complain of their refusal to Navinde at Bau. Accordingly, on his return, he presented a musket to the chief, and desired him to send for the oil, which he did, page 276with orders for his people to kill as many as possible, if the owners of the oil still refused to sell it. They did refuse, and the consequence was the murder of six of their tribe.

Sabbath. Rev. Mr. Ford preached on board the Zotoff, and Rev. Mr. Jaggar preached at Bau. The crew of the John Wesley attended the English services on shore, and, unlike the crew of some vessels, ihey were well dressed, and appeared like civilized beings. Their captain (Buck), is an efficient and pious man.

In the afternoon Rev. Mr. Calvert preached on board the John Wesley. Mr. W. and several of his people attended the services.


It was decided at the meeting which was held last week, that the mission station at Somosomo should be given up, for the present, as the chiefs of that people, with"'their tribes, continue to reject the gospel, while there are many other places in Feejee where they are crying "Come over and help us." The John Wesley has sailed for Somosomo, to bring Rev. Messrs. Williams and Hazlewood with their families, and the property belonging to the mission.

23.Rokotuimbau, one of the princes of Bau, favored the missionaries with a visit. He is considered to be a very bad chief, is much opposed to Christianity, and seldom visits the Christians. A few Sabbaths since, he encouraged the rabble at the city to throw stones at the missionary who was preaching there. He did not succeed, however, as none were willing to throw the first stone. The dinner being served, the chief seated himself next to Mr. Hunt, and called for a plate. He then desired to be helped to a part of every thing on the table. When he began to make his demands upon the castor, I regretted page 277that its contents were so mild. A little cayenne pepper might have done him good.
25.A visit from Thakombau. He manifested the greatest friendliness towards the "lotu," and desired Rev. Messrs Lawry and Hunt to visit Bau, and try to persuade his father to build a house, and have a missionary go to Bau and live. This is certainly very desirable. Bau is the seat of cannibalism, and if a missionary family lived there, it might prevent many of their horrible feasts, as the chiefs are now becoming ashamed of them, and try to conceal them as much as possible.
26.Messrs. Lawry and Hunt visited Bau, and talked with Tanoa about establishing a mission station there. The king said, "Ah, yes, the 'lotu' is very good, but I am not ready yet. Wait a little, till I have killed off three towns, and then I will build you a house, you may come and live here, and if my people wish to 'lotu,' they can."
30.The John Wesley arrived from Somosomo, bringing the missionary families. The following is the list of appointments by the district meeting:—Rev. Messrs. Hunt, Lyth and Jaggar, Vewa; Rev. Mr. Williams, Bua; Rev. Mr. Hazlewood, Ono; Rev. Messrs. Watsford and Ford, Nandy; Rev. Messrs. Calvert and Malvern, Lakemba. Rev. Mr. Hunt was re-appointed chairman.
Oct. 4.

The mission families, with Mr. W. and myself, were invited to dine on board the John Wesley. We left Vewa in a large double canoe, and our whale boat. On arriving at the vessel after a pleasant sail, Capt. Buck welcomed us on board his very nice brig. Our dinner was excellent—thanks to the art of preserving meats, vegetables and fruits. The green peas and beans, the currant, gooseberry and damson tarts, did not page 278come amiss to those who had been in Feejee some two or three years.

After we had dined, Dr. Lyth politely showed the ladies over the vessel, which seems to be well fitted for its business. Its finish is plain, but good. We returned to Vewa about five, P. M., well pleased with our visit.


Mrs. Williams informs me that they have had much to endure at Somosomo. The natives are impudent and intrusive. They could seldom enjoy their food in peace till their doors were guarded by a faithful dog. One day a messenger from the king came to the house. The dog would not let him enter, and he took their little boy, who was playing outside, and threw him at the animal as if he had been a stone.

At one time, while Dr. Lyth and family were stationed there, the king being ill, sent for him to visit him professionally. The doctor, after prescribing the medicines which his case required, began to converse with him upon the all important subject of religion. The king at once became furious, and seizing the doctor by the skirt of his coat, held him fast while he called for some one to bring him a club. The queen rushed between them, telling the doctor to run. He made his escape, leaving the skirt of his coat in the king's hand, fully expecting to be followed and murdered. Fearing to alarm Mrs. Lyth if he appeared before her till he became somewhat composed, he repaired to the house of Mr. Williams. In a short time an old woman appeared. She entered the house on her knees, trembling, and holding the doctor's hat, and the torn skirt on a stick. She said that the anger of the king had passed away, and there was nothing more to fear. The old woman was followed by the Marama, who begged that they would forget what had passed. A chief officer from the king followed the Ma-page 279rama, who begged pardon of the doctor in the Feejeean manner. The king would undoubtedly have murdered the doctor in his passion, if a weapon had been near, but when his anger was over, he was quite alarmed for the consequences. He had never before shown any direct hostility to the missionaries. He died while Mr. and Mrs. W. resided there.

