We talked about Laukiamanuikahiki last time, but we didn’t get into the Two Lonos. Could you tell me something about how you came to write that play?
Well, I think it changes from the fact of—I think we mentioned that before—being interested in earlier texts and quite a number of those earlier texts had been either published in Hawaiian newspapers or had been recorded by Mr. Dibble, I think, for the story of Hawai‘i.1 So they had a historical subject for a time at least. I gathered things that were related to the memories of people either who had been there at the time of Cook or who had remembered what their fathers and so on or grandfathers whatever it was…. I remembered from the coming of Cook we have in the case of the so-called discovery here an important body of works that give the other side, the other image. Now I had worked also on similar subjects with Mexico for a while. I wanted to translate directly from the Náhuatl texts, from the Indian text, one of the earlier reports we have, at least of the sixteenth century, from the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe. And towards that, towards the Virgin of Guadalupe, I had gathered together whatever published texts there were. And there are some curious things about the verbal tradition. For example, there was a most important body of texts on that apparition which is dated 1530, ’31, was gathered together by a commission that was put together in 1660, that is, a hundred and thirty years later. And the people who want to debunk, we could say, the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe have had their laugh about the change in time of a hundred and thirty years between the fact and the gathering together of what you could call ocular descriptions by witnesses. Then I remember that in my own case, I remember that when I was quite young, now, one of my first portraits was of a woman who remembered the coming of the official triumphal cart that contained the ashes of Emperor Napoleon that Louis-Philippe was bringing back from Saint Helena. That was 1841,2 I think. And she remembered her father speaking of the attempt at assassination of Robespierre—which was in the 1780s, I think—when he had been shot by a pistol shot, and how the man was there when they put him on the table in the concierge area, and his jaw was setted together, and a handkerchief was put around it so that it wouldn’t open up. The next day, of course, they cut his head. But those are things that made it very obvious to me that we have to believe the direct testimonial or the testimonial through one generation of people who speak of Cook, who comes here in the 1770s, and that there is nothing ridiculous, in fact, much less span of time between the gathering in the 1830s of remembrances of people who were remembering after all, let’s say, something sixty years before. I think I started gathering those things, first looking for ancient texts, texts that were untouched by the extraordinary amount of loan words and what we talked about before, the distortions that come from trying to force a verbal language into a written language. So that those early informants, people who first didn’t know how to write, people especially who had grown up before the solidification or mummification of the language by the attempt of the missionaries to force it in the alphabet. The Latin alphabet, if you want, had a double edge. One of the edges was to find out the quality of the verbal Hawaiian language. The other one—and that was by accident to begin with—was to find out what it was that the people that were being discovered by Cook thought of their discoverer. It was very much the same thing again, a parallel with the Guadalupe where Juan Diego, for example, had grown to be a man in his fifties, about ten years after the first clashes between Indians and Spaniards. So let’s say that my studies of Guadalupe—which never incidentally came to fruits, never, will, I think now—were a rehearsal for that second attempt, which is very similar in the means though so different in content. And I was…for example, I prefer the actual printed sources in the earliest newspapers in the Hawaiian language to the later sources when those articles were gathered together, put in books, and eventually we have parallel texts, English-Hawaiian, face-to-face, in which very often the Hawaiian is forced, not only into the Latin alphabet, which has to be done to print it, but also into English forms, even though it is still the Hawaiian language. So there is a real double-edge historical idea there, first to know what the—we could say that Cook made a conquest, he didn’t want to especially, but made a conquest just like Cortes had made a conquest of Mexico—what the people conquered thought of their conquerors, and that is quite rare historically to have the two sides of the question. And the other one, an honest try, though I’m not a linguist, to finding an early form, an early form of Hawaiian. I think I mentioned in relation with that the way I tried as a painter, at least I mentioned it in a first draft for the foreword of the book that contains the plays in Hawaiian, the way I tried to find out what the Hawaiian dogs, those that existed here before the coming of the haole dogs looked like. In that case, I had a curious confirmation when about twenty years after my fresco was painted in Bachman Hall with those Hawaiian dogs that I had recreated, so to speak, after what I could make out from the texts of the voyages, came to life when somebody worked out those backward ways of purifying a race of poi dogs until they came eventually with a dog that they considered to be the pure preconquest Hawaiian dog. He looked just like a dog in my fresco. So there are all kinds of things besides playwriting in there that for me are quite important.
