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"One thing only is desired by us all, that which Tati has expressed the laws, which you hold in your hand." The king then addressed Arahu, the chief of Eimeo, and Veve, the chief of Taiarabu, nearly in the same manner, and they replied as the others had done. Pomare then proceeded to read and comment upon the laws respecting murder, theft, trespass, stolen property, lost property, sabbath-breaking, rebellion, marriage, adultery, the judges, court-houses, &c., in eighteen articles. After reading and explaining the several particulars, he asked the chiefs if they approved of them! They replied, aloud, "We agree to them-we heartily agree to them." The king then addressed the people, and desired them, if they approved of the laws, to signify the same by holding up their right hands. This was unanimously done, with a remarkable rushing noise, owing to the thousands of arms being lifted at once. When Pomare came to the law on rebellion, stirring up war, &c. he seemed inclined to pass it over, but after a while proceeded. At the conclusion of that article, Tati was not content with signifying his approbation in the usual way only, but, standing up, he called in a spirited manner to all his people to lift up their hands again, even both hands, he setting the example, which was universally followed. Thus all the articles were passed and approved.
The public business of the day was closed by Mr. Henry's offering a prayer unto Him by whom kings reign, and princes decree judgment, and the people retired to their respective dwellings.
Pomare subsequently intimated his intention of appropriating Palmerston's Island as a place of banishment for Tahitian convicts, and proposed to the Missionaries to publish his request that no vessel should remove any
who might be thus exiled. The laws which the king read to the people were written by himself, and formed, probably, the first written code that ever existed in the islands; and he afterwards wrote out, in a fair, legible, and excellent hand, a copy for the press. Printed copies were distributed among the people, but the original manuscript, in the king's hand-writing, signed by himself, is in the possession of the London Missionary Society. The laws were printed on a large sheet of paper, and not only sent to every chief and magistrate throughout both islands, but posted up in most of the public places.
The sentence to be passed on individuals who should be found guilty of many of the crimes prohibited by these laws, was left to the discretion of the judge or magistrate; but to several, the penalty of death was annexed; and only a few months after their enactment, the sentence of capital punishment was passed on two individuals, whose names were Papahia and Horopae, They were inhabitants of the district of Atehuru, and were executed on the twenty-fifth of October, 1819, for attempting to overturn the government. Papahia had been a distinguished warrior, and was in the very prime of life. He was a man of a bold and daring character, and of turbulent conduct. He came several times to my house, during our residence at Eimeo; and although, in consequence of his restless and violent behaviour, I was not prepossessed in his favour, my personal acquaintance made me feel additional interest in the melancholy fate of the first malefactor on whom the dreadful sentence of the law was inflicted. The lives of these unhappy men were not taken by thrusting a spear through the body, or beating out the brains with a club, or by decapitation,
which was the former mode of punishment, but they were hanged on a cocoa-nut tree, in a conspicuous part of the district.
In the year 1821, a conspiracy was formed to assassi nate the king, and two men, who were proceeding to the accomplishment of their murderous purpose, were apprehended with others concerned in the plot. The names of the two leaders were Pori and Mariri. Sentence of death was passed upon them, and they were hanged on a rude gallows, formed by fastening a pole horizontally between two cocoa-nut trees. These are the only exes cutions that have taken place in the islands. It is not probable that many will be thus punished. The Missionaries interceded on behalf of the culprits, and secured a mitigation of punishment for the rest of the offenders. The judicial proceedings in the different districts of Tahiti, were divested, as much as possible, of all formality, and though some trifling irregularities, and slight embar rassments, as might be expected, were occasionally éxperienced, among a people totally unaccustomed to act in these matters according to any prescribed form, yet, upon the whole, the administration of justice by the native magistrates, was such as to give general satisfaction. The following account, by an eye-witness* of their proceedings on one of these occasions, will not be uninteresting.
"At the time appointed, a great many people, of both sexes and all ages, assembled under some very fine trees, near the queen's house. A small bench was brought for the two judges; the rest either stood or sat upon the ground, forming something less than a semicircle. We were provided with low seats near the Capt. G. C. Gambier, R. N.
judges. The two prisoners were seated cross-legged upon the ground, under the shade of a small tree, about twenty paces in front of the judges. They were both ill-looking men, dressed in the graceful tiputa. When all was ready to begin, one of the judges rose, and addressed the prisoners at considerable length, and with a good deal of action—not violent, but firm and gentle motions of the arms. He explained to them the accusation which brought them there, and read to them the law under which, if proved guilty, they would be punished. When he had finished, and called upon them to say whether it was true or not, one of them got up, and answered with great fluency, and good action. He maintained their innocence, and called a witness to confirm it. The witness, very artfully, turned his evidence to the account of the prisoners. Others also, in some way or other, favoured the accused, and the defendants were therefore discharged, from want of evidence."
On the 12th May, 1820, a code of laws was unanimously and publicly adopted in Raiatea, and recognized as the basis of public justice by the chiefs and people of Tahaa, Borabora, and Maupiti. The substance of the Raiatean laws was copied from those enacted by the government of Tahiti during the preceding year. They extended to twenty-five articles, embodying several most valuable enactments omitted by the Tahitian code. The most important of these was the institution of Trial by Jury. This was certainly the greatest civil blessing the inhabitants of the Pacific had yet received, and future generations will cherish with gratitude the memory of the Missionaries of Raiatea, at whose recommendation, and with whose advice, it was established by law in these islands.
Naturally violent and merciless under a sense of injury, we often found them too severe towards offenders; and while we occasionally interceded on behalf of those whose punishment appeared greater than their crime, we lost no opportunity of conveying just and humane, as well as scriptural ideas on matters of jurisprudence, without, however, interfering with their proceedings, or countenancing the misdeeds of those we might recommend to mercy.
The new laws had now been nearly three years established in Tahiti and Eimeo. Those of Raiatea, Tahaa, and Barabora, had also been for more than twelve months in operation among the inhabitants of these islands.The chiefs of Huahine had virtually made the latter the basis of their administration of justice, but though acting upon them, no code had yet been officially promulgated.
They had already applied to us for assistance in preparing the laws for the island under their dominion.This we had cheerfully rendered to the best of our ability, at the same time recommending them still to defer their public enactments until they had deliberately observed the effect of those already in force among the inhabitants of the adjacent islands. It was also proper to obtain the sanction of the queen's sister, then residing at Tahiti, who is nominally the sovereign of Huahine, the government of the island having been formerly presented to her by Mahine, the resident and hereditary chieftain. This grant, which transpired several years before any of the parties embraced Christianity, has often occasioned inconvenience. The internal government of the island has always been maintained by the resident chiefs, but in all matters materially affecting the people,