Life in Feejee, or, Five Years among the Cannibals
Departure for a Second Voyage to Feejee—Arrival at New Zealand— Death of Two Missionaries—Departure from New Zealand—Arrival at Feejee—Trials of the Missionaries—The Gale.
|Oct. 12, 1848||
After remaining at home for the space of four months, I was induced to trust myself again on the mighty waters, and accompany my husband in his search for the riches of this world. As I left my readers to imagine our joyous meeting with friends from whom we had been so long absent, I will leave them to imagine the parting scene. It is not my purpose to attempt a description of either.
We embarked on board the bark Zotoff, belonging to S. Chamberlain & Co., of Salem, bound to New Zealand, Feejee, &c. Mr. J. F. Lovett serves as first, and Mr. C. Fornis as second officer. J. Derby, who sailed and performed the last voyage as a boy, now re-shipped as a sailor. Mr. W. finding it impossible to furnish his boys with pies, cakes, and milk for coffee and tea, has carefully avoided engaging any more of the Salem pets, but has two boys supplied by the city missionary. It was" not his purpose to be troubled with any, but on receiving a promise that he would break no mothers' hearts, he consented to receive them. One is only twelve years of age,—a mere child. Phebe, the Feejeean girl, is to serve as stewardess. She was highly delighted with all she saw in America. The cook and two of the sailors are Salem men; the rest of the crew are foreigners.
We arrived at New Zealand. Nothing unusual occurred during our voyage. The lives and health of all page 314have been spared, we have crossed the ocean in safety, and our anchor is once more cast near the land.
The town at the Bay of Islands was mostly destroyed in 1844 by the natives of this part of the island; but as we came in sight of it, I observed that several new buildings had been erected, which gave signs that there were civilized people in the place. We also observed that the little Episcopal chapel, and the parsonage belonging to it, had been left standing by the ruthless despoiler; also the church and buildings belonging to the Roman Catholics.
Our anchor was not down when we were visited by Mr. Bateman, the harbor-master, who cordially invited us to make his house our home during our stay. The residence of Mr. B, and Jady is situated at about half the distance to the top of Flag-Staff Hill, and looks very pretty and romantic, but we found the way truly toilsome. We were met at the door by Mr; and Mrs. B., and introduced to several ladies and gentlemen. During the evening we were informed by Mr. B. that our esteemed friend, Rev. J. Hunt, died in Feejee sometime during the last October, and that his family had arrived in Auckland, on their return to England.
During our residence in Feejee, I had been in the family of Mr. Hunt for nearly a year, and had an opportunity of becoming well acquainted with the many excellencies of his character, and had become much attached to him and his truly estimable wife. The news of his death filled our hearts with sadness.
|21.||Capt. Wright called upon us. He invited Mr. W. and myself to spend the morrow with his family at his residence, a little above the Wapoa. I spent most of the day in writing letters to friends at home.page 315|
|22.||Mr. W. and myself started in the boat, to pay our promised visit to Mr. Wright and family. We enjoyed a delightful sail up the river on which the little village of Wapoa is situated. There is a small military force stationed at Wapoa. On our arrival at the residence of Capt. W., we were warmly received by him, and his lady and daughter. We spent a most delightful day, were regaled with pears, apples and grapes, and were presented with apples to take to the vessel. Capt. Wright lost a large amount of property during the rebellion of the natives in 1844.|
|23.||I visited the spot once occupied as the residence of Capt. Clayton, in company with Mrs. B. The pretty cot had been destroyed, our friends had departed, and nothing was left of former days but two centennial plants and a rose geranium. I plucked a slip from the latter, intending to plant it. in a strange soil. Capt. C. and family saved nothing but the clothes they wore at the time the natives destroyed the place. We walked over the grounds that were once so prettily decorated and owned by Mr. Caflin. There was now no little basket of strawberries, nor splendid boquet of flowers to be offered; a little, very little hedge of hawthorn was all that was left. We passed on and soon arrived at the parsonage. The garden fence was gone,—the beautiful plants and shrubs were all destroyed,—the pretty lattice, that once supported the honeysuckle and rose,—all,—all were gone. The little building, once occupied by the happy and devoted minister of the gospel, as a study, was now a place of shelter for the goats. We entered the piazza; the wind sounded mournfully through the house, the shutters to the windows were rattling, and every thing spoke of desolation. Here, there seemed to be something left that affected the mind even more sadly than page 316the places we had previously visited. Where are those happy countenances that once met us at the now closed doors? One has been called from her earthly joys and sorrows to join the saints on high, white her companion is, it is feared, a confirmed lunatic. Such are life's changes!|
