FRENCH CIRCUMNAVIGATORS, I
Kraimokou, the minister, during a visit which he was paying on board the Uranie, had caught sight of the Abbé de Quelen, the chaplain, whose costume puzzled him a good deal. As soon as he had learned that the strangely dressed person was a priest, he expressed to the commandant a desire to receive baptism. His mother, he said, had been admitted to that sacrament upon her deathbed, and she had obtained from him a promise to submit himself to the same ceremony as soon as he met with a convenient opportunity. Freycinet gave his consent, and endeavoured to make the proceeding as solemn as possible, all the more because Rio Rio requested permission to be present at it with all his suite. Every one behaved with the utmost decorum and reverence while the ceremony was taking place; but immediately on its close there was a general rush to the collation which the commandant had ordered to be prepared. It was wonderful to see how rapidly the bottles of wine and the flasks of rum and of brandy were emptied, and to witness the speedy disappearance of the viands with which the table had been covered. Fortunately the day was coming to a close, or Rio Rio and the majority of his officers and courtiers would not have been in a condition to reach the shore. In spite of this, however, it was necessary to comply with his request for two additional bottles of brandy, that he might, as he said, drink the health of the commander and success to his voyage, a request which all his attendants felt bound in politeness to make likewise.
"It is not an over-statement," observes Freycinet, "to say that in the short space of two hours our distinguished guests drank and carried away what would have been sufficient to supply the wants of ten ordinary persons for three months." Several presents had been exchanged between the royal pair and the commander. Among those made by the young queen was a cloak of feathers, a kind of garment which had become exceedingly scarce in the Sandwich Islands.
Freycinet was about to set sail again, when he learnt from an American captain that a merchant-vessel was lying off the island of Miow, having a large quantity of biscuit and rice on board, which there was no doubt might be purchased. This information determined Freycinet to anchor first off Raheina, among other reasons, because it was there that Kraimokou had undertaken to deliver a number of pigs, which were required for the use of the crew. But the minister displayed signal bad faith in the transaction; he tendered miserably poor pigs, and demanded an extravagantly high price; so that it was necessary to have recourse to threats before the business could be satisfactorily arranged. In this matter Kraimokou was under the misguidance of an English runaway convict from Port Jackson, and most probably had the native been left to obey the promptings of his own nature he would have acted on this occasion with the good faith and the sense of honour which were his usual characteristics.
On reaching the island of Waihou, Freycinet dropped anchor off Honolulu. The hearty welcome he received from the European residents made him regret that he had not come here direct to begin with; for he was able without any delay to procure all the supplies which he had found so much difficulty in getting together at the two other islands. Boki, the governor of Waihou, received baptism from the chaplain of the Uranie. He was prompted apparently by no other motive than a wish to do as his brother had done, who had previously received this sacrament. He was far from having the air of intelligence common to the other natives of the various islands of the Sandwich group hitherto visited.
Many observations on these natives are made in the narrative of the expedition, which are too interesting to be passed over without a brief summary here. All navigators are agreed in considering that the class of chiefs belong to a race excelling the other inhabitants, both in intelligence and in stature. It is very unusual to find one who is less than six feet in height. Obesity is very common, but chiefly among the women, who while still quite young often become enormously corpulent. The Sandwich type is strongly marked and distinct. Pretty women are numerous; but the blessing of length of days is seldom enjoyed. An old man of seventy is a rare phenomenon. This early decline and premature death must be ascribed to the persistent dissipation in which the people pass their lives.
On leaving the Sandwich Islands, Freycinet found it necessary to notice carefully the curves of the magnetic equator in low latitudes. Accordingly, he crowded all sail in an easterly direction. On the 7th October the Uranie entered the southern hemisphere, and on the 19th of the same month the Dangerous Islands came in sight. To the eastward of the Navigators' archipelago, an island was discovered, not marked on the charts, which was named "Rose," after Madame Freycinet. This was the only actual discovery of the voyage.
The position of the islands of Pylstaart and Howe was next rectified, and on the 13th November the lights of Port Jackson, or Sydney, were at last sighted.