Journal of John Palmer, Melanesian Mission, on Mota Island, 1866
Church of Melanesia Archives, Honiara, Solomon Islands, Item 23.
 Journal 1866.
May 28th Monday 3 pm, weighed anchor with a light southerly breeze and stood slowly out of the harbour. The Primate & some others came to see us off & wish us "Goodbye". We have on board the Bishop, Messrs J Atkin, Brooke & Raymond, self and upwards of forty scholars - 25 have been left in NZ. for the winter under the care of Mr Pritt. We had our usual rough & long passage to Norfolk Island not making that place till the 9th of June. Landed with a party of boys, giving them the pleasure of a run ashore again. In the afternoon we had a walk over the land which it is proposed we should occupy if it is finally determined that we should have our central school here. It is a fine piece of land & in that respect quite suitable for the purpose.
Sunday, the usual pleasant services, the people all joining heartily in them, all responding & singing.
Monday 11th St Barnabas Day. An early morng service & Holy Communion. Afterwards walked out to our land & paced a site for the house, fencing &c so that the timber may be brought there by the time we return. It is proposed that, all being well, on our return I should stay here with some 20 boys & commence a school, put up the house & get some ground under cultivation, & so make preparations for a larger school next year if we find the place suitable. After wishing our kind friends here goodbye we got on board again about dusk & started with a nice fair wind. At daybreak on the 14th we were off Nengone & called there seeing Mr. Creagh the missionary there. The French are behaving in a more liberal way to them than formerly, so that they are not much interfered with. After dinner went on board again & sailed for Vate.
16th In sight of Vate. We had a boy on board who has been with us some short time & now wishes to return. He left the island some years ago when quite a little fellow with a number of others [in a trader crossed out]. They were taken to Eromanga to work at the sandalwood. They found it hard work, they were not well treated & some of their party were killed by the Eromanga people, so about 20 of them seized a large boat & putting whatever provision they could get in her they sailed in the direction of Vate. They were carried by this island & brought up at Meralav one of the Banks's islands. This lad found his way to Mota & so he came with us. He had almost entirely forgotten his own language & even the place he came from - not recognizing the Bay near his own village. On the shore he saw some people who he remembered & so I have no doubt was soon at home again. We wished to get on to Mai & anchor before night if possible & so had no time to delay here. We were not quite successful, reached the island by sundown but not in time to reach the anchorage so we stood on & off all night. A strong easterly wind.
17th Sunday. After breakfast worked into the anchorage. Squally & dirty looking weather. Numbers of people on shore shouting & waving us to come to them. It is fortunately too rough for them to venture off in their miserable canoes so we have a quiet morning for our service which is indeed pleasant. After dinner we landed with the four boys we had brought back. They all belonged to another part of the island and to a different tribe. The two boys from the place where we landed are in NZ. One is the young chief of the place. Many were the enquiries for him. They behaved very well indeed & seemed quite satisfied with the Bishop's explanation why Peter had not returned. There people are Polynesians, their language greatly resembles Maori and I could tell generally what they were talking about but not following them at all. It would be an easy language to learn to any one knowing Maori. This is a beautiful Island, very fertile & much cultivated. We walked across to the villages - they are on the weather side of the island. The road led between two hills on a level plain. The whole way, two thirds of which was one large cultivating reaching half way up the slope of the hill. It was the most beautiful yam ground I have ever seen - part of the way the path was lined on each side with Bananas & sugar cane planted alternately, the yam vine climbing up the stems of these & falling down again in beautiful festoons & masses of bright green leaves, the very picture of fertility. The people are dreadfully noisy & affectionate and as they are smothered with turmeric our clothes of necessity suffer. We came back almost as yellow as themselves. They insisted on our eating & soon made us some lut, mashed taro & almonds mixed, to this they added some coconuts, and the two or three boys we brought with us enjoyed this their first taste of real native food. This place is quite ready for a missionary if one could be spared to be placed here. The people are quite friendly, and a healthy spot could be found on the weather side of the island.
Monday 18th. Up by daybreak had a cup of coffee & started in the boat for Tasake, the place where our four boys belonged to. We went for yams & pigs & had to be early on account of the tide. The people were very noisy but well behaved - bought a good boatload & yet had to leave a good many unbought. Came back & had a hurried breakfast & then to the beach where we landed yesterday & bought another boatload. The noise was something tremendous. The shouting, laughing, singing, screeching. I was nearly deafened by the hubbub, & glad when we had our boat full & were off again to the vessel. After dinner we started for a place called Tetine a part of the island the Bishop had not seen. We brought off the young chief of the place in the morning, & so had him to direct us to the place. We tried to reach it by boat but being low water could not get inside the reef so we landed & the Bishop & I walked & waded along the shore for a long distance then turned inland & came to the villages. These were larger & contained a considerable population, the largest tribe I should think, on the island. Gave a few presents of fish hooks & beads. There was an unfortunate girl here who we had seen before at Eromanga with Mrs. Henry. She properly belongs to Lameun a small island to the north of this. Mrs. Henry gave us her history. Some captain of a trader had got into a row with the natives of at Lameun and forcibly carried off this girl - he afterwards treated her very badly on Eromanga & Mrs. Henry interfered & took her from him & when we saw her there she seemed a [nice crossed out] quiet girl, & was nursing the children. Here at Tetini we saw her again. She had been taken from Eromanga by another captain & left at this place - he told the people to take care of her & he would be back again by & bye. The girl wished very much that the Bishop should take her home but to this the people objected fearing that when this said captain returned they would get into a scrape about it. We were very sorry to have to leave her but there seemed no other [1/2] course to pursue. The next day still remained at anchor, it was nasty dirty weather & we thought it much better to be under the lee of this island than knocking about in the open sea.
