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Nor is this the only point in which this mighty anti-Christian firm opposes itself to all efforts for the improvement of the people. To all their widely scattered agents one clear direction is given: "Never assist missionaries either by word or deed, but, wheresoever you may find them, use your best influence with the natives to obstruct and exclude them." l
It is interesting to find so plain an acknowledgment of the principles which animate so large a section of the mercantile communities in all quarters of the earth. In every case the opposition seems due to the same cause — a covert hatred to the teaching which discountenances immorality of all sorts, including that of exchanging bad goods at fictitious prices for useful products. It matters little whether blue beads and muskets, or opium (with a background of English artillery), be the goods to be disposed of, the principles involved, and the consequent antagonism to every agency for good, are necessarily the same.
How well the agents and shipmasters carry out their instructions may be inferred from such an experience as that of the mission ship Morning Star, which, a few years ago, made her way to the Kingsmill group on the equator. A pilot came out to meet her, and made her anchor three miles from the village, desiring that no one should venture to land without permission from the king. The latter, on hearing that it was a missionary ship, recalled the counsels given to him by the captains of various trading vessels, who, he said, had all warned him that should a missionary ever come to the isles he must on no account be permitted to land, as he would shortly bewitch both king and people. So the wary monarch vowed that no such sorcerer should set foot in his realms; and he accordingly sent a message to the strangers to say, that if they stood in need of anything he could give them, they should have it, but they must go right away, and never come back. Thus the unrighteous counsels prevailed, and the true friends were banished at the bidding of the selfish money-grubbers.
It is unfortunately only too notorious that wherever, as in those
i Vide New Zealand Blue-Book, 1874—evidence of Mr Sterndale, late employ* cf Mr Godeffroy.
TRADERS VERSUS TEACHERS. 83
northern isles, the natives have derived their first impressions of civilisation from traders, they have invariably deteriorated, and the white influence has been exerted to exclude all improving influences. On the other hand, throughout Polynesia, the missionaries were the first to occupy the field, where traders dared not venture, and in every case they so tamed the fierce savages that commerce naturally followed in their wake and under their protection. Yet even here no debt of gratitude is considered due to the successors of those early pioneers; and the antagonism of the traders to the missionaries is unfortunately notorious.
From what I have told you, you can gather that the transactions of the house of Godeffroy are carried out on a pretty extensive scale; and as all European goods are sold at a clear profit of a hundred per cent, exclusive of all expenses, they contrive to heap up riches at a very rapid rate. One of their peculiarities is, that they never insure their ships. They pay their shipmasters very low salaries, rarely exceeding £5 a-month, but supplement this sum by allowing them a commission of three per cent on the net profits of each voyage.
Another peculiarity, which is particularly annoying to the white community (and this is a point on which I speak feelingly), is that of despatching their ships from Apia with seiled orders, which are not opened till the vessel reaches a certain latitude, so that no one on board knows her destination. Consequently, however great a boon the chance of a passage might be to any person detained in the isles, or how valuable an opportunity of sending letters, ship after ship leaves this harbour without giving a hint of her intentions.
The house of Godeffroy has not been the only purchaser of vast tracts of land in these isles. The Polynesian Land Company (whose claims to enormous tracts in the Fijian isles were somewhat upset by annexation, and the consequent necessity of proving their titles to their broad acres) carried on very pretty land speculations in Samoa, where they profess to have legally acquired about 300,000 acres on the four largest and most fertile islands. Their leader is a Mr Stewart, one of two brothers who have struck out for themselves very remarkable careers in these Beas. The other brother was a well-known character in Tahiti, who blew a brilliant bubble company, which for a while dazzled the world of the South Seas—till the bubble burst, and the blower died miserably.
H.B.M. Consolats, Tuesday Night.
Yesterday evening we were sitting in the verandah enjoying the coolness of the lovely evening, when we heard very pretty singing in a garden near. Some gentlemen who were calling took me to the spot, where a large party of Samoan girls were sitting on the grass beneath the palms and rosy oleanders. The singing and surroundings were all attractive. Indeed it is difficult to look on such a peaceful scene, and realise how very recently it was a hideous battle-field; and sad indeed to think how few days may elapse ere the grass—to-day so green—may be stained with the blood of all these fine men. In Samoan warfare the aim of each warrior is to secure as many heads as possible. Hence the sixty ghastly heads which were carried from here to all parts of the group only three months ago. But before they are so scattered, it is customary for the victors to pile them up in a hideous pyramid, surmounted by the head of the highest chief slain. An ugly feature in war here, is the practice of a large body of men landing at dead of night at some distance from an unguarded settlement, and stealing stealthily in, to surprise the unsuspecting sleepers: then suddenly rushing into the houses, slice off every man a head, of grey-haired patriarch or slumbering infant boy, and dashing down to the shore, where their canoes have meanwhile arrived, push off ere the startled villagers are sufficiently awake to arm for defence or vengeance. Only male heads are required. It would be considered cowardly to kill a woman. Nevertheless these are sometimes desperately wounded in the struggle to defend their little ones from their ruthless assassins.
