Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/251

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223
DRINKING-BOUTS.

tiousness; and having drunk till they were mad, generally ended by quarrelling, so that it was not an uncommon thing to find the remains of one of these rude stills overturned and scattered on the ground, and around them the corpses of those who had ended their drunken bout by a free fight, in which clubs and stone axes had proved efficient weapons.

The practice of this very unpleasant vice spread rapidly to other isles, and was one of the serious hindrances met with by the early missionaries. Thus, when Raiatea had for some time been looked upon as a model island, it only needed the arrival of a trading ship, and of a cask of spirits, to produce an outbreak on the part of King Tamatoa (not the present man), which was instantly followed by the mass of the people, who in their reawakened craving for spirits prepared about twenty stills, all of which were in full operation, when Mr Williams, returning after a short absence, found the island which he had left so orderly and flourishing, all given up to mad drunkenness.

Having had their bout, the people were naturally rather ashamed of themselves, remembering how nobly their grand old chief, the original Tamatoa, Queen Pomare's grandfather, had kept his vow of temperance during the fifteen years he lived after becoming a Christian. Previous to that time he too had been a heavy drinker, and being a man of gigantic strength, and six feet eleven inches in height, he was not pleasant company when drunk. So it was a happy hour in which he vowed never again to touch any intoxicating liquor, and became the most constant attendant at school and chapel.

When his favourite daughter Maikara, the governess of Huahine, heard of this outbreak in Raiatea, she went over, with some of her trusted officers, to help the orderly remnant in the isle to carry out the laws for the destruction of all stills; and though in some districts they met with considerable opposition, they effected their purpose thoroughly. Not long afterwards a temperance society was formed, which seems to have worked satisfactorily on the whole, though of course individuals sometimes succumb to the temptations so cruelly offered by foreign ships.