Life in Hawaii, by Titus Coan
Copyright ©1882, 1997 (electronic edition by Edward J. Coan)
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Notes on the Stations—Hawaii—Governor Kaukini— Maui—Crater of Hale-a-ka-la—Molokai—The Leper Settlement—Oahu—Kauai—The State of the Church.
A FEW notes on other parts of the Hawaiian Islands may not be irrelevant in this narrative.
The great awakening of which I have written so fully was felt in a greater or less degree over all the islands of the group, and the ingatherings into all the churches, from the beginning to the present day, have been more than 70,000. My visits to the different islands and stations, my fraternal communion with the faithful laborers, and the cordial interest I have found among many thousands of Hawaiians in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, have been "as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion" to my soul.
On the north of Hawaii I have met my earnest brother Lyons, full of poetic fire; have passed several times through Hamakua, once a populous district of his field, and have seen the gathering thousands in their places of worship. I have visited at his cool and elevated station in Waimea, surrounded like Jerusalem by mountains, having Mauna Kea on the east, Mauna Loa on the south-east, Hualalai on the south, and the mountains of Kohala on the north, and all these towering heights in full view. In the midst of this amphitheater of hills stood his great stone church, where 1,000 or 2,000 natives would assemble on special occasions to hear the Gospel, to worship the Lord, and to unite in happy festivals.
During one of my visits at Waimea I was prostrated by fever, and for two Sundays was unable to occupy the pulpit; the only time, according to my recollection, that I have been prevented by sickness from going to the sanctuary of the Lord since I came to these islands.
On one occasion I went with Mr. Lyons over the northern hills to Kohala, the most northerly district of our Islands, once a part of his parish, where we spent a week in religious services, and where we saw many penitents asking the way to Zion. And I have visited this field again, since the arrival of its present faithful and successful occupant, the Rev. Elias Bond, and rejoiced in all its fruit-bearing prosperity.
I have descended into the deep and grand valley of Waipio, filled like a bee-hive with human beings, garmented in the living green of its vegetation, shining with its running streams, with its silvery cascade leaping from a precipice 1,500 feet in height, and thundering forever in the deep basin below.
I have stood on the very summit of Mauna Kea, 14,000 feet above my Hilo home, and looked down upon the three neighboring mountains, over the great valley of Waimea, upon the green fields and shining bay of Hilo, and right opposite upon the calm waters of Kawaihae, and over and beyond the thirty miles’ channel upon the sleeping mountain of Maui, and the quiet heights of Lanai and Kahoolawe.
On the coast at Kawaihae I have seen and measured the last great heiau, or heathen temple, of the renowned Kamehameha I., where human sacrifices were offered to the gods that can not save or destroy. I have also visited other heathen temples in Kona, Puna, Hilo, on Molokai and in other places. In the forest under the shadow of Mauna Kea, I have seen the bullock-pit where the dead body of the distinguished Scotch naturalist, Douglass, was found under painfully suspicious circumstances, that led many to believe that he had been murdered for his money. A mystery hangs over the event which we are unable to explain.
Leaving Northern Hawaii, let us glance at the western coast. Here lies the extended and once populous district of Kona, sheltered from the trade winds by the great mountains, with a smooth and glassy sea lapping its shores, with many a quiet boat-landing in little bays and coves along its coast, and with the deep and safe harbor Kaawaloa, near the center of the coast-line. On the Kaawaloa side of this bay is the place where Capt. Cook fell under the blows of the enraged Hawaiians. On the south, or Kealakeakua side of the bay, we see the little heiau built for Opukahaia, or Obookaia, and the cocoa-palm which his young hands planted, before he was taken to the United States.
