On the first horses in Hawaii nei, 1852.

Who Brought the First Horses to the Islands?—In a valuable document presented by Stephen Reynolds, Esq., to the R. H. A. Society at its first meeting in 1850, the following passage occurs:—Horses.—I have not been able to find the name of him who introduced the first. It appears two were brought and presented to Kamehameha; the natives say Mr. Manine was in the vessel. Several were brought before 1823. From 1824 to 1838 many cargoes were brought from California. The horses born and reared on the islands are superior in all respects to those imported from California,—better limbs, better spirits, and tougher animals.”

In recently perusing a volume entitled, “A narrative of voyages and commercial enterprises, by Richard J. Cleveland,” of Salem, Mass., we find the following passages, which determine the question at the head of this article. The horses left by him are doubtless those alluded to by Mr. Reynolds, as that information corresponds precisely with the statement of Capt. Cleveland.

The vessels in which the voyage was performed when the horses were left, was the American brig Lelia Byrd, of Portsmouth, Virginia, and bound from Hamburgh to the west coast of South America and China. She sailed from Cuxhaven on the 8th of Nov., 1801, and after visiting the South American posts and San Blas, touched at the island of Guadaloupe, off the coast of Lower California on the 4th of April, 1803. This island is in lat. 28° North, and here the brig touched for water. The narrative says, “Our visit had been protracted much beyond our intention, by the persuasion of the padre, and the promise of two horses, which we had unsuccessfully endeavored to procure at the other missions, as a present to the King of the Sandwich Islands. These arrived at the encampment on the 19th, a male and female, and were presented to us by the padre. In return for these, a flagon of wine and some dried fruits, we gave him such manufactures as he desired, to more than their value. The next day we took the horses on board, and made preparation for our departure.”

Leaving Guadaloupe on the morning of the 21st, the Lelia Byrd returned again to the coast for a supply of water and provisions which she had failed to procure at the island, and on the 26th came to anchor in the bay of St. Joseph, at the southern extremity of the peninsula, and near the mission of that name. “The padres had no scruple in supplying us with such provisions, vegetables and fruits as the place afforded, and were equally ready to trade with us to the extent of their means, which were rather limited. In addition to a supply of stores, we purchased of them pearls to the amount of two thousand dollars, and also a mare with foal. Having with much difficulty taken the latter on board, on the 28th of May we sailed immediately for the Sandwich Islands.”

On the 19th of June the island of Hawaii was seen, and on the 21st anchored in Kealakekua bay. The narrative continues, “We left Kealakekua bay on the 23rd, and the next morning anchored in Kawaihae bay, for the purpose of landing the mare with foal, for Mr. Young was very urgent; professing to have a knowledge of the treatment of horses, and promising to take all possible care of the animal. In the expectation that the chance of their increase would be better secured, by placing the horses in the care of different persons, we acceded to his request, and landed the mare in safety near his place. This was the first horse that ever trod the soil of Hawaii, and caused, among the natives, incessant exclamations of astonishment. Leaving this bay the same evening, we steered for Maui; off which island we lay becalmed a part of the next day. When the breeze sprang up, though at a long distance from the village of Lahaina, we were boarded by Isaac Davis, the European who, with John Young, was captured many years since, in Capt. Metcalf’s vessel. Soon after a double canoe was seen coming toward us; and on arrival alongside, a large athletic man, nearly naked, jumped on board, who was introduced by Davis, as Kamehameha the great King.

“Desirous of conciliating the good opinion of a person whose power was so great, we omitted no attention which we supposed would be agreeable to him. But whether he had left some duty unperformed on shore, or whether he had not met with something to disturb his serenity of mind, we know not; certain it was he did not reciprocate our civilities. He appeared to be absent; and, after walking round the deck of the vessel, and talking only a very careless look at the horses, he got into his canoe and went on shore. Davis remained on board all night, to pilot us to the best anchorage, which we gained early the following morning, and, soon after, had our decks crowded with visitors to see the horses. The people showed none of that indifference on seeing them, which had been manifested by the King, and which I believe to have been affectation, but on the contrary expressed such wonder and admiration, as were very natural on beholding, for the first time, this noble animal. The horses were landed safely, and in perfect health, the same day, and gave evidence, by their gambols, of their satisfaction at being again on terra firma. They were then presented to the Kind, who was told, that one had been also left at Hawaii for him. He expressed his thanks, but did not seem to comprehend their value.

“While the crowd were apparently wondering what use they could be put to, a sailor from our ship jumped upon the back of one and galloped off amid the shouts of the natives, who with alacrity opened the way to let him pass. There existed strong apprehensions in the minds of all for the safety of the man; but when, by going back and forth, they perceived the docility of the animals, his subjection and his fleetness, they seemed to form some little conception of his utility. The King was among the number, who witnessed the temerity of the sailor; but with all his sagacity, for which he has been justly praised, remarked, that he could not perceive that the ability to transport a person from one place to another, in less time than he could run, would be adequate compensation for the food he would consume and care he would require. As a dray or a dragoon’s horse; there was no prospect of his being wanted and hence our present was not very highly appreciated. In this we were much disappointed, but hoped, nevertheless, that the King would be influenced by our advice, to have them well taken care of; that they would increase, and eventually that their value would be justly estimated.”

We thus learn that the first horse landed on these islands, was at Kawaihae, on the 24th of June, 1803, and procured from the mission of St. Joseph, Lower California. Also, that the first landed on Maui, were put on shore on the 26th of June, 1803, by Capt. Richard J. Cleveland, of the American brig Lelia Byrd.

We see no allusion in Capt. C.’s narrative, to Mr. Manine, as suggested to Mr. Reynolds, and his having come in the same vessel with the first horses, may or may not be true. With Capt. C.’s usual particularity, however, we should presume such a fact would have been mentioned by him, had it occurred.

It was the intention of the Caroline, which recently sailed for Micronesia, to have taken horses, but the small size and crowded state of that vessel, prevented their being taken. But they will be introduced there by the next opportunity.

(Polynesian, 8/21/1852, p. 58)

[See how parts of this article was translated in Hawaiian and how other advice was added. Check out this weeks’s Bishop Museum’s He Aupuni Palapala blog page. Click here.]

The Polynesian, Volume 9, Number 16, Page 58. August 21, 1852.

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