AMONGST THE ISLANDS.
, SOME OF THE GROUPS OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC. SUNDAY ISLAND, IN THE KERMADEC GROUP— TONGATABU AND VAVAO,IN THE TONGAN, OR. FRIENDLY, —OPOLO, IN TUB BAMOAN, OR NAVIGATOR'S, GROUP—TAHITI, IN THE SOCIETY GROUr—RAROTONOA, IN THE HARVEY, OR COOK GROUP. NO. IV. [from cur TRAVELLING CORRESPONDENT.] THE TONGAN OR FRIENDLY ISLANDS. -TONGATABU (SEAT OF GOVERNMENT). The Janet Nicoll left Sunday Island an hour before sunset on Thursday, the Bth July. She encountered the same strong winds and rough seas through to Tongatabn. She rolled frantically— and travelling gear, all adrift in the cabins, rushing backwards and forwards, to the dismay of the inmates. Very little sleep for throe successive nights; no comfort during the day. Had to move with great ciution, holding on most tenaciously ; one slip and away you go, to the peril of life or limb. A lady passenger who had, as she thought, fixed her ohair and ensconced herself securely under the lee of the whoelhouse, with the longboat in its stand as a buttress for her back, was suddenly jerked out of her seat by one of Janet's most frantic roll*, and away sped the chair overboard between the rails of the deck. Well for her that she managed to hold on, or she might have followed the chair. Several of the sheep died, and the -surviving fowls looked dripping, bedraggled, and woful. However, everything hath an end, and so the weary, living martyrdom endured between nunset of Thursday, the Sth, and noon of Sunday, the 11th of July, also came to an end. Early on Sunday morning all eyes brightened as the Janet neared the land, and becoming less frisky, the passengers were enabled to mount the bridge and gaze upon the welcome sight of rocks, hills, woods, and tangled scrub, the tufted cocoanut trees overtopping all. And on this Sunday were the first sensations experienced of an intertropical climate. These wero an agreeable relief after the long continued low atmospheric temperature experienced both at Auckland and throughout the voyage. We neared the island of Tongatabu, and in doe time entered the harbour of Nukualofa by an intricate channel, needing a good look out and skilful navigation. The native pilot boarded us just as we were approaching its most critical bend, and about noon the anchor was let go in eight fathoms, not far from the new wharf, now in course of construction, alongside of which, when finished, all vessels drawing not more than fifteen feet may be safely moored. After luncheon every one went ashore, and were soon dispersed hither and thither, easily making acquaintance, and quite enjoying the use of their legs. Two of the passengers called upon Mr. and Mrs. Shirley Baker, having known them in Auckland. They were cordially welcomed to the royal city of Nukualofa. At three p.m. there was a service at the native church, and, as Mr. and Mrs. Baker were going, they accompanied them. This edifice is native built; light, well ventilated, and not resonant. The natives sang with a will, harmoniously, and in good time, unaccompanied by any instrument. A native minister conducted the service, apparently with emphasis and force. King Georgo, an octogenarian, if not a nonagenarian, greyheaded, but hale for his advanced age, was alone on the opposite side, seated upon one of the benches. Immediately the service had closed, he quietly retired, and was driven home in a buggy. In the evening the usual English service was held, and Mr. Baker asked one of his guests to take it, assuring him that Mr. Roberts, the President of the Tongan College, whose name was on the rota for that evening, would thankfully give place to a visitor. The invitation was accepted, and the preaoher had to face a promiscuous assembly of Europeans and natives, whom curiosity had attracted to hear and see a stranger. His style and matter, whilst unexceptionally scriptural and orthodox, was unusual, yet arrestive, for they held the fired attention of the congregation beyond the usual limit for the discourse. Almost as many had congregated outside around the doors as were inside,, and they heard distinctly. The next day was occupied on shipboard with discharging cargo, and the passengers interested themselves as best they could, walking, calling, and gathering specimens and island curios. We cannot follow them all in their ways aud doings, and so will confine our selves to those of our two friends of yesterday. They landed soon after breakfast, and made a round of calls, notably upon Mr. and Mrs. Baker, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, and Mrs. Watkins, whose husband was away visiting an outlying island upon missionary pastoral work. Mr. Koberts, the President of the Tongan College, is a man singularly well fitted for his post, truly Christian, energetic, clever, well read, accomplished, competent to develop the capacities of the Tongan alumni, to train them to occupy in their future careers posts of honour and responsibility in the government of the diminutive kingdom of Tonga ; and also to prepare those of them having the vocation, to become evangelists or teachers in the Church of Christ. In the afternoon
