Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands
Charles Nordhoff

Part 1 out of 6

Produced by Ronald Holder and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

[Transcriber's Notes: The following words are noted as having changed
between the publication of this book and the year 2004: 'Nuuanu
Valley', versus 'Nuanu'; 'lei', vs. 'le' for a flower garland; 'holoku'
vs. 'holaku' for a Hawaiian black dress; 'Wailua', vs. 'Waialua';
'Kealakekua Bay' vs. 'Kealakeakua'; 'Kahului' vs. 'Kaului'; 'kuleana'
vs. 'kuliana' for a small land-holding; 'kulolo' vs. 'kuulaau' for a
taro pudding; 'piele' vs. 'paalolo' for a sweet-potato and coconut
pudding; 'Koa' trees vs. 'Ko'; 'Sausalito' vs. 'Soucelito'; 'Klickitat',
vs. 'Klikatat'; and 'Mount Rainier' vs. 'Mount Regnier'.

Also, in chapter 1, the author mis-stated information on taro fields;
it should say that a square forty feet on each side will support a
person for a year; this is equivalent to a square mile feeding 15,000.

An explanation of footnotes in the Appendix: The book has both footnotes
at the bottom of each page, to which I assigned letters, and four pages
of notes at the end of the Appendix. The latter includes comments by
the translator in brackets, therefore these notes, which use numbers,
will not be enclosed in the normal [Footnote: ] brackets to avoid any
confusion. The lettered footnotes follow the numbered notes at the













Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.





The favor with which my previous volume on California was received by the
public induced me to prepare the present volume, which concerns itself,
as the title sufficiently shows, with the northern parts of California,
Oregon (including a journey through Washington Territory to Victoria, in
Vancouver's Island), and the Sandwich Islands.

I have endeavored, as before, to give plain and circumstantial details,
such as would interest and be of use to travelers for pleasure or
information, and enable the reader to judge of the climate, scenery,
and natural resources of the regions I visited; to give, in short, such
information as I myself would like to have had in my possession before
I made the journey.

Since this book went to press, Lunalilo, the King of the Sandwich Islands,
has died of rapid consumption; and his successor is the Hon. David
Kalakaua, a native chief, who has been prominent in the political affairs
of the Islands, and was the rival of the late king after the death of
Kamehameha V. Colonel Kalakaua is a man of education, of better physical
stamina than the late king, of good habits, vigorous will, and a strong
determination to maintain the independence of the Islands, in which he is
supported by the people, who are of like mind with him on this point. His
portrait is given on the next leaf.

[Illustration: KING KALAKAUA.]
















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The Hawaiian group consists, as you will see on the map, of eleven
islands, of which Hawaii is the largest and Molokini the smallest. The
islands together contain about 6000 square miles; and Hawaii alone has an
area of nearly 4000 square miles, Maui 620, Oahu (which contains Honolulu,
the capital) 530, and Kauai 500. Lanai, Kahoolawe, Molokai, Niihau,
Kaula, Lehua, and Molokini are small islands. All are of volcanic
origin, mountainous, and Hawaii contains the largest active crater in the
world--Kilauea--one of the craters of Mauna Loa; while Maui contains
the largest known extinct crater, Haleakala, the House of the Sun--a pit
thirty miles in circumference and two thousand feet deep. Mauna Loa and
Mauna Kea are nearly 14,000 feet high, as high as Mount Grey in Colorado;
and you can not ride anywhere in the islands without seeing extinct
craters, of which the hill called Diamond Head, near Honolulu, is an


The voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu is now very comfortably made in
one of the Pacific Mail Company's steamers, which plies regularly between
the two ports, and makes a round trip once in every month. The voyage down
to the Islands lasts from eight to nine days, and even to persons subject
to sea-sickness is likely to be an enjoyable sea-journey, because after
the second day the weather is charmingly warm, the breezes usually mild,
and the skies sunny and clear. In forty-eight hours after you leave
the Golden Gate, shawls, overcoats, and wraps are discarded. You put on
thinner clothing. After breakfast you will like to spread rugs on deck
and lie in the sun, fanned by deliciously soft winds; and before you see
Honolulu you will, even in winter, like to have an awning spread over you
to keep off the sun. When they seek a tropical climate, our brethren on
the Pacific coast have to endure no such rough voyage as that across
the Atlantic. On the way you see flying-fish, and if you are lucky an
occasional whale or a school of porpoises, but no ships. It is one of the
loneliest of ocean tracks, for sailing-vessels usually steer farther north
to catch stronger gales. But you sail over the lovely blue of the Pacific
Ocean, which has not only softer gales but even a different shade of color
than the fierce Atlantic.

We made the land at daylight on the tenth day of the voyage, and by
breakfast-time were steaming through the Molokai Channel, with the high,
rugged, and bare volcanic cliffs of Oahu close aboard, the surf beating
vehemently against the shore. An hour later we rounded Diamond Head, and
sailing past Waikiki, which is the Long Branch of Honolulu charmingly
placed amidst groves of cocoa-nut-trees, turned sharp about, and steamed
through a narrow channel into the landlocked little harbor of Honolulu,
smooth as a mill-pond.

It is not until you are almost within the harbor that you get a fair view
of the city, which lies embowered in palms and fine tamarind-trees, with
the tall fronds of the banana peering above the low-roofed houses; and
thus the tropics come after all somewhat suddenly upon you; for the
land which you have skirted all the morning is by no means tropical in
appearance, and the cocoa-nut groves of Waikiki will disappoint you on
their first and too distant view, which gives them the insignificant
appearance of tall reeds. But your first view of Honolulu, that from the
ship's deck, is one of the pleasantest you can get: it is a view of gray
house-tops, hidden in luxuriant green, with a background of volcanic
mountains three or four thousand feet high, and an immediate foreground of
smooth harbor, gay with man-of-war boats, native canoes and flags, and
the wharf, with ladies in carriages, and native fruit-venders in what will
seem to you brightly colored night-gowns, eager to sell you a feast of
bananas and oranges.

There are several other fine views of Honolulu, especially that from the
lovely Nuanu Valley, looking seaward over the town, and one from the roof
of the prison, which edifice, clean, roomy, and in the day-time empty
because the convicts are sent out to labor on public works and roads, has
one of the finest situations in the town's limits, directly facing the
Nuanu Valley.

From the steamer you proceed to a surprisingly excellent hotel, which was
built at a cost of about $120,000, and is owned by the government.
You will find it a large building, affording all the conveniences of a
first-class hotel in any part of the world. It is built of a concrete
stone made on the spot, of which also the new Parliament House is
composed; and as it has roomy, well-shaded court-yards and deep, cool
piazzas, and breezy halls and good rooms, and baths and gas, and a
billiard-room, you might imagine yourself in San Francisco, were it not
that you drive in under the shade of cocoa-nut, tamarind, guava, and
algeroba trees, and find all the doors and windows open in midwinter; and
ladies and children in white sitting on the piazzas.


It is told in Honolulu that the building of this hotel cost two of the
late king's cabinet, Mr. Harris and Dr. Smith, their places. The Hawaiian
people are economical, and not very enterprising; they dislike debt, and
a considerable part of the Hawaiian national debt was contracted to build
this hotel. You will feel sorry for Messrs. Harris and Smith, who were for
many years two of the ablest members of the Hawaiian cabinet, but you will
feel grateful for their enterprise also, when you hear that before this
hotel was completed--that is to say, until 1871--a stranger landing in
Honolulu had either to throw himself on the hospitality of the citizens,
take his lodgings in the Sailors' Home, or go back to his ship. It is not
often that cabinet ministers fall in so good a cause, or incur the public
displeasure for an act which adds so much to the comfort of mankind.

The mercury ranges between 68 deg. and 81 deg. in the winter months and
between 75 deg. and 86 deg. during the summer, in Honolulu. The mornings are
often a little overcast until about half-past nine, when it clears
away bright. The hottest part of the day is before noon. The
trade-wind usually blows, and when it does it is always cool; with a
south wind; it is sometimes sultry, though the heat is never nearly so
oppressive as in July and August in New York. In fact, a New Yorker
whom I met in the Islands in August congratulated himself as much on
having escaped the New York summer as others did on having avoided the

The nights are cool enough for sound rest, but not cold.

It is not by any means a torrid climate, and it has, perhaps, the
fewest daily extremes of any pleasant climate in the world. For
instance, the mercury ranged in January between 69 deg. at 7 A.M., 75-1/2 deg.
at 2 P.M., and 71-1/2 deg. at 10 P.M. The highest temperature in that month
was 78 deg., and the lowest 68 deg.. December and January are usually the
coolest months in the year at Honolulu, but the variation is extremely
slight for the whole year, the maximum of the warmest day in July
(still at Honolulu) being only 86 deg., and this at noon, and the lowest
mark being 62 deg., in the early morning in December. A friend of mine
resident during twenty years in the Islands has never had a blanket in
his house.

It is said that the climate is an excellent one for consumptives, and
physicians here point to numerous instances of the kindly and healing
effect of the mild air. At the same time, I suspect it must in the
long-run be a little debilitating to Americans. It is a charming climate
for children; and as sea-bathing is possible and pleasant at all times,
those who derive benefit from this may here enjoy it to the fullest extent
during all the winter months as well as in the summer.

Of course you wear thin, but not the thinnest, clothing. White is
appropriate to the climate; but summer flannels are comfortable in winter.
The air is never as sultry as in New York in July or August, and the
heat is by no means oppressive, there being almost always a fresh breeze.
Honolulu has the reputation of being the hottest place on the islands,
and a walk through its streets at midday quickly tires one; but in a
mountainous country like this you may choose your temperature, of course.
The summits of the highest peaks on Hawaii are covered with almost
perpetual snow; and there are sugar planters who might sit around a fire
every night in the year.

