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- The Hawaiian Archipelago - 51/63 -

steady fires are situated which are visible from this house at night. We came first upon a solitary "blowing cone," beyond which there was a group of three or four, but it is not from these that the smoke proceeds, but from the extensive area beyond them, covered with smoke and steam cracks, and smoking banks, which are probably formed of sulphur deposits. I only visited the solitary cone, for the footing was so precarious, the sight so fearful, and the ebullitions of gases so dangerous, that I did not dare to go near the others, and never wish to look upon their like again.

The one I saw was of beehive shape, about twelve feet high, hollow inside, and its walls were about two feet thick. A part of its imperfect top was blown off, and a piece of its side blown out, and the side rent gave one a frightful view of its interior, with the risk of having lava spat at one at intervals. The name "Blowing Cone" is an apt one, if the theory of their construction be correct. It is supposed that when the surface of the lava cools rapidly owing to enfeebled action below, the gases force their way upwards through small vents, which then serve as "blow holes" for the imprisoned fluid beneath. This, rapidly cooling as it is ejected, forms a ring on the surface of the crust, which, growing upwards by accretion, forms a chimney, eventually nearly or quite closed at the top, so as to form a cone. In this case the cone is about eighty feet above the present level of the lake, and fully one hundred yards distant from its present verge.

The whole of the inside was red and molten, full of knobs, and great fiery stalactites. Jets of lava at a white heat were thrown up constantly, and frequently the rent in the side spat out lava in clots, which cooled rapidly, and looked like drops of bottle green glass. The glimpses I got of the interior were necessarily brief and intermittent. The blast or roar which came up from below was more than deafening; it was stunning: and accompanied with heavy subterranean rumblings and detonations. The chimney, so far as I could see, opened out gradually downwards to a great width, and appeared to be about forty feet deep; and at its base there was an abyss of lashing, tumbling, restless fire, emitting an ominous surging sound, and breaking upwards with a fury which threatened to blow the cone and the crust on which it stands, into the air.

The heat was intense, and the stinging sulphurous gases which were given forth in large quantities, most poisonous. The group of cones west of this one, was visited by Mr. Green; but he found it impossible to make any further explorations. He has seen nearly all the recent volcanic phenomena, but says that these cones present the most "infernal" appearance he has ever witnessed. We returned for a last look at Halemaumau, but the smoke was so dense, and the sulphur fumes so stifling, that, as in a fearful dream, we only heard the thunder of its hidden surges. I write thunder, and one speaks of the lashing of its waves; but these are words pertaining to the familiar earth, and have no place in connection with Kilauea. The breaking lava has a voice all its own, full of compressed fury. Its sound, motion, and aspect are all infernal. Hellish, is the only fitting term.

We are dwelling on a cooled crust all over Southern Hawaii, the whole region is recent lava, and between this and the sea there are several distinct lines of craters thirty miles long, all of which at some time or other have vomited forth the innumerable lava streams which streak the whole country in the districts of Kau, Puna, and Hilo. In fact, Hawaii is a great slag. There is something very solemn in the position of this crater-house: with smoke and steam coming out of every pore of the ground, and in front the huge crater, which to-night lights all the sky. My second visit has produced a far deeper impression even than the first, and one of awe and terror solely.

Kilauea is altogether different from the European volcanoes which send lava and stones into the air in fierce sudden spasms, and then subside into harmlessness. Ever changing, never resting, the force which stirs it never weakening, raging for ever with tossing and strength like the ocean: its labours unfinished and possibly never to be finished, its very unexpectedness adds to its sublimity and terror, for until you reach the terminal wall of the crater, it looks by daylight but a smoking pit in the midst of a dreary stretch of waste land.

Last night I thought the Southern Cross out of place; to-night it seems essential, as Calvary over against Sinai. For Halemaumau involuntarily typifies the wrath which shall consume all evil: and the constellation, pale against its lurid light, the great love and yearning of the Father, "who spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all," that, "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."


We had a great fright last evening. We had been engaging mules, and talking over our plans with our half-Indian host, when he opened the door and exclaimed, "There's no light on Mauna Loa; the fire's gone out." We rushed out, and though the night was clear and frosty, the mountain curve rose against the sky without the accustomed wavering glow upon it. "I'm afraid you'll have your trouble for nothing," Mr. Gilman unsympathisingly remarked; "anyhow, its awfully cold up there," and rubbing his hands, reseated himself at the fire. Mr. G. and I stayed out till we were half-frozen, and I persuaded myself and him that there was a redder tinge than the moonlight above the summit, but the mountain has given no sign all day, so that I fear that I "evolved" the light out of my "inner consciousness."

