- Historic Sites
Mark Twain In Paradise
He Never Got Hawaii out of His System
October/november 1981 | Volume 32, Issue 6
“I have spoken of the outside view—but we had an inside one, too. That was the yawning dead crater, into which we now and then tumbled rocks, half as large as a barrel, from our perch, and saw them go careering down the almost perpendicular sides, bounding three hundred feet at a jump; kicking up dust clouds wherever they struck; diminishing to our view as they sped farther into distance; growing invisible, finally, and only betraying their course by faint little puffs of dust; and coming to a halt at least in the bottom of the abyss, two thousand five hundred feet down from where they started! It was magnificent sport. We wore ourselves out at it.…Presently vagrant white clouds came drifting along, high over the sea and the valley; then they came in couples and groups, then in imposing squadrons; gradually joining their forces, they banked themselves solidly together, a thousand feet under us, and totally shut out land and ocean —not a vestige of anything was left in view but just a little of the rim of the crater, circling away from the pinnacle whereon we sat (for a ghostly procession of wanderers from the filmy hosts without had drifted through a chasm in the crater wall and filed round and round, and gathered and sunk and blended together till the abyss was stored to the brim with a fleecy fog). Thus banked, motion ceased, and silence reigned. Clear to the horizon, league on league, the snowy floor stretched without a break—not level, but in rounded folds, with shallow creases between, and with here and there stately piles of vapory architecture lifting themselves aloft out of the common plain—some near at hand, some in the middle distances, and others relieving the monotony of the remote solitudes.…I felt like the Last Man, neglected of the judgment, and left pinnacled in mid-heaven, a forgotten relic of a vanished world.…”
While I was in Honolulu I witnessed the ceremonious funeral of the king’s sister, Her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria. According to the royal custom, the remains had lain in state at the palace thirty days , watched day and night by a guard of honor. And during all that time a great multitude of natives from the several islands had kept the palace grounds well crowded and had made the place a pandemonium every night with their howlings and wailings, beating of tom-toms, and dancing of the (at other times) forbidden hula-hula by half-clad maidens to the music of songs of questionable decency chanted in honor of the deceased.…
“As the procession filed through the gate, the military deployed handsomely to the right and left and formed an avenue through which the long column of mourners passed to the tomb. The coffin was borne through the door of the mausoleum, followed by the king and his chiefs, the great officers of the kingdom, foreign consuls, ambassadors, and distinguished guests.…At this point of the proceedings the multitude set up such a heartbroken wailing as I hope never to hear again. The soldiers fired three volleys of musketry—the wailing being previously silenced to permit of the guns being heard. His Highness Prince William, in a showy military uniform (the “true prince,” this—scion of the house overthrown by the present dynasty—he was formerly betrothed to the princess but was not allowed to marry her), stood guard and paced back and forth within the door. The privileged few who followed the coffin into the mausoleum remained some time, but the king soon came out and stood in the door and near one side of it.^ A stranger could have guessed his rank (although he was so simply and unpretentiously dressed) by the profound deference paid him by all persons in his vicinity; by seeing his high officers receive his quiet orders and suggestions with bowed and uncovered heads; and by observing how careful those persons who came out of the mausoleum were to avoid “crowding” him (although there was room enough in the doorway for a wagon to pass, for that matter); how respectfully they edged out sideways, scraping their back against the wall and always presenting a front view of their persons to His Majesty, and never putting their hats on until they were well out of the royal presence.
“He was dressed entirely in black—dress coat and silk hat—and looked rather democratic in the midst of the showy uniforms about him. On his breast he wore a large gold star, which was half hidden by the lapel of his coat. He remained at the door a half hour. Finally he entered his carriage and drove away, and the populace shortly began to drop into his wake. While he was in view there was but one man who attracted more attention than himself, and that was Harris (the Yankee prime minister). This feeble personage had crape enough around his hat to express the grief of an entire nation, and as usual he neglected no opportunity of making himself conspicuous and exciting the admiration of the simple Kanakas. ”