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Polynesian Researches


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Traditions connected with the northern part of Kohala—Methods of procuring sandal-wood—Manufacture of salt at Towaihae—Visit to Waimen—Ascent of MounaKea—Arrival of Messrs Bishop and Goodrich at Kairua—Erection of a place of worship—Observance of the sabbath—Maritime character of the people—Government of the islands—Hereditary rank—Tenure of lands—Revenue and laws—Embarkation for Oahu

Having seen the most remarkable places in the village, we took leave of Miomioi, and proceeded in a north-north-west direction.

At noon we stopped at Kapaau, an inland village, where, with some difficulty, we collected a congregation of about fifty, principally women, to whom a short discourse was addressed. When we had remained some time for rest and conversation, we resumed our journey, and proceeded towards the north point of the island, near which we passed through the district of Pauepu, in which formerly stood a temple called Mokini, celebrated, in the historical accounts of the Hawaiians, as built by Paao, a foreign priest, who resided in Pauepu, and officiated in this temple.

A tradition preserved among them states, that in the reign of Kahoukapu, a kahuna (priest) arrived at Hawaii, from a foreign country; that he was a white man, and brought with him two idols or page 393 gods, one large, and the other small; that they were adopted by the people, and placed among the Hawaiian gods; that the above-mentioned temple of Mokini was erected for them, where they were worshipped according to the direction of Paao, who became a powerful man in the nation. The principal event preserved of his life, however, respects a child of Kahoukapu, whose mother was a woman of humble rank, but which was spared at the solicitations of Paao. After his death, his son, Opiri, officiated in his temple; and the only particular worthy of note in their account of his life, is his acting as interpreter between the king and a party of white men who arrived at the island.—We forbear making any comment on the above, though it naturally originates a variety of interesting inquiries. We heard a similar account of this priest at two other places during our tour, namely, at Kairua, and at the first place we visited after setting out.

During our journey to-day we also passed another place, celebrated as the residence of the brother of Kana, a warrior; in comparison with the fabulous account of whose achievements, the descriptions in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments are tame. He is described as having been so tall, that he could walk through the sea from one island to another; stand with one foot on the island of Oahu, and the other on Tauai, which is seventy miles distant.

The tale which recounts his adventures states, that the Hawaiians, on one occasion, offended a king of Tahiti; who, in revenge, deprived them of the sun; that, after the land had remained some time in darkness, Kana walked through the sea to Tahiti, where Kahoaarii, who according to their page 394 traditions made the sun, then resided. He obtained the sun, returned, and fixed it in the heavens, where it has remained ever since. Other adventures, equally surprising, are related. The numerous tales of fiction preserved by oral tradition among the people, and from the recital of which they derive so much pleasure, prove that they are not deficient in imagination, and lead us to hope that their mental powers will be hereafter employed on subjects more consistent with truth, and productive of more pure and permanent gratification.

In this part of the island there is another tradition very generally received by the natives, of a somewhat more interesting character; and as it may tend to illustrate the history of the inhabitants, and the means by which the islands were peopled, I shall introduce it in this place.

They have traditions respecting several visits, which in remote times some of the natives made to Nuuhiva and Tahuata, two islands in the Marquesian group, and to Tahiti, the principal of the Society Islands. One of these accounts the natives call, “The Voyage of Kamapiikai,” in which they state that Kamapiikai (child running, or climbing the sea,—from kama, a child, pii, to run or climb, and kai, the sea) was priest of a temple in Kohala, dedicated to Kanenuiakea. The exact period of their history when he lived, we have not been able to ascertain; but it is added, that the god appeared to him in a vision, and revealed to him the existence, situation, and distance of Tahiti, and directed him to make a voyage thither. In obedience to the communication, he immediately prepared for the voyage, and, with about forty of his companions, set sail from Hawaii in four page 395 double canoes. After an absence of fifteen years, they returned, and gave a most flattering account of Haupokane, the country which they had visited. We know of no island in the neighbourhood called by this name, which appears to be a compound of Haupo, sometimes a lap, and Kane, one of their gods. Among other things, they described the one rauena, a peculiar kind of sandy beach, well stocked with shell-fish, &c. The country, they said, was inhabited by handsome people, whose property was abundant, and the fruits of the earth delicious and plentiful. There was also a stream or fountain, which was called the wai ora roa, (water of enduring life.)

Kamapiikai made three subsequent voyages to the country he had discovered, accompanied by many of the Sandwich Islanders. From the fourth voyage they never returned, and were supposed to have perished at sea, or to have taken up their permanent residence at Tahiti. Many were induced to accompany this priest to the country he visited, for the purpose of bathing in the life-giving waters, in consequence of the marvellous change they were reported to produce in those who used them; for it was said, that however infirm, emaciated, or deformed they might be, when they went into the water, they invariably came out young, strong, and handsome.

Without making further remarks, these traditions furnish very strong evidence that the Sandwich Islanders were acquainted with the existence of the Marquesian and Society Islands long before visited by Captain Cook; and they also warrant the inference, that in some remote period the Sandwich Islanders have visited or colonized other islands in the Pacific.

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About three p. m. we reached Owawarua, and passed on to Hihiu, where we had an opportunity of speaking to a small party of natives.

In these villages we saw numbers of canoes and many large fishing-nets, which are generally made with a native kind of flax, very strong and durable, but produced by a plant very different from the phormium tenax, which furnishes the flax of New Zealand, and bearing a nearer resemblance to the plant used by the natives of the Society Islands, called roa, the urtica argentea, or candicans, of Parkinson. In taking fish out at sea, they commonly make use of a net, of which they have many kinds, some very large, others mere hand-nets; they occasionally employ the hook and line, but never use the spear or dart, which is a favourite weapon with the southern islanders.