|27.||We took leave of our very kind friends, Mr. and Mrs. Bateman, and reembarked on board our floating, but hitherto safe home. We were kindly furnished by them with various plants and shrubs from their garden to take with us to Feejee. We shall ever remember their kindness. Should they wander to a strange land, may they ever meet with the kindness they have so liberally bestowed upon us.|
Anchored at Motureke after a passage of ten days from New Zealand. Mr. Whippy, being on his way to Bau, left his canoe and came on board. He informed us that the Salem brig, Tim Pickering, was wrecked at Levuka during a severe gale, which occurred on the 5th of April, 1848. A schooner belonging to some of the white residents of Feejee was lost at the same time. Rev. Dr. Lyth was a passenger, but left the schooner and went on board the Tim Pickering at the commencement of the gale, and thus his life was providentially saved, as were the lives of all those who were on board the brig. The schooner was manned by three, two of whom were drowned; the third was a son of Mr. Whippy. He jumped into the sea before the schooner went to pieces, where he sustained himself by swimming from nine o'clock in the morning till four o'clock the next morning, when he struck his hand against some solid substance, which proved to be the little boat that had belonged to the schooner. He kept hold of it for some time, but it was full of water, and, as page 317he had no means of freeing it, he let it go, finding it easier to sustain himself without it. He had now been one day and night in the sea, and the storm still continued in all its violence; but "Hope on, hope ever" seemed to be his motto; fear never entered his heart, nor did his physical strength seem to abate; he merely kept himself afloat, and the tide drifted him where it listed. About daylight the waves cast him on a reef, where he thought he could rest till the tide rose. He could perceive no land, and his only prospect was to commit himself again to the watery element, as the coming tide would soon compel him to leave the reef. He had not been in this situation long, however, before he perceived a dark object approaching the spot where he was resting, which proved to be the little boat before mentioned. On, on it came, and seemed to say, "I will not forsake thee." David freed it from water with his hands; there was one thole-pin left, which exactly fitted for a plug to the hole in the bottom of the little ark. David embarked, and without sail, oar, or paddle, once more committed himself to the raging elements, where he was drifted and driven about for two days and two nights, when the storm abated, and he found himself near land.
Here other perils awaited him, and now fear entered his mind. He knew that it was an invariable custom for all Feejeeans to murder the shipwrecked, and he had no reason to believe that he would be spared. He landed, however, and hid himself in the bush, where he was soon found by a native. David told him who he was, and the native desired him to remain where he was till he returned to the town and informed the chief. "No," said David, "you intend to bring other men, to kill and eat me here without the knowledge of the chief. I shall page 318go with you to the town; if I am killed, it shall be by the orders of the chief, and then my father will know what to do about it."
On their arrival at the town, a scene of confusion ensued. Some were for killing and eating the poor lad at once, others were in favor of deferring the butchery for a time, and the exhausted boy was near being torn in pieces by the contending parties, and he began to feel that it would have been better to have perished in the waters than to fall into the hands of these merciless savagea who were thus thirsting for his emaciated body. He had not, however, been saved from the storm and flood to serve as food for cannibals; here, too, was a way of deliverance appointed by Him who had saved the life of the lad thus far. A chief of another tribe was present during the confusion, and I presume he must have been a "vasu "to the place, as he claimed David for his own, and thus put an end to the contention.
