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July 1838 & May 1839 - Information about the Wallis Island mission addressed to Father Jean-Claude Colin by Father Pierre Bataillon, Wallis

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, January – April 2013

Wallis July 1838 & May 1839
Bataillon, Pierre
Priest, missionary apostolic

Very Reverend Father Superior,
Since my departure from France, I have been content to give you news of myself and to express my respects through intermediaries, but I confess that I have since been remorseful about that and had indeed resolved to offer you my excuses at the first opportunity. I beg you to believe that it was not out of indifference to your worthy person, or for the Society of Mary. God knows the attitude of the least of your children in your regard, and how happy I am to be numbered in a quite special way under the standards of the august queen of heaven and earth. I would not exchange that of a child of Mary for all the titles in the world and I will not cease returning most humble thanks to Our Lord because, while being so kind as to name me among the number of those whom he honours with the glorious name of his favourites – vos autem dixi amicos[1] - he has as well deigned to address to me words of quite special predilection, words which on an earlier occasion he addressed, it could be said, to the first Marist, his beloved disciple – ecce mater tua[2]- ...
You have been informed, very Reverend Superior, either through the letters of the Bishop of Maronea or those of my confrères, of everything that could interest you about our long voyage from France up till our arrival in the mission. I will give you now only those details which may interest you concerning the island where the Bishop left me alone with Brother Joseph, to begin clearing the way on it. You will be pleased, I think, to see a little sketch of the locality of my beloved mission, and to come to know something at least of its character, beliefs, morals and the various customs of these poor people who are in a certain way your children. I will only speak afterwards about things concerning the mission and the missionaries.
The island of Ouvea, the mission field which the Bishop entrusted to me, is called Wallis[3] or Maurelle by the geographers. It is situated at latitude 13º30’ south and at longitude 176º west, pretty well in the middle of the main island-groups of Oceania, those of the Friendly Islands, Fiji or Viti, and the Navigators. I think that British geographers see it as part of the Friendly Islands. It is made up of a main island which is barely 10 leagues [50 km] around and 12 or 15 bigger or smaller islets, which all have some inhabitants. It is not really hilly – the interior is covered in forests. I estimate its population as no more than 3,000. Its people are generally big and fine-looking people, well-proportioned, strong and robust. They are fairly European in appearance, only their skin is a bit coppery in colour. They generally have little in the way of a beard, their hair is black and curly; both men and women wear it short and well cared for. Children and young people of both sexes have their heads shaven and have only one or two tufts of hair over one or both ears. They yellow these tufts by burning them with lime made from coral, which gives them a slightly savage look. All the men, with only a few exceptions, are tattooed from the knees to the waist. They have this operation done when they are 18 or 20 years old; it is sometimes fatal for some, but it is a great occasion for them and this event celebrated with great festivities, especially when the young men belong to noble families.
With the exception of children up to 6 or 7 years old, they all have something to at least cover their nakedness, the least is a belt made of leaves; they only wear it for going bathing, or fishing, or again when they are working in the forest. Everywhere else they wrap their bodies decently with very fine and skilfully made mats, and more often as well with what they call their gantu[4] or tapa. It is a garment made from the bark of a shrub they cultivate, and is fairly like a very large hemp plant, very smooth and upright; they then stick together all these little pieces so as to make from them a large one, which is sometimes up to 60 ells [1-2 metres] in length and 3 in width; they paint it afterwards in red and neat colours; the whole thing is fairly much like a large piece of wallpaper, lightly stuck together. This work is almost the sole occupation of women. They are anxious to have it ready beforehand, so as to be able to provide it for the whole family if some celebration comes up; so the island re-echoes continually with the noise they make in beating their pieces of bark; it’s a really precious double resource for the island.
These people have a natural interest in work which is very admirable. The women show it in the fabric of their tapa, and the men in the work of making their spears, their clubs, their huge nets, in the construction of their canoes and their houses and the cultivation of the plants that feed them. Nowadays they have more tools to work with; since ships have been coming to these island groups, there is hardly a household which does not own at least an axe, a sort of spade, with a few knives, razors and chisels; but it is incomprehensible how, beforehand, they could, just with sharp stones or seashells, cut and fashion great trees to build their houses and canoes
[A note by the writer at the foot of the page]
These are dugout trees 50 to 60 feet in length, which are in the middle the size of a huge barrel, and which lessen and rise a bit towards their extremities; one of which is smaller and shorter than the other and serves it as a balance. On the middle of these two trees placed parallel and 6 or 7 feet apart, a solid platform is built which takes up about a third of their length. On it is built a little house; then, with the help of a rudder, a mast and a sail made of mats, these people go and seek their fortune on the seas. When a tree big enough to make each canoe in one piece cannot be found, which happens quite often, the same effect is achieved by giving planks the necessary shapes and lashing them to each other by ropes.
[4 cont]
which lack nothing in strength, convenience and even elegance; because they have double canoes which can carry more than 100 people and with which they can travel from one island group to another. And their houses
[A note by the writer at the foot of the page]
They are somewhat shaped like an umbrella, which instead of a support in its centre, has four of them placed squarely in the middle of its slope and whose shape would be raised 3 or 4 feet from the ground. They are covered with leaves sewn together so as to last 3 years without in any way allowing rain to come through. They raise a little the ground covered by this sort of umbrella, then pile up leaves on it, on which they place beautiful mats made from coconut palm branches. These houses are generally built on the edge of the sea or only a little distance from it, so as to be removed from the stifling heat of the interior of the island and particularly from the importunities of the mosquitoes which swarm there and which are a torment for the people living there. The furnishings common to each house are a fine kava bowl, a club, strips of wood, one or two big bundles of tapa, several sleeping mats, carefully rolled up and hung from above, a few well-woven baskets in which are found oil, combs and other toilet items, necklaces made from whalebone and several fans. You can find, as well, in some houses, one or two muskets; the King and one or two other chiefs have about half a dozen of them, a young man has 15 of them and a lot of powder and cartridges – and he compares himself to Bonaparte, whom he had heard of well before our arrival.
[4 cont]
especially those which are for gatherings and in which feasts are celebrated, are able to resist the strongest winds and even hold nearly 300 people. Apart from houses for dancing, there is, in each village, a little house solely dedicated to the divinity of the village, who when returning from the night, wants to rest a little during the day. The criminals are there in a secure place. They are set free every year and that involves as many celebrations as there are houses. Each village has as well a house for burying the dead. They are placed there in mounds – most of them walled round and the others surrounded by a hedge of shrubs so that no animal can get in there. They are maintained amazingly well. Apart from looking after their houses, the women are responsible for everything to do with clothing, including the growing and care of the plants used in making them. The men are responsible for everything concerning eating. So they are responsible for fishing and the cultivation of all the plants that feed the people. Provisions are plentiful and, it can be said, good in quality. Apart from pigs
[Note at the foot of the page]
They have always had poultry and pigs, but the sort they have now is European and much superior; they have also received from Europe the cat and the [pigeon privé], which they did not have before.
[4 cont]
poultry and fish of every sort, they also have yams (Its stem is like that of the bean, but it climbs much higher.) which are big and long potatoes of superior quality, the taro (This plant is like the European carrot in its root and leaves, but is very superior to it.) , which is a delicious root crop, the breadfruit (This admirable fruit grows on a tree which can be compared to a pear tree in height and length of life; its bark produces a thread which can be used to make magnificent nets. The fruit is the size of a small lemon. It needs no preparation; it is enough to cut it in quarters and put it in the oven.), which at the right time of year and when well cooked really tastes like a brioche; the banana (Imagine a huge grape, sweet the seeds would have the size and shape of a little cucumber,[5] and you will have an idea of a bunch of bananas. A stem produces only one, but it is sometimes loaded with a hundred bananas. When the bananas are picked, the plant dies, leaving shoots at its foot. Its leaf is up to 5 or 6 feet in length and almost two in width. People use them to wrap food when it is cooked.), which in no way is inferior to the sugared pear of Europe; the coconut (It is a fairly big tree which grows very tall, it has only a trunk and no branches. At its top, and only at its top, it has two or three rows of leaves from 10 or 15 or 20 feet long. As it sprouts a new row of leaves at its top, the lower row dies and falls. Between each leaf is a bunch of 15 or 16 coconuts which when mature are like melons. This tree is the only resource on some islands, and is truly remarkable because of the varied uses it can be put to by the people of these islands: its wood which is a very hard is used for building houses; its leaves are used to make roofs, and mats for carpeting floors; its resinous flower is the only or at least the principal torch used in the country. The coconut itself contains up to four glassfuls of a delicious liquid, which, after kava, is the only drink on the island. Its nut is good to eat. If it is grated, it produces juice which is used as a tree dressing for all their dishes, and gives them the taste and colour of milk. If this juice is cooked, it becomes an excellent oil for a lamp. With the coconut shell they make their fine cups for drinking kava, and the jugs they use for carrying water. The husk which covers the shell and which serves it as an envelope is put to various uses, especially for making all the country’s ropes. Those are only the main uses for this providential tree.), which provides food and drink, oil and serves for a multitude of other uses which they know very well how to take advantage of. With all that they make an astonishing variety of dishes which they know how to cook in a very appropriate way in their underground ovens (These ovens are holes whose openings are wide and diminish in width towards the bottom. They are lined with heated stones on which are placed yams, breadfruit and other food which they prepare and wrap up with their sauces in banana leaves, whole pigs etc. They then place over the opening several little branches on which they spread rows of large leaves us spread over with soil. The whole contents are taken out after a half hour, and the provisions are found to be nicely done and well roasted.) Their whole way of cultivation consists of burning the trees in the forest, and making holes [in the ground] into which they put their yams or bananas; they take care to pull away the grass from them from time to time, but they never disturb the earth, the vegetation could in no way grow any more strongly. No more than an eighth of the island is cultivated at any one time. When a piece of land has borne a crop once or twice, they let the forest grow back for 10, 15 or 20 years. These people are in no way regular with their meals. Sometimes they have two or three meals a day, or another occasion one only. The days on which they work the most are those on which they eat least. What keeps them going very much, is, I think, the frequency with which they drink kava. It’s a drink made from the root of a plant with that name, and which is cultivated here with as much care as vines are in Europe. Every morning, and several times during the day, they gather somewhere to chew this root. It is astonishing to see the solemnity and the importance they attach to this task. The root is first of all presented to the highest-ranking person in the gathering. The latter, after greeting the person who offers the gift, and then having thanked him, has it taken, on the basis of honour and friendship, to another noble person in the gathering, who after having studied it for a moment, and having performed the same civilities towards the giver, has it brought back before the presider, who then sends it to the crowd sitting opposite him: it divides it [the root] among its members, takes it with care, and having chewed it in such a way as to reduce it to something like a paste, they put it into a large wooden basin in which they knead it and soak it in a large amount of water. After having collected the fragments which have been ground up, they distribute this liquid to the whole gathering, serving first the presider, then those sitting alongside him, and all those present, following the order and the rank which one of them, called Toufa,[6] points out. When the ceremony has finished, a second, then a third, and fourth and sometimes a fifth and a sixth repetition occurs. I have seen them spend five and even six hours, still seated like tailors, in order to chew and drink kava. This plant is the constant main thing, I would say even the sole necessity for these people: it is with it that they honour their gods, that they make peace with them, that they place themselves in favour with them, it is through it that they achieve reconciliation with their enemies, that they maintain the good will of their king[7] and their chiefs, it is through it that the guilty obtain pardon and their lives. It is with it that they make their alliances, that they obtain healing for their sick ones, that they find anything they have lost. It is only this that can bring down the divinities from their dwelling in the night to converse with mortals. Finally, there is not the most insignificant gathering, the smallest religious or civil action, public or private, not the least visit, in which kava must not preside and be offered around, as a sign of mutual friendship. This spirituous liquor is really beneficial, if it is drunk in moderation, but if drunk to excess, it affects the head, makes one sleepy and enervated. When first seen it arouses the dislike of foreigners, but it doesn’t take long to get used to it, and then you drink it with pleasure. I can say from experience that it helps you very much to recover from the frequent extreme tiredness brought about by the combination of the least effort at work and the overwhelming heat of the torrid zone. It is indeed true to say that God is wonderful in his works even to the ends of the earth.
