Samoa Under the Sailing Gods
Chapter v — Foreign Influences
In the year 1839 the Navigators Islands were visited by the United States Exploring Expedition under Commander Wilkes.
He proceeded to Tutuila and had the privilege of attending Mr. Murray's church. Here Wilkes saw the wife of a leading chief becomingly arrayed in a few little presents the Americans had given her. "These consisted of a red calico gown, four or five petticoats of different colours, woollen socks, green slippers, cap and bonnet, a large plaid blanket shawl, and a pair of polar gloves, the whole surmounted by a flaming red silk umbrella." The thermometer stood at eighty-seven. "It was difficult to keep our eyes off her during the service, and before the end of it, all her finery became awry." But this was by no means solitary evidence of the work of grace in that particular direction. At Apia, in due course, Commander Wilkes met Malietoa. He wore "pantaloons, a round jacket, and a pink-and-white-striped cotton shirt." A delightful contrast indeed to his appearance as when first seen by John Williams!
A printing-press, said Wilkes, had been established by the London Mission at Upolu, and rapid progress was making in the translation of the Scriptures, of which some portions were already published. Many publications had been issued from this press; among them he regretted to observe a small tract containing a violent attack upon the Roman Catholics. "The sole object of this tract was to prepossess the minds of the natives against the missionaries of the Papal Church, in case they should visit these islands." This struck him as being at variance with the first principles of the Christian religion, and he could not refrain from expressing an opinion that the tract was calculated to do much harm.page 60
Wilkes computed that about two-thirds of the whole population belonged to the Christian party. In different trips across Upolu, many of the "Devil's," or unconverted, settlements were visited, where the Americans were always treated with extreme hospitality. A party, it was said—and it holds good to this day—entering a village, go without inquiring how or where they are to be entertained, and take up their quarters in the great house, or fale-tele. In a short time the chief and principal personages collect and visit the strangers, telling them in a set speech the pleasure they enjoy at their arrival and their delight to entertain them. This was mostly said in what they termed "Talagota," or speech of the lips, and much complimentary language ensued. The Samoan language, Wilkes remarked, abounded in phrases adapted to this use, and worthy of a refined people. After this interchange of compliments, the young women assembled to treat the strangers to kava. During this time the young men were employed collecting and cooking food. This was all done with great despatch. The pigs were killed; taro collected; the oven heated; and baskets made to hold the viands. In the feast they were well assured of sharing, and therefore had a strong stimulus to exertion, for the strangers on receiving the food always returned a part of it to the entertainers. Thus all the village was occupied with the entertainment, and a scene of frolicking ensued until the visitors saw fit to take their departure. Among the "heathen," dancing always followed this feast; but the Christian villages had abandoned all dancing.
The females, it was recorded, frequently used to wear a wreath of flowers, which gave them a picturesque and pleasant appearance; "but the use of flowers as ornaments has been interdicted by the missionary teachers." Among other prohibitions, it seems, was bathing on the Sabbath.
Many whitewashed houses, we are told, were now to be seen, for the natives had been taught the use of lime by the missionaries, and were beginning to use it in their dwellings. "All the missionaries' houses have plastered walls, and board floors, and are very comfortable."
On the far-distant occasion of a Tongan invasion of Upolu, when numbers of Samoans had been enslaved and set to the abhorred task of making roads, a young chieftain roused them to revolt, and the Tongans were at length, in front of fierce fighting, driven into the sea. Preparing to depart, the leader of the invaders is supposed to have made an admission from which the name of Malietoa took its rise. Standing up in the stern of his canoe as it put to sea, he addressed himself to the Samoan leader as follows: "Un malie tau, ua Malie toa"—"I am pleased with your fighting, and satisfied with your bravery. I shall now leave Samoa, and return to Tonga to stay." On this the man thus addressed changed his name, as custom allowed, and adopted that of Malietoa—"Satisfied with your bravery"—in commemoration of the compliment paid to him.
