A GENERAL HISTORY AND COLLECTION OF VOYAGES AND TRAVELS.
ARRANGED IN SYSTEMATIC ORDER: FORMING A COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF NAVIGATION, DISCOVERY, AND COMMERCE, BY SEA AND LAND, FROM THE EARLIEST AGES TO THE PRESENT TIME.
BY ROBERT KERR; F.R.S. & F.A.S. EDIN.
ILLUSTRATED BY MAPS AND CHARTS.
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, EDINBURGH: AND T. CADELL, LONDON. MDCCCXXIV.
CONTENTS OF VOL. XIII.
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PART III.—BOOK I.
A particular Description of the Island of Otaheite; its Produce and Inhabitants; their Dress, Habitation, Food, Domestic Life and Amusements.
Of the Manufactures, Boats, and Navigation of Otaheite.
Of the Division of Time at Otaheite; Numeration, Computation of Distance, Language, Diseases, Disposal of the Dead, Religion, War, Weapons, and Government; with some general Observations for the Use of future Navigators.
Description of the several Islands in the Neighbourhood of Otaheite, with various Incidents; a Dramatic Entertainment; and many Particulars relative to the Customs and Manners of the Inhabitants.
The Passage from Oteroah to New Zealand; Incidents which happened in going ashore there, and while the Ship lay in Poverty Bay.
A Description of Poverty Bay, and the Face of the adjacent Country. The Range from thence to Cape Turnagain, and back to Tolaga, with some Account of the People and the Country and several Incidents that happened on that Part of the Coast.
The Range from Tolaga to Mercury Bay, with an Account of many Incidents that happened both on board and ashore: A Description of several Views exhibited by the Country, and of the Hippahs, or fortified Villages of the Inhabitants.
The Range from Mercury Bay to the Bay of Islands: An Expedition up the River Thames: Some Account of the Indians who inhabit its Banks, and the fine Timber that grows there: Several Interviews with the Natives on different Parts of the Coast, and a Skirmish with them upon an Island.
Range from the Bay of Islands round North Cape to Queen Charlotte's Island; and a Description of that Part of the Coast.
Transactions in Queen Charlotte's Sound; Passage through the Streight which divides the two Islands, and back to Cape Turnagain: Horrid Custom of the Inhabitants: Remarkable Melody of Birds: A Visit to a Hippah, and many other Particulars.
Range from Cape Turnagain along the eastern Coast of Poenammoo, round Cape South, and back to the Entrance of Cook's Streight, which completed the Circumnavigation of the Country; with a Description of the Coast, and of Admiralty Bay: The Departure from New Zealand, and various Particulars.
The Run from New Zealand to Botany Bay, on the East Coast of New Holland, now called New South Wales; various Incidents that happened there; with some Account of the Country end its Inhabitants.
The Range from Botany Bay; with a farther Account of the Country, and its Inhabitants and Productions.
Dangerous Situation of the Ship in her Course from Trinity Bay to Endeavour River.
Transactions while the Ship was refitting in Endeavour River: A Description of the adjacent Country, its Inhabitants and Productions.
Departure from Endeavour River; a particular Description of the Harbour there, in which the Ship was refitted, the adjacent Country, and several Islands near the Coast; the Range from Endeavour River to the Northern Extremity of the Country, and the Dangers of that Navigation.
Departure from New South Wales; a particular Description of the Country, its Products, and People: A Specimen of the Language, and some Observations on the Currents and Tides.
The Passage from New South Wales to New Guinea, with an Account of what happened upon landing there.
The Passage from New Guinea to the Island of Semau, and the Transactions there.
A particular Description of the Island of Savu, its Produce, and Inhabitants, with a Specimen of their Language.
The Run from the Island of Savu to Batavia, and an Account of the Transactions there while the Ship was refitting.
Some Account of Batavia, and the adjacent Country; with the Fruits, flowers, and other Productions.
Some Account of the Inhabitants of Batavia, and the adjacent Country, their Manners, Customs, and Manner of Life.
The Passage from Batavia to the Cape of Good Hope, Some Account of Prince's Island and its Inhabitants. Our Arrival at the Cape of Good Hope. Some Remarks on the Run from Java Head to that Place, and to Saint Helena. The Return of the Ship to England.
An Abstract of the Voyage round the World, performed by Lewis de Bougainville, Colonel of Foot, and Commander of the Expedition, in the Frigate La Boudeuse, and the Storeship L'Etoile, in the Years 1766-7-8, and 9, drawn up expressly for this Work.
A GENERAL HISTORY AND COLLECTION OF VOYAGES AND TRAVELS.
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PART III—BOOK I.
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A particular Description of the Island of Otaheite; its Produce and Inhabitants; their Dress, Habitations, Food, Domestic Life and Amusements.
We found the longitude of Port Royal bay, in this island, as settled by Captain Wallis, who discovered it on the 9th of June, 1767, to be within half a degree of the truth. We found Point Venus, the northern extremity of the island, and the eastern point of the bay, to lie in the longitude of 149 deg.13', this being the mean result of a great number of observations made upon the spot. The island is surrounded by a reef of coral rock, which forms several excellent bays and harbours, some of which have been particularly described, where there is room and depth of water far any number of the largest ships. Port Royal bay, called by the natives Matavai which is not inferior to any in Otaheite, may easily be known, by a very high mountain in the middle of the island, which bears due south from Point Venus. To sail into it; either keep the west point of the reef that lies before Point Venus, close on board, or give it a birth of near half a mile, in order to avoid a small shoal of coral rocks, on which there is but two fathoms and a half of water. The best anchoring is on the eastern side of the bay, where there is sixteen and fourteen fathom upon an oosy bottom. The shore of the bay is a fine sandy beach, behind which runs a river of fresh water, so that any number of ships may water here without incommoding each other; but the only wood for firing, upon the whole island, is that of fruit-trees, which must be purchased of the natives, or all hope of living upon good terms with them given up.
The face of the country, except that part of it which borders upon the sea, is very uneven; it rises in ridges that run up into the middle of the island, and there form mountains, which may be seen at the distance of sixty miles: Between the foot of these ridges and the sea, is a border of low land, surrounding the whole island, except in a few places where the ridges rise directly from the sea: The border of low land is in different parts of different breadths, but no where more than a mile and a half. The soil, except upon the very tops of the ridges, is extremely rich and fertile, watered by a great number of rivulets of excellent water, and covered with fruit-trees of various kinds, some of which are of a stately growth and thick foliage, so as to form, one continued wood; and even the tops of the ridges, though in general they are bare, and burnt up by the sun, are, in some parts, not without their produce.
The low land that lies between the foot of the ridges and the sea, and some of the vallies, are the only parts of the island that are inhabited, and here it is populous; the houses do not form villages or towns, but are ranged along the whole border at the distance of about fifty yards from each other, with little plantations of plantains, the tree which furnishes them with cloth. The whole island, according to Tupia's account, who certainly knew, could furnish six thousand seven hundred and eighty fighting men, from which the number of inhabitants may easily, be computed.
[Footnote 1: It is questionable if the whole existing population of the island amount to the number now mentioned. Such has been the decrease of its interesting but licentious inhabitants since the time of Cook, to which, it is melancholy to be obliged to say, their intercourse with Europeans has most rapidly contributed. The reader is referred, for some information on this point, to the account of Turnbull's voyage, published in 1805. A few particulars as to the appearance of Otaheite, on the authority of subsequent accounts, may be given with satisfaction to the reader. The island, which consists of two peninsulas connected by a low neck or isthmus covered with trees and shrubs but quite uninhabited, presents a mountainous aspect, rising high in the centre, with narrow valleys of romantic but luxuriantly pleasing scenery, and well watered, studding its verdant surface. The lofty and clustering hills of which the greater part of the island is formed, and which, however steep of ascent, or abrupt in termination, are clothed to the very summit with trees of very various colours and sizes, are encircled with a rich border of low land, the proper seat of the inhabitants, who seem to realize, in its fertility and beauty, all that human imagination can conceive requisite for animal enjoyment. The soil of this border, and of the valleys, is a blackish mould; that of the hills is different, changing as you ascend them into variously coloured earth and marl. The beds of the streams and rivers, which swell into torrents during the rainy season, consist of stones and gravel, often of a flinty nature, and often also containing particles of iron. Some basaltic appearances in one of the districts into which the island is divided, and several precipices among the mountains, evidently produced by sudden violence, indicate the volcanic origin of this highly favoured country. There is plenty of good water to be had over all the island. The weather from March till August is usually mild and pleasant. During the rough season, which lasts from December till March, the wind often blows very hard from the west, and is attended with rain.—E.]
The produce of this island is bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, bananas of thirteen sorts, the best we had ever eaten; plantains; a fruit not unlike an apple, which, when ripe, is very pleasant; sweet potatoes, yams, cocoas, a kind of Arum fruit known here by the name of Jambu, and reckoned most delicious; sugar-cane, which the inhabitants eat raw; a root of the salop kind, called by the inhabitants Pea; a plant called Ethee, of which the root only is eaten; a fruit that grows in a pod, like that of a large kidney-bean, which, when it is roasted, eats very much like a chesnut, by the natives called Ahee; a tree called Wharra, called in the East Indies Pandanes, which produces fruit, something like the pine-apple; a shrub called Nono; the Morinda, which also produces fruit; a species of fern, of which the root is eaten, and sometimes the leaves; and a plant called Theve, of which the root also is eaten: But the fruits of the Nono, the fern, and the Theve, are eaten only by the inferior people, and in times of scarcity. All these, which serve the inhabitants for food, the earth produces spontaneously, or with so little culture, that they seem to be exempted from the first general curse, that "man should eat his bread in the sweat of his brow." They have also the Chinese paper mulberry, morus papyrifera, which they call Aouto; a tree resembling the wild fig-tree of the West Indies; another species of fig, which they call Matte; the cordia sebestina orientalis, which they call Etou; a kind of Cyprus grass, which they call Moo; a species of tournefortia, which they call Taheinoo; another of the convolvulus poluce, which they call Eurhe; the solanum centifolium, which they call Ebooa; the calophyllum mophylum, which they call Tamannu; the hibiscus tiliaceus, called Poerou, a frutescent nettle; the urtica argentea, called Erowa; with many other plants which cannot here be particularly mentioned: Those that have been named already will be referred to in the subsequent part of this work.
They have no European fruit, garden stuff, pulse, or legumes, nor grain of any kind.
Of tame animals they have only hogs, dogs, and poultry; neither is there a wild animal in the island, except ducks, pigeons, paroquets, with a few other birds, and rats, there being no other quadruped, nor any serpent. But the sea supplies them with great variety of most excellent fish, to eat which is their chief luxury, and to catch it their principal labour.
[Footnote 2: It was no doubt a work of supererogation in the missionaries, to attempt to augment the stock of animal provision in this island, to which nature had been so bountiful in dispensing her favours. This however they did, but with little success. The natives were too amply furnished with pleasant and wholesome aliment, to undertake the care of cattle, which accordingly either perished from neglect, or were suffered to turn wild in their mountains. The imperfection too of their cookery operations not a little tended to bring beef and mutton into contempt. Instead of dressing them in some of the European methods, they treated them, as they did their dogs and hogs, by the process of burning. The consequence was, the skin became as tough as leather, and the taste very offensive. These were formidable difficulties, to people of such nice sense as the Otaheitans, who were therefore readily induced to revert to their own stock. See account of the missionary voyage, for a good deal of information on the subjects alluded to in this note.—E.]
As to the people, they are of the largest size of Europeans. The men are tall, strong, well-limbed, and finely shaped. The tallest that we saw was a man upon a neighbouring island, called Huaheine, who measured six feet three inches and a half. The women of the superior rank are also in general above our middle stature, but those of the inferior class are rather below it, and some of them are very small. This defect in size probably proceeds from their early commerce with men, the only thing in which they differ from their superiors, that could possibly affect their growth.
Their natural complexion is that kind of clear olive, or brunette, which many people in Europe prefer to the finest white and red. In those that are exposed to the wind and sun, it is considerably deepened, but in others that live under shelter, especially the superior class of women, it continues of its native hue, and the skin is most delicately smooth and soft; they have no tint in their cheeks, which we distinguish by the name of colour. The shape of the face is comely, the cheek-bones are not high, neither are the eyes hollow, nor the brow prominent; The only feature that does not correspond with our ideas of beauty is the nose, which, in general, is somewhat flat; but their eyes, especially those of the women, are full of expression, sometimes sparkling with fire, and sometimes melting with softness; their teeth also are, almost without exception, most beautifully even and white, and their breath perfectly without taint.
[Footnote 3: The missionary account speaks less favourably of the comeliness of these islanders. But this being a matter of taste, will of course be very variously considered. The reader may amuse himself by comparing the following quotation with the text, and forming his own opinion. He will at all events readily admit, that nature has done more for these people than art, and that the predominance of fashion is amongst them, as it is sometimes elsewhere, accomplished at the expence of beauty. "The natural colour of the inhabitants is olive, inclining to copper. Some are very dark, as the fishermen, who are most exposed to the sun and sea; but the women, who carefully clothe themselves, and avoid the sun-beams, are but a shade or two darker than a European brunette. Their eyes are black and sparkling; their teeth white and even; their skin soft and delicate; their limbs finely turned; their hair jetty, perfumed and ornamented with flowers; but we did not think their features beautiful, as by continual pressure from infancy, which they call tourooma, they widen the face with their hands, distend their mouth, and flatten the nose and forehead, which gives them a too masculine look; and they are in general large, and wide over the shoulders; we were therefore disappointed in the judgment, we had formed from the report of preceding visitors; and though here and there was to be seen a living person who might be esteemed comely, we saw few who in fact could be called beauties; yet they possess eminent feminine graces: Their faces are never darkened with a scowl, or covered with a cloud of sullenness or suspicion." This account fully concurs in what follows as to the manners and behaviour of the Otaheitans.—E.]
The hair is almost universally black, and rather coarse; the men have beards, which they wear in many fashions, always, however, plucking out great part of them, and keeping the rest perfectly clean and neat. Both sexes also eradicate every hair from under their arms, and accused us of great uncleanness for not doing the same. In their motions there is at once vigour and ease; their walk is graceful, their deportment liberal, and their behaviour to strangers and to each other affable and courteous. In their dispositions also, they seemed to be brave, open, and candid, without either suspicion or treachery, cruelty, or revenge; so that we placed the same confidence in them as in our best friends, many of us, particularly Mr Banks, sleeping frequently in their houses in the woods, without a companion, and consequently wholly in their power. They were, however, all thieves; and when that is allowed, they need not much fear a competition with the people of any other nation upon earth. During our stay in this island we saw about five or six persons like one that was met by Mr Banks and Dr Solander on the 24th of April, in their walk to the eastward, whose skins were of a dead white, like the nose of a white horse; with white hair, beard, brows, and eyelashes; red, tender eyes; a short sight, and scurfy skins, covered with a kind of white down; but we found that no two of these belonged to the same family, and therefore concluded, that they were not a species, but unhappy individuals, rendered anomalous by disease.
[Footnote 4: In the opinion here expressed the Editor has already acquiesced. He would remark by the bye, that although two or more persons had been of the same family, no sufficient argument could have been adduced, as to the peculiar affection depending on circumstances adequate to constitute a species; for it is very clear that hereditary diseases do not necessarily imply essential distinctions, and there seems no reason to alter the laws of logic in favour of the Albinos.—E.]
It is a custom in most countries where the inhabitants have long hair, for the men to cut it short, and the women to pride themselves in its length. Here, however, the contrary custom prevails; the women always cut it short round their ears, and the men, except the fishers, who are almost continually in the water, suffer it to flow in large waves over their shoulders, or tie it up in a bunch on the top of their heads.
They have a custom also of anointing their heads with what they call _monoe, an oil expressed from the cocoa-nut, in which some sweet herbs or flowers have been infused: As the oil is generally rancid, the smell is at first very disagreeable to a European; and as they live in a hot country, and have no such thing as a comb, they are not able to keep their heads free from lice, which the children and common people sometimes pick out and eat; a hateful custom, wholly different from their manners in every other particular; for they are delicate and cleanly almost without example, and those to whom we distributed combs, soon delivered themselves from vermin, with a diligence which showed that they were not more odious to us than to them.
[Footnote 5: This remark is scarcely consistent with what is related in the missionary account, by which it appears that these vermin are considered by the Otaheitans much in the same light as certain animals were once in our own land, viz. royal property. The passage is too curious to be omitted. It displays a very remarkable instance of that ease and elegance, with which crowned heads can occasionally employ themselves for the good of their subjects. "The mode of carrying the king and queen is with their legs hanging down before, seated on the shoulders and leaning on the head of their carriers, and very frequently amusing themselves with picking out the vermin which there abound. It is the singular privilege of the queen, that of all women, she alone may eat them; which privilege she never fails to make use of." Such hunting excursions are surely much more commendable, because much more innocent in their own nature and more beneficial in their results, than those practised amongst ourselves, at the risque of neck and limbs, and to the still more important detriment of the farmer's gates and fences. The point of privilege, perhaps, is less capable of defence—admitting, however, for a moment, that pre-eminence of station and office entitles the holder to singularity of inclination and conduct, as it is certainly allowed to do in the case of some other sovereigns, the question then becomes a mere matter of taste, and it is ungenerous to deny the Otaheitan queen the benefit of the old maxim, de gustibus non est disputandum.—E.]
