28th November 2010

Well readers... after the excitement of the Galapagos and Tahiti the next fortnight sees the Beagle sailing quietly across the Pacific toward New Zealand. Land-fall there is on the 19th December, so we have the best part of three weeks to wait. There will be an entry for the 3rd December, but then -- apart from some of Fitzroy's thoughts on the Pacific Ocean and Fiji (which the Beagle did not visit). Stay with me and perhaps re-read some of the wonderful Diary and Journal postings of the past 4 years of the voyage.

26th November 1835

FitzRoy & myself went on shore. The object was to wait for a deed signed by the Queen & two principal chiefs stating how much of the required sum was paid & their determination immediately to collect the remainder. — In the course of the day we paid two visits to the Queen in her house, which I must need say is a most paltry place. — In the evening dined with Mr Pritchard, whom I regret I had not time to become better ackquainted with, & afterwards we went on board the Ship, which was under weigh waiting for us in the offing, In the evening with a gentle land breeze a course was steered for New Zealand, & as the Sun set we took a farewell look at the mountains of Tahiti, — the island to which every traveller has offered up his tribute of admiration.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
At daylight this morning some of us visited the school. As I had heard of 'compulsion' and other absurdities, I went early to get there before Mr. Pritchard arrived, without having hinted at such an intention.

About the large chapel or church, groups of elderly and old people were sitting by threes and fours in a place, helping each other to read the New Testament. While one read the others listened, and, if able, corrected him. One man not less than fifty years of age, was learning to read, with spectacles. Some came in, others went out, just as they chose, for there was not any one even to watch them till Mr. Pritchard came: and during about an hour after sunrise, every day, those people, both women and men, thus instructed one another, previous to beginning their daily out-of-door labours.

In the school-house I found a number of children, waiting for their teacher, who soon arrived and gave them their tasks. The greater part of them wrote sentences on slates from his dictation, with ease and correctness. One sentence he gave them was, 'the captain wishes you happiness,' which they wrote instantly, and some of their own accord added, 'and we wish happiness to the captain.' The handwriting of many, indeed most of the elder girls and boys, was very good: and to verbal questions they replied readily. They seemed to be in good discipline, and yet a merrier or more cheerful looking set of children I never saw. A hymn excellently, or, I ought perhaps to say, prettily sung, ended their attendance.

Returning by way of the church, I saw Hitote, his brother, and other chiefs, engaged in eager discussion. Mr. Pritchard and I went in: "You are just come in time," said they, "we are disputing about the lightning conductors on board the Beagle, and cannot determine whether they end in the ship's hold, or whether they go through her bottom, into the water." Mr. Pritchard explained: a momentary pause ensued—each seemed trying to understand the puzzling subject; when a shrewd old man, hitherto a quiet listener, remarked—"you white men are wonderfully clever, you know and do most things, I wish some of you (passing his hand over his chin in a drolly rueful manner) I wish some of you would tell us how to rid our faces of these troublesome beards!" (He had just been shaved).

The rapidity with which intelligence is communicated among savage, or partially civilised nations, has often been remarked: but I do not remember meeting with an explanation, till Mr. Nott told me it was passed verbally—from one to another—each man calling to his neighbour. No method could be speedier, where a population is numerous; as at Otaheite or New Zealand, when Cook was there.

In the course of the morning I waited upon the queen to inform her that the Beagle was then going out of the port; and that I waited only for her commands, and the letter she had promised: upon which she sent for her secretary and the chiefs; when we left her for a time. Two of the persons who had been on board our vessel the previous evening, sent me letters this morning, which are so peculiar and interesting, in many points of view, that I here insert them.

Translation of a letter from 'Mare,' one of the seven supreme judges of Otaheite; written in a round distinct hand, in his own language, and directed to me.

"Tahiti, Nov. 26, 1835.
"To you the officer of King William!
"May the peace of God be with you. This is what I have to say to you, my dear friend. I praise you with grateful feelings in my heart for your kindness to me, an insignificant man, in giving to me a box and some other things besides. I and my wife will feel grateful to you when we look at these things. This is another thing with which I feel pleased; your having shown me the many good things on board your ship; and your men; they have great excellence, and a good character.
"That you may be saved is the wish of your servant,

A letter from Paofai, the brother of Hitote, directed to 'Fitirai,' is similar.
"Dear Friend, "Tahiti, Nov. 26, 1835.
"Peace be unto you and your family, in the name of God. These are my words to you. I feel very much gratified by your great kindness in giving me a trunk, and several other things. For this cause I thank you with grateful feelings. My wife and family will also feel grateful to you. Dear friends may the peace of the Messiah, who is the King of Peace, be with you. Amen.

Among the natives of Otaheite let us not overlook the sons and daughters of the earlier missionaries. Those whom we had the pleasure of seeing did credit to the country of their parents; to Otaheite; and to those excellent persons who must have taken such pains with their education. I presume not to speak from what I have seen only, but from the corresponding accounts of others, added to what I witnessed myself.

I will now make a few general remarks, previous to quitting the island. It did not appear to me that the men of Otaheite are separated visibly into two classes, as some accounts had led us to expect. All of the higher class, whom we saw, or about whom we could learn anything, certainly were large, but rather unwieldy: yet among the lower class there were numerous stout tall men, as tall as the chiefs, and more actively made. A few were of a middle size, and a very few, low in stature: but all well-proportioned and muscular; though their muscles are not hard and knotty, like those of a hard-working white man; they are rounded, and smooth. They stride along in an imposing manner, occasionally recalling ideas of the giants of history. Although, generally speaking, they are taller than the Patagonians, they do not, to the eye, appear so large. This ocular deception must arise from the better proportion of the Otaheitans. The native of Patagonia has a large, coarse looking head, with high cheek bones, and a 'mane-like' head of hair: his shoulders are high and square; his chest very wide; while to heighten the effect of these traits, each of which gives one an idea of size, a great rough mantle, made of the woolly skin of the guanaco, thrown loosely round his shoulders, hangs almost to his feet. But the Otaheitan head is singularly well formed; and, if phrenology is not altogether a delusion, few men are more capable of receiving instruction, or doing credit to their teachers, than these islanders, so often described, yet by no means enough known. Their hands, and more especially their feet, have been said to be of the Papua form; but the shape of the latter is owing, it appears to me, to their always going barefooted: and I observed their hands particularly without being able to distinguish any peculiarity whatever in the form.

The young men frequently wear a wreath of leaves, or flowers, round the head, which, though becoming, has rather a Bacchanalian appearance. Some cut their hair short, others shave the greater part of their head, but solely from caprice: not one could give me any reason beyond that which is implied in "it is the fashion."

It is seldom that one meets a native entirely naked; I mean naked excepting the girdle which is always worn: generally they have a garment, or a piece of one, obtained from a white man. These remnants, often tattered, and, among the lower classes, always dirty, disfigure them much. Those whom I saw, with only a native girdle, but whose bodies were tattowed in the old fashion, appeared to my eye much less naked than the young men, not tattowed, and only half clothed. I shall not forget the very unpleasant impression made upon my mind, at first landing, by seeing a number of females, and children, with a few men, half dressed in the scanty, dirty, and tattered scraps of clothing, which they unfortunately prefer to their native dress. A woman, who has around her waist a substantial native garment, which falls as low as the calf of the leg; and over her shoulders, folding in front across the bosom, a mantle, or cloak, of similar material—appears to the eye of a stranger much more decently dressed than the hasty lover of novelty; who seems proud of a dirty cotton gown, tied only at the neck, and fluttering in the wind. Their Sunday dresses, however, are clean and decent, though those of other days are certainly much the contrary. An under-garment alone need be added to the women's former dress of native manufacture, to make it answer every purpose. Why should not home ingenuity, and domestic industry be encouraged?

The moral conduct and character of these islanders have undergone so much discussion; so various have been the decisions, and so varying are the opinions of voyagers and residents, that I, for one, am satisfied by the conclusion, that the good and the bad are mixed in Otaheite, much as they are in other parts of the world exposed to the contamination of unprincipled people. That the missionaries have done so much, in checking and restraining depravity, is to me matter of serious reflection. But let us also remember, that the testimony of very trustworthy witnesses shews that there, even in earlier days, iniquity did not search after those who sought not her abode!
The Beagle's stay was too short to enable us to form any just conclusions. I witnessed no improprieties, neither did I see any thing that would not have inclined me to suppose (had I read or heard nothing of them), that their habits are, in most ways, better than those of many civilized nations. The missionaries have succeeded in carrying attention to religion, and general morality, to a high pitch: may they continue to succeed, in future years, and become an example to larger, older, and nominally wiser nations.

Is it not a striking fact, that the people of a whole country have solemnly refrained from drinking spirits: does not this act alone entitle them to respect, and high consideration? So sincere are they on this subject, that, a short time since, when they heard that a small vessel, lying in their harbour, had on board a cask of rum, which the master intended to sell to some of the residents, they went off to the vessel, and destroyed the obnoxious liquor.

