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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




IN the breezy morning we went ashore and visited the ruined
temple of the last god Lono. The high chief cook of this
temple—the priest who presided over it and roasted the human
sacrifices—was uncle to Obookia, and at one time that youth
was an apprentice-priest under him. Obookia was a young
native of fine mind, who, together with three other native boys,
was taken to New England by the captain of a whaleship during
the reign of Kamehameha I, and they were the means of
attracting the attention of the religious world to their country.
This resulted in the sending of missionaries there. And this
Obookia was the very same sensitive savage who sat down on
the church steps and wept because his people did not have the
Bible. That incident has been very elaborately painted in
many a charming Sunday School book—aye, and told so plaintively
and so tenderly that I have cried over it in Sunday
School myself, on general principles, although at a time when
I did not know much and could not understand why the people
of the Sandwich Islands needed to worry so much about it
as long as they did not know there was a Bible at all.

Obookia was converted and educated, and was to have returned
to his native land with the first missionaries, had he
lived. The other native youths made the voyage, and two of
them did good service, but the third, William Kanui, fell from
grace afterward, for a time, and when the gold excitement
broke out in California he journeyed thither and went to mining,


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although he was fifty years old. He succeeded pretty
well, but the failure of Page, Bacon & Co. relieved him of six
thousand dollars, and then, to all intents and purposes, he was
a bankrupt in his old age and he resumed service in the pulpit
again. He died in Honolulu in 1864.

Quite a broad tract of land near the temple, extending from
the sea to the mountain top, was sacred to the god Lono in
olden times—so sacred that if a common native set his sacrilegious
foot upon it it was judicious for him to make his will,
because his time had come. He might go around it by water,
but he could not cross it. It was well sprinkled with pagan
temples and stocked with awkward, homely idols carved out
of logs of wood. There was a temple devoted to prayers for
rain—and with fine sagacity it was placed at a point so well
up on the mountain side that if you prayed there twenty-four
times a day for rain you would be likely to get it every time.
You would seldom get to your Amen before you would have
to hoist your umbrella.

And there was a large temple near at hand which was built
in a single night, in the midst of storm and thunder and rain,
by the ghastly hands of dead men! Tradition says that by the


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 519. In-line image of a man smoking a pipe, and is surrounded by natives swimming towards him.]
wierd glare of the lightning a noiseless multitude of phantoms
were seen at their strange labor far up the mountain side at
dead of night—flitting hither and thither and bearing great
lava-blocks clasped in their nerveless fingers—appearing and
disappearing as the pallid lustre fell upon their forms and faded
away again. Even to this day, it is said, the natives hold this
dread structure in awe and reverence, and will not pass by it
in the night.

At noon I observed a bevy of nude native young ladies bathing
in the sea, and went and sat down on their clothes to keep
them from being stolen. I begged them to come out, for the
sea was rising and I was satisfied that they were running some
risk. But they were not afraid, and presently went on with
their sport. They were finished swimmers and divers, and enjoyed
themselves to the last degree. They swam races, splashed
and ducked and tumbled each other about, and filled the air
with their laughter. It is said that the first thing an Islander
learns is how to swim; learning to walk being a matter of
smaller consequence, comes afterward. One hears tales of native
men and women swimming ashore from vessels many
miles at sea—more miles, indeed, than I dare vouch for or even
mention. And they tell of a native diver who went down in
thirty or forty-foot waters and brought up an anvil! I think


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he swallowed the anvil afterward, if my memory serves me.
However I will not urge this point.

I have spoken, several times, of the god Lono—I may as
well furnish two or three sentences concerning him.

The idol the natives worshiped for him was a slender, unornamented
staff twelve feet long. Tradition says he was a favorite
god on the Island of Hawaii—a great king who had
been deified for meritorious services—just our own fashion of
rewarding heroes, with the difference that we would have made
him a Postmaster instead of a god, no doubt. In an angry
moment he slew his wife, a goddess named Kaikilani Aiii.
Remorse of conscience drove him mad, and tradition presents
us the singular spectacle of a god traveling “on the shoulder;”
for in his gnawing grief he wandered about from place to place
boxing and wrestling with all whom he met. Of course this
pastime soon lost its novelty, inasmuch as it must necessarily
have been the case that when so powerful a deity sent a frail
human opponent “to grass” he never came back any more.
Therefore, he instituted games called makahiki, and ordered
that they should be held in his honor, and then sailed for foreign
lands on a three-cornered raft, stating that he would return
some day—and that was the last of Lono. He was never seen
any more; his raft got swamped, perhaps. But the people
always expected his return, and thus they were easily led to
accept Captain Cook as the restored god.

Some of the old natives believed Cook was Lono to the day
of their death; but many did not, for they could not understand
how he could die if he was a god.

Only a mile or so from Kealakekua Bay is a spot of historic
interest—the place where the last battle was fought for idolatry.
Of course we visited it, and came away as wise as most people
do who go and gaze upon such mementoes of the past when in
an unreflective mood.

While the first missionaries were on their way around the
Horn, the idolatrous customs which had obtained in the island,
as far back as tradition reached were suddenly broken up. Old


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 521. In-line image of a tribe of natives sitting around a fire, while a woman takes beads out of the bucket that a man is holding.]
Kamehameha I., was dead, and his son, Liholiho, the new King
was a free liver, a roystering, dissolute fellow, and hated the
restraints of the ancient tabu. His assistant in the Government,
Kaahumanu, the Queen dowager, was proud and high-spirited,
and hated the tabu because it restricted the privileges
of her sex and degraded all women very nearly to the level of
brutes. So the case stood. Liholiho had half a mind to put
his foot down, Kaahumahu had a whole mind to badger him
into doing it, and whiskey did the rest. It was probably the
rest. It was probably the first time whiskey ever prominently
figured as an aid to civilization. Liholiho came up to Kailua
as drunk as a piper, and attended a great feast; the determined
Queen spurred his drunken courage up to a reckless pitch, and
then, while all the multitude stared in blank dismay, he moved
deliberately forward and sat down with the women! They
saw him eat from the same vessel with them, and were appalled!
Terrible moments drifted slowly by, and still the King ate,


Page 522
still he lived, still the lightnings of the insulted gods were
withheld! Then conviction came like a revelation—the superstitions
of a hundred generations passed from before the people
like a cloud, and a shout went up, “the tabu is broken! the
tabu is broken!”

Thus did King Liholiho and his dreadful whiskey preach the
first sermon and prepare the way for the new gospel that was
speeding southward over the waves of the Atlantic.

The tabu broken and destruction failing to follow the awful
sacrilege, the people, with that childlike precipitancy which has
always characterized them, jumped to the conclusion that their
gods were a weak and wretched swindle, just as they formerly
jumped to the conclusion that Captain Cook was no god, merely
because he groaned, and promptly killed him without stopping
to inquire whether a god might not groan as well as a man if
it suited his convenience to do it; and satisfied that the idols
were powerless to protect themselves they went to work at once
and pulled them down—hacked them to pieces—applied the
torch—annihilated them!

The pagan priests were furious. And well they might be;
they had held the fattest offices in the land, and now they were
beggared; they had been great—they had stood above the
chiefs—and now they were vagabonds. They raised a revolt;
they scared a number of people into joining their standard, and
Bekuokalani, an ambitious offshoot of royalty, was easily persuaded
to become their leader.

In the first skirmish the idolaters triumphed over the royal
army sent against them, and full of confidence they resolved
to march upon Kailua. The King sent an envoy to try and
conciliate them, and came very near being an envoy short by
the operation; the savages not only refused to listen to him,
but wanted to kill him. So the King sent his men forth under
Major General Kalaimoku and the two hosts met at Kuamoo.
The battle was long and fierce—men and women fighting side
by side, as was the custom—and when the day was done the
rebels were flying in every direction in hopeless panic, and
idolatry and the tabu were dead in the land!


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The royalists marched gayly home to Kailua glorifying the
new dispensation. “There is no power in the gods,” said they;
“they are a vanity and a lie. The army with idols was weak;
the army without idols was strong and victorious!”

The nation was without a religion.

The missionary ship arrived in safety shortly afterward, timed
by providential exactness to meet the emergency, and the Gospel
was planted as in a virgin soil.