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A SOUTH SEA STORE. 273
customers can possibly invent, from white satin shoes to ship anchors. For he has not only to provide for the island population, but must be ready to supply any ships that happen to come into harbour with whatever they require. Fresh meats and preserved meats, New Zealand beef, Australian mutton, condensed milk and tinned butter, Californian “canned ” vegetables and fruits, candles and lamps, oils of various kinds, firearms and gunpowder, hair-oil and brushes, wines and spirits, letter-paper and ledgers, books and framed pictures, cutlery of all sorts—from a penknife to a cutlass, or from a hair-pin to a harpoon—wine-glasses and tumblers, necklaces and brooches, crockery and physic: these, and a thousand other items, are all on hand, and appear at a moment's notice. And as the store is the centre of all business, it is a general rendezvous; in fact, a sort of club, where pleasant cooling drinks are not unknown, and where much amusing gossip may be heard, for that is an article not unknown even in Tahiti | Provisioning large vessels for long voyages is no easy matter
here, where all animals have to be imported, as these beautiful hills and valleys afford very poor pasture-land, being all overrun with guava scrub. So shiploads of cattle are despatched from the Sandwich Isles, at very irregular intervals, by sailing ships, which sometimes are detained so long by contrary winds and calms, that the poor beasts are almost starved. The sheep are equally lean; and in fact, pork and fowls are about the only satisfactory meatsupply.
Thursday, 22d Nov.
It is hard to think of you all, enduring the miseries of chill November, while we are revelling day after day, and night after night, in an atmosphere of balmy delight and clear blue heavens. Last night we all went to the admiral's big reception, au Gouvernement, and a very gay scene it was, so many pretty women in very fresh, simple muslin sacques—only a few French ladies adhering to Parisian fashions. The ball-room has an excellent inlaid floor; and as the music is most enlivening, and the French naval officers enjoy dancing quite as much as any of the girls, they kept it up
with great spirit. Of course the gardens are a very great attraction, and to the non-dancers are the favourite lounge. Good music, pleasant company, warm delicious nights, redolent of fragrant flowers—what more could you desire? Sometimes, when the band stops playing, we go for a moonlight row in the harbour, as far as the entrance through the barrier-reef, just for the pleasure of watching the breakers, and hearing their deafening roar. This morning, soon after sunrise. M. Viennot called for me in his carriage, and drove me to Papawa, where he has built himself a tiny house, near a lovely bathing-place. We found all the mission families already assembled, with a few other friends, including M. Puéch, commanding Le Limier, a French man-of-war. He at once set his sailors to catch fish for our picnic; and after a preliminary luncheon, we all scattered, to bathe, or stroll, as the case might be. I went off with a party of half-a-dozen handsome girls, of English and Tahitian birth, descendants of the early missionaries, whose children settled in the group, and married half-whites. They led the way to a delicious stream, narrow, and deep, and clear, and very still, edged with tall bulrushes. They supplied me with a bathing-dress like their own—namely, a pareo of crimson, or scarlet-and-white calico, which they wore very gracefully draped from the neck. They wove great wreaths of green fern to protect their heads from the sun, and, of course, did not neglect me in the distribution. I thought they formed a most picturesque group. The stream was so inviting that we determined to follow it up for some distance. But the water, which at first only came to my shoulders, grew deeper and deeper, till I could not feel the ground, and I had to confess my inability to swim. So then these charming naiads clustered round me, and floated me smoothly along, as they swam a good half-mile to the upper stream. It was quite charming. Then they floated me back again, and by the time we rejoined the rest of the party, the sailors had caught a great supply of excellent little fish of many sorts, and we had a most merry feast, after which Commandant Puéch brought me home in his boat; and now I confess to being so tired, that I am
LOSS OF INDIVIDUALITY. 275
going to bed, notwithstanding the attraction of a pleasant In OOnlight expedition in the admiral's big barge.
The Seignelay returned to-day from the Marquesas and the Paumotu group. She has had a most delightful fortnight's cruise, and my kind friends on board add to my poignant repentance for having refused to accompany them, by their regrets that I should have missed so excellent an opportunity. They had perfect weather. The voyage going and coming occupied just a week, during which they passed through the Paumotus. The other week was spent at different islands in the Marquesas, and they say that much of the scenery is like the island of Moorea, but greatly glorified. Now, as Moorea is the most unique and beautiful isle I have ever seen, you can imagine how grievous it is to think I should so stupidly have missed seeing one still more strange and lovely.
They also declare that the people are by far the finest race, and the most uncivilised savages, they have ever seen anywhere. They declare that many are still cannibal, and that all are tattooed all over the face and body, while many of the men are clothed only in a kilt of human hair. I think it possible that had they inspected
, this garment more closely, they might have discovered it to be
made of the Rhizomorpha fibre—a glossy black parasitic weed,
Cook's Otaheiti. Not a trace of tattooing is now to be seen, though in olden days it was practised by almost all Tahitians, both men and women, simply as a personal adornment. Happily they seldom disfigured their faces, but the women tattooed their feet, up to the ankles, and marked bracelets on their arms and wrists. The men sometimes covered the whole body with intricate patterns, often gracefully drawn, as when a cocoa-nut palm was designed on the leg, or a bread-fruit tree, with twining vines, on the chest. Fishes and birds, flowers and fruits, spears and clubs, were favourite subjects; and sometimes a battle-piece, or the offering of sacrifice at the marae, were thus indelibly marked. In the character of subjects selected, the tattooing of Tahiti seems to have been nearer akin to that of Japan than of any other nation, though in this respect, as in all others, the Japanese lend to their work an artistic beauty of their own. In all other groups, the patterns selected were generally stars or lines. By far the most elaborate designs are those of New Zealand and the Marquesas; but the former invariably adhere to curved lines or concentric circles, covering the whole face, while the latter make broad straight lines all over the body, with occasional designs of animals. The only Marquesan whom I have seen here is most elaborately tattooed from head to foot, and I am told he is a fair type of his countrymen. All the Maoris whom we saw in New Zealand were so fully clothed, that I can only testify to the very finely marked intricate circles on the faces of the men, and the hideous blue lips of the women. In Samoa the men are so marked as apparently to be clothed in dark-blue-silk knee-breeches. In Tonga only the men were tattooed, the women never were. In Fiji, on the other hand, men were never tattooed; but, for women, a certain small amount was a compulsory religious act. In all these countries so many idolatrous ceremonies were connected with the process, that it was invariably prohibited so soon as the people professed Christianity. In Japan, where it has hitherto been so practised as to be a really beautiful art, it has been declared illegal by the same police regulations which, greatly
to the discomfort of the people, insist on every man being dressed from head to foot. But throughout the Christianised isles, including Tahiti, the prohibition was on the score of idolatry, and a law was passed, affixing a graduated scale of penalty for repeated offences; a man was condemned to make so many fathoms of road or of stone-work, and a woman to make so many mats, or so many fathoms of native cloth, for the use of the king and of the governor. Nevertheless, the desire to embellish nature was so great, that many were content to work out the penalty rather than forego the adornment. There never was a better illustration of the old proverb, “Il faut souffrir pour étre belle; ” for it was necessarily a painful process, followed by swelling and inflammation, which often lasted for a considerable time, and sometimes even proved fatal. The process was simple: the victim of vanity was made to lie flat on the ground, while the artist sketched his design with charcoal on the skin, which was then punctured by little bundles of needles, made of the bones of birds or fishes, though human bones were preferred. Some were so arranged as to resemble the teeth of a saw, and were used in producing straight lines. Others had but one fine point for giving delicate finishing touches, and for working on such sensitive spots as could not endure the sharper pain. The needles having previously been dipped in a black dye, made from the kernel of the candle-nut, reduced to charcoal and mixed with oil, were struck sharply with a small hammer, thus puncturing the skin, carrying with them the dye, which, seen through the transparent and very silky skin, had the effect of being blue. The custom of tattooing was certainly widespread. Herodotus has recorded its existence even among the Thracians, of whom he remarked that the “barbarians could be exceedingly foppish after their fashion. The man who was not tattooed amongst them was not respected.” If tattooing was in fashion so near Phoenicia, who knows but that those roving traders may have been the first to suggest to our fair-skinned forefathers the attractions of blue woad as high art decoration ? Not only have such practices as tattooing died out in Tahiti,