ART. II. Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands.

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ART. II. Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands.

[pp. 24-61] [original article in PDF format]

  1. AFTER the publication of Cooke's Voyages, the South Sea Islands, or to use the received language of the best geographers, that portion of the world which is denominated Polynesia, soon ceased to attract the attention of the public. The age of conquest seemed then to be past, and that of colonization was not yet come. The islanders could not buy of us, because they had nothing to sell; sufficient specimens of their weapons and apparel had been brought home for public and private collections; beautiful prints had made us familiar with their scenery and external habits; a cruel disease had been left among them;— [24] and having dispensed to them this new curse, and taught them new wants which nothing but a commerce with civilized nations could gratify, the Europeans left them to themselves. Protestantism however had reached its age of missions, and those great and rapidly-increasing sects, which Wesley and Whitefield had founded, had now wealth as well as zeal enough for any attempt which might be suggested to spread the Gospel, according to their manner of belief. A mission to these islands was proposed; adventurers volunteered for the service; the notorious Capt. Bligh, who was then about to return to Taheite* for the bread-fruit-tree, offered to take them out gratuitously, and the Lords of the Admiralty gave their consent: but when it came to the point, they who had offered themselves to the work, and been a year under tuition for the purpose, shrunk back. In 1794 the project was renewed in the Evangelical Magazine; meetings for prayer and consultation were held every fortnight during six months; a society was formed, a general meeting convoked in London; great was the company of the preachers, ministers and Christians of all denominations assembled, and so strongly and entirely did they sympathize in their zeal, that, in their own language, 'they were constrained to say, this is a new Pentecost.' Subscriptions poured in, and candidates in abundance presented themselves, from whom thirty were selected, six being married men. Every possible precaution was taken to secure success as far as the foresight of the directors could secure it; the ship was manned with Methodists, and Capt. Wilson, who left his retirement, to take the command, was a man especially qualified for the charge by temper and opinions as well as professional skill. On the 20th of August, 1796, they weighed anchor, and hoisted the missionary* flag,—three doves argent in a purple field bearing olive branches in their bills. These colours did not excite more surprize in the [25] navy, than the remarkable deportment of all on board; not an oath was heard among them; and the sailors who were at Spithead when the Duff finally departed, talk to this day of the Ten Commandments, as they called her, in which, when she set sail, the Captain, the crew, and the cargo, were all singing psalms.

  2. The Kings of Spain and Portugal, never, in the plenitude of their zeal, sent forth a mission so abundantly stored as this. There were men of all useful trades among the missionaries, only four among the number were ordained ministers, and one had attended the hospitals, and understood printing. All possible means were provided for making them well acquainted with the countries to which they were bound, and even while the Duff lay at Portsmouth a manuscript vocabulary of the language of Taheite, which had been made by some of the poor Bounty-mutineers, was procured for them. It had been determined to station them at Taheite, the Friendly Islands, the Marquesas, the Sandwich, and the Pelew Islands; but as the practicability of this distribution depended upon circumstances which could not be foreseen, a discretionary power was vested in a committee of the missionaries, subject to the approbation of Capt. Wilson; and if any difference of opinion should arise, the directors recommended their 'appealing to the decision of Divine Providence by a solemn and religious use of the ancient institution of drawing lots.' As they approached the scenes of their destination, the brethren who during a seven month's voyage had had leisure and opportunity to become acquainted with each other's temper, were desired to chuse the place where each would be left. Eighteen, including all the married men, declared for Taheite, ten for Tongataboo, and two for St. Christina. On the 5th of March, 1797, they anchored at the former island.

  3. The natives flocked joyfully to the ship, carrying as usual pigs, fowls, and fruit to market. It was Sunday, 'the day of the Eatooa,' or Deity, on which the new comers 'durst not trade.' Greatly as this surprized the islanders, the repulse which their women received astonished them still more; the transports of their joy subsided, and the greater number returned to shore, and about forty only remained to hear a sermon. There were two Swedes on the island who spoke English; these men served as interpreters, and the news that people from Pretane were come to settle there occasioned general exultation. A large [26] house was allotted them which had been built for Captain Bligh, who, the natives said, had told them he should come back and reside there; and shortly afterwards, the district of Matavai, in which it stood, was formally ceded to the missionaries. They took possession of their new dwelling, and received a due proportion of the stores with which the mission had been not less profusely than injudiciously provided. According to the plan of the voyage, the Duff was now to visit Tongataboo and the Marquesas, and then return to Taheite; but before she departed, the missionaries on shore, alarmed by what they heard from the Swedes, and what they saw of the natives, proposed that the whole body should settle there as a necessary measure of security. The brethren, on board, unhappily for some of them, could not be persuaded, neither did Capt. Wilson perceive any such necessity as was alleged; and having remained a fortnight, the vessel sailed.

  4. When the Duff reached Tongataboo, an Englishman and an Irishman, by name Ambler and Connelly came on board; two fellows who bore such evident qualifications for the gallows in their countenances, that they were rightly suspected of having made their escape from it by way of Botany Bay. Bad however, as they seemed, and indeed proved to be, they gave a sensible and honest opinion when their advice was asked; the natives, they said, would receive the missionaries gladly, and treat them kindly, but property would not be safe; and if they were encumbered with iron tools, and should endeavour to defend themselves from robbers, their lives would certainly be in danger. This advice so far impressed them, that they resolved to take no more property than according to their notion was absolutely indispensable. Many Chiefs offered to receive some of them, but they would not separate, and were left under the protection of Toogahowe, who by Ambler's account was the greatest warrior, and most powerful man in the island. Ambler himself promised to instruct them in the language.

  5. The two remaining adventurers were now to be landed at St. Christina, or Ohittahoo, according to its native name. Harris, the one who had been ordained in the Methodist Church, was nearly forty years of age; he was the only man who had fixed upon this station when the brethren made their choice, and he had persuaded Crook to be his companion;—Crook was a young man of two and twenty, who had been a gentleman's servant. The first visitors who came off to them were seven beautiful young [27] women, they swam to the ship perfectly naked, except that a few green leaves were fastened round the waist, and no sooner had they got on board, than the hungry goats attacked them, and eat up their Eve-aprons. These are the islanders whom Cook thought superior in beauty both of form and features to all the other Polynesians, and whom the Spaniards, when Mendana discovered them, beheld with such admiration, that the chief pilot of the expedition declared nothing in his life ever caused him so much regret as leaving such beautiful creatures to be lost by their idolatry. The missionaries had been disappointed in their expectations of Taheitean beauty. They were not so here, and they say of the women that as models for the statuary and the painter their equals can seldom be found. But their condition was worse than that of the other islanders; food seemed to be scarce among them, and if any were given to the women, it was taken from them unless they could conceal it. The men all appeared to have a thoughtful cast of countenance, such it is well expressed, "as men acquire who are struggling for subsistence, and can hardly get it," but they had their mad fits, of laughter and loquacity. Tenae their Chief, the eldest son of the Royalet who reigned in Cook's time, gladly consented to receive the missionaries, promising to give them a house and a share of all that he had; and he led them to one of his best houses, telling them they might occupy it as soon as they pleased. It was built of bamboos, about half an inch apart from each other; within which long blinds or curtains made of leaves were hung; the length was twenty-five feet, the width only six. The back part was ten feet high, the front only four; it was thatched or rather roofed with hard leaves, so well laid on as to keep it perfectly dry; a floor mat, which reached from end to end, and some large calabashes were all the household furniture. When they returned on board the two brethren were asked their opinion of the place, and whether they were still in the same mind to settle there. Crook replied that all which he had seen tended to encourage him; there was not indeed the same plenty here as at the other islands, but comfort was not what he wanted when he devoted himself to the mission. Harris, on the contrary, disapproved of every thing; 'he judged the scene before him a solemn one,' and seemed to have lost all his firmness as well as his ardour. It was agreed that they should go on shore the next day, take their beds with them, and make a trial.

  6. The next day came; Harris declined going, that he might remain [28] on board to pack up their things in small parcels for the greater facility of carrying them up the valley. Crook landed, took possession of his new abode, commended himself to the protection of that God to whose service he had devoted himself, and in that faith lay down and slept in peace. He had already studied the language with such attention that he could understand almost every thing that was said; and he began to eat their sour mahié, in spite of the uncleanliness of the preparation; and to attach himself to the place as that which he had chosen, and where he was to remain. Harris meantime could not be persuaded to leave the ship till the weather rendered it probable that she might be driven off the island, and then he was set ashore. The ship however returned to her former anchorage, and after six days the two missionaries came on board to deliver their opinions. Harris complained of the poverty of the island, and that he could not eat the mahié; his companion declared his resolution of remaining even though the other should not; however they both went on shore again for farther trial. Three days after this, Tenae invited them to go with him to another valley; Crook readily agreed; Harris, probably afraid that the ship might leave him, would not go, and the Chief to accommodate him in the most obliging manner he could, left him his wife to be treated, as if she were his own, till he came back. It was in vain that poor Harris protested he did not want the woman! she was left with him—and finding herself neglected, called some of her female friends to satisfy themselves concerning his sex while he was asleep. This inquest was not made without awakening him; his fear at being so awakened, and his horror at the thought of remaining among a people so 'given up to wickedness' then completely overcame him. He got down to the beach with his chest, at evening; none of the crew were ashore, and the ship lay out of hail; there he remained sitting on the chest till about four in the morning, when the natives drove him away, and stole his clothes. A fisherman had compassion enough to swim off to the vessel, and tell the Captain of his situation; the boat was sent for him, and he was found in a pitiable condition, like one out of his senses. Crook however was not shaken by this desertion. 'It would,' he said, 'greatly have increased his happiness to have had a friend and assistant who might have comforted him in the time of trouble; but since the Lord had ordered things otherwise, he thought that it better suited his character and profession to resign himself to God's fatherly care, [29] and rest in his promises, than to quit a station where a door of usefulness was so evidently opened; and should his blessed Saviour make him the honoured instrument of preparing the way for some of his more able servants, he should at least have the happiness to reflect that his life was not spent in vain.' Various sorts of garden-seeds were left him, with tools, medicines, an Encyclopaedia, and other useful works. He came on board the evening before the ship departed, to take his leave; then indeed tears glistened in his eyes, but none fell, nor did he discover the least sign of fear or unwillingness to enter upon his work alone.

  7. This interesting man, thus left alone among the natives, suffered much from hunger during the first six months; but he was kindly treated, and the chiefs always gave him part of their scanty portion. After he had been about a year on the island, an American vessel entered the bay, and he went on board to learn whence she came, and to write home by her. The wind came on fresh from the mountains, the ship could not work into the harbour, and was carried to leeward, and it was then impossible for him to put back to land. He therefore requested the Captain to carry him to Nooaheevah, or Sir Henry Martyn's Island, one of the same groupe, about a degree to the N. W. and the American being a kind-hearted man bore away and landed him there. Here then Crook was set ashore, without any thing whatever except the clothes in which he stood. The natives astonished at hearing a white man speak their own language, considered him as a God, till he dissuaded them from that opinion. The Chief however made him his tayo, or chosen friend; a large piece of ground was given him well stored with bread-fruit and cocoa-nut-trees, and with the tarro root; he enclosed it, built a hut there, made himself respected, and endeavoured to make himself useful. This change of abode had been to his advantage. Nooaheevah is a plentiful island, the fruits of Taheite grow there in abundance, and springs and rivulets are so numerous that vegetation is even more luxuriant there than at Tongataboo. The natives are hospitable, but incessantly at war among themselves; and war is to them the double pleasure of the battle and the chase, for they bake and devour the slain. Crook's influence was never sufficient to check this bloody spirit, yet he thought that if a body of missionaries were settled among them, they would be able in great measure to prevent these wars; he was too conscientious to act the part, or [30] he himself might have been the Mango Capac of the island. There are few traces of government among these islanders; their main religion is hero-worship, the most widely diffused of all forms of faith (for the saint-worship of the Catholics is the same thing under a different name, and it exists also among the Mahommedans:) and, except perhaps sun-worship, of all others the most natural. When he had resided there seven months, two South Sea whalers put in for refreshment; wishing to return to Christina, he thought the only means of getting there was by way of England, which he hoped to reach before the Duff would sail with the second detachment of missionaries, and accordingly he departed in one of these vessels.

  8. The Duff after her departure from the Marquesas returned to Taheite, where every thing had gone on well during her absence. There Harris joined the missionaries, and Gillham, the only surgeon among them, abandoned the mission. Capt. Wilson made a final distribution of property among the brethren, carried away by force one of the Swedes, a measure necessary for their safety, and sailed again for Tongataboo. He there found that the missionaries had separated into small parties. They had done this because there was not a man in the island, who was not, in his own phrase, 'dying in love for their things,' and because Connelly informed them, the Chiefs had determined to plunder them, and only waited for the return of the ship, thinking that more articles would be left, and that they should have no vengeance to apprehend. In consequence of this they thought it better to separate and put themselves under the protection of different chiefs. Capt. Wilson took Connelly away by force, for having repeatedly threatened the missionaries; but he left Ambler and another wretch by name Morgan, both of whom were as bad or even worse. Every thing however was thought to promise fairly when the Duff finally departed. The groupe to which Tongataboo belongs had been named the Friendly Islands, and the brethren who were stationed there wrote to the Society by Capt. Wilson, saying, that surely no appellation was ever better applied. The knowledge of the Gospel, they said, would render these islanders 'the most amiable people on earth, such was their kindness to strangers, and their generosity to each other: they fully answered the most favourable representations which had ever been given of them!' This must have been written in some hour of sunshine, under the exhilarating influence of gratitude for bounty fresh received, and in the ardour of [31] benevolent hope; the facts which they had already witnessed did not justify such an opinion, and what they afterwards experienced effectually overthrew it.

  9. Tasman discovered Tongataboo in 1643. He saw no weapons among them; a proof not that they were without them, nor that they were accustomed to a state of peace, but that they had entire confidence in their guests, whom indeed there is reason to suppose they believed to be superior beings. When Cook arrived a hundred and thirty years afterwards, the former visit was remembered, and even the number of years which had since elapsed. The Dutch navigator had given the Chief a wooden bowl; Cook found this bowl in possession of the offices of Chief Justice and Viceroy, which it had uninterruptedly exercised, and with an impartiality that has rarely perhaps been equalled;—it was used as a divining cup to ascertain the guilt of accused persons, and during the absence of the Chief it received homage as his representative. It was superseded by a pewter plate which Cook presented. This reverence which had been paid the bowl must have proceeded from the respect and wonder with which the natives were impressed by the Dutch and their ship, not from any admiration of a work of art which many of their own manufacturing exceeded. Their clubs are curiously carved; the planks of their canoes feathered and lapt over each other so as to be water-tight, in this respect far superior to the Taheitean boats which require constant baling. Their cloth is glazed so highly as to resist wet; their basket-work made with great ingenuity; the matting which they use for their floors, and even for clothing, better and more beautiful than what is made at Taheite. In many respects indeed they are advanced beyond the people of that groupe. The bread-fruit is not so abundant, and agriculture is therefore necessary, and the islanders being thus in same degree accustomed to labour, have learnt something more of the nature of property. Their language is radically the same, but they have the s, the k, and the gamma, or hard g, which the Georgian islanders have not. That the Chiefs possess greater authority is not to be accounted among their advantages; those savages have been found the happiest and least deteriorated in their moral nature, among whom society most nearly resembles the patriarchal system, for that system, in contradiction to the sophistry of the Filmer school, has nothing in common with despotism, and however monarchy may end it always begins in violence and injustice. The Chiefs [32] are not taller than the common people. Infant murder, infant succession, and that accursed system of the Arreoys with all the abominations which it produces, are unknown here. Adultery is regarded as a crime, and though chastity is not esteemed a virtue, that lasciviousness which degrades the Taheiteans even below the brute creation, is here only to be found among the most abandoned of the lowest class.

  10. They have no priests, but this by no means implies that they have no superstition. The priests of a false religion do evil by preventing the introduction of any thing better than their own system, but till any thing better is attempted to be introduced the good which they do is usually more than a compensation for the mischief. These people, though without a priesthood, have fables upon which a savage Hesiod might erect a mythology not more irrational than that which served the people of Athens for their faith in the brightest age of Greece. Each district and each family of the higher ranks, has its own deity; each individual his Odooa, or attendant spirit, who partakes more of the evil than the good angel, and is supposed to inflict disease, and to be propitiated by abstinence, by sacrifices, and the practice of self-tormenting. Earth and sea and sky have their presiding Gods, who sometimes act in opposition to each other. The wind is under the direction of a goddess, perhaps because it bloweth as it listeth, and follows no other perceptible rule of change. Calla Filatonga is the name of this deity. The island suffers dreadfully from hurricanes: on these occasions they always impute the calamity to their neglect of her, a person is appointed to represent her, and receive in her name offerings of hogs, yams and kava. This person is chosen for the occasion. The island, according to their belief, rests upon the shoulders of a powerful god called Mowee, but like Atlas, strong as he is, he is weary of his burthen, and not unfrequently strives to shake it off. Whenever they feel the earthquake which this attempt occasions, a tremendous outcry is made over the whole island, and sometimes they endeavour to frighten him into good behaviour by beating the ground with large sticks. The greatest of all their gods is Higgolayo, the lord of the country of the dead: this country they call Doobludha, it lies far distant, and the soul on its release is immediately convoyed thither in a large and fast-sailing canoe, there to riot in the enjoyment of all sensual delights. But this article of belief is peculiar to the Chiefs, and the Tooas or lower classes fancy that the enjoyments of Doobludha are [33] above* their capacity. Like the Romans they acknowledge the existence of strange gods, whom they call Fyga, and of these they willingly admit ours to be the most powerful. One of their Chiefs, in the amalgamating spirit of polytheism consecrated a house to this god, and always slept in it when he was indisposed, in hopes of obtaining a cure. Here some large conch shells are kept with which to sound the alarm in time of danger, and weapons are laid upon the rafters, that they may there receive a virtue which will render them successful in war.

