Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands
Charles Nordhoff

Part 2 out of 6

The planters make a grave mistake in not acting together and advising
together on their most important interests. There are so few of them that
it should be easy to unite; and yet for lack of concerted action they
suffer important abuses to go on. For instance, it is a serious loss
to the planter that when he ships or engages a hand he must pay a large
"advance," amounting usually to at least half a year's pay. This custom is
hurtful to the laborer, who wastes it, and it inflicts a serious loss
upon the planter. Suppose he employs a hundred men, and pays fifty dollars
advance, he invests at once five thousand dollars for which he gets no
interest, though if, as is probable, he borrowed it, he must pay one
per cent. a month. This abuse could be abolished in a day by the simple
announcement that no planter would hereafter pay more than ten dollars
advance. But it has gone on for years, and the sum paid gets higher every
year merely by the planters outbidding each other.

Again, it is possible to ship sugar from some of the Islands direct to
San Francisco, and for but little more than is now paid for shipping it
to Honolulu. Half a dozen planters on Hawaii or Maui, clubbing together,
could easily get a ship or half a dozen ships to come for their sugar, and
thus save five per cent. on their gross returns, now paid to agents. But
this is not done, partly because so many planters are in need of money,
which they borrow in Honolulu, with the understanding that they will
submit their produce to the management of agents there.

Again, the planters err, I think, in not giving personal study to the
question of a market for their sugar. They leave this to the agents to
manage. No doubt these gentlemen are competent; but it is easy to see that
their interests may be somewhat different from those of the planter. For
instance, some years ago an arrangement was offered by the San Francisco
sugar refineries by which these agreed to take two-thirds of the product
of the plantations in crude sugar, to furnish bags to contain this
product, and to pay cash for it in Honolulu. Under this system the planter
was saved the heavy expense of sugar kegs, and the cost of two agencies
of five per cent. each, besides getting cash in Honolulu, whereas now his
sugar is usually sold at three months in San Francisco, and he probably
loses six months' interest, reckoning from the time his sugar leaves the
plantation. This arrangement, several planters told me, was profitable to
them; but it was discontinued--it was not to the advantage of the agents;
its discontinuance was no doubt a blunder for the planters. Moreover,
the Australian market has been too long neglected; but the advantage of
possessing two markets instead of one is too obvious to require statement.

It is a reasonable conclusion, from all the facts in the case, that
sugar planting can be carried on at a fair and satisfactory profit in the
Hawaiian Islands, wherever skill and careful personal attention are given,
and due economy enforced by a planter who has at the same time sufficient
capital to carry on the business. The example of Captain Makee and Mr.
A.H. Spencer on Maui, of Mr. Isenberg on Kauai and others sufficiently
prove this.

If I seem to have given more space to this sugar question than it appears
to deserve at the hands of a passing traveler, it is because sugar enters
largely into the politics of the Islands. It is the sugar interest which
urges the offer of Pearl River to the United States in exchange for a
treaty of reciprocity; and it is when sugar is low-priced at San Francisco
that the small company of annexationists raises its voice, and sometimes
threatens to raise its flag.

There is room on the different islands for about seventy-five or eighty
more plantations on the scale now common; and there are, I think, still
excellent opportunities for making plantations. The sugar lands unoccupied
are not high-priced; and men skilled in this industry, and with sufficient
capital, can do well there, and live in a delightful climate and among
pleasant society, in a country where, as I have before said, life and
property are more absolutely secure than anywhere else in the world. But
I strongly advise every one to avoid debt. It has been the curse of the
planters, even of those who have kept out of debt, for it has prevented
such unity of action among them as must have before this enabled them to
effect important improvements. For instance, were they out of debt there
is no reason that I can see why they should not succeed in making their
market in Honolulu, and drawing purchasers thither instead of sending
their sugar to far-off markets at their own risk and expense. If ships can
afford to sail in ballast to more distant islands for guano, calling at
Honolulu on the way, it is reasonable to suppose they could afford to come
thither for the more valuable sugar cargoes.

[Illustration: WAILUKU, ISLAND OF MAUI.]

The planters err, I think, in not planting the mountain sides, wherever
these are accessible and have soil, with trees. The forests of the country
are rapidly disappearing, especially from the higher plains and the
grass-bearing slopes. Not only is the wood cut for burning, but the cattle
browse down the young growth; and a pestilent grub has of late attacked
the older trees and destroyed them in great numbers. Already complaints
are heard of the greater dryness and infertility of certain localities,
which I do not doubt comes from suffering the ground to become bare. At
several points I was told that the streams were permanently lower than
in former years--of course because evaporation goes on more rapidly
near their head waters now that the ground is bare. But little care
or forethought is exercised in such matters, however. A few extensive
plantations of trees have been made, notably by Captain Makee on Maui, who
has set out a large number of Australian gum trees. The universal habit
of letting cattle run abroad, and the dearness of lumber for fencing,
discourages tree planting, which yet will be found some day one of the
most profitable investments in the islands, I believe; and I was sorry to
see in many places cocoa-nut groves dying out of old age and neglect, and
no young trees planted to replace them.

It remains to describe to you the "contract labor" system by which the
sugar-plantations are carried on. This has been frequently and, as it
seems to me, unjustly abused as a system of slavery. The laborers hire
themselves out for a stated period, usually, in the case of natives, for
a year, and in the case of Chinese for five years. The contract runs in
English and in Hawaiian or Chinese, and is sufficiently simple. Thus:

"This Agreement, made and entered into this ---- day of ----, A.D.
18--, by and between the owners of the ---- plantation, in the
island of ----, party of the first part, and ---- ----, party of
the second part, witnesseth:

"I. The said party of the second part promises to perform such
labor upon the ---- plantation, in the district of ----, island of
----, as the said party of the first part shall direct, and that
he will faithfully and punctually perform the same as becomes a
good workman, and that he will obey all lawful commands of the
said party of the first part, their agents or overseers, during
the term of ---- months, each month to consist of twenty-six
working days.

"II. The party of the first part will well and truly pay, or cause
to be paid, unto the said party of the second part, at the end
of each month during which this contract shall remain in force,
compensation or wages at the rate of ---- dollars for each month,
if said party of the second part shall well and truly perform his
labor as aforesaid."

The law requires that this contract shall be signed before a notary
public. The wages are usually eight dollars per month and food, or eleven
dollars per month without food; from which you will see that three dollars
per month will buy sufficient poi, beef, and fish to support a native
laborer in these islands. The engagement is entirely voluntary; the men
understand what they contract to do, and in all the plantations where they
are well treated they re-enlist with great regularity. The vicious custom
of "advances" mentioned above has become a part of the system; it arose,
I suppose, from the fact that the natives who shipped as whalemen received
advance pay; and thus the plantation laborers demanded it too. The
laborers are commonly housed in detached cottages, and live with their
families, the women forming an important, irregular laboring force at
seasons when the work is hurried. But they are not "contract" laborers,
but paid by the day. It has been found the best plan on most of the
plantations to feed the people, and food is so cheap that it is supplied
without stint.

This system has been vigorously, but, I believe, wrongly, attacked. The
recent census is an uncommonly barren document; but there is strong reason
to believe that while there is a general decrease in the population, on
the plantations there is but little if any decrease. In fact, the Hawaiian
living in his valley on his kuliana or small holding, leads an extremely
irregular life. He usually sups at midnight, sleeps a good deal during
the day, and has much idle time on his hands. On the plantations he works
regularly and not too hard, eats at stated intervals, and sleeps all
night. This regularity conduces to health. Moreover, he receives prompt
and sufficient medical attendance, he lives a more social and interesting
life, and he is as well fed, and mostly better lodged. There are very few
instances of abuse or cruelty; indeed, a plantation manager said to me,
"If I were to wrong or abuse one of my men, he would persuade a dozen or
twenty others not to re-enlist when their terms are out, and would
fatally embarrass me;" for it is not easy to get laborers.

There is good reason to believe, therefore, that the plantation laborers
are healthier, more prosperous, and just as happy as those who live
independently; and it is a fact that on most of the islands the greater
part of the younger people are found on the plantations. Churches are
established on or very near all the sugar estates, and the children
are rigorously kept at school there as elsewhere. The people take their
newspaper, discuss their affairs, and have usually a leader or two among
the foremen. On one plantation one of the foremen in the field was pointed
out to me: he was a member of the Legislature.

There is a good deal of complaint of a scarcity of labor. If more
plantations were opened it would be necessary to import laborers; but
for the present, it seems to me, the supply is not deficient. Doubtless,
however, many planters would extend their operations if they could get
workmen readily. Chinese have been brought over, though not in great
numbers; and of late the absurd and cruel persecution of these people in
California has driven several hundred to take refuge in the Islands, where
they are kindly treated and can live comfortably.

The machinery used in the sugar-houses is usually of the best; the larger
plantations all use vacuum-pans; and the planters are usually intelligent
gentlemen, familiar with the best methods of producing sugar, and with the
latest improvements. Yet it is a question whether the expensive machinery
is not in the long run a disadvantage, as it disables them from profitably
making those low grades of sugar which can be cheaply turned out with the
help of an "open train," and which appear to have, in these days, the most
ready sale and the best market.




Kauai lies farthest to leeward of the main islands of the Hawaiian group;
the steamer visits it usually but once a month; and the best way to see
it without unnecessary waste of time is to take passage in a schooner, so
timing your visit as to leave you a week or ten days on the island before
the steamer arrives to carry you back.

We took passage on a little sugar schooner, the _Fairy Queen_, of about
seventy-five tons, commanded by a smart native captain, and sailing one
afternoon about two o'clock, and sleeping comfortably on deck wrapped in
rugs, were landed at Waimea the following morning at day-break.

When you travel on one of these little native schooners you must provide
food for yourself, for poi and a little beef or fish make up the sea
ration as well as the land food of the Hawaiian. In all other respects you
may expect to be treated with the most distinguished consideration and
the most ready and thoughtful kindness by captain and crew; and the
picturesque mountain scenery of Oahu, which you have in sight so long as
daylight lasts, and the lovely star-lit night, with its soft gales and
warm air, combine to make the voyage a delightful adventure.

As usual in these Islands, a church was the first and most conspicuous
landmark which greeted our eyes in the morning. Abundant groves of
cocoa-nuts, for which the place is famous, assured us of a refreshing
morning draught. The little vessel was anchored off the shore, and our
party, jumping into a whale-boat, were quickly and skillfully steered
through the slight surf which pours upon the beach. The boat was pulled
upon the black sand; and the lady who was of my party found herself
carried to the land in the stout arms of the captain; while the rest of us
watched our chance, and, as the waves receded, leaped ashore, and managed
to escape with dry feet. The sun had not yet risen; the early morning was
a little overcast. A few natives, living on the beach, gathered around
and watched curiously the landing of our saddles and saddle-bags from the
boat; presently that pushed off, and our little company sat down upon an
old spar, and watched the schooner as she hoisted sails and bore away for
her proper port, while we waited for the appearance of a native person
of some authority to whom a letter had been directed, requesting him to
provide us with horses and a guide to the house of a friend with whom we
intended to breakfast. Presently three or four men came galloping along
the beach, one of whom, a burly Hawaiian, a silver shield on whose jacket
announced him a local officer of police, reported that he was at our
service with as many horses as we needed.


It is one of the embarrassing incidents of travel on these Islands that
there are no hotels or Inns outside of Honolulu and Hilo. Whether he will
or no the traveler must accept the hospitality of the residents, and
this is so general and so boundless that it would impose a burdensome
obligation, were it not offered in such a kindly and graceful way as to
beguile you into the belief that you are conferring as well as receiving
a favor. Nor is the foreigner alone generous; for the native too, if you
come with a letter from his friend at a distance, places himself and all
he has at your service. When we had reached our friend's house, I asked
my conductor, the policeman, what I should pay him for the use of three
horses and his own services. He replied that he was but too happy to have
been of use to me, as I was the friend of his friend. I managed to force
upon him a proper reward for his attention, but I am persuaded that he
would have been content without.

