Abbildungen der Seite

people material as well as moral advantages over their neighbors, and King George, a very remarkable man, and far in advance of his people, has, during a long reign, made the most of these. “Agriculture, which is well understood, is the chief industry. They are bold and skillful sailors and fishermen; other trades, as boat and house building, carving, cooking, net and mat making, are usually hereditary. Their houses are slightly built, but the surrounding ground and roads are laid out with great care and taste. “There are some ancient stone remains here, as in the Caroline Islands, burial places (feitoka) built with great blocks, and a remarkable monument consisting of two large blocks with a transverse one, containing a circular basin in the centre. “The chief articles of export are cocoanut-oil and copra, a little sugar, cotton and coffee, the cultivation of which is encouraged by the king, and fresh provisions for ships, as yams, pigs and poultry. The chies imports are cloth, cotton prints, hardware, mirrors, etc.”


A little to the north and east of the Tongas are the Hervey or Cook's Islands; Mangaia, Raratonga, Autaluke and Hervey being the largest. They are all of considerable commercial value, not only on account of their agricultural products, but for the great number of turtles and quantity of beche de mer taken in this group. Their products are coffee, cotton, sugar, tobacco, cocoanuts, oil, fungus, tomano wood and bananas. Nearly all the natives of this group can read and write, and profess the Protestant religion. A great deal of time and money has been spent in this region, educating and reclaiming the heathen. It is lamentable though that in adopting our shore civilized manners and habits, that the good and bad of our civilization could not have been separated. Many of the natives here, as well as among other groups of the Pacific, seem to take to the bad naturally, and in this particular locality it resulted in almost decimating the population.

Raratonga stands high above the sea level, nearly 3,000 feet, and the rich tropical vegetation covers the mountain sides clear to their summits. Streams of pure water flow through its valleys of rich alluvial soil, and highly cultivated plantations are to be met with on every hand. The inhabitants offer a pleasing contrast to some already cited, being a happy, peaceful and industrious race, in a comparatively advanced state of civilization.


Nearly due west from Cook's Islands we come to the great group of Viti, popularly known as the Fijis. They are 250 in number, with an area of some 7,400 square miles, and population of about 120,000. It is said that “a few islands in the northeast of the group were first seen by Tasman in 1643. The southernmost of the group, Turtle Island, was discovered by Cook in 1773. Bligh visited them in 1789, and Captain Wilson, of the Duff, in 1797. In 1827 D'Urville, in the Astrolabe, surveyed them much more accurately, but the first thorough survey was that of the United States Exploring Expedition in 1840.” The group was annexed by Great Britain in 1874, and if not justly territory of that country, is practically under the protectorate of England to-day. Situated in both longitudes, that is lying either side of the meridian of Greenwich, and between latitudes 15 deg. 42 min. and 19 deg. 48 min. south, in the track of much of our commercial trade with Australia and islands further west, the Fijis are rapidly growing in commercial importance. They offer a curious study of the past and present. At one time, and that, too, within the memory of the living, the Fijis were inhabited by a race of fierce and warlike man-eaters, whose victims were roasted and eaten, after undergoing all the hideous rites and tortures that their savage natures could suggest. Now the abode of peace and plenty, with churches, schools and manufactures throughout the land. If I mistake not, there are at present 1,400 schools and 200 churches among these islands. The rapid advance made by the natives in civilization, in the arts and agriculture has made of these once inhospitable shores a pleasant home and resort for people of all nations. The main islands are known as Viti Lavu, Vannua Lavu, Moala, Kiro, Lotia, Vunie, Kandavau, Vatata, Valava Ovalau, Lakeruba, Vanua and Yasawa. Mr. Consul March, in his report speaking of the capabilities of Fiji, says: “The productions and resources of Fiji have been described in previous reports; it is sufficient, therefore, to state that these islands, rich and fertile, yield an almost endless variety of vegetable treasures. They abound in edible roots, medical plants, scents and perfumes, and timber of various descriptions; whilst sugar, coffee and tobacco grow most luxuriantly, and if cultivated, would, I think, prove as remunerative as cotton.” The group, generally speaking, may be of vol

[ocr errors][graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »