Traditions respecting the origin of the islanders—Marriage among the natives—Account of foreigners who visited the Sandwich islands before they were discovered by Captain Cook—Preaching at Kairua—Traditions of a deluge—Visit to Maui—Memoir of the late king and queen of the islands—Notice of Boki, their principal attendant—Return to Oahu.
The time which I spent at Kairua was chiefly occupied in conversation with the governor, on the history and traditions of the island; the advantages of instruction; and the blessings which the general adoption of Christianity would confer on the people. On this latter subject, the governor uniformly expressed his conviction of its utility; and said, he had therefore sent a messenger round among the people, requesting them to renounce their former evil practices, and keep the Sabbath according to the direction of the word of God.
Adjacent to the governor's house stand the ruins of Ahuena, an ancient heiau, where the war-god was often kept, and human sacrifices offered. Since the abolition of idolatry, the governor has converted it into a fort, has widened the stone wall next the sea, and placed upon it a number of cannon. The idols are all destroyed, excepting page 428 three, which are planted on the wall, one at each end, and the other in the centre, where they stand like sentinels amidst the guns, as if designed, by their frightful appearance, to terrify an enemy. On the 29th, I visited the ruins, and took a sketch of one of the idols, which stood sixteen feet above the wall, was upwards of three feet in breadth, and had been carved out of a single tree.
The annexed figure may be considered as a fair specimen of the greater part of Hawaiian idols. The head has generally a most horrid appearance, the mouth being large, and usually extended wide, exhibiting a row of large teeth, resembling in no small degree the cogs in the wheel of an engine, and adapted to excite terror rather than inspire confidence in the beholder. Some of their idols were of stone, and many were constructed with a kind of wicker-work covered with red feathers.
In the evening our conversation at the governor's turned on the origin of the people of Hawaii, and the other islands of the Pacific, a topic which often engaged our attention, and respecting which, in the various inquiries we made, we often had occasion to regret that the traditions of the natives furnished such scanty information, on a subject so interesting and important. This portion, however, though small, and surrounded by an incredible mass of fiction, is still worth preserving.
The general opinions entertained by the natives themselves, relative to their origin, are, either that the first inhabitants were created on the islands, descended from the gods by whom they were first inhabited, or that they came from a country which they called Tahiti. Many, as was the case with the chiefs at Maui, and also the governor at this place, suppose that, according to the accounts page 429 page 430 of the priests of Tane, Tanaroa, and other gods, the first man was made by Haumea, a female deity. We have not, however, met with any who pretend to know of what material he was formed. Others, again, suppose the chiefs to have descended from Akea, who appears to have been the connecting link between the gods and the men; but this supposes the chiefs and the common people to have been derived from different sources. The accounts they have of their ancestors having arrived in a canoe from Tahiti, are far more general and popular among the people.
When some of our party were at Towaihae, the subject was discussed. Mr. Young said, among the many traditionary accounts of the origin of the island and its inhabitants, one was, that in former times, when there was nothing but sea, an immense bird settled on the water, and laid an egg, which, soon bursting, produced the island of Hawaii. Shortly after this, a man and woman, with a hog, a dog, and a pair of fowls, arrived in a canoe from the Society Islands, took up their abode on the eastern shores, and were the progenitors of the present inhabitants.
Another account prevalent among the natives of Oahu, states, that a number of persons arrived in a canoe from Tahiti, and perceiving the Sandwich Islands were fertile, and inhabited only by gods or spirits, took up their abode on one of them, having asked permission of the gods, and presented an offering, which rendered them propitious to their settlement.
Though these accounts do not prove that the Sandwich Islanders came originally from the Georgian Islands, they afford a strong presumption in favour of such an opinion.page 431
Tahiti is the name of the principal island in the group, called by Captain Cook the Georgian Islands. It is the Otaheite of Cook; the Taïti of Bougainville; and the Taheítee, or Tahitee, of Forster. In the language of the Georgian and Society Islands, the word tahiti also signifies to pull up or take out of the ground, as herbs or trees are taken up with a view to transplantation, and to select or extract passages from a book or language, to be translated into another. Hence a book of scripture extracts is called, words, tahitihea.
In the language of the Sandwich Islands, we do not know that the word is ever used in the latter sense, and very rarely in the former. It is generally employed to denote any foreign country, and seems equivalent to the English word abroad, as applied to parts beyond the sea. But though this is the signification of the word among the Sandwich Islanders at the present time, it is probable that it was primarily used to designate the whole of the southern group, or the principal island among them; and it may lead us to infer, either that Tahiti, and the Georgian and Society Islands, were all the foreign countries the Hawaiians were acquainted with, or that they considered the Marquesian Islands contiguous, and politically connected with them, and that these being the only foreign countries originally known to them, they have applied the term to every other part with which they have subsequently become acquainted. In some of the ancient traditions of the Society Islanders, Opoa in Raiatea, the most celebrated place in the islands, the birth-place of Oro, and the spot where the human species were created, &c. is called Hawaii.page 432
It is an opinion generally received, that the various tribes inhabiting the islands of the Pacific, have an Asiatic, and probably a Malayan, origin. Applied to a great part of them, this opinion is supported by a variety of facts; but with respect to those groups with which we are acquainted, additional evidence appears necessary, to confirm such a conclusion.
