Project Canterbury


Christmas, 1894.








Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, and late Bishop of Melanesia.



C. A. Partridge, Printer, 58, Broad Street,


Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2007

[2] In issuing the Christmas Number of Occasional Papers the Editor wishes to call particular attention to the following notes for 1895:

1.--He is very anxious to know on what number of Subscribers he can rely; and therefore will be much obliged if those who wish to have copies of the Papers for the ensuing year will kindly fill up the enclosed form, and return it to MR. PARTRIDGE, Printer, Ludlow, with Post Office Order as soon as possible.

2.--The number of Subscriptions at present does not pay for the cost of production, and he therefore begs all who can to obtain fresh Subscribers. He could materially reduce the cost of each paper, if an adequate number of Subscribers were attained.

3.--He will be glad to receive any suggestions as to points on which more information is required. The object of the papers is to give as faithful a picture as is possible in 32 pages, of the work, needs, and problems of the MISSION.


Letters concerning Mission Work, &c. Should be Addressed to the Secretary:--


Subscriptions, Donations and Offertories to the Treasurer:--


Orders and Subscriptions for Occasional Papers to:--


[3] Letter from the Bishop.

Norfolk Island,
September 6th, 1894.


Thanks for your letter. The Southern Cross brought it last Monday. She was a fortnight or more late waiting for Brittain who had been ill in Queensland, also by bad weather, making the passage in 9 days. Since Monday it has blown a gale and the ship is knocking about round the Island, waiting for a time when she can unlade her stores. We shall now be here probably till Tuesday next week, so we shall be late in starting for the Islands and late in returning I suppose.

I do not think that it is a bad thing that we are forced to remain here some time, as it gives us time to discuss these most important Queensland matters. Brittain's visit there has given us a great deal of information which we required. He went at my request from Auckland, with an open mind, but if anything prejudiced against extending our work to Queensland. He has come back an enthusiast in doing so, and believing that it must be undertaken as soon as possible. He says a great door lies open to us there, and that the Bishops and parishes will receive us with open arms. The Bishop of North Queensland told him that he strongly believes that (1) Melanesian work in Queensland, should be undertaken as a definite Branch of our work. (2) He anticipates no opposition from Diocesan or parochial authorities. (3) The Planters would support the Melanesian Mission. (4) That Melanesians would be more influenced by Melanesian Mission with an expert at its head than by the present workers. (5) That there are four district centres of work: Mackay, Burdekin and Ayr, Herbert River, and Johnson River and Cairns.

The Bishop of Rockhampton writes very kindly about Brittain's visit, and says Melanesian Mission is very near his heart.

Canon David in the absence of the Bishop of Brisbane but fully empowered to speak for him (as he told Brittain) gives us the warmest welcome. He says in a letter to me:--

(1)--"With the general idea of the scheme, I heartily concur, and I do not anticipate any difficulty in arranging details. The work really belongs to you, or at any rate can be made of such importance to you, that you ought to have some direct connection with it--better I think to undertake the whole arrangement. The majority of the boys are with us for only three years, their real lives and interests are with you. The permanent results of the work will be felt by your Mission, and not by us."

(2)--"Through direct connection with you the Mission here will gain the assistance of experts. We have been working on this side largely in the dark without practical acquaintance with the condition of life obtaining in the Islands. The character of the teaching consequently has been unpractical and exotic."

(3)--"The advantages of this consolidation, are too obvious to need particularization. Better a strong Mission with Branches, than feeble diocesan efforts at maintaining separate Missions. The transference of management to Melanesian Mission will not, I think, affect the Diocesan interest in the Bundaberg Mission. The Planters will contribute as heretofore and the Diocese generally will support the Melanesian Mission better because it is working in Queensland."

"The details of the Scheme, i.e.--Status of Clergy, jurisdiction, land, will require careful thinking out.

"Whilst the area of work is clearly defined by its nature, i.e.-as a Mission to the Islanders on the plantations, the Missionaries must be brought into direct relations with the Planters who employ coloured labour. They will thus in some measure be brought into direct relations with the Church work in the Diocese; and it will be necessary therefore to conserve Diocesan rights. I think the [3/4] question of jurisdiction might be adjusted in this way. Missionaries of the Melanesian Mission working in this Diocese would hold a license from you, and would look to you as their Spiritual Head. And they would also be required to hold a letter of permission from the Bishop of Brisbane, empowering them to exercise ministerial functions in the Diocese. In case of any great scandal, (I am assuming a remote contingency) the Bishop of Brisbane would withdraw his letter of permission, which action would operate as a suspension, pending an enquiry by the Bishop of Melanesia into the case.

"I am expecting Rev. F. D. Pritt up here in a few days, to assist in the Mission of the South Sea Islanders, but in view of the probability of the Melanesian Mission taking over the Mission, I will not prejudice the position by making a definite appointment."

I am writing to the Bishop of Brisbane to make sure of his consent. These are the only Dioceses concerned, and Brittain seems to consider that all alike will welcome us with open arms.

I am sending you a copy of Brittain's report. It will help you to form an opinion, and when formed I need not tell you that we shall value it. I send you also Mrs. Robinson's letter to Mr. Brittain. It gives much information on the subject of language.

Comins says that in Figi the boys will talk English. He wrote a hymn in Malanta, and the boys made Mr. Jones withdraw it. They said they wanted to learn English and not Malanta. That if we send a Deacon, (Alfred is proposed) to Figi to help Jones, he must learn English. We have 6 Figi boys here, i.e. Malanta labourers who have been to Figi, whom I teach. They grumble dreadfully at having to learn Mota, but are much in earnest to learn English. The boys in Figi go in for supposing themselves white and calling the Figians black. But among themselves they talk Figian. Now among themselves in Queensland they talk among themselves in "Pidgeon English," and they know much more English than the Figian boys. Brittain has brought back a Guadalcanar boy, and he is certainly more advanced in English than the Figian boys. Luke Masuraa, whom Comins took to Figi, complained that when he addressed the boys in various dialects of Malanta, three fourths did not understand him, and those whose dialect it was not, yawned and looked bored.

We have to-day had an informal clerical meeting. Palmer, Brittain, and Welchman were present. We all agreed upon the necessity of extending the Melanesian Mission work to Queensland, if the Bishops will allow us to do so. The Bishop of North Queensland has asked us to give Mrs. Robinson at Mackay, £25 a year, and he promised that he would do the same. She has 100 boys in regular nightly attendance. They will have to turn out of their house in April, and we are anxious that they should not go far away from the boys on whom she has such a hold. She writes to Brittain:--"How thankful I should be if the Bishop takes the Mission in Queensland into his own hands, words cannot express, and you know I am willing to teach in any way that he desires, if he will accept my poor services."

I am writing to tell her, that she may draw upon us for £25 in the half-year commencing at Christmas, and that probably we shall make a similar grant for the second half-year, but that depends on my visit, which I hope to make next April or May. We have therefore stretched out our wing and commenced work in Queensland. We also decided to write to Canon David and ask him to employ Pritt at [4/5] Bundaberg, until my visit next year, when possibly we, may take him on our staff.

The following information also came out. A certain lady Miss Tanner who helps Clayton at Bundaberg, and owns property there said she would build Brittain a house if he would go there. Next year she would lease or sell to us a farm of 50 acres, upon which cane could be grown, the sale of which, so Brittain was told would bring in £600 a year. We could have it with house for £200 a year, or the freehold for £2,000. The house with 10 acres could be rented for £100 a year; 40 acres alone, no house, at £80. This place is 5 miles from Bundaberg and close to a mill owned by Miss Tanner, is healthily situated. Bice seems to have a great idea that a Branch in Queensland might be made self-supporting.

You will gather, I expect, from what I have said that I am much in favour of extension. I believe that a great door is open to us there, and it appears that we shall be welcomed in making the effort.

The Bishop of Tasmania wrote to Brittain, that his whole communication filled him with joy.

I propose to go myself in April, having then heard from you, and if you agree, come to some decision on the matter. My present belief is that we must send Brittain to be in charge of a Melanesian College--after this pattern somewhat. There are four boys going from here to give a tone to it. Then I think we must take Pritt also on the Staff, and probably Mrs. Robinson. This is as far as I have really got. Let me know what you think.

Palmer falls in with my views entirely. I have suggested it to Brittain, who says he is in my hands.

There seems to be an opening at Quadalcanar. Brittain heard in Queensland that a returned labourer named Samson is holding a School at Malageti, a place which the Southern Cross has not yet reached, (in Wanderer Bay I think) where he is allowed to teach children only. His people were asked if they would like a white Missionary to be with them, and they said: "we look for him all the while." Of course we shall try to find out this place on the voyage.

Yours affectionately,



Report of Rev. A. BRITTAIN

On the Melanesians in Queensland, with suggestions for future work.

The labour traffic in Queensland has gone through many changes in the past, and it is likely that there will be many more in the future. For the present however it seems fairly settled. The condition of labour questions generally, and the sugar industry in particular, render it probable that the demand for native labourers from the islands will increase. New districts are being opened up for the production of sugar, and it is generally acknowledged that there are certain portions of work connected with it for which white labour is unfitted. Changes are at work too in the holding of land as sugar plantations which silence many who were previously objectors to the employment of native labourers.

