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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




IN my diary of our third day in Honolulu, I find this:

I am probably the most sensitive man in Hawaii to-night—
especially about sitting down in the presence of my betters.
I have ridden fifteen or twenty miles on horse-back since 5 P.M.
and to tell the honest truth, I have a delicacy about sitting
down at all.

An excursion to Diamond Head and the King's Coacoanut
Grove was planned to-day—time, 4:30 P.M.—the party to consist
of half a dozen gentlemen and three ladies. They all
started at the appointed hour except myself. I was at the
Government prison, (with Captain Fish and another whaleshipskipper,
Captain Phillips,) and got so interested in its examination
that I did not notice how quickly the time was passing.
Somebody remarked that it was twenty minutes past five
o'clock, and that woke me up. It was a fortunate circumstance
that Captain Phillips was along with his “turn out,” as he calls
a top-buggy that Captain Cook brought here in 1778, and a
horse that was here when Captain Cook came. Captain Phillips
takes a just pride in his driving and in the speed of his
horse, and to his passion for displaying them I owe it that we
were only sixteen minutes coming from the prison to the
American Hotel—a distance which has been estimated to be
over half a mile. But it took some fearful driving. The Captain's
whip came down fast, and the blows started so much dust
out of the horse's hide that during the last half of the journey
we rode through an impenetrable fog, and ran by a pocket
compass in the hands of Captain Fish, a whaler of twenty-six
years experience, who sat there through the perilous voyage as
self-possessed as if he had been on the euchre-deck of his own


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ship, and calmly said, “Port your helm—port,” from time to
time, and “Hold her a little free—steady—so-o,” and “Luff—
hard down to starboard!” and never once lost his presence
of mind or betrayed the least anxiety by voice or manner.
When we came to anchor at last, and Captain Phillips looked
at his watch and said, “Sixteen minutes—I told you it was in
her! that's over three miles an hour!” I could see he felt
entitled to a compliment, and so I said I had never seen lightning
go like that horse. And I never had.

The landlord of the American said the party had been gone
nearly an hour, but that he could give me my choice of several
horses that could overtake them. I said, never mind—I preferred
a safe horse to a fast one—I would like to have an
excessively gentle horse—a horse with no spirit whatever—a
lame one, if he had such a thing. Inside of five minutes I
was mounted, and perfectly satisfied with my outfit. I had no
time to label him “This is a horse,” and so if the public took
him for a sheep I cannot help it. I was satisfied, and that was
the main thing. I could see that he had as many fine points
as any man's horse, and so I hung my hat on one of
them, behind the saddle, and swabbed the perspiration from
my face and started. I named him after this island, “Oahu”
(pronounced O-waw-hee). The first gate he came to he started
in; I had neither whip nor spur, and so I simply argued
the case with him. He resisted argument, but ultimately
yielded to insult and abuse. He backed out of that gate and
steered for another one on the other side of the street. I
triumphed by my former process. Within the next six hundred
yards he crossed the street fourteen times and attempted
thirteen gates, and in the meantime the tropical sun was beating
down and threatening to cave the top of my head in, and
I was literally dripping with perspiration. He abandoned the
gate business after that and went along peaceably enough, but
absorbed in meditation. I noticed this latter circumstance,
and it soon began to fill me with apprehension. I said to myself,
this creature is planning some new outrage, some fresh
deviltry or other—no horse ever thought over a subject so profoundly
as this one is doing just for nothing. The more this


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thing preyed upon my mind the more uneasy I became, until
the suspense became almost unbearable and I dismounted to
see if there was anything wild in his eye—for I had heard
that the eye of this noblest of our domestic animals is very
expressive. I cannot describe what a load of anxiety was
lifted from my mind when I found that he was only asleep.
I woke him up and started him into a faster walk, and then
the villainy of his nature came out again. He tried to climb
over a stone wall, five or six feet high. I saw that I must
apply force to this horse, and that I might as well begin first
as last. I plucked a stout switch from a tamarind tree, and the
moment he saw it, he surrendered. He broke into a convulsive
sort of a canter, which had three short steps in it and one
long one, and reminded me alternately of the clattering shake
of the great earthquake, and the sweeping plunging of the Ajax
in a storm.

And now there can be no fitter occasion than the present to
pronounce a left-handed blessing upon the man who invented
the American saddle. There is no seat to speak of about it—


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one might as well sit in a shovel—and the stirrups are nothing
but an ornamental nuisance. If I were to write down here all
the abuse I expended on those stirrups, it would make a large
book, even without pictures. Sometimes I got one foot so far
through, that the stirrup partook of the nature of an anklet;
sometimes both feet were through, and I was handcuffed by
the legs; and sometimes my feet got clear out and left the stirrups
wildly dangling about my shins. Even when I was in
proper position and carefully balanced upon the balls of my
feet, there was no comfort in it, on account of my nervous
dread that they were going to slip one way or the other in a
moment. But the subject is too exasperating to write about.

A mile and a half from town, I came to a grove of tall cocoanut
trees, with clean, branchless stems reaching straight up
sixty or seventy feet and topped with a spray of green foliage
clusters of cocoa-nuts—

not more picturesque

than a forest
of collossal
ragged parasols,
bunches of
grapes under
them, would
be. I once heard a grouty northern invalid say that a cocoanut
tree might be poetical, possibly it was; but it looked like
a feather-duster struck by lightning. I think that describes
it better than a picture—and yet, without any question, there
is something fascinating about a cocoa-nut tree—and graceful,

About a dozen cottages, some frame and the others of native
grass, nestled sleepily in the shade here and there. The grass
cabins are of a grayish color, are shaped much like our own
cottages, only with higher and steeper roofs usually, and are


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made of some kind of weed strongly bound together in bundles.
The roofs are very thick, and so are the walls; the latter
have square holes in them for windows. At a little distance
these cabins have a furry appearance, as if they might be made
of bear skins. They are very cool and pleasant inside. The
King's flag was flying from the roof of one of the cottages,
and His Majesty was probably within. He owns the whole
concern thereabouts, and passes his time there frequently, on
sultry days “laying off.” The spot is called “The King's

Near by is an interesting ruin—the meagre remains of an
ancient heathen temple—a place where human sacrifices were
offered up in those old bygone days when the simple child of
nature, yielding momentarily to sin when sorely tempted,
acknowledged his error when calm reflection had shown it him,
and came forward with noble frankness and offered up his
grandmother as an atoning sacrifice—in those old days when
the luckless sinner could keep on cleansing his conscience and
achieving periodical happiness as long as his relations held out;
long, long before the missionaries braved a thousand privations
to come and make them permanently miserable by telling them
how beautiful and how blissful a place heaven is, and how
nearly impossible it is to get there; and showed the poor native
how dreary a place perdition is and what unnecessarily liberal
facilities there are for going to it; showed him how, in his
ignorance he had gone and fooled away all his kinfolks to no
purpose; showed him what rapture it is to work all day long
for fifty cents to buy food for next day with, as compared with
fishing for pastime and lolling in the shade through eternal
Summer, and eating of the bounty that nobody labored to provide
but Nature. How sad it is to think of the multitudes
who have gone to their graves in this beautiful island and never
knew there was a hell!

This ancient temple was built of rough blocks of lava, and
was simply a roofless inclosure a hundred and thirty feet long
and seventy wide—nothing but naked walls, very thick, but
not much higher than a man's head. They will last for ages
no doubt, if left unmolested. Its three altars and other sacred


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appurtenances have crumbled and passed away years ago. It
is said that in the old times thousands of human beings were
slaughtered here, in the presence of naked and howling savages.
If these mute stones could speak, what tales they could tell,
what pictures they could describe, of fettered victims writhing
under the knife; of massed forms straining forward out of the
gloom, with ferocious faces lit up by the sacrificial fires; of the
background of ghostly trees; of the dark pyramid of Diamond
Head standing sentinel over the uncanny scene, and the peaceful
moon looking down upon it through rifts in the cloud-rack!

When Kamehameha (pronounced Ka-may-ha-may-ah) the
Great—who was a sort of a Napoleon in military genius and
uniform success—invaded this island of Oahu three quarters
of a century ago, and exterminated the army sent to oppose
him, and took full and final possession of the country, he searched
out the dead body of the King of Oahu, and those of the
principal chiefs, and impaled their heads on the walls of this

Those were savage times when this old slaughter-house was
in its prime. The King and the chiefs ruled the common herd
with a rod of iron; made them gather all the provisions the
masters needed; build all the houses and temples; stand all
the expenses, of whatever kind; take kicks and cuffs for thanks;
drag out lives well flavored with misery, and then suffer death
for trifling offences or yield up their lives on the sacrificial altars
to purchase favors from the gods for their hard rulers. The
missionaries have clothed them, educated them, broken up the
tyrannous authority of their chiefs, and given them freedom
and the right to enjoy whatever their hands and brains produce
with equal laws for all, and punishment for all alike who transgress
them. The contrast is so strong—the benefit conferred
upon this people by the missionaries is so prominent, so palpable
and so unquestionable, that the frankest compliment I can
pay them, and the best, is simply to point to the condition of
the Sandwich Islanders of Captain Cook's time, and their condition
to-day. Their work speaks for itself.