Our course this morning was very pretty, steaming for many miles through narrow and intricate passages between the richly wooded headlands of Vavau, the great island, and many outlying islets. Finally, we anchored in what seemed like a quiet land-locked lake, at the village of Neiafu.
The bishop went ashore at once, and was reverently welcomed by two priests, one of whom, Père Bréton, has been here for about thirty years, living a life so ascetic as to amaze even his brethren, so completely does mind appear to have triumphed over matter. We sinners all agree that having each been intrusted with the care of an excellent animal, we are only doing our duty by feeding and otherwise caring for it to the best of our ability. So the ascetic example is one which we reverence, but have no intention of following, cold water and yam, day after day, being truly uninviting. But the old man has not forgotten how to be genial and kind to others, and is a general favourite.
The Roman Catholic flock here is small, as is also the church, which, however, is very neat. The Wesleyan Mission flourishes here, as it does throughout these Friendly Isles. In the three groups—namely, Tonga, Happai, and Vavau, it has 125 chapels, with an average attendance of 19,000 persons, of whom 8000 are church members. Four white missionaries superintend the work of 13 native ministers, upwards of 100 schoolmasters, and above 150 local preachers. At the Tubou Theological College—so named in honour of King George Tubou—there are about 100 students preparing for work as teachers or pastors.
I landed with M. Pinart, and a half-caste Samoan woman, who could talk some English, acted as our interpreter with the widow of the late "governor," a large comely woman, who invited us to her cool Tongan house, where friendly, pleasant-looking girls peeled delicious oranges faster than we could eat them. This whole village and district is one orange-grove; every house is embowered in large orange-trees—the earth is strewn with their fruit, the air fragrant. What an enchanting change after Tonga, where there are no orange-trees, and where a sense of stiffness and over-regulation seemed to pervade life!