Makoa objects to visiting the volcano—Account of the defeat and assassination of Keoua—Superstitions connected with the pebbly beach at Ninole—Hospitality of the natives—Methods of dressing the taro—Distant indications of the volcano at Kirauea—Visit to the burning chasm at Ponahohoa—Journey from Kapapala—Lodging in a cavern—Reflection from the volcano by night.
On the morning of the 30th, we arose much refreshed, but Makoa not having arrived with our baggage, we did not leave Honuapo so early as we could have wished. Great numbers of the people crowded our house at an early hour, and, while breakfast was preparing, they were addressed from Psa. xcvi. 4. When the service was ended, the people were anxious to know more about these things; some time was therefore spent in conversation with them. We had seldom seen any who appeared more interested in the truths of the gospel than the people of Honuapo.
About eight a. m. Makoa arrived, but without our baggage. The men who were bringing it, he said, could not be persuaded to come on last night, but had set out this morning, and would soon overtake us. We now acquainted him with our intention to visit the volcano, and requested him to hasten on the men with our baggage, as page 207 we should want more things there than we could conveniently carry. He objected strongly to our going thither, as we should most likely be mischievous, and offend Pélé or Nahoaarii, deities of the volcano, by plucking the ohelo, (sacred berries,) digging up the sand, or throwing stones into the crater, and then they would either rise out of the crater in volumes of smoke, send up large stones to fall upon us and kill us, or cause darkness and rain to overtake us, so that we should never find our way back. We told him we did not apprehend any danger from the gods; that we knew there were none; and should certainly visit the volcano. If we were determined on going, he said, we must go by ourselves; he would go with us as far as Kapapala, the last village at which we should stop, and about twenty miles on this side of it; from thence he would descend to the seashore, and wait till we overtook him. The governor, he said, had told him not to go there, and, if he had not, he should not venture near it, for it was a fearful place.
We waited till after nine o'clock, when, the men not arriving with our baggage, we proceeded on our way, leaving Makoa to wait for them, and come after us as far as Kapapala, where we expected to spend the night. As we walked through the village, numbers of the people came out of their houses, and followed us for a mile or two, after which they gradually fell behind. When they designed to leave us, they would run on a little way before us, sit down on a rock, give their parting aroha as we passed, and continue to follow us with their eyes till we were out of sight.
After travelling some time over a wide tract of lava, in some places almost as rugged as any we page 208 had yet seen, we reached Hokukano. Here we found an excellent spring of fresh water, the first we had yet seen on our tour, though we had travelled upwards of a hundred miles. While we were stopping to drink, and rest ourselves, many natives gathered around us from the neighbourhood. We requested them to accompany us to a cluster of houses a little further on, which they very cheerfully did; and here I addressed them, and invited all who were athirst, and whosoever would, to come and take of the water of life freely. They sat quietly on the lava till the concluding prayer was finished, when several simultaneously exclaimed, “He mea maitai ke ora, e makemake au:” A good thing is salvation; I desire it. They then proposed several questions, which we answered apparently to their satisfaction, and afterwards kept on our way.
We travelled over another rugged tract of lava about two hundred rods wide. It had been most violently torn to pieces, and thrown up in the wildest confusion; in some places it was heaped forty or fifty feet high. The road across it was formed of large smooth round stones, placed in a line two or three feet apart. By stepping along on these stones, we passed over, though not without considerable fatigue. About half-past eleven we reached Hilea, a pleasant village belonging to the governor. As we approached it, we observed a number of artificial fish-ponds, formed by excavating the earth to the depth of two or three feet, and banking up the sides. The sea is let into them occasionally, and they are generally well stocked with excellent fish of the mullet kind. We went into the house of the head man, and asked him to collect the people together, as page 209 we wished to speak to them about the true God. He sent out, and most of the people of the village, then at home, about two hundred in number, soon collected in his house, which was large; where Mr. Thurston preached to them. They appeared gratified with what they had heard, and pressed us very much to spend the day with them. We could not consent to this, as we had travelled but a short distance since leaving Honuapo. The head man then asked us to stop till he could prepare some refreshment; saying, he had hogs, fish, taro, potatoes, and bananas in abundance. We told him we were not in need of any thing, and would rather go on. He said, probably the governor would be angry with him, banish him, or perhaps take off his head, when he should hear that he had not entertained his friends as they passed through the place. We ate a few ripe plantains which he placed before us, and then took our leave, assuring him that we would speak to the governor on the subject of taking off his head, &c. This in some measure seemed to satisfy him, and, after accompanying us a short distance, he gave us his aroha, and returned.
