The Cruise of the Mary Rose, or Here and There in the Pacific, by William H G Kingston.
This book is very largely about the work of Christian missionaries in the Pacific. There is a thin plot, but otherwise we are treated to lengthy texts extracted from the reports of various missionaries, and of Naval officers who had visited the area.
The book is dressed up with a cover and a title that makes it look like a boy's adventure story from the second half of the nineteenth century. I imagine that many a kindly old aunt, searching for a Christmas present for a favourite nephew, will have bought a copy, and been surprised when the "thank-you" letter didn't seem as effusive as she expected. But don't let me stop you reading it if you are interested in the work of these brave missionaries.
Kingston is generally quite pious in his writings, so you can imagine how pious he is when trying to out-missionary the missionaries.
Some of their more nauseous habits of their "clients" are described, such as eating your enemy when you have killed him.
THE CRUISE OF THE MARY ROSE, OR HERE AND THERE IN THE PACIFIC, BY WILLIAM H G KINGSTON.
UNCLE JOHN'S JOURNAL.
My family had for centuries owned the same estate, handed down from father to son undiminished in size, and much increased in value. I believe there had been among them in past generations those who feared the Lord. I know that my father was a man of true piety. "Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you," was his favourite motto. What a world of doubt and anxiety, of plotting, and contriving, and scheming, does this trust in God save those who possess it. On this blessed assurance my father took his stand in all the difficulties of life. It never failed him, and so we his sons had a good training and a godly example.
The younger members of each generation followed various honourable professions, but they failed to rise to high rank in them, owing, I fancy, to a want of worldly ambition—the general characteristic of our race. Altogether, however, I believe them to have been a simple-minded, upright, clear sighted set of people, who did whatever their hands found to do honestly and with all their might. Such people ought to rise, it may be said. So they do,—but not to what the world calls the summit. They generally rise to a position of independence, where they may enjoy fair scope for the exercise of their mental and spiritual faculties. There they are content to remain, for a time. This world is not their rest. Another world opens to their view. In that they see the goal at which they aim. There is the golden crown. Why then be distracted by the glittering baubles which are held up to draw their attention from the real jewel—the gem without price? I am happy in the belief that such was the reason that my ancestors did not become men of much worldly note.
The occupant of the family estate had always attended to its cultivation, and was properly called a gentleman farmer. Unostentatious and frugal, he never lacked means, in spite of bad harvests or unexpected losses, to assist the younger members of the family in starting in life, or to help forward any good cause which required aid.
My father, Paul Harvey, was a perfect type of the family—so was my elder brother, his namesake. John came next; a daughter followed; I was his fourth child. He kept up a good old custom—never broken through from any excuse. An hour before bed-time his children and the whole household assembled in the sitting-room, when he read and explained a chapter in the Bible. A hymn was sung, and prayers full of fervour were offered up to the throne of grace. After this a simple supper was placed on the table, and we were encouraged to speak on the events of the day, or on what we had read or thought of. That hour was generally the pleasantest of the twenty-four. Our father guided, if he did not lead the conversation, and generally managed to infuse his spirit into it. Although many of the subjects discussed even now rise up to my memory, I will mention but one, which had a powerful influence on the career of some of those present. I had been reading an account of the Crusades, and my enthusiasm had been unusually stirred up on the subject. "I wish that I could have lived in those days!" I exclaimed (I was but a lad it must be remembered.) "What a glorious work those warriors of old undertook, who with sword and lance, under the banner of the cross, they went forth to conquer infidels, to establish the true faith, to recover the blessed land, hallowed by the Redeemer's footsteps, from the power of the cruel followers of the false prophet of Mecca. How degenerate are we Christians of the present generation! Who among us dreams of expelling the Turks from Syria? On the contrary, our statesmen devote their energies to keep them there. I really believe that were Peter the Hermit to rise from his grave, he would not find a dozen true men to follow him."
"Possibly not," said my father, quietly; "though he might find two dozen fully as wise, and as honest, too, as those he led to destruction. But has it not struck you, David, that there are other conquests to be achieved in the present age more important than winning Palestine from the Moslem; that there is more real fighting to be done than all the true soldiers of the cross, even were they to be united in one firm phalanx, could accomplish? Sword and spear surely are not the weapons our loving Saviour desires His followers to employ when striving to bring fresh subjects under His kingdom. That they were to be used was indeed the idea of our ignorant ancestors, when the teaching of a corrupt Church had thrown a dark veil over their understandings. Christians only in name, the truth was so disfigured and transformed among them, that it exercised no influence over their hearts; and though they believed the Bible to be of value, they regarded it rather in the light of a mystic charm than the word of God. Thus all the great truths of our most holy faith were so travestied and changed as to produce alone a degrading superstition. They believed that the Bible had the power of exorcising spirits of evil. So it has; but it is not the closed Bible, which they in their ignorance employed—not the mere printed paper bound into a volume—unread, or if read, misunderstood, at which the devil and his angels tremble. No; it is the open Bible—the Bible in many tongues—read and understood through God's gracious teaching, sought for by prayer earnestly. It is the blessed gospel of peace which alone can put to flight debasing superstition, gross customs, murderous propensities, cruel dispositions, barbarism in its varied forms, and all the works of darkness instigated by Satan and his angels. Again, I say that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the true crusader's weapon; armed with that sword of the Spirit, with the shield of faith on his arm, and under the guidance (never to be withdrawn while he seeks it) of God's Holy Spirit, he may go boldly forth conquering and to conquer the numberless hosts of heathenism arrayed for battle against the truth. These weapons are dreaded by the spirit of evil more than all those iron implements of warfare on which man in his folly and blindness relies. The victories won by the Bible are lasting in this world, and not only in this world, but through eternity.
"To drop metaphor, what is, and what long has been the condition of those lands the crusaders vainly boasted they had won from the followers of Mohammed? In what state do we find those vast territories of the New World conquered by Spain? both gained by sword and spear, under a banner falsely called the 'banner of the cross.' Compare these and similar conquests over heathenism with those victories won in pagan lands by the Bible—the sword of the Spirit. How great the contrast!"
Our father spoke with far more animation than was his wont. I listened respectfully, though I confess that at first I did not comprehend the full meaning of his remarks. Still, they considerably dimmed the bright halo with which my imagination had surrounded the crusades. My second brother, John, however, fixing his eyes attentively on our father, drank in every word he uttered. "Yes, glorious indeed are the victories gained by the gospel of peace in heathen lands, and happy are those permitted to fight them," he whispered, with a sigh, after a few minutes' silence. John was less robust in health than were most of us, and it was intended that he should devote himself to mercantile pursuits, for which I had long suspected that he had no great taste; still, at the call, as he believed, of duty, he had begun the task of acquiring the necessary knowledge.
"I suppose, father, that you are alluding to the labours of missionaries in foreign lands?" I observed. "But I have heard it said, that in spite of all the money expended, their preaching produces but meagre results. In India, for instance, the Company will not admit them. In Africa, the climate destroys them. The fanatical Turks and other Mohammedan nations will not listen to their message; and it would be but time lost and energies wasted were they to attempt to preach to the cannibals of New Zealand and the other islands of the Pacific, or to the almost baboons of Australia and New Guinea."
"You have not, I see, given much thought to the subject, David," observed my father, mildly; "God's grace is sufficient for all men. The gospel is to be preached to all men, without distinction of race, or colour, or nation, or rank. What says the Bible? 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' Who is to decide then from what depths of moral degradation the power of God's grace will fail to lift up a human being? Certainly, we mortals, fallible, helpless, sinful, as we must feel ourselves, are not capable of judging. All we have to do is to receive the plain command, and obey it. Oh, there is scope, believe me, for the exertions, not of one missionary only, but of hundreds and thousands of the soldiers of the cross in those very regions of which you have spoken. How can we dare to doubt how the gospel will in the end be received? 'Blessed are ye which sow beside all waters,' 'Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.' 'In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand, for thou knowest not which shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.' Our duty as disciples of Christ is plain. We are to sow. 'God giveth the increase.' That is not to be our care. We are to 'preach the gospel to every creature.' Some will hear; some will turn away from the truth. With that we have nothing to do, except to pray and work on, awaiting God's time. You have none of you seen more than the outside of my Uncle John's journal. Indeed, I had not myself till lately looked into it. He was, as you may have heard, a seaman, and he made more than one voyage to the Pacific. Possessing more education than most officers in the merchant service in those days, he seems to have carefully noted the observations he made as he sailed from place to place. His descriptions are graphic, and he was of an acute and inquiring mind; his remarks, too, are of value. I think, therefore, that we may glean from it both amusement and instruction."
We of course all expressed a wish to hear the contents of our relative's journal, and it was agreed that the next few evenings should be devoted to its perusal. I should observe that our father's interest in the subject of missions to the heathen in foreign lands had lately been awakened by the visit of an old friend, one of that band of great and good men who were then endeavouring against contumely, ridicule, and every opposition which the prince of this world could raise, to send the glad tidings of salvation to the perishing millions scattered thickly on the surface of the globe, over which midnight—the midnight of heathen darkness—reigned.