Quantities of fish were spread out in the sun to dry, in several places, and the inhabitants of the northern shores seem better supplied with this article than those of any other part of the island. The shores of Hawaii are by no means so well stocked with fish as those of the Society Islands. The industry of the Hawaiians in a great degree makes up the deficiency, for they have numerous small lakes and ponds, frequently artificial, wherein they breed fish of various kinds, and in tolerable abundance.

It was about seven o'clock in the evening when we sailed from Hihiu, in a single canoe. The land-breeze was light, but the canoe went at a tolerably rapid rate, and about eleven at night we reached Towaihae, where we were kindly received by Mr. Young. By him we were informed that Messrs. Bishop and Goodrich had arrived at Towaihae on the preceding Tuesday, and had gone page 397 to Kairua, expecting to obtain a passage to Oahu, in a native vessel called the pilot-boat.

Before daylight on the 22d, we were roused by vast multitudes of people passing through the district from Waimea with sandal-wood, which had been cut in the adjacent mountains for Karaimoku, by the people of Waimea, and which the people of Kohala, as far as the north point, had been ordered to bring down to his storehouse on the beach, for the purpose of its being shipped to Oahu. There were between two and three thousand men, carrying each from one to six pieces of sandal wood, according to their size and weight. It was generally tied on their backs by bands made of ti leaves, passed over the shoulders and under the arms, and fastened across their breast. When they had deposited the wood at the storehouse, they departed to their respective homes.

Between seven and eight in the morning, we walked to the warm springs, a short distance to the southward of the large heiaus, and enjoyed a most refreshing bathe. These springs rise on the beach a little below high-water mark, of course they are overflowed by every tide; but, at low tide, the warm water bubbles up through the sand, fills a small kind of cistern made with stones piled close together on the side towards the sea, and affords a very agreeable bathing place. The water is comfortably warm, and is probably impregnated with sulphur: various medicinal qualities are ascribed to it by those who have used it.

The natives of this district manufacture large quantities of salt, by evaporating the sea water. We saw a number of their pans, in the disposition of which they display great ingenuity. They have generally one large pond near the sea into which page 398 the water flows by a channel cut through the rocks, or is carried thither by the natives in large calabashes. After remaining there some time, it is conducted into a number of smaller pans, about six or eight inches in depth, which are made with great care, and frequently lined with large evergreen leaves, in order to prevent absorption. Along the narrow banks or partitions between the different pans, we saw a number of large evergreen leaves placed. They were tied up at each end, so as to resemble a shallow dish, and filled with sea water, in which the crystals of salt were abundant.

The Sandwich Islanders eat salt very freely with their food, and use large quantities in preserving their fish. They have, however, besides what they make, salt lakes, which yield them large supplies. The surplus thus furnished, they dispose of to vessels touching at the islands, or export to the Russian settlements on the north-west coast of America, where it is in great demand for curing fish, &c.

In the afternoon, Mr. Goodrich returned from Kairua, and informed us that the pilot-boat was at Keauhou, and would sail for Oahu in a fortnight. He also brought the more pleasing intelligence, that the governor was engaged in building a chapel for the public worship of God at Kairua, having, at the same time, enjoined on his people the observance of the Sabbath, as a day of rest from labour and amusement; to be employed, moreover, in religious exercises. This welcome news rendered it desirable that one of us should repair to Kairua, in order to preach there on the coming Sabbath, and encourage them to persevere in the work they had so happily begun.

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The 24th was, probably, the first Christian Sabbath ever enjoyed by the people of Towaihae, which is a village containing one hundred houses. Mr. Thurston preached twice to the people.

About five p. m. on the 25th, Mr. Thurston set out on a visit to the inland district of Waimea, having been furnished with a guide by Mr. Young. It was dark when he reached Ouli, a place belonging to the latter, where he put up for the night.

After worship with the people, on the morning of the 26th, Mr. Thurston walked on to Kalaloa, the residence of the chief of Waimea, Kumuokapiki, Stump of Cabbage. Leaving Kalaloa, he walked on to Waiakea, from thence to Waikaloa, Pukalani, and Puukapu, which is sixteen or eighteen miles from the sea-shore, and is the last village in the district of Waimea. At these places he addressed the people.

The soil over which he had travelled was fertile, well watered, and capable of sustaining many thousand inhabitants. In his walks he had numbered two hundred and twenty houses, and the present population is probably between eleven and twelve hundred.

The surface of the country is gently undulated, tolerably free from rocks, and easy of cultivation. In this district, and throughout the divisions of Hamakua and Kohala, together with the greater part of Hiro, the plough might be introduced with advantage, and the productions of intertropical climates raised in great abundance and excellent quality—as the sugar-cane, and other indigenous plants, grown at Waimea, are unusually large.

From Puukapu he directed his steps towards the sea-shore, and in the twilight of the evening reached Puako, a considerable village, four or five page 400 miles to the southward of Towaihae, where he took up his lodgings for the night. After addressing the people on the morning of the 27th, Mr. Thurston returned to Towaihae, where he arrived at 10 a. m.

About noon the same day, Mr. Goodrich returned from his journey to Mouna-Kea. Leaving Towaihae on the 23d, he had walked to Waimea, on the skirts of which he encamped with Mr. Parker, who was employed in shooting wild cattle. With him he spent the Sabbath, which was rainy and unpleasant. Early on Monday the 25th, he commenced his journey up the mountain. The path lay along the side of a deep ravine; the soil was formed of decomposed lava and ashes. At noon he dismissed his native companion, and, taking his great coat and blanket, began to ascend the more steep and rugged parts. The way was difficult, on account of the rugged volcanic rocks and stunted shrubs that covered the sides of the mountain. In his way, he found numbers of red and white raspberry bushes, loaded with delicious fruit. At five p. m., having reached the upper boundary of the trees and bushes that surround the mountain, he erected a temporary hut, kindled a small fire, and prepared for his night's repose. The thermometer, shortly after sunset, stood at 43°; and the magnet, though it pointed north when held in the hand, was drawn between two and three degrees to the eastward, when placed on the blocks of lava—owing, probably, to the quantity of iron in the mountain.

