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FUNERAL SERMONS FOR POMARE.
the world ;” --who shall doubt that these may be “ brought nigh by the blood of Christ,” and be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God ?” For ourselves, after what we have seen and heard, we cannot doubt that these things may be ;-nay, we believe, and are sure, that they are; the gospel being here, as elsewhere, “ the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”
Dec. 15. Being Lord's day, at the several public services the recent death of Pomare was commemorated, and lessons of warning, instruction, encouragement, and correction, were drawn by the preachers from the several portions of divine truth which they chose for the themes of their sermons. Mr. Ellis, from Eccles. xii. 7, « Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it;”—Mr. Barff, from Isa. xlii. 3, “I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring ;”—Mr. Tyerman, from 2 Cor. i. 3, “ The Father of mercies.” The Missionaries, of course, addressed the native congregations in their own language; and Mr. Tyerman discoursed to his British audience in theirs.
Dec. 16. We walked, this morning, northward of the settlement. About the centre point of the head of this harbour, and a hundred yards from the shore, the rocks project, and form a bold feature of scenery. On examining these, we found that they were composed of alternate strata of blue stone and coarse breccia, each layer about two feet thick, and all dipping towards the north-west, at an angle of 25° with the horizon. The blue stone is much honey-combed, abounding with cavities. Most of the rocks of this and the other islands have the same character, which, with their black surfaces, seems to prove that they
have been subjected to volcanic action. In the neighbouring mountains a firm blue clay abounds, which contains great quantities of nodules, resembling charcoal; and the rocks themselves appear to be of the same material, only differing from the clay in hardness.
A little further to the north, the dip of the strata inclines more towards the plane of the horizon, and the blue stone has been removed from the incumbent breccia, so as to divide it beneath. On one side of the breccia are perpendicular strata of rag-stone, of a slaty structure, furrowed at the edges, where they cross-cut. From these run two thinner strata, of the same kind, about three inches in thickness, and three inches apart, athwart the breccia. A soft earthy substance fills up the interstice, in which are fragments of shells; and among these a specimen of the genus turbini, nearly perfect, was found. These parts of the rock, from the presence of such remains, must be presumed not to have been subjected to the fusing and consuming violence of fire.
We proceeded along the level ground, between the abrupt ascent of the mountains and the sea. This fertile border is in some places a mile in breadth, and forms the valuable district of Puaoa. That the tide formerly flowed here, even to the mountain-foot, cannot be doubted, the soil consisting of earth, intermingled with marine relics, shells, coral, sand, &c. Much of this champaign tract is planted with bananas, sweet potatoes, &c.; bread-fruit, cocoanut, and Chinese paper mulberry-trees, also thrive upon it. On one part stands an exceedingly remarkable tree, of the aoa, or oro species (the banyan of India) from the bark of which the cloth of that name is manufactured. This grotesque tree grows upon one side
side of a rock, nearly perpendicular, over the front of which (being from thirty to
AN EXTRAORDINARY TREE.
forty feet high, and as many broad) hundreds of its roots descend, singularly implicated, and forming a kind of net-work. The stems of the tree above rise up thirty feet at least from the rock, being supported by multitudes of roots, which find their sustenance in the soil below. These occupy a space nearly a hundred feet in compass, and display various arches and recesses, of most curious appearance. On one side, the impending branches have sent down a root of forty feet, which, having got footing in the ground, has given birth to a young tree. Multitudes of other long fibrous shoots, of a black colour, are growing downward from the horizontal branches above, which, though dangling wildly in the air now, will strike root as soon as they reach the ground, and add their antic columns to “the pillared shade.” The natives have a tradition that the seed of this gigantic plant was brought by a bird from the moon. - Part of the rock which supports this tree is of a light coloured sand-stone, and the rest of a micaceous schistus, very hard and sparkling in the fracture. The adjacent eminences are principally of a similar material, many fragments of which, from three to four inches thick, lie scattered below. With these flat stones the natives sometimes pave their floors and court-yards. Large blocks of olive-coloured chert are also occasionally found here.
Further onward, we came to a beautiful lagoon, seven miles long by three wide, connected with another yet more to the north, of nearly equal extent. They both communicate with the sea, and contain great quantities of fine fish of the salmon species. The eastern side of this lake is bounded by a narrow margin of low ground, from which the mountains rise precipitously, decorated with small aito-trees all the way upwards to their summits; on
LAND ABANDONED BY THE SEA.
the other side, the land is also flat, reaching to the shore. Here the cocoa-nut flourishes in luxuriance, this noble tree delighting in a soil that gives it the fatness of the earth, and the freshness of the sea, to nourish its growth and perfect its fruit.
In calling at several houses, we found two dreadfully afflicted persons sitting upon the floor. The complaint is called fee-fee, a species of elephantiasis, the direst plague, in the shape of a disease, of these islands. The legs and thighs of one of these were swollen to a prodigious size; the bulk and weight of the lower part of the body of the other prevented the poor patient from rising up.
He was a young man, about twenty-five years of age, and had not been more than three years under the oppression of this cruel and inveterate malady. He bore his hard lot with exemplary patience.
In the beds of the rivers and elsewhere, as we rambled along, we observed many basaltic fragments. These are angular, having three, four, and five sides; the sides and angles of the same stone being all different, and varying in breadth from two to nine inches. These pieces are of sundry lengths and sizes, as well as texture; some hard and blue, others highly impregnated with mica.
The cause why the sea has abandoned so much ground, now constituting the low borders of this and other islands, may be sought in the extraordinary formation of the coral reefs which encircle them. Before these had attained sufficient extent and elevation the tide must have had full access to the foot of the mountains; and the many high cliffs which rise abruptly from the inland side of these level tracts seem to indicate that the islands themselves were once much larger than they now are; and, consequently, that the sea has removed all the ground which lay between
the present steep faces of the mountains and their original boundary. At a very remote period, no doubt, the coralworms began their labours, and these minute but wonderful artificers probably laid the foundations of their stupendous structures upon the rocks, from which the washing of the sea had cleared the earth and looser strata. As the reefs grew beneath the flood, the force of the ocean against the land would be gradually diminished; and, when the former reached the surface of the water, they would afford (as they do now) protection to the shore from all further encroachment on the part of the tide. Depositions from the sea, and earth brought by rains from the high lands, would gradually fill up the space left between the reefs and the mountains. This has been done to a considerable extent, and the soil so accumulated is now covered with the richest vegetation. Thus those immense basins (called lagoons, so far as they are occupied by water,) were formed, of which the coral ramparts on the one side, and the tall cliffs on the other, are the boundaries. In some cases, the reefs run to the foot of the mountains; but, in general, they rise at some distance—from a few yards to two or three miles. Upon these rugged circumvallations the waves beat with perpetual violence; while, in those hollows between them and the low flat coast, the lagoon is diffused in blue tranquillity, and, except when lashed into turbulence by the winds, scarcely a breaker is seen on the beach. Under the direction of a wise and beneficent Providence, how much are these islands indebted to the poor and slender coral insect, for the construction of those mighty moles that curb the fury of the mightier deep, and, by their happy interference, have occasioned those fruitful lines of level soil to spread between the hills and floods, which furnish the inhabitants with the principal part both of their food and raiment !