The main diseases which affect these people are, for children, a sickness they call tossa; there are large hard spots which spread over the whole body, and which can only be got rid of by scratching them often until blood flows; this is the local form of smallpox – no child is exempt from it. It doesn’t spare even the whites, when they have been living in the country some time. It lasts six or eight months or even longer. It is not fatal. Among the adults, a fairly great number of them can be seen who have very swollen legs and arms, and others who have large and numerous sores which last a long time, and sometimes end up crippling them. I know only two blind people on the island, and I have not yet noticed a single tooth missing even among the oldest people. Their hair goes white fairly soon, but you don’t see any bald heads. You come across a lot of people with kidney problems, some with colds, pneumonia, lung diseases, malignant fevers etc. all of their sicknesses and infirmities are sent them by some angry divinity, so they then offer kava to the one who is eating them in this way, as shown by symptoms or even, they take them to some chiefs as having more sway with the divinities; these chiefs are happy enough to pour a bit of oil or coconut milk on their heads, then to touch their heads and arms, while uttering a few words, doubtless a prayer; whatever be the part that is hurting, it is to the head that they apply the remedy.
Getting around to their religion, the first thing to remark on is that there is no visible sign of idolatry. Their divinities are all pure spirits, who formerly animated bodies, with the exception of the principal ones who, they say, have not lived in people, but of whose origin they are ignorant. All these spirits live in the clouds above their island, or come from a foreign land they call Porotu (night of prayer),[8] but the generic name of their dwelling place is the Night (Te Poouri).[9] In these dwelling places of the gods there is a hierarchy similar to that which rules in their island, that is to say that one of them is seen as King, and that the others accept the various tasks he gives them. Some are responsible for one island, others for another. One is responsible for the observance of a certain tabu, the others have responsibility for other tabus. This one is responsible for inflicting one illness, that one for another. Others have the task of deciding on war, governing the sea, controlling the thunder, ruling the winds, watching over the maintenance and the preservation of this or that tree, of this or that fruit etc etc. Others as well, and these are the majority, only make up the court of the great spirit, and do not come to the land of mortals, or if they do come down there it is only, as could be said, for a stroll and to drink kava. The men and women into whose bodies these spirits descend are called Taura-Atua[10] (priest or priestess of the gods). There are more than sixty of them in this island, but people pay significant attention or respect only to those who are seen as priests of the great spirits, of those who control the higher levels of government of the island, or who have been elevated to some high dignity in the kingdom of the night or who are responsible for inflicting this or that infirmity or sickness or, again, those who are appointed to each village. As for those who have no appointed function, they are not feared, and if they respect them a little, it is so that they do not go and denounce them to those who have high positions; those who have been kings down here are still feared. Some of them come back into the daylight several years after their deaths, others after only a few days. I knew a great chief who died a little time after my arrival in this island; about two months after death he came back into the day, and here is how! An old man among his close relatives and already a priest of one or several Atua,[11] was suddenly, during a kava celebration, seized by trembling and uttered some words that were recognised as not being those from his usual Atua. On the contrary, people believed they could recognise the voice of the chief who had recently died. Immediately there was a need to search for kava, to bring it to the old man, to respectfully kiss the tips of his feet, and, in complete silence, to listen to the words which were going to come from his mouth. Then the new spirit declared clearly who he was and consoled the relatives, telling them that he had been installed in dignity in the kingdom of the night, and that he was held there in great esteem. He then drank the kava and went back into the night. He has come back several times since, and there he is, established among the number of the Atua of the country. That is pretty well the story of all the gods of the island. Only, each of them has a special sign by which he shows his arrival and for his stay in the body of his priest or priestess. Some of these deceivers utter sharp cries, others have the ability to move their chests by way of nerves which are linked to the arms, others move a finger, or pull out their hair, or perform some other contortion. As for their suggestions, some utter only jests,[12] stupidities, or jokes that make you blush; others, who are more peaceful, preach to their audience in a ridiculous way, they tell their hearers to stop mocking them and violating tabus, to be more careful in chewing the king’s kava etc. Others only sing or laugh, and some open their mouths only to ask for kava; but whatever they say, those present always respond with “Bravo, bravo!” And when they speak of going away, those present beg them to stay on a while to drink another round of kava. Finally however they take leave of the gathering, say goodbye to the mortals and go back into the night. Then the priest or priestess performs appalling contortions, striking themselves on their heads, the chest, the feet, spits again and again until at last the atua is spat out. Then the man or woman is no longer seen as anything but an ordinary person; he or she is sometimes cunning enough to disagree with what the atua has just said through his or her mouth, and to complain against it, with the crowd. All in all, isn’t there just pure deceit in all these people? It is hard for me to say. Perhaps it would be possible that some are in good faith and really think they have a spirit in their body. The length of the séances in the kava parties, the mournful silence usually preserved there, especially along with the strength of the liquor, can have an effect on their nerves and inflame their imagination; but this is just a pure conjecture; whatever be the reality, I have never witnessed these pitiable deceptions without being more and more moved with compassion for these poor blind people who have not, alas, the blessedness of knowing the one true God, creator of heaven and earth. No fecit taliter omni nationi et indicia sua non manifestavit.[13] So what is the worship that these people offer their divinities? It comes down to very little. Firstly, concerning interior worship: if one perhaps excepts a few people of a certain age, who really believe in these sorts of gods, the ordinary people are at least doubtful about them, and several are sure that it is only a deceit, which means they have, interiorly, only scorn for them, and that it is only out of fear of the king and some chiefs that they do as the others do when it involves offering some outward worship. This consists in offering them an abundance of kava, especially when [the gods] send them some sickness or disability. The imagined victim of their anger is carried into the house of their high priests. There they [the gods] are invited, every day, to come down among them, and they are offered an immense quantity of kava to appease their anger. Cases of sickness apart, they often offer the kava root to Kakau and Finao,[14] who are the two supreme divinities of the island.
They [the Wallisians] support all those who are devoted to them as well as those of all the tutelary divinities of the villages[15] and sometimes bring them garlands of leaves or flowers. Apart from that, people celebrate every year a festival to which the island comes en masse, to chew kava for the great gods of the land, and to make them the offering of some plants and their fruit. One of the people then addresses to the gods, as well as during some other special feasts, in a high voice, a prayer, which roughly runs like this: “Stop being so wicked towards us: we leave you our land to govern it and make it good, we do not reject you as has happened on other islands, and yet you still make us die, you keep on lying to the king and deceiving him. So when will you stop acting like this?” etc. You can see by that that they attribute death only to the anger of their divinities: that is the reason why I have found several people who would like to embrace my religion, because, they say, their gods are too wicked, too easy to anger, that no one escapes their anger, while the god of the white men seems more gentle, and that there is, at least, more chance of not angering him, and as a result, of living forever!
The morals of these people, no doubt faulty in many ways, are in several aspects worthy of note and praise. There are only the king and some chiefs who have up to 3 or 5 wives; ordinary men have only one, and they generally live in great fidelity. A spouse that was caught being unfaithful would be at risk of their life, or at least would expose their whole village to being pillaged and laid waste by the offended relatives (if they found themselves to be in the stronger position) because they have the awful custom of avenging the fault of one person by punishing all of his or her village. It sometimes happens as well that a woman, whose husband has been unfaithful, simply goes and bites and cuts off her rival’s nose, if she is inferior in rank; you still come across women who have had an experience of that sort. In getting married, they have no concern for the relationship which comes from affinity; it happens sometimes that a brother marries his brother’s widow. But it is completely forbidden for blood relatives, of whatever degree of relationship, to marry each other. It is even forbidden for them to appear together without wearing a long vara or garment,[16] and if it happened by mistake or otherwise that a male cousin for example uttered some inappropriate words in the company of one of his female cousins, she would withdraw in shame. However, people would [still] converse with one another. If, now, we abstract from their habit of lying or dissimulating and especially their inclination to theft, we will find in them many other qualities that are worthy of attention. They are very concerned for each other, and their generosity, particularly towards foreigners, is worthy of notice. However needy they are, they share their provisions, and sometimes completely deprive themselves of them to give them to their neighbours or to those who are visiting them. They even go so far, because of a kindness they believe to be quite normal, as to take food from their mouths to offer it to other people. The children do not lack respect for their parents, but even more so, the subjects towards their king and their chiefs. There are three main families in whom all power resides; those of the king and of two high chiefs or ministers, whose authority is hereditary, as is also that of the king. Each individual person has more nobility and influence the closer he or she is in descent from one of these three chiefs. The degree and rank of nobility is exactly determined and recognised by everyone, and various families vainly make alliances with each other and link up with each other in every way; but they still know who are those people who have a higher or lower degree of nobility, and as a result, as soon as two of them find themselves together in any part of the island, they know who should command and who should obey, preside or serve. In this, women have the same rights as men, except when it involves the highest level of royalty, which they cannot attain except when there is no male heir. This sharing out of authority which descends like this by degrees from the chief down to the lowest of the subjects is, seemingly, the only way of preserving some order amongst a tribe which is half savage and has neither law nor courts.