After his liberation, the chief inquired his name, &c. David told him that he was the son of the Mata ge Mbau at Solavu. "Then I possess a prize," said the chief; "you shall be restored to your father." The chief soon took him home. The father received him as one restored from death. Great was the rejoicing,—the fatted hog was killed, the deliverer and his followers were feasted, and on their departure were loaded with valuable presents by the grateful parent. David had drifted to the distance of about seventy miles from the place where the unfortunate schooner was anchored, and about ten or twelve from Solavu, where his father resided.
The "Levuka people first took possession of the property belonging to the Tim Pickering, but it was eventually claimed and given up to Bau.page 319
We learn that the mission of Feejce has been variously afflicted since we left. Mrs. Hazlewood, wife of Rev. D. Hazlewood, died the last week, of dysentery, leaving an infant two weeks old. Mr. H. is stationed at Nandy. Two little girls are also deprived of a mother's affection and care by this afflicting dispensation.
Another event has occurred which it gives me more pain to record than the death of the righteous. Mr. Jaggar, who has labored so indefatigably and with so much apparent sincerity for the space of ten years in the ministry of the gospel, has committed a most grievous sin, has been deposed from the ministry, and has gone to New Zealand with his family.
We arrived off Bau and Vewa, but were obliged to remain several hours on board after the vessel was anchored, before the tide would serve for our landing at Vewa, and it was nearly dark before we reached its shores. Dr. Lyth, with his family, met us on the shore. The tide was not yet full, and we were obliged to step from the boat on to a canoe in order to land. My mind was entirely occupied with the sad changes that had taken place since we parted from the kind friends who had now assembled to greet us on our return. Mr. W. was leading me across the canoe, and cautioning me to be careful of my steps, but I did not hear or attend to the caution, my feet slipped and I fell, receiving a violent blow on my chest from a cross bar of the canoe. When I arose from my muddy bed, I presume I could not have been taken for a Naiad. I was conducted to the house in my elegant plight, and made as comfortable as possible; but I continued to suffer from the effects of the severe blow I had received.
Rev. Mr. Calvert has removed to Vewa with his family, and occupies the late residence of Mr. Hunt. Mr. page 320C. has gone to Nandy to bring the two little motherless girls of Mr. Hazlewood to Vewa. Mrs. C, whom we had not seen before, soon came in.
We learned that Rev. Mr. Watsford and family had removed to Lakemba, and that they had suffered much during the past year. Their little girl had died from the effect of ili-treatment received from a Feejeean girl that had been employed by Mrs. W. to assist her in taking care of the child. As the girl always appeared kind, the parents had no suspicion that any thing was wrong, although their babe became sickly, and would often scream as if in great distress. The parents brought it to Vewa, that it might have the benefit of Dr. Lyth's advice; but no one seemed to understand the disease. The child lingered for some months, when an eruption appeared in its side, and in two weeks after the exposure and fright during a severe gale of February last, the little sufferer died. The girl, who had assisted in its care, confessed that she had often, when displeased about any thing, squeezed the dear babe in her arms with all her strength, thus injuring it internally, and no doubt causing its death.
After spending some time in company with our friends, we returned to the bark. Mr. and Mrs. Lyth and Mrs. Calvert kindly invited me to reside with them while we remained in Feejee. I had decided to accompany my husband to the Ba coast, but accepted their invitation for the time that we should remain in the vicinity.
This morning, with a sad heart I revisited my once happy home, No alteration was to be seen in the interior of the house, and the furniture was the same as when I left; but those who had said, "My dear Mrs. W., I think that we shall meet again in this life," were not there. The little girl who had stretched out her page 321arms and said, " Me kith aunty Wathy," was nowhere to be seen. One had entered his glorious rest,—the others had departed,—all seemed dead to me.
The following account of the last days of our lamented friend, is from the copy of a letter written by Mr. Calvert to Rev. Dr. Hannah of England, who was the theological tutor of Mr. Hunt. The letter is long, giving a summary of the birth, conversion, education, ministry, &c., of Mr. Hunt, which I shall not copy entire. " On the 6th of September I arrived at Vewa, by the Wesley, from Lakemba. I found brother Hunt able to sit on the sofa, and walk over the room with a stick; but very much shattered by his frequent attacks, and continued disease.
