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though surrounded by multitudes of human beings, is yet doomed to perfect solitude, in respect to all mutual and reciprocal interchange of sympathy in thought and feeling.
Sure I am, that did the friends of those who have gone to distant, barbarous, and often inhospitable lands, know the alleviation of trials, and the satisfaction of mind, their epistles are adapted to produce, they would not be content with simply answering the letters they may receive, but would avail themselves of every opportunity thus to exchange their sympathies, and impart their joys, to those who are cut off from the many sources of comfort accessible to them.
Did the friends of the exile abroad also know the painful reflections to which a disappoinment, in reference to expected intelligence, gives birth, they would endeavour to spare them that distress. In his lonely, distant, and arduous labours, a Missionary requires every solace, assistance, and support that his friends can impart. The communications he receives from his patrons are valuable, but they are frequently too much like letters of business, or treat only of general subjects. His communications from his relatives and friends are of a much more touching and interesting character. These, though they deeply affect, do not engross his soul; he feels connected with, and interested in, the general advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, and the gigantic energies of those institutions of Christian benevolence and enterprise, which, under God, are changing the world's moral aspect. The reports, &c. of these institutions should be sent, and, in addition to these, a regular correspondence should be kept up with the Auxiliary Missionary Societies with which he may have been connected-the Sabbath-schools
in which he may, perhaps, have been a teacher-but especially the Christian church of which he may have been a member. It should not be confined to a bare reply to letters, but should be regular and constant.
Sometimes we have been six, nine, or twelve months on the island of Huahine, and during that, or a longer period, have seen no individual, except our own two families, and the natives. At length, the shout, E Pahi, e Pahi, "A ship, a ship," has been heard from some of the lofty mountains around our dwelling. The inhabitants on the shore have caught the spirit-stirring sound, and "A ship, a ship," has been echoed, by stentorian or juvenile voices, from one end of the valley to the other. Numbers flock to the projecting rocks, or the high promontories, others climb the cocoa-nut tree, to obtain a glance of the desired object. On looking out, over the wide-spread ocean, to behold the distant sail, our first attempt has been to discover how many masts she carried; and then, what colours she displayed; and it is impossible to describe the sensations excited on such occasions, when the red British banner has waved in the breeze, as a tall vessel, under all her swelling canvass, has moved towards our isolated abode.
We have seldom remained on shore until a vessel has entered the harbour, but have launched our boat, manned with native rowers, and, proceeding to meet the ship, have generally found ourselves alongside, or on deck, before she has reached the anchorage. At the customary salutations, if we have learned that the vessel was direct from England, and, as was frequently the case, from London, our hopes have been proportionably raised; yet we have scarcely ventured to ask the captain if he has brought us any tidings, lest his reply in the negative
should dispel the anticipations his arrival had awakened. If he has continued silent, we have inquired whether he had brought out any supplies; if he has answered No, a pause has ensued; after which, we have inquired whether he had any letters; and if to this, the same reply has been returned, our disappointment was as distressing as our former hopes had been exhilarating. We have remarked, that probably our friends in England did not know of his departure. This has been, we believe, the ordinary cause why so many ships have arrived in the islands from England, without bringing us any intelligence, except what we could gather from two or three odd newspapers that have been lying about the cabin. Though it has been some alleviation to believe, that had our friends known of the conveyance, they would have written; yet the relief thus afforded is but trifling, compared with the pain resulting from the absence of more satisfactory communications. Notwithstanding the length of time we had often been without seeing an individual who spoke our native language, excepting in our own families, we would, in general, rather the vessel had not at that time arrived, than that such arrival should have brought us no intelligence.
No disappointment, however, was experienced on the present occasion. The Hope had brought out a valuable supply of such articles as we needed; and Mr. and Mrs. Hayward, in addition to the letters of which they were the bearers, afforded us much satisfaction by the accounts they gave of those of our friends whom they had seen. The communications from England required the united consideration of the Missionaries; and this, with the distribution of the supplies, detained us a week longer in Matavai.
On the fourth of May, we took our leave. Heavy rains detained us at Papeete until nearly dark, but the weather clearing soon after sunset, we again launched out boat, and, being favoured with a fair wind, arrived in Eimeo before midnight. We were anxious to reach Huahine by the Sabbath, the following being the week in which the Missionary anniversary occurred. Early the next morning, which was Saturday, we arose, and prepared to depart: but the wind being westerly, was contrary, and prevented us. About six in the morning, however, it changed to the north and eastward, and continuing to blow steadily in that direction for an hour or two, we sailed from Eimeo about eight o'clock.
The sea was agitated, and the swell continuing from the westward, after the breeze from that quarter had subsided, was against us. The wind, though favourable, was but light, and our progress consequently slow. Our little bark containing the portion of supplies from the Hope, for the Missionaries in the Leeward Islands, was heavily laden. These amounting to several tons, besides the number of natives on board, not only kept the boat steady, but brought it considerably lower in the water than I had ever seen it before. About mid-day we lost sight of Eimeo. Continuing our course in a north-westerly direction, soon after sun-set, while the radiance of the departed luminary invested the horizon with splendour, we had the high satisfaction to behold the broken summits of what we considered the Huahinean mountains, shewn in beautiful though indistinct contrast with the brightness of the heavens and the sea. The duration of twilight in the tropics is always short; and the rich sunset scene, which the peculiarity of our situation had rendered striking and imposing, was soon
followed by the darkness of night, which in much less than an hour veiled the surrounding objects. The glance, however, which we had obtained of the mountains of Huahine, was serviceable and cheering; it convinced us that the current had not swept us aside from our course, and it enabled us to fix satisfactorily the direction in which to steer until morning. Although our rest
had been but broken and short during the preceding night, our present situation repressed any desire for
Nothing can exceed the solemn stillness of a night at sea within the tropics, when the wind is light, and the water comparatively smooth. Few periods and situations, amid the diversity of circumstances in human life, are equally adapted to excite contemplation, or to impart more elevated conceptions of the Divine Being, and more just impressions of the insignificancy and dependence of man. In order to avoid the vertical rays of a tropical sun, and the painful effects of the reflection from the water, many of my voyages among the islands of the Georgian and Society groups have been made during the night. At these periods I have often been involuntarily brought under the influence of a train of thought and feeling peculiar to the season and the situation, but never more powerfully so than on the present occasion.
The night was moonless, but not dark. The stars increased in number and variety as the evening advanced, until the whole firmament was overspread with luminaries of every magnitude and brilliancy. The agitation of the sea had subsided, and the waters around us appeared to unite with the indistinct though visible horizon. In the heaven and the ocean, all powers of vision were lost, while the brilliant lights in the one