They have a custom of staining their bodies, nearly in the same manner as is practised in many other parts of the world, which they call tattowing. They prick the skin, so as just not to fetch blood, with a small instrument, something in the form of a hoe; that part which answers to the blade is made of a bone or shell, scraped very thin, and is from a quarter of an inch to an inch and a half wide; the edge is cut into sharp teeth or points, from the number of three to twenty, according to its size: When this is to be used, they dip the teeth into a mixture of a kind of lamp-black, formed of the smoke that rises from an oily nut which they burn instead of candles, and water; the teeth, thus prepared, are placed upon the skin, and the handle to which they are fastened being struck, by quick smart blows, with a stick fitted to the purpose, they pierce it, and at the same time carry into the puncture the black composition, which leaves an indelible stain. The operation is painful, and it is some days before the wounds are healed. It is performed upon the youth of both sexes when they are about twelve or fourteen years of age, on several parts of the body, and in various figures, according to the fancy of the parent, or perhaps the rank of the party. The women are generally marked with this stain, in the form of a Z, on every joint of their fingers and toes, and frequently round the outside of their feet: The men are also marked with the same figure, and both men and women have squares, circles, crescents, and ill-designed representations of men, birds, or dogs, and various other devices impressed upon their legs and arms, some of which we were told had significations, though we could never learn what they were. But the part on which these ornaments are lavished with the greatest profusion, is the breech: This, in both sexes, is covered with a deep black; above which, arches are drawn one over another as high as the short ribs. They are often a quarter of an inch broad, and the edges are not straight lines, but indented. These arches are their pride, and are shewn both by men and women with a mixture of ostentation and pleasure; whether as an ornament, or a proof of their fortitude and resolution in bearing pain, we could not determine. The face in general is left unmarked; for we saw but one instance to the contrary. Some old men had the greatest part of their bodies covered with large patches of black, deeply indented at the edges, like a rude imitation of flame; but we were told, that they came from a low island, called Noouoora, and were not natives of Otaheite.
Mr Banks saw the operation of tattowing performed upon the backside of a girl about thirteen years old. The instrument used upon this occasion had thirty teeth, and every stroke, of which at least a hundred were made in a minute, drew an ichor or serum a little tinged with blood. The girl bore it with most Stoical resolution for about a quarter of an hour; but the pain of so many hundred punctures as she had received in that time then became intolerable: She first complained in murmurs, then wept, and at last burst into loud lamentations, earnestly imploring the operator to desist. He was, however, inexorable; and when she began to struggle, she was held down by two women, who sometimes soothed and sometimes chid her, and now and then, when she was most unruly, gave her a smart blow. Mr Banks staid in a neighbouring house an hour, and the operation was not over when he went away; yet it was performed but upon one side, the other having been done some time before; and the arches upon the loins, in which they most pride themselves, and which give more pain than all the rest, were still to be done.
It is strange that these people should value themselves upon what is no distinction; for I never saw a native of this island, either man or woman, in a state of maturity, in whom these marks were wanting: Possibly they may have their rise in superstition, especially as they produce no visible advantage, and are not made without great pain; but though we enquired of many hundreds, we could never get any account of the matter.
[Footnote 6: It is very remarkable that something like this tattowing was practised among the Thracians of old, and was actually considered as an indication of nobility. So says Herodotus in Terps. 6. The notion is no way irrational, that early and semi-civilized people had no other way of distinguishing ranks, than by making visible differences on the skin. The original inhabitants of Britain, it is probable, meant the same thing by their use of colouring substances. Though it is probable enough too, that another purpose was also accomplished thereby, viz. preservation in some degree from the inclemency of the climate. By some authors, it has been imagined, that such painting rendered them more terrible to their enemies, which was the reason for the practice. The Indians of North Carolina, according to the curious account of them by Surveyor-General Lawson, Lond. 1714, had still another reason for something similar. Speaking of their use of varnish, pipe-clay, lamp-black, &c. &c. for colouring their bodies before going out to war, he says, "when these creatures are thus painted, they make the most frightful figures that can be imitated by man, and seem more like devils than human creatures. You may be sure that they are about some mischief when you see them thus painted; for in all the hostilities which have ever been acted against the English at any time, in several of the plantations of America, the savages always appeared in this disguise, whereby they might never after be discovered, or known by any of the Christians that should happen to see them after they had made their escape; for it is impossible even to know an Indian under these colours, although he has been at your house a thousand times, and you know him at other times as well as you do any person living."—Mr Bryan Edwards mentions something of the Charaibes like this. "Not satisfied with the workmanship of nature, they called in the assistance of art, to make themselves more formidable. They painted their faces and bodies with arnotto so extravagantly, that their natural complexion, which was really that of a Spanish olive, was not easily to be distinguished under the surface of crimson. However, as this mode of painting themselves was practised by both sexes, perhaps it was at first introduced as a defence against the venomous insects, so common in tropical climates, or possibly they considered the brilliancy of the colour as highly ornamental." These Charaibes had other ways of deforming themselves, some of which resembled what we shall find described in the course of this work. They made deep cuts on their cheeks, and stained them black; and painted white and black circles round their eyes. The tatooing which Mr Barrow speaks of, as practised in part of Africa where he travelled, one should incline to imagine very different from what is in fashion at Otaheite, which, according to our text, affords any other than pleasurable sensations to the person undergoing this operation. The reader may judge for himself, at least so far as idea goes. "A greater degree of amusement (than what their music and dancing yield) seems to be derived by the women from the practice of tatooing, or, marking the body, by raising the epidermis from the cuticle; a custom that has been found to exist among most of the uncivilized nations inhibiting warm countries, and which probably owes its origin to a total want of mental resources, and of the employment of time. By slightly irritating, it conveys to the body pleasurable sensations. In Kafferland it has passed into a general fashion. No woman is without a tatooed skin; and their ingenuity is chiefly exercised between the breast and on the arms." Such a description corresponds with the notion of some frequently renewed beautfyings of the toilet, rather than that of the infliction of deep and indelible marks, as are prescribed in the Otaheitan ritual. Thus we may see here, as in other instances, that different motives give rise to similar practices.—E.]
Their clothing consists of cloth or matting of different kinds, which will be described among their other manufactures. The cloth, which will not bear wetting, they wear in dry weather, and the matting when it rains; they are put on in many different ways, just as their fancy leads them; for in their garments nothing is cut into shape, nor are any two pieces sewed together. The dress of the better sort of women consists of three or four pieces: One piece, about two yards wide, and eleven yards long, they wrap several times round their waist, so as 'to hang down like a petticoat as low as the middle of the leg, and this they call Parou: Two or three other pieces, about two yards and a half long, and one wide, each having a hole cut in the middle, they place one upon another, and then putting the head through the holes, they bring the long ends down before and behind; the others remain open at the sides, and give liberty to the arms: This, which they call the Tebuta, is gathered round the waist, and confined with a girdle or sash of thinner cloth, which is long enough, to go many times round them, and exactly resembles the garment worn by the inhabitants of Peru and Chili, which the Spaniards call Poncho. The dress of the men is the same, except that, instead of suffering the cloth that is wound about the hips to hang down like a petticoat, they bring it between their legs so as to have some resemblance to breeches, and it is then called Maro. This is the dress of all ranks of people, and being universally the same as to form, the gentlemen and ladies distinguish themselves from the lower people by the quantity; some of them will wrap round them several pieces of cloth, eight or ten yards long, and two or three broad; and some throw a large piece loosely over their shoulders, in the manner of a cloke, or perhaps two pieces, if they are very great personages, and are desirous to appear in state. The inferior sort, who have only a small allowance of cloth from the tribes or families to which they belong, are obliged to be more thinly clad. In the heat of the day they appear almost naked, the women having only a scanty petticoat, and the men nothing but the sash that is passed between their legs and fastened round the waist. As finery is always troublesome, and particularly in a hot country, where it consists in putting one covering upon another, the women of rank always uncover themselves as low as the waist in the evening, throwing off all that they wear on the upper part of the body, with the same negligence and ease as our ladies would lay by a cardinal or double handkerchief. And the chiefs, even when they visited us, though they had as much cloth round their middle as would clothe a dozen people, had frequently the rest of the body quite naked.
Upon their legs and feet they wear no covering; but they shade their faces from the sun with little bonnets, either of matting or of cocoa-nut leaves, which they make occasionally in a few minutes. This, however, is not all their head-dress; the women sometimes wear little turbans, and sometimes a dress which they value much more, and which, indeed, is much more becoming, called Tomou; the Tomou consists of human hair, plaited in threads, scarcely thicker than sewing silk. Mr Banks got pieces of it above a mile in length, without a knot. These they wind round the head in such a manner as produces a very pretty effect, and in a very great quantity; for I have seen five or six such pieces wound about the head of one woman: Among these threads they stick flowers of various kinds, particularly the cape-jessamine, of which they have great plenty, as it is always planted near their houses. The men sometimes stick the tail-feather of the Tropic-bird upright in their hair, which, as I have observed before, is often tied in a bunch upon the top of their heads: Sometimes they wear a kind of whimsical garland, made of flowers of various kinds, stuck into a piece of the rind of a plantain; or of scarlet peas, stuck with gum upon a piece of wood: And sometimes they wear a kind of wig, made of the hair of men or dogs, or perhaps of cocoa-nut strings, woven upon one thread, which is tied under their hair, so that these artificial honours of their head may hang down behind. Their personal ornaments, besides flowers, are few; both sexes wear ear-rings, but they are placed only on one side: When we came they consisted of small pieces of shell, stone, berries, red peas, or some small pearls, three in a string; but our beads very soon supplanted them all.
The children go quite naked; the girls till they are three or four years old, and the boys till they are six or seven.