After a few hours' rest, Mr. Goodrich arose at eleven o'clock at night, and, the moon shining brightly, he resumed his journey towards the summit. At midnight he saw the snow about three page 401 miles distant, proceeded towards the place, and reached it about one o'clock on the morning of the 26th. The snow was frozen over, and the thermometer stood at 27°. He now directed his steps towards a neighbouring peak, which appeared to be one of the highest; but, when he had ascended it, he saw several others still higher. He proceeded towards one, which looked higher than the rest, and bore north-east from the place where he was. On reaching the summit of this second peak, he discovered a heap of stones, probably erected by some former visitor. From this peak, Mouna-Roa bore south by west, Mouna-Huararai west by south, and the island of Maui north-west. The several hills or peaks on the summit of Mouna-Kea seemed composed entirely of volcanic matter, principally cinders, pumice, and sand. Mr. Goodrich did not discover apertures or craters on either of the summits he visited; probably there is a large crater somewhere adjacent, from which the scoria, sand, and pumice have been thrown out. The whole of the summit was not covered with snow; there were only frequent patches, apparently several miles in extent, over which the snow was about eight inches or a foot in thickness. The ocean to the east and west was visible; but the high land on the north and south prevented its being seen in those directions.

Mr. Goodrich commenced his descent about three o'clock, and, after travelling over large beds of sand and cinders, into which he sunk more than ankle deep at every step, he reached, about sunrise, the place where he had slept the preceding evening. The descent in several places, especially over the snow, was steep and difficult, and rendered the utmost caution necessary. Continuing page 402 his descent, between four and five in the afternoon he reached the encampment of Mr. Parker. In his way down, he saw at a distance several herds of wild cattle, which are very numerous in the mountains, and inland parts of the island, and are the produce of those taken there, and presented to the king, by Captain Vancouver. They were, at his request, tabued for ten years, during which time they resorted to the mountains, and became so wild and ferocious, that the natives are afraid to go near them. Although there are immense herds of them, they do not attempt to tame any; and the only advantage they derive is, by employing persons, principally foreigners, to shoot them, salt the meat in the mountains, and bring it down to the shore for the purpose of provisioning the native vessels. But this is attended with great labour and expense. They first carry all the salt to the mountains. When they have killed the animals, the flesh is cut off their bones, salted immediately, and afterwards put into small barrels, which are brought on men's shoulders ten or fifteen miles to the sea-shore.

Early on the morning of the 27th, Mr. Goodrich left Mr. Parker, and returned through the fertile district of Waimea to Towaihae.

Nearly six months afterwards, Dr. Blatchely and Mr. Ruggles ascended Mouna Kea, from Waiakea bay. After travelling six days, they reached the summit of the mountain, where, within the circumference of six miles, they found seven mountains or peaks, apparently eight hundred or a thousand feet high; their sides were steep, and covered with snow about a foot thick. The summit of the mountain appeared to be formed of decomposed lava, of a reddish brown page 403 colour. The peak in the centre, and that on the western side, are the highest.

∗The following observations respecting a subsequent visit to this mountain from Waiakea, contained in a letter from Mr. Goodrich to Professor Silliman, of New Haven, are copied from the Philosophical Magazine for September, 1826.

“There appear to be three or four different regions, in passing from the sea-shore to the summit. The first occupies five or six miles, where cultivation is carried on in a degree, and might be to almost any extent; but as yet, not one twentieth part is cultivated. The next is a sandy region, that is impassable, except in a few foot-paths. Brakes, a species of tall fern, here grow to the size of trees; the bodies of some of them are eighteen inches in diameter. The woody region extends between ten and twenty miles in width. The region higher up produces grass, principally of the bent kind. Strawberries, raspberries, and whortle-berries flourish in this region, and herds of wild cattle are seen grazing. It is entirely broken up by hills and valleys, composed of lava, with a very shallow soil. The upper region is composed of lava in almost every form, from huge rocks to volcanic sand of the coarser kind. Some of the peaks are composed of coarse sand, and others of loose stones and pebbles. I found a few specimens, that I should not hesitate to pronounce fragments of granite. I also found fragments of lava, bearing a near resemblance to a geode, filled with green crystals, which I suppose to be augite. Very near to the summit, upon one of the peaks, I found eight or ten dead sheep; they probably fled up there to seek a refuge from the wild dogs; I have heard that there are many wild dogs, sheep, and goats. Dogs and goats I have never seen. I was upon the summit about 2 o'clock p. m., the wind south-west, much resembling the cold blustering winds of March; the air, being so rare, produced a severe pain in my head, that left me as I descended.

In the native language, the word kea, though seldom used now, formerly meant, white. Some white men, who are said to have resided inland, and to have come down to the sea shore frequently page 404 in the evening, and to have frightened the people, were called na kea, (the whites.)

The snow on the summit of the mountain, in all probability, induced the natives to call it MounaKea, (mountain white,) or, as we should say, white mountain. They have numerous fabulous tales relative to its being the abode of the gods, and none ever approach its summit,—as, they say, some who have gone there have been turned to stone. We do not know that any have ever been frozen to death; but neither Mr. Goodrich, nor Dr. Blatchely and his companion, could persuade the natives, whom they engaged as guides up the sides of the mountain, to go near its summit.

