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perplexing questions relative to polygamy have naturally arisen, but for the principal difficulties, the code of laws inserted in a preceding chapter has made suitable provisions.
In the marriage ceremony, the use of the ring has not been introduced, and the only distinction that prevails in society, in reference to married and unmarried females, is, that the wife ceases to be called by her original name, and is designated by that of her husband: excepting where the name of the wife was also an hereditary title of rank or honour, in which case it is retained.
No change in their customs or usages has taken place in connexion with the introduction of the religion of the Bible, more extensive or beneficial in its influence on every class in society, than the institution of Christian marriage. Instances of unfaithfulness are not indeed unknown, but, considering their former habits of life, the partial influence of regard to character, and the slight inconvenience in reference to the means of support, by which they would probably be followed, they have but seldom occurred. The solemn and indissoluble obligations of the marriage vow are recognized by all who profess to be Christians; and the domestic, social, and elevated happiness it has imparted, is readily acknowledged. It has entirely altered the tone of feelings, and imparted new principles of conduct in regard to the conjugal relation.
Originating from the institution of marriage, and nurtured by its influence, domestic happiness, though formerly unknown even in name, is now sedulously culti vated, and spreads around their abodes of order and comfort, its choicest blessings. The husband and the wife, instead of promiscuously mingling with the multitude,
or dwelling in the houses of their chiefs, live together in the neat little cottages reared by their own industry, and find satisfaction and comfort in each other's society. Every household virtue adorns their families; the children grow up the objects of their mutual affection, and call into exercise new solicitudes and unwonted emotions of delight. Often they appear sitting together reading the Scriptures, walking in company to the house of God, or surrounding, not indeed the family hearth, or the domestic fireside, which in their warm climate would be no addition to their comfort, but the family board, spread with the liberal gifts of divine bounty. The father at times may also be seen nursing his little child at the door of his cottage, and the mother sitting at needlework by his side, or engaged in other domestic employments, These are the delights it has imparted to the present race while the rising generation are trained under the influence of the principles of Christianity, and these examples of social and domestic virtue.
Marriages frequently take place at an early age among the people; they do not, however, appear to be less happy than those celebrated when the parties are further advanced in life. In former times the men were often cruel in their treatment of the women, and considered them as their slaves; but the husbands now treat their wives with respect, and often cherish for them the most sincere affection. The female character is elevated in society; the husbands perform the labours of the plantation or the fishery, recognizing it as their duty to provide the means of subsistence for the family; while the preparation of their food, (especially where the European mode of living has been adopted by them,) together with attention to the children, and the making
of clothing, native or foreign, for themselves and the other members of the family, is now considered the proper department of the females. They occasionally
accompany their husbands and elder children to work in the plantation or garden, at particular seasons of the year; but it is a matter of choice, and not from fear of cruel treatment, as formerly. They go to assist their husbands in planting or gathering in the crops, instead of undertaking alone these labours, while the men were idling away the noon-day hours in heedless slumbers, or spending them in songs or other amusements.
The establishment of schools has in a great degree overcome their love of wandering, and habituated them to regularity and perseverance in their occupations, although at first found irksome and difficult. Desire of mental improvement, general acquaintance with writing, and fondness for epistolary correspondence, furnish new and agreeable occupation for their leisure hours. The introduction of needlework, the universal desire for European clothing, together with the preservation of these articles of dress, having increased their domestic duties, occupies a great portion of their time.
With the close of the year 1822, we terminated our regular labours in the South Sea Islands; and on the 31st of December, soon after the marriage of Pomare and Aimata, accompanied by two native teachers, Taua and his family, and Taamotu, a female who had been a member of the church, a teacher in the school, and an affectionate and valuable companion and assistant to Mrs. Ellis during my voyage to Huahine, we embarked in the Active, and reached Oahu on the 5th of the following February. The result of my observations, and the detail of a part of my labours, prosecuted in affection and har
mony with the American Missionaries, have been already published. Towards the close of 1824, an afflictive dispensation of Divine providence removed us from these islands. This was, the severe and protracted illness of Mrs. Ellis; the only hope of whose life was derived from the effects of a voyage to England. On our return we visited Huahine, anchored in Fare harbour, and had the high satisfaction of spending a fortnight in delightful intercourse with our Missionary friends, and the kind people of the settlement.
Early in the month of November we again took leave of our friends and fellow-labourers, hoping to revisit them when we should return to the Pacific; feeling, at the same time, that, with regard to some, perhaps many, we should not meet again in this world; but cheered with the anticipation of meeting in a region where parting would be unknown. When our anchor was raised, and our sails spread, the vessel moved slowly out of the harbour. The day was remarkably fine, and the wind light, and both these afforded opportunities of leisurely surveying the receding shore. As the different sections of the bay opened and receded from my view, I could not forbear contrasting the appearance of the district at this time with that presented on my first arrival in 1818.
There was the same rich and diversified scenery, but, instead of a few rustic huts, a fine town, two miles in length, now spread itself along the margin of the bay; a good road extended through the settlement; nearly four hundred white, plastered, native cottages appeared, some on the margin of the sea, others enclosed in neat and well-cultivated gardens. A number of quays were erected along the shore; the schools were conspicuous; and
prominent above the rest was seen their spacious chapel, since rebuilt, and now capable of accommodating 2000 worshippers. The same individuals, who, on the former occasion had appeared uncivilized and almost unclothed islanders, now stood in crowds upon the beach, arrayed in decent apparel, wearing hats and bonnets of their own manufacture; while, beyond the settlement their plantations and their gardens adorned the mountain's side. These were but indications of a greater change among the people. All were professing Christians. Most of them could read the Bible, and between four and five hundred had been united in church-fellowship. This number has been increased to five hundred, who are walking in the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless. Agriculture has since increased, and some acres are now planted, or preparing for the culture of coffee.
After sailing from Huahine, we touched at Rurutu, and subsequently at High Island, two branch Missionary stations, and, on parting from the latter, took our final leave of the Polynesian Islands, and the interesting people by whom they are inhabited.
London: fenry Fisher, Son, and P. Jackson, Printers.