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The Sacramento Daily Union, October 25, 1866

Kilauea, June, 1866.


Leaving the caves and tunnels, we returned to the road and started in a general direction toward Honaunau but were presently attracted by a number of holes in a bluff not more than three or four hundred yards from the place we had just left. We concluded to go up and examine them. Our native boatman, who had faithfully followed us thus far, and who must have been bearing the chief part of the heat and burden of the day, from the amount of perspiring he was doing looked a little discouraged, I thought and therefore we signified to him, in elaborate pantomime, that he might sit down and wait till we came back. We scrambled through a tangle of weeds which concealed great beds of black and wrinkled lava, and finally reached the low bluff. But the holes were just high enough to be out of reach. I bent a little below the lower one and ordered Brown to mount my shoulders and enter it. He said he could hold me easier than I could hold him, and I said he was afraid to go in that dark cavern alone. He used some seditious language of small con sequence and then climbed up and crawled in. I suppose the fellow felt a little nervous, for he paused up there on his hands and knees and peered into the darkness for some minutes with nothing of him visible in the face of the precipice but his broad boot soles and a portion of his person which a casual acquaintance might not have recognized at a cursory glance. Then he and his boot soles slowly disappeared. I waited a minute in a state of lively curiosity; another minute with flagging curiosity as regarded the cave, but with a new born attention to the pelting sun; another long minute with no curiosity at all - I leaned drowsily against the wall. And about this time the investigator backed suddenly out of the hole and crushed me to the earth. We rolled down the slight declivity and brought up in a sitting posture face to face. I looked astonished, may be, but he looked terrified.

"It's one of them infernal old ancient graveyards!" he said.

"No? This is why the superstitious Kanaka staid behind then?"

"Yes, likely. I suppose you didn't know that boneyard was there, else you'd have gone in yourself, instead of me. Certainly you would - oh, of course."

"Yes, you are right - but how is it in there, Brown? Compose yourself, lad - what did you find?"

"Oh, it's easy enough to talk, but I'm not going to prospect any more of them holes, not if I know myself, I aint, and I think I do; it aint right, any way, to be stirring up a dead man that's done his work and earned his rest, and besides it aint comfortable."

"But what did you see, Brown - what did you see?"

"I didn't see anything, at first - I only felt. It was dark as the inside of a whale in there, and I crawled about fifteen feet and then fetched up against something that was wood with my nose and skinned the end of it a little where you notice it's bloody. I felt of it with my hand, and judged it to be a canoe, and reached in and took out something and backed out till it was light enough, and then I found it was a withered hand of one of them rusty old kings. And so l laid it down and come out."

"Yes, you did 'come out' - and you 'come out' in something of a hurry, too. Give me a light."

I climbed in and put the relic back into the canoe, with its fellows, and I trust the spirit of the deceased, if it was hovering near, was satisfied with this mute apology for our unintentional sacrilege.

And thus another item of patiently acquired knowledge grew shaky. We had learned, early, that the bones of great Chiefs were hidden, like those of Kamehameha the Great; the information was accepted until we learned that it was etiquette to convey them to the volcano and cast them into the lakes of fire; that was relied on till we discovered that the legitimate receptacle for them was the holes in the precipice of Kealakekua; but now found that the walls of the City of Refuge contain orifices in which the bones of the great Chiefs are deposited, and lo! here were more in this distant bluff! - and bones of great Chiefs, too - all bones of great Chiefs. The fact is, there is a lie out somewhere.


Tired and over-heated, we plodded back to the ruined temple. We were blistered on face and hands, our clothes were saturated with perspiration and we were burning with thirst. Brown ran, the last hundred yards, and with out waiting to take off anything but his coat and boots jumped into the sea, bringing up in the midst of a party of native girls who were bathing. They scampered out, with a modesty which was not altogether genuine, I suspect, and ran, seizing their clothes as they went. He said they were very handsomely formed girls. I did not notice, particularly.

These creatures are bathing about half their time, I think. If a man were to see a nude woman bathing at noon day in the States, he would be apt to think she was very little better than she ought to be, and proceed to favor her with an impudent stare. But the case is somewhat different here. The thing is so common that the white residents pass carelessly by, and pay no more attention to it than if the rollicking wenches were so many cattle. Within the confines of even so populous a place as Honolulu, and in the very center of the sultry city of Lahaina, the women bathe in the brooks at all hours of the day. They are only particular about getting undressed safely, and in this science they all follow the same fashion. They stoop down snatch the single garment over the head, and spring in. They will do this with great confidence within thirty steps of a man. Finical highflyers wear bathing dresses, but of course that is an affectation of modesty born of the high civilization to which the natives have attained, and is confined to a limited number.