In old days, after a battle, such of the headless bodies as were recognised received decent burial; the others were left as carrion, a prey to the village dogs and pigs. The influence of Christianity now secures burial for all. Strange to say, it also secures a rigid A SAMOAN VILLAGE. 83
observance of the Sabbath, on which day the belligerents, by common consent, abstain from fighting, and allow teachers and missionaries to pass freely in and out of their camps, holding religious services in which all join, each no doubt invoking the aid of the God of battles on his own behalf. I doubt whether many of the nations among whom Christianity has been long established, would pause in their battling from any deference to the day of rest. And though these raids and distributions of heads savour rather of Jewish than of Christian practices, I think the British Isles could have furnished pretty close parallels in the days of Border forays, when a foeman's head, stuck on a halbert, was reckoned no mean trophy; or when one who was considered a traitor had fallen by the headsman's axe, and his head and quartered body were stuck on pikes—a ghastly spectacle for all men—while his entrails were thrown into the fire. So you need not decry the Christianity of these poor Samoans, because the old war-spirit still stirs in their veins.
I have just had a visit from Mrs G. A. Turner, who most kindly called to ask whether I would like to accompany her husband to a lovely place, twelve miles from here, where he expects to have a large meeting of the people. It is very tempting, and being a three days' trip, would give me time for some sketches; but there is so much that is interesting here, that I have reluctantly declined.
After luncheon Mr Pritchard took me along the shore to Malin'unu, the village on a peninsula, where the unfortunate skirmish occurred between the Samoans and the men of the Barracouta. It is now the seat of government, and here the Taimua and the Fatpule, who are the triumphant faction, reign. One of their English instigators occupies the house of Malietoa, the conquered king, and lives under the special protection of the men whom he has beguiled. It is a tidy village of thatched houses, smothered in bananas and tall sugar-cane.
We have been exploring all the near neighbourhood. Passing through the grounds of the Fathers' house (where the good bishop 8G
gave us welcome), we ascended a pretty steep hill to the Catholic college for young men—a large and very orderly establishment. It was a pretty walk, through woods and cultivated ground. Everything seems to grow here, and some plantations are worked on a large scale with imported foreign labour. Cotton, sugar-cane, maize, coffee, nutmegs, cinnamon, arrowroot, tapioca, millet, barley, and even rice, of a sort which does not require irrigation, and can be grown on high levels. Vegetables of all sorts thrive in the French gardens, telling of industry and care; but somehow here, as in Fiji, European flowers do not repay the trouble expended on them, except for old association. Their place is taken by the datura, with its heavy-scented, white, trumpet-shaped blossoms, the gay pride of Barbadoes, various fragrant jessamines, and hybiscus of all colours.
In all these volcanic soils, water, and water only, is needed to convert the thirsty dust into most fertile earth. Here, what with perennial springs and an excessive rainfall, the mountains have an abundant water-supply; and in every ravine a clear sparkling stream is fed by countless rills and waterfalls, cool and delicious. But so dry and thirsty are the lower hills, that the generous streams, giving instead of receiving, are actually absorbed ere they reach the seaboard, and only a bed of dry stones marks the channel, by which in occasional floods the torrents rush into the ocean. Consequently all cultivation on the lower levels involves artificial irrigation.
The fish-supply here seems good. There are rock-fish in endless variety,—albicore, bonto, and a sort of salmon with white flesh, and a very delicate fish called the gar-fish, with a projecting lower jaw. When this creature grows large and strong, it sometimes unintentionally proves a very dangerous neighbour, as when startled by the approach of a canoe, it is very apt to spring on board with such force as seriously to injure any person whom it strikes with its sword-like jaw. I believe that nude natives have actually been killed by those frightened creatures. The fishers here still practise the somewhat unfair method of stupefying fish by throwing into the water the bruised seeds of the liutu, or Bar