The New Zealand Evangelist
To the Christian mind it must afford pleasure when the religion he professes and enjoys seems to be flourishing; whether among his own race, or among people of a different hue, and of “strange speech.” It is pleasing to observe any progress made in civilization; it is more pleasing when there is progress perceived in religion;—that religion which inculcates love to God and love to our neighbour. Such pleasure is afforded by a contemplation of the native race, at least to some extent. The adoption of European clothing and of European habits is pretty general among them. There are but few of the aborigines who have not whole suits, or parts of suits. Some of the young men especially, are to be seen on Sabbath days completely equipped, from beaver hat to Wellington boots, not forgetting the gloves and handkerchief. The figure they make is undeniable; few of our imported dandies would bear a comparison, the air they assume would not disgrace a new made ensign of any regiment. The belles are not behind, the beaux as to finery, or the appearance they make. Muslin and silk sit finely upon them without the aid of stays to make the appearance fashionable. But civilization does not consist in dressing well merely; if gentility makes that its test, something more is requisite. Cleanliness in the person, house and culinary preparations enters into the composition of this desirable thing. Do any of the natives attend to these things? There are some who do. The national repudiation of ablutions is giving way. Water, and its useful ally soap are being put into requisition. There will be a demand for washhand bowls in time; now they may be seen occasionally, with other requisites of the toilet, brashes, hair oil and Eau de Cologne! Tables are in some instances superseding the ground, knives and forks contending for the place of the fingers, and plates, and cups and saucers displacing kit, calabash, and ironpot! page 72 Many more proof of a progressive civilization might be mentioned, to content those who make that thing all that is desirable, or the first thing desirable. We advocate Christianity as the great, as the sole promoter of true civilization; and are glad to notice the connexion. The natives remarkable for civilization, are also remarkable for their knowledge of Christianity, aye, and their reverence for it too. They are diligent readers of the Scriptures, diligent observers of religious duties, and not remarkable for an ability to swear in broken English, or the American Indian capacity for swallowing ardent spirits.
The religious progress of the natives may receive our notice on a future occasion.