  11. This chief who went to the god of the English for healing, did not in the mean time neglect his own, and when his disease became desperate, he resolved upon a desperate remedy. It is the dreadful belief of these islanders, that if a human victim be offered in vicarious sacrifice for the sick, his life and strength will pass into the patient; the nearer the relative who suffers, the more acceptable is the atonement to the Odooa supposed to be, and this wretched old chief, clinging with cowardly selfishness to life, sent for his younger son* Colelallo to have him strangled. The youth was told he was to have his little finger cut off,—a common form of propitiatory sacrifice; but as soon as he came into his father's presence he was seized. Then, comprehending their intention, he bade them use no force, and he would submit to his father's will: they continued their violence, and by a great exertion he beat them off; others, among whom was his own sister, came to their assistance, and they effected his death. When the father died, a shocking spectacle was exhibited for two days at his funeral and over his grave: people of both sexes cut and mangled themselves in the most frantic manner: some thrust spears through their thighs, arms and cheeks, others beat themselves about the head with clubs so violently, that blood ran down in streams, and the blows were heard far off; one man having oiled his hair set it on fire, and ran about the area with his head in flames. These are melancholy proofs that superstitions of the deadliest kind will exist without the aid of priestcraft. There is an appetite of religion,—a craving after [34] faith in the human mind; it is an instinct by which man is more truly distinguished from all inferior beings than he is by form or internal organization, and like all instincts, when checked or perverted it produces evil commensurate to the good for which it was implanted in us.

  12. Among savages the conjurors, among barbarians the priests, have ever been found the bitterest enemies to christianity. Here are a people without either, yet no where does the attempt at introducing a new religion seem to have been regarded more unwillingly. Before the departure of the Duff the missionaries had seen symptoms which might reasonably have alarmed them for their own safety. They witnessed a war in which some of the prisoners were fastened to trees and burnt alive, and they themselves interceded for and saved a poor wretch whom Toogahowe (one of their protectors) had ordered to be tied up with his arms extended, while two women applied burning brands to his arm-pits. One of the Chiefs earnestly enquired if any of the brethren could assist women in difficult labours, but they had little knowledge either of surgery or medicine, and soon perceived how much to their advantage it would have been, if they had all been practitioners, for diseases are common here, and the people unacquainted with any* means of curing or even of alleviating them. As the strangers could not cure, the natives supposed that they could kill;—power there must be in them, and if it was not for good, it needs must be for evil. It so happened that three of the Chiefs died shortly after their arrival; an opinion was advanced, and soon spread abroad, that the God of the English had killed them, in answer to the prayers of the missionaries; it was said that they had never died so fast before, and that if these people continued praying and singing there would not be a Chief left alive. This idea, said the missionaries, could only proceed from the father of lies working in these children of disobedience. Their hopes, however, were too sanguine, and their zeal too fervent, to suffer any abatement from these ill-boding appearances, and when the Duff left them, they seem to have had no apprehension [35] of danger from any person except their wretched countrymen Ambler and Morgan.

  13. A week had not elapsed before it was discovered that Veeson, one of their own number, cohabited with a native woman. When he was 'admonished' upon this offence, he acknowledged the fact, confessed its criminality, and proposed to marry the woman, as the only remedy. The unfitness upon their own principles of such a remedy was not taken into consideration; but when the ceremony came to be performed, the poor woman, with a feeling little to have been expected, burst into tears, and refused to incur the obligations which she was made to understand such a ceremony would impose upon her, alledging that no due affection subsisted between them, for that she was entirely actuated by fear of her parents and her Chief. Thus deprived of the mask which such a marriage would for a time have afforded him, Veeson gave way to those profligate habits, or propensities, which enthusiasm had only suspended in him, and he delivered up his Bible and all his books to the other brethren, in spite of their earnest entreaties that he would keep them, and sometimes withdraw from his companions and devote a little while to their perusal. Shortly afterwards a vessel from Rhode Island arrived; the missionaries went on board to request that the Captain would take Ambler and Morgan off the island, but from this he excused himself, saying he knew them too well already; they were convicts who had escaped from Botany Bay in the same ship with Muir. Bad as this intelligence was, it was not the worst which they learnt, for they were informed that several of the American crew also meant to remain ashore, and accordingly no less than seven were left there, of these one was a native of Owbyhee, two, by name Beak and Burham, proved to be industrious and well disposed men, the others were ruffians of the most abandoned profligacy, whom Ambler persuaded to leave the ship by telling them that if they grew tired of Tongataboo they could at any time plunder the missionaries of tools to build a vessel, and instruments to navigate her.

  14. Their situation was already sufficiently perilous. An old woman of the first rank died of a complication of disorders, under which she had laboured for many years, yet her death was laid entirely to their charge, and the Chief under whose protection some of them were settled sent for Gaulton, and seriously advised that they should desist from the pernicious practice of praying, for if they did not, he feared it would be attended with [36] the most fatal consequences to themselves and to him. They were suspected, they were helpless, they could not make themselves useful, and, worse than all, they were rich. War broke out in the island; they could not bear arms, and the Chiefs told them, that being the case they were to expect no protection. In fact it was impossible to bestow any. There was an end of all subordination. The whole ferocity of the Polynesian character now broke out: no quarter was given during the fight, women dipt their hands in the wounds of the slain, and then licked the blood;—one man was seen roasting a dead body on the field of battle to be his feast; a prisoner was cut up alive, and eaten raw! A whole district had been utterly laid waste in a former war, neither man, woman, nor child having been spared, and the same work of devastation seemed about to be renewed. The women and the wounded fled into the spirits' houses, places alike resorted to for health and for sanctuary; here also some of the brethren took shelter; but it appeared from the threats which were uttered, that though the weaker party crowded to these places as their last hope, the conquerors did not regard them as inviolable. In the course of this war three of the missionaries, and Burham who dwelt with them, were murdered. The others almost miraculously escaped. Even the war was imputed to them. One of them heard the natives into whose hands he had fallen agree with one of the Botany Bay men to loomee-loomee him, that is to beat a broken cocoa-shell into the crown of his head with a club,—one of the torments which they sometimes inflict upon their prisoners: and he saw them jag the cocoa-shell for the purpose. The victorious Chief left Tongataboo for a while to extend his power in the adjoining islands, and they had the most positive assurances that when he returned, which would be in less than a month, he had determined upon the death of some of them, perhaps of all. In their despair they thought of attempting to escape to New Holland in their boat; but they were without any implements of navigation, having been plundered of every thing, and had no means of procuring food, or preserving water for such a voyage. It may be conceived with what agitation men under such circumstances would hear the report of two guns fired in the bay: it was in the evening, too late for them to certify themselves from whence the sound proceeded, and they past the night in that state of suffering which nothing but the intensity of hope and fear can produce. In the morning they could not get their boat to sea; in the afternoon a higher tide enabled them to [37] clear out, and they found two ships lying in the roads, on board one of which Harris was come from Taheite for the sake of seeing how the mission went on. It need not be said how joyfully the five surviving brethren, with Beak, who had been their fellow-sufferer and faithful friend, took this providential opportunity of escaping from the island. Veeson remained there eighteen months longer, in less danger from the natives, because he accommodated himself to their vices, and did not offend them by praying. The second missionary ship touched at Tongataboo, and brought him off, and it is worthy of remark, say the Directors, that his knowledge of a Chief who had taken refuge at the Horne Islands was the means of saving the Captain and a boat's crew from being cut off while bartering with the natives.

  15. Thus terminated the missions to the Marquesas and to the Friendly Islands. That which was established at Taheite still exists; but before its proceedings are related it will be convenient to describe the state of the island at the time of its establishment, for which these Transactions afford ample and curious materials.

