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these more luxuriant southern isles I have never seen it eaten by the natives, only by the foreign labour—i.e., the men imported from the groups to the north-east, who are engaged to work on the plantations. In their own isles they have discovered a means of steaming and mashing the fruit which, when fermented, yields a strong and highly intoxicating spirit. The whalers who years ago settled among them, taught them to improve on this liquor by distillation, and also instructed them how to obtain a fiery spirit from the innocent palm-trees. So, thanks to their tuition, and generally civilising influence, the Line islanders have become infinitely more debased than they previously were. It does seem too bad, does it not, to extract poison from these useful trees | But whether it be orange-rum in Tahiti, or barleybree in the isles nearer home, I suppose the white race will find means to procure fire-water wherever it goes, and seems to turn every sort of plant to the same use. What with rum from the sugar-cane, and fiery spirit from the sweet dracaena root, and even from innocent bananas, it appears as if every good gift of heaven was liable to be misused in like manner. I hear some people say that they weary of the monotony of the cocoa-palms; and certainly a low coral-shore, with an unbroken line of palm-trees, is somewhat dull. Here, however, there is an amazing variety in the foliage of the seaboard. Besides the many beautiful large-leaved shrubs, there are various handsome trees, which attain a great size, and, as I described to you, many grow 80 close to the shore that their boughs literally dip into the sea. Some of these are fruit-bearing. The vi bears bunches of large yellow plums, and the ahia" yields a lovely pink fruit, with white juicy flesh. But of all the indigenous trees none can compare for beauty and value to the bread-fruit, which, though it demands a richer soil in the first instance, rivals the cocoa-palm in its manifold uses. Though it does not give drink to the thirsty, or coir for ropes and matting, its resin forms a strong glue which is useful in caulking the boats, and the bark of the young branches yields a fibre from
* The Malay apple, familiar to us in Fiji as the kavecka,
THE BREAD-FRUIT TREE. 347
which strong cloth is made. Its timber is exceedingly valuable;
been devoting a considerable amount of energy to collecting mangostones, or rather kernels, with a view to sending them to Fiji. It is only about eighteen years since the mango-tree was introduced to these isles from Rio Janeiro, and so wonderful is the rapidity with which it has spread, that it now holds its place as the most marked feature in the vegetation of this group. Every homestead is embowered in these and other fruit-bearing trees, and for the last two months every man, woman, and child (to say nothing of quadrupeds) seems to be for ever eating ripe, delicious, golden mangoes; and every road, indeed the ground in every direction, is strewn with les noyaux, though the people so fully appreciate the luxury of a feast by the river-side, where they may enjoy the juicy dainties without the smallest respect for conventional appearances, that an immense number of the finest kernels are thrown into the water— indeed, since I have been so anxious to collect good sorts, I observe with annoyance that though I entreat these careless easy-going people (le peuple) to throw the best stones in some corner for me, they seem by preference (or probably by force of habit) always to chuck them into the water. The French have taken immense trouble in perfecting this valuable fruit, and have now introduced so many excellent varieties that one crop succeeds another in rotation. The round mango is succeeded by the golden egg, and that by a small purple, while the large long sort seems inexhaustible. Best of all are those specially cultivated by Monseigneur Janssen, Bishop of Axiēri, who has raised a super-excellent mango with a very large fruit, and a long stone so thin and flat as to resemble the inner sole of a child's shoe. The bishop has also been inspired with the happy thought of distributing mango-stones in other groups, and sent off a large consignment last month by a vessel going direct to New Caledonia. He is most kind in helping me to collect a good assortment for Fiji: at the same time, he warns me that taking the best seed is no sure warrant for getting equally good plants, as no other tree exists, so faithless in reproducing its own kind, and variety of soil produces every conceivable variety of tree. You may take twin
COLLECTING MANGO-STONES. 349
fruits from one tree, and plant them a few yards to right and left of the parent tree. One will grow up infinitely superior to its mother—the other will be all stone and fibre, and scarcely fit for the pigs. The only certainty lies in taking graffs of the good ones, and so utilising the stock; also in planting, the richest soil must be selected, as the tree has a long tap-root and strikes deep. Now there is abundance of rich soil in Fiji, and the ordinary vegetation is identical with that of Tahiti; so there can be no reason why the mango should not be acclimatised there as well as here, and it would be a very great satisfaction to me to aid in bestowing so great a boon on the young colony. I am sure I deserve that the attempt should succeed, for it has already cost me an immense amount of trouble. In spite of all precautions, of careful drying and turning, &c., a very large number of the stones I collected in the early part of the season have already sprouted. Some are quite respectable young trees. So now I am making a more systematic attempt, and have devoted several days to driving to all the very finest gardens in the neighbourhood, where, with the help of a pretty Tahitian boy (who rather enjoyed such a chance of an unlimited feed), I set to work to collect the half-decayed fruit, which lay rotting under all the best trees. I can tell you that cleaning the stones was about the hottest, dirtiest, and most fatiguing work I have done for many a day. However, notwithstanding the heat, I stuck to it for six hours one day and three the next, and two hours on several other days. And the result is a splendid lot of noyaux, which every morning I turn and re-turn, in order to dry them thoroughly, hoping to prevent their sprouting like the first lot. But in spite of all my precautions, the large flat seeds of the finest mango have already done so—so they, at least, can only be propagated by graffs. Another difficulty is, that hitherto all my efforts to send plants from Fiji to England by Wardian cases of island manufacture have proved abortive. In every case the plants have died, so I do not feel much encouraged to try the experiment again. The great difficulty lies in the length of time that must elapse ere either plants or stones can reach Fiji; as, of course, such a chance as that of the vessel which brought me thence, direct to this group, is of very rare occurrence. The probability is, that the seeds which I am now collecting will have to wait for an opportunity of being sent by sailing-vessel 2000 miles north to Honolulu; there to be transhipped to a Pacific mail-steamer, and be carried south-west 4000 miles to Sydney; where they would find another steamer to take them the 1700 miles to Levuka, whence they will find their way by sundry small sailing-boats to the various Fijian isles. A somewhat circuitous route, you must allow !
After all, I have found a somewhat more direct route by which to send some of my mango-stones. Le Limier was despatched to-day on special service to the Gilbert Isles, thence to proceed to New Caledonia, and her very obliging captain, Commandant Puéch, offered to carry a large case to the care of the British Consul (Mr Layard), who will forward it to Sir Arthur Gordon by the first opportunity. So I set to work to pack 4000 carefully selected stones, laying them side by side as neatly as though building a wall with children's little bricks. It took me a whole day's work, and, considering that each seed has passed through my hands six or eight times, while collecting, cleaning, scraping, drying, turning, selecting, and finally packing, you will not wonder that I looked after the departing case with a feeling of quite maternal interest."
The mission on which Le Limier is now bound is to take back 200 of the Arawais, inhabitants of the Gilbert Islands, who were
! Just before leaving Tahiti, I bestowed equal care on three cases containing 6000 stones, which were carried by sailing-ship to New Zealand and thence to Fiji. Their arrival there was anxiously expected, and all arrangements made for their speedy distribution throughout the group. Alas! alas ! when, after long delays, the cases were opened, they were found to contain a mass of decay; poor dead plants, which had sprouted during the voyage, and straightway died. When this sad news reached me, I bethought me sorrowfully of the advice given me by Monseigneur Janssen—namely, that as plants require light and air to enable them to sprout, I would do well to compel them to sleep by packing them in soot, and then having the case carefully caulked. The mess involved in such work was so horrible, that I shrank from undertaking it, but I bequeath the good advice to my successors in the attempt.