20th. After breakfast weighed anchor & started for Lepers' I. Two boys from this place had to be returned. What a pleasant day's sail with a nice fair breeze, the large islands we passed forming a good lee. Lepers & Ambrym the two volcanoes seemed to be comparatively at rest. The tops of them were hid in the clouds so thick we could not see what was actually going on. As the sun set the light fell beautifully on Ambrym. The upper half of the mass of hills seems to be nothing but a mass of rock full of holes, lines, & crevices - a more wild bleak desolate looking place I never saw. The lower part of the island is moderately fertile.
21st. At daybreak off Whitsuntide. The Bishop went in the boat just to pay the people a short visit & then we went across to Lepers island only a few miles distant. This is a most wonderfully fertile place, & largely cultivated. The whole side of the island up to the very tops of the hills was a mass of cultivations & cocoa nut trees. I never saw such groves of these latter any where. No wonder the people don't care about water. The year before last we had three boys from this place on board. They were to be returned on the Bishop's homeward voyage. One day one of these boys came to the Bishop & said Bishop I am thirsty give me a vusa (a young cocoanut which contains little else than water). The Bishop told him to drink some water, that there were no vusas to be had out at sea. The poor fellow was greatly troubled at this & said he did not know how to drink water, & wished to know whether it was good, that they only drank the cocoa nut at [Maiwo crossed out] Opa.
The island is certainly a beautiful sight. The lee side of the island is singularly regular in form. It rises to a considerable height but in a regular curve & rounded off towards the sea. It looks somewhat like, in shape, a huge whale & gives one a greater idea of size than anything I have ever seen. The people were very friendly; they came off to us very freely, & without their arms. We bought pigs tusks here; they are good articles for trade & presents in the Banks' Islands where they are worn on the wrists; some of them form a complete circle. I could generally buy a pig at Mota with one of these when otherwise I could not get one for either love or money. After dinner we landed our two boys. There was fighting on shore. As soon as the boat got near the beach it was surrounded with people. The Bishop landed & was literally loaded with presents. His arms were covered with their ornaments, & the boat loaded with yams, cocoanuts, mats, pigs, &c. &c. He wished to make some return for all this, & was stepping back to the boat to get some presents when one of the lads we landed rushed up to him & told him to be off immediately, for they were fighting close by, & he was afraid of his being hurt, & so the Bishop came off without giving the presents he wished. This is the first time any boys have been to N.Z. from this place. The people are light coloured & remarkably good looking. The men have a curious fashion of tying a cord very tight round the waist. This they do when children, & they do not seem to enlarge the cord, so that, as our Mota boys say, they look like wasps. You see tight lacing is not peculiar to Europeans, indeed a good many [of crossed out] fashions which we imagine belong to civilization are found to hold in these very uncivilized regions. In the evening we stood over to Aurora where we wished to water.
22nd. At daybreak, off the Island, & in sight of a beautiful waterfall, a refreshing sight in these hot regions. It was not high water till mid-day so that we had to wait some time before we could water. The Bishop & I meanwhile landed with one of our boys who knew the language of the place. We found only a few people there & they dreadfully frightened to be in the neighbourhood of the waterfall as they were fighting with a much stronger party on the other side of the stream. They wished us to go to their territory but as that was some distance off we did not care to do so as we wished to be near when the boat came to water. I never saw people much more frightened & yet their curiosity would not allow them to leave us, they crouched down looking into the bush - their eyes glancing about in all directions, their arrows on the string ready to let fly at a moment's warning. We gave them some hooks & told them to go off to a distance not by any means wishing to place ourselves between two fighting parties. They drew off [for crossed out] a little & then we enjoyed a bathe. It was delicious in this clear rapid little stream. A few yards up hid by some reeds was a small waterfall of about 6 or seven feet - it had worked out a deep basin for itself. It was a glorious place for a good bathe & I felt very reluctant to leave off. I wish we had such a luxury as a nice stream at Mota. As the tide rose we brought the boat into the steam & baled the water in with buckets. A capital place for watering. Our friends could not keep away entirely from us but kept every now & then coming back & having another look at us. They were unnecessarily frightened, for their enemies did not put in an appearance. As soon as we had filled up with water we set sail for Meralav where two boys had to be put ashore. It was 7 oclock pm before we reached the island but it was moonlight & the boys said they could find out their way just as well as by day, indeed their village was but a short distance from the sea. How they can find a standing place for a house I can hardly tell for the island rises absolutely out of the sea, very steep & conical in form evidently an old volcano. We saw lights burning at the different villages & heard the drums beating. Left our two boys & then started for Mota.
23rd. At daybreak up and getting my things ready to take on shore. It was settled that the Bishop should go on at once to Bauro. The wind has lately been so strong from the Eastern side & continues to be so, that if the vessel goes into Port Patteson there is no saying when they may get out again. Our original plan was for the Bishop to remain here for a week & then go on. Landed about 9.30 - found most of my old friends there. Two old men had died during our absence. The people seemed quite glad to see us again. The Bishop returned onboard about 11 oclock. I felt rather lonely all by myself for a short time, but I set to work & got the house somewhat in order & found plenty of ready hands to help me. Two of our lads came in the evening to sleep with me thinking I should be [or shouldn't] chill I suppose.
