The Project Gutenberg EBook of Following the Equator, Part 1 by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Following the Equator, Part 1 Author: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) Release Date: June 23, 2004 [EBook #5808] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR, PART 1 *** Produced by David Widger
The Party—Across America to Vancouver—On Board the Warrimo—Steamer Chairs-The Captain-Going Home under a Cloud—A Gritty Purser—The Brightest Passenger—Remedy for Bad Habits—The Doctor and the Lumbago—A Moral Pauper—Limited Smoking—Remittance-men.
Change of Costume—Fish, Snake, and Boomerang Stories—Tests of Memory—A Brahmin Expert—General Grant's Memory—A Delicately Improper Tale
Honolulu—Reminiscences of the Sandwich Islands—King Liholiho and His Royal Equipment—The Tabu—The Population of the Island—A Kanaka Diver—Cholera at Honolulu—Honolulu; Past and Present—The Leper Colony
Leaving Honolulu—Flying-fish—Approaching the Equator—Why the Ship Went Slow—The Front Yard of the Ship—Crossing the Equator—Horse Billiards or Shovel Board—The Waterbury Watch—Washing Decks—Ship Painters—The Great Meridian—The Loss of a Day—A Babe without a Birthday
A lesson in Pronunciation—Reverence for Robert Burns—The Southern Cross—Troublesome Constellations—Victoria for a Name—Islands on the Map—Alofa and Fortuna—Recruiting for the Queensland Plantations—Captain Warren's NoteBook—Recruiting not thoroughly Popular
Missionaries Obstruct Business—The Sugar Planter and the Kanaka—The Planter's View—Civilizing the Kanaka The Missionary's View—The Result—Repentant Kanakas—Wrinkles—The Death Rate in Queensland
The Fiji Islands—Suva—The Ship from Duluth—Going Ashore—Midwinter in Fiji—Seeing the Governor—Why Fiji was Ceded to England—Old time Fijians—Convicts among the Fijians—A Case Where Marriage was a Failure Immortality with Limitations
A Wilderness of Islands—Two Men without a Country—A Naturalist from New Zealand—The Fauna of Australasia—Animals, Insects, and Birds—The Ornithorhynchus—Poetry and Plagiarism
A man may have no bad habits and have worse.
The starting point of this lecturing-trip around the world was Paris, where we had been living a year or two.
We sailed for America, and there made certain preparations. This took but little time. Two members of my family elected to go with me. Also a carbuncle. The dictionary says a carbuncle is a kind of jewel. Humor is out of place in a dictionary.
We started westward from New York in midsummer, with Major Pond to manage the platform-business as far as the Pacific. It was warm work, all the way, and the last fortnight of it was suffocatingly smoky, for in Oregon and Columbia the forest fires were raging. We had an added week of smoke at the seaboard, where we were obliged awhile for our ship. She had been getting herself ashore in the smoke, and she had to be docked and repaired.
We sailed at last; and so ended a snail-paced march across the continent, which had lasted forty days.
We moved westward about mid-afternoon over a rippled and summer sea; an
enticing sea, a clean and cool sea, and apparently a welcome sea to all
on board; it certainly was to the distressful dustings and smokings and
swelterings of the past weeks. The voyage would furnish a three-weeks
holiday, with hardly a break in it. We had the whole Pacific Ocean in
front of us, with nothing to do but do nothing and be comfortable. The
city of Victoria was twinkling dim in the deep heart of her smoke-cloud,
and getting ready to vanish and now we closed the field-glasses and sat
down on our steamer chairs contented and at peace. But they went to
wreck and ruin under us and brought us to shame before all the
passengers. They had been furnished by the largest furniture-dealing
house in Victoria, and were worth a couple of farthings a dozen, though
they had cost us the price of honest chairs. In the Pacific and Indian
Oceans one must still bring his own deck-chair on board or go without,
just as in the old forgotten Atlantic times—those Dark Ages of sea
Ours was a reasonably comfortable ship, with the customary sea-going fare—plenty of good food furnished by the Deity and cooked by the devil. The discipline observable on board was perhaps as good as it is anywhere in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The ship was not very well arranged for tropical service; but that is nothing, for this is the rule for ships which ply in the tropics. She had an over-supply of cockroaches, but this is also the rule with ships doing business in the summer seas—at least such as have been long in service. Our young captain was a very handsome man, tall and perfectly formed, the very figure to show up a smart uniform's best effects. He was a man of the best intentions and was polite and courteous even to courtliness. There was a soft and finish about his manners which made whatever place he happened to be in seem for the moment a drawing room. He avoided the smoking room. He had no vices. He did not smoke or chew tobacco or take snuff; he did not swear, or use slang or rude, or coarse, or indelicate language, or make puns, or tell anecdotes, or laugh intemperately, or raise his voice above the moderate pitch enjoined by the canons of good form. When he gave an order, his manner modified it into a request. After dinner he and his officers joined the ladies and gentlemen in the ladies' saloon, and shared in the singing and piano playing, and helped turn the music. He had a sweet and sympathetic tenor voice, and used it with taste and effect the music he played whist there, always with the same partner and opponents, until the ladies' bedtime. The electric lights burned there as late as the ladies and their friends might desire; but they were not allowed to burn in the smoking-room after eleven. There were many laws on the ship's statute book of course; but so far as I could see, this and one other were the only ones that were rigidly enforced. The captain explained that he enforced this one because his own cabin adjoined the smoking-room, and the smell of tobacco smoke made him sick. I did not see how our smoke could reach him, for the smoking-room and his cabin were on the upper deck, targets for all the winds that blew; and besides there was no crack of communication between them, no opening of any sort in the solid intervening bulkhead. Still, to a delicate stomach even imaginary smoke can convey damage.
The captain, with his gentle nature, his polish, his sweetness, his moral and verbal purity, seemed pathetically out of place in his rude and autocratic vocation. It seemed another instance of the irony of fate.
He was going home under a cloud. The passengers knew about his trouble, and were sorry for him. Approaching Vancouver through a narrow and difficult passage densely befogged with smoke from the forest fires, he had had the ill-luck to lose his bearings and get his ship on the rocks. A matter like this would rank merely as an error with you and me; it ranks as a crime with the directors of steamship companies. The captain had been tried by the Admiralty Court at Vancouver, and its verdict had acquitted him of blame. But that was insufficient comfort. A sterner court would examine the case in Sydney—the Court of Directors, the lords of a company in whose ships the captain had served as mate a number of years. This was his first voyage as captain.
The officers of our ship were hearty and companionable young men, and they entered into the general amusements and helped the passengers pass the time. Voyages in the Pacific and Indian Oceans are but pleasure excursions for all hands. Our purser was a young Scotchman who was equipped with a grit that was remarkable. He was an invalid, and looked it, as far as his body was concerned, but illness could not subdue his spirit. He was full of life, and had a gay and capable tongue. To all appearances he was a sick man without being aware of it, for he did not talk about his ailments, and his bearing and conduct were those of a person in robust health; yet he was the prey, at intervals, of ghastly sieges of pain in his heart. These lasted many hours, and while the attack continued he could neither sit nor lie. In one instance he stood on his feet twenty-four hours fighting for his life with these sharp agonies, and yet was as full of life and cheer and activity the next day as if nothing had happened.
The brightest passenger in the ship, and the most interesting and felicitous talker, was a young Canadian who was not able to let the whisky bottle alone. He was of a rich and powerful family, and could have had a distinguished career and abundance of effective help toward it if he could have conquered his appetite for drink; but he could not do it, so his great equipment of talent was of no use to him. He had often taken the pledge to drink no more, and was a good sample of what that sort of unwisdom can do for a man—for a man with anything short of an iron will. The system is wrong in two ways: it does not strike at the root of the trouble, for one thing, and to make a pledge of any kind is to declare war against nature; for a pledge is a chain that is always clanking and reminding the wearer of it that he is not a free man.
I have said that the system does not strike at the root of the trouble, and I venture to repeat that. The root is not the drinking, but the desire to drink. These are very different things. The one merely requires will—and a great deal of it, both as to bulk and staying capacity—the other merely requires watchfulness—and for no long time. The desire of course precedes the act, and should have one's first attention; it can do but little good to refuse the act over and over again, always leaving the desire unmolested, unconquered; the desire will continue to assert itself, and will be almost sure to win in the long run. When the desire intrudes, it should be at once banished out of the mind. One should be on the watch for it all the time—otherwise it will get in. It must be taken in time and not allowed to get a lodgment. A desire constantly repulsed for a fortnight should die, then. That should cure the drinking habit. The system of refusing the mere act of drinking, and leaving the desire in full force, is unintelligent war tactics, it seems to me. I used to take pledges—and soon violate them. My will was not strong, and I could not help it. And then, to be tied in any way naturally irks an otherwise free person and makes him chafe in his bonds and want to get his liberty. But when I finally ceased from taking definite pledges, and merely resolved that I would kill an injurious desire, but leave myself free to resume the desire and the habit whenever I should choose to do so, I had no more trouble. In five days I drove out the desire to smoke and was not obliged to keep watch after that; and I never experienced any strong desire to smoke again. At the end of a year and a quarter of idleness I began to write a book, and presently found that the pen was strangely reluctant to go. I tried a smoke to see if that would help me out of the difficulty. It did. I smoked eight or ten cigars and as many pipes a day for five months; finished the book, and did not smoke again until a year had gone by and another book had to be begun.
I can quit any of my nineteen injurious habits at any time, and without discomfort or inconvenience. I think that the Dr. Tanners and those others who go forty days without eating do it by resolutely keeping out the desire to eat, in the beginning, and that after a few hours the desire is discouraged and comes no more.
Once I tried my scheme in a large medical way. I had been confined to my bed several days with lumbago. My case refused to improve. Finally the doctor said,—
"My remedies have no fair chance. Consider what they have to fight, besides the lumbago. You smoke extravagantly, don't you?"
"You take coffee immoderately?"
"And some tea?"
"You eat all kinds of things that are dissatisfied with each other's company?"
"You drink two hot Scotches every night?"
"Very well, there you see what I have to contend against. We can't make progress the way the matter stands. You must make a reduction in these things; you must cut down your consumption of them considerably for some days."
"I can't, doctor."
"Why can't you."
"I lack the will-power. I can cut them off entirely, but I can't merely moderate them."
He said that that would answer, and said he would come around in twenty-four hours and begin work again. He was taken ill himself and could not come; but I did not need him. I cut off all those things for two days and nights; in fact, I cut off all kinds of food, too, and all drinks except water, and at the end of the forty-eight hours the lumbago was discouraged and left me. I was a well man; so I gave thanks and took to those delicacies again.
It seemed a valuable medical course, and I recommended it to a lady. She had run down and down and down, and had at last reached a point where medicines no longer had any helpful effect upon her. I said I knew I could put her upon her feet in a week. It brightened her up, it filled her with hope, and she said she would do everything I told her to do. So I said she must stop swearing and drinking, and smoking and eating for four days, and then she would be all right again. And it would have happened just so, I know it; but she said she could not stop swearing, and smoking, and drinking, because she had never done those things. So there it was. She had neglected her habits, and hadn't any. Now that they would have come good, there were none in stock. She had nothing to fall back on. She was a sinking vessel, with no freight in her to throw over lighten ship withal. Why, even one or two little bad habits could have saved her, but she was just a moral pauper. When she could have acquired them she was dissuaded by her parents, who were ignorant people though reared in the best society, and it was too late to begin now. It seemed such a pity; but there was no help for it. These things ought to be attended to while a person is young; otherwise, when age and disease come, there is nothing effectual to fight them with.
When I was a youth I used to take all kinds of pledges, and do my best to
keep them, but I never could, because I didn't strike at the root of the
habit—the desire; I generally broke down within the month. Once I tried
limiting a habit. That worked tolerably well for a while. I pledged
myself to smoke but one cigar a day. I kept the cigar waiting until
bedtime, then I had a luxurious time with it. But desire persecuted me
every day and all day long; so, within the week I found myself hunting
for larger cigars than I had been used to smoke; then larger ones still,
and still larger ones. Within the fortnight I was getting cigars made
for me—on a yet larger pattern. They still grew and grew in size.
Within the month my cigar had grown to such proportions that I could have
used it as a crutch. It now seemed to me that a one-cigar limit was no
real protection to a person, so I knocked my pledge on the head and
resumed my liberty.
To go back to that young Canadian. He was a "remittance man," the first one I had ever seen or heard of. Passengers explained the term to me. They said that dissipated ne'er-do-wells belonging to important families in England and Canada were not cast off by their people while there was any hope of reforming them, but when that last hope perished at last, the ne'er-do-well was sent abroad to get him out of the way. He was shipped off with just enough money in his pocket—no, in the purser's pocket—for the needs of the voyage—and when he reached his destined port he would find a remittance awaiting him there. Not a large one, but just enough to keep him a month. A similar remittance would come monthly thereafter. It was the remittance-man's custom to pay his month's board and lodging straightway—a duty which his landlord did not allow him to forget—then spree away the rest of his money in a single night, then brood and mope and grieve in idleness till the next remittance came. It is a pathetic life.
We had other remittance-men on board, it was said. At least they said
they were R. M.'s. There were two. But they did not resemble the
Canadian; they lacked his tidiness, and his brains, and his gentlemanly
ways, and his resolute spirit, and his humanities and generosities. One
of them was a lad of nineteen or twenty, and he was a good deal of a
ruin, as to clothes, and morals, and general aspect. He said he was a
scion of a ducal house in England, and had been shipped to Canada for the
house's relief, that he had fallen into trouble there, and was now being
shipped to Australia. He said he had no title. Beyond this remark he
was economical of the truth. The first thing he did in Australia was to
get into the lockup, and the next thing he did was to proclaim himself an
earl in the police court in the morning and fail to prove it.
When in doubt, tell the truth.
About four days out from Victoria we plunged into hot weather, and all the male passengers put on white linen clothes. One or two days later we crossed the 25th parallel of north latitude, and then, by order, the officers of the ship laid away their blue uniforms and came out in white linen ones. All the ladies were in white by this time. This prevalence of snowy costumes gave the promenade deck an invitingly cool, and cheerful and picnicky aspect.
From my diary:
There are several sorts of ills in the world from which a person can never escape altogether, let him journey as far as he will. One escapes from one breed of an ill only to encounter another breed of it. We have come far from the snake liar and the fish liar, and there was rest and peace in the thought; but now we have reached the realm of the boomerang liar, and sorrow is with us once more. The first officer has seen a man try to escape from his enemy by getting behind a tree; but the enemy sent his boomerang sailing into the sky far above and beyond the tree; then it turned, descended, and killed the man. The Australian passenger has seen this thing done to two men, behind two trees—and by the one arrow. This being received with a large silence that suggested doubt, he buttressed it with the statement that his brother once saw the boomerang kill a bird away off a hundred yards and bring it to the thrower. But these are ills which must be borne. There is no other way.
The talk passed from the boomerang to dreams—usually a fruitful subject, afloat or ashore—but this time the output was poor. Then it passed to instances of extraordinary memory—with better results. Blind Tom, the negro pianist, was spoken of, and it was said that he could accurately play any piece of music, howsoever long and difficult, after hearing it once; and that six months later he could accurately play it again, without having touched it in the interval. One of the most striking of the stories told was furnished by a gentleman who had served on the staff of the Viceroy of India. He read the details from his note-book, and explained that he had written them down, right after the consummation of the incident which they described, because he thought that if he did not put them down in black and white he might presently come to think he had dreamed them or invented them.
The Viceroy was making a progress, and among the shows offered by the Maharajah of Mysore for his entertainment was a memory-exhibition. The Viceroy and thirty gentlemen of his suite sat in a row, and the memory-expert, a high-caste Brahmin, was brought in and seated on the floor in front of them. He said he knew but two languages, the English and his own, but would not exclude any foreign tongue from the tests to be applied to his memory. Then he laid before the assemblage his program—a sufficiently extraordinary one. He proposed that one gentleman should give him one word of a foreign sentence, and tell him its place in the sentence. He was furnished with the French word 'est', and was told it was second in a sentence of three words. The next, gentleman gave him the German word 'verloren' and said it was the third in a sentence of four words. He asked the next gentleman for one detail in a sum in addition; another for one detail in a sum of subtraction; others for single details in mathematical problems of various kinds; he got them. Intermediates gave him single words from sentences in Greek, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and other languages, and told him their places in the sentences. When at last everybody had furnished him a single rag from a foreign sentence or a figure from a problem, he went over the ground again, and got a second word and a second figure and was told their places in the sentences and the sums; and so on and so on. He went over the ground again and again until he had collected all the parts of the sums and all the parts of the sentences—and all in disorder, of course, not in their proper rotation. This had occupied two hours.
The Brahmin now sat silent and thinking, a while, then began and repeated all the sentences, placing the words in their proper order, and untangled the disordered arithmetical problems and gave accurate answers to them all.
In the beginning he had asked the company to throw almonds at him during the two hours, he to remember how many each gentleman had thrown; but none were thrown, for the Viceroy said that the test would be a sufficiently severe strain without adding that burden to it.
General Grant had a fine memory for all kinds of things, including even names and faces, and I could have furnished an instance of it if I had thought of it. The first time I ever saw him was early in his first term as President. I had just arrived in Washington from the Pacific coast, a stranger and wholly unknown to the public, and was passing the White House one morning when I met a friend, a Senator from Nevada. He asked me if I would like to see the President. I said I should be very glad; so we entered. I supposed that the President would be in the midst of a crowd, and that I could look at him in peace and security from a distance, as another stray cat might look at another king. But it was in the morning, and the Senator was using a privilege of his office which I had not heard of—the privilege of intruding upon the Chief Magistrate's working hours. Before I knew it, the Senator and I were in the presence, and there was none there but we three. General Grant got slowly up from his table, put his pen down, and stood before me with the iron expression of a man who had not smiled for seven years, and was not intending to smile for another seven. He looked me steadily in the eyes—mine lost confidence and fell. I had never confronted a great man before, and was in a miserable state of funk and inefficiency. The Senator said:—
"Mr. President, may I have the privilege of introducing Mr. Clemens?"
The President gave my hand an unsympathetic wag and dropped it. He did not say a word but just stood. In my trouble I could not think of anything to say, I merely wanted to resign. There was an awkward pause, a dreary pause, a horrible pause. Then I thought of something, and looked up into that unyielding face, and said timidly:—
"Mr. President, I—I am embarrassed. Are you?"
His face broke—just a little—a wee glimmer, the momentary flicker of a summer-lightning smile, seven years ahead of time—and I was out and gone as soon as it was.
Ten years passed away before I saw him the second time. Meantime I was become better known; and was one of the people appointed to respond to toasts at the banquet given to General Grant in Chicago—by the Army of the Tennessee when he came back from his tour around the world. I arrived late at night and got up late in the morning. All the corridors of the hotel were crowded with people waiting to get a glimpse of General Grant when he should pass to the place whence he was to review the great procession. I worked my way by the suite of packed drawing-rooms, and at the corner of the house I found a window open where there was a roomy platform decorated with flags, and carpeted. I stepped out on it, and saw below me millions of people blocking all the streets, and other millions caked together in all the windows and on all the house-tops around. These masses took me for General Grant, and broke into volcanic explosions and cheers; but it was a good place to see the procession, and I stayed. Presently I heard the distant blare of military music, and far up the street I saw the procession come in sight, cleaving its way through the huzzaing multitudes, with Sheridan, the most martial figure of the War, riding at its head in the dress uniform of a Lieutenant-General.
And now General Grant, arm-in-arm with Major Carter Harrison, stepped out on the platform, followed two and two by the badged and uniformed reception committee. General Grant was looking exactly as he had looked upon that trying occasion of ten years before—all iron and bronze self-possession. Mr. Harrison came over and led me to the General and formally introduced me. Before I could put together the proper remark, General Grant said—
"Mr. Clemens, I am not embarrassed. Are you?"—and that little seven-year smile twinkled across his face again.
Seventeen years have gone by since then, and to-day, in New York, the streets are a crush of people who are there to honor the remains of the great soldier as they pass to their final resting-place under the monument; and the air is heavy with dirges and the boom of artillery, and all the millions of America are thinking of the man who restored the Union and the flag, and gave to democratic government a new lease of life, and, as we may hope and do believe, a permanent place among the beneficent institutions of men.
We had one game in the ship which was a good time-passer—at least it was at night in the smoking-room when the men were getting freshened up from the day's monotonies and dullnesses. It was the completing of non-complete stories. That is to say, a man would tell all of a story except the finish, then the others would try to supply the ending out of their own invention. When every one who wanted a chance had had it, the man who had introduced the story would give it its original ending—then you could take your choice. Sometimes the new endings turned out to be better than the old one. But the story which called out the most persistent and determined and ambitious effort was one which had no ending, and so there was nothing to compare the new-made endings with. The man who told it said he could furnish the particulars up to a certain point only, because that was as much of the tale as he knew. He had read it in a volume of `sketches twenty-five years ago, and was interrupted before the end was reached. He would give any one fifty dollars who would finish the story to the satisfaction of a jury to be appointed by ourselves. We appointed a jury and wrestled with the tale. We invented plenty of endings, but the jury voted them all down. The jury was right. It was a tale which the author of it may possibly have completed satisfactorily, and if he really had that good fortune I would like to know what the ending was. Any ordinary man will find that the story's strength is in its middle, and that there is apparently no way to transfer it to the close, where of course it ought to be. In substance the storiette was as follows:
John Brown, aged thirty-one, good, gentle, bashful, timid, lived in a quiet village in Missouri. He was superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday-school. It was but a humble distinction; still, it was his only official one, and he was modestly proud of it and was devoted to its work and its interests. The extreme kindliness of his nature was recognized by all; in fact, people said that he was made entirely out of good impulses and bashfulness; that he could always be counted upon for help when it was needed, and for bashfulness both when it was needed and when it wasn't.
Mary Taylor, twenty-three, modest, sweet, winning, and in character and person beautiful, was all in all to him. And he was very nearly all in all to her. She was wavering, his hopes were high. Her mother had been in opposition from the first. But she was wavering, too; he could see it. She was being touched by his warm interest in her two charity-proteges and by his contributions toward their support. These were two forlorn and aged sisters who lived in a log hut in a lonely place up a cross road four miles from Mrs. Taylor's farm. One of the sisters was crazy, and sometimes a little violent, but not often.
At last the time seemed ripe for a final advance, and Brown gathered his courage together and resolved to make it. He would take along a contribution of double the usual size, and win the mother over; with her opposition annulled, the rest of the conquest would be sure and prompt.
He took to the road in the middle of a placid Sunday afternoon in the soft Missourian summer, and he was equipped properly for his mission. He was clothed all in white linen, with a blue ribbon for a necktie, and he had on dressy tight boots. His horse and buggy were the finest that the livery stable could furnish. The lap robe was of white linen, it was new, and it had a hand-worked border that could not be rivaled in that region for beauty and elaboration.
When he was four miles out on the lonely road and was walking his horse over a wooden bridge, his straw hat blew off and fell in the creek, and floated down and lodged against a bar. He did not quite know what to do. He must have the hat, that was manifest; but how was he to get it?
Then he had an idea. The roads were empty, nobody was stirring. Yes, he would risk it. He led the horse to the roadside and set it to cropping the grass; then he undressed and put his clothes in the buggy, petted the horse a moment to secure its compassion and its loyalty, then hurried to the stream. He swam out and soon had the hat. When he got to the top of the bank the horse was gone!
His legs almost gave way under him. The horse was walking leisurely along the road. Brown trotted after it, saying, "Whoa, whoa, there's a good fellow;" but whenever he got near enough to chance a jump for the buggy, the horse quickened its pace a little and defeated him. And so this went on, the naked man perishing with anxiety, and expecting every moment to see people come in sight. He tagged on and on, imploring the horse, beseeching the horse, till he had left a mile behind him, and was closing up on the Taylor premises; then at last he was successful, and got into the buggy. He flung on his shirt, his necktie, and his coat; then reached for—but he was too late; he sat suddenly down and pulled up the lap-robe, for he saw some one coming out of the gate—a woman; he thought. He wheeled the horse to the left, and struck briskly up the cross-road. It was perfectly straight, and exposed on both sides; but there were woods and a sharp turn three miles ahead, and he was very grateful when he got there. As he passed around the turn he slowed down to a walk, and reached for his tr—— too late again.
He had come upon Mrs. Enderby, Mrs. Glossop, Mrs. Taylor, and Mary. They were on foot, and seemed tired and excited. They came at once to the buggy and shook hands, and all spoke at once, and said eagerly and earnestly, how glad they were that he was come, and how fortunate it was. And Mrs. Enderby said, impressively:
"It looks like an accident, his coming at such a time; but let no one profane it with such a name; he was sent—sent from on high."
They were all moved, and Mrs. Glossop said in an awed voice:
"Sarah Enderby, you never said a truer word in your life. This is no accident, it is a special Providence. He was sent. He is an angel—an angel as truly as ever angel was—an angel of deliverance. I say angel, Sarah Enderby, and will have no other word. Don't let any one ever say to me again, that there's no such thing as special Providences; for if this isn't one, let them account for it that can."
"I know it's so," said Mrs. Taylor, fervently. "John Brown, I could worship you; I could go down on my knees to you. Didn't something tell you?—didn't you feel that you were sent? I could kiss the hem of your laprobe."
He was not able to speak; he was helpless with shame and fright. Mrs. Taylor went on:
"Why, just look at it all around, Julia Glossop. Any person can see the hand of Providence in it. Here at noon what do we see? We see the smoke rising. I speak up and say, 'That's the Old People's cabin afire.' Didn't I, Julia Glossop?"
"The very words you said, Nancy Taylor. I was as close to you as I am now, and I heard them. You may have said hut instead of cabin, but in substance it's the same. And you were looking pale, too."
"Pale? I was that pale that if—why, you just compare it with this laprobe. Then the next thing I said was, 'Mary Taylor, tell the hired man to rig up the team-we'll go to the rescue.' And she said, 'Mother, don't you know you told him he could drive to see his people, and stay over Sunday?' And it was just so. I declare for it, I had forgotten it. 'Then,' said I, 'we'll go afoot.' And go we did. And found Sarah Enderby on the road."
"And we all went together," said Mrs. Enderby. "And found the cabin set fire to and burnt down by the crazy one, and the poor old things so old and feeble that they couldn't go afoot. And we got them to a shady place and made them as comfortable as we could, and began to wonder which way to turn to find some way to get them conveyed to Nancy Taylor's house. And I spoke up and said—now what did I say? Didn't I say, 'Providence will provide'?"
