Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

ed during his life time, and upon his death the common name is resumed.

Another singularity among the South Sea island, ers is disrespect for old age, The writer of the Voyage of the 'Duff inforins us, that a venerable priest, grandfather of the king, was scarcely noticed by those who visited Captain Wilson. And on that occasion one of the aged seamen was fre.. quently the object of their derision.

The reverse, however, appears to be the case at Tongataboo; for there the younger persons observe a respectful silence in the presence of the aged.

It is customary to preserve the bodies of the chiefs, and even those of their children. This is done by taking out the viscera, drying the body with a cloth, and anointing it, both internally and externally, with perfumed oil; which operation is frequently repeated. The agent is consequently deemed unclean, and may not touch provisions for the space of a month. The relations of the deg ceased perform their part of the tuneral rite, by presenting the corpse with a piece of cloth and some provisions. They indulge their superstition yet farther, by acting some of the more lender and affectionate scenes of life anew before the corpse. The shark's tooth is frequently employed, and the garments of the dead stained with the filowing blood. During the continuance of any noxious smell they cover the body with gar, lands of flowers, and anoint it with sweet-scented pil.

Upon the death of a king or chief, the corpse is çarried to eyery part where he had property, or where his particular friends reside; the funeral ce, remonies are repeated ; and after the regular tour, the body rests at the place of his usual residence.

These preserved bodies are keptabove ground, ar.d are liable to be taken prisoners in war. Nay, the person who seizes the body of a chieftain has a right io assume his name; consequently, in the time of war these are conveyed to ihe mountains: and it is customary also to iake- Captain Cook's picture along with them, because the loss of it would be equally aflictive as that of a chief; nay, the conqueror might, according to their law of succession, lay claim to the district allotted him.

Our readers may probably be gratified with the narrative of the following ceremony.

According to the editor of Cook's Voyages, Mr. Banks being informed that he could not be present unless he performed a particular part, consented thereto, rather than not have his curiosity gratified. Accordingly he repaired in the evening to the place where the body was deposited, and was there joined by the relations of the deceased, and afterwards by some other persons. The principal mourner had a very whimsical dress, although not altogether ungraceful.

Mr. Banks was constrained to change his Euro-, pean dress, and had no other covering than a piece of cloth, bound round his waist. His body, and the bodies of several others were blacked over with charcoal and water, and among the company were soine females,

The funeral procession then commenced, and the chief mourner, on approaching the body, ultered some words, which were judged to be a prayer; and he repeated these words as he came up in his own' house. They then went on, by permission, towards the fort. It is usual for the rest of the natives to shun these processions as niuch as possible; and therefore they ran into the wood immediately upon the view of the funeral procession.

From the fort, the mourners proceeded along the shore, crossed the river, entered the woods, passing several houses, from which the inhabitants Hled, and not a native was seen during the remainder of the procession. Those who assisted at the ceremony, bathed in the river, and then resumed their former dress. · We have already observed that the southern isles are loaded with an abundance of all the necessaries of life ; the inhabitants therefore pass their days in indolence: their years are spent without toil, nor are they subject to any controul.

The authority of a master, and the apprehension of want, are unknown. Their leisure is great, therefore invention is employed to divert the tedious hours Hence their sports and amusements are numer· The infancy of society, and the infancy of human life, are analogous. The child delights in sports and trifling amusements, and so do men in the infant state of society. The rudeness of an untutored mind also appears conspicuous in the amusements of uncultivated society. These observations are exemplified in the amusements of the inhabitants of the South-Sea islands.

The predilection for mu ic is very strong, and the mode of performing singular in the southern world. There the musicians perform on an instrument, somewhat resembling a flute; but the

performer blows with his nostril instead of his í mouth, and he is accompanied by others singing

a certain tune. The principles of his art are few, and these very imperfect.

There are also a kind of itinerant musicians, who

Ous.

afford entertainment to their countrymen by a tude concert of drums and futes. The drumiers sing to the music ; and it was the cause of no smali astonishment to the English, that they were the subject of their song. It is therefore obvious, that these songs must have been extempore effusions ; which evinces, that in some the power of ready invention is singularly strong, even among these untaught nalives. These songs consist of only two lines, and are frequently sung for evening amusements between sun-set and bed time. During this period, they burn candles made of an oily nut, fixing them one above another upon a small stick that is run through the middle. Some of these candles will burn a long time, and afford a very tolerable light.

The drums used in musical entertainments are formed of a circular piece of wood, hollow at one end only, which is covered with the skin of a shark, and beaten with the hand instead of a stick.

Man in an uncultivated state displays a fondness for power, and an exultation in his bodily strength. To be able to throw a weighty substance, or to throw a large stone to a considerable distance, and to have power over his companions, in consequence of superior strength, are things which delight the uncultivated peasant and tend to exalt him above his equals. The same operations of human nature display their existence in the uncivilized state of the southern islanders.

Proud of their bodily strength and agility, they are for the most part dexterous wrestlers. In chal. lenging each other to this combat, they strike the bend of the lett arm, and if left-handed, they reverse the stroke. The bended arm receives the hand upon its cavity, and emits a loud report. The man who accepts the challenge tlírows both his arms forward to seize his antagonist. Sometines a few engage in these combats, and sometimes à whole district. When the latter happens to be the case, both men and women wrestle, and the females are always honoured with 'wrestling first. The late visitors of that part of the world inform us, that the queen excels in this amusement; and when the women of any district are victorious, they immediately strike up a dance. The queen usually determines the number of falls which shall ascertain the victory, nor do the vanquished manifest the ‘least dissatisfaction. It is true, indeed, that in consequence'of the warmth of the female temper, the women usually bear their disappointment worse than the men, and exhibit stronger signs of anger at being overcome. When any one throws his antagonist, he walks round the spectators, clapping his hands, and the vanquished party retires in silence.

Feats of wrestling are sometimes performed for public entertainment. Captain Cook was en. tertained with one of these upon a visit to a chief, He and his associates were conducted to a courtyard, near the house of the chief, wlio was placed at the upper extremity of the area, and several of the principal men on each side, who appeared to be the judges of the contest. Ten or twelve com: batants entered the area ; after the usual modes of challenging they engaged, and each endeavoured to throw his antagonist by mere strength. Seizing each other by the hand or some other part of the body, artfully grappling until one, either by having

greater hold or possessing stronger muscular force, threw the other on his back,

VOL. X.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »