A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War/Chapter 24

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Fautawa, New Year's Day, 1878.

The dancers of last night did not come home till 3.30, and at 7 a.m. the band of La Magicienne came here to serenade Mrs Brander, and played divinely. Many friends drove out to offer their New Year greetings, and so, as if by magic, the lawn was soon crowded with a joyous party, all the girls dressed in the prettiest, freshest of sacques, and their hair wreathed with bright flowers. What could they do but dance? The band, having pledged their hostess in her best champagne, played with a will for a couple of hours, when they were provided with a substantial breakfast, and then all the gentlemen drove off to another place belonging to Mrs Brander, there to preside at a great breakfast to all her employés.

I drove into Papeete with pretty Pree, Manihinihi, and Naani, to call on Marau, Moë, and other friends; and so we began the New Year brightly and happily, in ideal, civilised-South-Sea fashion.

January 25th.

Ever since I arrived here, we have been planning an expedition to the French fort at some distance up this valley, at a height of about 1600 feet above the sea. So one beautiful morning last week, several friends from the Seignelay arrived here before sunrise, and Ariipaea Salmon undertook to be our guide. He had, unfortunately, hurt his foot, so he and I were privileged to ride, the others walking.

For a considerable distance the path winds through a dense thicket of guavas, all self-sown, and considered by the people as great a curse as the (equally imported) lantana in Ceylon, both plants having a fatal facility for spreading and taking permanent possession of every neglected corner. They are the Chinamen of the vegetable world, and are quite as useful in their way. The guava forms the principal firewood of Tahiti. It bears an abundant crop of excellent fruit, which is now ripening just as the mango season is finishing; and I think the Tahitian guava is better than those of India and Ceylon. Certainly it has a far less sickly smell. Cattle and horses alike munch both fruit and leaves with avidity, so I cannot see why the guava should be so generally despised; but the fact remains, strange to say, no one here seems ever to think of making the delicious crimson jelly which we, in England, prize so highly. The fruit is left to drop from the trees utterly unheeded.

Further up the valley the track becomes steep and narrow, and in places runs along the face of the cliff, with the rushing stream immediately below, and overhanging boughs festooned with vines growing so rankly as somewhat to endanger a rider. The beautiful large granadilla passion-flower here runs riot, but its fruit is now all finished. When ripe it resembles a good-sized pumpkin of a bright golden colour, and contains a multitude of seeds like those of a melon, each encased in white jelly. These lie inside a sweetish pulp about two inches thick, which is generally thrown away, but is nevertheless quite worth cooking as a vegetable.

I found the drooping branches so troublesome, that I foolishly abandoned my horse very early, and had a much longer tramp than I counted on. We had not gone very far ere we quite lost the foot-track, and coming to a place where two ravines and two streams meet, Ariipaea, who had not been here for a long time, quite forgot which we were to follow; so first we tried the right side, and clambered up a steep and difficult path, till we were convinced that we were on the wrong track, and returning to the junction, we tried the other ravine, crossing and recrossing the stream.

At length, after much loss of time and energy, we concluded that our best course was again to return to the junction and there breakfast, trusting that by good luck it might prove to be the day on which "Père Fautawa" (as the old soldier in charge of the fort is commonly called) would be returning from Papeete with his rations. Fortune favoured us; and ere we had finished the contents of our hamper (carried by French sailors) the old man appeared, and led the way by a middle path between the two streams. It was a very steep scramble, among great boulders and masses of rent crag, half hidden by the wealth of tree-ferns, young palms, wild bananas, and other tropical foliage, such as ginger, turmeric, wild caladium, and dracæna. The stems of the large trees are covered with parasitic ferns, especially the handsome bird's nest fern, which here grows luxuriantly.

After crossing several small streams, we climbed to the verge of a deep ravine, at the head of which rises a precipitous cliff 600 feet high. Over this rushes a cataract of white foam, which fades into shadowy mist as it loses itself among the tall palms and feathery foliage of the tree-ferns and parasitic vines which veil its base. Above the fall is situated the French fortress.

The interest of the place does not lie in the fort of the foreigners, but in the fact that this was the last stronghold of the Tahitians, in their struggle to retain their independence and resist the hated invaders. Here it was that the last man who fell in that brave strife was shot, betrayed by one of his countrymen, who now reaps the reward of his treachery in the enjoyment of foreign gold and the red ribbon of the Legion of Honour. This was the last blood shed. Now the red roses grow undisturbed on the ramparts, and the lines of defence are so many terraced gardens, where the solitary old soldier grows strawberries for sale in Papeete, whither he descends once or twice a-week to draw his rations and to see the world.

