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HAWAII’S STORY BY HAWAII’S QUEEN
Arcadia Ebooks 2016
Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen
THE extinct crater or mountain which forms the background to the city of Honolulu is known as the Punch-Bowl; at its base is situated the Queen’s Hospital, so named because of the great interest taken in its erection by Emma, the queen of Kamehameha IV. Funds for the cause were solicited by the reigning sovereigns in person, and the hospital building was completed in 1860. Very near to its site, on Sept. 2, 1838, I was born. My father’s name was Kapaakea, and my mother was Keohokalole; the latter was one of the fifteen counsellors of the king, Kamehameha III., who in 1840 gave the first written constitution to the Hawaiian people. My great-grandfather, Keawe-a-Heulu, the founder of the dynasty of the Kamehamehas, the Keoua, father of Kamehameha I., were own cousins (he was also brother of Mrs. Bishop’s ancestress, Hakau), and my great-grandaunt was the celebrated Queen Kapiolani, one of the first converts to Christianity. She plucked the sacred berries from the borders of the volcano, descended to the boiling lava, and there, while singing Christian hymns, threw them into the lake of fire. This was the act which broke forever the power of Pele, the fire-goddess, over the hearts of her people. Those interested in genealogies are referred to the tables at the close of this volume, which show the descent of our family from the highest chiefs of ancient days. It has often happened in the history of nations that the most eminent men have won the crown, and then, instead of ascending the throne, have placed the executive office in the hands of another. Kamehameha I. was, indeed, the founder of Hawaiian unity, and worthy of the surname of the Great; but it is truthfully recorded in the early histories of the Islands, – those written by such men as Mr. Pogue, Mr. Dibble, and others, – that he owed his selection for the monarchy to the chiefs from whom the latest reigning family, my own, is descended. This indebtedness was fully recognized during the life of that monarch.
Naihe, the husband of Kapiolani, was the great orator of the king’s reign; his father, Keawe-a-Heulu, was chief counsellor to Kamehameha I.; while had it not been for the aid of the two chiefs, Keeaumoku and Kameeiamoku, cousins of the chief counsellor, the Hawaiian Islands must have remained for a long time, if not until this day, in a state of anarchy. My grandfather, Aikanaka, had charge of the guns of the fort on Punch-Bowl Hill, which had been brought from the larger island of Hawaii; as the chiefs, their families, and followers had settled here from the time of the final battle, when all the forces contending against Kamehameha I. were driven over the Pali.
For the purpose of enhancing the value of their own mission, it has been at times asserted by foreigners that the abundance of the chief was procured by the poverty of his followers. To any person at all familiar, either by experience or from trustworthy tradition, with the daily life of the Hawaiian people fifty years also, nothing could be more incorrect than such assumption. The chief whose retainers were in any poverty or want would have felt, not only their sufferings, but, further, his own disgrace. As was then customary with the Hawaiian chiefs, my father was surrounded by hundreds of his own people, all of whom looked to him, and never in vain, for sustenance. He lived in a large grass house surrounded by smaller ones, which were the homes of those the most closely connected with his service. There was food enough and to spare for every one. And this was equally true of all his people, however distant from his personal care. For the chief always appointed some man of ability as his agent or overseer. This officer apportioned the lands to each Hawaiian, and on these allotments were raised the taro, the potatoes, the pigs, and the chickens which constituted the living of the family; even the forests, which furnished the material from which was made the tapa cloth, were apportioned to the women in like manner. It is true that no one of the common people could mortgage or sell his land, but the wisdom of this limitation is abundantly proved by the homeless condition of the Hawaiians at the present day. Rent, eviction of tenants, as understood in other lands, were unknown; but each retainer of any chief contributed in the productions of his holding to the support of the chief’s table.
But I was destined to grow up away from the house of my parents. Immediately after my birth I was wrapped in the finest soft tapa cloth, and taken to the house of another chief, by whom I was adopted. Konia, my foster-mother, was a granddaughter of Kamehameha I., and was married to Paki, also a high chief; their only daughter, Bernice Pauahi, afterwards Mrs. Charles R. Bishop, was therefore my foster-sister. In speaking of our relationship, I have adopted the term customarily used in the English language, but there was no such modification recognized in my native land. I knew no other father or mother than my foster-parents, no other sister than Bernice. I used to climb up on the knees of Paki, put my arms around his neck, kiss him, and he caressed me as a father would his child; while on the contrary, when I met my own parents, it was with perhaps more of interest, yet always with the demeanor I would have shown to any strangers who noticed me. My own father and mother had other children, ten in all, the most of them being adopted into other chiefs’ families; and although I knew that these were my own brothers and sisters, yet we met throughout my younger life as though we had not known our common parentage. This was, and indeed is, in accordance with Hawaiian customs. It is not easy to explain its origin to those alien to our national life, but it seems perfectly natural to us. As intelligible a reason as can be given is that this alliance by adoption cemented the ties of friendship between the chiefs. It spread to the common people, and it has doubtless fostered a community of interest and harmony.
