Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/314

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

why learned men should maintain that Hawaii must really mean Savaii in the Samoan group, concerning which the Tahitians know little or nothing, except what they have learned, by their visits to that group, in the character of native missionaries.

There are many points which seem to me in favour of the circuitous route viâ Japan; such, for instance, as the gradual deterioration in the art of tattooing, in which, beyond all question, Japan excels all other nations, and which in the Marquesas, Tahiti, New Zealand, and, I think, also in Hawaii, retained its graceful character, gradually falling off as it travelled westward to Fiji and Tonga. Many other points of similarity exist, such as the use of the honorific prefix O before proper names, as in Japan, O-yama (Respected mountain), or in addressing any person politely. Throughout Polynesia the same custom exists. Hence early travellers wrote of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, as O-whyhee, O-taheiti, O-samoa; and the same with reference to names of persons.

Another point which to me appears to support the theory of the circuitous movement is, that those best acquainted with Samoan matters assert that, beyond any doubt, the Ellice group, lying far to the west of Samoa, was peopled from thence. It is therefore only natural to infer that the tall, comely race of light copper-coloured people who inhabit the south-east coast of New Guinea (that is to say, due west from the Ellice Isles), probably reached those shores about the same period, and from the same direction. Their women are beautifully tattooed, and their language wonderfully resembles that of the Rarotongan teachers, who have come from the distant Hervey Isles to settle among them as pioneers, sent by the native mission in that far easterly group; in fact, many of their words are identical.

Again, it is a well-established fact that Fotuna and Aniwa, two of the southern New Hebrides, which lie due west of the Friendly Isles, were peopled by the descendants of a party of Tongans, who drifted thither in a large canoe and settled on these uninhabited isles. These islanders have retained their own language, and their children when born are very fair, but as they grow up they become almost as dark in colour as their Papuan neighbours. Their hair