Images de page

The above regulations for ships entering the harbour of Huahine, having been submitted to me, I deem them just and equitable, and have transmitted a copy of the same to my government, together with this flag, red above, white in the middle, and red below, proposed for the Georgian and Society Islands.

Given under my hand on board H.M. ship Satellite, at Raiatea, this 17th day of March, 1829.

1. LAWS, Commander.

The people have always felt more difficulty in the enforcement of those regulations which refer to subjects of other governments residing among them, than to the natives of their own islands. The sentencing of such sailors as may desert from their ships, or may be found on shore after their vessels have sailed, to hard labour on the public roads or quays, is probably the most effectual plan they could have adopted to deter seamen from the very frequent practice of forsaking their vessels.

The promulgation of an official printed code among the inhabitants of these islands, not only formed an epoch in their history, but introduced a new order of feeling and action in their civil relations, as a community governed by laws which they had deliberately and unitedly adopted. Perspicuity and plainness had been studied in the framing of their laws, and in several instances we should have preferred even greater explicitness. The public administration of justice, under the former system, had been exceedingly unceremonious and simple; and although the change now introduced had rendered it rather more complex, it was neither intricate nor perplexing. In several of the islands, I believe, court-houses have been built. There were none, however, in Huahine when I left,

though I have since heard that they were erecting one for the chief judges.

No investigations or trials have ever taken place with "closed doors," but all causes are tried in open court. In some of the islands, the bell-man goes round the district, to give public notice before any trial takes place. Their places of justice have usually been the governor's house, or the open air, frequently the court-yard in front of the chief's dwelling, an open space in the centre of the settlement, or near the sea-beach. A wide-spreading tree, or clump, is usually selected, and under its shade the bench is fixed, and the trial attended. The hour of sun-rise is usually chosen, as they prefer the coolness of the morning to the heat of


Important as this change in the civil constitution was to all the great interests of the people, there were doubtless many who were either insensible of the advantages that would accrue to themselves and their posterity, or were unable to appreciate their value. There were others, however, among different ranks in society, who thought and felt differently, and occasionally exhibited the high sense they entertained of natural and acknowledged rights, and the security they expected from the laws they had adopted. Many illustrations of this remark might be adduced, I shall only cite one that occurred in the Society Islands, and I simply relate it as a fact, without offering any comment. I was absent at the time it occurred, and it was regulated entirely by the natives themselves, without consulting or even acquainting the Missionary who was there.

In the autumn of 1822, the queen of Tahiti, the widow of Pomare, visited Huahine. Her attend

ants, who followed in her train from Tahiti, requiring a piece of timber, she directed them to cut down a bread-fruit tree growing in the garden of a poor man on the opposite side of the bay, near which her own residence stood. Her orders were obeyed, and the tree was carried away. Teuhe, the owner of the spot on which it stood, returning in the evening to his cottage, saw that the spoiler had been there: the stump was bleeding, and the boughs lay strewed around, but the stately trunk was gone. Informed by his neighbours that the queen's men had cut it down, he repaired to the magistrate of the district, and lodged a complaint against her majesty the queen. The magistrate directed him to come to the place of public justice the following morning at sun-rise, and substantiate his charge: he afterwards sent his servant to the queen, and invited her attendance at the same hour. The next morning, as the sun rose above the horizon, Ori, the magistrate, was seen sitting in the open air, beneath the spreading branches of a venerable tree on a finely-woven mat, before him, sat the queen, attended by her train; beside her stood the native peasant; and around them all, what may be termed the police-officers. Turning to Teuhe, the magistrate inquired for what purpose they had been convened. The poor man said, that in his garden grew a bread-fruit tree, whose shade was grateful to the inmates of his cottage, and whose fruit, with that of those which grew around, supported his family for five or seven months in every year; but that, yesterday, some one had cut it down, as he had been informed, by order of the queen. He knew that they had laws-he had thought those laws protected the poor man's property, as well as that of kings and chiefs; and

he wished to know whether it was right that, without his knowledge or consent, the tree should have been cut down.

[ocr errors]

The magistrate, turning to the queen, asked if she had ordered the tree to be cut down. She answered, 'Yes.'-He then asked if she did not know that they had laws. She said, ' Yes ;' but she was not aware that they applied to her. The magistrate asked, If in those laws (a copy of which he held in his hand) there were any exceptions in favour of chiefs, or kings, or queens.' She answered, 'No,' and despatched one of her attendants to her house, who soon returned with a bag of dollars, which she threw down before the poor man, as a recompense for his loss.- Stop,' said the justice,' we have not done yet.' The queen began to weep. Do you think it right that you should have cut down the tree without asking the owner's permission?' continued the magistrate. It was not right,' said the queen. Then turning to the poor man, he asked, 'What remuneration do you require? Teuhe answered, If the queen is convinced that it was not right to take a little man's tree without his permission, I am sure she will not do so again. I am satisfied-I require no other recompense.' His disinterestedness was applauded; the assembly dispersed; and afterwards, I think, the queen sent him, privately, a present equal to the value of his tree.

[ocr errors]


Visit from the Windward Islands-Opposition to the moral restraints of Christianity-Tatauing prohibited by the chiefs-Revival of the practice-Trial and penalty of the offenders-Rebellion against the laws and government-Public assembly-Address of Taua-Departure of the chiefs and people from the encampment of the king's son-Singularity of their dress and appearance-Interview between the rival parties-Return of Hautia and the captives-Arrival of the deputation at Tahiti-Account of Taaroarii-Encouraging circumstances connected with his early life-His marriageProfligate associates-Effects of bad example-Disorderly conduct-His illness-Attention of the chiefs and people-Visits to his encampment-Last interviewDeath of Taaroarii-Funeral procession-Impressive circumstances connected with his decease and interment -His monument and epitaph-Notice of his fatherHis widow and daughter-Institution of Christian burial-Dying expressions of native converts.

DURING the year 1821, besides going to Tahiti, I made three voyages to Raiatea, and spent several weeks with the Missionaries there. These voyages were not dangerous, although we were often out at sea all night, and sometimes for nights and days together. The Hope, whose arrival at Tahiti in April had afforded us so much satisfaction, called at Huahine on her way to England, with a cargo she had taken in at Tahiti. Shortly

« PrécédentContinuer »