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LANGUAGE OF THE NATIVES.
according to their knowledge; exhorting those who say that they are believers, to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour by a suitable walk and conversation.
Oct. 8. We are daily learning for ourselves, from the lips of the natives, words and phrases of the language. By these means we have already a considerable vocabulary written down; which we often rehearse before our teachers of this class, who, sometimes seated in a circle about us, for hours together, exercise all their ingenuity and patience too, in giving us instructions, especially in the pronunciation, which is most difficult to catch, and delicate to use, there being a nicety and refinement in this, which our British friends would hardly believe could exist in a language of uncivilized men. Sometimes, in our walks, as they run along side of us, they pick up a stone, a stick, a leaf, a flower, a fruit; and name it to us in Tahitian, giving it also in parau Bretane (English) if they happen to know that: and all this they do with unaffected good nature, never being tired of repeating the word, till we have caught the correct accent and sound, or come as near
as we can.
Oct. 9. We make a point of putting down, from day to day, such information respecting the past and present state of these islands as we receive. The mighty moral change commenced from the king himself. Pomare, like his progenitors and his subjects, was a gross idolater; and so he remained for many years after the arrival of the missionaries, though he was always their steady friend and patron. At length he began to suspect the power of his national divinities, and by a bold experiment, in which he felt that he hazarded both his kingdom and his life, he resolved to put them to the test. It had always been customary for the people when they caught a turtle to present it to the
DESTRUCTION OF IDOLS IN TAHITI.
Sovereign. This royal perquisite was immediately taken to the marae, and there baked; which being done, part of it was offered to the idol, to render him propitious, and the remainder was brought to the king and his family, who were then, but not before, allowed to eat of it. It was pretended by the priests, and of course believed by the multitude, that if this ceremony were not performed, some supernatural punishment would be inflicted on the offenders. On a certain time, a turtle being brought to Pomare, he commanded it to be dressed at his own house, and forbade any portion of it to be presented at the temple. He then sat down with his household, but no one except himself had the hardihood to taste. The superstitious chiefs and people naturally expected to see vengeance poured upon the sacrilegious prince, nor was he himself without secret misgivings that spoiled the keen relish with which he would otherwise have rioted on the delicious food. But nothing disastrous following, he was convinced of the folly of idolatry and the impotence of his gods; he therefore determined to cashier them, and embrace the religion of the missionaries.
Hereupon he convened his chiefs, told them what he had done, and exhorted them to follow his example, at the same time assuring them that he should employ no coercion, but leave every one free to do as he pleased. For himself and his house, however, he declared, like Joshua of old, that they would serve the Lord. By an extraordinary correspondence of feeling, the principal men and a great proportion of the common people, in comparatively a short time, came to the same resolution. The majority of the idols were, in the sequel, committed to the flames, or delivered to the missionaries as spoils of the gospel, and Jehovah was publicly confessed to be the only God of the Tahitians. After repeated enquiries we are fully satisfied that no
compulsion was used to carry this wonderful measure; and human compulsion, if attempted, would probably never have carried it against priests, and chiefs, and people, all inveterately attached to the superstitions of their fathers. What but the great power of God alone could have done this?
On our walk to-day, we called at several houses of the natives, by all of whom we were cordially welcomed. In one we saw two women making cloth of the inner bark of
ertain trees. A strip of this, being carefully cleaned from the outer rind, is placed upon a piece of wood, called tutu, about four inches square, with two deep grooves on one side, and smooth on the other. This is beaten by women sitting on the ground, with an instrument of the wood called le. This is about eighteen inches long, and two inches square, one end being rounded for a handle. The four sides of this instrument are cut longitudinally into grooves, graduating in fineness; the coarser being applied first, and the finer successively till the cloth is finished. This bark being glutinous, the pieces are united without difficulty, either sidewise, or end to end, by strokes of the le; these strokes also, reducing the thickness of the materials, both widen and lengthen the cloth, till the whole is completed, in measure and substance, as may be required. When thus prepared the web is first bleached, and afterwards stained the colour intended. This is altogether women's work.
In another house, we witnessed the manner of making that sort of matting called pini, which is of a coarse texture, woven of rushes by the fingers. The ends of the rushes where the joints occur, are cut off with a muscleshell, as expertly as they might be with a pair of scissors. When the makers offer these mats for sale, they expect an
equal length of white calico in exchange. They are used for flooring and bedding; the latter by the natives, the former by the missionaries.-We found others of the industrious people employed in manufacturing the mats, which they call paua, of cocoa-nut leaves, cut into necessary lengths and breadths, which are admirably platted together, and form very strong protections to keep out the rain, when laid, as they generally are, at the doors of the dwellings.
The process of obtaining cocoa-nut oil next caught our attention. The kernel is first scraped into thin flakes, being ingeniously scooped out of the shell by means of a semicircular piece of flat iron, sharpened and fixed upon the angular point of a sloping stool, on which the person sits, and turns the nut, open at one end, over this edge till the contents are cleared out. The sliced kernels are then put into a trough, or an old canoe, where in a few days the oil drains from them, is carefully collected, put into bamboos, and corked up
This oil is called mori, and has entirely superseded the candle-nut for lighting. To the missionaries, however, the natives are indebted for this valuable preparation.
An opportunity was afforded us of observing the Tahitian method of baking. A broad, shallow excavation, shaped like a tea-saucer, six inches in depth, and wide in proportion, was made in the ground by means of a pointed stick. A fire was then kindled in it with dry wood, over which a number of stones, the size of a man's fist, were piled, and left till they were highly heated. The wood ashes being then carefully separated, the glowing stones were spread over the bottom of this oven. A pig's head and feet were placed on one side, upon the stones, and on the other two pieces of bread-fruit, from which the rind had been scraped.
The whole was then covered with purau-leaves to a good depth, upon which was heaped the earth that had been scooped out of the hole, to keep in the heat and steam. In less than an hour and a half, the flesh and fruit were ready; and the earth and leaves being carefully removed, the food was brought out perfectly clean and well cooked. The whole was cleverly managed by a little boy ten years of age. Large hogs are sometimes roasted whole in these earth-ovens, having some of the hot stones put into the inside. Being thus prepared the gravy is retained, and the meat is excellent.
Oct. 10. The old man, who calls himself Mr. Mane, and Captain Cook's friend, whose new house we expect to occupy, has engaged, at Mr. Nott's request, to make the necessary division of it into rooms, for our accommodation. He is very civil, and will not employ any one to help him in the work, being determined to do every thing himself. The people of Tahiti are not of various trades and occupations, every man, even the chiefs, with few exceptions, being able to build his house, construct his canoe, manufacture his fishing tackle, &c., and when we consider with how few and simple tools he contrives to do all this, his skill and dexterity are admirable.
One of our taios (or friends), has presented us with a hog, some cocoa-nuts, maias and mountain plantains. When a present is thus made, it is usually placed on the outside of the house, and the chief, whose servants have brought it, himself enters and invites his friend to come out and look at it. The latter of course complies, and orders his attendants to bring the articles within doors. No expressions of thanks are used on these occasions, and we cannot find out that the language contains any terms for such acknowledgements. We have learnt, however, that