Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/333

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Pomare, those who had been driven away from Tahiti returned, and made a fresh effort to establish the mission on Eimeo.

They were cordially welcomed by the king, and by a small number of chiefs, who, by Pomare's words and example, had been brought to look with contempt on their idols, and to incline towards the new faith; and though greatly distracted by intertribal wars, this little company resolved to build a substantial house which should be set apart for the worship of the true God. Thus in the summer of 1813 was the first Christian church in the group erected in Papetoai, the very place whence I now write.

Thirty persons came forward to make public profession of their faith, desiring to have their names enrolled as having rejected idol-worship. Among those who did so was Patii, the high priest of the district, who came to Mr Nott, and announced his intention of publicly burning all the idols in his care. It was a promise heard with thankfulness not unmingled with dread, for there was every probability that such an act would lead to wild excitement among the heathen, and might possibly result in a massacre of the Christians. However, Patii had made up his mind, and at the appointed hour he and his friends collected a heap of fuel on the seashore, near the huge marae where he had so often offered human sacrifices to these dumb idols, which he now brought forth, and tearing off the sacred cloth in which they had hitherto been draped, he exhibited them in their hideous nakedness, to the vast multitudes who had hitherto assembled at his bidding to do them homage, and who had now come to witness this act of impious sacrilege.

Some of these ugly little gods were rudely carved human figures, and some had tiny figures carved in relief all over one large image; others were shapeless logs of wood, covered with finely braided cocoa-nut fibre and scarlet feathers; while some were angular columns of basalt, quite rough, just as they had been found. One by one were these once dreaded idols cast into the flames by their former priest, who called on the people to behold their helplessness, and bewailed his own folly in having hitherto worshipped such monstrous objects.