IT IS said that the Chinese gave to the clove the name "Thengki"--"the sweet-scented nail." When the clove came to Rome, the haughty lovers of spices exclaimed "clavus"--"a nail." The English made a slight change and said "clove." Solomon, the wise, and King Hiram, the Phoenician, sent fleets on voyages of long duration. Their ships returned from these voyages laden with the fragrant products of the spice lands.
Marco Polo rehearsed the abundant aromas of the Orient as well as the gold and jewels and silks. Columbus, in 1492, went west that he might find more ready access to these eastern riches. The spice islands lay somewhere in a great ocean toward the sunset from Spain, provided the world was round, as Columbus argued.
Balboa must have wished for a Nicaraguan or Panama Canal when he carried timbers across the isthmus and built a ship on the Pacific coast to explore the new ocean which he had discovered. In 1513 he launched his little ship, intending to find the oriental riches, if possible.
In October of the year 1527, three Spanish ships were "fitted out" by Cortez. They set sail from Zacatula, Mexico, for the Molucca Islands. One only, under the command of Saavedra, reached its destination. A fierce storm drove the little squadron far north of the ordinary route, and swept two of the ships out of the record of history. Alexander says: "It seems certain that a foreign vessel which was wrecked about this time on the Kona coast of Hawaii must have been one of Saavedra's missing ships." From this ship a white man and woman escaped. After reaching the beach they knelt for a long time in prayer. The Hawaiians, watching them, waited until they rose, and received welcome. The place was at once named "Kulou"--"kneeling." Through all the succeeding years the name kept the story of the wrecked white chiefs before the Hawaiian people. The Hawaiians received their white visitors as honoured guests, and permitted them to marry into noted chief-families. In the Hawaiian legends the man and woman are called brother and sister. The man was named Ku-kana-loa. Their descendants were well known, one of them being a governor of the island of Kauai. These white citizens came to the islands in the reign of Ke-alii-o-ka-loa, who was born about A. D. 1500, and became a king of Hawaii about A. D. 1525.
There seems to be scarcely a trace of the Spanish language or of the Christian religion as practiced
by the Spaniards. The nearest approach to any permanent influence possibly coming from this shipwrecked man is the statement made to a chief by a native prophet long before the islands were discovered by Captain Cook, that from his predecessors he had learned the prophecy: "A communication would be made to them from Heaven, the place of the real God, entirely different from anything they had known and that the tabu of the country would be subverted."
The Hawaiian traditions have several references to foreigners coming to the islands. Pau-makau, of Oahu, was one of the Vikings of the Pacific during the twelfth century. He is recorded as visiting many foreign lands. He brought priests to Oahu. Judge Fornander suggests that quite possibly these were Indians from the American coast. Professor Alexander, in his "History of Hawaii," thinks there is scarcely sufficient foundation for the suggestion. However, Pau-makau and his journeys are accepted as part of Hawaiian history.
In the thirteenth century "the white chief with the iron knife" was wrecked on the coast of the island of Maui, near the village Wailuku. Three men and two women were saved. Wakalana, a chief, took his outrigger canoe through the surf and rescued them. These persons are supposed to have been Japanese. The captain of the ship carried a long sword which became renowned throughout the islands as "the
wonderful iron knife." It was a tremendously effective weapon, when matched with wooden daggers and war clubs. King Kalakaua relates the amplified legend and chant in his "Myths and Legends of Hawaii," and in imagination pictures some of the battles fought and trades made for the possession of the iron knife. The Hawaiians came from all parts to see these remarkable strangers. They were astonished to see the women eat the same kinds of food, and from the same dishes as the men. "Nothing was tabu to the strangers." This was entirely new to Hawaiian ideas. Another legend mentions a foreign ship, called Ulupano, and the captain was remembered as Malolano. It is supposed that the ship soon sailed away. Other hints are found of ships having been seen out on the ocean by fishing parties who had gone far from land. These ships were called moku [islands], the name used to the present day.
There are undoubted proofs of the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands in 1555 by the Spaniard, Juan Gaetano. This is the first known record of the islands among the civilised nations. There are evident references to this group in the legends of the Polynesians in other Pacific islands.
Gaetano passed through the northern part of the Pacific and discovered large islands which he marked upon a chart as "Los Majos." The great mountains upon these islands did not rise in sharp peaks, but spread out like a high tableland in the
clouds, hence he also called the islands "Isles de Mesa," the Mesa Islands or the Table Lands. One of the islands was named "The Unfortunate." Three other smaller islands were called "The Monks."
Le Perouse, the celebrated Frenchman who visited Hawaii in A. D. 1796, says that Gaetano saw these islands "with their naked savages, cocoanuts and other fruits, but no gold or silver." There was nothing attractive, and the wealth-loving Spaniard marked the islands on his chart and never visited them again. So the record lay for many years. This record, kept in Spain's archives, is now accepted as marking the real discovery of the Hawaiian Islands.
Meanwhile, the Hawaiians were as completely ignorant of the rest of the world as if no civilised eyes had ever seen their mountains. They offered each other as human sacrifices; they fought for supremacy. They died at the will of their chiefs. They lived almost as lustfully as the brutes. They had nothing that could be called a home, with an affectionate household gathered inside its walls. They ate, and slept, and died. They entered with zeal into the national sports as well as into the national quarrels. They chanted their genealogies and personal prowess. The art of sailing long distances by the aid of the stars had fallen into disuse. The age of the Western Vikings had passed by. For three or four hundred years no voyagers
had found their way to foreign lands. Then some time in the early part of the eighteenth century a king of Oahu involuntarily made a journey which was celebrated as a part of his genealogical chant. The entire "mele," or song, stretches out to about six hundred lines. It is an interesting poem filled with graphic references to people and places, to winds and seas, and to birds and fishes.
In this chant the king of Oahu relates his strange experience on the ocean. Fornander quotes the poem in his "Polynesian Race":
"A land with a strange language is Kahiki.
The men of Kahiki have ascended
The backbone of heaven (mountains)
Up there they trample down,
They look down on those below.
Men of our race are not in Kahiki.
One kind of men is in Kahiki--the white man.
He is like a god.
I am like a man,
A man, indeed.
"Wandering about, the only Hawaiian there.
Days and nights passing by.
By morsels was the food.
Picking the food like a bird.
Listen, O bird of Victory!
Hush, with whom was the victory?
With Ku, indeed."
The chant states that the king was "wandering about," probably driven by the winds far south from the islands. He and his oarsmen were almost starving. The food became "morsels," or only enough for a bird to "pick up." But Ku--the chief--won the victory over the ocean. He went to the "foreign land." He found the white man's home, where the "land was 'within,'" i.e., lying to the east, with the sun "outside," i.e., westward over the waters, most of the day. Perhaps the misty mountains concealed the sun until the forenoon was far spent. He saw "the land of the far-reaching ocean," and returned in safety to Oahu. "With Ku--the chief--indeed was the victory."
Judge Fornander says: "It is probable that some Spanish galleons picked up Ku and his companions, carried them to Acapulco, Mexico, and brought them back on the return voyage."
In 1743, Lord Anson, of the British ship Centurion, captured a Spanish ship near the Philippine Islands, and found a chart locating a group of islands in the North Pacific--the same group that Gaetano discovered in 1555. This chart, and the story of Lord Anson's voyage, were almost certainly known by Captain Cook, who made three voyages through the Pacific.