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Across the Pacific

William T, Wawn's First Recruitment Voyage

27 August

About four days out from Victoria we plunged into hot weather, and all the male passengers put on white linen clothes. One or two days later we crossed the 25th parallel of north latitude, and then, by order, the officers of the ship laid away their blue uniforms and came out in white linen ones. All the ladies were in white by this time. This prevalence of snowy costumes gave the promenade deck an invitingly cool, and cheerful and picnicky aspect.

30 August

On the seventh day out we saw a dim vast bulk standing up out of the wastes of the Pacific and knew that that spectral promontory was Diamond Head, a piece of this world which I had not seen before for twenty-nine years. So we were nearing Honolulu, the capital city of the Sandwich Islands—those islands which to me were Paradise; a Paradise which I had been longing all those years to see again. Not any other thing in the world could have stirred me as the sight of that great rock did.

Many memories of my former visit to the islands came up in my mind while we lay at anchor in front of Honolulu that night. And pictures—pictures pictures—an enchanting procession of them! I was impatient for the morning to come.
When it came it brought disappointment, of course. Cholera had broken out in the town, and we were not allowed to have any communication with the shore. Thus suddenly did my dream of twenty-nine years go to ruin. Messages came from friends, but the friends themselves I was not to have any sight of. My lecture-hall was ready, but I was not to see that, either.
Several of our passengers belonged in Honolulu, and these were sent ashore; but nobody could go ashore and return. There were people on shore who were booked to go with us to Australia, but we could not receive them; to do it would cost us a quarantine-term in Sydney.

Honolulu Yesterday and Today (1895)

From talks with certain of our passengers whose home was Honolulu, and from a sketch by Mrs. Mary H. Krout, I was able to perceive what the Honolulu of to-day is, as compared with the Honolulu of my time. In my time it was a beautiful little town, made up of snow-white wooden cottages deliciously smothered in tropical vines and flowers and trees and shrubs;

The South Sea Islanders and the Queensland Labour Trade

In these past few days we are plowing through a mighty Milky Way of islands. They are so thick on the map that one would hardly expect to find room between them for a canoe; yet we seldom glimpse one. Once we saw the dim bulk of a couple of them, far away, spectral and dreamy things; members of the Horne-Alofa and Fortuna. On the larger one are two rival native kings—and they have a time together. They are Catholics; so are their people. The missionaries there are French priests.
From the multitudinous islands in these regions the "recruits" for the Queensland plantations were formerly drawn; are still drawn from them, I believe.

The Fiji Islands

From Diary:—For a day or two we have been plowing among an invisible vast wilderness of islands, catching now and then a shadowy glimpse of a member of it. There does seem to be a prodigious lot of islands this year; the map of this region is freckled and fly-specked all over with them. Their number would seem to be uncountable. We are moving among the Fijis now—224 islands and islets in the group.

Porpoises Aglow with Phosphorescent Light

Presently, a quarter of a mile away you would see a blinding splash or explosion of light on the water—a flash so sudden and so astonishingly brilliant that it would make you catch your breath; then that blotch of light would instantly extend itself and take the corkscrew shape and imposing length of the fabled sea-serpent, with every curve of its body and the "break" spreading away from its head, and the wake following behind its tail clothed in a fierce splendor of living fire.

Sydney Harbor

Sydney Harbor is shut in behind a precipice that extends some miles like a wall, and exhibits no break to the ignorant stranger. It has a break in the middle, but it makes so little show that even Captain Cook sailed by it without seeing it. Near by that break is a false break which resembles it, and which used to make trouble for the mariner at night, in the early days before the place was lighted.

Credits

Cooper, Robert - Around the World with Mark Twain
Fears, David - Mark Twain Day By Day
Rasmussen, R. Kent - Mark Twain A to Z
Shillingsburg, Miriam Jones - At Home Abroad: Mark Twain in Australasia

Course outline

Following the Equator

  • Across the Pacific
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • India
  • South Africa
  • Return to Southampton

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