HISTORY AND COLLECTION
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.
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ROBERT KERR, F.R.S. & F.A.S. EDIN.
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ILLUSTRATED BY MAPS AND CHARTS.
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, EDINBURGH:
AND T. CADELL, LONDON.
CONTENTS OF VOL. XVI.
CHAP. III. Transactions at Otaheite, and the Society Islands; and prosecution of the Voyage to the Coast of North America, 1
I. An Eclipse of the Moon observed. The Island Toobouai discovered. Its Situation, Extent, and Appearance. Intercourse with its Inhabitants. Their Persons, Dresses, and Canoes described. Arrival at Oheitepeha Bay, at Otaheite. Omai's Reception and imprudent Conduct. Account of Spanish Ships twice visiting the Island. Interview with the Chief of this District. The Olla, or God, of Bolabola. A mad Prophet. Arrival in Matavai Bay, 1
II. Interview with Otoo, King of the Island, Imprudent Conduct of Omai. Employments on Shore. European Animals landed. Particulars about a Native who had visited Lima. About Oedidee. A Revolt in Eimeo. War with that Island determined upon, in a Council of Chiefs. A human Sacrifice on that Account. A particular Relation of the Ceremonies at the great Morai, where the Sacrifice was offered. Other barbarous Customs of this People, 16
III. Conference with Towha. Heevas described. Omai and Oedidee give Dinners. Fireworks exhibited. A remarkable Present of Cloth. Manner of preserving the Body of a dead Chief. Another human Sacrifice. Riding on Horseback. Otoo's Attention to supply Provisions, and prevent Thefts. Animals given to him. Etary, and the Deputies of a Chief, have Audiences. A mock Fight of two War Canoes. Naval Strength of these Islands. Manner of conducting a War, 35
IV. The Day of Sailing fixed. Peace made with Eimeo. Debates about it, and Otoo's Conduct blamed. A Solemnity at the Morai on the Occasion, described by Mr King. Observations upon it. Instance of Otoo's Art. Omai's War-Canoe, and Remarks upon his Behaviour. Otoo's Present, and Message to the King of Great Britain. Reflections on our Manner of Traffic, and on the good Treatment we met with at Otaheite. Account of the Expedition of the Spaniards. Their Fictions to depreciate the English. Wishes expressed that no Settlement may be made. Omai's Jealousy of another Traveller, 48
V. Arrival at Eimeo. Two Harbours there, and an Account of them. Visit from Maheine, Chief of the Island. His Person described. A Goat stolen, and sent back with the Thief. Another Goat stolen, and secreted. Measures taken on the Occasion. Expedition cross the Island. Houses and Canoes burnt. The Goat delivered up, and Peace restored. Some Account of the Island, &c. 62
VI. Arrival at Huaheine. Council of the Chiefs. Omai's Offerings, and Speech to the Chiefs. His Establishment in this Island agreed to. A House built, and Garden planted for him. Singularity of his Situation. Measures taken to insure his Safety. Damage done by Cock-roaches on board the Ships. A Thief detected and punished. Fireworks exhibited. Animals left with Omai. His Family. Weapons. Inscription on his House. His Behaviour on the Ships leaving the Island. Summary View of his Conduct and Character. Account of the two New Zealand Youths, 71
VII. Arrival at Ulietea. Astronomical Observations. A Marine deserts, and is delivered up. Intelligence from Omai. Instructions to Captain Clerke. Another Desertion of a Midshipman and a Seaman. Three of the chief Persons of the Island confined on that Account. A Design to seize Captains Cook and Clerke discovered. The two Deserters brought back, and the Prisoners released. The Ships sail. Refreshments received at Ulietea. Present and former State of that Island. Account of its dethroned King, and of the late Regent of Huaheine, 87
VIII. Arrival at Bolabola. Interview with Opoony. Reasons for purchasing Monsieur de Bougainville's Anchor. Departure from the Society Islands. Particulars about Bolabola. History of the Conquest of Otaha and Ulietea. High Reputation of the Bolabola Men. Animals left there and at Ulietea. Plentiful Supply of Provisions, and Manner of salting Pork on Board. Various Reflections relative to Otaheite and the Society Islands. Astronomical and Nautical Observations made there, 99
IX. Accounts of Otaheite still imperfect. The prevailing Winds. Beauty of the Country. Cultivation. Natural Curiosities. The Persons of the Natives. Diseases. General Character. Love of Pleasure. Language. Surgery and Physic. Articles of Food. Effects of drinking Ava. Times and Manner of Eating. Connexions with the Females. Circumcision. System of Religion. Notions about the Soul and a future Life. Various Superstitions. Traditions about the Creation. An historical Legend. Honours paid to the King. Distinction of Ranks. Punishment of Crimes. Peculiarities of the neighbouring Islands. Names of their Gods. Names of Islands they visit. Extent of their Navigation, 10
X. Progress of the Voyage, after leaving the Society Islands. Christmas Island discovered, and Station of the Ships there. Boats sent ashore. Great Success in catching Turtle. An Eclipse of the Sun observed. Distress of two Seamen who had lost their Way. Inscription left in a Bottle. Account of the Island. Its Soil. Trees and Plants. Birds. Its Size. Form. Situation. Anchoring Ground, 139
XI. Some Islands discovered. Account of the Natives of Atooi, who came off to the Ships, and their Behaviour on going on Board. One of them killed. Precautions used to prevent Intercourse with the Females. A Watering-place found. Reception upon landing. Excursion into the Country. A Morai visited and described. Graves of the Chiefs, and of the human Sacrifices, there buried. Another Island, called Oneeheow, visited. Ceremonies performed by the Natives, who go off to the Ships. Reasons for believing that they are Cannibals. A Party sent ashore, who remain two Nights. Account of what passed on landing. The Ships leave the Islands, and proceed to the North, 148
XII. The Situation of the Islands now discovered. Their Names. Called the Sandwich Islands. Atooi described. The Soil. Climate. Vegetable Productions. Birds. Fish. Domestic Animals. Persons of the Inhabitants. Their Disposition. Dress. Ornaments. Habitations. Food. Cookery. Amusements. Manufactures. Working-tools. Knowledge of Iron accounted for. Canoes. Agriculture. Account of one of their Chiefs. Weapons. Customs agreeing with those of Tongataboo and Otaheite. Their Language the same. Extent of this Nation throughout the Pacific Ocean. Reflections on the useful Situation of the Sandwich Islands, 172
XIII. Observations made at the Sandwich Islands, on the Longitude, Variation of the Compass and Tides. Prosecution of the Voyage. Remarks on the Mildness of the Weather, as far as the Latitude 44 deg. North. Paucity of Sea Birds, in the Northern Hemisphere. Small Sea Animals described. Arrival on the Coast of America. Appearance of the Country. Unfavourable Winds and boisterous Weather. Remarks on Martin de Aguilar's River, and Juan de Fuca's pretended Strait. An Inlet discovered, where the Ship's anchor. Behaviour of the Natives, 195
CHAP. IV. Transactions, amongst the Natives of North America; Discoveries along that Coast and the Eastern Extremity of Asia, Northward to Icy Cape; and return Southward to the Sandwich Islands, 207
I. The Ships enter the Sound, and moor in a Harbour. Intercourse with the Natives. Articles brought to barter. Thefts committed. The Observatories erected, and Carpenters set to work. Jealousy of the Inhabitants of the Sound to prevent other Tribes having Intercourse with the Ships. Stormy and rainy Weather. Progress round the Sound. Behaviour of the Natives at their Villages. Their Manner of drying Fish, &c. Remarkable Visit from Strangers, and introductory Ceremonies. A second Visit to one of the Villages. Leave to cut Grass, purchased. The Ships sail. Presents given and received at parting, 207
II. The Name of the Sound, and Directions for Sailing into it. Account of the adjacent Country. Weather. Climate. Trees. Other Vegetable Productions. Quadrupeds, whose Skins were brought for Sale. Sea Animals. Description of a Sea-Otter. Birds. Water Fowl. Fish. Shell-fish, &c. Reptiles. Insects. Stones, &c. Persons of the Inhabitants. Their Colour. Common Dress and Ornaments. Occasional Dresses, and monstrous Decorations of wooden Masks. Their general Dispositions. Songs. Musical Instruments. Their Eagerness to possess Iron and other Metals, 221
III. Manner of Building the Houses in Nootka Sound. Inside of them described. Furniture and Utensils. Wooden Images. Employments of the Men. Of the Women. Food, Animal and Vegetable. Manner of preparing it. Weapons. Manufactures and Mechanic Arts. Carving and Painting. Canoes. Implements for Fishing and Hunting. Iron Tools. Manner of procuring that Metal. Remarks on their Language, and a Specimen of it. Astronomical and Nautical Observations made in Nootka Sound, 239
IV. A Storm, after sailing from Nootka Sound. Resolution springs a Leak. Pretended Strait of Admiral de Fonte passed unexamined. Progress along the Coast of America. Behring's Bay. Kaye's Island. Account of it. The Ships come to an Anchor. Visited by the Natives. Their Behaviour. Fondness for Beads and Iron. Attempt to plunder the Discovery. Resolution's Leak stopped; Progress up the Sound. Messrs Gore and Roberts sent to examine its Extent. Reasons against a Passage to the North through it. The Ships proceed down it to the open Sea 260
