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it; but that they traded on the credulity of those who sent them forth and supported them; and to carry out the 'pious fraud' to perfection, in the reports which they transmitted to their constituents, they have suppressed the truth; and, therefore, it was for him and others to set the world right upon the matter, and to put a stop to the imposture. If his language means anything, it means this. We give his own words. After having stated that the earlier labourers in the work were, as a class, ignorant, and, in many cases, deplorably bigoted,' and assuring us that the missionaries now on the island, " in zeal and disinterestedness," are, perhaps, inferior to their predecesssors, they have, nevertheless, in their own way at least, laboured hard to make a Christian people of their charge.'
'Let us now glance,' he says, 'at the most obvious changes wrought in their condition. The entire system of idolatry has been done away; together with the several barbarous practices engrafted thereon. But this result is not so much to be ascribed to the missionaries, as to the civilizing effects of a long and constant intercourse with whites of all nations; to whom for many years Tahiti has been one of the principal places of resort in the South Seas. The next most striking change in the Tahitians is this. From the permanent residence among them of influential and respectable foreigners, as well as from the frequent visits of ships of war, recognising the nationality of the island, its inhabitants are no longer deemed fit subjects for the atrocities practised upon mere savages; and hence, secure from retaliation, vessels of all kinds now enter their harbours with perfect safety.'
But let us consider what results are directly ascribable to the missionaries alone.
• In all cases they have striven hard to mitigate the evils resulting from the commerce with the whites in general. Such attempts, however, have been rather injudicious, and often ineffectual; in truth, a barrier almost insurmountable is presented in the dispositions of the people themselves. Still in this respect, the murality of the islanders is, upon the whole, improved by the presence of the missionaries.
• But the greatest achievement of the latter, and one which in itself is the most hopeful and gratifying, is, that they have translated the entire Bible into the language of the island, and I have myself known many who were able to read it with facility. They have also established churches and schools for both children and adults. . . . It were unnecessary here to enter diffusely into matters connected with the internal government of the Tahitian churches and schools. Nor upon this head is my information copious enough to warrant me in presenting details. But we do not need them. We are merely considering general results, as made apparent in the moral and religious condition of the island at large.
• Upon a subject like this, however, it would be altogether too assuming for a single individual to decide; and so, in place of my own random observations, which may be found elsewhere, I will here present those of several known authors, made under various circumstances, at different periods, and down to a comparative late date. A few very brief extracts will enable the reader to mark for himself what progressive improvement, if any, has taken place.
• After alluding to the manifold evils entailed upon the natives by foreigners, and their singularly inert condition, and after somewhat too severely denouncing the undeniable errors of the mission, Kotzebue, the Russian navigator, says, “ A religion like this, which forbids every innocent pleasure, and cramps or annihilates every mental power, is a libel on the Divine Founder of Christianity. It is true, that the religion of the missionaries has, with a great deal of evil, effected some good. It has restrained the vices of theft and incontinence; but it has given birth to ignorance, hypocrisy, and a hatred of all other modes of faith which was once foreign to the open and benevolent character of the Tahitians." Captain Beechy says, “ that while at Tahiti he saw scenes which must have convinced the greatest sceptic of the thoroughly immoral condition of the people, and which would force him to conclude, as Turnbull did many years before, that their intercourse with the Europeans had tended to debase rather than exalt their condition.”
* About the year 1834, Daniel Wheeler, an honest-hearted Quaker, prompted by motives of the purest philanthropy, visited, in a vessel of his own, most of the missionary settlements of the South Seas. He remained some time at Tahiti, receiving the hospitality of the missionaries there, and, from time to time, exhorting the natives. After bewailing their social condition, he frankly says of their religious state, “certainly, appearances are unpromising ; and, however unwilling to adopt such a conclusion, there is reason to apprehend that Christian principle is a great rarity.”
• Such then, says Mr. Melville, “is the testimony of good and unbiassed men who have been on the spot; but how comes it to differ so widely from impressions of others at home? Simply thus : instead of estimating the result of missionary labours by the number of heathens, who have been actually made to understand and practise (in some measure at least), the precepts of Christianity, this result has been unwarrantably inferred from the number of those, who, without any understanding of these things, have, in any way, been induced to abandon idolatry, and to conform to certain outward observances. By authority of some kind or other, exerted upon the natives through their chiefs, and prompted by the hope of some worldly benefit to the latter, and not by appeals to the reason, have conversions in Polynesia been in most cases brought about.'--Pp. 139–142.
This is plain speaking. Here there is nothing ambiguous, or puzzling, but an outspoken, clearly defined and unsparing attack. And we do not hesitate to confess, that were the Tahitian missions and missionaries what this author states them to be, we should join him in holding them up to the scorn of the world. But we know them to be the very reverse. Voyagers and others of the most spotless integrity, and in possession of the amplest and most accurate information, have attributed the abolition of idolatry,
with its attendant train of horrors, in the South Seas, to the instruction communicated to the natives by the Protestant missionaries. To the same self-denying and indefatigable labourers they ascribe the present safety of ports and islands in the Pacific, which, at one time, could not be approached by European vessels, without the most imminent peril. Even Captain Beechy, who, by the way, is no friend to missions, undesignedly proves this by the accounts which he gives of his intercourse with the inhabitants of Easter and Gambier islands. But these facts, known and attested by every mariner of reputation that ever sailed the Pacific Ocean, are flatly contradicted by Mr. Melville. He says—and we have only his word for it, and what that is worth, will be seen hereafter—that idolatry was abolished by the civilizing effects of a long and constant intercourse with whites of all nations; and that to the same cause we may refer the security of the ships that enter the harbours of Polynesia. The merit of a new discovery certainly belongs to Mr. Melville. It has one drawback, however-he does not attempt to substantiate his statements by quoting the testimony of any individual who has ever visited the islands,-no, not even by that of his Russian friend, that wholesale dealer in the marvellous-Kotzebue !
