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She was the only daughter of King Pomare II., who was the very first friend of the missionaries when they attempted to get a footing in these isles, and proved their stanch supporter to the end of his days.1 His daughter's name was Aimata. In the year 1822 she married the young chief of Tahaa, who had received the name of Pomare as a mark of special favour from the old king. Thus Aimata became known as Pomare - Vahine;2 the correct designation for a married woman being thus to append the term for wife to the name of the husband. In January 1827 she succeeded her brother, Pomare III., and reigned supreme till 1843, when the French assumed the Protectorate.
Young Queen Marau Pomare is one of a large family of very handsome half-whites—children of a high chiefess of Tahiti, who married a much respected English Jew, Mr Salmon. She has three stalwart sons and five most comely daughters, whose rich olive complexion, black silken tresses, mellifluous voices, and foreign intonation in speaking English, are all suggestive of Italy.
The eldest daughter, who owns the formidable title of Tetuanuireiaiteruiatea — though, happily, known to her personal friends by the more eupho
1 King Pomare II. was the first person who was publicly baptised in Tahiti. The service took place on 16th July 1819.
2 Vahine, a woman.
nious name of Titaua—is herself a very high chiefess both of Tahiti and Moorea, on each of which she owns several large estates. At the early age of fourteen she married a wealthy Scotch merchant—Mr Brander—who died a few months ago, leaving to his young widow a heavy weight of care, in that her two eldest daughters have married Germans, whose mercantile interests are diametrically opposed to those of the house of Brander; and who, having vainly striven to wrest the business from her, are now pressing for immediate division of property— a process which necessitates a most exasperating amount of legal discussion, in which questions of English law, native law, and, above all, the Code Napoleon, which is the law of the Protectorate, crop up by turns.1
Moetia, the second daughter of Mrs Salmon, married the American Consul, Mr Attwater. Marau, as you already know, married her royal kinsman; while Lois (commonly called Prie, which is a contraction of Beretanie—a name adopted out of compliment to Britain) and Manihinihi, the two youngest sisters (who both fully sustain the beauty of their race), live with their mother—a very fine old lady, whose long native name I cannot tell you,
1 And in this year of 1881 still continue to crop up, greatly to the benefit of the lawyers, who find in the affairs of the Estate Brander, a harvest far too remunerative to be lightly Abandoned.
but her ordinary signature is Ariitaimai. She was a cousin of the late queen, and is said greatly to resemble her.
Her three sons are Taati, Naarii, and Ariipaea— all tall and powerfully-built men.
The system of adopting children, which prevails here, is very confusing and very peculiar. Every family seems to have at least one belonging to some other family. A child is generally bespoken before it is born, and as soon as it is weaned it may be claimed by its adoptive parents, who give it a new name, by which it is thenceforth known, and who become responsible for it in every respect—for its feeding and its education. The child is at perfect liberty to pass unquestioned from one home to another; so if its second father or mother chance to annoy it, it goes and takes up its abode with its real parents till it feels inclined to return to the others. When these die, it inherits their property on equal terms with their real children. You can imagine that where relationships are very intricate to begin with, these additional blendings of families create a most bewildering interweaving.
Then all the intermarriages of the principal families add to the confusion. Every one on Tahiti, Eimeo, Bora Bora, and the Society Isles generally, seems to be related to every one else, at least among the high chiefs. In no corner of the earth is there
a greater respect for good ancestry—nowhere is " a lang pedigree" more prized. The most singular point, however, is, that whereas in a proposed marriage between two persons, both having Tahitian blood (whether pure or partial does not matter), the greatest anxiety is manifested to prove that blood sufficiently blue, and any suggestion on the part of a high chief of wishing to wed a maiden of low degree calls forth a storm of indignation from all his relations; yet if a Tahitian woman of the highest class chooses to marry a European of very dubious rank by birth, not a voice is raised in opposition. I believe the solution of this curious point lies in the fact that here, as in Fiji, a child takes rank from his mother, so that he is in many instances a much more important person than his father. It is the same peculiarity which I pointed out to you, when writing from Fiji, respecting the customs of its chiefs.
I have just heard that a very leaky ship is to sail for Sydney to-morrow, and a better one starts for New Zealand next week; so in order to lose no chance of a letter reaching you, I shall despatch this vid Sydney, and send you another vid New Zealand. Meanwhile, good-bye.
PAPEETE—CATHOLIC MISSION—PROTESTANT MISSION—A CHRISTENING PARTY LA MAISON BRANDERE—TALES OP THE PAST
—EVENINGS IN TAHITI—LA MUSIQUE—PLANS—SUNDAY.
Care of the Rev. James Green, Paopai, Papeete, Tahiti, Saturday, 13th.
Dearest Nell, — It is high time I sent you a cheerier letter than the last, which was written just after our dreary arrival in a dismal storm, and further overshadowed by the distressing manner in which our happy party was so summarily dispersed. With the exception of that one sad cloud, no drawback of any sort has arisen. The cordial kindness of every creature here, the easy luxury of very simple social life, a heavenly climate, and the dreamlike loveliness of the isles, all combine to make up as charming a whole as can possibly be conceived. It is the sort of place in which one is made to feel at home at once: from the moment I landed every one seems to have tried what he or she could do for the enjoyment of the stranger. It is a region of true hospitality.