Charles Mathews performs at the Royal Hawaiian Theatre, 1871.

[Found under: “NOTES OF THE WEEK.”]

Charles Mathews in the Cannibal Islands.—This celebrated Comedian, who gave us a taste of his powers last February, writes a characteristic letter, in which he gives his impressions of us. We copy:

Reached Honolulu the capital of the Island of Oahu, and the seat of the government of the Hawaiian group, on Saturday, the 19th; eighteen days, four thousand and thirteen miles and three quarters! (accuracy again—exact as an architect’s estimate £4,000 35s. 1–2d.). Head winds (of course) all the way; longest passage (of course) ever known, and certainly the weariest. Heavy rolling seas, not a sail, or fish sighted, the only excitement we had arisen from the odd novelty of two Thursdays coming together in one week, two 9ths of February, arm-in-arm. At Honolulu, one of the loveliest little spots upon earth, I acted one night “by command, and in the presence of His Majesty Kamehameha V, King of the Sandwich Islands” (not ‘Hoky Poky Wonky Fong’ as erroneously reported), and a memorable night it was. On my way to the quaint little Hawaiian Theatre, situated in a rural lane, in the midst of a pretty garden, glowing with gaudy tropical flowers, and shaded by cocoa trees, bananas, banyans, and tamarinds, I met the playbill of the evening. A perambulating Kanaka (or native black gentleman) walking between two boards (called in London figuratively a ‘sandwich man,’ but here, of course, literally so) carried aloft a large illuminated white paper lantern, with the announcement in the Kanaka language, to catch the attention of the colored inhabitants:—”Charles Mathews! Keaka, Keia, Po (Theatre open this evening). Ka uku o Ke Komo ana (Reserved seats, dress circle), 2 dols. 50 c.; Gohi mua (Parquette), 1 dol. 0c.; Noho hop (Kanaka pit), 75c. ‘I found the Theatre’ ‘to use the technical expression’ ‘crammed to suffocation,’ which merely means ‘very full,’ though, from the state of the thermometer on this occasion, ‘suffocation’ was not so incorrect a description as usual. A really elegant looking audience tickets, 10s. each, evening dresses, uniforms of every cut and country, ‘Chiefesses,’ and ladies of every tinge, in dresses of every color, flowers and jewels in profusion, satin play-bills, fans going, windows and doors all open, an outside staircase leading straight into the dress circle, without lobby, check-takers. Kanaka women in the garden below, selling bananas and pea-nusts, by the glare of flaring torches, on a sultry moonlight night. The whole thing was like nothing but a Mid-Summer Night’s dream. And it was nothing to see a pit full of Kanakeas, black, brown, and whitey brown, till lately cannibals, showing their white teeth, grinning at Patter vs. Clatter as much as a few years ago, they would have enjoyed the roasting of a missionary, or the baking of a baby. It was certainly a page in one’s life never to be forgotten.”

The former Honolulu denizen who kindly sends us the above from New York, points out the slight inconsistency in terming the passage from Auckland a long one,—4,000 miles in 18 days, 223 miles per day—and the passage from Honolulu to San Francisco a short one—2,000 miles in 10 days, 200 mile per day.

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 7/8/1871, p. 3)

Charles Mathews in the Cannibal Islands.

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume XVI, Number 2, Page 3. July 8, 1871.

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