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the present adventurer had not, for himself, any violent cause to reproach them. For the most part they treated him like a gentle
In his first recorded journey of local investigation he was accompanied by a considerable band of their young men, mostly sons of chiefs, who served him very effectually as guides, carriers, wood-cutters, and cooks, proud to form the suite of an European personage. There was an eager competition for the honour of bearing his worship, horsed on the back, through a stream or swamp, while every one of them would have disdained to perform this or any other servile office for an indigenous squire. He was generally received with marks of respect; had seldom any serious cause for apprehending danger; and on the whole seems to have been much at his ease among them. He made all good-humoured allowance for attempts at imposition, in cajoling promises, not meant to be fulfilled, in protestations of disinterested friendship, or in overrating the value of articles trafficked, or services rendered, or to be rendered. It is curious to see, sometimes, what they thought they could make the European gentleman believe; or at least thought it worth the trial. He had accepted the dirty hand of a celebrated old priest of Araitehuru, the Taniwoa, or aquatie
deity of the headlands of a harbour ;' who solemnly assured him that if such compliment had been declined, he would have raised such storms that the beach on which he was then travelling would have been impassable, the means of conveyance dashed in pieces, and a bitter repentance inflicted. And he pointed to a heavy surf, breaking on a bar two miles off, and declared it was by his potent restraint that it was kept raging at that safe distance, in spite of its being furiously actuated by the Taniwoa. The sham with which the protégé returned thanks for this important service, would seem to have made the old rogue believe that his pretensions were admitted, for he capered with delight. But, nothing • for nothing,' the reckoning came, and there was great difficulty to settle the account for so mighty a benefit with a head of tobacco.'
How the generic sentiment of religion has been perverted to all uses of cupidity, mischief, and farce! And in its depraved forms what a much more general and active interference it may have than is, for the most part, seen where the right notion of it is admitted, and it therefore claims the authority and influence of truth. The superstition of these islanders would seem as intrusively to interfere with and pervade the economy of life as that of the comparatively refined and intellectual Hindoos. It is rather a difficult problem how so lawless, fierce, and capricious a race can have come to yield themselves submissive to any thing that inflicts on them so many annoyances and arbitrary interdictions. It might have been imagined that whatever aptitude there might be in so rude a nature to be imposed on, there would still, in so wild
gravity and rapacious a nature, have been a powerful impulse to spurn the constant vexatious intervention of an authority so fantasticaiiy arbitrary, and so easily subjected to the test of defiance.
They are infested with an ever-growing swarm of demons, denominated Atuas. These are the souls of dead chiefs, haunting the places where they lived or died, assuming occasionally a temporary incarnation in birds, lizards, and what not; and with as much disposition and power to do mischief as when they had been the owners as well as inhabitants of bodies. And it is a striking illustration of what the people actually experience of power in their fellow mortals, that they deem it always combined with malignity in its defunct possessors. The atua is always ready to wreak some spite. Fail to do what he exacts, or do any thing to offend him in the slightest degree, even though unintentionally or inadvertently, and he is sure to play the very devil. If he but wants a little amusement, you are likely to know of it by some mischance that shall befall you. Distempers, pains, unlucky accidents, losses, frights, bad weather, storms—it is the atua that has been at work. The case is mentioned of a young man sutfering a severe pain of the bowels; the cause was obvious; the atua had taken possession of his interior; and much at his ease (the atua's ease) was gnawing and devouring it. A priest was had in to eject him by a ceremony of alternate coaxing and threatening.
As these noxious agents can work their purposes out of reach of revenge, and with greater facility and power than when in the mortal state, it may be supposed that the atuas-that-are-to-be should feel the less repugnance to the thought of death. The case, it seems, is so, but with a whimsical and rather inconvenient circumstance of exception; which also forms an exception to the common creed of both barbarous and civilized nations relative to the matter of falling in battle.
• The chiefs suppose that their left eye after death ascends to heaven and becomes a star. They are fearful of being killed in war ; as it is supposed, in that case, their titular divinityship forsakes them, and they become serviceable only to add effulgence to the star of their conqueror.'
Notwithstanding a fantasy so little congenial with the brave nobility of heroism, they have anticipations which enable them to settle a somewhat advantageous account, prospectively, with death.
• The apotheosis of a chief takes place immediately on his decease; the feeling of pride which elates him on his supposed divine exaltation, and that of the exhumation of his bones in after years, when his prowess and deeds of valour will be sung by hundreds of his affectionate followers, cause him rather to welcome death than shun it.'
-Vol. ii. p. 71.
The notion of the untoward fate of a chief slain in battle, will, indeed, be a stimulus to eager and desperate violence when he comes into actual conflict; but it must be a strong incitement to the practice of destroying an enemy in the way of treachery and surprise. This degrading doom must admit of exceptions ; for, on passing a rotten memorial of a great warrior chief who had fallen in battle, and whose head had been secured, dried, and preserved as a trophy by the hostile party, our author was assured that the demolished champion was become a formidable river-god, active in the proper business of his station, that is to say, 'up
setting canoes, and playing divers feats of a similar nature, such as causing the river at times to be impassible, by raising heavy swells, as some satisfaction for the detention of his head. Å bird, of a common species, that happened to be perched and uttering its monotonous note on the monumental post, was instantly recognized and dreaded by the party as the vehicle of the atua; and caused, after its disappearance, a very serious consultation as to the purport of the threatenings, presumed to have been pronounced by him in the person of this poor flutterer.
