Murat Halstead.

The Story of the Philippines and Our New Possessions, Including the Ladrones, Hawaii, Cuba and Porto Rico The Eldorado of the Orient online

. (page 33 of 44)
Online LibraryMurat HalsteadThe Story of the Philippines and Our New Possessions, Including the Ladrones, Hawaii, Cuba and Porto Rico The Eldorado of the Orient → online text (page 33 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the whole of this ceremony.

"We were now led back to the other division of the Morai, where there
was a space ten or twelve feet square, sunk about three feet below
the level of the area. Into this we descended, and Captain Cook was
seated between two wooden idols, Koah supporting one of his arms,
whilst I was desired to support the other. At this time arrived a
second procession of natives, carrying a baked hog and a pudding,
some bread fruit, cocoanuts and other vegetables. When they approached
us Kaireekeea put himself at their head, and presenting the pig to
Captain Cook in the usual manner, began the same kind of chant as
before, his companions making regular responses. We observed that
after every response their parts became gradually shorter, till,
toward the close, Kaireekeea's consisted of only two or three words,
while the rest answered by the word Orono.

"When this offering was concluded, which lasted a quarter of an hour,
the natives sat down fronting us, and began to cut up the baked hog,
to peel the vegetables and break the cocoanuts; whilst others employed
themselves in brewing the awa, which is done by chewing it in the
same manner as at the Friendly Islands. Kaireekeea then took part of
the kernel of a cocoanut, which he chewed, and wrapping it in a piece
of cloth, rubbed with it the Captain's face, head, hands, arms and
shoulders. The awa was then handed around, and after we had tasted it
Koah and Pareea began to pull the flesh of the hog in pieces and put
it into our mouths. I had no great objection to being fed by Pareea,
who was very cleanly in his person, but Captain Cook, who was served
by Koah, recollecting the putrid hog, could not swallow a morsel;
and his reluctance, as may be supposed, was not diminished when the
old man, according to his own mode of civility had chewed it for him.

"When this ceremony was finished, which Captain Cook put an end to
as soon as he decently could, we quitted the Moral."

Evidently the whole purpose of Captain Cook in permitting this
performance, was to flatter and gratify the natives and make himself
strong to command them. The Captain himself was sickened, and got away
as quickly as he could without giving offense. This was not the only
case in which the native priests presented the navigator as a superior
being. Perhaps the view the old sailor took of the style of ceremony
was as there were so many gods, one more or less did not matter. Cook
never attached importance to the freaks of superstition, except so
far as it might be made useful in keeping the bloody and beastly
savages in check. Bearing upon this point we quote W.D. Alexander's
"Brief History of the Hawaiian People," pages 33-34:

"Infanticide was fearfully prevalent, and there were few of the older
women at the date of the abolition of idolatry who had not been guilty
of it. It was the opinion of those best informed that two-thirds of
all the children born were destroyed in infancy by their parents. They
were generally buried alive, in many cases in the very houses occupied
by their unnatural parents. On all the islands the number of males was
much greater than that of females, in consequence of the girls being
more frequently destroyed than the boys. The principal reason given
for it was laziness - unwillingness to take the trouble of rearing
children. It was a very common practice for parents to give away
their children to any persons who were willing to adopt them.

"No regular parental discipline was maintained, and the children
were too often left to follow their own inclinations and to become
familiar with the lowest vices.

"Neglect of the helpless. Among the common people old age was
despised. The sick and those who had become helpless from age were
sometimes abandoned to die or put to death. Insane people were also
sometimes stoned to death."

Again we quote Alexander's History, page 49:

"Several kinds of food were forbidden to the women on pain of death,
viz., pork, bananas, cocoanuts, turtles, and certain kinds of fish,
as the ulua, the humu, the shark, the hihimanu or sting-ray, etc. The
men of the poorer class often formed a sort of eating club apart
from their wives. These laws were rigorously enforced. At Honannau,
Hawaii, two young girls of the highest rank, Kapiolani and Keoua,
having been detected in the act of eating a banana, their kahu, or
tutor, was held responsible, and put to death by drowning. Shortly
before the abolition of the tabus, a little child had one of her eyes
scooped out for the same offense. About the same time a woman was
put to death for entering the eating house of her husband, although
though she was tipsy at the time."

