Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 15, 1904.djvu/35
great conspiracy against the leading chiefs of his day. The plot was discovered and he, too, was condemned by the priest of Motoro to exile. With plenty of provision, he and his friends, forty souls, sailed in their two double canoes from the west of the island on their uncertain voyage, and lost sight of their native land, lit up that night by the torches of their sorrowing friends. No tidings of the exiles reached Mangaia for 155 years, but Iro's sad fate was the subject of a drama by the famous poet Koroa, played as late as 1791, amid the sympathy of a great audience. In 1826, when Christianity had just been introduced to the Hervey group, a Raratongan, who came with John Williams the missionary to Mangaia, told the Hervey people that Iro's canoe had reached Raratonga, where a chief named Kainuku had given them a home and a welcome, repaid by their raising Kainuku' s tribe to regal position through their wonderful valour in battle, so that this tribe alone could eat turtle and royal fish, the prerogative of the chiefs only in other tribes.
Here are instances where corroboration exists to prove the facts tradition has preserved. This corroboration cannot be looked for in every case, but here is an authentic example of events accurately recorded and handed down for eight generations without special means of record, for if the dramas preserve facts, yet the facts in this case had to be remembered without letters or even regular oral teaching. There may have been earlier dramas on the subject than those of Koroa (composed many generations after the exile of Iro), but analogy does not point to this as a necessity. Most of the dramas date from the eighteenth century, though there are dramatic songs of far older date, and obscure by reason of the old language.
At the end of the eleventh and the early part of the twelfth century long poems, based on oral tradition, were being composed in France and England on events and persons of the eighth and ninth centuries; while in the thirteenth century a