By John Williams
According to John Williams' meticulous documentation of his travels, this 1837 quantity bargains an perception into the perilous lifetime of a missionary within the early 19th century. the writer, an ironmonger by way of exchange, set sail for the South Sea Islands in 1817 with the purpose of spreading the gospel and introducing smooth expertise to the quarter. in addition to recounting the common threats to his safeguard from indignant natives, conflict, traditional catastrophe and illness, Williams offers certain surveys of the peoples, languages and common atmosphere he encountered and describes with nice exuberance and humour 'the impact made upon barbarous humans by way of their first sex with civilised man'. Made extra poignant by way of the author's loss of life by the hands of cannibals simply years after the book's book, this is often a rare account of the perseverance and ingenuity of a guy who grew to become a hero and martyr for the Protestant missionary circulation.
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Extra resources for A Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands: With Remarks Upon the Natural History of the Islands, Origin, Languages, Traditions, and Usages of the Inhabitants
I am familiar with one tradition, in which there is a genealogical account of the reigning family for thirty generations, which is also equally silent upon the subject of new formations. Another error in reference to corals I find entertained, is this; many persons suppose that all coral insects work until they reach the surface of the water, which is not the case, for you seldom find a piece of branching madrepore, of brain, or any other coral, however deep in the water, above two or three feet in height.
By an invasion of a large fleet of canoes, laden with warriors, from a neighbouring island, about three years prior to our arrival, the population, previously considerable, was, by the dreadful massacre that ensued, reduced to about 300. Mitiaro is a still smaller island, of the same description. It lies about twenty miles north-west of Mauke. By famine and invasion this island IS DESCRIPTION OF THE ISLANDS. has likewise been almost depopulated; there not being 100 persons remaining. Atiu is a larger island than either Mauke or Mitiaro.
Captain Beechy, of his majesty's ship the Blossom, in his voyage to the Pacific, supplied some valuable information calculated to correct this error. And here I may assert, that in all the range of my travels in the South Seas, I have perceived no animal agency at work adequate to the formation of a reef or island of any extent, within a period of many thousands of years. * Captain Beechy visited an island, supposed to be an elevated reef, eighty feet high; Mr. Stuchbury and myself have visited Rurutu, the rocks of which are of the same material, and are a hundred and fifty feet in height, and the calcareous rocks of Mangaia are about three hundred feet.