In the morning the ship's boat came to fetch him off, and he took the chiefs back with him to the ship to receive presents and be introduced to those who were to live among them. There was also a formal reconciliation with Duaterra and his tribe, and the wondering Maories took their travelled brother into high estimation when they really beheld the animals they had imagined to be mere creations of his fancy, and were specially amazed at the sight of Mr. Marsden mounted on horseback.
Duaterra, meantime, of his own accord, was making preparations for the first Sunday service held in New Zealand. It was likewise the Christmas Day of 1815, and Mr. Marsden felt it a most appropriate moment for his first proclamation of the good tidings of great joy among this most distant of the nations. Duaterra's ideas of a church consisted in enclosing about half an acre of land with a fence, and erecting in the midst a reading-desk three feet, and a pulpit six feet high, both made out of canoes, covered with either black native cloth or some canvas he had brought from Port Jackson, and ranging near them some bottoms of old canoes, as seats for the English part of the congregation, and on the hill above he hoisted, of his own accord, the British flag.
On the Sunday morning Duaterra, his uncle, and Koro Koro, another chief who had been in Australia, all appeared in regimentals given them by Governor Macquarie, swords by their sides, and switches in their hands, and all their men drawn up behind them. When the English had entered, the chiefs arranged their tribes, and Mr. Marsden began by singing the Old Hundredth Psalm, the first note of praise to the Creator that ever rung from the bays and rocks of New Zealand. Then he went through the Christmas Day service, his twenty-two English joining in it, and Koro Koro making signs with his switch to the natives when to stand and when to sit. Mr. Marsden ended with a sermon on the Angelic greeting, and when the natives complained that they could not understand, Duaterra promised to explain afterwards, and this he performed—it may be feared, after a fashion of his own, for as yet he was very ignorant, although very acute.
Mr. Marsden's principle was not that of Eliot, to begin with the faith, then come to civilization. He thought that the benefits of civilization would lead to the acceptance of the faith; and, besides, he had only laymen to act as teachers; and, as his system was that of the Church, he could only employ them in laying foundations, in preparing instead of admitting converts, while his own duties only permitted of his making flying visits. So he established his settlers to show the benefits of peace, industry, and morality, and thus bring the natives to look higher. Seed, tools, clothing, he assisted them in procuring and using, but his smith was expressly forbidden ever to make or repair any warlike weapon, or the settlers ever to barter muskets or powder for any possession of whatever value with the natives. He likewise strove, in his conversations with the chiefs, to show the evils of their vices in such a manner as their shrewd minds could enter into, trying to make them see the disgrace and horror of cannibalism, and the inconveniences of polygamy, thus hoping to raise their standard.
In order that the mission settlement might have some security, he purchased a plot of land in the name of the Church Missionary Society, drawing up a regular deed of sale, to which his signature was affixed, together with a likeness of the tattooed pattern of the Maori chieftain's face. Duaterra walked about with him in delight, talking of the time when the church should be built, and planning the spot; but the poor fellow had probably never recovered the injury his constitution had suffered, for he fell ill, and his state was soon hopeless. It was a great grief to Mr. Marsden, who had reckoned much on his assistance, and found it hard to acquiesce in the will of Providence, more especially as the poor young man was not yet so entirely a Christian as to warrant baptizing him. He begged Mr. Marsden to pray with him, but he kept his heathen priest at hand, and his mind was tossed to and fro between the new truth and the old superstition. In this state Mr. Marsden was forced to leave him, four days before his death, when Kendall, who visited him to the last, was shocked at the savage manner in which his relatives gashed themselves, to show their grief, and far more when his favourite wife stole out and hung herself, according to a frequent custom, regarded as rather honourable than otherwise!
Soon after his death fresh wars broke out, and a hostile tribe encamped near the mission settlement, loudly threatening to kill and devour the inhabitants, who, for months together, had to keep watch day and night, put their children to bed in their clothes ready for instant flight, and had their boat always afloat with oars and sails; but they remained steadfast, and the danger passed over.
The Active plied backwards and forwards, supplying them with the necessaries of life, and bringing guests to the farm at Paramatta, where Mr. Marsden provided instruction for them. Two, named Tooi and Teterree, were sent in charge of Mr. Nicholas to visit England in a King's ship, where they had learnt to speak English tolerably, and to follow the customs of civilized society. They were gentle and intelligent, and eager to learn, but no one could reckon on what would interest or excite them. They were taken to see St. Paul's Cathedral, which did not seem to strike them at all; but, as they were walking along Fleet Street, they came to a sudden stand before a hairdresser's shop, screaming out, "Women, women," as they beheld the display of waxen busts, which they thought did credit to the Pakeha, or English, style of preserving dried human heads! Like Duaterra, their great anxiety was to see King George; but, in 1817, the apology recorded in Teterree's English letter was only too true,—"I never see the King of England, he very poorly; and Queen Charlotte very poorly too."
On their return to Paramatta, Mr. Marsden made a second visit to New Zealand, taking them back, and also going to instal some fresh missionaries and mechanics on a new settlement. There was great competition among the chiefs; for the possession of a Pakeha, or Englishman, was greatly coveted as a means of bringing the material good things of life, and Mr. Marsden was eagerly assured that there was no danger of the English being killed and eaten, since the Maori flesh was much sweeter, because the whites ate so much salt. There was as yet no convert, but Mr. Marsden's resolution by no means failed him; he believed—and he was right—that kindness, truth, and uprightness, in those who could confer temporal benefits, would, in time, lead these intelligent men to appreciate the spiritual blessings that were offered to them.
Presents of hoes, with which to plant the sweet potato, were greatly appreciated. Hunghi's head wife was working away with a wooden spade, though perfectly blind, and was delighted with the new instrument. Indeed, Hunghi was one of the most eager friends of the mission, though the splendidly tattooed heads of his enemies decorated his abode, and he defended cannibalism, on the ground that animals preyed upon one another, and that the gods devoured each other. His manners had all the high-bred courtesy that marked the chief, and he was a noble-looking creature, full of native majesty and gentleness. Every hope was entertained of him, and he was sent, in 1820, to visit England, where he had an interview with George IV., and received presents of weapons from him. But the moral Hunghi brought home was, "There is but one king in England. There shall be but one in New Zealand." And this consummation he endeavoured to bring about by challenging a hostile chief whom he met on his way back from Sydney to New Zealand. He gained the battle, by arranging his men in the form of a wedge, and likewise by the number of muskets with which he was able to arm them. When the chief himself fell by his hand, he drank his fresh blood, and devoured his eye, in the belief that it thus became a star in the firmament, and conferred glory on himself; and the whole battle-field was covered with the ovens in which his followers cooked the flesh of the prisoners whom they did not keep as slaves!
This horrible scene took place while Mr. Marsden was in Australia, but he could hardly have prevented it. Probably the chief's ferocity, so long repressed, was in a state of reaction; for, though the missionaries were not molested, their efforts seemed lost. Hunghi declared that he wished his children to learn to fight, not to read; and the Maoris insisted on being paid for any service to the missionaries in fire-arms and powder. When this was refused they became insolent and mischievous, intruding into the houses, demanding food, breaking down the fences, and stealing whatever they could seize; and there was reason to fear that any excitement might lead to absolute danger. In this crisis some of the missionaries failed, sold ammunition, and otherwise were wanting in the testimony they were intended to maintain. The tidings determined Mr. Marsden on making a fourth visit to New Zealand: and this time he was able to take with him a clergyman, the Rev. Henry Williams, who lived to become Bishop of a Maori district. It was nine years since the first landing there, and, in spite of all disappointments, he found many of the natives much improved, and the friendly chiefs quite able to understand his prohibition against the sale of powder, although they were at first inclined to be angry at his having sent home a missionary on that account. The other missionaries expressed repentance for their errors, but he was not thoroughly satisfied with them, though allowing much for their isolation from Christian society and ordinances.
A Wesleyan mission had been established at Wangaroa, which he visited and assisted, and finding Mr. Leigh, the chief minister, very ill, offered him a passage to Sydney for advice, but this ship had scarcely weighed anchor before a great storm came on; the ship was lost, and the crew and passengers had to land in boats, and return for two months longer before a ship could be found to bring them home, and in this time he did all in his power to bring the Maories to agree to some settled form of government under a single chief; but though any chief, especially Hunghi, was quite willing to be that one, nobody would be anything secondary, and thus the project failed. He also set the missionaries the task of endeavouring to collect a fixed vocabulary and grammar, which might be available in future translations. The great kindness shown him at his shipwreck had greatly touched his heart, especially in contrast with the usage he was meeting with in Australia, for this was in the height of the persecution about Ring, which detained him at home for more than two years. During this time Mr. Williams was joined by his brother William, also a priest of the English Church, but the wars of the Maories had become so desperate that the peril of the missionaries had been much increased; indeed, the Wesleyans had had the whole of their premises ravaged, so that the minister came as a fugitive to find a refuge at Paramatta, as a guest of Mr. Marsden.
That brave soldier of his Lord decided on going at once to the scene of peril. Though sixty-three years old, he sailed as soon as possible in H.M.S. Rainbow, but found peace restored and the danger to his missions over. He therefore came back, after remaining only five days at his labours in New South Wales, to the superintendence of the translation of several chapters of Holy Scripture, and to the instruction of the young Maories at the sort of college he had tried from the first to keep up at Paramatta, but which he was forced to abandon, since the delicate lungs of the Maories could not endure the parching dryness of the Australian climate.
By the time he went again to New Zealand, in 1830, Hunghi had been killed in battle, and the nation was fast dwindling between war and a disease resembling the influenza. It was estimated that in twenty years the numbers had diminished by one-half, and in the meantime English settlers were entering on the lands so numerously that it was evident that before long the islands would be annexed to the British crown. Mr. Marsden had hoped at first that this brave and intelligent people might have been Christianized and civilized, so as to stand alone, but finding that their deadly feuds and internecine savagery rendered this impossible, he thought it best to prepare them to come willingly under a curb that he trusted would be no more than beneficial.
He found the missionaries much alarmed, for a horrible battle had just been fought, caused by the misconduct and insulting behaviour of the crew of an English ship. One tribe had taken their part, another had risen to revenge the affront, and a great mutual slaughter had taken place; victory had remained with the avengers, and though the offending crew had sailed away, it was apprehended that all the English might suffer in their stead. There was not an hour to be lost. Mr. Marsden and Mr. Williams crossed the bay and entered the camp of the English allies, where they were affectionately greeted, and allowed to carry proposals of peace to the victorious party, but there they met with a less friendly reception, being told that they were answerable for the lives of those who had fallen in the battle, since it had been occasioned by the misconduct of their countrymen. When Mr. Marsden promised to write to England to prevent the return of the offenders, the savages desired he would do no such thing, since they only desired vengeance. However, they agreed to hold a meeting with the hostile tribe, and endeavour to come to terms. Early the next morning thirty-six canoes arrived opposite to the mission station, some containing forty men; and notice was given that if the commissioners appointed on either side did not come to terms, the white men would be the sacrifice.
The day was spent in conferences, but at night the chief of the hostile tribe clove a stick in two, in token that his anger was broken, and the two parties joined in a hideous war-dance, frequently firing their muskets; but peace was ratified, and Mr. Marsden found that real progress had been made among the natives around the stations. Many had become true and sincere Christians, among them the widow and daughters of Hunghi. A Maori Christian woman was married by Mr. Marsden to an Englishman. She made all the responses in good English, and appeared in decent English clothes of her own sewing. He also married a young man, free, and of good family, to a girl who had been a slave taken in war, who was redeemed from her master for five blankets, an axe, and an iron pot. A number of natives lived round the missions, attending the services, and working with a good deal of industry and intelligence, and an increasingly large proportion of these were openly baptized Christians.
A seventh visit was paid by Mr. Marsden in 1837, when seventy-two years of age. On his return an officer in the ship observed: "I think, sir, you may look on this as your last visit to New Zealand." "No," he answered, "I intend to be off again in about six weeks; the people in the colony are becoming too fine for me now. I am too old to preach before them, but I can talk to the New Zealanders." He adhered to his purpose, and his daughter, Martha, who had been with him on his last voyage, accompanied him again in this. There had been some quarrels with the crews of ships, but the natives always separated Mr. Marsden from the misdeeds of his people, and the old chiefs were delighted to see him. "Stay with us and learn our language," one of them said: "become our father and our friend, and we will build you a house." "No," replied another, "we cannot build a house good enough, but we will hire Europeans to do it for us."
Wherever he went, he was hailed as the friend of the Maori, and he made a progress through all the mission stations, which were growing up numerously, and whence Christianity was fast spreading by the agency of the Maories themselves. A chief named Koromona, made captive in Hunghi's great war, who had become blind, had been converted by Mr. William Williams, and soon learnt the whole Liturgy, with many chapters of the Bible, and hymns, by heart, and was fit to be sent as a teacher among the other tribes. Sunday was generally observed, cannibalism and polygamy were retreating into the more remote and heathenish regions, and there was every token that the noble Apostle of New Zealand had verily conquered a country and people for the Church of God. Terrible wars among the tribes, provoking all the old ferocities, still were liable to arise, and the whaling crews, among whom might be found some of the most unscrupulous, licentious, and violent of mankind, continued to take advantage of there being no regular jurisdiction to commit outrages, which spread corruption or provoked retaliation, and for this there was no remedy but annexation to the British crown, which the influence of the mission was leading the natives themselves to desire, though this was not carried out till after Mr. Marsden's death.
This last visit took place in 1837. By that time the persecutions and troubles of Mr. Marsden's colonial life had been outlived,—though even as late as 1828, he writes about a pamphlet which actually charged him with inflicting torture to extract confession! But his character outweighed all such absurd charges, and as a more respectable class of settlers flowed into the colony he was better appreciated. What the tone must have been may be guessed from the fact that when, in 1825, Governor Darling began regularly to attend church with his wife and family, it was regarded as an unexampled act in the supreme magistrate!
Mr. Marsden lost his wife in 1835, but his daughter did her best to minister to his happiness, and was his companion and assistant in all he undertook. Once, when she was driving with him, two of the most terrible of the bushrangers, who were feared by the whole country, broke forth upon them, seized the horse, and holding a loaded pistol to Mr. Marsden's breast, bade her empty his pockets into their hands, threatening to shoot them both if either said a word. Nevertheless, the fearless old man continued to remonstrate with them on their wicked life, telling them that he should see them again upon the gallows, and though they charged him with savage threats not to follow them with his eyes, he turned round and continued to warn them of the consequences of a life like theirs. In a few months' time they were captured, and it did actually fall to his lot to attend them to the scaffold.
Yet, though of this fearless mould, he was one of the most loveable of men; everyone on his farm, as well as all little children, and the savages he conversed with, all loved him passionately. Some young Maories, whom he brought back on his last voyage, used to race after his gig to catch his eye, and when they took hold of any book, used to point upwards, as if whatever was associated with Matua, as they called him, must lead to heaven. He was fond of playing with children, and never was so happy as when he yearly collected the schoolchildren of Paramatta on his lawn, for a feast and games after it.
In 1834, the Rev. William Grant Broughton, one of the clergy of Australia, took home an account of the spiritual destitution of New South Wales, and the effect was that in 1836 a bishopric was there created, and the first presentation given to him. Some thought that this was a passing over of the chaplain who had laboured so hard for so many years, but Mr. Marsden himself only observed that it was better thus: he was too old a man, and it was with sincere goodwill that he handed over the charge he had held for more than forty years, so that only the parish of Paramatta remained to him, and there he continued his ministry in church, to the sick, and among the poor to the end.
On the last Sunday of his life he seemed in his usual health; but for the first time he did not take part in the service, and at the celebration he seemed to be so overcome by his feelings as not to move from his place to communicate, when, after a pause, his son-in-law went to him with the sacred elements. There were many tears shed by those who foreboded that his hand would never administer to them again. On the Tuesday he set out for a short journey, but apparently he took a chill on the way to the house of his friend, Mr. Styles, at Windsor, and arrived unwell; erysipelas in the head came on, with a stupor of the faculties, and he died on Saturday, the 12th of May, 1838,—a man much tried, but resolute, staunch, and gallant, and, in the end, blessedly successful.
Two years later, New Zealand, by the wish of the Maories themselves, was added to the British dominions, a bishopric was erected there, and, did not our bounds forbid us to speak of those who are still among us, we could tell much of the development, under Bishop Selwyn, of Samuel Marsden's work: though, alas! there is a tale to tell that disgraces, not our Government, but our people,—a story of lust of land and of gain, and of pertinacious unfairness towards the Maori, which has alienated a large number of that promising and noble people, led to their relapse into the horrors from which they had been freed, overthrown their flourishing Church in favour of a horrid, bloodthirsty superstition, and will probably finish its work by the destruction of the gallant race that once asked our protection.
CHAPTER IX. JOHN WILLIAMS, THE MARTYR OF ERROMANGO.
Of Welsh extraction, and respectable though humble parentage, the pioneer and martyr of Polynesia, John Williams, was born at Tottenham High Court, London, in the year 1796. His parents were Nonconformists, and he was educated at a "commercial" school at Edmonton, where the teaching did not aim at much beyond writing and accounts, all that was supposed, at that time, to be needful for a young tradesman. The chief point remembered of his childhood was an aptitude and handiness which caused all little breakages to be kept for John to repair,—a small quality, but one of no small importance in the life of a missionary, who often finds ready resource essential to safety and to influence.
His mother was a good and religious woman, whose one great purpose in choosing a situation was to place him in a family where he might be influenced for good; and she was fortunate in finding a furnishing ironmonger whose care of his apprentices exactly met her views. While serving his time, John Williams was observed to delight in the hard practical work of the forge far more than in the easier and more popular employments of the shop, and he was always eager to be sent out to execute repairs, a task that was rather despised by his companions. He was not regarded as a religious youth till he was about eighteen; he considered that a serious direction had been given to his mind one Sunday evening, when his master's wife, finding him just about to enter a tea- garden with some idle companions, persuaded him to come with her to chapel, where he heard an impressive sermon that gave a colour to his life.
After this, distinct habits of piety were formed, Williams was admitted to full membership at the chapel called the Tabernacle, and, together with others of the more earnest young men of the congregation, formed a society called "The Youths' Class," one of those associations which, under whatever form, have, in all ages of Christianity, been found a most powerful and salutary means of quickening, uniting, and strengthening the young by the sense of fellowship. The lads met every Monday evening for discussion, and every eighteenth Monday was devoted to special prayer. The minister of the chapel did not naturally preside, but would often look in, say a few words on the subject in hand, and thus keep watch that the debates were properly conducted.
It was through this pastor, Mr. Wilks, that John Williams first imbibed his interest in the missionary cause,—an interest that gradually grew upon him so much, that in his twentieth year he decided upon devoting himself to the task. Good Mr. Wilks freely gave the young ironmonger assistance in supplying the deficiencies of his education, and in July 1816 he was presented to the directors of the London Missionary Society, and passed an examination, after which he was accepted, before he was out of his apprenticeship. According to rule, so young and so insufficiently instructed a man would ordinarily have had some years of training before actually undertaking to labour among the heathen, but there was at the moment an urgent call for aid from various branches, and it was decided, by a special vote of the committee, to send him out as soon as possible to the South Sea Islands. His master willingly released him from the seven months that remained of his term; nor had his time of apprenticeship been by any means wasted, for the mechanical skill he had acquired was of great importance to his success as a civilizer. Marriage was always recommended to the missionaries of the Baptist Societies, and Williams's fate was no sooner decided than he chose Mary Channer, a constant attendant at the Tabernacle, and a woman helpful, kind, and brave, as befitted a missionary's wife.
A great meeting was soon after held, as a sort of dedication of the new labourers, nine in number, who were thence to go forth,—five to South Africa, four to Polynesia. Among the Africans was Robert Moffat, a name memorable, both on his own account and as the father-in-law of Livingstone. An elderly minister stood forth and questioned the young men in the face of the congregation on their faith, their opinions, their motives, and their intentions; and then a Bible was solemnly presented to each by an elder minister, John Angell James, of Birmingham, one of the most able and highly reputed Nonconformists then living; and another minister, Dr. Waugh, addressing himself to Williams, who was much the youngest of the nine, said, "Go, my dear young brother, and if your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth, let it be with telling poor sinners the love of JESUS CHRIST; and if your arms drop from their shoulders, let it be with knocking at men's hearts to gain admittance for Him there."
The impression never left John Williams, and the injunction was fulfilled to the utmost of his power. He was a man of strong and vigorous frame, well fitted to encounter the perils of climate; and with much enterprise, hardihood, and ingenuity. That his mind was in some degree narrowed by want of education, perhaps mattered less in the peculiar field of his labours, where he was seldom brought in contact with wide questions. He had the excellent quality of ready sympathy and adaptability to the persons around him, whether civilized or savage, and was so good-natured and yielding in unimportant matters, that the strength and firmness with which he would stand up for whatever he viewed as a matter of conscience, always took his opponents by surprise; but it was always long before this point was reached, and he was perhaps too ready to give up when it was judgment rather than right and wrong that came into play. Williams's face, as given in the portrait attached to his "History of Missionary Enterprise in the South Sea," curiously agrees with his history. There is much power about the brow, much enterprise in the strong, somewhat aquiline nose, great softness and sweetness in the eyes, but the thickness of the lips and chin betray the want of cultivation; indeed, the curious manner in which the mouth is pursed up, would seem to indicate that an eager temper naturally kept it unclosed, and that the restraint of sitting for a picture rendered the expression uncomfortably prim.
The Polynesian Mission on which John Williams was sent, had been commenced in 1796 by the London Missionary Society, partly in consequence of the death-bed entreaties of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, who had been exceedingly interested by the accounts of the South Sea Islands in Captain Cook's Voyages. The subscriptions amounted to 10,000l., and were sufficient to purchase a ship called the Duff, which was commanded by that Captain Wilson whose wonderful history has been noticed in the lives of the Serampore body. Twenty-five missionaries were taken out, and received at Tahiti with grotesque dances and caperings. The dwelling, which had been erected when Captain Bligh was collecting bread- fruit, was given to them, and several were placed there, while the Duff carried others to the Friendly and Marquesan Islands, and, after visiting them all a second time, returned home for reinforcements.
On the next voyage, however, with a different captain, the Duff was captured by a French privateer, the captain of which, when he understood the purpose of the voyage, greatly regretted what he had done, and declared that he would rather have given 500l. than have interfered with it. He landed the missionaries at Monte Video, and assisted them in obtaining a passage home, in the course of which they were again captured by a Portuguese, whose treatment of them was a wretched contrast to that of the friendly Frenchman.
Meantime, many disasters had befallen the unassisted missionaries, who suffered from the hostility of a section of the natives, though the king, Pomare, always protected them. One of their number insisted on marrying a native woman still unconverted, separated from his brethren, and was soon after murdered by the natives. Another was lost in a still sadder way. He reasoned himself into doubts of the Divine power and of the immortality of the soul, and finally left the island, nor was he heard of again for many years, though prayer was constantly made for him, and at length it became known that he had wandered to Serampore, where the influence of Marshman and Carey had prevailed to bring back his faith, but he had since been lost at sea. What wonderful glimpses we get of strange wild lives!
But the Tahitian Mission had not included any one leading character, so that it may be enough to state that, after years of patient effort and often of danger, the missionaries beheld King Pomare II., the successor of him whom they had found on the throne, solemnly burn his idols, and profess himself a Christian.
From that time the island has been Christian. The standard of morality has been by no means as high as it ought to be, and there is much disappointment in dealing with any nation, with none more so than with an indolent and voluptuous people, in a climate disposing them to inertness, and in a part subject to the visits of lawless seamen of all nations. However, the mission kept its hold of Tahiti, until the French, in 1844, began a series of aggressions, which ended in their establishing a protectorate over the islands, introducing their Church, and doing all in their power to discourage the London Mission, to which, however, many of the natives still adhere.
This, however, is anticipating. When the five young men sailed in 1817, and after a kindly welcome on their way from Mr. Marsden at Sydney, things were in the full blush of promise. Eight hundred people worshipped at the chapel of Erineo, near the landing-place. It was a circular building, a good deal like a haystack, with walls of stakes, a thatch of large leaves, and a desk in the centre of the floor for the preacher. This was his first station, and whilst there he gave his assistance in building a ship, to enable King Pomare to open a trade with New South Wales. He stayed in this place till he had become familiar with the language, and his first child was born there.
Not long after some allies of Pomare, from Huahime, struck with the benefits produced among the Tahitians by the missionaries, entreated that some might be sent to them likewise; and Williams, his wife and child, with two other married pairs, and an interpreter, were told off for the mission.
They were welcomed eagerly, had oval huts assigned to them, and no lack of pork and yams, but Mr. Williams did not long remain there, being called away by an invitation from Raiatea. This is one of the loveliest of tropical islands, the largest of the Society Islands. Huge mountain masses rise from the centre of an isle, about fifty miles in circumference, and give it the grandeur of the rock, the precipice, and the waterfall; but all around and below, the sides are clothed with the exquisite verdure of the southern clime, the palm, the bread-fruit, the yam, and all that can delight the eye; and both this and a little satellite islet are fenced in by an encircling coral reef, within which is clear still deep water, fit for navies to ride in, and approachable through numerous inlets in its natural breakwater. It was a spot of much distinction, containing the temple of the god Oro, who was revered by all the surrounding groups, as the god of war, to whom children were dedicated to make them courageous. There dreadful human sacrifices were offered, concluded by cannibal feasts. Whenever such a sacrifice was required, the priest and king despatched messengers to the chiefs of the districts around to inquire whether they had a broken calabash, or a rotten cocoa-nut. These terms indicated a man whom they would be willing to give up. The victim was then either knocked down with a blow of a small stone at the back of his head, or else speared in his own house; and when one man of a family had thus been sacrificed, all the rest had the same horrid preference.
The last human victim of Tahiti was verily a martyr. He was designated because he had begun to pray. The emissaries came to his house and asked his wife where he was. Then, borrowing from her the ironwood stick used for breaking open cocoa-nuts, they went after him, and knocked him down with it, binding him hand and foot, and placing him in a long basket made of cocoa-nut leaves. His wife rushed forward, but was kept away, as the touch or breath of a woman is considered to pollute a sacrifice. The man, however, recovered the blow, and spoke out boldly: "Friends, I know what you intend to do with me. You are about to kill me, and offer me up as a tabae to your savage gods. I know it is vain for me to beg for mercy, for you will not spare my life. You may kill my body, but you cannot hurt my soul, for I have begun to pray to JESUS."
On hearing this, his bearers set him on the ground, put one stone under his head, and beat out his brains with another, and thus died the last Tahitian sacrifice, truly baptized in his own blood. The other gods besides Oro were numerous, and there were also many animals supposed to be possessed with familiar spirits. A chief was once in the cabin of a ship where there was a talking cockatoo: the moment the bird spoke he rushed away in the utmost terror, leapt overboard, and swam for his life, convinced that he had heard the captain's demon.
The chief of Raiatea was named Tamatoa, and was a man of considerable power. Two years previously the Tahitian king, Pomare, nineteen of his subjects, and a missionary named Wilson had been driven thither in a canoe by stress of weather; and what Tamatoa had heard from them had so impressed him that he had persuaded his people to build a place of worship, observe the Sunday, and meet to repeat together the scant lessons they had been able to receive during the visit of the Tahitians. This led to a resolve to entreat for the presence of a missionary among them; and the chieftain himself came to Huahime to make the request. Williams longed to go, but, as the youngest minister, waited till all the rest had decided to the contrary, and then gladly accepted his lot to go with Tamatoa. There was a joyous welcome, and a feast was brought, consisting of five pigs for Mr. Williams, five for his wife, and five for their baby-boy; besides crates of yams, bananas, and cocoa-nuts, which, however, they were not required to eat themselves, only to see eaten in their house.
The islanders were ready to give up their idols and call themselves Christians, to hear Mr. Williams preach, and to observe the Sabbath; being, in fact, like the Red Indians of Eliot's experience, so idle that a day of no work made no difference to them. Their indolence, the effect of their enervating climate, was well-nigh invincible; they preferred hunger to trouble, and withal their customs were abhorrent to Christian morality. Most islets of the South Seas have much the same experience. The people, taken on their best side, show themselves gentle and intelligent, and their chiefs are dignified gentlemen; but there is a horrible background of ferocity and barbarism—often cannibalism. It generally proves comparatively easy to obtain a recognition of Christianity, and the cruelty and violence are usually laid aside; but to bring purity and morality to bear upon these races is a much more difficult thing, and the apparent failures have been at once the grief and reproach of missionaries, while those who assail them with scoffs forget the difficulty of dealing with the inveterate customs of a whole people, in a luxurious climate, and with little or no inducement to such industrial occupations or refinements of mind, as are the best auxiliaries of religion in raising the tone.
Lands where cold is unknown, and where fruit grows as freely as in Paradise, offer no inducement to labour; and the missionaries, striving in vain to lead the people to think occupation a duty, were deserted as being troublesome when they bade them to work. A school which the Williams's set up was more popular; the Polynesians had no lack of brains, and reading and writing were pleasanter than digging and building, or carrying logs.
Thinking that examples of the civilization that the islanders had never seen would do more for their advance than anything else, Mr. Williams, with such assistance as he could obtain from the natives, built himself a house with eight rooms, sash windows with Venetian blinds, a verandah, and a most beautiful garden, and filled it with polished furniture, made by his own clever mechanical hands. With the assistance of one or two other missionaries who joined him, he succeeded in thus exciting a certain emulation among the natives. The king had a house built for him like that of the white men, others followed, and thus a very important step was made out of the degraded customs encouraged by the old oval huts. The coral, made into lime, afforded excellent material for plaster, and trades began to be fostered among the natives; they became carpenters, blacksmiths, plasterers, boat-builders, and acquired some ideas of agriculture. By the end of the second year, the chapel and school stood in the midst of white cottages; the population still wore clothing made of their own bark cloth, but in imitation of that of their teachers, and the open savagery of the island was gone. The congregation assembled three times on Sunday, and there was family prayer in almost every house. Cannibalism was ended, and so was infanticide, one of the most terrible customs of the island, for there was scarcely a woman above thirty who had not put to death several of her infants. Much had been done, although the good man to whom so much was owing did not feel satisfied that the profession in many cases was thoroughly deep, and he still knew of many an inveterate evil, that only time, discipline, and above all heartfelt religion, could uproot.
A large chapel, built with all the taste and ornament that he could achieve, was erected, the sides wattled, the roof supported by pillars of tree-trunks, and the floors and pews, the pulpit and desk, which were all to which the young ironmonger at the Tabernacle attached the notion of a worthy place of worship, were solid and well finished. He even fashioned some chandeliers for evening service, and these so astonished the Raiateans, that on first entering the chapel, they broke out into a cry of amaze, "Oh, Britannia! Britannia!" and gave the name to England of "the land whose customs were without end."
The opening of this chapel was one great step in Mr. Williams's work; the next was the inducing Tamatoa and the other chiefs to bind themselves to govern by a code of Christian laws, not complex, but based on the Ten Commandments, and agreeing with those newly established by Pomare in Tahiti, but with this difference, that Williams ventured to introduce trial by jury, in the hope that it would tend to qualify the despotic power of the chiefs. Tamatoa's brother, Pahi, was appointed judge, and the community was arranged on a Christian basis. The congregation was likewise put under regular discipline after the example of the Independents in England, with ruling pastors and elders appointed from among the people; and an auxiliary Missionary Society was formed for assisting in the conversion of the other isles.
Just as this was thoroughly arranged, in about the fourth year of his mission, Williams suffered from a malady which seemed to him and his companion, Mr. Threlkeld, to necessitate his return home. The information was received by the islanders with something like despair. Old King Tamatoa came to him and said, "Viriamu, I have been thinking you are a strange man. JESUS did not take care of His body. He did not even shrink from death, and now you are afflicted you are going to leave us."
Prayer was offered all over the island, and in the midst of all the preparations for departure the disease began to ameliorate, and Mr. Williams recovered for a time, though the next year a recurrence of the attack made him resolve upon a visit to Sydney, not only for the sake of advice, but in the hope of establishing a market for the produce of the Society Isles, which might give a motive to the industry he was so anxious to promote, and likewise to obtain a vessel to be used for the missions.
Two Raiatean teachers instructed by him were landed at the island of Aitutake on the way, after the chiefs had pledged themselves to support and protect them, and the voyage was continued to Australia, where there was as usual a warm reception from Mr. Marsden. It was a very important visit. Parts of the Holy Scriptures, catechisms, and spelling-books, were printed; the ship, with the assistance of the Society of which Marsden was agent, was purchased, a schooner of ninety tons, and named Te Matama, the Beginner; a person named Scott secured, at 150l. per annum, to instruct the natives in the cultivation of sugar and tobacco, and stores laid in of presents for the natives, clothes for the women, shoes, stockings, tea-kettles, tea-cups, saucers, and tea. The natives had a great liking for tea, and as they could not cherish cups and saucers without shelves to put them on, all this was an indirect mode of introducing European comforts and decencies. As to shoes, there can be no spade husbandry with an unshod foot, and thus the system of hoeing- women doing all the labour was attacked.
On the way back to Raiatea, Mr. Williams visited New Zealand, but not at a favourable moment, for the chiefs were at war, and he had to hurry away. The cargo was gladly welcomed at Raiatea, and the desire to purchase European dress was found a great incentive to industry.
In 1823, Mr. Williams began a series of missionary voyages. The events of these have almost too much sameness for description, though full of interest in detail. The people, when taken on their right side, were almost always ready to admit teachers, and adopt certain externals, though the true essentials of Christianity were of much slower growth. Our limits prevent us from giving much of detail of his intercourse with these isles. Raiatea was his first home, Rarotonga his second. There he placed his family, which long consisted of his one boy, John, born in Tahiti, all Mrs. Williams's subsequent babes scarcely living to see the light, until, in the sixteenth year of her Polynesian life, another son rejoiced her. She became a centre and pattern of domestic life, and instructed the women in feminine habits, and she patiently encountered the anxieties and perils, chiefly from storm and hurricane, that beset her life. The chief troubles that Mr. Williams encountered at Raiatea, were the vices that civilization brought. After old Tamatoa's death, his son allowed a distillery to be established, and drunkenness threatened to overthrow the habits so diligently taught. May be, the Puritanical form of religion and the acquired tastes of the London tradesman did not allow brightness and beauty enough to these children of the South, and tempted them by proscribing things innocent, but there is no telling: nothing but strictness seemed a sufficient protection from the foul rites of idolatry, and all that his judgment or devotion could devise for these people Williams and his fellows did.
The Samoan group of islands was one of those where the people showed the most intelligence. They were already great cultivators of the toilette. A Samoan beau glistened from the head to the hips with sweet-scented oil, and was tastefully tattooed from the hips to the knees; he wore a bandage of red leaves oiled and shining, a head-dress formed of a pearly disk of nautilus-shell, and a string of small white shells round each arm. His lady was not tattooed, but spotted all over, and when in full attire, wore a beautiful white silky mat at her waist, a wreath of sweet flowers round her head, rows of large blue beads round her neck, and the upper part of her person was tinged with turmeric rouge.
These Samoans, though they deified many animals, had no temples, idols, priests, nor sacrifices, and thus were more than usually amenable to Christian ideas; and on Mr. Williams's second visit to the island, he had a numerous congregation, but so arranged that he could hardly keep his countenance. Some had their long hair greased and stiffened into separate locks, standing erect like quills upon the fretful porcupine; while others wore it cultivated into one huge bush, stiffened with coral line, diversified with turmeric. Indeed, there is no rest for such heads as these—none of their wearers dares to sleep without a little stool to support his neck, so as not to crush his chevelure against the ground.
These fine gentlemen had a readiness and intelligence about them that warmed to the first rays of light. They listened eagerly, and their attachment to the missionary was expressed in a song sung in what they called a "heavenly dance" of the ladies in his honour, when he had remained with them long enough to plant the good seed of a growing church.
"Let us talk of Viriamu, Let cocoa-nuts glow in peace for months; When strong the east winds blow, our hearts forget him not. Let us greatly love the Christian land of the great white chief. All victors are we now, for we all have one God. No food is sacred now. All kinds of fish we catch and eat, Even the sting-ray.
The birds are crying for Viriamu, His ship has sailed another way. The birds are crying for Viriamu, Long time is he in coming. Will he ever come again? Will he ever come again?"
It was some time before he could come again; for, after eighteen years of unremitting labour in the isles of Raiatea and Rarotonga, and of voyages touching on many other isles, he had made up his mind to visit England.
He came home in 1834, and remained about four years, doing much for his cause by his personal narratives and vivid accounts of the people to whom he had devoted his life. Curiously enough, his son, now a youth of twenty, was introduced to Earl Fitzwilliam's gardener, who proved to have been one of the mission party who had been captured in the Duff on the second voyage, and who was delighted to hear of the wonderful progress of the cause from which he himself had been turned back.
A subscription was raised for the purchase of a mission ship, exceeding in size and suitability such craft as could be purchased or hired in Australia; and the Camden, a vessel admirably fitted for the purpose, was obtained and equipped at a cost of 2,600l., the command of her given to Captain Morgan, who was well experienced in the navigation of the Polynesian seas, and had, moreover, such a reputation for piety, that the natives termed his vessel "the praying ship."
In this vessel a large reinforcement of missionaries was taken out, including a married pair for Samoa, and likewise young John Williams, who had found himself an English wife; but his little brother was left at home for education. The intention of Williams was to station the missionaries upon the friendly isles, and himself circulate among them in the Camden, breaking fresh ground in yet unvisited isles, and stationing first native and then English teachers, as they were prepared for them.
Among the Samoans he remained a good while. He estimated the population at 60,000, of whom nearly 50,000 were under instruction. Several places of worship were opened with feasts, at which huge hecatombs of swine were consumed—1,370 at one festival. One young chief under instruction became so good a preacher, that Williams called him the Whitfield of Samoa; and these islands have, under the training then set on foot, furnished many a missionary and even martyr to the isles around, and are, to the present day, one of the happiest specimens of the effects of missionary labour.
The want of extended views in good Mr. Williams was shown in his manner of regarding the expected arrival of some Roman Catholic priests in the Polynesian seas. He set to work to translate Foxe's "Book of Martyrs," and begged that a present offered him for his people might be expended in slides illustrating it for a beautiful magic lantern which he already possessed, and whose Scripture scenes drew tears from the natives. He had not Church knowledge enough to rise above the ordinary popular view of "Popery," and did not understand its Christianity enough to see the evils of sowing the bitterest seeds of the Protestant controversy among scarcely reclaimed heathens.
On their side, the Roman Catholics would have done better to enter on untrodden ground, of which there was such an infinity, than to force themselves where, if they did not find their Church, at least they found faith in the Saviour. But the Society Isles were coveted, for political reasons, by the existing French Government, and the struggle was there beginning, of which Mr. Williams was not destined to see the unfortunate conclusion.
Raiatea he found much improving; and at Rarotonga civilization had made such progress, that the chiefs house was two storeys high, with ten bedrooms, and good furniture made in imitation of English, and any linen Mr. Williams left in his room was immediately washed, ironed, and laid ready for use. Much of the lurking heathenism was giving way, and fair progress being made in religious feeling, when, after a stay in Samoa, where Mrs. Williams now chiefly resided, John Williams set out on an exploring voyage in the Camden.
Strangely enough, his last text in preaching to the Samoans was, "Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more;" and the people, who always grieved whenever he left them, wept as bitterly at the words as if they had known them to be an omen. He was bent on an attempt on the heathen isle of Erromango, which his wife viewed with a foreboding terror, that made her in vain try to extract a promise from him not to land there.
But he viewed the New Hebrides as an important link, leading perhaps to reaching the Papuan race in New Guinea. He hoped to gain a footing there, and make the spot such a centre as Tahiti, Raiatea, Rarotonga, and Samoa had successively been; and, as the Camden glided along the shores of the island, he talked of his schemes, and of a certain sense of fear that they gave him, lest they were too vast to be accomplished by his means and in his lifetime, but with the sanguine buoyancy of a man still in full vigour, and who had met with almost unmixed success.
On the 20th of November, 1839, the vessel entered Dillon's Bay, and a canoe with three men paddled up to her. A boat was lowered, in which Mr. Williams, two other missionaries named Harris and Cunningham, Captain Morgan, and four sailors seated themselves. They tried to converse with the natives, but the language proved to be unlike any in use in Polynesia (it is, in fact, one of the Melanesian dialects), and not a word could be made out.
Pulling into a creek, some beads and a small looking-glass were thrown to the natives, and water asked for by signs. It was brought, and this gave more confidence. Harris then waded ashore. At first the people ran away, but Mr. Williams called to him to sit down, and, on his doing so, they came nearer, and offered him some cocoa-nut milk. Mr. Williams observed little boys at play, and thought it a good sign. Captain Morgan wished they had been women, because the natives always send their wives out of the way when they mean violence. However, Williams landed, and divided some cloth among those who stood nearest. Then Harris began to walk forward into the bush, Williams following, and, with a crowd of natives round him, was counting in Samoan, trying whether the boys around would recognize the names of the figures. Cunningham did not like the countenances of the natives, and remarked it to him, but was not heard. Stooping to pick up a shell, Cunningham was startled by a yell, and Harris came rushing along, pursued by a native. Williams turned and looked, a blast on a shell was heard, and he too fled. Cunningham reached the boat in safety, but Harris fell in crossing a small brook, and the natives were at once upon him with their clubs. Williams had made for the sea, apparently intending to swim off and let the boat pick him up, but the beach was stony; he fell as he reached the water, and the natives with their clubs and arrows had fallen upon him before Morgan could turn his boat's head to the spot, under a shower of arrows, which forced him to put off.
