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this chapter a general summary of the punishments for various crimes, with some characteristic illustrations.
• Theft is punished by fine, repayment in kind, loss of a finger, or clubbing. Either fine, or loss of the finger, ear, or nose, is inflicted on the disrespectful. The other crimes are punished with death, the instrument being the club, the noose, or the musket. Adultery taxes vindictive ingenuity the most. For this offence, the criminals may be shot, clubbed, or strangled; the man may lose his wife, who is seized, on behalf of the aggrieved party, by his friends; he may be deprived of his land, have his house burnt, his canoe taken away, or his plantations destroyed.'
An instance of the mode and results of the punishment of death follows:
"Sometimes a little form is observed, as in the case of the Vasu to Vuna. This manconspired against the life of Tuikilakila; but the plot was discovered, and the Vasu brought to meet death at Somosomo. His friends prepared bim, according to the custom of Fiji, by folding a large new masi about his loins, and oiling and blacking his body as if for war. A necklace and a profusion of ornaments at his elbows and knees completed the attire. He was then placed standing, to be shot by a man suitably equipped. The shot failed, when the musket was exchanged for a club, which the executioner broke on the Vasu's head; but neither this blow, nor a second from a more ponderous weapon, succceded in bringing the young man to the ground. The victim now ran toward the spot where the king sat, perhaps with the hope of reprieve; but was felled by a death-blow from the club of a powerful man standing by. The slain body was cooked and eaten. One of the baked thighs the king sent to his brother, who was principal in the plot, that he might“ taste how sweet his accomplice was, and eat of the fruit of his doings.” This is a fair sample of a Fijian public execution.'
War develops a degree of forocity more than inhuman in this savage race. The following is one of the punishments of a prisoner :'A large bundle of dry cocoa-nut
leaves is bound across the shoulders of the offender, so as to pinion him effectually. The ends of the bundle, which project several fect on either side, are then ignited, and the bearer of the burning mass is turned loose, to run wherever his torment may drive him. The exultation of the spectators rises in proportion as the agony of the sufferer becomes more intensc.'
Another:• Captives are sometimes taken, and are treated with incredible barbarity. Some have been given up to buys of rank, to practice their ingenuity in torture. Some, when stunned, were cast into hot ovens; and when the fierce heat brought them back to consciousness, and urged them to fearful struggles to escape, the loud laughter of the spectators bore witness to their joy at the scene. Children have been hung by their feet from the mast-head of a canoe, to be dashed to death, as the rollings of the vessel swung them heavily against the mast.'
The celebration of triumph is thus described :
• The return of a victorious party is celebrated with the wildest joy; and if they bring the bodies of the slain focs, the excitement of the women, who go out to welcome the returning warriors, is intense. This custom of the women greeting the conquerors at once suggests a comparison with Eastern, and especially Hebrew, usage. But among the Fijians, all that could be admired in the other case is brutalized and abominable. The words of the women's songs may not be translated; nor are the obscene gestures of their dance, in which the young virgins are compelled to take part, or the foul insults offered to the corpses of the slain, fit to be described. And who that has witnessed the scene on the canoes, at such a time,
can forget it, or help shrinking with horror from the thought of its repetition? Dead men or women are tied on the fore-part of the canoe, while, on the main deck, their murderers, like triumphant fiends, dance madly among the flourishing of clubs and sun shades, and confused din. At intervals, they bound upon the deck with a shrill and terrible yell, expressive of unchecked rage and deadly hatred. The corpses, when loosed, are dragged, with frantic running and shouts, to the temple, where they are offered to the god, before being cooked. On these occasions, the ordinary social restrictions are destroyed, and the unbridled and indiscriminate indulgence of every evil lust and passion completes the scene of abomination.'
We pass over the admirable chapter-as admirably illustrated-on the industrial produce of the Fijians, with the remark, that the people are evidently not inferior to any savage race in their knowledge of the useful arts. They are expert, inventive, tasteful, and clearly capable, under civilized influences, of considerable, if not superior, attainments in the mechanical arts. Mr. Williams's description of the people' of Fiji is a very careful and clearly drawn summary of their national characteristics. Their physical developments are scarcely inferior to those of any race, while their mental powers are above the ordinary scale :
•The aspect of the Fijian, considered with reference to his mental character, so far from supporting the decision which would thrust him almost outside of mankind, presents many points of great interest, showing that, if an ordinary amount of attention were bestowed on him, he would take no mean rank in the great human family, to which, hitherto, he has been a disgrace. Dull, barren stupidity forms no part of his character. His feelings are acute, but not lasting ; his emotions easily roused, but transient; he can love truly, and hate deeply; he can sympathize with thorough sincerity, and feign with consummate skill; his fidelity and loyalty are strong and enduring, while his revenge never dies, but waits to avail itself of circumstances, or of the blackest treachery, to accomplish its purpose. His senses are keen, and so well employed, that he often excels the white man in ordinary things. Tact has been called "ready cash,” and of this the native of Fiji has a full share, enabling him to surmount, at once, many difficulties, and accomplish many tasks, that would have "fixed” an Englishman. Tools, cord, or packing materials, he finds directly, where the white man would be at a loss for either; and nature seems to him but a general store for his use, where the article he wants is always within reach.
