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The Pacific commercial advertiser. [volume] (Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands) 1856-1888, August 19, 1884, WEEKLY EDITION, Image 8

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015418/1884-08-19/ed-1/seq-8/

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"I found Kamehameha V at the
Palace, I had not seen the new sov
ereign for several years, our last con
versation was in 1857, when as pleni
potentiary of the Hawaiian Govern
ment he discussed with my chief and
myself the clauses of the French
treaty. He received me with great
cordiality, and then made -eference
to our former intercourse, of whicli he
had been good enough to retain a
kindly recollection. He thanked me
for accepting office. I replied that if
his offer had been a surprise to me, it
would surprise still more the Ameri
, can partj', which had connted on com
ing into power. On this point he
was desirous of not permitting any
doubt. 'I reckon Americans anions:
my friends,' he said, 1 but from that
to delivering up the Kingdom to them
there is a long distance. As Prince I
had only my personal tastes to con
suit, as King I want councillors capa
ble, intelligent, and above all, deter
mined, for I meditate important
1 He then asked me what I thought
of my colleagues. I told him all my
mind, adding that I saw great diffi
culties in the way of replacing Mr.
Robertson on the bench. He told me
the Cabinet and Mr. Robertson him
self would be consulted on this point.
On the subject of finances, that be
ing my special charge, he questioned
me and approved of my plans, which
I could only briefly indicate. He had
himself exercised, during the best part
of a year, the functions of Minister of
Finance ad interim under the reign
of his brother, and lie promptly recog
nized the object of the reforms which
I submitted to him.
"Passing then to questions of gen
eral politics, he spoke to me of the
approaching convocation of the cham
bers and of the method of electing
Representatives. On this point I
neither could nor would hide my con
victions. Opposed by conviction to
universal suffrage without any re
striction, I spoke with the greatest
freedom on the danger of the ballot
put into the hands of the masses, with
out condition as to education or inde
pendence. . The King listened to me
with much attention and said: You
raise now a question which has occu
pied my mind for a long time. I
consider the present Constitution to
be in advance by many years of the
traditions and the needs of our popu
lation. "We are but just emerged
from a feudal regime, and already
American influence is pushing us to
wards a republic. We have gone
ahead too quickly, and, a liberal'
though. I be, I have not yet made up
my mind to take the oath to the Con
stitution. We will speak of this here
afterwe understand ono another,
and from that I augur well for the
future.1 I retired. Our interview had
lasted nearly two hours. My visit to
the Palace had not awakened any
suspicion. I went home satisfied with
what I had seen and heard, and ready
to join my efforts to those of a sover
eign on whom I felt that I could rely.
From that day dates a friendship
which has ever sustained me in all
my labors, which absence and dis
tance have not weakened, and the
recollection of which will never be
effaced from my memory."
"The following day we met together
at the Palace. Mr. Chas. G. Hopkins,
to whom I was called upon to succeed
as Minister of Finance, was present.
A personal friend of the late King,
he was equally intimate with Kame
hameha V, who, whilst appreciating
his devotedness, held his administra
tive abilities in but moderate esteem,
and withdrew from him his porfolio
in order to give him the position of
his own general secretary. It was
always intended that Mr. Hopkins
should continue to direct the Finance
Department until the receipt of the
dispatches I awaited from Paris
authorizing me to accept officially
the new functions which had been
offered to me. It was at once ar
ranged that to insure the secrecy of
the deliberations of Ministers one of
the Ministers should be sole custo
dian of the archives of the Cabinet,
which he should convene under the
orders of the Sovereign. I was
selected. In the case of the absence
of the King, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs was to preside at Cabinet
meetings. Then we occupied our
selves in selecting persons for the .
principal offices. Mr. W. F. Allen
was called to the office of Collector
General of Customs, a post which he
still occupies, and in which he has
rendered and still continues to render
eminent service. Mr. Wyllie then
proposed the organization of a
Special Board of Public Works, in
tended to elaborate, under the direc
tion of the Minister of the Interior,
the necessary plans for the construc
tion of a network of roads and for the
principal works of public utility.
