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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

King George Visits Rewa and Kandavu

King George Visits Rewa and Kandavu.

On the 11th of May King George and all his party, accompanied by the Vunivalu in his own canoe, left Bau for Rewa and Kandavu. At Mr. Moore's request, I went to Rewa with them. I went on George's new large canoe, perhaps the largest in the world, which had been presented to him by the Vunivalu. There were about one hundred and forty persons on board. We went up the river. King George superintended all the movements, and worked himself at every thing, keeping all actively in motion. He is certainly an extraordinary man. At Buretu we stayed a short time for food, which waited our arrival. The Vunivalu went on shore to the Chief's house. The Chiefs again presented whales' teeth, begging that past offences might be forgiven; and were well received. The Vunivalu had for years been much aggrieved for having been shot at when on a peaceable visit to this place. I had the satisfaction to see him shake hands with the two principal men. He desired them all to become Christians, and asked me to address them. We returned on board, and proceeded up the river until we came opposite Nakelo, where we anchored for the night. The King himself provided me a comfortable place for the night on the canoe; and he gave out a verse and prayed. Early the following morning I visited the town of Nakelo. Some food was brought to the canoes, and an immense heap, which had been piled ready for us at a distance from the river up which we passed, was fetched by parties from each canoe. The canal through which we passed, cut by a former King of Rewa, was shallow; but at high water, the tide making the whole length of the river, it was sufficiently deep for the largest canoes. In times of war this canal is closed by a fence made of large trees. The King of Nakelo came on board the Vunivalu's canoe, and went with us to Rewa. On our way they took on board the various canoes a pile of many thousands of stinks of sugarcane, which had been brought by the people of Tokatoka to the river side; also several cooked pigs, and other food. Forty large canoes, with long streamers from the mast-head, being propelled up the river, was a rare sight. This river, with its various branches, will answer well, when this extensive and fertile district shall be properly cultivated, for the conveyance of produce to vessels from the colonies. War being ended, and Christianity established, I doubt not but the industry of these natives will be encouraged to supply pigs, yams, timber, tobacco, coffee, cotton, cocoa-nut oil, and other articles, for the colonial markets. Hitherto there have been but short seasons of peace between Nakelo and Tokatoka. We had Chiefs from both districts on page 14 board the Vunivalu's canoe, they being again on friendly terms, and very comfortable together.

We spent the Sabbath at Rewa. The Tongans held their services in the two large houses which they occupied; and we assembled in the open air with the Vunivalu and the Rewa people, on a spot sacred in the past days of Heathenism. The sight was most gratifying,—the change is immensely great. We were in the vicinity of the oven used for cooking the Bauans. Instead of hating, fighting, and devouring each other, as they have been for the last ten years, they are now worshipping the true and living and life-giving God together. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. I and Mr. Moore called at the large house occupied by King George, to see the Queen, but could not see either of them. Class-meetings were being held in various parts of the house; and one company I observed outside, assembled on a small hill for the same purpose.

On the Monday very large quantities of cooked food were brought from the towns subject to Rewa. From one district the row of cooked taro was thirty-three yards long, and two feet square. It was held in by a lining of sail-mats, which were supported by posts, entirely covered with small sinnet. King George gave to Mr. Moore and me, as our portion, a live turtle, the best cooked pig, a large basket of taro, and one of yams. At King George's request, Chiefs who had been connected with the war now ended, were assembled from every part; both those who had joined with Rewa, and those who had supported Bau; to whom the decree of peace was delivered for them sacredly to keep. The punishment for any transgression was thus announced: Any town offending by taking any steps towards war will be considered the enemy of all, and will be liable to chastisement by the combined powers of Bau and Rewa.

King George had stated to me at Bau his intention of making inquiry about the destruction of the Mission-premises at Rewa. I approved of his doing so, but desired him to wait awhile. I now waited on him, early one morning, and gave him particulars about the fire and retention of property. I told him that we were thankful for his volunteering to see into the affair, as his influence would be far greater than that of any ship of war. In the evening he met the Rewa Chiefs on the subject. They wished to ward off inquiry, but promised to collect what they could of property which had been taken away on the night of the fire, and retained. The case is to be inquired into on the return of the fleet from Kandavu, when it is also arranged that persons from all the towns round about are to assemble on the Sabbath, and some from each place are publicly to renounce Heathenism. But it appears the people are not disposed to wait; for two hundred and fifty have already followed their Chiefs and become Christian in the Nakelo district, and Chiefs of other towns have already begun to worship God. The fact is, the people generally are tired of war, and of presenting offerings to that which has obviously been of no manner of use, but a burden and cause of evil to them; and they are desirous of adopting the religion of which they have long heard, talked, and thought, and which they believe to be true and useful.

On the 15th the fleet sailed early for Kandavu, and I returned home, regretting that I could not accompany them without neglecting the printing, and risking being absent on the arrival of the "Wesley." In my way, I called again at Buretu, and there saw the most splendid temple that I have met with. It was finished three days before Kambah was taken. The gods of Buretu are much trusted in; credence is generally given to the oracle there. They are reputed as having always screened Buretu from every attack. A Chief of the place said to me, "The lotu is true; or Kambah would not have been taken." At Nakelo, also, I found a new temple. There, too, I met with a Chief from another town, who said that all their gods and Priests were liars, for they had all promised that Kambah should be secure, and the Tongans killed. The people say, "We thought and felt that Kambah would be destroyed, and that we should be killed; but the gods and Priests pledged our safety and victory." page 15 Having heard all that the Heathen Priests had promised, Mara went to our Teacher at Kamhah, and asked him what party would prevail. The Teacher shrewdly replied, "The party that is right with God." "Aye," said Mara, "that is our party, for we have not done anything against Christianity; whereas, the Tongans are wrong by fighting in Feejee:" and he went and encouraged the people, by stating that the Teacher had said they would be successful. It is evident that the most important results depended upon the success or failure of the Tongans at Kambah.