It is a lonely ending for the old man's days, and a strange contrast to his former barrack-life. Now he is often for days together enveloped in mists, which enfold him in an isolated cloud-world. It is comparatively cold, too, at this high level, where at nights the thermometer sometimes falls below 60°. At Père Fautawa's bidding we gathered ripe strawberries from his little garden, the first I had seen growing for many a day.[1]

Then while the sailors busied themselves preparing coffee, we dispersed in search of pleasant pools for bathing, a luxury never more prized than after such a scramble in a tropical valley. Hitherto the day had been quite lovely, now it rapidly overcast, and heavy clouds came down and hid the Diadème—the beautiful crown-shaped mountain, that heads the valley. It is called by the natives Maiao, and though its height does not exceed 4363 feet, it is one of the most remarkable forms in Tahiti.

Ere we had finished our welcome coffee it began to pour so heavily that I voted for camping where we were; but the others feared a freshet, such as might make the streams impassable for days. So they voted for starting instantly, and of course carried the day; and we descended the steep mountain-path in blinding rain, which blurred all beauty, and rushed in rivulets beneath our feet. We were so thoroughly saturated, that crossing and recrossing the stream ceased to give us a moment's thought; and by the time we reached this house, I confess to having been thoroughly exhausted, as was to be expected, after a scramble of fully eight miles without any time to rest.

Of course, as soon as we got back the weather cleared, and we had a most lovely evening, followed by an exquisite moonlight night, and a sunrise which, seen from Fautawa, would have been too fascinating. It was with sore regret that I gazed upward to the sunlit peaks; while for days afterwards I felt too utterly done to do more than creep about the garden.

The upper heights of the valley are wellnigh inaccessible. They culminate in a crag-ridge about 4000 feet in height, forming a crest so narrow as to be a mere saddle barely three feet across—literally a gigantic crag-wall, wooded to the summit. Few are the bold spirits who have cared to scale this barrier in their endeavour to cross the island. Only by painful climbing from ledge to ledge, clinging to overhanging trees, trailing screw-pine, and sturdy vines, which act as natural ropes, is it possible to make any way. Indeed it is necessary to carry strong ropes in case of emergency; and little help can be expected from native guides, who never dream of expending toil so fruitlessly, unless worried into doing so by some unrestful foreigner. I am sure I do not wonder at their being satisfied with lower levels, seeing how enchanting these are. I find day after day gliding by in such peaceful enjoyment, that time passes unmarked, and the further expeditions, of which we have sometimes talked, seem to involve too great exertion. Evidently I am becoming indolent in these dreamy southern isles!

January 30th.

I have just been feasting on a cocoa-palm salad, which would make the fortune of the happy chef who could introduce it at an alderman's feast. That, fortunately for the plantations, is quite out of his power, unless some process be discovered by which to preserve uncooked vegetables. For this dainty consists of the embryo primary shoot of the tree—the unborn fronds, which lie curled up within in a close compact white mass, about the size of a man's arm, and resembling a gigantic stick of celery, with a flavour of filberts. Of course so costly a dish as this (which sacrifices the life of the tree) is rarely indulged in, save when a hurricane has snapped the crown of the tall palm, or when some rich chief wishes to entertain a guest, regardless of expense.

Another very agreeable product of the cocoa-palm, which you in England can never hope to taste, is an over-ripe nut, when in the very act of sprouting. Previous to this, a very curious change has occurred. As you must know, the germ of the plant lies just within the three little eyes, which we used in nursery days to call the monkey's face. Indeed I fear that in those days of our ignorance we imagined they were the marks left by the stalk, quite forgetting that the nut lies in a large outer case of that brown fibre which, in these our later days, we know as "coir." Well, the sharp end of the nut lies next the stalk, and the monkey-face at the further end, so that nursery theory was fallacious, like some others.