The great Malietoa, Mataafa, and Muangututi'a families constitute the aristocracy of Samoa, to one of whom every chief is allied, no matter what his rank or title may be. The kingship of Samoa rested—and I suppose would still rest—in the title of O-le-Tupu. This comprised the possession by one individual of five distinct Ao, or names, each in the gift of a different important province. For a long period of years the possession of the title of O-le-Tupu was confined to members of the Muangututi'a family; but on the death of the last of that line the title remained vacant for a considerable interval; and was at length usurped by a war-priest of Manono, named Tamafainga. It was the death of this gentleman that had occasioned the good missionaries such wild rejoicing on their first arrival at Samoa.
Some time after Tamafainga's death, and the introduction of Christianity, the five titles were conferred upon Malietoa, who was the first of his name or family to attain to the kingship. His power, says Stair—from whom I obtained most of the foregoing information—although great, was less than that exercised during the reigns that had preceded him.
"whether they found him seated in conclave with friends and attendants in front of his dwelling, or amongst his family within, they immediately entered his presence, and, laying aside the usual etiquette, remained standing before him, whilst they proclaimed his accession to the title, each member of the deputation successively shouting five times running, with a loud voice, the war-cry of U-u-u, the last syllable being very much prolonged. This portion of the ceremony completed, the deputies immediately prepared to return; but they were usually requested to remain whilst some valuable mats were brought forth and laid before them. After this they returned to their companions to announce the fulfilment of their mission, leaving the chief to enjoy the congratulations of his friends upon his having acquired the much-coveted dignity."
After a week or two had elapsed, all the principal chiefs and orators of Aana would go in a body to pay their respects to the recipient of their Ao. They would take with them a quantity of food, a water-bottle made from a coconut-shell, the bundle of raffia used as a strainer, and the tanoa, or kava-bowl: for without kava-drinking no sort of ceremony can be conducted in Samoa. After the meeting the chief was publicly recognized as O-le-Tui Aana, or the Lord of Aana.
Aana having conferred its title, and the other provinces having followed suit, the chief then assumed the title of O-le-Tupu-o-Samoa, and shortly after commenced a circuit of the islands, to receive the homage and congratulations of the various districts. The announcement "Ua afio mai le Tupu"—"The King is approaching"—says Stair, caused great bustle and excitement in the different settlements, in way of preparation for the expected visit.
During the royal progress, he continued, the Tupu was accompanied by a large number of attendants and followers, who were accustomed to act in a very arbitrary manner: damaging the plantations through which they passed and laying violent hands upon whatever they chose to take, whether pigs, poultry, or vegetables.
The king, we are told, was preceded by his cupbearer, who page 63also carried a large conch-shell, which he frequently blew to announce the approach of the Tupu, who followed after at some distance on foot, accompanied by his principal wife, who usually carried a birdcage containing his manu alii or chief's bird. A considerable space then was allowed to intervene between the king and his retinue, who followed according to their rank. Large quantities of food—pigs, vegetables, fish—were presented at various periods to the king by the different districts, in return for which numbers of valuable fine mats were bestowed upon the families which had given the food. These mats were called tonga, and represented the currency of the islands.
Malietoa died in 1841. Among the writings of the Rev. G. A. Lundie, I find the following, dated June 30, 1840, at Pango-Pango:
"Sunday morning's discourse was particularly directed to inquirers. In the afternoon Maliatoa, the high chief refugee from Upolu, was, among others, taken out. He has been a very stupid and very wicked man. He is elderly, and I think the largest man I ever saw—a perfect giant. His legs and arms are of monstrous size, much too large for his huge body. Poor fellow! he tottered to the door, supported by two or three men, and then fell. He has been with Mr. Murray two or three times since, and seems really a subject of the work of the Spirit. The Sabbath-school was one scene of weeping towards the end."
I am unable to affirm definitely that this was the king of all Samoa; but it undoubtedly would seem to have been. Whoever he was, it may be taken that he had fallen foul of the mission in Upolu, and was endeavouring to make his peace.
Anyway, Malietoa, the Tupu of Samoa, died in 1841. On his deathbed he adopted the unique course of trying to divide the hitherto united five titles that conferred the kingship, expressing a vain wish that no other should succeed him in the dignity. His desire is said to have been that his name might descend to posterity as the last King of Samoa. The title of Malietoa went to his brother Tamalelangi. Four of the districts page 64concerned, however, refused to recognize the arbitrary bestowal of their names; but neither could they agree on whom to dispose them; and for a space of nearly thirty years the throne was rendered vacant.