Kauai is probably the oldest of the Hawaiian group; according to the
geologists it was the first thrown up; the bottom of the ocean began to
crack, up there to the north-west, and the rent extended gradually in the
south-easterly direction necessary to produce the other islands. It would
seem that Kauai must be a good deal older than Hawaii; for, whereas the
latter is covered with undecayed lava and has two active volcanoes, the
former has a rich and deep covering of soil, and, except in a few places,
there are no very plain or conspicuous cones or craters. Of course the
whole island bears the clearest traces of its volcanic origin; and near
Koloa there are three small craters in a very good state of preservation.

Having thus more soil than the other islands, Kauai has also more grass;
being older, not only are its valleys somewhat richer, but its mountains
are also more picturesque than those of Maui and Hawaii, as also they are
much lower. The roads are excellent for horsemen, and for the most part
practicable for carriages, of which, however, there are none to be hired.

The best way to see the island is to land, as we did, at Waimea; ride to
a singular spot called the "barking sands"--a huge sand-hill, gliding down
which you hear a dull rumble like distant thunder, probably the result of
electricity. On the way you meet with a mirage, remarkable for this that
it is a constant phenomenon--that is to say, it is to be seen daily at
certain hours, and is the apparition of a great lake, having sometimes
high waves which seem to submerge the cattle which stand about,
apparently, in the water.

From the sands you return to Waimea, and can ride thence next day to Koloa
in the forenoon, and to Na-Wiliwili in the afternoon. The following day's
ride will bring you to Hanalei, a highly picturesque valley which lies on
the rainy side of the island, Waimea being on the dry side. At Hanalei
you should take the steamer and sail in her around the Palis of Kauai, a
stretch of precipitous cliff twenty-five miles long, the whole of which is
inaccessible from the sea, except by the native people in canoes; and
many parts of which are very lovely and grand. Thus voyaging, you will
circumnavigate the island, returning to Na-Wiliwili, and thence in a night
to Honolulu.

It is easy and pleasant to see Kauai, taking a store of provisions with
you and lodging in native houses. But if you have made some acquaintances
in Honolulu you will be provided with letters of introduction to some of
the hospitable foreign families on this island; and thus the pleasure of
your visit will be greatly increased. I do not, I trust, violate the
laws of hospitality if I say something here of one of these families--the
owners of the little island of Niihau, who have also a charming residence
in the mountains of Kauai. They came to Honolulu ten or twelve years
ago from New Zealand in a ship of their own, containing not only their
household goods, but also some valuable sheep. Thus fitted out they were
sailing over the world, looking for such a little empire to own as they
found in Niihau; and here they settled, selling their ship; and here they
remain, prospering, and living a quiet, peaceful, Arcadian life, with
cattle and sheep on many hills, and with a pleasant, hospitable house,
where children and grandchildren are clustered together, and where the
stranger receives the heartiest of welcomes. It was a curious adventure to
undertake, this sailing over the great Pacific to seek out a proper home;
and I did not tire of listening to the account of their voyage and their
settlement in this new and out-of-the-way land, from the cheery and
delightful grandmother of the family, a Scotch lady, full of the sturdy
character of her country people, and altogether one of the pleasantest
acquaintances I made on the Islands.


Kauai has many German residents, mostly, like these Scotch people I
have spoken of, persons of education and culture, who have brought their
libraries with them, and on whose tables and shelves you may see the best
of the recent literature, as well as the best of the old. A New Yorker who
imagines, cockney-like, that civilization does not reach beyond the sound
of Trinity chimes is startled out of this foolish fancy when he finds
among the planters and missionaries here, as in other parts of these
Islands, men and women of genuine culture maintaining all the essential
forms as well as the realities of civilization; yet living so free
and untrammeled a life that he who comes from the high-pressure social
atmosphere of New York can not help but envy these happy mortals, who seem
to have the good without the worry of civilization, and who have caught
the secret of how to live simply and yet gently.

Kauai has four or five sugar-plantations, some of which are now
successful, though they were not always so. Success has been attained by
a resolute expenditure of money in irrigation ditches, which have made
the land yield constant and remunerative crops. But I could see here, as
elsewhere, that close and careful management--the eye of the master and
the hand of the master--insured the success.

But a large part of the island is given up to cattle. In the mountains
they have gone wild, and parties are made to hunt and shoot these. But on
the plains, of course, they are owned and herded. The raising of cattle is
an important and considerable business on all the Islands; and at present,
I believe, the cattle owners are making a good deal of money. In 1871,
19,384 hides were exported, as well as 185,240 pounds of tallow, 58,900
goat skins, and 471,706 pounds of wool.

The market for beef is limited, and the stockman boils down his beeves.
In many cases the best machinery is used for this purpose; the boiling is
done in closed vessels, and the business is carried on with precision. It
seemed to me, who remembered the high price of beef in our Eastern States,
like a sad waste to see a hundred head of fat steers driven into a corral,
and one after the other knocked on the head, slaughtered, skinned, cut up,
and put into the boilers to be turned into tallow. But it is the only use
to make of the beasts. The refuse, however, is here always wasted, which
appeared to me unnecessary, for it might well be applied to the enrichment
of the pastures.

On many of the ranches you see open try pots used; it is a more wasteful
process, I imagine, but it is simpler and requires a smaller expenditure
of capital for machinery. The cattle are managed here, as in California,
on horseback and with the help of the lasso; and he who on our Pacific
coast is called a _vaquero_, or cow-herd, is here known as a "Spaniol."
Such a native man is pointed out to you as an excellent Spaniol. This
comes from the fact that in the early days of cattle-raising here the
natives knew nothing of their management, and Spaniards had to be imported
from California to teach them the business. The native people now make
excellent vaqueros; they are daring horsemen, and as they work cheaply
and are easily fed and lodged, the management of cattle costs less here,
I imagine, than even in California. But it is necessary to take care that
the pastures shall not be overstocked; and the vast number of horses kept
by the natives is on all the Islands a serious injury to the pasturage of
both sheep and cattle.

The Hawaiian, who seventy-five years ago did not know that there existed
such a creature as a horse, and even fifty years ago beheld it as a
rarity, now can not live without this beast. There are probably more
horses than people on the Islands; and the native family is poor, indeed,
which has not two or three hardy, rough, grass-fed ponies, easy to ride,
sometimes tricky but more often quite trustworthy, and capable of living
where a European donkey would die in disgust. At a horse auction you see a
singular collection of good and bad horses; and it is one of the jokes of
the Islands to go to a horse auction and buy a horse for a quarter of a
dollar. The Government has vainly tried to put a check to the reckless
increase of horseflesh by laying a tax on these animals, and by impounding
them if the tax is not paid. I was told of a planter who bought on one
occasion fifty horses out of a pound, at twenty-five cents a head, and had
them all shot and put into a manure pile. But if the horse is worth his
tax it is pretty certain to be paid; and it is not easy to keep them off
the pastures.

Cattle ranchos usually extend over from fifteen to thirty thousand acres
of land; though many are smaller, and some, on Hawaii, larger. The grass
is of different varieties, but the most useful, as well as now the most
abundant, is the _manienie_, of which I have before made mention. Horses
and sheep, as well as cattle, become very fond of this grass, and eat it
down very close. The handling of the cattle is intrusted to native people,
who live on the rancho or estate; and the planter or stock farmer has
an advantage, in these Islands, in finding a laboring population living
within the bounds of his own place. The large estates were formerly the
property of the chiefs. They are the old "lands." But when the kuliana law
was made, the common people were allowed to take out for themselves such
small holdings as they held in actual cultivation. These kulianas they
still hold; and thus it often happens that within the bounds of a large
estate fifty or sixty families will live on their little freeholds;
and these form a natural and cheap laboring force for the plantation or

On the Island of Niihau, I was told, there are still about three hundred
native people. The sheep are allowed to run at large on the island, there
being no wild animals to disturb them; at lambing and shearing times the
proprietors hire their native tenants to do the necessary work; and these
people at other times fish, raise water-melons and other fruits, and make
mats which are famous for their fine texture and softness, and sell at
handsome prices even in Honolulu.

Where, as is the case almost universally, the relations between the
stockman and the native people are kindly, there is a reciprocity of good
offices, and a ready service from the people, in return for management and
protection by the great proprietor, which is mutually agreeable, and in
which the proprietor stands in some such relation to the people as the
chief in old times, though of course with not a tithe of the power the
ancient rulers had.

At Kauai you will also see rice growing. This is one of the products which
is rapidly increasing in the Islands. Of rice and paddy, or unhulled rice,
the exports were in 1871, 417,011 pounds of the first, and 867,452 of
the last. In 1872 there were exported 455,121 pounds of rice and 894,382
pounds of paddy.

The taro patches make excellent rice fields; and it is an industry in
which the Chinese, who understand it, invest their savings. They employ
native labor; and it is not uncommon to find that a few Chinese have hired
all the taro patches in a valley from their native owners, and then
employ these natives to work for them; an arrangement which is mutually
beneficial, and agreeable besides to the Hawaiian, who has not much of
what we call "enterprise," and does not care to accumulate money. The
windward side of the Islands of Oahu and Kauai produces a great deal of
rice, and this is one of the products which promises to increase largely.
The rice is said to be of excellent quality.

[Illustration: IMPLEMENTS. _a_, Calabash for _poi_.--_b_, Calabash for
fish.--_c_, Water bottle.--_d_, _Poi_ mallets.--_e_, _Poi_ trough.--_f_,
Native bracelet.--_g_, Fiddle.--_h_, Flute.--_i i_, Drums.]

Kauai contained once the most important coffee-plantations; and the large
sugar-plantation of Princeville at Hanalei was originally planted
in coffee. But this tree or shrub is so subject to the attacks of a
leaf-blight that the culture has decreased. Yet coffee grows wild in many
of the valleys and hills, and here and there you find a small plantation
of a few hundred trees which does well. The coffee shrub thrives best in
these Islands among the lava rock, where there seems scarcely any soil;
and it must be sheltered from winds and also from the sun. I have seen
some young plantations placed in the midst of forests where the trees gave
a somewhat dense shade, and these seemed to grow well.

[Illustration: GRASS HOUSE.]



As we rode one day near the sea-shore I heard voices among the rocks, and
sending the guide ahead with the horses, I walked over to the shore
with the lady and children who were my companions. There we saw a sight
characteristic of these islands. Three women decently clothed in a garment
which covered them from head to foot, and a man with only a breech-clout
on, were dashing into the surf, picking up sea-moss, and a little univalve
shell, a limpet, which they flung into small baskets which hung from their
shoulders. They were, in fact, getting their suppers, and they were
quite as much surprised at our appearance as we at theirs. They came out
politely, and showed the children what was in their baskets; the man,
understanding that our horses had gone ahead, kindly volunteered to pilot
us over the rocks to a village near by. I do not imagine that he was
embarrassed at his lack of clothing, and after the first shock of surprise
I am quite sure we were more inclined to admire his straight muscular
figure and his shining dark skin than to complain of his nakedness.
Presently, however, he slipped away into the bush, and re-appeared in a
hat, and a shirt which was so short that even my little girl burst into
laughter at this ridiculous and futile effort toward decency; and thus
arrayed, and with the kindly and gracious smile which illuminates a
Hawaiian's face when he puts himself to some trouble on your account, this
funny guide led us to our horses.

In the evening I related this incident to our host, an old resident, and
said, "I suppose this man could read?" "Read!" he replied; "he can read
and write as well as you. I know him very well; he is a prosperous man,
and is to be the next justice of the peace in that district. He doubtless
went home and spent the remainder of the afternoon in reading his

Native life in the Islands is full of such contrasts, and I found, on
examining the labor contracts on several sugar-plantations, that almost
without exception the working people signed their own names.

