« ForrigeFortsæt »
morrow (under the influence of the inspiration of some god) take place of every body present, seat himself at the head of the cava ring, be respected as the god himself, and his discourse attentively listened to as oracular. Again, the king himself, whom one might suppose to be the greatest person in the country (and in fact he has the greatest power), is by no means the highest noble, but must yield in point of rank to many others. In this order of things, therefore, we shall first speak of those persons to whom rank and respect are yielded on the score of religious circumstances : and these are Tooilonga, Veachi, and the Priests.
The high-priest and other divine persons.We here speak of: Tooitong as if actually existing in his. full: rank, :with all the public honours of religious estimation ; but it will be recollected that before: Nr. Mariner’s departure from Eavaoo, the king had done away entirely with all the ceremonies formerly considered due to the divine character of this chief: and as this was done immediately after Tooitonga's death, his son did not succeed to this high title; so that, if affairs still remain in the same state at Eavaoo, there is at present no Tooitonga, and probably never again will be.
Tooitonga and Veachi are both acknowledged descendants of chief gods, who formerly visited the islands of Tonga; but whether their original
inothers were goddesses, or merely natives of Tonga, is a question which they do not pretend to decide. Of these two personages, Tooitonga,
be guessed from his title, is far higher in rank. The word imports chief of Tonga,' which island has always been considered the most noble of all the Friendly Islands; and from time immemorial the greatest chiefs have been accustomed to make it their principal place of residence, and after their decease to be buried there in the tombs of their ancestors. This island, moreover, gives name, by way of
preeminence, to all the islands taken collectively, as a capital town sometimes gives name to a county; and withal it has acquired the epithet of sacred, táboo, and is thus sometimes called Tongatáboo, denoting its excellence. From this circumstance it is erroneously noted down in our charts Tongataboo; but táboo is only an epithet occasionally used.
Thus all that need be said in this place of Tooitonga is, that he is by far the greatest egi or noble, having the credit of a divine origin, and that all respect and veneration is therefore due to him.
Veachi, as mentioned before, is another egi of divine origin, but far from being equal to Tooitonga. The king, indeed, avoids his presence, the same as he would that of Tooitonga;
and always pays him the usual obeisance when he happens to meet him: but he has no peculiar marks of high respect shewn to him as are shewn to Tooitonga ; that is to say, no ceremonies that are in themselves peculiar and different from what are shewn to other chiefs by their inferiors.
Priests, or fahe-gehe.—The term fahe-gehe means ' split off, separate, or distinct from,' and is applied to signify a priest or man who has a peculiar or distinct sort of mind or soul, differing from that of the generality of mankind, which disposes some god occasionally to inspire him.
The civil ranks of society are thus divided : -How, or king; egi, or nobles; matabooles; mooas and tooas.
Of the king. — The hou, or king, is an arbi. trary monarch, deriving his right to the throne partly from hereditary succession and partly from military power, which latter he is occasionally obliged to exert to secure himself in the former. His power and influence over the minds of the people is derived from the following circumstances, namely, hereditary right; supposed protection of the gods, if he is the lawful heir ; his reputation as a warrior ; the nobility of his descent; and, last but not least, the strength and number of his fighting men.
He, of course, possesses the greatest power of any ;
individual; but in respect to rank, as before observed, he is differently circumstanced. In this last particular, not only Tooitonga, Veachi, and priests actually inspired, are superior to him, but even several other nobles are higher in rank, not as to office or power, but as to blood or descent: for nobility consists in being related either to Tooitonga, Veachi, or the How, and the nearer any family is related to them the nobler it is : those related to Tooi. tonga being nobler than those equally related to Veachi, and those related to this latter being inore noble than those equally related to the How. Hence it appears that there must be many egies more noble than even the king himself; and to such the king, meeting them, must shew the same marks of respect as are usual from an inferior to a superior ; and if he were to touch any thing personally belonging to the superior chief, as himself or his garments, or the mat on which he sleeps, he becomes tabooed, as it is termed, or under the prohibition to feed himself with his own hands; or if he does, it is at the risk of becoming diseased, or suffering some other calamity from the gods as a punishment. But from this taboo he can readily free himself, by performing the ceremony of móë-móë, which consists in touching
with both hands the feet of the superor chief, or of one equal to him.
Egi, or nobles.-All those persons are egi, or nobles, or chiefs (for we have used these terms synonimously), who are any way related either to the family of the Tooitonga, or Veachi, or the How, and all and nobody else but chiefs have the privilege of freeing people from the taboo, under circumstances and in the manner related in the above paragraph.
In every family nobility descends by the female line; for where the mother is not a noble the children are not nobles. posing the father and mother to be nearly equal by birth, the following is the order in which the individuals of the family are to be ranked, viz. the father, the mother, the eldest son, the eldest daughter, the second son, the second daughter, &c.; or, if there be no children, the next brother to the man, then the sister, the second brother, the second sister, &c. But if the woman is more noble than the man, then her relations, in like manner, take precedence in rank; but they do not inherit his property. All the children of a female noble are without exception nobles.
Matabooles. These rank next to the chiefs : they are a sort of honourable attendants upon chiefs; are their companions, counsellors, and