As we left Hilea, our guide pointed out a small hill, called Makanau, where Keoua, the last rival of Tamehameha, surrendered himself up to the warriors under Taiana, by whom he had been conquered in two successive engagements. He was the younger brother of Kauikeotile, the eldest son and successor of Taraiopu. After the battle of Keei, in which his brother was slain, he fled to Hiro, the large eastern division of the island. The warriors of Hiro, with those of Puna, and some parts of Kaü, on the south-east, together with those of part of Hamakua on the north-east, declared page 210 themselves in his favour, as the immediate descendant of Taraiopu. Among them he resided several years, undisturbed by Tamehameha, frequently making attacks on the northern and western parts of the island, in which, however, he was generally repulsed with loss. Notwithstanding the defeats he had experienced, he was still desirous to obtain the sovereignty of the whole island, to the throne of which he considered himself the legitimate heir, and in the year 1789 marched from Hiro with all his forces, to attack Kaü and Kona on the western shores. He took the inland road, and on his way across the island halted for the night in the vicinity of the volcano. An eruption took place that very night, and destroyed the warriors of two small villages, in all about eighty men. This was considered an ill omen. He, however, continued his march, and shortly after reached Tairitii. Here he was met by a body of Tamehameha's warriors under Taiana, a chief, of whom frequent mention is made in Meare's and Dixon's voyages. An engagement took place, in which he was defeated, and obliged to retreat towards Hiro. The victorious party pursued, and overtook him at Puakokoki, in the division of Puna, where another battle was fought, in which his forces were totally routed, and almost all of them slain. He saved himself by flying to the mountains, attended by a few of his kahu, or faithful companions. Taiana and his warriors returned to Waiohinu, there to remain till the place of his retreat should be discovered.
After some time, Keoua, Kaoreioku, his younger brother, and a few friends that were with them, came to Makanau. From hence he despatched a messenger to Taiana, requesting page 211 permission to pass to the sea-shore, in order that he might go and surrender himself to Tamehameha, who was then at Towaihae. Taiana, and the rest of the warriors, agreed to allow him to pass unmolested through their camp, and Keaveaheuru, the father of Naihe, present chief of Kaavaroa, and Kamahoe, father of Hoapiri, two near relatives of Keoua, though attached to Tamehameha, went back to assure him of his safety, and of the friendly feelings of Tamehameha towards him. He accompanied them to Tairitii, where they embarked in Taiana's canoes, and directed their course along the western shores to Towaihae. On their way he stopped at several places, particularly Honomalino, Honaunau, Kaavaroa, Keauhou, and Kairua. The people at each of the places, at Honaunau in particular, crowded around him, brought him presents of food, hogs, tapa, and fruits, and, by every means in their power, demonstrated their attachment to him. Many of them wept, some on account of the joy they felt at seeing him again; others, from a foreboding fear of the result of his surrender to Tamehameha. He stopped two nights Paraoa, a small village a few miles to the southward of Towaihae, where he received the greatest assurances of Tamehameha's kind intentions; and, on the morning of the third day, proceeded to Towaihae. Tamehameha, with his chiefs, was standing on the beach as his canoe came in sight, and, with most of the chiefs, intended to protect him; but Keeaumoku, a chief of the most sanguinary disposition, who had grappled with his elder brother in the battle at Keei, had determined on his death; and fearing Tamehameha might frustrate his purpose, if the canoe was allowed to page 212 land, he waded above his middle into the sea; and, regardless of the orders of Tamehameha, and the expostulations of the other chiefs, caught hold of the canoe as it approached the shore, and, either with his pahoa or a long knife, stabbed Keoua to the heart as he sat in the stern. He also murdered seven of his companions and friends, who came in the same canoe. In another canoe was Kaoreioku, his younger brother, and the father of Pauahi, one of the wives of Rihoriho, the late sovereign of the islands. Tamehameha gave strict orders to protect it, and their lives were spared. Tamehameha, and many of the chiefs, particularly Keaveaheuru and Kamahoe, are reported to have regretted his death. Keeaumoku, however, justified his horrid act by saying, that if Keoua had been allowed to live, they should never have been secure.
