Arrival of Missionaries from England—Building and launching of the Haweis—Re-occupation of Matavai—New stations in Tahiti—Journeys across the interior of Eimeo—Village of Tamai—Retrospect of labour at Afareaitu—Honesty of the people—Departure from Eimeo—Voyage to the Society Islands—Appearance of Huahine—Fa-re harbour and surrounding country—Accommodations on shore—State of the inhabitants of Huahine—Commencement of Missionary labours—Influence of presents on the people.
About a month after our departure from Papetoai, Mr. Orsmond, who had sailed from England about July, 1816, arrived at Eimeo, and, after residing some time with the Missionaries at Papetoai, he removed to Afareaitu, pursued harmoniously with us the study of the language, assisted in preparing books for the people, and in other duties of the station, and subsequently accompanied us to the Leeward Islands. On the 17th of November, in the same year, Messrs. Bourne, Darling, Platt, and Williams, with their wives, who had sailed from England 17th of November, 1816, reached the islands. Mr. and Mrs. Threlkeld, who had sailed with us from England, but had been obliged by domestic affliction to remain at Rio Janeiro, and Mr. and Mrs. Barff, who had originally left England with Mr. Orsmond, joined us by the same conveyance. This event was truly cheering to their predecessors, as it conveyed the strongest evidence page 239 of the desire, on the part of the Society at home, to relieve them from every distressing anxiety as to their successors, and to afford every aid in the prosecution of their important and extending work. To us it was a matter of gratitude and satisfaction. With some who had now arrived, we had parted nearly two years before in our native land; others we had left among strangers on a foreign shore; but we were now, in the providence of God, brought together under circumstances peculiarly encouraging; and not only permitted to enjoy each others' society, but to combine our energies for the advancement of that cause to which our lives were devoted.
The arrival of so large a reinforcement enabled the Missionaries to make arrangements for re-occupying their original station in Tahiti, and establishing a Mission in the Society, or, as they are usually termed, when spoken of in connexion with Tahiti and Eimeo, the Leeward Islands. It was, however, thought desirable that no division of their numbers should take place until the vessel, the building of which had been commenced soon after the return from Port Jackson, should be finished, and the works prepared for the press were printed.
The vessel, in the building of which the Missionaries were engaged when we arrived, had been undertaken jointly by them and the king, at the recommendation of the Governor of New South Wales, and of the Rev. S. Marsden. The king proposed to find materials, and the Missionaries labour. By this means it was hoped they might be enabled to instil into the minds of the natives a spirit of enterprise, and induce them to build ships for themselves. It was intended to employ the vessel in the pearl-fishery, among the Paumotu Islands page 240 to the eastward; to work her with native seamen, to take the pearls, and mother-of-pearl shell, to Port Jackson; bringing from that settlement tools, cutlery, and manufactured goods for the natives, and supplies for the Mission; thus providing a means of stimulating the people to habits of industry, and defraying to a certain degree the expenses of the Mission. Such were the views with which the vessel was commenced; but circumstances had arisen since that time, which left but little hope that these ends would ever be answered. The work was, however, already so far advanced, that all parties were unwilling to abandon it.
The vessel was about seventy tons burden, and the hull nearly completed. The Missionaries who had arrived undertook to finish what their predecessors had commenced; and although it was an undertaking of great labour, it was ready to be launched in a few weeks after they had landed.
The 7th of December, 1817, being the day fixed for the launch, crowds of the inhabitants assembled to witness the spectacle: when the preparations were completed, the wedges were removed; but as the vessel did not move, strong ropes were passed round her stern, and a number of the islanders on each side began pulling her towards the water. Pomare was present, and exerted all his influence to stimulate the natives employed in launching the ship. One of the king's orators, a short, plump, round-faced man, about fifty years of age, was perched upon a projecting rock by the sea-side, vociferating one of their ude, or songs, on the launching of their own large canoes, suiting the action to the word, and using at times the most violent gesticulations, as if he imagined his own muscular powers alone were page 241 to move the vessel. They have a number of these kinds of songs, some of considerable length, which I have at different times written down. They were designed to stimulate the men who were drawing the canoes into the water.
The natives employed in this work generally laid down on the beach short logs of the cylindrical trunk of the cocoa-nut tree, and drew the canoes over these natural rollers into the sea. Some of these songs were very short, as Iriti i mua, iriti i muri, e to, e to tau vaa ie: Lift up the stem, lift up the stern, and pull, and pull, my strong canoe. The song employed on the present occasion appeared rather a long one: I tried to comprehend its import, but, notwithstanding all the vociferation of the orator, it was recited with such rapidity, and there was so much din and clamour among the people, who on such occasions only put forth their strength in proportion to the noise which they make, that I could only now and then distinguish the word pahi, a large canoe or ship. Had I been able to hear more distinctly, it is probable that at that time I should not have understood the bard, as many words not in common use are found in their songs.
At length the vessel moved towards the sea, amid the shouts of the assembled multitudes. Before, however, she fairly floated, an accident occurred, which threw a damp over the spirits of all present. As she glided smoothly along towards the water, Pomare, who had stationed himself by the sea-side for the purpose, gave the vessel her name, by throwing a bottle of wine at her, and exclaiming, Ia ora na oe e Haweis, Prosperity to you, O Haweis. It having been agreed to designate the first vessel of any size built in the islands page 242 The Haweis, in honour of the late Dr. Haweis who was the steady friend of the South Sea Mission, and in some respects may be said to have been its founder.
The circumstance of the king's throwing the wine at the ship, the breaking of the bottle, the red wine spreading abroad, and the pieces of glass flying in every direction, startled the natives who were pulling the ropes on that side of the vessel. They immediately left hold of the ropes, and stood gazing in astonishment alternately at the king, and the place against which the bottle had been thrown. Those on the opposite side continued pulling with all their might, and soon drew the vessel on one side till she fell. One simultaneous cry, Aue te pahi e, Alas, the ship ! or Oh, the ship ! resounded in every direction, and the king seemed ot think she would never be launched. With great effort she was replaced, during the same afternoon, in an upright position, and subsequently launched upon the bosom of the Pacific, amid the exulting shouts of the multitudes who thronged the shores.
The Haweis was afterwards rigged, and employed in conveying the Missionary families to their respective stations; after which she made one or two very profitless voyages to New South Wales. On account of the heavy expenses attending every voyage, although it was of great importance to maintain a regular intercourse between the respective stations, and between the islands and the colony, it was found necessary to dispose or the ship, which had been built with so much cost and labour; she was sold in New South Wales, and is now employed in trading between Port Jackson and Van Diemen's Land.page 243
Although finishing the vessel, and printing, required the greater number of the Missionaries to continue in Eimeo, these duties did not detain the whole, but left several at liberty to extend, in some degree, their efforts. Matavai, the original Missionary station, was the first that was re-occupied. Mr. Wilson, one of the Missionaries who first landed from the Royal Admiral in 1801, resumed his labours here in the early part of 1818, within a quarter of a mile of the spot from which he had been obliged to fly when the Mission was broken up in the close of the year 1809, and not far from the place where Mr. Lewis was murdered.
Mr. Bicknell, accompanied by Mr. Tessier, formed a station under the auspices of Tati, in the populous district of Papara. A new station was also commenced by Mr. Crook and Mr. Bourne at Papaoa, in the district of Faa; and when the Haweis was finished, Mr. Darling joined Mr. Wilson at Matavai. At the urgent request of Utami, the chief of the populous district of Atehuru, he subsequently commenced a Mission among his people at Bunaauïa, or Burder's Point, whither Mr. Bourne also repaired.
The two stations at Eimeo being on opposite sides of the island, occasioned us frequent journeys from Afareaitu to Papetoai. These excursions, although they gave us an opportunity of examining more extensively the aspect of the country and the state of its inhabitants, often proved fatiguing. Sometimes we walked along the beach to Papeare, several miles to the north of our abode—ascended a low ridge of mountains, extending nearly to the sea—crossed the elevated eastern range—and continuing our way through the defiles and ravines of the interior mountains, page 244 descended on the opposite side of the island, and approached the shore near the inland boundary of Opunohu bay. At other times, we travelled round in the neighbourhood of the shore, alternately walking on the beach, or, proceeding in a light canoe, paddled along the shallow water near the shore. Occasionally we passed through the inland village of Tamae; and although, whenever we took this route, we had to walk three-quarters of a mile along the margin of the lake, up to our knees in water, yet we have always been amply repaid, by beholding the neatness of the gardens, and the sequestered peace of the village, by experiencing the generous hospitality, and receiving unequivocal proofs of the simple piety, of its inhabitants. Once or twice, when approaching Tamae about sunrise, we have met the natives returning from the bushes, whither by the break of day, they had retired for mediation and secret prayer. Their countenance beamed with peace and delight; and, Ia ora oe ia Iesu, Ia ora oe i te Atua —Peace to you from Jesus, Blessing on you from God—was the general strain of their salutation.
More than once we had to take our little boy, even before he was three months old, from Afareaitu, where he was born, to Papetoai, for medical advice.
These journeys were exceedingly wearisome: returning from one of them, night overtook us many miles before we reached our home; we travelled part of the way in a single canoe, but for several miles, where there was no passage between the reef and the shore, and the fragile bark was exposed without shelter to the long heavy billows of the Pacific, we proceeded along the beach, while the natives rowed the canoe upon the open page 245 sea. Two native female attendants alternately carried the child, while Mrs. Ellis and I walked on the shore, occasionally climbing over the rocks, or sinking up to our ankles in fragments of coral and sand. Wearied with our walk, we were obliged to rest before we reached the place where we expected to embark again. Mrs. Ellis, unable to walk any further, sat down upon a rock of coral, and gave our infant the breast, while I hailed the natives, and directed them to bring the canoe over the reef, and take us on board. Happily for us, the evening was fair, the moon shone brightly, and her mild beams, silvering the foliage of the shrubs that grew near the shore, and playing on the rippled and undulating wave of the ocean, added a charm to the singularity of the prospect, and enlivened the loneliness of our situation. The scene was unusually impressive. I remember distinctly my feelings as I stood, wearied with my walk, leaning on a light staff by the side of the rock on which Mrs. Ellis with our infant was sitting, and behind which our female attendants stood. On one side the mountains of the interior, having their outline edged, as it were with silver, from the rays of the moon, rose in lofty magnificence, while the indistinct form, rich and diversified verdure, of the shrubs and trees, increased the effect of the scene. On the other hand was the illimitable sea, rolling in solemn majesty its swelling waves over the rocks which defended the spot on which we stood. The most profound silence prevailed, and we might have fancied that we were the only beings in existence, for no sound was heard, excepting the gentle rustling of the leaves of the cocoa-nut tree, as the light breeze from the mountain swept through page 246 them, or the hollow roar of the surf, and the rolling of the foaming wave as it broke over the distant reef, and the splashing of the paddle of our canoe as it approached the shore. It was impossible, at such a season, to behold this scene, exhibiting impressively the grandeur of creation, and the insignificance of man, without experiencing emotions of adoring wonder and elevated devotion, and exclaiming with the psalmist, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”
The canoe at length reached the shore; we seated ourselves in its stern, and, advancing pleasantly along for seven or eight miles, reached our habitation about midnight.
As soon as the printing was finished, we prepared to remove to the island of Huahine, the most windward of the group properly called the Society Islands.
The king, and many of the chiefs of Tahiti and Eimeo, appeared to lament the removal of the press; but as Mr. Bourne, who was acquainted with the art of printing, had a small press and types, and others had been requested from England, it was the less to be regretted. The principal object attempted in the establishment of a station at Afareaitu having been accomplished, we left our houses and gardens, and took a most affectionate leave of our friends, who evinced great regret at our departure.
The season we had spent with them had been to us a period of no ordinary activity and excitement, and it would probably be regarded by them as an era in their history. We trust some page 247 advantage was derived from the instructions they had received; and we have every reason to remember, with pleasure, the hospitality and kindness we experienced. Once a week, the people of Maatea, a neighbouring district, brought our family a present of bread-fruit, and other articles of food; the inhabitants of Afareaitu, and the district of Teavaro, took a similar one to our companions. We reposed the most entire confidence in the people, and had no reason to regret even the exposure of our property. We were robbed by an English servant, whom we had taken from Port Jackson, of linen and clothing; but, although we had no lock, and for a long time no bolt on our door, (which, when fastened, a native could at any time have opened, by putting his hand through the sticks and pushing back the bolt, and though sometimes the door was left open all night,)—yet we do not know that one single article was stolen from us by the natives, during the eighteen months we resided among them.
I have visited the district only once since; and although welcomed with every expression of gladness by the people, I experienced a sensation of melancholy interest, in walking over the garden, the fences of which had been taken down, and a few flourishing shrubs only remained, to mark its situation. Most of the valuable plants had been removed by the people to their own gardens, as the spot selected by me was not one which they would have preferred. A few cocoa-nuts which I had planted near the printing-office appeared to thrive, as they were protected by a light fence round each of the trees.
