The vegetation and glory of the tropics attracted him. "In one open spot a vine of a species unknown had taken possession of two tall dead stumps, and wound around and about them, and swung out from their tops, and twined their meeting tendrils together into a faultless arch. Man, with all his art, could not improve upon its symmetry."
He saw Sam Brannan's palace, "The Bungalow," built by one Shillaber of San Francisco at a cost of from thirty to forty thousand dollars. In its day it had outshone its regal neighbor, the palace of the king, but had fallen to decay after passing into Brannan's hands, and had become a picturesque Theban ruin by the time of Mark Twain's visit.
In No. 12, June 20th (written May 23d), he tells of the Hawaiian Legislature, and of his trip to the island of Maui, where, as he says, he never spent so pleasant a month before, or bade any place good-by so regretfully.
In No. 13 he continues the Legislature, and gives this picture of Minister Harris: "He is six feet high, bony and rather slender; long, ungainly arms; stands so straight he leans back a little; has small side whiskers; his head long, up and down; he has no command of language or ideas; oratory all show and pretence; a big washing and a small hang-out; weak, insipid, and a damn fool in general."
In No. 14, June 22d, published July i6th, he tells of the death and burial ceremonies of the Princess Victoria K. K., and, what was to be of more importance to him, of the arrival of Anson Burlingame, U. S. Minister to China, and Gen. Van Valkenburgh, U. S. Minister to Japan. They were to stay ten or fourteen days, he said, but an effort would be made to have them stay over July 4th.
Speaking of Burlingame: "Burlingame is a man who could be esteemed, respected, and popular anywhere, no matter whether he was among Christians or cannibals." Then, in the same letter, comes the great incident. "A letter arrived here yesterday, giving a meagre account of the arrival, on the Island of Hawaii, of nineteen poor, starving wretches, who had been buffeting a stormy sea, in an open boat, for forty-three days. Their ship, the Hornet, from New York, with a quantity of kerosene on board had taken fire and burned in Lat. 2d. north, and Long. 35d. west. When they had been entirely out of provisions for a day or two, and the cravings of hunger become insufferable, they yielded to the ship-wrecked mariner's fearful and awful alternative, and solemnly drew lots to determine who of their number should die, to furnish food for his comrades; and then the morning mists lifted, and they saw land. They are being cared for at Sanpahoe (Not yet corroborated)."
The Hornet disaster was fully told in his letter of June 27th. The survivors were brought to Honolulu, and with the assistance of the Burlingame party, Clemens, laid up with saddle boils, was carried on a stretcher to the hospital, where, aided by Burlingame, he interviewed the shipwrecked men, securing material for the most important piece of serious writing he had thus far performed. Letter No. 15 to the Union--of date June 25th--occupied the most of the first page in the issue of July 19. It was a detailed account of the sufferings of officers and crew, as given by the third officer and members of the crew.
In the postscript of a letter which I wrote two or three days ago, and sent by the ship "Live Yankee," I gave you the substance of a letter received here from Hilo, by Walker Allen and Co., informing them that a boat, containing fifteen men in a helpless and starving condition, had drifted ashore at Sanpahoe, Island of Hawaii, and that they had belonged to the clipper ship "Hornet"--Cap. Mitchell, master--had been afloat since the burning of that vessel, about one hundred miles north of the equator, on the third of May--forty-three days.