In 1844 the French occupation of Tahiti occasioned great alarm among the missionaries in Samoa, for it was supposed that the French intended also to hoist their flag in this group, and England was believed to have refused to intervene.
"Unless [wrote Mr. Murray] God graciously interpose, we have nothing between us and French oppression and tyranny. A fiery trial is doubtless coming upon us. Would that we were in a more prepared state for it! We are not without decisive tokens of the presence and power of God among us; but we want another shaking, such as we had in the close of 1839 and in 1840."
The compilator of Missionary Life in Samoa (the mother of Mr. Lundie), however, pinned her faith in other measures.
"O Britain! [she wailed] wilt thou suffer the boar out of the wood to trample down this vineyard? Wilt thou suffer the precious of thy countrymen to be chased as partridges on the mountains? … It becomes all the servants of the Lord boldly to protest against this national sin, that they may, by that means, escape sharing in the judgment."
Possibly the servants of the Lord did make their influence felt, for in the same year of this peril, 1844, the British warship Hazard visited Samoa. During her stay the chiefs of Tutuila drew up a petition begging Queen Victoria to take their island under her protection. There is little doubt that they were prompted to this by Mr. Murray.
When then, in July 1845, arrived H.M.S. Daphne—who had on board Mr. Pritchard, a former member of the London Mission, just appointed Consul of the group for Great Britain—there came also a reply from Queen Victoria to the chiefs of Tutuila. The purport of her message was that the Queen declined to take their island formally under her protection; but that she would befriend the people and not allow any other page 65power to interfere with the independence of the native government, or have a greater share in the island than herself. This reply is said to have given great satisfaction to the chiefs and people, as it met their request in a way that satisfied them, "and they were not a little surprised and pleased that they should be treated with so much consideration by so august a personage as Queen Victoria."
In the same year, 1845, a party of Roman Catholic priests arrived at Samoa in a small schooner; and (my authority for the statement is Lieutenant Walpole of H.M.S. Collingwood) the London Mission having persuaded the chiefs of Apia to prevent them landing, established themselves at a village a few miles away.
A son of Mr. Pritchard, the British Consul, reached Samoa in 1848. In this year war broke out, the first for many years, except for minor wars between the Christian and "Devil's" parties in extreme Eastern Samoa, recorded by Wilkes.
As a result of the last big war—that which had brought Malietoa to power—political supremacy was claimed by Manono, and the district of Tuamasaga. With the tiny island of Manono, the large island of Savaii was closely allied. Atua and Aana had the status of conquered districts. Both of these provinces, as well as Tuamasaga, are in Upolu. Political supremacy is called Le Malo.
Thus, explained Pritchard, Manono claimed the Malo, and plundered and oppressed Aana and Atua. Under the teachings of the missionaries, the Aana natives were outstripping their countrymen in an incipient "civilization." The dignity of the Malo could not brook these flourishing prospects of their conquered neighbours, and oppression was made more keen by repeated demands for property and for food. Still Aana, with its active missionaries, flourished. "There more coco-nut oil was made, more calico, more hatchets, more of all the white man's articles which a Samoan covets, were bartered than in all the other districts of the group together." The Malo resolved to put a stop to these innovations.
Believing the Malo to be preparing for an attack, Aana left page 66their lands and settlements and fled in a body to Atua, in the east of Upolu, where they were welcomed. The deserted lands of Aana were then devastated by Manono, and the tenantless houses destroyed.
The invasion of Atua was then attempted. Manono, joined by Savaii and Tuamasaga, attacked Aana and Atua in the latter district, and were repulsed. They retreated to Tuamasaga, and selected Mulinuu, on the western point of the harbour of Apia, for head-quarters, which they duly fortified after native style. Again the Malo attacked the "rebels" and retired to Mulinuu.
Women who are related to opposing parties in Samoa, may pass in time of war from one camp to another, without let or hindrance: and "as is proverbially the case with the sex all the world over, they divulge the secrets of both parties." So when Atua and Aana were preparing to move their encampment from Atua to Matautu, which forms the eastern side of the harbour of Apia, and is where the Pilot Station now stands, the Manono party, who occupied Mulinuu, its western point, were duly notified by women from the Atua camp. But they took no measures to defeat the accomplishment of the design.