On the 7th I had a long conversation with him. He spoke of his very severe attack of illness. After the removal of his paroxysm, on the 9th of August, he entered into a full consideration of his state. He said,—'I had most humbling views of my own nothingness and uselessness which distressed me, until it came to my mind powerfully, as if the Lord had spoken it to me, Are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you; for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.' 'After that the Lord would not allow me to reproach myself, but manifested himself to me in a surprising manner, and I seemed overwhelmed and filled with the love of God. My will was completely lost in God's will.' At the same time, he said, 'I feet my work is done.'
On the 17th, I read, at brother Hunt's request, the 9th and 10th of Hebrews. After prayer he said, 'I never had such views and hold of the Saviour as I have in this illness. I feel him to be a perfect Saviour.'
On the 26th he had been confined to his bed a week, 21 page 322and was very much reduced. I read the 17th of John and prayed. He was much engaged in devotion during prayer. Towards the close, he began to weep. After we rose from our knees, his weeping continued and increased, until at length he burst out crying aloud, 'Lord, bless Feejee! save Feejee! Thou knowest my soul has loved Feejee. My heart has travailed in pain for Feejee.' Mrs. Hunt and myself were gratified with the outburstings of what always filled his heart; but we knew his weakness would not admit of such great exertion, therefore, we tried to prevent him. I said, 'The Lord knows you love Feejee. We know, the Feejeean Christians know, and heathens of Feejee know it too. You labored hard for Feejee when you were strong. Now you are so weak you must be silent. God will save Feejee. He is saving Feejee.' For a short time he wept aloud; but again, unable to suppress his emotions, he wept and called aloud, with great vehernency, grasping me firmly with one hand, and raising the other, exclaimed, 'Oh, let me pray once more for Feejee! Lord, for Christ's sake, bless Feejee! save Feejee! save thy servants! save the heathen! save thy people in Feejee! ' His full heart was overpowered, and he would gladly have agonized beyond his strength, as he had labored, in behalf of Feejee; but we insisted upon his giving up and being" easy.
On the 28th he said, 'For two days I can think only of Paul's language,—' I am in a strait betwixt two.' If needful for my family and the church, I shall be raised up again. I have no choice. I am resigned to the will of God. I am more,—I love the will of God. He rules.' I said, 'If we ruled, we should keep you; but He knows best.' 'Yes,' was his reply. 'He is my ruler, my protector. He will soon make it up in many ways.'page 323
At daylight, on the 4th of October, we found brother Hunt exceedingly weak. We assembled round his bed. He said, 'How strange! I cannot realize that I am dying; and yet you all look as if I were. If this be dying, praise the Lord.' At his request brother Lyth read the 14th of John. He engaged with his wonted earnestness in prayer. He desired again and again to be left alone. His mind, which retained all its vigor to the last, was fully engaged, his eyes uplifted, and his lips moving. I said, 'The Lord is faithful and keeps you.' 'Yes,' he replied. About one o'clock he said, 'It is a solemn thing to die,—very solemn.' I said, 'Mr. Wesley, in dying, clung to Jesus, and you do.' 'Yes/ he replied, with solemnity. 'I cling to Jesus, and am right. I have nothing else to look to. He is all I have to trust in. If I look from Him, I am in a vortex,—have doubts and condemnation. I have full faith in Him. I have peace and pardon through Him. I have no disturbance at all.' His whole soul was engaged with the Lord. He cried aloud, 'Oh, Lord, my Saviour! Jesus!' More than usual earnestness marked his countenance. Shortly after this wrestling with the God of all grace and consolation, his complacent smile bespoke gratitude and joy. Then he appeared to be engaged in meditation. Again he spoke: —'I want strength to praise Him abundantly!—I am very happy.'
About eight o'clock in the morning, after being informed of the approach of death, he said to Mrs. Hunt, 'Oh, for one more baptism!' She then asked him if he had received a fresh manifestation. His reply was, 'Yes; hallelujah!' and added, 'I do not depend on this (significantly shaking his head). I bless the Lord. I trust in Jesus.' Soon after he said, 'Now He is my joy. I thought I should have entered heaven singing, 'Jesus page 324and salvation.' Now I shall go singing, 'Jesus, salvation and glory,—eternal glory.' He then settled down, saying many times, 'Hallelujah!'
