Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

means in their power—promising certain articles in exchange for a given amount of sandal-wood, and on its receipt sailing away, to be no more heard of. Or perhaps they inveigled a chief on board, and there kept him as a hostage till his people brought large quantities of sandal-wood as his ransom; and having secured all they could get at that particular isle, they still refused to give up the chief—probably secured some of his followers, and carried them to another isle, where they forced them to work for months in cutting the coveted wood, and finally sold them to the natives, in exchange for yams and pigs—a man fetching from five to ten live pigs, according to his size. It is almost needless to say that the hostile natives merely purchased the strangers as food for the cannibal oven. Occasionally some of these unfortunates contrived to escape, and got on board whaling-ships, where they were kindly treated, and some were even taken back to their own isles. There were ships which fired unscrupulously on any village which failed to bring them sandal-wood. On one occasion three vessels engaged in this trade anchored off one of the New Hebrides. Their men plundered the yam-gardens and stole all the pigs, numbering several hundred. Of course the owners resisted, and were ruthlessly shot. Finally, many took refuge in a cave, when the white barbarians proceeded to pull down the houses and heap up the dry thatch and rafters at the mouth of the cave as fuel for a great bonfire. Of course all the inmates were suffocated. Such deeds as these, of course, led to reprisals; and Dr Turner says that, to his own knowledge, upwards of 320 men engaged in the sandal-wood traffic perished between the years 1839 and 1848. Such facts as these should be borne in mind, as affording the clue to many an unprovoked outrage by brown men on white. The tradition of past wrongs lingers long in savage races.

Within a year of John Williams's murder, the Rev. George Turner and Rev. H. Nisbet attempted to commence work in the same field, but found it impossible. Even while they were struggling to maintain their position on the isle of Tanna, a whaling-ship touched there for water, and her men immediately fell to quarrelling with the natives, whereupon the vessel weighed anchor and sailed along the coast, firing promiscuously into all the villages she passed. There would not have been much cause for wonder if the savages (who had seen Mr Turner directing these men where to find water) had at once turned on him and his companions and murdered them all. As it was, they continued to brave the perils of their position for some months ere they were compelled to fly.

[merged small][ocr errors]

When Mr Turner revisited Eromanga in 1859,

the Rev. Gordon, who was then settled there,

told them that a few months previously another sandal-wood trader had got into serious trouble, and three of his men had been killed by the natives; but he himself acknowledged that they had earned their fate. On that occasion the Eromangans had the discrimination to spare the righteous; but not long afterwards Mr Gordon and hi3 wife were cruelly murdered.

Eleven years passed, when a message reached the Rev. J. D. Gordon (brother of the above) praying him to come and heal some sick children at Eromanga. As a medical missionary he at once complied, only to hear on his arrival that the children were dead; and their father could find no solace for his blind, ungrateful grief, but to slay the medicineman who had arrived too late. One blow from his tomahawk added yet another to the grievous list of the martyrs of Eromanga.

At the mission station at Apia, on the isle of Upolu, on the very spot where John Williams first landed in Samoa, and where he stood to bid what proved to be his last farewell to the people—two graves lying side by side contain some bones brought to Samoa in 1840 by H.M.S. Favourite, in the belief that they were those of the martyrs. It is now, however, known that they were bones taken at random by the natives from a cave where they are wont to deposit their own dead, under the impression that the foreign ship wished to purchase human bones. The skull of John Williams is buried beneath a palm-tree on Eromanga, which is doubtless as quiet a resting-place as a foreign grave in turbulent Apia. Near it, was buried a small bit of red sealing-wax, about an inch and a half in length, which was found by the natives in his pocket, and supposed to be a foreign idol. This relic was afterwards disinterred and sent home to his children.

I think the attempt to recover the remains of the dead from their savage murderers is at best very unsatisfactory. We had a fair example of it in Fiji, where great efforts were made to recover the

bones of the Rev. Baker, who was there killed

and eaten. So successful was this endeavour that one mission station alone has received three skulls, all positively declared to be his!

While both the London Mission and the Wesleyans have done such excellent work in Samoa, it is to be regretted that a corner of rivalry should have contrived to creep in—a rootlet of bitterness —not very serious perhaps, but still a corner of contention. It appears that at the time when Mr Williams first landed in Samoa, in 1830, several native teachers from the Wesleyan Mission in

[merged small][ocr errors]

Tonga had already begun to work there, and the promise of white teachers had already been made to expectant congregations. When, therefore, in 1835, the Rev. Peter Turner, of the Wesleyan Mission, reached the isle of Manono, he was received with open arms by a zealous flock; and when, shortly afterwards, he travelled round the isles of Savaii and Upolu, he found more than 2000 persons who were members of the Tonga lotu, and 40 persons who were acting as teachers.

At that time the Tahiti lotui. e., the London Mission — was only represented by five or six Tahitian teachers, who were located at certain towns, and confined their labours to their immediate neighbourhood. On Mr Turner's arrival he commenced diligently seeking the people in all parts of the isles, with such marked result that within twenty months upwards of 13,000 persons had joined the Tonga lotu.

The Wesleyans specially note that Mr Turner was the first resident white missionary in Samoa, Some months after his arrival came a trading ship, which brought Mr Pratt, as representative of the London Mission; and in 1836, six missionaries of the London Society arrived and held a public meeting in the Tahitian chapel at Manono, when it was clearly proved that a considerable number of Samoans had adopted the Tonga lotu before the arrival of Mr

« PreviousContinue »