Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/353

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ATTRACTIVE DISPOSITION OF TAHITIANS.

like those of Samoa, do not seem to have been tempted by the hideous fare. They contented themselves with heaping insult on the bodies of the slain, which were often brutally mutilated.

Nothing amazes me more than to hear travellers and others occasionally talk with positive regret of the work of missionaries of all denominations, throughout these various groups of isles. To hear them speak, you would suppose that the natives, in their untutored state, were the most innocent, loving, and attractive of mortals. Surely such men can know nothing of the past, and of the dangers incurred by the early teachers, to whose earnest labours in the beginning of the present century those ungrateful talkers owe their own present safety. But even in those days the worst dangers and the most virulent opposition encountered by the missionaries were almost invariably stirred up by iniquitous white men—generally sailors and shipmasters.[1]

Certainly the Tahitians, as we now see them, are as gentle and affectionate as it is possible for a people to be. Most kind and hospitable, always cheerful and good-natured, easily pleased and amused, finding matter for mirth in every trifle; so that angry words or recriminations are rarely heard, but rather a sound of rippling laughter, which seems here to pervade the very air. A messenger is just going across to Tahiti to take letters, and to fetch any that may have arrived by the schooner from San Francisco. I shall send this as a postscript to my last, which will probably reach you at the same time.—So good-bye.

Your Loving Sister.

  1. If any are disposed to doubt this statement, they have only to refer to the circumstantial and thoroughly authenticated accounts published by the various missionary societies ; those, for instance, of the American Board, which again and again, in the early days of the mission to the Sandwich Isles, have occasion to refer to the outrages committed by British and American seamen, who came in armed bands to attack the mission stations, in their rage at the influence acquired by the missionaries, and the consequent change in the morals of the people. Again and again life and property were threatened, and the mission premises were only saved from destruction by the timely arrival of determined chiefs and their retainers.