A Cruise In The Islands: Tonga, Samoa, Fiji
Fiji is the general name given to a group of islands lying between 15deg. and 20deg. south latitude, and between 177deg. west longitude and 178deg. east longitude. The number of islands, great and small, is variously estimated at from two hundred to two hundred and fifty; but this number includes many that are mere rocks, with little vegetation and no inhabitants. The largest island of the group, on the south shore of which the capital, Suva, is situated, is Viti Levu, that is, Big Fiji, with a surface of 4112 square miles. Next in point of size, and lying to the north of Viti Levu, comes Vanua Levu (Big Land), with an area of 2432 miles. These two in point of size far out-distance any other island of the group. The third in size is Taviuni, 217 square miles, lying close to Vanua Levu, on the east; and the fourth is Kandavu, 124 square miles, lying south of Viti Levu, from which it is separated by the Kandavu Channel. Roughly, the Fijis, like the Antilles, are divided into two groups, a Greater and a Lesser. The Greater includes Vanua Levu, Taviuni, Koro, Viti Levu, Ovalau, Mbau, and Kandavu; the Lesser, known as the Lau or Lakemba Group, lies much further to the east, and consists of a chain of very small islands and rocks, running north and south over some three degrees of latitude. Between the two groups is a great inland sea, called the Koro Sea. The chief island of the Lesser Fijis is Mango. Through the archipelago of small islands there are two passages into the Koro Sea; the Nanuka passage, towards the north, skirting Taviuni; and the Lakemba passage, dividing the group half way north and south.
Like New Zealand, the Fijis were discovered by Tas- page 25 man (1643), and re-discovered by Cook (1769); and they were sighted by Bligh on his voyage in the launch of the Bounty in 1789. The earliest European settlers were escaped convicts from Botany Bay, who preferred taking their chance amongst cannibal savages to facing again the miseries of convict life in New South Wales. By-and-bye occasional traders began to touch at the islands; and in 1835 two Wesleyan missionaries from Tonga took their lives in their hands, and ventured amongst the horrors of Fiji to bring Christianity to the natives. Probably no other country chat has been the theatre of missionary enterprise, can show such splendid results as Fiji. Up to the time when the first missionaries landed, the Natives of Fiji had the reputation, justly earned, of being the most atrociously blood-thirsty cannibals on earth. Every sort of horrible crime—cannibalism, infanticide, human sacrifice, suttee—was practised, partly out of pure ferocity, partly as a religious cult. In reading the early history of Fiji one sickens at the prominence given to the atrocious facts of cannibalism—the fattening, the clubbing, and the roasting of hecatombs of human beings. The pillars of a chief's house were erected each on a living human victim; his new canoes were launched over living human rollers; he was himself hurried to his grave before the breath had left his body, and might be heard coughing through the mould; his wives, of whom he had many, were strangled to line his grave, so that he might lie soft. The small, peaceful, and beautiful island of Mbau, lying near to Viti Levu, to the east, was the scene, as recently as the fifties, of murders and orgies beyond belief atrocious. Tanoa, father of the late King Thakombau, was then the ruling prince, and he was a most redoubtable man-eater. After a successful war expedition, he would return to Mbau, his canoes loaded with the carcasses of his enemies, and his yard-arms dangling the bodies of infants he had exacted as tribute from their parents. If, however, the royal larder could not be replenished with the spoils of war, then the king's purveyors had to go forth, lie in ambush by the mangrove swamps, and seize page 26 fishermen as they put out to fish, or companies of women as they came down to bathe. The braining-stone, on which the heads of victims were dashed, may be seen in Ovalau to this day, and trees recording by their notches the numbers sent to the ovens. Sometimes a chief kept count of his achievements in cannibalism by setting up a memorial stone for every body consumed : like the great Ra Undreundre, of Raki-Raki, whose tale of stones, in 1849, was 872, and that after many of the stones had been removed.
