« PreviousContinue »
ceived two notes; one from the captain of a ship that had just arrived at Papetoai, and the other from a missionary named Orsmond, who had come in this captain's ship. The king was delighted with this news, and went soon afterwards to welcome the new teacher. The three brethren, also, were very anxious to see Mr. Orsmond, and went to Papetoai for a short time. They found that he had brought his wife with him. Mr. and Mrs. Orsmond chose to stay for the present at Papetoai, and the three brethren soon returned to their labours at Afareaitu.
The brethren, as well as the natives, employed themselves in building the new houses. They paved the floor of the printing-house with stones. Whence do you think they procured these stones ? From a neighbouring marae, which had contained pieces of pavement, on which the worshippers had knelt before the altars. These polished stones were dug up, and placed where God's word was to be printed. Thus Satan was robbed, and God was honoured.
In the beginning of June the printing-house was finished. Its sides were composed of boards: and it had two glass windows, which had been brought from England, and which, perhaps, were the first ever seen in the islands.
A message was now sent to inform the king
POMARE'S SETTING OF THE TYPES.
that all was ready for printing. He soon arrived, accompanied by a few favourite chiefs, and a multitude of people. The first book that was to be printed, was the Ba-ba, or spellingbook; for though some hundreds had once been printed, both in England and at Port Jackson, there were not nearly enough in the islands.
Pomare looked with delight at the leaden letters, or types, placed in divisions. Mr. Ellis asked him whether he would like to set them himself. Pomare gladly consented to begin the work. As the alphabet was to be printed on the first page of the Baba, it was easy for Pomare to take a large letter out of each division, and set it in its place. He next placed the small letters, and then a few short words, and thus finished setting the first page of the spelling-book. But as it was necessary that many pages should be prepared, before the press could be used, Pomare was obliged to wait about a fortnight, before he could have the pleasure of striking off the first sheet.
At last he came, attended by two favourite chiefs, and followed by a crowd of curious, eager people. The king and his chiefs made their way through the people, that stood round the door, and entered the printing-house. The door was then closed, and the window next the sea darkened, for the king did not wish to be
seen, and the people did not behare with the politeness, which even English children are taught to show, not knowing it was rude to peep in at windows,
The king playfully told his companions not to laugh at him, if he should not print in the right manner. Mr. Ellis then put in his hand a soft ball dipped in ink, and told him to strike it upon the leaden letters. He then placed a sheet of clean paper upon the letters, and directed the king to turn the handle of the press. When Pomare had turned it, the paper was removed from beneath the press; the king and his friends immediately rushed forwards to see what effect had been produced. When they beheld the large and black letters on the paper, they cried out together with wonder and delight. The sheet was then shown to the crowd outside, who immediately raised a general shout of joy. The king printed two more sheets, and then continued till sunset, watching the brethren at the work. When he returned to his tent, he took with him the sheets he had printed.
Almost every day as he passed the printinghouse, on his way to his favourite bathingplace, he called in to watch the printing for a short time. The people also were continually peeping in at the windows, and through the crevices of the walls, often exclaiming, “O Britain, land of skill !"
DESIRE FOR SPELLING-BOOKS.
In less than a month, the spelling-books were printed off, and distributed among the people. The natives showed great anxiety to obtain these little books. The missionaries received a number of plantain leaves rolled up, from Tahiti; when they unrolled them, they found each contained a request for spellingbooks, written on the leaves.
The people generally used plantain leaves instead of paper to write notes upon, but as the leaves soon withered, they were only fit for notes.
The brethren knew that the people were not only desirous to possess books, but that they longed to read the contents, for many of them had copied their neighbours' books, on pieces of cloth or bark, having used a reed for a pen, and purple juice for ink. They were also very anxious to know the meaning of what they read, in their little books of extracts from the Bible; and whenever the brethren entered their houses, the natives had generally some questions to ask them, which the brethren were delighted to answer.
How pleasant it would be if tracts and good books, and especially the Bible, were valued as much in England ! But the full soul loatheth the honeycomb. We have so many books, and have had them so long, that we are tempted to forget what precious gifts they are.
Mrs. Ellis and Mrs. Crook made covers for
VISITERS FROM THE PEARL ISLANDS.
the spelling-books, and sold the covers to the natives in exchange for food. Two roots of taro, or a bunch of bread-fruit, were the price of a cover. The spelling-books had not been sold, for fear of discouraging the people from learning to read.
Amongst the persons who received spellingbooks was a company of poor strangers, who had come some time before to Tahiti, and who had followed Pomare to Eimeo. They came from the Pearl Islands, which were quite flat, and which produced nothing but cocoa nuts, and they themselves were more rude in their manners than the Tahitians. They had been very wicked, and had almost destroyed their nation by their wars. But now they had cast away their idols, and worshipped the true God, and had built three chapels in one of their islands. No Englishman had instructed them, but one of their own countrymen, who had learned to read in Tahiti, had gone back to his native country, and taught his people. These poor strangers were longing for books, and more teachers. Pomare had been very kind to them, and had offered to let them live in Tahiti, but they were anxious to return to their native islands, as soon as they had procured the books they wanted. As they were not satisfied with spelling-books alone, many of them continued to live among Pomare's tents, and often visited