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OF THE SOUTH SEA ISLANDS,
WITH NARRATIVE OF THE INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY, &c.
RIGHT REV. M. RUSSELL, LL.D. AND D.C.L.
OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, OXFORD.
"Till 'midst the streams of distant lands,
The islands sound his praise;
And all combin'd, with one accord,
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
HARVARD COLLEGE HORARY
GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
JUN 21 1940
THE main object of this volume is to throw light on the introduction of Christianity and civilisation into the islands of the South Sea. From the moment that Wallis discovered the beautiful group which bears the name of George the Third, many schemes were formed for bettering the condition of the natives, who, at their first interview with Britons, though they saw much to excite their wonder, could receive no favourable impression as to the obligations of morality on the cultivated mind. It was not, however, till a later period that any plan was matured for conveying thither the knowledge of true religion and the elements of social improvement. Mercantile speculation had, indeed, been invited to the shores of Otaheite in quest of materials on which to found an intercourse beneficial to the inhabitants of both hemispheres; and Science had selected the spot as a theatre for her triumphs in the sublime department of astronomy. But the year 1796 had arrived before the benevolent spirit of the gospel undertook a nobler mission, animated by the hope of establishing among the gentle savages of the Pacific the foundations of a pure faith and the motives to a holy life.
A variety of opinion continues to prevail as to the effects produced by the labours of the missionary. Without presuming to determine the several points at issue
on dogmatical grounds, the author has supplied ample materials for forming a clear judgment, both as to what has been already accomplished, and also in regard to the result which must necessarily follow. A change has commenced, the consequences of which, for good or for evil, will undoubtedly be permanent. In no case has the convert, on either side of the equator, relapsed into his former usages, nor revived the hereditary superstition. His new belief may not be fully comprehended, and its influence on his conduct may be at once imperfect and unsteady; but, in all respects, he holds it to be incomparably better than that which he has relinquished, more reasonable in itself, and infinitely more conducive to his happiness. It is accordingly admitted by all who have visited those distant regions, that the cruel abominations of heathenism have not been any where resumed. A principle has been put in operation which no human power can counteract, for it has already connected itself with new institutions affecting the very basis of society, and given birth to hopes that can never be extinguished in the human heart.
Some pains have been taken to exhibit the actual condition of society in Polynesia ;-the manners which have been adopted by the natives from their European visiters; the improvement of taste and sentiment among the higher class; a desire for the conveniences and even the luxuries of civilized life; and, above all, the disappearance of those gross indulgences which so often called forth the reprobation of the religious teacher. A view is also given of the manufacturing industry and commercial relations which have been established in some of the islands, more especially in those of the Sandwich group, where consuls from England and the United States have for some time past resided under the protection of the local government.
The attention of the reader is more particularly drawn to New Zealand, which, viewed in reference to trade and colonization, has of late assumed a paramount degree of importance in the eye of the public. Details are pre