It interests me that you really wanted to look at the Hawaiian side. And that implies really that most people have accepted the haole side. Do you think this is true that most people have a non-Hawaiian way of looking at all of that?
Well, it’s very natural because they are not Hawaiian, but it happened to the Hawaiians too that there is now that easy way of saying that people have their brain whitewashed and so on and so forth. But very quickly, because the Hawaiians believed unhappily that the people who came to them were the most civilized people, very quickly the Hawaiians forgot or attempted to forget their own ways of understanding and of believing and of saying things. So there is an attempt here, very much like that poi dog or that Hawaiian dog, to find the preconquest Hawaiian man. I mentioned the other day, I think, that nowadays we have debased so quickly within the twenty-five years that we’ve been in Hawai‘i, that I’ve been in Hawai‘i, and you too, John, the term Hawaiian, that what was before a race for a while through the book of Goodman,3 for example, became just people who live in the state of Hawai‘i and is now narrowed further to the football team of the state of Hawai‘i. So all those befuddlings that can happen so strongly in the twenty-five years that I’ve been in the islands started happening as soon, of course, as there was a contact between Europeans and Hawaiians. And it’s an interesting thing to find the pure Hawaiian man in the same way that I tried to find the pure Hawaiian dog. It goes, of course, more into intellectual or metaphysical things than looking for a dog when you look for a man. That’s also one of the purposes of that play. Or more exactly, I hang the event of the conquest on those people, not so much because of the conquest, which is incidental there, because for example, Captain Cook happens only in the last act and delivers only two or three short lines. But I hang on the fact of the conquest a search for preconquest Hawai‘i—before, we could say, the Hawaiians were, I wouldn’t say spoiled, but were modified by that sudden intrusion of things totally different than the things that made them what they were before.
Do you feel that the Hawaiians have been kind of hurt by this, accepting this haole view of the situation?
Ah Johnny, you won’t catch me there! You know that Christianity brought great good and so on, to the Hawaiians; that I’ve been working very hard lately on the role of Catholic missionaries in the Pacific Islands. Though I believe there is a lot of good in that coming of another culture, now there is a quality in cultures that have been untouched, well, let’s say by Christianity in this sense, which in a way is very similar to the admiration that I think all people that are so-called grown-ups, or people that are old like I am, resent for—not resent, what is it?—reflect when they look at children, children that have an extraordinary quick and complex reaction to things, even though they are so different from grown-ups. And they can be fully as complex within their own world as grown-ups. And it is our business, which isn’t such a good business, I would say, to force them out of that form which is themselves and put them into the form of old men as quick as we can because there is something frightening in innocence, which of course, comes out in children. And I think that innocence comes out in the—call it the polity, if you want—of Hawaiian and Polynesian and Melanesian and that…communities before the coming of the Europeans. So there is maybe also perhaps in there a search for lost innocence, a search for what some people try to refer to loosely as a terrestrial paradise, the same search that, for example, brought Gauguin to Tahiti. It may have truly a romantic base, perhaps even little actual provable facts, but nevertheless it has a great interest for people just the way that people say—and I don’t know why they say it—that very old men and very young children can talk to each other easily because both lack the ambitions, the complexities, and so on of the middle-aged civilized man.
I was thinking more particularly of something you’ve spoken about quite often which is this attempt to kind of use the Captain Cook episode as a club against Hawaiian culture.