Upon enforcing their first law on this subject, every part of each house was searched. They were very minute in their scrutiny, but overlooked a bottle of brandy, which Mr. Pritchard had kept in the house for medical purposes. After their search, when leaving him, he called them back and showed the bottle, saying for what purpose it had been kept. Some said, 'keep it for that purpose;' others said 'no, it is 'ava,'* destroy it! let us make no distinction, let us utterly discard the use of so baneful a liquor! have we not other medicines, about whose use there can be no doubt?' However, the milder party prevailed, and the brandy bottle would have preserved its contents had not Mr. Pritchard poured them on the ground before their eyes.

One horrible defect in the former character of the Otaheitans has hardly been mentioned in the earlier writers. They were unkind, and utterly inattentive to the old and infirm:—they were yet worse: they scrupled not to destroy their aged or sick, yes, even their parents, if disabled by age or by sickness.

Mr. Wilson assured me that in former times, when a person had lingered in sickness, they would carry him to the waterside, under pretence of bathing him, dig a hole, and bury him alive! Thus they ended the life of a young man who had been servant to Mr. Wilson, until he sickened, and, by the natives, was supposed to be dying. Mr. Wilson tried all he could do, in the way of medical assistance, and had hopes of his recovery, when he suddenly disappeared: and not until a long time afterwards could he ascertain the horrid cruelty of which the natives had been guilty!

That they do not even now pay that attention to infirm old age which, in our estimation, is a sacred duty, may be inferred from the following anecdote. Mr. Stokes rambled into a secluded spot near Matavai, where, surrounded by old trees, stood a small and tottering hut. On a filthy worn-out mat, lay a venerable looking old man, hardly covered by a ragged cloth. His only friend, an aged hobbling dog, limped to his side as if hoping that his example would excite some one to show compassion to the old man, his master.

The helpless state of this poor sufferer, whose legs were swollen by elephantiasis to an unwieldy bulk, and his utter destitution, induced Mr. Stokes to make immediate inquiries, and endeavour to get him relieved from some of his misery. It was ascertained that a daughter and son-in-law were usually living with him, but the new 'manuâ' had engrossed their attention, and the poor father had been left to the care of his faithful though helpless dog!

At Matavai the memory of the captain of H.M.S. 'Racoon,' known as the 'long captain,' also as 'Tapane matapo,' or 'Captain blind eye,' is still cherished. The conduct of both him and the officers of the Racoon, seems to have highly delighted all classes. How pleasant it is to hear a countryman, especially of one's own cloth, spoken of in such terms of friendship and respect, and how much that pleasure is increased when one reflects, that many years have elapsed since the conduct took place which caused these sensations.

Mr. Stokes passed some nights in Otaheitan cottages. He told me that the natives, both men and women, are extremely fond of their children, and are very kind to them. Not content with nursing and amusing them, they cram them as managers of poultry cause turkeys to be crammed, not exactly with pepper corns, or walnuts,* but with bananas and other nutritive food. At each end of the houses he visited there was a small fire, one being for the elder, the other for the younger folks; this was in the evening, at their last meal time.

Breadfruit, which had been previously roasted, and wild plantains brought from the mountains, were put to the fire to be warmed. Meanwhile cocoa-nuts were opened, their milk was poured into cups, made of empty nutshells, and handed about with the nuts. Each person had a nut and a cup of the milk, or juice. Taro-root roasted was then served, together with the bread-fruit and plantain, on leaves freshly gathered; there was also a piece of brownish yellow wood, like the rotten root of a tree, hanging up in the hut, which the people sometimes eat; it is called Ti.‡ Grace was said (a duty never omitted), and a clean, comfortable meal enjoyed by the whole party. Afterwards the fires were put out, and a queer little wooden pipe passed round. The strongest tobacco is thought the best, and they like to swallow the smoke. Sometimes, instead of tobacco, they use an indigenous herb.

Before sleeping the oldest man said prayers: one of the young men read a short portion of the New Testament, and then a hymn was sung by the whole family. A lamp was kept burning all night. A curious snuff was observed by Mr. Stokes, and from the method of using or taking it, I am inclined to think it an old custom, not imported by the white men. A substance, not unlike rhubarb in its appearance, but of a very pleasant fragrance, was rubbed on a piece of shark's skin, stretched on wood; and much it appeared to please an old man, who valued this snuff-stick so highly, that he would not part with it.

The Otaheitans are fond of going to sea, and take great interest in seeing new countries. Mr. Henry said there was no difficulty in getting a crew of natives, for boats or small vessels, provided that a promise was made to bring them back to their own island. From four to six yards of ordinary linen, or cotton cloth, with good provisions, was accounted enough remuneration for the zealous services of an able-bodied active man, during one month.

While we stayed at Otaheite we were supplied with excellent beef, and passably good vegetables; the latter however happened to be scarce. Most of the cattle belonged to the missionaries, who were trying to persuade the natives to rear them, and were beginning to succeed, though the people are fonder of their horses, of which there are a good many on the island, but ill kept and little understood.

Mr. Stokes obtained another account of the murder of the master and mate of the Truro, which says: "The master and mate of the Truro had left the northern end of Aura Island, intending to go to Otaheite; the chief of the northern district having treated them very kindly, and told them to avoid the south end of the island, because bad men lived there.

"The wind would not allow them to keep a sufficient offing; and a small canoe, with only two men, approached their boat with the apparent design of offering fruit for sale; but when near the boat they threw spears with such effect, that the white men were both killed." I place more confidence in the former account.

The seizure of a ship at Bow Island (barque Newton, of Valparaiso, under Chilian colours, though owned by British subjects), has by some persons been supposed to have been excited by Queen Pomare: but the following statement, from Mr. Middleton, who was pilot on board the ship at the time, gives a very different idea.

The master of that vessel (named Clarke) had employed some natives of Bow Island to dive for pearl oyster-shells on his account; he had agreed to pay them a certain quantity of cloth, and to give them so much provision per month. Repeated ill-treatment, and a miserable supply of provisions (at one time only one cocoa-nut each day, without any thing else), induced the natives to think of deserting him; yet they were unwilling to lose the reward of their labours, which had been very severe. One morning he had agreed to the pilot's earnest request that the natives should have more food, and had ordered a biscuit a-piece for them! Soon after the pilot, who was charged with the care of the natives, had delivered the biscuits, the master came on deck, affected to deny his orders, snatched the biscuits away from each of them, and threw them overboard! Sullen and fierce looks were exchanged; and the pilot warned Mr. Clarke that the natives would attack him, and take the vessel, if he did not alter his harsh conduct: to which he replied, by defying half a hundred of them!

A few words from the pilot, in their own language, appeased their resentment at the moment, and the brooding storm passed over; but in the course of that day, while Middleton was away getting shells, the master beat a chief. This was an unpardonable affront; they took possession of the vessel; bound all the white people; and carried them on shore.

What extraordinary mildness among savages!

When the pilot returned with his cargo of shells, he saw none of the crew; and at first hesitated to approach. But the natives seeing this, hailed him, saying, that they did not intend to hurt any one; that they were his friends; and had touched none of his things. This he found true. His own cabin was shut up—untouched; though every other place in the ship had been ransacked, and the furniture of the hull torn to pieces. They afterwards allowed the pilot to take the vessel to Otaheite, where she was sold by auction for the benefit of those who had insured her.

Obtaining the pearl oyster-shell is well known to be a difficult and dangerous employment: though the divers at the Paamuto Islands seldom go down deeper than four or five fathoms, they remain at the bottom from one to three minutes, sometimes bringing ten shells at one time to the surface; and during four or five hours they continue this extreme labour. After a long dive, blood gushes from the ears and nose; and the poor diver is quite blind during ten or twenty minutes. He may then be seen squatting on the reef, his head between his knees, and his hands spread over his face—a pitiable object: yet for the small monthly pay of ten or twelve yards of calico, or coarse linen, do those hard-working natives endure such straining exertions!

At some of the islands, a good hatchet or axe will purchase as many shells as would fill a small canoe.

In making their voyages from one island to another, the natives steer by the stars, by the direction of the wind, and the flight of birds; but their ideas of distance are extremely vague. Those who have seen a compass used in a boat esteem it highly. Middleton, who had made many voyages among the Low Islands, in whale-boats manned solely by natives, said that they always expressed astonishment at his predicting the time at which they would arrive at their destination. Sometimes they asked if he could see the land in the compass; more than once they exclaimed, "Ah, you white men! you know every thing! What simpletons we are, notwithstanding all our canoes!" The canoe occupies so much time and labour in constructing, and is so essential to their every purpose, that a fine one is to the natives of any of these islands what a three-decker is to us.

The queen's letter being finished, and sent to me by her messenger, I will give the translation made for me on the spot by Mr. Pritchard.

"Tahiti, November 26, 1835.
"To the Captain of the ship of war:
"This is what I have to say to you, before you leave us, respecting the debt. We have 2,338 dollars, which we are now taking to the person who is to receive this property, who is Mr. Bicknell. We are now collecting the remainder.
"Peace be with you,
"And with your king, William,
"(Witnessed by) HITOTE and TAATI."

Taking leave of the queen was our next engagement. At the door of her house was a table, on which the loyal and kind-hearted natives were depositing their dollars, and fractions of dollars: to enable her to pay the debt. To me it was an affecting and an unpleasing sight,—not the proofs of loyalty and affection—Heaven forbid!—but the reflection that those individuals had in no way done wrong, and that their dollars had been hardly earned and were highly prized. To show how little a metallic currency was then understood, I may mention that many individuals wished to subscribe fractions, who could not afford a whole dollar; but they were prevented, at first, because the collector knew not how to reckon a fraction of a dollar. Mr. Pritchard easily explained this, and then the smaller coins, (rials, and two rial pieces,) were soon numerous upon the table. Frequently, while walking about the island, men had asked me to give them a dollar in exchange for its value in small coin, which, to their surprise, I was always glad to do, when I had dollars with me.

About Pomare was rather a large assemblage of maids of honour, but their postures and appearance, as they sat about upon the floor, were not the most elegant. The contrast between our own neatly dressed, and well-mannered country women, whom we had just left in the house of Mr. Pritchard, was rather striking as compared with these brown and oily Otaheitans: but our visit was not long, and we tried to make it agreeable. Returning by the beach, we talked for some time with Taati, Utaame, and others. Old Ua was there also, to thank me for some trifles sent to him by one of the queen's maidens, who had attended her when on board the Beagle; and I was glad to hear that the damsel had executed her commission in a most punctual manner.

They expressed great anxiety about the arrival of another man-of-war, with, perhaps, harsher orders: and were very desirous to know when I should arrive in England, and when they would hear from me. I endeavoured to satisfy them on these points, before Mr. Darwin and I wished them farewell (in the most earnest meaning of the word) and, after taking leave of Mr. Pritchard's family, embarked. Mare and Mr. Pritchard accompanied us to the vessel, then under sail outside the reefs,—wished us a great deal more happiness than most of us will probably enjoy, and returned with Mr. Henry and the pilot in their own boats. We made all sail, and soon lost sight of this beautiful island.

25th November 1835

FitzRoy & myself breakfasted with Mr Wilson & afterwards the Beagle got under weigh: from light airs we did not get into Papiete till the evening. Four boats were sent on shore for Her Majesty. The Ship was dressed with flags & the yards manned on her coming on board. — With her came most of the chiefs: the behaviour of all was very proper; they begged for nothing & appeared much gratified by the presents which were given them. — The Queen is an awkquard large woman, without any beauty, gracefulness or dignity of manners. — She appears to have only one royal attribute, viz a perfect immoveability of expression (& that generally rather a sulky one) under all circumstances. — Sky rockets & the Seamens songs appeared to give most amusement. — The Queen remarked that one song, a very noisy comic one, certainly could not be "Hymeni". — The Royal party did not leave us till past midnight: they all appeared well contented with their visit.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
At daylight this morning, while the Beagle's crew were unmooring and hoisting in the boats, I went to Mr. Wilson's school-house, then used also as a chapel—the old chapel having been blown down by a violent gale of wind. Divine service (a hymn, a long extempore prayer, and another hymn) was performed. This is the established custom at all the missionary stations at Otaheite on Wednesday mornings: on other mornings one or two hours after daylight are employed in the schools. The congregation was numerous, and very attentive. I noticed that all the principal men of the district, besides Hitote who came from a distant part of the island, were present.

Mr. Wilson's manner pleased me much; it was the sincere, and naturally impressive manner of a kind-hearted, honest man, earnestly performing a sacred and paramount duty. I went to see the new chapel after the morning-service was ended; but only the floor-timbers and the posts for the roof were then fixed in their places. The natives were irregular in their work, sometimes doing much, at others little, just as they felt disposed. Being a voluntary work, they took their time about it.

Mr. Darwin and I breakfasted with Mr. Wilson at his house: it happened that Mr. and Mrs. Henry were about to make a journey to some distance; that a favourite son was undertaking a new and difficult mission at the Navigator's Islands, and that we were both about to take leave of the pious teacher of the heathen: and for each he asked a blessing, in an extempore prayer of some length, the result of unaffected, genuine piety. A kinder, or less exceptionable prayer, so far as I could pretend to judge, than that unprepared one by Mr. Wilson, I could not have wished to hear. That it was unprepared I feel certain, because he had not expected us to be present, and the manner in which our prospects were intermingled with those of the others he mentioned, showed that there was no premeditation. There was no affected expression, or unusual tone: it was the sincere devout manner of a pious plain-spoken man.

When under sail we tried to approach the entrance of Papiete Harbour, but baffling winds prevented our anchoring until three in the afternoon; and then, anticipating the royal visit, we tried to make such preparations as our little vessel could accomplish. Dressing the ship with flags, and preparing to man yards, was all we were able to do: salute we could not, on account of the chronometers.

We were told that the queen had walked to Papawa, distant about two miles, to inspect a quantity of fruit, cocoa-nuts, pine-apples, &c. (which she had ordered to be collected as a present to the man-of-war): and, with our glasses, we saw the royal party hastening along the beach, and in the midst of a number of women, children, and men, the queen was observed advancing at a quick walk. Soon afterwards, when it was supposed she had rested and dressed, we sent the boats. The chiefs were already on board. Mr. Pritchard undertook the troublesome offices of interpreter and master of the ceremonies, and by his assistance we saw the whole party collected on the Beagle's upper deck, while the seamen manned yards, and we all gave the queen three cheers.

A bad dinner, accepted after the four mile walk, in a manner it did not deserve,—was succeeded by a few rockets, blue lights, and false fires,—the only fireworks we possessed. Luckily the rockets were good and gave high satisfaction. Lying in the middle of a bay, whose radius, supposing it semi-circular, may be half-a-mile, our ears were startled by a thrilling outcry of delight echoing around the beach, as each successive rocket rushed into the sky and burst. This outcry from the natives on shore, who were taken by surprise (the night being very dark) showed how much they enjoyed the sight. Our visitors on board, being told what would happen, only repeated 'maitai,' 'maitai,' with earnestness. I much wished then to have had a few good fireworks of a more artificial character. To any one about to visit distant, especially half-civilized or savage nations, let me repeat a piece of advice given to me, but which from inadvertence I neglected to follow: "take a large stock of fireworks."

Some presents to each of our guests helped to amuse them and keep up their cheerfulness. After tea I proposed hearing a few of the seamen's songs,—as some of our crew were very good singers,—not at the time thinking of their prejudices against any singing except hymns. Mr. Pritchard had no word to interpret 'song' but 'himene;' and Rule Britannia, with one or two other grave performances, passed off very well, but, to the perplexing of Mr. Pritchard and surprise of the Otaheitans, a merry comic song was struck up, which obliged Mr. Pritchard to answer the queen's inquiries plainly, by saying, "No, that was not a hymn," it was "sea singing" 'God save the King' sounded more gravely, and suited better.

We landed the party almost at their own doors, and if they were half as well pleased as we were, our little preparations had not been a waste of time and trouble. Their behaviour on board was extremely correct: their habits and manners perfectly inoffensive. No doubt they are improving yearly, and the example of the missionary families has an influence over them, exceeding that of very differently disposed people by whom they are too frequently visited.

24th November 1835

Today's entries contain the longest and possibly one of the most interesting entries in Fitzroy's Journal: his meeting with the Queen of Tahiti. It is well worth reading in its entirety.
About two years ago a small vessel under English colors was plundered by the inhabitants of the Low Islands, which were then under the dominion of the Queen of Tahiti. — It is believed they were instigated to this act by some indiscreet laws issued by Her Majesty. — The British Government demanded compensation; this was acceeded to & a sum nearly equal to 3000 dollars was agreed to be paid on the first of last September. — The Commodore at Lima ordered Capt. FitzRoy to enquire concerning this debt & to demand satisfaction if not paid. — Capt. FitzRoy asked for an interview with the Queen: — For this purpose a Parliament was held where all the principal chiefs of the Island & the Queen were assembled. I will not attempt to describe what took place, as so interesting an account has been given by Capt. FitzRoy. The money had not been paid: —perhaps the alledged reasons were rather equivocating; otherwise I cannot sufficiently express our general surprise at the extreme good sense; reasoning powers, moderation, candor & prompt resolution which were displayed on all sides. — I believe every one in our party left the meeting with a very different opinion of the Tahitians from what he entertained when entering. — The chiefs & people resolved to subscribe & complete the sum which was wanting. — Capt. FitzRoy urged that it was hard that their private property should be sacrificed for the crimes of distant Islanders. They replied that they were grateful for his consideration, but that Pomarre was their queen, & they were determined to help her in this her difficulty. — This resolution & its prompt execution, for a book was opened early the next morning, is an uncommon instance of loyalty. After the main discussion was ended, several of the chiefs took the opportunity of asking Capt. FitzRoy many intelligent questions concerning international customs & laws. These related to the treatment of ships & foreigners. On some points, as soon as their decision was made, the law was issued verbally on the spot. — This Tahitian parliament lasted for several 649 hours and when it was over Capt. FitzRoy invited the Queen to pay the Beagle a visit. — We all dined with Mr Pritchard, & after it was dark pulled back to the ship.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
With all the officers who could be spared from the duty of the ship, Mr. Darwin and I repaired early to Papiete. Mr. Wilson, Mr. Henry, and Hitote, were of the party. Arrived at the hospitable abode of Mr. Pritchard, we waited until a messenger informed us of the queen's arrival at the appointed place of meeting—the English chapel. From our position we had just seen the royal escort—a very inferior assemblage. It appeared that the chiefs and elderly people had walked to the chapel when our boats arrived, leaving only the younger branches of the community to accompany Pomare. The English chapel is a small, wooden structure, with a high, angular roof; it is about fifty feet in length and thirty feet wide; near the eastern end is a pulpit, and at each corner a small pew. The rest of the building is occupied by strong benches, extending nearly from side to side; latticed windows admit light and air; the roof is thatched in a partly Otaheitan manner; none of the woodwork is painted, neither is there any decoration. Entering the chapel with my companions, I turned towards the principal pews, expecting to see Pomare there; but no, she was sitting almost alone, at the other end of the building, looking very disconsolate. Natives sitting promiscuously on the benches saluted us as we entered:—order, or any kind of form, there was none.

The only visible difference between Pomare and her subjects was her wearing a gay silk gown, tied however round the throat, though entirely loose elsewhere; being made and worn like a loose smock-frock, its uncouth appearance excited more notice from our eyes than the rich material. In her figure, her countenance, or her manner, there was nothing prepossessing, or at all calculated to command the respect of foreigners. I thought of Oberea,* and wished that it had been possible to retain a modified dress of the former kind. A light undergarment added to the dress of Oberea might have suited the climate, satisfied decency, and pleased the eye, even of a painter.

Disposed at first to criticise rather ill-naturedly—how soon our feelings altered, as we remarked the superior appearance and indications of intellectual ability shown by the chieftains, and by very many of the natives of a lower class. Their manner, and animated though quiet tone of speaking, assisted the good sense and apparent honesty of the principal men in elevating our ideas of their talents, and of their wish to act correctly.

Every reader of voyages knows that the chiefs of Otaheite are large, fine-looking men. Their manner is easy, respectful, and to a certain degree dignified; indeed on the whole surprisingly good. They speak with apparent ease, very much to the purpose in few words, and in the most orderly, regular way. Not one individual interrupted another; no one attempted to give his opinions, or introduce a new subject, without asking permission; yet did the matters under discussion affect them all in a very serious manner. Might not these half-enlightened Otaheitans set an example to numbers whose habits and education have been, or ought to have been, so superior?

It had become customary to shake hands with the queen, as well as with the chiefs. This compliment we were expected to pay; but it seemed difficult to manage, since Pomare occupied a large share of the space between two benches nearest to the wall, and the next space was filled by natives. However, squeezing past her, one after another, shaking hands at the most awkward moment, we countermarched into vacant places on the benches next in front of her. The principal chiefs, Utaame, Taati, Hitote, and others, sat near the queen, whose advisers and speakers appeared to be Taati and her foster-father. It was left for me to break the silence and enter upon the business for which we had assembled. Desirous of explaining the motives of our visit, by means of an interpreter in whom the natives would place confidence, I told Mitchell the pilot to request that Queen Pomare would choose a person to act in that character.

She named Mr. Pritchard. I remarked, that his sacred office ought to raise him above the unpleasant disputes in which he might become involved as interpreter. The missionaries had approached, and were living in Otaheite, with the sole object of doing good to their fellowmen, but I was sent in a very different capacity. As an officer in the service of my king, I was either to do good or harm, as I might be ordered; and it was necessary to distinguish between those who were, and ought to be always their friends, and men whose duty might be unfriendly, if events should unfortunately disappoint the hopes of those interested in the welfare of Otaheite. These expressions appeared to perplex the queen, and cause serious discussions among the chiefs. Before any reply was made, I continued: "But if Mr. Pritchard will undertake an office which may prove disagreeable, for the sake of giving your majesty satisfaction, by forwarding the business for which this assembly was convened, it will not become me to object; on the contrary, I shall esteem his able assistance as of the most material consequence."

The queen immediately replied, through the chieftain at her right hand, Taati, that she wished Mr. Pritchard to interpret.

Removing to a position nearer the queen and chiefs (he had been sitting at a distance), Mr. Pritchard expressed his entire readiness to exert himself on any question which might affect the good understanding and harmony that hitherto had existed between the natives of Otaheite and the British; and he trusted that those persons present who understood both languages, (Messrs. Wilson, Bicknell, Henry, and others,) would assist and correct his interpretations as often as they thought it necessary.

Commodore Mason's letter to me, authorizing my proceedings, was then read—in English, by myself—and translated by Mr. Pritchard. Next was read an agreement or bond, by which Queen Pomare had engaged to pay 2,853 dollars, or an equivalent, on or before the 1st day of September 1835, as an indemnification for the capture and robbery of the Truro at the Low Islands.

The queen was asked whether her promise had been fulfilled?

Taati answered, "Neither the money nor an equivalent has yet been given."

"Why is this?" I asked. "Has any unforeseen accident hindered your acting up to your intentions; or is it not to be paid?"

Utaame and Hitote spoke to Taati, who replied, "We did not understand distinctly how and to whom payment was to be made. It is our intention to pay; and we now wish to remove all doubts, as to the manner of payment."

I observed, that a clear and explicit agreement had been entered into with Capt. Seymour; if a doubt had arisen it might have been removed by reference to the parties concerned, or to disinterested persons; but no reference of any kind had been made, and Mr. Bicknell, the person appointed to receive the money, or an equivalent, had applied to the queen, yet had not obtained an answer.

I then reminded Pomare of the solemn nature of her agreement; of the loss which her character, and that of her chiefs, would sustain; and of the means England eventually might adopt to recover the property so nefariously taken away from British subjects. I said that I was on my way to England, where her conduct would become known; and if harsh measures should, in consequence, be adopted, she must herself expect to bear the blame.

These words seemed to produce a serious effect. Much argumentative discussion occupied the more respectable natives as well as the chiefs; while the queen sat in silence.

I must here remark, in explanation of the assuming or even harsh tone of my conduct towards Pomare, at this meeting, that there was too much reason for believing that she had abetted, if not in a great measure instigated, the piracy of the Paamuto people (or Low Islanders). For such conduct, however, her advisers were the most to blame. She was then very young; and during those years in which mischief occurred, must have been guided less by her own will than by the desires of her relations.

I had been told that excuses would be made; and that unless something like harshness and threatening were employed, ill effects, instead of a beneficial result, would be caused by the meeting: for the natives, seeing that the case was not taken up in a serious manner, and that the captain of the ship of war did not insist, would trouble themselves no farther after she had sailed away; and would laugh at those by whom the property was to be received.

The 'Paamuto,' or Low Islands, where the piracies have occurred, in which she and her relations were supposed to have been concerned, were, and are still considered (though nominally given up by her), as under her authority and particular influence. Her father was a good friend to all the natives of those islands; and the respect and esteem excited by his unusual conduct have continued to the present time, and shown themselves in attachment to his daughter. So much hostility has in general influenced the natives of different islands, that to be well treated by a powerful chief, into whose hands a gale of wind, or warfare throws them, is a rare occurrence.

The Paamuto Isles are rich in pearl oysters. Pomare, or her relations, desired to monopolize the trade. Unjustifiable steps were taken, actuated, it is said, by her or by these relations; and hence this affair.

They soon decided to pay the debt at once. Thirty-six tons of pearl oyster-shells, belonging to Pomare, and then lying at Papiete, were to form part of the equivalent; the remainder was to be collected among the queen's friends. Taati left his place near her, went into the midst of the assembly, and harangued the people in a forcible though humorous manner, in order to stimulate them to subscribe for the queen. After he had done speaking, I requested Mr. Pritchard to state strongly that the innocent natives of Otaheite ought not to suffer for the misdeeds of the Low Islanders. The shells which had come from those ill-conducted people, might well be given as part of the payment; but the queen ought to procure the rest from them, and not from her innocent and deserving subjects. A document, expressing her intention to pay the remaining sum within a stated time, signed by herself and by two chiefs, with a certainty that the property would be obtained from the Low Islanders, would be more satisfactory than immediate payment, if effected by distressing her Otaheitan subjects, who were in no way to blame.

Taati replied, "The honour of the queen is our honour. We will share her difficulties. Her friends prefer assisting her in clearing off this debt, to leaving her conduct exposed to censure. We have determined to unite in her cause, and endeavour to pay all before the departure of the man-of-war."

It was easy to see that the other principal chiefs had no doubt of the propriety of the demand; and that they thought the queen and her relations ought to bear the consequences of their own conduct. Taati, who is related to her, exerted himself far more than Utaame, Hitote, or any of the others. This part of the business was then settled by their agreeing to give the shells already collected, such sums of money as her friends should choose to contribute, and a document signed by two principal chiefs, expressing the sum already collected and paid; and their intention of forthwith collecting the remainder, and paying it before a stipulated time. Difficulties about the present, as compared with the former value of the shells, were quickly ended by arbitration; and their value estimated at fifty dollars per ton: the ready way in which this question about the value of the shells was settled, gave me a high idea of the natives' wish to do right, rather than take advantage of a doubtful point of law.

