Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/306

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walls, and were sometimes surrounded by moats. There are no records of protracted sieges, for the attacking party never could carry sufficient food to enable them to remain long before the walls of the besieged. They depended almost wholly upon treachery, ambushes or sudden and unexpected assaults; and to kill a woman or a child or even a pig was considered a creditable feat, as when Thakombau's warriors returned to Mbau boasting, "We have killed seven of the enemy's pigs and two women." Before the introduction of firearms, it is probable that native warfare caused but little loss of life, for fear kept the combatants skulking at a fairly safe distance from one another.

Wilkes, who himself made war upon the natives of Malolo after they had killed Lieutenant Underwood and Midshipman Henry, describes their martial customs at great length and should be read by those interested in the matter.

The cruelties practised when a town was overcome were unspeakable, and on the island of Wakaia the chief and all within his village threw themselves over a high cliff to be dashed to death rather than surrender.

Fijian warfare, like that of cannibalism, is indeed a sordid subject. Not a single struggle waged by any tribe was for the establishment of a worthy principle. Lust for murder, the capture of women, revenge for real, or more often imaginary, insults were the actuating motives of all native wars. There is in the language no word expressing disapprobation for the killing of a human being. Indeed, no matter how brutal, treacherous or cowardly the murder of man, woman or child the murderer immediately gained the proud title of koroi, which insured to him a good position among the spirits of the world to come, and permitted him to blacken his face and chest with a peculiar warpaint. Murder was thus an open sesame to social distinction and religious well-being.

The Fijians are courageous in the sense that all men are brave when wrought up to the point of action, and when facing a situation they understand. Their first sight of a horse, however, drove even the doughtiest warriors to take refuge in the trees, and when upon a dark night Wilkes came to anchor off the coast and set off rockets, the silence of the shore broke into a long shriek of terror, village after village catching the contagion of the fright. Even to-day the white man inspires a mysterious lurking fear, and in the mountain villages and in parts rarely visited by Europeans, the women and little children shrink and run at your approach, and even the men seem somewhat "stage struck." To their minds we must be past masters of witchcraft.

Indeed, in common with all beliefs and practises which may be securely hidden from the eyes of Europeans, witchcraft still survives in Fiji, as it does among the lower classes of Europe and America. The natives are fond of the "occult" and several miracles are still per-