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QUEEN TETUA'S DEATH.
At nine o'clock in the morning of July 21st, 1806, Tetua died, aged about twenty-four years. Alas! though she had known the missionaries for nine years, she died a stranger to the true God.
The king appeared unhappy at her death, and so did several of his servants. Idia and a few other women cut themselves with sharks' teeth upon the occasion. The body was put in a canoe the same day, and taken to Pare to be embalmed, and placed under a shed in a little court. All the things the queen had used in her lifetime were placed near her—such as her cups, combs, dishes, baskets, and tomahawk; but they were broken, in order to prevent people taking them away. Her relations brought her food every day, and as they laid it on the altar, they offered a short prayer to tell her, that there were fish and cocoa-nuts for her spirit.
While these events were occurring, the brethren ceased not to labour, as we have before described, in teaching the people, and making journeys round the island. As they were cast down at seeing no person turn to God, in May they appointed a day for fasting and prayer. On this day they met together four times for prayer, and implored God to pardon their sins, and to enable them to bring some of the poor heathen to a knowledge of himself.
Mr. Davies had taken particular pains to teach the children in Tahiti. He had walked much about the island on purpose to find them; and Mr. Scott and Mr. Wilson had sometimes done the same. They had all found great difficulty in getting the children to come round them to be taught. At first, the children were shy, and frightened; and afterwards they were idle; and as they liked play better than learning, they often ran, and hid themselves, when they saw their teachers coming. The grownup people did the children a great deal of harm by their bad advice. They told them to say to the missionaries, "You come very often, but what property do you give us? If you do not bring us beads, pins, or fishhooks, we will not be taught. What is the good of teaching us? It only tires us! You say you pity us; why do you not give us cloth?"
These poor little children did not know the value of their souls. How could they know it, when their parents taught them only to care for things!
TEACHING THE CHILDREN.
The grown-up people often sat by the children, while they were being taught, and talked to them, or even whispered nonsense into their ears, to make them laugh, or contradicted all the missionaries said, and told the children it
You will, perhaps, wish to know what kind
of instruction the missionaries gave to the children. They could not teach them to read, for the children would not look at their letters: so they only taught them to repeat a short catechism by heart. Some of the children at last learned this catechism perfectly, and even remembered it, after not having been taught for several months. This was some encouragement to the brethren, and induced them to make a longer catechism.*
They found, however, that they wasted much time in going to look for the children, especially since the king's return to Tahiti: for now there were feasts continually given in different places, and the children were always going to these feasts; and some of the boys became servants to the king, and followed him about from place to place.
THE FIRST SCHOOL.
In November, 1806, Mr. Davies opened a school in the new house, and invited the boys, who lived near, to attend it on three evenings in the week. The boys, that helped the brethren
* It may be doubted, whether the mode of teaching the missionaries adopted, was either the most attractive, or the most effectual, that might have been pursued. Learning answers by heart is irksome to children, and does not open their understandings. The lesson is usually repeated with as little consideration of the meaning, as a parrot is capable of. Had the missionaries only related the history of our Lord to the children, and asked them questions upon the subject, is it not probable that a greater interest would have been excited?
to cook, were among the scholars. The children liked the school so much, that a month afterwards, they asked Mr. Davies to teach them oftener. He agreed to instruct them every morning. These boys learned to read and to write. They were taught first to make letters on the sand by the sea-shore. The missionaries prepared some spelling-books for them, and some histories from the Bible, and sent the books to England to be printed, and in the mean while they used in the school little books they had written out. This school cheered the missionaries' spirits, because the boys seemed to take a pleasure in learning.
Another event happened at the end of the year, which gave the brethren some relief. They had not heard from their friends for five years-not since the Royal Admiral had brought the new missionaries. At length a vessel arrived with letters and parcels. Their joy, however, was mixed with vexation; for the clothes that had been sent to them were so much injured by the sea-water, that many of them could not be used at all.
The brethren, knowing Pomare's covetous disposition, sent him some of the things they had received, and wrote him the following
PRESENTS TO THE KING.
"This is the property that is left for you, ten hatchets, ten scissors, ten looking-glasses; six razors. They are from all the missionaries. The cloth is rotten.
Soon afterwards they received the following note from the king.
"I am greatly pleased with your present. "POMARE."
As you know, that there was no word for "thanks" in Tahitian, Pomare could not have expressed his gratitude, even if he had felt any.
By this ship there arrived a letter for Pomare from the Directors of the London Missionary Society. It was in English, and was read to Pomare by the brethren in Tahitian. Pomare was able to answer the letter himself. He wrote a long letter in Tahitian, the brethren translated it into English, and then Pomare copied the English, and sent both the Tahitian letter and the English letter to the Directors.*
* These letters are now to be seen in the London Missionary Society Museum, in Bloomfield Street, Finsbury Square.