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Even England, which comprehends more true piety than all the continental nations united, is yet full of the elements of war. The heroes of England are still the gods of millions of her people ; and the fountain of her proudest honours is a fountain of blood !
In no part of our globe was the spirit of war more powerful and rampant than in the islands of the Southern Pacific. The highest ainbition of multitudes of mothers was, that their sons might be great warriors. The inhabitants of those isles, unburdened with the cares of agriculture, trade, and commerce, and blessed with the abundance of perpetual fertility, were wholly at leisure for the employments of war.
Mutual de struction was the great business of their existence. This spirit was characteristic of every group.
The people of Manono, for example, resorted to a method of recording their conflicts through a period of limited duration, which gives us some idea of their frequency. They fastened a basket to the ridge pole of the sacred house, and deposited therein a stone of a peculiar form for each successive fight. The basket was lowered in the presence of Mr. Williams, who counted out one hundred and ninety-seven stones! Polynesian war, in its mildest form, was a dreadful proceeding. Even the Samoans, among whom cannibalism is held in detestation and horror, carry on war with the utmost cruelty. The contest, which raged during Mr. Williams's first visit, continued with unabated fury for several months, and at its close, many of the vanquished were thrown indiscriminately into large fires ! It is fully ascertained that whole islands have frequently been all but depopulated. Of such desolation, some idea may be formed from the fact that Mr. Williams sailed along the beautiful coast of Ana, the seat of war, nearly a year after its termination, without observing either a house or a human being for a distance of ten miles ! islands wars were followed on the part of the victors
by a banquet on the bodies of the slain !* Neither age nor
was spared in those dreadful frays. “ Female prisoners were very frequently put to death ; and the reason assigned for this cruel practice was, that they might, perchance, give birth, at some future period, to warriors. The poor little children had spears passed through their ears, and were carried in triumph to the marae. Of late years, as soon as an antagonist was overcome in battle, the victor beat in his skull ; and taking out a portion of his brains, he placed it upon bread-fruit leaves, and carried it imme. diately to the gods, as an earnest of the victim he was about to bring.”+
The tree of life was occasionally planted in the very midst of conflict. For example, when Mr. Williams paid his memorable visit to Savaii, it was under the following circumstances, as recited by himself :-“ As we were expecting Malietoa from Upolu, we could not accompany the teachers, but promised to follow them either in the evening, or on the following morning. While we were engaged in lading the canoes, our attention was arrested by observing the mountains on the opposite shore enveloped in flames and smoke ; and, when we inquired the cause of it, were informed that a battle had been fought that very morning, and that the flames which we saw were consuming the houses, the plantations, and the bodies of the women, children, and infirm people who had fallen into the hands of their sanguinary conquerors. Thus, while we were landing the messengers of the Gospel of peace on the one shore, the flames of a devastating war were blazing on the opposite ; and under these striking circumstances was this interesting mission commenced.” I
The question to be now settled is, what has been the effect of the gospel in Polynesia, in relation to
* Williams, p. 29.
# Ibid. p. 87.
+ Ibid. p. 29.
Has it been to foment strife, or to extinguish it ? Let history put in her answer. The volume of Williams, exclusive of all other testimony, satisfaetorily settles the point. In that wonderful production there is one article which is especially entitled to precedence among our proofs and illustrations. That article is the speech of Tamatoa, a person of the first distinction ; it was delivered at a Missionary Meeting, and is as follows :
“ An under chief of Tautu spoke concerning his king, Tautu opiri.* The legend of Natoofat says, concerning Tautu opiri, that in his reign the roots of the bread-fruit tree were adzed smoothly from off the pathway ; it was even polished with shark's skin. I The great seat Reuea was sat upon,ġ the sweet-toned bamboo flute, Taneua,|| was played, and men grew wrinkled with age, using a staff to support them as they walked. This king died lamented by his people, having spread the garment of peace over them ; for the heads of men were not cut off with bamboo knives during his reign, but the heads of pigs, and the food of peace was eaten. The foreheads of the beautiful women were made red with the mati berry, and their bright black hair was anointed with sweet scented oil. I Behold, the peaceful reign of this king was long; and let not the still more blessed reign of Jesus, the best of all kings, be short among us.
“ Tautu opiri begat a son, Te huu roa, or Long-reign,
* The name of the chief.
+ The name of his district. I The pathways in the island, being exceedingly narrow, are rendered rugged by the roots of the large trees which shoot across them; hence the allusion in the text became a common figure to express a state of unimpeded peace, when everything in their political and social intercourse went smoothly on.
§ A great seat hewn out of one tree, on which the principal chiefs sat at all their great festivals. || Taneua, a celebrated flute which they blew with their noses.
Expressions intimating that their amusements were enjoyed without interruption.
and then long was the peace enjoyed between the great Tahaa and Raiatea. * The roots of the breadfruit tree were adzed, and the pathway polished with shark's skin, the great seat Reuea was sat upon, the flute Taneua was played, men grew wrinkled with age, and this king died lamented by his people, having spread the garment of peace, &c. &c. The peaceful reign of Te hau roa was long, and shall that of Jesus, the true Long-reign, be short ?
Long-reign begat a son, and called him Te Petipeti, or the Beautiful, and then delightful was the peace enjoyed between great Tahaa and Raiatea. The roots of the trees were adzed off smooth, &c., &c. Behold the peaceful reign of Beautiful was long, and shall that of Jesus, the true Beautiful, be short ainong us? No, never let it be shortened. It exceeds all others in beauty
“ Te Petipeti begat a son whom he called Lightheart, and then light and happy were the hearts of the people in the peace between great Tahaa and Raiatea. The roots of the trees were adzed smoothly off, &c. &c. And this king died lamented by his people, having spread the garment of peace over them. And shall that of Jesus, whose gospel gives true lightness of heart, be short among us ? No, let it never be shortened.
“ At length twin-brothers were born, Tautu and Taumata, Snappish-lips and Scowling-eyes; and then jealousy began, and desperate war was waged. The polished pathway was made rugged, the seat Reuea was never sat upon, the conch shell of war was blown instead of the flute Taneua ; men were slain, instead of growing wrinkled with age ; the women were not beautified with the mati berry, and the heads of men were cut off instead of those of the pigs. Thus was the peaceful
* Adjacent islands encircled in one reef.
reign of Tautu destroyed ; thus was the protracted happiness of Long-reign shortened, and the lovely reign of Beautiful deformed. Thus were the light hearts of the people made sad; for misery and bloodshed reigned, and the invisible world was peopled with men froin our earth. Let us all grasp firmly the good we now enjoy, lest the peaceful reign of Jesus should end, and the days of darkness and bloodshed return.”*
This speech is composed of legends ingeniously applied to new and useful purposes.
Mr. Williams conceives that it was used by the natives when “ address. ing their kings at their inauguration, and also, by a little variation of phraseology, at the deposing of a chief whose reign had been one of tyranny and bloodshed.” The point to which I would specially call your attention is the peculiar and extraordinary prominence which is given in it to the subject of peace, and the consequent longevity of inen. Tautu opiri “ spread the garment of peace over” his people ; they did eat the food of peace; and on his decease they lamented him. Long-reign also “ spread the garment of peace” over his people, and men grew wrinkled with age. Beau. tiful followed, and his reign too was peaceful; to him succeeded Light-heart, whose rule was of the same description. At length, in an evil hour, were born the ill-favoured twin-brothers, Snappish-lips, and Scowlingeyes; wars then broke out; misery and bloodshed reigned.” It is not easy to conceive how the lesson of peace could be more strikingly taught than in this speech of Tamatoa. It is equally full of wisdom, truth, and beauty.
It is delightful to trace the operations of Divine truth in the human soul, as delineated in the “ Enterprises” of Mr. Williams. The youthful Samoan chief expresses the feelings of a heart under the first im
* Williams, p. 61.