According to a census taken in December, 1872, the Hawaiian Islands
contained 56,897 souls, of whom 51,531 were natives and half-castes, and
5366 were foreigners. In six years the native population had decreased
7234, and the foreigners had increased 1172. Since 1866, therefore, the
Islands have lost 6062 souls.

Of the foreigners the Chinese are the most numerous, outnumbering all the
other foreign nationalities together except the Americans. Chinese have
been brought over here as coolie laborers on the plantations. They readily
intermarry with the native women, and these unions are usually fruitful
of healthy and bright children. It is said that the Chinese insist upon
taking better care of their children than the native women, uninstructed,
usually give them, and that therefore the Chinese half-caste families
are more thrifty than those of the pure blood Hawaiians. Moreover, the
Chinaman takes care of his wife. He endeavors to form her habits upon the
pattern of his own; and requires of her the performance of fixed duties,
which add to her happiness and health. In fact, the number of half-castes
of all races has increased thirty per cent. in the last six years.

The native population is admirably cared for by the authorities. The
Islands are divided for various governmental purposes into districts;
and in every district where the people are much scattered the government
places a physician--a man of skill and character--to whom it gives a
small salary for attending upon the common people, and he is, I believe,
expected to make a tour of his district at stated intervals. Of course he
is allowed to practice besides for pay. The sugar planters also usually
provide medical attendance for their laborers.

The Government maintains a careful guard over the schools. A compulsory
education law obliges parents, under fixed penalties, to send their
children to school; and besides the common or primary schools, there are a
number of academies, most of which receive some help from the Government,
while all are under Government supervision. The census gives the number of
children between six and fifteen years of age at 6931; and there are 324
teachers, or one teacher for every twenty-seven children in the whole
group. Attendance at school is, I suspect, more general here than in any
other country in the world. The last report of W.P. Kamakau, the President
of the Board of Education, made in March, 1872, returns 8287 children
actually attending upon 245 schools of various grades, 202 being common
schools. Under this system there is scarcely a Hawaiian of proper age who
can not both read and write.

Churches they maintain by voluntary effort, and their contributions are
very liberal. They take a pride in such organizations. Dr. Coan's native
church at Hilo contributes $1200 per year to foreign missions.

There are no beggars, and no public paupers except the insane, who are
cared for in an asylum near Honolulu, and the lepers, who are confined
upon a part of Molokai. The convicts and the boys in the reform school
contribute to their own support by their labor. The Queen's Hospital is
only for curable cases, and the people take care of their own infirm, aged
and otherwise incapable dependents.

It seems to me that very unusual judgment has been shown in the manner
in which benevolent and penal institutions have been created and managed
among these people; for the tendency almost everywhere in countries which
call themselves more highly civilized is to make the poor dependent
upon charity, and thus a fatal blow is struck at their character and
respectability. Here, partly of course because the means of living are
very abundant and easily got, but also, I think, because the government
has been wisely managed, the people have not been taught to look toward
public charity for relief; and though we Americans, who live in a big
country, are apt to think slightingly of what some one called a toy
kingdom, any one who has undertaken to manage or organize even a small
community at home will recognize the fact that it is a task beset by

But in these Islands a state, a society, has been created within a quarter
of a century, and it has been very ably done. I am glad that it has been
done mainly by Americans. Chief-justice Lee, now dead, but whose memory
is deservedly cherished here; Dr. Judd, who died in August, 1873; Mr. C.C.
Harris, lately Minister of Foreign Relations, and for many years occupying
different prominent positions in the Government; Dr. J. Mott Smith, lately
the Minister of Finance; Chief-justice Allen, and Mr. Armstrong, long at
the head of the Educational Department, the father of General Armstrong,
President of the Hampton University in Virginia, deserve, perhaps, the
chief credit for this work. They were the organizers who supplemented the
labors of the missionaries; and, fortunately for the native people, they
were all men of honor, of self-restraint, of goodness of heart, who knew
how to rule wisely and not too much, and who protected the people without
destroying their independence. What they have done would have given them
fame had it not been done two thousand miles from the nearest continent,
and at least five thousand from any place where reputations are made.

Of a total native population of 51,531, 6580 are returned by the census
as freeholders--more than one in every eight. Only 4772 are returned
as plantation laborers, and of these probably a third are Chinese; 2115
returned themselves as mechanics, which is a very large proportion of
the total able-bodied population. I believe that both freeholders and
mechanics find employment on the plantations as occasional laborers.

A people so circumstanced, well taught in schools, freeholders to a large
extent, living in a mild and salubrious climate, and with cheap and proper
food, ought not, one would say, to decrease. There are, of course, several
reasons for their very rapid decrease, and all of them come from contact
with the whites. These brought among them diseases which have corrupted
their blood, and made them infertile and of poor stamina. But to this,
which is the chief cause, must be added, I suspect, another less generally

The deleterious habit of wearing clothes has, I do not doubt, done much to
kill off the Hawaiian people. If you think for a moment, you will see
that to adopt civilized habits was for them to make a prodigious change in
their ways of life. Formerly the maro and the slight covering of the tapa
alone shielded them from the sun and rain. Their bodies became hardy
by exposure. Their employments--fishing, taro-planting, tapa-making,
bird-catching, canoe-making--were all laborious, and pursued out-of-doors.
Their grass houses, with openings for doors and windows, were, at any
rate, tolerably well ventilated. Take the man accustomed thus to live,
and put shoes on his feet, a hat on his head, a shirt on his back, and
trowsers about his legs, and lodge him in a house with close-shutting
doors and windows, and you expose his constitution to a very serious
strain, especially in a country where there is a good deal of rain. Being,
after all, but half civilized, he will probably sleep in a wet shirt, or
cumber his feet with wet shoes; he will most likely neglect to open his
windows at night, and poison himself and his family with bad air, to the
influence of which, besides, his unaccustomed lungs will be peculiarly
liable; he will live a less active life under his changed conditions; and
altogether the poor fellow must have an uncommonly fine constitution to
resist it all and escape with his life. At the best, his system will be
relaxed, his power of resistance will be lessened, his chances of recovery
will be diminished in the same degree as his chances of falling ill are
increased. If now you throw in some special disease, corrupting the blood,
and transmitted with fatal certainty to the progeny, the wonder is that a
people so situated have not died out in a single generation.

In fact they have died out pretty fast, though there is reason to believe
that the mortality rate has largely decreased in the last three years;
and careful observers believe even that in the last year there has been
an actual increase, rather than a decrease in the native and half caste
population. In 1832 the Islands had a population of 130,315 souls; in
1836 there were but 108,579; in 1840, only 84,165, of whom 1962 were
foreigners; in 1850, 69,800, of whom 3216 were foreigners; and in 1860,
62,959, of whom 4194 were foreigners. The native population has decreased
over sixty per cent. in forty years.

In the same period the foreigners have increased very slowly, until there
are now in all 5366 foreigners and persons born here, but of foreign
parentage, on the Islands. You will see that while the Hawaiians have so
rapidly decreased that all over the Islands you notice, in waste fields
and desolate house places, the marks of this loss, foreigners have not
been attracted to fill up their places. And this in spite of the facts
that the climate is mild and healthful, the price of living cheap, the
Government liberal, the taxes low, and life and property as secure as in
any part of the world. One would think that a country which offers all
these advantages must be a paradise for poor men; and I do not wonder that
in the United States there is frequent talk of "annexing the Islands."
But, in fact, they offer no advantages, aside from those I have named, to
white settlers, and they have such serious natural disabilities as will
always--or, at least, for the next two or three millions of years--repel
our American people, and all other white settlers.

In the first place, there is very little of what we call agricultural
land on the Islands. They are only mountains rising from the sea, with
extremely little alluvial bottom, and that usually cut up by torrents, and
water-washed into gulches, until it is difficult in many parts to find
a fair field of even fifty acres. From these narrow bottoms, where they
exist, you look into deep gorges or valleys, out of which issue the
streams which force their way through the lower fields into the sea.
These valleys are never extensive, and are always very much broken and
contracted. They are useless for common agricultural purposes. In several
the culture of coffee has been begun; but they are so inaccessible, the
roads into them are so difficult, and the area of arable soil they contain
is, after all, so insignificant, that, even for so valuable a product as
coffee, transportation is found to be costly.

But it is along and in the streams which rush through the bottoms of these
narrow gorges that the Hawaiian is most at home. Go into any of these
valleys, and you will see a surprising sight: along the whole narrow
bottom, and climbing often in terraces the steep hill-sides, you will see
the little taro patches, skillfully laid so as to catch the water, either
directly from the main stream, or from canals taking water out above.

Such a taro patch oftenest contains a sixteenth, less frequently an eighth
of an acre. It consists of soil painfully brought down from above, and
secured by means of substantial stone walls, plastered with mud and
covered with grass, strong enough to resist the force of the torrent. Each
little patch or flat is so laid that a part of the stream shall flow over
it without carrying away the soil; indeed, it is expected to leave some
sediment. And as you look up such a valley you see terrace after terrace
of taro rising before you, the patches often fifty or sixty feet above the
brawling stream, but each receiving its proper proportion of water.

Near by or among these small holdings stand the grass houses of the
proprietors, and you may see them and their wives, their clothing tucked
up, standing over their knees in water, planting or cultivating the crop.
Here the Hawaiian is at home. His horse finds its scanty living on the
grass which fringes the taro patches; indeed, you may see horses here
standing belly deep in fresh water, and feeding on the grasses which grow
on the bottom; and again you find horses raised in the drier parts of
the islands that do not know what water is, never having drunk any thing
wetter than the dew on the grass. Among the taro patches the house place
is as narrow as a fishing schooner's deck--"two steps and overboard." If
you want to walk, it must be on the dikes within which the taro land is
confined; and if you ride, it must be in the middle of the rapid mountain
torrent, or along a narrow bridle-path high up on the precipitous side of
the mountain.

Down near the shore are fish ponds, with wicker gates which admit the
small fry from the sea, but keep in the large fish. Many of these ponds
are hundreds of acres in area, and from them the Hawaiian draws one of
his favorite dishes. Then there may be cocoa-nuts; there are sure to be
bananas and guavas. Beef costs but a trifle, and hogs fatten on taro. The
pandanus furnishes him material for his mats, and of mats he makes his
bed, as well as the floor of his house.

In short, such a gorge or valley as I have tried to describe to you
furnishes in its various parts, including the sea-shore, all that is
needed to make the Hawaiian prosperous; and I have not seen one which
had not its neatly kept school-house and church, and half a dozen framed
houses scattered among the humbler grass huts, to mark the greater wealth
of some--for the Hawaiian holds that the wooden house is a mark of thrift
and respectability.

But the same valley which now supports twenty or thirty native families in
comfort and happiness, and which, no doubt, once yielded food and all the
appliances of life in abundance to one or two hundred, would not tempt any
white man of any nation in the world to live in it, and a thousand such
gorges would not add materially to the prosperity of any white nation.
That is to say, the country is admirably adapted to its native people.
It favors, as it doubtless compelled and formed, all their habits and
customs. But it would repel any one else, and an American farmer would not
give a hundred dollars for the whole Wailuku Valley--if he had to live in
it and work it--though it would be worth many thousands to the natives if
it were once more populous as of old.

As you examine the works of the old Hawaiians, their fish ponds, their
irrigation canals, their long miles of walls inclosing ponds and taro
fields, you will not only see the proofs that the Islands were formerly
far more populous than now, but you will get a respect for the feudal
system of which these works are the remains.

The Hawaiian people, when they first became known to the world, were
several stages removed from mere savagery. They had elaborated a tolerably
perfect system of government and of land tenure, which has since been
swept away, as was inevitable, but which served its day very well indeed.
Under this system the chiefs owned every thing. The common people were
their retainers--followers in war and servants in peace. The chief,
according to an old Hawaiian proverb, owned "all the land, all the sea,
and all the iron cast up by the sea."

[Illustration: HAWAIIAN WARRIORS.]

The land was carefully parceled out among the chiefs, upon the plan of
securing to each one from his own land all that he and his retainers
needed for their lives. What they chiefly required was taro ground, the
sea for fish, the mulberry for tapa, and timber land for canoes; but they
required also _ti_ leaves in which to wrap their parcels, and flowers of
which to make their _les_, or flower necklaces. And I have seen modern
surveys of old "lands" in which the lines were run very irregularly, and
in some cases oven outlying patches were added, because a straight line
from mountain to sea was found to exclude some one product, even so
trifling as the yellow flowers of which _les_ are often made.

On such a "land," and from it, the chief and his people lived. He appears
to have been the brains and they the hands to work it. They owed him two
days' labor in every seven, in which they cultivated his taro, cleaned his
fish pond, caught fish for him, opened paths, made or transported canoes,
and did generally what he required. The remainder of the time was their
own, to cultivate such patches of taro as he allowed them to occupy, or to
do what they pleased. For any important public work he could call out all
his people, and oblige them to labor as long as he chose, and thus were
built the surprisingly solid and extensive walls which inclose the old
fish ponds, and many irrigating canals which show not only long continued
industry, but quite astonishing skill for so rude a people.

The chief was supreme ruler over his people; they lived by his tolerance,
for they owned absolutely nothing, neither land, nor house, nor food, nor
wife, nor child. A high chief was approached only with abject gestures,
and no one dared resist his acts or dispute his will. The sense of
obedience must have been very strong, for it has survived every change;
and only the other day a friend of mine saw a Hawaiian lady, a chiefess,
but the wife of an American, and herself tenderly nurtured and a woman of
education and refinement, boxing the ears of a tall native, whom she had
caught furiously abusing his wife, and the man bore his punishment as
meekly as a child. "Why?" "He knows I am his chief, and he would not dare
raise even an angry look toward me; he would not think of it, even," was
her reply, when she was asked how she had courage to interfere in what was
a very violent quarrel. Yet the present law recognizes no allegiance due
to a chief.

When the young king Lunalilo returned to the palace after the coronation,
the pipe-bearer, an old native retainer, approached him on his knees,
and was shocked at being ordered to get up and act like a man. The older
natives to this day approach a chief or chiefess only with humble and
deprecatory bows; and wherever a chief or chiefess travels, the native
people along the road make offerings of the fruits of the ground, and
even of articles of clothing and adornment. One of the curious sights
of Honolulu to us travelers, last spring, was to see long processions of
native people, men, women, and children, marching to the palace to
lay their offerings before the king, who is a high chief. Each brought
something--a man would walk gravely along with a pig under his arm; after
him followed perhaps a little child with half a dozen bananas, a woman
with a chicken tied by a string, a girl with a handkerchief full of eggs,
a boy with a cocoa-nut, an old woman with a calabash of poi, and so on.
In the palace yard all this was laid in a heap before the young king, who
thereupon said thank you, and, with a few kind words, dismissed the people
to their homes.

As an illustration of the power of the old chiefs, as well as of the
density of the population in former times, it is related that when the
wall inclosing a certain fish pond on the windward side of Oahu was to be
built, the chief then ruling over that land gave notice that on a certain
day every man, woman, and child within his domain must appear at a
designated point, bearing a stone. The wall, which stands yet, is half a
mile long, well built, and probably six feet high; and it was begun and
completed in that one day.

[Illustration: LUNALILO.]

I was shown, on Kauai, a young man of insignificant appearance, and of no
particular merit or force of character. To him an old woman recently dying
had by a will, written out for her by a friend of my own, left all her
property--a taro patch, a house, and some other land. My friend asked
why. He is my chief, was the reply; and sure enough, on inquiry my friend
discovered, what he had not before known, that the man was a descendant
of one of the chief families, of whom this old woman had in her early days
been a subject.

As the chief was the ruler, the people looked to him for food in a time of
scarcity. He directed their labors; he protected them against wrong from
others; and as it was his pride that his retainers should be more numerous
and more prosperous than those of the neighboring chief, if the head
possessed brains, no doubt the people were made content. Food was
abundant; commerce was unknown; the chief could not eat or waste more than
his people could easily produce for him; and until disturbing causes came
in with Captain Cook, no doubt feudalism wrought satisfactory results
here. One wonders how it was invented among such a people, or who it was
that first had genius enough to insist on obedience, to make rules, to
prescribe the tabu, and, in short, to evolve order out of chaos.

The tabu was a most ingenious and useful device; and when you hear of the
uses to which it was put, and of its effectiveness, you feel surprised
that it was not found elsewhere as an appurtenance of the feudal
machinery. Thus the chief allowed his people to fish in the part of the
ocean which he owned--which fronted his "land," that is to say. He tabued
one or two kinds of fish, however; these they were forbidden to catch; but
as a fisherman can not, even in these islands, exercise a choice as to the
fish which shall enter his net or bite at his hook, it followed that the
tabued fish were caught--but then they were at once rendered up to the
chief. One variety of taro, which makes poi of a pink color, was tabued
and reserved for the chiefs. Some birds were tabued on account of their
feathers; one especially, a black bird which has a small yellow feather
under each wing. The great feather cloak of Kamehameha I., which is
still kept as a sign of royalty, is made of these feathers, and contains
probably several thousand of them, thus gathered, two from each bird.

Further, a tabu prohibited women from eating with men, even with their
husbands; and when, on the death of the first Kamehameha, his Queen
Kahumanu, an energetic and fearless virago, dared for the first time to
eat with her son, a cry of horror went up as though "great Pan was dead;"
and this bold act really broke the power of the heathen priests.

A tabu forbade women to eat cocoa nuts and some other articles of food;
and the prohibition appears to have been used also to compel sanitary and
other useful restraints, for I have been told that a tabu preserved girls
from marriage until they had attained a certain age, eighteen, I believe;
and to this and some other similar regulations, rigorously enforced in the
old times, I have heard old residents attribute the fertility of the race
before foreigners came in.

[Illustration: KAMEHAMEHA I.]

He who violated a tabu was at once killed. Capital punishment seems to
have been an effective restraint upon crime among these savages, contrary
to the theories of some modern philosophers; probably it was effective for
two reasons, because it was prompt and because it was certain. One wonders
how long the tabu would have been respected, had a violator of it been
lodged in jail for eighteen months, allowed to appeal his case through
three courts, and at last been brained amidst the appeals for mercy of
the most respectable people of his tribe, and had his funeral ceremonies
performed by the high-priest, and closed with a eulogy upon his character,
and insinuations against the sound judgment and uprightness of the chief
who ordered the execution.

The first Kamehameha, who seems to have been a savage of considerable
merit, and a firm believer in capital punishment, subdued the Islands to
his own rule, but he did not aim to break the power of the chiefs over
their people. He established a few general laws, and insisted on peace,
order, and obedience to himself. By right of his conquest all lands were
supposed to be owned by him; he gave to one chief and took away from
another; he rewarded his favorites, but he did not alter the condition of
the people.

[Illustration: QUEEN OF KAMEHAMEHA I.]

But as traders came in, as commerce began, as money came into use, the
feudal system began to be oppressive. Sandal-wood was long one of the
most precious products of these islands--their Chinese name, indeed, is
"Sandal-wood Islands." The chiefs, greedy for money, or for what the ships
brought, forced their unhappy retainers into the mountains to gather this
wood. Exposed to cold, badly fed, and obliged to bear painful burdens,
they died in great numbers, so that it was a blessing to the Islanders
when the wood became scarce. Again, supplies of food were sold by the
chiefs to the ships, and this necessitated unusual labor from the people.
One famous chief for years used his retainers to tow ships into the narrow
harbor of Honolulu, sending them out on the reef, where, up to their
middle in water, they shouldered the tow-line.

Thus when, in 1848; the king, at the instance of that excellent man and
upright judge, Chief-justice Lee, gave the kuliana rights, he relieved the
people of a sore oppression, and at a single blow destroyed feudalism.
The kuliana is the individual holding. Under the kuliana law each native
householder became entitled to the possession in fee of such land as
he had occupied, or chose to occupy and cultivate. He had only to make
application to a government officer, have the tract surveyed, and pay a
small sum to get the title. It is creditable to the chiefs that, under the
influence of the missionaries, they consented to this important change,
fully knowing that it meant independence to the common people and an end
of all feudal rights; but it must be added that a large part of their
lands remained in their hands, making them, of course, still wealthy

Thus the present system of land tenure on the Islands is much the same as
our own; but the holdings of the common people are generally small, and
the chiefs, or their successors in many cases foreigners, still maintain
their right to the sea fisheries as against all who live outside the old
boundaries of their own "lands."

The families of most of the great chiefs have become extinct. Their wealth
became a curse to them when foreigners came in with foreign vices and
foreign luxuries. They are said to have been remarkable as men and women
of extraordinary stature and of uncommon perfection of form. I have been
told of many chiefesses nearly or quite six feet in height, and many
chiefs from six feet two inches to six feet six, and in one case six feet
seven inches high. There is no reason to doubt the universal testimony
that they were, as a class, taller and finer-looking than the common
people; but the older missionaries and residents believe that this arose
not from their being of a different race, but because they were absolutely
relieved from hard work, were more abundantly and carefully fed, and used
the lomi-lomi constantly. It is supposable, too, that in the wars which
prevailed among the tribes the weaklings, if any such were among the
chiefs, were pretty sure to be killed off; and thus a natural selection
went on which weeded out the small and inefficient chiefs.

Their government appears to have been a "despotism tempered by
assassination," for great as was the respect exacted by a chief, and
implicit as was the obedience he commanded, if he pushed his tyranny too
far, his people rose and slew him. Thus on Kauai, in the lower part of
the Hanapepe Valley, a huge cliff is shown, concerning which the tradition
runs that it was once the residence of the chief who ruled this valley.
This person, with a Titanic and Rabelaisian humor, was accustomed to
descend into the valley in the evening, seize a baby and carry it to his
stronghold to serve him as a pillow. Having slept upon it he slew it next
morning; and thus with a refinement of luxury he required a fresh baby
every evening. When patience had ceased to be a virtue, according to our
more modern formula, the people went up one night and knocked his brains
out; and there was a change of dynasties.


The Hawaiian of the present day reads his Bible and newspaper, writes
letters, wears clothes, owns property, serves in the Legislature or
Parliament, votes, teaches school, acts as justice of the peace and even
as judge, is tax collector and assessor, constable and preacher. In spite
of all this, or rather with it, he retains the oddest traces of the habits
and customs of another age. For instance, he will labor for wages; but
he will persistently and for years give away to his relations all his pay
except what he needs for his actual subsistence, and if he is prosperous
he is pretty sure to have quite a swarm of people to support. A lady told
me that having repeatedly clothed her nurse in good apparel, and finding
this liberal soul, every time, in a day or two reduced to her original
somewhat shabby clothing, she at last reproached her for her folly. "What
can I do?" the woman replied; "they come and ask me for the holaku, or the
handkerchief, or whatever I have. Suppose you say they are yours--then
I will not give them away." Accordingly, the next new suit was formally
declared to belong to the mistress: it was not given away. An old woman,
kept chiefly for her skill in lomi-lomi by an American family, asked her
master one day for ten dollars. He gave her two five-dollar gold pieces,
and, to his amazement, saw her hand them over immediately, one to a little
girl and one to a boy, who had evidently come to get the money--not for
her use at all. A cook in my own family asked for the wages due him, which
he had been saving for some time; he received forty-four dollars, and gave
the whole amount at once to his father-in-law, who had come from another
island on purpose to get this money. Nor was it grudged to him, so far as
any of us could see. "By-and-by, if we are poor and in need, they will do
as much for us," is the excuse.