I believe that the thought of our dear father's heart at that time was—"I have many sons given me by God; surely not one of them have I a right to withhold from His service; all, all, every one of them should be freely, joyfully given if it be His will to accept their services." I do not mean to say that he uttered these words, but that such was the language of his heart spoken to heaven, I am certain, from conversations and circumstances which subsequently occurred. Of all the family our brother, John, appeared to be the most deeply impressed with the remarks which had dropped from our father's lips, and as I watched his expressive countenance, I observed the changes passing over it, and am now certain that feelings were then working within his bosom too deep for utterance, and which afterwards exerted a powerful influence on his career.
The following evening, the word of God having been read and our frugal supper discussed, the looked-for journal, a dogskin-covered, somewhat worn folio, was produced. John, by a unanimous vote, was chosen to read it, and I am bound to say that the honest seaman's descriptions gained considerably by the spirit which our brother's animated voice threw into them.
Supped at the "Three Crowns" with Phineas Golding our supercargo, and so aboard, my leave being up, and work enough and over to get the ship ready for sea. A long voyage before us of four, or it may be of five years. Meeting our supercargo at the owner's, I had deemed him a quiet, well-behaved young man; I now find him a slashing blade, ever ready with his fist, or his sword, as with his pen,—hot in dispute, and always eager to bring a quarrel to the arbitration of one of the former. How differently do men appear when in presence of those they serve and when out of their sight! There exists One out of whose sight we cannot escape. How comes it that we do not always bear that truth in mind? Are we more afraid of a fellow-creature than of the Maker and Judge of all the world? I said thus much to Phineas Golding. He replied with an oath, which caused me to feel that I had been casting pearls before swine. And yet I was right, surely; for by speaking the truth boldly on fitting occasions, I do hold that the truth will in the end prevail, and may be conquer the unbeliever's heart. On one thing, therefore, I am resolved, to go on as I have begun, and speak the truth always with earnestness of purpose.
Of my other shipmates I will speak a word. The master Simon Fuller, is grave man, the snows of nearly sixty winters settling on his head. He has made many voyages, and seems a fit man to command men. The first mate, too, James Festing, is every inch a seaman, but somewhat handy with his fist, a rope's end, or a marline spike, or, truth to say, whatever lies nearest, and withal not over choice in his words when angered, or desirous of getting work done smartly. Of myself, as second mate, it becometh me not to speak. I have been five years at sea, am a fair navigator, and an average seaman. I fear God, and strive to do my duty, though not always succeeding. Our ship's company muster thirty-five good men, I hope, all told fore and aft. The ship, as is requisite, is well armed, with six guns with swivels on the quarters, and muskets, pikes, axes, and cutlasses for all hands. We have to visit many strange places and strange people, and we must expect often and again to fight for our lives with the savages. Phineas Golding rejoices in adventure, and says such chiefly induced him to leave home. He has never before been at sea, and dreams not of the troubles in store for him.
June.—We have taken our departure from the land, which is even now sinking astern, a strong breeze blowing from the north-east.
July.—We have touched at Madeira, belonging to the Portingalls, as the old voyagers call them. They are a suspicious people, though civil when not angered. I witnessed some public exhibitions, which I was told were religious. I cannot suppose that such performances are acceptable to our Lord and Master, or He would surely have ordered such. But it becomes not me, after so slight acquaintance with a people, to pass much censure on their customs, though I see not how to approve them.
Crossing the Line, we had a usual Father Neptune and his Tritons on board. Tony Hinks, our boatswain, was Neptune. He and his mates severely handled some of the men who had shown ill manners or bad tempers, tarring their faces, and shaving their chins with rusty hoops. Phineas vowed that he would not be so treated, but had to succumb, escaping with a thorough sousing from a dozen buckets. Phineas vows vengeance on the boatswain; but I warn him that Tony Hinks followed but the custom of the sea, and is not a man over whom it would be easy to get an advantage, for he boasts that he always sleeps with one eye open.
We have touched at Rio, the chief town in the Brazils. From what I saw, I should take the people to be heathens, such as I have read of in Roman and Grecian history; but they say that they are Christians. One thing is certain, that if they desire to keep the sabbath holy, they have a curious way of so doing. Still I say, it would be easy to sail from place to place and to condemn all we visit unheard. One thought occurs to me: "Look to it that we fall not into like errors."
Proceeding south before rounding Cape Horn, we again made the land, and standing in, anchored the ship in a sheltered cove. It was the southern part of that region known as Patagonia. The captain, with Phineas Golding and I, with a crew of eight men, well armed, took the long boat and went ashore. The aspect of the country was not pleasant; rocks, and trees, and marshes, but no signs of cultivation. Suddenly from among the rocks some creatures appeared watching us. "Are they men or are they baboons?" asked Phineas, levelling his musket; but the master held back his arm. They approaching slowly and with hesitation, we discovered that they were human beings, though marvellously ill-favoured in aspect. Their skin, which seemed of a dark brown, was covered with dirt, and their faces, which were flat with high cheek-bones, were besmeared with red and yellow ochre. Their long black coarse hair hanging down straight over their shoulders, their small twinkling bleared eyes peeping out between it, like two hot coals. They had spears in their hands and short clubs. They were nearly naked, their chief garment consisting in a piece of sealskin, which they wore on the side whence the wind blew. Again Phineas was about to shoot in very wantonness.
"What's the harm?" he asked. "We have no chance of trading with such people; and if we were to kill a few, what would it matter?"
"They have souls, Master Golding," said I, for I could not keep silence; "and souls, I have learned, are precious things."
A scornful laugh was his reply, and he still kept his musket ready, as if to fire. The savages, however, seemed in no way afraid, but lifted up their hands, and made as if they too had muskets; and when we laughed they laughed, and when we shook our fists they shook theirs; and so we discovered that, though hideous, they were a harmless race, and great mimics. They readily accepted beads, and knives, and coloured handkerchiefs, and such like things.
These people, we learn from Tony Hinks, who has before been on the coast (indeed where has he not been?) are different from the tribes of Patagonians who inhabit the country to the north as far as the Spanish settlements. These latter are a fierce race, often of large stature, though not giants, as some suppose, and dress in skins and ride on horseback. Again, there are other tribes whose dwellings are among the marshes and inlets of the sea up the Straits of Magellan. They move about only in their canoes, living on shell-fish, seals' flesh, and fish, their habits being more filthy and disgusting even than are those of our present friends. Phineas laughs at the notion of their being our fellow-creatures, and says that they must have sprung from apes; but Tony, who has seen many strange people, says that he would not give a fig for the supercargo's opinion, for that he has known white men become almost as brutish in their appearance, and much more brutish in their manners, just from living a few years among born savages, cut off from all communication with their fellow whites. A little practical experience often shows the folly of these would-be philosophers.
On the Pacific coast of this end of America are found the unsubdued tribes of the Araucanians in vast numbers, so that in this one small portion of the continent are many hundred thousand savages, all lying in the midnight of heathen darkness.
Phineas observes that it is a pity they cannot be swept away, and civilised men, with whom it would be an advantage to trade, introduced in their stead. He esteems men in proportion as they are able to exchange gold dust, ivory, spices or precious stones, not knowing their value, for glass beads and Brummagem knives and needles. I cannot help thinking that all those savages have immortal souls, and regretting that they should be allowed to pass away from this life without having the light of gospel truth set before them. Year after year passes by, thousands are swept away, and still darkness dense as ever broods over the land.
Once more we are under weigh. With a fair breeze gliding over a long heavy swell, we pass Cape Horn, which stands out boldly into the blue waters, and enter the mighty Pacific. Tony Hinks tells us that, though peaceable enough at times, he has seen here as fierce gales and heavy seas as ever sent tall ships to the bottom. Grant that we do not encounter the loss and disaster met with by Lord Anson, whose voyage I have been reading. Hitherto a kind Providence has favoured us, and we are standing up along the coast of Chili, the lofty Andes rising blue and distinct against the sky in the distance.
TAHITI IN HEATHEN DAYS.
Anchored in the Bay of Conception to obtain meat and vegetables, and to refresh our ship's company. The town whence we obtained supplies is Talcaguana, the old town of Conception having been destroyed by an earthquake, and the new town standing some way inland. It is a wealthy place—no lack of silver and gold utensils in the houses, and flocks and herds outside, but the inhabitants lead uneasy lives, for not far off beyond the mountains are found tribes of fierce Araucanians, who, riding fleet horses, now and again pounce down on the town, and never fail to carry off a rich booty. They care not for the Spanish artillery and musketry, they keep out of range of them; but might not the power of gospel truth spoken in season change their savage natures? Could some Christian men find their way among them, they might tell them of happier employments than killing each other, and robbing their neighbours. Yet I dream. Such seems to be the chief occupation, not only of savages, but of civilised people all over the world. What power can assuage such a flood of iniquity? There is one and one alone, the bright light of gospel truth, and the living power of Divine grace.