Tuilili, his son, reigns in his stead. He is one of the greatest cannibals of Feejee. His licentiousness is of the very lowest order. He has a brother whose right to the name of king is equal to his own. They are not on good terms, however, and an old man, a brother of the late king, has been sent for and made king. He exerts no authority. Tuilili reigns, but had his uncle crowned, that his brother might not interfere. The following is an account of the manner in which kings are made in Feejee, as furnished me by the kindness of Rev. Mr. Williams.

"On the 19th of May, it was publicly announced that in ten days Tuithekau would be publicly recognized as king. The interval was to be spent in making preparations for the great event. On the 29th, the food which had been prepared for the occasion was taken to the house of Tuilili for inspection, and then placed in large baskets in a house called new Nasema. Tuilili then made his 'appearance, and was greeted with the words, 'Sa venakamai,' 'It is good that you have come.' Orders were then given to avoid all sneezing, after which a bale of cloth was given to Tuithekau, and received for him by Na Mata. Tuilili then advanced to the house where Tuithekau sat, with twenly whales' teeth, which he handed to Na Mata, and said that he had come to make Tuithekau king, and that if all Tuithekau's brothers had been there, he only would have been made page 280king—that he must take care of his health, and not be out late, and allow them to continue as a land and a people.

This speech was answered by Na Mata, who, after running over a long list of gods of both genders, concluded by wishing health to the king, and death to his enemies. A root of yanggona was then presented by a chief of a neighboring town, which Na Mata received and prayed over. The chief of the town of Lauthala then approached, nnd after the word of respect had been uttered, presented ten whales' teeth, requesting that the chiefs of Somosomo would 'be of a good mind' towards Lauthala. The teeth were received by Na Mats, and another prayer was offered.

Thanks were then given for the food, after which, it was divided into twelve portions for those that were present, and five to be sent to towns that were not represented. The people separated to eat their food, and then assembled on the 'rara.' Two mats were placed under the shade of a large tree, and a musquito curtain laid over them. Tuithekau seated himself on these, arrayed in black 'masi,' two hundred yards in length, holding in his hand a dirty rod. Na Savasava and Korai Ruki (priests) then walked up to Tuilili, who was seated on the 'rare,' holding in their hands a new head-dress. This they unfolded slowly, each holding a side, and standing so that the lighter end would be wafted towards Tuithekau. While they were unfolding the head-dress they muttered something, but in too low a tone to be understood. With the unfolded head-dress the priests advanced slowly towards the king, giving him and the Waitaga chiefs some advice, such as 'You must not rule the people with a high hand. You must be industrious,' &c. The priests then bound one end of the head-dress page 281(which was a piece of native muslin) round the arm of Tuithekau, and relieved him of his rod, saying that it was the business of a king to sit and receive presents, and urged (he people to give liberally. The priests, with several old men, then walked four times round a circle with their hands clasped, and looking upwards with a movement of the nose as if smelling for dead men, and then seated themselves before the king 'mid a clapping of hands, which continued till stopped by the master of ceremonies. They then made a sudden turn which brought their backs and sides towards the king, and remained in that position, as still as Quakers, for some moments. They then took the long black 'masi,' and the cloth which had been presented to the king, to Tuilili. A. pause of some eight or ten minutes succeeded, and then six women made their appearance, three bearing each a pot of boiled fish, and the other three boiled yams. As they approached the new king, they knelt three times, then presented the food, which His Majesty accepted, and sent a portion to Tuilili, who, not wishing to eat, went to sleep. After His Royal Highness had partaken of the repast, some old men marked him on the shoulders with red paint, and then took him upon their shoulders and carried him to his house. Thus ended the ceremony of the Coronation."

The following account of a priest at Somosmo was given by Rev. Mr. Hazlewood.

"In the town of Nasarata i loma, the leading character of the place is a priest, named Ra Uageawa. He does not owe his preeminence to his rank, neither is he under any obligation to the beauty of his person, the sweetness of his temper, or the high character of his morals. This being, however, has a considerable influence, and numbers in these and other parts of Feejee page 282look upon him with dread. Many believe that he is able to foretell the events of war, and that in his hands are the issues of life and death. He associates with kings, and affects to despise men of low degree. Yet, notwithstanding his great fame, he is very poor, and is obliged sometimes to make use of extraordinary means to procure ordinary supplies. He has several times pretended to have a commission from Jehovah to call upon us for property, in consideration of his having been our defence from war and protection from fire. As he has not, thus far, produced any order or note of hand, we have felt it our duty to tell him that we were quite satisfied that if he had been so commissioned we should have been apprised of by our God, and that in the absence of such apprisal we must decline his demands.

