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in all nations, whether in the east or west. Among the savages of North America, the enemies taken in war might either be adopted into the victorious tribe, to supply the loss sustained in a battle, or murdered under the most cruel torture, to satiate the revenge of the victors, or to appease the angry spirits of the slain.

The second class, called the bue raatira, comprehending the great body of the landowners who are not noble, have at all times been regarded as the main strength of the country. They hold their property on a tenure quite independent of the royal pleasure, and, in many cases, can boast that it has descended to them through a long line of ancestors. Some of them in their habits and possessions bear a certain resemblance to the old yeomen of England; dressing their own fields, improving their own plantations, building their own houses, and paying without a grudge their stated dues to the crown. The owners of more extensive estates constitute the real aristocracy of the country, and enjoy no small influence in its government. They are, generally speaking, regular, temperate, and industrious in their manner of life, and are found, on most occasions, to impose a restraint on the hasty measures of the king, who, without their aid, could not carry any important matters. As their means are ample, the number of their retainers is great in proportion; and hence the weight which they exercise in public affairs during peace as well as in war.

The highest class, or the hui arii, includes the sovereign, the immediate members of his family, and even all who are related to him in the most distant degree. This section of the inhabitants, though not numerous, enjoy great consideration; and their dignity is protected with much jealousy, not only by themselves, but by the people at large, who have been taught to regard their own honour as identified with the purity of the reigning house. Perhaps, also, this feeling may be partly ascribed to the very obvious policy of limiting within the narrowest bounds the number of individuals whose privileges, as a sacred order, might be felt incon

venient. But the arii, we are assured, are not less desirous to maintain unchallenged the grounds of their high distinction, and to hand it down uncontaminated to their offspring. With this view, whenever a matrimonial connexion takes place between one of them and an individual of inferior rank, the children are destroyed.

Though the king succeeds to his office at the hour of his birth, a period is fixed for his inauguration. This ceremony takes place when he assumes the government in his own person, and is usually celebrated with much rude magnificence, not unmixed with the rites of a cruel idolatry. The details are given at considerable length by the missionaries; but to a reader unaccustomed to the mystical language and grotesque forms of the pageant, these are necessarily in a great measure unintelligible. The substance of this state solemnity consists in investing the sovereign with the maro, or girdle of red feathers, which at once raises him to the highest earthly station, and gives him a place among the celestial progenitors of his race. Vancouver relates that a change of language, to some extent, was introduced whenever a young ruler obtained the belt of royalty; applying as well to the names of the chiefs as to forty or fifty of the most common words. As might be expected, the new terms produced a very material difference in those family-tables of affinity preserved among the higher class, and which are said to be constructed with great attention. Later writers make no mention of this innovation in style, whence we may conclude, that it was confined to the island in which he witnessed it, or that he did not fully comprehend the information he received. He adds, indeed, that the perplexities connected with the narrative were materially increased by the difficulty of obtaining the truth from men who have a constant desire to avoid giving offence even in the slightest degree.*

Such were the exalted notions entertained of regal authority at the court of Otaheite; and the phraseology

* Vancouver, vol. i. p. 135. Ellis, vol. iii. p. 112.

of the people with regard to the reception of the red girdle was not less elevated. The adulation addressed to the prince, and the inflated terms in which his greatness was described, were not less pompous than those used in the presence of a Chinese emperor or a Turkish sultan. Not only was it declared that Oro, the god of war, was the father of the king, but his houses were called the clouds of heaven, his canoe was denominated the rainbow, his voice was thunder, the torches in his palace were styled lightning, and his movement from one district to another, though on the shoulders of a porter, was expressed by the metaphor of flying through the air. But the majesty of Polynesian thrones is not in all respects consistent; for the same potentate who at one time appears decked with the most splendid of royal insignia, surrounded by priests and venerated as a god, is at another time seen stooping to the most ordinary occupations, and holding equal converse with the lowest of his domestics.

The household was maintained by the produce of the hereditary lands, and also by certain supplies exigible from the principal proprietors of the soil. The former being seldom found sufficient for the wants of the palace, application appears to have been regularly made to the raatiras, who, without submitting to any fixed rule, held themselves bound to comply with the demands of the king's steward at his periodical visits. The provisions thus granted were not unfrequently cooked and ready for the royal table; cloth was also presented for dresses to the servants; and, on some occasions, these aids extended to canoes, and even to houses, when his majesty happened to visit parts of his dominions where he had no convenient residence.*

Although in theory the government of the Georgian and Society Islands might be pronounced despotic, in

* Every reader must observe the resemblance between these usages and the purveyance and maintenance at one time common in England.

practice it was found to admit a large portion of popular influence, as exercised by the owners of land, the natural representatives of an agricultural people. The king had usually near his person one confidential chief, who, officiating as prime minister, advised him in all matters of importance; but this high functionary, unlike those in more regular constitutions, was not responsible to any class of persons for the counsel he might happen to give. So great, however, was the authority of the raatiras, that no decision involving the momentous question of peace or war, was ever adopted without their concurrence. The national assemblies were commonly held in the open air, and the utmost freedom of speech was allowed to every one whose rank entitled him to a place and a voice in their deliberations. Orators appeared on each side in all cases where the matter under consideration admitted of debate ; and the king himself usually took a part in the discussion, urging his own views without any reserve. The speakers, on most occasions, possessed greater control over their reason than over their passions; and it was not uncommon to see a difference of opinion, after being pressed in angry words, followed by scenes of fury and bloodshed. If it was resolved to go to war, each chieftain retired to his own district, summoned his retainers, put arms into their hands, and prepared to lead them forth to join the banner of the sovereign.

Whenever a measure was adopted which concerned the great body of the inhabitants, a messenger was despatched throughout the island, who, after the manner of the ancient Celts, carried in his hand an emblematical proclamation, to which every loyal subject was ready to give obedience. Instead of the fiery cross, the royal envoy in the Georgian Islands displayed a bunch of twigs bearing their green leaves; and when he entered the lands of a chief, he repaired instantly to his house, presented a single leaf, and forthwith delivered the orders of the king. If the token was accepted, the raatira was understood to express his compliance with the injunction

thereby conveyed to him; but if he declined to receive it, his opposition to the policy of the government in this particular case was held to be distinctly manifested. To refuse, indeed, or to return the proffered leaf, was in general deemed equivalent to an act of rebellion; and if the monarch found himself sufficiently strong, the refractory vassal was not long allowed to pass without due punishment.

In a state of society so simple, it will not appear surprising that there was no regular code of laws, nor any courts of justice; and hence, except in offences against the supreme authorities, the rulers were seldom called upon to interpose the exercise of power. Personal security and the rights of property were enforced no farther than the influence of the chiefs could be exerted in behalf of their respective dependents; and those who had little hope of succeeding by an appeal to arms, were content to adopt the alternative of submitting to whatever wrongs or loss might be inflicted on them. Among the lower class, retaliation for theft or personal violence usually superseded every other rule of jurisprudence ; a principle which was so generally recognised, that the offenders seldom resisted, knowing that the claims of the injured party would be supported by the great body of the people throughout the district. In no respect were their actions and practice less regular than in crimes against chastity; for while lewdness was hardly regarded as offensive to good manners, adultery was sometimes punished with death. So lax on other occasions were their sentiments on this head, that when a husband adopted a taio or friend, his wife was understood to be their common property; while those in the higher rank who practised polygamy, saw nothing wrong when their ladies attached themselves to other men, if duly recommended.

The sanction of law in the South Sea, as elsewhere, rested chiefly on the authority of religion; and there

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