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With Vancouver in Hawaii (2)
When human sacrifices are offered the cruel deed is executed in this place on a place built with stones erected twelve feet from the ground. The miserable victim is dragged to it and the priests are his executioners; his brains are beat out and the body is cut up with shark's-teeth knives. The eyes and bones are dedicated to the Oroona: part of the flesh is consumed by fire and the rest given to the king's fishermen to catch sharks with.
Having seen the contents of the marai yard, we returned to the palace. His majesty was just come in from bathing. He gave us each a mat of fine texture and a piece of cloth. We attended him to see the cattle; they were all in high health but the bull; his death is inevitable. A number of people were closely watching him, keeping off the flies with green boughs.
Having passed a pleasant forenoon, we returned on board to dinner with some chiefs who very willingly partook of our fare. In the evening shortly after dark a double canoe came alongside, which threw our female visitors into the greatest confusion. An elderly woman came on board whom we found to be a captive queen taken prisoner at the island of Mowee about three years ago. This unfortunate lady is treated with the greatest respect. No woman can stand in her presence - which created a droll scene, as our decks were full of girls at the time of her unexpected coming on board. They went about on their hands and knees flying from every place the captive approached, scrambling up and down the ladders of the vessel to the great diversion of our sailors, who for an hour laughed heartily at the confusion of their little favorites. Cranniakooah is the name of this lady; she was very cheerful and requested often to see us when we went on shore. She is restricted from leaving her house in daylight, but may ramble where she pleases at night. A small retinue always attend her; amongst them are two humpbacked. She remained with us two hours and then took her leave.
The duty of both vessels went on very smoothly without anything particular taking place until the 30th, when Tomahamaha came on board early in the morning with the cook's axe and a few other articles that had been stolen from the Chatham during the night. An unfortunate girl was the culprit, whom the king had made a close prisoner on shore, saying he would put her to death if the captain wished it. Her friends came on board to intercede in her behalf, urging that she had been invited on board to pass the night with one of the seamen, who had neglected her; and that in revenge she had swam on shore with everything she could find laying loose about the deck.
Tomahamaha wished to inflict some punishment that it might deter others from the like pilfering practices. We resigned her to his disposal, only begging not to be too severe. IHe left us very much displeased, hurried on shore, and passed immediate sentence on the poor girl. She underwent an everlasting tabu from ever again going afloat, and her father to pay a tribute in hogs for his daughter's dishonesty.
March I, 1793. The king and his brother Terriemyty came on board to breakfast, and brought some fish just caught, with a canoe full of young coconuts. By the wish of the latter we attended him to the village of Karooah to see his residence. We landed on the spot where Captain Cook received his deadly wound. The man who gave the fatal blow is still living and intends coming to us in a day or two. We remained some time where the scene of horror was committed. A large concourse of natives drew about us, and an old man made a long speech relative to that day of destruction; he wept considerably in the midst of his harangue, as did many others of both sexes. The old orator soon evinced the cause of his grief as his two sons who fell in desperate conflict.
My heart sympathized with his sorrows, and I mingled a sigh with the numerous bystanders that were then in tears for a husband or brother or friend. They lay much of the blame on Terrieboo, the late king, for not attending Captain Cook to his boat after he promised it; although it is related in the narrative he would willingly have gone had not his wives prevented him. The bones of the immortal navigator are placed beneath a heap of stones close to a marai, about a quarter of a mile from the spot of destruction.
The village of Karooah contains about one hundred and fifty houses: it is built on a bed of lava; we saw many spots where the liquid stream retained the exact appearance it had cooled in. Even in these barren spots they contrive to cultivate the cloth tree and have plantations of it without any other protection to the root than a few stones piled round it.
Our walk was very short, as the sun had heated the lava so much that we felt it very plainly through our shoes. We retired to the habitation of our friend, who spread mats in the shade of coconut trees and produced a roasted hog, a dog, and vegetables. The premises of this chief were encompassed with a stone wall six feet high: on one corner stands a small marai with a few images, all of which were well supplied with provisions. Terriemyty is acknowledged to be one of the greatest warriors of Owhyee; he showed us many trophies gained in the battle at Mowee, one of them the skull of a chief he killed by throwing a spear through his body. His skill in throwing the spear greatly surprised us, as he scarce ever missed his mark at thirty yards....
