Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/270

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station in the group, but found the people such savage cannibals, that the position was untenable, and they were forced to abandon it. From that time forward we have only an occasional record of some American man-of-war having touched there, invariably confirming Cook's account of the beauty of the people and of the isles.

In 1837 the French sent out an exploring expedition commanded by D'Urville, whose somewhat remarkable official orders were, "d'apprivoiser les hommes, et de rendre les femmes un peu plus sauvages!"

The result of his report was, that the French decided on establishing themselves in the Marquesas, the Society, and the Paumotu Isles. Accordingly, in 1842, an expedition sailed from Brest to effect this purpose, its destination being a secret known only to its commander. The Marquesas were selected as the best centre of operations. A squadron of four heavy frigates and three corvettes, commanded by Rear-Admiral Du Petit Thouars, accordingly astonished the natives by suddenly appearing in the lovely harbour of Taiohae, on the island of Nukuheva; and very soon these simple folk learned the full meaning of the gay tricoloured flags and bristling broadsides.

The ostensible pretext for this invasion was that of reinstating Mowanna, the friendly chief of Nukuheva, in what the French thought proper to assume as his ancestral right—namely, that of ruling over the whole group of twelve isles, each of which had hitherto considered itself as a distinct world, subdivided into many antagonistic kingdoms. However, a puppet-king was the pretext required, and Mowanna furnished it, and was rewarded with regal honours and a gorgeous military uniform, rich with gold lace and embroidery.

Of course he and his tribe of Nukuhevans were vastly delighted, perceiving that they had gained omnipotent allies; and when five hundred troops were landed in full uniform, and daily drilled by resplendent officers, their admiration knew no bounds. They recollected how, when in 1814, the U.S. frigate Essex, commanded by Captain Porter, had refitted at Nukuheva, she had lent them a