JOTTINGS FROM A TRAVELLER’S JOURNAL.
Prom Ashburton to Auckland. — Aboard the City of New York, Bound for tub Sandwich Islands. — —Life at Sea—How we Got Through the Time.—Honolulu.—A Crater Nine Miles in Circumference. A Transformation. King Kalakaua. Newspapers. Telephones.—The “Royal Band.” —Off to San Francisco, According to promise, Mr Editor, I commence “ Jottings from my Journal,” hoping to supply you, from time, with information that may interest and entertain your readers, and induce them to look with some pleasurable anticipations for my periodical communications. Assuming that you have abundant opportunities of "knowing what transpires in the various settlements of New Zealand, I shall pass over all the incidents of my journey northwards from Ashburton, and commence from the time I took my departure from the “ Britain of the South.” I left Auckland in the mail steamer
City of New York on Tuesday, 23rd of April, and got clear of the harbor about 4 p.m. The following day the wind freshened, and by night-fall it blew “great guns. 1 ’ The motion of the steamer was anything but agreeable, and there was a beggarly account of empty chairs at the breakfast table the ensuing morning. Some passengers made heroic attempts to appear unaffected by mal de mer, and ventured to commence the matutinal meal; but before they had swallowed many mouthfuls, they were constrained to beat a hasty retreat, and were seen no more that day. But after a while the wind moderated, and the sea went down, and the deck was no longer a comparative solitude. Passengers, heretofore unseen, swarmed like bees in the sunshine after a heavy shower. Interchanges of courtesy soon thawed the icy forms of non-acqu lintance, and the feeling of compulsory companionship warmed into sociability. Ere long the utmost harmony prevailed, and all sorts of amusements were got up under the auspices of a‘ ‘ Combination Committee. ’’ Calcutta sweeps for those of sporting proclivities; concerts for the musical, and as we had the members of the Boston Quintette Club on board, the musical evenings were a great treat. Besides the professionals we were fortunate in having several amateurs who displayed great talent. On certain evenings of the week there were recitations and mock trials for the patrons of burlesque. And every Saturday the publication of Cohh Corn, a newspaper bearing that significant title, and containing an amusing medley of contributions in poetry and prose was read aloud. On Sundays divine service was conducted, morning and evening in the Social Hall, by a Congregational minister who was amongst the passengers. Thus the monotony of the voyage was relieved. On Monday, June sth, land was seen ; and about 5.30 p.m. we passed through the narrow channel between the coral reefs, and were soon alongside the wharf at Honolulu. This Oriental looking settlement has been aptly described as a “City in a grove.” The foliage and the flora embowering the dwellings outside the commercial centre, are exquisitely beautiful, and the general appearance of the place, as seen from the sea, is parfectly enchanting. A notice was posted that the steamer would got under weigh again at 5 a m. the next morning, and as some few hundred tons of sugar, besides a variety of stores, had to be taken on board, you may imagine the bustle that prevailed during the interval. Sleep was out of the question. By the light of flambeau s, native hucksters displayed their various wares, and solicited the patronage of the passengers. There weie fruits of various kinds, and ornaments consisting i of bracelets, bags, and other knick-knacks made of dark shining seeds, and looking very pretty, though of small intrinsic i value. Kanakas were busy putting "cargo i on board with loud discordant voicfes. ' Visitors from the citjr were coming and going continually, the chaffering of the traders, the shouts and unintelligible ; chattering of the workmen, with the thun- ; dering noise of the trollies combined to make a din that would have been distressing had it not been amusing to a “ new chum.”
' I did not spend much time on the wharf, but, through the kindness of a friend, was enabled to take a drive round the city, noting what struck me as remarkable, and gathering as much general information as possible. The Sandwich Islands lie between ISdeg 55min, and 22deg 15min north latitude, and between 154 deg 42min and IGOdeg 32min west longitude. They rest upon, and are near the southern extremity of one of the plateaus of the Pacific Sea bottom, where the depth is, in places, not more or even less than 1,000 fathoms ; and are, in fact, the terminal peaks of the plateau. The formation of the entire group is volcanic ; and the constant eruptions at Kilolea are grand and terrific beyond adequate description. I regret I could not spare time to visit the island on which the great natural furnaces are burning. But the unavoidable detention of a mouth would have disarranged my plans. I was reluctantly compelled to give up the idea. But I was told by a gentleman who joned us at Honolulu, and who had just made a tour of the islands, that he had stood on the brink of a crater nine miles in circumference, and looked down into the huge basin at the bottom of which masses of molten lava dashed to and fro, beating against the sides like billows of liquid fire; while every now and then fire columns were spouted up from the abyss to an amazing height! It was in the year 1820, that the first Missionaries landed on the Sandwich Islands; and at that time the natives were in a state of barbarism. What a transformation has been effected during the interval of sixty-two years ! It is almost marvellous. Mainly owing to the wisdom and sagacity of the Missionaries, the transition from barbarism to civilisation, and the rapid progress of colonisation have been accomplished without the quarrels and bloodshed that tarnish the histories of some of the colonies of Australasia. The Sandwich Islands now constitute a kingdom under Kalakaua 1., who is a highly cultured man, and has but recently returned from a tour round the world. There is a liberal