Page images
[blocks in formation]

our attendants, who gladly carried off all that remained. We stayed so long with this hospitable chief, that night overtook us in our canoe, before we could reach home. But the evening was serene; not a breeze ruffled the lagoon, and the natives think nothing of striking upon sunken rocks in these still waters; when such an accident happens, they jump out, and heave the light bark over the obstruction, then spring back to their seats, and paddle away again, in perfect security—from fear at least. We arrived safe, but late, at the missionary station.

Oct. 19. In rambling among the rocks and coral reefs, we have found many objects of interest and curiosity, in natural history. The poreho, or cowrie, abounds in its numerous and elegant varieties. The rimu, a purple spunge, adheres to the corals, and looks beautiful under the water. Two species of eels are common here; the one about six inches long, and the bulk of a goose-quill; the other smaller still, with a mouth projected far beyond the head, at the extremity of a large snout. We remarked also the nohu, a description of toad-fish, five' inches in length, thick and chubby in its form ; with small eyes, sunk deep into its head, and just behind an uncouth mouth, which opens upwards. It has gills and fins, with a row of sharp spikes upon its back, and is assuredly one of the most loathsome things to look upon in the animal creation. It lies at the bottom of the water, and is so nearly the colour of the sand as not to be easily discovered. This creature is the dread of the natives, who sometimes tread upon it with their naked feet, which the keen prickles upon its back pierce deeply, and cause excruciating torture. A locked jaw, and death, are sometimes the results of being lacerated by this miserable little urchin, which happily is not common. Another plague to the natives is the huruhurumau,



a crab-like insect, which also pricks their feet, and gives exquisite pain.—We found a brown-speckled gelatinous animal, having two horn-like projections on its head, and two below the neck; also two flaps, that double over its back, from which it ejects a purple fluid, when disturbed. Many small fishes, singular in shape and splendidly tinctured, play among the coral groves, or glide beneath the smooth lagoons.

This evening we attended the catechising of adults at the chapel. There were about two hundred present, young and old, of both sexes. They read in course, verse by verse, from the New Testament, and then explained their views of the meaning. These were generally correct, and where erroneous it was the business of the Missionaries to set them right. They are exceedingly docile, and receive with filial reverence the instructions of their teachers.

Oct. 20. We ascended, to a considerable height, the mountain behind the missionary settlement, from which a commanding prospect of the adjacent reefs and winding shores is obtained. The rocks are a blue stone, of close and hard texture, containing a considerable portion of ferruginous matter; when exposed to the atmosphere the metal oxydizes, and the mass assumes a deep-black colour.

We received a present of fishes from Pomare. One of these, called oirihumu, is curious. It is eighteen inches long and half as many broad; the shape oval; the tail and fins yellow, with a border of black; strong and sharp teeth arm either jaw; besides which it has a formidable defensive apparatus, both on the back and under the belly, namely, three sharp-pointed bones curving backwards, connected by a membrane; these the fish can raise for the annoyance of an enemy, or contract, so as to lie flat with the body, at pleasure. There are five rows, also, of



short spires extending about the tail. It is esteemed delicate food.

Oct. 21. We had the usual Sabbath services, in the native and English languages. In the evening Mr. Tyerman baptized the infant daughter of Mr. Platt, the Missionary.

We have lately been told that, several years before the arrival of our Missionaries, some Popish adventurers, from Lima, in Peru, came to establish the Roman faith here, as had been done by their church throughout South America. They settled in Tahiti, where they built a commodious house, and enclosed the space about it with a strong fence, to protect their live stock of hogs and fowls. The natives, however, by one ingenious stratagem or another, contrived to rob them of every thing; by fish-hooks and lines catching the fowls, and by more violent means possessing themselves of the swine. At length, finding that the natives treated all their attempts to convert them with derision, and, besides plundering them of their property, continually harassed them with knavish pranks—on one occasion, alarming them with the apprehension that poison had been given to them, when they had been induced to taste of the Heve, which blistered their lips as soon as they touched itthese unfortunate emissaries abandoned their project in despair, and returned home.

For many years our Missionaries were used in the same reckless and mischievous manner; but neither mockery nor mal-treatment moved them. Enduring hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, they could not be conquered because they would not yield. These devoted men, so soon as they had gained sufficient mastery of the language, made frequent tours through the islands, publishing from village to village the gospel of the kingdom. They generally travelled two and two together; and when they arrived in



a populous neighbourhood, one went to one extremity, and the other to the other, inviting the inhabitants, from house to house, to attend at the appointed place. After thus collecting a small flock and conducting them towards the central rendezvous, one of their reluctant recruits would make this excuse, and another that, to go into the bush, to call upon a friend, &c., so that seldom more than ten or twelve could be mustered when the service began. Some of these soon deserted likewise, and the rest either made game of the preacher, or were themselves laughed to scorn by their profane neighbours. These would say to a deformed person, “Go, you hump-back, to the preacher, and he will set you straight;" or to a cripple, “ Take your lame leg to the white man, he will cure it.” For nearly twenty years, the Missionaries bore reproach and shame, willingly, for the Lord Jesus; but it grieved their feeling hearts to see the same ignorance, superstition, lewdness, and cruelty, without diminution, prevailing among the heathen as they found at their landing. Meanwhile, like their Roman Catholic predecessors, they could scarcely preserve any moveable property from people who gloried in theft and roguery. One day, when a great quantity of linen and other apparel, which had been washed, was exposed to dry in the garden, some expert pilferers, by means of long bamboos, with fish-hooks at the end, abstracted every article, and escaped with the spoil, unperceived. The houses being open, like bird-cages, passersby could see every thing that was hung up within ; and they frequently had the boldness and the skill to make what they coveted their own. Mr. Nott, however, on one occasion, having preached a sermon to some of them, on the conversion of Zaccheus, the publican, the next day one of his hearers brought a gimblet, a second an axe, a third a hammer, a fourth a book, and others various articles-all



stolen, and some of them long ago, from ships and strangers — the conscience-smittten culprits confessing their depredations, and promising amendment. This afforded some encouragement, and, indeed, it was one of the first satisfactory fruits of the labours of our brethren here.

Contrasted with by-gone times, in this respect, and in proof of the honesty of the people now, it may be mentioned, that a pair of gloves, which Mr. Tyerman had lost one night, upon the public road, were brought back to be owned the next day, by a young woman who had found them. We are not yet aware that any thing has been purloined from us since our landing. Many packages, brought from the ship, have been (from necessity) left out, night after night, under a shed, which is quite open at one end, and nothing has been missed. Let men of the world, in the exercise of ordinary candour, account for this change in the character of a whole people - not in one island but in several—on any other ground than that of a pure and divine principle superseding a corrupt human one, wherever the gospel has been victorious over idolatry.

But the most formidable obstacle to the success of the Missionaries, in their evangelical work, was the apparently indissoluble union of statecraft and priestcraft here; the civil and ecclesiastical offices, if not lodged in the same individuals, being confined to those who were interested in upholding both—force not being sufficient, without fraud, to hold even barbarians under their bondage. Justice and humanity were out of the question ; nothing was too violent or too infamous to be adopted, if it promised to strengthen or to increase royal or sacerdotal usurpations. The king stood at the head of all the chiefs on the one hand, and of all the priests on the other; consequently, these

« EelmineJätka »