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with perfect safety, whereas if a breeze blow upon our canoes, they are in an instant upset, and we thrown into the sea.
Their persons also are covered from head to foot in beautiful clothes, while we wear nothing but a girdle of leaves. Now I conclude that the God who has given to his white worshippers these valuable things must be wiser than our gods, for they have not given the like to us. We want all these articles, and my proposition is, that the god who gave them should be our god.” But whatever might be the motives, it is certain that the new religion was highly esteemed by all classes ; that the desire for missionaries was intense ; that at many stations the people themselves erected places of worship; and that when assembled together for sacred purposes, they conducted themselves with becoming seriousness. One of the most intelligent of the teachers at the Samoan Isles expresses a doubt whether any of the inhabitants had experienced a change of heart, or that their desire for instruction arose from a knowledge of the spiritual nature of the gospel. Some of them, he admits, thought that by their embracing Christianity, vessels would be induced to visit them ; others imagined that they would thereby be preserved from the malignity of the native gods; many hoped that by adopting the new religion their lives on earth would be prolonged; and a few valued it chiefly as the means of terminating their desolating wars.
It has been already stated, that, in the year 1830, when the missionaries Williams and Barff first landed at Savaii, a dreadful contest was about to take place owing to the murder of Taimafainga, a powerful ruler. By the interposition of these benevolent men the period of hostility was shortened, and a better spirit infused into the minds of the leaders. The happy change confirmed the influence of the new faith, and led to the desire for new teachers, which was gratified to a certain extent, at least, in 1836, when several from England arrived on their shores. At a meeting of the chiefs, among whom was Malietoa, these servants of Christ entreated that the
war should not be renewed. They were assured that it should not, and, moreover, that, if any quarrel arose among the leaders, a reference would be made to them as umpires. The author of a letter from Upolu, dated two years later, calculates, that the number of Christians there is about twenty thousand ; that, in Savaii, there are between twelve and thirteen thousand ; in Tutuila, about six thousand ; and, in Manono, all the people, amounting to not less than one thousand, have openly professed the faith of the Redeemer.
In one of the districts of Aana was held, in 1837, the first missionary meeting in the Navigators' Islands. It was attended by two thousand five hundred persons ; the conquerors and the conquered mingling together. Chiefs of each party delivered speeches on the occasion, in which, while they did not forget the main object of the assembly, they severally made touching allusions to their former contests, contrasting with those sanguinary scenes their present delightful harmony. On the very spot where the last destructive war was waged, a number of flourishing villages now stand, each of which has one or more schools, and divine worship is regularly performed on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Even in their unconverted state, as already noticed, the manners of the Samoans, and their skill in the construction and management of canoes, were greatly superior to those of the Marquesan and the Society Islanders. Now there is farther observed a considerable degree of dignity in their behaviour towards visiters and strangers. The common dress of the men was formerly very slight, consisting of nothing more than a girdle of leaves, while the women satisfied themselves with a shaggy mat, on which they displayed all the ingenuity peculiar to the sex in matters of dress. At present the greater number wear decent wrappers of calico, with shirts and gowns; and when they cannot afford these, they appear in garments of a coarse though not unseemly cloth, manufactured from the bark of trees. Formerly when vessels arrived, muskets and beads were the articles most in demand ; but now the principal inquiry is made for wearing apparel, slates, pencils, and writing paper. The master of a whale-ship recently confessed that he had carried to the Navigators' group forty muskets for barter, and had only sold two. In a word, the history of modern missions does not supply a more powerful inducement to christian zeal, or a more gratifying reward to the intrepidity with which their great objects have been pursued. A few years ago, the European who casually landed on those islands, saw every where prevailing rapine, murder, cannibalism, and other crimes at which his heart sickened ; at present, he may contemplate, at least in the christianized districts
, morals comparatively pure, the exercise of a rational worship, peace, confidence, and brotherly kindness, all heightened by the assured intercourse of social enjoyment.
New Hebrides, the Louisiade, Solomon, and Ladrone
These several Groups have made no Progress in Civilisation or
religious Knowledge—Enjoy a good Climate, and are capable of great Improvement-New Hebrides principally discovered by Quiros-Are in most Parts very fertile-Inhabitants of the Negro Race-Visited by Bougainville and Captain Cook —The Inhabitants of Mallicollo described-Natives of Tanna Cannibals—Details supplied by Quiros-Attempts made by British Missionaries to improve the Natives—Murder of Williams by People of Erromango-Mr Heath succeeds in forming a Station—The Louisiade discovered by Torres, but named by Bougainville-Fierce Character of the Inhabitants - The Solomon Islands made known by Mendana—Visited by Carteret and other Navigators—The Inhabitants NegroesRemarks by Surville, Shortland, and D’Entrecasteaux-New Britain, New Ireland, and New Caledonia—The Natives in a low State of Civilisation - Pelew Islands—The LadronesDiscovered by Magellan—The Scenery very fine and cheering-People oppressed by a bad Government– Proceedings of the Romish Missionaries—Island of Guam-Inhabitants profess Christianity.
Of the several groups now specified, as they have not yet made
progress in civilisation or religious knowledge, our account will be very brief, referring chiefly to their position, discovery, and physical properties. The first in order has indeed incurred an unfavourable distinction, as being the scene where Mr Williams, the indefatigable missionary, lost his life, under the hands of the
savage natives. In other respects, it lays no claim to the attention of Europeans, beyond that prospective importance which most of the islands of the Pacific possess, on account of their fine climate, valuable productions, and, above all, the capability they present of being one day converted into colonies, where an enlightened faith, science, art, and commercial activity, will ensure to the inhabitants all the blessings of social life.
The New Hebrides, including the islands discovered by Captain Bligh in 1789, are situated between lat. 13° 15' and 20° 5' S., and long. 166° 40' and 170° E. The largest of the whole is Tierra del Espiritu Santo, which was first made known by Quiros in the year 1606. It extends more than seventy miles from north-west to south-east, with an average breadth of twenty-five. Farther south is Mallicollo, which is more than sixty miles long, and about twenty-eight broad, having a good harbour, called Port Sandwich, near its southern extremity. Erromango is fully eighty miles in circumference, and Tanna, which lies at no great distance, is computed to be at least twenty in length. In the latter, a volcano exists in a state of great activity; and, indeed, most of the cluster appear to have had their origin in the action of subterraneous fire. Hence the peculiar form of the islands which rise into lofty hills, and even mountains of great elevation. The valleys and level tracts along the coast are extremely fertile, displaying an immense profusion of vegetable riches. It is said, that more than forty different kinds of trees and plants are cultivated. The banana, sugar-cane, yam, arum, batata, and curcuma, are grown with great care in fields regularly divided.
The cocoanut, bread-fruit, the cabbage-tree, figs, almonds, and oranges, are common. Bamboos, pepper, and mastic, are abundant, and the nutmeg-tree also frequently occurs. The usual domestic animals are reared, especially the pig, hogs, and a variety of fowls. The inhabitants belong to the race of Australian negroes, who also occupy part of the Fijee Islands; but judging by their agriculture, it must be admitted that they have made farther advances in civilisation than any other of the kindred tribes.
Besides the obligations we owe to Bligh and Quiros for our knowledge of the New Hebrides, we are also indebted to Bougainville, who made some important dis