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Zealand. To this race belong the inhabitants of Micronesia. The Melanesians—found on the Fiji Islands, New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, the Loyalty and Solomon groups, New Britain and New Guinea—are akin to the African, having the woolly hair and physiognomy of the negro races. They are lower down in the scale of civilization than their brown neighbors, being, as a rule, cannibals—fierce, warlike, treacherous and intractable. It was among these people that John Williams, Bishop Pattison, the Gordons and other missionaries lost their lives. But, degraded as they are, the entire history of Christian missions can show no greater transformation than has taken place in the Fiji Islands, as the result of English Wesleyan missions.
The islands inhabited by the black Polynesians enter like a wedge among those inhabited by the brown race, the apex being the Fiji Islands. The accepted theory, until recently, was that the brown Polynesians belong to the Malay race. Later investigations by Judge Fornander, of the Hawaiian Islands, and certain German scholars, render it probable that they may be a branch of the Caucasian race. It is thought that by means of their languages, traditions and mythologies, the Polynesians can be traced back from their present abode, step by step, through the island groups of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, to the Indian Peninsula, and onward to the centre table-lands ot Asia, whence the Caucasian races, in the beginning of history, emigrated westward and southward. In those groups in which the different islands are near enough to allow of communication, even though comparatively infrequent, there is usually a common language; where widely separated, different languages have been developed. Most of the various dialects abound in vowel sounds, two consonants rarely coming together in the middle of a word, and all words ending in vowels.
Religious beliefs and observances varied with different groups, yet had certain characteristics in common. The people were not idolaters; they believed in the'existence of spiritual beings, whose power they feared, and whose anger they sought in many ways to avert. But we never found any conception of a supreme Deity, or a belief in one spirit surpassing all others in power. They believed that the spirit of man survived his death, and lived on in one of two places or states, one more desirable than the other, but with no difference based on clearly defined desert or moral character. On some of the islands there was a regular priesthood, with rites of worship; on others, little more than certain superstitious observances. They prayed to spirits, and offered gifts and oblations. Their traditions and mythologies were usually only a confused jumble, and their religious beliefs seemed to have little influence on their character.
(Rev. Robert W. Logan, Congregational Missionary to Micronesia.)
To the east of the Marshalls, between latitudes 2 deg. and 5 deg. S., and longitudes 170 deg. and 176 deg. W., are the Phoenix, Swallow, Gardner, Enderberg, Sidney, Hull, Birui, Arthur, Wilkes, and some smaller islets and atolls, sometimes known as the PhoenixJ^roup.
Like many, they are now of no special importance, in size or products. They but await the occupation and development of the more civilized races, to render them of great value.
These islands, atolls, and islets although something over a hundred in number, are so similar in nearly every respect to the Marshall and Gilbert groups, that a description would be but a repetition of nearly all that has been written of the latter islands.
Another small group that might be placed under this head, if we except climatic and geographic differences are the Kermadec islands. Lying to the north and east of New Zealand, between latitudes 30 deg. and 33 deg. S., and about 177 deg. and 179 degrees W. longitude, might prove of great value, by occupation. Sunday, Macauley and Curtis islands are the principal in this little cluster.
NAVIGATOR (SAMOA) ISLANDS.
Samoa, the native name of the Navigator group, comprises ten islands that are inhabited, or of any note, with some smaller islets, of no present interest.
Savaii, Opolu, Tutuila, Mauono, Apolima, Mauna, Olosenga and Of'u are the principal, for a better idea and description of which I have had to refer to Mr. Reed of the Australian Customs, and the United States Exploring Expedition, under Commodore Wilkes, who surveyed them in 1839.
They are located between latitudes 12 deg. 53 min. and 15 deg. 57 min. south, and between longitudes 168 deg. 6 min. and 178 deg. 21 min. west, with an area I have set down at 1,650 square miles (although some authorities do not allow over 1,100 to 1,200 square miles), with a total population of 35,000. The modern name of the group was given to them by the French navigator, Bougainville, who visited them in 1768. They were visited, also, in after years by the ill-fated la Perouse, in 1787, who had a battle with the natives, losing a good many men in the conflict.
The islands are evidently of volcanic origin, but no traces of active eruptions are found at present. In 1867 a curious submarine convulsion took place in the strait between the islands of Mauna and Olosenga. The eruption lasted for about two weeks, ejecting mud, sand and water in large volumes to a great height. After the convulsion, which in no way disturbed the adjoining islands, the sea flowed peacefully over the volcanoes' watery tomb. Soundings taken at the time showed no apparent variation from the usual depth of water in the strait.
The people are among the straight-haired races of the South Sea. With a fertile soil, blessed with an abundant rainfall, and schools and churches in every village, the group may safely be classed among the garden-spots of the Pacific.
Savaii is the most western island of the Samoan group, and is also the largest, being forty miles in length and twenty in breadth. It is not, however, as populous or as important as some of the others. It differs from any of the others in appearance, for its shore is low, and the ascent thence to the center is gradual, except where the cones of a few extinct craters are seen. In the middle of the island a peak rises, which is almost continually enveloped in the clouds, and is the highest land in the group. On account of these clouds angles could not be taken for determining its height accurately, but it certainly exceeds 4,000 feet;
Another marked difference between Savaii and the other larger islands is the want of any permanent streams, a circumstance which may be explained, notwithstanding the frequency of rains,, by the porous nature of the rock (vesicular lava), of which it is chiefly composed. Water, however, gushes out near the shore in copious springs, and when heavy and continued rains have occurred, streams are formed in the ravines, but these soon disappear after the rains have ceased.
The coral reef attached to the island is interrupted to the south and west, where the surf beats full upon the rocky shore. There are in consequence but few places where boats can land, and only one harbor for ships, that of Mataatua; even this is unsafe from November to February, when the northwesterly gales prevail. The soil is fertile, and was composed in every part of the island that was visited, of decomposed volcanic rock and vegetable mold. Upolu is ten miles to the eastward of Savaii, and is next in size. It is about forty miles long and thirteen broad. It has a main ridge extending east and west, broken here and there into sharp peaks and hummocks. From this main ridge a number of smaller ridges and broad gradual slopes run down to a low shore encircled by a coral reef, interrupted here and there by channels which form the entrances to safe and convenient anchorages for small vessels. At, Apia the reef extends across a good-sized bay, and forms a safe and commodious harbor for large ships, with