The houses, or rather dwellings of these people, have been occasionally mentioned before: They are all built in the wood, between the sea and the mountains, and no more ground is cleared for each house, than just sufficient to prevent the dropping of the branches from rotting the thatch with which they are covered; from the house, therefore, the inhabitant steps immediately under the shade, which is the most delightful that can be imagined. It consists of groves of bread-fruit and cocoa-nuts, without underwood, which are intersected, in all directions, by the paths that lead from one house to the other. Nothing can be more grateful than this shade in so warm a climate, nor any thing more beautiful than these walks. As there is no underwood, the shade cools without impeding the air; and the houses, having no walls, receive the gale from whatever point it blows. I shall now give a particular description of a house of a middling size, from which, as the structure is universally the same, a perfect idea may be formed both of those that are bigger, and those that are less.
The ground winch it covers is an oblong square, four and twenty feet long, and eleven wide; over this a roof is raised, upon three rows of pillars or posts, parallel to each other, one on each side, and the other in the middle. This roof consists of two flat sides inclining to each other, and terminating in a ridge, exactly like the roofs of our thatched houses in England. The utmost height within is about nine feet, and the eaves on each side reach to within about three feet and a half of the ground: Below this, and through the whole height at each end, it is open, no part of it being enclosed with a wall. The roof is thatched with palm-leaves, and the floor is covered, some inches deep, with soft hay; over this are laid mats, so that the whole is one cushion, upon which they sit in the day, and sleep in the night. In some houses, however, there is one stool, which is wholly appropriated to the master of the family; besides this, they have no furniture, except a few little blocks of wood, the upper side of which is hollowed into a curve, and which serve them for pillows.
The house is indeed principally used as a dormitory; for, except it rains, they eat in the open air, under the shade of the next tree. The clothes that they wear in the day serve them for covering in the night; the floor is the common bed of the whole household, and is not divided by any partition. The master of the house and his wife sleep in the middle, next to them the married people, next to them the unmarried women, and next to them, at a little distance, the unmarried men; the servants, or toutous, as they are called, sleep in the open air, except it rains, and in that case they come just within the shed.
[Footnote 7: If the Otaheitans were little benefited by the attempts of Europeans to rear cattle among them, as we have seen, they were certainly indebted for the introduction of another race of animals, not at all likely to degenerate or die out in a climate so much more congenial to their nature, than the comparatively inclement regions of our hemisphere, where, notwithstanding the activity of hostile hands, they are known to propagate with most vexatious activity. "Their houses," says the missionary account, "are full of fleas, which harbour in the floor, and are very troublesome, though the natives are much less affected by them than we are; they say they were brought to them by the Europeans. One of our missionaries writes, he has been obliged to get up at midnight, and to run into the sea to cool himself, and to get rid of the swarm of disagreeable companions." The poor missionary was worse off among the fleas, than even Mr Barrow in the midst of the musquitoes, from which, it does not seem, that he ever had occasion to seek refuge, in any such untimely ablution.—E.]
There are, however, houses of another kind, belonging to the chiefs, in which there is some degree of privacy. These are much smaller, and so constructed as to be carried about in their canoes from place to place, and set up occasionally, like a tent; they are enclosed on the sides with cocoa-nut leaves, but not so close as to exclude the air, and the chief and his wife sleep in them alone.
There are houses also of a much larger size, not built either for the accommodation of a single chief, or a single family; but as common receptacles for all the people of a district. Some of them are two hundred feet long, thirty broad, and, under the ridge, twenty feet high; these are built and maintained at the common expence of the district, for the accommodation of which they are intended; and have on one side of them a large area, inclosed with low pallisadoes.
These houses, like those of separate families, have no walls. Privacy, indeed, is little wanted among people who have not the idea of indecency, and who gratify every appetite and passion before witnesses, with no more sense of impropriety than we feel when we satisfy our hunger at a social board with our family or friends. Those who have no idea of indecency with respect to actions, can have none with respect to words; it is, therefore, scarcely necessary to observe, that, in the conversation of these people, that which is the principal source of their pleasure, is always the principal topic; and that every thing is mentioned without any restraint or emotion, and in the most direct terms, by both sexes.
[Footnote 8: Let us for once hear the missionary account, in palliation at least, of such clamant enormities. "They have no partitions in their houses; but it may be affirmed, they have in many instances more refined ideas of decency than ourselves; and one long a resident, scruples not to declare, that he never saw any appetite, hunger and thirst excepted, gratified in public. It is too true, that for the sake of gaining our extraordinary curiosities, and to please our brutes, they have appeared immodest in the extreme. Yet they lay the charge wholly at our door, and say, that Englishmen are ashamed of nothing, and that we have led them to public acts of indecency never before practised among themselves. Iron here, more precious than gold, bears down every barrier of restraint. Honesty and modesty yield to the force of temptation." A remark may be made here of some consequence. In estimating the momentum of temptations, we ought to consider not only their direct strength, but also what is known or believed of the extent of their influence on the society to which people belong. A man, it is certain, will much more readily acquiesce in those which he has reason to think common to his fellow creatures, than in others exclusively directed to himself. In the one case he anticipates sympathy, should he transgress; in the other, he is deterred by the apprehension of being singular in guilt. The Otaheitans were in the former predicament, and accordingly were perhaps universally accessible to the charms of nails and hatchets and beads. Whereas, it is probable, that had even similar solicitations been attempted in any instances unknown to each other, they would perhaps have been resisted. But vice once known to be established in society, becomes daily more prolific of its kind, and, like the Fama of Virgil, vires acquirit eundo. It is but fair to give these islanders the full benefit of this principle, when we sit in assize on them. Pray who can tell what would be the consequence of a visit from some of the inhabitants of Saturn, or the Georgium Sidus, should they open up their ultramundane treasures in sight of the British court? Is it conceivable, that the lovers of embroidery, and lace and diamonds would resist the witcheries of the strangers?—or that the marvellous effects of their liberality in distribution, should be confined within the walls of St James's? He that can wisely answer these questions, is at liberty to return a verdict in the trial of the Otaheitans.—E.]
Of the food eaten here the greater part is vegetable. Here are no tame animals except hogs, dogs, and poultry, as I have observed before, and these are by no means plenty. When a chief kills a hog, if is almost equally divided among his dependants; and as they are very numerous, the share of each individual at these feasts, which are not frequent, must necessarily be small. Dogs and fowls fall somewhat more frequently to the share of the common people. I cannot much commend the flavour of their fowls; but we all agreed, that a South Sea dog was little inferior to an English lamb; their excellence is probably owing to their being kept up, and fed wholly upon vegetables. The sea affords them a great variety of fish. The smaller fish, when they catch any, are generally eaten raw, as we eat oysters; and nothing that the sea produces comes amiss to them: They are fond of lobsters, crabs, and other shell-fish, which are found upon the coast; and they will eat not only sea-insects, but what the seamen call blubbers, though some of them are so tough, that they are obliged, to suffer them to become putrid before they can be chewed. Of the many vegetables that have been mentioned already as serving them for food, the principal is the bread-fruit, to procure which costs them no trouble or labour but climbing a tree: The tree which produces it, does not indeed shoot up spontaneously; but if a man plants ten of them in his lifetime, which he may do in about an hour, he will as completely fulfil his duty to his own and future generations, as the natives of our less temperate climate can do by ploughing in the cold of winter, and reaping in the summer's heat, as often as these seasons return; even if, after he has procured bread for his present household, he should convert a surplus into money, and lay it up for his children.
It is true, indeed, that the bread-fruit is not always in season; but cocoa-nuts, bananas, plantains, and a great variety of other fruits, supply the deficiency.
It may well be supposed, that cookery is but little studied by these people as an art; and, indeed, they have but two ways of applying fire to dress their food, broiling and baking; the operation of broiling is so simple that it requires no description, and their baking has been described already, in the account of an entertainment prepared for us by Tupia. Hogs and large fish are extremely well dressed in the same manner; and, in our opinion, were more juicy, and more equally done, than by any art of cookery now practised in Europe. Bread-fruit is also cooked in an oven of the same kind, which renders it soft, and something like a boiled potatoe; not quite so farinaceous as a good one, but more so than those of the middling sort.
Of the-bread-fruit they also make three dishes, by putting either water or the milk of the cocoa-nut to it, then beating it to a paste with a stone pestle, and afterwards mixing it with ripe plantains, bananas, or the sour paste which they call mahie.
The mahie, which has been mentioned as a succedaneum for ripe bread-fruit, before the season for gathering a fresh crop comes on, is thus made:
The fruit is gathered just before it is perfectly ripe, and being laid in heaps, is closely covered with leaves; in this state it undergoes a fermentation, and becomes disagreeably sweet: The core is then taken out entire, which is done by gently pulling the stalk, and the rest of the fruit is thrown into a hole which is dug for that purpose, generally in the houses, and neatly lined in the bottom and sides with grass; the whole is then covered with leaves, and heavy stones laid upon them: In this state it undergoes a second fermentation, and becomes sour, after which it will suffer no change for many months: It is taken out of the hole as it is wanted for use, and being made into balls, it is wrapped up in leaves and baked; after it is dressed, it will keep five or six-weeks. It is eaten both cold and hot, and the natives seldom make a meal without it, though to us the taste was as disagreeable as that of a pickled olive generally is the first time it is eaten.