Well, that, of course, has been used because even civilized people have a conscience and they know—and they know nowadays perhaps even more than they did in let’s say mid-nineteenth century—that they destroyed something precious. And they have to justify themselves. The most obvious thing, of course, in the case of Hawai‘i at least, is the way the missionaries—I speak especially of the earliest American missionaries—did forbid all the games that were communal games and that gave to the people their communal image. All that was forbidden. The dances that we know nowadays, the hula and so on, were things that were recouped, reborn, if you want, by the strength, perhaps we could say, of a single man which was King Kalākaua. King Kalākaua has even nowadays in history bad press as a man, as a man who was immoral and so on and so forth. Those things come from the fact that he’s one of the few among the Hawaiian sovereigns who was not afraid of trying to recapture a past that already was not simple truth to him. We could say that Kalākaua, though he was a Hawaiian by race, goes on a search for his ancestors very much in the same way that Gauguin goes for the search of something in Tahiti that perhaps never existed in Tahiti. Well, Kalākaua found things that were truly Hawaiian, but by then, they were so different because they were sort of novelty fringed with immorality. It’s frightening to read the contemporary reports of non-Hawaiians, for example, at the crowning of King Kalākaua, when all the ladies, all those ladies who were corsetted and so on in Victorian modes, have to leave the place in a hurry because as one of them says in her memoirs, she begins to hear the drummings and chantings that announced the coming of the immoral dances, meaning simply the hula dances. So Kalākaua for me is a hero in that sense, that he was strong enough to buck the current, we could say, and to respect his ancestors. I’m not so sure about Queen Lili‘uokalani, who in her memoirs devotes a whole chapter to having tea with Queen Victoria.4 That seems in her book of memoirs to be one of the crowning heights of her life. And at the same time, and in secret, and without speaking much about it, she was making a new translation of the Kumulipo, of the name chant of the higher chiefs which is something that not only supposes but implies that she knew a lot about the ancient religion in its more esoteric form. But she did that in secret, not that she was ashamed certainly because she knew the importance of the Kumulipo, but as a Victorian lady that she was besides being a Hawaiian woman, she never could put the two parts of herself together.
I’ve always wondered whether it’s because you’re a Catholic that you couldn’t accept the kind of prevailing view of Hawaiian culture as something that was replaced by something higher. In other words, I think one of the reasons that you’ve been very slowly accepted by some Hawaiians and by most of the kind of missionary people, missionary families here, is that you couldn’t accept that prevailing Protestant missionary view of Hawaiians.
Well, we mustn’t make it just a Protestant view. We have, for example, well, in Moloka‘i, Father Damien, who is going to probably be canonized very shortly.5 And he was there with a little community who literally had nothing to do but die, who could not leave legally that little peninsula. And that little community craved to do something in a form of art. And when they started playing music that to Father Damien’s ear sounded like the prayer to Laka,6 that is, the foreword, if you want, or prologue to a hula dance, he would rush there—he was a very forceful man—and stop the people. It’s not a pleasant, I would say, image—with those people sick and dying and trying still to do communal arts—to have that dissolution in silence of those lepers, because Father Damien like everybody of his generation considered that even the mention in that prayer to Laka of the pagan goddess was sinful, we could say. I was mentioning the other day that very naïve bow to Bishop Maigret that—what’s his name?—that his Hawaiian protégé makes when he says that—yeah, Kepelino—when he says that all day long, when there was a good surf, the people rushed on their surfboards and sinned all day long. Nevertheless, the Catholic church brought a relative freedom to the people. We find that, for example, the fact that the priests were good at smoking pipes—smoking was considered a sin, by the Protestant missionaries. And the greatest rush to become Catholic came in the, well, villages and for the time, little towns if you want, by the sea that were famous for their surf, because some of the Catholic missionaries allowed surfing as a sport, while that was banned by the Protestant missionaries.
Well, one thing that interested me, you told me once that when you started doing the research on the play, that your idea of why Captain Cook died or was killed hadn’t been formed yet and the idea really came to you by looking at the sources.
