Then there was Dr. Judd, who has died since these lines were written, who came out as physician to the mission, and proved himself in the islands, as the world knows, a very able man, with statesmanship for some great emergencies which made him for years one of the chief advisers of the Hawaiian kings. It was to me a most touching sight to see, on a Sunday after church, Mrs. Thurston, his senior by many years but still alert and vigorous, taking hold of his hand and tenderly helping him out of the church and to his carriage.
And in Hilo, when you go to visit the volcano, you will find Dr. Coan, one of the brightest and loveliest spirits of them, all, the story of whose life in the remote island whose apostle he was, is as wonderful and as touching as that of any of the earlier apostles, and shows what great works unyielding faith and love can do in redeeming a savage people. When Dr. and Mrs. Coan came to the island of Hawaii, its shores and woods were populous; and through their labors and those of the Reverend Mr. Lyman and one or two others, thousands of men and women were instructed in the truths of Christianity, inducted into civilized habits of life, and finally brought into the church.
As you sail along the green coast of Hawaii from its northern point to Hilo, you will be surprised at the number of quaint little white churches which mark the distances almost with the regularity of mile-stones; if, later, you ride through this district or the one south of Hilo, you will see that for every church there is also a school-house; you will see native children reading and writing as well as our own at home; you may hear them singing tunes familiar in our own Sunday-schools; you will see the native man and woman sitting down to read their newspaper at the close of day; and if you could talk with them, you would find they knew almost as much about our late war as you do, for they took an intense interest in the war of the rebellion. And you must remember that when, less than forty years ago, Dr. and Mrs. Coan came to Hilo, the people were naked savages, with but one church and one school-house in the district, and almost without printed books or knowledge of reading. They flocked to hear the Gospel. Thousands removed from a distance to Hilo, where, in their rapid way, they built up a large town, and kept up surely the strangest "protracted meeting" ever held; and going back to their homes after many months, they took with them knowledge and zeal to build up Christian churches and schools of their own.
Over these Dr. Coan has presided these many years; not only preaching regularly on Sundays and during the week in the large native church at Hilo, and in two or three neighboring churches, but visiting the more distant churches at intervals to examine and instruct the members, and keep them all on the right track. He has seen a region very populous when he first came to it decrease until it has now many more deserted and ruined
house-places than inhabited dwellings; but, also, he has seen a great population turned from darkness to light, a considerable part of it following his own blameless and loving life as an example, and very many living to old age steadfast and zealous Christians.
On your first Sunday at Honolulu you will probably attend one or other of the native churches. They are commodious buildings, well furnished; and a good organ, well played, will surprise you. Sunday is a very quiet day in the Islands: they are a church-going people, and the empty seats in the Honolulu native churches give you notice of the great decrease in population since these were built.
If you go to hear preaching in your own language, it will probably be to the Seamen's Chapel where the Rev. Mr. Damon preaches—one of the oldest and one of the best-known residents of Honolulu. This little chapel was brought around Cape Horn in pieces, in a whale-ship many years ago, and was, I believe, the first American church set up in these islands. It is a curious old relic, and has seen many changes. Mr. Damon has lived here since 1846 a most zealous and useful life as seamen's chaplain. He is, in his own field, a true and untiring missionary, and to his care the port owes a clean and roomy Seamen's Home, a valuable little paper, The Friend, which was for many years the chief reading of the whalemen who formerly crowded the ports of Hawaii; and help in distress, and fatherly advice, and unceasing kindness at all times to a multitude of seamen during nearly thirty years. The sailors, who quickly recognize a genuine man, have dubbed him "Father Damon;" and he deserves, what he has long had, their confidence and affection.
The charitable and penal institutions of Honolulu are quickly seen, and deserve a visit. They show the care with which the Government has looked after the welfare of the people. The Queen's Hospital is an admirably kept house. At the Reform School you will see a number of boys trained and educated in right ways. The prison not only deserves a visit for itself, but from its roof you obtain, as I said before, one of the best views of Honolulu and the adjacent country and ocean.
Then there are native schools, elementary and academic, where you will see the young Hawaiian at his studies, and learn to appreciate the industry and thoroughness with which education is carried on all over these islands. You will see also curious evidence of the mixture of races here; for on the benches sit, and in the classes recite, Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, half white and half Chinese children; and the little pig-tailed Celestial reads out of his primer quite as well as any.
In the girls' schools you will see an occasional pretty face, but fewer than I expected to see; and to my eyes the Hawaiian girl is rarely very attractive. Among the middle-aged women, however, you often meet with fine heads and large, expressive features. The women have not infrequently a majesty of carriage and a tragic intensity of features and expression which are quite remarkable. Their loose dress gives grace as well as dignity to their movements, and whoever invented it for them deserves more credit than he has received. It is a little startling at first to see women walking about in what, to our perverted tastes, look like calico or black stuff night-gowns; but the dress grows on you as you become accustomed to it; it lends itself readily to bright ornamentation; it
is eminently fit for the climate; and a stately Hawaiian dame, marching through the street in black holaku—as the dress is called—with a long necklace, or le, of bright scarlet or brilliant yellow flowers, bare and untrammeled feet, and flowing hair, surmounted often by a low-crowned felt hat, compares very favorably with a high-heeled, wasp-waisted, absurdly-bonneted, fashionable white lady.
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Notes About Book:
Source: Nordhoff, Charles. Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands. Harper and Brothers, Publishers, 1875.
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