THE CROWN PRINCE LAIFONI, grandson of the venerable King George, the heir apparent to his throne, a fine, full-faced, stout man, probably under 30 years of age, drove the preacher of the previous evening all through and around this capital city of Nukualofa. It amused the old gentleman, as he sat beside His Royal Highness, who was shoeless, and clad only with shirt and trowsors, jacket, and slouched straw hat, to listen to his broken English, as he replied to questions or spoke of his visits to Wellington and Auckland, the deepest impression and most cherished memory of which found expression in the oft-repeated exclamation, "Plenty of fun there!" His character seemed to lack depth and solidity. When he ascends tlio throne it will tax to the full the capacity, wisdom, and prudence (diplomatic tact) of the then Prime Minister to rein him in and prevent his kicking over the traces. There was no opportunity to interview His Majesty King George,' as he was preparing to leave in one of the Government schooners, to visit some of the more distant islands under his dominion. But one of the passengers, an old settler, resident in the Island of Viivau—a Pakeha-Tongan —long since wedded to a native, for many years familiar with the old man (I beg his pardon, His Majesty), went into the palace, and, shaking hands with his old friend, told him that he had brought him a present of some kava-root that they might quaff a cocoanut full of it together for Aula Lang Syne, or old acquaintance sake. No sooner said than done; the stuff was promptly brewed, and then, as thoy passed the bowl the one to the other, thoy discoursed of matters uppermost in their minds. Mr. and Mrs. Baker most courteously conducted their guests to see THE ROYAL PALACE. There was the dining hall, with telescope table, large solid oak sideboard, and the usual cumbersome chairs, but evidently all for display upon state occasions ! His Majosty dines not there, but, in happiness of soul and contentment of spirit, he takes his meals in hia own private apartment, and the probability is, that he feeds himself with spoon and fingers, as he did in his earlier days, when raiding and harrying upon the adjacent islands, ere yet tho Old World civilisation had managed to impose upon him the ceremony and burden of royal state. The survey of tho royal dwelling inspired a sense of loneliness and desolation 1 The house without inhabitant, tho furniture covered up. Thrones of state for the King and the Crown Prince were in the drawingroom, I hidden under holland coverings. Curtains of real lace, handsome, it is presumed, had been hung to tho windows when the furnishing was in process ; and there they hung, exposed to trade winds and tropical sunshine until their delicate texture began to give way, when, to prevent their dropping in pieces, they were taken down and laid by,—used up, and yet not used, —to be replaced by others home-made, less fragile and less costly. Against the wall of the first landing on the staircase, filling up its entire breadth, stood a life-size portrait of the present Emperor of Germany (Wilhelm IV.) in full military costume, his breast emblazoned with medals, stars, and orders,
He is mounted upon his caparisoned war horse. The picture ia magnificently grand, but ill befits its present habitat. Hung in the spacious hall of a Royal Schlosa in Berlin or at Potsdam, or among the chef d'eeuvres of a national gallery, it might be seen to advantage, but upon a staiicase, in a bad light, with no suitable point de vue, the picture can be seen but not criticised. However, it was a gift from an Imperial nonagenarian to a nonogenarian kinglet, The statecraft of these two venerable monarchs is beyond their own individual control or capacity, the former being under the tutelage of Bismarck, the latter under that of Baker. These men are self-made, of iron will, whom the conjunctive force of circumstance, as well as of character, has thrust to the front and made them historical, the one upon the maximum scale of European politics, foreign and domestic, civil and ecclesiastical, the other upon the minimum scale of Tongan politics, foreign and domestic, civil and ecclesiastical. The parallelism between the two men is not the loss striking because the Teuton has Germany for his fulcrum, and the area of the wide, wide world for his field of action, whilst the energies of the Anglo-Saxon are circumscribed by the extent of his island group. Poor old King George excites commiseration that ho had not been left in his former chieftain simplicity, unencumbered with the paraphernalia of an effete European royalty, which no longer dazzles with its pomp and state, and under which the masses are manifesting symptoms of increased impatience and are preparing to revolt against it. We will now pass from the Royal Palace to
