Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/125

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human race back to its slimy origin, long before Dr Darwin electrified the civilised world with his discoveries; but they have now discarded that ignoble ancestry in favour of the Divine theory.

A Samoan teacher often illustrates his meaning by some ingenious allusion to the old legends and mythology of the isles. In his expositions of the Old Testament he is greatly assisted by the number of Samoan customs, strangely analogous to those of Syria and Palestine. Dr Turner has collected a multitude of such identities—and also of the striking metaphors and hyperboles dear to the Samoans. Thus, "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God," had strange significance to those who believed that in Pulotu, the Samoan Paradise, the temple of their great god was supported by human pillars, who in this world had been great chiefs, whose highest aim had been the attainment of this honoured office. "They took branches of palm—leaves and went forth to meet Him, crying Hosanna," suggests the green leaves and branches often carried by the followers of a chief, and their songs in his praise.

In rejoicing, David "dancing and leaping before the ark," exactly describes the leaping and dancing and strange capers which even a high-caste chief will perform as he goes before a person or thing whom he wishes to honour.

Riddles, such as those propounded by Samson, are among the commonest amusements of Samoa, and are combined with forfeits.

With reference to King David's prayer, when "he went in and sat before the Lord," it is remarked that in Samoa, as in all the Polynesian groups, it is a mark of disrespect to stand in the presence of a superior. To sit on the ground with the head bent down is the correct attitude of reverence and devotion.

In the account of David's covenant with Jonathan, the latter "stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David,"—an action which is the commonest expression of friendship in the South Seas.

"He kissed him, and smelled the smell of his raiment," is an excellent description of the South Sea custom of greeting all