As the making of this mahie depends, like brewing, upon fermentation, so, like brewing, it sometimes fails, without their being able to ascertain the cause; it is very natural, therefore, that the making it should be connected with superstitious notions and ceremonies: It generally falls to the lot of the old women, who will suffer no creature to touch any thing belonging to it, but those whom they employ as assistants, nor even to go into that part of the house where the operation is carrying on. Mr Banks happened to spoil a large quantity of it only by inadvertently touching a leaf which lay upon it. The old woman, who then presided over these mysteries, told him, that the process would fail; and immediately uncovered the hole in a fit of vexation and despair. Mr Banks regretted the mischief he had done, but was somewhat consoled by the opportunity which it gave him of examining the preparation, which perhaps, but for such an accident, would never have offered.
[Footnote 9: "This paste," we are told in the missionary account, "makes a most nutritious and sweet pudding, and all the children of the family and their relations feast on it eagerly. During this festive season they seldom quit the house, and continue wrapped up in cloth: And it is surprising to see them in a month become so fair and fat, that they can scarcely breathe. The children afterwards grow amazingly. The baked bread-fruit in this state very much in taste resembles gingerbread." This delicate and wholesome provision, it is said, is not confined to the chiefs and wealthier people, as all who will be at the pains to provide an oven, may readily be supplied with bread-fruit from their neighbours. Such is the generosity of these interesting people, that all of a man's own rank are at all times ready to contribute largely to his support, on his making known his need. In how many respects are these islanders worthy of being held up as examples for us!—E.]
Such is their food, to which salt-water is the universal sauce, no meal being eaten without it: Those who live near the sea have it fetched as it is wanted; those who live at some distance keep it in large bamboos, which are set up in their houses for use. Salt-water, however, is not their only sauce; they make another of the kernels of cocoa-nuts, which being fermented till they dissolve into a paste somewhat resembling butter, are beaten up with salt-water. The flavour of this is very strong, and was, when we first tasted it, exceedingly nauseous; a little use, however, reconciled some of our people to it so much, that they preferred it to our own sauces, especially with fish. The natives seemed to consider it as a dainty, and do not use it at their common meals; possibly because they think it ill management to use cocoa-nuts so lavishly, or perhaps when we were at the island, they were scarcely ripe enough for the purpose.
For drink, they have in general nothing but water, or the juice of the cocoa-nut; the art of producing liquors that intoxicate, by fermentation, being happily unknown among them; neither have they any narcotic which they chew, as the natives of some other countries do opium, beetle-root, and tobacco. Some of them drank freely of our liquors, and in a few instances became very drunk; but the persons to whom this happened were so far from desiring to repeat the debauch, that they would never touch any of our liquors afterwards. We were, however, informed, that they became drunk by drinking a juice that is expressed from the leaves of a plant which they call ava ava. This plant was not in season when we were there, so that we saw no instances of its effects; and as they considered drunkenness as a disgrace, they probably would have concealed from us any instances which might have happened during our stay. This vice is almost peculiar to the chiefs, and considerable persons, who vie with each other in drinking the greatest number of draughts, each draught being about a pint. They keep this intoxicating juice with great care from their women.
[Footnote 10: Turnbull speaks of intoxication being quite common and excessive at the feasts of the Otaheitans. And the reader will often hear of the intemperate use and had effects of the ava or yava. The love of this liquor, or its effects rather, must indeed be strong, to reconcile them to the disgusting manner in which it is prepared. "Several women," says the missionary account, "have each a portion given them to chew of the stem and root (of the yava shrub) together, which, when masticated, they spit into a bowl into which some of the leaves of the plant are finely broken; they add water, or cocoa-nut liquor: The whole is then well stirred, and begins quickly to ferment; when it is strained or wrung out in the moo gross, or cocoa-nut fibres, and drank in cups of folded leaves. It is highly intoxicating, and seems for a while to deprive them of the use of their limbs: They lie down and sleep till the effects are passed, and during the time have their limbs chafed with their women's hands. A gill of the yava is a sufficient dose for a man. When they drink it, they always eat something afterwards; and frequently fall asleep with the provisions in their mouths: When drank after a hearty meal, it produces but little effect." The writer forgets his authority, but he remembers to have read of a practice somewhat more economical, though not more delicate, than what is adopted at Otaheite. The people are all passionately fond of the intoxicating beverage prepared from mushrooms; as the common sort cannot procure it at first hand, owing to its price, they are in the habit of attending at the houses of the grandees, where entertainments are going on, provided with vessels for the purpose of collecting the urine of the favoured few who have drunk of it, which they eagerly swallow. The peculiar smell and flavour, it seems, are preserved notwithstanding this percolation, and are considered amply remunerative of the pains and importunity used to obtain it. Such things are strikingly expressive of that worse than brutish perversity which actuates man, when once his lusts have acquired the dominion. It is lamentable to think, that after that conquest over his reason and interest, his degradation in sensuality is in proportion to his ingenuity of invention; and that no dignity of situation, or splendour of office, or brilliancy of talent, can possibly redeem him from the contempt and detestation of those whose good opinion it ought to be his ambition to covet.—E.]
Table they have none; but their apparatus for eating is set out with great neatness, though the articles are too simple and too few to allow any thing for show: And they commonly eat alone; but when a stranger happens to visit them, he sometimes makes a second in their mess. Of the meal of one of their principal people I shall give a particular description.
He sits down under the shade of the next tree, or on the shady side of his house, and a large quantity of leaves, either of the bread-fruit or banana, is neatly spread before him upon the ground as a table-cloth; a basket is then set by him that contains his provision, which, if fish or flesh, is ready dressed, and wrapped up in leaves, and two cocoa-nut shells, one full of salt water, and the other of fresh: His attendants, which are not few, seat themselves round him, and when all is ready, he begins by washing his hands and his mouth thoroughly with the fresh water, and this he repeats almost continually throughout the whole meal; he then takes part of his provision out of the basket, which generally consists of a small fish or two, two or three breadfruits, fourteen or fifteen ripe bananas, or six or seven apples: He first takes half a bread-fruit, peels off the rind, and takes out the core with his nails; of this he puts as much into his mouth as it can hold, and while he chews it, takes the fish out of the leaves, and breaks one of them into the salt water, placing the other, and what remains of the bread-fruit, upon the leaves that have been spread before him. When this is done, he takes up a small piece of the fish that has been broken into the salt water, with all the fingers of one hand, and sucks it into his mouth, so as to get with it as much of the salt water as possible: In the same manner he takes the rest by different morsels, and between each, at least very frequently, takes a small sup of the salt water, either out of the cocoa-nut shell or the palm of his hand: In the mean time one of his attendants has prepared a young cocoa-nut, by peeling off the outer rind with his teeth, an operation which to an European appears very surprising; but it depends so much upon sleight, that many or us were able to do it before we left the island, and some that could scarcely crack a filbert: The master, when he chuses to drink, takes the cocoa-nut thus prepared, and boring a hole through the shell with his finger, or breaking it with a stone, he sucks out the liquor. When he has eaten his bread-fruit and fish, he begins with his plantains, one of which makes but a mouthful, though it be as big as a black-pudding; if instead of plantains he has apples, he never tastes them till they have been pared; to do this a shell is picked up from the ground, where they are always in plenty, and tossed to him by an attendant: He immediately begins to cut or scrape off the rind, but so awkwardly that great part of the fruit is wasted. If, instead of fish, he has flesh, he must have some succedaneum for a knife to divide it; and for this purpose a piece of bamboo is tossed to him, of which he makes the necessary implement by splitting it transversely with his nail. While all this has been doing, some of his attendants have been employed in beating bread-fruit with a stone-pestle upon a block of wood; by being beaten in this manner, and sprinkled from time to time with water, it is reduced to the consistence of a soft paste, and is then put into a vessel somewhat like a butcher's tray, and either made up alone, or mixed with banana or mahie, according to the taste of the master, by pouring water upon it by degrees and squeezing it often through the hand: Under this operation it acquires the consistence of a thick custard, and a large cocoa-nut shell full of it being set before him, he sips it as we should do a jelly if we had no spoon to take it from the glass: The meal is then finished by again washing his hands and his mouth. After which the cocoa-nut shells are cleaned, and every thing that is left is replaced in the basket.
The quantity of food which these people eat at a meal is prodigious: I have seen one man devour two or three fishes as big as a perch; three bread-fruits, each bigger than two fists; fourteen or fifteen plantains or bananas, each of them six or seven inches long, and four or five round; and near a quart of the pounded bread-fruit, which is as substantial as the thickest unbaked custard. This is so extraordinary that I scarcely expect to be believed; and I would not have related it upon my own single testimony, but Mr Banks, Dr Solander, and most of the other gentlemen, have had ocular demonstration of its truth, and know that I mention them upon the occasion.
