From a Missionary Journal
[IN the early part of the nineteenth century a number of Hawaiian boys were brought to this country by traders, and when the Foreign Mission school was founded at Cornwall, Connecticut, in 1816, they were placed in this school. One of their teachers, Samuel Ruggles, became much interested in them and in their reports of their native islands, then a pagan land. When the American Board of Missions decided to establish a Mission in Hawaii, then called the Sandwich Islands, Samuel Ruggles was one of the first to offer himself as a missionary teacher. In October 1819, a group of seven young men and their wives, most of whom had been married but a few weeks, left Boston on the Brig Thaddeus, expecting to spend the rest of their lives in an unknown land. Three native youths went with them, also George Tamoree, son of the chief of an island. This journal was written by Samuel and Nancy Wells Ruggles and sent home to their mother and friends by the first vessel leaving Hawaii after their landing. Since the death of Mr. Ruggles it has been in the possession of a granddaughter, Mrs. Frances S. Loomis, of Madison, Wisconsin. — LOUISE LOOMIS CHRISTISON]
ON board the Brig Thaddeus. Oct. 23, 1819. The trying scene is now over, the parting hand given, the farewell past. We shall no more behold the face of that dear, ever dear mother whom we so ardently love, and who has shed so many tears on our account. We shall not again in the flesh greet those beloved brethren & sisters and our dear friends with whom we have often had such sweet counsel and walked to the house of God in company. Their advice and instructions we shall no longer enjoy, but we shall have their prayers. Morning and evening their closets shall witness the fervency of their entreaties in behalf of a far distant brother and sister. Consoling thought, which will cheer us while we are crossing the tempestuous deep, cheer us when we are strangers in a pagan land, cheer us while we are endeavoring to lead the untutored heathen from nature up to nature’s God. A thought that will soften the arrows of persecution, and comfort us when we are called to pass the furnace of affliction. Farewell honored mother, we hope ere long to meet you in the New Jerusalem; may you enjoy every temporal and spiritual blessing which shall be for your good, and when you close your earthly pilgrimage, may you go forth like a shock of corn fully ripe. A long farewell.
Dear heathen seminary at Cornwall, you are doubly dear to our hearts. We have prayed for you, we shall pray for you still. May the great head of the church ever preside over you. We hope to hear from time to time of your abundant prosperity, and we hope that in due time many of your children may come to the S. Islands and help us. Farewell, dear youths, we shall never forget you.
And now America; for the last time we fix our eyes upon your dear shores. Your places which have known us will know us no more forever. We look upon you with hearts full of emotion as you recede from our view; we shed a tear or two, and cheerfully bid you a long, long farewell.
SAMUEL & NANCY RUGGLES.
Sabbath Jan. 2nd, 1820. A delightful morning indeed; to me peculiarly so, my health is comfortable and I feel more like enjoying the Sabbath than I have before since I left dear America. The weather is not excessively hot, tho’ the air is faint; the sea calm and unruffled, no swelling waves dash against the sides of our floating habitation, threatening our destruction; no distressing gales beat upon us as if determined to overthrow us into the depths of the sea; all is peace and tranquillity while we proceed silently along the coast of Patagonia at the rate of one mile an hour. Perhaps if our A. friends could see us this morning, they would wish themselves with us. Though they cannot be with us they will remember us to-day with deep interest. May God hear your prayers for us, and make you so unspeakably happy, as hereafter to know that your desires have entered the ears of the Almighty and that those now degraded Islanders are become the true worshippers of God.
I am full of faith, that the time has nearly arrived, when O. Idols will be no more; when instead of Marai, will be erected houses dedicated to the service of Obookiah’s God, and that land which is now grown over with thorns and nettles, become a fruitful field. — S. R.
Jan. 25th, 12 o’clock. After sailing ninety-five days without seeing land, we this morning at ten o’clock with joyful eyes and hearts discovered the Island of Terra del Fuego, about ten leagues ahead. Though it had more the appearance of a cloud than land yet the bare thought that it was land gave us pleasing sensations. Joy ran through my bosom, and for a moment I almost forgot that I was seasick. I have not enjoyed health for a single moment since I came on board the Thaddeus, nor do I expect to until I reach Owhyhee (Hawaii), but I would be far from complaining. The Lord lays his hand gently upon me and I will rejoice that I may suffer for his sake. I feel as I did before I left America, an increasing desire to spend my life in a remote corner of the globe, and wear out in the cause of my dear Redeemer. I am interrupted by the appearance of a large whale alongside. — S. R.