I next had to remark, that the queen had given up the murderers of the master and mate of the Truro in a merely nominal manner, and not in effect; and that she must expect to receive a communication upon that subject by the next man-of-war.

She asked me—whether I really thought they would be required from her by the next man-of-war?

I replied: "Those men were tried and condemned by the laws of Otaheite. Your majesty, as sovereign, exercised your right of pardoning them. I think that the British Government will respect your right as queen of these islands; and that his Britannic Majesty will not insist upon those men being punished, or again tried for the same offence; but the propriety of your own conduct in pardoning such notorious offenders, is a very different affair. It will not tend to diminish the effect of a report injurious to your character, which you are aware has been circulated."

After a pause, I said, "I was desired to enquire into the complaints of British subjects and demand redress where necessary. No complaints had been made to me; therefore I begged to congratulate her majesty on the regularity and good conduct which had prevailed; and thanked her, in the name of my countrymen, for the kindness with which they had been treated."

I then reminded Pomare of the deep interest generally felt for those highly deserving and devoted missionaries, whose exertions, hazardous and difficult as they had been, and still were, had raised the natives of Otaheite to their present enlightened and improved condition; and that every reason united to demand for them the steady co-operation of both her and her chiefs. Finding that they listened attentively to Mr. Pritchard's interpretation, which I was told was as good as it appeared to me fluent and effective, I requested permission to say a few words more to the queen—to the effect that I had heard much of her associating chiefly with the young and inexperienced, almost to the exclusion of the older and trustworthy counsellors whom she had around her at this assembly. To be respected, either at home or abroad, it was indispensably necessary for her to avoid the society of inferior minds and dispositions; and to be very guarded in her own personal conduct. She ought to avoid taking advice from foreigners, whom she knew not, and whose station was not such as might be a guarantee for their upright dealings: and she ought to guard carefully against the specious appearances of adventurers whose intentions, or real character, it was not possible for her to discover readily. Such men could hardly fail to misinform her on most subjects; but especially on such as interested themselves; or about which they might entertain the prejudices and illiberal ideas which are so prevalent among ignorant or ill-disposed people. I tried to say these things kindly, as the advice of a friend: Pomare thanked me, acknowledged the truth of my remarks, and said she would bear them in mind.

Turning to the chiefs, a few words passed, previous to Taati asking me, in her name, "Whether they were right in allowing a foreigner to enlist Otaheitans to serve him as soldiers; and in permitting them and other men to be trained, for warlike purposes, upon their island?"* My reply was, "If Otaheitan subjects, so trained, almost under the queen's eye, act hostilely against the natives of any other island, will not those natives deem her culpable? To my limited view of the present case, it appears impolitic, and decidedly improper to do so." After a few words with Utaame and Hitote, Taati rose and gave notice that no Otaheitan should enlist or be trained to serve as a soldier, in a foreign cause. By this decree de Thierry lost his enlisted troops, except a few New Zealanders, and whaling seamen.

One of the seven judges, an intelligent, and, for an Otaheitan, a very well educated man, named 'Mare,' asked to speak to me. "You mentioned, in the third place," said Mare, "that you were desired to enquire into the complaints of British subjects, and demand redress, if necessary. You have stated that no complaint has been made, and you have given us credit for our conduct: allow me now to complain of the behaviour of one of your countrymen, for which we have failed in obtaining redress." Here Mare detailed the following case of the 'Venilia,' and said that no reply to their letter to the British government, had yet been received. Mare then added, in a temperate though feeling manner, "does it not appear hard to require our queen to pay so large a sum as 2,853 dollars out of her small income; while that which is due to her, 390 dollars, a mere trifle to Great Britain, has not obtained even an acknowledgment from the British government?"

I ventured to assure Mare that some oversight, or mistake, must have occurred, and promised to try to procure an answer for them, which, I felt assured, would be satisfactory.

The letter on the subject of the Venilia, very literally translated, is as follows: it is, for many reasons, a curious document.

"Our friend, the king of Britain, and all persons in office in your government, may you all be saved by the true God!

"The following is the petition of Pomare, of the governors, and of the chiefs of Tahiti.

"A whale-ship belonging to London, has been at Tahiti: 'Venilia' is the name of the ship, 'Miner' is the name of the captain. This ship has disturbed the peace of the government of Queen Pomare the first. We consider this ship a disturber of the peace, because the captain has turned on shore thirteen of his men, against the will of the governor of this place, and other persons in office. The governor of this district made known the law clearly. The captain of the ship objected to the law, and said that he would not regard the law. We then became more resolute: the governor said to the chiefs, 'Friends, chiefs of the land, we must have a meeting.' The chiefs assembled on the twenty-second day of December 1831. The governor ordered a man to go for the captain of the ship. When he had arrived on shore, the governor appointed a man to be speaker for him. The speaker said to the captain of the ship, 'Friend, here are your men, take them, and put them on board of your ship; it is not agreeable to us that they should remain upon our land.' The captain said, 'I will not by any means receive them again: no, not on any account whatever!' The governor again told his speaker to say, 'Take your men, and put them on board your ship, we shall enforce our laws.' The captain strongly objected to this, saying, 'I will not, on any account, again receive these bad men, these mutineers.' We then said, 'It is by no means agreeable to us for these men to live on shore: if they are disturbers of the peace on board the ship, they will disturb the peace on shore.' Captain Hill, who has long been a captain belonging to Britain, spoke to the captain of the ship: this is what he said to him: 'It is not at all agreeable to the laws of Britain that you should discharge, or in any manner turn away your men in a foreign land.' This is another thing Captain Hill said, 'you should write a document, stating clearly the crime for which these men have been turned on shore; that the governor and chiefs may know how to act towards them, and that they may render you any assistance.' But this was not agreeable to the captain; he would not write a document. The governor then said to the captain, 'If you will not take your men on board again, give us the money, as expressed in the law.' The captain said, 'I will not give the money, neither will I again take the men: no, not on any terms whatever; and if you attempt to put them on board the ship, I will resist, even unto death.' The governor then said, 'We shall continue to be firm; if you will not give the money, according to the law, we shall put your men on board the ship, and should you die, your death will be deserved.' When the captain perceived that we were determined to enforce the law, he said, 'It is agreed; I will give you the money, three hundred and ninety dollars.'

"On the 24th of December the governor sent a person for the money. The captain of the ship said, 'He had no money.' We then held a meeting: the governor's speaker said to the captain, 'Pay the money according to the agreement of the 22d day of this month.' The captain said, 'I have no money.' The governor told him, 'If you will not pay the money we will put your men on board the ship.'

"One Lawler said, 'Friends, is it agreeable to you that I should assist him? I will pay the money to you, three hundred and ninety dollars! I will give property into your hands: this is the kind of property; such as may remain a long time by the sea-side and not be perishable. In five months, should not the money be paid, this property shall become your own.'

"Mr. Pritchard said that this was the custom among foreigners. We agreed to the proposal.

"On the 26th of December we went to Lawler's house to look at the property, and see if it was suitable for the sum of money; and also to make some writings about this property. While there, Lawler made known to us something new, which was, that we should sign our names to a paper, written by the captain, for him to show his owners. We did not agree to this proposal, because we did not know the crime for which these men were turned on shore. We saw clearly that these two persons were deceiving us, and that they would not pay the money; also that the captain would not again take his men; but we did not attempt to put his men on board the ship, because another English whaler had come to anchor. We told the captain that we should write a letter to the British government, that they might order this business to be investigated, and might afford us their assistance.

"This is the substance of what we have to say:—We entreat you, the British Government, to help us in our troubles. Punish this Captain Miner, and command the owners of the Venilia to pay us three hundred and ninety dollars for thirteen of their men having been left on our land; and also to send the wages of a native man who was employed to supply the whole crew with bread-fruit while at anchor here. Let them send a good musket for this man, because the captain has not given him a good musket according to the agreement at the beginning. Captain Miner also gave much trouble to the pilot. He took his ship out himself: the pilot went after the ship to get his money, and also the money for Pomare, for anchorage. He would not give the pilot his share. After some time he gave the pilot some cloth for his share.

"In asking this, we believe that our wish will be complied with. We have agreed to the wish of the British government in receiving the Pitcairn's people, and in giving them land. We wish to live in peace, and behave well to the British flag, which we consider our real friend, and special protection. We also wish that you would put in office a man like Captain Hill, and send him to Tahiti, as a representative of the king of Great Britain, that he may assist us. If this should not be agreeable to you, we pray you to give authority to the reverend George Pritchard, the missionary at this station.

"This is the conclusion of what we have to say. Peace be with you. May you be in a flourishing condition, and may the reign of the beloved king of Britain be long! Written at Tahiti on the sixth day of January, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two.