We had not travelled far before we reached Ninole, a small village on the sea-shore, celebrated on account of a short pebbly beach called Koroa, the stones of which were reported to possess very singular properties; amongst others, that of propagating their species. The natives told us it was a wahi pana (place famous) for supplying the stones employed in making small adzes and hatchets, before they were acquainted with the use of iron; but particularly for furnishing the stones of which the gods were made, who presided over most of the games of Hawaii. Some powers of discrimination, they told us, were necessary to discover the stones which would answer to be deified. When selected, they were taken to the heiau, and there several ceremonies were performed over them. Afterwards, when dressed, and taken to the place where the games were page 213 practised, if the parties to whom they belonged were successful, their fame was established; but, if unsuccessful for several times together, they were either broken to pieces, or thrown contemptuously away. When any were removed for the purpose of being transformed into gods, one of each sex was generally selected; these were always wrapped very carefully together in a piece of native cloth. After a certain time, they said a small stone would be found with them, which, when grown to the size of its parents, was taken to the heiau, or temple, and afterwards made to preside at the games.
We were really surprised at the tenacity with which this last opinion was adhered to, not only by the poor people of the place, but by several others, with whom we have since conversed, and whom we should have supposed better informed. It required all the argument and ridicule that we could employ, to make them believe it could not possibly be so. Koroa was also a place of importance in times of war, as the best stones used in their slings were procured here.
This place is also celebrated as furnishing the small black and white stones used by the natives in playing at konane, a native game, resembling drafts, and apparently more intricate. The konane board is generally two feet long, and contains upwards of two hundred squares, usually fourteen in a row. It is a favourite amusement with the old men; and we have known one game, commenced early in the morning, hardly concluded on the same day.
We examined some of the stones. The black ones appeared to be pieces of trap, or compact lava. The white ones were branches of white page 214 coral, common to all the islands of the Pacific. The angles of both were worn away, and the attrition occasioned by the continual rolling of the surf on the beach, had also given them a considerable polish.
After travelling about two miles, we came to Punaruu, where the people of that and the next village, Wailau, collected together in a large house, and were addressed on the nature and attributes of the true God, and the way of salvation. In general, speaking to the people in the open air was preferred, as we then had more hearers than when we addressed them in a house. But in the middle of the day we usually found it too hot to stand so long in the sun. The services which we held in the morning and evening were always out of doors.
We now left the road by the sea-side, and directed our course towards the mountains. Our path lay over a rich yellow-looking soil of decomposed lava, or over a fine black vegetable mould, in which we occasionally saw a few masses of lava partially decomposed, sufficient to convince us that the whole had once been overflowed, and that lava was the basis of the whole tract of country. There was but little cultivation, though the ground appeared well adapted to the growth of all the most valuable produce of the islands. After walking up a gentle ascent about eight miles, we came to a solitary hamlet, called Makaaka, containing four or five houses, in which three or four families were residing.
The house which we entered was large, and beneath one roof included their workshop, kitchen, and sleeping-room, without any intervening partitions. On one side, two women were beating page 215 native cloth, and the men were at work on a new canoe. In the same place were several larger ones, one upwards of sixty feet long, and between two or three feet deep, hollowed out of a single tree. The workmen told us they were making a pair of that size for Kaikioeva, guardian of the young prince Kauikeouli, whose tenants they were.
Near the south end of the house, which was quite open, stood their fire-place, where a man was preparing a quantity of arum or taro for the oven. The roots were oblong, from six inches to a foot in length, and three or four inches in diameter. The substance of the root is somewhat like that of a potato, but more fibrous; and to the taste, before dressed, is exceedingly pungent and acrid. The tender leaves of this plant are sometimes wrapped up in plantain leaves, baked, and eaten by the natives; but in general the root only is used as an article of food. The oven was a hole in the earth, three or four feet in diameter, and nearly a foot deep. A number of small stones were spread over the bottom, a few dried leaves laid on them, and the necessary quantity of sticks and firewood piled up, and covered over with small stones. The dry leaves were then kindled, and while the stones were heating, the man scraped off the skin or rind of the taro with a shell, and split the roots into two or three pieces. When the stones were red hot, they were spread out with a stick, the remaining firebrands taken away, and when the dust and ashes on the stones at the bottom had been brushed off with a green bough, the taro, wrapped in leaves, was laid on them till the oven was full, when a few more leaves were spread on the taro; hot stones were page 216 then placed on these leaves, and a covering six inches thick, of leaves and earth, spread over the whole. In this state the taro remained to steam or bake about half an hour, when they opened their oven, and took as many roots as were needed. The arum or taro is an excellent vegetable, boiled as we are accustomed to dress potatoes, but is not so farinaceous and pleasant as when baked in a native oven. Sometimes the natives broil their food on heated stones, or roast it before their fire; but these ovens are most generally used for cooking their several kinds of victuals. Potatoes and yams are dressed in the same manner as the taro; but pigs, dogs, fish, and birds, are wrapped in green leaves before they are put into the oven.
We saw some Muscovy ducks in the garden, and offered to purchase one; but they said they were rearing them for their landlord, and could not part with any; they furnished us, however, with a fowl, with which, and some biscuit we had with us, we made a tolerable meal. We remained about two hours, during which we did not omit to speak to the inhabitants respecting the Saviour. We also offered to remunerate them for what we had received, but they refused to take any thing. We therefore made the children a present of a looking-glass and a few strings of beads, and then resumed our journey over the same verdant country, frequently crossing small valleys and water-courses, which, however, were all dry.
The surface of the country was covered with a light yellow soil, and clothed with tall grass, but the sides and bed of every water-course we passed were composed of volcanic rock, a kind of basaltes, or dark gray compact lava, with fine grains of page 217 olivine, the different strata lying in a direction gently inclined towards the sea.
The land, though very good, was but partially cultivated, till we came to Kaaraara, where we passed through large fields of taro and potatoes, with sugar-cane and plantains growing very luxuriantly. Maruae, the chief of the place, came down to the road-side as we passed by, and asked us to stay for the night at his house; but as Kapapala was only four miles distant, we thought we could reach it before dark, and therefore thanked him, and proposed to walk on. As our boys were tired with their bundles, we asked him to allow a man to carry them to Kapapala. He immediately ordered one to go with us, and we passed on through a continued succession of plantations, in a high state of cultivation.
During the whole of the time we had been travelling on the high land, we had perceived a number of columns of smoke and vapour, rising at a considerable distance, and also one large steady column, that seemed little affected by the wind; and this, we were informed, arose from the great crater at Kirauea. The smaller columns were emitted at irregular intervals of several seconds between each. On inquiry we learned, that they arose from deep chasms in the earth, and were accompanied by a hot and sulphureous vapour. About seven o'clock in the evening we reached Kapapala, and directed our weary steps to the house of Tapuahi, the head man. He kindly bade us welcome, spread a mat in the front of his house, for us to sit down upon, and brought us a most agreeable beverage, a calabash full of good cool fresh water.
The thermometer at sunset stood at 70°, and page 218 we sat for some time talking with the people around us. The air from the mountains, however, soon began to be keen. We then went into the house, and, although we were in a tropical climate, in the month of July, we found a fire very comfortable. It was kindled in a hollow place in the centre of the earthen floor, surrounded by large square stones, and gave both light and heat. But as there was only one aperture, which, as in the houses of the ancient Britons, answered the triple purpose of a door, a window, and a chimney, the smoke was sometimes rather troublesome.
Few of the Hawaiian females are without some favourite animal. It is usually a dog. Here, however, we observed a species of pet that we had not seen before. It was a curly-tailed pig, about a year and a half old, three or four feet long, and apparently well fed. He belonged to two sisters of our host, who formed part of his family, and joined the social circle around the evening hearth.
In the neighbourhood of Kapapala, we noticed a variety of the paper-mulberry, somewhat different from that generally cultivated, which grew spontaneously, and appeared indigenous. Large quantities of the dried bark of this plant, tied up in bundles, like hemp or flax, were piled up in the house where we lodged. It is used in manufacturing a kind of tapa, called mamake, prized throughout the islands on account of its strength and durability.
About eight o'clock a pig was baked, and some taro prepared by our host, for supper. At our particular request, he was induced to partake of it, though contrary to the etiquette of his country. When we had finished, Tupuahi and his household assembled for family worship, after which we page 219 retired to rest. We had travelled more than twenty miles, and two of our number had, since the morning, spoken four times to the people.
Soon after sunrise on the 31st, the people of the place were collected around our house. I requested them to sit down in front, and, after singing a hymn, preached to them a short and plain discourse. Mr. Thurston concluded the service with prayer. The people remained in the place nearly an hour, and made many inquiries.
