4th. November 1851: Rev. Joseph Waterhouse at Levuka complains “popist chameleon allows the eating of human flesh, indecent songs, gross immorality”

Joseph Waterhouse, Ovalau, Feejee, 12th. Dec 1851

Messrs. G M Waterhouse,
& T. Padman,
Adelaide

My dear Brothers,

There is an opportunity of sending you a few lines wh. I eagerly embrace: but I must be brief.

We are well, but rather poorly as we have had a fortnight of most oppressive weather. All the Mission families are tolerable, thank God.

War is still the fashion in Feejee. Heathenism is dominant, Christianity merely retains it own, Popery is spreading its net.

Here the popist chameleon allows the eating of human flesh, indecent songs, & gross immorality: it burns the bible & injures the property of the English missionaries! Is popery changed? Come to Feejee & see. It has fairly roused my Protestant blood. Let us hear no more about Popery being improved; Popery in Great Britain only yields to the Spirit of the Age, in Feejee it is darkness and blackness itself. You remember Mr. Calvert & I introduced sheep here. We sent some to Lakemba; the priests’ servant (a Frenchman) killed two of them out of sheer malice, I fear. They have also desired the Xtns to burn their Testaments! They are striving hard to destroy Feejee. They have just left one here, where I am now stationed, a new Circuit. Father Matthew (a Frenchman, they are all French) is a regular Jesuit, smooth tongued, & doing evil that good may come. The Apostle says of such “their damnation is just”. I could tell you of many of his lies, but I forbear. Let us pray for him.

We have just had a case wh. I think demands the attention of the British Government. It is customary in Feejee to kill men on the launching of a new Canoe. This practice has been discontinued in Lakemba for some years. Last month a Canoe built in Lakemba for Bau was launched when the Bau people who had gone to fetch the canoe seized a Christian native, (one of the our press-men) and killed him. They knew the man well & knew that he was our servant, & that he was the most useful man we had employed in the Printing department, – he was also dressed in European Clothes, – and yet they murdered him by clubbing as he was walking to get on board a boat to return home to Vewa ! It is the next step to the murder of a Missionary & all the natives regard it as such. If it goes unpunished, it is to be feared that the Natives will then take thenext step in order to disr uproot Christianity. Of course we came prepared to lose our lives, but when such an idolatrous custom is about to be re-established in such a degraded & savage country, does it not become an enlightened country to step in & forbid it? A positive word or sentence from the Capn. of a War ship or steamer would do it, but those who visit us will not take it upon themselves to speak with authority. For my part I sink or swim with the Christian part of the population of poor cannibal Feejee.

I suppose that when the “Wesley” arrives I shall have lots of letters from Archers, Reynolds, Eades, &c and all friends. Please excuse me to them all. They must pity me & write individually. I will try & send a general letter now & then; I really cannot do more.

We need the prayers of the Church more than ever. Prayer is the best Missionary weapon. As for poor me, I cannot do anything without it. The Lord seems to hear me in the most trifling matters that I take to Him. Bless & praise His holy name. We are aiming at salvation for ourselves & those who hear us. Oh! My dear brothers! how is it with you? Let the wicked forsake his way. There is but one way that God has appointed. We men can easily make a path that leads to destruction. Be in earnest. Be in earnest. Know your sins forgiven !

But I find I must conclude. The boat is going & the vessel is 100 miles off, so I send it, as I always have to do, at a venture. Remember to write care of New Zealand & of S. Hebblewhite, Sydney, both ways.

God bless you all. Pray much for us. With love to yourselves, to Mary Ann, Lydia, & all the little ones, with a kiss from both of us, in wh. love Bessy heartily joins, & with kind remembrance to all friends, I am, My dear brothers

Yours affectionately,
Joseph Waterhouse

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