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VALLEY OF MATAVAI.
made a dam across the stream, of the branches of trees, close twisted together. In this three openings were left, through which the water was allowed to run. At each of these one of the party was stationed with a net, which was held in such a manner that scarcely a fish could pass without being entangled. Two others, with their torches, made of dry cocoa-leaves, commenced operations at some distance above; the one on this side of the stream, the other on that, walking slowly, and striking the water with part of the leaf, to drive the fish downwards into the nets. By this simple contrivance a large draught was taken.
Clocks are not yet common in Tahiti, and but few of the people have watches. It is very difficult, therefore, to convey an idea of the exact time when any thing is to be done. We wished to have an early breakfast to-morrow; our old landlord told the servants to bake some bread-fruit for us; he then imitated the crowing of the cock, to signify that it was to be ready when the cock himself should make such a noise in the morning. This venerable man is unwearied in his endeavours to accommodate us. He learned to read and write at an advanced
This evening we were singing some Tahitian hymns, with the people who came to see us, when he produced a hymn-book, transcribed by himself in a legible hand from a printed copy. The impression first issued was so inadequate to supply the eager demands, that many persons were at the pains of th:us writing out the hymns for their own use.
Nov. 1. This morning, accompanied by the Rev. Messrs. Wilson and Jones, we set out to ascend the valley of Matavai. This valley lies north-west and south-east. Towards the sea it opens into a rich champaign of considerable extent, covered with groves of bread-fruit and cocoanut trees; while, inland, it grows narrower and narrower,
SUFFERINGS OF FIRST MISSIONARIES.
trending like the curvature of the stream that winds through it. This stream has a considerable fall in several places; the bed consists of large black stones; the width varies, but is generally about twenty yards. The base of the high mountains, on both sides, occasionally comes down to the edge of the water, so that we had, from time to time, either to ford it, or submit to be carried across on men's shoulders. In one part of our progress, we took off our shoes and stockings, and walked about a mile barefoot, having to cross the stream six times within that distance. In this short exercise we learned to sympathize with our elder Missionaries, who for many years were wont to travel barefoot over the stony tracks of this mountainous and uncultivated country, preaching the gospel wherever they could persuade a few natives to listen to them—though that was often with scorn and derision. Sometimes, when they had to cross great breadths of burning sands, they used to furnish themselves with bundles of foliage from the adjacent woods, and, laying down a green leaf at every step, they set the soles of their feet successively upon these cool, soft patches of carpeting, and thus escaped the blistering effects of treading upon a soil that resembled hot ashes concealing half-extinguished fires. Recollection of the hardships of these faithful men, while they thus trod their painful way over gravel that cut, and sand that scorched, their feet, in miserable worn-out vestments, and often scantily supplied with food,-humbled us by comparison with our easier cross and lighter load ; while it endeared them also to our affections, as those to whom it was given not only to labour but to suffer for the sake of the Lord Jesus.
The mountains on either hand rise abruptly and to a considerable altitude; their sides are generally clothed with trees and bushes, which overhung our heads as we went,
VALLEY OF MATAVAI.
and closing or opening the scene of sky and valley, frequently presented the most singular and pleasing pictures. In several places the crags towered perpendicularly from the bed of the current, to the height of five hundred feet and more, decorated with trees and shrubs, which, starting out of the fissures in their bold faces, seemed to grow
in air, suspended and supported of themselves. From the tops of these huge masses of rock, which are but the basement-story of the stupendous superstructure of mountains, the upper eminences sloped to a fearful elevation beyond, and appeared to hide their sunny peaks in the deep-blue firmament. Throughout the whole valley there are objects of grandeur and awe that overwhelm the beholder and defy description. Some years ago, part of an adjacent cliff slid down to the bed of the river here, and dammed up the channel, till the water had spread into a broad pool, which threatened, when it should burst by accumulation, to devastate all the lower lands. The terrified inhabitants expected to see their dwellings, plantations, and all they possessed, borne onward into the sea, while they had no power to avert or restrain the calamity. Providence, however, so ordered, that the water gradually made its way through the looser materials, till the leakage had slowly opened a moderate vent, through which the whole body drained off, without doing any further injury
The stones distributed through the bed of the river correspond with those of the adjacent rocks, being chiefly a coarse breccia or pudding-stone, composed of blue rag and chert in brown clay; the material is exceedingly hard, and resembles the substance of Roman walling found in our own country. Some of the porous blocks contain small quantities of iron pyrites, and occasionally minute
RARE BIRDS-ORA TREE.
sparks of silicious crystals in the cavities. The mouroa, a tropic-bird, was occasionally seen flying from point to point, at a vast height in the narrow sky, between the opposing cliffs, in which it builds its nest. We observed also the otu teatea, or white crane; and the opia, which resembles the swallow in shape and habits ; but the tail is short and not forked; the body is of a glossy blue, the wings, tail, and head dusky brown, and the bill yellow. It often swept by us, in its pursuit of flies, low along the ground, or following the course of the river. Lizards of various kinds, from four to five inches long, were numerous in our path; their bodies generally brown and speckled, with blue or green tails. They are harmless and vivacious, but slunk under cover at our approach. The brown libellula, or dragon-fly, abounds here. Black flies, like those of England, and mosquitoes swarm every where.
We passed a remarkably large tree, called ora, of that species from the bark of which the natives make a valuable brown cloth; the leaf is shaped like that of the laurel. This specimen, at its root, measured nearly forty feet in circumference. The upper part of the stem divided itself into two lateral branches, extensively ramified, while the bark, from the ground to the head, was thickly mantled with ferns and parasitical plants. The vi-apple, in this valley, flourishes amazingly. The lower part of the trunk is curious, expanding into five or six flat buttresses, admirably adapted to support the wide-spreading top. We found the tara papa, or pine-apple, growing wild, on which the rats feed deliciously. The ape, a plant of the arum species, springs up here to a great size. One of its broad, deep-green leaves, carried over the head, is a sufficient shelter from rain or intense heat; and these were so used by the natives, who, when they first saw the European umbrella, naturally
called it fareraauape—from fare a house, raau a leaf, and ape the above-mentioned plant,—the arum-leaf-house.
As we advanced up the valley, the sun shone with great strength, and we found it a fatiguing journey to the point at which we aimed. At length we reached the object (called by the natives pihaa), a singularly fine basaltic cliff, with the rivulet flowing at its basis, from which it rises almost perpendicularly, to the height of two hundred feet, by three hundred in breadth. Above, it is covered with dark earth, fragments of rock, and towering trees. The whole mass is columnar; the pillars being irregular pentagons, the sides of which vary from five to eight inches in width ; and all the pillars stand close to one another without adhering. There are no joints, nor natural divisions in the shafts, from the bottom to the top; though in some are seen casual fractures, which cross the diameters at different angles, evidently occasioned by external injuries from falling substances, as those columns which are not exposed to similar injury from above are perfect. This magnificent breast-work stands nearly perpendicular, with a slight inclination towards the southeast. But the most singular feature of this basaltic formation is presented on that quarter which is highest up the stream.
The columns there descend from the same elevation with the rest, and are parallel to them, till within twenty-five feet of the water, where they swerve into a graceful sweep, or segment of a circle, of which the diameter might be forty or fifty feet. The shafts of this curved part preserve their exact juxta-position to each other, and have been as entire as the upright ones, though now they appear considerably more shattered, by fragments of rock precipitated from the top. The whole bulk consists of hard compact basalt, of a dark-blue