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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

Extract from the Journal of Mrs. Wilson, — Addressed to Her Father, the Rev. Peter M'owan

Extract from the Journal of Mrs. Wilson,

Addressed to Her Father, the Rev. Peter M'owan.

Jan. 27th, 1855.—We have just heard of the death of Ratu Ngara, the ruling Chief of Rewa, and one of the heads of the party against Thakombau; perhaps, for determined hostility, the head. Nothing could save him. Mr. and Mrs. Moore did their very utmost, by suitable food and medicine, to arrest the disease; but his own obstinacy and folly combined to hasten this fatal catastrophe. He persisted in laying aside the warm covering which had been given him, and lying in the draught in the very crisis of his illness. He has gone to learn, as we fear, in the everlasting endurance of His wrath, that page 31 verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.

Feb. 11th.—On Friday night we received news that Mr. and Mrs. Moore, and their two little ones, had arrived in Bau, houseless, homeless, and almost without clothing, their new wooden house having been reduced to ashes, and they having escaped in the dead of the night, in their night dresses. It appears to have been set on fire by some ill-disposed persons. We had all been rejoicing that day in the prospect of peace between Rewa and Bau; for messages had been exchanged, and peace-offerings accepted. All the Bau and Rewa flags had floated in the breeze, native drums had been beaten all the day long, and our nicely-toned Vewa bell had rung in honour of the glad occasion. But evening fell and brought its dolorous news, warning us to rejoice with trembling. But, though this is a drawback and discouragement, yet it is only like the shade in the hopeful picture which the Rewa Mission presents. We view it as the last impotent effort of diabolical rage and malice to hinder that which he cannot now hope to prevent,—the overthrow of idolatry in Rewa, and the establishment of the worship of the true God.

At the death of Ratu Ngara, though an exceedingly powerful Chief, but two women were strangled, and only three little fingers cut off. Some few burnt their faces and their bodies; but when Mr. Moore and Mr. Calvert spoke to some women who had fixed a day on which they were to cry and burn their persons as a sign of respect for the dead, and requested them not to do so, but to mourn as Christians, they replied that people would say they had no love for the dead. "Tell us," said the Missionaries, "do you feel love to the dead when you do such things?" "No, indeed," answered they, "but much hatred and anger that he should cause us such pain in mourning for him." Thus they were persuaded not to follow the custom. On the Sabbath after Ratu Ngara's death, twenty women and two men lotued: there was to have been a general lotu; but Mr. Moore's misfortune will delay it for a week. The seed of life has truly been sown in tears; but not the less certain or joyous will be the harvest.

While the Chief was ill, many intimated that Mr. Moore's medicine was killing him, and threatened, that, if he died, the Missionary's life should be the forfeit; so the week after was a time of fear and peril. But God was their shield, and made even their enemies to be at peace with them. Then, on the night of the fire, they did not know, for some time, whether they would not be clubbed the next moment; for a party of blackened men with spears and clubs seized Mrs. Moore, and forcibly dragged her from the burning house. They proved to be friendly; but their kindness certainly assumed a suspicious aspect. Of course, we have all contributed what we could to supply their necessities until stores can be procured from the colonies. The people saved some boxes, but only for themselves; so that Mrs. Moore has the mortification to see her nice things worn and spoiled by these greedy Heathens.

March 22d.—Mr. Moore arrived from Ovalau and Rewa yesterday; he brings good news of the progress of religion at Rewa. Two of the "eyes of the land," old men to whom the land belongs, and who are consulted by the ruling Chief on all occasions, have bowed in worship to the true God. One of their Chief Priests announced a dream which he had had. He saw the gods of Rewa and the neighbourhood sitting together low down, and he saw, also, the God of the lotus, very great and high,—so high that he saw only the lower parts: His head was hidden in the clouds. "This," said he, "is the great God, the only true God." Did not He whose throne is high and lifted up, and around whom are clouds and darkness, send this dream to lead on this Heathen Priest, and through him the people of Rewa, to the truth? Another told them that the gods had met together, to consult what was to be done about this new page 23 religion. "It grows and grows, and rises and rises," said they: "what shall we do." They agreed they would not hinder it; but they had better wait and see the result. At a meeting of the Chiefs of the people, to decide whether they should embrace Popery, or Christianity as taught by our Missionaries, they determined that all should follow the religion of the Missionary,—"and as for the few who will not lotu, we will eat them" Remember that this resolution was carried at an assembly of Heathens, who wished to express, in the strongest way they could, the firmness of their resolution. A young lady of very high rank, the niece of the late King, lately professed Popery; and no doubt the Priests congratulated themselves on so important a convert, for she is married to the present young Chief. But short has been their rejoicing; she says she will give it up and worship with the Missionary, and that she only lotued with the Priest for waekata kata,—literally, "hot water," i.e., tea. If matters go on in this way, I should think the Abbe Mathieu will have to run away, and confess himself foiled.

The Tonguese fleet made its appearance yesterday in our waters. There are about forty canoes, most of them large, carrying one hundred men, it is said.

March 14th.—Mary Wallis, the chier lady of Vewa, visited the baby to-day. Were I to speak the plain truth, I should call her the chief beggar of Vewa, for she is inveterate. For example, she came three days after baby's birth to beg a dress; that is, new print for one, as she has had several lately. Mrs. Calvert thought it necessary to refuse her. She then asked to see baby, but that was impracticable, for I was too weak to be disturbed; so, to keep her in good temper, Mrs. Calvert gave her a large bundle of dalo that was in the room. Dalo is an edible root of a species of areca; she accepted it, and asked whether it would not be good for her to have the little bundle too. My lady got it, and went away without the slightest perceptible gratitude. This is the lady who, when her husband died, resolved to starve herself; but Mrs. Wallis (see "Life in Feejee") saved her life by persuading her to eat.

June 8th.—The proceedings of the Tonguese have caused important changes in our prospects, and they seem to have been used by Providence in a remarkable manner to bring down the pride of the lofty, and to raise the low, so that all might be prepared for peace.

Mr. Wilson, who can now preach to the natives in their own tongue with comfort, has been at Vungalai, to be present at the giving of offerings to ratify peace between that town and some neighbouring ones, with whom it had been at war. In this way several of the minor differences and grounds of quarrel between towns have been lately settled. Their petty wars have kept the people poor, by preventing the cultivation of the land. The paths being forsaken through fear, become so overgrown by the luxuriant vegetation, that they are almost lost.

King George of the Friendly Islands, and his little son, eleven years old, dined with us last week. He has come to see Thakombau, and take home a canoe which the Chief gave to him, when in the islands before. By a train of un-avoidable and unforeseen circumstances, he has been brought into collision with the enemies of Bau, and has conquered several towns, while others have hastened to submit themselves. As the unvarying advice of both George and Thakombau to all is, that they should become Christians for the maintenance of peace, it seems as if all things were tending to the advance of religion. George is a sensible, intelligent, thoughtful man, who values human life, and does not rashly engage in an enterprise without considering the result of his actions.

London: Printed by James Nichols, Boxton-Square.