The last decade of the fifteenth century was notable for voyages and discoveries of far-reaching importance. Spain and Portugal were the leading maritime nations, and their sailors extended European discovery and trade westwards across the Atlantic to the Americas, and eastwards to India and the Indies. Columbus had sought a western route by sea to India - a name applied at the time to the whole of the known East - and had found the West Indies and coasts of the neighbouring mainland. Vasco da Gama had discovered an ocean route to India and had opened up a sea-borne trade in the silks, cotton, pearls, spices, and other commodities of the East. For the possession of these riches there was keen competition between Spain and Portugal. Their rival claims were referred to Pope Alexander VI, who compromised by partition, basing the claims of the Spaniards on the discoveries of Columbus, and those of the Portuguese on their discoveries in the Atlantic. Under the terms of the first of three papal bulls (May, 1493) all parts of the world not in the possession of any Christian prince were to be divided between the two nations, the line of partition being the meridian one hundred leagues west of the Azores; all lands west of that line fell to Spain, and those east of it to Portugal. In the following year the line was moved 270 leagues farther west; and in 1502, a third bull created the King of Portugal "Lord of the navigation, conquests, and trade of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and India." There was much speculation as to what opportunities for trade and exploitation he unknown parts of the New World might offer, and a period of important voyages and discoveries followed. In the East, Portuguese sailors explored and traded among the islands of the Indies; and in 1512, some of these men were blown west from the Moluccas. Though no importance was attached to the incident at the time, this was probably the first incursion of Europeans into the Pacific. In the West, the Spaniards were pushing forward the frontiers of their territories around the Caribbean to Florida and the Isthmus of Panama. Basco Nunez de Balboa landed on the coast of Darien with a b and of armed adventures, who cut their way through steamy forests and hostile tribes across the mountains of the Isthmus. In September, 1513, having seen from afar the broad face of a new sea, they reached the coast, fell on their knees to give thanks, and waded into the water to claim their discovery for Spain. They called it the Southern Sea. The name is significant, for, from that peak in Darien, Balboa had gazed south, towards the coast of Columbia; the waters he saw were those of the Gulf of Panama, and not those of the Pacific, which lay to the west. Nor did he live to learn more of the discovery; within a year he fell from favour, and was beheaded, in Darien.
It was known that on the Atlantic coast of South America there were deep indentations that might afford a passage to Balboa's Southern Sea. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese sailor who as a young man had sailed with a fleet to the Moluccas, was fired with the idea of discovering such a passage. His proposal was received coldly by the King of Portugal, so he turned to the rival court of Spain. Here he met with more interest and support: five old ships - the Spaniards would not risk better ones - were patched, fitted out, provisioned and manned; the scheme survived threats of sabotage, and discords sown by the Portuguese - now jealous of the project; and the fleet sailed from Cadiz on 10th August, 1519. But the seeds of discord had taken root; the captains were truculent, jealous of their foreign leader, while Magellan's own dictatorial attitude only added to his difficulties. He reached Rio de Janeiro on 13th December, with one captain under arrest. Here he took in provisions, sailed south to the estuary of the Plate, and followed it till it narrowed to a river. He battled his way south, along the now desolate coast, and wintered at Port St. Julian, on the coast of Patagonia, less than five hundred miles from Cape Horn. During that severe winter, which was beyond anything these southern Europeans had ever experienced, discontent grew to open revolt. Magellan marooned some of the malcontents, executed others as traitors, transferred his flag to the Victoria, and prepared to sail on. By the end of the winter his best ship was a total wreck, two of his captains had been executed and a third marooned, he had been away for over a year, and he had accomplished - nothing. But in November, 1520, the four ships threaded their way for twenty days through the narrow winding waters of the Straits of Magellan, and on the 29th they sailed out into the broad Pacific. The captains wanted to turn back, having accomplished what they had set out to do; but Magellan was unmoved by their protests. With provisions short, captains mutinous and afraid, ships in disrepair, he sailed on. His best remaining ship was lost, and with it the main food supply, but still he sailed on to complete a voyage the like of which had never been known before. On his first voyage, Columbus was out of sight of land for thirty-three days; Magellan's voyage to the Philippines took five hundred and fifty-five days. For four months he struggled against cruel calms, his crews tortured by scurvy and bad food, his ships foul and sluggish. Land was sighted on 6th March, 1521 - the Landrones, or Thieves' Islands; and here rest, fruit, meat, fresh water, restored the crews. Three weeks later Magellan thought he had reached his goal, the Moluccas; but it was a new group - the Philippines - and here his Malay slave heard words he could understand. Magellan did not live to complete his voyage. He was killed in an unnecessary skirmish in the Philippines, and his senior captain, Del Cano, assumed the command. One ship was abandoned as useless; the remaining two loaded spices at the Moluccas. One of them foundered on the voyage home, but the battered Victoria reached Spain on 6th September, 1522 - the first ship to circumnavigate the world. Of the two hundred and thirty-four officers and men who had left Spain three years before, there were thirteen wasted survivors.
For nearly fifty years the vast Ocean was not farther explored. There were Peruvian voyages to islands far to the west, but the Spaniards were fully occupied in developing their new colonies. At length in November 1567, the viceroy of Peru despatched an exploring expedition under Alvaro de Mendana. Nearly three months later Mendana reached Santa Ysabel, in the Solomon Islands, where he laid out a settlement and built a small ship for local explorations. His men discovered other large islands in the Solomons; but there were difficulties of food supply, and after six months the settlement was abandoned.
In order to avoid the dangers of the Straits discovered and sailed by Magellan, treasure from the Spanish colonies on the Pacific coast of South America was shipped to the Isthmus of Panama, carried overland to the Caribbean coast, and re-shipped to Europe. Of those who did attempt to use the Straits, most met with disaster. The passage had almost been forgotten when, in 1578, Sir Francis Drake sailed through it to make a surprise raid upon the Spanish settlements on the Pacific coast. Drake left Plymouth on 15th November, 1577, in the Pelican, with four other ships, two of which he sent back ten months later when near the entrance to the Straits of Magellan. He passed through the Straits in favourable weather, and sailed out into the Pacific. Then gales robbed him of his two consorts, one foundering with all hands, the other being blown back into the Straits and returning to England. His own ship, now the Golden Hind - was driven south; and when the weather cleared he found himself off Cape Horn. He sailed thence up the Pacific coast, captured a Spanish treasure ship, sacked Valparaiso, harried the settlements on the coasts of Chile and Peru, took seventeen ships in the harbour of Callao, crossed the Equator, sailed up the coasts of Mexico and California, sought in vain for a northern passage back to England, then stood off across the Pacific to the Philippines and the Moluccas. The golden Hind reached Plymouth sound again on 26th September, 1580, having circumnavigated the world, as Magellan's Victoria had, in three years.
Mendana made a second voyage into the Pacific, in 1595, with the object of colonizing the Solomon Islands; but he failed to find them again, and died at Santa Cruz. Ten years later, De Quiros and Torres, who had been with Mendana, left Callao on an attempt to find the Great Southern continent, the existence of which the geographers of the period had postulated as being necessary to balance the land masses of the Northern Hemisphere. De Quiros spent some time in the New Hebrides and Banks groups, and was probably not far from Fiji. The Dutch sailors Schouten and Le Maire, also, narrowly missed discovering Fiji when, in 1616, in the ships Hoorn (110 tons) and Eendracht, having rounded Cape Horn and entered the Pacific, they discovered Niuatobatabu or Kepple's Island, and Futuna.
It is possible that, during the sixteenth century, some Spanish ship reached Fiji; but if so, it must have met with disaster, for no record of such a visit has been found, nor was there among the Fijians any tradition that would suggest one. Nothing was known of Fiji until the middle of the seventeenth century (1643); and its existence was first reported, not by Spaniards from the Pacific coast of South America, but by Dutch sailors from the East Indies.
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II - The Discovery Of Fiji
Tasman and Bligh share the honour of first place among the discoverers of Fiji. Tasman was first, b y 146 years; he sighted about a dozen islands, did not land, and nearly lost his ships. Bligh saw and roughly charted no less than thirty-nine islands; nineteen in the Eastern or Lau group, eight in Central Fiji or Lomaiviti, and twelve - including the large island of Viti Levu - in the west. He made two visits, the first in a ship's boat and under appalling conditions, the second in a warship complete with tender; but like Tasman, he did not land. For the rest, Captain Wilson of the missionary ship Duff, and the Russian commander Bellingshausen, each made discoveries; and Captain Cook recorded one small island in Southern Lau.
For nearly two hundred years the process of discovery and exploration went on, each navigator adding some new feature to the growing map. After Tasman and Bligh, the map was filled in mostly by captains whose chief business was anything but discovery. Navigation in Fiji waters was risky work; a more reef-infested area would be difficult to find anywhere; and of the nearly discoverers, only Cook got away without a narrow escape from shipwreck.
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Moved by reports of the wealth that the Spanish and Portuguese had wrung from their discoveries in the New world, and convinced that rich lands lay in the vast and almost unknown area of the south of the Indies, the Dutch at Batavia undertook explorations of their own. In August, 1642, the Council of India instructed Abel Janszoon Tasman and other semen to take the ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen on a voyage of "discovery and exploration of the unknown and known South Land, the south-eastern coast of New Guinea, and the islands in these seas. Tasman's ships sailed first to Mauritius, a small island lying east of Madagascar and then in Dutch hands, and, after refitting, set a course with the trade wind, southward, until the region of westerly winds was reached. Still working to the south, Tasman sought in vain for the expected South Land, then turned east and discovered Tasmania, which he named Van Diemen's Land after the Governor of Batavia. On 13th December he discovered New Zealand (Staten Land), where his attempts to take in water and wood were frustrated by hostile natives. Having lost three men killed and one wounded, he sailed away on a northerly course in order to gain the belt of south-easterly trades, and the natives, and took in much-needed supplies. After a short stay in Tonga he bore north-west for the Indies; and on 6th February, 1643, found his ships entangled among unexpected reefs and islands which were later proved to have been the north-eastern part of the Fiji group. It was the hurricane season, with variable winds, poor visibility due to rain, and dangerous calms. He found no anchorage, and was unable to make contact with any of the natives. His first glimpse of Fiji was nearly his last, for, with larger ships or on a lower tide, he must have been lost on the Nanuku Reefs (named by him Heemskerck Shoals), which stretch for thirty miles along the western margin of the deep Nanuku Passage, the gateway of the Fiji group from the north. Unable to sheer off, he shot the reef with little water under his keel. That danger past, he navigated the deep waters of Tasman Strait, noting numerous points of land glimpsed through mist and rain, and left his way north past Cikobia Island and so out of the Group. He was just in time, for soon afterwards he encountered a hurricane. Tasman's discoveries were coldly regarded by the Dutch authorities at Batavia, and for more than a hundred years nothing more was known of Fiji. Dutch ships explored the coast of New Holland, but all avoided the dangers of the reefs that so nearly ended Tasman's voyage.
