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In 1817, the South Sea mission received a valuable enlargement of its numbers by the arrival of eight individuals, devoted to the arduous labours of their vocation, including Mr Ellis, to whose various writings the cause of Christianity in those remote parts has been much indebted. He relates, that on the first Lord’s-day he was in the island of Eimeo he assembled with the brethren at their prayer meeting, and afterwards attended the native service. “ It had not commenced when I arrived at the place of worship, yet that and the enclosed ground around it were so crowded that I could scarcely gain an entrance. The service commenced by singing, when the praises of God were sounded by many of the native voices. So attentive were the hearers, so solemn and interesting the appearance of the congregation, such the emotions of pleasure excited in my mind, that I felt quite overcome.
The missionary now named having, at the request of the directors in London, learned the art of printing, had carried out a press, with a suitable assortment of types, in order to furnish to the teachers in the several islands a supply of books. An office was built by the people, who now began to appreciate the value of even the small literary accomplishments which had been placed within their reach. The king, too, manifested a great interest in the proceeding; and to encourage him in the good work, he was invited to throw off the first sheet that was printed in his dominions. Having been told how it was to be done, he jocosely charged his attendants not
* Missionary Records, p. 232. Mr Ellis, in his Researches, vol. ii. p. 207, remarks; that between five and six hundred native Christians were present. “ Their persons were cleanly, their apparel neat, their countenances either thoughtful or beaming with serenity and gladness. The heads of the men were uncovered, their hair cut and combed, and their beards shaven. The appearance of the females was equally interesting; most of them wore a neat and tasteful bonnet, made with the rich yellow-tinted cocoa-nut leaf. Their countenances were open and lively; many had a small bunch of the fragrant and delicately white gardinia, or Cape jessamine flowers in their hair.”
to look very particularly at him, and not to laugh if he should not do it right. I put the printer's ink-ball into his hand, and directed him to strike it two or three times upon the face of the letters; this he did, and then placing a sheet of clean paper upon the parchment, it was covered down, turned under the press, and he was directed to pull the handle. He did so, and when the paper was removed from beneath the press, and the covering lifted up, the chiefs and assistants rushed towards it, to see what effect the king's pressure had produced. When they beheld the letters black and large, and well defined, there was one simultaneous expression of wonder and delight. Pomare took up the sheet, and having looked first at the paper and then at the types with attentive admiration, handed it to one of his chiefs, and expressed a wish to take another. He printed two more; and while he was so engaged, the first sheet was shown to the crowd without, who, when they saw it, raised one general shout of astonishment and joy.”
Two thousand six hundred copies of a spelling-book were soon thrown off, being greatly wanted by the young pupils. Next followed a catechism, scriptural extracts, and a translation of the Gospel according to St Luke. Natives were forthwith instructed to perform the more laborious parts of the duty in the printing-office, for which they received regular wages; and though some obstacles presented themselves in a country where repairs could not be conveniently made, nor necessary wants supplied, the mechanical processes succeeded better than the most sanguine had expected. When we estimate the benefits which the South Sea Islanders have received from the circulation of books, and the advantages which future generations will derive from the es tablishment of the press, we cannot but regard the introduction of printing as a most auspicious event. The 30th of June 1817 was on this account an important day in the history of Otaheite: and there is no act of
* Researches, p. 221.
Pomare's life, the abolition of idolatry excepted, which will be remembered with more grateful feeling than the circumstance of his printing the first page of the first book issued from the native press. The curiosity awakened in the inhabitants was not soon satisfied. His majesty himself paid daily visits; the chiefs attended at the windows and doors; while the populace, applying their eyes to every crevice through which a peep could be obtained, were often heard uttering involuntary exclamations, “ O Britain, land of skill and knowledge !
