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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64



During the latter portion of the last century the accounts published by Wallis, Cook, and other voyagers in the South Seas, the visit to London of Omai, the Society Islander, concerning whom Cowper wrote, the tragic death of the great navigator himself, and the mutiny of the Bounty, kepi public attention in England fixed upon the Pacific, and the state of the Polynesian Islanders. A strong desire was expressed for the religions improvement of the natives, and the London Missionary Society, at that time but newly formed, gratified that desire by sending away eighteen missionary clergymen to the Society Islands. On March 3rd, 1797, tie Duff, the first missionary vessel, anchored in Matarai Bay, Tahiti, whew Cook, in 1768, had observed the transit of Venus.

When the history of the Pacific is written, the year 1797 will be noted for the actual commencement of civilization therein. Previously to that date the islanders had been taught to fear rather than admire modern civilization. The teachings of the Spaniards can hardly be called civilized. Between 1668 and 1681 the island of Guam, in the Ladrones, was nearly depopulated by them of its 40,000 inhabitants, a notable instance of Spanish dealings in the Pacific. Our missionaries have carried out a totally different policy from that formerly pursued by the Spaniards. From 1797 to the present date, the loss of life has been always on the missionary side. Quietly and bravely have English missionaries advanced, reclaiming island after island from barbarism—at what cost only the missionary records can tell—until there are few islands now left which have not yielded to their gentle influence. No monument exists to commemorate this noble work, or to tell of the many lives which it has cost. Cannibalism, immolation, suicide, idolatry, infanticide, tabu, polygamy, domestic slavery, tribal and internecine strife, have all been conquered. The rising generation is almost entirely ignorant of the dark deeds of its predecessors.

The London Missionary Society commenced the work of planting missionaries simultaneously at the Society, Marquesas, and Friendly Islands, The Wesleyan Missionary Society began its labours in the Friendly Islands: in 1826, and in Fiji in 1835. The Church of England (or rather the Society! for the Propagation of the Gospel) about the year 1850 directed its attention to the Loyalty, New Hebrides, Banks, Santa Cruz, and Solomon groups] or, briefly, Melanesia. In 1820 the American Board of Foreign Mission took charge of the Sandwich Islands. The Presbyterian clergy are endeavouring to Christianize the New Hebrides. Roman Catholic missionaries page 63 have spread themselves wherever they thought that their labours were required, and two or three local bodies have been formed for the especial purpose of assisting the cause. It would be unfair to mention conspicuously the name of any single clergyman. All have zealously devoted their energies, and many their lives, to the great work of Christianity and Civilization—Williams, Gordon, Baker, Patteson, are almost household words. Too much praise cannot ho bestowed upon missionary labour in the Pacific.