As you ride along in the country, you will see your guide slyly putting a
stone or a bunch of grass on a ledge near some precipice. If you look, you
will see other objects of the same kind lying there. Ask him about it and
he will tell you, with a laugh, that his forefathers in other times did
so, and he does the same. It is, in fact, a peace offering to the
local divinity of the place. Is he, then, an idolater? Not at all; not
necessarily, at least. He is under the compulsion of an old custom; and
he will even tell you that it is all nonsense. The same force leads him
to treat with respect and veneration a chief or chiefess even if abjectly
poor, though before the law the highest chief is no better than the common

They are hearty and even gross feeders; and probably the only
christianized people who live almost entirely on cold victuals. A Hawaiian
does not need a fire to prepare a meal; and at a _luau_, or feast, all the
food is served cold, except the pig, which ought to be hot.

Hospitable and liberal as he is in his daily life, when the Hawaiian
invites his friends to a _luau_ he expects them to pay. He provides for
them roast pig, poi, baked ti-root, which bears a startling resemblance in
looks and taste to New England molasses-cake; raw fish and shrimps, limu,
which is a sea-moss of villainous odor; kuulaau, a mixture of taro and
cocoa-nut, very nice; paalolo, a mixture of sweet-potato and cocoa-nut;
raw and cooked cuttle-fish, roast dog, sea-eggs, if they can be got; and,
if the feast is something above the ordinary, raw pickled salmon with
tomatoes and red-pepper.

The object of such a luau is usually to enable the giver to pay for his
new house, or to raise money for some private object of his own. Notice
of the coming feast is given months beforehand, as also of the amount each
visitor is expected to give. It will be a twenty-five cent, or a fifty
cent, or a dollar luau. The pigs--the centre-piece of the feast--have
been fattening for a year before. The affair is much discussed. It is
indispensable that all who attend shall come in brand-new clothing, and a
native person will rather deny himself the feast than appear in garments
which have been worn before. A few of the relatives of the feast-giver act
as stewards, and they must be dressed strictly alike. At one luau which I
had the happiness to attend the six men who acted as stewards were arrayed
in green cotton shirts and crimson cotton trowsers, and had green wreaths
on their heads. I need not say that they presented a truly magnificent

To such a luau people ride thirty or forty miles; arriving often the
evening beforehand, in order to be early at the feast next day. When they
sit down each person receives his abundant share of pig, neatly wrapped in
ti-leaves; to the remainder of the food he helps himself as he likes. They
eat, and eat, and eat; they beat their stomachs with satisfaction; they
talk and eat; they ride about awhile, and eat again; they laugh, sing,
and eat. At last a man finds he can hold no more. He is "pau"--done. He
declares himself "mauna"--a mountain; and points to his abdomen in proof
of his statement. Then, unless he expects a recurrence of hunger, he
carefully wraps up the fragments and bones which remain of his portion
of pig, and these he must take with him. It would be the height of
impoliteness to leave them; and each visitor scrupulously takes away
every remaining bit of his share. If now you look you will see a calabash
somewhere in the middle of the floor, into which each, as he completes his
meal, put his quarter or half dollar.

In the evening there are dancing and singing, and then you may hear and
see the extremely dramatic meles of the Hawaiians--a kind of rapid chant,
the tones of which have a singular fascination for my ears. A man and
woman, usually elderly or middle-aged people, sit down opposite each
other, or side by side facing the company. One begins and the other
joins in; the sound is as of a shrill kind of drone; it is accompanied by
gesticulations; and each chant lasts about two or three minutes, and ends
in a jerk. The swaying of the lithe figures, the vehement and passionate
movements of the arms and head, the tragic intensity of the looks, and the
very peculiar music, all unite to fasten one's attention, and to make this
spectacle of mele singing, as I have said, singularly fascinating.

The language of the meles is a dialect now unused, and unintelligible even
to most of the people. The whole chant concerns itself, however, with a
detailed description of the person of the man or woman or child to which
or in whose honor it is sung. Thus a mele will begin with the hair, which
may be likened in beauty to the sea-moss found on a certain part of Kauai;
or the teeth, which "resemble the beautiful white pebbles which men pick
up on the beach of Kaalui Bay on Maui;" and so on. Indeed an ancient
Hawaiian mele is probably, in its construction, much like the Song of
Solomon; though I am told that the old meles concerned themselves with
personal details by no means suitable for modern ears. A mele is always
sung for or about some particular person. Thus I have heard meles for the
present king; meles for a man or woman present; meles for a chief; and on
one occasion I was told they sang a mele for me; and I judged, from the
laughter some parts of it excited, that my feelings were saved by my
ignorance of the language.

On all festive occasions, and on many others, the Hawaiian loves to dress
his head with flowers and green wreaths. Les or garlands are made of
several substances besides flowers; though the most favorite are composed
of jasmine flowers, or the brilliant yellow flowers of one kind of ginger,
which give out a somewhat overpowering odor. These are hung around the
neck. For the head they like to use wreaths of the maile shrub, which has
an agreeable odor, something like that of the cherry sticks which smokers
like for pipe stems. This ornamentation does not look amiss on the young,
for to youth much is forgiven; but it is a little startling, at a luau,
to see old crones and grave grandfathers arrayed with equal gayety; and I
confess that though while the flowers and leaves are fresh the decorated
assembly is picturesque, especially as the women wear their hair flowing,
and many have beautiful wavy tresses, yet toward evening, when the
maile has wilted and the garlands are rumpled and decaying, this kind of
ornamentation gives an air of dissipation to the company which it by no
means deserves.

Finally, the daily life of the Hawaiian, if he lives near the sea-coast
and is master of his own life, is divided between fishing, taro planting,
poi making, and mat weaving. All these but the last are laborious
occupations; but they do not make hard work of them. Two days' labor every
week will provide abundant food for a man and his family. He has from five
to ten dollars a year of taxes to pay, and this money he can easily earn.
The sea always supplies him with fish, sea-moss, and other food. He is
fond of fussing at different things; but he also lies down on the grass
a good deal--why shouldn't he?--he reads his paper, he plays at cards,
he rides about a good deal, he sleeps more or less, and about midnight he
gets up and eats a hearty supper. Altogether he is a very happy creature,
and by no means a bad one. You need not lock your door against him; and an
election and a luau occasionally, give him all the excitement he craves,
and that not of an unwholesome kind.

What there is happy about his life he owes to the fine climate and the
missionaries. The latter have given him education enough to read his Bible
and newspaper, and thus to take some interest in and have some knowledge
of affairs in the world at large. They and their successors, the political
rulers, have made life and property secure, and caused roads and bridges
to be built and maintained; and the Hawaiian is fond of moving about. The
little inter-island steamer and the schooners are always full of people
on their travels; and as they do not have hotel bills to pay, but live on
their friends on these visits, there is a great deal of such movement.

It would hardly do to compare the Hawaiian people with those of New
England; but they will compare favorably in comfort, in intelligence,
in wealth, in morals, and in happiness with the common people of most
European nations; and when one sees here how happily people can live in a
small way, and without ambitious striving for wealth or a career, he
can not but wonder if, after all, in the year 2873, our pushing and
hard-pushed civilization of the nineteenth century will get as great
praise as it gets from ourselves, its victims.




Commercial relations form and foster political alliances, especially
between a weak state and a strong one. The annual report for 1872 of
imports and exports, made up by the Collector-general of the Hawaiian
Kingdom, shows how completely the Islands depend upon the United States.

Of 146 merchant vessels and steamers entered at Hawaiian ports during
1872, 90 were American, only 15 were English; 6 were German, 9 belonged
to other nations, and 26 were Hawaiian. Of a total of 98,647 tons of
shipping, 73,975 were American, 6714 Hawaiian, and but 7741 British. Of 47
whaling vessels calling at Island ports during the year, 42 were American,
2 Hawaiian, and 3 British.

Of a little less than 16,000,000 pounds of sugar exported during the
same year, 14,500,000 were sent to the United States; of 39,000 pounds
of coffee 34,000 were sent to us; of 1,349,503 pounds of rice and paddy
exported, 1,317,203 pounds came to the United States. All the cotton, all
the goat-skins, nearly all the hides, all the wool, the greater part
of the peanuts and the pulu, in short, almost the whole exports of the
Islands, are sent to the United States.

On the other hand, of $1,234,147, the value of duty-paying merchandise
imported during 1872 into the Islands, $806,111 worth came from the United
States, $155,939 from Great Britain, and $205,396 from Germany. Besides
this, of the total value of bonded goods, $349,435, the large amount
of $135,487 was brought from sea by whalemen, almost all of whom were
Americans; and $99,567 worth was goods from the United States; or $235,000
of American products against $21,801 of British, and $23,904 of German
importation, in bond.

It is plain that the Island trade is so largely in our hands that no other
nation can be said to dispute it with us. If our flag flew over Honolulu
we could hardly expect to have a more complete monopoly of
Hawaiian commerce than we already enjoy. Moreover, almost all the
sugar-plantations--the most productive and valuable property on the
Islands--are owned by Americans; and the same is true of the greater
number of stock farms.

Our political predominance on the Islands is as complete as the
commercial. In the present cabinet all the ministers except one are
Americans. This was true also of the cabinet of the late king. Of the
Supreme Court, two of the judges are Americans, and one is German. Almost
all the executive and administrative offices are in the hands of Americans
or Hawaiians.

Nor can any foreign power rightly find fault with this state of things.
What the Islands are they are because of American effort, American
enterprise, American capital. American missionaries civilized them;
Americans gave them laws wisely adapted to the customs and habits of
their people; American enterprise and Boston capital established the sugar
culture and other of the important industries; perhaps I ought to add that
American sailors spread among the Islands the vices and diseases which,
more than all else, have caused the rapid decrease of the population,
and to combat and check which added toil and trouble to the labors of the
American missionaries.

The government of the Hawaiian Islands consists of a king and a
Parliament. The Parliament meets once in two years; and under the late
king consisted of but a single House. The present king has promised to
call together two Houses, of which but one will be elected. The other
consists of "Nobles," who are nominated or created by the king for life,
but have no title nor salary unless they are called to office. By the
Constitution the reigning king appoints his successor, but his nomination
must be confirmed by the Nobles. As, however, he may at pleasure increase
the number of Nobles, the appointment virtually rests with him. If he dies
without naming a successor, the Parliament has the right and duty to elect
a new sovereign.

There is a slight property qualification for voters, and a heavier one for
members of Parliament.

The revenue of the Government, which amounts to about half a million
per annum, is derived from the various sources specified in the official
returns of the Minister of Finance, which I copy below. It must be
understood that this report covers two years:

The balance in the Treasury at the close of the last
fiscal period (March 31, 1870) was . . . . . . . . $61,580.20

And there has been received from Foreign Imports 396,418.15
" " " Fines, Penalties, and Costs 47,289.13
" " " Internal Commerce 98,982.51
" " " Taxes 215,962.51
" " " Fees and Perquisites 22,194.45
" " " Government Realizations 124,071.37
" " " Miscellaneous Sources 60,038.23
----------- $964,956.35

The expenditures during two years are detailed thus in the same report:

For Civil List . . . . . . . . $50,000.00
" Permanent Settlements . . . . 18,000.00
" Legislature and Privy Council . . 15,281.63
" Department of Judiciary . . . . 73,562.61
" " Foreign Affairs and War 98,028.24
" " Interior . . . . 396,806.41
" " Finance . . . . 141,345.29
" " Attorney-general . 88,412.17
" Bureau of Public Instruction . . 88,347.79
----------- $969,784.14
Balance on hand March 31, 1872 . . . . . . . $56,752.41

The internal taxes include the property tax, which is quite low, one and
a half per cent. Every male adult pays a poll tax of one dollar, a school
tax of two dollars, and a road tax of two dollars. The following is the
detail of the internal taxes for the two years 1870-72:

Real Estate and Personal Property $97,685.11
Horses . . . . . . . . . 53,006.00
Dogs . . . . . . . . . . 22,271.40
Mules . . . . . . . . . . 6,140.00
Carriages . . . . . . . . 3,125.00
Poll . . . . . . . . . . 27,841.00
Native Seamen . . . . . . . 5,894.00

Among the licenses the monopoly of opium selling brings the Government
$22,248, a prodigious sum when it is considered that there are but
2500 Chinese in the Islands; these being the chief, though not the only
consumers. There is, besides, a duty of ten per cent. on the opium when
imported, and the merchant must make his profit. I had the curiosity
to look a little into the opium consumption. It is said that its use is
slowly spreading among the natives, particularly where these are employed
with Chinese on the plantations. But the quantity used by the Chinese
themselves is prodigious. I was shown one man, a cook, whose wages,
fourteen dollars per month, were entirely spent on opium; and whose master
supplied the poor creature with clothes, because he had nothing left out
of his pay. In other cases the amount spent was nearly as great.

