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This speech is composed of legends ingeniously applied to new and useful purposes. Mr. Williams conceives that it was used by the natives when “ addressing 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 men. Tautu opiri “spread the garment of peace over” his people ; they did eat the food of peace ; and on his decease they lamented him. Longreign, also, “ spread the garment of peace” over his people, and men grew wrinkled with age. Beautiful 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 Scowling-eyes ; 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 the 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 impulses of right views, with touching simplicity. “Oh, my countrymen !” said he, “ the Samoaman too much fool, plenty wicked; you do not know. Samoa great fool; he kills the man ; he fights the tree. Bread-fruit tree, cocoanut tree, no fight us. Oh! the Samoa too much fool, too much wicked."* Here he refers to the barbarous
* Williams, p. 117.
practice of destroying the trees of their adversaries, that they might reduce them to famine.
The poor natives soon became sensible of the blessings of peace. Nothing can surpass the beauty of their own comments on their altered circumstances. Take, for instance, the close of the following passage :“ Between each district was left a space of uncultivated land, generally about half a mile in width. On these wastes, their battles were most frequently fought; for the inhabitants of each district invariably used every exertion to prevent their opponents from making encroachments upon their kaingas, or cultivated lands, and therefore disputed, with the greatest pertinacity, every inch of the uncultivated waste; nor did they, until entirely driven off, yield their possessions to the hands of the spoiler. But since the introduction of Christianity many of these wastes have been cultivated.
“ Their wars were exceedingly frequent. They had just been engaged in a disastrous conflict when we discovered the island. Pa and Kainuku, with the inhabitants of the eastern district, had been fighting with Makea and Tinomana, the chiefs of the north and west sides of the island, when the latter were beaten, and Makea, with his people, driven away from their possessions; to which, however, peace having been restored, they had returned about a month or two prior to my first arrival. The sad effects of these contests were then and are still apparent; for the laws of savage warfare appear to be like those of civilized countries, to burn, kill, and destroy :' and there is not one old cocoa-nut tree to be seen on the northwest or south sides of the island. A few old breadfruit trees still rear their lonely heads, having survived
the injuries which they received from the hands of the devastating conquerors. Walking one day with the king, among the groves of banana and bread-fruit trees, and observing the mutilations, I asked him jocosely, whilst pointing to one of them, why all the bark was stripped off, and, turning to another, inquired why so deep a gash was cut in it; and wished to know what had become of the cocoa-nut trees, against the stumps of which we were continually striking our feet. To this he replied, “You know very well that we were conquered, and why do you banter me? We were fools enough to fight with the trees as well as with men; some we cut down ourselves, lest our enemies should eat the fruit of them; and others our conquerors destroyed. If it were possible, I would put new bark on all these trees, and fill up the gashes in the trunks of the others; for, wherever I go, they stare me in the face, and remind me of my defeat. However, young trees are growing fast, and I am planting cocoanuts in all directions, so that my possessions will soon be equally valuable with those of our conquerors ; and I am under no apprehensions of having them again destroyed, for the gospel has put an end to our wars !'”*
Worthy of the passage above cited is the following testimony of Makea, relative to the effects of Christianity at Rarotonga. “Now,' he said, "we enjoy happiness, to which our ancestors were strangers ; our ferocious wars have ceased; our houses are the abodes of comfort; we have European property ; books in our own language; our children can read ; and, above all, we know the true God, and the way of salvation by his Son Jesus Christ.' He concluded his important and most effective address by earnestly exhorting Malietoa and his brother chiefs to grasp with a firm hold the word of Jehovah; 'for this alone,' he added,
* Williams, p. 55.
can make you a peaceable and happy people. I should have died a savage had it not been for the gospel.'" *
What a declaration! Behold the triumph of eternal truth! Hear also its voice from the lips of this illustrious convert; “this alone can make you a peaceable and happy people.” How true and how important the allegation! But let us hear the testimony of Tinomana, to the people of Mangaia. “ One gave an account of the introduction of Christianity into their island, and another pointed out the blessings they were now enjoying. Tinomana stated, that he was formerly a conquered chief, and, with his oppressed people, lived in the mountains, but that he now possessed a large settlement of beautiful white houses by the sea-side, with a spacious chapel in the centre, and a missionary of Jesus Christ to teach him. “My people,' said he,
can now go to the sea to catch fish, or to the mountains to procure food, without the slightest fear; and we are enjoying a state of peace and happiness, of which, formerly, we never heard.'”+
To these I will add another illustration from the principal chief of Mauké; and, in my view, cold must be the heart which that illustration shall fail to move. A spacious place of worship having been erected on that lovely island, Mr. Williams, an hour or two before service commenced, went to the chapel, accompanied by the principal chief, and after commending his diligence, engaged him in the following dialogue. “How came you to build so large a place ? there are not people enough in your island to fill it. Instead of answering me he hung down his head, and appeared much affected. I asked him why he wept; observing that it was with us rather a day of joy than sorrow, for we were about to dedicate this house to God. “Oh,' he replied, “I weep in consequence of what you say, that there are not people enough in the island to fill this one house ; if you had but come about three years before you first visited us, this house and another like it, would not have contained the inhabitants.' On inquiring what had become of the people, he informed me, that about three years prior to my first arrival, a disease had raged among them, which, though not very fatal, was nearly universal. This was accompanied by a famine, the result of a severe storm, which swept over and devastated the island; and, while enduring these complicated sufferings, the warriors of Atiu came upon them in a fleet of eighty canoes, killed the people indiscriminately, set fire to the houses which contained the sick, and, having seized those who attempted to escape, tossed them upon fires kindled for the purpose. * By these means,' said the chief, 'we have been reduced to the remnant you now behold; and had you not come when you did, our sanguinary destroyers would have repeated their visit, killed us all, and taken the island to themselves.' The person who conducted this murderous expedition was Roma-tane, whose conversion to Christianity, by my discourse upon the folly of idolatry, I have already described. And it is a deeply
* Williams, p. 112.
+ Ibid., p. 66.