Life in Feejee, or, Five Years among the Cannibals
Visit to Raverave—Feejeean Affection—Visit to Bua—Feejeean Courtesy —District Meeting—Arrival of the Zotoff—Departure from Boa—Arrival at Vetelavu—Thakombau's visit—Cannibalism.
I accompanied Elijah to Raverave. The town is surrounded by lofty hills, open to the sea only at page 358the north. It contains about fifty houses; most of them are small. The town of Raverave had been destroyed some two years since, but was immediately rebuilt. Two large "buris" were erected on the same spot where the two destroyed had stood. On our way I was shown a ditch where the remains of Tui Mathuata, the murdered king, were thrown at the time of the massacre.
On arriving at the town, as we passed a little "buri" we heard the voice of Retova, and were about to enter; but observing several clubs on the outside, Elijah said that he was probably engaged with messengers from distant towns, so we passed on to his house. This we found to be large and neatly finished. It is quite new, and called Garenggeo. Every house in Feejee has a name. There were a dozen women and several children present. "Where is the Marama? " I asked. "We are all Maramas," was the reply. I observed several musquito curtains, made of native cloth, thrown over bamboos. These are let down at night, and form distinct sleeping apartments,—an arrangement not to be found among the civilized natives of Manilla, where fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins, if they happen to be there, all sleep in one apartment.
As Retova did not come in, Elijah, Phebe and myself walked out to "sara sara." We first went to the graveyard. Here we found some half dozen graves, with little houses, like beehives, built over them. Fine cinnet was wrought in the open fronts, in the form of a spider's web. A large and beautiful tamarind tree waved over the graves. This tree and one at Tavea are all of the kind to be found in Feejee. They have grown from the stones of the fruit, which were presented by Mr. Wallis in 1836. Tamarinds were hanging from it page 359in abundance. It is very uncommon for one to die a natural death in this group, which may account for the small number of graves.
We next visited the spot where Tui Mathuata met his untimely fate. Several men assembled here, and all seemed eager to answer my inquiries respecting the occurrence, pointing out the different positions occupied by the murderers and the murdered. I told them that it was very wicked for them to kill people in that way. "Yes," they said, "it is very wicked. The Feejeeans are a foolish people." "You do not believe what you say," I replied, "or you would follow the good example of Elijah, give up your wicked practices, and become Christians." "Yes, Marama, we intend to do so by and by," they replied. They would have deemed it very uncivil to have differed from me in opinion, or to have said any thing in favor of their own customs.
While we were talking, several women joined us. As I was desirous of entering their sacred edifice, and seeing Elijah look as though he liked not to take the responsibility of such an act, I said to an old man, "Is it 'tambu' for a white woman to go in here?" "No," he replied. "You may go in. It is 'tambu-lavu 'for a Feejeean woman to go. If she should enter our god's house we should kill her." Thank heaven! I exclaimed, as I ascended the steps, that I was not born in Feejee. I think one may be allowed to indulge a little of the Pharasaical spirit here, where there is so marked a distinction between God's creatures.
Elijah and the old man followed me, leaving the women astonished at so unheard of a thing, as for a woman to enter the house of a god. The old man showed me where the king was seated when Korovaka-turaga en-page 360tered,—where hung the murderous weapon,—how he approached the unsuspicious victim,—where Retova sat, &c, &c. The "buri" is a lofty edifice, neatly built, but contains no offerings to its god,—no riches whatever. One club hung against the wall, and one breadth of European cloth was suspended from the ridge-pole of the building to the ground. This serves as a veil to hide the god when he descends to communicate with his subjects. I am not certain, however, about his descent. As the veil extends to the ground, it is probable, that, being an inhabitant of the lower regions, he ascends to this part of the world. As the gods, however, do not show themselves, even to the priests, we have no means of ascertaining the exact truth, and must leave the question unsettled.
"Do your priests never go behind the veil to see their god?" I asked the old man. "If he were to see the face of the god, he would die," was the reply. From whence could they have obtained that idea? so perfectly in accordance with the Bible. From whence their offerings of the first fruits of their lands to their gods,—and the rite of circumcision?—of throwing ashes upon the head when they have offended a superior?
We passed out of this and went on to the other large "buri," where the body of Muchanamu was taken and divided after it was baked. Some say that no one ate of it, being very much spoiled, as it did not arrive till several days after the murder. Others say that the "kaises" devoured it. I inquired where our old friend, the Mbete, was, and was told that he was dead, and that no one succeeded him. Retova says that if a papalagi missionary would come here and live, he would "lotu," and have no Mbete in Vete. Thus the house seems to be swept and garnished. Who shall take possession?page 361
Shall demons be allowed to enter this broad opening, or shall the gospel light illume the place, teaching men and women to serve God?
The fact that there were no priests, accounts for their being no offerings in the "buri." The sacred veil was made of cloth that I had seen in our trade room a short time before. I took hold of it and said, "How dare you use papalagi cloth for this purpose? Shall I tear it from its hangings, and take it away?" "Kagua Marama, kagua Marama, sa venaka ongo." "Do not, do not, it is very good."
We now returned to the Vale Garenggeo. Retova was still absent. We were offered some bananas, and informed that when they expected me to come and see them, a few days since, they prepared puddings for me; but as I did not come, they sent them to the vessel, and now they had nothing to offer.
After resting for awhile, we left for the purpose of returning to the vessel. On our way we were joined by the chief, and shown the oven where Muchanamu was baked, and the spot where his head was buried. Human heads are never eaten. Phebe kept close to me, and since we have been in Feejee has shown no disposition, so common in the females, of running away. One of the white residents of Solavu informed me that those of them who had resided for any length of time in this group, had provided themselves with iron chains for the purpose of confining their women who showed a disposition to leave their masters and owners. Thus we see there are slaveholders in this part of the world; but this is not surprising, as many of these slaveholders came from America, that glorious land of liberty, where three millions of the population are held in bondage!
Retova came on board this morning, and soon page 362after a canoe arrived from Kandavu, bringing its chief. Ashes were scattered over his head, and a handful was placed on one shoulder. He approached Retova with an air of the deepest humility, exclaiming "Au soro, au soro"—"I ask your pardon, I ask your pardon "—and offered the chief a whale's tooth. It was accepted, thus showing that the offender was pardoned. It appears that the chief of Ngagumu had offered love to one of the swarthy dames of Kandavu. Tomarau-ni-waqa, the chief of Kandavu, was justly indignant at such conduct, and determined to punish the bold offender, which he did by burning his town. He then came, as related above, to ask the pardon of the chief of Mathuata, as the town of the offender belonged to him. The Ngagumu messengers came to settle their part of the affair the day that I visited Raverave. Both parties must ask the forgiveness of Retova, as both were his subjects.
Elijah has gone to Tavea and Naloa, to preach on the coming Sabbath. His preaching costume consists of a plain piece of white or blue cloth fastened around the waist, falling as low as the ancles. Over that is worn a striped shirt, and a gray frock coat completes the suit.
|10.||Inquired to-day of Retova where his friend Korovakaturaga was. He said that he was living at Naivu; that after the murder of the king they became afraid of each other; that he was afraid to sleep and Korovakaturaga also; that one morning all the women and children of his friend were missing, and when another morning came he had also run away; that he had now become his enemy, and sought every means to annoy and injure him since his residence at Naivu, and that a few weeks ago thirteen of his people had been murdered by his orders. "How many of his people have you killed?" I asked. "I have had none killed," he page 363replied. "It is very bad to kill people in that way." "You are only waiting for an opportunity," I said. "Who killed the king of all these broad lands?" "Korovaka-turaga. He is a very bad man. He ordered Harry and his companions to be murdered," was his answer. "Did you not deceive your uncle, and draw him here to your town by your fair speeches, and then employ your friend to murder him? God is very angry with you for it, and it is He who has caused your friend to become your enemy. Now you have no rest or peace for fear of your enemies. You are losing your flesh. See how poor you are. And what did you gain by your wicked, cruel act? Your friend that was, is a strong man. Your uncle was old and weak. His son has been joined by the strong man and his people, in consequence of which he is strengthened, while you have become weaker." He looked distressed, but made no reply.|
|11.||We received a visit from several of the ladies belonging to the harem of the chief; among the number was a daughter of the late king. She had been demanded by, and given to Tanoa, king of Bau, but while on a visit to her father, as she and several of her women were one day employed in fishing, she was taken to Mathuata by force, to become a wife of her cousin, who was the determined enemy of her father. The affair gave great offence to Tanoa at the time, but when Retova went in the bark to visit Bau on our first voyage, he "soroed" to the king with a musket and some whales' teeth. The offering was accepted, but it is said that the king has not forgotten the insult.|
I have just concluded the reading of Typee and Omoo, by Melville. The author writes most beautifully. Every word has a meaning. Some of his statements and descriptions, although finely written, are, I think, incor-page 364rect. For instance, the damsels in the valley of Typee may have blue eyes, but they are to be seen in no other islands of the Pacific, except with a white skin.
His description of the bread-fruit tree reads very prettily, but I do not understand it. Wherever I have seen it, the foliage is perennial. He says the fruit "hangs in golden spheres." The fruit when ripe is green, when unripe is green, and the leaves are green.
Melville should never come to Feejee, for there would be some danger of his readers becoming cannibals. He would present the rites of heathenism and cannibalism in forms so attractive that they would be anxious to enjoy the delicate feasts. I am not sure that many damsels who have read of the "pretty blue-eyed tawny" of Typee, have not tried to hold a raw fish in their delicate fingers.
A word about Omoo. The author has given a faithful and true picture of the lives of deserters from ships. They are to be found in very many of the islands of the Pacific, and many of them are precisely as he has portrayed them—a lazy, lying, thieving set, and would rather steal their food at any time than earn an honest subsistence by even weeding a garden. If missionaries are residents where they are, they will be sure to flee from their presence as the author states, and then blame and ridicule their proceedings.
|18.||A young woman was strangled in the town. She had suffered for several weeks from some complaint in her head. Mr. Wallis had directed Elijah to let blood from a vein in her arm, to shave her head, and apply blisters. Medicines were also administered, but nothing relieved her, and to-day, as soon as Elijah left the place to visit Bau and Vewa, the Marama said, "Now Elijah has departed, the girl cannot recover, she will be a long page 365time dying; let us strangle her that we may not be troubled with her any longer," The assembled dames of Raverave pronounced the speech to be very good, and soon ended the sufferings of the girl with the strangling cord.|
Retova has sailed this morning for Namuka, with a numerous retinue, to attend a "Solavu." I told him to see that no people were killed and eaten while on their passages. He replied that he was too good a man for that business.
The wife of the chief Ndury, who is a native of Vewa, and a niece of Elijah, tells me that Retova and Ratanga have given up their cannibalism.
We have been honored with a visit from a party of Raverave ladies, all dressed in their best "lekus" for the occasion. These seldom visit the shipping. I was on the deck when they arrived, but as they expressed a wish to see the cabin, I invited them down. The great object of attraction was the looking-glass. As they stood before it arranging their hair, &c, I told them that they were "vinde vinde," or proud. "And so are you proud," said one, as she seated herself on the floor, looking very prim, and imitating exactly, I should think, my own manner at the time of my visit to their town. The natives are accomplished imitators.
