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On the 10th of August, 1845, notice was given by Captain Sylvester, that the Brig Chenamus would sail from the Wallamette River for Boston by way of the Sandwich Islands about the 1st of September, and that a few passengers might be comfortably accommodated on board. Mr. Gary began already to consider that his work in Oregon was accomplished, and he felt quite solicitous to avail himself of the opportunity offered, to return home; but kindly proposed to leave it altogether with the writer, to say which, whether the latter, or himself, should be the favored one, at the same time assuring me, that if he left, that I should remain in the country, he should leave the superintendency of the mission with me. This, after a night of the utmost solicitude, brought me to the conclusion to close up my missionary labors, and leave the scene of toil and danger, and set my face towards my native land. Rev. Mr. Gary, as the superintendent of the mission, made arrangements with the Captain for my passage, and that of my family, consisting of Mrs. Hines, her sister, Miss Julia Bryant, her sister, and Lucy Anna Maria Lee, the daughter of Rev. Jason Lee, who had already returned to the United States.
The amount required was one hundred and fifty dollars from Oregon to the Sandwich Islands, and five[page 245] hundred and twenty from the Islands to Boston, by the way of Cape Horn.
Through the kind assistance of Mr. and Mrs. Gary, and Mr. and Mrs. Abernethy, we found ourselves prepared to leave Oregon City at the Wallamette Falls, on the 29th of August, 1845. The brig had already dropped down the river, and it was necessary for us to descend to the mouth of the Columbia in an open boat. Procuring a skiff which belonged to the mission, I loaded my baggage into it, laving a place in the center for the accommodation of my family. After dining with our kind friends, Mr. and Mrs. Abernethy, we repaired to the boat to take our departure. Adjusting the family in their place, I gave one oar into the hands of Kana, my Hawaiian servant, and the other to James Hemingway, the Indian boy who had resided with us for some time, and myself took the stern oar. We waved a farewell to our friends who stood on the top of the bluff above us, and silently, but not without the deepest emotion, glided off into the strong current of the river. Quickly the beautiful cataract and its flourishing village were hidden from our view by the dark point of fir timber which we had left behind us.
Rowing twenty-eight miles, we arrived, late in the evening, within two miles of Vancouver, but not wishing to disturb the gentlemen of the fort at so late an hour, we encamped for the night. Next morning went up to the fort to complete our preparations for sea; were very kindly received by James Douglass, Esq., who by his friendly attentions, and acts of benevolence, paved the way to render our voyage to the islands much more agreeable than it otherwise would have been.
Saturday, at two, p.m. left Fort Vancouver, and descending the Columbia ten miles, encamped in a grove of willows near the margin of the river, where remained quietly during the Holy Sabbath.
Monday, the 2nd, we continued our voyage, and after three days of excessive labor and fatigue, accompanied with imminent dangers and exposures, during which we knew not the luxury of eating or sleeping under the cover of a roof, we arrived in safety at the house of Rev. J. L. Parrish, on Clatsop Plains, about seven miles in the rear of Point Adams at the mouth of the Columbia. Here we remained until Saturday the sixth, when we were informed by Captain Sylvester that the brig lay in Young’s Bay, and was ready to receive us on board. Taking an affecting leave of our old friends Mr. and Mrs. Parrish, with whom we had lived on terms of intimacy in our native land, and with whom we had suffered the perils of a voyage of more than twenty-two thousand miles, as well as the dangers and deprivations of a residence among the most savage of men, we were conducted through a forest of fir to a landing on the Scapanownan Creek, the mouth of which forms a good harbor for small craft. Here a boat was sent to take us off, and at four o’clock,p. m. we found ourselves comfortably situated on board the brig Chenamus, with our things nicely packed away in our state rooms, waiting for a favorable wind and tide to take us to sea.
Sunday, 7th. In the morning the Calapooah, a small sail-boat, came along side from shore, bringing vegetables and beef for the Chenamus. With her I expected Kana, my Hawaiian, but he had absconded during the night, choosing rather to remain in Oregon than to go back to his native island.
Monday, 8th. Weighed anchor in the morning before sunrise, with the wind in the north-east, and a strong ebb tide. Soon the wind died away, and we found we were drifting fast on to Sand Island, and were obliged to come to anchor about one mile and a half from Point Adams. While we lay here the Cadboro, a small schooner from Vancouver, bound to Vancouver’s Island with furs, passed us, but finding herself approaching too near the point of Sand Island, she also came to anchor. The wind breezing up a little more fresh, the Chenamus made another attempt to get across to Baker’s Bay, but failing, again came to anchor, and found herself worse situated than before. The wind was fair, but the tide bore us out of the channel. After dinner made a third attempt to get to the usual anchorage, in Baker’s Bay; but being baffled by the tide, we were again obliged to anchor in a very exposed position, where we lay during the night.
The evening of the 10th was exceedingly pleasant, the wind in the north-west, and the prospects quite fair for getting out the next day.
Tuesday, 9th. The tables were all turned, the wind was in the south-east, with the prospect of a gale, the vessel is no desirable position, but the captain determined if possible to get into the bay. Accordingly, we weighed anchor, but made another ineffectual effort to gain our moorings, as we were obliged to anchor about one mile and a half from the proper ground. After waiting a few hours for the tide to favor us, we raised anchor again, and after tacking about two or three times between Sand Island and Chenook Spit, we came to anchor only one half mile nearer the desired haven.
Wednesday, 10th. In the afternoon we succeeded in getting down into the bay, and anchoring in a suitable place to take the breeze from the north, which is the only wind that will serve us in crossing the bar of the Columbia, and for which we made up our minds to wait patiently, remembering that, in this very place three years before, we were detained by adverse gales that lasted as long as the storm of the deluge.
On the 11th and 12th the wind was south and west, which forbade our leaving the bay, consequently we had another opportunity of climbing to the top of Cape Disappointment, and surveying the surrounding scenery. During our detention, at the solicitation of Mrs. H., we enjoyed a pic-nic of muscles, which we found here in abundance, with bread, butter, and tea.
Saturday, 13th. In the morning a fresh breeze sprung up from the north, and it was evident that we should bid the dark mountains of Oregon "Good-bye," before night. On shipboard, all was bustle and anxiety, and about noon the command of the captain was to "Heave short." Accordingly, the windlass was manned, the passengers assisting, and quickly the chain cable was shortened, so that the brig was directly over the anchor. We waited a few minutes longer for the proper state of the tide, which is half-ebb, and then, at about one o’clock the bows of the brig, yielding to the already freshened breeze, turned towards the dreaded bar, and the rolling deep. The schooner Cadboro took the lead, and though the bar was exceedingly rough, and the mountain swells broke near us we passed through the contracted channel, yet the wind was fresh and fair, and we soon found ourselves entirely free from all the sand-bars of the Columbia, and before a seven knot breeze, passing beautifully on our course over the deep dark waves of the Pacific Ocean.
Tuesday, 16th. This is the third day since we crossed the Columbia bar, and as we have been constantly favored with a fair wind, we have made fine progress on our voyage. Five gentlemen are our fellow passengers, whose names are, Wave, Devenport, Teck, a Prussian naturalist, Stewart, and T. J. Hubbard. The last came to Oregon with Captain Wyeth and Rev. Jason Lee in 1835, and having resided in Oregon since that time, is well acquainted with the history of the country. He was himself connected with a tragical occurrence, the like of which is quite too common in an Indian country. The cause of the difficulty was an Indian woman, whom Hubbard had taken, and was living with as his wife. Previously, she hd looked with favor upon another man by the name of Thornburgh, and the latter resolved to take her away from Hubbard, even at the expense of his life. For this purpose he entered Hubbard’s cabin in the dead of the night, with a loaded rifle, but Hubbard, having knowledge of his design, had armed himself with loaded pistols, and discharging one at Thornburgh as he entered the door, the ball took effect in the breast of the latter, and he fell, and expired. A self-constituted jury of inquest, after a thorough examination of the case, brought in a verdict of "Justifiable homicide."
The manner in which Hubbard and the rest of our fellow passengers spend their time on the voyage indicates that they have neither become wise nor virtuous from the history of the past. They seem incapable of interesting themselves, save at backgammon or the card table, nearly all the time not consumed in eating or sleeping being employed at one or the other of the two games.
