« ForrigeFortsæt »
who fall upon him suddenly, and put him to death with a club, or by stoping 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 Erce, or chief's prayer; and the victim, who is offered up, Tuata-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 fa wily, 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 to ward 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 whattu, 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 divivities, 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 humau 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 io contain the god Ooro (and which I call the ark), were Jaid 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 atten tion, regardless of the soleinn 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,
It were much to be wished, that this deluded people may learn to entertain the same horror of murdering their fellow-creatures, in order to furnish such an invisible banquet to their god, as they now have of feeding corporeally on human flesh themselves. And yet we have great reason to believe, that there was a time when they were cannibals. We were told (and indeed partly saw it) that it is a necessary ceremony when a poor wretch is sacrificed, for the priest to take out the left eye. This he presents to the king, holding it to his mouth, which he desires him to open; but instead of putting it in, immediately withdraws it. This they call “ eating the man," or " food for the chief,” and VOL. XVI.
perhaps we may observe bere some traces of former times, when the dead body was really feasted upon.
But not to insist upon this, it is certain, that human sacrifices are not the only barbarous custom we find still prevailing amongst this benevolent humane people. For besides cutting out the jaw-bones of their enemies slain in battle, which they carry about as trophies, they, in some measure, offer their bodies as a sacrifice to the Eatooa. Soon after a battle, in which they have been victors, they collect all the dead that have fallen into their hands and bring them to the morai, where, with a great deal of ceremony, they dig a hole, and bury them all in it, as so many offerings to the gods; but their sculls are never after ta
Their own great chiefs that fall in battle are treated in a different manner. We were informed, that their late king Tootaha, Tubourai-tamaide, and another chief, who fell with thein in the battle fought with those of Tiaraboo, were brought to this morai at Attahooroo. There their bowels were cut out by the priests before the great altar, and the bodies afterward buried in three different places, which were pointed out to us, in the great pile of stones that compose the most conspicuous part of this morai. And their common men who also fell in this battle, were all buried in one hole at the foot of the pile. This, Omai, who was present, told me, was done the day after the battle, with much pomp and ceremony, and in the midst of a great concourse of people, as a thanksgiving-offering to the Eatooa, for the victory they had obtained; while the vanquished had taken refuge in the mountains. There they remained a week or ten days, till the fury of the victors was over, and a treaty set on foot, by which it was 'agreed, that Otoo should be declared king of the whole island, and the solemnity of investing him with the maro was performed at the same morai with great pomp, in the presence of all the principal men of the country.!
; We must trespass a little on the reader's patience as was formerly threatened. But on so curious, and indeed so exceedingly important a subject as human sacrifices, it is allowable to claim the serious attention of every intelligent being. Who can withhold anxiety from an enquiry into the reality of the fact, as a fundamental part of religion in every nation at some period of its history-or dare to affect indifference as to the origin
Conference with Towha.--Heevas described.-Omai and Oe
didee give Dinners.-- Fireworks exhibited.- A remarkable Present of Cloth.—Manner of preseroing 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.
The close of the very singular scene exhibited at the morai, which I have faithfully described in the last chapter,
and meaning of so portentous and horrible a rite? It will be our study to be as brief as possible in conveying the information respecting both, which every man ought to possess, who values correct opinions respecting the moral condition of our nature. First, then, as to the universality of the practice. This is of course to be ascertained from testimony. And perhaps on no subject in the history of mankind, is there a more decided agreement in the assertions of different witnesses. We shall run over the various nations of the earth, of whom we have any thing like satisfactory evidence. Here we avail ourselves of the labours of several authors, as Dr Jenkin, De Paauw, Mr Bryant, Mr Parkhurst, Dr Magee, and others. We commence with the Egyptians, of whom alone, we believe, any doubt as to their being implicated in the practice has been entertained. Thus Dr Forster, in his Observations on Cook's Second Voyage, excepts them from his remark that all the ancient nations sacrificed men, saying that whereever it is affirmed in old writers that these people were addicted to it, we are to understand them as alluding to the Arabian shepherds, who at one time subdued Egypt. Such was the opinion of the writer of this note, but more attentive enquiry has induced him, in this instance, to disregard the distinction. Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch, quoted by Dr Magee, mention their sacrificing red-haired men at the tomb of Osiris; and from other sources, it appears that they had a custom of sacrificing a virgin to the river Nile, by flinging her into its stream. The Phænicians, Canaanites, Moabites, Ammonites, and other neighbouring people, were in the habit of sacrificing their children to their idols, especially Moloch, on certain calamities, and for various reasons. See on this head some of the commentators on Scripture, as Ainsworth on Levit. 18th, and still more particularly, consult Selecta Sacra Braunii, a work formerly referred to. The Ethiopians, according to the Romance of Heliodorus, admitted to be good authority as to manners, &c. sacrificed their children to the sun and moon. The Scythians, as related in the curious description given of them by Herodotus, in Melpom. 62, particularly honoured the god Mars, by sa