V. The Inlet called Prince William's Sound. Its Extent. Persons of the Inhabitants described. Their Dress. Incision of the Under-lip. Various other Ornaments. Their Boats. Weapons. Fishing and hunting Instruments. Utensils. Tools. Uses Iron is applied to. Food. Language, and a Specimen of it. Animals. Birds. Fish. Iron and Beads, whence received, 279
VI. Progress along the Coast. Cape Elizabeth. Cape St Hermogenes. Accounts of Beering's Voyage very defective. Point Banks. Cape Douglas. Cape Bede. Mount St Augustin. Hopes of finding a Passage up an Inlet. The Ships proceed up it. Indubitable Marks of its being a River. Named Cook's River. The Ships return down it. Various Visits from the Natives. Lieutenant King lands, and takes Possession of the Country. His Report. The Resolution runs aground on a Shoal. Reflections on the Discovery of Cook's River. The considerable Tides in it accounted for, 291
VII. Discoveries after leaving Cook's River. Island of St Hermogenes. Cape Whitsunday. Cape Greville. Cape Barnabas. Two-headed Point. Trinity Island. Beering's Foggy Island. A beautiful Bird described. Kodiak and the Schumagin Islands. A Russian Letter brought on Board by a Native. Conjectures about it. Rock Point. Halibut Island. A Volcano Mountain. Providential Escape. Arrival of the Ships at Oonalaschka. Intercourse with the Natives there. Another Russian Letter. Samganoodha Harbour described, 306
VIII. Progress Northward, after leaving Oonalashka. The Islands Oonella and Acootan. Ooneemak. Shallowness of the Water along the Coast. Bristol Bay. Round Island. Calm Point. Cape Newenham. Lieutenant Williamson lands, and his Report. Bristol Bay, and its Extent. The Ships obliged to return on account of Shoals. Natives come off to the Ships. Death of Mr Anderson; his Character; and Island named after him. Point Rodney. Sledge Island, and Remarks on landing there. King's Island. Cape Prince of Wales, the Western Extreme of America. Course Westward. Anchor in a Bay on the Coast of Asia, 323
IX. Behaviour of the Natives, the Tschutski, on seeing the Ships. Interview with some of them. Their Weapons. Persons. Ornaments Clothing. Winter and Summer Habitations. The Ships cross the Strait, to the Coast of America. Progress Northward. Cape Mulgrave. Appearance of Fields of Ice. Situation of Icy Cape, the Sea blocked up with Ice. Sea-horses killed, and used as Provisions. These Animals described. Dimensions of one of them. Cape Lisburne. Fruitless Attempt to get through the Ice at a Distance from the Coast. Observations on the Formation of this Ice. Arrival on the Coast of Asia. Cape North. The Prosecution of the Voyage deferred to the ensuing Year, 338
X. Return from Cape North, along the Coast of Asia. Views of the Country. Burney's Island. Cape Serdze Kamen, the Northern Limit of Beering's Voyage. Pass the East Cape of Asia. Description and Situation of it. Observations on Muller. The Tschutski. Bay of Saint Laurence. Two other Bays, and Habitations of the Natives. Beering's Cape Tschukotskoi. Beering's Position of this Coast accurate. Island of Saint Laurence. Pass to the American Coast. Cape Derby. Bald Head. Cape Denbigh, on a Peninsula. Besborough Island. Wood and Water procured. Visits from the Natives. Their Persons and Habitations. Produce of the Country. Marks that the Peninsula had formerly been surrounded by the Sea. Lieutenant King's Report. Norton Sound. Lunar Observations there. Staehlin's Map proved to be erroneous. Plan of future Operations, 353
XI. Discoveries after leaving Norton Sound. Stuart's Island. Cape Stephens. Point Shallow-Water. Shoals on the American Coast. Clerke's Island. Gore's Island. Pinnacle Island. Arrival at Oonalashka. Intercourse with the Natives and Russian Traders. Charts of the Russian Discoveries, communicated by Mr Ismyloff. Their Errors pointed out. Situation of the Islands visited by the Russians. Account of their Settlement at Oonalashka. Of the Natives of the Island. Their Persons. Dress. Ornaments. Food. Houses and domestic Utensils. Manufactures. Manner of producing Fire. Canoes. Fishing and Hunting Implements. Fishes, and Sea Animals. Sea and Water Fowls, and Land Birds. Land Animals and Vegetables. Manner of burying the Dead. Resemblance of the Natives on this Side of America to the Greenlanders and Esquimaux. Tides. Observations for determining the Longitude of Oonalashka. 369
XII. Departure from Oonalashka, and future Views. The Island Amoghta. Situation of a remarkable Rock. Strait between Oonalashka and Oonella repassed. Progress to the South. Melancholy Accident on board the Discovery. Mowee, one of the Sandwich Islands, discovered. Intercourse with the Natives. Visit from Terreeoboo. Another Island, called Owhyhee, discovered. The Ships ply to Windward to get round it. An Eclipse of the Moon observed. The Crew refuse to drink Sugar-cane Beer. Cordage deficient in Strength. Commendation of the Natives of Owhyhee. The Resolution gets to Windward of the Island. Her Progress down the South-East Coast. Views of the Country, and Visits from the Natives. The Discovery joins. Slow Progress Westward. Karakakooa Bay examined by Mr Bligh. Vast Concourse of the Natives. The Ships anchor in the Bay, 402
CHAP. V. Captain King's Journal of the Transactions on Returning to the Sandwich Islands, 421
I. Description of Karakakooa Bay. Vast Concourse of the Natives. Power of the Chiefs over the Inferior People. Visit from Koah, a Priest and Warrior. The Morai at Kakooa described. Ceremonies at the Landing of Captain Cook. Observatories erected. Powerful Operation of the Taboo. Method of Salting Pork in Tropical Climates. Society of Priests discovered. Their Hospitality and Munificence. Reception of Captain Cook. Artifice of Koah. Arrival of Terreeoboo, King of the Island. Returned by Captain Cook, 421
II. Farther Account of Transactions with the Natives. Their Hospitality. Propensity to Theft. Description of a Boxing Match. Death of one of our Seamen. Behaviour of the Priests at his Funeral. The Wood Work and Images on the Morai purchased. The Natives inquisitive about our Departure. Their Opinion about the Design of our Voyage. Magnificent Presents of Terreeoboo to Captain Cook. The Ships leave the Island. The Resolution damaged in a Gale, and obliged to return, 434
III. Suspicious Behaviour of the Natives, on our Return to Karakakooa Bay. Theft on Board the Discovery, and its Consequences. The Pinnace attacked, and the Crew obliged to quit her. Captain Cook's Observations on the Occasion. Attempt at the Observatory. The Cutter of the Discovery stolen. Measures taken by Captain Cook for its Recovery. Goes on Shore to invite the King on Board. The King being stopped by his Wife and the Chiefs, a Contest arises. News arrives of one of the Chiefs being killed by one of our People. Ferment on this Occasion. One of the Chiefs threatens Captain Cook, and is shot by him. General Attack by the Natives. Death of Captain Cook. Account of the Captain's Services, and a Sketch of his Character, 446
IV. Transactions at Owhyhee subsequent to the Death of Captain Cook. Gallant Behaviour of the Lieutenant of Marines. Dangerous Situation of the Party at the Morai. Bravery of one of the Natives. Consultation respecting future Measures. Demand of the Body of Captain Cook. Evasive and insidious Conduct of Koah and the Chiefs. Insolent Behaviour of the Natives. Promotion of Officers. Arrival of two Priests with Part of the Body. Extraordinary Behaviour of two Boys. Burning of the Village of Kakooa. Unfortunate Destruction of the Dwellings of the Priests. Recovery of the Bones of Captain Cook. Departure from Karakakooa Bay, 460
V. Departure from Karakakooa in Search of a Harbour on the South-East Side of Mowee. Driven to Leeward by the Easterly Winds and Current. Pass the Island of Tahoorowha. Description of the South-West Side of Mowee. Run along the Coasts of Ranai and Morotoi to Woahoo. Description of the North-East Coast of Woahoo. Unsuccessful Attempt to Water. Passage to Atooi. Anchor in Wymoa Bay. Dangerous Situation of the Watering Party on Shore. Civil Dissensions in the Islands. Visit from the contending Chiefs. Anchor off Oneeheow. Final Departure from the Sandwich Islands, 492
VOYAGES AND TRAVELS.
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PART III. BOOK III. (CONTINUED.)
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TRANSACTIONS AT OTAHEITE, AND THE SOCIETY ISLANDS; AND PROSECUTION OF THE VOYAGE TO THE COAST OF NORTH AMERICA.
An Eclipse of the Moon observed.—The Island Toobouai discovered.—Its Situation, Extent, and Appearance.—Intercourse with its Inhabitants.—Their Persons, Dresses, and Canoes described.—Arrival at Oheitepeha Bay, at Otaheite.—Omai's Reception and imprudent Conduct.—Account of Spanish Ships twice visiting the Island.—Interview with the Chief of this District.—The Olla, or God, of Bolabola.—A mad Prophet.—Arrival in Matavai Bay.
Having, as before related, taken our final leave of the Friendly Islands, I now resume my narrative of the voyage. In the evening of the 17th of July, at eight o'clock, the body of Eaoo bore N.E. by N., distant three or four leagues. The wind was now at E., and blew a fresh gale. With it I stood to the S., till half an hour past six o'clock the next morning, when a sudden squall, from the same direction, took our ship aback; and, before the sails could be trimmed on the other tack, the main-sail and the top-gallant sails were much torn.
[Footnote 1: See the conclusion of Sect. IX. Chap. II.]
The wind kept between the S.W. and S.E., on the 19th and 20th, afterward, it veered to the E., N.E., and N. The night between the 20th and 21st, an eclipse of the moon was observed as follows, being then in the latitude of 22 deg. 57-1/2' S.:
Apparent time, A.M. H.M.S.
