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A NOBLE TREE.
ing musician, and most graceful artist, and has promised to make my way easy for several sketching expeditions.
I had not been an hour ashore, when (on the strength of a letter of introduction from Dr Turner of Malua) I received the very kindest invitation from Mr and Mrs Green to come and stay with them in this their lovely home, just out of the town, and close to the consulate—a delightful nest, embowered in mango and breadfruit trees, with oleanders and hybiscus to lend colour to the whole. It is only separated from the sea by the pleasant garden and a belt of turf; so there is nothing to impede the view of the beautiful harbour and blue peaks of Moorea, while the valley behind the house runs up to a background of fine hills, which all to-day have been bathed in soft sunlight—that clear shining that comes after rain.
On one side of the little lawn stands a noble old banyan-tree, from the very heart of which grows a tall cocoa-palm,—a curious tree-marriage, greatly admired by the people; but in an evil hour an idiotic surveyor ascended this tree to take observations, and fastened a wire to the primary fronds, thereby of course cutting them, and so killing the palm, which now remains a poor dead monument of ignorant stupidity. The banyan suffers from another cause. The Tahitians believe that a decoction of its brown filaments and rootlets is a certain remedy for some forms of illness. They are therefore continually appealing to Mr Green for permission to cut them; and thus the growth of the tree is considerably checked. However, it covers a sufficient space to form a famous playground for the children, of whom there are a cheery little flock, though here, as in most remote colonies, the absence of all the elder ones forms the chief drawback to the happiness of their parents. But education in all its aspects has to be sought elsewhere than in beautiful Tahiti, by those who do not wish their families to become altogether insular; and my host and hostess retain far too loving memories of their own early homes in Wiltshire and Devon to allow their children to grow up estranged from their English kinsfolk.
This, like the majority of houses here, is a wooden bungalow, one storey high, with verandah, on to which all rooms alike open —by far the coolest and most suitable form of building for the tropics. But there are a number of two and three storeyed houses in the town, inhabited by French officials and foreign merchants— notably the French governor's house, and the unfinished "palace," which has been in slow progress for many years.
At the former, Admiral Serre now holds the reins. Stern though he be in public matters, he is wonderfully kind and pleasant socially, and seems to guide his iron hand with much wisdom in carrying out the course of action he has marked out for himself. As you know, he had scarcely determined on taking the government into his own hands when Queen Pomare died quite suddenly, to the exceeding grief of her people. Great was their anxiety as to what course the French would now adopt,—the royal family being so much at sixes and sevens that there was very good reason to fear that even the semblance of the ancient rule would henceforth be dispensed with.
Instead of this, the admiral devoted his whole energies to bringing together its various branches—healing their breaches, inculcating sobriety (with marvellous success so far), and generally getting them into a satisfactory condition. Queen Pomare's two eldest sons, Ariiaue and Tamatoa, have been very naughty boys, in most respects. The former has married a very handsome girl, aged seventeen—Marau Salmon; but hitherto the marriage has not proved happy. Tamatoa was for a while King of Raiatea; but was apt to carry on such dangerous games when he was drunk, that his subjects drove him out of the island. He is, however, very clever and amusing, and is blessed with an adoring wife—a very charming and excellent woman, as good as she is bonnie; Moe is her pretty name. Queen Pomare's third son, Joinville, died leaving a son. The fourth, Tevii Tapunui, is a very good fellow, but sadly lame.
Well, by dint of coaxing and reasoning, and by turns assuming the part of father and "governor," the admiral first of all persuaded Ariiaue and Marau to make up the peace, and then proclaimed them King and Queen as Pomare V. and Marau Pomare—a cereTHE BOYAL FAMILY.
mony of which I have just read full particulars in the 'Messager de Tahiti,' which, under the heading, "Le prince royal Ariiaue est salue roi des lies de la Soci^te et d^pendances," gives a detailed account of the meeting of the Legislative Assembly of Tahiti, convened by "M. le Contre - Amiral Serre Commandant - enchef, Commandant provisoke des Etablissements francais de FOceanie, pour reconnaitre et acclamer le nouveau souverain de Tahiti."
The Legislative Assembly received with acclamation the decisions of the omnipotent admiral, who not only proclaimed Ariiaue king, but has further settled the succession for two generations to come. Queea Marau being half English, any child to which she may give birth is excluded from the throne in favour of the little Princess Teriivaetua, daughter of the king's brother Tamatoa, and the charming Moe, ex-King and Queen of Raiatea—thus securing the pure Tahitian blood-royal . Failing issue of the little Princess Vaetua, the succession is to pass to her cousin, Prince Terriihinoiatua, commonly called Hinoi—a very handsome boy, son of the third royal brother, now deceased, who was known as the Prince de Joinville.
These decisions are said to have given great satisfaction to the Tahitians, who, with very good reason, had feared that, on the death of the old queen, the French would take the nominal power as well as the real, which they have so long held.
Pomare's proud independent spirit must have chafed sorely under their tutelage; but she contrived to endure it for thirty-five years. She was just sixty-five when she died, having been bor n on the 28th February 1813.
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.
1 King Pomare II. was the first person Who was publicly baptised in Tahiti. The service took place on 16th July 1819.
Thus Aimata became known as Pomare-Vahine 51 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 euphonious 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.2
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
1 Vahine, a woman.
'And in this year of 1882 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.
—a very fine old lady, whose long native name I cannot tell you, 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, Xaarii, 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