Fragrance and Travel Literature-Hawaii



Hawaii; scenes and impressions (1916)
Gerould, Katharine Fullerton, 1879-1944



Wailuku stands to windward between
the West Maui range and the ocean; and
Wailuku is drenched in green and heav-
enly cool. The Trade blows eternally
through your rooms — a bland and tem-
pered blast. At your very door is the
entrance to the lao Valley, which unites
in a desperate and tantalizing perfection
all the essential beauties of all the valleys
you have seen or dreamed. The fantastic
peaks rise ever ahead of you as you wind
up the road beside the stream. As al-
ways in Hawaii, half the magic lies in the
gorges that open on either side — so near,
it seems, that you could stretch your
hand into them, yet inaccessible for all
that. They run back from the trail to a
precipice with a waterfall; and no human
being has ever climbed that cliff or knows
what lies just beyond. They are narrow
and dark with a perpetual green twilight;
and wandering perfumes invisibly gird them
in.

Life in Hawaii is lived un-
der the palm and the mango, the banyan
and the poinciana, the algaroba and the
monkey-pod. The great hibiscus hedges
are as high as, in England, the border of
ancestral yew; the night-blooming cereus
hangs in multitudinous clusters over your
garden-wall; the scent of ginger is heavy
round vour lanai; the orange and the hme
bloom in your compound, and the guava
runs wild by the wayside; your yard-boy
eats his dinner under a banana-tree. A
garden is old in ten years; in thirty it has
become a tropical forest, a gigantic and
fragrant gloom.

Scenes in Hawaii or Life in the Sandwich Islands (1888)
Grant, Mary Forsyth


His
Majesty welcomed us most kindly, and then we
were taken into a pretty drawing room and pre-
sented to Queen Kapiolani, a large, rather stout,
woman, with a fine mass of jet black hair, dressed
in a handsome dress of fawn coloured silk with a
long train. The Queen did not speak English at
all, but understood it fairly well, and, at all events
made up for that by her cheery smile of welcome,
shake of the hand, and most hearty " Aloha." She
held a number of leis of sweet smelling flowers in
her hand, which she presently gave to us, and we
were each finally decorated with these indispensable
additions to a native feast or party. The flowers
are nearly always pulled off the stalk close to the
head and strung together on some fine grass, the
long ends of which are left to tie the lei on ; if the
blossoms are small, several strings are put together,
thus, mine on that occasion was made of the unopen-
ed buds of the white jessmine and the six or eight
threads of the blossoms made up a lovely mass of
odorous ivory beads ; others were of the yellow
ginger, roses, marigolds, etc. The custom is a
graceful pretty one, and with the ladies' light
summer dresses they always looked well, but with
a gentleman's conventional attire of morning dress
they looked out of keeping, and those unfortunates
who disliked the strong perfume, generally con-
trived to get rid of the leis as soon as possible.


The Easter
flowers are in such profusion in Honolulu that there
is no lack of choice. One lady I heard saying, —
" I am afraid that I shall not have enough tuberoses
in the garden ; I must beg from my friends," — and
apparently she had begged to good effect, for on
Easter Even, going into her house, it seemed filled
with the perfume of the lovely flowers, and on my
asking where they were,' I was taken to see the
huge wooden bath, about eight feet in circumference,
simply filled with the sweet-scented things. There
was no other receptacle large enough to hold the
mass. The natives have their early service first,
and we did not go till the mid-day one. The font,
which was near the door, had its base wreathed in
green and white, and the cover, which was a very
high pointed one of wood, was literally covered
with nothing but stephanotis and violets, making
the most beautiful pyramid possible. The pulpit
had small tin cases fastened in two rows, painted
green, and thus concealing themselves behind and
among the banks of tuberoses, heliotrope and cloth
of gold and Marechal Niel roses. The altar was
apparently standing almost in a shrubbery of
flowers, and a very handsome cross of brass work
rose out of the sweet blossoms, adding much to the
•effect. The service is high in St. Andrew's, and
the gorgeous robes of the Bishop and his assistants
made a glowing picture in the rather dark interior
of the chancel. Just in front of where I was sitting
were the royal pews, and on the ledge were large
crimson velvet covered books, with the royal coat
of arms and motto emblazoned on them. The
royal family are regular in their attendance at the
two native churches, in both of which their Ma-
jesties take great interest — the king himself not dis-
daining to speak sometimes at meetings held in the
church.


The next day was Sunday, and a walk about
the town shewed it to be quite as pretty in the
interior as it appeared from the harbour. Nearly
all the streets were shaded by rows of trees on both
sides, and the houses, built in every form of archi-
tecture — brick, adobe, wooden and rough-cast, and
all with verandahs, — -were overgrown with Mexican
creepers, honeysuckles, and passion flowers in the
loveliest profusion. The hedges of scarlet ger-
anium and coleus were wonderful to look upon,
and the air was scented with heliotrope and roses
of every hue. There is so little change in the
seasons that many of these flower: bloom all the
year round.

The verandahs were soon covered with creepers ;
passion flowers of a deep purple colour grew in wild
luxuriance, as also honey suckle and begonia.vanus-
ta, the last a most gorgeous climber, bearing blos-
soms of a deep gold colour. A hedge of scented ge-
ranium ran up on each side of the pathway to the
gate ; double scarlet geraniums with enormous
blossoms, pink begonias, oleanders all nourished ;
a bed of variegated caladium marked a damp
corner ; shrubs of scarlet hibiscus, and clumps of
the Australian castor oil trees made bits of colour,
and handsome stalks of sunflowers stood up in
all their glory. Tuberoses grew beautifully, mari-
golds of every shade of yellow ; and balsams,
which were unwittingly planted, grew in such pro-
lific quantities that we had to have a periodical
rooting up ; also vincas ; some cocoa palms from
Tahiti, the nuts given to us by a friend, and a tiny
grove of orange trees soon promised well. A
large tree of mangoes gave delicious fruit, and a
huge grove of Oheas gave us the cool juicy moun-
tain apples.

Our
little Canadian-built phaeton, four-wheeled and
without a covered top, was always a source of
curiosity to the natives, and great was their astonish-
ment, as was that of our white friends, when we
afterwards made the tour of Kauai in it, up hill,
down almost precipices, along the rocky sea-shore.
120 miles in all — a most delightful experience
Kalihiwai, bathed in sunshine, was a lovely picture,
the mountains throwing their shadows of purple
and blue down the valley, and bringing out the
delicate tints of the rice patches grown by the China-
men, and finally ending in a glittering water-fall,
like a stream of silver, which came rushing down
the rocks at the extreme head of the valley, making
a vista for the eye to rest upon never to be forgot-
ten, the wonderful tints of green in the thick foliage
contrasting with a creeper of surpassing beauty,
which bore an enormous white bell-like flower, the
sweet heavy scent of which filled the air for some
distance

Riches and marvels of Hawaii-(1900)
Stevens, John Leavitt, 1820-1895; Oleson, William Brewster, 1851-1915; Stevens, Nellie M


THE FLOWER GIRLS. The flower-girls of Hono-
lulu are worthy of mention. They come early in the
morning to one of the thoroughfares, spread their mats on
the side-walk, and string their flowers into leis or wreaths
for sale to the passer-by. On steamer days the sale is
considerable, for one of the singular customs is to throw
leis around the necks of departing friends. Many of these
leis are beautiful, being made of plumeria blossoms, a
creamy white flower of delicious perfume. Great inge-
nuity is shown in the combinations of flowers and parts of
flowers in the manufacture of these wreaths. Occasion-
ally, to guy some young man, he is literally swathed in
leis, from his hat to his knees, and looks more like an
animated conservatory than a human being.

