In the South Seas
Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 2 out of 5

reformed at all, with prudence. This French business, on the other
hand, is a nostrum and a mere excrescence. No native industry was
to be encouraged: the poison is solemnly imported. No native
habit was to be considered: the vice has been gratuitously
introduced. And no creature profits, save the Government at
Papeete--the not very enviable gentlemen who pay them, and the
Chinese underlings who do the dirty work.


The history of the Marquesas is, of late years, much confused by
the coming and going of the French. At least twice they have
seized the archipelago, at least once deserted it; and in the
meanwhile the natives pursued almost without interruption their
desultory cannibal wars. Through these events and changing
dynasties, a single considerable figure may be seen to move: that
of the high chief, a king, Temoana. Odds and ends of his history
came to my ears: how he was at first a convert to the Protestant
mission; how he was kidnapped or exiled from his native land,
served as cook aboard a whaler, and was shown, for small charge, in
English seaports; how he returned at last to the Marquesas, fell
under the strong and benign influence of the late bishop, extended
his influence in the group, was for a while joint ruler with the
prelate, and died at last the chief supporter of Catholicism and
the French. His widow remains in receipt of two pounds a month
from the French Government. Queen she is usually called, but in
the official almanac she figures as 'Madame Vaekehu, Grande
Chefesse.' His son (natural or adoptive, I know not which),
Stanislao Moanatini, chief of Akaui, serves in Tai-o-hae as a kind
of Minister of Public Works; and the daughter of Stanislao is High
Chiefess of the southern island of Tauata. These, then, are the
greatest folk of the archipelago; we thought them also the most
estimable. This is the rule in Polynesia, with few exceptions; the
higher the family, the better the man--better in sense, better in
manners, and usually taller and stronger in body. A stranger
advances blindfold. He scrapes acquaintance as he can. Save the
tattoo in the Marquesas, nothing indicates the difference of rank;
and yet almost invariably we found, after we had made them, that
our friends were persons of station. I have said 'usually taller
and stronger.' I might have been more absolute,--over all
Polynesia, and a part of Micronesia, the rule holds good; the great
ones of the isle, and even of the village, are greater of bone and
muscle, and often heavier of flesh, than any commoner. The usual
explanation--that the high-born child is more industriously
shampooed, is probably the true one. In New Caledonia, at least,
where the difference does not exist, has never been remarked, the
practice of shampooing seems to be itself unknown. Doctors would
be well employed in a study of the point.

Vaekehu lives at the other end of the town from the Residency,
beyond the buildings of the mission. Her house is on the European
plan: a table in the midst of the chief room; photographs and
religious pictures on the wall. It commands to either hand a
charming vista: through the front door, a peep of green lawn,
scurrying pigs, the pendent fans of the coco-palm and splendour of
the bursting surf: through the back, mounting forest glades and
coronals of precipice. Here, in the strong thorough-draught, Her
Majesty received us in a simple gown of print, and with no mark of
royalty but the exquisite finish of her tattooed mittens, the
elaboration of her manners, and the gentle falsetto in which all
the highly refined among Marquesan ladies (and Vaekehu above all
others) delight to sing their language. An adopted daughter
interpreted, while we gave the news, and rehearsed by name our
friends of Anaho. As we talked, we could see, through the landward
door, another lady of the household at her toilet under the green
trees; who presently, when her hair was arranged, and her hat
wreathed with flowers, appeared upon the back verandah with
gracious salutations.

Vaekehu is very deaf; 'merci' is her only word of French; and I do
not know that she seemed clever. An exquisite, kind refinement,
with a shade of quietism, gathered perhaps from the nuns, was what
chiefly struck us. Or rather, upon that first occasion, we were
conscious of a sense as of district-visiting on our part, and
reduced evangelical gentility on the part of our hostess. The
other impression followed after she was more at ease, and came with
Stanislao and his little girl to dine on board the Casco. She had
dressed for the occasion: wore white, which very well became her
strong brown face; and sat among us, eating or smoking her
cigarette, quite cut off from all society, or only now and then
included through the intermediary of her son. It was a position
that might have been ridiculous, and she made it ornamental; making
believe to hear and to be entertained; her face, whenever she met
our eyes, lighting with the smile of good society; her
contributions to the talk, when she made any, and that was seldom,
always complimentary and pleasing. No attention was paid to the
child, for instance, but what she remarked and thanked us for. Her
parting with each, when she came to leave, was gracious and pretty,
as had been every step of her behaviour. When Mrs. Stevenson held
out her hand to say good-bye, Vaekehu took it, held it, and a
moment smiled upon her; dropped it, and then, as upon a kindly
after-thought, and with a sort of warmth of condescension, held out
both hands and kissed my wife upon both cheeks. Given the same
relation of years and of rank, the thing would have been so done on
the boards of the Comedie Francaise; just so might Madame Brohan
have warmed and condescended to Madame Broisat in the Marquis de
Villemer. It was my part to accompany our guests ashore: when I
kissed the little girl good-bye at the pier steps, Vaekehu gave a
cry of gratification, reached down her hand into the boat, took
mine, and pressed it with that flattering softness which seems the
coquetry of the old lady in every quarter of the earth. The next
moment she had taken Stanislao's arm, and they moved off along the
pier in the moonlight, leaving me bewildered. This was a queen of
cannibals; she was tattooed from hand to foot, and perhaps the
greatest masterpiece of that art now extant, so that a while ago,
before she was grown prim, her leg was one of the sights of Tai-o-
hae; she had been passed from chief to chief; she had been fought
for and taken in war; perhaps, being so great a lady, she had sat
on the high place, and throned it there, alone of her sex, while
the drums were going twenty strong and the priests carried up the
blood-stained baskets of long-pig. And now behold her, out of that
past of violence and sickening feasts, step forth, in her age, a
quiet, smooth, elaborate old lady, such as you might find at home
(mittened also, but not often so well-mannered) in a score of
country houses. Only Vaekehu's mittens were of dye, not of silk;
and they had been paid for, not in money, but the cooked flesh of
men. It came in my mind with a clap, what she could think of it
herself, and whether at heart, perhaps, she might not regret and
aspire after the barbarous and stirring past. But when I asked
Stanislao--'Ah!' said he, 'she is content; she is religious, she
passes all her days with the sisters.'

Stanislao (Stanislaos, with the final consonant evaded after the
Polynesian habit) was sent by Bishop Dordillon to South America,
and there educated by the fathers. His French is fluent, his talk
sensible and spirited, and in his capacity of ganger-in-chief, he
is of excellent service to the French. With the prestige of his
name and family, and with the stick when needful, he keeps the
natives working and the roads passable. Without Stanislao and the
convicts, I am in doubt what would become of the present regimen in
Nuka-hiva; whether the highways might not be suffered to close up,
the pier to wash away, and the Residency to fall piecemeal about
the ears of impotent officials. And yet though the hereditary
favourer, and one of the chief props of French authority, he has
always an eye upon the past. He showed me where the old public
place had stood, still to be traced by random piles of stone; told
me how great and fine it was, and surrounded on all sides by
populous houses, whence, at the beating of the drums, the folk
crowded to make holiday. The drum-beat of the Polynesian has a
strange and gloomy stimulation for the nerves of all. White
persons feel it--at these precipitate sounds their hearts beat
faster; and, according to old residents, its effect on the natives
was extreme. Bishop Dordillon might entreat; Temoana himself
command and threaten; at the note of the drum wild instincts
triumphed. And now it might beat upon these ruins, and who should
assemble? The houses are down, the people dead, their lineage
extinct; and the sweepings and fugitives of distant bays and
islands encamp upon their graves. The decline of the dance
Stanislao especially laments. 'Chaque pays a ses coutumes,' said
he; but in the report of any gendarme, perhaps corruptly eager to
increase the number of delits and the instruments of his own power,
custom after custom is placed on the expurgatorial index. 'Tenez,
une danse qui n'est pas permise,' said Stanislao: 'je ne sais pas
pourquoi, elle est tres jolie, elle va comme ca,' and sticking his
umbrella upright in the road, he sketched the steps and gestures.
All his criticisms of the present, all his regrets for the past,
struck me as temperate and sensible. The short term of office of
the Resident he thought the chief defect of the administration;
that officer having scarce begun to be efficient ere he was
recalled. I thought I gathered, too, that he regarded with some
fear the coming change from a naval to a civil governor. I am sure
at least that I regard it so myself; for the civil servants of
France have never appeared to any foreigner as at all the flower of
their country, while her naval officers may challenge competition
with the world. In all his talk, Stanislao was particular to speak
of his own country as a land of savages; and when he stated an
opinion of his own, it was with some apologetic preface, alleging
that he was 'a savage who had travelled.' There was a deal, in
this elaborate modesty, of honest pride. Yet there was something
in the precaution that saddened me; and I could not but fear he was
only forestalling a taunt that he had heard too often.

I recall with interest two interviews with Stanislao. The first
was a certain afternoon of tropic rain, which we passed together in
the verandah of the club; talking at times with heightened voices
as the showers redoubled overhead, passing at times into the
billiard-room, to consult, in the dim, cloudy daylight, that map of
the world which forms its chief adornment. He was naturally
ignorant of English history, so that I had much of news to
communicate. The story of Gordon I told him in full, and many
episodes of the Indian Mutiny, Lucknow, the second battle of Cawn-
pore, the relief of Arrah, the death of poor Spottis-woode, and Sir
Hugh Rose's hotspur, midland campaign. He was intent to hear; his
brown face, strongly marked with small-pox, kindled and changed
with each vicissitude. His eyes glowed with the reflected light of
battle; his questions were many and intelligent, and it was chiefly
these that sent us so often to the map. But it is of our parting
that I keep the strongest sense. We were to sail on the morrow,
and the night had fallen, dark, gusty, and rainy, when we stumbled
up the hill to bid farewell to Stanislao. He had already loaded us
with gifts; but more were waiting. We sat about the table over
cigars and green cocoa-nuts; claps of wind blew through the house
and extinguished the lamp, which was always instantly relighted
with a single match; and these recurrent intervals of darkness were
felt as a relief. For there was something painful and embarrassing
in the kindness of that separation. 'Ah, vous devriez rester ici,
mon cher ami!' cried Stanislao. 'Vous etes les gens qu'il faut
pour les Kanaques; vous etes doux, vous et votre famille; vous
seriez obeis dans toutes les iles.' We had been civil; not always
that, my conscience told me, and never anything beyond; and all
this to-do is a measure, not of our considerateness, but of the
want of it in others. The rest of the evening, on to Vaekehu's and
back as far as to the pier, Stanislao walked with my arm and
sheltered me with his umbrella; and after the boat had put off, we
could still distinguish, in the murky darkness, his gestures of
farewell. His words, if there were any, were drowned by the rain
and the loud surf.

I have mentioned presents, a vexed question in the South Seas; and
one which well illustrates the common, ignorant habit of regarding
races in a lump. In many quarters the Polynesian gives only to
receive. I have visited islands where the population mobbed me for
all the world like dogs after the waggon of cat's-meat; and where
the frequent proposition, 'You my pleni (friend),' or (with more of
pathos) 'You all 'e same my father,' must be received with hearty
laughter and a shout. And perhaps everywhere, among the greedy and
rapacious, a gift is regarded as a sprat to catch a whale. It is
the habit to give gifts and to receive returns, and such
characters, complying with the custom, will look to it nearly that
they do not lose. But for persons of a different stamp the
statement must be reversed. The shabby Polynesian is anxious till
he has received the return gift; the generous is uneasy until he
has made it. The first is disappointed if you have not given more
than he; the second is miserable if he thinks he has given less
than you. This is my experience; if it clash with that of others,
I pity their fortune, and praise mine: the circumstances cannot
change what I have seen, nor lessen what I have received. And
indeed I find that those who oppose me often argue from a ground of
singular presumptions; comparing Polynesians with an ideal person,
compact of generosity and gratitude, whom I never had the pleasure
of encountering; and forgetting that what is almost poverty to us
is wealth almost unthinkable to them. I will give one instance: I
chanced to speak with consideration of these gifts of Stanislao's
with a certain clever man, a great hater and contemner of Kanakas.
'Well! what were they?' he cried. 'A pack of old men's beards.
Trash!' And the same gentleman, some half an hour later, being
upon a different train of thought, dwelt at length on the esteem in
which the Marquesans held that sort of property, how they preferred
it to all others except land, and what fancy prices it would fetch.
Using his own figures, I computed that, in this commodity alone,
the gifts of Vaekehu and Stanislao represented between two and
three hundred dollars; and the queen's official salary is of two
hundred and forty in the year.

