The Hawaiian Archipelago:
Six months amongst the palm groves, coral reefs, and volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands
By Isabella L. Bird, 1875



An Oahu Sabbath—A State Pageant—An Abrupt Departure—Inter-island Travelling—Maui—Contradictory Statements—Windward Hawaii—A Polynesian Paradise—Hilo Fascinations

Hawaiian Hotel, Jan. 28th

Sunday was a very pleasant day here. Church bells rang, and the shady streets were filled with people in holiday dress. There are two large native churches, the Kaumakapili, and the Kaiwaiaho, usually called the stone church. The latter is an immense, substantial building, for the erection of which each Christian native brought a block of rock-coral. There is a large Roman Catholic church, the priests of which are said to have been somewhat successful in proselytizing operations.

The Reformed Catholic, or English temporary cathedral, is a tasteful but very simple wooden building, standing in pretty grounds, on which a useful institution for boarding and training native and half-white girls, and the reception of white girls as day scholars, also stands. This is in connection with Miss Sellon's Sisterhood at Devonport Another building, alongside the cathedral, is used for English service in Hawaiian.

There are two Congregational churches: the old "Bethel," of which the Rev. S. C. Damon, known to all strangers, and one of the oldest and most respected Honolulu residents, is the minister; and the " Fort St. Church," which has a large and influential congregation, and has been said to " run the government,"

because its members compose the majority of the Cabinet. Lunalilo, the present king, has cast in his lot with the Congregationalists, but queen Emma is an earnest member of the Anglican Church, and attends the Liturgical Hawaiian

Service in order to throw the weight of her influence with the natives into the scale of that communion. Her husband spent many of his later days in translating the Prayer-Book. As is natural, most of the natives belong to the denomination from which they or their fathers received the Christian faith, and the majority of the foreigners are of the same persuasion. The New England Puritan influence, with its rigid Sabbatarianism, though considerably worn away, is still influential enough to produce a general appearance of Sabbath observance. The stores are closed, the church-going is very demonstrative, and the pleasure-seeking is very unobtrusive. The wharves are profoundly quiet.

I went twice to the English Cathedral, and was interested to see there a lady in a nun's habit, with a number of brown girls, who was pointed out to me as Sister Bertha, who has been working here usefully for many years. The ritual is high. I am told that it is above the desires of most of the island Episcopalians, but the zeal and disinterestedness of Bishop Willis will, in time, I doubt not, win upon those who prize such qualities. He called in the afternoon, and took me to his pretty, unpretending residence up the Nuuanu Valley. He has a training and boarding school there for native boys, some of whom were at church in the morning as a surpliced choir. The bishop, his sister, the schoolmaster, and fourteen boys take their meals together in a refectory, the boys acting as servitors by turns. There is a service every morning at 6.30 in the private chapel attached to the house, and also in the cathedral a little later. Early risers, so near the equator, must get up by candlelight all the year round.

This morning we joined our kind friends from the Nevada for the last time at breakfast. I have noticed that there is often a centrifugal force which acts upon passengers who have been long at sea together, dispersing them on reaching port. Indeed, the temporary, enforced cohesion is often succeeded by violent repulsion. But in this instance we deeply regret the dissolution of our pleasant fraternity; the less so, however, that this wonderful climate has produced a favourable change in Mr. D., who no longer requires the hourly attention hitherto necessary. The mornings here, dew-bathed and rose-flushed, are, if possible, more lovely than the nights, and people are astir early to enjoy them. The American consul and Mr. Damon called while we were sitting at our eight- o'clock breakfast, from which I gather that formalities are dispensed with. After spending the morning in hunting among the stores for things which were essential for the invalid, I lunched in the Nevada with Captain Blethen and our friends.

Next to the advent of "national ships" (a euphemism for men-of-war), the arrivals and departures of the New Zealand mail-steamers constitute the great excitement of Honolulu, and the failures, mishaps, and wonderful unpunctuality of this Webb line are highly stimulating in a region where "nothing happens." The loungers were saying that the Nevada's pumps were going for five days before we arrived, and pointed out the clearness of the water which was running from them at the wharf as an evidence that she was leaking badly (A week after her sailing, this unlucky ship put back with some mysterious ailment, and on her final arrival at San Francisco, her condition was found to be such that it was a marvel that she had made the passage at all.). The crowd of natives was enormous, and the foreigners were there in hundreds. She was loading with oranges and green bananas up to the last moment,—those tasteless bananas which, out of the tropics, misrepresent this most delicious and ambrosial fruit.

There was a far greater excitement for the natives, for King Lunalilo was about to pay a state visit to the American flagship California, and every available place along the wharves and roads was crowded with kanakas anxious to see him. I should tell you that the late king, being without heirs, ought to have nominated his successor; but it is said that a sorceress, under whose influence he was, persuaded him that his death would follow upon this act. When he died, two months ago, leaving the succession unprovided for, the duty of electing a sovereign, according to the constitution, devolved upon the people through their representatives, and they exercised it with a combination of order and enthusiasm which reflects great credit on their civilization. They chose the highest chief on the islands, Lunalilo (Above All), known among foreigners as “ Prince Bill," and at this time letters of congratulation are pouring in upon him from his brethren, the sovereigns of Europe.

The spectacular effect of a pageant here is greatly heightened by the cloudless blue sky, and the wealth of light and colour. It was very hot, almost too hot for sight-seeing, on the Nevada's bow. Expectation among the lieges became tremendous and vociferous when Admiral Pennock's sixteen-oared barge, with a handsome awning, followed by two well-manned boats, swept across the strip of water which lies between the ships and the shore. Outrigger canoes, with garlanded men and women, were poised upon the motionless water, or darted gracefully round the ironclads, as gracefully to come to rest Then a stir and swaying of the crowd, and the American Admiral was seen standing at the steps of an English barouche and four, and an Hawaiian imitation of an English cheer rang out upon the air.

More cheering, more excitement, and I saw nothing else till the Admiral's barge, containing the Admiral, and the King dressed in a plain morning suit with a single decoration, swept past the Nevada. The suite followed in the other boats,—brown men and white, governors, ministers, and court dignitaries, in Windsor uniforms, but with an added resplendency of plumes, epaulettes, and gold lace. As soon as Lunalilo reached the California, the yards of the three ships were manned, and amidst cheering which rent the air, and the deafening thunder of a royal salute from sixty-three guns of heavy calibre, the popular descendant of seventy generations of sceptred savages stepped on board the flag-ship's deck. No higher honours could have been paid to the Emperor "of all the Russias." I have seen few sights more curious than that of the representative of the American Republic standing bare-headed before a coloured man, and the two mightiest empires on earth paying royal honours to a Polynesian sovereign, whose little kingdom in the North Pacific is known to many of us at home only as " the group of islands where Captain Cook was killed." Ah! how lovely this Queen of Oceans is! Blue, bright, balm breathing, gentle in its strength, different both in motion and colour from the coarse "vexed Atlantic!"

Steamer Kilauea, January 29th.

I was turning homewards, enjoying the prospect of a quiet week in Honolulu, when Mr. and Mrs. Damon seized upon me, and told me that a lady friend of theirs, anxious for a companion, was going to the volcano on Hawaii, that she was a most expert and intelligent traveller, that the Kilauea would sail in two hours, that unless I went now I should have no future opportunity during my limited stay on the islands, that Mrs. Dexter was anxious for me to go, that they would more than fill my place in my absence, that this was a golden opportunity, that in short I must go, and they would drive me back to the hotel to pack ! The volcano is still a myth to me, and I wanted to "read up" before going, and above all was grieved to leave my friend, but she had already made some needful preparations, her son with his feeble voice urged my going, the doctor said that there was now no danger to be apprehended, and the Damons' kind urgency left me so little choice, that by five I was with them on the wharf, being introduced to my travelling companion, and to many of my fellow-passengers. Such an unexpected move is very bewildering, and it is too experimental, and too much of a leap in the dark to be enjoyable at present.

The wharf was one dense, well-compacted mass of natives taking leave of their friends with much effusiveness, and the steamer's deck was crowded with them, till there was hardly room to move; men, women, children, dogs, cats, mats, calabashes of pot, cocoanuts, bananas, dried fish, and every dusky individual of the throng was wreathed and garlanded with odorous and brilliant flowers. All were talking and laughing, and an immense amount of gesticulation seems to emphasise and supplement speech. We steamed through the reef in the brief, red twilight, over the golden tropic sea, keeping on the leeward side of the islands. Before it was quite dark the sleeping arrangements were made, and the deck and skylights were covered with mats and mattresses on which 170 natives sat, slept, or smoked,—a motley, parti-coloured mass of humanity, in the midst of which I recognized Bishop Willis in the usual Episcopal dress, lying on a mattress among the others, a prey to discomfort and weariness ! What would his Episcopal brethren at home think of such a hardship ?

There is a yellow-skinned, soft-voiced, fascinating Goa or Malay steward on board, who with infinite goodwill attends to the comfort of everybody. I was surprised when he asked me if I would like a mattress on the skylight, or a berth below, and in unhesitating ignorance replied severely, "Oh, below, of course, please," thinking of a ladies' cabin, but when I went down to supper my eyes were enlightened.

The Kilanea is a propeller of 400 tons, most unprepossessing in appearance, slow, but sure, and capable of bearing an infinite amount of battering. It is jokingly said that her keel has rasped off the branch coral round all the islands. Though there are many inter-island schooners, she is the only sure mode of reaching the windward islands in less, than a week; and though at present I am disposed to think rather slightingly of her, and to class her with the New Zealand coasting craft, yet the residents are very proud of her, and speak lovingly of her, and regard her as a blessed deliverance from the horrors of beating to windward. She has a shabby, obsolete look about her, like a second-rate coasting collier, or an old American tow-boat She looks ill-found, too; I saw two essential pieces of tackle give way as they were hoisting the main sail. She has a small saloon with a double tier of berths, besides transoms, which give accommodation on the level of the lower berth. There is a stern cabin, which is a prolongation of the saloon, and not in any way separated from it. There is no ladies' cabin; but sex, race, and colour are included in a promiscuous arrangement.

Miss Karpe, my travelling companion, and two agreeable ladies, were already in their berths very sick, but I did not get into mine because a cockroach, looking as large as a mouser occupied the pillow, and a companion not much smaller was roaming over the quilt without any definite purpose. I can't vouch for the accuracy of my observation, but it seemed to me that these tremendous creatures were dark red, with eyes like lobsters', and antennae two inches long. They looked capable of carrying out the most dangerous and inscrutable designs. I called the Malay steward; he smiled mournfully, but spoke reassuringly, and pledged his word for their innocuousness, but I never can believe that they are not the enemies of man; and I lay down on the transom, not to sleep, however, for it seemed essential to keep watch on the proceedings of these formidable vermin.

The grotesqueness of the arrangements of the berths and their occupants grew on me during the night, and the climax was put upon it when a gentleman coming down in the early morning asked me if I knew that I was using the Governor of Maui's head for a footstool, this portly native "Excellency” being in profound slumber on the forward part of the transom.

This diagram represents one side of the saloon and the "happy family" of  English, Chinamen, Hawaiians, and Americans:

          Governor Lyman                       Miss Karpe                  Miss ___
          Afong                                      Vacant                       Miss ___
          Governor Nahaolelua                 Myself                        An Hawaiian

I noticed, too, that there were very few trunks and portmanteaus, but that the after end of the saloon was heaped with Mexican saddles and saddlebags, which I learned too late were the essential gear of every traveler on Hawai`i’

At five this morning, we were at anchor in the roads of Lahaina, the chief village on the mountainous island of Maui.,

This place is very beautiful from the sea, for beyond the blue water and the foamy reef the eye rests gratefully on a picturesque collection of low, one-storied, thatched houses, many of frame, painted white; others of grass, but all with deep, cool verandahs, half hidden among palms, bananas, kukuis, breadfruit, and mangoes, dark groves against gentle slopes behind, covered with sugar-cane of a bright pea-green. It is but a narrow strip of land between the ocean and the red, flaring, almost inaccessible, Maui hills, which here rise abruptly to a height of 6,000 feet, pinnacled, chasmed, buttressed, and almost verdureless, except in a few deep clefts, green and cool with ferns and candlenut trees, and moist with falling water. Lahaina looked intensely tropical in the roseflush of the early morning, a dream of some bright southern isle, too surely to pass away. The sun blazed down on shore, ship, and sea, glorifying all things through the winter day. It was again ecstasy "to dream and dream" under the awning, fanned by the light sea-breeze, with the murmur of an unknown musical tongue in one's ears, and the rich colouring and graceful grouping of a tropical race around one. We called at Maaleia, a neck of sandy, scorched, verdureless soil, and at Ulupalakua, or rather at the furnace seven times heated, which is the landing of the plantation of that name, on whose breezy slopes cane refreshes the eye at a height of 2,000 feet above the sea. We anchored at both places, and with what seemed to me a needless amount of delay, discharged goods and natives, and natives, mats, and calabashes were embarked. In addition to the essential mat and calabash oipoi, every native carried some pet, either dog or cat, which was caressed, sung to, and talked to with extreme tenderness; but there were hardly any children, and I noticed that where there were any, the men took charge of them. There were very few fine, manly dogs j the pets in greatest favour are obviously odious, weak-eyed, pink-nosed Maltese terriers.

The aspect of the sea was so completely lazy, that it was a fresh surprise as each indolent undulation touched the shore that it had latent vigour left to throw itself upwards into clouds of spray. We looked through limpid water into cool depths where strange bright fish darted through the submarine chapparal, but the coolness was imaginary, for the water was at 8o°. The air above the great black lava flood, which in prehistoric times had flowed into the sea, and had ever since declined the kindly, draping offices of nature, vibrated in wavesof heat. Even the imperishable cocoanut trees, whose tall, bare, curved trunks rose from the lava or the burnt red earth, were gaunt, tattered, and thirsty-looking, weary of crying for moisture to the pitiless skies. At last the ceaseless ripple of talk ceased, crew and passengers slept on the hot deck, and no sounds were heard but the drowsy flap of the awning, and the drowsier creak of the rudder, as the Kilauea swayed sleepily on the lazy undulations. The flag drooped and fainted with heat. The white sun blazed like a magnesium light on blue water, black lava, and fiery soil, roasting, blinding, scintillating, and flushed the red rocks of Maui into glory. It is all glorious, this fierce bright glow of the Tropic of Cancer, yet it was a relief to look up the great rolling, featureless slopes above Ulupalakua to a forest belt of perennial green, watered, they say, by perpetual showers, and a little later to see a mountain summit uplifted into a region of endless winter, above a steady cloud-bank as white as snow.

This mountain, Haleakala, the House of the Sun, is the largest extinct volcano in the world, its terminal crater being nineteen miles in circumference at a height of more than 10,000 feet. It, and its spurs, slopes, and clusters of small craters form East Maui. West Maui is composed mainly of the picturesque group of the Eeka mountains. A desert strip of land, not much above high water mark, unites the twain, which form an island forty-eight miles long and thirty broad, with an area of 620 square miles.

We left Maui in the afternoon, and spent the next six hours in crossing the channel between it and Hawaii, but the short, tropic day did not allow us to see anything of the latter island but two snow-capped domes uplifted above the clouds. I have been reading Jarves' excellent book on the islands as industriously as possible, as well as trying to get information from my fellow-passengers regarding the region into which I have been so suddenly and unintentionally projected. I really know nothing about Hawaii, or the size and phenomena of the volcano to which we are bound, or the state of society or of the native race, or of the relations existing between it and the foreign population, or of the details of the constitution. This ignorance is most oppressive, and I see that it will not be easily enlightened, for among several intelligent gentlemen who have been conversing with me, no two seem agreed on any matter of fact.

From the hour of my landing I have observed the existence of two parties of pro and anti missionary leanings, with views on all island subjects in grotesque antagonism. So far, the former have left the undoubted results of missionary effort here to speak for themselves; and I am almost disposed, from the pertinacious aggressiveness of the latter party, to think that it must be weak. I have already been seized upon (a gentleman would write "button-holed") by several persons, who, in their anxiety to be first in imprinting their own views on the tabula rasa of a stranger's mind, have exercised an unseemly over-haste in giving the conversation an anti-missionary twist.

They apparently desire to convey the impression that the New England teachers, finding a people rejoicing in the innocence and simplicity of Eden, taught them the knowledge of evil, turned them into a nation of hypocrites, and with a mingling of fanaticism and selfishness, afflicted them with many woes calculated to accelerate their extinction, clothing among others. The animus appears strong and bitter. There are two intelligent and highly educated ladies on board, daughters of missionaries, and the candid and cautious tone in which they speak on the same subject impresses me favourably. Mr. Damon introduced me to a very handsome half white gentleman, a lawyer of ability, and lately interpreter to the Legislature, Mr. Ragsdale, or, as he is usually called, " Bill Ragsdale," a leading spirit among the natives. His conversation was eloquent and poetic, though rather stilted, and he has a good deal of French mannerism; but if he is a specimen of native patriotic feeling, I think that the extinction of Hawaiian nationality must be far off.

I was amused with the attention that he paid to his dress under very adverse circumstances. He has appeared in three different suits, with light kid gloves to match, all equally elegant, in two days. A Chinese gentleman, who is at the same time a wealthy merchant at Honolulu, and a successful planter on Hawaii, interests me, from the keen intelligence of his face, and the courtesy and dignity of his manner. I hear that he possesses the respect of the whole community for his honour and integrity. It is quite unlike an ordinary miscellaneous herd of passengers. The tone is cheerful, courteous, and friendly, and people speak without introductions, and help to make the time pass pleasantly to each other.

Hilo, Hawaii

The Kilauea is not a fast propeller, and as she lurched very much in crossing the channel most of the passengers were seasick, a casualty which did not impair their cheerfulness and good humour. After dark we called at Kawaihae (pronounced Ka-wye-hye), on the north-west of Hawaii, and then steamed through the channel to the east or windward side. I was only too glad on the second night to accept the offer of "a mattress on the skylight," but between the heavy rolling caused by the windward swell, and the natural excitement on nearing the land of volcanoes and earthquakes, I could not sleep, and no other person slept, for it was considered "a very rough passage," though there was hardly a yachtsman’s breeze. It would do these Sybarites good to give them a short spell of the howling horrors of the North or South Atlantic, an easterly snowstorm off Sable Island, or a winter gale in the latitude of Inaccessible Island! The night was cloudy, and so the glare from Kilauea which is often seen far out at sea was not visible.

When the sun rose amidst showers and rainbows (for this is the showery season), I could hardly believe my eyes. Scenery, vegetation, colour were all changed. The glowing red, the fiery glare, the obtrusive lack of vegetation were all gone. There was a magnificent coast-line of grey cliffs many hundred feet in height, usually draped with green, but often black and caverned at their bases. Into cracks and caverns the heavy waves surged with a sound like artillery, sending broad sheets of foam high up among the ferns and trailers, and drowning for a time the endless baritone of the surf, which is never silent through the summer years. Cascades in numbers took impulsive leaps from the cliffs into the sea, or came thundering down clefts or "gulches," which, widening at their extremities, opened on smooth, green lawns, each one of which has its grass house or houses, kalo patch, bananas, and coco-palms, so close to the Pacific that its spray often frittered itself away over their fan-like leaves. Above the cliffs there were grassy uplands with park-like clumps of the screwpine, and candle-nut, and glades and dells of dazzling green, bright with cataracts, opened up among the dense forests which for some thousands of feet girdle Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two vast volcanic mountains, whose snow-capped summits gleamed here and there above the clouds, at an altitude of nearly 14,000 feet.

Creation surely cannot exhibit a more brilliant green than that which clothes windward Hawaii with perpetual spring. I have never seen such verdure. In the final twenty-nine miles there are more than sixty gulches, from 100 to 700 feet in depth, each with its cataracts, and wild vagaries of tropical luxuriance. Native churches, frame-built and painted white, are almost like mile-stones along the coast, far too large and too many for the notoriously dwindling population.

Ten miles from Hilo we came in sight of the first sugar plantation, with its patches of yet brighter green, its white boiling house and tall chimney stack; then more churches, more plantations, more gulches, more houses, and before ten we steamed into Byron's, or as it is now called Hilo Bay.

This is the paradise of Hawaii. What Honolulu attempts to be, Hilo is without effort. Its crescent-shaped bay, said to be the most beautiful in the Pacific, is a semi-circle of about two miles, with its farther extremity formed by Cocoanut Island, a black lava islet on which this palm attains great perfection, and beyond it again a fringe of cocoanuts marks the deep indentations of the shore. From this island to the north point of the bay, there is a band of golden sand on which the roar of the surf sounded thunderous and drowsy as it mingled with the music of the living waters of the Waiakea and the Wailuku, which after lashing the sides of the mountains which give them birth, glide deep and fern-fringed into the ocean.

Native houses, half hidden by greenery, line the bay, and stud the heights above the Wailuku, and near the landing some white frame houses and three church spires above the wood denote the foreign element. Hilo is unique. Its climate is humid, and the long repose which it has enjoyed from rude volcanic upheavals has mingled a great depth of vegetable mould with the decomposed lava. Rich soil, rain, heat, sunshine, stimulate nature to vigorous efforts, and there is a luxuriant prodigality of vegetation which leaves nothing uncovered but the golden margin of the sea, and even that above high-water-mark is green with the Convolvulus maritimus. So dense is the wood that Hilo is rather suggested than seen. It is only on shore that one becomes aware of its bewildering variety of native and exotic trees and shrubs.