The natives of the eastern part of New Holland, and the intertropical islands within thirty degrees east, including New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, and the Figiis, appear to be one nation, and in all probability came originally from the Asiatic islands, to the northward, as their skin is black, and their hair woolly or crisped, like the inhabitants of the mountainous parts of several of the Asiatic islands. But the inhabitants of all the islands to the east of the Figiis, including the Friendly Islands and New Zealand, though they have many characteristics in common with these, have a number essentially distinct.
The natives of Chatham Island and New Zealand, in the south; the Sandwich Islands, in the north; the Friendly Islands, in the west; and all the intermediate islands, as far as Easter Island, in the east, are one people. Their mythology, traditions, manners and customs, language, and physical appearance, in their main features, are, so far as we have had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with them, identically the same, yet differing in many respects from those of the islands to the westward of Tongatabu.
The dress of the Figiians, &c. is not the same as that of the natives of New Zealand, Tahiti, and the other islands; they do not appear to wear the cloak, or the tiputa. In war, they throw long page 433 spears to a considerable distance, and use the bow and arrow, which the others only employ in their amusements.
The difference in their physical character is greater; the dark complexion, woolly hair, and slender make, indicate them to be a different people.
Various points of resemblance have been shewn between the aborigines of America and the natives of the eastern islands of the Pacific, in their modes of war, instruments, gymnastic games, rafts or canoes, treatment of their children, dressing their hair, feather head-dresses of the chiefs, girdles, and particularly the tiputa of the latter, which, in shape and use, exactly resembles the poncho of the Peruvians.
These circumstances seem to favour the conjecture, that the inhabitants of the islands west of Tongatabu have an Asiatic origin entirely; but that the natives of the eastern islands may be a mixed race, who have emigrated from the American continent, and from the Asiatic islands; that the proximity of the Friendly and Figii islands may have given both a variety of words and usages in common, while the people to which the former belong have remained in many respects distinct.
The nation inhabiting the eastern parts of the Pacific has spread itself over an immense tract of ocean, extending upwards of seventy degrees north and south from New Zealand and Chatham Island to the Sandwich group, and between sixty and seventy degrees east and west from Tongatabu to Easter Island. This last is not farther from the islands adjacent to the continent than some of these groups are from any other inhabited island. The Sandwich Islands are above twenty degrees page 434 from the Marquesas, and thirty-six from Tahiti, yet inhabited by the same race of people.
The day after the conversation took place which led to the above remarks, the pilot-boat arrived at Kairua, on her way to Maui. On first coming to anchor, Kahiori, the master, said he should sail in the evening; but when I told him I would go with him, if he would wait till the Sabbath was over, he cheerfully agreed to do so. By him, the governor received a note on business, written by Kamakau, the interesting chief of Kaavaroa, which, after he had read it, he shewed me, saying, he admired the diligence and perseverance of Kamakau, who, with but little instruction, had learned to write very well. “This letter writing,” added the governor, “is a very good thing.” It also appears to them a most surprising art, which, till they saw what had been acquired by the natives of the southern islands, they imagined could never be attained by persons in their circumstances. Supposing it beyond the powers of man to invent the plan of communicating words by marks on paper, they have sometimes asked us, if, in the first instance, the knowledge of it were not communicated to mankind by God himself.
In the governor's family is an interesting gir., who is called his daughter, and has been spoken of as the future consort of the young prince Kauikeoule, instead of Nahienaena his sister.
Marriage contracts in the Sandwich Islands are usually concluded by the parents or relations of both parties, or by the man and the parents or friends of the woman.
We are not aware that the parents of the woman receive any thing from the husband, or give any dowry with the wife. Their ceremonies on the page 435 occasion are very few, and chiefly consist in the bridegroom's casting a piece of tapa or native cloth over the bride, in the presence of her parents or relations. Feasting is general, and the friends of both parties contribute towards furnishing the entertainment.
The marriage tie is loose, and the husband can dismiss his wife on any occasion.
The number of males is much greater than that of females in all the islands, in consequence of the girls being more frequently destroyed in infancy, as less useful than the males for purposes of war, fishing, &c. We do not know the exact proportion here; but in the Society Islands, in all our early schools, the proportion of girls to boys was as three to four, or four to five, though, since the abolition of infanticide, the numbers are equal.
Polygamy is allowed among all ranks, but practised only by the chiefs, whose means enable them to maintain a plurality of wives.
