Copyright
Nicholas Senn.

Tahiti; the island paradise online

. (page 1 of 14)
Online LibraryNicholas SennTahiti; the island paradise → online text (page 1 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE I5UND PARADISE



DR.NICHOMS S£NN



:x^oq




THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA



PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND

MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



^^



TAHITI

THE

ISLAND PARADISE

BY

NICHOLAS SENN, M. D., Ph. D., LL. D., C. M.

Professor of Surgery in the University of Chicago

Professor and Head of the Surgical Department in Rush Medical College

Surgeon-in-Chief df St. Joseph's Hospital

Attending Surgeon of the Presbyterian Hospital

Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of the Operating StafI with the Army in

the Field during the Spanish-American War

Surgeon-General of Illinois

WITH FIFTY HALF-TONE ILLUSTRATIONS



CHICAGO

W. B. CONKEY COMPANY



C0PYRI«HT, 1906,
BY

W. B. CONKEY COMPANY






PREFACE

The far-away little island of Tahiti is the gem
of the South Pacific Ocean. If any place in this
world deserves to be called a paradise, Tahiti
can make this claim. This charming spot in the
wide expanse of the peaceful ocean has attrac-
tions which we look for in vain anywhere else.
From a distance, the grandeur of its fro^vning
cliffs rivets the eye, and, in coming nearer, its
tropic beauty charms the visitor and imprints
upon his memory pictures single and panoramic
that neither distance nor time can efface. The
scenic beauty of this island is unsurpassed. The
calming air, redolent with the perfume of fragrant
flowers of exquisite beauty, on the seashore, in
the valleys and on the precipitous mountain
sides; the luxuriant vegetation; the forest fruit-
gardens and the sweet music of the surf remind
one of the original habitation of man. The
natives, a childlike people, friendly, courteous
and hospitable, are the happiest people on earth,
free from care and worries which in other less
favored parts of the world make life a drudgery.

Tahiti is the only place in the world where
the people are not obliged to work. The forests
furnish bread and fruit and the sea teems with
fish. The climate is so mild that the wearing of
clothing is rather a matter of choice than of



iviS63571



6 PREFACE

necessity, and the bamboo huts that can be made
with Uttle or no expense in half a day with
the wilHng help of the neighbors, meet all the
requirements of a home. The stranger will find
here throughout the year a climate and sur-
roundings admirably adapted to calm his nervous
system and procure repose and sleep.

In writing this little bock I have made free use
of the "Memoirs of Arrii Taimai E., Marama
of Eimeo, Terii rere of Tooarai, Terii nui of
Tahiti, Tauraatua I Amo" (Paris, 1901). The
authoress was the mother of Tati, one of the
most influential present chiefs of Tahiti, and, as
her several titles show, she was of noble birth.
She was an eye-witness of many of the most
stirring political events in the history of the
island. Only fifty copies of this book were
printed and only three remained in possession
of her son. He was kind enough to give me
one of them, v/hicli, after making liberal use
of it, I presented to the library of the University
of Chicago, through its late lamented president,
Dr. W. R. Harper. I also acknowledge my in-
debtedness to the works of Captain Cook, "A
Voyage to the Pacific" (London, 1784), and to
the book of Baron Ferd. von Mueller, "Select
Extra-tropical Plants" (Melbourne, 1885).

N. Senn.
Chicago, 1906.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



The Royal Family Frontispiece

Harbor and Principal Port of Papeete. . .Facing Page 9
Lighthouse, and Cook Monument at

Haapape " ** 14

King Pomare V " " 18

Pomare IV " " 22

View of Moorea " " 26

Tahiti from the Harbor of Papeete " "30

In the Shadow of the Palm Forest , . " "34

The S. S. "Mariposa" Leaving the Harbor

of Papeete " " 38

Royal Palace (Headquarters of the Gov-
ernor) " " 42

Avenue of Purranuia, Papeete " " 48

Native Village by the Sea " " 52

Native Hut close by the Sea " " 56

Prince Hinoi " " 60

A Tahitian Home " " 64

Tahitian Bamboo House " " 68

Tomb of the Last King of Tahiti,

Pomare V " " 74

Tahitian Women in Ancient Native Dress " " JS

Tahiti Girls in Native Dress " " 84

A Group of Native Girls " " 88

Native Girl in Modern Dress " " 94

Tahitian Ladies in Zulu Dress " " 98

7



8



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Native Musicians and Native Dance . . .Facing
Tahitian Girl in Native Festive Dress. .