In social diplomacy the Fijian is very cautious and clever. That he ever paid a visit merely en passant, is hard to be believed. If no request leaves his lips, he has brought the desire, and only waits for a good chance to present it now, or prepare the way for its favourable reception at some other time. His face and voice are all pleasantness, and he has the rare skill of finding out just the subject on which you most like to talk, or sees at once whether you desire silence. Rarely will he fail to read your countenance; and the case must be urgent indeed, which obliges him to ask å favour when he sees a frown. The more important lie feels his business, the more earnestly he protests that he has none at all; and the subject uppermost in his thoughts comes last to his lips, or is not even named; for he will make a second, or even a third, visit, rather than risk a failure through precipitancy. He seems to read other men by intuition, especially where selfishness or lust are prominent traits. If it serves liis purpose, he will study difficult and peculiar characters, reserving the results for future use: if, afterwards, he wish to please them, he will know how; and if to annoy them, it will be done most exactly.
His sense of hearing is acute, and by a stroke of his nail he judges of the sipeness of fruits, or soundness of various substances.
"Great command of temper, and power to conceal his emotions, are often displayed by the Fijian.'
On the other hand, the moral character of the Fijians, as may be gathered from the quotations we have already made, is anything but attractive. They have gone gradually from bad to worse, until they have arrived at a state, where it would be impossible to go further. Old men, says Mr. Williams, speak of the atrocities of recent times as altogether new, and far surpassing the deeds of cruelty which they witnessed fifty years ago. They deliberately and openly violate every commandment of the decalogue-murder, adultery, lying, theft, and deceit of every kind being the common and boasted practices of both sexes.
Of these, Mr. Williams says, 'Atrocities of the most fearfiil kind have come to my knowledge, which I dare not record here. And it must not be forgotten that, in the case of murder, the act is not a simple one, ending in the first bloodshed. The blow which falls fatally on one man, may be said to kill several more; for, if the victim is married, his wife or wives will be strangled as soon as the husband's death becomes known, and often the man's mother will die at the same time. Then, again, if the deed is such as to justify the perpetrator's claim to receiving a new name," other murders will be necessary to complete the ceremony. He and his friends must silima“wash”_his club, if possible, within a few weeks of the first crime; that is, the club must spill more blood. Murder is not an occasional thing in Fiji; but habitual, systematic, and classed among ordinary transactions.'
Such a people are of course destitute of every human feeling. Parricide, fratricide, and infanticide are openly acknowledged. I have been astonished,' says the author, to see the broad breast of a most ferocious savage heave and swell with strong emotion on bidding his aged father a temporary farewell. I have listened with interest to a man of milder mould, as he told me about his “eldest son_his head, his face, his mien-the admiration of all who saw him." Yet this father assisted to strangle his son; and the son first named buried his old father alive!'
We have no desire especially to select the worst characteristics of this people; but where nearly all is bad, it is difficult to avoid anything that is not most revolting. The chapter on 'Manners and Customs' is full of details which, though narrated with scrupulous delicacy and with an evidently careful avoidance of all that might offend a fine taste, is not very quotable. We pass by the first portion of it for a few extracts relating to the burial customs of the Fijians and to cannibalism.
One of the humane customs of these islanders is the burial of their parents and others before death. This is an almost invariable thing. Mr. Williams says
In the destruction of their decrepit parents, the Fijians sometimes plead affection, urging that it is a kindness to shorten the miserable period of second childhood. In their estimation, the use of a rope, instead of the club, is a mark
of love so strong, that they wonder when a stronger is demanded. In many cases, however, no attempt is made to disguise the cruelty of the deed. It is a startling, but incontestable fact, that in Fiji there exists a general system of parricide, which ranks, too, in all respects, as a social institution.”
Sick persons are treated in the same way: • Ratu Varani spoke of one, among many, whom he had caused to be buried alive. She had been weakly for a long time, and the chief, thinking her likely to remain so, had a grave dug. The curiosity of the poor girl was excited by loud exclamations, as though something extraordinary had appeared, and on stepping out of the house, she was seized and thrown into her grave. In vain she shrieked with horror, and cried out, “Do not bury me! I am quite well now!” Two men kept her down by standing on her, while others threw the soil in upon her, until she was heard no more.'
The most remarkable instance of this kind—the burial of a king before his death was witnessed by Mr. Williams himself. We make no apology for the length of this quotation.
