Page images
PDF
EPUB

272

FREE-WILL MISSIONARY OFFERINGS.

the overture of one embassy of peace, to a people'destroying themselves and one another; a people equally, at war, in their atrocious practices, with nature and with God. But “ the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light, and to them that sat in the shadow of death hath the glory of the Lord appeared.” It has been said to Huahine, “ Arise, shine! for thy light is come;" and she has arisen, and she does shine, in the garments of salvation and the beauty of holiness. We have already stated that this island contributes largely, according to its means, towards the support of the London Missionary Society. Silver and gold she has none, but what she hath-oil, and cotton, and arrow-root, and hogs—these she gives with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; or, if her children grudge the sacrifices which they bring, she refuses to accept them for the service of the sanctuary.—When a Missionary Association was first established here, and contributions were solicited, the people were explicitly informed that they should not be compelled to give any thing; whatever they did, therefore, must be of their own free will. One day a native brought a hog to Hautia, who was the treasurer, and, throwing the animal down at his feet, said, in an angry tone, “ Here's a pig for your Society." 66 Take it back again,” replied Hautia, calmly, “ God does not accept angry pigs.He then explained to the man the objects of Missionary institutions, and the necessity of those who supported them doing so from right motives, especially enforcing the Scripture words, “ The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.” The man was obliged to take his hog home again; for though exceedingly chagrined to have it rejected—refusal being considered a great affront when a present is offered-Hautia was too sternly conscientious to accept it. In Tahiti, on a similar occasion, a person brought a quantity of cocoa-nut oil to

GROSS IDEAS OF A FUTURE STATE.

273

Pomare, in a like bad spirit, exclaiming, “ Here are five bamboos of oil, take them for the Society.” “ No,” said the king, “ I will not mix your angry bamboos with the Missionary oil; take them away.” And he dismissed the reluctant contributor from his presence, with his gifts in his hands, bitterly mortified at having betrayed his meanness, and exposed himself to such a rebuke before his neighbours. He would afterwards have been glad to redeem his character with twice the number of bamboos, but the reproach clave to him.

Our friend Auna, this evening, gave us some further particulars of the absurd notions held by the Areois concerning a future state. The land of graves around us naturally led to conversation on subjects which lie beyond the grave. Some of these dissolute reprobates believed that when a father or a son died, and went to heaven—the heaven formerly described by Auna, as a great plain, amidst a circle of the gods—the survivor, at his decease, was met by the former just on this side of the celestial barrier, who there seized the new comer, and having baked him whole in an earth-oven, as hogs are baked below, put his body, thus dressed, into a basket made of cocoa-nut leaves, and then presented him as a dainty offering to the god whom he had worshipped when alive. By this cannibal divinity he was now eaten up; after which, through some inexplicable process, the dead and devoured man emanated from the body of the god, and became immortal.-If a father buried his son, or a son his father, in an unconsecrated place, it was said that the deceased would appear to the survivor the next day, and say, “ You have buried me in common earth, and so long as I lie there I cannot go to heaven”—of course always meaning the sensual heaven of the Areois—" you must bury me with ceremonies, and in holy ground.” The corpse was then taken

[blocks in formation]

274

FORMS OF SEPULTURE.

up; the arms bound to the shoulders, and the knees

up

to the body; it was then interred in a hole dug to fit its dimensions, in a sitting posture, but so shallow that the earth barely covered the head. This was the most honourable form of sepulture, and principally confined to high personages. But it was more usual to keep the corpses of their friends above ground, on frames, or in the recesses of maraes, allowing them to putrify and contaminate the air all round the depositories of such nuisances. When a person was dying, his relatives standing about him would say,

66 Take care of your head.We have not been able to learn the particular meaning of this figure of speech. It probably had been imagined, when the phrase first originated, that the head was the seat of the soul; and that, on the death of the body, the soul came out of the mouth.

CHAPTER XIII.

Tempestuous Weather—Case of Conscience-Rights of Fishery-Native

Frankness— Tani's Bed-Destruction of Tani's Idol- Tani's converted Priest-Ancient Forum-Fortified Eminence—Ludicrous TraditionMeteors–Offerings to Tani-End of the Cruise Round Huahine Astronomical Notions of the Islanders-Divisions of the Day, &c.— Prompt Justice—Singular Moth— Terms for the Winds-Appointment of Deacons in the Church- Visit to Tiramano-Exotic and Naturalized Vegetables.

Jan. 6. (Lord's day.) We had tremendous weather last night-rain and wind—which occasioned us no small inconvenience in our slight dwelling. Mr. Bennet complained on Friday of indisposition, from cold taken in consequence of being incessantly exposed to rain and sea-spray, for

upwards of twenty-four hours, and afterwards (having lent his blanket to accommodate a friend) lying in his undried clothes, on a board, all night.—The usual services, including prayer-meetings and sermons, were performed in the chapel here.

Notwithstanding the tempest and torrents of rain in the forenoon, the place was filled by an attentive audience, all seated on the floor (there being but one bench in the place) which, however, had been comfortably strewn with grass for their accommodation. As an example of the conscientiousness with which the Christian natives here honour the Sabbath, we may mention that a man came to us this evening, in some perplexity, saying, “ I saw a great

276

A CASE OF CONSCIENCE.

many fishes in the weir (one of the stone inclosures above mentioned), and, being afraid that they would escape before morning, I put a few large stones at the entrance, to prevent them from getting out. Have I done wickedly?”— Such nice enquiries the people often make, and they are sometimes of a nature so peculiarly delicate that it requires great discretion, and much acquaintance with their habits of thinking and feeling, to answer them satisfactorily. These questions, however, show that many keep their hearts with great diligence, and watch with a single eye over their conduct.

Jan. 7. The violence of the weather prevented us from getting abroad to-day.—The lake here abounds with fine fish, of which large quantities have just been taken by the natives, the prevalence of the north wind having occasioned the shoals to emigrate from the upper end of the lake, and flock for shelter into the weirs. This lake is divided among several chiefs, who own the adjoining districts, and such kind of property is considered so valuable, that every superficial inch is claimed by one or another great man ; each of whom maintains his right as staunchly as gamepreserves are held in England. The salmon caught here are remarkably delicate, and breed abundantly.

In the afternoon, at the conversation-meeting (where all kinds of profitable questions are allowed to be asked by the natives, and are frankly answered by the Missionaries), one of the raatiras said—“ I have been thinking, this day, on that passage in the Psalms, "Who will shew us any good?' and I said in myself, “Who will shew us any good ?' My heart has been thinking evil against the king (Hautia) who is sitting there. I have been told that he intends to take my fishing-ground from me. I want to know whether it is so, because my heart has been full of bad thoughts

« EelmineJätka »