Honolulu, Sandwich Islands (Hawaii)
Honolulu means "sheltered harbor" or "calm port." The old name is said to be Kou, a district roughly encompassing the area from Nuuanu Avenue to Alakea Street and from Hotel Street to Queen Street which is the heart of the present downtown district. The city has been the capital of the Hawaiian Islands since 1845 and gained historical recognition following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan near the city on December 7, 1941.
August 31, 1895: (From Mark Twain Day By Day page 1056)
"August 31 Saturday – Livy finished her Aug 30 letter to daughter Susy.
Well we have had an exciting time since I wrote the first part of this letter. Honolulu lights were in sight and
we were just looking for our pilot to take us into port, when a little boat with nine or ten people in drew up
along side. Everyone supposed it was the pilot. When some one from the little boat said “We cannot board
you — there is sickness on the island, we want to speak with the Captain.” ...There was cholera in Honolulu!
There had been five deaths that day. This was terrible news [MTP].
“Anxious for the pleasure of going ashore, Twain awaited the morning as he was unaware of the
official government proclamation published in the papers that same day, which had completely
closed Honolulu harbor to the outside world. With the morning came the news and the
“Since Captain Arundel refused to expose his crew and passengers to the hazard of spreading or
contracting cholera, the Captain allowed the twenty-two people who wanted to disembark at
Honolulu to leave the ship, but insisted that the Warrimoo ‘would not carry any freight, mail or
passengers to Sydney.’ Though the auspices of Armstrong Smith, one of the passengers to
disembark at Honolulu, Twain sent greetings and expressed regret that he could not land” .
This fascinating article also documents the limited contact Sam had with shore during the unloading of
cargo, mail and passengers. He shook the hand of Captain Gregory, in charge of the Waialeale, which
pulled alongside the Warrimoo and helped with the transfer. Clara Clemens is reported to have snapped a
photo of Captain Rice, and of a tug helping with the transfer. Also,
“At least one more instance of contact with Twain has been documented in the local papers, and
that was with Clarence Crabbe, a customs officer. Mr. Crabbe, spoke to Mr. Twain, whom he
recognized reclining on a deck chair: ‘Would you like to go ashore, Mr. Clemens?’ This was an
awful question to tease Clemens with because there was no way such permission could be
granted without quarantine at Sydney, and other, perhaps, more deadly consequences. Realizing
the hopelessness of the situation, Clemens’ reply to the fantastic draw of paradise within his
reach disregarded the two variables over which he had no control: the cholera and his
bankruptcy. ‘I would give a thousand dollars to go ashore and not have to return again’” .
In the evening, Sam wrote of a beautiful sunset in FE Ch. III, p.60. From this account, it’s clear the
Warrimoo did not leave until the next day, Sept. 1. Shillingsburg writes, “No shore leave was allowed,
and Twain’s performance was canceled at a widely reported loss of $600” [At Home 21]."