Beginning, by Mr King, at 0 32 50 Mr Bligh, at 0 33 25 > Mean long. 186 deg. 57-1/2'. Myself, at 0 33 35
End, by Mr King at 1 44 56 Mean long. 186 deg. 28-1/2'. Mr Bligh at 1 44 6 > Time keep. 186 deg. 58-1/2'. Myself, at 1 44 56
The latitude and longitude are those of the ship, at 8^h 56^m a.m., being the time when the sun's altitude was taken for finding the apparent time. At the beginning of the eclipse, the moon was in the zenith, so that it was found most convenient to make use of the sextants, and to make the observations by the reflected image, which was brought down to a convenient altitude. The same was done at the end, except by Mr King, who observed with a night telescope. Although the greatest difference between our several observations is no more than fifty seconds, it, nevertheless, appeared to me that two observers might differ more than double that time, in both the beginning and end. And, though the times are noted to seconds, no such accuracy was pretended to. The odd seconds set down above, arose by reducing the time, as given by the watch, to apparent time.
I continued to stretch to the E.S.E., with the wind at N.E. and N., without meeting with any thing worthy of note, till seven o'clock in the evening of the 29th, when we had a sudden and very heavy squall of wind from the N. At this time we were under single reefed topsails, courses, and stay-sails. Two of the latter were blown to pieces, and it was with difficulty that we saved the other sails. After this squall, we observed several lights moving about on board the Discovery, by which we concluded, that something had given way; and, the next morning, we saw that her main-top-mast had been lost. Both wind and weather continued very unsettled till noon, this day, when the latter cleared up, and the former settled in the N.W. quarter. At this time, we were in the latitude of 28 deg. 6' S., and our longitude was 198 deg. 23' E. Here we saw some pintado birds, being the first since we left the land.
On the 31st, at noon, Captain Clerke made a signal to speak with me. By the return of the boat which I sent on board his ship, he informed me, that the head of the main-mast had been just discovered to be sprung, in such a manner as to render the rigging of another top-mast very dangerous; and that, therefore, he must rig something lighter in its place. He also informed me, that he had lost his main-top-gallant-yard, and that he neither had another, nor a spar to make one, on board. The Resolution's sprit-sail top-sail yard which I sent him, supplied this want. The next day, he got up a jury top-mast, on which he set a mizen-top-sail, and this enabled him to keep way with the Resolution.
The wind was fixed in the western board, that is, from the N., round by the W. to S., and I steered E.N.E. and N.E., without meeting with anything remarkable, till eleven o'clock in the morning of the 8th of August, when land was seen, bearing N.N.E., nine or ten leagues distant. At first, it appeared in detached hills, like so many separate islands; but, as we drew nearer, we found that they were all connected, and belonged to one and the same island. I steered directly for it, with a fine gale at S.E. by S.; and at half-past six o'clock in the afternoon, it extended from N. by E., to N.N.E. 3/4 E., distant three or four leagues.
The night was spent standing off and on; and at day-break the next morning, I steered for the N.W., or lee-side of the island; and as we stood round its S. or S.W. part, we saw it every where guarded by a reef of coral rock, extending, in some places, a full mile from the land, and a high surf breaking upon it. Some thought that they saw land to the southward of this island; but, as that was to the windward, it was left undetermined. As we drew near, we saw people on different parts of the coast, walking, or running along the shore, and in a little time after we had reached the lee-side of the island, we saw them launch two canoes, into which above a dozen men got, and paddled toward us.
I now shortened sail, as well to give these canoes time to come up with us, as to sound for anchorage. At the distance of about half a mile from the reef, we found from forty to thirty-five fathoms water, over a bottom of fine sand. Nearer in, the bottom was strewed with coral rocks. The canoes having advanced to about the distance of a pistol-shot from the ship, there stopped. Omai was employed, as he usually had been on such occasions, to use all his eloquence to prevail upon the men in them to come nearer; but no entreaties could induce them to trust themselves within our reach. They kept eagerly pointing to the shore with their paddles, and calling to us to go thither; and several of their countrymen who stood upon the beach held up something white, which we considered also as an invitation to land. We could very well have done this, as there was good anchorage without the reef, and a break or opening in it, from whence the canoes had come out, which had no surf upon it, and where, if there was not water for the ships, there was more than sufficient for the boats. But I did not think proper to risk losing the advantage of a fair wind, for the sake of examining an island that appeared to be of little consequence. We stood in no need of refreshments, if I had been sure of meeting with them there; and having already been so unexpectedly delayed in my progress to the Society Islands, I was desirous of avoiding every possibility of farther retardment. For this reason, after making several unsuccessful attempts to induce these people to come alongside, I made sail to the N., and left them, but not without getting from them, during their vicinity to our ship, the name of their island, which they called Toobouai.
It is situated in the latitude of 23 deg. 25' S., and in 210 37' E. longitude. Its greatest extent, in any direction, exclusive of the reef, is not above five or six miles. On the N.W. side, the reef appears in detached pieces, between which the sea seems to break upon the shore. Small as the island is, there are hills in it of a considerable elevation. At the foot of the hills, is a narrow border of flat land, running quite round it, edged with a white sand beach. The hills are covered with grass, or some other herbage, except a few steep rocky cliffs at one part, with patches of trees interspersed to their summits. But the plantations are more numerous in some of the vallies, and the flat border is quite covered with high, strong trees, whose different kinds we could not discern, except some cocoa-palms, and a few of the etoa. According to the information of the men in the canoes, their island is stocked with hogs and fowls, and produces the several fruits and roots that are found at the other islands in this part of the Pacific Ocean.
We had an opportunity, from the conversation we had with those who came off to us, of satisfying ourselves, that the inhabitants of Toobouai speak the Otaheite language, a circumstance that indubitably proves them to be of the same nation. Those of them whom we saw in the canoes were a stout copper-coloured people, with straight black hair, which some of them wore tied in a bunch on the crown of the head, and others flowing about the shoulders. Their faces were somewhat round and full, but the features, upon the whole, rather flat, and their countenances seemed to express some degree of natural ferocity. They had no covering but a piece of narrow stuff wrapped about the waist, and made to pass between the thighs, to cover the adjoining parts; but some of those whom we saw upon the beach, where about a hundred persons had assembled, were entirely clothed with a kind of white garment. We could observe, that some of our visitors in the canoes wore pearl shells hang about the neck as an ornament. One of them kept blowing a large conch-shell, to which a reed near two feet long was fixed; at first, with a continued tone of the same kind, but he afterward converted it into a kind of musical instrument, perpetually repeating two or three notes, with the same strength. What the blowing the conch portended, I cannot say, but I never found it the messenger of peace.
Their canoes appeared to be about thirty feet long, and two feet above the surface of the water, as they floated. The fore part projected a little, and had a notch cut across, as if intended to represent the mouth of some animal. The after part rose, with a gentle curve, to the height of two or three feet, turning gradually smaller, and, as well as the upper part of the sides, was carved all over. The rest of the sides, which were perpendicular, were curiously incrustated with flat white shells, disposed nearly in concentric semicircles, with the curve upward. One of the canoes carried seven, and the other eight men, and they were managed with small paddles, whose blades were nearly round. Each of them had a pretty long outrigger; and they sometimes paddled, with the two opposite sides together so close, that they seemed to be one boat with two outriggers, the rowers turning their faces occasionally to the stern, and pulling that way, without paddling the canoes round. When they saw us determined to leave them, they stood up in their canoes, and repeated something very loudly in concert, but we could not tell whether this was meant as a mark of their friendship or enmity. It is certain, however, that they had no weapons with them, nor could we perceive with our glasses that those on shore had any.
[Footnote 2: This is the island on which Fletcher Christian, chief mutineer of the Bounty, attempted to form a settlement in 1789, as we shall have occasion to notice when treating of another voyage.—E.]
After leaving this island, from the discovery of which future navigators may possibly derive some advantage, I steered to the N. with a fresh gale at E. by S., and, at day-break in the morning of the 12th, we saw the island of Maitea. Soon after, Otaheite made its appearance; and at noon, it extended from S.W. by W. to W.N.W.; the point of Oheitepeha bay bearing W., about four leagues distant. I steered for this bay, intending to anchor there, in order to draw what refreshments I could from the S.E. part of the island, before I went down to Matavai, from the neighbourhood of which station I expected my principal supply. We had a fresh gale easterly, till two o'clock in the afternoon, when, being about a league from the bay, the wind suddenly died away, and was succeeded by baffling light airs from every direction, and calms by turns. This lasted about two hours. Then we had sudden squalls, with rain, from the E. These carried us before the bay, where we got a breeze from the land, and attempted in vain to work in to gain the anchoring-place. So that at last about nine o'clock, we were obliged to stand out, and to spend the night at sea.