Under the denomination of Reinga, they delieve there is, somewhere aloft, a city or region of the dead, where the spirits are as numerous as the sand;' where they enjoy, as the greatest happiness of spirits, excellent good cheer; and all is pleasant, except that no fighting is allowed. We know not what authority it can be that keeps the peace; for the chiefs (the magistracy, as one would suppose), feel so strongly the necessity of some such pleasurable excitement, that ever and anon they are descending for a while to the earth, to haunt the scenes of their former earthly exploits, to perpetrate such mischiefs as may well raise among the unprivileged mortals the envy of such power combined with such impunity. One spot on the coast is mentioned as being reputed in a peculiar manner the place of exit of spirits passing to the Reinga. The only vegetation on the accli. vity is a long spear grass, and a kind of creeping plant which runs in strong fibres up the sand-hills. This serves as a ladder for the spirits to climl)" by. "The wrath of the natives would be
unbounded were these steps cut away by the wantonness of Europeans.'
'If the spirit belonged to a village in the interior, it is supposed to carry with it some tufts or leaves, of such shrubs or branches of trees as flourish most in the place where they had their residence on earth. These tufts are called wakaous, or remembrancers ; and the spirits, it is said, leave one of the cards’ in every place where they may have rested, according to custom, on the way to the Reinga.'
245. They acknowledge the white man's atua to be more powerful
than any of their own; and say that to him they owe the introduction of certain malignant diseases. There is a plentiful nuisance of priests, with a sprinkling of priestesses. They manage what business is to be done with and about the atuas, including the trade of doctors, conjurors, and fortune-tellers. They are ultra privileged; for they seem to lose nothing of their eredit by the failure of their incantations and predictions; having always plausible explanations, in the alleged caprices or spite of the atuas; and these explanations go down with the gulled populace. It is the gods that are at fault for whatever comes amiss.
• Priests possess the gift of prescience, and are supposed to foretell to an hour what is likely to happen ; and should the contrary to the prediction take place, it is accounted for that the atua is in an illhumour, thus venting his bile on the priest ; whose flock observe, • Nu Tilani,' man no fool ; so they return the supposed anger of the atua, with double applause on the priest, and a proportionate contempt on the faulty divinity, who is unable to know his own mind—which is a national feature.'-Vol. ii. p. 246.
Since, according to our author, the sacerdotal profession, supplied most commonly from the families of the chiefs, is taken up as a convenient, respectable, and profitable resource, without any special qualification for its employments, we might wonder (as nothing similar is seen any where else) how these personages can have acquired such a hold on the minds of the people. There are some, indeed, who venture, in words, to make light of the priestly character and claims; but their infidelity is apt to shrink when put to the trial. There is, virtually, a spiritual court to deal with them.
• The younger relations who possess but little in worldly goods in respectable families, generally take to this profession. There are many sensible natives who laugh at this class of men ; but these free-thinkers, by the force of habit or example, succumb to the crafty old men on being taken ill; but no sooner recover than they become again faithless. The priests do not fail to notice these independents, and they are doubly mulcted when taken unwell.'---Vol. ii. p. 245.
These sages are the oracles consulted respecting the commencement, the continuance, or the cessation of war. A victory brings them double work, that of soothsaying and that of privileged eating. • When the body of a principal enemy is to be cut up, “partly roasted, and tasted by these people, auguries are elicited
by the appearance of the intestines ; and on their position and taste depends the renewal or the cessation of the contest.' "The
priests eat wholly [i. e. we suppose, they alonc] of the first body slain in battle; the chiefs and people partake of all that may be
“slain after. Thanks and offerings are presented to Tu, the native Mars, and to Wiro, the evil spirit.' (Mr. P. should have indicated whether these be regarded as of generically superior nature and origin to the atuas into which mere human spirits are manufactured.) A female chief when slain, is cut up and sacri'ficed by priestesses; that is, if the men have sufficient subjects in • hand of their own sex.
These feminine incarnations of Satan • are treated with much respect, are believed and trusted with the same implicit faith as the priests.'
The ritual for the celebration of victory is not content with merely satisfying the demands of superstition and cannibal taste.
• Among other refinements in barbarity, practised on those occasions, the dissections take place before the captured relatives, who are made witnesses of the horrible fate of their friends. And when the endearing affection with which these people view each other among their families, is considered, it is impossible to conceive the agony and horror of the miserable children, and the enslaved wives and relations, whose strength as a tribe is perhaps broken for ever, Yet it is certain, that after some time, when the memory no longer lingers on the losses they have sustained, the captured people throw their affections on the tribe who conquered them; and I have seen many thus circumstanced, who in after years have been on visits to the villages where they were born, and the relatives from whom they were torn, and have always returned to their conquerors, having formed new connexions and tastes.'
– Vol. ii. p. 249. The author does not appear to have actually witnessed one of the orgies of cannibalism. But no one thing in the habits of these islanders was more plainly and uniformly attested to him than the wide prevalence of that practice. It was as constant a part as slaughter itself of every story of war; a luxury combining triumph, revenge, and epicurism. It was related as the result of more than one sanguinary conflict, of a recent time, that many • of the victors killed themselves by gluttony in devouring human • flesh. No wonder at this fatal effect in one of the instances; since of a thousand men slain of the defeated army, one fourth part were devoured on the same day, on the spot, by the conquerors, who were to the number of three thousand at the commencement of the battle (the greatest battle, in point of numbers, within the memory or traditions of the people). But the practice is not confined to formal war. It is a gratification additional to that of revenge in treacherous murders. Slaves are sometimes less valued for their services, than as materials for gluttonous debauch. We can recollect to have seen an affectation of scepticism as to the existence, any where, of such a practice; any doubt pretended with respect to the New Zealanders would be simply ridiculous.
In the savage conflict just referred to, the commander of the