A Visit to the South Seas, in the United States Ship Vincennes, during the Years 1829 and 1830.

Title page epithet: “A principal fruit of these circuits of the globe seems likely to be the amusement of those that stay at home.” Cowper’s Correspondence.

Stewart was a US Navy chaplain, a former missionary, and an official of the American Board of Foreign Missions. Assigned to serve on the corvette Vincennes, on an 1828 mission to the Sandwich, Islands via Brazil, Cape Horn, Chile, returning to the US via the Cape of Good Hope.

p. 25-26: For the first fortnight it was impossible to write, and most of my time was occupied in reading. There is a large and good collection of books on board. Besides several private libraries, a public one of many hundred well chosen volumes, purchased by a subscription of the ship’s company, is arranged in the dining cabin under the direction of a librarian: a provision for the recreation and improvement of the crew, of which no public ship bound on a long cruise, should be destitute. Irving’s Life of Columbus, Scott’s Napoleon, the Lady of the Manor, Erskine’s Freeness of the Gospel, Weddell’s Voyages, Payson’s Sermons, and Martyn’s Life, are the volumes which have thus far principally occupied my attention. The last has long been a kind of text book with me; and I have now finished it for the fourth time since its publication, in the devoutest prayer that my life might partake some little of the character of his, and my death be blest with the spirit which dictated the last paragraph he ever penned.

p. 29-31, on the “Moral Aspect of the Crew,” and their respectful view of devotional services aboard the Guerriere, at sea, March 20th, 1829:

A more interesting and attentive audience than that formed by the five hundred of our crew at worship on the Sabbath, I have seldom addressed; and every look, and the whole appearance of the men, after the first sermon I preached, as I passed among them while at dinner to distribute a set of tracts, plainly told they were far from being indifferent to the services of my office, and regard me personally with feelings of kindness and good will. … I am fully persuaded that a more powerful auxiliary in the discipline of a ship could not be adopted; and that this single service, properly performed, would soon be found to do more in promoting the good order of a crew, than all the harshness of the rope’s end, backed by the terrors of the cat-o’-nine-tails.

p. 275-77, on their visit to the Sandwich Islands, Stewart shows his ardent missionary credentials: On Saturday, Captain Finch informed the chiefs that the next day would be our sabbath, or day of public worship, and he wished a proclamation to be made apprising the people of it, and interdicting their coming round the ship, either for amusement or barter; and at the same time invited the chiefs themselves to attend the service. This they did, deporting themselves with great propriety during both prayers and sermon, expressing their approbation of the form of our worship by the usual pleasant exclamation, “Mo-taki,” “good,” when they are particularly interested. I had designed devoting a part of the afternoon to a conversation with them on the subject of religion, and the introduction of missionaries among them; but the captain of the French ship had invited them on board to receive some presents, and I deferred it till Monday. I had intimated my intention to them; and on going on shore, I found Haapé, Piaroro of the Hapas, the prince Moana, and Tauahania of Taioa, assembled to meet me. The interview was long and interesting.

I explained to them some of the leading principles of the Christian religion, the nature of missions, and the character and object of missionaries: that they were men and women of enlightened and powerful nations, who at a sacrifice of many advantages and enjoyments in their native countries left their fathers, and mothers, and sisters, and brothers, behind them, and went voluntarily to live with people such as themselves; to introduce among them the arts of civilized life; to give them books and writing; and, above all, to communicate to them the knowledge of the true God, and the salvation of the soul in the world of spirits, through the death of Jesus Christ, the only redeemer of sinners. I told them that many persons in America had a sincere desire for their welfare and happiness, and intended to send such teachers among them; and then inquired whether they wished them to come: and if any did, whether they would receive them kindly, and be their friends ?—to which, “Ael Ae 1” burst from them all in much animation, followed by “Motaki, motaki”—“good, good.”

Haapé then said, “It is with the king Moana”—to which the little fellow at once replied, “So let it be; it is good, very good.” Taua adding, “When they come, some of them must live with me at Taioa—I will give them land, and build a large house for them.” I told him they would gladly live in his valley, if he and his people would cast away their idols, and believe in and worship Jehovah the only true God. To which he answered, “I know Jehovah is a mighty God. I have heard of him from Tahiti, where the people have burned their images, and taken him for their God; and it might be well for us to do the same;” adding, “Jehovah is a greater God than any of ours, for he is the God of thunder and lightning.” Taking this impression, as I discovered, from the flash and report of cannon, which they consider to be essentially lightning and thunder. He said, whenever it thundered at the island, they knew that a ship was approaching; and that Jehovah caused the thunder to apprise them of it.