But for what does Mr. Melville give the missionaries credit ? Why, he admits-simply because he could not possibly deny it that those 'ignorant and deplorably bigoted' men, who found the Polynesians savage and debased, and without any written form of thought, actually translated the Bible into the language of the islanders ; and what is more, did not, after the example of a certain ecclesiastical chief, to whom, we believe, Mr. Melville looks
with the most devout reverence, prohibit its use, but placed it in the hands of those wretched creatures, and taught them, as our author is obliged to confess, to read it with facility.' We imagine it will strike most persons that the history of mankind has not another instance in which ignorant and deplorably bigoted' men ever undertook and successfully completed such a task! And we may safely affirm that if the missionaries accomplished nothing more, they deserve the gratitude and admiration of the human race. They created a written language, and this not by the aid of the eye from observation and comparison,' but by descending to the loathsome level of savage life, and there, by the toil of the ear and of the memory, they at length' gave a representative sign to each of the sounds with which they had become familiar; compiled a vocabulary, a spelling-book, a grammar, a catechism; and then translated the word of God ! This they gave to the people, having taught them to read, and it led them not only to comprehend the folly and wickedness of their idolatrous practices, but when won from them by the record
of the love of Him who died the just for the unjust, it prepared these children of the sea to resist the fascinations and to expose the falsehood of Popery, when it was introduced among them, accompanied by the tender mercies of the notorious Du Petit Thouars, and of the commander of the Artemise-Commodore La Place !
In the eyes of the agents of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and of their friends, this was a crime of the deepest dye. Foiled and disappointed by the rejection of Mariolatry, and the worship of wafers and of images, and of dead men, by the Biblereading Tahitians, they vent their spleen by pouring into the public ear the foulest accusations against the bigoted and ignorant’ Britons, who taught the Tahitians and the natives of other islands to read 'in their own tongue the wonderful works of God.'
If, however, Mr. Melville acknowledges the missionaries to have done this, and, in addition, to have established churches and schools, he takes care to balance the admission by declaring that they have injudiciously intermeddled in the commercial affairs of the natives; and he quotes Kotzebue to prove that they have given them 'a religion that forbids every innocent pleasure, cramps and annihilates every mental power, and is a libel on the Divine Founder of Christianity—a religion that has given birth to ignorance, hypocrisy, and hatred, to all other modes of faith. Mr. Melville, by quoting this precious morceau, endorses it; and it must be remembered that this is said of the religion of the Bible, the religion contained in the doctrinal articles of the Church of England, and substantially taught in the Reformed Churches of Europe! That Kotzebue, a Russian, and a disciple of that miserable conglomeration of absurditiesthe Greek Church, should speak thus, we can easily understand. We should as soon expect him, or any other instrument of despotism, to eulogize constitutional liberty, the right of public speaking, or the freedom of the press, as that he should understand, or value, liberty of conscience, resistance to Jesuitism and priestcraft, or the simplicity and purity of scriptural Christianity. What we are surprised at is, the unblushing and unfaltering audacity manifested in quoting this passage as honest description of the result of missionary labours in Tahiti. And its adoption by Mr. Melville not only unmasks his true character, but prepares us for his affirmation, that the conversion of the members of the native churches must be ascribed, ‘not to appeals to the reason, but to authority, of some kind or other, exerted through the chiefs, and prompted by the hope of some worldly benefit
But this is not all. What Mr. Melville does, he does tho
roughly. He gives not an outline, but a carefully drawn picture. Not content with general statements such as we have already quoted, he descends to particulars, and repeats the assertions of the organs of Catholicism respecting the share which the English missionaries took in the expulsion of the Jesuits, Laval and Caret, from Tahiti. He says,
“Now, that the resident English missionaries authorized the banishment of these priests, is a fact undenied by themselves. I was also informed that, by their inflammatory harangues, they instigated the riots which preceded the sailing of the schooner.'-P. 91.
Melancholy as such an example of intolerance must appear on the part of Protestant missionaries, it is not the only one, and by no means the most flagrant one, which might be presented.'—P. 92.
Melancholy indeed, say we, if it were true; happily, as the sequel will show, we are wholly indebted for these examples of . Protestant intolerance to the fertile brain of the author of Omoo.' But he coolly affirms that the missionaries never denied the charge' which he alleges against them. Did they not? We wonder where Mr. Melville got his information. Did he ever read the documents laid before the public by the Directors of the London Missionary Society in 1843 ? Did he know anything of the Memorial addressed to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs by a public meeting of the supporters and friends of Protestant missions' assembled in Exeter Hall, on Wednesday, the 12th of April of the same year? Was he aware of the statements made in the House of Commons on this subject, on the evening of the 28th of March, 1843, when the late Sir Robert Peel declared that “the missionaries in Tahiti had so conducted themselves as to merit the respect and care of the British Government ?' Did Mr. Melville acquaint himself with the contradictions'- contradictions fortified by an appeal to facts, to the existing laws of the island, and to eye-witnesses, sent forth to the world by the men whom he asperses ; and which were published at the time in the Protestant journals of France, Switzerland, Germany, and Great Britain ? If he, without inquiry, has again tried to fasten this charge upon the missionaries by saying they never contradicted it,' where is his honesty? But if acquainted with the published replies of the missionaries and of the Directors of the London Missionary Society, what must we say of his unscrupulous dishonesty ?
For the advantage of this gentleman, who, in his preface, advertises his careful observance of truth, we beg to inform him that his friends were not banished by the authority of the missionaries, neither did they excite the people against them by inflammatory speeches.' The simple facts are these.