EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF A VISITOR
William Shaw was an adventurer and a gold-seeker who travelled extensively throughout Australia, California and the Pacific Islands. His recollections were published in 1851 under the title of GOLDEN DREAMS and WAKING REALITIES.
The extract below describes his journey from San Francisco to Hawaii and his early impressions of Hawaii including the missionaries, government, the Hawaiian people and the American influence on Hawaii at this early time.
Having shipped a crew of six men at the rate of sixty dollars a month, paid to them on the capstan-head previous to sailing, we stood out to sea. There were six of us in the cabin; all of us without exception I believe glad to see the coast of California recede to view. As for myself, having been latterly fortune's foot-ball, struggling for an existence amongst strangers, and never truly comfortable, I could justly appreciate the comforts of a snug cabin and an excellent mess table. The monotony and confinement which many feel on ship-board, was to me luxurious repose, and as I laid down upon a mattrass for the first time for many months, and heard the dashing of the waves, and the wind and rain, without being exposed to them, I could not help congratulating myself on the amelioration of my condition: the past appeared as a fleeting dream; one of those trials in life intended to chasten our desires and cause us to reflect upon the condition of others less fortunate.
Relieved from a servile condition by the purely benevolent disposition of the officers of the Mazeppa, as I could not otherwise testify my deep sense of the obligation conferred on me, I gladly offered my services to the ship. Having some little knowledge of nautical matters, I was of some assistance to the chief officer in the absence of a second mate, taking charge of the stores, and other duties.
The forecastle, formerly inhabited by the Malay crew, being too dark and contracted for the American seamen, they occupied the adjoining space, which had been used as the fore-steerage. After leaving Francisco, we had heavy gales of wind, the Malay Tingul gradually grew worse, and there being no medical man on board, the medicine-book was our only resource; which, our knowledge of pharmacy being very limited, we consulted in vain for medicine suitable for for his complaint: his malady seemed to be a breaking up of the constitution, produced from Californian hardships, and beyond human aid. For three days the unfortunate sufferer kept up an incessant moaning, much to the discomfort of his neighbours. His only remaining countryman, Ali, who served as cabin servant, totally neglected the sick man, even omitting to provide him sustenance; when reproached for his inhumanity, Ali said "that if Mahomet chose to take him, nobody could, or ought, to prevent it." Ali resolutely declared that the desertion of sick people was his creed, but he probably had another reason for upholding fatalism; for, after the desertion of the Malay crew, who left their boxes and clothing behind them, he had come in for their effects, and packed away the most valuable portion in two of the strongest chests. Had the Tingul lived, he would very naturally have disputed the right of Ali to the property; therefore, it was not surprising that Ali did not regret the approaching death of one likely to claim an equal division of the spoils.
In company with the mate I visited the Tungul; one evening we perceived that a decided change had taken place; he breathed with difficulty, and feeling that his hour was at hand he faintly said in his language, that he had been "a very great sinner," and begged forgiveness of Allah: nor were his thanks to us omitted. His feet becoming cold as dissolution approached, wishing to omit no likely restorative, Ali was ordered, much to his annoyance, to fill some bottles with hot water to warm the patient; the villain even demurred to obey, so the kind-hearted mate, speechless with disgust at such hard-heartedness, cutting a colt from a piece of whale-line, gave the scoundrel four dozen lashes, thrashing him into the gallery, where he deputed me to see him prepare the water bottles, handling me a rattan to use at discretion. Our efforts, however, were useless: the death-rattle was heard and the Tingul was no more. Knowing from the nature of the disease that decomposition would speedily take place, we sowed up the corpse in the seaman's winding sheet, putting coals at the feet for want of shot; the night was intensely dark and stormy, and as we were bearing the corpse to the gang-way the ship rolled heavily, we stumbled over a rope and fell with our burden in the lea-scuppers; it was midnight, and the necessity of committing the body of a human being to the deep, amid the roaring of the storm, without a prayer or funeral obsequies - though the deceased was a Mussulman - impressed us all. For a month after the Malay's death, the superstitious Ali could not be prevailed upon to go down into the forecastle, for he believed the ghost of the departed would haunt the place during that period.
