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Commemoration of the sailing of the Ship Duff, with the first Mission
aries to the South Seas–Mollymauks—Agitated Sea-scene-A StormImminent Peril and great Deliverance - Tropic of Capricorn — The
Prickly Heat”—The Gannet-War Hawk-Lunar Influence—Dangerous Archipelago-A Whale struck-The Tropic Bird— Planet Venus -Lunar Rainbow - Water-spouts Sailors' Dreams - A Booby-bird taken-Retrospective Reflections—Indications of Land-An unknown Island-Resolution, Doubtful, Tuscan, Birnie, Chain, and other Islands - Arrival at Tahiti.
Aug. 10. This day, twenty-five years ago, the first Missionaries to the South Sea Islands embarked at Blackwall, with that distinguished servant of God, Captain James Wilson, in the ship Duff. The remembrance of this great event (as it has proved) in the history of those remote regions of the globe, which but a few years before were not known to exist, and for centuries upon centuries, it may be presumed, had been inhabited by generations of idolaters---furnished us with much matter for interesting conversation, devout thanksgiving, and
in the course of the day. We were especially led to commemorate, with gratitude and joy, the patient perseverance in well-doing of those good men by whom it pleased God eventually to commence one of the most signal gospel miracles, in the conversion of heathen tribes, recorded in the annals of the church of Christ. Nor did we forget with what zeal, faith, and
love, in this sacred cause, the Directors of the London Missionary Society had been enabled, during many fruitless years, to support their patient labourers in that untried field, sowing precious seed, watering it with tears, and waiting the Lord's own “ appointed weeks of harvest.” Those "weeks” are come, and the harvest is great; the reapers, indeed, are comparatively few, but many among the natives are entering upon the work.
Aug. 13. Two sea-fowls, called by the sailors Mollymauks (a variety of the Diomedea fuliginosa,) were taken. This bird is about the bulk of a goose in body, but the expansion of the wings, though these are remarkably arched, reaches seven feet. Their flight is very graceful, and performed with little apparent exertion; though long in the air, they are seldom seen to flap a pinion, whether they rise or descend, go with the wind, or sail against it. The plumage on the back and upper parts is dark blue, and white beneath. When they alight on the water to seize their prey, these large fowls buoy themselves over the surface, with their wings balancing above their bodies, either to preserve their steadiness, or to be ready to take flight. When placed upon deck they are unable to raise themselves from the level; and when upon the sea it is curious to watch them taking advantage of the tops of the waves to mount aloft.
When the water is smooth, they seem to run upon it with their feet for a great distance, and then rise very gradually before they can obtain full play for their wings. Having just killed the last of our live-stock, a sheep, we must hereafter be content without fresh meat, with which we have been moderately indulged ever since we left home. Hitherto our health has been unimpaired; truly, goodness and
mercy have followed us day by day; may our gratitude correspond with our obligations, and God be acknowledged in all our ways !
Aug. 15. Yesterday and to-day have been exceedingly tempestuous; and the spectacle of the sea the most sublime and appalling that we ever beheld. The diversity of forms assumed by the stupendous billows was very striking; they confounded the eye, and made giddy the brain, in attempting to follow their motions and their changes. There they rolled along in a continuous range of vast height, and several miles in length; while here they were followed by huge masses of heaped-up water of lesser extent, with steep and rugged declivities; others again rose like immense cones, insulated mountains of fearful elevation, while the foam broke over their summits, and poured down their sides, glistening in the sunbeams with dazzling whiteness, a vivid green appearing beneath it, and the colours of both being rendered more brilliantly conspicuous by the black sides of the billows down which these streams of splendour were hurried into the abyss below. The whole horizon presented a tumultuous succession of similar images, perpetually intervolving on every hand. We were preserved, amidst all this uproar and confusion, by Him who holdeth the waters in the hollow of his hand, and there, when the danger was most imminent, we were safe. It is worthy of note, that not at the shore only, but in the midst of the wide ocean, He sets bounds to the sea, saying to it “ Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther :" by the very element that raises the waves they are restrained from increasing in the ratio of the gale, or no vessels could live among them; for when the wind exceeds a certain degree of strength, it
actually blows down and keeps under the wild surges, which it had previously swollen to their limited height by a less impulse. The clue of our main-stay-sail broke loose while the storm was thus raging, and flapped with such violence that no one dared to approach it, for a blow would have been death; such was the force with which it struck, that, getting entangled with one of the largest of our anchors, it immediately heaved the shaft upon the bulwark. The sailors mastered it at length by hauling down the sail itself, and making it fast.
Aug. 16. Last night has been one of horrors and deliverances beyond all that we have yet experienced. We had retired to rest, as usual, though few could sleep, on account of the creaking and rocking of the vessel, the yelling of the winds, and the roaring of the waves. About one o'clock Mr. Bennet heard a tremendous explosion or crash, as though the ship had been violently disrupted, or all her timbers compressed together by some inconceivable force; a hideous glare of light at the same time bursting through the bull's-eye above, upon the darkness. Instantly afterwards, he heard the captain calling out of the cabin below, with vehemence, the two names of the Deputation : “Mr. Bennet! Mr. Tyerman ! did you hear ?-did you hear that ? Oh, pray to God for us ! All is over!—all is over! Lord, have mercy upon us !" A second time, before Mr. Bennet could answer, the terrible light flashed like a momentary conflagration of all around, and a louder peal of thunder than before accompanied the blaze, followed by what seemed to be the sea itself rushing in cataracts between decks. This, however, proved to be a storm of hail, the stones of which were as large as pigeons' eggs, and severely
IMMINENT PERIL AND GREAT DELIVERANCE.
smote the faces and hands of those above, who were personally exposed to it. Again the captain cried out, “ It is now all over !-pray, pray for us! Lord, have mercy upon us !” Mr. Tyerman and Mr. Jones, who had been asleep, now came running from their births, enquiring what was the nature of the occurrences, and what injury had been sustained. Just then a third flash of lightning, and a crack of thunder, the one more faint, the other less deafening than before, and with four distinct pulsations between them, gave token that the danger, though still near upon us, might be passing away. The chief mate, whose watch it was upon deck, now informed us that the hurricane began about nine o'clock, but it had not reached its crisis till towards
one, first distinguished the voice of the thunder from the wailing of the wind, and the booming of the waves; and when that dreadful shock convulsed the vessel, which convinced the captain that it must have been fatally struck, as at the same time he heard the expression aloud, “ The pumps are of no use now !” The mate said that this first great flash heated his face, and he felt as if stunned for a moment or two, the sulphurous flame appearing to run down his jacketsleeve. The second peal was accompanied by a crimson blaze, which was instantaneously followed by the tempest of hail, pouring like shot upon himself and his terrified comrades, who (to use his own expression) crowded about him like a flock of sheep, and could scarcely be prevailed to quit his side on the necessary duties of the ship. He observed, that the main-stay-sail had happily been taken in before the squall, or it must inevitably have been carried away, and perhaps involved the destruction of the vessel, with all on board. This he thought a very providential act, for he had only done it under an impression which