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Preliminary observations--Rank in society-Tooitongu-
Veachi-Inspired priests—The king-Nobles-Order of succession to rank-Matabooles-Mooas–Tooas--Professional classes of society, hereditary and otherwiseTable of the order of professions Succession to property-Old age-Female sex-Wives of chiefs-Adopie ed mothers-Concubines of chicfs-Arts practised by women-Children,
THE rank or estimation in which individuals' are beld in society at the Tonga islands may be most conveniently treated of, first, under three different points of view, viz. religious, civil and professional, with reference to their mythology, political subordination, and their arts and manufactures ; and secondly, with re.' ference to old age, female sex, and infancy. In this chapter, we propose to speak merely of rank in society, and the degree of rexpect due from one man to another; all wbich is determined in regard to every individual, by one or other, or more of the foregoing circumstances,
mythology, politics, arts, age, sex, and childhood.
To divide society into distinct classes, and to discourse of the degree of rank or respect accruing to individuals, accordingly as they may belong to one or other of these classes, would be a task very difficult to execute, and perhaps impossible in respect to the people of these islands; at least, not without making numerous exceptions and explanations, which would only be the means of rendering the description both tedious and complicate. For one and the same individual, (a priest,) who today is held in scarcely any estimation, may to-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 is yielded, on the score of religious circumstances; and these are Tooitonga, Veachi, and the priests.
We here speak of Tooitonga as if actually existing in his full rank, with all the public honours of religious estimation ; but it will be recollected, that before Mr. Mariner's departure from Vavaon 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 Vavaoo, there is at present no Tooitonga, and probably never again will be; but if there should happen some violent political change, it is possible the son of the late divine chief may be raised to that honour: we therefore speak of Tooitonga as if actually existing. The family name of Tooitonga is Patafehi, and the present head of the family, the only son (of legitimate rank,) is now a youth of about sixteen or seventeen years of age; his name is Fatafehi Low fili Tonga: he is still considered a chief of bigh rank, and has respect paid to him accordingly.
Tooitonga and Veachi are both acknow. ledged descendants of chief gods who formerly visited the islands of Tonga, but whether their original mothers were goddesses or merely natives of Tonga, is a question which they do not
pretend to decide. Of these two personages Tooitonga, as may 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 pre-eminence, to all the islands taken collectively, as a capital town sometimes gives name to a country; and withal it has acquired the epithet of sacred, táboo, and is thus sometimes called Tonga táboo, denoting its excellence; from this circumstance it is erroneously noted down in our charts Tongataboo; but táboo is only an epithet occasionally used. The respect which is shewn to Tooitonga, and the high rank which he holds in society, is wholly of a religious nature, and is far superior, when occasion demands it, to that which is shewn even to the king himself; for this latter, as will by and by be seen, is by no means of the most noble descent, but yields in this respect to Tooitonga, Veachi, and seyeral families related to them; and if the king were accidentally to meet any chief of nobler
descent than himself, he would have to sit down on the ground till the other had passed him, which is a mark of respect that a common peasant would be obliged to shew to any chief or egi whatsoever; and for this reason the king never associates with any chief superior to himself, and always endeavours to avoid meeting them, and they in like manner endeavour to avoid him, that he might not be put to the trouble of sitting down while they passed : for if any one were to forego this ceremony in presence of a superior egi, some calamity from the gods would be expected as a punishment for the omission. Sitting down is with them a inark of respect, as standing up is with us, before a superior ; upon the princi. ple perhaps, that in this posture a man cannot so readily attack or assassinate the person in Whose presence he is; or it may be that in this posture lowering his height is significant of his rank or merit being humbled in presence of the other. . There are many ceremonies which characterise the high respect and veneration shewn to Tooitonga; but as in this place we are discoursing of rank, not of ceremonies, the full description of the latter must be deferred till we come to speak of religious rites. Here we