A few miles south of this bay we find, perhaps, the largest and most renowned idol temple in this group, with a house and yard attached called "Hale a Keawe"—House of Keawe. This house was once filled with grim idols, and in this heiau the most obscene and bloody rites were observed. It was also called Puuhonua, meaning place of refuge, and resembled, in some of its features and uses, the old Hebrew cities of refuge. No place on the Islands was considered more sacred and awful than this. Life and death hung on the wills of the kings and priests who worshiped in this temple. When I first visited the place, many of the old idols remained, some standing within, others on the outside, in front of the house, as guardians and to blast the lawless wight whose temerity led him to approach the habitation of the gods. These idols were blackened and blear, and ready to depart like frightened ghosts, and I understand that they have all disappeared, as was long ago predicted by Isaiah, "The idols He shall utterly abolish."
At Kailua, with my now sainted companion, I visited the venerable father and mother Thurston in the days of their strength, and also the good and kind-hearted Artemas Bishop, and our hearts burned with love and veneration for those devoted servants of the Lord Jesus. Mr. Thurston was a man of great power, both physical and spiritual. He wielded a battle-axe, and yet he was meek and modest to a fault. He was often invited and advised to visit the United States before his earthly course was finished, and we have heard that he replied, "No, I had rather die than to return to the fatherland." His good wife was a "mother in Israel," full of wisdom and grace.
In Kailua one would see the gigantic chief Kuakini, or John Adams. His weight was near four hundred pounds. He was governor and lord of all Hawaii, with an iron will, fearing neither man nor monarch, proud to call out a thousand men to build a causeway, or a dam for enclosing fish, to cut sandal-wood in the mountains, or to build a large church edifice. A member of the Kailua church, he often visited Hilo, and he sat in his arm-chair, under shelter, to superintend the building of the vast native church in the days of Mr. Goodrich. He loved power and flattery, and, like Jehu, "he took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart." He sometimes refused to obey his king, saying that on Hawaii his power was supreme. He was somewhat oppressive of the people. For example; he would occasionally make the tour of the whole island, sending messengers before to command the natives to build him large houses at all places where he would spend a night or a day or two, and also to prepare large quantities of fish, fowls, pigs, eggs, poi, potatoes, etc., against his arrival. When he swept around the island his attendants would number two or three score of men, women, and children, all to be fed by the people where he lodged. In some favorable place he would sometimes encamp for a month, consuming almost all the eatables within a radius of two or three miles. He loved money; and when his pastor advised his people not to plant tobacco and awa, he would say to those on his own lands: "Listen to your teacher; do what I tell you. I tell you to plant tobacco."
I had testimony that he would sometimes purchase a barrel of rum or whisky, put it in a secret place, and order appointed agents to sell it out for two dollars a bottle secretly. Some of these acts came to the knowledge of his pastor, Mr. Thurston, at whose kind and faithful efforts to reform him the Governor took offense, and retorted with abusive language. Finally, he was suspended from the church. and in this state he remained for a long time, when he fell ill and died.
I was in Kailua, and visited him on his death-bed, conversing and praying with him, with his consent. His mind was dark and gloomy, and he said: "I am a great sinner, and I do not think the Lord will care for me or save me." There we leave him, thankful for all the good he did, and sorrowful that his light did not shine brighter.
At Kealakeakua we visited our good friends, the Rev. C. Forbes and his wife, and here we rejoiced in the good work of the Lord. As in Kailua, the people were numerous, and the Sabbath congregations large. All things looked promising at this station, and our fellowship with the teachers and the people was of the most happy character. Mr. and Mrs. Van Duzee were assistants in missionary work. And after all had left, the Rev. J. D. Paris, whose first station was in Kau, was located there, and labored in that field for many years.
Kau was only seventy miles from Hilo, and he was our nearest neighbor. Here I have visited frequently, meeting at different times the various mission families who succeeded one another as vacancies in the field occurred through removal or death. The Rev. Messrs. Paris, Hunt, Kinney, Gulick, Shipman, and Pogue, with their wives, have all been laborers in this district.
In the six districts or counties of Hawaii the native population has greatly decreased, and of the numerous missionaries of the American Board who have occupied the several stations, none remain except at Kohala, Waimea, and Hilo. We who still hold on are soon to pass away, leaving the churches in the hands of Hawaiian pastors.