Eight thousand two hundred and sixty-five dollars were also realized for
awa licenses. Awa is a root the use of which produces a frightful kind
of intoxication, in which the victim falls into stupor, his features
are contorted, and he has seizures resembling epilepsy. The body of the
habitual awa drinker becomes covered with white scales; and it is said
that awa drinking predisposes to leprosy. The manner of preparing awa
is peculiarly disgusting. The root is chewed by women, and they spit out
well-chewed mouthfuls into a calabash. Here it settles, and the liquor is
then drunk. It is said that in old times the chiefs used to get together
the prettiest young girls to chew awa for them.

The king receives a salary of $22,500 per annum; the cabinet ministers and
the chief-justice receive $5000, and the two associate justices $4000
per annum. These are the largest salaries paid; and in general the public
service of the Islands is very cheaply as well as ably and conscientiously
conducted. There is an opportunity for retrenchment in abolishing some of
the offices; but the saving which could thus be effected would after all
not be great. The present Government means, I have been told, to undertake
some reforms; these will probably consist in getting the king to turn the
crown lands into public lands, to be sold or leased for the benefit of the
treasury. They are now leased, and the income is a perquisite of the king,
a poor piece of policy, for the chiefs from among whom a sovereign is
selected are all wealthy; the present king, for instance, has an income
of probably $25,000 per annum from private property of his own. It is also
proposed to lessen the number of cabinet ministers; but this will scarcely
be done. They are but four in number now, having charge of Foreign
Affairs, Finance, and the Interior and Law Departments.

There is a debt of about $300,000 which is entirely held within the
kingdom; and the public property is of value sufficient to pay three times
this sum. It is probable, however, that, like many other governments,
the Hawaiian ministry will have to deal with a deficit when the next
Legislature meets; and this will probably bring reform and retrenchment
before them. There is not much hope of increasing the revenue from new and
still untouched sources, for there are but few such.

The taxable industries and wealth of the Islands can not be very greatly
increased. Finding yourself in a tropical country, with a charming and
equable climate, and with abundant rains, you are apt to think that, given
only a little soil, many things would grow and could be profitably raised.
It is one of the surprises of a visitor to the Hawaiian group to discover
that in reality very few products succeed here.

Coffee was largely planted, and promised to become a staple of the
Islands; but a blight attacked the trees and proved so incurable that
the best plantations were dug up and turned into sugar; and the export of
coffee, which has been very variable, but which rose to 415,000 pounds
in 1870, fell to 47,000 pounds in the next year, and to 39,276 pounds in

Sea-island cotton would yield excellent crops if it were not that a
caterpillar devours the young plants, so that its culture has almost
ceased. Only 10,000 pounds were exported in 1872. The orange thrives in so
few localities on the Islands that it is not an article of commerce: only
two boxes were exported last year, though San Francisco brings this fruit
from Otaheite by a voyage of thirty days. A burr worse than any found
in California discourages the sheep-raiser in some of the Islands. The
cacao-tree has been tried, but a blight kills it. In the garden of Dr.
Hillebrandt, near Honolulu, I saw specimens of the cinnamon and allspice
trees; but again I was told that the blight attacked them, and did not
allow them to prosper. Wheat and other cereals grow and mature, but they
are subject to the attacks of weevil, so that they can not be stored or
shipped; and if you feed your horse oats or barley in Honolulu, these have
been imported from California. Silk-worms have been tried but failed. Rice
does well, and its culture is increasing.

Moreover, there is but an inconsiderable local market. A farmer on
Maui told me he had sent twenty bags of potatoes to Honolulu, and so
overstocked the market that he got back only the price of his bags. Eggs
and all other perishable products, for the same reason, vary much in
price, and are at times high-priced and hardly attainable. It will not do
for the farmer to raise much for sale. The population is not only divided
among different and distant islands, but it consists for much the largest
part of people who live sufficiently well on taro, sweet-potatoes, fish,
pork, and beef--all articles which they raise for themselves, and which
they get by labor and against disadvantages which few white farmers would

For instance, the Puna coast of Hawaii is a district where for thirty
miles there is so little fresh water to be found that travelers must bring
their own supplies in bottles; and Dr. Coan told me that in former days
the people, knowing that he could not drink the brackish stuff which
satisfied them, used to collect fresh water for his use when he made the
missionary tour, from the drippings of dew in caves. Wells are here out
of the question, for there is no soil except a little decomposed lava, and
the lava lets through all the water which comes from rains. There are
few or no streams to be led down from the mountains. There are no fields,
according to our meaning of the word.

Formerly the people in this district were numbered by thousands: even
yet there is a considerable population, not unprosperous by any means.
Churches and schools are as frequent as in the best part of New England.
Yet when I asked a native to show me his sweet-potato patch, he took me
to the most curious and barren-looking collection of lava you can imagine,
surrounded, too, by a very formidable wall made of lava, and explained
to me that by digging holes in the lava where it was a little decayed,
carrying a handful of earth to each of these holes, and planting there in
a wet season, he got a very satisfactory crop. Not only that, but being
desirous of something more than a bare living, this man had planted a
little coffee in the same way, and had just sold 1600 pounds, his last
crop. He owned a good wooden house; politely gave up his own mats for me
to sleep on; possessed a Bible and a number of other works in Hawaiian;
after supper called his family together, who squatted on the floor while
he read from his Scriptures, and, after singing a hymn, knelt in family
prayers; and finally spent half an hour before going to bed in looking
over his newspaper. This man, thoroughly respectable, of good repute,
hospitable, comfortable in every way so far as I could see, lived,
and lived well, on twenty or thirty acres of lava, of which not even a
Vermonter would have given ten cents for a thousand acres; and which was
worthless to any one except a native Hawaiian.

Take next the grazing lands. In many parts they are so poorly supplied
with water that they can not carry much stock. They also are often
astonishingly broken up, for they frequently lie high up on the sides of
the mountains, and in many parts they are rocky and lava-covered beyond
belief. On Hawaii, the largest island, lava covers and makes desolate
hundreds of thousands of acres, and on the other and smaller islands,
except, perhaps, Kauai, there is corresponding desolation. Thus the area
of grazing lands is less than one would think. But on the other hand,
cattle are very cheaply raised. They require but little attention; and the
stock-owners, who are now boiling down their cattle and selling merely
the hides and tallow, are said to be just at this time the most prosperous
people on the Islands. Sheep are kept too, but not in great flocks except
upon the small island of Niihau, which was bought some years ago by two
brothers, Sinclair by name, who have now a flock of fifteen or eighteen
thousand sheep there, I am told; on Molokai and part of Hawaii; and upon
the small island of Lanai, where Captain Gibson has six or eight thousand

One of the conspicuous trees of the Hawaiian forests is the Kukui or
candle-nut. Its pale green foliage gives the mountain sides sometimes a
disagreeable look; though where it grows among the Ko trees, whose leaves
are of a dark green, the contrast is not unpleasant. From its abundance
I supposed the candle-nut might be made an article of export; but the
country is so rough that the gathering of the nuts is very laborious; and
several persons who have experimented in expressing the oil from the nut
have discovered that it did not pay cost. Only two thousand pounds
of Kukui nuts were exported in 1872.

Sandal-wood was once a chief article of export. It grows on the higher
mountain slopes, and is still collected, for 20,232 pounds were exported
in 1872, and a small quantity is worked up in the Islands. The cocoa-nut
is not planted in sufficient quantities to make it an article of commerce.
Only 950 nuts were exported last year. Of pulu 421,227 pounds were
shipped; this is a soft fuzz taken from the crown of a species of fern;
it is used to stuff bedding, and is as warm, though not as durable, as
feathers. Also 32,161 pounds of "fungus," a kind of toad-stool which grows
on decaying wood, and is used in China as an article of food.

There has been no lack of ingenuity, enterprise, or industry among the
inhabitants. The Government has imported several kinds of trees and
plants, as the cinnamon, pepper, and allspice, but they have not
prospered. Private effort has not been wanting either. But nature does not
respond. Sugar and rice are and must it seems continue to be the staples
of the Islands; and the culture of these products will in time be
considerably increased.

This, it appears to me, decides the future of the Islands and the
character of their population. A sugar or rice plantation needs at most
three or four American workmen aside from the manager. The laboring
force will be Hawaiians or Chinese; for they alone work cheaply, and will
content themselves in the situation of plantation laborers. It is likely,
therefore, that the future population of the Islands will consist largely,
as it does now, of Hawaiians and Chinese, and a mixture of these two
races; and, no doubt, these will live very happily there.

[Illustration: NATIVE HAY PEDDLER.]

For farming, in the American sense of the word, the Islands are, as these
facts show, entirely unfit. I asked again and again of residents this
question: "Would you advise your friend in Massachusetts or Illinois, a
farmer with two or three thousand dollars in money, to settle out here?"
and received invariably the answer, "No; it would be wrong to do so."
Transportation of farm products from island to island is too costly; there
is no local market except Honolulu, and that is very rapidly and easily
overstocked; Oregon or California potatoes are sold in the Islands at
a price which would leave the local farmer without a profit. In short,
farming is not a pursuit in the Islands. A farmer would not starve, for
beef is cheap, and he could always raise vegetables enough for himself;
but he would not get ahead. Moreover, perishable fruits, like the banana,
have but a limited chance for export. The Islands, unluckily, lie to
windward of California; and a sailing vessel, beating up to San Francisco,
is very apt to make so long a passage that if she carries bananas they
spoil on the way. Hence but 4520 bunches were shipped from the Islands in
1872--which was all the monthly steamer had room for.

These circumstances seem to settle the question of annexation, which is
sometimes discussed. To annex the Islands would be to burden ourselves
with an outlying territory too distant to be cheaply defended; and
containing a population which will never be homogeneous with our own; a
country which would neither attract nor reward our industrious farmers and
mechanics; which offers not the slightest temptation to emigration, except
a most delightful climate, and which has, and must by its circumstances
and natural formation continue to have, chiefly a mixed population of
Chinese and other coolies, whom it is assuredly not to our interest to
take into our family. I suppose it is a proper rule that we should not
encumber ourselves with territory which by reason of unchangeable natural
causes will repel our farmers and artisans, and which, therefore, will not
become in time Americanized. If this is true, we ought not to annex the
Hawaiian Islands.

Moreover, there is no excuse for annexation, in the desire of the people.
The present Government is mild, just, and liked by the people. They can
easily make it cheaper whenever they want to. The native people are very
strongly opposed to annexation; they have a strong feeling of nationality,
and considerable jealousy of foreign influence. Annexation to our own or
any other country would be without their consent.

As to the residents of foreign birth, a few of them favor annexation to
the United States; but only a few. A large majority would oppose it as
strenuously as the native people. Most of the planters see that it would
break up their labor system, demoralize the workmen, and probably for
years check the production of sugar.