It is very wonderful, that these people, who are remarkably fond of society, and particularly that of their women, should exclude its pleasures from the table, where among all other nations, whether civil or savage, they have been principally enjoyed. How a meal, which every where else brings families and friends together, came to separate them here, we often enquired, but could never learn. They eat alone, they said, because it was right; but why it was right to eat alone, they never attempted to tell us: Such, however, was the force of habit, that they expressed the strongest dislike, and even disgust, at our eating in society, especially with our women, and of the same victuals. At first, we thought this strange singularity arose from some superstitious opinion; but they constantly affirmed the contrary. We observed also some caprices in the custom, for which we could as little account as for the custom itself. We could never prevail with any of the women to partake of the victuals at our table when we were dining, in company; yet they would go, five or six together, into the servants' apartments, and there eat very heartily of whatever they could find, of which I have before given a particular instance; nor were they in the least disconcerted if we came in while they were doing it. When any of us have been alone with a woman, she has sometimes eaten in our company; but then she has expressed the greatest unwillingness that it should be known, and always extorted the strongest promises of secrecy.
[Footnote 11: This is not true, as the reader will find, if he knows it not already, when he comes to the next note. Dr H. does not seem to have read extensively on the customs of different nations. It is indeed wonderful, that he did not advert to what had long been known of the practices of the East. A single quotation from one author, may be sufficient to prepare the reader for any additional information, on the subject of the public separation of the sexes. "The regulations of the haram," says Dr Russel, speaking of the Moosulmauns, "oppose a strong barrier to curiosity; inveterate custom excludes females from mingling in assemblies of the other sex, and even with their nearest male-relations they appear to be under a restraint from which, perhaps, they are never emancipated, except in familiar society among themselves."—E.]
Among themselves, even two brothers and two sisters have each their separate baskets, with provision and the apparatus of their meal. When they first visited us at our tents, each brought his basket with him; and when we sat down to table, they would go out, sit down upon the ground, at two or three yards distance from each other, and turning their faces different ways, take their repast without interchanging a single word.
The women not only abstain from eating with the men, and of the same victuals, but even have their victuals separately prepared by boys kept for that purpose, who deposit it in a separate shed, and attend them with it at their meals.
But though they would not eat with us or with each other, they have often asked us to eat with them, when we have visited those with whom we were particularly acquainted at their houses; and we have often upon such occasions eaten out of the same basket, and drunk out of the same cup. The elder women, however, always appeared to be offended at this liberty; and if we happened to touch their victuals, or even the basket that contained it, would throw it away.
[Footnote 12: Nothing can be more difficult in the way of philosophical investigation, than to ascertain the origin and reasons of the customs, opinions, and prejudices established among different people. Their variety is quite destructive of any theory which might be built on the well-known general principles of human nature; and their insignificance often derides every process of formal enquiry, which attempts by any thing more recondite than the supposition of whim or caprice, to account for them. The peculiarities of all nations are, perhaps, on a par in this respect, and only escape scrutiny and wonder, because unnoticed by those to whom they are not familiar. But certainly, to the inhabitants of Otaheite, our eating parties, where the sexes at times vie with each other in the management of knife and fork, and where it usually happens that a woman presides, would seem as unaccountable and as indelicate, as a certain social exhibition, already mentioned as occurring amongst them, appeared to be to those who witnessed it. And perhaps it is less easy, than at first sight may be imagined, to justify one more than the other. Of actions equally natural, necessary, and proper, and at the same time equally inoffensive to others, it is exceedingly perplexing to discover good reasons for saying, that some are fitted for public notice more than others. In the cases alluded to, a skilful controversialist might be able to argue, why the Otaheitan practice ought to be esteemed the more rational one. The writer has heard of a person, whose refinement of taste and feeling was such, as made him quite disgusted with any woman who eat in his presence; and perhaps the ladies in general are somewhat apprehensive of their running the risk of being depreciated by the appearance of a good appetite in public, and hence their common practice of taking what is called a luncheon before going to a feast, or social eating-party, and their being pleased with the compliment given in the form of complaint, that they have very poor stomachs! The Otaheitans, however, are by no means singular in dividing the sexes during their repasts. On the contrary, there is ground to think, that in Persia, and indeed throughout almost all the East, it is usual for the women to eat apart from the men. See Harmer's Observations on Scripture, 4th ed. vol. ii. p. 109. Capt. Carver, speaking of the Naudowesses, a tribe of Americans, says, "The men and women feast apart; and each sex invites by turns their companions to partake with them of the food they happen to have." He tells us, however, that in their domestic way of living, the sexes usually associate. Of the female Charaibes, Mr Edwards, quoting Labat, says, that they were not allowed the privilege of eating in presence of their husbands. And Rochon, in his account of Madagascar, tells us something to the same purport of the women of that island. It would be easy to multiply instances of the custom which Hawkesworth thinks to be peculiar to the Otaheitans.—E.]
After meals, and in the heat of the day, the middle-aged people of the better sort generally sleep; they are indeed extremely indolent, and sleeping and eating is almost all that they do. Those that are older are less drowsy, and the boys and girls are kept awake by the natural activity and sprightliness of their age.
Their amusements have occasionally been mentioned in my account of the incidents that happened during our residence in this island, particularly music, dancing, wrestling, and shooting with the bow; they also sometimes vie with each other in throwing a lance. As shooting is not at a mark, but for distance; throwing the lance is not for distance, but at a mark: The weapon is about nine feet long, the mark is the hole of a plantain, and the distance about twenty yards.
Their only musical instruments are flutes and drums; the flutes are made of a hollow bamboo about a foot long, and, as has been observed before, have only two stops, and consequently but four notes, out of which they seem hitherto to have formed but one tune; to these stops they apply the fore-finger of the left hand and the middle-finger of the right.
The drum is made of a hollow block of wood, of a Cylindrical form, solid at one end, and covered at the other with shark's skin: These they beat not with sticks, but their hands; and they know how to tune two drums of different notes into concord. They have also an expedient to bring the flutes that play together into unison, which is to roll up a leaf so as to slip over the end of the shortest, like our sliding tubes for telescopes, which they move up or down till the purpose is answered, of which they seem to judge by their ear with great nicety.
To these instruments they sing; and, as I have observed before, their songs are often extempore: They call every two verses or couplet a song, Pehay; they are generally, though not always, in rhyme; and when pronounced by the natives, we could discover that they were metre. Mr Banks took great pains to write down some of them which were made upon our arrival, as nearly as he could express their sounds by combinations of our letters; but when we read them, not having their accent, we could scarcely make them either metre or rhyme. The reader will easily perceive that they are of very different structure.
Tede pahai de parow-a Ha maru no mina.
E pahah Tayo malama tai ya No Tabane tonatou whannomi ya.
E Turai eattu terara patee whannua toai Ino o maio Pretane to whennuaia no Tute.
Of these verses our knowledge of the language is too imperfect to attempt a translation. They frequently amuse themselves by singing such couplets as these when they are alone, or with their families, especially after it is dark; for though they need no fires, they are not without the comfort of artificial light between sunset and bed-time. Their candles are made of the kernels of a kind of oily nut, which they stick one over another upon a skewer that is thrust through the middle of them; the upper one being lighted, burns down to the second, at the same time consuming that part of the skewer which goes through it; the second taking fire burns in the same manner down to the third, and so of the rest: Some of these candles will burn a considerable time, and they give a very tolerable light. They do not often sit up above an hour after it is dark; but when they have strangers who sleep in the house, they generally keep a light burning all night, possibly as a check upon such of the women as they wish not to honour them with their favours.
[Footnote 13: The reader, in perusing the above account of the Otaheitan evening-recreation, will readily recollect what Mr Park has so affectingly told of the song of the African woman, of which he was made the subject. Harmony, that "sovereign of the willing mind," as Mr Gray denominates it, was both known and worshipped at this island, and that too, by the very same rites which are so generally practised throughout the world—regularity of measures, and the frequent recurrence of similar sounds—
She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat, In loose numbers wildly sweet, Their feather-cinctured chiefs and dusky loves. Her track, where'er the Goddess roves, Glory pursue, and generous shame, The unconquerable mind, and freedom's holy flame.—E.]
Of their itinerary concerts I need add nothing to what has been said already; especially as I shall have occasion, more particularly, to mention them when I relate our adventures upon another island.
In other countries, the girls and unmarried women are supposed to be wholly ignorant of what others upon some occasions may appear to know; and their conduct and conversation are consequently restrained within narrower bounds, and kept at a more remote distance from whatever relates to a connection with the other sex: But here, it is just contrary. Among other diversions, there is a dance, called Timorodee, which is performed by young girls, whenever eight or ten of them can be collected together, consisting of motions and gestures beyond imagination wanton, in the practice of which they are brought up from their earliest childhood, accompanied by words, which, if it were possible, would more explicitly convey the same ideas. In these dances they keep time with an exactness which is scarcely excelled by the best performers upon the stages of Europe. But the practice which is allowed to the virgin, is prohibited to the woman from the moment that she has put these hopeful lessons in practice, and realized the symbols of the dance.