When the nut is fully ripe, a fibrous, spongy substance begins to form all round the germ, and this gradually extends, absorbing both the so-called milk and the hard kernel, till the whole shell is full of a soft, sweet, white growth, like a very light blanc-mange. If at this stage the nut escapes the gourmet of the South Seas, the young germ will soon force open one of the three eyes, and, working its way through the fibrous husk, begin its heavenward growth; while from the other two eyes will sprout two rootlets, which instinctively turn downwards, and likewise penetrating the thick protecting outer case, find their way to mother earth, and there strike root. Still the white sponge within the nut goes on expanding, till at length it splits the hard wooden shell, and then gradually decays, and so forms a light nourishing soil, which acts as mother's milk to the baby tree in its delicate early days. After a while it needs no such provision, but flourishes, in grace and beauty, where other trees would starve.

I wonder that no one has ever discovered in the cocoa-palm a meet emblem of charity. Of all plants that grow, none asks so little, or gives so largely. It matters not how dry and barren is the shallow soil, or how briny the coral-sand, washed by every rising tide, the hardy palm strikes its roots among the fragments of coral, and, bending to the gale, weathers the wild storms, and yields its generous increase as abundantly as its more fortunate brethren in the rich soil of sheltered, well—watered valleys. The poorest islander on the loneliest atoll, possessed of a few cocoa-palms, can exist. They give him food and drink, a fibrous material, all ready woven, like coarse canvas, for dress; leaves for thatch, and oil for light, and for personal adornment and comfort. To obtain the latter, he collects a lot of old nuts, such as those we see for sale in England, and scraping out the kernel into some old canoe, leaves the whole mass for some days exposed to the sun, till the pure oil exudes, and without further trouble he stores it in any vessels he may possess—gourds or bamboos. Of course, a European who trades in palm-oil prefers to collect it in the form of copprai.e., dried cocoa-nut—as a much larger amount of oil is obtained by pressure of machinery.

Another hardy child of these coral-isles is the pandanus, or screw-pine, as it is commonly called, because its leaves, which grow in tufts at the tips of the branches, are all set like a screw, twisting round the stem, which is thus marked with a spiral pattern from the root upward. Like the cocoa-palm, it grows in the clean dry coral-sand, where there is apparently no moisture; yet when cut it is found to be full of oily sap. The wood is close and hard, and though rarely exceeding five or six inches in diameter, it often grows perfectly upright, for fifteen or twenty feet, and yields excellent posts for building; they are, however, hollow like a bamboo. The long drooping leaves are valuable for thatch, being from three to five feet in length, and about three inches wide. They are edged with sharp prickles, but, when torn into strips, are useful for plaiting mats and canoe-sails.

The women steep the leaves in sea-water, and then beat them with a mallet till all the green skin comes off, leaving a beautifully white silky fibre, which they dye red, yellow, and brown, and then plait into wonderfully fine sashes, about a foot wide. It has been suggested that this pure white fibre would prove a valuable material for paper-making, but I have not heard of its being tried. A stronger fibre is obtained by crushing the aerial roots, which this strange tree throws out in all directions, forming stays by which it protects itself against the violent gales,—a necessary precaution, where the main root grows only in the sand.

The flower of the pandanus is exceedingly fragrant; but though I have seen thousands of screw-pines, I have rarely had the luck to find one in blossom. Its fruit resembles a coarse pine-apple. When ripe it becomes bright scarlet, and the Samoans use it for making necklaces. It is divided into honeycomb sections. When the fruit is ripe these fall apart, each being a separate conical lump, of which the inner end is soft and saccharine, and can be chewed like sugar-cane.

When the capsules are thoroughly dried, they can be cracked, and yield a kernel, which is edible; and in the barren isles, near the equator, this fruit is considered a valuable product. It is dried and grated, and the sweet brown sawdust thus obtained is stored as the only substitute for flour; and cakes of it are baked, as occasion may require, to eke out a fish diet, which is not always forthcoming. It is said to be wholesome, nourishing food; but in these more luxuriant southern isles I have never seen it eaten by the natives, only by the foreign labour—i.e., the men imported from the groups to the north-east, who are engaged to work on the plantations. In their own isles they have discovered a means of steaming and mashing the fruit which, when fermented, yields a strong and highly intoxicating spirit. The whalers who years ago settled among them, taught them to improve on this liquor by distillation, and also instructed them how to obtain a fiery spirit from the innocent palm-trees. So, thanks to their tuition, and generally civilising influence, the Line islanders have become infinitely more debased than they previously were.

It does seem too bad, does it not, to extract poison from these useful trees? But whether it be orange-rum in Tahiti, or barley-bree in the isles nearer home, I suppose the white race will find means to procure fire-water wherever it goes, and seems to turn every sort of plant to the same use. What with rum from the sugar-cane, and fiery spirit from the sweet dracæna root, and even from innocent bananas, it appears as if every good gift of heaven was liable to be misused in like manner.

