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1855.] INTELLIGENCE FROM NEW ZEALAND.
87 Wanganui—thirty-six miles the first day, and thirty the second-there and back, carrying ten pounds and a half there, and fifteen pounds and a half back. It was very fatiguing, as the road lies along the beach, and the sand was sometimes hard, often very soft, with nothing to see except a desolate range of sand-hills stretching on and on, behind and before. All the water was hot, and the sun scorching. When I got to Mr. Taylor's my lips were thrice the usual size, and my face unbearable; but a kind reception made all square. The first day I was caught in a violent thunderstorm. I crouched under a bank, for I was the only object for the lightning. After this storm was over there was another, four miles from me, and, judging from the frequency of the lightning, it was the worst I have yet seen. Again and again I counted six flashes in two minutes, and many of these were triple. The lightning all day long-for the clouds were all around me—was straight as a dart. I was thoroughly wet, and glad enough to get shelter. The only amusement in this journey was Fright's—my little dog-eagerness to catch all the gulls. Coming back, it blew very hard from the N.W.: the foam was blown inland in large balls. I shall leave for Wanganui in a month. On my return I had to cross the Manawatu, with this gale blowing in and the tide running out, so there was a pretty swell on. I told the ferryman I must cross, and his answer was not encouraging"That depends on yourself: do as you choose.” He asked me if I could manage a paddle, and, giving me one, placed me in the bow. I was most thoroughly drenched, as every wave broke right over me, and I was afraid of being rolled out. The canoe would have floated had we upset, so I could have clung to that; but I was very glad when my paddle touched the ground.
At this crisis in the history of the New-Zealand Mission, when there is much to fill us with anxious solicitude, much to forewarn us that, if we were to slack our hand too soon from this work, a retrograde movement might ensue of a most painful character, the Lord, by fearful earthquakes, is reminding man of his dependent state, and of the celerity with which, if he be found careless and backsliding, sudden destruction may come upon him. New Zealand has recently been visited by very solemn dispensations of this kind, of which the following extract from the pen of the same Missionary will enable us to form some conception
Jan. 23-The natives say that Taranaki was once close to Taupo, the centre volcano. They quarrelled, and Taranaki, in dudgeon, walked off to Cape Egmont, scooping out the Wanganui river on its way. This is doubtless true. A lake called Taranaki is in the centre of the island. When the centre mountain sunk, forming this lake, Taranaki arose at Cape Egmont, while an earthquake cut the bed of the Wanganui river.
I had written thus far, when I was interrupted by a most fearful earthquake. I have to thank God that I and all of us are well this morning. Every one here says they have never known a worse. At a quarter past nine, P.M., I was thrown out of my chair into the middle of the room, and the house began to heave fearfully. My chimney came into my room and that of the boys, not touching any one. Mr. Baker was with me,
[AUGUST, and we both rushed to the door. After the chimney was down the only danger was lest the heavy beams over our heads should fall, so we stood at the door, ready to run at the first warning. The first shock lasted in its violence four or five minutes. It was impossible to stand without holding. The motions of the earth did not cease for half-an-hour, and from then up till now-eight o'clock—we have had at least 250 shocks, some very sharp. At one time of the night, as soon as one had ceased, we could hear the warning rumble of another. The earthquakes are still going on, and we may have another as violent any moment. I never wish to pass such another night. At eleven o'clock I went round the village, speaking to a few of the natives, and endeavouring to quiet some of the white people. The shocks came from north-west by west; but at two o'clock they seemed to be right under our feet, and to change the direct movement for a twisting one. In this house one tall chimney is down, and another has two deep cracks. The chimney of the oven and the oven are down. The chimneys of my house, Mr. Hadfield's, Martyn's, and Tamahana's, are down; and I think 3001. will not cover our loss. It is most marvellous, but I have lost nothing. One tumbler alone fell, but did not break. The room is full of dust and bricks, &c., but that is nothing. The school chimneys have fallen, and filled both the rooms, but no one has been hurt, and for that we cannot be too thankful. May God give me grace to serve Him more heartily for this His care over us. The ground is rent in every direction. We have had fine hot weather for a month. On Monday it rained. Tuesday, at a quarter past nine P.M., the earthquake began, and the sky immediately cleared : at eleven o'clock it was fine and starlight. All the afternoon of Tuesday it blew a heavy gale from the north-west, and at six began to rain very heavily, but, as I said, all this ceased when the earthquake began. It made me and many others feel very sick. It is a fearfully unpleasant sensation to feel the earth lifting under your feet. Had it come twelve hours earlier, I and five Maori girls must have been killed, for I was teaching in the room now filled with rubbish. I shuddered when I saw it. Had London been where Otaki is, I do not think one house would have remained standing.