The ladies composing the harem of the chief are mostly of equal rank. The daughter of the late king ranks the highest, but she seems not to be a favorite. She is childless, too, so that Retova has no benefit from a "vasu " to the territories of his enemies. One of his wives is the daughter of a chief of Thakendrove, another of Jekombea, and another of Geer. Her father, a chief of Geer, was murdered a short time since by the order of Retova, on account of some love affair.page 366
|16.||Elijah has returned from Vewa, bringing us letters from the ladies of the mission. We learn from them that the Consulate at Rewa has been destroyed by fire. The fourth of July was being celebrated by the firing of guns, when, by some accident, the buildings took fire and were soon in ashes.|
|18.||As the natives of Raverave and vicinity appear tired of fishing, Mr. W. thinks best to return to Ba for a season, and let this people rest. Retova has received a handsome American flag among other things, as a present, with which he appears highly delighted and perfectly satisfied. It has long been his ambition to possess a large, handsome flag.|
Tavea. As Mr. W. intended to remain at Tavea a few days, I started in the Glide at daylight to visit Bua. The land breeze soon died away, when our craft lay perfectly still upon the glassy bosom of the waters. Mr. W. seeing our situation, sent the jolly boat and six Feejeeans to row, that we might speed on our way and not be obliged to pass the night on the water. Elijah and myself took passage in the boat, and were soon on our way, the commander of the Glide observing as we left that they would soon overtake us when the sea breeze arose. Supposing this would be the case, we took no water or provisions on board for our crew.
As we passed Naloa, Elijah said there was a rock near the shore that was visible at ebb tide, which is classed among the gods of Feejee. It is about three feet high, and is supposed to devour all the musquitoes that would otherwise settle on the island. It is called the musquito's tooth. I remarked that they had better remove his godship to the island of Ono. At ten o'clock a slight breeze arose, which enabled us to endure the scorching rays of the sun. The breeze did not favor the passage page 367of the Glide, as it was directly ahead; therefore the rowers had the pleasant prospect of rowing a distance of forty miles before resting from their labors. A pint bottle of coffee and a small loaf of cake had been provided for myself, and had found their way to the boat, wrapped in my boat cloak. Finding that all had left the bark fasting, I divided half of the loaf among them, reserving the other half and the coffee for dinner.
At twelve o'clock we had made good progress. Three of the men rowed at a time, relieving each other alternately. I now gave them the rest of the loaf and the coffee; the latter was scarcely enough to wet their lips. As Elijah and myself did not work, we obeyed the apostolic injunction "not to eat."
About four o'clock we passed Nai Thombothombo, the supposed residence of the principal god of this island. His dominions are somewhat extensive, and covered with a dense forest of trees, shrubs and creeping vines. Elijah said that no person would dare to take even a leaf from the place, lest Okuru, the god, should be angry, Elijah had not probably been among the worshippers of Okuru, as he seemed to know but little about him, farther than that it was said he had many wives, and numerous attendants of little gods. As this is an acknowledged fact, I conclude that Okuru is not of the Roman faith.
The coast by which we passed, presented but little variety of scenery; broken hills and rugged defiles being the principal objects. There were on some parts sloping hills nearly covered with a tree called the Ndrala, which bears a bright scarlet blossom; the trunk and limbs were white, and nearly destitute of foliage. The natives plant their yams when this tree is in blossom.
We arrived at Bua bay an hour before the sun set, and Elijah asked if they should land and rest a little, and page 368refresh themselves with some cocoa-nuts, great quantities of which were growing near. I gladly assented, for I had been pained on account of the long day's labor which I had occasioned, and which they had so cheerfully performed. If one seemed to lag, Elijah would say, "Work away, Mr. Wallis will be angry if we do not reach Bua by dark." I said, "What strong men you are! You are not weak. You pull hard and fast. See how the boat flies through the water!" After this they would ply the oars with vigor, saying, "It is our love to Mr. W. and yourself which causes us to be strong men," Now the truth was, they did not feel a bit of love, and I presume they were wishing Hie any where else than where I was, but a Feejeean will never be outdone in compliments.
I remained alone in the boat, while my crew, with Elijah, repaired to the land. In about half an hour (hey returned, loaded with young cocoa-nuts. The meat had just begun to form, while the shell was full of cool, delicious milk. With what eagerness I quaffed the delectable beverage, I will leave those to imagine, who, like myself, have been seated in an open boat for the space of twelve hours without once changing their position or breaking their fasting. I did not suffer from hunger or thirst through the day, and I had been sheltered from the rays of the sun by an umbrella. We had not seen a canoe on our way, and our journey seemed likely to terminate without any romantic occurrence whatever.
Having to cross the bay, which is eight miles wide, before we gained the mouth of the river, we now hastened on, and arrived at the entrance of the river a few moments before the sun left us for a time, to illume other climes. As we sailed up the beautiful river, we seemed to have entered some fairy scene. Not a ripple page 369stirred the waters; the beautiful mangroves which lined its banks were reflected in them as in a mirror, and even the untutored natives seemed to feel an influence from the beauties of nature, for instead of the quick, strong pull at their oars, they now plied them gently, so gently that they scarcely ruffled the surface of the waters, as if they feared to disturb the surrounding harmony of the scene. I shall never forget the happiness of that hour. It rests upon my mind like some happy dream of childhood. I had such dreams once, and shall never forget them. They seem to be interwoven with my very existence, and their memory has accompanied me through all the varied scenes which I have passed.