Among the higher ranks, marriage seems to be conducted on principles of political expediency, with a view to strengthen alliances and family influence; and among the reigning family, brothers and sisters marry. This custom, so revolting to every idea of moral propriety, that the mind is shocked at the thought of its existence, appears to have been long in use; and very recently a marriage was proposed at Maui, between the young prince and princess, both children of the same parents: a council of chiefs was held on the subject, and all were favourable. The opinion of the Missionaries was asked. The chiefs assigned, as a reason, that, being the highest chiefs in the islands, they could not marry any others who were their equals, and ought not to form any alliances page 436 with inferiors, as it was desirable that the supreme rank they held should descend to their posterity. They were told that such marriages were forbidden in the word of God, were held in abhorrence by all civilized and Christian nations, and had seldom been known to leave any descendants to wear the honour or sustain the rank the contracting parties desired thus to perpetuate.
Several of the chiefs present made no profession of Christianity, and, consequently, were uninfluenced by some of the remarks; but the concluding observation appeared of importance to them all. They said they thought there was some truth in it; that the late king Tamehameha, father of Rihoriho, had several wives, who were his near relations, and even his daughter-in-law, yet left no children, except those of whom Keopuolani was the mother, and who, though a sacred chief of higher rank than her husband, was the granddaughter of a princess of another island, and distantly connected with his family, and that the same was the case with Rihoriho.
The marriage was postponed; and it appears to be the opinion of the chiefs in general, that it ought not to take place. The individuals themselves are entirely passive in the affair; and we view it as a happy circumstance, subversive of an evil custom, and tending to produce moral feelings highly advantageous, and illustrative of the collateral advantages arising from the influence of Christian Missionaries.
An interesting conversation took place this evening, relative to the first visits the islanders received from foreigners. The possession of pieces of iron, particularly one supposed to be the point of a broad-sword, by the natives of Tauai, (Atooi,) page 437 when discovered by Captain Cook, induced some of his companions to think they were not the first European visitors to the islands. We have endeavoured to ascertain, by inquiring of the most intelligent of the natives, whether or no this was the fact.
They have three accounts of foreigners arriving at Hawaii prior to Capt. Cook. The first was the priest, Paao, who landed at Kohala, and to whom the priests of that neighbourhood traced their genealogy until very recently. Of this priest some account is given in a preceding chapter.
The second account states, that during the lifetime of Opiri, the son of Paao, a number of foreigners (white men) arrived at Hawaii, landed somewhere in the south-west part of the island, and repaired to the mountains, where they took up their abode. The natives regarded them with a superstitious curiosity and dread, and knew not whether to consider them as gods or men. Opiri was sent for by the king of that part of the island where they were residing, and consulted as to the conduct to be observed towards them. According to his advice, a large present of provisions was cooked, and carried to them. Opiri led the procession, accompanied by several men, each carrying a bamboo cane, with a piece of white native cloth tied to the end of it. When the strangers saw them approaching their retreat, they came out to meet them. The natives placed the baked pigs and potatoes, &c. on the grass, fixed their white banners in the ground, and then retreated a few paces. The foreigners approached. Opiri addressed them. They answered, received the presents, and afterwards conversed with the people through the medium of Opiri. The facility with page 438 which they could communicate their thoughts by means of Opiri, the governor said, was attributed to the supposed influence of Opiri with his gods. The foreigners, they imagined, were supernatural beings, and, as such, were treated with every possible mark of respect. After remaining some time on the island, they returned to their own country. No account is preserved of the kind of vessel in which they arrived or departed. The name of the principal person among them was Manahini; and it is a singular fact, that in the Marquesian, Society, and Sandwich Islands, the term manahini is still employed to designate a stranger, visitor, or guest.
The third account is much more recent and precise, though the period at which it took place is uncertain.
It states, that a number of years after the departure of Manahini-ma, (Manahini and his party,) in the reign of Kahoukapu, king at Kaavaroa, seven foreigners arrived at Kearake'kua bay, the spot where Captain Cook landed. They came in a painted boat, with an awning or canopy over the stern but without mast or sails. They were all dressed; the colour of their clothes was white or yellow, and one of them wore a pahi, long knife, the name by which they still call a sword, at his side, and had a feather in his hat. The natives received them kindly. They married native women, were made chiefs, proved themselves warriors, and ultimately became very powerful in the island of Hawaii, which, it is said, was for some time governed by them.
There are in the Sandwich Islands a number of persons distinguished by a lighter colour in their skin, and corresponding brown curly hair, called page 439 ehu, who are, by all the natives of the islands, considered as the descendants of these foreigners, who acknowledge themselves to be such, and esteem their origin by no means dishonourable.
Another party is said to have afterwards arrived at the same place, but the accounts the natives give of their landing are not very distinct; and we feel undecided whether there were two distinct parties, or only two different accounts of the same event.
