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ART. I. SANDWICH ISLAND NOTES.
Sandwich Island Notes.-By a Häolé. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 82 Beekman street, 1854. pp. 493.
THIS book is written in unmitigated slipshod. Much of it is in the slovenly style of indifferent conversation, interspersed with emphatic announcements of common-place sentiments, and all sublimated by a free use of Heathen Mythology. Thus, San Francisco has sprung up, after its repeated conflagrations, "Phoenix like, from its own ashes;" "and every time it has been hurled to the ground, like the fabled Antaeus, it has gathered fresh strength and developed new resources." "In no place on earth does education-that grand Palladium of our liberties that firm basis on which our republic reposes-find a warmer advocacy or a better support than there." "The heaven-kissing spires of temples erected to the worship of the Most High, everywhere springing up as if by magic, afford sufficient proof," &c.; our readers will easily guess of what it affords proof. The style of the whole book is dressed up with the cast off. garments of the writer's school-boy days, and made to swell with the pompous inanities of Fourth-of-July speeches. We
quote again. "Although Popery has filled prisons with miserable victims, shaken the foundations of the mightiest monarchies, and left its bloody foot-prints on the lap of almost every nation on earth, they (!) have done what every separate ecclesiastical body would do, if the terrible preeminence in power that could insure success were once achieved." The somewhat questionable assertion that all ecclesiastical bodies would be as tyrannical as popery, if they had the power, is supported by the following profound maxim-" power intoxicates, and, whether it becomes invested in the hands of any particular body of men or of a single man,-it is always dangerous." We are told that in the lanes and streets of Honolulu "the pedestrian stands a noble chance to break his precipitate neck by stumbling," &c. On one occasion the author wishes that his horse would " pire." The eloquence of the Hawaiians is said "to subserve no rules other than the deepest sympathies acted upon, or the strongest passions awakened to deeds of love and vengeance." "What has become of the vast multitudes that once lived and progressed (!) in this region?" we scarce need add that "echo answers, where'?" We add a sentence or two more. "The stars and stripes'-magic emblems of freedom-floated in the breeze over our heads. I shall never forget my emotions as I looked up at that agis (?) which Washington had flung over our republic-after several years of struggles for national liberty." The author saw a great many things which he informs us he shall never forget, but we cannot enumerate them. But we have a much graver charge to bring against our author;-the charge of indecent description and of vile and disgusting allusion.
In describing scenes of impurity and licence, a writer not unfrequently describes at the same time his own tastes and inclinations; he expresses his own character in the disclosures he makes of what most interested him in his travels. This has been preeminently the case in many recent works of travel in the islands of the Pacific, and among barbarous people elsewhere. Disgusting practices, exposures of the person, and open exhibitions of whatever is debasing and loathsome, are described in a style which shows how attractive these things are to the heart of the writer, and how congenial with his habitual thoughts and dispositions. Shame and modesty prevail just as true civilization advances, and we need no other proof that the wanderer among the barbarous races of the earth has left the decencies of civilization, only because he is himself at heart a barbarian, than this sympathy with the habits and customs of barbarous life. As for our author, he seems to have grown callous
to shame. Things which fill every well regulated mind with disgust, he describes with an unconsciousness of impropriety as if he had lost all the sensibilities of a Christian education, and forgotten all the decent proprieties of a Christian home, in the familiarities of savage debasement. Thus, he coolly and without a blush informs his readers that he was present, in the district of Wai-a-la-la, at the native dance of the Hula, Hula, in which men and women appear naked; and, after describing what he saw, adds, that this was not the last scene of the kind he was present at. Doubtless, there are places in most large cities of Christendom where conduct as vile may be seen, but what pure minded person wishes to see it, or having seen, if that were possible, would describe it. But with our author, this and kindred topics are favorite themes, and with that unfailing characteristic of a vulgar mind, he enlivens them with what he doubtless considered witty allusions to the decalogue and our first parents. And, yet, there are many things in the volume which raise a doubt whether the writer is in all respects what these portions of his work would show him to be. We know nothing of him and therefore do not judge the individual, but we do say that if he had wished to commend his book to the vile and evil minded, if he had sought to gratify the libertine and to pander to the lowest passions of the debased, he would have written many just such things, and in just such style, as we find in this volume. Indeed, we are sure that no wise father, knowing its contents, would permit the volume to be read in his family.
The book is anonymous, and we write without any knowledge of the author. We have just expressed our doubts as to his character, whether he is really what he writes himself down -a pander to the licentious, and an associate of the libertine. Just so, we are at a loss to know his real position towards the missionaries of the islands. He professes great impartiality between them and their assailants. On the whole, we think he must be considered as a reluctant witness, testifying in their favor because he could not deny the facts which met him. As such, we shall employ his testimony, and it will be found to be of value. We shall follow him to the several stations and make pretty extensive quotations from his remarks.
There are five regular churches in Honolulu. They comprise the First and Second Native Church; the Bethel for seamen; the Foreign Church; and the edifice used for Catholic worship. The author describes a Sunday there. "Honolulu recognizes the quietest Sabbath on the face of the whole earth, and this repose is secured by the enforcement of a just and righteous
law. Let us enter the First Native Church of which mention has already been made. There are nearly three thousand natives waiting to hear from the lips of their religious teacher. A hymn is sung. The divine benediction is sought. A precept of Holy Writ is expounded. What a profound decorum reigns among that well dressed audience! With what marked respect they retire, after dismissal, to their homes!" We quote his remarks on the public schools. "In no nation on earth is the cause of public instruction more widely diffused, or more sacredly honored and guarded. It is excedingly difficult to find a child ten years of age who cannot read his Bible and other school books fluently. Probably every native child at the age of ten or twelve can read and write well, and is pretty well versed in the rudiments of scholastic science."