We could not but regret that we had no barometer, or other means of estimating the actual elevation of this mountain, either here or at Waiakea.

When the Missionaries, Bishop and Goodrich, reached Kairua, the governor welcomed their return, and they were agreeably surprised to find him engaged in erecting a building for the worship of the true God. They learned that he had, during the preceding week, collected his people at Kairua, and addressed them on the duty of observing the Sabbath according to the laws of Jehovah. He also told them it was his desire that they should cease from work or amusement on that day, and attend divine service at his house. The people assented to his proposal, and when the Sabbath arrived, such numbers assembled, that hundreds were obliged to stand outside. Numbers also repaired to the house of Thomas Hopu, to be instructed in what they term the “new” religion.

The next day the governor directed the people of Kairua to commence building a house, in which page 405 they might all meet to worship God; and in the morning on which Messrs. Bishop and Goodrich arrived, they had commenced their heart-cheering work.

In the afternoon they walked to the place where the men were at work. Upwards of fifty persons were employed in carrying stones from an old heiau, which they were pulling down, to raise the ground, and lay the foundation of the place of worship. It was a pleasing sight to view the ruins of an idol's temple devoted to such a purpose; and they could not but hope that the spirit of Christianity would soon triumph over the superstition, prejudice, and wickedness of idolatry.

The place of worship is sixty feet long and thirty broad, erected in the native manner, and matched with the leaves of the pandanus. The walls are ten feet high, with doors at each end, and four windows on each side. It was impossible to behold the work without contemplating it as an intimation of most benevolent designs, on the part of the Lord of missions, towards the benighted tribes around, or without praying that the time might soon arrive, when houses for the worship of the living God shall be erected in every district in the islands.

∗Recent intelligence conveys the pleasing information, that five or six places of worship and a number of schools have already been erected in Hawaii, and a proportionate number in other islands of the group.

On the 23d, Mr. Bishop visited the well, and found that the men had not made much progress. The rocks of lava, though hard, are cellular, so that powder has very little effect, and therefore they proceeded but slowly by blasting it.

The morning of the 24th was the Sabbath, and page 406 was unusually still; not a canoe was seen in the bay, and the natives seemed to have left their customary labours and amusements, to spend the day as directed by the governor. Mr. Bishop spent half an hour with him this morning, explaining in English the 21st and 22d chapters of Revelation. I joined them at breakfast, having arrived at Kairua about an hour before daylight. I had left Towaihae on the preceding day at six in the morning, in a canoe kindly furnished by Mr. Young.

About nine a. m. I stopped at Kaparaoa, a small village on the beach, containing twenty-two houses, where I found the people preparing their food for the ensuing day, on which they said the governor had sent word for them to do no work, neither cook any food. When the people were collected, I addressed them, and, after answering a number of inquiries, proceeded.

At Kaparaoa I saw a number of curiously carved wooden idols, which formerly belonged to an adjacent temple. I asked the natives if they would part with any? They said, Yes; and I should have purchased one, but had no means of conveying it away, for it was an unwieldy log of heavy wood, twelve or fourteen feet long, curiously carved, in rude and frightful imitation of the human figure.

After remaining there till two p. m. I left them making preparation to keep the Sabbath-day, according to the orders they had received from the governor.

About four in the afternoon I landed at Kihoro, a straggling village, inhabited principally by fishermen. A number of people collected, to whom I addressed a short discourse, from 1 John i. 7.—This village exhibits another monument of the page 407 genius of Tamehameha. A small bay, perhaps half a mile across, runs inland a considerable distance. From one side to the other of this bay, Tamehameha built a strong stone wall, six feet high in some places, and twenty feet wide, by which he had an excellent fish-pond, not less than two miles in circumference. There were several arches in the wall, which were guarded by strong stakes driven into the ground so far apart as to admit the water of the sea, yet sufficiently close to prevent the fish from escaping. It was well stocked with fish, and water-fowl were seen swiming on its surface.

The people of this village, as well as the others through which I had passed, were preparing to keep the Sabbath, and the conversation naturally turned on the orders recently issued by the governor. They said it was a bad thing to commit murder, infanticide, and theft, which had also been forbidden; that it would be well to abstain from these crimes; but, they said, they did not know of what advantage the palapala, instruction, &c. would be.

At breakfast the governor seemed interested in the narrative of the tour, particularly of the interview we had with the priestess of Pélé at Waiakea.

At half-past ten, the bell rung for public worship, and about eight hundred people, decently dressed, some in foreign, others in native clothing, assembled under a large ranai, a place sheltered from the sun, formed by two large canvass awnings, and a number of platted cocoa-nut leaves, spread over the place from posts fixed in the fence which enclosed the court-yard around the house of the governor's wife. The governor and his attendants sat on chairs; the rest of the congregation reclined on their mats, or sat on the ground. After singing page 408 and prayer, I preached from Acts xvi. 30, 31. The history of the Philippian jailor appeared to interest them, and, after the conclusion of the service, the governor, in particular, made many inquiries.

At half-past four in the afternoon the bell rung again, and the people collected in the place where the services had been held in the forenoon, and in equal numbers seated themselves very quietly. The exercises commenced in the usual manner, and I preached on the occasion from Acts v. 14. They were attentive, and appeared much affected with the account of the awful end of Ananias and Sapphira.

After the public services were finished, Mr. Bishop visited Thomas Hopu's house, where a small congregation was assembled for conversation and prayer. Mr. Bishop gave them a short exhortation; and many of the people remained afterwards, to hear more from Thomas about Jesus Christ.