Feb. 24th. Crossed the tropic of Cancer this morning. We have again entered the torrid zone expecting to spend the remainder of our days in this unfavorable clime. Who would not be willing to endure the scorching heat of a sultry region a few fleeting days if thereby they may be instrumental of plucking immortal souls from the scorching of eternal burnings?
March 30th. Last night, about one o’clock brother Hopoo came to my room almost in an ecstasy of joy and told me to get up and see Owhyhee (Hawaii); I went on deck and by the bright moonlight could just discover it sixty miles from us. At daylight we could see plainly the high mountain Mahoonah Kaah (Mauna Kea) clothed in a thick mantle of snow. I will leave it to my friends to imagine what our feelings are at the sight of land, that land which we have long wished to see, and in which we hope to plant the standard of the cross and labour for Christ. This afternoon we sent a boat for the shore, but it was met by some canoes of natives, who gave us information that Tamahamaha (Kamehameha) the King1 was dead; Oreoreo (Liholiho) his eldest son succeeded him to the throne. They also informed us that their Taboos were all broken, their Marais burnt to ashes and their idols destroyed. They had been at war, but now all was peace and prosperity; and the men and women ate together and enjoyed equal privileges. We could hardly credit all this, but were constrained to exclaim in the language of our hearts, ‘What hath God wrought.’ — SAML. RUGGLES.
April 1st. Had a visit from the chief, his two wives, and two widows of Tamahamaha, with a numerous train of attendants. The name of heathen has long been familiar to my ears, but half of their real wretchedness was never told me. O my dear Christian friends, you who enjoy the exalted privileges of the Gospel & civilization, I entreat you to think of the heathen and remember that you must shortly meet them at the bar of Jehovah; and answer for the feelings and conduct which you now exercise toward them. The Chief was dressed in English and appeared well. His wives and the Queens were clothed in China dresses on account of our being on board. They generally go almost naked. The queens are monstrous women, judged to weigh about four hundred pounds each. Their heads were both crowned with a wreath of yellow feathers. The sight of white females was a novelty to them. They expressed a desire to become acquainted with our customs, were much pleased with the idea of writing, tried themselves, and succeeded very well. The Chief dined with the mission family, but the Queens chose to eat by themselves. Their provision was raw fish and poi. They ate with all the simplicity of untaught barbarians, without any politeness or even decency.
2nd. This has been a new Sabbath to us all. The Chief and his family came on board for the purpose of accompanying us to Kiarooah (Kialua), the place of the King’s residence. One of the Queens brought a piece of cloth and requested us to make a gown like ours. Thomas told her it was the Lord’s day and we would make it to-morrow. She answered, miti (that is good). How unlike to those peaceful Sabbaths I have enjoyed in America have been the scenes of this day. Instead of a little retired spot in my chamber, I am thronged with these degraded natives, whose continual chattering has become wearisome to me, yet I think this has been the most interesting Sabbath of my life. In the afternoon brother B. preached from Isa. 42.4. — ‘and the isles shall wait for his law.’ The heathens paid a listening attention to the sound of the voice and the appearance of the audience. Oh may the time be hastened in its season, when these Chiefs & Queens who have now heard the words of life shall become nursing fathers and mothers to this little church. — N. R.
5th. The natives appear very kind, express their generosity by sending us hogs, potatoes, melons, and various kinds of fruits. Fresh provisions relish well after living almost half a year on salt food. We understand that the Kings and Chiefs are all pleased with our object in settling among them but some wicked white men are endeavoring to prejudice them against us, by telling them that our intention is to get possession of the Islands. We know not yet what God designs to do with us, but we trust that the enemy will not be suffered to triumph over us.
6th. Oreoreo (Liholiho) and his five young Queens came on board to-day and dined with us. He is a young man of about twenty, appears very goodnatured, but extremely indolent in his habits. The wives appear pleasant, and say they wish to learn to read. Two of them are his half sisters, and one of them was formerly the wife of his father. — N. R.