We introduce here a sketch of the Mission-station at Kaneohe, together with the author's reflections:
"Kaneohe (from 'kane,' male, and 'ohe,' bamboo) is a small and scattered village, and contains a branch of the American Protestant Mission. It is about three miles from the foot of the Pali, and commands a fine view of the surrounding plains and adjacent mountains. The mission in this place was established in 1834. The chapel is a very neat structure, 95 by 50 feet. The walls are solidly built of black lava, united with cement made out of the coral procured from the reefs on the neighboring shore, and burned into lime. Nearly all of this fabric is native workmanship, and it would be a credit to good mechanics in many older countries. The Hawaiians soon became adepts in the mechanic arts; and it may be, owing to the fact that their faculties are more imitative than creative, for they will copy almost anything they see the white man do.
"The impressions produced on my own mind, while staying at Kaneohe, were highly favorable to the Christianity professed by the natives. External action is not always a criterion of internal character. The act may be balanced in the scales of reason and justice, while the motive which prompted it may remain as unfathomable, to the eye of a mortal, as eternity itself. It was not for me, therefore, to decide that the motives of the Christianized natives at Kaneohe were or were not rightly founded. But their deportment was unexceptionable; their close attention to the teachings of the missionary highly commendable; and it appeared yet more so when I remembered that, not many years ago, these very plains, occupied by the fathers of the present generation, reechoed the shouts of warriors mingling in barbaric warfare. The punctuality with which these people attend to their Christian duties is remarkable. On the Sabbath, at sunrise, they always meet for prayer and mutual instruction. Nor does this early hour of devotion afford them any design to stay away from the more public and subsequent duties of the day. Hundreds of well-dressed natives-men, women, and children-many of whom come six or seven miles, may be seen thronging the chapel to listen to their teacher.
"When we speak of Christianized natives, or of Hawaii being a Christian nation, it must be regarded in the same light as though we were speaking of the United States as being a Christian nation, and in no other sense of the expression. In the former nation, as in the latter, there is much nominal Christianity, much to condemn, much to approve; for humanity, from the cradle to the grave, is a singular combination of good and evil. There is not a more difficult task to which a philanthropist can apply himself, than to instil pure morals into the heart of a South Sea Islander. The chief cause for wonder,
then, is not that the Hawaiians are not all Christians from a thorough transformation of character, but that so many Christians are found among them. There is that in native character which can rarely, if ever, be entirely effaced: it is the deadly upas of corrupt morals, inherited, through their forefathers, from many generations past. To purge away this natural and deeply-rooted corruption, and implant within them a sensitive conscience-a conscience alive to the discharge of every moral obligation-is as difficult as an attempt to blot out the spots of the leopard, or to wash the dusky hue from off the skin of the Ethiopian. But this change of character has been effected, and it will be effected again. The remark may be repeated, that, among the Hawaiians, the greatest wonder is that so many of them are Christians. It is a well-understood truth, that
'A thousand years scarce serve to form a state:
England has been more than thirteen hundred years in attaining her present eminence among the nations of the earth. Centuries had swept over the 'Seven-hilled City' before the glory of the Augustan age shed its rays on Rome. History tells us of states and nations that struggled, for hundred of years, amid a sort of semi-civilization, and then went out like the dying flame of a midnight taper. When it is remembered that thirty-five years (!) have not yet fled since efforts were commenced to civilize and Christianize the Hawaiians, who, for centuries past, had, as a race, been buried in the blackest midnight of debasement that has ever afflicted a portion of our race, may it be expected that so short a period is adequate to efface the last vestiges of mental and moral disease? No, verily! And that man, or class of men, who can mistake a point so vital as this, have not learned the alphabet of human nature.
"I have already spoken of native Christians at Kaneohe. That is a quaint old saying which assures us we may judge of a tree by the fruit it produces. On the same philosophical principle we may form our opinions of men. It was on this ground that I formed an estimate of native character at this mission station. At sunrise-in fact, from early morning twilight, the members of that Church convened on the Monday in their chapel. It was their monthly concert for Missions.' There is something in the prayer of a Hawaiian Christian that finds its way into the heart of a listener. The solemn tones of the invo cation, E IEHOVAH!' (O Jehovah !) spoken only as a Hawaiian can speak it when he addresses his God, and equaling, if not surpassing, the ALLAH ACHBAR!' of the Mussulman, is exceedingly impressive. I could hardly realize the fact that there was a time when the Christians of far off-lands were praying for this people, and sending the men and means to evangelize them, and that now this branch of the Hawaiian mission was doing a similar thing for other islands in the Pacific. But so it was.
"In justice to my theme, I am constrained to say I was astonished at the unpretending dwelling of the missionary, and his unostentatious mode of living. On my way to the group, and in accordance with the spirit of previous report, I was expecting to find the missionaries living in the most luxurious houses,' that were filled with native slaves,' where one might witness the idle luxury of their lives.' On my arrival at the islands, I found that these charges were only phantoms of the imagination. The dwelling of the missionary at Kaneohe-Rev. B. W. Parker-was as plain as any farm-house in New England, both in its internal and external condition. The servant he employed he fed and paid monthly wages to; and, at that, he was a member of his own Church! His fare was plain, but neat and substantial; and, to procure much of it, he had to toil with his own hands in cultivating the soil. And this was honorable; for that splendid scholar and gentlemanly Christian, the Apostle Paul, frequently served at the occupation of making tents. I found Mr. Parker one of those men whom a person cannot help esteeming and loving-a plain, honest, affable, Christian gentleman. And when I left him, I could not help secretly wishing him, and all his, a sincere God-speed!"-pp. 110-113.