When we were prepared to remove, the Haweis came round, took our goods, and the articles belonging page 248 to the printing-office, &c., on board, and proceeded to Papetoai, where we shipped our cattle. On the eighteenth of June, 1818, Mr Davies, Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Mr. and Mrs Orsmond, Mrs. Ellis, and myself, accompanied by a number of the principal chiefs, sailed from Eimeo to the Leeward Islands. We arrived at Huahine late on the evening of the following day, and some of our party went on shore, but it was not till the morning of the 20th that we reached the anchorage in Fare harbour.
Here I looked abroad with new and mingled emotions on the scene in which I was to commence my labours, and probably to spend the remainder of my life. The clear sky was reflected in the unruffled waters of the bay, which was bordered with a fine beach strewn with shells. The luxuriant convolvulus, presenting its broad and shining leaves in striking contrast with the white coral and sand, spread its vines across the beach, even to the margin of the water, over which the slender shrub or the flowering tree often extended their verdant branches, while the groves of stately breadfruit, and the clumps of umbrageous callophyllum, or tamanu trees, and the tall and graceful waving cocoa-nuts, shaded the different parts of the shore.
The district of Fa-re, bordering the harbour of the same name, is about a mile and a half, or two miles, in length, and reaches from the shore to the centre of the island. It is bounded on the south by a range of mountains separating it from the district of Haapape, and on the north by the small district of Buaoa, whence a long, bleak point of land, called the Faaao, extending a considerable distance into the sea, and covered with tall cocoanut page 249 trees, adds much to the beauty of the shore, and the security of the harbour. A ridge of inferior hills divides the district in the centre, and greatly increases the picturesque appearance of its scenery. A small river rises on the northern side of this ridge, and, flowing along the boundary between the two districts, meets the sea exactly opposite the northern entrance. Another stream, more broad and rapid, rises at the head of the principal valley, and flows in a circuitous course to the southern part of the bay. The district is well watered and wooded. The lower hills, at the time of our arrival, were clothed with verdure, and the mountains in the centre of the island, whose summits appeared to penetrate the clouds, were often entirely covered with trees. All was rich and luxuriant in vegetation, but it was the richness and the luxuriance of a wilderness; scarcely a trace of human culture could be seen, yet I could but think the scene
Were it but from sin refined:
Man how free, how happy here,
Were he pure as God is kind.”
A few native houses were visible: there were not probably more than ten or twelve in the district, and the inhabitants might be occasionally seen guiding the light canoe across the bay, or leisurely walking beneath the shade of the spreading trees. They were the rude untutored tenants of the place; their appearance and their actions were in perfect keeping with the scenes of wildness by which they were surrounded. The only clothing most of them wore was a girdly of cloth bound loosely round the waist, and a shade of cocoa-nut leaves over their foreheads. Notwithstanding this, it was page 250 impossible to behold without emotion either the scenery or inhabitants.
The Plate which forms the frontispiece to the third volume of this work, exhibits an accurate representation of the outline and character of the scenery in the north-eastern parts of the district and harbour, though taken at a period subsequent to our arrival, when the landscape had been improved by partially clearing the ground near the shore, and erecting a number of houses.
In the forenoon of the day after we came to anchor, accompanied by Matapuupuu, we walked through the district, in search of a house for Mr. Orsmond and myself, and at length selected one on the southern side of the bay, belonging to Taaroarii, the young chief of the island, while Mr. and Mrs. Williams were accommodated with another belonging to Maau, a raatira, who resided near the anchorage. Towards noon, our goods were most of them landed, and taken into our new habitation. It was a large oval building, standing within ten or twelve yards of the sea, without either partitions or even sides, consisting simply of a large roof, supported by three pillars along the centre, and a number round the sides. The floor was composed of stones, sand, and clay. Mr. and Mrs. Orsmond occupied one end, and we took up our abode in the other.