We have heard from one of the chiefs of Hawaii, that there is a tradition, of a ship having touched at the island of Maui prior to the arrival of Capt. Cook; but, with the exception of this chief, all the natives we have conversed with on the subject, and we have conversed with many, declare that they had no idea of a ship before Capt. Cook was seen off Tauai. The ship they called motu, an island, probably supposing it was an island, with all its inhabitants.
Marvellous reports respecting the ships and people were circulated through the islands, between the first discovery of Tauai, and the return of the vessels from the north-west coast of America. Aa mo, skin of lizard's egg, a native of Tauai, who was on board on one of the ships, procured a piece of canvass, about a yard and a half long, which Tiha, king of Tauai, sent as a present to Poriorani, king of Oahu. He gave it to his queen Opuhani, by whom it was worn on the most conspicuous part of her dress in a public procession, and attracted more attention than any thing else. The piece of cloth was called Aa mo, after the man who had the honour of bringing it from the ships.
The most unaccountable circumstance connected page 440 with the priest Paao, is his arriving alone, though he might be the only survivor of his party. If such a person ever did arrive, we should think he was a Roman Catholic priest, and the reported gods an image and a crucifix.
The different parties that subsequently arrived were probably, if any inference may be drawn from the accounts of the natives, survivors of the crew of some Spanish ship wrecked in the neighbourhood, perhaps on the numerous reefs to the north-west; or they might have been culprits committed by their countrymen to the mercy of the waves. The circumstance of the first party leaving the island in the same boat in which they arrived, would lead us to suppose they had been wrecked, and had escaped in their boat, or had constructed a bark out of the wreck of their ship, as has subsequently been the case with two vessels wrecked in the vicinity of these islands.
It is possible that one or other of the islands might have been seen by some Spanish ship passing between Acapulco and Manilla; but it is not probable that they were ever visited by any of these ships. An event so interesting to the people would not have been left out of their traditions, which contain many things much less important; and, had the Spaniards discovered them, however jealous they might be of such a discovery becoming known to other nations, that jealousy would not have prevented their availing themselves of the facilities which the islands afforded for refitting or recruiting their vessels, which must frequently have been most desirable during the period their ships were accustomed to traverse these seas.
These accounts, but particularly the latter, are generally known, and have been related by different page 441 persons at distant places. All agree respecting the boat, clothing, sword, &c. of the party who arrived at Kearake'kua. Among others, the late king Rihoriho gave us a detailed account of their landing, &c. only a short time before he embarked for England. We feel but little doubt of the fact; but the country whence they came, the place whither they were bound, the occasion of their visit, and a variety of interesting particulars connected therewith, will probably remain undiscovered.
The 31st was the Sabbath. The stillness of every thing around, the decent apparel of those who were seen passing and repassing, together with the numbers of canoes all drawn up on the beach, under the shade of the cocoa-nut or kou trees, combined to mark the return of the la tabu, or sacred day. An unusual number attended family prayers at the governor's house in the morning; and, at half-past ten, the bell was rung for public worship. About eight hundred people assembled under the ranai, and I preached to them from Heb. xi. 7. And, after a succinct account of the deluge, I endeavoured to exhibit the advantages of faith, and the consequences of wickedness and unbelief, as illustrated in the salvation of Noah, and the destruction of the rest of mankind.
After the conclusion of the service, several persons present requested me to remain till they had made some inquiries respecting the deluge, Noah, &c.
They said they were informed by their fathers, that all the land had once been overflowed by the sea, except a small peak on the top of Mouna-Kea, where two human beings were preserved from the destruction that overtook the rest, but page 442 they said they had never before heard of a ship, or of Noah, having always been accustomed to call it the kai a Kahinárii, (sea of Kahinárii.) After conversing with them some time, I returned to the governor's.
The afternoon was principally employed in conversation with him on the flood, and the repeopling of the earth by the descendants of Noah. The governor seemed to doubt whether it were possible that the Hawaiians could be the descendants of Noah; but said, he thought their progenitors must have been created on the islands. I told him the account in the bible had every evidence that could be wished, to support it; referred him to his own traditions, not only of Hawaii having been peopled by persons who came in canoes from a foreign country, but of their having in their turn visited other islands, and planted colonies, as in the days of Kamapiikai; the superiority of their war canoes in former days; the resemblance in manners, customs, traditions, and language, between themselves and other islanders in the Pacific, many thousand miles distant.
The longevity of mankind in the days of Noah, also surprised him. Comparing it with the period of human life at the present time, he said, “By and by, men will not live more than forty years.”
At half-past four in the afternoon the bell rang again, and the people collected in numbers about equal to those who attended in the morning. I preached to them from the words, “Be not weary in well-doing; for in due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not.”
Numbers thronged the governor's house at evening worship. The conversation afterwards turned upon the identity of the body at the resurrection, page 443 and the reward of the righteous in heaven. The governor asked if people would know each other in heaven; and when answered in the affirmative, said, he thought Christian relations would be very happy when they met there. Some who were present asked, “If there is no eating and drinking, or wearing of clothes, in heaven—wherein does its goodness consist?” This was a natural question for a Hawaiian to ask, who never had an idea of happiness except in the gratification of his natural appetites and feelings. In answer to the question, they were, however, informed, that the joys of heaven were intellectual and spiritual, and would infinitely exceed, both in their nature and duration, every earthly enjoyment. At a late hour I took leave of the governor and his family, thanking him, at the same time, for the hospitable entertainment we had received, and the great facilities he had afforded for accomplishing the objects of our visit.
About three o'clock in the morning, being awoke by the shouts of the men who were heaving up the anchor of the pilot-boat, I repaired on board, and immediately afterwards we sailed with a gentle breeze blowing from the land. The wind was light and baffling, and it was noon before we reached Towaihae, where I learned with disappointment that the Nio had sailed to Oahu. On landing, I was welcomed by Mr. Young, with whom I remained till the pilot-boat was ready to sail for Lahaina.
Late in the evening of the 2d of September, after preaching to the people of the place at Mr. Young's house, I went again on board the pilot-boat, but found her so full of sandal-wood, that there was not room for any person below, page 444 while the decks were crowded with natives. The weather was unfavourable for getting under weigh till nearly daylight; and every person on board was completely drenched by the heavy rain that fell during the night.
During the forenoon of the 3d, we drifted slowly to the northward, and about noon took in eight hundred dried fish, after which we made sail for Maui. The weather was warm, the wind light; and all on board being obliged to keep on deck, without any screen or shade from the scorching rays of a vertical sun, the situation was very uncomfortable. At three p. m. we took the channel breeze, which soon wafted us across to the south-east part of Maui.
As the shores of Hawaii receded from my view, a variety of reflections insensibly arose in my mind. The tour which, in the society of my companions, I had made, had been replete with interest. The varied and sublime phenomena of nature had elevated our conceptions of “nature's God;” the manners and customs of the inhabitants had increased our interest in their welfare; while their superstition, moral degradation, ignorance, and vice, had called forth our sincerest commiseration. We had made known the nature and consequences of sin; spoken of the love of God; and had exhibited the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Saviour, to multitudes who had never before heard his name, or been directed to worship the holy and living God, and who would probably never hear these truths again. We cherish the hope, that, under the divine blessing, lasting good will result, even from this transient visit.
Many of the individuals we have met on these occasions, we shall in all probability meet no more page 445 till the morning of the resurrection. May we meet them then on the right hand of the Son of God!
At sun-set we arrived off Morokini, but were shortly after becalmed. The current, however, was in our favour through the night, and at daylight on the 4th we found ourselves off the east end of the district of Lahaina, and about a mile distant from the shore. Many of the natives jumped into the sea, and swam to the beach, holding their clothes above their heads with one hand, and swimming with the other.
On landing I waited on Keopuolani, the king's mother, whom I found ill; Karaimoku, Kaahu–manu, Kalakua, and several other chiefs, were reclining around her, weeping. After some time, Karaimoku proposed that they should unitedly pray for her recovery, and his proposal was acceded to.
Towards evening, I visited the governor of the island, and also the king, who was then at Maui. The subsequent voyage of the latter to Great Britain, accompanied by his queen, and the melancholy event which terminated their lives while in London, excited considerable interest, and will probably be considered sufficient apology for a short account of them, although the event took place after my visit to Maui at this time.
The late king of the Sandwich Islands was the son of Tamehameha, former king, and Keopuolani, daughter of Kauikeouli, and Kakuiapoiwa. He was born in the eastern part of Hawaii, in the year 1795 or 1796. The name by which he was generally known was Rihoriho, which was only a contraction of Kalaninui-rihoriho, literally, the heavens great black—from Ka lani, the heavens, nui, great, and rihoriho, applied to any thing burnt to page 446 blackness. On public occasions, he was sometimes called Tamehameha, after his father, though names are not always hereditary. Besides these, he had a variety of other names, the most common of which was Iolani. The word lani, heaven or sky, formed a component part in the name of most chiefs of distinction. The following is a fac-simile of the official signature of the late king.
The early habits of Rihoriho did not warrant any great expectations. His natural disposition was frank and humane. The natives always spoke of him as good-natured, except when he was under the influence of ardent spirits; his manners were perfectly free, at the same time dignified, and always agreeable to those who were about him. His mind was naturally inquisitive. The questions he usually presented to foreigners were by no means trifling; and his memory was retentive. His general knowledge of the world was much greater than could have been expected. I have heard him entertain a party of chiefs for hours together, with accounts of different parts of the earth, describing the extensive lakes, the mountains, and mines of North and South America; the elephants and inhabitants of India; the houses, manufactures, &c. of England; with no small accuracy, considering he had never seen them. He had a great thirst for knowledge, and was diligent in his studies. I recollect his remarking, one page 447 day, when he opened his writing-desk, that he expected more advantage from that desk than from a fine brig belonging to him, lying at anchor opposite the house in which we were sitting. Mr. Bingham and myself were his daily teachers, and have often been surprised at his unwearied perseverance. I have sat beside him at his desk sometimes from nine or ten o'clock in the morning, till nearly sun-set, during which period his pen or his book has not been out of his hand more than three-quarters of an hour, while he was at dinner.
We do not know that Christianity exerted any decisive influence on his heart. He was willing to receive the Missionaries on their first arrival—availed himself of their knowledge, to increase his own—and, during the latter years of his life, was decidedly favourable to their object; declared his conviction of the truth of Christianity; attended public worship himself on the Sabbath, and recommended the same to his people.
His moral character was not marked by that cruelty, rapacity, and insensibility to the sufferings of the people, which frequently distinguish the arbitrary chiefs of uncivilized nations. He appears in general to have been kind; and, in several places on our tour, the mothers shewed us their children, and told us, that when Rihoriho passed that way, he had kissed them—a condescension they seemed to think much of, and which they will probably remember to the end of their days. But, though generous in his disposition, and humane in his conduct towards his subjects, he was addicted to intoxication—whether from natural inclination, or the influence and example of others, is not now to be determined; frequently, to my own knowledge, it has been entirely from the page 448 latter. Had he in early life been privileged to associate with individuals whose conduct and principles were favourable to virtue and religion, there is every reason to suppose his moral character, with respect at least to this vice, would have been as irreproachable as his mental habits were commendable. But, alas for him! it was quite the reverse.
Though not distinguished by the ardour and strength of character so conspicuous in his father, he possessed both decision and enterprise: the abolition of the national idolatry was a striking instance of the former; and his voyage to England, of the latter.
The motives by which he was induced to undertake a voyage so long and hazardous, were highly commendable. They were,—a desire to see, for himself, countries of which he had heard such various and interesting accounts—a wish to have a personal interview with his majesty the king of Great Britain, or the chief members of the British government, for the purpose of confirming the cession of the Sandwich Islands, and placing himself and his dominions under British protection.
It was also his intention to make himself acquainted with the tenor and forms of administering justice in the courts of law—the principles of commerce—and other subjects, important to the welfare of the islands.
The melancholy death of the late king and queen, which took place shortly after their arrival in England, not only prevented the full accomplishment of these desirable objects, but awakened very generally a degree of apprehension that the people of the islands, unacquainted with the true page 449 circumstances of their death, would be led to suppose they had been neglected, unkindly treated, or even poisoned in revenge of the death of Capt. Cook, and that the feelings of friendship, with which they had been accustomed to regard the people of England, might be followed by enmity or distrust. The fears of those who felt interested in the welfare of the Hawaiians, though natural, were groundless. The British government had entertained the young ruler of the Sandwich Islands, his consort and attendants, with its accustomed hospitality; and when they were attacked by diseases incident to a northern climate, but unknown in their native islands, every attention that humanity could suggest, and every alleviation that the first medical skill in London could afford, was most promptly rendered. After their decease, the highest respect was paid to their remains, and, in honourable regard to the feelings of the nation who had suffered this painful bereavement, a British frigate, under the command of Capt. Lord Byron, was appointed to convey to the Sandwich Islands the bodies of the king and queen, that their sorrowing people might have the mournful satisfaction of depositing their ashes among the tombs of their ancestors.
By the return of a highly esteemed Missionary friend, Rev. C. S. Stewart, I have learned, that the Blonde reached the islands in the month of May, 1825: the natives were in some degree prepared for the arrival, by the intelligence of the death of their king and queen, which they had received about two months before from Valparaizo. Shortly after, the vessel having the remains of the king and queen on board, had anchored off Oahu Boki, the principal chief, who had accompanied page 450 the king to England, attended by those of his countrymen who had also returned, proceeded on shore: on landing, he was met by his elder brother Karaimoku, and other distinguished chiefs, and after the first emotions of joy at meeting again, and sorrow on account of the loss all had sustained, were somewhat abated, the survivors and their friends walked in solemn and mournful procession to the place of worship, where thanksgivings were presented to God, for the merciful preservation of those who were thus privileged to meet again, and supplications were made that the afflicting dispensation, which all so deeply felt, might exert a salutary influence in the minds of the surviving chiefs, and the sorrowing nation at large.
