Book Cover


Frontspiece: The Royal Family





NICHOLAS SENN, M. D., Ph. D., LL. D., C. M.

Professor of Surgery in the University of Chicago

Professor and Head of the Surgical Department in Rush Medical College

Surgeon-in-Chief of St. Joseph's Hospital

Attending Surgeon of the Presbyterian Hospital

Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of the Operating Staff with the Army in

the Field during the Spanish-American War

Surgeon-General of Illinois




Title Page





The far-away little island of Tahiti is the gem of the South Pacific Ocean. If any place in this world deserves to be called a paradise, Tahiti can make this claim. This charming spot in the wide expanse of the peaceful ocean has attractions which we look for in vain anywhere else. From a distance, the grandeur of its frowning cliffs rivets the eye, and, in coming nearer, its tropic beauty charms the visitor and imprints upon his memory pictures single and panoramic that neither distance nor time can efface. The scenic beauty of this island is unsurpassed. The calming air, redolent with the perfume of fragrant flowers of exquisite beauty, on the seashore, in the valleys and on the precipitous mountain sides; the luxuriant vegetation; the forest fruit-gardens and the sweet music of the surf remind one of the original habitation of man. The natives, a childlike people, friendly, courteous and hospitable, are the happiest people on earth, free from care and worries which in other less favored parts of the world make life a drudgery.

Tahiti is the only place in the world where the people are not obliged to work. The forests furnish bread and fruit and the sea teems with fish. The climate is so mild that the wearing of clothing is rather a matter of choice than of necessity, and the bamboo huts that can be made with little or no expense in half a day with the willing help of the neighbors, meet all the requirements of a home. The stranger will find here throughout the year a climate and surroundings admirably adapted to calm his nervous system and procure repose and sleep.

In writing this little book I have made free use of the "Memoirs of Arrii Taimai E., Marama of Eimeo, Terii rere of Tooarai, Terii nui of Tahiti, Tauraatua I Amo" (Paris, 1901). The authoress was the mother of Tati, one of the most influential present chiefs of Tahiti, and, as her several titles show, she was of noble birth. She was an eye-witness of many of the most stirring political events in the history of the island. Only fifty copies of this book were printed and only three remained in possession of her son. He was kind enough to give me one of them, which, after making liberal use of it, I presented to the library of the University of Chicago, through its late lamented president, Dr. W. R. Harper. I also acknowledge my indebtedness to the works of Captain Cook, "A Voyage to the Pacific" (London, 1784), and to the book of Baron Ferd. von Mueller, "Select Extra-tropical Plants" (Melbourne, 1885).

N. Senn.

Chicago, 1906.



HARBOR AND PRINCIPAL PORT OF PAPEETE (Steamer Mariposa leaving the port)


When the Almighty Architect of the universe created the earth we inhabit, He manifested His wisdom, goodness and foresight in adapting, in a most admirable manner, the soil, climate, and animal and vegetable life for the habitation of man, the supreme work of creation. By the gradual and progressive geographical distribution of man over the surface of the earth, he has become habituated to diverse climates and environments, and has found conditions most congenial to his comfort and the immediate necessities of life.

In cold, laborious climes, the wintry North

Brings her undaunted, hardy warriors forth,

In body and in mind untaught to yield,

Stubborn of soul, and steady in the field;

While Asia's softer climate, form'd to please.

Dissolves her sons in indolence and ease.


It required centuries for the Esquimau to become acclimated to the inhospitable polar regions, and make them his favorite abode; the people who drifted toward the equator gradually became inured to the climate of the tropics and accustomed to the manner of living in countries where the perennial heat paralyzes the physical and mental energies, and undermines the health of strangers coming from a more temperate climate. Nature has made ample provision for man in all habitable parts of the earth. The regions of ice and snow are inhabited by fur-bearing animals, and, at certain seasons of the year, are frequented by a large variety of aquatic birds in great abundance, which supply the natives with food and clothing, while in the tropics, man has little or no need of fuel and clothing, and, with very little exertion, he can subsist on the fruits of the forests, and on the food so liberally supplied by the sea.

The intensity of the struggle for life increases with the distance north and south from the temperate zones, where climatic conditions necessitate active exercise and where the necessities of life can only be obtained by the hardest kind of labor. The climate of the tropics, on the other hand, is very generous to man. The forests are rich in fruit yielding trees which Nature plants, which receive little or no care, yet which bear fruit throughout the year. Wherever the cocoa-palm grows in abundance, there can be no famine, because this tree yields a rich harvest of nutritious fruit from one end of the year to the other without fail, as it is never affected to any considerable extent by drouth and other conditions which so often bring failure to the orchards in more temperate climates. The continuous summer and the wonderful fertility of the soil in tropic and subtropic countries reward richly the labor of the husbandman by two and sometimes three harvests a year, as nature's forces require no rest, no slumber there.

Life in a changeable, severe climate is full of hardships; in the tropics, of ease and leisure. The nearer we come to the tropics, the closer we approach the conditions of primitive man. The necessities of life increase as we recede on either side of the equatorial line. The dreamy, easy, care-free life in the tropics is in strong contrast with the severe and arduous struggles for existence in countries less favored by the resources of nature.

Among the trees in the Garden of Eden, the palm tree was undoubtedly the most beautiful, and it remains to-day the queen of the forests of the seacoast in the tropics. The palm-clad isles of the South Sea bear a closer resemblance to the description of the Garden of Eden than any other of the many parts of the world that I have ever seen; and of these, Tahiti is a real paradise on earth. There is no country nor other isle where Nature has been so liberal in the distribution of her gifts. No other island can compare in natural beauty with Tahiti, the gem of the South Pacific Ocean. It is the island where life is free of care. It is the island where the natives are fed, clothed and housed by nature. It is the island where man is born, eats his daily bread without being forced to labor, sleeps and dreams away his life free from worry, and enjoys the foretaste of the eternal paradise before he dies. It is the island which must have been born

In the morning of the world,

When earth was nigher heaven than now.


It is the island of which the poet must have been musing when he wrote:

Amid an isle around whose rocky shore

The forests murmur and the surges roar,

A goddess guards in her enchanted dome.



About three thousand six hundred miles south by southwest from San Francisco are the Society Islands, a small archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, in latitude 16 to 18 degrees south, longitude 148 to 155 degrees west. Captain Cook named this group in honor of the Royal Society of London. The largest two of these islands, Tahiti and Moorea, are of volcanic origin, mountainous and heavily timbered; the remaining islands are small, low, of coral origin, and are called atolls. In approaching the archipelago from San Francisco, a few of these palm-fringed atoll islands come first into view, forming a pleasing foreground to the rugged mountains of Tahiti and its smaller neighbor, Moorea, which are sighted almost at the same time. After a voyage over the desert ocean of thirteen days (all this time out of sight of land), to gaze on the most beautiful islands of this group is a source of exquisite pleasure.

Sea-girt isles,

That like to rich and various gems, inlay

The unadorned bosom of the deep.


The South Pacific Ocean is the natural home of the coral polyps, which are great island-builders, using the volcanic material as a foundation for the coral superstructure. As these minute builders can live only in shallow water, they use submerged mountain peaks for their foundations, converting them into low atolls, and building reefs around the base of the high volcanic islands. Most of the Society Islands are of coral formation perched upon submerged mountain summits. The island of Tahiti is small, of little commercial interest, and hence it is comparatively unknown to the masses of the people. Very few who left the schoolroom twenty-five years ago would be able to locate it without consulting a geography, and many have even forgotten the name. The children fresh from school recall it in connection with the difficulty they encountered in finding the little dot in the great, trackless South Pacific Ocean, surrounded by a group of still smaller specks, representing the remainder of the little archipelago to which it belongs.

Tahiti is nearly four thousand miles distant from San Francisco, in a southwesterly direction, below the equator, in latitude 17, hence in a similar latitude to that of the Hawaiian Islands, which are situated about the same distance north of the equator.



I had heard much of the natural beauty of this far-off island and its interesting inhabitants, and decided to spend my midwinter vacation in 1904 in paying it a visit. Formerly the passage from San Francisco had to be made by a schooner, and required several months. For the last four years the island has been made readily accessible by a regular steamer service. The staunch steamer, Mariposa, of the Oceanic Steamship Company of San Francisco, sails from that port every thirty-six days, makes the trip in twelve or thirteen days, and remains at Papeete, the capital of the island, four days, which give the visitor ample time to visit the most interesting points and make the desired observations. The track of the steamer is over that part of the Pacific Ocean which is comparatively free from violent storms, between the storm centers east and west from it. The prevailing trade-winds cool off the tropical heat in the vicinity of the equator, rendering the voyage at all seasons of the year a pleasant one. The steamer has a tonnage of three thousand tons, the service is excellent, and the table all that could be desired. I know of no better way to spend a short mid-winter vacation than a trip to Tahiti, the island paradise, the most interesting and beautiful of all islands.

January and February are the months when the fruit is most abundant, and the climate most agreeable. The twenty-five days of voyage on the ocean, the few days on shore occupied by a study of its natives, their customs, manner of living, by visits to the various points of historic interest, and by the greatest of all genuine pleasures, the contemplation of nature's choicest exhibitions in the tropics, are all admirably adapted to procure physical rest and pleasure, and pleasing as well as profitable mental occupation. A trip to Tahiti will prove of particular benefit to those who are in need of mental rest. The absence of anything like severe storms on this trip should be a special inducement, for those who are subject to seasickness, to travel there.

The steamer is well adapted for service in the tropics, the cabins are roomy and comfortable. Capt. J. Rennie is one of the most experienced commanders of the fleet, a good disciplinarian and devoted to the safety and comfort of his passengers. While the steamer can accommodate seventy cabin passengers, the number seldom exceeds twenty-five. The tourist therefore escapes crowding and noise, so trying to the nerves, and so common on the transatlantic steamers and other more frequented ocean routes.


The steamer Mariposa leaves the San Francisco wharf at eleven o'clock a. m.,—an excellent time for the passengers to enjoy the beauties of the bay and the Golden Gate, to see the rugged coast of California gradually disappear in the distance during the course of the afternoon, and to prepare himself for the first night's sleep in the cradle of the deep. The second day out, and until the mountains of Tahiti come in sight, the traveler will see nothing but the floating tavern in which he lives, its inmates, the inky blue ocean, the sky, clouds, and, occasionally, sea-gulls, and isolated schools of flying fish. The steamer's track is over an unfrequented part of the ocean. The passenger looks in vain for a mast or white-winged sails, or puffs of smoke in the distance, sights so often seen on more frequented ocean highways. The steamer crosses an ocean desert little known, but out of reach of the violent storms, so frequent near the coasts, on both sides free from reefs and rocks, as this part of the ocean is of unusual depth, amounting in many places to three miles. Stranding of the vessel, or collision with others, the greatest dangers incident to sea travel, are therefore reduced to a minimum on this route. Although this course is an unusually lonely one, the interested observer will find much to see and enjoy. The vast expanse of the ocean impresses the traveler from day to day and grows upon him as the distance from the coast increases.

Illimitable ocean! without bound,

Without dimensions, where length, breadth, and height,

And time, and place, are lost


The boundless ocean desert, mirror-like when at rest, clothed by gentle ripples and ceaseless wavelets when fanned by the trade-winds, is a picture of peace and contentment.

The winds with wonder whist,

Smoothly the waters kiss'd,

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean.


But even here in the most peaceful part of the Pacific, when angered by the fury of a heavy squall, a diminutive storm agitates the waters into foam-crested waves, which, for a short time at least, impart to the ship an intoxicated gait. The effect of sun, moon and starlight on the smooth, undulating, heaving, billowing, tossing, storm-beaten surface of the ocean, is marvelous. When all is quiet, and the passenger is only conscious of the vibratory movements imparted to the ship by the ceaseless action of the faithful screw, and the lights of heaven are veiled by a curtain of dark clouds, the beautiful blue gives way to a sombre black. When the tropic sun shines with all his force, the color of the water fairly vies with the deep blue of the sky, and the nearer we approach our destination, the tints of blue grow deeper and deeper, until at last they are of perfect indigo.



The moon and starlight have a magic effect on the surface of the water. The long evenings give the passengers the exquisite pleasure of watching the journey of the moon across the starlit heavenly dome, growing, night after night, from a mere sickle to her full majestic size, and of observing the effects of the gradually increasing intensity of the light issuing from the welcome visitor of the night, on the glassy mirror of water beneath. The star-bedecked pale dome of the tropic sky is, in itself, a picture that rivets the attention of the traveler who loves and studies the book of nature. The short twilight over, "these blessed candles of the night" (Shakespeare) are lighted, and send their feeble light down upon the bosom of the ocean.

If the sky is clear, the illuminating power of the moon at its best, and the ocean calm, its surface is transformed into a boundless sheet of silver. This magic effect of moonlight on the surface of the sleeping ocean is magnified by passing fleecy, or dark, storm-threatening clouds. The fleeting, fleecy clouds often veil, only in part, the lovely, full face of the moon, and through fissures, the rays of light issue, and, falling upon the water, are reflected in the form of silvery patches or pathways, corresponding in size and outline with the temporary window in the passing cloud. It is when the moon is about to be hidden behind a dark, impenetrable veil that the spectator may expect to see the most wonderful display of pictures above and around him. As the cloud approaches the moon, the blue background deepens in color and brilliancy and when its dark margin touches the rim of the moon it is changed into a fringe of gold or silver; with the disappearance of the moon behind the cloud the fringe of the latter is rudely torn away, the water beneath is robbed of its carpet of silver, and the captivated observer is made aware that the darkness of night is upon him. But the gloom is of short duration. A break in the cloud serves as a window through which the moon peeps down, with a most bewitching grace, upon the dark surface beneath. The prelude to this exhibition appears on the side of the temporary frame, in the form of a silver lining which broadens with the moving cloud; now the rim of the moon comes into view; slowly, the veil is completely thrown aside, and Luna's calm, pale, smiling, full face makes its appearance, enclosed in a dark frame with silver margins, while, more than likely, she will be attended by a few brilliant stars, thus completing the charms and beauty of the picture suspended from the heavenly dome. All genuine pleasures of this world are of short duration; so with this nocturnal picture painted on the clouds and water. The silver rim on one side of the frame of clouds disappears, the dark margin increases in width, the moon is obscured, and only a few flickering stars remain fixed in the picture.

Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of nature that overcomes our little anxieties and doubts: the sight of the deep blue sky, and the clustering stars above, seem to impart a quiet to the mind.


In midocean is the place to view at greatest advantage the gorgeous sunrise and sunset of the tropics. To see the sun disappear in the distance, where the dome of the sky seems to rest on the bosom of the ocean, is a scene which no pen can describe, and which no artist's brush has ever reproduced in any degree comparable with the grand reality. The canvas of the sky behind the setting glowing orb, and the passing clouds in front, above, and beneath it, are painted successively by the invisible brush in the unseen hands of the departing artist in colors and shades of colors that may well laugh to scorn any and all attempts at description or reproduction. The gilded horizon serves as a fitting background for the retreating monarch of the day, and the slowly moving canvas of clouds transmits his last messages in all the hues of red, crimson, pink, and yellow. To observe this immense panorama stretched from north to south, and projected toward the east, resting on the silvery surface of the rippling ocean, with the ever-varying colors of the slowly moving clouds, as seen evening after evening on the Tahitian trip, leaves impressions which time can not erase from memory.

Night on board the Mariposa has additional attractions for the passengers who appreciate the wonders and beauties of nature. When the night is dark, they find a place in the stern of the ship, lean against the taffrail, and watch the water agitated into a diminutive storm by the powerful screw. There one beholds a sight sufficiently attractive and interesting to keep him spellbound for an hour or more. The indolent, phosphorescent sea-amoeba has been roused into action by the merciless revolutions of the motor of the ship, and emits its diamond sparks of phosphorescent light. Thousands of these little beings discharge their magic light in the white veil of foam which adorns the crests of the storm-beaten surface, in the form of a narrow track as far as the eye can reach in the darkness of the night. The flashes of light thrown off by these minute, to the naked eye invisible, inhabitants of the sea, when angered by the rude action of the screw, appear and disappear in the twinkling of an eye. When these tiny, light-producing animals are numerous, as is the case in the equatorial region, the snow-white veil of foam is richly decorated with diamond sparks which, when they coalesce, form flames of fire in the track of the vessel.


POMARE IV. The Queen of the Story of Ariitaimai of Tahiti

The ocean voyage has occasionally still another surprise in store for the traveler when he reaches the South Pacific. A squall is a tempest on a small scale. We see in the distance a dark cloud of immense size which seems to ride slowly over the surface of the smooth sea. The gentle breeze gives way to a strong wind, the surface of the water becomes ruffled with whitecaps, the darkness increases, and at irregular intervals the threatening, angry cloud is lighted up by chains of lightning thrown in all possible directions; these flashes are followed by peals of thunder, and by prolonged rumbling, which becomes feebler and feebler, and finally dies away far out on the surface of the ocean. The steamer penetrates the storm area. Darkness prevails. Gigantic drops of rain strike the deck and patter upon the canvas awning, the harbingers of a drenching rain.

And now the thick'ned sky

Like a dark ceiling stood; down rush'd the rain impetuous.


The cloud and darkness are left behind, and a clear sky and smooth sea ahead greet the passengers. Did you ever see a rainbow at midnight? Such an unusual nocturnal spectral phenomenon greeted us in midocean: the full moon in the east, the delicate rainbow in its infinite colors painted on the clouds in the west. Our captain, who had lived on the tropic sea for a quarter of a century, had never seen the like before. It was reserved for us to see a rainbow painted by the moon. With such pleasant diversions, by day and by night, we soon forget the ocean desert, and yet on the last day of the voyage we welcome the sight of land.

Be of good cheer, I see land.


The vastness of the ocean and the smallness of Tahiti are in strange contrast. How the mariner, in setting the compass on leaving the harbor of San Francisco, can so unerringly find this little speck in the ocean nearly four thousand miles away, is an accomplishment which no one, not versed in the science of navigation can fully comprehend. We sighted Tahiti during the early part of the forenoon. The peaks of the two highest mountains in Tahiti, Oroheua and Aorii, seven to eight thousand feet in height, projected spectre-like from the surface of the ocean. These peaks appeared as bare, sharp, conical points in the clear sky above a mantle of clouds which enveloped the balance of the island. This misty draping of the two highest mountains takes place almost every day, as the clouds are attracted by the constant moisture of the soil, due to the dense forests and luxuriant tropical vegetation.

The next sight of land brought into view the rugged mountains of Moorea and a group of small atoll islands. Moorea is in plain view from Papeete, and is the second largest of the Society Islands. Before we look at Tahiti at close range, let us examine the group of atoll islands which the steamer passes close enough to give us a good idea of their formation.


The atoll islands, so numerous in the South Seas, have a uniform conformation, and are of coral, deposited upon submerged summits of mountains of volcanic origin. The floor of the Pacific, like many other parts of the earth's surface, is undergoing constant changes, increasing or diminishing its level. Here and there, at certain intervals, volcanic eruptions have created mountains, which, in Hawaii, rise to nearly fourteen thousand and, in Tahiti, to over seven thousand feet. Around each of these innumerable islands and islets in the great Pacific Ocean the coral polyps have a fringing reef of rock. As these minute creatures can live only at a depth of twenty to thirty fathoms, and die as soon as exposed to the air, their life-work is confined to the coast of volcanic islands. Whenever, as it often happened, the island upon which they had congregated was slowly sinking, they would elevate their wall to save themselves from death in deep water. It is evident that if this process continued long enough, the land would entirely disappear and leave a submerged circular wall of coral just below the level of the low tide. The effects of the waves in breaking off the coral formation, large and small, in elevating them, would, in course of time, produce a ring of sandy beach, rising above the sea surrounding the central basin, filled with salt water entering through one or many open channels. Upon the beach, cocoanuts, washed ashore, would find a favorable soil for germination, and, ere long, stately palms would fringe the rim of the enclosed lagoon. Every atoll island has a peripheral fringe of cocoa-palms and a central lagoon which communicates with the ocean by one or more channels. Such an island is an atoll, the final stage in the disappearance of a volcanic islet from the surface of the sea. Such islands are numerous in the Society Islands, and the Paumotuan Archipelago consists exclusively of such atoll islands.



It is interesting to know how these minute coral polyps manage their work of island-building, or, rather, island-preservation. Coral formation is a calcareous secretion or deposit of many kinds of zoöphytes of the class Anthozoa, which assumes infinite and often beautiful forms, according to the different laws which govern the manner of germination of the polyps of various species. The coral-producing zoöphytes are compound animals, which multiply in the very swiftest manner, by germination or budding, young polyp buds springing from the original polyp, sometimes indifferently from any part of its surface, sometimes only from its upper circumference or from its base, and not separating from it, but remaining in the same spot when the original parent or polyp is dead, and producing buds in their turn. The reproductive capacity of these polyps is marvelous and explains the greatness of their work in building up whole islands and the countless submerged reefs so much dreaded by the mariners of the South Seas. The calcareous deposition begins when the zoöphytes are still simple polyps, owing their existence to oviparous reproduction, adhering to a rock or other substance, to which the calcareous material becomes attached, and on which the coral is built up, the hard deposits of past generations forming the base to which those of the progeny are attracted. The coral formation takes place with astonishing rapidity; under favorable circumstances, masses of coral have been found to increase in height several feet in a few months, and a channel cut in a reef surrounding a coral island, to permit the passage of a schooner, has been blocked with coral in ten years. Coral formations have been found immediately attached to the land, whilst in many other cases the reef surrounds the island, the intervening space, of irregular, but nowhere of great width, forming a lagoon or channel of deep water, protected by the reef from wind and waves. According to Darwin, this kind of reef is formed from a reef of the former merely fringing kind, by the gradual subsidence of the rocky basis, carrying down the fringe of coral to a greater depth; whilst the greatest activity of life is displayed by polyps of the kind most productive of large masses of coral in the outer parts which are most exposed to the waves. In this manner he also accounts for the formation of true coral islands, or atolls, which consist merely of a narrow reef of coral surrounding a central lagoon, and very often of a reef, perhaps half a mile in breadth, clothed with luxuriant vegetation and the never-absent cocoa-palms, bordered by a narrow beach of snowy whiteness, and forming an arc, the convexity of which is toward the prevailing wind, whilst a straight line of reef not generally rising above the reach of the tide, forms the chord of the arc. The reef is generally intersected by a narrow channel into the enclosed lagoon, the waters of which are still and beautifully transparent, teeming with the greatest variety of fish. Its surface is enlivened by water-fowl, and the depth of water close to the precipitous sides of the reef is almost always very great. The channels are kept open by the flux and reflux of the tide, the current and waves of which are often so swift and high as to become a menace to schooners attempting entrance into the lagoon. On the beach, soil most conducive to the growth of cocoanut-palms is formed by accumulation of sand, shells, fragments of coral, seaweeds, decayed leaves, etc. The giant cocoanuts planted in this soil either by the hand of man or by the waves washing them ashore, germinate quickly, and in a few years the narrow circular strip of land enclosing the lagoon is fringed with colonnades of tall fruit-bearing palms. These islands rise nowhere more than a few feet above the level of the sea. Sometimes the upheaval of coral formation by volcanic action results in the making of a real island, in which event the lagoon disappears. Islands with such an origin sometimes rise to a height of five hundred feet and often exhibit precipitous cliffs and contain extensive caves. I had read a description of the Paumotu atoll islands by Stevenson, and consequently I was much interested in the little group of atolls we passed before coming into full view of Tahiti. As these islands, like all true atolls, are only a few feet above the level of the sea, they can not be seen from the sea at anything like a great distance. When they were pointed out to us by an officer of the steamer, we could see no land; they appeared like oases in the desert, green patches in the ocean, due to the cocoapalms which guarded their shores. As we came nearer, we could make out the rim of land and the snow-white coral beach. The smallest of these atoll islands are not inhabited, but regular visits are made to them in a small schooner or native double canoe to harvest and bring to market the never-failing crops of cocoanuts.




As we left the atolls behind us and neared Tahiti, we could see more clearly the outlines of the rugged island, disrobed, by this time, of its vestments of clouds. From a distance, the carpet of green which extends from its base to near the summit of the highest peaks is varied here and there by patches of red volcanic earth, thus adding to the picturesqueness of the scene. What at first appears as a greensward on the shore, on nearer view discloses itself as a broad fringe of cocoa-palms, extending from the edge of the ocean to the foot of the mountains, and from there well up on their slopes, where they are lost in the primeval forest. Above the tree-line, low shrubs and hardy grasses compose the verdure up to the bare, brown mountain-peaks. The largest trees are seen in the mountains' deep ravines, which are cut out of the side of the heights by gushing of cold, clear waters, which drain the very heart of the mountains, bounding and leaping over boulders and rapids in their race to a resting-place in the near-by calm waters of the lagoon. As we came nearer to the island we were able to make out the white lighthouse on Point Venus, seven miles from Papeete. Here, Captain Cook, during one of his visits to the island, was stationed for a considerable length of time for the purpose of observing the transit of Venus; hence the name of the point.

Near the harbor, a native pilot came on board, and, by careful maneuvering, safely guided the ship through the very narrow channel in the reef into the harbor, with the tricolor flying from the top mast. From the harbor, the little city of Papeete and the island present an inspiring view. A charming islet on the left as we enter the harbor, looks like an emerald set in the blue water. It serves as a quarantine station, and the little snow-white buildings upon it appear like toy houses. The small city is spread out among cocoa-palms, ornamental and shade trees. The green of the foliage of these trees is continuous with the forest-clad mountains which form the background of the beautiful plateau on which the city is built. The harbor of Papeete is land and reef-locked, small, but deep enough to float the largest steamers plying in the Pacific Ocean. As the steamer came up slowly to the wharf, hundreds of people, a strange mixture of natives, half-castes, Europeans and Chinese, old and young, dressed in clothes of all imaginable colors, red being by far the most predominant, crowded the dock. Many of the children were naked, and not a few of the men and boys were unencumbered by clothing, with the exception of the typical, much checkered Tahitian cotton loin-cloth. A number of handsome carriages brought the élite of the city to take part in this most important of all monthly events.

They come to see; they come to be seen.


Custom-house officers, uniformed native policemen, government officials, French soldiers and merchants, mingled with the dusky natives and contributed much to the uniqueness of the landing-scene. The dense, motley crowd was anxious to see and be seen, but was orderly and well behaved. The custom-house officers were accommodating and courteous, and passed our hand-baggage without inspection. On the wharf was a small mountain of cocoanuts, in readiness to be loaded as a part of the return cargo of the Mariposa.


Papeete is the capital of Tahiti, the seat of government of the entire archipelago, and the principal commercial city of the French possessions in Oceanica. It is a typical city of the South Sea world, as it is viewed from the deck of the steamer and while walking or riding along its narrow, crooked streets. From the harbor, little can be seen of its buildings, except the spire of the cathedral and the low steeples of two Protestant churches, the low tower of the governor's palace, formerly the home of royalty, the military hospital, the wharf, and a few business houses loosely scattered along the principal street, the Quai du Commerce that skirts the harbor. The residence part of the city is hidden behind towering cocoa-palms and magnificent shade-trees among which the flamboyant (burau) trees are the most beautiful. It is situated on a low plateau with a background of forest-clad mountains, the beautiful little harbor, the spray-covered coral reef, the vast ocean and the picturesque outlines of Moorea in front of it.



Papeete has no sidewalks. The streets are narrow, irregularly laid out, and none of them paved. Most of the houses are one-story frame buildings, covered with corrugated iron roofs. There are only two or three large stores; the remaining business-places are small shops, many of them owned and managed by Chinamen. The present population, made up of natives of all tints, from a light chocolate to nearly white, six to eight hundred whites and about three hundred Chinese, numbers in the neighborhood of five thousand, nearly half of the population of the entire island. There are about five hundred Chinese in the island, who, by their industry and knowledge of business methods, have become formidable competitors of the merchants from other foreign countries. Their small shops and coffee-houses in Papeete and the country districts are well patronized by the natives.

Papeete is the commercial center of Oceanica. There are no department stores there. Business is specialized more there than perhaps in any other city. All of the shops, even the largest, look small in the eyes of Americans. There are dry goods stores, grocery stores, millinery shops, two small frame hotels, the Hotel Francais and another smaller one, both on the Quai, a few boarding-houses, two saloons, and no bank. The scarcity of saloons can be explained by the fact that the natives are temperate in their habits. According to a law enforced by the government, the native women are prohibited from frequenting such places.

The public wash-basin, supplied with running fresh water from a mountain stream, is a sight worth seeing. From a dozen to twenty native women, and a few soldiers, may be found here almost any time of the day, paddling knee-deep in the water, using stones in place of washboards in performing their arduous work. This primitive way of washing gives excellent results, judging from the snow-white, spotless linen garments worn by the Europeans and well-to-do natives.

The little plaza or square in the center of the city is used as a market-place where natives congregate at five o'clock in the morning, to make their modest purchases of fish, plantain, pineapple, melon or preserved shrimp done up in joints of bamboo. This is the place to learn what the islanders produce, sell and buy.

The public buildings are well adapted for a tropic climate. The most important of these is the palace of the last of the Tahitian kings, now used as the office of the government. It is a handsome white building, surrounded by ample grounds well laid out, and beautified by trees, shrubs and flowers. The government schoolhouse is an enormous frame building, resting upon posts, several feet from the ground, with more than one-half of its walls taken up by arched windows, the best lighted and most thoroughly ventilated building in the city, an ideal schoolhouse for the tropics. Among the churches of different denominations, the Catholic cathedral is the largest and best, although in the States it would not be considered an ornament for a small country village.

The city is well supplied with pure water from a mountain stream, but lacks a system of sewerage. The gardens and grounds of the best residences of the foreigners present an exquisite display of flowers that flourish best in the tropic soil, under the invigorating rays of the tropic sun, and the soothing effects of the frequent showers of rain, which are not limited to any particular season of the year.

Papeete, like all cities in the equatorial region, is a city of supreme idleness and freedom from care. The citizens can not comprehend that "The great principle of human satisfaction is engagement" (Paley). This idleness is inherent in the natives, and under the climatic conditions, and I suppose to a certain extent by suggestion, is soon acquired by the foreigners. Contentment and absence of anxiety characterize the life of the Tahitian. He has no desire to accumulate wealth; he is satisfied with little. He is "shut up in measureless content" (Shakespeare); he is inspired with the good idea that "he that maketh haste to be rich, shall not be innocent" (Proverb xxviii: 20). The merchants open their shops at sunrise, lock the doors at ten, retire to their homes for breakfast, take their two-hour siesta, return to their business, suspend work at five, and the remainder of the day and the entire evening are devoted to rest, social visits and divers amusements. The social center of the foreigners is the Cercle Bougainville, a small frame building which serves the purpose of a club house. Bicycling is a favorite means of travel and sport for the Europeans as well as the natives of all classes. This vehicle has found its way not only into the capital city but also into the country districts throughout the island. The splendid macadamized road which encircles the island furnishes a great inducement for this sport. Two of the wealthiest citizens travel the principal streets in the city and the ninety-mile drive in the most modern fashion by riding an automobile.