Captain Cook seems to have committed the unpardonable sin in not
beginning the stated work of preaching the gospel a long generation
before the missionaries arrived, and the only sound reason for this
is found in Dibble's History, in his statement that the islanders
steadily degenerated until the missions were organized.

Writers of good repute, A. Fornander, chief of them, are severe with
Captain Cook on account of his alleged greed, not paying enough for
the red feathers woven into fanciful forms. Perhaps that is a common
fault in the transactions of civilized men with barbarians. William
Penn is the only man with a great reputation for dealing fairly with
American Red Men, and he was not impoverished by it. Cook gave nails
for hogs, and that is mentioned in phrases that are malicious. Iron
was to the islanders the precious metal, and they were not cheated. A
long drawn out effort has been made to impress the world that Cook
thought himself almost a god, and was a monster. The natives gave to
the wonderful people who came to them in ships, liberally of their
plenty, and received in return presents that pleased them, articles
of utility. Beads came along at a later day. The natives believed
Cook one of the heroes of the imagination that they called gods. He
sought to propitiate them and paid for fruit and meat in iron and showy
trifles. His policy of progress was to introduce domestic animals.

Note the temper of Mr. Abraham Fornander, a man who has meant honesty
of statement, but whose information was perverted:

"And how did Captain Cook requite this boundless hospitality, that
never once made default during his long stay of seventeen days in
Kealakeakua, these magnificent presents of immense value, this delicate
and spontaneous attention to every want, this friendship of the chiefs
and priests, this friendliness of the common people? By imposing on
their good nature to the utmost limit of its ability to respond to
the greedy and constant calls of their new friends; by shooting at one
of the king's officers for endeavoring to enforce a law of the land,
an edict of his sovereign that happened to be unpalatable to the new
comers, and caused them some temporary inconvenience, after a week's
profusion and unbridled license; by a liberal exhibition of his force
and the meanest display of his bounty; by giving the king a linen
shirt and a cutlass in return for feather cloaks and helmets, which,
irrespective of their value as insignia of the highest nobility in the
land, were worth, singly at least from five to ten thousand dollars, at
present price of the feathers, not counting the cost of manufacturing;
by a reckless disregard of the proprieties of ordinary intercourse,
even between civilized and savage man, and a wanton insult to what he
reasonably may have supposed to have been the religious sentiments of
his hosts." This is up to the mark of a criminal lawyer retained to
prove by native testimony that Captain James Cook was not murdered, but
executed for cause. The great crime of Cook is up to this point that of
playing that he was one of the Polynesian gods. Fornander says: "When
the sailors carried off, not only the railing of the temple, but also
the idols of the gods within it, even the large-hearted patience of
Kaoo gave up, and he meekly requested that the central idol at least,
might be restored. Captain King failed to perceive that the concession
of the priests was that of a devotee to his saint. The priests would
not sell their religious emblems and belongings for "thirty pieces
of silver," or any remuneration, but they were willing to offer up
the entire Heiau, and themselves on the top of it, as a holocaust to
Lono, if he had requested it. So long as Cook was regarded as a god
in their eyes they could not refuse him. And though they exhibited no
resentment at the request, the want of delicacy and consideration on
the part of Captain Cook is none the less glaring. After his death,
and when the illusion of godship had subsided, his spoliation of the
very Heiau in which he had been deified was not one of the least of
the grievances which native annalists laid up against him."

Contrast this flagrancy in advocacy of the cause of the barbarous
natives with the last words Cook wrote in his journal. We quote from
"A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean," by Captain James Cook, F.R.S.,
(Vol. II., pages 251-252):

"As it was of the last importance to procure a supply of provisions
at these islands; and experience having taught me that I could have
no chance to succeed in this, if a free trade with the natives were
to be allowed; that is, if it were left to every man's discretion to
trade for what he pleased, and in what manner he pleased; for this
substantial reason, I now published an order prohibiting all persons
from trading, except such as should be appointed by me and Captain
Clarke; and even these were enjoined to trade only for provisions and
refreshments. Women were also forbidden to be admitted into the ships,
except under certain restrictions. But the evil I intended to prevent,
by this regulation, I soon found had already got amongst them.