Karaimoku, the late prime minister, and present regent of the islands, then arose, and said, “We have lost our king and queen, they have died in a foreign land; we shall see them no more; it is right that we should weep, but let us not entertain hard thoughts of God. God has not done wrong. The evil is with us: let us bow under his hand; let all amusement cease; let our daily avocations be suspended; and let the nation, by prayer, and a cessation from ordinary pursuits, humble itself before God fourteen days.” Before the assembly separated, Boki stood up, and, in a brief outline of the voyage, narrated the most prominent events that had transpired since his departure from the islands, calling their attention in particular to the suitable and important advice he had received from his majesty the king of Great Britain, in an audience with which he was graciously favoured: viz. To return to his native country, attend to general and religious instruction himself, and endeavour to enlighten and reform the people.—The peculiar page 451 circumstances of the people at this time, the increased satisfaction they had for some time felt in attending every means of instruction within their reach, and the pleasing change in favour of religion, which many had experienced, rendered this recommendation, so congenial to their feelings, from a source so distinguished, unusually acceptable. A deep and favourable impression was produced on all present, a new impulse was given to the means already employed for the instruction and improvement of the people, from which most advantageous results have already appeared. They were also made acquainted, by Boki and his companions, with the kind reception, generous treatment, and marked attentions, which the late king and queen and their suite had received while in England. This intelligence, communicated by those whose testimony would be received with the most entire credence, would at once confirm the attachment and confidence they have so long felt towards England.
No disturbance of the general tranquillity, nor change in the government of the islands, has resulted from this event. Rihoriho left a younger brother, Kauikeouli, about ten years of age, who is acknowledged by the chiefs as his successor. A regency will govern during his minority, and the executive authority will probably continue to be exercised by Karaimoku, and the other chiefs with whom Rihoriho left it when he embarked for England.
The queen, who accompanied him, and who died at the same time, has left a fond mother and an affectionate people to lament her loss: she was the daughter of Tamehameha and Kalakua, and was born about the year 1797 or 1798, being two page 452 years younger than Rihoriho, and about twenty-six years of age when she left the islands. Like all the persons of distinction, she had many names, but that by which she was generally known, was Kamehamaru, (shade of Kameha,) from kameha, a contraction of her father's name, and maru, shade. She was distinguished for good-nature, and was much beloved by all her subjects. The poor people, when unable to pay their rent, or under the displeasure of the king and chiefs, or embarrassed on any other account, frequently repaired to her, and found a friend whose aid was never refused. She was also kind to those foreigners who might be distressed in the islands; and though she never harboured any, or countenanced their absconding from their ships, she has often fed them when hungry, and given them native tapa for clothing.
Kamehamaru was at all times lively and agreeable in company; and though her application to her book and her pen was equal to that of the king, her improvement in learning was more gradual, and her general knowledge less extensive.
She excelled, however, in the management of his domestic affairs, which were conducted by her with great judgment and address; and though formerly accustomed to use ardent spirits, from the time she put herself under Christian instruction, she entirely discontinued that, and every other practice inconsistent with her profession of Christianity. Her attendance on the duties of religion was maintained with commendable regularity.
Her influence contributed very materially to the pleasing change that has recently taken place, in connexion with the labours of the Missionaries in the islands. For the instruction and moral improvement page 453 of the people, she manifested no ordinary concern. Long before many of the leading chiefs were favourable to the instruction of the people, or their reception of Christianity, Kamehamaru on every suitable occasion recommended her own servants to serve Jehovah the living God, and attend to every means of improvement within their reach. It was truly pleasing to observe, so soon after she had embraced Christianity herself, an anxiety to induce her people to follow her example. At Honoruru she erected a school, in which upwards of forty children and young persons, principally connected with her establishment, were daily taught to read and write, and instructed in the first principles of religion, by a native teacher whom she almost entirely supported. In this school she took a lively interest, and marked the progress of the scholars with evident satisfaction; in order to encourage the pupils, she frequently visited the school during the hours of instruction, accompanied by a number of chief women. She also attended the public examinations, and noticed those who on these occasions excelled, frequently presenting a favourite scholar with a slate, a copy-book, pencil, pen, or some other token of her approbation.
In her death, the Missionaries have lost a sincere friend, and her subjects a queen who always delighted to alleviate their distresses and promote their interests.
Her disposition was affectionate. I have seen her and the king sitting beside the couch of Keo–puolani, her mother-in-law, day after day, when the latter has been ill; and on these occasions, though there might be several servants in constant attendance, she would allow no individual but her page 454 husband or herself to hand to the patient any thing she might want, or even fan the flies from her person.
The circumstances attending her departure from the islands were peculiarly affecting. The king had gone on board L'Aigle; but the boat was waiting to convey her to the ship. She arose from the mat on which she had been reclining, embraced her mother and other relations most affectionately, and passed through the crowd towards the boat. The people fell down on their knees as she walked along, pressing and saluting her feet, frequently bathing them with tears of unfeigned sorrow, and making loud wailings, in which they were joined by the thousands who thronged the shore.