"Why sure as you live, so you did! I had forgotten it."
"So had I," said Mrs. Glossop and Mrs. Taylor; "but you certainly said it. Now wasn't that remarkable?"
"Yes, I said it. And then we went to Mr. Moseley's, two miles, and all of them were gone to the camp meeting over on Stony Fork; and then we came all the way back, two miles, and then here, another mile—and Providence has provided. You see it yourselves"
They gazed at each other awe-struck, and lifted their hands and said in unison:
"It's per-fectly wonderful."
"And then," said Mrs. Glossop, "what do you think we had better do let Mr. Brown drive the Old People to Nancy Taylor's one at a time, or put both of them in the buggy, and him lead the horse?"
"Now, then, that's a question," said Mrs. Enderby. "You see, we are all tired out, and any way we fix it it's going to be difficult. For if Mr. Brown takes both of them, at least one of us must, go back to help him, for he can't load them into the buggy by himself, and they so helpless."
"That is so," said Mrs. Taylor. "It doesn't look-oh, how would this do?—one of us drive there with Mr. Brown, and the rest of you go along to my house and get things ready. I'll go with him. He and I together can lift one of the Old People into the buggy; then drive her to my house and——
"But who will take care of the other one?" said Mrs. Enderby. "We musn't leave her there in the woods alone, you know—especially the crazy one. There and back is eight miles, you see."
They had all been sitting on the grass beside the buggy for a while, now, trying to rest their weary bodies. They fell silent a moment or two, and struggled in thought over the baffling situation; then Mrs. Enderby brightened and said:
"I think I've got the idea, now. You see, we can't walk any more. Think what we've done: four miles there, two to Moseley's, is six, then back to here—nine miles since noon, and not a bite to eat; I declare I don't see how we've done it; and as for me, I am just famishing. Now, somebody's got to go back, to help Mr. Brown—there's no getting mound that; but whoever goes has got to ride, not walk. So my idea is this: one of us to ride back with Mr. Brown, then ride to Nancy Taylor's house with one of the Old People, leaving Mr. Brown to keep the other old one company, you all to go now to Nancy's and rest and wait; then one of you drive back and get the other one and drive her to Nancy's, and Mr. Brown walk."
"Splendid!" they all cried. "Oh, that will do—that will answer perfectly." And they all said that Mrs. Enderby had the best head for planning, in the company; and they said that they wondered that they hadn't thought of this simple plan themselves. They hadn't meant to take back the compliment, good simple souls, and didn't know they had done it. After a consultation it was decided that Mrs. Enderby should drive back with Brown, she being entitled to the distinction because she had invented the plan. Everything now being satisfactorily arranged and settled, the ladies rose, relieved and happy, and brushed down their gowns, and three of them started homeward; Mrs. Enderby set her foot on the buggy-step and was about to climb in, when Brown found a remnant of his voice and gasped out—
"Please Mrs. Enderby, call them back—I am very weak; I can't walk, I can't, indeed."
"Why, dear Mr. Brown! You do look pale; I am ashamed of myself that I didn't notice it sooner. Come back-all of you! Mr. Brown is not well. Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Brown?—I'm real sorry. Are you in pain?"
"No, madam, only weak; I am not sick, but only just weak—lately; not long, but just lately."
The others came back, and poured out their sympathies and commiserations, and were full of self-reproaches for not having noticed how pale he was.
And they at once struck out a new plan, and soon agreed that it was by far the best of all. They would all go to Nancy Taylor's house and see to Brown's needs first. He could lie on the sofa in the parlor, and while Mrs. Taylor and Mary took care of him the other two ladies would take the buggy and go and get one of the Old People, and leave one of themselves with the other one, and——
By this time, without any solicitation, they were at the horse's head and were beginning to turn him around. The danger was imminent, but Brown found his voice again and saved himself. He said—
"But ladies, you are overlooking something which makes the plan impracticable. You see, if you bring one of them home, and one remains behind with the other, there will be three persons there when one of you comes back for that other, for some one must drive the buggy back, and three can't come home in it."
They all exclaimed, "Why, sure-ly, that is so!" and they were, all perplexed again.
"Dear, dear, what can we do?" said Mrs. Glossop; "it is the most mixed-up thing that ever was. The fox and the goose and the corn and things—oh, dear, they are nothing to it."
They sat wearily down once more, to further torture their tormented heads for a plan that would work. Presently Mary offered a plan; it was her first effort. She said:
"I am young and strong, and am refreshed, now. Take Mr. Brown to our house, and give him help—you see how plainly he needs it. I will go back and take care of the Old People; I can be there in twenty minutes. You can go on and do what you first started to do—wait on the main road at our house until somebody comes along with a wagon; then send and bring away the three of us. You won't have to wait long; the farmers will soon be coming back from town, now. I will keep old Polly patient and cheered up—the crazy one doesn't need it."
This plan was discussed and accepted; it seemed the best that could be done, in the circumstances, and the Old People must be getting discouraged by this time.
Brown felt relieved, and was deeply thankful. Let him once get to the main road and he would find a way to escape.
Then Mrs. Taylor said:
"The evening chill will be coming on, pretty soon, and those poor old burnt-out things will need some kind of covering. Take the lap-robe with you, dear."
"Very well, Mother, I will."
She stepped to the buggy and put out her hand to take it——
That was the end of the tale. The passenger who told it said that when he read the story twenty-five years ago in a train he was interrupted at that point—the train jumped off a bridge.
At first we thought we could finish the story quite easily, and we set to work with confidence; but it soon began to appear that it was not a simple thing, but difficult and baffling. This was on account of Brown's character—great generosity and kindliness, but complicated with unusual shyness and diffidence, particularly in the presence of ladies. There was his love for Mary, in a hopeful state but not yet secure—just in a condition, indeed, where its affair must be handled with great tact, and no mistakes made, no offense given. And there was the mother wavering, half willing-by adroit and flawless diplomacy to be won over, now, or perhaps never at all. Also, there were the helpless Old People yonder in the woods waiting-their fate and Brown's happiness to be determined by what Brown should do within the next two seconds. Mary was reaching for the lap-robe; Brown must decide-there was no time to be lost.
Of course none but a happy ending of the story would be accepted by the jury; the finish must find Brown in high credit with the ladies, his behavior without blemish, his modesty unwounded, his character for self sacrifice maintained, the Old People rescued through him, their benefactor, all the party proud of him, happy in him, his praises on all their tongues.
We tried to arrange this, but it was beset with persistent and irreconcilable difficulties. We saw that Brown's shyness would not allow him to give up the lap-robe. This would offend Mary and her mother; and it would surprise the other ladies, partly because this stinginess toward the suffering Old People would be out of character with Brown, and partly because he was a special Providence and could not properly act so. If asked to explain his conduct, his shyness would not allow him to tell the truth, and lack of invention and practice would find him incapable of contriving a lie that would wash. We worked at the troublesome problem until three in the morning.
Meantime Mary was still reaching for the lap-robe. We gave it up, and
decided to let her continue to reach. It is the reader's privilege to
determine for himself how the thing came out.
It is more trouble to make a maxim than it is to do right.
On the seventh day out we saw a dim vast bulk standing up out of the wastes of the Pacific and knew that that spectral promontory was Diamond Head, a piece of this world which I had not seen before for twenty-nine years. So we were nearing Honolulu, the capital city of the Sandwich Islands—those islands which to me were Paradise; a Paradise which I had been longing all those years to see again. Not any other thing in the world could have stirred me as the sight of that great rock did.
In the night we anchored a mile from shore. Through my port I could see the twinkling lights of Honolulu and the dark bulk of the mountain-range that stretched away right and left. I could not make out the beautiful Nuuana valley, but I knew where it lay, and remembered how it used to look in the old times. We used to ride up it on horseback in those days—we young people—and branch off and gather bones in a sandy region where one of the first Kamehameha's battles was fought. He was a remarkable man, for a king; and he was also a remarkable man for a savage. He was a mere kinglet and of little or no consequence at the time of Captain Cook's arrival in 1788; but about four years afterward he conceived the idea of enlarging his sphere of influence. That is a courteous modern phrase which means robbing your neighbor—for your neighbor's benefit; and the great theater of its benevolences is Africa. Kamehameha went to war, and in the course of ten years he whipped out all the other kings and made himself master of every one of the nine or ten islands that form the group. But he did more than that. He bought ships, freighted them with sandal wood and other native products, and sent them as far as South America and China; he sold to his savages the foreign stuffs and tools and utensils which came back in these ships, and started the march of civilization. It is doubtful if the match to this extraordinary thing is to be found in the history of any other savage. Savages are eager to learn from the white man any new way to kill each other, but it is not their habit to seize with avidity and apply with energy the larger and nobler ideas which he offers them. The details of Kamehameha's history show that he was always hospitably ready to examine the white man's ideas, and that he exercised a tidy discrimination in making his selections from the samples placed on view.
A shrewder discrimination than was exhibited by his son and successor, Liholiho, I think. Liholiho could have qualified as a reformer, perhaps, but as a king he was a mistake. A mistake because he tried to be both king and reformer. This is mixing fire and gunpowder together. A king has no proper business with reforming. His best policy is to keep things as they are; and if he can't do that, he ought to try to make them worse than they are. This is not guesswork; I have thought over this matter a good deal, so that if I should ever have a chance to become a king I would know how to conduct the business in the best way.
When Liholiho succeeded his father he found himself possessed of an equipment of royal tools and safeguards which a wiser king would have known how to husband, and judiciously employ, and make profitable. The entire country was under the one scepter, and his was that scepter. There was an Established Church, and he was the head of it. There was a Standing Army, and he was the head of that; an Army of 114 privates under command of 27 Generals and a Field Marshal. There was a proud and ancient Hereditary Nobility. There was still one other asset. This was the tabu—an agent endowed with a mysterious and stupendous power, an agent not found among the properties of any European monarch, a tool of inestimable value in the business. Liholiho was headmaster of the tabu. The tabu was the most ingenious and effective of all the inventions that has ever been devised for keeping a people's privileges satisfactorily restricted.
It required the sexes to live in separate houses. It did not allow people to eat in either house; they must eat in another place. It did not allow a man's woman-folk to enter his house. It did not allow the sexes to eat together; the men must eat first, and the women must wait on them. Then the women could eat what was left—if anything was left—and wait on themselves. I mean, if anything of a coarse or unpalatable sort was left, the women could have it. But not the good things, the fine things, the choice things, such as pork, poultry, bananas, cocoanuts, the choicer varieties of fish, and so on. By the tabu, all these were sacred to the men; the women spent their lives longing for them and wondering what they might taste like; and they died without finding out.
These rules, as you see, were quite simple and clear. It was easy to remember them; and useful. For the penalty for infringing any rule in the whole list was death. Those women easily learned to put up with shark and taro and dog for a diet when the other things were so expensive.
It was death for any one to walk upon tabu'd ground; or defile a tabu'd
thing with his touch; or fail in due servility to a chief; or step upon
the king's shadow. The nobles and the King and the priests were always
suspending little rags here and there and yonder, to give notice to the
people that the decorated spot or thing was tabu, and death lurking near.
The struggle for life was difficult and chancy in the islands in those
Thus advantageously was the new king situated. Will it be believed that the first thing he did was to destroy his Established Church, root and branch? He did indeed do that. To state the case figuratively, he was a prosperous sailor who burnt his ship and took to a raft. This Church was a horrid thing. It heavily oppressed the people; it kept them always trembling in the gloom of mysterious threatenings; it slaughtered them in sacrifice before its grotesque idols of wood and stone; it cowed them, it terrorized them, it made them slaves to its priests, and through the priests to the king. It was the best friend a king could have, and the most dependable. To a professional reformer who should annihilate so frightful and so devastating a power as this Church, reverence and praise would be due; but to a king who should do it, could properly be due nothing but reproach; reproach softened by sorrow; sorrow for his unfitness for his position.
He destroyed his Established Church, and his kingdom is a republic today, in consequence of that act.
When he destroyed the Church and burned the idols he did a mighty thing for civilization and for his people's weal—but it was not "business." It was unkingly, it was inartistic. It made trouble for his line. The American missionaries arrived while the burned idols were still smoking. They found the nation without a religion, and they repaired the defect. They offered their own religion and it was gladly received. But it was no support to arbitrary kingship, and so the kingly power began to weaken from that day. Forty-seven years later, when I was in the islands, Kainehameha V. was trying to repair Liholiho's blunder, and not succeeding. He had set up an Established Church and made himself the head of it. But it was only a pinchbeck thing, an imitation, a bauble, an empty show. It had no power, no value for a king. It could not harry or burn or slay, it in no way resembled the admirable machine which Liholiho destroyed. It was an Established Church without an Establishment; all the people were Dissenters.
Long before that, the kingship had itself become but a name, a show. At an early day the missionaries had turned it into something very much like a republic; and here lately the business whites have turned it into something exactly like it.
In Captain Cook's time (1778), the native population of the islands was estimated at 400,000; in 1836 at something short of 200,000, in 1866 at 50,000; it is to-day, per census, 25,000. All intelligent people praise Kamehameha I. and Liholiho for conferring upon their people the great boon of civilization. I would do it myself, but my intelligence is out of repair, now, from over-work.