I hear some people say that they weary of the monotony of the cocoa-palms; and certainly a low coral-shore, with an unbroken line of palm-trees, is somewhat dull. Here, however, there is an amazing variety in the foliage of the seaboard. Besides the many beautiful large-leaved shrubs, there are various handsome trees, which attain a great size, and, as I described to you, many grow so close to the shore that their boughs literally dip into the sea. Some of these are fruit-bearing. The vi bears bunches of large yellow plums, and the ahia[2] yields a lovely pink fruit, with white juicy flesh.

But of all the indigenous trees none can compare for beauty and value to the bread-fruit, which, though it demands a richer soil in the first instance, rivals the cocoa-palm in its manifold uses. Though it does not give drink to the thirsty, or coir for ropes and matting, its resin forms a strong glue which is useful in caulking the boats, and the bark of the young branches yields a fibre from which strong cloth is made. Its timber is exceedingly valuable; and its thick glossy leaves, which are sometimes eighteen inches in length by about twelve in breadth, are also turned to good account. But of course it is chiefly prized for its abundant food-supply. Each tree yields three, sometimes four, crops annually; and as there are in these isles about fifty recognised varieties, which ripen at different seasons, it follows that, with a little care in cultivation, the supply might very easily be so regulated as never to fail. A large bread-fruit tree in full bearing is certainly a most beautiful object, with its wealth of green or yellow fruit hanging from beneath the handsome deeply indented leaves. A good tree will bear several hundred fruits—each about eight inches long by six wide,—with a rough green rind, divided into a lozenge-shaped pattern. This is sometimes peeled off before the white pulp is cooked; but I infinitely prefer the bread-fruit roasted whole on the embers or baked in the earth in a native oven, when the blackened rind is scraped off, and the inside is found thoroughly cooked, and in taste something like the thick scones known in the colonies as "dampers," or like the cold "chupatties" we used to eat on the march in the Himalayas—floury but rather tough. I don't think that these natural loaves are to be compared to a good potato. However, they are the bread of the favoured tropics; and nowhere else does mother nature yield so much wholesome food for so little human toil.

You need not, however, imagine that these good things are common property, to be gathered and cooked by every hungry man. On the contrary, every cocoa-palm and fruit-bearing tree on these or any other isles that I know of, has its owner, and is very likely the sole wealth of a whole family. So each fruit commands as regular a market-value in the South Sea Isles, as do the apples and potatoes of the English farmers. This is a simple fact, apparently not always recognised by visitors and others, who occasionally write to request their friends living here to send them cases of oranges and other fruits, as if they supposed that these were to be had for the mere trouble of gathering and packing!

Speaking of gathering and packing, I have for some time past been devoting a considerable amount of energy to collecting mango-stones, or rather kernels, with a view to sending them to Fiji. It is only about eighteen years since the mango-tree was introduced to these isles from Rio Janeiro, and so wonderful is the rapidity with which it has spread, that it now holds its place as the most marked feature in the vegetation of this group. Every homestead is embowered in these and other fruit-bearing trees, and for the last two months every man, woman, and child (to say nothing of quadrupeds) seems to be for ever eating ripe, delicious, golden mangoes; and every road, indeed the ground in every direction, is strewn with les noyaux; though the people so fully appreciate the luxury of a feast by the river-side, where they may enjoy the juicy dainties without the smallest respect for conventional appearances, that an immense number of the finest kernels are thrown into the water—indeed, since I have been so anxious to collect good sorts, I observe with annoyance that though I entreat these careless easy-going people (le peuple) to throw the best stones in some corner for me, they seem by preference (or probably by force of habit) always to chuck them into the water.

The French have taken immense trouble in perfecting this valuable fruit, and have now introduced so many excellent varieties that one crop succeeds another in rotation. The round mango is succeeded by the golden egg, and that by a small purple, while the large long sort seems inexhaustible. Best of all are those specially cultivated by Monseigneur Janssen, Bishop of Axièri, who has raised a super-excellent mango with a very large fruit, and a long stone so thin and flat as to resemble the inner sole of a child's shoe.