7th. My dear Mother, were it in my power I would gladly paint to you in lively colors the interesting scenes of this morning, and the emotions of my heart in placing my feet on land for the first time after a confinement of about five months and a half on board the Thaddeus. It is impossible for one who never experienced the inconveniences and trials attending so long and tedious a voyage at sea, to realize the peculiar sensations of being set at liberty on their native element. As soon as we approached the beach we were discovered by the natives, who flocked about the boat in such swarms that it was with much difficulty we could land and force our way to the King’s house, which was about twenty rods from the water. When we arrived at the door we found the King at breakfast on his mat; we took our seats and were soon treated with a glass of wine, and invited to stay and dine. Soon after the Queens made their appearance, each one attended by a servant holding a feather fly brush in their hands.
After the customary ceremonies were passed they sat down on the mat and amused themselves by looking at us & making their remarks. At dinner we were happily disappointed to see the order and decency of the table. It was set in the American style, furnished with a baked pig, roasted fish, potatoes, tarrow &c. &c. After dinner we took a walk but were thronged with such a multitude, that our walk was uncomfortable.
We are the first American females that ever visited these Islands; if an old man or woman could run before us and take a peek under our bonnets they appeared highly gratified. The King has not yet given us a decisive answer but says he will soon. It will be a severe trial to us if we should be sent away without being permitted to tell them the way of salvation. I think that notwithstanding our prospects look rather dark at present, the cloud will soon disappear and we shall see our way before us. Our God is all powerful, his arm will protect. — N. R.
10th. At length we have received a decisive answer from the King. He wishes two couple to stay with him, and also two of the natives; and the remainder to establish themselves at Woahoo (Oahu), an Island one hundred miles distant. This is just what we desired as Woahoo is much more fertile than Owhyhee (Hawaii) and much better calculated to be the place of our principal station. He requests that our physician be left with him, accordingly we have concluded to leave here brothers Thurston & Holman with their wives, and Thomas & William. He has provided a house for them, and promises to furnish them with a cooking stove, provisions, and water.
Kiarooah (Kialua) village is built on a bed of lava where nothing will grow but cocoanuts, tobacco, and a few shrubs. There is no fresh water but what is brought in Calabashes between four and five miles. The houses are covered with hay; the floor is of mats made of bulrushes, which answer also for their beds. — N. W. R.
22nd. We still experience the continual kindness of both white and tawny friends. The King has ordered the chiefs of this island to build three houses for our use, and enclose them in a yard of about five acres. He has also given us a tarro patch, and says when we have eaten out all the tarro he will give us another. Hanoore lives in our family, is a dear brother to us; he has had a piece of good land given him, with three houses upon it. We cannot help enjoying ourselves when the Lord is doing so much for us. — NANCY.
May 3rd. Made Attooi at daylight this morning. Like all the other Islands its first appearance was rude and mountainous, but on approaching nearer, beautiful plains and fruitful vallies presented themselves to view, looking almost like the cultivated fields of America, while large groves of cocoanuts and bananas waved their tops as if to welcome us to their shores. Thought I while passing these pleasant fields, can this be one of the dark places of the earth which is filled with the habitation of cruelty? Has the sun of righteousness never yet shone upon it? Is it a fact that the immortal beings are shrouded in midnight darkness, without one minister of Christ to direct them to the city of refuge, the place of rest and glory? Alas! they are heathens. Their mean and scanty dwellings and the appearance of men, women, and children coming off to us naked, plainly bespeak that they are yet savages, ignorant of God and unacquainted with the precepts of the gospel.