"I stood in again the next morning till within three or four miles
of the land, where we were met with a number of canoes laden with
provisions. We brought to, and continued trading with the people in
them till four in the afternoon, when, having got a pretty good supply,
we made sail and stretched off to the northward.

"I had never met with a behavior so free from reserve and suspicion
in my intercourse with any tribe of savages as we experienced in the
people of this island. It was very common for them to send up into
the ship the several articles they brought for barter; afterward, they
would come in themselves and make their bargains on the quarter-deck.

"We spent the night as usual, standing off and on. It happened that
four men and ten women who had come on board the preceding day still
remained with us. As I did not like the company of the latter, I
stood in shore toward noon, principally with a view to get them out
of the ship; and, some canoes coming off, I took that opportunity of
sending away our guests.

"In the evening Mr. Bligh returned and reported that he had found
a bay in which was good anchorage, and fresh water in a situation
tolerably easy to be come at. Into this bay I resolved to carry the
ships, there to refit and supply ourselves with every refreshment
that the place could afford. As night approached the greater part
of our visitors retired to the shore, but numbers of them requested
our permission to sleep on board. Curiosity was not the only motive,
at least with some, for the next morning several things were missing,
which determined me not to entertain so many another night.

"At eleven o'clock in the forenoon we anchored in the bay, which is
called by the natives Karakaooa, (Kealakeakua), in thirteen fathoms
water, over a sandy bottom, and about a quarter of a mile from the
northeast shore. In this situation the south point of the bay bore
south by west, and the north point west half north. We moored with
the stream-anchor and cable, to the northward, unbent the sails and
struck yards and topmasts. The ships continued to be much crowded
with natives, and were surrounded by a multitude of canoes. I had
nowhere, in the course of my voyages, seen so numerous a body of people
assembled in one place. For, besides those who had come off to us in
canoes, all the shore of the bay was covered with spectators, and many
hundreds were swimming around the ships like shoals of fish. We could
not but be struck with the singularity of this scene, and perhaps there
were few on board who lamented our having failed in our endeavors to
find a northern passage homeward last summer. To this disappointment
we owed our having it in our power to revisit the Sandwich Islands,
and to enrich our voyage with a discovery which, though the last,
seemed in many respects to be the most important that had hitherto
been made by Europeans, throughout the extent of the Pacific Ocean."

This is the end of Cook's writing. His murder followed immediately. He
fell by the hands of people for whom his good will was shown in
his last words. The concluding pages of the journal answer all the
scandals his enemies have so busily circulated.

There is a gleam of humor that shows like a thread of gold in the
midst of the somber tragedies of the Sandwich Islands, and we must not
omit to extract it from "The Voyage of Discovery Around the World" by
Captain George Vancouver, when he spent some time in Hawaii, and gives
two bright pictures - one of a theatrical performance, and the other
the happy settlement of the disordered domestic relations of a monarch.

_A Gifted Native Actress and Some Royal Dramatists._

"There was a performance by a single young woman of the name of
Puckoo, whose person and manners were both very agreeable. Her dress,
notwithstanding the heat of the weather, consisted of an immense
quantity of cloth, which was wreaths of black, red and yellow feathers;
but, excepting these, she wore no dress a manner as to give a pretty
effect to the variegated pattern of the cloth; and was otherways
disposed with great taste. Her head and neck were decorated with
wreaths of black, red and yellow feathers; but, excepting these,
she wore no dress from the waist upwards. Her ankles, and nearly half
way up her legs, were decorated with several folds of cloth, widening
upwards, so that the upper parts extended from the leg at least four
inches all round; this was encompassed by a piece of net work, wrought
very close, from the meshes of which were hung the small teeth of
dogs, giving this part of her dress the appearance of an ornamented
funnel. On her wrists she wore bracelets made of the tusks of the
largest hogs. These were highly polished and fixed close together in
a ring, the concave sides of the tusks being outwards; and their ends
reduced to a uniform length, curving naturally away from the center,
were by no means destitute of ornamental effect. Thus equipped, her
appearance on the stage, before she uttered a single word, excited
considerable applause.