Having shipped our stores, the boat was leaving the shore for the last time, when a brown man, dressed as a seaman, with strange marks on his face and hands, came down begging to be taken on board. His name he said was Taro, and that he was a native of an island far to the west, also that he had long been on board an English ship, the master of which had left him here sick. Captain Fuller believing his tale, and well pleased to obtain the services of one who might prove useful as an interpreter, consented to receive him among the crew. Our ship's company gave him at first the name of Tar, and hence he soon became known among them as Tom Tar. He proves an amusing, and seemingly a good-natured fellow till he is angered, and then he will cast off his clothes, and seizing a billet of wood or whatever comes to hand, will flourish it, threatening the lives of all near him, exhibiting his body covered with strange devices, appearing, as he is still, the fierce, vindictive savage. He comes from an island called New Zealand, where the inhabitants are terribly fierce, and undoubted cannibals. I asked Taro whether he had ever eaten any of his fellow-creatures. He nodded, laughing, and I doubt not, from the expression of his countenance, that he had often done so, and would not hesitate in again indulging in such a practice. Though living so long among men professing to be Christians, he is still a heathen in all his thoughts and ways. I asked him one day how this was. His answer was simple: "They say and do just what heathen man say and do. They no pray to their God; they no care for their God; they no love their God. Why should I?"
Taro spoke the truth; I felt abashed. How can we expect the heathen to become Christians, when those who call themselves so show so little regard to the religion of Christ? I see the same sad shortcoming on shore. Christians do not strive to bring honour to the name of Christ.
For three weeks and more we traverse the Pacific, keeping bright look-out by night and day for rocks and reefs.
"Land on the starboard bow," is the cry. We haul up for it. As the ship rises and falls on the long, slow swell, now the trees appear partly out of the water, now they disappear looking thus at a distance like a fleet at anchor. There are cocoa-nut palms, pandanus trees, and many shrubs, growing on a low island, fifteen feet at most above the level of the sea, some twelve miles long, and not a quarter of a mile wide, with a deep blue lagoon inside. This is one of those wonderful coral islands of which I have read, formed by minute insects working upwards from rocky foundations amid the ocean, and ceasing their work when they have reached the surface. The waves have torn off masses and thrown them up so as to form an elevation above the water; then birds have come, dropped seeds, and formed their nests, and dwelt there; and timber and plants floating about have been cast on shore, and their vitality not yet destroyed, have taken root; and more coral and shells have been heaved up and ground fine by the toiling waves to form a beach; and thus a fit dwelling-place for man has been formed. Nearing the sandy beach we heave-to for soundings, but finding none, the ship stands off, while Phineas and I, with Tom Tar and our boat's crew, well armed, pull in with the intention of landing. This the surf will not let us do; and as we are lying off on our oars, presently, from out of the bushes, rush a herd of savages with spears and clubs, which they flourish furiously, making signs to us to be gone. We pull on, however, and find an opening in the reef, through which we get close to the beach. The natives shout and gesticulate more vehemently than ever. They declare (so Taro interprets) that we come for no good purpose, and that they want no strangers. Phineas hopes that they may possess pearls with which to trade, so we row in, he standing up in the bows of the boat, holding up a looking-glass and a string of glass beads in one hand, while he keeps his musket ready in the other. He is bold, and leaping on shore, approaches the natives. At first the savages retire; then one advances, stops, gazes at the supercargo, and with a loud shout, flourishing his club, rushes towards him. Phineas, flinging down the looking-glass and the beads, springs back, firing his musket in the air. The savage is upon him. In another moment that huge club will have dashed out his brains. I see his danger. I have no thought but to save him—no feeling that I am about to slay a fellow-creature. I raise my musket to my shoulder and fire, taking good aim. The savage falls. Phineas, shouting to us to give the Indians a volley, is hauled in. The men obey as the Indians, with terrific howls, rush towards us. Five more fall, some in the water, which is tinged with their blood, others on the land. Our passions are up. Golding urges us to load and fire again. Having thus done, we pull away. Says Golding, "They'll not meddle another time with strangers who peaceably visit their shores to trade." We leave ten or twelve poor heathens dead or wounded on their native strand. My thoughts are sad. The face of that hapless savage as he turned his eye on me when falling is still in my sight. True, I fired to save the life of a shipmate. Yet it is an awful thing to shed the blood of a fellow-being, let it be in warfare or in any other way which men justify as from stern necessity.
Are such, too, the blessings which we Christian and civilised men distribute in our course round the globe? The loud laugh of my companion sounds in my ear. "Come, rouse thee, John Harvey," he says. "Art down-hearted, lad, because we have not been more successful in our traffic? Not a good beginning, but the Pacific is wide, and there will be no lack of customers."
Standing on for three days we sight several islands. On the nearest is a grove of fine cocoa-nut trees. We require a supply of nuts. Two boats with crews well armed leave the ship. An opening appears in the reef—we pull through it and land easily. Our men climb the tall trees and shake down the nuts in heavy showers. While we are collecting the nuts, the men in the trees shout that they see a fleet of large canoes crossing from another island. We deem that it will be prudent to regain the boats. The Indians, seeing the broken nuts strewing the ground, and the heap we are carrying away, shriek, and shout, and shake their clubs and spears, and then furiously rush towards us. Golding, as before, cries out to the men to fire, but I order them to shove off, that we may escape without killing any, for which I see no necessity. We have stolen the savages' provisions, and they have right on their side. The men obey me, and we strive to get the boat afloat. No time to lose. The Indians draw their bows, and the arrows fall thick around us; some come on with stones, and others plunge into the water with clubs and spears to do battle for their rights. Our lives are in jeopardy, and one of our men is fearfully wounded. The savages throng around the boat and try to drag her to the shore. We keep back the savages with the stretchers, and I hope to escape without bloodshed. Again Golding shouts out, "Fire, lads! fire! Why keep back the men from firing? We shall all be murdered." Urged by his example, the men fire a volley among the surrounding savages. With fearful howls those grasping the boat let go; others fall back killed; the mass rush in terror up the beach. We escape into deep water, two or three arrows sticking in the arms of our men and in the sides of the boat. Golding cries out for vengeance; and the men fire till every savage has disappeared.
We return on board. It strikes me that we cannot appear very well favoured in the sight of these poor savages. I say as much that day at dinner to the captain. He is a man of few words.
"You are right, John; the next comers will suffer," he remarks.
"That matters nought to us," says Phineas Golding. "We shall not come here again."
"Scant kindness to the next comers; as scant as that we have showed the natives," I observe.
"We must all look out for ourselves in these seas," says the captain. "It will be our own fault if we are at any time caught unawares. Remember that, Master Harvey."
I make no answer, for the captain does not bear contradiction. The first mate, Golding, and the doctor, keep always well with him. So do I, for this reason: I heard him once say, "That John Harvey needs keeping under." On that, I resolved, as far as it should lie in my power, to keep myself under—to do my duty, and give him no occasion to find fault. Thus far I have succeeded—but not always with ease; for Simon Fuller has had uncontrolled power as a sea captain for many a long year, often over rogues and vagabonds, whom fear alone will keep in order, so he fancies. I have heard say that the rule of kindness will work wonders. I have never seen it tried as I could desire, but I find that the worst of our ship's company obey me more readily than they do James Festing, and yet the first mate is an older, and, I truly believe, a better seaman than I am. I speak quietly to the lads, eschew oaths, and never handle a rope's end in wrath. He swears loudly, and uses both.
I was called forward to see Tom Collis, the poor fellow who was wounded in the boat. The surgeon can do nothing for him, he says, and I see that the man's countenance is marked by death's hand. Around us, as I sit by him, we hear laughter, and oaths, and gross talking. Collis is suffering great agony. "Mercy! mercy!" he shrieks out. "To die thus— no time for repentance, with hideous crimes weighing down my soul!" Sometimes he raves, and says things which make my blood run cold; but I talk quietly to him, and he grows calmer. I tell him in few words of that simple plan God in His gracious mercy arranged before the world began, by which sinners even great as he might be saved. He drinks in every word. I tell him how the loving Jesus came on earth to live as a man a life of suffering, that men might understand that He knows how they suffer; that He was tempted, that they might feel assured He pities, and will help them when they are tempted; that He was crucified,—made a sacrifice, that He might take their sins on His shoulders; that His blood was shed that it might wash away the sins of all who trust in it, and look to Him; that He was buried, and rose again, that He might conquer death, and show that all who follow Him must conquer too; and that He ascended up on high, that He might present all who place their faith in Him washed from their sins pure and undefiled before the throne of God.
"But all that could not be done for such a wretch as me," says Collis. "If God would let me live, I might repent, and lead a different sort of life, and do all sorts of things to please Him; and then perchance He might think me more fit for heaven."
"Oh, my dear shipmate," I say, "don't think of such folly. You could never do anything to make you more fit for heaven than you now are, vile, sinful, guilty wretch as you may be."
I then read to him how the Israelites, bit by the fiery serpents in the wilderness, were saved from death and cured by looking at the brazen serpent held up by Moses. And then I read about the thief on the cross, and then I say:
"Just look to Jesus in that way. Feel that you are bitten by sin, helpless, and dying, and deserving of death; and He says to you, as He said to the thief on the cross, 'To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.'—'Thy sins are forgiven thee.'"
"What, sir!" exclaims Collis, "you don't mean to say that the Son of the great God who made heaven and earth, and all those thousands of stars we see up there, did all that for me, and such as me,—that He says all that to me, and such as me?"
"Shipmate," I answer, solemnly, "He did do all that for you, and such as you,—and He says all that to you. Take hold of but the hem of His garment, so to speak, by faith, and you are saved. As to satisfaction to Divine justice, it is done. You have nothing to do with that, you have but to feel that you are sinful and guilty. You have to repent, which, may God the Holy Spirit help you to do. You have to look to Jesus as the only cure, as the only Saviour,—to His blood as the only means by which you can be cleansed; and the holy word of God says it, 'Thy faith hath saved thee,'—'By faith ye are saved,'—'His blood cleanseth from all sin.' He doesn't say from little sins, or slight sins, but from all sin. He doesn't say He will receive you by-and-by, perhaps, when you have done something to please Him; but He does invite you, He does receive you. No power of earth or hell can prevent Him from presenting you faultless before the throne of grace. Shipmate, if you only feel your guiltiness, it is you He invites, with all your sins upon you, to come to Him,—it is you He will present faultless and fearless before God's judgment throne, welcomed as a son of God,—not crying out, as numbers will be doing, for the mountains to cover them, for the rocks to fall on them."
"This is news indeed,—glorious news!" says the poor fellow, in a cheerful, happy tone, very different from what he had before spoken in. "I wish that I had known it before. But I know it now, and that's enough. Jesus died for me, and I trust in Jesus."
I have soon to leave him to attend to my duty on deck. Captain Fuller would not hold it as an excuse that I was attending to a dying man. After some time, my watch on deck being almost out, Tony Hinks comes to me and tells me that Collis is dead; but says he, "It was strange to hear him saying over and over, again and again, 'Jesus died for me, and I trust in Jesus.' What does that mean, Mr Harvey?"
I tell him. He goes forward, muttering, "Strange! I never heard the like."
I see Collis once more before he is sewn up in his hammock. There is a smile on his features, such as I had never before seen there.
Six days more, and we sight the high land of King George the Third Island, called by the natives Otaheite, or Taheite. As we draw near it, the prospect becomes truly pleasing to the sight. Lofty hills, covered with beautiful flowering shrubs, and fringed by pandanus, cocoa-nut, and various other trees which we see in these tropical regions, rise up into the clear blue sky, with green valleys between them, and sparkling waterfalls rushing down their sides. A line of white breakers intervene, however, foaming over a coral reef, with a belt of deep blue water between it and the white glittering beach and the feathery fringe of vegetation which springs up close to the strand, the trees overshadowing it with their branches. Never have I seen a more lovely picture; and Tony Hinks, who has been here before, tells us there is no country, to his mind, more pleasant to dwell in. "A man may live here," says he, "with nothing to do, abundance to eat, and plenty of people to tend on him." He gives the first mate and me a hint to keep a sharp look-out on the ship's company, or some of them may be missing when we sail. No wonder, I think, if the place is such an earthly paradise. He speaks of many other things likely to prove attractive to seamen. I ask if the natives are Christians. "Christians? no," he answers, with a laugh. "They would be spoilt, to my mind, if they were. They are much better as they are, as you'll agree, Mr Harvey, when you go on shore." I am inclined to be at issue with Tony on that point; but still I would fain judge of the savage virtues of which he speaks before I condemn them.
We coast some way round the island, till we reach an opening in the reef, entering through which we moor the ship in a commodious harbour. Soon she is surrounded with native canoes, laden with cocoa-nuts, bananas, bread-fruits, apples, figs, and other pleasant vegetable productions. The natives bring boughs with them, which Tom Tar tells us we are to make fast to the rigging, to show that we are friends. We now drive a brisk trade, giving beads, and trinkets, and looking-glasses, and bits of cloth and coloured calico, for fruit, vegetables, pigs, and fowls; but the captain will allow no one to come on board. He says that they are arrant thieves, and so we find them. By-and-by Phineas, with the doctor, Tony, and I, having Tom Tar to interpret, go on shore, but take ten men well armed at our heels. It is a hard matter to keep the men together: but it is not safe to let them separate. The natives are treacherous and revengeful, at least if they are like those we have already encountered. Our men might easily provoke them, especially by rude conduct to the women. Seldom have I seen more comely females. Their manners are attractive, and they know how to add to their charms, by dressing their glossy hair with flowers and shells, and such like ornaments. The country is as beautiful as it appeared a distance. The houses are mostly open at the sides, and thatched with palmetto leaves; but some are enclosed, and all are neat and clean. A house is offered to us by the chief, in which we may take up our abode while we remain on shore. It is amidst a grove of trees, with matting for the walls and floor. A sparkling torrent, rushing down the side of a hill, flows in front of it, cooling the air, while afar off is seen the deep blue sea. Provisions of all sorts are sent us by the king,—baked pig, and roasted bread-fruit, and plantains, and fish, and other articles of food, all served in large leaves. The bread-fruit is about the size of a horse-chestnut, and when baked is somewhat of the consistency of new bread. It is not fit to be eaten raw. The king and the people seem friendly; but to my mind there is no dependence to be placed on them. It is made clear to us that they are sadly depraved, nor can I describe many of the scenes which take place. Suffice it to say that, like other heathens who know not God, they give themselves up to work all manner of abominations without constraint or shame. We place a guard during the night; but when we awake there is great shouting among our party for missing articles, and it is found that we all have been robbed of articles of dress, knives, pistols, handkerchiefs, and pocket-books. Phineas declares that he will shoot the first savage he finds purloining, chief or not. We complain of our loss to the king, who gets back some of the articles; but Taro surmises that he has got the remainder himself.
After a bountiful breakfast we continue our progress through the island. Our surprise is great to come upon a large edifice of stone among a people supposed only able to erect huts of leaves. It is a pyramid, nearly three hundred feet long and one hundred wide, with a flight of steps on either side leading to the summit, which is fifty feet from the ground. On the top is a bird made of wood, and a fish of stone. This building forms one side of a court, the other three sides being composed of a wall of hewn stone; the enclosed area is covered with a pavement of flat stones. In this court are several altars of stone, on which are placed baskets of bread-fruit, sweet potatoes, cocoa-nuts, and other food, which we conclude were offerings to their Eatuas, or gods, which they ignorantly worship. Not far off we come upon a figure of one of these gods. It is made of wicker-work, in the form of a man; it is seven feet high, and covered over with black and white feathers. We learn that this pyramid is a temple, and that the court is a burying-place, called a Morai; the altars are called Ewattuas. While we are about to proceed on our journey we see a concourse of people collecting from all quarters, and hurrying toward the morai. We inquire of Taro for what object they are assembling.
"To offer a sacrifice to their Eatua, their god," he answers.
"Of what will the sacrifice consist?" I ask, thinking that it would be of the bread-fruit and other fruits we saw on the altars.
"You will see," he answered, with one of those gleams of savage pleasure which ever and anon pass over his countenance.
We remark that there are only men and boys among the crowd,—no women nor girls. The crowd increases,—there is expectation on their countenances, as if something of importance is about to happen. Still we can obtain no information from Taro; he only says, "You will see, you will see."
"A very well-behaved set of people are these," observes Golding. "In England, among such a crowd, there would be fighting and squabbling. I would as lief be one of these happy islanders as an Englishman, with all our religion and civilisation."
"I have an idea, begging pardon, Master Golding, that you are not yet very well acquainted with these happy islanders," observes Tony Hinks. "It strikes me that ere long you will change your opinion. Wait a bit; as Tom Tar says, you will see—you will see."
A NARROW ESCAPE.
The air is warm and balmy, the blue sea sparkles brightly, the lofty mountains, glowing in the sunshine, rise up majestically into the clear sky, the graceful palm-trees gently wave their boughs; all nature is smiling with life, and health, and beauty, and all the perfections which a bountiful Creator has spread over these regions. "What a paradise," exclaims the surgeon. "I agree with Golding, I should be well content to remain here to end my days."
While watching for what is next to occur, we see four chief men, so they seem by their dress and bearing, walking along the beach. Taro says they are priests. There are several men in attendance. They stop, as if waiting for some one. They are armed with clubs and knives. Among the crowd comes a young man taller than his companions, and comely in his appearance. He seems joyous and light of heart, for he sings and laughs, regardless of coming ill. The priests, watching him steadfastly, slowly approach. He stops and looks at them with an inquiring expression on his youthful countenance. "We require one quick of foot to bear a message to the Eatua," says the chief priest. The youth starts. Before he can reply, a blow from the priest's club lays him low on the sand. The others fall on him with their clubs, and drive out any life remaining. The priests, surrounding the corpse, place it with the feet towards the sea, and utter some long incantations, each priest holding in his hand a bunch of red feathers. Then they rise and place the body of their victim parallel with the line of the sea beach, and more incantations are uttered. The king, meantime, and his principal chiefs have assembled, and take their stand near the temple. Hair is now plucked from the head of the victim, and one eye is taken out and wrapped in leaves, and presented to the king. With drums beating slowly the body is now borne up by the attendants of the priests, and placed on one of the altars. The tufts of red feathers are at the feet, and rolls of cloth at the head. After this, for a quarter of an hour or more the chief priest addresses it, and pretends to give the message it is to convey to the world of spirits. The surrounding populace look on with stupid amazement, no one knowing whose turn it may be next to be slaughtered as a sacrifice to their blood-loving deity.
While the priests are chanting round the corpse the attendants dig a shallow grave, into which it is thrown with little ceremony, and covered up with stones and earth. Fires are now lighted, and dogs and pigs are slaughtered and roasted, and these being placed on the altars, the Eatua is invited to partake of the feast prepared for him. When we left the spot, I shuddering with a horror I had never before felt, the provisions remained on the altars. Taro tells us that the priests, if angered with a person, avenge themselves by selecting him as a victim, and that for fear of offending them no one ventures to interfere. The priests have thus gained more real power than the chiefs themselves. They generally, however, select some of the poorer people as their victims.
We see arranged near the morai a pile of sixty skulls, and that of the youth just slain is now added to it. They appear but little changed by the air, and Taro says that they are those of victims who have all been offered up within the last few months. He tells us that whenever one of the chiefs is about to commence an undertaking, he selects some unhappy victim, who is forthwith slaughtered and sacrificed. We have undoubted evidence, too, that they often eat their enemies, and they do this without shame or compunction. We see many of the chiefs and warriors going about with human jawbones hanging as ornaments round their necks, and we learn that they are those of enemies slain in war.
Sick at heart I accompany my shipmates. "Friend Golding, what do you now say of these pleasant-mannered, happy islanders?" I ask.
"I knock under," says he. "England is a better place; but there are thousands there who get on very well without religion, so I say religion has nothing to do with it."
"Religion has everything to do with it," I answer, in a somewhat hasty tone. "Religion influences those who have no religion themselves. The heathen world of old, with all its civilisation, was not one jot better than are these cannibals, equally given over to work all manner of uncleanness. If it were not for the true faith of some, influencing general opinion, many Englishmen would even yet be the same as these savages. I may say, as said a pious minister of whom I have read, if it were not for God's grace, we ourselves should be as are these poor barbarians; we might well see ourselves in them."
"A truce with your preaching, John Harvey. You would make us all out blacker than we are," says Phineas, walking on quickly.
"That were a hard matter," I say. "Be not offended, I include myself, remember. It is only as we see ourselves in Christ Jesus that we are otherwise than most black, guilty, and lost."
"I understand you not, John," he answers. "But you shall not force me to acknowledge that I am not better than these half-naked savages."
"I did not say that; by God's grace, or in His providence, there are great differences, but all are sinners in the sight of God's holy law. But we will talk more of this another time."
This island of Tahiti, or Otaheite, is the largest of a group known as the Society Islands. It is about fifty miles long, consisting of two peninsulas joined by a narrow isthmus. It contains a mountain rising twelve thousand feet above the level of the sea. The other islands of the group are mostly lofty. They are Eimeo, Huaheine, Ulitea, Bolabola, and others. They are volcanic, and mostly fertile in the extreme.
We visit Ulitea, a beautiful island where there is a vast morai. Numbers of priests reside here, and it is looked on as the sacred island of the group. In reality it is more given over to horrible wickedness than any other. While on shore we witness another terrible human sacrifice. Not a week passes but some unhappy people fall victims to the bloodthirsty passions of the priests.
This my first introduction to savage life makes me feel doubly grateful to God that I was born of Christian parents, and in a land where the law of Christ, however imperfectly obeyed, is acknowledged in some sort as the standard.
The wind being fair, we sail north-east towards the Marquesas.
We have been for ten days at the anchorage of Taogou, off the island of Ohevahoa, the most fertile of the Marquesas. We have been engaged most profitably in purchasing sandal-wood, and hogs, and fruits, and vegetables of all sorts, and Phineas Golding is in high spirits, and declares that these are a people truly after his own heart. Their country certainly is beautiful, for though the mountains are not so lofty as those of the islands we have lately left, they equally please the eye, as do the groves, the valleys, and the waterfalls. The men are tall, handsome, and athletic, and the women are scarcely inferior in beauty to those of Tahiti. Alas, that I can say no more in their praise. Both men and women are most depraved, of which we have constant evidence. Hitherto we have been on good terms with these islanders. We have a strict watch kept, and whatever may be their secret disposition, they have had no opportunity of taking us at advantage. Taro warns us to be on our guard. He tells us that they are treacherous, and that if they thought they would gain by murdering every man of our crew they would do so. Taro understands their language, which is much like that of Tahiti and his own country. The men are much tattooed, their only clothing being a piece of native cloth round their loins, but the women wear a petticoat and a mantle over the shoulder. This cloth is made of the fibre of a sort of mulberry tree—not woven, but beaten into a consistency of paper. When torn the rent is mended by beating on a fresh piece. It will bear washing only once. A garment thus lasts about six weeks. The women are better treated than among most Indian tribes. Their occupations are entirely domestic—they manufacture cloth, cook, tend the house, and look after the children, but from all we hear and see, their morals are degraded in the extreme.
Having completed refitting the ship as far as is necessary, I have been able to go on shore. We form a strong body, twelve officers and men in all, with muskets. Our chief object is to visit a valley where the sandal-wood grows, to learn on what supply we can depend. High up the valley we come suddenly on a platform on which grows a large grove of bread-fruit, cocoa-nut, toa, and other trees. Amid them is a large idol of hewn stone of a man in a squatting posture. The figure is not ill sculptured. His mouth is wide, and his eyes and ears large, while his arms and legs are short and out of proportion. There are numerous other idols, of the same size and form, made out of the bread-fruit tree, arranged on either side and behind him, as if they were his ministers and attendants. To the right and left of these hideous idols are two obelisks, about thirty-five feet in height, built very neatly of bamboos, with the leaves of palm and cocoa-nut trees interwoven. At the base are hung the heads of hogs and tortoises, offerings to the idols. They are also ornamented with streamers of white cloth. A few paces to the right of the grove we see four large war-canoes, furnished with their out-riggers, and decorated with ornaments of human hair, coral, shells, and white streamers. In the stern of each sits the figure of a man steering with a paddle, and in full dress, with plumes, ear-rings shaped like whale's teeth, and all the ornaments fashionable in the country. These canoes are placed here to be blessed, we suppose, by the priests. These priests have great power, for they are looked upon as little inferior to the idols. We see this same stone idol represented in a variety of ways, made of human bones, hung round their necks, or carved on their clubs, or making handles to their fans and walking-sticks.
We find that there is no lack of sandal-wood, which raises Golding's spirits. Mine sink when I see the idolatry of these poor people, with no hope that they may be taught better. On descending the valley we pass a morai, or worshipping place, I may call it. On the ground is seated the chief, with his sons, and a large number of his attendants, or courtiers. In front of them are a number of little houses, or sheds, made of bamboo, each about two feet long and rather less in height, and ornamented with shreds of cloth. There are a dozen or more, forming a cluster like a village. The chief and the rest are singing and clapping their hands, and thus they go on for an hour or more. This they call praying to their gods,—a fit homage to gods of wood and stone. Sometimes they stop, and laugh and talk together, as if they have forgotten what they are about. We have seen no human sacrifices, but we have reason to believe that they take place, and from what we hear the people are undoubtedly cannibals. There are several tribes on the islands, in some instances two or more an the same island, who carry on devastating wars with each other, and who all slaughter and eat the captives taken in battle. Though they seem much attached to their country, they firmly hold to the belief that there is a far better land to the east, and numbers are seized with a strong desire to visit it. Year after year the largest canoes are fitted out and provisioned, and men, women, and children crowding on board, they set sail, and away they glide, never to return. Strange to say, that although those who have gone have not again been heard of, others are found equally ready to go in the same direction, believing that their predecessors have reached the happy land. The priests encourage this infatuation, as those who embark leave their property to them. This is faith, but alas! sadly misdirected. It shows a yearning for something better,—to escape from cruel wars and practices and misgovernment, to attain peace and quiet and rest. It is certain that almost all who thus embark perish horribly at sea. A few may be thrown on coral islands,—probably to die,— certainly never to return.
