Skip to Content
Indiana University

Search Options




View Options


The Hawaiian Archipelago: Six Months Among the Palm Groves, Coral Reefs, and Volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands. Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831–1904.
previous
next
page: 37
HAWAIIAN HOTEL, Jan. 28th.

SUNDAY was a very pleasant day here. Church bells rang, and the shady streets were filled with people in holiday dress. There are two large native churches, the Kaumakapili, and the Kaiwaiaho, usually called the stone church. The latter is an immense substantial building, for the erection of which each Christian native brought a block of rock-coral. There is a large Roman Catholic church, the priests of which are said to have been somewhat successful in proselytizing operations. The Reformed Catholic, or English temporary cathedral, is a tasteful but very simple wooden building, standing in pretty grounds, on which a very useful institution for boarding and training native and half-white girls, and the reception of white girls as day scholars, also stands. This is in connection with Miss Sellon's Sisterhood at Devonport. Another building, alongside the cathedral, is used for English service in Hawaiian. There are two Congregational churches: the old “Bethel,” of which the Rev. S.C. Damon, known to all strangers, and one of the oldest and most respected Honolulu residents, is the minister; and the “Fort St. Church,” which has a large and influential congregation, and has been said to “run the government,” page: 38 because its members compose the majority of the Cabinet. Lunalilo, the present king, has cast in his lot with the Congregationalists, but queen Emma is an earnest member of the Anglican Church, and attends the Liturgical Hawaiian Service in order to throw the weight of her influence with the natives into the scale of that communion. Her husband spent many of his later days in translating the Prayer-Book. As is natural, most of the natives belong to the denomination from which they or their fathers received the Christian faith, and the majority of the foreigners are of the same persuasion. The New England Puritan influence, with its rigid Sabbatarianism, though considerably worn away, is still influential enough to produce a general appearance of Sabbath observance. The stores are closed, the church-going is very demonstrative, and the pleasure-seeking is very unobtrusive. The wharves are profoundly quiet.

I went twice to the English Cathedral, and was interested to see there a lady in a nun's habit, with a number of brown girls, who was pointed out to me as Sister Bertha, who has been working here usefully for many years. The ritual is high. I am told that it is above the desires and the comprehension of most of the island episcopalians, but the zeal and disinterestedness of Bishop Willis will, in time, I doubt not, win upon those who prize such qualities. He called in the afternoon, and took me to his pretty, unpretending residence up the Nuuanu Valley. He has a training and boarding school there for native boys, some of whom were at church in the morning as a surpliced choir. The bishop, his sister, page: 39 the schoolmaster, and fourteen boys take their meals together in a refectory, the boys acting as servitors by turns. There is service every morning at 6.30 in the private chapel attached to the house, and also in the cathedral a little later. Early risers, so near the equator, must get up by candlelight all the year round.

This morning we joined our kind friends from the Nevada for the last time at breakfast. I have noticed that there is often a centrifugal force which acts upon passengers who have been long at sea together, dispersing them on reaching port. Indeed, the temporary enforced cohesion is often succeeded by violent repulsion. But in this instance we deeply regret the dissolution of our pleasant fraternity; the less so, however, that this wonderful climate has produced a favourable change in Mr. D., who no longer requires the hourly attention they have hitherto shown him. The mornings here, dew-bathed and rose-flushed, are, if possible, more lovely than the nights, and people are astir early to enjoy them. The American consul and Mr. Damon called while we were sitting at our eight-o'clock breakfast, from which I gather that formalities are dispensed with. After spending the morning in hunting among the stores for things which were essential for the invalid, I lunched in the Nevada with Captain Blethen and our friends.

Next to the advent of “national ships” (a euphemism for men-of-war), the arrivals and departures of the New Zealand mail-steamers constitute the great excitement of Honolulu, and the failures, mishaps, and wonderful unpunctuality of this Webb line are highly stimulating in a page: 40 region where “nothing happens.” The loungers were saying that the Nevada's pumps were going for five days before we arrived, and pointed out the clearness of the water which was running from them at the wharf as an evidence that she was leaking badly.* The crowd of natives was enormous, and the foreigners were there in hundreds. She was loading with oranges and green bananas up to the last moment,—those tasteless bananas which, out of the tropics, misrepresent this most delicious and ambrosial fruit.

There was a far greater excitement for the natives, for King Lunalilo was about to pay a state visit to the American flag-ship California, and every available place along the wharves and roads was crowded with kanakas anxious to see him. I should tell you that the late king, being without heirs, ought to have nominated his successor; but it is said that a sorceress, under whose influence he was, persuaded him that his death would follow upon this act. When he died, two months ago, leaving the succession unprovided for, the duty of electing a sovereign, according to the constitution, devolved upon the people through their representatives, and they exercised it with a combination of order and enthusiasm which reflects great credit on their civilization. They chose the highest chief on the islands, Lunalilo (Above All), known among foreigners as “Prince Bill,” and at this time letters of


* A week after her sailing, this unlucky ship put back with some mysterious ailment, and on her final arrival at San Francisco, her condition was found to be such that it was a marvel that she had made the passage at all.

page: 41 congratulation are pouring in upon him from his brethren, the sovereigns of Europe.

The spectacular effect of a pageant here is greatly heightened by the cloudless blue sky, and the wealth of light and colour. It was very hot, almost too hot for sight-seeing, on the Nevada's bow. Expectation among the lieges became tremendous and vociferous when Admiral Pennock's sixteen-oared barge, with a handsome awning, followed by two well-manned boats, swept across the strip of water which lies between the ships and the shore. Outrigger canoes, with garlanded men and women, were poised upon the motionless water or darted gracefully round the ironclads, as gracefully to come to rest. Then a stir and swaying of the crowd, and the American Admiral was seen standing at the steps of an English barouche and four, and an Hawaiian imitation of an English cheer rang out upon the air. More cheering, more excitement, and I saw nothing else till the Admiral's barge, containing the Admiral, and the King dressed in a plain morning suit with a single decoration, swept past the Nevada. The suite followed in the other boats,—brown men and white, governors, ministers, and court dignitaries, in Windsor uniforms, but with an added resplendency of plumes, epaulettes, and gold lace. As soon as Lunalilo reached the California, the yards of the three ships were manned, and amidst cheering which rent the air, and the deafening thunder of a royal salute from sixty-three guns of heavy calibre, the popular descendant of seventy generations of sceptred savages stepped on board the flag-ship's deck. No higher honours could page: 42 have been paid to the Emperor “of all the Russias.” I have seen few sights more curious than that of the representative of the American Republic standing bare-headed before a coloured man, and the two mightiest empires on earth paying royal honours to a Polynesian sovereign, whose little kingdom in the North Pacific is known to many of us at home only as “the group of islands where Captain Cook was killed.” Ah! how lovely this Queen of Oceans is! Blue, bright, balm-breathing, gentle in its supreme strength, different both in motion and colour from the coarse “vexed Atlantic!”

previous
next