[Footnote 14: If it be considered that in Otaheite women are very early marriageable, and that families are easily reared, one will not find cause for censuring the impolicy, whatever is thought of the immodesty, according to our notions, of the kind of dances here mentioned. It seems reasonable enough, that the girls should be instructed in the only arts requisite to obtain the affections of the other sex. Can it be said, that the system of female education established in our own country, is half so judicious, which prescribes a series of instructions in drawing and music, velvet-painting, &c. to girls who, it is morally certain, will never have the least occasion for them, and who, whatever excellence they attain, totally abandon them on the day they happen to change their names? Or shall we say, these things are like the gestures of the Otaheitan damsels, merely symbols used as snares for the careless beaux, who pretend to taste and fashion, and indicative of the indolence and extravagance which are to succeed the marriage ceremony? The fact is, and it is foolish to attempt concealing it, that women in general have a nature so ductile as to be quite readily fashioned to any model which is conceived agreeable to the other sex, and that they all have sufficient sagacity to practise the arts in demand, till they have accomplished the destiny of their constitution. On the supposition that these arts are equally commensurate to their object, it may well be asked, why some should be condemned and not others—or what authority any people have to reproach the current allurements of another? In the eyes of an impartial spectator, if we can suppose there really is one, all of them must appear alike as to nature and origin, and to differ only in respect of adaptation to the ends in view. He would consider them all as signs, merely more or less expressive, and might be induced to censure most strongly, if he censured at all, the people who, in using them, affected the closest concealment of the purposes intended by them. A philosopher ought never to lose sight of this maxim, that human nature is essentially the same throughout the world, and that all the desires and passions belonging to it have the same origin, and are equally good or bad as to morality; from which it follows, that customs and manners are to be judged of not so much by what is known or imagined of the sources of them, as by what is evident or may be discovered of their effects on society. On this principle, it is strictly demonstrable, that in such a state of things as exists in our own country at present, certain appearances and modes of dress adopted by our women, are actually more injurious, and of course more criminal, than the dancing gestures mentioned in the text. Any lady that can expose her breasts to the gaze of one and all of our public companies, has an undoubted right to be considered as possessing the same feelings and propensities as the lewd girls of Otaheite; but then she is not entitled to censure, however she may envy, their happier exertions and success. She ought to know, that unless our taxes are removed, and the bread-fruit is naturalized among us, it is impossible for her to have so speedy a redemption from the estate of "solitary blessedness;" and that as many of her elder sisters still feel the necessity of practising patience in the same condition, it is very incumbent on her to learn by times a little self-controul. Besides, she ought, in charity to the other sex, to remember, that even the "concealed magic" of her manner, as Mr Hume expresses it, and which he says is easily explained, is abundantly efficacious without further disclosure than common necessity requires.—E.]
It cannot be supposed that, among these people, chastity is held in much estimation. It might be expected that sisters and daughters would be offered to strangers, either as a courtesy, or for reward; and that breaches of conjugal fidelity, even in the wife, should not be otherwise punished than by a few hard words, or perhaps a slight beating, as indeed is the case: But there is a scale in dissolute sensuality, which these people have ascended, wholly unknown to every other nation whose manners have been recorded from the beginning of the world to the present hour, and which no imagination could possibly conceive.
A very considerable number of the principal people of Otaheite, of both sexes, have formed themselves into a society, in which every woman is common to every man; thus securing a perpetual variety as often as their inclination prompts them to seek it, which is so frequent, that the same man and woman seldom cohabit together more than two or three days.
These societies are distinguished by the name of Arreoy; and the members have meetings, at which no other is present, where the men amuse themselves by wrestling, and the women, notwithstanding their occasional connection with different men, dance the Timorodee in all its latitude, as an incitement to desires, which, it is said, are frequently gratified upon the spot. This, however, is comparatively nothing. If any of the women happen to be with child, which in this manner of life happens less frequently than if they were to cohabit only with one man, the poor infant is smothered the moment it is born, that it may be no incumbrance to the father, nor interrupt the mother in the pleasures of her diabolical prostitution. It sometimes indeed happens, that the passion which prompts a woman to enter into this society, is surmounted when she becomes a mother, by that instinctive affection which Nature has given to all creatures for the preservation of their offspring; but even in this case, she is not permitted to spare the life of her infant, except she can find a man who will patronise it as his child: If this can be done, the murder is prevented; but both the man and woman, being deemed by this act to have appropriated each other, are ejected from the community, and forfeit all claim to the privileges and pleasures of the Arreoy for the future; the woman from that time being distinguished by the term Whannownow, "bearer of children," which is here a term of reproach; though none can be more honourable in the estimation of wisdom and humanity, of right reason, and every passion that distinguishes the man from the brute.
It is not fit that a practice so horrid and so strange should be imputed to human beings upon slight evidence, but I have such as abundantly justifies me in the account I have given. The people themselves are so far from concealing their connection with such a society as a disgrace, that they boast of it as a privilege; and both myself and Mr Banks, when particular persons have been pointed out to us as members of the Arreoy, have questioned them about it, and received the account that has been here given from their own lips. They have acknowledged, that they had long been of this accursed society, that they belonged to it at that time, and that several of their children had been put to death.
[Footnote 15: It seems, from Mr Turnbull's account, that these accursed arreoys were rather on the increase,—a circumstance, which, considering that infanticide formed a part, an essential part indeed, of their policy, may well explain the rapidity in the diminution of the people before noticed.—E.]
But I must not conclude my account of the domestic life of these people without mentioning their personal cleanliness. If that which lessens the good of life and increases the evil is vice, surely cleanliness is a virtue: The want of it tends to destroy both beauty and health, and mingles disgust, with our best pleasures. The natives of Otaheite, both men and women, constantly wash their whole bodies in running water three times every day; once as soon as they rise in the morning, once at noon, and again before they sleep at night, whether the sea or river is near them or at a distance. I have already observed, that they wash not only the mouth, but the hands at their meals, almost between every morsel; and their clothes, as well as their persons, are kept without spot or stain; so that in a large company of these people, nothing is suffered but heat, which, perhaps, is more than can be said of the politest assembly in Europe.
[Footnote 16: Here Dr H. seems to have forgotten altogether the substitutes which modern Europeans employ for cleanliness, to render polite assemblies tolerable—musk, bergamot, lavender, &c. &c. articles, which, besides their value in saving the precious time of our fine ladies, who could not easily spare a quarter of an hour a day from their important occupations, for the Otaheitan practice of bathing, are of vast utility to the state, by affording suitable exercise to the talents of the vast tribe of perfumers and beautifiers of every description, who, it is probable, would otherwise become mere drones in the community. But what would these Otaheitans conceive of the health and comfort and appearance and odour of the great mass of British ladies, who, unless banished to a watering place, no more think of being generally washed, than of being curried with a currying-comb, or undergoing the operation of tattowing? The powers of nature are marvellous indeed, which can support their lives for years, under all the fifth and exuviae, accumulated with such idolatrous fondness.—E.]
Of the Manufactures, Boats, and Navigations of Otaheite.
If necessity is the mother of invention, it cannot be supposed to have been much exerted where the liberality of Nature has rendered the diligence of Art almost superfluous; yet there are many instances both of ingenuity and labour among these people, which, considering the want of metal for tools, do honour to both.
Their principal manufacture is their cloth, in the making and dyeing of which I think there are some particulars which may instruct even the artificers of Great Britain, and for that reason my description will be more minute.
Their cloth is of three kinds; and it is made of the bark of three different trees, the Chinese paper mulberry, the bread-fruit tree, and the tree which resembles the wild fig-tree of the West Indies.
The finest and whitest is made of the paper mulberry, Aouta; this is worn chiefly by the principal people, and when it is dyed red takes a better colour. A second sort, inferior in whiteness and softness, is made of the bread-fruit tree, Ooroo, and worn chiefly by the interior people; and a third of the tree that resembles the fig, which is coarse and harsh, and of the colour of the darkest brown paper: This, though it is less pleasing both to the eye and to the touch, is the most valuable, because it resists water, which the other two sorts will not. Of this, which is the most rare as well as the most useful, the greater part is perfumed, and worn by the chiefs as a morning dress.
All these trees are propagated with great care, particularly the mulberry, which covers the largest part of the cultivated land, and is not fit for use after two or three years growth, when it is about six or eight feet high, and somewhat thicker than a man's thumb; its excellence is to be thin, straight, tall, and without branches: The lower leaves, therefore, are carefully plucked off, with their germs, as often as there is any appearance of their producing a branch.
But though the cloth made of these three trees is different, it is all manufactured in the same manner; I shall, therefore, describe the process only in the fine sort, that is made of the mulberry. When the trees are of a proper size, they are drawn up, and stripped of their branches, after which the roots and tops are cut off; the bark of these rods being then slit up longitudinally is easily drawn off, and, when a proper quantity has been procured, it is carried down to some running water, in which it is deposited to soak, and secured from floating away by heavy stones: When it is supposed to be sufficiently softened, the women servants go down to the brook, and stripping themselves, sit down in the water, to separate the inner bark from the green bark on the outside; to do this they place the under side upon a flat smooth board, and with the shell which our dealers call Tyger's tongue, Tellina gargadia, scrape it very carefully, dipping it continually in the water till nothing remains but the fine fibres of the inner coat. Being thus prepared in the afternoon, they are spread out upon plantain leaves in the evening; and in this part of the work there appears to be some difficulty, as the mistress of the family always superintends the doing of it: They are placed in lengths of about eleven or twelve yards, one by the side of another, till they are about a foot broad, and two or three layers are also laid one upon the other: Care is taken that the cloth shall be in all parts of an equal thickness, so that if the bark happens to be thinner in any particular part of one layer than the rest, a piece that is somewhat thicker is picked out to be laid over it in the next. In this state it remains till the morning, when great part of the water which it contained when it was laid out, is either drained off or evaporated, and the several fibres adhere together, so as that the whole may be raised from the ground in one piece.