So to come back from that to their conduct towards their superiors, it is really worthy of notice. They only receive their orders when seated and silent, and if they have something to say to them [the superiors] they do it only while borrowing the name of one of their neighbours. If they meet them on a track or if they see them going by from a distance, they sit on the ground until they have gone past. As for the king, apart from these signs of respect, they also have for him chosen and consecrated expressions like of majesty and several others which really are delicately polite. They are the same as those they use to speak to the gods. They also have, among themselves, their little expressions of politeness, their compliments, their ways of greeting each other, etc. The words they constantly use to address each other are words of encouragement and gratitude for the good health they enjoy, or for the work they happen to be doing. Their way of embracing each other is to press nose against nose with great seriousness and gravity.
I will better recall the customs of these people by following them from their birth to their death. When a child comes into the world, one of his parents or anyone else who wants to, gives it a name, always different from that of its father. Sometimes it is that of a fish or some other creature, but most often it is an expression taken from their language and expresses a meaning of its own. The child usually belongs to the man who names it rather than to its parents. When it is a firstborn, the mother and child are painted in red and a great feast takes place, which may last 3 or 4 days. This is what is involved in it: The parents of the baby bring into the village meeting house, where the crowd gathers, up to two, three or four hundred baskets
[Footnote of the writer]
These baskets, made from coconut leaves, each contain a fish or some other local food item, wrapped in a banana leaf, or 6 little yams or their equivalent. There are as well 3 or 4 huge pigs, roasted entire. Each time I was at these distributions, I was usually given a pig’s leg and 6 or 7 baskets of food.]
[8 cont]
of food, very long pieces of tapa, mats, collars, etc, the whole thing preceded, according to custom, by a huge kava root, carried by two men. All this is offered to the king, or, if he is absent, to the man who has the right to preside. After the kava has been chewed, the chief has the food and the rest distributed to the principal people present, who are seated beside him, who in their turn distribute it to others or have it taken to their respective houses. When the distribution has been done, the singers come and sit in the middle of the crowd, who are in a circle around them, and begin to beat rhythmically bamboos or rolled-up mats lying on the ground while others clap hands at at each blow, or strike the ground with other pieces of bamboo which they hold upright, all of them accompanying this sort of music with their resounding voices.
[Note by the author at the foot of the page]
Their songs, which are very many, consist of 2 words, or 2 insignificant rhymes, which they repeat ad nauseam, for example Missi Pataiet, I te waka farancet (M Bataillon du navie francais) . That is the one they have made up in my honour, and which echoes throughout the island. They usually sing in trio with great monotony, it is true, but also with amazing exactness and harmony.]
[8 cont]
Then one or several dancers get up, crying out or whistling while gambolling around the singers in order to encourage the others to dance. Soon there are a great number on the dance floor, leaping about, clapping hands and, with their feet, arms, heads and their whole bodies, making gestures, contortions and movements in a lively and swift manner, but always similar and in time with the music. Those present constantly call out Bravo! Again, again! or other words of encouragement. The musicians and especially the singers often re-energise themselves, and the performance goes on the whole night. The women rarely appear in this and it is only in their own company that they play their part with a decency, gravity and modesty that is really remarkable. It is in these circumstances that they all display whatever they have that is most precious. Their bodies glistening with oil, their heads crowned with leaves, their hair strewn with flowers, their arms and necks adorned with shells, collars and garlands; everything in their appearance would make the sight more strange and amusing for us. This is pretty well the style of celebrating all the festivals of the country. If it is only at the one that they celebrate every year in honour of their gods, or as well, on the burial of their high chiefs, the dancers use paddles or spears which they turn in every direction and in a very regular and skilful way. It is during these various festivities that the King and the chiefs proclaim to the people reprimands, laws or other observations that they feel appropriate; or, if they have nothing serious to say, they tell a story or say a few words to amuse their hearers.
As soon as the children know how to walk, they go with the others to the seaside and learn to swim, and if they do this in a mixture of both sexes at this age, they soon, as they get older, quickly adopt the praiseworthy custom of separating themselves, and you see the two sexes bathing only at a great distance from each other and always with an unimaginable modesty. All that the parents teach their children is to respect the tapus and to fear the gods, especially the Atua Mouri[17] who brings sores and swollen legs. The tapus that are permanent and common to the whole island are: touching what the king or some other chiefs have touched themselves, entering houses where tapa is being made, and, for women and children, eating with their father etc, etc. Those who touch blood, the dead etc, also have tabu or tapu hands until they are washed, which they do not do, when it involves the dead, until several weeks after. During this time they cannot use their hands either for eating or drinking. Other people do this for them. Some fish and most birds are tabu throughout the whole island, others are tabu only for a village or a person. Tabus are also put on coconut palms, on a kava patch, or on some other plant which someone wants respected: to do that they insert a stick into the ground, on the end of which is hung a leaf of the tree or plant which is being tabued (the ‘u’ in this language has the sound of ‘ou’ in French), and then its handing over to the god to whose vengeance the tapu-breaker is delivered. People are generally very careful in observing these various tapus, because of their fear of annoying the gods and of dying, because according to their beliefs death nearly always comes through breaking tapus or a theft which has been committed and which people do not want to confess. I recently visited a man suffering from dropsy who told me that the swelling of his stomach came, alas! from his having eaten forbidden things.
When the children get to the age of puberty, if they are painted in red for several weeks. The boys have a sort of circumcision and people celebrate both sexes with very great festivities. They sometimes marry at this point, and the young people who don’t do so let their hair grow as a sign of virginity (real or claimed) until they are asked for in marriage. Here is how they arrange this: the young man sends to her whom he wants to marry a kava root and provisions. If they are accepted, the marriage is finalised; if not, the young man is forced to turn to other young women. Although their intention is to marry for life, there are some divorces, and, if the death separates them, I believe that usually they do not remarry.
The main games and amusements of these people are dancing and music, which they could not love more. Apart from their dances which are normal for feast days, it is not uncommon to see them gather in each village to spend part of the night there, singing and dancing. After that they have cock fighting, as in Spain, then public displays of canoeing, or learning how to use the spear. On the feasts of high chiefs who have died, they practise hitting each other with clubs until blood begins to flow, but it is frightening to see the blows they give each other without showing the least sign of pain.
As soon as someone falls dangerously ill, he is carried into the temple of the god who is thought to be responsible for his illness. Usually it is the god of the village. There they try to appease the divinity’s anger by offering him an abundance of kava and collars of flowers. If the sick person is important and loved, sometimes a little finger is cut off several children and offered to the pitiless god to pacify his anger.[18] If this does not succeed, a greater fear of the divinity arises, but behind its back there is no shortage of insulting words that are uttered against it, which proves that they don’t think they are understood by it.
As soon as someone dies, the relatives and friends gather around the dead person (if it is a chief, several musket shots are fired – to imitate what they have heard about the whites) and equipping themselves with shells, they gash and bloody their cheeks and all of their heads, while uttering cries which are more like mournful songs rather than tears, and which continue almost uninterrupted until after the burial, which sometimes only takes place 26 hours later. They grease the whole body with oil, dress it entirely as for a festival day, and then wrap it decently in several folded quite new tapa cloths. When the time for burial has come, a great kava ceremony is held, at which the dead person presides. As the dead person is unable to drink the cup, the ground on each side of the body is wet with it, and when this ceremony is finished, the body is carried to the place of burial, and meanwhile several people go off with baskets to get sand from the seashore and come back in two lines and singing until the cemetery is reached, where they pile the sand over the body of the deceased. At that point the little fingers are cut off several children, to be buried with the dead person, and the cries redouble in volume and blood flows in greater abundance. The sight of it is unbearable, especially when it involves the burial of some high chief. In that case, instead of using shells, the men bruise themselves or gash their heads with clubs, spears and axes; some bite themselves and slash their arms or breasts; other place burning coals on their bodies, others eat excrement – all of these as signs of sadness. Some go as far as piercing their thighs with their spears, and one was even seen piercing his neck from one side to the other. The relatives then shave their heads and celebrate at ten day intervals three great feasts when they renew their tears and their wounds. It often even happens that they renew them, sometimes over six months and more. What can be said about this custom? The desire to seem to be courageous is, in all that, more than grief itself, and what proves it is that straight after the ceremony no sign of sadness is seen, at least in most of those involved.
Everything I have just said about the island of Wallis, on the beliefs, morals and customs of its inhabitants, can be said in great part about all the surrounding islands, and especially the island groups of the Navigators, Fiji, but more particularly of Tonga Tapu, from where these inhabitants of Wallis seem to descend, according to all evidence. I have been able to assure myself of that both from the witness of several whites who, after visiting these island groups, came and settled here and especially from the witness and the very conduct of several natives belonging to these same islands and who also have settled in Wallis. The Methodists who partly occupy these islands, having had printed some parts of the Bible in the language of the natives,[19] we have been able to procure some of them, and it was by comparing them that I recognised the close resemblance of the idiom of their island with that of Tonga, which proves that the inhabitants are a people coming from that island group. Wallis Island was discovered in 1767 by an English captain of that name. Several natives still recall this first ship, and an old man, the oldest in the island, whom I often take pleasure in questioning, admitted to me that their only thought on seeing it was that it was a dwelling place of gods, coming from the clouds, and what confirmed them in this thought[20] was that they gave the Europeans the name of Papalangui, which means ‘board from heaven’.[21] According to this old man’s story, the island then had the same produce, the same customs as today, the only difference was that it was more populated. What had reduced their numbers, he said, were continual wars in which they killed and ate each other. According to him this was the only time they had allowed themselves to commit this atrocious thing, which they detest in others. These people were then idolatrous in their attitude to the Europeans, they were full of fear and respect for them; but today their attitudes have really changed, and here is doubtless the reason! About ten years ago a foreigner originally from Spain but, I think, a native of the Sandwich Islands, came to these island groups several times to fish for certain oysters which he was then going to sell in Japan. During his last voyage, he formed a desire to dethrone the existing king, then reigning, and to replace him with another man, and make himself the sovereign of everyone; but he soon became the victim of his ambition, because these people, after bearing his yoke with fear and trembling for some months, looked for a way of ridding themselves of it, and they succeeded in battering him to death through treachery, along with all those with him.[22] From that time they began to see that the whites were not quite like gods and that they could be overcome. It’s hardly three years since an English ship which was at anchor to restore its supplies, having acted towards these people in an unworthy manner, as it seems, according to many reports, was first seized by treachery, and all his crew, 35 men, horribly massacred. An American naval vessel which arrived, purely by chance, I believe, the day after, having examined all the circumstances, decided that these natives were not deserving of punishment, so badly had those whom they had killed acted towards them.[23] This is, as well, a singularly important lesson, which has importantly helped chill these people’s relations with Europeans, and has even aroused them to feel scorn towards them, by confirming them in the other belief that they could overcome them. But what is even more deplorable in all that, is that these people have become prejudiced against the religion of the whites, prejudices which have been, alas, only too much justified in recent years by what I am about to say.