24th. Sunday. Our lads of whom there are seven came this morning to service & school. There is a great deal of feasting &c going on now. They have had a plentiful harvest & consequently are now feasting. This seems to be the time of year, on account, I suppose of there being plenty of food, when the people join the different societies & take higher ranks in the suqe, for there is always more or less feasting going on on these occasions. After tea I had a long talk to a good range of the people about the object of my coming & staying here with them. They promised to come to me every evening to be taught.
Monday 25th. Our lads came by appointment to settle about school &c. They promised to come three days in the week, Tuesdays, Fridays, & Sundays, this was their own proposition. They are to have school every day with the boys of their villages. I thought it best to limit the number of [2/3] each class to about 10 or 12, otherwise I fear they will not keep much order. In the afternoon I went to Gatava, a village on the other side of the island - saw but a few people, there were nearly all at a feast at another village. I had a large attendance and a very attentive one at the evening class. It consists of persons of all ages, from the old grandfather downwards. My plan is to try and teach them of the few simple truths of religion, to get them to feel an interest in these truths, & as they do so gradually teach them more & more. My lessons are a very familiar kind of sermons, admitting of any amount of conversation, questions & answers being introduced. What I would really like to see is that the people would begin freely to ask me questions, for that would be a sure proof of a deep interest having commenced in their minds.
A singular instance of how subject these people are to lockjaw happened to-day. Yesterday an old man brought with him into the house a young woman who was his wife, she was the sister of one of the girls left at Kohimarama & she came to hear about her from me. I told her all I could & she presently went away apparently in good health & spirits. The same eveng. I heard that she had a pain in her face, & her jaws were stiff. I though perhaps she had a cold, but to-day I heard she was dead, that the stiffness in her jaws was lock jaw which had proved fatal this suddenly. No cause could be discovered or was known for this & so it was decided that (ni me vene palu) she was shot secretly. I have no doubt she had either cut herself or been pieced by a thorn.
Tuesday 26th. Afternoon had a walk though the Maligo villages as far as Luwai & there met with a number of men & had a long talk with them. They were very friendly and wished me to come often & see them.
Wednesday 27th. This morning there was a secret ceremony going on at the next village & all the women & children together with the uninitiated were banished from it until the affair was over. A number of the women took the opportunity to pay me a visit, [& crossed out] I distributed a number of beads amongst them which they commenced to string & gave them employment for a good part of the day. I had occasion to pass through the village & a young fellow followed. I soon found there was something wrong by the hubbub that arose. The lad said to me - They are angry with us for passing through the village. I immediately went back and asked them what they were angry about. "Oh" they said "we are not angry with you, but that lad had no business to see what we are doing." I tried to take all the blame saying it was my fault his following me but his father who was present knew the true way of settling the matter by producing a string of money which he gave to the principal man there. They were building up a kind of platform of stones in front of the ogamal in honour of a man who was about to make a feast. These stones stand as a kind of monument & serve to keep in remembrance both the feast & the man who made it. The feast is called a kolikoli & consists of dancing, singing & eating. There are several different kinds of kolikolis [& different crossed out] each of which has its own particular ceremonies. These & the like feasts are I suppose what one usually reads of in books relating to the islands of the seas, as religious feasts. I have tried very hard to find anything of a religious tendency in them, but can find none whatsoever as yet. I cannot find that they think themselves any better here or that they will be so hereafter by anything they do or leave undone, or that they please or displease any superior being by their devotion or otherwise to their peculiar customs. The root of the whole thing now, whatever it may have been formerly, is simply gain, and an ordinary amount of vanity. Their present customs cause money to circulate & the higher the grade a man has been able to purchase, the more money comes into his bag. Then vanity is fed by their being enabled to give feasts & build monuments in their memory - & beyond this I believe they have no thought whatever in any of their customs.
When we landed, a man who carried some of my things up from the boat had the impudence to steal some clothes out of a bag - he belongs to a village of Tasmate the adjoining tribe. This afternoon, I went there & told the principal man I was come to him to get my things back. I named three persons who I was told had possession of the things & he soon returned them to me. This is an advance upon former years when I certainly should have asked in vain. I took care to give them a lecture on their shabby conduct which I hope they will for the future attend to. One man there asked me, who made the wind for us when we sailed here? This was of course a good opportunity for a talk on such points. They were very attentive, but how much of what I said they believed is doubtful. They are firm believers in the power of certain wind, rain & sun makers of whom there are some four or five on the island. These men find it a lucrative trade. If a party of men wish to go to any of the neighbouring islands they invariably give money to these people to assure a fair wind, which of course they do not always get & then sometimes a quarrel ensures. Occasionally the high winds, & hurricanes destroy the yam crops, the wind makers are of course blamed for this. Money is given them, & they profess to cause a calm, but they run the risk of being shot or otherwise, [being crossed out] roughly treated if the crops are destroyed. I had an idea that these fellows were fully aware of the deception they were practicing, but after a talk with one of them, an intelligent fellow, I am inclined to think that they quite believe in their charms. One of their principal agents is a stone which is supposed to have fallen from the clouds, & they have a most circumstantial account of such a stone falling here. I have tried unsuccessfully to see it but some one has it who is not to be found. One I have which looks very like a cannon ball perfectly round & nearly 16 inches in circumference. It has been handed down through several generations and is called "the earthquake stone" as when it fell the earth & sea shook accompanied with thunder. A savages first acquaintance with the report of a cannon, very likely. Since I bought this several others have made their appearances which could not be found before. They look too suspicious to need any description, & might be formed in any water course I should think.
