Page images



few days ago, the king sent for him, and questioned him concerning his new religion, when the poor man is said to have witnessed so good a confession that he was sent away from the royal presence with liberal approval.


Extracts of Letters from Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet, addressed from

the Sandwich Islands to the Directors of the London Missionary Society, and to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

[It will probably be most expedient, in this place, to introduce extracts

from three letters written by Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet, during their residence at the Sandwich Islands, as these will, in a few pages, give the reader a coniprehensive view of the important changes which took place while they were providentially detained there. The Journal may then be continued to advantage, by omitting many minute details, which would otherwise occupy more space than can be spared in the limited compass of the present work.]

Oahu, May 8, 1822.





On landing, we were most kindly and affectionately received by the missionaries, and by them immediately introduced to the king, who showed us every polite attention. He is a young man, and was dressed in the European costume. He was highly delighted with the present of the schooner, sent him by the king of England, but not for its value-he possesses ten ships of his own, and considerable property in dollars and goods of various kinds—but as an expression of the friendship of the English, to whom he is strongly attached, and under whose protection he considers himself as holding these islands. He immediately engaged to supply the crew of the cutter with provisions so long as she may remain here, and invited captain Kent to take up his abode in his house during the same time. Here is a good harbor, which is also a place of great resort to American whalers, for refreshment. On coming into the port, which is divided into an outer and an inner basin, we counted twenty-three ships and vessels of different descriptions. For coming to an anchor in the outer harbor ships pay forty dollars; in the inner, eighty dollars, besides pilotage. This harbor is protected by a battery,



built at the head of it, which mounts fifty guns of large calibre, and another battery at the summit of a neighboring hill, where there are ten large cannons. On landing, we found ourselves in a village called Honolulu, containing between 2,000 and 3,000 inhabitants, living in grass houses, resembling hay-ricks of different sizes, with but one small opening as the door-way, scattered over an extensive plain, which lies between the sea and the foot of the mountains. The taro plantations, which are seen near the village, afford striking proofs of great industry on the part of the people, and no small ingenuity in so directing the water, which runs down the adjacent valleys, as to convey it from one bed of taro to another, for three or four miles in, extent.

Here are resident an American consul, and several persons from that country, with a view to mercantile employment; their specific object is sandal-wood, which grows in these islands, and finds an advantageous market in China. Goods of various kinds are imported here, and almost every thing may be obtained. Dollars constitute the circulating medium of these islands.

After our interview with the king, the missionaries most affectionately invited us all to take up our abode with them at their house during our stay, to which we gratefully consented. Their house is at a short distance from the village. Here are two missionaries, Messrs. Bingham and Thurston, with their wives; the former, with Mrs. Bingham, was at the island of Tauai when we arrived, but has since returned. Besides these pious and excellent men, there are four more, and their wives; Mr. Chamberlain, who is acquainted with agriculture ;* Mr. Loomis, a printer, and Messrs. Ruggles and Whitney. The two latter are stationed at the island of Tauai, which is about seventy miles from hence, and where a school of about thirty children has been raised. There is also a school here, containing the same number of children. All the children in both schools are clothed and boarded at the houses of the missionaries, at the Society's expense.

We have had the pleasure of seeing the whole of this interesting missionary family, except Mr. Whitney, with Mrs. W. and Mrs. Ruggles, and feel peculiarly pleased with their eminent piety and good sense.

* Since returned to the United States, as has Mr. Loomis also, on account of ill health. The Mr. Chamberlain now at the islands, did not arrive till after this time.-Am. Editor.



This day three years ago the old king died, in a full and firm attachment to his idols. Soon after this, his son and successor held a public feast to commemorate this event. At this feast he publicly set at defiance the tabu, or idolatrous system, by sitting down and eating with his wives, and the wives of many other chiefs. This took place when the American missionaries were on their voyage to these islands, where they arrived on the 31st of March, 1820, and were allowed by the king and his people to settle among them. However, it does not appear that the king demolished idolatry from any preference to Christianity, or any other religion. His father charged him, immediately before his death, to support the idolatrous system, and to abstain from drinking spirituous liquors, both of which he has equally disregarded. Last Lord's day he held the third public anniversary, comme

memorating his father's death. We were all invited to atterd. Of course we declined, and did all we could to persuade him to defer it till the next day; but it was the proper day, according to the age of the moon, and his chiefs were not willing to make the alteration; it was therefore held on that day. The dinner, we understand, was conducted with great order and propriety. The king is able to display a degree of grandeur on these occasions, far beyond what you would expect in this country.