[Footnote 17: The reader will find additional information on this subject, and on several others here treated, in some of the subsequent accounts; from which, however, it seemed unadvisable to make quotations at present. It is scarcely necessary to add, that the curious art of dyeing, which the Otaheitans seem to practise with no small ingenuity, has been much vestigated on philosophical principles since the date of this publication. Modern chemistry has a right to boast of her acquisitions in so very important a point of domestic science; but it would be invidious and improper to specify them in this place.—E.]
It is then taken away, and laid upon the smooth side of a long piece of wood, prepared for the purpose, and beaten, by the women servants, with instruments about a foot long and three inches thick, made of a hard wood which they call Etoa. The shape of this instrument is not unlike a square razor strop, only that the handle is longer, and each of its four sides or faces is marked, lengthways, with small grooves, or furrows, of different degrees of fineness; those on one side being of a width and depth sufficient to receive a small packthread, and the others finer in a regular gradation, so that the last are not more than equal to sewing silk.
They beat it first with the coarsest side of this mallet, keeping time like our smiths; it spreads very fast under the strokes, chiefly however in the breadth, and the grooves in the mallet mark it with the appearance of threads; it is successively beaten with the other sides, last with the finest, and is then fit for use. Sometimes, however, it is made still thinner, by beating it with the finest side of the mallet, after it has been several times doubled: It is then called Hoboo, and is almost as thin as a muslin; It becomes very white by being bleached in the air, but is made still whiter and softer by being washed and beaten again after it has been worn.
Of this cloth there are several sorts, of different degrees of fineness, in proportion as it is more or less beaten without being doubled: The other cloth also differs in proportion as it is beaten; but they differ from each other in consequence of the different materials of which they are made. The bark of the bread-fruit is not taken till the trees are considerably longer and thicker than those of the fig; the process afterwards is the same.
When cloth is to be washed after it has been worn, it is taken down to the brook, and left to soak, being kept fast to the bottom, as at first, by a stone; it is then gently wrung or squeezed; and sometimes several pieces of it are laid one upon another, and beaten together with the coarsest side of the mallet, and they are then equal in thickness to broad-cloth, and much more soft and agreeable to the touch, after they have been a little while in use, though when they come immediately from the mallet, they feel as if they had been starched. This cloth sometimes breaks in the beating, but is easily repaired by pasting on a patch with a gluten that is prepared from the root of the Pea, which is done so nicely that it cannot be discovered. The women also employ themselves in removing blemishes of every kind, as our ladies do in needle-work or knotting; sometimes when their work is intended to be very fine, they will paste an entire covering of hoboo over the whole. The principal excellencies of this cloth are its coolness and softness; and its imperfections, its being pervious to water like paper, and almost as easily torn.
[Footnote 18: The missionary account tells us, that the noble Women are the principal cloth-makers. Among these people, it seems, that it is far from being thought disgraceful, for the higher orders to engage in domestic concerns and useful manufactures, "nor is it the least disparagement for a chief to be found in the midst of his workmen labouring with his own hands; but it would be reckoned a great disgrace not to shew superior skill." Like the patriarchs of old, and the heroes of Homer, these chiefs assist in the preparation of victuals for the entertainment of their guests.—E.]
The colours with which they dye this cloth are principally red and yellow. The red is exceedingly beautiful, and I may venture to say a brighter and more delicate colour than any we have in Europe; that which approaches nearest is our full scarlet, and the best imitation which Mr Banks's natural history painter could produce, was by a mixture of vermilion and carmine. The yellow is also a bright colour, but we have many as good.
The red colour is produced by the mixture of the juices of two vegetables, neither of which separately has the least tendency to that hue. One is a species of fig called here Matte, and the other the Cordia Sebestina, or Etou; of the fig the fruit is used, and of the Cordia the leaves.
The fruit of the fig is about as big as a rounceval pea, or very small gooseberry; and each of them, upon breaking off the stalk very close, produces one drop of a milky liquor, resembling the juice of our figs, of which the tree is indeed a species. This liquor the women collect into a small quantity of cocoa-nut water: To prepare a gill of cocoa-nut water will require between three and four quarts of these little figs. When a sufficient quantity is prepared, the leaves of the Etou are well wetted in it, and then laid upon a plantain leaf, where they are turned about till they become more and more flaccid, and then they are gently squeezed, gradually increasing the pressure, but so as not to break them; as the flaccidity increases, and they become spungy, they are supplied with more of the liquor; in about five minutes the colour begins to appear upon the veins of the leaves, and in about ten or a little more, they are perfectly saturated with it: They are then squeezed, with as much force as can be applied, and the liquor strained at the same time that it is expressed.
For this purpose, the boys prepare a large quantity of the Moo, by drawing it between their teeth, or two little sticks, till it is freed from the green bark and the branny substance that lies under it, and a thin web of the fibres only remains; in this the leaves of the Etou are enveloped, and through these the juice which they contain is strained as it is forced out. As the leaves are not succulent, little more juice is pressed out of them than they have imbibed: When they have been once emptied, they are filled again, and again pressed, till the quality which tinctures the liquor as it passes through them is exhausted; they are then thrown away; but the moo, being deeply stained with the colour, is preserved, as a brush to lay the dye upon the cloth.
The expressed liquor is always received into small cups made of the plantain leaf, whether from a notion that it has any quality favourable to the colour, or from the facility with which it is procured, and the convenience of small vessels to distribute it among the artificers, I do not know.
Of the thin cloth they seldom dye more than the edges, but the thick cloth is coloured through the whole surface; the liquor is indeed used rather as a pigment than a dye, for a coat of it is laid upon one side only, with the fibres of the moo; and though I have seen of the thin cloth that has appeared to have been soaked in the liquor, the colour has not had the same richness and lustre, as when it has been applied in the other manner.
Though the leaf of the etou is generally used in this process, and probably produces the finest colour, yet the juice of the figs will produce a red by a mixture with the species of tournefortia, which they call taheinno, the pohuc, the eurhe, or convolvulus brasiliensis, and a species of solanum, called ebooa; from the use of these different plants, or from different proportions of the materials, many varieties are observable in the colours of their cloth, some of which are conspicuously superior to others.
The beauty, however, of the best, is not permanent; but it is probable that some method might be found to fix it, if proper experiments were made, and perhaps to search for latent qualities, which may be brought out by the mixture of one vegetable juice with another, would not be an unprofitable employment: Our present most valuable dyes afford sufficient encouragement to the attempt; for, by the mere inspection of indigo, woad, dyer's weed, and most of the leaves which are used for the like purposes, the colours which they yield could never be discovered. Of this Indian red I shall only add, that the women who have been employed in preparing or using it, carefully preserve the colour upon their fingers and nails, where it appears in its utmost beauty, as a great ornament.
The yellow is made of the bark of the root of the morinda citrifolia, called nono, by scraping and infusing it in water; after standing some time, the water is strained and used as a dye, the cloth being dipped into it. The morinda, of which this is a species, seems to be a good subject for examination with a view to dyeing. Brown, in his History of Jamaica, mentions three species of it, which he says are used to dye brown; and Rumphius says of the bancuda angustifolia, which is nearly allied to our nono, that it is used by the inhabitants of the East Indian islands as a fixing drug for red colours, with which it particularly agrees.
The inhabitants of this island also dye yellow with the fruit of the tamanu; but how the colour is extracted, we had no opportunity to discover. They have also a preparation with which they dye brown and black; but these colours are so indifferent, that the method of preparing them did not excite our curiosity.
Another considerable manufacture is matting of various kinds; some of which is finer, and better, in every respect, than any we have in Europe; the coarser sort serves them to sleep upon, and the finer to wear in wet weather. With the fine, of which there are also two sorts, much pains is taken, especially with that made of the bark of the poerou, the hibiscus tiliaceus of Linnaeus, some of which is as fine as a coarse cloth: The other sort, which is still more beautiful, they call vanne; it is white, glossy, and shining, and is made of the leaves of their wharrou, a species of the pandanus, of which we had no opportunity to see either the flowers or fruit: They have other matts, or, as they call them, moeas, to sit or to sleep upon, which are formed of a great variety of rushes and grass, and which they make, as they do every thing else that is plaited, with amazing facility and dispatch.
They are also very dexterous in making basket and wicker-work; their baskets are of a thousand different patterns, many of them exceedingly neat; and the making them is an art that every one practises, both men and women; they make occasional baskets and panniers of the cocoa-nut leaf in a few minutes, and the women who visited us early in a morning used to send, as soon as the sun was high, for a few of the leaves, of which they made little bonnets to shade their faces, at so small an expence of time and trouble, that, when the sun was again low in the evening, they used to throw them away. These bonnets, however, did not cover the head, but consisted only of a band that went round it, and a shade that projected from the forehead.