No. 392.
Mr. Comly to Mr. Evarts.

No. 153.]

Sir: During the past three weeks about 1,700 adult male Chinese immigrants have been added to the population of these islands and 1,500 more are said, on good authority, to be on their way here. A majority of the adult male population of the islands, is now Chinese.

So long as the chief demand of the islands shall continue to be more laborers, they will continue to come; and it is a question not necessary for me to discuss whether their coming is in the nature of an unmixed blessing.

It is an evil not necessarily chargeable to the Chinese immigration that the Chinese steamer Meifoo, which arrived last week, and the Quinta, which arrived a fortnight earlier, both had cases of small-pox on board. The captain of the Quinta misrepresented the facts to the authorities, and infected passengers were landed, from whom an epidemic has broken out in Honolulu.

Up to this date forty-eight cases have been reported from this small population, of whom only five have died.

The result has been that there has been something of a panic, and the usual meeting has been held in Kanaukapili church, demanding the dismissal of the ministry for allowing the small-pox to break out.

The ministry and the board of health, determined not to be criticised for further inactivity, have adopted the most stringent measures for confining the plague and stamping it out.

No vessel is allowed to leave the harbor for any of the other islands, and every road out of Honolulu is strictly guarded, so that communication is absolutely severed between Honolulu and the rest of the island of Oahu, as well as between the other islands.

The premises of all citizens are rigidly inspected for new cases, and all infected persons are sent at once “to the reef,” a barren island in the harbor, where quarantine quarters have been built. My colleagues and myself have succeeded, with some difficulty, in securing a modification of this rigid rule so far as to allow the families of our countrymen to take care of their own sick, in case they can be isolated and the premises quarantined for the protection of the public.

It would be difficult for any person away from here to conceive the horror of being sent “to the reef” with this disease, in company with [Page 621]a thousand or more Chinamen and natives, with squalid wretchedness for one’s only companionship.

There are nearly 1,000 Chinese alone who may be seen from the wharves of Honolulu swarming down to the shore of the barren island, in helpless misery, waiting for their term of quarantine to expire. A call was issued several days ago for clothing donations for the poor wretches, many of whom have gone through the recent “Koua” storm with insufficient clothing. Such calls are promptly responded to in Honolulu. In fact the government and people are doing their best, with the means at hand, to properly care for the quarantine, as well as for the actual cases of small-pox, and to end the epidemic with the first crop of cases, if possible.

I have, &c.,

JAMES M. COMLY.