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- The Hawaiian Archipelago - 60/63 -

coffee is now raised by patch culture, mainly among the guava scrub which fringes the forests. Oranges suffer from blight also, and some of the finest groves have been cut down. Cotton suffers from the ravages of a caterpillar. The mulberry tree, which, from its rapid growth, would be invaluable to silk growers, is covered with a black and white blight. Sheep are at present successful, but in some localities the spread of a pestilent "oat-burr" is depreciating the value of their wool. The forests, which are essential to the well-being of the islands, are disappearing in some quarters, owing to the attacks of a grub, as well as the ravages of cattle.

Cocoanuts, bananas, yams, sweet potatoes, kalo, and breadfruit, the staple food of the native population, are free from blight, and so are potatoes and rice. Beef cattle can be raised for almost nothing, and in some districts beef can be bought for the cent or two per pound which pays for the cutting up of the carcase. Every one can live abundantly, and without the "sweat of the brow," but few can make money, owing to the various forms of blight, the scarcity of labour, and the lack of a profitable market.

There is little healthy activity in any department of business. The whaling fleet has deserted the islands. A general pilikia prevails. Settlements are disappearing, valley lands are falling out of cultivation, Hilo grass and guava scrub are burying the traces of a former population. The natives are rapidly diminishing, {457} the old industries are abandoned, and the inherent immorality of the race, the great outstanding cause of its decay, still resists the influence of Christian teaching and example.

An exotic civilization is having a fair trial on the Hawaiian Islands. With the exception of the serious maladies introduced by foreigners in the early days, and the disastrous moral influence exercised by worthless whites, they have suffered none of the wrongs usually inflicted on the feebler by the stronger race. The rights of the natives were in the first instance carefully secured to them, and have since been protected by equal laws, righteously administered. The Hawaiians have been aided towards independence in political matters, and the foreigners, who framed the laws and constitution, and have directed Hawaiian affairs, such as Richards, Lee, Judd, Allen, and Wyllie, were men above reproach; and missionary influence, of all others the most friendly to the natives, has predominated for fifty years.

The effects of missionary labour have been scarcely touched upon in the foregoing letters, and here, in preference to giving any opinion of my own, I quote from Mr. R. H. Dana, an Episcopalian, and a barrister of the highest standing in America, well known in this country by his writings, who sums up his investigations on the Sandwich Islands in the following dispassionate words:

"It is no small thing to say of the missionaries of the American Board, that in less than forty years they have taught this whole people to read and to write, to cipher and to sew. They have given them an alphabet, grammar, and dictionary; preserved their language from extinction; given it a literature, and translated into it the Bible, and works of devotion, science, and entertainment, etc. They have established schools, reared up native teachers, and so pressed their work, that now the proportion of inhabitants who can read and write is greater than in New England. And whereas they found these islanders a nation of half-naked savages, living in the surf and on the sand, eating raw fish, fighting among themselves, tyrannized over by feudal chiefs, and abandoned to sensuality, they now see them decently clothed, recognizing the law of marriage, knowing something of accounts, going to school and public worship more regularly than the people do at home, and the more elevated of them taking part in conducting the affairs of the constitutional monarchy under which they live, holding seats on the judicial bench and in the legislative chambers, and filling posts in the local magistracies."

If space permitted, the testimony of "Mark Twain," given in "Roughing It," might be added to the above, and the remaining missionaries may well point to the visible results of their labours, with the one word Circumspice!


In the pre-historic days of Hawaii, for 500 years, as the bards sing, before Captain Cook landed, and indeed for some years afterwards, each island had its king, chiefs, and internal dissensions; and incessant wars, with a reckless waste of human life, kept the whole group in turmoil. Chaotic and legendary as early Hawaiian history is, there is enough to show that there must have been regularly organized communities on the islands for a very long period, with a civilization and polity which, though utterly unworthy of Christianity, were enlightened and advanced for Polynesian heathenism.

The kingly office was hereditary, and the king's power absolute. On the different islands the kings and chiefs who together constituted a privileged class, admitted the priesthood to some portion of their privileges, probably with the view of enslaving the people more completely through the agency of religion, and held the lower classes in absolute subserviency by the most rigorous of feudal systems, which included hana poalima, or forced labour, and the tabu, well known throughout Polynesia.

A very interesting history begins with Kamehameha the Great, the Conqueror, or the Terrible; the "Napoleon of the Pacific," as he has been called. He united an overmastering ambition to a singular gift of ruling, and without education, training, or the help of a single political precedent to guide him, animated not only by the lust of conquest, but by the desire to create a nationality, he subjugated every thing that his canoes could reach, and fused a rabble of savages and chieftaincies into a united nation, every individual of which to this day inherits something of the patriotism of the Conqueror.

His wars were by no means puny either in proportions or slaughter, as, for instance, when he meditated the conquest of Kauai, his expedition included seven thousand picked warriors, twenty-one schooners, forty swivels, six mortars, and an abundance of ammunition! His victories are celebrated in countless meles or unwritten songs, which are said to be marked by real poetic feeling and simplicity, and to resemble the Ossianic poems in majesty and melancholy. He founded the dynasty which for seventy years has stood as firmly, and exercised its functions for the welfare of the people on the whole as efficiently, as any other government.

The king was forty-five years old when, having "no more worlds to conquer," he devoted himself to the consolidation of his kingdom. He placed governors on each island, directly responsible to himself, who nominated chiefs of districts, heads of villages, and all petty officers; and tax-gatherers, who, for lack of the art of writing, kept their accounts by a method in use in the English exchequer in ancient times. He appointed a council of chiefs, with whom he advised on important matters, and a council of "wise men" who assisted him in framing laws, and in regulating concerns of minor importance. In all matters of national importance, the governors and high chiefs of the islands met with the sovereign in consultations. These were conducted with great privacy, and the results were promulgated through the islands by heralds whose office was hereditary.

Kamehameha enacted statutes against theft, murder, and oppression, and though he wielded oppressive and despotic authority himself, his people enjoyed a golden age as compared with those that were past. The king, governors, and chiefs constituted the magistracy, and there was an appeal from both chiefs and governors to the king. It was usual for both parties to be heard face to face in the enclosure in front of the house of the king or governor, no lawyers were employed, and every man advocated his own cause, sitting cross- legged before the judges. Swiftness and decision characterized the redress of grievances and the administration of justice. Kamehameha reduced the feudal tenure of land, which had heretofore been the theory, into absolute practice, claiming for the crown the sole ownership of the land, and dividing it among his followers on the conditions of tribute and military service. The common people were attached to the soil and transferred with it. A chief might nominate his wife, or son, or any other person to succeed him in his possessions, but at his death they reverted to the king, whose order was required before the testamentary wish became of any value. There were some wise regulations generally applicable, concerning the planting of cocoanut trees, and a law that the water should be conducted over every plantation twice a week in general, and once a week during the dry season. This king constructed immense fish- ponds on the sea coast, and devoted himself to commerce with such success that in one year he exported $400,000 of sandalwood (felled and shipped at the cost of much suffering to the common people), and on finding that a large proportion of the profit had been dissipated by harbour dues at Canton, he took up the idea and established harbour dues at Honolulu.

From Vancouver Kamehameha learned of the grandeur and power of Christian nations; and in the idea that his people might grow great through Christianity, he asked him, in 1794, that Christian teachers might be sent from England. This request, if ever presented, was disregarded, as was another made by Captain Turnbull in 1803, and this exceptionally great Polynesian died the year before the light of the Gospel shone on Hawaiian shores.

Some persons, it does not appear whether they were English or American, attempted his conversion; but the astute savage, after listening to their eloquent statements of the power of faith, pressed on them as a crucial test to throw themselves from the top of an adjacent precipice, making his reception of their religion contingent on their arrival unhurt at its base. He built large heiaus, amongst others the one at Kawaihae, at the dedication of which to his favourite war god eleven human sacrifices were offered. To the end he remained devoted to the state religion, and the last instances of capital punishment for breaking tabu, a thraldom deeply interwoven with the religious system, occurred in the last year of his reign, when one man was put to death for putting on a chief's girdle, another for eating of a tabooed dish, and a third for leaving a house under tabu, and entering one which was not so.

His last prayers were to his great red-feathered god Kukailimoku, and priests bringing idols crowded round him in his dying agony. His last words were "Move on in my good way and"-- In the death- room the high chiefs consulted, and one, to testify his great grief, proposed to eat the body raw, but was overruled by the majority. So the flesh was separated from the bones, and they were tied up in tapa, and concealed so effectually that they have never since been found. A holocaust of three hundred dogs gave splendour to his obsequies. "These are our gods whom I worship," he had said to Kotzebue, while showing him one of the temples. "Whether I do right or wrong I do not know, but I follow my faith, which cannot be wicked, as it commands me never to do wrong."

The Hawaiian Archipelago - 60/63

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