At the age of four years I was sent to what was then known as the Royal School, because its pupils were exclusively persons whose claims to the throne were acknowledged. It was founded and conducted by Mr. Amos S. Cooke, who was assisted by his wife. It was a boarding-school, the pupils being allowed to return to their homes during vacation time, as well as for an occasional Sunday during the term. The family life was made agreeable to us, and our instructors were especially particular to teach us the proper use of the English language; but when I recall the instances in which we were sent hungry to bed, it seems to me that they failed to remember that we were growing children. A thick slice of bread covered with molasses was usually the sole article of our supper, and we were sometimes ingenious, if not over honest, in our search for food: if we could beg something of the cook it was the easier way; but if not, anything eatable left within our reach was surely confiscated. As a last resort, we were not above searching the gardens for any esculent root or leaf, which (having inherited the art of igniting a fire from the friction of sticks), we could cook and consume without the knowledge of our preceptors.
I can remember now my emotions on entering this the first school I ever attended. I can recall that I was carried there on the shoulders of a tall, stout, very large woman, whose name was Kaikai (she was the sister of Governor Kanoa, and they were of a family of chiefs of inferior rank, living under the control and direction of the higher chiefs). As she put me down at the entrance of the schoolhouse, I shrank from its doors, with that immediate and strange dread of the unknown so common to childhood. Crying bitterly, I turned to my faithful attendant, clasping her with my arms and clinging closely to her neck. She tenderly expostulated with me; and as the children, moved by curiosity to meet the new-comer, crowded about me, I was soon attracted by their friendly faces, and was induced to go into the old courtyard with them. Then my fears began to vanish, and comforted and consoled, I soon found myself at home amongst my playmates.
Several of the pupils who were at the school with me have subsequently become known in Hawaiian history. There were four children of Kinau, daughter of Kamehameha I., the highest in rank of any of the women chiefs of her day; these were Moses, Lot (afterwards Kamehameha V.), Liholiho (afterwards Kamehameha IV.), and Victoria, of whom I shall soon speak. Next came Lunalilo, who followed Kamehameha V. as king. Then came Bernice Pauahi, who married Hon. Charles R. Bishop. Our family was represented by Kaliokalani, Kalakaua, and myself, two of the three destined to ascend the throne. Besides these I must mention Emma Rooke, who married one of the Kamehamehas, Peter Kaeo, Jane Loeau, Elizabeth Kaaniau, Abigail Maheha, Mary Paaina, and John Kinau Pitt; although these were all not there at the same time. Queen Emma, I remember, did not come in until after I had been at school some years.
We never failed to go to church in a procession every Sunday in charge of our teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Cooke, and occupied seats in the immediate vicinity of the pew where the king was seated. The custom was for a boy and girl to march side by side; the lead being taken by the eldest scholars. Moses and Jane had this distinction, next Lot and Bernice, then Liholiho with Abigail, followed by Lunalilo and Emma (after the later had joined the school), James and Elizabeth, David and Victoria, and so on, John Kinau and I being the last.
With the Princess Victoria, who died on the 29th of May, 1866, my younger life was connected in the following manner. When I was taken from my own parents and adopted by Paki and Konia, or about two months thereafter, a child was born to Kinau. That little babe was the Princess Victoria, two of whose brothers became sovereigns of the Hawaiian people. While the infant was at its mother’s breast, Kinau always preferred to take me into her arms to nurse, and would hand her own child to the woman attendant who was there for that purpose. So she frequently declared in the presence of my adopted mother, Konia, that a bond of the closest friendship must always exist between her own baby girl and myself as aikane or foster-children of the same mother, and that all she had would also appertain to me just as if I had been her own child; and that although in the future I might be her child’s rival, yet whatever would belong to Victoria should be mine. This insistence on the part of the mother was never forgotten; it remained in the history of Victoria’s girlhood and mine until her death, although Kinau herself never lived to see her prophetic predictions fulfilled. Kinau died on the 4th of April, 1839, not long after the birth of her youngest child, Victoria.
On any occasion where the Princess Victoria was expected to be present I was always included in the invitation, so that whenever Kekauluohi, the sister of Kinau, invited her niece to be with her, I was also summoned to her residence. This aunt lived in a large stone house called Pohukaina, which stood not more than two hundred feet from the Royal School; and for our enjoyment she used to prepare all sorts of sweetmeats and delicacies peculiar to the Hawaiians, such as (to call them by our native names) kulolo, paipaiee, and koele-palau, with which our childish tastes were delighted.
In 1847 Moses left school, and went to reside with his father. In 1848 Jane Loeau married a Mr. Jasper. Abigail Maheha also left about the same time to reside with her aunt, the Princess Kekauonohi, and it was at this date that the epidemic of measles spread through the land; of those who fell victims to it were Moses Kekuaiwa, William Pitt Leleiohoku, who was a cousin of the Princess Kekauonohi and the first husband of the Princess Ruth (when later my younger brother was born, and adopted by Ruth, he took the name of her deceased husband); the third of these deaths in the families of the royal children was that of my little sister Kaiminaauao, who had been adopted by Kamehameha III. and his queen, Kalama.
This sad event made a great impression upon my younger days; for these relatives and companions of my youth died and were buried on the same day, the coffin of the last-named resting on that of the others. They were all buried in the royal mausoleum, which then was located where is now the yard of Iolani Palace. Since the erection of another building up the Nuuanu Valley, their remains have been removed with those of their ancestors.
From the year 1848 the Royal School began to decline in influence; and within two or three years from that time it was discontinued, the Cooke family entering business with the Castles, forming a mercantile establishment still in existence.
Mr. Cooke and Mr. S. N. Castle were both sent to Honolulu by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. As soon as they had become accustomed to life in the Hawaiian Islands, they severed all connection with the board, entered secular and mercantile pursuits, founding the firm of Castle & Cooke. This has now become a very wealthy concern; and although the senior partners are dead, it is still conducted under their name by their descendants or associates. The sons of Mr. Castle have also been actively interested in the present (1893-1897) government of the Hawaiian Islands.
From the school of Mr. and Mrs. Cooke I was sent to that of Rev. Mr. Beckwith, also one of the American missionaries. This was a day-school, and with it I was better satisfied than with a boarding-school.
I WAS a studious girl; and the acquisition of knowledge has been a passion with me during my whole life, one which has not lost it charm to the present day. In this respect I was quite different from my sister Bernice. She was one of the most beautiful girls I ever saw; the vision of her loveliness at that time can never be effaced from remembrance; like a striking picture once seen, it is stamped upon memory’s page forever. She married in her eighteenth year. She was betrothed to Prince Lot, a grandchild of Kamehameha the Great; but when Mr. Charles R. Bishop pressed his suit, my sister smiled on him, and they were married. It was a happy marriage. When Mr. and Mrs. Bishop were first married they established their modest home at the termination of the beautiful Nuuanu Valley, directly opposite the tombs of the Hawaiian monarchs. They then began housekeeping in a small house on Alakea Street, near the site of the present Masonic Temple. At this time I was still living with Paki and Konia, and the house now standing and known as the Arlington Hotel was being erected by the chief for his residence. It was completed in 1851, and occupied by Paki until 1855, when he died. Then my sister and her husband moved to that residence, which still remained my home. It was there that the years of my girlhood were passed, after school-days were over, and the pleasant company we often had in that house will never cease to give interest to the spot.
Mr. Bishop was a popular and hospitable man, and his wife was as good as she was beautiful. The king, Kamehameha IV., Alexander Liholiho, would often appear informally at our doors with some of his friends; the evening would be passed in improvised dances, and the company always grew larger when it became known that we were thus enjoying ourselves; sometimes we would all adjourn to the house of some friend or neighbor from whom we had reason to expect like hospitality, and the night would be half gone ere we noticed the flight of time.
It was now that the young man who subsequently became my husband first became specially interested in me, and I in him, although we had been very near neighbors during our school-days, and we had seen each other more than once. A Mr. and Mrs. Johnston, a married couple of rather advanced age, established a day-school for children of both sexes in the house next to that of Mr. Cooke; their lot was separated from ours by a high fence of adobe, or sun-baked brick. The boys used to climb the fence on their side for the purpose of looking at the royal children, and amongst these curious urchins was John O. Dominis. His father was a sea-captain, who had originally come to Honolulu on Cape Horn voyages, and had been interested in trade both in China and in California. The ancestors of Captain Dominis were from Italy; but Mrs. Dominis was an American, born at Boston, and was a descendant of one of the early English settlers. The house known as Washington Place was built by Captain Dominis for a family residence. As will appear shortly, Mr. Dominis was not my first or only suitor. My social and political importance would, quite apart from any personal qualities, render my alliance a matter of much solicitude to many. This is not, however, a subject on which I shall care to say more than is necessary.
On June 13, 1855, Paki, my adopted father, died. Soon after this the betrothal was announced of Alexander Liholiho and Emma Rooke. Some of those interested in the genealogies of the historic families of the Hawaiian chiefs, on hearing of this intended marriage, went to the king, and begged him to change his mind. “And why should I?” asked Liholiho. “Because, Your Majesty, there is no other chief equal to you in birth and rank but the adopted daughter of Paki.” The king took offense at this counsel, and dismissed the objectors from his presence. Emma was descended from a half-brother of Kalaniopuu, the latter being first cousin to Kamehameha the Great. The royal wedding took place on June 19, 1856. The bridesmaids were Princess Victoria, myself, and Mary Pitman; the groomsmen were Prince Lot (afterwards Kamehameha V.), Prince William, and my brother, David Kalakaua. Honolulu was for the time the scene of great festivity. The ceremony filled the great Kawaiahao church; and thereafter there were picnics, parties, luaus, and balls without number. Each of the nations represented on the island, even to the Chinese, gave its own special ball in honor of the wedding.
The king was returning from Moanalua with a large escort, a cavalcade of perhaps two hundred riders of both sexes. Amongst these was General J. O. Dominis, then a young man on the staff of Prince Lot. He was riding by my side when an awkward horseman forced his horse between us, and in the confusion Mr. Dominis was thrown from his horse and his leg broken. He gained the saddle, however, and insisted on accompanying me to my home, where he dismounted, and helped me from my horse. He then rode home; but by the time he had reached his own home his leg had become so swollen and painful that he could not dismount without assistance, and for some time, until the bone had become united, was confined to his house.
