August 1, 1842 four English sandalwood ships from New Hebrides at Somosomo to seek Tongan woodcutters; report death of Waterhouse

The Journal of John Williams reported on August 1st, 1842;

Williams by canoe, in starlight, to buy yams: ‘ – Left home a little after midnight for Nasagalou in our canoe intending to purchase yams to set, and return by the next tide. Before I had got my trading finished a messenger came into the village where I was and informed me as well as she could from shortness of breath that I was to return without delay as four English vessels had arrived, one of which was believed to be the Triton. I was not much startled by this information as, from my knowledge of the native habit of exaggeration, I did not credit the report to its full extent’.
Runs barefoot 7 miles: ‘For a moment I hesitated, my shoes being about a mile and a half another way; but having ascertained the nearest route home I started off in the direction pointed out, and after having run over hill and dale for the distance of 7 miles I beheld, with feelings of a mixed and indescribable nature, four vessels near the S.S.W. entrance. I could easily distinguish our own; but was at a loss what to make of the rest. I found on inquiry that they were on their way to the New Hebrides in search of sandalwood, and had called here in hopes of increasing the number of Tonguese natives whom they had on board to serve as woodcutters.
Death of Waterhouse reported: ‘Bro. C. had just returned from the Triton as I finished putting on a change of clothing, and brought us the..painful intelligence that our father, the much respected General Superintendent of these Missions, had gone the way of all flesh. We wept together, and felt that the loss was a great one. Who can supply his place? Who will be so much our father?
Williams sales on Triton: ‘The Triton being in haste we endeavoured to complete our business on shore as speedily as possible and succeeded in getting on board and on our way two or three hours before sunset. Conversed with Capt Buck about New Zealand and Colonial affairs and learnt that Mr Cargill is expected soon’.

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21 June 1840, American whaler Shylock, wrecked on Vatoa Reef, missionary, James Calvert does deal to buy 2100 hogsheads of oil

The American whaler Shylock, was was wrecked on Vatoa Reef on the night of 21 June 1840. The master, first mate, and 16 hands got away in two boats.

Eight men were left on the wreck; but seven managed to get on shore on a jibboom. Lieutenant-Commander Ringgold, of the United States Exploring Expedition, who went down to Vatoa in August 1840, to investigate, says that the derelicts were treated in a kindly manner by the natives of Vatoa who were then under the influence of native Christian teachers. Captain Taber, afraid to land in Fiji, had gone to the Friendly Islands, and returned to Lakemba in the Triton with Thomas Williams and (Wesleyan Missionary) Superintendent Waterhouse. The Shylock at the time of the disaster had a cargo of 2100 hogsheads of oil, of which Calvert bought a quantity at a cheap rate, and shared it with his brethren at Rewa, Vewa and Somosomo.

The Journal Of Thomas Williams, Missionary In Fiji, 1840-1853 By G. C. Henderson, M.a. (Oxon.) Emeritus Professor Of History, Adelaide University. Author Of Sir George Grey: Founder Of Empire In Southern Lands, Fiji And The Fijians” 1845 -1856. In Two Volumes Vol. I Australia Angus & Robertson Ltd, 1931. The original manuscript of The Journal Of Thomas Williams is in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, in two folios, containing 874 pages and about 250,000 words.

April 1844: Wesleyan religious conversion fails in Somosomo and Thomas Williams turns to anthropological research: starts work which will lead to “Fiji and the Fijians”

English Wesleyan missionary, Thomas Williams, in his Journal under date 10 April 1844 he writes: “Commenced the first of a series of chapters on the customs, etc., of Feejee. I labour in concert with Bro. Lyth.”
Missionary turns anthropologist: “This is an important entry. It marks the beginning of a course of careful investigations that ended in the publication of Fiji and the Fijians fourteen years later. Up to the date of this entry Williams had displayed a lively interest in native customs and beliefs, and many valuable observations had been made in his letters to his father, and recorded in his Notes on the Fijians; but it was from April 1844 that he became the man whom Dr Lyth described as “my observant colleague who is always all-eye and all-ear.”
” a born anthropologist”: “The born anthropologist soon realized that he had found congenial work, and every year after this up to the time he left Somosomo found him more and more absorbed in it. That was a piece of rare good fortune for Thomas Williams coming, as it did, so soon after his arrival at Somosomo. There was little chance of doing effective religious work in that Circuit. The natives almost to a man declined to abandon their heathen worship; and had Williams found no other outlet for his energy, his spiritual acquiescence in the will of God, sustaining as it was, would not of itself have saved him from chafing, disappointment and discontent.

A man who needed a work:” To be at peace in his mind Thomas Williams needed not only a spiritual conviction, but also a definite lasting work on which he could exercise the gifts that Nature had bestowed upon him. There was nothing of the dilettante in his nature} the urge to do and to do well was strong within him. Work, continuous work, was necessary even for his bodily health. His medical practice, translation of parts of the Bible, philanthropic work and the voyages he made in canoes helped to fill in time; but intermittent work was not enough. What he needed was some absorbing occupation that had in it the quality of permanence and the prospect of success. Such an occupation he found in anthropological research”.
The Journal Of Thomas Williams, Missionary In Fiji, 1840-1853 By G. C. Henderson, M.a. (Oxon.) Emeritus Professor Of History, Adelaide University Author Of Sir George Grey : Founder Of Empire In Southern Lands, Fiji And The Fijians 1845-1856 In Two Volumes Vol. I Australia Angus & Robertson Ltd,1931. The manuscript is in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, in two folios, containing 874 pages and about 250,000 words.

