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breeze sprang up and carried them away from that danger; and so in due time they reached Apia, where they found welcome and much-needed rest and comfort.
Soon after, Mr Turner was appointed to the charge of a district in Samoa, which gave him the care of sixteen villages; but ere long the pressing need of teachers led to the commencement of the training college, where, with the exception of occasional voyages to the New Hebrides and other groups, he and his successive colleagues have ever since found abundant work, in training native evangelists, translating valuable books, and, so far as lay in their power (not having received a regular medical training), in ministering to the temporal needs of the people, administering such medicines as they could procure, and even, under pressure of necessity, attending to surgical cases. Their chief care, however, was to vaccinate every man, woman, and child within reach, a precaution to which may be attributed the happy circumstance that there has never been a case of smallpox in Samoa, though it is visited by so many foreign ships. In many other groups, where some chance vessel has touched, the deadly infection has been left, and in some cases about a third of the population has died.
Dr Turner observed that the people of Tanna are in mortal dread of a form of witchcraft precisely similar to that so commonly practised in Fiji in its heathen days (and perhaps, sub rosa, even now; for we noticed the extreme care with which some of our followers occasionally collected and buried every scrap of food which they, or we, had touched).
The Fijians believed that if they could get a fragment of the hair or food of an enemy, or a small bit of any garment he had worn, the heathen priest could therewith work a spell which should cause death within four days. The priest kindled a fire and performed incantations over these relics, approaching the spot only on his hands and knees.
The wizard of Tana is a professional disease-maker. He prowls about, continually seeking for refuse of any sort which he can turn to account. An old banana-skin, a bit of a cocoa-nut, the parings of a yam, will answer his purpose. He wraps it in a leaf, that no
one may know exactly what he has found. He ties the parcel round his neck, and stalks about ostentatiously through the villages. In the evening he scrapes some bark off a certain tree, mixes it with the rubbish he has found, rolls it all together in a leaf, like a very long cigar, and lays it close to the fire, so that one end may gradually smoulder. As it burns, the true owner becomes ill; and as the pain increases, he calls to his friends, who immediately recognise the work of the disease-maker, and blow loud blasts on the trumpet-shell, which can be' heard at a distance of two or three miles. This is a pledge that if he will stop burning the rubbish, they will bring him offerings of their best mats, pigs, &c.
The wizard, hearing the blast, draws away the green cigar, and waits impatiently to see what gift his dupes will bring in the morning. They firmly believe that if the cigar is allowed to burn to the end, the victim must die. Should the pain return, the friends suppose the wizard is dissatisfied with his gifts, and they blow louder than before, making night hideous with their dismal noise, and load the disease-maker with presents, all of which he of course readily accepts. Should the man die, the friends merely suppose they failed to propitiate the wretch. These wizards were the worst foes of the mission party, and were for ever trying to work spells for their destruction, though happily without effect.
You can readily understand how a people deeply imbued with the faith in this possibility of working mischief, were always ready to attribute to the missionaries those epidemics of illness, formerly unknown, which so strangely seem to have broken out in almost every group soon after the arrival of white men— generally influenza, measles, smallpox, or dysentery, each of which has invariably proved a deadly pestilence when first attacking these races.
I have just told you how this belief resulted in the mission being driven from Tanna. About the same time, dysentery appeared in the neighbouring isle of Fotuna, and led to the massacre of the Samoan teachers who had been left there by Mr Williams. It also ravaged Eromanga, carrying off one-third of the population, MALICIOUS SAILING-GODS.
who believed that the scourge had been introduced by somo hatchets which they had received as barter from a sandal-wood ship, and accordingly they threw them all away. On several other islands the teachers were either murdered or compelled to flee for their lives, solely on this account.
What makes this more remarkable is, that these illnesses often followed the visit of a ship which itself had a perfectly clean bill of health; and in many cases the missionaries and other good authorities recorded that they had no reason to believe that any white man had been to blame for the introduction of new diseases.
Therefore the poor islanders naturally concluded that these scourges were introduced by malicious foreign gods; so when a Samoan family assembled for their evening meal, the head of the house, ere tasting his bowl of kava, poured a little on the ground as a drink-offering to the gods; and every voice was hushed while he prayed that the gods of Samoa would give increase and prosperity to the household and all pertaining to it; that the war-gods would give strength to the people; but to such foreign gods as might have arrived in Tongan canoes or great ships, he said— "Here is kava for you, O sailing gods; do not come ashore at this place, but be pleased to remain on the ocean, and go. to some other land!"