  16. In the first article of their religion there is something too remarkable to be received without suspicion. 'Three deities,' say the missionaries, 'are held supreme, standing in a height of celestial dignity that no other can approach unto; and what is more extraordinary the names are personal appellations. 1. Tāne, te Medōoa, the Father; 2. Oromattow, 'Tooa tee te Myde, God in the Son; 3. Taroa, Mānnoo te Hooa, the Bird, the Spirit.' Do you believe, said Wesley to the Chicasaws,that there is but One in the clear sky? They answered, we believe that there are Two with him;—Three in all. When Wesley thus finds the Trinity among the savages of North America, and these missionaries find it in Taheite, are such discoveries to be considered as affording any support to the doctrine, or as rendering the witnesses suspicious? There is more reason to impeach their judgement than their veracity. They would not fabricate such a resemblance; for even if they were less sincere than they must fully be admitted to be, none of them conceive the doctrine needs any such support, nor do they ever attempt to build up religion upon historical testimony; all fanatics go a surer way to work. But they would fancy they had discovered it; the very circumstance of their implicit faith would make them imagine resemblances where there was no similitude; accommodate to, [38] and explain by, their own pre-conceived notions things which they imperfectly comprehended; and propound questions to which savages assent because though they do not understand what is asked, they perceive that assent will be agreeable;—a fertile source of error, of which the history of America affords abundant instances. There are few superstitions without some mythological bird; the Greeks and Romans had their harpies, and their Jupiter his eagle; the Mahommedans their Simorg, and their Celestial Cock, whose morning voice of adoration awakens all the Chanticleers of earth; the followers of Zerdusht their Bird of Bahman, who wars upon the spirits of evil; the Japanese their Foo. Thus also the people of Taheite believe that their morais and burial places are frequented by a sacred bird, who feeds on the sacrifices, and in whom the Eatooa descends when the priest invokes him. They believe that the soul as soon as it quits the body is swallowed by the bird, and purified by being digested through him. What more likely than that the missionaries hearing of this Eatooa Bird, and full, as it appears they were, of Mr. Maurice's speculations upon the Trimourtee, should have hastily concluded that they had found the Trinity in Taheite?

  17. Their curious Theogony was developed in a conversation between Manne-Manne the old high priest, and Taaba Orero, who is said to have been the oracle and orator of the country for tradition. According to them in the beginning Tāne took Taroa and begat Avye, fresh water; Atye, the sea; Awa, the waterspout; Mātai, the wind; Arye, the sky; and , the night; then, Mahanna, the sun, in the shape of a man called Oerōa Tabōoa; when he was born all his brethren and sisters turned to earth, only a daughter was left, by name Townoo, she conceived by Oerōa Tabōoa, brought forth the Thirteen Months, and then returned to earth. The father of the months then embraced a rock, which brought forth a son, after which the rock returned to its original state, and Oerōa Tabōoa himself died and returned to dust. Their son embraced the sand of the sea, which brought forth Tee and Opeera, a son and daughter, then he also returned to the earth; Tee took his sister to wife, she brought forth a daughter, Oheera, Reene, Moonoa; then she fell sick, and entreated her brother-husband to cure her, saying she would in like manner restore him to health if ever he needed healing, and thus they might live for ever; but Tee chose to let her die, and then took his daughter to wife; she bore him three sons, Ora, Vanoo, Tytory, and three daughters, Hennatoomorrooroo, [39] Henaroa, Noowya. The father and mother dying, these brothers said let us take our sisters to wife, and become many. So men began to multiply upon the earth.

  18. Mixed as this is with fable, it is in the main physical allegory; proof sufficient that the Taheiteans have degenerated since it was framed, or that they received it from a people farther advanced in knowledge than themselves. It is remarkable that it bears no resemblance to the superstitious faith of Tongataboo. The Chiefs in Taheite are a taller race than the people; apparently, therefore, as in Poland and Circassia, a different race; in Tongataboo this is not the case; it may be then that the Friendly Islanders retain their own superstitions, while in Taheite the conquerors have imposed their* creed upon the earlier inhabitants of the island. The language of both groupes is of Malay origin, but the Malays are only known to us as Mahommedans, of their earlier faith we know too little to trace out any vestiges here.

  19. Their higher gods they denominate Fwhanoo Po, born of Night; thus, like the Greeks, making night elder than all things, and referring the origin of their deities to darkness. Like the Greeks also they regard the spirits of their ancestors as exalted into divinities, or Eatooas, who are to be supplicated by prayers and sacrifices, a mode of faith so natural as to have been almost universal. A spirit thus exalted becomes the Tee, or tutelar angel of his family. They believe that in dreams the soul leaves the body under the care of its Tee, and roams at large through the world of spirits. This too is a notion which is to be found in all mythologies, and to which some passages in our own Scriptures seem to refer. It was strikingly applied by poor Mydo, a Taheitean lad who was brought to England in one of our South Sea whalers, and happily fell into the hands of the Moravians, among whom he died. He said to these kind protectors one morning 'you told me that my soul could not die, and I have been thinking about it. Last night my body lay on that bed, but I knew nothing of it, for my soul was very far off. [40] My soul was in Taheite. I am sure I saw my mother and my friends, and I saw the trees and dwellings as I left them. I spoke to the people, and they spoke to me, and yet my body was lying still in this room all the while. In the morning I was come again into my body, and was at Mirfield, and Taheite was a great many miles off. Now I understand what you say about my body being put into the earth, and my soul being somewhere else, and I wish to know where it will be then when it can no more return to my body.'

  20. The parts of a fabulous creed are rarely coherent. Thus notwithstanding the more orthodox history, one of the missionaries was told, when he took occasion from the beautiful scene around him, to discourse of the Creator, that the God of Pretane made all things there, but not at Taheite; that one of their gods reached up and stuck the stars in the sky, and that Mawwā, a being of enormous strength, holds the sun with ropes, so that he may not go faster than he pleases. They believe that stars are the children of the sun and moon, and that when these greater bodies are eclipsed they are exercising the power of generation. Their system of religion is better understood at Ulietea, in which island, the missionaries say, it seems to be regularly taught.

  21. Human sacrifices are frequent. When the young king is first invested with the maro oora, or red sash of royalty, (which is made of net work, and thrummed with red and yellow feathers,) the Chief of every district in his dominions presents to him one, two, or three, human victims, according to the size of the district. These unhappy persons are knocked on the head, the priest plucks out an eye from each and offers it to the King upon a plantain leaf. This bloody ceremony is typical; the head being sacred, and the eye its most precious part, that part is offered to the King as the head and eye of the people, and during the oblation he holds his mouth open, as if to receive the additional wisdom and vigilance which the sacrifice imparts. Sometimes the bodies are cut in pieces and distributed among the people; sometimes they are thrown into a pit within the morai and covered with stones. From the number of pits in the great morai of Opare, where prisoners taken in war are sacrificed, and from the expressions of the guides, Jefferson, the missionary, inferred that many hundreds had been put to death there. These sacrifices are performed at the end of every war in which any person has been killed, and pieces taken from the hand or foot, or some of the victim's hair, are sent round to every district, in token of the King's friendship. But even the slightest occasion [41] suffices. Pomarre, the father of the present king, dreamt one night that his god told him he must sacrifice a man to him, or he should be angry. He arose, laid hands on the first person suitable to his purpose that he found, and murdered him without hesitation.

  22. The priests keep the people in great fear. If we deny Manne-Manne any thing, said they, he will pray to the Eatooa, and we shall die. On another occasion they expressed their fear of saying much in censure of one of their chiefs, lest the gods whom he kept in his house should come and kill them when they were asleep. One of the jugglers told the missionaries he had several Tees, or spirits, whom he could send where he pleased as instruments of death, yea, even make them set fire to trees at his command. The mode of enchantment whereby they pretend to discover a thief is worthy of notice; a pit is made and filled with water, and the priest, holding a young plantain tree in his right hand, utters his invocations over the pit, till the image of the thief is reflected in the water. How this trick is performed is not explained, but it is remarkable that a like mode of divination is mentioned in the old romance of Horn Child and Maiden Rimnild. 'There is such a mystery of iniquity,' say the missionaries, 'in the execrations used by the natives, that the wisdom which is from beneath is very manifest by them;—as we get more acquainted with their diabolical practices it is demonstrated that they are very deep in the mysteries of Satan's kingdom.' Poor men! a few lessons from M. Ingleby, who stiles himself the Emperor of Conjurors, would have enabled them to foil these magicians at their own weapons.

  23. The juggler and the physician are usually the same among savages; these people are raised above the savage state; but their physic, such as it is, is still one of the secrets of the priesthood. This necessarily follows from their notion of diseases; wherever disease is imputed to the immediate action of supernatural power, exorcism must be the remedy. It was said of Pomarre, when he was very ill, that the god had entered into his belly, and was rending his inside to pieces; he took the missionaries' physic, and appeared then for the first time to have faith in the efficacy of their prayers. They are cruel to their sick; the sight of suffering is at all times painful, and when barbarians have no hope of relieving it, they oftentimes abandon the sufferer, or more mercifully put him to death. The brethren mention in one of their latest accounts that a young man had been buried alive with circumstances of great barbarity. Old age is treated with neglect and the utmost disrespect; it is their common phrase [42] to call any thing refuse "old man." This unfeeling and unnatural part of their character perhaps originates in the strange custom of infant succession to the throne.