Mr. Gilman was eloquent on the misfortunes of our predecessors, lent me a pair of woollen socks to put on over my gloves, told me privately that if anyone could succeed in getting a guide it would be Mr. Green, and dispatched us at eight this morning with a lurking smile at our "fool's errand," thinly veiled by warm wishes for our success. Mr. Reid has two ranches on the mountain, seven miles distant from each other, and was expected every hour at the crater- house on his way to Hilo, but it was not known from which he was coming, and as it appeared that our last hope of getting a guide lay in securing his good will, Mr. G., his servant, and packmule took the lower trail, and I, with a native, a string of mules, and a pack-horse, the upper. Our plans for intercepting the good man were well laid and successful, but turned out resultless.

This has been an irresistibly comical day, and it is just as well to have something amusing interjected between the sublimities of Kilauea, and whatever to-morrow may bring forth. When our cavalcades separated, I followed the guide on a blind trail into the little-known regions on the skirts of Mauna Loa. We only travelled two miles an hour, and the mules kept getting up rows, kicking, and entangling their legs in the lariats, and one peculiarly malign animal dealt poor Kahele a gratuitous kick on his nose, making it bleed.

It is strange, unique country, without any beauty. The seaward view is over a great stretch of apparent table-land, spotted with craters, and split by cracks emitting smoke or steam. The whole region is black with streams of spiked and jagged lava, meandering over it, with charred stumps of trees rising out of them.

The trail, if such it could be called, wound among koa and sandalwood trees occasionally, but habitually we picked our way over waves, coils, and hummocks of pahoehoe surrounded by volcanic sand, and with only a few tufts of grass, abortive ohelos, and vigorous sow thistles (much relished by Kahele) growing in their crevices. Horrid cracks, 50 or 60 feet wide, probably made by earthquakes, abounded, and a black chasm of most infernal aspect dogged us on the left. It was all scrambling up and down. Sometimes there was long, ugly grass, a brownish green, coarse and tufty, for a mile or more. Sometimes clumps of wintry-looking, dead trees, sometimes clumps of attenuated living ones; but nothing to please the eye. We saw neither man nor beast the whole way, except a wild bull, which, tearing down the mountain side, crossed the trail just in front of us, causing a stampede among the mules, and it was fully an hour before they were all caught again.

The only other incident was an earthquake, the most severe, the men here tell me, that has been experienced for two years. One is prepared for any caprices on the part of the earth here, yet when there was a fearful internal throbbing and rumbling, and the trees and grass swayed rapidly, and great rocks and masses of soil were dislodged, and bounded down the hillside, and the earth reeled, and my poor horse staggered and stopped short; far from rising to the magnitude of the occasion, I thought I was attacked with vertigo, and grasped the horn of my saddle to save myself from falling. After a moment of profound stillness, there was again a subterranean sound like a train in a tunnel, and the earth reeled again with such violence that I felt as if the horse and myself had gone over. Poor K. was nervous for some time afterwards. The motion was as violent as that of a large ship in a mid-Atlantic storm. There were four minor shocks within half an hour afterwards.

After crawling along for seven hours, and for the last two in a dripping fog, so dense that I had to keep within kicking range of the mules for fear of being lost, we heard the lowing of domestic cattle, and came to a place where felled trees, very difficult for the horses to cross, were lying. Then a rude boundary wall appeared, inside of which was a small, poor-looking grass house, consisting of one partially-divided room, with a small, ruinous- looking cook-house, a shed, and an unfinished frame house. It looked, and is, a disconsolate conclusion of a wet day's ride. I rode into the corral, and found two or three very rough-looking whites and half-whites standing, and addressing one of them, I found he was Mr. Reid's manager there. I asked if they could give me a night's lodging, which seemed a diverting notion to them; and they said they could give me the rough accommodation they had, but it was hard even for them, till the new house was put up. They brought me into this very rough shelter, a draughty grass room, with a bench, table, and one chair in it. Two men came in, but not the native wife and family, and sat down to a calabash of poi and some strips of dried beef, food so coarse, that they apologised for not offering it to me. They said they had sent to the lower ranch for some flour, and in the meantime they gave me some milk in a broken bowl, their "nearest approach to a tumbler," they said. I was almost starving, for all our food was on the pack-mule. This is the place where we had been told that we could obtain tea, flour, beef, and fowls!

By some fatality my pen, ink, and knitting were on the pack-mule; it was very cold, the afternoon fog closed us in, and darkness came on prematurely, so that I felt a most absurd sense of ennui, and went over to the cook-house, where I found Gandle cooking, and his native wife with a heap of children and dogs lying round the stove. I joined them till my clothes were dry, on which the man, who in spite of his rough exterior, was really friendly and hospitable, remarked that he saw I was "one of the sort who knew how to take people as I found them."

This regular afternoon mist which sets in at a certain altitude,

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