Czar Alexander's representative to King Kamehameha

A Russian Visits Kamehameha I

By Otto von Kotzebue

Otto von Kotzebue was commander of the brig Rurik, sent on an around the world expedition by the Czar Alexander of Russia in 1816. The Rurik appeared in Hawaii at an interesting time: Unknown to Kotzebue, a German adventurer, Dr. George Anton Scheffer, claiming to represent the Czar, had entrenched himself and his party in a corner of Kauai, with the permission of Kamehameha’s enemy, King Kaumualii. Kamehameha suspected that the Rurik had come to reenforce Scheffer’s party.

November 21.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, we were distant only fifty miles from Hawaii, and were in sight of the mountain, Mauna Loa. By Elliot’s advice, I determined first to sail around the north side of Hawaii, in order to obtain, in Kawaihae Bay, where the Englishman, Young, lived, information respecting both the situation of the island, and the present residence of the king.

This precaution seemed to me to be the more necessary because, in case Kamehameha should happen to be dead, we ought to know how the people were disposed toward the Europeans. Besides this, the king often lives on the island of Oahu, and you save a considerable distance by avoiding the southern point of Hawaii, where the lofty Mauna Loa detains the navigator by calms. According to Elliot’s assurance, provisions could not be obtained but by bargaining with the king himself; because the inhabitants have not the liberty of supplying the ships.

At sunset, we were near the island; sailed along the north part, kept to the east side during the night, and, at daybreak, steered toward the northern point, which, on the twenty-second, at noon, lay southwest at the distance of eleven miles. The northeast side of Hawaii affords to the mariner a picturesque, but not inviting, prospect. The land rises regularly and gradually to an elevation which loses itself in the clouds.

It is said that the island is not fruitful on this side; but, to judge from the number of columns of smoke which we saw rise, it must be very populous. Elliot assured us that the piece of ground which he possessed on this side could only be used as a pasture for his hogs.

A canoe with two men, rowed toward us; and as I lay to, in hopes of obtaining some information here, one of the islanders immediately came on board, who offered to sell us a fowl, and some ropes of his own manufacture.

Elliot, who understood his language, was directly recognized by him as the Naja (so the king called him), and with much trouble drew from him the intelligence that the king was in the Bay of Kealakekua, and Young (Olohana) in the island of Oahu. The reserved and suspicious manner of the savage made us doubt the truth of his statement; and Elliot was of opinion that some disagreeable circumstance had occurred on the island which required the greatest precaution.

While we were engaged with the islander, the boat, which was fastened with a rope to the ship, was upset, and the man sitting in it fell out, but he immediately seized the rope, and suffered himself to be dragged behind the ship, though we were sailing very fast.

We were astonished at the strength of this man; we lay to, and our dealer leaped into the sea to untie the boat; hereupon both the men had much trouble to right it, and to bale out the water, as the high waves continually dashed over it. As all this was done swimming, the reader may form some notion of their expertness in this art.

They were at last seated, but they had no oars, having lost them when the boat upset. An European would not have known how to help himself; they were, however, not at all embarrassed, for they found their safety in their strength, and rowed with their hands, briskly forward.

At two o’clock in the afternoon, we doubled the north point and sailed, at a distance of three quarters of a mile, along the shore, to Kawaihae Bay. Ships which double the north point of Hawaii must be very careful not to lose the oars, as sudden gusts of wind generally come from shore: some Americans who were negligent have lost theirs in this place.

We now plainly distinguished the objects on shore, and enjoyed a very pleasing prospect of green fields and many dwellings shaded by banana and palm trees. We saw here several morais, which belong to the chiefs of these parts, and may be recognized by the stone fence and the idols placed in them. Several canoes filled with girls rowed up to us; but as I had no time to show the politeness due to the fair sex, I sailed quickly on, in order to reach Kealakekua Bay as soon as possible, where I hoped to find Kamehameha.

The north point of Hawaii consists of low land, which rises in a straight line under an acute angle into the region of the clouds. As soon as you reach these parts, the monsoon has no longer any effect, and you may expect sea and land winds, frequently interrupted by total calms, and light breezes from every point of the compass; this was our case near Kawaihae Bay, where the wind entirely died away.

