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distinguished guest, or the celebration of a national festival. No regular system of taxation prevailed, but every kind of property was furnished by the chiefs and people in great abundance, not only for the king, but for the purpose of enriching those who were the objects of his favour.
However abundant the supplies might be which the king received, he was in general more necessitous than many of the chiefs. Applications from the chiefs, for food, for cloth, canoes, and every other valuable article furnished by the people, were so frequent and importunate, that more than was barely sufficient for his own use seldom remained long in his possession. A present of food was usually accompanied with several hundred yards of native cloth, and a number of fine large double canoes; yet every article was often distributed among the chiefs and favourites on the very day it arrived ; and so urgent were the applicants, that they did not wait till the articles were brought, but often extorted from the king a promise that he would give them the first bale of cloth, or double canoe, he might receive. At times they went beyond this; and when a chief, who considered the king under obligations to him, knew that the inhabitants of a district were preparing a present for their sovereign, which would include any articles he wished to possess, he would go to the king, and tapao, mark or bespeak it, even before it was finished. A promise given under these circumstances was usually regarded as binding, though it often involved the king in difficulties, and kept him necessitous.
In the estimation of the people, generosity was among the greatest virtues of a king; and illiberality was most unpopular. In describing a
good chief, or governor, they always spoke of him as one who distributed among his chiefs whatever he received, and never refused any thing for which they asked.
Notwithstanding this generosity on the part of the king, the conduct of the government was often most rapacious and unjust. The stated and regular supplies, furnished by the inhabitants, were inadequate to the maintenance of the numbers who, attaching themselves to the king's household, passed their time in idleness, but were fed at his table. Whenever there was a deficiency of food for his followers or guests, a number of his servants went to the residence of a raatira, or farmer, and, sometimes without even asking, tied up the pigs that were fed near the dwelling, plundered the abode, ravaging, like a band of lawless robbers, the plantations or the gardens, and taking away every article of food the poor, oppressed labourer possessed. Sometimes they launched a fine canoe that might be lying near, and, loading it with their. plunder, left the industrious proprietor destitute even of the means of subsistence; and, as they were the king's servants, he durst not complain.
When the king travelled, he was usually attended by a company of Areois, or a worthless train of idlers; and often when they entered a district that was perhaps well supplied with provisions for its inhabitants, if they remained any length of time, by their plundering and wanton destruction it was reduced to a state of desolation. Sometimes the king sent his servants to take what they wanted from the fields or gardens of the people; but often, unauthorized by him, they used his name commit the most lawless and injurious outrage
upon the property of the inhabitants; whose lives were endangered, if they offered the least resist
Mahamene, a native of Raiatea, gave, at a public meeting in that island, the following account of their behaviour. "These teuteu,' (servants of the king,) said he, "would enter a house, and commit the greatest depredations. The master of the house would sit as a poor captive, and look on, without daring to say a word. They would seize his bundle of cloth, kill his largest pigs, pluck the best bread-fruit, take the largest taro, (arum roots,) the finest sugar-cane, the ripest bananas, and even take the posts of his house for fuel to cook them with. Is there not a man present who actually buried his new canoe under the sand, to secure it from these desperate men?"
Nothing fostered tyranny and oppression in the rulers, and reduced the population to a state of wretchedness, so much as these unjust proceedings. Those who, by habits of industry, or desire of comfort for themselves and families, might be induced to cultivate more land than others, were, from this very circumstance, marked out for despoliation. They had no redress for these wrongs, and therefore, rather than expose themselves to the mortifying humiliation of seeing the fruits of their labour taken to feed a useless and insulting band that followed the movements of the king, they allowed their lands to remain untilled, and chose to procure a scanty means of subsistence from day to day, rather than suffer the insults to which even their industry exposed them.
So far were these shameless extortions practised, that during the journey of an European through the country, he has been attended by a servant of
the king, and when, in return for provisions furnished, or acts of kindness shewn, by the hospitable inhabitants, he has made them a trifling present, it has been instantly seized by the vassal of the chief, who has followed him for that purpose. The poor people were also allowed to dispose of their produce to the captains or merchants that might visit them for the purpose of barter, but the king or chief frequently requested the greater part, or even the whole, of what they might receive in return for it.
That they should have improved in industry, or advanced in civilization, under such a system, was impossible, and that they should, under such circumstances, have tilled a sufficient quantity of ground to furnish supplies for the shipping, is a matter of greater surprise, than that they should not have cultivated more. The humiliating degradation to which it reduced the farmers, and the constant irritation of feelings to which this wretched system exposed them, were not the only evils that resulted from it. It naturally led the raatiras to regard their chiefs as enemies, and generated disaffection to their administration. It also greatly diminished their resources, for, under the discouragements resulting from constant liability to plunder, the people were unable to furnish those supplies, which they would otherwise have found it a satisfaction to render.
This system of civil polity, disjointed and ill adapted as it was to answer any valuable purpose, was closely interwoven with their sanguinary idolatry, and sanctioned by the authority of the gods. The king was not only raised to the head of this government, but he was considered as a sort of vicegerent to the supernatural powers presiding
over the invisible world. Human sacrifices were offered at his inauguration; and whenever any one, under the influence of the loss he had sustained by plunder, or other injury, spoke disrespectfully of his person and administration, not only was his life in danger, but human victims must be offered, to cleanse the land from the pollution it was supposed to have contracted.
The intimate connexion between the government and their idolatry, occasioned the dissolution of the one, with the abolition of the other; and when the system of pagan worship was subverted, many of their ancient usages perished in its ruins. They remained for some years without any system or form of government, excepting the will of the king, to whom the inhabitants usually furnished liberal supplies of all that was necessary for the maintenance of his household, and the accomplishment of his designs.
The raatiras exercised the supreme authority in the divisions over which the king had placed them. But when circumstances occurred, in which, under idolatry, they would have acted according to their ancient custom, they felt embarrassed. Many of the people, free in a great degree from exposure to seizure, and the more dreadful apprehension of being offered to the gods, evinced a disinclination to render the king the supplies and support he needed.
The sacrificing of human victims to the idols had been one of the most powerful engines in the hands of the government, the requisition for them being always made by the ruler, to whom the priests applied when it was pretended the gods required them the king, therefore, sent his herald to the petty chieftain, who selected the victims. An in