  24. Vancouver was present at the funeral of a chief: the officiating priest delivered a speech which seemed to be an expostulation with the Eatooa; the trees and plants, he said, remained and were flourishing, and yet Matooara was suffered to die! They say of the dead person that he is harra po, gone to the night. Every soul they believe is eaten as soon as it leaves the body by the Eatooa bird, or by one of the gods it passes through him, and is purified in the process. How would it have delighted Swedenborg to have the main article of his own mythology acknowledged here! Then it is raised to life, and washed, and becomes a god, never more to be liable to suffering. The new god succeeds to the privilege of eating other souls, as he himself had been eaten, and if the parent dies before his children it is his privilege to deify them by this new species of gestation and second birth. Little, however, as they seem to feel for the sick and the dying, they have some customs respecting the dead which must have originated in strong affection. The body of a chief who died soon after the missionaries were left in Taheite was embowelled and anointed, and exposed to the sun to be dried; and every night the widow lay beside the corpse. The hair of the dead is preserved by their relatives, and they make it into a head-dress, called tamōu, which the women wear at their heivas, or dances, and which is held in the highest estimation. The nails also of the departed are regarded as precious relics, and worn in mourning. At a marriage where some of the missionaries were present, an altar was covered with the cloth which had served as a pall for the tomb of the bride's father; and his skull, which according to custom had been preserved by the widow, and anointed with cocoa-nut oil, was produced and presented to the daughter and her bridegroom.

  25. The privileges of the royal family are in the spirit of Asiatic despotism; whatever place they enter is made sacred by their presence, and no persons except their domestics may enter afterwards. They are carried every where on men's shoulders, and however steep or dangerous the way they must not alight, unless it be within their own domains, for whatever a royal foot touches becomes sacred ground. They are said to sit gracefully, and when travelling go usually upon the trot; frequently at these times they amuse themselves with finger-hunting the heads of the bearers, and it is the peculiar privilege of the Queen that she [43] alone of all women may eat what she catches there. Wretched as this mode of conveyance is, the least commodious and the meanest that ever pride has invented, it is called flying! The court of Constantinople itself did not exceed that of Taheite in its language of adulation. The house of the King is called Clouds of Heaven, his double canoe the Rainbow, his torch Lightning, and the drum which is beat for his amusement Thunder. The King's dignity does not permit him to feed himself; 'we were surprized,' say the missionaries, 'to see so stout a man, perhaps the largest in the whole island, fed like a cuckoo.' All persons must uncover the breast and shoulders before him and his family, and even when they pass his palace: two pillars called Tees, like the household gods, are erected on each side at about fourscore yards from the house, and whoever passed the space between them without observing this Custom, would certainly be punished with death. One of the missionaries having a child born a few weeks before he set out on the mission, christened him Otoo, in compliment to the King whom he was going to convert; on his arrival he found that word had been made so sacred by royal appropriation that every word into which it entered in composition was prohibited, and if little Otoo had not luckily been provided with another Christian name, he must have gone without one as long as he remained in Taheite.

  26. The system of society is feudal. The Chiefs of every district are subject to the Sovereign, and liable to be called upon for service. They on their part have under them the Towhas, who are their younger brothers, or near kindred, or tayos, that is to say, chosen friends, and the Ratirras, or gentlemen, who have one portion to the Towha's three. Each of these ranks has the power of laying a prohibition on any thing which his own land produces, a privilege sometimes abused, but generally exercised for the sake of providing abundance for a feast, or preventing future scarcity after a great consumption. These are the privileged orders: below these are the manahoune, who cultivate the land, and do any service which their lords require. They are not however serfs, for they may change lords, and remove to another district when they please. Some of these are considered raa, or hallowed, others as unclean: it is to be regretted that the missionaries have given no farther explanation upon this remains of the system of casts. It is curious that the districts are subdivided into parishes, which are called matteynas. The matteyna is what may be called the manor-house, being 'distinguished [44] either by a degree of rank in its ancient or present owner, or by a portion of land attached to it, or sometimes on account of its central situation to a few other houses.' The matteyna sets up a Tee or image at the morai thereby setting it apart as its parish place of worship, and the other houses in the department claim the same liberty of worshipping there. These houses are called Tees, household gods, standing for houses, probably as Lares among the Latins, and hearths in our own language. There are ten of these to a matteyna.

  27. When Taheite was re-discovered in our fathers' days, it became the admiration and envy of Europe. The philosophists who placed happiness in the indulgence of sensual appetite, and freedom in the absence of legal and moral restraints, were loud in their praises of this 'New Cythera;' and even men of healthier intellect and sounder principles regarded these islanders as singularly favoured by Providence, because their food was produced spontaneously, and they had no other business in life than to enjoy existence. But now that they are better known it appears indisputably that their iniquities exceed those of any other people, ancient or modern, civilized or savage; and that human nature never has been exhibited in such utter depravity as by the inhabitants of these terrestrial Paradises! Here has been found the atrocious society of the Arreoys, and here the Mawhoos, whose mode of life proves that the most shocking and least believable charges made by the Spanish discoverers against the Indians whom they extirpated, are no longer lightly to be rejected as too monstrous for belief. Crimes not to be named are habitually committed without shame; and as if to show to what loathsomeness of pollution a depraved imagination will have recourse when palled with all ordinary abominations, a society was formed both in Taheite and Eimeo, who in their meetings were to eat human ordure, as the seal and sacrament of their association! This fraternity however was suppressed. That which was supposed to be their blessing has been their curse; it is in their exemption from labour that the efficient cause of this unparalleled wickedness is to be found. When the Creator decreed that in the sweat of his brow must man eat bread, it may have been the punishment of more perfect beings, but to fallen man the punishment became a blessing; a divine ordinance necessary for the health of soul as well as body while man continues to be the imperfect being that we behold him.

  28. The intercourse which the Taheiteans had had with the English before the arrival of the Duff had produced great effects. Perceiving [45] the great superiority of European tools, they trusted to the chance supplies which might arrive, and laid aside the use of their own. 'I enquired,' says a missionary, 'for a stone hatchet, which will soon be a curiosity to themselves, but they had none. I asked them how long it took them to build a canoe with iron tools; they answered about one moon. I then asked them how long they formerly were in doing it with their stone hatchets; at this they laughed heartily, and counted ten moons.' So sensible are they of the value of iron that the ring of an anchor which Bougainville had lost was hoarded for ten years by Pomarre, and when a ship arrived at last, he took it to be made into adzes. When the missionaries erected their forge, this old King caught the blacksmith in his arms, all grim and dirty as he was, and joined noses with him to express his joy. 'So important,' says Capt. Vancouver, 'are the various European implements and other commodities now become to the happiness and comfort of these islanders, that I cannot avoid reflecting with Captain Cook on the very deplorable condition to which these good people on a certainty must be reduced should their communication with Europeans be ever at an end. The knowledge they have now acquired of the superiority, and the supply with which they have been furnished of the more useful implements, have rendered these and other European commodities not only essentially necessary to their common comforts, but have made them regardless of their former tools and manufactures, which are now growing fast out of use, and I may add equally fast out of remembrance. Of this we had convincing proof in the few of their bone or stone tools or utensils that were seen amongst them; those offered for sale were of rude workmanship and of an inferior kind, solely intended for our market, to be purchased by way of curiosity. I am likewise well convinced that by a very small addition to their present stock of European cloth, the culture of their cloth plant, which now seems much neglected, will be entirely disregarded, and they will rely upon the precarious supply which may be obtained from accidental visitors, for this and many other of the most important requisites of social life.'

  29. 'I paid our host,' says Mr. Wilson, 'with a draft on the Captain for a pair of scissars, and as they have no doubt of the specified value of the paper, and have learnt how to negociate the notes, he seemed quite rich. What a commencement of civilization!' These were indeed commencements of civilization, but the good to which they might so easily have led was impeded by grievous obstacles. Diseases of every kind were [46] raging among them. The most destructive is that dreadful malady which seems destined, as an appropriate punishment and consequence of their vices, to exterminate this most sinful and most wretched people. When the missionaries arrived it was supposed that a fourth part of the whole population was infected. It appears as if this disease acquired new virulence when communicated to a new race. 'Many most miserable objects,' say the brethren, 'presented themselves, with foul and horrid ulcers, carious bones, loss of limbs, and in the last stage of consumption. Many are separated from their families in a shed or out-house, nor suffered to touch provisions of any kind but what are brought them; their dearest friends and relatives shun them, they are not permitted to bathe near any person in the river, and though they are not left to starve, they are abandoned to rot alive.' Another loathsome malady, but of their own home-growth, is that which the immoderate use of yava produces; the eyes become blood-shot and sore, the skin is covered with a thick scurf, and the soles of the feet crack; yet they regard this as an honourable distinction, calling it the yava-skin rather than a disease! It also renders them liable to violent fits. Having really suffered much from their intercourse with Europeans, they impute to them all their sufferings, and believe that all their mortal diseases have been brought by the ships. Cook they say brought the intermitting fever and the crooked* backs; Vancouver the dysentery; Bligh the scrophula; the Spaniards* in their feeble mission, a large swelling in the throat, which generally proves fatal. They even fancy that a ship in passing by the island has sent them a disease.