When I was in the islands nearly a generation ago, I was acquainted with
a young American couple who had among their belongings an attractive
little son of the age of seven—attractive but not practicably
companionable with me, because he knew no English. He had played from
his birth with the little Kanakas on his father's plantation, and had
preferred their language and would learn no other. The family removed to
America a month after I arrived in the islands, and straightway the boy
began to lose his Kanaka and pick up English. By the time he was twelve
be hadn't a word of Kanaka left; the language had wholly departed from
his tongue and from his comprehension. Nine years later, when he was
twenty-one, I came upon the family in one of the lake towns of New York,
and the mother told me about an adventure which her son had been having.
By trade he was now a professional diver. A passenger boat had been
caught in a storm on the lake, and had gone down, carrying her people
with her. A few days later the young diver descended, with his armor on,
and entered the berth-saloon of the boat, and stood at the foot of the
companionway, with his hand on the rail, peering through the dim water.
Presently something touched him on the shoulder, and he turned and found
a dead man swaying and bobbing about him and seemingly inspecting him
inquiringly. He was paralyzed with fright.
His entry had disturbed the water, and now he discerned a number of dim corpses making for him and wagging their heads and swaying their bodies like sleepy people trying to dance. His senses forsook him, and in that condition he was drawn to the surface. He was put to bed at home, and was soon very ill. During some days he had seasons of delirium which lasted several hours at a time; and while they lasted he talked Kanaka incessantly and glibly; and Kanaka only. He was still very ill, and he talked to me in that tongue; but I did not understand it, of course. The doctor-books tell us that cases like this are not uncommon. Then the doctors ought to study the cases and find out how to multiply them. Many languages and things get mislaid in a person's head, and stay mislaid for lack of this remedy.
Many memories of my former visit to the islands came up in my mind while we lay at anchor in front of Honolulu that night. And pictures—pictures pictures—an enchanting procession of them! I was impatient for the morning to come.
When it came it brought disappointment, of course. Cholera had broken out in the town, and we were not allowed to have any communication with the shore. Thus suddenly did my dream of twenty-nine years go to ruin. Messages came from friends, but the friends themselves I was not to have any sight of. My lecture-hall was ready, but I was not to see that, either.
Several of our passengers belonged in Honolulu, and these were sent ashore; but nobody could go ashore and return. There were people on shore who were booked to go with us to Australia, but we could not receive them; to do it would cost us a quarantine-term in Sydney. They could have escaped the day before, by ship to San Francisco; but the bars had been put up, now, and they might have to wait weeks before any ship could venture to give them a passage any whither. And there were hardships for others. An elderly lady and her son, recreation-seekers from Massachusetts, had wandered westward, further and further from home, always intending to take the return track, but always concluding to go still a little further; and now here they were at anchor before Honolulu positively their last westward-bound indulgence—they had made up their minds to that—but where is the use in making up your mind in this world? It is usually a waste of time to do it. These two would have to stay with us as far as Australia. Then they could go on around the world, or go back the way they had come; the distance and the accommodations and outlay of time would be just the same, whichever of the two routes they might elect to take. Think of it: a projected excursion of five hundred miles gradually enlarged, without any elaborate degree of intention, to a possible twenty-four thousand. However, they were used to extensions by this time, and did not mind this new one much.
And we had with us a lawyer from Victoria, who had been sent out by the Government on an international matter, and he had brought his wife with him and left the children at home with the servants and now what was to be done? Go ashore amongst the cholera and take the risks? Most certainly not. They decided to go on, to the Fiji islands, wait there a fortnight for the next ship, and then sail for home. They couldn't foresee that they wouldn't see a homeward-bound ship again for six weeks, and that no word could come to them from the children, and no word go from them to the children in all that time. It is easy to make plans in this world; even a cat can do it; and when one is out in those remote oceans it is noticeable that a cat's plans and a man's are worth about the same. There is much the same shrinkage in both, in the matter of values.
There was nothing for us to do but sit about the decks in the shade of the awnings and look at the distant shore. We lay in luminous blue water; shoreward the water was green-green and brilliant; at the shore itself it broke in a long white ruffle, and with no crash, no sound that we could hear. The town was buried under a mat of foliage that looked like a cushion of moss. The silky mountains were clothed in soft, rich splendors of melting color, and some of the cliffs were veiled in slanting mists. I recognized it all. It was just as I had seen it long before, with nothing of its beauty lost, nothing of its charm wanting.
A change had come, but that was political, and not visible from the ship. The monarchy of my day was gone, and a republic was sitting in its seat. It was not a material change. The old imitation pomps, the fuss and feathers, have departed, and the royal trademark—that is about all that one could miss, I suppose. That imitation monarchy, was grotesque enough, in my time; if it had held on another thirty years it would have been a monarchy without subjects of the king's race.
We had a sunset of a very fine sort. The vast plain of the sea was marked off in bands of sharply-contrasted colors: great stretches of dark blue, others of purple, others of polished bronze; the billowy mountains showed all sorts of dainty browns and greens, blues and purples and blacks, and the rounded velvety backs of certain of them made one want to stroke them, as one would the sleek back of a cat. The long, sloping promontory projecting into the sea at the west turned dim and leaden and spectral, then became suffused with pink—dissolved itself in a pink dream, so to speak, it seemed so airy and unreal. Presently the cloud-rack was flooded with fiery splendors, and these were copied on the surface of the sea, and it made one drunk with delight to look upon it.
From talks with certain of our passengers whose home was Honolulu, and from a sketch by Mrs. Mary H. Krout, I was able to perceive what the Honolulu of to-day is, as compared with the Honolulu of my time. In my time it was a beautiful little town, made up of snow-white wooden cottages deliciously smothered in tropical vines and flowers and trees and shrubs; and its coral roads and streets were hard and smooth, and as white as the houses. The outside aspects of the place suggested the presence of a modest and comfortable prosperity—a general prosperity—perhaps one might strengthen the term and say universal. There were no fine houses, no fine furniture. There were no decorations. Tallow candles furnished the light for the bedrooms, a whale-oil lamp furnished it for the parlor. Native matting served as carpeting. In the parlor one would find two or three lithographs on the walls—portraits as a rule: Kamehameha IV., Louis Kossuth, Jenny Lind; and may be an engraving or two: Rebecca at the Well, Moses smiting the rock, Joseph's servants finding the cup in Benjamin's sack. There would be a center table, with books of a tranquil sort on it: The Whole Duty of Man, Baxter's Saints' Rest, Fox's Martyrs, Tupper's Proverbial Philosophy, bound copies of The Missionary Herald and of Father Damon's Seaman's Friend. A melodeon; a music stand, with 'Willie, We have Missed You', 'Star of the Evening', 'Roll on Silver Moon', 'Are We Most There', 'I Would not Live Alway', and other songs of love and sentiment, together with an assortment of hymns. A what-not with semi-globular glass paperweights, enclosing miniature pictures of ships, New England rural snowstorms, and the like; sea-shells with Bible texts carved on them in cameo style; native curios; whale's tooth with full-rigged ship carved on it. There was nothing reminiscent of foreign parts, for nobody had been abroad. Trips were made to San Francisco, but that could not be called going abroad. Comprehensively speaking, nobody traveled.
But Honolulu has grown wealthy since then, and of course wealth has introduced changes; some of the old simplicities have disappeared. Here is a modern house, as pictured by Mrs. Krout:
"Almost every house is surrounded by extensive lawns and gardens enclosed by walls of volcanic stone or by thick hedges of the brilliant hibiscus.
"The houses are most tastefully and comfortably furnished; the floors are either of hard wood covered with rugs or with fine Indian matting, while there is a preference, as in most warm countries, for rattan or bamboo furniture; there are the usual accessories of bric-a-brac, pictures, books, and curios from all parts of the world, for these island dwellers are indefatigable travelers.
"Nearly every house has what is called a lanai. It is a large apartment, roofed, floored, open on three sides, with a door or a draped archway opening into the drawing-room. Frequently the roof is formed by the thick interlacing boughs of the hou tree, impervious to the sun and even to the rain, except in violent storms. Vines are trained about the sides—the stephanotis or some one of the countless fragrant and blossoming trailers which abound in the islands. There are also curtains of matting that may be drawn to exclude the sun or rain. The floor is bare for coolness, or partially covered with rugs, and the lanai is prettily furnished with comfortable chairs, sofas, and tables loaded with flowers, or wonderful ferns in pots.
"The lanai is the favorite reception room, and here at any social function the musical program is given and cakes and ices are served; here morning callers are received, or gay riding parties, the ladies in pretty divided skirts, worn for convenience in riding astride,—the universal mode adopted by Europeans and Americans, as well as by the natives.
"The comfort and luxury of such an apartment, especially at a seashore villa, can hardly be imagined. The soft breezes sweep across it, heavy with the fragrance of jasmine and gardenia, and through the swaying boughs of palm and mimosa there are glimpses of rugged mountains, their summits veiled in clouds, of purple sea with the white surf beating eternally against the reefs, whiter still in the yellow sunlight or the magical moonlight of the tropics."
There: rugs, ices, pictures, lanais, worldly books, sinful bric-a-brac fetched from everywhere. And the ladies riding astride. These are changes, indeed. In my time the native women rode astride, but the white ones lacked the courage to adopt their wise custom. In my time ice was seldom seen in Honolulu. It sometimes came in sailing vessels from New England as ballast; and then, if there happened to be a man-of-war in port and balls and suppers raging by consequence, the ballast was worth six hundred dollars a ton, as is evidenced by reputable tradition. But the ice-machine has traveled all over the world, now, and brought ice within everybody's reach. In Lapland and Spitzbergen no one uses native ice in our day, except the bears and the walruses.
The bicycle is not mentioned. It was not necessary. We know that it is there, without inquiring. It is everywhere. But for it, people could never have had summer homes on the summit of Mont Blanc; before its day, property up there had but a nominal value. The ladies of the Hawaiian capital learned too late the right way to occupy a horse—too late to get much benefit from it. The riding-horse is retiring from business everywhere in the world. In Honolulu a few years from now he will be only a tradition.
We all know about Father Damien, the French priest who voluntarily forsook the world and went to the leper island of Molokai to labor among its population of sorrowful exiles who wait there, in slow-consuming misery, for death to cone and release them from their troubles; and we know that the thing which he knew beforehand would happen, did happen: that he became a leper himself, and died of that horrible disease. There was still another case of self-sacrifice, it appears. I asked after "Billy" Ragsdale, interpreter to the Parliament in my time—a half-white. He was a brilliant young fellow, and very popular. As an interpreter he would have been hard to match anywhere. He used to stand up in the Parliament and turn the English speeches into Hawaiian and the Hawaiian speeches into English with a readiness and a volubility that were astonishing. I asked after him, and was told that his prosperous career was cut short in a sudden and unexpected way, just as he was about to marry a beautiful half-caste girl. He discovered, by some nearly invisible sign about his skin, that the poison of leprosy was in him. The secret was his own, and might be kept concealed for years; but he would not be treacherous to the girl that loved him; he would not marry her to a doom like his. And so he put his affairs in order, and went around to all his friends and bade them good-bye, and sailed in the leper ship to Molokai. There he died the loathsome and lingering death that all lepers die.
In this place let me insert a paragraph or two from "The Paradise of the Pacific" (Rev. H. H. Gowen)—
"Poor lepers! It is easy for those who have no relatives or friends among them to enforce the decree of segregation to the letter, but who can write of the terrible, the heart-breaking scenes which that enforcement has brought about?
"A man upon Hawaii was suddenly taken away after a summary arrest, leaving behind him a helpless wife about to give birth to a babe. The devoted wife with great pain and risk came the whole journey to Honolulu, and pleaded until the authorities were unable to resist her entreaty that she might go and live like a leper with her leper husband.
"A woman in the prime of life and activity is condemned as an incipient leper, suddenly removed from her home, and her husband returns to find his two helpless babes moaning for their lost mother.
"Imagine it! The case of the babies is hard, but its bitterness is a trifle—less than a trifle—less than nothing—compared to what the mother must suffer; and suffer minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, month by month, year by year, without respite, relief, or any abatement of her pain till she dies.
"One woman, Luka Kaaukau, has been living with her leper husband in the settlement for twelve years. The man has scarcely a joint left, his limbs are only distorted ulcerated stumps, for four years his wife has put every particle of food into his mouth. He wanted his wife to abandon his wretched carcass long ago, as she herself was sound and well, but Luka said that she was content to remain and wait on the man she loved till the spirit should be freed from its burden.
"I myself have known hard cases enough:—of a girl, apparently in full health, decorating the church with me at Easter, who before Christmas is taken away as a confirmed leper; of a mother hiding her child in the mountains for years so that not even her dearest friends knew that she had a child alive, that he might not be taken away; of a respectable white man taken away from his wife and family, and compelled to become a dweller in the Leper Settlement, where he is counted dead, even by the insurance companies."
And one great pity of it all is, that these poor sufferers are innocent. The leprosy does not come of sins which they committed, but of sins committed by their ancestors, who escaped the curse of leprosy!
Mr. Gowan has made record of a certain very striking circumstance. Would
you expect to find in that awful Leper Settlement a custom worthy to be
transplanted to your own country? They have one such, and it is
inexpressibly touching and beautiful. When death sets open the
prison-door of life there, the band salutes the freed soul with a burst of glad
A dozen direct censures are easier to bear than one morganatic compliment.
Sailed from Honolulu.—From diary:
Sept. 2. Flocks of flying fish-slim, shapely, graceful, and intensely white. With the sun on them they look like a flight of silver fruit-knives. They are able to fly a hundred yards.
