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Improved circumstances of the females-Instruction in needlework— Introduction of European clothing-Its influence upon the people-Frequent singularity of their appearance-Development of parental affection-Increased demand for British manufactures-Native hats and bonnets-Reasons for encouraging a desire for European dress, &c.Sabbath in the South Sea Islands-Occupations of the preceding dayEarly morning prayer-meetings-Sabbath schools-Order of divine service-School exercises-Contrast with idolatrous worship.
WHILE the enclosure of plantations and gardens, the erection of neat and commodious dwellings, schools, and the spacious building for the worship of the true God, after the European plan, were rapidly altering the aspect of the settlement, the natives themselves were undergoing a change in appearance, in perfect keeping with this transformation of the surrounding country. The females, no longer exposed to that humiliating neglect to which idolatry had subjected them, enjoyed the comforts of domestic life, the pleasure resulting from the culture of their minds, the ability to read the scriptures, and to write in their own language, in which several excelled the other sex; they also became anxious to engage in employments which are appropriated to their own sex in civilized and Christian communities. The females in Huahine, and the other islands, were therefore taught to work at their needle, and soon made a pleasing proficiency.
The Missionaries' wives had taught some few in Eimeo prior to our arrival; but, until their reception of Christianity, they considered it degrading to attach themselves to the household of the foreigners, or to learn any of their arts and customs; they also thought their own manner of wearing a piece of native or foreign cloth, cast loosely round the body, preferable to the European mode of dress, and consequently had no inducement to learn needlework, or any other kind of female employment. They were, however, now anxious not only to adopt the English style of clothing, but also to be able to make their own dresses. This was a kind of instruction which our wives were competent to impart, even before they had acquired a sufficient knowledge of the language to enable them to teach in the schools. Mrs. Ellis had engaged in it ever since our arrival in Eimeo; and, as soon as we were settled in the Leeward Islands, some were daily occupied in teaching the native females
In Huahine a large class attended every afternoon from two till five o'clock, alternately at our respective houses, where Mrs. Barff and Mrs. Ellis met, and spent the afternoon pleasantly in each other's society, and unitedly teaching the females by whom they were surrounded. The natives, in general, now considered it a great favour to be taught, though it was sometimes found that they had entertained very incorrect ideas of the motives by which their instructors were influenced. A young woman had attended very regularly for some weeks, and had learned to use her needle as well as could be expected in that time. One Saturday night she presented herself with our native domestics, and begged to be paid her wages for learning to sew! Mrs. E.
said, Why should I pay you? in our country it is customary for those instructed to pay their teachers. The woman answered with some earnestness, You asked me to come and learn-I have been here so long-I have learnt. It must be in some way advantageous to you, or you would not have been so anxious about it; and as I have done what you wished me to do, you ought to pay me for it. She was told that the labour of teaching had been gratuitous, and the advantage resulting was all her own; and appeared satisfied when assured, that now she had learned, she should be regularly paid for the needlework she might do. This, however, at the time to which I now refer, 1819, was a rare occurrence; although, in the earlier periods of the Mission, it had been frequently manifested, not only in regard to needlework, but every department of instruction.
Accustomed only to perform those services that were for the advantage of foreigners, the natives had been usually paid for the same. They could not conceive, notwithstanding the frequent explanations given, why the Missionaries should be so desirous for their learning to read, &c. if they were not, in some way or other, benefited thereby hence, many of the early scholars expected to be paid for learning, and I believe some for appearing at the chapel. This, however, was only manifested during the time when very few could be induced to attend, and none perhaps came from the influence of that desire for Christian instruction, which attended the general profession of Christianity. After this period, it was only shewn by those who were actuated by a desire to obtain the favour of their superiors.
European cloth, cottons in particular, had long been
favourite articles of barter with the natives, on account of their durability compared with native manufacture, their adaptation to the climate, variegated and showy colours, and the trifling injury they sustained from wet. They no longer traded for ardent spirits, muskets, powder, &c. and were consequently enabled to procure larger quantities of British woven cloth. Hitherto, however, they had generally worn the European cottons, &c. in the native manner, either as a light tehei, thrown over the shoulder, a pareu wound round the waist; or ahu buu, a kind of large scarf or shawl, loosely covering the greater part of the body. They were now desirous to assimilate their dresses in some degree to ours. Nott and Mrs. Crook made one or two loose dressinggowns for Pomare, after a pattern from us. This introduced the fashion, and many of the women made others for their husbands.
The first garment in general use among the females, was a kind of Roman tunic, usually of white or blue calico, these being their favourite colours. It was fastened round the neck with a short collar, which, if possible, was united by a bright gilt or plated button. The sleeves were long and loose, and buttoned at the wrists, while the lower parts reached nearly to the ankles. On the outside of this, they wore the pareu round the waist, and reaching below the knees. The colour of these articles was generally in perfect contrast. When the loose European dress was white, the pareu, worn round the waist on the outside of it, was of dark blue; one end of it was sometimes thrown carelessly over the shoulder, or hung loosely on the arm, heightening the novel and not unpleasing effect produced by their blending, in the apparel of the same individual, the ancient
native with the modern European costume. Their dress thus indicated, equally with their half-native and halfforeign dwellings, the peculiar plastic, forming state of the nation, and the advancement of that process which was then constantly imparting to it some fresh impression, and developing new traits of character with rapid and delightful progression.
As the natives experienced the convenience of the new dresses, their desire for them increased, and the long loose dress soon became an every-day garment, while others of a finer texture, made after the European fashion, were procured for holidays and special occasions. From making plain, straight-forward garments, the more expert were anxious to advance still higher; and in process of time, frills appeared round the neck; and, ultimately, caps covered the heads, and shoes and stockings clothed the feet. Our assemblies now assumed quite a civilized appearance, every one, whose means were sufficient to procure it, dressing in a garment of European cloth.
These changes in the exterior of the people were sometimes attended with rather humorous circumstances. I shall not soon forget the first time the queen, and about half a dozen of the chief women of Huahine, appeared in public, wearing the caps which had been sent as a present by some ladies in England. It was some time after the adoption of the English dress. When they first entered with their bonnets on, much surprise was not excited; but when these were removed, and the cap appeared, they viewed each other for some time most significantly, without, however, saying a word, yet each seeming to wonder whether her head, with its new appendages, resembled in appearance that of her neigh