When we first drew near the island, several canoes came off to the ship, each conducted by two or three men; but, as they were common fellows, Omai took no particular notice of them, nor they of him. They did not even seem to perceive that he was one of their countrymen, although they conversed with him for some time. At length, a chief whom I had known before, named Ootee, and Omai's brother-in-law, who chanced to be now at this corner of the island, and three or four more persons, all of whom knew Omai before he embarked with Captain Furneaux, came on board. Yet there was nothing either tender or striking in their meeting. On the contrary, there seemed to be a perfect indifference on both sides, till Omai, having taken his brother down into the cabin, opened the drawer where he kept his red feathers, and gave him a few. This being presently known amongst the rest of the natives upon deck, the face of affairs was entirely turned, and Ootee, who would hardly speak to Omai before, now begged that they might be tayos (friends), and exchange names. Omai accepted of the honour, and confirmed it with a present of red feathers, and Ootee, by way of return, sent ashore for a hog. But it was evident to every one of us, that it was not the man, but his property, they were in love with. Had he not shewn to them his treasure of red feathers, which is the commodity in greatest estimation at the island, I question much whether they would have bestowed even a cocoa-nut upon him. Such was Omai's first reception amongst his countrymen. I own, I never expected it would be otherwise; but still I was in hopes that the valuable cargo of presents with which the liberality of his friends in England had loaded him, would be the means of raising him into consequence, and of making him respected, and even courted by the first persons throughout the extent of the Society Islands. This could not but have happened, had he conducted himself with any degree of prudence; but, instead of it, I am sorry to say that he paid too little regard to the repeated advice of those who wished him well, and suffered himself to be duped by every designing knave. From the natives who came off to us, in the course of this day, we learnt that two ships had twice been in Oheitepeha Bay, since my last visit to this island in 1774, and that they had left animals there such as we had on board. But, on farther enquiry, we found they were only hogs, dogs, goats, one bull, and the male of some other animal, which, from the imperfect description now given us, we could not find out. They told us that these ships had come from a place called Reema, by which we guessed that Lima, the capital of Peru, was meant, and that these late visitors were Spaniards. We were informed that the first time they came, they built a house, and left four men behind them, viz. two priests, a boy or servant, and a fourth person called Mateema, who was much spoken of at this time, carrying away with them, when they sailed, four of the natives; that, in about ten months, the same two ships returned, bringing back two of the islanders, the other two having died at Lima, and that, after a short stay, they took away their own people; but that the house which they had built was left standing.
The important news of red feathers being on board our ships, having been conveyed on shore by Omai's friends, day had no sooner begun to break, next morning, than we were surrounded by a multitude of canoes, crowded with people, bringing hogs and fruits to market. At first, a quantity of feathers, not greater than what might be got from a tom-tit, would purchase a hog of forty or fifty pounds weight. But, as almost every body in the ships was possessed of some of this precious article of trade, it fell in its value above five hundred per cent. before night. However, even then, the balance was much in our favour, and red feathers continued to preserve their superiority over every other commodity. Some of the natives would not part with a hog, unless they received an axe in exchange; but nails and beads, and other trinkets, which, during our former voyages, had so great a run at this island, were now so much despised, that few would deign so much as to look at them.
There being but little wind all the morning, it was nine o'clock before we could get to an anchor in the bay, where we moored with the two bowers. Soon after we had anchored, Omai's sister came on board to see him. I was happy to observe, that, much to the honour of them both, their meeting was marked with expressions of the tenderest affection, easier to be conceived than to be described.
This moving scene having closed, and the ship being properly moored, Omai and I went ashore. My first object was to pay a visit to a man whom my friend represented as a very extraordinary personage indeed, for he said that he was the god of Bolabola. We found him seated under one of those small awnings which they usually carry in their larger canoes. He was an elderly man, and had lost the use of his limbs, so that he was carried from place to place upon a hand-barrow. Some called him Olla, or Orra, which is the name of the god of Bolabola, but his own proper name was Etary. From Omai's account of this person, I expected to have seen some religious adoration paid to him. But, excepting some young plantain trees that lay before him, and upon the awning under which he sat, I could observe nothing by which he might be distinguished from their other chiefs. Omai presented to him a tuft of red feathers, tied to the end of a small stick; but, after a little conversation on indifferent matters with this Bolabola man, his attention was drawn to an old woman, the sister of his mother. She was already at his feet, and had bedewed them plentifully with tears of joy.
I left him with the old lady, in the midst of a number of people who had gathered round him, and went to take a view of the house said to be built by the strangers who had lately been here. I found it standing at a small distance from the beach. The wooden materials of which it was composed seemed to have been brought hither, ready prepared, to be set up occasionally; for all the planks were numbered. It was divided into two small rooms; and in the inner one were a bedstead, a table, a bench, some old hats, and other trifles, of which the natives seemed to be very careful, as also of the house itself, which had suffered no hurt from the weather, a shed having been built over it. There were scuttles all around, which served as air holes; and, perhaps, they were also meant to fire from with muskets, if ever this should have been found necessary. At a little distance from the front stood a wooden cross, on the transverse part of which was cut the following inscription:
And on the perpendicular part (which confirmed our conjecture that the two ships were Spanish),
Carolus III. imperat. 1774.
On the other side of the post I preserved the memory of the prior visits of the English, by inscribing,
Georgius Tertius Rex, Annis 1767, 1769, 1773, 1774, & 1777.
The natives pointed out to us, near the foot of the cross, the grave of the commodore of the two ships, who had died here while they lay in the bay the first time. His name, as they pronounced it, was Oreede. Whatever the intentions of the Spaniards in visiting this island might be, they seemed to have taken great pains to ingratiate themselves with the inhabitants, who, upon every occasion, mentioned them with the strongest expressions of esteem, and veneration.
I met with no chief of any considerable note on this occasion, excepting the extraordinary personage above described. Waheiadooa, the sovereign of Tiaraboo (as this part of the island is called), was now absent; and I afterward found that he was not the same person, though of the same name with the chief whom I had seen here during my last voyage; but his brother, a boy of about ten years of age, who had succeeded upon the death of the elder Waheiadooa, about twenty months before our arrival. We also learned that the celebrated Oberea was dead; but that Otoo and all our other friends were living.
When I returned from viewing the house and cross erected by the Spaniards, I found Omai holding forth to a large company; and it was with some difficulty that he could be got away to accompany me on board, where I had an important affair to settle.
As I knew that Otaheite, and the neighbouring islands, could furnish us with a plentiful supply of cocoa-nuts, the liquor of which is an excellent succedaneum for any artificial beverage, I was desirous of prevailing upon my people to consent to be abridged, during our stay here, of their stated allowance of spirits to mix with water. But as this stoppage of a favourite article, without assigning some reason, might have occasioned a general murmur, I thought it most prudent to assemble the ship's company, and to make known to them the intent of the voyage, and the extent of our future operations. To induce them to undertake which with cheerfulness and perseverance, I took notice of the rewards offered by parliament to such of his majesty's subjects as shall first discover a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in any direction whatever, in the northern hemisphere; and also to such as shall first penetrate beyond the 39th degree of northern latitude. I made no doubt, I told them, that I should find them willing to co-operate with me in attempting, as far as might be possible, to become entitled to one or both these rewards; but that, to give us the best chance of succeeding, it would be necessary to observe the utmost economy in the expenditure of our stores and provisions, particularly the latter, as there was no probability of getting a supply any where, after leaving these islands. I strengthened my argument by reminding them that our voyage must last at least a year longer than had been originally supposed, by our having already lost the opportunity of getting to the north this summer. I begged them to consider the various obstructions and difficulties we might still meet with, and the aggravated hardships they would labour under, if it should be found necessary to put them to short allowance of any species of provisions, in a cold climate. For these very substantial reasons, I submitted to them whether it would not be better to be prudent in time, and rather than to run the risk of having no spirits left, when such a cordial would be most wanted, to consent to be without their grog now, when we had so excellent a liquor as that of cocoa-nuts to substitute in its place; but that, after all, I left the determination entirely to their own choice.
I had the satisfaction to find that this proposal did not remain a single moment under consideration; being unanimously approved of immediately, without any objection. I ordered Captain Clerk to make the same proposal to his people, which they also agreed to. Accordingly we stopped serving grog, except on Saturday nights, when the companies of both ships had full allowance of it, that they might drink the healths of their female friends in England, lest these, amongst the pretty girls of Otaheite, should be wholly forgotten.
[Footnote 3: If it is to be judged of by its effects, certainly the most suitable test of excellence, we must allow that in this particular instance, Captain Cook displayed true eloquence. The merit, indeed, is not inconsiderable, of inducing so great a sacrifice as his crew now made; and, on the other hand, due commendation ought to be allowed to their docility. This incident altogether is exceedingly striking, and might, one should think, be very advantageously studied by all who are in authority over vulgar minds.—E.]
The next day, we began some necessary operations; to inspect the provisions that were in the main and fore-hold; to get the casks of beef and pork, and the coals out of the ground tier, and to put some ballast in their place. The caulkers were set to work to caulk the ship, which she stood in great need of, having at times made much water on our passage from the Friendly Islands. I also put on shore the bull, cows, horses, and sheep, and appointed two men to look after them while grazing; for I did not intend to leave any of them at this part of the island.
During the two following days, it hardly ever ceased raining. The natives, nevertheless, came to us from every quarter, the news of our arrival having rapidly spread. Waheiadooa, though at a distance, had been informed of it; and, in the afternoon of the 16th, a chief, named Etorea, under whose tutorage he was, brought me two hogs as a present from him, and acquainted me that he himself would be with us the day after. And so it proved; for I received a message from him the next morning, notifying his arrival, and desiring I would go ashore to meet him. Accordingly, Omai and I prepared to pay him a formal visit. On this occasion, Omai, assisted by some of his friends, dressed himself, not after the English fashion, nor that of Otaheite, nor that of Tongataboo, nor in the dress of any country upon earth, but in a strange medley of all that he was possessed of.
Thus equipped, on our landing, we first visited Etary, who, carried on a hand-barrow, attended us to a large house, where he was set down, and we seated ourselves on each side of him. I caused a piece of Tongataboo cloth to be spread out before us, on which I laid the presents I intended to make. Presently the young chief came, attended by his mother, and several principal men, who all seated themselves at the other end of the cloth, facing us. Then a man, who sat by me, made a speech, consisting of short and separate sentences, part of which was dictated by those about him. He was answered by one from the opposite side, near the chief. Etary spoke next, then Omai, and both of them were answered from the same quarter. These orations were entirely about my arrival, and connexions with them. The person who spoke last told me, among other things, that the men of Reema, that is, the Spaniards, had desired them not to suffer me to come into Oheitepeha Bay, if I should return any more to the island, for that it belonged to them; but that they were so far from paying any regard to this request, that he was authorised now to make a formal surrender of the province of Tiaraboo to me, and of every thing in it; which marks very plainly that these people are no strangers to the policy of accommodating themselves to present circumstances. At length, the young chief was directed by his attendants to come and embrace me, and, by way of confirming this treaty of friendship, we exchanged names. The ceremony being closed, he and his friends accompanied me on board to dinner.