When our goods, &c. were all brought under its cover, and the boats had returned to the ship, we sat down to rest, and could not avoid gazing on the scene around us, before we began to adjust our luggage. Large fragments of rock were scattered at the base of the mountains that rose on one side of our dwelling, the sea rolled within a few yards on the other, and in each direction along the shore page 251 there was one wild and uncultivated wilderness. A pair of cattle, that we had brought from New South Wales, with a young calf, all of which had been landed from the ship during the morning, were tied to an adjacent bread-fruit tree; two or three milch goats from Eimeo, fastened together by bands of hibiscus bark tied round their horns, had already taken their station on the craggy projections at the foot of the mountain, and were cropping the herbage that grew in the fissures of the rocks. One of our little ones was smiling in the lap of its native nurse, while the other was playing on the dried grass lying by the side of the boxes on which we were sitting, and the natives, under the full influence of highly excited curiosity, thronged around us in such numbers as to impede the circulation of the air.
Our first effort was to prepare some refreshment. The chiefs had sent us a present of bread-fruit and fish. A native youth, fourteen or fifteen years of age, leaving the crowd, came forward, and asked if he should cook us some bread-fruit. We accepted his offer; he became a faithful servant, and continued with us till we removed from the islands. He fixed two large stones in the ground for a fire-place, and, bringing a bundle of dry sticks from the adjacent bushes, lighted a fire between the stones, upon which he placed the tea-kettle. While he was employed in dressing our bread-fruit, &c. we removed some of the boxes, piled up our luggage as compactly as we could, and, when the food was prepared, sat down to a pleasant repast of fried fish, bread-fruit, and plantains, cocoa-nut milk, and tea. As a beverage, we always preferred the latter, although the former is exceedingly pleasant.page 252
The large island of Raiatea lies immediately to the west of Fare harbour, and, by the time we had finished our meal, the sun was partly hid behind the high and broken summits of its mountains. This admonished us to prepare our sleeping-place, as the twilight is short, and we were not sure of procuring lights for the evening. The natives cut down four stout sticks from the neighbouring trees; these we fixed in the earthern floor, and fastening sheets and native cloth from one to the other, enclosed our bed-room; a couple of chests were carried into it, upon which we spread our bed, making up one for the children by the side of our own, on some packages that lay on the floor. We procured cocoa-nut oil, and when it grew dark, breaking a cocoa-nut in half, took one end, and winding a little cotton-wool round the thin stalk of the leaflet of the tree, fixed it erect in the kernel of the nut. This we filled with the oil, and thus our lamp and oil were entirely the production of the cocoa-nut tree; the small piece of cotton-wick gathered from the garden in Eimeo, being the only article it had not supplied. These were the only kind of lamps we had for some years, and, though rude in appearance, they gave a good light, when kept steady, and sheltered from the wind. Shortly, however, after sunset this evening, the land-breeze came down from the mountains. As we had no shelter for our lamp, we found it difficult to keep it burning, and at an early hour retired to rest, tying our screen down with strips of bark, to prevent its being blown aside by the wind. Notwithstanding the novelty of our situation, the exposure to the air from the mountains, the roaring of the heavy surf on the reefs, the inroads of dogs, pigs, and natives, with no other shelter than a pile page 253 of boxes; we passed a comfortable night, and rose refreshed in the morning, thankful for the kind protection we had experienced, gratified also to find that no article of our property had been stolen, though all was unavoidably exposed.
The island of Huahine had, in common with the others forming the leeward group, been visited by Mr. Nott, who had travelled round it, preaching to the inhabitants of the principal villages. The Missionaries who had been expelled from Tahiti in 1808, had remained here some months prior to their final departure for Port Jackson; but at these periods only a temporary impression had been made upon the minds of the people, which had in a great degree, if not altogether, subsided. After the abolition of idolatry in Tahiti and Eimeo, and the subsequent adoption of Christianity by their inhabitants, Mahine, the king of Huahine, had sent down Vahaivi, one of his principal men, with directions to the chiefs to burn the idols, demolish the temples, and discontinue the ceremonies and worship connected therewith. This commission was executed, and not only were their objects of worship destroyed, their temples thrown down, the houses of their idols consumed, and idol-worship no longer practised; but the rude stills employed in preparing ardent spirits from the sugarcane, and other indigenous productions, were either broken, or hid under ground. Intoxication, infant murder, and some of the more degrading vices, fostered under the sanction of their superstition, were also discontinued.