They have indeed thrown away their idols as worthless things unable to save them, but they have not heard of Jesus, no Christian has yet said to them, there is a God in Heaven who made them and the world, nor pointed them to the Saviour, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. O thou God of nations, here make thyself known; here plant thy cross, and possess this land. — At 11 o’clock came to anchor at Wimai (Waimea), opposite the fort. A canoe came off to us with several of the King’s men, one of whom could speak English. George had kept himself concealed in the cabin until we told him that one of his father’s favorite men was on board, and we thought best that his arrival should be made known to him. We then introduced him to the young prince. He embraced him and kissed him without saying a word and turned around, immediately went on deck, and into his canoe telling his companions they must go on shore, for their young master had come. A salute of twentyone guns was soon fired from the brig and returned from the fort. — Brother W., George, and myself, made preparations and came on shore. On account of the surf we were obliged to land half a mile west of the King’s house. We were there met by a crowd of natives who would have obstructed our way entirely, had there not been men appointed to clear a passage for us, which they did by beating them off with clubs. When we arrived at the house, Tamoree and his Queen were reclining on a sofa; as soon as George entered the door, his father arose, clasped him in his arms and pressed his nose to his son’s after the manner of the country; both were unable to speak for some time. The scene was truly affecting. I know not when I have wept more freely. When they had become a little composed, Tamoree spoke and said his heart was so joyful that he could not talk much till to-morrow, but discovering brother W. and myself, who had till then remained unnoticed, he enquired who we were. George then introduced us to him as his friends who had come from America to accompany him home. The old gentleman then embraced us in the same manner as he had done his son, frequently putting his nose to ours and calling us his hicahne or friends.
A supper was soon provided for us consisting of a couple of hogs baked whole after the American manner, several fowls and a dog cooked after the style of the Island, together with potatoes, tarro, bananas, cocoanuts, and watermelons, brandy, gin, wines, &c. The table was set in good style; our supper was indeed excellent. A new house was assigned for brother W. and myself during our stay on the Island, a few rods from the King’s and several men to attend upon us. We shall now retire to rest after looking up to God with thanksgiving for mercies already received and humbly praying that a blessing may attend our visit to these heathens. Perhaps it will be the first Christian prayer that was ever offered to God on this Island. — S. R.
4th. This morning early, I went to the King’s house, was met at the door by himself & the Queen who took me by each arm, led me in and seated me between them upon the sopha; and after having several times put their noses to mine the king inquired if it was true that I had lived with Hoomehoome (the real name of George) in America, and eat with him and slept with him, saying his son had told him many things that he could not fully understand, and that I had been his friend a long time, and would stay here and instruct his people to read. I told him it was true, and that the good people of America who loved his son and loved him and his people, had sent several men and women to instruct his people to read and work as they do in America. When I told him this, he with his wife broke out in one voice, ‘Miti, miti, nooe coah aloha America’; that is, good, good, very great love for America; and then burst into tears. After a short time he asked me how long I would be willing to stay and teach his Island. I told him I wished to spend my life here and die here. He then embraced me again and said, ‘kacke o’ouoe Mahkooah oe oou, wihena o-ou Mahkooah oe’; that is you, my son, I you father, my wife you mother. I endeavored to tell him something about God, but the subject was entirely new to him and he could understand but little. — S. R.
8th. Spent the former part of the day in walking about six miles into the country. Visited many families which are indeed the abodes of ignorance, superstition, and wickedness. The inhabitants treated me with all the attention and hospitality which their limited circumstances would afford, and even carried their generosity to excess; but oh the darkness and ignorance in which they are shrouded! It is enough to draw tears from the eyes of any friend of humanity, to enter one of their dwellings and witness the vices to which they are abandoned. No sooner is the stranger seated upon the mat, than the husband as a token of respect and kindness offers him his wife and the father his daughter. I have frequently told them, that such conduct was not good, and that there was a great God who saw all their actions & was displeased with such things; but they will say all white men before say it is good, but you are not like other white men. — What would the missionary of the cross do if it were not for the consolations contained in the promises of God; these to him are sweet and refreshing. Without them before him, he would soon faint and die; but with them he may go to his work and cheerfully labor and toil through life amidst all the depravity and degradation of heathen and savages, remembering that God has pledged his word, that the heathen shall be given to Christ and become lovers of righteousness. — S. R.
