A few facts
concerning the Hawaiian islands may serve to supplement the deficiencies
of the previous letters. The group is an hereditary and constitutional
monarchy. There is a House of Nobles numbering twenty members, appointed
by the Crown. The House of Representatives consists of not less than
twenty-four, or more than forty members elected biennially. The
Legislature fixes the number, and apportions the same. The Houses sit
together, and constitute the Legislative Assembly. The property
qualification for a representative is, real estate worth $500, or an
annual income of $250 from property, and that for an elector is an
annual income of $75. The Legislators are paid, and the expense of a
session is about $15,000. There are three cabinet ministers appointed by
the Crown, of the Interior, Finance, and Foreign Affairs respectively,
and an Attorney-General, who may be regarded as a minister of justice.
There is a Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and two associate
justices, and there are circuit and district judges on all the larger
islands, as well as sheriffs, prisons, and police. There is a standing
army of sixty men, mainly for the purposes of guard duty, and rendering
assistance to the police.
The question of "how
to make ends meet" sorely exercises the little kingdom. All sorts of
improvements involving a largely increased outlay are continually urged,
while at the same time the burden of taxation presses increasingly
heavily, and there is a constant clamour for the removal of some of the
most lucrative imposts. Indeed, the Hawaiian dog, with his tax and his
"tag," is seldom out of the Legislative Assembly. What may be termed the
per capita taxes are, an annual poll tax of one dollar levied on each
male inhabitant between the ages of seventeen and sixty, an annual road
tax of two dollars upon all persons between seventeen and fifty, and an
annual school tax of two dollars upon all persons between twenty-one and
sixty. There is a direct tax upon property of 1/2 per cent, upon its
valuation, and specific taxes of a dollar on every horse above two years
old, and a dollar and a half on each dog. Of the $206,000 raised by
internal taxes during the last biennial period, the horses paid $50,000,
the mules $6,000, and the dogs $19,000!
The indirect taxation
in the shape of customs duties amounted to $350,000 in the same period.
The poor Hawaiian does not know the blessing of a "Free Breakfast
The islands are large
importers. The value of imported goods was $1,184,054 in 1875, on which
the Hawaiian Treasury received $213,285 as customs duties. Forty-seven
thousand dollars' worth of ale, porter, cider, and light wines, and
forty-nine thousand dollars' worth of spirits, show that the foreign
population of 6000 is more than sufficiently bibulous. The Chinamen,
about 2000 in number, are, or ought to be, responsible for $22,000 worth
of opium j and the $42,000 worth of tobacco and cigars is doubtless
distributed pretty equally over all the nationalities. Twenty-one
thousand gallons of spirits were taken out of bond for consumption in
1875. The licenses to sell spirits brought $18,000 into the Treasury in
the last biennial period, but those for the sale of awa and opium
brought in $55,000 during the same time. These licenses are confined to
There are two
interesting items of customs receipts, a sum of $924, the proceeds of
a per capita tax of two dollars levied on passengers landing on the
islands, for the support of the Queen's Hospital, and a sum of $1477,
the proceeds of a tax levied on seamen for the support of the Marine
Hospital. There is a sum of $700 for passports, as no Hawaiian or
stranger can leave the kingdom without an official permit.
There are 51 vessels
registered under the Hawaiian flag, of which 35 are coasters, and 16
engaged in foreign freighting and whaling.
The value of domestic
exports, in 1875, was $1,774,082. Among these bananas, pineapples, pulu,
cocoanuts, oranges, limes, sandal-wood, tamarinds, betel leaves, sharks'
fins, paiai, whale oil, sperm oil, cocoanut oil, and whalebone. Among
other commodities there was exported, 165,000 lbs. of coffee,
45,000 lbs. of fungus, 21,000 lbs. of peanuts, 1,573,000 lbs. of rice,
556,000 lbs. of paddy, 22,000 packages of hides, 60,000 goat-skins,
13,000 horns, and 851,000 lbs. of tallow. The imports, in 1875, amounted to
$1,184,054. The expense of "keeping things going" on the islands for the
two years ending March 1st, 1874, amounted to $1,193,276, but this
included the funeral expenses of two kings, as well as of two extra
sessions of the Legislature, which amounted to $42,000. The decrease in
the revenue for the same period amounted to $45,000. The items of
Hawaiian expenditure were as follows:—
Permanent Settlements, Queen Emma
Legislature and Privy Council
Extra Legislative Expenses
Department of the Judiciary
Department of Foreign Affairs and War
Department of the Interior
Department of Finance
Department of the Attorney-General
Bureau of Public Instruction
The balance on hand in the Treasury, March 31st
That, under the head
Finance, includes the interest on borrowed money. The funded national
debt is $340,000. Of this sum a portion bears no stated interest, only
such as may arise from the very dubious profits of the Hawaiian hotel.
The interest charges are 12 per cent, on $25,000, and 9 per cent. on
$272,000. The estimates for the present biennial period involve a large
increase of debt. The present financial position of the kingdom is, an
increasing expenditure and a decreasing revenue. The statistics of the
Judiciary Department for the last two years present a few features of
interest. There were 4000 convictions out of 5764 cases brought before
the courts, equal to a fourteenth part of the population. The total
number of offences in the category is 125. Of these some are decidedly
local. Thus, for "furnishing intoxicating liquors to Hawaiians" 92
persons were punished; for "exhibition of Hula," 10; for "selling awa
without licence," 12; for "selling opium without licence," 24. It is not
surprising to those who know the habits of the people, that the
convictions for violations of the marriage tie, though greatly
diminished, should reach the number of 384, while under the head
"Deserting Husbands and Wives," 67 convictions are recorded. For "practising
medicine without a licence," 56 persons were punished; for "furious
riding," 197; for "cruelty to animals," 37; for "gaming," 121; for
"gross cheating," 32; for "violating the Sabbath," 61. We must remember
that the returns include foreigners and Chinamen, or else the reputation
for "harmlessness" which Hawaiians possess would suffer seriously when
we read that within the last two years there were 178 convictions for
"assault," 248 for "assault and battery," 12 for "assaults with
dangerous weapons," 49 for "affray," 674 for "drunkenness," 87 for
"disturbing quiet of the night," and 13 for "murder." Yet the number of
criminal cases has largely diminished, and taking civil and criminal
together, there has been a decrease of 656 for the last biennial period,
as compared with that immediately preceding it.
The administration of
justice is confessedly one of the most efficient departments of Hawaiian
affairs. Chief Justice Allen, both as a lawyer and a gentleman, is
worthy to fill the highest position in his native country (America), and
the Associate Justices, as well as the native and foreign judges
throughout the islands, are highly esteemed for honour and uprightness.
I never heard an uttered suspicion of venality or unfairness against
anyone of them, and apparently the Judiciary Department of Hawaii
deserves the same confidence which we repose in our own.
System has been carefully modelled, and is carried out with tolerable
efficiency. Eighty-seven per cent, of the whole school population are
actually at school, and the inspector of schools states that a person
who cannot read and write is rarely met with. Each common school is
graded into two, three, or four classes, according to the intelligence
and proficiency of the pupils, and the curriculum of study is as
mental and written arithmetic, geography, penmanship, and composition.
mental arithmetic, geography, penmanship.
first principles of arithmetic, penmanship.
Class IV.—Primer, use
of slate and pencil.
The youngest children
are not classified until they can put letters together in syllables.
Vocal music is taught
wherever competent teachers are found.
The total sum
expended on education, including the grants to "family" and other
schools, is about $40,000 a year.
It has been remarked
that the rising race of Hawaiians has an increased contempt for industry
in the form of manual labour, and it is proposed by the Board of
Education that such labour shall be made a part of common school
education, so that on both girls and boys a desire to provide for their
own wants in an honest way shall be officially inculcated. There is a
Government Reformatory School, and industrial and family schools for
both girls and boys are scattered over the islands. The supply of
literature in the vernacular is meagre, and few of the natives have an
intelligent comprehension of English.
The group has an area
of about 4,000,000 acres, of which about 200,000 may be regarded as
arable, and 150,000 as specially adapted for the culture of sugar-cane.
Sugar, the great staple production, gives employment in its cultivation
and manufacture to nearly 4000 hands. Only a fifteenth part of the
estimated arable area is under cultivation. Over 6000 natives are
returned as the possessors of Kuleanas or freeholds, but many of these
are heavily mortgaged. Many of the larger lands are held on lease from
the crown or chiefs, and there are difficulties attending the purchase
of small properties.
Almost all the roots
and fruits of the torrid and temperate zones can be grown upon the
islands, and the banana, kalo, yam, sweet potato, cocoanut, breadfruit,
arrowroot, sugar cane, strawberry, raspberry, whortleberry, and native
apple, are said to be indigenous.
* The schools of the Kingdom are as follows:
Government Boarding Schools
Government Hawaiian-English Day Schools
Subsidized Boarding Schools
Subsidized Day Schools
Independent Boarding Schools
Independent Day Schools
The indigenous fauna
is small, consisting only of hogs, dogs, rats, and an anomalous bat
which flies by day. There are few insects, except such as have been
imported, and these, which consist of centipedes, scorpions,
cockroaches, mosquitos, and fleas, are happily confined to certain
localities, and the two first have left most of their venom behind them.
A small lizard is abundant, but snakes, toads, and frogs have not yet
effected a landing.
The ornithology of
the islands is scanty. Domestic fowls are supposed to be indigenous.
Wild geese are numerous among the mountains of Hawaii, and plovers,
snipe, and wild ducks, are found on all the islands. A handsome owl,
called the owl-hawk, is common. There is a paroquet with purple
feathers, another with scarlet, a woodpecker with variegated plumage of
red, green, and yellow, and a small black bird with a single yellow
feather under each wing.
Hawaii is still in
process of construction, and is subject to volcanic eruptions,
earthquakes, and tidal waves. Hurricanes are unknown, and thunderstorms
are rare and light.
circumstances of moisture the soil is most prolific, and "patch
cultivation" in glens and ravines, as well as on mountain sides,
produces astonishing results. A Kalo patch of forty square feet will
support a man for a year. An acre of favourably situated land will grow
a thousand stems of bananas, which will produce annually ten tons of
fruit. The sweet potato flourishes on the most unpromising lava, where
soil can hardly be said to exist, and in good localities produces 200
barrels to the acre. On dry light soils the Irish potato grows anyhow
and anywhere, with no other trouble than that of planting the sets. Most
vegetable dyes, drugs, and spices can be raised. Forty diverse fruits
present an overflowing cornucopia. The esculents of the temperate zones
flourish. The coffee bush produces from three to five pounds of berries
the third year after planting. The average yield of sugar is two and a
half tons to the acre. Pineapples grow like weeds in some districts, and
water melons are almost a drug. The bamboo is known to grow sixteen
inches in a day. Wherever there is a sufficient rainfall, the earth
teems with plenty.
Yet the Hawaiian
Islands can hardly be regarded as a field for emigration, though nature
is lavish, and the climate the most delicious and salubrious in the
world. Farming, as we understand it, is unknown. The dearth of
insectivorous birds seriously affects the cultivation of a soil
naturally bounteous to excess. The narrow gorges in which terraced
"patched cultivation" is so successful, offer no temptations to a man
with the world before him. The larger areas require labour, and labour
is not to be had. Though wheat and other cereals mature, attacks of
weevil prevent their storage, and all the grain and flour consumed are
imported from California.
Cacao, cinnamon, and
allspice, are subject to an apparently ineradicable blight. The blight
which has attacked the coffee shrub is so severe, that the larger
plantations have been dug up, and coffee is now raised by patch culture,
mainly among the guava scrub which fringes the forests. Oranges suffer
from blight also, and some of the finest groves have been cut down.
Cotton suffers from the ravages of a caterpillar. The mulberry tree,
which, from its rapid growth, would be invaluable to silk growers, is
covered with a black and white blight. Sheep are at present very
successful, but in some localities the spread of a pestilent "oat-burr"
is depreciating the value of their wool. The forests, which are
essential to the well-being of the islands, are disappearing in some
quarters, owing to the attacks of a grub, as well as the ravages of
yams, sweet potatoes, kalo, and breadfruit, the staple food of the
native population, are free from blight, and so are potatoes and rice.
Beef cattle can be raised for almost nothing, and in some districts beef
can be bought for the cent or two per pound which pays for the cutting
up of the carcass. Every one can live abundantly, and without the “sweat
of the brow," but few can make money, owing to the various forms of
blight, the scarcity of labour, and the lack of a profitable market.
There is little
healthy activity in any department of business. The whaling fleet has
deserted the islands. A general pilikia prevails. Settlements are
disappearing, valley lands are falling out of cultivation, Hilo grass
and guava scrub are burying the traces of a former population. The
natives are rapidly diminishing,* the old industries are abandoned, and
the inherent immorality of the race, the great outstanding cause of its
decay, still resists the influence of Christian teaching and example.
civilization is having a fair trial on these islands. With, the
exception of the serious maladies introduced by foreigners in the early
days, and the disastrous moral influence exercised by worthless whites,
the Hawaiians have suffered none of the wrongs usually inflicted on the
feebler by the stronger race. Their rights were in the first instance
carefully secured to them, and have since been protected by equal laws,
righteously administered. They have been aided towards independence in
political matters, and the foreigners who framed the laws and
constitution, and have directed Hawaiian affairs, such as Richards, Lee,
Judd, Allen, and Wyllie, were men above reproach; and missionary
influence, of all others the most friendly to the natives, has
predominated for fifty years.
The effects of
missionary labour have been scarcely touched upon in the foregoing
letters, and here, in preference to giving any opinion of my own, I
quote from Mr. R. H. Dana, an Episcopalian, and a barrister of the
highest standing in America, well known in this country by his writings,
who sums up his investigations on the Sandwich Islands in the following
dispassionate words: "It is no small thing to say of the missionaries of
the American Board, that in less than forty years they have taught this
whole people to read and to write, to cipher and to sew. They have given
them an alphabet, grammar, and dictionary; preserved their language from
extinction; given it a literature, and translated into it the Bible, and
works of devotion, science, and entertainment, &c. They have established
schools, reared up native teachers, and so pressed their work, that now
the proportion of inhabitants who can read and write is greater than in
New England. And whereas they found these islanders a nation of
half-naked savages, living in the surf and on the sand, eating raw fish,
fighting among themselves, tyrannized over by feudal chiefs, and
abandoned to sensuality, they now see them decently clothed, recognizing
the law of marriage, knowing something of accounts, going to school and
public worship more regularly than the people do at home, and the more
elevated of them taking part in conducting the affairs of the
constitutional monarchy under which they live, holding seats on the
judicial bench and in the legislative chambers, and filling posts in the
If space permitted,
the testimony of "Mark Twain," given in "Roughing It," might be added to
the above, and the remaining missionaries may well point to the visible
results of their labours, with the one word Circumspice!