Report of Kalakaua’s death from the “San Francisco Chronicle,” 1891.


Last Hours of the Hawaiian Monarch.

Solemn Scenes at the Royal Bedside.

The Succession and the Political Situation.

Sketches of the Dead Sovereign and of the Heirs to the Throne.

Kalakaua I., King of the Hawaiian Islands, is dead. He expired at 2:33 o’clock yesterday afternoon in his room at the Palace Hotel, where for three days he had lain unconscious on his bed. Surrounding him at the moment of his death were Col. Macfarlane, the King’s Chamberlain; Col. Hoapili Baker, His Majesty’s Equerry-in-waiting; Hawaiian Consul McKinley, Admiral Brown, U. S. N. Rev. J. Sanders Reed, Rev. F. H. Church and a number of personal friends of the King. Immediately after the death, Admiral Brown notified the Secretary of the Navy of that fact, Mayor Sanderson was also notified, and he called a meeting of the Supervisors for 9 o’clock this morning to consider proper action in the matter. The remains were embalmed and this afternoon they will be removed to the mortuary chapel of Trinity Church, where they will be guarded by a detail of United States soldiers.

At the Deathbed.

The Scenes in the Chamber of the Dying Monarch.

It was a pitiful and most impressive scene. The dying monarch lay gasping upon his bed, his emaciated body heaving convulsively with each of his labored respirations. At the bedside stood two ministers of the Gospel, physicians of the body had given way when they had come to the sad conclusion that Kalakaua was beyond mortal aid. Seated at the head of the bed, clasping the left hand of his King was Col. Baker, Kalakaua’s Aid-de-camp, whose strong frame was bent with sorrow, and who with great difficulty kept back the flood of tears which trembled in his eyes. Bending over from the right side was Col. Macfarlane, Chamberlain of the King. The suspense of the last few days had almost prostrated him, and his face bore traces of weeping. Crouched upon the floor against the wall near the bedside were the King’s valet Kahikina, an Hawaiian youth, and Kalua, a young girl from the Gilbert islands, who had been a most devoted servant to Kalakaua. They formed part of his suite on his arrival here.

Only a light coverlet of rich brown design covered the body of the King. In his struggles to throw off the firm reaper who was gradually pressing more heavily upon him, Kalakaua had thrust his arms out upon the bed. During the forenoon his faithful servant Kalua, in an endeavor to make the King as comfortable as possible, had placed beneath his chin a wide soft scarf of blue silk. There it remained until the death, seeming as it rose and fell upon the bright red undershirt to be symbolical of the wavering between this and the great beyond of the spirit of the stricken King.

Kalakaua was possessed of great vitality, and to the last he resisted the destroyer with a persistence which excited the wonder of the medical men, who knew that the King’s time had come. Though for three days past he had been unconscious and life had apparently been kept in him merely by the stimulants applied internally through natural channels or hypodermically, his constitution seemed determined to keep the spirit with the trembling body. Even after the physicians had relinquished all hope and, knowing that he must die, had ceased to apply stimulants, he continued to struggle on.

During the morning Drs. Woods, Watts, Sanger and Taylor were in attendance.

They consulted and announced that in their opinion the King would not live more than a few hours. He had then been unconscious for nearly forty hours, with the exception of one brief moment in the early morning, when he recognized Admiral Brown and spoke to Colonel Baker saying:

“Well, I am a very sick man.”

Those were his last intelligible words, for though he afterward murmured, as his strength failed him and he advanced deeper into the valley of the shadow, his words were only the bablings of delirium. As he sank lower and lower, it could be induced from the words that fell from his quivering lips that his closing mind was set upon the scenes of years ago, before he had attained the crown and was simply David Kalakaua. he spoke in his native tongue and again wondered upon the beach of Hawaii and gazed out upon the broad Pacific. All royalty and pomp were forgotten in the mind of the dying King, who seemed as he died to be in a swoon.

He seemed to have no pain, but the heavings of his chest, the glazing of the eyes and the death damp upon the forehead foretold a near dissolution.

At 12:30 o’clock the watchers saw Kalakaua suddenly open wide his half-closed eyes, close his gaping mouth, and a gleam of intelligence seemed for a moment, as if like a passing ray of sunshine, to light up his face. Those at the bedside leaned forward in intense suspense, for they thought he monarch was about to speak. In a moment, however, again the eyes took on their lack luster appearance, the jaw drooped and the shadow again spread over the face. It was a last effort of nature to assert itself intelligibly, but the strength of Azrael had been too great. It was soon perceptible that the King was rapidly sinking.

Shortly after 1 o’clock Dr. Woods announced that all further efforts would be in vain.

“We now only await his death,” he said. “He cannot live over half an hour, and I doubt if he survives that time.”

It now became very apparent that Kalakaua was rapidly sinking. His respiration became more rapid and more labored, and his breast heaved as if it would burst in his efforts to gain air and live. Slowly froth began to appear upon his lips. It was wiped away by Colonel Macfarlane or Colonel Baker, who were continuously at their monarch’s side, and who took only those minutes from service upon him to wipe away the tears that they could no longer restrain.

In the room were several ladies, on the faces of all of whom were traces of weeping. Among them were Mrs. McKinley, Mrs. J. Sanders Reed and Mrs. Price. There were also present Admiral Brown, Consul McKinley, Charles R. Bishop of Honolulu, Harry Turton, ex-State Senator Whitney of Alameda, and old friend of the King; Rev. J. Sanders Reed and Rev. F. H. Church, both of Trinity Church.

Kneeling at the bedside, Rev. J. Sanders Reed recited the twenty third psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” It was heard amid tears. A few minutes later Colonel Macfarlane bent over the King, and, looking into his eyes, said: “Do you know me?”

There was no sign of recognition in response, although it seemed for a moment as though the King’s eyelids quivered as if he wished to show his recognition of his chamberlain.

At 1:34 o’clock Rev. Sanders Reed said: “Shall we kneel and have the commedatory prayer?” In assent every person in the room knelt while the clergyman offered up a prayer.

The minister then continued to read prayers and recite hymns, among the latter being “Rock of Ages,” “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” and “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds to a believer’s Ears.”

In an interval between the prayers Colonel Baker, who for hours had been clasping the King’s hands, spoke to the monarch in Hawaiian, but there was no response. The King was past all hopes, consciousness had fled, and in fact it might almost have been said that already he was dead. It was only the efforts of his lungs to get air that moved his frame and gave the semblance of life. Dr. Wood stood at the bedside and watched his patient. A large number of people called among whom were General W. H. Dimond and Colonel Edwards. At 2:00 o’clock masses of froth fell from the King’s lips. It was wiped away by Colonels Baker and Macfarlane. That death was now only a few moments off was very apparent. Rev. Dr. Reed again read a Psalm, and his assistant, Rev. Dr. Church sang Nowman’s hymn “Abide With Me.”

A few moments later Dr. Reed kneeled at the bedside and began to pray, his petition being joined in by all present.

“Oh, Lord! Oh, Jesus Christ!” said the clergyman, “we pray you to look upon this, thy servant, whose spirit is about to appear before thee and we ask for him thy blessing. Oh, Jesus, as thou hast led him on through life, take him, we pray thee to thy bosom now. We commend his spirit to thy trust. Grant him oh—

The prayer suddenly ceased for a moment; the people rose; the King had ceased to breathe. It seemed that he was dead. For half a minute his body was motionless and not a sound escaped it, and then, with a sigh that seemed to partake both of a sob and a groan, his labored respiration continued.

“Grant him, oh Lord, eternal life Lord Jesus, grant him thy eternal spirit. Grant him a moment of conscious faith that he may have the consolation and they mercy. Oh Lord, come into his heart and—”

Again the breath had left the dying monarch. As before, he was to all appearances dead, but again the last few sparks of life within the body asserted themselves, and again, with a sob, the air rushed into his lungs.

“—cleanse his soul. Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, be with him yet in the body, so that he may be present faultless before the Holy of Holies with every joy. Grant him, oh Lord, eternal rest.

Once again the respiration of the King ceased. Now his eyes turned upward to the heaven to which the petition in his behalf was so devoutly addressed. The spectators stood breathless. It was a moment of intense suspense. Half a minute passed; no one moved; a minute, and a sign went  round the room, Kalakaua was dead. It was 2:33 o’clock.

“Oh, Christ hear us,” continued the minister. “Oh, Lord have mercy upon us, and thou who takest away the sins of the world, look down upon us, and hear our prayers, that he who has passed away shall sit with the Father who is everlasting. Such is our prayer.”


The New Queen.

By the death of the King the Princess Liliuokalani, who was proclaimed regent in December last, when the King left for the trip to America, becomes the Queen of Hawaii.

The new Queen is a worshiper at the native Congregational Church, known as the Kaumakapili Church, to which she has been a liberal contributor. She is a firm advocate of the missionary policy as promulgated and exercised by that religious element.

The Political Outlook.

Local Authorities Think no Complications Will Arise.

With a view to ascertain the possibility of any complication arising in the Government of the islands a Chronicle reporter saw the Hon. C. R. Bishop, the banker of Honolulu, who married the Princess Bernice the last of the Kamehamehas. He said:

“Knowing the politics of the islands as I do and from my intimate acquaintance with the royal family I can state without hesitation that the King’s death will in no way disturb the present Government. The regent Queen Liliuokalani, comes to the throne in the succession as proclaimed in July, 1887, and also by the late proclamation in December last when he left Honolulu.

There will not even be a change of Ministry, unless from the resignation or death from some member of the Cabinet. The recent Legislature before it adjourned expressed confidence in the Cabinet, and as a new Legislature will not meet until May 1892, the Ministry, unless from causes I mentioned, will continue in office. The only ceremony that will take place is their putting a resignation pro forma in the Queen’s hands, and after taking the oath of allegiance they will be reappointed. The reigning sovereign of Hawaii has no power to dismiss the Cabinet from office without the approval of the Legislature. Liliuokalani is by no means inimical to foreigners, and as her husband, John O. Dominis, is an American born, he necessarily exercises influence over her. Besides, she is too shrewd to antagonize the foreign element, and the entire programme of government as conducted by the late King she will, I am sure, carry out entirely. Of course, the Queen is at liberty to choose her personal staff, but I expect that Colonel George W. Macfarlane will continue in his position as chamberlain.”

Several prominent merchants in the island trade were also seen, and they entirely agree with Mr. Bishop’s views.

The late King assigned his revenues from the Crown lands for the benefit of his creditors two years ago. These appanages to the throne will not pass to the present occupant, as they are legally pledged for his debts, and parts have from time to time been sold for the benefit of his creditors. It is possible the next Hawaiian Legislature will appropriate sufficient funds to liquidate any balance that may be due to the creditors.

S. F. Chronicle.

[The comment given by C. R. Bishop is interesting.]

(Nupepa Elele, 1/31/1891, p. 2)


Ka Nupepa Elele, Buke XII, Helu 25, Aoao 2. Ianuari 31, 1891.

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