"This is a truly Samoan custom. A movement of this kind is allowed to be quietly executed. In fact, the custom seems to be for the party who moved or attacked last to leave the next move or attack to be initiated by the other party. One fine morning we woke up in Apia, the white man's settlement, and found one side of the harbour occupied by Aana and Atua, and the other side occupied by Manono and Savaii, each party having about 3,000 men."
The settlement being thus between two fires, old Mr. Pritchard, as British Consul, and at the request of the foreign residents, took such measures as he could to protect their persons when any fighting might be going on. The Consulate was barricaded with empty casks, three tiers deep and two high. Bullets penetrated the outer tier and expended themselves in the second. "Whenever a fight was about to take place—and there was generally timely warning—the whites and their families assembled in the Consulate, and there, under shelter of these old casks and the Union Jack, thought themselves out of harm's way."page break page 67
After various skirmishes the seat of war shifted to Mulifanua, the western extremity of Upolu and separated from Manono by a strait of three miles: the whole being encircled by a reef which gave the combatants smooth water and ample room for fighting in boats and canoes. Here an American—Eli Jennings—whose wife was related to some of the great Aana chiefs, built for the Aana party two boats, each over one hundred and twenty feet long, which he had fastened together by a deck, with the two hulls thirty-five feet apart.
"In the centre of this deck was a large paddle-wheel, turned by a crank, at which fifteen or twenty men worked at a time—propelling the boat at about four miles an hour in light winds. Around the deck a barricade of coco-nut logs and bamboos was erected, ten feet high, and partially covered in one head. To each of the four prows was fixed a piece of pointed iron, extending forwards six feet, just under water. The armament consisted of four nine-pounders and four cannonades."
This craft carried three hundred men. To cope with her the Manono party, aided by Tongan refugees from religious persecution, built three large double canoes after the Tongan model, capable of conveying one hundred and fifty men each, and on these were erected barricades of coco-nut logs and bamboos. The canoes also were armed with cannon. There were some sensational but inconclusive naval engagements.
This war, says Pritchard, was unpopular with the Samoans, for, as they observed, the victory was not won by the arm strongest in wielding the club or parrying the spear; a youth only just tattooed could, with a musket, shoot the most powerful and daring warrior. The war, none the less, dragged on sporadically for about nine years.
Pritchard, in one of the intervals of peace, saw two chiefs in single combat. In every village, he said, where there were two rival chiefs, if one took to the lotu, the other would generally give himself up to the opposite course—or attach himself to a rival religion. If one became a Protestant, the other would become a Roman Catholic, if he embraced any creed at all. The quarrel had its origin in this.
In June 1855 the schooner Ariel put in at Apia in quest of coco-nut oil. Aboard her, as supercargo, was a son of the missionary, John Williams; and a Mr. D'Ewes travelled as passenger.
There were several vessels at anchor in Apia Bay, and the decks of the Ariel were soon crowded by natives, with several Europeans, among whom, noted D'Ewes, "was Mr. Pritchard, of Otaheite notoriety, who acted at this time as British Consul at the Navigators; together with a gentleman who called himself the American Consul, and several small storekeepers." D'Ewes went on shore with Mr. Pritchard, who now inhabited a small hut on the coast, having sold his former house and plot of ground to an agent of the firm of Hort, of Tahiti. There were several European storekeepers, we are told, residing in small thatched native houses along the beach, who retailed to the crews of whalers and passing vessels, and the native population, the commonest of stores, amongst which spirits of the worst description formed a large item. There was also an apology for an hotel, kept by an African negro. A Mr. de Boos, who exercised the profession of doctor to the community and lived in a small house built of canes and thatch, offered the visitor a corner and a stretcher during his stay. The climate was found oppressive in the extreme, and the annoyance caused by "musquitoes" beyond all endurance.
The white resident population of Apia at this time amounted to about fifty, but several whalers and other vessels were generally at anchor in the bay. The Americans and English, it seems, were divided by a small river, probably the Mulivai, that flowed into the harbour, making a line of demarcation between their respective dwellings, and formed quite separate communities. In the American quarter a certain Mr. Van Camp—to whom reference has already been made—"who styled himself American Consul," kept things lively.