I must speak of the sandal-wood in which we are trading. It is a small tree, with numerous irregular branches, and which with the trunk are covered with a thick red-brown bark. The leaves, which turn inwards, are of a very dark green colour. The flowers, growing in clusters, are white, with a red exterior. The wood is of a light yellow colour, and is very fragrant. It is sold to the Chinese, who burn it as incense in their temples, and manufacture from it a variety of articles. Candles are also made from it thus: a thin sheet of the wood forms a wick, which is surrounded by a mixture of its sawdust and rice-paste.
Our traffic has continued without interruption. Tony Hinks, in command of a boat with Golding, is embarking the sandal-wood, of which a pile lies on the beach. I am watching from the deck through my glass what is taking place. The vendor of the wood is a young chief: he has been examining the articles given him in barter. Suddenly he seems discontented with them, and refuses to put more wood into the boat Golding, who is on shore, threatens him. He lifts his club, and I believe that the last moment of the supercargo has arrived. Tony Hinks is in the boat; he lifts his musket, and before the club can descend on Golding's head a bullet is sent through the chiefs shoulder, and the weapon drops powerless. Howling with rage, he retreats; but it is to summon his countrymen, who with threatening gestures rush on. Golding leaps into the boat amid showers of stones cast from the natives' slings, followed by spears and darts. While some of the men shove off others fire, and load again and fire. The boat is heavily laden, and can with difficulty be moved. I fear that my shipmates will be cut off, and share the fate of Captain Cook, and many others since his day. I order another boat to be lowered, and cry out for volunteers. No lack of them. I send down to the captain—there is not a moment to be lost. I, with eight hands, leap into the boat. Away we pull. The captain comes on deck and calls us back. He points to a fleet of war-canoes coming round the point: he fears that we also shall be cut off, and that the ship, with the loss of half her crew, may fall a prey to the savages. Still I cannot without an effort see my shipmates destroyed. We dash on,—the foam flies from our bows. Hinks has got his boat afloat, but several of his men are wounded; yet they struggle bravely. We open fire, and keep the savages at bay. The war-canoes, however, approach,—Hinks' boat gets up to us. It is doubtful whether we or our enemies will gain the ship first. We pull for our lives. Simon Fuller will fight his ship to the last. Our shipmates are casting loose the guns ready for action. The savages in the war-canoes stand up ready to shower down their darts and stones at us.
"Give them a volley,—give them a volley," shouts Golding.
"It were lost time," I tell my men. "It were better get on board."
We keep ahead of the enemy, and gain the ship's side. The falls are ready,—we hook on,—the boats are hoisted up, and we hasten to man the guns. There is a favourable breeze out of the harbour, the anchor is being hove up, the sails are loosed. The canoes gather round us; the savages begin to assail us with all their weapons, shouting and shrieking terribly. The ship gathers way; the savages, grown bold, are climbing up the sides.
"Depress your guns, lads," says the captain. "Small-arm men, give it them."
The shot goes crashing in among the canoes, knocking many to pieces. Not a native clinging to the sides escapes the small-arm men. Again and again we fire, leaving the natives terrified and amazed at the power of our arms. Our guns loaded with langrage commit great havoc among them. They lose courage,—the ship is clear of them.
"And so we bid you farewell," says Phineas Golding, firing his musket at a chief with whom he had the day before been lodging. We sail out of the bay, firing shot on either side.
"We have a good supply of sandal-wood, however," observes Phineas Golding. "But we had a narrow escape from the savages."
Not a word does he say of his merciful preservation from death; and far be it from me to hint that by my promptness I had a second time saved him, and all with him, from destruction. Tony Hinks, however, when we are clear away at sea, comes up to me and says—
"We owe our lives to you, Mr Harvey. If you hadn't come when you did, it's my belief that not one of us would have escaped."
AMONG THE CANNIBALS.
Afar off appears above the blue line of the horizon a silvery dome clearly defined against the sky. It might be taken for a cloud, but that it never moves its position. It is the summit of the lofty mountain of Mona Roa in Owhyee, the largest of the Sandwich islands, now fully fifty miles away. There are ten of these islands, though eight only are inhabited, the other two being barren rocks on which fishermen dry their nets. As we draw near, other mountain tops are seen, those of Mona Kea and Mona Huararia. Mona Roa is a volcano, and the whole country round is volcanic. It is said to rise above twelve thousand feet above the level of the sea. It is night before we cast anchor in a sheltered bay. Next morning we are surrounded by canoes, and many people come swimming off to the ship, for they are as expert as other islanders of the Pacific in the water. We are plentifully supplied with taro, yams, cocoa-nuts, bananas, and water melons, also with hogs, which are of a large size. Friend Golding, however, finds that he cannot trade with them on the same easy terms as with other savages we have met, for many ships have visited them, and they now require firearms, and powder and shot. These people are much in appearance like those we have before seen—they are tall and athletic, and many of the chief people, both men and women, are of great bulk.
I cannot but remember that it was at this island the renowned navigator, Captain Cook, was slain; and the people have long in consequence been looked upon as very savage and treacherous. This we do not find them to be, but they are heathens given up to gross superstition, and are ignorant and immoral. They carry on bloody wars with each other, offer up human sacrifices, and are, it is reported, cannibals. But if so be they are all this, and more, surely it behoves us as Christians to teach them better things. What, however, do we do? We sell them firearms and ammunition to carry on their wars, we partake in their immorality; so far from showing them any of the graces of our religion, we make them by our lives believe that we have no religion at all, while by all those who visit these shores not a voice is raised to tell them of the truth. We find them more mild and gentle than the people of Tahiti, and very different from the fierce savages of the Marquesas. Not far off is Karakaka Bay, where Captain Cook fell.
We communicate with two other ships while lying here, and the officers all speak in favourable terms of the people. Captain Fuller, therefore, allows us to visit the shore more than he would otherwise have considered safe. We find these people very different from the wild inhabitants of the coral islands we have visited. They have attained considerable proficiency in many arts—their cloth is fine, and beautifully ornamented, as are their mats, but they excel in feather work. The helmets, and mantles, and capes of their chiefs are very beautiful. The helmets are in the form of those of ancient Greece, and are covered with bright red feathers, worked in to look like velvet, with tall plumes, and as their cloaks are of the same texture and colour, and the wearers are tall, powerful men, they have, when armed with dubs or spears, a very imposing and warlike appearance. The king alone is allowed to wear a dress of yellow feathers. The common people, however, wear but scant clothing, none being required in this favoured climate. Their great war-god is Tairi. To propitiate him human sacrifices are offered up, and his idol is carried at the head of their armies. Lesser chiefs have also their idols carried before them. One of their temples, a morai, merits description. It is formed by walls of great thickness, like that at Tahiti. It is an irregular parallelogram, two hundred and twenty-four feet long, and a hundred wide. The walls on three sides are twenty feet high and twelve feet thick, but narrowing towards the top. The wall nearest the sea is only eight feet high. The only entrance is by a narrow passage between two high walls leading up to an inner court, where stands the grim god of war, with numerous other idols on either side of him. In front rises a lofty obelisk of wicker-work, and inside this the priest who acts the part of the oracle takes his stand. Just outside this inner court is the altar on which the human sacrifices are made. Near it stands the house occupied by the king when he resides in the temple, and numerous other idols fill the rest of the space. All have hideous countenances, large gaping mouths, and staring eyes. Tairi is crowned with a helmet, and covered with red feathers. Great labour must have been expended in rearing this vast structure, and in carving all these hideous images, and sad indeed is it to consider the object for which all these pains have been taken.
The king, with whom we have been on good terms, sends to Captain Fuller to beg that he will lend him some of his ship's guns and muskets, and a few of his crew, as he is about to make war on a neighbouring island. I am on shore with Golding and Taro, and while a message is being returned, he invites us to witness the usual ceremonies which take place before war. As we accompany him to the morai, we see dragged on by the crowd no less than eleven men, whose looks of terror, show that something they dread is about to happen. Arrived before the temple, there is a cry from the multitude, who instantly set on them with their clubs. Taro tells us not to grieve; that some are prisoners taken in war, others guilty persons who have broken a taboo, and others the lowest of the people. While we stand shuddering, a concourse of people arrive bearing fruits of all sorts, and hogs, and dogs. The human victims are stripped of all their garments, and placed in rows on the altars; the priests now offer up some prayers to the hideous idol, and then the hogs and dogs are piled up over the human bodies, and the whole, we are told, are left to rot together. Sometimes, on occasions of great importance, twenty-two persons have been offered up.
The oracle is favourable, we hear, and the king sends round to all his subjects to collect at his camp with their arms—spears, clubs, javelins, and slings—ready for battle. No one dares refuse. Vast numbers assemble, but a few only of his immediate attendants have firearms. Nothing can be more fittingly hideous than their idol god of war, with his grinning mouth armed with triple rows of sharks' teeth. A hundred war-canoes are prepared. The army embarks, and, like a flight of locusts, they descend on the opposite coast. We see flames ascending from spots where lately stood smiling villages. A few days pass, and the army returns victorious with numerous captives. Some are forthwith offered up to the war-god, others are kept to be sacrificed on a future occasion. A great chief dies of his wounds, and several victims are offered at his tomb, while, as a sign of grief, his relations and followers knock out their front teeth, and fix them in a tree in his morai. His people also appear to have gone mad, committing every species of abomination, and we hear that many people lose their lives on the occasion.
