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The sides were fourteen or sixteen feet high, and the centre not less than thirty. The walls were plastered within and without. The roof was covered with pandanus leaves, the windows closed with sliding shutters, and the doors hung with iron hinges of native workmanship. Altogether, the building was finished in a manner highly creditable to their public spirit, skill, and persevering industry. All classes cheerfully united in the work, and the king of the island-assisted by his only son, a youth about seventeen years of age— might be seen every day directing and encouraging those employed in the different parts of the building, or working themselves with the plane or the chisel, in the midst of their chiefs and subjects.
The interior of the roof was remarkable for the neatness of its appearance, and the ingenuity of its structure. The long rafters, formed with slender cocoanut, casuarina, or hibiscus trees, were perfectly straight, and polished at the upper end. The lower extremities were ornamented with finely-woven variegated matting, or curiously braided cord, stained with brilliant red or black and yellow native colours, ingeniously wound round the polished wood, exhibiting a singularly neat and chequered appearance. The ornament on the rafter terminated in a graceful fringe or bunch of tassels.
The pulpit, situated at a short distance from the northern end, was hexagonal, and supported by six pillars of the beautiful wood of the pua, beslaria laurifolia of Parkinson, which resembles, in its grain and colour, the finest satin-wood. The pannels were of rich yellow bread-fruit, and the frame of mero, thespesia populnea, a beautiful fine-grained, dark, chestnut-coloured
wood. The stairs, reading-desk, and communion table, were all of deep umber-coloured bread-fruit; and the whole, as a specimen of workmanship, was such as the native carpenters were not ashamed of. The floor was boarded with thick sawn planks, or split trees; and, although it exhibited great variety of timber and skill, was by no means contemptible.
According to ancient usage in the erection of public buildings, the work had been divided among the different chiefs of the islands; these had apportioned their respective allotments among their peasantry or dependants, and thus each party had distinct portions of the wall, the roof, and the floor. The numbers employed rendered these allotments but small, seldom more than three or six feet in length, devolving on one or two families. This, when finished, they considered their own part of the chapel; and near the part of the wall they had built, and the side of the roof they had thatched, they usually fitted up their sittings. The principal chiefs, however, fixed their seats around the pulpit, that they might have every facility of hearing.
Uniformity was as deficient in the sittings of the chapel, as in the houses of the town, each family fitting up their own according to their inclination or ability. For a considerable extent around the pulpit, the seats were in the form of low boarded pews neatly finished. Behind them appeared a kind of open, or trellis-work line of pews, which were followed by several rows of benches with backs; and, still more remote from the pulpit, what might be called free or unappropriated sittings, were solid benches or forms, without any support for the back or arms.
The colour and the kind of wood, used in the interior,
was as diversified as the forms in which it was employed; it was, nevertheless, only when empty, that its irregularity and grotesque variety appeared.
When well filled with respectably dressed and attentive worshippers, as it generally was on the Sabbath, the difference in the material or structure of the places they occupied, was not easily noticed.
A remarkably ingenious and durable low fence, called by the natives aumoa, was erected round it, and the area within the enclosure was covered with small fragments of white branching coral, called anaana, and found on the northern shores of the bay.
In the month of April, 1820, it was finished, and on the 3d of May I had the pleasure of opening it for Divine service.
...A distressing epidemic had raged for some time among the people, and still confined many to their habitations, yet there were not fewer than fifteen hundred present. Many of them were arrayed in light European dresses, and all evidently appeared to feel a high degree of satisfaction in assembling for the public adoration of the Almighty in a building, in many respects an object of astonishment through the island, and which their own toil and perseverance had enabled them to finish.,,.
Individuals in England, who have materially contributed by personal exertions or pecuniary aid to the erection or enlargement of a church or chapel, have, when the object of their solicitude and their toil has been accomplished, experienced emotions of satisfaction during the subsequent opportunities they have had of rendering divine homage there; but the satisfaction of the Tahitians, though the same in kind, I am disposed to believe is stronger in degree, when standing on the floor,
the trees constituting which, they cut down in the forestwhen skreened from the wind by that portion of the wall their own hands reared-and covered by that section of the roof which they had thatched.
While the inhabitants of Huahine were thus laudably engaged in providing the means of increasing their domestic enjoyments, and accommodating the assemblies for public worship; their neighbours in the adjacent island of Raiatea were not behind them in the rapidity of their improvement. They had erected a number of dwellinghouses, and a building for divine service, larger than that at Huahine, but inferior in elevation and breadth; being forty-two feet wide, and at the sides about ten feet high. It was finished a week or two earlier than the chapel in Huahine, and was opened on the 11th of April in the same year; when upwards of 2400 inhabitants of that and the adjacent islands assembled within its walls.
To the natives of Raiatea, this work of their own hands appeared a wonderful specimen of architecture; and the manner in which its interior was finished perfectly astonished them, and appeared no less surprising to the natives of the other islands. It was not only furnished with a pulpit, a desk, a boarded floor throughout, constructed of the tough planks of the reva, or (galaxa sparta,) and filled with pews and seats, but, by the invention and ingenuity of the Missionaries, it was subsequently furnished with a rustic set of chandeliers.
By this contrivance it could be lighted up for an evening congregation, while we were under the necessity of concluding all our public services before the sun departed. These chandeliers, as they may perhaps with propriety be called, were not indeed of curious workmanship or dazzling brilliancy, in polished metal or cut
glass, but of far more common materials, and rude simplicity of structure. The frame was of light tough wood, and the lamps, instead of being coloured and transparent, were opaque cocoa-nut shells. They were, however, the only inventions of the kind the natives had ever seen ; and on the night when the chapel was first illuminated by their aid, as they came in one after another, and saw the glare of such a number of lights suspended from the roof in a manner that they could not at first understand, they involuntarily stopped to gaze as they entered the door, and few proceeded to their seats without an exclamation of admiration or surprise. Their astonishment was probably greater than would be experienced by an English peasant from a retired village, on beholding, for the first time, a spacious public building splendidly lighted up with gas.
Although we were pleased with the effect produced on the minds of the natives, and a thousand delightful associations reviving in our bosoms the first time we mingled with a crowded evening congregation, we did not recommend our people to follow the example their ingenious neighbours had set them. It appeared more desirable, in the partially organized state of society then prevailing in the islands, to conclude all our public meetings by daylight, rather than call the people from home after