[6] There are at present nearly 8,000 Melanesians in the whole of Queensland, so far as can he ascertained. Last year 1,130 arrived there from the islands, and as other ships have been added to those then engaged, the numbers for this year will probably show an increase on that. Of these 8,000 the majority are from the islands in which our Mission is working. The Santa Cruz Group which last year was closed to labour vessels is now open to them, and will doubtless help to swell the list for the future. In earlier days before the Mission had Christianized the islands to the extent it has now done, none but heathens were taken to Queensland. Now many Christians, brought up in a particular form of worship and Church Government, and indeed some who have been teachers, are induced to go. The reasons therefore for our Mission looking with a deeply interested eye to the plantations in Queensland are more urgent than ever, inasmuch as there is the desirability of continuing in that form of worship to which they have been accustomed, pressing upon us.

The Melanesians are distributed chiefly amongst the Dioceses of Brisbane and North Queensland, Rockhampton having but few. In none of them is there any Diocesan Organization, but in the Brisbane Diocese there is a local Organization and Committee known as the Bundaberg Kanaka Mission, at that place, with the Rev. J. E. Clayton in Deacon's orders, in charge. The Diocesan Board of Missions disclaims any responsibility with regard to it, but last year the missionary's stipend of £200 was raised locally, with the help of a grant of £50 from the S.P.G. That is the sole extent of the Church's official action in the three Dioceses. Other bodies are not slow to take advantage of the many openings now being exhibited, and the Church is losing the position she held as the pioneer in the movement through the individual work of certain of her members in the past. What is done now is simply the outcome of the work of particular individuals who were in the early days moved to commence instruction of the natives on Church lines. As the Dioceses have taken no steps in the matter as a body, so neither have the parochial or district clergy of the various places where the Melanesians are collected been able to undertake or provide for their instruction as an integral part of their work. Classes are held in many places, either by the Clergyman or some of his voluntary workers, but as a rule they are not vigorous efforts, the white population needing all possible energies. The Rev. Canon Eva, of Maryborough, and the Rev. W. Morris, of Bundaberg, commenced work in their parishes many years ago, and it has gone on unbrokenly since, though but little is done now, through the ever increasing needs of the white population. Many lay people there are, worthy of great honour from the Church who have won acknowledged positions of usefulness after great opposition and boldness, and are working either as ordinary parish workers in settled towns, or in outlying districts where the ordinary ministrations of the clergy are not available, and they are consequently to a great extent alone and unsupported. One lady, Mrs. Robinson, of Marian, in the Mackay district, deserves the most thankful recognition for the work that she has been doing for the last twelve years, with the co-operation of the Rev. W. A. Turner, the clergyman of the district. It has undoubtedly resulted in the best school in [6/7] Queensland, worked on a system of her own, and gradually evolved from a very small beginning in the dining room of her private house. The state of the district in which her school now is compels the testimony of all living near as to the improvement she has worked. Her instruction is all given with the view of making the Melanesians full Church members, and Baptisms are frequent. The Confirmation Candidates have hitherto been taken in with the ordinary candidates at Mackay, but a few months back the Bishop of North Queensland held a special confirmation for Mrs. Robinson's candidates in their own Mission Building, and it was a time of the greatest interest to him. She works quite single-handed, and without any intermission as a rule even for an evening, from year to year, and without any fund from which to supply the ordinary school materials. When a school is well managed and made interesting, the "boys" are more than eager to avail themselves of it, and are willing to give up much bodily comfort that they may gain the fullest advantage. There were found to be at Marian many men who came several miles every evening to school, and in consequence had to forego their evening meal. To be at this school for a few days was a time of the greatest possible interest. Cold as it was in July, there was then an average attendance of between 70 and 80, and the number of the names then on the books was a little over 100, with an increase frequently occuring. Already the schoolroom is crowded, though it was enlarged only a short time back, and alterations are badly needed.

It would be little short of a calamity were this work to be stopped or crippled, but it is certain that if it is to be continued, or extended as it ought to be much more support must be accorded to it.

All the other workers in Queensland are known and their labours appreciated, but taking them altogether they can have but a small effect upon the great mass of Melanesians. Many districts are entirely without workers. In the North Queensland Diocese alone are four centres which ought to be occupied, and in Brisbane there is a very important district only now being opened up, whither the Melanesians are being taken in hundreds. The need and desirability of increased instruction is shewn by the occurrence in places where nothing or but very little is done, of many of the horrors of the islands themselves. In one district alone within the last few months four murders have been perpetrated of white persons all of which are attributed to native labourers, without it being possible to bring anyone to justice. Tribal fights are still of frequent occurrence in places where many are gathered together, and outrages of various sorts are continually occurring. It is acknowledged on all hands that great improvement is visible in places where instruction is being given, and that these horrors are gradually removed. The Malayta men have generally an unenviable reputation, and yet they show themselves very willing recipients of Christianity and all civilizing influences when properly brought to bear upon them.

These considerations alone would have sufficient weight with those whose interest is confined entirely to the welfare of Queensland to induce them to favour all efforts to evangelise and civilize these strangers within their borders, but even more weighty considerations press upon us whose interest in them comes from the island side of [7/8] the question. They all at some time or other will be returning home, and their influence and action then very closely concern us, and will have a considerable effect either in hindering or in furthering our efforts in their own islands. Last year 1,200 returned home. A certain number of those would have been made Christians in Queensland, the exact proportion being quite unknown, but of these only a very few would keep up their Christian profession in the islands, though they may have been Communicants in Queensland. It has of necessity happened that the instruction given has been mainly practical and with direct reference to the conditions of life obtaining there. There has been no knowledge of island life amongst the teachers nor of the multitudinous forms of sin found only there. Hence it must happen that many a returned labourer, Christian though he was in Queensland, finds that there is very little of the teaching applicable to his new conditions and surroundings, and thinks that there is no need to keep up his profession, and so drifts away from the Faith.

Again many of the returned Christians have been many years in Queensland, and under the best possible instruction there that the present conditions allow, for long periods. Much help and assistance in teaching might reasonably be expected from them. Yet, while there are nearly 400 teachers now in the mission altogether, there are not more than five who have come from Queensland. That it was possible to train teachers there was never thought, but it would not be unreasonable to look for a larger proportion of helpers in that field.

The consideration of the whole question, after consultation and personal intercourse with nearly all now directly interested in the work, therefore leads to the following conclusions:

1.--The work now carried on, is on the whole, quite inadequate as regards workers and buildings.

2.--Those now engaged lose much power and material support from their isolated positions, owing to the total absence of any organization including all.

3.--The different ways of working followed by each individual are less useful than one common plan would be.

4.--The drifting away of the returned Christians and the waste of potential teachers are unavoidable under the present system.

5.--The great danger of unsettling the faith of those brought into the church in the islands, on finding no opportunity for continuance in the same form of worship possible in Queensland.

6.--The unsatisfactory results of teaching in Pidgin English as having no permanency and being from its nature so necessarily limited in extent.


The following extract from a letter from Mrs. Robinson to Rev. A. Brittain, will explain and illustrate the Bishop's letter.

Queensland, Aug. 16th, 1894.


I was very pleased to get your long letter, and to hear all about yourself and John since you left us. I was quite jealous of Bundaberg getting two Sundays out of you. I wish so much that you could have spent a Sunday with us, and been at our Service. When I tell [8/9] you that of course we have Mattins, and the boys join heartily in responses, all from the Prayer Book. Mr. Turner even was surprised at the way they followed in the Communion Service. This partly answers the Bishop of Tasmania's question--(3).

If this Mission is taken up by the Bishop of Melanesia of course those here can work into his hands, as regards returned labourers. I find that Church of England boys will only return to their own Islands as a rule, if there is Church of England teaching there,
otherwise not.

Mrs. Robinson then discusses the question of teaching in pure English and (as she herself does) in Pidgeon English. Mr. Brittain seems rather to have urged the former.

"One great consideration," she says "is that the boys always talk nothing but Pidgeon English to each other. I am willing to do anything and teach in any way, and am only giving my own experience, having begun originally in English, and finding it not answer, and that quicker advancement resulted by "Pidgeon English" with better results, so I took to it.

I can quite believe that no whites understood that question of mine. When I told that to one of my advanced scholars last night he said "Yes, no man plenty savvy very good talk to boy all same you, but suppose you ask boy that, he savey quick that talk".

I quite admit that I may be wrong, but still I feel most thankful that, most unworthy as I am, God should in His great mercy, have so much blessed my work among these Islanders.

Tuesday Evening next six will be baptised who have been preparing for some time. In speaking to them after the Class, one Sunday morning, I pointed out what grand opportunities they had for winning their countrymen for Jesus. And to my surprise next evening in School, one of them had brought two quite outsiders (Mahrattas, (sic) qy. Malanta's). How my heart rejoiced I can't tell you. He must have gone off that afternoon: 3 or 4 miles away to get hold of them. Again, I was speaking to one boy the other night who comes only about 3 or 4 times a week to school and asked why he did not try to come oftener. He replied, it was such a long distance away 7 or 8 miles. I said, yes, but there is your fellow workman always here. To my surprise he said "That boy never has his Supper." I could not believe that I really understood aright, but on enquiry really found that nightly after work he started off, regardless of his supper. I felt how small my labour was in comparison of his zeal for Christ.

Lastly I quote a Postscript from a letter from John Lamosi, one of Bishop Selwyn's boys, whom I, a year ago prepared for Confirmation and who is now in Maryborough. "Fight on. You are doing a good work. We know it." Is not that encouragement?


[10] I feel sure that the readers of the Occasional Papers will be glad to read these extracts from Mrs. Robinson's letter, and to know from herself of the noble work, which she has done single-handed for the cause of Christ. In whatever language the teaching is given it must be real teaching and real love--aye, and spiritual power also which can draw a man to come eight miles every night supperless, to listen to it. And as regards individual souls, it doubtless does its work. But nothing could more graphically express the problem which lies before the Mission than the words which she uses. It would be amusing to ask some of our readers to translate that sentence which I have put in Italics. Yet that is the language which the "boys" use from one end of Queensland to the other, and which one of the ablest and most devoted of teachers finds to be the best vehicle for instruction. Is it not the very irony of fate? As if there were not enough languages in Melanesia to start with, the boys when they come away invent another which no white man uninstructed can understand, and which leads only an infinitesimal way into the white man's Bible and literature. Yet, these men instructed in this Lingua Franca, are the men whom the Mission wants to use, and many of whom are most anxious to be used, as the teachers of their own countrymen in the countless languages and dialects of Melanesia.

And in Figi there is still a more complicated problem still. There, the men talk Figi to one another, and use English in their schools. They like English, but as Bishop Wilson tells us, know it most imperfectly. And all these have to be utilized by a Mission which uses Mota, as its Lingua Franca, and trains its boys in that language so that they maybe able to translate, as Mr. Robin describes two of his boys translating, into their own tongue from it. As I said in the last Occasional Paper, it is impossible to turn these men loose on their own Islands to reproduce in their own tongues, what they can remember of the teaching they have received, and what they can translate from "Pidgeon English" into their own dialects. They must be safeguarded, (as our Mota trained teachers are safeguarded, by the Mota Prayer Book and New Testament they carry with them) from reproducing possibly crude ideas, which no one can check--and yet, they must be used. Mrs. Robinson's letter shows how true and deep the Christianity of many of them is--and we can but pray to our Lord that He will guide the hearts of the Mission, and give them wisdom to use these men aright.



The REV. R. B. COMINS writes to BISHOP SELWYN:--

I have to go round with the Bishop everywhere. We meet Sir John Thurston in the Solomon Islands, and a great many important questions will have to be considered. Your paper read before the Colonial Institute has been read with great interest here. It fully sets forth the present state of the Labour Question. I think Sir John intends to put a Deputy Commissioner in the Solomon Islands with an armed native force and a small vessel.

The only difficulty is about revenue. Where are the funds to come from to pay for these things. The Imperial Government might [10/11] start it, but they would not be content to go on finding the revenue.

The natives themselves do not appreciate British Rule sufficiently to pay for it to any extent, and the customs revenue which might be raised on goods brought down to the Islands will not be very large. I am wondering how things are managed in the Gilbert and other Groups which have had a Commissioner for the last 12 months.

Brittain's news from Queensland is most interesting and important. I have no doubt a copy of his Report will be sent to you. It seems probable that Brittain himself will go to Queensland on behalf of Melanesian Mission, and look after the Melanesians there in an organized way. I suppose this will involve a Training Institution there, whence teachers can be sent to divert to the Solomon Islands.

But what about "Pidgeon English?" It is indeed a problem. Brittain says that 3 or 4 Malanta men referred to by Sir James Garrick at the Colonial Institute (p. 616) have been refused permission to land at their own places, and are on their way back to Queensland.

The heathen are determined not to give Missionaries a footing. That is my experience in most parts of Malanta, and if it were otherwise the Melanesian Mission could have taken up fresh ground long ago. However we must try again. I hope to work extending the influence of our present schools. These are real openings, but the state of siege in which the schools are now, prevents them being utilized.




Southern Islands.


In the last issue of the Island Voyage there was no contribution from the New Hebrides. The arrangements consequent on the Bishop of Tasmania's visit necessitated my remaining at Norfolk Island during the ordinary island season. There was thus no inspection of our district by the Bishop, and to my sorrow it was not possible to hold any confirmations. I was unwilling to allow any longer interval than was unavoidable to elapse before going to my district, and it was therefore arranged that, on the return of the Southern Cross with the rest of the staff from the islands after the Bishop's inspection, it should make a special trip to take us down to the New Hebrides to stay there during the summer. I had never done it before, but it was distinctly advisible, seeing that otherwise nothing would have been seen of me there for eighteen months. It was there, on Thursday, November 17, 1892, that, after having gone round the greater part of my district with Mr. Browning in the Southern Cross, I and party were landed finally at Opa. The vessel steamed away, and I knew that there must be silence for abort five months. There was much work before me, and I did not fear loneliness. Moreover, I had with me my friend John P. Pantutun, who had decided to come to assist me in the New Hebrides district, to my great pleasure, His musical talents led me to take down a harmonium, which, alas! soon [11/12] succumbed to the evils of the climate. It was not possible to move it about from place to place, and so we placed it at Tavolavola, on Opa, where is the only separate church, apart from the schoolhouse, on that island. While it remained in good condition it was a great wonder there, and gave us much brighter services, and most noticeably improved the singing. They always sing there with great vigour, and frequently with little else.

We were landed at Lonana on the weather side of the island, as we had in our party Arthur Sawi and his wife Mabel, recently united at Norfolk Island, who were going there to commence a new school in compliance with the urgent request of the people. They both belong to the other side of the island, and naturally would never appear on this side, owing to the two districts having been hostile to one another in past times. Nothing, however, was thought of that now, and they were delighted to come and begin work here. It had been promised that the school-house should be ready for them, but scarcely anything had been done towards it, and we took up our quarters at Sakeus Didi's school, not far off. This, the older-established school, impressed me favourably on the whole, though Sakeus does not gather in the people from the villages beyond the immediate school village. There is much old hostile feeling still existing between different villages and districts on the coast, though it has not broken out into warfare for many years now. On the hills above there is very often fighting still. At Didi's school much labour has been expended on a new house for me, and the school-house was in bad condition therefore, but they soon set to work to build a new and in every way better one. This new house of mine, in spite of the great labour it entailed, was not at all satisfactory. It is certainly the case that in this part of the New Hebrides at least, the people are very bad builders. The men's houses, where the males of each village for the most part live, are large, and of their sort are good and substantial, but the ordinary dwelling-houses are hovels, and most unhealthy. It is quite contrary to their ideas to have a house raised off the ground, and in consequence of their so frequently lying on the bare ground, many physical evils and diseases are induced.

It was pleasant to hear the trader who lives at Lonana speak so well of the influence of the school. He was there before we had begun anything, and his testimony as to the change wrought in the place is valuable. There is much that he promises to do in the future, but in the meantime he is careful not to compromise himself too strongly in the eyes of the natives not Christian as yet, by allying himself too openly with the missionary's people. He attends services, sometimes on Sundays and festivals, but as he knows nothing of the language, in spite of his many years resident there, they are not attractive to him. There is nothing at all ornate or ceremonial in any of our New Hebrides buildings. They are simply houses of prayer, making no pretentious to a higher rank, but sufficing for the present spiritual capacity of the people, who, being gradually led onwards to a deeper realisation of their responsibilities, will be, after a time, prepared to take part in more elaborate services, which will thus have definite and clear meaning to them.

[13] Nothing could possibly be done at this time towards settling Arthur and Mabel permanently in their own village, so it was arranged that they should live for a time at the other place, occupying my house, he in the meantime assisting and stirring up his own people towards building the house. Two days only were spent here now, and we then went round to the other side of the island to Tavolavola, the chief station at Opa.

The place was not satisfactory. There were no bad complaints or charges to be made, but there was a lack of earnestness and energy on the part of the teachers, that spoke very badly of their ministry during the past months when they had been left to themselves. The teacher in charge, never a man of high qualities, was weak in health, and had evidently left things to the junior teachers, who were not altogether equal to the needs. It seemed that school had been carried on very perfunctorily at some seasons, though prayers had never been neglected. Many deaths had occurred amongst our own people, and the circle was somewhat thinned in consequence, but many births had taken place, and the infants were baptised. There had been no additions to our numbers from the outside. The catechumen adults had kept well together, and were fairly well prepared, but they were not many, and were chiefly women.