But generosity on the one hand, and conspicuous meanness on the
other, are in the South Seas, as at home, the exception. It is
neither with any hope of gain, nor with any lively wish to please,
that the ordinary Polynesian chooses and presents his gifts. A
plain social duty lies before him, which he performs correctly, but
without the least enthusiasm. And we shall best understand his
attitude of mind, if we examine our own to the cognate absurdity of
marriage presents. There we give without any special thought of a
return; yet if the circumstance arise, and the return be withheld,
we shall judge ourselves insulted. We give them usually without
affection, and almost never with a genuine desire to please; and
our gift is rather a mark of our own status than a measure of our
love to the recipients. So in a great measure and with the common
run of the Polynesians; their gifts are formal; they imply no more
than social recognition; and they are made and reciprocated, as we
pay and return our morning visits. And the practice of marking and
measuring events and sentiments by presents is universal in the
island world. A gift plays with them the part of stamp and seal;
and has entered profoundly into the mind of islanders. Peace and
war, marriage, adoption and naturalisation, are celebrated or
declared by the acceptance or the refusal of gifts; and it is as
natural for the islander to bring a gift as for us to carry a card-


I have had occasion several times to name the late bishop, Father
Dordillon, 'Monseigneur,' as he is still almost universally called,
Vicar-Apostolic of the Marquesas and Bishop of Cambysopolis in
partibus. Everywhere in the islands, among all classes and races,
this fine, old, kindly, cheerful fellow is remembered with
affection and respect. His influence with the natives was
paramount. They reckoned him the highest of men--higher than an
admiral; brought him their money to keep; took his advice upon
their purchases; nor would they plant trees upon their own land
till they had the approval of the father of the islands. During
the time of the French exodus he singly represented Europe, living
in the Residency, and ruling by the hand of Temoana. The first
roads were made under his auspices and by his persuasion. The old
road between Hatiheu and Anaho was got under way from either side
on the ground that it would be pleasant for an evening promenade,
and brought to completion by working on the rivalry of the two
villages. The priest would boast in Hatiheu of the progress made
in Anaho, and he would tell the folk of Anaho, 'If you don't take
care, your neighbours will be over the hill before you are at the
top.' It could not be so done to-day; it could then; death, opium,
and depopulation had not gone so far; and the people of Hatiheu, I
was told, still vied with each other in fine attire, and used to go
out by families, in the cool of the evening, boat-sailing and
racing in the bay. There seems some truth at least in the common
view, that this joint reign of Temoana and the bishop was the last
and brief golden age of the Marquesas. But the civil power
returned, the mission was packed out of the Residency at twenty-
four hours' notice, new methods supervened, and the golden age
(whatever it quite was) came to an end. It is the strongest proof
of Father Dordillon's prestige that it survived, seemingly without
loss, this hasty deposition.

His method with the natives was extremely mild. Among these
barbarous children he still played the part of the smiling father;
and he was careful to observe, in all indifferent matters, the
Marquesan etiquette. Thus, in the singular system of artificial
kinship, the bishop had been adopted by Vaekehu as a grandson; Miss
Fisher, of Hatiheu, as a daughter. From that day, Monseigneur
never addressed the young lady except as his mother, and closed his
letters with the formalities of a dutiful son. With Europeans he
could be strict, even to the extent of harshness. He made no
distinction against heretics, with whom he was on friendly terms;
but the rules of his own Church he would see observed; and once at
least he had a white man clapped in jail for the desecration of a
saint's day. But even this rigour, so intolerable to laymen, so
irritating to Protestants, could not shake his popularity. We
shall best conceive him by examples nearer home; we may all have
known some divine of the old school in Scotland, a literal
Sabbatarian, a stickler for the letter of the law, who was yet in
private modest, innocent, genial and mirthful. Much such a man, it
seems, was Father Dordillon. And his popularity bore a test yet
stronger. He had the name, and probably deserved it, of a shrewd
man in business and one that made the mission pay. Nothing so much
stirs up resentment as the inmixture in commerce of religious
bodies; but even rival traders spoke well of Monseigneur.

His character is best portrayed in the story of the days of his
decline. A time came when, from the failure of sight, he must
desist from his literary labours: his Marquesan hymns, grammars,
and dictionaries; his scientific papers, lives of saints, and
devotional poetry. He cast about for a new interest: pitched on
gardening, and was to be seen all day, with spade and water-pot, in
his childlike eagerness, actually running between the borders.
Another step of decay, and he must leave his garden also.
Instantly a new occupation was devised, and he sat in the mission
cutting paper flowers and wreaths. His diocese was not great
enough for his activity; the churches of the Marquesas were papered
with his handiwork, and still he must be making more. 'Ah,' said
he, smiling, 'when I am dead what a fine time you will have
clearing out my trash!' He had been dead about six months; but I
was pleased to see some of his trophies still exposed, and looked
upon them with a smile: the tribute (if I have read his cheerful
character aright) which he would have preferred to any useless
tears. Disease continued progressively to disable him; he who had
clambered so stalwartly over the rude rocks of the Marquesas,
bringing peace to warfaring clans, was for some time carried in a
chair between the mission and the church, and at last confined to
bed, impotent with dropsy, and tormented with bed-sores and
sciatica. Here he lay two months without complaint; and on the
11th January 1888, in the seventy-ninth year of his life, and the
thirty-fourth of his labours in the Marquesas, passed away.

Those who have a taste for hearing missions, Protestant or
Catholic, decried, must seek their pleasure elsewhere than in my
pages. Whether Catholic or Protestant, with all their gross blots,
with all their deficiency of candour, of humour, and of common
sense, the missionaries are the best and the most useful whites in
the Pacific. This is a subject which will follow us throughout;
but there is one part of it that may conveniently be treated here.
The married and the celibate missionary, each has his particular
advantage and defect. The married missionary, taking him at the
best, may offer to the native what he is much in want of--a higher
picture of domestic life; but the woman at his elbow tends to keep
him in touch with Europe and out of touch with Polynesia, and to
perpetuate, and even to ingrain, parochial decencies far best
forgotten. The mind of the female missionary tends, for instance,
to be continually busied about dress. She can be taught with
extreme difficulty to think any costume decent but that to which
she grew accustomed on Clapham Common; and to gratify this
prejudice, the native is put to useless expense, his mind is
tainted with the morbidities of Europe, and his health is set in
danger. The celibate missionary, on the other hand, and whether at
best or worst, falls readily into native ways of life; to which he
adds too commonly what is either a mark of celibate man at large,
or an inheritance from mediaeval saints--I mean slovenly habits and
an unclean person. There are, of course, degrees in this; and the
sister (of course, and all honour to her) is as fresh as a lady at
a ball. For the diet there is nothing to be said--it must amaze
and shock the Polynesian--but for the adoption of native habits
there is much. 'Chaque pays a ses coutumes,' said Stanislao; these
it is the missionary's delicate task to modify; and the more he can
do so from within, and from a native standpoint, the better he will
do his work; and here I think the Catholics have sometimes the
advantage; in the Vicariate of Dordillon, I am sure they had it. I
have heard the bishop blamed for his indulgence to the natives, and
above all because he did not rage with sufficient energy against
cannibalism. It was a part of his policy to live among the natives
like an elder brother; to follow where he could; to lead where it
was necessary; never to drive; and to encourage the growth of new
habits, instead of violently rooting up the old. And it might be
better, in the long-run, if this policy were always followed.

It might be supposed that native missionaries would prove more
indulgent, but the reverse is found to be the case. The new broom
sweeps clean; and the white missionary of to-day is often
embarrassed by the bigotry of his native coadjutor. What else
should we expect? On some islands, sorcery, polygamy, human
sacrifice, and tobacco-smoking have been prohibited, the dress of
the native has been modified, and himself warned in strong terms
against rival sects of Christianity; all by the same man, at the
same period of time, and with the like authority. By what
criterion is the convert to distinguish the essential from the
unessential? He swallows the nostrum whole; there has been no play
of mind, no instruction, and, except for some brute utility in the
prohibitions, no advance. To call things by their proper names,
this is teaching superstition. It is unfortunate to use the word;
so few people have read history, and so many have dipped into
little atheistic manuals, that the majority will rush to a
conclusion, and suppose the labour lost. And far from that: These
semi-spontaneous superstitions, varying with the sect of the
original evangelist and the customs of the island, are found in
practice to be highly fructifying; and in particular those who have
learned and who go forth again to teach them offer an example to
the world. The best specimen of the Christian hero that I ever met
was one of these native missionaries. He had saved two lives at
the risk of his own; like Nathan, he had bearded a tyrant in his
hour of blood; when a whole white population fled, he alone stood
to his duty; and his behaviour under domestic sorrow with which the
public has no concern filled the beholder with sympathy and
admiration. A poor little smiling laborious man he looked; and you
would have thought he had nothing in him but that of which indeed
he had too much--facile good-nature.

It chances that the only rivals of Monseigneur and his mission in
the Marquesas were certain of these brown-skinned evangelists,
natives from Hawaii. I know not what they thought of Father
Dordillon: they are the only class I did not question; but I
suspect the prelate to have regarded them askance, for he was
eminently human. During my stay at Tai-o-hae, the time of the
yearly holiday came round at the girls' school; and a whole fleet
of whale-boats came from Ua-pu to take the daughters of that island
home. On board of these was Kauwealoha, one of the pastors, a
fine, rugged old gentleman, of that leonine type so common in
Hawaii. He paid me a visit in the Casco, and there entertained me
with a tale of one of his colleagues, Kekela, a missionary in the
great cannibal isle of Hiva-oa. It appears that shortly after a
kidnapping visit from a Peruvian slaver, the boats of an American
whaler put into a bay upon that island, were attacked, and made
their escape with difficulty, leaving their mate, a Mr. Whalon, in
the hands of the natives. The captive, with his arms bound behind
his back, was cast into a house; and the chief announced the
capture to Kekela. And here I begin to follow the version of
Kauwealoha; it is a good specimen of Kanaka English; and the reader
is to conceive it delivered with violent emphasis and speaking

'"I got 'Melican mate," the chief he say. "What you go do 'Melican
mate?" Kekela he say. "I go make fire, I go kill, I go eat him,"
he say; "you come to-mollow eat piece." "I no WANT eat 'Melican
mate!" Kekela he say; "why you want?" "This bad shippee, this
slave shippee," the chief he say. "One time a shippee he come from
Pelu, he take away plenty Kanaka, he take away my son. 'Melican
mate he bad man. I go eat him; you eat piece." "I no WANT eat
'Melican mate!" Kekela he say; and he CLY--all night he cly! To-
mollow Kekela he get up, he put on blackee coat, he go see chief;
he see Missa Whela, him hand tie' like this. (Pantomime.) Kekela
he cly. He say chief:- "Chief, you like things of mine? you like
whale-boat?" "Yes," he say. "You like file-a'm?" (fire-arms).
"Yes," he say. "You like blackee coat?" "Yes," he say. Kekela he
take Missa Whela by he shoul'a' (shoulder), he take him light out
house; he give chief he whale-boat, he file-a'm, he blackee coat.
He take Missa Whela he house, make him sit down with he wife and
chil'en. Missa Whela all-the-same pelison (prison); he wife, he
chil'en in Amelica; he cly--O, he cly. Kekela he solly. One day
Kekela he see ship. (Pantomime.) He say Missa Whela, "Ma' Whala?"
Missa Whela he say, "Yes." Kanaka they begin go down beach.
Kekela he get eleven Kanaka, get oa' (oars), get evely thing. He
say Missa Whela, "Now you go quick." They jump in whale-boat.
"Now you low!" Kekela he say: "you low quick, quick!" (Violent
pantomime, and a change indicating that the narrator has left the
boat and returned to the beach.) All the Kanaka they say, "How!
'Melican mate he go away?"--jump in boat; low afta. (Violent
pantomime, and change again to boat.) Kekela he say, "Low quick!"'

Here I think Kauwealoha's pantomime had confused me; I have no more
of his ipsissima verba; and can but add, in my own less spirited
manner, that the ship was reached, Mr. Whalon taken aboard, and
Kekela returned to his charge among the cannibals. But how unjust
it is to repeat the stumblings of a foreigner in a language only
partly acquired! A thoughtless reader might conceive Kauwealoha
and his colleague to be a species of amicable baboon; but I have
here the anti-dote. In return for his act of gallant charity,
Kekela was presented by the American Government with a sum of
money, and by President Lincoln personally with a gold watch. From
his letter of thanks, written in his own tongue, I give the
following extract. I do not envy the man who can read it without

'When I saw one of your countrymen, a citizen of your great nation,
ill-treated, and about to be baked and eaten, as a pig is eaten, I
ran to save him, full of pity and grief at the evil deed of these
benighted people. I gave my boat for the stranger's life. This
boat came from James Hunnewell, a gift of friendship. It became
the ransom of this countryman of yours, that he might not be eaten
by the savages who knew not Jehovah. This was Mr. Whalon, and the
date, Jan. 14, 1864.

As to this friendly deed of mine in saving Mr. Whalon, its seed
came from your great land, and was brought by certain of your
countrymen, who had received the love of God. It was planted in
Hawaii, and I brought it to plant in this land and in these dark
regions, that they might receive the root of all that is good and
true, which is LOVE.

'1. Love to Jehovah.

'2. Love to self.

'3. Love to our neighbour.

'If a man have a sufficiency of these three, he is good and holy,
like his God, Jehovah, in his triune character (Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost), one-three, three-one. If he have two and wants one,
it is not well; and if he have one and wants two, indeed, is not
well; but if he cherishes all three, then is he holy, indeed, after
the manner of the Bible.

'This is a great thing for your great nation to boast of, before
all the nations of the earth. From your great land a most precious
seed was brought to the land of darkness. It was planted here, not
by means of guns and men-of-war and threatening. It was planted by
means of the ignorant, the neglected, the despised. Such was the
introduction of the word of the Almighty God into this group of
Nuuhiwa. Great is my debt to Americans, who have taught me all
things pertaining to this life and to that which is to come.

'How shall I repay your great kindness to me? Thus David asked of
Jehovah, and thus I ask of you, the President of the United States.
This is my only payment--that which I have received of the Lord,


Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, nothing
so surely unmortars a society; nothing, we might plausibly argue,
will so harden and degrade the minds of those that practise it.
And yet we ourselves make much the same appearance in the eyes of
the Buddhist and the vegetarian. We consume the carcasses of
creatures of like appetites, passions, and organs with ourselves;
we feed on babes, though not our own; and the slaughter-house
resounds daily with screams of pain and fear. We distinguish,
indeed; but the unwillingness of many nations to eat the dog, an
animal with whom we live on terms of the next intimacy, shows how
precariously the distinction is grounded. The pig is the main
element of animal food among the islands; and I had many occasions,
my mind being quickened by my cannibal surroundings, to observe his
character and the manner of his death. Many islanders live with
their pigs as we do with our dogs; both crowd around the hearth
with equal freedom; and the island pig is a fellow of activity,
enterprise, and sense. He husks his own cocoa-nuts, and (I am
told) rolls them into the sun to burst; he is the terror of the
shepherd. Mrs. Stevenson, senior, has seen one fleeing to the
woods with a lamb in his mouth; and I saw another come rapidly (and
erroneously) to the conclusion that the Casco was going down, and
swim through the flush water to the rail in search of an escape.
It was told us in childhood that pigs cannot swim; I have known one
to leap overboard, swim five hundred yards to shore, and return to
the house of his original owner. I was once, at Tautira, a pig-
master on a considerable scale; at first, in my pen, the utmost
good feeling prevailed; a little sow with a belly-ache came and
appealed to us for help in the manner of a child; and there was one
shapely black boar, whom we called Catholicus, for he was a
particular present from the Catholics of the village, and who early
displayed the marks of courage and friendliness; no other animal,
whether dog or pig, was suffered to approach him at his food, and
for human beings he showed a full measure of that toadying fondness
so common in the lower animals, and possibly their chief title to
the name. One day, on visiting my piggery, I was amazed to see
Catholicus draw back from my approach with cries of terror; and if
I was amazed at the change, I was truly embarrassed when I learnt
its reason. One of the pigs had been that morning killed;
Catholicus had seen the murder, he had discovered he was dwelling
in the shambles, and from that time his confidence and his delight
in life were ended. We still reserved him a long while, but he
could not endure the sight of any two-legged creature, nor could
we, under the circumstances, encounter his eye without confusion.
I have assisted besides, by the ear, at the act of butchery itself;
the victim's cries of pain I think I could have borne, but the
execution was mismanaged, and his expression of terror was
contagious: that small heart moved to the same tune with ours.
Upon such 'dread foundations' the life of the European reposes, and
yet the European is among the less cruel of races. The
paraphernalia of murder, the preparatory brutalities of his
existence, are all hid away; an extreme sensibility reigns upon the
surface; and ladies will faint at the recital of one tithe of what
they daily expect of their butchers. Some will be even crying out
upon me in their hearts for the coarseness of this paragraph. And
so with the island cannibals. They were not cruel; apart from this
custom, they are a race of the most kindly; rightly speaking, to
cut a man's flesh after he is dead is far less hateful than to
oppress him whilst he lives; and even the victims of their appetite
were gently used in life and suddenly and painlessly despatched at
last. In island circles of refinement it was doubtless thought bad
taste to expatiate on what was ugly in the practice.

Cannibalism is traced from end to end of the Pacific, from the
Marquesas to New Guinea, from New Zealand to Hawaii, here in the
lively haunt of its exercise, there by scanty but significant
survivals. Hawaii is the most doubtful. We find cannibalism
chronicled in Hawaii, only in the history of a single war, where it
seems to have been thought exception, as in the case of mountain
outlaws, such as fell by the hand of Theseus. In Tahiti, a single
circumstance survived, but that appears conclusive. In historic
times, when human oblation was made in the marae, the eyes of the
victim were formally offered to the chief: a delicacy to the
leading guest. All Melanesia appears tainted. In Micronesia, in
the Marshalls, with which my acquaintance is no more than that of a
tourist, I could find no trace at all; and even in the Gilbert zone
I long looked and asked in vain. I was told tales indeed of men
who had been eaten in a famine; but these were nothing to my
purpose, for the same thing is done under the same stress by all
kindreds and generations of men. At last, in some manuscript notes
of Dr. Turner's, which I was allowed to consult at Malua, I came on
one damning evidence: on the island of Onoatoa the punishment for
theft was to be killed and eaten. How shall we account for the
universality of the practice over so vast an area, among people of
such varying civilisation, and, with whatever intermixture, of such
different blood? What circumstance is common to them all, but that
they lived on islands destitute, or very nearly so, of animal food?
I can never find it in my appetite that man was meant to live on
vegetables only. When our stores ran low among the islands, I grew
to weary for the recurrent day when economy allowed us to open
another tin of miserable mutton. And in at least one ocean
language, a particular word denotes that a man is 'hungry for
fish,' having reached that stage when vegetables can no longer
satisfy, and his soul, like those of the Hebrews in the desert,
begins to lust after flesh-pots. Add to this the evidences of
over-population and imminent famine already adduced, and I think we
see some ground of indulgence for the island cannibal.

It is right to look at both sides of any question; but I am far
from making the apology of this worse than bestial vice. The
higher Polynesian races, such as the Tahitians, Hawaiians, and
Samoans, had one and all outgrown, and some of them had in part
forgot, the practice, before Cook or Bougainville had shown a top-
sail in their waters. It lingered only in some low islands where
life was difficult to maintain, and among inveterate savages like
the New-Zealanders or the Marquesans. The Marquesans intertwined
man-eating with the whole texture of their lives; long-pig was in a
sense their currency and sacrament; it formed the hire of the
artist, illustrated public events, and was the occasion and
attraction of a feast. To-day they are paying the penalty of this
bloody commixture. The civil power, in its crusade against man-
eating, has had to examine one after another all Marquesan arts and
pleasures, has found them one after another tainted with a cannibal
element, and one after another has placed them on the proscript
list. Their art of tattooing stood by itself, the execution
exquisite, the designs most beautiful and intricate; nothing more
handsomely sets off a handsome man; it may cost some pain in the
beginning, but I doubt if it be near so painful in the long-run,
and I am sure it is far more becoming than the ignoble European
practice of tight-lacing among women. And now it has been found
needful to forbid the art. Their songs and dances were numerous
(and the law has had to abolish them by the dozen). They now face
empty-handed the tedium of their uneventful days; and who shall
pity them? The least rigorous will say that they were justly

Death alone could not satisfy Marquesan vengeance: the flesh must
be eaten. The chief who seized Mr. Whalon preferred to eat him;
and he thought he had justified the wish when he explained it was a
vengeance. Two or three years ago, the people of a valley seized
and slew a wretch who had offended them. His offence, it is to be
supposed, was dire; they could not bear to leave their vengeance
incomplete, and, under the eyes of the French, they did not dare to
hold a public festival. The body was accordingly divided; and
every man retired to his own house to consummate the rite in
secret, carrying his proportion of the dreadful meat in a Swedish
match-box. The barbarous substance of the drama and the European
properties employed offer a seizing contrast to the imagination.
Yet more striking is another incident of the very year when I was
there myself, 1888. In the spring, a man and woman skulked about
the school-house in Hiva-oa till they found a particular child
alone. Him they approached with honeyed words and carneying
manners--'You are So-and-so, son of So-and-so?' they asked; and
caressed and beguiled him deeper in the woods. Some instinct woke
in the child's bosom, or some look betrayed the horrid purpose of
his deceivers. He sought to break from them; he screamed; and
they, casting off the mask, seized him the more strongly and began
to run. His cries were heard; his schoolmates, playing not far
off, came running to the rescue; and the sinister couple fled and
vanished in the woods. They were never identified; no prosecution
followed; but it was currently supposed they had some grudge
against the boy's father, and designed to eat him in revenge. All
over the islands, as at home among our own ancestors, it will be
observed that the avenger takes no particular heed to strike an
individual. A family, a class, a village, a whole valley or
island, a whole race of mankind, share equally the guilt of any
member. So, in the above story, the son was to pay the penalty for
his father; so Mr. Whalon, the mate of an American whaler, was to
bleed and be eaten for the misdeeds of a Peruvian slaver. I am
reminded of an incident in Jaluit in the Marshall group, which was
told me by an eye-witness, and which I tell here again for the
strangeness of the scene. Two men had awakened the animosity of
the Jaluit chiefs; and it was their wives who were selected to be
punished. A single native served as executioner. Early in the
morning, in the face of a large concourse of spectators, he waded
out upon the reef between his victims. These neither complained
nor resisted; accompanied their destroyer patiently; stooped down,
when they had waded deep enough, at his command; and he (laying one
hand upon the shoulders of each) held them under water till they
drowned. Doubtless, although my informant did not tell me so,
their families would be lamenting aloud upon the beach.

It was from Hatiheu that I paid my first visit to a cannibal high

The day was sultry and clouded. Drenching tropical showers
succeeded bursts of sweltering sunshine. The green pathway of the
road wound steeply upward. As we went, our little schoolboy guide
a little ahead of us, Father Simeon had his portfolio in his hand,
and named the trees for me, and read aloud from his notes the
abstract of their virtues. Presently the road, mounting, showed us
the vale of Hatiheu, on a larger scale; and the priest, with
occasional reference to our guide, pointed out the boundaries and
told me the names of the larger tribes that lived at perpetual war
in the old days: one on the north-east, one along the beach, one
behind upon the mountain. With a survivor of this latter clan
Father Simeon had spoken; until the pacification he had never been
to the sea's edge, nor, if I remember exactly, eaten of sea-fish.
Each in its own district, the septs lived cantoned and beleaguered.
One step without the boundaries was to affront death. If famine
came, the men must out to the woods to gather chestnuts and small
fruits; even as to this day, if the parents are backward in their
weekly doles, school must be broken up and the scholars sent
foraging. But in the old days, when there was trouble in one clan,
there would be activity in all its neighbours; the woods would be
laid full of ambushes; and he who went after vegetables for himself
might remain to be a joint for his hereditary foes. Nor was the
pointed occasion needful. A dozen different natural signs and
social junctures called this people to the war-path and the
cannibal hunt. Let one of chiefly rank have finished his
tattooing, the wife of one be near upon her time, two of the
debauching streams have deviated nearer on the beach of Hatiheu, a
certain bird have been heard to sing, a certain ominous formation
of cloud observed above the northern sea; and instantly the arms
were oiled, and the man-hunters swarmed into the wood to lay their
fratricidal ambuscades. It appears besides that occasionally,
perhaps in famine, the priest would shut himself in his house,
where he lay for a stated period like a person dead. When he came
forth it was to run for three days through the territory of the
clan, naked and starving, and to sleep at night alone in the high
place. It was now the turn of the others to keep the house, for to
encounter the priest upon his rounds was death. On the eve of the
fourth day the time of the running was over; the priest returned to
his roof, the laymen came forth, and in the morning the number of
the victims was announced. I have this tale of the priest on one
authority--I think a good one,--but I set it down with diffidence.
The particulars are so striking that, had they been true, I almost
think I must have heard them oftener referred to. Upon one point
there seems to be no question: that the feast was sometimes
furnished from within the clan. In times of scarcity, all who were
not protected by their family connections--in the Highland
expression, all the commons of the clan--had cause to tremble. It
was vain to resist, it was useless to flee. They were begirt upon
all hands by cannibals; and the oven was ready to smoke for them
abroad in the country of their foes, or at home in the valley of
their fathers.

At a certain corner of the road our scholar-guide struck off to his
left into the twilight of the forest. We were now on one of the
ancient native roads, plunged in a high vault of wood, and
clambering, it seemed, at random over boulders and dead trees; but
the lad wound in and out and up and down without a check, for these
paths are to the natives as marked as the king's highway is to us;
insomuch that, in the days of the man-hunt, it was their labour
rather to block and deface than to improve them. In the crypt of
the wood the air was clammy and hot and cold; overhead, upon the
leaves, the tropical rain uproariously poured, but only here and
there, as through holes in a leaky roof, a single drop would fall,
and make a spot upon my mackintosh. Presently the huge trunk of a
banyan hove in sight, standing upon what seemed the ruins of an
ancient fort; and our guide, halting and holding forth his arm,
announced that we had reached the paepae tapu.

Paepae signifies a floor or platform such as a native house is
built on; and even such a paepae--a paepae hae--may be called a
paepae tapu in a lesser sense when it is deserted and becomes the
haunt of spirits; but the public high place, such as I was now
treading, was a thing on a great scale. As far as my eyes could
pierce through the dark undergrowth, the floor of the forest was
all paved. Three tiers of terrace ran on the slope of the hill; in
front, a crumbling parapet contained the main arena; and the
pavement of that was pierced and parcelled out with several wells
and small enclosures. No trace remained of any superstructure, and
the scheme of the amphitheatre was difficult to seize. I visited
another in Hiva-oa, smaller but more perfect, where it was easy to
follow rows of benches, and to distinguish isolated seats of honour
for eminent persons; and where, on the upper platform, a single
joist of the temple or dead-house still remained, its uprights
richly carved. In the old days the high place was sedulously
tended. No tree except the sacred banyan was suffered to encroach
upon its grades, no dead leaf to rot upon the pavement. The stones
were smoothly set, and I am told they were kept bright with oil.
On all sides the guardians lay encamped in their subsidiary huts to
watch and cleanse it. No other foot of man was suffered to draw
near; only the priest, in the days of his running, came there to
sleep--perhaps to dream of his ungodly errand; but, in the time of
the feast, the clan trooped to the high place in a body, and each
had his appointed seat. There were places for the chiefs, the
drummers, the dancers, the women, and the priests. The drums--
perhaps twenty strong, and some of them twelve feet high--
continuously throbbed in time. In time the singers kept up their
long-drawn, lugubrious, ululating song; in time, too, the dancers,
tricked out in singular finery, stepped, leaped, swayed, and
gesticulated--their plumed fingers fluttering in the air like
butterflies. The sense of time, in all these ocean races, is
extremely perfect; and I conceive in such a festival that almost
every sound and movement fell in one. So much the more unanimously
must have grown the agitation of the feasters; so much the more
wild must have been the scene to any European who could have beheld
them there, in the strong sun and the strong shadow of the banyan,
rubbed with saffron to throw in a more high relief the arabesque of
the tattoo; the women bleached by days of confinement to a
complexion almost European; the chiefs crowned with silver plumes
of old men's beards and girt with kirtles of the hair of dead
women. All manner of island food was meanwhile spread for the
women and the commons; and, for those who were privileged to eat of
it, there were carried up to the dead-house the baskets of long-
pig. It is told that the feasts were long kept up; the people came
from them brutishly exhausted with debauchery, and the chiefs heavy
with their beastly food. There are certain sentiments which we
call emphatically human--denying the honour of that name to those
who lack them. In such feasts--particularly where the victim has
been slain at home, and men banqueted on the poor clay of a comrade
with whom they had played in infancy, or a woman whose favours they
had shared--the whole body of these sentiments is outraged. To
consider it too closely is to understand, if not to excuse, the
fervours of self-righteous old ship-captains, who would man their
guns, and open fire in passing, on a cannibal island.

And yet it was strange. There, upon the spot, as I stood under the
high, dripping vault of the forest, with the young priest on the
one hand, in his kilted gown, and the bright-eyed Marquesan
schoolboy on the other, the whole business appeared infinitely
distant, and fallen in the cold perspective and dry light of
history. The bearing of the priest, perhaps, affected me. He
smiled; he jested with the boy, the heir both of these feasters and
their meat; he clapped his hands, and gave me a stave of one of the
old, ill-omened choruses. Centuries might have come and gone since
this slimy theatre was last in operation; and I beheld the place
with no more emotion than I might have felt in visiting Stonehenge.
In Hiva-oa, as I began to appreciate that the thing was still
living and latent about my footsteps, and that it was still within
the bounds of possibility that I might hear the cry of the trapped
victim, my historic attitude entirely failed, and I was sensible of
some repugnance for the natives. But here, too, the priests
maintained their jocular attitude: rallying the cannibals as upon
an eccentricity rather absurd than horrible; seeking, I should say,
to shame them from the practice by good-natured ridicule, as we
shame a child from stealing sugar. We may here recognise the
temperate and sagacious mind of Bishop Dordillon.


Taahauku, on the south-westerly coast of the island of Hiva-oa--
Tahuku, say the slovenly whites--may be called the port of Atuona.
It is a narrow and small anchorage, set between low cliffy points,
and opening above upon a woody valley: a little French fort, now
disused and deserted, overhangs the valley and the inlet. Atuona
itself, at the head of the next bay, is framed in a theatre of
mountains, which dominate the more immediate settling of Taahauku
and give the salient character of the scene. They are reckoned at
no higher than four thousand feet; but Tahiti with eight thousand,
and Hawaii with fifteen, can offer no such picture of abrupt,
melancholy alps. In the morning, when the sun falls directly on
their front, they stand like a vast wall: green to the summit, if
by any chance the summit should be clear--water-courses here and
there delineated on their face, as narrow as cracks. Towards
afternoon, the light falls more obliquely, and the sculpture of the
range comes in relief, huge gorges sinking into shadow, huge,
tortuous buttresses standing edged with sun. At all hours of the
day they strike the eye with some new beauty, and the mind with the
same menacing gloom.

The mountains, dividing and deflecting the endless airy deluge of
the Trade, are doubtless answerable for the climate. A strong
draught of wind blew day and night over the anchorage. Day and
night the same fantastic and attenuated clouds fled across the
heavens, the same dusky cap of rain and vapour fell and rose on the
mountain. The land-breezes came very strong and chill, and the
sea, like the air, was in perpetual bustle. The swell crowded into
the narrow anchorage like sheep into a fold; broke all along both
sides, high on the one, low on the other; kept a certain blowhole
sounding and smoking like a cannon; and spent itself at last upon
the beach.

On the side away from Atuona, the sheltering promontory was a
nursery of coco-trees. Some were mere infants, none had attained
to any size, none had yet begun to shoot skyward with that whip-
like shaft of the mature palm. In the young trees the colour
alters with the age and growth. Now all is of a grass-like hue,
infinitely dainty; next the rib grows golden, the fronds remaining
green as ferns; and then, as the trunk continues to mount and to
assume its final hue of grey, the fans put on manlier and more
decided depths of verdure, stand out dark upon the distance,
glisten against the sun, and flash like silver fountains in the
assault of the wind. In this young wood of Taahauku, all these
hues and combinations were exampled and repeated by the score. The
trees grew pleasantly spaced upon a hilly sward, here and there
interspersed with a rack for drying copra, or a tumble-down hut for
storing it. Every here and there the stroller had a glimpse of the
Casco tossing in the narrow anchorage below; and beyond he had ever
before him the dark amphitheatre of the Atuona mountains and the
cliffy bluff that closes it to seaward. The trade-wind moving in
the fans made a ceaseless noise of summer rain; and from time to
time, with the sound of a sudden and distant drum-beat, the surf
would burst in a sea-cave.

At the upper end of the inlet, its low, cliffy lining sinks, at
both sides, into a beach. A copra warehouse stands in the shadow
of the shoreside trees, flitted about for ever by a clan of
dwarfish swallows; and a line of rails on a high wooden staging
bends back into the mouth of the valley. Walking on this, the new-
landed traveller becomes aware of a broad fresh-water lagoon (one
arm of which he crosses), and beyond, of a grove of noble palms,
sheltering the house of the trader, Mr. Keane. Overhead, the cocos
join in a continuous and lofty roof; blackbirds are heard lustily
singing; the island cock springs his jubilant rattle and airs his
golden plumage; cow-bells sound far and near in the grove; and when
you sit in the broad verandah, lulled by this symphony, you may say
to yourself, if you are able: 'Better fifty years of Europe . . .'
Farther on, the floor of the valley is flat and green, and dotted
here and there with stripling coco-palms. Through the midst, with
many changes of music, the river trots and brawls; and along its
course, where we should look for willows, puraos grow in clusters,
and make shadowy pools after an angler's heart. A vale more rich
and peaceful, sweeter air, a sweeter voice of rural sounds, I have
found nowhere. One circumstance alone might strike the
experienced: here is a convenient beach, deep soil, good water,
and yet nowhere any paepaes, nowhere any trace of island

It is but a few years since this valley was a place choked with
jungle, the debatable land and battle-ground of cannibals. Two
clans laid claim to it--neither could substantiate the claim, and
the roads lay desert, or were only visited by men in arms. It is
for this very reason that it wears now so smiling an appearance:
cleared, planted, built upon, supplied with railways, boat-houses,
and bath-houses. For, being no man's land, it was the more readily
ceded to a stranger. The stranger was Captain John Hart: Ima
Hati, 'Broken-arm,' the natives call him, because when he first
visited the islands his arm was in a sling. Captain Hart, a man of
English birth, but an American subject, had conceived the idea of
cotton culture in the Marquesas during the American War, and was at
first rewarded with success. His plantation at Anaho was highly
productive; island cotton fetched a high price, and the natives
used to debate which was the stronger power, Ima Hati or the
French: deciding in favour of the captain, because, though the
French had the most ships, he had the more money.

He marked Taahauku for a suitable site, acquired it, and offered
the superintendence to Mr. Robert Stewart, a Fifeshire man, already
some time in the islands, who had just been ruined by a war on
Tauata. Mr. Stewart was somewhat averse to the adventure, having
some acquaintance with Atuona and its notorious chieftain, Moipu.
He had once landed there, he told me, about dusk, and found the
remains of a man and woman partly eaten. On his starting and
sickening at the sight, one of Moipu's young men picked up a human
foot, and provocatively staring at the stranger, grinned and
nibbled at the heel. None need be surprised if Mr. Stewart fled
incontinently to the bush, lay there all night in a great horror of
mind, and got off to sea again by daylight on the morrow. 'It was
always a bad place, Atuona,' commented Mr. Stewart, in his homely
Fifeshire voice. In spite of this dire introduction, he accepted
the captain's offer, was landed at Taahauku with three Chinamen,
and proceeded to clear the jungle.

War was pursued at that time, almost without interval, between the
men of Atuona and the men of Haamau; and one day, from the opposite
sides of the valley, battle--or I should rather say the noise of
battle--raged all the afternoon: the shots and insults of the
opposing clans passing from hill to hill over the heads of Mr.
Stewart and his Chinamen. There was no genuine fighting; it was
like a bicker of schoolboys, only some fool had given the children
guns. One man died of his exertions in running, the only casualty.
With night the shots and insults ceased; the men of Haamau
withdrew; and victory, on some occult principle, was scored to
Moipu. Perhaps, in consequence, there came a day when Moipu made a
feast, and a party from Haamau came under safe-conduct to eat of
it. These passed early by Taahauku, and some of Moipu's young men
were there to be a guard of honour. They were not long gone before
there came down from Haamau, a man, his wife, and a girl of twelve,
their daughter, bringing fungus. Several Atuona lads were hanging
round the store; but the day being one of truce none apprehended
danger. The fungus was weighed and paid for; the man of Haamau
proposed he should have his axe ground in the bargain; and Mr.
Stewart demurring at the trouble, some of the Atuona lads offered
to grind it for him, and set it on the wheel. While the axe was
grinding, a friendly native whispered Mr. Stewart to have a care of
himself, for there was trouble in hand; and, all at once, the man
of Haamau was seized, and his head and arm stricken from his body,
the head at one sweep of his own newly sharpened axe. In the first
alert, the girl escaped among the cotton; and Mr. Stewart, having
thrust the wife into the house and locked her in from the outside,
supposed the affair was over. But the business had not passed
without noise, and it reached the ears of an older girl who had
loitered by the way, and who now came hastily down the valley,
crying as she came for her father. Her, too, they seized and
beheaded; I know not what they had done with the axe, it was a
blunt knife that served their butcherly turn upon the girl; and the
blood spurted in fountains and painted them from head to foot.
Thus horrible from crime, the party returned to Atuona, carrying
the heads to Moipu. It may be fancied how the feast broke up; but
it is notable that the guests were honourably suffered to retire.
These passed back through Taahauku in extreme disorder; a little
after the valley began to be overrun with shouting and triumphing
braves; and a letter of warning coming at the same time to Mr.
Stewart, he and his Chinamen took refuge with the Protestant
missionary in Atuona. That night the store was gutted, and the
bodies cast in a pit and covered with leaves. Three days later the
schooner had come in; and things appearing quieter, Mr. Stewart and
the captain landed in Taahauku to compute the damage and to view
the grave, which was already indicated by the stench. While they
were so employed, a party of Moipu's young men, decked with red
flannel to indicate martial sentiments, came over the hills from
Atuona, dug up the bodies, washed them in the river, and carried
them away on sticks. That night the feast began.

Those who knew Mr. Stewart before this experience declare the man
to be quite altered. He stuck, however, to his post; and somewhat
later, when the plantation was already well established, and gave
employment to sixty Chinamen and seventy natives, he found himself
once more in dangerous times. The men of Haamau, it was reported,
had sworn to plunder and erase the settlement; letters came
continually from the Hawaiian missionary, who acted as intelligence
department; and for six weeks Mr. Stewart and three other whites
slept in the cotton-house at night in a rampart of bales, and (what
was their best defence) ostentatiously practised rifle-shooting by
day upon the beach. Natives were often there to watch them; the
practice was excellent; and the assault was never delivered--if it
ever was intended, which I doubt, for the natives are more famous
for false rumours than for deeds of energy. I was told the late
French war was a case in point; the tribes on the beach accusing
those in the mountains of designs which they had never the
hardihood to entertain. And the same testimony to their
backwardness in open battle reached me from all sides. Captain
Hart once landed after an engagement in a certain bay; one man had
his hand hurt, an old woman and two children had been slain; and
the captain improved the occasion by poulticing the hand, and
taunting both sides upon so wretched an affair. It is true these
wars were often merely formal--comparable with duels to the first
blood. Captain Hart visited a bay where such a war was being
carried on between two brothers, one of whom had been thought
wanting in civility to the guests of the other. About one-half of
the population served day about on alternate sides, so as to be
well with each when the inevitable peace should follow. The forts
of the belligerents were over against each other, and close by.
Pigs were cooking. Well-oiled braves, with well-oiled muskets,
strutted on the paepae or sat down to feast. No business, however
needful, could be done, and all thoughts were supposed to be
centred in this mockery of war. A few days later, by a regrettable
accident, a man was killed; it was felt at once the thing had gone
too far, and the quarrel was instantly patched up. But the more
serious wars were prosecuted in a similar spirit; a gift of pigs
and a feast made their inevitable end; the killing of a single man
was a great victory, and the murder of defenceless solitaries
counted a heroic deed.

The foot of the cliffs, about all these islands, is the place of
fishing. Between Taahauku and Atuona we saw men, but chiefly
women, some nearly naked, some in thin white or crimson dresses,
perched in little surf-beat promontories--the brown precipice
overhanging them, and the convolvulus overhanging that, as if to
cut them off the more completely from assistance. There they would
angle much of the morning; and as fast as they caught any fish, eat
them, raw and living, where they stood. It was such helpless ones
that the warriors from the opposite island of Tauata slew, and
carried home and ate, and were thereupon accounted mighty men of
valour. Of one such exploit I can give the account of an eye-
witness. 'Portuguese Joe,' Mr. Keane's cook, was once pulling an
oar in an Atuona boat, when they spied a stranger in a canoe with
some fish and a piece of tapu. The Atuona men cried upon him to
draw near and have a smoke. He complied, because, I suppose, he
had no choice; but he knew, poor devil, what he was coming to, and
(as Joe said) 'he didn't seem to care about the smoke.' A few
questions followed, as to where he came from, and what was his
business. These he must needs answer, as he must needs draw at the
unwelcome pipe, his heart the while drying in his bosom. And then,
of a sudden, a big fellow in Joe's boat leaned over, plucked the
stranger from his canoe, struck him with a knife in the neck--
inward and downward, as Joe showed in pantomime more expressive
than his words--and held him under water, like a fowl, until his
struggles ceased. Whereupon the long-pig was hauled on board, the
boat's head turned about for Atuona, and these Marquesan braves
pulled home rejoicing. Moipu was on the beach and rejoiced with
them on their arrival. Poor Joe toiled at his oar that day with a
white face, yet he had no fear for himself. 'They were very good
to me--gave me plenty grub: never wished to eat white man,' said

If the most horrible experience was Mr. Stewart's, it was Captain
Hart himself who ran the nearest danger. He had bought a piece of
land from Timau, chief of a neighbouring bay, and put some Chinese
there to work. Visiting the station with one of the Godeffroys, he
found his Chinamen trooping to the beach in terror: Timau had
driven them out, seized their effects, and was in war attire with
his young men. A boat was despatched to Taahauku for
reinforcement; as they awaited her return, they could see, from the
deck of the schooner, Timau and his young men dancing the war-dance
on the hill-top till past twelve at night; and so soon as the boat
came (bringing three gendarmes, armed with chassepots, two white
men from Taahauku station, and some native warriors) the party set
out to seize the chief before he should awake. Day was not come,
and it was a very bright moonlight morning, when they reached the
hill-top where (in a house of palm-leaves) Timau was sleeping off
his debauch. The assailants were fully exposed, the interior of
the hut quite dark; the position far from sound. The gendarmes
knelt with their pieces ready, and Captain Hart advanced alone. As
he drew near the door he heard the snap of a gun cocking from
within, and in sheer self-defence--there being no other escape--
sprang into the house and grappled Timau. 'Timau, come with me!'
he cried. But Timau--a great fellow, his eyes blood-red with the
abuse of kava, six foot three in stature--cast him on one side; and
the captain, instantly expecting to be either shot or brained,
discharged his pistol in the dark. When they carried Timau out at
the door into the moonlight, he was already dead, and, upon this
unlooked-for termination of their sally, the whites appeared to
have lost all conduct, and retreated to the boats, fired upon by
the natives as they went. Captain Hart, who almost rivals Bishop
Dordillon in popularity, shared with him the policy of extreme
indulgence to the natives, regarding them as children, making light
of their defects, and constantly in favour of mild measures. The
death of Timau has thus somewhat weighed upon his mind; the more
so, as the chieftain's musket was found in the house unloaded. To
a less delicate conscience the matter will seem light. If a
drunken savage elects to cock a fire-arm, a gentleman advancing
towards him in the open cannot wait to make sure if it be charged.

I have touched on the captain's popularity. It is one of the
things that most strikes a stranger in the Marquesas. He comes
instantly on two names, both new to him, both locally famous, both
mentioned by all with affection and respect--the bishop's and the
captain's. It gave me a strong desire to meet with the survivor,
which was subsequently gratified--to the enrichment of these pages.
Long after that again, in the Place Dolorous--Molokai--I came once
more on the traces of that affectionate popularity. There was a
blind white leper there, an old sailor--'an old tough,' he called
himself--who had long sailed among the eastern islands. Him I used
to visit, and, being fresh from the scenes of his activity, gave
him the news. This (in the true island style) was largely a
chronicle of wrecks; and it chanced I mentioned the case of one not
very successful captain, and how he had lost a vessel for Mr. Hart;
thereupon the blind leper broke forth in lamentation. 'Did he lose
a ship of John Hart's?' he cried; 'poor John Hart! Well, I'm sorry
it was Hart's,' with needless force of epithet, which I neglect to

Perhaps, if Captain Hart's affairs had continued to prosper, his
popularity might have been different. Success wins glory, but it
kills affection, which misfortune fosters. And the misfortune
which overtook the captain's enterprise was truly singular. He was
at the top of his career. Ile Masse belonged to him, given by the
French as an indemnity for the robberies at Taahauku. But the Ile
Masse was only suitable for cattle; and his two chief stations were
Anaho, in Nuka-hiva, facing the north-east, and Taahauku in Hiva-
oa, some hundred miles to the southward, and facing the south-west.
Both these were on the same day swept by a tidal wave, which was
not felt in any other bay or island of the group. The south coast
of Hiva-oa was bestrewn with building timber and camphor-wood
chests, containing goods; which, on the promise of a reasonable
salvage, the natives very honestly brought back, the chests
apparently not opened, and some of the wood after it had been built
into their houses. But the recovery of such jetsam could not
affect the result. It was impossible the captain should withstand
this partiality of fortune; and with his fall the prosperity of the
Marquesas ended. Anaho is truly extinct, Taahauku but a shadow of
itself; nor has any new plantation arisen in their stead.


There was a certain traffic in our anchorage at Atuona; different
indeed from the dead inertia and quiescence of the sister island,
Nuka-hiva. Sails were seen steering from its mouth; now it would
be a whale-boat manned with native rowdies, and heavy with copra
for sale; now perhaps a single canoe come after commodities to buy.
The anchorage was besides frequented by fishers; not only the lone
females perched in niches of the cliff, but whole parties, who
would sometimes camp and build a fire upon the beach, and sometimes
lie in their canoes in the midst of the haven and jump by turns in
the water; which they would cast eight or nine feet high, to drive,
as we supposed, the fish into their nets. The goods the purchasers
came to buy were sometimes quaint. I remarked one outrigger
returning with a single ham swung from a pole in the stern. And
one day there came into Mr. Keane's store a charming lad,
excellently mannered, speaking French correctly though with a
babyish accent; very handsome too, and much of a dandy, as was
shown not only in his shining raiment, but by the nature of his
purchases. These were five ship-biscuits, a bottle of scent, and
two balls of washing blue. He was from Tauata, whither he returned
the same night in an outrigger, daring the deep with these young-
ladyish treasures. The gross of the native passengers were more
ill-favoured: tall, powerful fellows, well tattooed, and with
disquieting manners. Something coarse and jeering distinguished
them, and I was often reminded of the slums of some great city.
One night, as dusk was falling, a whale-boat put in on that part of
the beach where I chanced to be alone. Six or seven ruffianly
fellows scrambled out; all had enough English to give me 'good-
bye,' which was the ordinary salutation; or 'good-morning,' which
they seemed to regard as an intensitive; jests followed, they
surrounded me with harsh laughter and rude looks, and I was glad to
move away. I had not yet encountered Mr. Stewart, or I should have
been reminded of his first landing at Atuona and the humorist who
nibbled at the heel. But their neighbourhood depressed me; and I
felt, if I had been there a castaway and out of reach of help, my
heart would have been sick.

Nor was the traffic altogether native. While we lay in the
anchorage there befell a strange coincidence. A schooner was
observed at sea and aiming to enter. We knew all the schooners in
the group, but this appeared larger than any; she was rigged,
besides, after the English manner; and, coming to an anchor some
way outside the Casco, showed at last the blue ensign. There were
at that time, according to rumour, no fewer than four yachts in the
Pacific; but it was strange that any two of them should thus lie
side by side in that outlandish inlet: stranger still that in the
owner of the Nyanza, Captain Dewar, I should find a man of the same
country and the same county with myself, and one whom I had seen
walking as a boy on the shores of the Alpes Maritimes.

We had besides a white visitor from shore, who came and departed in
a crowded whale-boat manned by natives; having read of yachts in
the Sunday papers, and being fired with the desire to see one.
Captain Chase, they called him, an old whaler-man, thickset and
white-bearded, with a strong Indiana drawl; years old in the
country, a good backer in battle, and one of those dead shots whose
practice at the target struck terror in the braves of Haamau.
Captain Chase dwelt farther east in a bay called Hanamate, with a
Mr. M'Callum; or rather they had dwelt together once, and were now
amicably separated. The captain is to be found near one end of the
bay, in a wreck of a house, and waited on by a Chinese. At the
point of the opposing corner another habitation stands on a tall
paepae. The surf runs there exceeding heavy, seas of seven and
eight feet high bursting under the walls of the house, which is
thus continually filled with their clamour, and rendered fit only
for solitary, or at least for silent, inmates. Here it is that Mr.
M'Callum, with a Shakespeare and a Burns, enjoys the society of the
breakers. His name and his Burns testify to Scottish blood; but he
is an American born, somewhere far east; followed the trade of a
ship-carpenter; and was long employed, the captain of a hundred
Indians, breaking up wrecks about Cape Flattery. Many of the
whites who are to be found scattered in the South Seas represent
the more artistic portion of their class; and not only enjoy the
poetry of that new life, but came there on purpose to enjoy it. I
have been shipmates with a man, no longer young, who sailed upon
that voyage, his first time to sea, for the mere love of Samoa; and
it was a few letters in a newspaper that sent him on that
pilgrimage. Mr. M'Callum was another instance of the same. He had
read of the South Seas; loved to read of them; and let their image
fasten in his heart: till at length he could refrain no longer--
must set forth, a new Rudel, for that unseen homeland--and has now
dwelt for years in Hiva-oa, and will lay his bones there in the end
with full content; having no desire to behold again the places of
his boyhood, only, perhaps--once, before he dies--the rude and
wintry landscape of Cape Flattery. Yet he is an active man, full
of schemes; has bought land of the natives; has planted five
thousand coco-palms; has a desert island in his eye, which he
desires to lease, and a schooner in the stocks, which he has laid
and built himself, and even hopes to finish. Mr. M'Callum and I
did not meet, but, like gallant troubadours, corresponded in verse.
I hope he will not consider it a breach of copyright if I give here
a specimen of his muse. He and Bishop Dordillon are the two
European bards of the Marquesas.

'Sail, ho! Ahoy! Casco,
First among the pleasure fleet
That came around to greet
These isles from San Francisco,

And first, too; only one
Among the literary men
That this way has ever been -
Welcome, then, to Stevenson.

Please not offended be
At this little notice
Of the Casco, Captain Otis,
With the novelist's family.

Avoir une voyage magnifical
Is our wish sincere,
That you'll have from here
Allant sur la Grande Pacifical.'

But our chief visitor was one Mapiao, a great Tahuku--which seems
to mean priest, wizard, tattooer, practiser of any art, or, in a
word, esoteric person--and a man famed for his eloquence on public
occasions and witty talk in private. His first appearance was
typical of the man. He came down clamorous to the eastern landing,
where the surf was running very high; scorned all our signals to go
round the bay; carried his point, was brought aboard at some hazard
to our skiff, and set down in one corner of the cockpit to his
appointed task. He had been hired, as one cunning in the art, to
make my old men's beards into a wreath: what a wreath for Celia's
arbour! His own beard (which he carried, for greater safety, in a
sailor's knot) was not merely the adornment of his age, but a
substantial piece of property. One hundred dollars was the
estimated value; and as Brother Michel never knew a native to
deposit a greater sum with Bishop Dordillon, our friend was a rich
man in virtue of his chin. He had something of an East Indian
cast, but taller and stronger: his nose hooked, his face narrow,
his forehead very high, the whole elaborately tattooed. I may say
I have never entertained a guest so trying. In the least
particular he must be waited on; he would not go to the scuttle-
butt for water; he would not even reach to get the glass, it must
be given him in his hand; if aid were denied him, he would fold his
arms, bow his head, and go without: only the work would suffer.
Early the first forenoon he called aloud for biscuit and salmon;
biscuit and ham were brought; he looked on them inscrutably, and
signed they should be set aside. A number of considerations
crowded on my mind; how the sort of work on which he was engaged
was probably tapu in a high degree; should by rights, perhaps, be
transacted on a tapu platform which no female might approach; and
it was possible that fish might be the essential diet. Some salted
fish I therefore brought him, and along with that a glass of rum:
at sight of which Mapiao displayed extraordinary animation, pointed
to the zenith, made a long speech in which I picked up umati--the
word for the sun--and signed to me once more to place these
dainties out of reach. At last I had understood, and every day the
programme was the same. At an early period of the morning his
dinner must be set forth on the roof of the house and at a proper
distance, full in view but just out of reach; and not until the fit
hour, which was the point of noon, would the artificer partake.
This solemnity was the cause of an absurd misadventure. He was
seated plaiting, as usual, at the beards, his dinner arrayed on the
roof, and not far off a glass of water standing. It appears he
desired to drink; was of course far too great a gentleman to rise
and get the water for himself; and spying Mrs. Stevenson,
imperiously signed to her to hand it. The signal was
misunderstood; Mrs. Stevenson was, by this time, prepared for any
eccentricity on the part of our guest; and instead of passing him
the water, flung his dinner overboard. I must do Mapiao justice:
all laughed, but his laughter rang the loudest.

These troubles of service were at worst occasional; the
embarrassment of the man's talk incessant. He was plainly a
practised conversationalist; the nicety of his inflections, the
elegance of his gestures, and the fine play of his expression, told
us that. We, meanwhile, sat like aliens in a playhouse; we could
see the actors were upon some material business and performing
well, but the plot of the drama remained undiscoverable. Names of
places, the name of Captain Hart, occasional disconnected words,
tantalised without enlightening us; and the less we understood, the
more gallantly, the more copiously, and with still the more
explanatory gestures, Mapiao returned to the assault. We could see
his vanity was on the rack; being come to a place where that fine
jewel of his conversational talent could earn him no respect; and
he had times of despair when he desisted from the endeavour, and
instants of irritation when he regarded us with unconcealed
contempt. Yet for me, as the practitioner of some kindred mystery
to his own, he manifested to the last a measure of respect. As we
sat under the awning in opposite corners of the cockpit, he
braiding hairs from dead men's chins, I forming runes upon a sheet
of folio paper, he would nod across to me as one Tahuku to another,
or, crossing the cockpit, study for a while my shapeless scrawl and
encourage me with a heartfelt 'mitai!--good!' So might a deaf
painter sympathise far off with a musician, as the slave and master
of some uncomprehended and yet kindred art. A silly trade, he
doubtless considered it; but a man must make allowance for
barbarians--chaque pays a ses coutumes--and he felt the principle
was there.

The time came at last when his labours, which resembled those
rather of Penelope than Hercules, could be no more spun out, and
nothing remained but to pay him and say farewell. After a long,
learned argument in Marquesan, I gathered that his mind was set on
fish-hooks; with three of which, and a brace of dollars, I thought
he was not ill rewarded for passing his forenoons in our cockpit,
eating, drinking, delivering his opinions, and pressing the ship's
company into his menial service. For all that, he was a man of so
high a bearing, and so like an uncle of my own who should have gone
mad and got tattooed, that I applied to him, when we were both on
shore, to know if he were satisfied. 'Mitai ehipe?' I asked. And
he, with rich unction, offering at the same time his hand--'Mitai
ehipe, mitai kaehae; kaoha nui!'--or, to translate freely: 'The
ship is good, the victuals are up to the mark, and we part in
friendship.' Which testimonial uttered, he set off along the beach
with his head bowed and the air of one deeply injured.

I saw him go, on my side, with relief. It would be more
interesting to learn how our relation seemed to Mapiao. His
exigence, we may suppose, was merely loyal. He had been hired by
the ignorant to do a piece of work; and he was bound that he would
do it the right way. Countless obstacles, continual ignorant
ridicule, availed not to dissuade him. He had his dinner laid out;
watched it, as was fit, the while he worked; ate it at the fit
hour; was in all things served and waited on; and could take his
hire in the end with a clear conscience, telling himself the
mystery was performed duly, the beards rightfully braided, and we
(in spite of ourselves) correctly served. His view of our
stupidity, even he, the mighty talker, must have lacked language to
express. He never interfered with my Tahuku work; civilly praised
it, idle as it seemed; civilly supposed that I was competent in my
own mystery: such being the attitude of the intelligent and the
polite. And we, on the other hand--who had yet the most to gain or
lose, since the product was to be ours--who had professed our
disability by the very act of hiring him to do it--were never weary
of impeding his own more important labours, and sometimes lacked
the sense and the civility to refrain from laughter.


The road from Taahauku to Atuona skirted the north-westerly side of
the anchorage, somewhat high up, edged, and sometimes shaded, by
the splendid flowers of the flamboyant--its English name I do not
know. At the turn of the hand, Atuona came in view: a long beach,
a heavy and loud breach of surf, a shore-side village scattered
among trees, and the guttered mountains drawing near on both sides
above a narrow and rich ravine. Its infamous repute perhaps
affected me; but I thought it the loveliest, and by far the most
ominous and gloomy, spot on earth. Beautiful it surely was; and
even more salubrious. The healthfulness of the whole group is
amazing; that of Atuona almost in the nature of a miracle. In
Atuona, a village planted in a shore-side marsh, the houses
standing everywhere intermingled with the pools of a taro-garden,
we find every condition of tropical danger and discomfort; and yet
there are not even mosquitoes--not even the hateful day-fly of
Nuka-hiva--and fever, and its concomitant, the island fe'efe'e, are

This is the chief station of the French on the man-eating isle of
Hiva-oa. The sergeant of gendarmerie enjoys the style of the vice-
resident, and hoists the French colours over a quite extensive
compound. A Chinaman, a waif from the plantation, keeps a
restaurant in the rear quarters of the village; and the mission is
well represented by the sister's school and Brother Michel's
church. Father Orens, a wonderful octogenarian, his frame scarce
bowed, the fire of his eye undimmed, has lived, and trembled, and
suffered in this place since 1843. Again and again, when Moipu had
made coco-brandy, he has been driven from his house into the woods.
'A mouse that dwelt in a cat's ear' had a more easy resting-place;
and yet I have never seen a man that bore less mark of years. He
must show us the church, still decorated with the bishop's artless
ornaments of paper--the last work of industrious old hands, and the
last earthly amusement of a man that was much of a hero. In the
sacristy we must see his sacred vessels, and, in particular, a
vestment which was a 'vraie curiosite,' because it had been given
by a gendarme. To the Protestant there is always something
embarrassing in the eagerness with which grown and holy men regard
these trifles; but it was touching and pretty to see Orens, his
aged eyes shining in his head, display his sacred treasures.

August 26.--The vale behind the village, narrowing swiftly to a
mere ravine, was choked with profitable trees. A river gushed in
the midst. Overhead, the tall coco-palms made a primary covering;
above that, from one wall of the mountain to another, the ravine
was roofed with cloud; so that we moved below, amid teeming
vegetation, in a covered house of heat. On either hand, at every
hundred yards, instead of the houseless, disembowelling paepaes of
Nuka-hiva, populous houses turned out their inhabitants to cry
'Kaoha!' to the passers-by. The road, too, was busy: strings of
girls, fair and foul, as in less favoured countries; men bearing
breadfruit; the sisters, with a little guard of pupils; a fellow
bestriding a horse--passed and greeted us continually; and now it
was a Chinaman who came to the gate of his flower-yard, and gave us
'Good-day' in excellent English; and a little farther on it would
be some natives who set us down by the wayside, made us a feast of
mummy-apple, and entertained us as we ate with drumming on a tin
case. With all this fine plenty of men and fruit, death is at work
here also. The population, according to the highest estimate, does
not exceed six hundred in the whole vale of Atuona; and yet, when I
once chanced to put the question, Brother Michel counted up ten
whom he knew to be sick beyond recovery. It was here, too, that I
could at last gratify my curiosity with the sight of a native house
in the very article of dissolution. It had fallen flat along the
paepae, its poles sprawling ungainly; the rains and the mites
contended against it; what remained seemed sound enough, but much
was gone already; and it was easy to see how the insects consumed
the walls as if they had been bread, and the air and the rain ate
into them like vitriol.

A little ahead of us, a young gentleman, very well tattooed, and
dressed in a pair of white trousers and a flannel shirt, had been
marching unconcernedly. Of a sudden, without apparent cause, he
turned back, took us in possession, and led us undissuadably along
a by-path to the river's edge. There, in a nook of the most
attractive amenity, he bade us to sit down: the stream splashing
at our elbow, a shock of nondescript greenery enshrining us from
above; and thither, after a brief absence, he brought us a cocoa-
nut, a lump of sandal-wood, and a stick he had begun to carve: the
nut for present refreshment, the sandal-wood for a precious gift,
and the stick--in the simplicity of his vanity--to harvest
premature praise. Only one section was yet carved, although the
whole was pencil-marked in lengths; and when I proposed to buy it,
Poni (for that was the artist's name) recoiled in horror. But I
was not to be moved, and simply refused restitution, for I had long
wondered why a people who displayed, in their tattooing, so great a
gift of arabesque invention, should display it nowhere else. Here,
at last, I had found something of the same talent in another
medium; and I held the incompleteness, in these days of world-wide
brummagem, for a happy mark of authenticity. Neither my reasons
nor my purpose had I the means of making clear to Poni; I could
only hold on to the stick, and bid the artist follow me to the
gendarmerie, where I should find interpreters and money; but we
gave him, in the meanwhile, a boat-call in return for his sandal-
wood. As he came behind us down the vale he sounded upon this
continually. And continually, from the wayside houses, there
poured forth little groups of girls in crimson, or of men in white.
And to these must Poni pass the news of who the strangers were, of
what they had been doing, of why it was that Poni had a boat-
whistle; and of why he was now being haled to the vice-residency,
uncertain whether to be punished or rewarded, uncertain whether he
had lost a stick or made a bargain, but hopeful on the whole, and
in the meanwhile highly consoled by the boat-whistle. Whereupon he
would tear himself away from this particular group of inquirers,
and once more we would hear the shrill call in our wake.

August 27.--I made a more extended circuit in the vale with Brother
Michel. We were mounted on a pair of sober nags, suitable to these
rude paths; the weather was exquisite, and the company in which I
found myself no less agreeable than the scenes through which I
passed. We mounted at first by a steep grade along the summit of
one of those twisted spurs that, from a distance, mark out
provinces of sun and shade upon the mountain-side. The ground fell
away on either hand with an extreme declivity. From either hand,
out of profound ravines, mounted the song of falling water and the
smoke of household fires. Here and there the hills of foliage
would divide, and our eye would plunge down upon one of these deep-
nested habitations. And still, high in front, arose the
precipitous barrier of the mountain, greened over where it seemed
that scarce a harebell could find root, barred with the zigzags of
a human road where it seemed that not a goat could scramble. And
in truth, for all the labour that it cost, the road is regarded
even by the Marquesans as impassable; they will not risk a horse on
that ascent; and those who lie to the westward come and go in their
canoes. I never knew a hill to lose so little on a near approach:
a consequence, I must suppose, of its surprising steepness. When
we turned about, I was amazed to behold so deep a view behind, and
so high a shoulder of blue sea, crowned by the whale-like island of
Motane. And yet the wall of mountain had not visibly dwindled, and
I could even have fancied, as I raised my eyes to measure it, that
it loomed higher than before.

We struck now into covert paths, crossed and heard more near at
hand the bickering of the streams, and tasted the coolness of those
recesses where the houses stood. The birds sang about us as we
descended. All along our path my guide was being hailed by voices:
'Mikael--Kaoha, Mikael!' From the doorstep, from the cotton-patch,
or out of the deep grove of island-chestnuts, these friendly cries
arose, and were cheerily answered as we passed. In a sharp angle
of a glen, on a rushing brook and under fathoms of cool foliage, we
struck a house upon a well-built paepae, the fire brightly burning
under the popoi-shed against the evening meal; and here the cries
became a chorus, and the house folk, running out, obliged us to
dismount and breathe. It seemed a numerous family: we saw eight
at least; and one of these honoured me with a particular attention.
This was the mother, a woman naked to the waist, of an aged
countenance, but with hair still copious and black, and breasts
still erect and youthful. On our arrival I could see she remarked
me, but instead of offering any greeting, disappeared at once into
the bush. Thence she returned with two crimson flowers. 'Good-
bye!' was her salutation, uttered not without coquetry; and as she
said it she pressed the flowers into my hand--'Good-bye! I speak
Inglis.' It was from a whaler-man, who (she informed me) was 'a
plenty good chap,' that she had learned my language; and I could
not but think how handsome she must have been in these times of her
youth, and could not but guess that some memories of the dandy
whaler-man prompted her attentions to myself. Nor could I refrain
from wondering what had befallen her lover; in the rain and mire of
what sea-ports he had tramped since then; in what close and garish
drinking-dens had found his pleasure; and in the ward of what
infirmary dreamed his last of the Marquesas. But she, the more
fortunate, lived on in her green island. The talk, in this lost
house upon the mountains, ran chiefly upon Mapiao and his visits to
the Casco: the news of which had probably gone abroad by then to
all the island, so that there was no paepae in Hiva-oa where they
did not make the subject of excited comment.

Not much beyond we came upon a high place in the foot of the
ravine. Two roads divided it, and met in the midst. Save for this
intersection the amphitheatre was strangely perfect, and had a
certain ruder air of things Roman. Depths of foliage and the bulk
of the mountain kept it in a grateful shadow. On the benches
several young folk sat clustered or apart. One of these, a girl
perhaps fourteen years of age, buxom and comely, caught the eye of
Brother Michel. Why was she not at school?--she was done with
school now. What was she doing here?--she lived here now. Why
so?--no answer but a deepening blush. There was no severity in
Brother Michel's manner; the girl's own confusion told her story.
'Elle a honte,' was the missionary's comment, as we rode away.
Near by in the stream, a grown girl was bathing naked in a goyle
between two stepping-stones; and it amused me to see with what
alacrity and real alarm she bounded on her many-coloured under-
clothes. Even in these daughters of cannibals shame was eloquent.

It is in Hiva-oa, owing to the inveterate cannibalism of the
natives, that local beliefs have been most rudely trodden
underfoot. It was here that three religious chiefs were set under
a bridge, and the women of the valley made to defile over their
heads upon the road-way: the poor, dishonoured fellows sitting
there (all observers agree) with streaming tears. Not only was one
road driven across the high place, but two roads intersected in its
midst. There is no reason to suppose that the last was done of
purpose, and perhaps it was impossible entirely to avoid the
numerous sacred places of the islands. But these things are not
done without result. I have spoken already of the regard of
Marquesans for the dead, making (as it does) so strange a contrast
with their unconcern for death. Early on this day's ride, for
instance, we encountered a petty chief, who inquired (of course)
where we were going, and suggested by way of amendment. 'Why do
you not rather show him the cemetery?' I saw it; it was but newly
opened, the third within eight years. They are great builders here
in Hiva-oa; I saw in my ride paepaes that no European dry-stone
mason could have equalled, the black volcanic stones were laid so
justly, the corners were so precise, the levels so true; but the
retaining-wall of the new graveyard stood apart, and seemed to be a
work of love. The sentiment of honour for the dead is therefore
not extinct. And yet observe the consequence of violently
countering men's opinions. Of the four prisoners in Atuona gaol,
three were of course thieves; the fourth was there for sacrilege.
He had levelled up a piece of the graveyard--to give a feast upon,
as he informed the court--and declared he had no thought of doing
wrong. Why should he? He had been forced at the point of the
bayonet to destroy the sacred places of his own piety; when he had
recoiled from the task, he had been jeered at for a superstitious
fool. And now it is supposed he will respect our European
superstitions as by second nature.


It had chanced (as the Casco beat through the Bordelais Straits for
Taahauku) she approached on one board very near the land in the
opposite isle of Tauata, where houses were to be seen in a grove of
tall coco-palms. Brother Michel pointed out the spot. 'I am at
home now,' said he. 'I believe I have a large share in these
cocoa-nuts; and in that house madame my mother lives with her two
husbands!' 'With two husbands?' somebody inquired. 'C'est ma
honte,' replied the brother drily.

A word in passing on the two husbands. I conceive the brother to
have expressed himself loosely. It seems common enough to find a
native lady with two consorts; but these are not two husbands. The
first is still the husband; the wife continues to be referred to by
his name; and the position of the coadjutor, or pikio, although
quite regular, appears undoubtedly subordinate. We had
opportunities to observe one household of the sort. The pikio was
recognised; appeared openly along with the husband when the lady
was thought to be insulted, and the pair made common cause like
brothers. At home the inequality was more apparent. The husband
sat to receive and entertain visitors; the pikio was running the
while to fetch cocoa-nuts like a hired servant, and I remarked he
was sent on these errands in preference even to the son. Plainly
we have here no second husband; plainly we have the tolerated
lover. Only, in the Marquesas, instead of carrying his lady's fan
and mantle, he must turn his hand to do the husband's housework.

The sight of Brother Michel's family estate led the conversation
for some while upon the method and consequence of artificial
kinship. Our curiosity became extremely whetted; the brother
offered to have the whole of us adopted, and some two days later we
became accordingly the children of Paaaeua, appointed chief of
Atuona. I was unable to be present at the ceremony, which was
primitively simple. The two Mrs. Stevensons and Mr. Osbourne,
along with Paaaeua, his wife, and an adopted child of theirs, son
of a shipwrecked Austrian, sat down to an excellent island meal, of
which the principal and the only necessary dish was pig. A
concourse watched them through the apertures of the house; but
none, not even Brother Michel, might partake; for the meal was
sacramental, and either creative or declaratory of the new
relationship. In Tahiti things are not so strictly ordered; when
Ori and I 'made brothers,' both our families sat with us at table,
yet only he and I, who had eaten with intention were supposed to be
affected by the ceremony. For the adoption of an infant I believe
no formality to be required; the child is handed over by the
natural parents, and grows up to inherit the estates of the
adoptive. Presents are doubtless exchanged, as at all junctures of
island life, social or international; but I never heard of any
banquet--the child's presence at the daily board perhaps sufficing.
We may find the rationale in the ancient Arabian idea that a common
diet makes a common blood, with its derivative axiom that 'he is
the father who gives the child its morning draught.' In the
Marquesan practice, the sense would thus be evanescent; from the
Tahitian, a mere survival, it will have entirely fled. An
interesting parallel will probably occur to many of my readers.

What is the nature of the obligation assumed at such a festival?
It will vary with the characters of those engaged, and with the
circumstances of the case. Thus it would be absurd to take too
seriously our adoption at Atuona. On the part of Paaaeua it was an
affair of social ambition; when he agreed to receive us in his
family the man had not so much as seen us, and knew only that we
were inestimably rich and travelled in a floating palace. We, upon
our side, ate of his baked meats with no true animus affiliandi,
but moved by the single sentiment of curiosity. The affair was
formal, and a matter of parade, as when in Europe sovereigns call
each other cousin. Yet, had we stayed at Atuona, Paaaeua would
have held himself bound to establish us upon his land, and to set
apart young men for our service, and trees for our support. I have
mentioned the Austrian. He sailed in one of two sister ships,
which left the Clyde in coal; both rounded the Horn, and both, at
several hundred miles of distance, though close on the same point
of time, took fire at sea on the Pacific. One was destroyed; the
derelict iron frame of the second, after long, aimless cruising,
was at length recovered, refitted, and hails to-day from San
Francisco. A boat's crew from one of these disasters reached,
after great hardships, the isle of Hiva-oa. Some of these men
vowed they would never again confront the chances of the sea; but
alone of them all the Austrian has been exactly true to his
engagement, remains where he landed, and designs to die where he
has lived. Now, with such a man, falling and taking root among
islanders, the processes described may be compared to a gardener's
graft. He passes bodily into the native stock; ceases wholly to be
alien; has entered the commune of the blood, shares the prosperity
and consideration of his new family, and is expected to impart with
the same generosity the fruits of his European skill and knowledge.
It is this implied engagement that so frequently offends the
ingrafted white. To snatch an immediate advantage--to get (let us
say) a station for his store--he will play upon the native custom
and become a son or a brother for the day, promising himself to
cast down the ladder by which he shall have ascended, and repudiate
the kinship so soon as it shall grow burdensome. And he finds
there are two parties to the bargain. Perhaps his Polynesian
relative is simple, and conceived the blood-bond literally; perhaps
he is shrewd, and himself entered the covenant with a view to gain.
And either way the store is ravaged, the house littered with lazy
natives; and the richer the man grows, the more numerous, the more
idle, and the more affectionate he finds his native relatives.
Most men thus circumstanced contrive to buy or brutally manage to
enforce their independence; but many vegetate without hope,
strangled by parasites.

We had no cause to blush with Brother Michel. Our new parents were
kind, gentle, well-mannered, and generous in gifts; the wife was a
most motherly woman, the husband a man who stood justly high with
his employers. Enough has been said to show why Moipu should be
deposed; and in Paaaeua the French had found a reputable
substitute. He went always scrupulously dressed, and looked the
picture of propriety, like a dark, handsome, stupid, and probably
religious young man hot from a European funeral. In character he
seemed the ideal of what is known as the good citizen. He wore
gravity like an ornament. None could more nicely represent the
desired character as an appointed chief, the outpost of
civilisation and reform. And yet, were the French to go and native
manners to revive, fancy beholds him crowned with old men's beards
and crowding with the first to a man-eating festival. But I must
not seem to be unjust to Paaaeua. His respectability went deeper
than the skin; his sense of the becoming sometimes nerved him for
unexpected rigours.

One evening Captain Otis and Mr. Osbourne were on shore in the
village. All was agog; dancing had begun; it was plain it was to
be a night of festival, and our adventurers were overjoyed at their
good fortune. A strong fall of rain drove them for shelter to the
house of Paaaeua, where they were made welcome, wiled into a
chamber, and shut in. Presently the rain took off, the fun was to
begin in earnest, and the young bloods of Atuona came round the
house and called to my fellow-travellers through the interstices of
the wall. Late into the night the calls were continued and
resumed, and sometimes mingled with taunts; late into the night the
prisoners, tantalised by the noises of the festival, renewed their
efforts to escape. But all was vain; right across the door lay
that god-fearing householder, Paaaeua, feigning sleep; and my
friends had to forego their junketing. In this incident, so
delightfully European, we thought we could detect three strands of
sentiment. In the first place, Paaaeua had a charge of souls:
these were young men, and he judged it right to withhold them from
the primrose path. Secondly, he was a public character, and it was
not fitting that his guests should countenance a festival of which
he disapproved. So might some strict clergyman at home address a
worldly visitor: 'Go to the theatre if you like, but, by your
leave, not from my house!' Thirdly, Paaaeua was a man jealous, and
with some cause (as shall be shown) for jealousy; and the feasters
were the satellites of his immediate rival, Moipu.

For the adoption had caused much excitement in the village; it made
the strangers popular. Paaaeua, in his difficult posture of
appointed chief, drew strength and dignity from their alliance, and
only Moipu and his followers were malcontent. For some reason
nobody (except myself) appears to dislike Moipu. Captain Hart, who
has been robbed and threatened by him; Father Orens, whom he has
fired at, and repeatedly driven to the woods; my own family, and
even the French officials--all seemed smitten with an irrepressible
affection for the man. His fall had been made soft; his son, upon
his death, was to succeed Paaaeua in the chieftaincy; and he lived,
at the time of our visit, in the shoreward part of the village in a
good house, and with a strong following of young men, his late
braves and pot-hunters. In this society, the coming of the Casco,
the adoption, the return feast on board, and the presents exchanged
between the whites and their new parents, were doubtless eagerly
and bitterly canvassed. It was felt that a few years ago the
honours would have gone elsewhere. In this unwonted business, in
this reception of some hitherto undreamed-of and outlandish
potentate--some Prester John or old Assaracus--a few years back it
would have been the part of Moipu to play the hero and the host,
and his young men would have accompanied and adorned the various
celebrations as the acknowledged leaders of society. And now, by a
malign vicissitude of fortune, Moipu must sit in his house quite
unobserved; and his young men could but look in at the door while
their rivals feasted. Perhaps M. Grevy felt a touch of bitterness
towards his successor when he beheld him figure on the broad stage
of the centenary of eighty-nine; the visit of the Casco which Moipu
had missed by so few years was a more unusual occasion in Atuona
than a centenary in France; and the dethroned chief determined to
reassert himself in the public eye.

Mr. Osbourne had gone into Atuona photographing; the population of
the village had gathered together for the occasion on the place
before the church, and Paaaeua, highly delighted with this new
appearance of his family, played the master of ceremonies. The
church had been taken, with its jolly architect before the door;
the nuns with their pupils; sundry damsels in the ancient and
singularly unbecoming robes of tapa; and Father Orens in the midst
of a group of his parishioners. I know not what else was in hand,
when the photographer became aware of a sensation in the crowd,
and, looking around, beheld a very noble figure of a man appear
upon the margin of a thicket and stroll nonchalantly near. The
nonchalance was visibly affected; it was plain he came there to
arouse attention, and his success was instant. He was introduced;
he was civil, he was obliging, he was always ineffably superior and
certain of himself; a well-graced actor. It was presently
suggested that he should appear in his war costume; he gracefully
consented; and returned in that strange, inappropriate and ill-
omened array (which very well became his handsome person) to strut
in a circle of admirers, and be thenceforth the centre of
photography. Thus had Moipu effected his introduction, as by
accident, to the white strangers, made it a favour to display his
finery, and reduced his rival to a secondary role on the theatre of
the disputed village. Paaaeua felt the blow; and, with a spirit
which we never dreamed he could possess, asserted his priority. It
was found impossible that day to get a photograph of Moipu alone;
for whenever he stood up before the camera his successor placed
himself unbidden by his side, and gently but firmly held to his
position. The portraits of the pair, Jacob and Esau, standing
shoulder to shoulder, one in his careful European dress, one in his
barbaric trappings, figure the past and present of their island. A
graveyard with its humble crosses would be the aptest symbol of the

We are all impressed with the belief that Moipu had planned his
campaign from the beginning to the end. It is certain that he lost
no time in pushing his advantage. Mr. Osbourne was inveigled to
his house; various gifts were fished out of an old sea-chest;
Father Orens was called into service as interpreter, and Moipu
formally proposed to 'make brothers' with Mata-Galahi--Glass-Eyes,-
-the not very euphonious name under which Mr. Osbourne passed in
the Marquesas. The feast of brotherhood took place on board the
Casco. Paaaeua had arrived with his family, like a plain man; and
his presents, which had been numerous, had followed one another, at
intervals through several days. Moipu, as if to mark at every
point the opposition, came with a certain feudal pomp, attended by
retainers bearing gifts of all descriptions, from plumes of old
men's beard to little, pious, Catholic engravings.

I had met the man before this in the village, and detested him on
sight; there was something indescribably raffish in his looks and
ways that raised my gorge; and when man-eating was referred to, and
he laughed a low, cruel laugh, part boastful, part bashful, like
one reminded of some dashing peccadillo, my repugnance was mingled
with nausea. This is no very human attitude, nor one at all
becoming in a traveller. And, seen more privately, the man
improved. Something negroid in character and face was still
displeasing; but his ugly mouth became attractive when he smiled,
his figure and bearing were certainly noble, and his eyes superb.
In his appreciation of jams and pickles, in is delight in the
reverberating mirrors of the dining cabin, and consequent endless
repetition of Moipus and Mata-Galahis, he showed himself engagingly
a child. And yet I am not sure; and what seemed childishness may
have been rather courtly art. His manners struck me as beyond the
mark; they were refined and caressing to the point of grossness,
and when I think of the serene absent-mindedness with which he
first strolled in upon our party, and then recall him running on
hands and knees along the cabin sofas, pawing the velvet, dipping
into the beds, and bleating commendatory 'mitais' with exaggerated
emphasis, like some enormous over-mannered ape, I feel the more
sure that both must have been calculated. And I sometimes wonder
next, if Moipu were quite alone in this polite duplicity, and ask
myself whether the Casco were quite so much admired in the
Marquesas as our visitors desired us to suppose.

I will complete this sketch of an incurable cannibal grandee with
two incongruous traits. His favourite morsel was the human hand,
of which he speaks to-day with an ill-favoured lustfulness. And
when he said good-bye to Mrs. Stevenson, holding her hand, viewing
her with tearful eyes, and chanting his farewell improvisation in
the falsetto of Marquesan high society, he wrote upon her mind a
sentimental impression which I try in vain to share.



In the early morning of 4th September a whale-boat manned by
natives dragged us down the green lane of the anchorage and round
the spouting promontory. On the shore level it was a hot,
breathless, and yet crystal morning; but high overhead the hills of
Atuona were all cowled in cloud, and the ocean-river of the trades
streamed without pause. As we crawled from under the immediate
shelter of the land, we reached at last the limit of their
influence. The wind fell upon our sails in puffs, which
strengthened and grew more continuous; presently the Casco heeled
down to her day's work; the whale-boat, quite outstripped, clung
for a noisy moment to her quarter; the stipulated bread, rum, and
tobacco were passed in; a moment more and the boat was in our wake,
and our late pilots were cheering our departure.

This was the more inspiriting as we were bound for scenes so
different, and though on a brief voyage, yet for a new province of
creation. That wide field of ocean, called loosely the South Seas,
extends from tropic to tropic, and from perhaps 123 degrees W. to
150 degrees E., a parallelogram of one hundred degrees by forty-
seven, where degrees are the most spacious. Much of it lies
vacant, much is closely sown with isles, and the isles are of two
sorts. No distinction is so continually dwelt upon in South Sea
talk as that between the 'low' and the 'high' island, and there is
none more broadly marked in nature. The Himalayas are not more
different from the Sahara. On the one hand, and chiefly in groups
of from eight to a dozen, volcanic islands rise above the sea; few
reach an altitude of less than 4000 feet; one exceeds 13,000; their
tops are often obscured in cloud, they are all clothed with various
forests, all abound in food, and are all remarkable for picturesque
and solemn scenery. On the other hand, we have the atoll; a thing
of problematic origin and history, the reputed creature of an
insect apparently unidentified; rudely annular in shape; enclosing
a lagoon; rarely extending beyond a quarter of a mile at its chief
width; often rising at its highest point to less than the stature
of a man--man himself, the rat and the land crab, its chief
inhabitants; not more variously supplied with plants; and offering
to the eye, even when perfect, only a ring of glittering beach and
verdant foliage, enclosing and enclosed by the blue sea.

In no quarter are the atolls so thickly congregated, in none are
they so varied in size from the greatest to the least, and in none
is navigation so beset with perils, as in that archipelago that we
were now to thread. The huge system of the trades is, for some
reason, quite confounded by this multiplicity of reefs, the wind
intermits, squalls are frequent from the west and south-west,
hurricanes are known. The currents are, besides, inextricably
intermixed; dead reckoning becomes a farce; the charts are not to
be trusted; and such is the number and similarity of these islands
that, even when you have picked one up, you may be none the wiser.
The reputation of the place is consequently infamous; insurance
offices exclude it from their field, and it was not without
misgiving that my captain risked the Casco in such waters. I
believe, indeed, it is almost understood that yachts are to avoid
this baffling archipelago; and it required all my instances--and
all Mr. Otis's private taste for adventure--to deflect our course
across its midst.

For a few days we sailed with a steady trade, and a steady westerly
current setting us to leeward; and toward sundown of the seventh it
was supposed we should have sighted Takaroa, one of Cook's so-
called King George Islands. The sun set; yet a while longer the
old moon--semi-brilliant herself, and with a silver belly, which
was her successor--sailed among gathering clouds; she, too,
deserted us; stars of every degree of sheen, and clouds of every
variety of form disputed the sub-lustrous night; and still we gazed
in vain for Takaroa. The mate stood on the bowsprit, his tall grey
figure slashing up and down against the stars, and still

'nihil astra praeter
Vidit et undas.

The rest of us were grouped at the port anchor davit, staring with
no less assiduity, but with far less hope on the obscure horizon.
Islands we beheld in plenty, but they were of 'such stuff as dreams
are made on,' and vanished at a wink, only to appear in other
places; and by and by not only islands, but refulgent and revolving
lights began to stud the darkness; lighthouses of the mind or of
the wearied optic nerve, solemnly shining and winking as we passed.


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