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. Continue reading

More on the “King of the Cannibal Islands,” 1873.

Hoky Poky Wanky Fong.

Minister De Long in Japan has gone back on us. He washes his hands of the isles, and says no more Sandwich for him, as it is too strongly peppered with coolieism to suit his moral stomach. He is the blarneying ambassadorial Barnum, who tried to make a puff and pelf by showing around Mori and the princly Japs; but those chaps, and Mori said no more, do we belong to De Long, and told him to get along. And now this rough in Eastern diplomacy, this bull in a China shop, has to return to his old pastures and stamping grounds; and so, like a retiring politician in our latitudes, he wants to go home with a good record, by throwing overboard heathen Hawaiian. This made our Bohemian sing in this wise:

Oh, have you heard the news of late?
About a canting diplomate,
Who says no Coolies shall be ate
By the King of the Cannibal islands.

Hoky, poky, wanky, fong,
What a canting guy this old De Long
Who swears that he can never get along
With the King of the cannibal islands.

He’s got in the East a tawney slut
And one in the West of a double smut
But with a wahine he never will put
Up in the Cannibal islands.

Hoky, poky, wanky, fong,
Chink is the thing will shove him along
And make this canting guy go strong
For the King of the Cannibal islands.

(Nuhou, 4/15/1873, p. 3)

Hoky Poky Wanky Fong.

Nuhou, Volume I, Number 15, Aoao 3. Aperila 15, 1873.

“Queen of the Cannibal Islands,” 1894.

A Tale for the Nursery.

Beyond the green Pacific shore,
Westward, 2,000 miles, or more,
Dwelt a lady-monarch, with griefs galore—
The queen of the Cannibal Islands.

Some people describe her as “fair,” and yet,
It must be admitted, with much regret,
She’s unmistakably a brunette,
This queen of the Cannibal Islands.

Her lot was pleasant, they say, until
Her subjects kicked ‘gainst the royal will,
And smashed the throne and christened her “Lil,”
Ex-queen of the Cannibal Islands. Continue reading

“King of the Cannibal Islands,” 1830 / 1872.

By 1830 at least, there was a mocking ballad called “King of the Cannibal Islands” that was popular in the United Kingdom (as seen in newspaper advertisements for various concerts). Click here for lyrics printed on a broadside in 1858. By many accounts this was written in response to Kamehameha II going to England in 1824.

As a result of another famous trip taken by a Hawaiian monarch in 1874, the lyrics are adapted in America (the original song popular there much earlier).


[From the N. Y. Graphic.]

Tam? Tam! Kalakaua the great
Is booming through the Golden Gate;
The Polynesian potentate,
The King of the Cannibal Islands.

Ministers all upon a bum;
Honolulu! How they come
With the King of the Cannibal Islands.

From sugar-coated Hawaii
He comes strange countries for to see;
And ‘Frisco greets him: “How are ye?
O King of the Cannibal Islands.
Hunki-dori, etc. Continue reading