« PreviousContinue »
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.
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 his 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 chifdren were dead; and their father could find no solace for his blind, ungrateful grief, but to slay the medicine-man 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 sealingwax, 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 Eev. 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 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 Eev. 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 RIVALRY IN THE GRAND ARMY.
persons who were members of the Tonga lotu, and 40 persons who were acting as teachers.
At that time the Tahiti lotu—i.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 'VVesleyans 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 Williams, though they only met for worship quietly in their own homes. The Tahitian teachers were the first who began to conduct public services, but their adherents were found to be numerically fewer than those of the Tongans.
Stress is laid on these details, because it was alleged by the London Mission that Messrs N. Turner and Cross had agreed with Mr iWilliams to devote their efforts to the Fijian group, and leave the Navigator's Isles to the London Mission. Messrs Turner and Cross, on the other hand, entirely repudiate any such compact, and state that the first they heard of it was when the London missionaries arrived in Samoa, where their agent was already established, in accordance with their promise to the friendly chiefs.
As neither party were inclined to yield, both missions continued to work simultaneously, each acknowledging the good work done by the other, yet regretting the division, which might so easily have been avoided. However, it has been a sacrifice of uniformity rather than of unity; and I suppose the Church militant must always be made up of divers regiments.
I believe the London Mission has at present seven congregational ministers in Samoa, and seventy-five native teachers. Their nominal adherents number about 30,000. The Australasian Wesleyan Mission has two white missionaries and one native minister. These superintend the work of 50 teachers and 85 local preachers. There are 47 chapels, with 1200 church members, and congregations numbering altogether about 5000.
The Koman Catholics number about 4000.
As has been the case throughout Polynesia, many of the new converts have become earnest missionaries; and not only have several Samoan teachers found their way to Fiji, but when in its turn the infant Church in that group determined to commence a mission among the savage races of New Britain, two Samoan teachers volunteered to accompany their Fijian brethren on this noble but dangerous enterprise. Others have gone to settle in the very uninviting Gilbert and Kingsmill groups, close to the equator, amongst hideous tribes of the lowest type, whose barren isles fail to yield any manner of crop; so that for lack of better diet, the unpalatable fruit of the pandanus, which in Samoa is only used for stringing into necklaces, is accounted an important item of food. For love of these poor souls these self-denying men give up their own most lovely homes, and bid a lifelong farewell to parents and kindred. Many a bitter scene has been enacted on these shores, when aged relatives, clinging to these dear ones with all the demonstrative love of the warm southern temperament, follow the mission-boat as it pushes off, and wade up to the shoulders, weeping and wailing for those who may never come back to them, and knowing full well how many have already fallen in the hardfought battle. Certainly these Samoan teachers have given good proof of their zeal and willingness to endure hardship, as good soldiers of the Cross.
NOTE ON ETU OR TOTEM WORSHIP.
We are so much in the habit of considering this strange worship of representative animals, in connection with the simple superstitions of such utterly uncivilised races as these poor savages of the Pacific Isles, or
the Indian tribes of America, that it is startling to recollect how large a place it held in the intricate mythology of so wise and learned a people as the ancient Egyptians, who not only excelled in all arts of peace and war, but seem to have mastered many of those mysteries of science which still perplex the learned men of the nineteenth century. Long ere the Greeks and Israelites had leamt their earliest lessons from the sages from Egypt, and while Home was but a village of mud-huts, the banks of the Nile were graced with buildings, which, in their stately beauty, rivalled the marvels of Babel. Prominent among these was the temple of the sacred bull Mnevis. The patron god of Memphis was the golden bull Apis, to whom pure white bulls were sacrificed; while in his honour jet-black bulls were worshipped during life, and after death were embalmed, and preserved in sarcophagi of polished black basalt. Only their bones were preserved, swathed in linen, and tied up so as to resemble an animal lying down. A full-grown bull thus prepared was no bigger than a calf, while a calf was the size of a dog. Thirty-three of these sacred bull-mummies were found in the catacombs, each in its own sarcophagus.
Other catacombs were entirely devoted to the mummies of sacred dogs and cats, beetles and mice, hawks and ibis, each neatly strapped up in linen and sealed up in a red earthenware jar. These are found packed like the contents of some vast wine-cellar—tier behind tier, and in layers reaching to the roof of the catacombs, some of which are large caves, with endless ramifications; yet chamber after chamber of these vast storehouses are all alike closely packed with this vast multitude of mummy-jars, accumulated by countless generations of reverent worshippers.
Strangest of all these sepulchres of sacred creatures, are the crocodile mummy-pits, in which are stored a vast assemblage of crocodiles of all sizes, from the patriarch measuring twelve or fourteen feet in length, to the poor baby only five inches long, each wrapped up in palm-leaves. Thousands of these little demigods, about eighteen inches long, are tied together in bundles of eight or ten, and swathed in coarse cloth. True believers in the crocodile-headed god Savak, kept these creatures tame in a great crocodile city near the artificial lake Moeris, where they were fed with cake and roast meat, washed down by draughts of mulled wine; their fore-feet were adorned with golden bracelets, and their ears were pierced and enriched with precious gems. But the worshippers had to fight the battles of their gods against various irreverent neighbours, notably against the people of Elephantine, who, so far from worshipping the crocodile, considered it a dainty dish, to be eaten as often as it could be captured.
So well known to their contemporaries was this Egyptian reverence