During his stay, says D'Ewes, two American barques, on their voyage from California to Sydney, touched at Apia for water and provisions, where, by some extraordinary arrange-page 69ment between the soi disant Consul and some of the persons on board, they were both condemned as being not seaworthy, and sold, together with their cargoes, by auction at this port. The proceeds of the sale would, of course, have been for the benefit of the owners, in due course of law; but the vessels and their contents were purchased by the Consul, or his agents, at ridiculously low prices, as there was no one to bid against him. By these means he was supposed to have realized a tolerable hoard of dollars.
"This was not effected without some trouble and danger, as the aggrieved parties among the passengers and crew, who had lost their passage and property, and were thrown helpless upon these remote shores, without any present means of leaving them, expressed their opinion of Mr. Van Camp's proceedings in a very decided and hostile manner, and scenes took place near his residence not much to the edification of the islanders; during which language of the most horrible nature, revolvers, and bowie knives were made use of."
The Consul, we are told, was supported by a gang of hired ruffians.
On the opposite side of the river, said D'Ewes, although violent scenes were of rare occurrence, drunkenness and debauchery none the less were in the ascendant.
The country behind Apia, a short distance inland, was observed to be of the richest and most picturesque description; crystal springs, transparent streams, and lovely waterfalls were continually met with; but further in the interior it was so covered with thick and almost impenetrable forest that, except in a few narrow beaten tracks or by the beds and banks of streams and torrents, it was nearly impossible to penetrate; and the labour, heat, and exertion required for the effort was found very trying for the English constitution.
Of the natives, the visitor observed that some of the men were amongst the finest specimens of the human race with whom he had ever met, and were generally a very fine people, of a light copper colour, and most scrupulous cleanliness. They possessed most of the natural attributes of the half civilized, page 70and were inclined to petty pilfering and deceit. They could usually be bribed to do anything. In fact, said D'Ewes, whatever they may have been on their first and early conversion to our own faith, their great admixture with Europeans of the worst class, and the present state of society at Apia, the principal port, was quite sufficient to account for their demoralization; and certainly the bad examples before their eyes were sufficient to destroy most missionary influences, of which, indeed, except a few of the outward forms of religion, he could see but little appearance of at this place. When he was there no Protestant missionary resided on the spot, but at a town about twelve miles lower down the coast. There was, however, a Catholic Cathedral, with a large establishment and school attached to it, that appeared to be well attended.
In company with two friends, the Englishmen made a trip along the coast in a whale-boat belonging to the negro proprietor of the hotel, who himself took the tiller. The course was inside the coral reef that surrounds that coast, leaving a clear space of from one to two miles of calm and beautifully transparent water between it and the beach. They passed several large villages, the first about twelve miles from Apia, where two missionaries resided, and a printing-press for printing the Scriptures and other religious publications into the Samoan language was in full operation. Nothing, it was remarked, could be more picturesque and comfortable in appearance than the dwellings of these gentlemen.
The provinces, at this time, as already stated, were at war. Each tribe, said D'Ewes, collected in bands of several thousands, at some distance from their opponents, armed with clubs, and with muskets of a very inferior quality which they purchased from whalers and other ships in exchange for coco-nut oil. These they were very much afraid of discharging, generally turning their heads away during the operation of pulling the trigger. They formed, he said, temporary encampments of huts, where they held assemblies, danced, ate, and drank kava, until some determination as to the casus belli was arrived at; when, if they ultimately decided to go to war, a few skirmishes in ambush by land, or at respectable distances in their war-canoes at sea, generally decided the contest, without much page 71loss of life, until some fresh occasion brought about a similar scene.
The traders of the largest of the Samoa islands are still known as "Savaii Squires"; but even in 1856 the origin of the custom has long been lost. Towards the end of that year an Englishman named William Fox, who traded at Salailua on the south-west coast of Savaii, was murdered. He was of good repute; the murder, the work of a young chief belonging to the village of Sagone, was both wanton and deliberate. It was promptly avenged, in accordance with Samoan custom, by the people of Salailua, who took the life of a leading Sagone native. The English and American Consuls at Apia, however, proceeded immediately to Savaii. The younger Pritchard was now British Consul. But being unable to obtain the "squire's" murderer they departed, having spoken these words:
"We make no threats; our words are few. We ask for the murderer. We cannot get him. We depart. By and by you will feel a great earthquake shake the island; your mountains will be rent asunder; all around you will be tottering, falling to the ground. Then you may think of the murdered white man, and say, 'They come, they come for the murderer.'"
