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be felt for his restoration. Old age was seldom treated with respect, often with contempt and cruelty.
In seasons of illness, especially if protracted, the common people, and the aged, received but little attention. If the malady was not soon relieved by the prayers of the priest, and the remedies he administered, the sufferer was abandoned. Sometimes he was allowed to remain in the house of those with whom he was connected. But, in general, a small temporary hut was erected with a few cocoa-nut leaves, either near a stream, or at a short distance from the dwelling. Into this, as to the condemned cell, the sick person was removed. For a time, the children or friends would supply a scanty portion of food, but they often grew weary of sending this small alleviation; and it is believed that many have died, as much from hunger, as from disease.
This process was sometimes too slow for those who were connected with the sick, and who desired to share any property they might possess. If they thought there was but little prospect of recovery, they would determine to destroy them at once. Murder was at times perpetrated, under these circumstances, with heartless and wanton barbarity. The spear or the club was employed, to effect what disease had been too tardy in accomplishing. All the persons in the house, when these deeds of horror were performed, were called out; and the friends or companions of the sufferer, armed with spears, prepared for their savage work. It was in vain the helpless man cried for mercy; instead of attending to his cry, they "would amuse themselves in trying which could take best aim" with the spear they threw; or, rushing upon him
with spear in hand, they would exclaim, Tui i vaho, pierce through-and thus transfix him to the couch on which he was lying.
Sometimes they buried the sick alive. When this was designed, they dug a pit, and then, perhaps, proposed to the invalid to bathe, offering to carry him to the water, either in their arms, or placed on a board; but, instead of conveying him to the place of bathing, they would carry him to the pit, and throw him in. Here, if any cries were made, they threw down large stones in order to stifle his voice, filled up the grave with earth, and then returned to their dwellings.
The natives once gave me an account of an unhappy sufferer, whom they were conveying to the grave; he perceived it at a short distance before they approached, and, influenced by fear, sprang from the board, and endeavoured to escape. He was pursued, and crippled by a large stone, and thus secured by the murderers. I was acquainted with two persons, who were sawyers, and resided some time in the island of Huahine, who had both been engaged in burying one of their companions, merely because they felt the few attentions required, a burden. One of them, whose name was Papehara, is dead; the other is still living.
It is unnecessary to add to these details. Every friend to humanity will rejoice to know, that since the subversion of that system, under the sanction of which they were practised, they have ceased; and that now, from the influence of Christian principles, although the aged do not receive that veneration which is paid to gray hairs and length of years in some countries, they are treated with kindness.
The sick are also nursed with attention by their
relatives and children; and so far from deeming it a burden to attend to them, in Eimeo, Huahine, and, I believe, in some of the other islands, the natives have formed benevolent societies among themselves, for the purpose of building houses, supplying with food and clothing those who, in their old age and helpless state, have no friends or children to take care of them. In these dwellings they are lodged, and clothed, and fed. Persons also visit them for the purpose of reading the scriptures, and praying with them; their present necessities are supplied, the decline of life made easy, and their passage to the grave comparatively tranquil and happy. It is only necessary to contrast this with the former treatment of individuals under similar circumstances, in order to strengthen our conviction of the incalculable diminution of misery which has resulted from their reception of the gospel, and the temporal blessings it has imparted.
During the year 1820, the Mission in the Windward Islands sustained a heavy bereavement in the decease of Messrs. Bicknell and Tessier. The latter, who was a man of modest and unobtrusive habits, but patient and unremitting industry in the important work of educating the rising generation, died on the 23d of July. His Christian course had not been splendid or attractive, but it had been undeviating and unsullied. His end was not only peaceful, but triumphant in faith, and glowing in anticipation of the holy and spiritual joys awaiting him in the abodes of blessedness.
Mr. Bicknell, whose health was not firm, followed the remains of his faithful coadjutor to the tomb; and while standing on the edge of the closing grave, and addressing the sorrowing multi
tude around, felt indisposed from the exposure. This was followed by fever, which terminated his life fourteen days after the death of Mr. Tessier. Though his illness was short, his mind, towards the latter part of it, was tranquil, in reliance on that Saviour who alone can support in the prospect of dissolution.
I have heard that he was the first individual who offered his services to the Missionary Society, and was among the first who landed from the Duff in 1796. He remained in Tahiti till the civil war in 1808 drove him and his companions from the islands, at which time he visited New South Wales and England. When Pomare invited the Missionaries to return, he was the first to resume his station, which he never abandoned, till called by death from a field, on which he had bestowed upwards of twenty years of patient persevering toil, and from which, though long barren and fruitless, he had ultimately been honoured to reap the first-fruits of a glorious harvest.
In 1818 he removed to the populous district of Papara, on the south-west side of Tahiti. This district had, prior to the last war, been the stronghold of idolatry, and was the head-quarters of the pagan army; and the inhabitants, until the death of their chieftain in the memorable battle of Bunaauïa, obstinately opposed the progress of Christianity. Here, under the favourable auspices of Tati, Mr. Bicknell commenced his labours; and while Mr. Tessier daily instructed numbers in the school, Mr. Bicknell collected around him large and attentive congregations, baptized many, and gathered an interesting Christian church.
His latest earthly concern regarded the stedfastness and welfare of his charge. On the last even
ing of his life, and but a few hours before his departure, he addressed Mr. Crook (who had attended him during his illness, and who was then about to perform divine service among his people) on the subject. "Tell them," said the dying Missionary, "that my conviction of the truth of those doctrines I have taught, is now stronger than ever. Tell them I am dying, but that these truths are now my support. Tell them to be sted fast." He left, not only a destitute church and afflicted congregation, but a sorrowing widow and five fatherless children, to mourn his departure. Mrs. Bicknell was afterwards united in marriage with Mr. Davies, but she did not long survive, and the children are now orphans. Mr. Caw, who had been sent out to instruct the natives in shipbuilding and other arts, but who had been long incapacitated by illness, died about the same time.