« ZurückWeiter »
butcher, with a reaping-hook in his hand: here the »769Chief stopped, and in a transport of rage which rendered p ' . his signs scarcely intelligible, intimated that the butcher had threatened, or attempted, to cut his wife's throat with the reaping-hook. Mr. Banks then signified to him, that if he could fully explain the offence, the man should be punished. Upon this he became more calm, and made Mr. Banks understand that the offender, having taken a fancy to a stone hatchet which lay in his house, had offered to purchase it of his wife for a nail: that she having refused to part with it upon any terms, he had catched it up, and throwing down the nail, threatened to cut her throat, if (he made any resistance: to prove this charge, the hatchet and the nail were produced, and the butcher had so little to say in his defence, that there was not the least reason to doubt of its truth.
Mr. Banks having reported this matter to me, I took an opportunity, when the Chief and his women, with other Indians, were on board the ship, to call up the butcher, and aster a recapitulation of the charge and the proof, I gave orders that he should be punished, as well to prevent other offences of the fame kind, as to acquit Mr. Banks of his promise; the Indians saw him stripped and tied up to the rigging with a fixed attention, waiting in silent suspense for the event; but as soon as the first stroke was given, they interfered with great agitation, earnestly intreating that the rest •of the punishment might be remitted: to this, however, for many reasons, I could not consent; and when they found that they could not prevail by their intercession, they gave vent to their pity by tears.
Their tears indeed, like those of children, were always ready to express any passion that was strongly excited, and like those of children they also appeared to be forgotten as soon as shed; of which the follow-' ing among many others, is a remarkable instance. 1 Very early in the morning of the 28th, even before it was day, a great number of them came down to the fort, and Terapo being observed among the women on the outside of the gate, Mr. Banks went out and brought her in ; he saw that the tears then stood in her eyes, and as soon as she entered, they began to slow in
176?- great abundance: he enquired earnestly the cause, but pn instead of answering, she took from under her garment a shark's tooth, and struck it six or seven times into her bead with great force; a prosusion of blood followed, and she talked loud, hut in a most melancholy tone, for some minutes, without at all regarding his enquiries, which he repeated with still more impatience and concern, while the other Indians, to his great surprize, talked and laughed, without taking the least notice of her distress. But her own behaviour was still more extraordinary. As soon as the bleeding was over, she looked up with a smile, and began to collect some small pieces of cloth, which during her bleeding she had thrown down to catch the blood; as soon as she had picked them all up, she carried them out of the tent, and threw them into the sea, caresully dispersing them, abroad, as if she wished to prevent the sight of, them from reviving the remembrance of what she had done. She then plunged into the river, and after having washed her whole body, returned to the tents with the fame gaiety and cheersulness as if nothing had happened.
It is not indeed strange that the sorrows of these artless people should be transient, any more than that their passions should be suddenly and strongly expressed: what they seel they have never been taught either to disguise or suppress, and having no habits of thinking which perpetually recal the past, and anticipate the suture, they are affected by all the changes of the passing hour, and reflect the colour of the time, however frequently it may vary: they have no project which is to be pursued from day to day, the subject of unremitted anxiety and solicitude, that first rushes into the mind when they awake in the morning, and is last dismissed when they sleep at night. Yet if we admit that they are upon the whole happier than we, we. must admit that the child is happier than the man, and that we are losers by the persection of our nature, the increase of our knowledge, and the enlargement of our views.
Canoes were continually coming in during all this forenoon, and the tents at the fort were crowded with people of both sexe» from different parts of the
island. I was myself on board the ship, but Mr. 1769. Mollineux, our master who was one of those that ps made the last voyage in the Dolphin, went on shore. As soon as he entered Mr. Banks's tent he fixed his eyes upon one of the women, who was sitting there 'with great composure among the rest, and immediately declared her to be the person who at that time was supposed to be Queen of the island ; she also, at the fame time, acknowledged him to be one of the strangers 'whom she had seen before. The attention of all present was now diverted from every other object, and wholly engaged in considering a person who had made so distinguished a sigure in the accounts that had been given of this island by its first discoverers .; and we soon learnt that her name wasOBEREA. She seemed to be about forty years of age, and was not only tall, but of a large make; her skin was white, and there was an uncommon intelligence and sensibility in her eyes: she appeared to have been handsome when she was young, but at this time little more than memorials of her hea,uty were left.