  30. Among these people eighteen Methodist missionaries were left, of whom five were married men. 'Lord,' said one of them in his journal, 'thou hast set me in a heathen land, but a land, if I may so speak, flowing with milk and honey. O put more grace and gratitude into my poor cold heart, and grant that I may never with Jeshurun grow fat and* kick!' But [47] the very day after the Duff departed they were seized with a panic. Edea, the King's mother, had been overheard talking of their property, and the fitness of taking it away. This alarm subsided; it is indeed probable, as the Queen said, that her conversation had been misunderstood. Three months passed away, and the hurry of their first occupations being over, they then began to deliberate concerning their future proceedings; for they had sailed from England, landed upon the island, and been left there without having determined upon any thing, except one and twenty articles of faith. The first question propounded was, 'Will it be proper for us, as missionaries to the heathen, to attempt the abolition of the horrid custom of murdering infants? and if so, what means should be adopted for the accomplishment of such an end?' Little discussion could be necessary on such a question, and exhortation was the only means in their power; they agreed, however, as an inducement to the Arreoys to spare their children, to take them under their care, and instruct them in European arts. The next question was, 'How was the society to act should an attack be made upon them by the natives?' One asked in reply if it was not their duty to give up themselves and all that they possessed to the enemy? Another answered 'were it not for his feelings for the women and children he should not hesitate a single moment!' But being eighteen in number, and well provided with muskets, they resolved upon resistance in case of attack. A more difficult question remained, 'If any brother should find himself disposed to marry one of the native women, would it be thought by the society an improper act?' This, it may be remembered, had been permitted at Tongataboo. Here, however, reference was had to the word of God, by which it was proved to be an unlawful action, for any brother to marry a native woman in her present state, an idolatress. It was replied, it ought to be considered, that if a native was not taken in her present condition, there was no alternative, but to remain single, and exposed to all the dreadful temptations with which they were surrounded. To this it was answered, 'God changeth not his mode of government for the accommodation of his creatures, and whatever he calls us to, we ought to look to him for strength to endure.'

  31. Things went on smoothly for about four months after these points were settled. Then four of the missionaries were knocked down and robbed of their clothes. This alarmed them so greatly that eleven of them abandoned the mission and fled to Botany Bay in a trading vessel which happened to be in the harbour. The brethren who remained wrote to the directors [48] with wiser views than they had before entertained. 'Experience,' said they, 'has taught us, the more we are encumbered about worldly things, the less concern we have for the conversion of the heathen. Taheite affords food and raiment suitable to its climate, and sufficient to answer the great end of Providence in granting us these blessings, viz. to cover our nakedness, and to sustain for a while our earthly perishing tabernacles; and having those things, we hope the Lord will teach us to be content. We think it needful to inform the Directors of the Society, that it appears to us at present a reinforcing this island with a body of missionaries, consisting of men, women, and children, and furnished after the manner of ourselves when we quitted our native country in the ship Duff, would nothing forward the work of God on Taheite, or the adjacent islands: but if four or six Christian men, void of worldly encumbrances, will be willing to hazard their lives for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ in the salvation of the heathen, and led by the Eternal Spirit, forsake all and follow us, we shall glory, if spared, to give them the right hand of Christian brotherly fellowship.'

  32. The forge, for their blacksmith had left them, was taken possession of by a native who had learnt to work at it, and one of his first jobs was to make an iron lance-head armed with barbs. The fears of the brethren for their personal safety abated; it became manifest that the natives got more by letting them remain in peace than by plundering them; they submitted to see some of their property pilfered, and came to the only resolution consistent with their circumstances and their calling, 'through the grace of God not to intermeddle with arms either for offence or defence.' Not many months after the departure of their comrades Lewis addressed a letter to his brethren, informing them that after a long and great conflict of mind, it was his fixed determination to take one of the natives to wife, and abide faithfully towards her until death. Evil reports which they had heard, and something which they had seen, had prepared them for this falling off, and Mr. Lewis was consequently disowned by the Church of Christ residing on Point Venus. This unfortunate man was one of the best educated and most useful members of the mission. He understood Hebrew, had learnt the art of printing, and had attended the hospitals. Even in Taheite there are women of good feelings, for human nature can never any where nor under any circumstances be so utterly perverted but that some individuals are to be found in whom a shadow of the likeness of their Creator is still discernible. That [49] sad history of the Bounty mutineers affords one melancholy instance. A midshipman, by name Stewart, having made himself guilty in the sudden burst of mutiny, took up his abode on the island and lived with the daughter of a Chief, who had borne him a beautiful girl when the Pandora arrived, and he was seized and laid in irons. She followed him with her infant to the ship; the officers who witnessed the scene which ensued could scarcely bear to behold it, and Stewart besought them not to let her see him again. So she was separated from him by force and sent ashore. In* the course of two months she pined away, and died,—literally of a broken heart. He, happily for himself, perished in the wreck of the Pandora; the orphan has been bred up by the missionaries. It was not, however, Lewis's fortune to meet with a wife like this! He continued to live with her about sixteen months, attending the church service of the missionaries, though cut off from communion with them, and performing the private devotions with piety which could not have been feigned. At the end of that time he was murdered: the woman with whom he cohabited grew tired of him, she had formed a connection with another man, his presence was an interruption to them, and his property a temptation.

  33. This loss was made up to the society by the return of Henry [50] and his family from Botany Bay. Shortly after brother Broomhall fell into a very dreadful 'snare of Satan'. What share Satan may have had in the business we shall not pretend to decide, but certainly it may be considered as one of the strange freaks of the human mind that a man who had voluntarily embarked on such an errand, and continued so long in such a calling, should of a sudden fall in metaphysics, and by a few miserable sophisms syllogize himself out of all hopes of an hereafter! 'What if the soul should be mortal,' was the doubt 'which started into his head. He turned to Turretine's De Immortalitate Animæ, and referred to the question An anima ex intrinseca sua constitutione sit immortalis? But Turretine and Mr. Broomhall differed in their conclusions, for thus the latter argued: the soul exists, consequently it has the property of extension, for what is not extended is no where, and what is no where has no existence. Now extension is the very essence of matter, the soul therefore is material; all matter leads to dissolution, it follows therefore that the soul is mortal. This was the precious logic by which Mr. Broomhall convinced himself that because the soul exists now, it must cease to exist hereafter.

  34. Meantime the directors of the society in England, encouraged by the easy manner in which the Duff had disposed of her first cargo, sent her off with a second. Twenty-nine adventurers embarked, of whom more than a third part were married men. Nine chose Tongataboo for their station, six preferred Taheite, five were for the Marquesas, five for the Navigator's Islands, two for the Fejees, and two did not chuse to determine till they came to the scene of action. The Duff, however, was captured by a French privateer off Cape Frio, and carried into MonteVideo. Not deterred by this disaster, the directors dispatched another ship, which had better fortune; but before her departure news from Tongataboo arrived, and from the brethren who had fled from Taheite, and the spirit of adventuring was checked. Six only of the twenty-nine brethren (who had all returned after their capture) had perseverance enough to re-embark, and one of these deserted at Botany Bay. Six new adventurers were found, one of whom died upon the passage, and Shelley, who had escaped from Tongataboo, was still zealous enough, not withstanding the perils and sufferings which he had undergone, to devote himself once more to the savages of Polynesia. They quarrelled with one of their party upon the voyage, and he was in consequence rejected at Taheite, and sent back in the ship; but he stopt at the Cape of Good Hope on his return, [51] and it is worthy of remark that he has there proved one of the most able, active, and useful of the missionaries. The last advices which were received announce the death of Jefferson, who had been chairman of the society since its first establishment on the island, a man for his steadiness and true piety (however fantastic it may sometimes have been in its outward and visible forms) greatly to be respected and regretted.