We now saw Young’s settlement of several houses built of white stone, after the European fashion, surrounded by palm and banana trees; the land has a barren appearance, and is said to be little adapted to agriculture, as it consists, for the most part, of masses of lava. A canoe, with six people, took advantage of the calm to come on board; and, being the king’s subjects (Kanakas, a name given to the lower class in the Sandwich Islands), they all recognized Mr. Elliot as the Naja; one of them, who had been a sailor on board an American ship in Boston, spoke a little English, and was a clever fellow; he remained on board, at Elliot’s request, to pilot our ship.

He was of opinion that the king was in Kealakekua, and that Young had been sent on business to Oahu; he further told us that there were lying at anchor two ships at Oahu, and one at Kealakekua, all with the American flag, of which the latter had lost all her masts in a violent storm near the Sandwich Islands.

When our pilot learned that he was on board a Russian ship, he became very uneasy; and, on Mr. Elliot’s questioning him about the ground of his apprehension, he stated as follows: Five months since, two Russian ships belonging to the American Company (the Elemenia and the Discovery) had stopped here; there had been some disputes between the Russians and the natives, in which the latter, according to the account of the relater, appeared in a very favorable fight. When the ships left the Sandwich Islands, they had threatened to return very soon with a strong force, and had likewise mentioned a ship of war whose views were also hostile to the inhabitants.

We now understood the uneasiness shown by the first islander, and it was with much difficulty that Mr. Elliot prevented our savage, who wanted to escape us by jumping into the sea; while we assured him that we had come solely for the purpose of repairing the injury done by our countrymen to his people. I was very glad to have received all this information before my interview with Kamehameha, who, being incensed against the Russians, might easily take our ship for the expected hostile man-of-war. I now doubly felt how useful Elliot was to us, as he might become here, in some measure, our guardian genius. A perfect calm detained us this day on the same spot.

November 23.

We made but little progress all this day for want of wind. Early in the morning we were visited by a canoe, for the purpose of inquiring what our vessel was. They brought us news, at the same time, that the king had left Kealakekua, and had gone to Kailua, a small bay a few miles to the north, where he would only remain for the night, and in the morning proceed farther northward along the coast to the bonito fishery. I therefore immediately dispatched the canoe to the king with the information that a Russian ship of war had come with friendly intentions, the commander of which wished to speak with His Majesty, and therefore requested him not to leave Kailua, where he hoped to arrive tomorrow: the Naja also announced his arrival to the king.

During the night a fresh breeze carried us near to Kailua. The current set by day toward the south, and at night toward the north, parallel with the coast, which is a consequence of the land and sea winds.

November 24.

At daybreak we approached the bay; several boats, sent by the king, came to meet us, and I embraced this opportunity of sending Elliot and our gentlemen on shore, to acquaint the king with the object of our voyage. As the island of Hawaii does not afford a convenient harbor, I had determined, as soon as I had settled with the king respecting the delivery of the provisions, to sail to the island of Oahu, where Elliot assured me there was a very safe harbor, not mentioned by any preceding navigator.

I left the Rurik, got under sail, and made short tacks close shore. We saw the American ship which had been lying at Kealakekua sailing to Kailua, where she cast anchor, though the bay was not secure, being open, and the bottom consisting of corals.

At eight o’clock in the morning Elliot had happily executed his commission advantageously for us, and came on board with of the most distinguished chiefs of the country, of whom one was the queen’s brother; and these welcomed us in the name of the king. They were two extremely tall Herculean figures, whose dress in the newest fashion of Hawaii, struck us very much, as it merely consisted of a black frock and a small white straw hat. I learned from Elliot that the king had really expected the hostile ship of war, and had immediately given orders to station soldiers all along the coast; they were all prepared, and consisted already of four hundred men armed with muskets.

The king sent me word that he was very sorry not to be able visit me on board my ship, as his mistrustful people would not suffer him, but for his own part he had a better opinion of us, after Naja had acquainted him with the object of our voyage; and, as proof of his friendly intentions, he invited me to his camp, where he would entertain me with a pig baked in the ground. He had ordered, for my security, that one of the chiefs should remain on boadr as long as I stayed on shore, and accordingly I rowed on shore at ten o’clock, accompanied by Messrs. Elliot and Schischmareff, and a chief named John Adams.

The view of the king’s camp was concealed only by a narrow tongue of land, consisting of naked rocks, but when we had sailed round we were surprised at the sight of the most beautiful landscape. We found ourselves in a small sandy bay of the smoothest water, protected against the waves of the sea; on the bank was a pleasant wood of palm trees, under whose shade were built several straw houses; to the right, between the green leaves of the banana trees, peeped two snow-white houses, built of stone, after the European fashion, on which account this place has the mixed appearance of an European and Hawaiian village, which afforded us a new but charming prospect.

To the left, close to the water, on an artificial elevation, stood the morai of the king, surrounded by large wooden statues of his gods, representing caricatures of the human figure. The background of this valley is formed by the high, majestic Mauna Hualalai, the height of which, according to my estimation, is 1,687 toises. It rises on this side pretty steep; its ascent is varied by green fields and vales, with beautiful woods, between which you frequently perceive very large and overhanging rocks of lava, which give the whole landscape, by this mixture of wildness and cultivation, a most picturesque appearance.

A number of islanders armed with muskets stood on the shore. The king came to meet us as far as the landing place with some of his most distinguished warriors, and when we got out of the boat he came up to me and cordially shook me by the hand.

Curiosity brought the people from all sides, but the greatest order prevailed, and no noise or importunity was permitted. I now stood at the side of the celebrated Kamehameha, who had attracted the attention of all Europe, and who inspired me with the greatest confidence by his unreserved and friendly behavior.

He conducted me to his straw palace, which, according to the custom of the country, consisted only of one spacious apartment, and, like all the houses here, afforded a free draft both to the land and sea breezes, which alleviates the oppressive heat. They offered us European chairs, very neatly made, placed a mahogany table before us, and we were then in possession of all the furniture of the palace.

Though the king has houses built of stone in the European fashion, he prefers this simple dwelling, not to forsake the customs of his country; he imitates everything he knows to be useful, and tries to introduce it among his people; palaces built of stone appeared to him superfluous, as the straw houses are convenient, and as he only wishes to increase the happiness and not the wants of his subjects.

Kamehameha’s dress, which consisted of a white shirt, blue pantaloons, a red waistcoat, and a colored neckcloth, surprised me very much, for I had formed very different notions of the royal attire.

He, however, sometimes dresses very splendidly, having several embroidered uniforms and other articles of dress. The distinguished personages present at our audience, who had all seated themselves on the ground, wore a still more singular costume than the king; for the black frocks look very ludicrous on the naked body; add to this that they seldom fit, being purchased of American ships, where the people are not always so tall and so robust as the chiefs of the Sandwich Islands.

One of the ministers had the waist halfway up his back; the coat had been buttoned with the greatest difficulty; he perspired in his tight state dress; his distress was very evident, but fashion would not suffer him to relieve himself of this inconvenience. It is very singular that the savages should surpass the Europeans in bearing the inconveniencies which the power of fashion imposes on them.

The sentinels at the door were quite naked; a cartridge box and a pair of pistols were tied round their waist, and they held a musket in their hand.

After the king had poured out some very good wine and had himself drunk to our health, I made him acquainted with my intention of taking in fresh provisions, water, and wood. A young man of the name of Cook, the only white whom the king had about him, was quick, not without education, and spoke fluently the language of the country; he had formerly served as pilot on board a ship, but had been settled on the island for several years. He was a favorite with the king, and was in possession of a considerable portion of land; he acted as interpreter between us.

Kamehameha desired him to say to me as follows: "I learn that you are the commander of a ship of war, and are engaged in a voyage similar to those of Cook and Vancouver, and consequently do not engage in trade; it is therefore my intention not to carry on any with you, but to provide you gratis with everything that my islands produce. This affair is now settled, and no further mention need be made of it.