"But how will you get him? You never got the chief who murdered the white man a long time ago," replied Sagone's spokesman: a remark having reference to a chief of Savaii whom Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition attempted, and failed, to capture about the beginning of 1840.
For two years this latest crime went unpunished, and the prestige of the white man, according to British Consul Trood, sank, throughout the archipelago, to the lowest. At last, in 1859, H.M.S. Cordelia paid a punitive visit to Savaii, obtained the murderer, tried him, hanged him from her yard-arm, and returned the body to his relatives, neatly coffined for burial. The effect of this procedure is said to have been very marked.
The story is told to this day in Savaii, that shortly before the execution the white missionary from Gagaemalae, a village adjoining Salailua, went off to the warship in his boat page 72and pleaded for the life of the Samoan. "Return at eight o'clock to-morrow morning, and I will give you my reply," responded Captain Vernon. At five minutes to eight, as the mission-boat was pulling across the lagoon, the Samoan was seen to swing from the yard-arm.
In 1862, Savaii was visited by H.M.S. Fawn. The following is taken from the Notes on her cruise:
"9th July.—No canoe came off this morning or yesterday afternoon, the natives being afraid to venture near the guns of the Fawn, until they know how things are going to turn out with them, having a great fear of offending the papalangis, since the visit of the Cordelia, two years ago. On that occasion a murderer was given up here, and hanged at her yard-arm, but not before one of their villages had been burned and much property destroyed—among other things a fine war-canoe, over the relics of which they mourned with tears. On the present occasion, happily, they have not much cause for fear, as it is evident that the principal men have been most anxious to prevent any cause of offence being given by any of their people, who have generally acted with great forbearance towards the white men, and more scrupulous honesty than has been shown to them in return."
The narrator continues, that their visit occasioned great excitement, and on the day that Court cases were to be tried, they saw from the ship a stream of people coming towards the village, from east and west. The Court sat until four o'clock; the crowd was dense, inside and around the native house, and the officers were heartily glad when the business was concluded, the heat being very oppressive, crowded up as they were by hundreds of persons redolent of coco-nut oil. The chief case of dispute was about this article of commerce, obtained by the traders and not duly paid for. The Samoans had, in consequence, according to their custom, helped themselves, in some instances, to the debtors' property, but, as far as was proved, taking less than the actual value due to them.
We get further evidence of missionary interference with native customs. The inhabitants of Savaii, it was said, were wealthier than their neighbours, making much coconut-oil, and receiving a considerable revenue from tattooing. The most expert artists in this trade were now to be found in Savaii, in consequence of the objection to the practice, as a relic of "heathenism," by the missionaries, who in other places, where they had more influence through the Christian chiefs, had almost put a stop to the custom. The young men came from the different parts of the group here to be thus ornamented, and very often remained permanently. The population of Manua was likely to be reduced from this cause, as those who indulged in the fashion were forbidden by law to return. The same influence prevented the custom from being carried on at Tonga; and the youth from these islands also came in large numbers for the purpose of being thus decorated, "more majorum, without which they would be considered boys, prevented from marrying for years, not allowed to speak in the presence of grown men, and obliged to perform menial offices."
At Tutuila, officers from the Fawn were entertained at a night-dance in a native fale. It might seem incredible, said one of them, "to our fair sisters in England" that a young lady arrayed in no other garment but a mat tied round her waist should look handsomely dressed; but could they see these Samoan belles enter the circle in their full evening costume, with their coronets of nautilus shell and scarlet hibiscus, and their necklaces of red and yellow flowers, he believed that they would admit that their appearance was highly imposing. Some wore beautifully plaited fine mats, made from the pendanus leaf, which were so highly prized that they cost more than a rich silk or satin dress.
