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a Christian so soon as he had fully avenged the death of Tamafainga, “in whom was the spirit of the evil gods,” before himself going forth to battle, he sent one of his sons to help the teachers to build their chapel. On his return, when the chapel was to be opened, he called his sons together and announced his intention of fulfilling his promise to the white chief. With one accord they replied that what was good for their father was good for them, and that they too would lotu. This, however, he forbade, declaring that if they obstinately insisted on so doing, he would continue in the faith of his ancestors. “Do you not know,” he said, “that the gods will be enraged with me and seek to destroy me? and perhaps Jehovah may not be strong enough to protect me against them | I purpose, therefore, to try the experiment. If He can protect me, you may safely follow my example; but if not, then I only shall perish.” The young men were reluctant to obey, and asked how long they must allow for this test. Malietoa suggested a month or six weeks; and intense was the interest with which all his people waited and watched, lest sickness or other evil should befall him. But when, at the end of three weeks, all went on prosperously, it was felt that the supremacy of the Christian's God was established, and the sons of Malietoa would wait no longer. So, calling together a great company of friends and kinsmen, they proceeded solemnly to cook a large quantity of anae, a silvery fish, which was the etu of their tribe. These being laid on freshly gathered leaves, were placed before each person, and the teachers solemnly offered a prayer, ere, with fear and trembling, these young converts nerved themselves to swallow a few morsels of the sacred fish, hitherto held in such reverence. So intense, however, was the hold of the old superstition, that the young men, unable to conquer their fear lest the etu should gnaw their vitals and destroy them, immediately retired to swallow a large dose of cocoa-nut oil and salt water, which, acting as a powerful emetic, greatly tended to counteract any malignant influence of the offended gods. Soon after this, a great meeting of chiefs was convened to consult on the fate of Papo, the venerable god of war. This
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renowned relic was nothing but a strip of rotten old matting, about three yards long and four inches wide, which was always attached to the war-canoe of the highest chief when he went forth to battle, Now an impious voice suggested that this venerated rag should be thrown in the fire, but a burst of disapprobation silenced this cruel suggestion. However, all agreed that Papo must be exterminated; so as drowning was a less horrible death than burning, they resolved to launch a new canoe, in which a number of high chiefs should row out to sea, and, having fastened Papo to a heavy stone, should commit him to the deep. They had actually started on this errand, with great ceremony, when the teachers hurried after them in another canoe, to beg that the old war-god might be presented to Mr Williams. The chiefs were immensely relieved by the suggestion; and the venerable strip of matting is now to be seen in the museum of the London Mission. I cannot solve the mystery of this Samoan reverence for certain ancient mats; but I well remember our astonishment, when the Samoan chiefs came to Fiji to consult Sir Arthur Gordon on the question of British protection, to see with what infinite soleinnity these fine stately men presented him with a very dirty and exceedingly unfragrant and tattered old mat, which, I believe, was to be offered to her Majesty Queenie Vikatoria, but has, I think, found an asylum in the British Museum. What makes this so very strange is, that the mats worn by the Samoan chiefs and ladies are beautifully fine and glossy, of most delicate straw-colour, and edged with handsome grass-fringe. Whatever may have been the origin of this form of antiquarian lunacy, its existence is an unmistakable reality. The Samoan chief treasures the dirty and ragged old mat of some revered ancestor as a British regiment does the tattered colours which find their honoured rest in some grey sanctuary. The old mat, which from generation to generation has been jealously guarded by his clan, is his patent of nobility, and the title-deed which proves his right to broad acres. Some of these strips of dirty old matting, which no rag-man would pick off a dust-heap, are known throughout the group by special names. There is one, which is known to be upwards of 200 years old, during which period its successive guardians have all been duly enrolled. It is called Moe-e-fui fui-i.e., the mat which slept beneath the vines—in allusion to its having lain hidden for several years among the lilac ipomeas which twine in matted tangles all along the sea-beach. No money would induce a Samoan to sell one of these unsavoury treasures: it is said that £100 might be offered in vain, though I certainly cannot imagine any sane person offering 100 pence. However, it is simply a form of relic-worship, and probably no whit more foolish than the adoration of dirty clothes and kindred objects, supposed to have been hallowed by the touch of Christian or Buddhist saints. Indeed I am far more inclined to sympathise with the heathen Tahitian, who wore as an amulet the toe-nail of the father whom he had loved, than I can do with the multitudinous Christians who sanctify their altars by the presence of some splinter of saintly bone. Amongst the many touching incidents of these early days, was that of one large village in which, contrary to the general course, all the women became Christians before any of the men did so. Mr Williams had reached a town called Amoa, the people of which had all accepted the lotu, when a party of seventy women approached in single file, each bearing a gift. At their head walked a tall handsome woman, with a mat, dyed red, folded about her loins, and the upper part of her body freely anointed with sweet-oil, tinged with turmeric. On her neck and arms she wore a necklace and bracelets of large blue beads; but her hair, alas! was all cut off, except one little lock falling over the left cheek. Her companions were equally picturesque, – the unmarried women being distinguished by their wearing a white mat, and no oil and turmeric, and by their retaining a profusion of graceful curls on one side of their head, while the other was shaven and shorn. The poorest girls wore only fringes of large leaves and wreaths of flowers. It appeared that the leader was a chiefess of high rank, who, some time previously, had come to Amoa, and there remained for a month, diligently attending to the instructions of the teachers.
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Then, returning to her own district, she had collected all the
ATIland at the same spot as their enemies had done, failed to discriminate friend from foe. It is impossible to overstate the amount of hindrance to mission work and to all civilising influences which has been occasioned by the lawless proceedings of unprincipled white men, too many of whom have proved themselves truly white barbarians. In their greedy craving for gain, they have so thoroughly quenched every spark of justice and honour in their dealings with the dark-skinned races, that on some of the Papuan Isles, the name by which the natives describe a white man means literally “a sailing profligate.” The vessels employed in the labour trade—i.e., in “engaging” or securing men to work on plantations in Fiji or Australia—were by no means the only culprits, though the horrible cruelties practised by many of these in former years have been a disgrace to humanity. Nearly as much harm was done by men engaged in the sandal-wood trade, who gloried in defrauding the natives by every 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 hundreds. Of course the owners resisted, and were