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Ellice, Union, etc ...
Paumotu (Low Arch.)..
Tonga (Friendly) —
W. Coast S. America
U. S. Protectorate.
U. S. Protectorate.
Native, U. S., Germany.
Indep'dent, English, etc.
Chile and Peru.
U. S. Protectorate.
Behold the threaden sails,
(Henry V. Act III.)
EST by north from Pitcairn, and almost due south from the Paumotus, lie the Austral Isles. The group, fifteen or twenty in number, are between latitudes 22 deg. and 28 deg. south, and 143 deg. to 153 deg. west longitude. The islands are small, and of but little commercial value at present. Rumbia, Tubuaia, Vantaia, Rumbaia, Bapai, Nelson and Oparo are the largest and best known of the group.
Another island cluster, the Gambier, due south from the Paumotus, are rapidly growing in commercial importance. The products, similar to those of the Austral Isles, are altogether of the tropical kind; the soil rich and productive, well suited for the cultivation of coffee, cotton, sugar and spices. It is not my purpose to describe island groups located like the Austral and Gambier, in more than a general way. Lying, as they do, on the outside of the present valuable portion of the island world, their value is in the future.
Prof. Dana in speaking of this group says "that they consist of ten islands, ranging in a line 250 miles long trending N. 62 deg. W. Commencing from the north west they are as follows: Tubuai, Maurua, Borabora, Tahaa, Raitea, Hauhine, Tapuaemanu, Eimeo, Tetuaroa, Tahiti. To this number Osnaburgh or Metia, may properly be added, as it lies in the same range, about one hundred miles to the westward of Tahiti. With the exception of Tubuai and Tetuaroa, they are all basaltic or high islands. The area of the whole does not exceed twenty-five miles square, or 600 miles, and of these about one-half, or three hundred square miles, belong to the single island of Tahiti.
"These basaltic islands are characterized by high mountains, deep precipitous gorges, and that rich livery of green with which the mild airs of a perpetual summer clothe the tropical islands of the Pacific. Coral reefs in some instances border their shores, forming a circle around, dotted with verdant islets.
"The broken character of the surface is most striking on Eimeo, yet all the islands afford scenes of grandeur unsurpassed in the Pacific. In the distant view, Eimeo seems to be a mass of mountain towers, crags and peaks, rising abruptly to great elevations, and in one lofty summit, resembling a rudely shaped cone, there is a hole opening through, a few hundred feet from the top. On Tahiti, still loftier summits, with crowns and crests and jagged ridges constitute the surface. The eye follows up one precipitious slope to plunge at once one or two thousand feet to the bottom of another.
"The islands to the north-westward are described as exceeding Tahiti in their bold features, and in the indentations of their shores, which form deep bays, penetrating far among the mountains; they are for their size, the most remarkable in the Pacific. There is great luxuriance of verdure over the Society Islands, and good soil. But owing to the mountainous character of the lands, and especially the remarkably steep declivities, but little of the surface, comparatively, can be brought under cultivation. Yet there are many fine valleys, besides the level areas along the shores which might be tilled to great advantage. The sugar cane and many tropical fruits are already grown in abundance, and to these the coffee plant and other productions of the East Indies might be added."
Having cargo for Tahiti, it was our good fortune to remain several days, and of course time for a partial inspection of what has been so much written about. The entrance to the main harbor of Tahiti is rather difficult to navigate, and requires the assistance of some ancient weather-beaten mariner who knows every foot of the channel from boyhood. They are to be found among the natives, who, for a proper consideration, will place your vessel at safe anchorage in the