Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

the island near Licoo, and there saunter about among the rocks and caverns of the shore for two or three days together. He was so much in the habit of wandering over craggy and dangerous places, that it was said he could climb rocks, and ascend frightful steeps with a facility beyond the power of any other human being. On one occasion he was absent so long from the mooa that his friends were apprehensive some misfortune had befallen him; and they commenced a search, expecting to find his body lying at the foot of some precipice, down which in an evil hour he had fallen. No vestige of bim, however, was to be seen; and after a long time spent in the fruitless endeavour to discover his remains, they imagined he must have been devoured by a shark whilst bathing, and with this reflection they returned dejected to their homes. A few months now elapsed, when one day some carpenters, whilst employed in cutting timber in the neighbourhood of Licoo, were surprised, and not a little startled, by the sudden appearance of the long lost solitary: he no sooner saw them than he fled, and they, a little recovered from their first astonishment, pursued; but it was in vain they followed him among the cliffs; he escaped by a path known and accessible only to himself. Many months passed away, and no more was seen or heard of Tootáwi : several persons endeavoured to discover his retreat: they called his name aloud among the rocks, but no answer was returned, excepting the echo of their own voice. His singular conduct formed every where the common topic of discourse, and the most ardent wish of the curious was to find out the place of his resort. Some young females went out early one morning to gather flowers while the dew was yet on them; they extended their walk along Licoo, and strayed into wild and unfrequented places. Whilst they were admiring the sublimity of the surrounding scenery, their attention was suddenly arrested by the appearance of smoke arising from among the neighbouring cliffs, and they resolved if possible to ascertain the cause of so unexpected a circumstance. Animated by the hope of discovering what had been long sought for, they ascended with much difficulty a steep and craggy place, and looking down on the opposite side they beheld in a small cave the figure of Tootáwi, near a fire, preparing yams. Fear held them mute; not daring to interrupt him, and apprehensive of exciting his attention, they drew back, and descended the way they came. They ran speedily to a plantation at some distance, and announced to all they met that

they had found out the abode of the recluse. A few of his friends immediately set out to visit him, and by the directions of the young women they approached the cave, at the entrance of which was Tootáwi sitting on the ground in a thoughtful posture. He did not observe them till they were too near to allow of flight. He appeared displeased at the intrusion, and earnestly begged them to leave him : there was nothing on earth that, he wanted, and all their arguments were thrown away in persuading him to return to society. Finding their endeavours fruitless, they yielded to his wishes, and left him.

From that time many people went on different occasions, led chiefly by curiosity, to visit his cave, but it was very seldom they found him there ; whether he had any

other place of retreat nobody ever knew. He lived principally upon yams and the juice of the cocoa-nut; and the chief furniture of his cave was a mat to sleep on. When Voona, the governor heard that his retreat was discovered, and that many went to visit the place, he issued orders, on the occasion of a fono or general assembly of the people, that no one should molest him, and accordingly every respect was paid to the injunction.

Some time after this, the battle of Tonga having been fought, Finow invaded and conquered Vavaoo, upon which Voona fled to Hamoa. No sooner had the king established his authority in the island than he took a guide to conduct him to the cave of 'Tootawi, of whose extraordinary character he had heard, and whom he had a most lively desire to see. He found him, and was received as any indifferent person. Finow spoke kindly to him ; inquired if there was any thing that could render his situation more comfortable, and offered whatever could be thought of to induce him to return to the habitations of men; but Tootáwi seemed equally indifferent to all; he wished for nothing but solitude. Canoes, houses, and plantations were to him matters of no value whatsoever; conversation had no charms for him, and the luxuries of life were insipid things. When Finow requested him to select a wife from among his numerous female attendants, he replied that it was of all things that which was most remote from his wishes. At length the king gave him an unlimited choice among the whole extent of his possessions, and in the most earnest manner entreated him to accept of something. Being thus strongly pressed, the moderate Tootáwi chose a wearing-mat of the kind called gië fow,* and this was the only article that the eloquence and kindness of Finow could persuade him to accept of. The king left him with sentiments of admiration, and shortly after confirmed the orders that had been formerly given to prevent any body molesting him.

Thus lived Tootáwi for some three or four years afterwards ; but one day he was found lying on the ground, stretched out dead within his cave.

But to return to our subject ; about mid-day it is usual to have another meal, when the chiefs receive a number of presents, of different kinds of provisions, from their dependents or friends, which the matabooles share out. In the afternoon some again join in conversation, others go out shooting rats, &c. In the evening they have dancing and singing, which is often continued till very late at night, on which occasion they burn torches, each being held by a man, who, after a time, is relieved by another. These dances are generally kept up for about four hours after dark.-When no dances are proposed, they retire to rest at sun-set, aster bathing and oiling themselves, and even on these occasions the houses are lighted up with torches, during two, three, or four hours after dark : these torches are held by female domestics.

It cannot be strictly said that they have any fixed times for meals, though it generally happens to be in the morning, about noon, and again in the evening ; but it depends greatly upon how the chiefs are occupied, or what presents have been made to them : it frequently occurs that several presents come at the same time from different quarters ; then they have a feast : but whatever they have, whether much or little, it is always shared out to all present, each having a portion according to his rank : strangers and females generally obtain somewhat more than is due to their rank. Those who get more than they want never fail to supply others who have not enough : selfishness is a very rare quality among them ; if a man has a piece of yam, though it be not enough for a meal, he will readily give half away to any one who may want it ; and if any body else comes afterwards in like need, with the greatest good nature he will give half the remainder; scarcely saving himself any, though he may be very hungry.

If during the day, a chief, mataboole, or mooa, but particularly a chief, finds himself fatigued with walking, or any other exercise,

* A certain kind of wearing-mat used chiefly in canoes, as it is not liable to be injured by sea water. See page 426.

he lies down, and some of his attendants come and perform one of the three following operations upon him, viz. toogi-toogi, mili, or fota, i. e. being gently beaten upon, or having the skin rubbed, or having it compressed: these several operations are generally performed about the feet and legs ; the first by constant and gentle beating with the fist; the second by rubbing with the palm of the hand; and the last by compressing or grasping the integuments with the fingers and thumb. They all serve to relieve pain, gen. eral lassitude, and fatigue ; they are mostly performed by the wives or female domestics of the party; and it is certain that they give very great ease, producing a soothing effect upon the system, and lulling to sleep. Headach is found to be greatly relieved by compressing the skin of the forehead and the scalp in general. Sometimes, when a man is much fatigued, he will lie on the ground whilst three or four little children trample upon him all over; and the relief given by this operation is very great.

Such is the history of the politics, religion, and knowlege,—and the manners, customs, and habits of the people of the Tonga islands.

[merged small][ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »