The Cruise of the Mary Rose - Here and There in the Pacific
by William H. G. Kingston
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"The examples I have given will show you the mode in which Christianity has spread over the isles of the Pacific. But there are still numberless dark spots to which the gospel has not been carried, and in all, the Churches still require the support, strengthening, and instruction which in general white men can alone afford."


Note 1. "Journal of a Cruise among the Islands of the Pacific," by Captain J Elphinstone Erskine, RN, page 100.


Note 2. The Quarterly Review, 1853, in noticing accounts of voyages in the Pacific, after quoting the favourable testimonies of some writers, thus refers to others: "There is one circumstance which produces a very painful impression: it is the extreme unfairness which has been brought to bear against the missionaries and their proceedings, even by reporters whose substantial good intentions we have no right to controvert. Surely their work was one which, whatever exception we may take against particular views or interests, ought to have excited the sympathies, not only of those who belong to the religious party, as it is commonly called, but of all who do not take a perverse pleasure in contemplating human degradation as a kind of moral necessity. The object of these devoted men was to redeem the natives from no mere speculative unbelief, but from superstitions the most sanguinary and licentious. Even those who were careless as to the great truths which the Polynesians had to learn, must feel, upon reflection, that merely to unteach the brutal and defiling lesson of ages of darkness was to confer a priceless blessing. Every prejudice should surely be in favour of the men who have by general confession accomplished the first and apparently most laborious part of this task; instead of which a large class of writers find a species of satisfaction in thinking nothing but evil."



Mr Bent had been waiting for my recovery to restore Alea to her father, and to revisit the newly-established Christian community in her native island. It was important to lose no time in doing this. Mary Bent would have accompanied us; but as her father proposed being absent only a short time, and as the inconveniences of voyaging in a native canoe were very great, he wished her to remain at home. She was, however, not alone; for the widow of a missionary resided with her, and shared her onerous duties in instructing the native girls, an occupation in which both ladies took the greatest delight. All the inhabitants of the island now, it must be understood, professed Christianity, and might justly be called thoroughly civilised. Many also were true and sincere believers; so that these two English ladies, left alone on a small island of the Pacific, felt as secure as they would have done in the centre of civilised England.

As we drew near her father's island, Alea showed considerable trepidation and anxiety as to the way in which she would be received. She could not persuade herself that one from whom she had fled so short a time before, and left a fierce, ignorant heathen, would be willing to forgive her, and treat her with kindness. Might he not also, after all, compel her to become the wife of the cannibal chief to whom she had been betrothed? That was the most dreadful thought. Mr Bent used every possible argument to calm her apprehensions. Although the poor girl had felt the influence of grace in her own soul, she scarcely as yet comprehended its power to change the heart of men. I had entertained a sincere interest in the fate of the young princess from the day we had found her and her perishing companions on board the canoe. I was now able to exchange a few words with her, and there was one subject on which she was never tired of dwelling,—the praise of Mary Bent,—in which I could always join.

Believing that my future lot would be cast among the people of these islands, I had begun seriously to study their language, and I took every opportunity of practising myself in speaking it. We had two native teachers on board, who were to be left among the new converts, and all day long I was talking to them, so that I found myself making rapid progress in their somewhat difficult language.

With a fair wind, the missionary flag flying from the mast-head, we entered the harbour. The shore was crowded, and more and more people came rushing down from all quarters. It was evident that they would not receive us with indifference. Mr Bent had wished to prepare the king for his daughter's return; but she was recognised before we reached the beach, and several people hurried off to inform her father of her arrival. As the vessel's keel touched the strand we saw the people separating on either side, and between them appeared the old chief hurrying down towards us. We instantly landed with Alea, and no sooner did her father reach her than, contrary to all native customs, he folded her in his arms, and kissing her brow, burst into tears?—but they were tears of joy.

"Forgive you, daughter!" he answered to her petition. "It is I have to be thankful that I could not succeed in ruining your soul and body as I proposed. What agony should I now be feeling had I cast you into the power of the child of Satan, to the destruction of your soul and body alike!"

These words made Alea truly happy, and still more so when her father gave her free permission to become the wife of Vihala. During their first interview we stood aside; but now the king came forward, and invited us to come up to his abode. He had evidently some reason for wishing us to come at once. What was our surprise to see on the summit of a hill a building beyond all comparison larger than had ever been erected in the island. The king pointed it out to us with no slight pride. It was a church built entirely by the natives, according to the descriptions given them by Vihala, and the assistance of two or three of them who had seen Christian places of worship during their visits to other islands, though they were at the time themselves heathen. Often have I since seen heathens sitting at the porch of a place of worship, or standing outside the circle of eager listeners; and I have hoped, not without reason, that those men were imbibing some portion of the seed thus scattered, to bring forth fruit in due time. This fact alone is encouraging; indeed there is every encouragement to persevere in missionary labour throughout the Pacific. Where, indeed, is it not to be found, if waited for with patience? The missionary, too, feels that he goes not forth in his own strength,—that a far higher influence is at work, and on that he places his confidence of success.

Nothing could be more satisfactory than the reception afforded us by the chief; but I need not describe the number of hogs and fowls, of bread-fruit, of taro, of the sweet potato, and of numerous other articles of food which were collected to make a feast in honour of our arrival. Mr Bent lost no time in carrying out the object of our visit, in addressing the people, and in installing the teachers in their office. One of our first works was to plan a school-room and houses for the teachers, and to suggest certain alterations in the church to make it more suitable for public worship. It had been arranged that we should return before the next Sabbath; but as it was possible to complete the building by that day, Mr Bent resolved to remain and open it in due form, the natives redoubling their efforts, and working almost day and night to effect that object. I lent a hand, and in sailor fashion erected a pulpit, which, as there was no time to carve, I covered with matting and native cloth, which had a novel, though not unpleasing, appearance.

I did not before speak of my ship: I scarcely expected to find her here on my arrival. Indeed the captain, I understood, thought that all on board the boat had been lost. He had waited, however, day after day, till losing all patience, he had sailed at length the very day we had reached the missionary station. I was most concerned to hear that my boat had not reached the island, though I had a hope that she had fallen in with the Golden Crown, and been picked up. If, on the contrary, she had been lost or captured by savages, I felt how grateful I should be for having escaped destruction. Captain Buxton, fully believing that I was lost, had left no message for me, so that I could not tell where the ship had gone, nor what were his intentions.

I must now return to the subject of the church. The opening was one of the most interesting sights I ever beheld. It was crowded at an early hour with people, old and young, all clothed in native cloth, and with their hair cut short,—signs that they had lotued, or become Christians; while numbers were seen approaching from all directions, many of whom, being unable to obtain seats inside, crowded round the doors and windows. Mr Bent's address was most fervent, and, though I could understand but little of it, yet, judging from the way in which the attention of every one present was absorbed, it must have been deeply interesting. Of course but comparatively a small number of those present were really Christians, or understood even the great principles of Christianity. They now required the instruction which man can give, and the work of the Holy Spirit to change their hearts. I may here remark, that I have often heard missionaries accused of over eagerness to increase the number of their flocks; but I should say that Protestant missionaries are never willing to consider those converted who are not really so, and that no ministers of the gospel are more strict in the tests they apply to ascertain the fitness of converts for baptism. Mr Bent well knew the character of his congregation, and addressed them accordingly; but surely it was glorious progress to have some hundreds of persons, not long ago untamed savages, listening attentively to the truths of the gospel. No work of man could thus have progressed,—no mere civilising influence would have produced such an effect. When the morning service was over, the people assembled on the hill-side and in open spaces in the neighbourhood of the church, and there, while eating the provisions they had brought with them, they eagerly discussed the subject of the discourse they had just heard. The teachers I observed went about among them, now sitting down with one group, now with another, and were thus able to answer questions, to give information, and to correct the erroneous notions which were likely to be entertained. Alea scarcely ever left her father's side, and was continually engaged in imparting to him the instruction which she had received from Mr Bent and Mary; and it was interesting to observe the avidity with which the old man received the truth from the lips of the young girl.

I heard reports, however, that the heathen party, still numerous, were mustering strongly in another part of the island. It had been ascertained also that a canoe manned by heathens had left the island some time back, but where they had gone was not known. These circumstances I thought suspicious, and I feared foreboded evil. The meeting at the service in the afternoon, of the natives professing Christianity, was fully equal to that in the morning, but there were fewer heathens. The service continued with prayer and songs of praise, and an address full of instruction and exhortation from Mr Bent. It was almost concluded, when a heathen chief, an old friend of the king, I found, rushed breathless into the building, announcing that a large fleet of double canoes was approaching the island,—that it was that of the cannibal chief to whom Alea was betrothed, coming undoubtedly with hostile intent.

"How far off are the canoes?" asked the king.

"Some distance as yet," was the answer.

"Then we will pray for protection from One mighty to save," exclaimed the king. "We shall now judge which is the most powerful,—Jehovah, whom we have lately learned to worship, or the false gods whom we have cast away."

None of the people moved from their places. The missionary concluded his discourse, and then offered up an earnest prayer for protection from all dangers, to which every one present repeated a loud Amen. They then moved in an orderly manner out of the church, when the greater number hurried up the hill, whence they could see the approaching canoes. Of these there were some fifteen or twenty of different sizes, but most of them large enough to contain a hundred men at least. They were making for a sandy point some way from the town or settlement, where we concluded the enemy would land. I could see with my glass the warriors dancing, and shaking their spears, and gesticulating violently, in a way intended to insult those they had come to attack, and to strike terror into their hearts. A council of war was now held. It was believed that the enemy would not attempt to make an attack that night, but would wait till the morning; still it was necessary to be prepared. The warriors accordingly armed themselves, and assembled in strong bodies under their different leaders. It was a difficult position for Mr Bent and me. He, however, at once stated that he could not assist our friends except by his advice and prayers, but he told me that I might act as I thought fit. Should I fight, or should I not? There was a sore conflict within me. My inclinations prompted me to fight, but my new-born principles taught me to pray rather than to fight, where not called on positively by duty to do so. In either case, my example might be of service. I prayed (as all men in a difficulty should pray) to be guided aright. I decided to remain with the missionary, and use every means to stay the fight, or to mitigate its horrors should it take place.

"I am glad, my son, that you have so resolved," remarked Mr Bent, when I told him of my determination. "Surely the prayers of a believing man are of more avail than the strong arm of the bravest of warriors. It is a trial of your faith, certainly; but oh, pray that your faith may not waver."

While I had been consulting with Mr Bent, I found that a herald from the enemy had arrived with a demand that the Princess Alea should be forthwith delivered up to his master, and threatening the king and all his adherents with utter destruction if he refused compliance.

"Tell your chief that once I was in the dark as he is. Then I thought it no sin to give him my daughter; now I have light, and see my wickedness and folly. When he has light, he likewise will see as I do. My daughter cannot be his wife." This bold speech seemed to astonish the herald, who, having repeated his threats, took his departure.

Active preparations were now commenced for the defence of the settlement, and such fortifications as the natives use were thrown up on all sides. Slight as they may appear, they are capable of offering a considerable resistance, and on one occasion, in the island of Tongatabu, a brave English naval officer and several of his men lost their lives in an attack on one of them held by a rebel and heathen chief who had set at defiance the authority of King George.

As evening drew on we could see the enemy on the sand-bank, dancing round large fires which they had kindled, the sound of their war-shrieks and shouts, and the blowing of their conch-shells reaching us through the calm night air. Meantime the missionary repaired to the church, which during the night was visited at intervals by the whole Christian population. The king also sat frequently in council with his chiefs. One of the youngest, who had, however, greatly distinguished himself, arose and proposed leading a band of chosen warriors to attack the enemy before they commenced their march in the morning.

"While they are singing and dancing, they will not keep a good watch, and thus we may approach them without being discovered. Jehovah will aid us. It is Satan fights for them. We will prove which is the strongest."

All approved the words of the young chief, and he had no lack of volunteers. About two hundred men were chosen and well armed; they at once set out on their hazardous exploit. They had resolved to conquer and save their brethren or die, and yet, perhaps, there was not one who did not expect to be victorious. I had not seen Alea for some time. While I was with the king, who was surrounded by several of his chiefs, she unexpectedly made her appearance among us. She was weeping bitterly.

"Father," she said, "I am the cause of all the bloodshed which is about to occur. Let my life be sacrificed rather than that of so many of your friends. Give me up to the chief. He can then have no cause to complain. I will never be his wife. I may make my escape or I may die, but the lives of you and your friends will be preserved."

On hearing this noble resolve, the chiefs to a man exclaimed that nothing should induce them to abandon the princess. Prayers from all sides were in the mean time offered up for the success of the band of warriors who had gone forth to attack the enemy. No one, however, slackened in their efforts to fortify the town, and all, from the king, when not engaged in council, down to the slave taken in battle, carried baskets of earth or posts for stockades, during the greater part of the night, to those parts of the fortifications which required strengthening. As the hours drew on we waited anxiously for the result of the expedition. I could not help feeling how critical was our position. I was not anxious, however, on my own account, but I could not help reflecting on the sad condition to which Mary would be reduced should her father and I be cut off, as we might too probably be if the heathens gained the victory. Then came the blessed and consoling thought that God cares for the orphans, especially of those who serve Him; what strength and courage does it give those who rest on His sure promises—a comfort which people of the world can never enjoy.

I went the rounds of the fortifications a short time before dawn, and found all the warriors at their posts. I then rejoined Mr Bent, and was conversing with him, when a loud shout from a distance reached our ears, followed by a confused sound of shrieks and cries mingled with the shouts, which continued without cessation for many minutes. Scouts were sent out to ascertain the cause, but no one returned before day broke. The light then revealed to us the fleet of the enemy shoving off from the land. Some of the canoes had already got away, others were hoisting their sails, while a body of the enemy were defending themselves on the beach, hard pressed by our friends. On seeing this the warriors in the town rushed from their trenches, but before they could reach the scene of action not an enemy remained on their strand, with the exception of three or four slain and some thirty or more taken prisoners. The rest sailed away in hot haste, seized with an unusual, if not an unaccountable panic. As their sails had become mere dots on the horizon, the victors entered the town singing, not as before songs of triumph in honour of their idols, but praises to Jehovah, to whom they ascribed their victory. Mr Bent and I, with the women and children and aged men who had not gone forth to the fight, met them, when the king, in set form, recounted what had occurred. The first band had remained concealed till near daylight, when the enemy appeared to be getting drowsy after all their feasting and dancing. At a signal from their leader they dashed forth on the foe, who, totally unprepared for them, were seized with a sudden panic, and the greater number, leaving even their arms, fled towards their canoes. The few who were killed had refused to receive quarter, and as many as could be seized were taken prisoners. These latter fully expected to be slaughtered immediately, and to be offered up to idols, if not to be eaten. They had been somewhat surprised in the first instance to see that their friends who had been killed in the fight were decently interred where they fell, instead of being dragged ignominiously by the heels to the town. They only concluded that this was one of the new customs of the lotu people, and had no expectation in consequence of escaping the common doom of captives. Several of them were chiefs who had attempted to defend the rear while their countrymen were embarking. They stood with downcast, sullen looks, prepared for torture and death. The king now approached them. "Why, O chiefs, did you come to attack my island and my people?" he asked calmly. "We are now among those who wish to live at peace with all men, to have enmity towards no one. Why did you desire to do us harm?"

"We came against you because our king and master ordered us," answered one of the prisoners, looking up with a fierce scowl of defiance on his countenance. "Our object was to carry off your daughter to become our king's wife; the rest of you we should have killed and eaten."

"And I, O chiefs, let you go free because my King and Master orders me to be merciful, that I may obtain mercy," answered the king. "You, O chiefs and people, are free to return to your own island, but before you go you must learn something of the new religion which we have been taught, that you may go back and speak of it to your people, or wherever you may go."

The astonished captives could scarcely believe their senses, the treatment was so unlike anything those they had known taken in war had experienced. They consulted together and expressed their willingness to accept the offer. They were completely overcome when the king promised them a large canoe and ample provisions for their return. The people having taken some refreshment, assembled at the church, where hearty thanksgivings were offered up for the deliverance they had experienced. The captives attended. I watched their countenances. They seemed lost in amazement. All the sentiments were so new and strange. The reign of the Prince of Peace was spoken of. They soon after came to the missionary desiring that they might be allowed to serve so good a Master. They never seemed tired of receiving instruction in the new doctrine, and I was struck with its wonderful adaptability to unsophisticated man, and its power of satisfying his heart yearnings, from the avidity with which they seized each point as presented to them.

It was now time to return to the mission station. We bade an affectionate farewell to Alea, promising to send her intended husband back to the island as soon as possible. The now liberated captives agreed to embark on the same day. Their chief entreaty was that a missionary or a teacher might be sent them to instruct them in the way of eternal life, that way which, by a wonderful combination of circumstances, they were now anxious to follow. Thus the Almighty works often, and thus He has thought fit in an especial manner to work throughout the Pacific.

The difficulty was to obtain a teacher. Mr Bent had several under training at the station, and he told the captives that if they would accompany us he would endeavour to find one who would return with them to their island. They were delighted with the proposal, and exhibited an extraordinary eagerness to set forth. Their hurry was at the time unaccountable, as they were evidently sincere in their expressions. Anxious to please them, we accordingly had our canoe launched, taking several of them on board, the remainder going in the canoe given by the king. The wind being fair, we had a quick run till more than half way across. Just then, through our glasses, we caught sight of a canoe, which, on discovering us, as it seemed, paddled off at right angles to avoid us—her people evidently mistrusting our character. We instantly altered our course to cut her off, and approached her with our missionary flag flying. No sooner was this discovered than the canoe turned again towards us. She soon drew near, when we recognised the people in her as belonging to the station. By their gestures and countenances we had too much reason to believe that they brought us evil tidings. "Haste! haste! haste!" they exclaimed, leaping on board. "A heathen fleet has arrived at the island, and the chief threatens to attack the station. Even now he may have begun the onslaught, for his fury was great. Haste! haste! haste!"



We now understood more of the dangers to which the families of missionaries have often been exposed in all parts of the world. I must own that in my fears for Mary Bent's safety, my own faith and fortitude were well nigh giving way. Mr Bent retained his calmness in a wonderful manner. "All things are in God's hands," he observed. "He will guide them as He knows to be best. We have to go on labouring to the utmost of our power, leaving the rest to Him." I felt that I must be in action, and hauling the canoe on board with the aid of her crew, we got out the paddles and urged our craft ahead somewhat faster than the wind was doing. Every moment might be of consequence. As the cannibal chief, exasperated at having been deprived of Alea, might attempt to carry off Mary, the very thought drove me almost distracted. I had had few or no trials in life, and was not prepared for this one.

Mr Bent wished to ascertain whether, if required, we could depend on the assistance of our new friends. They had heard what had occurred, and at once volunteered to use every means in their power to prevent their chief from doing harm, even to turning against him.

"He will live perhaps to thank us," one of them, a young and intelligent chief, observed. "At all events you have bound us to serve you."

All now seemed to depend on our arriving before the attack had begun. We trusted that if not begun we should be able to prevent it. Meantime all we could do was to offer up constant, earnest prayer for the protection of one so dear to us, and for all those at the settlement. The wind, hitherto blowing a strong breeze, now fell light, and our progress was slower than before.

"All is for the best, depend on that, my son," repeated the missionary several times, when he observed my look of anxiety. "God's loving mercy endureth for ever. Pray against doubt—pray against doubt. Put on the armour of faith. In that you will find strength to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one."

My venerable friend spoke the truth, and already my fears began to subside, although I could in no way see the mode of deliverance. I expressed the same to Mr Bent.

"Nor did we the other day, but God clearly fought for us as He did in days of old for the children of Israel, by putting fear into the hearts of their enemies, and so can He now find some means for the protection of those who serve Him."

On we glided over the calm blue water. Now the breeze freshened, and as the surface became rippled over, it sparkled brightly in the sunbeams. As the island came in sight my heart beat quicker and quicker, and with difficulty I could restrain my impatience. I stood at the bows with my glass at my eye directed constantly at the spot where the station was to be found. As the sun then was, objects close in under the land were not distinctly discernible, but as my glass every now and then swept the horizon on either side, the sails of a fleet of canoes came into view. The instrument almost dropped from my hand. We were too late. The attack had been made and the victors were sailing away with their captives. My first impulse was to give chase, and to attempt their recovery. I did not consider how powerless we were even should our new allies remain faithful. For some time I could not bring myself to tell my fears to Mr Bent; but it was necessary to alter our course if we were to pursue the enemy. At length, therefore, it became necessary for me to tell him what I had seen. He took the telescope, and after a severe scrutiny of the horizon in every direction, and especially of the island, he asked, in a more cheerful voice than might have been expected:

"Can you not assign some other cause for the flight of the foe? Look again."

I did so; and now, the sun having come round a little, I saw close in with the missionary station a large ship at anchor. She might be the Golden Crown, come to take me away. I hoped not. My heart again sunk. As we drew nearer I saw that she was much larger—a man-of-war. The station was safe. Otherwise she would have been sailing in pursuit of the canoes. With one voice we burst forth in the native tongue with songs of praise and thanksgiving; and now the canoe seemed to glide more swiftly over the glad blue sea. We entered the harbour, where lay a fine English frigate. As we passed her I hailed and inquired if the station was safe.

"Yes, yes, all right," was the answer. "We came in just in time to prevent mischief."

Our eagerness to reach home prevented us from stopping to make further inquiries. No sooner did our boat's keel touch the strand than we leaped on shore. Even then before leaving the beach the missionary knelt down and offered up a few words of thanksgiving for the mercies vouchsafed us. We reached the house. Mary and her companion did not come out to welcome us. Voices reached our ears from within. One I thought I recognised. We looked in. Mary was doing the honours of the tea-table with some other ladies. There were three naval officers and two gentlemen in black coats. One of the latter turned his face. It was that of my brother John. I had time to greet him while Mary was receiving her father and introducing her guests. Then came my turn to be received by her. I need not describe that. I was very happy. The whole scene was so different from what I had but a short time before expected, that I was perfectly bewildered. I felt deeply grateful that Mary had escaped all the dangers I apprehended, and which had really threatened her.

The frigate had appeared off the station just at the very moment that the cannibal chief and his followers were about to land. She brought up with her guns commanding the approach to the town. The captain, suspecting mischief, instantly despatched an armed boat to warn the chief that he would allow no warlike demonstration to be made in his presence, and that if he attempted to land he would blow his canoes to pieces. The warning had had at first very little effect, and the chief, in defiance, leaping on shore with his followers from the largest canoe, left her deserted. The officer in charge of the boat immediately fired the gun in the bows right into her, and almost knocked her to pieces. The interpreter then shouted out, "If the small gun of this little boat will do all this mischief, what would all the great guns of the big ship do?"

The argument was irresistible. The chief, leaping on board another canoe, begged that no more damage might be done, and offered to sail away immediately, promising never again to come near the settlement. This he was allowed to do on condition of his returning directly home without committing further damage on the way, and he was compelled to leave two hostages as a guarantee that he would perform his promise. All this was told in a few words, and John now introduced me to his devoted wife; and as I heard of some of the many trials and dangers they had gone through, and how calmly she had endured them, I felt how admirably she was fitted to be the helpmate of a missionary. The captain of the frigate was, I discovered, an old family friend—one who, convinced of the importance of missionary labour, was zealous in aiding and supporting missionaries of the gospel wherever he met them engaged in their Master's work. He had found John suffering from hard work and anxiety, and had persuaded him and his wife to take a trip among several of the Polynesian groups, to visit as many of the missionary stations as could be reached, in the hopes that he might return home with renewed strength for his work. One of the ladies was his wife's sister, who had come out to assist her in her labours—not the only example of self-devotion to a glorious and thrice blessed cause. The other gentleman in plain clothes was the chaplain of the ship. While conversing with him an idea occurred to me which I took an early opportunity of communicating to John, who highly approved of it, and undertook to broach the subject to Mr Bent while I mentioned it to Mary. It was one which concerned us both very nearly, for it was a proposal to take the opportunity of marrying while a legally authorised person was present to perform the ceremony, with my own brother and our naval friend as witnesses. Mary had no objections to offer, and we soon overcame those Mr Bent suggested.

The benefit of the visit of the ship-of-war to the different missionary stations was very great, besides having preserved ours from almost certain destruction. The admirable discipline of the crew had a great influence on the minds of the heathen natives, so different from what they had been accustomed to witness on board many whalers; the perfect order of everything on board the ship, and the mighty power of her guns, awed them still more, and showed them the folly of offending people who had in their possession such instruments of punishment. I will not say that the appearance of any ship of war would do good. Unless discipline is strict and no licence is allowed, they might do, as some have done, a great deal of harm.

One of the worst of this kind, was that of Captain Kotzebue, commanding a Russian exploring expedition. Wherever he went he outraged decency by the licence he allowed his crew, and on his return home malignantly abused the English missionaries whom he found nobly struggling, against innumerable difficulties, to reclaim the hapless natives from the sin and corruption which he had done his utmost to encourage. Others, from ignorance or from vicious dispositions, followed his line of abuse, though happily the greater number of their publications have sunk into deserved oblivion, while the glorious result of missionary labour, evident to all who will inquire, proclaims the falsehood of their accusations. To the honour of the British navy be it said that by far the greater number of captains who have visited the isles of the Pacific have rendered essential service to the missionary cause while on the spot, and have spoken and written heartily in its praise on their return home.

We had very little time to prepare for the wedding as the frigate could not remain long. I employed the interval in getting assistance from the ship's carpenters in building a vessel, and instruction, with the necessary plans for continuing the work after the frigate had gone. I had some knowledge of the art to begin with, so that I knew exactly what information I required. My ambition was to have a fine, serviceable little vessel, and I had every hope of succeeding. I was thoroughly up to rigging and fitting her.

The time passed very rapidly, and my wedding-day arrived, and Mary became my most loving and devoted wife,—a bright example to those among whom our lot was cast. I have not dwelt on the visit of my brother John, or the enjoyment and benefit I derived from his society. Our station was healthy, but the surgeon of the ship recommended his continuing the voyage, and with reluctance I parted from him, hoping, however, to visit him when my schooner should be completed. Once more the missionary station was left in its usual quiet state; but, though quiet, no one was idle. There were schools both for adults as well as children,—the males, under the superintendence of Mr Bent, with native teachers; the women and girls under Mary and her friend. Classes also assembled during most days in the week for religious instruction. Mr Bent was also frequently engaged in teaching the young men and boys various mechanical arts: house-building in its various departments, agriculture and gardening, and last, though not least, printing and book-binding. It is wonderful with what rapidity many acquired the art of printing, and many learned to bind books with great neatness and strongly. I meantime, aided by my wife, was making fail progress in the language, so that I was able to talk without difficulty to the men who assisted me in building the vessel. She was at length ready for launching. I proposed calling her the Mary, but to this my wife would not consent. We had a discussion on the subject round our tea-table during that pleasantest of all meals in most missionary, indeed in most quiet families. The Ark was proposed, and then the Olive Branch. The latter was the name decided on.

It was made a day of rejoicing and prayer and praise on the occasion of launching the little Olive Branch. Formerly one, or perhaps several, human victims would have been offered up to their idols by the then benighted inhabitants. The vessel herself was decked with flags and garlands, and surrounded by high poles, from which gay-coloured banners were flying.

A feast was prepared also, at which the chief, who came in state, presided. We had limited the quantity of provisions, or else, according to custom, far more than could have been consumed would have been collected. A large bower or tent of boughs and flowers had been erected for the chief and his principal attendants,—a very elegant, though a rapidly created structure. Mary named the vessel as she glided down the ways, and a hymn of thankfulness, combined with a prayer for the safety of all who might ever sail in her, was sung by the children of the school at the same time, the effect being admirable. I was somewhat anxious till I saw the little craft floating safely in the water.

We had purposely avoided anything savouring of heathenism, such as breaking a bottle of wine on her bows, taken evidently from the Greek custom of pouring out a libation to Neptune; nor would we make a mockery of the rite of baptism, by pretending to christen her. Living among heathens, it was our duty to be especially circumspect in all our proceedings. The natives are very acute, and are accustomed to make enquiries as to the meaning and origin of everything they see. How unsatisfactory would have been the answer we should have had to give, had we, without consideration or thought, adopted the practice generally followed in England.

The missionaries have endeavoured as much as possible to abolish all heathen customs, so that the evil-disposed may have no temptation to return to them. In this they show wisdom. Even the sports and pastimes of heathenism, though they may by some be considered harmless in themselves, are generally adverse to the spiritual life of a Christian, and therefore they have been discouraged. The missionaries have in consequence been accused of being morose and narrow-minded. Far, far different is their real character. As a class, they are zealous, earnest, devoted men, full of life, activity, and energy,—courageous and persevering,—gifted with high and varied attainments, which would enable them to shine among civilised communities, but they have joyfully abandoned home and country, and, in obedience to their Lord and Master, have gone forth to teach the heathen the unsearchable riches of Christ. Let those who may fancy that I overpraise these men, read their memoirs, and they will be convinced of the truth of my statements.

The native carpenters worked admirably. I had spars, rigging, and a suit of sails ready, supplied me by the frigate, with a compass and such nautical instruments as I required, so the Olive Branch was soon ready for sea. I proposed in my first experimental trip to pay a visit to Vihala, to leave two more native teachers on the island, and then, on my return, to see Alea, and to ascertain the progress made by her father and fellow-islanders in religion. Mary begged that she might accompany me, and, as her father made no objections, I was too glad of her company to refuse. For several days, however, I first made frequent trips out of the harbour, to exercise my native crew, who, although they had never before been on board a vessel, became efficient hands in a wonderfully short space of time. The reason of this was that they gave their minds thoroughly to their work, and were anxious to learn everything I could teach them.

The Olive Branch was completed to my satisfaction and to that of all who saw her. I was indeed very proud of her, as chiefly the work of my own hands; and yet when I compared the slight difficulties I had had to overcome with the great ones conquered by Mr Williams at Raratonga, when building the Messenger of Peace, I felt sensibly how little cause I had to boast.

As Mr Bent had promised to relieve Vihala of his charge as soon as possible, two teachers had been trained for the purpose, and these we now took on board. We had with us a number of axes and knives, and other articles most prized by the natives, both to pay for provisions or whatever we might require, as also to bestow on Vihala, hoping that, if he were thus richly endowed, the old king would not refuse longer to give him his daughter.

Two of the men who had come as heathen enemies now remained as friends, and earnest searchers after truth. The remainder, deeply imbued with the spirit of Christianity, had returned to their own island, we hoped to pave the way for a missionary among its still heathen and cannibal inhabitants.

Thus during the few months since I had left my ship I had seen a way made for the entrance of the gospel into these thickly-inhabited islands. Thus it has pleased God to work through human agency among a large proportion of the isles of the Pacific; nor has He ever failed to afford, after a time, superabundant encouragement to His faithful labourers. Oh that some of the many thousands and thousands of young men and women who read this would consider the noble, the glorious nature of missionary work, and esteem it as a high privilege to be allowed to employ their energies in the cause!

How different was our voyage from that which Mary, Mr Bent, and I before took in the same direction! But where were our companions? Were we the only ones alive out of the whole party? At all events, we had ample reason to be grateful. The wind was fair, and our passage promised to be as calm and pleasant as we could desire.

On getting near enough to the island to distinguish objects on shore, we saw a number of people hurrying down to the beach, from among the trees, while some launched their canoes and paddled off through the opening in the reef towards us. Their object was to welcome us, and to pilot the schooner into their harbour. They knew that the schooner was a missionary vessel from her flag, but they had not guessed who was on board. Their delight, when they recognised Mr Bent and Mary, was excessive; and so completely did they forget all about the vessel, that had I not kept a good look-out she would have run right on to the reef. On our enquiring for Vihala, the answer was, "He is well, and we all Christian."

The glorious news we found on landing to be true. Vihala received us with joy unfeigned, and it was some little time before we could proceed, from the number of people who crowded round us to express their satisfaction at our arrival. Great also was ours when, at length moving on, we saw before us a handsome structure, a church erected entirely by the natives, under Vihala's superintendence, capable of holding seven or eight hundred persons, and near it a school-house and two neat residences for teachers.

"Your church is indeed large," observed Mr Bent, after expressing his admiration of it to Vihala.

"Yes," was the quiet answer; "but all desire to hear the word, and why should any be excluded? The kingdom of heaven is wide enough for all."

Alas! that any should so mistake the gospel message as to think differently, and to act as if all should be thrust out who do not conform to certain rules and regulations of man's invention, although they with deep repentance trust in the blood of Christ alone for salvation. Many a once heathen savage will rise up in the day of judgment to condemn those men. Would that, for their own sakes, they could even now voyage amid the isles of the Pacific, and behold the glorious work wrought by the instrumentality of true Christian men of various branches of the one Church, and I believe that they would be compelled to acknowledge that an unction from on high is of more avail in saving souls alive than any mere official and external qualification, such as the Romish priesthood with its pretended apostolic succession claims. The means are best judged of by the result, and that can be known of all men. "By their works ye shall know them." It was remarkable that, except for the few days Mr Bent had preached on the islands, none of the inhabitants had heard the truth from a white missionary, and yet the majority of them had cast away their idols, and become nominal Christians,—while many of them were really converted.

We had a most delightful time on the island. The two new teachers we brought somewhat reconciled the people to the loss of Vihala, though their grief was most unmistakable when they were told that he must leave them for a time at all events.

Again we were on the ocean, and approaching the island where Vihala expected to meet his promised bride. He had long been separated from her. He acknowledged that it had been for his good, and he hoped that, with the spiritual benefits he had received while engaged as a teacher, they should the better be able to walk together on their heavenward way, and lead others on to the same happy goal.



But a few years ago, before the power of God's word was felt among the inhabitants of the fair islands of the Pacific, to the numerous dangers usually encountered by mariners, that of being attacked and cut off by cannibal savages was to be added throughout its whole extent. Now, throughout the eastern portion, the greater number of the islands may be visited, not only without fear, but with the certainty of a friendly reception. There are still some,—like the Marquesas and parts of the Pomautau group, or Low Archipelago,—which still remain in the darkness of heathenism; but on the western portion of that mighty ocean, the bright spots on which the gospel shines are the exception to the general rule, and over the widest parts the spirit of evil reigns supreme. It was here that true soldier of Christ, the energetic Williams, fell; and here, too, Mr Gordon and his wife and family were lately murdered by the savage inhabitants.

It was towards a group of islands in the eastern Pacific that the Olive Branch was now holding its course. We had seen Vihala happily united to Alea, with the full consent of the old king, and they had devoted themselves for missionary labour wherever they might be required. This was surprising to many, and to the heathen perfectly incomprehensible. It was as astonishing to them as it would be to people in England, if a young noble of high rank were to declare his resolution of going forth as a missionary of the gospel to these heathen lands. Yet what undertaking more glorious, what work more pleasing to the Lord and Master, whom Christians of all ranks, rich and poor, profess to serve. We had likewise visited the island of the once cannibal chief, who had heard of the new religion from his countrymen, had confessed its vast superiority to his own, cast away his idols, and gladly received the two teachers we had brought with us. All this had been most cheering and encouraging.

We had landed Mr Bent at the station, and now we hoped shortly again to meet my brother John and his wife, and to convey them, and some other missionaries and their wives, to a general meeting to be held shortly at the central station. We had received on board a variety of stores, and books, and numerous articles to distribute among the various stations at which we were to touch. Indeed, it was highly satisfactory to me to find how useful my little Olive Branch could be made.

Hitherto the little vessel had not encountered a single storm. It was like the rest we might suppose the ocean enjoyed after the subsidence of the waters when the ark rested on Ararat,—not a calm, though; for gentle breezes filled our sails, and rippled over the blue surface of the sea with glittering wavelets, laughing joyously in the sunbeams. A lovely island hove in sight, with blue mountains, and rocks, and sparkling waterfalls, and green shrubs, and pastures, and graceful palm-trees, and yellow sands; and we sailed in through an opening in the never absent reef, and dropped our anchor in a sheltered and beautiful harbour, and numbers of canoes surrounded us. But we had no boarding nettings up, no guns loaded, no pistols in our belts, no cutlasses and pikes ready at hand; for the gospel ruled here. The canoes were filled with well-clothed, intelligent natives. Not an oath was heard, not a man showed an angry temper, and not one who could not read the word of God, and understood it too, and could give a clear reason for the hope that was in him, and who was not probably, even in secular matters, far better educated than the larger portion of the watermen of any port in England, or other long-civilised country in the world.

Provisions of various sorts had been brought in the canoes; but when I enquired for John Harvey, and announced that I was his brother, and that my wife was the daughter of Mr Bent, not an approach to payment would any one receive. When we landed they lifted us up in their arms, and carried us thus to the mission house, where our appearance was a pleasant surprise to our sister-in-law, who had not been made aware of our arrival. My brother was away, but every hour expected back.

I had looked upon Mr Bent's station as a model of neatness; this was larger, and superior in many respects; nor was it inferior in respect to spiritual things. The church, built entirely of stone, was a large and handsome building, and the most conspicuous object from the sea. Running parallel with the shore were two rows, facing each other, of neat cottages, many of stone, with verandahs round them, and gardens both in front and in the rear. Between them was a broad hard road, with two rows of trees, and a stream of sparkling water led through the centre, fed by a waterfall which came foaming down the side of a rocky hill at a little distance inland. Several streets of equal width had been commenced at right angles with the main street, and on the same plan, and new houses were in course of erection in several directions. Here it was evident, indeed, was the commencement of a large town. The cottages were all very fair copies of the mission-house, though on a smaller scale. Those of some of the chiefs, however, were of good size, and were arranged so that they could enjoy all the privacy of domestic life.

And why, it may be asked, was this congregation of natives in one place? What could be the attraction? My love and admiration of John suggested the answer, and I was right: the power of God's word put forth through His faithful servant. The inhabitants of this town had been collected by concern for their soul's welfare, and the belief that the nearer they were to the preacher the more that welfare would be cared for. They displayed a wisdom which is foolishness to the world, and is, alas! too often neglected by those at home, by those who profess to be seeking after the food which perisheth not. I write this, as well as other comparisons I have made, not to find fault with my countrymen at home, but that (should my journal ever be read by any of them) I may excite in them a holy emulation with these so late savage heathens, that they may examine themselves, and ascertain whether they are using all the means in their power to attain to holiness of life and conversation, and without which their spiritual life will too probably languish.

I found my sister-in-law actively engaged from morning till night in her household duties, and in affording instruction of every description to native women of all ages. She declared with perfect sincerity her belief that she was one of the happiest of her sex. She retained the most perfect health, though her figure was slight and delicate, and she had been most gently and tenderly nurtured. Not only that, but she had been what is called highly educated, and was not a stranger to the gay and brilliant assemblies of "civilised" life. It was not that she knew no other lot, and therefore esteemed her present one the best; but she had weighed it with many others she did know, and found it immeasurably superior. She knew from experience that worldly rank hides many a heavy or vacant heart where God is not acknowledged, that wealth cannot give peace of mind, and that gaiety and dissipation most assuredly quench spiritual life. She had found, too, that even a decent church-attending style of existence may be unprofitable to the soul, and as certain to lead to spiritual death. My sister-in-law was not entirely alone. There were two other stations on the island, which was large, and the missionaries and their wives enjoyed frequent intercourse, thus encouraging and supporting each other.

Indeed, I have as a rule found the stations the most prosperous both spiritually and physically where two missionary families have been living together, or where they are near enough to meet frequently. A missionary's wife has to attend to her household duties, often not slightly onerous when she has children requiring instruction. Then she has the female schools to look after, adult classes to receive at her own house, to afford advice to all who ask it, to call on the sick and to administer medicine, and to visit often from house to house. She must correspond with friends at home; she has her private devotions, and must take time for reading and self-examination, or she will find that she can ill perform her other duties. I do not believe that I have overstated the amount of work I have known my sister-in-law and other missionaries' wives perform. Indeed, my own wife was in the habit of getting through not less daily, for weeks together.

Although the greater number of the inhabitants of the island had become Christians in name, there was still a large district the powerful chief of which remained a stubborn heathen. He seemed to hate the gospel with a deadly hatred, and threatened to club any of his subjects who should venture to lotu. Notwithstanding this, several who had heard the truth, either directly or through their friends, had secretly escaped to Christian villages. Many of these persons had become really converted, and were of course longing to induce their relatives and friends to become Christians likewise.

Such was the state of things when the Olive Branch arrived at the island. A more beautiful picture could scarcely be found than that presented by the calm bay on which our little vessel floated, with her mission-flag flying,—the glittering sand, the tall cocoa-nut and bread-fruit trees, the wild rocks and fantastic-shaped hills, the green fields, the foaming waterfalls and shining streams, and the rows of neat habitations, the church and school-houses,—all showing that the gospel had indeed here found an entrance, and made it doubly beautiful in our sight.

We had been some hours on shore when we saw the natives hurrying out of their cottages and assembling in the chief street, and the cry arose that the missionary was coming. I was scarcely prepared for the warm and affectionate greeting with which they welcomed him. There was no adulation and nothing cringing in their manner; but it was evident that they knew him from experience as a sincere and loving friend.

Great as was our mutual satisfaction at again meeting, so multifarious were his duties that we had but little time for private conversation. I was able, however, to ascertain that John's heart was in his work, and that he infinitely preferred being a missionary in the South-Seas to holding the highest secular office at home. The Sabbath came. It was a day of toil to the preachers and teachers, and yet a day of refreshing to them as it was to hundreds of others, who collected from all quarters to worship the true God, and to hear His word expounded. Many came with their wives and little ones, bringing their provisions, to spend the day of rest in obtaining spiritual food for their souls' welfare. The service over, numbers collected round my brother and the native teachers, and almost the whole interval between the services was devoted to affording advice and consolation to these seekers after life eternal.

But the faith of the young Christian community in the especial providence of God was sorely to be tried. All things were prepared for our departure, and we were about going on board the Olive Branch, when the somewhat threatening appearance of the weather made me resolve not to sail before the following morning. I was convinced shortly that a gale of more or less strength was coming on, and leaving Mary at the mission house, I went on board to secure the vessel and make all things snug. Scarcely had I got out a second anchor and two fresh warps than dark clouds were seen rushing across the sky, the wind howled among the hills and trees, lightning flashed brightly, and the thunder roared and rattled fearfully. I was in hopes, however, that the vessel would, notwithstanding, ride in safety, when it struck me that the sea outside was roaring louder than usual, and in an instant a huge roller appeared rushing with fearful violence into the harbour, while before I could look round I found the vessel lifted up, cables and anchors dragging, and warps giving way, and on we drove helplessly towards the shore. My crew held on to the bulwarks with affrighted looks, for we could expect nothing else than that our little vessel would be dashed to pieces, and if so, that we ourselves should be swept out of the harbour by the receding wave. Another dread seized me, that the roller might sweep up to the mission house and overwhelm those so dear to me. This feeling made me forget all fear for my own life, or for those with me. As I gazed landward, I saw the devastation the hurricane was already committing. Several cottages were in view. Now the wind lifted the roof of one and bore it in shattered fragments to a distance. Now the walls of another trembled and fell; tall trees were bending and breaking, or being torn up by the roots and laid prostrate; house after house was thus destroyed; whole groves of trees, as it seemed to me, fell to the ground; darkness appeared to be coming down like a thick mantle to add to the horrors of the scene.

On drove our little vessel; the rocks against which I expected to be dashed appeared; these were covered, and over them we were carried by the raging tide, above even the sands, and lifted high up on to a soft bank amid brushwood stern first, where she hung while the waters rushed back leaving her uninjured on the shore. We were mercifully preserved from the sudden death we expected, and were grateful; but yet, though not cast down, knowing all would be for the best, I felt most anxious to assure myself of the safety of my dear wife and her companions.

We had come on shore, as far as I could judge, half a mile or more from the mission house, a distance which it would be not only difficult but extremely dangerous to traverse while the storm was raging and tall trees were being hurled about like straws. One of my crew—a true Christian man—volunteered to accompany me. The Olive Branch had already been made snug aloft, so when I had seen her securely shored up, trusting and believing that no second roller would come to move her, I set off, leaving the rest of the people on board to attend to her. My companion and I provided ourselves each with a stout pole. I led the way, he to help me should I fall, and I promising to turn back should he cry out.

The noise of the tempest prevented our having anything like conversation with each other, indeed it was only when we shouted at the very top of our voices that they could be heard. The darkness had increased, and as I began to move on I felt that the attempt was almost beyond my power; still the incentive was so great that I resolved to persevere. I prayed for strength and protection. In my own arm I knew that I could not trust. There were no stars to guide me, and the flashes of lightning sadly confused and dazzled my eyes, so that it was only by keeping as near as possible to the shore that I could hope to keep in the proper direction. This way was longer, however, and very rough where rocks covered the ground, and I dreaded a return of the roller, when we might have been swept helplessly away. The dangers to be encountered by keeping inland were equally great. We might be struck by lightning, crushed by falling trees, or losing our way, fall into some gully or chasm.

Feeling the ground before us with our poles, my companion and I began our hazardous march, I desired him to keep as close behind me as he could, and to shout frequently to assure me that he was following. The tempest increased in fury, the rain came down in torrents, causing such floods as in some places almost to sweep us off our feet.

We had made good some five or six hundred yards, when I thought that we might make faster progress on the higher ground, where the water would not be so great an impediment to our progress. I knew also that we should be able to steer our course more or less directly by feeling the direction the water was flowing, so that we might always regain the sea by following down the streams. Accordingly we attempted gradually to gain the higher ground, but as we ascended, we felt the wind blowing with greater force, and were again nearly carried off our legs by it. I had to exert all the energies of my mind not to become totally bewildered. Over rough rocks we climbed, and fallen trunks of trees, and through the beds of streams, down which the fierce waters now rushed foaming and roaring with fearful force, and across swamps and marshes, till at last we reached a grove of tall trees. We could discover no way round it, so I resolved to push through it by a path in which we found ourselves. The trees were bending and writhing, and the loud crashes we heard told us that every instant some were hurled to the ground. Now one fell directly before me, and impeded my progress. I climbed over it, my companion followed, and we continued our course, guided as before by the way the rain beat on our heads and the waters flowed past our feet. Again the thunder rolled loudly and the lightning flashed with startling vividness, casting a horrid glare over the whole scene, now darting amid the lofty boughs, and then snake-like running with loud hisses along the ground. How utterly helpless and insignificant I felt amid the war of the elements.

Still onward we must advance. How much farther I could not tell. My companion's frequent shout cheered me. Perhaps trusting to the aid of another made me more careless, for neglecting for an instant to keep my stick feeling the ground before me, I stumbled forward, and found myself floundering in a foaming stream. My cry prevented my companion from falling likewise. Descending more cautiously he rushed into the flood after me, and seizing me by the jacket just as I was being borne down, assisted me to regain my feet, and helped me across, the water being scarcely up to our middles. In another instant I should have been carried helplessly down the stream beyond my depth. We struggled out, I scarcely know how, and pushed on.

Again, I took the lead. We were passing through a second grove of bread-fruit trees. Another tall tree fell directly before me. I climbed over it. Crash succeeded crash. I prayed for preservation from the fate which might any moment overtake me. I began to hope that we were approaching the station. Still we were not out of the wood. I was working my way on when it occurred to me that my companion had not sung out to me for a longer time than usual. I called to him. There was no answer. Eager as I was to push on, I could not desert him. I turned back. Again and again I called. There was no answer. I reached a fallen tree. Was it the one I had climbed over, or was it one which had fallen after I had passed? I felt along it. My foot struck against a soft substance. I stooped down. There lay a human form—quite still though—the hand I lifted fell powerless. My companion was dead. "One shall be taken and the other left." God in His good providence had thought fit to spare me. My companion was trusting wholly in Christ's blood. I could not mourn him as one without hope.

It was no time to delay. Once again I was straining all my energies to find and follow the right way. It appeared to me that far more than double the time had passed which I had believed would suffice to reach the station. I almost ran against the gable end of a house the greater part of which was in ruins. I heard a loud moan. It was repeated. I hunted about till I came on a native crouching down and endeavouring to find shelter under part of the building yet standing. I asked him if he would guide me to the mission house. My voice roused him, and he said he would gladly do so. He sprang to his feet, and led me on by the hand. "Here it is!" he exclaimed; but, alas, it was roofless and deserted.


Note 1. In the course of this volume the author, it will be observed, has transcribed much from the actual reports of missionaries, and from the journals of naval officers who have visited the South-Seas. Even in the connecting thread of narrative, and in descriptive scenes such as this of the storm, the writer has stated nothing for which he has not ample authority in published works. In a most interesting book, "Gems from the Coral Islands," by the Reverend William Gill, volume two, chapter 9, an account is given of the fearful hurricane of 1846, which devastated the island of Raratonga. Dr Bourne, son of the Reverend R Bourne, one of the founders of the Tahitian mission, the friend and associate of Williams, thus writes concerning the illustrations which accompany our letterpress, proofs of which he had seen: "The engravings represent the tropical aspect of the vegetation with great correctness. Many are not aware of the grandeur of the mountain scenery in some of the islands. Dr Darwin, who was with Captain Fitzroy's expedition, says of Tahiti: 'Until I actually visited this island, and tried to penetrate its mountain fastnesses, I could never understand the statement made by Ellis, in his "Polynesian Researches," that after the great battles of former times the defeated party took refuge in the mountains, where it was impossible to follow them.' Mr Darwin then describes the rugged ravines and forest-clad precipices, wilder than anything he had witnessed in the South American Andes or Cordilleras." Raiatea, Eimeo, and others in the Society group, are composed of vast and abrupt mountain ranges, rising almost abruptly from the sea, and having very little habitable ground, but all covered with the densest vegetation. The most stupendous volcanoes in the world are those of the Sandwich Islands, compared with which Etna and Vesuvius are mere hillocks.



For an instant the horror of finding the house in ruins, and being unable to discover my wife and the dear ones with her, almost overcame me. I should have sunk to the ground exhausted, had not the native supported me.

"Trust in Jehovah, friend," he remarked, quietly. "He knows what is best for us all: your wife and our good missionary are in His hands."

"How long have you been a Christian?" I could not help asking.

"Two years," was the answer. "Before that I was a gross idolater and cannibal; there was no wickedness I did not do. But, praised be the Lord Jesus Christ, I was, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, brought out of darkness into the light of His glorious truth."

I felt rebuked, and grasping my staff once more, braced myself up to continue my search. The native accompanied me.

"They may have escaped to the mountains," he observed. "We will go there. I can find the path even in the dark, and there is a cavern not far up, where they may have taken shelter. Once, when we were devil's people, we dreaded to enter it, thinking it the abode of evil spirits; now that we are God's people, we know that God is everywhere, and have no fear."

Again I felt how the remark of this babe in Christ, this late savage heathen, would rebuke many of those in our own dear England who, even in this professedly enlightened nineteenth century, yet tremble at the thoughts of ghosts, witches, and other similar phantoms of their foolish imaginations.

It appeared to me that the hurricane was subsiding; but still our progress was slow and painful. It was, however, an advantage having a beaten path, though that in many places was cut up by the water, and in others, trees and roofs of cottages had been blown across it. I found that we were ascending,—higher and higher up the mountain we got. Lofty rocks appeared on every side,—the lightning seemed to be more vivid,—the crash of the thunder, as it reverberated in rattling peals amid the cliffs, was even louder than before. I remembered my companion's remark, and felt no fear.

"There is the cavern," he said, at length.

I hurried in through a narrow opening, following closely at his heels. A light was shining at the farther end: it was from a fire, round which a number of persons were collected. On the opposite side, with the light shining full on his countenance, stood my brother John. A book was in his hand,—the book of books undoubtedly. His eyes were turned toward heaven: he was praying for the safety of all those exposed to the fury of the tempest. My own name was mentioned. I advanced, and knelt down by the side of my own Mary. "God hears prayer," I whispered. "He has preserved me."

She soon lay in my arms, weeping tears of joy. I now learned that no sooner had the signs of the coming tempest appeared than several of the principal natives came to the mission-house, and advised John to remove his family, with his books, and such articles as the water might spoil, to a place of safety, offering to assist him. Of this kindness he gladly availed himself; but the journey was not performed without great danger and difficulty, as the tempest broke before they had proceeded far, and the wind and floods impeded their progress. Mary suffered most, from her anxiety for me. Now we praised God together joyfully for the preservation he had awarded us.

It was daylight before we were able again to set forward to return to my brother's now desolate home. Still we could rejoice, and be thankful that none of those most dear to us had been lost. We hoped that the poor natives might have escaped as well; but we had not descended far through the lower ground before we found one crushed by a fallen tree, and another drowned in a water-hole, into which he had apparently stumbled. The lightning had struck a third whose blackened corpse we found beneath a tall tree stripped of its branches. These were beyond human help.

"Grant that they died in the Lord," observed the missionary, as we noted the spots where they lay, that we might send and bury them.

The numbers wandering houseless and without food most claimed our sympathy. Our worst apprehensions were realised. In the late neat and pretty village not a cottage retained its roof, and by far the greater number lay levelled with the ground, some mere heaps of ruin, while of others not a remnant was to be seen, the whole building having been carried off by the floods or wind. Of the church only part of the walls remained standing; and even the heavier timbers of the roof lay scattered about in every direction. This destruction naturally deeply affected the missionary. "Still I pray that the faith and trust of the people will not be found wanting under this trial," he murmured as we passed on.

The school-houses were much in the same condition; but happily the printing-office, a strong stone building, had escaped any serious damage, as had its valuable contents. Here not only was printing carried on, but the Bibles and other books were stored, as were the machines for binding, a work performed very neatly by the natives. This circumstance again raised my brother's spirits: "While the Book of God remains, we have nought to fear."

It was sad to see the natives collecting from all points to which they had fled to escape the flood and storm, as they first caught sight of their ruined habitations.

"The village must be rebuilt on Christian principles," said my brother with a smile; and going among the people, he called them around him, and advised them to lose no time in collecting food and rebuilding their houses, urging those without young children or unmarried to assist those with families, or the sick and aged, before attending to their own wants. The reply was most satisfactory, and all agreed to follow his advice.

We now repaired to the mission-house, and, clearing out the rubbish from within the angle formed by two walls, were soon able to obtain some shelter and privacy for the ladies and children. It was melancholy work hunting about for the furniture, crockery, and other articles, among the ruins. However, we obtained a sufficient number of things to furnish our make-shift abode, though it was long before we could get the bedding sufficiently dry to be of any use. The flour and many other articles of food, were spoilt, or had disappeared; but we raked up sufficient for the present wants of the household; and as we assembled round a table once more together, we returned our grateful thanks to Heaven that we were still preserved to each other.

Among the ruins a chest of axes, and some saws, and other carpenters' tools was found, and these my brother distributed among the chiefs and other principal people, that they might the better be able to rebuild their abodes. When assembled to receive these valuable gifts, their answer was: "We accept them with thanks, on one condition,—that we may first be allowed to rebuild our missionary's abode." They would take no denial; and forthwith forming themselves into gangs, some set to work to clear away the ruins, while others went off to cut fresh uprights and rafters to replace those that were broken. It was gratifying, as being so purely spontaneous, and showing the high estimation in which they held their missionary for his work's sake. Thus, aided by zealous friends, the work proceeded rapidly.

I meantime hastened back to my vessel, taking with me some natives to aid in launching her. On our way we came unexpectedly on the spot where lay the body of my poor companion who had been crushed to death. We buried the remains not far off on the hill-side, while I offered some prayers and a short exhortation for the benefit of those present. As I went over the ground again I was more than ever surprised that I had been able to accomplish the journey on such a night, and deeply thankful that I had been preserved from the numberless dangers I had encountered.

On reaching the Olive Branch, I found that my mate had been making most judicious preparations for getting her off. He had formed a strong cradle, with rollers under her keel and posts ahead, to which to secure some strong tackles. By hauling on these tackles he hoped to get her off several feet every day. "Slow and steady wins the race, you know, sir," he observed. His hopes of success were not without foundation.

Day after day we toiled on, aided by the indefatigable natives, who gave every evidence that they were working from pure Christian love.

"You have brought us the blessings of the gospel,—ought not we, who highly estimate its blessings, labour to enable you in your ship to carry it to others?" said the chief of the party, when I was one day thanking him for the energetic way in which he and his people were working. Their satisfaction when the Olive Branch at length floated securely in the harbour was nearly equal to mine.

Little time as there was to spare before the meeting would take place, at which my brother wished to be present, he was anxious to see the people housed before he would leave them. They meantime were working most heroically, and I was surprised to see the rapid way in which they put up their houses, and set to work to replant the fields of taro and other roots, which had been destroyed by the flood.

At length we were ready to continue our voyage. It had been intended that our wives should accompany us; but as, in consequence of the delay, John's absence would be shorter than had been expected, it was thought better that they should remain and restore order to the establishment. As we were about to go the chief men of the island sent to beg that we would receive certain gifts which they had stored up to increase the funds devoted to sending missionaries to the other islands of the Pacific yet lying in heathen darkness.

"Had it not been for the storm, they would have been far greater," they observed; "but, though we are feeling a want just now of this world's goods, we are rich in gospel blessings; nor can we make our present condition an excuse for denying those blessed privileges to brethren in other lands, for whom our Lord died as well as for us."

Surely, I thought, these remarks, were they known at home, would put to shame too many who are ready to make any slight decrease of income an excuse for not assisting the cause of the gospel either among the ignorant around them or in other countries. Since I went among these so late heathen savages, I have often had to think with grief and shame of the very low standard of Christian excellence considered requisite by many at home who profess, and probably have a wish, to be religious. Often and often I have wished that I could paint to them in their true and vivid colours the self-denying, laborious lives of the devoted missionaries, and the humble, zealous, faithful, truth-searching behaviour of the converts.

With a fair wind we sailed, praying that God would protect our dear ones, and bring us back to them in safety. We took up several missionaries who were going to the conference, and who had been waiting for the Olive Branch, and also some native teachers, who were destined to act as pioneers in islands where the light of the gospel had not yet penetrated.

Without any adventure especially worthy of notice we reached the head station, where a considerable number of missionaries were collected awaiting our arrival. All had more or less felt the storm at their respective stations, but few with the violence that we had. The discussions which took place at the meeting were most important and interesting, and encouraging to all to persevere in the work; but I must not now report them. Although only in a certain sense a looker-on, I felt greatly refreshed, and my spiritual life renewed by the exhortations delivered and the prayers engaged in. I had the privilege of attending all the meetings. Several had taken place, when the subject of the new stations to be occupied was brought forward. John was named to fill one of them. The inhabitants were looked upon as among the fiercest of the savages of the Pacific; the climate was far from salubrious. But John did not hesitate a moment; on the contrary, his countenance was radiant with satisfaction. It was an important post, and it was believed that a large accession might be made to the kingdom of Christ by the establishment of a mission there. "Wherever my overseer and brethren consider our holy cause can most be advantaged by my presence, there I am ready to go," answered my brother, after the offer had been made him.

The ground had already been broken by native teachers, who had earnestly petitioned for an English missionary. Our passage to my brother's station was somewhat circuitous, as we had to leave several missionaries at their posts, to carry stores and books to old stations, and to leave native teachers at new ones. We had brought with us the missionary who was to succeed John, whom I was directed to carry on to his new station.

We were received on our return to my brother's home with unmistakable signs of pleasure by the natives, who collected to welcome him. I expected, however, that when he came to announce to his wife the proposed change, that it would be a sad damper to her happiness; but she simply observed: "Wherever you are called to go, dear husband, it will be my joy to go also. How much better am I off than the wife of a soldier serving in the army of some earthly monarch. She may not accompany him to the war; if he falls wounded, she may not be near to tend him; if he is slain, no reward is of value to him. Where, too, is her assurance that they will be reunited? Where my husband goes I may go,—if he is ill, I may watch over him,—if spirits and strength fail, I may support him. When death separates us, I know that we shall be reunited; and I know, too, that a glorious crown, the prize of his high calling, will assuredly be his, and that that crown I shall share with him, and full draughts of joy unspeakable for ever and ever."

These words were spoken in so low and gentle a voice by my dear sister-in-law, that a stranger would scarcely have understood the firm faith and high resolve they indicated. The packing up occupied but little time. John's household goods were few, nor did his library fill many boxes.

"But you will sell your cattle and poultry?" I observed.

"I do not consider them mine," he answered. "I look upon them as belonging to the Society, and as necessary to my successor. A missionary should have as few worldly incumbrances as possible to draw him away from his work. He should labour solely for the Lord, and to the Lord leave the care of his wife and little ones. A missionary sent out by a Society should feel secure that they would provide for his worldly wants while he can work, would support him in his old age, and care at his death for his widow and children."

Thus with perfect faith my noble brother went forth in the gospel's glorious cause to conquer souls for Christ's kingdom.

The grief of the people among whom he had ministered since his arrival in the Pacific, when they heard that he was to leave them, was excessive. At first they threatened to put a restraint upon him, and not to let him go.

"Would you then selfishly deprive others of the blessings you enjoy?" he asked. "Would you, who know the gospel, keep back the instrument which brought it to you from presenting it to others? No, no; surely you, dear friends, have not thus learned Christ."

"Go, go; our prayers will ever be lifted up for your safety and success."



Scarcely a native in the settlement who was not present to bid farewell to their beloved missionary, and amid tears and prayers, he embarked on board the Olive Branch. My wife accompanied me, and though the little vessel was much crowded, we had a very happy party.

The weather was fine, and as we had numerous places to touch at, we were not more than twelve days without obtaining fresh provisions. Formerly, when the islands of the Pacific were little known, crews starving or suffering from scurvy must often have passed just out of sight of land, where they might have obtained an ample supply of fresh provisions; but now, very much through the instrumentality of the missionaries of the gospel, scarcely an island remains unknown, and entirely through their instrumentality the greater number may now be visited, not only without fear, but the voyager is certain to receive a Christian welcome on their shores.

An instance came under my notice where the natives did not only return good for good, but good for evil. The master and crew of a large English ship had grossly misbehaved themselves and ill-treated the people of an island. Scarcely had they sailed when a gale sprung up, and their ship was driven on shore and lost. The cargo and other property in the ship was taken possession of by the natives, who considered that they had a right to it. On the captain, however, claiming it through the missionary, the chiefs met and decided that it should be given up, which it was forthwith without a word of complaint. Here the brown Christian set an example to the white man, virtually a heathen.

The new post to which my brother was appointed was on a lovely island, fertile in the extreme, and thickly populated. Indeed it might have been said of it, "that only man was vile." No natives appeared on the shore to welcome him, but after a time the teachers came off in their canoe, and gave us accounts which were far from cheering. Chiefs who had appeared friendly had turned against them, and some had prohibited their people from listening to the Word of God, or attending school or chapel. I suggested to my brother that under the circumstances it might be wiser not to land.

"What, because the enemy begins the fight shall the soldier desert his standard?" he asked, with a look of surprise. "No, David, you would not counsel such conduct."

I could say nothing. The teachers were of opinion that he would be treated with indifference rather than actual hostility, at first, by the great mass of the people, and that his life at all events would be perfectly safe. They mentioned one chief who appeared to be more friendly disposed towards Christianity than the rest, and to him accordingly, we at once went to pay our court. The chief looked like a perfect savage, with his hair long and frizzed out, his eyes rolling wildly, and with scarcely any clothing on his dusky body. Still he received us politely, and not without a certain dignity, and promised if the missionary now remained he would be answerable to me for him, should I again visit the island.

The man was still a heathen, and I felt very unwilling to put any confidence in his promises. It was too evident to me that he wished for a missionary for the sake of axes and saws, and other articles he expected to obtain, rather than for any spiritual benefit he hoped to derive from his presence. I had, however, no alternative, than to land my dear brother with his wife and little ones, and household goods. My only consolation was that I was able with my crew to assist in putting up a house for him, many of the parts of which we had brought with us.

The teachers were good carpenters, and had already, with the aid of some natives whom they had instructed, prepared some stout uprights and beams and planks. Notwithstanding this, the rapidity with which we got up the house, dug up a garden and fenced it round, caused great astonishment among the people. Before we left, my brother had already begun a school-room, to serve also as a chapel till a larger edifice could be erected, while he received inquirers at his own house. My sister-in-law had also two female classes of adults and children, to whom she imparted such religious instruction as they would receive, and some of the arts of civilised life, while round the station resembled a busy hive, all the natives who had professed Christianity being actively employed as sawyers or in some other mechanical work. His aim at this early stage of the mission was to show the natives the advantages the Christians possessed over the heathens, and thus to make them look with favour on Christianity. He never failed while they were thus engaged to impart so much religious instruction as they could receive. Everything appeared now to be going on favourably. When I remarked that I now had reasonable hopes that he would succeed—

"Who can doubt it?" was his answer. "If I do not my successor will. The gospel will most assuredly cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. God has said it."

One of the saddest moments of my life was that when I parted from my devoted brother as he stood on the beach while I returned for the last time to my vessel. Yet I asked myself more than once, Why should I grieve? why should I be anxious? He is engaged in the noblest cause in which the energies of a human being can be employed—gaining subjects for the Redeemer's kingdom.

Still I was his brother, and as such I could not contemplate without fear the dangers to which he was exposed. I was now to return direct to Mr Bent's station, where I proposed refitting the Olive Branch to be ready for any work she might be called on to perform. We found that great progress had been made at the station, both spiritual and material. There were many new converts, and several excellent little houses built, surrounded by neat gardens and fields. It had not been done without cost, and it was too evident to Mary and me that her father's health and strength were failing. She spoke to him, and suggested a change of scene.

"Here I have been planted by the Lord of the vineyard, and here let me, if He so wills it, wither and fall, dear one," he answered.

It was too evident to us that his body was withering, but not so his spirit—that was expanding more and more, ripening for heaven. It seemed to burn with a deep and unextinguishable love for the conversion of all the islanders among whom he had so long laboured—not those of his own group only, but for the inhabitants of all the isles of the Pacific, "ay," he would finish, as if there had been a shortcoming of his love for the souls of his fellow-men, "of the whole heathen world. May they all come to know Thee, O Lord, and accept Thy great salvation." Still his more constant prayers were for his own people. Gradually he sunk—evidently entering into the rest prepared for those who love Christ—his joy increased, his end was peace. Thus has many a missionary died, and who would not change all the world can give to be assured of such a death. Mary felt her father's death severely, but yet as one who mourned with assured hope of a joyous resurrection.

My brother had earnestly petitioned to have another missionary or a native teacher of superior attainments sent him, and while I was debating what course to pursue, I received directions to carry the teacher Vihala and his wife to him, and to visit many other stations on my way. Vihala and Alea were delighted to see us again, but when they heard of Mr Bent's death they shed tears of unfeigned sorrow at the thought that they should see his face no more. They both had advanced greatly in Christian knowledge, and Vihala appeared to me equal to the taking entire charge of a station, however large. He was delighted to hear that he was to join my brother, and made all his preparations with alacrity.

As I was preparing to sail, a ship hove in sight. She was from England direct, and brought letters for me and John.

I opened mine with trembling hands. All were well at home; but they contained news and of importance too. A distant relative had died and left a considerable fortune to my father's second son, but in the case of his death it was to belong to the next, and so on. It could only descend to the children of the brother who had possessed it for five years. Thus John was to be the first possessor. It at once occurred to me, would it prove a snare to him? Would it induce him to abandon his high and holy calling? Would the man of property be unwilling to remain the humble missionary? Still I thought I knew what John would do. I felt that I was wronging him by having any doubts on the subject.


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