Jan. 25—Slight earthquakes are still going on: we have about 100 in the twenty-four hours. To-day I have been all over the country: it is fearfully torn. Although I felt the shocks, yet from these rents I know what their force was. Many of our drains are choked up. In one place the cracks reached to water, which seems then to have boiled up. Our beautiful church is unhurt, as it is all of wood. Last night I counted nine shocks, from nine to ten o'clock : each begins with a dull booming noise, like a gun fired at sea. On Sunday we are to have a thankoffering, and to-day twenty-four potato-baskets have been sent. One man was killed at Wellington by a fit brought on by the fall of some bricks on his foot; and in one place the road between us and Wellington is destroyed. One teacher, after service, told me that our river's bed had opened, and for some little time the river was dried up; but I do not quite believe this, as the Maoris almost always exaggerate.
JAPAN. We have endeavoured to introduce our readers to some knowledge of the Japanese. We have seen that in many respects they may be
89 deemed a civilized people. In manufactures they are superior to other heathen nations. Their sabres and daggers are of superior workman. ship. In the polishing of metals, and their silk manufactures, they excel. Their best porcelain is superior to the Chinese. They paint, engrave, and print. Nearly every individual is able to read and write. Captain Golownin, who was detained for some time a prisoner in Japan, mentions the following fact as an evidence of the degree of knowledge which prevails among the inferior classes. “A common soldier, who was one of our guard during our captivity, one day took a tea-cup, pointed to it, and asked me whether I knew that our earth was round, and what was the relative position of Europe and Japan; point. ing out, at the same time, pretty accurately upon the cup the respective situations of both countries upon the globe. Several other soldiers showed us geometrical figures, and inquired whether these methods of measuring and dividing the earth were known to us.”
In their houses the floor is covered with clean and handsome mats, over which carpets and cloths are often spread. The interior is adorned with arms of different kinds, porcelain vessels, and curiosities: the walls covered with coloured or gold paper, and, in the houses of the rich, înlaid with various kind of rare wood, curiously carved and gilt. In their gardens may be seen dwarf trees, reared in flower-pots, and others as curiously enlarged beyond their natural dimensions. They are a well-dressed people; persons of moderate means wearing silk dresses, and the rich, materials still more costly, the coinmon people generally being clothed in cotton. On the chauri, or state dress, the family arins are embroidered on the sleeves, breast, and back. In their bearing to each other they are painfully polite. In the streets, when they meet, they move as if intending to kneel; and if it be a person of rank whom they have met, they so bend the knee as to touch the ground with their fingers. Many are the bows and inquiries that are interchanged.
But the Japanese are heathen, and therefore cannot be civilized in the true sense of the expression. Their civilization, like their lacguered ware, which has its polish on the surface, is superficial. If we look into their domestic relations we shall find this to be the case.
A Japanese can only have one wife, who, in the upper classes, must be of the same rank with himself: but he may muliiply concubines. Besides, the husband may put away his wife at pleasure. Either there can be no real attachment, or else extreme misery under such circumstances of married life. Infanticide is practised among them, according to Golownin, more particularly in the case of weakly and deformed children. Children of both sexes and all ranks proceed to school, the children of the upper class advancing from those of an elementary to others of a superior description. The girls are educated in needlecraft, embroidery, the management of a household ; the boys in the details of Japanese etiquette, a thorough knowledge of the almanac, that they may distinguish between lucky and unlucky days. But most especially they are taught the mystery of the hara-kiri, or happy despatch, that peculiar mode of suicide, abdomen-ripping, by which a Japanese is compelled by their social customs, under certain conjunctures of circumstances, to put an end to his life. If he falls under the displeasure of his superiors, or is in danger of disgrace, whether deservedly or otherwise, he has recourse to the hara-kiri. The fearful act is perpe
[AUGUST, trated sometimes privately, in the family circle, or publicly before assembled friends. Sometimes a splendid entertainment is prepared in a temple, to which relatives, friends, and priests are invited. It terminates with the hara-kiri, which is regarded as such an honourable death as to remove from the reputation of the deceased, and from his family, any disgrace wnich might otherwise have attached to them. Sometimes the death is concealed, if it be in any way for the advantage of the family, and is then called nayboen. When the necessity for this ceases, and the time comes for the acknowledgment of the death, all screens and sliding-doors throughout the house are turned upside down, and the garments inside out. The family remain in solitude, friends charge themselves with all the details of such a time; one remaining at the street-door to receive the visits of condolence, which are paid outside the door, lest impurity should be contracted by entering the house of death.
