Roughing It, Part 7.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Produced by David Widger
by Mark Twain
One of my comrades there--another of those victims of eighteen years of
unrequited toil and blighted hopes--was one of the gentlest spirits that
ever bore its patient cross in a weary exile: grave and simple Dick
Baker, pocket-miner of Dead-House Gulch.--He was forty-six, gray as a
rat, earnest, thoughtful, slenderly educated, slouchily dressed and
clay-soiled, but his heart was finer metal than any gold his shovel ever
brought to light--than any, indeed, that ever was mined or minted.
Whenever he was out of luck and a little down-hearted, he would fall to
mourning over the loss of a wonderful cat he used to own (for where women
and children are not, men of kindly impulses take up with pets, for they
must love something). And he always spoke of the strange sagacity of
that cat with the air of a man who believed in his secret heart that
there was something human about it--may be even supernatural.
I heard him talking about this animal once. He said:
"Gentlemen, I used to have a cat here, by the name of Tom Quartz, which
you'd a took an interest in I reckon--most any body would. I had him
here eight year--and he was the remarkablest cat I ever see. He was a
large gray one of the Tom specie, an' he had more hard, natchral sense
than any man in this camp--'n' a power of dignity--he wouldn't let the
Gov'ner of Californy be familiar with him. He never ketched a rat in his
life--'peared to be above it. He never cared for nothing but mining.
He knowed more about mining, that cat did, than any man I ever, ever see.
You couldn't tell him noth'n 'bout placer diggin's--'n' as for pocket
mining, why he was just born for it.
"He would dig out after me an' Jim when we went over the hills
prospect'n', and he would trot along behind us for as much as five mile,
if we went so fur. An' he had the best judgment about mining ground--why
you never see anything like it. When we went to work, he'd scatter a
glance around, 'n' if he didn't think much of the indications, he would
give a look as much as to say, 'Well, I'll have to get you to excuse me,'
'n' without another word he'd hyste his nose into the air 'n' shove for
home. But if the ground suited him, he would lay low 'n' keep dark till
the first pan was washed, 'n' then he would sidle up 'n' take a look, an'
if there was about six or seven grains of gold he was satisfied--he
didn't want no better prospect 'n' that--'n' then he would lay down on
our coats and snore like a steamboat till we'd struck the pocket, an'
then get up 'n' superintend. He was nearly lightnin' on superintending.
"Well, bye an' bye, up comes this yer quartz excitement. Every body was
into it--every body was pick'n' 'n' blast'n' instead of shovelin' dirt on
the hill side--every body was put'n' down a shaft instead of scrapin' the
surface. Noth'n' would do Jim, but we must tackle the ledges, too, 'n'
so we did. We commenced put'n' down a shaft, 'n' Tom Quartz he begin to
wonder what in the Dickens it was all about. He hadn't ever seen any
mining like that before, 'n' he was all upset, as you may say--he
couldn't come to a right understanding of it no way--it was too many for
him. He was down on it, too, you bet you--he was down on it powerful
--'n' always appeared to consider it the cussedest foolishness out. But
that cat, you know, was always agin new fangled arrangements--somehow he
never could abide'em. You know how it is with old habits. But by an' by
Tom Quartz begin to git sort of reconciled a little, though he never
could altogether understand that eternal sinkin' of a shaft an' never
pannin' out any thing. At last he got to comin' down in the shaft,
hisself, to try to cipher it out. An' when he'd git the blues, 'n' feel
kind o'scruffy, 'n' aggravated 'n' disgusted--knowin' as he did, that the
bills was runnin' up all the time an' we warn't makin' a cent--he would
curl up on a gunny sack in the corner an' go to sleep. Well, one day
when the shaft was down about eight foot, the rock got so hard that we
had to put in a blast--the first blast'n' we'd ever done since Tom Quartz
was born. An' then we lit the fuse 'n' clumb out 'n' got off 'bout fifty
yards--'n' forgot 'n' left Tom Quartz sound asleep on the gunny sack.
"In 'bout a minute we seen a puff of smoke bust up out of the hole, 'n'
then everything let go with an awful crash, 'n' about four million ton of
rocks 'n' dirt 'n' smoke 'n; splinters shot up 'bout a mile an' a half
into the air, an' by George, right in the dead centre of it was old Tom
Quartz a goin' end over end, an' a snortin' an' a sneez'n', an' a clawin'
an' a reachin' for things like all possessed. But it warn't no use, you
know, it warn't no use. An' that was the last we see of him for about
two minutes 'n' a half, an' then all of a sudden it begin to rain rocks
and rubbage, an' directly he come down ker-whop about ten foot off f'm
where we stood Well, I reckon he was p'raps the orneriest lookin' beast
you ever see. One ear was sot back on his neck, 'n' his tail was stove
up, 'n' his eye-winkers was swinged off, 'n' he was all blacked up with
powder an' smoke, an' all sloppy with mud 'n' slush f'm one end to the
"Well sir, it warn't no use to try to apologize--we couldn't say a word.
He took a sort of a disgusted look at hisself, 'n' then he looked at us
--an' it was just exactly the same as if he had said--'Gents, may be you
think it's smart to take advantage of a cat that 'ain't had no experience
of quartz minin', but I think different'--an' then he turned on his heel
'n' marched off home without ever saying another word.
"That was jest his style. An' may be you won't believe it, but after
that you never see a cat so prejudiced agin quartz mining as what he was.
An' by an' bye when he did get to goin' down in the shaft agin, you'd 'a
been astonished at his sagacity. The minute we'd tetch off a blast 'n'
the fuse'd begin to sizzle, he'd give a look as much as to say: 'Well,
I'll have to git you to excuse me,' an' it was surpris'n' the way he'd
shin out of that hole 'n' go f'r a tree. Sagacity? It ain't no name for
it. 'Twas inspiration!"
I said, "Well, Mr. Baker, his prejudice against quartz-mining was
remarkable, considering how he came by it. Couldn't you ever cure him of
"Cure him! No! When Tom Quartz was sot once, he was always sot--and you
might a blowed him up as much as three million times 'n' you'd never a
broken him of his cussed prejudice agin quartz mining."
The affection and the pride that lit up Baker's face when he delivered
this tribute to the firmness of his humble friend of other days, will
always be a vivid memory with me.
At the end of two months we had never "struck" a pocket. We had panned
up and down the hillsides till they looked plowed like a field; we could
have put in a crop of grain, then, but there would have been no way to
get it to market. We got many good "prospects," but when the gold gave
out in the pan and we dug down, hoping and longing, we found only
emptiness--the pocket that should have been there was as barren as our
own.--At last we shouldered our pans and shovels and struck out over the
hills to try new localities. We prospected around Angel's Camp, in
Calaveras county, during three weeks, but had no success. Then we
wandered on foot among the mountains, sleeping under the trees at night,
for the weather was mild, but still we remained as centless as the last
rose of summer. That is a poor joke, but it is in pathetic harmony with
the circumstances, since we were so poor ourselves. In accordance with
the custom of the country, our door had always stood open and our board
welcome to tramping miners--they drifted along nearly every day, dumped
their paust shovels by the threshold and took "pot luck" with us--and now
on our own tramp we never found cold hospitality.
Our wanderings were wide and in many directions; and now I could give the
reader a vivid description of the Big Trees and the marvels of the Yo
Semite--but what has this reader done to me that I should persecute him?
I will deliver him into the hands of less conscientious tourists and take
his blessing. Let me be charitable, though I fail in all virtues else.
Note: Some of the phrases in the above are mining technicalities, purely,
and may be a little obscure to the general reader. In "placer diggings"
the gold is scattered all through the surface dirt; in "pocket" diggings
it is concentrated in one little spot; in "quartz" the gold is in a
solid, continuous vein of rock, enclosed between distinct walls of some
other kind of stone--and this is the most laborious and expensive of all
the different kinds of mining. "Prospecting" is hunting for a "placer";
"indications" are signs of its presence; "panning out" refers to the
washing process by which the grains of gold are separated from the dirt;
a "prospect" is what one finds in the first panful of dirt--and its value
determines whether it is a good or a bad prospect, and whether it is
worth while to tarry there or seek further.
After a three months' absence, I found myself in San Francisco again,
without a cent. When my credit was about exhausted, (for I had become
too mean and lazy, now, to work on a morning paper, and there were no
vacancies on the evening journals,) I was created San Francisco
correspondent of the Enterprise, and at the end of five months I was out
of debt, but my interest in my work was gone; for my correspondence being
a daily one, without rest or respite, I got unspeakably tired of it.
I wanted another change. The vagabond instinct was strong upon me.
Fortune favored and I got a new berth and a delightful one. It was to go
down to the Sandwich Islands and write some letters for the Sacramento
Union, an excellent journal and liberal with employees.
We sailed in the propeller Ajax, in the middle of winter. The almanac
called it winter, distinctly enough, but the weather was a compromise
between spring and summer. Six days out of port, it became summer
altogether. We had some thirty passengers; among them a cheerful soul
by the name of Williams, and three sea-worn old whaleship captains going
down to join their vessels. These latter played euchre in the smoking
room day and night, drank astonishing quantities of raw whisky without
being in the least affected by it, and were the happiest people I think
I ever saw. And then there was "the old Admiral--" a retired whaleman.
He was a roaring, terrific combination of wind and lightning and thunder,
and earnest, whole-souled profanity. But nevertheless he was
tender-hearted as a girl. He was a raving, deafening, devastating
typhoon, laying waste the cowering seas but with an unvexed refuge in the
centre where all comers were safe and at rest. Nobody could know the
"Admiral" without liking him; and in a sudden and dire emergency I think
no friend of his would know which to choose--to be cursed by him or
prayed for by a less efficient person.
His Title of "Admiral" was more strictly "official" than any ever worn by
a naval officer before or since, perhaps--for it was the voluntary
offering of a whole nation, and came direct from the people themselves
without any intermediate red tape--the people of the Sandwich Islands.
It was a title that came to him freighted with affection, and honor, and
appreciation of his unpretending merit. And in testimony of the
genuineness of the title it was publicly ordained that an exclusive flag
should be devised for him and used solely to welcome his coming and wave
him God-speed in his going. From that time forth, whenever his ship was
signaled in the offing, or he catted his anchor and stood out to sea,
that ensign streamed from the royal halliards on the parliament house and
the nation lifted their hats to it with spontaneous accord.
Yet he had never fired a gun or fought a battle in his life. When I knew
him on board the Ajax, he was seventy-two years old and had plowed the
salt water sixty-one of them. For sixteen years he had gone in and out
of the harbor of Honolulu in command of a whaleship, and for sixteen more
had been captain of a San Francisco and Sandwich Island passenger packet
and had never had an accident or lost a vessel. The simple natives knew
him for a friend who never failed them, and regarded him as children
regard a father. It was a dangerous thing to oppress them when the
roaring Admiral was around.
Two years before I knew the Admiral, he had retired from the sea on a
competence, and had sworn a colossal nine-jointed oath that he would
"never go within smelling distance of the salt water again as long as he
lived." And he had conscientiously kept it. That is to say, he
considered he had kept it, and it would have been more than dangerous to
suggest to him, even in the gentlest way, that making eleven long sea
voyages, as a passenger, during the two years that had transpired since
he "retired," was only keeping the general spirit of it and not the
The Admiral knew only one narrow line of conduct to pursue in any and all
cases where there was a fight, and that was to shoulder his way straight
in without an inquiry as to the rights or the merits of it, and take the
part of the weaker side.--And this was the reason why he was always sure
to be present at the trial of any universally execrated criminal to
oppress and intimidate the jury with a vindictive pantomime of what he
would do to them if he ever caught them out of the box. And this was why
harried cats and outlawed dogs that knew him confidently took sanctuary
under his chair in time of trouble. In the beginning he was the most
frantic and bloodthirsty Union man that drew breath in the shadow of the
Flag; but the instant the Southerners began to go down before the sweep
of the Northern armies, he ran up the Confederate colors and from that
time till the end was a rampant and inexorable secessionist.