Saturday 30th. All the people here at Veverau have been busy since we came in preparing for a kolikoli &c. [3/4] A number of young fellows have been confined in a high fence made of cocoa nut leaves &c so as to be impenetrable to the observation of others without. These are about to become members of a certain society called "Tur Qat." Qat is the name of the hat peculiar to this society. In this fence they remain until some one makes a kolikoli when they come out & the whole society wearing their peculiar hats grace the feast with their presence & form the most picturesque objects in the scene. A kolikoli graced with the presence of these tamate (hats) is a thing greatly envied by those who have not had the good fortune to secure their presence. To-day these said Tamates came out of the fence, & showed themselves to their mothers, sisters, wives & for the first time for some weeks. The new members wear a most peculiar hat, it is from 10 to 14 feet in height according to the height or age of the wearer. The shape somewhat resembles the half of an huge elongated extinguisher cut down the middle. The flat surface is the portrait & consists of a kind of frame the centre filled up with cocoa nut fibre well picked and stuck on with some gluey substance, the whole blackened so as to look like short black curly hair. The outside rim is made of some soft white substance & cut tooth shape. The back is made of some kind of fibre well tied together & gradually widening at the bottom leaving a space sufficient for half the body to be thrust in as well as the head. The bottom has a long fringe attached, which also helps to conceal the person inside. The whole affair is very unwieldy & requires a second person to manage it. The hats worn by the old members of the society are quite different. There is just a frame to fit the head, & on this all strange kinds of devices are placed, figures of birds are perhaps the most favoured devises, also fishes, the best of all, I think, was a turtle, very well made indeed. A light frame is first made, & covered with a large smooth leaf. This is painted with the requisite colours. The colouring is very good indeed. The crimson is a really beautiful colour but how made I do not know. The making of these hats is a great secret known only to the initiated. When the time arrived for the tamate to come out of the fence, a tapping was made on a piece of bamboo & one of the tamates came out into the court yard of the village. All the people of the place were assembled to see them. As each came out & stood still the friends & relations came forward & threw down strings of money at their feet. Part of the money serves to pay for the making of the tamate for which they have to pay a good price, whatever remains their own property. After this there was a general dance or stamping, rattles were fastened round the ancles & a deafening noise was the consequence. This is called "vara qat", or stamping the hat. When this was over all the old members put on their hats to lead them to their relations who made them presents of yams on which they feasted the same evening.
Sunday 1st July. Our lads came early this morning & we had school & a short service together.
Tuesday 3rd. This morng I got the boys together from the Veverau villages & commenced school with them. They have hitherto been so taken up with preparations for their feast that it was useless thinking of commencing before. I have two lads who have been in N.Z. with us & who will help in the teaching. The morning school is intended to help those in the villages who wish to learn to read. Some of the boys will perhaps go to N.Z. & then the first drudgery of learning the letters &c will be over. I have not yet succeeded in getting at the old men. My evening class consists almost entirely of young men & boys who seem to like the evening as the time to assemble, whereas the old men usually keep to their houses after dark. I proposed to-day to have the old men at an earlier hour at 5 pm. This is not very convenient for me as it will compel me to return home earlier than I sometimes should wish however I want very much to teach these old fellows something of the truth if I can do so. Accordingly I rang the bell this eveng & had a good attendance. They were very attentive & seemed interested. After tea I had the younger men. They are on the whole very regular in their attendance & seem anxious to learn something of the truth.
These two classes I kept on for about a week only as at that time nearly all the men went to Motlav, a neighbouring island, to get some debts returned to them. Veverau was nearly deserted for some time & I had a small class every evening but a very attentive one.
Friday 10th. Went to Luwai to sleep as I had promised. I hoped by this means to have a quiet talk to the people but was disappointed in having but a few auditors. In the morng I heard that a number of men were in one of the salagoros, a kind of sacred house, having a feast of breadfruit & fish. I went there and had a long talk with them. They were very attentive & wished me to come again that they might hear more. I promised accordingly to do so.
Tuesday 24th. This morning heard that there was bad news at one of the neighbouring tribes, that last evening a Maligo man had been shot by a man of Gatava. These reports are sometimes spread without much foundation, & I was not in haste to believe it. Our lads were coming from Maligo to school this morng & so I waited to hear what news they brought. They confirmed the report but said they did not think there would be any fighting about the matter as the fault arose from one of their own men who must bear the blame in consequence and give money to the friends of the wounded man. It appears that two young fellows went to Gatava, so they say to speak to a girl whom one of them wished to marry. The Gatava people say they wished to carry her off. They remained about the villages till quite late, were then driven away & followed, & when near Luwai one of them was knocked down and shot with two arrows. As it appeared there was not likely to be any more disturbance I had school with our lads & then went to Maligo to hear more about the affair & prevent any further mischief.