Christianity is the alone civilizing element, because it deals with the heart. In the purifying and elevating influence which it exercises within, it enables a man to act as God would have him, in the various domestic relations. It penetrates the laws of a nation and pervades its customs, so as to discountenance vicious and cruel practices, and distinguish and recommend the pure morality of the gospel. There is a national standard of right and wrong; and, although men may continue to do wrong, yet they do so under the condemnation of their conscience. A man in England may be guilty of suicide-unhappily such instances do occur—but he does so in a secret, hurried manner, as knowing it to be an act of gravest criminality, from which he will be prevented should he be suspected of such a desperate intention. How different from the Japanese, who glories in it, while bis friends stand round, and, so far from endeavouring to prevent him, honour him for the act. In heathen lands evil is called good. In lands like our own, blessed with gospel light, evil is called evil. National sanction encourages crime in the one, national reprobation discourages it in the other.
- CONDITION OF WOMEN IN HEATHEN AND MAHOMMEDAN
COUNTRIES. WHEN we cast our eye over the yet unevangelized portions of the earth, we are constantly reminded of the punishment which God pronounced on Eve, namely, that her's should be a state of subjection and of servitude; and we see the fulfilment of it, just as we see in Africá the fulfilment of the prophecy which, uttered as a punishment on an ungrateful and undutiful child, contained in itself the germ of all the misery and moral degradation which thenceforward became the distinguishing mark of his posterity—“Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” But as, in the one case, we see the blessed effects of the gospel in raising the children of Ham from this state of servitude, so that, instead of tyranny on the one side and slavery on the other, the people of Christ in Europe and Africa by love serve one another; so, in the other, we find the gospel raising the daughters of Eve from the state of degradation and utter worthlessness in which, in heathen countries, it finds them, and placing them in a position to glorify God, and with patience and humility to endeavour to advance the cause of that Saviour to whom they owe so much. In Him “there is neither Jew
1855.] HEATHEN AND MAHOMMEDAN COUNTRIES. nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female,” for “all are one in Christ Jesus." In order to awaken in ourselves more of zeal in His service, let us consider the state of the female part of the population in heathen countries.
Whether in Asia, Africa, America, or Australia, wherever heathenism prevails, we find woman equally degraded. In Australia, “ while the men walk along with a proud and majestic air, the despised and degraded women follow behind them, crouching like slaves, bearing heavy burdens on their backs, with their little one astride on their shoulders. They are the drudges in all heavy work; and after their lord's bave finished the repast which the women have prepared for them, these despised creatures sit contentedly at a distance, and gather up the bones and fragments which the men throw across their shoulders, as we should throw meat to a dog.” In Caffreland it is the custom actually to sell them for cattle. In India they are treated as slaves. They are expressly permitted by law to be beaten : they are by system deprived of education: they are debarred from religious instruction ; they may not join in religious worship with their husbands, and are considered by the laws as irreclaimably wicked. In China-denied the rudiments of learning; cut off from the sympathies and social intercourse of their nearest relatives ; having no grounds of happiness, either present or future-the unhappy creatures not unfrequently take refuge in suicide, which is a common crime among the female population of China. Among the North-American Indians their women are said to serve as domestics, tailors, peasants, and oxen. They till the ground, carry wood and water, build huts, make canoes, and fish, and are looked upon as mere beasts of burden. The same sad tale remains to be told of the natives of the Indian and Polynesian Archipelago, and so on through the whole range of heathen and Mahommedan countries. The heart sickens at the thought of so many human beings, in the midst of present misery and unhappiness, unsustained by one bright hope for the future. The gospel is the only means of rescuing them from this position: civilization will not do it, for the Chinese are comparatively civilized. Yet the Chinese ladies, with good intellectual powers, are considered unworthy of the smallest instruction. The most favourable sentiment with regard to this point, in the writings of their philosophers, is this, that since “ monkeys and parrots had been taught, women might, no doubt, be instructed, if their husbands were disposed to make the experiment.”
The gospel, which is "mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds” of Satan, can raise these poor creatures from this state of degradation in which they are, by showing them what great things Christ has done, even for them, and then, how wonderful is the change! It is like that spoken of in the book of the prophet Isaiah, where it is said, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” Many examples of this blessed change we have in our different Mission fields, examples which should quicken us to more of earnest effort in spreading the gospel. It was the power of grace that gave fortitude to our female converts in Abbeokuta, when they set the example of unflinching courage in persecution, and refused, in the hour of trial, to deny the Saviour whom they had found. It was this grace that strengthened