As I have visited the churches and missionaries on the other islands of the group, and felt a deep interest in the pastors and the people, I will give a brief sketch of most of them.
Lahaina, the capital of Maui, was once full of natives. The large stone church, with galleries, was full on every Lord’s day, morning and afternoon, and the things of the kingdom of God seemed prominent in the minds of the people. The beloved Mr. and Mrs. Richards were highly esteemed, and their doors and hearts were ever open to their missionary brethren and sisters who landed feeble and faint from the sluggish Hawaiian craft on their way down from Hawaii to attend the annual meeting in Honolulu or on their return voyage. What relief, what comfort, what cheer we all found in the hospitality of this half-way station! It was like an oasis in the desert, and a fountain of cold water amidst burning sands. Here our children gamboled under the waving palms and the spreading hau-trees, eating delicious grapes and cocoanuts, while the parents conversed on themes of paramount interest.
We have met here not only the patriarch Richards, but the active seaman’s chaplain, Spaulding, the faithful Dr. Alonzo Chapin, and the hospitable brother and sister Baldwin, he being the last missionary pastor of that church. There were several distinguished native Christians in this place with whom we held pleasant intercourse. Well do we remember the good and noble Governor Hoopili and his wife. They were the soul of kindness and Christian friendship. Whenever we approached their neatly-kept dwelling, their doors were opened at once with a warm welcome, and with outstretched hands and benignant smiles they would call out, "Aloha! komo mai" —love to you! come in!
But most of those with whom we took sweet counsel in Lahaina, have long since gone the way of all the earth; the population of the town has decreased, and the place has become a cane-field, with a crushing-mill and boiling-house in the center of the village, a large amount of sugar being made there. A native pastor has charge of the church.
Lahainaluna, or Upper Lahaina, is about two miles back of Lahaina, and elevated several hundred feet above it. This is the seat of our Hawaiian College, established, and for many years sustained, by the American Board. It was designed as a training-school of high grade for preparing young men for teachers, preachers, and for the occupation of the more important stations in the nation. This school was in operation when we arrived at the Islands, under the care and instruction of the Revs. Lorrin Andrews, E. W. Clark, and Sheldon Dibble. All these brethren and their wives are dead. The institution has been transferred to the Hawaiian Government, and a large number of teachers has been employed there since the first corps removed.
In early years we usually paid an annual visit to this seminary, on our way to or from Honolulu. These visits were always refreshing, on account of the height, coolness, and grand scenery of the station, the cordial welcome of the teachers, and the profound interest we felt in the prosperity of the school.
The views from Lahainaluna are beautiful and sublime. Inland rise the serrated mountains, and the deep valleys of West Maui; in front are the placid roadstead and shining channel separating Maui from Lanai; the latter name signifying veranda or porch, and so called because it stands like a portico directly in front of Maui. To the right we look across a channel some twelve miles wide, separating Maui from Molokai. This channel is often disturbed by strong trade winds which lash the waters into white foam, rendering the passage for boats difficult and sometimes dangerous.
We have been several times at Hana, a station on the eastern shore of East Maui, and looking directly across the wide Hawaiian channel upon Kohala. It is a beautiful and romantic little place, but very difficult of access. On one side are numerous and deep gulches, with rapid streams of water, often dangerous to cross. On the other side there are extended fields of sun-heated lavas, without water or human habitations.
This station was once occupied by the Revs. D. T. Conde and Eliphalet Whittlesey. On our way to Honolulu our vessel has stopped at this place to take the missionaries there to the General Meeting, giving us an opportunity to spend a Sunday and to meet the natives.
Once we found these isolated laborers destitute of almost all edibles except arrow-root and milk. In spite of their regrets, we spent a very happy day notwithstanding this lack of provisions. We ate and were satisfied, and we rejoiced in the privilege of Christian fellowship with these self-denying teachers. It is now a long time since these families returned to the United States.