The next navigator known to have visited Fiji was Captain James Cook. He first entered the Pacific in 1768, in the bark Endeavour, in which he took a party of scientists to Tahiti, to observe the transit of the planet Venus. After leaving Tahiti he explored the coasts of New Zealand and Eastern Australia, and reached England again in June, 1771. Soon he was away again on his second voyage, with two ships, Resolution and Adventure. He rounded the Cape of Good Hope, visited New Zealand, sailed south until he was turned back by icebergs, went to Tahiti, and - in returning south - visited Tonga. He spent four days at 'Eua and Tongatabu (October, 1773), and returned to New Zealand. A few months later he revisited Tonga by way of Niue, and spent four days at Nomuka (June, 1774). It is likely that, from information gathered during these two contacts with the Tongans, cook new what to expect in the seas immediately to the west; for, in setting his course from Nomuka to the New Hebrides, he avoided the reef-infested waters of the main Lau group. On 2nd July, 1774, the ships sighted a small island, which they approached next morning. Cook named it Turtle Island, from the numbers of those creatures seen about on the reefs; but it is now known by its native name, Vatoa. On the approach of the ships the natives fled; but soundings were taken and observations made of the island and the adjacent reef; and the master's boat left presents for the natives on a rock near the village; some nails, a knife, and a few medals. These medals must have puzzled the Vatoa people, since their use would be obscure; and there is no record of any of them having been seen since. Cook sailed south-west for some days after leaving Vatoa, until a change of wind enabled him to set a course for the New Hebride3ws. Thus he passed to the south of the Moala and Kadavu groups without seeing either of them.
Towards the close of 1788, Lieutenant Bligh of the royal Navy was at Tahiti, in H.M. armed vessel Bounty, to get young breadfruit trees for introduction to the West Indies. After a stay of six months, during which the spell of the South Seas was cast over his crew, he sailed early in April, 1789, and anchored in Nomuka Roads, Tonga, to take on wood and water. From Nomuka the Bounty sailed north, and two days later (28th April), when the ship was within sight of Tofua Island, the crew mutinied. The mutineers thrust Bligh and eighteen loyal officers and men into the ship's launch - 23 feet long and rowing six oars - with little more than seven pounds of bread and a gallon of water for each man, four cutlasses, and no firearms. By evening the launch was in the lee of Tofua; but, not knowing if natives were near, Bligh lay off-shore and the men slept in the boat. When morning came they landed with difficulty through the surf and searched for food and water; but that part of the island was arid, and they found nothing. Unsuccessful efforts to sail round to the windward and fertile side made it clear that the heavily-laden launch could not go counter to the sea, and they returned to their first landing place. A few natives appeared, who bartered food for buttons, handkerchiefs, and anything else the men could spare. On the following day, however, the natives were hostile. Seeing that an attack was imminent, Bligh ordered a retreat to the boat, and the party pushed off under a shower of heavy stones; several men were injured, and one was killed while attempting to let go the grapnel. Being without firearms, Bligh would trust no more to treacherous natives. Tahiti was not far away, as distances are reckoned in the Pacific; but it lay to windward, and the boat would not sail against wind and sea. With characteristic courage Bligh determined to make for the Dutch East Indies. The nearest ?Dutch settlement he knew of was on Timor, which lay a little north of west, a full 3,600 miles away. The daily food ration was worked out at an ounce of bread and a gill of water for each man, and the launch headed west.
Bligh had learned of the Fiji Islands while in Tonga with Captain cook, twelve years before; he had also made some inquiries of the natives at Tofua; and when, on 4th May - two days after leaving Tofua - he sighted a flat-topped island, he knew it to e one of the Fijis. One the 6th he saw other islands, and on the 7th he wrote in his log, "This day I discovered ten other islands, and at noon . . . was chased by two large canoes. Storms of thunder, lightning and rain; caught six gallons of water". He left the Fiji group through Round Island Passage, north of the Yasawas, amid heavy gales and high seas, he and his men "suffering every degree of distress". Twenty days after leaving Fiji, having passed and named islands in the Banks group, Bligh sighted the coast of New Holland. The men were very weak. They slept on an island on the Great Barrier Reef, and during the following days passed from island to island within the lagoon, eking out their food supply with fern roots, oysters, and a few sea birds. On 3rd June they rounded Cape York, and next day Bligh set a course for Timor, which was sighted after eight days of hardship and suffering. The party reached the settlement at Koeipang on 14th June, feeling that "they could not have lived a week longer, perhaps not a few days".
Not the least achievement of this astounding voyage was the discovery of many of the islands of the Fiji group, lying between those seen by Tasman and that seen by Cook. Bligh had, in fact, sailed right through the centre of the Group, from south-east to north-west, as the trade winds blow. The following wind had enabled him to outdistance the double canoes that chased him, for that chanced to be the only wind on which they could not make the speed for which they were noted. Two years later H.M. frigate Pandora (Captain Edwards) was sent to search for the mutineers. Among her officers was Lieutenant Hayward, who, as a midshipman, hade been with Bligh in the Bounty's launch. When the Pandora reached Tahiti, only fourteen of the mutineers remained on the island. Edwards arrested them, and seized a small schooner which they had built of local timber. The schooner was fitted out as a tender for the Pandora, with a prize crew under Mr. Oliver; and the two ships continued the search in company until became separated in a storm off Upolu Island, Samoa. The tender then made here way to Tofua Island, in the Tongan group, where Oliver waited as long as he could in case the Pandora should be sighted. At length, being short of food and water, he sailed west in search of an island where he could get supplies. He came to high land - certainly in the Fiji group, and most probably Matuka - and was hospitably received by the natives. He stayed there for five weeks before sailing for the Dutch East Indies. No record of his experiences in Fiji has been found, but it is tolerably certain that the crew of the ship were the first Europeans to live in close contact with the Fijians.
In the following year, 1792, Bligh returned in H.M.S. Providence, in company with the tender Assistance, to repeat his assignment of gathering young breadfruit trees at Tahiti. He took the opportunity to revisit the islands he had discovered; and on 5th August he passed Moce, and entered the group near the passage he had used three years before. He tacked about in the Koro Sea from Yacata to Gau, passed the south-eastern corner of Viti Levu seeing the "cockscomb" peaks of Korobasabasaga Mountain in the distance, and then sailed south and west along the great reef that fringes Kadavu. During the six days he was in Fiji waters he did not land; but he communicated with natives who came off to the ship from Moce. His second visit confirmed and added to his earlier discoveries, and established his position as the discoverer of the majority of the Fiji Islands, which, for a time, were known in England as Bligh's Islands.
When Bligh's observations had been published, the Fiji group was known to include at least one large island, perhaps two; and its extent was known within broad limits. There yet remained the exploration and charting of the islands; large parts of the map were blank. Such observations as had been made were for the most part rough and ready. Cook, indeed, had taken Vatoa's position under conditions that made for accuracy; but Tasman lacked exact instruments, and had not the advantage of modern methods of determining longitude; and Bligh took most of his sights under conditions of great difficulty, from a tossing and over-crowded boat. The wonder is that these observations were so nearly correct.
Towards the turn of the century several ships visited Fiji waters and added to the store of knowledge of the Islands. While sailing from Tonga to New Caledonia in the course of a voyage to discover the fate of La Perouse's expedition, D'Entercasteaux and Kermadec, in the French ships La Recherche and L'Esperance, sighted Vatoa (Turtle Island) in april, 1793. Cook had already recorded the island with his usual thoroughness, and no landing was made. On 26th April, 1794, Captain Baber, in the 95-ton snow Arthur, on a voyage from Port Jackson to the Pacific coast of America, saw land ahead; soon six islands, one of them large and mountainous, were in view. Barber anchored in a bay on the west coast of Viti Levu, and some canoes came off to the ship; but attempts to buy supplies failed, the Fijians being unaccustomed to trade. On the following day a number of canoes approached the ship, and the natives attacked and attempted to board. Two of the crew were wounded by arrows, but the attackers were beaten off with muskets and swivel guns. Captain Barber was the first to approach Viti Levu and the Yasawas from the west, and his reception was not such as to encourage others to follow him.
The visit of Captain Wilson, in the London Missionary Society's ship Duff, was of more importance. The Duff left London in August, 1796, with missionaries for the Pacific. She was turned back at Cape Horn by storms, and Wilson boldly sailed away east instead of west. His voyage was thus to be some seven thousand miles longer than had been intended, but he made his easting along the "roaring forties", and early in the following hear landed his missionary passengers at Tahiti, the Marquesas, and Tonga. His main purpose accomplished, he set a course for Canton, China, to get a cargo of tea as back-lading. This course brought him into touch with the Fiji group. On 8th September, 1797, he hove to, having sighted two islands, one of which (Yagasa Levu) he called Table Island. Before dark other islands appeared to the west, and Wilson rightly supposed them to be the islands Bligh had seen after leaving Tofua in the bounty's launch. That night, with "brisk gales and a hollow sea", they drifted near to a reef, and regarding their escape as providential they named it Providence Reef. Next morning they sighted more islands, all surrounded by extensive reefs. Their position becoming critical, they tried to beat back the way they had come, but an increasing gale and high seas left them little hope of saving the ship. However they were helped by the tide, get clear, and spent that day and the following night tacking to gain easting, and working northwards outside the barrier of the Lau Islands. On the 12th they were north of Vanua Balavu, and hauled up to try and communicate with natives on the beach; approached Qamea and Laucala, again seeing "vast numbers of natives assembled on the beach and smoke among the trees"; saw Taveuni, Rabe, Kubulau Point, Udu Point; and passed the islands in Budd Reef in sea as smooth as a river.
The smooth sea was nearly their undoing; they did not see the reef until they struck heavily; but they backed off, and were relieved to find that the pint of impact was over one of the ship's timbers, and the hull was not holed. Having left these islands astern they thought they were out of the Group on the morning of the 14th, however, they sighted Cikobia Island, stood in to the land, but could find no anchorage. Again, they saw natives in the distance; but coming upon more reefs they hauled their wind and stood away, leaving Farewell Island (as they named Cikobia) astern. Wilson recognized these as the islands among which Tasman had been entangled, and also supposed that there were other islands, larger, to the south-west, and between his course and that taken by Bligh. His short but eventful time in Fiji waters gained him the credit of discovering a large number of the islands and reefs of the northern part of Lau, from Vanua Balavu to Naitauba.
Fiji was approached from another quarter when, in December, 1799, during the closing days of the century, the American ship Ann and Hope, Captain C. Bentley, touched at Kadavu while on a voyage from Australia. Resuming her voyage, the Ann and Hope passed Beqa and Vatulele islands, the south-western corner of Viti Levu, and Malolo; and her people saw perhaps eighteen or nineteen islets and rocks in the shallow seas west of the main island.
With the departure of the Ann and Hope the eighteenth century closed; and with it ended the long isolation of the Fijian people. In the years that lay ahead, discovery was to give place to exploration and settlement, isolation to trade and development, primitive savagery to civilization and Christianity. The turn of the century proved to be also a turning point of events in these islands.