One thing is certain, however. If the Islands ever offer themselves to any
foreign power, it will be to the United States. Their people, foreign as
well as native, look to us as their neighbors and friends; and the king
last summer blurted out one day when too much wine had made him imprudent,
this truth: that if annexation came, it must be to the United States.

As I write a negotiation has been opened with the United States
Government, for the purpose of offering us Pearl River in exchange for a
reciprocity treaty. Pearl River is an extensive, deep, and well-protected
bay, about ten miles from Honolulu. It would answer admirably for a naval
station; and if the United States were a second-rate power likely to be
bullied by other nations, we might need a naval station in the Pacific
Ocean. In our present condition, when no single power dares to make war
with us, and when, unless we become shamelessly aggressive, no alliance of
European powers against us for purposes of war is possible, the chief use
of distant naval stations appears to me to be as convenient out-of-the-way
places for wasting the public money. Pearl River would be an admirable
spot for a dozen pleasant sinecures, and the expenditure of three or four
millions of money. It seems to me, therefore, that it would be a dear
bargain. For the accommodation of merchant steamers and ships and their
repair, Honolulu offers sufficient facilities. There are ingenious
American mechanics there who have even taken a frigate upon a temporary
dry-dock, and repaired her hull.


But justice, kindly feeling, and a due regard for our future interests in
the Pacific Ocean ought to induce us to establish at once a reciprocity
treaty with the Hawaiian Government. We should lose but little revenue;
and should make good that loss by the greater market which would be opened
for our own products, in the Islands. Such a treaty would bring more
capital to the Islands, increase their prosperity, and, at the same time,
bind them still more closely and permanently to us. It would pave the way
to annexation, if that should ever become advisable.

The politics of the Hawaiian Kingdom are not very exciting. In those
fortunate Isles the Legislature troubles itself chiefly about the horse
and dog tax. The late king, who was of an irascible temper, did not always
treat his faithful Commons with conspicuous civility. He sometimes told
them that they had talked long enough and had better adjourn; and they
usually took his advice. The present king, who belonged to "his majesty's
opposition" during the late reign, has yet to develop his qualities as a
ruler. He has shown sound judgment in the nomination of his cabinet;
and he is believed to have the welfare of the people at heart. He is
unmarried; but is not likely to marry; and he will probably nominate a
successor from one of the chief or ruling families still remaining. The
list from which he can choose is not very long; and it is most probable,
as this is written, that he will nominate to succeed him Mrs. Bernice
Pauahi Bishop, wife of the present Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mrs.
Bishop is a lady of education and culture, of fine presence, every way fit
to rule over her people; and her selection would be satisfactory to the
foreign residents as well as to the best of the Hawaiian people.




So much has been said and written of late about the disease called leprosy
and its ravages in the Sandwich Islands that I had the curiosity to visit
the asylum for lepers at Molokai, where now very nearly all the people
suffering from this disease have been collected, under a law which directs
this seclusion.

The steamer _Kilauea_ left Honolulu one evening at half-past five o'clock,
and dropped several of us about two o'clock at night into a whale-boat
near a point on the lee side of Molokai. Here we were landed, and
presently mounted horses and rode seven or eight miles to the house of a
German, Mr. Meyer, who is the superintendent of the leper settlement, and
also, I believe, of a cattle farm which belongs to the heirs of the late

Mr. Meyer has lived on Molokai since 1853. He is married to a Hawaiian,
and has a large family of sons and daughters who have been carefully and
excellently brought up, I was told. Mrs. Meyer, who presided at breakfast,
is one of those tall and grandly proportioned women whom you meet among
the native population not infrequently, who enable you to realize how it
was that in the old times the women exercised great influence in Hawaiian
politics. She seemed born to command, and yet her benevolent countenance
and friendly smile of welcome showed that she would probably rule gently.

From Mr. Meyer's we rode some miles again, until at last we dismounted at
the top or edge of the great precipice, at the foot of which, two thousand
feet below, lies the plain of Kalawao, occupied by the lepers. At the
top we four dismounted, for the trail to the bottom, though not generally
worse than the trail into the Yosemite Valley, has some places which would
be difficult and, perhaps, dangerous for horses.

From the edge of the Pali or precipice the plain below, which contains
about 16,000 acres, looks like an absolute flat, bounded on three sides by
the blue Pacific. Horses awaited us at the bottom, and we soon discovered
that the plain possessed some considerable elevations and depressions. It
is believed to have been once the bottom of a vast crater, of which the
Pali we clambered down formed one of the sides, the others having sunk
beneath the ocean, leaving a few traces on one side. It has yet one
considerable cone, a hill two hundred feet high, a well-preserved
subsidiary crater, on whose bottom grass is now growing, while a
little pool of salt water, which rises and falls with the tide, shows a
connection with the ocean. A ride along the shore showed me also several
other and smaller cones.

The whole great plain is composed of lava stones, and to one unfamiliar
with the habits of these islanders would seem to be an absolutely
sterile desert. Yet here lived, not very many years ago, a considerable
population, who have left the marks of an almost incredible industry in
numerous fields inclosed between walls of lava rock well laid up; and in
what is yet stranger, long rows of stones, like the windrows of hay in a
grass field at home, evidently piled there in order to secure room in the
long, narrow beds thus partly cleared of lava which lay between, to plant
sweet-potatoes. As I rode over the trails worn in the lava by the horses
of the old inhabitants, I thought this plain realized the Vermonter's
saying about a piece of particularly stony ground, that there was not room
in the field to pile up the rocks it contained.

Yet on this apparently desert space, within a quarter of a century more
than a thousand people lived contentedly and prosperously, after their
fashion; and this though fresh water is so scarce that many of them must
have carried their drinking water at least two or even three miles. And
here now live, among the lepers, or rather a little apart from them at
one side of the plain, about a hundred people, the remnant of the former
population, who were too much attached to their homes to leave them, and
accepted sentence of perpetual seclusion here, in common with the lepers,
rather than exile to a less sterile part of the island.

When we had descended the cliff, a short ride brought us to the house of
a luna, or local overseer, a native who is not a leper; and of this house,
being uncontaminated, we took possession.

By a law of the kingdom it is made the duty of the Minister of the
Interior, and under him of the Board of Health, to arrest every one
suspected of leprosy; and if a medical examination shows that he has the
disease, to seclude the leper upon this part of Molokai.

Leprosy, when it is beyond its very earliest stage, is held to be
incurable. He who is sent to Molokai is therefore adjudged civilly dead.
His wife, upon application to the proper court, is granted a decree of
absolute divorce, and may marry again; his estate is administered upon
as though he were dead. He is incapable of suing or being sued; and his
dealings with the world thereafter are through and with the Board of
Health alone.

In order that no doubtful cases may be sent to Molokai there is a hospital
at Kalihi, near Honolulu, where the preliminary examinations are made, and
where Dr. Trousseau, the skillful physician of the Board of Health, son of
the famous Paris physician of the same name, retains people about whom he
is uncertain.

The leper settlement at Molokai was begun so long ago as 1865; but the law
requiring the seclusion of lepers was not enforced under the late king,
who is believed to have been himself a sufferer from this disease, and
who, at any rate, by constantly granting exemptions, discouraged the
officers of the law. Since the accession of the present king, however, it
has been rigidly enforced, and it is this which has caused the sudden and
great outcry about leprosy, which has reached even to the United States,
and has caused many people, it seems, to fear to come to the Islands, as
though a foreigner would be liable to catch the disease.

You must understand that the native people have no fear of the disease.
Until the accession of the present king lepers were commonly kept in the
houses of their families, ate, drank, smoked, and slept with their own
people, and had their wounds dressed at home. If the disease were
quickly or readily contagious, it must have spread very rapidly in such
conditions; and that it did not spread greatly or rapidly is one of
the best proofs that it is not easily transmitted. When I remember how
commonly, among the native people, a whole family smokes out of the same
pipe, and sleeps together under the same tapa, I am surprised that so few
have the disease.

There are at this time eight hundred and four persons, lepers, in the
settlement, besides about one hundred non-lepers, who prefer to remain
there in their ancient homes. Since January, 1865, when the first leper
was sent here, one thousand one hundred and eighty have been received,
of whom seven hundred and fifty-eight were males and four hundred and
twenty-two females. Of this number three hundred and seventy-three
have died, namely, two hundred and forty-six males and one hundred and
twenty-seven females. Forty-two died between April 1 and August 13 of the
present year. The proportion of women to men is smaller than I thought;
and there are about fifty leper children, between the ages of six and
thirteen. Lepers are sterile, and no children have been born at the

So great has been the energy and the vigilance of the Board of Health and
its physician, Dr. Trousseau, that there are not now probably fifty lepers
at large on all the islands, and these are persons who have been hidden
away in the mountains by their relatives. In fact if there was ever any
risk to foreign visitors from leprosy, this is now reduced to the minimum;
and as the disease is not caused by the climate, and can be got, as
the widest experience and the best authorities agree, only by intimate
contact, united with peculiar predisposition of the blood, there is not
the least ground for any foreign visitor to dread it.

When a leper is sent to Molokai, the Government provides him a house, and
he receives, if an adult, three pounds of paiai or unmixed poi, per day,
and three pounds of salt salmon, or five pounds of fresh beef, per week.
Beef is generally preferred.

They are allowed and encouraged to cultivate land, and their products are
bought by the Health Board; but the disease quickly attacks the feet and
hands, and disables the sufferers from labor.

There are two churches in the settlement, one Protestant, with a native
pastor, and one Catholic, with a white priest, a young Frenchman, who has
had the courage to devote himself to his co-religionists.

There is a store, kept by the Board of Health, the articles in which are
sold for cost and expenses. The people receive a good deal of money from
their relatives at home, which they spend in this store. The Government
also supplies all the lepers with clothing; and there is a post-office.
The little schooner which carried me back to Honolulu bore over two
hundred letters, the weekly mail from the leper settlement.

For the bad cases there is a hospital, an extensive range of buildings,
where one hundred patients lay when I visited it. These, being helpless,
are attended by other lepers, and receive extra rations of tea, sugar,
bread, rice, and other food.

Almost every one strong enough to ride has a horse; for the Hawaiians can
not well live without horses. Some of the people live on the shore and
make salt, which you see stored up in pandanus bags under the shelter of
lava bubbles. When I was there a number were engaged in digging a ditch
in which to lay an iron pipe, intended to convey fresh water to the denser
part of the settlement.

Such is the life on the leper settlement of Molokai; a precipitous cliff
at its back two thousand feet high; the ocean, looking here bluer and
lovelier than ever I saw it look elsewhere on three sides of it; the soft
trade-wind blowing across the lava-covered plain; eternal sunshine; a mild
air; horses; and the weekly excitement of the arrival of the schooner from
Honolulu with letters. There is sufficient employment for those who can
and like to work--and the Hawaiian is not an idle creature; and altogether
it is a very contented and happy community. The Islander has strong
feelings and affections, but they do not last long, and the people here
seemed to me to have made themselves quickly at home. I saw very few sad
faces, and there were mirth and laughter, and ready service and pleasant
looks all around us, as we rode or walked over the settlement.

And now, you will ask, what does a leper look like? Well, in the first
place, he is not the leper of the Scriptures; nor, I am assured, is the
disease at all like that which is said to occur in China. Indeed, the
poor Chinese have been unjustly accused of bringing this disease to the
Islands. With the first shipload of Chinese brought to these Islands
came two lepers "white as snow," having, that is to say, a disease very
different from that which now is called leprosy here. They were not
allowed to land, but were sent back in the ship which brought them out.

The Hawaiian leprosy, on the other hand, has been known here for a quarter
of a century, and men died of it before the first Chinese were brought
hither. The name Mai-Pakeh was given it by an accident, a foreigner saying
to a native that he had a disease such as they had in China. There are but
six Chinese in the Molokai leper settlement, and there are three white men

The leprosy of the Islands is a disease of the blood, and not a skin
disease. It can be caught only, I am told, by contact of an abraded
surface with the matter of the leprous sore; and doubtless the familiar
habit of the people, of many smoking the same pipe, has done much to
disseminate it.