Writes Miss Sinclair : " For many years the iliahi or
sandal-wood tree was one of the principal sources of
revenue of the Hawaiian kings and chiefs. So vigorously
did they prosecute the business of cutting and exporting
it, that they exhausted the supply, and to-day it is a very
rare tree, although frequently found as a shrub. It retains
its scent in a wonderful manner, even small pieces being
quite fragrant after a lapse of forty or fifty years."


HONOLULU FROM THE SEA. As seen from the
top of Punch Bowl, Honolulu is charming in its beauty.
It is hardly less so as it appears from the deck of an in-
coming steamer. Snuggled at the foot of wondrously
picturesque hills, rising abruptly into a continuous range
of dark blue background, lapped by the waves of a per-
petual summer sea, the city, as seen from outside the reef,
is beautiful in itself and in its setting. Leahi, or Diamond
Head, seems like some mighty sphinx or lion couchant,
guarding in grim silence the leisurely approach to an
earthly paradise. The balmy air, and the dark-lying hills,
and the abundant vegetation, and the emerald green at
the harbor bar, and the softness and depth of the blue
skies, and the generous sunshine bathing all the land-
scape, greet the stranger with a tropic welcome. He
knows he is in the tropics at last, for the palms wave
over him, and the air is fragrant with magnolia and plu-
meria and stephanotis.

One custom that is novel is the love of the Hawaiian
for adornment. Above all things, a lei or wreath is valued
as a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Rarely will you
find a young Hawaiian, whether man or woman, who
does not have a hat adorned with a lei of bright scarlet or
yellow or white flowers, or one made with the ends of
peacock feathers, or of dainty sea-shells deftly strung
together, or of fragrant seeds.

At last Hilo, with its incomparably beautiful bay,
and its grand mountains, and its quiet, shaded streets,
and its seclusion from the noisy world, welcomes the tired
traveler to all the blessings of an earthly Paradise. After a
bath in one of those wonderful Hilo tubs, into which and
out of which the limpid streams are forever flowing, you
seat yourself on the veranda in a reclining chair where
the fragrant odors of roses and plumerias suffuse the air,
and listen to the tales of host and hostess about the
famous lava-flows and the earthquake experiences of a
generation.

The Hawaiian archipelago; six months amongst palm groves, coral reefs, and volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands (1906)
Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904


Without an exception the
men and women wore wreaths and garlands of flowers, carmine,
orange, or pure white, twined round their hats, and thrown
carelessly round their throats, flowers unknown to me, but
redolent of the tropics in fragrance and colour. Many of the
young beauties wore the gorgeous blossom of the red hibiscus
among their abundant, unconfmed, black hair, and many, be-
sides the garlands, wore festoons of a sweet-scented vine, or of
an exquisitely beautiful fern, knotted behind, and hanging half-
way down their dresses. These adornments of natural flowers
are most attractive.

We straggled into Hilo just at dusk, thoroughly wet, jaded,
and satisfied, but half-starved, for the rain had converted that
which should have been our lunch into a brownish pulp of
bread and newspaper, and we had subsisted only on some half-
ripe guavas. After the black desolation of Kilauea, I realized
more fully the beauty of Hilo, as it appeared in the gloaming.
The rain had ceased, cool breezes rustled through the palm-
groves and sighed through the funereal foliage of the pandanus.
Under thick canopies of the glossy breadfruit and banana,
groups of natives were twining garlands of roses and ohia
blossoms. The lights of happy foreign homes flashed from
under verandahs festooned with passion-flowers, and the low
chant, to me nearly intolerable, but which the natives love,
mingled with the ceaseless moaning of the surf and the sighing
of the breeze through the trees, and a heavy fragrance, unlike
the faint, sweet odours of the north, filled the evening air. It
was delicious.


