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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27

The Sandwich Islands

The Sandwich Islands

Are 2350 miles from San Francisco, and the same distance from Japan, the Marquesas, the Samoa Islands, and the Alentian Islands. "They are only connected with the other Pacific Islands by bare coral reefs, the nearest of which is 700 miles off." They are civilised and Christianized, with an educated king. They are seven in number; besides four rocky and uninhabited islets. Hawaii, the largest, is 70 miles across. It has vast volcanic mountains, some 14,000 feet high. "Hilo, the principal town in Hawaii, is one of the most delightful places in the world. The crescent-shaped bay is fringed with cocoanut and palm trees, and the town beyond looks from the sea like one mass of greenery, for white houses are half burried in the rich, luxuriant vegetation." The people are indolent and voluptuous. They are passionately fond of flowers. "The girls and women are constantly employed in making wreaths and necklaces of every description, with which they adorn themselves." The taro or kalo, a sort of arum, forms the principal article of diet. They are famous bathers and swimmers. Molokai Island is reserved for lepers. "Father Danneus, a man of education and refinement, has chosen to give up all the comforts and enjoyments of life" in order to minister to the wants of his afflicted page 86 fellow islanders. He is a noble example of heroic self-sacrifice. The volcano of Kilanea is the largest in the world—a gulph of liquid fire, nine miles in circumference and 1000 feet deep down the centre. It issues out of Mauna Loa, which with Mauna Kea, are the two great volcanic mountains towering over Hilo. Fancy a river of fire issuing from four huge fountains, throwing crimson lava, and rocks weighing many tons, to a height of 1000 feet. Fancy, I say, "a river of fire from 200 to 800 feet wide, and 20 feet deep, with a speed varying from 10 to 25 miles an hour."