He hated intemperance with a more uncompromising animosity than any
individual I have ever met, of either sex; and he was never tired of
storming against it and beseeching friends and strangers alike to be wary
and drink with moderation. And yet if any creature had been guileless
enough to intimate that his absorbing nine gallons of "straight" whiskey
during our voyage was any fraction short of rigid or inflexible
abstemiousness, in that self-same moment the old man would have spun him
to the uttermost parts of the earth in the whirlwind of his wrath. Mind,
I am not saying his whisky ever affected his head or his legs, for it did
not, in even the slightest degree. He was a capacious container, but he
did not hold enough for that. He took a level tumblerful of whisky every
morning before he put his clothes on--"to sweeten his bilgewater," he
said.--He took another after he got the most of his clothes on, "to
settle his mind and give him his bearings." He then shaved, and put on a
clean shirt; after which he recited the Lord's Prayer in a fervent,
thundering bass that shook the ship to her kelson and suspended all
conversation in the main cabin. Then, at this stage, being invariably
"by the head," or "by the stern," or "listed to port or starboard," he
took one more to "put him on an even keel so that he would mind his
hellum and not miss stays and go about, every time he came up in the
wind."--And now, his state-room door swung open and the sun of his
benignant face beamed redly out upon men and women and children, and he
roared his "Shipmets a'hoy!" in a way that was calculated to wake the
dead and precipitate the final resurrection; and forth he strode, a
picture to look at and a presence to enforce attention. Stalwart and
portly; not a gray hair; broadbrimmed slouch hat; semi-sailor toggery of
blue navy flannel--roomy and ample; a stately expanse of shirt-front and
a liberal amount of black silk neck-cloth tied with a sailor knot; large
chain and imposing seals impending from his fob; awe-inspiring feet, and
"a hand like the hand of Providence," as his whaling brethren expressed
it; wrist-bands and sleeves pushed back half way to the elbow, out of
respect for the warm weather, and exposing hairy arms, gaudy with red and
blue anchors, ships, and goddesses of liberty tattooed in India ink.
But these details were only secondary matters--his face was the lodestone
that chained the eye. It was a sultry disk, glowing determinedly out
through a weather beaten mask of mahogany, and studded with warts, seamed
with scars, "blazed" all over with unfailing fresh slips of the razor;
and with cheery eyes, under shaggy brows, contemplating the world from
over the back of a gnarled crag of a nose that loomed vast and lonely out
of the undulating immensity that spread away from its foundations.
At his heels frisked the darling of his bachelor estate, his terrier
"Fan," a creature no larger than a squirrel. The main part of his daily
life was occupied in looking after "Fan," in a motherly way, and
doctoring her for a hundred ailments which existed only in his
The Admiral seldom read newspapers; and when he did he never believed
anything they said. He read nothing, and believed in nothing, but "The
Old Guard," a secession periodical published in New York. He carried a
dozen copies of it with him, always, and referred to them for all
required information. If it was not there, he supplied it himself, out
of a bountiful fancy, inventing history, names, dates, and every thing
else necessary to make his point good in an argument. Consequently he
was a formidable antagonist in a dispute. Whenever he swung clear of the
record and began to create history, the enemy was helpless and had to
surrender. Indeed, the enemy could not keep from betraying some little
spark of indignation at his manufactured history--and when it came to
indignation, that was the Admiral's very "best hold." He was always
ready for a political argument, and if nobody started one he would do it
himself. With his third retort his temper would begin to rise, and
within five minutes he would be blowing a gale, and within fifteen his
smoking-room audience would be utterly stormed away and the old man left
solitary and alone, banging the table with his fist, kicking the chairs,
and roaring a hurricane of profanity. It got so, after a while, that
whenever the Admiral approached, with politics in his eye, the passengers
would drop out with quiet accord, afraid to meet him; and he would camp
on a deserted field.
But he found his match at last, and before a full company. At one time
or another, everybody had entered the lists against him and been routed,
except the quiet passenger Williams. He had never been able to get an
expression of opinion out of him on politics. But now, just as the
Admiral drew near the door and the company were about to slip out,
"Admiral, are you certain about that circumstance concerning the
clergymen you mentioned the other day?"--referring to a piece of the
Admiral's manufactured history.
Every one was amazed at the man's rashness. The idea of deliberately
inviting annihilation was a thing incomprehensible. The retreat came to
a halt; then everybody sat down again wondering, to await the upshot of
it. The Admiral himself was as surprised as any one. He paused in the
door, with his red handkerchief half raised to his sweating face, and
contemplated the daring reptile in the corner.
"Certain of it? Am I certain of it? Do you think I've been lying about
it? What do you take me for? Anybody that don't know that circumstance,
don't know anything; a child ought to know it. Read up your history!
Read it up-----, and don't come asking a man if he's certain about a bit
of ABC stuff that the very southern niggers know all about."
Here the Admiral's fires began to wax hot, the atmosphere thickened, the
coming earthquake rumbled, he began to thunder and lighten. Within three
minutes his volcano was in full irruption and he was discharging flames
and ashes of indignation, belching black volumes of foul history aloft,
and vomiting red-hot torrents of profanity from his crater. Meantime
Williams sat silent, and apparently deeply and earnestly interested in
what the old man was saying. By and by, when the lull came, he said in
the most deferential way, and with the gratified air of a man who has had
a mystery cleared up which had been puzzling him uncomfortably:
"Now I understand it. I always thought I knew that piece of history well
enough, but was still afraid to trust it, because there was not that
convincing particularity about it that one likes to have in history; but
when you mentioned every name, the other day, and every date, and every
little circumstance, in their just order and sequence, I said to myself,
this sounds something like--this is history--this is putting it in a
shape that gives a man confidence; and I said to myself afterward, I will
just ask the Admiral if he is perfectly certain about the details, and if
he is I will come out and thank him for clearing this matter up for me.
And that is what I want to do now--for until you set that matter right it
was nothing but just a confusion in my mind, without head or tail to it."
Nobody ever saw the Admiral look so mollified before, and so pleased.
Nobody had ever received his bogus history as gospel before; its
genuineness had always been called in question either by words or looks;
but here was a man that not only swallowed it all down, but was grateful
for the dose. He was taken a back; he hardly knew what to say; even his
profanity failed him. Now, Williams continued, modestly and earnestly:
"But Admiral, in saying that this was the first stone thrown, and that
this precipitated the war, you have overlooked a circumstance which you
are perfectly familiar with, but which has escaped your memory. Now I
grant you that what you have stated is correct in every detail--to wit:
that on the 16th of October, 1860, two Massachusetts clergymen, named
Waite and Granger, went in disguise to the house of John Moody, in
Rockport, at dead of night, and dragged forth two southern women and
their two little children, and after tarring and feathering them conveyed
them to Boston and burned them alive in the State House square; and I
also grant your proposition that this deed is what led to the secession
of South Carolina on the 20th of December following. Very well." [Here
the company were pleasantly surprised to hear Williams proceed to come
back at the Admiral with his own invincible weapon--clean, pure,
manufactured history, without a word of truth in it.] "Very well, I say.
But Admiral, why overlook the Willis and Morgan case in South Carolina?
You are too well informed a man not to know all about that circumstance.
Your arguments and your conversations have shown you to be intimately
conversant with every detail of this national quarrel. You develop
matters of history every day that show plainly that you are no smatterer
in it, content to nibble about the surface, but a man who has searched
the depths and possessed yourself of everything that has a bearing upon
the great question. Therefore, let me just recall to your mind that
Willis and Morgan case--though I see by your face that the whole thing is
already passing through your memory at this moment. On the 12th of
August, 1860, two months before the Waite and Granger affair, two South
Carolina clergymen, named John H. Morgan and Winthrop L. Willis, one a
Methodist and the other an Old School Baptist, disguised themselves, and
went at midnight to the house of a planter named Thompson--Archibald F.
Thompson, Vice President under Thomas Jefferson,--and took thence, at
midnight, his widowed aunt, (a Northern woman,) and her adopted child, an
orphan--named Mortimer Highie, afflicted with epilepsy and suffering at
the time from white swelling on one of his legs, and compelled to walk on
crutches in consequence; and the two ministers, in spite of the pleadings
of the victims, dragged them to the bush, tarred and feathered them, and
afterward burned them at the stake in the city of Charleston. You
remember perfectly well what a stir it made; you remember perfectly well
that even the Charleston Courier stigmatized the act as being unpleasant,
of questionable propriety, and scarcely justifiable, and likewise that it
would not be matter of surprise if retaliation ensued. And you remember
also, that this thing was the cause of the Massachusetts outrage. Who,
indeed, were the two Massachusetts ministers? and who were the two
Southern women they burned? I do not need to remind you, Admiral, with
your intimate knowledge of history, that Waite was the nephew of the
woman burned in Charleston; that Granger was her cousin in the second
degree, and that the woman they burned in Boston was the wife of John H.
Morgan, and the still loved but divorced wife of Winthrop L. Willis.
Now, Admiral, it is only fair that you should acknowledge that the first
provocation came from the Southern preachers and that the Northern ones
were justified in retaliating. In your arguments you never yet have
shown the least disposition to withhold a just verdict or be in anywise
unfair, when authoritative history condemned your position, and therefore
I have no hesitation in asking you to take the original blame from the
Massachusetts ministers, in this matter, and transfer it to the South
Carolina clergymen where it justly belongs."
The Admiral was conquered. This sweet spoken creature who swallowed his
fraudulent history as if it were the bread of life; basked in his furious
blasphemy as if it were generous sunshine; found only calm, even-handed
justice in his rampart partisanship; and flooded him with invented
history so sugarcoated with flattery and deference that there was no
rejecting it, was "too many" for him. He stammered some awkward, profane
sentences about the-----Willis and Morgan business having escaped his
memory, but that he "remembered it now," and then, under pretence of
giving Fan some medicine for an imaginary cough, drew out of the battle
and went away, a vanquished man. Then cheers and laughter went up, and
Williams, the ship's benefactor was a hero. The news went about the
vessel, champagne was ordered, and enthusiastic reception instituted in
the smoking room, and everybody flocked thither to shake hands with the
conqueror. The wheelman said afterward, that the Admiral stood up behind
the pilot house and "ripped and cursed all to himself" till he loosened
the smokestack guys and becalmed the mainsail.
The Admiral's power was broken. After that, if he began argument,
somebody would bring Williams, and the old man would grow weak and begin
to quiet down at once. And as soon as he was done, Williams in his
dulcet, insinuating way, would invent some history (referring for proof,
to the old man's own excellent memory and to copies of "The Old Guard"
known not to be in his possession) that would turn the tables completely
and leave the Admiral all abroad and helpless. By and by he came to so
dread Williams and his gilded tongue that he would stop talking when he
saw him approach, and finally ceased to mention politics altogether, and
from that time forward there was entire peace and serenity in the ship.
On a certain bright morning the Islands hove in sight, lying low on the
lonely sea, and everybody climbed to the upper deck to look. After two
thousand miles of watery solitude the vision was a welcome one. As we
approached, the imposing promontory of Diamond Head rose up out of the
ocean its rugged front softened by the hazy distance, and presently the
details of the land began to make themselves manifest: first the line of
beach; then the plumed coacoanut trees of the tropics; then cabins of the
natives; then the white town of Honolulu, said to contain between twelve
and fifteen thousand inhabitants spread over a dead level; with streets
from twenty to thirty feet wide, solid and level as a floor, most of them
straight as a line and few as crooked as a corkscrew.
The further I traveled through the town the better I liked it.
Every step revealed a new contrast--disclosed something I was
unaccustomed to. In place of the grand mud-colored brown fronts of
San Francisco, I saw dwellings built of straw, adobies, and cream-colored
pebble-and-shell-conglomerated coral, cut into oblong blocks and laid in
cement; also a great number of neat white cottages, with green
window-shutters; in place of front yards like billiard-tables with iron
fences around them, I saw these homes surrounded by ample yards, thickly
clad with green grass, and shaded by tall trees, through whose dense
foliage the sun could scarcely penetrate; in place of the customary
geranium, calla lily, etc., languishing in dust and general debility, I
saw luxurious banks and thickets of flowers, fresh as a meadow after a
rain, and glowing with the richest dyes; in place of the dingy horrors of
San Francisco's pleasure grove, the "Willows," I saw huge-bodied,
wide-spreading forest trees, with strange names and stranger appearance
--trees that cast a shadow like a thunder-cloud, and were able to stand
alone without being tied to green poles; in place of gold fish, wiggling
around in glass globes, assuming countless shades and degrees of
distortion through the magnifying and diminishing qualities of their
transparent prison houses, I saw cats--Tom-cats, Mary Ann cats,
long-tailed cats, bob-tailed cats, blind cats, one-eyed cats, wall-eyed
cats, cross-eyed cats, gray cats, black cats, white cats, yellow cats,
striped cats, spotted cats, tame cats, wild cats, singed cats, individual
cats, groups of cats, platoons of cats, companies of cats, regiments of
cats, armies of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats, and all of
them sleek, fat, lazy and sound asleep. I looked on a multitude of
people, some white, in white coats, vests, pantaloons, even white cloth
shoes, made snowy with chalk duly laid on every morning; but the majority
of the people were almost as dark as negroes--women with comely features,
fine black eyes, rounded forms, inclining to the voluptuous, clad in a
single bright red or white garment that fell free and unconfined from
shoulder to heel, long black hair falling loose, gypsy hats, encircled
with wreaths of natural flowers of a brilliant carmine tint; plenty of
dark men in various costumes, and some with nothing on but a battered
stove-pipe hat tilted on the nose, and a very scant breech-clout;
--certain smoke-dried children were clothed in nothing but sunshine
--a very neat fitting and picturesque apparel indeed.