Omai had prepared a maro, composed of red and yellow feathers, which he intended for Otoo, the king of the whole island; and, considering where we were, it was a present of very great value. I said all that I could to persuade him not to produce it now, wishing him to keep it on board till an opportunity should offer of presenting it to Otoo with his own hands. But he had too good an opinion of the honesty and fidelity of his countrymen to take my advice. Nothing would serve him but to carry it ashore on this occasion, and to give it to Waheiadooa, to be by him forwarded to Otoo, in order to its being added to the royal maro. He thought by this management that he should oblige both chiefs; whereas he highly disobliged the one, whose favour was of the most consequence to him, without gaining any reward from the other. What I had foreseen happened, for Waheiadooa kept the maro for himself, and only sent to Otoo a very small piece of feathers, not the twentieth part of what belonged to the magnificent present.
On the 19th, this young chief made me a present of ten or a dozen hogs, a quantity of fruit, and some cloth. In the evening, we played off some fire-works, which both astonished and entertained the numerous spectators.
This day, some of our gentlemen in their walks found what they were pleased to call a Roman Catholic chapel. Indeed, from their account, this was not to be doubted, for they described the altar, and every other constituent part of such a place of worship. However, as they mentioned, at the same time, that two men who had the care of it, would not suffer them to go in, I thought that they might be mistaken, and had the curiosity to pay a visit to it myself. The supposed chapel proved to be a toopapaoo, in which the remains of the late Waheiadooa lay, as it were, in state. It was in a pretty large house, which was inclosed with a low pallisade. The toopapaoo was uncommonly neat, and resembled one of those little houses or awnings belonging to their large canoes. Perhaps it had originally been employed for that purpose. It was covered and hung round with cloth and mats of different colours, so as to have a pretty effect. There was one piece of scarlet broad-cloth, four or five yards in length, conspicuous among the other ornaments, which, no doubt, had been a present from the Spaniards. This cloth, and a few tassels of feathers, which our gentlemen supposed to be silk, suggested to them the idea of a chapel, for, whatever else was wanting to create a resemblance, their imagination supplied; and, if they had not previously known that there had been Spaniards lately here, they could not possibly have made the mistake. Small offerings of fruit and roots seemed to be daily made at this shrine, as some pieces were quite fresh. These were deposited upon a whatta, or altar, which stood without the pallisades; and within these we were not permitted to enter. Two men constantly attended night and day, not only to watch over the place, but also to dress and undress the toopapaoo. For when I first went to survey it, the cloth and its appendages were all rolled up; but, at my request, the two attendants hung it out in order, first dressing themselves in clean white robes. They told me that the chief had been dead twenty months.
Having taken in a fresh supply of water, and finished all our other necessary operations, on the 22d, I brought off the cattle and sheep which had been put on shore here to graze, and made ready for sea.
In the morning of the 23d, while the ships were unmooring, Omai and I landed to take leave of the young chief. While we were with him, one of those enthusiastic persons whom they call Eatooas, from a persuasion that they are possessed with the spirit of the divinity, came and stood before us. He had all the appearance of a man not in his right senses; and his only dress was a large quantity of plantain leaves, wrapped round his waist. He spoke in a low squeaking voice, so as hardly to be understood, at least not by me. But Omai said that he comprehended him perfectly, and that he was advising Waheiadooa not to go with me to Matavai; an expedition which I had never heard that he intended, nor had I ever made such a proposal to him. The Eatooa also foretold that the ships would not get to Matavai that day. But in this he was mistaken; though appearances now rather favoured his prediction, there not being a breath of wind in any direction. While he was prophesying, there fell a very heavy shower of rain, which made every one run for shelter but himself, who seemed not to regard it. He remained squeaking by us about half an hour, and then retired. No one paid any attention to what he uttered, though some laughed at him. I asked the chief what he was, whether an Earee, or a Toutou? and the answer I received was, that he was taata eno; that is, a bad man. And yet, notwithstanding this, and the little notice any of the natives seemed to take of the mad prophet, superstition has so far got the better of their reason, that they firmly believe such persons to be possessed with the spirit of the Eatooa. Omai seemed to be very well instructed about them. He said that, during the fits that come upon them, they know nobody, not even their most intimate acquaintances; and that, if any one of them happens to be a man of property, he will very often give away every moveable he is possessed of, if his friends do not put them out of his reach; and, when he recovers, will enquire what had become of those very things which he had but just before distributed, not seeming to have the least remembrance of what he had done while the fit was upon him.
[Footnote 4: What is the origin of that singular notion which is found amongst the lower orders in most countries, that divine inspiration is often consequent on temporary or continued derangement? Surely it cannot be derived from any correct opinions respecting the Author of truth and knowledge. We must ascribe it, then, to ignorance, and some feeling of dread as to his power; or rather perhaps, we ought to consider it as the hasty offspring of surprise, on the occasional display of reason, even in a common degree, where the faculties are understood to be disordered. Still it is singular, that the observers should have recourse for explanation to so injurious and so improbable a supposition, as that of supernatural agency. What has often, been said of sol-lunar and astral influence on the human mind, the opinion of which is pretty widely spread over the world, may be interpreted so as perfectly to agree with the theoretical solution of the question now proposed, the heavenly bodies being amongst the first and the most generally established objects of religious apprehension and worship. It is curious enough, that what may be called the converse of the proposition, viz. that derangement follows or is accompanied with inspiration, whether religious or common, should almost as extensively have formed a part of the popular creed. The reason of this notion again, is not altogether the same as that of the former; it has its origin probably in the observation, that enthusiasm with respect to any one subject, which, in the present case, is to be regarded as the appearance or expression of inspiration, usually unfits a person for the requisite attention to any other. The language of mankind accordingly quite falls in with this observation, and nothing is more general than to speak of a man being mad, who exhibits a more than ordinary ardour in the pursuit of some isolated object. Still, however, there seems a tacit acknowledgement amongst mankind, that the human mind can profitably attend to only one thing at a time, and that all excellence in any pursuit is the result of restricted unintermitting application: And hence it is, that enthusiasm, though perhaps admitted to be allied to one of the highest evils with which our nature can be visited, is nevertheless imagined to be an indication of superior strength of intellect. The weakest minds, on the contrary, are the most apprehensive of ridicule, and in consequence are most cautious, by a seeming indifference as to objects, to avoid the dangerous imputation of a decided partiality. Such persons, however, forming undoubtedly the greater portion of every society, console themselves and one another under the consciousness of debility, by the sense of their safety, and by the fashionable custom of dealing out wise reflections on those more enterprising minds, whose eccentricities or ardour, provoke their admiration.—E.]
As soon as I got on board, a light breeze springing up at east, we got under sail, and steered for Matavai Bay, where the Resolution anchored the same evening. But the Discovery did not get in till the next morning; so that half of the man's prophecy was fulfilled.
Interview with Otoo, King of the Island.—Imprudent Conduct of Omai.—Employments on Shore.—European Animals landed.—Particulars about a Native who had visited Lima.—About Oedidee—A Revolt in Eimeo.—War with that Island determined upon, in a Council of Chiefs.—A human Sacrifice on that Account.—A particular Relation of the Ceremonies at the great Morai, where the Sacrifice was offered.—Other barbarous Customs of this People.
About nine o'clock in the morning, Otoo, the king of the whole island, attended by a great number of canoes full of people, came from Oparre, his place of residence and having landed on Matavai Point, sent a message on board, expressing his desire to see me there. Accordingly I landed, accompanied by Omai, and some of the officers. We found a prodigious number of people assembled on this occasion, and in the midst of them was the king, attended by his father, his two brothers, and three sisters. I went up first and saluted him, being followed by Omai, who kneeled and embraced his legs. He had prepared himself for this ceremony, by dressing himself in his very best suit of clothes, and behaved with a great deal of respect and modesty. Nevertheless, very little notice was taken of him. Perhaps envy had some share in producing this cold reception. He made the chief a present of a large piece of red feathers, and about two or three yards of gold cloth; and I gave him a suit of fine linen, a gold-laced hat, some tools, and, what was of more value than all the other articles, a quantity of red feathers, and one of the bonnets in use at the Friendly Islands.
After the hurry of this visit was over, the king and the whole royal family accompanied me on board, followed by several canoes, laden with all kinds of provisions, in quantity sufficient to have served the companies of both ships for a week. Each of the family owned, or pretended to own, a part; so that I had a present from every one of them, and every one of them had a separate present in return from me, which was the great object in view. Soon after, the king's mother, who had not been present at the first interview, came on board, bringing with her a quantity of provisions and cloth, which she divided between me and Omai. For, although he was but little noticed at first by his countrymen, they no sooner gained the knowledge of his riches, than they began to court his friendship. I encouraged this as much as I could, for it was my wish to fix him with Otoo. As I intended to leave all my European animals at this island, I thought he would be able to give some instruction about the management of them, and about their use. Besides, I knew and saw, that the farther he was from his native island, he would be the better respected. But, unfortunately, poor Omai rejected my advice, and conducted himself in so imprudent a manner, that he soon lost the friendship of Otoo, and of every other person of note in Otaheite. He associated with none but vagabonds and strangers, whose sole views were to plunder him. And, if I had not interfered, they would not have left him a single article worth the carrying from the island. This necessarily drew upon him the ill-will of the principal chiefs, who found that they could not procure, from any one in the ships, such valuable presents as Omai bestowed on the lowest of the people, his companions.
