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During the year 1821, the inhabitants of Borabora erected a substantial place of worship; and in the beginning of 1822, according to a previous engagement with Mr. Orsmond, I visited the island, for the purpose of preaching at the opening of the new Chapel. Indisposition detained Mr. Bennet at Huahine, but the late Rev. D. Tyerman, his colleague, kindly accompanied me.
On the 24th of January we repaired to the beach soon after ten, but heavy rains detained us until nearly two, when we embarked for Raiatea. The afternoon was calm, but about sun-set a light breeze came from the south-west. It soon, however died away, while a heavy swell running in a north-easterly direction, continuing, not only rendered rowing more laborious, but materially impeded our progress. Soon after ten at night we entered within the reefs at Tipaemau, having rowed nearly thirty miles. Landing at Avera, the shore opposite the opening, our people climbed some cocoa-nut trees, and, having taken refreshment, we held on our way within the reefs.
land-breeze gently filling our sails, Mr. Tyerman and myself fell asleep in the boat and I suppose several of the people did the same, for soon after midnight we were awoke by the boat's being aground near the Avapiti. It was soon pushed into deeper water; and as the wind was light, the oars were manned, and, about an hour before daybreak, we landed at the settlement, and entered Mr. Threlkeld's house, the doors of which were unfastened. We were shortly afterwards welcomed by our friends, who prepared us an early breakfast, by no means unacceptable, as we had taken no refreshment since leaving Huahine on the preceding day. Here we spent the Sabbath,
pleased with the numbers and attention of the assemblies for worship. At the close of the native services, Mr. Tyerman preached in English, after which we spent a pleasant evening with the Missionaries and people.
On the following day we sailed for Borabora, accompanied by Tamatoa, the king of Raiatea, and Faariri, one of the principal chiefs. Two ships were sailing in the straits between Tahaa and Raiatea, and appeared bound to the former. At five in the afternoon we saw the settlement at Borabora; but the entrance to the harbour is so eircuitous, that it was sunset before we reached the shore. At the extremity of a pier built in the sea, to the edge of the deep water, we were met by Mr. Orsmond, who cordially welcoming our arrival, led the way to his own dwelling. The sides of the road along which we passed, was thronged with healthy-looking children, whom curiosity had brought to gaze at the strangers.
On the following day we viewed the settlement, to which the people had given the appellation of Beulah, gratified no less with the reception we experienced, than with the evident improvement among the inhabitants. The school was regularly attended, and many were well informed in the great truths of revelation; the observance of the Sabbath, we learned, was strictly regarded. There was a road about eight feet wide, extending nearly a mile and a half; four or five neat plastered houses were finished, others were in progress. Three causeways, upwards of six feet wide, and elevated two or three feet above the water, extended about three hundred and sixty feet into the sea, and united at the extremity. The chapel, which was one of the best that had been erected in
the islands, was part of a large building one hundred and sixty feet by forty-eight, comprising a place of worship, school, and court-house.
On the 1st of February, the chapel, which is capable of holding 1,100 persons, was opened for public worship. The floor was elevated at the extremities of the building. The pulpit was supported by a single pillar, and approached by a winding staircase of neat workmanship. About ten in the forenoon we repaired to the chapel, which we were pleased to see nearly filled with a decently clothed native congregation. After I had finished the sermon, Mr. Tyerman addressed the people, Mr. Orsmond interpreted his address, and concluded the services with prayer. In the afternoon a discourse on the advantages of affection and harmony was preached by Mr. Orsmond; and a sermon in English by Mr. Tyerman, in the evening, terminated the interesting engagements of the day. On the 3d, which was the Sabbath, I preached in the new chapel at sunrise.
In the forenoon Mr. Orsmond preached to a numerous audience. Mr. Tyerman and myself afterwards united with the little church, consisting of fifteen members, in partaking of the sacrament commemorative of the Saviour's death.
Violent and contrary winds detained us some time in the pleasant settlement at the head of Vaitape bay, on the west side of the island, which is situated in 16° 32′ S. Lat. and nearly 152° W. Long. Borabora, as well as the other islands of the group, is surrounded by a reef rising to the water's edge, at unequal distances from the shore. On this reef there are three low coral islands covered with trees and verdure, equal to that which adorns those around Raiatea and Tahaa. There are also four
other islands separated from the main land, which is about sixteen miles in circumference. These islands, like Papeorea in Huahine, are not of coral formation, but resemble in structure the promontories on the adjacent shore. Tobua, the principal, forming the south or west side of Vaitape bay, is not less than three or four hundred feet above the sea.
In the geology of Borabora, the only peculiarity is the existence of a species of feldspar and quartz, but the appearance and shape of the island is singular and imposing. The high land in the interior is not broken into a number of small mountain ridges, but, uniting in one stupendous mass, rears its magnificent form, which resembles a double-peaked mountain, to an elevation perhaps little below 3000 feet above the water. The lower hills and small islands are not seen at a distance, so that when viewed from the sea or the other islands, especially Huahine, (from the north and western parts of which it is generally visible,) it appears like a solitary gigantic obelisk or pyramid rising from the ocean and reaching to the clouds.
The settlement at the head of Vaitape bay commands a view of every diversity in scenery. The lofty interior mountain clothed with verdure, and the deep glens that indent its sides, stand in pleasing contrast with the hilly or coralline islands that appear in the west, while the uniformity and nakedness of the distant horizon is broken by the appearance of the conical or circular summits of the mountains of Maupiti or Maurua, upwards of thirty miles distant. This island was frequently visible from Borabora, during our visit at this time.
Maupiti is but circumscribed in extent, and its mountains are less broken and romantic than those
of others in the group; it has, however, some peculiarities. It is the only place in the Georgian or Society Islands, in which rocks of apparently primitive formation are found.
After remaining some time at Borabaro, we took leave of our friends, and sailed for Huahine.
On our way we touched at Raiatea, and were gratified with the prosperous appearance of the station. It was then at Vaóaara, but since that period Mr. Williams, the only remaining Missionary, has removed to Utumaoro, a fine extensive district near the northern extremity of the island, and adjacent to the opening in the reef called the Avapiti, or double entrance. This station was
commenced in 1823; and, in consequence of the extent of land by which it is surrounded, and the proximity of the harbour, has been found much more convenient than that formerly occupied. The only inconvenience is that which arises from the lowness, and consequent moisture, of the soil. The improvement has been rapid, and the transformation so astonishing, that in a short period, three hundred enclosures for the culture of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, with other kinds of produce, were completed; a substantial place of worship, schools, and a house for the Missionaries, had been finished, and the neat plastered dwellings of the natives extended for two miles along the beach. The scenery of this district of the island is much less picturesque than in many other parts; yet it is impossible to behold the neat and extensive settlement, with its gardens, quays, schools, capacious chapel, and cottages, stretching along the shore, which but a few years before was covered with brushwood and trees, without astonishment and delight.