Sometimes the worshippers preferred to leave this matter in the care of their own protecting gods. In that case they kindled a blazing fire just before the evening meal, and offered its light to the king of gods, and all his fellow-deities, beseeching them to keep away from Samoa all sailing gods, lest they should come and cause disease and death.
Dr Turner takes high rank among the apostles of the Pacific. Few men living know better, from their own experience, how marvellous has been the change wrought in the last forty years, by which barbarous cannibals have been transformed into peaceful Christians.
For instance, when he first visited the Isle of Niuii, or Savage Island (which lies as the centre of a triangle formed by Tonga, Samoa, and the Ilervey Isles), its people were in much the same
condition as Captain Cook found them, when they rushed on his men "like savage boars," which was their invariable reception of all outsiders—not of white men only (though these were invariably repulsed), but also of men whose canoes chanced to drift from Tonga or Samoa, or even of their own countrymen who had left the island and returned. All such were invariably killed, chiefly from a dread lest they should introduce foreign diseases. So great was this fear, that even when they did venture to begin trading, they would not use anything obtained from ships till it had been hung in quarantine in the bush for weeks.
For sixty years after Captain Cook's visit, these 4000 very exclusive savages adhered to their determination that no stranger should ever live on their isle. At the end of that time they agreed to allow Samoan teachers to settle among them; and so successful has been the work of these men, that the island is now peopled with model Christians. No more wars, no fightings, no thefts, but a peaceful and happy community (sufficiently) "clothed and in their right mind;" living in good houses of the Samoan type, instead of filthy huts; assembling for school and worship in large suitable buildings, and with abundant leisure to cultivate the soil and prepare the arrowroot and other produce, with which to purchase not only calico, hatchets, knives, &c, but also copies of the Scriptures, hymns, and commentaries, translated into the Savage Island dialect by the Samoan teachers, and printed at Apia.
Like the Tongans, these very sensible savages have discovered a means of making criminals really useful to the community. For theft and all other offences, the chief sentences the offender to make so many fathoms of road of neatly laid blocks of coral, filled in with small stones, and covered with a level layer of earth. Thus a good road, shaded by a double row of cocoa-palms, now encircles the isle—a circuit of perhaps fifty miles.
Do you think that Captain Cook would now recognise his "wild boars " 1
In like manner, when Dr Turner first visited the Loyalty Isles, of which New Caledonia is the principal isle, he found hideous STRANGE GODS. 11a
cannibals, without a rag of clothing, but whitewashed from head to foot to improve their beauty. This was the height of fashion on Mard. On his return in 1859, he found that perhaps one side of an island had adopted Christianity, and that clean, decently clad congregations of men and women assembled on the shore to meet him, eager that he should hear them read the Scriptures from books printed in their own dialect,—a strange contrast to the other side of the same isle, still plunged in heathen degradation, engaged in ceaseless war, feasting on the bodies of the slain, and occasionally capturing a Christian teacher, whose zeal led him to adventure within their reach.
Much the same state of things prevailed on some of the New Hebrides, where the isle of Aneiteum was the most hopeful centre of operations, its population of upwards of 3000 persons having all professedly become Christians, and 300 being actually church members. Fifty-six different villages had built schools for their own use, and eleven had chapels. Sixty of the more advanced natives ranked as teachers, and several had gone to work on the hostile isles around. On these, also, two white missionaries had established themselves, though still enduring a hard struggle, and making very little way apparently.
More recent incidents have proved how slow and difficult has been their work.
On the voyage I speak of, the converts presented Dr Turner with upwards of a hundred of their discarded idols—storm-gods and rain-gods, gods of war and of sickness, gods of the land and of the sea, of the fruits of the earth and of all living things,—a strange motley collection of poor dishonoured images, each of which had been an object of awe through many a dark year, now all huddled together in the hold of the foreign ship.
Amongst the simpler idols of Samoa were a number of smooth water-wom stones, more or less egg-shaped—precisely similar to those still reverenced in Indian temples, and which were so long held in honour in the British Isles.i One of these was the Samoan
i For a few examples, to which many mare might be added, see From the Hebrides to the Himalayas,' vol. i. pp. 16, 74, 130-134.