Honolulu, Hawaii: 22 December 1843. Quarto bifolium (ca. 24,5x20 cm). 3 pp. Brown ink on wove paper, written in a legible hand. Addressed and sealed on verso of the second leaf. Docketed in period manuscript pencil (possibly, by George Clymer) “Recd. Jany. 23rd – 44, at Mazatlan, from Dr. Cutfield, surgeon of the Champion”. Fold marks, a minor hole after opening on the second leaf, slightly affecting two words, but overwise a very good letter.
Two historically interesting original letters from the Kingdom of Hawaii written by a noted Honolulu merchant and US consul Milo Calkin and his wife Evelyne (née Johnson). The letter was addressed to “George Clymer, Esq., Surgeon US Ship Cyane, Care of Amer. Consul, Valparaiso.” Dr. George Clymer, Jr. (1804-1881), a young naval surgeon from the upper-class Philadelphia society, was the grandson of George Clymer (1739-1813), the signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1841-44 he served on the USS “Cyane” of the Pacific Squadron, which stayed in Honolulu in August-November 1843. USS “Cyane” took an active part in Commodore Jones’ Capture of Monterey (October 1842) and the Mexican-American War (1846-48).
Having obviously become close with Dr. Clymer during his long stay in Hawaii, Milo Calkin wrote him a friendly personal letter, talking about the latest business deals, mutual friends and acquaintances in Honolulu, and mentioning USS “Cyane’s” Captain C.K. Stribling, HMS Basilisk (1822), HMS “Hazard,” etc. Eveline’s letter is an interesting example of correspondence by a well-educated upper-class American female resident in Hawaii when still an independent kingdom. Eveline wrote about very quiet, sober and sedate life in Honolulu, the arrival of “real Sandwich Islands winter weather” when they almost needed to make a fire to warm up, her reading Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and not riding her horse “Old Grey” as much, Milo’s recent asthma attack, their plan to visit Maui for a few days, etc. Overall an interesting early letter by noted American residents in the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Milo Calkin arrived in Maui in 1836 after the whaling ship he had been employed on had shipwrecked on Starbuck Island. “To earn enough money for passage back to New England, his first position was that of secular agent and music teacher at Lahainaluna School, located on the hill above Lahaina. As it happened, recurring attacks of asthma made him leave Lahainaluna after only six months. Mr. Calkin went to Honolulu, where he worked as head clerk of the house of Ladd & Company. Mr. Ladd was described as a Christian merchant from New England and a musician. He and Milo Calkin helped with the singing at Kawaiaha’o Church and with the training of the royal children at the Chiefs’ Children’s School. Milo Calkin returned to New England in 1842 and brought a bride, who was also a musician, back to Lahaina, where he served as a US Consul [in 1843-45]” (Thomas, J. My Hawaii: 1938-1962… 2002, p. 156). The family returned to Maine in 1848, and during the California Gold Rush, Milo Calkin moved to San Francisco, where his wife and two daughters joined him in 1851. Milo Calkin authored the “Hawaiian Collection of Church Music, Consisting of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Anthems, Chants, &c.” (Honolulu, 1840; Forbes 1193). Some of his papers are now held in the Library of Congress (https://lccn.loc.gov/mm83075944).
Excerpts from the letters:
1) Milo Calkin’s letter:
“…Having an opportunity to send to Mazatlan, we avail ourselves of it, to drop you a few lines, though we have not much in the way of news to communicate. Business first! I am now employed in disposing of a large China cargo of goods, just consigned to us, & if you were here, you could supply yourself at a much cheaper rate, than you did out of the Don Juan. Business general is brisk, at least I find but little idle time.
You will no doubt be happy to learn, that an entire and complete cure has been effective upon Mrs. Calkin. Old Gray, that did such valiant service in happy days, gone past, Mrs. C. rides but little these days. Mrs. Sullivan has not heard any tidings of her husband. Mrs. Dudoit has a daughter a few days old. Capt. Magee is recovering slowly, but will probably lose the use of his knee. We see considerable of Doct. Cutfield of the Champion & are much pleased with him. Mrs. Penchallow also is doing well – a daughter.
The Bhering sailed on the 18 November. Your letters were forwarded, also the papers by the Eric as well as some clothing sent in by Dr. Wood. We felt lonely enough, after your departure and still more so, after the Bhering sailed – we now amuse and console ourselves, by looking back, upon past pleasure enjoyed with yourself & other officers of the Cyane. I fear it will be many days ere we have a relapse of so good times...”
2) Eveline Calkin’s letter
“…This space in his letter, my husband has left for me to fill, and I need not say how gladly I avail myself the opportunity it gives me of conversing with you a little by way of the pen <…> It is nearly six weeks since the good ship Cyane sailed from this port, and we imagine you now in Montera[y], and probably about sailing for Mazatlan, at which place, when you arrive, we expect you will write us a long letter <…>
We are having very quiet times in Honolulu now. You would be quite surprised to see what a sober, sedate people we have become, of late. The change, you may think, is a beneficial one, and might prove to be such of lasting, which I fear will not be case, as without doubt, it is in a great measure to be attributed to the state of the weather, which has been very cold, and storming, real Sandwich Island winter weather. We have almost needed a fire to sit by for the last few days. Riding on horseback is quite out of fashion these days. Notwithstanding, “Old Grey” has returned from his country residence in a very good case, full of life and spirits, and entirely recovered from his lameness. I have very little occasion for his service, the weather being such as to render an equestrian excursion rather unpleasant, that otherwise.
I have busied myself somewhat lately in reading Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” which you know is always good, and will bear reading many times. Mr. Calkin’s asthmatic propensities have troubled him exceedingly of late. He has been suffering from a very severe attack, which has lasted him nearly a week. I think it very probable he will be obliged to take another long voyage to sea in the course of a year or two. We are going to take a trip to Maui, this week to be gone a few days only.
The Basilisk has arrived, but brought us no letters, none even from Mr. Brinsmade. We are quite discouraged, but hope the Hazard which is expected in two weeks, will bring news. If it does not, I think, we shall despair of ever hearing from our friends again. The Basilisk has been dispatched to Tahiti for the purpose of sending the Dublin here. The Admiral will probably leave the Sandwich Isles when she arrives. I saw your friend Mrs. Wood today. She is very well and doubtless would have sent her respects to you, had she known I was going to write. <…> That the winds, and waves may be propitious, and waft you all safely and speedily to your desired haven in our own “dear native land” is the wish of your friend, Ev. Calkin.”.
Price: $1,500.00 USD