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'whereby to separate their scholars from evil influence at home, organising churches, and, in short, doing all in their power to advance the good cause.
It was felt that a great step had been gained when the oppressive system of tabu, had received its first blow by many of the high chiefs coming to a feast at the mission, in company with their wives, as heretofore it had been forbidden for father, mother, or grown-up child to eat one with another—all had to feed apart; and the same senseless prohibitions extended in endless ramifications through all actions of life. Now the system of tabu has fallen into neglect, and the Hawaiian Mission has gained ground, notwithstanding much hindrance from the opposition and interference of the Roman Catholic priests.
Nevertheless, to all intents and purposes, the majority of the people are still savages, and the present mission of the Seignelay is to inquire into recent cases of alleged cannibalism, said to have occurred in the interior of Dominica, where the hill-tribes and fisher-tribes still live at constant enmity. It is said to be the most fertile island in the group, and to have the largest population.
The French governor is supported by sundry officials, and a detachment of about sixty soldiers, a dozen gens d'armes, and a few native police.1
1 Although the French have had possession of the group for so many years, the natives of some of the islands have never been really in subjection to the authorities until last year, when Admiral Bergasse du Petit Thouars visited the group, and with the aid of volunteers, natives of Tahiti, and of the friendly isles of Marquesas, succeeded in disarming and bringing into subjection the hostile tribes, and that without firing a shot.
The admiral himself headed the troops across the mountains from village to village, arriving one night on the coast about midnight, having been conducted by natives who knew the passes: these passes were lighted up by the electric light from the frigate, which was anchored in the bay. The Freuch took 600 muskets from the natives of the two islands, Hiva-oa and Fatuhiva. They say that the natives are really not a bad sort of people, but their curse, like that of all the islands, is "drink." This, and the conduct of unprincipled foreigners, has been the real cause of all the trouble.
I affix a note which I copy from the 'Messager de Tahiti' for 30th of July 1880, which is all that has appeared in the paper on the subject:—
"Le Contre-Amiral commandant en chef le corps expeditionnaira aux Marquises,
The Catholic Mission consists of a bishop, with a considerable number of priests, and a sisterhood like those on Tonga, Samoa, and Tahiti. The priests work hard, but apparently with small result. It is whispered that the presence of a large number of very irreligious white men has a highly demoralising influence on the natives—as we can well understand; and even the Frencli Government, which took such a lively interest in the introduction of Catholicism to Tahiti, seems to take none in the progress of the mission in the Marquesas.
In the matter of stone and mortar a good deal has been done, well-built churches having been erected in all the principal valleys, in the proportion of one church to every 150 inhabitants. Unfortunately, however, the people show small disposition to adopt any form of Christianity. The queen Viakehu and a few of her household are devout Catholics; and a little flock, who profess to be Christians, rally round each of the missionaries, but the majority continue heathen, with a deeply rooted belief in their old superstitions. I have just received a photograph of one of the Marquesan stone idols, with two of its worshippers. It is singularly hideous, and the head is crowned with a circular cap-stone, resembling on a small scale the crowns of Easter Island.
But if the Catholic Mission has hitherto failed in its ostensible work, it has at least given the natives a good example of industry; for every available inch of ground within reach of the mission is under most careful cultivation, and is made to grow excellent cotton.
Though the Marquesans are too idle to do any sort of planting beyond what is actually necessary for the cultivation of their gardens, the example set by the mission has been followed by various settlers. Foremost among these is Captain Hart, a man of great energy, who has done much to advance the trading interest
temoigne aux rolontaires Tahitiens, aux volontaires Marquisiens, aux militaires de toutes armes, ainsi qu'aux marius qui ont pris part a l'expedition <?es Marquises, toute sa satisfaction.
"Grace a leur esprit militaire, i. lenr devouement et a leur discipline, l'ile de Hiva oa et celle de Fatuhiva ont ete rapidement soumises et disarmes, et la paix rvgne part out aux Marquises."
of the islands, and who on one of his plantations employs forty Chinamen, and about sixty natives of the Gilbert Islands—for here, as in all other places where white men endeavour to cultivate the land, they find it necessary to employ labourers imported from other isles, as they cannot extract the same amount of work from men living on their native soil .
Hitherto only about a hundred Chinese, and as many Gilbert Islanders, have been imported, and cotton is the only article grown expressly for exportation. Of course where cocoa-palms are so abundant, a considerable amount of coppra,1 is to be obtained; but the natives have unfortunately been instructed in the art of making palm-rum, and trees which have been tapped for this purpose rarely recover their full strength as nut-producers. Happily, in this matter, self-interest leads the colonists to support the missionaries in their endeavours to dissuade the people from thus misusing the palm-trees; but, on the other hand, foreign traders are too ready to supply more fiery stimulants, and drunkenness prevails to a grievous extent.
Nearly all these isles supply one indigenous article of commerce —namely, a kind of fungus, which is much appreciated in China. It looks like dried-up leather, but is not unpalatable when stewed or served in soup. A considerable amount of this is obtained in most of the Marquesan valleys.
Of colonists, properly so called, there are very few. About fifty white men are scattered throughout the isles. Of these, some trade; others cultivate the soil; while a few wander aimlessly from bay to bay, island to island, living upon whatever the natives like to give them: they are either too lazy to work, or too dishonest to find employment. These men include waifs from all nationalities, including Scotch, English, Irish, American, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Although a French colony, there are only three or four French subjects who can be classed as colonists; but here, as elsewhere, the frugal and diligent Chinaman seems likely to take finn root .
Nukuheva bay (where the Seignelay is probably now anchored) 1 Sun-dried nut, exported for the manufacture of oil.
is described as surpassingly lovely. It is a perfect harbour, with very deep water, and forms a horse-shoe about nine miles in circumference, ending in two lofty and abrupt headlands. The entrance is very narrow, barely half a mile across, and is guarded on each side by small conical isles, rising about 500 feet above the sea. All round the harbour the greenest of low hills swell in gentle undulations, while behind these rise majestic mountains, whence steep rocky ridges trend seaward, dividing the vast amphitheatre into several distinct valleys, which, narrowing as they ascend, become deep, romantic glens. Here and there snowy cascades, gleaming through the rich verdure, tell where the precipitous crags close in the valleys. Some of these barrier-cliffs rise perpendicularly, to a height of perhaps 1500 feet . So rich is the growth of parasitical plants, which cling to every crevice, that these mighty rugged crags appear only to be green walls surmounted by black basaltic pinnacles and cones, beyond which tower the blue peaks of some of the higher ridges, which occupy the whole centre of the isle, rising to a height of about 4000 feet.
There are in these sheltered vales many old men who, in all their long lives, have never set foot out of their own little boundary. Those vine-clad cliffs have hemmed them in, and the mountain wilderness beyond has offered no inducement to roving. "No fruit, no game; only the certainty of excessive toil for no reward, and the possibility of wandering unintentionally within the territory of some other tribe, ever on the watch to slay any imprudent straggler.
The lives of the women have been even more circumscribed, owing to an extraordinary law of tabu, which prohibits a female from setting foot in a canoe; consequently her farthest voyage is regulated by her powers of swimming; and so, when a foreign vessel arrives in port, and the Marquesan nymphs wish to inspect it more closely, they can only do so by swimming. Small wonder if sailors, perceiving those fair-skinned beauties, with their tresses of long black hair floating around them, suppose their visitors to be a company of mermaids! From all accounts many of these girls are really beautiful. In stature they are somewhat diminutive, whereas the men average over six feet. As in Tahiti and other tropical climates, the constitution ripens at a very early age, so that mere children may he seen playing with their own babies instead of dolls. Happily the responsibilities of housekeeping do not weigh heavily in these isles, where nature is so generous, the climate so genial, and food so abundant.
I am told that the bread-fruit tree in particular flourishes in the Marquesas to an extent unknown elsewhere, and grows to an enormous size — the ripe fruit, either freshly gathered or in its manufactured form of pot, forming the staple food of the isles.
The Marquesans have the same love of flowers as their neighbours, and the girls vie one with another in producing the loveliest garlands, bracelets, and anklets, sometimes of blossoms and leaves intertwined, but more often of single flowers, plucked from their calyx and strung together on a thin fibre of tappa, while snowy buds take the place of pearl ear-rings. The fragrant white blossoms of a large tree are those most in favour.
But the permanent adornment is that of tattooing, which the Marquesans have brought to greater perfection than any other South Sea Islanders, except perhaps the Maoris of New Zealand, their very fair skin affording a tempting parchment for the artist's work. The patterns are quaint, and very elaborately worked out in every conceivable variety of curve. Some of the older men aro thus decorated from head to foot . Even the face is not spared, a favourite pattern being a strongly marked triangle, the base sweeping across the lips from ear to ear, whence the other lines ascend, crossing both eyelids, to meet on the shaven crown. Other men prefer three broad stripes carried straight across the face, — one across the eyes, a second across the nose, a third sweeping across the mouth from ear to ear. A really well-tattooed man is a sort of walking volume of illustrated natural history, so numerous may be the strange creatures of earth, sea, and air, delineated on his muchenduring skin,—birds and butterflies, fishes and crabs, lizards and snakes, octopi and star-fish, flowers and fruits, all traced in delicate blue lines on a most silky, olive-coloured surface. Those who go in for artistic unity of design sometimes have the stem of some