As Rev. Mr. Williams was employed in his study one afternoon, a domestic entered, and said that a person without desired an interview. The servant was told to wait upon him in, when the priest presented himself. He took a seat and requested Mr. Williams to lay aside his books and pay great attention to him. This solemn request caused him to look with greater attention on his visitor. He observed that his countenance was more repulsive than ever, and his body much agitated. Being encouraged to state his errand, he proceeded in the following manner:—

'Last month your God, Jehovah,, and a small Feejeean god came for me to go to England with them. I went, and they took me to a large house which they said belonged to the father of Mr. Williams, of Navatu, (Somosomo.) It was guarded by a large dog, with white fore feet. A lady who was in the house saw me, and called to me to come in. I told her that I was afraid of the dog. She told the dog to go away, and I went in.

page 283

It was a good house, but I could not se'e any spars in the roof. I looked out of the windows, but could not see any bread-fruit or banana trees. There were great riches in the house,—calicoes, prints and cloths. The god said to me, 'Do you see these boxes?' I looked and saw three large boxes,—the lids were up, and they were full of riches to take to Feejee. 'These,' said Jehovah to me, 'are the boxes for Mr. Williams, and you, only you must take great care of the fire. Fire burns. Our talk now is not after the manner of this world, so that you cannot now take any of this property. You must wait till the boxes get to Feejee, and then you must tell Mr. Williams that he must give you some of the property. Only mind fire,—be greatly afraid of it. You have kept Navatu safe a long time, and been their defence in war. Remember, it is your business to look after fire; as that would burn all the houses with all the riches they contain. Look after the fire; for this is apt to destroy riches and scorch men.'

The priest was told that as the boxes had not arrived, he could not expect to receive any thing from them. He then intimated that something was due for the announcement of prospects so fair. He was told in reply that the truth of his statements was strongly suspected. He seemed to be pondering on something to say, when an old man came to say that the medicine which the priest had given to one of his patients seemed to be hastening her end. 'That is the way of it,' muttered the great man, cursing the patient and the messenger.

With so good an excuse Mr. W. opened the door, and as he showed him out, heartily regretted that there was no jail at hand, where the Feejeean protector and doctor might have been placed for a time, that sober reflection in a cool situation might convince him that the page 284course he had pursued was not unattended with inconvenience.


After dinner we were informed that a "Solavu" was to be held by the natives of Vewa for Rev. Mr. Lawry. We soon heard the chant of the natives and observed them approaching round the brow of the hill. As the procession appeared, and at intervals was hidden by the intervening foliage as they were approaching the mission house, their appearance was highly picturesque. All were dressed in their Sunday costume, and each could boast of some "papalagi" article of dress. Some wore a shirt, some a hat or cap, and some of the females wore a dress, while others wore native cloth around their persons with a "papalagi "cape. The queen was decorated with a scarlet blanket, and Elijah with a large, heavy pea-jacket, lined with red flannel, and buttoned close to his throat,—the thermometer standing at 95° in the shade. Our old grandmother, as she calls herself, was arrayed in an old muslin dress, which I had presented to the queen on my first arrival at the islands. The right side had been worn out, and it now figured wrong side out. None of the native gentlemen of Vewa wore pantaloons; therefore, it can be imagined how thoroughly dressed they were with their shirts and jackets. The native "masi" was worn as usual. Some were arrayed in cloth, two breadths of which had been sewed together; it was fastened at the waist, and falling to the heels, covered their persons decently. This is a favorite dress of the men who have become Christians. But to return. An old man headed the procession, bearing a club. He was followed by Elijah, (Namosimalua was away,) bearing a club, and his head decorated with scarlet parrot's feathers. The Tonga teacher followed him, bearing a large, beautiful branch of variegated fo-page 285liage. Then came the rest of the males of Vewa, all bearing clubs, spears, or some Feejeean article, which they deposited on the veranda, where Mr. Lawry, the missionaries with their families, and myself, were standing. After the men had deposited their offerings, they formed themselves into a square on the green opposite the veranda, thus making room for the females to approach with their gifts. First came the queen with a mat. Mary Wallis then came with an enormous club, and was the only female that appeared with so formidable a weapon. The rest of the females presented mats, native cloth, arrow-root, tumeric, and various other articles. After all had been deposited, Elijah remarked that the gifts were the love of the Vewa people to Rev. Mr. Lawry, who had so kindly come to visit them. Mr. Lawry addressed them in his own happy manner, Mr. Hunt acting as interpreter. After this, all repaired to the chapel, where a kind of exhibition was held. The natives recited chapters from the Bible, repeated and chanted portions of the catechism, &c.

The articles which were presented to Mr. Lawry are to be sold to defray the expenses of a house of public worship which is being erected at Auckland, New Zealand.

The Vewa people do not need their clubs and spears now, because the time has come when they shall learn war no more. It was exceedingly affecting to see these, so late relentless cannibals, thus peacefully giving away their implements of war, and laying them at the feet of those who had brought the gospel to them.

The few men belonging to Vewa who still adhere to heathenism are now away, assisting Bau in its war.