1 July 1843 - Fr Jérôme Grange Fr Nicoud, Parish Priest of Saint Clair (Isère), Tonga
The locals can recall Cook’s visit 70 years earlier. Gives some geographic account of Tongatapu (the main island) – its flatness impressive. Before describing the mission he describes the country and its produce, in much the same way as Chevron had recently done (doc 261). Very enthusiastic about the pineapple. Like Chevron, finds them dirty in their habits. But they are courteous and willing to share what they have. Customs much like those of Wallis.
Vices – as described by Chevron. They are not idolatrous – worship spirits only. Maui the greatest god – fished up Tonga from the sea. Grange describes some of their beliefs. But says these are losing their attraction for the young people. Says the Tongans have more respect and concern for the sick than the Maori.
Very impressed with the care of the dead.
Justice in a strict sense does not exist. All depends on the whim of the chiefs/king.
The custom of expected sharing of food seems good at first, but in fact leads to laziness – no-one thinks of providing for himself his own needs.
Very impressed with houses – well suited to the climate. Canoes also admirable – use of cordage instead of nails.
Recent wars of religion have led to huge forts being built – good description. Then follows a description of the most recent attempt of a Protestant tribe to capture Pea, with help from an English vessel. The Protestants and their English allies were defeated and three cannons captured.
Their amusements described. Singing is very impressive.
The mission. The island has been dominated by the Protestants for 20 years – converted mainly in the style of Mahomet – by force of arms. The harshness of the punitive regime that existed – somewhat ameliorated since arrival of Catholics. A little, but steady, progress in conversion of the pagan people of Pea is being made. Then follow several stories showing the understanding some catechumens have of the Catholic faith. Notes that women are slower to convert than men – believes reason is that women have low status in society.
The first church has been built – described – Father Grange very pleased with it.
The writer ends with an appeal for more priests to answer the call of the missions.