He delivered messages to the chiefs, the people, his brethren and sisters; prayed for his children, desiring them to obey and imitate their mother; affectionately commended his much beloved partner to the guidance of Divine Providence; prayed for God's blessing on a faithful servant, who had been with him ever since his arrival in Feejee; and then desired me to pray.
About three o'clock, P. M., he grasped me and turned on his side, and after breathing with difficulty for about twenty minutes, his spirit departed to eternal blessedness.
The natives flocked to see the remains of their beloved minister. A neat coffin was made, and covered with black cloth, on which was inscribed:—
Early on the morning of the 5th, the principal chief of Bau arrived, with many attendants. He was impatient to see the remains; and was evidently much affected with brother Hunt's message, and the account we gave of his end."
It seems mysterious to us that so good and faithful a servant in the vineyard of the Lord should be called thus early from his labors. In these he was truly abundant, as I was a witness while an inmate of his happy family. He seldom retired to rest before twelve o'clock at night, and always rose at early dawn. Every department of the mission received a portion of his care. With some assistance, he translated the New Testament into the page 325Feejeean language, translated hymns, prepared catechisms, instructed a class of young men in theology, and prepared them for native teachers. He attended to the erection of two commodious buildings; and the sick received his constant care till Dr. Lyth's removal to Vewa. The amount of labor which he accomplished was truly astonishing; but his heart was in his work, and he never seemed to grow weary or tire. Every one loved him, for he was the friend of all. Mr. Calvert states with truth, "That he gained much influence every where, and with almost every body. In his intercourse with chiefs, heathen and Christian people, captains of ships, foreigners, his brethren,—every one,—he was most happy; and was successful in doing good to an immense extent. The effects of his life, voyaging, prayers, preaching, conversation, &c., are on a broad basis, and will doubtless tell much as long as Feejee exists."
|9.||Vewa has changed much in its appearance during the past year. Many of the former houses were blown down during the severe hurricanes of February and April, and others have been erected in their stead. The large house belonging to the chief, and the little "buri" of his son, were destroyed, and smaller houses have, in part, replaced them. The chapel was also destroyed.|
Though feeling very unwell, and still suffering from the effects of the blow which I received on landing, I attended service in the chapel. The rude pulpit is covered with black, and every object reminds me of him who has gone to his rest.
After the conclusion of the services, I visited the grave of our lamented friend. He lies interred just back of the chapel. A neat fence surrounds the grave, and white sea shells cover it. I felt, as I gazed upon the page 326narrow bed, that I sorrowed more on account of his loss than I rejoiced in his happiness.
Dr. Lyth conducted all the religious services of the day,—both English and native. There was no one to preach on board the Zotoff.
It has rained at Vewa some part of every day for the last six months. I can scarcely get an opportunity to go out of doors, as the mud does not get dried from one shower to another. This morning Mr. W. sent for me to come to the bark, if I was able, as Thakombau and lady wished to see me. The man who brought the message had dressed himself in a neat suit of white, to wait upon me to the vessel. He succeeded in handing me safely over the stile, but on going over himself, he slipped, fell into the yellow mud, and decorated his clean suit finely. He looked mortified, but there was no help for it; the tide was fast receding, and he must go with me as he was.
I found our royal visitors in a most gracious humor. They, with their numerous attendants, passed the day on board. The Bauans have rebuilt Rcwa, and are ready to crown Phillips king of the place, but he has not the courage to reside there, on account of his brother, Garenggeo, who still resides in the mountains. Thakombau has commenced building a stone house for himself, but as there is only one mason at work, it will not go up as speedily as buildings of that sort are erected in America.
|18.||Navinde, with his lady, visited us to-day. This visiting of the chiefs, accompanied by their principal wives, is quite a new thing in Feejee. It has never been known till quite lately, and, as yet, has only been done by Thakombau and Navinde. I have had visitors from Bau nearly every day, and some presents. My page 327namesake, too, and the wife of Elijah are constant visitors. Their words are invariably after the word of salutation. "Sa mate Mr. Hunt. Mrs. Hunt sa lako." "Mr. Hunt is dead. Mrs. Hunt is gone."|
There were no religious services, as Dr. Lyth is ill with the dysentery, attended with considerable fever. Two of their children are also sick. Their residence can scarcely be healthy in the rainy season, as its locality is low and damp. Mrs. Calvert has invited the family to spend some time at the Vale Kau, thinking that the change may prove beneficial to them all.