The bishop has also been inspired with the happy thought of distributing mango-stones in other groups, and sent off a large consignment last month by a vessel going direct to New Caledonia. He is most kind in helping me to collect a good assortment for Fiji: at the same time, he warns me that taking the best seed is no sure warrant for getting equally good plants, as no other tree exists, so faithless in reproducing its own kind, and variety of soil produces every conceivable variety of tree. You may take twin fruits from one tree, and plant them a few yards to right and left of the parent tree. One will grow up infinitely superior to its mother—the other will be all stone and fibre, and scarcely fit for the pigs. The only certainty lies in taking graffs of the good ones, and so utilising the stock; also in planting, the richest soil must be selected, as the tree has a long tap-root and strikes deep.

Now there is abundance of rich soil in Fiji, and the ordinary vegetation is identical with that of Tahiti; so there can be no reason why the mango should not be acclimatised there as well as here, and it would be a very great satisfaction to me to aid in bestowing so great a boon on the young colony. I am sure I deserve that the attempt should succeed, for it has already cost me an immense amount of trouble. In spite of all precautions, of careful drying and turning, &c., a very large number of the stones I collected in the early part of the season have already sprouted. Some are quite respectable young trees.

So now I am making a more systematic attempt, and have devoted several days to driving to all the very finest gardens in the neighbourhood, where, with the help of a pretty Tahitian boy (who rather enjoyed such a chance of an unlimited feed), I set to work to collect the half-decayed fruit, which lay rotting under all the best trees. I can tell you that cleaning the stones was about the hottest, dirtiest, and most fatiguing work I have done for many a day. However, notwithstanding the heat, I stuck to it for six hours one day and three the next, and two hours on several other days. And the result is a splendid lot of noyaux, which every morning I turn and re-turn, in order to dry them thoroughly, hoping to prevent their sprouting like the first lot. But in spite of all my precautions, the large flat seeds of the finest mango have already done so—so they, at least, can only be propagated by graffs. Another difficulty is, that hitherto all my efforts to send plants from Fiji to England by Wardian cases of island manufacture have proved abortive. In every case the plants have died, so I do not feel much encouraged to try the experiment again.

The great difficulty lies in the length of time that must elapse ere either plants or stones can reach Fiji; as, of course, such a chance as that of the vessel which brought me thence, direct to this group, is of very rare occurrence. The probability is, that the seeds which I am now collecting will have to wait for an opportunity of being sent by sailing-vessel 2000 miles north to Honolulu; there to be transhipped to a Pacific mail-steamer, and be carried south-west 4000 miles to Sydney; where they would find another steamer to take them the 1700 miles to Levuka, whence they will find their way by sundry small sailing-boats to the various Fijian isles. A somewhat circuitous route, you must allow!

February 3d,

After all, I have found a somewhat more direct route by which to send some of my mango-stones. Le Limier was despatched to-day on special service to the Gilbert Isles, thence to proceed to New Caledonia, and her very obliging captain, Commandant Puèch, offered to carry a large case to the care of the British Consul (Mr Layard), who will forward it to Sir Arthur Gordon by the first opportunity. So I set to work to pack 4000 carefully selected stones, laying them side by side as neatly as though building a wall with children's little bricks. It took me a whole day's work, and, considering that each seed has passed through my hands six or eight times, while collecting, cleaning, scraping, drying, turning, selecting, and finally packing, you will not wonder that I looked after the departing case with a feeling of quite maternal interest.[3]

The mission on which Le Limier is now bound is to take back 200 of the Arawais, inhabitants of the Gilbert Islands, who were brought here as foreign labourers about nine years ago, on the understanding that they would very soon be sent home again, whereas they have been detained all these years. When Admiral Serres commenced critical inquiries on the various abuses at which previous governors had winked, this fact became known, and he decided that the labourers should be sent back soon after the New Year—an announcement which filled their masters with dismay, in view of ungathered crops, but was hailed by the Arawais with joy till they learnt by what vessel they were to travel. Then they were filled with alarm, believing that so large a ship would not dare to risk the dangerous navigation between their little isles; and that they would probably all be landed (as has often been done in similar cases) on one or two of the principal isles, where they would be left quite as much in a strange land as in Tahiti, and, moreover, with the certainty of being robbed, and the probability of being eaten by hostile tribes. So a considerable number have refused to go on this occasion. Indeed M. Puèch is himself much perturbed as to how to accomplish this really difficult business.