There are few if any door locks in private residences, hotels and boarding-houses, the best possible proof that the inhabitants are law-abiding citizens. In the boarding-house in which I lived, the main entrance was left wide open during the night, and none of the door locks was supplied with a key. The native women wear Mother Hubbard gowns of bright calico; the better class of men dress in European fashion, while the laborers and men from the country districts wear a pareu (loin-cloth) of bright calico, with or without an undershirt. The average Tahitian does not believe in:

We are captivated by dress.





Into the silent land!

Ah, who shall lead us thither?


There is no spot on earth more free from care, worry and unrest than the island of Tahiti. The abundance with which nature here has provided for the wants of man, the uniform soothing climate, the calmness of the Pacific Ocean, the pleasing scenery quiet the nerves, induce sleep and reduce to a minimum the efforts of man in the struggle for life. It is the island of peace, contentment and rest, a paradise on earth.

No writer has ever done justice to the natural beauties of this gem of the South Seas. The towering mountains, the tropical forests, the numerous rippling streams of crystal water, shaded dark ravines, the palm-fringed shore, the lagoons with their quiet, peaceful, clear waters painted in most exquisite colors of all shades of green, blue and salmon by the magic influence of the tropical sun, their outside wall of coral reef ceaselessly kissed by the caressing, foaming, moaning surf, the near-by picturesque island of Moorea, with its precipitous mountains rising from the deep bed of the sea, the flat basin-like, palm-fringed atolls in the distance, and the vast ocean beyond, make up a combination of pictures of which the mind never tires, and which engrave themselves indelibly on the tablet of memory.

Tahiti is a typical mountain island, protected against the aggressive ocean by a coral reef which forms almost a complete wall around it, enclosing lagoons of much beauty, which teem with a great variety of fish. It is thirty-five miles in length, and on an average twelve miles in breadth. It is shaped somewhat in the form of an hourglass, the narrow part at Isthmus Terrawow. The circuit of the island by following the coast is less than one hundred and twenty miles. The ninety-mile drive which engirdles the island cuts off some of the irregular projections into the sea. The interior is very mountainous and cut into ravines so deep that it has never been inhabited to any extent. The highest peaks are Orohena and Aorii, from seven to eight thousand feet in height, the former cleft into two points of rock which are often draped with dark masses of tropic clouds. Numerous other peaks of lesser magnitude are crowded together in the center of the island, their broad foundations encroaching upon the plain. The people live on the narrow strip of low land at the base of the mountains and running down to the shore, where the soil is exceedingly fertile and always well watered by numerous rivers, brooks and rivulets. Numberless cascades can be seen from the ninety-mile drive, leaping over cliffs and appearing like silver threads in the dark green of the mountain-sides. The strip of arable land at the base of the mountains varies in width from the bare precipitous cliffs, without even a beach, to one, or perhaps in the widest places, two miles. The larger streams have cut out a few broader valleys. It is this narrow strip of land which is inhabited, the little villages being usually located near the mouth of a river on the coast-line, insuring for the inhabitants a pure water-supply and facilities for fresh-water bathing, a frequent and pleasant pastime for the natives of both sexes and all ages.

Wherever there is sufficient depth of soil, vegetation is rampant. The fertility of the soil and the stimulating effect of constant moisture on vegetable life are best seen by the vitality exhibited by the fence-posts. I have seen fence-posts a foot and more in circumference, after being implanted in the soil, strike root, sprout and develop into trees of no small size. The mountains, and more especially the ravines, are heavily timbered. There is no place on earth where the scenery is more beautiful and sublime than at many points along the ninety-mile drive. The lofty mountains, the fertile plain, the many rivers, brooks, rivulets and glimpses of foaming cascades, lagoons, of the surf beating the coral reef in the distance, the limitless ocean beyond, the luxuriant rampant vegetation, the beautiful flowers, the majestic palm-trees, the quaint villages and their interesting inhabitants, form a picture which is beautiful, and, at the same time, sublime. As a whole it is sublime; in detail, beautiful.

Beauty charms, sublimity awes us, and is often accompanied with a feeling resembling fear; while beauty rather attracts and draws us towards it.


Let us see how Captain Cook was impressed with Tahiti when he first cast his eyes upon this gem of the Pacific:

Perhaps there is scarcely a spot in the universe that affords a more luxuriant prospect than the southeast part of Otaheite [Tahiti.] The hills are high and steep, and, in many places, craggy. But they are covered to the very summits with trees and shrubs, in such a manner that the spectator can scarcely help thinking that the very rocks possess the property of producing and supporting their verdant clothing. The flat land which bounds those hills toward the sea, and the interjacent valleys also, teem with various productions that grow with the most exuberant vigour; and, at once, fill the mind of the beholder with the idea that no place upon earth can outdo this, in the strength and beauty of vegetation. Nature has been no less liberal in distributing rivulets, which are found in every valley, and as they approach the sea, often divide into two or three branches, fertilizing the flat lands through which they run.

Tahiti is the same to-day as when Captain Cook visited it for the first time. The only decided changes which have taken place since are the building up of the capital city Papeete, and the construction of the ninety-mile drive. The beauty of the island has been maintained because the natives have preserved the magnificent primeval forests. Strip Tahiti of its forests and it will be made a desert in a few years. Nature relies on the forests to attract the clouds which bring the moisture, and assist in the formation and preservation of the soil. Remove the trees, and drouth and floods will destroy vegetation, and the latter will wash the existing soil into the hungry abyss of the ocean. Fertile and beautiful as Captain Cook found Tahiti, he deprecated the idea of settling it with whites.

Our occasional visits may, in some respects, have benefited its inhabitants; but a permanent establishment amongst them, conducted as most European establishments amongst Indian nations have unfortunately been, would, I fear, give them just cause to lament that our ships had ever found them out. Indeed, it is very unlikely that any measure of this kind should ever be seriously thought of, as it can neither serve the purposes of public ambition, nor of private avarice; and, without such inducements, I may pronounce, that it will never be undertaken.

The island has been invaded and taken by the whites and the results to the natives have been in many respects disastrous, which goes to prove the correctness of Captain Cook's prophecy.


THE ROYAL PALACE (Now the headquarters of the Governor).


The climate of Tahiti, although tropical, is favorably influenced by the trade-winds and frequent showers. The breezes from ocean and land keep the heated atmosphere in motion, and the frequent rains throughout the year have a direct effect in lowering the temperature. The entire island from the shore to the highest mountain-peaks, is covered by forests and a vigorous vegetation. These retain the moisture and attract the pregnant clouds, securing, throughout the year, a sufficient rainfall to feed the many mountain streams and water the rich soil of the mountain-sides, valleys, ravines and lowlands along the coast. The temperature seldom exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and during the coldest months, March and April, it occasionally falls as low as 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The atmosphere is charged with humidity, and when this condition reaches the maximum degree, the heat is oppressive, more especially when there is no land or ocean breeze. If a hotel could be built at an elevation of three to four thousand feet above the level of the sea, the guests would find a climate which could not be surpassed in any other part of the world. A prolonged residence in Papeete or any other part of the island near the sea-level is debilitating for the whites. Those of the white inhabitants who can afford it, leave the island every three or five years and seek recuperation and a renewal of energy in a cooler climate, usually in California or Europe. Papeete, partially enclosed by mountains, and only a few feet above the level of the sea, and on the leeward side of the island, is said to be one of the warmest places in the island. The village of Papara gets the full benefit of the trade-winds and the land-breeze, and is one of the coolest spots in Tahiti. Tahiti's summer-time is our winter. I was fortunate in visiting the island during the latter part of January. It is the time when Nature makes a special effort here to produce the luxuriant vegetation after the drenching rains of December. It is the time when the evergreen trees cast off, here and there, a faded leaf, to be replaced by a new one from the vigorous unfolding buds. It is the season of flowers and the greatest variety of fruits. It may interest the reader to know that one day seven different kinds of fruits were served at the breakfast-table, a luxury out of reach of our millionaires at their homes in the North at that time of the year. For a winter vacation, the months of January and February offer the greatest inducements. Those who are in need of an ideal mental rest, and are fond of a long ocean voyage, and enjoy tropic scenery and the marvelous products of the fertile soil of the tropics, should not fail to visit Tahiti, the little paradise in the midst of the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.


History is the witness of the times, the torch of truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life, the messenger of antiquity.


It was my privilege during my brief stay in Tahiti to meet Tati Salmon, chief of the Papara district. He is a direct descendant of one of the two noble families of the island, the Tevas, and one of the most prominent and influential citizens of the island. I asked him to what race the Tahitians belonged. To this question he had a ready reply. He said: "We belong to no race; man was created here; this is the lost Garden of Eden." There is much force, if not truth, in this assertion when we take into consideration the charming beauty of the island and the bounteous provisions which Nature has made here for the existence of man. Then, too, the Tahitian is a good specimen of manhood, intellectually and physically, far superior to the Negro race and the Mongolian. Ariitaimai (Arii Taimai E), the mother of the chief just referred to and the authoress of the book mentioned in the preface, believes that the Tahitians belong to the great Aryan race, the race of Arii, and that their chiefs were Arii, not kings, and the head chiefs, Ariirahi—Great Chiefs. It was only the latter who were entitled to wear the girdle of red feathers, as much the symbol of their preeminence as the crown and sceptre of European royalty. The Tahitians are Polynesians, like the inhabitants of most of the South Seas and of Hawaii, and there can be but little doubt that the Polynesians belong to the Malay race, having migrated from island to island, from west to east, by way of Java, Samoa and the Hawaiian Islands. As these voyages had to be made by means of frail canoes, we can readily conceive the hardships endured by the bold navigators of centuries ago. A story current in Tahiti relates that it was thus that the great chief Olopaua of Hawaii, driven from home by disastrous floods, bore his wife Lu'ukia in the twelfth century, to find a new dwelling place in Tahiti, twenty-three hundred miles away. It is said that the chiefess was a poetess, a dancer famed for grace, and the inventor of a style of dress which is still made by the Hawaiians. Many of the primitive peoples trace their origin to a legend which is handed down from generation to generation.

In all ages of the world there is nothing with which mankind hath been so much delighted as with those little fictitious stories which go under the name of fables or apologues among the ancient heathens, and of parables in the sacred writings.


The Tevas of Tahiti have their legend and it is related by Ariitaimai, as it has been told for many generations. They take pride in the story that they are the direct descendants from the Shark God. The legend tells how many centuries ago a chief of Punaauia, by the name of Te manutu-ruu, married a chiefess of Vaiari, named Hototu, and had a son, Terii te moanarau. At the birth of the child, the father set out in his canoe for the Paumotu Islands to obtain red feathers (Ura) to make the royal belt for the young prince. The legend begins by assuming that Vaiari was the oldest family, with its Maraes, and that Punaauia was later in seniority and rank. While Te manutu-ruu was absent on his long voyage to the Paumotus, a visitor appeared at Vaiari, and was entertained by the chiefess. This visitor was the first ancestor of the Tevas. He was only half human, the other half fish, or Shark God; and he swam from the ocean, through the reef, into the Vaihiria River, where he came ashore, and introduced himself as Vari mataauhoe, and, after having partaken of the hospitalities of the chiefess, took up his residence with her. But after their intimacy had lasted some time, one day, when they were together, Hototu's dog came into the house and showed his affection for his mistress by licking her face, or, as we should say now, kissed her, although in those days this mark of affection was unknown, as the Polynesians instead only touched noses as an affectionate greeting. At this the man-shark was so displeased that he abandoned the chiefess. He walked into the river, turned fish again and swam out to sea. On his way he met the canoe of the Chief Te manutu-ruu returning from the Paumotus, and stopped to speak to him. The chief invited Vari mataauhoe to return with him, but the man-shark declined, giving as his reason that the chiefess was too fond of dogs.



The legend proves that the natives regarded Vaiari as the source of their aristocracy. Papara makes the same claim, for when Vari mataauhoe left Hototu he said to her: "You will bear me a child; if a girl, she will belong to you and take your name; but if a boy, you are to call him Teva; rain and wind will accompany his birth, and to whatever spot he goes, rain and wind will always foretell his coming. He is of the race of Ariirahi, and you are to build him a Marae which you are to call Matava (the two eyes of Tahiti), and there he is to wear the Marotea, and he must be known as the child of Ahurei (the wind that blows from Taiarapu)." A boy was born, and, as foretold, in rain and wind. The name of Teva was given to him; and Matoa was built; and there Teva ruled. From this boy came the name Teva; but when and how it was applied to the clan no one knows. The members of the tribe or clan believe it must have been given by the Arii of Papara or Vaiari. To this day, the Tevas seldom travel without rain and wind, so that they use the word Teva rarivari—Teva wet always and everywhere. The Vaiari people still point out the place where the first ancestor of the clan lived as a child, his first bathing place, and the different waters in which he fished as he came on his way toward Papara. This legend is to-day as fresh in the district of Papara as it was centuries ago. It is but natural that the Tevas, one of the two most influential and powerful of the tribes of Tahiti, should be anxious to trace their ancestry to a royal origin even if the first ancestor should be a man-shark, little remembering that

It is not wealth nor ancestry, but honorable conduct and a noble disposition that make men great.


As the Tahitians had no written language before the missionaries visited the island, little is known of its earlier history. The history of the island since its discovery has been accurately written up by Ariitaimai, an eye-witness of many of the most stirring events and on that account most to be relied upon, for

The only good histories are those that have been written by the persons themselves who commanded in the affairs whereof they write.


Let us follow her account of the history of the island since its discovery by Captain Samuel Wallis, June 18, 1767. The captain made a voyage around the world in Her Majesty's ship Dolphin, and on his way found the island, and called it Otaheite. At that time, Amo was head chief of Papara and of the Tevas, or rather his son Teriirere, born about 1762, was head chief, and Amo exercised power as his guardian, according to native custom, which made the eldest child immediately on birth, the head of the family. At that time the power of calling the Tevas to conference or war was peculiar to the Papara head chief; the military strength of the Tevas was unconquerable, if it could be united; but perhaps the most decisive part of every head chief's influence was his family connection. Nowhere in the world was marriage a matter of more political and social consequence than in Tahiti. Women occupied an important position in society and political affairs. The chiefesses held the reins of government with as much firmness as the chiefs, and commanded the same influence and respect. She was as independent of her husband as of any other chief; she had her seat or throne, in the Marae even to the exclusion of her husband; and if she were ambitious she might win or lose crowns for her children as happened with Captain Wallis' friend Oberea, the great-aunt of Ariitaimai Purea, and with her niece, Tetuauni reiaiteatea, the mother of the first King Pomare. At the time of Wallis' and Cook's visits, Papara was the principal city in Tahiti, and Papeete, the present capital city of the French possessions in Oceanica, a mere village. The Papara head chief was never the head chief of the whole island, but his power and influence were predominant throughout the whole island. The kingship which Europeans insisted on conferring on him, or on any other head chief who happened for the time to rival him, was never accepted by the natives until forced upon them by foreign influence and arms. From this it will be seen that before European influence made itself felt, the Tahitians were divided into tribes ruled by so many chiefs, with a head chief whose influence extended over the entire island. The form of native government was very simple and had many very commendable features. Wars between the tribes and between Tahiti and the neighboring island, Moorea, were, however, of frequent occurrence.



All exact knowledge concerning dates in the history of the island begins with June 24, 1767, when Wallis warped his ship into the bay of Matavai, the most northerly point of the island. The appearance of the foreigners, the first time the natives had ever seen a white man and such a great ship, created consternation. Excitement ran high on the landing of the crew. The natives attacked them, but their rude implements of warfare could not cope with firearms, and they were defeated. Two days later, June 26th, the battle was renewed and again terminated in the defeat of the natives, promptly followed by sudden friendship for their first European visitors. The natives, extremely superstitious, were at first suspicious, and it required some time to establish free relations between them and the commander and crew of the Dolphin. Strangely enough, the first native to board the ship was a woman. The incident is related by Wallis himself:

On Saturday, the 11th, in the afternoon, the gunner came on board with a tall woman, who seemed to be about five and forty years of age, of a pleasing countenance and majestic deportment. He told me that she was but just come into that part of the country, and that seeing great respect paid her by the rest of the natives, he had made her some presents; in return for which she had invited him to her home, which was about two miles up the valley, and given him some large hogs; after which she returned with him to the watering-place and expressed a desire to go on board the ship, in which wish he had thought it proper, on all accounts, that she should be gratified. She seemed to be under no restraint, either from diffidence or fear, when she came into the ship, and she behaved all the while she was on board with an easy freedom that always distinguishes conscious superiority and habitual command. I gave her a large blue mantle that reached from her shoulders to her feet, which I drew over her, and tied on with ribbons; I gave her also a looking-glass, beads of several sorts, and many other things, which she accepted with good grace and much pleasure. She took notice that I had been ill, and pointed to the shore. I understood that she meant I should go thither to perfect my recovery, and I made signs that I would go thither the next morning. When she intimated an inclination to return, I ordered the gunner to go with her, who, having set her on shore, attended her to her habitation, which he described as being very large and well built. He said that in this house she had many guards and domestics, and that she had another at a little distance which was enclosed in lattice work.

This visit opened the island to the Englishmen. Wallis repeatedly refers to his first visitor as "my princess, or rather queen." When he came on shore the next day he was met by the princess, who ordered that he and the first lieutenant and purser, who were also ill, should be carried by the people to her home, where they were treated in a most hospitable manner. Here is a beautiful instance of natural hospitality, charity and gratitude combined; a kindly deed dictated by unselfish motives, an exhibition of virtues so rarely met with in the common walks of life.

Hospitality to the better sort and charity to the poor; two virtues that are never exercised so well as when they accompany each other.


The princess had full control over the curious, motley crowd, which gave way to the strangers by a sign of her hand. The house proved to be the Fare-hau, or Council-house, of Haapape, and the princess, as Wallis called her, who did not belong to Haapape, but to quite another part of the island, was herself a guest whose presence there was due to her relationship with the chief.

Wallis left the Island July 27th. His "queen" and her attendants came on board and bade him and his crew a most affectionate farewell. Neither Wallis, nor Bougainville, who visited Tahiti in April, 1768, eight months later, ever learned what her true rank was, or from what part of the island she came. According to Ariitaimai, she was her great-great-grandaunt Purea, or rather, the wife of her great-great-granduncle.

Bougainville named the island New Cytherea, and Commerson, the naturalist, charmed by its beauty and astonished at its resources, called it Utopia. The latter gave the following romantic description of the island and its people in a letter published in the Mercure de France:

Je puis vous dire que c'est le seul coin de la terre ou habitent des hommes sans vices, sans préjugés, sans besoins, sans dissensions. Nés sous le plus beau ciel, nourris des fruits d'une terre féconde sans culture, régis par des pères de famille plutôt que par des rois, ils ne connaissent d'autre dieu que l'Amour. Tous les jours lai sont consacrés, toute l'isle son temple, toutes les femmes—me demandez-vous? Les rivales des Geôrgiennes en beauté et les sœurs des grâces toutes unes.

Such was the simple, innocent, happy island life when Tahiti was discovered by the white man, whose pretended object was to bring to the natives the benefits of modern civilization. As to the immediate effects of European civilization on the morals of the natives, Ariitaimai has the following to say in reply to the alleged laxity of Tahitian morals:

No one knows how much of the laxity of morals was due to the French and English themselves, whose appearance certainly caused a sudden and shocking overthrow of such moral rules as had existed before in the island society: and the "supposed" means that when the island society as a whole is taken into account. Marriage was real as far as it went, and the standard rather higher than that of Paris; in some ways extremely lax, and in others strict and stern to a degree that would have astonished even the most conventional English nobleman, had he understood it

The third European to visit Tahiti was that intrepid explorer, Captain Cook, who entered Matavai Bay on the 13th of April, 1769, in Her Majesty's bark, the Endeavor, on his first voyage around the world. He met chief Tootahah, under whose protection he settled on Point Venus. He was accompanied by a staff of scientists, among them Joseph Banks and Dr. Solander, a Swedish naturalist. Captain Wallis' "queen" was again on the shore to meet the strangers. Captain Cook gives a detailed account of her visit:

She first went to Mr. Banks' tent at the fort, where she was not known, till the master, who knew her, happening to go ashore, brought her on board with two men and several women, who seemed to be all of her family. I made them all some presents or other, but to Obariea (for that was the woman's name) I gave several things, in return for which, as soon as I went on shore with her, she gave me a hog and several bunches of plantains. These she caused to be carried from her canoes up to the fort in a kind of procession, she and I bringing up the rear. This woman is about forty years of age, and, like most of the other women, very masculine. She is head or chief of her own family or tribe, but to all appearance hath no authority over the rest of the inhabitants, whatever she might have when the Dolphin was here.


Cook ascertained at this time, that Obariea was the wife of the most influential chief of the island, Oamo, but did not live with him. She had two children, a daughter eighteen years old, and a boy of seven, the heir to the throne. He says in his Journal:

The young boy above mentioned is son to Oamo and Obariea, but Oamo and Obariea do not at this time live together as man and wife, he not being able to endure with her troublesome disposition. I mention this because it shows that separation in the marriage state is not unknown to these people.

When Cook made his second visit to the island, in 1774, he learned that Oamo and Obariea, or, as they are called in the genealogy of the Tevas, Amo and Purea, had been driven from Papara into the mountains. Vehiatu, the victor, made Amo resign, and the regency of that part of the island was entrusted to Tootuhah, the youngest brother of the deposed chief.


The Pomare family are descendants of chiefs called Tu of Faaraoa, one of the atoll islands of the Paumotu Archipelago, some two hundred and fifty miles northeast of Tahiti. The exact date of the first Tu's arrival in Tahiti is unknown. Even the generation can not be fixed. The Pomares were always ashamed of their Paumotu descent, which they regarded as a flaw in their heraldry, and which was a reproach to them in the eyes of the Tahitians, for all Tahitians regarded the Paumotus as savage, and socially inferior. The first Tu who came to visit the distant land of Tahiti, came in by the Taunoa opening, which is the eastern channel, into what is now the harbor of Papeete. Landing at Taunoa a stranger, he was invited to be the guest of Manaihiti, who seems to have been a chief of Pare. He was adopted by the chief as his brother, and at the death of the chief, he became heir and successor in the chief's line. He married into the Arue family, which gave his son a claim to the joint chiefdom of Pare Arue; and at last his grandson, or some later generation, obtained in marriage no less a personage than Tetuaehuri, daughter of Taiarapu. One of the members of this family, Teu (born 1720, died 1802) made new and important advances in the social and political circles of Tahiti by marriage, and became the father of Pomare I. (1743-1803), the first king of Tahiti. Teu seems to have been a very clever and cautious man. He never assumed to be a great chief or to wear the belt of feathers. He was more jealous of his son than of Amo or his son Teriirere. His son, Tu, was born about 1743. Related by birth with two of the most influential families, he strengthened his native ties by marrying Tetuanui-rea-i-te-rai, of the adjoining independent chiefdom of Tefauai Ahurai, who was not only a niece of Purea, but quite as ambitious and energetic as Purea herself. The English, who could not conceive that the Tahitians should be able to exist without some pretense of royalty, gave Tu the rank and title of king, notwithstanding that he was only one, and at that not the most influential of several Arii rahi. To the great dissatisfaction of the other chiefs, Tu received the lion's share of presents from Captain Cook. At this action, the Ahurai and Attahura people were enraged, and Cook was quite unable to understand that they had reason to complain. To them, Cook's partiality for Tu must have seemed a deliberate insult. When Cook returned on his third voyage, in 1777, several Tahitian tribes were in a state of war with Moorea, in which Tu took no active part. Cook then deliberately intervened in the support of the plan he had adopted of elevating Tu at the expense of the other chiefs. In his estimation, Tu was king by divine right, and any attack on his authority was treason in the first place, and an attack on British influence in the next. British influence and British threats made a radical change in the government of Tahiti, in opposition to the expressed wish of the great majority of the people. England wanted to control the political affairs of the island for commercial gain, and to extend her sovereignty in the South Seas, which only confirms that

All government—indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act—is founded on compromise and barter.



PRINCE HINOI Son of the last King of Tahiti, Pomare V.

After Cook's departure, nearly eleven years elapsed before another European ship called at Tahiti, and, during this time, Pomare paid dearly for the distinctions forced upon him by the foreigners. When Lieutenant Bligh arrived in the Bounty, in 1788, Tu told him that after five years from the time of Cook's last departure, the people of the island Moorea (Eirrieo) joined with those of Attahura and made an attack on his district, and many of his subjects were killed, while he had himself fled, with the survivors, to the mountains. All the houses and property had been destroyed or carried away by the enemy. Bligh landed at Matavai in the Bounty October 26, 1788. He came for a supply of breadfruit, which was to be introduced and domesticated in the various tropical colonies of Great Britain, and indirectly to advance the interests and power of Tu, who had nearly lost his influence over the natives. His position was so desperate that he begged the lieutenant to take him and his wife, Tetua, to England. He had a son, at this time six years old, who became the first Christian king of Tahiti. Before leaving the island, April 3, 1789, Bligh did what he could to strengthen Tu's position, and supplied him with firearms. For this act he gave the following explanation:

He (Tu) had frequently expressed a wish that I would leave some firearms and ammunition with him, as he expected to be attacked after the ship sailed, and perhaps chiefly on account of our partiality to him. I therefore thought it but reasonable to accede to his request. I was the more readily prevailed on, as he said his intentions were to act only on the defensive. This, indeed, seems most suited to his disposition, which is neither active nor enterprising. When I proposed to leave with him a pair of pistols, which they prefer to muskets, they told me that his wife, Tetua, would fight with one and Oedidee with the other. Tetua has learned to load and fire a musket with great dexterity, and Oedidee is an excellent marksman. It is not common for women in this country to go to war, but Tetua is a very resolute woman, of a large make, and has great bodily strength.

History shows that Tetua was not the only fighting woman in Tahiti, as at different times, in tribal wars, it was not uncommon for women to take an active part, and in more than one instance the leading part.

On great occasions it is almost always women who have given the strongest proofs of virtue and devotion; the reason is, that with men, good and bad qualities are in general the result of calculation, whilst in women they are impulses, springing from the heart.


Lieutenant Bligh left the island April 4th. As he was passing the Friendly, or Tonga group, April 28th, the larger part of his officers and men mutinied and set him and some eighteen others adrift in the ship's launch. The mutineers then put the ship about and returned to Tahiti, where they arrived at Matavai Bay, June 6, 1789. There they took in all the live-stock they could obtain, and twenty-four Tahitians, and sailed again June 16th for Tubuai, but appeared once more, September 22nd, and landed sixteen of the mutineers, who were tired of their adventures. The rest sailed suddenly the next night, and vanished from the sight of men for twenty years. The sixteen mutineers who remained scattered more or less over the island, but made Pare their headquarters and Tu their patron. Here they set to work, November 12, 1789, to build a thirty-foot schooner, with which to make their escape. The effect of the example of these ruffians and criminals on the morals of the simple, receptive Tahitians can be readily imagined. These men, who had enjoyed the confidence of their commander and the advantages and pleasures of a trip to foreign strange countries, proved ungrateful, and "the earth produces nothing worse than an ungrateful man" (Ansonius). The schooner was launched August 5, 1790. The war which immediately followed, and which reestablished Tu in his power for the time, deserves to be called the War of the Mutineers of the Bounty. When Tu died, thirteen years later, the missionaries in their Journal recorded many details about his life and character, and among other things, they said:

He was born in the district of Oparre, where his corpse now is, and was by birth chief of that district, and none other. The notice of the English navigators laid the foundation for his future aggrandizement; and the runaway seamen that from time to time quitted their vessels to sojourn in the island (especially that of His Majesty's ship Bounty's crew, which resided here) were the instruments for gaining to Pomarre a greater extent of dominion and power than any other man had before in Otaheite.

It is very evident that the first Pomare was a man without firmness and that what influence he exercised was due to the energies and ambition of his wife and to foreign support. When Lieutenant Bligh reached home and reported the mutiny, the British government sent the frigate Pandora in search of the Bounty and the deserted crew. The Pandora never found the Bounty, which long since had been burned by the mutineers at Pitcairn Island; but she did find such of the mutineers as had returned to Tahiti, and who were actively engaged in establishing Tu as a Tahitian despot, when the Pandora, in March, 1791, appeared in Matavai Bay. The mutineers, it seems, unable to keep at sea in the rickety schooner, landed at Papara, March 26th, and took refuge in the mountains. Captain Edwards, of the Pandora, immediately sent two boats, with a number of men, to Papara. Through the friendly office of the chiefs and natives, the mutineers were finally captured, one by one, until only six remained out, and these were at last found near the seashore, where they were captured after many fruitless attempts. The Pandora sailed from Tahiti with her prisoners in May, 1791, and in December following, Vancouver arrived in the sloop of war Discovery, on a search for a northwest passage to the Orient, stopping for supplies at Tahiti, December 28th.



Vancouver, who had been with Cook in 1777, inquired for his old friends. He learned that the young king had taken the name of Otoo, and his old friend that of Pomare, having given up his name with his sovereign jurisdiction, though he still seemed to retain his authority as regent. This is the first record of the name Pomare, by which the family has since been known. After the birth of the young Tu, about 1782, the first of his children who was allowed to live, the father seems to have taken the name of Tuiah, or Tarino, which he bore in 1788. He took the name of Pomare (night cough) from his younger son, Terii nava horoo, a young child in 1791, who coughed at night. With the assistance of English guns, Pomare waged active war on neighboring chiefs, and the chief of Papara was the last one to succumb. By successive vigorous strokes, he finally gained control of the entire group of islands, including Borabora.


It is better that men should be governed by priestcraft than violence.