Thakombau himself, devotional and eloquent in prayer as he became in his later years, had distinguished himself as a cannibal, though he never reached the bad eminence of his father Tanoa. His initiation took place at the tender age of six, when he clubbed his first head, that of a lad somewhat his senior. When his miscreant of a father died, Thakombau began his reign with the ceremony of strangling his mother with his own hands. It was to such a hell on earth as Fiji was in those days that the first missionaries trusted their lives; and the change that was effected in a short time, mainly through their instrumentality, was wonderful. Cannibalism is now practically a thing of the past; though no doubt occasionally the imperfectly civilized hill-tribes may "return to their wallowing in the mire." The Fijians are now a quiet, kindly people, to some extent educated, attentive to the ordinances of religion, and strict sabbatarians.
Intestine troubles led Thakombau, the Chief whose influence then preponderated, to offer in 1859 the islands to Great Britain; but it was not until the 10th October, 1874, that Fiji became a British possession. Sir Arthur Gordon, the first Governor, arrived at Levuka in June 1875, and formally assumed the Government on the first of the following September. The island of Rotumah, lying about 150 miles north-west of the group, was annexed to the colony in 1881.
The climate of Fiji is tropical, though there is no great extreme of heat, the thermometer rarely rising in page 27 the hottest months above 94 deg. Fahrenheit, and rarely in cold weather falling below 60 deg. in the shade. A cool trade wind, E.N.E. to S.E., blows from April to November; but from November to March the colony is subject to occasional gales and hurricanes, sometimes of disastrous violence. The rainfall is very heavy, averaging about 100 inches on the coast.
The census of 1891 gave a return of 121,180 inhabitants : including 105,800 Native Fijians, 7468 Indian immigrants, 2219 Roturnans, 2267 Polynesian immigrants, 1076 half-castes, and 2036 Europeans. Of the Natives about 90 per cent, are Wesleyans, the rest being Catholics. A disastrous epidemic of measles broke out in 1875, and is estimated to have destroyed between 30,000 and 40,000 Natives.
British capital was first attracted to Fiji by the facilities it offered for the growth of Sea Island cotton. But with the rapid decline in the price of raw cotton this industry disappeared, giving place to the cultivation of sugar. In 1881 the Colonial Sugar-Refining Company determined to erect a sugar mill in the Rewa District; and at the present time there are eleven mills at work in the colony. Next in importance to sugar come the fruit and copra industries. Green fruits, chiefly bananas and pine-apples, are exported in large quantities to New Zealand and Australia. Bêche-de-mer, tea, pea-nuts, cotton, and tobacco are exported in smaller quantities.
The various kinds of agricultural labour are done by Fijians, Polynesians, and Indian coolies—but chiefly by these last. Polynesians are indentured for three years at a yearly wage of £3 to £6, exclusive of food and clothing. In addition to this the employer has to bear the cost of introducing the Polynesian, and of returning him to his home—about £20. The coolies are chiefly employed in the sugar industry, and are introduced under agreement to stay for ten years, being indentured for five years to their first employer, who also bears the cost of introduction. At the end of their time they are returned to India at the expense of Government. They are usually paid by the page 28 task, which enables them to earn about one shilling for six hours' work.
Fiji is a crown colony, the executive power being vested in a Governor and three official members—the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney-General, and the Receiver-General. The Legislature consists of six official and six non-official members, the latter appointed by the Crown. The colony is divided into sixteen provinces; four of these are administered by English commissioners, and the remaining twelve by Native chiefs, each of whom bears the title of Roko Tui of his province. The Governor of Fiji is also Her Majesty's High Commissioner and Consul-General for the Western Pacific. The present very capable Governor is Sir John Thurston, whose long residence in Fiji has given him exceptional opportunities of becoming thoroughly acquainted with the character of the people—their language, customs, and modes of thought.
In 1882 the seat of Government was removed from Levuka, in the island of Ovalau, to Suva, on the southeast shore of Viti Levu.