About ten
[Author’s footnote]
Had Our Lord’s name ever been uttered before this time among these pagans; that is what would be hard to determine; anyway here is a little saying that I cannot really explain: the king, having one day asked me about our religion and our God, added: My God also had a son in Tonga [tapu]; he came here, where he spent some time making canoes, from here he went to the land of the white men, where he became skilful in building ships, and from where he has not wanted to return.]
[15 cont]
years ago, a sect of people claiming to be of the Reformed Church established themselves in the neighbouring island groups; they began in Tonga, where they were able to win over only one or two villages. From there they got into the islands of Ha’apai Vava’u which are neighbours and under the same rule, and they succeeded in baptising them all.[24] Recently some of them sent to the most easterly islands from Fiji[25]and more recently again a group of another type, coming from the Society Islands took over the main island of the Navigators group.[26] Their progress, it is said, has not been rapid in these two last-mentioned island groups but that is not surprising when one considers how they act towards the poor natives whom they have already won over to heresy. I would be afraid of showing bias or a party spirit if I went into all the details that are well-known to me about these self-styled missions. Later, many things will be revealed which, with allowances made for diverse beliefs, are certainly worthy of praise and bring honour to the European countries. However everyone already is aware that it is only through terror that they make themselves masters of those islands and succeed in maintaining their control.[27] They make these people fear the strength of their country, and when they have brought them under their yoke, they work themselves by every possible means into the favour of the king and the chiefs, and unite to master the ordinary people and direct them by blows of the whip or forced labour or heavy penalties (They are mainly used on the Society Islands), which turn to the profit of those who inflict them. Those are the only punishments decreed in the arbitrary laws that they impose on them. Those are also, it must be said, the main punishments of the admirable law of the gospel. In spite of these wise precautions, they cannot repress the licentiousness of the young people, and they find themselves often forced to inflict many blows of the whip, or, what is worse, to exact heavy fines, and to enrich themselves in this way, in spite of themselves, to the detriment of these weak young people. What is most surprising is that with all these rigorous punishments, they cannot get from these people the least expensive things they are happy to impose on them, so it is not uncommon to see several sufferers tied to a coconut palm, and lamenting, while being whipped, the misfortune they had, alas, of making a bit of tobacco, or of picking a coconut on a Sunday or infringing other similar laws which certainly have only just been discovered in the Bible through the power of an illuminating beam of understanding. In short, these self-styled missionaries have never come to the island of Wallis, but they have allied themselves with the king of a little neighbouring island and have sent him here several times, always escorted by a great number of natives, all of whom had been given the necessary faculties to establish Christianity here.[28] On the first two occasions, the king contented himself by sending them back, telling them that he did not know what to make of the three or four extracts from the Bible that they presented him. So their faculty sheets were changed, and they were sent a third time, about 40 or 50 of them, with clubs, spears, axes, guns, etc. The king put up with them for some time on his island,[29]
[Author’s footnote]
They carried out their religious observances in a house near that of the king and ours, and people still point out, quite close by, the coconut palm where delinquents were tied up and scourged.
[15 cont]
but having lost patience because of their importunities and several sorts of violent acts, he declared war on them. These latter boldly accepted this and built themselves a sort of fort to defend themselves. The whole island besieged them in it, by cutting off their food supply and trying to force them to give themselves up and accept the peace conditions which the king, moved by compassion, had offered them several times. They persisted in refusing them until finally, forced by hunger and thirst, they presented themselves before their enemies to submit themselves to what was demanded of them. All of them were immediately beheaded except four men who were saved by string-pulling, and all the women and children, to whom they showed mercy (On arriving here I found them all still, as well as several others from the Vava’u islands, whom storms had forced here against their will. They were far from being models for the pagans. I was able to assure myself personally that they did not know even the basic truths necessary for salvation, although they had been raised to the dignity of being a preacher. Concerning the bits and pieces of the Bible which they all have and whose selling price they well know, some knew how to read them fairly well, but most saw in them only black and white. These people certainly needed a very special sort of ray of enlightenment, newly discovered, to find in Scripture, on their own, the rule for their conduct and faith.) this massacre had taken place hardly two years before we arrived at that island.[30]
Such, Reverend Superior, is the description of the little island of Ouvea (Wallis) and the rather limited picture of the various customs of its inhabitants, their beliefs, their morals and attitudes them. This is the little island which, in the Bishop of Maronea’s huge mission, has received the first of heaven’s blessing; and the first of them has been this worthy prelate, the one sent from Rome, the ambassador of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the one which has become, alas perhaps, to its misfortune, the inheritance factae sunt cogitations tuae. [31] But it is time to leave that and to turn to what most interests you, the state of the mission itself.
We are arrived at Wallis on All Saints’ Day 1837, ten months after leaving France. The Bishop who, as you have been informed by our letters from Valparaiso, first had the idea of going with his men to the Caroline Islands, was so distressed at seeing the progress of heresy in those island groups which are the main ones in the mission territory, that he decided to divide his little group to take up a position at least in the neighbourhood of heresy. Wallis Island reasonably seemed to him to be promising for his place, because of its position almost in the centre of those island groups: Tonga, Fiji etc. His Lordship went and found the king and suggested to him leaving with him two of his men to learn the language of his island there, and to serve him in any way they could. The king initially agreed to the Bishop’s suggestion, but then, having asked for advice from an old man who was his first minister,[32] this man spoke up before a great gathering that had run to see us and hear us, and succeeded, in a long speech, to get the king to send us away, because very probably, he said, these were men who wanted to change the island’s religion, and as for him, having grown old in the religion of his ancestors, he was far from rejecting it. A young chief,[33] whom the Bishop had been careful to win over beforehand, made an effective plea for our cause, or, to tell what is nearer the truth, the Blessed Virgin got involved, and the king, without any concern for all the opinions of the old man, gave a formal order that we be left in his island, and again consented to welcome us even into his palace, but still with the understanding that no missionary work was done because, he said, I do not like these men who have books, (Author’s footnote: The biblical system deluded all that ocean that religion consisted mainly, at least, in having books.) and who write, emphasising this last with movements of his hand.[34] The Bishop accepted all the conditions, convinced that by the word ‘missionary’ his Majesty meant other men, whom we were far from resembling. It was only then that the Bishop made me one of those he chose, and informed me of his plan to leave me alone with dear Brother Joseph in this centre, as it might be described, of heresy and paganism. However formidable this mission post seemed in many ways, I could only obey my bishop while again throwing myself into the arms of Mary, to whom I immediately entrusted the responsibility given me, I resigned myself completely to all the designs that Providence had for me, truly convinced that difficulties are nothing with God, who draws all the more glory from his works inasmuch as he employs in them the most wretched instruments. So after having gathered together some few goods, only enough to cover 6 to 8 months, after which the Bishop was to come back and visit us, we received His Lordship’s advice and blessing and we separated from him, as well as from our confrères and other helpers. They were to visit the neighbouring islands, (The Horn islands and Rotuma) where the Bishop wanted to found yet another mission, and then go to Sydney, with only Father Servant and Brother Michael, in order to leave there most of our things and for other important reasons concerning the general good of the mission. For us two, once we had got back to our new base, our first concern was to note the customs of these people, so that we could conform ourselves to them as much as possible, and to try to gain, as much as we could, everyone’s affection, and especially that of the chiefs through some little gift or any other possible way, but especially to learn their language. A Frenchman whom we found had been living on this island for about three years[35] came, at my request, to live near us, and was useful to us at the start. During the first days, the king had to build us a little house, in the local style, but an annoying situation prevented him from doing it, and was in no way less than favourable to us. One of the island’s chiefs[36] belonging to a powerful family, was struck, at the very time we arrived, by one of the most violent sorts of madness or frenzy, which left him without rest and caused him to destroy everything he came across, to burn houses, to pursue and assault everyone. As he belonged to a dreaded family and, besides, was seen to be an angry divinity, no one dared to oppose his destructive acts. People just fled at his approach and hid in the forest. The king’s village[37] was the main scene of his madness. So we were forced to do as did the other people and with his Majesty hide ourselves from the sight of this madman. At first we were happy enough to avoid the blows he directed in every direction as he ran, but in the end, we had to resign ourselves to them. Having suddenly surprised us, in the king’s house, he began to pursue us with the others, and as his clothes did not prevent him from running, he was soon upon us. I was the last [in the group] because I had wanted to pick up my breviary which I had dropped in my flight. When he came near, I had the added misfortune of tripping and falling at his very feet. He immediately raised above my head a long and thick rod he held in his hands. I watched him to see the blow coming, and I saw instead his arms staying raised. So I was able to get up and continue my flight, but having gone on pursuing me, he then let go his rod and broke it on my shoulders. I didn’t stop running, nor did he stop pursuing me with the remains of his weapon until some scrub caused me to trip once more. I fell again, done in from exhaustion, and resolved to wait for whatever Providence had in store for me, but it had the great goodness to watch over me. The madman stopped then and turned back on his steps, uttering cries and words that I could not understand. That was for me a new opportunity to bless our common protectress, and I was able at the same time to realise the affection that these people had for us, from the haste in which they began to gather round me and lament my experience. On the following day I entrusted to the king and our interpreter the only trunk we had in that village, and with his Majesty’s agreement, I went, with Brother Joseph, to a neighbouring island, to the house of the young chief[38] who had pleaded our cause, and in whose home were the rest of our things. We spent two months there in the greatest tranquillity, using the entire time in studying the language, while dear Brother Joseph used it as well in rendering the natives several little services. It was there, in a dwelling that had been set aside for us in an out-of-the-way situation, that I had the inexpressible happiness of celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass on this island for the first time. It was Saint Francis Xavier’s day, a month after our arrival. I celebrated for the second time on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and I was then able to have this same happiness every day for a whole month. On the holy day of Christmas I had the consolation of celebrating at midnight the three usual Masses. The holy humanity of Our Lord was never, perhaps, found in a place which better resembled the stable at Bethlehem. But the King, impatient to see us again, sent the already mentioned Frenchman to us to order us to come back to his presence at least for a day or two. I hastened to respond to his friendliness, and on the very same day we went back to the main island. There we found his Majesty deep in the forest where he had had made for himself a temporary little house so as to remove himself from the site of the madman. He received us with really fatherly affection and embraces, and so as to keep us close to him he had a little hut built for us as well, near his, until the time came when we could all go back to the royal palace on the coast, which didn’t happen until nearly three months later. We used this time in preparing wood to put up, later on, a house which would be a bit different from the local ones. Apart from that I devoted myself diligently to studying the language, and at the end of the fifth month I was able to stammer enough to secretly instruct two poor abandoned sick people who had been entrusted to us to get them in recovered in health and who, as a result of a quite special act of Providence, were to receive from us a very much more precious benefit, that of Christian faith. Both of them died after having received the first of heaven’s blessings. One was from Tonga, the other from this island.