When I arrived there & I was grieved to find that they had all started for Gatava to demand payment for the man shot. I hastened after them. The Maligo villages looked deserted almost, none but women & children to be seen, with one man perhaps to take care of them; he of course had his bow & arrows all ready for a surprise. I hurried on through the Luwai villages and at the last of these found the Maligo people waiting the result of a message they had sent to the Gatava people. They were all sitting in expectation with arrow on the string ready to shoot at the shortest notice. I seized upon the young fellow who had been the cause of the visit to Gatava & said to him, "Now you are the cause of all the disturbance. You have no right to demand payment of the Gatava people who were merely protecting their women whom you were attempting to steal. You are altogether wrong in this matter & you must pay the money." I had hardly time to say this much when a shout arose [4/5] that the Gatava people were near. I was led out of the ogamal where I was talking to the lad and asked where the Gatava people were. I was directed up a road by the Luwai people who were neutrals. I hastened on for some little time but saw no one. I then feared they were merely getting me out of the way so I stopped & said to my friends, "Do you stand here, & if the Gatava people come tell them not to come near the village till I see them. I then hurried back to the village,. It was a wild scene. These men with bow & arrow in hand eyes glistening in eagerness to see their enemies & dancing themselves with a kind of fury, bows being constantly drawn at an imaginary enemy. The whole party indeed in the wildest state of excitement. I went up to the Father of the man who was shot & said, "Don't stay in the village here, draw off a little while I go & look for the Gatava people - whatever you do, do not let an arrow be shot." I then ran along another path, a road I knew well & just outside the village I spied the Gatava people. Two or three immediately took to their heels as soon as they saw me. I said to the rest, "Go back to Gatava, & remain quietly there while I talk to the Maligo people - when I have sent them back I will come to see you. This they promised to do and as soon as I saw them fairly on their way home, I returned & after a little time persuaded the Maligo people to return home. I was indeed glad when I saw them collect together quietly & take the road back to Maligo. I waited for some little while there at Luwai, partly to talk to the people there, partly to be sure the Maligo people had fairly gone home. And I tried to show them the folly of their backing up those who do wrong as well as the sin in being participants in their guilt. They seemed to see the reason of what I said but I doubt if they will quite have the good sense to follow my advice if an occasion should arise when they might put it in practice.
At Gatava I found but a few people - they did not appear to trouble themselves any more about the matter. They said they would not have young fellows prowling about their villages to steal away their girls, & there they are quite right. It is perhaps rather sharp work to shoot them for such an offence, but what else they can do under present circumstances I can hardly tell. They assured me there would not be any more fighting if the Maligo people would let them be quiet & with this I was satisfied. I could not help laughing at one old man, he told me in such a comical way how he ran away as soon as he heard that I was near. I came home through Maligo & told the People what the Gatava people had said to me. They said they did not wish to fight & so the matter I hope will end, & very thankful I was at the close of the day that more blood had not been shed.
The next day the father of the lad who had been shot came to me & I had a long talk with him - he assured me that he did not wish to have any more fighting about the matter & that whether his son lived or died he would not fight. This, if true, settles the matter. His son is shot in two places, in the side & back. In the latter wound part of the arrow, a pointed piece of bone, remains & cannot be got out. Very little hopes of his recovery are entertained, most of the people say he is almost sure to die. The arrows were poisoned ones.
This eveng I went to Gatava to sleep as I promised yesterday to do so. I hoped to have a good talk to the people but did not succeed. They are a very inattentive set here, perhaps because they do not know so much of us as some of the other people, at any rate I can seldom have a satisfactory talk with them & did not either this evening or the next morning.
27th. The Veverau people came back from Valua this morning. Two canoes still remain behind. Their journey was not altogether successful as all the debts have not been paid. The Valua people say that their money is all gone. I suppose these people will pay them another visit when they are in a more prosperous condition.
This afternoon in going for my usual walk to some one or more of the villages, I came to a place called Aratona. In the ogamal (the eating house of the village,) were a number of men assembled - they asked me to come in & have some food. As this pleases them I sat down & eat a piece of yam & then they wished me to talk to them. They were very attentive. After a time one of the men said to me "What did the Bishop mean when he said 'By & bye the [light crossed out] day will be ended & the night will come to an end & we shall all be brought together'"?
I then had a long & interesting talk about the resurrection & the Judgement. They were exceedingly attentive, not a sound was heard as I spoke to them & told them that we should all rise again from the grave & stand before God to be judged by Him, & of the sentence of either joy or misery that must be passed on each one of us. I should be happy indeed to find them always as attentive for then we should have good hopes of seeing much good & speedily brought about. This is a subject though that will nearly always make them attend. They often ask "When I die where shall I go to?," thinking more of the locality than of how they will then exist. After tea I had a large class. All the people who had been at Valua being present. I told them what we had been doing while they were absent. I had a long talk to them about prayer telling them that if they really believed in God and wished to follow His commands they must ask His help, otherwise they could neither believe or obey Him. I pressed them with the necessity of being really in earnest, and not say they accept & believe in the gospel when they do not so saying, that they may deceive me or any other man but they cannot deceive God. I spoke earnestly about this as I heard they had been giving money to the wind and rain makers to assure a favourable wind. I tried to show them that if they did this, they denied that God alone is the creator & our preserver & showed them that they could not truthfully give thanks to God for his daily blessings if they believed that man overruled any one of them. They were very attentive but I believe such superstitions are seldom entirely thrown off by one generation. These people are of course full of superstition. I know a great many of their strange notions, but almost every day I learn some new one. They are truly legion & I have got as firm hold of their hearts as the legion had of the bodies of the Gadarenes & require the same almighty power to drive them out & [place crossed out] implant the true light of the Gospel of God in their place.