What the visitor can see of interest in Fiji will depend entirely on the length of time he has to spend there. If he has a month or two, his best plan is to make the trip with the inter-island steamer Maori, when that vessel goes on one of her periodic rounds to various points on the coasts of different islands. As the Maori sails for the most part inside the reef in still water, there is little exposure to the unpleasant vicissitudes of open-sea sailing. Various walking or riding trips also may be arranged into the interior of Viti Levu, where, in the inland villages, Native life of a more primitive type may be seen than it is possible now to see in the coast settlements where Europeans abound.
But for the visitor who makes the round trip and has only a few days to spend in Fiji, there are a few "lions" which he is bound to see. First of all, there is the capital (Suva), not an imposing city considered as a metropolis, but pretty in its own scattered way, and delightfully situated on a hill that slopes down to one of the most page 29 beautiful of bays. In the distant background rises an amphitheatre of bold mountains, less soft in their outline, and in a way less beautiful, than the Samoan ranges, but grander and more impressive. To the west a curious conical mountain crag stands fantastically out from the general range, and has been not unfitly named "The Devil's Thumb." The public buildings of Suva are not of an imposing kind. The Governor's residence, the Government buildings, and an esplanade of shops fronting the water are the chief buildings that catch the eye; but there are many attractive and comfortable villas dotted over the hill, each nestling in its own grove of tropical vegetation. The pleasant walks in and around Suva are numerous. By walking up and along the hill for a mile or two you may command beautiful and extensive views: of the lovely bay on the one side, as you look towards the island of M'benga, whose inhabitants are said to possess the singular and useless power of walking, with impunity, barefoot over red-hot stones; on the other, of the back country behind Suva, towards the Rewa River. A walk of four hours brings one to the junction of the Waimanu and Rewa Rivers, within easy distance of the Colonial Sugar Company's large mill. If bushing be preferred, it is perhaps best to explore one of the rivers or creeks that fall into the harbour. An excursion in any direction soon brings one into the midst of the rich and wonderful vegetation for which these islands are remarkable.
Reefing is another infinite source of amusement in all the Fiji islands. Reefing may be of two kinds, according as you pursue it in a boat or on foot. In either case the reefer must be careful to wear shoes, a wound from the jagged coral being painful, and difficult to heal. The best shoes for the purpose are those made of light canvas, with gutta-percha soles, which take a firm grip of the coral surface. Stockings must also be worn, otherwise the coral grit gets into the shoes and is very painful to the feet.
In passing over a reef in a flat-bottomed boat, the chief enjoyment consists in looking down through the clear water into the coral gardens below, alive with fishes of a page 30 beauty inconceivable to those who have not seen them. Some of these have the gaudy colouring of parrots—greens, blues, yellows, and reds : some are striped like zebras: some are brilliant flashes of sapphire and emerald.
The best amusement, however, is to wade the reef. A Fiji reef is a rich pasture-ground for the naturalist, the quaint monstrosity of the various crabs being in itself an endless source of interest to those who find pleasure in watching the animal life of the sea-shore. Every little pool is an aquarium full of pretty or curious marine creatures—fishes, crabs, shells, or sea-anemones. Most interesting of all it is to get out to the weather side of the reef where the waves break in upon its outer wall, and the clear green water swirls into the cracks and fissures that here and there break the surface like crevasses on a glacier. Here may be seen many species of living coral, as well as their beautifully bleached or tinted skeletons—the branched stag-horn, the curiously chased and convoluted brain-coral, the fluted crimson organ-coral, and others. The desire to appropriate these submarine treasures will be strong; but no one who has once seen coral where it ought to be—blooming on its native reef in a fathom of Pacific water—can ever afterwards value it as a cabinet curio.
Either at Suva, or at some other centre of Native life, the visitor to Fiji must contrive to see the national dance of the Fijians, or meke-meke, as it is called. The exact ethnological place of the Fijians is a disputed point, but their physical characteristics would seem to connect them with the Papuans. They are tall, muscular, handsome, and full of dignity; the face, however, lacking the softness of complexion and expression so noticeable in that of the Tongan and Samoan. The most singular feature about the Fijian is his hair, which is stiff and crisp, and stands up on his head in an enormous mop, adding considerably to his height and to the formidable character of his appearance. It may be supposed that the national dances of such a people are interesting and impressive. The meke-meke is page 31 really the Fijian's one fine art: it stands to him for opera and drama, and the best artists are in considerable repute. When an important meke is coming off—to celebrate, for instance, the visit of a great chief—the preparations and rehearsals go on for a considerable time. Most' of the mekes danced by the Fijians on special occasions are dramatic in character—representing incidents in war, or some striking fact in nature, such as the dashing of the surf on the reef, the flight of the flying-fox, and so on. In the ordinary meke, however, which the casual visitor is likely to see, the dance is a series of unmeaning rhythmical motions, to the accompaniments of chants and the beating of a wooden drum. "The Fijian meke is a terpsichorean performance, not exactly identical with a Maori haka, but conceived, so to speak, on the same lines. Imagine a line of copper-tinted savages two deep, their abundant frizzy hair dressed in mop or besom pattern, and decked with leaves and flowers, black and red stripes across their faces, a waistband round their loins, their supple limbs glossy with coco-nut oil. Some display necklaces of shells or whales' teeth; others have bangles, bracelets, mittens or anklets of beads and minute shells broidered upon a net-work of plaited fibre and black water-weed. These are the dancers; behind them is grouped an orchestra of old men and boys, with a drummer in the middle. The drum is a hollow cylinder of wood, which is struck smartly by a pair of sticks. It is fairly resonant, producing a sound not unlike that of a tambourine or shallow kettle-drum. The drummer begins marking what musicians call common time, four crotchets in a bar, or perhaps two-four time, the second crotchet being divided into two quavers. After a bar or two the singers come in with a sort of harmonised recitative; the dancers swing their arms, bringing the palms together with heavy-sounding claps, their bodies sway to and fro, and then all at once they are off. A violent swoop to the left, another to the right, bringing the hands nearly to the ground; a spring backwards, then forwards; more swooping; mowing motions, kicking motions; a swift gyration; a drop on to page 32 the haunches; a leap into the air; the head lolling on the left shoulder, then on the right; the head between the legs; repeated lunges with the fists; more springing, swooping, spinning, till the figure ends with a resounding clap all along the line. Dead pause of a minute; then the tomtom starts again, the singers follow, and so da capo."
Closely associated with the dancing of the Fijians is their drinking of yangona, as kava is called amongst them. The manner of preparing the beverage is much the same as that in Samoa and Tonga; it is said that only in certain parts of Fiji survives the primitive custom of grinding the root by mastication.
The regulation trip from Suva is that up the Rewa River as far as the Sugar Company's mill at Nausori, which wonderful scene of life and industry is usually the terminus of the trip. The Rewa, the largest river in Fiji, is formed by the junction of the Wai ni Buka and the Wai ni Mala, and drains the eastern half of Viti Levu. For twenty-five miles from its mouth it is in many places about two hundred yards wide, and it is navigable by vessels of light draught for a distance of fifty miles. A steamer runs daily trips from Suva up the Rewa river as far as Nausori, and here, on the side of the river opposite the Sugar Mills, a comfortable hotel has been built for the accommodation of visitors.
Those of the Company's steamers that touch at Suva usually make one or more trips to Levuka, the former capital of Fiji, which lies on the east shore of the neighbouring island of Ovalau. The distance from Suva to Levuka is fifty-four miles, and the passage occupies about six hours. In point of natural position Levuka is a more beautiful town even than Suva. It occupies the shore of a semi-circular bay something like that of Apia. Behind the town, which consists for the most part of a line of houses, extending for a mile or more along the beach, rises a range of hills, cropping out on the top in bold crags, and seamed with deep and densely wooded gorges. The picturesque ruggedness of its mountains and the beauty of its harbour and reef make Levuka a singularly attractive spot. "The rich blue of the harbour," says Miss Gordon Cumming,"is separated from the purplish indigo of the great ocean by a submarine rainbow of indescribable loveliness. This is caused by the coral reef, which produces a gleaming ray as if from a hidden prism. The patches of coral, sea-weed, and sometimes white sand, lying at irregular depths, beneath a shallow covering of the most crystalline emerald-green water, produce every shade of aqua-marine, mauve, sienna, and orange, all marvellously blended. The shades are continually varying with the ebb and flow of the tide, which at high water covers the reef to the depth of several page 34 feet, while, at low tide, patches here and there stand high and dry, or are covered with only a few inches of water; treacherous ground, however, on which to land, as the sharp coral spikes break under the feet, cutting the thickest leather, and perhaps landing you in a hole several feet in depth, with still sharper coral down below. The highest edge of the reef lies towards the ocean, and a line of dazzling white surf marks where the great green breakers wage their ceaseless warfare on the barrier; but the passage through the reef is plainly marked by a break in the white line, and a broad roadway of deep blue connecting the inner waters with the great deep; and this again passes in gradual gradations of colour, from the intense blue of the harbour to the glittering green of the shallow water on the inner side of the reef. Altogether it is most fascinating. The scene is loveliest at noon, when the sun is overhead, and lights up the colours beneath the water in the coral caves."
There are several interesting walks in the neighbourhood of Levuka. The Turret Rock behind the town will afford excellent climbing to those fond of the exercise, and will reward the climber with an extensive view when he gets to the top. Perhaps the favourite walk is that to "Commodore Goodenough's Bath"—a waterfall and pool on the hillside, about two miles from Levuka. The road lies along the beach past Vagadace, and by a Native settlement, where the ovens and killing-stones of the bad old times may still be seen. The road, on leaving the beach, passes up a valley, and crosses a stream by stepping stones, thence folio wing the right bank to the bathing place. A steep ascent of steps cut in the slippery rock leads to the pool, of which Commodore Goodenough remarked that it was "the most picturesque spot in which he had ever bathed." The most frequented bath in the town of Levuka is a large artificial hole in the creek that enters the harbour by Totonga, the Native town of Levuka. It is about ten minutes walk from the principal hotel, and is much used by residents for a plunge before breakfast. Other points of interest in or near Ovalau are the cemetery at Diaiba, page 35 two miles south of Levuka, the romantic Valley of Levoni at the west side of the island, and the island of Moturiki, between Ovalau and Viti Levu.
Visitors who spend any considerable time in Fiji should not omit to visit Mbau, the small island that lies near the north mouth of the Rewa, close to the mainland of Viti Levu. Mbau is a small island, but it is the very hub of all that is high-bred and aristocratic in Native Fijian life. Its chiefs are the creme tie la creme, and even a commoner of Mbau has elsewhere a kind of nobility by virtue of his place of birth. The language of Mbau is the classical language and lingua franca of the group, for whatever be his native dialect, every Fijian, who is anybody, is bound to understand Mbau. This island was the birthplace and residence of Thakombau, and of his father Tanoa, of atrocious memory; and it is probable that no other island of equal size on the face of the globe can show a record of human fiendishness to surpass that of this now smiling plot of ground. In other parts of Fiji victims were brained before they were cooked, but Tanoa s victims had first to build ovens for themselves, and then arrange themselves therein in a convenient posture for roasting.
There are many points along the shores of Vanua Levu that are worth visiting, but the most interesting is the beautiful bay of Savu-Savu, on the south coast, distant from Levuka about ninety miles. This harbour is completely locked in with hills, and is an archipelago of wooded islands. The hills that form the background to the bay vary in height from 700 to 3000 feet. Between the semicircle of hills and the water, is a belt of level land, varying in breadth from one to five miles, and covered with vegetation of the most luxuriant kind. Savu-Savu has a special interest on account of the hot springs in its neighbourhood. These springs, which lie on the east side of the harbour, near Savu-Savu headland, reach boiling point, and the Natives regularly make use of them for cooking their food. The water is strongly impregnated with mineral salts, chiefly chlorides of calcium and sodium.
Taviuni, the third island in point of size, lies to the page 36 east of Vanua Levu, from which it is separated by the Somo-Somo Strait. This island is so beautiful, and so varied and rich in its vegetation, that it has been styled "The Garden of Fiji." Like the other islands of the group, Taviuni is mountainous.. On the summit of the ridge, at a height of some 2500 feet, there is a lake, occupying what is probably the crater of an extinct volcano. The waters of the lake, which is about three miles long by one and a half wide, break over a lip on the western side, and find their way into the sea at Somo-Somo, the capital of the island. Taviuni has many thriving plantations, some of which possess valuable herds of cattle. The staple product of the Taviuni plantations is sugar, but a considerable amount of coffee is also grown. Near the landing place at Vuna, off which the Union Company's steamers lie when they visit Taviuni, are the sugar mill and extensive plantations of Holmhurst, the property of the Bank of New Zealand Estates Company.
Some thirty-five miles south-west of Taviuni, and in the direct route from Levuka to Vuna Point is the island of Koro, of which Mr Cooper says :—"To my mind some of the coast walks in the island of Koro are the most beautiful in the wide Pacific. In no other island did I observe such a continuation of exquisite creepers, forming a latticework of floral beauty through which could be seen the blue sea, and in no other island did I see such perfect flower gardens cultivated by man."
Of the Lau or Lakemba group—the Lesser Fijis, to the east of the Koro sea—the most interesting and important is Mango, lying about ten hours' sail to the south-east of Taviuni. Mango is a volcanic island, almost circular in shape, surrounded by a coral reef, and possessing a good road-stead, well protected from the prevailing south-east trade-winds. Round the curve of the island to the eastward, there is a land-locked lagoon. In rowing from the ship to the lagoon the boat proceeds "over coral ledges all the way, with two or three feet of pellucid water under the keel. Precipitous cliffs, page 37 draped with dense foliage, line the shore. After two or three miles of stiffish pulling against a tide running strong over the coral, a perpendicular slit opens in the cliff, the boat shoots through, oars grazing the rocks on each side, and you are in the most wonderful fairy harbour, with deep blue water, gleaming in the morning sun like a mirror, or reflecting the shadows of the high-encircling forest-clad shores...... A cutting through the rock, down which a tramline runs to a little wharf, conducts to the interior of the island. You follow the rails, and presently are amongst the Mango orange groves." In the days when cotton paid for the growing, Mango cotton was famous. The island is now famous for its sugar crops, and grows besides, in greater or less quantity, coffee, tobacco, ginger, cinnamon, breadfruit, bananas, coco-nuts, maize, and so on. Cattle and sheep thrive in Mango, and the Angora goat has been introduced. Just to the right of the steamer's anchorage is to be seen a cave where the Fijians took refuge when Mango Island was attacked and taken by the Tongans under Maafu some years ago.
Kandavu, the fourth in size of the Fijis, lies south of Viti Levu. It is a mountainous island some twenty-five miles in length, and is densely timbered. Kandavu was at one time the place of call for the San Francisco mail steamers, but it is not now much visited by visitors to Fiji. Its western extremity, however—Buke Levu,' or Mount Washington—rising sheer out of the sea to a height of nearly three thousand feet, is the first outpost of Fiji visible to those who approach the islands from the south. The Fijians get a large proportion of their best canoes from Kandavu.