In place of roughs and rowdies staring and blackguarding on the corners,
I saw long-haired, saddle-colored Sandwich Island maidens sitting on the
ground in the shade of corner houses, gazing indolently at whatever or
whoever happened along; instead of wretched cobble-stone pavements, I
walked on a firm foundation of coral, built up from the bottom of the sea
by the absurd but persevering insect of that name, with a light layer of
lava and cinders overlying the coral, belched up out of fathomless
perdition long ago through the seared and blackened crater that stands
dead and harmless in the distance now; instead of cramped and crowded
street-cars, I met dusky native women sweeping by, free as the wind, on
fleet horses and astride, with gaudy riding-sashes, streaming like
banners behind them; instead of the combined stenches of Chinadom and
Brannan street slaughter-houses, I breathed the balmy fragrance of
jessamine, oleander, and the Pride of India; in place of the hurry and
bustle and noisy confusion of San Francisco, I moved in the midst of a
Summer calm as tranquil as dawn in the Garden of Eden; in place of the
Golden City's skirting sand hills and the placid bay, I saw on the one
side a frame-work of tall, precipitous mountains close at hand, clad in
refreshing green, and cleft by deep, cool, chasm-like valleys--and in
front the grand sweep of the ocean; a brilliant, transparent green near
the shore, bound and bordered by a long white line of foamy spray dashing
against the reef, and further out the dead blue water of the deep sea,
flecked with "white caps," and in the far horizon a single, lonely sail
--a mere accent-mark to emphasize a slumberous calm and a solitude that
were without sound or limit. When the sun sunk down--the one intruder
from other realms and persistent in suggestions of them--it was tranced
luxury to sit in the perfumed air and forget that there was any world but
these enchanted islands.
It was such ecstacy to dream, and dream--till you got a bite.
A scorpion bite. Then the first duty was to get up out of the grass and
kill the scorpion; and the next to bathe the bitten place with alcohol or
brandy; and the next to resolve to keep out of the grass in future. Then
came an adjournment to the bed-chamber and the pastime of writing up the
day's journal with one hand and the destruction of mosquitoes with the
other--a whole community of them at a slap. Then, observing an enemy
approaching,--a hairy tarantula on stilts--why not set the spittoon on
him? It is done, and the projecting ends of his paws give a luminous
idea of the magnitude of his reach. Then to bed and become a promenade
for a centipede with forty-two legs on a side and every foot hot enough
to burn a hole through a raw-hide. More soaking with alcohol, and a
resolution to examine the bed before entering it, in future. Then wait,
and suffer, till all the mosquitoes in the neighborhood have crawled in
under the bar, then slip out quickly, shut them in and sleep peacefully
on the floor till morning. Meantime it is comforting to curse the
tropics in occasional wakeful intervals.
We had an abundance of fruit in Honolulu, of course. Oranges,
pine-apples, bananas, strawberries, lemons, limes, mangoes, guavas,
melons, and a rare and curious luxury called the chirimoya, which is
deliciousness itself. Then there is the tamarind. I thought tamarinds
were made to eat, but that was probably not the idea. I ate several, and
it seemed to me that they were rather sour that year. They pursed up my
lips, till they resembled the stem-end of a tomato, and I had to take my
sustenance through a quill for twenty-four hours.
They sharpened my teeth till I could have shaved with them, and gave them
a "wire edge" that I was afraid would stay; but a citizen said "no, it
will come off when the enamel does"--which was comforting, at any rate.
I found, afterward, that only strangers eat tamarinds--but they only eat
In my diary of our third day in Honolulu, I find this:
I am probably the most sensitive man in Hawaii to-night--especially about
sitting down in the presence of my betters. I have ridden fifteen or
twenty miles on horse-back since 5 P.M. and to tell the honest truth, I
have a delicacy about sitting down at all.
An excursion to Diamond Head and the King's Coacoanut Grove was planned
to-day--time, 4:30 P.M.--the party to consist of half a dozen gentlemen
and three ladies. They all started at the appointed hour except myself.
I was at the Government prison, (with Captain Fish and another
whaleship-skipper, Captain Phillips,) and got so interested in its
examination that I did not notice how quickly the time was passing.
Somebody remarked that it was twenty minutes past five o'clock, and that
woke me up. It was a fortunate circumstance that Captain Phillips was
along with his "turn out," as he calls a top-buggy that Captain Cook
brought here in 1778, and a horse that was here when Captain Cook came.
Captain Phillips takes a just pride in his driving and in the speed of
his horse, and to his passion for displaying them I owe it that we were
only sixteen minutes coming from the prison to the American Hotel--a
distance which has been estimated to be over half a mile. But it took
some fearful driving. The Captain's whip came down fast, and the blows
started so much dust out of the horse's hide that during the last half of
the journey we rode through an impenetrable fog, and ran by a pocket
compass in the hands of Captain Fish, a whaler of twenty-six years
experience, who sat there through the perilous voyage as self-possessed
as if he had been on the euchre-deck of his own ship, and calmly said,
"Port your helm--port," from time to time, and "Hold her a little free
--steady--so--so," and "Luff--hard down to starboard!" and never once
lost his presence of mind or betrayed the least anxiety by voice or
manner. When we came to anchor at last, and Captain Phillips looked at
his watch and said, "Sixteen minutes--I told you it was in her! that's
over three miles an hour!" I could see he felt entitled to a compliment,
and so I said I had never seen lightning go like that horse. And I never
The landlord of the American said the party had been gone nearly an hour,
but that he could give me my choice of several horses that could overtake
them. I said, never mind--I preferred a safe horse to a fast one--I
would like to have an excessively gentle horse--a horse with no spirit
whatever--a lame one, if he had such a thing. Inside of five minutes I
was mounted, and perfectly satisfied with my outfit. I had no time to
label him "This is a horse," and so if the public took him for a sheep I
cannot help it. I was satisfied, and that was the main thing. I could
see that he had as many fine points as any man's horse, and so I hung my
hat on one of them, behind the saddle, and swabbed the perspiration from
my face and started. I named him after this island, "Oahu" (pronounced
O-waw-hee). The first gate he came to he started in; I had neither whip
nor spur, and so I simply argued the case with him. He resisted
argument, but ultimately yielded to insult and abuse. He backed out of
that gate and steered for another one on the other side of the street.
I triumphed by my former process. Within the next six hundred yards he
crossed the street fourteen times and attempted thirteen gates, and in
the meantime the tropical sun was beating down and threatening to cave
the top of my head in, and I was literally dripping with perspiration.
He abandoned the gate business after that and went along peaceably
enough, but absorbed in meditation. I noticed this latter circumstance,
and it soon began to fill me with apprehension. I said to my self, this
creature is planning some new outrage, some fresh deviltry or other--no
horse ever thought over a subject so profoundly as this one is doing just
for nothing. The more this thing preyed upon my mind the more uneasy I
became, until the suspense became almost unbearable and I dismounted to
see if there was anything wild in his eye--for I had heard that the eye
of this noblest of our domestic animals is very expressive.
I cannot describe what a load of anxiety was lifted from my mind when I
found that he was only asleep. I woke him up and started him into a
faster walk, and then the villainy of his nature came out again. He
tried to climb over a stone wall, five or six feet high. I saw that I
must apply force to this horse, and that I might as well begin first as
last. I plucked a stout switch from a tamarind tree, and the moment he
saw it, he surrendered. He broke into a convulsive sort of a canter,
which had three short steps in it and one long one, and reminded me
alternately of the clattering shake of the great earthquake, and the
sweeping plunging of the Ajax in a storm.
And now there can be no fitter occasion than the present to pronounce a
left-handed blessing upon the man who invented the American saddle.
There is no seat to speak of about it--one might as well sit in a shovel
--and the stirrups are nothing but an ornamental nuisance. If I were to
write down here all the abuse I expended on those stirrups, it would make
a large book, even without pictures. Sometimes I got one foot so far
through, that the stirrup partook of the nature of an anklet; sometimes
both feet were through, and I was handcuffed by the legs; and sometimes
my feet got clear out and left the stirrups wildly dangling about my
shins. Even when I was in proper position and carefully balanced upon
the balls of my feet, there was no comfort in it, on account of my
nervous dread that they were going to slip one way or the other in a
moment. But the subject is too exasperating to write about.
A mile and a half from town, I came to a grove of tall cocoanut trees,
with clean, branchless stems reaching straight up sixty or seventy feet
and topped with a spray of green foliage sheltering clusters of
cocoa-nuts--not more picturesque than a forest of collossal ragged
parasols, with bunches of magnified grapes under them, would be.
I once heard a gouty northern invalid say that a cocoanut tree might be
poetical, possibly it was; but it looked like a feather-duster struck by
lightning. I think that describes it better than a picture--and yet,
without any question, there is something fascinating about a cocoa-nut
tree--and graceful, too.
About a dozen cottages, some frame and the others of native grass,
nestled sleepily in the shade here and there. The grass cabins are of a
grayish color, are shaped much like our own cottages, only with higher
and steeper roofs usually, and are made of some kind of weed strongly
bound together in bundles. The roofs are very thick, and so are the
walls; the latter have square holes in them for windows. At a little
distance these cabins have a furry appearance, as if they might be made
of bear skins. They are very cool and pleasant inside. The King's flag
was flying from the roof of one of the cottages, and His Majesty was
probably within. He owns the whole concern thereabouts, and passes his
time there frequently, on sultry days "laying off." The spot is called
"The King's Grove."
Near by is an interesting ruin--the meagre remains of an ancient heathen
temple--a place where human sacrifices were offered up in those old
bygone days when the simple child of nature, yielding momentarily to sin
when sorely tempted, acknowledged his error when calm reflection had
shown it him, and came forward with noble frankness and offered up his
grandmother as an atoning sacrifice--in those old days when the luckless
sinner could keep on cleansing his conscience and achieving periodical
happiness as long as his relations held out; long, long before the
missionaries braved a thousand privations to come and make them
permanently miserable by telling them how beautiful and how blissful a
place heaven is, and how nearly impossible it is to get there; and showed
the poor native how dreary a place perdition is and what unnecessarily
liberal facilities there are for going to it; showed him how, in his
ignorance he had gone and fooled away all his kinfolks to no purpose;
showed him what rapture it is to work all day long for fifty cents to buy
food for next day with, as compared with fishing for pastime and lolling
in the shade through eternal Summer, and eating of the bounty that nobody
labored to provide but Nature. How sad it is to think of the multitudes
who have gone to their graves in this beautiful island and never knew
there was a hell!
This ancient temple was built of rough blocks of lava, and was simply a
roofless inclosure a hundred and thirty feet long and seventy wide
--nothing but naked walls, very thick, but not much higher than a man's
head. They will last for ages no doubt, if left unmolested. Its three
altars and other sacred appurtenances have crumbled and passed away years
ago. It is said that in the old times thousands of human beings were
slaughtered here, in the presence of naked and howling savages. If these
mute stones could speak, what tales they could tell, what pictures they
could describe, of fettered victims writhing under the knife; of massed
forms straining forward out of the gloom, with ferocious faces lit up by
the sacrificial fires; of the background of ghostly trees; of the dark
pyramid of Diamond Head standing sentinel over the uncanny scene, and the
peaceful moon looking down upon it through rifts in the cloud-rack!
When Kamehameha (pronounced Ka-may-ha-may-ah) the Great--who was a sort
of a Napoleon in military genius and uniform success--invaded this island
of Oahu three quarters of a century ago, and exterminated the army sent
to oppose him, and took full and final possession of the country, he
searched out the dead body of the King of Oahu, and those of the
principal chiefs, and impaled their heads on the walls of this temple.
Those were savage times when this old slaughter-house was in its prime.
The King and the chiefs ruled the common herd with a rod of iron; made
them gather all the provisions the masters needed; build all the houses
and temples; stand all the expenses, of whatever kind; take kicks and
cuffs for thanks; drag out lives well flavored with misery, and then
suffer death for trifling offences or yield up their lives on the
sacrificial altars to purchase favors from the gods for their hard
rulers. The missionaries have clothed them, educated them, broken up the
tyrannous authority of their chiefs, and given them freedom and the right
to enjoy whatever their hands and brains produce with equal laws for all,
and punishment for all alike who transgress them. The contrast is so
strong--the benefit conferred upon this people by the missionaries is so
prominent, so palpable and so unquestionable, that the frankest
compliment I can pay them, and the best, is simply to point to the
condition of the Sandwich Islanders of Captain Cook's time, and their
Their work speaks for itself.