The Sabbath was spent in a manner truly gratifying. No athletic sports were seen on the beach; no noise of playful children, shouting as they gambolled in the surf, nor distant sound of the cloth-beating mallet, was heard through the day; no persons were seen carrying burdens in or out of the village, nor any canoes passing across the bay. It could not but be viewed as the dawn of a bright sabbatic day for the dark shores of Hawaii. Family worship was held at the governor's house, in the native language, in the evening.

Having heard of the arrival of the brig Nio at Towaihae, Mr. Bishop left Kairua in the evening, to return to Oahu.

The natives possess no inconsiderable share of page 409 maritime and commercial enterprise. The king and chiefs own fifteen or sixteen vessels, several of which, like the Nio, are brigs of ninety or a hundred tons burden. The greater part of them, however, are schooners of a smaller size. The larger ones, on a long voyage, are commanded by a foreigner; but, among the islands, they are manned and navigated by the natives themselves. A native captain and supercargo is appointed to each; the former navigates the vessel, while the latter attends to the cargo. The natives in general make good sailors; and, although their vessels have greatly multiplied within the last few years, they find constant employ for them, particularly the small craft, which are continually plying from one island to another, while their larger ones are either chartered to foreign merchants, or make distant voyages on their own account. They have once sent a vessel to Canton, loaded with sandal wood, under the care of an English captain and mate, but manned by natives. They have also traded to Kamtschatka and other parts of the page 410 Pacific, and have, within the last few years, made one or two successful voyages, for the purpose of procuring seal skins.—The national flag of the islands, (see preceding page,) which is an English jack, with eight or nine horizontal stripes of white, red, and blue, was given them by the British government many years ago, accompanied by an assurance that it would be respected whereever the British flag was acknowledged. Although they are so expert in the manufacture of their canoes, they have made but little progress in building and repairing their ships, or in any of the mechanic arts. They seem much more fond of the pursuits of commerce, and are tolerable adepts in bartering. In exchange for foreign articles, they not only give sandal wood and salt, but furnish supplies to the numerous vessels which visit the islands for the purpose of refitting or procuring refreshments. In the months of March and April, and of September and October, many vessels, principally whalers, resort to the Sandwich Islands for fresh provisions, &c.—we have seen upwards of thirty lying at anchor off Oahu at one time. The farmers in many places dispose of the produce of their land to these ships; but in Oahu, and some other harbours, this trade is almost entirely monopolized by the king and chiefs. There is, indeed, a public market, in which the natives dispose of their stock; but the price is regulated by the chiefs, and two-thirds of the proceeds of whatever the natives sell is required by them.

This is not only unpleasant to those who trade with them, but very oppressive, and retards, in no small degree, the industry, comfort, and civilization of the people. In return for most of the supplies which they furnish to the shipping, they page 411 receive Spanish dollars; but the sandal wood, &c. they usually exchange for articles of European or Chinese fabrication: the silks, crapes, umbrellas, furniture, and trunks of the latter, are most in demand; while those of the former are hardware, earthenware, linens, broad-cloth, slops, hats, shoes, canvass, cordage, &c.

The season was approaching when the whalers, fishing on the coast of Japan, usually put in to some of the harbours of these islands. Hence Karaimoku had sent the Nio for a cargo of hogs, to meet the demand for these animals, which he expected would follow their arrival.

About noon on the 28th, Mr. Bishop reached Towaihae; and, in the evening of the 30th, they received the unexpected information that the brig would sail that evening: Messrs. Bishop and Goodrich therefore went on board, leaving Mr. Thurston at Towaihae to preach to the people there on the next day, which was the Sabbath, and afterwards join the vessel at the north point of the island, where they were going to take in hogs for Karaimoku, to whom the division of Kohala belonged, though the island in general was under the jurisdiction of Kuakini the governor. Their system of government is rather complex; and, having occasionally mentioned several of its leading members, some further account of it will, perhaps, be acceptable.

The government of the Sandwich Islands is an absolute monarchy. The supreme authority is hereditary. The rank of the principal and inferior chiefs, the offices of the priests, and other situations of honour, influence, and emolument, descend from father to son, and often continue through many generations in the same family, though the page 412 power of nomination to every situation of dignity and trust is vested in the king; and persons, by merit, or royal favour, frequently rise from comparatively humble rank to the highest station in the islands, as in the instance of Karaimoku, sometimes called by foreigners, William Pitt. This individual, from being a chief, of the third or fourth rank, has long been prime minister, in dignity next only to the king, and having, in fact, the actual government of the whole of the Sandwich Islands.

Hereditary rank and authority are not confined to the male sex, but are inherited also by the females; and, according to tradition, several of the islands have been once or twice under the government of a queen.

Four distinct classes or ranks in society appear to exist among them. The highest rank includes the king, queens, and all the branches of the reigning family. It also includes the chief counsellor or minister of the king, who, though inferior by birth, is by office and authority superior to the queens and other members of the royal family.

The second rank includes the governors of the different islands, and also the chiefs of several large divisions or districts of land. Many of these are the descendants of the ancient families of Taraiopu, Kehekiri, Teporiorani, and Taeo, who were the kings of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Tauai, when the islands were visited by Captain Cook, and retained their power until subdued by Tamehameha. Several of them were either the favourite and warlike companions of that prince, or are descended from those who were; among whom may be classed Kuakini the governor, Kaahumanu, Piia, Boki, Wahinepio, Kaikeova, and others.

The third rank is composed of those who hold page 413 districts or villages, and pay a regular rent for the and, cultivating it either by their own dependants and domestics, or letting it out in small allotments to tenants. This class is by far the most numerous body of chiefs in the island. Among the principal may be ranked Kamakau at Kaavaroa, Maaro at Waiakea, Haa at Waipio, Auae at Wairuku, and Kahanaumaitai at Waititi. They are generally called haku aina, proprietors of land. This rank would also include most of the priests, under the former dispensation.