This change, although approved and effected by the principal chiefs on the islands, in conjunction with the messenger of the king, was nevertheless opposed. Several chiefs, of inferior influence, page 254 collecting their dependents, encamped on the borders of the lake near Maeva, and threatened to avenge the insult to the gods, by attacking the chiefs who had sanctioned their destruction. Both parties, however, after assuming a hostile attitude for some time, adjusted their differences, and returned in peace to their respective districts, mutually agreeing to embrace Christianity, and wait the arrival of the Missionaries, whose residence among them they had been led to expect. In this state we found them when we landed; they had, with the exception of one or two individuals, forsaken idolatry, and, in profession at least, had become Christians; probably without understanding the nature of Christianity, or feeling in any great degree its moral restraints or its sacred influence. A few, including two or three who had been to Eimeo, had acquired the elements of reading, or had learned to repeat the lessons in the spelling book, more from memory than acquaintance with spelling and reading; the rest remained nearly in the same state in which they were when visited in 1808 and 1809, excepting that their superstitious ceremonies were discontinued, and they had a building for the worship of the true God.
For a number of Sabbaths after our arrival, but few of the inhabitants assembled for public worship, and the schools were very thinly attended. Those who came were so little acquainted with the gospel, that in the lessons given in the school, and the addresses delivered to assemblies met for worship, it was found necessary to begin with the first principles of instruction, and of Christianity. Numbers excused themselves from attending, on account of the wearisomeness of learning their page 255 letters, when there was every reason to believe that unwillingness to conform to the precepts inculcated, was the true cause of disinclination. They neglected public worship, because they said they did not know how to read; this being considered a sufficient apology for the non-observance of the Sabbath, or the social duties of religion. Such neglect was also frequently used as a cover for wickedness. When spoken to on the impropriety of their conduct, they would sometimes answer, “We are not scholars,” or, “We are not praying people;” these being the terms employed to designate those who made a profession of religion. Many were induced to keep back from the schools, and the place of public worship, from a desire to remain free from those restraints on their vicious practices, which such profession of Christianity was considered to impose.
Under these circumstances we acted upon the principles by which our predecessors had invariably regulated their endeavours to teach the inhabitants of Tahiti and Eimeo; and respecting which, after careful observation, I believe we are unanimous in our conviction that they are the true principles upon which any attempts to instruct a rude untutored people can be prosecuted with a prospect of the greatest ultimate success. We made no presents to those who were our scholars, more than to others from whom we had experienced an equal degree of hospitality; we offered no reward to any one for learning, and held out no prospect of personal or temporal advantage to our pupils and hearers; and studiously avoided presenting any other inducements to learn, than the advantages that would be secured to our scholars themselves, by the possession of that knowledge, which page 256 we were not only willing but desirous to impart. At the same time we were most anxious, distinctly and powerfully to impress on their minds the desirableness and necessity of their possessing correct ideas of the true God—the means of seeking his favour through Jesus Christ the only Saviour—the happiness that would result there from in the present life, and in that state of existence after death, to which this was but preparative —together with the increase of knowledge and enjoyment that would attend their being able to read the printed books,—preserve whatever they heard that was valuable, by making it fast upon the paper,—and corresponding by letter with their friends at a distance, as familiarly and distinctly as if they were present. By representations such as these, we endeavoured to excite in their minds a desire to hear the Scriptures read, and the gospel preached, in the chapels, and to attend our instructions in the schools.
Had our means been ample, and had we, on landing, or when inviting the attention of the chiefs and people to the objects of our proposed residence among them, liberally distributed presents of cloth, ironmongery, &c. or even engaged in part to support the children that would receive our lessons, the chapel would undoubtedly have been well attended, and the scholars proportionably multiplied; but it would have been only from the desire to receive a constant supply of presents; a motive highly prejudicial to the individuals by whom it would have been indulged, destructive of the confort, and disastrous to the future labours of the Missionary among them. So long as our distributions had been frequent and increasingly valuable, the expressions of attachment would page 257 have been ardent, and the attendance regular; but when these had failed, their zeal, &c. would have declined, and the chapel and the school would have been deserted. In addition to this, whenever a fresh supply of articles, for our own maintenance or use, might have arrived, if we had not been equally liberal in the distribution of our presents, we should have been unhesitatingly charged with keeping for ourselves that which was designed for them, and thus have been involved in unpleasant altercation.
