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Wallis, meanwhile, was unable to steer directly westward  'loosing as little Southing as possible' but he did keep well west of previous voyages, crossing the reputed location of Davis Land.

By the end of April, contrary winds and scurvy among the crew forced him northwards into warmer waters. He reached the Tuamotus on 6 June, and on 17 June encountered the first of the Society Islands (Mehetia). The next day saw his most significant discovery, Tahiti, where he anchored at Royal Bay, after grounding on a reef on the way in. The Dolphin stayed for five weeks while the sick recovered, although Wallis and his first lieutenant came down with 'a Bilious Disorder'. 

As a result, for most of the stay, Wallis was confined below deck, and though he did his best to respond to courtesies strenuous activity was out of the question. The ship was effectively in the hands of the master, George Robertson, and second lieutenant Tobias Furneaux,

While their first encounter with the local people was was peaceful, if thievish, relations moved through menaces into actual hostility. Blasts of grapeshot from the ship's cannon left many Tahitians dead and wounded. 

The outbreaks of violence thwarted Wallis's ambitions to avoid using of force, but once the initial disturbances were quelled, relations became more than merely amicable as the crew availed themselves of the sexual hospitality for which the island would become notorious. For a sex-starved seaman, the price tag of paradise was a nail. 

While Wallis's descriptions of Tahiti (as printed in Hawkesworth's Voyages of 1773) as a lush and fertile land with garlanded women eager to please were expurgated, exotic and erotic scenes of sexual licence were given more extreme detail when Bougainville, reached the island he named New Cythera after Aphrodite’s fabled dominion. As far as his naturalist was concerned, it was Utopia.

© Ian Hughes 2017