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carved male and female images of wood, some on low pedestals under the shade of an adjacent tree, others on high posts on the jutting rocks that overhung the edge of the water. "At the southeast end of the inclosed place twelve of them stood in grim array, forming a semicircle, as if perpetual guardians of the mighty dead reposing in the house adjoining. Once they had evidently been clothed, but now they appeared in the most indigent nakedness. A few tattered shreds round the neck of one that stood at the lefthand side of the door, rotted by the rain, and bleached by the sun, were all that remained of the numerous and gaudy ornaments with which their votaries had formerly arrayed them.
"A large pile of broken calabashes and cocoanutshells lay in the centre, and fragments of kapa, the accumulated offerings of former days, formed an unsightly mound before each of the images. The horrid stare of these idols, the tattered garments upon some of them, and the heaps of rotten offerings before them, seemed no improper emblems of the system they were designed to support; distinguished alike by its cruelty, folly, and wretchedness."
The traveller at this day sees none of these hideous relics of the corpse of Paganism, that was then just slain, and lay rotting, unburied, like a carcass thrown to carrion-birds. To visit here at that time, was like looking down into one of those wide pits of living death and festering decay, into which Defoe says they used to cast the victims of the great plague in London. It was, as it were, stepping into the very rank tomb of idolatry, where the horrid monster had been lately tumbled all naked and gory, weltering in his own blood and foulness, as he had long revelled in that of his murdered victims—
"besmeared with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears."
There now remain only a low fence of posts, and the stone walls of the irregular parallelogram that constituted the Place of Refuge. These are 715 feet long, 404 feet wide, about 12 feet high, and 15 feet thick. Holes are still visible on the parapet or raised terrace, where large images formerly stood about four rods apart, through the whole extent. There are fragments of lava in these walls that must be of two or more tons weight each, six or eight feet above the ground, which it is difficult to imagine how Hawaiians could have raised (as they must) without machinery, by the mere force of the unassisted human hands. But the despots here of old knew how to use the bones and sinews of their subjects with great executive effect, in hauling heavy timber for their idols, and putting up immense heiaus, as well as to give their bodies a sacrifice to
"The devils they adored for deities,"
whenever the priest* or their own caprice called for the Moloch offering.
* If a temple was to be built, the people had the stones to collect for the walls, and the timber and posts to put up; they had the thatchFEAT OF AN HAWAIIAN GRACCHUS. 43
Sometimes they made their lives so bitter with hard bondage, imposed such intolerable burdens upon the abject people, and bent the bow of their servile compliance so far that it suddenly snapped, with death to the tyrant that strained it. In the mountainous parts of Kan there is a steep, round hill, up which it is a tradition among the people that a chief once required his subjects to drag a huge log, which he was going to set up there for his idol, to overlook all the land and sea. They had succeeded, at intervals of time, in drawing it two-thirds of the way up, when some Hawaiian Gracchus, heading the people, and gaining them all over to his purpose, laid this plan to get rid of their task and task-master. He feigned himself extraordinarily zealous in forwarding the work, got all the people to man the lines, and then approached the chief, who sat looking on, with this request—that he would but put his shoulders once to the log from be
ing to do; a levy for sustaining the service was made on them of hogs, cocoanuts, bananas, kapa, red fish, bundles of baked kalo, fowls, and other articles. The priest looked at the king, saying, "Let there be men for the god." The king consented. "Let there be a house for the god." The king consented. "Let there be land for the god." The king con- / sented. Then the priest addressed the king again, "Let a hog be hanged up for the god; let there be certain fish for the god; the first fish for the god." The king consented. Then the priest proceeded, "Let the land of the priest be sacred, free from taxes; let the house of the priest be sacred, no one wantonly entering it; in short, let all that belongs to the priest be in safety." Thus the priest says to the king. The king and the priest were much alike, and they two united were the nation's main burden.—Ka Moolelo Hawaii, in Hawaiian Spectator, vol. II, p. 440.
hind, and, at a given signal from himself, they would all strain themselves to the utmost, and at one pull run it up to its place. The purblind chief consented, and with a simultaneous joyful effort they started the log forward a few feet, and then suddenly let it go back, crushing with its whole length and weight the body of their oppressor, and thundering down the side of the mountain, as on the slide of the Alpnach, till it lodged in the level below, where they say a part of it may be seen to this day.
But to return to the Puhonua* at Honaunau.
* The Puhonuas were the Hawaiian Cities of Refuge, and afforded a most inviolable sanctuary to the guilty fugitive, who, when flying from the avenging spear, was so favored as to enter their precincts. This had several wide entrances, some on the side next the sea, the others facing the mountains. Hither the man-slayer, the man who had broken a tabu, the thief, and even the murderer, fled from his incensed pursuers, and was secure. To whomsoever he belonged, and from whatever part he came, he was equally certain of admittance, though liable to be pursued even to the gate of the inclosure. Happily for him, those gates were perpetually open; and as soon as the fugitive had entered, he repaired to the presence of the idol, and made a short ejaculatory address expressive of his obligations to him for reaching the place in safety.
Whenever war was proclaimed, and during the period of actual hostilities, a white flag was unfurled on the top of a tall spear, at each end of the inclosure, and until the conclusion of peace, it waved the symbol of hope to those who, vanquished in fight, might fly thither for protection. It was fixed a short distance from the walls on the outside, and to the spot on which this banner was unfurled the victorious warrior might chase his routed foes; but here he must himself fall back. The priests and their adherents would immediately put to death any who should have the temerity to follow or molest those who were once within the pale of the pahu tabu; and, as they expressed it, under the shade or protection of the Spirit of Keawe, the tutelar deity of the place.
Whether it was first instituted by priests, as a means of increasing their power by binding to their interests all who should owe safety to its protection; or by some Hawaiian Alfred, in order to mitigate the cruelty of idolatry, and provide an offset to the sanguinary character of their wars; or whether it was derived, as some suggest, traditionally from the Israelitish cities of refuge, it is not easy to determine. However the institution may have originated, the Place of Refuge itself is an interesting spot, which no visitor on this side of Hawaii will fail of going to see.
The grim idols that received the man-slayer within their strangely-friendly pale, like a wolf turning hisden into a sheep-fold, are gone. The high-priests of idolatry are all dead, and there are few surviving who can tell you any thing of the transactions that have taken place here. The Gospel of Christ precluding and extinguishing murder and war, supersedes the necessity of this singularly humane feature of cruel Paganism. It is almost too great a tax on the traveller's
In one part of the inclosure, houses were formerly erected for the priests, and others for the refugees, who, after a certain period, or at the expiration of war, were dismissed by the priests, and returned unmolested to their dwellings and families; no one venturing to injure those who, when they fled to the gods, had been by them protected. The Puhonua at Honaunau is very capacious, capable of containing a vast multitude of people. In time of war, the females, children, and old people of the neighboring district, were generally left within it, while the men went to battle. Here they awaited in safety the issue of the conflict, and were secure against surprise and destruction in the event of defeat.—Ellis's Missionary Tour through Hawaii, pp. 137, 138.