1849: after three years of warfare at Mbua Bay from 1849 to 1852 fighting ships, big guns and marines ‘indispensable to the missionaries’

G. C. Henderson reported missionary, Thomas Williams’  “history of these three years of warfare at Mbua Bay from 1849 to 1852 is full of instruction for those who think that peace can be attained in this world of conflicting interests and passions simply by pacifist teaching”.
Guns, and the Bible, firm friends: “Among other things it proves that, in the middle of last century in Fiji, British naval officers with their fighting ships, big guns and marines were emissaries of peace quite as truly as the missionaries with their Bible, creed and native agents; and that in times of great suffering and danger their help was indispensable to the missionaries, the  pacifism which he had contended for against Tuikilakila of Somosomo was too superficial, abstract and visionary to be applicable to the turbulent conditions”.
The Journal Of Thomas Williams, Missionary In Fiji, 1840-1853 By G. C. Henderson, M.a. (Oxon.) Emeritus Professor Of History, Adelaide University Author Of Sir George Grey : Founder Of Empire In Southern Lands, Fiji And The Fijians 18s5-1856 In Two Volumes Vol. I Australia Angus & Robertson Ltd, 1931.  The original manuscript of the journal is in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, in two folios, containing 874 pages and about 250,000 words.

July 1839: William Hunt records a cannibal dinner

John Garrett, in his book, “To Live Among the Stars” recorded Wesleyan Christian Missionary views of Fiji.

July 1839:  Missionary William Hunt wrote in his diary;  “From July 1839 Hunt and his family lived at Somosomo on Taveuni, where the Tui Cakau, an elderly warrior and intemperate man-eater, presided over his war-wracked realm of Cakaudrove,where his son, Tui Kilakila, wielded much of the effective military power”
Lyth’s world-view different: Richard Burdsall Lyth, another notable missionary, who was both minister and medical man lived with Hunt through a period of bloodshed and danger at Somosomo. Lyth’s matter-of fact Yorkshire temperament accorded well with Hunt’s.

Missionary personalities: By comparison they found Missionary, Cargill moody;  Missionary, Gross, who suffered at Rewa from severe dysentery, was relatively weak. Hunt’s Somosomo journal astonishes by clear-minded assessments of a world where its author was a stranger. Somosomo gave Hunt the apprenticeship for his later crucially important work on Viwa.

Hunt’s view of Fiji culture: He was far from naive about the impression the Methodists created in Fiji: “The god and the priest are in their opinion so connected as to be one and the same; I asked a person the other day if he knew who Jesus Christ is, and he said yes; I was Jesus Christ and often when we pass the houses the children call after us, Jisu Ruisiti, thinking either that we are pleased when we hear the name or thinking the name belongs to us, most likely both . . .”

Cannibal customs: These were recorded by others in the mission with distraught horror, were to Hunt a matter of calmer consideration; he observed before stepping in to reform. After a battle, he “studied the sacrifice of a captured chief, who was given to the God, cut up and cooked about three or four yards from our fence; I saw the operation which was performed with a skill and dispatch that might be expected from well-instructed cannibals”. I saw a priest sitting in the door of the temple looking at the men who were employed in cooking, etc”.

Permission to go into the temple: On another occasion Hunt went into the bure kalou, the god’s house, to become better acquainted with the religion to which he was presenting an alternative. “We requested permission to go into the temple,” he wrote, “which was granted, and we took our seat near the High Priest and the old King. ‘

Preparations for war: Hunt’ s journal went on to describe the chief’ s prayers before a battle, the presentation of highly prized tabua, whales’ teeth, and coconuts. After the war ended he later laconically reported that the women danced to welcome the fighters home and that “the songs on these occasions are very lewd.” Hunt, Lyth and Thomas Williams, their successor, were on good terms with the priest of Somosomo’ s great war god, and visited his temple.

Death of children of missionaries: Disease affected the mission seriously during its first period. At Somosomo Hannah Hunt’s twelve-day-old baby and one of Mary Anne Lyth’s children died. Cargill’s wife Margaret bore a child who died at Rewa and herself succumbed afterwards to protracted dysentery and haemorrhage. She had been Cargill’s mainstay – one person in Fiji who loved him. Plunged in grief, he sought and gained leave to return to England with his small orphaned girls, against the will of Gross, who thought he should have stayed on. Gross offered to lodge the children in his house if Cargill decided not to go. The two British pioneers of Wesleyan Christianity in Fiji were not easily compatible’.

John Garrett, “To Live Among the Stars” (book reviewed in the Journal of Pacific History, Sept, 1998, by Roderic Lacey) . Geneva/Suva: World Council of Churches in Association with the Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific. 2-8254-0692-9