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THE HEART OF THE PACIFIC.
And yet who will pronounce that the course of this church is not such as will give them the liveliest pleasure in the world to come ?
NOTE B, p. 301. The remarks of Sir George Simpson, Governor-in-chief of the Hudson's Bay Company's Territories, in his volume entitled “Overland Journey of a Voyage Round the World,” are not less creditable to himself as a philanthropist and a close observer of mankind, than they are honorable to the American Missionaries at the Hawaiian Islands. While he perhaps awards to the natives a higher character than they have generally been deemed to deserve, he does full justice to the efforts of the missionaries to ameliorate the temporal condition of the lower orders. He remarks, that “perhaps the industry of the natives is the quality which promises to be most conducive to their civilization. A habit, if not a love of labor has been implanted and cherished in them by a combination of causes more or less peculiar to their condition, which chiefly, if not wholly, resolve themselves into the niggardliness of nature and the despotism of government. While many other Polynesian tribes almost realize the caricature of a copper-colored gentleman lying on his back under the branches of the bread-fruit, and doing nothing but keep his mouth open to catch the ripe rolls as they fall, the Hawaiians, as we have already had occasion to notice more than once, are compelled by the necessities of nature to earn their food by the sweat of their brow. Witness the construction of their fish-ponds, the preparation of their poi, and the cultivation of their kalo, with all its incidental toils of dig. ging and embanking the beds, of erecting and maintaining the aqueducts, of fixing and regulating the sluices.
So far as the kalo and poi are concerned, there are some localities, Lahaina, for instance, in Maui, in which the bread-fruit abounds, while, with a little care and attention, it might be made to grow in all parts of
but whether it be that this ready-made food be here of an inferior quality, or that the favorite dish of the natives has become indispensable to them, the bread-fruit is as little valued by the Sandwich Islanders as the kalo, which is indigenous in many parts of Polynesia, is valued by the indolent aborigines of the more southern groups. Nor is the despotism of government less influential in making the people work than the niggardliness of nature. Till very recently the commoners of this archipelago, like the peasants of France before the revolution, or of Canada before the conquest, were taillables et corveables a misericorde, or to invent English for the exotic abomination, taxable and taskable at discretion, while they were deterred alike from evasion or complaint by a mixture of feudal servility and superstitious terror.
“But, within the last year or two, certain laws, for their share in
which the missionaries deserve great credit, have so far remedied this evil as to subject the amounts and times of tasking and taxing to fixed rules; and though the ascertained burdens are still too heavy and too numerous, comprising work for the immediate chief, work for the king, work for the public, rent for land and a poll-tax on both sexes, yet the restriction in question, if fairly carried into actual effect, will engender in the serf the idea of property, and inspire him at once with the hope and the desire of improving his physical condition by the application of his physical energies.
Though in many quarters of the group an adequate motive for exertion may not at present be felt, yet in the neighborhood of Honolulu the sustenance of several thousands, who are exclusively consumers, constitutes at once the proof and the recompense of the industry of the adjacent cultivators. In fact, the demand of the town affords an ample market for the natives of the surrounding country, while there is certainly no reason for the buyers to murmur as to the amount or variety of the supply. In addition to the resources of a stationary market, which is usually well furnished with fish, meat, fruit, etc., the smaller dealers go from house to house to vend their wares, the whole scene, which is quite unique, savoring of any thing but indolence on the part of the rural population.
Early in the morning a crowd of natives may be seen flocking into Honolulu, all carrying something to sell. Most of them have large calabashes suspended in a netting at each end of a pole, which they carry across one shoulder, the contents being all sorts of small articles, kalo and poi, and fruits and vegetables, and milk and eggs, and, what is the safest speculation of all, water fresh from the cold atmosphere of the mountains ; some of them are loaded with bundles of grass for the townfed horses; others carry a sucking pig in their arms, while the more substantial hog-merchants make the adult grunters, always there, as well as elsewhere, on the verge of insurrection, trudge along on their own petty toes; others again import ducks and fowls, and geese and turkeys, all alive, tied by the legs to long poles, which are carried like the poles with the calabashes ; while last, though not least, a few individuals of more airy and delicate sentiments hawk about various kinds of curiosities, such as mats, shells, scorpions, etc., but above all, wreaths of bright flowers intertwined with their kindred leaves for the beaux and belles of the metropolis.”
Evidence of the utility of the Sandwich Island mission, and of the vast benefit effected by it to the Hawaiian people, is constantly accruing from every quarter. A late number of the Journal of Missions presents the following : “A short time since, Mr. Coan's church at Hilo, by a contribution of $100, made his Excellency R. C. Wyllie, Minister of Foreign Relations at Honolulu, an honorary member of the American Board.
THE HEART OF THE PACIFIC.
In a note to Mr. Castle, acknowledging the reception of the certificate of membership, he says, ' Wishing as well as I do, and have ever done, to that benevolent Board, I ought to have become a member long ago.' As he was anticipated in this, he immediately, by the payment of $100, constituted Mrs. Lee, wife of the Chief-justice of the Islands, a member. In addition to this substantial testimony to the good effected by missions, he says, in a letter to the treasurer of the Board, whom he knew many years ago in Chili — I consider that the diffusion of knowledge and Christianity throughout the Hawaiian Islands is at once the proudest achievement of any Foreign Missionary Society, and the greatest benefit that has been conferred on these Islands the last thirty-one years.'
Few men are better qualified to give an opinion on this subject than Mr. Wyllie. He is a Scotchman by birth, has seen much of the world, is a man of close observation and of large intelligence, and has resided for a long time at the Islands, where, for several years, he has, with distinguished credit to himself, and great advantage to the nation, filled his, present highly responsible office. While yet a private resident there, an extended series of articles from his pen, on the Sandwich Islands, their productions, capabilities, etc., gave proof of an intimate knowledge of all that pertained to this group, and a just appreciation of their future importance."