David Cargill

Left: Tubou, Lakeba Lau in the early 1900s. Picture: Matavuvale Network

Left: Tubou, Lakeba Lau in the early 1900s. Picture: Matavuvale Network

A murder is investigated while Revered David Cargill and Reverend William Cross continue their evangelisation on the island of Lakeba

This is the account of the late Reverend Cargill from the book The Diaries and Correspondence of David Cargill, 1832-1843 edited by Albert J Schütz and published by the Australian National University.

Tuesday November 15, 1836

Translated 50 verses of the second epistle to Timothy, while at dinner, we were alarmed by the cry of fire, on going out saw the fire — reeds and grass that surround the chapel, burning with great vehemence and velocity. The flames blazed until within two or three feet of our little sanctuary, but through mercy, neither a reed of the fence, nor a leaf of the thatch was burned.

The materials of which it is composed are so dry in consequence of the long drought and excessive heat that if a single spark had fallen on any part of it, the whole fabric would have been reduced to ashes in two or three minutes.

Small and rude as our chapel is, we are thankful for its preservation. May many immortal souls be born again within its precincts!

Saturday November 19, 1836

Finished the translation of St Paul’s epistles to Timothy, into the Tonguese language. The Tongan language is inferior to the Feejeean in copiousness and vigour. In the afternoon, I drew up the outline of a sermon in the Tonguese language.

Thursday December 1, 1836

This afternoon HBM Brig the Victor commander, Captain Crozier, called off the Island. I went off in a native canoe and was received by the captain in a kind gentlemanly manner.

The object of his visit was to take off the survivers of the Active and to investigate the murder of the four men who left this island in the Active’s boat. We received by him a most seasonable supply of trade — encouraging letters from our brethren in the Friendly Island, together with the Minutes of Conference, magazines and other periodicals from England.

Friday December 2, 1836

This morning Capt Crozier with two of his officers and some of his men came on shore. The captain waited on the king of the island and Brother Cross and I being interpreters explained to him the object of his visit.

The murderers of the boat’s crew being at Lakemba on a visit to another part of their tribe, he expressed to the king his intention to go direct to the settlement in which they resided and demand the perpetrators of that horrid deed. The settlement is called Levuka.

The chiefs and people of the place were thrown into great consternation. They wished to atone for the barbarous act by presenting the captain with a large pig and a piece of native cloth (masi).

Capt Crozier however would not listen to such terms of capitulation, and threatened that if their men were not delivered to him he would reduce their town to ashes. He allowed them a short time to revolve the affair in their minds.

During this space, the king called upon us and requested us to intercede with the captain stating that if the captain acted with vigour towards the people who were now merely on a visit at this Island their friends from other parts of Feejee would probably make war upon him and kill him and his people.

The king stated moreover that if the captain would not listen to his entreaties, he would accompany to the king of Britain and himself bear the punishment due to the men who cut off the boat’s crew.

The captain after this intercession and having obtained a promise from the chiefs of the tribe to which the murderers belong, that they would never connive at any act of cruelty to be committed on any Englishman by any of their people relinquished the idea of burning the settlement.

The pacifc termination of this affair will, I am persuaded, have a more beneficial influence than the execution of the threat to burn the town. The people were very much alarmed: the two men who were the ringleaders in the murder hid themselves in the bush: all their moveable goods and chattels were carried, and the inhabitants of the town placed themselves in an attitude of war, arming themselves with clubs, guns and axes.

We are very thankful, that His Majesty’s government has investigated the affair and that the investigation has been brought to a pacific result.

Sunday December 11, 1836

This has been a very happy day, and the means of grace I trust have been made a blessing to many. In the forenoon we baptised 79 male and female adults. The behaviour of all was devout and many seemed to be earnestly seeking the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

In the afternoon, I explained to a large and attentive congregation the nature and means of attaining the baptism of the spirit. May the spirit of power and wisdom apply the word to our hearts. At the conclusion of the sermon we baptised 17 children.

Brother Cross addressed their parents, on their duty to God and their children.

Sunday January 1, 1837

The Lord has mercifully spared me to see the commencement of another year. I wish to dedicate myself afresh to his service. May he graciously accept of the humble sacrifice.

This forenoon I urged upon an attentive congregation, the necessity of watchfulness and prayer, that we may not fall into temptation.

Tuesday January 3, 1837

Walked to Narothake (Narocake), a settlement about six miles from the mission premises, and on my way home called at Uathiuathi (Waciwaci) and Tarukua.

At Narothake, we have commenced a class meeting. Five Feejeeans and one Tonga man have begun to meet. They all express a desire to serve the true God, and save their souls.

At Waciwaci, two Feejeeans have begun to seek the Lord while he may be found; another has begun to read, and all the people of the settlement express a wish to become worshippers of the true God, but are afraid of the king’s displeasure.

At Tarakua, another Feejeean in the last stage of a consumption turned to God, that he might die a believer. His sister turned with him. When I arrived at Tarukua, I was informed that the man had departed this life the preceding night. All the people of that tribe are anxious to be made acquainted with the nature and worship of the only living and true God.

By the information received on this journey, I was encouraged to hope, that the king and his people will soon abandon the service of the wicked one and unite themselves with the people of God. Lord, increase our faith, and give thy Son these heathen for his inheritance.

Tuesday January 10, 1837

This afternoon I walked to Waciwaci, a settlement about 14 miles from the mission house and commenced a class meeting. Three Feejeeans were received on trial. May they be the first fruits of abundant harvest!

Today a Feejeean chief of considerable rank began to worship the true God. His dwelling house was also the temple in which his tribe performed their heathen rites. It has been converted into a house of prayer and praise to the true God; and thus although only the chief has embraced Christianity, yet by this act he has deprived the whole tribe of a place in which to perform their pagan worship.

It is probable that they will all soon join with him in worshiping the true God. May the Holy Spirit carry complete the gracious work which he has commenced!