"These amusements had hitherto been confined to such limited
performances; but this afternoon was to be dedicated to one of a more
splendid nature, in which some ladies of consequence, attendants on the
court of Tamaahmaah, were to perform the principal parts. Great pains
had been taken, and they had gone through many private rehearsals, in
order that the exhibition this evening might be worthy of the public
attention; on the conclusion of which, I purposed by a display of
fireworks, to make a return for the entertainment they had afforded us.

"About four o'clock we were informed it was time to attend the royal
dames; their theatre, or rather place of exhibition, was about a
mile to the southward of our tents, in a small square, surrounded
by houses, and sheltered by trees, a situation as well chosen for
the performance, as for the accommodations of the spectators; who,
on a moderate computation, could not be estimated at less than four
thousand, of all ranks and descriptions of persons.

"The dress of the actresses was something like that worn by Puckoo,
though made of superior materials, and disposed with more taste and
elegance. A very considerable quantity of their finest cloth was
prepared for the occasion; of this their lower garment was formed,
which extended from their waist half down their legs, and was so
plaited as to appear very much like a hoop petticoat. This seemed
the most difficult part of their dress to adjust, for Tamaahmaah,
who was considered to be a profound critic, was frequently appealed
to by the women, and his directions were implicitly followed in many
little alterations. Instead of the ornaments of cloth and net-work,
decorated with dogs' teeth, these ladies had each a green wreath made
of a kind of bind weed, twisted together in different parts like a
rope, which was wound round from the ankle, nearly to the lower part
of the petticoat. On their wrists they wore no bracelets nor other
ornaments, but across their necks and shoulders were green sashes,
very nicely made, with the broad leaves of the tee, a plant that
produces a very luscious sweet root, the size of a yam. This part of
their dress was put on the last by each of the actresses; and the party
being now fully attired, the king and queen, who had been present the
whole time of their dressing, were obliged to withdraw, greatly to
the mortification of the latter, who would gladly have taken her part
as a performer, in which she was reputed to excel very highly. But
the royal pair were compelled to retire, even from the exhibition, as
they are prohibited by law from attending such amusements, excepting
on the festival of the new year. Indeed, the performance of this
day was contrary to the established rules of the island, but being
intended as a compliment to us, the innovation was permitted.

"As their majesties withdrew, the ladies of rank and the principal
chiefs began to make their appearance. The reception of the former by
the multitude was marked by a degree of respect that I had not before
seen amongst any inhabitants of the countries in the Pacific Ocean. The
audience assembled at this time were standing in rows, from fifteen
to twenty feet deep, so close as to touch each other; but these ladies
no sooner approached in their rear, in any accidental direction, than
a passage was instantly made for them and their attendants to pass
through in the most commodious manner to their respective stations,
where they seated themselves on the ground, which was covered with
mats, in the most advantageous situation for seeing and hearing the
performers. Most of these ladies were of a corpulent form, which,
assisted by their stately gait, the dignity with which they moved,
and the number of their pages, who followed with fans to court the
refreshing breeze, or with fly-flaps to disperse the offending insects,
announced their consequence as the wives, daughters, sisters, or other
near relations of the principal chiefs, who, however, experienced no
such marks of respect or attention themselves; being obliged to make
their way through the spectators in the best manner they were able.

"The time devoted to the decoration of the actresses extended
beyond the limits of the quiet patience of the audience, who
exclaimed two or three times, from all quarters, "Hoorah, hoorah,
poaliealee," signifying that it would be dark and black night before
the performance would begin. But the audience here, like similar ones
in other countries, attending with a pre-disposition to be pleased,
was in good humor, and was easily appeased, by the address of our
faithful and devoted friend Trywhookee, who was the conductor of the
ceremonies, and sole manager on this occasion. He came forward and
apologized by a speech that produced a general laugh, and, causing
the music to begin, we heard no further murmurs.