March 4, 1793. The weather having been for some days exceedingly fine enabled us this morning to finish our rigging and report the Chatham ready for sea, well stowed with wood and water; and every corner of the vessel full of refreshments. The Discovery's defects being not yet made perfect detains us in the bay; a delay not to be repined at, as the friendly and courteous behavior of the natives has long merited our warmest esteem: they have scarcely given us a single opportunity of finding fault.
The worthy chief Tomahamaha is the watchful sentinel; he has placed his own canoes about the vessels to see that no improprieties are committed, and takes equal care of our friends at the observatory. Two chiefs and a few trusty subjects have charge of the encampment, with positive orders from the sovereign to seize anyone found within the tabued limits.
His majesty came to us almost in tears to relate the death of the bull, which has just expired. The cows are sent in canoes a few miles to the northward, where much better pasturage is to be found. One of the cows being with a calf, we are in hopes the issue will be of the male sex; otherwise our good intentions will he totally defeated unless we have it in our power to augment their stock by a further supply of this valuable animal, should we again return to the Sandwich Islands.
Before we became acquainted with these people we considered them as a ferocious and turbulent set of savages. This character they are by no means entitled to, as they are mild and tractable; uncivilized, unpolished, and in a true state of nature, they possess great courage, and will not tamely bear an insult or an injury. Their few laws are strictly adhered to, and was their code more numerous, I conceive they would abide by them with equal promptitude. To each other they are free, easy, and cheerful, and show more real good nature than I have seen in your better regulated societies. During the whole of my stay I was never witness to a quarrel: they delight in jokes, which were never known to produce an angry brow or uplifted arm.
In the evening of the 5th Tomahamaha, with a large retinue, paid us an unpleasant visit to announce the approaching Tabooroora to take place at sunset, and to last two nights and one day. Many were the importunings to remove this barbarous custom, but all arguments proved ineffectual. The good chief agreed to the absurdity of the ceremony but still insisted he was bound by the laws of his country to follow the religious tenets so strictly attended to by his ancestors. We kept the worthy fellow in conversation to the last moment and tried every expedient to get it removed, but in vain. He remained with us till the journeying sun was sinking in the west and then in haste took his leave. The king's departure was the signal, and in an instant every subject followed his example.
The brunettes expressed considerable disappointment, and plunged into the sea much dejected at being so unexpectedly forced from our society. The poor females undergo a much closer restriction than the men during the existence of the Tabooroora, not being permitted to move without their habitations and secluded from male visitors. At this period they weep and chant songs in honor of those chiefs whose bones are lodged in the marai, or place of worship.
The Englishmen resided one in each of our vessels during our stay and had the sole management of regulating our traffic; having complete knowledge of the language, no trouble ever took place. The situation Tomahamaha had placed them in gives them considerable authority in the islands: and their good conduct, I was happy to see, had gained them the confidence and good will of every inhabitant.
On the 7th, at sunrise, the Tabooroora ceased. Joy and delight were ushered in with the newborn day. In an instant our decks were covered with lovely women. Every tar folded in his arms youth and beauty.
The Discovery being ready for sea, it was made known our intention for sailing on the following day. The friendly and generous king heard the intelligence with marked concern: and every islander expressed the greatest sorrow. Tomahamaha begged Captain Vancouver and all the officers to visit him on shore in the afternoon to be spectators of a sham battle in which their warlike exploits would be practiced.
The invitation was accepted, and that something novel might be exhibited on our part, various fireworks were sent to the observatory to be thrown off after the close of the day. After dinner a large party from both vessels assembled at the royal residence, where we found the principal warriors all ready to commence the battle. The beach was chosen as the scene of action: thither we repaired arid found a large concourse waiting our arrival. Several large bundles of six-foot spears, blunted at the ends, were piled and soon after distributed to the fighting men.
The king headed his party of fifty: and another chief took the command of an equal numer which were to play the enemy.
A shout was given bv each party as a signal for battle. They then advanced to about forty yards, trying to provoke each other by threatening gestures and making the most hideous faces imaginable. In my life I never saw such a distortion of countenances and conceived it im possible that human beings could draw feat ures into such a variety of forms. D uring this time they kept approaching each other, and when arrived at about twenty yards a terrific yell was given and instantly followed by a shower of spears. The adverse party made as quick a return, and the battle became general. Many of them possessed considerable agility as they caught the flying spears before they reached their bodies and instantly returned them with great dexterity. Although their weapons were perfectly blunt, some very awkward blows were given, which always brought blood and tore pieces out of several of their bodies. Tomahamaha kept flying from wing to wing of h is division, encouraging his troops and giving the necessary orders, often advancing far in front to brave the power of the enemy. Numerous spears were thrown at him, the whole of which he avoided by falling or jumping. Few of his subjec ts equalled him in his warl ike exploits, as his strength enabled him to throw his javelin an amazing distance and to the greatest nicety.