Unlike California, the Islands have no special rainy season, though
rain is more abundant in winter than during the summer months. But the
trade-wind, which is also the rain-wind, greatly controls the rain-fall;
and it is useful for visitors to bear in mind that on the weather side
of every one of the Islands--that side exposed to the wind--rains are
frequent, while on the lee side the rain-fall is much less, and in some
places there is scarcely any. Thus an invalid may get at will either a dry
or moist climate, and this often by moving but a few miles. Not only is
it true that at Hilo it sometimes rains for a month at a time, while at
Lahaina they have a shower only about once in eighteen months; but you may
_see_ it rain every day from the hotel piazza in Honolulu, though you get
not a drop in the city itself; for in the Nuanu and Manoa valleys there
are showers every day in the year--the droppings of fragments of clouds
which have been blown over the mountain summits; and if you cross the Pali
to go the windward side of the island, though you set out from Honolulu
amidst brilliant sunshine which will endure there all day unchanged, you
will not ride three miles without needing a mackintosh. But the residents,
knowing that during the greater part of the year the showers are light and
of brief duration, take no precautions against them; and indeed an island
shower seems to be harmless to any one but an invalid, for it is not a
climate in which one easily "takes cold."

The very slight changes in temperature between day and night make the
climate agreeable, and I think useful, to persons in tender health. But I
do not believe it can be safely recommended for all cases of consumption.
If the patient has the disease fully developed, and if it has been
caused by lack of nutrition, I should think the island air likely to be
insufficiently bracing. For persons who have "weak lungs" merely, but no
actual disease, it is probably a good and perfectly safe climate; and if
sea-bathing is part of your physician's prescription, it can, as I said
before, be enjoyed in perfection here by the tenderest body all the year


Honolulu, being the capital of the kingdom, contains the government
offices; and you will perhaps be surprised, as I was, to find an excellent
public hospital, a reform school, and other proper and well-managed
charities. When you have visited these and some of the numerous schools
and the native churches, and have driven or ridden to Waikiki for a
sea-bath, and have seen the Nuanu Valley and the precipice called the
Pali, if you are American, and familiar with New England, it will be
revealed to you that the reason why all the country looks so familiar
to you is that it is really a very accurate reproduction of New
England country scenery. The white frame houses with green blinds, the
picket-fences whitewashed until they shine, the stone walls, the small
barns, the scanty pastures, the little white frame churches scattered
about, the narrow "front yards," the frequent school-houses, usually with
but little shade: all are New England, genuine and unadulterated; and
you have only to eliminate the palms, the bananas, and other tropical
vegetation, to have before you a fine bit of Vermont or the stonier parts
of Massachusetts. The whole scene has no more breadth nor freedom about it
than a petty New England village, but it is just as neat, trim, orderly,
and silent also. There is even the same propensity to put all the
household affairs under one roof which was born of a severe climate in
Massachusetts, but has been brought over to these milder suns by the
incorrigible Puritans who founded this bit of civilization.


In fact, the missionaries have left an indelible mark upon these islands.
You do not need to look deep to know that they were men of force, men of
the same kind as they who have left an equally deep impress upon so large
a part of our Western States; men and women who had formed their own lives
according to certain fixed and immutable rules, who knew no better country
than New England, nor any better ways than New England ways, and to
whom it never occurred to think that what was good and sufficient in
Massachusetts was not equally good and fit in any part of the world.
Patiently, and somewhat rigorously, no doubt, they sought from the
beginning to make New England men and women of these Hawaiians; and what
is wonderful is that, to a large extent, they have succeeded.

As you ride about the suburbs of Honolulu, and later as you travel about
the islands, more and more you will be impressed with a feeling of respect
and admiration for the missionaries. Whatever of material prosperity has
grown up here is built on their work, and could not have existed but for
their preceding labors; and you see in the spirit of the people, in their
often quaint habits, in their universal education, in all that makes these
islands peculiar and what they are, the marks of the Puritans who came
here but fifty years ago to civilize a savage nation, and have done their
work so thoroughly that, even though the Hawaiian people became extinct,
it would require a century to obliterate the way-marks of that handful of
determined New England men and women.

[Illustration: COURT-HOUSE, HONOLULU.]

Their patient and effective labors seem to me, now that I have seen the
results, to have been singularly undervalued at home. No intelligent
American can visit the islands and remain there even a month, without
feeling proud that the civilization which has here been created in so
marvelously short a time was the work of his country men and women; and if
you make the acquaintance of the older missionary families, you will not
leave them without deep personal esteem for their characters, as well as
admiration of their work. They did not only form a written language
for the Hawaiian race, and painfully write for them school-books, a
dictionary, and a translation of the Scriptures and of a hymn-book; they
did not merely gather the people in churches and their children into
schools; but they guided the race, slowly and with immense difficulty,
toward Christian civilization; and though the Hawaiian is no more a
perfect Christian than the New Yorker or Massachusetts man, and
though there are still traces of old customs and superstitions, these
missionaries have eradicated the grosser crimes of murder and theft so
completely, that even in Honolulu people leave their houses open all
day and unlocked all night, without thought of theft; and there is not a
country in the world where the stranger may travel in such absolute safety
as in these islands.

The Hawaiian, or Sandwich Islands, were discovered--or rediscovered, as
some say--by Captain Cook, in January, 1778, a year and a half after
our Declaration of Independence. The inhabitants were then what we call
savages--that is to say, they wore no more clothing than the climate
made necessary, and knew nothing of the Christian religion. In the
period between 1861 and 1865 this group had in the Union armies a
brigadier-general, a major, several other officers, and more than one
hundred private soldiers and seamen, and its people contributed to the
treasury of the Sanitary Commission a sum larger than that given by most
of our own States.

[Illustration: MRS. LUCY G. THURSTON.]

In 1820 the first missionaries landed on the shores of these islands, and
Mrs. Lucy G. Thurston, one of those who came in that year, still lives, a
bright, active old lady, with a shrewd wit of her own. Thirty-three years
afterward, in 1853, the American Board of Missions determined that "the
Sandwich Islands, having been Christianized, shall no longer receive aid
from the Board;" and in this year, 1873, the natives of these islands
are, there is reason to believe, the most generally educated people in the
world. There is scarcely a Hawaiian--man, woman, or child--of suitable
age but can both read and write. All the towns and many country localities
possess substantial stone or, more often, framed churches, of the oddest
New England pattern; and a compulsory education law draws every child into
the schools, while a special tax of two dollars on every voter, and an
additional general tax, provide schools and teachers for all the children
and youth.


Nine hundred and three thousand dollars were given by Christian people in
the United States during thirty-five years to accomplish this result; and
to-day the islands themselves support a missionary society, which sends
the Gospel in the hands of native missionaries into other islands at its
own cost, and not only supports more than a dozen "foreign" missionaries,
but translates parts of the Bible into other Polynesian tongues.

Nor was exile from their homes and kindred the only privation the
missionaries suffered. They came among a people so vile that they had not
even a conception of right and wrong; so prone to murder and pillage that
the first Kamehameha, the conqueror, gave as excuse for his conquest that
it was necessary to make the paths safe; so debauched in their common
conversation that the earlier missionaries were obliged for years rigidly
to forbid their own children not only from acquaintance with the natives
among whom they lived, but even from learning the native language, because
to hear only the passing speech of their neighbors was to suffer the
grossest contamination.

Of those who began this good work but few now remain. Most of them have
gone to their reward, having no doubt suffered, as well as accomplished,
much. Of the first band who came out from the United States, the only one
living in 1873 is Mrs. Lucy G. Thurston, a bright, active, and lively old
lady of seventy-five years, who drives herself to church on Sundays in a
one-horse chaise, and has her own opinions of passing events. How she has
lived in the tropics for fifty years without losing even an atom of the
New England look puzzles you; but it shows you also the strength which
these people brought with them, the tenacity with which they clung
to their habits of dress and living and thought, the remorseless
determination which they imported, with their other effects, around Cape

[Illustration: DR. JUDD.]

Then there was Dr. Judd, who has died since these lines were written, who
came out as physician to the mission, and proved himself in the islands,
as the world knows, a very able man, with statesmanship for some great
emergencies which made him for years one of the chief advisers of the
Hawaiian kings. It was to me a most touching sight to see, on a Sunday
after church, Mrs. Thurston, his senior by many years but still alert
and vigorous, taking hold of his hand and tenderly helping him out of the
church and to his carriage.

[Illustration: DR. COAN.]

And in Hilo, when you go to visit the volcano, you will find Dr. Coan, one
of the brightest and loveliest spirits of them, all, the story of whose
life in the remote island whose apostle he was, is as wonderful and as
touching as that of any of the earlier apostles, and shows what great
works unyielding faith and love can do in redeeming a savage people. When
Dr. and Mrs. Coan came to the island of Hawaii, its shores and woods were
populous; and through their labors and those of the Reverend Mr. Lyman
and one or two others, thousands of men and women were instructed in
the truths of Christianity, inducted into civilized habits of life, and
finally brought into the church.

As you sail along the green coast of Hawaii from its northern point to
Hilo, you will be surprised at the number of quaint little white churches
which mark the distances almost with the regularity of mile-stones; if,
later, you ride through this district or the one south of Hilo, you will
see that for every church there is also a school-house; you will see
native children reading and writing as well as our own at home; you may
hear them singing tunes familiar in our own Sunday-schools; you will see
the native man and woman sitting down to read their newspaper at the close
of day; and if you could talk with them, you would find they knew almost
as much about our late war as you do, for they took an intense interest in
the war of the rebellion. And you must remember that when, less than forty
years ago, Dr. and Mrs. Coan came to Hilo, the people were naked savages,
with but one church and one school-house in the district, and almost
without printed books or knowledge of reading. They flocked to hear the
Gospel. Thousands removed from a distance to Hilo, where, in their
rapid way, they built up a large town, and kept up surely the strangest
"protracted meeting" ever held; and going back to their homes after many
months, they took with them knowledge and zeal to build up Christian
churches and schools of their own.

