From humble origins, and trained by the London Missionary Society in theology, printing and rudimentary medicine, William Ellis (1794-1872) sailed for the Society Islands in 1816. He found himself at the cusp of major cultural change as Western influences affected the indigenous Polynesians. During his time there, Ellis became a skilled linguist and able chronicler of the traditional yet rapidly shifting way of life. He succeeded in capturing vivid stories of a leisured people who, without written language, had developed a rich oral tradition, social structure and belief system. Published in 1829, this two-volume collection proved to be an important reference work, notably for its natural history; it soon accompanied Darwin aboard the Beagle. Volume 1 describes early missions on Tahiti, Moorea and Huahine, including the development of Tahitian orthography and printing. In Volume 2, Ellis continues his anthropological observations on Huahine and Raiatea.
About the Author
Table of Contents
Volume 1: Preface; 1. Historical notice of the discovery of the Pacific; 2. Voyage to New Zealand; 3. Voyage to Tubuai; 4. Character and death of Haamanemane; 5. First preaching in the native language; 6. Anchorage in Matavai; 7. Account of the remarkable change in the South Sea Islands; 8. First record of the names of the professors of Christianity; 9. Distillation of ardent spirits; 10. The refugees in Eimeo invited to return to Tahiti; 11. Account of the music and amusements of the islanders; 12. An account of the Areois; 13. Voyage to A-fa-re-ai-tu; 14. Times of taking food among the islands; 15. Arrival of missionaries from England; 16. Arrivals in Huahine; 17. Renewed endeavours to promote industry among the people; 18. Account of Taaroarii. Volume 2: 1. Voyage to Raiatea; 2. Origin of the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands; 3. General state of society; 4. Schools erected in Huahine; 5. Improved circumstances of the females; 6. Public assemblies during the week; 7. Station at Maeva; 8. Description of Polynesian idols; 9. Increased desire for books; 10. Former diseases in the islands comparatively few and mild; 11. General view of a Christian church; 12. Government of the South Sea Islands; 13. Power of the chiefs and proprietors of land; 14. Pomare's proposed restrictions on barter; 15. Promulgation of the new code of laws in Huahine; 16. Visit from the Windward Islands; 17. Singular custom of the chiefs in marching to battle; 18. Arrival of the deputation at Tahiti; 19. Voyage to Borabora.