"On behalf of POMARE, the queen.
"Signed by APAAPA, chief secretary.
ARUPAEA, district governor.
TEPAU, district governor.
TEHORO, one of the seven supreme judges.
MARE, a district judge, (since raised to be a supreme judge)."
"Addition:—"This man, Lawler, is an Irishman: he has
been living at Tahiti about three months: he came from the Sandwich Islands. Of his previous conduct we can say nothing. We much wish that a British ship of war would come frequently to Tahiti to take to their own lands these bad foreigners that trouble us. It is useless for us to depend upon the consul at the Sandwich Islands. We have long known that we can obtain no assistance from him.

"We wish to do our duty towards you Britons. You are powerful and rich—but we are like weak children.

"On behalf of POMARE, the queen.
APAAPA, chief secretary."
"Paofai (close to Papiete),
Tahiti, 7th January 1832."

This interesting letter needs no apology for its insertion at full length. Besides explaining Mare's application, it helps to give an idea of the state of Otaheite; and it appeals to our better feelings in a persuasive manner.

That the electric agent (whether fire or fluid) goes upward from the earth to the atmosphere, as well as in the contrary direction, showing that a mutual action takes place between air and land, many facts might be brought to prove: I will only mention two.

"On October 25th we had a very remarkable storm: the sky was all in flames. I employed part of the night in observing it, and had the pleasure of seeing three ascending thunderbolts! They rose from the sea like an arrow; two of them in a perpendicular direction, and the third at an angle of about 75 degrees."—(De Lamanon, in the Voyage of La Pérouse, vol. iii. pp. 431-2).

While H.M. corvette Hind, was lying at anchor off Zante, in 1823, in twelve fathoms water, an electric shock came in through her hawse, along the chain-cable, by which she was riding. Two men, who were sitting on the cable, before the bitts, were knocked down—felt the effects of the shock about half an hour—but were not seriously hurt. A noise like that of a gun startled every one on board; yet there was neither smell, nor smoke, nor any other visible effect. The sky was heavily clouded over; small rain was falling; and there was distant thunder occasionally, but no visible lightning. The cable was hanging slack, almost 'up and down.' I witnessed this myself.

The queen's secretary next asked to speak, and said that a law had been established in the island, prohibiting the keeping, as well as the use or importation of any kind of spirits. In consequence of that law, the persons appointed to carry it into effect had desired to destroy the contents of various casks and bottles of spirits; but the foreigners who owned the spirits objected, denying the right to interfere with private property. The Otaheitan authorities did not persist, as they were told that the first man-of-war which might arrive would certainly take vengeance upon them if they meddled with private property. He wished to ask whether the Otaheitans ought to have persisted in enforcing their own laws; and what I should have done, had the law been enforced with a British subject, and had he made application to me.

My answer was, "Had the Otaheitans enforced their law, I could in no way have objected. In England a contraband article is seized by the proper officers, and is not treated as private property while forbidden by the law."

Much satisfaction was evidently caused by this declaration: also, at a former part of the discussions, when a remonstrance was made against Otaheitans paying the Truro debt, the greater part of the assembly seemed to be much pleased.

A respectable old man then stood up, and expressed his gratification at finding that another of King William's men-of-war had been sent—not to frighten them, or to force them to do as they were told, without considering or inquiring into their own opinions or inclinations, but to make useful enquiries. They feared the noisy guns which those ships carried, and had often expected to see their island taken from them, and themselves driven off, or obliged in their old age to learn new ways of living.

I said, "Rest assured that the ships of Great Britain never will molest Otaheitans so long as they conduct themselves towards British subjects as they wish to be treated by Britons. Great Britain has an extent of territory, far greater than is sufficient for her wishes. Conquest is not her object. Those ships, armed and full of men, which from time to time visit your island, are but a very few out of a great many which are employed in visiting all parts of the world to which British commerce has extended. Their object is to protect and defend the subjects of Great Britain, and also take care that their conduct is proper—not to do harm to, or in any way molest those who treat the British as they themselves would wish to be treated in return."

I was much struck by the sensation which these opinions caused amongst the elderly and the more respectable part of the assemblage. They seemed surprised, and so truly gratified, that I conclude their ideas of the intentions of foreigners towards them must have been very vague or entirely erroneous.

The business for which we had assembled being over, I requested Mr. Pritchard to remind the queen, that I had a long voyage to perform; and ought to depart from her territories directly she confided to me the promised document, relating to the affair of the Truro; and I then asked the queen and principal chiefs to honour our little vessel by a visit on the following evening, to see a few fireworks: to which they willingly consented: some trifling conversation then passed; and the meeting ended.

Much more was said, during the time, than I have here detailed: my companions were as much astonished as myself at witnessing such order, so much sensible reasoning, and so good a delivery of their ideas! I shall long remember that meeting at Otaheite, and consider it one of the most interesting sights I ever witnessed. To me it was a beautiful miniature view of a nation emerging from heathen ignorance, and modestly setting forth their claims to be considered civilized and Christian.

We afterwards dined with Mr. Pritchard, his family, and the two chiefs, Utaame and Taati. The behaviour of these worthies was extremely good; and it was very gratifying to hear so much said in their favour by those whose long residence on the island had enabled them to form a correct judgment. What we heard and saw showed us that mutual feelings of esteem existed between those respectable and influential old chieftains and the missionary families.

It was quite dark when we left Papiete to return, by many miles among coral reefs, to the Beagle; but our cat-eyed pilot undertook to guide our three boats safely through intricate passages among the reefs, between which I could hardly find my way in broad daylight, even after having passed them several times. The distance to the ship was about four miles; and the night so dark, that the boats were obliged almost to touch each other to ensure safety; yet they arrived on board unhurt, contrary to my expectation; for my eyes could not detect any reason for altering our course every few minutes, neither could those of any other person, except the pilot, James Mitchell. Had he made a mistake of even a few yards, among so many intricate windings, our boats must have suffered (because the coral rocks are very sharp and soon split a plank), though in such smooth and shallow water, a wrong turning could have caused inconvenience only to ourselves, for there was little or no danger of more than a wetting.

The observations at Matavai being completed, I was enabled to leave the place, and invited Hitote and Mr. Henry (who had returned with us) to pay another visit to Papiete in the Beagle, and meet the royal party.

23rd November 1835

I hired a canoe & men to take me on the reef. — These canoes are from their extreme narrowness comical little boats. — They would immediately be upset if it was not for a floating log of very light wood joined to the canoe by two long transverse poles. — We paddled for some time about the reef admiring the pretty branching Corals. — It is my opinion, that besides the avowed ignorance concerning the tiny architects of each individual species, little is yet known, in spite of the much which has been written, of the structure & origin of the Coral Islands & reefs.*

* Although from his reading, and from his thinking about the consequences of the elevation of the South American continent, CD's theory about the formation of coral reefs had probably already come to him by this time, this was the first reef that he actually saw.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
With Mr. Henry (the son of the missionary) a well known chief, 'Hitote,' came on board to share our breakfast. Captain Beechey has introduced him in his work and described his character. Mr. Henry was born upon the island, and had never visited England, yet a more English countenance, or more genuine English ideas, I have seldom met with in any part of the world. From him I received some information, to me very interesting, and to those for whom it was my duty to collect nautical intelligence, I hope useful. Afterwards I hastened to Papiete to pay my respects to Queen Pomare. I was in time to see her arrive from Eimeo, sitting on the gunwale of a whale-boat, loosely dressed in a dark kind of gown, without anything upon her head, hands, or feet, and without any kind of girdle or sash to confine her gown, which was fastened only at the throat. There was no reception at landing: no attendance, no kind of outward ceremony showed that the 'Queen of the Isles' had arrived at her home.

Some time afterwards, when I heard that she was inclined to give an audience, I went to the royal cottage with Mr. Pritchard. A parcel of half-dressed merry looking damsels eyed us with an amusing mixture of shyness and curiosity. These, I concluded, were a part of the 'Queen's mob,' as our interpreter had ignorantly or democratically called the royal attendants. Only a few men were about the house, one of whom was the queen's foster-father ('feeding father' in the Otaheitan language) and another her husband.

Entering a small room, 'Ia-orana Pomare,' with a shake of the hand, was the salutation given by Mr. Pritchard, and by myself, following his example. On the only three chairs in the room we sat down, but the queen looked very uncomfortable, and certainly not at all dignified. I could not help pitying her, for it was evident she was expecting a lecture on the subject of the Truro, and felt her utter helplessness: I was therefore glad, after a few words of compliment, to see her mother, husband, and foster father enter the room, though they sat down upon chests or the floor.

I delivered a letter from Commodore Mason, which she asked Mr. Pritchard to interpret, and sent out to her secretary. A meeting of the chiefs, herself presiding, was proposed and decided to be held on the following day. Some conversation then passed on other subjects, and we took our leave by shaking each individual by the hand. This is certainly preferable to pressing noses, but I was sorry to see that the missionaries had attended but little to the outward demeanour, to the manners, to the attendance, and to the dwelling of the sovereign of a people whose happiness and improvement would certainly be increased by raising the character, and improving the condition of their ruler. While called a queen, Pomare ought to be supported by some of those ceremonious distinctions, which have, in all ages and nations, accompanied the chief authority. That the missionaries should interfere harshly or sweepingly, would doubtless irritate; but a beneficial influence, almost unnoticed except in its effects, might be exerted in these temporal, and seemingly trifling affairs, which might assist hereafter in a day of need.

