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rain-god, who was instructed in his duties by a priest, and in times of drought was carried to the stream and therein bathed. But should rain fall in excess, the poor god was popped into the lire, to make him personally aware that the land needed a drying.
On the same principle the rain-making priests in New Caledonia do or did dig up a dead body, and, having carried the bones to a cave, there fastened them together to form a complete skeleton, which they hung up, and poured water over it, supposing that the spirit of the dead would take the hint and cause the clouds to pour rain on the thirsty land. These priests were so far true to their pretensions that they remained in the cave fasting till rain did fall, and some actually died at their post. When fine weather was required, they kindled a fire beneath the skeleton and let it burn.
Similar as were these rain-making customs, there does not appear to have been any link between the Samoans and these Loyalty Islanders, the latter being about as debased a race of cannibals as could well be imagined,—men who, not content with eating the bodies of foes slain in battle, tied up their captives to trees, and prepared the ovens for their reception before their very eyes. The women followed their lords to battle, to be in readiness to seize the falling foe and carry his body to the rear and prepare it for the feast. They themselves were liable to be eaten if captured; and the youngest children of the tribe shared the horrid meal. On ordinary occasions the Loyalty Islanders had only one meal a-day. The luxury of kava was unknown to them, but they indulged in copious draughts of sea-water. They wore no apology for clothes. A chief might marry thirty wives, no matter how closely related to him by ties of blood. The Samoans, on the contrary, rigorously prohibited the marriage of any persons nearly related, declaring that such unions called down the wrath of the gods. The gods of the New Caledonians were the ancestral spirits, and their treasured relics were the finger and toe nails of their friends. In burying the dead the head was left above ground; and on the tenth day it was twisted off by the mourning relatives, who preserved the skull, extracting the teeth as separate treasures. The
teeth of old women, scattered over a yam plantation, were supposed to secure a good crop; and for the same reason the skulls of all the old village crones were stuck on poles near the gardens.
I wonder if all these distinctions between the manners and customs of the various groups, convey to your untravelled mind onethousandth part of the interest they possess to us, who have actually lived among so many different races. I fear it is impossible that they should. But you can well understand the thankfulness of such men as Dr Turner and his colleagues, in watching the gradual change from year to year, as the Gospel of mercy takes root in such unpromising soil; and they themselves find loving welcome from the very men who in past years thirsted for their blood, and shed that of so many fellow-workers.
Fain would we have lingered at peaceful Malua, and listened to stories of the South Seas from the lips of those who have themselves been actors in so many thrilling scenes, extending from the far west to this centre. But it was necessary to return to Apia this morning, so we regretfully bade farewell to these kind new friends, who loaded us with gifts of strange things, brought from many isles, and sped us on our way.
Here we found all quiet. The Seignelay has had a long day of entertaining. First the Sisters went on board, with their sixty children, who were duly impressed with the wonders of the great ship; afterwards all the young men from the Catholic College had their turn.
M. de Gironde has just been here, to tell me the vessel sails for Tahiti on Monday. He brings the kindest letters and messages from the captain and all the party, expressive of their true wish that I should proceed with them on the "Tour de la Mission." Indeed the state of affairs here is not such as to invite a prolonged stay. And there might be a detention of months among theso discordant elements, ere I found an opportunity to return to Fiji.
CHAP TER IX.
A SKETCH OF THE SAMOAN MISSION—THE REV. JOHN W1LLIAM8 DETERMINES TO VISIT THE NAVIGATOR'S ISLES — PRELIMINARY WORK IN THE HERYEY GROUP—DISCOVERY OF RAROTONGA—CONVERSION OF ITS PEOPLE— THEY HELP WILLIAMS TO BUILD A SHIP WHICH SHALL CONVEY HIM TO SAMOA—VISIT TONGA—PROCEED TO SAMOA—OVERTHROW OF IDOLATRY — REVERENCE FOR OLD MATS—WILLIAMS'S GRAVE AT APIA.
When I first landed in Fiji in 1875, nothing amazed me so much as the wonderful work which has there been done by the Wesleyan Mission—a work of which the outside world literally knew nothing. Now that my wanderings have led me further east, I see that different regiments of the great Christian army have each been doing their part in forwarding their Master's cause; and so strangely interesting are many details of their work, which I have now heard for the first time, that I think I cannot do better than note them down, feeling quite convinced that you will find them as new and as full of interest as I myself have done.