Meanwhile the King, tired of the madman’s excuses, and finally had him secured and then we were all able to come down to the coast, where we erected, in the very courtyard of the King, the home which we had got ready in the forest. It was exactly at that time that I had the honour and that very special pleasure of having a visit from the pro-vicar apostolic whom the Bishop had left at Horn Island, only 40 leagues [200km] south-west of Wallis.[39] He had taken advantage of a favourable opportunity to gain for both of us the consolation of fulfilling the Paschal precept. Unfavourable winds held him back here, for almost a month, and we took advantage of this to consult together over several matters and especially to work on writing the main prayers in the language of these islands and to make them uniform insofar as the difference in idioms would allow. The circumstances then were such that we could, without any objection, have ourselves accepted for what we were, because apart from the king who was showing us good will, there was no one in the island who knew our intentions. So having blessed our new house, both of us began to celebrate Mass on Holy Thursday and after that we always had the blessing of offering the sacred mysteries in it without hiding from anyone, and even with the prior permission of the king. His Majesty and several other natives were present at it several times, and could not have been more amazed at it. After Father Chanel had left, I began a tour around the island (with a canoe I had just bought), and to visit it in an exact way, so as to gain greater certainty about the islanders’ attitudes to us. Everywhere I received very warm welcomes, and on my return I was able to give it highest praise in my report to the king. During my journey I was able (at the father’s request) to give the solemn rite of baptism to a child belonging to an Englishman[40] who has lived in this island a long time, and some time after that I had the consolation of conferring the same sacrament (in secret) on two other little children in danger of death, and who since have become new protectors for these people. If I were never to confer another baptism, the eternal happiness that I procured for these few souls is already out of proportion with the little preceding sacrifices I had to make.
At that time, when I was getting ready to formally declare to the King of the aim of my mission, Tounahara, the young chief-protector,[41] whom I have already spoken about several times, went to bed ill, and having forbidden the Atua of his country to search for him,[42] he sent for me, and let the king know that he wanted to deal only with me. So I went to him and, his illness having quickly gone away, I took advantage of his good dispositions to continue the conversations I already had had with him about religion. What knowledge of English
[Author’s note]
In all the surrounding islands, and in all those frequented by ships, the natives hear something of the English language, in Rotuma almost everyone understands it a bit – but people do not know what the French language is; most of the islands do not even know of France’s existence. From that can be seen the importance of a missionary knowing English. There are some islands where English and Americans are found in hundreds.
[19 cont]
he had, helped me in these little discussions. Then I took him to the house of the king, on whom he had a lot of influence, and having persuaded both of them to be present at Holy Mass, which I celebrated with all the pomp that our poverty allowed, (it was the feast of the Ascension) I then took them aside to talk together about our aim in coming to the island. I explained to his Majesty what we had meant when we had told him at the beginning that we were not missionaries and what was the difference between us and the heretics in the nearby islands. The king did not seem surprised at this revelation, which he had expected every day. He replied that if I loved him, I should not think of leaving his land, that he knew that my religion was better than that of the others, but having brought about the deaths of the first missionaries who had come to the island, and who were his relatives,[43] he would be ashamed to ever adopt another religion, that it was necessary to wait until he died, and then I would preach my religion to his island. Besides, he went on, there were the only gods of this island who caused the growth of the kava plant, the coconut palm, the banana palm, the breadfruit tree etc, and since these crops did not exist in the land of the white people, I am therefore afraid that in adopting your religion I will bring famine to my island. But these were only pretexts. Since then I have become certain, due to several circumstances, that the main reason was his desire for women, and that after all, he wanted to wait for the arrival of the great missionary about whom I had informed him, to assure himself that I was telling him the truth. So such is my present situation; I could begin to preach, but I have to wait… the multitude is ready to receive the divine word, but in these little islands, no one makes a move except with the permission of the king, and in the ordinary course of things one couldn’t dream of establishing Christianity there without his Majesty embracing it himself.
So consider on the basis of all that, Reverend Superior, how much I was concerned to do all I could to obtain from God my king’s conversion; consider whether I should forget him in the holy sacrifice of the Mass and in all my prayers! Ego vero egenus et pauper sum,[44] I can offer nothing of my own to the divine majesty which can satisfy his justice even in a small way, but I do not cease offering Him the blood and merits of Our Lord, the prayers and merits of the Blessed Virgin and of all the saints, and the good works of all Mary’s children, of all the devout faithful of the diocese of Lyons and Belley, and of the whole Christian world. Oh! When will that formal and consoling prophecy of the prophet David be fulfilled, in respect of the beloved pagans who are entrusted to me: omens gentes quascumque fecisti venient et adorabunt coram te Domine et glorificabunt nomen tuum?[45] When will they adore their creator and glorify his holy name? When will Our Lord’s reign extend to the ends of the earth? Viderunt omnes termini terrae salutare Dei nostri[46]ubi sunt misericordiae tuae antiquae Domine, sicut jurasti David in veritate tua?[47]… but I must admit to you, I am dogged by the thought that it is my sins which are in conflict with God’s mercy, and that only my faith and trust in God alone could have gained, from his infinite goodness, pardon and mercy for these poor blind brothers. However, I will never cease to hope in my God quia magna est super caelos misericordia (ejus) [48]- quoniam ipse cognovit figmentum nostrum… recordatus quoniam pulvis sumus.[49] It is he who has sent me to fight his battles, to extend his kingdom; to snatch from the chains of the devil his own children, his creatures, these whom he made in his image, and, however unworthy be his representative, he will not fail to be the king of the whole earth and the hope of the nations unto the ends of the world. Rex omnis terrae Deus[50]spes omnium finium terrae et in mari longe[51]. Jesus Christ died for all men, and whatever zeal we seem to have for saving souls, it has not the least significance in relation to the urgent desire of this divine saviour to save all of us. These various thoughts about faith, along with the sole memory of Mary, the saints and the good souls who pray for us, powerfully reinvigorate our confidence in the midst of journeys, opposition and difficulties of all sorts which the devil ceaselessly raises up against us – in te inimico ventilabimus… et in nomine teo spernemus insurgents in nobis.[52]
NB What precedes this is from July 1838, and what follows is from May 1839.
Reverend Superior. At the time I wrote what precedes this I was impatiently awaiting the Bishop’s arrival. The time he had given had already gone by, and each day I sighed for his Lordship’s return, which I knew would have to be so useful for the good of our little mission, but ten months have gone by since then, and it is still in vain that I cast my sight over the extent of the sea: the so longed-for ship which should have come by the end of six months at the most has not yet come after more than eighteen months. This long period of watching made me really anxious about his Lordship, but I recently found out, from a whaling ship coming from New Zealand, that there was a French bishop in that island, and all possible pieces of information make me certain that he can only be Bishop Pompallier. This news has reassured me, and since then I have again begun to hope to see our dear Bishop again, and even all the sooner, because his Lordship is certainly aware of how advantageous his return would be for this mission. He promised the king that he would come back soon. I have personally continued to tell the whole island of the expected arrival of our great missionary, and these poor natives, still seeing nothing indicating his arrival, are developing doubts about us, and are tempted to believe that we are imposing on them, which is a real handicap for the mission, particularly in the view of the king. So I do not yet have very consoling news to give you, Reverend Superior; I can inform you, it is true, with the prophet, dominus regnavit, exultt terra[53] but his kingdom has still be little extended, and only a small number have embraced his law, but I am taking up matters where I left them.
Since the time when I informed the king what was the purpose of my mission, I have used every means to persuade his Majesty to turn away from his gods and to recognise the one true God, creator and preserver of heaven and earth and everything in them. I have had several conversations with him about this. I have used the way of gentleness and authority, but all to no effect. His natural indifference, his human respect, his ties to his wives, the fear of his gods, his doubts about me because of the Bishop’ delay, the memory of having killed his own cousin who had come to preach to him the same God as I, but more than anything else his ignorance and the devil’s illusions, have, up till now, trapped him in his errors, and he has always told me that he wanted to die in his belief and would not allow anyone to preach any other religion than his own in his island, unless his gods showed too much ill-will towards him, by taking from him, for example, one of his children. I have all the more reason to groan over such attitudes because I know positively that he is the only one who is so obstinate and that generally the whole island is as ready as it could be to receive the gospel, but all are afraid of their king, and with real justification, because he exerts over them a most absolute and arbitrary authority. That reason, added to the hope of each day seeing the Bishop arrive has led me to put off the open preaching of the gospel for a long time. I was happy enough, during the whole of 1838, to criss-cross my island in every direction, to get better and better at learning their language, their customs and attitudes, to get to know all my people, to more and more win their affection and to give out the holy word to them in every circumstance that allowed it. Above all in these journeys, I was motivated to discover and baptise the children in danger of death, along with the adults I could win over and instruct as the opportunity arose, and I have had, up to now, the consolation of conferring thirty-three baptisms (Author’s footnote: In order to avoid any problems, I always perform baptisms of children in secret; to do that I always have on me a bottle of scented water and another of ordinary water. I first pour some drops of the first sort of water on the child’s head under the pretext of soothing it, and while its mother spreads it gently with her hand, I then spread over it the saving water of baptism without anyone suspecting it is different water.), both of children and adults, and these new Christians have almost all gone to add to the number of our protectors in heaven. After that I used my leisure time to study the language and to write down the basic truths of dogma and the main prayers. I have put everything in prose and in verse, so as to make it easier to teach to a people which loves singing so much. This work has taken up my time as I see its importance more clearly and as the language is really poor in words relating to worship, the difficulty of the work becomes significantly greater.
