Page images
PDF

HAWAIIAN NOTIONS OF THE SOUL.

31

sufferings, and in the immolation even of human victims. The people worshipped them usually by means of idols, supposing that after the performance of certain ceremonies on the images, they became repositories, or at least suitable remembrancers of the spirits above. The people deny that they actually worshipped the wood and the stone, and to explain their use of images, they refer at once to the practice of the Romanists with pictures and symbols.

"In regard to the soul, they had very inadequate and confused notions. They supposed that after death the soul, or rather the ghost, lingered for some time about the deceased body, haunted in dark places, and made its attempts occasionally" in the night to strangle its enemies. If any one was afflicted in the night with the incubus, or night-mare, he regarded it as the attack of some ghost upon his throat. On the evening of a dark night I heard a horrid shriek in the street; it was thatof a strong, athletic man running with all speed, with both hands at his throat, endeavoring to tear something v away. He soon reached the door of a house, burst his way in, and fell on the floor, terrified even to faintness and insensibility. He imagined that the ghost of a chief, who had deceased the day before, had a firm gripe upon his throat, and was about to strangle him."*

The old Hawaiian notion of a future state was, that after death the ghost went first to the region above belonging to Wakea, the name of their first progenitor.

History of the Sandwich Islands, by Sheldon Dibble, p. 99.

If in this life the man had observed religious rites and ceremonies, the ghost was allowed to remain there in comfort and pleasure with Wakea. But if the dead had failed to be religious here, the soul found no one there in the region of Wakea to entertain it, and was forced to take a desperate plunge into a place of misery below ruled by one they called Milu.

There are several precipices from the verge of which unhappy souls were formerly supposed to take the leap into the world of woe. Three in particular are pointed out to the traveller: one at the northern extremity of the island of Hawaii, one at the western termination of Maui, and a third at the southern point of Oahu.

We can hardly believe that the confused and indistinct notions of the Hawaiians respecting a future state, or their absurd system of mythology,* at all prepared

* Idols were of every variety imaginable, from hideous and deformed sculptures of wood, to the utmost perfection of their art. The features of their religion were embodied in these images; the most desired object in their manufacture being to inspire fear and horror, sentiments which in a more refined people would, from such exhibitions, have been converted into disgust. Pele was the chief goddess. Her principal followers were Ka-ma-hu-alii, the King of Steam and Vapor; Ka-poha-i-kahi-ola, the Explosion in the palace of life; Ke-ua-ke-po, the Rain of night; Kane-kekili, Thundering god; Ke-o-ahi-kama-kaua, Fire-thrusting child of war. These were brothers, and, like Vulcan, two of them were deformed. Ma-kole-wawahi-waa, Fiery-eyed canoe-breaker; Hiaka-wawahilani, Heaven-dwelling cloud-breaker; and several others of longer names and similar definitions; these latter were sisters.

The whole family were regarded with the greatest awe. The volcano was their principal residence, though occasionally they renovated their constitutions amid the snows of the mountains. On such occasions their journeys were accompanied by earthquakes, eruptions, heavy thunder and lightning. All were malignant spirits, delighting in acts of vengeance and FABLES OF THE PAGAN MYTHOLOGY. 33

them to receive the revelations of Christianity. But as it was the work of Divine Providence to make a way for the entrance of Divide truth externally, so was it the work of the Divine Spirit internally to procure its reception to a degree, so unprecedented and remarkable, by the mind and heart of the Hawaiian nation. Some of the steps in that process, and the triumphant issue of the same in the Heart of the Pacific, we will endeavor to trace in succeeding chapters that shall present the Island Kingdom of Hawaii As It Is.

destruction. Many tributes were assessed to avoid or appease their anger; the greater part of which went to support the numerous and wealthy priesthood and their followers, who regulated the worship of Pele. These were held in the highest reverence, as holding in their power the devouring fires of the all-powerful goddess. To insult them, break their taboos, or neglect to send offerings, was to call down certain destruction. At their call, Pele would spout out her lava and destroy the offenders^ Vast numbers of hogs, both cooked and alive, were thrown into the crater when any fear of an eruption was entertained, or to stay the progress of one commenced. Offerings were annually made to keep her in good humor, and no traveller dared venture near her precincts without seeking her good-will.—History of the Hawaiian Islands, by James Jackson Jarves, pp. 28, 29. Honolulu, 1847.

. 2*

CHAPTER II.

KEALAKEKUA BAY NOW AND THIRTY YEARS AGO.

Till missionaries' feet made glad

The solitudes by sin made sad;

Till songs to Christ took place of cries,

Shrieked o'er the monarch's sacrifice,—

No good was there,—no Godhead's beam,

No light did o'er the future gleam.

TAPPAN.

The trail from Kailua—Observed wealth of nature—Insight of the spiritual through the veil of the natural—Analogy drawn and lessons derived—We view the ocean from on high—Coffee plantation of a man from Maine—A relic from the times of Kamehameha the Great—The premises of a missionary heave in sight—Primitive hospitality—City of refuge at Honaunau—The Iona of Hawaii—Eliis's account of It quarter of a century ago—The hideous corpse of paganism—The deeds of despots— Legendary exploit of an Hawaiian Gracchus—Sole feature of humanity in the system of paganism—Human sacrifices—Numbers once immolated—Last at Kealakekua—Comparison of Christianity with paganism—Incredible change—The theme of song—The transforming agent—Investment of a Massachusetts Wheelwright—How to make eighteen hundred per cent, by a donation to missions—Death and life springing from the same Bay of Kealakekua—Sketches of Obookiah—Providential voyage to America, and adoption at Cornwall—Other links in the chain of Providence—Adventures of Thomas Hopu—Hopes from the Cornwall school—Natural disappointment—The Heart of the Pacific in 1820 and 1850—Blessedness of tho change. *

In order that we may survey in this Chapter more minutely an interesting portion of the Hawaiian Heart of the Pacific, I will take the reader upon my trail from Kailua, Hawaii, to Kealakekua, on the same great Island. The path runs, for six miles along the sea, through villages of cocoanut-palm groves, from which the bronzed inhabitants, with little else than the habil

[merged small][ocr errors]

iments of nature, peeped and stared upon a stranger, as I came that way, with curious eyes. I passed two snug little bays that used to be favorite resorts of Kamehameha the Great, in one of which was his bathing-place, tabu to every one else, and the heiau and house of his favorite war-god Kaili.

At Kiauhou, the path turned inland two miles, up a rugged hill of lava, in ascending which, the beast I rode made as much ado as if he had been brought up on a Brussels carpet or an English lawn, instead of the hoof-hardening pastures of Kailua. The path was slightly worn by the bare feet of the natives, much as the stone toe of St. Peter at Eome is kissed smooth by the worshippers of baptized Jupiter Capitolinus. On both sides were heaps and depressions of rough scoria and slag, great boulders of lava, black broken masses, crumbling cylinders, and spheroidal • volcanic stones, the surface of which had been fused, and in some places had peeled off like a crust or shell, while the centre of some of them was of a dark-blue color and compact texture, and did not appear to have been at all affected by the fire which had reduced the surface.

Jammed into clefts of lava, where there seems not a particle of sand or earth, you may see there the splendid pink-white caper, (capparis,) with its hundred stamens, and delicious odor, and light-green leaves, lavishing alone its fragrance and beauty upon rough, unsightly rocks. Even so, perhaps Jeremy Taylor would say, have I seen beauty adorning the face of deformity, virtue flourishing amid vice, and the wealth

« PreviousContinue »