THE ROYAL CHAPEL, still under the guidance of our good friend the Prime Minister. Yea ! It is a fact that the diminutive kingdom of Tonga has, through its Executive, provided its sovereign with a Free Church Temple, elaborately classical and aesthetic in all its appointments, furnishings, and ornaments. Nothing is lacking save the organ, and even this has been ordered— least so it is said—and when it shall have been reared up in its place, the same authority saith that it will be second to none in the southern hemisphere for either beauty or tone. As Mr. Baker invited attention to the beautiful carved work of the pulpit and of its stair balusters, tho remark was ventured "All this must have cost some thousands of pounds, and are you not Mr. Baker, going so fast aud so far ahead of these people, that, when you are removed from this mortal scene, there will be a danger of the whole structure collapsing ?" Mr. B. thought not; but time will show ! If the Prime Minister's life be prolonged to "a good old age," approaching that of his royal prot<sg6, and circumstances permit him to fully develop and consolidate his plans for tho civilisation of the Tongais in the European sense of the term, the danger of the collapse will be lessened ; but, query, will the Tongan3 then de facto be happier or better off? To civilise a people by introducing among them the usages, luxuries, and vanities of the old world, is one thing, to make them true Christians, that is, regenerated, through the word and Holy Spirit of God, is quite another! A people may be highly oivilised, luxurious, cultured and refined, esthetic of taste, connoisseurs in art, and yet not Christian ! And, similarly, they may be truly Christian and consistent in life, yielding forth the fruits of the Spirit, and yet be uncivilised, in the sense of not being luxurious, not cultured and refined, not aesthetic and being ignorant of art. But which is acceptable in tho eyes of Him with whom we have to do? And which should be the work and aim of the God-sent missionary? Lot Scripture auswer. The risen " Head over all things to the church, which is His body," gave the commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every croature. He that belie and is baptised, shall be saved ; but he that believeth not shall be condemned." Such the marching orders of the great "Captain of Salvation," let His missionaries see to it that they obediently abide by them.
In our survey of this really beautiful little chapel-royal it was gratifying to notice the abseuce of all approach to High Church semi-Papal symbolism. The plain and simple communion table had no attempt at propitiatory adornment, no implication of trans* substantiation, neither crosses, pictures, nor statues, censers nor candlesticks, vases nor flowers. Primitive simplicity and beauty ; nothing to distract or wean from the worship of the Father, who can be worshipped only "in spirit aud in truth." On the ono side a royal lodge has been provided for " His Majesty and his aide-de-camp." It is raised some two feet above the flooring of the body of the chapel, and is railed in along the front, and has a private side entrance. Whether it be wise, or well-pleasing in the sight of God, to introduce these distinctions into earthly time-worship may be questioned. It is taught in Holy Writ that "God is no respecter of persons," and in the heavens we are told that, " the last shall bo first, and the first last." But man spoils everything ; and as it ever has been, so will it ever be, until time shall be no more. Ignotus. [To bo continued.]
Permanent link to this item
AMONGST THE ISLANDS., New Zealand Herald, Volume XXIII, Issue 7752, 25 September 1886, Supplement
AMONGST THE ISLANDS. New Zealand Herald, Volume XXIII, Issue 7752, 25 September 1886, Supplement
Using This Item
NZME is the copyright owner for the New Zealand Herald. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence . This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of NZME. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Auckland Libraries and NZME.