August 18th. I have nothing much to write about, I find one day passes on much the same as another. School regularly every morning either with our own lads or the village boys, or with both. Work or reading till mid-day. After lunch a walk to some of the different parts of the island to see & talk to any people that I find there. Evg. class of all who like to come at about half past five, my house is nearly always pretty well filled. After this a dinner-tea, and then often a talk with some of the young fellows who remain. I usually take this opportunity to learn more of their customs & language, & so day by day passes on much in the same way. Today [5/6] coming home from my usual walk I passed though a small village standing alone in the bush. I did not know its whereabouts before although the wife of the chief man of the place had often invited me to pay her a visit. The poor old lady was not very well but she brought out a mat for me to sit on & then set some lads to work - some to get cocoa-nuts, others sugar-cane & others to catch a fowl - all this the good old lady presented to me, & ordered two lads to accompany me home & carry the things for me. She was quite eager to show herself hospitable. I had nothing with me as a present for her but the next time I met her I gave her some blue beads which delighted her much.
Sunday 19th. Morning service with our lads & school. Afternoon I went to Tasmate. A son of Merena the chief man of that district died a day or two ago, he was a boy of about 12 or 13 years of age. Merena seemed both to hope & believe that he had both heard & received some of the truth of Christianity. He asked me "Shall I really see him again?" I then had a long talk to him about the resurrection & showed him how a belief on that truth should influence our present lives. He said afterwards "I shall not be so sorry now for my son I shall hope to see him again. That is a comfort to me." Poor fellow, I never saw anyone more truly grieved at the loss of one they cared for than this poor fellow is.
21st. I had promised the boys of the village schools to have them all together some day & those who had learnt best to read &c. I would reward with knives &c - to this I afterwards added a feast & fixed upon to-day. All yesterday the lads here were busy getting things ready. I bought a large quantity of yams & taro. The lads dug a large hole near the house about 3 1/2 feet in diameter for the oven; they then collected a large number of stones & firewood, gathered and cracked quantities of almonds, & gathered large bundles of leaves which are made into mats to cover the oven with & keep in the steam. This occupied the day. At daybreak the [oven crossed out] fire was lighted & heaped up with stones some two feet in height. Soon after the lads commenced rubbing the almonds into a paste which is mixed with scraped yams & forms a mess which they are very fond of.
In the midst of these preparations news came that a man was shot last evg. at Luwai - this caused some little commotion as he is a relation of the people here married to a Luwai woman living there. A number of his friends set out to see him, & as I did not know what might happen I accompanied them. It appears that the poor fellow was returning home in the evening when he was shot from behind, the arrow sticking into his thigh - it was one of those poisoned arrows which so often prove fatal. He is a man who has heard a good deal of our teaching & he said to the people who came to see him "Let there be no fighting or quarrelling about me whether I live or die. This is a murder - there is no reason why they should shoot me. If you find out who shot me let them pay the usual money &c. but let there be no quarrelling." This misfortune prevented the Luwai boys from coming to Veverau, their parents would not allow them to come, fearing that the Veverau people might do them some injury on account of Vausur the man who was shot last night. I came home through Maligo & found that the elder people had forbidden the boys to come. This there was no reason whatever for and so I told them I would not have the boys disappointed without cause but if they were afraid let some of the elder ones come too. This they did & so we had a good gathering after all. When I reached home I had school & gave prizes to the best & fish-hooks all round so that all were pleased. By this time the food was cooked & we all went out to open the oven. They then sat down in groups & eat their fill of yams. Whilst this was going on some set to work to peel the taro & mash it; this is rather a long operation, & they are rather particular to have it all done well; it is hard work too. When the taro is well mashed the cooked almonds are mixed with it; it is then cut into pieces & eaten with great relish. Cocoa-nuts served as a beverage, and the whole seemed to be greatly relished. It only wanted a pig to make the feast complete but this I had in vain attempted to buy. After a short time I set them playing & they enjoyed themselves amazingly. The game they enjoy most is pulling at a rope one against the other; as one party [gets crossed out] is shown to be weak some one rushes to help & the excitement is such that to ones astonishment even the oldest man of the village hobbled to the rope & pulled his strongest. The whole weight of Veverau was on the rope added to that of the Maligo party; this was too much even for a rope to stand, & so the battle was ended by their all being laid prostrate on the ground & there they lay till they had recovered breath & could rise again. Of this game they never tire as long as a few feet of rope remains As the sun went down one Maligo party returned, & the Veverau people tired out with their afternoon's fun went to their homes.
30th. Heard today that Vausur could not recover, tetanus had set in. It was supposed that he had almost passed all danger. I was at the village yesterday, & they said he was well. The fact was I expect that he got about too soon instead of remaining quietly in his house. I went to see him the next day. He had gone with the help of two men to the next village to see his house once more & distribute his property. When he came back I sat and talked some time with him - he listened earnestly to what I said. He has constantly said "let there be no fighting about me." Poor fellow it is fearful pain he suffers. He died on Sunday morng. 2nd. He did not lie down but walked about all night with the help of two men. The pain was not so great when he stood upright.