At Home

A Home by the Sea — Raiatca

Fisherman's Home

Native Settlement

Group of Tahitian Children

A Case of Far-Advanced Leprosy

Affecting All Limbs

A Leper of Tahiti

Military Hospital in Papeete

Tahitian Fruit Vender

Preparing Breadfruit

Sapodilla

Copra Establishment

Government Wharf — Papeete

Corner in Papeete

A View of Fautahua Valley

Avenue of Fautahua

Cascade of Fautahua

Bridge across Fautahua near Waterfall
Lagoon and Reef on the Ninety-Mile

Road...,

On the Ninety-Mile Road

Fishermen of Papeete

Tahitian Canoe with Outrigger

Two Papaya Trees

Picking Cocoanuts

Alligator Pear Tree

Ancient Masked Warriors



icing Pag(


il02


« it


108


(( «


114


« 41


118


{( «


124


« «


128


{( ((


134


(( «


140


(( ((


142


« U


144


(1 ((


150


(« «


158


it <(


160


(( ((


164


(( I<


168


« «


172


(i I<


178


u «


182


It <(


186


« (i


190


({ «


196


« ((


200


<( ((


206


<( (1


210


*' "


220


(i «


226


(( (1


232


« «


240



TAHITI

THE ISLAND PARADISE



When the Almighty Architect of the universe
created the earth we inhabit, He manifested His
wisdom, goodness and foresight in adapting, in
a most admirable manner, the soil, climate, and
animal and vegetable life for the habitation of
man, the supreme work of creation. By the
gradual and progressive geographical distri-
bution of man over the surface of the earth, he
has become habituated to diverse climates and
environments, and has found conditions most
congenial to his comfort and the immediate
necessities of life.

In cold, laborious climes, the wintry North
Brings her undaunted, hardy warriors forth,
In body and in mind untaught to yield,
Stubborn of soul, and steady in the field;
While Asia's softer climate, form'd to please.
Dissolves her sons in indolence and ease.

LUCANUS.

It required centuries for the Esquimau to be-
come acclimated to the inhospitable polar regions,
and make them his favorite abode; the people
who drifted toward the equator gradually be-
came inured to the climate of the tropics and

9



10 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

accustomed to the manner of living in countries
where the perennial heat paralyzes the physical
and mental energies, and undermines the health
of strangers coming from a more temperate
climate. Nature has made ample provision for
man in all habitable parts of the earth. The
regions of ice and snow are inhabited by fur-
bearing animals, and, at certain seasons of the
year, are frequented by a large variety of aquatic
birds in great abundance, which supply the natives
with food and clothing, while in the tropics, man
has little or no need of fuel and clothing, and,
with very little exertion, he can subsist on the
fruits of the forests, and on the food so liberally
supplied by the sea.

The intensity of the struggle for life increases
with the distance north and south from the tem-
perate zones, where climatic conditions necessi-
tate active exercise and where the necessities of
life can only be obtained by the hardest kind of
labor. The climate of the tropics, on the other
hand, is very generous to man. The forests are
rich in fruityielding trees which Nature plants,
which receive little or no care, yet which bear
fruit throughout the year. Wherever the cocoa-
palm grows in abundance, there can be no famine,
because this tree yields a rich harvest of nutritious
fruit from one end of the year to the other with-
out fail, as it is never affected to any considerable
extent by drouth and other conditions which so



TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE H

often bring failure to the orchards in more tem-
perate cHmates. The continuous summer and the
wonderful fertility of the soil in tropic and sub-
tropic countries reward richly the labor of the
husbandman by two and sometimes three har-
vests a year, as nature's forces require no rest, no
slumber there.

Life in a changeable, severe climate is full of
hardships ; in the tropics, of ease and leisure. The
nearer we come to the tropics, the closer we ap-
proach the conditions of primitive man. The
necessities of life increase as we recede on either
side of the equatorial line. The dreamy, easy,
care-free life in the tropics is in strong contrast
with the severe and arduous struggles for exist-
ence in countries less favored by the resources
of nature.

Among the trees in the Garden of Eden, the
palm tree was undoubtedly the most beautiful,
and it remains to-day the queen of the forests of
the seacoast in the tropics. The palm-clad isles
of the South Sea bear a closer resemblance to the
description of the Garden of Eden than any other
of the many parts of the world that I have ever
seen; and of these, Tahiti is a real paradise on
earth. There is no country nor other isle where
Nature has been so liberal in the distribution of
her gifts. No other island can compare in natural
beauty with Tahiti, the gem of the South Pacific
Ocean. It is the island where life is free of care.



12 TAHITI — THE ISLAND PARADISE

It is the island where the natives are fed, clothed
and housed by nature It is the island where man
is born, eats his daily bread without being forced
to labor, sleeps and dreams away his life free from
worry, and enjoys the foretaste of the eternal
paradise before he dies. It is the island which
must have been born

In the morning of the world,

When earth was nigher heaven than now.

Browning.

It is the island of which the poet must have
been musing when he wrote :

Amid an isle around whose rocky shore
The forests murmur and the surges roar,
A goddess guards in her enchanted dome.

Pope.



THE ISLAND OF TAHITI

About three thousand six hundred miles south
by southwest from San Francisco are the Society
Islands, a small archipelago in the South Pacific
Ocean, in latitude 16 to 18 degrees south, longi-
tude 148 to 155 degrees west. Captain Cook
named this group in honor of the Royal Society
of London. The largest two of these islands,
Tahiti and Moorea, are of volcanic origin, moun-
tainous and heavily timbered; the remaining
islands are small, low, of coral origin, and are
called atolls. In approaching the archipelago
from San Francisco, a few of these palm-fringed
atoll islands come first into view, forming a
pleasing foreground to the rugged mountains of
Tahiti and its smaller neighbor, Moorea, which
are sighted almost at the same time. After a
voyage over the desert ocean of thirteen days
(all this time out of sight of land), to gaze on
the most beautiful islands of this group is a
source of exquisite pleasure.

Sea-girt isles,
That like to rich and various gems, inlay
The unadorned bosom of the deep.

Milton.

The South Pacific Ocean is the natural home
of the coral polyps, which are great island-
builders, using the volcanic material as a foun-
is



14 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

dation for the coral superstructure. As these
minute builders can live only in shallow water,
they use submerged mountain peaks for their
foundations, converting them into low atolls, and
building reefs around the base of the high vol-
canic islands. Most of the Society Islands are
of coral formation perched upon submerged
mountain summits. The island of Tahiti is small,
of little commercial interest, and hence it is com-
paratively unknown to the masses of the people.
Very few who left the schoolroom twenty-five
years ago would be able to locate it without con-
sulting a geography, and many have even for-
gotten the name. The children fresh from school
recall it in connection with the difficulty they
encountered in finding the little dot in the great,
trackless South Pacific Ocean, surrounded by a
group of still smaller specks, representing the
remainder of the little archipelago to which it
belongs.

Tahiti is nearly four thousand miles distant
from San Francisco, in a southwesterly direction,
below the equator, in latitude 17, hence in a
similar latitude to that of the Hawaiian Islands,
v/hich are situated about the same distance north
of the equator.

I had heard much of the natural beauty of
this far-off island and its interesting inhabitants,
and decided to spend my midwinter vacation in
1904 in paying It a visit. Formerly the passage




LIGHTHOUSE AND COOK MONUMENT AT
HAAPAPE



THE ISLAND OF TAHITI 15

from San Francisco had to be made by a
schooner, and required several months. For
the last four years the island has been made
readily accessible by a regular steamer service.
The staunch steamer, Mariposa, of the Oceanic
Steamship Company of San Francisco, sails from
that port every thirty-six days, makes the trip in
twelve or thirteen days, and remains at Papeete,
the capital of the island, four days, which give
the visitor ample time to visit the most interesting
points and make the desired observations. The
track of the steamer is over that part of the
Pacific Ocean which is comparatively free from
violent storms, between the storm centers east
and west from it. The prevailing trade-winds
cool off the tropical heat in the vicinity of the
equator, rendering the voyage at all seasons of
the year a pleasant one. The steamer has a
tonnage of three thousand tons, the service is ex-
cellent, and the table all that could be desired. I
know of no better way to spend a short mid-
winter vacation than a trip to Tahiti, the island
paradise, the most interesting and beautiful of all
islands.

January and February are the months when
the fruit is most abundant, and the climate most
agreeable. The twenty-five days of voyage on
the ocean, the few days on shore occupied by a
study of its natives, their customs, manner of
living, by visits to the various points of historic



16 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

interest, and by the greatest of all genuine pleas-
ures, the contemplation of nature's choicest exhi-
bitions in the tropics, are all admirably adapted to
procure physical rest and pleasure, and pleasing
as well as profitable mental occupation. A trip to
Tahiti will prove of particular benefit to those
who are in need of mental rest. The absence of
anything like severe storms on this trip should be
a special inducement, for those who are subject
to seasickness, to travel there.