Over these Dr. Coan has presided these many years; not only preaching
regularly on Sundays and during the week in the large native church at
Hilo, and in two or three neighboring churches, but visiting the more
distant churches at intervals to examine and instruct the members, and
keep them all on the right track. He has seen a region very populous
when he first came to it decrease until it has now many more deserted and
ruined house-places than inhabited dwellings; but, also, he has seen a
great population turned from darkness to light, a considerable part of it
following his own blameless and loving life as an example, and very many
living to old age steadfast and zealous Christians.

On your first Sunday at Honolulu you will probably attend one or other of
the native churches. They are commodious buildings, well furnished; and a
good organ, well played, will surprise you. Sunday is a very quiet day in
the Islands: they are a church-going people, and the empty seats in
the Honolulu native churches give you notice of the great decrease in
population since these were built.

[Illustration: BETHEL CHURCH.]

If you go to hear preaching in your own language, it will probably be to
the Seamen's Chapel where the Rev. Mr. Damon preaches--one of the oldest
and one of the best-known residents of Honolulu. This little chapel was
brought around Cape Horn in pieces, in a whale-ship many years ago, and
was, I believe, the first American church set up in these islands. It is
a curious old relic, and has seen many changes. Mr. Damon has lived here
since 1846 a most zealous and useful life as seamen's chaplain. He is, in
his own field, a true and untiring missionary, and to his care the port
owes a clean and roomy Seamen's Home, a valuable little paper, _The
Friend_, which was for many years the chief reading of the whalemen who
formerly crowded the ports of Hawaii; and help in distress, and fatherly
advice, and unceasing kindness at all times to a multitude of seamen
during nearly thirty years. The sailors, who quickly recognize a genuine
man, have dubbed him "Father Damon;" and he deserves, what he has long
had, their confidence and affection.

[Illustration: DR. DAMON.]

The charitable and penal institutions of Honolulu are quickly seen, and
deserve a visit. They show the care with which the Government has looked
after the welfare of the people. The Queen's Hospital is an admirably
kept house. At the Reform School you will see a number of boys trained and
educated in right ways. The prison not only deserves a visit for itself,
but from its roof you obtain, as I said before, one of the best views of
Honolulu and the adjacent country and ocean.


Then there are native schools, elementary and academic, where you will see
the young Hawaiian at his studies, and learn to appreciate the industry
and thoroughness with which education is carried on all over these
islands. You will see also curious evidence of the mixture of races here;
for on the benches sit, and in the classes recite, Hawaiian, Chinese,
Portuguese, half white and half Chinese children; and the little
pig-tailed Celestial reads out of his primer quite as well as any.


In the girls' schools you will see an occasional pretty face, but fewer
than I expected to see; and to my eyes the Hawaiian girl is rarely very
attractive. Among the middle-aged women, however, you often meet with fine
heads and large, expressive features. The women have not unfrequently
a majesty of carriage and a tragic intensity of features and expression
which are quite remarkable. Their loose dress gives grace as well as
dignity to their movements, and whoever invented it for them deserves
more credit than he has received. It is a little startling at first to see
women walking about in what, to our perverted tastes, look like calico
or black stuff night-gowns; but the dress grows on you as you become
accustomed to it; it lends itself readily to bright ornamentation; it
is eminently fit for the climate; and a stately Hawaiian dame, marching
through the street in black _holaku_--as the dress is called--with a long
necklace, or _le_, of bright scarlet or brilliant yellow flowers, bare and
untrammeled feet, and flowing hair, surmounted often by a low-crowned
felt hat, compares very favorably with a high-heeled, wasp-waisted,
absurdly-bonneted, fashionable white lady.


As you travel through the country, you see not unfrequently one of
the tall, majestic, large women, who were formerly, it is said by old
residents, more numerous than now. I have been assured by several persons
that the race has dwindled in the last half century; and all old residents
speak with admiration of the great stature and fine forms of the chiefs
and their wives in the early days. It does not appear that these chiefs
were a distinct race, but they were despotic rulers of the common people;
and their greater stature is attributed by those who should know to their
being nourished on better food, and to easier circumstances and more
favorable surroundings.

When you have seen Honolulu and the Nuanu Valley, and bathed and drunk
cocoa-nut milk at Waikiki, you will be ready for a charming excursion--the
ride around the Island of Oahu. For this you should take several days. It
is most pleasantly made by a party of three or four persons, and ladies,
if they can sit in the saddle at all, can very well do it. You should
provide yourself with a pack-mule, which will carry not only spare
clothing but some provisions; and your guide ought to take care of your
horses and be able, if necessary, to cook you a lunch. The ride is easily
done in four days, and you will sleep every night at a plantation or farm.
The roads are excellent for riding, and carriages have made the journey.
It is best to set out by way of Pearl River and return by the Pali,
as thus you have the trade-wind in your face all the way. If you are
accustomed to ride, and can do thirty miles a day, you should sleep the
first night at or near Waialua, the next at or near what is called
the Mormon Settlement, and on the third day ride into Honolulu.

If ladies are of your party, and the stages must be shorter, you can
ride the first day to Ewa, which is but ten miles; the next, to Waialua,
eighteen miles further; the third, to the neighborhood of Kahuku, twelve
miles; thence to Kahana, fifteen miles; thence to Kaalaea, twelve miles;
and the next day carries you, by an easy ride of thirteen miles, into
Honolulu. Any one who can sit on a horse at all will enjoy this excursion,
and receive benefit from it; the different stages of it are so short that
each day's work is only a pleasure. On the way you will see, near Ewa,
the Pearl Lochs, which it has recently been proposed to cede as a
naval station to the United States; and near Waialua an interesting
boarding-school for Hawaiian girls, in which they are taught not only
in the usual school studies, but in sewing, and the various arts of the
housewife. If you are curious to see the high valley in which the famous
Waialua oranges are grown, you must take a day for that purpose. Between
Kahuku and Kahana it is worth while to make a detour into the mountains to
see the Kaliawa Falls, which are a very picturesque sight. The rock, at a
height of several hundred feet, has been curiously worn by the water into
the shape of a canoe. Here, also, the precipitous walls are covered
with masses of fine ferns. At Kahana, and also at Koloa, you will see
rice-fields, which are cultivated by Chinese. You pass also on your road
several sugar-plantations; and if it is the season of sugar-boiling,
you will be interested in this process. For miles you ride along the
sea-shore, and your guide will lead you to proper places for a midday
bath, preliminary to your lunch.

After leaving the Mormon Settlement, the scenery becomes very grand--it
is, indeed, as fine as any on the Islands, and compares well with any
scenery in the world. That it can be seen without severe toil gives it,
for such people as myself, no slight advantage over some other scenery
in these Islands and elsewhere, access to which can be gained only
by toilsome and disagreeable journeys. There is a blending of sea and
mountain which will dwell in your memory as not oppressively grand, and
yet fine enough to make you thankful that Providence has made the world so
lovely and fair.

As you approach the Pali, the mountain becomes a sheer precipice for some
miles, broken only by the gorge of the Pali, up which, if you are prudent,
you will walk, letting your horses follow with the guide--though Hawaiian
horsemen ride both up and down, and have been known to gallop down the
stone-paved and slippery steep. As you look up at these tall, gloomy
precipices, you will see one of the peculiarities of a Sandwich Island
landscape. The rocks are not bare, but covered from crown to base with
moss and ferns; and these cling so closely to the surface that to your
eye they seem to be but a short, close-textured green fuzz. In fact, these
great rocks, thus adorned, reminded me constantly of the rock scenery in
such operas as Fra Diavolo; the dark green being of a shade which I do
not remember to have seen before in nature, though it is not uncommon in
theatrical scenery.

The grass remains green, except in the dry districts, all the year round;
and the common grass of the Islands is the _maniania_, a fine creeping
grass which covers the ground with a dense velvety mat; and where it is
kept short by sheep makes an admirable springy lawn. It has a fine deep
color and bears drought remarkably well; and it is the favorite pasture
grass of the Islands. I do not think it as fattening as the alfilleria of
Southern California or our own timothy or blue grass; but it is a valuable
grass to the stockmen, because it eats out every other and less valuable

On your journey around Oahu you need a guide who can speak some English;
you must take with you on the pack-mule provisions for the journey; and
it is well to have a blanket for each of your party. You will sleep each
night in a native house, unless, as is very likely to be the case, you
have invitations to stop at plantation houses on your way. At the native
houses they will kill a chicken for you, and cook taro; but they have
no other supplies. You can usually get cocoa-nuts, whose milk is very
wholesome and refreshing. The journey is like a somewhat prolonged picnic;
the air is mild and pure; and you need no heavy clothing, for you are sure
of bright sunny weather.

For your excursions near Honolulu, and for the adventure I have described,
you can hire horses; though if you mean to stay a month or two it is
better to buy. A safe and good horse, well saddled and bridled, brought to
you every morning at the hotel, costs you a dollar a day. In that case
you have no care or responsibility for the animal. But unless there are
men-of-war in port you can buy a sufficiently good riding-horse for from
twelve to twenty-five dollars, and get something of your investment back
when you leave; and you can buy saddles and all riding-gear cheaply in
Honolulu. The maintenance of a horse in town costs not over fifty cents
per day.

Your guide for a journey ought to cost you a dollar a day, which includes
his horse; when you stop for the day he unsaddles your horses and ties
them out in a grass-field where they get sufficient nourishment. For your
accommodation at a native house, you ought to pay fifty cents for each
person of your party, including the guide. The proprietor of the Honolulu
hotel is very obliging and readily helps you to make all arrangements for
horses and guides; and if you have brought any letters of introduction, or
make acquaintances in the place, you will find every body ready to assist
you. Riding is the pleasantest way of getting about; but on Oahu the roads
are sufficiently good to drive considerable distances, and carriages are
easily obtainable.

