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A COLLEGE LIFE IN SAMOA. 97
students go out, either to work in the gardens, or to fish in the calm lagoon. At eight the bell rings again to warn them that it is time to bathe and breakfast, to be ready for their class at nine. Classes and lectures continue till four, when they are again free to go fishing, gardening, carpentering, or whatever they prefer. At sunset each family meets for evening prayer; then the men study by themselves till half-past nine, when the curfew bell (true couvre-feu) warns them to put out their lights.
On Saturday evening there is a prayer-meeting in the institution chapel, when the students take it in turn to deliver a short address.
Sunday is of course observed very strictly. The day begins with a prayer-meeting at six. At morning and afternoon service all the neighbouring villagers assemble, and the intervening and later hours are filled up with Sunday-school for children and Bibleclasses for adults. A simple service, with a good deal of singing, ends the day. The Holy Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of each month.
The institution rules are few and simple; but for any infringement of them the penalty is a fine, which goes towards the expense of lights.
The course of instruction includes arithmetic, geography, natural philosophy, writing, composition, Scripture history, and systematic and practical theology. For lack of books, Dr Turner and his fellow-tutor found it necessary, day by day, to write out copious notes of their lectures, and give them to all the young men to copy. Consequently each, on leaving the college, at the end of a four years' course, carried with him a largo store of papers for reference.
Thanks to the diligent labours of Dr Turner and his colleagues (who during many years devoted about five hours daily to preparing translations for publication), the libraries of Samoa now contain Scripture narratives and commentaries on the Old Testament, —commentaries on the Epistles and Gospels, Elements of Astronomy, Elements of Natural Philosophy, and various other works.
We were told various examples of the acute and pithy remarks
of the native teachers, and of the excellent illustrations they sometimes make use of. Thus a hollow professor is likened to the castoff shell of a lobster, so perfect in every claw and feeler, even to the transparent covering of the eyes, that the Usher, peering into the clear pools on the reef, mistakes it for a true and excellent prize, and only learns his error as he grasps the worthless shell.
A strange illustration of "cutting off a right hand or a right foot, or plucking out a right eye, that offend," was given by a teacher at Tutuila, who told how often he had watched the mali 'o, or land-crab, which by day burrows deep in the soil, but by night hurries down to the sea to feed and drink. It is a wondrous cleanly creature; and the Samoans declare that if on its seaward way, as it presses through the tall grass, it should chance to come in contact with any filth, which adheres to its legs, it will deliberately wrench them off, and thus, self-mutilated, hobbles back to its hole, there to hide till its legs grow again. It is positively affirmed that this most extraordinary crab has been known deliberately to wrench off its eight legs in succession, and then drag itself home with the greatest difficulty by means of its nippers. I must confess I think this crab would have shown more common-sense had he gone to the sea or the nearest stream and washed his dirty legs. But you must allow that the illustration was an apt one.
Those who on hearing good words hearken, and for a season dwell on them in their hearts, but after a while return to their careless ways, are compared to the sensitive plant, which when touched closes its leaves and droops to the very earth, but anon rises up again as brave as ever. A backslider is compared to a certain fish which comes from the ocean to feed on the reef, and which for a day or two continues silvery white, but after a while becomes dark and unwholesome.
A little sin is as a hole in a fisherman's basket, through which, one by one, fall the fish for which he has toiled so eagerly. First he loses all his little fish, and gradually, as the hole enlarges, the large fish also escape, and at last he reaches his journey's end with an empty basket.
The taint of old sins, clinging to one who would fain put away
THE DANGER OF LITTLE SINS. 99
evil things, is compared to a strongly scented oil, with which a bottle-gourd has once been filled. Many and many a time must that gourd be washed ere it will lose the scent, and be fit to hold water for drinking.1
Still more striking is the illustration of a stately bread-fruit tree, fair to look upon, with large glossy leaves and abundant fruit, —a tree which in the natural course of healthy life will, when full grown, send up from its roots strong shoots, which yield their first crop in the second or third year, so that ere long the patriarchal tree is the centre of a leafy fruit-bearing grove. But there is an insignificant-looking parasitic fungus—merely a black spot like the smut that comes on wheat—which is fatal to this fair tree. Once it can establish itself, it spreads like a canker. The rich green leaves turn yellow, and the disease is soon carried from tree to tree, till the whole grove is sickly and blighted. It brings no fruit to perfection, and ere long the trees are dead. Only one antidote is known. It is said that there grows in the depths of the forest a glorious lily,2 and that if some of its bulbs are brought and planted among the roots of the sickly trees, they will recover. And so, when the deadly rust of sin has cankered the heart of man, one only remedy can avail, — the life - giving influence of Him who is called the true Lily.