After a pleasant three weeks' passage, we sighted the lofty mountain of Moonah Roa in the Island of Owyhee, not having partaken of fresh meat and vegetables for a considerable period, we were glad to near a land where we could obtain these necessaries at a moderate cost.
We were steering about noon between two islands to make the Port of Honolulu, when a hurricane came on: an hour previous the weather had been fine and the water as smooth as a mill pond, when suddenly the sun became obscured and the waves rose tumultuously on every side; the clouds assumed a portentous aspect, and at intervals sharp gusts of winds swept by us. To let go the halyards and run out of channel was first thought of; but our old captain wisely resolved to keep under the lee of the land where he might lay to. No sooner had we stowed sails than a hurricane came on, consisting of a succession of heavy squalls from opposite quarters; the rigging straining and creaking, and the gusts bellowing like thunder. In about three hours the tempest subsided, but had we been exposed upon a lee shore we might have been wrecked.
The island we wished to go to was Woahoo, the principal of the group and the seat of government; at day-break, the following morning we found ourselves about ten miles off Honolulu, the port of the island. There were four vessels hove to, waiting to go in, and they seemed desirous for us to take the lead, as our vessel drew the least water, and would be the most manageable amongst the rocks and breakers of this iron-bound coast. Our commander had forty years sea experience; he had navigated vessels on the coast of India, the China seas and other dangerous ports, and few had a keener eye than him in detecting shoals and broken water. The present was an excellent opportunity for showing his seamanship, and though unacquainted with the port, without waiting for a pilot, he ordered all sail to be made, and led the van, the others following cautiously in our wake. Soon after crossing the bar, a cable was thrown over the side, and about fifty natives, who ran out to us open a long reef, catching hold of the hawser and pulling lustily at it, towed us in a good berth: dropping one anchor wide on the bow and the other under the ship's foot, we were prepared for the North East gales, and the swell which occasionally enters the bay.
Honolulu is prettily situated at the foot of some lofty mountains covered with verdure; to the left of the town is a fine valley well cultivated, up which a good view may be had; commanding the centre of the harbour is an elevated fort, constructed of coral reef, abutting into the water, and bristling with numerous cannon; the Hawaiian flat (which is composed of the British union, with bluer, red and white stripes repeated), waved over the fort. To the right of the fort is the fashionable and best built locality; a green award skirting the beach is dotted over with tasteful marine residences of the natives, while lofty cocoa-nut and plantain trees shed their cooling shade around, giving the place a most sylvan appearance. At the back, encompassed by gardens containing the most beautiful tropical shrubs, are the European villas: elegant houses, the architecture of many of which would do credit to an English watering-place. In their vicinity is the king's palace, which scarcely gives one the idea of its being the abode of the sovereign. Churches and chapels are very numerous; some of them as imposing and spacious as similar edifices in England. They were built at comparatively little expense, the missionaries procuring a state edict for the natives to work compulsatory until their completion; it was arduous work, blocks of coral reef having to be cut from the solid rock and transported to the site.
The business locality is in the centre of the town: the streets are laid down very systematically, and many handsome and well furnished shops have been latterly established. Hotels are numerous, some of them are fine buildings, constructed upon a most extensive scale, with large bowling alleys and billiard rooms; affording he luxury, style and attendance required by the wealthy. Facing the central wharf is the native market, where fruit, vegetables, eggs and poultry, can be obtained. To suit the requirements of the age, a handsomer market-place of stone was being built, with colonnades and stalls, similar to Covent Garden: the new market, from its elegance of design, will be a great ornament to the town. The Custom-home, a spacious stone building is near the fort; the strictest regulations respecting imports and exports are observed, and the duties imposed upon vessels seemed a general source of complaint. There is a numerous staff of custom-house officers, all either English or American; I became acquainted with several, and found them well educated and gentlemanly: they are so vigilant that it would be difficult to defraud the revenue without detection.
The harbour of Honolulu is the favourite resort of South Sea whalers, and the Hudson's Bay Company's ships; there were about forty vessels, chiefly American, lying there. Commodious wharfs have lately been built, admitting ships of seven hundred tons to re-fit alongside them. Whilst we were in port, a large merchantman abreast of one of these wharfs, for want of proper tackling, careened over, crushing several men who were working in the hold; by the aid of cranes and pullies she was righted, though considerable damage was done to her cargo.
The island of Woahoo is mostly well-cultivated; and, considering the little opportunity the Kanakas have had to become acquainted with scientific farming, they show considerable skill and perseverance in their mode of agriculture. The soil of Woahoo being of an arid, thirsty nature, it is absolutely requisite to procure a constant supply of water for the irrigation, and where land fit the cultivation lies considerably above the level of rivers of currents, aqueducts are constructed, or other ingenious methods adopted to convey water to the soil: the taro which is their principal food, requires the most humid soil.
Since the discovery of the gold regions, the importance of Honolulu as an intermediate port, has been fully recognized. Vessels from China, the Eastern Archipelago, and the British colonies, usually touched here, as it is conveniently on their route; while American vessels rounding the Horn, carried west by the trade winds, to make a good offing for the port of Francisco, steer for the Sandwich Islands. Vessels returning westward, home-ward-bound revisit this group, and though bound for the Horn found it advantageous for the pocket and conducive to help to resort to this tropical group of islands where they can procure provisions at a moderate cost, and to renovate their health.
The Sandwich Islands have been styled by Californians the Madeira of the Pacific; the mild air and warm sun of the isles is indeed truly grateful to the invalid. Working laboriously at mid-day, exposed to a tropical sun, would not be agreeable to an European constitution; even in the hottest season however, the sea breezes are cooling, but early in the morning and evening are the favourable times for recreation. A walk in the environs, amid the shady groves and picturesque villas, reminds one very forcibly of India and its bungalows; the houses being built in a similar style to those in eastern climates, with verandahs and Venetian blinds: the rooms are particularly large and airy.
A large portion of the white population now consists of Californians, transitory visitors: coasters come in almost daily, bringing passengers from Francisco, and taking back a cargo of vegetables and stock; and as washing in Francisco costs eight dollars a dozen, it is common for a cargo of linen to be sent almost by every coaster to China or Woahoo, to be washed.
Crowds of sick and enfeebled men, who have amassed a few pounds of gold-dust at the sacrifice of their constitutions leave Francisco in the last stage of debility; numbers perish during the passage, but hundreds of these visitants are to be met with in Honolulu, ale, emaciated, and worn out: indeed you would imagine the town a large hospital, were it not for the reckless levity and dissipation of the gold-seekers. The vices of the gold-region having depraved their characters, drunkenness and gambling are fie, while their immorality and licentiousness, rendered more dangerous by the power of gold, are rapidly contaminating the naive population. The influx of profligate strangers, who have nothing but pleasure and luxurious indulgence in view, causes a great circulation of money, and the tradesmen of Honolulu are benefited by the profuse expenditure; shops filled with expensive commodities are seen in every direction, newly erected villas and taverns are immediately tenanted, while horses, carriages and other indications of wealth crowd the promenade.
But though beneficial to the trading community and landowners, the invalids from California have proved seriously detrimental to the interests of the original inhabitants. The increase of home consumption, and the exportations of the gold regions, being greatly disproportionate to the yearly produce, caused a scarcity of provisions, which with the quantity of gold suddenly thrown into circulation, made a great rise in prices. The Californians could easily afford any additional expenses but the poorer inhabitants of the country, being dependent upon their own exertions, those living upon limited incomes, found the necessaries of life rising in rice, without a proportionate rise in wages of labour and the value of property.
The ministers of Woahoo, mostly merchants and large landed proprietors, were eager to export the products of the country untaxed to the best market; capitalists, and agents for mercantile houses at Francisco, established themselves in Honolulu, buying up produce for exportation; so that the poorer classes of residents who could formerly live in abundance upon their means, now found themselves unable to purchase the food and comforts which they had previously enjoyed. The missionaries and others of limited income, on which they had hitherto lived in opulence, also found themselves in less affluent circumstance, and unable to live on their accustomed style. The markets were no longer filled with vegetables, fruits and delicacies accessible to the means of the poorest; as the vendors, sure of a demand, asked exorbitant prices, relying on the shipping, hotels and foreigners for customers. House rent and tavern charges rose to almost a Californian scale; advancing from three dollars a week to twenty, for board and lodging.
The missionaries were formerly the most influential en in the islands, and lived in comfort and affluence; most of them are American Sectarians over-zealous and half-educated. Had they confined themselves to the conversion and civilization of the natives, without interfering in politics, their labours would have been more beneficial and acceptable to the population: but many of them have made themselves notorious by neglecting their spiritual duties for temporal affairs; persuading the king to issue unpopular edicts, such as driving the natives to religious worship, compelling them to build churches, and undertake other works unremunerated, to the neglect of their household duties and respective callings. Their ascendancy in council is consequently now very inimportant; the natives, whom they formally held in thraldom, have, from their association with Europeans, become daily more estranged from their religious pastors. Captain Belcher confirms this statement in the following passage from his travels.
"To preserve their declining power they assiduously and artfully laboured to exclude commerce from the island, forbidding the culture of cotton, sugar and coffee, destroying several plantations, and declaring cultivation impious, where so many indigenous plants existed; and proposing heavy port dues, knowing that intercourse and trade must eradicate abuses, and eventually diminish their hold upon the king, to ingratiate themselves with whom, in his exalted position they permitted to commit sins and degradations without remonstrance on their part; and now, in their present fallen condition, they, doubtless, regret the sycophancy used to so little purpose."
The government of the Sandwich Islands is a limited and hereditary monarchy, under the joint protection of England, France and America. The present sovereign is Kamehameha III., who is the father of a numerous family, possessing a palace and yearly income of about fifteen hundred pounds for personal expenses, on which he is able to live and enjoy the "otium cum dignitate," A ministry consisting of a premier, secretary of state, minister of foreign affairs, and other dignitaries, compose the state council. Most of them being highly intelligent men, English or American, they administer the affairs of the Islands judiciously, and with becoming dignity; all measures of importance are deferentially submitted to the sanction of the king, but his majesty, being of a naturally indolent disposition, and inferior mental capacity to his councillors, seldom offers any opposition to their views. The other branches of government are established upon European principles: the judicial, postal, customs and police departments being well organized and managed by discreet functionaries. The army is greatly reduced, it having been found an unnecessary appendage to royalty and rather an expensive toy; I was not present at any field-day, but the few troops I saw, clothed in showy but diverse habiliments, had rather an undisciplined appearance: half of them were officers. The police is a most effective, and now a very requisite force; they wear a blue uniform, with a gold band to the cap, and are armed with a formidable brass knobbed staff: they were incessantly on the alert to prevent breaches of the peace and apprehend drunken brawlers, issuing from the numerous grog-shops; for notwithstanding the high duty on spirits they are accessible to most, and inebriety is frequent.
In 1849, the subject of spirit duty, and other supposed grievances of French subjects, gave rise to a serious misunderstanding between the French admiral and the Hawaiian government. Relying upon the justice of their cause, and the interposition of the English and American governments, the Hawaiian ministers refused to accede to the admiral's propositions, but offered to submit the question to the arbitration of foreign powers; this process being too tedious, and instant redress being refused, the French consul retired on board the fleet, and a force was sent ashore which entered the fort unopposed, and spiked the cannon: the king's yacht was also seized, and carried off by the squadron as an indemnification.
The term Kanaka is applied to the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands; the kanakas are for the most part a fine race of men, with well formed limbs, and in many instances, regular and prepossessing features; the colour of their skin is a deep olive. Civilization has effected a great improvement in their disposition; those brought up in Christian schools early imbibe religious principles, and many are good scholars, being able to read and write fluently in the native and European languages. The are numerous publications in the Hawaiian tongue, and the native translation of the Bible may be seen in the poorest hut.
The Kanaka citizens conform to European habits and costume; excellent mechanics and trustworthy servants are to be found among them. The chiefs dress like respectable Europeans, and from their decorous behaviour and discourse, you would not imagine them to be the descendants of the savages described so vividly by Cook. The natives adhere to their original form of habitation, which many foreigners prefer as more suitable to the climate. Their huts vary in size according to the station of the owner; they are usually of an oblong shape, and made of a frame-work of bamboo canes, and the high itched roofs being thatched with grass and plantain leaves, the saves slanting to within a short distance of the ground, they have a very picturesque appearance. These huts are waterproof in winter, and always cool in the summer; the interior is carpetted with mats of coloured grass; polished bamboo, closely laid and skilfully interwoven, make a most elegant ceiling. Sometimes the walls are decorated with 'tapa,' a species of native cloth made by the hand; serving as tapestry. At night, screens of mats are used for partitions; beds and linen are rather unfrequent; the pillows are the most extraordinary articles of furniture, resembling a smooth wooden roller raised on brackets three inches from the ground, the neck or head resting on the roller: the pillow at first feels somewhat strange, but it is conducive to repose, and cool for the head. While the rich foreigner lies restless on a feather bed and downy pillow, of a sultry night the native throws himself down upon the cool matting, and on his wooden pillow enjoys refreshing sleep. I slept several nights very comfortably upon mats and the wooden pillow, with a single blanket or a serape thrown over me.
The working people were receiving about three shillings a day. A European could not subsist on this pay, as the rate of boarding on the most economical principles averaged twenty-five and thirty shillings a week; but the native can live upon food which nothing but long usage could reconcile a white man to: it is termed 'poe,' and is made from the 'taro,' an indigenous root somewhat of the yam species. The taro, after being cleaned, is scraped till it becomes a glutinous mixture resembling a thick paste; it is then partially baked, and esteemed most palatable when acid from fermentation. Poe is usually eaten from a gourd, which is passed round to each person in succession, who dips into it his or her fore finger, and twisting it round, brings it out covered with the glutinous substance, which is sucked off, and the finger again inserted; they prefer this to using a spoon. The quantity of poe a native will eat at a sitting is marvellous, and the gorging capabilities of the chiefs are still more surprising. The taro when boiled is a very good substitute for a potatoe; but the poe I never could relish: its resemblance to starch or paste ma have been the reason of my repugnance; it is, however, the national dish, the staple food of the Kanakas, and is supposed to very nutritious.
'Ai paa' is another dish very common among them; it is a preparation of baked taro roots pounded into substance like damper; this food, when dry, will keep for a long time unimpaired, and it is carried with them on sea and land expeditions. The Kanakas are very partial to fish, preferring it to animal food many subsist almost entirely on muscles, shell-fish, crabs, and sea-weed, which they collect in calabashes from the reefs which stretch across the harbour: at low tide hundreds of both sexes may be seen wading in the water to collect what has washed up for their daily food. The fe or cuttle-fish is a luxury usually reserved for chiefs, who have reservoirs inland where fish is brought them from the sea. Formerly, pigs, fowls, vegetables, and fruits were plentiful, and the daily food of the natives; what are not exported are now almost exclusively monopolized for the tables of the rich: the poorest natives use the sorrel ulva, and other common herbs.
Drinking has become the prevailing vice; but owing to the prohibition of spirits for native use, and the price of it (like that of most other commodities) being beyond their means, the Kanakas illicitly distil a spirit which they call 'kava,' from the root of the 'Ti' shrub, which has saccharine properties; this liquor not only produces intoxication, but after a period brings on the nervous debility of opium eaters. Drinking, and other vitiating habits, introduced by the Californians, have produced many European diseases which are decimating the native population; indolence and effeminacy are likewise growing un them: the active exercises which their ancestors were accustomed to, are now discarded.
Cutaneous eruptions are very prevalent; probably attributable to a change of diet, and to a neglect of those constant bodily ablutions they used formerly to indulge in.
Notwithstanding the missionary teaching and preaching, the immorality of the Kanakas is a notorious trait in their character: vice is too universal for any to throw a stone at their neighbour; revelry and licentiousness are indulged, therefore, without the slightest condemnation or fear of censure; and a love of dollars now predominates over every other consideration. Promiscuous intercourse of the sexes has naturally produced a yearly decrease in the population. I is asserted that the Hawaiian women do not appreciate the maternal functions, and are averse to the trouble of bringing up their infants; how far this charge is correct I am not prepared to say, but the paucity of off-spring and the inattention of women to young children are evident to all.
The Hawiian women surpass in beauty and symmetry of form, the inhabitants of the other Polynesian islands: their complexion is lighter than the men's from less exposure; their features are in general regular, their countenances having rather a licentious expression, while even teeth, large eyes, and a profusion of black hair, perfumed and ornamented with wreaths of flowers, give them an attractive appearance. Half-castes are numerous and resemble the Castilain race, or rather what would be termed in England 'brunettes.' Intermarriage of white men with the Kanaka women is not unfrequent, and the European fathers give to their olive children a liberal education. Considerable jealousy exists at balls and public entertainments, between the Anglo-Saxon ladies and the half-caste damsels the preference in many instances shown the latter, may perhaps be attributed to their superior vivacity; the coldness and reserve of European women veiling their superior qualities.
Unsuccessful attempts have been made to exclude the daughters of Hawaia from society; but coteries composed exclusively of white ladies were not much resorted to by the male sex. Amongst the elite of society, however, certain distinctions are rigorously observed, and the Woahoo aristocracy is probably as select (comparatively speaking) as that in older countries; but amongst the trading community, and in mixed company, I believe the distinctions of caste are not observed.
The Hawaiian belles are very partial to equestrian exercises; of an evening it is a novel and attractive sight to see them mounted on fiery steeds, galloping along the promenades, sitting astride (side saddles not being in vogue), wearing riding-habits, with perhaps a blue body and red skirts, and instead of hat or bonnets, a wreath of roses round their heads, their long raven locks tastefully arranged and hanging loose over the shoulders, giving them a theatrical appearance.
Honolulu has a very pretty theatre, conducted by amateur performers under the especial patronage of government; it is divided into a pit, boxes and dress circle, the price of admission about the same as in English theatres. I was there on one occasion when the king and his minister were present; the it was mostly filled with English emigrants and American sailors, belonging to vessels in port, and the Kanaka working class; the boxes were chiefly occupied by the officers of vessels, the trading community, and government officers; the beau monde being visible in the dress circle.
The ladies were principally American and Hawaiian, the latter presenting a striking contrast in dress and manner, as well as in colour, to their paler sisters; the American ladies were studiously neat and demure, the Hawaiian women being gorgeously attired, and full of animation: garlands and wreaths of flowers decorated their flowing tresses, which were strongly perfumed with the essence of sweet herbs; most wore dresses and scarfs of China silks ornamented with trinkets, and carried fans of brilliant feathers in their hands. The theatre, though well-ventilated, was oppressively hot; and the native, canaille, who were among the spectators in the pit, distressed the olfactory nerves of the audience in the boxes exceedingly; the cooling action of the ladies' fans in the dress circle wafting the effluvia arising from the pit towards us at the back of them.
The play was Richard III., and though Shakespeare's rules for good acting were not observed, thunders of applause greeted the performers. I really pitied Richard, whose exertions were enough to have melted a jockey down to any required weight; he was incessantly applying a handkerchief to absorb the perspiration that poured from him. During he performance King Kamehameha maintained a sober gravity, seeming very attentive to the play; only exhibiting surprise when some Sydney emigrants whistled cat-calls, pelted orange-peel, and created other disturbances common to the gallery audiences of an English theatre.
American influence is very strong in Honolulu, most of the shops are kept by Americans and Chinese. Three newspapers are established, and during my sojourn politics raged very high; some advocating that the Sandwich Islands should be admitted into the Union, and styled the state of Hawaia. This annexation mania could not have been very gratifying to the king; but if the influx of foreigners from California proceeds as it has done, American influence must nullify the regal prerogative, and may ultimately overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy.
Numbers of whalers visit this port to refit, and the Kanakas being tolerable sailors, many have been pressed on board these ships, and owing to ill-treatment, deserted at foreign ports. To arrest the rapid depopulation of the islands, a law was passed forbidding the shipment of natives without the consent of government; the present law enjoins that the captain of the vessel should guarantee, at the expiration of a stated time, to convey or send back the natives to the islands whence he shipped them. Whaling vessels being notorious for harsh discipline, able seamen in European ports can seldom be persuaded to sign articles on board them, and consequently the worst of characters are usually to be found in this service. I have heard whaling officers say that they seldom expected to take a full compliment of seamen, but usually took with them numerous hands little acquainted with the sea, who were shipped on board by crimps; and that these green-horns, once again on shore, rarely desired to take another trip.
American citizens certainly enjoy very great privileges; liberty and equality to the fullest extent, ashore. At sea, however, it is otherwise: on board ship, republican principles and the rights of man are totally disregarded; the most iron-handed despotism and tyrannical usage being sometimes exercised over them by their fellow-countrymen, for which they have little redress: flogging is a frequent practice on board American whalers. The scale of rations may be better than in English ships, but an English merchantman with its dog-biscuits is, I should think preferable to a Yankee whaler with its scars and stripes.
A mutiny occurred on board one of them whilst we were in port; the mates, great strapping fellows, assisted by the cook and carpenter, cleared the decks of the mutineers with huge handspikes. One of the crew was a most incorrigible rascal; he attempted to set the ship on fire; and we found out when we were at sea, that we had shipped the identical fellow as a seaman.
The crew we had shipped at Francisco were what is termed runners; that is to say, men who receive a certain sum for their services to a stated port; as they were paid on the capstan-head they were very independent, only working when it was absolutely necessary, such as making and taking in sail; so that on dropping anchor, we were not sorry to see these gentlemen walk over the side. In most ports there are certain men called lumberers, who work in gangs, discharging and taking in cargos; for this purpose we engaged eight Kanakas.
Our little vessel, the Mazeppa, was noted for her hospitality and good living; and as numerous colonial vessels were in Honolulu, their officers, knowing the Mazeppa's either personally or by report, often visisted us. The Victoria, a large Sydney vessel, had upwards of two hundred passengers bound for the gold regions; man of whom expected to find gold-dust oozing out of the pockets of those who had been to California. The Cheerful, another Sydney vessel, anchored on our beam, had a most disorderly set of passengers; at night, when all else was still, I could hear the voices of drunken men and women quarrelling for hours. The Cheerful's were noted in the harbour: 'there goes a Cheerful,' was the usual observation when any of them appeared.
During my stay in Honolulu the weather was beautifully fine, seldom too hot, and never too cold; during the day putting the vessel in order would occupy our attention but in the cool of the evening, if we had not company on board, we would take a stroll ashore, and visit the taverns, bowling-rooms and billiard tables; or perambulate the streets and shady groves by moonlight, watching the dancing, which is a favourite pastime with the Kanakas; then with a supply of eggs, fruit, and other delicacies from the market, we would return on board.
The superstitious Malay, Ali, who was always left guardian of the ship in our absence, rejoiced at our return; under his expert hands, supper was speedily prepared, and then we made merry with punch. Thus we passed our time, basking in the sunshine of the tropics, and drying the Californian wet out of our bones. The Mazeppa's supercargo and mate kept up the ship's credit for conviviality: few men could do the honours of the table better than they did; and as the swinging tray was never without its complement of full bottles, visitors were numerous at all hours.
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