One of the pleasant surprises which meet a northern traveler in these
islands is the number of strange dishes which appear on the table and in
the bill of fare. Strawberries, oranges--the sweetest and juiciest I have
eaten anywhere, except perhaps in Rio de Janeiro--bananas and cocoa-nuts,
you have at will; but besides these there are during the winter months the
guava, very nice when it is sliced like a tomato and eaten with sugar and
milk; taro, which is the potato of the country and, in the shape of poi,
the main subsistence of the native Hawaiian; bread-fruit; flying-fish,
the most tender and succulent of the fish kind; and, in their season,
the mango, the custard-apple, the alligator-pear, the water-melon, the
rose-apple, the ohia, and other fruits.

Taro, when baked, is an excellent and wholesome vegetable, and from its
leaves is cooked a fine substitute for spinach, called _luau_. Poi also
appears on your hotel table, being the national dish, of which many
foreigners have become very fond. It is very fattening and easily
digested, and is sometimes prescribed by physicians to consumptives.
As you drive about the suburbs of Honolulu you will see numerous taro
patches, and may frequently see the natives engaged in the preparation of
poi, which consists in baking the root or tuber in underground ovens, and
then mashing it very fine, so that if dry it would be a flour. It is
then mixed with water, and for native use left to undergo a slight
fermentation. Fresh or unfermented poi has a pleasant taste; when
fermented it tastes to me like book-binder's paste, and a liking for it
must be acquired rather than natural, I should say, with foreigners.

[Illustration: HAWAIIAN POI DEALER.]

So universal is its use among the natives that the manufacture of poi is
carried on now by steam-power and with Yankee machinery, for the sugar
planters; and the late king, who was avaricious and a trader, incurred the
dislike of his native subjects by establishing a poi-factory of his own
near Honolulu. Poi is sold in the streets in calabashes, but it is also
shipped in considerable quantities to other islands, and especially to
guano islands which lie southward and westward of this group. On these
lonely islets, many of which have not even drinking-water for the laborers
who live on them, poi and fish are the chief if not the only articles of
food. The fish, of course, are caught on the spot, but poi, water, salt,
and a few beef cattle for the use of the white superintendents are carried
from here.

Taro is a kind of _arum_. It grows, unlike any other vegetable I know of
unless it be rice, entirely under water. A taro patch is surrounded by
embankments; its bottom is of puddled clay; and in this the cutting, which
is simply the top of the plant with a little of the tuber, is set. The
plants are set out in little clumps in long rows, and a man at work in a
taro patch stands up to his knees in water. Forty square feet of taro, it
is estimated, will support a person for a year, and a square mile of
taro will feed over 15,000 Hawaiians.

[Illustration: THE PALACE, HONOLULU.]

By-the-way, you will hear the natives say _kalo_ when they speak of taro;
and by this and other words in common use you will presently learn of
a curious obliquity in their hearing. A Hawaiian does not notice any
difference in the sounds of _r_ and _l_, of _k_ and _t_, or of _b_, _p_,
and _f_. Thus the Pali, or precipice near Honolulu, is spoken of as the
Pari; the island of Kauai becomes to a resident of it Tauwai, though a
native of Oahu calls it Kauai; taro is almost universally called _kalo_;
and the common salutation, _Aloha_, which means "Love to you," and is the
national substitute for "How do you do?" is half the time _Aroha_; Lanai
is indifferently called Ranai; and Mauna Loa is in the mouths of most
Hawaiians Mauna Roa. Indeed, in the older charts the capital of the
kingdom is called Honoruru.

Society in Honolulu possesses some peculiar features, owing in part to the
singularly isolated situation of this little capital, and partly to the
composition of the social body. Honolulu is a capital city unconnected
with any other place in the world by telegraph, having a mail once a month
from San Francisco and New Zealand, and dependent during the remainder of
the month upon its own resources. To a New Yorker, who gets his news hot
and hot all day and night, and can't go to sleep without first looking
in at the Fifth Avenue Hotel to hear the latest item, this will seem
deplorable enough; but you have no idea how charming, how pleasant, how
satisfactory it is for a busy or overworked man to be thus for a while
absolutely isolated from affairs; to feel that for a month at least the
world must get on without your interfering hand; and though you may dread
beforehand this enforced separation from politics and business, you will
find it very pleasant in the actual experience.

As you stand upon the wharf in company with the elite of the kingdom to
watch the steamer depart, a great burden falls from your soul, because for
a month to come you have not the least responsibility for what may happen
in any part of the planet. Looking up at the black smoke of the departing
ship, you say to yourself, "Who cares?" Let what will happen, you are not
responsible. And so, with a light heart and an easy conscience, you get
on your horse (price $15), and about the time the lady passengers on the
steamer begin to turn green in face, you are sitting down on a spacious
_lanai_ or veranda, in one of the most delightful sea-side resorts in the
world, with a few friends who have determined to celebrate by a dinner
this monthly recurrence of their non-intercourse with the world.


The people are surprisingly hospitable and kind and know how to make
strangers at home; they have leisure, and know how to use it pleasantly;
the climate controls their customs in many respects, and nothing is
pursued at fever heat as with us. What strikes you, when you have found
your way into Honolulu society and looked around, is a certain sensible
moderation and simplicity which is in part, I suspect, a remainder of the
old missionary influence; there is a certain amount of formality, which
is necessary to keep society from deteriorating, but there is no striving
after effect; there are, so far as a stranger discovers, no petty cliques
or cabals or coteries, and there is a very high average of intelligence:
they care about the best things.

They know how to dine; and having good cooks and sound digestions, they
add to these one requisite to pleasant dining which some more pretentious
societies are without: they have leisure. Nothing is done in haste in
Honolulu, where they have long ago convinced themselves that "to-morrow is
another day." Moreover, you find them well-read, without being blue; they
have not muddled their history by contradictory telegraphic reports of
matters of no consequence; in fact, so far as recent events are concerned,
they stand on tolerably firm ground, having perused only the last monthly
record of current events. Consequently, they have had time to read and
enjoy the best books; to follow with an intelligent interest the most
notable passing events; and as most of them come from families or have
lived among people who have had upon their own shoulders some conscious
share of government, political, moral, or religious, these talkers are
not pedantic, but agreeable. As to the ladies, you find them charming;
beautifully dressed, of course, but they have not given the whole day
and their whole minds to the dress; they are cheerful, easily excited to
gayety, long accustomed to take life easily, and eating as though they did
not know what dyspepsia was.

Indeed, when you have passed a month in the Islands you will have a better
opinion of idleness than you had before, though in some respects the odd
effects of a tropical climate will hardly meet your approval. Euchre,
for instance, takes the place here which whist holds elsewhere as the
amusement of sensible people.

[Illustration: A HAWAIIAN CHIEF.]

Finally, society in Honolulu is respectable. It is fashionable to be
virtuous, and if you were "fast," I think you would conceal it. The
Government has always encouraged respectability, and discountenanced vice.
The men who have ruled the Islands--not the missionaries alone, but the
political rulers since--have been plain, honest, and, in the main, wise
men; and they have kept politics respectable in the little monarchy. The
disreputable adventurer element which degrades our politics, and invades
society too, is not found here. You will say the rewards are not great
enough to attract this vile class. Perhaps not; but at any rate it is not
there; and I do not know, in short, where else in the world you would find
so kindly, so gracefully hospitable, and, at the same time, so simple and
enjoyable a society as that of Honolulu.

No one can visit the Islands without being impressed by the boundless
hospitality of the sugar planters, who, with their superintendents
and managers, form, away from the few towns, almost the only white
inhabitants. Hospitality so free-handed is, I suspect, found in few
other parts of the world. Though Honolulu has now a commodious hotel, the
residents keep up their old habits of graceful welcome to strangers. The
capital has an excellent band, which plays in public places several times
a week; and it does not lack social entertainments, parties, and dinners,
to break the monotony of life. Not only the residents of foreign birth,
but a few Hawaiians also, people of education, culture, and means,
entertain gracefully and frequently.

As for the common people, they are by nature or long custom, or both, as
kindly and hospitable as men can be. If you ask for lodgings at night-fall
at a native hut, you are received as though you were conferring a favor;
frequently the whole house, which has but one room, is set apart for you,
the people going elsewhere to sleep; a chicken is slain in your honor, and
for your exclusive supper; and you are served by the master of the house
himself. The native grass-house, where it has been well built, is a very
comfortable structure. It has but a single room, calico curtains serving
as partitions by night; at one end a standing bed-place, running across
the house, provides sleeping accommodations for the whole family, however
numerous. This bed consists of mats; and the covers are either of tapa
cloth--which is as though you should sleep under newspapers--or of
blankets. The more prosperous people have often, besides this, an enormous
bedstead curtained off and reserved for strangers; and you may see the
women take out of their chests, when you ask hospitality, blankets,
sheets, and a great number of little pillows for the bed, as well as often
a brilliant silk coverlet; for this bed appears to be like a Cape Cod
parlor--for ornament rather than use. The use of the dozen little pillows
puzzled me, until I found that they were intended to tuck or wedge me in,
so that I should not needlessly and uncomfortably roll about the vast bed.
They were laid at the sides, and I was instructed to "chock" myself with
them. On leaving, do not inquire what is the cost of your accommodations.
The Hawaiian has vague ideas about price. He might tell you five or ten
dollars; but if you pay him seventy-five cents for yourself and your
guide, he will be abundantly and thoroughly satisfied.




Hilo, as you will perceive on the map, lies on the eastern or windward
side of the Island of Hawaii. You get there in the little inter-island
steamer _Kilauea_, named after the volcano, and which makes a weekly tour
of all the Islands except far-off Kauai, which it visits but once a month.
The charge for passage is fifteen dollars from Honolulu to Hilo, and
twenty-five dollars for the round trip.

The cabin is small; and as you are likely to have fine weather, you will,
even if you are a lady, pass the time more pleasantly on deck, where the
steward, a Goa man and the most assiduous and tactful of his trade, will
place a mattress and blankets for you. You must expect to suffer somewhat
from sea-sickness if you are subject to that ill, for the passage is not
unlikely to be rough. On the way you see Lahaina, and a considerable part
of the islands of Maui and Hawaii; in fact, you are never out of sight of

If you start on Monday evening you will reach Hilo on Wednesday--and
"about this time expect rain," as the almanac-makers say. They get about
seventeen feet of rain at Hilo during the year; and as they have sometimes
several days without any at all, you must look for not only frequent but
heavy showers. A Hilo man told me of a curious experiment which was once
made there. They knocked the heads out of an oil-cask--so he said--and it
rained in at the bung-hole faster than it could run out at the ends. You
may disbelieve this story if you please; I tell it as it was told me; but
in any case you will do well to provide yourself for Hilo and the volcano
journey with stout water-proof clothing.

Hilo, on those days when the sun shines, is one of the prettiest places on
the Islands. If you are so fortunate as to enter the bay on a fine day
you will see a very tropical landscape--a long, pleasant, curved sweep of
beach, on which the surf is breaking, and beyond, white houses nestling
among cocoa-nut groves, and bread-fruit, pandanus, and other Southern
trees, many of them bearing brilliant flowers; with shops and stores along
the beach. Men and boys sporting in the surf, and men and women dashing on
horseback over the beach, make up the life of the scene.

Hilo has no hotel; it has not even a carriage; but it has a very
agreeable and intelligent population of Americans, and you will find good
accommodations at the large house of Mr. Severance, the sheriff of Hawaii.
If his house should be full you need not be alarmed, for some one will
take you in.

This is the usual and most convenient point of departure for the volcano.
Here you hire horses and a guide for the journey. Having gone to Hilo on
the steamer, you will do best to return to Honolulu by schooner, which
leaves you at liberty to choose your point and time of departure. Hawaii
lies to windward of Oahu; and a schooner, which might need four or
five days to beat up to Hilo, will run down from any part of Hawaii in
twenty-four hours. If you are an energetic traveler, determined to see
every thing, and able to endure a good deal of rough riding, you may spend
six weeks on Hawaii. In that time you may not only see the active volcano
of Kilauea, but may ascend Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, whose immense slopes
and lofty and in the winter snow-clad summits show gloriously on a clear
day from Hilo; and you may ride from Hilo along the north-eastern
coast, through the Hamakua and Kohala districts, ending your journey at
Kealakeakua Bay where Captain Cook was killed. There you can take schooner
for Honolulu; or if your energies hold out ride through Kau and Puna
back to Hilo.

The Hamakua and Hilo coasts you will see from the steamer, which sails
close along this bold and picturesque shore on her way to Hilo. This part
of the island is but an extension of the vast slope of Mauna Kea; and
all the waters which drain from its cloud-laden summit pour into the
sea through numerous deep channels, or gorges which they have worn for
themselves, and occasionally dash into the ocean from high cliffs, forming
water-falls visible from the ship's deck. Of the gorges or canons, there
are seventy-nine in a distance of about thirty miles; many of them are
from five to eight hundred feet deep; and as you ride along the coast, you
have no sooner emerged from one of these deep pits than you descend by a
road seldom easy, and often very steep indeed, into another. The sides of
these gorges are lined with masses of the most magnificent ferns, and at
their bottoms you find sparkling streams; and as you look up the canons
you see picturesque water-falls. In short, to the lover of bold and
strange scenery this ride offers many pleasures; and that its difficulties
may not be exaggerated to any one's apprehension, I will mention that
during the spring of 1873 an English lady, taking with her only a native
woman as guide, made the tour of the whole seventy-nine gulches, and
thought herself amply rewarded for her toils by what she saw. As for
myself, I must confess that four of these gulches--the four nearest
Hilo--satisfied me; these I saw in visiting some sugar-plantations.


If you do not intend such a thorough exploration of Hawaii, but mean only
to see the volcano of Kilauea, your pleasantest plan is to ride from Hilo
by the direct road to the crater, and return by way of Puna. You will have
ridden a trifle over one hundred miles through a very remarkable and in
some parts a beautiful country; you will have slept one night in a native
house, and will have seen much of Hawaiian life, and enjoyed a tiring but
at the same time a very novel journey, and some sights which can not be
matched outside of Iceland. To do this, and spend two or three days in
pleasant sight-seeing near Hilo, will bring you back to Honolulu in from
twelve to fourteen days after you left it.

Your traveling expenses will be sufficiently moderate. At Hilo you pay for
board and lodgings eight dollars per week. The charge for horses is ten
dollars each for the volcano journey, with a dollar a day for your guide.
This guide relieves you of all care of the animals, and is useful in
various ways. At the Volcano House the charge for horse and man is five
dollars per day, and you pay half-price for your guide. There is a charge
of one dollar for a special guide into the crater, which is made in your
bill, and you will do well to promise this guide, when you go in, a small
gratuity--half a dollar, or, if your party is large, a dollar--if he gives
you satisfaction. He will get you specimens, carry a shawl for a lady, and
make himself in other ways helpful.

[Illustration: THE VOLCANO HOUSE.]

When you get on your horse at Hilo for the volcano, leave behind you all
hope of good roads. You are to ride for thirty miles over a lava bed,
along a narrow trail as well made as it could be without enormous expense,
but so rough, so full of mud-holes filled with broken lava in the first
part of the journey, and so entirely composed of naked, jagged, and ragged
lava in the remainder, that one wonders how the horses stand it. A canter,
except for two or three miles near the Volcano House, is almost out of the
question; and though the Hawaiians trot and gallop the whole distance, a
stranger will scarcely follow their example.

You should insist, by-the-way, upon having all your horses reshod the day
before they leave Hilo; and it is prudent, even then, to take along an
extra pair of shoes and a dozen or two horse-nails. The lava is extremely
trying to the horse's shoes; and if your horse casts a shoe he will go
lame in fifteen minutes, for the jagged lava cuts almost like glass.

Moreover, do not wait for a fine day; it will probably rain at any rate
before you reach the Volcano House, and your wisest way is to set out
resolutely, rain or shine, on the appointed morning, for the sun may
come out two or three hours after you have started in a heavy rain. Each
traveler should take his water-proof clothing upon his own saddle--it may
be needed at any time--and the pack-mule should carry not only the spare
clothing, well covered with India-rubber blankets, but also an abundant
lunch to be eaten at the Half-way House.

India-rubber or leather leggings, and a long, sleeveless Mackintosh seemed
to me the most comfortable and sufficient guards against weather. Ladies
should ride astride; they will be most comfortable thus. There are no
steep ascents or abrupt descents on the way. Kilauea is nearly four
thousand feet higher than the sea from which you set out; but the rise
is so gradual and constant that if the road were good one might gallop a
horse the whole distance.

You should set out not later than half-past seven, and make up your mind
not to be hurried on the way. There are people who make the distance
in six hours, and boast about it; but I accomplished it with a party of
ladies and children in ten hours with very little discomfort, and did not
envy the six-hour people. There is nothing frightful, or dangerous, or
disagreeable about the journey, even to ladies not accustomed to riding;
and there is very much that is new, strange, and wonderful to Americans
or Europeans. Especially you will be delighted with the great variety and
beauty of the ferns, which range from minute and delicate species to the
dark and grand fronds of the tree-fern, which rises in the more elevated
region to a height of twenty feet, and whose stalk has sometimes a
diameter of three or four feet. From a variety of this tree-fern the
natives take a substance called pulu, a fine, soft, brown fuzz, used for
stuffing pillows and mattresses.

Your guide will probably understand very little English: let him be
instructed in your wishes before you set out. The native Hawaiian is the
most kind and obliging creature in the world, and you will find your guide
ready to do you every needful service. You can get nothing to eat on the
road, except perhaps a little sugar-cane; therefore you must provide a
sufficient lunch. At the Half-way House, but probably nowhere else, you
will get water to drink.

When you reach the Volcano House, I advise you to take a sulphur
vapor-bath, refreshing after a tedious ride; and after supper you will sit
about a big open fire and recount the few incidents and adventures of the

The next day you give to the crater. Unless the night is very foggy you
will have gone to sleep with the lurid light of Kilauea in your eyes.
Madame Pele, the presiding goddess of the volcano, exhibits fine
fire-works at night sometimes, and we saw the lava spurting up in the air
above the edge of the smaller and active crater, one night, in a quite
lively manner. On a moderately clear night the light from the burning
lakes makes a very grand sight; and the bedrooms at the little Volcano
House are so placed that you have Madame Pele's fire-works before you all

The house stands but a few feet from the edge of the great crater, and you
have no tedious preliminary walk, but begin your descent into the pit
at once. For this you need stout shoes, light clothing, and, if you have
ladies in your party, a heavy shawl for each. The guide takes with him a
canteen of water, and also carries the shawls. You should start about
nine o'clock, and give the whole day to the crater, returning to dinner at

The great crater of Kilauea is nine miles in circumference, and perhaps
a thousand feet deep. It is, in fact, a deep pit, bounded on all sides
by precipitous rocks. The entrance is effected by a series of steps, and
below these by a scramble over lava and rock debris. It is not difficult,
but the ascent is tiresome; and it is a prudent precaution, if you have
ladies with you, to take a native man for each lady, to assist her over
the rougher places, and up the steep ascent. The greater part of the
crater was, when I saw it, a mass of dead, though not cold lava; and over
this you walk to the farthest extremity of the pit, where you must ascend
a tolerably steep hill of lava, which is the bank of the fiery lake. The
distance from the Volcano House to the edge of this lake is, by the road
you take, three miles.


The goddess Pele, who, according to the Hawaiian mythology, presides over
Kilauea, is, as some say all her sex are, variable, changeable, mutable.
What I shall tell you about the appearance of the crater and lake is true
of that time; it may not have been correct a week later; it was certainly
not true of a month before. We climbed into the deep pit, and then
stood upon a vast floor of lava, rough, jammed together, broken, jagged,
steaming out a hot sulphurous breath at almost every seam, revealing rolls
of later lava injections at every deep crack, with caverns and high ridges
where the great mass, after cooling, was forced together, and with a steep
mountain-side of lava at our left, along the foot of which we clambered.

