Missionary's Sermon; with some Reflections
Some degree of order at length restored, the service was continued, by singing. The choir was composed of twelve or fifteen ladies of the mission, occupying a long bench to the left of the pulpit. Almost the entire congregation joined in.
The first air fairly startled me; it was the brave tune of Old Hundred, adapted to a Tahitian psalm. After the graceless scenes I had recently passed through, this circumstance, with all its accessories, moved me forcibly.
Many voices around were of great sweetness and compass. The singers, also, seemed to enjoy themselves mightily; some of them pausing, now and then, and looking round, as if to realize the scene more fully. In truth, they sang right joyously, despite the solemnity of the tune.
The Tahitians have much natural talent for singing; and, on all occasions, are exceedingly fond of it. I have often heard a stave or two of psalmody, hummed over by rakish young fellows, like a snatch from an opera.
With respect to singing, as in most other matters, the Tahitians widely differ from the people of the Sandwich Islands; where the parochial flocks may be said rather to bleat than sing.
The psalm concluded, a prayer followed. Very considerately, the good old missionary made it short; for the congregation became fidgety and inattentive as soon as it commenced.
A chapter of the Tahitian Bible was now read; a text selected; and the sermon began. It was listened to with more attention than I had anticipated.
Having been informed, from various sources, that the discourses of the missionaries, being calculated to engage the attention of their simple auditors, were, naturally enough, of a rather amusing description to strangers; in short, that they had much to say about steamboats, lord mayors coaches, and the way fires are put out in London, I had taken care to provide myself with a good interpreter, in the person of an intelligent Hawaiian sailor, whose acquaintance I had made.
Now, Jack, said I, before entering, hear every word, and tell me what you can as the missionary goes on.
Jacks was not, perhaps, a critical version of the discourse; and at the time, I took no notes of what he said. Nevertheless, I will here venture to give what I remember of it; and, as far as possible, in Jacks phraseology, so as to lose nothing by a double translation.
Good friends, I glad to see you; and I very well like to have some talk with you to-day. Good friends, very bad times in Tahiti; it make me weep. Pomaree is gone the island no more yours, but the Wee- wees (French). Wicked priests here, too; and wicked idols in womans clothes, and brass chains.1
Good friends, no you speak, or look at thembut I know you wontthey belong to a set of robbersthe wicked Wee-wees. Soon these bad men be made to go very quick. Beretanee ships of thunder come and away they go. But no more bout this now. I speak more by by.
Good friends, many whale-ships here now; and many bad men come in em. No good sailors livingthat you know very well. They come here, cause so bad they no keep em home.
My good little girls, no run after sailorsno go where they go; they harm you. Where they come from, no good people talk to emjust like dogs. Here, they talk to Pomaree, and drink arva with great Poofai.2
Good friends, this very small island, but very wicked, and very poor; these two go together. Why Beretanee so great? Because that island, good island, and send mickonaree3to poor kannaka.4 In Beretanee, evey man rich: plenty things to buy; and plenty things to sell. Houses bigger than Pomarees, and more
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