I have been told that the natives have been very ungrateful to the missionaries. Perhaps they are not all aware what a debt of gratitude they owe. Certainly, the better informed and the older inhabitants understand and appreciate the kindness and the labours of their devoted teachers; but whether the younger or the lightly-disposed have, generally speaking, a kindly feeling towards them I doubt. More temporal enjoyments, and more visible or tangible benefits are asked for by the younger inhabitants, who are daily becoming more aware of the manners and habits of civilized nations. Surely the queen, a young and lively woman, is likely to compare her own habits and personal comforts, and the degrees of attention or deference shown to her, with those of foreigners, either resident in or visiting Otaheite.

Dispensing temporal benefits, with an evident desire to better their condition in every way, excites the gratitude of ignorant minds, and often paves the way towards teaching them to acquire abstract ideas, and to wage war against many of those things which they would rather do than leave undone. There is a Roman Catholic mission at the Gambier Islands, amply provided with presents and property fit for the natives, and it is said that they are succeeding well. At Otaheite the missionaries were afraid that the doctrines of the Roman church would obtain a greater influence, and agree better with the disposition of the natives than the strict discipline in which they have hitherto been held. Unless preventive measures are taken in Europe, religious strife and internal warfare may again be caused in these islands, even by those whose aim is peace. Already there is a remarkable bitterness of feeling on the subject, which is unlikely to diminish if the success of the Roman Catholic mission increases.

But I have wandered away from Pomare—her small ill-furnished room and her awkwardly-contrived house, neither English nor Otaheitan. Before she became sovereign, she was known by the name of Aimatta, which signifies 'eye-eater;'* but Pomare has since been adopted as the royal name. In affixing her signature, 'Vahine' is added, which means 'female'—thus 'Pomare Vahine.' Her husband is a young, intelligent man; but he has no share in the government, being only king-consort. This man was the only native of the island, that I saw, whose nose was sharp and projecting. It is amusing to think that they call a man 'long nose,' in this country, when they wish to wound his feelings deeply.

During the first few days after a child is born, the mother or her attendants keep pressing the back of the infant's head with one hand, and the forehead and nose with the other, to make the head high and the nose and brow flat. Children of the higher ranks undergo more compression, because they are more carefully attended. How the queen's husband escaped, or could be chosen by her with such a nose, I am at a loss to discover.

22nd November 1835

[A Tahitian church in 1938]
The harbor of Papiete, which may be considered as the capital of the Island, is about seven miles distant from Matavai, to which the Beagle had returned. — The Queen resides there, it is the seat of Government & chief resort of shipping. — Capt. FitzRoy took a party there in the morning to hear divine service in the Tahitian language & afterwards in our own. — Mr Pritchard the leading Missionary in the Island performed service. — Mr Pritchard was regularly educated in the mission college; he appears a sensible agreeable gentleman & good man. — I have already mentioned with respect Mr Wilson. The third Missionary whom we have seen is Mr Nott, who has resided 40 years on the Island. — His occupations are chiefly literary, & has now finished his great task of translating the whole bible. — He bears universally a high & respectable character. — The characters of this class of men have been so frequently attacked, that I have mentioned my opinion on the three who reside in this vicinity. We met at Mr Pritchards house three young ladies, daughters of Missionaries, who were here on a visit. Their appearance & manners showed that they had been properly educated. It was curious to see those who could not be distinguished in appearance from our countrywomen, speaking the Tahitian language with even greater fluency than English. — Even the characters of these quiet young women have not escaped the bitter attacks of the enemies of the Missionaries. — Before reaching these islands, from the varying accounts I had read I felt great interest to form from my own eyes a judgment of their moral state, although such judgment would necessarily be imperfect. — The first impression on any subject very much depends on ones previously acquired ideas. — Mine were drawn from Ellis' Polynesian Researches; an admirable & most interesting work, but naturally looking at everything under a favourable point of view; from Beechey, neutral; & Kotzebue, strongly adverse. — He who compares these three accounts will I think form a tolerably accurate conception of the present state of Tahiti.

One of my impressions, which I took from the two last authorities, was decidedly incorrect: viz that the Tahitians had become a gloomy race & lived in fear of the Missionaries. Of the latter feeling I saw no trace, without indeed fear & respect are confounded under one name. — Instead of discontent being a common feeling, it would be difficult in Europe in a crowd to pick out half so many merry, happy faces. — The prohibition of the Flute & dancing is inveighed against as wrong & foolish. — the more than Presbyterian manner of keeping the Sabbath is looked on in a similar view. I will not pretend to offer any opinion on this subject against men who have resided as many years as I have days in the Island. On the whole it is my opinion that the state of morality & religion is highly creditable. — There are many who attack even more acrimoniously than Kotzebue, both the Missionaries, their system & the effect produced. — Such reasoners never compare the present to the former state only twenty years before; nor even to that of Europe in this day, but to the high standard of Gospel perfection. — They expect the Missionaries to effect what the very Apostles failed to do.

By as much as things fall short of this high scale, blame is attached to the Missionaries, instead of credit for what has been effected. They forget or will not remember that human sacrifices & the power of an idolatrous priesthood, — a system of profligacy unparalleled in the world, & consequent infanticide as part of that system, — bloody wars where the conquerors spared neither women or children have been abolished; that dishonesty, intemperance & licentiousness have been greatly reduced by the introduction of Christianity. — It is base ingratitude in a Voyager to forget these things; at the point of Shipwreck on some unknown coast he will most devoutly pray that the lesson of the Missionary may have extended thus far.

In their morality, the virtue of the women is said to be most open to exception; but before they are blamed too severely, it will be well distinctly to call to mind the scenes described by Capt. Cook & Mr Banks in which the grandmothers & mothers of the present race played a part. Those who are most severe should consider how much of the morality in Europe is owing to the system early impressed by mothers on their daughters & how much in each individual case to the precepts of religion. — But it is useless to argue against such men; I believe that disappointed at not finding the field of licentiousness quite so open as formerly, they will not give credit to a morality which they do not wish to practice, or to a religion which they undervalue, if not despise.

The Tahitian service was a very interesting spectacle. — The Chapel is a large airy framework of wood; it was filled to excess by tidy clean people of all ages & sexes.— I was rather disappointed in the apparent degree of attention; but I believe my expectations were raised too high. — Anyhow the appearance was quite equal to that in a country Church in England. — The singing of the hymns was decidedly very pretty; the language however from the pulpit, although fluently delivered had not much euphony: a constant repetition of sounds like "tata, ta, mata mai", rendered it monotonous. — After English service, a party returned on foot to Matavai; — it was a pleasant walk either along the sea-beach or under the shade of the many beautiful trees.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Early this morning a party went with me to Papiete, and others went to Mr. Nott's church, while those who could not go far from the ship attended Mr. Wilson, to hear as well as see the natives at divine service. At Mr. Pritchard's church we found an orderly, attentive, and decently dressed congregation. I saw nothing "grotesque," nothing "ludicrous," nor anything which had a tendency to "depress the spirits," or "disappoint one's expectations."

The church was quite full and many were sitting outside; I suppose six hundred people were present besides children, who, like others of their happy age, required an occasional touch with the white wand of a most stern looking old beadle, to prevent their chattering to one another about the strangers, and their 'money.'

Mr. Pritchard's fluent delivery in the native language surprised and pleased us much. The greater part of the natives were very attentive. Two were making notes upon paper, of the subject of his discourse. A few were careless, but only a very few; and their eye-wanderings were caused chiefly by the strangers in uniform. Where is the English congregation of five or six hundred persons, in which a captious observer could not occasionally detect inattention to the clergyman? Hymns were sung with much propriety, and a very pleasing musical effect. The language is so soft and so full of vowels, that the good voices and very correct ears of the natives succeed admirably in hymns. After the service in the native language had ended, we repaired to the English chapel with Mr. Pritchard, who performed divine service in the manner of the Independents. Occasional visitors from ships at the island, and the few European residents who are within reach, frequent this chapel.

It was certainly better to suppress altogether, rather than only to restrain and alter their former licentious amusements, but it seemed to me that some kind of innocent recreation was much wanted by these light-hearted islanders. There is a void in the mind where a naturally thoughtless and volatile disposition exists, which it is extremely difficult to fill with serious thoughts of any duration. To such minds "a quiet reflecting day," (as my respected and much lamented messmate in the Thetis, the Rev. Henry Hall, used to term Sunday), is, in a great measure, a vacant time of leisure, which if not occupied by innocent thoughts which interest without doing harm, is certain to be seized upon by evil imaginations and bad passions.

During the time we passed in the churches it was sufficiently plain that there was no harshness usually shewn towards the children: for they clustered round their minister so closely when he moved about, that he was obliged to push them away, good naturedly, several times. From the manner of elderly, as well as young natives, I should conclude that "Pritate," as they called Mr. Pritchard, was a favourite.