The Rev. Sereno Bishop, only son of the missionary Artemas Bishop, labored there for a while with his devoted Christian wife, but subsequently assumed the charge of the institution at Lahainaluna. Hana is now occupied by a native pastor, and is greatly reduced in population.
Wailuku on Maui is an important missionary station. This field, like many others, was once teeming with thousands of natives. Its romantic valleys, its lofty precipices, its sparkling rills, and its perennial verdure on the one side, and, on the other, its broad plains, its sand dunes, its emerald foot-hills, and the towering mountain, Haleakala, with the blue ocean on the left, make it a spectacle of beauty, of variety, and of grandeur not often surpassed.
This station was once occupied by the devoted Miss Ogden and the Rev. J. S. Green, who conducted a large and flourishing boarding-school for Hawaiian girls. This was afterward sorrowfully abandoned for lack of funds.
We have visited Wailuku when the beloved brother and sister Clark, and the energetic Armstrong and his wife, were toiling here with success; and we have been the guests of our honored brother and sister Alexander, still living and laboring for the Master in this important field. The Greens, the Clarks, Miss Ogden, and Dr. Armstrong have all gone, and those who remain will only "a little longer wait." Two native pastors are settled here over small congregations, and there is also an English-speaking church for the foreign residents.
This district is now full of agricultural energy. Vast fields of sugar-cane wave where weeds grew before; crushing-mills groan, boiling-trains steam, smoke-stacks puff, centrifugals buzz, and ship-loads of sugar are produced in and around Wailuku. Extended and expensive ditches bring water from the mountains of East Maui, converting vast fields of dry and hot sand into rich and productive soil; the telephone, the telegraph, and the railroad are there, and the material improvements multiply. All would be matters of rejoicing and congratulation could we but report equal progress in moral and spiritual power.
On the highlands of East Maui stands the Makawao Female Seminary, an important institution, conducted by Miss Helen Carpenter, a lady of great skill and devotion in this necessary work. A few years ago I attended the annual examination of this seminary, and spent a week as a guest of the principal. I was exceedingly interested in the appearance of the pupils, and in the remarkable skill and tact of the teacher. All the instruction is in the English language, and it was delightful to see the acquisitions of the scholars in the various studies they had pursued.
During this visit at Makawao we made up a party to ascend to the summit crater of Haleakala—"House of the Sun," the distance from this point being about thirteen miles, with a bridle-path for horses all the way. Notwithstanding many previous visits to Maui, I had never before indulged myself with a trip to this monster of craters. We had a delightful ride over hills and swales, and through fields of strawberries and ohelos. About midway of the distance we rested for a short time under shade trees near a lovely rill of cool limpid water, a beautiful spot which has since been selected by the Alexanders, as an invigorating retreat from the heat and dust of Wailuku and Haiku, and which they have named Olinda.
We arrived at the summit about 3 P.M. We were now 10,217 feet above sea-level, and yet the sun was hot and the mercury high. In eight hours the thermometer had fallen forty degrees, and the cold was intense. Our guide and some of the party had collected such scanty fuel as could be found, and we made ourselves as comfortable as was possible for the night, around the fire that was kindled, and under shelter of an overhanging rock. In the morning the ground was whitened with frost, and water was frozen.
The view of this vast cauldron needs to be repeated and continued for a long time, in order to get a full and clear impression of its magnitude. It has been estimated that the circumference on the outer rim is thirty miles, and the depth 1,800 feet. The floor of this amphitheater is studded with sixteen cones. four to six hundred feet high, composed of scoria and cinders, appearing from the upper rim like small sand dunes dropped from a dumping-car.
The eastern rim of the crater is broken down as low as its floor, furnishing a broad passage for the molten flood to the sea. This river of fire, some three miles wide, must have been a terrific spectacle, as it rushed in raging billows from the mouth of the crater and hurried down the mountain-side and into the ocean.