• The venerable chieftain grew feeble towards the middle of 1845, but not so as to prevent his taking an occasional walk. About August, however, he was obliged to keep his mat, and I often called and endeavoured to instruct without irritating him. I visited him on the 21st, and was surprised to find him much better than he had been two days before. We talked a little, and he was perfectly collected. On being told, therefore, on the morning of the 24th that the king was dead, and that preparations were being made for his interment, I could scarcely credit the report. The ominous word preparing urged me to hasten without delay to the scene of action; but my utmost speed failed to bring me to Nasima—the king's house-in time. The moment I entered, it was evident that, as far as concerned two of the women, I was too late to save their lives. The effect of that scene was overwhelming. Scores of deliberate murderers, in the very act, surrounded me: yet there was no confusion, and, except a word from him who presided, no noise, but only an unearthly, horrid stillness. Nature seemed to lend her aid to deepen the dread effect: there was not a breath stirring in the air, and the half subdued light in that hall of death showed every object with unusual distinctness. All was motionless as sculpture, and a strange feeling came upon me, as though I was myself becoming a statue. To speak was impossible; I was unconscious that I breathed; and involuntarily, or, rather against my will, I sank to the floor, assuming the cowering posture of those who were not actually engaged in murder. My arrival was during a hush, just at the crisis of death, and to that strange silence must be attributed my emotion; for I was but too familiar with murders of this kind, neither was there anything novel in the apparatus employed. Occupying the centre of that large room were two groups, the business of which could not be mistaken. All sat on the floor; the middle figure of each group being held in a sitting posture by several females, and hidden by a large veil. On either side of each veiled figure was a company of eight or ten strong men, one company hauling against the other on a white cord, which was passed twice round the neck of the doomed one, who thus, in a few minutes ceased to live. As my self-command was returning, the group furthest from me began to move; the men slackened their hold, and the attendant women removed the large covering, making it into a couch for the victim. As that veil was lifted, some of the men beheld the distorted features of a mother, whom they helped to murder, and smiled with satisfaction as the corpse was laid out for decoration. Convulsive struggles on the part of the poor creature near me showed that she still lived. She was a stout woman, and some of the executioners jocosely invited those who sat near to have pity, and help them. At length the woman said, “She is cold." The fatal cord fell; and, as the covering was raised, I saw dead the obedient wife and unwearied attendant of the old king. Leaving the women to adjust her hair, oil her body, cover the face with vermilion, and adorn her with flowers, I passed on to see the remains of the deceased Tuithakau. To my astonishment I found him alive! He was weak, but quite conscious, and, whenever he coughed, placed his hand on his side, as though in pain. Yet his chief wife and a male attendant were covering him with a thick coat of black powder, and tying round his arms and legs a number of white scarfs, fastened in rosettes, with the long ends hanging down his sides.
. The conflicting emotions which passed through my mind at that moment cannot be described. I had gone there to beg that the old man might be buried alone; but he was not dead. I had hoped to have prevented murder; but two victims lay dead at my feet. I came to the young king to ask for the life of women: but now it seemed my duty to demand that of his father. Yet, should my plea be successful, it would cause other murders on a future day. Perplexed in thought, with a decp gloom on my mind, feeling my blood curdle, and"
"the hair of my flesh stand up," I approached the young king, whom I could only regard with abhorrence. He seemed greatly moved, put his arm round and embraced me, saying, before I could speak, "See! the father of us two is dead.” “Dead!" I exclaimed, in a tone of surprise: “Dead! No.” “Yes,” he answered; “his spirit is gone. You see his body move; but that it does unconsciously.” Knowing that it would be useless to dispute the point, I ceased to care for the father, and went on to say, that the chief object of myself and my colleague was to beg him to “love us, and prevent any more women from being strangled, as he could not, by multiplying the dead, render any benefit to his father.” He replied,
There are only two; but they shall suffice. Were not your missionaries here, we would make an end of all the women sitting around.”
* Tongans were appointed to bury the king. The grave had been dug by the people of the place, and lined with mats, on which the Tongans laid the bodies of the women, and on them the once powerful chief. The shell ornaments were taken off his person, which was then covered with cloth and mats, and the earth heaped upon him. He was heard to cough after a considerable quantity of soil had been thrown into the grave. These latter particulars I received from those who buried him, as I could not, by my presence, seem to sanction the unnatural deed.'
The prevalence of cannibalism amongst the Fijians seems to be owing chiefly to the circumstance mentioned by the author, that it is a part of their religion. The gods are devourers of soul and body, and, after their fashion, the worshippers imitate the worshipped. Mr. Williams says that, “Until recently, there were many who refused to believe in the existence of this horrible practice in modern times; but such incredulity has been forced to yield to indisputable and repeated evidence, of which Fiji alone can supply enough to convince a universe, that man can fall so low as habitually to feed upon his fellow
Cannibalism among this people is one of their institutions; it is interwoven in the elements of society; it forms one of their pursuits, and is regarded by the mass as a refinement.'
Human bodies (he adds) are sometimes caten in connexion with the building of a temple or canoe; or on launching a large canoe; or on taking down the mast of one which has brought some chief on a visit; or for the feasting of such as tako tribute to a principal place. A chief has been known to kill several men for rollers, to facilitate the launching of his canoes, the “rollers ” being afterwards cooked and eaten.'
Of the more conspicuous illustrations of this habit, we quote the following: