Captain Duhaut-Cilly sailed from Le Havre on 8 April,1826 and sailed south through the Atlantic Ocean, stopping in Rio de Janeiro and around Cape Horn.
They traveled up the coast stopping at Callao, Mexico, and Alta California. Jean Baptiste Rives (1793–1833), the former secretary of the Kingdom of Hawaii, had convinced investors from the family of Jacques Laffitte to finance the voyage to promote trade to California and Hawaii, but Rives disappeared along with some of the cargo. After visiting the Hawaiian Islands they reached China on December 27, 1828.
In late July, 1829, the Heros returned to Le Havre.
Botta (see Footnote 12, below) was selected to be a naturalist on the voyage
and although he had no formal medical training, he also served as the ship
surgeon on Le Heros.
He wrote "Observations sur les habitans des îles Sandwich".
Nouvelles Annales des Voyages et des Sciences Geographiques.
(October–December 1831) 52: pp. 129–148.
... being patient
while awaiting the death of Kaahumanu, which they expected soon and believed
would deliver him from a feminine yoke (12)
She had on a dress of gray silk and wore a kerchief on her head in thr manner of our creoles.
Few imponant chiefs were there except for Kaou-noua, colonel commanding the troops, who had reached this high rank by marrying one of the princesses, but some women of the highest distinction were around her, all remarkable for their great height and their obesity.
Among them I noticed
a young woman of twenty to whom they gave the tide of princess.
Even at that age she had become so enormous that she could not walk without being helped.
She much resembled that huge seal, the sea elephant, which because of its great weight remains for week at a time in the same place, its soft body molding itself to the irregularities of the rock.*
These women and
these chiefs have more than one poinr of resemblance to the amphibian with
which I compare them.
Just as the seal, so heavy and apathetic on the rocks or on the beach, is endowed when back in the water with an astonishing suppleness and vivacity, so these men and women, quite lethargic on their mats, are the most skillful and intrepid swimmers.
We have often
seen them lying belly down on a board six feet long and fifteen inches
wide and waiting, more than a mile our from the village of Waikiki, for
the most powerful wave and then, with feet to the wave and head pointed
toward shore, swimming with hands and feet to keep the board always in
front of the wave, allow themsdves to be propelled in a few minutes and
with the speed of an arrow to the beach, where the wave dies out.
But if they perform this journey with ...
(Footnotes in reduced
12. Kaahumanu was queen regent from the departure of Liholiho in late 1823 until her own death in 1833.
Kauikeaouli reigned until his death in 1854.
Of Kaahumanu, Paul-Emile Botta, physician on board the Heros, wrote:
"The most influential person in the Islands, the one really rules them, is the old queen Kaahumanu, one of the wives of Kamehameha.
After being a vertitable Meessalina, this woman in her old age is trying to expiate her past sins in the fanaticism and bigotry inspired in her by the missionaries."
(Botta, Observations sur les habitans des Iles Sandwich, p. 144.)
*On my return,
reading the interesting voyage of J. Arago, I found that he makes
use of the same comparison.
[About Arago, see Editors' Introduction, p. xvi and note 5.]
speed and agility, they must exert even more skill when they wish to go
back and repeat the game, for then they must ovcrcome the speed and power
of all the succeeding waves, and in doing this they prove whether or not
they are good swimmers.
To accomplish the return they must plunge through each wave as it unfurls, swim strongly as soon as it has passed, then do the same with the next wave and the next until they have reached the last one.
Then they can let themselves be carried once more to the beach.
They employ canoes for the same game, but these must be handled with even more dexterity because the smallest paddle stroke done wrong is enough to turn them over.
When that happens the only consequence is that they are delivered over to the ridicule of their fellows whose laughter, so easily aroused, is then at its height.
pursued with equal skill by men and women, might be considered analogous
to our game of Russian mountain [roller-coaster] if they did not have another
that is much more similar.
Above the town of Honolulu there rises to a height of about two hundred meters an old volcanic crater covered with loose earth and grass; this is a truncated cone, hollow in the center and for that reason called by the English, in honor of a gentle custom, the Punch Bowl.
The last conqueror of the Sandwich Islands, Kamehameha I, caused to be dragged up there by hand several cannon of large caliber that can still be seen perched on the lava points along the side of the mountain almost like chamois on the ledges of Mont Blanc.
This wily and suspicious tyrant, using the pretext of defending the harbor entrance, thus constructed a fort from which he could, in case of a revolt, blow away the people of the town.
In the rainy season
when the land was damp and lush the sporting enthusiasts used to make use
of the grooved channels that run down the steep side of the mountain from
the summit to the plain below.
Lying face down on wooden sleds they let themselves slide down head first with a speed that may be judged by the angle of the slope, which is not less than fifty-five degrees.
Having reached the flat ground, they continued sliding for a long way, almost to the town before losing speed from the rapid descent.
I cannot claim to have witnessed this entertainment since it is for- ...
... bidden today
for a reason that I will give later, but it was described to me by persons
who had no reason to deceive and who could be trusted.
Moreover, it is no more astonishing than what used to be practiced on the Matterhorn, I think, before the strong mind of a man of genius determined the proper routes there and saw that they were adhered to.
The Chileans still make use of the same means to descend the cordillera of the Andes in the snow of winter with this difference: in the Alps they use a sled while in the Andes they slide on a cowhide.
University of California, Berkeley CA, 1999.