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A Russian Visits Kamehameha I (Page 3)
By Otto von Kotzebue
Kamehameha has ordered this from political motives, that no revolution may arise after his death; for as soon as the son fulfills the most important tabu, he is sacred, is associated with the priests, and nobody dare dispute the throne with him. The prince, as soon as he is admitted into the rights of his father, receives the name of Liholiho, that is, dog of all dogs (erroneous; liholiho means "fiery"); and such we really found him.
We entered a neat and small house, in which Liholiho, a tall, corpulent, and naked figure, was stretched out on his stomach, and just indolently raised his head to look at his guests; near him sat several naked soldiers armed with muskets, who guarded the monster; a handsome young native, with a tuft of red feathers, drove away the flies from him, and from his interesting countenance and becoming behavior, I should rather have taken him for the king's son.
Kamehameha, who, by his wise government, has acquired permanent glory, and has laid the foundation for the civilization and improvement of his people, ought to have a successor capable of prosecuting with zeal and judgment the work which he has begun. It would be very important for navigation if the Sandwich Islands were on a level with Europe in civilization; and the English, who have taken these islands under their protection, should take care that after Kamehameha's death a sensible man may succeed and every revolution be avoided. Kamehameha deserves to have a monument erected to him.
The dog of all dogs at last rose very lazily, and gaped upon us with a stupid, vacant countenance. My embroidered uniform seemed to meet his approbation, for he held a long conversation about it with a couple of naked chamberlains. I could not learn his age, as no account is kept of it. I guess it may be about twenty-two years, and am of opinion that his enormous corpulency is occasioned by his constant lying on the ground.
At dinnertime, we returned to Kamehameha's residence, where I was surprised to see on the shore barges, sixty or seventy feet long, built quite in the European fashion, which are employed to convey provisions from one island to another. Kamehameha exerts himself to draw European shipwrights to his country, and pays them liberally for their instruction. During our walk, we were always accompanied by a number of men and women, joking and making much noise, but at the same time behaving with great propriety.
We were very kindly received by Kamehameha, who, after inquiring how I liked the place, ordered wine to be brought, and conducted us to a neat house, built near the morai, where we found the table already laid out, after the European fashion. He pretended that no pork was allowed to be eaten in the house in which we had first been, because his wives lived near it; but Young, who was perfectly acquainted with the king's character, gave me a very different reason: he was of opinion that the king had chosen the house near the morai, in which he generally holds his sacrificial repasts, for our house of entertainment because he desired to offer the hog baked for our repast to his gods, out of gratitude for the reconciliation with the Russians.
The women dare not be present at the meals of the men, on pain of death; for which reason every family, besides their dwelling house, has two others, one for the repasts of the men, and one for those of the women.
The table was laid only for us Europeans, and the king and his ministers partook of nothing, though they were present; because, he said, that pork was tabu'd (forbidden) today. The hog, which was laid on a palm branch on the middle of the table, was cut up by one of the ministers, with various ceremonies; and besides this dish we had sweet potatoes, yams, and baked kalo roots.
The king was very talkative during the entertainment; he sometimes conversed with me, and then with his ministers, who could not refrain from laughing at his conceits. He is fond of wine, but does not indulge in it to excess; and was always anxious to fill our glasses. After having severally drunk the health of all his guests, after the English fashion, he desired us to drink the health of our emperor in a bumper; and when this was done, one of his ministers presented me with a collar of colored feathers, of admirable workmanship, which the king had worn himself on solemn days; as, for example, in time of war. He then said to me, through Cook, though he speaks tolerably good English himself, "I have heard that your monarch is a great hero; I love him for it, because I am one myself; and I send him this collar, as a testimony of my regard."
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