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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




I STILL quote from my journal:

I found the national Legislature to consist of half a dozen
white men and some thirty or forty natives. It was a dark
assemblage. The nobles and Ministers (about a dozen of them
altogether) occupied the extreme left of the hall, with David
Kalakaua (the King's Chamberlain) and Prince William at the
head. The President of the Assembly, His Royal Highness
M. Kekuanaoa,[1] and the Vice President (the latter a white man,)
sat in the pulpit, if I may so term it.

The President is the King's father. He is an erect, strongly
built, massive featured, white-haired, tawny old gentleman of
eighty years of age or thereabouts. He was simply but well
dressed, in a blue cloth coat and white vest, and white pantaloons,
without spot, dust or blemish upon them. He bears
himself with a calm, stately dignity, and is a man of noble
presence. He was a young man and a distinguished warrior
under that terrific fighter, Kamehameha I., more than half a
century ago. A knowledge of his career suggested some such
thought as this: “This man, naked as the day he was born,
and war-club and spear in hand, has charged at the head of a
horde of savages against other hordes of savages more than a
generation and a half ago, and reveled in slaughter and carnage;
has worshipped wooden images on his devout knees; has seen
hundreds of his race offered up in heathen temples as sacrifices


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to wooden idols, at a time when no missionary's foot had ever
pressed this soil, and he had never heard of the white man's
God; has believed his enemy could secretly pray him to death;
has seen the day, in his childhood, when it was a crime punishable
by death for a man to eat with his wife, or for a plebeian
to let his shadow fall upon the King—and now look at him; an
educated Christian; neatly and handsomely dressed; a high-minded,
elegant gentleman; a traveler, in some degree, and one
who has been the honored guest of royalty in Europe; a man
practiced in holding the reins of an enlightened government,
and well versed in the politics of his country and in general,
practical information. Look at him, sitting there presiding
over the deliberations of a legislative body, among whom are
white men—a grave, dignified, statesmanlike personage, and as
seemingly natural and fitted to the place as if he had been
born in it and had never been out of it in his life time. How
the experiences of this old man's eventful life shame the cheap
inventions of romance!”

Kekuanaoa is not of the blood royal. He derives his princely
rank from his wife, who was a daughter of Kamehameha the
Great. Under other monarchies the male line takes precedence
of the female in tracing genealogies, but here the opposite is
the case—the female line takes precedence. Their reason for
this is exceedingly sensible, and I recommend it to the aristocracy
of Europe: They say it is easy to know who a man's mother
was, but, etc., etc.

The christianizing of the natives has hardly even weakened
some of their barbarian superstitions, much less destroyed them.
I have just referred to one of these. It is still a popular belief
that if your enemy can get hold of any article belonging to
you he can get down on his knees over it and pray you to death.
Therefore many a native gives up and dies merely because he
imagines that some enemy is putting him through a course of
damaging prayer. This praying an individual to death seems
absurd enough at a first glance, but then when we call to mind


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some of the pulpit efforts of certain of our own ministers the
thing looks plausible.

In former times, among the Islanders, not only a plurality
of wives was customary, but a plurality of husbands likewise.
Some native women of noble rank had as many as six husbands.
A woman thus supplied did not reside with all her husbands at
once, but lived several months with each in turn. An understood
sign hung at her door
during these months. When
the sign was taken down,
it meant “Next.

In those days woman was
rigidly taught to “know
her place.” Her place was
to do all the work, take all
the cuffs, provide all the
food, and content herself
with what was left after her
lord had finished his dinner.
She was not only forbidden,
by ancient law, and
under penalty of death, to eat with her husband or enter a canoe,
but was debarred, under the same penalty, from eating
bananas, pine-apples, oranges and other choice fruits at any
time or in any place. She had to confine herself pretty strictly
to “poi” and hard work. These poor ignorant heathen seem
to have had a sort of groping idea of what came of woman eating
fruit in the garden of Eden, and they did not choose to
take any more chances. But the missionaries broke up this
satisfactory arrangement of things. They liberated woman and
made her the equal of man.

The natives had a romantic fashion of burying some of their
children alive when the family became larger than necessary.
The missionaries interfered in this matter too, and stopped it.

To this day the natives are able to lie down and die whenever
they want to,
whether there is anything the matter with


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them or not. If a Kanaka takes a notion to die, that is the
end of him; nobody can persuade him to hold on; all the doctors
in the world could not save him.

A luxury which they enjoy more than anything else, is a
large funeral. If a person wants to get rid of a troublesome
native, it is only necessary to promise him a fine funeral and
name the hour and he will be on hand to the minute—at least
his remains will.

All the natives are Christians, now, but many of them still
desert to the Great Shark God for temporary succor in time
of trouble. An irruption of the great volcano of Kilauea, or
an earthquake, always brings a deal of latent loyalty to the
Great Shark God to the surface. It is common report that the
King, educated, cultivated and refined Christian gentleman as
he undoubtedly is, still turns to the idols of his fathers for help
when disaster threatens. A planter caught a shark, and one
of his christianized natives testified his emancipation from the
thrall of ancient superstition by assisting to dissect the shark
after a fashion forbidden by his abandoned creed. But remorse
shortly began to torture him. He grew moody and sought
solitude; brooded over his sin, refused food, and finally said he
must die and ought to die, for he had sinned against the Great
Shark God and could never know peace any more. He was
proof against persuasion and ridicule, and in the course of a
day or two took to his bed and died, although he showed no
symptom of disease. His young daughter followed his lead
and suffered a like fate within the week. Superstition is ingrained
in the native blood and bone and it is only natural
that it should crop out in time of distress. Wherever one goes
in the Islands, he will find small piles of stones by the wayside,
covered with leafy offerings, placed there by the natives to appease
evil spirits or honor local deities belonging to the mythology
of former days.

In the rural districts of any of the Islands, the traveler hourly
comes upon parties of dusky maidens bathing in the streams
or in the sea without any clothing on and exhibiting no very


Page 484


[Description: 504EAF. Page 484. In-line image of three native women going to talk to a prim looking woman with a bun in her hair.]
intemperate zeal in the matter of hiding their nakedness. When
the missionaries first took up their residence in Honolulu, the
native women would pay their families frequent friendly visits,
day by day, not even clothed with a blush. It was found a
hard matter to convince them that this was rather indelicate.
Finally the missionaries provided them with long, loose calico
robes, and that ended the difficulty—for the women would
troop through the town, stark naked, with their robes folded
under their arms, march to the missionary houses and then
proceed to dress!—The natives soon manifested a strong proclivity
for clothing, but it was shortly apparent that they only
wanted it for grandeur. The missionaries imported a quantity
of hats, bonnets, and other male and female wearing apparel,
instituted a general distribution, and begged the people not to
come to church naked, next Sunday, as usual. And they did
not; but the national spirit of unselfishness led them to divide
up with neighbors who were not at the distribution, and next
Sabbath the poor preachers could hardly keep countenance before
their vast congregations. In the midst of the reading of


Page 485


[Description: 504EAF. Page 485. In-line image of a group of native peoples wearing western wear over top of their loin clothes.]
a hymn a brown, stately dame would sweep up the aisle with
a world of airs, with nothing in the world on but a “stovepipe”
hat and a pair of cheap gloves; another dame would follow,
tricked out in a man's shirt, and nothing else; another one
would enter with a flourish, with simply the sleeves of a bright
calico dress tied around her waist and the rest of the garment
dragging behind like a peacock's tail off duty; a stately “buck”
Kanaka would stalk in with a woman's bonnet on, wrong side
before—only this, and nothing more; after him would stride
his fellow, with the legs of a pair of pantaloons tied around his
neck, the rest of his person untrammeled; in his rear would
come another gentleman simply gotten up in a fiery neck-tie
and a striped vest. The poor creatures were beaming with
complacency and wholly unconscious of any absurdity in their
appearance. They gazed at each other with happy admiration,
and it was plain to see that the young girls were taking note
of what each other had on, as naturally as if they had always
lived in a land of Bibles and knew what churches were made


Page 486
for; here was the evidence of a dawning civilization. The
spectacle which the congregation presented was so extraordinary
and withal so moving, that the missionaries found it difficult
to keep to the text and go on with the services; and by
and by when the simple children of the sun began a general
swapping of garments in open meeting and produced some
irresistibly grotesque effects in the course of re-dressing, there
was nothing for it but to cut the thing short with the benediction
and dismiss the fantastic assemblage.

In our country, children play “keep house;” and in the same
high-sounding but miniature way the grown folk here, with
the poor little material of slender territory and meagre population,
play “empire.” There is his royal Majesty the King,
with a New York detective's income of thirty or thirty-five
thousand dollars a year from the “royal civil list” and the
“royal domain.” He lives in a two-story frame “palace.”

And there is the “royal family”—the customary hive of
royal brothers, sisters, cousins
and other noble drones
and vagrants usual to monarchy,—all
with a spoon in
the national pap-dish, and
all bearing such titles as his
or her Royal Highness the
Prince or Princess So-and-so.
Few of them can carry their
royal splendors far enough
to ride in carriages, however;
they sport the economical
Kanaka horse or “hoof it”[2]
with the plebeians.

Then there is his Excellency the “royal Chamberlain”—a
sinecure, for his majesty dresses himself with his own hands,
except when he is ruralizing at Waikiki and then he requires
no dressing.

Next we have his Excellency the Commander-in-chief of the


Page 487
Household Troops, whose forces consist of about the number
of soldiers usually placed under a corporal in other lands.

Next comes the royal Steward and the Grand Equerry in
Waiting—high dignitaries with modest salaries and little to do.

Then we have his Excellency the First Gentleman of the
Bed-chamber—an office as easy as it is magnificent.

Next we come to his Excellency the Prime Minister, a renegade
American from New Hampshire, all jaw, vanity, bombast
and ignorance, a lawyer of “shyster” calibre, a fraud by
nature, a humble worshiper of the sceptre above him, a reptile
never tired of sneering at the land of his birth or glorifying
the ten-acre kingdom that has adopted him—salary, $4,000 a
year, vast consequence, and no perquisites.

Then we have his Excellency the Imperial Minister of Finance,
who handles a million dollars of public money a year,
sends in his annual “budget” with great ceremony, talks prodigiously
of “finance,” suggests imposing schemes for paying
off the “national debt” (of $150,000,) and does it all for $4,000
a year and unimaginable glory.

Next we have his Excellency the Minister of War, who
holds sway over the royal armies—they consist of two hundred
and thirty uniformed Kanakas, mostly Brigadier Generals, and
if the country ever gets into trouble with a foreign power we
shall probably hear from them. I knew an American whose
copper-plate visiting card bore this impressive legend: “Lieutenant-Colonel
in the Royal Infantry. To say that he was
proud of this distinction is stating it but tamely. The Minister
of War has also in his charge some venerable swivels on Punch-Bowl
Hill wherewith royal salutes are fired when foreign vessels
of war enter the port.

Next comes his Excellency the Minister of the Navy—a
nabob who rules the “royal fleet,” (a steam-tug and a sixty-ton

And next comes his Grace the Lord Bishop of Honolulu,
the chief dignitary of the “Established Church”—for when
the American Presbyterian missionaries had completed the


Page 488


[Description: 504EAF. Page 488. In-line image a group of heavy military people surrounded by bowing men and women.]
reduction of the nation to a compact condition of Christianity,
native royalty stepped in and erected the grand dignity of an
“Established (Episcopal) Church” over it, and imported a
cheap ready-made Bishop from England to take charge. The
chagrin of the missionaries has never been comprehensively
expressed, to this day, profanity not being admissible.

Next comes his Excellency the Minister of Public Instruction.

Next, their Excellencies the Governors of Oahu, Hawaii,
etc., and after them a string of High Sheriffs and other small
fry too numerous for computation.

Then there are their Excellencies the Envoy Extraordinary
and Minister Plenipotentiary of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor
of the French; her British Majesty's Minister; the Minister
Resident, of the United States; and some six or eight
representatives of other foreign nations, all with sounding titles,
imposing dignity and prodigious but economical state.


Page 489

Imagine all this grandeur in a play-house “kingdom” whose
population falls absolutely short of sixty thousand souls!

The people are so accustomed to nine-jointed titles and colossal
magnates that a foreign prince makes very little more stir
in Honolulu than a Western Congressman does in New York.

And let it be borne in mind that there is a strictly defined
“court costume” of so “stunning” a nature that it would
make the clown in a circus look tame and commonplace by
comparison; and each Hawaiian official dignitary has a gorgeous
vari-colored, gold-laced uniform peculiar to his office—no two
of them are alike, and it is hard to tell which one is the “loudest.”
The King had a “drawing-room” at stated intervals,
like other monarchs, and when these varied uniforms congregate
there weak-eyed people have to contemplate the spectacle
through smoked glass. Is there not a gratifying contrast between
this latter-day exhibition and the one the ancestors of
some of these magnates afforded the missionaries the Sunday
after the old-time distribution of clothing? Behold what religion
and civilization have wrought!


Since dead.


Missionary phrase.