THE FIRST EUROPEANS
The changes that were to sweep over Fiji, and the disasters that were to result from contact with the outside world, were heralded by a wreck. Some time during the opening years of the new century the schooner Argo, on a voyage from China with a cargo for the penal settlements at Norfolk Island and Port Jackson, was blown off her course, struck at night on the Bukatatanoa Reefs, east of Lakeba, and became a total wreck. The actual date of the wreck is uncertain. Wilkes gave it as 1806, and some later writers quoted him; Thomson, however, found that the wreck was associated in Fijian tradition with the appearance of a comet, the date of which he determined as 1803; Thurn's researches led him to place the wreck earlier, in 1800. There is some evidence in support of Wilke's date; a whaling ship named the Argo cleared from Port Jackson for the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, on 20tjh September, 1805; early in 1806 she returned to Sydney cove, and later fished off the coast of New Holland for six months. If the possibility of there being two ships of the same name is excluded, it must be supposed that the Argo was wrecked late in 1806. Whether, however, the wreck occurred in 1800, 1803, or 1806, the results are not in dispute. A number of the crew were taken off by canoes drawn from Oneata Island by prospects of plunder; and of these survivors, some became involved in local fights and were killed, others were said to have reached Tongatabu in Tongan canoes; a few, however, remained at Lakeba or eventually made their way to the larger islands of western Fiji. Except for the brief visit of the Pandora's tender these were probably the first white men to live among the Fijians.
There were other wrecks after the loss of the Argo. Some of the shipwrecked sailors left Fiji as soon as opportunity offered; others, attracted by easy licence and freedom from the restraints of civilized communities, stayed in the islands to support an existence among the natives as "beach-combers", living on what they could pick up or were given by hospitable chiefs. In a short time they were joined by others; deserters, marooned sailors, derelict scourings of the ports of the Old World, among them some of the worst and lowest of their kind. The ships in which these strangers came were, for a time, a source of wonder to the Fijians, and seemed laden with desirable things; but wonder is short-lived among primitive peoples, and soon new arrivals were regarded with dull incurious eyes. As for the men themselves, their ways were as strange and uncouth to the Fijians as Fijian customs were to them; their hosts thought them useful rather than admirable.
From islands in eastern Fiji - Matuku, Lakeba, Oneata, where the first white men landed - evidence of a strange new world, beyond the horizons of Fiji and Tonga, spread westwards throughout the Group. Pieces of broken plates and a few buttons probably from the Argo wreck, reached Bau where they were a nine days' wonder. A canoe from Bau sighted a sandalwood ship near Koro Island; and, to support their tales of the wonders they had seen, the crew brought back a monkey, a cat, and some hatchets. The old men used to tell of an unknown white man, known among them as Na Matai (the craftsman)), and probably a seaman from the Argo, who came to Bau and died there soon afterwards.
These events were the first faint streaks of light that announced the beginning of a new era, which was to burst upon Fiji with the suddenness of a tropical dawn. The change was hastened by two things: the first, the discovery by European captains of the presence of sandalwood in the scrub along the south-west coast of Vanua Levu; and the second, the adventitious introduction of firearms from a wreck. For more than a decade sandalwood made Bua Bay one of the best known and most frequented ports in the South Seas; and the introduction of the musket changed the face of Fijian politics, giving rise to new and powerful states, making white traders and beach-combers welcome when they brought only demoralization and destruction, and altering the character of the frequent native wars. The Fijians paid dear for these first encounters with Europeans. Following the visit of the Pandora's tender, a strange new sickness appeared, which the people attributed to supernatural agency. A more destructive disease, which became epidemic throughout the whole Group, was int5rodueced with the men from the Argo. John Hunt supposed it to be a form of cholera, or acute dysentery; the Fijians called it na lila balavu (the wasting sickness); but what it really was can never be known. All that is recorded is the tradition of its ravages.
Probably there was no apparent sickness among the survivors from the Argo. Her crew, as indeed all such crews, would be more or less immune from the diseases common in Europe and the Asiatic ports; but some among them might easily have been carriers, and Fiji was virgin soil. Disastrous epidemics of this character have consistently followed the first contacts of Pacific Islanders with people from overseas. "Vessels can come to a native island with no apparent sickness on board, yet shortly afterward an epidemic of tuberculosis, pneumonia, dysentery, gonorrhea, measles, or syphilis may set in. The boat may stay a day or so and go on, entirely ignorant of the disaster which sweeps over the native non-immune population like fire through a dry forest". During the next hundred years, diseases regarded by Europeans as trivial, carelessly introduced, swept through the islands in death-dealing epidemics; measles, whooping cough, influenza, dengue fever, dysentery, all took their toll. And to the ravages of disease were added the evil results of the unaccustomed use of alcohol. Rum, cheap and potent, became the chief article of trade at Levuka from the late 'sixties until Cession. One of the first causes of the Cakobau Government's unpopularity was its tax upon spirits; and when the tax was imposed, stills for making "moonshine" whisky and "ganbarrel" rum became common and were not even illegal. In the country districts of Fiji, rum, firearms, and ammunition, were the articles of trade most in demand by the chiefs. "The Europeans were immunized against alcohol by the usage of thousands of years; the natives had no resistance to it"; and when they began to drink it, the result was disastrous. Its harmful effects were most evident among the high chiefs, many of whom acquired the habit of its use - and abuse - either through misdirected hospitality or from conceit and a desire to appear sophisticated. The common people, indeed, could rarely afford to buy it the chiefs had usually both the opportunity and the means. Along the straggling beach street of Levuka, nearly every second store or shop sold alcohol.
It is idle, when discussing native peoples, to moralize about their choosing the worse features of civilization and neglecting the better. 'Disease, alcohol, and firearms were thrust upon the Fijians - disease by carelessness and indifference, alcohol and firearms by avarice or the force of circumstances. They paid a high price for their adjustment to the new conditions which were brought about by the coming of the European. The epidemic of na lila balavu was among the earliest of their disasters. "Its progress through the Group was fearfully rapid and destructive; in many places it was with the greatest difficulty that persons could be found to bury the dead. Those who were seized died in agony". At length the sickness passed, leaving stricken villages and thinned populations in its path. And then, within the short space of three years, the sandalwood boom was upon the unsuspecting natives.
The sandalwood tree grows slowly in light scrub, on steep and rocky slopes or on low rolling hills, in dry areas. Formerly it abounded on the hills behind Bua Bay, and round Rukuruku and Wailea bays, all of which are at the south-west end of Vanua Levu. The light-brown timber, especially the oldest wood and the butt of the tree, contains an aromatic oil; and it was long prized in Polynesia for scenting coconut long after it had collapsed. Tongan canoes made voyages to Fuki to get sandalwood. During the earlier period, the Tongans gave in exchange for it galu or bark cloth, sail mats, and the sting of the ray, which the Fijians used for pointing their spears. Later, when whaling ships frequented Tonga but had not yet invaded Fiji, the Tongans brought articles such as nails, axes and chisels, and whales' teeth; and the trade in these things became so brisk that, in Mariner's time (1806-10), it was feared that there would be a scarcity of them in Tonga. It was, however, the demand for sandalwood in 'china and India, and in the markets of Batavia and Manila, that gave rise to the notorious trade in the Pacific. In 'China, the larger pieces were made into articles used for ceremonial religious observances; and the sawdust and other fragments were made into joss-sticks and incense. The high prices offered on the Chinese market made sandalwood one of the most valuable timbers in the world; and at the close of the eighteenth century Spanish ships from Manila were scouring the Pacific islands in search of it.
One of these ships, El Plumnier, was captured by the British and taken to Port Jackson, where she was sold, refitted, and sent in quest of beche-de-mer. After an unsuccessful cruise, she reached Tongatabu; and there her owner learned of the sandalwood obtained by the Tongans from the Fiji Islands. Failing to get firewood and water from the inaptly named Friendly Islanders, the El Plumier sailed up on the wind to Lakeba. Her she picked up a beach-comber, Slater, possibly a survivor of the Argo wreck, who told her people of the sandalwood said to grow on the coasts of the "Great Land" - Vanua Levu. Feeling their way among the reefs from island to island the El Plumier's people searched for a time in vain. At length they came to Vuya, Bua, and here they found the wood they sought. The crew were afraid to land; but logs of sandalwood were brought off in canoes by the natives, and a cargo of fifteen tons was got in exchange for pieces of iron. Little was known at this time about the Fiji group, except that Bligh had twice penetrated the barrier of reefs to the eastward and had sailed among the central islands, and that Wilson had broken through farther to the north. The sandalwood ships came the same way. Tonga they knew; and Tongatabu and Nomuka were convenient anchorages from which to make the uncharted Fijis. On this course the prevailing winds were fair; the ships sailed north-west, along the fringe of the Lau Islands, and thence across the open waters of the Koro Sea to Sandalwood Bay.
When the Sandalwood Coast became known ships followed one another in quick succession, and often there were several of them competing for cargoes at the same time. Ships from Port Jackson, Calcutta, and the New England ports of America, successively entered the trade. The risks were enough to keep all but the boldest out of the business, but there were huge profits to be earned. None but old ships, fit only to carry logs, were hazarded; there were no navigation laws, to protect the men, who sailed them, and ship-owners made fortunes. Even after the first bloom was off the trade, profits averaged 600 per cent, while at the peak period the profits were enormous. The Jenny, in which Lockerby came to Fiji, left with 250 tons of wood obtained for trade goods worth 50 pounds and her cargo was expected to realize about 80 pounds a ton, or 20,000 pounds in China. Such alluring profits brought a rush of ships; but he supplies of sandalwood were limited, and as the thickets were cut out, competition grew. The Fijians were too numerous and warlike for the high-handed methods adopted later in other parts of the Pacific, and for a time the trade was comparatively respectable. Later, when competition was keener, captains began to offer chiefs the help of their crews in war as an additional inducement to cut cargoes. The Fijian trade lasted only ten years; but it laid the foundations of the larger trade which during the next forty years cursed and blasted the people of the island groups lying to the west, and when at last the sandalwood failed, the labour ships took up the work of destruction.
It took a year or so for the El Plumier's discovery to become known. The scramble began later. Of these ships known to have been at Sandalwood Bay during 1804, the Fair American got way with a full cargo, the 26-ton schooner Marcia took 15 tons to Port Jackson, and the Union was wrecked on Koro Island. Slater of the Argo, and two sailor companions - Ajken and Bailey - were much in demand as interpreters, and as intermediaries between ships and chiefs.