  35. They had only been a few days on the island when old Manne-Manne observed that the Missionaries gave them plenty of the word of God, but not of many other things. How is it, said the natives, that Cook, Clarke, Vancouver, Bligh, and others, that have been here, never told us any thing of what you tell us concerning Jesus Christ? The Missionaries answered they knew less of the language of the country than we do, and though they knew the name of Jesus Christ, yet they knew not his customs, and did not hold them. It was the sensible remark of a boy 'that the English sent the Duff last, and if they had sent the Gospel by the first ship our feather-gods would have been thrown away long ago.' It cannot indeed be doubted that the total silence of former visitors upon the subject of Christianity, the complacency with which they assisted at idolatrous ceremonies, and the habits of licentious intercourse to which they abandoned themselves, must greatly have prejudiced the natives against any lessons of religion or morality from the English. A remembrance too of the grievous evils which we have really brought upon them, and of those which they unjustly impute to us, operate as another obstacle. Bodily afflictions, say the Missionaries, instead of inclining them to come and hear when invited, irritate them against the Gospel, and they frequently address us in some such words as these, 'you tell us of salvation, and behold we are dying!' If they are told it is the salvation of their souls which they are called upon to accept, not that of their bodies from sickness and death in this world, they still misconceive, or they sometimes say 'we want no other salvation than to live in this world.' They call upon the Missionaries to look upon the poor wretches who are rotting alive, and ask if their preaching can heal them! When the brethren tell them to hear the word of God and be saved, they laugh and ridicule the preacher, telling him they have heard and are not saved, but continue dying. The havock is indeed horrible. 'Stout men,' says the Journalist, 'are cut down in a few months; women and children share the like fate. We have told them repeatedly it is owing to the wickedness of their women in prostituting themselves [52] to the sailors that come here. They understand what we say and assent to the truth of it, but their hearts are so set upon covetousness that the appearance of a vessel effaces all remembrance of the evils they have suffered and are suffering, and they burn with desire to obtain something, if it is but a rag; this induces husbands to prostitute their wives, and parents their children.' The promiscuous intercourse to which they are accustomed more like beasts than human beings, makes the evil almost universal, and the consequent mortality is dreadful beyond all former example. Cook unquestionably over-rated the population of the island when he supposed it to be 200,000. In 1797 Mr. Wilson computed it upon apparently good grounds at only 16,000, and in six years they were reduced to less than half that number. No disease which is not pestilential can account for so rapid a diminution of the human species; but while the present generation is wasting away, their detestable practices are cutting off the future. No where has child-murder been so generally practised. If any of the nobles of either sex connect themselves with persons below their rank, the children of that connection are invariably destroyed. Among the lower classes it is not uncommon for a woman to destroy her three first infants. Females are far more frequently destroyed than boys, hence women are so scarce, that they who are not in some degree wealthy cannot purchase wives, and being courted in proportion to their scarcity, they are here as inconstant as the worst libellers of the sex have ever delighted to represent them; they often change husbands, and either procure abortion, or murder the new-born babe, that they may be without incumbrances! These practices, the Arreoys, the Mawhoos, and their other unutterable abominations, are rapidly rooting out the race. The inhabitants of this groupe cannot long have been in this state of utter depravity, or they must have inevitably been exterminated.

  36. On the first arrival the missionaries noticed the inattention of the natives to whatever exceeded the ordinary scope of their ideas. They listened with little interest to stories concerning Europe, but whoever began to tell of the Marquesas or of Tongataboo had presently an eager audience about him. How then was it to be expected that men caring so little for what was in the slightest degree above their comprehension, should at once attend to the mysteries of Christianity? Some have told us, say the Journalists, they never knew before that the Son of God is the atonement for sin; they always thought it was hogs. And sometimes when the preacher asks who is the true atonement— [53] they reply hogs and pearls. When they are told that the God of the English is the God of the whole world, and that he gives them their hogs, their cocoas, and their bread-fruit, they flatly deny it, saying they had all these things long before they ever heard of him. Otoo sent one day for Mr. Turnbull (who has published a very valuable account of his adventures in this part of the world) to ask him whether all the missionaries preached was true. 'I replied,' says he, 'in the affirmative, that it was strictly so, according to my own belief, and that of all the wiser and better part of my countrymen. He demanded of me where Jehovah lived; I pointed to the Heavens,—he said he did not believe it. His brother was, if possible, still worse. Edea was looking on with a kind of haughty and disdainful indifference. It was all havery or falsehood, they said—they would not believe unless they could see. We could bring down the sun and moon by means of our quadrant,—why could we not bring down our Saviour by similar means?' The brethren complain that they find it impossible to make them sensible of their souls value, or indeed what their souls are. 'When,' say they, 'we endeavour to speak to them about the hidden man of the heart, its nature, qualities, defilements, exposure to God's wrath, and way how to escape the same, they seldom fail to laugh, and treat it as an idle tale.' Had they talked about the hidden man of the bowels they might have been understood; for the Taheiteans believe the bowels to be the immediate seat of life and sensation, and all figurative language therefore which refers to the head as the seat of thought, or the heart as the seat of the affections, is to them unintelligible.

  37. If Christianity be true, it is not possible that any state of society, nor any established superstition, can render a people utterly incapable of receiving it. There are but two peaceable methods of conversion, by influencing the feelings and imagination, or by persuading the understanding. Unfortunately it happens that of all forms of Christianity that of the Methodists is the least attractive and the most irrational. It must also be acknowledged that Protestantism wants many of the most effectual implements of conversion;—precisely in proportion as it is purer than Popery is it less adapted to impress the gross and uncultivated mind of a heathen. But beyond all doubt the manner in which images are regarded in Catholic countries is perfect idolatry, and of a grosser kind than that of the classical Pagans. We may envy the Catholics their crucifix and their Madonna, but we dare not, even for [54] good purposes, introduce an error which it would be so difficult to remove.

  38. Great good, however, may yet be done if the views of the directors in England become as rational as those of the missionaries are grown. 'Our missionary labours,' thus they write, 'are contracted and languid; difficulties without and discouragements within weaken our hands.—We formerly wrote for a body of missionaries with a director; we now are of opinion that it would be better if the far greater part of them were mechanics, and such mechanics as would be able to turn the natural productions of the island to profit, or cultivate such other things as may be rendered profitable.—The inhabitants are so excessively attached to their idolatrous and barbarous customs, that to us it appears as if it would be both a long and a slow work to evangelize them.—We apprehend that we, as well as many in England, have been heretofore very much mistaken in our ideas of planting the Gospel in the Society Islands. Disappointments and difficulties now often met with, and formerly not much thought of, have cooled our once too sanguine spirit, and taught us to be more humble in our expectations.' In a former letter they say, 'we are afraid of colonizing, lest it should prove in time, destructive to the liberty, or lives and property of the natives. Some of the islanders themselves have expressed a suspicion, that if a large body of foreigners should come and settle among them, they would be turned out of their possessions, and driven to the mountains.' It is, however, only by colonization that these countries can be civilized, and that it is our interest and the interest of the whole commercial world that they should be civilized will presently appear. One important step has already been taken. Shelley, who has left the mission, has built a schooner at Taheite, and opened a direct trade with Botany Bay. If the Missionary Society would send out a body of men capable of instructing the Taheiteans in the useful arts of life, and some of them well versed in medicine, they would be well received; for abundant proofs have occurred that these islanders, however deaf to the voice of the preacher, are not only susceptible, but even desirous of improvement. Old Pomarre, when the Duff arrived, particularly regretted their want of ships, and of knowledge how to conduct them to foreign countries. They were able, he said, to go no further than Ulietea or Huaheine, and that at the risk of being driven they knew not whither, to perish;— whereas we could sail for many moons, and in the darkest nights and strongest gales, and after all could come exactly [55] to Taheite. Captain Wilson wisely replied to this, that we also were once in the same state and knew nothing; but that good men brought the speaking paper into our country, and taught us to understand it, by means of which we learnt to know the true God, to build and conduct ships, and to make axes, knives, scissars, and the various things which he saw we possessed. According to their account we have imported the breed of fleas among them, which are become a grievous nuisance, and will continue to be so till the natives live in floored houses, and have learned domestic as well as personal cleanliness. The present effect of this nuisance is a great demand for bedsteads,—the carpenter and joiner would find willing pupils among them. They are now beginning to affect European fashions. 'Our neighbours,' says the Journalist, 'would give almost any price for an old black coat, or blue coat and shirt: and no man thinks he can go before the king with any appearance of consequence on a public occasion, except he has a musket, coat and shirt, or at least a coat to accompany his musket.' But there are better symptoms than these. The missionaries on their arrival judged very unfavourably of young Otoo, the present Pomarre. This king, however, after awhile discovered his desire of improvement in a singular manner; he was exceedingly solicitous that Brother Lewis should teach him Hebrew. The whimsical fancy soon past away. His next desire was that a still might be sent him. Some Sandwich islanders it was supposed had told him its use, and instigated him to ask for one. One of these islanders who had been in England talked to the king with more effect than the missionaries had done. His mind was manifestly much enlarged by what he heard from this man, and he began to spare time enough from his sports to learn to make the letters of the English alphabet, to know their names, and to put them together so as to form words, and short sentences. Still, says the Journalist, he is extremely wild and unsteady, and appears deeply attached to his country's idolatry and superstition. Pomarre, however, had in him deeper thoughts and more ardent desires of improvement than the missionaries suspected. Finding the inconvenience of the privilege which appropriated to himself every place wherein he entered, he abrogated it in favour of the mission house, and there he now spends most part of his time, generally amusing himself with writing. Many of the higher orders are acquiring the same art after their king's example. His own language he writes with perfect facility, and has written in it a letter to the directors, which the brethren translated; he then copied [56] the translation, and a fac-simile of the translated letter has been published in the nineteenth number of these Transactions. It is written in a good legible hand, very few English gentlemen write so well. The letter itself is so interesting that we shall insert it.

                                                                                  'Matavae, Otahete, January 1st, 1807.

    'Friends,

                    'I wish you every blessing, friends, in your residence in your country, with success in teaching this bad land, this foolish land, this wicked land, this land which is ignorant of good, this land that knoweth not the true God, this regardless land.