As soon as we had dined, a party of us accompanied Otoo to Oparre, taking with us the poultry, with which we were to stock the island. They consisted of a peacock and hen (which Lord Besborough was so kind as to send me for this purpose, a few days before I left London); a turkey-cock and hen; one gander, and three geese; a drake and four ducks. All these I left at Oparre, in the possession of Otoo; and the geese and ducks began to breed before we sailed. We found there a gander, which the natives told us, was the same that Captain Wallis had given to Oberea ten years before; several goats, and the Spanish bull, whom they kept tied to a tree near Otoo's house. I never saw a finer animal of his kind. He was now the property of Etary, and had been brought from Oheitepeha to this place, in order to be shipped for Bolabola. But it passes my comprehension, how they can contrive to carry him in one of their canoes. If we had not arrived, it would have been of little consequence who had the property of him, as, without a cow, he could be of no use; and none had been left with him. Though the natives told us, that there were cows on board the Spanish ships, and that they took them away with them, I cannot believe this, and should rather suppose, that they had died in the passage from Lima. The next day, I sent the three cows, that I had on board, to this bull; and the bull, which I had brought, the horse and mare, and sheep, I put ashore at Matavai.
Having thus disposed of these passengers, I found my self lightened of a very heavy burthen. The trouble and vexation that attended the bringing this living cargo thus far, is hardly to be conceived. But the satisfaction that I felt, in having been so fortunate as to fulfil his majesty's humane design, in sending such valuable animals, to supply the wants of two worthy nations, sufficiently recompensed me for the many anxious hours I had passed, before this subordinate object of my voyage could be carried into execution.
As I intended to make some stay here, we set up the two observatories on Matavai Point. Adjoining to them, two tents were pitched for the reception of a guard, and of such people as it might be necessary to leave on shore, in different departments. At this station, I entrusted the command to Mr King, who, at the same time, attended the observations, for ascertaining the going of the time-keeper, and other purposes. During our stay, various necessary operations employed the crews of both ships. The Discovery's main-mast was carried ashore, and made as good as ever. Our sails and water-casks were repaired, the ships were caulked, and the rigging all overhauled. We also inspected all the bread that we had on board in casks; and had the satisfaction to find that but little of it was damaged.
On the 26th, I had a piece of ground cleared for a garden, and planted it with several articles, very few of which, I believe, the natives, will ever look after. Some melons, potatoes, and two pine-apple plants, were in a fair way of succeeding before we left the place. I had brought from the Friendly Islands several shaddock trees. These I also planted here; and they can hardly fail of success, unless their growth should be checked by the same premature curiosity, which destroyed a vine planted by the Spaniards at Oheitepeha. A number of the natives got together to taste the first fruit it bore; but, as the grapes were still sour, they considered it as little better than poison, and it was unanimously determined to tread it under foot. In that state, Omai found it by chance, and was overjoyed at the discovery. For he had a full confidence, that, if he had but grapes, he could easily make wine. Accordingly, he had several slips cut off from the tree, to carry away with him; and we pruned and put in order the remains of it. Probably, grown wise by Omai's instructions, they may now suffer the fruit to grow to perfection, and not pass so hasty a sentence upon it again.
We had not been eight and forty hours at anchor in Matavai Bay, before we were visited by all our old friends, whose names are recorded in the account of my last voyage. Not one of them came empty-handed; so that we had more provisions than we knew what to do with. What was still more, we were under no apprehensions of exhausting the island, which presented to our eyes every mark of the most exuberant plenty, in every article of refreshment.
Soon after our arrival here, one of the natives, whom the Spaniards had carried with them to Lima, paid us a visit; but, in his external appearance, he was not distinguishable from the rest of his countrymen. However, he had not forgot some Spanish words which he had acquired, though he pronounced them badly. Amongst them, the most frequent were, si Sennor; and, when a stranger was introduced to him, he did not fail to rise up and accost him, as well as he could.
We also found here the young man whom we called Oedidee, but whose real name is Heete-heete. I had carried him from Ulietea in 1773, and brought him back in 1774; after he had visited the Friendly Islands, New Zealand, Easter Island, and the Marqueses, and been on board my ship, in that extensive navigation, about seven months. He was, at least, as tenacious of his good breeding, as the man who had been at Lima; and yes, Sir, or if you please, Sir, were as frequently repeated by him, as si Sennor was by the other. Heete-heete, who is a native of Bolabola, had arrived in Otaheite about three months before, with no other intention, that we could learn, than to gratify his curiosity, or, perhaps, some other favourite passion; which are very often the only objects of the pursuit of other travelling gentlemen. It was evident, however, that he preferred the modes, and even garb, of his countrymen, to ours. For, though I gave him some clothes, which our Admiralty Board had been pleased to send for his use (to which I added a chest of tools, and a few other articles, as a present from myself), he declined wearing them, after a few days. This instance, and that of the person who had been at Lima, may be urged as a proof of the strong propensity natural to man, of returning to habits acquired at an early age, and only interrupted by accident. And, perhaps, it may be concluded, that even Omai, who had imbibed almost the whole English manners, will, in a very short time after our leaving him, like Oedidee, and the visiter of Lima, return to his own native garments.
[Footnote 5: Captain Cook's remark has often been exemplified in other instances. The tendency to revert to barbarism is so strong, as to need to be continually checked by the despotism of refined manners, and all the healthful emulations of civilized societies. Perhaps the rather harsh observation of Dr Johnson, that there is always a great deal of scoundrelism in a low man, is more strictly applicable to the cases of savages in general, than to even the meanest member of any cultivated community. But in the case of a superiorly endowed individual situate amongst a mass of ruder beings, to all of whom he is attached by the strongest ties of affection and early acquaintance, another powerfully deranging cause is at work in addition to the natural tendency to degenerate, viz. the necessity of accommodating himself to established customs and opinions. The former agent alone, we know, has often degraded Europeans. Is it to be thought wonderful then, that, where both principles operate, a man of Omai's character should speedily relinquish foreign acquirements, and retrograde into his original barbarity?—E.]
In the morning of the 27th, a man came from Oheitepeha, and told us, that two Spanish ships had anchored in that bay the night before; and, in confirmation of this intelligence, he produced a piece of coarse blue cloth, which, he said, he got out of one of the ships, and which, indeed, to appearance, was almost quite new. He added, that Mateema was in one of the ships, and that they were to come down to Matavai in a day or two. Some other circumstances which he mentioned, with the foregoing ones, gave the story so much the air of truth, that I dispatched Lieutenant Williamson in a boat, to look into Oheitepeha bay; and, in the mean time, I put the ships into a proper posture of defence. For, though England and Spain were in peace when I left Europe, for aught I knew, a different scene might, by this time, have opened. However, on farther enquiry, we had reason to think that the fellow who brought the intelligence had imposed upon us; and this was put beyond all doubt, when Mr Williamson returned next day, who made his report to me, that he had been at Oheitepeha, and found that no ships were there now, and that none had been there since we left it. The people of this part of the island where we now were, indeed, told us, from the beginning, that it was a fiction invented by those of Tiaraboo. But what view they could have, we were at a loss to conceive, unless they supposed that the report would have some effect in making us quit the island, and, by that means, deprive the people of Otaheite-nooe of the advantages they might reap from our ships continuing there; the inhabitants of the two parts of the island being inveterate enemies to each other.
From the time of our arrival at Matavai, the weather had been very unsettled, with more or less rain every day, till the 29th; before which we were not able to get equal altitudes of the sun for ascertaining the going of the time-keeper. The same cause also retarded the caulking and other necessary repairs of the ships.
In the evening of this day, the natives made a precipitate retreat, both from on board the ships, and from our station on shore. For what reason, we could not, at first, learn; though, in general, we guessed it arose from their knowing that some theft had been committed, and apprehending punishment on that account. At length, I understood what had happened. One of the surgeon's mates had been in the country to purchase curiosities, and had taken with him four hatchets for that purpose. Having employed one of the natives to carry them for him, the fellow took an opportunity to run off with so valuable a prize. This was the cause of the sudden flight, in which Otoo himself, and his whole family, had joined; and it was with difficulty that I stopped them, after following them two or three miles. As I had resolved to take no measures for the recovery of the hatchets, in order to put my people upon their guard against such negligence for the future, I found no difficulty in bringing the natives back, and in restoring every thing to its usual tranquillity.
Hitherto, the attention of Otoo and his people had been confined to us; but, next morning, a new scene of business opened, by the arrival of some messengers from Eimeo, or (as it is much oftener called by the natives) Morea, with intelligence, that the people in that island were in arms; and that Otoo's partizans there had been worsted, and obliged to retreat to the mountains. The quarrel between the two islands, which commenced in 1774, as mentioned in the account of my last voyage, had, it seems, partly subsisted ever since. The formidable armament which I saw at that time, and described, had sailed soon after I then left Otaheite; but the malcontents of Eimeo had made so stout a resistance, that the fleet had returned without effecting much; and now another expedition was necessary.
[Footnote 6: Morea, according to Dr Forster, is a district in Eimeo. See his Observations, p. 217.]