About dark we arrived at the mission station, and were welcomed at the landing by Mr. and Mrs. Williams, who had received word of our coming by a native of Tavea, who had performed the journey from Tavea to Bua in much less time than we had the distance over land, being only eight miles, while the numerous capes and points to be rounded by water make the distance about forty miles.
|20.||Bua is a part of the main land. Fine table land extends to the distance of six or eight miles. The course of the river which runs through it has never yet been traced to its source. The mission house is located on a bend of the river, and looks exceedingly romantic from an opening between the cocoa nut and bread fruit trees at a little distance, where one catches the first view as he ascends the river, nor is its beauty lessened on a nearer approach. It is decidedly the prettiest and best dwelling to be seen in Feejee. It was built under the superintendence, and with the assistance of Mr. Williams, who, in addition to his other acquirements, possesses a good share of architectural knowledge. Order is to be seen in every department of the mission. Mr. and Mrs. page 370Williams have five children of their own, and one of Mr. Hazlewood's.|
The town in which the mission is situated is called Televa, and is governed by the eldest son of Tuimbua, the late king, who, as I have before stated, renounced heathenism some time since. He and some of his people appear to be truly converted, while nearly all the inhabitants of his town are nominal Christians. He has been a great warrior in his day, or rather in the early part of it, for it is now only mid-day with him. His countenance is one of the most strongly marked that I have seen. He has received the baptismal name of Hezekiah; appears to feel a great deal for the spiritual welfare of his countrymen, and is receiving instruction from Mr. Williams, for the purpose of becoming a preacher.
On the opposite side of the river stands the town of Vaturua, which was the residence of the late king during the latter part of his life. This people are very much opposed to the Christian religion, or not so much on account of the religion itself, as the insult which they fancy they have received on account of it. It will be remembered that one of the former wives of Elijah was a daughter of Tuimbua. He married another, and returned her to her kindred and tribe. This insult they will not forgive. The old men of the place declare that she shall have no other husband, that the insult may not be forgotten. It is said that these wicked old men were the counsellors of Muchanamu, the chief, and are now trying to pervert his successor, who is called Peter, and who appears friendly to the mission, and inclined to peace. Peter has a younger brother who listens to them, and appears to tread in the steps of Muchanamu to do evil.page 371
Vaturua was formerly the residence of Tuimuru, Tuimbua's cousin, who adopted Hezekiah as his son. For many years the two chiefs lived in amity, but, at length, dissensions arose between them, and they became inveterate enemies. Hezekiah was in favor of his relative, and fought against his father for many years. The warfare, however, was not carried on by the fighting of battles, as few, if any, were fought for several years. If a stray man or woman was found by the hostile tribe, they were caught and devoured. A spear would be thrown across the river, sometimes hitting a person, and sometimes a tree. After several years had passed in this way, the people of Vaturua determined to attack Televa, and have a regular battle. This they did, and drove Tuimbua, with his people, off some distance into the interior, where he lived for several years, each party amusing themselves by destroying occasionally a town or plantation belonging to his enemy. The Vaturueans took up their residence at Televa, which they have continued to occupy till this day.
When the American squadron visited these isles, one of the vessels came to Bua, and its commander invited the two chiefs on board, and advised them then and there to settle their difficulties, and become friends again. The chiefs talked over their affairs, pretended to forgive each other, kissed, exchanged their dresses, and then declared that they would be like brothers, as in days of yore, and that fighting should no longer be known in their lands, but that they would till them, catch their fish, and eat their yams in peace.
Tuimbua now returned to Bua, and settled at Vaturua. The peace was not of long continuance. Tuimbua was not celebrated for his warlike abilities. He seemed rather to love peace, and on the commencement of war page 372again, he sent to Vewa to ask the assistance of Verani, promising him his favorite daughter for a wife, as a reward for his services. Elijah came, both parties fought, but neither conquered, and the chiefs lived at enmity, carrying on a desultory warfare until four years since, when Tuimuru renounced heathenism, made peace with Tuimbua, and died soon after, leaving Hezekiah to reign in his stead.
Tuimbua died about a year afterwards, leaving, besides Hezekiah, three sons of equal rank, Muehanamu, whose fate has been recorded, Peter and Uarambata. Such is a summary of the history of Bua, as given me by Elijah on our late passage to this place.
Sabbath. I attended the native service in the chapel in the morning. The congregation was not as large as at Vewa, but the singing was far better. I cannot become habituated to listen with pleasure to the singing where the tune is snapped off at the end of every two lines. It destroys all the harmony of music; however, the custom of lineing out the hymns may serve to fix the attention of the worshipper on the words; I think it must serve to cramp rather than elevate the soul, which I believe to be the design of music.
After the native service in the morning, Mr. Williams preached in English. The latter service was held in his study. It was very pleasant to me to unite once more with the people of God in worshipping Him who has bestowed so many blessings upon us, and saved us from so many dangers to which we have been exposed.
Mrs. Williams informs me that they were somewhat alarmed, a few nights before my arrival, by the following occurrence: Uarambata, taking advantage of the absence of his brother, sent a man to dig some tarro belonging to the mission grounds, which coming to the page 373knowledge of one of the servants of the house, he went immediately to Vaturua, and requested that the tarro might be returned. The young chief appeared quite ashamed at being caught in so mischief-like an act, and sent it back with orders to his man to dig the tarro belonging to a native who had just built a new house not far from the mission premises. The owner of the tarro bed resisted the order, and would not let the man dig it. The man departed without it, threatening to burn his house that night. About midnight, Mr. W. and family were awakened by the shouting of natives, and the crackling of bamboos, which resemble in sound the firing of muskets. They arose, and soon perceived the poor man's house in flames. The missionaries did not know for some time how the affair would end; perhaps their own buildings were doomed also. After destroying the house, and making as much noise as possible to add to the terror of the scene, they departed without farther mischief.