It is supposed that this crater is the largest and deepest on our planet, and more nearly resembles some of the yawning craters of the moon. Time was when the raging fires on this mountain must have surpassed in grandeur and brilliancy any that have been anywhere seen by later generations. For ages these lurid fires have been extinct, and from time immemorial silence has reigned over the sleeping hill. Can geology, can all human science tell us when these fires were kindled? how long they raged and roared? and when they were extinguished? Was it before or after the Prophet Isaiah uttered, in sublime language, a description of the Tophet near Jerusalem? "For Tophet is ordained of old. . . . . He hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord like a stream of brimstone doth kindle it."
But another scene, if less grand, yet more beautiful, awaited us. As the sun descended lower and lower in the west, the fleecy clouds came drifting in from the sea, and, massing around the bases of East and West Maui, covered all the seas, and bays, and channels in every direction, leaving only the tops of Hawaii, Maui, and Lanai visible. The upper surface of these clouds was fleecy white, and appeared like a vast sea of eider-down. We stood above the clouds in bright sunshine, but we saw no water and no land in any direction, except the summits of the mountains gilded in the setting sun. We gazed upon the scene below us with intense interest. As the sun went lower and lower, his rays began to dance, and play, and sparkle upon this vast sea of snowy whiteness, in lambent beauty, and as he dipped into the fleecy bed a flood of glowing scintillations flashed over the whole surface, the prismatic tints twinkling, dancing, gleaming, and quivering in inimitable beauty. A scene unique indeed, and unexcelled by anything of the kind I had seen from the heights of Chili or of Hawaii.
Then the night came on, and the clouds rested like a pall over land and sea, while in the clear heavens above us the bright constellations sparkled as on a winter’s night in the far-away home-land.
In 1836 I visited the island of Molokai, which at that time was occupied by the earnest and laborious missionaries, the Rev. H. R. Hitchcock and his wife. Congregations and schools were large, and the people seemed to come readily under the influence and leading of their teachers. The Revs. Lowell Smith, Samuel G. Dwight, A. O. Forbes, and Mr. Bethuel Munn have all labored on this island, but now for years past no American missionary has resided there.
Molokai is strongly marked with palls, or precipices, and at the base of one 3,000 feet high, lie the Kalaupapa plains, stretching seaward, and having no other communication than by sea with the outside world. Thither more than a thousand of our poor suffering people have been carried during the last decade and a half, to linger through a living death until the fearful leprosy brings them to the grave. Our sanitary laws are relentless, and in the case of this disease they doom husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters to lifelong separation.
The scenes upon our wharves when a company of lepers is being embarked for transportation to their settlement are often agonizing.
The present number in the settlement is about 700, among whom are many of our well-educated Christians and some of the native pastors. A physician and medicines, a church edifice and chaplain are provided by a kindly Government; friends are allowed to communicate with their banished kindred, and all that thoughtful kindness can do to ameliorate the miseries of those forlorn beings is done.
Oahu is better known to the reading world than any of the other Hawaiian Islands. Thousands of strangers have visited Honolulu; it is the capital of the kingdom, and has a population of about 15,000. When I first saw it, on the 6th of June, 1835, it was anything but an inviting place. The streets were narrow, irregular, and dirty, the houses mostly small and thatched with grass, some being built of adobes, or sun-dried mud-bricks, and others on posts set in the ground. Only a few stone or framed houses were then seen, and these were mostly owned by foreign residents and native chiefs. Hardly a green tree or shrub was seen within the limits of the town. On its western flank, a small creek came down the valley called Nuuanu, furnishing muddy water for the taro ponds, and bathing and washing places for a multitude of natives with their pigs, ducks, and dogs. At several points removed from the stream, shallow wells had been dug six to ten feet deep, where hard and brackish water was found, but this water satisfied none but Hawaiians.
Along the shore in sandy and marshy places the cocoa-palm flourished with rushes, hibiscus, and pandanus growths; but over the extended plain, some three miles in length and about one mile in breadth, there was little but an arid desert of burning coral sand and detritus from the rocky hills, the reflection from which was scorching.
But times, and scenes, and scenery are changed. Industry, civilization, and science have made this scorched desert blossom as the rose. The organization of a good government, the increase of revenues, the introduction of capital, with brain power and muscular energy, have made Honolulu a place of remarkable beauty. Large reservoirs have been constructed high up the valleys, pipes have been laid all over the city, and spouting hydrants cool the air and refresh the trees, plants, and flowers of a thousand yards and gardens. Viewed from the sea as one enters the harbor, or from one of the hills that guard it in the rear, the town is a picture of enchanting loveliness. It is a tropical paradise, glowing in perennial beauty.
And, to add to the richness of the soil, the value of products and the charm of the scenery, artesian wells are beginning to throw up their pure jets and to pour out their limpid streams to cheer the plains around.
Honolulu also has an improved and excellent harbor, in which are often seen the waving flags of nearly all civilized nations, with five or six home steamers, and an inter-island fleet of which so young and so small a nation need not be ashamed. Its wharves, its esplanade, its custom-house, its palace, its fine Government house and other public buildings, offer a surprising contrast to what we saw forty years ago. It has two large Hawaiian churches, a seamen’s bethel where many thousands of the sons of the deep have heard the sound of the Gospel, first from the lips of the Rev. Mr. Diell, and now for some forty years from Dr. Damon. There is also the flourishing Fort Street church, under the care of the Rev. Walter Frear, where the Gospel is preached faithfully to an intelligent audience. Just across the street is the Catholic cathedral with its bishop, and not far from this an English Reformed Catholic church with its bishop and priests.
The city is provided with schools of various grades, and its literary, social, and benevolent associations are numerous and active.
The Hawaiian Board of Home and Foreign Missions has its seat in Honolulu, with a yearly income of more than $30,000, to be appropriated to the several branches of Christian work under its care.
It may be doubted whether any city in Christendom of equal size has a larger proportion of intelligent Christian workers, who give more of their substance in the cause of beneficence, than the foreign residents of Honolulu.
The first native church in this city was organized under the pastoral care of the Rev. Hiram Bingham, who came to the Islands in 1820. In 1836 his congregation, which sometimes numbered 4,000, were worshiping in a thatched house that covered an area of 12,348 square feet; this afterward gave place to the stone church, which stands as one of the landmarks of the city. The plan of the building was made by Mr. Bingham, and most of the materials for it were collected under his supervision. The massive walls were raised to a considerable height, when he was called to return to the fatherland on account of the failing health of his beloved wife. Both husband and wife died in the United States, leaving behind them examples of rare devotion and blessed memories.
The Rev. R. Armstrong became the successor of Mr. Bingham, until called to be Minister of Education for the Hawaiian kingdom, when the Rev. E. W. Clark assumed the pastorate until he left for the United States. In 1863, the present incumbent, Rev. H. H. Parker, was ordained and installed the fourth pastor of this church.
The second Hawaiian church in Honolulu was organized many years ago under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Lowell Smith, and since his resignation, it has been successively under the care of the Rev. A. O. Forbes, and of two native pastors.
Near the large stone church is the flourishing Kawaiahao Female Seminary. Its germ was a small family school, under the care of the Rev. L. H. Gulick and wife. Miss Lydia Bingham, principal of the Ohio Female College near Cincinnati, was called to take the charge of this school. Under her patient energy and tact, with the help of her assistants, it prospered greatly, and became a success. When Miss Bingham came to Hilo, the seminary was committed to the charge of her sister, whose earnest labors for seven years in a task that is heavy and exhausting so reduced her strength, that in June, 1880 she was obliged to resign her post. It is now occupied by Miss Helen Norton, a graduate of South Hadley.
At Punahou, about two miles east of Honolulu, stands a quiet little institution called Oahu College. The location is beautiful, healthy, and convenient. The buildings stand just at the opening of an enchanting valley, and near a spring of cool crystal water; there are lofty and verdant hills in the background, and the broad waters of the Pacific in front. The land was once owned by the Rev. H. Bingham, and was given by him to this institution.