At Port Jackson, New South Wales, governor King at first, resisted applications from merchants for permission to enter the trade, fearing that it might lead to infringement of the East India Company's rights, which extended over a wide area of the South Seas and were already challenged by the whalers. In 1806, however, permission was granted; but the vessels used were small, and they were soon in competition with larger and better-fitted East Indiamen from Calcutta. Then American ships from Salem, Nantucket, New Bedford, and other ports on the Atlantic coast of America, became interested. Whether the American ships entered the Pacific by way of Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope, the voyage to Tonga and thence to Fiji commonly occupied up to five or six months, and only well-fitted ships were suitable for the trade. Inevitably there was rivalry between Colonial and American crews. In May, 1808, the American ship Jenny found herself forestalled by two ships from Port Jackson. Her captain entered into friendly relations with the chief of Bua, learned of the sandalwood to be obtained fifty miles farther along the coast, at Wailea Bay, and got a full cargo. The years 1808 and 1809 marked the peak of the boom; and cargoes procured in exchange for crude chisels made from old iron, or for nails, beads, and other trinkets, were sold at Port Jackson to vessels loading for China at as much as 70 pounds a ton. Then duties were imposed, both in New South Wales and in England, and Colonial vessels took a smaller share of the trade. When Captain Bligh was Governor of New South Wales, he seems to have felt a proprietary interest in the islands he had discovered; being jealous of the share taken in the trade by the Americans, he attempted without success to establish the right of the British East India company to protection against the encroachments of American ships. East Indiamen had one advantage over their competitors in the scramble for cargoes; they were able to bring elephants' tusks for barter. The principal articles of exchange were axes, knives, cheap razors, and whales' teeth; and the Fijians would give as much wood for a large tooth as for five or six axes. Elephants' tusks could be cut into pieces of assorted sizes; and these, when shaped like whales' teeth, were much in demand. The largest of these manufactured teeth procured vast quantities of sandalwood, and were so highly prized that chiefs would come from distant islands to see them.
Sandalwood became scarce at Bua Bay, and in March, 1809, Lockerby set out to sail round the island in search of new supplies. He got no further than Naduri, where he found sandalwood in small lots; but apparently his informants promised little prospect beyond there, for he returned, and three months later left the Group in the General Wellesley. The end was approaching. The very success of the trade was killing it.
All this coming and going of ships was having an effect upon local politics, and the fortunes of Rawaike, the chief of Bua, soared. He had been a second-rate chief, but now his political standing was high; his district was thickly populated and prosperous; he lived, as befitted his new-found dignity, in a wooden house - the first in Fiji, and built as payment for sandalwood by a firm of merchants at botany Bay. Rival chiefs became jealous of his prosperity and wealth, and subject peoples were dissatisfied with their share of the good things. Tui Bua found himself involved in quarrels and reprisals, and visiting captains were quick to curry favour with their patron and to steal a march on their competitors by offering help in these little wars. Lockerby had become the intermediary between ships and chiefs, and he and his followers were drawn into native affairs and became important men. They joined a flotilla of 150 canoes from Bua, in a campaign to subdue the people of Tavea, being present at the siege and sack of the town, and witnessing scenes that would have caused most men to leave the country. Reprisals against Bua were averted by the presence of the brig Favourite, which had picked up Mariner at Tonga; and the combined boat-crews of the ships General Wellesley, Tonquin, and Favourite, then taking on logs at Galoa Bay, attempted without success to make peace between Tacilevu and Bua. Tui Bua came to an agreement to supply Lokcerby with a cargo of sandalwood for the Favourite in return for help against the Tacilevu people; and when the logs were safely under hatches (October, 1808), Lockerby and sixteen other well-armed European sailors joined a force of eighteen hundred warriors in an attack on Tacilevu village. On 2nd November that stronghold was taken, and the war ended in a massacre where horrors were long talked of on the coast.
Once begun, this manner of securing cargoes became an essential feature of the trade. Captain Robson of the Calcutta ship Hunter, who visited Sandalwood Bay twice before 1812, and again in 1813, was perhaps no worse than others; and Dillon tells how he helped the Wailea people in their wars, "assisting them to destroy their enemies, who were cut up, baked, and eaten in his presence". On its last visit the Hunter anchored with its tender in Wailea Bay on 19th February, 1813. Vunisa, the local chief, demanded that Captain Robson should help him against his rebellious subjects at Nabekavu. At first Robson demurred; but sandalwood came in slowly, and at length he agreed to take part in the expedition on condition that he got a full cargo within two months. Early in April a successful attack was made on Nabekavu, but at the end of July only 150 tons of logs, about one-third of the expected cargo, had been obtained. Robson quarrelled with his late allies, attacked them, and lost a number of his crew. Such activities effectively killed the trade; the natives became hostile, and wreaked their vengeance for outrages committed by one ship on the crew of the next. In any case, by 1813 there was scarcely enough sandalwood left for the Fijians' own use, and the trade died. The Calcutta brig Campbell Macquarie (Captain R. S. Siddons) called in 1814, but no other ships are recorded for five years. When, in 1825, Peter Dillon revisited Sandalwood Bay in the Calder, he got only 500 pounds of sandalwood in three weeks, whereas he had got 150 tons in the same timed in 1808. Altogether, thousands of tons must have been exported. The trees were so completely cut out that, in 1840, the United States Exploring Expedition had difficulty in finding even a few specimens for their collections.
For the natives, the sandalwood trade was probably the most injurious of all their early contacts with white traders. It has been said that every stick of the wood had blood upon it. Chief vied with chief in laying claim to patches of trees that had suddenly become valuable; they drove their people to cut logs, quarrelling over the spoils. The natives generally were greedy to posses such new wealth as hoop-iron fashioned into crude chisels, or trade knives and axes; and when there was a chance of success they would attempt to rob or even murder traders to get these prized implements more easily. Outrages gave rise to reprisals, and generally the natives suffered more than the whites.
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Of the many ships that came to Fiji for sandalwood, the American brig Eliza (Captain E. H. Corey) did most to shape the course of events among the Fijian people; and she failed to reach Sandalwood Bay. In May 1808, the Eliza cleared from Port Jackson, and twelve days later anchored at Tongatabu to begin preparations for the last stage of the voyage. Here two ragged sailors - John Husk and Charles Savage - came off to the ship, claiming to be survivors of the massacred crew of the Port au Prince, and begging to be taken on as memb3rs of the crew. The captain agreed, and they joined the ship. The Eliza's owners were interested in more than sandalwood, however; included in the cargo were 40,000 Spanish dollars and a quantity of firearms. After passing the Lau Islands the captain got too far south of his course, and the ship piled up on the Mocea reef, nine miles south of Nairai, and became a total wreck - an event which launched upon Fiji a triple disaster: Charlie Savage, the firearms, and the dollars. Together, they were the means of changing the course of events over a large part of the Group.
The weather was calm, and the crew had no difficulty in savaging most of the treasure. They loaded 34,000 dollars into the longboat, with navigating instruments, muskets, a cask of powder and ball, cutlasses, and some of their clothes; then they made for the island and set about burying the money for safety. The natives were made for the island and set about burying the money for safety. The natives were quickly on the scene; and, in accordance with their usual custom, they treated the castaways hospitably enough, but stripped them of everything they had down to the very clothes they wore. Having been more than eighteen months in Tonga, Savage could speak enough Tongan and Fijian to make himself understood, and this knowledge now proved of value. Within a week the captain and four others were allowed to leave in the longboat for Sandalwood Bay, taking with them 6,000 dollars which they had managed to recover. The natives cared little for the coins, and later traded back another 9,000 dollars for a few gaudy trinkets. Two of the crew, Patterson and Steere, got away to the neighbouring island of Batikim taking what dollars they could find; and with most of the others, they ultimately made their way to Sandalwood Bayu and jhokined ships lying there. But not Charlie Savage and his friends. Chiefs came from distant parts of the Group to see the strange while men; a Verata chief persuaded four of them to go with him to Verata; and the crew of a canoe which called on its way from Lakeba to Bau took a fancy to Charlie Savage, begged him of Tui Lawaki - the chief of Nairai --, and took him to Bau to be "the Vuniavalu's white man".
Whether Savage took with him a supply of muskets and ammunition from the wreck, or returned later to search for them, is uncertain. One way or the other he introduced firearms to Bau, and the Vunivalu - Naulivou - was quick to see the advantage they would give him in his wars. Savage soon demonstrated the effectiveness of the new weapons. His aim was excellent, and the Fijians said he was never known to miss. If any doubted the power of the musket, it was amply proved during an attack on Kasavu, a village on the Rewa River. The Kasavu people told Cargill that Savage "stood on his canoe in the middle of the river, less than a pistol-shot from the reed fence of the fortification, and fired on the inhabitants, who had no means of defending themselves". The victims were so numerous that the townspeople piled up the bodies and sheltered behind them; and the stream beside the village ran red. Savage's next exploit was against Verata. Bau's campaign there had been by no means successful; now, in her new-found strength, she attacked again. Savage shot down the astonished warriors of Verata until the survivors took panic and fled; but he himself was wounded in the fight. At Nakelo and elsewhere his deeds were of such a quality that "he was long spoken of with horror by his foes and admiration by his friends. He soon improved his knowledge of Fijian, spoke the dialects fluently, and for more than five years lived at Bau "in very social habits".
Savage was not for long without companions. Before the attack on Verata he had secretly warned his four shipmates there to flee to Bau. Later, drawn by tales he had secretly warned his four shipmates there to flee to Bau. Later, drawn by tales of the lost dollars, seamen from ships loading sandalwood deserted or obtained discharge, bought muskets and ammunition with the few dollar they were able to find, and joined the mercenaries at Bau. Within two of three years there were twenty of them; reckless, cruel, profligate men, whose muskets made them a terror to the enemies of Bau and a pillar of strength to its chief, Naulivou. They were pampered by their patrons; they lived by violence and the safe slaughter of savages armed only with primitive weapons; their reward was unrestrained licence, and their morals were those of the poultry yard. Inevitably, they fought among themselves, and their numbers dwindled. The natives also took a hand. Angered by the depravity and overbearing conduct of these white barbarians, they were in a mood to destroy the whole brawling brood of them; and, when the men from Verata created a disturbance over the division of a fest, in which they fancied themselves slighted, they were clubbed before the chiefs could intervene.
Depraved as these white men undoubtedly were, there were some of the "customs of the land" which they refused to countenance; cannibalism and the strangling of widows. Savage is said to have shot certain Fijians whom he discovered in the act of eating human flesh. But they approved and practised polygamy; indeed women were their highest reward. Savage's wives were numerous, the principal lady being Kapua, a daughter of the Roko Tui Bau. One of his daughters was till living at Rewa in 1840; but the Bauans took the precaution of eliminating any of his male children whose mother was of high rank.