Well, there was no idea really that came before the thing was written. Everything in there is, we could say, borrowed from as original texts as I could. And when I put it together in what we could call strict chronological order from the first sighting and landing to, of course, the death of Cook, the play took that form by itself without my attempting to shape it around a core. It’s at the very last moment, for example—when I, following the Hawaiian texts, have that young priest who’s reciting the prayers for a human sacrifice nearly in the ear of Cook and mumbles, from the English point of view, his prayers without interruption—that in reading the description of the death of Cook by Captain King, I think, who took his place after his death, I found that young priest (that wasn’t my invention) seen from the outside by an outsider, who did not know what he was about, but who had noticed him and reported that the guy would go on mumbling and mumbling those things at the very time that I represent the last landing, we could say, of Cook and his attempt at kidnapping Kalani‘ōpu‘u.7 So I certainly didn’t do the work, we could say, of a medium that suddenly gets a spirit, an influx of spirit in him and does things that he has not gathered in his reason. I did more like a patch, like you make quilts with patches. And when the whole thing is together and is the shape of the quilt, it has a certain unity and beauty to the surprise of the fellow that has made the quilt. It is interesting that original texts, be they Hawaiian or English, suggest the solution, if you want to call it a solution, that I have in the play, that exonerates the people. There is no other way of interpreting what happened at the time. I gave the play to read to Judge Wiig,8 who is a judge who has had much experience in judging. And I just gave it to him as a friend. And he was very taken by it in his own way. He said, “Your play is a very curious thing because you write like a judge, like a judge giving a judgement.” And I think that is a great compliment I received, given a sort of haphazard way in which I made my patch, my quilt. And I think that anybody who tries to represent the thing as it was will have to come to the same conclusions. I don’t think there is another parallel explanation that would make the people, the Hawaiians, more guilty, or Cook in the eyes of the Hawaiians according to the Hawaiian traditions.
Didn’t you tell me once that Koana Wilcox9 came up with the same solution as it were that you did?
I don’t quite remember what…
It was on the plane. We were coming back from Kaua‘i, and you had a long talk with Koana Wilcox, and you told me she’d come up with the same thing.
Yes. I think that quite a number of people—in fact the Hawaiians that played my other play and I gave them to read this play—none of them questioned at all the basic facts in it. I don’t know what historians think of when they write history, but they take for granted in fact the thing that I have in that play as being the truth. There are some very curious wording in the reports of the people around 1830 that seem worthless because they use obviously some Christian parallels. But one of those that seemed to me the most difficult perhaps is somebody who said that—accused Cook of having sinned and saying that the sin of Captain Cook—that is in the Hawaiian language—the sin of Captain Cook is the same sin of Pilate. Now, I don’t know, that would need a little deepening, but once we try to put together two things that don’t go very well together, the old religion and the Christian gospels, we see that Pilate judges as if he was God. There are certain things about him: for example, when he says, “What is truth?” which put him in a position where no human being should be if you believe in the divinity of Christ. And there’s very much the same thing into that elevation to godhood of Cook—which the people made as another politeness, that is, a politeness of receiving him as a god in the same way that the politeness that they made to him and that was hushed later on in Victorian times, but very proper at the time, of finding a beautiful girl, so he could sleep with her if he wanted. He was a man; he needed then a woman as hospitality offers. He was certainly a chief. Everybody believed he was a very high chief because he was one to begin with by Hawaiian standards. And thus, giving him at least the trappings of godhood is something that Hawaiian high chiefs had received for countless generations and could take without the thing going to their head. It was a little play, a little byplay, if you want. Perhaps the emperor of Japan nowadays is in a similar position. But in that sense, Cook as a military man of England was not ready and showed himself unworthy of that honor of, we could say, pretended godhood. And then there was a certain vulgar attitude, if you want, in him that came out that to the civilized Hawaiian of the time, shall we say, looked lowbrow. So there was a puzzle there; the puzzle was never resolved because Cook died before it could be solved.
What was the vulgarity? (inaudible)
Well, he was not as much a chief as a Hawaiian chief who since infancy has been brought up with all kind of marks of respect from the beginning that would turn the head of a man who was not born to it. And Cook, of course, was in many ways a self-made man, which was a grand thing from an English point of view. But there there was a clash between the man who is born to his high station, the aristocracy of the Hawaiians, and the man who got to a similar rank by his merit. Now to come there by merit for the Hawaiians was not quite the same as being born there. And it turned the head of Cook. It, he really—his last words, I mean, really were very close to those I have in the play: “By Gad, they think I’m a god.” That is, he was a lowbrow in that sense that he thought those men were so stupid, we could say, so innocent, so barbarous that they really took him for a god, which they never did.
There’s a very short but very strong reference to Cook as Lono10 in Kepelino, where he says, you know the white men have brought us enormous amounts of trouble from the time of Lono on. Did that strike you at all when you read that, do you remember (inaudible)?