The foundations of the Punahou school were laid with the prayers and benedictions of all the fathers and mothers of the mission, and of its friends and patrons. For years it was devoted exclusively to the children of the missionaries; but as foreign residents and their children increased, the accommodations were enlarged and the doors opened to others. The college has grown and been greatly prospered. It has had many graduates, who have done honor to their professors, to themselves, and to the cause of science and Christianity. It needs and deserves endowments. We doubt not it would receive generous and efficient aid from American benefactors, could they come near enough to feel its wants and appreciate its merits.
The missionary out-stations on Oahu were but three, viz: Ewa, Waialua, and Kaneohe. I used to visit these places when large congregations assembled to be instructed by their pastors; but the population has decreased, the churches are diminished, and the remnants of these once prosperous flocks, now under the care of native pastors, show but little of their former life.
At Waialua there was established, by the Rev. O. H. Gulick, a boarding-school for Hawaiian girls. On his removal as a missionary to Japan, the institution obtained as an efficient principal the daughter of the Rev. J. S. Green (Miss Mary Green), under whose care the school still flourishes.
Mr. Parker and I once went as delegates of our mission around Oahu, visiting every station, going much from house to house, teaching, exhorting, and praying in families, in fields, and by the wayside, and holding meetings in school-houses, churches, and private dwellings, and endeavoring to reach all with the life-giving Word. It was a laborious but interesting tour. In some villages we found many ignorant, stupid, and misled people. Some were Romanists, some Mormons, and others without any creed, or faith, or hope. Like brutes they were living, and like brutes dying.
We met many confident Romanists, some with their catechism and rosary, and with full assurance that they were on the direct road to Paradise, and that all who differed from them were bound to perdition. I asked some of them if they read the Bible, and they answered "Yes," showing me their little catechism, with more prayers to Mary than to God. I asked one who claimed to be a teacher how many commandments there were in the Decalogue. He answered "Ten"; but on going through with them in order, I found that he omitted the second, and divided the tenth into two parts to make good the number.
The island of Kauai is separated from Oahu by a channel some seventy-five miles wide. It is 8,000 feet high and nearly circular, being thirty miles long and twenty-eight wide. It is a lovely and fertile island, and some of its mountain and valley scenery is exquisitely beautiful. Although of igneous origin, yet the degradation caused by time, by winds and water, gives the island the appearance of a more ancient formation than that of the other islands of the group. Its cones and hills are rounded by attrition, and its pit craters are so nearly filled by alluvial deposits that they are far less distinctly marked than those of Maui and Hawaii.
Historic geology tells us that the Islands were probably formed in a successive order, commencing with Kauai in the north-west and continuing in a south-east direction to Hawaii, which is still in the hands of the Founder, and unfinished.
Kauai was very early occupied as a mission field, and the Whitneys, Gulicks, Lafons, Doles, Wilcoxes, Johnsons, and Rices have been faithful laborers there, but all have left the scenes of time or engaged in other pursuits; and the good Dr. and Mrs. J. W. Smith and Mrs. Rice alone remain of the mission band.
As this island was somewhat remote and out of the track of my annual voyagings to Honolulu, and in former years could be reached only by schooners that were liable to make slow passages, I never felt that I had the time to visit it until in 1874. An opportunity then offering to make the circuit-trip in a steamer, I enjoyed the privilege of spending one night with the hospitable family of Dr. Smith, and of touching at a few points, where I found the beauty and luxuriance of the island equal to their fame.
Much capital has been invested there in sugar plantations, and the skill and industry of those who have enlisted in this enterprise have produced crops worth millions of dollars. The island has a considerable proportion of arable land, its flora is luxuriant, and its vegetation covers the island even to the highest hill-tops.
This rapid glance at the different islands is mainly to mention a few facts respecting the transformations in this so recently heathen archipelago. Over all the group the changes, physical and moral, are wonderful. Everywhere schools and churches abound; knowledge and wealth increase; commerce is active; more than a hundred thousand acres of our soil wave with crops; the noise of artisans is heard; our smelting-furnaces glow at midnight; and day and night the steam-whistle echoes among our hills. Our climate, our scenery, our peace and security, are privileges that are hardly rivalled in any land, and all that we need to secure permanent peace and prosperity, with ever advancing progress, is thankfulness to the Giver, and a faith devoted to all that is pure.
The amount given by the churches of the United States for evangelic work here must have been, from time beginning, about one million and a half dollars, and the number of laborers sustained, in whole or in part, by appropriations of the American Board, has been one hundred and seventy.
At the present time there are only four foreign pastors for the twenty native churches of Hawaii; on Maui, Molokai, and Lanai there are nineteen native churches with no foreign pastors; on Oahu there are eleven native churches and but one foreign pastor; on Kauai six native churches and no foreign pastor, making in all, fifty-six Hawaiian churches with only five foreign pastors.
Many of the fathers and mothers of the mission have finished their course and gone home; their dust sleeps in this land of their adoption, or in the land of their birth. Some were recalled, some entered the Government service, and some of those who were still at their posts, earnest and active, were advised to resign. Then the Board, feeling that its work as a Board was virtually accomplished here, ceased to consider this a mission field, and, entering upon a new policy, sent out no more reinforcements, and urged the installation of native pastors over churches that had been gathered and fed with tender care by the faithful shepherds of the flock.
Some of our thoughtful brethren feared that a retrograde movement would come with such a change; others reasoned that where the Word and the Spirit converted the heathen, the same regenerating power would provide among those converts, suitable men to act as pastors and teachers. But our native converts were as children, and up to this day many of them need milk rather than strong meat. They are weak, fickle, and easily turned from the way. Intelligent and patient adherence to a work which calls for watchfulness and continuous care, and a deep and conscientious feeling of responsibility, can not be found or soon developed among a primitive race like the Polynesians. China, Japan, and India have their old civilization with its literature, their men of keen intellect, capable of heading and guiding enterprises of importance: men of reasoning and thinking minds, who when convinced of the truth and importance of the Christian religion, and persuaded to receive it as a rule of life, are soon prepared to become leaders and teachers of others.
It is not so with the Polynesians. Prematurely to leave them to teach, guide, and govern themselves in the concerns of the soul, may be more disastrous and more fatal than to leave babes to take care of themselves while the parents withdraw. The Word and Spirit of the Lord have, in the missionaries, provided agents for the conversion of the savages, and in these missionaries God has provided "nursing fathers and nursing mothers" for these infant churches. To my mind the only practical question in regard to our Pacific Islands churches is, when may they be wisely and safely left to the care of pastors from among themselves, or in other words, when does this child come to his majority?
Nearly all of our native pastors have been slack in church discipline, indiscriminate in receiving to church communion, and remiss in looking after wandering members, so that our church statistics are in so confused a state as to be past remedy. Out of more than 70,000 who have been received to the churches, our last report returns only 7,459, or about one in ten of those received. Is our case so much like the ten lepers healed by Christ, of whom only one "returned to give glory to God"? Or are the shepherds in fault? Do we come under the searching rebuke of the prophet: "My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth and none did seek after them"?
But it is right to add that the present low state of the Hawaiian churches must not all be laid at the door of the pastors. These are times of trial on account of material prosperity. There is an opportunity to gain money and luxuries, and the world seems to be in most men’s hearts, so that we are all passing through a struggle and a strait.
We hope for a brighter day. There has been a renewed effort to train up a class of young men for the ministry, who will, we trust, be better qualified for the office than many of their predecessors have been. To accomplish this, and at the earnest request of our Evangelical Association, the American Board has selected and sent to our aid the Rev. C. M. Hyde, D.D., a minister and pastor of ripe experience, to become president of our North Pacific Missionary Institute in Honolulu.
In this institute he has been laboring, with several assistants, with a wise and earnest zeal, for about three years, during which time the school has been gaining steadily in reputation.
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