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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LFNOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

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CHAPTER XIV.

NEUTRAL TONGA.

The present condition of Tonga is a very satisfactory one; the soil, it is almost needless to add, is inexhaustibly fertile, and it is also industriously cultivated, and intersected by good roads. Tonga is a succession of gardens, and want, beggary, or squalor are unknown. All the people are clothed, all read and write, all are professed Christians. They still retain a good deal of their old Tongan pride, but are courteous to strangers.

The Government is a monarchy, the reigning King being George of Tonga, who is assisted by a Council, or Parliament. On each of the great islands there resides a governor.

These are men of intelligence who speak English, dress well, and live in imported houses of the European fashion. The Governor of Vavau in 1874 was named David--all the Tongans take great delight in scriptural, or English names. He was a man of huge stature and majestic presence, and looked very well in a handsome uniform he had made for him in Sydney, at a cost of about L200. A friend of mine told me the following

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VOL. II,

curious account of this personage with whom he stayed. David's house would be regarded in the Australian colonies as a fitting residence for any high official below the rank of a Viceroy. It is constructed of imported materials, all the interior panelled and polished; the furniture of every room being elegant and costly, and imported from New South Wales. In the centre of the building is a large dining hall with stained glass doors at either end, which is only used on state occasions. Here the table is laid with every requisite, fine linen, plate, and cut glass. The cook is a Chinaman, the butler a negro. A better, or more elegantly served dinner one would scarcely expect in Sydney: everything was in profusion, even to champagne and soda-water. This David, like all his colleagues, apes the manners of a British officer. One remark he made was very characteristic of the man. My friend perceived on a Sunday afternoon that he did not leave the house, although his people were all at church for the second time. He inquired the

reason, and the Governor replied, 'I have been this morning; too much church is not good. I have been told that English gentlemen do not go to church more than once a day. We got our religion and laws from the English. Why then should we not imitate their religious customs ?'

The religion referred to is that of the Protestant missionaries, and, of course, the established religion is Protestant; but toleration of all other creeds is the rule in Tonga, and no oppression of minorities is permitted. It is a far cry from Livadia to Tongatabu, but ‘Holy' Russia might take a lesson from

the 'savages' of the South Sea, and possibly be able to reduce her Polish garrisons.

The Tongan laws are generally just, and are very strictly enforced. The statutes are printed, and distinctly understood by all the people. There is a strong flavour of Sabbatarianism about some of the edicts, which of course indicates their origin; but it seems to me that it is far better for the Tongans to hold curiously strict notions as to how to conduct themselves on the first day of the week-or, as they would call it, in Jewish parlance, the Sabbath-than to strangle children in sacrifice to heathen deities.

The laws of Tonga forbid the sale of land to foreigners, but it is permitted to be leased on such liberal conditions and for so long a term as to be tantamount to an actual sale. All traders, planters, or permanent foreign residents not in the service of the Government, are obliged to take out a license. Spirits and some other articles pay a heavy duty. All the people contribute to the support of the state, the tax being on an adult male about six dollars per

annum.

All the great islands are traversed by broad roads laid out by a European engineer. They are formed and kept in repair by the labour of convicted criminals. There is an efficient police force, and for the defence of the country all able-bodied men are supplied with arms (i.e., a musket and bayonet), and are required to attend drill twice a week. The musketry instructors are generally Europeans of experience, and the other European servants of the Government, excluding those holding very high

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