In the following November I accompanied Konia, my mother, to Hawaii, where she went for her health. We visited Kona, Kaei, and Kaleakekua Bay, the latter celebrated as the scene of the death of Captain Cook, the discoverer. The Princess Miriam Likelike (my own sister) was there brought up, and was well contented; but to one accustomed as I was to the bustle of the city and the life of the court, it seemed to be an excessively quiet and dismal place. After some months spent on Hawaii we went to Lahaina; there I received a letter from my brother Kalakaua, telling me that he was engaged to the Princess Victoria, and asking me to come to Honolulu. So, attended by five women, all from the families of high chiefs, I started for that city; but upon my arrival I found that the engagement was broken, for the Princess Victoria had gone to Wailua, and my brother had heard nothing from her for a fortnight; so I made preparations to return to Maui, but receiving an invitation to remain for a ball to be given by Prince Lot, I deferred my journey. At the ball the Princess Victoria appeared with her suite, and it was said was engaged to Prince William. Be that as it may, we all had a very gay time at the ball, which continued until daybreak.
At two o’clock the day following Prince Lot and Mr. Dominis, with the five ladies of noble birth, attended me to the old schooner Kekauluohi, by which I was to make the passage across the channel. My retinue was very large, and nearly filled the cabin. Prince William, who ascended the throne in 1874 under the title of Lunalilo, was the owner of the vessel, and was also at this time on board. He came to me, and insisted on my taking his cabin; and when the berth had been emptied of oranges with which I found it filled, his wearing apparel, boots, and other belongings also cleared out, I complied. He then asked me in the presence of my attendants why we shouldn’t get married. There was an aged native preacher on board, Pikanele by name, who at once offered to perform the ceremony. But having heard the prince was engaged to his cousin Victoria, I did not consider it right to marry him on the impulse of the moment. When we arrived at Lahaina he escorted me to my home, there repeating his offer; and I took the matter into serious consideration, agreeing to write to him. He joined his father at Kona; and to that place I directed my letter, sending it by the schooner Kamamalu, which also was the Hawaiian name of the princess. It seemed that she declined to be the bearer of messages to her fickle swain, for the schooner was lost at sea. In the mean time Victoria Kamamalu had written to Prince William, reminding him of his obligations to her, and asking him to return to Honolulu, which he did, stopping at Lahaina on the way to tell me that, having received no answer from me, he supposed that I had rejected his proposal; but on my explanation of the matter, he again renewed his offer, and we became engaged. In May of that year my mother returned with me to Honolulu; but her health was not permanently improved, and on July 2, 1857, she died.
The death of Paki and Konia placed me more yet under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. Bishop, but Prince William claimed that our engagement was in full force. Mr. Bishop asked the king if he considered it a good match, to which Alexander replied that if I were his daughter he should not approve of it, but that if each of us were pleased, he should not oppose it, but advise us to marry. But there were certain other incidents which came to the surface ere long which led me to break the engagement. Neither Prince William Lunalilo nor the Princess Victoria was ever married.
ALEXANDER LIHOLIHO, known to history as Kamehameha IV., had all the characteristics of his race; and the strong, passionate nature of the Kamehamehas is shown in his benevolent as in his less commendable acts. To him was due the introduction of the Anglican Mission. He personally translated the English Prayer-Book into our language. He also founded the Queen’s Hospital, as has already been noticed; and both the foreign and domestic affairs of his government were ably administered. Hon. R. C. Wylie continued as his Minister of Foreign Affairs throughout his reign.
In 1859, or just prior to my engagement to Mr. Dominis, a pleasant party was made up in Honolulu for an excursion to the other islands, on which I went, being, as indeed I always was at this time, under the special charge of Mrs. Bishop. We visited the volcano on Hawaii, and descended to the city of Hilo, on whose beautiful bay was then lying the United States ship Levant. At this place we were joined by the king with his party; and having many most agreeable acquaintances amongst the naval officers, the time sped quickly in social pleasures. We lived in a large grass house, one side of which was occupied by the ladies and the other by the gentlemen, while the centre was a room used for banquet-hall or ballroom, besides answering the purpose of separating the two lateral apartments so widely that no conversation could be heard from one to the other. When any of the royal party had occasion to go from one place to another, we were drawn in carriages of native construction, the people themselves furnishing the power usually supplied by horses. Sometimes we were stuck in some mud-hole or water-course, from which the most determined efforts of our devoted followers could not extricate us; and it was then necessary to have a horse led to the side of the vehicle to take us off on horseback. But we were light-hearted, merry, and happy; the naval officers were perfect gentlemen, and gallant in their attentions. The king enjoyed the pleasures to which his presence and that of others of the royal line gave a great charm. He even mischievously prevented us from taking an affectionate adieu of our friends aboard the Levant by suddenly signalling that we were to be at once on board of the Kilauea; and that steamer started without as much as a “By your leave, sir,” to the naval commander. At Lahaina the whole party left the ship, and at that port was further increased by the accession of the king’s friends and retainers.