constitution, a code of laws, a Supreme Court, a post office, custom house with fiscal regulations, municipal authorities, and all the concomitants of an advanced stage of civilisation. The commerce of the kingdom is great, and annually becoming greater. Originally, sandal was the chief article of trade, but the forests have been denuded of this valuable timber, and, consequently, this branch of trade has become extinct. Then the frequent visits of whaling ships putting in to refit, promoted a lucrative business. But the gradual decay of this industry in the North Pacific and the Arctic seas has reduced this branch of commerce also to very small dimensions. Sugar, coffee, and rice, are now the staples. I was not able to obtain statistics brought down to date, but the following reliable data showing the exports during the first half of the year 1880, will give some idea of the extent of the commerce. From January to June, 1880, there were exported—37,69s,Bo9lbs of sugar; 69,973ga1s i of molasses; 1,879,0401ba of rice ; 68,4921 bs of coffee; 10 tons of salt; 30 bundles of poi ; 12,8401bs of fungus ; 9,804 bundles of bananas ; 10,720 parcels of goat-skins ; 9,151 parcels of hides ; 80 parcels of calf skins ; G,9Bolbs of tallow; 28,0321ba of pula ; 11,6531bs of wool ; 840 gals of rum ; 86 boxes of betel leaves ; 27,5'251bs of peanuts. Aggregating the value of 2,721,003 dols. The production of sugar bidf fair to distance all other branches of industry. There is one plantation of comparatively recent origin, which turns out seventy-five tons of sugar daily ! Two years ago, there were eleven establishments on the Island of Kawai alone, having the control partly by fee simple and partly by of 68,734 acres of land, and producing 7,456 tons of sugar. The interval of two years has materially augmented the produce of all these establishments, and as they are confined to a single Island, and the growth of cane and manufacture of sugar prevail, more or less, throughout the group, the magnitude of this branchof industry is clearly shown. I was credibly informed that the yield of sugar throughout the kingdom this year, will not be less than 42,000 tons ! The population of Honolulu and its vicinity is estimated at 14,000, and comprises representatives from almost every clime and country under heaven. The Chinese are very numerous, and some of them very wealthy, and, as in other places, they are gradually monopolising some
branches of trade and industry. The aborigines are rapidly decreasing—l was told as many as 1,000 every year. Owing to this large areas of land once devoted to the growth of taro became waste. These ribglected tracts of the richest soil are now in the hands of Chinamen, who produce rice of a quality that commands the highest price in the neighboring American market. I think it probable that at no very distant date the Celestials will overrun the Polynesian Archipelago and gradually supplant the aboriginal races. There are several newspapers published at Honolulu—two dailies, I think, and several weekly, one being entirely in the native language, and another partly English and partly native. There is also a religious journal, “ The Record,” published monthly. In telephonic communication Honolulu is in advance of every place I have yet visited. Almost all the houses of business in the city, and very many of the private residences in the suburbs have telephones. The system is under a_ joint stock company, and is managed with- W much certainty and regularity as a supply of gas. Every telephone—or rather every house to which a telephone is attached—is numbered, and all the wires converger at the central' office of the company. Practically this is the way it works: Mrs A., of No. 10, is too busy or too lazy to go out and personally select the joint for dinner; she has only to sound the attention signal at the central office, and say, “ Connect me with No. 26.” This wire leads to her butcher’s, aud when the connection is made, which is but the work of a moment, she can say, “Mr Brisket,; . send me a saddle of mutton immediately.” Thus a transaction is negotiated in a few moments, which, by the ordinary method, would require considerable time, and in- | volve much personal fatigue. The company undertake to supply the aud for the moderate charge «f four dollars per week any resident may have a telephone fitted to his house. Time and space would alike fail me to describe all the signs of progress I observed. I might dwell on the useful labors of the Hawaiian Evangelical Society. and on the influence for good of the - Young Men’s Christian Association. But I will merely add that merchants have their Chamber of Commerce, and as many as four clubs are supported by *he residents and visitors. Nor are the fine art* neglected. Herr Berger has established and still conducts au amateur musical society, whose concerts are higlfly spoken . of; aud the same talented enthusiast has . trained the Royal Hawaiian Band to such a degree of perfection that I know of no 1 performers in the Southern hemisphere who could excel King Kalakaua’s inusi- : cians. ■ vi.
The clock indicated the “ wee hours bey out the twal' ’"before I got back to the wharf. There was the same busy scene, the bright moonlight making everything more plainly visible. At last the cargo was all shipped, and .by the time the purser and freight-c’erk had finished their business it was broad daylight. *The tropical landscape appeared in all the beauteous freshness of early morning, and I feasted my eyes on the lovely view, jvhile active preparations were making for getting utlder weigh. By six o’clock-we were steaming away for the Golden Gate, the island of Oahu, on which. Honolulu is situated, soon appearing only in dim blue outline on the distant horizon. Till I reach San Francisco 1 bid you farewell. "Viator.
Permanent link to this item
JOTTINGS FROM A TRAVELLER’S JOURNAL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 702, 31 July 1882
JOTTINGS FROM A TRAVELLER’S JOURNAL. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 702, 31 July 1882
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.