This letter was written by Eveline (Johnson) Calkin (1817-1899), the wife of Milo Calkin (1810-1872). They were married in Hallowell, Kennebec County, Maine in October 1842. Milo first traveled to the South Pacific on a whaling ship in 1832. Following a shipwreck in 1834, he and other members of the crew were taken to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Through the end of the decade, Milo worked as a clerk in the mercantile business in Honolulu. After his marriage, Milo returned to Hawaii as a merchant and served as Vice Consul to the United States from 1843-45. In the 1850s the couple moved to San Francisco where they remained.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Moses Johnson (1787-1821) and Philomela Jewett (1792-1839) of Augusta, Maine.
Elizabeth addressed the letter to her friend, U.S. Naval Surgeon, George Clymer (1804-1881), the son of Henry Clymer (1767-1830) and Mary Willing (1770-1852). George was married to Mary Shubrick, the daughter of Rear Admiral William Branford Shubrick (1790-1874) and his wife Harriet. From this letter we learn that Clymer visited the Sandwich Islands in the fall of 1843 and was returning to the United States by way of Valparaiso, Chili, on board the sloop USS Cyane.
Addressed to G__ Clymer, Jr., M.D., Surgeon of the U.S. Ship Cyane, Care of U.S Consul — Valparaiso
If the Cyane has sailed for U.S., to be forwarded to Morristown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Honolulu [Sandwich Isles]
January 28, 1844
My dear sir,
It is with feelings of pleasure, and satisfaction, that I take my pen once more for the purpose of addressing you, and acknowledging my gratitude for your kind remembrance of me, as manifested in the letters by the Hazard, and which Dr. [James T.] Veitch was so good as to deliver to me in person. You can scarcely have an idea of the gratification they gave me. I had been looking anxiously for the arrival of the [British sloop] Hazard with the expectation of receiving letters from home, a doubt of which never crossed my mind, and when, a few hours after she came into port, Mr. Calkin sent me word there were no letters for us, I was (as you very well suppose) sadly disappointed. Soon, however, Dr. Veitch called and handed me a package saying it was from Dr. Clymer. If you had seen me hop from my chair when he came forward to give it me, you would have had good reason to think I had suddenly renewed my age, and become sprightly anon. True it is, I never waited more impatiently the close of a morning call — particularly from an agreeable gentleman like Dr. Veitch, than at this time, not knowing how to deny myself for one moment the pleasure of retiring for the purpose of devouring the contents of the precious packet. But I succeeded in keeping quiet until he rose to take his leave, when I bade him “Good morning” with a feeling of pleasure, which, under any other circumstances, would have been far from flattering to him at least. However, I cannot but think he would have excused me at that time even had he been aware of my impatience.
I cannot describe the sensations of delight which the perusal of your letters gave me, neither tell you how very grateful I am for the many expressions of kindness and esteem with which they abound. Indeed, some parts of them are so very flattering that, for a moment, I was almost to doubt their coming from the pen of Dr. Clymer, who I had always believed spoke the words of truth and soberness, the genuine feelings of his heart, and I have still the vanity to hold to that same opinion, notwithstanding all the graceful flattery contained in the letters, the more acceptable on account of its extreme delicacy and is, I doubt not, prompted solely by that benevolence of heart which is ever asking the happiness, and gratification of others.
I am glad to hear you do not repent your visit to the Sandwich Isles, but still feel that the reality far exceeded your anticipations. Hope you will never have occasion to regret a four month’s residence among us. Certainly you happened here at a very propitious season — a very fortunate and interesting time. You say much of the uniform kindness and hospitality with which you were treated by the residents of Honolulu. Also that, “towards them, you bear away unmingled sentiments of friendliness and good will” & I beg leave to assure, my dear Sir, that you have left the same pleasing sentiments towards yourself in many hearts here.
I suppose you would like now to have some few of the “sayings and doings” of Honolulu, so I will try and make a little collection of them for your special benefit, and self is apt to come first in my case, I will suffer it to do so here and commence with giving you a brief description of our trip to the Island of Maui, which took place about four weeks since. Mr. Calkin and myself took passage in the Frigate Hawaii on the same day that the Champion left here. We had a very rough passage up — came very near capsized by a squall of wind, which finally drove us off to the leeward of Ranai where we just escaped going ashore on the rocks, but finally arrived safely at Lahaina after a passage of 35 hours. You visited Lahaina so that a description of it will not be necessary. Therefore, I will have nothing to say of dirty streets and the like, but invite you to transport yourself on the wings of imagination to the Eastern part of the Island where you will find a most beautiful spot. Scenery, the most delightful and picturesque, and which reminded me more strongly than any other place I have seen on the Islands of our sweet New England. The climate is much cooler, and pleasanter, than that of Honolulu. We spent four days there riding about the country and enjoying ourselves finely, and then returned to Honolulu quite refreshed and invigorated.
The ladies ride on horseback but little in these days. We have a great deal of rain so that the roads are quite muddy much of the time. Mr, & Mrs. [Hiram] Grimes gave a ball at their house a few evenings since. I did not attend (having become quite tired of dissipation) but understand they had a fine time. Mrs. Sullivan is spending a few months in their family — she and Mrs. Penhallow having had rather a falling out. Mrs. Sullivan, however, was not at all to blame, in my opinion, but did perfectly right in leaving them. She has recovered her cheerfulness and seems very happy — has given up the idea of ever seeing or hearing from her husband again.
We have news by the Hazard that some three or four gentlemen with their wives are contemplating a voyage to the Sandwich Islands. They are probably on their way long before this time. They will be quite an addition to our society. I am very sorry to hear that Mr. Baker is no better. Please give him my best respects, and say that I feel much sympathy for him. I sincerely hope he mat yet recover.
Capt. [Joseph Oliver] Carter has just arrived from Valparaiso and think he shall return there very soon so I thought I would have a letter ready to send by him. With much respect and esteem, I remain your friend sincerely, — E. J. Calkin
Received at Valparaiso, Sunday morning, June 2nd 1844 by Capt. Carter of the Brig Delaware which arrived on the 31st May from Oahu. From Mrs. Calkin. [The ship set sail from Honolulu on 13 March 1844.]