For five years Savage continued at Bau, dividing his time between periods of beach-combing and idleness, and bloody campaigns which laid the foundations of Bau's political power and gained for him the title of Koroi-na-vunivalu. His end came in 1813. With some companions he went in May of that year to the Sandalwood Coast, to work the boats of the Hunter. The lack of success that had attended Captain Robson's efforts to get a cargo ha already been mentioned. He was about to give up in disgust; but first it was necessary to beach his cutter in order to repair damage to the hull. Early in September, Naulivou sent his brother and his nephew, with two large canoes and two hundred and thirty men, to bring the foreigners back to Bau. In the meantime, however, Robson had come into conflict with Wailea canoes at a point sixty miles higher up the coast. Knowing that, when beached, the cutter would be at mercy of the Wailea people, he proposed to destroy the remainder of their canoes before beginning the work. On the morning of 6th September, the crew, Savage and other foreigners from Bau, and a hundred men from the Bau canoes, landed. They reached the summit of Korolevu, a hill some distance inland, burnt the houses there, and then found themselves cut off the foes who were lying in ambush as they climbed. During the massacre that follow3d, Savage, Peter Dillon of the Hunter, and even others (among them the two chiefs from Bau) kept together and fought their way back towards Black rock - a high isolated rock near the shore. Savage, Dillon, and four others reached the safety of the rock in time to see the Bau canoes sail away, leaving them to their fate and the bodies of their two chiefs and sixty of their warriors to be eaten by their enemies. After some hours on the rock, surround3ed by a horde of angry cannibals, Savage tr3ew impatient, and went down, accompanied by a Chinaman, to negotiate a truce. However, he overrated his ability to handle the Wailea people. When those who were left on the rock refused to be enticed down also, the Chinaman was clubbed; and Savage was seized, suffocated head downwards in a pool of water, cut up, cooked, and eaten before his comrades' eyes, and for their encouragement. As a final mark of detestation his bones were later made into sail needles. Dillon and two others, the sole survivors, gained the ship's boat and safety by seizing a priest who came to treat with them, thrusting the muzzles of their loaded muskets to his back and ears, and marching him as a hostage through the crowd of yelling thwarted warriors who thronged their way to within range of the boat's guns.
Savage and his like changed Fiji. They ushered in a new era; a period of muskets and ball, of civil wars, rebellions, invasions, massacres, from which he earlier wars were as far removed as the knightly encounters of the Age of Chivalry from warfare of poison gas and aerial bombardment.
* * * * * *
For a time, muskets were the monopoly of the white beach-combers. The Fijians of the period were "extremely afraid of a gun, and would seldom fire one themselves, and whenever they did, they would pull, and at the same instant drop the piece against them". Their fear was not without reason. The trade muskets were old "Tower" flint-locks, costing a few dollars apiece; and these, when pitted with rust and too generously charged with powder, might be more dangerous to the man who pulled the trigger than to the man aimed at. The Fijians' shooting was wild, and their aim ineffective; and these were not improved by the practice (intended to give it pistol-fashion, with the barrel held in the left hand, at arm's length. Since the chances of a hit were small, to the untaught Fijian the value of the musket was moral rather than lethal. As late as 1871, the "bigheads" of Viti Levu would suddenly spring from cover, discharge their "gaspipe" trade muskets in the air, yell, and disappear. And when their lead gave out they used piece3s of broken bottles. One white man who understood the new weapons could do more damage than a dozen warriors blazing wildly at the enemy; and these whites became important men.
When a tribe got firearms, it became a matter of life and death for the neighbours to get firearms also. In a surprisingly short time the use of muskets became general among the more powerful chiefdoms. The Fijians themselves became more accustomed to firearms; but the whites lost little of the importance, for every chief of standing needed someone who could mend muskets and cast bullets, and it became his ambition to secure and attach to himself a white matai or craftsman. Chiefs spoke of their tame white men as they spoke of their canoes or other possessions - na noqukai ipapalagi. Men were sometimes kidnapped from visiting vessels; deserters were welcomed; and the low whites and runaway sailors, many of them the dregs of the shipping ports of Europe, gained a standing and a place far beyond their merits, which were few.
When the musket lost its novelty, cannon came into use. They were costly, and consumed much powder; their smoke and noise, indeed, overawed the enemy, but in the hands that worked them they were comparatively ineffective as weapons. They are still to be seen in many parts of the Group - rusted relics, with carriages rotted or burnt away.
The handful of ragged traders, and the ships that came for sandalwood and beche-de-mer, were not slow to see the value of the musket as an article of trade. To get arms and powder and lead the chiefs would sell or promise anything, especially lands belonging to others more or less subject to them. Wherever the people were liable to raids, lands were sold for guns, powder, hatchets, and knives. A large proportion of the early land sales, especially along the Macuata coast, the Cakaudrove, at Navua, and at Sigatoka were made for the purchase of arms and ammunition. The Dreketi district of Macuata was in an almost constant state of war until Cession, and the chiefs there were so pressed for firearms that the Lands commission found scarcely any land left in the hands of the local people. In 1840, Wilkes found more firearms on the Bua and Macuata coasts than anywhere else in the Group.
The first effect of the introduction of firearms, and of white men to use them, was an increase in the authority of certain chiefs. Musket fire broke the morale of the enemy, and thus made even the club and spear more effective. In a few years, the chiefs who had the first use of the new weapons doubled their power. But when their own traditional immunity from injury in war broke down, the chiefs lost some of their mana; and when firearms became available to all the warring parties "the same result followed as in Europe upon the invention of gunpowder": the character of warfare changed. It lost its glamour; small local wars were discourage, and warfare became a more serious business.
The New Warfare
The new type of warfare which resulted from the introduction of firearms and the growth of powerful kingdoms, there was still little bloodshed in actual fighting, except when villages were destroyed with all their people. As in warfare of the old style, the losses were highest among the common people who continued to be waylaid, ambushed, clubbed, and eaten, in the best tradition.
In the miscellaneous character of its weapons, a Fijian army must have resembled the peasant rabbles of European history, with their bill-books, scythes, pitchforks, and crowbars. Slashing knives, cheap swords, tomahawks fixed to long handles, axes that resembled the headsman's axe of bygone days, and small cannon, were often preferred to the traditional weapons. The Lakeba people who met Cross and Cargill on the beach in October, 1835, carried muskets, pears, one club, a bayonet fixed to the end of a pole, bows, and bundles of arrows.
In dealing with the period following the first decade of the new century, it is necessary to distinguish between mere local affrays of the old kind, - whi8ch, indeed, continued off and on till Cession - and the new wars of aggression and conquest, in which the Tongans took an increasing part. In the latter wars, lands were laid waste, villages were left in smoking ruin, and the common people were butchered wholesale. Their history is a story of murders, massacres, and burnings; of double dealing and shameless treachery. The most important of them - the Bau-Rewa wars of 1843-55, for example - grew out of family feuds or the quarrels of blood relations in a few leading families. The common people fought to avenge the wrongs, real or fancied, of their high chiefs; sons of one father were to be found on opposite sides; and the "people of the land", whether they belonged to Bau, Rewa, or any other faction, were mere pawns in the game.
Though much larger than before, the new states were still small by usual standards. At the zenith of his power, Naulivou the chief of Bau ruled directly over no more than 15,000 people, though he could bring powerful influence to bear over half the Group. Yet the armed force3s engaged were larger than Fiji had ever known. The high chiefs of the coastal kingdoms sometimes mustered armies of four or five thousand men; but two such armies never met in pitched battle, and their campaigns dwindled to the traditional raids and attacks on fortified villages. The size of these armies was more a matter of pride and prestige than of military necessity and the results of their campaigns were strangely small in relation to the cost and the numbers of men engaged. The warriors of the coastal kingdoms marched and fought better in an army of five thousand than in one of five hundred, while fifty trained troops could have done more than either.
Peter Dillon describes one of the earliest of these campaigns, in which he and other men from the Hunter helped the Wailea people against Nabekavu, in 1813: a thousand warriors went by canoe, three thousand marched by land, and the ship's boats carried twenty sailors armed with muskets. The net results of this attack-in-force were eleven Nabekavu people killed and eaten, a few empty villages burnt, and some food gardens destroyed. In March, 1841, Tui Macnata appealed to Tui Cakau for help against the people of Mali Island, and forty large canoes with two thousand warriors set out from Somosomo. This army browsed its way around the coast like a plague of caterpillars, leaving bare gardens and months of famine where it passed. At length, after feasting and dancing in Tui Macuata's town, the combined forces of Somosomo and Macuata moved against the sugar-loaf hill of Mali, on which the stronghold was perched, with only one approach, steep, and easily defended with stones. The operations began with an exchange of taunts, and with boasting; " each party continued for some time this kind of banter to each other till three of the Mali people ventured half-way down the path, where they stood and dared any or all to come up. All of our party that had muskets fired and killed the three, then rushed up and caught the bodies as they rolled down the path. A number of our people were wounded, and as some of them perhaps all, went rather for amusement then for revenge, there the affair ended".
After more dancing and feasting, the army returned to Somosomo; but within a few months the Mali people had turned the tables. Such campaigns were more like picnics than wars; the risks were few, the diversions many, and food was plentiful while it lasted. The chiefs of the coastal districts seem rarely to have carried their wars to the point of complete and final victory, there were, no doubt, warriors who were anxious, from bravado or hate, to carry a beleaguered stronghold by assault and to destroy it utterly; but there were usually enough others who were luke-warm about it, to restrain them. Among the people of the interior, however, fighting was of a more ferocious character; there, the visitors were satisfied with nothing short of the complete destruction of the vanquished; and Thurston, who knew the interior well, before its specification, noted that, while the population was scanty, there were traces of ruined villages and abandoned cultivation everywhere.
The Fijians continued to attach great importance to the burning of enemy villages. Early in 1850, one hundred and twenty canoes carried the warriors of Bau to attack Verata. The war-fences were still uncompleted, however, when bad weather forced the Bauans to raise the siege and return home. The Verata chief took the opportunity to sue for peace, which was granted on condition that the Bau army was allowed to burn the town. But the people refused to leave, and another attack was necessary to drive them out. Verta was then burnt.
Native warfare was conducted with due observance of ceremonial and of established rules, even among the hill people. When the Ba settlers' punitive expeditions of 1871 came into touch with the "bigheads", heralds approached to talk things over. Finding that the settlers meant war, the heralds retired; and presently a party of warriors in full dress deployed to perform the graceful ceremony of challenge to their enemies. The dancers made excellent marks for the riflemen, and some of the invaders would have fired upon them; but their native allies from Ba begged them to hold their fire, for to have shot down the dancers would have been contrary to native custom. The ceremony over, the hill people set fire to their village, and taking to the bush, worked round to harry the invading force, and the fighting - such as it was - began. The only casualty that day, and indeed during the whole campaign, was one "bighead" wounded as he sprang from cover. That was decisive. His friends retired, taking him with them, and the invaders returned to the coast. The attacking force's immunity from loss was due to good leadership, however, and was not inherent in the nature of hill warfare. When Cakobau led his punitive force into the interior, in 1868, three columns entered from different points on the coast; two, led by Bau chiefs (who were never happy when out of touch with their canoes) were ambushed and wiped out almost to a man; the third , accompanied by Thurston and other experienced Europeans who took precautions against surprise, retired with slight loss.