Its first noticeable signs are a slight puffiness under the eyes, and a
swelling of the lobes of the ears. To the practiced eyes of Dr. Trousseau
these signs were apparent where I could not perceive them until he laid
his finger on them. Next follow symptoms which vary greatly in different
individuals; but a marked sign is the retraction of the fingers, so that
the hand comes to resemble a bird's claw. In some cases the face swells
in ridges, leaving deep furrows between; and these ridges are shiny and
without feeling, so that a pin may be stuck into one without giving pain
to the person. The features are thus horribly deformed in many instances;
I saw two or three young boys of twelve who looked like old men of sixty.
In some older men and women, the face was at first sight revolting and
baboon-like; I say at first sight, for on a second look the mild sad eye
redeemed the distorted features; it was as though the man were looking out
of a horrible mask.

At a later stage of the disease these rugous swellings break open into
festering sores; the nose and even the eyes are blotted out, and the body
becomes putrid.

In other cases the extremities are most severely attacked. The fingers,
after being drawn in like claws, begin to fester. They do not drop off,
but seem rather to be absorbed, the nails following the stumps down; and I
actually saw finger-nails on a hand that had no fingers. The nails were on
the knuckles; the fingers had all rotted away.

The same process of decay goes on with the toes; in some cases the whole
foot had dropped away; and in many the hands and feet were healed over,
the fingers and toes having first dropped off. But the healing of the sore
is but temporary, for the disease presently breaks out again.

Emaciation does not seem to follow. I saw very few wasted forms, and those
only in the hospitals and among the worst cases. There appears to be an
astonishing tenacity of life, and I was told they mostly choke to death,
or fall into a fever caused by swallowing the poison of their sores when
these attack the nose and throat.

Those diseased give out soon a very sickening odor, and I was much obliged
to a thoughtful man in the settlement, who commanded the lepers who had
gathered together to hear an address from the doctor to form to leeward
of us. I expected to be sickened by the hospitals; but these are so well
kept, and are so easily ventilated by the help of the constantly blowing
trade-wind, that the odor was scarcely perceptible in them.

You will, perhaps, ask how the disease is contracted. I doubt if any one
knows definitely. But from all I heard, I judge that there must be some
degree of predisposition toward it in the person to be contaminated. I
believe I have Dr. Trousseau's leave to say that the contact of a wounded
or abraded surface with the matter of a leprous sore will convey the
disease; this is, of course, inoculation; and he seemed to think no other
method of contamination probable. I was careful to provide myself with a
pair of gloves when I visited the settlement, to protect myself in case I
should be invited to shake hands; but I noticed that the doctor fearlessly
shook hands with some of the worst cases, even where the fingers were
suppurating and wrapped in rags.

There are several women on the Islands, confirmed lepers, whose husbands
are at home and sound; one, notably, where the husband is a white man. On
the other hand, a woman was pointed out to me who had had three husbands,
each of whom in a short time after marrying her became a leper. There
are children lepers, whose parents are not lepers; and there are parents
lepers, whose children are at home and healthy.

There are three white men on the island, lepers, two of them in a very bad
state. So far as I could learn the particulars of their previous history,
they had lived flagitiously loose lives; such as must have corrupted their
blood long before they became lepers. In some other cases of native lepers
I came upon similar histories; and while I do not believe that every case,
or indeed perhaps a majority of cases, involves such a previous career of
vice, I should say that this is certainly a strongly predisposing cause.

As to the danger of infection to a foreign visitor, there is absolutely
none, unless he should undertake to live in native fashion among the
natives, smoking out of their pipes, sleeping under their tapas, and
eating their food with them; and even in such an extreme case his risk
would be very slight now, so thoroughly has the disease been "stamped out"
by the energetic action of Mr. Hall, the Minister of the Interior, Mr.
Samuel G. Wilder, the head of the Board of Health, and Dr. Trousseau, its
physician. In short, there is no more risk of a white resident or traveler
catching leprosy in the Hawaiian Islands than in the city or State of New


I have heard one reason given why this disease has been more frequent in
the last ten years. Ten or twelve years ago the Islands were visited by
smallpox. This disease made terrible ravages, and the Government at once
ordered the people to be vaccinated. There seems to be no doubt that the
vaccine matter used was often taken from persons not previously in sound
health; this was perhaps unavoidable; but intelligent men, long resident
in the Islands, believe that vaccination thus performed with impure matter
had a bad effect upon the people, leaving traces of a resulting corruption
of their blood.

The choice of the plain of Kalawao as the spot on which to seclude the
lepers from all the Islands was very happy. It can not be said that to an
agile native the place is inaccessible, for there are, no doubt, several
points in the great precipice where men and women could make their
way down or up; and there are instances of women swimming around the
precipitous and surf-beaten shore, seven or eight miles, to reach husbands
or friends in the settlement to whom they were devotedly attached. But
it is easily guarded, and, for all practical purposes, the seclusion is

A singular tradition, related to me on the island, points to its use for
such a purpose and gives a sad significance to the leper settlement. It is
said that in the time of the first Kamehameha, the conqueror and hero of
his race, upon an occasion when he visited Molokai, an old sorceress or
priestess sent him word that she had made a garment for him--a robe of
honor--which she desired him to come and get. He returned for answer a
command that she should bring it to him; and when the old hag appeared,
the king desired her to tell him something of the future. She replied that
he would conquer all the Islands, and rule over them but a brief time;
that his own posterity would die out; and that finally all his race would
be gathered together on Molokai; and that this small island would be large
enough to hold them all.

It is probable, of course, that this tale is of recent origin, and that no
priestess of Kamehameha the First possessed so fatal and accurate a gift
of prophecy; but the tale, told me in the midst of the leper asylum,
pointed to the gloomy end of the race with but too plain a finger. The
Hawaiians, once so numerous as to occupy almost all the habitable parts
of all the Islands, have so greatly decreased that they might almost find
their support on the little island of Molokai alone. Happily the decrease
has now ceased.

The great Pali of Molokai, one of the most remarkable and picturesque
sights of the Islands, stretches for a dozen miles along its windward
coast. It is a sheer precipice, in most parts from a thousand to two
thousand feet high, washed by the sea at its base, and having, in most
parts, not a trace of beach. This vast wall of rock is an impressive
sight; here the shipwrecked mariner would be utterly helpless; but would
drown, not merely in sight of land, but with his hands vainly grasping for
even a bush, or root, or a projecting rock.








The State of California extends over somewhat more than ten degrees of
latitude. If it lay along the Atlantic as it lies along the Pacific coast,
its boundaries would include the whole shore-line from Cape Cod to Hilton
Head, and its limits would take in the greater portion of ten of the
original States.

It contains two great mountain ranges--the Sierra Nevada and the Coast
Range. These, running parallel through the State, approach each other so
closely at the south as to leave only the narrow Tejon Pass between them;
while at the north they also come together, Mount Shasta rearing its
splendid snow-covered summit over the two mountain chains where they are

Inclosed within these mountain ranges lies a long, broad, fertile valley,
which was once, no doubt, a great inland sea. It still contains in the
southern part three considerable lakes--the Tulare, Kern, and Buena
Vista--and is now drained from the south by the San Joaquin River, flowing
out of these lakes, and from the north by the Sacramento, which rises near
the base of Mount Shasta. These two rivers, the one flowing north, the
other south, join a few miles below Sacramento, and empty their waters
into the bay of San Francisco.

That part of the great inland plain of California which is drained by the
Sacramento is called after its river. It is more thickly inhabited than
the southern or San Joaquin Valley, partly because the foot-hills on its
eastern side were the scene of the earliest and longest continued, as well
as the most successful, mining operations; partly because the Sacramento
River is navigable for a longer distance than the San Joaquin, and thus
gave facilities for transportation which the lower valley had not; and,
finally, because the Sacramento Valley had a railroad completed through
its whole extent some years earlier than the San Joaquin Valley.

The climate of the Sacramento Valley does not differ greatly from that of
the San Joaquin, yet there are some important distinctions. Lying further
north, it has more rain; in the upper part of the valley they sometimes
see snow; there is not the same necessity for irrigation as in the lower
valley; and though oranges flourish in Marysville, and though the almond
does well as far north as Chico, yet the cherry and the plum take the
place of the orange and lemon; and men build their houses somewhat more
solidly than further south.

The romance of the early gold discovery lies mostly in the Sacramento
Valley and the adjacent foot-hills. Between Sacramento and Marysville lay
Sutter's old fort, and near Marysville is Sutter's farm, where you may
still see his groves of fig-trees, under whose shade the country people
now hold their picnics; his orchards, which still bear fruit; and his
house, which is now a country tavern.

Of all his many leagues of land the old man has, I believe, but a few
acres left; and of the thousands who now inhabit and own what once was
his, not a dozen would recognize him, and many probably scarcely know
his name. His riches melted away, as did those of the great Spanish
proprietors; and he who only a quarter of a century ago owned a territory
larger than some States, and counted his cattle by the thousands--if,
indeed, he ever counted them--who lived in a fort like a European noble of
the feudal times, had an army of Indians at his command, and occasionally
made war on the predatory tribes who were his neighbors, now lives upon a
small annuity granted him by the State of California. He saved little, I
have heard, from the wreck of his fortunes; and of all who were with him
in his earlier days, but one, so far as I know--General Bidwell, of Chico,
an able and honorable gentleman, once Sutter's manager--had the ability to
provide for the future by retaining possession of his own estate of twenty
thousand acres, now by general consent the finest farm in California.

As you go north in California the amount of rain-fall increases. In San
Diego County they are happy with ten inches per annum, and fortunate if
they get five; in Santa Barbara, twelve and a half inches insure their
crops; the Sacramento Valley has an average rain-fall of about twenty
inched, and eighteen inches insure them a full crop on soil properly
prepared. In 1873 they had less, yet the crops did well wherever the
farmers had summer-fallowed the land. This practice is now very general,
and is necessary, in order that the grain may have the advantage of the
early rains. When a farmer plows and prepares his land in the spring, lets
it lie all summer, and sows his grain in November just as the earliest
rain begins, he need not fear for his crop.

There is less difference in climate than one would suppose between
the Sacramento and the San Joaquin valleys. Cattle and sheep live
out-of-doors, and support themselves all the year round in the Shasta
Valley on the north as constantly as in Los Angeles or any other of the
southern counties. The seasons are a little later north than south, but
the difference is slight; and as far north as Red Bluff, in the interior,
they begin their harvest earlier than in Monterey County, far south but
on the coast. Snow rarely lies on the ground in the northern counties more
than a day. The best varieties of the foreign grapes are hardy everywhere.
Light frosts come in December; and in the flower-gardens the geranium
withers to the ground, but springs up from the roots again in March. The
eucalyptus flourishes wherever it has been planted in Northern California;
and as far north as Redding, at the head of the valley, the mercury very
rarely falls below twenty-five degrees, and remains there but a few hours.

[Illustration: WINE VATS.]

As you travel from Marysville, either northward or southward, you will see
before and around you a great wide plain, bounded on the west by the blue
outlines of the Coast Range, and on the east by the foot-hills of the
Sierra: a great level, over which as far as your eye can reach are
scattered groves of grand and picturesque white oaks, which relieve the
solitude of the plain, and make it resemble a well-planted park. Wherever
the valley is settled, you will see neat board fences, roomy barns, and
farm-houses nestling among trees, and flanked by young orchards. You will
not find a great variety of crops, for wheat and barley are the staple
products of this valley; and though the farms here are in general of 640
acres or less, there are not wanting some of those immense estates for
which California is famous; and a single farmer in this valley is said to
have raised on his own land last year one-twentieth of the entire wheat
crop of the State.


Back to Full Books