21st November 1835

The Beagle returned to her old quarters at Matavai. — in the evening I took a pleasant ramble on shore.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
I went to see 'Ua,' an old man, who remembered 'Toote' (Cook); yet was still strong and active: he told me that in those days he was a little boy. There were many more people then in Otaheite; ten to one, as compared with the present numbers: but sickness had destroyed a great many, he thought. The island was not so healthy as in former times; and they had caught diseases, in those days unknown. Asking who brought this or that disease, he imputed the worst to the ships which came after Cook's first visit, and left men upon the island until their return the following year.* Curvature of the spine, or a hump-back, never appeared until after Cook's visits; and as he had a hump-backed man in his ship, they attribute that deformity to him. 'Ua' told me that I need not yet have any anxiety about a westerly wind, or bad weather. "The wind would be light and variable during that day, but on the morrow would draw round to the eastward, and two days afterwards the sky would be nearly free from clouds."

Thanking the old man with some presents, I returned on board; and the Beagle then got under weigh, 'swept' out of the harbour, and, by the sails and sweeps, alternately employed, regained her former anchorage in Matavai Bay. In the course of a walk among the cottages between Papawa and Matavai, I found numerous tokens of industry, such as I had not expected in a South Sea island. In an enervating climate, where abundance of food is easily procured, one ought not to expect the contented natives to distress their minds or bodies, with anxious and industrious endeavours to supply wants which they do not feel, in any degree like the inhabitants of cold or temperate climates; yet the men of Otaheite undergo great fatigue, and carry heavy burthens up and down most difficult tracks in the mountains, in a manner astonishing, if not impossible, to Europeans. Mr. Darwin, who made a three days' excursion among the wildest parts of the mountains, was quite enthusiastic in his account of the strength, activity, and above all, the excellent disposition and good conduct of the two natives who were his companions and guides.

At the door of one house I saw the owner reading a book attentively. It was the New Testament translated into his native language. His wife was rolling up some of the large green leaves which they use as substitutes for plates; and two merry little children had been running after me, singing, in hopes of a present of some trifle. The superior expression of that man's countenance, and his unaffected employment (for I came upon him suddenly, and unperceived till the children spoke), made an impression upon my mind, which, I hope, will not be forgotten.

In my way back, passing some tall palm trees, I asked a native to get me some cocoa-nuts. Putting a strip of bark between his feet, he threw off his shirt, and jumped 'at' the tree, catching the trunk with his feet and hands at the same moment; then moving his hands alternately, and his feet by short jumps, the band of bark assisting their hold on the slender trunk, in a few seconds he was at the top of a tree seventy feet in height, quite straight and perpendicular, and tapering in size from a foot to six inches in diameter.

Some curious relics of former times were found for me, which had long remained in dusty quiet; among them were tortoise-shell masks, and head pieces surmounted by feathers of the tropic bird; also an apron, ingeniously, or rather laboriously made of small pieces of mother of pearl. So long was it since they had been used, that a native about thirty years of age did not know what they were for: but from the signs and expressions of the old man to whom they belonged, I think they formed part of the dress of a priest, used when sacrificing a (perhaps human) victim. Two English sixpences also found their way to me, bearing the date 1787; memorials of the ill-fated Bounty.

News arrived that the queen intended to return to her headquarters at Papiete, and that she had ordered a present of fruit and pigs to be prepared.

* "Mr. Thomas Falkner was the son of a surgeon of eminence at Manchester, and was brought up in his father's profession, for which he always manifested the most promising disposition. To complete his professional studies, he was sent to London to attend St. Thomas's Hospital; and, happening to lodge in Tooley-street, on the Surrey bank of the Thames, he made an acquaintance with the master of a ship, employed in the Guinea trade, who persuaded the young surgeon to accompany him in his next voyage in his professional capacity. On his return to England, he engaged to go in the same situation on board a merchant ship to Cadiz, from which he continued his voyage to Buenos Ayres, a Spanish settlement on the River La Plata. Here he fell sick, and was in so dangerous a state when his ship was ready to depart, as not to be in a condition to be carried on board; so she sailed without him. The Jesuits, of which there was a college at Buenos Ayres, nursed him during his illness with the greatest care and kindest assiduity; and perceiving the very great advantage which they would derive, in their missions, from possessing a brother who was so well skilled in medicine and surgery, spared no pains to win his affection and secure his confidence. In short, they so worked upon his mind, as to persuade him to enter into their college, and finally to become one of their order. He now entered upon his ministry among the Indians who inhabit the vast track of country between the River La Plata and the Straits of Magellan. His skill in the cure of diseases, and in performing chirurgical operations, together with his knowledge of mechanics, rendered his mission successful beyond example. In this country he remained near forty years, and was among the persons appointed by the Spanish government to make a survey of the coasts between the Brazils and the Tierra del Fuego, Falkland Island, &c. When the society of Jesuits was dissolved, he was sent back to Spain, and after an absence of near forty years, arrived in his native country. Soon after his return to England he became domestic chaplain to Robert Berkeley, esquire, of Spetchley, near Worcester, a Roman Catholic gentleman of distinguished knowledge, most respectable character, and large fortune. There he wrote the account of Patagonia, which has been quoted in this volume, and was afterwards published, with a map corrected from that of D'Anville, according to his own observations. Mr. Falkner possessed a very acute mind, a general knowledge, and most retentive memory. Of his medical experience and practice, I have heard physicians of eminence speak in the highest terms of commendation. His manners, as may be supposed from the tenor of his life, were at once singular and inoffensive: and he retained somewhat of his Indian habits to the last. He died, as I have been informed, about the year 1781."

Colnett's Voyage, page 25, note.

20th November 1835

In the morning we started by times & reached Matavai at Noon. — On the road we met a large party of noble athletic men going for the wild Bananas. I found the Ship, on account of difficulty in watering, had moved four miles to the harbor of Papawa, to which place I immediately walked. — This is a very pretty spot; the cove is so surrounded by reefs that the water is smooth as in a lake. — The cultivated ground, with all its beautiful productions & the cottages, reach close down to the water's edge.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
While conversing with Middleton about those Low Islands (where he had passed much time), I was very much struck by the unpleasant personal feeling shewn by him when alluding to the missionaries, and their regulations, as contrasted with the strong terms in which he mentioned the good effects of their intercourse with the Low Islanders; and how much more missionaries were required. His own words, as I find them in a paper of remarks he gave me, are, "the inhabitants (of the Low Islands) are familiarized to Europeans; and are partly civilized, owing to the Gospel having been preached to them by the missionaries." In another place he says, "there are inhabitants enough to require the constant residence of one or two missionaries. They have some books of the Gospel in their hands, but are yet too ignorant to profit by their contents." His own antipathy to the missionaries had arisen, I found, in consequence of their restraints upon his conduct, while at Otaheite.—Among other information he said that the natives of Chain Island told him frequently, that the first ship they ever saw was manned with black people; but the captain, whom the natives styled the 'King of the Spirits,' was a white man. They were much alarmed when they saw the vessel come close to their island, and their old men deemed it an omen of impending disasters. Soon after this event, the island was inundated by the sea, and many people perished. They were then cannibals, and always at war with the natives of the neighbouring islands: since that time, which was 'long ago' (how long he could not ascertain), the Chain Islanders have invaded and successively conquered the other Low Islands, invariably killing and eating the greater proportion of their captives. (The Low Islands are called Paamuto.)

Middleton arrived at Otaheite from Chain Island, only two days before this conversation took place, He came in his own open whale boat, with a crew of five natives; two being Chain Islanders, one a native of the Gambier Islands, one from the Marquesas, and one from the ferocious set who live upon an island called Aura.

Knowing their habits, and understanding their language, radically the same though differing in dialect, had assisted his daring and enterprising disposition in a series of wanderings about all the islands which lie in this quarter of the Pacific. He sold me a chart, made by himself, in which, he said, every one of the Low Islands was marked, though not correctly. From him I obtained their native names also, with the proper pronunciation. He says the natives are great talkers, and have very good memories: for hours at a time he has often listened, with the deepest interest, to their traditions, and to the terrible tales of their inhuman warfare. About the year 1800, as near as he could ascertain, a ship was cast away upon the low island Arutua: her crew were Europeans (meaning white men). The people of Arutua offered no violence, but the blood-thirsty natives of Aura hearing of the wreck, repaired to the place in a body, and massacred every man.

In the year 1831, the master and mate of the unfortunate Truro, passing by Aura in a small boat, were invited ashore by many friendly signs. They suspected no danger, landed together, without arms, were instantly speared by the treacherous natives, and fell, embracing each other. Those islands are supposed, by Middleton, to have received their earlier inhabitants from the Marquesas; and a few, latterly, from Otaheite.

By frequent intercourse, by presents, and by some slight knowledge of medicine, Middleton thought he had established himself among the low islanders so securely that he scrupled not to visit any of their islands, Aura alone excepted. How necessary it must be for a missionary to have a knowledge of medicine and surgery. The Jesuit, Falkner, wandered alone in safety among the tribes of South American Indians, owing, in a great measure, to his knowledge of the healing art.