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THE ROYAL MARRIAGE.
WHILE some of the natives of the South Seas were crossing the ocean to spread the gospel, those at home were not unmindful of the blessed cause. In Tahiti and the neighbouring islands there were yearly meetings (or anniversaries) of the Missionary Society held every May.
The anniversary held at the Royal Mission Chapel this year was particularly interesting, on account of the presence of the little Pomare, who was not quite two years old. He was chosen president of the society instead of his father, and was therefore placed in the chair, being held in the arms of a chief named Hitote. It was delightful to behold a royal infant in such a situation! What throne could become him so well, as the seat in which he was placed for the purpose of advancing the king. dom of Him, who had given him a kingdom, and who is himself the King of kings! Who cannot but desire that every monarch, both young and old, in every country beneath the
SUBSCRIPTIONS TO MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
sun, occupied such a post! The day, however, shall come when all kings shall fall down before the Son of God, and count it the highest honour to do him honour. Ps. lxxii. 11.
The account of the contributions made by the people during the year was read aloud by Upaparu. Though nearly ten thousand bamboos* of oil had been subscribed, besides twentyfour pigs, two hundred and sixty-seven balls of arrowroot, and one hundred and ninety-one baskets of cotton, yet the chiefs regretted that the amount had not been greater, and one of them observed in his little speech,“ Where do we lay out our strength ? Is it for God or the devil ? For this world or the next?”
This meeting was both begun and ended by singing and prayer.
Mr. Tyerman and Mr. Bennet were not present on this occasion, for they were then at the Sandwich Islands. On their return they continued for some time longer to go from island to island, as they had before done, and to note down those things that struck them.
They observed the strict manner in which crimes were punished by the chiefs. It was not to be expected that all the people would be pious, or even obedient to the laws ; it was therefore necessary that punishments should be inflicted. Parents in former times did not correct their
* A bamboo contains nearly three quarts.
COURT OF JUDGMENT.
children, but now they took much pains with their disobedient children. One father who had a very rebellious son, after reproving him, placed him in a basket in the roof. A missionary, who entered, was surprised to see legs hanging down from the ceiling, and was then told that a boy was in the basket, and would be taken down by-and-by.
There were many rebellious young people in the islands, who committed crimes, for which they were brought before the judges.
Mr. Bennet and Mr. Tyerman were present on one of these occasions, and have given the following account of it.
The court of judgment they visited was under a large spreading tree near the chapel at Papetoai in Eimeo. Around the tree long benches were placed, on which thirty chiefs, who were judges, sat. The chief judge was distinguished from the rest, by a bunch of black and red feathers in his straw hat. In other respects he was clothed, like the rest, in handsome native clothing. The criminals were two young men, accused of stealing bread-fruit. They were led in, and desired to sit on the ground beneath the tree. The judge rose, and calling upon the young men also to stand up, told them that they were certainly guilty, for they had been detected in the theft, and represented to them how great a fault they had committed.
PUNISHMENT FOR THEFT.
One of the young men immediately confessed his guilt, and owned that he had persuaded his companion to join with him in the theft.
It was pleasing to hear this frank confession. Such confessions were usually made by the guilty, so that witnesses were seldom necessary. The chief judge consulted with the other chiefs, respecting the punishment to be inflicted on the youths, and then sentenced them each to build twenty-four feet of a wall, round a royal garden of taro. The culprits were asked whether they agreed to the sentence, and they replied that they did.
The usual punishment for theft was to restore four times as much as the value of the thing stolen, but the judges were allowed to appoint any other punishment, if they thought fit. This was a defect in the laws, as it sometimes led people to think they were unjustly treated. Criminals were also allowed to receive the assistance of their friends in performing the tasks appointed them. A son was often helped by his father in his work, and a young chief by his companions.
Very strange punishments were sometimes inflicted upon offenders. In the island of Raiatea, two deep pits were once dug on the side of a hill ; each was about fifteen feet deep, and was smaller at the top than at the bottom, so that it appeared impossible to climb up the
PUNISHMENT FOR TATTOOING.
sides. A woman who had run away from her husband, and got herself tattooed, was put in one of these pits, and the man who tattooed her in the other. They were told they must remain there till they asked forgiveness, and promised to return to their duty. While they continued in the pits, they were fed on a little bread-fruit and water.
At the end of two days, some loose earth falling upon the woman, she thought a spirit was coming to torment her, and by making very great efforts she contrived to escape from her prison, and returning home, asked her husband to forgive her, which he willingly did. After some time the man also showed signs of sorrow, and was released.
It may be thought hard by some, that people were not allowed to be tattooed, or to tattoo others. But the chiefs had forbidden these practices for very wise reasons. They knew that God in his word has commanded men not to make cuttings in their flesh, and they also found that when the natives chose to be tattooed, they soon returned to many other of their old heathen habits. 111-disposed young people were very determined in their resolution to be tattooed, and would have one limb after another thus marked, in spite of a punishment after each offence.
These obstinate offenders were made useful to