Tuesday Sept. 4th. At Luwai to-day I found a number of people at the village were Vausur died. They were feasting. Their custom is to feast for four days after a death. On the fifth day the soul is supposed to leave the body. We naturally got into a talk about death & the resurrection &c. They listened most attentively, & appeared much interested. I hope they may have learnt something from the talk. I slept at Tasmate to-night & we sat for a long time after dark in the long meeting house of the village talking till my candle burnt out when we all lay down to sleep.
Saturday 8th. In the early morng the vessel was in sight & glad I was to see it - not that I was tired of my stay at Mota but when the time comes for the vessel to be due one gets a little anxious lest any accident should have happened, &c. I was truly thankful to see her safely approaching the island. The Bp. landed about noon and the vessel went over to Port Patteson to wood, paint, &c, &c. I was glad to have the Bp. near for a few days quietly so that he may see the people, talk to them & also pick out our party of Mota lads. He brought some rain with him the first we have had for nearly 10 weeks which prevented us getting about quite so much as we should like to have done. They have had on the whole a successful trip. Had a quick run down & left the lads at their several islands. They then, having some time on their hands went to New Georgia but the visit was not satisfactory not sufficient to induce a second visit, yet [or for] a while, besides we have more than enough on our hands [6/7] already without adding to our places of call. Another island called Savo was opened. They speak or at least understand the Mahaga language & two boys were brought from there. Our Mahaga lads disappointed us just at the last moment - they became faint hearted & some that we wished to have failed to come. The Bp. remained at Wango a place in San Christoval for 10 days. I hope this may be the commencement of a station in that group. The people seem to have behaved very well being as friendly & kind as could be, supplying him with yams, fish &c &c daily. Our Bauro lad Tearoniera [Taroaniara] also failed us much to our grief - he was the most promising of the Bauro lads but there may have been some reason that we do not know anything of to keep him away. He is a young chief & his people may have given him good reasons for staying, still we hoped to have brought him back & are disappointed at not doing so. The Anudha lads & people behaved well, all coming back except one who was a long distance away & could not be waited for. Other fresh scholars were brought, a very nice party. They had a very rough passage down, about a fortnight's continuous stormy weather. The poor boys were of course dreadfully sea sick, it was a severe trial for them, poor fellows. About 27 lads in all were brought from the Solomon Isds. and a nice party I think they are. Santa Cruz was visited, the people came off very freely & many came on board, an advance this on any former years. They wished the Bishop to land but he thought it wiser not to do so yet not wishing to run any risk, although I think there would be no danger now in again landing.
We remained together at Mota three days & pleasant days they were. The Bishop had the evg class which attended as usual. He was struck with their questions and attention, & was not prepared for so good an attendance each evg. I have real hopes that good progress has been made this time. They understand more clearly than ever why we come to them & many I hope & believe are desirous of profiting by our stay here. On Wednesday the vessel came for us to take us to Motlav were we hoped to spend two or three days, but the next day was so calm we could not get there & then the weather was so unsettled that we thought is best to get our party together as soon as possible & be off - our party five girls & four boys new scholars, & three old ones. They are a nice pleasant party here. One old gentleman has a large family of about nine children. The eldest is one of our first lads & a communicant (Henry) - the second is now in N.Z - the third died during our second year's sickness - & today the good couple gave us the next boy & the eldest girl & said that by & bye we should take the others. They are a most jolly family - pleasant & very intelligent. This is one of our most pleasant places of all. They live on a very small island called Arau close to Motlav. We were delighted to-day with our visit, the people were so friendly & kind.
Saturday. Landed about 8 at Mota & immediately took steps to get our party together & our traps on board. Many are the strange scenes we have to go through on these occasions. We now find the necessity of having young girls taught in our school who may become the wives of our lads as they grow up. Their own custom is to betroth children - a man will buy a girl only four years old as a wife for his son, the girl usually lives with her parents until she is old enough to be married when the remainder of her price is paid & she becomes the wife of the person who has bought her. She has in the meantime the option of running away with another man if she has a preference for another, a frequent cause of quarrel, or if she does not like the man she is betrothed to she can sometimes get free by persistently refusing to marry him, when the money already paid is returned & the parties are free.
We had four young girls to take from Mota, three of whom are engaged, the fourth a bright little child who we hope to teach so that she may be married to one of our lads some day.
About noon we got down to the beach, a large party from several villages came to see their friends off. This is the anxious time as we do not like to lose a child we have chosen to go with us and one or another man, just at the last moment, repent their bargain & refuse to come. Our poor little girl began to cry & I thought I could not persuade her to come. She said she was so grieved at leaving Mota, however I tried to cheer her up as well as I could & at last persuaded her to walk down to the boat with me & glad I was when she got in without any more trouble. Another one hung back for a short time but at length was prevailed upon to come.