Wednesday, 17th. Ware and Devenport were suffering exceedingly from seasickness, and proposed to give the captain one hundred and fifty dollars to set them off on the shore of California; but as a matter of course, this was inadmissable, and the two gentlemen were doomed to enjoy the pleasures of one sea voyage. But one of them declared that he had rather pack a mule across the Rocky Mountains, than to go to sea; and that, if he ever sets his foot on terra firma again, he will never be caught on another vessel.
In the evening backgammon and seasickness were both forgotten a short time in the excitement of taking a large porpoise. This is generally considered a great treat by seamen, especially those on merchant vessels. The manner of taking them is as follows; a rope is passed through a block or pulley, which is fastened to some part of the rigging near the bow of the vessel, one end of which is tied to a harpoon prepared with a handle six or eight feet long, so as to render it convenient to throw. A sailor then fixes himself. On the martingal under the bowsprit, while a few others at the other end of the rope, stand by to haul in. The reason for their taking their position at the forward end of the vessel is this; the porpoise always plays around the bow more than any other part, and the rigging under the bowsprit will admit of a sailor’s fixing himself directly over the porpoise in his frequent approaches to this point. When thus prepared, and the porpoises hover around the bow, the harpoon is cast with great force and precision in to the selected victim, and instantly the water is crimsoned with his blood. When the "throw" has been a sure one, the word "haul" is given, and the fish, or animal, is immediately raised above the water, and brought upon deck. The taking of a porpoise is one of those exciting events which occasionally break in upon the monotony of life at sea. It was judged that the one we took would weigh two hundred and fifty pounds. It afforded several gallons of oil, and meat enough to last the sailors for a number of days.
Thursday, 25th. Thus fa on our voyage we have had the most beautiful weather, there having been no head wind to speak of, and but about four hours calm. We have generally been favored with a gentle breeze from the north-west, which has wafted us on our direct course to Oahu at the rate of five and six knots an hour. This has been exceedingly favorable to us on account of the weakness of our crew, six of the men having run away from the brig in Oregon, and could not be recovered, leaving but three efficient men on board of her, beside her three officers. But the Lord knoweth how "to temper (or regulate) the winds to the shorn lamb."
We are cheered with the prospect of a speedy passage to the islands, as we seem to have secured the north-east trades; but of this there is no certainty, as the trades are not very regular, and at sea above all other places, "we know not what a day may bring forth."
Monday, 29th. We were interested in the discovery of a sail on our starboard bow, which appeared to be steering the same course with us. She was a barque, probably a whaler from the northern ocean, bound to the Sandwich Islands, and thence home. Incidents of interest on this voyage thus far have been exceedingly scarce, a very great uniformity having characterized the days we have been at sea. However, the monsters of the deep, whales, sharks, &c., have from time to time attracted our notice, while the dark albatros, mother Carey’s chickens, a small sea gull, and the boatswain’s mate marlinspike, or man of war bird, as he is indifferently called, are all of the feathered tribe we have seen. The last mentioned is a very interesting bird, snow white, and appears very beautiful as if flits around the vessel on its wings of light, as if desiring to find a place of rest among the moving spars. It is principally found between the tropics, and must therefore be considered a lover of warm weather.
On the 30th crossed the Tropic of Cancer, and as the wind was very light, we found the heat quite oppressive. By a very good observation on the 1st of October, we found our latitude to be twenty-two degrees forty-four minutes, longitude one hundred and fifty-three degrees, fifty minutes; twenty four hour’s sail from Oahu before a seven knot breeze. The captain walks the deck whistling for a breeze, and in the evening, behold it comes, and the sailing is delightful. Those who have been sick are getting well, and all unite in pronouncing the voyage thus far, as it regards wind and weather, an unusually pleasant one.
Thursday, 14th of October. The trades have freshened up to a strong breeze, and all were delighted with the prospect of seeing land before night. Borne onward prosperously, according to expectation, at four o’clock, the tops of the mountains of the island of Maui, towering above the clouds, burst upon our view. At sundown Morotoi, could also be seen, but both soon disappeared amidst the darkness of night. We continued our course until four o’clock in the morning, when we could distinctly see the land but a few miles distant, and not knowing whether we were exactly right in our calculations, we lay to for the light of day to discover unto us precisely our condition. At six o’clock,a. m., we found ourselves about six miles from Morotoi, with Oahu on our starboard bow, about thirty miles distant. Soon after sunrise a sail appeared on our stern, and evidently neared us very fast, while two other sail appeared on bow, and seemed to be steering directly towards the harbor. While we were passing around Diamond Head, and the harbor and shipping, with the town of Honolulu, were breaking upon our view, the vessel which had been coming up on our stern, passed us so near that our yard arms were but a few feet from hers. She proved to be her Britanic Majesty’s Brig Frolic of sixteen guns. Her commanding officer hailed us as she passed, and inquired if we had seen the British Frigate America on our way down. We answered no. He replied that she left England with the design of visiting Oregon. The brig was a beautiful craft, but probably would not consider it much of a "Frolic" to take a turn-a-bout with an American "Wasp."
The patriotic American very naturally calls to mind under such circumstances the triumph of the "Wasp" over the "Frolic" in the last war, and is led to wonder why a "Wasp" has not been continued in the American Navy.
As we drew near the shipping in the outer harbor we discovered a number of men-of-war, one of which was the British line of battle ship the Collingwood, Lord Seymour, Admiral, with which the Frolic passed a number of signals, and approaching her, gave her salute of sixteen guns, which was returned by the Admiral.
It was an exciting time on board of our little brig as we so suddenly emerged from the solitudes of the ocean into which interesting and noisy scenes.
As a number Ocean View vessels were before us, it was necessary for us to come to anchor in the roads, soon after which we were boarded by the pilot, with whom the Captain went directly to the shore, promising to send off a boat to take the passengers ashore before night. This he accordingly did, and at sundown we landed on the wharf near the American Consulate, where we found servants waiting with a small hand wagon to convey Mrs. H. and the children to the house of Mr. Rogers, one of the Presbyterian missionaries, where we were kindly invited to take up our lodgings for a day or two, or until we could make other provisions.
This is the third time I have visited the Sandwich Islands during the last six years, and having mingled several months with both foreigners and natives, I have had an opportunity of making observations of no very superficial character; and as the result, I am compelled to entertain the opinion that the public generally, and particularly the christian world, entertain very erroneous views in relation to the true condition of the aboriginies of these islands. Great changes have indeed been effected, and vast improvements made among the Hawaiians through the instrumentality of missionary labor, yet, after all, the amount of real good accomplished, I fear, is not so great as the christian world has been led to believe. Religion, in every department of Hawaiian society, however genuine the system which is taught them may be, is of a very superficial character. Of this the missionary residing among them, is more sensible than any other man can be, and one of them, in answer to the inquiry, "how many of your people give daily evidence of being christians?" replied "none, if you look for the same evidence which you expect will be exhibited by christians at home." Indeed, it is a source of the greatest affliction with the missionaries, that all their efforts are ineffectual in eradicating that looseness of morals, which attaches itself so adhesively to the Hawaiian character, and which is every where exhibiting itself in the gambling, thievish, and adulterous habits of the people of all classes, from the hut of the most degraded menial, to the royal palace.
One fact will show the astonishing extent to which promiscuous intercourse prevails. Relationship is always traced from the mother, and not from the father, as in all civilized countries, and indeed it is not an easy matter for a Hawaiian to tell who his father is.
The practice of promiscuous assemblages of males and females in the streets of Honolulu, is as common as it is odious and demoralizing. Crowds of this description may be seen at all times of day and night, where conduct may be witnessed, and conversation heard, of the most reprehensible character.
In attending the native churches one is struck with the listlesness and inattention which prevail in the congregation. No matter how important the truths, or how impressive the manner of the speaker, he seems scarcely to gain the hearing of the ear; and seldom do the worshippers give any satisfactory evidence that they feel any of the soul hallowing influences resulting from an evangelical waiting before God. The Islanders are far behind the Indians of Oregon in paying attention to the preaching of the gospel. If once you can get an Indian to consent to hear you, you are sure of his attention till your speech is closed. But as to the effect produced, there is little to boast of in either case.
There are the same cold and callous nature, the same unaccountable stupidity and brutal insensibility to contend with, in both, and these array themselves against all the efforts made to overcome them, with disheartening effect. Notwithstanding these things, which the faithful chronicler of facts cannot pass over without mentioning, there are, on the other hand, evidences sufficient to establish the vast importance and utility of the missionary cause. For a particular account of the islands and of the mission, the reader is referred to the notes of a former visit.