I shall now beg you to inform me whether it is with the consent of your emperor that his subjects begin to disturb me in my old age? Since Kamehameha has been king of these islands, no European has had cause to complain of having suffered injustice here. I have made my islands an asylum for all nations, and honestly supplied with provisions every ship that desired them.

Some time ago there came from the American settlement of Sitka some Russians, a nation with whom I never had any intercourse before; they were kindly received, and supplied with everything necessary; but they have ill rewarded me, for they behaved in a hostile manner to my subjects in the island of Oahu, and threatened us with ships of war, which were to conquer these islands; but this shall not happen as long as Kamehameha lives!

A Russian physician, of the name of Scheffer, who came here some months ago, pretended that he had been sent by the Emperor Alexander to botanize on my islands; as I had heard much good of the Emperor Alexander and was particularly pleased with his bravery, I not only permitted M. Scheffer to botanize, but also promised him every assistance; made him a present of a piece of land, with peasants, so that he could never want for provisions; in short, I tried to make his stay as agreeable as possible, and to refuse none of his demands. But what was the consequence of my hospitality? Even before he left Hawaii, he repaid my kindness with ingratitude, which I bore patiently. Upon this, according to his own desire, he traveled from one island to another; and, at last, settled in the fruitful island of Oahu, where he proved himself to be my most inveterate enemy; destroying our sanctuary, the morai; and exciting against me, in the island of Kauai, King Kaumualii, who had submitted to my power years before. Scheffer is there at this very moment, and threatens my islands."

Such was the account given by the king; for the truth of which I can only say that Kamehameha highly distinguishes every European who settles in his islands, if his conduct be good; and that he is generally known to be an upright and honest man. I am not personally acquainted with M. Scheffer, but have since learned the manner in which he came to the Sandwich Islands. He had served as physician on board the Suvarov, belonging to the Russian American Company, which went, in 1814, from Kronstadt to Sitka, under the command of Lieutenant Lasaref. From motives unknown to me, Lieutenant Lasaref left Dr. Scheffer, in 1815, at Sitka, and returned to Europe without a physician.

M. Baranof,who generally resides at Sitka, as director of all the Russian American colonies, and whose character is but indifferent, took him under his protection, and sent him to the Sandwich Islands; with what intention is not known. How he conducted himself there, the reader has been informed.

I assured Kamehameha that the bad conduct of the Russians here must not be ascribed to the will of our emperor, who never commanded his subjects to do an unjust act; but that the extent of his empire prevented him from being immediately informed of bad actions, which, however, never remained unpunished when they came to his knowledge.

The king seemed very much pleased on my assuring him that our emperor never intended to conquer his island; the glasses were immediately filled, to drink the health of the emperor; he was even more cordial than before, and we could not have desired a more agreeable and obliging host. He conversed with a vivacity surprising at his age, asked us various questions respecting Russia, and made observations.

Cook was not always able to translate the words that the king used, which were peculiar to the Hawaiian language and so witty that his ministers often laughed aloud. One of Kamehameha’s wives passed by our house, and in a friendly manner wished me a good morning through the door, but she was not allowed to enter, it being the king’s eating house.

With the king’s permission, we took a walk, accompanied by Cook and a guard of honor of five naked soldiers. We visited the favorite queen Kaahumanu, mentioned by Vancouver; we found her with the two other wives, and were very politely received by all.

The house which Kaahumanu inhabits is built very neatly, and is very cleanly in the interior; the entrance hall, in which the three wives were seated according to the Asiatic fashion, was covered with fine and elegant mats, and she herself was pretty closely wrapped up in the finest cloth of the country. Kaahumanu was seated in the middle, and the two other ladies on either side; and I had the honor to be invited to sit down opposite to them, likewise on the ground. They put to me several questions, which I answered to their satisfaction through Cook. Watermelons were brought and Kaahumanu was polite enough to cut one and hand me a piece.

The chief employment of the royal ladies consists in smoking
tobacco, combing their hair, driving away the flies with a fan, and eating. Kamehameha himself does not smoke; otherwise this custom has become so general in the Sandwich Islands, within these few years, that young children smoke before they learn to walk, and grown-up people have carried it to such an excess that they have fallen down senseless, and often died in consequence. They do not want pipe tubes, but the pipe heads, which, according to the custom of the country, they have always hanging at their side, constitute a part of the royal ornaments; these were of the size of the largest German pipes, made of dark wood, and mounted with brass, but which only rich people can procure.

Kaahumanu took a few whiffs with evident pleasure; she then swallowed a part of the smoke, and emitted the rest through her nostrils. Half dizzy, she gave me the pipe, and as I declined, she, astonished at my European stupidity, gave it to her neighbor, who, after a short enjoyment of it, gave it to the third wife. As soon as the pipe was emptied, a fresh one was filled, and went round in the same manner.

The second employment of the ladies is to dress their hair, which is cut short after their fashion; only over the forehead they let it grow a couple of inches long, smear it with a white sticky substance, and comb it back; the snow-white streaks which by this mode rise above the dark brown countenance give it a ludicrous appearance.

All the three queens were very large, corpulent women, who had lived to above half a century, and did not look as if they had ever been handsome. Their dress was distinguished from that of the other ladies by various silk handkerchiefs.

Before the door, on a mat, was seated the king’s daughter, a tolerably handsome girl; behind her stood a little Negro boy, holding a silk umbrella over her head to protect her from the rays of the sun; two other boys, with tufts of red feathers, drove away the flies from her: the whole group had a pleasing effect.

When I was about to rise, Kaahumanu held me back to inquire with much kindness after Vancouver, who, during his stay there, had found Kamehameha at variance with Kaahumanu, and had reconciled them. She seemed much affected at the news of his death.

After we had left the king’s wives, we visited his son. Cook informed me that this prince, as successor to the throne, had already begun to exercise the rights of his father, which consist in the fulfilling of the most important tabus.

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."

After we had dined, and left the house, the king was very anxious that my rowers should be well entertained; he gave orders to this effect to one of the chiefs, and the table was immediately laid out again. They were obliged to sit down, and were served with the same attention as had been shown us. The sailors were certainly never in their lives treated with so much ceremony; for each of them had, like us, a Kanaka standing behind him, with a tuft of feathers to drive away the flies.

Kamehameha’s first walk was to the morai; he embraced one of the statues, which was hung round more than the others with fruits and pieces of a sacrificed hog, saying, "These are our gods, whom I worship; whether I do right or wrong, I do not know; but I follow my faith, which cannot be wicked, as it commands me never to do wrong." This declaration from a savage, who had raised himself by his own native strength of mind to this degree of civilization, indicated much sound sense, and inspired me with a certain emotion.

While the king is gone into the morai, nobody is allowed to enter; and during that time we admired the colossal idols, cut in wood, and representing the most hideous caricatures. Kamehameha soon returned and conducted us to the house in which he had first received us; and we took our place as before, on chairs, while the distinguished personages seated themselves on the ground.

It was now near the time in which Kamehameha was accustomed to dine; he made an apology for eating in our presence, and said, "I have seen how the Russians eat; now you may satisfy your curiosity and see how Kamehameha eats." The table was not set out; but the dinner was ready placed in a distant corner, on banana leaves, which served instead of dishes; particular attendants, bending very low, brought it near to the king, where it was received by a chief, and placed on the table. The repast consisted of boiled fish, yams, kalo roots, and a roasted bird, a little larger than a sparrow, which lives on the summits of the mountains. It is very rare, and is a dish only for the royal table.

The king ate very quick, and with a good appetite, conversing, however, all the time. Instead of bread, he ate the kalo dough (poi), which, when diluted with water, becomes a soft pap; and, though the king possesses very handsome table utensils, it stands in a gourd shell at his right hand, in which he dips his forefinger when he eats fish or flesh, and dexterously stuffs a good portion of it in his mouth; and this slovenly way of eating is observed from the king down to the lowest menial. Kamehameha, who during the whole repast had made use only of his fingers, perceived very well that I attentively observed his motions, and said to me, "This is the custom in my country, and I will not depart from it!"

The bearer of his spitting tray does not quit him a moment, as he always holds the tray ready, which is made of wood, in the form of a snuffbox, and provided with a lid, which is opened when the king intends to make use of it, and then immediately closed. This careful preservation of the royal saliva is in consequence of a superstition that so long as they are in possession of this treasure, their enemies are not able to send him any sickness by conjuration.

After the king had dined, it was at last agreed what provisions I was to receive from Oahu; they consisted of forty-three hogs, a proportionate number of fowl and geese, every kind of fruit which the island produces, and as much wood as I wished to have. Kamehameha told me that he had sent for a confidential friend who should accompany me to Oahu and see that his orders were punctually obeyed; besides this, that I must have a companion to be able to put into the harbor of Oahu, this not being permitted to any Russian ship.

This highly generous conduct of a half-savage monarch exceeded my expectations, and I was now more fully convinced that, as a king, Kamehameha will not be easily replaced, his government being so greatly distinguished for justice, the instruction of his subjects, and the introduction of useful arts.

To give him some testimony of my gratitude, I presented him, in the name of the emperor, with two brass mortars (eight-pounders) with all their appendages, on the carriages of which the name Rurik was carved; a present which seemed to give him great pleasure. Besides this, I presented him with a quarter of a pipe of wine, as his stock was exhausted, and promised to send him some iron bars
from Oahu, which were necessary to build boats. I was very happy in being able to return his presents with articles useful to him.

Some very fine large apples, which I had brought with me from California, were quite new to the king. He immediately shared them with his ministers, and, as everybody found them very agreeable, the pips were preserved to make a trial whether these trees would thrive here, of which I make no doubt.

The skill of our painter was much admired, he having, with great rapidity, taken portraits of some of the chiefs, which were extraordinary likenesses. Even Kamehameha looked with surprise at the work of M. Choris, but long resisted my entreaties to suffer himself, as they here express it, to be transferred to paper: probably because he connected some idea of magic with this art. It was not till I had represented to him how happy our emperor would be to possess his likeness that he consented, and, to my great astonishment, M. Choris succeeded in taking a very good likeness of him, though Kamehameha, in order to embarrass him, did not sit still a moment, and made all kinds of faces, in spite of my entreaties.

At five o’clock in the afternoon we took leave of the king, who again repeated that we should want for nothing in the island of Oahu. As our companion had not yet arrived, I promised to lay to, near the coast, to wait for him. He considered as a great rarity a handsome tame horse, which the king had received from America, by an American ship, and which he suffered to run about unrestrained. A number of little boys had trodden the sand on the shore quite smooth, and with the assistance of a stick had with much skill drawn the Rurik under sail.

I was obliged, though with great regret, to part from Elliot de Castro, who had promised to accompany me to Oahu; but the king wished to have his physician and Naja again about him, and this request I could not refuse. Without the presence of Mr. Elliot, we should probably have fallen victims to the faults of others; and we indisputably owe to him the friendly reception that we met with here.

We had been cruising a couple of hours, and our companion did not yet appear; the sun set, and as our nearness to the coast might be dangerous in the dark, I fired some guns to put the king in mind of us. At eight o’clock Mr. Cook at length appeared, with our companion, who had been unable to come before, as he lived far in the interior of the island; he was a lively man, endowed with natural understanding, of the name of Manuja, who, though he was not one of the chief people of the country, was, however, honored in the highest degree with the confidence of the king, which was especially evinced by his entrusting to his care the most valuable European goods from his store.

Cook told us that Kamehameha never regarded the rank of his subjects; that he generally chose his confidants from the lower classes, and was seldom deceived in his choice. He behaves to his great men with justice indeed, but with rigor, and as he places little confidence in them, they are obliged to accompany him on his journeys, by which he deprives them of the opportunity to throw off his authority by a conspiracy. They have not forgotten that Kamehameha is the conqueror of their lands, and is now sole monarch, and they would certainly attempt to conquer their property if he did not know so well how to keep them in his power.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This