As soon as her quality was J&nown, an .offer (w:as maile to conduct her to the ship. Of this she feadijy accepted, and came on board with two men and several women, who seemed to be all of her family ; I *eceiyed her with such marks of distinctiqrj as I thought would gratify her most, and was not sparing of my presents, among which this august personage seemed particularly delighted with a child's doll. After some time spent on board, I attended her back to the shore,; and as soon as we landed she presented me with a hog, and several bunches of plantains, which she caused to be carried from her canoes up to the fort in a kind of procession, of which she and myself brought up the rear. In our way to the fort we met Taotahah, who? though not King, appeared to be at this time invested with the sovereign .authority: he seemed not to .be-well pleased with the distinction that was shewed the lady, ajid became so jealous when the produced her doll, that to propitiate him it was thought proper to.compliment him with another. At this time he thought .fit to pi-eser a doll to a hatchet; but this preserence arose only from a childish jealousy, which could not be soothed but .by a Vox. I. G g gift
A>"J- gist of exactly the fame kind with that which had been presented to Oberea ; for dolls in a very short time were univerfally considered as trisles of no value.
The men who had visited us from time to rime had, without scruple, eaten of our provisions; but the women had never yet been prevailed on to taste a morsel. To-day, however, though they resused the most pressing solicitations to dine with the Gentlemen, they afterwards retired to the servants apartment, and eat of plantains very heartily; a mystery of semale œconomy here, which none of us could explain.
On the 29th, not very early in the forenoon, Mr. Banks went to pay his court to Oberea, and was told that she was still asleep under the awning of her canoe: thither therefore he went i intending to call her up, a liberty which he thought he might take, without any danger of giving offence: but, upon looking into her chamber, to his great astonishment he found her in bed .with a handsome young sellow about five and twenty, whose name was Obade'e : he retreated with some haste and consusion, but was soon made to understand, that such amours gave no occasion to scandal, and that Obadee was univerfally known to have been selected by her as the object of her private favours. The lady being too polite to suffer Mr. Banks to wait long in her antichamber, dressed herself with more than usual expedition, and, as a token of special grace, clothed him in a suit of fine cloth, and proceeded with him to the tents. In the evening Mr. Banks paid a visit to Tubourai Tamaide, as he had often done before, by candle light, and was equally grieved and surprised to find him and his family in a melancholy mood, and most of them in tears: he endeavoured in vain to discover the cause, and therefore his stay among them was but short. When he reported this circumstance to the officers of the fort, they recollected that Owhaw had foretold, that in four days we should fire our great guns; and as this was the eve of the third day, the situation in which Tubourai Tamaide and his family had been found, had alarmed them. Thecentries therefore were doubled-at the fort, and the Gentlemen flept under arms; at two in the morning, Mr. Banks himself went round the point, but found every thing so quiet, that he gave up all
suspicions of mischief intended by the natives as groundless. We had however another source of security; our little fortification was now complete. The north and south sides consisted of a bank of earth four seet and a half high on the inside, and a ditch without ten seet broad and six deep; on the west side, facing the bay, there was a bank of earth four seet high, and pallifadoes upon that, but no ditch, the works here being at highwater mark; on the east side, upon the bank of the river, was placed a double row of water casks, filled with water; and as this was the weakest side, the two four pounders were planted there, and six swivel guns were mounted so as to command the only two avenues' from the woods. Our garrison consisted of about five and forty men with small arms, including the officers, and the gentlemen who resided on shore ; and our centinels were as well relieved as in the best regulated . frontier in Europe.
We continued our vigilance the next day, though we had no particular reason to think it necessary ; but about ten o'clock in the morning, Tomio came running to the tents, with a mixture of grief and sear in her countenance, and taking Mr. Banks, to whom they applied in every emergency and distress, by the arm, intimated that Tubourai Tamaide was dying, inconsequence of something which our people had given him to eat, and that he must instantly go with her to his house. Mr. Banks set out without delay, and found his Indian friend leaning his head against a post, in an attitude of the utmost languor and despondency; the people about him intimated that he had been vomiting, and brought a leaf folded up with great care, which they faid contained some of the poison, by the deleterious effefts of which he was now dying. Mr. Banks hastily opened the leaf, and upon examining its contents found them to be no other than a chew of tobacco, which the chief had begged from some of our people, and which they had indiscreetly given him: he had observed that they kept it long in the mouth, and being desirous of doing the fame, he had chewed it to powder, and swallowed the spittle. During the examination of the leaf and its contents, he looked up at Mr. Banks with the most piteous aspect, and intimated that he had G £ 2 but