Occasionally the rules were not observed. In 1868, some of the Qali Mavua and the Toba-ni-vonu, heathen tribes of the Sigatoka valley, raided Nacubu, a Christian village, and destroyed its people. Ratu Kini Nanoro, the chief of Nadroga, gathered forces along the coast from Serua to Nadi, marched inland to Raiwaqa, and burnt several empty villages. In this one=day campaign few were killed and none taken prisoner; but honour was satisfied, and Ratu Kini returned the same day to Sigatoka. However, the hill people stubbornly refused to recognize the burning of their homes and the destruction of their gardens as conquest, and would not present the customary peace offering to Nadroga - an attitude which the coast people thought outrageous.
The Natewa campaign of 1846 is a good example of native warfare on the grand scale, and also of the duplicity and shrewdness that characterized Fijian diplomacy. For five years, and at heavy cost of gifts, Tui Kilakila, 6he chief of Somosomo, had sought to gain Cakobau's help in subduing the Natewa. At length, in June 1848, Cakobau arrived at Somosomo with over three thousand warriors in sixty-six large double canoes and sixteen outrigger war-canoes. There were feastings and ceremonies, and brave boastings (bolebole), and in three days the warriors built a new temple for their lately neglected war-god, who now promised success. In the fourth day the canoes were launched; and the combined flotillas - one hundred and fifty-six canoes - carried between four and five thousand men. On the first day of the attack on the Natewa stronghold two or three of each party had been killed, and the defences breached, when Cakobau declared that that was enough for one day, and called his men of the town was empty. The Natewa people had retired to safety in the night (as, indeed, Cakobau had intended they should), taking their property with them. The houses of this and several neighbouring towns - also empty - were burnt, and the army moved on to the opposite coast. Altogether, after three weeks of burning and pillaging, five or six men had been slain on each side. The overtures of peace were made to Cakobau; and Tui Kilakila, the hereditary chief in whose interests the campaign was supposedly fought, was passed by - again as Cakobau had intended. So the war ended, and Tui Kilakila and his warriors straggled home "very quietly", having suffered far more than the rebellious Natewa. Their powerful allies from Bau carried off most of their property, all their canoes and the carpenters who built them, and what food was left after the feasting; their gardens were stripped, and even the immature crops were uprooted and destroyed. Thus did Cakobau gain a fat province, and humble and cripple a too-ambitious rival, all of that rival's invitation and expense.
Tough the Fijians had the best canoes in the Paciifc, and their sailors were much at home on the sea, there are comparatively few records of sea fights. The great double war-canoe3s were costly; they took five or more years to build, and were within the reach of only a few powerful chiefs. The canoes of Bau were feared wherever they went; sailor chiefs like the elder Mara so outclassed their rivals that probably there were few encounters. Tui Kilakila of Somosomo, however, developed a technique of naval warfare that he used successfully; he met invaders before they could land; at the first news of their approach he would launch his canoes, sail off to meet them, and attack them at sight.
In sea fighting, the chief objective was to ram the enemy canoes, sinking or overturning them, and then to dispose of the swimming crews. To get into position for ramming meant manoeuvring for the wind; and, as this necessitated the use of canoes, which, while fast-sailing, were easily handled, the tabilai or large outrigger canoes were preferred to the heavy double canoes, which were used principally for the transport of warriors and tribute. There are accounts of two sea fights which took place during the Bau-Rewa war of 1843-55. One one occasion Cakobau and his warriors were at Nukui, a town on the coast near the mouth of the Rewa River. Rewa canoes were seen approaching from Kadavu, and three large double canoes - the Tui Nayau, the Kabaiava, and the Lemaki - were hurriedly manned and sent to intercept them. The Lemaki ran down two of the Rewa canoes, but the crews took to the water and escaped; the Tui Nayan rammed a double canoe and san it, killing many of its crew but also losing some of its own; while the Kabalava chased a second double canoe, overtaking the ramming it near Beqa. The remainder of the Rewa sleet put about and returned to Kadavu. Another sea engagement took place in the same waters, in 1852. Two double canoes from Kadavu - The Tawabula and the Lekau rammed and sank the Bulumakau, whose crew were killed to a man; while the Lewayada pressed so close upon the Bukanivanua that the crew beached her and fled, leaving the canoe and its gear in the hands of the Buans. Williams tells how, in a local war between Wainikeli and Somosomi, tui Kilakila met the Wainikeli canoes at sea, rammed them, and drowned or clubbed one hundred of their men - a blow from which Wainhkeli did not recover for many years. But Tui Kilakila's very success was his downfall; Cakobau's eye was upon him, and not the least of the disasters that overtook him as the result of invoking Cakobau's aid against the Natewa was the crippling loss of his carpenters and his canoes; at one blow he lost his most effective defence, and the means of regaining it.
A new feature was introduced into Fijian naval warfare when Macuata canoes used cannon as well as muskets in a sea attack on the Butoni people, at Rabe, in 1844. Later, Ma'afu mounted cannon on two of his double war-canoes; but the practice never became general, probably on account of the strain on the lashings of the canoes.
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Warfare of the kind that has been described, or the constant threat of it, is the background against which the events of the early years of European settlement must be pictured. In one form or another, and with carrying degrees of frightfulness, it continued until the cession to Great Britain in 1874, with occasional outbreaks later. In this warfare the European traders and settlers ranked as neutrals; and with rare exceptions - such as the notorious Pickering at Rewa - they did not actively take sides. The acts of a handful of traders and settlers make u so much of the recorded history of the years before Cession that is easy to attach too much importance to them; they were often little more than eddies on the surface of a flood of native life conditioned by the native wars and all that went with them. Levuka, always a storm-centre, was for long only a collection of native houses peopled by a few dozen Europeans; it grew rapidly during the late 'sixties, and gained much attention from its noisy assertiveness; events moved quickly there, with much coming and going and political activity; but, except for the changes wrought amongst them by outside influences and missionary enterprise - changes which were at first mainly external observances and the abandonment of savage practices - the mass of the people continued to live very much as their fathers had lived before them.
NATIVE AFFAIRS; 1800-1840
At the period of European discovery, the principal Fijian kingdoms were: Rewa, Verata, and Bau, in the south-eastern corner of Viti Levu; Lakeba, in the Lau Group; Cakaudrove, Macuata, and Bua, on Vanua Levu. Many of the ruling families were blood relations, those of Verata, Rewa, Lau, and Bau, for example, being near kinsmen; and most of them were related by marriage as well. Rewa occupied the fertile delta of the Rewa (Wailevu) river, which had long been the most populous part of Fiji; and her ruling family, the Burebasaga, was an ancient aristocracy, whose paramount chief took the title of Tui Dreketi. Verata was already declining in importance, and controlled only a few miles of the Tailevu coast, Viwa and a few smaller islands, and certain islands in Lomaiviti. Bau, which was to play the leading part in the events of the nineteenth century, was as yet relatively unimportant, her chiefs having but recently seized the island stronghold from which, in due cour5se, they dominated a large part of the Grouip. Lakeba was a semi-independent kingdom, much under the influence and occasionally under the control of visiting Tongans. Cakaudrove, also a favourite resort of Tongans, held the eastern coasts of Vanua Levu, Taveuni and neighbouring islands, and the islands of Northern Lau. Macuata and Bua were of less importance, and were often involved in internecine war.
The chief kingdoms were situated on the windward coasts, and at points of Polynesian influence. In the remaining parts of Fiji, which included most of Viti Levu, the interior of Vanue Levu, and the leeward islands - altogether much more than half the land area of the Group - these larger political units, or confederacies, did not develop. That so large a proportion of the people retained a more primitive social structure, of gravity was situated in south-eastern Viti Levu. Here, Verata and Rewa - both ancient states, and of common origin - were menaced by the rise of Bau, whose territory marched with theirs. A situation soon developed in which Bau could not extend on either side except at the expense of her neighbours. As long as Bau should remain weak or neutral, she was well placed as a buffer state. but Bau remained neither weak nor neutral; and during the first half of the century, native affairs in that part of Fiji were dominated by a struggle for supremacy in which these three states engaged. The border lands between Rewa and Bau became the cockpit of Fiji.
In view of the importance that this struggle assumed, it is necessary to realize the scale of its events, and the area over which they were enacted. The Bau stronghold was an island, scarcely more than 350 yards wide in any direction, and only twenty-five acres in extent. Situated in a small bay near the south-eastern corner of Viti Levu, it is separated from the mainland by half a mile of reef flat, fordable at half tide. Verata lies nine miles to the north, as a canoe sails; Rewa is about ten miles in the opposite direction, measured in a straight line, but farther by canoe. And on this Lilliputian scale the last, and greatest, of the Fijian wars was fought.
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The rise of Bau was rapid, and was due partly to the natural ability of her chiefs, and partly to the advantages gained from the first use of firearms. The Bau chiefs claimed descent6 from certain elements of the Kauvadra migration, which, having come to Veratga, divided and wandered widely; in the final stage of their wanderings they settled, in comparatively recent times, on the coast near their pr3esent island, then named Ulu-ni-vuaka (The Pig's Head). The island was occupied at the time by the Butoni, a predatory tribe of sailors and traders. About 1760, the Bau chief Nailatikau seized Ulu-nhi-vuaka and expelled the Butoni, who thenceforth were rovers, wandering to many parts of the Group, and establishing settlements at Lakeba and Somosomo. However, they continued to own a degree of allegiance to their conquerors, and their canoes were always at the disiiposal of the chiefs of Bau for the transport of property and warriors. Nailatikau was succeeded by Banuve, who, during a period of nearly thirty years, consolidated the young state's position and carried out an ambitious scheme of improvements to the island. He reclaimed wide areas of the adjacent reef flats, and built stone canoe-docks and sea-walls as a protection against erosion. And since chiefs need lesser men to fetch and carry, he allowed fishermen from Beqa and craftsmen from Kadavu to settle on the island in the areas known as Lasakau and Soso.
About the turn of the century, Bau's aggressive growth brought her into conflict with Verata; and the earliest account we have of affairs on Viti Levu is of war between them. Banuve was succeeded by Naulivou, whose early tyranny caused defection among certain of the Bau families. Discovery of a plot for his removal brought death to some of the principal conspirators; others fled to Verata, taking with them the allegiance of the border people. This strengthened, Verata gained a series of advantages in the war that followed; but, in 1808, a new and unforeseen factor - Charlie Savage and his guns - turned the scales in Bau's favour. Verata sued for peace; but her chiefs were never completely subdued, and hostilities between the two states recurred from time to time during the next forty years. Repeated attacks, burnings, and massacres failed to break Verata's proud spirit; and only in 1855, when King George of Tonga intervened to establish Cakobau's position in the West, and when Christianity became firmly established there, did the long series of wars end.