We made a stay of nearly three weeks at Tavolavola on this occasion. The harmonium was a great feature at our services, and John's musical talents were brought into constant use. The singing has always been hearty at this place, and there is a good deal of it. Besides the usual Canticles many of the Psalms are chanted at various services, and the Mota Hymn Book is used, and most of the hymns known. It is my aim to keep steadily in view the advantages of congregational worship and singing, and so no choirs are formed, but everybody is expected to take a share in what is going on. The Christmas Hymns and Psalms were practised with great vigour, though we had arranged to spend it elsewhere. We heard afterwards, however, that the services of that season were all the brighter in consequence, and that they instituted the practice, learnt at Norfolk Island, of singing hymns and carols on Christmas Eve before the houses in the villages near. I was sorry not to have heard it, for it would have been a striking change from the native mourning songs and wailing which were always so great a feature of this place, and are so still to an unwelcome extent.

From Tavolavola we went frequently to the school at Lobaha, further along the coast. The teacher there, and a lad of very great promise, Herbert Arudale, has sadly gone down, and last year I struck him off the roll of teachers altogether until he showed a different spirit. He is not in sin, but has no idea at all of what is required from him as a teacher. He has naturally lost the respect of all the people about as a Christian, and can never go back into his old position there. It was difficult to get at the real state of his mind, but I concluded that he had gradually drifted away into utter negligence of himself. I made several efforts to get him away from this place, but something always intervened to make him draw back, until at last I told him I should myself take no more steps for that purpose, but that he must approach us. Thus, until the time of my departure, [13/14] from the islands in June, I saw very little more of him, and thought that he was content to be left in that condition. On the arrival, however, of the Southern Cross at Norfolk Island after the last voyage in November, he sent me the following letter:--

"My brother, this is to write briefly to yon. For I was lost, but now I return to you. I have again commenced schooling, and there are with me ten boys and ten girls, added together twenty. I ask that you will bring me a lamp, if I may live till then. And do you write to Codrington and to Bice to say that I have returned to you. Do not think I have forgotten anything, but I am very sad indeed. I felt that my soul was dead, but no! Now I feel that it is well again.--HERBERT ARUDALE."

It remains to be seen what degree of reformation this has led to, but I do not expect much from it.

To get to Lonana from Tavolavola by boat takes the greater part of the day, and is often not practicable owing to the sea on the weather side, but it is possible to get there overland in much shorter time, though with greater fatigue, and it is a most interesting walk. I therefore went over several times in that way to pay surprise visits, and now and then to stay the night, and found it had a very beneficial effect. There are not many men on either side who will go over willingly to the other, and it happened sometimes that John and myself had no companions, but as soon as we crossed the recognised boundaries of the hostile districts, numerous friends came forward to help us on.

I had arranged to go over to Pentecost for Christmas, and on Thursday, December 8, we started on our voyage thither. It cannot be done in one day, and we went to a most lovely boat cove at the eastern end of Opa on the Thursday, and spent the night on the sand
under the trees there. The next day matters were favourable for an early start, and we got over to Maewo in good time, sailing and pulling, and from thence to Pentecost well before dark.

A month was spent on Pentecost, and it was a very busy time. Frequent journeys were necessitated between the different schools at the northern end, and much life was shown. It was decidedly the brightest time I have known on Raga. Our former head station, Qatvenua, is indeed not of great account now-a-days, for the greater part of the lads have been taken away by labour vessels, and deaths have been frequent amongst the elders of late years, but with the decreased numbers the station was going on well, though quietly. It was the only school in that district where no building was going on, either of school-house, church, or teachers' houses. At Apalagalaga the church was to be sufficiently advanced to be opened for worship on Christmas Day, and at Lamoru a much larger church was progressing rapidly. Hitherto on Raga we have had only school-chapels, which become very unsatisfactory when the people get to a certain stage, but Ulgau at Apalagalaga has seen his way to commencing the new order of things, and had got a small church built. It was really quite small, but sufficient for the number in ordinary attendance, and was built entirely by the people themselves as a free-will offering. There were my head-quarters at first. I went about day by day from there as a centre, and remained until Christmas in order to hold the opening [14/15] services on that day. I paid my first visit to the new school, established since my last stay in the islands by our old respected teacher, Lewis Tariliu. He was at Qatvenua, but seeing that he could be spared from there, he bethought himself of the district to which he really belongs by birth, and where was no school, though the people had been most willing to receive us for a long time. He made all arrangements himself, being sure of my countenancing him, and migrated with his wife and family--a small school-house having been put up by the people as soon as they were made aware of his intention. This was about seven months before my arrival, and as I had heard about it, I was somewhat anxious to see what had really been done. What I then did see gave me great joy. It was the most spontaneous action I had ever known in Raga, and it was the nearest approach to a general movement that I had ever seen. Tariliu was there alone single-handed for those months, and what had been done even with his slender and rusty attainments was marvellous. He had over a hundred people in constant attendance at school, and for such general prayers as he thought suitable, and they included men and women, from the highest to the lowest, from the oldest to the youngest, all showing the utmost energy and earnestness. All this I learnt afterwards in detail when I stayed there, but I saw the signs of it when I paid my first short visit. I was anxious to have Christmas over, and to get there as soon as possible.

The church at Apalagalaga was finished, and we made arrangements for the people of the four schools in that district to spend the day together. I am not likely to forget quickly that Christmas Eve. There would be about four or five hundred people at the meal on Christmas day, and the food had, of course, to be prepared the previous day. The people from the various districts brought their contributions of uncooked food, and remained there to prepare it and cook it, and it went on all night in the immediate vicinity of my small house. It was not possible to sleep until in the early hours after mid-night, when the ovens had been filled and covered up, and the various parties were heard leaving one after the other to meet in the morning. It was not more than three years since there had been a too real prospect of a general outbreak into the old style of warfare between these same people, and one or two men had been shot secretly. We were enabled, however, to keep it down and to prevent its becoming general, and now all the parties concerned were to meet to celebrate their Christmas together. It was a long day, tiring, needing much talking, and many services, but most encouraging and satisfactory. The small church was opened in the early morning with the celebration of Holy Communion. There were not many of us, but none were absent, and it made it a real festival to us. As the day went on the weather became bad, and fresh arrangements were necessary for the schooling and services. I had intended to have them all out of doors under a large banyan tree, but showers came on, and we had to have a succession of services in the church and school-house for the Christians of different degrees and sexes, and for those still in the position of hearers. It thus soon drew on towards evening, when it was time for the general meal, which was partaken of to their utmost satisfaction. Soon after, all from the other districts dispersed [15/16] homewards and we of Apalagalaga were left to ourselves Alas! for my own Christmas dinner. I had taken from Norfolk island a lamb which I hoped might live until then, but it was injured on board the vessel, and died while I was at Opa. I had to fall back upon a tin of beef.

During Christmas week I went to the new station, Aqethuqe, for a stay of a fortnight. It exceeded even my anticipations, and I was greatly cheered. I had been able to get one or two lads from the other places to help with the teaching, and they were not nearly sufficient. But one or two of the place had been so full of energy and earnestness that they were able to help with the less advanced boys, and it was indeed most surprising. A few months back and there had been nothing whatever done there--now if one met an old man who had not yet come to instruction he considered it necessary to apologise with the assurance that as soon as some particular task with which he was then busy was finished, he would join the rest under us. One middle-aged man, of fine appearance, of great social rank and worldly position, was the most earnest native I had ever seen or come across. He already knew a great deal, and was never tired of learning and hearing. It was somewhat new to me that a man of that age could so easily learn to read perfectly, and it was greatly to be regretted that there was so little for him to read.

Tariliu's energy seemed not to be slackening in the least, and he showed himself very proud of the people he had gathered together, as he might well be. He is deserving of the greatest honour, and is another instance of a man with no great intellectual gifts or capacities showing himself a good leader of men.

My plans and promises took me from Raga on the 10th of January, and I was very sorry to leave. But I was to return soon, and was then to take all adult baptisms. On this occasion I baptised only infants and gave the catechumens special preparation.

From the 10th to the 20th I was again at Opa, at Tavolavola. I had intended to be there only two or three days to put things together for a stay at Maewo, but bad weather came on and my programme was altered. Up to this time the weather had been very favourable, and there had been no hindrance to our journeys by land or water from that cause. It was distinctly hotter than it is at the time of my usual sojourn there, and I was not so well in consequence, but there seemed no reason to anticipate anything worse than that up to the middle of January. Then there came altogether a change in the weather, and for the next two or three months there was considerable difficulty in getting about. On the 15th, the second Sunday after Epiphany, we experienced a strong hurricane, altogether something new to me, and considerably appalling. We had come round from the other side of the island on the previous day, and all the natives anticipated a bad time. As we neared Tavolavola, where we were then staying, we passed a cutter lying very peacefully at anchor in the quiet bay by the trader's house. The high land to windward hid the ominous appearance somewhat from those on board, and apparently they did not think it necessary to move from that place. All that Sunday night the wind gradually got stronger and stronger, and as the morning broke it was distinctly the [16/17] commencement of a hurricane. The wind came over the hills with tremendous force, and though the air was not really darkened with leaves and tree rubbish, there was a continuous rush of them. Everything was put into confusion, and the ordinary services were entirely out of the question. We had to secure the roofing of the church and of my own house, which would otherwise have been blown away, from their greater height, and the boys could only do it with considerable risk, from the continual breaking of the trees all around. All day long there was the anticipation of some great climax, but after mid-day there was no alteration in the force until the evening when it began to lessen. The wind went half-way round the compass, and about four o'clock in the afternoon blew straight into the bay where the cutter was anchored. In less than half-an-hour she was ashore, broken up into quite small fragments, and next morning there was scarcely any part of her to be seen beyond the debris on the rocks. Fortunately the men who had been on board saw that her wrecking was unavoidable, and had busied themselves all the morning in getting the goods out of her while it was still calm close in shore, and they had just left her for good when the wind caught her and sent her ashore. They were thus all saved. It was indeed a memorable day for all of us there, and it was very comforting to find upon gathering late at night that no one had been injured so far as was then known. We took our food as we could get it, such as was ready to be eaten, for it was not possible to cook all day. By night the worst of the hurricane was over, but the wind still continued very strong, and it was several days before it really went down to moderation. There was thus no boating possible. Reports soon came in of great damage done in all the surrounding districts. The food crops suffered severely. The banana is the staple food in this part of Opa, and that is easily wrecked by strong winds. Cocoa-nuts do not suffer very greatly, and thus absolute starvation would be avoided, even if there were nothing else possible. The shipwrecked crew at the trading station near were in straits for particular sorts of food, but there was only one white man amongst them, and I was able to give him what he required for some time.