The early missionaries of Tahiti played an important role in the island politics. They did not limit their work to the conversion of the heathen islanders, but took an active part in political affairs, and many of their doings in that direction were not in accord with the teachings of the gospel. The first missionaries sent to Tahiti from England reached the island in the Duff, March, 1797. They received information of the island politics from two Swedish sailors, Andrew Lind, of the ship Matilda, which had been wrecked in the South Sea in 1792, and Peter Haggerstein, who deserted from the Daedalus in February, 1793. Both of these men were adventurers of the type that has infested the South Seas for more than a century. They became well-known characters in the history of the island, sometimes assisting the missionaries, and sometimes annoying them. In July, 1797, Peter accompanied one of the missionaries as a guide and interpreter, on a circuit round the island, to make a sort of census, as a starting-point for the missionary work. They began with Papenoo, July 11th, and as they walked, Peter boasted of his exploits. His stories were so much in conflict with facts that they rather misled than aided the missionaries in search of island affairs. Temarii, the chief of Papara, had visited the missionaries at Matavai. The missionaries gave the following account of him:

May 7, 1797, visited by the chief priest from Papara, Temarre. He was dressed in a wrapper of Otaheitian cloth, and over it an officer's coat doubled around him. At his first approach he appeared timid, and was invited in. He was just about seated when the cuckoo clock struck and filled him with astonishment and terror. Old Pyetea had brought the bird some breadfruit, observing it must be starved if we never fed it. At breakfast we invited Temarii to our repast, but he first held out his hand with a bit of plantain and looked very solemn, which, one of the natives said, was an offering to Eatooa (Tahitian divinity) and we must receive it. When we had taken it out of his hand and laid it under the table, he sat down and made a hearty breakfast. Brother Cover read the translated address to all these respected guests, the natives listening with attention, and particularly the priest, who seemed to drink in every word, but appeared displeased when urged to cast away their false gods, and on hearing the names of Jehovah and Jesus he would turn and whisper. Two days afterwards, Temarii came again to the mission house and this time with the young Otoo, Pomare H., and his first wife Tetuanui.

Here again is the account of the visit by the missionaries:

May 9th, Temarre accompanied the king and queen and staid to dine with us. He is, we find, of the royal race and son of the famed Oberea. He is the first chief of the island after Pomarre, by whom he has been subdued, and now lives in friendship with him and has adopted his son. He is also high in esteem as a priest.

In July of the same year the missionaries visited Temarii at Papara on their way around the island. They found the chief under the influence of Kava, but were feasted the next day on Temarii's feast pig. Not only was Temarii the most powerful chief of the island, but Pomare had become, by his son's accession, a chief of the second order. He depended greatly on the favor of his son, the young Tu, who was, in 1797, supposed to be at least fifteen and perhaps seventeen years of age, and who had been adopted by Temarii, his cousin, who was about ten years older than he. Adoption was rather stronger in the South Seas than the tie of natural parentage. Between his natural father, Pomare, and his adopted father, Temarii, the young Tu preferred the latter, and sooner or later every one knew that Temarii would help Tu to emancipate himself and drive Pomare from the island.



The Duff sailed for England August 14, 1797, leaving the missionaries to the mercies of rival factions, and they soon ascertained that Pomare and Tu were on anything but friendly terms. The missionaries had faith in Pomare, who chose one of them by the name of Cover as a brother. Temarii chose another by the name of Main. These two missionaries went to Papara August 15th, at the suggestion of the influential native priest, Manne Manne, to remonstrate against a human sacrifice which was to be made at the Marae Tooarai. On account of a murder recently committed, the missionaries found the chief and people greatly excited, and fled as quickly as possible.

In the month of March the missionaries found themselves in a critical condition when the ship Nautilus appeared and two of her crew deserted. The deserters went to Pare and were sheltered there. The captain of the Nautilus at once set to work to recover them. Four of the missionaries proceeded to Pare to see Tu, Pomare and Temarii and informed them that a refusal to return the men would be regarded as exhibiting an evil intention against the missionaries. They found Tu and Temarii at Pare, but went to get Pomare to join them, when they were suddenly attacked and stripped by some thirty natives, who took their clothes and treated them rather roughly, but at last released them. They went to Pomare's house and were kindly received. Pomare returned with them to Tu, and insisted on the punishment of the offenders and the delivery of the deserters. Two were executed, and the district of Pare took up arms to avenge them. Tu joined his father and suppressed the riot, so that the missionaries' clothes cost the natives fifteen lives before order was restored. This incident made the missionaries very unpopular and they had to depend more than ever on Pomare for protection.

On August 24th, two whaling vessels, the Cornwall and Sally, of London, anchored in Matavai Bay, and most of the principal chiefs went on board. On the 30th, while the missionaries were at dinner, Pomare came in great haste, and told them that a man had been blown up with gunpowder at the Council house in Pare, and requested them to hasten to the place and render assistance. When they arrived they found that the injured man was Temarii. Here is the account of the affair by the missionaries:

At our arrival we were led to the bed of Temaree called also Orepiah, and beheld such a spectacle as we had never before seen. Brother Broomhall began immediately to apply what he had prepared with a camel's-hair brush over most parts of the body. He was apparently more passive under the operation than we could conceive a man in his situation would be capable of. The night drawing on, we took leave of him by saying we would return next morning with a fresh preparation. On the following morning we were struck with much surprise at the appearance of the patient He was literally daubed with something like a thick white paste. Upon inquiry we found it to be the scrapings of yams. Both the chief and his wife seemed highly offended at Brother Broomhall's application the preceding evening, and they would not permit him to do anything more for him, as he had felt so much pain from what he had applied. It was said that there was a curse put into the medicine by our God.

It must be remembered that the Tahitian chiefs were also priests and not infrequently acted as physicians. The dissatisfaction of Temarii with the treatment of his case by the missionaries had therefore to be considered as a most unfortunate affair. Under these conditions the missionaries were apprehensive of increasing hostilities. The suspicion on part of the superstitious natives that the missionaries had been sent by Pomare to curse Temarii and cause his death was not only a natural but a reasonable one to the chief as well as his subjects. Pomare was quite capable of such conduct and as far as the natives knew, the missionaries were Pomare's friends and supporters. The accident which gave rise to this unfortunate occurrence was due to the English gunpowder and it was fortunate that the missionaries had nothing to do with furnishing it. The explosion occurred while Temarii was testing the quality of powder which he obtained from the whalers Cornwall and Sally.

A pistol was loaded and unthinkingly fired in the midst of a number of people, over the whole quantity (five pounds) of powder received. A spark of fire dropped from the pistol upon the powder that lay on the ground, and in a moment it blew up. The natives did not feel themselves hurt at first, but when the smoke was somewhat dispersed, observing their skin fouled with powder, they began to rub their arms, and found the skin peeling off under their fingers. Terrified at this, they instantly ran to a river near at hand and plunged themselves in.

Temarii lingered in great suffering till September 8th, but the missionaries did not dare to visit him again for fear of violence on the part of the indignant natives. The whole body of chiefs was present and looked on in consternation while Temarii died. The chief's remains were carried, in the usual state, round the island to all his districts and duly mourned; and in the regular course prescribed by the island ceremonial, his head was secretly hidden in the cave at Papara. These demonstrations served to spread the news of the calamity, for which the missionaries received the exclusive blame. The political complications which followed induced Pomare to seek safety in flight to the Paumotu Islands, leaving his wife to face the storm. The chiefess was not idle after her husband's cowardly flight. On the 29th of November she compromised with Tu by ceding to him the authority he wanted, and obtained from him a pledge assuring her safety. This guaranty was the life of the high priest, old Manne Manne, Tu's best friend. He was murdered by Tetuanui's people on his way from Matavai to Pare. The chiefess was in the missionaries' house when this news arrived. She had a cartridge-box around her waist and a musket near at hand. She shook hands in a friendly manner with the Swede, saying unto him, "It is all over," meaning the war, and immediately returned to her home. Pomare gained nothing by these dissensions, for he had nothing to gain, but had to sacrifice a part of his possessions. The only winner in this tragic game was the worst and most bloodthirsty of all, Tu, the first Christian king. It must be remarked that this king was the creation of the English, and that he was used as a tool in the hands of the missionaries. The Europeans came, and not only upset all the moral ideas of the natives, but also their whole political system. Before European influence made itself felt in Tahiti, whenever a chief became intolerably arrogant or dangerous, the other chiefs united to overthrow him. All the wars that are remembered in island traditions were caused by the overweening pride, violence or abnormal ambition of the great chiefs of districts, and always ended in correcting existing evils and in restoring the balance of power.

The English came just at the time when one of these revolutions was in progress. The whole island had united to punish the chiefess of Papara for outrageous disregard of the island courtesies which took the place of international law between great chiefs. Purea had taken away the symbol of sovereignty she had assumed for her son, and had given it for safe-keeping to the chief of Paea. The natives and chiefs had recognized the chief of Pare, Arue, as entitled to wear the Maro-ura, which Purea had denied him by insulting his wife. Then the chief of Paea had tried to imitate Purea and assert supreme authority, only to be in his turn defeated and killed.



Probably Tu would never have attempted a similar course if the English had not insisted on recognizing and treating him as king of the whole island. He was one of the weakest of the chiefs and enjoyed little if any reputation as a military power. The other chiefs would have easily kept him in his proper place if the English had not constantly supported him and restored him to power when he was vanquished. English interference and the assistance of the missionaries prolonged his ambition and caused the constant revolutions which gave no chance for the people to recover from the losses. Pomare was a shrewd politician and with the assistance of English guns finally gained control over the whole island, crushing tribal rule, the safeguard of the people under his despotic rule. All visitors to the island became aware how desperately the unfortunate people struggled against the English policy of creating and supporting a tyranny. The brutality and violence of Tu made him equally hated by his own people of Pare and by the Teva districts. Of these facts the missionaries had full knowledge, as is evident from their numerous correspondents, nevertheless, they assisted him in carrying out his plans to gain control over the entire island. They supplied him freely with firearms and ammunition. To preserve peace the missionaries did some very curious things which suggest, as they hinted, that they were glad to see the natives fighting together, as is evident from one of their daily records:

August 20, 1800.—We hear great preparations are making, whether for war or peace is to be determined in a short time, by some heathenish divination. If it should prove for war, those who are eager for blood seem determined to glut themselves, we rejoice that the Lord of Hosts is the God of the heathen as well as the Captain of the Armies of Israel; and while the potsherds of the earth are dashing themselves to pieces one against the other, they are fulfilling his determinate counsels and foreknowledge.

In the month of June Pomare instituted a wholesale massacre to subject the entire island to his rule, and by brutal force gained the object of his ambition. In 1808 the political situation was such that the missionaries found it necessary for their safety to leave the island, and fled with Pomare, November 12th, to the island of Moorea. Pomare's cruelties and atrocities practiced upon the natives during his tyrannical rule are well described in a pen-picture drawn by Moerenhout:

After having massacred all whom they had surprised (in Attahura), after having burned the houses, they went on to Papara, where Tati, who is still living (1837), was chief; but fortunately a man who had escaped from the carnage of Punaauia came to warn the inhabitants of Papara, so that they had time, not to unite in defense, but to fly. Nevertheless, in that infernal night and the day following a great number of persons perished, especially old men, women and children; and among the victims were the widow and children of Aripaia (Ariifaataia) Amo's son, who, surprised the next evening near Taiarahu, were pitilessly massacred with all their attendants. Tati and some of his warriors succeeded in reaching a fort called Papeharoro, at Mairepehe; but they were too few to maintain themseives there, and were forced to take refuge in the most inaccessible parts of the high mountains, from whence this chief succeeded in getting to a canoe which some of his faithful followers provided for him, and kept in readiness on the shore, at the peril of their lives. With him were his brother and his young son, whom he had himself carried in his arms during all this time of fatigue and dangers.

Opuhara became chief of Papara, and soon afterward chief of the island, and remained the chief personage of Tahiti during the next seven years. Ellis, the historian of the missionaries, described him as an intelligent and interesting man.

At Moorea, Pomare's friends were Paumotuans, Boraborans, Raiateans, missionaries, and outcasts. Even these at last abandoned him. The missionary journal shows that they had long regarded their work as a failure, and after identifying themselves with Pomare, in spite of emphatic warnings, no other result was possible. So the missionaries, leaving only Mr. Nott at Moorea, sailed for Australia, not daring to accept the proffered protection of the Tahiti chiefs, because they could not separate themselves, in the minds of the common people, from Pomare and his interests. At Moorea, Pomare urged the visiting chiefs to become Christians. On the 18th of July, 1812, he announced his own decision to the missionaries, and shortly afterwards, on invitation from his old district of Pare Arue, he returned to Tahiti, where he was permitted to remain for two years, as an avowed Christian, unmolested by his old enemies. He took up his residence at Pare Arue as a Christian chief, August 13, 1812, and kept up a correspondence with the missionaries at Moorea.

The missionaries returned and were more successful in Christianizing the people. On the 17th of February, 1813, Pomare wrote: "Matavai has been delivered up to me. When I am perfectly assured of the sincerity of this surrender I will write to you another letter." The missionaries made a tour of the island; many conversions took place; in Moorea several idols were publicly burned; there could be no doubt that the Christians were pursuing an active course, and that their success would bring back the authority of Pomare over the whole island; but neither Opuhara nor Tati interfered, and the peace remained. Yet, after waiting two years at Pare, vainly expecting the restoration of his government, and endeavoring to recover his authority in his hereditary districts, Pomare returned to Moorea in the autumn of 1814, accompanied by a large train of adherents and dependents, all professing Christianity. At the same time the Christian converts in Tahiti became an organization known as the Bure Atua, and every one could see that Pomare was making use of them, and of his wife's resources, to begin a new effort to recover by force his authority in the island. War was inevitable, and Pomare, with his Christian followers and missionaries, could choose the time and place.

Pomare himself was not a soldier, nor had he anything of a soldierly spirit. He left active campaigning to his wives, who were less likely to rouse the old enmity. His two wives, Terite and Pomare vehine, came over to Pare Arue May, 1815, with a large party of Christians, and urged their plans for the overthrow of the native chiefs. The chiefs had no other alternative than to get rid of them, and fixed the night of July 7th for the combined attack. Opuhara led the forces, and it is said that he had given the two queens timely warning to effect their escape. For his delay some of the other chiefs charged him with treachery. He replied that he wished no harm to the two women or their people; that his enemies were the Parionuu; and he marched directly into Pare Arue, and subdued it once more.



While Pomare and the missionaries grew stronger, and, as Ellis expressed it, "became convinced that the time was not very remote when their faith and principles must rise preeminent above the power and influence" of the native chiefs, the chiefs themselves exhibited vacillation. Pomare returned, with all his following, apparently armed and prepared for war. The native converts were trained to the use of firearms and the whole missionary interest became, for the moment, actively militant. The native chiefs remained passive. Under the appearance of religious services, Pomare and the missionaries kept their adherents under arms and prepared them for any hostilities that might arise.

With his army numbering eight hundred, two war canoes, one manned with musketeers, the other with a swivel gun in the stern, commanded by a white man, Pomare, on November 11th, took possession at or near the village of Punaauia, near Papara, with pickets far in advance. Opuhara hastily summoned his men in the famous battle of Fei-pi (the ripe plantains). The field of battle was among the foothills near the coast. Opuhara's warriors made a valiant attack and pierced the front ranks of the enemy till it reached the spot where one of the queens, Pomare vehine, and the chief warriors stood. There one of the native converts leveled his gun at Opuhara, fired, the chief fell, and in a very short time expired. The leader of the native forces was killed by one of his own people who had cast his lot with Pomare and the missionaries.

This war was brought on to force the natives to Pomare's rule, and not for the purpose of removing obstacles to the Christianization of the islanders, as the chiefs were not opposed to the peaceable dissemination of the teachings of the gospel. It was a political and not a religious war, and in this political endeavor the missionaries and their converts took the leading part. The missionaries evidently forgot the legitimate object of their mission and unmercifully slaughtered the natives who took up arms to defend their rights. The Christians on Pomare's side were fighting for supremacy, unmindful of the teachings of the sacred Scriptures.

For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment St. James ii: 13.

When Opuhara fell, his men lost courage, retreated, and were not pursued. The death of Opuhara was deeply regretted by Tati, his near relative and successor in the government of the district. In the ranks of his followers it was firmly believed Opuhara, few as his forces were, would have vanquished the enemy, had not the native missionaries been taught to shoot as they were taught to pray, and been supplied with guns along with Bibles. With the death of Opuhara the last hope of the natives was dissipated and submission to Pomare's rule became a stern reality. Neither the missionaries nor the natives had any idea of allowing Pomare to recede into his old ways. They made him refrain from massacre or revenge after the battle of Fei-pi. Tati, the chief of Papara, maintained peace from that time by his wise rule in that part of the island. He began by the usual island custom of binding Pomare to him by the strongest possible ties. The rapid extinction of chiefly families in Tahiti had left the head chief of Moorea heir to most of the distinguished names and properties in both islands. Marama, the head chief of Moorea, had only one heir, a daughter, a relative of Pomare. This great heiress, almost the last remnant of the three or four sacred families of the two islands, was given by Pomare in marriage to Tati's son, immediately after Tati himself was restored to his rights as head chief of the Tevas. In doing so he claimed for his own the first child that Marama (the bride) should have and made at the same time a compact that the children from the marriage should marry into the Pomare family. These conditions were made to render himself more influential with the most refractory of the conquered tribes. Pomare II. died December 7, 1821, leaving a daughter, Aimata, and a son, Pomare III., a child in arms. Aimata was never regarded with favor by Pomare, her father, who was frank in saying that she was not his child; so the infant son was made heir to the throne. Moerenhout made the statement that Pomare, on his deathbed, expressed the wish that Tati should take the reins of the government in his hands, but that the missionaries and other chiefs were afraid to trust Tati, and preferred to take the charge of the infant king on themselves. The missionaries in due time went through the formal ceremony of crowning the infant, April 22, 1824, at Papara, and then took him to their school, the South Sea Academy, which was established in March, 1824, in the island of Moorea at Papetoai. There he was taught to read and write, and educated in English, which became his language, until he was seven years old, when he fell ill, and was taken over to his mother at Pare, where he died January 11, 1827. During the reign of the infant king, Mata, a friend of the family, managed the affairs of state and became the guardian of Aimata, as the Queen, Pomare IV., was always called by the natives. Aimata was married at the age of nine years. She led an unhappy life, domestic, political, private and public, until at last the missionaries, English and French, fought so violently for control of her and the island that she was actually driven away.

Among other laws which were supposed to have been passed through the influence of the English missionaries, to prevent strangers from obtaining influence in the island, was one dated March 1, 1833, forbidding strangers, under any pretext, from marrying in Tahiti or Moorea. Ariitaimai, of noble birth, the historian of Tahiti, was not inclined to marry a native chief, a decision which met the approval of Marama, her mother. She finally consented to become the wife of Mr. Salmon, an Englishman, who was held in high esteem and consideration in the island; and Aimata suspended the law in order to enable her friend to be married to the man of her choice. The missionaries virtually ruled the island for forty years.


In 1836 two French missionary priests landed at Tahiti to convert, not pagans, but Protestants to the Roman Catholic faith. The Protestant missionaries, who held the reins of the government, indignant at this interference, invoked the aid of the British consul, Pritchard, who caused the Queen to order their arrest and expulsion. The order was executed December 12, 1836. The two priests made a protest to their government, and King Louis Philippe sent a frigate to Papeete with the usual ultimatum, to which the Queen naturally acceded. Then began a struggle on the part of Consul Pritchard and the English missionaries to recover their ground, which led to a letter from Queen Pomare to Queen Victoria, suggesting a British protectorate, whereupon the French government sent another warship to Tahiti, in 1839, and made Aimata repeat her submission. As the British government at that time did not take much interest in missionaries, and Sir Robert Peel had a very precise knowledge of the value of unclaimed islands all over the world, Queen Victoria did not accept the proposition made by the Tahitian Queen, and the missionaries were again thrown on their own resources.

The chiefs ignored the missionaries, and in September, 1841, decided that, between such powers as England and France, they could not hope to maintain independence or even a good understanding, and since England refused the proffered protectorate, they would turn to France. So they drew up the necessary papers for the Queen to approve, but a British war vessel arrived in that critical moment, and this reenforcement of British interests induced the vacillating Queen to refuse to sign them. The next August another French naval force arrived, and the chiefs again met in council, with the admiral's aid and advice. The chiefs sent the following letter to the French admiral, Du Petit—Tuhouars:
Inasmuch as we can not continue to govern ourselves so as to live on good terms with foreign governments, and we are in danger of losing our island, our kingdom, and our liberty, we, the Queen and the high chiefs of Tahiti, write to ask the King of the French to take us under his protection.

In response to this formal request the French admiral, on September 30, 1842, hoisted the flag of the protectorate. This did not end the political and religious troubles of the little island. Consul Pritchard, who had been absent from his post for some time, returned from England February 23, 1843, and declared violent war against the French. As usual, Queen Pomare yielded to his wishes, and refused to obey those of the French admiral. The admiral lost his patience and temper, landed troops and took possession of the island, declared the Queen deposed, and, when disturbances arose, which he believed to be fomented and fostered by Pritchard, he arrested him and had him expelled from the island. This act excited much attention, both in the English and French press, which resulted in an order from the King of France to the admiral to restore the protectorate.

It will be seen that the last wars of Tahiti were caused by a religious intolerance on the part of the English missionaries, who objected to the presence of two Roman Catholic priests in the island. European governments were appealed to and had to interfere in establishing in the island free religious thought. It was a fight between two religious denominations which kept the natives in a state of warfare, a most serious reflection on Christian charity,

Alas for the rarity

Of Christian charity

Under the sun.


The constant unrest of the islanders caused by outside interference provoked frequent rebellions, for "general rebellions and revolts of an whole people never were encouraged, now or at any time; they are always provoked."

The two priests, bent upon a humane mission, who, by their presence in Tahiti, without any fault of their own, incurred the enmity of the Protestant missionaries, were the direct cause of French intervention which resulted in the protectorate and later annexation of the island. The priests remained, new ones came, and today nearly one-half of the population of the island are members of the Roman Catholic church.

The teachings and example of the English missionaries and their conduct toward the Catholic priests prove only too plainly:

Christian graces and virtues they can not be, unless fed, invigorated and animated by universal charity.





Our country sinks beneath the yoke;

It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash

Is added to her wounds.


The disturbances which preceded and followed the establishment of the French protectorate induced the Queen to seek safety on a British ship, and the whole Pomare following took up arms and established themselves in the stronghold of native power and influence near Papeete. Another civil war broke out which waged between the natives and Europeans from 1844 to 1845. Tired of foreign dictation and oppression, the natives fought with desperation. Forts, which remain today in a good state of preservation, were erected by natives and the French. Most of the ruins of these forts are scattered along the ninety-mile drive between Papeete and Papara. From time to time, determined attacks were made with varying fortunes of war. The natives were superior in number but could not stand up against the well-directed firearms of the professional soldiers. A last and crushing attack was ordered by the French admiral, which meant certain defeat for the natives.

It was at this critical time that a woman came to the rescue of her people and prevented a wholesale slaughter of the heroic defenders of the island. This woman was Ariitaimai, the authoress of the book we have been following so closely in sketching the history of the island. She was the daughter of the famous Marama, of Moorea, the wife of Mr. Salmon, and the mother of Tati Salmon, the present chief of Papara. She recognized the hopelessness of the cause of her people and determined to prevent further useless bloodshed and establish peace. It required good judgment and a great deal of courage to undertake the task which she finally accomplished with such a brilliant success. She was one of those who believed that

Almost all difficulties may be got the better of by prudent thought, revolving and pondering much in the mind.


She was intensely patriotic and had no fear of the results of her daring mission. She was very popular with the natives and well known to the French authorities, which aided her very much in formulating and carrying out her plans. She had no time to lose, as the decisive attack on her countrymen had been ordered and was to take place the next day. She called on Bruaat, the governor of the island, with the determined intention to end the war. He granted her twenty-four hours to accomplish her task. She then called a meeting of the head chiefs and urged them to surrender on the conditions stipulated by the French, in view of the hopelessness of the island's cause. At that time this woman was the most conspicuous figure in the politics of the island, loved and respected by the chiefs and the people throughout Tahiti and Moorea. The head chiefs received her proposition with favor. Notable speeches complimentary to her were made on this occasion. One chief said:

Ariitaimai, you have flown amongst us, as it were, like the two birds, Ruataa and Toena. Your object was to join together Urarii and Mauu, and you have brought them into this valley. You have brought the cooling medicines of vainu and mahainuieumu into the hearts of the chiefs that are collected here. Our hearts yearn for you, and we can not in words thank you; but the land, one and all, will prove to you in the future that your visit will always remain in their memory. You have come personally. I have heard you speak the words out of your own mouth. You have brought us the best of all goods, which is peace. You have done this when you thought we were in great trouble, and ran the risk of losing our lives and property; you have come forward as a peacemaker for us all.

What beautiful thoughts in simple, homely language! What a splendid specimen of natural oratory!

In oratory, affectation must be avoided; it being better for a man by a native and clear eloquence to express himself than by those words which may smell either of the lamp or ink-horn.


The chiefs unanimously accepted the terms of peace, and after the adjournment of the council, Ariitaimai hastened to Papeete with the message of the chiefs, which was accepted, and once more the protectorate flag was raised and was recognized and respected by the chiefs and the people. During all these great final trials of the island, the Queen remained in the island of Moorea and even after peace was restored and she was formally requested to return, she refused to do so. The French authorities offered the crown repeatedly to Ariitaimai, but as often, she refused the great honor. The exiled Queen was her intimate and dear friend and

Ennuis has well remarked that "a real friend is known in adversity."


She was content with having accomplished a patriotic deed and with the respect, love and gratitude of her people.

So true it is, that honor, prudently declined, often comes back with increased lustre.


She could say:

Give me a staff of honour for mine age;

But not a sceptre to control the world.



Tis less to conquer than to make wars cease,

And, without fighting, awe the world to peace.


Ariitaimai made several visits to the unhappy Queen, urging her to return and resume her reign of the island, and had the satisfaction, finally, to bring her back from Raiatea on her third visit.

True friends visit us in prosperity only when invited, but in adversity they come without invitation.


The Queen, on her return, was received with regal honors by the French authorities and by the people.

Pomare V. was the last of the kings of Tahiti. He was the oldest son of Queen Pomare IV. and known as Ariiane Pomare. He was married to Marau Taawa Salmon, Tati Salmon's sister, and had two daughters: Teriimii-o-Tahiti, and Arii mainhinihi. Under European influences and customs he became a degenerate Tahitian, profligate and dissipated, and it is said that he was largely responsible for the annexation of the island to France as a colony in 1880, as he received a substantial remuneration for his influence in that direction and a pension of sixty thousand francs a year. He died in 1891. Since Tahiti has become a French possession the island has enjoyed uninterrupted peace. The French government has been exceedingly liberal with the natives, having interfered as little as possible with their habits and customs.

That is the best government which desires to make the people happy, and knows how to make them happy.


The island is governed under the French laws, but local laws and tribal rule remain and administer the local affairs. In completing the eventful history of this little island it becomes apparent:

What is public history but a register of the successes and disappointments, the vices, the follies and quarrels of those engaged in the contention for power.


The government has established and enforced religious liberty, observing the precept: "The protection of religion is indispensable to all government" (Bishop Warburton). Taxation is limited to road tax only. The annexation was looked upon with great disfavor by the natives, but was finally accepted with good grace, and peace and happiness have reigned since.


The Polynesians inhabiting the islands of the great Pacific Ocean constitute a distinct race of people, supposed at one time by certain writers to be of American origin, now almost universally admitted to have a close affinity with the Malays of the peninsula and Indian Archipelago, and hence classified by Dr. Latham under his subdivision Oceanica Mongolidæ. In physical structure and appearance the Polynesians in general more nearly resemble the Malays than they do any other race, although differing from them in some respects, as, indeed, the natives of several of the groups also do from each other. Centuries and environment have left their impress on the inhabitants of the different islands, as

Everything that is created is changed by the laws of man; the earth does not know itself in the revolution of years; even the races of man assume various forms in the course of years.




In stature the Tahitian compares well with any other race. The face is expressive of more than ordinary intelligence. The color of the skin varies from almost black to a light yellow. The aquiline nose is commonly seen among them, and there are many varieties of hair and complexion. In complexion they resemble more nearly the Japanese than the Chinese. The beard is thin, the prevailing hair jet black, straight, wavy or curly, profuse and long; eyes large and black; no drooping or obliquity of eyelids. The face is generally roundish; lower jaw well developed; no unusual malar prominences; forehead slightly receding; mouth large, lips thick and as a rule slightly everted; wide nostrils; ears large; chin prominent. The general resemblance of stature and physiognomy, however, is more with the Malays than any other race, and from which they are undoubtedly the descendants, changed by climatic influences, food, habits and methods of living. In physical appearance the Tahitians and Samoans are the handsomest and tallest of all the natives of the Pacific Islands, with the exception, perhaps, of the Maoris, or New Zealanders.

The superstition of the taboo, the use of kava as an intoxicating drink, cannibalism, infanticide, offering of human sacrifices, tattooing, and circumcision, which were formerly prevalent in Tahiti, have disappeared under the influence of Christianity.

Much has been said about the beauty of some of the women of the South Sea Islands, but I am sure I do them no injustice if I say that these descriptions are overdrawn by sentimental writers and do not correspond, when put to the test of comparison, with the reality. When young, there is something fascinating about the women, imparted by the luxurious jet-black hair, the large black eyes as they gaze at the strangers

With a smile that is childlike and bland.


Beauty and youth among the Tahitian women are of short duration, and in most of them advanced age brings an undesirable degree of corpulence.

Cook visited these people when they were in their original physical and moral state. He praises their openness and generosity. "Neither does care ever seem to wrinkle their brow. On the contrary, even the approach of death does not appear to alter their usual vivacity. I have seen them, when brought to the brink of the grave by disease, and when preparing to go to battle; but in neither case, never observed their countenance overclouded with melancholy, or serious reflection. Such a disposition leads them to direct all their aims only to what can give them pleasure and ease."

The whole countenance is a certain silent language of the mind.


These mental traits have been preserved up to the present time. Melancholy and suicide are almost unknown in Tahiti. The people are happy, contented and free from care and anxiety and

Enjoy the pleasures of the passing hour, and bid adieu for a time to grave pursuits.


They seem to know that

Care and the desire for more

Attend the still increasing store.


Desire for great wealth does not exist among the natives. Nature has supplied them with nearly all they need, hence little remains for them to do to meet their modest desires.

Religion has not done away entirely with superstition, and has improved their morals little, if any. Old European residents of Papeete agree that the morality of the natives has not improved since they have been under the influence of civilization, forced on them by the European invaders. The greatest fault of the people is their incurable laziness, a vice for which they are not entirely responsible, as Nature has provided so bountifully for their needs. Robbery, stealing and murder are almost unknown; petty thefts, on the contrary, are quite common. The people, young and old, are affable, extremely courteous and hospitable to a fault; the family ties strong, and extending to the remotest relatives.

Man is a social animal, and born to live together so as to regard the world as one house.


Nowhere in the world are the people more sociable than in Tahiti. This sociability was perhaps more pronounced before the island was discovered than it is now, but it remains to this day as one of the prominent characteristics of the Polynesian race. Respect and love for parents, strong attachments to relatives and friends, are striking virtues of the Tahitians. They love social intercourse and have the highest regard for friendship. Poverty and misfortunes do not intercept friendships, on the contrary they cement them more firmly.

The firmest friendships have been formed in mutual adversity; as iron is most strongly united by the fiercest flames.


Before European influence had made itself felt in the island, each tribe constituted a large family, and property lines were not sharply defined. As long as there was anything to eat, no one was left hungry. The Tahitians are extremely fond of mingling with their relatives, friends, members of the same and other tribes. They appreciate to the fullest extent that "we have been born to unite with fellow-men, and to join in community with the human race" (Cicero). They treat old age with reverence and respect, and take the very best care of the sick and poor.

Unity of feelings and affections is the strongest relationship.




Under the teachings of the missionaries, Protestant and Catholic, paganism has disappeared from the island. All are church-members and attend service regularly. The denominations represented are the Episcopalians, Catholics and Latter-day Saints in above numerical order. Most of the priests and preachers are natives. Christianity, has, however, failed to suppress immorality and do away entirely with the inborn superstition of the natives. The former evil is firmly rooted, the latter difficult of complete eradication.

Nothing has more power over the multitude than superstition: in other respects powerless, ferocious, fickle, when it is once captivated by superstitious notions, it obeys its priests better than its leaders.


Wicked habits are productive of vice, and vice follows long-standing habits. The Tahitians are by nature kind, affectionate, and their opinions are easily moulded for good or bad, but many of their customs and habits cling to them in spite of civilization and Christianization, for "how many unjust and wicked things are done from mere habit!" (Terentius); and "so much power has custom over tender minds" (Virgilius).

The children of Tahiti are given excellent opportunities for obtaining a good elementary education. In all of the larger villages there is a government school, usually two churches. Catholic and Protestant, and their respective parochial schools. The natives love their language and are averse to the French, hence, as a rule, the parochial are better patronized than the government schools. The literature in the Tahitian language is limited to translations of the Bible, catechisms, religious song books and a few school books. Children of the better classes who seek a higher education, go abroad, in preference to the United States. Few show any ambition to enter any of the professions with the exception of the clerical. The mass of the people are content in leading an easy, dreamy life, showing no disposition either to acquire wealth or fame. Agriculture, manufacture and commerce have no attraction for them. They are children from the cradle to the grave, have the desires of children, and are pleased with what pleases children. Their tastes are simple, their desires few, and instead of in care and worry, they live through their span of life in peace of mind and contentment.

But if men would live according to reason's rules, they would find the greatest riches to live content with little, for there is never want where the mind is satisfied.


In contrast to the Westerner, the favored Tahitian can say:

I have everything, yet have nothing; and although I possess nothing, still of nothing am I in want.


The natives are temperate in drinking, and frugal in eating. Fish and fruit are their principal articles of diet. Their habits in this direction have not undergone much change since Captain Cook wrote:

Their common diet is made up of at least nine-tenths vegetable food; and, I believe, more particularly, the mahee, or fermented breadfruit, which enters almost every meal, has a remarkable effect upon them, preventing a costive habit, and producing a very sensible coolness about them, which could not be perceived in us who fed on animal food. And it is, perhaps, owing to this temperate course of life that they have so few diseases among them.

Smoking is indulged in only to a moderate extent, cigarettes and pipe being the favorite methods of consuming the weed.

Art has never had a place in the minds of the Tahitians. All attempts in this direction in design, carving and sculpture, are rude. Like all primitive peoples, they are fond of music. Their voices are sweet, but the airs of their music are monotonous. The primitive drum, and a little crude instrument made of bamboo, something like a flute, placed in one of the nostrils when played, are the instruments in most common use. The national dance, formerly the principal amusement of the people, is discouraged by the government, but is allowed once a year as a special favor to the natives.


Most of the foreigners who remain permanently in Tahiti become attached to the island by marriage, the strongest possible incentive to make it their permanent home. Many of these men are adventurers. Some of them have honest intentions to make this beautiful island their permanent home. Far away from their place of birth and relatives, charmed by the beauties of the island, they conclude:

I will take some savage woman; she shall rear my dusky race.


In many instances such unions have resulted very happily. On the voyage from San Francisco to Tahiti, I met Mr. George R. Richardson, a native of Springfield, Mass., who had lived for the last thirty years, with his native wife on the little atoll island, Kaukuaia of the Tuamotu group, one hundred and sixty-eight miles from Tahiti. He was suffering from carcinoma of the esophagus, and was returning from San Francisco, whither he had gone for medical advice. His parents were still living, but he had no desire to visit the place of his birth, so fully had he become acclimated to the climatic and native conditions of the Society Islands. He was then fifty-five years of age. He left the United States March 4, 1874, on a sailing vessel, and six months later landed at Tahxa. In six months he had obtained a fair knowledge of the native language, and married in Kaukuaia a woman who could not speak a word of English. This union resulted in sixteen children, three of whom died, six girls and seven boys living at the present time, and of these, three girls and two boys are married. Through his wife he inherited from her mother five acres of land with three thousand cocoanut-palms. To this land he obtained a legal ownership eight years ago by virtue of a law of legal registration passed by the government. The island on which he lives contains only one hundred and fifty inhabitants and the only income is obtained from copra and mother-of-pearl.



The inhabitants of this island are Catholics and Mormons. A Catholic priest comes once a month to minister to the spiritual needs of the adherents to the faith of his church. The services of both denominations are conducted in the native language. He and a Frenchman are the only white inhabitants of the island.

On February 16, 1878, a great storm overflooded the island and our American, who spent a whole night in the crown of a cocoanut tree, lost everything. Only five thousand cocoanut trees were left on the whole island. A man-of-war came from Tahiti three days later and ministered to the urgent needs of the survivors.

The inhabitants of this little island suffer frequently from malaria and grippe. The latter disease returns regularly almost every year. Of the remaining diseases, diarrhea and dysentery are the most common. Tuberculosis is prevalent and claims many victims. This island has now a population of one hundred and fifty, and during his residence he has never seen a physician, although the inhabitants were frequently in need of medical services. He was obliged to render his wife assistance at the birth of all of his children, and strangely, each time without any mishap, either to mother or child. What happened on that island must have happened on the many other distant islands under similar circumstances. Here, like elsewhere, in the South Sea Islands, are medicine-men who attend to tooth-pulling, and, when any cutting is to be done, a scalpel is made of a piece of glass. In case of sickness they make use of roots and herbs of their own gathering.


The Tahitian is not a business man. What little business is transacted in the island is done by foreigners. The larger stores in Papeete are owned and managed by French, Germans and Americans. The smaller stores in the city, and nearly all small shops in the villages, are in the hands of Chinamen.

The fertile soil of Tahiti is not made use of to any considerable extent. The sugar industry has been tried but has been entirely abandoned, owing to high wages for labor and exorbitant freight rates. The principal articles of export are copra, cocoanuts, vanilla-beans and mother-of-pearl shells. Copra (dried meat of cocoanut), brings three cents a kilo and cocoanuts are sold at a cent apiece. The raising of vanilla-beans was a paying industry five years ago, when they commanded a price of seventeen dollars a pound, and were then eagerly sought for in the market, as they were considered superior in flavor to those of any other country. The Chinamen have ruined this source of income as well as the reputation of the product. These shrewd business men control the local market completely and go from place to place long before harvest-time, buy the whole crop for the year for cash, and have the beans picked before they are ripe and mature them artificially. The result of such dishonest transactions has been that, owing to the poor quality of the beans thus treated, the price of the article has been reduced to three or four dollars per pound.

The vanilla-bean grows best in the shady forests, and requires but little attention except artificial fertilization of the flowers and picking of the beans. In the West Indies the numerous insects fertilize the monogamous flowers; in this island, this has to be done largely by artificial fecundation. Women and children do this work. With a sharp little stick, the pollen is taken from the anthers and rubbed over the stigma of the pistil. A child who is active can fertilize fifteen hundred flowers a day. It is a great pity that this industry has been cheapened by the avaricious Chinamen, as it is an industry that requires very little labor and should be remunerative, as the soil and climate are peculiarly well adapted for the cultivation of this valuable aromatic.

Most of the fruit which grows in Tahiti is too perishable for transportation and is consequently very cheap. The largest and most luscious pineapples can be bought for three cents apiece, oranges one-fourth of a cent. Alligator pears, the finest fruit grown anywhere, are sold at the market for two and three cents apiece. At the time of my visit, eggs were sold at forty cents a dozen. Meat, with the exception of pork, is imported from New Zealand and the United States. Most of the native families raise hogs, and this animal is found also in a wild state in the jungles of the forests.

The wages, for this island, are rather high. An ordinary laborer is paid seventy-five cents a day, and the women who are willing to work can earn fifty cents a day. The average Tahitian works only long enough to procure the necessities of life, and, as these are few, it is difficult to find men and women for ordinary labor and housework.

The fact that there is no bank in the whole island shows that the amount of money which circulates among the people is very small. Some enterprising American attempted to establish a telephone line encircling the island, but lack of patronage soon paralyzed the undertaking. The island is a place for a dreamy, easy existence, and not for business.

The communication with the outside world is carried on by two regular steamer lines, one from San Francisco, the other from Auckland, but both of these lines are supported by liberal government subsidies to make them remunerative, as the passenger traffic and the exports and imports of the island would not suffice to make them independent of government aid.


What will not length of time be able to change?


Tahiti is exceedingly interesting to-day, but how much more so must it have been to Captain Wallis and his crew, who first set their eyes on this gem of the Pacific! When the Dolphin came in sight of this beautiful island that never before had been seen by a white man, we can readily imagine officers and crew straining their eyes to see first its rugged outlines, and later the details of the wonderful landscapes. Under the blue sky and lighted up by the vigorous rays of the tropic sun, they could see the mountain-peaks clothed in the verdure of a tropic forest, the little island set like a gem in the ocean, and, as they beheld these mountains and turned their eyes upward they could also see

They were canopied by the blue sky, so cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful that God alone was to be seen in heaven.




As they approached nearer and saw the natural wealth of the island and its happy inhabitants basking in the sunshine, eating what Nature had provided for them without care or toil on their part, they must have come to the unavoidable conclusion that they at last had found a land where

There was a never-ending spring, and flowers unsown were kissed by the warm western breeze. Then the unploughed land gave forth corn, and the ground, year after year, was white with full ears of grain. Rivers of milk, rivers of nectar ran, and the yellow honey continued to pour from the ever-green oak.


On landing, having overcome the animosity of the natives and ascertained the boundless resources of the island, they could not escape the conviction that they in their wanderings over the limitless sea, had at last found "a heaven on earth" (Milton).

What wonderful stories those men must have brought to Europe on their return after the long and hazardous voyage, when they related what they had seen in Tahiti, then in its primitive native state! Captain Cook made a longer stay in the island on his first visit and had therefore a better opportunity to study the island, its resources and its interesting inhabitants. It is on his descriptions we will rely in giving an account of some of the traits, customs and habits of the people as they existed at that time.


Every one is, in a small degree, the image of God.


The most primitive of all races have some conception of a divinity and a life hereafter, for

A god has his abode within our breast; when he rouses us, the glow of inspiration warms us; this holy rapture springs from the seeds of the divine mind sown in man.


Let us listen to Captain Cook concerning the religion of the Tahitians before they knew the name of God and the story of the Saviour while on earth:

The common people have only a very vague idea of the religious sentiments of the race, but the priests, who are quite numerous, have established quite an extensive and somewhat complicated system. They do not worship one God, as possessing preeminence; but believe in a plurality of divinities, who are all supposed to be very powerful, and, as different parts of the island, and the other islands in the neighborhood, have different ones, the inhabitants of such, no doubt, think that they have chosen the most potent and considerate one. Their devotion in serving their gods is remarkably conspicuous. Not only the whattas or offering-places of the morals are commonly loaded with fruits and animals, but there are few houses lacking a small place of the same sort. Many of them are so impressed with their obligations to their divinity that they will not begin a meal without first laying aside a morsel for their Eatooa (their god).

Their prayers are also very frequent, which they chant, much after the manner of songs, in their festive entertainments. They also believe in an evil spirit, they call Etee, who sometimes does them mischief, and to whom, as well as to their god, they make offerings.

But the mischiefs they fear from any superior invisible beings are confined only to temporal things. They believe the soul to be both immaterial and immortal. They say that it keeps fluttering about the lips during the pangs of death, and that then it ascends and mixes with, or, as they express it, is eaten by the deity. In this state it remains for some time; after which it departs to a certain place destined for the reception of the souls of men, where it exists in eternal night, or, as they sometimes say, in twilight or dawn. They have no idea of any permanent punishment after death for crimes that they have committed on earth. They believe in the recognition of relatives and friends after death and in resuming the same relations as on earth. If the husband dies first, the soul of his wife is known to him on its arrival in the land of spirits. They resume their former acquaintance, in a spacious house, where the souls of the deceased assemble to recreate themselves with the gods. From here man and wife retire to their own habitation, where they remain forever.

The most singular part of their faith consists in claiming that not only man, but all other animals, trees, fruit and even stones are endowed with a soul, which at death, or upon being consumed or broken, ascends to the divinity, with whom they first mix, and afterward pass into the mansion allotted to each.

The temples of the Tahitians were the maraes, enclosures of stones, where the offerings were rendered, and on certain occasions human beings were sacrificed. The largest marae ever built in Tahiti is located at Papara and the ruins of it remain to-day. At the time of Captain Cook's visit there were numerous maraes all over the island, which served as places of worship, sacrifice and burial. The supreme chief of the whole island was always housed in a marae and after his death the marae was appropriated to his family and some of the principal people. Such a marae differed little from the common ones, except in extent. Its principal part is a large, oblong pile of stones, lying loosely upon each other, about twelve or fourteen feet high, contracted towards the top, with a square area on each side, loosely packed with pebble stones, under which the bones of the chiefs are buried. At a little distance from the end nearest the sea is the place where the sacrifices are offered, which, for a considerable extent, is also loosely paved. There is here a very large scaffold, or whatta, on which the offerings, and other vegetables, are laid. But the animals are deposited on a smaller one, already mentioned, and the human sacrifices are buried under different parts of the pavement. The marae is the altar of other nations. The skulls of the human sacrifices, after a few months, are exhumed and preserved in the marae.

Captain Cook counted forty-nine such skulls in the marae in which he witnessed the human sacrifice.



Cannibalism did not exist in Tahiti when the island was discovered, but human sacrifices were quite frequently offered as a kind of religious ceremony to appease the anger or displeasure of some offended god. The victims were tramps and persons of no vocation. They were either clubbed or stoned to death by persons designated for this purpose by the priests. On Saturday, August 30, 1777, while Captain Cook was stationed at Matavai for the purpose of observing the transit of Venus, he received a message that on the following day a human sacrifice would be made at Attahura, to Eatooa, to implore the assistance of the deity against the inhabitants of the island of Moorea, who were then in a state of war with Tahiti. Towha, a chief and relative of the then reigning king, had killed a man for the sacrifice. Captain Cook, with several friends, accompanied King Otoo to witness the ceremony, and describes the event in detail:

On our way we landed upon a little island, which lies off Tettaha, where we found Towha and his retinue. After some little conversation between the two chiefs, on the subject of the war, Towha addressed himself to me, asking my assistance. When I excused myself, he seemed angry; thinking it strange I, who had always declared myself to be the friend of their island, should not go and fight against its enemies. Before we parted he gave to Otoo two or three red feathers, tied up in a tuft; and a lean, half-starved dog was put in a canoe that was to accompany us. We then embarked again, taking on board a priest who was to assist at the solemnity. As soon as we landed at Attahura, which was about two o'clock in the afternoon, Otoo expressed his desire that the seamen might be ordered to remain in the boat, and that Mr. Anderson, Mr. Webber and myself might take off our hats as soon as we should come to the marai, to which we immediately proceeded, attended by a great many men, and some boys, but not one woman. We found four priests and their attendants, or assistants, waiting for us.

The dead body, or sacrifice, was in a small canoe that lay on the beach and partly in the water of the sea, fronting the marai. Two of the priests, with some of the attendants, were sitting by the canoe, the others at the marai. Our company stopped about twenty or thirty paces from the priests. Here Otoo placed himself; we, and a few others standing by him, while the bulk of the people remained at a greater distance. The ceremony now began. One of the priest's attendants brought a young plantain tree, and laid it down before Otoo. Another approached with a small tuft of red feathers, twisted on some fibres of the cocoanut husk, with which he touched one of the King's, feet and then retired with it to his companions. One of the priests, seated at the marai, facing those who were upon the beach, now began a long prayer; and, at certain times, sent down young plantain trees, which were laid upon the sacrifice. During this prayer, a man, who stood by the officiating priest, held in his hands two bundles, seemingly of cloth. One of them, as we afterward found, was the royal Maro; and the other, if I may be allowed the expression, was the ark of the Eatooa. As soon as the prayer was ended, the priests at the marai, with their attendants, went and sat down by those upon the beach, carrying with them the two bundles. Here they renewed their prayers, during which the plantain trees were taken, one by one, at different times, from off the sacrifice, which was partly wrapped up in cocoa-leaves and small branches.

It was now taken out of the canoe and laid upon the beach, with the feet to the sea. The priests placed themselves around it, some sitting and others standing; and one, or more of them, repeated sentences for about ten minutes. The dead body was now uncovered, by removing the leaves and branches, and laid in a parallel direction with the seashore. One of the priests then, standing at the feet of it, pronounced a long prayer, in which he was, at times, joined by the others, each holding in his hand a tuft of red feathers. In the course of this prayer, some hair was pulled off the head of the sacrifice, and the left eye taken out; both of which were presented to Otoo, and wrapped up in a green leaf. He did not, however, touch it; but gave, to the man who presented it, the tuft of feathers, which he had received from Towha. This, with the hair and the eye, was carried back to the priests. Soon after, Otoo sent to them another piece of feathers, which he had given me in the morning to keep in my pocket. During some part of this last ceremony, a kingfisher making a noise in the trees, Otoo turned to me saying, "That is the Eatooa;" and seemed to look upon it to be a good omen.

The body was then carried a little way, with its head toward the marai, and laid under a tree, near which were fixed three broad, thin pieces of wood, differently but rudely carved. The bundles of cloth were laid on a part of the marai, and the tufts of red feathers were placed at the feet of the sacrifice, round which the priests took their stations, and we were now allowed to go as near as we pleased. He seemed to be the chief priest who sat at a small distance, and spoke for a quarter of an hour, but with different tones and gestures; so that he seemed often to expostulate with the dead person, to whom he constantly addressed himself, and sometimes asked several questions, seemingly with respect to the propriety of his having been killed. At other times, he made several demands, as if the deceased either now had power himself, or interest with the divinity, to engage him to comply with such requests. Among the petitions we understood, he asked him to deliver Eimeo (Moorea), Maheine its chief, the hogs, women and other things of the island into their hands; which was, indeed, the express intention of the sacrifice. He then chanted a prayer, which lasted nearly half an hour, in whining, melancholy tone, accompanied by two other priests, and in which Potatou and some others joined. In the course of this prayer, some more hair was plucked by a priest from the head of the corpse, and put upon one of the bundles. After this, the chief priest prayed alone, holding in his hand the feathers which came from Towha. When he had finished, he gave them to another, who prayed in like manner. Then all the tufts of the feathers were laid upon the bundles of cloth, which closed the ceremony at this place.

The corpse was then carried up to the most conspicuous part of the marai, with the feathers, the two bundles of cloth, and the drums, the last of which beat slowly. The feathers and bundles were laid against the pile of stones, and the corpse at the foot of them. The priests having again seated themselves round it, renewed their prayers, while some of their attendants dug a hole about two feet deep, into which they threw the unhappy victim, and covered it over with earth and stones. While they were putting him into the grave, a boy squeaked aloud and Omai (Captain Cook's interpreter) said that it was the Eatooa.

The human sacrifice was followed by the offering of dogs and pigs. The many prayers and complicated ceremonies attending human sacrifice stamp it as a religious rite which has undoubtedly been practiced for centuries. In this particular instance it meant a message through the instrumentality of the unfortunate victim to implore Eatooa for assistance in the impending war with Moorea.

It is very interesting indeed to have an account of this ceremony preserved by an eyewitness like Captain Cook, and no apology is necessary here to have it reappear in all its minute details. Another religious ceremony of lesser import is circumcision. How this custom was introduced into Tahiti no one knows. It is more than probable that, in some way it came from the distant Orient in a modified form. It differs from the Jewish rite in that it is not performed on infants, but on boys approaching the age of puberty. Captain Cook gives the following description of the operation as he observed it:

When there are five or six lads pretty well grown up in a neighborhood the father of one of them goes to a Tahoua, or man of knowledge, and lets him know. He goes with the lads to the top of the hills, attended by a servant; and, seating one of them properly, introduces a piece of wood underneath the foreskin, and desires him to look aside at something he pretends is coming. Having thus engaged the young man's attention to another object, he cuts through the skin upon the wood, with a shark's tooth, generally at one stroke. He then separates, or rather turns back, the divided parts; and, having put on a bandage, proceeds to perform the same operation on the other lads. At the end of five days they bathe, and the bandages being taken off, the matter is cleaned away. At the end of five days more they bathe again, and are well; but a thickness of the prepuce, where it was cut, remaining, they go again to the mountains with the Tahoua and servant; and a fire being prepared, and some stones heated, the Tahoua puts the prepuce between two of them, and squeezes it gently, which removes the thickness. They then return home, having their heads and other parts of their bodies, adorned with odoriferous flowers, and the Tahoua is rewarded for his services by their fathers, in proportion to their several abilities, with presents of hogs and cloth; and if they be poor, their relations are liberal on the occasion.

How the wise man managed to keep the boys together during two such painful ordeals is not easy to understand, but as they remained at their posts until all had passed through it speaks volumes for their good behavior and manly courage. That the Tahitians possessed many admirable virtues during their paganism proves only too clearly that

Virtue is shut out from no one; she is open to all, accepts all, invites all, gentlemen, freedmen, slaves, kings and exiles; she selects neither house nor fortune; she is satisfied with a human without adjuncts.




These virtues, the prayers, the sacrifices, the belief in a supreme being and eternity, show that the Tahitians were imbued with a natural religion, for

The existence of God is so many ways manifest and the obedience we owe Him so congruous to the light of reason, that a great part of mankind give testimony to the law of nature.


The natives had no literature nor any communication with the outside world farther than the neighboring island groups. Their only book was nature, and this was read and studied with eagerness and intelligence. Their ancient history consisted of legendary lore handed down from generation to generation. But

There are books extant which they must needs allow of as proper evidence; even the mighty volumes of visible nature, and the everlasting tables of right reason.


From century to century, from generation to generation, these people, without leaving a permanent record of what had happened and without being conscious of art or science, lived and died in a state of happiness and contentment.

For he had no catechism but the creation, needed no study but recollection, and read no book but the volume of the world.


That ignorance and vice should have existed among this primitive people, so completely isolated from the progressive part of the world, is not strange, as they lived in a land of plenty, fed and clothed, as it were, by the almost unaided resources of nature, conditions largely responsible for their inborn laziness. Ignorance and superstition go hand in hand. The Tahitians have always been extremely superstitious and both civilization and Christianization have been powerless in eradicating this national evil. We must, however, judge them not too severely in this matter, as superstition is by no means uncommon amongst us at the present day. Our best poets are not exempt from it.

I think it is the weakness of mine eyes

That shapes this wondrous apparition:

It comes upon me!


Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.


A person terrified with the imagination of spectres is more reasonable than one who thinks the appearance of spirits fabulous and groundless.


With the progress and spread of education of the masses, superstition will gradually be starved out here as elsewhere. The greatest vice of the Tahitians is licentiousness, which remains as when Captain Cook visited the island. In speaking of the looseness of the marital relations, he says:

And so agreeable is this licentious plan of life to their disposition, that the most beautiful of both sexes thus commonly spend their youthful days, habituated to the practice of enormities which would disgrace the most savage tribes, but are peculiarly shocking amongst a people whose general character in other respects has evident traces of the prevalence of humane and tender feelings.

The Tahitians have reason to claim that

The vices collected through so many ages for a long time past flow in upon us.


Intemperance among the natives has never had a firm foothold in the island and tobacco is used with moderation. Gambling, such a common vice among the peoples of the Orient, has never been cultivated and practiced to any extent in Tahiti. These ocean-bound people, living in happy and contented isolation, had no desire for national or personal wealth or fame, neither had they any inclination or desire for art or the sciences. They believed in the mottoes:

If you are but content, you have enough to live upon with comfort.



Ambition breaks the ties of blood, and forgets the obligations of gratitude.


They lived a restful, unselfish life, happy in the companionship of their families, relatives and friends, with no morbid desires to distract them from the full enjoyment of what Nature showered upon them with bountiful never-failing liberality.

Their customs are by Nature wrought; But we, by art, unteach what Nature taught.



Tahitian royalty was hereditary, and women were not excluded. There were chiefs and chiefesses governing tribes, and head chiefs and head chiefesses ruling over several tribes or the whole island. There were no crowns and no sceptres. The insignia of royalty was a belt ornamented with feathers. The red feathers were what the diamonds and other precious stones are in ancient and modern crowns. This belt was called Maro. Captain Cook gives the following description of a maro:

It is a girdle, about five yards long, and fifteen inches broad; and, from its name, seems to be put on in the same manner as is the common maro, or piece of cloth used by these people to wrap round the waist. It was ornamented with red and yellow feathers; but mostly with the latter, taken from a dove found upon the island. The one end was bordered with eight pieces, each about the size and shape of a horseshoe, having their edges fringed with black feathers. The other end was forked, and the points were of different lengths. The feathers were in square compartments, ranged in two rows, and otherwise so disposed to produce a pleasing effect. They had been first pasted or fixed upon some of their own cloth, and then sewed to the upper end of the pendant which Captain Wallis had displayed, and left flying ashore, the first time that he landed at Matavai.

This insignia of office was highly respected by the natives and was handed down from one generation of rulers to the other, carrying with it the sovereignty of the office. One of the civil wars in the island was caused by a failure on the part of one of the chief esses (Purea) to deliver the maro to her legitimate successor.


Before the Europeans came to Tahiti, the beautiful little island was a sanatorium. The natives were temperate, frugal in their habits, subsisting almost exclusively on fish, fruit and vegetables, and lived practically an outdoor life even in their bamboo huts. They were unencumbered by useless clothing and spent, as they do now, much of their time in sea and fresh-water bathing. They were almost exempt from acute destructive diseases. They were free from the most fatal of acute contagious and infectious diseases, such as smallpox, measles, scarlatina, cholera, etc. Tuberculosis and venereal diseases were unknown before the white man invaded the island. The immediate effect of the European civilization on the health and lives of the natives was frightful. On this subject I will let Ariitaimai speak:

When England and France began to show us the advantages of their civilization, we were, as races then went, a great people. Hawaii, Tahiti, the Marquesas, Tonga, Samoa and New Zealand made a respectable figure on the earth's surface, and contained a population of no small size, better fitted than any other possible community for the condition in which they lived. Tahiti, being the first to come in close contact with the foreigners, was first to suffer. The people, who numbered, according to Cook, two hundred thousand in 1767, numbered less than twenty thousand in 1797, according to the missionaries, and only about five thousand in 1803. This frightful mortality has been often doubted, because Europeans have naturally shrunk from admit ting the horrors of their own work, but no one doubts it who belongs to the native race. Tahiti did not stand alone in misery; what happened there happened everywhere, not only in the great groups of high islands, like Hawaii with three or four hundred thousand people, but in little coral atolls which could only support a few score.


Moerenhout, who was the most familiar of all travelers with the islands in our part of the ocean, told the same story about all. He was in the Austral group in 1834. At Raivave he found ninety or one hundred native rapidly dying, where fully twelve hundred had been living only twelve or fourteen years before. At Tubuai he found less than two hundred people among the ruins of houses, temples and tombs. At Rurutu and Rimitava, where a thousand or twelve hundred people had occupied each, hardly two hundred were left, while nearly all the women had been swept away at Rurutu. Tlie story of the Easter Islanders is famous. That of the Marquesas is about as pathetic as that of Tahiti or Hawaii. Everywhere the Polynesian perished, and to him it mattered little whether he died of some new disease or from some new weapon, like the musket, or from misgovernment, caused by the foreign intervention.

No doubt the new diseases were most fatal. Almost all of them took some form of fever, and comparatively harmless epidemics, like measles, became frightfully fatal when the native, to allay the fever, insisted on bathing in cold water. Dysentery and ordinary colds, which the people were too ignorant and too indolent to nurse, took the proportions of plagues. For forty generations these people had been isolated in this ocean, as though they were in a modern sanatorium, protected from contact with new forms of disease, and living on vegetables and fish. The virulent diseases which had been developed among the struggling masses of Asia and Europe found a rich field for destruction when they were brought to the South Seas. Just as such pests as lantana, the mimosa or sensitive plant, and the guava have overrun many of the islands, where the field for them was open, so diseases ran through the people. For this, perhaps, the foreigners were not wholly responsible, although their civilization certainly was; but for the political misery the foreigner was wholly to blame, and for the social and moral degradation he was the active cause. No doubt the ancient society of Tahiti had plenty of vices and was a sort of Paris in its refinements of wickedness, but these had not prevented the islanders from leading as happy lives as had ever been known among men.

These are strong words, but they are nevertheless only too true. Civilization brings to savage races curses as well as blessings. The primitive people are more receptive of new vices than new virtues.

In 1880 the number of inhabitants had again increased to thirteen thousand five hundred, but since that time it has been reduced to eleven thousand, as shown by the last census. When Captain Cook visited the island he emphasized particularly the absence of acute diseases. In speaking of chronic diseases he remarks:

They only reckon five or six which might be called chronic, or national disorders, amongst which are the dropsy and the fefai, or indolent swellings before mentioned as frequent at Tongataboo.

The fearful, swift depopulation of the island was caused by the introduction of new acute infectious and contagious diseases, such as smallpox, measles, whooping-cough, la grippe, etc., which among these people was attended by a frightful mortality. It was only three years ago that an epidemic of measles, a trifling disease with us, claimed several hundred lives, including many adults, and extended to nearly all of the islands of the entire group. The disease that is now threatening the extinction of the race in a short time is pulmonary tuberculosis. The natives are extremely susceptible to this disease, and the small native houses, crowded with large families, are the breeding stations for infection.

The French government has at last recognized the need of taking active measures to improve the sanitary conditions of their colony and protect the natives against the spread of infectious diseases. A corps of three physicians, sent by the French government on this mission, made the voyage from San Francisco to the island on the steamer Mariposa with me. The names of these physicians are: Dr. Grosfillez, surgeon-major of the first class of the colonial troops; Dr. H. Rowan, a graduate of the Pasteur Institute, and Dr. F. Cassiau, of the clinic of Marseilles. The military surgeon receives an annual salary of fifteen hundred dollars, the two civil doctors twelve hundred dollars each. They are under contract for five years. They have been given judicial power to enforce all sanitary regulations they see fit to institute. They will be stationed at different points and will establish a requisite number of lazarettos, something which will fill a long-felt and pressing need.




The average temperature of the inhabited part of the island, which can not be less than 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, has a relaxing influence on the natives and much more so on the small contingent of whites. The Europeans and Americans find it necessary every three to five years to seek for a few months a cooler climate to restore their energies and vigor. The government officials and officers of the small garrison are not obliged to serve for more than the same time consecutively, when they are relieved from their posts and commands. It is this relaxation which, to a certain extent, at least, is responsible for the great mortality of comparatively mild, acute, infectious diseases, and the severity of pulmonary tuberculosis among the natives. Tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands, skin, bones and joints appears to be extremely rare. The moisture-laden atmosphere and the suddenness with which the cool land and ocean breezes set in after the heat of the day, are conducive to the development of rheumatic affections, which are prevalent in all parts of the island, more especially during the rainy season in midwinter. The same can be said of bronchial affections and pneumonia. The free and unrestrained intercourse among natives accounts for the rapid spread of tuberculosis and acute infectious diseases among the entire population and from island to island.

The sanitary commission now engaged, in efforts to reduce the mortality of the natives will establish rules and regulations which will have for their object the prevention of dissemination of acute as well as chronic infectious diseases, and will undoubtedly accomplish much toward the preservation of the race; but these officers will meet with stubborn opposition on the part of the natives when attempts are made, in their interest, to curtail their personal liberties. The ties of relationship and friendship among the natives are very strong, and become most apparent in case of misfortunes and sickness. Smallpox breaks out almost every year, and claims its share of victims. Vaccination is supposed to be compulsory, but the natives are inclined to escape it. Vaccination is done gratuitously at the Military Hospital for all natives who can be induced to submit to it. Under present conditions it is almost impossible to reach the inhabitants of the small atoll islands.

Like in all tropic countries, tetanus is of quite frequent occurrence. The small native pony is found everywhere, and as the rural natives are all barefooted and spend much of their time in the jungles in impregnating the flower of the vanilla-bean and gathering fruits, wounds prone to infection with the tetanus bacillus are of frequent occurrence.

Malarial diseases are comparatively rare, although the plasmodium-carrying mosquitoes are numerous and aggressive, and children in the country districts are nude, and the men limit their clothing to the wearing of a loin-cloth. No case of typhoid fever has been known to have originated in the island. For this there exists a satisfactory explanation. The exemption in this island from this disease, so widely distributed over the entire part of the inhabited globe, is due entirely to an abundant supply of the purest drinking water supplied by the numerous mountain streams. Nearly all the inhabitants live on the coast, near the outlet of a brook or stream, where, consequently, there is no danger whatever of water-contamination. I found three cases of typhoid fever in the Military Hospital, members of one family, who had been brought there from one of the neighboring atoll islands.

Varicose veins, varicocele and hydrocele are very common. The absence of anything like a large ulcer in many cases of large and numerous varicose veins of the leg, I attributed to the toughness of the skin of the bare legs. Venereal diseases are widespread throughout the entire island, and more especially in Papeete and the near-by larger villages. For over a hundred years the natives have suffered from this scourge brought there by the European sailors and adventurers. Syphilis has been transmitted from generation to generation until it has contaminated the major part of the population, for

The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.



The wickedness of a few brings calamity on all.


The length of time the disease has existed among the natives has established a certain degree of tolerance or immunity, as it pursues a comparatively mild course, as I found very few instances of the ravages of the remote results of syphilis. I saw only one case of saddle nose, caused by tertiary syphilis.

Leprosy is not as prevalent as in the Hawaiian Islands, but isolated cases are found in nearly all the islands belonging to this group, being more prevalent in some than in others. Segregation has never been attempted. The lepers mix freely with the members of their families and neighbors, and are not shunned by any one. I was informed that many of the lepers, much disfigured by the disease, seek an island where many of these unfortunates have founded a colony for the purpose of escaping from public gaze. There, away from relatives and friends, they spend their short span of life and await patiently the final relief which only death can bring.

O Death, the Healer, scorn thou not, I pray. To come to me; of cureless ills thou art The one physician. Pain lays not its touch upon a corpse.


Elephantiasis in its worst forms has taken a firm hold on the natives, especially the inhabitants of the near-by island of Moorea. There this disease can be studied in all its stages, from a slight enlargement of one of the extremities to colossal swellings, which, when the upper and lower extremities are affected at the same time, make it necessary for the patient to crawl on his hands and feet in dragging himself from place to place. Regarding elephantiasis as it exists in Tahiti and the other islands of the French colony, I will make use of a few extracts taken from a valuable paper on this subject by Dr. Lemoine, recently in charge of the Military Hospital, and published in one of the government reports. According to this author, who has seen much of this disease in Tahiti and surrounding islands, it may affect most regions of the body, and not infrequently makes its appearance as an acute affection with all the symptoms characteristic of lymphangitis, including quite a violent continued remittent form of fever, which lasts two or three months. The acute form is, almost without exception, complicated by synovitis of the joints of the affected limb, which he regards as almost pathognomonic of the disease, differentiating it from ordinary forms of lymphangitis. After the subsidence of the acute symptoms and in the chronic form the disease is essentially a chronic lymphangitits, accompanied by marked enlargement of the veins. According to his observations the regions most frequently involved are the lower extremities, external genitals, and lastly, the hands and forearms. Three years ago I was given an opportunity to see at the hospital and poorhouse at Antigua, West Indies, ninety cases of elephantiasis, and not in a single one of them did the disease affect the upper extremity, while in the French colony of the South Seas this is not infrequently the case. I do not know that a satisfactory explanation has ever been given why the disease should behave so differently in fixing its location in the two groups of islands. Lemoine, as well as other writers on elephantiasis, has seen the disease become stationary by the removal of the patient to a colder climate. Europeans become susceptible to elephantiatic infection after a prolonged residence in tropical countries where the disease prevails.

Lemoine does not agree with Manson, who believes that elephantiasis is caused by the Filaria sanguinis, and is suspicious that the essential parasitic cause is a yet undiscovered microbe. He made blood examinations night and day of patients under his care, and was unable to constantly detect the filariæ in their embryonic state in the peripheral blood, and consequently claims that the presence of filaria in the organism is not an infallible diagnostic indication, and that their abundance is not proportionate to the intensity of the disease. The fact that the elephantiatics improve in colder climates he regards as another proof that filariasis is not the essential cause of the disease.



In a number of cases extirpation of the infiltrated enlarged lymphatic glands was followed by decided improvement, and in the case of a Tahitian the improvement remained at the end of three years. He has also operated on a number of cases by partial excision of the mass, first on one side of the limb, then on the other, with decided benefit to the patient in most of them. In some cases deep incisions through the entire thickness of the indurated mass afforded relief and resulted in diminution of the size of the swelling. He relates the details of the case of a native, fifty years old, the subject of elephantiasis of the lower limbs, that he operated on in two stages several weeks apart, removing first a large section from the anterior and later from the posterior part of the swelling, and as shown by the accompanying illustrations in the report depicting the condition of the limbs before and after operation, with an excellent result. However, in some of the cases the benefit thus derived did not last for any considerable length of time.

In making the excision, the superfluous skin is excised with the underlying indurated tissues, and the skin margins reflected for some distance in order to create sufficient room for a more liberal removal of the deep tissues. In one case, that of a woman thirty-eight years of age, the patient died two weeks after the second operation. Death was attributed to loss of blood and the debilitated condition of the patient when she entered the hospital. In another case, a Tahitian, thirty-five years old, affected with elephantiasis of all limbs and the external genitals, he operated successfully on one of the arms, the seat of an enormous swelling below the elbow. The excised mass weighed fifteen kilograms. Owing to the large size of the swelling, the operation proved one of great difficulty, and on account of the tension incident to the approximation of the margins of the flaps the sutures cut through and the wound ultimately healed by granulation. At the second operation nearly the entire mass was removed, with the result that the wound finally healed after a prolonged suppuration and the patient was relieved of the incumbrance caused by the great weight of the swelling. The relief afforded induced the patient to request additional operations for the removal of the swellings involving other regions of the body, but as the surgeon soon after left the island his desire could not be gratified.

The climate of Tahiti is not congenial for pulmonary and rheumatic affections, as the atmosphere is too moist. It is admirably adapted for patients the subjects of nervous affections in all their protean forms. The quietude, balmy air and pleasing surroundings are the best therapeutic agents to secure mental rest and refreshing sleep. It is in the treatment of such affections that a trip to Tahiti can not be too strongly recommended.


For centuries the practice of the healing art was largely in the hands of priests. They ministered to the body as well as the soul. Their practice was purely empirical and the surgery, even of the most skilled, rude and often brutal. The human mind is very much inclined to look upon disease and the methods used to effect a cure as something mysterious. Even at this late day many people who are well educated and who in everything else seem to possess a liberal amount of good common sense, have very strange ideas in regard to disease and the means employed in treatment. Promises to cure and a liberal expenditure of printers' ink render them an easy prey to mysterious methods. All races and all tribes have always had among them men and women in whom they confided in case of accident or disease. Very often priesthood and medicine were combined in the same person. Among the ancient Tahitians the chief was at the same time priest and medical adviser. The American Indians had their medicine-men, the Tahitians and other South Sea Islanders their Kahuna. It is very interesting to know something of the early practice of medicine and surgery among the Tahitians. Captain Cook gives them great credit from what he saw of their surgery:

They perform cures in surgery, which our extensive knowledge in that branch has not, as yet, enabled us to imitate. In simple fractures, they bind them up with splints, but if part of the substance of the bone be lost, they insert a piece of wood, between the fractured ends, made hollow like the deficient part. In five or six days, the rapooa, or surgeon, inspects the wound, and finds the wood partly covered with the growing flesh. In as many more days, it is generally entirely covered; after which, when the patient has acquired some strength, he bathes in the water, and recovers.

In speaking of medicine he says:

Their physical knowledge seems more confined; and that, probably, because their diseases are fewer than their accidents. The priests, however, administer the juices of herbs in some cases; and women who are troubled with after-pains, or other disorders after child-bearing, use a remedy which one would think needless in a hot country. They first heat stones, as when they bake their food; then they lay a thick cloth over them, upon which is put a quantity of a small plant of the mustard kind; and these are covered with another cloth. Upon this they seat themselves, and sweat plentifully, to obtain a cure. They have no emetic medicine.

In referring to the few indigenous diseases he adds:

But this was before the arrival of the Europeans; for we have added to this short category a disease which abundantly supplies the place of all the others; and is now almost universal [syphilis]. For this they seem to have no effectual remedy. The priests, indeed, sometimes give them a medley of simples; but they own that it never cures them, and yet, they allow that, in a few cases, nature, without the assistance of a physician, exterminates the poison of this fatal disease, and perfect recovery is produced. They say that a man affected with it will often communicate it to others in the same house, by feeding out of the same utensils, or handling them, and that, in this case, they frequently die, while he recovers; though we see no reason why this should happen.

On his fourth voyage to the Society Islands Captain Cook learned to what fearful extent syphilis had spread throughout all of the islands of the group and became aware what ravages it had caused among the natives. On visiting new islands he did all in his power to protect the natives against this scourge by excluding all women visitors from the ship and by strictly enjoining persons known to be infected from landing. On the probable effects of these new regulations he comments:

Whether these regulations, dictated by humanity, had the desired effect, or no, time only can discover. I had been equally attentive to the same object when I first visited the Friendly Islands; yet I afterward found, with real concern, that I had not succeeded, and I am afraid that this will always be the case, in such voyages as ours, whenever it is necessary to have a number of people on shore.


Massage as a remedial agent in the treatment of disease originated in the Orient, and the Tahitians were familiar with it and frequently made use of it. On this subject Captain Cook can speak from personal experience. During his stay in Tahiti in 1777 he suffered evidently from a severe attack of sciatica, the pain extending from the hip to the toes. King Otoo's mother, his three sisters and eight more women came on his ship one evening for the purpose of giving him treatment and remained all night to fulfill their well-meant mission. Here is the account of the treatment to which he was subjected by the women:

I accepted the kindly offer, had a bed spread for them upon the cabin floor, and submitted myself to their directions. I was desired to lay myself down amongst them. Then, as many of them as could get around me, began to squeeze me with both hands, from head to foot, but more particularly on the parts where the pain was lodged, till they made my bones crack, and my flesh became a perfect mummy. In short, after undergoing this discipline about a quarter of an hour, I was glad to get away from them. However, the operation gave me immediate relief, which encouraged me to submit to another rubbing down before I went to bed; and it was so efficient that I found myself pretty easy all the night after. My female physicians repeated their prescription the next morning, before they went ashore, and again in the evening, when they returned on board; after which, I found the pains entirely removed, and the cure being perfected, they took leave of me the following morning. This they call romee, an operation which, in my opinion, far exceeds the flesh-brush, or anything of the kind that we make use of externally. It is universally practised amongst the islanders, being sometimes performed by men, but more generally by women.


Tahiti is not an Eldorado for doctors. The entire island has only eleven thousand inhabitants and the great majority of them are too poor to pay for medical services. The only place in Tahiti where a doctor can be found is in Papeete. At the time I visited the island there was only one physician in private practice in the capital city, Dr. Chassaniol, a retired naval surgeon, the only private practitioner in the whole group of islands. The bulk of medical practice is in the hands of the government physician, always a military man who has at the same time charge of the Military Hospital and takes care of the sick poor, and supervises all matters pertaining to sanitation. The only other physicians in the island are the naval surgeons on board a small man-of-war almost constantly anchored in the harbor of Papeete. The government physician is privileged to practice outside of the hospital, and from this source he receives the bulk of his income. As the resident physician and the government physician are the only qualified physicians in the whole archipelago, it requires no stretch of the imagination to realize that until the present time the French government has not made adequate provisions for their subjects who require the services of a physician.



The Tahitians have not lost their faith in their Kahunas or native doctors, who without any medical knowledge, practice their art. These men, with a local reputation as healers of disease, are to be found in nearly every village. They are well thought of and are influential members of society in their respective communities. Like the medicine-men of our Indians, they make use of roots, bark and herbs as remedial agents, and the natives, like many of our own people, have more faith in this mysterious kind of medication than in modern, concentrated, palatable drugs prescribed by the most eminent physician. To the credit of these native medicine-men, it must be said that they give to all afflicted who apply for treatment not only their services, but also the medicines without any expectation of a financial reward or even the gratitude of their clients.


The military hospital at Papeete is the only one in the French colonial possession of the Society Islands, numbering one hundred and sixty-eight islands and containing thirty thousand inhabitants, of whom eleven thousand live in Tahiti. As some of these islands are more than one hundred miles apart, it is somewhat strange that the French government has not taken earlier action in establishing small cottage hospitals in a number of the larger islands, as in case of severe injuries or sudden illness the natives of the distant islands are not within reach of timely medical aid and the transportation of a sick or injured person to Papeete from the far-off islands or villages by small schooners or canoes is necessarily slow and in many instances dangerous. The Sanitary Commission now stationed in the islands will, it is to be hoped, act promptly in remedying this serious defect in the care of the sick natives.



The Military Hospital at Papeete is an old structure of brick and cement, situated near the western limits of the city in a large square yard inclosed by a high stone wall, surmounted by a crest of fragments of glass, which imparts to the inclosure a prison-like appearance, the austerity of which, however, is much relieved by beautiful tropical trees, shrubbery and flowers in front of the entrance and in the courtyard. The hospital proper comprises seven buildings, only one of which is two stories high. The hospital has accommodations for forty beds. The officers' rooms contain two beds each; the remaining space is divided into small wards for privates and civilians. In one ward, the windows of which are strongly barred, are kept the military prisoners, and another small ward is devoted to obstetrical cases. The rooms and wards are well ventilated and clean, the beds comfortable; the hospital furniture otherwise is scanty and antique. The drug-room is large, richly supplied with capacious jars, mortars of all sizes, herbs, roots and a complete outfit for making infusions, decoctions and tinctures, which reminds one very vividly of an apothecary shop of half a century ago. This department is in charge of a pharmacist who, besides mixing drugs, does some chemical and bacteriological work in a small and imperfectly equipped laboratory. The operating-room is an open passageway between two adjoining wards, and all it contained suggestive of its use were an operating table of prodigious size and decidedly primitive construction, and, suspended from the wall, a tin irrigator, to which was attached a long piece of rubber tubing of doubtful age. The hospital is well supplied with water, and contains a bathroom, a shower-bath and modern closets. The hospital is in charge of the government physician, who is always a medical officer of the colonial troops, detailed for this special service, usually for a period of three years. From the official reports I gleaned that on an average this institution takes care of about three hundred and fifty patients a year. At the time of my visit the number of patients did not exceed fifteen, among them one in the prison ward. All of the patients were the subjects of trifling affections, with the exception of three cases of typhoid fever sent to the hospital from one of the atoll islands. The patients are being cared for by three Catholic sisters and orderlies as they are needed. The poor are admitted gratuitously; private patients pay from six to fifteen francs a day. The hospital is beautifully located on the principal street of the city and faces the charming little harbor. A small private hospital for the foreign residents and tourists is needed here and under proper management would prove a remunerative investment.


O Christ! it is a goodly sight to see

What heaven hath done for this delicious land.


The wealth of Tahiti is on its surface. Its mountains are not pregnant with precious metals nor has nature stored up in their interior material for fuel and illumination, as none of these are needful to make the people content and happy. The Tahitian has no desire to accumulate wealth; the warm rays of the sun reduce the use of fuel to a minimum, and the millions of glittering stars and the soft silvery light of the moon in the clear blue sky create a bewitching light at night, which, more than half of the time, would make artificial illumination a mockery. Then, too, Tahiti is the land of gentle sleep and pleasant dreams, where people do not turn night into day, but rise with the sun and retire soon after he disappears in the west behind the vast expanse of the ocean. God created Tahiti for an ideal island home and not as a place for get-rich-quick methods, speculation and bitter competition for business, for

Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails,

And honor lacks where commerce long prevails.


Tahiti's fabulous wealth consists in its inexhaustible soil and the perennial warm, stimulating breath of the tropic sun. It is the island of never-fading verdure and vigorous and never-ceasing vegetation. The fertile soil, the abundant rainfall throughout the year, the warm sunshine and the equable climate are most conducive to plant-life and here these conditions are so harmonious that there can be no failure of crops in the Lord's plantation. There never has been a famine in Tahiti, and there never will be, provided the government protects the magnificent mountain forests—nature's system of irrigation. Tahiti's food-supply is select and never-failing, and is furnished man with the least possible exertion on his part. The bounteous provisions nature has made here for the abode of man are a marvel to the visitor and after he has once seen them and has become familiar with them he can not escape the conclusion that he is in

A land flowing with milk and honey.

JEREMIAH xxxii:22.

The food products and fruits grown in the forests without the toil of man are admirably adapted for the climatic conditions, being laxative and cooling, and undoubtedly account for the excellent health of the natives before the invasion of the island by the Europeans. The island was destined for the natives, and the natives were suited to the island.

Man's rich with little, were his judgment true;

Nature is frugal, and her wants are few;

These few wants answer'd, bring sincere delights;

But fools create themselves new appetites.


Content with what the sea and forest provided for them, these children of Nature lived a happy life, free from care, free from morbid desires for wealth or fame.

O blissful poverty!

Nature, too partial, to thy lot assigns

Health, freedom, innocence, and downy peace, —

Her real goods, — and only mocks the great

With empty pageantries.


No sullen discontent nor anxious care.

E'en though brought thither, could inhabit there.


The Tahitian people, before they tasted the questionable advantages of European civilization, had much in common and lived happily in the full enjoyment of Nature's varied and bountiful gifts. Tribal life was family life, and public affairs were managed to suit the wants of the people, and if any one in power failed in his duties, the people took the law in their own hands and corrected the evil, usually without bloodshed. If the people were not prosperous according to our ideas of life, they were at least happy, and

We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment.



The Tahitians have no corn or grain of any kind out of which to make bread. They found in the forests excellent substitutes for bread, and more healthful for that climate, in the form of breadfruit, wild plantain and tubers rich in starch. This is the kind of bread they have been eating for centuries, and which they prefer to our bread to-day. When the island was densely populated and the demand on nature's resources exceeded the supply, the natives had to plant trees, roots and tubers in vacant spaces in the forest, high up on the mountainsides, where they grew luxuriantly without any or little care, and by these trifling efforts on the part of man the food-supply kept pace with the increase of the population. Trees and plants distributed in this manner found a permanent home in the new places provided for them, and have since multiplied, and thus increased greatly the annual yield. Evidences of dissemination of bread and fruit-yielding trees and plants by the intervention of man are apparent to-day throughout the island by the presence of cocoa-palms, breadfruit and other fruit trees, and plantains, in localities where nature could not plant them, in places formerly inhabited but abandoned long ago when the population became so rapidly decimated by the virulent diseases introduced into the island by the Europeans. To-day the fruit and fruit-supply is so abundant that it is within easy reach of every family and can be had without money and without labor. We will consider here a few of the most important substitutes for bread on which the Tahitians largely subsist:



Breadfruit.—Breadfruit is the most important article of food of the Tahitians. It is the fruit of the breadfruit tree Arfocarpus incisiva (Linné), a tree of the natural order, Artocarpaceæ, a native of the islands of the Pacific Ocean and of the Indian Archipelago. This fruit is one of the most important gifts of nature to the inhabitants of the tropics, serving as the principal part of their food, the inner tough bark of the tree furnishing a good material for native cloth, while the trunk of the tree is used as a material for canoes. The exudation issuing from cuts made into the stem, a resinous substance, is in use for closing the seams of canoes. Several varieties of breadfruit trees are to be found in Tahiti, differing in the structure of their leaves and in the size and time of ripening of the fruit, so that ripe breadfruit is obtainable more or less abundantly throughout the year. The foliage of this tree is the greenest of all green, and it is this deep green which distinguished this tree at once from its neighbors. The male flowers are in catkins, with a two-leaved perianth and one stamen; the female flowers are nude. The leaves are large, pinnatifid, frequently twelve to eighteen inches long, smooth and glossy on their upper surface. The much branched tree attains a height of twenty to fifty feet. The fruit is a sorosis, a compound or aggregate the size of a child's head, round or slightly oblong, light green, fleshy and tuberculated on the surface. The rind is thick, and marked with small square or lozenge-shaped divisions, each having a small elevation in the middle. The fruit hangs by a short, thick stalk from the small branches, singly or in clusters of two or three together. It contains a white, somewhat fibrous pulp, which when ripe becomes juicy and yellow, but has then a rotten taste. The fruit is gathered for use before it is ripe, and the pulp is then white and mealy, of the consistence of fresh bread. The fruit is prepared in many ways for food, roasted on hot coals, boiled or baked, or converted by the experienced native cook into complicated dainty dishes. The common practice in Tahiti is to cut each fruit into three or four pieces and take out the core; then to place heated stones in the bottom of a hole dug in the ground; to cover them with green leaves, and upon this place a layer of the fruit, then stones, leaves and fruit alternately, till the hole is nearly filled, when leaves and earth to the depth of several inches are spread over all. In half an hour the breadfruit is ready; the outsides are, in general, nicely browned, and the inner part presents a white or yellowish cellular substance. Breadfruit prepared in this manner and by other methods of cooking is very palatable, as I can speak from my own experience, slightly astringent and highly nutritious, a most excellent dietetic article for the tropics. The tree is very prolific, producing two and sometimes three crops a year. When once this tree has gained a firm foothold in a soil it cherishes, and in a climate it enjoys, it exhibits a tenacity to reproduce itself to an extent often beyond desirable limits. Of this Captain Cook writes:

I have inquired very carefully into their manner of cultivating the breadfruit tree; but was always answered that they never plant it. The breadfruit tree plants itself, as it springs from the roots of the old ones, so that the natives are often under the necessity of preventing its progress to make room for trees of other sorts to afford some variety in their food.

The timber is soft and light, of a rich yellow color, and assumes when exposed to the air the appearance of mahogany.

Manioc.—Manioc is another important article of food in Tahiti and likewise serves as an excellent substitute for baker's bread. It is the large, fleshy root of Manihot utilissima, a large, half-shrubby plant of the natural order Euphorhiaceæ, a native of tropical America, and much cultivated in Tahiti as an article of food. In this island the plant has run wild in some of the ravines formerly inhabited. The plant grows in a bushy form, with stems usually six to eight feet high, but sometimes much higher. The stems are brittle, white, and have a very large pith; the branches are crooked. The leaves are near the ends of the branches, large, deeply seven-parted, smooth and deep green. The roots are very large, turnip-like, sometimes weighing thirty pounds, from three to eight growing in a cluster, usually from twelve to twenty-four inches in length. They contain an acrid, milky juice in common with other parts of the plant, so poisonous as to cause death in a few minutes; but as the toxic effect is owing to the presence of hydrocyanic acid, which is quickly removed by heat, the juice, inspissated by boiling, forms the excellent sauce called casareep; and fermented with molasses it yields an intoxicating beverage called onycou; whilst the root, grated, dried on hot metal plates and roughly powdered, becomes an article of food. It is made into thin plates which are formed into cakes, not by mixing with water, but by the action of heat, softening and agglutinating the particles of starch. The powdered root prepared in this manner is an easily digestible and nutritious article of farinaceous food. The root is largely made use of in the manufacture of starch and is exported from Tahiti for this purpose to a considerable extent. The starch made from this root is also known as Brazilian arrowroot, and from it tapioca is made. Manioc is propagated by cuttings of the stem, and is of rapid growth, attaining maturity in six months.

Sweet Cassava.—Sweet cassava is the root of Manihot Aipi, a woody plant indigenous to tropical South America, growing in great abundance in the dense forest of the mountain valleys of Tahiti. The plant grows to a height of several feet and has large long leaves growing from the foot of the stem. The root is reddish and nontoxic; it can therefore be used as a culinary esculent, without any further preparation than boiling, while its starch can also be converted into tapioca. The Aipi has tough, woody fibres, extending along the axis of the tubers, while generally the roots of the manioc (bitter cassava) are free from this central woody substance.

Arrowroot or Arru Root.—The commercial arrowroot is prepared from different starch-yielding roots, but the bulb of the Maranta marantaceæ produces more starch and of a better quality than any of the others. It is a native of the West Indies and South America, and is cultivated quite extensively in Tahiti. Many little patches of this plant may be seen along the road from Papeete to Papara, where the lowland soil is well adapted for its cultivation. The starch-producing plant which is cultivated most extensively in Tahiti and other South Sea Islands is the Tacca pinnatifolia. This perennial plant will even thrive well in the sandy soil near the shore. The stalk, with terminal spreading pinnatifid leaves, is from two to three feet high and the root is a tuber about the size of a small potato. The tacca starch is much valued in medicine, and is particularly used in the treatment of inflammatory affections of the gastro-intestinal canal.

Taro or Tara.—Taro is another very important food-product of Tahiti, as well as other islands of the Pacific, notably the Hawaiian Islands. It is the root of Colocasia macrorhiza, a plant of the natural order Araceæ, of the same genus with cocoa. The plant thrives best in low, marshy places. In all of the South Sea Islands it is very extensively cultivated for its roots, which constitute in these islands a staple article of food, excellent substitutes for potatoes and bread. The roots are very large, from twelve to sixteen inches in length, and as much in circumference. They are washed in cold water to take away their acridity, which is such as to cause excoriation of the mouth and palate. The roots are cooked in the same way as the breadfruit, the rind being first scraped off. Another very common way of eating taro is in the form of poi. This method of preparing the root was known to the Tahitians when Captain Cook visited the island. He compared poi with "sour pudding." It requires some skill to make poi. The root, finely grated, is allowed to ferment over night. It tastes sour and is a refreshing, delicate and nutritious dish, when served ice-cold. The plant has no stalk; the petioled heart-shaped leaves spring from the root. The flower is in the form of a spathe. The boiled leaves can be used as a substitute for spinach.

Wild Plantain.—The wild plantain furnishes its liberal share of food-supply for the Tahitians. It is a tree-like, perennial herb (Musa paradisiaca) with immense leaves and large clusters of the fruits. In its appearance it resembles very closely the banana, but differs from it as the hands and fingers of the bunches of fruit are turned in the opposite direction. The fruit is long and somewhat cylindrical, slightly curved, and, when ripe, soft, fleshy and covered with a thick but tender yellowish skin. This plant is indigenous to Tahiti and is found in abundance in the forests. The fruit is cooked or baked and is keenly relished by the natives.

All of the articles of food I have referred to above are easily digested, palatable and nutritious, and for the Tahiti climate more healthful than bread and potatoes, on which the masses of people living in colder climates subsist to a large extent. I attribute the comparative immunity of the South Sea Islanders from attacks of appendicitis principally to their diet, which is laxative, easily digested and not liable to cause fermentation in the gastro-intestinal canal. Appendicitis does occur in these islands, but this disease is extremely rare as compared with the frequency with which it is met in Europe, and more especially in the United States. The Americans are the most injudicious and reckless eaters in the world, which goes far in explaining the prevalence of gastric and intestinal disorders among our people.




It is fortunate that the inhabitants of the tropics have no special liking for a meat diet, as the free indulgence in meat could not fail in resulting detrimentally to the health of the inhabitants. The continuously high temperature begets indolence, and indolence tends to diminish secretion and excretion, conditions incompatible with a habitual consumption of meat. Nature has established fixed rules concerning the manner of living in the tropics. She deprives man of the appetite for meat and other equally heavy articles of food, and supplies him with nourishment adapted for the climate. It is under such climatic conditions that we are made to realize that

The more we deny ourselves, the more the gods supply our wants.



We can not use the mind aright when the body is filled with excess of food.


For the preservation of health in the tropics, it is necessary that the food should be laxative, cooling, easy of digestion and nutritious. Fish and fruit of various kinds meet these requirements. From observations and experience, the ignorant natives have made a wise selection of what is best for them to eat, and know what to avoid. High living brings its dire results in temperate and cold climates, but any one indulging in it in the tropics will curtail his life, as it can not fail to be productive, in a short time, of organic changes of a degenerative type in important internal organs, which soon begin to menace life and never fail in diminishing the vital resistance against acute diseases. Luxury in the tropics in the way of eating and drinking is a dangerous experiment, and it is well to remember, especially when living in a hot climate, that

By degrees man passes to the enjoyments of a vicious life, porticoes, baths and elegant banquets; this by the ignorant was called a civilized mode of living, though in reality it was only a form of luxury.


No such mistakes are made by the natives of Tahiti as long as they remain true to their ancient manner of living. With few exceptions, indeed, they lack the means of imitating the foreigners in living a life of luxury. Any native who departs too far from the simple, natural life of his ancestors will pay dearly for the doubtful pleasures of a life of luxury. The average native, fortunately, has no such inclinations; he is satisfied to live the simple, natural life his forefathers led, and he follows the scriptural advice.

And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. I. Timothy vi:8.


Nature has provided for the South Sea Islanders something better than beef and mutton in the form of meat—fish and cocoanut. Fish are very abundant all around the coast of Tahiti, and the lagoons, where the fishing is mostly done, are as quiet as inland lakes. More than two hundred varieties of fish have been found in these waters. But the real and best meat for the Tahitians is the cocoanut. The meat of this wonderful nut contains a large per cent, of oil, which supplies the system with all the fatty material it requires, and for the tropic climate this bland, nutritious vegetable oil is far superior to any animal fats. We will give here the Cocoa-palm the liberal space it so well deserves:


Through groves of palm

Sigh gales of balm,

Fire-flies on the air are wheeling;

While through the gloom

Comes soft perfume,

The distant beds of flowers revealing.


The cocoa-palm is the queen of the forests of the South Sea Islands. The tall, slender, branchless, silvery stem and fronded crown of this graceful tree distinguish it at once from all its neighbors and indicate the nobility of its race. The great clusters of golden fruit of giant size, partially obscured by the drooping leaves and clinging to the end of the stem, supply the natives with the necessities of life. The cocoa-palm is the greatest benefactor of the inhabitants of the tropics.

It is meat, drink and cloth to us.


Fruits of palm-tree, pleasantest to thirst

And hunger both.


This noble tree grows and fructifies where hard manual labor is incompatible with the climate, in islands and countries where the natives have to rely largely on the bounteous resources of nature for food and protection. The burning shores of India and the islands of the South Pacific are the natural homes of the cocoa-palm. It has a special predilection for the sandy beach of Tahiti and the innumerable atoll islands near to and far from this gem of the South Seas. The giant nuts often drop directly into the sea and are carried away by waves and currents from their native soil to strange islands, where they are cast upon the sandy shore, to sprout and prosper for the benefit of other native or visiting tribes. By this manner of dissemination, all of these islands have become encircled by a lofty colonnade of this queen of the tropics.

Beautiful isles! beneath the sunset skies

Tall silver shafted palm-trees rise between

Tall orange trees that shade

The living colonnade:

Alas! how sad, how sickening is the scene

That were ye at my side would be a paradise.


The cocoa-palm (Cocos nucifera), is a native of the Indian coasts and the South Sea Islands. It belongs to a genus of palms having pinnate leaves or fronds, and male and female flowers on the same tree, the latter at the base of each spadix. It is seldom found at any considerable distance from the seacoast, except where it has been introduced by man, and generally thrives best near the very edge of the sea. In Tahiti isolated cocoa-palms are found on the lofty hilltops, projecting, with their proud crowns of pale green leaves, far above the level of the sea of the dense forest and impenetrable jungles. This transplantation from shore to the sides and summits of the foot-hills had its beginning before the discovery of the island, when the overpopulation made it necessary to provide for a more abundant food-supply. There it has prospered and multiplied since without the further aid of man, yielding its rich harvests of fruit with unfailing regularity. The frightful reduction in the number of inhabitants since the white man set his foot on the island has made this additional food-supply superfluous, as the palms within easier reach in the lowlands along the shore more than meet the present demands.



The cocoa-palm is a proud but virtuous tree. Its dense cluster of delicate roots does not encroach upon the territory of other trees, but claims only a very modest circular patch of soil from which to abstract the nourishment for the unselfish, philanthropic tree. The base of the stem is wide and usually inclined, but a few feet from the ground becomes straight and cylindrical, with nearly the same diameter from base to crown. The curve of the stem is caused by the effects of the prevailing winds on the yielding, slender stem of the youthful tree, but with increasing growth and strength, it rises column-like into the air, balancing its fruit-laden massive crown in uncompromising opposition to the invisible aerial force. It is only in localities exposed to the full power of strong and persistent trade-winds that the full-grown trees lean in the same direction in obedience to the unrelenting common deforming cause. The full-grown tree is, on an average, two feet in diameter, and from sixty to one hundred feet high, with many rings marking the places of former leaves, and having, at its summit, a crown of from sixteen to twenty leaves, which generally droop, and are from twelve to twenty feet in length. These giant leaves furnish an excellent material for thatched roofs, and in case of need, a few leaves, properly placed, will make a comfortable, waterproof tent. The fruit grows in short racemes, which bear, in favorable situations, from five to fifteen nuts; and ten or twelve of these racemes, in different stages of fructification, may be seen at once on a tree, about eighty or one hundred nuts being its ordinary annual product. For the purpose of answering the requirements of primitive man, the Creator has ordained that this tree shall yield a continuous harvest from one end of the year to the other. Flowers and fruit in all stages of ripening grace the crown at all times of the year. The young cocoanut contains the delicious, cooling milk, and the soft pulp, a nourishing article of food. The mature nut is an excellent substitute for meat, as the kernel contains more than seventy per cent, of a fixed, bland, nutritious oil. The tree bears fruit in from seven to eight years from the time of planting, and its lifetime is from seventy to eighty years. Its greatest ambition during youth is to reach the clouds and equal its oldest neighbors in height. Young trees, with a stem less than four inches in diameter, rival their veteran neighbors in height, devoting their future growth to the increase in the dimension and strength of the stem, and their vital vigor to the bearing of its perennial, unfailing yield of fruit for the benefit of man and beast. The stem, when young, contains a central part which is sweet and edible, but when old, this is a mass of hard fibre. The terminal bud (palm cabbage) is esteemed a delicacy when boiled or stewed or raw in the form of a vegetable salad. The sweet sap (toddy) of the cocoa-palm, as of some other palms, is an esteemed beverage in tropic countries, either in its natural state, or after fermentation, which takes place in a few hours; and, from the fermented sap (palm wine), a strong alcoholic liquor (arrack), is obtained by distillation. The root of the cocoa-palm possesses narcotic properties. Every part of this wonderful tree is utilized by the untutored inhabitants of the tropics. The dried leaves are much used for the thatch, and for many other purposes, as the making of mats, screens, baskets, etc., by plaiting the leaflets. The strong midribs of the leaves supply the natives with oars. The wood of the lower part of the trunk is very hard, and takes a beautiful polish. The fibrous centre of old stems is made into salad. By far the most important fibrous part of the cocoa-palm is the coir, the fibre of the husk of the imperfectly ripened nut. The sun-dried husk of the ripe nut is used for fuel, and also, when cut across, for polishing furniture, scrubbing floors, etc. The shell of the nut is made into cups, goblets, ladles, etc., and these household articles are often finely polished and elaborately ornamented by carving. This, the most generous of all trees, from the time of its birth until it yields to the ravages of time, serves man in hundreds of different ways, furnishing him with food and drink, clothing, building-material, fuel, medicine, most exquisite delicacies, wine, spirits and many articles of comfort and even of luxury. What other tree but the cocoa-palm could have been in the mind of Milton when he wrote:

In heav'n the trees

Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines

Yield nectar.


GOVERNMENT WHARF–PAPEETE (Waiting for the steamer Mariposa)

The cocoa-palm is a peaceful, modest, virtuous tree. It prefers its own kin, but is charitable to its neighbors, irrespective of race. It towers far above the sea of less favored trees, which find in its shade protection against the burning rays of the tropic sun and the fury of the trade-winds. Proudly it stands guard at the shores of the coral-girt islands of the South Pacific, waving its lofty, fruit-laden crown, responding alike to the cool, refreshing land breezes and the humid trade-winds in the balmy air of the tropics. Peaceful and lovely is a forest of palms, where

Leaves live only to enjoy love, and throughout the forest every tree is luxuriating in affectionate embrace; palm, as it nods to palm, joins in mutual love; the poplar sighs for the poplar; plane whispers to plane, and alder to alder.


The sight of a forest of cocoa-palms from a distance is imposing, a walk through it full of enchantment. Nowhere does this noble tree appear to better advantage than in Tahiti. This, the most favored of all islands, is engirdled by an almost unbroken belt of palm-forest, stretching from the very verge of the ocean to the base of the foot-hills, with the towering, tree-clad mountains for a background; a forest planted by the invisible hand of Nature, a forest cared for by Nature, a forest which produces nearly all of the necessities of life for the natives from day to day, and year to year, with unfailing regularity. Enter this forest and the eye feasts on a scene which neither the pen of the most skilled naturalist nor the brush of the ablest landscape artist can reproduce with anything that would do justice to nature's inexhaustible resources and artistic designs. Such a scene must be gazed upon to be appreciated. Between the colonnade of symmetrical silvery stems and crowns of feathery fronds, inlaid with the ponderous golden fruit, the eye catches glimpses of the blue, placid ocean, the foam-crested breakers, of the still more beautifully blue dome of the sky, the deep green carpet of the unbroken tropic forest thrown over the mountainsides, or the naked, rugged, brown peaks basking in the sunlight, and on all sides flowers of various hues and most delicate tints. Surely,

Who can paint

Like Nature? Can imagination boast.

Amid its gay creation, hues like hers,

Or can it mix them with that matchless skill.

And lose them in each other, as appears

In every bud that blows?


Add to the pleasures flashed upon the mind by the ravished eye, the perfumed, soothing air of the tropics, the sweet sounds of the aeolian harp as the gentle breeze strikes its well-timed chords in the fronded crowns of the palms overhead, the bubbling of the ripples of the near-by ocean as they kiss the sandy rim of the island shore, and the clashes of the breakers as they strike with unerring regularity the coral reef, the outer wall of the calm lagoon, and your soul will be in a mood to join the poet in singing the praises of nature:

O Nature!

Enrich me with knowledge of thy works:

Snatch me to heaven!


Queen of the tropic isles, guardian of their sun-kissed strands, friend of their dusky, simple children of Nature! Continue in the future as you have done in the past, to dispense your work of generosity and unselfish charity, to sustain and protect the life of man and beast in a climate you love and revere, a climate adverse for man to earn his daily bread by the sweat of his brow! I have seen your charms in your favorite island-abode and studied with interest your innumerable deeds of generosity, your full storehouse for the urgent needs of man and your safe refuge for the inhabitants of the air. Had Whittier visited the island Paradise, your native home, he would have written in the positive in the first stanza, when he framed that beautiful verse:

I know not where His islands lift

Their fronded palms in air;

I only know I can not drift

Beyond His love and care!

There is no other country and no other island in the world that has such a variety of indigenous fruit trees as Tahiti. Add to these trees that have furnished the natives with an abundance of fruit for centuries, the fruit trees that have been introduced since the island was discovered, and many of which flourish now in a wild state in the forests, and it will give some idea concerning the wealth of fruit to be found in the forests of Tahiti. Most of the inland habitations away from the coast have been abandoned long ago, and in all these places, in the valleys and high up on the mountainsides, many kinds of exogenous fruit trees, planted by former generations, have gained a permanent foothold. Here they multiply, blossom, ripen their fruit, and all the islanders have to do is to gather the annual crop. Here delicious little thin-skinned oranges grow, and the finest lemons and limes can be had for the gathering. The poor find here

Fruits of all kinds in coat

Rough or smooth rind, or bearded husk or shell,

She gathers tribute large, and on the board

Heaps with unsparing hand.




Nothing reminds one more of Tahiti being the forbidden Garden of Eden, than the abundance of fruit that grows in the forests without the intervention of man. Some kind of fruit can be found during all seasons of the year, and

Small store will serve, where store

All seasons, ripe for use, hangs on the stalk.


It is here not as in most countries where

The poor inhabitant beholds in vain

The redd'ning orange and the swelling grain.


as the poorest of the poor have access to Nature's orchard and can fill their palm-leaf baskets with the choicest fruits. The Tahitian

He feeds on fruits, which of their own accord

The willing ground and laden tree afford.


This mingling, in the most friendly manner, of the old forest trees with familiar fruit trees introduced from distant lands and laden with golden fruit, is a most beautiful sight. The fruit trees stand their ground even against the most aggressive shrubs, and it is often no easy matter to reach the ripe hiding fruit in the dense network of branches thrown around and between the branches of the imprisoned tree. What a blessing these acid fruits are to the natives, sweltering under the rays of the tropic sun! How easy it is for them to make a cooling, refreshing drink! Take a young cocoanut, open it at one end, and add to its milk the juice of a lime or a lemon, and the healthiest and most refreshing drink is made.

Bear me, Pomona! to thy citron groves,

To where the lemon and the piercing lime,

With the deep orange glowing through the green,

Their lighter glories lend.


It is claimed that the large apple family is the descendant of the Siberian crab-apple, modified by climate, soil and grafting. This statement appears to me incorrect, as I have seen a tree in the Hawaiian forests which bears a real sweet apple which in shape and taste has a strong resemblance to the apples of our orchards. The tree is from twenty to thirty feet in height, slender and few branched. The same tree is found in the forests of Tahiti, and its fruit is much sought after by the natives. It would be difficult to connect the wild apple tree of the South Sea Islands with the Siberian crab-apple, to which it bears no resemblance, either in the appearance of the tree or its fruit. Let us now consider a few of the fruit trees which adorn and enrich the forests of Tahiti:

Alligator Pear, or Avocado.—This is the most delicate and luscious of all the fruit-products of the Tahitian forests, where it is found in its wild state in great abundance. It is the fruit of the Persea gratissima, a tree belonging to the natural order Lauraceæ, an evergreen tree of the tropic regions of America and the South Sea Islands. It attains a height of from thirty to seventy feet, with a slender stem and dome-like, leafy top. The branches, like the stem, are slender, and ascend on quite an acute angle from their base. The leaves resemble those of the laurel. The flowers are small, and are produced toward the extremities of the branches. The fruit is a drupe, but in size and shape resembles a large pear. The rind is green, thin, and somewhat rough on the outside. In the center of the pulp is a large, heart-shaped kernel, wrapped in a thin, paper-like membrane. The pulp is green or yellowish, not very sweet, but of a delicious taste and exiquisite flavor, and contains about eight per cent, of a greenish fixed oil. The way to eat this delicious fruit is to cut it in two lengthwise, remove the kernel, season with sweet oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and eat with a teaspoon. In the form of a salad it is one of the daintiest of all dishes. The softness of the pulp and the richness in oil have led the French to call this fruit "Vegetable butter." The seeds of the alligator pear have come into medical use at the instance of Dr. Froehlig, and particularly through the efforts of Park, Davis & Co., a manufacturing firm. The alligator pear is a very perishable fruit, which accounts for its scarcity and fabulous price in our markets.

Pawpaw or Papaya is the fruit of the Carica Papaya, natural order Papayaceæ. It is an exceedingly graceful, branchless little tree, which grows to the height of from ten to twenty feet and is of short vitality. Its natural home is in South America and the islands of the Pacific. The cylindrical stem is grayish white, roughened in circles where the previous whorls of leaves had their attachment. The leaves are from twenty to thirty inches long and are arranged in the form of a whorl at the very top of the stem, where also the fruit grows, close to the stem. The fruit when ripe is light yellow, very similar to a small melon, and with a somewhat similar flavor. The skin is very thin and the pulp exceedingly soft, hence a very perishable fruit. The seeds are numerous, round and black, and when chewed have, in a high degree, the pungency of cresses. It requires time to acquire a taste for this healthy, very digestible tropical fruit, but when once developed, it is keenly relished. It is eaten either raw or boiled. It possesses digestive properties of considerable value, which have been utilized in the preparation of a vegetable pepsin. The acrid, milky sap of the tree or the juice of the fruit much diluted with water, renders any tough meat washed with it, tender for cooking purposes, by separating the muscular fibres (Dr. Holder). It is said even the exhalations from the tree have this property; and meats, fowls, etc., are hung among its leaves to prepare them for cooking. The tree is of very rapid growth, bears fruit all the year and is very prolific.

Mango is the fruit of Mangifera Indica. It is a stately, broad-branching, very shady tree, from thirty to forty feet in height, belonging to the natural order Anacardiaceæ. The stem is short, from eight to ten feet, when it divides into long, graceful branches, with an impenetrable foliage, a fine protection against the rain and the scorching rays of the sun. The bark is almost black and somewhat rough. The leaves are in clusters, lanceolate, entire, alternate, petioled, smooth, shining, tough, and about seven inches long, with an agreeable resinous smell. The flowers are small, reddish white or yellowish, in large, erect, terminal panicles. The fruit is kidney-shaped, smooth, greenish yellow, with or without ruddy cheeks, varying greatly in size and quality, and containing a large, flattened stone, which is covered on the outside with fibrous filaments, largest and most abundant in the inferior varieties, some of which consist chiefly of fibre and juice, while the finer ones have a comparatively solid pulp. The size varies from that of a large plum to that of a man's fist. The largest and finest mangoes are found in Tahiti. The fruit is luscious and agreeably sweet, with an aromatic flavor and slightly acid taste. The kernels are nutritious, and have been cooked for food in times of scarcity. A mango tree laden with its golden fruit is a pleasing sight, and reminds one vividly of a Christmas tree.

Lime.—The fruit of Citrus Planchoni, Citrus Australis Planchon. The lime tree of Tahiti was undoubtedly introduced from Eastern Australia, where it is found as a noble tree, fully forty feet high, or, according to C. Hartmann, even sixty feet high. In Tahiti the tree is small, and in the dense jungles hardly exceeds the size of a shrub. The stem, as well as its numerous slender, wide-spreading, prickly branches, is very crooked. The fruit is similar to the lemon, but much smaller in size, being only about one and one-half inches in diameter, and almost globular in shape, with a smooth, green, thin rind and an extremely acid, pungent juice. For a thirst-quenching drink, the lime-juice is far preferable to the lemon.

Pomegranate.—The fruit of Punica Granatum, a shrub belonging to the natural order Granataceæ. This historic and useful shrub grows luxuriantly and with little or no care, in the fertile, sun-kissed soil of Tahiti. More than one-half of the interior of the oval purple fruit consists of large black seeds. The seedless variety has evidently never been introduced. The juice is subacid and very palatable. The flowers are ornamental, and sometimes are double. The rind of the fruit and the bark of the roots possess valuable medicinal properties. Consider for a moment what nature has done for the support, comfort and pleasure of the inhabitants of Tahiti, and we are ready to admit the truth of what the prince of poets said:

Here is everything advantageous to life.


And we can answer with a positive yes the question proposed by another famous poet, in the beautiful stanza:

Know'st thou the land where the lemon trees bloom,

Where the gold orange glows in the deep thicket's gloom,

Where a wind ever soft from the blue heaven blows,

And the groves are of laurel and myrtle and rose?





The primeval forests are the pride of Tahiti. Indirectly they are the wealth of the little island. They have been spared the ravages of the woodman's ax. The forests have been kind to the natives and the natives to the forests. The avaricious lumberman, the greatest enemy of public wealth and general prosperity, has fortunately so far not had a design on the magnificent forests of Tahiti, and may he never be permitted to carry on his work of destruction in this island paradise! The giant trees, growing the finest and most valuable timber, hold out much inducement to get-rich-quick men, but they have been destined for a better purpose; they, with the more menial companions, the humble, lowly shrubs, attract the clouds, determine rain, retain moisture and fill the river-beds, creeks and rivulets with the purest water. The forests extend from the shore to near the highest mountain-peaks, making up one great green sea of foliage, interrupted here and there by the summits of hills, ridges, and bare spots of brown, volcanic earth, where vegetation of any kind has been forbidden to take a foothold. Along and near the coast are the charming groves of cocoa-palms, where the ordinary trees, out of deference to the queen of the tropic forests, are few and modest in their ambition to compete with her in height. Here the guava shrub, groaning under the weight of its golden fruit, adds to the beauty of the grove. A walk through such a grove, with glimpses of the blue ocean and the verdant tree-clad hills and mountains, will bring the conviction that

The groves were God's first temples.


Raising the eyes and looking up the steep incline of the mountains clothed in perennial verdure by a dense virgin forest, we are almost instinctively reminded of the beautiful lines of Dryden:

There stood a forest on the mountain's brow, which

overlook'd the shady plains below;

No sounding axe presumed these trees to bite, coeval

with the world; a venerable sight.

The forest in the tropics has no rest. From one end of the year to the other, it appears the same. There is no general disrobing at the bidding of an uncompromising, stern winter. There are no arctic chills to suffer and no burden of snow to brave. Most of the trees are evergreen, and the few that imitate the example of their kind in the North by an annual change of their leaves, perform this task almost imperceptibly. There are no bald crowns and bare arms. Spring, summer and autumn mingle throughout the year; blossoming and ripe fruits go hand in hand in the same tree or neighboring trees. A walk through a tropic forest is no easy thing, owing to the dense interlacing and often prickly undergrowth, but the visitor is amply rewarded for his efforts. Every step brings new revelations, new surprises. Nowhere are there any signs of deforestation, either by fire or the cruel, thoughtless hand of man. You are in a forest

Where the rude ax, with heaved stroke,

Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,

Or frown them from their hallow'd haunts.


The biggest trees are in the shaded, rich ravines and far up on the mountainside or hill-tops. They seem to be conscious of their superiority and power in the selection of their abode. Look at one of these monsters, with wide-spread, giant branches and impenetrable foliage, and

View well this tree, the queen of all the grove;

How vast her bole, how wide her arms are spread.

How high above the rest she shoots her head!




But in these forests, so full of life and perpetual activity, indications of death are seen here and there. The numerous climbing vines which, serpent-like, creep up and embrace in their deathly grasp some young, vigorous tree, have no good intentions for their patient, helpless host. The struggle may last for years, but the ultimate result is sure. The cruelty of the unwelcome intruder increases with his age and, strength. The fight for life becomes more and more intense. The plant-serpent throttles its victim more and more, penetrates its body with its additional roots, and sucks the very life-blood from its vitals. What promised to become the giant of the forest sickens and succumbs to a slow, lingering, ignominious death. The victory is complete and he now stands with

Pithless arms, like a wither'd vine,

That droops his sapless branches to the ground.


The ruthless climber has accomplished its purpose and it has become so strong and has made such intricate interlacements with adjoining trees that it holds the corpse erect in its cold embrace for an indefinite period of time, until some strong wind lays low forever the victor with the vanquished.

Like everywhere else where the soil is fertile and other conditions for plant-growth favorable, so in the Tahitian forest, rank plant-life prospers. The lantana (Lantana Crocca) a shrubby plant two to four feet high, with beautiful little yellow and purple flowers arranged in umbels, has overrun the whole island. It is here, as in some of the other islands of the Pacific, the most aggressive and most troublesome of all weeds, and it is this plant which interferes with a more abundant growth of grass and consequently with a more productive pasturage in wild and cultivated grounds.

The sense of isolation and solitude is nowhere more profound than in a tropical forest, and more especially so in Tahiti, as here animal life is scarce. The only game found are domestic hogs and chickens, which have run wild, and these are scarce. There are no birds of plumage and few song-birds. Chameleons frequent sunny spots, and butterflies, of all sizes and colors, enliven the air. There are no snakes and few poisonous insects; no deer, bear, leopards or monkeys. Even the ordinary water-birds, with the exception of a small species of sea-gull and occasionally a crane, seem to avoid this island.

A day spent in the wonderful forests of Tahiti will bring no regrets; on the other hand, will be replete with pleasure and profit, and will leave charming pictures on memory's tablet which time can never efface. On the brightest day, darkness reigns underneath the almost impenetrable roof of branches, vines and foliage. Here and there the sun's rays penetrate through the gigantic bowery maze, and fall upon the ground with almost unnatural intensity, frequently appearing and disappearing as the wind plays with the leaves.

The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind,

And make a checker'd shadow on the ground.


The solemn silence of the forest, the grandeur of vegetation, the effects of light and shadows, are impressive, and the visitor will carry away from Tahiti an inspiring and lasting mental picture of

Her forests huge,

Incult, robust, and tall, by Nature's hand

Planted of old.



The forests of Tahiti comprise many species of trees, the timber of which would command a high price in the market, but it is my intention here to enumerate and briefly describe only a few of the trees which interest the visitor the most, as he will see them wherever he goes as shade trees, and as component parts of the magnificent forests.

Purau or Burao is the Hibiscus tiliaceus (Linné), (syn.: Paritium tiliaceum), order Malvaceæ. The flowers are bell-shaped, of a beautiful canary color, but quickly fall and turn to red or reddish brown. They are made up of five imbricated petals, painted a dark brown at their base and inner surface. The glaucous leaf-like calix is five-parted. The five stamens form a sheath for the pistil, which is five-parted and brown at its apex. The large leaves are used by the native housewives in lieu of a table-cloth. It is said that the macerated leaves and flowers are used to heal burns, bruises, etc. (McDaniels). The trunks of the largest trees are made into canoes. The inner tough bark serves as a substitute for hemp in the making of twine and ropes. The roots of this tree have earned a reputation as a valuable medicine in the treatment of diseases of the gastro-intestinal canal. This is a common and beautiful shade tree in Papeete, and if the traveler visits the island in January or February he will find it in full bloom. The dark green leaves and the light yellow flowers form a very pleasing contrast. It attains a height of from forty to sixty and more feet. The short and often very crooked stem sends off numerous large branches, clothed, like the stem, in a rough black bark. The branches are often so crooked and tortuous that they form such an intricate entanglement that even the woodman's ax would meet with difficulties to isolate and liberate them. The branches appear to have an intrinsic tendency to reach the ground, and when they do so strike root and become daughter trees, growing skyward, and soon rival in height the parent tree. In the woods it is not uncommon to find the parent tree surrounded at variable distances by numerous daughter trees. Many such ambitious branches are formed into graceful arches before they attain the wished-for independence. This tree, with its numerous offspring and interlacing branches, contributes much in rendering the jungles in which it grows impenetrable in many places. The wood is white and soft. The leaves are as large as an ordinary small soup-plate, long-petioled, seven-ribbed, broadly cordate and acuminate, dark green and glossy on their upper, and strongly veined and paler, on their lower surface.



Banyan Tree.—The Ficus Indica, a native tree of India, remarkable for its vast rooting branches, outstripping in this respect by far the tree just described. It is a species of wild fig, has ovate, heart-shaped, entire leaves, about five or six inches long, and produces a fruit of a rich scarlet color, not larger than a cherry, growing in pairs front the axils of the leaves. The branches send shoots downwards, which, when they have rooted, become stems; the tree in this manner spreading over a great surface, and enduring for many years. The banyan tree found in the island of Tahiti docs not spread as much as the Indian tree, and the aerial roots which later become a part of the trunk after they strike the ground and develop an independent existence, become supplied with new roots. Most of the aerial roots of the Tahitian tree take their origin from the lower part of the trunk and remain in close contact with it after they strike the ground, and many of them remain dangling free in the air in vain attempts to secure an independent existence, the branch roots being comparatively few. The tree is found at short intervals along the ninety-mile drive, and the largest one I saw was in the front yard of the Cercle Bougainville, the French club in Papeete.

Pandanus Tree, Screw Pine.—The Pandanus Freycinctia natural order of Pandaneæ. There are about fifty species of this tree, natives of South Africa to Polynesia. The pandanus tree of Tahiti is a palm-like tree which is found along the shore close to the water's edge, with a short white stem, much branched with long, simple imbricated leaves, usually spiny on the back and margin, their base embracing the stem, their spiral arrangement being well marked. The base of the stem does not touch the ground, but rests on a cluster of strong roots, which diverge somewhat before they strike the soil. The leaves are much used for thatch roofs and the thin, compact, superficial layer serves as wrappers for the native cigarettes. The fruit is edible and is eaten by the natives in times of scarcity of food.

Flame Tree, Flamboyer.—The Brachychiton acerifolium is the Australian flame-tree introduced, as is asserted, into Tahiti by Bougainville. It is a magnificent and common shade tree in Papeete, but is also found scattered all along the coast of the island. It is an evergreen tree with showy trusses of crimson flowers. This is the most beautiful of all ornamental trees in the island. The mucilaginous sap, when exuded, indurates to a kind of bassarin—tragacanth.


The cultivation of the aromatic vanilla-bean is one of the principal industries of Tahiti. The bean grows luxuriantly in the shady forests in the lowlands along the coast, and requires but little care. The climate and soil of Tahiti are specially adapted to the cultivation of the vanilla-bean, as the very best quality is grown here. The Vanilla aromatica is a genus of parasitic Orchidaceæ, a native of tropic parts of America and Asia, which springs at first from the ground and climbs with twining stems to the height of from twenty to thirty feet on trees, sending into them fibrous roots, produced from nodes, from which the leaves grow. These roots, drawing the sap from the trees, sustain the plant, even after the ground-root has been destroyed. Flower white; corolla tubular; stigma distant from anthers, rendering spontaneous fructification difficult; leaves oblong, light green, fleshy, with an exceedingly acrid juice; flowers in spikes, very large, fleshy and generally fragrant. The fruit is a pod-like, fleshy capsule, opening along the side. The ripe bean is cylindrical, about nine inches in length, and less than half an inch thick. It is gathered before it is entirely ripe, and dried in the shade. It contains within its tough pericarp a soft black pulp, in which many minute seeds are imbedded. The plant is cultivated by cuttings. In Mexico and South American countries, the insects effect impregnation; in Tahiti, this is done artificially. With a small, sharp stick the pollen is conveyed to the stigma of the pistil. Artificial impregnation of fifteen hundred flowers is considered a good day's work. Allusion has been made elsewhere to the fact that the shrewd Chinamen have depreciated the vanilla industry in Tahiti and ruined the reputation of the product. If the natives could be induced to stop their dealings with the scheming Chinese merchants and traders, and the government would release them from export duty, the cultivation of vanilla would soon regain its former importance and would yield a very profitable income. The Tahitians are not agriculturists; they are averse to hard manual labor; they are

Of proud-lived loiterers, that never sow,

Nor put a plant in earth, nor use a plough.


and hence are anxious to obtain what little money they need with as little effort as possible. Vanilla, once planted, requires very little attention, and it grows most luxuriantly in the dark shadow of the dense forest, where the natives engaged in artificial impregnation of the flower and in gathering the bean are protected against the direct heat of the sun. The great advantage of vanilla-cultivation to the island consists in the fact that this valuable article of commerce can be grown without deforestation, so essential in the cultivation of much less valuable products of the soil of the tropics.




Papeete is not the place to study the natives, their habits and customs, as European influence and example have here largely effaced the simplicity and charms of native life. The rural districts are the places for the tourist to get glimpses of real native life. He will find there the best specimens of natives, and an opportunity to study their primitive methods of living. There is no other island of similar size where the traveler will find it so easy to visit all of the rural districts and villages. By following the ninety-mile drive, he can encircle the entire island in a comfortable carriage, and finish the trip in four days, if his time is limited, and in doing so he sees the inhabited part of the island and nearly all of the villages. He will see on this trip Paea Grotto and cave, also picnic-grounds, eighteen miles from Papeete, Papara, six miles further, is noted for native singing, chanting and dancing. The real Tahitian life is met at Pari and Tautira. On the other side of the island, the road skirts along the coast and ascends five hundred feet above the level of the sea. The drive is a charming one, as the traveler never loses the sight of mountains and hills, and only very seldom, and at long intervals, of the blue Pacific Ocean. In some places the road-bed is cut through solid rock, and for a few moments the panoramic view of the magnificent scenery is shut out from sight, but on the other side of the cut a picture more beautiful than ever is unrolled. The ocean claims the first attention as it smiles in the dazzling sunshine beneath where

The murmuring surge,

That on th' unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes.

Can not be heard so high.


In the distance we can see the foam-crested waves dash over the coral reef in their attempts to reach the placid waters of the peaceful lagoon, where the wavelets play with the pebbles on the shore. Looking toward the left, we again are face to face with the mountains, that are our constant companions, on the entire route. There is a feeling of solemnity which takes possession of the soul when communing with Nature in her grandest mood, and we begin to feel that

I live not myself, but I become

Portion of that around me; and to me

High mountains are a feeling; but the hum

Of human cities, torture.


We see the naked mountain-peaks and the bare backs of the foot-hills.

Rock-ribbed, and ancient as the sun.


We pass through magnificent groves of cocoa-palms, and now the road leads through a primeval forest with an impenetrable jungle on its floor, where

The winds within the quiv'ring branches play'd,

And dancing trees a mournful music made.


We pass through or near the quaint native villages peopled with naked children, scantily dressed women, and men whose only garment consists of a much-checkered, many-colored calico loin-cloth. We cross rivers, brooks and rivulets without number, and looking for their source we see glimpses, here and there, of cascades and cataracts, high up on the mountainside, in the form of streaks of silver in the clefts of the deep green ocean of trees. We see butterflies by the hundreds, of all colors, playing in the sunshine or eagerly devouring the nectar of the sweetest flowers. We admire the richness and variety of the floral kingdom, and inhale the perfume of the fragrant flowers, suspended in the pure air and wafted to us by the cool land breeze sent down from the top of the mountains. As the sun approaches the horizon, and the short, bewitching twilight sets in, with the gorgeous display of colors in the sky and the wonderful effects of light and shadow on sea and shore, we can realize that

Softly the evening came. The sun from the western horizon

Like a magician extended his golden wand o'er the landscape;

Twinkling vapors arose; and sky, and water, and forest.

Seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together.


The vistas and views along this circular drive are infinite; the surprises at every turn without number. No matter how much the visitor may have traveled, even if he has seen the whole world outside of this blessed island, he will see here many things he has never seen before. Every step brings new revelations of the beauty and goodness of Nature and her tender care for man. What a paradise for lovers of nature, for poets and artists! Here is a place above all others in the world, where

No tears

Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.


The further the visitor wends his way from Papeete, the more he will find the natives in their natural state, and the less contaminated by European influence. On the opposite side of the island, at Pari, the people have preserved their native customs, and live now about in the same manner as when Wallis discovered the island. Religion and civilization have liberated them from ancient barbarities, but have had little influence in changing their customs, for

Custom has an ascendency over the understanding.


All of the villages scattered at short intervals along the ninety-mile drive are small; the largest with not more than five hundred inhabitants. In Papeete, and between it and Papara, the natives live in small frame houses, built on piling several feet above the ground, covered with a roof of corrugated iron, and made more spacious and comfortable by a veranda facing the road. Few native houses are encountered on this part of the journey. Beyond Papara they are the rule, and these retain their primitive charm. They are built of upright sticks of bamboo, lashed side by side to a frame of stripped poles in the form of an oval. Upon this is a heavy roof of pandanus thatch covering a cool, well-ventilated, sanitary home. The air circulates freely through the open spaces between the poles, as well as between the two doorways on opposite sides of the house. Mats take the place of a floor.



Cooking is done outside without the use of a stove. The native oven is a very simple affair, as it consists of a layer of stones upon which a fire is built. When heated to the requisite degree—and this is a matter the experienced housewife must determine—the food is placed amid the embers, wrapped in pieces of banana leaves and covered over with piles of damp breadfruit leaves. Breadfruit, taro, green bananas and plantains, are the articles of food prepared in this way. The roasting of a pig, the favorite meat of the South Sea Islanders, is a more complicated process, and to do it well requires much experience. A hole is dug in the ground and paved with stones, upon which a fire is built. When the stones are thoroughly heated and the fire exhausted or extinguished, the whole animal, properly prepared and wrapped in leaves, is placed in the pit, covered with damp leaves and loose earth. On great festive occasions, fowl and fish are added to the contents of the pit. The pork, fowl and fish cooked in this manner are delicious, and the slightly smoky taste only adds to their savoriness. It is the pride of the cook to remove the roasted pig without mutilation, usually a very delicate task. Chicken, boiled in the milk of the cocoanut, is another masterpiece of native cookery. The cocoanut is prepared in many ways for the table and a sauce made of the compressed juice of the grated nut, mixed with lime juice and sea-water, makes a most palatable sauce for meats and fish.

House-building and housekeeping are free from care and never ruffle the family peace. If a young couple desire to establish a home of their own, they signify their intentions to their friends and neighbors. These gather, usually Sunday afternoon at two o'clock, at the place selected for the new home, bring bamboo sticks, poles and pandanus leaves, and at sundown the house is ready for occupation. The pandanus roof does efficient service for about seven years, when it has to be removed and replaced by a new one. The bamboo framework, properly protected, lasts for a much longer time. As the whole house consists of a single oval room, is floorless and not encumbered by furniture of any kind, the house-wife has an easy existence, more especially as the children can not outwear their clothing, and their husband's loin-cloths need no repairs.

While meat in Tahiti is scarce, every family has an easy access to a rich fish-supply. The fish which swarm in the lagoons and outside of the reefs furnish an easily secured food-supply. They are caught in different ways—by hook or netting—and not the least picturesque way is the torchlight fishing on the lagoon. Torches are improvised of long cocoa-palm leaves tied into rolls. With a boat-load of these, together with nets and spears, the fishermen in their canoes paddle out upon the water after dark. Flying fish, attracted by the light, shoot overhead and are dexterously caught in a hand-net. Other kinds of fish, by aid of the light, are speared over the side of the canoe. Dolphin and bonita, the latter a favorite fish, are taken with the hook and line, in larger canoes sailing on the open sea, but this kind of fishing is left to a few hardy men. The women scoop up small river-fish in baskets, and drag-nets are used in capturing the many varieties of small fish of the lagoon. While the fish are being cooked in the underground oven, some member of the family goes into the adjacent forest and in a short time returns with breadfruit, and a variety of fruits, to make up a dainty and substantial repast.

The island is divided into seventeen districts and each district has its own chief, who is entrusted with the local government. The chiefs are elected by popular vote every few years, the office being no longer hereditary. The chief resides in the principal village of his district and here is to be invariably found a government school, a Protestant and a Catholic church with its respective parochial school, and a meeting-house which serves as a gathering-place for the annual native plays and on all occasions of public concern. A daily mail supplies the rural population with the news of the island and keeps them in touch with the outside world. Abject poverty in the city and country is unknown, and begging is looked upon as a disgrace. There is neither wealth nor poverty in Tahiti. The people have all they need and all they desire, and

Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.


I am quite sure that the tourist who has tasted freely of modern life such as it now is in our large cities, with all its cares and temptations, all its unrealness and disappointments, when he has seen the happy, contented, free-from-care Tahitians, in their charming island and simple homes, will be willing to confess:

For my part, I should prefer to be always poor, in blessings such as these.



Everything that exceeds the bounds of moderation has an unstable foundation.





Every visitor to Tahiti should visit Point Venus, as it is a historic place near where the Europeans made their first landings in Matavai Bay, and where the first white settlers cast their lot with the natives. It is in this neighborhood where the English missionaries established their permanent home and from here spread the new tidings of the gospel over the entire island. They labored in vain for nearly twenty years, when all at once a religious wave swept over the island which resulted in the speedy Christianization of almost the entire population. I have already referred to Point Venus as the place where the government lighthouse is located and where Captain Cook had his headquarters when he and the scientists who accompanied him observed the transit of Venus by order of the English government in the year 1769. The place where the scientific observations were made is marked by a modest monument of stone surrounded by an iron railing, on which are inscribed the data commemorative of the work accomplished. Close by this monument, on the most prominent point, has been erected the lighthouse which guides the mariner in approaching the island during the night. The distance from Papeete to Point Venus is seven miles, over a macadamized road which we found in a somewhat neglected condition. Two native villages, Pirae and Arue, are passed on the way, and a third, Haapape, is close by. The road leads through groves of cocoa-palms, primeval forests and jungles, and a part of it skirts the foot-hills of the towering mountains. Most of the time the beautiful lagoon, dotted here and there with fishermen's canoes, is in sight. The calmness of the air, the solemnity of the surroundings and the sight of these canoes on the unruffled lagoon, reminded us of

Low stir of leaves and dip of oars

And lapsing waves on quiet shores.


Some of the more daring fishermen we saw outside of the reef, in the same frail crafts, battling with a rougher sea, but the skilled use of their very primitive paddles kept the canoes in good motion and steady, and it seemed

She walks the waters like a thing of life,

And seems to dare the elements to strife,


Matavai Bay, which the road follows for a considerable distance, is a beautiful sheet of water. It was in this bay that the ships of the early voyagers found a resting-place, and where on its shore the first white men touched the soil of Tahiti and came face to face with a people who had never heard of a world outside of the islands of the Pacific. The scenery all along this drive is truly tropical. The floral wealth is great and its variety endless. It was on this drive I found the passion-flower in full bloom and exquisite beauty.

Near Point Venus we met a gang of natives, in charge of the chief of the district, engaged in repairing the road. All except the chief were in loin-cloths as their only article of dress. They worked leisurely, and smoked and chatted in a way that showed that they were happy even when bearing the burden of the day and the scorching rays of the tropic sun, with nothing in view for their ten-o'clock breakfast but the cool mountain water instead of coffee, breadfruit or plantain (fei) for bread, and some fruit gathered in the woods on their way to work.

The round trip from Papeete to Point Venus can be made in three hours, and gives one a very excellent idea of the general topography of the island and is replete with both pleasure and profit.


The next interesting short drive from Papeete is to the Fautahua Valley, distance four miles. It is noted for delightful river scenery and tropic vegetation, and at the end of the valley is a beautiful waterfall. This charming valley, with its typical tropic scenery enclosed by towering mountains and resounding with the rippling, dashing music of a turbulent mountain stream and the babbling and murmuring of the many brooks and rivulets of pure crystal water which feed it, is well worth a visit. This valley was once densely populated, if we can judge from the abundance of imported fruit trees and the coffee shrub which now flourish in the forest unaided by the care of man, while, at the present time, the native huts are few and far apart. Wild arrowroot grows here in profusion, and a variety of exogenous shade trees have become an important component part of the primeval forest, rendered almost impenetrable by vines and a dense undergrowth. A carriage-road extends to Fashoda Bridge, well up in the mountains, beyond which it leads up the gorge, past a waterfall which leaps over a rocky rim, where the mountains join to the bed of the stream, six hundred feet below. In different places the romantic mountain road is spanned by graceful arches of branches of the pauru tree, ambitious to find on the opposite side of the road an independent existence from the parent tree. One of the large, quiet pools below the Fashoda Bridge, a favorite bathing-place for women and their daughters, has been made famous by the writings of Pierre Loti, a French author.

From Fashoda Bridge a bridle path leads up a very steep incline to the French military post in the very heart of the mountains, six thousand feet above the level of the sea. It was here that the natives made their last stand in their war with France. A little beyond the fort rise the crags which compose "the Diadem," a conspicuous landmark in the mountains of Tahiti.

The view from Fashoda Bridge in all directions is inspiring: at the end of the gorge the waterfall dashing over the volcanic rock, pulverized at many points in its descent into silvery spray; the tree-clad mountains on each side with their steeples of bare rock; beneath, the wild mountain stream, speeding to find rest in the quiet basin below; and all around, the rank vegetation which only the tropics under the most favorable conditions can grow, and above, the clear blue sky, brilliantly illuminated by the morning sun. As late as nine o'clock in the forenoon we found everything bathed in a heavy dew, which added much to the beauty and freshness of the incomparable scenery.

Near the bridge, leading a pack-mule, we met a soldier on his way to the city for supplies for the small garrison in charge of the fort. Military duty at this lone isolated station must certainly prove monotonous, as from the bridge the only way to reach the fort is either on foot or mule-back. The quietude of this peaceful valley, at the time of our visit, was disturbed by a large force of native laborers who were laying the pipes for the new city waterworks.




The village of Papara, the largest in the island, has been the acknowledged stronghold of the Tevas for centuries. Here the powerful chiefs of the clan have ruled their subjects with an inborn sense of justice until their jurisdiction and, power were curtailed by foreign intervention. For a long time the ruling house of the Tevas dominated the social and political life of the island. It was at Papara that the largest and most imposing marae was built, consisting of a huge pile of stones in the form of a truncated cone, the ruins of which still remain as a silent reminder of the political power of the Tevas lone before the white man cast his greedy eyes upon this island paradise.

The district of Papara, of which the village of about five hundred inhabitants is the seat of the local government, is the most fertile and prosperous of all the seventeen districts into which the island is at present divided. Tati Salmon, son of Ariitaimai, the famed chiefess and historian of the island, is the present chief. He was educated in London, is highly respected by the foreigners and natives alike, and owns about one-third of the island. He lives in a charming old-fashioned house, the original part of which was built more than a century ago. The house is situated at the mouth of a large mountain stream, and faces the broad lagoon hemmed in by a coral reef, over which the surf dashes from day to day and from year to year with the same regularity, with the same splashing and moaning sounds of the waves as they leap from the restless ocean beyond into the peaceful bosom of the calm lagoon.

Papara, like all of the native villages, is located on the circular road familiarly known as the ninety-mile drive. The road from Papeete to Papara, a distance of twenty miles, leads through the most picturesque and interesting part of the island. The road is a genuine chaussee, constructed at great expense by the French government, and is kept in excellent repair. For the most part it follows the coast in full view of the lagoon and the ocean beyond, and, for more than one-half of the distance, the smaller volcanic sister island, Moorea, is in sight. The mountains are constantly in sight, ceaselessly changing in their aspects with distance and change of perspective. The narrow strip of coast-land is covered with a thick layer of the most productive soil upon a foundation of rock and red volcanic earth. Vegetation everywhere is rampant and extends from the very edge of the lagoon to the naked pinnacles of the mountains. In many places the road skirts the foot-hills, and at different points the precipitous mountains rise from the bed of the lagoon, where the road-bed had to be made by blasting away a part of their firm foundation of volcanic stone.

The traveler on the whole trip is never without the companionship of the branchless, slender, graceful cocoa-palms, with their terminal crown of giant leaves, clusters of blossoms, and nuts of all sizes and stages of maturity. A stately forest of cocoa-palms like those found on the coast of Tahiti is a sight that can not fail to interest and fascinate the Northerner fresh from zero weather, snow and ice. The straight, columnar trunks, with their sail-like terminal fronds and clusters of fruit in all stages of development from the blossom to the golden yellow of the ripe nut, are objects of study and admiration which create in the visitor a strong and lasting attachment for the tropics. There is no other spot on the globe where the tourist can see larger and more beautiful palm forests than on the circular road between Papeete and Papara. The cocoa-palm is queen here, as there is no other tree among its many neighbors that has succeeded in equaling it in height. The lofty, proud head of the palm has no competitor; it is alone in that stratum of air and looks down upon the plebeian trees beneath with a sense of superiority, if not of scorn. For miles this road passes through magnificent forests of cocoa-palms, with a heavy undergrowth of guava, extending from the shore high up the foot-hills and mountainsides. The cocoa-palm is fond of salt water and thrives best when its innumerable slender, long roots can imbibe it from the briny shore.

The pandanus tree is even more partial to a soil impregnated with salt water. On this drive this tree is frequently seen, and in preference at the very brink of the coast, with the butt-end of the trunk high in the air, resting on a colonnade of numerous powerful, slightly diverging roots. Another tree omnipresent on this drive is the pauru tree, with its large leaves and charming cream-yellow, salver-shaped flowers. This tree loves the dark, shady jungles, where its tortuous branches mingle freely with the dense undergrowth and climbing plants.

The views that present themselves on this drive at every turn are simply bewitching and vary with every curve of the road. The gentle ocean breeze that fans the flushed face of the raptured traveler is lost when the road leaves the coast and plunges into a primeval forest, when

Gradual sinks the breeze

Into a perfect calm; that not a breath

Is heard to quiver through the closing wood.




As the carriage emerges from the dark shades of the forest into the dazzling sunlight in full view of the near-by ocean again.

The winds, with wonder whist,

Smoothly the waters kiss'd,

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean.


Every turn of the wheel on this winding road brings new delights. The views of mountains and ocean, the strange trees and flowers, the childlike natives and their dusky, naked children, the quaint villages, the turbulent mountain streams and the diminutive cataracts and waterfalls, framed in emerald green on the mountain-sides, enchant the eye and stimulate the mind every moment. These little waterfalls have excavated the hardest rocks and have chiseled out, in the course of centuries, crevices and caves of the strangest designs.

The floral wealth of Tahiti is immense. Mr. McDaniel, of Los Angeles, Cal., during a several-months' visit to the island, analyzed and classified two thousand different kinds of plants. Some of the flowers are gorgeous, others yield a sweet perfume which is diffused through the pure air, imparting to it the balmy character for which it has become famous. An acquaintance with these flowers suggests:

Were I, O God, in churchless lands remaining,

Far from all voice of teachers or divines,

My soul would find, in flowers of thy ordaining,

Priests, sermons, shrines.


At a sudden turn of the road a vista is disclosed that defies description. In the open roadway, brilliantly illuminated by the noonday sun, in the distance, a flame-tree, with its flowers of fire, dazzles the eyes, and its grandeur and beauty increase as we approach it, while, in a few moments, what appeared as an apparition is behind us, and the tension of vision is relieved by a long, restful look over the limitless expanse of the blue sea. I have seen the flame-tree in different countries, but the sight of this one, with its magic surroundings, made a picture of exquisite beauty which forcibly recalled the lines:

The spreading branches made a goodly show,

And full of opening blooms was ev'ry bough.


The numerous villages of land-crabs met on this drive afford amusement for the stranger, unfamiliar with this inhabitant of the coast in the tropics. The land-crabs have evidently a well-organized government in each community. Among the most important officials are the sentinels, who are always on duty, when the inhabitants of the village have left their underground habitations, to give timely notice of impending danger. With the approach of man, the whole colony is on the alert. As a matter of safety, the land-crab does not stray far away from its subterranean home. When these animals are out in the open they are never caught napping. Their large, exophthalmic eyes are never idle, and the instant danger threatens they speed to their place of safety. If you have enough patience to wait, you will find, sooner or later, two large staring eyes on a level with the hole where the animal disappeared. The land-crab is cautious, constantly on the lookout, and, on the first signal of danger, makes a rush for his or somebody else's hole.

A short distance from Papeete is a truck garden managed by Chinamen. This enterprise, the only one I noticed on the drive, demonstrates well what the soil of Tahiti is capable of producing in the way of growing vegetables. It is an ideal vegetable garden, weedless, and verdant with all kinds of vegetables. The foreign population of the city is supplied from here with lettuce, asparagus, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, turnips and melons of the choicest quality. The natives have no use for vegetables and make no attempts to raise them for the market. The guava shrub is found everywhere. It has infested the country, weed-like, and its golden fruit is not appreciated by the natives; only a very small part of the fruit is gathered for making jelly, one of the few articles of export.

This is the part of the island where the vanilla-bean is most extensively cultivated. A vanilla plantation is a jungle in which the bean thrives best. In the thick woods all along the road, the climbing bean is seen trailing up the shrubs and trees, often to a height of twenty feet. At the time of my visit the blossoms had disappeared and the green beans had reached a length of about four inches, half their length when they are ripe. A patient and prolonged search made for a flower was finally rewarded by the finding of a belated bud which, on being placed in water, expanded into a flower during the night, affording me an opportunity to study its anatomy.

Three small villages, Faaa, Punaauia and Paea, are passed on the way from Papeete to Papara, and, like all other villages, each of them had its own government school, a Catholic and a Protestant church, and, connected with these, two parochial schools. The compulsory education introduced into the island applies to children from six to sixteen years of age. The churches are well attended, but I was informed by a German, who has resided in Tahiti for thirty years, that the people attend service more as a matter of amusement than with any intention of obtaining spiritual benefit.

Nearly all of the village shops are kept by Chinamen, and it is needless to say that these shrewd foreigners take undue advantage of the simple, trusting natives, in all of their business transactions. Much of the hard-earned money of the natives finds its way into the capacious pockets of these enterprising Orientals.

We reached Papara toward evening, and, when we came in sight of the chiefery, were deeply impressed with the beauty of the location. Palm trees, flowering shrubs and garden flowers adorn the spacious grounds in front and all around the ancient mansion which is perched on an elevated plateau adjoining the large and beautiful stream of crystal mountain water, and facing the placid lagoon. An immense double war-canoe was at anchor in the river. It is now used as a fishing-boat by one of the sons of the chief, when he desires to catch the bonita outside of the lagoon. It takes seven men to manage this giant canoe, by means of paddles.

In front of the wide veranda of the one-story house is an ornamental tree which spreads its branches at least twenty feet in all directions. As it was in full bloom at the time of my visit, it added much to the beauty and comfort of the immediate surroundings in front of the house.

The rooms of the mansion are large, and brimful of local antiquities and old furniture imported from Europe, which impart to them a coziness and charm which have been greatly appreciated and gratefully remembered by many a welcome visitor. It is in a house like this, presided over by the chief of Papara and his charming family, that one can experience what genuine, unselfish hospitality means.

Twelve servants, men and women, take care of the house, the family and the visitors. Most of these were born on the place, and some of them, very old now, were in the service of the grandfather of the present chief. The relation between master and servants in this house is a very pleasant one. The servants are looked upon and treated rather as relatives than employes. Their pay is small, but they are given all the comforts of a home.

Word had been sent ahead from Papeete announcing our visit, for the purpose of securing for us the rare pleasure of partaking of a genuine native dinner. A little pig was roasted underground, and chickens were boiled in the milk of the cocoanut, exquisite dishes, which, with excellent coffee, French bread, and a variety of luscious tropical fruit, made up a dinner which it would be impossible to duplicate in any of the large cities of the continents.

The village of Papara is a most interesting place to visit. Besides the magnificent scenery, one finds here many native huts, and the town hall is a large, airy structure, built of bamboo sticks and covered with a thatched roof. Near the village are the grotto and cave, which enjoy a local reputation, and are well worth seeing by the visitor.

The sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:

At one stride conies the dark;

With far-heard whisper o'er the sea;

Off shot the spectre bark.


The day had been hot and sultry. From a cloudless sky, the tropical sun shot down, without mercy, his arrows of heat, against which the lightest and most porous headdress, umbrella, roof and shade afforded but inadequate protection. Man and beast were listless, perspiring, careful to make no unnecessary exertion. The green, succulent foliage bowed under the oppressive heat, and even the gayest of the flowers drooped their proud heads in homage to the fierce king of the serene blue sky. The very atmosphere quivered in convulsive movements, and the intense light, reflected from the surface of the sleeping ocean and the white city, dazzled and blinded those who ventured to go out into the streets. The little capital city of Papeete, nestled on the plateau between the harbor and the foot of towering mountains, half hidden among the tropic trees, was at rest; market and streets deserted, business houses closed, and the wharf silent and lifeless. The numerous miserable curs in the streets sought shelter in the shade, lying in a position affording most perfect relaxation, with protruded, blue, saliva-covered tongues, fighting the heat by increasing the respiratory movements to the utmost speed. The numerous half-wild pigs in the streets, with paralyzed tails and relaxed bristles, buried themselves as deeply as possible in the nearest mud-pool, and with eyes closed, submitted passively to the fiery rays of the midday sun. The roaming chickens, from bald chicks a few days old to the ruffled, fatless veterans of questionable age, suspended their search for rare particles of food with which to satisfy their torturing sense of hunger, and simply squatted where the heat overcame them, in the nearest shady place, there to spend the enforced siesta with bills wide open and the dry, blue tongues agitated by the rapid and violent breathing. The birds of the air ceased their frolic; their song was silenced, and they took refuge in trees with thickest foliage. Men, women and children, rich and poor, merchant and laborer, were forced to suspend work and play, and seek, in the shadow of their homes or near-by trees, protection against the onslaught of the burning rays of the sun. Such is the victory of the sun of the tropics. He demands unconditional surrender on the part of every living thing. He knows no compromise, as he is sure of victory as long as his victim is in a favorable strategic position. This was the case on the day of which I speak. As the rays of the sun became more and more oblique, and the invisible great fan of the land-breeze was set in motion, wafting down from the high mountain peaks a current of cool air, the city woke up from its midday slumber. The sun had lost his fiery power. He was retreating from the field of combat, and approaching in the distance the rim of the placid ocean. The monarch of the day, so near his cool, watery couch, laid aside his mask of fire and smiled upon the vanishing world with a face beaming with happiness and peace.

The sun was set, and Vesper, to supply

His absent beams, had lighted up the sky.


It was an evening bright and still

As ever blush'd on wave or bower,

Smiling from heaven, as if naught ill

Could happen in so sweet an hour.


The last act of the retiring monarch of the day revealed his incomparable skill as a painter. He showed discretion in the selection of the time to demonstrate to the best advantage his matchless artistic skill. He chose the evening hour, when the soul is best prepared to take flight from earthly to heavenly things. He waited until man and beast had laid aside the burden and cares of the day, and were in a receptive, contemplative mood to study and appreciate the paintings suspended from the paling blue dome of the sky.

He waited until he could hide himself from view behind the bank of fleecy clouds moving lazily in the same direction. Then he grasped the invisible palette charged with colors and tints of colors unknown to the artists of this world, and seized the mystic, gigantic brush when

The setting sun, and music at the close.

As the last taste of sweets is sweeted last,

Writ in remembrance more than things long past.


The time for this magic work was short. The moment the passing clouds veiled his face it began. From the very beginning it became apparent that the hidden artist exhibited superhuman skill. The most appreciative and scrutinizing of his admirers felt powerless to comprehend and much more to give a description of the panoramic views which he painted with such rapid succession on the sky, clouds and the dull surface of the dreamy, listless ocean. With intense interest we watched the constantly varying, artistic display, felt keenly the shortcomings of human art, and realized, to the fullest extent, the force and truth of

Who hath not proved how feebly words essay

To fix one spark of beauty's heavenly ray.




All painters place the greatest importance upon a proper background for their pictures in order to give light and shade a strong expression. So does the sun. With a few strokes of the magic brush, the deep blue of the horizon was wiped out and replaced by the palest shade of blue, so as to bring forth, in bolder relief, the resplendent colors on the moving canvas of the clouds. The artist fringed the margins of the clouds with delicate lace of shining gold. Through clefts and rents in the clouds the smiling face of the painter peeped upon the beautiful evening beyond. His work had only begun. In rapid turns the clouds were converted into a sheet of gold with a violet border that deepened into a vivid crimson hue. As the artist disappeared, inch by inch, under the limitless expanse of the ocean, he wiped out the brilliant colors on the canvas of clouds, and gilded the horizon with a sheet of gold, deepening his favorite color, yellow, into an orange hue, which remained unchanged until the approaching darkness threw a drapery of sombre black over the inspiring scene. Twilight shuns the tropics. Day lapses into night almost imperceptibly, and, with the setting of the sun, the earth is wrapped in darkness. There is no compromise in the tropics, between the rulers of day and night. With the disappearance of the last rays of the sun, the pale blue dome of the sky is decorated with millions of flickering stars, casting their feeble light upon land and sea through the immeasurable ethereal medium which separates heaven from earth.

The sun has lost his rage; his downward orb

Shoots nothing now but animating warmth

And vital lustre.


On the evening of which I speak, the short twilight foreshadowed the appearance of the heavenly advance-guard proclaiming the coming of the Queen of Night.

When the evening King gave place to night,

His beams he to his royal brother lent,

And so shone still in his reflected light.


Looking in the direction opposite from where the monarch of the day had disappeared, the cloudless sky brightened over the bare gray mountain-peak, and the stars, in joyful anticipation of the approaching event, abandoned their stoic immobility and trembled in feverish excitement. An impressive silence reigned in the little city, broken now and then by the almost noiseless footsteps of half-naked, barefoot natives, or the clattering of the hoofs of a horse and humming of the wheels of a passing cart, and, once or twice, by the whirr of the only automobile in the island, steered by an enterprising, prosperous French merchant.

Nature awoke from her noonday slumber, the glossy leaves resumed their natural shape and freshness, the drooping flowers revived, expanded and exhaled their fragrance, perfuming the evening air. The birds had found shelter and protection for the night in the leafy domes of the many beautiful shade and ornamental trees. It was solemn eveningtide, when the heart of man is most receptive for noble and pure impressions. It was the time to turn away the thoughts from the busy, selfish world and reflect upon the wonders of creation. It was the time to look upward to the calm, pale, blue sky, feebly illuminated by the soft light of countless tiny lamps suspended by invisible cords from the limitless space above. It was the time to look beyond earthly things. It was the time to understand:

The beauty of the world and the orderly arrangement of everything celestial makes us confess that there is an excellent and eternal nature, which ought to be worshiped and admired by all mankind.


We were speechless spectators of the passing and coming. Our thoughts were turned to the invisible hand that created the earth we inhabit and all of the heavenly bodies, and which directs their movements with infallible precision and unfailing regularity. We thought of things incomprehensible to man, of things far beyond the grasp of the human mind, of things known only to the Almighty Lord, Creator of all things in heaven and earth.

With our eyes fixed on the gateway of entrance of the Queen of Night, we patiently awaited her arrival, anxious, however, to catch the first glimpse of her beautiful face. No blare of trumpets or bugle call announced her approach. She rose in the sky silently, resplendent in her own magic beauty, and her charms are always sweetest when the nights are calm and peaceful. She combined beauty with two of the most attractive feminine virtues—modesty and gentleness. As we watched her regal entrance into the sky, the golden arch assumed the deep yellow hue of the precious metal it resembled, and, in a few moments, the pale rim of her sweet face rose over the dark, bald mountain-peak, and ascended slowly and majestically, higher and higher, away from earthly things, on her journey through the pathless sky. This evening she appeared in perfect glory, permitting us to look into her full, calm face. Her consort, the sun, had just disappeared, leaving behind him a golden crescent on the opposite horizon. She was following his pathway and had taken possession of his throne for the night. The departing sun and the ascending moon were in strange and pleasing contrast at the threshold of that beautiful night.

O! belle nuit! mit preferable au jour!

Premier nuit a amour consacree!

En sa faveur, prolonge ta duree,

Et du soleil retarde le retour.


The moon loves to reign in peace and quietude. She abhors the tumult of the battle-field and the struggles of man for wealth and honor. She is the friend of the wounded, the sick and the poor; and the guardian angel of all those in need of repose. As she ascended heavenward, the rippling ocean became a great mirror, a mirror worthy to reflect her beautiful face. The soft, pale light streaming out from the silvery orb cast phantom-like shadows in the forests, parks and streets. Solemnity reigned supreme.

On seas, on earth, and all that in them dwell,

A death-like and deep silence fell.


Happy the people who respect and love the Queen of Night and her reign of peace and rest! Charming Queen! Retard your journey, prolong your peaceful mission for the well-being of your loyal subjects so much in need of your calming influence and of your soft, soothing light! To such petitions the goddess of the sky has only one inflexible reply: "The universe is my kingdom, the earth you live in is only one of my smallest possessions. I must remain loyal to all of my realms."



This evening in Tahiti had another and still more sublime entertainment in store for us, a spectacle which can be seen in perfection only in the tropics, and, I imagine, Tahiti is the stage more perfect than any other in the world for the display of one of nature's grandest exhibitions. The soft light of the rising moon and the myriads of tiny, flickering stars furnished the illumination; the mountains, forests, harbor and ocean, the stage. We were roused from our reverie by distant peals of thunder. Looking in the direction whence these reports came, we saw black, angry clouds hovering about the mountain-peaks to the south and east of Papeete. The clouds were too heavy for the rarified mountain air and soon began to descend slowly but steadily until they wrapped the towering summits in a cloak of sombre black. The mountain-peaks, which but a short time before were caressed by the gentle, silvery light of the moon, were now completely obscured. Where did these clouds come from? No one could tell. No one could mistake their movements. They appeared to have had only one object in view, and that was to embrace the mountain-range well below the tree-line. Smaller clouds, fragments from the main mass, moving more swiftly in the evening air, impelled by the land-breeze, floated away from the dark wall enveloping the mountainsides, which seemed to possess some subtle, magnetic power buried in the Immense piles of volcanic rocks. At short intervals, great zigzag chains of lightning shot through these dark clouds, momentarily lighting up the dark, unbroken, primeval forest. These dazzling, blinding flashes of lightning were in strong contrast with the soft, tropic moonshine that remained outside of the limits of the aerial sea of clouds, which had commenced to discharge a drenching rain. Fleecy little wandering clouds now flecked the horizon, strangely and variously painted by the moonlight, shortly before the midnight hour. Through fissures in these fleeting, snowy clouds, the moon and stars often peeped at the grand spectacle which was being enacted on the stage below. Lightning and thunder came nearer and nearer with the approach of the weeping mass of clouds. The bolts of lightning must have found their marks with unerring precision in the crags and forest underneath the roof of dense clouds, as from there came at short intervals deafening peals of thunder reverberating through the calm evening air far out over the surface of the sleeping ocean, where the reverberations died out in a faint rumbling.

This majestic but awesome sight was of short duration. The pouring rain relieved the clouds of their abnormal weight, and, balloon-like, they rose, clearing the mountain-range, which then again made its appearance in the soft, bewitching moonlight of the tropics. Lightning and thunder retreated with the disappearance of the clouds. The atmosphere was cool and refreshing, purified by the pouring rain and the furious electric storm. At this stage of the nightly display in our immediate vicinity, in front of the veranda of the little hotel, in full view of the now deserted stage, from the clear, cloudless sky, gigantic drops of rain fell, sparkling in the magic moonlight like diamonds that had become loosened and had fallen from the jeweled crown of the Queen of Night, whose throne had then reached the zenith of the horizon.

Instead of wishing for an encore after such a brilliant act given by nature's artists, we took one more and last look at the serene, smiling, full face of the moon, and were then prepared to acknowledge reverently:

What else is nature but God, and divine reason, residing in the whole world and its parts.



The South Sea Islanders have beautiful words of welcome with which they meet the stranger. The Samoan greets you with talofa; the Hawaiian, with a clear, musical voice, welcomes you with aloha nui; and the Tahitian, with an open, friendly face and a smile, when he meets you, addresses you with that beautiful greeting, iorana. These euphonious words mean more than the words of our language intended for the same purpose; they come from the heart and are addressed to the heart much more so than our "Welcome," "How do you do?" "How are you?" or "I am glad to see you." These Polynesian words are not only words of welcome, but carry with them the best wishes of the natives for the stranger; they signify not only a formality, but also express a sincerity which is so often lacking in our conventional meetings with friends and strangers. The visitor who remains long enough in Tahiti to become acquainted with the natives will find that their greeting, iorana, is verified by their actions. The natives, educated and ignorant, young and old, are polite, friendly and hospitable to a fault. They are fond of making little gifts to strangers, and if these are reciprocated, they are really and honestly grateful. The people are charming, the island beautiful, and nature's storehouse never empty of the choicest that the sea can supply and the soil can produce. Any one who has seen Tahiti, the Island Paradise, on leaving it, and ever after, in recalling his experiences and observations in this island of peace, rest, charms and pleasures, will give expression to his feelings by repeating to himself.

Isle of Beauty!

Absence makes the heart grow fonder:

Isle of Beauty, fare thee well!





The waves that touch thy pebbly beach

With soft, caressing hand;

The scented breezes winging past

Above thy favored land;

The brilliant flowers, the glowing fruits,

Close to thy bosom pressed,

All, all are singing one sweet song,

Whose soft refrain is, Rest!

The sunset brush that tints thy skies

With wondrous, varied rays;

The birds that fill thy woodland haunts

With music's roundelays;

The sparkling streams meandering through

Thy valleys ever blest.

All, all are breathing one sweet song.

Whose soft refrain is, Rest!

The twilight hour that floods the soul

With waves of perfect calm.

Then gives us to the Queen of Night,

Who pours her soothing balm;

The still lagoon with coral reefs

Where beauty makes its nest.

All, all are breathing one sweet song.

Whose soft refrain is, Rest!

O Isle of Beauty! poets may

Dip pens in wells of light,

Or soar aloft on Fancy's wings

In wild, aerial flight;

But they can never voice thy charms,

O Island of the Blest!

Whose very air is perfumed with

The fragrance rare of Rest!

O Isle of Beauty! artists may

Coax every varied hue,

To lay upon the canvas wide

A portrait true of you;

But till they borrow heaven's power

To paint thee. Island Blest,

The task is vain, O Land of Peace,

Whose every breeze sings Rest!

Where man knows all the blissful charm

Of care-free, deep content;

Where life seems one long holiday

In childish gladness spent;

Where earth and air and sea and sky

So close to God seem pressed;

Ah, loath am I to turn from thee.

Dear Land of Perfect Rest!





I wish peace, and any terms prefer

Before the last extremities of war.


In one of the far-off isles of the South Seas, in the garden-spot of the Pacific, in golden Tahiti, about the year 1848, when Victoria was a young queen and mother, when France was in the throes of a second revolution, when the United States, a young republic, was still on trial before the old world, there was enacted one of the most touching dramas history has ever recorded, and this among a people considered savages by the so-called civilized world, and almost unknown until discovered through the missionary fervor of a few priests. The place, a small island, only a speck on the map; the dramatis personæ, France, England and America, the hereditary chiefs of a people who for forty generations had known no other rulers, a weak, vacillating native queen, and a noble-hearted native woman who knew how to be at the same time a loyal subject, a skilled diplomat, and that rarer and more beautiful thing, a faithful friend. If you would hear a story of friendship pure and undefiled, listen to the story of Ariitaimai of Papara, a Tahitian of noble birth, a child of Nature in its wildest and grandest aspect, rocked in a gigantic cradle of sea, sky and towering mountains, in a land of palm forests, where Nature has provided everything necessary to the life of her children, and where the pearls are the purest. If Cicero had known the story of Ariitaimai he would not have written in De Amicitia: "But where will you find one who will not prefer to friendship, public honors and power, one who will prefer the advancement of his friend in public office to his own? For human nature is too weak to despise power." But to understand this thrilling and eventful drama, we must listen first to the chorus reciting something of the history of this strange people, and of the position of woman in a land where suffrage societies are unknown, and where the story of the inequality of the sexes had never been told by book or priest. Tahiti, Matea and Moorea are known as the Windward Islands of the Society Group in the South Seas. The Leeward Islands comprise the four kingdoms, Huahine, Borabora, Raiatea and Tahaa, together with some smaller islands, and are about one hundred and twenty miles from Tahiti. But it has always been in Tahiti, the gem of the Pacific, that the interest has been centered, and it was here that the struggle took place between the English and the French for supremacy in the South Seas.

[1] This chapter is the product of the fertile pen of Dr. Lucy Waite. Surgeon-in-Chief of the Mary Thompson Hospital, Chicago.

It was in 1769 that Captain Cook entered Matavai Bay on his first voyage to observe the transit of Venus. This spot is marked by a stone monument and has been known ever since as Point Venus. At this time Cook estimated the number of inhabitants at two hundred thousand. To-day, after the long contention between the French and English for supremacy, after the brave struggle of the natives against both for independence, after all the ravages made by the diseases introduced by foreigners, and after years of a fearful mortality caused by the enervating effect of civilization upon a people suited only to be children of Nature, this goodly number has been reduced to a pitiful eleven thousand. In fact, our so-called nineteenth century civilization has succeeded in practically exterminating a people who could produce a pearl among womankind, a rare and tender soul, such an one as English history does not give us, and France has produced but one, her own Jeanne D'Arc.

The government of the island has always been by chiefs and chiefesses, no distinction of sex being made in laws of inheritance, the eldest born inheriting the rank and estates and all the authority which the title of chief conveys. Many of the chiefesses appear to have been exceedingly warlike, true Amazons, contending with neighboring chiefs for more authority and extensive possessions. Even as wives of the chiefs, women went to war to help fight the battles of their husbands and clans. It is reported of one of the Pomares who was of a peaceful disposition that in one hotly contested encounter he fled to a neighboring island, leaving his wife Iddeah to face the storm. History says that she was a great warrior and carried the contest to a successful issue for her husband and their possessions. It is recorded of another chief that he was not a warrior and left the active campaigning to his wife. So it will be seen that in the political life of Tahiti sex was not considered. Accident of birth settled the title, and the warlike spirit miade the warrior, whether it resided in chief or chiefess. England took a hand in the island politics at a time when one of the weakest and most unpopular chiefs was warring for the supremacy, and by assisting and upholding his authority prolonged one of the most disastrous wars in the history of Tahiti. The Tahitians detested tyranny and the insolence of a single ruler, and in their tribal system of chiefs had a protection against despotism which the foreigners, by their advocacy of the cause of a special chief, afterwards Pomare I., destroyed.

Before the invasion of the English, the hereditary chief of each district held absolute sway in his own province. Questions of common interest were settled in the island councils by majority vote, and it was in these deliberations that the chiefs of Papara had for generations held the balance of political power. Politically, the change was disastrous. In olden times whenever a single chief became arrogant and threatened to destroy the rest, all the others united to overthrow him and thus re-established the political equilibrium.

Ariitaimai belonged to the Clan of Tevas, of the chiefery of Papara, and the family of Tati. She belonged to the clan which was ruled by Opuhara, the last of the heathen chiefs who went down in the conflict with Pomare II., who with the help of English guns was made absolute monarch of the island. This conflict between Opuhara and the English, because Pomare was only an instrument in their hands to accomplish the conquest of the island, is responsible for the bitter hatred of the genuine natives for the foreigners and the missionaries.

Opuhara was considered the greatest warrior and hero of the Tevas, and his death, the result of a stratagem on the part of Pomare and the English missionaries, is considered by his people a veritable assassination. He fell by a shot fired by a native missionary convert. Tati, one of the under-chiefs of Papara, had been persuaded by the English to approach Opuhara to negotiate with him for submission. But Opuhara turned on him with scorn. "Go, traitor," he said; "shame on you! you, whom I knew as my eldest brother, I know no more; and to-day I call this my spear, 'Ourihere,' brotherless. Beware of it, for if it meet you hereafter, it meets you as a foe. I, Opuhara, have stood as Arii in Mona Temaiti, bowing to no other Gods but those of my fathers. There I shall stand to the end; and never shall I bow to Pomara or to the Gods forced on us by the white-faced man." With Opuhara perished the last hope of the native patriots to preserve a government of chiefs. His dying words were all that was left to his clan of the glory and power of Papara. "My children, fight to the last! It is noon, and I, Opuhara, the ti of Mona Temaiti, am broken asunder!" He fell a martyr to his belief in the heathen gods, and in the ancient inherited rights of his people: a tribal government. His followers have always firmly believed that Opuhara would have won the contest had not the missionaries brought their guns along with their Bibles.

It was this belief that Ariitaimai inherited with the beautiful lands of Papara. She says in her memoirs: "I am told that Opuhara's spear, 'Brotherless Ourihere,' is now in the Museum of the Louvre. Even in those days there were among all his warriors only two who could wield it. If the missionaries have sometimes doubted whether the natives rightly understood the truths and blessings of Christianity, perhaps one reason may be that the Tevas remember how the missionaries fought for Pomare and killed Opuhara."

Marama, the mother of Ariitaimai, was a celebrated chiefess in her own right, the sole heir of Marama, the head chief of Moorea, the nearest island to Tahiti. She was a great heiress, and the last representative of the sacred families of these two islands. She was given in marriage, as a political compromise and at the special request of King Pomare, to Tati's son, the head chief of Tahiti. It was also agreed that all issue of the marriage should become the adopted children of Pomare, according to an ancient Tahitian custom. The family is a great institution in Tahiti and any one whose parents both by birth and adoption had been carried to the family Marae with offerings to the gods, enjoyed a rare social distinction. This Ariitaimai could claim, so from her birth she was looked upon by the islanders as an especially favored and much-to-be-treasured maiden. It may be that this great respect shown towards her by the entire people did much to mold her character. The Tahitian mother has little to say in regard to the training of her first-born, as this one is considered to belong to the family as a whole, and all questions of general interest are settled in family council. And so it was with Ariitaimai. She saw little of her mother, but was in constant touch with the family chiefs from whom, no doubt, she learned lessons in diplomacy, and from listening to their councils she acquired that rare good judgment which fitted her later to be the accepted advisor of her teachers. She mastered both the French and the English languages, and her memoirs show a wonderful knowledge of the literature of both countries, as well as a wide and comprehensive reading of classical authors. While Ariitaimai was growing to womanhood, the pride and special care of the chiefs of Papara, another maiden was receiving equal care and attention on a neighboring island. Aimata of Raiatea, the daughter of Pomare II., was only nine years old when her father died and she was given into the care of the head chief Uata, who was a good and learned man.



These two young girls who were destined to play such an important rôle in the history of their country, grew up under much the same influences and developed characters as widely different as the antipodes. They saw each other only occasionally until Aimata's mother sent one day for Ariitaimai to make a long visit at the royal castle, as was the custom among the islanders, as Pomare had claimed her as his adopted daughter according to the ante-natal contract. Here blossomed and grew the friendship which was destined later to save to Pomare IV. her throne, and to deliver Tahiti from a war which could only have resulted in the extermination of the native population and the destruction of the island as an independent government. The real struggle between France and England for the possession of the island began in 1836, when two French priests landed at Tahiti to convert not the pagans to Christianity but Protestant Christians to the Roman faith. Aimata now become Pomare IV., promptly ordered their arrest and expulsion. The French priests made a protest to their government and Louis Philippe sent a frigate to Papeete, the harbor city, with an ultimatum, and the Queen was obliged to yield. The English consul and the missionaries contested the occupation of the French, and another frigate was sent to Tahiti. Queen Pomare now appealed to Queen Victoria and offered to submit to a British protectorate. She also sent a protest to the government of the United States, against allowing the French to forcibly occupy Tahiti. But the English Queen was busy with more important home affairs, and neglected the appeal from the little island so far away, and the protest to the United States was apparently ignored. By a lack of appreciation of the Queen's communication, the United States lost the control of the gem of all the Pacific isles, and lost also a rare opportunity to aid and protect a brave people in their struggle for independence. This attitude of England and the United States left the contest to be settled between the natives and the French. After a desultory war lasting over four long, miserable years, with the advantage first on one side and then on the other, the French government decided to end the matter and sent two frigates to the island. The government had offered previously to this to place Pomare permanently on the throne under a French protectorate, but she would not consent to this, looking constantly for help from the English who had done so much for her father. So she left Tahiti, the scene of the contest, and fled to Raiatea to her own family for protection, while waiting for the help which never came.

Ariitaimai, in her own beautiful home at Papara, pondered over the wretched state of her beloved country and her heart was sore both for her idolized friend and poor bleeding Tahiti. Was there no way out of this Slough of Despond into which the foreigners had plunged her unhappy country? She knew the temper of the island chiefs and that they had sworn to die fighting for the independence of their country. She remembered the fate of Tati, who had been branded a traitor with Opuhara's last breath because he counseled submission to the English, and she dared not propose to them any compromising measures. She looked out despairingly over the trackless sea, and appealingly up at the towering mountains which had been her companions during prosperity and adversity, but no answer came to her anxious questionings. Then suddenly, one day, word was brought to her by an old woman of her clan that two French frigates had landed in the harbor of Tahiti. She knew this meant the end, unless Queen Pomare could be persuaded to return to Tahiti and accept the offer of the French. The old crone who had brought her the news said to her: "Don't you know that you are the first in the Island, and that it remains in your hands to save all this and your land?" Then Ariitaimai hesitated no longer, but hastened to the governor and told him what she had heard. He replied: "You have heard the truth. The colonel commanding the troops has heard of so many instances of insult given to the French that we have decided at last to go out and finish up the affair." This brusque answer aroused in Ariitaimai all the stored-up energy of years. She became immediately the diplomatic representative of her people, and begged the governor to give her a few days that she might see the chiefs and make at least an effort to avert the terrible havoc to lives and property which this would cause. Ariitaimai was well known to the governor, and although evidently amused that a young woman should take upon herself this difficult task, readily consented. Like two generals they sat down and talked over all the terms of the peace; the governor agreeing to restore Pomare to her throne if she would return immediately, and to leave the chiefs in possession of their estates and control each of his own chiefery, all to be under the protection of the French flag. This, he said, they were willing to do, although the Queen had broken her written agreement with them, and by deserting her country and throne had absolved them from all obligations to her. Before the conclusion of the interview Ariitaimai had won the respect and admiration of the governor, and from that time on they worked together to bring about a peaceable settlement of the long and disastrous war. The journey which she was obliged to make in order to meet the chiefs in council was a long one, and while she was making her preparations the governor's own aid-de-camp arrived ready to accompany her, bringing the governor's horses and all necessary passports. She says in her memoirs: "I knew that my influence with the natives would be sufficient to save us from any trouble with them." Arrived at last at the principal native fort where the chiefs were assembled, her first act showed her the accomplished diplomat. She sent a trusty messenger for Nuutere, the one whose influence against peace she most feared, and who with the other chief, Teaatoro, practically controlled the situation. When he came out to see her she took him by the hand and said: "My object in coming here is to bring peace, and I have counted on you for the sake of old friendship to be my speaker in this trying instance." She quaintly adds: "He was very much perplexed at this," evidently not understanding why she could not speak for herself as she had often done before. But to her surprise Ariitaimai found the old chief very much broken in spirit and quite ready to listen to her arguments for peace, and she soon had his promise to speak for the acceptance of the governor's proposition. Human nature is very much the same the world over, whether encased in a brown skin or white. Nuutere called Teaatoro to him, and, after a hasty consultation, came over and whispered to Ariitaimai that Teaatoro would be all right. This practically settled the matter, but as in all political assemblies the usual formalities must be gone through with and Nuutere called upon each one of the chiefs for his opinion. The speakers all teemed with love and admiration for my heroine and I can not refrain from making some quotations. Nuutere, after stating the object of the meeting, called upon Teaatoro to make the first speech. He said: "We are all as one person in this meeting, and we have suffered together as brothers. We have heard what the object of this lone woman's visit amongst us is, solely for our good and that of our children. What can we say to this? We can only return her one answer, which is to thank her for the trouble and danger she has taken upon herself, for the peace she has brought, and she must return to the French commander with this our answer. We have been five months on the point of starvation. We lost a great many of our men at Tamavao. The best of our blood was spilled at Mahaena. At Piha-e-atata, our young men were slain. Our Queen left us in the midst of our troubles without the least sorrow for us. We have heard no more of the help which was promised us by Great Britain." Another chief rose and said: "Ariitaimai, you have flown amongst us, as it were, like the two birds of Ruataa and Teena. You have brought the cooling medicine of vainu into the hearts of the chiefs. Our hearts yearn for you and we can not in words thank you; you have brought us the best of all goods, which is peace. You have done this when you thought we were in great trouble, and ran the risk of losing our lives and property. Your people will prove to you in the future that your visit will always remain in their memory." The old chief of her own district turned toward Ariitaimai and said only: "As you are my head, my eyes, my hands and my feet, what more can I say? What you have decided we accept and will carry out." One dissenting voice only was heard, a young chief who had but lately come into his possessions and was anxious to distinguish himself as a warrior. He called out in a loud voice: "Why have you decided upon this peace so soon? Tahiti is not broken asunder. We could play with the French until we could get aid of Great Britain, who has formally promised to help us through in this war. I think you have all done wrong." But the young man had his lesson to learn and it was promptly taught him by Ariitaimai's spokesman. The spirit of young America is not appreciated in Tahiti, where reverence for age and worship of the ancestors is a vital part of the native pagan religion. Nuutere turned on the young man and asked: "Where were you, that consider yourself such a fighting man, in the fights which have already happened? I have never perceived you ahead of the others. You do not excel the youngest of our men in all of these battles. What are you known as in the annals of the country which allows you to get up and speak when your chiefs have already given the word?" Ariitaimai set out immediately on her return trip, this time escorted by ten of the chiefs. Although they made all possible haste the time had already expired before they reached the governor's headquarters, and preparations were being made to attack one of the native forts, the officers having concluded that her errand had been a failure. The governor, seeing her at a distance, rode out to meet her and helped her from her horse. He asked her anxiously in Tahitian, "Is it peace?" and she replied that it was peace and that everything was all right with the chiefs. He held her hand as he said with great feeling: "The Tahitians should never forget you; but your work is not finished. You must now go to Raiatea and bring us back the Queen." So Ariitaimai started on her second and more difficult errand. At first Queen Pomare refused to receive her, sending word that she was told that she had gone over to the French; but later she granted her an interview in which she cried very much, upbraiding her friend for the stand she had taken, and accusing her of betraying her interests to the French.

The Queen then sent for the chiefs of her own family with whom she had taken refuge, and, after a prolonged conference, they advised her not to return. She said to Ariitaimai: "I trust to the word of Great Britain, who has promised us to send ships and men to fight our cause and to keep us an independent state, and I will not return and be under the French." So after repeated pleading poor Ariitaimai was obliged to return to the governor with Pomare's answer. He was much disappointed but said as the chiefs of Tahiti had agreed to peace and as he had nothing to do with the chiefs of Raiatea they must decide on another monarch, and offered to make Ariitaimai queen of Tahiti in Pomare's place. But this the faithful friend would not listen to, and begged the governor to allow her again to see Pomare, as she believed that when she had had time to think the matter over she would change her mind. To this the governor very reluctantly consented, as he was entirely out of patience with Pomare, and would much have preferred to make Ariitaimai queen, which could have been done with great propriety, as she was at that time the head chiefess of the island. After a stormy trip she arrived again at Raiatea and this time was fortunate enough to find her friend Aimata alone, the chiefs having gone to an assembly to consult over the affairs of their own island. This time our faithful ambassadress did not hasten her visit. She renewed and strengthened the ties of friendship which had bound them together since their early girlhood, and she records in her memoirs that they had a beautiful visit together before any mention was made of the real object of her coming. The charming way in which she speaks in her memoirs of Pomare's flight shows the tenderness of her affection for her friend. She says, calling her by her girlhood name: "The unfortunate Aimata had troubles of every sort, domestic, political, private and public, until at last the missionaries English and French, fought so violently for control of her and the island that she was fairly driven away." With all her acuteness and learning in other matters, she seems to have had no realization of the true character of the woman she so beautifully idealized. She still saw in the Queen the qualities she loved in the young girl, and her affection blinded her to the defects in her friend's character which entirely unfitted her for the position she occupied. Events do not move as rapidly in Tahiti as in America, and our young diplomat, having the governor's promise to await her return, took her own time. She remained with the Queen two months and had the satisfaction of returning home with her promise to sail for Tahiti as soon as her favorite schooner Ana could be made ready. But, before sailing, another idea took possession of the unreasonable woman and she sent word to the Tahitian chiefs that as the English had brought her to Raiatea she would return only in an English ship, and demanded that one be sent to fetch her.

This unexpected and preposterous demand plunged poor Ariitaimai into the deepest grief. For the first time a note of complaint of her friend appears in her memoirs. The French governor laughed at the demands of Pomare and again offered the throne to Ariitaimai, and argued long to prove to her that it was her duty to accept it. Where in history is the woman who would not now have felt that she had exhausted all the demands of friendship, who would not by this time have been tempted by the dazzling prospect of a throne, upheld by a powerful governor who had become her devoted friend and admirer, to be surrounded by chiefs who had already accepted her leadership, and who, for years, had held her position among them as chief ess as a sacred trust? But no ambitious dreams disturbed the clear judgment of this simple-minded woman. She had set herself a task and her only ambition was to accomplish it. Not for one moment did the loyal woman waver in her devotion to her friend. She refused absolutely to entertain a thought of the queenship, and retired to her country home almost in despair. She says very simply in her memoirs: "We then remained at home in great trouble and did not know what was to be done next. The governor on several occasions offered to make me the sovereign of the island in place of Pomare, which, however, I could not entertain." It is in this simple and childlike manner she describes all the events in this perplexing situation. Not by one word does she anywhere intimate that she is doing anything extraordinary or praiseworthy or more than her simple duty.

She was not allowed to remain long inactive. Word came to her that the governor and chiefs were getting very restless and impatient at the unsettled state of the island politics and had decided not to negotiate further with the Pomares; and, moreover, that a document to this effect had been already drawn up and practically agreed upon. This roused her again to see the governor; and this time Fate put a powerful weapon in her hands. Just as she was leaving her home an old native preacher came along and secretly gave her a letter from her beloved Aimata. She wrote that she was sorry that she had not come back when she promised, that she was much distressed at the news from Tahiti, that she was an unhappy woman and, if not too late, she would surely come back if her faithful friend would come for her. Happy Ariitaimai fairly flew to the governor. What after all if it should be too late! She had never gone to the governor with so much fear and trepidation, and her fears were in no way lessened by his reception of her request that she be allowed to go once more to Raiatea and make a last effort to bring back the Queen. This request for the first time irritated the governor toward her. He said: "Have you not done enough for the Pomares that you should continue to go down to fetch them?" and he showed her the document which she had heard of but which was much worse than she supposed, as it proposed to break up the act of protectorate that had been already made and distinctly stated that as Ariitalmai had refused to be made queen he would make the island a French colony at once. But with that precious letter in her bosom she would not be thwarted in her purpose, and did not leave the governor until she had received his very grudging permission to see Pomare and, if she consented to return, to take her to Moorea and let him know. With this she was obliged to be contented. More she could not accomplish without divulging the secret of her letter, and this, she argued, would be disloyal to her friend; for was it not a secret letter sent to her at great risk? No, she would accomplish her purpose without humiliating her Queen. Pomare should return at the request of the governor without losing aught of her queenly dignity.

And now this little drama draws rapidly to a close. Ariitaimai made her third trip to Raiatea and accompanied Pomare to Moorea, and sent word to the governor that he would find them there. Obedient to this gently expressed command of his ambassadress, the governor very courteously went to Moorea in person to receive the Queen and bring her back to her home and throne. In the same dispassionate style Ariitaimai tells of the homeward journey: "As we all went on board a salute was fired. We sailed around the island, flying the protectorate flag at the fore, to inform the people of these islands that their Queen had returned. We then continued our route for Papeete and on arriving there the forts from the shore saluted the flag." But O! the irony of Fate! As they entered the harbor what a sight met the eyes of the poor Queen! Both British and American ships were anchored there, having come at last in answer to her appeals, but only in time to see her placed on her throne by the grace of the hated French, But peace had been bought too dearly to be broken now even by this vacillating queen, and the British and American officers, seeing the situation, had the good sense to assist in the general festivities celebrating the long-looked-for peace. The memoirs conclude with this simple statement: "The Queen remained several hours on board the steamer as the governor wished the natives to see that the Queen had really come back. There were soldiers in line on shore to receive us and we were conducted to the governor's house. The peace of the island was then decided upon. On arriving at the governor's house we found all the commanders of the troops and vessels there and before them I was thanked by Governor Bruat for what I had done for my country."

When a world of men

Could not prevail with all their oratory

Yet hath a woman's kindness overruled.







Hellenica World - Scientific Library