He saw the body lying on the beach, and fired a gun, loaded with powder, in hopes of driving away the natives and rescuing it; but they dragged it away into the bush, and all that was left for him to do was to sail for Sydney, whence a Queen's ship, the Favourite, was despatched to endeavour to recover the remains, and to convey the tidings to Samoa.
By the 26th of February the vessel arrived. The war-conch was heard, and the savages were seen flying in all directions; but, as there was no intention of exacting a revenge, means of communication were at last arranged, and it was discovered that these two good men had furnished a cannibal feast, but that their skulls and many of their bones had been preserved, and these were recovered and carried on board ship. The Erromangans have always been an exceptionally treacherous and savage race, and, even to the present day, are more hostile to white men, and more addicted to cannibalism, than any of the other islanders.
The Favourite then proceeded to Samoa, where the weeping and wailing of the tender-hearted race was overwhelming. Mrs. Williams, in her silent English sorrow, was made the centre of a multitude of frantic mourners. "Aue kriamu, aue Viriamu, our father, our father! He has turned his face from us! We shall never see him more! He that brought us the good word of salvation is gone! Oh, cruel heathen, they knew not what they did. How great a man they have destroyed!"
Such laments went on round the widow in the wild poetic language of the poor Samoans, till the other teachers, by their prayers and sermons, had produced a somewhat calmer tone; and the funeral took place beside the chapel, attended by the officers and crew of the Favourite, and a great concourse of natives.
"Alas, Viriamu!" was the cry in every Christian Polynesian island for many a day; and well it might be, for, in spite of the shortcomings of a poorly-educated ministry and a tropical and feeble race, there are few who ever turned more men from darkness to light, from cannibal fury to Christian love, than the Martyr of Erromango,—John Williams,—one of the happiest of missionaries, in that to him was given the martyr's crown, in the full tide of his success and hope.
CHAPTER X. ALLEN GARDINER, THE SAILOR MARTYR.
The biography we next have to turn to is not that of a founder, scarcely that of a pioneer, but rather of a brave guerilla, whose efforts were little availing because wanting in combination, and undirected, but who, nevertheless, has left behind him a heart-thrilling name won by unflinching self-devotion even unto death.
Allen Francis Gardiner, the fifth son of a Berkshire squire, was born in 1794. He was a born sailor, and became a midshipman before the end of the great war of the French revolution; but the only naval action in which he was engaged was against the American vessel Essex, which was captured by his ship, the Phoebe, off Valparaiso. Allen Gardiner had been carefully brought up by a good mother, but her death in his early youth cast him loose and left him without any influence to keep up serious impressions. He drifted into carelessness and godlessness, though at times some old remembrance, roused by danger or by a comrade's death, would sting him sharply. Once, feeling ashamed of having forgotten the very words of Scripture, he made up his mind to buy a Bible, and then was so full of false shame that he waited about in the street till the shop should be empty, and then only thought how odd his demand must seem to the bookseller.
Most likely this was at Portsmouth, for he had there met a lady who had been with his mother at her death, and had given him a narrative of her last days, which his father had written, but from some sense of want of sympathy had withheld from the son. The friend judged him better. The copy in his own handwriting bears the date, "Portsmouth, November 18, 1818," and therewith was a little Bible with the same date written in it. For two years, however, this produced no effect; but in 1820, when at Penang, as a lieutenant in the Dauntless, Allen received a letter of grave reproof from his father, and one of warm kindness and expostulation from the same lady, his mother's friend, together with some books. Nothing would have seemed more hopeless than the chance that a letter from a religious old lady would make an impression on a dashing young naval officer, and yet Allen Gardiner always considered this as the turning-point of his life, and connected it with his mother's prayers.
It was when his thoughts were directed to religious subjects, and his intelligence freshly excited, that he visited the coasts of South America, the region above all others where the Roman Catholic Church is seen to the most disadvantage. Two things most especially struck him, the remnants of the Inquisition at Lima, and the discovery that the poor were buried without prayer or mass. Such scenes as these gave him an extreme horror of Romanism and all that he supposed to be connected therewith, and his next station at Tahiti, in all the freshness of the newly established mission, full of devout people, filled him with strong enthusiasm for the good men who were carrying out the work. Shortly after he was invalided home, and as soon as he was fit for employment he offered himself to the London Missionary Society, begging them to send him to the neglected Indians of South America; but this did not suit their plans, and his ardour was slackened by the more common affairs of life. He fell in love and married a young lady named Julia Reade, and his only voyage was in his naval, not his missionary capacity. But his wife's health was exceedingly frail, and after eleven years of marriage she died, leaving four children, a fifth having preceded her to the grave. Beside her death-bed Allen Gardiner made a solemn dedication of himself to act as a pioneer in one or other of the most neglected parts of the earth, not so much to establish missions himself as to reconnoitre the ground and prepare the way for their establishment.
Africa was the country to which his attention was first called. His wife died in May 1834, and the 24th of August was the last Sunday he spent in England, at Calbourne, the native parish of Charles Simeon. He sailed at once for Cape Colony, where the English, who had in the course of the Revolutionary war obtained possession of the ground from the original settlers, the Dutch, were making progress in every direction, and coming into collision, not with the spiritless Hottentots of the Cape of Good Hope itself, but with that far more spirited and intellectual race, the Kaffirs—unbelievers, as the name meant—they being in fact of Arab descent, though Africanized by their transition through tropical latitudes, and not Mahometans. Such traditional religion as they possessed seemed to be vanishing, since only a few of the elders retained a curious legend of a supreme Deity who sent another Divine being to "publish the news," and divide the sexes. A message was sent to him from the Power in heaven to announce that man should not die, but this was committed to that tardy reptile the chameleon; then another message that man should die was given to the lizard, who outran the chameleon, and thus brought death into the world.
Sir Benjamin D'Urban had just been appointed Governor, and it was apprehended that a war must take place, since the settlers were continually liable to sudden attacks by these wild Kaffirs, who burnt, slew, and robbed any homestead they fell upon. Captain Gardiner thought, and justly, that it would be better to begin by proclaiming the glad tidings of peace to these wild and ignorant people rather than to meet them with the strong hand of war. The colony was lamentably deficient in clergy, and the missions that existed were chiefly to the Hottentots and Bushmen. The Moravians, whose work we have not mentioned because it is a history in itself, had some excellent establishments, but no one had yet attempted to penetrate into the home of the Kaffirs themselves, the Zulu country, to endeavour to deal with their chieftains. This was Allen Gardiner's intention, and on his outward voyage he met with a Polish refugee named Berken, who had intended to settle in Australia, but was induced to become his companion in his explorations in South Africa.
They rode together from Capetown to Grahamstown, where they obtained an interpreter named George Cyrus, and began to travel in the regular South African fashion, namely, with waggons fitted for sleeping in, and drawn by huge teams of oxen, and taking seven horses with them. Their first adventure during a halt at the Buffalo river was the loss of all their oxen, who were driven off by some natives. They applied to the chief of the tribe, named Tzatzoe, who recovered the cattle for them, but showed himself an insatiable beggar, even asking why, as Mr. Berken had two shoes, he could not spare him one of them. However, he was honest enough, when Mr. Berken chanced to leave his umbrella behind him, to send after him to ask whether he knew that he had left his house.
The next anxiety was at a spot called the Yellow-wood River, where the mid-day halt was disturbed by an assembly of natives with a hostile appearance. Captain Gardiner sent orders to collect the oxen, and in- span (i.e. harness) them as soon as possible, but without appearance of alarm, and in the meantime he tried to keep the natives occupied. To one he lent his penknife, and after the man had vainly tried to cut off his own beard with it, he offered to shave him, lathered him well, and performed the operation like a true barber, then showed him his face in a glass. His only disappointment was that the moustache had not been removed, and as by this time the razor was past work, Captain Gardiner had to pacify him by assuring him that such was the appearance of many English warriors (for these were the days when moustaches were confined to the cavalry). The amusement this excited occupied them nearly long enough, but hostile murmurs then began to be heard—"One of our chiefs has been killed by the white men, no more shall enter our country!" Fearing that an angry word would be fatal, Captain Gardiner asked for a war-song, promising some tobacco at the conclusion. Accordingly they danced madly, and shouted at the top of their voices,
"No white man shall drink our milk, No white man shall eat our children's bread. Ho-how! ho-how! ho-how!"