"The band consisted of five men, all standing up, each with a highly
polished wooden spear in the left, and a small piece of the same
material, equally well finished, in the right hand; with this they
beat on the spear, as an accompaniment to their own voices in songs,
that varied both as to time and measure, especially the latter;
yet their voices, and the sounds produced from the rude instruments,
which differed according to the place on which the tapering spear was
struck, appeared to accord very well. Having engaged us a short time
in this vocal performance, the court ladies made their appearance,
and were received with shouts of the greatest applause. The musicians
retired a few paces, and the actresses took their station before them.

"The heroine of the piece, which consisted of four or five acts, had
once shared the affections and embraces of Tamaahmaah, but was now
married to an inferior chief, whose occupation in the household was
that of the charge of the king's apparel. This lady was distinguished
by a green wreath round the crown of the head; next to her was the
captive daughter of Titeeree; the third a younger sister to the queen,
the wife of Crymamahoo, who, being of the most exalted rank, stood in
the middle. On each side of these were two of inferior quality, making
in all seven actresses. They drew themselves up in a line fronting
that side of the square that was occupied by ladies of quality and
the chiefs. These were completely detached from the populace, not
by any partition, but, as it were, by the respectful consent of the
lower orders of the assembly; not one of which trespassed or produced
the least inaccommodation.

"This representation, like that before attempted to be described, was
a compound of speaking and singing; the subject of which was enforced
by gestures and actions. The piece was in honor of a captive princess,
whose name was Crycowculleneaow; and on her name being pronounced,
every one present, men as well as women, who wore any ornaments above
their waists, were obliged to take them off, though the captive lady
was at least sixty miles distant. This mark of respect was unobserved
by the actresses whilst engaged in the performance; but the instant
any one sat down, or at the close of the act, they were also obliged
to comply with this mysterious ceremony.

"The variety of attitudes into which these women threw themselves,
with the rapidity of their action, resembled no amusement in any
other part of the world within my knowledge, by a comparison with
which I might be enabled to convey some idea of the stage effect
thus produced, particularly in the three first parts, in which there
appeared much correspondence and harmony between the tone of their
voices and the display of their limbs. One or two of the performers
being not quite so perfect as the rest, afforded us an opportunity
of exercising our judgment by comparison; and it must be confessed,
that the ladies who most excelled, exhibited a degree of graceful
action, for the attainment of which it is difficult to account.

"In each of these first parts the songs, attitudes and actions appeared
to me of greater variety than I had before noticed amongst the people
of the great South Sea nation on any former occasion. The whole, though
I am unequal to its description, was supported with a wonderful degree
of spirit and vivacity; so much indeed that some of their exertions
were made with such a degree of agitating violence as seemed to carry
the performers beyond what their strength was able to sustain; and had
the performance finished with the third act, we should have retired
from their theatre with a much higher idea of the moral tendency of
their drama, than was conveyed by the offensive, libidinous scene,
exhibited by the ladies in the concluding part. The language of the
song, no doubt, corresponded with the obscenity of their actions;
which were carried to a degree of extravagance that were calculated
to produce nothing but disgust, even to the most licentious."

From "A Voyage of Discovery," by Captain George Vancouver:

_The Reconciliation by Strategy of a King With One of His Queens._

"Tahowmotoo was amongst the most constant of our guests; but his
daughter, the disgraced queen, seldom visited our side of the bay. I
was not, however, ignorant of her anxious desire for a reconciliation
with Tamaahmaah; nor was the same wish to be misunderstood in the
conduct and behavior of the king, in whose good opinion and confidence
I had now acquired such a predominancy that I became acquainted with
his most secret inclinations and apprehensions.

"His unshaken attachment and unaltered affection for Tahowmannoo was
confessed with a sort of internal self conviction of her innocence. He
acknowledged with great candor that his own conduct had not been
exactly such as warranted his having insisted upon a separation from



Online LibraryMurat HalsteadThe Story of the Philippines and Our New Possessions, Including the Ladrones, Hawaii, Cuba and Porto Rico The Eldorado of the Orient → online text (page 33 of 44)