    'Friends, I wish you health and prosperity, may I also live, and may Jehovah save us all.

    'Friends, with respect to your letter you wrote to me, I have this to say to you, that your business with me, and your wishes I fully consent to, and shall consequently banish Oro, and send him to Raeatea.

    'Friends I do therefore believe and shall obey your word—Friends I hope you also will consent to my request, which is this, I wish you to send a great number of men, women and children here—

    'Friends send also property, and cloth for us, and we also will adopt English customs—

    'Friends send also plenty of muskets and powder for wars are frequent in our country—should I be killed, you will have nothing in Tahete: do not come here when I am dead, Tahete is a regardless country, and should I die with sickness, do not come here. This also I wish, that you would send me all the curious things that you have in England.—Also send me every thing necessary for writing, paper, ink, and pens in abundance, let no writing utensil be wanting—

    'Friends I have done and have nothing at all more to ask you for, as for your desire to instruct Tahete, 'tis what I fully acquiesce in. 'Tis a common thing for people not to understand at first, but your object is good, and I fully consent to it, and shall cast off all evil customs.

    'What I say is truth, and no lie, it is the real truth.

    'This is all I have to write, I have done.

    'Friends write to me, that I may know what you have to say.

                             'I wish you life and every blessing,
                                    may I also live and may Jehovah save us all.
                                             'Pomare King of Tahete, &c. &c.

    'For
           my friends
                            The Missionary Society, London.' [57]

  39. Pomarre has also promised the missionaries to abolish infanticide and human sacrifices. In these promises he may or may not be sincere. The people sometimes scoffingly ask if he or any of his family have cast away Oro, saying, when they hear the word of Jehovah, then will we. But of his desire of improving himself and his people, this letter is an unequivocal and extraordinary proof, and if the society second his wishes in the way which he suggests, by sending out a colony strong enough to protect themselves, and not so numerous as to excite jealousy, there can be little doubt that the remnant of these islanders may soon become a civilized people. Pomarre is now acknowledged as king in most of the neighbouring islands. Had he with him a body of colonists the stability of his government would be secured, and it would be in his power to settle the succession so as that the evils which he apprehends after his death might be effectually prevented. Customs so hostile to human happiness as those of Taheite are easily rooted out whenever the governors are disposed to abolish them. Not long after the conquest of Mexico, a Spaniard observed one of the Mexicans to be remarkably punctual in his attendance at mass, and he asked him how it was that he could so thoroughly have forsaken the faith in which he was bred up. He replied, the religion of our fathers was so bloody and so cruel, and burthened us so grievously, that in order to rid ourselves of such a yoke we should gladly have received not merely your law, which is so good and holy a one, but any other whatsoever. No nations in the new world, says Herrera, have received the Gospel better than those who laboured under the greatest burthen of diabolical ceremonies, for the insufferable yoke of the laws of the devil had wearied them, and that of Christ therefore appeared to them just and easy; and the difficulty of believing the high mysteries of our faith was facilitated—because the devil had taught them to believe things still more incredible. This is not the less true because it is expressed in mythological language, and it will prove as true in Asia as it has done in America. When the English system of marriage was explained by Capt. Wilson to a party of Taheiteans, Manne-Manne the old priest did not like it, and said that such was not their custom; but all the women who were present approved it highly, and said it was very good. When the missionaries have sometimes endeavoured to prevent the murder of an infant, the mother would have spared it had she been permitted. Against the custom of human sacrifice all men, except the priests, and the chiefs, whom they may happen to influence, will readily revolt, because none can tell whether the lot may [58] not fall upon himself. In confirmation of this Mr. Turnbull affirms that the practice is as much abhorred by the common people, as it is upheld by the chiefs. A native once confessed to the missionaries that the gods of Taheite were bad, because they ate men and hogs and bread-fruit, which the god of Pretane did not; he, he said, was 'a good fellow.' This piece of English he had picked up,—and strangely as he expressed himself, what he said explains the principle upon which the Polynesians are to be converted.

  40. To us, who have a rising colony in New Holland, it is becoming an object of more importance than may perhaps immediately be perceived, that the benevolent attempts of the Missionary Society should be successful. Our settlement at Botany Bay is producing great and unforeseen effects throughout the whole of Polynesia. Those seas are now frequented by our own whalers and adventure-ships, and still more by Americans. These vessels usually take in convicts at Port Jackson, who have either served out their allotted time, or obtained leave to go on board, or escaped there; and these men (as has been seen in the history of the Tongataboo mission) get on shore at some or other of the islands, where they communicate to the natives new means of mischief. From their superior knowledge they immediately obtain power, and are taken into favour with the chiefs, or become chiefs themselves Meantime the Americans (too many of whose merchants like the Dutch of old, will do any thing for profit) supply them with muskets and with gunpowder—the only articles for which provisions are now to be obtained. So daring are they become in the use of these weapons, and so desperately bent upon obtaining more, that not a ship can touch upon these once hospitable shores without imminent danger of being cut off, and not a few have been surprised and their whole crews massacred. The ill treatment which the islanders have received from the traders, and the frauds practised upon them, especially by the atrocious trick of selling them bad guns, provoke them to take indiscriminate vengeance, and the convicts usually plan their schemes, and take the lead in executing them: in every island which the American and other ships have touched at, this tremendous change is going on; the number of desperadoes is continually increasing among them; the natives themselves enter on board the ships and learn the art of navigation, and in less than half a century these seas will be infested by pirates, not less cruel and far more formidable than the Malays [59] of India, or the Algerines. What a revolution! The criminals whom we have cast out from our own country, are becoming apostles of mischief throughout all Polynesia.

  41. Hence then the importance of securing a station here, and erecting the Society Islands as soon as possible into a civilized nation, able to suppress their neighbours. There are better prospects from the Sandwich islanders. These people, who were, when we discovered them, far more ingenious than those of the other groupes, are making a rapid progress. No greater man has ever appeared among an uncultivated race than their king Tamahama; even our own Alfred was not more superior to all those by whom he was surrounded. He amused Capt. Vancouver by making a cession of Owhyhee to Great Britain, and letting him take formal possession, in return for which Vancouver laid down the keel and prepared the frame work of his first man of war. The length of its keel was thirty-six feet, the extreme breadth of the vessel nine and a quarter, her name was to be the Britannia. 'She was intended,' says he, 'as a protection to the royal person of Tamahama, and I believe few circumstances in his life ever afforded him more solid satisfaction.' His satisfaction was far more solid than Capt. Vancouver perceived. Ten years afterwards when Mr. Turnbull was at Owbyhee, he had upwards of twenty vessels of different sizes, from twenty-five to fifty tons, some of them copper-bottomed. Then he was in want of naval stores, but that want no longer exists. One of his vessels is now seventy tons; he has a fortification round his house mounted with ten guns, and a guard of about two hundred native soldiers, well disciplined in the use of fire arms, who do regular duty, night and day; he has above 2000 stand of arms, and more than twelve thousand dollars, with other valuable articles in proportion, which he has collected in regular trade, and deposited in store-houses. His people, seconding the projects of their king with equal zeal, frequently make voyages to the N. W. coast of America, in which they learn the art of navigation, and at the same time acquire property of which they fully understand the value. Sandwich islanders are now to be found in most of the south-sea traders: there also they learn English, which will probably ere long be so blended with their language as to form a new one. They confidently expect to open a direct trade with China in vessels of their own construction, and navigated by their own people; these islands produce pearls, pearl-oyster shell, and sandal wood, all articles of great value in the China market. [60]

  42. Tamahama's views are not confined to commerce; this is not to be expected, hardly perhaps, considering the present state of Polynesia, to be wished. He must be a conqueror also, and the farther he can extend his conquests the more beneficial it will be, if he can only secure his dominion upon such a basis as that it shall not be overthrown by his death. Two Englishmen who were cast by misfortune upon his shores, are his chief counsellors. They are by the account of all who have visited Owhyhee, men of good character. Here then is a place where missionaries might most usefully be employed, not in explaining creeds, preaching the mysterious points of faith, and teaching catechisms, but in opening schools under the immediate patronage of a king enlightened enough to perceive the advantages which his subjects would derive from such instruction. He perhaps is too thorough a statesman to be very susceptible of religion; for they whose hearts are set so intently upon worldly things have little room for hopes of Heaven and thoughts of a hereafter. But it may be possible to make him perceive that no religion is so useful for states as the Christian, which so well inculcates the duties of order and obedience. If, however, Tamahama believes too sincerely in his country's mythology, or fears the influence of the priests too much, for him to encourage the progress of a new faith, it cannot be doubted that he would willingly see his subjects intructed in the rudiments of civilization: they may be taught to write and read, and that done the Bible may be introduced among them. It will do its own work in time. Much might be said upon this part of so important and interesting a subject, but we shall have other opportunities in treating of the other Protestant missions, and this has led us beyond our usual limits.

Published @ RC

September 2006

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