10th. This morning Tamoree sent for me, said his interpreter was going away to be gone several days and he wished to say a few things to me before he went. ‘I want to know,’ says he, ‘if you love Hoomehoome, if you love me, if you like to stay here and learn my people.’ I assured him, that I loved his son and him, wished to spend my life in doing them good, and not only I, but Mr. Whitney and all who came with us, wished the same. ‘Hoomehoome tell me so,’ says he; he then shed tears freely, and said, ‘I love Hoomehoome, I love him very much, more than my other children. I thought he was dead; I cry many times because I think he was dead. Some Captains tell he live in A. but I not believe; I say no, he dead, he no more come back. But he live, he come again, my heart very glad. I want my son to help me, he speak English well and can do my business. But he is young, young men are sometimes wild, they want advice. I want you stay here and help Hoomehoome, and when vessels come, you & Hoomehoome go on board & trade, so I make you a Chief.’ I told him I wished not to be a Chief, neither could I do any of his public business, but was willing to advise his son and assist him in every thing when it was consistent with the object for which we came to his Island. He expressed some surprise when I told him I wished not to be a Chief, but when I explained to him what we wished to do, he appeared satisfied and pleased. This afternoon the King sent to me and requested that I should come and read to him in his Bible. I read the first Chap, of Gen. and explained to him what I read as well as I could. He listened with strict attention frequently asking pertinent questions and said, ‘I can’t understand it all, I want to know it. You must learn my language fast, and then tell me all. No white man before ever read to me & talk like you.’ — S. R.
14th. Extremely warm to-day. I feel languid and unfit for anything. We are greatly annoyed by fleas. Some nights we can sleep none, they are so numberous and troublesome. They are the most disagreeable insect found in these Islands, but the natives are fond of them, both chiefs and people will spend hours in picking them off the dogs and eating them, and there is generally a good supply. — S. R.
29th. Last night we were kept awake by the cries of some women, who by their excessive groans we supposed had lost a relative. In the morning brother W. and I determined to visit the place from whence the noise proceeded, and on entering the house, such a spectacle presented itself as I never before witnessed and as I cannot describe. A man, one of the Queens trusty favorites, had just expired. Several females were seated around the dead body which lay naked on a mat, rubbing and turning it about with their hands and uttering forth such horrid shrieks and groans, as must have shocked the most hardened heart; and as another expression of their grief and humility, covering their heads with old filthy mats and tappers. The King was not present but the Queen was inconsolable; stamping with her feet and crying with all the vehemence in her power. We tried to tell them that it was not good to behave thus, but they paid no attention to what we said. We then visited the King, who appeared rational and composed; said he loved that man very much. He asked me where the breath went to when he died. I told him that God gave him breath and took it away when he pleased. I then endeavored to explain to him something about God, the soul, & Heaven and Hell, to which he listened attentively, & said this was all new to him. — S. R.
June 2nd. For several days past the King and Queen have manifested a great anxiety to learn to read; sent for frequently to instruct them, say they will spend ten years if they can learn to read well in that time. Wherever they go they carry their books with them. I have seen them while bathing in the water stand with their books in their hands repeating their lessons. They have expressed fears that we shall not return from Woahoo. I went into their house this morning and found the Queen bathed in tears; and enquiring the cause the interpreter said that Mr. Whitney had told her yesterday that we could not return, and neither she nor the King had rested any of the night. I told them they had misunderstood Mr. W. — we did intend to come as soon as possible. So earnest are they for us to settle with them and instruct them. — S. R.
Sat. 17th. The week past I have spent principally in visiting the different parts of Wimai; believe there is scarcely a house that I have not entered and my friendly aloha. The more I visit and become acquainted with this people, the more I feel interested in them, and the more I desire to spend my strength and life in endeavoring to secure to them the eternal welfare of their souls. I sometimes feel almost impatient to know the language that I may explain to them the way of life and salvation. What little I can say they will listen to with the greatest attention, but their answer will be, ‘I want to know more, by and by I shall understand.’ One said yesterday, ‘The God of America is good but the Gods of Attooi are good for nothing; we throw them all away; by and by the American God will be the God of Attooi.’ The King appears more & more desirous for instruction; complains that he cannot spend time enough with his book, but says it is a time of unusual hurry at present, and he is soon to give his mind more thoroughly to it. He with his Queen and several servants are able to read in words of four letters. Neither of them knew the alphabet when we arrived. Says the king at one time when I visited him, ‘Hoomehoome says you no tell lie like some white men, now you must not tell lie when you go Woahoo, but you must come back and live with me.’ The week past has been a busy time with the natives. The King’s rent has been brought in from all parts of the Island and from Onehow (Niihau), a small island about fifteen miles to the westward. It consisted of hogs, dogs, mats, tappers, feathers, pearl fishhooks, calabashes and paddles. This rent is to go to Owhyhee (Hawaii), as a present to the young King. It was interesting to see the natives come, sometimes more than a hundred at a time, with their loads on their backs and lay down their offerings at the feet of their great and good Chief as they call him. When will the time arrive that they shall come and bow down to Jehovah, and give themselves living sacrifices to him who has purchased them with his blood. I trust the day is at hand. — S. R.