This floor of lava, which seems likely to be a more or less permanent
feature, was, three or four years ago, upon a level with the top of the
high ridge, or ledge, whose base you skirt. The main part of the crater
was then a floor of lava vaster even than it now is. Suddenly one day, and
with a crash which persuaded one or two persons at the Volcano House that
the whole planet was flying to pieces, the greater part of this lava floor
sank down, or fell down, a depth of about five hundred feet, to the level
whereon we now walked. The wonderful tale was plain to us as we examined
the details on the spot. It was as though a top-heavy and dried-out
pie-crust had fallen in in the middle, leaving a part of the circumference
bent down, but clinging at the outside to the dish.

[Illustration: LAVA FIELD, HAWAII--FLOW OF 1868.]

After this great crash the lava seems from time to time to have boiled up
from beneath through cracks, and now lies in great rolls upon the surface,
or in the deeper cracks. It is related that later the lake or caldron at
the farther end of the crater boiled over, and sent down streams of lava
which meandered over the black plain; that, continuing to boil over at
intervals, this lake increased the height of its own banks, for the lava
cools very rapidly; and thus was built up a high hill, which we ascended
after crossing the lava plains, in order to look down, in fear and wonder,
upon the awful sight below. What we saw there on the 3d of March, 1873,
was two huge pits, caldrons, or lakes, filled with a red, molten, fiery,
sulphurous, raging, roaring, restless mass of matter, to watch whose
unceasing tumult was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life.

The two lakes were then separated by a narrow and low-lying ledge
or peninsula of lava, which I was told they frequently overflow, and
sometimes entirely melt down. Standing upon the northern bank we could see
both lakes, and we estimated their shortest diameter to be about 500 feet,
and the longest about one-eighth of a mile. Within this pit the surface of
the molten lava was about eighty feet below us. It has been known to sink
down 400 feet; last December it was overflowing the high banks and sending
streams of lava into the great plain by which we approached it; and since
I saw it, it has risen to within a few feet of the top of the bank,
and has forced a way out at one side, where, in September, 1873, it was
flowing out slowly on to the great lava plain which forms the bottom of
the main crater.

What, therefore, Madame Pele will show you hereafter is uncertain. What we
saw was this: two large lakes or caldrons, each nearly circular, with
the lower shelf or bank, red-hot, from which the molten lava was repelled
toward the centre without cessation. The surface of these lakes was of a
lustrous and beautiful gray, and this, which was a cooling and tolerably
solid scum, was broken by jagged circles of fire, which appeared of a
vivid rose-color in contrast with the gray. These circles, starting at
the red-hot bank or shore, moved more or less rapidly toward the centre,
where, at intervals of perhaps a minute, the whole mass of lava suddenly
but slowly bulged up, burst the thin crust, and flung aloft a huge, fiery
wave, which sometimes shot as high as thirty feet in the air. Then ensued
a turmoil, accompanied with hissing, and occasionally with a dull roar as
the gases sought to escape, and spray was flung in every direction; and
presently the agitation subsided, to begin again in the same place, or
perhaps in another.

Meantime the fiery rings moved forward perpetually toward the centre, a
new one re-appearing at the shore before the old was ingulfed; and not
unfrequently the mass of lava was so fiercely driven by some force from
the bank near which we stood, that it was ten or fifteen feet higher
near the centre than at the circumference. Thus somewhat of the depth was
revealed to us, and there seemed something peculiarly awful to me in the
fierce glowing red heat of the shores themselves, which never cooled with
exposure to the air and light.

Thus acted the first of the two lakes. But when, favored by a strong
breeze, we ventured farther, to the side of the furthermost one, a still
more terrible spectacle greeted us. The mass in this lake was in yet more
violent agitation; but it spent its fury upon the precipitous southern
bank, against which it dashed with a vehemence equal to a heavy surf
breaking against cliffs. It had undermined this lava cliff, and for a
space of perhaps one hundred and fifty feet the lava beat and surged into
glaring, red-hot, cavernous depths, and was repelled with a dull, heavy
roar, not exactly like the boom of breakers, because the lava is so much
heavier than water, but with a voice of its own, less resonant, and, as we
who listened thought, full of even more deadly fury.

It seems a little absurd to couple the word "terrible" with any action of
mere inanimate matter, from which, after all, we stood in no very evident
peril. Yet "terrible" is the only word for it. Grand it was not, because
in all its action and voice it seemed infernal. Though its movement is
slow and deliberate, it would scarcely occur to you to call either the
constant impulse from one side toward the other, or the vehement and vast
bulging of the lava wave as it explodes its thin crust or dashes a fiery
mass against the cliff, majestic, for devilish seems a better word.

Meantime, though we were favored with a cool and strong breeze, bearing
the sulphurous stench of the burning lake away from us, the heat of the
lava on which we stood, at least eighty feet above the pit, was so great
as to be almost unendurable. We stood first upon one foot, and then on the
other, because the soles of our feet seemed to be scorching through thick
shoes. A lady sitting down upon a bundle of shawls had to rise because the
wraps began to scorch; our faces seemed on fire from the reflection of
the heat below; the guide's tin water-canteen, lying near my feet, became
presently so hot that it burned my fingers when I took it up; and at
intervals there came up from behind us a draught of air so hot, and so
laden with sulphur that, even with the strong wind carrying it rapidly
away, it was scarcely endurable. It was while we were coughing and
spluttering at one of these hot blasts, which came from the numerous
fissures in the lava which we had passed over, that a lady of our party
remarked that she had read an excellent description of this place in the
New Testament; and so far as I observed, no one disagreed with her.

After the lakes came the cones. When the surface of this lava is so
rapidly cooling that the action below is too weak to break it, the gases
forcing their way out break small vents, through which lava is then
ejected. This, cooling rapidly as it comes to the outer air, forms by its
accretions a conical pipe of greater or less circumference, and sometimes
growing twenty or thirty feet high, open at the top, and often with
openings also blown out at the sides. There are several of these cones on
the summit bank of the lake, all ruined, as it seemed to me, by some too
violent explosion, which had blown off most of the top, and in one case
the whole of it, leaving then only a wide hole.

Into these holes we looked, and saw a very wonderful and terrible sight.
Below us was a stream of lava, rolling and surging and beating against
huge, precipitous, red-hot cliffs; and, higher up, suspended from other,
also red or white hot overhanging cliffs, depended huge stalactites, like
masses of fiercely glowing fern leaves waving about in the subterraneous
wind; and here we saw how thin was in some such places the crust over
which we walked, and how near the melting-point must be its under surface.
For, as far as we could judge, these little craters or cones rested upon
a crust not thicker than twelve or fourteen inches, and one fierce blast
from below seemed sufficient to melt away the whole place. Fortunately
one can not stay very long near these openings, for they exhale a very
poisonous breath; and so we were drawn back to the more fascinating but
less perilous spectacle of the lakes; and then back over the rough lava,
our minds filled with memories of a spectacle which is certainly one of
the most remarkable our planet affords.

When you have seen the fiery lakes you will recognize a crater at sight,
and every part of Hawaii and of the other islands will have a new interest
for you;


for all are full of craters, and from Kilauea to the sea you may trace
several lines of craters, all extinct, but all at some time belching forth
those interminable lava streams over which you ride by the way of the Puna
coast for nearly seventy miles back to Hilo.

I advise you to take this way back. Almost the whole of it is a land of
desolation. A narrow trail across unceasing beds of lava, a trail which
in spots was actually hammered down to make it smooth enough for horses'
feet, and outside of whose limits in most places your horse will refuse to
go, because he knows it is too rough for beast or man: this is your road.
Most of the lava is probably very ancient, though some is quite recent;
and ferns and guava bushes and other scanty herbage grow through it.

In some of the cavernous holes, which denote probably ancient cones or
huge lava bubbles, you will see a cocoa-nut-tree or a pandanus trying to
subsist; and by-and-by, after a descent to the sea-shore, you are rewarded
with the pleasant sight of groves of cocoa-nuts and umbrageous arbors of
pandanus, and occasionally with a patch of green.

Almost the whole of the Puna coast is waterless. From the Volcano House
you take with you not only food for the journey back to Hilo, but water in
bottles; and your thirsty animals get none until you reach the end of
your first day's journey, at Kaimu. Here, also, you can send a more than
half-naked native into the trees for cocoa-nuts, and drink your fill
of their refreshing milk, while your jaded horses swallow bucketfuls of

[Illustration: HILO.]

It will surprise you to find people living among the lava, making
potato-patches in it, planting coffee and some fruit-trees in it, fencing
in their small holdings, even, with lava blocks. Very little soil is
needed to give vegetation a chance in a rainy reason, and the decomposed
lava makes a rich earth. But except the cocoa-nut which grows on
the beach, and seems to draw its sustenance from the waves, and the
sweet-potato, which does very well among the lava, nothing seems really to

It will add much to the pleasure of your journey to Kilauea if you carry
with you, to read upon the spot and along the road, Brigham's valuable
Memoir on the Hawaiian Volcanoes. With this in hand, you will comprehend
the nature, and know also the very recent date of some important changes,
caused by earthquakes and lava flows, on the Puna coast. Near and at
Kaimu, for instance, there has been an apparent subsidence of the land,
which is supposed in reality, however, I believe, to have been caused
rather by the breaking off of a vast lava ledge or overhang, on which,
covered as it was with earth and trees, a considerable population had long
lived. In front of the native house in which you will sleep, at Kaimu,
part of a large grove of cocoa-nut-trees was thus submerged, and you may
see the dead stumps still sticking up out of the surf.

Kaimu is twenty-five miles from the Volcano House. The native house
at which you will pass the night is clean, and you may there enjoy the
novelty of sleeping on Hawaiian mats, and under the native cover of tapa.
You must bring with you tea or coffee, sugar, and bread, and such other
food as is necessary to your comfort. Sweet-potatoes and bananas, and
chickens caught after you arrive, with abundant cocoa-nuts, are the
supplies of the place. The water is not good, and you will probably drink
only cocoa-nut milk, until, fifteen miles farther on, at Captain Eldart's,
you find a pleasant and comfortable resting-place for the second night,
with a famous natural warm bath, very slightly mineral. Thence a ride of
twenty-three miles brings you back to Hilo, all of it over lava, most of
it through a sterile country, but with one small burst of a real paradise
of tropical luxuriance, a mile of tall forest and jungle, which looks more
like Brazil than Hawaii.

One advantage of returning by way of the Puna coast, rather than by the
direct route from Kilauea, is that you have clear, bright weather all the
way. The configuration of the coast makes Puna sunny while Hilo is rainy.

If you desire a longer ride than that by the Puna coast, you can cross
the island, from the Volcano House, by way of Waiahino and Kapapala to
Kauwaloa on the western coast, whence a schooner will bear you back to
Honolulu. A brief study of the map of Hawaii in this volume will show the
different routes suggested in this chapter.

Moreover, when you are at Kilauea, you have done something toward
the ascent of Mauna Loa; and guides, provisions, and animals for that
enterprise can be obtained at the Volcano House, as well as such ample
details of the route that I will not here attempt any directions. It is
not an easy ride; and you must carry with you warm clothing. A gentleman
who slept at the summit in September, 1873, told me the ice made over two
inches thick during the night.

If Mauna Loa is active, a traveler on the Islands ought by all means to
see it; for Dr. Coan assures me that it is then one of the most terrific
and grand sights imaginable. I did not visit it, as it was not active
while I was on the Islands, though its fires were alive. The crater is a
pit about three miles in circumference, with precipitous banks about two
thousand feet deep. At the bottom is the burning lake, which has a curious
habit of throwing up a jet, more or less constant, of fiery lava, to the
height, this last summer, of four or five hundred feet from the surface of
the lake. It is a fine sight, but, of course, somewhat distant. I am
told that this jet has at times reached nearly to the summit level of the
crater; and it must then have been a glorious spectacle.

[Illustration: SURF BATHING.]

Near Hilo are some pretty water-falls and several sugar plantations, to
which you can profitably give a couple of days, and on another you should
visit Cocoa-nut Island, and--as interesting a spot as almost any on the
Islands--a little lagoon on the main-land near by, in which you may see
the coral growing, and pick it up in lovely specimens with the stones upon
which it has built in these shallow and protected waters. Moreover,
the surf-beaten rocks near by yield cowries and other shells in some
abundance; and I do not know anywhere of a pleasanter picnic day than that
you can spend there.

Finally, Hilo is one of the very few places on these islands where you
can see a truly royal sport--the surf-board. It requires a rough day and
a heavy surf, but with a good day it is one of the finest sights in the

The surf-board is a tough plank about two feet wide and from six to twenty
feet long, usually made of the bread-fruit-tree. Armed with these, a party
of tall, muscular natives swim out to the first line of breakers, and,
watching their chance to duck under this, make their way finally, by the
help of the under-tow, into the smooth water far off: beyond all the surf.
Here they bob up and down on the swell like so many ducks, watching their
opportunity. What they seek is a very high swell, before which they place
themselves, lying or kneeling on the surf-board. The great wave dashes
onward, but as its bottom strikes the ground, the top, unretarded in its
speed and force, breaks into a huge comber, and directly before this the
surf-board swimmer is propelled with a speed which we timed and found to
exceed forty miles per hour. In fact, he goes like lightning, always just
ahead of the breaker, and apparently downhill, propelled by the vehement
impulse of the roaring wave behind him, yet seeming to have a speed and
motion of his own.

It is a very surprising sight to see three or four men thus dashed for
nearly a mile toward the shore at the speed of an express train, every
moment about to be overwhelmed by a roaring breaker, whose white crest
was reared high above and just behind them, but always escaping this
ingulfment, and propelled before it. They look, kneeling or lying on their
long surf-boards, more like some curious and swift-swimming fish--like
dolphins racing, as it seemed to me--than like men. Once in a while, by
some mischance the cause of which I could not understand, the swimmer
_was_ overwhelmed; the great comber overtook him; he was flung over and
over like a piece of wreck, but instantly dived, and re-appeared beyond
and outside of the wave, ready to take advantage of the next. A successful
shot launched them quite high and dry on the beach far beyond where we
stood to watch. Occasionally a man would stand erect upon his surf-board,
balancing himself in the boiling surf without apparent difficulty.

The surf-board play is one of the ancient sports of Hawaii. I am told that
few of the younger generation are capable of it, and that it is thought to
require great nerve and coolness even among these admirable swimmers, and
to be not without danger.

In your journeys to the different islands you need to take with you, as
part of your baggage, saddle and bridle, and all the furniture of a horse.
You can hire or buy a horse anywhere very cheaply; but saddles are often
unattainable, and always difficult to either borrow or hire. "You might as
well travel here without your boots as without your saddle," said a friend
to me; and I found it literally true, not only for strangers, but for
residents as well. Thus you may notice that the little steamer's hold,
as she leaves Honolulu, contains but few trunks; but is crowded with a
considerable collection of saddles and saddle-bags, the latter the most
convenient receptacles for your change of clothing.

Riding on Hawaii is often tiresome, even to one accustomed to the saddle,
by reason of the slow pace at which you are compelled to move. Wherever
you stop, for lunch or for the night, if there are native people near,
you will be greatly refreshed by the application of what they call
"lomi-lomi." Almost everywhere you will find some one skillful in this
peculiar and, to tired muscles, delightful and refreshing treatment.

To be lomi-lomied, you lie down upon a mat, loosening your clothing, or
undressing for the night if you prefer. The less clothing you have on the
more perfectly the operation can be performed. To you thereupon comes a
stout native, with soft, fleshy hands but a strong grip, and, beginning
with your head and working down slowly over the whole body, seizes
and squeezes with a quite peculiar art every tired muscle, working and
kneading with indefatigable patience, until in half an hour, whereas you
were sore and weary and worn-out, you find yourself fresh, all soreness
and weariness absolutely and entirely removed, and mind and body soothed
to a healthful and refreshing sleep.

The lomi-lomi is used not only by the natives, but among almost all
the foreign residents; and not merely to procure relief from weariness
consequent on overexertion, but to cure headache, to relieve the aching
of neuralgic or rheumatic pains, and, by the luxurious, as one of the
pleasures of life. I have known it to relieve violent headache in a very
short time. The old chiefs used to keep skillful lomi-lomi men and women
in their retinues; and the late king, who was for some years too stout to
take exercise, and was yet a gross feeder, had himself lomi-lomied after
every meal, as a means of helping his digestion.

It is a device for relieving pain or weariness which seems to have no
injurious reaction and no drawback but one--it is said to fatten the
subjects of it.

[Illustration: LAHAINA, ISLAND OF MAUI.]



Maui lies between Oahu and Hawaii, and is somewhat larger than the
first-named island. It contains the most considerable sugar-plantations,
and yields more of this product than any one of the other islands. It is
notable also for possessing the mountain of Haleakala, an extinct volcano
ten thousand feet high, which has the largest crater in the world--a
monstrous pit, thirty miles in circumference, and two thousand feet deep.

There is some reason to believe that Maui was originally two islands,
the northern and southern parts being joined together by an immense sandy
plain, so low that in misty weather it is hardly to be distinguished from
the ocean; and some years ago a ship actually ran aground upon it, sailing
for what the captain imagined to be an open passage.

Maui has also the famous Wailuku Valley, a picturesque gorge several miles
deep, and giving you a very fair example of the broken, verdure-clad, and
now lonely valleys of these islands; which are in reality steep, narrow
canons, worn out of the mountains by the erosion of water. The old
Hawaiians seem to have cared little how difficult a piece of country was;
they not only made their taro patches in the streams which roar at the
bottoms of such gorges, but they fought battles among the precipices which
you find at the upper ends of these valleys, where the defeated usually
met their deaths by plunging down into the stream far below.

After seeing a live or burning crater like Kilauea, Haleakala, I thought,
would be but a dull sight; but it is, on the contrary, extremely well
worth a visit. The islands have no sharp or angular volcanic peaks.
Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, on Hawaii, though 14,000 feet high, are mere
bulbs--vast hills, not mountains; and the ascent to the summit of
Haleakala, though you surmount 10,000 feet, is neither dangerous nor
difficult. It is tedious, however, for it involves a ride of about twelve
miles, mostly over lava, uphill. It is best to ride up during the day, and
sleep at or near the summit, where there are one or two so-called caves in
the lava, broken lava-bubbles in fact, sufficiently roomy to accommodate
several persons. You must take with you a guide, provisions, and blankets,
for the nights are cold; and you find near the summit water, wood enough
for a small fire, and forage for your horses. Each person should have
water-proof clothing, for it is very likely to rain, at least on the
Makawao side.

[Illustration: CASCADE AND RIVER OF LAVA--FLOW OF 1869.]

The great crater is best seen at sunrise, and, if you are so fortunate
as to have a tolerably clear sky, you may see, lying far away below you,
almost all of the islands. Hawaii lies far enough away to reveal its
entire outline, with Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea rising near either end, and
the depression near which lies Kilauea in the middle. The cloud effects at
sunrise and sunset are marvelous, and alone repay the ascent.

But the crater itself, clear of fog and clouds in the early morning, and
lighted up by the rising sun, is a most surprising sight. It is ten miles
in diameter, and the bottom lies 2000 feet below where you stand. The vast
irregular floor contains more than a dozen subsidiary craters or great
cones, some of them 750 feet high, and nearly as large as Diamond Head. At
the Kaupo and Koolau gaps, indicated on the map, the lava is supposed to
have burst through and made its way down the mountain sides. The cones are
distinctly marked as you look down upon them; and it is remarkable that
from the summit the eye takes in the whole crater, and notes all its
contents, diminished of course by their great distance. Not a tree, shrub,
or even tuft of grass obstructs the view.

