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18th May 1777-the capture of the Port au Prince, and the atrocious circumstances attending it the assassination of Tooba Nuha-and the treachery of Tarky, chief of the garrison of Bea? 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 epithets 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 there is 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 then, it would not be actually dishonourable. 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 extended to two or three hundred, although these are perhaps only the unwilling instruments,
obedient because it is their duty: 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 acknowledge it to be wrong; but add, that he 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 the better to effect his object. In respect to the intended assassination of Captain Cook, every native of Tonga would have considered it, if it had taken place, a very base act, for which probably the gods would have punished them. Toobo Nuha's assassination of Toogoo Ahoo was esteemed rather a virtue than a crime; but that of Toobo Nuha, by Toobo Toa, was looked upon with universal detestation. An old mataboole used to say, that useless and unprovoked murder was highly offensive to the gods; and that he never remembered a man guilty of it but who either lived unhappily, or came to an untimely end.
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 ships, it is nevertheless not approved
of. Their excuse is the strength of the temptation: the chiefs that would do it are, however, few. From the above considerations, we are disposed to say, that the notions of the Tonga people, in et to honour and justice, as we have above
them, are tolerably well defined, steady and
universal; but that, in point of practice, both the chiefs and the people, taking them generally, are irregular and fickle; though there are several admirable exceptions, whose characters become more splendid and meritorious by the contrast.
As being closely allied with principles of honour and justice, we shall now examine the character of these people, as it regards their opinion of one another; and here we shall find something greatly to admire, and much to be approved of. While we accuse them of treachery and cruelty, they as loudly cry out that we are calumniators and detractors; for no bad moral habit appears to a native of Tonga more ridiculous, depraved, and unjust, than publishing the faults of one's acquaintances and friends; for while it answers no profitable purpose, it does a great deal of mischief to the party who suffers; and as to downright calumny or false accusation, it appears to them more horrible than deliberate murder does to us. It is better, they think, to assassinate a man's person than to attack his reputation. In the first case, you only cause his death, which must happen to him some time or another; but in the latter, you take from him what otherwise he might have carried with him faultless to the grave, and which afterwards might have remained attached to his memory. And they not only hold this as a just and honourable principle, but they put it in practice; so that instances of calumny and defamation are very rare. On the other hand, they equally avoid the baseness of flattery; and even where a man has performed some achievement really praiseworthy, they seldom commend him in his presence, lest it should make him vain. In regard to humanity, or a fellow
feeling for one another, much is to be said on both sides of the question. The sentiment itself is universally approved of, and they speak highly of Europeans for their mild and humane conduct. It must be confessed, however, that they do not so extensively practise it, at least according to our notions, nor even, we may add, according to their own; which must be attributed in some to a want of thought, and want of feeling, particularly in boys and young lads; and in the older branches of society to motives of revenge, which, if it be for some serious injury, is deemed almost a virtue. We are here speaking of the men; as to the women, they are universally humane. A few, indeed, of the principal wives of chiefs are proud and haughty, and consequently tyrannical; but, considering the women generally, they are exceedingly benevolent; and though in their talkativeness, as in other parts of the world, they naturally speak of one another's faults, it is usually of such as are of a trifling nature, and without any malice, being mostly in the way of humour or joke. As to considerable faults, such as a woman's infidelity to her husband, it would remain as much a secret with any of her own sex, (if they accidently knew it), as it possibly could with herself! Quarrels among the women are very rare. There is a lesser species of humanity, known commonly by the term good-nature, which is universally prevalent among the men as well as the women, and which in general is plainly depicted in their countenances.
The next subject we shall consider is chastity. In respect to this, their notions are widely different from those of most European nations. We must, therefore, first examine what are their own ideas
regarding it, and if they are such as are consistent with public decorum and due order and regularity in the social state, without tending to enervate the mind or debase the character of man, we shall take those ideas as the standard by their adherence to which we shall judge them. But here it may be asked how are we to judge whether their own notions upon this subject are consistent with the good order of society? To this we can make no other answer than by referring to the actual state of society there, and pointing out those evils which be supposed to arise from their wrong notions upon this subject. In the first place, it is universally considered a positive duty in every married woman to remain true to her husband. What we mean by a married woman is, one who cohabits with a man, and lives under his roof and protection, holding an establishment from him. A woman's marriage is frequently independent of her consent, she having been betrothed by her parents, at an early age, to some chief, mataboole or mooa; and perhaps about one third of the married women have been thus betrothed. Every married woman must remain with her husband whether she choose it or not, until he please to divorce her. Mr Mariner thinks that about two thirds of the women are married, and of this number full one half remain with their husbands till death separates them; that is to say, full one third of the female population remain married till either themselves or their husbands die: the remaining two thirds are married and are soon divorced, and are married again perhaps three, four, or five times in their lives, with the exception of a few who, from whim or some accidental cause,