But this couplet often repeated seemed to work off their rage; they accepted the tobacco, and sullenly said the travellers might pass, but they were the last who should. This was in the Amakosa country, lying between the Grahamstown settlement and Port Natal, and to the present day unannexed, though even then there were traders' stations at intervals, so filthy and wretched as to be little above the huts of the natives. These Amakosa tribes were such thieves that great vigilance was needed to prevent property being stolen; but the next tribes, the Amapondas, were scrupulously honest and friendly to the English. Their chief was found by Gardiner and Berken dressed in a leopard's skin, sitting in state under a canopy of shields, trying a rain-maker, who had failed to bring showers in consequence of not having his dues of cattle delivered to him! The chief advised them not to proceed, as he said the Zulus were angry people who would kill them; but they pushed on, though finding that the journey occupied much longer than they expected, so that provisions became a difficulty.
A full month had passed since leaving Grahamstown, and Gardiner decided on pressing on upon horseback, leaving Mr. Berken to bring up the waggons, and taking with him the interpreter and two natives. The distance was 180 miles, and a terrible journey it was. A few waggon tracks had made a sort of road, but this was not always to be distinguished from hippopotamus paths, which led into horrible morasses, where the horses almost entirely disappeared, and had to be scooped out as it were by the hands; moreover, scarcely any food was to be had. In crossing one river one of the horses was so irretrievably stuck in a quicksand that humanity required it to be shot, and at the next, the Umkamas, the stream was so swollen that the Captain had to devise a canoe by sewing two cowskins together with sinews and stretching it upon branches, in which, as no one save himself had any notion of boating, he shoved off alone. The stream was too strong for him, and he had to return and obtain the help of the only good swimmer among his party. With him he crossed, but with no food save a canister of sugar! However, the native swam back and fetched a loaf of bread, while Captain Gardiner waited among the reeds, hearing the snorting and grunting of hippopotami all round. The transit of the natives was secured by the holding a sort of float made of a bundle of reeds, and in the morning, as the river was too high for the rest of the party to cross, he brought over a few necessaries, and a horse, with which the Captain was able to proceed to Port Natal, where he found English traders, and sent back supplies to those in the rear.
The Zulus, on whom his attention was fixed, inhabit a fine country to the north of the Tugela, which is considered as the boundary of the British territory. The nation is full of intelligence and spirit, and by no means incapable of improvement, and their princes have been for generations past men of considerable natural ability, and of iron will, but often savagely cruel. The first known to Englishmen was named Charka, a great warrior, who kept his armies in a rude but thorough discipline, and had made considerable conquests. About the year 1829, Charka had been murdered by his brother Dingarn, who had reigned ever since, and was the terror of the English settlers, who were beginning to immigrate into the fertile terraced country of Natal. His forays might at any time sweep away farms and homesteads; and his subjects were continually fleeing from his violence across the Tugela, and thus might bring him down as a pursuer.
Allen Gardiner's plan was to go to the fountain head and endeavour to deal with the chief himself, so as to make him a Christian instead of an enemy. With this end he set out absolutely unaccompanied, except by Cyrus the interpreter, and a Zulu servant whom he had hired named Umpondombeni, and this with the knowledge that an English officer had shortly before been treacherously murdered, and that Dingarn was a blood- stained savage.
The king had been informed of his coming, and had pronounced that he was his white man, and should make haste to Umkingoglove, his present abode. The first view of this place, with a double circular fence around it, resembled a race-course, the huts being ranged along the ring of the enclosure so as to leave the centre free for the reviews and war dances of the Kaffirs. Gardiner was very near entering by the wrong gate, in which case all his escort would have been put to death. A hut was assigned to him, a sort of beehive of grass and mud, with a hole to enter by. His own lines, strung together in his many unoccupied moments for his children's benefit, are so good a description of the Kaffir huts that form a kraal or village, as to be worth inserting:—
"I see them now, those four low props That held the haystack o'er my head, The dusky framework from their tops Like a large mouse-trap round me spread.
To stand erect I never tried, For reasons you may guess: Full fourteen feet my hut was wide, Its height was nine feet less.
My furniture, a scanty store, On saddle-bags beside me laid, A hurdle, used to close the door, Raised upon stones, my table made."
There he received a bundle of the native sugar-cane, a bowl of maize beer from Dingarn, and was invited to his palace.
This was surrounded by a fence, outside which the Captain was desired to sit down. Presently a black head and very stout pair of shoulders appeared above it, and a keen sable visage eyed the visitor fixedly for some time, in silence, which was only broken by these words, while indicating an ox, "There is the beast I give you to slaughter." His black majesty then vanished, but presently to reappear from beneath the gateway dressed in a long blue cloak, with a white collar, and devices at the back. After directing the distribution of some heaps of freshly slain oxen that lay around, he stood like a statue till a seat was brought him, and then entered into conversation. Captain Gardiner made him understand that trade was not the object of the visit; but the real purpose was quite beyond him; he seemed to regard what was proposed to him as an impossibility, and began to inquire after the presents, which, unfortunately, were still on the road.
The delay exposed the Captain to some inconvenience and danger, and two indunas, or chiefs, a sort of prime ministers, who were offended with him for not having applied to the king through them, treated him with increasing insolence. At last he persuaded them that he had better send a note to hasten the coming of the presents, and he also managed to write a letter for England, on his last half-sheet of paper, by the light of a lamp made of a rag wick floating in native butter in a calabash. From time to time he was called upon to witness the wonderful evolutions, manoeuvres, and mock fights in the camp. The men were solely soldiers; the women did all the work, planting maize, weeding corn, and herding cattle, and thus the more wives a man had the more slaves he could employ. Every wife had a value, and could only be obtained from her father for a certain price in cattle, varying according to his rank. If the full rate were not paid, she remained, as well as her children, the property of her father or the head of her family. The king, having the power to help himself, had an establishment of ninety women, who on gala- days, or when his army was going to take the field, were drawn up in a regiment, all wearing two long feathers on the top of their heads, a veil of strings of coloured beads over their faces, bead skirts, and brass rings over their throats and arms; these beads being the current coin of the traders. They approached and retreated in files, flourishing their arms like bell-ringers, while they sang:—
"Arise, vulture, Thou art the bird that eateth other birds."
These were, however, not wives, only female slaves. Either from jealousy of possible sons growing up, or from the desire not to be considered as in the ranks of the umpagati—elders or married men—neither Charka nor Dingarn would marry, and no man could take a wife without the king's permission. Dingarn wore his head closely shaven, whereas the married trained their woolly hair to fasten over a circle of reed, so as to look much as if they had an inverted saucepan on their heads. Besides this they wore nothing but a sort of apron of skin before and behind, except when gaily arrayed in beads, or ornaments of leopard's fur and teeth, for dancing or for battle. Their wealth was their cattle, and their mealie or maize grounds; their food, beef, mealies, and curdled milk; their drink, beer, made of maize; their great luxury, snuff, made of dried dacca and burnt aloes, and taken from an ivory spoon. Though sometimes acting with great cruelty, and wholly ignorant, they were by no means a dull or indolent people; they were full of courage and spirit, excellent walkers and runners, capable of learning and of thinking, and with much readiness to receive new ideas.
The presents arrived, and the red cloak, made of the long scarlet nap often used in linings, was presented, and gave infinite satisfaction; the king tried it on first himself, then judged of the effect upon the back of one of his servants, caused it to be carried flowing through the air, and finally hung it up outside his palace for the admiration of his subjects, then laid it by for the great national festival at the feast of first-fruits.
Captain Gardiner's object was to obtain a house and piece of land and protection for a Christian missionary, and with this object he remained at the kraal, trying to make some impression on Dingarn, and the two indunas, who assured him that they were the king's eyes and ears. Thus he became witness to much horrible barbarity. One of the least shocking of Dingarn's acts was the exhibiting the powers of a burning-glass that had been given him, by burning a hole in the wrist of one of his servants; and his indifference to the pain and death of others was frightful. His own brother, the next in succession, was, with his two servants, put to death through some jealousy; and, more horrible still, every living creature in thirty villages belonging to him was massacred as a matter of course.
