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Jordan, T. M.
Autograph Letter Ulupalakua East Maui Sandwich Islands October 15, 1857, to a Mr. Quitman

quarto, 4 pages, possibly incomplete, or lacking a sheet, as the letter is unsigned, the writer’s name is docketed on the last page. In very good clean and legible condition.

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Dear Quitman,

              … Shall I tell you amongst what kind of scenes my “lines have fallen”? In some respects I must say in “pleasant places” I have never been in any climate so perfectly luxurious as this. The lowest that I have seen the thermometer (in a year’s residence here) is 58˚ and the highest 80˚ - while it rarely reaches either of these extremes varying from 64˚ to 76˚ - It is just such a temperature as to render you comfortable in whatever clothing you may choose to wear, whether woolen or linen, and many of the natives appear to be perfectly comfortable without any clothes at all, which, I must be allowed to remark, is a very picturesque costume, especially on horseback with a large pair of Spanish spurs.

             We never have mud here for the reason that the surface is everywhere so sloping that the water all runs off. We have no dust because we have an average of two showers of rain every week. The soil here is extremely productive, and with careful cultivation I think almost every variety of produce might be reared in abundance. … I am of course speaking of that part of the surface which is cultivable, which is not more than one twentieth of the whole surface of the Islands. These islands are most clearly of volcanic origin & formation, although there is at present no volcanic activity on any but one of them. The Island (East Maui) upon which I am at present located rises in the shape of a cone from the sea to a height of ten thousand feet, terminating in an immense extinct crater 30 miles in circumference. How poor little Vesuvius sinks into insignificance on the comparison! The island on the side not exposed to the trade winds (Lee side) is almost entirely destitute of timber up to an elevation of from 2500 to 3000 feet, and from that to the summit the growth is not tall but heavy and luxuriant. In Switzerland we found perpetual snow at an elevation of 8000 fee, and there all vegetation ceased … but here at the elevation of 10,000 snow never remains more than a few days at a time. While the summits of Hawaii, which are respectively 10,000 & 14,000 feet, retain their white summit crowns only half the year. We are elevated here between 2500 & 3000 feet above the sea, so that we have a pure and rarified atmosphere. You may judge of the clearness of the air when I state that the Island of Maui at the distance of 90 miles is distinctly visible with the naked eye. While at the distance of 20 miles we can easily count the ships in the port of Lahaina without the aid of a glass. It is a most fortunate circumstance that we have here… The native language is a limited species of jargon that seems to answer the necessary purposes, although utterly void of beauty and with but little force. I despise them & their language.”