The variety of costume was infinite. All the women wore
the native dress, the sack or holoku, many of which were black,
blue, green, or bright rose colour, some were bright yellow, a
few were pure white, and others were a mixture of orange and
scarlet. Some wore very pretty hats made from cane-tops, and
trimmed with hibiscus blossoms or passion-flowers ; others wore
bright-coloured handkerchiefs, knotted lightly round their flow-
ing hair, or wreaths of the Microlepia tenuifolia. Many had
tied bandanas in a graceful knot over the left shoulder. All
wore two, three, four, or even six beautiful leis, besides long
festoons of the fragrant maile. Leis of the crimson ohia
blossoms were universal ; but besides these there were let's of
small red and white double roses, pohas* yellow amaranth,
sugar cane tassels like frosted silver, the orange pandanus, the
delicious gardenia, and a very few of orange blossoms, and
the great granadilla or passion-flower. Few if any of the
women wore shoes, and none of the children had anything on
their heads.


The night was
very still, but the sea was moaning ; the river rippled very
gently as it brushed past the reeds ; there was a hardly per-
ceptible vibration in the atmosphere, which suggested falling
water and quivering leaves ; and the air was full of a heavy,
drowsy fragrance, the breath of orange flowers, perhaps, and
of the night-blowing Cereus, which had opened its ivory
urn to the moon.

The grass
houses of the natives cluster along the waters' edge, or in lanes
dark with mangoes and bananas, and fragrant with gardenia
fringing the cane-fields. These, with adobe houses and walls,
the flush of the soil, the gaudy dresses of the natives, the
masses of brilliant exotics, the intense blue of the sea, and the
dry blaze of the tropical heat, give a decided individuality to
the capital of Maui.

I have made the ascent of Hualalai twice from here, the first
time guided by my host and hostess, and the second rather
adventurously alone. Forests of koa, sandal-wood, and ohia,
with an undergrowth of raspberries and ferns, clothe its base,
the fragrant maiie, and the graceful sarsaparilla vine, with its
clustered coral-coloured buds, nearly smother many of the
trees, and in several places the heavy ie forms the semblance
of triumphal arches over the track. This forest terminates
abruptly on the great volcanic wilderness, with its starved
growth of unsightly scrub. But Hualalai, though 10,000 feet
in height, is covered with Pteris aquilina, mamane, coarse
bunch grass, and pukeave to its very summit, which is crowned
by a small, solitary, blossoming ohia.

Each house has a large
garden or " yard," with lawns of bright perennial green, and
banks of blazing, many-tinted flowers, and lines of Dracaena,
and other foliage plants, with their great purple or crimson
leaves, and clumps of marvellous lilies, gladiolas, ginger, and
many plants unknown to me. Fences and walls are altogether
buried by passion-flowers, the night-blowing Cereus, and the
tropaeolum, mixed with geraniums, fuchsia, and jessamine,
which cluster and entangle over them in indescribable pro-
fusion. A soft air moves through the upper branches, and the
drip of water from miniature fountains falls musically on the
perfumed air. This is mid- winter ! The summer, they say,
is thermometrically hotter, but practically cooler, because of
the regular trades which set in in April, but now, with the
shaded thermometer at 8o° and the sky without clouds, the
heat is not oppressive.


My fate is lying at the wharf in the shape of the Pacific Mail
Steamer Costa Rica, and soon to me Hawaii-nei will be but a
dream, " Summer Isles of Eden ! " My heart warms towards
them as I leave them, for they have been more like home than
any part of the world since I left England. The moonlight is
trickling through misty algarobas, and feathery tamarinds and
palms, and shines on glossy leaves of breadfruit and citron j a
cool breeze brings in at my open doors the perfumed air,
and the soft murmur of the restful sea, and this beautiful Hono-
lulu, whose lights are twinkling through the purple night, is at
last, as it was at first, Paradise in the Pacific, a blossom of a
summer sea.

These magnificent overflows, however threatening, had done
little damage to cultivated regions, and none to human life ;
and people began to think that the volcano was reformed.
But in 1868 terrors occurred which are without precedent in
island history. While Mrs. L. was giving me the narrative in
her graphic but simple way, and the sweet wind rustled through
the palms, and brought the rich scent of the ginger plant into
the shaded room, she seemed to be telling me a tale of another
world.

The beauty of this part of Kona is wonderful. The in-
terminable forest is richer and greener than anything I have
yet seen, but penetrable only by narrow tracks which have been
made for hauling timber. The trees are so dense, and so
matted together with trailers, that no ray of noon-day sun
brightens the moist tangle of exquisite mosses and ferns which
covers the ground. Yams with their burnished leaves, and
the Polypodium spectrum, wind round every tree stem, and
the heavy ie, which here attains gigantic proportions, links the
tops of the tallest trees together by its knotted coils. Hot-
house flow ers grow in rank profusion round every house, and
tea-roses, fuchsias, geraniums fifteen feet high, Nile lilies,
Chinese lantern plants, begonias, lantanas, hibiscus, passion-
flowers, Cape jasmine, the hoya, the tuberose, the beautiful but
overpoweringly sweet ginger plant, and a hundred others :
while the whole district is overrun with the Datura brug-
mansia (?), here an arborescent shrub fourteen feet high, bearing
seventy great, trumpet-shaped, white blossoms at a time, which
at night vie with those of the night-blowing Cereus in filling the
air with odours.

The air was heavy with odours of gardenia, tuberose, oleanders,
roses, lilies, and the great white trumpet-flower, and myriads
of others whose names I do not know, and verandahs were
festooned with a gorgeous traile# with magenta blossoms,
passion-flowers, and a vine with masses of trumpet-shaped,
yellow, waxy flowers. The delicate tamarind and the feathery
algaroba intermingled their fragile grace with the dark, shiny
foliage of the South Sea exotics, and the deep red, solitary
flowers of the hibiscus rioted among familiar fuchsias and
geraniums, which here attain the height and size of large rhodo-
dendrons.


Dr. McGrew has hope that our invalid will rally in this
healing, equable atmosphere. Our kind fellow-passengers are
here, and take turns in watching and fanning him. Through
the half-closed jalousies we see breadfruit trees, delicate tama-
rinds and algarobas, fan-palms, date-palms, and bananas, and
the deep blue Pacific gleams here and there through the
plumage of the cocoanut trees. A soft breeze, scented with a
slight aromatic odour, wanders in at every opening, bringing
with it, mellowed by distance, the hum and clatter of the busy
cicada. The nights are glorious, and so absolutely still, that
even the feathery foliage of the algaroba is at rest. The stars
seem to hang among the trees like lamps, and the crescent
moon gives more light than the full moon at home.

All the foreigners have carried out
their individual tastes in their dwellings, and the result is very
agreeable, though in picturesqueness they must yield the palm
to the native houses, which, whether of frame, or grass plain
or plaited, whether one or two storeyed, all have the deep
thatched roofs and verandahs plain or fantastically latticed,
which are in harmony with the surroundings. These lattices
and single and double verandahs are gorgeous with trailers,
and the general warm brown tint of the houses contrasts artis-
tically with the deep green of the bananas which overshadow
them. There are living waters everywhere. Each house seems
to possess a pure bright stream, which is arrested in bathing
houses to be liberated among kalo patches of the brightest
green. Every verandah appears a gathering place, and the
bright holokus of the women, the gay shirts and bandanas of
the men, the brilliant wreaths of natural flowers which adorn
both, the hot-house temperature, the new trees and plants which
demand attention, the rich odours, and the low monotonous
recitative which mourns through the groves make me feel that
I am in a new world. Ah, this is all Polynesian ! This must
be the land to which the " timid -eyed " lotos-eaters came. There
is a strange fascination in the languid air, and it is strangely
sweet " to dream of fatherland "...