From the sea it looks one dense mass of greenery, in which the bright foliage of the candle-nut relieves the glossy dark green of the breadfruit—a maze of preposterous bananas, out of which rise slender, annulated trunks of palms giving their infinite grace to the grove. And palms along the bay, almost among the surf, toss their waving plumes in the sweet, soft breeze, not "palms in exile," but children of a blessed isle where " never wind blows loudly." Above Hilo, broad lands sweeping up cloudwards, with their sugar cane, kalo, melons, pine-apples, and banana groves suggest the boundless liberality of Nature. Woods and waters, hill and valley are all there, and from the region of an endless summer the eye takes in the domain of an endless winter, where almost perpetual snow crowns the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea from Hilo has a shapely aspect, for its top is broken into peaks, said to be the craters of extinct volcanoes, but my eyes seek the dome-like curve of Mauna Loa with far deeper interest, for it is as yet an unfinished mountain. It has a huge crater on its summit 800 feet in depth, and a pit of unresting fire on its side; it throbs, rumbles, and palpitates; it has sent forth floods of fire over all this part of Hawaii, and at any moment it may be crowned with a lonely light, showing that its tremendous forces are again in activity

Canoes came off from the shore, dusky swimmers glided through the waters, youths, athletes, like the bronzes of the Naples Museum, rode the waves on their surf-boards, brilliantly dressed riders galloped along the sands, and came trooping down the bridle-paths from all the vicinity till a many-coloured, tropical crowd had assembled at the landing. Then a whaleboat came off, rowed by eight young men in white linen suits and white straw hats, with wreaths of carmine-coloured flowers round both hats and throats. They were singing a glee in honour of Mr. Ragsdale, whom they sprang on deck to welcome. Our crowd of native fellow-passengers, by some inscrutable process, had re-arrayed themselves and blossomed into brilliancy. Hordes of Hilo natives swarmed on deck, and it became a Babel of alohas, kisses, hand-shakings, and reiterated welcomes.

The glee singers threw their beautiful garlands of roses and ohias over the foreign passengers, and music, flowers, good-will and kindliness made us welcome to these enchanted shores. We landed in a whaleboat, and were hoisted up a rude pier which was crowded, for what the arrival of the Australian mail steamer is to Honolulu, the coming of the Kilauea is to Hilo.

I had not time to feel myself a stranger, there were so many introductions, and so much friendliness. Mr. Coan and Mr. Lyman, two of the most venerable of the two surviving missionaries, were on the landing, and I was introduced to them and many others. There is no hotel in Hilo. The residents receive strangers, and Miss Karpe and I were soon installed in a large, buff frame-house, with two deep verandahs, the residence of Mr. Severance, Sheriff of Hawaii.

Unlike many other places, Hilo is more fascinating on closer acquaintance, so fascinating that it is hard to write about it in plain prose. Two narrow roads lead up from the sea to one as narrow, running parallel with it. Further up the hill another runs in the same direction. There are no conveyances, and outside the village these lanes dwindle into bridle-paths, with just room for one horse to pass another. The houses in which Mr. Coan, Mr. Lyman, Dr. Wetmore (formerly of the Mission), and one or two others live, have just enough suggestion of New England about them to remind one of the dominant influence on these islands, but the climate has idealized them, and clothed them with poetry and antiquity.

Of the three churches, the most prominent is the Roman Catholic Church, a white frame building with two great towers; Mr. Coan's native church with a spire comes next; and then the neat little foreign church, also with a spire. The Romish Church is a rather noisy neighbour, for its bells ring at unnatural hours, and doleful strains of a band which cannot play either in time or tune proceed from it. The court-house, a large, buff, painted frame-building with two deep verandahs, standing on a well-kept lawn planted with exotic trees, is the most imposing building in Hilo. All the foreigners have carried out their individual tastes in their dwellings, and the result is very agreeable, though in picturesqueness they must yield the palm to the native houses, which, whether of frame, or grass plain or plaited, whether one or two storeyed, all have the deep thatched roofs and verandahs plain or fantastically latticed, which are in harmony with the surroundings.

These lattices and single and double verandahs are gorgeous with trailers, and the general warm brown tint of the houses contrasts artistically with the deep green of the bananas which overshadow them. There are living waters everywhere. Each house seems to possess a pure bright stream, which is arrested in bathing houses to be liberated among kalo patches of the brightest green. Every verandah appears a gathering place, and the bright holokus of the women, the gay shirts and bandanas of the men, the brilliant wreaths of natural flowers which adorn both, the hot-house temperature, the new trees and plants which demand attention, the rich odours, and the low monotonous recitative which mourns through the groves make me feel that I am in a new world. Ah, this is all Polynesian! This must be the land to which the  timid–eyed " lotus-eaters came. There is a strange fascination in the languid air, and it is strangely sweet "to dream of fatherland."

I. L. B.


Letter 4: Beauties of Hilo


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