By and by, after a rugged climb, we halted on the summit of a hill which
commanded a far-reaching view. The moon rose and flooded mountain and
valley and ocean with a mellow radiance, and out of the shadows of the
foliage the distant lights of Honolulu glinted like an encampment of
fireflies. The air was heavy with the fragrance of flowers. The halt
was brief.--Gayly laughing and talking, the party galloped on, and I
clung to the pommel and cantered after. Presently we came to a place
where no grass grew--a wide expanse of deep sand. They said it was an
old battle ground. All around everywhere, not three feet apart, the
bleached bones of men gleamed white in the moonlight. We picked up a lot
of them for mementoes. I got quite a number of arm bones and leg bones
--of great chiefs, may be, who had fought savagely in that fearful battle
in the old days, when blood flowed like wine where we now stood--and wore
the choicest of them out on Oahu afterward, trying to make him go. All
sorts of bones could be found except skulls; but a citizen said,
irreverently, that there had been an unusual number of "skull-hunters"
there lately--a species of sportsmen I had never heard of before.
Nothing whatever is known about this place--its story is a secret that
will never be revealed. The oldest natives make no pretense of being
possessed of its history. They say these bones were here when they were
children. They were here when their grandfathers were children--but how
they came here, they can only conjecture. Many people believe this spot
to be an ancient battle-ground, and it is usual to call it so; and they
believe that these skeletons have lain for ages just where their
proprietors fell in the great fight. Other people believe that
Kamehameha I. fought his first battle here. On this point, I have heard
a story, which may have been taken from one of the numerous books which
have been written concerning these islands--I do not know where the
narrator got it. He said that when Kamehameha (who was at first merely a
subordinate chief on the island of Hawaii), landed here, he brought a
large army with him, and encamped at Waikiki. The Oahuans marched
against him, and so confident were they of success that they readily
acceded to a demand of their priests that they should draw a line where
these bones now lie, and take an oath that, if forced to retreat at all,
they would never retreat beyond this boundary. The priests told them
that death and everlasting punishment would overtake any who violated the
oath, and the march was resumed. Kamehameha drove them back step by
step; the priests fought in the front rank and exhorted them both by
voice and inspiriting example to remember their oath--to die, if need be,
but never cross the fatal line. The struggle was manfully maintained,
but at last the chief priest fell, pierced to the heart with a spear, and
the unlucky omen fell like a blight upon the brave souls at his back;
with a triumphant shout the invaders pressed forward--the line was
crossed--the offended gods deserted the despairing army, and, accepting
the doom their perjury had brought upon them, they broke and fled over
the plain where Honolulu stands now--up the beautiful Nuuanu Valley
--paused a moment, hemmed in by precipitous mountains on either hand and
the frightful precipice of the Pari in front, and then were driven over
--a sheer plunge of six hundred feet!
The story is pretty enough, but Mr. Jarves' excellent history says the
Oahuans were intrenched in Nuuanu Valley; that Kamehameha ousted them,
routed them, pursued them up the valley and drove them over the
precipice. He makes no mention of our bone-yard at all in his book.
Impressed by the profound silence and repose that rested over the
beautiful landscape, and being, as usual, in the rear, I gave voice to my
thoughts. I said:
"What a picture is here slumbering in the solemn glory of the moon! How
strong the rugged outlines of the dead volcano stand out against the
clear sky! What a snowy fringe marks the bursting of the surf over the
long, curved reef! How calmly the dim city sleeps yonder in the plain!
How soft the shadows lie upon the stately mountains that border the
dream-haunted Mauoa Valley! What a grand pyramid of billowy clouds
towers above the storied Pari! How the grim warriors of the past seem
flocking in ghostly squadrons to their ancient battlefield again--how the
wails of the dying well up from the--"
At this point the horse called Oahu sat down in the sand. Sat down to
listen, I suppose. Never mind what he heard, I stopped apostrophising
and convinced him that I was not a man to allow contempt of Court on the
part of a horse. I broke the back-bone of a Chief over his rump and set
out to join the cavalcade again.
Very considerably fagged out we arrived in town at 9 o'clock at night,
myself in the lead--for when my horse finally came to understand that he
was homeward bound and hadn't far to go, he turned his attention strictly
This is a good time to drop in a paragraph of information. There is no
regular livery stable in Honolulu, or, indeed, in any part of the Kingdom
of Hawaii; therefore unless you are acquainted with wealthy residents
(who all have good horses), you must hire animals of the wretchedest
description from the Kanakas. (i.e. natives.) Any horse you hire, even
though it be from a white man, is not often of much account, because it
will be brought in for you from some ranch, and has necessarily been
leading a hard life. If the Kanakas who have been caring for him
(inveterate riders they are) have not ridden him half to death every day
themselves, you can depend upon it they have been doing the same thing by
proxy, by clandestinely hiring him out. At least, so I am informed. The
result is, that no horse has a chance to eat, drink, rest, recuperate, or
look well or feel well, and so strangers go about the Islands mounted as
I was to-day.
In hiring a horse from a Kanaka, you must have all your eyes about you,
because you can rest satisfied that you are dealing with a shrewd
unprincipled rascal. You may leave your door open and your trunk
unlocked as long as you please, and he will not meddle with your
property; he has no important vices and no inclination to commit robbery
on a large scale; but if he can get ahead of you in the horse business,
he will take a genuine delight in doing it. This traits is
characteristic of horse jockeys, the world over, is it not? He will
overcharge you if he can; he will hire you a fine-looking horse at night
(anybody's--may be the King's, if the royal steed be in convenient view),
and bring you the mate to my Oahu in the morning, and contend that it is
the same animal. If you make trouble, he will get out by saying it was
not himself who made the bargain with you, but his brother, "who went out
in the country this morning." They have always got a "brother" to shift
the responsibility upon. A victim said to one of these fellows one day:
"But I know I hired the horse of you, because I noticed that scar on your
The reply was not bad: "Oh, yes--yes--my brother all same--we twins!"
A friend of mine, J. Smith, hired a horse yesterday, the Kanaka
warranting him to be in excellent condition.
Smith had a saddle and blanket of his own, and he ordered the Kanaka to
put these on the horse. The Kanaka protested that he was perfectly
willing to trust the gentleman with the saddle that was already on the
animal, but Smith refused to use it. The change was made; then Smith
noticed that the Kanaka had only changed the saddles, and had left the
original blanket on the horse; he said he forgot to change the blankets,
and so, to cut the bother short, Smith mounted and rode away. The horse
went lame a mile from town, and afterward got to cutting up some
extraordinary capers. Smith got down and took off the saddle, but the
blanket stuck fast to the horse--glued to a procession of raw places.
The Kanaka's mysterious conduct stood explained.
Another friend of mine bought a pretty good horse from a native, a day or
two ago, after a tolerably thorough examination of the animal. He
discovered today that the horse was as blind as a bat, in one eye. He
meant to have examined that eye, and came home with a general notion that
he had done it; but he remembers now that every time he made the attempt
his attention was called to something else by his victimizer.
One more instance, and then I will pass to something else. I am informed
that when a certain Mr. L., a visiting stranger, was here, he bought a
pair of very respectable-looking match horses from a native. They were
in a little stable with a partition through the middle of it--one horse
in each apartment. Mr. L. examined one of them critically through a
window (the Kanaka's "brother" having gone to the country with the key),
and then went around the house and examined the other through a window on
the other side. He said it was the neatest match he had ever seen, and
paid for the horses on the spot. Whereupon the Kanaka departed to join
his brother in the country. The fellow had shamefully swindled L. There
was only one "match" horse, and he had examined his starboard side
through one window and his port side through another! I decline to
believe this story, but I give it because it is worth something as a
fanciful illustration of a fixed fact--namely, that the Kanaka
horse-jockey is fertile in invention and elastic in conscience.
You can buy a pretty good horse for forty or fifty dollars, and a good
enough horse for all practical purposes for two dollars and a half. I
estimate "Oahu" to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-five
cents. A good deal better animal than he is was sold here day before
yesterday for a dollar and seventy-five cents, and sold again to-day for
two dollars and twenty-five cents; Williams bought a handsome and lively
little pony yesterday for ten dollars; and about the best common horse on
the island (and he is a really good one) sold yesterday, with Mexican
saddle and bridle, for seventy dollars--a horse which is well and widely
known, and greatly respected for his speed, good disposition and
You give your horse a little grain once a day; it comes from San
Francisco, and is worth about two cents a pound; and you give him as much
hay as he wants; it is cut and brought to the market by natives, and is
not very good it is baled into long, round bundles, about the size of a
large man; one of them is stuck by the middle on each end of a six foot
pole, and the Kanaka shoulders the pole and walks about the streets
between the upright bales in search of customers. These hay bales, thus
carried, have a general resemblance to a colossal capital 'H.'
The hay-bundles cost twenty-five cents apiece, and one will last a horse
about a day. You can get a horse for a song, a week's hay for another
song, and you can turn your animal loose among the luxuriant grass in
your neighbor's broad front yard without a song at all--you do it at
midnight, and stable the beast again before morning. You have been at no
expense thus far, but when you come to buy a saddle and bridle they will
cost you from twenty to thirty-five dollars. You can hire a horse,
saddle and bridle at from seven to ten dollars a week, and the owner will
take care of them at his own expense.
It is time to close this day's record--bed time. As I prepare for sleep,
a rich voice rises out of the still night, and, far as this ocean rock is
toward the ends of the earth, I recognize a familiar home air. But the
words seem somewhat out of joint:
"Waikiki lantoni oe Kaa hooly hooly wawhoo."
Translated, that means "When we were marching through Georgia."
Passing through the market place we saw that feature of Honolulu under
its most favorable auspices--that is, in the full glory of Saturday
afternoon, which is a festive day with the natives. The native girls by
twos and threes and parties of a dozen, and sometimes in whole platoons
and companies, went cantering up and down the neighboring streets astride
of fleet but homely horses, and with their gaudy riding habits streaming
like banners behind them. Such a troop of free and easy riders, in their
natural home, the saddle, makes a gay and graceful spectacle. The riding
habit I speak of is simply a long, broad scarf, like a tavern table cloth
brilliantly colored, wrapped around the loins once, then apparently
passed between the limbs and each end thrown backward over the same, and
floating and flapping behind on both sides beyond the horse's tail like a
couple of fancy flags; then, slipping the stirrup-irons between her toes,
the girl throws her chest for ward, sits up like a Major General and goes
sweeping by like the wind.
The girls put on all the finery they can on Saturday afternoon--fine
black silk robes; flowing red ones that nearly put your eyes out; others
as white as snow; still others that discount the rainbow; and they wear
their hair in nets, and trim their jaunty hats with fresh flowers, and
encircle their dusky throats with home-made necklaces of the brilliant
vermillion-tinted blossom of the ohia; and they fill the markets and the
adjacent street with their bright presences, and smell like a rag factory
on fire with their offensive cocoanut oil.
Occasionally you see a heathen from the sunny isles away down in the
South Seas, with his face and neck tatooed till he looks like the
customary mendicant from Washoe who has been blown up in a mine. Some
are tattooed a dead blue color down to the upper lip--masked, as it were
--leaving the natural light yellow skin of Micronesia unstained from
thence down; some with broad marks drawn down from hair to neck, on both
sides of the face, and a strip of the original yellow skin, two inches
wide, down the center--a gridiron with a spoke broken out; and some with
the entire face discolored with the popular mortification tint, relieved
only by one or two thin, wavy threads of natural yellow running across
the face from ear to ear, and eyes twinkling out of this darkness, from
under shadowing hat-brims, like stars in the dark of the moon.
Moving among the stirring crowds, you come to the poi merchants,
squatting in the shade on their hams, in true native fashion, and
surrounded by purchasers. (The Sandwich Islanders always squat on their
hams, and who knows but they may be the old original "ham sandwiches?"
The thought is pregnant with interest.) The poi looks like common flour
paste, and is kept in large bowls formed of a species of gourd, and
capable of holding from one to three or four gallons. Poi is the chief
article of food among the natives, and is prepared from the taro plant.
The taro root looks like a thick, or, if you please, a corpulent sweet
potato, in shape, but is of a light purple color when boiled. When
boiled it answers as a passable substitute for bread. The buck Kanakas
bake it under ground, then mash it up well with a heavy lava pestle, mix
water with it until it becomes a paste, set it aside and let if ferment,
and then it is poi--and an unseductive mixture it is, almost tasteless
before it ferments and too sour for a luxury afterward. But nothing is
more nutritious. When solely used, however, it produces acrid humors, a
fact which sufficiently accounts for the humorous character of the
Kanakas. I think there must be as much of a knack in handling poi as
there is in eating with chopsticks. The forefinger is thrust into the
mess and stirred quickly round several times and drawn as quickly out,
thickly coated, just as it it were poulticed; the head is thrown back,
the finger inserted in the mouth and the delicacy stripped off and
swallowed--the eye closing gently, meanwhile, in a languid sort of
ecstasy. Many a different finger goes into the same bowl and many a
different kind of dirt and shade and quality of flavor is added to the
virtues of its contents.
