Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Captain Cook commanded that “all female visitants should be excluded from both the ships,” in order that “he might'prevent, if possible, the importation of a dangerous disease into this island,” which he knew some of his men then “labored under.” But Cook was received as the long-expected and venerated god Lono; and the natives were enraptured on seeing the ships contain large quantities of iron-a metal they had already learned to prize more highly than silver or gold, from some small pieces that had drifted ashore haphazard on wreckage. A council having been held to determine how to obtain iron, it was decided that the best method would be to propitiate the "god.” The Hawaiians offered the best of everything they had — "hogs, vegetables, kapa, and women;" and, according to all native accounts, Cook himself accepted as his companion for the night the daughter of the highest chiefess on the island. It was a costly sacrifice to the self-interested worshipers. Within a year the disease imparted by the guests to their too hospitable entertainers had spread from one end of the group to the other. Malo's statement regarding the plague of 1804 may be exaggerated, but there is no question that throughout this period pestilence and disease decimated the population.

During the second period, from 1820 to the present time, two of the causes above mentioned—infanticide and war — may be said to have been inoperative. The few revolutions and rebellions that have taken place were almost bloodless; and infanticide, owing to the disappearance of the economic ground for it, as well as to the teaching of the missionaries, has practically ceased. Some new causes, however, have arisen.

From 1820, or even earlier, to almost the present time, the decrease of the Hawaiian people has come about through the twofold process of a small number of births and a large number of deaths in proportion to population. Thus, according to Jarves, in 1839, on the island of Kauai, with a population of 8,853 (8,754?), including 3,070 adult women, there were only 65 women who had three or more children each; and in 1840, in the district of Ewa, Oahu, with a population of 2,792, there were 132 deaths, but only 61 births.

1. In an article in the Hawaiian Spectator, 1838, Rev. A. Bishop stated that “more than half who enter the marriage state do not bear children,” and that "perhaps not one in four of the families now existing have children of their own alive.” These assertions, although doubtless exaggerated, must be regarded as having a foundation in fact. Unfruitfulness prevailed, at least to a limited extent, previous to 1820, and seems to have increased for some time after that date. Its cause is unknown. Licentiousness is not a satisfactory explanation. Promiscuity along with disease will account for it only in part. It may be said of course that, under certain conditions, a low birth-rate is in accordance with a general law of life — applicable to plants and animals as well as to human beings: that when living organisms change, beyond a certain degree, their conditions and habits of life, their powers of reproduction deteriorate. Why this should be perhaps no reason can be given, except the very general one — which after all explains nothing — that the lack of adjustment which arises between the individual and its environment, consequent on its rapid transition from a natural to an artificial, or from a less artificial to a more artificial, mode of life, affects prejudicially its reproductive powers. The Hawaiians in a very few years came in contact with civilization at almost every point, and they were apt pupils. They took everything offered. In fact, it might be said that they adopted too quickly civilization, such as was presented to them. Thus the chiefs, that class of the people who first came under the influence of civilization and accepted it most fully, were the ones who became childless soonest, and who disappeared most rapidly.

2. The causes of the large death-rate are in brief two—vice and disease. For both of these, people of Christian nations are largely to blame. In 1839 Malo stated that licentiousness was one of the chief causes of the decrease of population. Disease arising from this vice, he asserted, "has become prevalent among the people, and even children, and all the people of the islands are miserably diseased; .... Foreigners have lent their whole influence to make the Hawaiian Islands one great brothel.” This statement is borne out by the facts. In 1826 Lieutenant John



Percival, of the United States schooner"Dolphin,” “the mischiefmaking man-of-war,” arrived at Honolulu. When he learned that a law was in force which, he said, “deprived [the seamen] of an enjoyment they had always been in participation of when they visit this island,” he demanded an interview with Kaahumanu, the queen regent, in order to have it abrogated. Not having been successful in his object, a few days later he returned and said to her, according to the account of Rev. H. Bingham, snapping his fingers and clinching his fists: "Tomorrow I will give my men rum; look out: they will come for women; and if they do not get them, they will fight. My vessel is just like

On the following day, Sunday, the sailors landed in force, attacked and partially wrecked the house of the prime minister, also that of the missionary, and would probably have beaten Mr. Bingham to death had he not been rescued by the natives. The chiefs were thus intimidated. Women were taken off to the ships. And Lieutenant Percival and his men remained three months in the harbor of Honolulu.

In 1838 the Hawaiian government passed a law forbidding the importation of "rum, brandy, gin, ale, and all distilled spirits whatsoever,” except in small quantities, with the consent of the governor, for medicinal or mechanical purposes—the home manufacture of distilled spirits had previously been prohibited. But in the following year Captain Laplace of the French frigate "Artémise" arrived, and presented a treaty for the king's signature. Should the king and chiefs refuse to sign this document, Laplace declared in his manifesto, "war will immediately commence, and all the devastations, all the calamities, which may be the unhappy but necessary results, will be imputed to themselves alone, and they will also pay the losses which the aggrieved foreigners, in these circumstances, shall have a right to reclaim.' Soon the treaty was signed. Immediately Laplace presented another treaty, one of the articles of which provided that French merchandise, “and particularly wines and brandy, cannot be prohibited, and shall not pay an import duty higher than 5 per cent. ad valorem.This treaty was brought to the king at five o'clock in the afternoon, and he was required to sign it by break


fast time the next morning. When the semi-civilized monarch protested against the wrong being done to his country, and pictured the evils that would result therefrom to his people, Laplace replied: "Civilization eat up the savage.” This treaty also

· was signed. A few months latter a vessel belonging to the French consul brought to Honolulu a cargo of liquor and, characteristically enough, a Roman Catholic bishop and two priests, thus helping to establish in the minds of the natives that peculiar connection between “the spiritual” and “the spirituous” which has so often been observed in the dealings of civilized peoples with uncivilized.

The English, too, have contributed their share to "eat up the savage.” Lord Paulet, in command of H. M. S. "Carysfort," arrived in Honolulu in 1843, and, in keeping with other commanders of the time, immediately made out a list of demands. With these Kamehameha III. could not comply, and was obliged, in order to avoid war, to make a provisional cession of his kingdom to the crown of Great Britain. One of the articles of the treaty of cession declared that the laws then existing "shall be in full force so far as natives are concerned,” until the receipt of communications from England. But, in violation of this provision, the law against fornication was soon abolished. “During the six months previous to its abrogation,” said Mr. Damon, seamen's chaplain at Honolulu, "I am bold to assert that, in proportion to the number of seamen visiting this port, a higher regard for purity and morality did not exist in any port this side Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope. Since the force of the law has been restrained, the tide has changed. . . . . Boatloads of lewd women have been seen going and returning from vessels which have recently touched at this harbor for supplies. The law is prostrate —the arm of the law is paralyzed — the officers of justice permitted to witness iniquity, but forbidden to arrest the guilty offenders. The most disgusting scenes are to be seen at noonday in the streets of Honolulu and around certain places of resort. .. Landsmen as well as seamen have taken advantage of this state of public morals.” I have mentioned a few of the acts of government officials only, when in the employ.


ment of their respective countries. The deeds of injustice done, the outrages committed, the crimes perpetrated by irresponsible seamen, when ten thousand of them annually frequented the islands, and when it was proverbial that "God did not rule west of America," would not bear recital. Foreigners had lent their whole influence, said Malo, who knew whereof he spake, “to make the Hawaiian Islands one great brothel.”'

Under such a state of things as that which prevailed generally in Hawaii, the diseases of civilization, when first introduced, made sad havoc among the careless children of nature. The pestilence of 1804 has already been mentioned. In 1848-49 measles, whooping cough, diarrhæa, and influenza carried off, it is estimated, more than ten thousand persons. And a few years later, in 1853, smallpox caused in eight months 2,485 deaths. To the inevitable evils — lack of care, poor houses, unsuitable clothing, improper food, ignorance of natural law, etc. were added the artificial evils of civilization. These combined burdens were too much for the Hawaiian people to bear, as indeed they would have been too much for any race of human beings. Well might David Malo exclaim : "The kingdom is sick—it is reduced to a skeleton—and is near to death ; yea, the whole Hawaiian nation is near to a close."

The evils of civilization, in so far as they have affected the Hawaiian people, have almost invariably been regarded as arising from commerce. This view, however, is very inadequate. Commerce and missions are the two great pioneer forces of civilization. But, while there is much good in each, there is also some evil. Each has been an instrument of progress and an instrument of decline ; each, like the Levitical law, has contained blessings and cursings, bestowing life with one hand and dealing death with the other. But, while the evils of commerce have always been freely acknowledged, those of missions have invariably been ignored. To most missionaries, however, it might well be said : “Physician, heal thyself.” The claim is not now made, of course, that the missions in Hawaii have been an evil, nor that they have done more harm than good; but merely that they were by no means an unmixed good; that in certain

« PreviousContinue »