Nor was the benefit long confined to the island where the manufacture of books was first established. The important intelligence having reached that cluster which is known by the name of the Dangerous Archipelago, a deputation was sent to Eimeo for the
purpose curing teachers and elementary treatises for their countrymen. The Otaheitans were wont to regard these neighbours as belonging to the lowest class of savages, and even as cannibals, speaking of them with the greatest contempt; but Pomare, respecting their motives, took them under his protection, and resolved to gratify their wishes to the utmost extent of his power. When some individuals from a similar tribe were admitted to see the operations of the press, their astonishment had no limits. At first they hesitated to approach it, and seemed doubtful whether they ought to consider it as an animal or a machine. Meanwhile the spirit of competition spread over all the Society Islands, and crowds flocked to the shores of Eimeo for books. The use of money being unknown to the greater part of the inhabitants, they brought as an equivalent portions of cocoanut oil in bamboo canes; and happy did they esteem themselves, if in return for the fruits of their industry they could obtain a volume, more especially a portion of the Sacred Scriptures. Many of them, it is admitted, were influenced by motives of mere curiosity, or by a desire to possess an article of property now highly
Researches, vol. ii. p. 225.
esteemed by all parties. Others perhaps viewed a page of letter-press on a religious subject as a charm, whereby the smiles of fortune might be secured, and the influence of evil spirits averted. But there is also reason to believe that not a few were actuated by a desire to become more fully acquainted with the revelation God had made to man, and to read for themselves, in their own language, those truths which were able to make them wise unto salvation."
Encouraged by their success in Eimeo the missionaries resolved to extend their labours to the Society Islands, situated towards the west and north. Some time had been spent in preparing a vessel as well for the purposes of trade as for the convenience of their families when removing from one station to another; and in the month of December the Haweis was launched in the presence of a vast multitude of the natives who rejoiced to see this addition made to their resources. Profiting by this conveyance, several of the brethren returned to Otaheite, the original scene of their toils and sufferings; some went to Huaheine, and others repaired to Raiatea, where an earnest desire was expressed for their appearance. Every where did the people receive them with gladness, render their utmost aid in the erection of houses and in the acquisition of their language, and even gave heed to their instructions, which were not altogether unattended with the Divine blessing. It is acknowledged, however, that with most of the lower class it was still a merely civil or political change; they renounced their
Mr Ellis relates, that " when the Gospel of Luke was finished, an edition of hymns in the native language was printed, partly original, and partly translations from our
most approved English compositions ; and although the book was but small, it was acceptable to the people, who are exceedingly fond of metrical compositions, their history and traditions having been preserved in a metrical kind of ballad. This circumstance rendered the hymn-book which was completed at Huaheine quite a favourite, and afforded the means not only of assisting in the matter of their praises to Almighty God, but enabled us to convey the most important truths of revelation in the manner most attractive and familiar to the native mind."
idols, and listened to the christian teachers, because their rulers did so, and wished them to follow the example.
In truth, the chiefs had already perceived so many temporal advantages connected with Christianity, that they became desirous, on secular grounds alone, to extend its principles among their dependants. A meeting was accordingly held by them in May 1818, with the view of forming a voluntary association in aid of the society, and of organizing a system whereby they themselves might co-operate with the benevolent foreigners to whom they owed the first knowledge of the true religion. After a suitable discourse by one of the brethren, Pomare addressed the assembly in a forcible manner regarding the object he meant to advocate. He began by reminding them how much of their time was spent in worshipping idols, “what a deal of work they did for their false gods; the whole of their property consumed, their cloth, their pigs, their fish, their canoes, and all their strength and means were thrown away in the service of a piece of wood; even their own lives were sacrificed in hundreds. He had a subject to propose to them, which he thought it was right for them to agree to, and if they did, well; but if not, it was still good. He had to propose to them that they should collect a little property for assisting in spreading the gospel. He explained the means, says Mr Williams, by which we were brought here : it was by giving money to the captains of ships ; for the natives think that we go on board a ship as they go on board of one another's canoes, and sail where we like. But the king told them it was not the case ; on the contrary, that a great quantity of money was given to the
captains before they would bring us. This, he informed them, was obtained from good people who wished the word of God to grow: all the little monies were collected into one big money, by which means they now enjoyed the blessings of the gospel, and he thought it right that they should use their endeavours to send the gospel to other lands, who still are as they themselves once were. He said, although they had no money, yet