Captain Gardiner, though often horrified and sickened by the sights he was obliged to witness, remained for a month, and then, after accompanying the king on his march, and seeing some astonishing reviews and dances of his wild warriors, made another effort; but the king referred him to the two indunas, and the indunas were positive that they did not wish to learn, either they or their people. They would never hear nor understand his book, but if he would instruct them in the use of the musket he was welcome to stay. Dingarn pronounced, "I will not overrule the decision of my indunas;" but, probably looking on the white man as a mine of presents, he politely invited Gardiner to return.
So ended his first attempt, and with no possessions remaining except his clothes, his saddle, a spoon, and a Testament, he proceeded to the Tugela, where he met his friend Berken, who had made up his mind to settle in Natal, and he set out to return to England for the purchase of stock and implements; but the vessel in which he sailed was never heard of more.
Captain Gardiner remained at Port Natal, which in 1835 consisted of a cluster of huts, all of them built Kaffir-fashion, like so many hollow haycocks, except Mr. Collis's, which was regarded as English because it had upright sides, with a good garden surrounded by reeds. About thirty English and a few Hottentots clustered around, and some three thousand Zulus, refugees from Dingarn's cruelty, who showed themselves ready and willing to work for hire, but who exposed their masters to the danger of the king coming after them with fire and assagai. Hitherto on such an alarm the whole settlement had been wont to take to the woods, but their numbers were so increasing that they were beginning to erect a stockade and think of defence.
To this little germ of a colony, Allen Gardiner brought the first recollection of Christian faith and duty. On Sunday mornings he stood under a tree, as he had been wont to do on the deck of his ship, and read the Church Service in English to such as would come round him and be reminded of their homes; in the afternoon, by the help of his interpreter, he prayed with and for the Kaffirs, and expounded the truths of the Gospel; and in the week, he kept school for such Kaffir children as he could collect, dressing them decently in printed calico. He began with very few, partly because many parents fancied he would steal and make slaves of them, and partly because he wished to train a few to be in advance and act as monitors to the rest. The English were on very good terms with him, and allotted a piece of land for a missionary settlement, which he called Berea, and began to build upon it in the fashion of the country.
Fresh threats from Dingarn led the settlers to try to come to a treaty with him, by which he was to leave them unmolested with all their Kaffirs, on their undertaking to harbour no more of his deserters. There was something hard in this, considering the horrid barbarities from which the deserters fled, and the impossibility of carrying out the agreement, as no one could undertake to watch the Tugela; but Captain Gardiner, always eager and hasty, thinking that he should thus secure safety for the colony and opportunities for the mission, undertook the embassy, and set forth in a waggon with two Zulus and Cyrus, falling in on the way with one of the grotesque parties of European hunters, who were wont to go on expeditions after the elephant, hippopotamus, and buffalo, with a hunting train of Hottentots and Kaffirs in their company. On whose aspect he remarks truly:—
"I've seen the savage in his wildest mood, And marked him reeked with human blood, But never so repulsive made. Something incongruous strikes the mind Whene'er a barbarous race we find With shreds of civil life displayed.
There's more of symmetry, however bare, In what a savage deigns to wear, In keeping with the scene. These, each deformed by what he wears, Like apes that dance at country fairs, Seemed but a link between."
Dingarn proved to be at Congella, another circular town or kraal, on the top of a hill. He gave a ready welcome to the Captain, and his presents—some looking-glasses, a pair of epaulettes, and some coloured prints, especially full-lengths of George IV. and William IV. The collection in a place such as Natal then was must have been very hard to make, but it was very successful, and still more so was the Captain's presenting himself in his uniform when he went to propose the treaty. Dingarn said he must look at it before he could do anything else, and fully appreciated the compliment when the sailor said it was his war dress, in which he appeared before King William. He agreed to the treaty, but declared that the English would be the first to break it. The Captain answered that a true Englishman never broke a treaty, and that any white man who deceived was not the right sort of Englishman; and the king responded that "now a great chief was come, to whom he could speak his heart." Captain Gardiner tried to impress on him that it was the fear of God that made himself an honourable man, and to persuade him that the knowledge of the "Book" would make him and his people still greater; and the next time of meeting set forth an outline of the morality and promises of Revelation. Dingarn was attentive, and said they were good words, and that he would hear more of them, but in the meantime Gardiner must go back to Natal and see that his people kept the treaty. It was a good deal more than he could do. A Kaffir inkosikase, or female chieftain, who, with two servants and three children, was fleeing into Natal at the time of his return, was sent back, with all her companions. The poor creatures pleaded hard that the Captain would accompany them and save them, and he returned with them, and interceded for them with all his might, but soon found they were being starved to death. "Their bonds must kill them," said Dingarn. A second great effort resulted in a little food being sent, and a kind of promise that their lives should be spared; but this was only made to get rid of him, and they all perished after his departure.
Deserters, as Gardiner called the fugitives to reconcile the surrender to his loyal English conscience, were hardly such as these: they were the only ones ever sent back, and the loose wild traders, who he ought to have known would never be bound by treaties, were at that very time enticing Kaffirs, who could be useful as herdsmen and labourers, across the frontier. This led to great indignation from Dingarn, and he declared that no Englishman save his favourite great chief should come near him.
Meantime Gardiner was assisting an assembly of traders and hunters who had decided on building a town—all shaggy, unkempt, bearded men of the woods, who decided the spot, the name, the arrangements, the spot for church and magistrate's house, by vote, on the 25th of June, 1835, the birthday of the town of Durban, so called after Sir Benjamin D'Urban, Governor of the Cape, while the Portuguese name of Natal passed to the entire territory.
The dispute with Dingarn continuing, the Captain was again sent to negotiate. This time he was received in the royal mansion, a magnified beehive, where the king was lying on a mat with his head on one of the little stools made to act as pillows, with about fifty women ranged round. As to the matter in question, Gardiner was able to declare that, in the white settlement itself, no deserters had found a home since the treaty, and that none should do so; Dingarn said he considered him the chief of the whites there, and should look to him to keep them in order. Gardiner explained that he had no authority. "You must have power," said Dingarn. "I give you all the country of the white people's ford." This was a piece of land extending from the Tugela to the Nouzincoolu, from the Snowy Mountains to the sea—in fact, the present whole colony of Natal. A smaller portion, including the district about Natal, was to be his own immediate property. Dingarn was perfectly in earnest, and thus intended to make him responsible for the conduct of every individual of the motley population of Natal, declaring that he should receive no trader who did not bring credentials from him. It was as curious a situation as ever commander in the navy was placed in. All he could do was to return to Durban, explain matters to Mr. Collis and the other traders, and then set out for the Cape to consult Sir Benjamin Durban.
His journey across the mountains was very perilous and difficult, and took much longer than his sanguine nature had reckoned; but he reached Grahamstown at last, and explained matters to the Governor, who instantly sent off a British officer to assume authority over the settlement at Natal, and try to keep the peace with Dingarn, while Captain Gardiner embarked for England to lay the state of things before Government and the Church Missionary Society, at whose disposal he placed all his own personal grant from Dingarn. When the prospects of the mission were proclaimed, the Rev. Francis Owen volunteered for it, and Captain Gardiner collected all that he thought needful for the great work he hoped to carry out. He married Miss Marsh, of Hampstead, and, with her and his three children, Mr. Owen and his wife and sister, sailed on the 24th of December, 1836; but the arrival was a sorrowful one, for his eldest child, a girl, of twelve years old, was slowly declining. She died just as they entered Durban Bay, and was buried at Berea immediately on their arrival. As soon as the Kaffirs heard of Captain Gardiner's landing, they flocked in to express their willingness to live under his authority. He chose a pleasant spot for his home, and having settled his family there, went up to see Dingarn. The presents this time were indeed ecstatically received, and especially a watch and seals, and a huge pair of gay worsted slippers. "He took my measure before he went," cried Dingarn, who had tried a pair of boots before, but could not get them on. The king was made to understand that his gift of land must be not to the Captain, but to the King of England, and with this he complied. He was also persuaded to modify his demands; as to the fugitives, Gardiner undertook not to encourage or employ them, but would not search them out or return them. Mr. Owen was also favourably received, as the umfundisi or teacher; a hut was allotted to him, and he was allowed to preach. He took up his abode at Umkingoglove, the first town where Captain Gardiner had seen the king, held services and opened a school, often holding conversations with the king. "Has God commanded kings and indunas to learn His word?" demanded Dingarn; and he actually did learn to read the words printed upon a card for the children.