In the fourth rank may be included the small farmers, who rent from ten to twenty or thirty acres of land; the mechanics, namely, canoe and house builders, fishermen, musicians, and dancers; indeed, all the labouring classes, those who attach themselves to some chief or farmer, and labour on his land for their food and clothing, as well as those who cultivate small portions of land for their own advantage.

Though the chiefs did not receive that abject and humiliating homage which is frequently paid to superiors in barbarous nations, where the government is arbitrary, yet the common people always manifested a degree of respect to the chiefs, according to their rank or office. This, towards the sacred chiefs, amounted almost to adoration, as they were on no occasion allowed to touch their persons, but prostrated themselves before them, and could not enter their houses without first receiving permission. The behaviour among the chiefs was courteous, and manifested a desire to render themselves agreeable to each other; while all observed a degree of etiquette in their direct intercourse with the king. He is generally attended by a number of his courtiers or page 414 favourites, called Punahele, who join in his amusements and occupations, except in the affairs of government, with which they seem to have no concern. When in a state of inebriation, all marks of distinction were lost, but at other times even these favourites conducted themselves towards their sovereign with great respect. I have often seen Kapihe and Kekuanaoa, the two who accompanied Rihoriho to England, come into his presence, and wait without speaking, whatever their business might be, till he should address them, and then continue standing until requested by him to sit down.

In some respects, the government resembles the ancient feudal system of the northern nations. During many periods of their history, not only the separate islands, but the larger divisions of some of them, have been under the government of independent kings or chiefs; and it does not appear that until the reign of Rihoriho, the late king, they were ever united under one sovereign. The king is acknowledged in every island as the lord and proprietor of the soil by hereditary right or the laws of conquest. When Tamehameha had subdued the greater part of the islands, he distributed them among his favourite chiefs and warriors, on condition of their rendering him, not only military service, but a certain proportion of the produce of their lands. This also appears to have been their ancient practice on similar occasions, as the hoopahora or papahora, division of land among the ranakira or victors, invariably followed the conquest of a district or island.

Every island is given by the king to some high chief, who is supreme governor in it, but is subject to the king, whose orders he is obliged to see executed, page 415 and to whom he pays a regular rent or tax, according to the size of the island, or the advantages it may possess. Each island is separated into a number of permanent divisions, sometimes fifty or sixty miles in extent. In Hawaii there are six, Kohala, Kona, &c. Each of the large divisions is governed by one or two chiefs, appointed by the king or by the governor, and approved by the former. These large divisions are divided into districts and villages, which sometimes extend five or six miles along the coast; at others, not more than half a mile. A head man, nominated by the governor, usually presides over these villages, which are again subdivided into a number of small farms or plantations. The names of these are generally significant; as Towahai, the waters broken, from a stream which runs through the district, and is divided near the sea; Kairua, two seas, from the waters of the bay being separated by a point of land, &c.

Although this is the usual manner in which the land is distributed, yet the king holds personally a number of districts in most of the islands, and several of the principal chiefs receive districts directly from the king, and independent of the governor of the island in which they are situated.

The governor of the island pays over to the king annually, or half yearly, the rents or taxes required by the latter. These he receives from the chiefs under him, who generally pay in the produce of the soil. Sometimes the king requires a certain sum in Spanish dollars, at other times in sandal wood.

This, however, is only a modern regulation, introduced since they have become acquainted with the use of money, and the value of sandal page 416 wood. The rent was originally paid in canoes, native cloth, mats, fishing-nets, hogs, dogs, and the produce of the soil, for the use of the king, and the numerous train of favourite chiefs and dependants by which he was surrounded, and who were daily fed from the provisions of his house.

For this tax the governor is responsible, and it is his business to see it conveyed to the king, or disposed of according to his order. A second tax is laid on the districts by the governor, for himself. The inhabitants of those portions of the island, however, which belong to other chiefs, although they furnish their share towards the king's revenue, are not called upon to support the governor of the island, but are expected to send a part of the produce of the land to their own chiefs. After this has been paid, additional requisitions are made upon the poor people cultivating the land, by the petty chiefs of the districts and villages; these, however, are but trifling.

There is no standing rule for the amount of rents or taxes, but they are regulated entirely by the caprice or necessities of their rulers. Sometimes the poor people take a piece of land, on condition of cultivating a given portion for the chief, and the remainder for themselves, making a fresh agreement after every crop.

In addition to the above demands, the common people are in general obliged to labour, if required, part of two days out of seven, in cultivating farms, building houses, &c. for their landlord.

A time is usually appointed for receiving the rent, when the people repair to the governor's with what they have to pay. If the required amount is furnished, they return, and, as they express it, page 417 (komo hou) enter again on their land. But if unable to pay the required sum, and their landlords are dissatisfied with the presents they have received, or think the tenants have neglected their farm, they are forbidden to return, and the land is offered to another. When, however, the produce brought is nearly equal to the required rent, and the chiefs think the occupants have exerted themselves to procure it, they remit the deficiency, and allow them to return. Besides the stipulated rent, the people are expected to make a number of presents to their chiefs, usually the first fish in season, from their artificial ponds, or from the sea, if the land they occupy be near the coast, together with the first-fruits of the trees and plantations.

Though these are the usual conditions on which land is held, there are a number of districts, called aina ku pono, land standing erect, held free from all rent and taxes, except a few presents, the value and frequency of which are entirely optional with the occupier. These privileges of exemption from the established usage, were probably granted originally in reward for eminent services rendered the king, and they continue permanent, for should the king, on account of any crime, banish an individual holding one of these districts, the next occupant would enjoy all the privileges of his predecessor.