On Friday, January 20th, we made a start for Maewo, and we had to spend two nights camping out before we got to our destination. It was very evident that this time of the year is not at all suitable for boating. The trade winds that blow in the time of our usual sojourn there are much more helpful. This same journey generally takes us only a day, but now we had both wind and sea against us, ant many of our usual landing places were quite unapproachable. The first day was not so bad, and we slept fairly well under some trees, though the possibility of the boat being washed away made us keep watch over it all night. But the second day we were not able to land at all along the Maewo coast--there was a roaring surf everywhere. It was about two hours after dark when we reached the place I intended to sleep at. It is generally quite calm there, but now we had to take everything out of the boat, while standing in pretty deep water, and then haul it right up through the surf. It was an uncomfortable night, as almost everything was wet. The next day was Sunday, and we greatly surprised the people of Tasmate by appearing there round the point as they were going to Morning Service.

[18] Thus commenced my stay at Maewo. My work was clear before me. It was to stay as long as possible at each school to brighten and revive things a bit, and I thought it best not to attempt to break up new ground on this occasion. A thorough inspection of each place was necessary, and the teachers needed encouragement and strengthening. There soon commenced, however, a bad time for weather and general health. We were there until March 11th, and never have I known a worse time for weather. Continual rains and small hurricanes brought on a great deal of sickness, and I was continually sent to one place or the other for burials. It soon affected me, and I was hors de combat for some time. It was not so bad at first, while I was at Tasmate and Tasmori. At the latter place both the school-house and church had been blown down by the hurricane which occurred while we were at Opa, and the routine was altogether upset. The roof of the fallen school-house was raised up a little, and the people had prayers under that, but nothing else was possible. My friend John Pantutun made me anxious, as he was very unwell for a time, and I feared being laid up myself. It was absolutely necessary to be constantly on the move from one place to the other, and we had to be in the boat sometimes in the worst weather, and it could not but affect us.

There was very much that was comforting in some of the places, and the good report concerning all the teachers as a whole was surprising. There was nothing at all serious to be inquired into, and up to this period of disturbance there has been no interruptions to the ordinary work. Several men and women had been brought back from the plantations in Fiji and Queensland, and were more satisfactory than usual. One was an old scholar of ours who ought to have been baptised here years ago, but it had not been allowed owing to various serious misconduct on his part. He had been in Queensland, and both baptised and confirmed there, his instructors knowing nothing of his previous history, and assuming that he was a convert of theirs. He promises to be useful in many ways, and is decidedly in earnest and zealous. He had brought back some money with him, and handed me £1 as a contribution to the Mission funds in recognition of our having instructed him in past years. A woman had brought back with her from Fiji a letter from the lady in whose house she had been staying as maid, saying that she had the highest possible opinion of her, and that she had always lived as a good Christian girl while with her. She had been baptised before she went away, and had always borne a good character. It was most satisfactory to find that she had fallen under such good influence in Fiji, for it is not always so.

A baptism of four adults at Tasmori completed the roll for this part of Maewo. The whole population is now Christian, but it is not great. These four had been hindered by one thing and another, but were now quite satisfactory. The plain simple faith of these people came out during the usual personal and individual examination of the catechumens. I asked one man whether Our Blessed Lord was seen now-a-days as he was while during His earthly Ministry, and he said just calmly, Yes. On asking further what he meant, he gave me an account of what had been greatly talked of in the village a short time before. Two women of the place had gone into the church after dark [18/19] for prayer. There was no lamps there, but they saw at the further end, over the altar, a bright shining light, which was perfectly stationary, and remained there while they stood watching. They did not go in, but the next morning they told the neighbours, and the word went round that they had seen a supernatural light, and that Jesus was there. Thus the catechumen thought that it would be right to say that Jesus was as visible bodily now as he once was in Judea. Oddly enough, a week or two after, when I was at another village, Uta, on the hills, some miles from here, I asked the head teacher there, Arthur Huqe, whether he knew what the people were saying down at Tasmori. He said he did, and that the same thing had happened here. The interior of the church is open to the roadway in front, and late at night a man passing by looked into the church and had seen a similar light there. He aroused the people near, and they assembled at the door and looked in, amongst them being Arthur. Nobody ventured in, but the same account of it was given as at Tasmori.

At last I got to the head station, Tanrig, for a stay. Things had greatly improved there. There had come down from Norfolk Island, some months previously, three lads belonging to the place, full of earnestness and zeal, and they had created very much of a reformation and revival. Everything was brighter, the buildings, the services, the singing, the appearance of the people, and all the village round. I honoured them greatly for what they had thus done entirely spontaneously, and of their own desire. The youngsters had been attending school very badly, one of them, Benjamin Viro, took them under his special charge, and soon greatly improved them. I found quite a decent new house built for me, and I was very glad of it, for we were having a bad time so far as the weather was concerned. I was there for about three weeks, and there were never more than two consecutive days without heavy rains. Tanrig is situated on a high plateau, with very thick primæval forests all round. Heavy rains make the surrounding country almost one very large bog. Here we were imprisoned for almost all that time. The rain came down in torrents, and walking about was out of the question. I had to make a special voyage over to Opa, in consequence of some disquieting rumours brought from thence, and had a bad time going and returning. Already the people there were beginning to see hunger approaching them, and had it not been for the cocoa-nuts, would have been in a very bad way. Altogether I was not surprised when I began to get really unwell at Tanrig.


Banks' Islands.

Rev. T. C. Cullwick writes:--

The financial difficulties which necessitated the laying up of the Southern Cross, however to be deprecated for many reasons, provided a very desirable uninterrupted time for Island work. The much needed improvement of the buildings was made the object of special efforts, and the prolonged stays at the different places enabled me to give much assistance to the native carpentry in carrying out suggestions and plans out of the ordinary way. It is a matter of great difficulty to prevail upon the native builders to adopt a new style of [19/20] architecture. The legal maxim, "The memory of man runneth not to the contrary," finds it equivalent in the reasons which are given in support of their old style. I tried to get them to do away with the large posts running up the middle of the building carrying the ridge plate. They are considered absolutely indispensable, and the interior is thus filled up with unsightly timbers, and if the building happens to be a church, the view of the altar is blocked out. Suggestions have been repeatedly made to carry the roof on cross pieces resting on side posts, and this had received the approval of the native artificers, but the practical result has been too much to accomplish. This year, however, they waxed bold enough, with a little supervision and help, to make the attempt, with the result that three churches with double pitched roofs, dividing the interior into naves and aisles, have been built.

A stay of about three weeks was made at Merelava, and was fully taken up in visiting the four schools round the island, in addition to the ordinary work and the building of the new church. The Rev. William Vaget had had on the whole a very encouraging year. Thirty-seven adults had been baptized at Christmas; a new school had been started by Joseph Qea: and the site for another levelled by the people living between this new school and Leqil--thus the girdle of schools round the island had very nearly been completed. Some disappointment had, however, been experienced at the slow progress which had been made towards the work of building the new church. The head man belonging to that particular place is excommunicate, and although not offering any active opposition to the work, he is the source of a great deal of annoyance in many respects. At this particular time he had a great house building of his own going on, for which he claimed the assistance of the people. A good many, led away by fear, tried to serve two masters, with the result that most of what was done was accomplished by a few enthusiastic youths at the expense of a good deal of labour. During my visit the site for the new church was finished, the people from the other schools taking it in turn on successive clays to shovel away the side of the ridge. This was very tedious work, the debris having to be shifted three times with the shovels in the widest part. Substitutes for wheelbarrows were made in the form of boxes running on an incline of timbers; but this was a new custom, and didn't fit in with native ideas, so they stuck to their tedious spade work. The most interesting visit was that made to the new school on the weather side of the island, where the people were boiling over with enthusiasm. The walk on a wet day is most fatiguing, having to walk for the most part on a sloping path, the heading of the deep ravines by up and down paths greatly increasing the distance. By the time I had arrived the people had come together, and were engaged in making a sort of prophet's chamber under one of the wings of the school-house, and very shortly after the oven was opened for the special benefit of my party, consisting of myself and Gaua boys, who, being unused, like myself, to incessant climbing, were nothing loath for refreshment. It was with much astonishment that I found a class reading the New Testament very creditably. The teacher had only gone for a permanency since Christmas, and considering the amount of work entailed in the erection of a very good [20/21] school-house, this was exceedingly brilliant. The roof on the schoolhouse is exceedingly good. In this particular Merelava excels above the rest of the Banks' Islands. The pieces of thatch overlap so closely that only the reeds on which the sago palm leaves are pinned are visible from the inside. This in itself represents a great amount of labour as each leaf has to be picked separately, prepared separately, and pinned on separately. The boards which are used for the sides and ends of the houses are also another distinguishing feature of Merelava, but the making of these is accompanied with great waste. Possessing no saws, they have to split the tree, great or small, in two, and adze away the outer sides, thus only getting two boards out of one length of trunk. The population in this part is scattered along the sides of the mountain, very seldom more than two men and their families being found on one set of terraces. The school is as central as possible for this district, but the outside villages are a considerable distance away, and the regular morning and evening attendance of these people speak of the earnestness which GOD'S Spirit has quickened in their hearts.