19th. Have been packing up my things in order to return to Woahoo expecting the King’s schooner will sail in a day or two. The natives are busily engaged in loading her with mats, tappers, &c. Spent some time with the King to-day and received several presents from the Queen. I had an Owhyhean (Hawaiian) name given me immediately after landing — have been called Neho-pahoo (that is, foreteeth lost) until to-day the King gave me the name Kaeke after himself before he became king, and said I must no more be called Neho-pahoo. — S. R.
July 25th. They have furnished us with two bedsteads in the native style, and mats and tappers in abundance. In the evening the King sent us thirteen Bunches of Bananas and ten Pine Apples. Never before were our obligations of gratitude so great as they now are. Surely the King’s heart is in the hands of the Lord, and he turneth it whithersoever he will. After offering on the altar of praise our evening sacrifice we retired to rest relying on the arm of Jehovah for safety and protection. — N. W. R.
26th. The King is forty-six years of age, and his wife about twenty-five. He is very pleasant and discovers a good degree of civility in his manners. He enquired whether my parents were living and to whom I was writing. I told him I left a mother, and was writing to her to inform her of his kindness to us. He appeared much pleased, and asked me if I loved her very much. I informed him that I did, and that it would do her heart good to hear that the King and Queen had kindly offered to be a father and mother to us. They gave me the name of Matooah which is the name of the King’s mother. They then requested us to sing a few tunes, while Hoomehoome played on the bass viol. We view the secret hand of our Heavenly Father with peculiar delight, and feel constrained to walk with cautious steps before him, in the sight of the heathen, lest we prove stumbling blocks, over which they shall fall into endless perdition. — N. W. R.
July 29th. This afternoon the King exhibited a scene of plays, gave us an invitation, to which we did not readily comply; sent the second time, accordingly we went. I don’t know when I have had my mind more impressed with the vanities of the heathen than I had in witnessing this scene. O when will this untutored tribe sit down at our Immanuel’s feet, and receive the benign influences of the Gospel.
July 30th. Dearest of mothers, instead of worshipping the Lord with his people, in a temple consecrated to his service, your children have attempted to appear before him and call upon his name this day for the first time on this heathen Isle, in our little sanctuary made of cocoanut leaves. The royal family seated themselves on trunks and mats and apparently listened to the word of life; while the common people crouded around without our yard, and pulled away the grass of which the fence is made and presented their tawny countenances, anxious to see and know what new thing the white people were performing. But oh, how much more degraded their darkened minds, than ever their miserable appearance, how imperceptible to the truth as it is in Jesus! We made use of Mr. Clark’s sermon, entitled the Church safe. The flock of Christ be scattered abroad in the earth, some of them as sheep without a shepard yet; consoling thought — in due season they will be gathered, and there shall be one Fold, and one Shepard. — N. R.
August 4th. We expect the Levant will sail this evening, consequently our communications must be carried on board this afternoon. I have the pleasure to inform our dear friends on this last page of our journal, of our continued prosperity and hopes of usefulness, but we cannot, we dare not depend much upon present appearances. Fix we on this terrestrial ball? When most secure, the coming hour, if Thou see fit, may blast them all. But we do take pleasure in speaking of the wonderful dealings of God to this people, and to us, as unworthy instruments in his service. The King and Queen sent six gown patterns to be made, and present of pine apples. To-day the King has commenced a large building for a meeting, and schoolhouse, in his own yard. It is peculiarly pleasant to witness the interest this heathen king takes in preparing the way for the spread of the gospel amongst his people. He says he will protect all who come here for this purpose. Though the promise of man, especially of a heathen prince is not a sufficient warrant for me to engage in so great an enterprize; yet have not the children of God his promise also, that he will supply all their wants, and will withhold no real good thing from them. What more can the Christian need for his security while laboring for Christ? What more can he desire in life, or enjoy in the hour of death? This unconnected journal we present to our ever dear mother and hope she will thereby be comforted while thinking of her far distant and affectionate children.
SAMUEL and NANCY RUGGLES.
- The King died May 8, 1810.↩