After breakfast three of our number went to visit the places where we had seen the columns of smoke rising yesterday; and having travelled about five miles, over a country fertile and generally cultivated, we came to Ponahohoa. It was a bed of ancient lava, the surface of which was decomposed; and in many places shrubs and trees had grown to a considerable height.
As we approached the places whence the smoke issued, we passed over a number of fissures and deep chasms, from two inches to six feet in width. The whole mass of rocks had evidently been rent by some violent convulsion of the earth, at no very distant period; and when we came in sight of the ascending columns of smoke and vapour, we beheld immediately before us a valley, or hollow, about half a mile across, formed by the sinking of the whole surface of ancient lava, to a depth of fifty feet below its original level. Its superficies was intersected by fissures in every direction; and along the centre of the hollow, two large chasms, of irregular form and breadth, were seen stretching from the mountain towards the sea, in a south-by-west direction, and extending either way as far as the eye could reach. The principal chasm was in some places so narrow that we could step over page 220 it, but in others it was ten or twelve feet across. It was from these wider portions that the smoke and vapours arose.
As we descended into this valley, the ground sounded hollow, and in several places the lava cracked under our feet. Towards the centre, it was so hot that we could not stand more than a minute in the same place. As we drew near one of the apertures that emitted smoke and vapour, our guide stopped, and tried to dissuade us from proceeding any further, assuring us he durst not venture nearer, for fear of Pélé, the deity of the volcanoes. We told him there was no Pélé, of which he need be afraid; but that if he did not wish to accompany us, he might go back to the bushes at the edge of the valley, and await our return. He immediately retraced his steps, and we proceeded on, passing as near some of the smoking fissures, as the heat and sulphureous vapour rising from them would admit. We looked down into several, but it was only in three or four that we could see any bottom. The depth of these appeared to be about fifty or sixty feet, and the bottoms were composed of loose fragments of rocks and large stones, that had fallen in from the top or sides of the chasm. Most of them appeared to be red hot; and we thought we saw flames in one, but the smoke was generally so dense, and the heat so great, that we could not look long, nor see very distinctly the bottom of any of them. Our legs, hands, and faces, were nearly scorched by the heat. Into one of the small fissures we put our thermometer, which had stood at 84.; it instantly rose to 118., and, probably, would have risen much higher, could we have held it longer there.page 221
After walking along the middle of the hollow for nearly a mile, we came to a place where the chasm was about three feet across, at its upper edge, though apparently much wider below, and about forty feet in length; and from which a large quantity of lava had been recently vomited. It had been thrown in detached semifluid pieces to a considerable distance in every direction, and from both sides of the opening had flowed down in a number of smaller streams.
The appearance of the tufts of long grass through which it had run; the scorched leaves still remaining on one side of a tree, while the other side was reduced to charcoal, and the strings of lava hanging from some of the branches like stalactites; together with the fresh appearance of the shrubs, partially overflowed, and broken down,—convinced us that the lava had been thrown out only a few days before. It was highly scoriaceous, of a different kind from the ancient bed of which the whole valley was composed, being of a jet-black colour, and bright variegated lustre, brittle, and porous; while the ancient lava was of a gray or reddish colour, compact, and broken with difficulty. We found the heat to vary considerably in different parts of the surface; and, at one of the places, where a quantity of lava had been thrown out, and from which a volume of smoke continually issued, we could stand several minutes together, without inconvenience. We at first attributed this to the subterranean fires having become extinct beneath, but the greater thickness of the crust of ancient lava, at that place, afterwards appeared to us the most probable cause, as the volumes of smoke and vapour, which constantly ascended, indicated the page 222 vigorous action of fire below. I took a drawing of this place; and, when we had collected as many specimens of the lava as we could conveniently carry back to our lodgings, we returned to our guide, whom we found waiting at the spot where we first entered the hollow.
As he was a resident in Kapapala, and owned a small garden near, we endeavoured to learn from him something of the history of the phenomenon before us. He told us that the two large chasms were formed about eleven moons ago; that nothing else had been visible till nearly two moons back, when a slight earthquake was experienced at Kapapala, and the next time he came by, the ground had fallen in, forming the hollow that we saw, which also appeared full of fissures. About three weeks ago, as he was going to his plantation, he said, he saw a small flame issuing from the apertures, and a quantity of smoking lava all around; the branches of the trees that stood near were also broken and burnt, and several of them still smoking.