In this district it is the custom not to attempt to teach the grown-up people to read unless some exceptional aptitude is shown by them for learning, and thus the morning school is confined to the juvenile members of the community, the elders attending evening school for oral instruction. Merelava in this is an exception to the general rule, the grown-up people having the earnestness and application to overcome the drudgery, and there are instances of the fathers of some of our Norfolk Island scholars being able to read as well as their children. On the Sundays during my stay the people from the two other schools came together for service. The school-house being much too small for their accomodation, the front of the building was knocked out in the most philosophical way, and an awning spread for the benefit of those who could not get seats. One of these occasions was made the occasion of showing the immediate necessity of a sufficiently large and proper building, and of chiding those who had shown some disloyalty in giving the preference to other work. The comparison of the celerity with which a dancing house was finished, and the slowness which characterized the building of the House of God, had its desired effect. On my next visit the greater part of the building had been done, and if the pressing necessities of planting had not intervened, it would no doubt have been completed.

From Merelava we sailed to Merig, which is now no longer impregnable against landing and hauling up the boat. The people had cleared away the boulders from the inside of the passage, thus enabling us to take the boat along inside the rocky barrier which is generally the landing place, and to haul her up on a snug little bit of sandy beach.. The thought that the boat was hauled up safely made one feel strangely at ease, as generally she is anchored with someone told off in turn to keep a good lookout by day and night. There is very little lee to this small island, and consequently no safe place for an anchorage. The people were very delighted to see me and my boat's crew. The latter belong to Gaua, and are very much blessed with relations living here. This made them feel very much at home, which was evidenced by their taking and asking for whatever they [21/22] wanted. The visit of five days was one round of festivity, which was inaugurated by the killing of a pig, with the usual accompaniment of squealing as only island pigs can squeal. The donor and his wife were most sorrowful about their little boy, who was away at Merelava, and so could not take part in the pig killing. During the day I came across the mother digging a hole and about to bury the jaw bone with the tusks. This represents the value of the pig according to the size and perfectness of the tusks, and serves to decorate the house or verandah. In this instance they were buried to await the return of the little boy, and to show that he had not been forgotten on the festive occasion. During the latter part of my stay the first fruits of this small island were baptized. There was something very touching in this service, and that of the Holy Communion, which preceded it, which taught one that the smallest place on earth was large enough for the manifestations of GOD'S love in all its fulness.

From here we sailed to Gaua, which we found had been enjoying a time of comparative quiet, excepting a disturbance which had arisen in the bush districts away from the schools. The general outlook of the work was far from cheerful. The people turn up to a man during one's visit, but on investigation of the real state of things much indifference and cold-heartedness are apparent. The Gaua teachers seem to fail in moral courage, and thus their influence on the people is virtually lost. During my stay a mass meeting was held, and representatives of the various school districts chosen. At the present time the onus of settling disputes is thrown upon the teachers, and in many instances their influence is not sufficiently powerful to intervene with any degree of success. There is also a very disturbing habit of going about with bow and poisoned arrows. At this meeting representatives were chosen to act jointly in concert with the teachers in settling questions affecting the public peace, and to help in matters connected with the general school work. At this meeting all arms were tabooed, with a fine of one pig for an infringement. The spirit and determination with which these laws were carried out creates a hope for better things in the future. By the time of my return several fines had been inflicted and paid. Visitors from a distance bearing arms were held to have violated the taboo, and were fined accordingly. While staying at Lakona, the other side of the island, several parties of Gaua men came over without their usual accoutrements, to the unmistakeable surprise of the people, thus showing their sincerity in abiding by their newly-made law.

Another instance of prompt action being taken happened before my return in the Southern Cross. A woman belonging to a bush village ran away from her husband, and endeavoured to bestow her affections on a man living near one of the shore schools. There is no school at the former place, and up to quite recently a deadly feud has existed between them. The head men, after several unsuccessful attempts, succeeded in taking her back, notwithstanding her threats to commit suicide, and restored her to her rightful lord. This is a very hopeful change from what has previously existed, and if persevered in will undoubtedly be the means of bringing about a more satisfactory state of things. There were more signs of earnestness about the Vilis school than any other, a good number of whom had [22/23] received baptism from the Rev. George Sarawia during the summer. While staying here the news came from the other island school that a man lay dying from the effect of a charm, accompanied by a request from the head man of the place for my immediate interference. Several people had been accused, and the man's relations were in a great state of excitement. We visited the man straight away, and found him suffering from the active effects of a bad bout of fever, of the fact of which I tried hard to persuade him and his relations. These charms are supposed to be effected by obtaining a fragment of food of which the victim has partaken. It is then placed in a bamboo or other receptacle, and taken possession of by one who knows the process of charming. After a certain stage the victim is supposed to fall ill and begin to sicken, at which juncture he sends round his relations and friends to find out in whose possession the charm is. When this is known a sum of money is collected and overtures are made to buy it off. Formerly, no one was supposed to die a natural death, and it was always attributed to some kind of charm. This belief is still very strong, notwithstanding the repeated endeavours to uproot it. On the present occasion I took the opportunity of renewing the tirade against such ideas, which they seemed to regard with stolid scepticism. They had sent in sober earnest, notwithstanding they have been under instruction so long, thinking that the man was going to die from the effects of a charm. The man who had been accused of being instrumental in procuring the charm had betaken himself away to his nearest relative to procure a pig to pacify the rising anger of the sick man's relations, and also in deference to the expressed public opinion, as they also were on the qui vive for something good to eat. A meeting was held in the school-house, at which I explained that they must not construe my presence there as implying a conviction in the efficacy of charming, but that it was because of the bad spirit which such a state of things betrayed, and the apparent futility of what they had been taught. Apropos of the chicanery which is practised, I told them of a case which had come to light, in which the supposed victim was charmed after he had been taken ill. This manner of procedure no doubt accounts for the popular belief in the supposed efficacy of charming. The people appeared satisfied at what was elicited from the account given, but whatever doubts remained were set at rest afterwards by the effect of a dose of quinine, which restored the individual in question to his normal state of health. After spending most of the day at Levuna, I returned to the Vilis school. Although the state of the school is unsatisfactory, the people appear the most earnest of this part of Gaua, and I am afraid the fault lies at the teachers' door. They are the conservators of the large lake on the top of the island for this part of Gaua, out of which they supply the much-desired eel for their shore friends. At one time the only means of navigating the lake was on a raft of timbers lashed together with wild vines, but more frequently it was an impromptu raft of banana stalks skewered together with sticks, which made very slow headway under the most favourable conditions. Latterly a canoe has been built capable of carrying more than thirty people, and on board of this we had a most delightful voyage round the greater part of the circumference of the lake. The only [23/24] inhabitant of the lake side is an old widow woman with her two children. She is very often found alone, and is held in superstitious awe by the people. Last year when we paid our visit to the lake and the sulphur springs we were driven by bad weather to take refuge in the old woman's house for the night, which was then without its usual occupant. While staying there this year I heard that the present of print which I left to atone for our unceremonious behaviour, had been very acceptable, and that she was lamenting her fate of being so far away from any school.

My stay at Levuna was not an inspiring one. The people attended well during my stay, but the examination of the school revealed quite a different state of things. Accusations of bad character had been brought against the teacher, and at one time things had come to a standstill. The charges were not proved, but the teacher had apparently lost the confidence of his people, and his place has since been taken by another one. At Ver the school-house had been in a very disreputable condition for some time past, the excuse for not repairing it being that a new one is to take its place, but at this no attempt had yet been made beyond cutting a few timbers. A good start was made during my stay, and most of the timbers were put in their places, but on my return another disappointment was experienced, as very little progress had been made in the meantime.