Then I had to persuade an old gentleman to let his boy come - he is a sharp little fellow & I wanted to get him very much. His father had agreed to let him come but now seemed afraid to let him. This difficulty was then overcome & the boat went off. The Bishop & myself with two or three of the older boys were left on shore. I then distributed the remains of my beads & fish hooks to the women & children, much of course to their delight. The Bishop talked to the crowd of men until the return of the boat. Then there was lots of shaking of hands, Goodbyes &c &c. All seemed sorry we were going & often they said come to stay with us altogether. This ended my stay at Mota. It has been a most pleasant one. There is a steady progress being made each year. The people are more & more friendly, & begin better to realize what it is we come for & are more & more desirous to be taught. This is especially the case with the younger fellows. If I could only be spared from the work of the school & remain here for a twelvemonth or so at a time, in a very short time, with God's blessing, there would I think be a great change in the island. I hope before long I shall be spared to come down here for a long stay. I think now one might safely do this on the island. We have a good space cleared all round the house so that the sun & wind gets well into the ground. We have found this clearing a great improvement. I was on the island twelve weeks this year & was never in better health in my life but then it was a most favourable season, still I do not think there would now be sufficient reason to hinder one making the trial of a longer stay soon.
From Mota we went to Gaua. With our large party of 60 on board we determined to cut short the remainder of the voyage & hasten homewards. We were off Gaua on the Sunday afternoon. A large canoe came out to whom we gave the presents the lads in N.Z. sent to their friends there, told them we hoped to be back again in about ten months & then started for Meralav.
Monday morng off Meralav. Landed, heard that our two lads Clement & his brother (twins) were at Maiwo but expected back any day. We commenced to buy some yams - we had nearly a boat load when some quarrelsome fellow commenced a row because some people from another village came to sell. The people told us we had better go off so away we went. We then sailed to Maiwo where we had to water. Early on Tuesday morng by daybreak, the Bishop went ashore at the northern part of the island to ask for our two lads. Much to our disappointment they returned yesterday to Meralav. We had gone down to leeward a good deal in coming across so that they had not seen us. We then stood on to our watering place, & by dint of working hard our party got their work over very quickly to that about three oclock we were on our way back to Meralav to pick up our two friends. We reached Meralav about 8 oclock. It was a beautiful moonlight night. As we pulled in shore the lights began [7/8] to glance about in all directions & the wild shouts to arise on all hands. We pulled in to a beach & the boat was immediately surrounded by people. Our two friends soon answered to their names. One jumped into the boat the other said he wanted to go to his house to get some things, so we waited about half an hour talking to the people about the boat. Then there arose a dismal crying & our friend appeared followed by his young wife who did not seem to like parting with her husband. She was a young lady rather too big for the small spare space left so that we could not take her even if she wished to go. After some little difficulty we pulled away quite pleased to have our twins again amongst us. They are two jolly lads & I should have missed them at N.I. this year had we failed in getting them.
Opa (Lepers I) we visited the next day. The people were all quarreling & fighting. They seemed almost afraid to come out to us. Our two boys did not care to come again & we saw no others we cared to take. We were not very anxious indeed to take any. They would not work in with any of our other parties this year & would only be somewhat in the way & gain little or no benefit by their visit. The island, as far as we can tell, will be equally open to us next year when we may hope to take a party of five or 6 boys from the place. In the afternoon we set sail again. Having this large party of 62 scholars, 75 souls in all on board our small schooner the Bishop has determined to make the best of his way to the south as quickly as possible paying more attention next year to the New Hebrides. We had delightful weather down to the Three Hills (Mae) which we reached on Friday 21st. Here we had a busy day buying yams. Our large party requires a large stock of this useful vegetable & we hope to take a good many to N.Z. which will be a great saving of money as potatoes are always very dear at this time of the year. Consequently we filled up with about 7 tons of yams, & the noise we had to encounter in doing this was something undescribable. On Saturday morng at daybreak we started for our last load & about 9.30 heaved up our anchor & sailed for Norfolk Island. Our fine weather followed us down to Eromanga. Up to this time since taking on board our party at Mota we have not had a shower, & mild gentle breezes from a more favourable quarter than usual allowing us just to lie our course. We were becalmed off Eromanga & Tana & then got a fair breeze. On Friday 28th we were going along with a fair wind about 10 knots when two of the lads playing on deck were thrown overboard by a sudden lurch of the vessel. Mr. Tilly brought her up as soon as possible, the boat was lowered & in a short time our young friends were on board again none the worse for their ducking except the fright they got. We were very thankful to have them on board safely again. Had it happened in a heavy sea or at night they must have been lost. These fellows are all like ducks in the water so that there was no fear of drowning so long as they were picked up in a reasonable time but against that there is always the fear of a shark being in the way. After this we had a rough blow from the south west giving us all again a reminder of what this misnamed Pacific ocean can became in a gale of wind. We hoped to have spent the Sunday at N.I. but the wind could not allow us. Now (Monday morn) we are some 25 miles to leeward with a rather heavy sea running so that if we could reach the island to-day it is doubtful if we could land. However I hope we may do so tomorrow. I have a nice party of 16 lads to stay with me here. They are nearly all boys that I know & am friends with - indeed I chose nearly all of them at Mota, so I hope to have a pleasant party to work with there. I have to put up our house, fence in a small field, & plant it, make a garden &c & indeed do all I can to prepare the place for a larger party next year. So you see I shall have my hands full.
This has been in many respects a most successful voyage. Some of our old scholars leaving us has been a sad disappointment but so many promising ones have been given us that we may fairly hope may be useful some day. My stay at Mota was a most pleasant one, & not I think profitless to the people. We have had no accidents [crosshatched:] or sickness of any kind and indeed we all feel grateful to God for his mercies & blessings granted during the voyage.