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them with a long spear, but the lunge was arrested by the king himself, who received them kindly, and at once led them to his own seaside temple, in order that the people might consider their persons sacred. This they were inclined to do; for soon after their cruel treatment of the first teachers, a terrible epidemic had broken out in the isle, which had carried off young and old, chiefs and peasants. Supposing this to be a punishment sent by the God of those strangers, they collected all the property they had stolen from them, the calico dresses torn off the women, and the strips into which they had torn the Bibles to make ornaments for their hair at the midnight dances in honour of the■god Tane. All these things they threw into a chasm in the mountains into which they were in the habit of casting their dead, and made solemn vows to the unknown God that if His servants returned to their isle they should be well cared for. So now they prepared a feast for the two bold swimmers, and allowed them to settle among them in peace.
Meanwhile Mr Williams had continued the search for Rarotonga, and had touched at the isles of Atiu, Mauke, and Mitiaro. The story of that voyage is more thrilling than any romance. It was as if a flash of electric light had suddenly illumined the thick darkness. What that darkness was you may infer from the fact that only four years previously all these islands had been decimated by war and cannibalism. The fierce people of Mitiaro had slain and eaten several canoe-loads of the men of Atiu, whose kinsfolk, determined to avenge them, came over in force, and by treachery gained access to the stronghold of the men of Mitiaro. A fearfid massacre ensued, and to this day the oven is shown into which men and women and helpless infants were thrown alive to be cooked; the only mercy shown was when the brains of the children were dashed on the stones, and so they were killed ere being cast into the oven. When the conquerors had eaten their fill, they packed basketfuls of the savoury meat to regale their wives and families at Atiu; but ere they left the blood-stained isle they practised one more barbarity common to heathen warfare. In dragging the great double canoes over the sharp coral, it is usual to lay down soft A ZEALOUS CONVERT. 123
banana stumps to act as rollers, and so protect the canoes from injury. The rollers now used were living naked men and women, tied togethor hand and foot, and over their writhing bodies were the heavy canoes drawn in triumph.
The same terrible fate had overtaken the neighbouring isle of Mauke, when the arrival of the mission-ship brought to these isles the blessed Gospel of peace. The first man to step on board at Atiu was the terrible chief, Romatane, who had led the expeditions against Mitiaro and Mauke: he was a man of strikingly commanding aspect, with beautiful long black hair. He was eagerly welcomed by the chief of Aitutaki, who had already destroyed his idols and accepted the new faith; and so earnestly did this zealous convert plead all through the long night with his brother chief, that, ere the morrow dawned, the truth of his words seemed borne in upon the mind of Romatane, and he vowed that never again would he worship any God save Jehovah. He returned ashore to announce this decision to his people, and his intention of immediately destroying his idols and their temples. Then returning on board, he agreed to direct the course of the vessel to the then unknown isles of Mitiaro and Mauke, which hitherto he had visited only with fire and sword. Now it was his voice that proclaimed the truths he had just learned, and that exhorted the people to destroy all their' idols and build a house for the worship of the true God. At each isle he himself escorted the Tahitian teachers and their wives to the house of the principal chief, and charged him to care for them and hearken to their instructions.
Thus in one short day was this mighty revolution wrought in three isles, which had never before even seen a foreign ship. Romatane and his brother Mana proved themselves true to their first convictions; and among their stanch fellow-workers was one who, to this day, tells how, at the massacre of his kinsfolk on Mauke, when he was carried away captive, he was laid on the baskets containing the baked flesh of his uncles and fellow-countrymen, and narrowly escaped being himself consigned to the oven.
The mission work progressed without a drawback. The people, almost without demur, determined to destroy the idols they had so long revered. Many were rescued as museum curiosities, and the mission-ship sailed onward with those grotesque monsters hanging from her yard-arms, and otherwise displayed as trophies, leaving in their stead earnest converts, from Raiatea and Tahiti, to instruct these willing hearers.
When they had almost given up in despair their search for Rarotonga, one of the new converts told them that if they would sail to a given point on the isle of Atiu, he could thence take bearings which would enable him to find it. So for this startingpoint they made; and, true to his word, the islesman directed them how to steer, and after several days they reached the beautiful isle they sought . Here they were received in the most friendly manner; and the young king, Makea (an exceedingly handsome man, six feet high, and beautifully tattooed), came on board himself, and agreed to take the native teachers ashore, with their wives and the six Christian natives who had been brought back to their own isle. This promising beginning was, however, not without a check; for in the early dawn the teachers returned to the ship, bringing back their wives with garments all tattered and torn, telling of the grievous treatment they had endured. The chiefs were exceedingly anxious that the teachers should remain on the isle to teach them the Word of God, but wished to annex their wives.
