The Diary of Reverend David Cargill – Part 39

Reverend David Cargill. Picture: SUPPLIED

A HURRICANE makes landfall, the missionaries and their families encounter their first-hand experience when the Rewa river burst its bank “When the flood waters had subsided enough to allow Cargill and his family to leave their house, the aspect was not pleasant.

The river had levelled their fences, destroyed their garden, and made their house unliveable.

Once again Cargill wished for proper living quarters. Nor were the prospects of the church any brighter in Rewa, the people there remained unyielding to the pressures of conversion.

Cargill referred to his circuit as ‘a place of gross darkness, degrading superstition and barbarous cruelty32.

At the time he wrote, there were only about thirty members of the Society in Rewa, and these were principally the Tongan teachers with their families.

He suggested that perhaps the flag could aid the cross,” stated Captain Charles Wilkes who was part of the United States Exploring Expedition.

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


Sunday, February 16, 1840

Preached in the English and Fijian (itaukei) languages. Captain Eagleston sailed this forenoon. This violation of the Sabbath is perhaps in his estimation another instance of his friendship to the missionaries and the causes in which they are embarked.

Sunday, February 23, 1840
Preached in Feejeean (itaukei) and Tonguese (Tongan language).


Monday, February 24, 1840

The rain has been incessant and the wind violent. We are apprehensive of a hurricane and an inundation of the river.

Thursday, February 27, 1840
This morning the wind increased to a hurricane, and the river overflowed its banks.

Friday, February 28, 1840

The gale continued. In the forenoon the scene was terrific. About noon the storm was at its climax. A large house – Bure Karewa – fell before the fury of the blast. Several other large houses were blown down. Our frail house was propped with sticks and tied with rope. The river was greatly swollen. The town of Rewa and the adjacent country to a great extent were inundated. The depth of water on the Mission premises was more than three feet. Our house was the only one which was not flooded. The water in Mr Jaggart’s bedroom – the highest part of his house was more than a foot deep. The natives had to erect shelves under the roofs of their houses. There they sat, slept and cooked. Intercourse from one house to another was carried on by means of canoes. The roof of our house was so shattered that (at both ends it was as wet inside as out. Only one room in the centre was tolerably dry there. Mr and Mrs Jaggart and child – Mrs Cargill and myself with four children, – the Tonga teachers’ wives with our domestics assembled. Goats, pigs, ducks, and hens retreated to this elevated spot to save their lives. We would not run them out to certain death. We were huddled together in a pitiable plight. O how I desired to have a house as substantial and comfortable as a British barn. About noon when the storm was at its height, Mrs Cargill dressed the dear children and placed them near the door, – with the intention if necessary of exposing ourselves to the wind, rain, and inundation, rather than run the risk of being maimed or killed by the falling timbers of our weak edifice. But the Governor of the Universe rebuked the wind and there was a calm.

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