At Votow the people have built a very nice little sacrarium, which is screened off from the school house after prayers are over; but it has been done with a view of setting this apart as a church, and building another house for school purposes. Having spent five weeks here, I sailed round to Lakona with a boat's crew of Lakona people who had come over to fetch me. The outlook here was more cheerful. Joseph Velmeren, a boy from Ureparapara, has undertaken to share the work with the present teacher who is also a native from that island. I then only stayed for a few days, which were taken up with making a start of my new house, and having done this, I set sail for a complete round of the group. At Mesevunu we stayed several days. Seventeen adults had been baptized by the Rev. George Sarawia, and there appeared to be more life among the people than is generally visible. During the time of our stay a large meeting was held of the people here, and from the bush between here and Gaua proper, when head men were elected to act in concert with those of Gaua in matters affecting both districts. From here we had a boisterous voyage across to Mota, where we found the state of things by no means cheerful. The school house was at a standstill, owing to the illness of the man they call the carpenter, and the general attendance at school and prayers, with few exceptions most discouraging. This unsatisfactory state of Mota for a long time past is much to be regretted, and seems to point to a general defect in our present ecclesiastical system, and to the necessity of Christianizing the various social institutions and customs in all the islands in a more positive form. The people do not take their share in the responsibility of matters connected with Church and school work, and do not contribute as they ought to the support of their teachers and schools. This, I think, is why they appear so little interested in the state of their schools and value lightly what is obtained too cheaply. It becomes more and more manifest in all the [24/25] islands, as time goes on, that some revolution must be made with regard to the social institutions and customs above mentioned. The objectionable practises connected with them are supposed to have been abrogated, and the observance of such customs as interfere with their Christian duties given up. Considering the stronghold which old-established customs have upon every race, whether black or white, it is not to be wondered at that a great amount of energy is spent in keeping them to their reformation principles in this respect. Many things have been given up, but instances are not wanted every year, in one place or other, of attempts being made to set aside their negative promises, and to follow something not perhaps morally wrong, but certainly something inconsistent with Christianity and derogatory to school work. The death customs again are most distracting, and appear to have the effect of banishing the consolation which religion affords at such times. There is a strong feeling existing among the teachers and many of the people of the present generation that the whole thing should go to the wall, and it seems to be a question for the future of this, or of Christianizing them in some positive form. The whole question is bristling with difficulties, as the complete prohibition would be condemning something which in itself is not morally wrong, and depriving the people of what would be, if faithfully carried out, an innocent amusement; and, on the other hand, if the Church took upon herself the supervision of such things, the undesirability of mixing up things secular and religious might present itself. If the Church could possibly get the control and consistently take them in hand, giving something Christian in thee place of what is now found to be troublesome and objectionable, it would strengthen her hands and provide the remedy without the necessity of making a blank in the social life of the people which their entire prohibition would create.

During this year I made three different stays on Mota, special efforts being made each time to stir up the people to greater life and earnestness. The teachers appear to do their best, but as a rule appear to fail to follow up these special efforts with any great amount of success. During my last stay I had the encouragement of seeing some practical result of the efforts that had been made. The people came together with renewed energy to the work, which had been in abeyance for so long. Three large pits of lime were burnt for the school house, and the people at the Navqoe school set about completing their Church.

At Ra and Motalava several stays were made. The outlook of the work here is most encouraging, but the joy of witnessing it is bereft of its completeness by the unfaithfulness of several teachers. At Nerenigman a large and substantial church is being built. The heavy timbers are all in their places, and most of the stone work is completed. It is a double-roofed building, built on pillars forming a sort of a nave with side aisles. During one of my stays most of the available timber had been used up, and we had to consult about the ways and means of getting some very good timbers out of a taboo ground, which they call a Salagoro. Into this place the initiated are allowed to go, and these as is generally the case, are limited in number, and principally consist of old men. Some of these were cripples or [25/26] invalids, and the number available for such work as we wanted dwindled down to nine, including myself. On the day appointed we set out for the Salagoro, but two of the most able-bodied did not turn up until some time afterwards. The old people set to work with a will at the cutting down and cutting up in the required lengths, but the hauling taxed their strength to the utmost. After hauling them out to the nearest spot where it was permissible for the general public to congregate, they were picked up by a crowd of people and carried off in triumph. Most of these timbers went to build the belfry and vestry combined, in which the people are hoping to hang a bell with a "voice" as large as the one over the lagoon at Ra. The most inspiring aspect of the work here is the regular attendance at Holy Communion, of the large number of communicants, and the faithfulness with which, as a whole, they show it forth in their lives. Amid a great deal of discouragement and disappointment we have had many visible proofs during the past year of the Divine presence in our work, which teaches that our imperfect service for our Lord has been abundantly blessed "above all that we ask and think."


Torres Island.

Rev. L. P. Robin reports:--

My stay in Torres Islands was a very short one this year. I returned from England, after an absence of nearly two years, just in time to join the Southern Cross at Norfolk Island when she called in September on her way to the Island on her second--this year her last--voyage. Consequently I was only able to be ashore during the time occupied by her visit to the Northern Groups. In this case, owing to phenomenal weather on her return, I only had five weeks and a half.

After so long, though necessary an absence, one was naturally rather anxious to see how everything was. I am most thankful to say that with one exception, things had been going well apparently. It is always difficult to judge how matters are, since the .people are usually on their best behaviour during one's visit; but as far as I could see, there was certainly no falling back from the fair promise of two years ago, and in some ways there were distinct signs of progress. Every visit to Tëgua is more encouraging. The mountain school at Taratawe is full of life and brightness. Vipaka, the principal station, alone is inclined to stagnate. The disposition of the people on the lower parts of the island seems much more sluggish than that of the mountain natives. Nevertheless, the state of things here is a great contrast to what one saw six years ago on a passing call with Bishop Selwyn. Such a fierce, wild-looking lot as they seemed on that occasion I remember thinking I never saw before--their faces smeared with some horrible black pigment, streaked with the cocoanut-oil which ran down from their hair; noses pierced and distended hideously by pieces of bamboo sometimes nearly an inch in diameter. I was anything but favourably impressed, and fervently hoped it would not be my lot to have such fellows to deal with. However it did become my lot, and I soon learned that their looks were very often the worst part of them, and that there were very kindly, affectionate natures underneath. One of the first lessons to be taught was cleanliness, and this has had a very beneficial effect, not only on their outward appearance, but also on [26/27] their health. I was surprised to find how few there were with the horrible sores which used to be one of their characteristics. In fact, during my visit this year, I had not more than three or four such cases to attend to, instead of some ten or twelve as it used to be.

Some of the worst of the old customs are quickly dying out, such as infanticide, and the horible manner of treating the dead. Charming in various forms is still practised, but less and less every year. The rigid laws relating to eating and drinking, fire, and the relation between man and woman, are still maintained amongst the men of high rank, who with one or two noble exceptions, cannot persuade themselves to abate one jot of the power which these laws give them. The mass of the people, however, both at Lo and at the southern end of Tëgua, are quite favourable to Christianity, and are gradually of their own accord cutting themselves loose from the old restraints. I have not much hope that the head man of the Vipaka district will ever be more than he is at present--very friendly. But I do trust that next year, Teqalqal, the principal chief of Tëgua, will come forward. He has been waiting for the Lo chiefs of his own rank to join us; but since they won't, and as he is most earnest and desirous for the establishment of the Church in his own island, I think that next year he will disregard them and become a catechumen. He will be followed by a considerable number who are all only waiting an opportunity. This opportunity I hope to be able to give them next year by staying a considerable time at Tëgua and starting a Catechumen's Class. Some of his people have a somewhat curious way of stating the position, though a very natural one. They say, "Why should not he join you? he is by himself here (i.e., he is the biggest chief); and if the Lo chief object, well he need not be troubled on that account, he can beat any two of them together any day." Teqalqal is a very great warrior; and there is no doubt that this consideration will prove a powerful factor when he comes definitely to sum up the pros and cons. One must remember that he has yet to be taught a different view of the matter.

I was only able to spare a week for Tëgua, but it was a happy one, full of encouragement. Luke's position has latterly been rather a difficult one. We have had for some years a boy from here being trained at Norfolk Island; he was never very satisfactory, showing but little sign of earnestness. Just as he was getting to be one of the senior boys in the school, about three years ago, he gave way to temptation and came to terrible grief. Of course he had to be sent away, and sooner than put him back at his own island in disgrace, which might drive him to some desperate course, Mr. Brittain kindly undertook to have him with him in the New Hebrides. There he behaved extremely well, and it was decided last year to put him back at his own home to help Luke, but not as a regular teacher. However, of course, he knows much more than Luke, and the people had been inclined to think more of him in consequence. When I reached the Torres Islands I heard various unfavourable reports about James, and decided that he had better go North in the ship till I could sift the accusations against him. As soon as he had gone I heard that several of the people had stopped attending school, because they said Luke did not know as much as James. When I stayed there I found that the [27/28] reports I had heard were practically groundless, and that James had really been helping very well. But I had to explain to the people that his position was not that of a teacher properly authorized, and they must consider Luke as the authority for the present. They promised me to attend school as before. When the ship returned from the North, James, after a short stay at Lo, was to rejoin Luke at Tëgua. But the position of both is very difficult, and I must try to make some other arrangement. To my mind it would never do to instal James as head teacher over Luke, who is a good and earnest fellow. On the other hand, James, being much better taught and more able to teach, holds an anomalous position as Luke's junior. The only way out of the difficulty seems to be to separate them and put James elsewhere.

I had hoped to run over to Hiw from here, if only for one night, but could get no crew, as it was reported that the Hiw people had been visited with some epedemic of sickness, and had vowed they would kill the first people who visited them. Consequently no one would take me over. Next year I shall have more time at my disposal, and very much hope to manage a visit. I was there in 1890 and have been unable to go since. They were then friendly, though cautious, and would not commit themselves to anything. They seemed a rather more stalwart race than their Southern neighbours, and the language, though allied to that of Lo and Southern Tëgua, is unintelligable to the people of those parts. Whether it will be found necessary to have another set of translations for them is one of the points which I am anxious to ascertain.

My visit to Tëgua left me only four and a half weeks at Lo. I did not visit the Southern island, Tago, at all. They had not deserved by their previous conduct that I should sacrifice the more important places for them. Here also I must endeavour to re-open the way next year, but this time I shall try to get a footing in the other part of the island instead of where I went before. They seem to be more reliable there, and one can the more easily work the others if one is not dependent on them for "board and lodging."

As I have said, the condition of things at Lo is, on the whole, encouraging. 1 was very pleased on my arrival to find a broad and unmistakeable road cleared from the rocks up to the village. I used very often to lose my way coming down from the village of Vipaka to the landing place, the path getting quite indistinguishable as soon as one left the thicker bush and got on the stony ground near the sea. Now there is no chance of losing one's way, the bush part not only having been cleared, but a sort of border of stones made on each side of the way near the sea. I was reminded of a practical but somewhat disconcerting result of a sermon of mine here about four years ago. I had taken their own narrow rough paths as a simile of life; the ups and downs, the roots over which one continually stumbles whilst looking up to guard one's head when on the lookout for roots, and so forth. The people were most attentive throughout. Next day I went to pay a visa at a village some way off, and found the path widened, the lower boughs lopped off, stones removed, and roots severed and pulled to one side. I was, I remember, much disappointed when told that this was because of my sermon. I protested that I did not preach the sermon because the paths were rough, but the people said it was all [28/29] right, they were glad I mentioned it. However, I have reason to know that the application was not lost by any means. But ever since then when I am expected the people prepare the path if they have time, and if not, some will always go in front and cut away any branches that are in the way, and point out holes and stumbling-blocks in the path. I fear I must have been somewhat vivid in my picture of the various obstructions, from which it is true I had many a time suffered considerably.

The mission village was clean and well kept, and the Church evidently looked after with care and reverence. A new house had been built for me, my old one having succumbed entirely to a hurricane last year. The new one is larger, well built, and much more weatherproof than the old one ever was. The attendance at school and at Church seems to have been well kept up, and the classes well taught on the whole.

There was one very unpleasant duty to perform this year, but I am very thankful now that it is over. Since I have had charge of the district we have allowed all who were willing to do so to come to prayers as well as school. My reason for this has been that till four years ago the people have never heard a prayer in their own language, and it seemed to me when we got the necessary parts of matins and evensong translated and used, and a proper Church built (in which all helped with a good will), that the people must be allowed to know what was said and done there, and have a chance of learning to pray, and hearing GOD'S Word. As the older people cannot come to school except on Sundays, owing to the great distance that their cultivations are from the villages, it seemed only right in the case of those who would come to prayers to let them have that opportunity. We have now had three classes of adult catechumens baptised in as many years. I had reason to fear that some of these heathen who attended services were not so regular in my absence, and merely came to please me--they had now ample time to make up their minds whether they would be for us or against us. Some of them said distinctly that they would never offer themselves for baptism. So I considered the time had come to enforce the Church's custom. It was announced that from that time only Christians, catechumens, hearers, and regular attendants at school would be allowed to come to Church. There was much murmuring amongst those who were thus forbidden to come any longer, and it took some time to make them understand the reason of the new rule, and the mockery of their continuing to come to Church with no intention of becoming Christians. They all sulked for two Sundays and would not come to Sunday school, but when I came away they had begun to come round, and they parted with me with more friendliness than usual I think. At first they were disposed to think we wanted to force them to become Christians, and our words were misinterpreted to them by an evil-disposed person, who is the chief mischief-worker on the island, and who incited them to break away from us entirely. Fortunately he committed himself to a statement which we were able to refute to his own entire confusion, and he was fair to betake himself to the other end of the island, and did not show up again before I left. I confess I wanted a little talk with him very much. However, the rule is now established, and there will be no more trouble about it in future. There was one most satisfactory [29/30] immediate result. A man who had been undecided for some time, but had come regularly to prayers, made up his mind and offered himself as a candidate for the next Catechumen Class.

I was very pleased to find that William and Ernest had translated the whole of the Gospel by S. Luke, Ernest doing the greater part. Most of my time was occupied in revision of this work with them, in order that it might accord as nearly as possible with the Revised Version. The spelling is naturally a difficulty with them still, and this has to be made consistent throughout, so that though one has to depend upon the teachers for the actual translation, the whole work has to be re-written. Though probably very far from correct yet, still the remembrance of the very recent issue of a correct translation of the Bible into English encourages one to hope that this may prove a sure stepping-stone under GOD'S guidance, as our own imperfect ones have been. We shall, at all events, now have a lesson book for the schools very much more comprehensible than the Mota ones are, since the people cannot understand Mota. It will also be used in future for short lessons at matins and evensong. The intercessions of all well-wishers are desired for this translation work. It is one of the chief difficulties of our work, and perhaps peculiar to this mission, owing to the great variety of dialects.

During my stay this year there was one moderate earthquake and several slight shocks. One night about eleven o'clock there was a very brilliant flash of lightning entirely without warning, followed in a second or two by a stunning thunder-clap, the loudest I ever heard, and ending abruptly, not a gradual rumbling away. There was no more lightning and no more thunder. I did not notice any earthquake with it.

At Tëgua this year I saw a phenomenon of a different description. I was asked to go and see some yams which had been dug up for a great death-feast. They were at a village about four miles from Mereniue, the school station. We had a wet walk through the bush, but the yams were worth it. There was a stack of some fifty or sixty in the gamal, none of which were under six feet in length, and the stack was crowned by two magnificent roots of equal length, about the size of a big man's thigh in thickness and measuring no less than eight feet eleven inches in length. I had a bamboo cut on the spot to the exact length, and on my return measured it. I tried hard to buy one to send to the incredulous at Norfolk Island, but they were tapu, and no amount of trade would purchase them. I bespoke the biggest dug next year, and hope I may be able to confirm what sounds like a very long yarn! I have never heard of a bigger vegetable than this.

My stay in the Torres Islands closed with the baptism at Vipaka on November 3rd of nine women and nine men. So, little by little, the Church of GOD is growing and spreading here. I very much hope and pray that next year (1894) may see the birth of the Church at Tëgua. So may it be. Laus Deo.

The Rev. R. Pantutun, who has been suffering to some extent from ill-health, has returned to his native island of Mota for a necessary rest and change. The language has always been a great difficulty to him, and he has not yet in spite of a residence of 10 years here, sufficiently mastered it to be able to preach intelligibly, it may therefore be found advisable to remove him from here.

[31] REV. R. P. WILSON, B.A., of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Sails in January to join the Mission. He has been Curate since his ordination at Tunstall, under the Rev. Alfred Penny (late Melanesian Mission), from whom he will have learnt much to fit him for the work to which he devotes himself.

REV. PERCY WILLIAMS, now Curate to Archdeacon Dudley, Treasurer of the Mission, also hopes to join the Staff shortly. He bears a name honoured in New Zealand Missionary work.


MRS. SELWYN hopes to have a "Sale of Work" in London, probably in April, and will be glad of all contributions for that purpose. Address:--THE LODGE, SELWYN COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.


There will also be a Meeting in London similar to that held with such success last year. If possible this will again be on April 5th (Bishop G. A. Selwyn's Birthday), but as the Chairman has to take Confirmations in the Diocese of Salisbury about that time, it may not be possible to hold it on that day. Due notice will be given in the March Occasional Paper.


Subjects for Prayer:

1.--For the Divine guidance in the great problems which lie before the Mission in Queensland and Figi.

2.--For the Islands of Quadalcanar and Malanta that they may be at last opened to the faith.

3.--For Rev. R. P. Wilson on his voyage.




ALMIGHTY GOD, for whom the Isles do wait, send down Thy blessing on the Bishop and Clergy of the Melanesian Mission and all who teach or are taught in its Schools, that they may set forth Thy Name upon earth, Thy saving health among their people. Comfort them, O Lord, in every sorrow, protect them in every danger, strengthen them in every temptation, and give them such a sure trust and confidence in Thee that they may serve Thee without fear.

O Lord of the Harvest, send forth Thy labourers into Thine Harvest. Guide by Thy Holy Spirit those who are fitted for this work, that they may willingly offer themselves unto Thee--and by Thee may be enabled to set forth Thy glory, through JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. Amen.

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