Two Ladies in Honolulu

Two Ladies in Honolulu

By Sophia Cracroft

Sophia Cracroft toured Hawaii with her friend, Jane Franklin, in the summer of 1861.

Tuesday, May 21, 1861. We set off at ten o’clock to see the schools, and drove at once to the Palace, round the front, to a separate wing behind, in which are the private apartrnents. The queen is so modest and respectful that it is difficult to make her accept the position due to her; but my aunt refused to enter the carriage first, and insists that she shall walk first.

Mr. Allen, the chancellor, accompanied us. The king saw us off and has a council today upon questions of finance, his great trouble, as the revenue is diminishing year by year, owing to the falling off of the whaling trade. It is expected, however, that this will be for the ultimate good of the community even in a commercial sense, as the people will adopt other means of support than the furnishing of whale ships with supplies. The king, however, looked anxious and preoccupied, as well he might be.

We drove first to a little school of about forty children – girls and boys, all or mostly orphans, white or of mixed blood, in age from eight or nine to perhaps fifteen; some of the boys may have been as old. They are taught in English; the Hawaiian language is not allowed within the walls of the enclosure. Mr. lngraham is, of course, an American, with the usual bad pronunciation of his race – for instance, a boy pronouncing promontory rightly was corrected and enjoined to say “promontory.” It is a primary school and payment is altogether voluntary. The children answered questions in geography and arithmetic and recited in poetry and prose, but I must say it was not easy to understand what they were repeating. Mr. Ingraham is assisted with the girls in sewing, etc., by a half-caste Hawaiian, Miss Chapman, who teaches them to sing in a childlike way.

From this primary school we drove to the Punahou College, a missionary school of the highest class, in which the children of the missionaries and other foreigners receive their education. They have as principals Mr. and Mrs. Mills, who have had charge for some years of a similar institution in Ceylon, and are highly esteemed, having it is said much improved upon the training formerly given. They have assistants, but chiefly Mr. Alexander, son of a former missionary, who is considered an excellent classic and mathematician.

We were received at the door by Mr. and Mrs. Mills, and my aunt having insisted that once and for all the queen and not she should have precedence, we followed her to a large room in which the pupils were arranged on benches – girls on one side, boys on the other – in front of a raised platform on which were chairs for us. Many of the pupils were grown up and there were only two or three little girls. We were received with singing, all standing up, after which they fluttered down into their seats, the young ladies looking rather like a parterre (not closely packed, however: there is generally plenty of room given in these hot countries) as they were evidently in their best – short sleeves being not uncommon even in the morning here, with young people.

The boys were first brought forward in algebra, mathematics, Latin, and Greek, we must suppose to their own credit; but that is a point I do not feel able to give you any opinion upon! Then we were asked what the young ladies should be called upon to show off in – but the selection was quickly made for us: botany – which we have since learned to be a strong point in their training as amended from old times, under Mrs. Mills’ rule. There were but few who did not stand up in this class. The questions were put by Mrs. M ills, and the young ladies answered in turn with perfect glibness as to the natural and Linnean systems, the structure of plants (with minute details), in the very words of a book – proving the excellence of their memories and the interest they took in the subject (from which exercise I drew the conclusion, not for the first time, that the study of botany would suit me less than most other subjects).

Having already paid a pretty long visit, we were going away when we were requested with much earnestness to let them show their calisthenic exercises. All but two or three girls walked out of the room by the door we had entered, set up singing in the passage and came in again in file, marched about here and there and separated into figures – a chain – joining hands and leaving off. Each change of figure was set to music and accompanied by themselves, with a different song to each change. We had “I’d Be a Butterfly, “We’re a-Noddin”, with other hackneyed tunes of questionable taste, with words to suit – sometimes they set forth the “beauty and grace” of the performers, others had a pastoral turn, some trilled of garlands as tvpified by the fair Presbyterians before us! They did not jig, nor waltz, nor was the polka indulged in, but if ever the Lord was cheated, it was here!

Mr. Mills remarked to me how prettily they went through the exercise, and I really could not help answering: “Very much so indeed, but it is dancing.” He did not look angry, which he really might have been excused for doing, but answered: “We like to give the children ease and grace of movement, and they enjoy these exercises very much!” Since then, in a newspaper report of the yearly examinations at this college, the afore-described “calisthenics” are (with complete commendation) dubbed “Presbyterian dancing.”