The steamer is well adapted for service in the
tropics, the cabins are roomy and comfortable.
Capt. J. Rennie is one of the most experienced
commanders of the fleet, a good disciplinarian
and devoted to the safety and comfort of his pas-
sengers. While the steamer can accommodate
seventy cabin passengers, the number seldom
exceeds twenty-five. The tourist therefore
escapes crowding and noise, so trying to the
nerves, and so common on the transatlantic
steamers and other more frequented ocean routes.



OCEAN VOYAGE

The steamer Mariposa leaves the San Francisco
wharf at eleven o'clock a. m., — an excellent time
for the passengers to enjoy the beauties of the
bay and the Golden Gate, to see the rugged coast
of California gradually disappear in the distance
during the course of the afternoon, and to prepare
himself for the first night's sleep in the cradle
of the deep. The second day out, and until the
mountains of Tahiti come in sight, the traveler
will see nothing but the floating tavern in which
he lives, its inmates, the inky blue ocean, the sky,
clouds, and, occasionally, sea-gulls, and isolated
schools of flying fish. The steamer's track is
over an unfrequented part of the ocean. The
passenger looks in vain for a mast or white-
winged sails, or puflfs of smoke in the distance,
sights so often seen on more frequented ocean
highways. The steamer crosses an ocean desert
little known, but out of reach of the violent
storms, so frequent near the coasts, on both sides
free from reefs and rocks, as this part of the
ocean is of unusual depth, amounting in many
places to three miles. Stranding of the vessel,
or collision with others, the greatest dangers in-
cident to sea travel, are therefore reduced to a
minimum on this route. Although this course is
an unusually lonely one, the interested observer

2 17



18 TAHITI — THE ISLAND PARADISE

will find much to see and enjoy. The vast
expanse of the ocean impresses the traveler from
day to day and grows upon him as the distance
from the coast increases.

Illimitable ocean ! without bound,

Without dimensions, where length, breadth, and height,

And time, and place, are lost

Milton.

The boundless ocean desert, mirror-like when
at rest, clothed by gentle ripples and ceaseless
wavelets when fanned by the trade-winds, is a
picture of peace and contentment.

The winds with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kiss'd,
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean.

Milton.

But even here in the most peaceful part of the
Pacific, when angered by the fury of a heavy
squall, a diminutive storm agitates the waters into
foam-crested waves, which, for a short time at
least, impart to the ship an intoxicated gait. The
effect of sun, moon and starlight on the smooth,
undulating, heaving, billowing, tossing, storm-
beaten surface of the ocean, is marvelous. When
all is quiet, and the passenger is only conscious of
the vibratory movements imparted to the ship by
the ceaseless action of the faithful screw, and the
lights of heaven are veiled by a curtain of dark
clouds, the beautiful blue gives way to a sombre
black. When the tropic sun shines with all his




KING POMARE V.



OCEAN VOYAGE 19

force, the color of the water fairly vies with the
deep blue of the sky, and the nearer we approach
our destination, the tints of blue grow deeper and
deeper, until at last they are of perfect indigo.

The moon and starlight have a magic effect on
the surface of the water. The long evenings give
the passengers the exquisite pleasure of watching
the journey of the moon across the starlit heaven-
ly dome, growing, night after night, from a mere
sickle to her full majestic size, and of observing
the effects of the gradually increasing intensity of
the light issuing from the welcome visitor of the
night, on the glassy mirror of water beneath.
The star-bedecked pale dome of the tropic sky
is, in itself, a picture that rivets the attention of
the traveler who loves and studies the book of
nature. The short twilight over, "these blessed
candles of the night" (Shakespeare) are lighted,
and send their feeble light down upon the bosom
of the ocean.