Having gratified our curiosity, we prepared to leave this infant volcano, for such to us it appeared. Although the surface, at least, of the whole country around had a volcanic origin, it seems to have remained undisturbed for a number of years, perhaps ages. The lava is decomposed, frequently a foot in depth, and is mingled with a prolific soil, fertile in vegetation, and profitable to its proprietors; and we felt a sort of melancholy interest in witnessing the first exhibitions of returning action after so long a repose in this mighty agent, whose irresistible energies will, probably, at no very remote period, spread desolation over a district now smiling in verdure, repaying the toils, page 223 and gladdening the heart, of the industrious cultivator.
Ponahohoa, the place we had visited, is situated in the district of Kapapala, in the north-east part of the division of Kaü, and is, as near as we could judge, from ten to twelve miles from the sea-shore, and about twenty miles from the great volcano at the foot of Mouna Roa.
The road by which we returned lay through a number of fields of mountain taro, which appears to be cultivated here more extensively than the sweet potato.
On the edge of one of these fields we sat down in the grass to rest, beneath a clump of beautiful trees, the erythrina corollodendrum, a tree we frequently met with in the mountains, sometimes covered with beautiful flowers, and always affording an agreeable shade. It is called by the natives oviriviri, or viriviri. Its branches are much used in erecting fences, on account of the readiness with which they take root when planted in the ground. The wood is also employed for making the carved stools placed under their canoes, when drawn on the beach, or laid up in their houses. The best kind of surf-boards are also made of this wood, which is lighter than any other the natives possess.
On our way back, we also passed several hills, whose broad base and irregular tops shewed them originally to have been craters. They must be very ancient, as they were covered with shrubs and trees. From them must have come the then molten, but now indurated, flood over which we were travelling. Several small columns of smoke were seen rising near them, from fissures recently made.
About two p. m. we reached our lodgings, and page 224 dismissed the man who had shewed us the way, with a remuneration for his trouble.
Between three and four o'clock in the afternoon of the 31st of July, a party of travellers, consisting of four men and a woman, entered the house in which we were stopping, and sat down to rest. We soon learned that they belonged to Kearakomo, in Puna, whither they were going, by a road that also led to the great volcano; and having before experienced the great inconvenience of travelling without a guide over a country of which we were entirely ignorant, it appeared desirable that some of us at least should go with them. We expressed our intention to accompany them. They were pleased, and told us they would wait till we were ready.
No tidings had yet been received of Makoa, or our baggage, our biscuit was nearly expended, and being without even a change of linen, we did not think it expedient to leave this place altogether before our baggage should arrive, especially as we knew it would be several days before we should reach any of the villages on the shores of Puna. Messrs. Bishop and Goodrich, therefore, thought best to wait at least another day, while the rest proceeded with the travellers.
Having made this arrangement, we immediately packed up our provisions, which were but a scanty supply, and filled our canteens with water. The natives filled their calabashes; and about five p. m. Messrs. Thurston, Harwood, and myself left Kapapala, in company with the people of Puna. We proceeded a short distance to a place called Kapuahi, (the hearth of fire,) where we stopped at the entrance of a large cave, arched over by a thick crust of ancient lava. Here two or three page 225 families, consisting of men, women, and children, were residing. Its interior was rather dark, as the entrance was the only aperture that admitted light; yet the inhabitants of this dreary abode seemed cheerful and contented, and perhaps felt themselves favoured by Pélé, in having a permanent abode furnished free of labour or expense. The women were employed in making mats, and beating tapa; the children were playing among the fragments of lava on the outside, and the men were preparing an oven in which to bake some taro. We wished to purchase a few fowls of them, but they had none to dispose of. They gave us, however, two or three roots of taro, and a draught of excellent spring water. Bidding them farewell, we pursued our way over a beautiful country, gradually sloping towards the right, and meeting the ocean, at a distance of from ten to fifteen miles, rising more abruptly on the left, where it was crowned with the woods, which extended like a vast belt round the base of the greater part of Mouna Roa. Large slabs of indurated vesicular lava occasionally appeared amidst the shallow but fertile soil spread over the face of the country. Although apparently well adapted to the growth of the sweet potato and the mountain taro, it was entirely neglected, and every appearance of cultivation ceased, on our leaving the immediate vicinity of Kapapala. We saw no streams or pools of water; yet from the excellent quality of that furnished by the natives at Tapuahi, we should suppose it is to be found in the neighbourhood. In some parts of the islands where water is scarce, the natives have recourse to an ingenious method for procuring a more abundant supply. They fasten together the leaves of the pandanus page 226 which are concave on the upper side, from the top of the tree to the lower branches, and thus form a kind of spout, along which the rain that falls on the tree descends into their calabashes, or other vessels, placed underneath these vegetable aqueducts for its reception. By this means, during a shower, they often procure a tolerable supply.