The officers later went to the mission-church and heard Mr. Powell—who had succeeded Mr. Murray—perform service, in the Samoan language, to an attentive congregation. The psalms were sung to the oldest-fashioned tunes, with the long dreary drawl one heard in a Scottish country kirk. The seamen found it rather difficult to preserve their gravity. Wherever their eyes turned, they were sure to rest upon something most astounding in the way of bonnets. Under a huge coal-scuttle of native manufacture, built upon the most exaggerated scale of the fashion prevailing when European missionaries first came to these islands, they saw the happy, contented-looking face of a girl, looking as though she had been got up for a pantomime, who, in her native head-dress of a single flower, would have been much more becomingly arrayed. Perhaps beside her sat her mother, who, with spectacles on her nose pored over her book, with an equally astonishing work of art overshadowing her shrunken figure. The bonnet was considered the proper costume for Sunday; but the notion, it was remarked, was a mistaken one, and the missionaries would have done well to make their religious services as little sombre as possible, especially with a naturally gay and lighthearted people as the Samoans were. One of these bonnets, incidentally, made from turtle-shell, is to be seen in the British Museum; also a top-hat.
The natives, it was said, contributed very largely to the general funds of the Mission. Even in Tutuila, during the late page 75disturbances, when, in consequence of their returning to "heathen" customs, many were debarred from being church members, that is to say, from receiving the sacrament, such as Maunga and his people, they still paid their usual voluntary subscriptions. Another highly creditable mark of the proper feeling of these people was, that, out of respect for Mr. Powell, they never on a single occasion had a night-dance either in the villages of Pango-Pango or Leone, where he had his principal residence and schools. "But the Samoans are a nation of gentlemen, and amongst themselves their politeness and ceremonious observance of their rules of society are very remarkable…. One cannot but feel that they contrast most favourably with the generality of Europeans who come amongst them."
On June 21 (1862) the Fawn was off the coast of Upolu. The morning was dark and rainy, and it was late in the afternoon before those on board could see the mountains and bold coast sufficiently to run into the harbour of Apia, which is partly formed by coral reefs extending from both headlands of the shallow bay. As they approached it, the vessels appeared to be moored along the shore, without any shelter whatever. They found Apia quite a civilized-looking place; three large whaling-ships were lying at anchor; and several smaller craft. Numbers of European-looking edifices, ugly and matter-of-fact affairs, with iron roofs, fronted the bay, and over two of the largest floated the flags of the English and Hamburg consuls. "Alas for the Kanakas! their interesting simplicity has been much worn off here by their association with their new neighbours. There are some two hundred Europeans settled here, many of them no credit to the country they claim to belong to." The British Consul was a son of the missionary John Williams. The principal trading-establishment was that of Mr. Unslem, the Hamburg Consul, who had exported from Apia the previous year nearly seven hundred tons of coco-nut oil.
The following day the Fawn's officers went to the London Mission Church, where it was said they certainly listened to the most unprofitable service. There being no one bold enough to raise the tune, the minister apologized and read the hymns, and then preached a sermon, which was simply a tirade against the "poor Pope," as he called him, and the Catholic missionaries page 76on the island, for withholding the Bible from the natives, geologists also receiving their share of the anathemas, being in some mysterious way chargeable with the same offence. One regretted, the writer remarked, to see how religious differences influenced the missionaries of different sects. With regard to the Catholic priests, it might have been supposed that a fellow-feeling of admiration would have induced their opponents to draw a veil over their errors, and that the consideration of a self-sacrificing zeal, equal to their own, would have inspired a more Christian sympathy for all who preached the Cross, in the hearts of the sternest enemies to form and ceremony. But unfortunately the jealousies existing even between the Wesleyans—who had also established themselves—and the clergymen of the London Mission, were equally detrimental to the interests of both.
Dysentery, it was stated, was very prevalent in Apia, several deaths having taken place. This disease had lately swept off a large number of people in Fiji; and if this wet season continued, its ravages were to be dreaded in Samoa. The natives attributed its appearance to infection brought by a vessel which came from that group of islands ten days since, then lying in Apia Harbour, having on board, preserved in spirits, the body of its late owner, who died of this malady. The epidemic assumed very serious proportions. Wilkes, of the United States Exploring Expedition, writing in 1840, had said that, in Samoa, the dysentery, as an epidemic, was then quite unknown.