Sept. 3. In 9 deg. 50' north latitude, at breakfast. Approaching the equator on a long slant. Those of us who have never seen the equator are a good deal excited. I think I would rather see it than any other thing in the world. We entered the "doldrums" last night—variable winds, bursts of rain, intervals of calm, with chopping seas and a wobbly and drunken motion to the ship—a condition of things findable in other regions sometimes, but present in the doldrums always. The globe-girdling belt called the doldrums is 20 degrees wide, and the thread called the equator lies along the middle of it.
Sept. 4. Total eclipse of the moon last night. At 1.30 it began to go
off. At total—or about that—it was like a rich rosy cloud with a
tumbled surface framed in the circle and projecting from it—a bulge of
strawberry-ice, so to speak. At half-eclipse the moon was like a gilded
acorn in its cup.
Sept. 5. Closing in on the equator this noon. A sailor explained to a
young girl that the ship's speed is poor because we are climbing up the
bulge toward the center of the globe; but that when we should once get
over, at the equator, and start down-hill, we should fly. When she asked
him the other day what the fore-yard was, he said it was the front yard,
the open area in the front end of the ship. That man has a good deal of
learning stored up, and the girl is likely to get it all.
Afternoon. Crossed the equator. In the distance it looked like a blue ribbon stretched across the ocean. Several passengers kodak'd it. We had no fool ceremonies, no fantastics, no horse play. All that sort of thing has gone out. In old times a sailor, dressed as Neptune, used to come in over the bows, with his suite, and lather up and shave everybody who was crossing the equator for the first time, and then cleanse these unfortunates by swinging them from the yard-arm and ducking them three times in the sea. This was considered funny. Nobody knows why. No, that is not true. We do know why. Such a thing could never be funny on land; no part of the old-time grotesque performances gotten up on shipboard to celebrate the passage of the line would ever be funny on shore—they would seem dreary and less to shore people. But the shore people would change their minds about it at sea, on a long voyage. On such a voyage, with its eternal monotonies, people's intellects deteriorate; the owners of the intellects soon reach a point where they almost seem to prefer childish things to things of a maturer degree. One is often surprised at the juvenilities which grown people indulge in at sea, and the interest they take in them, and the consuming enjoyment they get out of them. This is on long voyages only. The mind gradually becomes inert, dull, blunted; it loses its accustomed interest in intellectual things; nothing but horse-play can rouse it, nothing but wild and foolish grotesqueries can entertain it. On short voyages it makes no such exposure of itself; it hasn't time to slump down to this sorrowful level.
The short-voyage passenger gets his chief physical exercise out of "horse-billiards"—shovel-board. It is a good game. We play it in this ship. A quartermaster chalks off a diagram like this-on the deck.
The player uses a cue that is like a broom-handle with a quarter-moon of
wood fastened to the end of it. With this he shoves wooden disks the
size of a saucer—he gives the disk a vigorous shove and sends it fifteen
or twenty feet along the deck and lands it in one of the squares if he
can. If it stays there till the inning is played out, it will count as
many points in the game as the figure in the square it has stopped in
represents. The adversary plays to knock that disk out and leave his own
in its place—particularly if it rests upon the 9 or 10 or some other of
the high numbers; but if it rests in the "10off" he backs it up—lands
his disk behind it a foot or two, to make it difficult for its owner to
knock it out of that damaging place and improve his record. When the
inning is played out it may be found that each adversary has placed his
four disks where they count; it may be found that some of them are
touching chalk lines and not counting; and very often it will be found
that there has been a general wreckage, and that not a disk has been left
within the diagram. Anyway, the result is recorded, whatever it is, and
the game goes on. The game is 100 points, and it takes from twenty
minutes to forty to play it, according to luck and the condition of the
sea. It is an exciting game, and the crowd of spectators furnish
abundance of applause for fortunate shots and plenty of laughter for the
other kind. It is a game of skill, but at the same time the uneasy
motion of the ship is constantly interfering with skill; this makes it a
chancy game, and the element of luck comes largely in.
We had a couple of grand tournaments, to determine who should be "Champion of the Pacific"; they included among the participants nearly all the passengers, of both sexes, and the officers of the ship, and they afforded many days of stupendous interest and excitement, and murderous exercise—for horse-billiards is a physically violent game.
The figures in the following record of some of the closing games in the first tournament will show, better than any description, how very chancy the game is. The losers here represented had all been winners in the previous games of the series, some of them by fine majorities:
|Chase,||102||Mrs. D.,||57||Mortimer,||105||The Surgeon,||92|
|Miss C.,||105||Mrs. T.,||9||Clemens,||101||Taylor,||92|
And so on; until but three couples of winners were left. Then I beat my man, young Smith beat his man, and Thomas beat his. This reduced the combatants to three. Smith and I took the deck, and I led off. At the close of the first inning I was 10 worse than nothing and Smith had scored 7. The luck continued against me. When I was 57, Smith was 97—within 3 of out. The luck changed then. He picked up a 10-off or so, and couldn't recover. I beat him.
The next game would end tournament No. 1.
Mr. Thomas and I were the contestants. He won the lead and went to the bat—so to speak. And there he stood, with the crotch of his cue resting against his disk while the ship rose slowly up, sank slowly down, rose again, sank again. She never seemed to rise to suit him exactly. She started up once more; and when she was nearly ready for the turn, he let drive and landed his disk just within the left-hand end of the 10. (Applause). The umpire proclaimed "a good 10," and the game-keeper set it down. I played: my disk grazed the edge of Mr. Thomas's disk, and went out of the diagram. (No applause.)
Mr. Thomas played again—and landed his second disk alongside of the first, and almost touching its right-hand side. "Good 10." (Great applause.)
I played, and missed both of them. (No applause.)
Mr. Thomas delivered his third shot and landed his disk just at the right of the other two. " Good 10." (Immense applause.)
There they lay, side by side, the three in a row. It did not seem possible that anybody could miss them. Still I did it. (Immense silence.)
Mr. Thomas played his last disk. It seems incredible, but he actually landed that disk alongside of the others, and just to the right of them-a straight solid row of 4 disks. (Tumultuous and long-continued applause.)
Then I played my last disk. Again it did not seem possible that anybody could miss that row—a row which would have been 14 inches long if the disks had been clamped together; whereas, with the spaces separating them they made a longer row than that. But I did it. It may be that I was getting nervous.
I think it unlikely that that innings has ever had its parallel in the history of horse-billiards. To place the four disks side by side in the 10 was an extraordinary feat; indeed, it was a kind of miracle. To miss them was another miracle. It will take a century to produce another man who can place the four disks in the 10; and longer than that to find a man who can't knock them out. I was ashamed of my performance at the time, but now that I reflect upon it I see that it was rather fine and difficult.
Mr. Thomas kept his luck, and won the game, and later the championship.
In a minor tournament I won the prize, which was a Waterbury watch. I
put it in my trunk. In Pretoria, South Africa, nine months afterward, my
proper watch broke down and I took the Waterbury out, wound it, set it by
the great clock on the Parliament House (8.05), then went back to my room
and went to bed, tired from a long railway journey. The parliamentary
clock had a peculiarity which I was not aware of at the
time—a peculiarity which exists in no other clock, and would not exist in that
one if it had been made by a sane person; on the half-hour it strikes the
succeeding hour, then strikes the hour again, at the proper time. I lay
reading and smoking awhile; then, when I could hold my eyes open no
longer and was about to put out the light, the great clock began to boom,
and I counted ten. I reached for the Waterbury to see how it was getting
along. It was marking 9.30. It seemed rather poor speed for a
three-dollar watch, but I supposed that the climate was affecting it. I shoved
it half an hour ahead; and took to my book and waited to see what would
happen. At 10 the great clock struck ten again. I looked—the Waterbury
was marking half-past 10. This was too much speed for the money, and it
troubled me. I pushed the hands back a half hour, and waited once more;
I had to, for I was vexed and restless now, and my sleepiness was gone.
By and by the great clock struck 11. The Waterbury was marking 10.30. I
pushed it ahead half an hour, with some show of temper. By and by the
great clock struck 11 again. The Waterbury showed up 11.30, now, and I
beat her brains out against the bedstead. I was sorry next day, when I
To return to the ship.
The average human being is a perverse creature; and when he isn't that, he is a practical joker. The result to the other person concerned is about the same: that is, he is made to suffer. The washing down of the decks begins at a very early hour in all ships; in but few ships are any measures taken to protect the passengers, either by waking or warning them, or by sending a steward to close their ports. And so the deckwashers have their opportunity, and they use it. They send a bucket of water slashing along the side of the ship and into the ports, drenching the passenger's clothes, and often the passenger himself. This good old custom prevailed in this ship, and under unusually favorable circumstances, for in the blazing tropical regions a removable zinc thing like a sugarshovel projects from the port to catch the wind and bring it in; this thing catches the wash-water and brings it in, too—and in flooding abundance. Mrs. L, an invalid, had to sleep on the locker—sofa under her port, and every time she over-slept and thus failed to take care of herself, the deck-washers drowned her out.
And the painters, what a good time they had! This ship would be going into dock for a month in Sydney for repairs; but no matter, painting was going on all the time somewhere or other. The ladies' dresses were constantly getting ruined, nevertheless protests and supplications went for nothing. Sometimes a lady, taking an afternoon nap on deck near a ventilator or some other thing that didn't need painting, would wake up by and by and find that the humorous painter had been noiselessly daubing that thing and had splattered her white gown all over with little greasy yellow spots.
The blame for this untimely painting did not lie with the ship's officers, but with custom. As far back as Noah's time it became law that ships must be constantly painted and fussed at when at sea; custom grew out of the law, and at sea custom knows no death; this custom will continue until the sea goes dry.
Sept. 8.—Sunday. We are moving so nearly south that we cross only about two meridians of longitude a day. This morning we were in longitude 178 west from Greenwich, and 57 degrees west from San Francisco. To-morrow we shall be close to the center of the globe—the 180th degree of west longitude and 180th degree of east longitude.
And then we must drop out a day—lose a day out of our lives, a day never
to be found again. We shall all die one day earlier than from the
beginning of time we were foreordained to die. We shall be a day
behindhand all through eternity. We shall always be saying to the other
angels, "Fine day today," and they will be always retorting, "But it
isn't to-day, it's tomorrow." We shall be in a state of confusion all the
time and shall never know what true happiness is.
Next Day. Sure enough, it has happened. Yesterday it was September 8, Sunday; to-day, per the bulletin-board at the head of the companionway, it is September 10, Tuesday. There is something uncanny about it. And uncomfortable. In fact, nearly unthinkable, and wholly unrealizable, when one comes to consider it. While we were crossing the 180th meridian it was Sunday in the stern of the ship where my family were, and Tuesday in the bow where I was. They were there eating the half of a fresh apple on the 8th, and I was at the same time eating the other half of it on the 10th—and I could notice how stale it was, already. The family were the same age that they were when I had left them five minutes before, but I was a day older now than I was then. The day they were living in stretched behind them half way round the globe, across the Pacific Ocean and America and Europe; the day I was living in stretched in front of me around the other half to meet it. They were stupendous days for bulk and stretch; apparently much larger days than we had ever been in before. All previous days had been but shrunk-up little things by comparison. The difference in temperature between the two days was very marked, their day being hotter than mine because it was closer to the equator.
Along about the moment that we were crossing the Great Meridian a child was born in the steerage, and now there is no way to tell which day it was born on. The nurse thinks it was Sunday, the surgeon thinks it was Tuesday. The child will never know its own birthday. It will always be choosing first one and then the other, and will never be able to make up its mind permanently. This will breed vacillation and uncertainty in its opinions about religion, and politics, and business, and sweethearts, and everything, and will undermine its principles, and rot them away, and make the poor thing characterless, and its success in life impossible. Every one in the ship says so. And this is not all—in fact, not the worst. For there is an enormously rich brewer in the ship who said as much as ten days ago, that if the child was born on his birthday he would give it ten thousand dollars to start its little life with. His birthday was Monday, the 9th of September.
If the ships all moved in the one direction—westward, I mean—the world
would suffer a prodigious loss—in the matter of valuable time, through
the dumping overboard on the Great Meridian of such multitudes of days by
ships crews and passengers. But fortunately the ships do not all sail
west, half of them sail east. So there is no real loss. These latter
pick up all the discarded days and add them to the world's stock again;
and about as good as new, too; for of course the salt water preserves
Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 11. In this world we often make mistakes of judgment. We do not as a rule get out of them sound and whole, but sometimes we do. At dinner yesterday evening-present, a mixture of Scotch, English, American, Canadian, and Australasian folk—a discussion broke out about the pronunciation of certain Scottish words. This was private ground, and the non-Scotch nationalities, with one exception, discreetly kept still. But I am not discreet, and I took a hand. I didn't know anything about the subject, but I took a hand just to have something to do. At that moment the word in dispute was the word three. One Scotchman was claiming that the peasantry of Scotland pronounced it three, his adversaries claimed that they didn't—that they pronounced it 'thraw'. The solitary Scot was having a sultry time of it, so I thought I would enrich him with my help. In my position I was necessarily quite impartial, and was equally as well and as ill equipped to fight on the one side as on the other. So I spoke up and said the peasantry pronounced the word three, not thraw. It was an error of judgment. There was a moment of astonished and ominous silence, then weather ensued. The storm rose and spread in a surprising way, and I was snowed under in a very few minutes. It was a bad defeat for me—a kind of Waterloo. It promised to remain so, and I wished I had had better sense than to enter upon such a forlorn enterprise. But just then I had a saving thought—at least a thought that offered a chance. While the storm was still raging, I made up a Scotch couplet, and then spoke up and said:
"Very well, don't say any more. I confess defeat. I thought I knew, but I see my mistake. I was deceived by one of your Scotch poets."
"A Scotch poet! O come! Name him."
It is wonderful the power of that name. These men looked doubtful—but paralyzed, all the same. They were quite silent for a moment; then one of them said—with the reverence in his voice which is always present in a Scotchman's tone when he utters the name.
"Does Robbie Burns say—what does he say?"
"This is what he says:
'There were nae bairns but only three—|
Ane at the breast, twa at the knee.'"
It ended the discussion. There was no man there profane enough, disloyal enough, to say any word against a thing which Robert Burns had settled. I shall always honor that great name for the salvation it brought me in this time of my sore need.
It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive. There are people who think that honesty is always the best policy. This is a superstition; there are times when the appearance of it is worth six of it.
We are moving steadily southward-getting further and further down under the projecting paunch of the globe. Yesterday evening we saw the Big Dipper and the north star sink below the horizon and disappear from our world. No, not "we," but they. They saw it—somebody saw it—and told me about it. But it is no matter, I was not caring for those things, I am tired of them, any way. I think they are well enough, but one doesn't want them always hanging around. My interest was all in the Southern Cross. I had never seen that. I had heard about it all my life, and it was but natural that I should be burning to see it. No other constellation makes so much talk. I had nothing against the Big Dipper—and naturally couldn't have anything against it, since it is a citizen of our own sky, and the property of the United States—but I did want it to move out of the way and give this foreigner a chance. Judging by the size of the talk which the Southern Cross had made, I supposed it would need a sky all to itself.
But that was a mistake. We saw the Cross to-night, and it is not large.
Not large, and not strikingly bright. But it was low down toward the
horizon, and it may improve when it gets up higher in the sky. It is
ingeniously named, for it looks just as a cross would look if it looked
like something else. But that description does not describe; it is too
vague, too general, too indefinite. It does after a fashion suggest a
cross across that is out of repair—or out of drawing; not correctly
shaped. It is long, with a short cross-bar, and the cross-bar is canted
out of the straight line.
It consists of four large stars and one little one. The little one is out of line and further damages the shape. It should have been placed at the intersection of the stem and the cross-bar. If you do not draw an imaginary line from star to star it does not suggest a cross—nor anything in particular.
One must ignore the little star, and leave it out of the combination—it confuses everything. If you leave it out, then you can make out of the four stars a sort of cross—out of true; or a sort of kite—out of true; or a sort of coffin-out of true.
Constellations have always been troublesome things to name. If you give
one of them a fanciful name, it will always refuse to live up to it; it
will always persist in not resembling the thing it has been named for.
Ultimately, to satisfy the public, the fanciful name has to be discarded
for a common-sense one, a manifestly descriptive one. The Great Bear
remained the Great Bear—and unrecognizable as such—for thousands of
years; and people complained about it all the time, and quite properly;
but as soon as it became the property of the United States, Congress
changed it to the Big Dipper, and now every body is satisfied, and there
is no more talk about riots. I would not change the Southern Cross to
the Southern Coffin, I would change it to the Southern Kite; for up there
in the general emptiness is the proper home of a kite, but not for
coffins and crosses and dippers. In a little while, now—I cannot tell
exactly how long it will be—the globe will belong to the
English-speaking race; and of course the skies also. Then the constellations
will be re-organized, and polished up, and re-named—the most of them
"Victoria," I reckon, but this one will sail thereafter as the Southern
Kite, or go out of business. Several towns and things, here and there,
have been named for Her Majesty already.
In these past few days we are plowing through a mighty Milky Way of islands. They are so thick on the map that one would hardly expect to find room between them for a canoe; yet we seldom glimpse one. Once we saw the dim bulk of a couple of them, far away, spectral and dreamy things; members of the Horne-Alofa and Fortuna. On the larger one are two rival native kings—and they have a time together. They are Catholics; so are their people. The missionaries there are French priests.
From the multitudinous islands in these regions the "recruits" for the Queensland plantations were formerly drawn; are still drawn from them, I believe. Vessels fitted up like old-time slavers came here and carried off the natives to serve as laborers in the great Australian province. In the beginning it was plain, simple man-stealing, as per testimony of the missionaries. This has been denied, but not disproven. Afterward it was forbidden by law to "recruit" a native without his consent, and governmental agents were sent in all recruiting vessels to see that the law was obeyed—which they did, according to the recruiting people; and which they sometimes didn't, according to the missionaries. A man could be lawfully recruited for a three-years term of service; he could volunteer for another term if he so chose; when his time was up he could return to his island. And would also have the means to do it; for the government required the employer to put money in its hands for this purpose before the recruit was delivered to him.
Captain Wawn was a recruiting ship-master during many years. From his pleasant book one gets the idea that the recruiting business was quite popular with the islanders, as a rule. And yet that did not make the business wholly dull and uninteresting; for one finds rather frequent little breaks in the monotony of it—like this, for instance:
"The afternoon of our arrival at Leper Island the schooner was lying almost becalmed under the lee of the lofty central portion of the island, about three-quarters of a mile from the shore. The boats were in sight at some distance. The recruiter-boat had run into a small nook on the rocky coast, under a high bank, above which stood a solitary hut backed by dense forest. The government agent and mate in the second boat lay about 400 yards to the westward.
"Suddenly we heard the sound of firing, followed by yells from the natives on shore, and then we saw the recruiter-boat push out with a seemingly diminished crew. The mate's boat pulled quickly up, took her in tow, and presently brought her alongside, all her own crew being more or less hurt. It seems the natives had called them into the place on pretence of friendship. A crowd gathered about the stern of the boat, and several fellows even got into her. All of a sudden our men were attacked with clubs and tomahawks. The recruiter escaped the first blows aimed at him, making play with his fists until he had an opportunity to draw his revolver. 'Tom Sayers,' a Mare man, received a tomahawk blow on the head which laid the scalp open but did not penetrate his skull, fortunately. 'Bobby Towns,' another Mare boatman, had both his thumbs cut in warding off blows, one of them being so nearly severed from the hand that the doctors had to finish the operation. Lihu, a Lifu boy, the recruiter's special attendant, was cut and pricked in various places, but nowhere seriously. Jack, an unlucky Tanna recruit, who had been engaged to act as boatman, received an arrow through his forearm, the head of which—apiece of bone seven or eight inches long—was still in the limb, protruding from both sides, when the boats returned. The recruiter himself would have got off scot-free had not an arrow pinned one of his fingers to the loom of the steering-oar just as they were getting off. The fight had been short but sharp. The enemy lost two men, both shot dead."
The truth is, Captain Wawn furnishes such a crowd of instances of fatal
encounters between natives and French and English recruiting-crews (for
the French are in the business for the plantations of New Caledonia),
that one is almost persuaded that recruiting is not thoroughly popular
among the islanders; else why this bristling string of attacks and
bloodcurdling slaughter? The captain lays it all to "Exeter Hall
influence." But for the meddling philanthropists, the native fathers and
mothers would be fond of seeing their children carted into exile and now
and then the grave, instead of weeping about it and trying to kill the
He was as shy as a newspaper is when referring to its own merits.
Captain Wawn is crystal-clear on one point: He does not approve of missionaries. They obstruct his business. They make "Recruiting," as he calls it ("Slave-Catching," as they call it in their frank way) a trouble when it ought to be just a picnic and a pleasure excursion. The missionaries have their opinion about the manner in which the Labor Traffic is conducted, and about the recruiter's evasions of the law of the Traffic, and about the traffic itself—and it is distinctly uncomplimentary to the Traffic and to everything connected with it, including the law for its regulation. Captain Wawn's book is of very recent date; I have by me a pamphlet of still later date—hot from the press, in fact—by Rev. Wm. Gray, a missionary; and the book and the pamphlet taken together make exceedingly interesting reading, to my mind.
Interesting, and easy to understand—except in one detail, which I will
mention presently. It is easy to understand why the Queensland sugar
planter should want the Kanaka recruit: he is cheap. Very cheap, in
fact. These are the figures paid by the planter: L20 to the recruiter
for getting the Kanaka or "catching" him, as the missionary phrase goes;
L3 to the Queensland government for "superintending" the importation; L5
deposited with the Government for the Kanaka's passage home when his
three years are up, in case he shall live that long; about L25 to the
Kanaka himself for three years' wages and clothing; total payment for the
use of a man three years, L53; or, including diet, L60. Altogether, a
hundred dollars a year. One can understand why the recruiter is fond of
the business; the recruit costs him a few cheap presents (given to the
recruit's relatives, not himself), and the recruit is worth L20 to the
recruiter when delivered in Queensland. All this is clear enough; but
the thing that is not clear is, what there is about it all to persuade
the recruit. He is young and brisk; life at home in his beautiful island
is one lazy, long holiday to him; or if he wants to work he can turn out
a couple of bags of copra per week and sell it for four or five shillings
a bag. In Queensland he must get up at dawn and work from eight to
twelve hours a day in the canefields—in a much hotter climate than he is
used to—and get less than four shillings a week for it.
I cannot understand his willingness to go to Queensland. It is a deep puzzle to me. Here is the explanation, from the planter's point of view; at least I gather from the missionary's pamphlet that it is the planter's:
"When he comes from his home he is a savage, pure and simple. He feels no shame at his nakedness and want of adornment. When he returns home he does so well dressed, sporting a Waterbury watch, collars, cuffs, boots, and jewelry. He takes with him one or more boxes—["Box" is English for trunk.]—well filled with clothing, a musical instrument or two, and perfumery and other articles of luxury he has learned to appreciate."
For just one moment we have a seeming flash of comprehension of, the
Kanaka's reason for exiling himself: he goes away to acquire
civilization. Yes, he was naked and not ashamed, now he is clothed and
knows how to be ashamed; he was unenlightened; now he has a Waterbury
watch; he was unrefined, now he has jewelry, and something to make him
smell good; he was a nobody, a provincial, now he has been to far
countries and can show off.
It all looks plausible—for a moment. Then the missionary takes hold of this explanation and pulls it to pieces, and dances on it, and damages it beyond recognition.
"Admitting that the foregoing description is the average one, the average sequel is this: The cuffs and collars, if used at all, are carried off by youngsters, who fasten them round the leg, just below the knee, as ornaments. The Waterbury, broken and dirty, finds its way to the trader, who gives a trifle for it; or the inside is taken out, the wheels strung on a thread and hung round the neck. Knives, axes, calico, and handkerchiefs are divided among friends, and there is hardly one of these apiece. The boxes, the keys often lost on the road home, can be bought for 2s. 6d. They are to be seen rotting outside in almost any shore village on Tanna. (I speak of what I have seen.) A returned Kanaka has been furiously angry with me because I would not buy his trousers, which he declared were just my fit. He sold them afterwards to one of my Aniwan teachers for 9d. worth of tobacco—a pair of trousers that probably cost him 8s. or 10s. in Queensland. A coat or shirt is handy for cold weather. The white handkerchiefs, the 'senet' (perfumery), the umbrella, and perhaps the hat, are kept. The boots have to take their chance, if they do not happen to fit the copra trader. 'Senet' on the hair, streaks of paint on the face, a dirty white handkerchief round the neck, strips of turtle shell in the ears, a belt, a sheath and knife, and an umbrella constitute the rig of returned Kanaka at home the day after landing."
A hat, an umbrella, a belt, a neckerchief. Otherwise stark naked. All in a day the hard-earned "civilization" has melted away to this. And even these perishable things must presently go. Indeed, there is but a single detail of his civilization that can be depended on to stay by him: according to the missionary, he has learned to swear. This is art, and art is long, as the poet says.
In all countries the laws throw light upon the past. The Queensland law for the regulation of the Labor Traffic is a confession. It is a confession that the evils charged by the missionaries upon the traffic had existed in the past, and that they still existed when the law was made. The missionaries make a further charge: that the law is evaded by the recruiters, and that the Government Agent sometimes helps them to do it. Regulation 31 reveals two things: that sometimes a young fool of a recruit gets his senses back, after being persuaded to sign away his liberty for three years, and dearly wants to get out of the engagement and stay at home with his own people; and that threats, intimidation, and force are used to keep him on board the recruiting-ship, and to hold him to his contract. Regulation 31 forbids these coercions. The law requires that he shall be allowed to go free; and another clause of it requires the recruiter to set him ashore—per boat, because of the prevalence of sharks. Testimony from Rev. Mr. Gray:
"There are 'wrinkles' for taking the penitent Kanaka. My first experience of the Traffic was a case of this kind in 1884. A vessel anchored just out of sight of our station, word was brought to me that some boys were stolen, and the relatives wished me to go and get them back. The facts were, as I found, that six boys had recruited, had rushed into the boat, the Government Agent informed me. They had all 'signed'; and, said the Government Agent, 'on board they shall remain.' I was assured that the six boys were of age and willing to go. Yet on getting ready to leave the ship I found four of the lads ready to come ashore in the boat! This I forbade. One of them jumped into the water and persisted in coming ashore in my boat. When appealed to, the Government Agent suggested that we go and leave him to be picked up by the ship's boat, a quarter mile distant at the time!"
