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A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War

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A LADY'S CRUISE


IN A


FRENCH MAN-OF-WAR


BY

C. F. GORDON CUMMING
AUTHOR OF 'AT HOME IN FIJI,' 'FROM THE HEBRIDES TO
THE HIMALAYAS
,' ETC.



NEW EDITION, COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME


WITH MAP AND ILLUSTRATIONS



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON

MDCCCLXXXII


All Rights reserved

 

 

"The morning watch was come; the vessel lay
Her course, and gently made her liquid way;
The cloven billow flashed from off her prow
In furrows formed, by that majestic plough.

· · · · · ·
'Huzza for Otaheite!' was the cry.

The gentle island and the genial soil,
The friendly hearts, the feasts without a toil,
The courteous manners, but from nature caught,
The wealth unhoarded, and the love unbought.

· · · · · ·
The soil where every cottage showed a home,

The sea-spread net, the lightly launched canoe,
Which stemmed the studded archipelago
O'er whose blue bosom rose the starry isles.
And sweetly now, those untaught melodies
Broke the luxurious silence of the skies,
The sweet siesta of a summer day,
The tropic afternoon of Toobonai,
When every flower was bloom, and air was balm,
And the first breath began to stir the palm."

· · · · · ·
 

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PAPEETE. CAPITAL OF TAHITI.

 

INTRODUCTION.




When, in the spring of 1875, Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon was appointed first Governor of Fiji, I had the good fortune to be invited to form one of the party who accompanied Lady Gordon to that far country.

Two years slipped away, brimful of interest, and each month made me feel more 'At Home in Fiji,' more fascinated with its lovely scenery, more content to linger among its isles.

Then a counter-charm was brought to bear upon the spell which held me thus entranced. The chief magician appeared in the guise of a high ecclesiastic of the Roman Church, clothed in purple, and wearing the mystic ring and cross of amethyst; while his coadjutor, a French gentleman of the noble old school, was the commander of a large French man-of-war, which had been placed at the service of the Bishop of Samoa, to enable him to visit all the most remote portions of his diocese. Already this warlike mission-ship had peacefully touched at many points of exceeding beauty and interest, and our visitors had no sooner recognised my keen appreciation of scenery, and inveterate love of sketching, than they formally and most cordially invited me to complete le tour de la mission, and so fill fresh portfolios with reminders of the beautiful scenes which the vessel was about to visit.

Being duly imbued with a British conviction that such an invitation could not possibly be a bonâ fide one, I at first treated it merely as a polite form; but when it was again and again renewed, in such terms as to leave no possible doubt of its sincerity, and when, moreover, we learnt that the most comfortable cabin in the ship had actually been prepared for the invited guest, and that its owner was thoroughly in earnest in his share of the invitation, then indeed we agreed that the chance was too unique to be lost; and so it came to pass that on the 5th September 1877 I started on the cruise in a French man-of-war, which proved one of the most delightful episodes in many years of travel.

NOTE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

THE KEY TO THE PANAMA CANAL.




While these pages were passing through the press, I have received details from various sources, which prove that the policy referred to at p. 241 is being actively carried out.

Not content with holding the Marquesas, the Paumotus, Tahiti, and the Gambler Isles, France seems resolved to annex every desirable island lying to the east of Samoa, thus securing possession of every good harbour and coaling-station lying between New Zealand and the coast of South America; and also, diverting all the trade of these isles, from Britain's Australian colonies, to a French centre, which shall command the great commercial highway of the future, when the Panama Canal shall be completed. Raiatea in the Society Isles has recently been formally annexed, and the independence of Huahine and Bora-Bora threatened.

Now a further step is contemplated. The Austral and Hervey groups still remain free. They are self-governed, and Christianity is firmly established among their people.

According to the latest information, a French man-of-war visited their principal isles last August, to command the inhabitants to divert their present trade from New Zealand to Tahiti, assuring them that Great Britain had undertaken not to interfere with French action anywhere to the east of Samoa. The islanders, who had at first received the French vessel with all honour, no sooner got an inkling of the true object of its visit than they became alarmed, and returned all presents which had been made to them by the captain; who thereupon assured them that the French admiral was on his way thither, and would soon bring them to their bearings, and that they would have to accept a French protectorate.

Remembering the history of French protection in Tahiti, the Australs and Hervey Islanders are now justly alarmed for their own independence.

 

CONTENTS.




CHAPTER I.
PAGE
Letter to England announcing start from Fiji—Vague plans, 1
CHAPTER II.
Life in a French man-of-war—Convent-life in Tonga—Early martyrs—Wesleyan mission—Roman Catholic mission—Cyclopean tombs at Mua—Gigantic trilithon—Fines and taxes—King George Tupou, 3
CHAPTER III.
Sail from Tonga to Vavau—Volcano of Tofua—Wesleyan mission—Two thousand miles from a doctor—Orange-groves—A lovely sea-lake—Coral caves, 24
CHAPTER IV.
Life on board ship—The Wallis Isles—Fotuna—Sunday Isle—Cyclopean remains on Easter Isle—Stone adzes—Samoa—Pango-Pango harbour, 33
CHAPTER V.
Boat transit to Leone—Spouting caves—Council of war—Sketch of Samoan history—Night dances, 48
CHAPTER VI.
A shore without a reef—Samoan plants—Houses—Animals—Laying foundation-stone of a church—School festival—the Navigator's Isles, 61
CHAPTER VII.
Vanquished chiefs of the Puletoa faction under protection of the union-jack—Convent-school—"Bully" Hayes—Postal difficulties—House of Godeffroy—Village of Malinunu—Vegetables and fish—Advantages of Anglo-American companies, 74
CHAPTER VIII.
The Ishmaelites of the Pacific—Injudicious intervention—Fa-Samoa picnic—A torchlight walk—Training-college at Malua—Apt illustrations by native preachers—Dr Turner—Mission to the New Hebrides—Escape to Samoa—Of many changes on many isles, 89
CHAPTER IX.
A sketch of the Samoan mission—The Rev. John Williams determines to visit the Navigator's Isles—Preliminary work in the Hervey group—Discovery of Rarotonga—Conversion of its people—They help Williams to build a ship which shall convey him to Samoa—Visit Tonga—Proceed to Samoa—Overthrow of idolatry—Reverence for old mats—Williams's grave at Apia, 118
CHAPTER X.
Leave Samoa—Reach Tahiti—Grey shadows—Death of Queen Pomare—La Loire and her passengers—A general dispersion—Life ashore at Papeete—Admiral Serre and the royal family—Families of Salmon and Brander—Adoption, 148
CHAPTER XI.
Papeete—Catholic mission—Protestant mission—A christening party—La Maison Brandère—Tales of the past—Evenings in Tahiti—La musique—Plans—Sunday, 164
CHAPTER XII.
Short sketch of a royal progress round Tahiti, 177
CHAPTER XIII.
The royal progress round Tahiti—Life day by day—Himènes—A beautiful shore—Manufacture of arrowroot flowers — A deserted cotton plantation—Tahitian dancing—The Areois—Vanilla plantations—Fort of Taravao, 182
CHAPTER XIV.
The royal progress round Tahiti (continued)—French fort at Taravon—The peninsula—Life in bird-cage houses—Torchlight procession—Return to Papeete, 198
CHAPTER XV.
The semaphore—Immutable tides—The coral-reef—Spearing fish—Netting—catching sharks—A royal mausoleum—Superstitions of East and West—Centipedes—Intoxicating drinks—Influenza—Death of Mrs Simpson, 210
CHAPTER XVI.
The royal progress round Moorea—The Seignelay starts for the Marquesas and Paumotus—Indecision, 226
CHAPTER XVII.
Vain regrets — Some account of the Marquesas and the Paumotu groups, 236
CHAPTER XVIII.
Tahitian hospitality—A South Sea store—A bathing picnic—The Marquesans—Tattooing—Ancient games of Tahiti—Malay descent—Theory of a northerly migration, 267
CHAPTER XIX.
Life in Papeete—The market—Churches—Country life in the South Seas, 286
CHAPTER XX.
Visit to the Protestant mission on Moorea—A sketch of the early history of the mission, 294
CHAPTER XXI.
A healing tree—Plantation life—Vanilla crops—Cat-and-dog life—A foiled assassin—The tropics of to-day—England in days of yore—Among the crags—Infanticide—Heathen days, 310
CHAPTER XXII.
Life on Moorea—An ancient place of sacrifice—Arrival of H.M.S. Shah—Hospitalities on land and water, 322
CHAPTER XXIII.
The atoll group of Tetiaroa, 335
CHAPTER XXIV.
New Year's Day in Tahiti—Ascent of Fautawa valley—Of palm salads, screw-pines, and bread-fruit—Packing mango-stones—Return of Gilbert Islanders—Departure of the Seignelay, 339
CHAPTER XXV.
Hurricane at the Paumotus—Mahena plantation—Watching for vessels—Farewell to Tahiti, 353
 

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.




PAGE
Papeete—Capital, Frontispiece
Trilithon, Tonga, 18
A Coral Cave, Vavau, 29
Opunuhu Bay, Moorea, 153
Le Diadème, 169
A Royal Reception, Hapiti, 229
Pao Pao, or Cook's Bay, 230
Ancient Marai, 324
Map, At the end




NOTE.

The "Wa Kalou,"—i.e., "Fern of God,"—introduced on the cover of this book, is a most delicate climbing fern which overtwines tall trees and shrubs in the Pacific Isles, forming a misty veil of indescribable loveliness. When in the state of fructification, each leaf is edged with a dotted fringe of brown seed. In the Fijian Isles its beauty has gained for it the name here given; and in olden days the ridge-poles of the temples were wreathed with it, as those of chiefs' houses are to this day. It also finds favour for personal adornment, trailing garlands of this exquisite green being singularly becoming to a clear brown skin.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.