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ceeded in detaching the natives from the vessel. Some of them seemed quite unconscious of the keenness of the knife, and, I believe, had their hands deeply cut by snatching or grasping at the blade. A proposal was now made to entice or admit some on board, and take two of them to Tahiti, that the Missionaries there might become acquainted with their language, gain a knowledge of the productions of their island, impart unto them Christian instruction, and thus prepare the way for the introduction of Christianity among their countrymen, as well as open a channel for commercial intercourse. Our captain offered to bring them to their native island again, on his return from the Marquesas; and, could their consent have been by any means obtained, I should, without hesitation, have acceded to the plan; but, as we had no means of effecting this object, I did not conceive it right to take them from their native island by force.
On a former voyage, about two years before this period, Captain Powel had been becalmed near the shores of this island. Many of the natives came off in their canoes, but did not venture on board; perceiving, however, a hawser hanging out of the stern of the ship, about fifty of them leaped into the sea, and, grasping the rope with one hand, began swimming with the other, labouring and shouting with all their might, as they supposed they were drawing the vessel towards the shore. Their clamour attracted the attention of the seamen, and it was found no easy matter, even when all hands were employed, to draw in the rope. While the greater part of the crew were thus engaged, a seaman leaning over the stern with a cutlass in his hand, so terrified the natives, that, as
they were drawn near the vessel, they quitted their hold, and by this means the hawser was secured. A breeze shortly after springing up, they steered away, happy to escape from the savages by whom they had been surrounded.
On the present occasion we experienced a signal deliverance, which, though it did not at the time appear very remarkable, afterwards powerfully affected our minds. As soon as the vessel was eleared of the natives, and the wind was wafting us from their shores, I went down to the cabin, where Mrs. Ellis and the nurse had been sitting ever since their first approach to the ship; and when I saw our little daughter, only four months old, sleeping securely in her birth, I was deeply impressed with the providence of God, in the preservation of the child. During the forenoon, the infant had been playing unconsciously in her nurse's lap upon the quarter-deck, under the awning, which was usually spread in fine weather, and she had but recently taken her to the cabin, when the natives came on board. Had the child been on deck, and had my attention been for a moment diverted, even though I had been standing by the side of the nurse, there is every reason to believe that the motives which induced them to seize the boys on the deck, and even the dog in his kennel, would have prompted them to grasp the child in her nurse's lap or arms, and to leap with her into the sea before we could have been aware of their design. this been the case, it is impossible to say what the result would have been; bloodshed might have followed, and we might have been obliged to depart from the island, leaving our child in their hands. From the crude food with which
they would have fed her, it is probable she would have died; but, from my subsequent acquaintance with the natives of the South Sea Islands, I do not think that during her infancy they would have treated her unkindly. As it was, we felt grateful for the kind Providence which had secured us from all the distressing circumstances which must necessarily have attended such an event.
These brief facts will be sufficient to shew somewhat of the character of the natives of Rapa, in 1791 and 1817. They continued in this state until within the last five or six years, during which a considerable change has taken place.
Towards the close of the summer of 1825, a cutter belonging to Tati, a chief in Tahiti, on a voyage to the Paumotus, or Pearl Islands, visited Rapa, and brought two of its inhabitants to Tahiti. On their first arrival, they were under evident feelings of apprehension; but the kindness of Mr. Davies the Missionary, and the natives of Papara, removed their suspicions, and inspired them with confidence. They were both delighted and astonished in viewing the strange objects presented to their notice. The European families, the houses, the gardens, the cattle, and other animals, which they saw at Tahiti, filled them with wonder. They also attended the schools and places of public worship, and learned the alphabet. Soon after their arrival, the cutter sailed again for their island, and the two natives of Rapa returned to their countrymen loaded with presents from their new friends, and accompanied by two Tahitians, who were sent to gain more accurate information relative to their country, and the disposition of its inhabitants. When the vessel approached their island, and the people saw their
countrymen, they appeared highly delighted; and towards the evening, when, accompanied by the two Tahitians, they drew near the beach in the ship's boat, the inhabitants came out into the sea to meet them, and carried the men and the boat altogether to the shore. This to the strangers was rather an unexpected reception; but, though singular, it was not unfriendly, for they were treated with kindness. The accounts the natives gave their countrymen, of what they had seen in Tahiti, were marvellous to them: the captain of the cutter. procured some tons of sandal-wood; and when he left, the Tahitians returned, having received an invitation from the chiefs and people to revisit their island, and reside permanently among them; a request so congenial to their own feelings, that they at once promised to comply.
In the month of January, 1826, two Tahitian teachers and their wives, accompanied by two others, one a schoolmaster, and the other a mechanic, sailed from Tahiti for Rapa. They carried with them not only spelling-books, and copies of the Tahitian translations of the scriptures, but also a variety of useful tools, implements of husbandry, valuable seeds and plants, together with timber for a chapel, and doors, &c. for the teachers' houses. They were conducted to their new station by Mr. Davies, one of the senior Missionaries at Tahiti, who was pleased with his visit, and, upon the whole, with the disposition of the people, although some appeared remarkably superstitious, and, as might be expected, unwilling to embrace Christianity. This arose from an apprehension of the anger of their gods, induced by the effects of a most destructive disease, with which they had been recently visited. The gods, they
imagined, had thus punished them for their attention to the accounts from Tahiti. The teachers, however, landed their goods, and the frame-work of the chapel. The chiefs received them with every mark of respect and hospitality, pointed out an eligible spot for their residence, gave them some adjacent plantations of taro, and promised them protection and aid.
The Sabbath which Mr. Davies spent there was probably the first ever religiously observed on the shores of Rapa. Several of the natives attended public worship, and appeared impressed with the services. These being performed in the Tahitian language, were not unintelligible to them. The native teachers were members of the church at Papara; and as they were but few in number, and were surrounded by a heathen population in a remote and solitary island, it being then expected the vessel would sail on that or the following day, they joined with Mr. Davies their pastor in commemorating the death of Christ, under the impression that it was the last time they should ever unite in this hallowed ordinance.
Situated some degrees from the southern tropic, the climate is bracing and salubrious, the soil is fertile, and while it nourishes many of the valuable roots and fruits of the intertropical regions, is probably not less adapted to the more useful productions of temperate climes. Mr. Davies estimates the population at about two thousand. Vancouver supposed that Rapa contained not less than fifteen hundred, merely from those he saw around his ship. In their language, complexion, general character, and superstitions, they resemble the other islanders of the Pacific, though less civilized in their