On the arrival of these messengers, all the chiefs, who happened to be at Matavai, assembled at Otoo's house, where I actually was at the time, and had the honour to be admitted into their council. One of the messengers opened the business of the assembly, in a speech of considerable length. But I understood little of it, besides its general purport, which was to explain the situation of affairs in Eimeo; and to excite the assembled chiefs of Otaheite to arm on the occasion. This opinion was combated by others who were against commencing hostilities; and the debate was carried on with great order, no more than one man speaking at a time. At last, they became very noisy, and I expected that our meeting would have ended like a Polish diet. But the contending great men cooled as fast as they grew warm, and order was soon restored. At length, the party for war prevailed; and it was determined, that a strong force should be sent to assist their friends in Eimeo. But this resolution was far from being unanimous. Otoo, during the whole debate, remained silent; except that, now and then, he addressed a word or two to the speakers. Those of the council, who were for prosecuting the war, applied to me for my assistance; and all of them wanted to know what part I would take. Omai was sent for to be my interpreter; but, as he could not be found, I was obliged to speak for myself, and told them, as well as I could, that as I was not thoroughly acquainted with the dispute, and as the people of Eimeo had never offended me, I could not think myself at liberty to engage in hostilities against them. With this declaration they either were, or seemed, satisfied. The assembly then broke up; but, before I left them, Otoo desired me to come to him in the afternoon, and to bring Omai with me.
Accordingly, a party of us waited upon him at the appointed time; and we were conducted by him to his father, in whose presence the dispute with Eimeo was again talked over. Being very desirous of devising some method to bring about an accommodation, I sounded the old chief on that head. But we found him deaf to any such proposal, and fully determined to prosecute the war. He repeated the solicitations which I had already resisted, about giving them my assistance. On our enquiring into the cause of the war, we were told, that, some years ago, a brother of Waheiadooa, of Tiaraboo, was sent to Eimeo, at the request of Maheine, a popular chief of that island, to be their king; but that he had not been there a week before Maheine, having caused him to be killed, set up for himself, in opposition to Tierataboonooe, his sister's son, who became the lawful heir; or else had been pitched upon, by the people of Otaheite, to succeed to the government on the death of the other.
Towha, who was a relation of Otoo, and chief of the district of Tettaha, a man of much weight in the island, and who had been commander-in-chief of the armament fitted out against Eimeo in 1774, happened not to be at Matavai at this time; and, consequently, was not present at any of these consultations. It, however, appeared that he was no stranger to what was transacted; and that he entered with more spirit into the affair than any other chief. For, early in the morning of the 1st of September, a messenger arrived from him to acquaint Otoo that he had killed a man to be sacrificed to the Eatooa, to implore the assistance of the god against Eimeo. This act of worship was to be performed at the great Morai at Attahooroo; and Otoo's presence, it seems, was absolutely necessary on that solemn occasion.
That the offering of human sacrifices is part of the religious institutions of this island, had been mentioned by Mons. de Bougainville, on the authority of the native whom he carried with him to France. During my last visit to Otaheite, and while I had opportunities of conversing with Omai on the subject, I had satisfied myself that there was too much reason to admit that such a practice, however inconsistent with the general humanity of the people, was here adopted. But as this was one of those extraordinary facts, about which many are apt to retain doubts, unless the relater himself has had ocular proof to confirm what he had heard from others, I thought this a good opportunity of obtaining the highest evidence of its certainty, by being present myself at the solemnity; and, accordingly, proposed to Otoo that I might be allowed to accompany him. To this he readily consented; and we immediately set out in my boat, with my old friend Potatou, Mr Anderson, and Mr Webber; Omai following in a canoe.
In our way we landed upon a little island, which lies off Tettaha, where we found Towha and his retinue. After some little conversation between the two chiefs, on the subject of the war, Towha addressed himself to me, asking my assistance. When I excused myself, he seemed angry, thinking it strange, that I, who had always declared myself to be the friend of their island, would not now go and fight against its enemies. Before we parted, he gave to Otoo two or three red feathers, tied up in a tuft, and a lean half-starved dog was put into a canoe that was to accompany us. We then embarked again, taking on board a priest who was to assist at the solemnity.
As soon as we landed at Attahooroo, which was about two o'clock in the afternoon, Otoo expressed his desire that the seamen might be ordered to remain in the boat; and that Mr Anderson, Mr Webber, and myself, might take off our hats as soon as we should come to the morai, to which we immediately proceeded, attended by a great many men and some boys, but not one woman. We found four priests, and their attendants, or assistants, waiting for us. The dead body, or sacrifice, was in a small canoe that lay on the beach, and partly in the wash of the sea, fronting the morai. Two of the priests, with some of their attendants, were sitting by the canoe, the others at the morai. Our company stopped about twenty or thirty paces from the priests. Here Otoo placed himself; we, and a few others, standing by him, while the bulk of the people remained at a greater distance.
The ceremonies now began. One of the priest's attendants brought a young plantain-tree, and laid it down before Otoo. Another approached with a small tuft of red feathers, twisted on some fibres of the cocoa-nut husk, with which he touched one of the king's feet, and then retired with it to his companions. One of the priests, seated at the morai, facing those who were upon the beach, now began a long prayer, and at certain times, sent down young plantain-trees, which were laid upon the sacrifice. During this prayer, a man, who stood by the officiating priest, held in his hands two bundles, seemingly of cloth. In one of them, as we afterward found, was the royal maro; and the other, if I may be allowed the expression, was the ark of the Eatooa. As soon as the prayer was ended, the priests at the morai, with their attendants, went and sat down by those upon the beach, carrying with them the two bundles. Here they renewed their prayers; during which the plantain-trees were taken, one by one, at different times, from off the sacrifice, which was partly wrapped up in cocoa leaves and small branches. It was now taken out of the canoe, and laid upon the beach, with the feet to the sea. The priests placed themselves around it, some sitting and others standing, and one or more of them repeated sentences for about ten minutes. The dead body was now uncovered, by removing the leaves and branches, and laid in a parallel direction with the sea-shore. One of the priests then standing at the feet of it, pronounced a long prayer, in which he was at times joined by the others, each holding in his hand a tuft of red feathers. In the course of this prayer, some hair was pulled off the head of the sacrifice, and the left eye taken out, both which were presented to Otoo, wrapped up in a green leaf. He did not however touch it, but gave to the man who presented it, the tuft of feathers which he had received from Towha. This, with the hair and eye, was carried back to the priests. Soon after, Otoo sent to them another piece of feathers, which he had given me in the morning to keep in my pocket. During some part of this last ceremony, a kingfisher making a noise in the trees, Otoo turned to me, saying, "That is the Eatooa" and seemed to look upon it to be a good omen.
The body was then carried a little way, with its head towards the morai, and laid under a tree, near which were fixed three broad thin pieces of wood, differently but rudely carved. The bundles of cloth were laid on a part of the morai, and the tufts of red feathers were placed at the feet of the sacrifice, round which the priests took their stations, and we were now allowed to go as near as we pleased. He who seemed to be the chief priest sat at a small distance, and spoke for a quarter of an hour, but with different tones and gestures, so that he seemed often to expostulate with the dead person, to whom he constantly addressed himself; and sometimes asked several questions, seemingly with respect to the propriety of his having been killed. At other times, he made several demands, as if the deceased either now had power himself, or interest with the divinity, to engage him to comply with such requests. Amongst which, we understood, he asked him to deliver Eimeo, Maheine its chief, the hogs, women, and other things of the island, into their hands; which was, indeed, the express intention of the sacrifice. He then chanted a prayer, which lasted near half an hour, in a whining, melancholy tone, accompanied by two other priests; and in which Potatou and some others joined. In the course of this prayer, some more hair was plucked by a priest from the head of the corpse, and put upon one of the bundles. After this, the chief priest prayed alone, holding in his hand the feathers which came from Towha. When he had finished, he gave them to another, who prayed in like manner. Then all the tufts of feathers were laid upon the bundles of cloth, which closed the ceremony at this place.
The corpse was then carried up to the most conspicuous part of the morai, with the feathers, the two bundles of cloth, and the drums; the last of which beat slowly. The feathers and bundles were laid against the pile of stones, and the corpse at the foot of them. The priests having again seated themselves round it, renewed their prayers, while some of their attendants dug a hole about two feet deep, into which they threw the unhappy victim, and covered it over with earth and stones. While they were putting him into the grave, a boy squeaked aloud, and Omai said to me, that it was the Eatooa. During this time, a fire having been made, the dog before-mentioned, was produced, and killed, by twisting his neck and suffocating him. The hair was singed off, and the entrails taken out, and thrown into the fire, where they were left to consume. But the heart, liver, and kidneys were only roasted, by being laid on hot stones for a few minutes; and the body of the dog, after being besmeared with the blood, which had been collected into a cocoa-nut shell, and dried over the fire, was, with the liver, &c. carried and laid down before the priests, who sat praying round the grave. They continued their ejaculations over the dog for some time, while two men, at intervals, beat on two drums very loud; and a boy screamed, as before, in a loud, shrill voice, three different times. This, as we were told, was to invite the Eatooa to feast on the banquet that they had prepared for him. As soon as the priests had ended their prayers, the carcass of the dog, with what belonged to it, were laid on a whatta, or scaffold, about six feet high, that stood close by, on which lay the remains of two other dogs, and of two pigs, which had lately been sacrificed, and, at this time, emitted an intolerable stench. This kept us at a greater distance, than would otherwise have been required of us. For after the victim was removed from the sea-side toward the morai, we were allowed to approach as near as we pleased. Indeed, after that, neither seriousness nor attention were much observed by the spectators. When the dog was put upon the whatta, the priests and attendants gave a kind of shout, which closed the ceremonies for the present. The day being now also closed, we were conducted to a house belonging to Potatou, where we were entertained, and lodged for the night. We had been told that the religious rites were to be renewed in the morning; and I would not leave the place, while any thing remained to be seen.
Being unwilling to lose any part of the solemnity, some of us repaired to the scene of action pretty early, but found nothing going forward. However, soon after a pig was sacrificed, and laid upon the same whatta with the others. About eight o'clock, Otoo took us again to the morai, where the priests, and a great number of men, were by this time assembled. The two bundles occupied the place in which we had seen them deposited the preceding evening; the two drums stood in the front of the morai, but somewhat nearer it than before, and the priests were beyond them. Otoo placed himself between the two drums, and desired me to stand by him.
