Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/144

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could have touched without imminent danger), Christianity of a really practical sort now reigns. Upwards of a quarter of a million persons show their faith in its requirements by utterly changed lives, and at least 60,000 of these are regular communicants. The casual traveller, who, a few years ago, would almost inevitably have been killed had he ventured to land, is now chiefly in danger of asserting that the natives have been trained to be religious overmuch,—their "innocent nature" cramped; and so the chances are, that without intending to do mischief, he throws his influence of the moment into the opposite scale, and is perhaps the source of more evil than he dreams of.

Having not only succeeded in transforming the savage Tongans into earnest Christians, but also into most zealous and capable teachers, the Wesleyan missionaries next made their way to Fiji, where their success was still more wonderful, and a race of most cruel cannibals has become one of the gentlest on earth.[1]

About the same time the Samoan Isles, which were then an almost unknown group, were sought out by the Rev. John Williams of the London Mission, one of the boldest and most successful of the early pioneers. He began his work at Raiatea, in the year 1817, with such success, that when, in 1821, an opportunity presented itself of visiting the Hervey Isles (of which nothing was known, except that such a group existed), several converts from Raiatea volunteered to go there as pioneers. They were accordingly landed on the isle of Aitutaki,[2] the very name of which might have suggested encouragement. There they were favourably received by Tamatoa, the chief, and his people. Nevertheless, as it was well known that these were all cannibals, and constantly at war one with another, it was not without deep anxiety that Mr Williams left the teachers to begin the mission. When, however, in the following year, he returned to the group, in company with Mr Bourne, they were received with the glad tidings that the people of Aitutaki had all, without exception, abjured idolatry, burnt their marais, and begun to worship the Saviour; that they

  1. Vide 'At Home in Fiji,' by C. F. Gordon Cumming.
  2. Aitutaki, "led by God."