Well even, even Kepelino was a born high chief, he was a born high chief in a Hawai‘i in which the trappings of greatness were not allowed anymore. I think I mentioned that his father and mother both were high chiefs and yet were people of small means by European standards. The mama was a laundress. But there was that tremendous difference between being born in a high station even though there were no trappings anymore to such a thing. And of course, the greed, we could say, of the European, even the best of them, to climb up to a high station. It’s a completely different thing. And even nowadays you know very well that it is so, that the people who are in the Hawaiian hierarchy of high station can be beggars in the street, if you want, compared with a Chinese real-estate man perhaps and so on and so forth, or very rich families, but nevertheless keeps a rank that those people will never arrive at.
I’d like to ask you a question that’s somewhat less pointed, in other words, I’d like you to give me your general views first and then we could get into questions of style and influence on the play. But I wanted to ask you about Kamakau11—what you’d read of him. I know you did a lot of research on his Hawaiian in Hawaiian, and what you think of his general style and how he influenced the play.
Well, the thing in his case was not intended as a book. There is really a distortion when something gets between covers and becomes a book. It started in a series of small, we could say maybe sketches in our days, in Hawaiian-language newspapers. And it’s only much later that the things take the shape of the form of a book. I think I’ve used some very nice passages of Kamakau about ancient history. I think he’s one of the people who suggests, for example, the earlier discoverers as Spaniards and so on in a rather vivid way from old stories that were told long before Cook came in. So as I said, he’s less of a writer in the artistic sense than Kepelino, but he has that maybe plodding and continuous quality that Kepelino doesn’t have. My play’s really a mess as an individual thing, and I come back to the idea that it is a bunch of disparate things that I patched together to make a sort of a quilt to the best of my ability without… and being very careful not to destroy whatever personal quality there was in the passages that I chose from this and that author. So I can excuse myself, I would say, at not having a style of my own, which I don’t think I have because it is a series of morceaux choisis from different authors. There is nevertheless a certain art in making one of those quilts of patches, and I think that I did rather well.
Could you tell me something about how you regard Kamakau’s style? I think you told me once that you thought it was very, very complicated.
Well, all those things are very complicated because they are, after all, what we could call “old Hawaiian” as opposed to the people who came to Hawaiian with a full knowledge of English, even a sort of habit of English in their brains and in their ears. I really can’t single him out because once I cut out those passages from people, I just mishmashed them all together. And I couldn’t pick out which is Kamakau, which is Kepelino, which is, in rare instances, myself for example, when I make little bridges that maybe are more creative in the usual sense because they are my own between-passages that I put together. The thing that I want to plead not guilty of is to have started with a definite story—call it a story of a crime, if you want, and the solution of the crime. That isn’t at all the way it happened; it just happened step by step. And I was more surprised than anybody could be surprised when I found that the whole thing made a single story, and made sense, and is probably the historical, we couldn’t say solution, but the historical series of happenings that are an explanation that make in fact imperative, we could say, the death of Captain Cook.
So far, you’ve given me as possible sources, Dibble, Kepelino, Kamakau, and the journals of the Cook voyage. Do you recall any other sources that you used?
Well, I mean, there are the physical sources. You go to the Bishop Museum. You get into those two mortuary bundles, which I think incidentally should be taken out of the shelves of the storage of the museum and put in some way, in some manner, with the tombs of the kings. But of course, here we come to the fact that those ancient kings were unbaptized, and I suppose that even now, the idea of putting those unbaptized people in a vault, a royal vault, with the other royal vaults of baptized people would be too strong to take for the Hawai‘i even of today, and would have been, of course, a complete impossibility in the nineteenth century. But there are there the bodies of two great kings. One of them was great because he was good; the other one was great because he was bad. And they are the mortuary bundles, and the people put their hands in those baskets where the bodies are. And it was in fact Mrs. Wiig who told me that she was allowed to do that and out came those nails that are nails, of course, from a wreck of a ship of a sort and fragments of sail that had been put there as a special, unusual thing with which perhaps that particular king wanted to be buried. I speak of that in guarded terms, if you want, in the play when I speak of those short swords and so on that were buried—iron that was buried with one of the kings. It’s still there; it’s still there. So I gathered a few facts from regular archeological sources besides, of course, the purely literary forms, and there’s a heck of a lot of those things that you can gather. And the people, as I said, are not so ancient, those that are contemporary with Cook. Kalani‘ōpu‘u survives him to nearly, I think, around 1800, for example. And we have lots of stories about those people. The death of Cook was not the death of the chiefs, and it became just an incident, for example, in the life of that old chief, who ended his life a little bit, as I suggest at least in the play, as very happy with puppet hulas and dancing and so on. We still have the text at least of the little sing-song that he loved when he was a little senile at the end of his life. I’ve incorporated that also directly in the play.
I’ve heard of the nails that were put into the wickerwork caskets, but I was wondering as I was editing the play about the swords. You got that from archeological reports?
There is, there was a fragment of sword that is mentioned, I think, in the English, in the English reports that had, I think, just finished rusting, but had still been a great relic, so to speak, that the priests treasured and used. There is a mention—I wouldn’t fish it out right now—I think that mention is in English because, of course, the English people would use the proper term of the sword. The fact is that it was metal, that it had been eaten up by rust. Yes, that is also one of the facts that has been mentioned in the times of Cook. The nails are still there.
I’d like to get back again to questions of style because that’s something I think that very few people can clarify. You’ve said in relationship to these plays and also in relationship to your English-language plays on Hawaiian themes, that Hawaiian culture had kind of gone, had already passed by its heroic stage and was now in kind of a stage of looking back at the heroic time and where heroic attitudes are turned somewhat to fun. And it’s kind of an over-ripe culture, and the style of language is over-ripe. Could you talk to me about that?
Well it’s extremely difficult to understand that the Hawaiian hero, I mean, the great man has a completely different connotation with Hawaiians maybe even today—when for example, Sammy Amalu12 is a great Hawaiian—than the haole would choose. Now, very few people saw the ancient pagan ceremonies before the coming of the missionaries, but some of them did and reported them. We have for example, von Chamisso,13 who was a great writer in his own right in Europe, when he was allowed to one of those tremendously secret religious ceremonies where only certain of the high chiefs who were also priests were allowed. And he was in an all-night vigil, and that was in the time of Kamehameha the First, who was still alive, and when the islands were still pagan. An all-night vigil including some runs by the chiefs, the high chiefs, around the temple with death, I think, as a result for anybody who would be found in, we couldn’t say the streets, but anyhow, looking at those people running around. And then the all-night vigil in the temple with the gods, together with the gods. Now, those gods—some of them as you know were basketry. We have the one now in the Bishop Museum with the dog teeth in his open mouth. And Chamisso, of course, was accepted. He had been invited, but he says that he was horrified, that he felt that it was terrible when one of the chiefs took that light basketry work and barking like a dog, pretended that the god was biting Chamisso’s hand, and that they all laughed their heads off. Now that was one of the most sacred moments, one of the most sacred nights. There were all, both chiefs and priests, they were all believing in fact in what they were doing. But there was a sort of amusement, good humor in there. It would be very difficult to find a similar parallel, I think, in Europe about those religious ceremonies. So we don’t know. We just have those little glimpses of things that to us, as they did to Chamisso, seem perfectly un-understandable. I think all those high chiefs had been not using women and not eating food and so on for quite a longish time before that particular night, the most sacred one of the year. And then still, they took the god, and pretended he was a dog and biting Chamisso, and they all laughed about it. He was absolutely scandalized. Of course, he wasn’t a pagan or perhaps because he was not a pagan. And I won’t try to understand those things, but they are facts.
One thing that you use in Two Lonos and also in your English plays is the the tension between the priests and the chiefs. And that seems to be a theme that you really brought to light in many ways, but also a theme that interests you a lot, because you do use it quite a bit. Could you talk to me about that?
Well, in the all-English plays, of course, I have used that thing in the two parallel kings, the one that is too religious and the one that is irreligious—and the advantages and the disadvantages of both attitudes. That is in detail. I was interested in the fact that people spoke of invention about that chief who observes the kapus and the chief who breaks the kapus. But in the language, and it’s Sam Elbert himself, I think, in the foreword to my plays, Sam says that it couldn’t be an invention because all the vocabulary was there for the state of mind of those people who were irreligious and the people, of course, who were religious, and the tension between the two, between the fellow who doesn’t believe in the kapus and the fellow who over-believes in the kapus. If the words existed, and they did, for the man who doesn’t believe in the gods for example, for the man who mocks the kapus, then those things must have existed also, though we don’t have any models, historical models in the past about it that we know of.
I wasn’t really asking about the problem of good religious chiefs and unreligious chiefs, but of the tension between the chiefly class on the one hand and the priestly class on the other.
Well, they sort of overlapped in… and that again is the end of a long experience that is perhaps more political than religious. It was found obviously in what we like to call the dim past that there was the danger in having people come to be high priests who were not also high chiefs. So, little by little at the top, the two classes merge. But my own choice, of course, is before that merging of chief and priest sufficient to consolidate the state, we could say, happened, there was a lovely rubbing the wrong way, if you want, between the priests and the chiefs; and of course, I have in my mind as a European, as a fellow who has at least a little knowledge of past centuries in the Church in Europe, those nice notions of excommunication and auto-da-fés and different things in which the religious man can gather power sufficiently to equal or surpass in certain conditions or situations the power of the chief. And that is, of course, a general thing through the whole world and, without need of any adding any denomination to it, the spiritual and the physical or, in the sense of that thing, the spiritual power and the military power, the power of weapons as against the power of supernatural knowledge, I would say, rather than creed.
I was wondering, that was what my next question was going to be. Was that a reflection of your French anti-clericalism and even Gallicanism?
I have no anti-clericalism, sir, and no gallicism?
GalliCANism. I have gallicisms, unhappily. But there may be a little grain of truth in there that a Frenchman—and maybe that is a tie with the Hawaiians—will always take with a little grain of salt extreme seriousness. The German can take that, but with the French, there is that saying by, I just don’t remember who now, but anyhow said: “Après tout, les plus grands rois du monde ne sont assis que sur leur derrière.”
Thank you very much, Papa.
Sheldon Dibble, Ka Mooolelo Hawaii. I Kakauia E Kekahi Mau Haumana O Ke Kulanui, A I Hooponoponoia E Kekahi Kumu O Ia Kula (1838).
Editor: December 1840.
Robert B. Goodman, The Hawaiians, text Gavan Daws and Ed Sheehan, ed. Jonathan Rinehart (1970).
Lili‘uokalani, Hawai‘i’s Story (1898).
Father Damien, born Joseph De Veuster (1840–1889), was canonized October 11, 2009.
Laka is the Hawaiian goddess of forests and hula.
Kalani‘ōpu‘u (1729?–1782) was a high chief of Hawai‘i island, who welcomed Captain James Cook on Cook’s 1779 arrival and exchanged gifts with him.
Attorney Jon Wiig (1906–1987) came to Hawaii in 1933 and served in various private and public capacities throughout his legal career. As a federal District Court Judge, Wiig presided over the controversial “Hawaii Seven” Smith Act trial (1952–53).
Johanna (Koana) Wilcox (1898–1974) was a well-known singer and composer of Hawaiian songs—including a campaign mele for Samuel Wilder King’s successful bid for delegate to U.S. Congress (1935–1943). Wilcox also collected Hawaiian chants, which she described in a 1948 interview as one of Hawai‘i’s fine arts.
Hawaiian god of the annual thanksgiving ceremony, during which Captain Cook arrived.
Native Hawaiian historian Samuel M. Kamakau (1815–1876) was a prolific writer in Hawaiian-language newspapers and is recognized today as an invaluable resource on the people of Hawai‘i, their language, and their culture.
Sammy Amalu (d. 1986) was a notorious and highly entertaining con man. Amalu’s most famous scheme involved a purported deal for prime Hawaiian real estate in 1962.
Adelbert von Chamisso (1781–1838) was a German botanist attached to the Russian brig Rurik (under Otto von Kotzebue) on its 1815–1818 around-the-world voyage of scientific exploration. The Rurik stopped in Hawai‘i in 1816 and 1817.