On reaching the water side, she turned, and beckoned to the people to cease their cries. As soon as they were silent, she said, “I am going to a distant land, and perhaps we shall not meet again. Let us pray to Jehovah, that he may preserve us on the water, and you on the shore.” She then called Auna, a native teacher from the Society Islands, and requested him to pray. He did so; at the conclusion, she waved her hand to the people, and said, “Arohá nui oukou:” (Attachment great to you:) she then stepped into the boat, evidently much affected. The multitude followed her, not only to the beach, but into the sea, where many, wading into the water, stood waving their hands, exhibiting every attitude of sorrow, and uttering their loud u-e! u-e! (alas! alas!) till the boat had pulled far out to sea.
The death of the king and queen, so soon after their arrival in England, was an event in many respects deeply to be deplored. The officers of page 455 the London Missionary Society were unable to gain access to them until they should have been introduced to his Majesty; and one of them, I believe the king, died on the very day on which that introduction was to have taken place. The same circumstance also prevented many Christian friends, who felt interested in their welfare, from that intercourse with them, which, under the blessing of God, might have been expected to have strengthened the religious impressions they had received from the instructions of the Missionaries. In their visit to England, they were accompanied by a suite, which, though much less numerous than that which invariably attended their movements in their native islands, included, nevertheless, several individuals of rank and influence. Among the principal of these was Boki, the governor of the island of Oahu, and Liliha, his wife; Kauruheimarama, a distant relation of the king; Kakuanaoa and Kapihe, two of his favourite companions; the latter of whom was a man of an amiable disposition, and, considering the circumstances under which he had been brought up, possessed general intelligence. He had made a voyage to Canton, in China, for the purpose of acquiring mercantile information: and, from the circumstance of his commanding the finest vessel belonging to the king, a brig of about ninety tons burden, called the Haaheo Hawaii, (Pride of Hawaii,) he was sometimes called the Admiral, although that is an office to which there is nothing analogous in the present maritime system of the Hawaiians. With this individual, who died at Valparaizo, on his return to the islands, and the others who survived the death of the king, particularly with Boki, the officers of the London Missionary Society had several interviews, page 456 and received the strongest assurances of their continued patronage and support of the Christian Mission established in the Sandwich Islands. Many benevolent individuals had also an opportunity of testifying the deep interest they felt in the civil, moral, and religious improvement of their countrymen.
It is a pleasing fact, in connexion with the present circumstances of the nation, that almost every chief of rank and influence in the Sandwich Islands is favourably disposed towards the instruction of the natives, and the promulgation of the gospel. A deep sense of the kindness of the friends, by whom the chiefs, who survived the king and queen, were visited at Portsmouth, appears to have remained on the minds of the Hawaiian chiefs long after their return to their native land; for, when the Rev. C. S. Stewart, an American Missionary, was about to leave the Sandwich Islands for Great Britain, Boki gave him a special charge to present his grateful regards to the Bishop of Portsmouth. Mr. S. told him he was not aware that there was such a dignitary; but Boki said, Yes, there was, for he visited him, with some of his friends, when they were on the point of sailing from England. I at first heard that the late Dr. Bogue was the individual to whom Boki referred; but I have since learned, that, in consequence of severe domestic affliction at that time, it is uncertain whether he did or did not; and that the Sandwich Island chief referred either to the Rev. C. Simeon, of Cambridge, or the Rev. J. Griffin, by both of whom he was visited.
Among the letters I was favoured to receive from the islands, by the return of his majesty's ship page 457 Blonde, those from Boki and Liliha, or, as she was frequently called while in England, Madam Boki, were of a character so interesting, that I think I shall be pardoned for inserting one of them. It is from Boki, the chief who was with the king in London. I shall translate it very literally.
“Oahu. The first of the Twins is the month (answering to our October,) 1825.
“Affection for you, Mr. Ellis, and sympathy with you, Mrs. Ellis, in your illness. This is my entreaty: Return you hither, and we shall be right. Grief was ours on your returning. Heard before this have you of the death of the king: but all things here are correct. We are serving God: we are making ourselves strong in His word. Turned have the chiefs to instruction: their desire is towards God. I speak unto them, and encourage them concerning the word of God, that it may be well with our land.
“Attachment to you two, attachment to the Ministers, and the Missionaries all.
At ten o'clock in the forenoon of the 9th, I took leave of my kind friends at Lahaina, and, in company with Messrs. Bingham and Richards, went on board the Tamahorolani, bound to Oahu. It was, however, four o'clock in the afternoon before the vessel hove up her anchor. We were becalmed till nine in the evening, when a fresh breeze sprung up; we passed down the channel between Moro-kai and Ranai; and, between nine and ten in the forenoon of the 10th, arrived off the harbour of Honoruru.
On landing, I was grateful to meet my family in health and comfort, except Mrs. Ellis, who was confined by severe indisposition. I united with Messrs. Thurston, Bishop, and Goodrich, who page 458 had previously arrived, in grateful acknowledgments to God for the unremitted care and distinguishing goodness which we had enjoyed in accomplishing the interesting tour, from which, under circumstances of no small mercy, we had now returned.