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story of how Captain Cook discovered those isles of beauty, and named them after the "Royal Society" which had sent him to explore these unknown seas. The Tahiti of to-day is doubtless a very different place from the Otaheite of 1774.
Of course, in a highly organised French colony much of the old romance must have passed away with its dangers. But the natural loveliness of the isle cannot have changed, and I look forward with great delight to seeing it all .
Every one speaks in the highest terms of Mr Miller, our longestablished English consul, and his charming Peruvian wife (so Lord Pembroke describes her). Both are intimate friends of Captain Aube and the bishop, who will commit me to their care on arriving. I have also an excellent introduction to Mr Green, the head of the London Mission; and M. Vernier, of the French Protestant Mission, was once for some months at Inveraray. I hear golden opinions both of Mrs Green and Mme. Vernier, and of M. and Mme. Viennot, of the same mission. So amongst them all, I have no doubt that I shall be all right.
But I cannot quite forget what a hideous future lies beyond. The total distance I have travelled in this large comfortable steamer, from Fiji to Tahiti, including trips from isle to isle, has been 2985 miles. From Tahiti (after this good ship has sped on her way to Valparaiso) there remain two courses before me—either to go to New Zealand, 3000 miles, or to Honolulu, 3200 miles,—in either case in a small sailing vessel, starting at some uncertain period. There is a monthly mail to San Francisco, but that is only a schooner of about 120 tons; and vid San Francisco would be rather a circuitous route to Sydney! where I expect to meet Lady Gordon somewhere about Christmas. It is a hideous prospect, but I have too much faith in my luck to be deeply concerned about it. The worst of it all is, that I cannot possibly receive any letters till I arrive in Sydney, which may, I fear, be some time hence.
As my wardrobe will by that time be considerably the worse for wear, you will do well to send out a box of sundry garments to await my arrival, otherwise I shall be reduced to appearing in a graceful drapery of lappa, with fringes of crimson dracsena leaves;
GKEY SHADOWS. 153
but though the dress of Oceania is very becoming to the young and beautiful, the world of Sydney is hardly up to it,—and besides, I fear it would be scarcely suitable for old grand-aunts (presque grand'mere), as one of my French friends put it yesterday! It certainly is rather a shame to let you have all this rouble, while I have the fun of exploring such strange lands; but it is a sort of division of labour, whereby you pay your tax to the family locomotive demon, who drives all the rest of us so hard, but leaves you in peace in Britain, to do your share of wandering by deputy.
Now, as it is getting late, I must turn in, as I want to be up at grey dawn to see beautiful Moorea (the Eimeo of our childhood), and we shall sail close past it, as we make Papeete harbour. So good-night .
Ln Harrour. Pafeete, Tahiti,
Well, we have reached Tahiti, but really I am beginning to fear that, like most things to which we have long looked forward, this is likely to prove disappointing. We came in this morning in a howling storm, un gros coup de vent, and everything looked dismal. Though we coasted all along Moorea, the envious clouds capped the whole isle, only showing a peak here and there. Certainly such glimpses as we did catch were weirdly grand; huge basaltic pinnacles of most fantastic shape towering from out the sea of billowy white clouds, which drifted along those black crags. And below the cloud canopy lay deep ravines, smothered in densest foliage, extending right down to the grey dismal sea, which broke in thunder on the reef. With strong wind and tide against us as we crossed from Moorea to Tahiti, you can fancy what a relief it was when, passing by a narrow opening through the barrier-reef, we left the great tossing waves outside, and found ourselves in this calm harbour, which to-day is sullen and grey as a mountain-tarn. At first we could see literally nothing of the land; but it is now a little clearer, and through the murky mist we see a fine massive mountain rising above a great gorge beyond the town. But in general effect of beauty this is certainly not equal to Ovalau, and even the town looks little better than Levuka,1 though it is certainly more poetic, the houses being all smothered in foliage. But then it is fine-weather foliage—all hybiscus and bread-fruit,— the former, of that very blue-green tint, which in rain looks as grey as an olive-grove; while each glossy leaf of the bread-fruit is a mirror, which exactly reflects the condition of the weather—glancing bright in sunlight, but to-day only repeating the dull hue of the leaden clouds.
For indeed it is a dreary grey day, sea and sky alike dull and colourless, all in keeping with the sad news with which the pilot greeted us as he came on board—namely, that Queen Pomare died a fortnight ago (on the 17th September); so we have just missed seeing the good old queen of my infantile romantic visions. Her eldest son, Prince Ariiaue, has been proclaimed king under the hereditary name, and is henceforth to be known as Pomare V.
But the people are all in deepest dulo, and instead of the great rejoicings and balls, and himenes, and varied delights of the fete Napoleon (or rather its republican substitute, the anniversary of the Protectorate), on the 9th October, for which we had expected to find joyous crowds assembled—always ready for an excuse for music and dancing—a festival to which my friends have been looking forward all the voyage, — instead of this, we see the crowds pouring out of the native church, all dressed in the deepest mourning, from their crape - trimmed black hats, to their black flowing robes, which are worn from the throat, and with sleeves down to the wrist; they trail on the ground in sweeping trains, and are so long in front that even the bare feet are covered.
There are no flowers, no fragrant wreaths, no arrowroot crowns, no snowy plumes of reva-reva—even the beautiful raven-tresses of the women have all been cut off. This is mourning with a vengeance; and the Court circular has commanded that the whole nation shall wear the garb of woe for six months. I do hope that at least the commoners will disobey this injunction! At present all the men appear like black crows. Apparently many are dis1 Capital of Fiji.