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petrators of the crime, a proceeding which could not be easily reconciled with the supposition that he had authorized the commission of it: but say the missionaries,
we have seen so much of him since, that we believe he is capable of committing any wickedness which the devil, his own carnal mind, and his blood-thirsty fol. lowers may excite him to."
This event was soon followed by the death of Mr Lewis, one of their own body, who is supposed to have been murdered, and by the departure of Mr Harris for New South Wales, who, availing himself of the opportunity afforded by the arrival of an English ship, proceeded to that colony. By means of another vessel, which, about the same period, left Port Jackson, letters were received from a clergyman stationed at that town, accompanied by one addressed by Governor King to Pomare, whose warlike schemes tended not a little to disturb his son's dominions, and to frustrate the benevolent designs of the English residents. “ I cannot too much recommend to your majesty's kind protection the society of missionaries whom you have taken under your care, which cannot fail of exciting their gratitude and King George's friendship, which I shall always be happy in
Missionary Records, p. 127. At this period the king was exceedingly unfriendly to the missionaries. In one of their letters they narrate, “Otoo also absented himself from our habitation to-day, but has given us another specimen of his despotism and ingratitude, by plundering us of several hogs and other articles. They add, our knowledge in the language of Tahiti is growing, and we look forward with a pleasing hope to a period when we shall speak it fluently." It is proper to mention that, according to Mr Ellis, Otoo was not altogether responsible for the death of Hamanemane. It appears that during the absence of Pomare in the island of Eimeo, the priest formed a league with the king to deprive the father of all authority in Otaheite. Hence originated the attack on the people of Matavai, when the inhabitants, unable to withstand the monarch and his sacred ally, fled for their lives to the hills. Pomare, enraged at this outbreak, sent private instructions to his consort Idia for his assassination. After some solicitation from his mother, the king, though in the closest alliance with Hamanemane, consented
to his death.--Polynesian Researches, vol. ii. p. 35.
announcing to you.” The kind notices, we are assured, greatly strengthened Pomare's influence with the other chiefs, and operated as a salutary check upon gate seamen who were perpetually fomenting divisions and wars among them.
Aware that a reinforcement had become absolutely necessary to the christian labourers in the Georgian Islands, the Society in London, at a public meeting held on the 7th August 1798, resolved, that the directors be authorized to employ a ship for the purposes of supplying the brethren, who have settled in the Pacific Ocean, with assistance in their labours; of adding to their number, where circumstances may render it necessary; and of planting the gospel in other islands of that ocean, where it shall appear most eligible, from their extent, population, or other favourable circumstances.
The Duff was again selected for the objects now stated, and made ready for sea ; but, when she approached the shores of South America, an enemy hove in sight, Le Grand Buonaparte, a French privateer, which carried thirty missionaries, their wives and families, as prisoners into Rio Janeiro, whence they were ultimately conveyed to Europe. During the two successive years, the affairs of Otaheite were at a low ebb. The natives, who still turned a deaf ear to the gospel, were attacked by a destructive epidemic, which swept a great number of them away, “ their bodies wasted with disease, and their souls hurried into eternity in a state of the utmost insensibility.” In the summer of 1801, a vessel, called the Royal Admiral, arrived from England, having eight preachers on board. On being landed, they were introduced to Pomare, who received them courteously, and with an appearance of great satisfaction ; but it is admitted by those who witnessed the scene, that the only advantage he expected was the aid of their arms to intimidate his enemies, and to render his government more secure. They had carried with them many useful seeds and plants, on the culture of which they ex ed much care. Among these the vine, the fig, and the peach-tree seemed to thrive well, and might have added to the wealth of the islanders, had not a war ensued, in the course of which they were all destroyed.
The hostile rising now mentioned was occasioned by the refusal of the people of Atahuru to deliver Oro, the great national idol, into the hands of Pomare and his son the king. Several conflicts took place, with various success, between the rebels and the royal troops, which could not fail to carry dismay into the hearts of the missionaries. Meanwhile, the arrival of two trading ships on the coast added to their body twenty-three Englishmen, who, finding themselves exposed to a common enemy,
united with them for self-defence. Under one of the captains they checked the progress of the disaffected, who, deprived of their god, fought with the utmost fury. The mission-house was converted into a garrison; the enclosures of the garden were destroyed, and the breadfruit trees were cut down, that they might not afford shelter to the enemy. With similar views, their chapel was also demolished. A strong paling was planted round the building ; boards covered with nails were sunk in the paths leading to it; and thither the seamen retired in company with their spiritual allies, having learned that the next attack would be made upon them. Four brass cannon were fixed in two of the upper rooms, and all the inmates of the dwelling were placed under arms so far as the number of muskets would admit. These preparations produced the effect contemplated by the naval officers. The house was not actually attacked ; and as Rua, the chief of the insurgents, was killed in a skirmish, an armistice followed, though without the formalities of a regular treaty. *
To profit by the improving condition of the country, some of the brethren proceeded into the interior, for the purpose of preaching the gospel. But the unreflecting people, who were not yet prepared to listen to its glad sound, inflicted upon their mild instructors various kinds
Polynesian Researches, vol. ii. p. 59.
of annoyance. They frequently refused to give any attendance whatever ; and at other times, when they did assemble, they either talked all the while about the dress, complexion, or features of the missionaries, or tried to provoke them by base insinuations as to the object of their visit. They also endeavoured to excite the mirth of their companions by ludicrous gestures, or low witticisms on the statements that were made. It was no uncommon practice to bring dogs or fighting cocks, and let them loose at each other, so as completely to withdraw the attention of the audience. On some occasions, while the preachers were occupied with the most earnest exhortations, a band of areois might happen to pass, who, commencing their exhibitions, were sure to attract every one of the inconsiderate congregation. At such times, as is remarked by one of their number, those who had stood round the missionary only to insult him by their reproaches, ridicule him by their vulgar wit, or afflict his mind by their total indifference to the important truths he was declaring, have instantly formed a circle for the strolling players, and gazed on their pantomimic indecencies with the greatest pleasure.*
A circumstance not less unfavourable to the propagation of the christian religion was the impression made on the minds of the ignorant heathens, that a mortal disease, then prevailing in the island, was inflicted by Jehovah, who was supposed to be offended by their neglect of his worship. They did not scruple to tell the brethren that their God was killing the people; threatening, that when Oro once more gained the ascendency, the preachers, in their turn, should feel the effects of divine wrath.t
* Ellis, vol. ii. p. 62.
+ Hitherto the labours of the missionaries had been confined to Otaheite ; but, in December 1802, Mr Bicknell, accompanied by Mr Wilson, made a yoyage to Eimeo, and, travelling round it, preached the unsearchable riches of Christ to its inhabitants, many of whom appeared to listen with earnestness, and desired to be more fully instructed.
In 1803, Pomare the First died suddenly, and without any apparent cause; an event which was generally ascribed to his violent seizure of the great idol, and to the forcible means by which he retained possession. This chief, who possessed more than the ordinary share of vigour and penetration, was a patriotic ruler, brave in the field of battle, and devoted to the improvement of his country. He at no time professed belief in the new religion, having a vague idea that it could not successfully establish itself in the islands of the Pacific until Jehovah should appear in person to vindicate its claims. Being asked on one occasion if he understood what a preacher had stated, he replied, “ there were no such things before in Otaheite; and they were not to be learned at once, but that he would wait the coming of the god.” Shortly before his demise, he recommended the missionaries to the protection of his son, though the more he understood the chief object of their pursuit, the deeper was the aversion he manifested to it. To the favour of the native deities he considered himself entitled for the greatness to which his family had attained ; and if the English instructors would have allowed the claims of Oro and Tané to receive an equal degree of attention with what they claimed for Jesus Christ, he would readily have admitted the Redeemer to a place among the national divinities. But when required to renounce all dependence upon the idols of his ancestors, and to acknowledge Jehovah alone as the true God, he at once rejected their message. Nor did his death in any degree alter the condition of things. On the contrary, it rather tended to confirm the people in their superstition; for on the occasion of a religious ceremony, when his spirit was invoked, it was declared that he was seen by Idia, his wife, and by one of the priests. To the latter it was said he appeared above the waters of the sea, having the upper part of his person bound with many folds of finely braided cinet.
Otoo assumed the name which his father had adopted, as a whim, from being seized with a cough one night