Many of the native women are prettily formed, but they have a noticeable peculiarity as to shape - they are almost as narrow through the hips as men are.


As we expected, there was no schooner Kangaroo at Kealakekua when we got back there, but the Emmeline [Emeline] was riding quietly at anchor in the same spot so lately occupied by our vessel, and that suited us much better. We waited until the land breeze served, and then put to sea. The land breeze begins to blow soon after the sun sets and the earth has commenced cooling; the sea breeze rushes inland in the morning as soon as the sun has begun to heat the earth again.


All day we sailed along within three to six miles of the shore. The view in that direction was very fine. We were running parallel with a long mountain that apparently had neither beginning nor end. It rose with a regular swell from the sea till its forests diminished to velvety shrubbery and were lost in the clouds. If there were any peaks we could not see them. The white mists hung their fringed banners down and hid everything above a certain well defined altitude. The mountain side, with its sharply marked patches of trees; the smooth green spaces and avenues between them; a little white habitation nestling here and there; a tapering church-spire or two thrust upward through the dense foliage; and a bright and cheerful sunlight over all - slanted up abreast of us like a vast picture, framed in between ocean and clouds. It was marked and lined and tinted like a map. So distinctly visible was every door and window in one of the white dwellings, that it was hard to believe it was two or three miles from our ship and two thousand feet above the level of the sea. Yet it was - and it was several thousand feet below the top of the mountain, also.


The night dosed down dark and stormy. The sea ran tolerably high and the little vessel tossed about like a cork. About nine or ten o'clock we saw a torch glimmering on the distant shore, and presently we saw another coming toward us from the same spot; every moment or so we could see it flash from the top of a wave and then sink out of sight again. From the speed it made I knew it must be one of those fleet native canoes. I watched it with some anxiety, because I wondered what desperate extremity could drive a man out on such a night and on such a sea to play with his life - for I did not believe a canoe could live long in such rough water. I was on the forecastle. Pretty soon I began to think may be the fellow stood some chance; shortly I almost believed he would make the trip, though his light was shooting up and down dangerously; in another minute he darted across our bow and I caught the glare from his torch in my face. I sprang aft then to get out of him his dire and dreadful news. ******

It was a swindle. It was one of those simple natives risking his life to bring the Captain a present of half a dozen chickens.

"He has got an ax to grind." I spoke in that uncharitable spirit of the civilized world which suspects all men's motives - which cannot conceive of an unselfish thought wrought into an unselfish deed by any man whatsoever, be he Pagan or Christian.

"None at all," said the Captain; "he expects nothing in return - wouldn't take a cent if I offered it - wouldn't thank me for it, any way. It's the same instinct that made them load Captain Cook's ships with provisions. They think it is all right - they don't want any return. They will bring us plenty of such presents before we get to Kau."

I saw that the Kanaka was starting over the side again. I said:

"Call him back and give him a drink anyhow; he is wet - and dry also, maybe."

"Pison him with that Jamaica rum down below," said Brown.

"It can't be done - five hundred dollars fine to give or sell liquor to a native."

The Captain walked forward then to give some orders, and Brown took the Kanaka down stairs and "pisoned" him. He was delighted with a species of rum which Brown had tried by mistake for claret during the day, and had afterwards made his will, under the conviction that he could not survive it.

They are a strange race, anyhow, these natives. They are amazingly unselfish and hospitable. To the wayfarer who visits them they freely offer their houses, food, beds, and often their wives and daughters. If a Kanaka who has starved two days gets hold of a dollar he will spend it for poi, and then bring in his friends to help him devour it. When a Kanaka lights his pipe he only takes one or two whiffs and then passes it around from one neighbor to another until it is exhausted. The example of white selfishness does not affect their native unselfishness any more than the example of white virtue does their native licentiousness. Both traits are born in them - are in their blood and bones and cannot be educated out.


By midnight we had got to within four miles of the place we were to stop at - Kau, but to reach it we must weather a point which was always hard to get around on account of contrary winds.

The ship was put about and we were soon standing far out to sea. I went to bed. The vessel was pitching so fearfully an hour afterward that it woke me up. Directly the Captain came down, looking greatly distressed, and said:

"Slip on your clothes quick and go up and see to your friend. It has been storming like everything for fifteen or twenty minutes, and I thought at first he was only seasick and could not throw up, but now he appears to be out of his head. He lies there on the deck and moans and says, 'Poetry - poetry - oh, me.' It is all he says. What the devil should he say that for? Hurry!"

Before the speech was half over I was plunging about the cabin with the rolling of the ship, and struggling frantically to get into my clothes. But the last sentence or two banished my fears and soothed me, I understood the case.

I was soon on deck in the midst of the darkness and the whistling winds, and with assistance groped my way to the sufferer. I told him I had nothing but some verses built out of alternate lines from the "Burial of Sir John Moore" and the "Destruction of the Sennacherib," and proceeded to recite them:


And other parties, subsequently to the Destruction of the Sennacherib.

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
The turf with our bayonets turning,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold,
And our lanterns dimly burning.

And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
When the clock told the hour for retiring -
The lances uplifted, the trumpet unblown,
Though the foe were sullenly firing.

And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
As his corse to the ramparts we hurried,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord,
O'er the grave when our hero we buried.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed -
And we far away on the billow!

And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
As we bitterly thought on the morrow,
And their hearts but once heaved and forever grew still,
But we spake not a word of sorrow!

And there lay the steed, with his nostril all wide
In the grave where a Briton hath laid him,
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him.

And there lay the rider, distorted and pale,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail -
So we left him alone in his glory!

"It is enough. God bless you!" said Brown, and threw up everything he had eaten for three days.


All day the next day we fought that treacherous point - always in sight of it but never able to get around it. At night we tacked out forty or fifty miles, and the following day at noon we made it and came in and anchored.

We went ashore in the first boat and landed in the midst of a black, rough, lava solitude, and got horses and started to Waiohinu, six miles distant. The road was good, and our surroundings fast improved. We were soon among green groves and flowers and occasional plains of grass. There are a dozen houses at Waiohinu, and they have got sound roofs, which is well, because the place is tolerably high upon the mountain side and it rains there pretty much all the time. The name means "sparkling water," and refers to a beautiful mountain stream there, but they ought to divide up and let it refer to the rain also.

A sugar plantation has been started at Waiohinu, and 150 acres planted, a year ago, but the altitude ranges from 1,800 to 2,500 feet above sea level, and it is thought it will take an other year for the cane to mature.

We had an abundance of mangoes, papaias and bananas here, but the pride of the islands, the most delicious fruit known to men, cherimoya, was not in season. It has a soft pulp, like a pawpaw, and is eaten with a spoon. The papaia looks like a small squash, and tastes like a pawpaw.

In this rainy spot trees and flowers flourish luxuriantly, and three of those trees - two mangoes and an orange - will live in my memory as the greenest, freshest and most beautiful I ever saw - and withal, the stateliest and most graceful. One of those mangoes stood in the middle of a large grassy yard, lord of the domain and incorruptible sentinel against the sunshine. When one passed within the compass of its broad arms and its impenetrable foliage he was safe from the pitiless glare of the sun - the protecting shade fell everywhere like a somber darkness.

In some places on the islands where the mango refused to bear fruit, a remedy suggested by the Scientific American has been tried with success. It consists in boring a hole in the trunk of the tree, filling the same with gunpowder and plugging it up. Perhaps it might be worth while to try it on other fruit trees.


Speaking of trees reminds me that a species of large-bodied tree grows along the road below Waiohinu whose crotch is said to contain tanks of fresh water at all times; the natives suck it out through a hollow weed, which always grows near. As no other water exists in that wild neighborhood, within a space of some miles in circumference, it is considered to be a special invention of Providence for the behoof of the natives. I would rather accept the story than the deduction, because the latter is so manifestly but hastily conceived and erroneous. If the happiness of the natives had been the object, the tanks would have been filled with whisky.


The natives of the district of Kau have always dwelt apart from their fellow islanders - cut off from them by a desolate stretch of lava on one side and a mountain on the other - and they have ever shown a spirit and an independence not elsewhere to be found in Hawaii-nei. They are not thoroughly tamed yet, nor civilized or Christianized. Kau was the last district on the island that submitted to Kamehameha I. Two heaps of stones near the roadside mark where they killed two of the early Kings of Hawaii. On both occasions these monarchs were trying to put down rebel lion. They used to make their local chiefs very uncomfortable sometimes, and ten years ago, in playful mood, they made two Tax Collectors flee for their lives.

Most natives lie some, but these lie a good deal. They still believe in the ancient superstitions of the race, and believe in the Great Shark God and pray each other to death. When sworn by the Great Shark God they are afraid to speak anything but the truth; but when sworn on the Bible in Court they proceed to soar into flights of fancy lying that make the inventions of Munchausen seem poor and trifling in comparison.

They worship idols in secret, and swindle the wayfaring stranger.

Some of the native Judges and Justices of the Peace of the Kau district have been rare specimens of judicial sagacity. One of them considered that all the fines for adultery ($30 for each offense) properly be longed to himself. He also considered himself a part of the Government, and that if he committed that crime himself it was the same as if the Government committed it, and, of course, it was the duty of the Government to pay the fine. Consequently, whenever he had collected a good deal of money from other Court revenues, he used to set to work and keep on convicting himself of adultery until he had absorbed all the money on hand in paying the fines.

The adultery law has been so amended that each party to the offense is now fined $30; and I would remark, in passing, that if the crime were in variably detected and the fines collected, the revenues of the Hawaiian Government would probably exceed those of the United States. I trust the observation will not be considered in the light of an insinuation, however.

An old native Judge at Hilo once acquitted all the parties to a suit and then discovering, as he supposed, that he had no further hold on them and thus was out of pocket, he condemned the witnesses to pay the costs!

A Kau Judge, whose two years commission had expired, redated it himself and went on doing business as complacently as ever. He said it didn't make any difference - he could write as good a hand as the King could.


Brown bought a horse from a native at Waiohinu for twelve dollars, but happening to think of the horse jockeying propensities of the race, he removed the saddle and found that the creature needed "half-soling," as he expressed it. Recent hard riding had polished most of the hide off his back. He bought another and the animal went dead lame before we got to the great volcano, forty miles away. I bought a reckless little mule for fifteen dollars, and I wish I had him yet. One mule is worth a dozen horses for a mountain journey in the Islands.

The first eighteen miles of the road lay mostly down by the sea, and was pretty well sprinkled with native houses. The animals stopped at all of them - a habit they had early acquired; natives stop a few minutes at every shanty they come to, to swap gossip, and we were forced to do likewise - but we did it under protest.

Brown's horse jogged along well enough for 16 or 17 miles, but then he came down to a walk and refused to improve on it. We had to stop and intrude upon a gentleman who was not expecting us, and who I thought did not want us, either, but he entertained us handsomely, nevertheless, and has my hearty thanks for his kindness.

We looked at the ruddy glow cast upon the clouds above the volcano, only twenty miles away, now (the fires had become unusually active a few days before) for awhile after supper, and then went to bed and to sleep without rocking.

We stopped a few miles further on, the next morning, to hire a guide, but happily were saved the nuisance of traveling with a savage we could not talk with. The proprietor and another gentleman intended to go to the volcano the next day, and they said they would go at once if we would stop and take lunch. We signed the contract, of course. It was the usual style. We had found none but pleasant people on the island, from the time we landed at.

To get through the last twenty miles, guides are indispensable. The whole country is given up to cattle ranching, and is crossed and recrossed by a riddle of "bull paths" which is hopelessly beyond solution by a stranger.


Portions of that little journey bloomed with beauty. Occasionally we entered small basins walled in with low cliffs, carpeted with greenest grass, and studded with shrubs and small trees whose foliage shone with an emerald brilliancy. One species, called the mamona [mamani], with its bright color, its delicate locust leaf, so free from decay or blemish of any kind, and its graceful shape, chained the eye with a sort of fascination. The rich verdant hue of these fairy parks was relieved and varied by the splendid carmine tassels of the ohia tree. Nothing was lacking but the fairies themselves.


As we trotted up the almost imperceptible ascent and neared the volcano, the features of the country changed. We came upon a long dreary desert of black, swollen, twisted, corrugated billows of lava - blank and dismal desolation! Stony hillocks heaved up, all seamed with cracked wrinkles and broken open from center to circumference in a dozen places, as if from an explosion beneath. There had been terrible commotion here once, when these dead waves were seething fire; but now all was motion less and silent - it was a petrified sea! The narrow spaces between the upheavals were partly filled with volcanic sand, and through it we plodded laboriously. The invincible ohia struggled for a footing even in this desert waste, and achieved it - towering above the billows here and there, with trunks flattened like spears of grass in the crevices from which they Sprang.

We came at last to torn and ragged deserts of scorched and blistered lava - to plains and patches of dull gray ashes - to the summit of the mountain, and these tokens warned us that we were nearing the palace of the dread goddess Pele, the crater of Kilauea.


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