This measure was postponed. Fi
nally the Board of Heath was reor
ganized, and questions of general
politics, of which the approaching
convocation of the Assembly ren
dered the consideration urgent, were
made the order of the day for the
next meeting,
"It was December, and in con
formity with the Constitution the
elections for the Chamber of Repre
sentatives ought to take place at the
beginning of January, the session
opening in April. It is true that the
King had not yet taken the oath to
the Constitution; but we knew the
repugnance he felt to taking the ath
and the ardent desire with which he
was inspired to see some of it3 clauses
modified, those amongst others
which we had discussed together,
which embodied the principle of uni
versal suffrage without any restric
tion, and so placed the legislative
power wholly in the hands of the
"Without having arrived at the de
gree of development which they after
wards attained, the sugar plantations
tended each day to become more and
more important and to multiply
themselves all over the islands. Past
experience and my personal study
had fully convinced me that we
ought to use all our efforts to encour
age this tendency to agriculture, and
discourage the natives from the
whale fishery, which levied a dis
astrous contribution from the flower
of our population. Each year sev
eral hundred vessels, almost all
(American, came to refit in our ports,
to re-victual, and above all, to make
up their crews, which they did by en
rolling many thousands of strong
and active natives who were led
away by the chances of the "lay'7
given in this service, in which the
sailor is paid by a share in the cap
tures, seduced also by the advances
which the captains paid them, and
which they spent before sailing with
all the carelessness of their age and
"In this there was a serious peril
for the future. Few Kanakas could
stand the excessive cold of the icy
seas; born in the tropics, they died in
those murderous latitudes. Others
returned sick, wTorn out; those who
survived contracted the love of dis
tant adventures, and persevered in a
career which presented no future for
them. It was a conscription for the
benefit of the foreigners. The popu
lation diminished in an alarming
manner. The native women, aban
doned by their husbands, sought in
incontinence the means of support,
which the absence of their natural
protectors deprived them of. During
several years I had made known to the
French Government, by dispatches,
and to the local government by arti
cles in the Honolulu journals, the
dangers of this condition of affairs;
everybody recognized them, but they
feared that in modifying the laws
they would, on the one hand, offend
the Government of the United States;
and "on the other, drive away the
whaling fleet, the visits of which
were a source of considerable profit.
People asked who would buy our pro
ducts, the day that the whalers went
away to seek elsewhere, and especial
ly at San Francisco, other ports for
"It was therefore necessary to has
ten and encourage this new industry
which attached the native to the soil
to which he gave value, and which
would, as the future has proved,
emancipate the islands from the
periodical visits of the whaling fleet.
Moreover, the planters encountered
from the outset, obstacles due to
causes which I will proceed to point
out. Hands threatened to be want
ing. They might, with those at their
disposal, get along for some time; but
the day was not far off when it would
be necessary to seek tire help of
Coolies from China or Japan. Now,
slavery did not exist on the islands;
this odious plague was there un
known; every slave beeama free on
j touching Hawaiian soil; the laws of
on his simple declaration, and after
one year's residence, to exercise the
rights of it citizen. In the not distant
future, the planters would be able to
muster thousands of electors entirely
under their influence, and inaugurate
under the cover of universal suffrage,
the reign of an oligarchy of foreign
ers, for nearly all the plantations be
longed to foreigners. They alone
possessed the capital and the exper
ience necessary for this class of enter
"A new electoral law was therefore
urgent, but the Constitution tied our
hands; and if in many points its
ultra-republican form wounded the
ideas of the King, on this point it
certainly created a danger which
Kamehameha V. wished to do away
with. But if we were in accord with
my colleagues as to our aims, it was
by no means so as to the means of
securing them. The constitution
offered us but one method of amend
ment, borrowed from the United
States. Article 80, in fact, stipulated
that to have the force of law, any
change must be submitted to the
House of Representatives, be passed
there by a majority of votes, be ap
proved by the Upper House and by
the King; then, after a delay of two
years, be anew submitted to a new
Assembly, and there secure two-
thirds of the votes. The method was
slow; success more than doubtful, and
in the meantime the King stood out
against taking the oath.
"The public was still in ignorance,
both as to the choice of the King, and
as to the scruples of his. conscience.
At length, on the 17th of December,
the list of the new ministry appeared
in the official journal. The surprise
was general; the American party con
sidered itself played with, and con
centrated all its anger, and all its in
dignation upon me. That a French
man should be called to a seat in the
Cabinet, that his acceptance of office
should be subordinated to the author
ization of the French Government,
that in his quality as Minister of Fi
nance should be charged with the
preparation and defense of the budget,
here were enough of natural causes of
annoyance, well calculated to exas
perate the men who had believed
themselves sure to seize again upon
power, and regarded Mr. Wyllie as an
enemy maintained in office, and I as
an enemy newly called to it.
"Notwithstanding their violence,
the attacks to which I was subjected
did not astonish me in the least. I
had expected them. I had even ex
pectad to find them more implacable,
and I did not foresee the change in
my favor which circumstances, much
more than any merit of mine, would
work within less than a year. I had
in no way hidden, on many occasions,
the inquietude with which the
acquisitiveness and. ambition of the
United States inspired me. A parti
san from conviction of the necessity
of rallying against them and bring
ing into line all the European inter
ests in the Islands, in order by the
combination, to secure a force capa
ble of resistance, I had cultivated
with Mr. Synge, then Consul-Gen-eral
for England, an intimacy which
rested upon a jierfect harmony of
views. I had foimd in him during
my incumbency of office an intelli
gent colleague and a sincere' friend;
idem velle atque idem nolle, ca finna
amicitia est, (to wish for the same
things and to object to the same
things, that is close friendship.) We
desired the same thing, we had the
same enemies. For my rpart, I have
always liked clear and unmistake-
able situations. If, sometimes, they
have the inconvenience of accumu
lating obstacles on your road, they
have, nevertheless, the advantage of
preventing all misunderstandings,
enabling you to count your enemies
and your friends; they render more
effort necessary, but they assure suc
cess, they consolidate it. If the
struggle be harder, the victory, if
victory come, is more complete, and
the result of to-dav is not put m
doubt by a battle in prospect for to
morrow. "I therefore let the storm rage
without disquieting myself. News
paper articles did not frighten me
much, habituated to the ordinary-
style of a press enjoying unlimited
liberty, 1 knew, by experience that
tne violence of the attack was always
in the inverse ratio to its duration.
I did not answer a word; I had some
thing better to do. ?.
"My colleagues were not by any
means so badly treated. Mr. Wyllie
was subjected to some pretty strong
attacks. Messrs. Harris and Robert
son received only merited compli
"We had reached the close of De
cember, the elections were fixed for
the 2nd of January. The Opposition
set to work energetically. The order
of the day with them was, if not to
upset the Ministry, at least, to
eliminate from it Mr. Wyllie and
myself. In the iguorance in which
they were of the programme of the
Cabinet, they had not yet, properly
speaking, any question at all for or
against which they could rally, but
they instinctively divined such a
question in the delay, on the King's
part, to take the usual oath to the
Constitution, therefore the Opposi
tion gave themselves up to .securing
the election of their most ardent rep
sentatives,and to drag in at all points
the religious question, and make sure
of the assistance oi the American
missionaries. They succeeded in this
to a certain extent. Beaten in the
capital, they took their revenge in
the more distant districts, where the
Protestant mission had the most ad
herents, and they succeeded in get
ting in a considerable number of their
candidates. Absorbed in other cares,
the Government abstained from in
terfering in the elections. In doing
so they did but conform to the spirit
of the local institutions. Official can
didates, or candidature avowedly
favored by the Government, is un
known in the Hawaiian Islands; the
action of the Government is re
strained within the narrowest limits,
and the administration does not care
to interfere in the contest. The same
as in the United States, the elector
there is exceedingly jealous of his
rights. He submits voluntarily to
the yoke of his party; he often
enough has to vote for candidates
whom he does not even know,but the
least attempt of the Government to
enlighten him or influence him
would be looked upon as an unjusti
fiable interference.
"Charged with the administration
of the laws, the Government is called
upon to render account of its manage
ment to the elected deputies. To at
tempt to interfo,? in the selection of
those who are called upon to control
its acts is deemed a ridiculous ano
maly and would have for an infalli
ble result an assurance of defeat for
its candidates and the election of its
adversaries. The parties charge
themselves with this care, the strug
gle is between them, and the part
the administration plays is to see
that everything is done in good faith.
At the first glance it will seem to a
Frenchman in these days very diffi
cult to govern in that way, in reality
it seems to me very difficult to
govern in any other way, and the ex
perience of late years has shown that
from whatever point of view you
look at it, or under whatever name it
may be disguised, official candidature
'has been a burden havnnrl tli
strength of every Government that
has made it a success; that it has not
saved one of them, and that their
fall has never been more near at hand
than when the o'fficial cn.Hriiria.tPH
were victorious all along the line.
"In the Hawaiian Islands, as in all
sparsely-peopled countries where agri
cultural interests predominate, purely
local questions chiefly influence the
electors. The construction of a road
or a bridge, legislative measures
favorable to the products of the soil,
the amelioration of means of trans
port, the reduction of Customs duties,
are the subjects which constantly
occupy their minds. Assured of need
ful liberties, such as the right of
meeting uncontrolled, absolute libertv
of the press and liberty of conscience,
they debate and discuss their wants in
public meetings and through the press
and their choice of representatives
varies according to the needs of the
"As I have already stated, the great
question of the day was that of re
forms in the Constitution. This Con
stitution dated from the year 1852.
It was a charter granted to his people
by Kamehameha III., by the advice
of and under pressure from the Ameri
can missionaries, then all-powerful.
The King, my colleagues, and myself
were in accord on the point that it
was indispensable to introduce into it
certain modifications, notably In re
gard to the right of suffrage,
"The danger daily increased, a re-
form was urgent. There had been sug
gested as a remedy for this state of
things, the modification of the law of
naturalization, so as nt to accord
political rights until after a certain
number of years of residence, but that
was but to change the difficulty, to
postpone it; the King never disguised
to himself the fact that the monarchic
system and universal suffrage were
fundamentally incompatible, and that
the last word, and the ultimate con
sequence of the right of suffrage ex
tended to all is a republic. Rom in
the United States, thoroughly Ameri
can at heart, Mr. Harris was a repub
lican ; but he was too intelligent not
to comprehend that that form of gov
ernment would be Injurious to a
people yet imbued with f eudal ideas
and traditions, and scarcely ripo for
political life. As one on this point,
we were eqally in accord as to some
other modication which, though cer
tainly of minor importance, were
sure to raise lively discussions. We
did not permit ourselves any illusions
as to the troublesome and dangerous
task we were undertaking.
" To add to the difficulties insepar
able to the beginning of a new reign,
and to a radical change in the ad
ministration, the proposal of a revision
of the Constitution, the cherished
work of the American party, was to
throw in the face of that party,
already profoundly irritated to see
itself excluded from power at the
very moment when it believed itself
sure of triumph, a deflance which it
would violently resent. On the other
hand, in doing this, wo should have
the advantage of a clearly-deiflned
position, we could freely state what
wre wished for, and whither we were
going, and since the battlo was in
evitable, we chose our own ground.
This work of revision, carried on
along with the conduct of current
affairs, took us a long time. Cabinet
Councils succeeded one another with
out intermission. It was necessary
for us to come to complete agreement
as to all the modifications which we
wished to introduce into the Consti
tution of 1852 in order that we might
submit to the discussion and criticism
of our adversaries a work complete
in itself, and carefully studied.
"It was equally necessary to pro
vide for filling up the vacant offices.
The most important was undoubtedly
that of Kuhina Nuit or viceroy. Tho
origin of this title goes back to the
regency of Kaahumanu, when Ka
mehameha I., at the point of death,
declared that tho kingdom was for
Idholiho, and the regency for Kaahu
manu. Revered on account of the
local tradition, the functions of the
Kuhina Niii become purely honorary
did but constitute a wheel in the
governmental machinery, which wa
useless, and might become dangerous.
To prevent any conflict of authority,
this office had always been conferred
upon the nearest relatives of the
King. During the reign of Kameha
meha IV. his sister, the Princess Vic
toria, had held it. Kamehameha V.
gave it to hi3 father. It was quite
understood that in the new Constitu
tion this office a,s bizarre, as its
functions were" ill-defined, should be
abolished. The title of Kuhina Nut
gave to Kekuanaoa a seat and a vote
in the Ministerial Council. His in
contestable influence with the na
tives, who held him in reverence,
partly by his rank as a great chief,
partly by his well-known loyalty and
courage, his experience in affairs, his
diplomatic finesse, and his profound
devotion to his son, made him a val
uable auxiliary. In all circumstances
I have found in him a devoted and
sincere friend, and his confidence
never failed me.
The author hero gives a short ac
count of the funeral of Kamehameha
IV, which we omit?
"If two months of constant work
and of daily intercouse had enabled
Ministers to ascertain for themselves
the difficulties of their task, and to
bring their programme into shape,
those, two months had equally brought
to light the points on which they
agreed, and those as to which it was
necessary to make mutual conci
sions. In a cabinet composed of dif
ferent nationalities, agreement could
not be complete. In fa.ct, on a number
of points, our ideas, our opinions
were not exclusively our own, they
were those of the surroundings,
amidst which wo were born, amidst
which we had lived, tempered by the
lessons of experience and by observa
tion. My colleagues and mysejlf

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