The plans of procedure, in the commencement of a new Mission, must necessarily be regulated in a great degree by the circumstances of the people among whom it may be established; and the extreme poverty, or fugitive habits, of the parents, may render it desirable for the teachers either wholly or in part to maintain the scholars, in order to secure attendance. These instances are, I believe, very rare, and absolute necessity alone can warrant recourse to such a plan. Instruction itself will be undervalued; it can never be attempted but on a very limited scale, and will be always liable to vexatious interruptions. A system of maintenance should only be adopted in regard to such pupils as it is hoped are under religious impressions, or are training with a view to their becoming monitors or schoolmasters themselves. In those parts of the world where the scholars could not be supported while at the schools, it would be better for them to devote a portion of their time to such employment as would enable them to procure the means of subsistence themselves, than that they should receive their maintenance from the Mission.
These remarks apply principally to the commencement page 258 of a Mission among an unenlightened people, where a school will be an essential part of such establishment; at subsequent periods, rewards to those who have excelled, consisting of books, penknives, inkstands, slates, or other articles connected with the pursuits of the school, may be given with a good effect, tending rather to stimulate to diligent enterprise, than to cherish a spirit of dependent indolence, or to excite expectations that never can be gratified.
In reference to presents made by Missionaries to chiefs, on their first settlement among an unenlightened people, I am disposed to think they are always injurious, when given with a view of gaining influence, or inducing their recipients to attend to religious instruction. Self-interest, or a desire for property, is the principle upon which the intercourse uncivilized persons have with foreigners visiting their country for purposes of commerce, &c. is regulated; the estimation in which such individuals are usually held, and the influence they exercise, is proportioned to the extent of their property, or the portions of it which the natives receive. Not a few instances have occurred among the islands of the Pacific, in which individuals, who, while their presents were unsparingly lavished upon the people, were regarded as kings and chiefs among them, but who, when they have experienced a reverse in their circumstances, have been treated with marked and contemptuous neglect. An equal degree of this kind of influence, the means of the Missionary will never enable him to gain among the people, nor ought he for a moment to desire it. Discouraging indeed will be his prospects, if the estimation in which he is held by those among whom he labours be only that page 259 which arises from their expectation of the presents he may make them. His influence must be of a higher order, if he desires to succeed.
The effect of a present on the mind of a rude or partially civilized chieftain is instantaneous, but it requires constant repetition, or increase, to prevent its decline. The influence which a Missionary will aim to possess is more difficult to attain; but when once possessed, is of exceedingly greater value. It is the result of a conviction in the minds of the people, that his ultimate aim is their welfare; that he comes among them to promote, not his own, but their interest; and that his efforts tend to increase their knowledge and their enjoyments, and are adapted to put them in possession of the means of multiplying their comforts in this life, and leading them to future blessedness.
To produce and sustain this conviction in the minds of the people around him, should be among the first and the constant endeavours of a Missionary. Until he has effected this, he can expect but little success; and when once, under the blessing of God, it is attained, one of the greatest difficulties in his way will be removed. This influence is not to be obtained by presents; these, the most rude and untutored heathen know, are seldom given unless an equivalent is expected in return; but it is to be gained by a full, plain, and explicit statement of his objects in the commencement of his work, and a uniform reference, in all his subsequent conduct, to the advancement of these objects. Uncivilized communities are often most shrewd observers of the conduct of those who enter their society, and pay far more regard to the actions and dispositions, than the mere declarations, of strangers. Singleness of aim, and purity page 260 of motive, imbodied, before such observers, in undeviating and disinterested efforts, will in general be appreciated, although they may not soon yield themselves up to the influence of those efforts.
One of the most effectual means of implanting and preserving this impression is, the exhibition of uniform benevolence. The office and the aim of every Missionary require the exercise of this disposition in the highest degree; and he who would be successful, should by this identify himself, as far as possible, with the objects of his regard. Without officiously interfering with their individual or family affairs, he should interest himself in their welfare, and strive to share and alleviate their distress. Besides the deep commiseration, which their spiritual wretchedness will excite, he will often find their temporal afflictions and sorrows such as to claim his tenderest sympathy. “Kindness is the key to the human heart;” when the spirit is softened or subdued under the influence of sufferings, it is often most susceptible of salutary impression; and the exercise of Christian sympathy and kindness, in such a season, will seldom fail to produce, even among the most barbarous tribes, highly favourable results.
In mere casual visits, or journeys through the countries of uncivilized tribes, presents to their chiefs are necessary, and often desirable, even where a Missionary is a permanent resident; but they should always be given as a token of friendship and personal respect from the Missionary, or of good-will from some friends by whom they may have been sent, and not as a means of obtaining influence, or inducing the people to attend to instruction.