The next trip (1860) proposed by His Majesty was to the extinct volcano of Healeala, and orders were given that we should all go in boats from Lahaina to Wailuku. It was a beautiful sight; the waters were calm, each boat was ornamented with the Hawaiian flag, the royal standard fluttered from that of the king, and as we coasted along the shores, we could see the people on the land following our course and interested in our progress; there were, I think, twelve boats in all. We arrived without accident, ascended the mountain, and passed a night on the border of the crater. We had our tents, and there was shelter in the caves and crevices for the remainder of the party. All passed off gayly. There was little sleep, however, some of us being afflicted with asthmatic attacks which the excessive rarity of the air at that altitude made very severe. Such was my portion; but as I sat up, not daring to lie down lest I might lose my breath, I could hear the merry sounds of the singing and dancing which from one tent or another was going on around me.
The first halt in our enjoyment was when word was received that the little Prince of Hawaii, then but a little more than a year old, was ill.
The king was deaf to the entreaties of the queen to be allowed to go directly to her child, because he thought it would delay his own departure and arrival at the bedside of his boy. Fortunately the illness passed away without serious consequences; yet it seemed the first break in our festivities, and was followed by an event of a most tragical nature.
We descended the mountain and returned to Lahaina, where I, accompanied by Mrs. Bishop, left them, and went back to Honolulu. The first news we received was that the king in a fit of passion had shot and mortally wounded one of the party, his own secretary, Mr. H. A. Neilson. After the occurrence all that the tenderest of brothers could have done was proffered by the king to the wounded man; but after lingering for some months, Mr. Neilson died. No legal notice of the event was in any way taken; no person would have been foolhardy enough to propose it. It is not my purpose to defend the right of the king to this execution of summary vengeance, especially as it was done in a moment of anger; yet beyond the sadness of the act, it has a certain bearing on this sketch of my life as one of the descendants from the ruling families of Hawaii.
There were causes which were apparent to any of our people for something very like righteous anger on the part of the king. His Majesty was trying to make us each and all happy; yet even during moments of relaxation, undue familiarity, absence of etiquette, rudeness, or any other form which implied or suggested disrespect to royalty in any manner whatsoever, would never be tolerated by any one of the native chiefs of the Hawaiian people. To allow any such breach of good manners to pass unnoticed would be looked upon by his own retainers as belittling to him, and they would be the first to demand the punishment of the offender. It was in this case far too severe. No one realized that more than the king himself, who suffered much distress for his victim, and was with difficulty dissuaded from the abdication of his throne. The temper of the Kamehamehas had descended to the young prince, and was also the cause of his death. For when the child was about four years old, he became dissatisfied with a pair of boots, and burst into an ungovernable fit of passion. His father sought to cool him off by putting the boy under an open faucet of cold, running water. The little one appeared to be unharmed, but later in the day broke down with nervous weeping, and could not be comforted. Then it was discovered that the cold douche and shock had brought on an attack of brain fever. From this he did not recover, but died on the 27th of August, 1862. The king and queen had the sympathy of all parties in their bereavement; but Kamehameha IV. completely lost his interest in public life, living in the utmost possible retirement until his death.
It may be in place here to notice the opening of the reign of Kamehameha IV.’s successor. It has already been seen that the right of life and death was unchallenged; that whatever it may be in other countries, as late as an epoch thirty years in the past it belonged to the highest chief of the Hawaiian people. In like manner it may be said that the whole people owed its national life to the throne. The first constitution was given to the realm in 1840, and was a voluntary act on the part of the king, Kamehameha III. The second succeeded it in 1852. Both of these were doubtless drafted under the supervision and advice of the missionaries, of whom, even at the latter date, the Hawaiian nation was beginning to feel a little justifiable jealousy. So when Prince Lot came to the throne in 1863, under the title of Kamehameha V., his first official act was to refuse to take the oath to maintain the existing constitution. His success as Minister of the Interior under his brother had been remarkable, and his character was said to resemble that of Kamehameha the Great; it is presumable, therefore, that he understood the needs of his people better than those of foreign birth and alien affinities. In the month of May, 1864, the king issued a call for a constitutional convention, subsequently making a tour of the islands to explain his plans to the electors. In July of that year the convention assembled in Honolulu; but its time being given to what Kamehameha considered useless deliberations instead of business, on Aug. 13 he declared the convention dissolved, dismissed the delegates, publicly abrogated the constitution of 1852, and one week after that date he proclaimed a new constitution of his own devising, under which Hawaii was happily ruled for twenty-three years. There will be no disputing the fact that this was a period of increasing prosperity; yet until the late King Kalakaua was constrained by the foreign element to abrogate this constitution (which my brother did much against his own will and better judgment in 1887), all parties had lived together in harmony throughout the kingdom of the Hawaiian Islands, under a constitution devised and promulgated by one man, and he of the race of the Hawaiian chiefs. I hope this fact will be recalled when I come to speak of the history of the reign of my brother Kalakaua, and my own administration of public affairs. Let it be repeated: the promulgation of a new constitution, adapted to the needs of the times and the demands of the people, has been an indisputable prerogative of the Hawaiian monarchy.
I WAS engaged to Mr. Dominis for about two years; and it was our intention to be married on the second day of September, 1862. But by reason of the fact that the court was in affliction and mourning, our wedding was delayed at the request of the king, Kamehameha IV., to the sixteenth of that month; Rev. Dr. Damon, father of Mr. S. M. Damon, at present the leading banker of the Islands, being the officiating clergyman. It was celebrated at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Bishop, in the house which had been erected by my father, Paki, and which, known as the Arlington Hotel, is still one of the most beautiful and central of the mansions in Honolulu. To it came all the high chiefs then living there, also the foreign residents; in fact, all the best society of the city.
My husband took me at once to the estate known as Washington Place, which had been built by his father, and which is still my private residence. It is a large, square, white house, with pillars and porticos on all sides, really a palatial dwelling, as comfortable in its appointments as it is inviting in its aspect; its front is distant from the street far enough to avoid the dust and noise. Trees shade its walls from the heat of noonday; its ample gardens are filled with the choicest flowers and shrubs; it is, in fact, just what it appears, a choice tropical retreat in the midst of the chief city of the Hawaiian Islands. Opposite its doors is the edifice, recently erected, known as the Central Union Church, which is attended by the missionary families, and indeed most of the foreign residents of American birth or sympathies.
Captain Dominis, father of my husband, had but little enjoyment from the homestead he had planned. He last sailed from the port in 1846, just as the house was on the point of completion, and the ship he commanded was never heard of more. His widow expected, hoped, and prayed, but no tidings of his fate were ever received; slowly she was compelled to recognize the truth so many sailors’ wives are constantly learning, and to hope long deferred succeeded grief for irreparable loss. For this reason she clung with tenacity to the affection and constant attentions of her son, and no man could be more devoted than was General Dominis to his mother. He was really an only child, although there had been two daughters older; but while he was an infant they both died in the United States, where they had been left to gain their education. Mrs. Dominis was a native of Boston.
As she felt that no one should step between her and her child, naturally I, as her son’s wife, was considered an intruder; and I was forced to realize this from the beginning. My husband was extremely kind and considerate to me, yet he would not swerve to the one side or to the other in any matter where there was danger of hurting his mother’s feelings. I respected the closeness of the tie between mother and son, and conformed my own ideas, so far as I could, to encourage and assist my husband in his devotion to his mother. Later in life Mrs. Dominis seemed to fully realize that there had been some self-sacrifice, and she became more and more a tender and affectionate mother to me as her days were drawing to a close.
Soon after our marriage, Prince Lot invited my husband and myself, with Mr. and Mrs. Robert Davis, who were married about the same time, to accompany him on a trip to Hawaii, the largest island of the group, from which its name is taken. We accepted, and it became really my bridal tour. Prince Lot’s accession to the throne as Kamehameha V. was then very near. Invitations were also extended to Mr. and Mrs. John Sumner, Mr. Haalelea, another member, like my husband, of the staff of His Royal Highness, and a few other friends of the royal party. It was a most enjoyable trip; we were gone many weeks, but the time passed away most delightfully.
As there are no hotels in our islands, a few words as to the entertainment of the chiefs, with such guests as they might have with them, may not be out of place here. I have always said that under our own system in former days there was always plenty for prince or for people. The latter were not paid in money, nor were they taxed in purse. The chief, by the overseer he appointed, took proper care of their needs, and they in turn contributed to the support of his table. It was a repetition of the principle of family life by extending the same over a large number of retainers. So on the estates of the high chiefs who generally resided at Honolulu were built houses which were sacred to their residence, exclusively devoted to such occasions as the present, when they might choose to visit their people.
Prince Lot had his houses and lands in Hawaii and elsewhere. It was to these we went. His people welcomed our presence; and no matter how protracted our stay, Hawaiian hospitality, or love and loyalty, whichever it may please the reader to call it, was never exhausted. It was the same with all the chiefs of the ancient families, with Mrs. Bishop, for example, who would have found a home on any part of her landed estate; nor has the custom altogether passed away by the many changes which have been wrought through the hands of the foreigner in the Hawaiian Islands. Were any person of the blood of the chiefs, myself for example, to visit Hawaii to-day, scarcely would the knowledge that we had reached the port of Hilo get to the ears of our people when a house would be provided for our occupancy, food would be brought to our doors, and we would be made welcome amongst our people for weeks, months, indeed years, if we chose to continue our residence.
On this visit to Hilo (1862) occurred the first chapter of an interesting history of which the sequel was the nomination of a younger brother of mine to the throne, although he did not live to enter upon his reign. One of the retainers of the Princess Ruth was in our company, and it was near the time of that lady’s confinement. As Kalaikuaiwa, one of her people, was about to return to the neighboring island of Oahu, she inquired of Prince Lot what message she could carry back to Honolulu, to be delivered to Princess Ruth in regard to the little stranger about to enter this world. The prince, in reply, told the attendant to charge his sister from him on no account to give the coming child away, to which that messenger responded that it had been already promised to Mrs. Pauahi Bishop, her cousin. The prince repeated his injunction with still more emphasis, saying, “You must go back and tell my sister that on no account is she to give that child to another. I am an adopted child myself, deprived of the love of my mother, and yet I was a stranger in the house of my adoption.” He referred to his own and Lunalilo’s grandfather, Hoapilikane. The prince made no further explanations, save to impress it upon the messenger that such must be the message delivered; and as we started for our trip around the great island of Hawaii, the attendant left for her mistress’s houses and home in Honolulu.
I may anticipate a little in order to continue the thread of this story. When our tour was over, and we returned to Honolulu, the first day of our arrival was a day of rest; but on the succeeding day, possibly a little later, Prince Lot, Queen Emma, Mrs. Bishop, and perhaps some others, were summoned to be present at the birth of the child of the Princess Ruth. The babe was born that afternoon at about three o’clock, in the house called Halaniani, on the veranda of which the prince waited for tidings of the mother and child for hours. Finally, at half-past five, Queen Emma appeared, and addressing the prince, asked him if he had heard from his sister, to which he replied that he had not. She expressed much surprise, and told him that the newly born infant had been taken away as her own by Mrs. Bishop over an hour ago. This intelligence was extremely unpleasant to the prince, and he at once declared that he would never have anything to do with that child. He carried his purpose into immediate execution by insisting within a week from that time that his sister Ruth should legally adopt as her own my brother Leleiohoku, whom she had taken from his parents at birth. He then made out two instruments of adoption for his sister to sign. By one she gave her child to Mrs. Bishop irrevocably, cutting it off from all interest in her property, and by the other she adopted as her child and heir, William Pitt Leleiohoku, the second of that name. All the papers were carefully drawn up by the prince, and everything connected with the adoption was made complete, so that in no event could the legality of my brother’s position be doubted. The innocent cause of this disturbance, the child thus adopted by Mrs. Bishop and named Keolaokalani, died in about six months; my brother lived to be named heir apparent, and indeed to fill the office of regent during the absence of Kalakaua.
After making the tour of Hawaii, Prince Lot, accompanied by his guests, returned as far as the island of Maui, where it is possible we might have remained longer had it not been for the illness of his brother, the reigning king. Having been notified that this was approaching a fatal termination, and that his presence was required at the capital, His Royal Highness returned at once to Honolulu, where Alexander, Kamehameha IV., died on Nov. 30, 1863, after a reign of nine years, and being at the time of his death still a young man of twenty-nine. His widow, Queen Emma, although once a candidate for the throne, was never again in public life. She went abroad, however, in 1865, being received in England in a manner becoming her rank. She returned to Honolulu in 1866 on the United States ship Vanderbilt, commanded by Admiral Henry Knox Thatcher, only to learn at once of a new affliction in the death of her adopted mother, Mrs. T. C. B. Rooke.
On the accession to the throne of Prince Lot as Kamehameha V., the last of the Hawaiian monarchs to bear that name, my husband was at once appointed his private secretary and confidential adviser, which position he occupied during the entire reign. The king was surrounded by his own people, with whom he was in perfect accord, but showed this mark of royal favor to my husband simply because he preferred to advise with him on matters of public importance. My husband was further made governor of the island on which Honolulu is situated; and although the appointment was nominally for four years, yet it was always renewed, without the least discussion or hesitation, as long as he lived. It was a part of his official duty to make a tour of the whole island at least once a year; this was always rendered a most agreeable excursion, and I invariably accompanied him in the journey. Besides this position he held other offices of importance under the Hawaiian government, being at one time governor of the island of Maui; commissioner of the administration of the crown lands; attached to the suite of my brother, the late King Kalakaua, on his visit to this country in 1874 in the interest of reciprocity; and finally being a member of the Hawaiian embassy which visited this country and Great Britain in 1887, representing our nation at the Queen’s Jubilee. But in the fall of 1891, Governor Dominis, who was then lieutenant-general of the kingdom with the rank of His Royal Highness Prince Consort, was in rapidly failing health; and on the 27th of August of that year, seven months after my accession to the throne, he died. His remains were laid in state in the palace; and on Sunday, Sept. 6, he was buried with royal honors.
His death occurred at a time when his long experience in public life, his amiable qualities, and his universal popularity, would have made him an adviser to me for whom no substitute could possibly be found. I have often said that it pleased the Almighty Ruler of nations to take him away from me at precisely the time when I felt that I most needed his counsel and companionship.
THE Hawaiian people have been from time immemorial lovers of poetry and music, and have been apt in improvising historic poems, songs of love, and chants of worship, so that praises of the living or wails over the dead were with them but the natural statement of their feelings. My ancestors were peculiarly gifted in this respect, and yet it is remarkable that there are few if any written compositions of the music of Hawaii excepting those published by me.
In my school-days my facility in reading music at sight was always recognized by my instructors. At the schools I attended, and of which mention has already been made, there was one boy by my side who could read the airs of new tunes which the teachers were anxious to introduce to the pupils. His name, I remember, was Willie Andrews. The untried music was handed to us; and we sang it by note, the rest of the pupils following by ear until the whole assembly were acquainted with the new music. After leaving school, my musical education was continued from time to time as opportunity offered, but I scarcely remember the days when it would not have been possible for me to write either the words or the music for any occasion on which poetry or song was needed. To compose was as natural to me as to breathe; and this gift of nature, never having been suffered to fall into disuse, remains a source of the greatest consolation to this day. I have never yet numbered my compositions, but am sure that they must run well up to the hundreds. Of these not more than a quarter have been printed, but the most popular have been in such demand that several editions have been exhausted. Hours of which it is not yet in place to speak, which I might have found long and lonely, passed quickly and cheerfully by, occupied and soothed by the statement of my thoughts in music; and even when I was denied the aid of any instrument I could transcribe to paper the tones of my voice.
In the early years of the reign of Kamehameha V. he brought to my notice the fact that the Hawaiian people had no national air. Each nation, he said, but ours had its statement of patriotism and love of country in its own music; but we were using for that purpose on state occasions the time-honored British anthem, “God save the Queen.” This he desired me to supplant by one of my own composition. In one week’s time I notified the king that I had completed my task. The Princess Victoria had been the leader of the choir of the Kawaiahao church; but upon her death, May 29, 1866 I assumed the leadership. It was in this building and by that choir that I first introduced the “Hawaiian National Anthem.” The king was present for the purpose of criticising my new composition of both words and music, and was liberal in his commendations to me on my success. He admired not only the beauty of the music, but spoke enthusiastically of the appropriate words, so well adapted to the air and to the purpose for which they were written.
This remained in use as our national anthem for some twenty years or more, when my brother composed the words of the Hawaii Ponoi. He was at the time the reigning king, and gave directions to the master of the band to set these to music. He, being a German, found some composition from his own country which he deemed appropriate; and this has been considered of late years our national air.
In the changes of the past few years, the words written by His Majesty Kalakaua have been found no longer adapted to public occasions; so while the music is still played, such sentiments as “Look to the people” have been substituted for the ancient injunction to “Look to the king.”
In the year 1869 the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred of England, arrived in the harbor of Honolulu, being in command of Her Britannic Majesty’s ship-of-war Galatea. As soon as the king learned of the duke’s presence he made special preparations for his reception; and for his better accommodation on shore he assigned for his use the residence of the late Kekuanaoa, who died in November of the preceding year. My own mother having died about three months prior to the arrival of the Galatea, I was not taking part in any festivities, being in retirement from society. But this was considered an exceptional occasion, and the king signified his wish to me that I would not fail to do it honor. So at his specific request I gave a grand luau at my Waikiki residence, to which were invited all those connected with the government, indeed, all the first families of the city, whether of native or foreign birth. Major J.H. Wodehouse, so long the ambassador of Great Britain at Honolulu, had just arrived with Mrs. Wodehouse; and they were of the invited guests, the prince specially inviting them to drive out to my house with him. I suppose the feast would be styled a breakfast in other lands, for it was to begin at eleven o’clock in the forenoon. The sailor-prince mounted the driver’s box of the carriage, and taking the reins from that official, showed himself an expert in the management of horses. All the members of the royal family of England are, I understand, excellent horsemen; and in doing this the Duke of Edinburgh was only following customs to which he had been trained in his own land. The Queen Dowager Kalama, widow of Kamehameha III., drove out to Waikiki in her own carriage of state, accompanied by her adopted son, Kunuiakea, and my sister, Miriam Likelike; these two being at that time betrothed in marriage, although the latter married Hon. A. S. Cleghorn, and became the mother of the Princess Kaiulani. The drivers of these carriages wore the royal feather shoulder-capes, and the footmen were also clad in like royal fashion. It was considered one of the grandest occasions in the history of those days, and all passed off as becoming the high birth and commanding position of our visitor. The guests were received with every mark of courtesy by my husband and myself, as well as by His Majesty Kamehameha V., who was one of the first arrivals. When the prince entered he was met by two very pretty Hawaiian ladies, who advanced, and, according to the custom of our country, decorated him with leis, or long, pliable wreaths of flowers suspended from the neck.
As Mrs. Bush, considered one of the most beautiful women in the Hawaiian Islands, advanced, and proceeded to tie the flowery garland about the neck of the prince, he seemed perhaps a bit confused at the novel custom; but, submitting with the easy grace of a gentleman, he appeared to be excessively pleased with the flowers and with the expression of friendly welcome conveyed to him by the act. Balls, picnics, and parties followed this day of enjoyment; and the prince gave an entertainment in return at his own house, which was attended by my husband and myself, and by most of the distinguished persons in the city. The day of departure for the Galatea arrived; and the prince called on me to express the pleasure he had taken during his visit, and the regrets he felt at leaving us. On this occasion he presented me with an armlet emblematic of his profession; it was of solid gold, a massively wrought chain made after the pattern of a ship’s cable, with anchor as a pendant. He also gave me copies of two of his own musical compositions; and to this day I keep and cherish these three souvenirs of the son of England’s good queen, and at the same time one of England’s noblest sailors. We have met once since those days, at the Queen’s Jubilee, during my visit to London in 1887. Our past acquaintance was cordially recognized by the prince, who was then my escort on a state occasion, my nearest neighbor on the other hand being the present Emperor of Germany.
EARLY in December, 1872, occurred the death of Prince Lot, as he was often called, even after his accession to the throne under the title of Kamehameha V. On the 10th of that month my husband and I were summoned to the palace to attend the dying monarch; one by one other chiefs of the Hawaiian people, with a few of their trusted retainers, also arrived to be present at the final scene; we spent that night watching in silence near the king’s bedside. The disease was pronounced by the medical men to be dropsy on the chest.