The Sandwich Islanders have many more idols than those of which I have spoken. There is Mooaru, or the shark god, whose temple stands on almost every point or headland. To him the fishermen offer, on landing, the first fish they have caught that day—for they imagine that he it is who drives the fish to their shores. But the greatest of all their gods, or, at all events, the most feared, is Pele, the goddess of the volcano. She resides on the summit of Mona Roa, and descends in fire and flames to punish her enemies below. She has many priestesses, who appear in the villages with singed garments and marks of fire on their persons, to demand tribute from the inhabitants to avert her vengeance. I do not hear of one of their idols who has a mild or beneficent disposition. All the sacrifices offered are simply to avert their vengeance. The people have no love nor veneration for their idols, and they believe that their idols' chief pleasure is in tormenting and punishing them.
One of the most remarkable objects I have met with in the Sandwich Islands is what may properly be called a city of refuge. It is a sort of morai, surrounded by strong walls, with an entrance on each side. In the interior are temples and numerous houses, in which the priests and occasional occupants reside. Here, whatever crime a fugitive may have committed, if he can reach it he is safe. A victorious enemy in pursuit of foes will come up to the gates, but if the vanquished have entered they are safe. During an invasion of the territory, therefore, all the women and children are sent in here, where they may remain in security. There are several such places of refuge in the islands.
The taboo system is also very curious. The priests govern chiefly in this matter. They settle what or who is to be tabooed, and how long it is to last. To taboo is not only to set aside for a particular object, but to make sacred. The king, a hog, or a house, may be tabooed. During that time people may not do certain acts, and animals or things may not be touched or used. So important are these taboos held, that any person breaking through one of them is punished severely, often with death.
Is it not possible that some of the customs I have mentioned, though barbarous and debased, may have been derived from ancient tradition? Whence has sprung that strange expectation of the return of their long-lost god, Rona, to bring a blessing on their nation? What means that longing for a better land far away in the east, entertained by the Marquesas islanders? The king of this island seems to have great power. He is the owner of all the land, and is the lord and master of all his subjects. He rules wisely, and has the affection of his people.
I might say a great deal more about these Sandwich islanders—their history, habits, and customs, and of the events which have taken place since we have been here, but should I write all I might, my journal would be soon filled. To describe them briefly thus:—Their islands are grand and picturesque; they are very intelligent, and are physically powerful, but they seem abandoned to a debased idolatry, to cruel customs, and to a gross licentiousness. Constant and barbarous warfare, infanticide, and the diseases introduced by their foreign visitors have so rapidly decreased their numbers that the population consists of one-third less now than it did at the time of Cook. Captain Fuller, and the other masters and mates of the ships here laugh at the idea of their ever becoming Christians or civilised, and, in truth, unless they have faith in God's grace, it would seem a hard matter; but I know that He can order all things according to His will, and that, in spite of all man's theories and doubts, He will find means to accomplish His work.
Phineas Golding has just come on board in high glee. He says that he has just heard from Taro, who gets the information I know not how, that there are to the southward of this several coral islands, where abundance of mother-of-pearl and also pearls of great size are to be procured; and thus, instead of sailing west, as we had proposed, he has arranged with Captain Fuller to sail once more south towards the Hervey group, and to touch at the Friendly, Fiji, and many other islands, ere we once more steer north-west towards our destination. To complete our stores, we take in a good supply of salt, to be obtained here in abundance; and then bidding farewell to our friends the Sandwich islanders, we make sail, and steer south.
We find a young lad, the son of a chief, who had managed to secrete himself on board. We ask him why he has done so. He answers that he wishes to see the great country from which we come, and promises to do everything we require if we will let him remain. Captain Fuller consents; but I fear sometimes that he will have a hard life of it. I resolve, however, to protect him as far as I can. He gets the name of Charlie, but no other.
We have sighted several low coral islands, but at length we reach the neighbourhood of a group known as the Penrhyn Islands, about six hundred miles due north of the Hervey group, which we also purpose to visit. We sight a coral island, which we estimate as fifty feet high, nine or ten miles long and five broad, with a deep lagoon in the centre. It is as if a huge coral ring had been thrown down in the ocean. At one end there is an opening, through which a boat can enter the lagoon. The island is covered with groves of cocoa-nut, pandanus, and other trees; and, from the number of huts we see, and the people moving about, it seems to be thickly populated. While the ship is hove-to, I take charge of a boat to carry the supercargo, and Taro, and Charlie; with six men, on shore. We pull round, but find that there is so heavy a surf running that we cannot land on the outside. To save time, Taro and Charlie swim on shore to communicate with the natives. I anxiously wait off to receive their report. After some time we see them running, pursued by many natives. They leap into the water, and dash through the surf. Some of the natives attempt to follow, but our shipmates distance them, and are taken safe on board.
They say the natives, though looking very wild and fierce, were kind in their manners, and invited them up to their houses, and brought them food; but that they soon pressed round them, and began to strip off their clothes, and to take possession of everything they had. Seeing them preparing some hot stones with which to heat an oven, they believed that they were to be cooked and eaten, and so starting up, they rushed headlong for the shore, so completely taking their entertainers by surprise, that no one at first attempted to stop them. They report, however, that they saw pearl-shell ornaments, and even pearls, worn by the savages; which so excites Golding's imagination, that he insists on our attempting further communication with the people. Finding at length the opening into the lagoon, we approach the mouth, the surf breaking over the rocks on either side with great violence. There is a narrow lane of clear water; we pull in; a strong current carries the boat along with fearful speed, and several seas break into her. It seems as if we were in a whirlpool. The rudder has lost its power, and we are spun round and round helplessly; about every moment it seems to be hove on the rocks. She violently rises and falls, and then we are cast, as it were, into the smooth water of the lagoon, though still carried upward for some distance. It strikes me at the moment that we are like mice caught in a trap, and that it must depend on the pacific disposition of the natives whether or not we escape.
At length we steer for the shore, where we see several Indians collected. They retire as we draw near. We again send Taro and Charlie on shore with looking-glasses and trinkets; they go not very willingly. The savages stop, and cast at us glances of suspicion. Then they make a rush forward, seize all the articles they can lay hands on, and again run off. Our two interpreters now come down shaking their heads, and saying that there is no hope of trading with these savages. Still Phineas will not give up the attempt; he has seen the pearls, and is longing for them.
"Why, such a necklace as that would be worth a hundred pounds, or more," he exclaims. "We must have the fellow dead or alive."
He stands up in the boat with his piece, ready to fire. I sternly draw him back, crying out, indignantly:
"I will not allow murder to be committed; for murder it would be, if the men were ten times more savage than they are. They have souls immortal as ours, which we have no right to drive out of their bodies before their time."
"Souls or not, mate, you have made me lose my pearl necklace," says the supercargo, angrily.
"It were better to lose a dozen pearl necklaces, or all the pearls the bottom of the sea can produce, than commit a great crime," I answer, more hotly than usual; and then, knowing that another sort of argument would have more weight with such a man, I added, "Remember, too, we are yet inside the trap. If we kill one of these people, their countrymen may assemble at the entrance, and slaughter every one of us."
This silenced Golding. We pull some way up the lagoon. The water swarms with fish, and the shore seems more fertile than any of the coral islands we have visited. In all directions we see signs of inhabitants, and in some places small canoes hauled up, but none approach us. We now pull back towards the passage by which we entered; but the tide still runs in like a mill-stream. Suddenly we run aground. The men jump out and lift the boat off. We are in a wrong channel. We at length get into what we believe to be the right passage. The men track the boat along, but we make little way. Night comes on rapidly. There will be a moon, but it has not yet risen, and without its light we cannot escape. We secure the boat to the rock, and wait anxiously for that time. Few of us can sleep, for we know not any moment whether the savages may be upon us. Both Taro and Charlie declare, from what they saw on shore, that the people are cannibals. There was also the remains of a wreck burnt on the beach, and they declare their belief that some ship has been cast away there, and the unfortunate crew destroyed. We wait anxiously. Golding says very little; he is evidently ill at ease. I write it, not to boast, but my own mind is far more at ease; for I can say, "In God put I my trust: I will not fear what man can do unto me." Thus, through God's grace, I have always been allowed to feel when in positions of great peril. My shipmates I have heard speak of me as the bravest man among them. So I verily believe I am; but then I am brave not in my own strength, but in the strength of Him who is strong to save. There would be many more brave men in the world, if all knew on whom they may leap confidently for support. There is a kind of bravery that is natural to some, and is a constitutional fearlessness; but a far higher and surer courage belongs to those who have committed their souls to their God and Saviour, and who feel that whatever may befall them, when in the way of duty, must be for the best.