During the years that followed Savage's death in 1813, Bau's progress suffered a check. The runaway sailors who took his place failed to reproduce his achievements, partly because they lacked his qualities, and partly because their opponents now possessed firearms. On the sea, however, Bau was more successful. Her sailors carried war to many parts of the Group; canoes from Bau were received with deference in Moala and southern Lau, at Lakeba, and on the coasts of Vanua Levu; wherever they went they were bought off with tribute; and they added the large islands of Lomaiviti to Naulivou's dominions. Some time during the second decade of the century, and probably about 1817, there occurred at Bau an event which was to exercise a powerful influence over the course of events in Fiji. A son was born to Tanoa, younger brother of the king. The child was named Seru; but as a young man he won the proud name of Cakobau, by which he is known in this narrative. His mother, a Bau lady named Adi Savusavbu, was in poor health, and three or four months after the birth of her child, she died. The child lived, however, being nourished on the juice of sugar-cane; and at the age of two years he was taken to Rewa, where he was reared by his mother's younger sister, the Radi Dreketi. He grew up with Tuii Dreketi's sons, among whom was Qaraniqio, later to be his implacable enemy. While the boy was still young, Radi Dreketi became involved in a quarrel and fled with him to Bau. Later, he spent three years at Moala, and the Bau chiefs visited him there to take part in the ceremony of his "putting on the masi". As a young man he took part in a raid on Naigani, in which he gained distinction and the name Tabakaueoro; he was also present at an attack on Nawent, Vanua Levu, in which he was wounded in the groin by a spear. It was not, however, until he was in his early twenties that he displayed the qualities that later raised him to the foremost position among the Fijian chiefs of the century.
Bau's policy was astute and effective. It was compounded of the ancient vasu right, and the Bau chiefs' taste in handsome women. A vasu is a nephew; and these fortunate people had the extraordinary privilege of being able to take, without permission, properly belonging to their mother's brothers (that is, in their maternal uncles) or to their uncles' people. How far that privilege could be carried depended upon the rank of all concerned; but the vasu levu, who was a vasu born of a woman of rank and whose father was a first-rate chief, was indeed a man to be reckoned with; he might sweep a town clean, taking canoes" and other valuable property without so much as "by your leave". This system was exploited to the utmost by the chiefs of Bau. From conquered districts their raiding war-canoes brought back the most handsome women from among the sisters and daughters of the local chiefs; thus Tanoa, when he compered Lakeba, carried off Tui Nayhau's daughter, and for her rank and beauty reserved her for his own household. If these women were of high rank, their sons were vasu levu to the people from whom they came. There were at Bau vasu levu to all principal kingdoms; and their powers were exploited, politically, to secure either convenient neutrality or active participation in Bau's wars. The system worked the other way, also. The sisters and daughters of the Bau chiefs were highly regarded by all chiefs at sufficient rank to aspire to them; and they were given in marriage to carefully selected chiefs. Their sons were vasu to Bau; and, because of their great privilege there, these men were identified with Bau's prosperity. Roko Tabaivahu's queen was Tanoa's sister; the handsome wife of his successor, Banuve, was of the royal blood of Bau; and the sons of these two women led the Bau party at Rewa. Tui Cakau's favourite wife was a Bau lady of the highest rank, and her sons Tui Kilakila and Rabick were Tanoa's protectors and hosts during his exile at Somosomo.
In the field of politics, Bau posed as the champion of the weak against the strong; not, indeed, from any high motives of altruism, but to encourage strife in order that she herself might profitably intervene.
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Before 1800, Bau and Rewa had entered into friendly relations by the inter-marriage of the leading families. For a number of years they were close allies, and this alliance had an important beating on the fortunes of both states. Communication between the two places was through the twisted streams of the delta, or by sea; but about 1810 the way considerably shortened by means of a canal dug by the Nakelo people to link two streams whose navigable mouths were on opposite sides of Kaba peninsula. At first the chiefs of Rewa outdistanced their allies at Bau. By 1817, Rewa had reached the zenith of her power. Her territories had been extended along the south coast of Viti Levu, as far as Nadroga; Beqa Island had been conquered; the river tribes had been laid under tribute as far inland as Naitasiri, forty miles from the mouth. Rewa boasted a fleet of twenty large war-canoes, and numberless smaller ones; she had an army of skilled craftsmen to build others. In 1821-22, however, Rewa was split into hostile factions by dissension and rebellion among the members of her ruling family; and, since this kind of thing afflicted all the leading kingdoms at one time or another, it will be instructive to examine the affair in some detail.
One result of the system of polygamy among the high chiefs, and of intermarriage among the chiefly families, was that each important chief had among his wives women of rank from those states with which his people would be likely to be involved in the event of a major war. This was policy. It lay at the very root of the system of intelligence and espionage. Not infrequently, however, jealousies and intrigues between the sons of one father, by different mothers of high rank, led to intervention by interested kingdoms, and war. Many of the wars of historical times, and the bitterness of them, were civil wars, and nothing more than family feuds on a large scale. The rebellion at Rewa, and the wars to which it gave rise, wins of this nature. Aided by certain white men, Roko Tabaivalu had deposed the ruling chief and usurped his power. Two of his wives were women of high rank from Bau; one was Tanoa's sister, the other belonged to a rival faction; and there was bitter jealousy between them. As Tabaivalu's eight sons grew to manhood, the evil effects of the situation became apparent. Their intrigues and jealousies split the kingdom, caused a series of fratricidal murders, plunged Rewa into a long and bloody war, and ultimately reduced her to the status of a tributary province of Bau. Here is the sordid record: Koroitamana, son of a Kadavu lady, murdered his father the king of Rewa, and was himself killed by loyal warriors; Maranawai was clubbed by his brother Tui Sawau, who was thereupon shot dead by another brother, Veidovi; Veidovi, readily surrendered by his half-brother Qaraniqio, was carried under arrest to the United Sttes on the warship OPeacodk, to expiate his crimes against American citizens; Vakatawanavatu was killed in a local war; Banuve (Kania) was treacherously butchered by Cakobau; the two remaining sons, Cokanauto (also known as Phillips) and Quaraniqio, caused the deaths of many hundreds of their people in a long struggle in which, as the fortunes of war fluctuated, they occupied in turn the position of king of Rewa; Cokanatito drank himself to death at the age of forty, and Qaraniqio died suddenly when he was within striking distance of his arch-enemy, Cakobau. The tale of the disintegration of that family is the tale of the downfall of Rewa.
The most disastrous of these events lie beyond the period of present under discussion. The feuds of Tabaivalu's sons afflicted Rewa for thirty-four years, and were ended only by the authority of Bau, after the Tongan king's peace in 1855. In 1822, however, Rewa recovered from the earliest of these internal troubles; and so long as she remained on friendly terms with Bau she maintained her proud position. She conquered Kadavu in 1829; she joined with Bau in a campaign in southern Lau, that subdued and levied tribute upon all the islands as far as Lakeba itself. In 1838, Rewa town was destroyed by one of the disastrous fires to which Fijian towns were subject; and, when John Hunt arrived there in January, 1839, the place was only partly rebuilt, and ,presented a "wretched appearance".
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While Rewa was thus torn by internal strife, Bau was enjoying a propensity hitherto unknown among the Fijians. By 1828, twenty years after Savage and his guns had started Naulivou on the upward course, that chief had brought Bau to the foremost place among the kingdoms of the Group. Distant tribes and tribute of property, canoes, and handsome women. The fleet at Bau numbered over twenty large war-canoes, and others were cruising in various parts of the Group. A flotilla of more than two hundred smaller canoes came and went at all hours, serving the needs of the three to four thousand people who thronged the cramped space of the island. The flat land on Bau was crowded with house, and twenty high temples, so that there were only narrow unsavoury lanes between. There were frequent alarms on account of fire, for some part of the town was always being set alight by careless or malicious people. By 1825, the warriors of Bau had seized Levuka from the Verata people; they had gone on to conquer the other islands of Lomaiviti; Gau, Koro, Nairai, Batiki, Wakaya, Makogai; and Naulivou was disputing the suzerainty of Lau with the Tongans who dominated Tui Vayau. He had conquered the coastal people of eastern Viti Levu as far as the mouth of the Ba River; he had brought Somosomo under tribute. In the following year, m 1829, his war-canoes dealt Verata another heavy blow; Viwa changed hands, and its chiefs were thenceforth among Bau's most valued allies.
In 1829, Naulivou died leaving Bau in the highest position she ever attained. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa, father of Seru (Cakobau), and a man of a different type. Tanoa was short, slight of build, and of forbidding appearance; his bushy beard, and hair, and face, were habitually smeared with block; his head bore ugly scars left by Naulivou's club - a fact which, no doubt, explains his fondness for covering his head with an abundant sala or turban of bark cloth. He was dull of hearing; and as he grew old, he became very deaf. Among the Europeans he was irreverently known as "Old Snuff", from a peculiar noise in his nose when he spoke. Despite his unprepossessing looks, he lived up to his position: he was a tyrant, even by the standards of Bau; and the number and rank of his wives, and the savage splendour of his household, were such that they aroused jealousy among his near kinsmen. Within three years he had estranged some of the principal Bau families; plots were contrived, intrigues were set on foot, and rebellion resulted.
Tanoa was absent, at Levuka, when, in 1852, the storm broke. Learning that Mara, Namosimalua of Viwa, and other chiefs, had rebelled against him, he fled to Nairai Island, pursued bhy Namosimalua. The wily Namosimalua landed on a part of the island some distance from where he supposed Tanoa to be, and secretly warned his quarry. On the following morning, when the pursuing canoe appeared off the town where "Tanoa had sheltered, the fugitive's canoe was a mere speck on the horizon. With a great show of zeal Namonimalua returned to Bau, got other and larger canoes, and pursued Tanoa to Somosomo, demanding his surrender This Tui Cakau and his sons refused, and Namosimalua returned to Bau, where Ratu Navuaka (Tui Veikoso) one of Tanoa's younger brothers, was formally invested as Vunivalu - the title of the paramount chief of Bau. At Somosomo, Tanoa did not lack support; thetongan chief Lajiki came from Lakeba with a large following of his countrymen, offering help; the Somosomo chiefs were already his allies, while Rewa was loyal to his cause and harassed the rebels. In 1834, the rebels made a further attempt to enforce his surrender. The French brig L'Aimable Josephine was then seeking beche-de-mer on the Tailevu coast; and Captain Des Bureaux agreed to transport the Bau warriors to and from Somosomo, in return for a cargo. The campaign was a failure, for in the half-hearted fighting that took place, the warriors of Somosomo and Lajiki's Tongans easily beat off the Bauans.