To describe such a scene is impossible. A study of the map, with the
figures showing elevations, will give you a better idea of it than a long
verbal description. It is an extraordinarily desolate scene. A few wild
goats scramble over the rocks, or rush down the nearly perpendicular
cliff; occasionally a solitary bird raises its harsh note; the wind howls
fiercely; and as you lie under the lee of a mass of lava, taking in the
scene and picking out the details as the rising sun brings them out one by
one, presently the mist begins to pour into the crater, and often by ten
o'clock fills it up completely.

The natives have no tradition of Haleakala in activity. There are signs
of several lava flows, and of one in particular, clearly much more recent
than the others. It must have presented a magnificent and terrible sight
when it was in full activity. I did not ride into the crater, but it is
possible to do so, and the natives have a trail, not much used, by which
they pass. If you descend, be careful not to leave or lose this trail, for
in many parts your horse will not be able to get back to it if you suffer
him to stray off even a few yards, the lava is so sharp and jagged. As you
descend the mountain on the Makawao side you will notice two finely shaped
craters on the side of the mountain, which also in their time spewed out
lava. Nearer the coast your eye, become familiar with the peculiar
shape of these cones or craters, will notice yet others; and, indeed, to
appreciate the peculiarities of Sandwich Island scenery, in which extinct
craters and cones of all sizes have so great a part, it is necessary to
have visited Kilauea and Haleakala. The latter name, by-the-way,
means "House of the Sun;" and as you watch the rising sun entering and
apparently taking possession of the vast gloomy depths, you will think the
name admirably chosen.

If you carry a gun you are likely to have a shot at wild turkeys on your
way up or down. It is remarkable that many of our domestic animals easily
become wild on the islands. There are wild goats, wild cats, wild chickens
and turkeys; the cattle run wild; and on Hawaii one man at least has been
killed and torn to pieces by wild dogs, which run in packs in some parts
of the island.

Sugar plantations are found on all four of the larger islands; and on
all of them there are successful examples of this enterprise; but Maui
contains, I believe, the greatest number, and is thought to be the best
fitted for the business. It is on this island, therefore, that the curious
traveler can see this industry under its most favorable aspects. There
is no doubt that for the production of sugar these islands offer some
extraordinary advantages.


I have seen a field of thirty acres which two years ago produced nearly
six tons of sugar to the acre. Four tons per acre is not a surprising
crop; and, from all I can hear, I judge that two and a half tons per acre
may be considered a fair yield. The soil, too, with proper treatment,
appears to be inexhaustible. The common custom is to take off two crops,
and then let the field lie fallow for two years; but where they irrigate
even this is not always done. There is no danger of frost, as in
Louisiana, and cane is planted in some part of the islands in almost
every month of the year. In Lahaina it matures in from fourteen to sixteen
months; in some districts it requires eighteen months; and at greater
altitudes even two years.

But under all the varying circumstances, whether it is irrigated or not,
whether it grows on bottoms or on hill slopes, in dry or in damp regions,
everywhere the cane seems to thrive, and undoubtedly it is the one product
of the islands which succeeds. A worm, which pierces the cane near the
ground and eats out the pith, has of late, I am told, done some damage,
and in some parts the rat has proved troublesome. But these evils do not
anywhere endanger or ruin the crop, as the blight has ruined the coffee
culture and discouraged other agricultural ventures. The sugar product
of the islands has constantly increased. In 1860 they exported 1,444,271
pounds of sugar; in 1864, 10,414,441 pounds; in 1868, 18,312,926 pounds;
and in 1871, 21,760,773 pounds of sugar.

What is remarkable is that, with this rapid increase in the production
of sugar, you hear that the business is unprosperous; and if to this you
reply that planters, like farmers, are hard to satisfy, they show you that
the greater number of the plantations have at some time been sold by the
sheriff, some of them more than once, and that, in fact, only six or seven
are to-day in the hands of their founders.

I do not doubt that there has been bad management on many plantations,
and that this accounts in part for these failures, by which many hundred
thousand dollars have been lost. For the advantages of the sugar planter
on these islands are very decided. He has not only, as I showed you above,
a favorable climate and an extraordinarily fertile soil, but he has
a laboring population, perhaps the best, the most easily managed, the
kindliest, and--so far as habits affect the steadiness and usefulness
of the laborer--the least vicious in the world. He does not have to pay
exorbitant wages; he is not embarrassed to feed or house them, for food
is so abundant and cheap that economy in its distribution is of no moment;
and the Hawaiian is very cheaply housed.

But bad management by no means accounts for all the non-success. There are
some natural disadvantages serious enough to be taken into the account.
In the first place, you must understand that the rain-fall varies
extraordinarily. The trade-wind brings rain; the islands are bits of
mountain ranges; the side of the mountain which lies toward the rain-wind
gets rain; the lee side gets scarcely any. At Hilo it rains almost
constantly; at Lahaina they get hardly a shower a year. At Captain
Makee's, one of the most successful plantations on Maui, water is stored
in cisterns; at Mr. Spencer's, not a dozen miles distant, also one of the
successful plantations, which lies on the other side of Mount Haleakala,
they never have to irrigate. Near Hilo the long rains make cultivation
costly and difficult; but the water is so abundant that they run their
fire-wood from the mountains and their cane from the fields into the
sugar-houses in flumes, at a very great saving of labor. Near Lahaina
every acre must be irrigated, and this work proceeds day and night in
order that no water may run to waste.

Then there is the matter of shipping sugar. There are no good ports except
Honolulu. Kaului on Maui, Hanalei and Nawiliwili on Kauai, and one or two
plantations on Oahu, have tolerable landings. But almost everywhere the
sugar is sent over vile roads to a more or less difficult landing, whence
it is taken in launches to the schooners which carry it to Honolulu, where
it is stored, coopered, and finally reshipped to its market. Many landings
are made through the surf, and I remember one which, last spring,
was unapproachable by vessel or boat for nearly four weeks.

Each sugar planter has, therefore, problems of his own to solve. He can
not pattern on his neighbors. He can not base his estimate on theirs. He
can not be certain even, until he has tried, which of the ten or a dozen
varieties of cane will do best on his soil. He must look out for wood,
which is by no means abundant, and is often costly to bring down from the
mountain; he must look out for his landing; must see that taro grows near
at hand; must secure pasture for his draught cattle: in short, he must
consider carefully and independently many different questions before he
can be even reasonably sure of success. And if, with all this uncertainty,
he embarks with insufficient capital, and must pay one per cent. a month
interest, and turn his crop over to an agent in Honolulu, who is his
creditor, and who charges him five per cent. for handling it, it will not
be wonderful to any business man if he fails to grow rich, or if even he
by-and-by becomes bankrupt. Many have failed. Of thirty-four plantations,
the number worked in all the islands at this time, only six or seven are
in the hands of their founders. Some, which cost one hundred thousand
dollars, were sold by the sheriff for fifteen or eighteen thousand; some,
which cost a quarter of a million, were sold for less than a hundred

If you speak with the planters, they will tell you that their great
difficulty is to get a favorable market; that the duty on their sugar
imported into San Francisco eats up their profits; and that the only
cure--the cure-all, I should say, for all the ills they suffer--is a
treaty with the United States, which shall admit their product duty free.
Of course any one can see that if the sugar duty were remitted to them,
the planters would make more money, or would lose less. An ingenuous
planter summed up for me one day the whole of that side of the case, by
saying, "If we had plenty of labor and a free market for our sugar, we
should be thoroughly satisfied."

But I am persuaded that, as there are planters now who are prosperous and
contented, and who make handsome returns even with the sugar duty against
them, so, if that were removed, there would be planters who would continue
their regular and slow march toward bankruptcy; and for whom the remitted
duty would be but a temporary respite, while it would deprive them of a
cheap and easy way to account for their failure. Wherever on the islands
I found a planter living on his own plantation, managing it himself, and
_out of debt_, I found him making money, even with low prices for his
sugar, and even if the plantation itself was not favorably placed; not
only this, but I found plantations yielding steady and sufficient profits,
under judicious management, which in previous hands became bankrupt. But
on the other hand, where I found a plantation heavily encumbered with
debt and managed by a superintendent, the owner living elsewhere, I heard
usually, though not always, complaints of hard times. If a sugar planter
has his land and machinery heavily mortgaged at ten or twelve per cent
interest; if he must, moreover, borrow money on his crop in the field to
enable him to turn that into sugar; if then he sends the product to an
agent in Honolulu, who charges him five per cent. for shipping it to San
Francisco; and if in San Francisco another agent charges him five per
cent. more, _on the gross returns including freight and duty_, for selling
it; if besides all this the planter buys his supplies on credit, and is
charged one per cent. a month on these, compounded every three months
until it is paid, and pays almost as much freight on his sugar from the
plantation to Honolulu as from there to its final market--it is highly
probable that he will, in the course of time, fail.

There are not many legitimate enterprises in the world which would bear
such charges and leave a profit to the manager. But it is on this system
that the planting of sugar has been, to a large extent, carried on for
years in the Islands. Under it a good deal of money has been made, but not
by the planters. Nor is this essentially unjust. In the majority of cases,
planters began rashly with small means, and had to borrow largely to
complete their enterprises and get to work. The capitalist of course took
a part of the profits as interest. But the capitalist was in many
cases also the agent and store-keeper in Honolulu; and he shaved off
percentages--all in the way of business--until the planter was really
no more than the foreman of his agent and creditor. When, under such
circumstances, a planter complained that he did not make the fortune he
anticipated, and reasoned that therefore sugar planting in the Islands is
unprofitable, he seemed to me to speak beside the question--for his agent
and creditor, his employer in fact, made no complaint: _he_ always made
money; and as he had invested the money to carry on the enterprise, this
was but the natural result.


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