The law and the missionaries feel for the repentant recruit—and properly, one may be permitted to think, for he is only a youth and ignorant and persuadable to his hurt—but sympathy for him is not kept in stock by the recruiter. Rev. Mr. Gray says:
"A captain many years in the traffic explained to me how a penitent could betaken. 'When a boy jumps overboard we just take a boat and pull ahead of him, then lie between him and the shore. If he has not tired himself swimming, and passes the boat, keep on heading him in this way. The dodge rarely fails. The boy generally tires of swimming, gets into the boat of his own accord, and goes quietly on board."
Yes, exhaustion is likely to make a boy quiet. If the distressed boy had been the speaker's son, and the captors savages, the speaker would have been surprised to see how differently the thing looked from the new point of view; however, it is not our custom to put ourselves in the other person's place. Somehow there is something pathetic about that disappointed young savage's resignation. I must explain, here, that in the traffic dialect, "boy" does not always mean boy; it means a youth above sixteen years of age. That is by Queensland law the age of consent, though it is held that recruiters allow themselves some latitude in guessing at ages.
Captain Wawn of the free spirit chafes under the annoyance of "cast-iron regulations." They and the missionaries have poisoned his life. He grieves for the good old days, vanished to come no more. See him weep; hear him cuss between the lines!
"For a long time we were allowed to apprehend and detain all deserters who had signed the agreement on board ship, but the 'cast-iron' regulations of the Act of 1884 put a stop to that, allowing the Kanaka to sign the agreement for three years' service, travel about in the ship in receipt of the regular rations, cadge all he could, and leave when he thought fit, so long as he did not extend his pleasure trip to Queensland."
Rev. Mr. Gray calls this same restrictive cast-iron law a "farce." "There is as much cruelty and injustice done to natives by acts that are legal as by deeds unlawful. The regulations that exist are unjust and inadequate—unjust and inadequate they must ever be." He furnishes his reasons for his position, but they are too long for reproduction here.
However, if the most a Kanaka advantages himself by a three-years course in civilization in Queensland, is a necklace and an umbrella and a showy imperfection in the art of swearing, it must be that all the profit of the traffic goes to the white man. This could be twisted into a plausible argument that the traffic ought to be squarely abolished.
However, there is reason for hope that that can be left alone to achieve itself. It is claimed that the traffic will depopulate its sources of supply within the next twenty or thirty years. Queensland is a very healthy place for white people—death-rate 12 in 1,000 of the population—but the Kanaka death-rate is away above that. The vital statistics for 1893 place it at 52; for 1894 (Mackay district), 68. The first six months of the Kanaka's exile are peculiarly perilous for him because of the rigors of the new climate. The death-rate among the new men has reached as high as 180 in the 1,000. In the Kanaka's native home his death-rate is 12 in time of peace, and 15 in time of war. Thus exile to Queensland—with the opportunity to acquire civilization, an umbrella, and a pretty poor quality of profanity—is twelve times as deadly for him as war. Common Christian charity, common humanity, does seem to require, not only that these people be returned to their homes, but that war, pestilence, and famine be introduced among them for their preservation.
Concerning these Pacific isles and their peoples an eloquent prophet spoke long years ago—five and fifty years ago. In fact, he spoke a little too early. Prophecy is a good line of business, but it is full of risks. This prophet was the Right Rev. M. Russell, LL.D., D.C.L., of Edinburgh:
"Is the tide of civilization to roll only to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and is the sun of knowledge to set at last in the waves of the Pacific? No; the mighty day of four thousand years is drawing to its close; the sun of humanity has performed its destined course; but long ere its setting rays are extinguished in the west, its ascending beams have glittered on the isles of the eastern seas . . . . And now we see the race of Japhet setting forth to people the isles, and the seeds of another Europe and a second England sown in the regions of the sun. But mark the words of the prophecy: 'He shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.' It is not said Canaan shall be his slave. To the Anglo-Saxon race is given the scepter of the globe, but there is not given either the lash of the slave-driver or the rack of the executioner. The East will not be stained with the same atrocities as the West; the frightful gangrene of an enthralled race is not to mar the destinies of the family of Japhet in the Oriental world; humanizing, not destroying, as they advance; uniting with, not enslaving, the inhabitants with whom they dwell, the British race may," etc., etc.
And he closes his vision with an invocation from Thomson:
"Come, bright Improvement! on the car of Time, And rule the spacious world from clime to clime."
Very well, Bright Improvement has arrived, you see, with her civilization, and her Waterbury, and her umbrella, and her third-quality profanity, and her humanizing-not-destroying machinery, and her hundred-and-eighty death-rate, and everything is going along just as handsome!
But the prophet that speaks last has an advantage over the pioneer in the business. Rev. Mr. Gray says:
"What I am concerned about is that we as a Christian nation should wipe out these races to enrich ourselves."
And he closes his pamphlet with a grim Indictment which is as eloquent in its flowerless straightforward English as is the hand-painted rhapsody of the early prophet:
"My indictment of the Queensland-Kanaka Labor Traffic is this
"1. It generally demoralizes and always impoverishes the Kanaka, deprives him of his citizenship, and depopulates the islands fitted to his home.
"2. It is felt to lower the dignity of the white agricultural laborer in Queensland, and beyond a doubt it lowers his wages there.
"3. The whole system is fraught with danger to Australia and the islands on the score of health.
"4. On social and political grounds the continuance of the Queensland Kanaka Labor Traffic must be a barrier to the true federation of the Australian colonies.
"5. The Regulations under which the Traffic exists in Queensland are inadequate to prevent abuses, and in the nature of things they must remain so.
"6. The whole system is contrary to the spirit and doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel requires us to help the weak, but the Kanaka is fleeced and trodden down.
"7. The bed-rock of this Traffic is that the life and liberty of a black man are of less value than those of a white man. And a Traffic that has grown out of 'slave-hunting' will certainly remain to the end not unlike its origin."
Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.
From Diary:—For a day or two we have been plowing among an invisible vast wilderness of islands, catching now and then a shadowy glimpse of a member of it. There does seem to be a prodigious lot of islands this year; the map of this region is freckled and fly-specked all over with them. Their number would seem to be uncountable. We are moving among the Fijis now—224 islands and islets in the group. In front of us, to the west, the wilderness stretches toward Australia, then curves upward to New Guinea, and still up and up to Japan; behind us, to the east, the wilderness stretches sixty degrees across the wastes of the Pacific; south of us is New Zealand. Somewhere or other among these myriads Samoa is concealed, and not discoverable on the map. Still, if you wish to go there, you will have no trouble about finding it if you follow the directions given by Robert Louis Stevenson to Dr. Conan Doyle and to Mr. J. M. Barrie. "You go to America, cross the continent to San Francisco, and then it's the second turning to the left." To get the full flavor of the joke one must take a glance at the map.
Wednesday, September 11.—Yesterday we passed close to an island or so,
and recognized the published Fiji characteristics: a broad belt of clean
white coral sand around the island; back of it a graceful fringe of
leaning palms, with native huts nestling cosily among the shrubbery at
their bases; back of these a stretch of level land clothed in tropic
vegetation; back of that, rugged and picturesque mountains. A detail of
the immediate foreground: a mouldering ship perched high up on a
reef-bench. This completes the composition, and makes the picture
In the afternoon we sighted Suva, the capital of the group, and threaded our way into the secluded little harbor—a placid basin of brilliant blue and green water tucked snugly in among the sheltering hills. A few ships rode at anchor in it—one of them a sailing vessel flying the American flag; and they said she came from Duluth! There's a journey! Duluth is several thousand miles from the sea, and yet she is entitled to the proud name of Mistress of the Commercial Marine of the United States of America. There is only one free, independent, unsubsidized American ship sailing the foreign seas, and Duluth owns it. All by itself that ship is the American fleet. All by itself it causes the American name and power to be respected in the far regions of the globe. All by itself it certifies to the world that the most populous civilized nation, in the earth has a just pride in her stupendous stretch of sea-front, and is determined to assert and maintain her rightful place as one of the Great Maritime Powers of the Planet. All by itself it is making foreign eyes familiar with a Flag which they have not seen before for forty years, outside of the museum. For what Duluth has done, in building, equipping, and maintaining at her sole expense the American Foreign Commercial Fleet, and in thus rescuing the American name from shame and lifting it high for the homage of the nations, we owe her a debt of gratitude which our hearts shall confess with quickened beats whenever her name is named henceforth. Many national toasts will die in the lapse of time, but while the flag flies and the Republic survives, they who live under their shelter will still drink this one, standing and uncovered: Health and prosperity to Thee, O Duluth, American Queen of the Alien Seas!
Row-boats began to flock from the shore; their crews were the first
natives we had seen. These men carried no overplus of clothing, and this
was wise, for the weather was hot. Handsome, great dusky men they were,
muscular, clean-limbed, and with faces full of character and
intelligence. It would be hard to find their superiors anywhere among
the dark races, I should think.
Everybody went ashore to look around, and spy out the land, and have that
luxury of luxuries to sea-voyagers—a land-dinner. And there we saw more
natives: Wrinkled old women, with their flat mammals flung over their
shoulders, or hanging down in front like the cold-weather drip from the
molasses-faucet; plump and smily young girls, blithe and content, easy
and graceful, a pleasure to look at; young matrons, tall, straight,
comely, nobly built, sweeping by with chin up, and a gait incomparable
for unconscious stateliness and dignity; majestic young men athletes for
build and muscle clothed in a loose arrangement of dazzling white, with
bronze breast and bronze legs naked, and the head a cannon-swab of solid
hair combed straight out from the skull and dyed a rich brick-red. Only
sixty years ago they were sunk in darkness; now they have the bicycle.
We strolled about the streets of the white folks' little town, and around over the hills by paths and roads among European dwellings and gardens and plantations, and past clumps of hibiscus that made a body blink, the great blossoms were so intensely red; and by and by we stopped to ask an elderly English colonist a question or two, and to sympathize with him concerning the torrid weather; but he was surprised, and said:
"This? This is not hot. You ought to be here in the summer time once."
"We supposed that this was summer; it has the ear-marks of it. You could take it to almost any country and deceive people with it. But if it isn't summer, what does it lack?"
"It lacks half a year. This is mid-winter."
I had been suffering from colds for several months, and a sudden change of season, like this, could hardly fail to do me hurt. It brought on another cold. It is odd, these sudden jumps from season to season. A fortnight ago we left America in mid-summer, now it is midwinter; about a week hence we shall arrive in Australia in the spring.
After dinner I found in the billiard-room a resident whom I had known somewhere else in the world, and presently made, some new friends and drove with them out into the country to visit his Excellency the head of the State, who was occupying his country residence, to escape the rigors of the winter weather, I suppose, for it was on breezy high ground and much more comfortable than the lower regions, where the town is, and where the winter has full swing, and often sets a person's hair afire when he takes off his hat to bow. There is a noble and beautiful view of ocean and islands and castellated peaks from the governor's high-placed house, and its immediate surroundings lie drowsing in that dreamy repose and serenity which are the charm of life in the Pacific Islands.
One of the new friends who went out there with me was a large man, and I had been admiring his size all the way. I was still admiring it as he stood by the governor on the veranda, talking; then the Fijian butler stepped out there to announce tea, and dwarfed him. Maybe he did not quite dwarf him, but at any rate the contrast was quite striking. Perhaps that dark giant was a king in a condition of political suspension. I think that in the talk there on the veranda it was said that in Fiji, as in the Sandwich Islands, native kings and chiefs are of much grander size and build than the commoners. This man was clothed in flowing white vestments, and they were just the thing for him; they comported well with his great stature and his kingly port and dignity. European clothes would have degraded him and made him commonplace. I know that, because they do that with everybody that wears them.
It was said that the old-time devotion to chiefs and reverence for their persons still survive in the native commoner, and in great force. The educated young gentleman who is chief of the tribe that live in the region about the capital dresses in the fashion of high-class European gentlemen, but even his clothes cannot damn him in the reverence of his people. Their pride in his lofty rank and ancient lineage lives on, in spite of his lost authority and the evil magic of his tailor. He has no need to defile himself with work, or trouble his heart with the sordid cares of life; the tribe will see to it that he shall not want, and that he shall hold up his head and live like a gentleman. I had a glimpse of him down in the town. Perhaps he is a descendant of the last king—the king with the difficult name whose memory is preserved by a notable monument of cut-stone which one sees in the enclosure in the middle of the town. Thakombau—I remember, now; that is the name. It is easier to preserve it on a granite block than in your head.
Fiji was ceded to England by this king in 1858. One of the gentlemen present at the governor's quoted a remark made by the king at the time of the session—a neat retort, and with a touch of pathos in it, too. The English Commissioner had offered a crumb of comfort to Thakombau by saying that the transfer of the kingdom to Great Britain was merely "a sort of hermit-crab formality, you know." "Yes," said poor Thakombau, "but with this difference—the crab moves into an unoccupied shell, but mine isn't."
However, as far as I can make out from the books, the King was between the devil and the deep sea at the time, and hadn't much choice. He owed the United States a large debt—a debt which he could pay if allowed time, but time was denied him. He must pay up right away or the warships would be upon him. To protect his people from this disaster he ceded his country to Britain, with a clause in the contract providing for the ultimate payment of the American debt.
