Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

nourable in themselves, but are universally considered so by the natives. Thus we must not deny that they feel the principle of honour, and practise it to a certain extent. But then what shall we say on the other side of the question ? How can we excuse the capture of the Port au Prince, and the atrocious circumstances attend. ing it ? the assassination of Toobó Neuha ? the treachery of Tarky, chief of the garrison of Bea ? But what stands forward, both prominent and glaring, and the truth of which their own confession establishes, is the serious design they entertained of assassinating Captain Cook and his officers off Lefroga, the 18th of May 1777, and putting to death their acknowledged great and good benefactor.

If we were to measure their conduct by the notions of virtue, honour, and humanity received among enlightened nations, we should do them great wrong, and forfeit our own titles to the epithet of just and honourable; we shall, therefore, endeavour to ascertain in what their notions of honour consist, and judge them upon their own principles. Their ideas of honour and justice do not very much differ from ours, except in degree, they considering some things more honourable than we should, and others much less so. But they have one principle which, to a greater or less extent, is universally

held among them; which is, that it is every man's duty to obey the orders of his superior chief in all instances, good or bad : unless it be to fight against a chief still superior, and even in this case it would not be actually dishonourable. If a chief, therefore, designs to assassinate another, it is the duty of his men to assist him to the utmost of their power, whether they think it right or not. If two or three combine together to take a ship, they may depend upon their men's readiness as a point of duty to execute their intentions: and if they are ordered to kill every man on board, they will most assuredly do it if they possibly can; if they are desired to save every man's life, they will equally obey the order, by merely endeavouring to secure them, though perhaps at the risk of their own lives. Thus the crime of one man will

appear to us Europeans to be extended to two or three hundred, although these perhaps may be only the unwilling instruments : obedient, because it is their duty to be so. But let the matter rest here for a moment, whilst we endeavour to examine the degree of crime of which the chief is guilty who is at the head of the conspiracy. In the first place, his own opinion and that of his countrymen is, that it is no crime at all: that is to say, it is not what the gods will punish him for. He will, however, candidly

[blocks in formation]

acknowledge it to be wrong; he will say lie took the ship because Tonga being a poor country, was in want of many useful things, which he supposed were in great plenty on board, and that he killed the crew that he might better effect his object. Taking the ship he will call an act of ungenerous oppression ; killing the men, an act of harshness. But he will add, “ how could it be helped ? we would have saved the men if we could, but we did not dare to do it for our own safety. But (supposing the chief addressing himself to Mr. Mariner in reference to the Port au Prince) “ we might also have killed you and your surviving companions, as we were advised, lest the next ship, hearing from you what had been done, might take revenge: but we have so good an opinion of the clemency and humanity of the Papalangies, that we trust they will not take revenge, we will therefore treat you well, and abide by the result.”

Respect to Females.-Women have considerable respect shewn to them on account of their sex, independent of the rank they might otherwise hold as nobles. They are considered to contribute much to the comforts and domestic happiness of the other sex; and as they are weaker of the two, it is thought unmanly not to shew them attention and kind regard; they

are, therefore, not subjected to hard labour, or any other menial work.

Those that are nobles, rank, like the men, according to the superiority of their relationship. If a woman not a noble is the wife or daughter of a mataboole, she ranks as a mataboole ; if she be a noble, she is superior in rank to him, and so are the children male and female; but in domestic affairs she submits entirely to his arrangements. Notwithstanding this, however, she never loses the respect from her husband due to her rank: that is to say, he is obliged to perform the ceremony of moë-moë before he can feed himself.

Love of Children. It is a custom in the Tonga Islands for women to be what they call mothers to children or grown-up young persons who are not their own, for the purpose of providing them, or seeing that they are provided, with all the conveniences of life ; and this is often done although their own natural mothers be living, and residing near the spot. Mafi Habe, * one of the wives of Finow the first, the father of the present king, was Mr. Mariner's foster-mother, appointed by the king her husband. To this person Mr. Mariner feels himself greatly indebted for a considerable portion of his intimate knowledge of the language and true customs of

* Or Maffey Happay.

Tonga, in contradistinction to words and customs introduced from other islands. She would frequently take the greatest pains in teaching him the correct Tonga pronunciation, and would laugh him out of all little habits and customs in dress, manners, and conversation, that were not strictly according to the Tonga fashion, or not considered sufficiently polished and becoming an egi (noble). In all respects, and on every occasion, she conducted herself towards him with the greatest maternal affection, modesty, and propriety. She was a woman of great understanding, personal beauty, and amiable manners.

If a young girl is betrothed, or set apart to be the wife or concubine of a noble higher in rank than herself, she derives more respect on' that account, independent of what is due to her own proper rank.

Theft is considered by them an act of meanness rather than a crime ; and although some of the chiefs themselves have been known to be guilty of it on board ship, it is nevertheless not approved of. Their excuse is, the strength of the temptation; the chiefs that would do it are, however, very few.

Aversion to Scandal.As being closely allied with principles of honour and justice, we shall now examine the character of this people as it regards their opinion of one another : and here

« ForrigeFortsæt »