Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/43

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21
PAPUAN PHYSIQUE.

These people, like most kindred races when brought in contact with civilisation, are fast dying out. I believe there are now only about 9000 in the Tongan group, 5000 on Happai, and 5000 in Vavau district. They certainly are a very fine well-built race, with clear yellowish-brown skin and Spanish colouring; they also resemble Spaniards or Italians in their animation of expression,—the muscles of the forehead working in a most remarkable manner, especially to express wonder or interest. They have fine faces, well-developed forehead, strong chin, and features generally like those of an average good-looking European. Not the slightest approach to the "blubber lips and monkey faces" of negro races, or of the isles lying nearer to the equator. On the contrary, the mouth is well formed, and shows beautiful teeth. The eyes are invariably dark brown, generally large and clear. The beard, moustaches, and eyebrows are allowed to retain their natural glossy black; but, as in Fiji, the hair is dyed of a light sienna by frequent washing in coral-lime, and encircles the head with a yellow halo, strangely in contrast with the dark eyes and eyebrows. Like that of the Papuan, rather than the pure Polynesian races, it takes the form of a mop of innumerable very fine spiral curls, of which each individual hair twists itself into a tight corkscrew. It is crisp and glossy, and very elastic; and if you draw it out full length, it at once springs back to its natural form. Some of the women now allow their hair to grow quite long. Both men and women march along with a proud overbearing gait that always gives one an impression that they look on all other races with something of contempt.

    gans have awakened to understand the folly of attempting to introduce the manners and customs of foreign countries, without reference to the requirements and necessities of their own people. Consequently several excellent Tongan customs relative to tenure of lands, tribes, and status of the people, are now legalised; and the representatives have shown their strong and sensible desire to retain all that was good in their national code of laws, but which had been put away, together with things evil, at the suggestion of resident foreigners.

    That the latter were so effectually prevented from unduly influencing the young Parliament, was doubtless due to the presence of H.B.M. Deputy-Commissioner for Tonga, A. P. Maudslay, and of Mr Wilkinson, both of whom have been engaged in the establishment of the new Government in Fiji, and well know the wisdom of ruling a semi-civilised race by retaining, so far as is possible, their own ancient feudal customs.