I ought to have said that the young men and boys did part of the looking on. There vvere also several ladies present; and after this they were all introduced – Mrs. Cooke in particular, who with her husband had kept the school for chief’s children, where the king was educated as well as others (girls as well as boys) of the same rank. We did not perceive anything remarkable about her; but she is much respected by her former pupils, more so than her husband is. The queen was very cordial to her (she used to receive some lessons at the establishment, though she never lived there I think) and her manner to all the ladies was charming in its perfect simplicity arid kindness. All were delighted to see her and begged she would come again, which she promised to do with great readiness and spoke of the great pleasure she had in coming. We were introduced to some more of the missionaries wives, of whom there is a great gathering in Honolulu just now with their husbands, for the conference.

We afterwards went to Mr. and Mrs. Mills’ private residence, and saw some curiosities they brought from Ceylon. They seem sensible people and have done much good here in the college, we hear. The college lies about a mile and a half beyond the town, nearly under the hills and back from the seashore. Amongst the pupils was Mrs. Judd’s youngest daughter, a girl of fifteen or sixteen with a heavy, large figure, whose grace and beauty certainly did not shine in the mazy turns and airy movements of the “calisthenics”

Here ended our first day’s labor of inspection. On our return we received a message from the king, who had decided during our absence upon attending an exhibition in biology to be given this evening in the theater, and desired Mr. Wyllie to invite us to go down to the Palace and join their party. The operator is a passenger on a ship going from Australia to California, and a professional biologist, Professor Bushell.

We accepted the invitation and went down again to the Palace in the evening and thence to the theater with the king and queen, attended by several gentlemen and ladies. Our friend Colonel Kalakaua was the A.D.C. on duty – his sister (as pure Hawaiian as himself, in reality as well as in appearance) being next to the queen – my aunt and I next to the king in front of the stage, of which we had an excellent view. Mr. Bushell had already held three exhibitions, and it was the fame of these which made the king desirous of seeing what could be done.

He began by inviting people to come on the stage to be experimented upon. and from the front row below, which was filled with medical men, Dr. Judd started up and ascended the stage amidst great applause. The whole number was about twenty and all were more or less known to the audience – some were natives, but the great majority white, and very respectable-looking persons. After going through the usual process, certain individuals on whom it had no effect were dismissed while others were retained, among them a young man on whom it had extraordinary power – the higher phenomena being developed.

This over, Mr. Bushell selected Dr. Judd as his next subject and proceeded to show off his power over him. We heard whispered speculations whether “the doctor” were acting or really under the influence. At last he stopped short and said he did not feel anything: that he had never been under any influence and, farther, that he did not believe that any could be exerted unless the subject participated with the operator. He did not say, but he implied, that on his part it was participation with what Mr. Bushell wished to show rather than an exhibition of real sensations. You can imagine the effect of such a proceeding. All around us seemed to feel, as we did, that Dr. Judd acted a very unworthy and undignified part in pretending to show phenomena, and we sympathized with the professor, who fairly complained that he had not called for deception, but on the contrary wished for nothing but the truth, having come alone among perfect strangers to exhibit facts of frequent and common occurrence in Europe. He did not wish anyone to feign symptoms which in most cases he knew to be real, though he was well aware that there were many persons not susceptible of mesmeric influence.

He behaved really very well under great provocation, and his remonstrances and reflections upon Dr. Judd were perfectly justifiable and made in good taste. You can imagine the effect of such an episode upon the assembly, every one of whomI knew Dr. Judd intimately. Many said to us that it was “just like the doctor – he never cared or wished to do a thing openly and never minded being found out!”

We were not surprised after having heard so many instances of his secret working in the politics of this country, in the crisis of annexation so very nearly effected by him, in the settlement of the basis of the representation of the people, and other public questions of vital importance. He did not seem disturbed by what had taken place, but remained in his seat on the stage during the remainder of the proceedings (which, I may add, could not possibly fail to convince him that some persons may be extraordinarily influenced). But as he came down to go away, we heard a slight (and well-deserved) hiss. We passed him riding home on our way back to Mr. Wyllie’s in the queen’s open carriage – but he did not speak.