A Missionary View of the Sandwich Islands…

As a residence of eight years in the Society and Sandwich islands, has afforded me an opportunity to becoming familiar with many of the scenes and usages described in the voyages of Captain James Cook. I have often been struck with the faithfulness with which they are uniformly portrayed in the inferences they draw, and the reasons they assign, they are sometimes mistaken; but in the description of what they saw and heard, there is throughout a degree of accuracy, seldom if ever exceeded in accounts equally minute and extended. Still their acquaintance with the islands and the people was superficial, and the state of society which they witnessed was different from what generally existed. An event as important and surprising as their arrival, the ships and the foreigners, the color, dress, arms, language, manners, of the latter, whom they regarded at first as superior beings, so powerfully affected the minds of the natives, that the ordinary avocations of life were for a time suspended. The news of such an event rapidly spread through the islands, and multitudes flocked from every quarter to see the return of Orono, or the motus as they called their ships. The whole island was laid under requisition, to supply their wants, or contribute to their satisfaction. Hence the immense quantity of provisions presented by Taraiopu; the dances, with which they were entertained. The effect also produced on the minds of those early visitors, by what they saw during their transient stay among the islands, was heightened by all the attractions of novelty, and all the complacency which such discoveries naturally inspire.(Ellis)

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(These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

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