After travelling between three and four miles, we reached Keapuana, a large cavern, frequently used as a lodging-place by travellers. The sun was nearly down, and the guides proposed to halt for the night in the cave, rather than proceed any further, and sleep in the open air. The proposal was agreed to, and when we had gathered a quantity of fern leaves and grass for our bed, and collected some fuel for the evening fire, we descended about fourteen feet to the mouth of the cavern, which was probably formed in the same manner as those we had explored in the vicinity of Kairua. The entrance, which was eight feet wide and five high, was formed by an arch of ancient lava, several feet in thickness. The interior of the cavern was about fifty feet square, and the arch, that covered it, ten feet high. There was an aperture at the northern end about three feet in diameter, occasioned by the falling in of the lava, which admitted a current of keen mountain air through the whole of the night. While we were clearing out the small stones between some of the blocks of lava that lay scattered around, a large fire was kindled near the entrance, which, throwing its glimmering light on the dark volcanic sides of the cavern, and illuminating one side of the huge masses of lava, exhibited to our view the strange features of our apartment, which resembled, in no small degree, scenes described in tales of page 227 romance. When we had cleared a sufficient space, we spread our beds of fern-leaves and grass on the rough floor of the cavern, and then mingled with the cheerful circle who were sitting round the fire. We sung a hymn in the native language, and afterwards committed ourselves and fellow-travellers to the kind keeping of Him, whose wakeful eye and watchful care no dark cavern can exclude.
While the natives were sitting round the fire, Mr. Thurston and I ascended to the upper region, and walked to a rising ground at a small distance from the mouth of the cavern, to try if we could discern the light of the volcano. The wind blew fresh from the mountains; the noise of the rolling surf, to which we had been accustomed on the shore, was not heard; and the stillness of the night was only disturbed by the chirping of the insects in the grass. The sky was clear, except in the eastern horizon, where a few light clouds arose, and slowly floated across the expanse of heaven. On looking towards the north-east, we saw a broad column of light rising to a considerable elevation in the air, and immediately above it some bright clouds, or thin vapours, beautifully tinged with red on the under side. We had no doubt that the column of light arose from the large crater, and that its fires illuminated the surrounding atmosphere. The fleecy clouds generally passed over the luminous column in a southeast direction. As they approached it, the side towards the place where we stood became generally bright; afterwards the under edge only reflected the volcanic fire; and in a little time each cloud passed entirely away, and was succeeded by another. We remained some time, to page 228 observe the beautiful phenomenon occasioned by the reflection of the volcanic fire, and the more magnificent spectacle presented by the multitude and brilliancy of the heavenly bodies. The sea son was solemn and delightful, for it was
“Now the hour
When contemplation, from her sunless haunts
Moves forward, and with radiant finger points
To yon blue concave, swell'd by breath divine,
Where one by one the living eyes of heaven
Awake, quick kindling o'er the face of æther
One boundless blaze; ten thousand trembling fires
And dancing lustres, where the unsteady eye,
Restless and dazzled, wanders unconfin'd
O'er all this field of glories—spacious field,
And worthy of the Maker!
……From what pure wells
Of milky light, what soft o'erflowing urn,
Are all these lamps so fill'd? These friendly lamps
For ever streaming o'er the azure deep,
To point our path, and light us to our home.
How soft they slide among their lucid spheres!
How deep the silence, yet how loud the praise!
But are they silent all? or is there not
A tongue in every star, that talks with man,
And woos him to be wise? nor woos in vain.
At this still hour, the self-collected soul
Turns inward, and beholds a stranger there
Of high descent, and more than mortal rank.
……A spark of fire divine,
Which must burn on for ages, when the sun
(Fair transitory creature of a day)
Has closed his golden eye, and, wrapt in shades,
Forgets his wonted journey through the east.”