Around a small shanty was collected a crowd of natives buying the awa
root. It is said that but for the use of this root the destruction of
the people in former times by certain imported diseases would have been
far greater than it was, and by others it is said that this is merely a
fancy. All agree that poi will rejuvenate a man who is used up and his
vitality almost annihilated by hard drinking, and that in some kinds of
diseases it will restore health after all medicines have failed; but all
are not willing to allow to the awa the virtues claimed for it. The
natives manufacture an intoxicating drink from it which is fearful in its
effects when persistently indulged in. It covers the body with dry,
white scales, inflames the eyes, and causes premature decripitude.
Although the man before whose establishment we stopped has to pay a
Government license of eight hundred dollars a year for the exclusive
right to sell awa root, it is said that he makes a small fortune every
twelve-month; while saloon keepers, who pay a thousand dollars a year for
the privilege of retailing whiskey, etc., only make a bare living.
We found the fish market crowded; for the native is very fond of fish,
and eats the article raw and alive! Let us change the subject.
In old times here Saturday was a grand gala day indeed. All the native
population of the town forsook their labors, and those of the surrounding
country journeyed to the city. Then the white folks had to stay indoors,
for every street was so packed with charging cavaliers and cavalieresses
that it was next to impossible to thread one's way through the cavalcades
without getting crippled.
At night they feasted and the girls danced the lascivious hula hula--a
dance that is said to exhibit the very perfection of educated notion of
limb and arm, hand, head and body, and the exactest uniformity of
movement and accuracy of "time." It was performed by a circle of girls
with no raiment on them to speak of, who went through an infinite variety
of motions and figures without prompting, and yet so true was their
"time," and in such perfect concert did they move that when they were
placed in a straight line, hands, arms, bodies, limbs and heads waved,
swayed, gesticulated, bowed, stooped, whirled, squirmed, twisted and
undulated as if they were part and parcel of a single individual; and it
was difficult to believe they were not moved in a body by some exquisite
piece of mechanism.
Of late years, however, Saturday has lost most of its quondam gala
features. This weekly stampede of the natives interfered too much with
labor and the interests of the white folks, and by sticking in a law
here, and preaching a sermon there, and by various other means, they
gradually broke it up. The demoralizing hula hula was forbidden to be
performed, save at night, with closed doors, in presence of few
spectators, and only by permission duly procured from the authorities and
the payment of ten dollars for the same. There are few girls now-a-days
able to dance this ancient national dance in the highest perfection of
The missionaries have christianized and educated all the natives. They
all belong to the Church, and there is not one of them, above the age of
eight years, but can read and write with facility in the native tongue.
It is the most universally educated race of people outside of China.
They have any quantity of books, printed in the Kanaka language, and all
the natives are fond of reading. They are inveterate church-goers
--nothing can keep them away. All this ameliorating cultivation has at
last built up in the native women a profound respect for chastity--in
other people. Perhaps that is enough to say on that head. The national
sin will die out when the race does, but perhaps not earlier.--But
doubtless this purifying is not far off, when we reflect that contact
with civilization and the whites has reduced the native population from
four hundred thousand (Captain Cook's estimate,) to fifty-five thousand
in something over eighty years!
Society is a queer medley in this notable missionary, whaling and
governmental centre. If you get into conversation with a stranger and
experience that natural desire to know what sort of ground you are
treading on by finding out what manner of man your stranger is, strike
out boldly and address him as "Captain." Watch him narrowly, and if you
see by his countenance that you are on the wrong tack, ask him where he
preaches. It is a safe bet that he is either a missionary or captain of
a whaler. I am now personally acquainted with seventy-two captains and
ninety-six missionaries. The captains and ministers form one-half of the
population; the third fourth is composed of common Kanakas and mercantile
foreigners and their families, and the final fourth is made up of high
officers of the Hawaiian Government. And there are just about cats
enough for three apiece all around.
A solemn stranger met me in the suburbs the other day, and said:
"Good morning, your reverence. Preach in the stone church yonder, no
"No, I don't. I'm not a preacher."
"Really, I beg your pardon, Captain. I trust you had a good season. How
"Oil? What do you take me for? I'm not a whaler."
"Oh, I beg a thousand pardons, your Excellency.
"Major General in the household troops, no doubt? Minister of the
Interior, likely? Secretary of war? First Gentleman of the Bed-chamber?
Commissioner of the Royal"--
"Stuff! I'm no official. I'm not connected in any way with the
"Bless my life! Then, who the mischief are you? what the mischief are
you? and how the mischief did you get here, and where in thunder did you
"I'm only a private personage--an unassuming stranger--lately arrived
"No? Not a missionary! Not a whaler! not a member of his Majesty's
Government! not even Secretary of the Navy! Ah, Heaven! it is too
blissful to be true; alas, I do but dream. And yet that noble, honest
countenance--those oblique, ingenuous eyes--that massive head, incapable
of--of--anything; your hand; give me your hand, bright waif. Excuse
these tears. For sixteen weary years I have yearned for a moment like
Here his feelings were too much for him, and he swooned away. I pitied
this poor creature from the bottom of my heart. I was deeply moved. I
shed a few tears on him and kissed him for his mother. I then took what
small change he had and "shoved".
I still quote from my journal:
I found the national Legislature to consist of half a dozen white men and
some thirty or forty natives. It was a dark assemblage. The nobles and
Ministers (about a dozen of them altogether) occupied the extreme left of
the hall, with David Kalakaua (the King's Chamberlain) and Prince William
at the head. The President of the Assembly, His Royal Highness M.
Kekuanaoa, [Kekuanaoa is not of the blood royal. He derives his princely
rank from his wife, who was a daughter of Kamehameha the Great. Under
other monarchies the male line takes precedence of the female in tracing
genealogies, but here the opposite is the case--the female line takes
precedence. Their reason for this is exceedingly sensible, and I
recommend it to the aristocracy of Europe: They say it is easy to know
who a man's mother was, but, etc., etc.] and the Vice President (the
latter a white man,) sat in the pulpit, if I may so term it.
The President is the King's father. He is an erect, strongly built,
massive featured, white-haired, tawny old gentleman of eighty years of
age or thereabouts. He was simply but well dressed, in a blue cloth coat
and white vest, and white pantaloons, without spot, dust or blemish upon
them. He bears himself with a calm, stately dignity, and is a man of
noble presence. He was a young man and a distinguished warrior under
that terrific fighter, Kamehameha I., more than half a century ago. A
knowledge of his career suggested some such thought as this: "This man,
naked as the day he was born, and war-club and spear in hand, has charged
at the head of a horde of savages against other hordes of savages more
than a generation and a half ago, and reveled in slaughter and carnage;
has worshipped wooden images on his devout knees; has seen hundreds of
his race offered up in heathen temples as sacrifices to wooden idols, at
a time when no missionary's foot had ever pressed this soil, and he had
never heard of the white man's God; has believed his enemy could secretly
pray him to death; has seen the day, in his childhood, when it was a
crime punishable by death for a man to eat with his wife, or for a
plebeian to let his shadow fall upon the King--and now look at him; an
educated Christian; neatly and handsomely dressed; a high-minded, elegant
gentleman; a traveler, in some degree, and one who has been the honored
guest of royalty in Europe; a man practiced in holding the reins of an
enlightened government, and well versed in the politics of his country
and in general, practical information. Look at him, sitting there
presiding over the deliberations of a legislative body, among whom are
white men--a grave, dignified, statesmanlike personage, and as seemingly
natural and fitted to the place as if he had been born in it and had
never been out of it in his life time. How the experiences of this old
man's eventful life shame the cheap inventions of romance!"
The christianizing of the natives has hardly even weakened some of their
barbarian superstitions, much less destroyed them. I have just referred
to one of these. It is still a popular belief that if your enemy can get
hold of any article belonging to you he can get down on his knees over it
and pray you to death. Therefore many a native gives up and dies merely
because he imagines that some enemy is putting him through a course of
damaging prayer. This praying an individual to death seems absurd enough
at a first glance, but then when we call to mind some of the pulpit
efforts of certain of our own ministers the thing looks plausible.
In former times, among the Islanders, not only a plurality of wives was
customary, but a plurality of husbands likewise. Some native women of
noble rank had as many as six husbands. A woman thus supplied did not
reside with all her husbands at once, but lived several months with each
in turn. An understood sign hung at her door during these months. When
the sign was taken down, it meant "NEXT."
In those days woman was rigidly taught to "know her place." Her place
was to do all the work, take all the cuffs, provide all the food, and
content herself with what was left after her lord had finished his
dinner. She was not only forbidden, by ancient law, and under penalty of
death, to eat with her husband or enter a canoe, but was debarred, under
the same penalty, from eating bananas, pine-apples, oranges and other
choice fruits at any time or in any place. She had to confine herself
pretty strictly to "poi" and hard work. These poor ignorant heathen seem
to have had a sort of groping idea of what came of woman eating fruit in
the garden of Eden, and they did not choose to take any more chances.
But the missionaries broke up this satisfactory arrangement of things.
They liberated woman and made her the equal of man.
The natives had a romantic fashion of burying some of their children
alive when the family became larger than necessary. The missionaries
interfered in this matter too, and stopped it.
To this day the natives are able to lie down and die whenever they want
to, whether there is anything the matter with them or not. If a Kanaka
takes a notion to die, that is the end of him; nobody can persuade him to
hold on; all the doctors in the world could not save him.
A luxury which they enjoy more than anything else, is a large funeral.
If a person wants to get rid of a troublesome native, it is only
necessary to promise him a fine funeral and name the hour and he will be
on hand to the minute--at least his remains will.
All the natives are Christians, now, but many of them still desert to the
Great Shark God for temporary succor in time of trouble. An irruption of
the great volcano of Kilauea, or an earthquake, always brings a deal of
latent loyalty to the Great Shark God to the surface. It is common
report that the King, educated, cultivated and refined Christian
gentleman as he undoubtedly is, still turns to the idols of his fathers
for help when disaster threatens. A planter caught a shark, and one of
his christianized natives testified his emancipation from the thrall of
ancient superstition by assisting to dissect the shark after a fashion
forbidden by his abandoned creed. But remorse shortly began to torture
him. He grew moody and sought solitude; brooded over his sin, refused
food, and finally said he must die and ought to die, for he had sinned
against the Great Shark God and could never know peace any more. He was
proof against persuasion and ridicule, and in the course of a day or two
took to his bed and died, although he showed no symptom of disease.
His young daughter followed his lead and suffered a like fate within the
week. Superstition is ingrained in the native blood and bone and it is
only natural that it should crop out in time of distress. Wherever one
goes in the Islands, he will find small piles of stones by the wayside,
covered with leafy offerings, placed there by the natives to appease evil
spirits or honor local deities belonging to the mythology of former days.
In the rural districts of any of the Islands, the traveler hourly comes
upon parties of dusky maidens bathing in the streams or in the sea
without any clothing on and exhibiting no very intemperate zeal in the
matter of hiding their nakedness. When the missionaries first took up
their residence in Honolulu, the native women would pay their families
frequent friendly visits, day by day, not even clothed with a blush.
It was found a hard matter to convince them that this was rather
indelicate. Finally the missionaries provided them with long, loose
calico robes, and that ended the difficulty--for the women would troop
through the town, stark naked, with their robes folded under their arms,
march to the missionary houses and then proceed to dress!--The natives
soon manifested a strong proclivity for clothing, but it was shortly
apparent that they only wanted it for grandeur. The missionaries
imported a quantity of hats, bonnets, and other male and female wearing
apparel, instituted a general distribution, and begged the people not to
come to church naked, next Sunday, as usual. And they did not; but the
national spirit of unselfishness led them to divide up with neighbors who
were not at the distribution, and next Sabbath the poor preachers could
hardly keep countenance before their vast congregations. In the midst of
the reading of a hymn a brown, stately dame would sweep up the aisle with
a world of airs, with nothing in the world on but a "stovepipe" hat and a
pair of cheap gloves; another dame would follow, tricked out in a man's
shirt, and nothing else; another one would enter with a flourish, with
simply the sleeves of a bright calico dress tied around her waist and the
rest of the garment dragging behind like a peacock's tail off duty; a
stately "buck" Kanaka would stalk in with a woman's bonnet on, wrong side
before--only this, and nothing more; after him would stride his fellow,
with the legs of a pair of pantaloons tied around his neck, the rest of
his person untrammeled; in his rear would come another gentleman simply
gotten up in a fiery neck-tie and a striped vest.
