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176

SINGULAR SPECIES OF CRAB.

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good-nature with which he bore the torture to the last bristle of his chin.

On the beach, near the king's house, we found a small but curious crab, which is common here. These creatures bury themselves in the moist sand or mud to the depth of a hand-breadth or more. One of the largest which we dug up was three-quarters of an inch in length, of a dark-brown colour ; others, however, are marked with blue spots. The peculiarity of this little animal is, that one of its fore-claws is disproportionately large, being sometimes the size of its whole body, and of a bright red tint; while the corresponding claw is of the same colour with its legs, and so small as scarcely to be perceptible without being sought out. The eyes stand at the extremity of two projections, each half an inch in length. When the crab enters sits hole, these flexible instruments, which can be moved in all directions, turn downwards into grooves of the under shell, where they are sheathed in perfect security. On the approach of danger, these helpless creatures burrow into the sand with surprising celerity; but the sagacious hogs as quickly grub them up with their snouts, and greedily devour the delicate morsels. The natives call this species ohitimataroa, the big-eyed crab.

In the evening, a person brought us a very fine mat for sale, and requested to have a shirt in exchange. He said that the reason why he came so late was, that he wished to appear becomingly dressed on the morrow, the Sabbath. Some friends of his, who had arrived from the Leeward Islands, being poorly and scantily clad, he had generously given them the best clothes he had, leaving himself without suitable covering for the public assembly. It is an ancient custom to give to a friend whatever he asks for, whether food or raiment, and however the owner

NATIVE GENEROSITY.

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may want it himself. To refuse a request of this kind would be deemed such a breach of hospitality as to bring upon the person the reproach of being a churl, a character held in abhorrence by these people, who, in some respects, live as if they were all of one family, and had every thing in common. It was formerly so imperative to divide their morsel one with another that when a man killed a hog it was baked whole, and all his neighbours who chose came to partake of it; he himself having only as much as he could eat, and the entire carcase being devoured at a meal. Customs of this kind, which suited the lazy and the sensual, in their heathen state, are now fast falling, as they ought, into disuse; while Christian charity, the principle of the purest benevolence, makes them ready to communicate of their good things to those that are in need, without reckless waste or unnecessary impoverishment of themselves for worthless vagabonds, of whom, formerly, there were multitudes consuming the fruits of the soil, and the produce of industry, without cultivating the one or contributing to the other.

Dec. 1. On a visit to Mrs. Bicknell, we had much conversation with her respecting the death of her husband, which took place about a year ago. She mentioned, that she had once received a letter from him on one of his preaching tours through Tahiti, before the gospel was received there, in which he complained that there were Stills in operation every where, and the people were given up to drunkenness and debauchery, in consequence of the excessive use of spirituous liquors, the fatal secret of preparing which they had been taught by strangers bearing and disgracing the name of Christians. It is melancholy to think how apt barbarians are to learn what is evil from civilized visitors, and how slow to receive that which

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EVILS FROM THE USE OF STILLS.

is good ;-alas ! we may add, how much more apt to communicate evil than good, both by teaching and example, visitors from civilized nations, to ignorant savages, are ! We have already recorded that Pomare, on embracing Christianity, abolished the stills throughout his dominions; and (though himself, unhappily, addicted to strong drink, when he had it by purchase from ships touching upon his coast,) he never permitted it to be prepared at home, even for his own gratification, lest he should “put an enemy” into the mouths of his subjects “ to steal away their senses.” Dec. 3. Mr. Platt, wishing to have a piece of

piece of ground adjacent to his house planted with taro (sweet potatoes), had mentioned it to the deacons, who assembled the congregation, last Saturday, to consider whether they would do the work for their minister. On the question being put, the people gladly offered their services, and this morning they came to fulfil their engagement. The ground for the cultivation of this root is low and wet, and here it was covered with rank and coarse vegetation. In a few hours, however, the whole plot was cleared and planted. The many hands made light work, by an easy division of the whole into small portions. Except two or three spades, short, pointed sticks were the only tools employed to root up the grass, dig the soil, and plant the taro. The labourers were very soon ludicrously bespattered with mud, yet nothing could exceed the good-humour with which they performed their disagreeable task; many of them sat down in the mire to gather out the stones, and put in the plants. One woman only was among them, with several boys. In one quarter the king's servants were employed, in another the queen's, and several bands elsewhere; all keeping to their own departments. By noon, the whole

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was nearly completed, when the work-people were entertained with a baked hog and the usual vegetable fare, provided by Mr. Platt. On the occasion, sundry chiefs headed their vassals, and toiled with their own hands as hard as any of them. This is always the case when any public service is to be done, the principal men deeming it their honour to be the ablest and busiest of the multitude, who, under such encouragement as well as superintendance, vie with each other who shall do the most and the best in accomplishing the common object. The taro plants are placed something less than a yard apart; this is necessary, both to allow their luxuriant growth, and that they may be regularly supplied with water. The roots are fit for use in six months, but both the bulk and quality are much improved if permitted to remain in the ground a year. Roasted or boiled, the taro is excellent food.

This evening, at Mr. Platt's house, Captain gave us an account of the hoop-snake, of the American continent. It has its name from the form into which it coils itself, moving forward with great velocity. This reptile will sometimes attack a man, when it twines itself round his body, endeavouring to raise itself higher and higher, till it can fasten round the neck, and strangle him within its straitened folds. In such an extremity, the only certain method of extrication, if the person assailed have the presence of mind and a proper weapon, is to cut the animal in two while it is twisting itself upward; but this must be done immediately on the attack, as its operations are quick and terrifying. The bite is said to be innoxious.

Dec. 4. We have just witnessed the novel scene of a court of justice here. Hard by the chapel, there stands a magnificent purau-tree, round about and under the expanded shade of which long forms for seats were fixed,

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A COURT OF JUSTICE.

enclosing a square of about twenty-five feet across. No pains had been taken to clear the ground, which happened to be strewn with loose stones. The judges took their places on the benches. Most of these were secondary chiefs, the superior ones being with Pomare at Tahiti. They were handsomely robed in purau mats and cloth tibutas, with straw hats, and made a most respectable appearance. There were nearly thirty of these ; among whom one, called Tapuni, having been previously appointed chairman of the tribunal, was distinguished above the rest by a bunch of black feathers, gracefully surmounted with red, in his hat. Hundreds of people seated themselves on the outside of the square.

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young men were then introduced, who sat down quietly at the foot of the tree. These were the culprits : they were charged with having stolen some bread-fruit. Silence and earnest attention prevailed. Tapuni now rose, and called upon the accused to stand up, which they immediately did. He then stated the offence for which they were arraigned, and as their guilt was clear, having been detected in the fact, he told them that they had committed rebellion, by breaking the law, outraging the authority of the king, and disgracing the character of their country. One of the young men, hereupon, frankly confessed that ne had perpetrated the theft, and persuaded his comrade to share with him the crime and the plunder. Witnesses are seldom called in such cases, offenders generally acknowledging their misdeeds, and casting themselves on the justice of the court to deal with them accordingly. This is a remarkable circumstance, and we are assured that it is so common as to constitute a trait of national character. A brief conversation followed among the judges, respecting the utua, or punishment, to be inflicted on the youths, as they were thus faahapa,

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