We have laid out a pretty garden spot in front of the piazza at the Vale Kau, but I sadly fear that the plants brought from New Zealand will rot in the ground before they take root, on account of the quantity of rain that falls daily.
|23.||Namosimalua is absent from Vewa the most of the time, his wife having left him to reside with her friends in Bau. She endured much from his tyrannical disposition before leaving him. Soon after she left, Elijah persuaded her to return; but instead of being received with kindness by her husband, he met her with the most severe reproofs and accusations till she became nearly maddened, fled from the house, and leaped from the precipice near which the house stands. She was taken up senseless, and carried back to Bau. She has not yet recovered from the effects of her fall. She has been much blamed for leaving her tyrant; but I think she is more to be pitied than blamed. Obliged to be the wife of one that she could never love, she has endured his brutality for years, till endurance could scarcely be called a virtue. For ten years she has adorned the religion that she has professed; but in a moment of temptation she has brought a wound upon the cause by page 328her attempt at self-destruction. I have not seen her, as she does not come to Vewa, and I have not been able to go to Bau.|
Elijah has returned from Ba, where he has been since our arrival, and arrangements are making for him to accompany us on that coast, to assist, by his influence with the chiefs, in collecting our cargo.
Of the deep piety and devotion of Elijah, all speak in the highest terms. Even the white residents, who formerly spoke of his religion as being "all a humbug," are now compelled to acknowledge that he, who was a most relentless cannibal, is now "a bright and shining light."
Mrs. Calvert has given me some account of the sufferings of Mr. and Mrs. Hazlewood at Ono during the gale of April last. It appears that the profusion of musquitoes at Ono renders the place at times almost insupportable. No rest is to be had, day or night. Mr. H. had built a little house on a very small uninhabited island, on a reef situated at some distance from Ono, or far enough from the large island to discourage the musquitoes from undertaking a journey to the place. Here the family were in the habit of retiring, to rest a little from their tormentors.
At the commencement of the gale, Mr. Hazlewood went to Ono to preach, and the winds became so furious that he could not return to his family. He could only look towards the little island which held his dearest earthly treasures, with fear that the billows were about to cover it, and pray to God to save them. Besides Mrs. H. and the children, there were two or three native women and one man only on the reef. About midnight their house was blown down, and they fled to a little place that had been built to cook in; from this, page 329however, they were soon driven by the waves of the sea. They then fled to a part of the island that was a little more elevated, the natives made a shelter of leaves, and they remained in this situation for two days, till the storm abated, and the anxious and distressed husband rejoined his suffering family, Mr. H. could perceive from the large island that the house was gone, and for two days he had feared that all his dear ones had been swept away by the flood; his meeting with them again, was like their being restored from the grave. Since then, one of their children has died. At the last District Meeting the family removed to Nandy, where Mrs. H. died.
Dr. Lyth and family are now visitors at the Vale Kau. He is very feeble, and we are anxious about him. The children are somewhat better. The faithful man who served the family of Mr. Hunt many years, often calls to see me. He says, "You loved Mr. and Mrs. Hunt greatly, and so did I, and when I look upon you, I feel that I must see them too."
The British man-of-war, Calypso, paid a short visit to this group a few months' since. They burned the town on Vetelavu belonging to the chief who murdered the two white men while we were on our late voyage to Feejee. Being short of provisions, they did not attend to the other cases.
|April 1.||Mr. Calvert arrived last night from Nandy with two of the little Hazlewoods. There are now ten children at the Vale Kau, all under eight years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Calvert are desirous that Dr. Lyth and family should reside here permanently, while they remove to the Vale Vatu.|