Again, another teacher illustrates the necessity of rooting out nil bad habits, no matter how trifling they may seem, by the example of the wild taro, which sends rootlets creeping in every direction, so that though the main root may be dug up, suckers innumerable remain, which need only time to bring them to sturdy life.
Another parable is furnished by the sugar-cane, which grows tall and beautiful to the eye, but unless due care is taken to clear away the decayed leaves from around its roots, worms gather there, and pierce the cane, and rapidly multiplying within, fatten and
1 The Rev. W. Wyatt Gill has recorded a multitude of most interesting examples of such parables from nature. Moreover, happily for all lovers of such lore, he has, during his mission career in the Hervey Isles, found time to preserve many delightful " Myths and Songs from the South Pacific." It is much to he wished that the same could be done for other groups. Crinum asiaticum.
flourish, so that when the husbandman gathers his cane, he finds its precious juice all gone, and in its place a multitude of loathsome worms. Even such, said the preacher, is the growth of little sins.
The soul that seeks to soar heavenward is likened to the piraki —a small bird, which, like the skylark, seems to lose itself in the light. On the other hand, the snow-white tern, which, beneath its lovely white plumage, has a dull black skin, is a meet symbol of the hypocrite, whose fair feathers shall one day be plucked off, to reveal the false professor.
Some of the questions propounded by the students are equally noteworthy, and few indeed suggest that confused wool-gathering of which every school examiner in Britain can quote such strange examples. The question asked by one young man was, "What is meant by Satan falling from heaven?" And I could not help thinking of the rash Sunday-school teacher who asked her class why, in Jacob's dream, the angels were seen descending by a ladder. To which replied a sharp child, "Please, 'twas because the angels were puking, and they couldna flee!" She had charge of her mother's poultry, which just then were moulting, so the comparison was forcible.
Hitherto the students do notiappear to have been troubled with any speculative difficulties regarding the Mosaic account of Creation, which, in Samoa, has reversed the European order, and has superseded the "Darwinian " theory. According to the legend of the isles, "In the beginning" the great god Tangaloa sent his daughter, in the form of a bird, to visit the great waters, which then covered the face of the earth. She found a rock rising above the surface, and there rested a while ere returning to the heavens. From time to time Bhe revisited the rock, and carried thither some earth—and then a creeping plant. After a while she returned, and her plant had covered the earth, which gradually enlarged, as the waters dried up. Then the plant withered and decayed, and as it turned into slimy nastiness, a multitude of worms appeared, and they grew fat and flourished, and in due course of time men and women were evolved. So, you see, the Samoans had traced the CUSTOMS OF JUDEA ILLUSTRATED. 101
human race back to its slimy origin, long before Dr Darwin electrified the civilised world with his discoveries; but they have now discarded that ignoble ancestry in favour of the Divine theory.
A Samoan teacher often illustrates his meaning by some ingenious allusion to the old legends and mythology of the isles. In his expositions of the Old Testament he is greatly assisted by the number of Samoan customs, strangely analogous to those of Syria and Palestine. Dr Turner has collected a multitude of such identities—and also of the striking metaphors and hyperboles dear to the Samoans. Thus, "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God," had strange significance to those who believed that in Pulotu, the Samoan Paradise, the temple of their great god was supported by human pillars, who in this world had been great chiefs, whose highest aim had been the attainment of this honoured office.
"They took branches of palm - leaves and went forth to meet Him, crying Hosanna," suggests the green leaves and branches often carried by the followers of a chief, and their songs in his praise.
In rejoicing, David "dancing and leaping before the ark," exactly describes the leaping and dancing and strange capers which even a high-caste chief will perform as he goes before a person or thing whom he wishes to honour.
Riddles, such as those propounded by Samson, are among the commonest amusements of Samoa, and are combined with forfeits.
"With reference to King David's prayer, when "he went in and sat before the Lord," it is remarked that in Samoa, as in all the Polynesian groups, it is a mark of disrespect to stand in the presence of a superior. To sit on the ground with the head bent down is the correct attitude of reverence and devotion.
In the account of David's covenant with Jonathan, the latter "stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David,"—an action which is the commonest expression of friendship in the South Seas.
"He kissed him, and smelled the smell of his raiment," is an excellent description of the South Sea custom of greeting all