Such was the state of things when, in January 1838, while meeting a young Christian from Tonga, whom I had, by the grace of God, brought to the Catholic faith, and whom I had gone to minister to when he was ill, the king ventured to direct at me some joking and mocking words about religion, and showing me his island’s produce. “See,” he said to me, “the breadfruit trees and banana palms loaded with the fruit that my divinities give me. Why do you all not convert to them so as to eat more justly what comes from their hands?” After having pointed out to him, in a few words, the truth of this matter, I was happy to show him my indignation and my fear that he would soon be punished by heaven for such suggestions. I then predicted, I don’t know why, to those surrounding the king, that the arm of my great God would soon come down heavily on their island, and in fact, a few days later, there came on of the most frightening wind-gusts that I have even seen, which in a moment blew down two-thirds of the houses and fruit trees which are the island’s main resource. This frightful hurricane occurred on February 2nd, the feastday of the Presentation of the Most Blessed Virgin, at the end of a little annual retreat which we finished that day. The whole island was in dismay at the sight of such damage. Most of the natives attributed it to the power of my great God, angered by the king’s obstinacy, and the others to the will-will of the divinities of the country, so that everyone became more and more disgusted with their religion. The king himself was shaken but hid it, and continued his same way of life.
While the whole island talked like this about the great disaster which had just happened and the famine which threatened them, young Tu’ungahara, our chief protector, about whom I have already spoken was affected in a special way by God’s grace. He had called on the God of the Christians during the hurricane, and his whole family had been kept safe and sound under the ruins of its house. He realised more than anyone that the arms of the great Yehova weighed heavily on his island, because of its reluctance to convert to Him, and, interiorly urged by grace, from then on he decided to no longer wait for the king, but to openly declare himself to be the servant of the God of the Christians, whatever might be done to him by the king, his close relative. No longer being able to resist the goad of grace which was urging him forward, and bringing to mind all the conversations I had had with him beforehand, he sent me as his representatives, from the small island[54] where he lived, a group of young people to urgently beg me to come to him, and that he had something special to communicate to me. So I went to my young friend, with a firm idea already of what this was all about. Having given me a truly warm welcome, he quickly shared his plan with me, expressing himself in a way that could not have been more moving and was redolent with sound judgment and, I would say, truly supernatural wisdom. I am not worried any more, he said, if my conversion will please the king my relative or not, provided that I no longer do anything displeasing to the great God whom I have just had the happiness to know. Then I embraced him round the neck while weeping, and having embraced him with all the affection of my heart, I thanked him for his fine feelings, and promised him happiness for himself and all his land if he acted on his good resolutions. I spent only two days with him so we could discuss together the time and the ways in which we could openly begin the work of preaching the gospel, without offending the king too much. In the meantime I taught him and all his people the sign of the Cross and the first two couplets of a hymn about the attributes of God.
[Author’s footnote]
Here are some verses of this hymn which will certainly please you, so as to give you some slight idea of the language. It is to the tune O filii et filiae. The translation accompanies it. My natives sing perfectly in tune, and with really astounding harmony.
Ke ako mai, e jeova
Tau gaolu folafola
Kaupoto mo manuia
O Jehova, instruct me
with your divine words
so I may be instructed and happy.
Ko te atua mooni
Ko jeova mafimafi
Kototatou ariki
The almighty Jehova
is the true God
He is our King
Ko te laumalie lahi
Pea mo maonioni
Tana afio tokotaki
He is a great spirit
And his majesty alone
is holy
Ko te atua marie
Aga ofa aga lele
Aga fala molemole
He is a truly lovable God
Good, kind
and merciful
Ko iape kikite
Mo ina ilo faupe
Te u mea kehekehe
He alone is foreseeing
and he knows
all the various things
Nee mua tanafio
Ita mea katoape
O te tagui mo te kele
His majesty existed
before all things
in heaven and earth
Ne ina gaohi aki
Tona malaohi oona
Te u mea fakafina
He it is
who by his own power
has created all things
Kote maramani fua
Ko te pureaga ia
O totatou atua
He is it who controls
and governs
this entire universe
After that I went to the king’s house to inform him of my intentions of going to spend some time at least in the little island to try to please his relative who had asked me to do this. His Majesty was moved to tears at what I said to him about this. He begged me desperately not to leave him, telling me that later on perhaps he would embrace [my] religion etc, but I told him again that time was up, that it was already asking too much to put off carrying out the will of my great God who was urging me, and of the great sacred God of the Christians who had sent me to his island, and whom he took so lightly. Remember, I went on, the punishment which had just struck the whole of your land for having insulted the powerful God of the Christians, and be afraid that by continuing to oppose what he demands of you and me, you may soon bring on yourself even greater punishments. His Majesty received all that I said with fear and submission, and was content to repeat his desperate requests to commit myself to stay with him, without in any way using his royal authority. So the next day, having secretly sent the things needed for the liturgy to the little island, I took advantage of the king’s absence to go there more freely. I had left Brother Joseph for a few days at the royal court to make our absence less obvious, and it was he who told me later than his Majesty had wept with sorrow when he found out that I had definitely left, which showed me clearly that the desperate entreaties he made to keep me back arose from a real affection for your servant, and not just from the fear that I might convert to my religion the people of the small island, whom he no doubt thought to be more strongly attached to paganism than they really were, because I had hardly got to the young Tuungahara’s house when all the natives of the small island gathered around to hear the instructions, to learn the prayers and hymns, etc. Their keenness to listen to the holy Word, their regularity in attending morning and evening prayers are hard to describe. It is enough to tell you that the day is not long enough to satisfy them, and that they usually spend the entire night repeating to each other what has been taught them during the day. I was overwhelmed with joy and could not express enough my gratitude to the Lord for his disposing people’s hearts so well in his favour. I was already looking after a little church made of reeds, but suddenly the king had definite information that his young relative had embraced [my] religion. He went into a remarkable anger, not against me, but against all those who had allowed themselves to be won over by my words and had dared to bring something new in his island, before he had been an exemplar of it. Then there was the possibility of massacring all the catechumens and burning down their houses. Having been informed of everything that went on, I blessed the Lord for so soon giving us signs of his benevolence, by sending us, from the earliest days, tribulations and persecutions, which are the signs of his true servants. All my people were resolved to wait for the king and to die, if necessary, for the cause of truth, which they were aware of, but, the young chief told them, our lives are worth nothing, and killing us is like killing a herd of useless animals, and it is good for us to die for such a fine cause; but we cannot estimate how much more precious is the life of our missionary than the lives of all of us put together. He is the holy minister of our great God and, if while killing us, someone dared to strike him a sacrilegious blow, it would bring down the greatest disaster on the whole island, and deprive it forever, perhaps, of the knowledge of the true God. It would therefore be better to appease the king by performing the exercises of our religion in secret, until the arrival of the great missionary whose presence alone will perhaps convert or at least intimidate the king. I had nothing to add to advice as wise as this, and then we obeyed the order of the king who was calling us to come to him. After doing our best to quieten his anger and dissipate the fears which several bad-intentions people had aroused in him, I let my young chief return alone to his little island, and it was only a few days after that I returned to visit him, with his Majesty’s agreement. I had been among my catechumens only a few days, teaching them from a little summary of doctrine, when the king suddenly became ill. It was a bout of fever caused by kava, which he often drank to excess, but the priests and priestesses of the gods having blamed [it] on what was going on on the little island, the king again became consumed with such a great anger that, however great was the fear and respect he had for me, he forgot himself to the point of ordering me to go away in our whaleboat to look for another island far away from his. Well aware of what the consequences of that would be, I did not hesitate to take him at his word, and straight away made a pretence of getting ready to leave, but what I had foreseen happened. The more liberty and boldness he had used to drive me out, the more effort he had to make to keep me. I had inspired in him too much fear and respect for my great and holy King, and for the great God, whose minister I was, for him to dare in cold blood let me go in anger, after what he had said. This matter occurred around Easter.[55] I then spent four weeks travelling around the island at various times, and not being able prudently to go again to my beloved catechumens, I went on instructing and encouraging them by way of letters, which the young chief, who knew how to read, explained to them. During this time the king was, more than ever, full of attention and respect for me, but it was fear which at that time dominated his mind.
Such was the state of things when at the beginning of May, the confrères and Brothers who had left in September of the preceding year arrived in Wallis. They should have gone directly to New Zealand, to the Bishop, who, no doubt, was waiting for them, so he could come and visit us himself; but having been told in Tahiti, I am not certain how, that we were being persecuted in Wallis, they had come here to verify the situation. They were pleasantly surprised to find that the rumour that they had heard about us was exaggerated. They stayed only four days at anchor, and their presence during this little time did a lot of good throughout the island. The king, who is the only obstacle to the growth of the mission, will certainly have understood that I was not deceiving him, and because of that has even developed greater affection and fear for us, but it will be only later on that I will see the good effects of the arrival of this reinforcement of confrères. From Wallis the schooner went to Futuna, and I went there with the dear confrères, so we could all visit Father Chanel, our pro-vicar apostolic, together, and to bring back several natives of Wallis from his islands whom the king had asked me, as a favour, to bring back. It was on that island and in Father Chanel’s poor and tiny hut that I hastily finished this letter, so as to be able to entrust it to the Fathers who are hastening to get to the Bishop so that his Lordship himself can return more quickly to visit us.
