The Sandwich Islands.—During the last few days a stall has been fitted up near the department of the Ionian Islands which represents the latest and most distant echo in response to the invitation given to all nations and peoples to exhibit their natural and artificial products under the domes of South Kensington. The Hawaiian, or, as they are better known, the Sandwich Islands, were unrepresented in 1851, owing to the collection made there not reaching England till the Exhibition had finally closed, the voyage by a sailing vessel occupying five or six months. This year a similar fate threatened this remote group in the Pacific, and it seemed likely that the name of Hawaii would only be known in connexion with the International Exhibition of 1862 by a pair of silk banners in the nave, and a foreign commissioner with nothing to do. Fortunately, Lady Franklin, who has been making a visit to the islands, arrived lately in England bringing with her a small collection of objects of interest from Honolulu, leaving some other and more important specimens to follow; but these have not reached London. As this collection was made without any reference to the Congress of National Industries, it by no means represents the progress which the islands have made during the last few years in a commercial point of view. The Hawaiians grow sugar, coffee, and rice of very fine quality, and they also ship hides and tallow, but, finding profitable markets on the continent of America, this produce never reaches England. The only two products of mercantile value shown in Lady Franklin’s cases are pulu, a silky fibre surrounding the base of the rachis of a large fern, and which is extensively used both in the islands and in America as a substitute for wool and feathers in stuffing mattresses and pillows, and the root of the awa plant (piper mephysticum,) from which an intoxicating drink, having also medicinal properties, is prepared. The chief interest consists in the collection of things passed, or passing away, and things which belong to the new era of the North Pacific. Thus we have a beautiful feather tippet, and a kahili, or feathered wand, denoting rank and office; necklaces of golden plumage; a wighty collar formed of braided human hair, suspending an ornament carved from a whale’s tooth; a sleeping mat of fine grass, and samples of kapa, or native cloth, made from the liber of the morus papyrifera, together with the instruments by which it is manipulated and colored. In contrast with these, we see modern grass hats much in the fashion of Paris and London, which are worn by the native ladies; and highly colored cotton prints from Manchester, showing the existing taste in dress of the country population, which has not yet advanced to the silks and crinolines worn in Honolulu, and in other seaport towns. More interesting are the literary specimens exhibited; the New Testament, translated by the American missionaries in the islands, and printed in Hawaiian and English in parallel columns; the entire Bible, books of mental arithmetic for children, and an advanced book for adults, a child’s primer, and an atlas, all in the Hawaiian language. Beyond these we see a volume of the statute laws of the Hawaiian kingdom in English, two or three newspapers, both native and English, published at Honolulu, and copies of the King’s speech at the opening of the Legislature in the present year, and of the constitution by which he rules. There are portraits also of the Sovereign and of his Queen, which are, however, by no means flattering, since King Kamehameha IV. and Queen Emma are said to be a really handsome couple. We see, too, boxes made of koa and hau woods, susceptible of and showing a high polish and of first-rate workmanship; specimens of vitreous, cellular, and other kinds of lava; sulphur from the crater of the great volcano of Kilauea, and a piece of lava rock taken from the spot where Captain Cook sank under the blows of the natives and died in 1778. A colored map of the most celebrated eruptions hangs on the wall. Among the minor, though not least interesting objects of modern Hawaii, we observe the official seal of the new diocess of Honolulu (erected at the King’s urgent solicitation that a branch of the English church should be established in his dominions,) whose first bishop, the Rev. Dr. Staley, was consecrated last December by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has just embarked with his family and assistant clergy for the interesting field of his future labors.
(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 10/30/1862, p. 4)