Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/191

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165
PAPEETE.

tea-shops. It rejoices in the name of Rue de Pologne, while the principal real street is the Rue de Rivoli, where are merchants' stores, cafés, grog-shops, and even hotels of some sort. Of course the pleasantest locations are those which face the harbour and catch the sweet sea-breeze; and the largest stores for provisions and dry goods are in the Rue de Commerce, each possessing its own wharf. I fear the word wharf may suggest the dirty prosaic wharves of England, an idea which you must banish at once; for business in its dingy aspect is not obtrusive, and the harbour-wall is but a stone coping for soft green turf, where girls with light rods sit fishing, and market-boats land their cargo of gay fruit and fish, while the motley throng pass and repass—Tahitians, French sailors and soldiers, Chinamen, black-robed French priests, and all the nondescript nationalities from the ships.

There is a considerable foreign population, including, of course, a large staff of French officials of all sorts—civil, naval, and military—and their presence seems a raison d'être for a strong corps of gens d'armes, who otherwise would certainly seem an incongruous element in the South Seas.

By a recent census I learn that the native population of Tahiti is somewhere about 8000; that of Moorea, 1500. That there are in the group 830 French, 144 citizens of the United States, 230 British subjects, and about 700 Chinese.

The French have both a Protestant and Roman Catholic Mission. The former was made necessary by the fact that, on the establishment of the Protectorate in 1843, the English missionaries were subjected to such very oppressive regulations as greatly impeded their ministrations among the people, all of whom were at that time Christians, and, moreover, still in the fervour of first love—a love which, it is to be feared, has now in a great measure faded to the light of common day, as might be expected from the large influx of infidel, or at best, wholly indifferent, foreigners.

The Church of Rome having resolved to proselytise this already occupied field, sent here a bishop and many priests, with a supplementary staff of "Frères et Sœurs de Charité." I think the Sisters are of the order St Joseph de . . . The foreigners con-