Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Samoa Under the Sailing Gods


page 56


It would be inaccurate to suggest that a condition precisely similar to that described in Tutuila obtained all over Samoa. We learn from Mr. Lundie, for instance, that "the work of grace" was neither so extensive nor so remarkable in Upolu as at his own island.

"There were not many who seemed to care much about greeting the missionaries, and the pleasing sound 'Talofa' was neither so frequently nor so fervently pronounced. Clothing is not yet so general, even many women having no dress but the ti leaves round the waist and reaching to the knee."

The occasion on which these observations were recorded was that of a visit to Apia for a general meeting of the missionaries. At this meeting (its only interest) Captain Croker, of H.M.S. Favourite, was in the chair. It was soon after this that the gallant captain was killed, at Tonga, while leading an assault upon the "heathen," with a sword in one hand and a Bible in the other: the attack being a crusade against idolators—suggested to him, it is supposed, by King George of Tongatabu and the local missionaries. (King George of Tonga, I should explain, with the assistance, or perhaps I should say at the instigation of, missionaries, had established such a reign of terror in those islands that numbers of his subjects were now escaping to other groups, particularly Fiji, to live. This, of course, was prior to the temporary expulsion of the missions from Tonga.) Croker was buried on a height: a spot pointed out by himself to the missionaries when setting out for the attack.

Not only in Tonga were certain of the "heathen" found recalcitrant, but also in Samoa. Thus we find—

"Mr. Slatyer went to Pango-Pango on Monday to visit his wife, who still continues very poorly. When there, Mr. Murray and he made a tour through the eastern district, to try and bring the still remaining heathen over; but with very little immediate success. No one had any reply at all to make; they were forced to acknowledge that Christianity alone is right, page 57and they all wrong. They say they will all turn by and by, but cannot make up their minds to give up sin yet…. Mr. Slatyer enjoyed nature and his tour, but is much impressed with the stone-like indifference and unconcern of real heathens; and that, too, while assenting to the most solemn truths. One, when urged to turn, and told that hell was the alternative, said —"A pisi, pisi pea"—'If I fall, let me fall!' There is one chief, the 'Devil's priest,' at Tula, who has very great influence, and by his sullen stubbornness keeps many back."

Missionaries are chary of admitting that they sometimes enforce their tenets, when they may, by legislation. But this might be taken in evidence:

"Last Thursday, the discourse delivered by Taito was directed principally towards the chiefs to strengthen their hands in the administration of impartial justice. They had appointed a heavy fine to be paid by J——, as a punishment for adultery…. We went to one of the chiefs, and told him how wrong it is of the administrators of justice to pass the crime of the chief and punish the common man, etc. This he laid before the Fono (council). Its propriety was at once perceived, and the poor fellows were in a sad dilemma—all wishing to do right; but their reverence for their chief making them revolt from the idea of punishing him. After sermon on Friday, Mr. Murray gave a most spirited and fearless address, showing what was right, and urging to it. The effect was powerful; and no doubt Maunga will either separate from his unlawful wife, or lose the chiefship, and be driven from this society. Poor man! his is a difficult case. He seems anxious to do right; but loves this woman, and dislikes his married wife. Mr. Murray—as well as many natives—has talked with, and advised him. He takes all well, but cannot make up his mind."

By this time (soon after their establishment) the missions were beginning to yield of the material, as well as the spiritual. Mr. Murray, writing of the year 1843, has said:

"Our annual missionary meetings were held at Leone this year, on Wednesday, May 16th. We had a very large gathering, as we had not yet adopted the plan of having separate meetings in each district…. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. we were occupied page 58in receiving the contributions. Money was still a very scarce commodity in Samoa, but coco-nut oil and arrowroot were obtainable, and these were easily converted into money. I have no memoranda at hand from which I can give the amount contributed, but, from the time we were occupied in taking account of it, it must have been something very considerable."

page break
Framework (and Scaffolding) of a Samoan House

Framework (and Scaffolding) of a Samoan House