Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/269

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EARLY HISTORY.

Yet even this joy is not unmixed. I do find it very hard to be truly philosophical, and not to cry over spilt milk, when I think of the delightful cruise to the Marquesas and Paumotus, which would so admirably have filled up this first fortnight, had I only been able to decide three days earlier.

But it was not till the hospitable ship had sailed, that I found leisure soberly to think the matter over, and to realise how very rare and precious a chance I had so idiotically thrown away. When your eyes are satiated with grand scenery, and each lovely group of isles seems only to differ from the last in its degree of special beauty, you are apt to think that really you have seen enough, and may as well pause and be satisfied with all the exquisite pictures which crowd before your memory. So, when these most kind friends urged me to accompany them on this expedition, I was so absorbed in working up some of the innumerable sketches made on the last trip, that I never took time to think out the subject in all its bearings, and to see how impossible it would be for me to reach Honolulu by sailing-ship, see all the wonders of the Sandwich Isles, and then return to New Zealand or Sydney before Christmas, as I had proposed doing.

Neither did I at all realise how very few travellers have ever seen the Marquesas, and how very little is known about them by the general public, beyond the bare facts of their having been discovered by the Spaniards in 1595, and by them named after the Marquesas de Mendoza, the Viceroy of Peru.

They then seem to have been forgotten till about the year 1777, when they were visited by Captain Cook, who has recorded his admiration of their loveliness, and declared that the inhabitants were the finest race he had seen, "in fine shape and regular features perhaps surpassing all other nations," "as fair as some Europeans, and much tattooed." He found fine harbours, from twenty to thirty fathoms deep, close inshore, with clear sandy bottom; good store of wood and water; and at first the natives seemed inclined to receive the strangers kindly, but became less cordial on further acquaintance.

Soon afterwards the London Mission endeavoured to establish a