There is no need to tell you, very Reverend Superior, of the delight we experience at finding ourselves, five priests and four Brothers, reunited for a few moments, on the little island of Futuna! But the days are too short, we are still spending most of the nights receiving the celebrations and embraces of these good people who are so delighted to see us, talking with them instructing them and, more and more, removing their doubts. After that we have to find, as well, some moments to listen to the wonderful things that our new confrères are telling us about the increasing interest and zeal that the good faithful people of Lyons and the whole of France are showing for the missions being born in Oceania. Oh! We cannot tell you how great is the thanksgiving that we ceaselessly offer to God for his infinite mercies, and how real is our gratitude to the good people who are so interested in our huge missions. I have not forgotten the good faithful of Lyons and St-Etienne who have worked so much and are still working for the success of the mission. I have just received letters from a great number of them, and I will answer them when the Bishop comes back. While waiting, they will have the consolation of being told that our missions have already clearly experienced the effect of their prayers and alms. We solemnly celebrated a high Mass on Wallis and on Futuna in the presence of the king and several natives of each island, and the ceremony created wonder and amazement among all those who were present, for the first time by the sound of the fine organ which had just arrived with the new confrères, and which was the product of the always so edifying zeal of Miss Bertrand. My poor natives thought it was a divinity, and it was only after having reassured the king that he dared to come near it. It would be very desirable if each mission could have such an instrument. While creating admiration for European manufacturing, it wonderfully added dignity to our ceremonies, and attracted people to them.
Father Chanel is waiting until the Bishop returns to send you detailed information about his island. Meanwhile, I can tell you that it is a harvest that is ripe. The Cross, we hope, will soon be erected there. Father Chanel has had the consolation of performing 18 baptisms of adults and children. He preaches the gospel in private, more and more enlightens the natives about their errors, and right now he is about to announce the good news in public. The Bishop’s arrival, we hope, will finally shake up our tow missions. We are also expecting powerful help from the prayers of all the good faithful of the Propagation [of the Faith], whose number, we have been told, continues to grow. May God be abundantly blessed.
I have so many things to tell you, but the schooner is about to leave. I will write again later about the details of the mission in Wallis which I commend in a special way to your prayers and holy sacrifices, and also to the prayers and holy sacrifices of all the good faithful people of the diocese of Lyons and Belley. Please commend me to the remembrances and prayers of all the beloved confrères, the Children of Mary, and all the directors of the major seminary and in particular Father Gardett, Denavit, etc.
Father Chanel and Brothers Marie and Joseph offer you their respects and commend themselves to your remembrance along with all the priests and Brothers who have just arrived.
I have the honour to be, with deepest respect, and united with you in prayers and holy sacrifices, very Reverend Superior,
Your most humble and obedient servant,
Bataillon, m(issionary) a(postolic)
Finished in Futuna May 12, 1839.


  1. John 15:15 – “I call you friends”
  2. John 19:2 - “Behold your mother”
  3. Wallis was the name of given to the island of Uvea by the crew of the British ship Dolphin “in honour of our captain” Samuel Wallis; on 16 August 1767, two dinghies from the Dolphin, commanded by the officers of George Robertson and Gore, entered the Wallis channel and had a short contact with the natives without setting foot on land. (O’Reilly Chronologie p14, Stories of the First Discoverers JSO vol 19, p81-82, Sharp p 108). Concerning the role played by the Spanish captain Francisco Antonio Maurelle (or Mourelle) and the attribution of his name to Ouvea, there is less certainty. Dumont D’Urville in his book Voyage Pittoresque autour du monde… Paris, L Tenré 1835, having told of Wallis’ visit, notes simply “Maurelle saw this group again in 1781” and gave it his name. [Girard’s footnote then continues to discuss at length the names given to the island and Maurelle’s name, including an opinion by Sharp that the island named by Maurelle was in the northern Tongan group - translator’s note]
  4. A Wallisian word – gatu in current spelling = fabric made from the bark of a tree of the mulberry family, called tutu.
  5. Bataillon’s comparison of a banana to a huge grape is hard to accept - translator’s note
  6. A Wallisian word, tufa = the distributor (in the context of the provisions presented at feasts)
  7. Vaimua Lavelua was the king of Wallis at this time (cf below [14, f/n 7]
  8. According to Henguel (p40) there was, in Uvea, under the island, a country called Pulotu – which was the dwelling place of the gods. Burrows (p85) says that Bataillon calls this dwelling place of the gods a western land (une terre occidentale) which better agrees, according to Burrows, with the descriptions of Pulotu found among other Western Polynesians, however the source he cites is, indeed, the present Notice sur l’îsle et la mission de Wallis (According to the text published in the Annals of the Propagation of the Faith vol 13, 1841, p12) where one reads, rather a foreign land, as in the original text published above.
  9. A Wallisian word, te po’uli = night, obscurity, darkness
  10. A Wallisian word: taua afuai = a pagan priest, priestess, a person possessed by a pagan god.
  11. A Wallisian word: ‘atua = god, divinity (the word which designated Wallisian spirits and divinities before the introduction of Christianity) (cf Rensch under this word)
  12. Read bouffeneries as bouffoneries
  13. Ps 147:20 “That, he has done for none of the nations, and they do not know his commandments.”
  14. Kakahu (Kakau), the daughter of Mahe, and Finau (Finae, Fina) in the ranks of the nocturnal gods, the two dominant divinities of the island of Uvea (cf Henquel p 40), Burrows p 83, Poncet p18, an interview with Sister Julienne Santos, SMSM, 31 March 1998.
  15. Translation of the foregoing part of the sentence is a bit doubtful. Bataillon’s use of pronouns sometimes is difficult to follow. Anyway, here is the original: Ils entretiennent qui leur sont consacrés, aussi bien que celles de toutes les divinités tutélaires des villages - translator’s note
  16. The vala (correct spelling) is a pareo or lavalava – a garment made of one piece of material which is draped around the body.
  17. The atua muli were lesser gods who lived in certain things which were called, as a result, their “canoe” or “covering” ( The Wallisian word fakafaanga designates this thing, the home of a divinity.) Their whole power involved inflicting diseases (cf Henquel p 40-41, Burrows p 84)
  18. Finger joints were sacrificed to various divinities at times of difficulty or sickness (cf Gunson, p91, 258)
  19. The translation of the Bible into Tongan was begun in 1829 by the Methodist missionary, Nathaniel Turner, and some colleagues; and some extracts (from the Bible) were printed on the mission press which was already operating in 1831. It wasn’t till 1853 that the translation of the New Testament into the language was finished, and finally the whole Bible in 1863 (Latfefu, p54, 56, 74, 78)
  20. ce qui les conformist dans cette pensée – Bataillon seems rather to want to say “a sign of their thinking was..” - translator’s note
  21. The Wallisian word papalangi means European, and is derived from the words papa (board) and lagi (sky, heaven)
  22. Siaosi Manini (the foreigner) was the son of a Spanish father and a Hawaiian mother, Taupe, a native of the island of Oahu. In 1825, in the reign of the queen Toifule, he came to Uvea on the ship Maholelagi commanded by Captain Moarn. It was the first ship to come into the Uvea lagoon. Siaosi Manini, business manager for Aluli, the owner of the ship in Oahu, was looking for a supply of beches-de-mer (“certain oysters” in Bataillon’s words). On his second visit he married Kaoila, the daughter of Takala. Now in 1829 Vaimua Lavelua became king (he took the name Soane Patita – John the Baptist – when he was baptised by Bataillon in 1842). Siaosi Manini came back near the end of 1830 on an American ship, the Hornet, with a great number of Hawaiians to set up the beches-de-mer trade, which led to other voyages between Uvea and Hawaii (and no doubt to Japan). After a certain time, Kivalu’s family conspired with some Tongans who had just arrived there to take over the monarchy, but they thought they would first massacre Siaosi Manini and his crew to get hold of some weapons. Siaosi, helped by the family of his father-in-law, Takala, and some others, fought against the aggressors who were at last driven from the island; during the struggle Lavelua (“the existing king”) and his chiefs fled, but Siaosi Manini ordered Lavelua to be found, and ended up holding him as a prisoner. Then Takala became king and Siaosi subjected all of Uvea to forced labour. Finally, the chiefs who had supported Siaosi Manini, outraged by his tyrannical policies, resolved to rid themselves of him; he was assassinated and then all the Hawaiians were massacred. Takala was exiled to Fatuloto (on the shore of Falaleu on the east coast of Uvea) and Vaimua Lavelua was again recognised as king about February 1831, his rule having only been interrupted for about two months (cf Henquel p25, 28-32, 34 f/n 1, Poncet p 113-14)
  23. The “English ship” was, according to Poncet, a fishing boat named Oldham which had been at Wallis the sense that the end of November 1831. In March 1832 the crewmen stole the possessions of some Wallis Islanders, killed a man and whipped three women. To avenge this, the former King Takala and his men massacred the whole crew except one man and a young boy, and finally ransacked the ship. Now this ship was off Falaleu, on the east coast of Uvea (Henquel p32-3, Poncet p15). As for the second ship which arrived soon after, and which Bataillon calls “an American naval vessel”, Poncet (p15) says it was a fishing boat, without specifying its nationality. Henquel (p33) notes that the men on the second ship, having seen the bodies hung from the masts of the ransacked ship, fled in haste to report the news. It was two months later, in May 1832, that a British naval vessel, the Zebra, arrived, looking for the disaster struck vessel, onto which climbed some of its officers and soldiers, to find Takala and his men there. A battle followed, in which there were deaths on both sides, among which was Takala himself. The Europeans left the ship and on the island of Uvea defences were got ready. The next day two ships appeared, from which soldiers were taken to the shore; they put themselves at the ready but did not attack. King Tavelua then sent to the commanding officer the white man called Sio who described the evil behaviour of the crew of the destroyed ship and the fact that the chief (Takala) who had ordered the attack the previous day had himself died. The British commanding officer agreed to make peace, without requiring anything more than the restitution of certain things pillaged from the Oldham (cf Henquel p and33-4, Poncet p15)
  24. Bataillon is talking about the Methodists. After the effort of the London Missionary Society – not followed up – in 1797-1800, Methodist missionaries began in their turn: Walter Lawry in 1822-23, Borabora, Hape and Tafeta, Tahitian catechists, in 1836, and John Thomas and John Hutchinson in 1821-29; but at the start the Protestant mission made little progress. The ministers Nathaniel Turner and William Cross, who arrived in 1827, found some success in the island of Tongatapu at Nuku’alofa under the protection of Aleamotu’a (an important high chief of that island, his title being Tu’i Kanokupolu) who was, at last, baptised in 1830 by Nathaniel Turner. His grand-nephew, Taufa’ahau, having become Tu’i Ha’apai, accepted the native missionary Pita Vi and, in 1830, John Thomas. Soon almost all the people of Ha’apai (the central group of islands in the larger Tongan group) became Methodist Christians. In 1831 Finau Ulu-Kalala Tuapasi, the Tu’i Vava’u, embraced the Methodist Christian faith, and the inhabitants of Vava’u followed his example. At his death two years later he named Taufu’atau his successor as sovereign of Vava’u. So, at the time Bataillon was writing the present document, the Methodists were triumphing in the central and northern islands of Tonga, but on the island of Tongatapu some chiefs still resisted the political power of Aleamotu’a and the Methodist religion as well (Latukefu pp25-29, 32-33, 61-66. More will be heard of Aleamot’a and Taufa’ahau in documents 62 [44], f/n10, 153 [22] f/n 9, 217 [6] f/n 14.
