Manners And Customs Of The Natives Of Hutaitee, Etc.
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
A LETTER FROM A GENTLEMAN ON BOARD THE "ENDEAVOUR," GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE NATIVES OF UTAHITEÉ Hou À HANÎ, BOLOBOLO, AND UNATÉCHA.
We steered for Utahiteé, in the latitude of 17 deg. 10 min. South, and longitude of 150 deg. 32 min. W., from the Meridian of Greenwich, from whence Mr. Green made all his calculations. We continued here three months, and became as easy and familiar in the time as the natives, who are a kind, hospitable, active, sensible people. We married with their women, and enjoyed a felicity amongst them peculiar to the salubrity of so sweet a clime. As for my part, I never relinquished a situation with so much grief and dissatisfaction. The isle is well stocked with hogs, dogs, poultry, fish, and fruit; particularly the bread-fruit, which, when baked, is superior to any made with wheat. At meals the great people are attended with many servants, who feed their masters, dipping their fingers every two mouthfuls into vessels with clean water. This is an idle luxury peculiar to this place. They have also plenty of yams here, and a fruit of most exquisite taste, like the European apple, with a stone within it like a peach. The people are active fishermen, and make all their lines of grass. There is a white hearn that frequents these isles, which the inhabitants call the " bird of God ;" they pay great respect to it, nor could we so much offend them as by shooting it. They have one particular belief in their religion, which would be a most humiliating thought with us : they are convinced that gentlemen in a future state will retain their rank, but that servants will ever be servants. Monsieur Bouganville had been here before us with two sail of ships, and brought the French disease among the poor people. He sailed from this place to Batavia, but made a fruitless voyage as well as Captain Wallace.
We sailed from Utahiteé to Hou â Haniè, which is the Isle of handsome women, and is forty-five leagues west Utahiteé. Here we continued a week; but our crew being injured by the villainy of Bouganville's people, the captain would not suffer them to go on shore. This Isle is esteemed more fertile and more wholesome than the rest—and I vow, with the greatest sincerity, that it justly deserves the name—for I never beheld such a beautiful race of women, so elegantly limbed, and so divinely featured.
About the same distance from this Isle as Utahiteé is, lies Unatéchâ and Bolobolo ; the latter is distinguished and dreaded by the inhabitants of all the other isles, being near eighty in all. The natives of Bolobolo are a banditti who have been driven from the other places for capital crimes ; their punishments are only throwing them into the sea, and leaving them to gain some shore ; and Bolo-bolo has been the place they have always escaped to. This island being more mountainous than the rest, they always escape to the hills whenever they are pursued, and without license or fear invade the other islands, and carry off whatever they please. The name of a Bolobolo man is their greatest dread, and they repeatedly solicited us to destroy them with our guns. Whenever these villains take any prisoners, they always cut off their lower jaws, and leave the wretch to linger and die ; and from such acts of singular barbarity they are a terror to the other islanders.
We coasted along the shore of New Holland, which is rocky and dangerous, from 40 deg. of south latitude to r0 deg., running more than twice the ship on shore : the last time was very near being fatal to us, the ship making so much water from the damage she received that we were obliged to lay her on shore, where she was neaped almost three weeks by the tides, and then we only looked at one side, for when we arrived at Batavia, we found in the opposite side a large piece of coral sticking, which, if it had dropped out at sea, the ship must have foundered in an instant. The savages were very trouble-some upon New Holland, attacking us very often ; and by setting all the sea-grass on fire round the ship, they were very near burning the vessel and blowing up all our powder. Upon this barbarous shore we took an uncommon curious animal, which weighed up wards of eighty pounds ; it was formed like a rat in the face and ran erect on its hinder legs. The savages, by way of ornament, run fish-bones through their noses, and are a warlike, stout people, for ever jealous of our encroachments, nor would they suffer us to land without various attacks. Upon this inhospitable shore I shot a large dog, which, when we were at short allowance of provisions, we eat with great greediness, notwithstanding it had a most filthy taste ; but hunger will bring the human stomach to any repast when deeply necessitated.
We touched upon a small island called Suabu, about fourteen days' sail from Batavia, where we met with every species of provisions in abundance, and where we also met with the first miracle in the world a country well inhabited, whereon fornication was never known.