The poor creatures were beaming with complacency and wholly unconscious
of any absurdity in their appearance. They gazed at each other with
happy admiration, and it was plain to see that the young girls were
taking note of what each other had on, as naturally as if they had always
lived in a land of Bibles and knew what churches were made for; here was
the evidence of a dawning civilization. The spectacle which the
congregation presented was so extraordinary and withal so moving, that
the missionaries found it difficult to keep to the text and go on with
the services; and by and by when the simple children of the sun began a
general swapping of garments in open meeting and produced some
irresistibly grotesque effects in the course of re-dressing, there was
nothing for it but to cut the thing short with the benediction and
dismiss the fantastic assemblage.
In our country, children play "keep house;" and in the same high-sounding
but miniature way the grown folk here, with the poor little material of
slender territory and meagre population, play "empire." There is his
royal Majesty the King, with a New York detective's income of thirty or
thirty-five thousand dollars a year from the "royal civil list" and the
"royal domain." He lives in a two-story frame "palace."
And there is the "royal family"--the customary hive of royal brothers,
sisters, cousins and other noble drones and vagrants usual to monarchy,
--all with a spoon in the national pap-dish, and all bearing such titles as
his or her Royal Highness the Prince or Princess So-and-so. Few of them
can carry their royal splendors far enough to ride in carriages, however;
they sport the economical Kanaka horse or "hoof it" with the plebeians.
Then there is his Excellency the "royal Chamberlain"--a sinecure, for his
majesty dresses himself with his own hands, except when he is ruralizing
at Waikiki and then he requires no dressing.
Next we have his Excellency the Commander-in-chief of the Household
Troops, whose forces consist of about the number of soldiers usually
placed under a corporal in other lands.
Next comes the royal Steward and the Grand Equerry in Waiting--high
dignitaries with modest salaries and little to do.
Then we have his Excellency the First Gentleman of the Bed-chamber--an
office as easy as it is magnificent.
Next we come to his Excellency the Prime Minister, a renegade American
from New Hampshire, all jaw, vanity, bombast and ignorance, a lawyer of
"shyster" calibre, a fraud by nature, a humble worshipper of the sceptre
above him, a reptile never tired of sneering at the land of his birth or
glorifying the ten-acre kingdom that has adopted him--salary, $4,000 a
year, vast consequence, and no perquisites.
Then we have his Excellency the Imperial Minister of Finance, who handles
a million dollars of public money a year, sends in his annual "budget"
with great ceremony, talks prodigiously of "finance," suggests imposing
schemes for paying off the "national debt" (of $150,000,) and does it all
for $4,000 a year and unimaginable glory.
Next we have his Excellency the Minister of War, who holds sway over the
royal armies--they consist of two hundred and thirty uniformed Kanakas,
mostly Brigadier Generals, and if the country ever gets into trouble with
a foreign power we shall probably hear from them. I knew an American
whose copper-plate visiting card bore this impressive legend:
"Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Infantry." To say that he was proud of
this distinction is stating it but tamely. The Minister of War has also
in his charge some venerable swivels on Punch-Bowl Hill wherewith royal
salutes are fired when foreign vessels of war enter the port.
Next comes his Excellency the Minister of the Navy--a nabob who rules the
"royal fleet," (a steam-tug and a sixty-ton schooner.)
And next comes his Grace the Lord Bishop of Honolulu, the chief dignitary
of the "Established Church"--for when the American Presbyterian
missionaries had completed the reduction of the nation to a compact
condition of Christianity, native royalty stepped in and erected the
grand dignity of an "Established (Episcopal) Church" over it, and
imported a cheap ready-made Bishop from England to take charge. The
chagrin of the missionaries has never been comprehensively expressed, to
this day, profanity not being admissible.
Next comes his Excellency the Minister of Public Instruction.
Next, their Excellencies the Governors of Oahu, Hawaii, etc., and after
them a string of High Sheriffs and other small fry too numerous for
Then there are their Excellencies the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister
Plenipotentiary of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the French; her
British Majesty's Minister; the Minister Resident, of the United States;
and some six or eight representatives of other foreign nations, all with
sounding titles, imposing dignity and prodigious but economical state.
Imagine all this grandeur in a play-house "kingdom" whose population
falls absolutely short of sixty thousand souls!
The people are so accustomed to nine-jointed titles and colossal magnates
that a foreign prince makes very little more stir in Honolulu than a
Western Congressman does in New York.
And let it be borne in mind that there is a strictly defined "court
costume" of so "stunning" a nature that it would make the clown in a
circus look tame and commonplace by comparison; and each Hawaiian
official dignitary has a gorgeous vari-colored, gold-laced uniform
peculiar to his office--no two of them are alike, and it is hard to tell
which one is the "loudest." The King had a "drawing-room" at stated
intervals, like other monarchs, and when these varied uniforms congregate
there--weak-eyed people have to contemplate the spectacle through smoked
glass. Is there not a gratifying contrast between this latter-day
exhibition and the one the ancestors of some of these magnates afforded
the missionaries the Sunday after the old-time distribution of clothing?
Behold what religion and civilization have wrought!
While I was in Honolulu I witnessed the ceremonious funeral of the King's
sister, her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria. According to the royal
custom, the remains had lain in state at the palace thirty days, watched
day and night by a guard of honor. And during all that time a great
multitude of natives from the several islands had kept the palace grounds
well crowded and had made the place a pandemonium every night with their
howlings and wailings, beating of tom-toms and dancing of the (at other
times) forbidden "hula-hula" by half-clad maidens to the music of songs
of questionable decency chanted in honor of the deceased. The printed
programme of the funeral procession interested me at the time; and after
what I have just said of Hawaiian grandiloquence in the matter of
"playing empire," I am persuaded that a perusal of it may interest the
After reading the long list of dignitaries, etc., and remembering
the sparseness of the population, one is almost inclined to wonder
where the material for that portion of the procession devoted to
"Hawaiian Population Generally" is going to be procured:
Royal School. Kawaiahao School. Roman Catholic School. Maemae School.
Honolulu Fire Department.
Mechanics' Benefit Union.
Knonohikis (Superintendents) of the Crown Lands, Konohikis of the Private
Lands of His Majesty Konohikis of the Private Lands of Her late Royal
Governor of Oahu and Staff.
Hulumanu (Military Company).
The Prince of Hawaii's Own (Military Company).
The King's household servants.
Servants of Her late Royal Highness.
Protestant Clergy. The Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.
His Lordship Louis Maigret, The Right Rev. Bishop of Arathea,
Vicar-Apostolic of the Hawaiian Islands.
The Clergy of the Hawaiian Reformed Catholic Church.
His Lordship the Right Rev. Bishop of Honolulu.
Her Majesty Queen Emma's Carriage.
His Majesty's Staff.
Carriage of Her late Royal Highness.
Carriage of Her Majesty the Queen Dowager.
The King's Chancellor.
His Excellency the Minister Resident of the United States.
H. B. M's Commissioner.
H. B. M's Acting Commissioner.
Judges of Supreme Court.
Members of Legislative Assembly.
Clerks of Government Departments.
Members of the Bar.
Collector General, Custom-house Officers and Officers of the Customs.
Marshal and Sheriffs of the different Islands.
Hawaiian Population Generally.
I resume my journal at the point where the procession arrived at the
As the procession filed through the gate, the military deployed
handsomely to the right and left and formed an avenue through which
the long column of mourners passed to the tomb. The coffin was
borne through the door of the mausoleum, followed by the King and
his chiefs, the great officers of the kingdom, foreign Consuls,
Embassadors and distinguished guests (Burlingame and General Van
Valkenburgh). Several of the kahilis were then fastened to a
frame-work in front of the tomb, there to remain until they decay
and fall to pieces, or, forestalling this, until another scion of
royalty dies. At this point of the proceedings the multitude set
up such a heart-broken wailing as I hope never to hear again.
The soldiers fired three volleys of musketry--the wailing being
previously silenced to permit of the guns being heard. His Highness
Prince William, in a showy military uniform (the "true prince," this
--scion of the house over-thrown by the present dynasty--he was formerly
betrothed to the Princess but was not allowed to marry her), stood guard
and paced back and forth within the door. The privileged few who
followed the coffin into the mausoleum remained sometime, but the King
soon came out and stood in the door and near one side of it. A stranger
could have guessed his rank (although he was so simply and
unpretentiously dressed) by the profound deference paid him by all
persons in his vicinity; by seeing his high officers receive his quiet
orders and suggestions with bowed and uncovered heads; and by observing
how careful those persons who came out of the mausoleum were to avoid
"crowding" him (although there was room enough in the doorway for a wagon
to pass, for that matter); how respectfully they edged out sideways,
scraping their backs against the wall and always presenting a front view
of their persons to his Majesty, and never putting their hats on until
they were well out of the royal presence.
He was dressed entirely in black--dress-coat and silk hat--and looked
rather democratic in the midst of the showy uniforms about him. On his
breast he wore a large gold star, which was half hidden by the lapel of
his coat. He remained at the door a half hour, and occasionally gave an
order to the men who were erecting the kahilis [Ranks of long-handled
mops made of gaudy feathers--sacred to royalty. They are stuck in the
ground around the tomb and left there.] before the tomb. He had the
good taste to make one of them substitute black crape for the ordinary
hempen rope he was about to tie one of them to the frame-work with.
Finally he entered his carriage and drove away, and the populace shortly
began to drop into his wake. While he was in view there was but one man
who attracted more attention than himself, and that was Harris (the
Yankee Prime Minister). This feeble personage had crape enough around
his hat to express the grief of an entire nation, and as usual he
neglected no opportunity of making himself conspicuous and exciting the
admiration of the simple Kanakas. Oh! noble ambition of this modern
It is interesting to contrast the funeral ceremonies of the Princess
Victoria with those of her noted ancestor Kamehameha the Conqueror, who
died fifty years ago--in 1819, the year before the first missionaries
"On the 8th of May, 1819, at the age of sixty-six, he died, as he
had lived, in the faith of his country. It was his misfortune not
to have come in contact with men who could have rightly influenced
his religious aspirations. Judged by his advantages and compared
with the most eminent of his countrymen he may be justly styled not
only great, but good. To this day his memory warms the heart and
elevates the national feelings of Hawaiians. They are proud of
their old warrior King; they love his name; his deeds form their
historical age; and an enthusiasm everywhere prevails, shared even
by foreigners who knew his worth, that constitutes the firmest
pillar of the throne of his dynasty.
"In lieu of human victims (the custom of that age), a sacrifice of
three hundred dogs attended his obsequies--no mean holocaust when
their national value and the estimation in which they were held are
considered. The bones of Kamehameha, after being kept for a while,
were so carefully concealed that all knowledge of their final
resting place is now lost. There was a proverb current among the
common people that the bones of a cruel King could not be hid; they
made fish-hooks and arrows of them, upon which, in using them, they
vented their abhorrence of his memory in bitter execrations."
The account of the circumstances of his death, as written by the native
historians, is full of minute detail, but there is scarcely a line of it
which does not mention or illustrate some by-gone custom of the country.
In this respect it is the most comprehensive document I have yet met
with. I will quote it entire:
"When Kamehameha was dangerously sick, and the priests were unable
to cure him, they said: 'Be of good courage and build a house for
the god' (his own private god or idol), that thou mayest recover.'
The chiefs corroborated this advice of the priests, and a place of
worship was prepared for Kukailimoku, and consecrated in the
evening. They proposed also to the King, with a view to prolong his
life, that human victims should be sacrificed to his deity; upon
which the greater part of the people absconded through fear of
death, and concealed themselves in hiding places till the tabu [Tabu
(pronounced tah-boo,) means prohibition (we have borrowed it,) or
sacred. The tabu was sometimes permanent, sometimes temporary; and
the person or thing placed under tabu was for the time being sacred
to the purpose for which it was set apart. In the above case the
victims selected under the tabu would be sacred to the sacrifice]
in which destruction impended, was past. It is doubtful whether
Kamehameha approved of the plan of the chiefs and priests to
sacrifice men, as he was known to say, 'The men are sacred for the
King;' meaning that they were for the service of his successor.
This information was derived from Liholiho, his son.
"After this, his sickness increased to such a degree that he had not
strength to turn himself in his bed. When another season,
consecrated for worship at the new temple (heiau) arrived, he said
to his son, Liholiho, 'Go thou and make supplication to thy god; I
am not able to go, and will offer my prayers at home.' When his
devotions to his feathered god, Kukailimoku, were concluded, a
certain religiously disposed individual, who had a bird god,
suggested to the King that through its influence his sickness might
be removed. The name of this god was Pua; its body was made of a
bird, now eaten by the Hawaiians, and called in their language alae.
