« ForrigeFortsæt »
true to their wives; and where they have any o ther amour it is kept a secret from the wife, not out of any fear or apprehension, but because it is unnecessary to excite her jealousy, and make her perhaps unhappy; for, to the honour of the men, it must be said, that they consult in no small degree the happiness and comfort of their wives. In such a case of amour, the female he is attached to never offers to associate with the wife during the time she cohabits with the husband; for this would be thought a great insult, though afterwards she may, as freely as if nothing had happened, even though the wife may have known of the transaction. The women of course feel occasionally much jealousy, but it is seldom strongly expressed, and very rarely produces any fatal consequences. Pride generally causes them to conceal this passion. With respect to the unmarried men, their conduct is of course free, but they seldom make any deliberate attempts upon the chastity of other men's wives. Rape, however, sometimes happens, and young chiefs are the perpetrators. But if a woman is known to be married, even though her husband be only a tooa, it would most likely save her from this outrage. When a woman is taken a prisoner (in war), she generally has to submit; but this is a thing of course, and considered neither an outrage nor a dishonour.
When all things are taken into consideration regarding the connubial system of these people, their notions of chastity, and their habits in respect of it, we shall have no reason to say but what they keep tolerably well within those bounds which honour and decency dictate; and if it be asked what
effect this system has upon the welfare and happiness of society, it may be safely answered, that there is not the least appearance of any bad effect. The women are very tender, kind mothers, and the children are taken exceeding good care of: for even in case of divorce, the children of any age (requiring parental care) go with the mother, it being considered her province to superintend their welfare till they grow up; and there is never any dispute upon this subject. Both sexes appear contented and happy in their relations to each other. As to domestic quarrels, they are seldom known; but this must be said to happen rather from the absolute power which every man holds in his own family: for even if his wife be of superior rank, he is nevertheless of higher authority in all domestic matters, and no woman entertains the least idea of rebelling against that authority; and if she should, even her own relations would not take her part, unless the conduct of her husband were undoubtedly cruel. That the men are also capable of much paternal affection, Mr Mariner has witnessed many proofs, some of which have been related; and we have already mentioned that filial piety is a most important duty, and appears to be universally felt.
Upon these grounds we would venture to say, that the natives of these islands are rather to be considered a chaste than a libertine people, and that, even compared with the most civilized nations, their character in this respect is to be rated at no mean height; and if a free intercourse could exist with European society, it is a matter of great doubt (whatever might be the change in their sentiments), if their habits or dispositions in this re
spect would be much improved by copying the examples of their instructors. If, on the other hand, we compare them to the natives of the Society Islands, and the Sandwich Islands, we should add insult to injustice.
We have thus endeavoured to give a just and impartial view of these people, as far as regards their notions and practices of the most important points of morality, trusting that the account will be found useful and interesting. A great deal more might, no doubt, have been said; but the farther we enter into minutiæ upon such a subject, the more we are likely to form an erroneous opinion; whilst the general outlines may be given without so much danger of being deceived; and what may be thought imperfect in this sketch, the intelligent reader will be able to supply according to his own judgment, by his attentive perusal of other parts of the work. If, for instance, it be objected that we have not taken into consideration the question of their being anthropophagi, we reply, that all the instances that can any way go to substantiate their character in this respect, and which happened during Mr Mariner's stay there, have been faithfully mentioned, with the motives and occasions of them: from which, we think it is easy to draw the conclusion, that they by no means deserve this opprobrious name. Although a few young ferocious warriors chose to imitate what they considered a mark of courageous fierceness in a neighbouring nation, it was held in disgust by every body else.
As attention to religious ceremonies forms an important feature in the character of the Tonga people, and as they consider that any neglect in this respect would amount to a crime, which the gods would punish with the most severe temporal inflictions, it becomes necessary to give a particular account of them. The punishments which they consider themselves liable to, for disrespect to the gods and neglect of religious rites, are chiefly conspiracies, wars, famine, and epidemic diseases, as public calamities; and sickness and premature death, as punishments for the offences of individuals. These evils, whenever they happen, are supposed to proceed immediately from the gods, as visitations for their crimes.
There is no public religious rite whatsoever, and scarcely any in private, at which the ceremony of drinking cava does not form a usual and often a most important part; for which reason, although cava is taken on other occasions several times daily, we shall endeavour to give a full description of its preparation and form of distribution, before we proceed to those ceremonies which are more strictly religious. The root which they term cáva, and by which name the plant producing it is also called, belongs to a species
of the pepper plant. It is known by the same name at the Fiji Islands; but at the Navigator's Islands (which the Tonga people also visit), at the Society Islands, and at the Sandwich Islands, it is universally called ava. At all these places it is used for the same or similar purposes. The state in which it is taken is that of infusion. It is drunk every day by chiefs, matabooles, and others, as a luxury; the form of preparing and serving it out is the same, whether at a large party or a small one; the greatest order is observed during the whole time, and the rank of persons is particularly attended to. The following description we shall suppose to be of some grand occasion, either religious or political. At all cava parties, provisions are also shared out; but the habitual cava drinkers seldom eat more than a mouthful, and this they do to prevent the infusion, when drunk in large quantities, from affecting the stomach with nausea; but there are a few who will not even use this precaution. When the party is very large, it is held on a málai, for the sake of room, the chief who presides sitting within the eaves of the house: the time of the day is indifferent. Small cava parties are frequently held by torch light; but for religious ceremonies, whether of large or small parties, mostly in the morning. Women of rank never attend large public cava parties.
In the first place, we shall endeavour to describe the form and order in which the company and attendants sit. The chief who presides, and who is always the greatest chief present, sits about two feet, or perhaps three, within the eaves of the