It is indeed true that when the Japanese ambassadorial delegation visited Honolulu in March 1860 they were given a royal reception by Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. One of those in attendance was the king’s father, Governor Kekuanaoa of Oahu.
The following article was featured in the August, 1860 edition of The Friend, Rev. Samuel C. Damon, publisher. It was taken from an edition of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser:
In our American exchanges, we find the following anecdote related of Gov. Kekuanaoa, our present Governor of Oahu, which we presume to be true, as it is furnished by Mr. Wood, the Chaplain of the Powhatan. The anecdote is characteristic of the venerable Governor, who is well known to be a staunch “Dashaway” in example as well as precept. –P.C. Adv.
WARNING TO THE JAPANESE ENTERTAINERS
A correspondent of the Journal of Commerce, from the U.S. Steamer Powhatan, furnishes the following:
“A remark of the venerable father of Kamehameha IV, the present King of the Sandwich Islands, I commend to the serious consideration of our countrymen, official and others, who may entertain the Japanese, or mingle in their company. I have never seen but one instance of intoxication among the Japanese; still they are fond of intoxicating liquors, and by the influence of example, and solicitation in respectable and honorable circles, can easily be seduced into the most ruinous habits.
Their common and favorite drink is saki, a distillation of rice, which in strength is about equal to old Sherry wine. They easily, however, exchange it for champagne and other wines, and rum, whisky and brandy. Not an instance of intoxication occurred on board the ship, while all saw the facility with which moderation could be made to terminate in intemperance.
At the presentation of the Japanese Ministers to King Kamehameha at Honolulu, I happened to be standing near the King’s father, the venerable and hoary-headed Kekuanaoa, who alone survives of the Sandwich Island party which went to England in the year 1826, on a somewhat similar errand. King Liholiho and his queen, attended by their highest chieftains, like the present Japanese Embassy, resolved to leave their beautiful islands and to go abroad and see the world.
Arriving in London, they were feted by the king, the court, and the nobles, and introduced into all the practices of the table which only Englishmen are able to achieve or live under. Soon they became grossly intemperate, and died in London of their excesses. Their bodies were brought back, and now sleep in the Paradise Island, which they so fatally left.
When the ceremony was concluded, and the Japanese ministry had withdrawn, on whom Kekuanaoa had gazed with a serious and sad expression upon his face, he stepped up to Commodore Tatnall, and remarked that “he foresaw the fate of the Japanese Ambassadors; they would not live to see their charming island again; they would be initiated into drunkenness in the United States, as King Liholiho and his queen were in London, and, like them, leave their bodies there.”
I was touched by the humanity of the venerable man, as well as alarmed by his prophesy; and taking out my notebook committed it to paper. ‘Let him that readeth understand.’”