Kamehameha was willing that a trial should be made, and two houses
were constructed to facilitate the experiment; but while dwelling in
them he became so very weak as not to receive food. After lying
there three days, his wives, children and chiefs, perceiving that he
was very low, returned him to his own house. In the evening he was
carried to the eating house, where he took a little food in his
mouth which he did not swallow; also a cup of water. The chiefs
requested him to give them his counsel; but he made no reply, and
was carried back to the dwelling house; but when near midnight--ten
o'clock, perhaps--he was carried again to the place to eat; but, as
before, he merely tasted of what was presented to him. Then
Kaikioewa addressed him thus: 'Here we all are, your younger
brethren, your son Liholiho and your foreigner; impart to us your
dying charge, that Liholiho and Kaahumanu may hear.' Then Kamehameha
inquired, 'What do you say?' Kaikioewa repeated, 'Your counsels for
"He then said, 'Move on in my good way and--.' He could proceed no
further. The foreigner, Mr. Young, embraced and kissed him.
Hoapili also embraced him, whispering something in his ear, after
which he was taken back to the house. About twelve he was carried
once more to the house for eating, into which his head entered,
while his body was in the dwelling house immediately adjoining. It
should be remarked that this frequent carrying of a sick chief from
one house to another resulted from the tabu system, then in force.
There were at that time six houses (huts) connected with an
establishment--one was for worship, one for the men to eat in, an
eating house for the women, a house to sleep in, a house in which to
manufacture kapa (native cloth) and one where, at certain intervals,
the women might dwell in seclusion.
"The sick was once more taken to his house, when he expired; this
was at two o'clock, a circumstance from which Leleiohoku derived his
name. As he breathed his last, Kalaimoku came to the eating house
to order those in it to go out. There were two aged persons thus
directed to depart; one went, the other remained on account of love
to the King, by whom he had formerly been kindly sustained. The
children also were sent away. Then Kalaimoku came to the house, and
the chiefs had a consultation. One of them spoke thus: 'This is my
thought--we will eat him raw. [This sounds suspicious, in view of
the fact that all Sandwich Island historians, white and black,
protest that cannibalism never existed in the islands. However,
since they only proposed to "eat him raw" we "won't count that".
But it would certainly have been cannibalism if they had cooked
him.--M. T.] Kaahumanu (one of the dead King's widows) replied,
'Perhaps his body is not at our disposal; that is more properly with
his successor. Our part in him--his breath--has departed; his
remains will be disposed of by Liholiho.'
"After this conversation the body was taken into the consecrated
house for the performance of the proper rites by the priest and the
new King. The name of this ceremony is uko; and when the sacred hog
was baked the priest offered it to the dead body, and it became a
god, the King at the same time repeating the customary prayers.
"Then the priest, addressing himself to the King and chiefs, said:
'I will now make known to you the rules to be observed respecting
persons to be sacrificed on the burial of this body. If you obtain
one man before the corpse is removed, one will be sufficient; but
after it leaves this house four will be required. If delayed until
we carry the corpse to the grave there must be ten; but after it is
deposited in the grave there must be fifteen. To-morrow morning
there will be a tabu, and, if the sacrifice be delayed until that
time, forty men must die.'
"Then the high priest, Hewahewa, inquired of the chiefs, 'Where
shall be the residence of King Liholiho?' They replied, 'Where,
indeed? You, of all men, ought to know.' Then the priest observed,
'There are two suitable places; one is Kau, the other is Kohala.'
The chiefs preferred the latter, as it was more thickly inhabited.
The priest added, 'These are proper places for the King's residence;
but he must not remain in Kona, for it is polluted.' This was
agreed to. It was now break of day. As he was being carried to the
place of burial the people perceived that their King was dead, and
they wailed. When the corpse was removed from the house to the
tomb, a distance of one chain, the procession was met by a certain
man who was ardently attached to the deceased. He leaped upon the
chiefs who were carrying the King's body; he desired to die with him
on account of his love. The chiefs drove him away. He persisted in
making numerous attempts, which were unavailing. Kalaimoka also had
it in his heart to die with him, but was prevented by Hookio.
"The morning following Kamehameha's death, Liholiho and his train
departed for Kohala, according to the suggestions of the priest, to
avoid the defilement occasioned by the dead. At this time if a
chief died the land was polluted, and the heirs sought a residence
in another part of the country until the corpse was dissected and
the bones tied in a bundle, which being done, the season of
defilement terminated. If the deceased were not a chief, the house
only was defiled which became pure again on the burial of the body.
Such were the laws on this subject.
"On the morning on which Liholiho sailed in his canoe for Kohala,
the chiefs and people mourned after their manner on occasion of a
chief's death, conducting themselves like madmen and like beasts.
Their conduct was such as to forbid description; The priests, also,
put into action the sorcery apparatus, that the person who had
prayed the King to death might die; for it was not believed that
Kamehameha's departure was the effect either of sickness or old age.
When the sorcerers set up by their fire-places sticks with a strip
of kapa flying at the top, the chief Keeaumoku, Kaahumaun's brother,
came in a state of intoxication and broke the flag-staff of the
sorcerers, from which it was inferred that Kaahumanu and her friends
had been instrumental in the King's death. On this account they
were subjected to abuse."
You have the contrast, now, and a strange one it is. This great Queen,
Kaahumanu, who was "subjected to abuse" during the frightful orgies that
followed the King's death, in accordance with ancient custom, afterward
became a devout Christian and a steadfast and powerful friend of the
Dogs were, and still are, reared and fattened for food, by the natives
--hence the reference to their value in one of the above paragraphs.
Forty years ago it was the custom in the Islands to suspend all law for a
certain number of days after the death of a royal personage; and then a
saturnalia ensued which one may picture to himself after a fashion, but
not in the full horror of the reality. The people shaved their heads,
knocked out a tooth or two, plucked out an eye sometimes, cut, bruised,
mutilated or burned their flesh, got drunk, burned each other's huts,
maimed or murdered one another according to the caprice of the moment,
and both sexes gave themselves up to brutal and unbridled licentiousness.
And after it all, came a torpor from which the nation slowly emerged
bewildered and dazed, as if from a hideous half-remembered nightmare.
They were not the salt of the earth, those "gentle children of the sun."
The natives still keep up an old custom of theirs which cannot be
comforting to an invalid. When they think a sick friend is going to die,
a couple of dozen neighbors surround his hut and keep up a deafening
wailing night and day till he either dies or gets well. No doubt this
arrangement has helped many a subject to a shroud before his appointed
They surround a hut and wail in the same heart-broken way when its
occupant returns from a journey. This is their dismal idea of a welcome.
A very little of it would go a great way with most of us.
Bound for Hawaii (a hundred and fifty miles distant,) to visit the great
volcano and behold the other notable things which distinguish that island
above the remainder of the group, we sailed from Honolulu on a certain
Saturday afternoon, in the good schooner Boomerang.
The Boomerang was about as long as two street cars, and about as wide as
one. She was so small (though she was larger than the majority of the
inter-island coasters) that when I stood on her deck I felt but little
smaller than the Colossus of Rhodes must have felt when he had a
man-of-war under him. I could reach the water when she lay over under a
strong breeze. When the Captain and my comrade (a Mr. Billings), myself
and four other persons were all assembled on the little after portion of
the deck which is sacred to the cabin passengers, it was full--there was
not room for any more quality folks. Another section of the deck, twice
as large as ours, was full of natives of both sexes, with their customary
dogs, mats, blankets, pipes, calabashes of poi, fleas, and other luxuries
and baggage of minor importance. As soon as we set sail the natives all
lay down on the deck as thick as negroes in a slave-pen, and smoked,
conversed, and spit on each other, and were truly sociable.
The little low-ceiled cabin below was rather larger than a hearse, and as
dark as a vault. It had two coffins on each side--I mean two bunks.
A small table, capable of accommodating three persons at dinner, stood
against the forward bulkhead, and over it hung the dingiest whale oil
lantern that ever peopled the obscurity of a dungeon with ghostly shapes.
The floor room unoccupied was not extensive. One might swing a cat in
it, perhaps, but not a long cat. The hold forward of the bulkhead had
but little freight in it, and from morning till night a portly old
rooster, with a voice like Baalam's ass, and the same disposition to use
it, strutted up and down in that part of the vessel and crowed. He
usually took dinner at six o'clock, and then, after an hour devoted to
meditation, he mounted a barrel and crowed a good part of the night.
He got hoarser all the time, but he scorned to allow any personal
consideration to interfere with his duty, and kept up his labors in
defiance of threatened diphtheria.
Sleeping was out of the question when he was on watch. He was a source
of genuine aggravation and annoyance. It was worse than useless to shout
at him or apply offensive epithets to him--he only took these things for
applause, and strained himself to make more noise. Occasionally, during
the day, I threw potatoes at him through an aperture in the bulkhead, but
he only dodged and went on crowing.
The first night, as I lay in my coffin, idly watching the dim lamp
swinging to the rolling of the ship, and snuffing the nauseous odors of
bilge water, I felt something gallop over me. I turned out promptly.
However, I turned in again when I found it was only a rat. Presently
something galloped over me once more. I knew it was not a rat this time,
and I thought it might be a centipede, because the Captain had killed one
on deck in the afternoon. I turned out. The first glance at the pillow
showed me repulsive sentinel perched upon each end of it--cockroaches as
large as peach leaves--fellows with long, quivering antennae and fiery,
malignant eyes. They were grating their teeth like tobacco worms, and
appeared to be dissatisfied about something. I had often heard that
these reptiles were in the habit of eating off sleeping sailors' toe
nails down to the quick, and I would not get in the bunk any more. I lay
down on the floor. But a rat came and bothered me, and shortly afterward
a procession of cockroaches arrived and camped in my hair. In a few
moments the rooster was crowing with uncommon spirit and a party of fleas
were throwing double somersaults about my person in the wildest disorder,
and taking a bite every time they struck. I was beginning to feel really
annoyed. I got up and put my clothes on and went on deck.
The above is not overdrawn; it is a truthful sketch of inter-island
schooner life. There is no such thing as keeping a vessel in elegant
condition, when she carries molasses and Kanakas.
It was compensation for my sufferings to come unexpectedly upon so
beautiful a scene as met my eye--to step suddenly out of the sepulchral
gloom of the cabin and stand under the strong light of the moon--in the
centre, as it were, of a glittering sea of liquid silver--to see the
broad sails straining in the gale, the ship heeled over on her side, the
angry foam hissing past her lee bulwarks, and sparkling sheets of spray
dashing high over her bows and raining upon her decks; to brace myself
and hang fast to the first object that presented itself, with hat jammed
down and coat tails whipping in the breeze, and feel that exhilaration
that thrills in one's hair and quivers down his back bone when he knows
that every inch of canvas is drawing and the vessel cleaving through the
waves at her utmost speed. There was no darkness, no dimness, no
obscurity there. All was brightness, every object was vividly defined.
Every prostrate Kanaka; every coil of rope; every calabash of poi; every
puppy; every seam in the flooring; every bolthead; every object; however
minute, showed sharp and distinct in its every outline; and the shadow of
the broad mainsail lay black as a pall upon the deck, leaving Billings's
white upturned face glorified and his body in a total eclipse.
Monday morning we were close to the island of Hawaii. Two of its high
mountains were in view--Mauna Loa and Hualaiai.
The latter is an imposing peak, but being only ten thousand feet high is
seldom mentioned or heard of. Mauna Loa is said to be sixteen thousand
feet high. The rays of glittering snow and ice, that clasped its summit
like a claw, looked refreshing when viewed from the blistering climate we
were in. One could stand on that mountain (wrapped up in blankets and
furs to keep warm), and while he nibbled a snowball or an icicle to
quench his thirst he could look down the long sweep of its sides and see
spots where plants are growing that grow only where the bitter cold of
Winter prevails; lower down he could see sections devoted to production
that thrive in the temperate zone alone; and at the bottom of the
mountain he could see the home of the tufted cocoa-palms and other
species of vegetation that grow only in the sultry atmosphere of eternal
Summer. He could see all the climes of the world at a single glance of
the eye, and that glance would only pass over a distance of four or five
miles as the bird flies!