On the return of Peter, so anxious were the old men of Vaturua to tell their story, that they did not wait for him to land from his canoe, but met him there, where they related the occurrence just recorded, and. begged his permission to go and fight the Televans. Peter sat quietly and listened to their narrative, and then made the following answer: "You wish for war. I desire peace. You wish to fight my brother of Televa. I intend to be of a 'good mind' towards hirn. He is a strong man. He made my father run. You may go and fight the Christians, while I will return with these, my friends, who have come with me, and live with them. My speech is ended." The war-loving and Christian-hating Vaturuans returned to their town; and quiet seems to be restored for the present.page 374
Peter, with several of his attendants, called to see me the day after my arrival. He appears to be about twenty years of age, his countenance is good, and his appearance preposessing. His mother was a native of Tongataboo, which accounts for his good looks.
As I was walking along the bank of the river, I perceived a canoe about to sail. It contained only one old man and woman, and I told them that I would go a little way with them. As I stepped upon the frail little bark, the old man shouted, "Now I am the king of Feejee!" The natives, of whom there were several on the margin of the river, laughed, and asked where he was going. "Au sa lako ge papalagi"—"I am going to the white man's land," he replied. After a pleasant sail, I landed where the foot-path from the town terminated, and returned to the mission-house, having enjoyed a pleasant walk in addition to my excursion on the river.
In the evening Mr. Williams gave me an account of the hurricane experienced by the missionaries in February last at Nandy. At the commencement of the gale, the roof of the house occupied by Rev. Messrs. Watsford and Ford, with their families, was carried away. The rain poured in torrents, and the house tottered in a manner that showed it was unsafe for them to remain in it any longer; neither was there any shelter from the rain. The waves of the angry ocean were rising and threatening to engulf them. They must go somewhere. As they left the slight elevation on which the house stood, they found themselves two feet deep in water. They took refuge in a building near, which, being low, seemed not to be as much affected by the wind as the higher buildings. They were soon driven from this by the water, and they had no sooner left it than it fell to the ground. Their only hope was to gain the native vil-page 375lage, but between them and it was a wide sheet of water, formed by the mountain torrents. The ladies and children were obliged to remain exposed to all the violence of the gale, while the gentlemen and servants exerted every nerve to construct a raft for them to cross the water. After this was done, the ladies, with their frightened babes, were placed thereon, and two servants took charge of it while the gentlemen waded on up to their necks nearly in water.
On reaching the central force of the current, the natives cried out, "We cannot manage the craft; we shall all be swept into the sea (as were several natives during a former gale). The gentlemen came to their aid, and with great difficulty succeeded in forcing the raft to stem the current, and they landed at the village. Here they were driven from house to house for some time by the rising of the waters. At length they reached the only house in the village that was not partly under water,—being situated a little on the rise of the mountain. The water soon came in here, and they were preparing to leave to ascend the mountain as their last hope of safety, when a native said, "Stop a moment, I think the water has become stationary," Every eye was fixed intently on one spot which marked the rise of the waters. After a while it became evident that the element had begun to recede, and as the tide ebbed the house became dry. They now began to think of dry clothing, but no well-stored chests are to be found in the houses of the natives; not feeling the importance of clothing themselves, of course they were not prepared to supply visitors. Some Tonga cloth was brought forward, in which they wrapped themselves and slept during the night. On the morrow the storm had abated, and search was made among the wrecked articles for clothing; but page 376nothing could be found that was dry except one trunk containing the wearing apparel of Mr. Watsford, in which the ladies and gentlemen arrayed themselves. I will not attempt to describe their appearance.
The loss to the mission by the wind and flood was considerable. Their books were nearly all spoiled. Mr. Watsford's eldest son was almost suffocated by the kindness of the native who had him in charge. He wrapped a blanket so closely around him, to shield him from the wind and rain, that he became quite purple. Their little girl died in two weeks after. Mrs. W. is still suffering severely in consequence of her exposure.
Mr. Ford and family left in the John Wesley during her last visit to the islands; Mr. F. being afflicted with a disease in his head that is increased by a residence in a tropical climate.
From the different events recorded in this book relating to the mission in Feejee, it may be seen that the life of a missionary is not one of ease and exemption from trials, as some pretend to suppose. There is no exaggeration in what I have recorded. They are the simple facts, and show that these devoted people of God have, in the words of the apostle, suffered by perils of the ocean, by perils of the land, and by perils from false brethren. And what do they gain? Not worldly honor, for the missionary is despised by the world. The next world, however, will show what is gained by those who faithfully serve their Master here.
As Mr. and Mrs. W., with myself, were enjoying an evening walk, a messenger summoned us to return, saying that some "papalagi" gentlemen were at the house waiting to see us. We hastened home, and had the pleasure of welcoming Messrs. Calvert, Hazlewood and Malvern.page 377
The District Meeting was to be held at Bua, and the gentlemen had anticipated the coming of the John Wesley by a smaller conveyance.