In old times the Fijians were fierce fighters; they were very religious, and worshiped idols; the big chiefs were proud and haughty, and they were men of great style in many ways; all chiefs had several wives, the biggest chiefs sometimes had as many as fifty; when a chief was dead and ready for burial, four or five of his wives were strangled and put into the grave with him. In 1804 twenty-seven British convicts escaped from Australia to Fiji, and brought guns and ammunition with them. Consider what a power they were, armed like that, and what an opportunity they had. If they had been energetic men and sober, and had had brains and known how to use them, they could have achieved the sovereignty of the archipelago twenty-seven kings and each with eight or nine islands under his scepter. But nothing came of this chance. They lived worthless lives of sin and luxury, and died without honor—in most cases by violence. Only one of them had any ambition; he was an Irishman named Connor. He tried to raise a family of fifty children, and scored forty-eight. He died lamenting his failure. It was a foolish sort of avarice. Many a father would have been rich enough with forty.
It is a fine race, the Fijians, with brains in their heads, and an inquiring turn of mind. It appears that their savage ancestors had a doctrine of immortality in their scheme of religion—with limitations. That is to say, their dead friend would go to a happy hereafter if he could be accumulated, but not otherwise. They drew the line; they thought that the missionary's doctrine was too sweeping, too comprehensive. They called his attention to certain facts. For instance, many of their friends had been devoured by sharks; the sharks, in their turn, were caught and eaten by other men; later, these men were captured in war, and eaten by the enemy. The original persons had entered into the composition of the sharks; next, they and the sharks had become part of the flesh and blood and bone of the cannibals. How, then, could the particles of the original men be searched out from the final conglomerate and put together again? The inquirers were full of doubts, and considered that the missionary had not examined the matter with—the gravity and attention which so serious a thing deserved.
The missionary taught these exacting savages many valuable things, and
got from them one—a very dainty and poetical idea: Those wild and
ignorant poor children of Nature believed that the flowers, after they
perish, rise on the winds and float away to the fair fields of heaven,
and flourish there forever in immortal beauty!
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.
When one glances at the map the members of the stupendous island wilderness of the Pacific seem to crowd upon each other; but no, there is no crowding, even in the center of a group; and between groups there are lonely wide deserts of sea. Not everything is known about the islands, their peoples and their languages. A startling reminder of this is furnished by the fact that in Fiji, twenty years ago, were living two strange and solitary beings who came from an unknown country and spoke an unknown language. "They were picked up by a passing vessel many hundreds of miles from any known land, floating in the same tiny canoe in which they had been blown out to sea. When found they were but skin and bone. No one could understand what they said, and they have never named their country; or, if they have, the name does not correspond with that of any island on any chart. They are now fat and sleek, and as happy as the day is long. In the ship's log there is an entry of the latitude and longitude in which they were found, and this is probably all the clue they will ever have to their lost homes."—[Forbes's "Two Years in Fiji."]
What a strange and romantic episode it is; and how one is tortured with curiosity to know whence those mysterious creatures came, those Men Without a Country, errant waifs who cannot name their lost home, wandering Children of Nowhere.
Indeed, the Island Wilderness is the very home of romance and dreams and mystery. The loneliness, the solemnity, the beauty, and the deep repose of this wilderness have a charm which is all their own for the bruised spirit of men who have fought and failed in the struggle for life in the great world; and for men who have been hunted out of the great world for crime; and for other men who love an easy and indolent existence; and for others who love a roving free life, and stir and change and adventure; and for yet others who love an easy and comfortable career of trading and money-getting, mixed with plenty of loose matrimony by purchase, divorce without trial or expense, and limitless spreeing thrown in to make life ideally perfect.
We sailed again, refreshed.
The most cultivated person in the ship was a young English, man whose home was in New Zealand. He was a naturalist. His learning in his specialty was deep and thorough, his interest in his subject amounted to a passion, he had an easy gift of speech; and so, when he talked about animals it was a pleasure to listen to him. And profitable, too, though he was sometimes difficult to understand because now and then he used scientific technicalities which were above the reach of some of us. They were pretty sure to be above my reach, but as he was quite willing to explain them I always made it a point to get him to do it. I had a fair knowledge of his subject—layman's knowledge—to begin with, but it was his teachings which crystalized it into scientific form and clarity—in a word, gave it value.
His special interest was the fauna of Australasia, and his knowledge of the matter was as exhaustive as it was accurate. I already knew a good deal about the rabbits in Australasia and their marvelous fecundity, but in my talks with him I found that my estimate of the great hindrance and obstruction inflicted by the rabbit pest upon traffic and travel was far short of the facts. He told me that the first pair of rabbits imported into Australasia bred so wonderfully that within six months rabbits were so thick in the land that people had to dig trenches through them to get from town to town.
He told me a great deal about worms, and the kangaroo, and other coleoptera, and said he knew the history and ways of all such pachydermata. He said the kangaroo had pockets, and carried its young in them when it couldn't get apples. And he said that the emu was as big as an ostrich, and looked like one, and had an amorphous appetite and would eat bricks. Also, that the dingo was not a dingo at all, but just a wild dog; and that the only difference between a dingo and a dodo was that neither of them barked; otherwise they were just the same. He said that the only game-bird in Australia was the wombat, and the only song-bird the larrikin, and that both were protected by government. The most beautiful of the native birds was the bird of Paradise. Next came the two kinds of lyres; not spelt the same. He said the one kind was dying out, the other thickening up. He explained that the "Sundowner" was not a bird it was a man; sundowner was merely the Australian equivalent of our word, tramp. He is a loafer, a hard drinker, and a sponge. He tramps across the country in the sheep-shearing season, pretending to look for work; but he always times himself to arrive at a sheep-run just at sundown, when the day's labor ends; all he wants is whisky and supper and bed and breakfast; he gets them and then disappears. The naturalist spoke of the bell bird, the creature that at short intervals all day rings out its mellow and exquisite peal from the deeps of the forest. It is the favorite and best friend of the weary and thirsty sundowner; for he knows that wherever the bell bird is, there is water; and he goes somewhere else. The naturalist said that the oddest bird in Australasia was the, Laughing Jackass, and the biggest the now extinct Great Moa.
The Moa stood thirteen feet high, and could step over an ordinary man's
head or kick his hat off; and his head, too, for that matter. He said it
was wingless, but a swift runner. The natives used to ride it. It could
make forty miles an hour, and keep it up for four hundred miles and come
out reasonably fresh. It was still in existence when the railway was
introduced into New Zealand; still in existence, and carrying the mails.
The railroad began with the same schedule it has now: two expresses a
week-time, twenty miles an hour. The company exterminated the moa to get
Speaking of the indigenous coneys and bactrian camels, the naturalist said that the coniferous and bacteriological output of Australasia was remarkable for its many and curious departures from the accepted laws governing these species of tubercles, but that in his opinion Nature's fondness for dabbling in the erratic was most notably exhibited in that curious combination of bird, fish, amphibian, burrower, crawler, quadruped, and Christian called the Ornithorhynchus—grotesquest of animals, king of the animalculae of the world for versatility of character and make-up. Said he:
"You can call it anything you want to, and be right. It is a fish, for it lives in the river half the time; it is a land animal, for it resides on the land half the time; it is an amphibian, since it likes both and does not know which it prefers; it is a hybernian, for when times are dull and nothing much going on it buries itself under the mud at the bottom of a puddle and hybernates there a couple of weeks at a time; it is a kind of duck, for it has a duck-bill and four webbed paddles; it is a fish and quadruped together, for in the water it swims with the paddles and on shore it paws itself across country with them; it is a kind of seal, for it has a seal's fur; it is carnivorous, herbivorous, insectivorous, and vermifuginous, for it eats fish and grass and butterflies, and in the season digs worms out of the mud and devours them; it is clearly a bird, for it lays eggs, and hatches them; it is clearly a mammal, for it nurses its young; and it is manifestly a kind of Christian, for it keeps the Sabbath when there is anybody around, and when there isn't, doesn't. It has all the tastes there are except refined ones, it has all the habits there are except good ones.
"It is a survival—a survival of the fittest. Mr. Darwin invented the theory that goes by that name, but the Ornithorhynchus was the first to put it to actual experiment and prove that it could be done. Hence it should have as much of the credit as Mr. Darwin. It was never in the Ark; you will find no mention of it there; it nobly stayed out and worked the theory. Of all creatures in the world it was the only one properly equipped for the test. The Ark was thirteen months afloat, and all the globe submerged; no land visible above the flood, no vegetation, no food for a mammal to eat, nor water for a mammal to drink; for all mammal food was destroyed, and when the pure floods from heaven and the salt oceans of the earth mingled their waters and rose above the mountain tops, the result was a drink which no bird or beast of ordinary construction could use and live. But this combination was nuts for the Ornithorhynchus, if I may use a term like that without offense. Its river home had always been salted by the flood-tides of the sea. On the face of the Noachian deluge innumerable forest trees were floating. Upon these the Ornithorhynchus voyaged in peace; voyaged from clime to clime, from hemisphere to hemisphere, in contentment and comfort, in virile interest in the constant change Of scene, in humble thankfulness for its privileges, in ever-increasing enthusiasm in the development of the great theory upon whose validity it had staked its life, its fortunes, and its sacred honor, if I may use such expressions without impropriety in connection with an episode of this nature.
"It lived the tranquil and luxurious life of a creature of independent means. Of things actually necessary to its existence and its happiness not a detail was wanting. When it wished to walk, it scrambled along the tree-trunk; it mused in the shade of the leaves by day, it slept in their shelter by night; when it wanted the refreshment of a swim, it had it; it ate leaves when it wanted a vegetable diet, it dug under the bark for worms and grubs; when it wanted fish it caught them, when it wanted eggs it laid them. If the grubs gave out in one tree it swam to another; and as for fish, the very opulence of the supply was an embarrassment. And finally, when it was thirsty it smacked its chops in gratitude over a blend that would have slain a crocodile.
"When at last, after thirteen months of travel and research in all the Zones it went aground on a mountain-summit, it strode ashore, saying in its heart, 'Let them that come after me invent theories and dream dreams about the Survival of the Fittest if they like, but I am the first that has done it!
"This wonderful creature dates back like the kangaroo and many other Australian hydrocephalous invertebrates, to an age long anterior to the advent of man upon the earth; they date back, indeed, to a time when a causeway hundreds of miles wide, and thousands of miles long, joined Australia to Africa, and the animals of the two countries were alike, and all belonged to that remote geological epoch known to science as the Old Red Grindstone Post-Pleosaurian. Later the causeway sank under the sea; subterranean convulsions lifted the African continent a thousand feet higher than it was before, but Australia kept her old level. In Africa's new climate the animals necessarily began to develop and shade off into new forms and families and species, but the animals of Australia as necessarily remained stationary, and have so remained until this day. In the course of some millions of years the African Ornithorhynchus developed and developed and developed, and sluffed off detail after detail of its make-up until at last the creature became wholly disintegrated and scattered. Whenever you see a bird or a beast or a seal or an otter in Africa you know that he is merely a sorry surviving fragment of that sublime original of whom I have been speaking—that creature which was everything in general and nothing in particular—the opulently endowed 'e pluribus unum' of the animal world.
"Such is the history of the most hoary, the most ancient, the most venerable creature that exists in the earth today—Ornithorhynchus Platypus Extraordinariensis—whom God preserve!"
When he was strongly moved he could rise and soar like that with ease. And not only in the prose form, but in the poetical as well. He had written many pieces of poetry in his time, and these manuscripts he lent around among the passengers, and was willing to let them be copied. It seemed to me that the least technical one in the series, and the one which reached the loftiest note, perhaps, was his—
"Come forth from thy oozy couch,
O Ornithorhynchus dear!
And greet with a cordial claw
The stranger that longs to hear
"From thy own own lips the tale
Of thy origin all unknown:
Thy misplaced bone where flesh should be
And flesh where should be bone;
"And fishy fin where should be paw,
And beaver-trowel tail,
And snout of beast equip'd with teeth
Where gills ought to prevail.
"Come, Kangaroo, the good and true
Foreshortened as to legs,
And body tapered like a churn,
And sack marsupial, i' fegs,
"And tells us why you linger here,
Thou relic of a vanished time,
When all your friends as fossils sleep,
Immortalized in lime!"
Perhaps no poet is a conscious plagiarist; but there seems to be warrant for suspecting that there is no poet who is not at one time or another an unconscious one. The above verses are indeed beautiful, and, in a way, touching; but there is a haunting something about them which unavoidably suggests the Sweet Singer of Michigan. It can hardly be doubted that the author had read the works of that poet and been impressed by them. It is not apparent that he has borrowed from them any word or yet any phrase, but the style and swing and mastery and melody of the Sweet Singer all are there. Compare this Invocation with "Frank Dutton"—particularly stanzas first and seventeenth—and I think the reader will feel convinced that he who wrote the one had read the other:
"Frank Dutton was as fine a lad
As ever you wish to see,
And he was drowned in Pine Island Lake
On earth no more will he be,
His age was near fifteen years,
And he was a motherless boy,
He was living with his grandmother
When he was drowned, poor boy."
"He was drowned on Tuesday afternoon,
On Sunday he was found,
And the tidings of that drowned boy
Was heard for miles around.
His form was laid by his mother's side,
Beneath the cold, cold ground,
His friends for him will drop a tear
When they view his little mound."
The Sentimental Song Book.
By Mrs. Julia Moore, p. 36.