If the sky is clear, the illuminating power of
the moon at its best, and the ocean calm, its
surface is transformed into a boundless sheet of
silver. This magic effect of moonlight on the
surface of the sleeping ocean is magnified by
passing fleecy, or dark, storm-threatening clouds.
The fleeting, fleecy clouds often veil, only in part,
the lovely, full face of the moon, and through
fissures, the rays of light issue, and, falling upon
the water, are reflected in the form of silvery



20 TAHITI — THE ISLAND PARADISE

patches or pathways, corresponding in size and
outline with the temporary window in the passing
cloud. It is when the moon is about to be hidden
behind a dark, impenetrable veil that the spec-
tator may expect to see the most wonderful dis-
play of pictures above and around him. As the
cloud approaches the moon, the blue background
deepens in color and brilliancy and when its dark
margin touches the rim of the moon it is changed
into a fringe of gold or silver ; with the disappear-
ance of the moon behind the cloud the fringe of
the latter is rudely torn away, the water beneath
is robbed of its carpet of silver, and the capti-
vated observer is made aware that the darkness
of night is upon him. But the gloom is of short
duration. A break in the cloud serves as a
window through which the moon peeps down,
with a most bewitching grace, upon the dark
surface beneath. The prelude to this exhibition
appears on the side of the temporary frame, in
the form of a silver lining which broadens with
the moving cloud ; now the rim of the moon
comes into view ; slowly, the veil is completely
thrown aside, and Luna's calm, pale, smiling, full
face makes its appearance, enclosed in a dark
frame with silver margins, while, more than
likely, she will be attended by a few brilliant
stars, thus completing the charms and beauty
of the picture suspended from the heavenly
dome. All genuine pleasures of this world are



OCEAN VOYAGE 21

of short duration ; so with this nocturnal picture
painted on the clouds and water. The silver rim
on one side of the frame of clouds disappears, the
dark margin increases in width, the moon is ob-
scured, and only a few flickering stars remain
fixed in the picture.

Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of
nature that overcomes our little anxieties and doubts :
the sight of the deep blue sky, and the clustering stars
above, seem to impart a quiet to the mind.

Jonathan Edwards.

In midocean is the place to view at greatest
advantage the gorgeous sunrise and sunset of the
tropics. To see the sun disappear in the distance,
where the dome of the sky seems to rest on the
bosom of the ocean, is a scene which no pen can
describe, and which no artist's brush has ever
reproduced in any degree comparable with the
grand reality. The canvas of the sky behind the
setting glowing orb, and the passing clouds in
front, above, and beneath it, are painted succes-
sively by the invisible brush in the unseen hands
of the departing artist in colors and shades of
colors that may well laugh to scorn any and all
attempts at description or reproduction. The
gilded horizon serves as a fitting background for
the retreating monarch of the day, and the slowly
moving canvas of clouds transmits his last mes-
sages in all the hues of red, crimson, pink, and
yellow. To observe this immense panorama



22 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

stretched from north to south, and projected
toward the east, resting on the silvery surface of
the rippHng ocean, with the ever-varying colors
of the slowly moving clouds, as seen evening
after evening on the Tahitian trip, leaves impres-
sions which time can not erase from memory.

Night on board the Mariposa has additional
attractions for the passengers who appreciate the
wonders and beauties of nature. When the night
is dark, they find a place in the stern of the ship,
lean against the taffrail, and watch the water
agitated into a diminutive storm by the powerful
screw. There one beholds a sight sufficiently at-
tractive and interesting to keep him spellbound
for an hour or more. The indolent, phosphores-
cent sea-amoeba has been roused into action by
the merciless revolutions of the motor of the ship,
and emits its diamond sparks of phosphorescent
light. Thousands of these little beings discharge
their magic light in the white veil of foam which
adorns the crests of the storm-beaten surface, in
the form of a narrow track as far as the eye can
reach in the darkness of the night. The flashes
of light thrown off by these minute, to the naked
eye invisible, inhabitants of the sea, when angered
by the rude action of the screw, appear and dis-
appear in the twinkling of an eye. When these
tiny, light-producing animals are numerous, as
is the case in the equatorial region, the snow-
white veil of foam is richly decorated with dia-




POMARE IV.
The Queen of the Story of Ariitaimai of Tahiti



OCEAN VOYAGE 23

mond sparks which, when they coalesce, form
flames of fire in the track of the vessel.

The ocean voyage has occasionally still another
surprise in store for the traveler when he reaches
the South Pacific. A squall is a tempest on a
small scale. We see in the distance a dark cloud
of immense size which seems to ride slowly over
the surface of the smooth sea. The gentle breeze
gives way to a strong wind, the surface of the
water becomes ruffled with whitecaps, the dark-
ness increases, and at irregular intervals the
threatening, angry cloud is lighted up by chains
of lightning thrown in all possible directions ;
these flashes are followed by peals of thunder, and
by prolonged rumbling, which becomes feebler
and feebler, and finally dies away far out on the
surface of the ocean. The steamer penetrates the


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryNicholas SennTahiti; the island paradise → online text (page 1 of 14)