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legs, while a third actually pressed with both knees his whole weight upon the back, where the bones appeared displaced. It was not far from Mr. Barff's house where the accident occurred, and, observing the people assembled, he went to inquire the cause, and saw them thus engaged. On his asking what they were doing, they coolly replied, that they were only straightening the man's back, which had been broken with carrying stones. The vertebræ appeared to be replaced; they bound a long girdle repeatedly round his body, led him home, and, without any other treatment, he was in a short time able to resume his employment.
The operation of trepanning they sometimes attempted, and say they have practised it with success. It is reported that there are persons living in the island of Borabora on whom it has been performed, or at least an operation very much resembling it the bones of the skull having been fractured in battle, they have cleared away the skin and coverings, and, having removed the fractured piece of bone, have carefully fitted in a piece of cocoa-nut shell, and replaced the covering and skin; on the healing of which, the man has recovered. I never saw any individual who had undergone this operation, but, from the concurrent testimony of the people, I have no doubt they have performed it.
It is also related, although I confess I can scarcely believe it, that on some occasions, when the brain has been injured as well as the bone, they have opened the skull, taken out the injured portion of the brain, and, having a pig ready, have killed it, taken out the pig's brains, put them in the man's head, and covered them up. They persist in stating that this has been done; but
add, that the persons always became furious with madness, and died. They had no idea of phlebotomy as a remedy for disease, but were clever at lancing an abscess, which was generally effected with the thorn from a kind of bramble, or a shark's tooth.
However great the influence of those persons who administered medicine, or practised surgery, might formerly have been, it has entirely ceased since the people have been acquainted with the more certain and efficacious application of English remedies. Like the priests in their temples formerly, the minister of their religion, at every station, is now sought in all cases of sickness, as their physician; and no small portion of our time was occupied in administering medicine, so far as our scanty means would admit.
This is a task necessarily devolving upon the Missionaries, as the only Europeans residing amongst them, either possessing medicine, or knowing how to use it; and it is a claim which we never desired to refuse. It is perfectly compatible with the higher duties of our station—the cure of their spiritual maladies. We have only to regret that we have not possessed better qualifications, and more ample means for its efficient discharge. So long as our family medicine has lasted, we have been ready to share it with those who were in need, and have often been thankful (when afflicted ourselves, and destitute) to receive the simple remedies they were able to supply.
The Missionary Society has readily furnished us with medical books and instruments; and for our own use, a liberal supply of medicines: but it has generally been inadequate to the wants of the people. Medicine is expensive, and perhaps it
would not be considered a just appropriation of the Society's funds, to expend them in providing medicine for those among whom its agents labour; yet it is one of the most affecting sights a Missionary can witness, when visiting his people, to behold them enduring the most painful suffering, pining under the influence of disease, and perhaps sinking into a premature grave, and to know that, if he had the means within his reach, he could at least relieve them.
The occurrences are not unfrequent, wherein an anxious mother brings a poor sickly child to his house, with which she is obliged to return unrelieved, not because the disease is remediless, but because the Missionary has not, it may be, a cheap and simple remedy to bestow. The natives would cheerfully purchase so valuable an article as medicine, by bartering in the islands the produce of their labour, but they have no means of so doing. If they send it to England, the return is distant and uncertain; and mistakes, embarrassing to them, are likely to occur. It is to be hoped, however, that as the means of intercommunication become more frequent and regular, these difficulties will be removed. Several generous individuals have laid the people of some of the islands under great obligations, of which they are duly sensible, by sending them out, gratuitously, a liberal supply of the most useful medicines.
It may not be necessary for a Missionary in a civilized nation, where the healing art is cultivated, or going to a country where European colonies are settled, or commercial establishments are formed, to be acquainted with the practice of physic. It is, however, important, and ought to be borne in mind by those who are looking forward to Mission
ary work, and by those who patronize them, that it would be of the highest advantage for one going to an uncivilized people, to be acquainted with the qualities and use of medicine.
A degree of proficiency that would qualify him to practise in his native country, is not necessary. But so much knowledge as would enable him to be exceedingly serviceable to the people, to win their confidence and affection, and to confer on him an influence the most important and advantageous, in accomplishing the great objects of his mission, might be acquired prior to his departure from England, without in an injurious degree diverting his attention from other pursuits. I speak from painful experience of deficiency in the means for meeting the necessities of my own family, as well as those of the people among whom I have resided. I know they still exist, and therefore express myself more strongly than I should otherwise feel warranted to do.
The introduction of Christianity has been followed by a greater alteration in the general circumstances of the people, than even the medical treatment of the sick. The change has been highly advantageous to the sufferers, who formerly experienced the greatest neglect, and often the most brutal cruelty. As soon as an individual was affected with any disorder, he was considered as under the ban of the gods: by some crime, or the influence of some enemy, he was supposed to have become obnoxious to their anger, of which his malady was the result.
These ideas, relative to the origin of diseases, had a powerful tendency to stifle every feeling of sympathy and compassion, and to restrain all from the exercise of those acts of kindness that are so grate
ful to the afflicted, and afford such alleviation to their sufferings. The attention of the relatives and friends was directed to the gods, and their greatest efforts were made to appease their anger by offerings, and to remove the continuance of its effects by prayers and incantations. The simple medicine administered, was considered more as the vehicle or medium by which the god would act, than as possessing any power itself to arrest the progress of disease.
If their prayers, offerings, and remedies were found unavailing, the gods were considered implacable, and the diseased person was doomed to perish. Some heinous crime was supposed to have been committed. Whenever a chief of any distinction was afflicted, some neglect or insult was supposed to have been shewn to the gods or the priest, and the most costly offerings were made to avert the effects of their wrath, and secure the recovery of the chieftain. Human victims were sometimes sacrificed, ceremonies performed, and prayers offered. These were not made to the national idol, but to the tutelar god of the family.
They were all, at times, unavailing; and when they imagined, in consequence of the rank or ancestry of the chief, that the deity ought to have been propitious, but they found he was not, and the sufferer did not recover, with a singular promptitude, in powerful contrast with their ordinary conduct towards their gods, they execrated the idol, and banished him from the temple, choosing in his place some other deity that they hoped would be favourable.
The interest manifested in the recovery of their chief would depend much upon his age. If advanced in years, comparatively little concern would