|27.||This morning, hearing the most dolorous crying in the town, I inquired its cause, and was informed that some one was dead. Mrs. W. said that all cried on these occasions; some for grief and others from custom. A short time since a child died in the town, and a woman of Vaturua, hearing of the death, said that she would cross the river and join in the cry. She came, but was too late; the cry was over. "Never mind," she said, "I will cry here;" so she sat down in the footpath, where she cried as loud and as long as she chose, and then returned to her home apparently quite satisfied with herself.|
|28.||The John Wesley arrived, bringing Dr. Lyth, the Chairman of the District Meeting. The gentlemen of the mission had now all arrived, with the exception of Mr. Watsford, who was detained by the continued illness of Mrs. W. The children of Mr. Hazlewood go to New Zealand in the mission brig when it returns. The eldest son of Dr. and Mrs. Lyth, with the two eldest boys of Mr. and Mrs. Williams, depart at the same time to attend school at New Zealand. The missionaries of Feejee have adopted the wise plan of sending their children to be educated among civilized beings as soon as practicable. I believe this is the only way in which their children can be trained for future usefulness. It is next to an impossibility to keep children free from the deleterious influences of heathenism; and the sooner they are sent away the better it is for them, though hard is the parting. This is not one of the least of the trials of the missionary.|
At an early hour in the morning I started in a page 378canoe, with an old native servant to manage it, and three of the little sons of the missionaries for companions, for an excursion up the river. We had not proceeded far, when I was shown the grave of the late king, which looked like a little grassy mound. It was a quiet spot, shaded by a large eva tree. An oven, for cooking the bodies of dead men, is also to be found under the shadow of the same tree. Two weeks since, eight men were cooked in that very oven. It appears that a party of men belonging to the town where Muchanamu was murdered, visited another town with whom they were on friendly terms. The visitors occupied the "buri," and in the evening after their arrival they were joined by the chief of the place, with several of his attendants. During the conversation that ensued, the visitors boasted that they had killed the chief of Bua, and one said, "I ate a peace of his heart." The chief listened to the statement, and made no comment. The next morning men were stationed at the entrance of the "buri" with clubs, and as the visitors came forth to enjoy "the sweet breath of morn," they were severally clubbed. The bodies were sent to Bua, where they were cooked and devoured. This is, probably, but the beginning of murders that will be committed on account of the death of Muchanamu.
The dead are sometimes cooked whole, and after being taken from the ovens are painted and ornamented as for a feast or war. They are thus taken, in a sitting posture, on the shoulders of men and carried to some distant town. In passing them, one would not perceive, till quite near, that they were dead.
We sailed on through several miles of level country. The tall cocoa-nut trees were very abundant, waving their crowned heads in the breeze, and seeming to invite page 379us to admire their graceful beauty. The lemon, the citron, the lime, and the fig trees are also to be observed among others, imparting a variety to the foliage which was truly beautiful. One lemon tree was bending over the margin of the river, so completely loaded with its golden fruit as to appear just ready to fall into the still waters beneath.
My little companions were complete botanists, having a name for every green thing. Having proceeded much farther than I was aware before we turned towards home, it was nearly noon before we arrived, and Mrs. W. was feeling some anxiety on our account. We had not, however, been startled by the report of a musket. The poisoned arrow had not whizzed past us, we had felt no blow from the club, no point of a spear, no bile from cannibal teeth, and had passed a "lovo mbokalo" without being baked in it.
Sabbath. After divine service in the afternoon, several of the gentlemen, with Mrs. W. and myself, crossed the river, and repaired to a small settlement near its banks, where Mr. Calvert was to preach. We found but eight or ten houses whose inhabitants have renounced heathenism, and are desirous to be instructed in the great truths of the gospel. The buildings were scattered about any where in a thick grove of banana and cocoa-nut trees.
Mrs. W. and myself seated ourselves on a native drum, under the shade of an eva tree, while Mr. C. addressed the assembly. During the sermon, we observed the Mbete of Bua approach and enter the nearest hut, where he must have listened to the greater part of the discourse. At the close of the services, Messrs. C. and W. entered the dwelling, and recommended to him the page 380religion of Jesus. He said that the "lotu" was very good, and by and by he would embrace it.
As we left the place, I thought I had never before worshipped in so splendid a sanctuary. The roof was of the purest azure, and the walls were elegantly decorated with verdant ornaments.
From the settlement we visited the town of Vatarua. Peter was absent, but the gentlemen conversed with several respecting the excellency of the true "lotu." With the true native courtesy they assented to all that was said, and promised to renounce heathenism by and by, as usual. The posts which had been erected for the great "buri," by the warriors of Muchanamu, were still standing as they left them. This "buri" was to have been finished on their return, and dedicated with the bodies of Mr. W. and his children. But God, in whom the missionary trusts, did not suffer this to be. He arrested the savage, and brought all his plans to nought. Mr. W. remarked that he hoped to see the building finished, and to preach the gospel in it.
I stood gazing a long time upon the spot on which this terrible scene was to have been enacted, during which my imagination was not inactive; but as there are horrible realities enough to record of this people to satisfy the most horror-loving reader, I forbear to record imaginary ones.
Dr. Lyth preached an excellent sermon in English in the evening.
|31.||After tea, Mrs. W. being engaged in her maternal duties, and the gentlemen all in the chapel, I wandered out alone, and passing through the town, entered a retired path leading to the "rara," a distance of about a quarter of a mile from the town. Engaged in my own solitary musings, I wandered on, forgetting that I was page 381in a heathen land, or that I might meet some who were not as good as the Televans. I had gained about half the distance to the "rara," when I was aroused and reminded of my lonely situation by hearing some one approach. I thought it might be one of the Christian-hating cannibals of Vatarua, but my fears were soon removed by perceiving the figure of a woman, as she appeared, and was then hidden by the intervening foliage. On reaching the spot where I stood, she said that her father, seeing me pass on my way alone, sent her to accompany me, and see that no harm came to me. Would a civilized being have done more?|
At daylight I was informed that the Zotoff was at anchor in Bua Bay, and we soon had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Wallis and Elijah at the mission house.
The members of the District Meeting had closed their business, and were ready to depart, expecting to sail at the same time with the Zotoff.
Mr. Calvert has received an appointment to Bau, and will remove to the city as soon as suitable buildings are erected. No other changes are expected to take place the coming year. Many more missionaries are needed in Feejee. The mission has become sadly weakened by death and other causes the past year. The bereaved Mr. Hazlewood sends his dear babe and the little girls to New Zealand in the John Wesley.
After dinner we took leave of the good company assembled at Bua, and embarked in the jolly boat to join the bark, that there might be no hindrance to our sailing at an early hour in the morning.
My pleasant visit at Bua will be long remembered. I found the place like an oasis in the desert, where the traveller is refreshed and benefited. Mr. and Mrs. W. page 382showed the most affectionate attention to my comfort, health and pleasure during my visit.
The weather was rather squally, with occasional showers of rain when we left Bua. The bark had not come into the bay, but was lying at so great a distance off, that its hull could not be seen as we entered the bay from the river. A cutter belonging to Solavu was at anchor near the J. W., and Elijah proposed that, as the sea was rough, and the wind, though fair, was likely to increase, Mr. W. and myself should take passage to the bark in the cutter, while he and the other Feejeeans would go on in the boat, adding that he could not feel comfortable, if we remained in the little boat in such weather. To this arrangement Mr. W. consented, and we removed to the cutter. In the convenient little vessel we reached the bark, after two hours' sailing, with the apparent speed of a steamer.
|3.||Although the morning seemed to indicate a storm, Mr. W. thought that he would venture to cross to Vetelavu. When half of our passage was accomplished, the sky became very dark, the wind blew half a gale, the heavy thunder rolled, the lightning played, and the rain fell in torrents. Our situation is never very enviable on board the bark in a severe thunder storm. There is too much powder and cutlery on board to render one quite comfortable in such seasons. But there were no rocks and reefs directly in our course, and we anchored at Malaka, on Vetelavu, about 3 o'clock P. M.|
We sailed to Tabua. The chief, with several attendants, visited the bark, where he received some presents, and promised to fish well for the "Turaga ndena." On his return to his town great lamentation was heard, and sad news awaited his coming.
His principal wife, with some twenty or thirty of his page 383tribe, mostly women and children, went to an inland town to procure a supply of food. The most friendly intercourse had been held between the inhabitants of the two places for the last four years; therefore, the Tabuans suspected no evil. The chief of the inland town belonged neither to Ba nor Tabua, but has been in the habit, in former years, of joining the strongest party. Believing Tabua to be the strongest, for several years past he has adhered to them, and helped them against their enemies. But the chiefs and people of Ba, having been rather successful of late in catching and eating the Tabuans, the high-minded and honorable chief has become the ally of Ba. The Tabuans knew nothing of this change, and went to exchange their fish for the products of the country, when their former friends received them with their love tokens, called clubs, and soon sent the souls of their terrified victims to another world. The women and children were all massacred, and one man. Two men escaped to tell the tale.
This changing of parties is a common occurrence among independent chiefs. Dumbui, of Naloa, pretends great love for Retova. Whales' teeth and love messages are continually passing between them, yet Dumbui told Mr. Wallis that if Bau should come to fight Mathuata, he should fight on the side of Bau.
We anchored at Ba. The inhabitants belonging to the town of Vakambua are engaged in preparing the slaughtered Tabuans for feasting. It is the custom, when natives are murdered in this way, to send the bodies immediately to the town of some superior chief, who was the principal enemy of the slain. More than two thousand of the inhabitants of Feejee have been murdered since we have heen among this group. It is page 384beyond our power to estimate the number killed in the interior of the large islands and on the smaller ones, as we have had no intercourse with them.
Elijah remarks that the population has rapidly diminished since the introduction of fire-arms. On our passage in the little boat to Bua, he observed that when he was a lad, the whole coast which we passed by was lined with towns, the inhabitants of which had been mostly killed in their wars.
Elijah informs me that it is a custom on this coast, and many other parts of Feejee, when one tribe visits another, after they have partaken of the food provided for them, to gather up every thing that is left, and take it away with them. They collect even the smallest crumbs, lest they should fall into the hands of strangers, who, by rubbing poisonous herbs over them after their departure, would cause their death. This was once the universal custom, but of late years it is partially abolished. He farther remarks that his father, who died an old man, used to say, during the last years of his life, that Feejee had changed much since he was a lad. In former days, the intercourse between the different tribes was more restricted. When one clan visited another, they went well armed and in a most formal manner. The women and children never accompanied them, nor even were sent, as now, to exchange food. While they remained at a strange town, no social intercourse took place between the parties, each keeping by themselves, approaching only within speaking distance. Tribes or clans only visited for the purpose of exchanging property. Their meetings for that purpose were held on an open space of ground, which I have already described as the "rara." The different parties entered it from opposite directions. The riches which they brought page 385were placed in the centre. The natives would then seat themselves, when the chief's would address each other through their officers, in the most respectful, formal and complimentary manner. After the speeches, dancing commenced, sometimes one party performing, and then the other, taking care to keep at a good distance from each other. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, which were ended by feasting the guests, each party retired to separate habitations. Tribes inhabiting distant parts of the group knew nothing about each other.
Namosimalua appears to have been the first Feejeean traveller of distinction. He seems to be of a restless, active disposition. He has visited and conquered the inhabitants of many places who were not previously known at Bau and the vicinity except by name. For many miles of coast on this side of Vetelavu, the inhabitants acknowledge him as their king. He has depopulated some small islands, and it is said that he had no small share in killing and scattering the inhabitants of the now almost desolate coast of Vanualavu, between Bua and Mathuata.
Elijah was the constant companion of his uncle for many years, and both rendered themselves notorious by their conquests and deep treachery.
|12.||Lautoke. The schooner William and David arrived. The fish which it brought was taken on board, and the vessel is discharged, as there is not sufficient business on this coast to employ two cutters and a schooner.|
No farther service being required of Elijah, and his presence being very much needed at Vewa, Mr. W. parted with him to-day with reluctance, and he sailed for his home in the Glide.