The common people are generally considered as attached to the soil, and are transferred with the land from one chief to another. In recently conquered districts, they were formerly obliged to abide on the land which they cultivated, as slaves to the victors; at present, though they frequently remain through life the dependants or tenants of the same chief, such continuance appears on their part to be voluntary. No chief can demand any page 418 service or supplies from those who occupy the land of another, without his direction.

The king occasionally changes the tenants of a farm, without taking the proprietorship from the chief who may hold it more immediately from himself; and, when the rents are insufficient to meet his wants, if any of the neighbouring farmers have potatoes and taro in their fields, he, or any high chief, will send their men, and hao, seize, the greater part of them, without making any remuneration to the injured parties.

Besides the sums which the king receives from the land, and the monopoly of the trade, in live stock and other supplies furnished to the shipping at several ports in the islands, the revenue is augmented by the harbour dues at Oahu. Every vessel anchoring in the outer harbour pays sixty dollars, and eighty for entering the basin, or inner harbour. Till within two or three years, it was only forty for one, and sixty for the other. The pilotage, which is a dollar per foot for every vessel, both on entering and leaving the harbour, is divided between the government and the pilot.

∗The demand for these dues originated in their unprofitable voyage to Canton, in 1816. The cargo of sandal wood was sold, but, instead of a return in cloths, silks, &c. the vessel came back nearly empty, and in debt. The king inquired the reason; when the captain, a very incompetent person for such a business, told him that some of the money had been stolen; that so much was demanded for pilotage, coming to anchor, &c. as to leave nothing for the purpose of fitting the vessel for sea, which had occasioned the debt. “If,” replied the king, “that be the case, we will have a pilot here, and every vessel that enters the harbour shall pay me for anchorage.”

Another singular method of taxing the people, is by building a new house for the king, or some principal chief. On the first day the king or chief page 419 enters it, the chiefs and the people of the neighbourhood repair thither, to pay their respects, and present their gifts. Custom obliges every chief to appear on such occasions, or expose himself to the imputation of being disaffected; and no one is allowed to enter without a present of money. The amount is proportioned to their rank, or the land they hold. Some chiefs, on such occasions, give sixty dollars, others ten or five, and some only one.

A short time before his embarkation for England, a large native house was built for Rihoriho, at Honoruru, in the island of Oahu. During three days after the king went into it, the people came with their gifts. No individual, not even the queens, entered the house without presenting the king a sum of money; several gave upwards of fifty dollars; and we saw more than two thousand dollars received in one day. A similar tax was also levied by Kuakini, the governor at Kairua, when he first entered a handsome framed house, recently erected there.

Until the establishment of a Christian Mission among them, the Sandwich Islanders had no records, and, consequently, no written laws. There is, however, a kind of traditionary code, a number of regulations which have been either promulgated by former kings, or followed by general consent, respecting the tenure of lands, right of property, personal security, and exchange or barter, which are well understood, and usually acted upon. The portion of personal labour due from a tenant to his chief is fixed by custom, and a chief would be justified in banishing the person who should refuse it when required; on the other hand, were a chief to banish a man who had rendered it, and paid page 420 the stipulated rent, his conduct would be contrary to their opinions of right; and if the man complained to the governor or the king, and no other charge was brought against him, he would most likely be reinstated. The irrigation of their plantations is of great importance in most parts, and there is a law that the water shall be conducted over every plantation twice a week in general, and once a week during the dry season.

On the death of a chief, his lands revert to the king or the governor of the island. He may nominate his son, his wife, or any other person, to succeed to his districts, &c. but the appointment must be confirmed by the king or governor, before the individual can take possession.

This regulation, next to the tabu, is the most effectual mode of preserving the authority and influence of the king and chiefs.

In cases of assault or murder, except when committed by their own chief, the family and friends of the injured party are, by common consent, justified in retaliating. When they are too weak to attack the offender, they seek the aid of their neighbours, appeal to the chief of the district, or the king, who seldom inflicts a heavier punishment than banishment, even for murder, which, however, is a crime very rarely committed by the natives.

Theft among themselves is severely punished. Formerly, when a garden or house had been robbed, and the robbers were discovered, those whose goods had been stolen repaired to the house or plantation of the offenders, and hao, seized, whatever they could find. This regulation was so well established, that though the guilty party should be the strongest, they would not dare to resist the page 421 retaliation; for, in the event of their making any opposition, the people of a whole district would support those who were thus punishing the individuals by whom theft had been perpetrated.

When robbery had been committed on the property of a high chief, or to any great amount, the thief, in some of the islands, was frequently bound hand and foot, placed in an old decayed canoe, towed out to sea, and turned adrift. The canoe speedily filled, and the culprit, being bound, soon sunk beneath the waves.

Adultery among the highest ranks has been punished with death by decapitation.

In the transactions of barter among themselves, there are several regulations which they punctually observe. No bargain was considered binding till the articles were actually exchanged, and the respective owners expressed themselves satisfied. Afterwards there was no withdrawing, however injurious the bargain might be to either party.

There is, in the Sandwich Islands, no class of men, either peasants or mechanics, who are regularly employed as day-labourers, or who receive for their work a stipulated payment, except those employed by foreigners. In hiring workmen to dig stone, burn lime, build a house or canoe, &c. it is a common practice among the natives themselves to make the bargain with a petty chief, who requires the labour of all his dependants in its fulfilment. They usually pay beforehand; and those who have received such remuneration are bound, when called upon, to perform their work, or have their property seized, and their plantations plundered.

