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Visit to Opoa, the chief Seat of ancient Idolatry—Public Festival-Sin
gular Appearance of the Feasters-Speeches— Tea-drinking-Breaking up of the Company-Expulsion of an Idolater from the Church–Ingenious Scruple-Den of the Evil Spirit—Strata—Creatures of the SeaRomantic Tradition-Confessions of Infanticide_Marriage of Aimata and Pomare of Huahine-Confessions of a Sorcerer-One Hundred and Fifty-one Persons Baptized.
Nov. 30. We have just returned from a visit to Opoa, the metropolis of idolatry, not in Raiatea only, but throughout all the South Pacific Islands, within a compass of five hundred miles. Hither, from every shore, human victims, ready slain, were sent to be offered on the altar of Oro, the god of war, whose principal image was worshipped here, with the most bloody and detestable rites. To describe the various maraes and their appurtenances, the priests and their sorceries, the sacrifices, feastings, and fightings of the votaries, at this hideous rendezvous, would only be to exhibit, in aggravated language, scenes of disgusting horror, similar to those which have, too frequently per- . haps, already occupied our pages. Opoa was also the residence of the kings of this island, who, beside the prerogatives of royalty, enjoyed divine honours, and were in
fact living idols among the dead ones, being deified at the time of their accession to political supremacy here. In the latter character, we presume, it was, that these sovereigns (who always took the name of Tamatoa) were wont to receive presents from the kings and chiefs of adjacent and distant islands, whose gods were all considered tributary to the Oro of Raiatea, and their princes owing homage to its monarch, who was Oro's hereditary high-priest, as well as an independent divinity himself. Happily nothing but the ruins of maraes remain, and Opoa, flourishing in all the unpruned luxuriance of tropical vegetation, is one of the loveliest and most peaceful spots in all these regions of beauty and fertility. The population, since the removal of the king and his family to the Missionary station, on the shore, having forsaken their former haunts, this place, which for ages scarcely knew quiet by day or by night, is now a solitude.
Dec. 4. This day was celebrated as a public festival by the inhabitants of the settlement. The entertainment was prepared on the large patu, or stone pier in the sea, commencing at the length of a plank from the beach. On the last occasion of the kind, about six months ago, the company squatted on their hams according to the ancient practice, except the members of one family, who had provided a sofa, a table, and knives and forks for themselves, to the admiration, if not the envy, of all the rest. To prompt the people to industry, and by industry to increase their domestic comforts, the Missionaries, at that time, had strenuously recommended that all who meant to join in partaking the good fare, at the next opportunity, should, if possible, supply themselves with the like accommodations. And so cordially was the advice received, and so diligently acted upon, that, though a thousand persons dined