By and by we took boat and went ashore at Kailua, designing to ride
horseback through the pleasant orange and coffee region of Kona, and
rejoin the vessel at a point some leagues distant. This journey is well
worth taking. The trail passes along on high ground--say a thousand feet
above sea level--and usually about a mile distant from the ocean, which
is always in sight, save that occasionally you find yourself buried in
the forest in the midst of a rank tropical vegetation and a dense growth
of trees, whose great bows overarch the road and shut out sun and sea and
everything, and leave you in a dim, shady tunnel, haunted with invisible
singing birds and fragrant with the odor of flowers. It was pleasant to
ride occasionally in the warm sun, and feast the eye upon the
ever-changing panorama of the forest (beyond and below us), with its many
tints, its softened lights and shadows, its billowy undulations sweeping
gently down from the mountain to the sea. It was pleasant also, at
intervals, to leave the sultry sun and pass into the cool, green depths
of this forest and indulge in sentimental reflections under the
inspiration of its brooding twilight and its whispering foliage.
We rode through one orange grove that had ten thousand tree in it!
They were all laden with fruit.
At one farmhouse we got some large peaches of excellent flavor.
This fruit, as a general thing, does not do well in the Sandwich Islands.
It takes a sort of almond shape, and is small and bitter. It needs
frost, they say, and perhaps it does; if this be so, it will have a good
opportunity to go on needing it, as it will not be likely to get it.
The trees from which the fine fruit I have spoken of, came, had been
planted and replanted sixteen times, and to this treatment the proprietor
of the orchard attributed his-success.
We passed several sugar plantations--new ones and not very extensive.
The crops were, in most cases, third rattoons. [NOTE.--The first crop is
called "plant cane;" subsequent crops which spring from the original
roots, without replanting, are called "rattoons."] Almost everywhere on
the island of Hawaii sugar-cane matures in twelve months, both rattoons
and plant, and although it ought to be taken off as soon as it tassels,
no doubt, it is not absolutely necessary to do it until about four months
afterward. In Kona, the average yield of an acre of ground is two tons
of sugar, they say. This is only a moderate yield for these islands, but
would be astounding for Louisiana and most other sugar growing countries.
The plantations in Kona being on pretty high ground--up among the light
and frequent rains--no irrigation whatever is required.
We stopped some time at one of the plantations, to rest ourselves and
refresh the horses. We had a chatty conversation with several gentlemen
present; but there was one person, a middle aged man, with an absent look
in his face, who simply glanced up, gave us good-day and lapsed again
into the meditations which our coming had interrupted. The planters
whispered us not to mind him--crazy. They said he was in the Islands for
his health; was a preacher; his home, Michigan. They said that if he
woke up presently and fell to talking about a correspondence which he had
some time held with Mr. Greeley about a trifle of some kind, we must
humor him and listen with interest; and we must humor his fancy that this
correspondence was the talk of the world.
It was easy to see that he was a gentle creature and that his madness had
nothing vicious in it. He looked pale, and a little worn, as if with
perplexing thought and anxiety of mind. He sat a long time, looking at
the floor, and at intervals muttering to himself and nodding his head
acquiescingly or shaking it in mild protest. He was lost in his thought,
or in his memories. We continued our talk with the planters, branching
from subject to subject. But at last the word "circumstance," casually
dropped, in the course of conversation, attracted his attention and
brought an eager look into his countenance. He faced about in his chair
"Circumstance? What circumstance? Ah, I know--I know too well. So you
have heard of it too." [With a sigh.] "Well, no matter--all the world
has heard of it. All the world. The whole world. It is a large world,
too, for a thing to travel so far in--now isn't it? Yes, yes--the
Greeley correspondence with Erickson has created the saddest and
bitterest controversy on both sides of the ocean--and still they keep it
up! It makes us famous, but at what a sorrowful sacrifice! I was so
sorry when I heard that it had caused that bloody and distressful war
over there in Italy. It was little comfort to me, after so much
bloodshed, to know that the victors sided with me, and the vanquished
with Greeley.--It is little comfort to know that Horace Greeley is
responsible for the battle of Sadowa, and not me.
"Queen Victoria wrote me that she felt just as I did about it--she said
that as much as she was opposed to Greeley and the spirit he showed in
the correspondence with me, she would not have had Sadowa happen for
hundreds of dollars. I can show you her letter, if you would like to see
it. But gentlemen, much as you may think you know about that unhappy
correspondence, you cannot know the straight of it till you hear it from
my lips. It has always been garbled in the journals, and even in
history. Yes, even in history--think of it! Let me--please let me, give
you the matter, exactly as it occurred. I truly will not abuse your
Then he leaned forward, all interest, all earnestness, and told his
story--and told it appealingly, too, and yet in the simplest and most
unpretentious way; indeed, in such a way as to suggest to one, all the
time, that this was a faithful, honorable witness, giving evidence in the
sacred interest of justice, and under oath. He said:
"Mrs. Beazeley--Mrs. Jackson Beazeley, widow, of the village of
Campbellton, Kansas,--wrote me about a matter which was near her heart
--a matter which many might think trivial, but to her it was a thing of
deep concern. I was living in Michigan, then--serving in the ministry.
She was, and is, an estimable woman--a woman to whom poverty and hardship
have proven incentives to industry, in place of discouragements.
Her only treasure was her son William, a youth just verging upon manhood;
religious, amiable, and sincerely attached to agriculture. He was the
widow's comfort and her pride. And so, moved by her love for him, she
wrote me about a matter, as I have said before, which lay near her heart
--because it lay near her boy's. She desired me to confer with
Mr. Greeley about turnips. Turnips were the dream of her child's young
ambition. While other youths were frittering away in frivolous
amusements the precious years of budding vigor which God had given them
for useful preparation, this boy was patiently enriching his mind with
information concerning turnips. The sentiment which he felt toward the
turnip was akin to adoration. He could not think of the turnip without
emotion; he could not speak of it calmly; he could not contemplate it
without exaltation. He could not eat it without shedding tears. All the
poetry in his sensitive nature was in sympathy with the gracious
vegetable. With the earliest pipe of dawn he sought his patch, and when
the curtaining night drove him from it he shut himself up with his books
and garnered statistics till sleep overcame him. On rainy days he sat
and talked hours together with his mother about turnips. When company
came, he made it his loving duty to put aside everything else and
converse with them all the day long of his great joy in the turnip.
"And yet, was this joy rounded and complete? Was there no secret alloy of
unhappiness in it? Alas, there was. There was a canker gnawing at his
heart; the noblest inspiration of his soul eluded his endeavor--viz: he
could not make of the turnip a climbing vine. Months went by; the bloom
forsook his cheek, the fire faded out of his eye; sighings and
abstraction usurped the place of smiles and cheerful converse. But a
watchful eye noted these things and in time a motherly sympathy unsealed
the secret. Hence the letter to me. She pleaded for attention--she said
her boy was dying by inches.
"I was a stranger to Mr. Greeley, but what of that? The matter was
urgent. I wrote and begged him to solve the difficult problem if
possible and save the student's life. My interest grew, until it partook
of the anxiety of the mother. I waited in much suspense.--At last the
"I found that I could not read it readily, the handwriting being
unfamiliar and my emotions somewhat wrought up. It seemed to refer in
part to the boy's case, but chiefly to other and irrelevant matters--such
as paving-stones, electricity, oysters, and something which I took to be
'absolution' or 'agrarianism,' I could not be certain which; still, these
appeared to be simply casual mentions, nothing more; friendly in spirit,
without doubt, but lacking the connection or coherence necessary to make
them useful.--I judged that my understanding was affected by my feelings,
and so laid the letter away till morning.
"In the morning I read it again, but with difficulty and uncertainty
still, for I had lost some little rest and my mental vision seemed
clouded. The note was more connected, now, but did not meet the
emergency it was expected to meet. It was too discursive. It appeared
to read as follows, though I was not certain of some of the words:
"Polygamy dissembles majesty; extracts redeem polarity; causes
hitherto exist. Ovations pursue wisdom, or warts inherit and
condemn. Boston, botany, cakes, folony undertakes, but who shall
allay? We fear not. Yrxwly,
"But there did not seem to be a word about turnips. There seemed to be
no suggestion as to how they might be made to grow like vines. There was
not even a reference to the Beazeleys. I slept upon the matter; I ate no
supper, neither any breakfast next morning. So I resumed my work with a
brain refreshed, and was very hopeful. Now the letter took a different
aspect-all save the signature, which latter I judged to be only a
harmless affectation of Hebrew. The epistle was necessarily from Mr.
Greeley, for it bore the printed heading of The Tribune, and I had
written to no one else there. The letter, I say, had taken a different
aspect, but still its language was eccentric and avoided the issue. It
now appeared to say:
"Bolivia extemporizes mackerel; borax esteems polygamy; sausages
wither in the east. Creation perdu, is done; for woes inherent one
can damn. Buttons, buttons, corks, geology underrates but we shall
allay. My beer's out. Yrxwly,
"I was evidently overworked. My comprehension was impaired. Therefore I
gave two days to recreation, and then returned to my task greatly
refreshed. The letter now took this form:
"Poultices do sometimes choke swine; tulips reduce posterity; causes
leather to resist. Our notions empower wisdom, her let's afford
while we can. Butter but any cakes, fill any undertaker, we'll wean
him from his filly. We feel hot.
Yrxwly, HEVACE EVEELOJ.'
"I was still not satisfied. These generalities did not meet the
question. They were crisp, and vigorous, and delivered with a confidence
that almost compelled conviction; but at such a time as this, with a
human life at stake, they seemed inappropriate, worldly, and in bad
taste. At any other time I would have been not only glad, but proud, to
receive from a man like Mr. Greeley a letter of this kind, and would have
studied it earnestly and tried to improve myself all I could; but now,
with that poor boy in his far home languishing for relief, I had no heart
"Three days passed by, and I read the note again. Again its tenor had
changed. It now appeared to say:
"Potations do sometimes wake wines; turnips restrain passion; causes
necessary to state. Infest the poor widow; her lord's effects will
be void. But dirt, bathing, etc., etc., followed unfairly, will
worm him from his folly--so swear not.
Yrxwly, HEVACE EVEELOJ.'
"This was more like it. But I was unable to proceed. I was too much
worn. The word 'turnips' brought temporary joy and encouragement, but my
strength was so much impaired, and the delay might be so perilous for the
boy, that I relinquished the idea of pursuing the translation further,
and resolved to do what I ought to have done at first. I sat down and
wrote Mr. Greeley as follows:
"DEAR SIR: I fear I do not entirely comprehend your kind note. It
cannot be possible, Sir, that 'turnips restrain passion'--at least
the study or contemplation of turnips cannot--for it is this very
employment that has scorched our poor friend's mind and sapped his
bodily strength.--But if they do restrain it, will you bear with us
a little further and explain how they should be prepared? I observe
that you say 'causes necessary to state,' but you have omitted to
"Under a misapprehension, you seem to attribute to me interested
motives in this matter--to call it by no harsher term. But I assure
you, dear sir, that if I seem to be 'infesting the widow,' it is all
seeming, and void of reality. It is from no seeking of mine that I
am in this position. She asked me, herself, to write you. I never
have infested her--indeed I scarcely know her. I do not infest
anybody. I try to go along, in my humble way, doing as near right
as I can, never harming anybody, and never throwing out
insinuations. As for 'her lord and his effects,' they are of no
interest to me. I trust I have effects enough of my own--shall
endeavor to get along with them, at any rate, and not go mousing
around to get hold of somebody's that are 'void.' But do you not
see?--this woman is a widow--she has no 'lord.' He is dead--or
pretended to be, when they buried him. Therefore, no amount of
'dirt, bathing,' etc., etc., howsoever 'unfairly followed' will be
likely to 'worm him from his folly'--if being dead and a ghost is
'folly.' Your closing remark is as unkind as it was uncalled for;
and if report says true you might have applied it to yourself, sir,
with more point and less impropriety.
Very Truly Yours, SIMON ERICKSON.
"In the course of a few days, Mr. Greely did what would have saved a
world of trouble, and much mental and bodily suffering and
misunderstanding, if he had done it sooner. To wit, he sent an
intelligible rescript or translation of his original note, made in a
plain hand by his clerk. Then the mystery cleared, and I saw that his
heart had been right, all the time. I will recite the note in its
'Potatoes do sometimes make vines; turnips remain passive: cause
unnecessary to state. Inform the poor widow her lad's efforts will
be vain. But diet, bathing, etc. etc., followed uniformly, will
wean him from his folly--so fear not.
Yours, HORACE GREELEY.'
"But alas, it was too late, gentlemen--too late. The criminal delay had
done its work--young Beazely was no more. His spirit had taken its
flight to a land where all anxieties shall be charmed away, all desires
gratified, all ambitions realized. Poor lad, they laid him to his rest
with a turnip in each hand."
So ended Erickson, and lapsed again into nodding, mumbling, and
abstraction. The company broke up, and left him so.... But they did not
say what drove him crazy. In the momentary confusion, I forgot to ask.
Back to Full Books