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very singular dress in which a ceremony is per. 1769.
June. formed that will be described in its turn. Near Land the place where the dead are thus set up to rot, Monday 5. the bones are afterwards buried.
What can have introduced among these people the custom of exposing their dead above ground, till the flesh is consumed by putrefaction, and then burying the bones, it is perhaps impoflible to guess; but it is remarkable, that Ælian and Apollonius Rhodius impute a similar practice to the ancient inhabitants of Colchis, a country near Pontus in Asia, now called Mingrelia; ex. cept that among them this manner of disposing of the dead did not extend to both sexes: the women they buried; but the men they wrapped in a hide, and hung up in the air by a chain, This practice among the Colchians is referred to a religious cause. The principal objects of their worship were the Earth and the Air; and it is fupposed that, in consequence of some superstitious notion, they devoted their dead to both. Whether the natives of Otaheite had any notion of the same kind, we were never able certainly to determine ; but we soon discovered, that the repositories of their dead were also places of worship. Upon this occasion it may be observ. ed, that nothing can be more absurd than the notion that the happiness or misery of a future life depends, in any degree, upon the disposition of the body when the state of probation is past; yet
that nothing is more general than a solicitude
the general good of society in a certain measure 1769. depends; for as some crimes are supposed to w be prevented by hanging the body of the crimic Monday so nal in chains after he is dead, so in consequence of the same association of ideas, much good is procured to society, and much evil prevented, by a desire of preventing difgrace or procuring honour to a name, when nothing but a name remains.
Perhaps no better use can be made of reading an account of manners altogether new, by which the follies and absurdities of mankind are taken out of that particular connexion in which habit has reconciled them to us, than to consider in how many instances they are essentially the fame. When an honest devotee of the Church of Rome reads, that there are Indians on the banks of the Ganges, who believe that they fhall secure the happinefs of a fucure state by dying with a cow's fail in their hands, he laughs at their folly and superstition ; and if thefe Indians were to be told, that there are people upon the continent of Europe, who imagine that they shall derive the fame advantage from dying with the flipper of St. Francis upon their foot, they would laugh in their turn. But if, when the Indian heard the account of the Catholic, and the Catholic that of the Indian, each was to reflect, that there was no difference between the absurdity of the flipper and of the
1769. tail; but that the veil of prejudice and custom, June. u which covered it in their own cafe, was wichMondsy 5. drawn in the other, they would turn their know
ledge to a profitable purpose.
Having observed that bread fruit had for some days been brought in less quantities than usual, we inquired the reason; and were told, that there being a great show of fruit upon the trees, they had been thinned all at once, in order to make a kind of four paste, which the natives call Mabie, and which, in consequence of having undergone a fermentation, will keep a considerable time, and supply them with food
when no ripe fruit is to be had. Saturd. 10. On the roth, the ceremony was to be per
formed, in honour of the old woman whose fepulchral tabernacle has just been described, by the chief mourner; and Mr. Banks had so great a curiosity to see all the mysteries of the solemnity, that he determined to take a part in it, being told, that he could be present upon no other condition. In the evening, therefore, he repaired to the place where the body lay, and was received by the daughter of the deceased, and several other persons, among whom was a boy about fourteen years old, who 'were to affift in the ceremony. Tubourai Tamaide was to be the principal mourner; and his dress, which was extremely fantastical, though not unbecoming, is represented by a figure in one
of the plates. Mr. Banks was stripped of his 1769. European clothes, and a small piece of cloth being tied round his middle, his body was Sa:urd. 10. smeared with charcoal and water, as low as the shoulders, till it was as black as that of a ne groe: the fame operation was performed upon several others, among whom were some women, who were reduced to a state as near to nakedness as himself ; the boy was blacked all over, and then the procession set forward. Tu. bourai Tamaide uttered something, which was supposed to be a prayer, near the body; and did the same when he came up to his own house: when this was done, the procellion was continued towards the fort, permission having been obtained to approach it upon this occasion. It is the custom of the Indians to fly from these processions with the utmost precipitation, so that as soon as those who were about the fort, saw it at a distance, they hid themselves in the woods. It proceeded from the fort along the shore, and put to fight another body of Indians, consisting of more than an hundred, every one hiding himself under the first shelter that he could find : it then crossed the river, and entered the woods, passing several houses, all which were deserted, and not a single Indian could be seen during the rest of the procession, which continued more than half an hour. The office that Mr. Banks performed, was called that of