This Society was certainly in the beginning formed under a View of Celibacy through fear of too great a population. The establishment therefore for the good of the Country, whereby the Members were deprived of the pleasure of having Children, had great honor, and the other part of the community granted them peculiar privileges. But as a security to the grand object which unhappily they only kept in view, it appears they fixed as a guard to it, that should any of the members transgress and break through the law and produce Issue, such Issue should instantly be Strangled on being born. Hence what was intended to preserve Celibacy without blemish proves the source of constant transgression, and as Custom or Religion did not prove to them a Crime what equally secured to them the object of the Institution, and prevented the Evil they so much feared; the Society of the Erreeoys has become disgracefull to human nature, altho it may be said to have been founded in wisdom. Custom therefore has produced a law that their Issue is to be destroyed, altho the Primary motive of the Institution was, that it never was to have been begotten.
It is allowable that after a person had been sometime an Erreeoy he may quit the Society, marry and have Children; or he may destroy his Children. If he does the latter he enjoys most of the privileges of the Society but not the whole, as marriage was certainly a Violation. If he preserves his Children he is no longer of the Society, altho he retains their name & is called Erreeoy Nahnownow.
It appear however that the Erreeoys from leading an Idle and gay life have among them the finest women of the Island. They have luxuriant and fine situations where they have their meetings and live with all the disipation imaginable, and they vary the enjoyments of their lives with the seasons of the year. As for Example the Island
of Teturoah which is a few leagues to the Northward of this, they resort to in Crouds in the season when the Fish is plenty, and at other times to some charming places in the mountains to enjoy other peculiar dainties. They are always in large Parties. Always drest with the greatest profusion of the best cloth and are generally fat and Saucy.
Wherever they travel they are fed by the Cheif of the district with abundance, who calls them his manneeinnees or Erreeoy Friends.
These are perhaps only a few of the advantages of the Erreeoys, they however seem sufficient to establish a large Society, and are equally well calculated to effect, what may be wanting to render permanent the Grand design of the insitution.
But it appears to me that their fears of an over population was without reason unless at that time there was less of disipation that at present. Were the Women moderately chaste and to marry I really beleive the Island owuld swarm with Inhabitants, and it would be absolutely necessary that every inch of Ground should be Cultivated, but at present I am convinced there is not that fear or that necessity. The Women have too great an intercourse with different Men. An Elder Brother has connection with another Brothers Wife, and the younger Brothers with their different Brothers Wives whenever oppotunities offer without giving offence. It is considered no infidelity, for I have known a man to have done the act in the presence of his own Wife, and it is a common thing for the Wife to assist the Husband in these amours. But what is remarkable it is not so among those who are not related to one another, it is then a violation if a married
Couple err on either side, for if a Man finds another with his Wife he'll kill him if he can, and if the Woman discover the infedeltiy of the Husband she will certainly take revenge on the Woman.
Inclination seems to be the only binding law of marriage in this Country, for a Woman will quit her Husband if she pleases, it is however not convenient with every one, and their Ill Behaviour is often productive of a good beating.
The great commoness of the lower order of Women also helps to prevent population, and what is still more is the early age that the young Females have intercourse with the Men, even at the age of 7 years. We may assign this as a reason for the Women in general being little.
The infirmities of human nature with respect to diseases appears to be here as with the common run of mankind, so that upon the whole however right the institution of the Erreeoys was according to their own mode of reasoning when first adopted there appears at first sight a sufficient proof that it is not necessary at present, yet I am told it is, for that they have "Worrow worrow te Tata and worrow no te mydiddee" Multitudes of Men and Children.
Six is the largest Family of Children I have met with, and in common I have not found above three, but these Families are numerous. A Small increase of population will keep a Country like Otaheite full of Inhabitants, and if we consider that War depopulates but very little, that they have nothinng else to decrease their numbers but diseases, (which however various, ill health is not so common as in Europe) while that they assert their Births exceed their Burials by many proportions, it is not to be wondered
at that the Society of the Erreeoys still exists, altho truly horrible to reflect on the number of Infants that are destroyed. From 3 to 8 are the the numbers that have been killed by the assistants of many of our Cheif Women who visit the Ship. Tettohowdeeah the Sister of Otow and Wife of Teppahoo Cheif of the district of Tettahah who is considered as a very great personage, has killed 8 Children, and what is extraordinary they have adopted a little Boy (Terreetyroah) who is their Nephew as their own Child, and are doatingly fond of him.
The present extraordinary nature of this Society has ever led me to make enquiries about them, and particularly as we know of no place but the Society Islands where it exists, and where on might suppose except a Continent, is less cause for it.
The Infant is strangled by the person who receives it the moment it is born, and from thier representing the Act, it appears to me they break its neck by a twist as is the common way of killing a Fowl.
The Erreeoys are Warriors and yet have the most frequent use of Women, it has therefore never been in my power to reconcile an account that they limited the amours of the Tatatoahs.