It was therefore decided that, for the present, only one fine old teacher should be left, with the six Rarotongans who had first suggested the commencement of the mission, on their unknown isle. So well did their work progress, that within a year the whole population had renounced idolatry. Makea, the king, was among the earliest converts; and when, in 1827, Mr Williams and Mr Pitman arrived with their wives and families to settle in Ilarotonga, they were received by an enthusiastic crowd of about 3000 persons, each of whom insisted on shaking hands so heartily, that their arms ached severely for several hours after. All these were professedly Christians; and the new-comers learnt that there was not a house on the isle in which the family did not assemble morning and evening for family worship. A few days after their IDOL-WORSHIP ABANDONED. 125
arrival, they perceived a great body of people approaching bearing heavy burdens. These proved to be fourteen immense idols, the smallest of which was about fifteen feet high. Some of these were reserved to decorate the rafters of the new chapel, built by the people themselves, to contain 3000 persons; the rest were destroyed.
While this marvellous change was being wrought on the other isles, the brave young teachers who had swum ashore on Mangaia were steadily making their way. Within two years one died, leaving Davida to labour alone. He had, however, by this time made some progress; and on one glad day the king and chiefs determined to abandon the idol shrine, where, every evening, offerings of food were presented to the thirteen known gods, and to the great host of the unknown. So, to the great joy of Davida, the thirteen idols were carried to his house by their late worshippers, and there stripped of the sacred white cloth in which priests and gods were always clothed. They are now preserved in the museum of the London mission, and very much resemble the wooden idols of the ancient Britons to be seen in our antiquarian
1 Notably one dug out of the peat-moss at Ballachulish, now in the Antiquarian Museum in Edinburgh; and those in the Museum at Hull; also those in the Berlin Museum. All these have the eyes formed of quartz pebbles, instead of the bits of pearly shell or of obsidian used in the manufacture of idols in the Pacific.
The stone gods also had their counterparts in our own isles. When Dr Turner visited the Union or Tokelau Isles in 1850, he found that the great god, Tut Tokelau, was supposed to be embodied in a rude stone, which was carefully wrapped up in fine mats, and never seen by any human eyes save those of the king, who is also the high priest. Even he might only look upon the sacred stone once a-year, when the old mats were removed and new ones supplied. Of course constant exposure in all weather, day and night, soon decayed the mats; but the worshippers continually offered new ones, esPecially in cases of sickness, and these were wrapped round the idol, so that, ere the day came round for its disrobing, it attained a prodigious size. The old mats were considered so sacred that none might touch them ; so they were laid in a place apart, and there left to rot. The month of May was especially devoted to the worship of this god, and the people assembled from all the Tokelau isles to hold a great feast in its honour, and to pray for prosperity and health, and especially for an abundant suPply offish and cocoa-nuts.
Now turn from the Pacific to the North Atlantic, and read a statement by the Earl of Rouen, in his ' Progress of the Refonnation in Ireland.' He says :—
Thus, in an incredibly short space of time, was the whole system of idolatry, with its bloody human sacrifices, overthrown in the Hervey Isles; and how marvellous was the change wrought in every respect, has been described by Lord Byron, Commander of H.M.S. Blonde, when he accidentally found himself in the group, —and, recognising it as one of those discovered by Captain Cook, approached land with extreme caution, but was welcomed by noblelooking men, dressed in cotton shirts and very fine mats, who produced written documents from the London Mission Society, qualifying them to act as teachers, and then took him ashore to a neat village with a good school and a crowded church.
From that time forward, the Hervey Islanders have not only been true to their own profession, but have proved zealous missionaries in carrying the Gospel to other isles. Their theological college has already sent forth about 150 trained men as teachers. About 50 of these are at the present moment scattered among various remote isles of the Pacific, some of which are still cannibal. Six of the most zealous and determined men have gone, accompanied by their brave missionary wives, to face the unknown perils that await them in New Guinea—where, doubtless, their work will bear good fruit, and prove the first step in opening up that vast island to the commerce of the civilised world.1
The very first missionary effort of the Hervey Islanders was
"In the south island—i.e., Inniskea, off the coast of Mayo—in the honse of a man named Monigan, a stone idol, called in the Irish Neevougi, has been, from time immemorial, religiously preserved and worshipped. This god resembles in appearance a thick roll of home-spun flannel, which arises from the custom of dedicating a dress of that material to it whenever its aid is sought; this is sewn on by an old woman, its priestess, whose peculiar care it is. Of the early history of this idol no authentic information can be procured, but its power is believed to be immense. They pray to it in time of sickness; it is invoked when a storm is desired to dash some hapless ship uPon their coast; and again, the exercise of its power is solicited in calming the angry waves to admit of fishing or visiting the mainland."
It scarcely seems possible, does it, to realise that our own ancestors were as gross idolaters as any South Sea Islanders? Yet in the majority of these isles the present generation have never seen an idol of any sort; and should they ever visit our museums, they would gaze on the gods of their own fathers as wonderingly as we do on those of the early Britons.
1 Alas I the fate of the majority has already been sealed. In the spring of