These thoughts pass through my mind as I keep watch while the men are sleeping around me. Still the night continues dark; but as I peep through the obscurity, I fancy that I see against the sky some objects flitting here and there over the rocks. I step cautiously back into the boat, rouse up the men, who seize their arms, and with the oars ready to shove off, if necessary, we wait prepared. The figures approach silently in great numbers, but cautiously stealing along, as if not aware that we are awake. We make no sound. On they come over the rocks, with more ease than we could advance in daylight. In less than a minute they will be upon us. I wish to save bloodshed. There is a faint light in the sky: it is the looked-for moon about to rise. Suddenly the silence is broken by loud unearthly yells, and hundreds of naked forms spring up as it were from the ground upon us.
SAVED BY A STORM.
Never have I heard yells more terrific than those with which the Penrhyn Islanders set on us. We are assailed also with showers of darts and stones, which wound many of our people sorely. Golding, brave as he is on most occasions, utters a cry of terror, and nearly leaps overboard on the opposite side of the boat I give unwillingly the word to fire. Many of the foremost savages fall—the rest hang back. We shove off. The oars are quickly got out. The moon rises. I distinguish the channel. It is almost slack water. We pull for our lives. Golding and Taro stand up and fire. The savages either do not see their comrades fall or do not dread the bullets, for they rush along the rocks still within a few yards of us hurling their stones and darts. I feel assured that if we strike a rock our lives will pay the penalty. The rising moon gives me more light to steer, and allows Golding and Taro to take better aim. It shows us, however, more clearly to the savages. There is still the narrowest channel to pass. The savages are making for the point when, Golding and Taro firing together, two of their chief men fall. It is as I thought, they had not before noticed who had been struck. Now they stop, and with loud howls lift up the bodies of their chiefs. Our men bend to their oars—we dart through the narrow opening, and though many of the savages spring after us, they fail to reach the point in time. Golding and Taro continue firing without necessity. The poor wretches have received punishment enough, and why thus slaughter them when our own safety does not sternly require us to kill? The lights on board our ship greet our sight, and we pull gladly towards her—Golding still uttering his regrets at the loss of his pearl necklace. We reach the ship, and stand off for the night, Golding insisting that he will try his luck to-morrow. The morrow comes, but when we pull in the aspect of the people on shore is so hostile that even Golding acknowledges that we are not likely to get pearls from them this visit. Captain Fuller, therefore, resolves to steer south for the Hervey Islands, according to orders, although, from the accounts I find in Captain Cook's voyages, I doubt much whether our supercargo will be satisfied with the traffic we may chance to open up with the natives.
The first island we made is that of Atiu, the same which Captain Cook calls Wateeoo. It is about seven hundred miles west of Tahiti. We passed not far from the low island known as Hervey Island, which gives its name to the whole group.
We now sail round this island of Atiu, in hopes of finding a landing-place, but none appears—a coral reef surrounds the whole. Still our bold supercargo is anxious to land, and so while the ship stands off and on, I take him, with Taro as interpreter, towards the shore, in the long boat, in which we have a gun mounted. We pull in as close as we may venture outside the surf. Numerous natives are on the shore. Taro beckons, and three small canoes are launched. They paddle swiftly through the surf, and come alongside. Those on the shore stand waving green branches as a sign of amity, so Golding determines to land with Taro. Away they go, and as I may not quit the boat, I watch them anxiously. They land in safety, and vast numbers of the natives instantly close round them. I see them borne up by the throng away from the beach, and then lose sight of them. Two hours pass away, and they do not appear. I begin to dread that they have been cut off. I wait another hour. Just as I am about to return to the ship, the canoes are launched. As they approach, to my disappointment I do not see our shipmates. "The Indians are just thinking that they will knock us on the head," I hear one of my men say. "It will be our fault if we let them," I answer, not feeling, however, altogether satisfied that the man was wrong, yet unwilling to show any fear; "we'll let them know what we can do if they play us tricks. Hand me the slow match." There was a clump of palm-trees close down to the beach. I step forward to the gun, and have the boat's head put towards the shore. On come the Indian canoes paddling rapidly through the surf—the men shouting and shrieking, and whirling their paddles round their heads. I am unwilling to injure the poor wretches. I aim instead at the trees. The white splinters start off on either side from a palm-tree struck by the shot. The effect is like magic, the Indians' threatening shrieks are changed to cries of terror, and in hot haste they dash back through the surf towards the shore. Still we are left in doubt as to the fate of our friends. It is clear that we cannot land to go to their assistance. But I resolve not to give them up. We rest on our oars watching the beach. At length we see a concourse of people coming over a ridge of sand which shuts out the view of the interior from us. Golding and Taro appear in the midst of them. The savages seem to be paying them great respect, and Golding bows with infinite condescension now on one side, now on the other. Canoes are launched, they step into them, and the obedient natives come paddling off to us through the surf. Golding steps on board and signs to the Indians to return. "Now, Harvey, get on board as fast as we can," says he. "It has been a question in my mind all day whether we were to be treated as gods, or to be cooked and eaten; and even now I don't feel quite comfortable on the subject. Your shot turned the scale in our favour, for notwithstanding all Taro's boastings, they had no great opinion of us when they found that we could not bring our big boat through the surf." Taro at length bethought himself of boasting that we could make thunder and lightning, and set off a few cartridges he had in his pocket to convince them. The effect was considerable, but not as great as was hoped for. There was the lightning, but the thunder was wanting. On the hill-side were some ovens with fire in them heating. Taro looked at them suspiciously, not quite satisfied that he might not before long be put inside one of them. Turning about, he saw some warriors walking round and round with huge clubs in their hands. He had no longer any doubt of their intentions. Golding saw them also, and became not slightly uncomfortable. Just then our gun was fired. Many of the natives fell flat on the ground, others rushed hither and thither, while some of the braver examined the trees which had been struck, and reported the effects of the white man's thunder and lightning. Instead of knocking our friends on the head and eating them as they had purposed, the savages came crouching down before them in the most abject manner, as if they were beings altogether of a different nature. Still, as Golding says, the look of those ovens made him glad to get down to the beach, lest the Indians should again change their minds about him.
Two days after this we sight another island. Again Golding goes on shore with Taro, and the captain, and Tony Hinks.
I cannot be surprised if some day Golding is cut off by the savages. He is bold and daring, and far from cautious. Aitutaki is the name of the island. Natives come off to us in great numbers singing and shouting. They are tattooed from head to foot. Never have I seen wilder savages. Some of their faces are smeared with ochre, others with charcoal, and are frightful to behold. We keep on our guard, for we know not any moment that they may venture to attack us. As Taro is on shore we cannot understand what they say. Festing and I allow only a few at a time to come on board. They attempt to climb up the sides, but we keep them off by striking at their hands with boarding pikes, and pointing to the gangway, showing that they may only enter there, a few at a time. Still they persist, when Festing taking up a musket ready at hand, fires it over their heads. They look around for a moment, as if not certain whether they are standing on their heads or their feet, and then leap headlong, some into their canoes and some into the water. They paddle to a distance, but then stopping, look back and threaten us. Festing insists that the only way to make these countries of any use is to sweep the people off into the sea. As to civilising them, that, he says, is impossible. I differ from him. We wait anxiously as before for the return of the captain and our other shipmates. Hour after hour passes by. However great the danger in which they may be placed, we cannot go to their assistance. We begin to fear that they have fallen victims to the savages.
"You and I, Harvey, will have to take the ship home, I suspect," observes Festing; "I am sorry for the old man especially, as we can do nothing to revenge his death."
"That were small consolation," I observe; "nor is that as God wills it."
Festing looks astonished. He would be very angry if he were accused of not being a Christian, and yet, it seems to me, that he encourages feelings and ideas very much opposed to the rules Christ our Master laid down for the government of His disciples.
Evening approaches. With thankfulness I see the boat putting off from the beach. We stand in as close as the reef will let us to meet her. She makes for a narrow channel between the breakers. It is a question whether she will get through. The spray, as it curls upwards, completely conceals her. Or—I look through my glass—has she been capsized by the breakers? No, she is seen again. Her crew give way. She is soon alongside. All have come back safe, though they have been in great peril of their lives.
Captain Fuller has a curious story to tell of the inhabitants of this lovely spot. They are the wildest savages he has ever seen. More like wild beasts than men, yet not so cruel as some of the islanders we have met. As an example. It appears from what Taro has learned on shore, that a vessel calling off here but a few days back, landed a number of natives from another island, who, instead of being killed and eaten, have been kindly treated. The name of the island is Raratonga, but whereabouts it lies Taro could not learn, for the vessel appeared off the coast at early dawn on the east side, and no one saw whence she came. They are young women, and have a pitiable tale to tell of the cruel way in which they were kidnapped by these monsters in human shape. Probably to prevent disputes among his crew, the captain landed these poor creatures, certainly from no motives of humanity if the account Taro gives of them is true.