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While this marvellous change was being wrought on the other isles, the brave young teachers who had swum ashore on Mangaia were steadily making their way. Within two years one died, leaving Davida to labour alone. He had, however, by this time made some progress; and on one glad day the king and chiefs determined to abandon the idol shrine, where, every evening, offerings of food were presented to the thirteen known gods, and to the great host of the unknown. So, to the great joy of Davida, the thirteen idols were carried to his house by their late worshippers, and there stripped of the sacred white cloth in which priests and gods were always clothed. They are now preserved in the museum of the London mission, and very much resemble the wooden idols of the ancient Britons to be seen in our antiquarian museums.1
1 Notably one dug out of the peat-moss at Ballachulish, now in the Antiquarian Museum in Edinburgh ; and those in the Museum at Hull; also those in the Berlin Museum. All these have the eyes formed of quartz pebbles, instead of the bits of pearly shell or of obsidian used in the manufacture of idols in the Pacific.
The stone gods also had their counterparts in our own isles. When Dr Turner visited the Union or Tokelau Isles in 1850, he found that the great god, Tui Tokelau, was supposed to be embodied in a rude stone, which was carefully wrapped up in fine mats, and never seen by any human eyes save those of the king, who is also the high priest. Even he might only look upon the sacred stone once a-year, when the old mats were removed and new ones supplied. Of course constant exposure in all weather, day and night, soon decayed the mats; but the worshippers continually offered new ones, especially in cases of sickness, and these were wrapped round the idol, so that, ere IDOLATRY OVERTHROWN.
Thus, in an incredibly short space of time, was the whole system of idolatry, with its bloody human sacrifices, overthrown in the Hervey Isles; and how marvellous was the change wrought in every respect, has been described by Lord Byron, Commander of H.M.S. Blonde, when he accidentally found himself in the group,—and, recognising
the day came round for its disrobing, it attained a prodigious size. The old mats were considered so sacred that none might touch them; so they were laid in a place apart, and there left to rot. The month of May was especially devoted to the worship of thiB god, and the people assembled from all the Tokelau isles to hold a great feast in its honour, and to pray for prosperity and health, and especially for an abundant supply of fish and cocoa-nuts.
Now turn from the Pacific to the North Atlantic, and read a statement by the Earl of Roden, in his ' Progress of the Reformation in Ireland.' He says:—
"In the south island—i.e., Inniskea, off the coast of Mayo—in the house of a man named Monigan, a stone idol, called in the Irish Xeevougi, has been, from time immemorial, religiously preserved and worshipped. This god resembles in appearance a thick roll of home-spun flannel, which arises from the custom of dedicating a dress of that material to it whenever its aid is sought; this is sewn on by an old woman, its priestess, whose peculiar care it is. Of the early history of this idol no authentic information can be procured, but its power is believed to be immense. They pray to it in time of sickness; it is invoked when a storm is desired to dash some hapless ship upon their coast; and again, the exercise of its power is solicited in calming the angry waves to admit of fishing or visiting the mainland."
It scarcely seems possible, does it, to realise that our own ancestors were as gross idolaters as any South Sea Islanders? Yet in the majority of these isles the present generation have never seen an idol of any sort; and should they ever visit our museums, they would gaze on the gods of their own fathers as wonderingly as we do on those of the early Britons.
it as one of those discovered by Captain Cook, approached land with extreme caution, but was welcomed by noble-looking men, dressed in cotton shirts and very fine mats, who produced written documents from the London Mission Society, qualifying them to act as teachers, and then took him ashore to a neat village with a good school and a crowded church.
From that time forward, the Hervey Islanders have not only been true to their own profession, but have proved zealous missionaries in carrying the Gospel to other isles. Their theological college has already sent forth about 150 trained men as teachers. About 50 of these are at the present moment scattered among various remote isles of the Pacific, some of which are still cannibal. Six of the most zealous and determined men have gone, accompanied by their brave missionary wives, to face the unknown perils that await them in New Guinea—where, doubtless, their work will bear good fruit, and prove the first step in opening up that vast island to the commerce of the civilised world.1
1 Alas! the fate of the majority has already been sealed. In the spring of 1881, the following brief paragraph announced that the lives of these brave pioneers had already been sacrificed :—
"Massacre Op Missionaries.—Despatches received in Liverpool announce the massacre in New Guinea of a number of missionaries belonging to the London Missionary Society. The news was conveyed to Melbourne in a telegram from the Rev. Mr Beswick, who himself narrowly escaped with his life. On the 7th of March the FIRST EFFORTS FOR SAMOA. 213
The very first missionary effort of the Hervey Islanders was directed by Mr Williams towards Samoa. Even before he left Kaiatea, he had resolved to visit the Navigator group, to endeavour, there also, to plant some seed of good, which might perchance take root. Now that the work had so prospered in the Hervey Isles, he ventured to broach the subject to his wife, who, naturally enough, at first objected to being left alone with her children for many months among a race of utter savages, while her husband went off on a very long and dangerous voyage of about 200 miles, to face perhaps still greater dangers when he reached his destination. After a while, however, this brave woman made up her mind that it was right he should go; and much to his astonishment, several months after the subject had been dismissed, she volunteered her consent.
missionaries were attacked by the natives at Kato, in the district of Port Moresby, Hulu, and four of them, with two of their wives, four children, and two servants, were killed. The natives also attempted to kill four native boys who were with the missionary party, but they saved themselves by swimming. Not the slightest provocation was given; but it is stated in the despatch that the perpetrators of other previous massacres on the coast have not been punished, and this is considered to be the main cause of the outbreak. The total number of persons killed was twelve, but the list would have been much greater had not the remainder of the party made their immediate escape. For fear the natives would make a further attack upon the missionaries in the outlying districts, they were all removed from their stations to Port Moresby."
Then came the primary difficulty of transit. "They possessed no vessel which could possibly make such a journey—only native canoes. Nothing daunted, Mr Williams determined to try his hand at shipbuilding, though it was a trade of which he knew little, and he had scarcely any tools. His first great difficulty lay in making a pair of smith's bellows. Though he possessed only four goats, three were sacrificed for the sake of their skins. The fourth, which was giving a little milk, was spared. Scarcely were the bellows finished, when the rats, sole indigenous animals, assembled in scores, and in one night devoured every particle of leather. Having none in reserve, invention was sorely taxed, till at last Mr Williams devised a machine which should throw out air as a pump throws water.
This was but one of the countless difficulties to be overcome. To obtain planks, trees were split with wedges, and then cut up with small hatchets. For lack of nails, the planks were riveted together with wooden pins. Sails were made of quilted mats and ropes of hybiscus-bark. Cocoa-nut husk supplied the place of oakum. A clumsy stone anchor was contrived, and also a wooden one. In short, determination triumphed over every difficulty; and in fifteen weeks, without any help save what the Rarotongans could give by obeying his directions,