The extraordinary success of the South Sea missions is certainly to be attributed in a great measure to that triumph of commonsense which made the various societies agree, almost at the outset, in a great measure to divide the field of labour, and so endeavour to avoid distracting the minds of the simple islanders, by allowing them to perceive that their teachers could possibly disagree among themselves.
In the North Pacific some good working power has doubtless been lost by the establishment in the Sandwich Isles of both an English Episcopal Mission and American Congregationalists. The Dowager Queen Emma is a stanch adherent of the English Church, as was also her husband, who himself translated the prayer-book into the Hawaiian language. But the majority of the people there (as throughout Polynesia) find the less ceremonious forms of religious observance better adapted to their needs.
So the American Board of Foreign Missions, which commenced its work in 1820, met with such success, that within half a A WONDERFUL CHANGE.
century the whole group had heen evangelised, and a self-supporting native Church, with native pastors, established. It is now extending its operations among the islands in the north-western part of the Pacific, between the equator and Japan. These are collectively described as Micronesia, on account of their extremely small size, the majority being simply low atolls, few of which rise more than ten feet above the level of the ocean.
The south-western isles of the Pacific, which come under the general name of Melanesia, are chiefly in the hands of the English Church Societies, and of the Presbyterian Mission.
The countless large groups which occupy the south-east of the ocean, and are generally described as Polynesia, have been almost entirely Christianised by the London and Wesleyan Missions.
Shortly after Captain Cook's discoveries had first drawn attention to the existence of these unexplored regions, the London Mission, which includes men of all the evangelical sects, began its work by sending men to the Marquesas, the Society Isles (Tahiti and Eaiatea), and to Tonga.
Of the sad fate which befell the first Tongan missionaries, I have already spoken. Three were murdered, and the rest compelled to fly for their lives. Some years later, the Wesleyan Mission ventured to reoccupy the field, when they found the people somewhat penitent. They were able to establish themselves under the protection of some friendly chiefs, and ere long had the satisfaction of knowing that Christianity was striking firm deep roots in the soil which at first seemed so unpromising.
Truly marvellous has been the growth of the tree thus watered by the blood of those brave pioneers. Eighty years have elapsed since their martyrdom, at which time there was not one isle in the whole Pacific which was not steeped in debasing heathenism and cruel wars. Now, throughout Polynesia, idolatry is a thing of the past; none of the present generation have even seen the wood and stone gods of their fathers: infanticide and murder are probably less common than in Europe, and a reverent obedience to all Christian precepts a good deal more apparent than in civilised countries. On upwards of 300 isles (where in the early half of this century no boat could have touched without imminent danger), Christianity of a really practical sort now reigns. Upwards of a quarter of a million persons show their faith in its requirements by utterly changed lives, and at least 60,000 of these are regular communicants. The casual traveller, who, a few years ago, would almost inevitably have been killed had he ventured to land, is now chiefly in danger of asserting that the natives have been trained to be religious overmuch,—their " innocent nature" cramped; and so the chances are, that without intending to do mischief, he throws his influence of the moment into the opposite scale, and is perhaps the source of more evil than he dreams of.
Having not only succeeded in transforming the savage Tongans into earnest Christians, but also into most zealous and capable teachers, the Wesleyan missionaries next made their way to Fiji, where their success was still more wonderful, and a race of most cruel cannibals has become one of the gentlest on earth.1
About the same time the Samoan Isles, which were then an almost unknown group, were sought out by the Rev. John Williams of the London Mission, one of the boldest and most successful of the early pioneers. He began his work at Raiatea, in the year 1817, with such success, that when, in 1821, an opportunity presented itself of visiting the Hervey Isles (of which nothing was known, except that such a group existed), several converts from Raiatea volunteered to go there as pioneers. They were accordingly landed on the isle of Aitutaki,2 the very name of which might have suggested encouragement. There they were favourably received by Tamatoa, the chief, and his people. Nevertheless, as it was well known that these were all cannibals, and constantly at war one with another, it was not without deep anxiety that Mr Williams left the teachers to begin the mission. When, however, in the following year, he returned to the group, in company with Mr Bourne, they were received with the glad tidings that the people of Aitutaki had all, without exception, abjured idolatry, burnt their marais, and begun to worship the Saviour; that they
1 Vide * At Home in Fiji,' by C. F. Gordon dimming.
2 Aitutaki, "led by God."