The stone slingers were stationed in the rear, but did not play their part for fear of annoying the British. The king's opponents kept for some time giving ground, and at last being hard pressed macle a speedy retreat behind some old houses where they changed their weapons to long spears of twenty feet in length. With these they raillied, but were as speedily attacked by ITomahamaha's party, who using similar imple- ments, a famous onset now took place which soon gave victory to the king and his adherents.
The mode of treating prisoners was then shown, which completed the sham fight. The vanquished foes who had fallen into the hands of the conquerors were dragged a bout by the legs and their brains beat out with stones. The body is then cut up with shark's teeth knives and divided among the warriors, reserving the skull as a trophy for the royal commander. In real battles the party that first gets possession of a man and sacrifices him at a hazard is sure of gaining the honors of the day. Even should their armies amount to thousands, they will not stand their ground after this event, but instantly take refuge in the mountains.
Hostilities having ceased, all the royal family and some of the principal chiefs attended us to the tents and partook with us in bumpers of grog to the health of our beloved sovereign, King George the Third.
Upwards of forty thousand people were assembled around our encampment, waiting with anxiety the approach of dark to behold our performance. The first skyrocket actually staggered them with surprise; as if with one voice a general sound was heard expressive of wonder and amazement. Balloons, flower pots, roman candles, mines, and water rockets astonished them past conception; they could only express the inferiority of Owhyee and praise the prodigies of Britannia. After amusing the gazing multitudes an hour we returned on board, leaving our friends to their meditations.
Early on the 8th, we got off the tents and observatory from the shore and made every preparation for sailing. Tomahamaha and his queens remained with us during the day, frequently urging us to take more hogs and vegetables. The chiefs of the surrounding districts came to us with equal kindness, bringing extensive presents of canoes loaded with every kind of refreshments. They were presented with different trinkets, and the Englishmen were abundantly supplied with a large assortment of implements for cookery, husbandry, carpenter's tools, and almost every article that could be of service to them, besides a large variety of garden seeds. .
At 3 a.m. the 9th both vessels weighed and came to sail. Our movement at so early an hour created considerable confusion on board amongst the females: several leaped overboard and swam to shore, although the major part remained free from alarm. The breeze blew very faint off the land, which prevented our clearing the bay before 5 a.m., though aided by all our boats arid several canoes who voluntarily offered their services to tow us clear off the shore. At 9 the king and all his family came to the Discovery, where they passed two hours in great grief for our departure, and then visited the Chatham. The greatest concern was marked on his countenance. In the trite language of friendship, he kept continually inquiring if all our wants were gratified, offering hogs and vegetables which some of his canoes were filled with: but our decks were too abundantly thronged to make use of his generous intentions.
The inquiry was made on our part if we could augment his little store by anything we had on board. Every present he declined, but begged a plate, knife, and fork. Of course, he had it. and we learnt he had made a similar request previous to his quitting the Discovery. One of his domestics remained on board during our stay in the bay to learn the art of cookery. And now that he was in possession of the requisites for the table, a tolerable cook, and every kind of implement for culinary purposes, the monarch boasted with pride and satisfaction that he should now live like King George.
The breeze from the sea freshing up shortened the visit of our royal friends; they embraced us all round and left the vessel in tears, wishing us success and a speedy return. At this moment our decks were filled with moistened eyes. The pleasing girls of Owhyee bidding adieu to the men they had attached themselves to, general sadness prevailed throughout: and for my part I felt it exceedingly. Macooah, a pretty, good-natured girl who had been a good deal with me, had been weeping all the morning, and as the instant for separation approached her anguish became oppressive. With a bursting heart she implored to go the voyage; but that was impossible, and to part necessary. To divert her attention, a few beads, ribbons, and other trinkets were added to her collection, but her grief was not to be lessened by such baubles. The poor girl had grown fond; we parted - I was glad she was gone. Of all sights that soothe my soul to pity, nothing so effectually does it as a woman in tears.
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