Though their voyage had been unsuccessful, the Bau rebels had enjoyed sailing in the large ship immensely and they now conceived the idea of having a ship of their own. They basely planned to seize the French ship, and brought strong pressure to bear on Namosimalua and his nephew Varani, chiefs of Viowa, who were on friendly terms with the captain. On the night of 19th July, 1834, the ship was taken, and the captain and most of the crew were massacred. The Bauans were, however, disappointed with the meagre spoils, for there was little merchandise, and the few muskets that were left were broken. But they were in poured possession of the ship and its guns; and they planned an attack on Nasedai, a town on the Rewa River, which previously had resisted all their efforts to take it. The few surviving sailors, helped and hindered by the warriors and followers who swarmed over the deck in holiday mood, brought the ship into the river. The expedition made a triumphant progre3ss past the delta villages, and having anchored off Naselai, reduced the fortifications with the ship's guns and forced the defenders to surrender. But disaster overtook the Bauans on the return trip. Being unskilled in navigation, they ran the ship aground at the mouth of the fiver, near Kaba, and bilged her on the sunken reef. She was still there, a grim wreck, when Wilkes visited the place six years later on.
Tanoa remained at Somosomo for three years, receiving tribute from his dominions in Lau, and using it freely to buy over adherents to his cause or to reward those who remained faithful to him. While on a visit to Lakeba on business connected with tribute, he discovered a plot to kill him when he landed on Nayau, and dealt with the conspirators with characteristic severity. At length, finding his fortunes mending, he was escorted to Rewa by the Tongan chiefs Tubou Totai and Lajiki, that he might more easily direct the campaign against those who had usurped his place and power, and be in closer touch with his secret adherents on Bau. From Rewa he pushed the war with more vigour; but there was not much fighting. His policy was to undermine and divide the rebel forces by intrigues and liberal gifts; and this was so successful that many of the border towns transferred their allegiance to him. Once, indeed, he took more active measures. He hired an American ship to anchor off Bau and bombard it with her cannon; but the white men on Bau returned the fire with spirit, for they also had cannon, and the ship withdrew.
About August, 1837, a well-planned coup restored Tanoa. The young man Seru had lulled the rebels' suspicions by his indifference to his father's misfortunes and his preoccupation with youthful diversions. He was allowed to remain at Bau, unmolested, though the cautious Namosimalua would have had him killed. But his careless indifference was clever acting. By secret gifts of food and property he gained the support of the Lasakau people, and when all was ready, he and his associates, under cover of night, threw a war-fence across the flat part of Bau Island, between Lasakau and the area occupied by the rebel chiefs. At daybreak the rebels awoke to find themselves under fire from behind this fence, and their houses in flames from burning arrows. They fled to the mainland and took refuge in friendly villages there. Seru hastened to Somosomo to report the dispersal of the rebel chiefs, and returned with a fleet of fifty canoes bringing warriors to participate in festivities at Bau. When the Somosomo people had gone, Tanoa was invited to return, and he hastened to Bau escorted by the chiefs of Rewa. Having established his position by a purge, in which all of the rebel chiefs except Namosimalua lost their lives, he was reinstated as Vunivaluu7; but the real power thenceforth lay with Seru, who was renamed Ca-ko-Bau (meaning Bau is destroyed), in recognition of the vigour and adroitness with which he had managed the affair.
The king of Rewa now presented to Tanoa a fleet of thirty-nine canoes, as the nucleus of a new navy; and Tanoa, having sufficiently restored his authority and dignity, presided over a formal meeting of the high chiefs of Bau, Viwa, and Rewa, convened in September to ratify and consolidate the peace. Bau was represented by the Roko Tui or sacred chief, and Tuio Veikoso, who had been king of the rebel state. Namosimalua, chief of Viwa, Tui Drfeketi, king of Rewa, and Tui Veikau, chief of the bati or warriors of Namara, were also present. The Roko Tui Bau presented three Tabua to Tanoa, with the prayer that he and his people might be allowed to live, and the soro was accepted. Tui Dreketi followed, presenting one tabua with a prayer for peace. Tui Veikoso then offered his soro and his excuses, which Tanoa received with ridicule, calling his brother a "fat pig" - for he was very corpulent - and scoffing at the idea that such a useless fellow could ever have done him any harm. At length Namosimalua's turn came, and he retired while his seniors drank the ceremonial yaqona and conferred. On the following day he was summoned to appear, and was formally charged with being the originator of the rebellion. He denied this charge, abut he readily admitt4ed having engaged to kill Tanoa - which, indeed, was well known - and acknowledged that the rebels had given him six tabua, and Tanoa's niece to wife, as inducement. The implacable warrior Tui Veikau would have clubbed Namosimalua there and then; but Tanoa - not unmindful of the incident at Nairai, five years before, when Namosimalua had secretly warned him to escape - was unmoved. To the surprise and disgust of the Bau chiefs he spared Namosimalua's life; and the meeting ended with a conciliatory speech by the king of Rewa.
Bau's relations with other powerful states were not neglected during the upheaval consequent upon Tanoa's return. The chiefs of the Naitasiri, a powerful tribe on the Rewa River, were already closely connected with both Bau and Rewa, by marriage; these relations were developed, and by 1840, the Bau-Rewa-Naitasiri triangle had become the chief seat of power in the Group. Farther afield, the understanding between Somosomo (Cakaudrove), Lakeba, and Rewa - the powerful group of states whose chiefs had protected and befriended Tanoa in the exile - was strengthened by a visit to Lakeba by Tui Cakau and his two sons, Tui Kilakila and Rabici, accompanied by a large party of the Somosomo people.
The loose nature of these alliances is well illustrated by the relation existing between Bau and Rewa at this period. Between the high chiefs there were exchanges of valuable gifts, with every evidence of good will; nevertheless, the subject peoples, of valuable gifts, with every evidence of goodwill; nevertheless, the subject peoples, especially those of the border lands, loved in a state of mutual suspicion and distrust. Border affrays between people subject to Bau and Rewa were frequent; but the high chiefs took little notice of such local quarrels beyond interfering when they thought the fighting had gone far enough. But when the chiefs themselves fell out, as they did in 1843, the border people were plunged at once into bitter war.
* * * * * *
For four years nothing had been done to avenge the outrage committ4ed against the French ship L'Aimable Josephine by the rebels of Bau and their underlings at Viwa; but when, in October, 1838, the French corvettes Astrolabe and Zeiee, under Dumont d'Urville, appeared off the Tailevu coast, the chiefs guessed their mission. D'Urville had called at Lakeba to get a pilot, and had secured the services of one of the chiefs, who piloted the ships safely through the reefs between Ovalau and Bau; but, by taking d'Urville straight to Bau, he gave the Viwa people time to escape. Some inquiries were made, but the real culprits - the rebel chiefs of Bau - were all dead. Varani of Viwa was the actual murderer: his very name was the Fijian equivalent of France, and had been given in recognition of his feat in taking the ship. He and Namosimalua were clearly guilty, and on 16th October d'Urville sent forty men from each corve4tte to destroy their town. The Bau chiefs, in describing the incident to Wilkes, cynically claimed to have given the French permission to destroy Viwa, as it was nothing, and its destruction would satisfy the foreigners; but they took care that nothing of value was lost, for they warned the Viwa people and aided their flight. The French found the town deserted, and everything of value removed; however they burnt the houses; destroyed the plantations, and carried off as booty one scorched pig. Namosimalua suffered most; he lost everything, and at a time when he had many enemies and few friends on Bau. As for the chiefs of Bau, for all their contempt and cynicism, the incident taught them that foreigners could not be molested with impunity.
The year 1839 brought renewed war between Bau and Verata. Three Verata men had been clubbed by raiders from Bau, to provide a fest for the builders of a new temple; and when a Verata party retaliated by ambushing five people from Bau, war was declared. After a small affray, the Bau chiefs mustered a large force of allies and subject people; and in October, they attacked and sacked the Verata towns, with horrible slaughter. An epidemic of influenza, of a kind described as malignant and obstinate, swept through the islands in September, 1839. During that month the sickness was reported by missionaries living at places as far apart as Rewa and Somosomo, and Cargill says that very few villages or islands escaped, and there were many deaths.
While the sandalwood trade lasted, events in Vanua Levu, especially those in Bua and Macuata, were reported by Lockerby, Patterson, and other men connected with the trade; but when the trade collapsed this part of Fiji was seldom visited, and consequently little is known of native affairs there during the remaining years of the period under review. At the beginning of the century, Rawaike, the chief of Bua, had outdistanced his rivals by means of the wealth brought by the sandalwood ships and of the help given by their crews in his wars; but when the ships came no more he slipped back into the minor place that his rank and mediocrity merited. Meanwhile, the chiefs of Cakaudrove extended their influence along the eastern coasts of the island; and from the islet Cakaudrove, in Waikava Harbour, and later from a new stronghold. However, Tui Cakau retained freedom to do this only by first placating the chiefs of Bau, with whom he retained a loose alliance by an annual presentation of tribute of bark cloth, mats, and other produce, and especially by the gift of large war-canoes built by the half-Tongan craftsmen who had settled in his dominions.
Somosomo was at this time not behind Bau itself in the horror of its practices and the prevalence of cannibalism. The paramount chief, Tui Cakau, was "a fine specimen of the Fiji islander", whose appearance was strangely out of keeping with the atrocities over which he presided. Wiles found in him "a slight resemblance of our ideas of an old roman. His figure was particularly tall and manly, and he had a head fit for a monarch". Among his treasured possessions were a chair, two chests, and several well polished musket. Jackson remembered him as an old man, seated in a Windsor chair, naked but for a piece of tapa across his knees, fanning himself; his hair was a dingy circlet like a chaplet. The missionaries Cross and Lyth found him mild and courteous, unless he were roused by their importunities, when his anger was fearful but soon spent. His elder son, Tui Kilakila, who was the real power at Somosomo, was a man of a different stamp; physically he was a giant; but in manner and habits he was a savage, though not without redeeming characteristics. The younger son, Rabici, was a popular prince, of shapely form and undoubted courage, and Wilkes said that he was considered the finest man in the Group, and was his father's favourite. It was a heavy blow to Somosomo when, at the end of July, 1839, news was received that Rabici and his party had been most at sea between Moala and Gau; and it was even rumoured that the canoe had drifted to Gau, where the young chiefs had been clubbed and eaten.
A few years later, this family was disrupted, even as that of the Rewa, chiefs had been. In February, 1854, Tui Kilakila was murdered while asleep on his mat, at the instigation if not by the hand of his own son. That son was killed shortly afterwards by his brother, to avenge their father's death; and the avenger was himself murdered in 1857. No better example could be found of the dangers of polygamy in association with the Polynesian system of rule by high chiefly families. The town of Somosomo was abandoned, and the surviving chiefs returned to Cakaudrove Island, in Waikava Harbour.
Such then, was the condition of the principal Fijian kingdom at the period when European settlement began; and it was to these kingdoms that the first settlers came. Of the remaining parts of Fiji, little or nothing is known; they had their wars, no doubt, but these were on a smaller scale than those described, and were without the complications of the high chiefs' family feuds. The leeward coasts and islands, and the interior of Viti Levu, remained beyond the reach of the powerful chiefs of the windward kingdom; Bua, indeed, exercised influence in the Yasawa Islands; Rewa controlled Beqa, the northern end of Kadavu, and the coast of Nadroga; and Bau dominated south-eastern Kadavu; but elsewhere, over more than half the Group, the people retained a fierce independence.
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