Fiji is singularly rich and varied in its vegetation. Besides the magnificent palm and the banana, commercially so valuable to Fiji, there is a large flora, rich in forest trees and in ferns. Fine flowering plants do not occur in abundance, but there is a large variety page 38 of fruit trees, either native or imported. Oranges and pine-apples are very plentiful and very fine. The papaw (Carica papaya)—or, as it is more generally called, the mummy apple—is a striking plant, reminding one of a gigantic mallow. Its apples are very palatable as fruit, and, when cooked, make an excellent substitute for vegetable marrow. The granadilla (Passijiora quadrancfularis) is a gigantic and improved passion fruit. The wi (Sponias dulcis) is a juicy yellow fruit of a pleasantly acid flavour. Guavas, melons, pomegranates, mulberries, custardapples, mangos, and alligator pears are among the fruits common in these fertile islands.
The chief timber-tree is a Native kauri (Dammara Vitiensis), a near relative of the New Zealand kauri. The tavola (Terminalia catappa) is a spreading deciduous tree, which provides the most resonant timber for the lali, or Native drum. Another large tree, the dilo (Calophyllum inophijilumj) furnishes the "Tacamahaca" oil of commerce. The noko-noko, or ironwood (Casuarina equiseti-folia) is a graceful tree very abundant in Fiji and Tonga. It is a sheoak, very similar to species found in Australia. Perhaps the most interesting of all the trees native to Fiji is the ivi or "Polynesian chestnut" (Lnocarpus edulis). In size and general appearance it resembles an English elm, but its trunk is very regularly and curiously buttressed, so that a section resembles the hub and spokes of a cartwheel. It produces a valuable nut, largely used for food. The kava or yangona tree (Piper methysticum) is grown for its root, which, when dried and pounded, gives the favourite beverage of these islands. Masi (Broussonetia papyrifera) or paper mulberry, as it is called, is an important tree in Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, its bark being beaten out into the native cloth or tappa so much used in the islands. The vau, or lemon hibiscus (Hibiscm tiliaceus) is also a serviceable plant, the fibre being used for kava strainers. Of all the flowering plants that grow in these islands this is one of the most abundant, and is, perhaps, the most beautiful: its lovely large lemon cup is seen everywhere. The bread- page break page 39 fruit tree (Artoccirpus incisa) is one of the noblest trees in the world—from its handsome outline, large lobed leaves, and striking cone-like fruits. This tree is the true staff of life of the Pacific. Most grotesque of trees is the screw-pine (Pandanus ndoratissimus), to be found growing over all these islands. It is easily know by its candelabra shape, by the spiral growth of its shoots, and most unmistakably by the curious slanting props which it sends down from its stem into the ground. It bears a large fruit, which on examination proves to be an agglomeration of conical drupes of a brilliant orange-scarlet colour; these are much used by the Natives in making necklaces and cissies. The long leaves of this tree make the best thatch in the world. The pandanus is the first fruit-bearing tree that springs up on newly-formed atolls.
Fiji, like New Zealand, is particularly rich in ferns. Most of the genera are represented, and some of the most delicate and beautiful species in the world are found here. The davallias are perhaps the most numerously represented family, numbering over thirty species. The trichomanes number over a dozen, and polypodies, aspleniums, and neplirodiums are found in great variety. Taviuni is said to be the richest ferning ground in the Fijis.
Of the fauna of Fiji, next to the teeming and curious population of the reef, the most singular creature is perhaps the flying-fox. This great bat, whose head is an exact miniature of that of a fox, measures, on the average, two feet and a half from tip to tip of the wings. It is common to the three groups, but is particularly plentiful in Fiji, where it commits great havoc on the fruit. In their moments of ease these bats may be seen in numbers hanging by their hooked claws to the branches of trees. On the wing the flying-fox sails somewhat lazily through the air, and might then be mistaken for a large crow. There are several varieties of pigeon in Fiji page 40 that afford good shooting; and graceful crested herons, white or grey, may be seen wading in the shallows of the reef.