The prospects of the missionaries are very promising. These islands are populous, and seem to be waiting for the Savior's law. This small island contains not fewer than 20,000 souls; and the other islands of this group are populous in proportion.

A place of worship has been erected near the house of the missionaries, fifty feet long by twenty feet wide. This is the only building of the kind in the eleven islands that form this interesting group, all of which are now under the dominion of king Rihoriho.

The missionaries have not as yet acquired the language so as to be able to preach in it to the people; they are obliged to address them through an interpreter.

It will perhaps be interesting to you to hear that the language of the Sandwich Islands is radically the same as that of the Society Islands. Mr. Ellis, and the people who accompany us, can converse with these people with ease, and they understand each other without difficulty. The principal difference arises from the use of the k here, which is not




in the Tahitian language. The people themselves are evi. dently of the same origin, though in person, the Tahitians are much superior; in color there is not any material difference—these may be a shade darker.

We have no doubt that some important ends are to be accomplished by our visit to these islands, to which a singular interposition of Providence has led us. It is remarkable that a few months ago a vessel was quite ready to take one of the missionaries, with some of the chiefs, to the Society Islands, on purpose to pay a visit to the missionaries there, and to witness, with their own eyes, the change which they had heard had taken place. Many false and scandalous reports had been propagated here, injurious to the character of the missionaries there, and detrimental to that glorious work. These reports were put in circulation here, from interested motives, in order to prejudice the minds of the king and chiefs. Those foreigners who had invented and propagated these falsehoods were greatly alarmed on finding that a vessel was going expressly to examine into the truth of these reports, and used all their might in order to prevent her from sailing; and they succeeded. The voyage was, therefore, deferred, if not abandoned. When we arrived, these enemies were greatly confounded, while the missionaries as greatly rejoiced. We have borne our public testimony against them. The chiefs who accompanied us have been most rigidly questioned by the king and chiefs, who are now all satisfied of the falsehood of former reports, and of the advantageous effects of the gospel in the Society Islands. Besides this, an intercourse will now be opened between our missionaries and those of America, which will be mutually advantageous.

Our visit will also put the missionaries here in possession of the plans on which our brethren have acted in the South Sea islands, as well as of the facts which relate to the change; and, from the joy and gratitude which our beloved friends here express on seeing us, we indulge the humble hope that our visit may be the means of strengthening their hands, and encouraging their hearts, in the good work in which they are engaged. It is the day of small things; but few of the natives attend public worship, and but little value is put by the people upon their labors; but we unite with them in the confident hope that a glorious day has begun to dawn



upon these benighted lands. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

An event has taken place which will detain us two months longer here than we had at all anticipated. Our captain has engaged to make a trip to Fanning's island, which lies two degrees on the north of the line, of a mercantile nature, which will take him about six weeks to complete. This will be highly to his own advantage ; and, as we have our passage gratis, we are unable to exert any control over his plans. We lament this delay, but Providence means something by it, and, in the hope of our detention being in some way or other useful here, we bow to His sovereign will who does all things well. It will, at all events, afford us an opportunity of making ourselves more intimately acquainted with the state of these islands, and the condition of the people.

This day we remember with joy your anniversary in London ; we also hold a public service here in the afternoon, in order to commemorate the same delightful event. May that Divine Spirit be graciously poured upon us, which we have been imploring so largely for you, and the Society, and all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in our beloved country.

Honolulu, in Oahu, 10th August, 1822.

[ocr errors]

From our first reaching these islands, they appeared to us to present a missionary field of the first magnitude, and of the greatest promise; and while lying at Hawaii, before we saw our missionary friends here, we frequently said to each other, “Would God, that missionaries were here, to speak to these people of the wonderful works and the grace of Jehovah, in their own language !” Whilst we were at Hawaii, the chief of that fine island, and many others, greatly desired that the pious natives who had come with us, and Mr. Ellis, should remain in these islands, "to teach them the Good Book, and all the good things which had been learned in the Society Islands." When we reached this island, many expressed the same wishes respecting Mr. Ellis and our Tahitian friends. But, though our hearts yearned with compassion for this numerous, ignorant, and vicious people, yet these repeated requests were in no degree hearkened to, un

« EelmineJätka »