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wanderer " upon the road;" but if the king's conduct was considered arbitrary, and the individual justified in his refusal by the other chiefs, they would tapea, or detain him, and protest to the king against his removal. The parties generally knew each other's strength and influence, and those who had little hopes of succeeding by an appeal to arms, usually conceded whatever was required. Personal security, and the rights of private property, were unknown; and the administration of justice by the chiefs in the several districts, and the king over the whole, was regulated more by the relative power than by the merits of their cause.
They had no regular code of laws, nor any public courts of justice, and, excepting in offences against the king and chiefs, the rulers were seldom appealed to. The people in general avenged their own injuries. Death or banishment was the punishment usually inflicted by the chiefs, and frequently the objects of their displeasure were marked out as victims for sacrifice.
Destitute, however, as they were of even oral laws or institutes, there were many acts, which, by general consent, were considered criminal, and deserving punishment. These were orure hau, rebellion, or shaking the government, withholding supplies, or even speaking contemptuously of the king or his administration. So heinous was this offence, that the criminal was not only liable to banishment, or the forfeiture of his life, but a human sacrifice must be offered, to atone for the guilt, and appease the displeasure of the gods against the people of the land in which it had been committed. Lewdness was not regarded as a crime, but adultery was sometimes punished
with death. Those among the middle or higher ranks who practised polygamy, allowed their wives other husbands. It is reported that brothers, or members of the same family, sometimes exchanged their wives, while the wife of every individual was also the wife of his taio or friend.
Their character in this respect presents a most unnatural mixture of brutal degradation with infuriated and malignant jealousy; for while their conduct with respect to the taio, &c. exhibits an insensibility to every feeling essential to conjugal happiness, the least familiarity with the wife, unauthorized by the husband, even a word or a look, from a stranger, if the husband was suspicious, or attributed it to improper motives, was followed by instant and deadly revenge.
There is a man now residing in Huahine, whose face and shoulders are frightfully marked with deep scars, inflicted by blows with a carpenter's axe, on this account. A husband and wife were once sitting together, when another man joined the party, and sat down with them. He wore a taupoo, or bonnet, of platted cocoa-nut leaves : lifting his hand, and taking hold of it by the part that shaded his brows, he waved his hand towards the inland part of the district, in removing his bonnet from his head. The suspicious husband, observing the motion of his hand, considered it as an assignation, that the stranger was to meet his wife there; and without a word, I believe, being spoken by either party, he rose up, took down his spear, which was suspended from the inside of his dwelling, and ran the man through the body, accusing him at the same time of the crime of which he supposed him guilty. Several of the murders of the Europeans, that have been com
mitted in the islands of the Pacific, have originated in this cause.
Theft was practised, but less frequently among themselves than towards their foreign visitors. They supposed it equally criminal, yet they do not in general appear to have attached any moral delinquency to the practice; but they imagined they were more likely to avoid detection when stealing from strangers, than when robbing their own countrymen. Stealing was always considered as a crime among them, and every precaution was taken to guard against it. On this account, their large bales of valuable cloth, and most articles of property not in constant use, were kept suspended from the ridge-pole or rafters of their dwellings; their smaller rolls of cloth were often laid by their pillows; and their pigs were driven under their beds at night, to prevent their being stolen.
This nefarious practice, strange as it may appear, was supported by their false system of religion, and sanctioned by the patronage of the gods, especially by Hiro, a son of Oro, who was called the god of thieves. The aid of this god was invoked by those who went on expeditions of plunder, and the priests probably received a portion of the spoils. Chiefs of considerable rank have sometimes been detected in the act of stealing, or have been known to employ their domestics to thieve, receiving the articles stolen, and afterwards sheltering the plunderers. This, however, has generally been practised on the property of foreigners.
Among themselves, if detected, the thief experienced no mercy, but was often murdered on the spot. If detected afterwards, he was sometimes dreadfully wounded or killed. Two very affecting instances of vengeance of this kind are
recorded by the early Missionaries. I have also heard that they sometimes bound the thief hand and foot, and, putting him into an old rotten canoe, towed him out to sea, and there left him adrift, to sink in the ocean, or become a prey to the sharks.
The haru raa, or seizing all the property of delinquents, was the most frequent retaliation, among the lower class, for this and other crimes. servants of the chiefs, or injured party, went to the house of the offenders, and took by force whatever they found, carrying away every article worth possessing, and destroying the rest. If the inhabitants of the house received previous intimation of their purpose, they generally removed or secreted their most valuable property, but seldom attempted to resist the seizure, even though every article of food and clothing, and the mats on which they slept, should be taken away.
This mode of retaliation for theft, or other injury, was so generally recognized as just, that, although the party thus plundered might be more powerful than those who plundered them, they would not attempt to prevent the seizure: had they done so, the population of the district would have assisted those, who, according to established custom, were thus punishing the aggressors. Such was the usual method resorted to for punishing petty thefts committed among themselves. They were generally satisfied with seizing whatever they could find in the houses, yards, or gardens of the offenders; but when it was practised by order of the king or chiefs, the culprit was banished from his house or lands, and reduced to a state of complete destitution.
Great difficulty was often experienced in dis
covering the thief, or the property stolen; and, on these occasions, they frequently resorted to divination, and employed the sorcerer to discover the offender. The thief, when detected, generally received summary punishment. Mr. Bourne states, that, in one of the Hervey Islands, a man found a little boy, about eight years of age, stealing food; the man instantly seized the juvenile delinquent, and, tying a heavy stone to his leg, threw him into the sea. The boy sunk to the bottom, and would soon have paid for his crime with his life, had not one of the native teachers plunged into the water, rescued him, and taken him to his own house, where he has ever since resided.
The resources of the government consisted in the personal services of the people, and the produce of the soil. From these the revenue was derived. All public works, such as the erection of national temples, fortifications, enclosures from the sea, dwellings for the king, &c. were performed by the whole population. In each district, the king had a viceroy, or deputy, to whom his orders were sent with a cocoa-nut leaf. The chiefs sometimes assembled together, and divided the work among themselves. At other times, the king appointed to each his particular share. Every chief then issued orders to the raatiras under his authority, who prepared the materials, and performed the work. Canoes for the king's use were furnished in the same way, and also cloth for himself and his household.
Every district brought provisions at stated intervals for the king's use, or for the maintenance of his numerous retinue. Besides what they regularly furnished, orders were often issued for extraordinary supplies, for the entertainment of a