He invited a few friends, including myself, to go on board at the last moment, to faire les adieux. The vessel presented a curious scene—picturesque, certainly, with abundance of bright colour, but more like an emigrant ship than a man-of-war. Le Limier is so constructed that she has not sufficient accommodation to allow of all the crew sleeping below at one time. So these wretched Arawais, including women and children, are taken only as deck passengers; and as the cruise, under steam, cannot take less than from sixteen to eighteen days, during which they must take their chance of whatever weather they may encounter, you can understand that the voyage does not promise to be a pleasure-trip.

The vessel carries much extra coal, to provide against the danger of a calm. So half her deck is loaded with this dirty store, and the 200 Gilbert Islanders are huddled together on the main-deck. Each labourer has a trade box, containing a few clothes, a good deal of tobacco, and some cheap toys for children; and this is all they carry home as the fruit of their long exile. Nine years of ceaseless toil in a far country, repaid by a little wooden box full of cheap rubbish!

While we were on board, a little baby died on deck in its mother′s arms. Some fellow-countrymen, who had come to see their friends start, undertook to carry the poor little body ashore for burial. The father opened his box of trade, and took out a few yards of coarse printed calico, which he gave to the said friends, apparently as payment for their trouble. The poor mother fell on her face at the gangway, wailing piteously. She appeared utterly miserable. It was a sad beginning for a voyage, and we all doubly regretted the departure of our friends with such an unpleasant three weeks in prospect.

When I saw how terribly overcrowded the vessel was, I thought Captain Puèch must surely repent of his kindness in offering to carry the big case of mango-stones; but on the contrary, he made it appear as though I had done him quite a favour in letting him take charge of the precious seeds, which, we trust, will hereafter become so valuable a boon to Fiji. Kind, good friend, we all wished him bon voyage with all our hearts; then returning to the shore we watched the good ship sail, amid hearty cheers from Le Seignelay, and with large bouquets on each mast, to mark that she is homeward-bound.

The Red House, Papeete,
Friday, February 8th.

The Ségond, French man-of-war, has just arrived from San Francisco, bringing the new French governor—a fine jovial naval officer—with an A.D.C. who, like his chief, is well known in Tahiti for his strong liking for natives and native customs.

So while the appointment has caused great delight to one section of the community, others foresee a speedy relapse from the high-pressure morality, and various reforms which, under the good admiral′s régime, made Papeete so strictly respectable that its own inhabitants said the like had never been seen under any previous rule. But everything changes with the admiral and governor of the day, and every one here declares that the ships in harbour during the last few months have been of such exceptionally good type that the result has been a model era, probably too perfect to last.

To-morrow Le Seignelay is to sail for Valparaiso to restore M. D'Oncieue, M. Fayzeau, and the band, to La Magicienne. So to-day Mrs Brander gave a farewell breakfast at Fautawa to as many as could come, after which we all adjourned here, as being more convenient for a great reception at Government House to-night, when the good band will play for the last time. Henceforth Papeete must be content with the feebler efforts of a band recruited from her own citizens, but as yet not up to the mark.

Saturday, February 9th.

Le Seignelay sailed this morning, and with most true regret I bade adieu to the pleasant companions of the last five months. With unchanging kindness they again offered me the hospitality of the ship, and placed a cabin at my disposal in case I cared to visit Valparaiso; but I do not feel tempted by that unpicturesque coast, and its very gay and gorgeously apparelled Spanish-German society. In a very few days the Maramma must return from the Sandwich Isles with her cargo of cattle, and then I hope to start for the volcanoes.

  1. The next I saw were at the British Legation in Pekin, where they were objects of intense interest, as being probably the first ever grown in the Celestial Empire.
  2. The Malay apple, familiar to us in Fiji as the kaveeka.
  3. Just before leaving Tahiti, I bestowed equal care on three cases containing 6000 stones, which were carried by sailing-ship to New Zealand and thence to Fiji. Their arrival there was anxiously expected, and all arrangements made for their speedy distribution throughout the group. Alas! alas! when, after long delays, the cases were opened, they were found to contain a mass of decay; poor dead plants, which had sprouted during the voyage, and straightway died. When this sad news reached me, I bethought me sorrowfully of the advice given me by Monseigneur Janssen—namely, that as plants require light and air to enable them to sprout, I would do well to compel them to sleep by packing them in soot, and then having the case carefully caulked. The mess involved in such work was so horrible, that I shrank from undertaking it, but I bequeath the good advice to my successors in the attempt.