  25. The Protestant mission in Fiji started when the London Missionary Society’s missionaries in Tahiti sent the catechists Taharaa, Hatai, and Faaruea who, having been detained for four years in Tonga, reached Lakeba (in the Lau group east of Fiji) in 1830, then moved to Oneata Island in 1832. They prepared the way, so to speak, for the Wesleyan Methodist ministers David Cargill and William Cross, who arrived at Lakeba in October 1835 (“recently”) with Josua Mateinaniu, a Fijian converted in Tonga (cf Garrett p102-3, Derrick p71-72)
  26. By the phrase “a group of another type”, Bataillon means the LMS missionaries who had come to Samoa from Tahiti (in the Society Islands). A first contact with the Christian religion in the Samoan island group had occurred towards the end of the 1830s. It was brought about by some Samoans who had been converted to Methodism in Tonga, and then went back home. In 1830 John Williams, the great missionary of the LMS, on the way to Samoa, stopped at Tongatapu where, while he was visiting the Wesleyan missionaries Nathaniel Turner and William Cross, he spoke to them about dividing the areas to be evangelised, leaving Tonga and Fiji to the Wesleyans (Methodists) and Samoa to the LMS. In 1834 he presented this arrangement to London in terms of a real contract. As has just been said, John Williams went to Samoa in 1830, and landed on the island of Savai’i, where he left seven (or eight) catechists originally from the Society Islands and from the island of Aitutaki. On his second visit in 1832, Williams brought other catechists, Makea and Tiara, both from Rarotonga. The Oceanian catechists, however, saw their activity limited by rules which had been imposed on them; and so an indigenous sect started by Sio Vili offered competition which harmed the Protestant mission. The Wesleyan missionary Peter Turner, after arriving in 1835, was finally forced to leave Samoa in 1939, because of the agreement of 1830. In 1836 (“even more recently”) there arrived the great reinforcement for the LMS: A W Murray, Thomas Heath, George Pratt, Charles Hardie and three others. In a few months, the first LMS church in Samoa was set up, and still more soon after. The newcomers scattered through the group of islands. It would be hard to distinguish “the main island” that Bataillon mentions above, because Savai’i is the biggest and Upolu the most important, so it cannot be said that this mission “took over” one island so soon (cf Garrett 029, 84-85; 121-126; Gilson 068-94, 99 and also docs 413 [12 f/n 10], 621 [1 f/n 3] and [9]
  27. Bataillon witnessed the refusal of Taufa’ahau, influenced by the insistence of the Methodist missionaries John Thomas and William A Brooks, to allow Pompallier and his companions to enter Vava’u in October 1837 (cf Doc 22 [3, f/n 5]). To show how politics and religion affected each other, examples can be seen in Tahiti and Hawaii (mentioned in Doc 21 [8, f/n 18] and the support [by missionaries - translator’s note] of Taufa’ahau’s political ambitions in Tonga (cf Latukefu p66-67, 83-85)
  28. Ma’atu, the chief of the island of Niuatoputapu (at the far northern end of the Tongan group, about 360 km from Wallis) landed on Wallis about 1834 where he made several converts to the Methodist faith. When he went back to his island, some Wallisians went with him (among them was Susana Pukega who in November 1842 would sign the request for women missionaries for Wallis (Doc 224). He came back there with about 50 men from his island, accompanied by Tongan Methodist missionaries from Vava’u. This voyage was organised by the Methodist minister on Fafa’u, David Cargill. (cf Henquel p 35-36, Poncet p15)
  29. Cf above 14 [f/n 18]
  30. Vaimua Lavelua, the king of Uvea, welcomed the newcomers, who succeeded in converting a growing number of natives, but in the end the Tongan Methodists became arrogant toward the chiefs of Uvea, and some of them took possession of cooked food prepared for a funeral celebration: this sparked a war. After nine days’ fighting, the Tongans went to Falaleu to the royal house, where a Wallisian chief, Koloaku, suddenly suspecting that Tongans were about to attack, roused the Wallisians against them, and there was a general massacre of the Tongans. The only survivors were four men, the women and some children. This must have happened in 1386. (cf Henquel p 35-38, Poncet p 15-16) Now king Vaimua Lavelua had ‘relatives’ or a ‘first cousin’ among the Tongan Protestants who had come from the island of Niue themtoputapu.(cf infra [19] and [23])
  31. Psalm 91 (92):6. How wonderful are your works, O Lord! And how impenetrable your plans.
  32. The title of ‘first minister’ (the first of the king’s ministers) was Kivalu, but the man who bore this hereditary title was often called only by this title (for the title cf Burrows p 70, 74-75, 77, 144; for the cases when the title holder was designated by the name only, cf Burrows P 37, 39, 61, 77-79, Henquel p 29-30, 34, Poncet p 20, 24; see also Doc 125 [3, f/n 5]
  33. TheTu’ugahala, chief of the islet of Nukutea (cf below [19 f/n them40]
  34. Cf above [15 them & notes]
  35. Paul David, who served as an interpreter for the missionaries (cf Poncet p21, Rozier Ecrits Chanel p 203 f/n 5
  36. Lavelua Palekuaoal, cousin to the king Vaimua Lavelua, had participated in the massacre of the crew of the English ship, the Oldham in March 1832 (see [14] f/n 21 above). He had himself baptised later, but then went over to Protestantism (cf Poncet p15, 21). He was seriously wounded in 1844, at the beginning of the civil war which began then (cf Doc 902 [30] f/n 41)
  37. King Vaimua Lavelua then lived at Falaleuy (cf Poncet p21)
  38. Tu’ungahala, chief of Nukuatea (cf below [19] (f/n 40)
  39. Horn Island is Futuna. The pro-vicar apostolic, Peter Chanel, stayed in Wallis from March 25 until April 29 1838 (cf Rozier, Ecrits p 28) while ready to leave from March 28, 1838 (cf Poncet, p22)
  40. Certainly Curtis, an Englishman who already was living on Wallis Island when Bataillon arrived (cf Poncet, 21, 23)
  41. Tu’ugahala welcomed Bataillon to the islet of Nukuatea, of which he was the chief, in November 1837 when the latter took refuge there following the attack of and chief Lavelua Pulekuaola, afflicted with insanity (cf and above [17], and Poncet 21). According to Rozier (Ecrtis Chanel p203, f/n 2, Tu’ugahala had already sailed on whaling ships and had learned on them a certain amount of diplomacy. At first he seemed sympathetic to Bataillon and went as far as reading and explaining to the catechumens on the islet, the letters of instruction that the missionary sent them (cf below [25], Doc 42 [4]). He was a prince of the royal family (Doc 38 [6]), a cousin of King Vaimua Lavelua and also his son-in-law, having married one of his daughters, Naukoni (cf Henquel p 26- 27, 38, Poncet p12). In January 1842, however, Bataillon observed that Tu’ugahala was wanting “to create a religion accommodated to his passions” (cf Doc 125, [16]. In 1843, Mathieu remarked that Tu’ugahala was giving Bataillon “a lot of reason for concern” (cf Doc 291 [3]) and, in 1844, and that he was a pagan who supported “the Catholic religion, while at the same time creating trouble of all sorts for the missionaries” (cf Doc 328 [9], also Doc 373 [9])
  42. No doubt Bataillon is speaking about the taula’atua (divine anchors): priests or priestesses of the pre-Christian Wallisian religion; the Wallisian word atua meant the spirits and divinities before the introduction of Christianity (cf Rensch, under the terms ‘atua and taula; Henquel p 40, Burrows 84, 87)
  43. Cf above [15] and f/notes. In [23] below it will be said that King Vaimua Lavelua was haunted by the memory of having killed his own first cousin. It is knows that his mother, Tupou-falepouono, came from Niue (Niuatoputapu) birthplace of Ma’atu and his followers, the Methodists who had made a first attempt at evangelising Uvea (cf Henquel p 26-27, burrows p39)
  44. Ps 69 (70):6 I am poor and needy.
  45. Ps 85 (86):9 All the nations you have created will come and bow down before you, Lord, and glorify your name.
  46. Ps 97 (98):3 Unto the ends of the earth, people have seen the victory of our God.
  47. Ps 88 989):50 Lord, where are your mercies of former times, that you had sworn to David in your faithfulness?
  48. Ps 107 (108):5 Your mercy is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness as the clouds
  49. Ps 102 (103):14 He knows what we are made of; he remembers we are dust.
  50. Ps 46 (47):8 Because God is the king of the whole earth, sing to make it known.
  51. Ps 64 (65):6 With justice you answer us with marvels, God our Saviour, the hope of all the ends of the earth, and the far distant islands.
  52. Ps 43 (44):6 Thanks to you, we conquered our enemies, through your name, we subdued our aggressors.
  53. Ps 96 (97): The Lord reigns. Let the earth exult, let all the coastlands rejoice!
  54. Nuku’atea, an islet in the Wallis lagoon, situated off the south coast of the main island and quite near the main channel into the lagoon. Tu’ugahala is its chief.
  55. In 1839, Easter Day fell on 31 March.

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