Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/42

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is her petticoat. Should she venture beyond her threshold minus this garment, she is liable to a fine of three dollars. If caught smoking, she is fined two and a half dollars, and one and a half dollar costs. Imagine such legislation for a people whose highest proof of reverence in olden days was to strip themselves to the waist in presence of their king, or on approaching a sacred spot, and who still consider any upper garment as altogether superfluous—a people, moreover, whose very nature it is to be for ever rolling up minute cigarettes for themselves and their friends!

The most atrocious of all the regulations is one inflicting a fine of ten dollars on any man found without a shirt, though wearing such a sulu (kilt) as would in Fiji be considered full dress, either at church or Government House. One of the lads told us he had actually been made to pay this fine a few days ago, having put off his shirt while fishing. Wet or dry they must wear the unaccustomed foreign clothing, instead of the former coating of oil, which made these people as impervious to water as so many ducks. But whether by compulsion or for vainglory, the hideous foreign clothes are worn during the burning heat of the day; then, under the friendly veil of night, comfort and economy are consulted by dispensing with superfluous garments; and so the heavy night-dews act with double power, and chills produce violent coughs, which too often end in consumption and death.[1]

  1. I am happy to say that the king's good sense carried the day, and enabled the wishes of the people to find an independent voice. In July 1879, King George formally opened a Tongan Parliament, at which, for the first time, representatives of the people were present, under the new constitution, to discuss all questions relating to their own wellbeing. Ere the close of the session, in the middle of September, the law prohibiting the manufacture and wearing of native cloth, and rendering certain articles of clothing compulsory, was abolished. Men and women are now permitted to wear any clothes they please, in doors or out, provided, of course, that they are decently clad according to South Sea interpretation of the word. The only exception to this happy rule of liberty is the interior of the Wesleyan Church at Nukualofa, where it is still necessary for men to appear in full European dress—coat, trousers, shoes, &c.—and for women to wear bonnets and dresses! Those who cannot, or will not, comply with this regulation, must stay outside the sanctuary.

    The prohibition against women smoking was also modified. Doubtless the revenue will suffer from the diminution of fines, but that can scarcely be a matter of much regret. Various other wise measures were passed, showing that the Ton-