The ceremony began, as usual, with bringing a young plantain-tree, and laying it down at the king's feet. After this a prayer was repeated by the priests, who held in their hands several tufts of red feathers, and also a plume of ostrich feathers, which I had given to Otoo on my first arrival, and had been consecrated to this use. When the priests had made an end of the prayer, they changed their station, placing themselves between us and the morai; and one of them, the same person who had acted the principal part the day before, began another prayer, which lasted about half an hour. During the continuance of this, the tufts of feathers were, one by one, carried and laid upon the ark of the Eatooa.
Some little time after, four pigs were produced, one of which was immediately killed, and the others were taken to a sty hard by, probably reserved for some future occasion of sacrifice. One of the bundles was now untied; and it was found, as I have before observed, to contain the maro, with which these people invest their kings, and which seems to answer, in some degree, to the European ensigns of royalty, it was carefully taken out of the cloth, in which, it had been wrapped up, and spread at full length upon the ground before the priests. It is a girdle, about five yards long; and fifteen inches broad; and, from its name, seems to be put on in the same manner as is the common maro, or piece of cloth, used by these people to wrap round the waist. It was ornamented with red and yellow feathers, but mostly with the latter, taken from a dove found upon the island. The one end was bordered with eight pieces, each about the size and shape of a horse-shoe, having their edges fringed with black feathers. The other end was forked, and the points were of different lengths. The feathers were in square compartments, ranged in two rows, and otherwise so disposed, as to produce a pleasing effect. They had been first pasted or fixed upon some of their own country cloth, and then sewed to the upper end of the pendant which Captain Wallis had displayed, and left flying ashore, the first time that he landed at Matavai. This was what they told us; and we had no reason to doubt it, as we could easily trace the remains of an English pendant. About six or eight inches square of the maro was unornamented, there being no feathers upon that space, except a few that had been sent by Waheiadooa, as already mentioned. The priests made a long prayer, relative to this part of the ceremony; and, if I mistook not, they called it the prayer of the maro. When it was finished, the badge of royalty was carefully folded up, put into the cloth, and deposited again upon the morai.
The other bundle, which I have distinguished by the name of the ark, was next opened at one end. But we were not allowed to go near enough to examine its mysterious contents. The information we received was, that the Eatooa, to whom they had been sacrificing, and whose name is Ooro, was concealed in it, or rather what is supposed to represent him. This sacred repository is made of the twisted fibres of the husk of the cocoa-nut, shaped somewhat like a large fig, or sugar-loaf, that is, roundish, with one end much thicker than the other. We had very often got small ones from different people, but never knew their use before.
By this time, the pig that had been killed, was cleaned, and the entrails taken out. These happened to have a considerable share of those convulsive motions, which often appear, in different parts, after an animal is killed; and this was considered by the spectators as a very favourable omen to the expedition on account of which the sacrifices had been offered. After being exposed for some time, that those who chose might examine their appearances, the entrails were carried to the priests, and laid down before them. While one of their number prayed, another inspected the entrails more narrowly, and kept turning them gently with a stick. When they had been sufficiently examined, they were thrown into the fire, and left to consume. The sacrificed pig and its liver, &c. were now put upon the whatta, where the dog had been deposited the day before; and then all the feathers, except the ostrich plume, were enclosed with the Eatooa in the ark, and the solemnity finally closed.
Four double canoes lay upon the beach, before the place of sacrifice, all the morning. On the fore part of each of these was fixed a small platform, covered with palm-leaves, tied in mysterious knots; and this also is called a morai. Some cocoa-nuts, plantains, pieces of bread-fruit, fish, and other things, lay upon each of these naval morais. We were told that they belonged to the Eatooa, and that they were to attend the fleet designed to go against Eimeo.
The unhappy victim, offered to the object of their worship upon this occasion, seemed to be a middle-aged man; and, as we were told, was a toutou, that is, one of the lowest class of the people. But, after all my enquiries, I could not learn that he had been pitched upon on account of any particular crime committed by him meriting death. It is certain, however, that they generally make choice of such guilty persons for their sacrifices, or else of common, low fellows who stroll about, from place to place, and from island to island, without having any fixed abode, or any visible way of getting an honest livelihood; of which description of men, enough are to be met with at these islands. Having had an opportunity of examining the appearance of the body of the poor sufferer now offered up, I could observe, that it was bloody about the head and face, and a good deal bruised upon the right temple, which marked the manner of his being killed. And we were told, that he had been privately knocked on the head with a stone.
Those who are devoted to suffer, in order to perform this bloody act of worship, are never apprised of their fate, till the blow is given that puts an end to their existence. Whenever any one of the great chiefs thinks a human sacrifice necessary, on any particular emergency, he pitches upon the victim. Some of his trusty servants are then sent, who fall upon him suddenly, and put him to death with a club, or by stoning him. The king is next acquainted with it, whose presence, at the solemn rites that follow, is, as I was told, absolutely necessary; and indeed on the present occasion, we could observe, that Otoo bore a principal part. The solemnity itself is called Poore Eree, or chief's prayer; and the victim, who is offered up, Taata-taboo, or consecrated man. This is the only instance where we have heard the word taboo used at this island, where it seems to have the same mysterious signification as at Tonga, though it is there applied to all cases where things are not to be touched. But at Otaheite, the word raa serves the same purpose, and is full as extensive in its meaning.
The morai, (which undoubtedly is a place of worship, sacrifice, and burial, at the same time,) where the sacrifice was now offered, is that where the supreme chief of the whole island is always buried, and is appropriated to his family, and some of the principal people. It differs little from the common ones, except in extent. Its principal part is a large oblong pile of stones, lying loosely upon each; other, about twelve or fourteen feet high; contracted toward the top, with a square area on each side, loosely paved with pebble stones, under which the bones of the chiefs are buried. At a little distance from the end nearest the sea is the place where the sacrifices are offered, which, for a considerable extent, is also loosely paved. There is here a very large scaffold, or whatta, on which the offerings of fruits and other vegetables are laid. But the animals are deposited on a smaller one, already mentioned, and the human sacrifices are buried under different parts of the pavement. There are several other reliques which ignorant superstition had scattered about this place; such as small stones, raised in different parts of the pavement, some with bits of cloth tied round them, others covered with it; and upon the side of the large pile, which fronts the area, are placed a great many pieces of carved wood, which are supposed to be sometimes the residence of their divinities, and consequently held sacred. But one place more particular than the rest, is a heap of stones at one end of the large whatta, before which the sacrifice was offered, with a kind of platform at one side. On this are laid the sculls of all the human sacrifices, which are taken up after they have been several months under ground. Just above them are placed a great number of the pieces of wood; and it was also here, where the maro, and the other bundle supposed to contain the god Ooro (and which I call the ark), were laid during the ceremony, a circumstance which denotes its agreement with the altar of other nations.
It is much to be regretted, that a practice so horrid in its own nature, and so destructive of that inviolable right of self-preservation which every one is born with, should be found still existing; and (such is the power of superstition to counteract the first principles of humanity!) existing amongst a people, in many other respects, emerged from the brutal manners of savage life. What is still worse, it is probable that these bloody rites of worship are prevalent throughout all the wide-extended islands of the Pacific Ocean. The similarity of customs and language, which our late voyages have enabled us to trace, between the most distant of these islands, makes it not unlikely that some of the more important articles of their religious institutions should agree. And indeed we had the most authentic information, that human sacrifices continue to be offered at the Friendly Islands. When I described the Natche at Tongataboo, I mentioned that on the approaching sequel of that festival, we had been told that ten men were to be sacrificed. This may give us an idea of the extent of this religious massacre in that island. And though we should suppose that never more than one person is sacrificed on any single occasion at Otaheite, it is more than probable that these occasions happen so frequently, as to make a shocking waste of the human race, for I counted no less than forty-nine sculls of former victims, lying before the morai, where we saw one more added to the number. And as none of those sculls had as yet suffered any considerable change from the weather, it may hence be inferred, that no great length of time had elapsed, since, at least, this considerable number of unhappy wretches had been offered upon this altar of blood.
The custom, though no consideration can make it cease to be abominable, might be thought less detrimental in some respects, if it served to impress any awe for the divinity or reverence for religion upon the minds of the multitude. But this is so far from being the case, that though a great number of people had assembled at the morai on this occasion, they did not seem to shew any proper reverence for what was doing or saying during the celebration of the rites. And Omai happening to arrive, after they had begun, many of the spectators flocked round him, and were engaged the remainder of the time in making him relate some of his adventures, which they listened to with great attention, regardless of the solemn offices performing by their priests. Indeed, the priests themselves, except the one who chiefly repeated the prayers, either from their being familiarized to such objects, or from want of confidence in the efficacy of their institutions, observed very little of that solemnity which is necessary to give to religious performances their due weight. Their dress was only an ordinary one, they conversed together without scruple, and the only attempt made by them to preserve any appearance of decency, was by exerting their authority to prevent the people from coming upon the very spot where the ceremonies were performed, and to suffer us as strangers to advance a little forward. They were, however, very candid in their answers to any questions that were put to them concerning the institution. And particularly on being asked what the intention of it was, they said that it was an old custom, and was agreeable to their god, who delighted in, or in other words, came and fed upon the sacrifices; in consequence of which, he complied with their petitions. Upon its being objected that he could not feed on these, as he was neither seen to do it, nor were the bodies of the animals quickly consumed, and that as to the human victim, they prevented his feeding on him by burying him. But to all this they answered, that he came in the night, but invisibly, and fed only on the soul, or immaterial part, which, according to their doctrine, remains about the place of sacrifice, until the body of the victim be entirely wasted by putrefaction.