These, and several similar regulations, are generally received, and govern the conduct of the page 422 people. The king can dispense with any of them; but such conduct would be contrary to the established usage, and is seldom done. The will of the king, however, being the supreme law, the government is more or less arbitrary, as his disposition is humane, or vindictive and cruel. His power extends, not only over the property, but over the liberty and lives, of the people. This power is delegated by him to the governors of the different islands, and by them again to the chiefs of the districts. A chief takes the life of one of his own people for any offence he may commit, and no one thinks he has a right to interfere. But, though the power of the chiefs is so absolute over their own people, it extends no further. A chief dare not for any offence punish a man belonging to another, but must complain to the chief on whose land the offender resides.

The king is chief magistrate over the whole islands. The governors sustain the same office in the islands under their jurisdiction, and the chiefs of the districts are the arbitrators in all quarrels among their own people. A man dissatisfied with the decisions of his chief, may appeal to the governor, and finally to the king. They have no regular police, but the king has generally a number of chiefs in attendance, who, with the assistance of their own dependants, execute his orders. The governors and high chiefs have the same, and employ them in a similar manner when occasion requires.

The house or front yard of the king or governor is the usual court of justice, and it is sometimes quite a court of equity. Judgment is seldom given till both parties are heard face to face. They have several ordeals for trying those accused of different page 423 crimes. One of the most singular is the wai haruru, shaking water. A large calabash or wooden dish of water is placed in the midst of a circle, on one side of which the accused party is seated. A prayer is offered by the priest; and the suspected individuals are required, one by one, to hold both hands, with the fingers spread out, over the dish, while the priest or the chief looks steadfastly at the face of the water; and it is said, that when the person, who has committed the crime, spreads his hands over the vessel, the water trembles. Probably conscious guilt, and superstitious dread, may make the hands of the culprit shake, and occasion the tremulous appearance of the water in which they are reflected. No unnecessary delays take place in the redress of grievances, or the administration of justice. I was once sitting with Karaimoku, when a poor woman came to complain of the chief of her district, who, she said, had kept the water running through his own plantation for several days, while the potatoes and taro in her garden were parched up with drought. After making a few inquiries, he called Kaiakoiri, one of his favourite chiefs, and said, “Go with this woman; and, if the chief has kept back the water, open the channels, and let it flow over her field immediately.” The chief girded up his maro, and, followed by the woman, set off for the district in which she resided.—No lawyers are employed to conduct their public trials; every man advocates his own cause, usually sitting crosslegged before the judge; and I have often been pleased with the address the different parties have displayed in exhibiting or enforcing their respective claims.

There is no national council, neither have the page 424 people any voice in the proceedings of government. But the king, though accountable to no one for the measures he adopts, seldom acts, in any affair of importance, without the advice of his confidential chiefs. These counsellors are in no degree responsible for the advice they give, nor liable to suffer from any conduct the king may pursue. He, however, always pays a deference to their opinion, and seldom acts in opposition to their wishes. In all matters of importance, it is customary to summon the governors and principal chiefs of the several islands to a national council, when the subject is freely discussed. Their deliberations are generally conducted with great privacy, and seldom known among the people till finally arranged, when they are promulgated throughout the island by the king's heralds or messengers. The king sends his orders directly to the governor of the island, or principal chief of the district. Formerly, a courier bore a verbal message; now, he carries a written despatch. The office of messenger, as well as that of herald, is hereditary, and considered honourable, as those who sustain it must necessarily have possessed the confidence of the king and chiefs.

The Hawaiian system of government—whether derived from the country whence the first settlers emigrated, or established by warlike chieftains in a subsequent period of their history, as an expedient to secure conquests, to command the services of their tenants on occasions of war, and to perpetuate the influence which military prowess or success in the first instance had given them, exhibits, in its decided monarchical character, the hereditary descent of rank and office, and other distinguishing features, considerable advancement page 425 from a state of barbarism, and warrants the conclusion that they have been an organized community for many generations. But whatever antiquity their system may possess, they have made but little progress in the art of good government. The well-being of the subject seems to have been but rarely regarded by the rulers, who appear to have considered the lower orders in general as a kind of property, to be employed only in promoting the interests of their superiors; and the ardent love of wealth, which an acquaintance with the productions of foreign countries has excited in most of the chiefs, has not improved the condition of the people. Industry receives no encouragement; and even those whom natural energy of character would induce to cultivate a larger portion of land than was absolutely necessary for their bare subsistence, are deterred from the attempt by the apprehension of thereby exposing themselves to the rapacity of avaricious or necessitous chiefs. Nothing can be more detrimental to the true interest of the chiefs, and the civilization and happiness of the people, than the abject dependence of the latter, the uncertain tenure of lands, the insecurity of personal property, the exactions of the chiefs, and the restrictions on trade with the shipping, which they impose. As the nation in general becomes enlightened, it is to be presumed that the policy of the rulers will be more liberal, and the general prosperity of the islands proportionably advanced.

On the 31st, Mr. Thurston preached twice at Towaihae to attentive congregations, and, with the labours of the day, closed a month of toil and interest greater than any he had before spent in the Sandwich Islands. In the retrospect, he page 426 could not but hope some good would result to the people.

Early on the 1st of September, Mr. Thurston left Towaihae in a canoe furnished by Mr. Young, and at eight in the forenoon reached the place where the Nio was lying at anchor, on board of which he joined Messrs. Goodrich and Bishop. Soon after four in the afternoon, they weighed anchor and made sail. When they left Hawaii, the master intended touching at Maui; but contrary winds obliged them to shape their course towards Oahu, where they safely arrived late in the evening of the 3d, and had the satisfaction of finding the Mission family in the enjoyment of comfortable health.