As he left, I said to him, "Will you not return to page 386Vewa and accompany us to America?" "It would be difficult," he replied, "for me to visit America. I should see so many beautiful women, and so many other attractive objects, I should be in danger of forgetting the concerns of my soul."
|24.||Lautoke. The Glide returned from Vewa, bringing us letters from the Consul at Rewa and the missionaries at Vewa. We learn from them that the British frigate, Havanah, has arrived among the group. We hope that Naivu will receive a visit and a lesson before the vessel departs. Mr. Calvert writes, after detailing some items of news, "There is one thing which I must not forget to tell you, though it will make you tremble. While we were absent at Bua, Navinde caught fourteen women and clubbed one man. News came to Vewa that the women were all to be clubbed the next day. Our wives could not rest, and procured a canoe and hastened to Bau with a whale's tooth to present to Tanoa to spare their lives. They were too late to save them all; nine had just been clubbed, but the others were saved at the intercession of the ladies, who approached the king with aching hearts and trembling frames."|
In the afternoon the mission brig came in sight and anchored near. We soon had the pleasure of receiving a visit from Mr. Calvert. We learned from him the cause of the late capture of the fourteen women by Navinde. It appears that there were visitors at Bau, and food was to be prepared for them; therefore, the king ordered his butchers (whose especial province it is on these occasions) to provide meat for the guests. In compliance with this order, Navinde, with several others of the Lasakau tribe, repaired to the main, and succeeded in obtaining fifteen human beings, ten of whom were slaughtered and five saved. When the ladies offered page 387the whale's tooth to the king, he said, "Those that are dead, are dead; those that are alive, may live."
Thakombau and Navinde accompanied Mr. C. on board the Havanah, where they were lectured on the horrible custom of cannibalism. Thakombau said, "Oh, in England you have a plenty of beef, therefore you have no need to eat each other, but in Feejee we have no other meat to give our friends." What a horrible feature of cannibalism is thus presented, to kill and eat each other where no enmity exists, merely for the love of the flesh of their own kind. When Mr. Calvert afterwards reproved Thakombau for his speech, he said, "Our fathers did the same years ago, but we are now growing wiser, and if you come to Bau and live, we shall be ashamed to eat so many human bodies." It is said that neither the king nor Thakombau feed, themselves, on human flesh, yet, as the above shows, they do not hesitate to provide it for their friends. If Mr. Calvert resides on the island, it will be in his power to prevent many horrible scenes Jike those just recorded. If cannibalism should be abolished from Bau, hundreds of lives would be saved annually. If only a canoe load of visitors should arrive at the imperial city, the butchers must hasten to catch one or more persons with which to feast them. None are employed in this business except the Lasakaus. Before the Vewa people embraced Christianity, they were honored by being the butchers for the royal city, and well did they execute their trust.
Mr. Calvert has been endeavoring to bring about a reconciliation between Garenggeo, Bau and Phillips. He has advanced so far as to stop, for the present, all hostilities between the powers that be. He performed a journey to the mountains, and returned accompanied by Garenggeo, and the brothers met. Garenggeo came page 388unattended, save by the missionary, while the boastful, cowardly Phillips feared to meet his brother unaccompanied by a host of his people. It appears that the Consul had been engaged in efforts to bring the brothers into favor with each other, and in conjunction with Phillips had sent for Garenggeo to come to Nukulau, hold a meeting at the palace of the Consul, and become friends. But Garenggeo, knowing by sad experience that no faith could be put in his treacherous brother, had feared to come.
When the brothers, through the influence of Mr. Calvert, met, Phillips, surrounded by his people, paced to and fro before Garenggeo, saying, "Why did you not come when I sent for you?" "Because I was afraid; I could not trust your assurances of friendship, as you are not a true man; you say one thing and mean another," replied Garenggeo. "Why did you come then with the missionary?" he asked. "Because he is true. He told me that I should be safe, and I could trust him," he replied. After some more catechising, on the part of Phillips, he said, "Yes, I am strong. I conquer my enemies. I do not have to run. I conquered Rewa," "You are weak were it not for the strength of Bau. Bau conquered Rewa, but it was through you that our brother was murdered," returned Garenggeo. After some more conversation, of which the above is only a specimen, Phillips, who had not been very much pleased with Mr. C.'s interference and presence, desired all the white people to go out and leave him with his brother. Mr. Calvert said, "If we go out, your people must go with us. Your brother has no one to protect him, and you must not have all these people around you." This command was not in accordance with the desires of the heroic cannibal, but he had no alternative, and reluctantly con-page 389sented. After the departure of the spectators, the brothers talked, cried, kissed each other, and exchanged their "masis," and loved each other mightily for some time, and the result is that Garenggeo has returned to the mountains and Phillips to Nuque, both desirous of living on friendly terms, yet neither able to trust the other. I think it probable that each will reside where he is, until the death of one, when the other can safely reign as king of Rewa.
The Havanah sailed to Ovalau, where the trees and bushes were most furiously attacked by those on board, to show the natives the power of their fire-arms. We do not learn that any of the places rendered memorable by the massacre of white men, are to be visited or punished. Experience shows that moral suasion does not always avail in Feejee. The lesson given to the inhabitants of Malolo has been most salutary and lasting. There is no place in the group where white people can visit with more safety, and receive kinder treatment. Mr. Calvert returned to the J. W. in the evening.
The J. W. sailed at sunrise for Rotumah.
I accepted the invitation of Mr. Calvert, yesterday, to visit Lautoke, where we enjoyed the luxury of a walk. I need the exercise of walking, as my health suffers from my long residence in so confined a space as the cabin and quarter deck of the bark. Mr. C. urges my going to Vewa; but I have decided, if my health does not improve when we return to the other coast, to accept of the kind invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Williams, and remain awhile with them at Televa, as they are the most lonely, and I'can communicate with Mr. W. oftener, by writing, from Bua.