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The collection embraces contributions by the Rev. A. O. Forbes, Dr. N. B. Emerson, J. S. Emerson, Mrs. E. M. Nakuina, W. M. Gibson, Dr. C. M. Hyde, and others, all of whom are recognized authorities.
The early attempts of Dibble and Pogue to gather history from Hawaiians themselves have preserved to native and foreign readers much that would probably otherwise have been lost. To the late Judge Andrews we are indebted for a very full grammar and dictionary of the language, as also for a valuable manuscript collection of meles and antiquarian literature that passed to the custody of the Board of Education.
In the first volume of Judge Fornander’s elaborate work on “The Polynesian Race” he has given some old Hawaiian legends which closely resemble the Old Testament history. How shall we account for such coincidences?
There were native historians in those days; the newspaper articles of S. M. Kamakau, the earlier writings of David Malo, and the later contributions of G. W. Pilipo and others are but samples of a wealth of material, most of which has been lost forever to the world. From time to time Prof. W. D. Alexander, as also C. J. Lyons, has furnished interesting extracts from these and other hakus.
The Rev. A. O. Forbes devoted some time and thought to the collecting of island folk-lore: and King Kalakaua took some pains in this line also, as evidenced by his volume of “Legends and Myths of Hawaii,” edited by R. M. Daggett, though there is much therein that is wholly foreign to ancient Hawaiian customs and thought. No one of late years had a better opportunity than Kalakaua toward collecting the meles, kaaos, and traditions of his race; and for purposes looking to this end there was established by law a Board of Genealogy, which had an existence of some four years, but nothing of permanent value resulted therefrom.
Fornander’s manuscript collection of meles, legends, and genealogies in the vernacular has fortunately become, by purchase, the property of the Hon. C. R. Bishop, which insures for posterity the result of one devoted scholar’s efforts to rescue the ancient traditions that are gradually slipping away; for the haku meles (bards) of Hawaii are gone. This fact, as also the Hawaiian Historical Society’s desire to aid and stimulate research into the history and traditions of this people, strengthens the hope that some one may yet arise to give us further insight into the legendary folk-lore of this interesting race.
T. G. T.
Honolulu, January 1