The Musings of Princess Victoria Ka’iulani Cleghorn - Tommianne Brockert

The Musings of Princess Victoria Ka’iulani Cleghorn

May 10th, 1889

Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson has quickly become a notable influence and friend of my

royal family since his arrival earlier this year. He has gifted me with the journal I’m currently

writing in and is now a close friend of mine. It’s the early morning, and I am sitting under my

favorite banyan tree on the property of my beloved Ainahau in Waikiki, taking in the beautiful

foliage and squawking of the mynah bird one last time before one of my most adventurous

endeavors; today is the day I will be traveling to England, a land not far from my Papa’s

motherland in Scotland. I am quite nervous about the journey as I will be away from home for a

very long time. I pray it will be a safe journey as I have heard the unpleasant stories of sailors

ships that have gone missing, cast to the depths of ke kai. Papa is sending me away to study at

the Great Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire. It has a prestigious reputation, and according to

Papa and my uncle, King Kalakaua, this education will help save our native monarchy which is

on the verge of a political falling. I know I must do what’s right for Hawai’i, but I wish I didn’t

have to leave it to save it; however, I remain cheerful as Mr. Stevenson has told me of the

folktales and sights to behold in his homeland. He’s given me a poem to take with me on my

travels to remind me of my home once I've arrived, I can’t wait to read it! I have also made sure

to take a copy of his book called The bottle Imp with me to remind me of the mix of my culture

and his. I will miss him and his stories very much, but knowing I’ll be occupying the place he

once grew up is one of my most comforting thoughts. I must leave soon as my sister, Annie, and

Papa has already begun to prepare the carriage. Oh my, I can’t forget my ukulele! A hui hou, I

will write again soon.

September 1889

We have arrived in England! The air smells of coal and eggs. I will never forget the sight of thick

smoke rising from all corners of the harbor when we first came ashore. The sky has remained

grey since we got here, but I am quite fascinated by the way the British’s building fundament is

much larger than Hawai’i’s, and I mean this in every way. It seems there may be no such thing as

a breath of fresh air in London, but I have high hopes for finding the many different activity

outlets this land seemingly offers. After all, I am left quite inspired especially after visiting the

many galleries and concerts that London constantly has. I visited the Castles with my sister and

they are incredibly lavish and hold incredible grandeur. It was overwhelming to be around so

many people every day, but I am constantly learning so much. I wish it was easier to speak to

British royalty. They are seemingly untouchable, even from me.

Today makes the first week I have been attending my School Harrowden Hall, and it’s a lovely

location indeed. The countryside is much more refreshing than the city and I am excited to meet

more people in the new land who remind me of Mr. Stevenson and Papa in so many ways.

Through all this excitement and cultural shock, I know I must maintain considerable ingenuity

for the purpose I came here for; to save my Hawai’i. I have prayed day and night in hopes I

create a politically noticeable impression, especially since that failed when I did not have enough

time in London.

So far, the girls have been very welcoming! My skin seems to get paler by the day, but not nearly

as white as those native to Northamptonshire. I have become quite the spectacle in this town, but

nevertheless, I am making many friends. The sports here like croquet, and tennis is not as

exciting as those I experienced at home like canoe paddling and surfing, but I do very much

enjoy the slow and tender ballroom dance as the tempo is not too far off from Hula. I miss

Hawaiian food the most. I long for succulent Kalua pig and poi. The bland meats here just don’t

compare. I wish Mr. Stevenson or Aunt Kapiolani could put some in the letters they have sent

me.

January 1895

I have learned and grown so much from my time here, currently, I reside in a seaside village in

Brighton. I have moved here with my guardian Mr. Theophilus Davies, a very honorable man. So

much has changed, and not all of it for the better. I grow incredibly sick from both illness and

heartbreak and I continue the mourn the death of King Kalakaua who died a few years ago in

1891, but I am especially heartbroken to have received the latest news that my dearest friend Mr.

Robert Louis Stevenson has passed of an untimely death. Never did I think I wouldn’t be able to

have the pleasure of hearing his stories and seeing his face again. It angers me that I could not

have returned sooner to Hawai’i like I was supposed to, but I know the work and friendship ties I

have created here would have made him proud. I spend many of my days' painting, inspired by

the Celtic arts and my personal emotions. I am grateful to be in such a beautiful place, especially

when my state of mind is not. I have been learning a bit of the native Gaelic language, and my

meetings of the many people of this community have helped me raise awareness of my home. I

regularly send Queen Liliuokalani letters of the happenings in my life which is indeed

comforting. The Scottish and British arts have inspired me so much, and the people and I have

developed unbreakable camaraderie and understanding of one another, but I, unfortunately, fail

to assist in any political pull. I now pray that from the mass awareness I have spread the news of

my small island home will be shared with sympathy and in great measure. I hope it’s spoken

highly of the way Mr. Stevenson always did so, may he rest in peace. I now read the poem he

gave me when I was thirteen everyday. And as it brings me to tears, I have every faith he watches

over me now. You are forever in my heart Mr. Stevenson. A Hui Hou, Malama pono.

“Forth from her land to mine she goes,

The island maid, the island rose,

Light of heart and bright of face:

The daughter of a double race.

Her islands here, in Southern sun,

Shall mourn their Kaiulani gone,

And I, in her dear banyan shade,

Look vainly for my little maid.

But our Scots islands far away

Shall glitter with unwonted day,

And cast for once their tempests by

To smile in Kaiulani’s eye.”

- RLS

Sources Cited

Campsie, Alison. “The Scots-Hawaiian Princess Who Beguiled Robert Louis Stevenson.” News,

26 Dec. 2016, www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/the-scots-hawaiian-princess-who-beguiledrobert-

louis-stevenson-1-4325964.

Fahrni, Jennifer. “Princess Kaiulani Her Life and Times by Jennifer Fahrni.” Princess Kaiulani,

Her Life and Times, A Biography, www.thekaiulaniproject.com/about_princess_kaiulani.htm.

“Hawaiian Expressions.” HAWAIIAN EXPRESSIONS, www.mauimapp.com/moolelo/

hwnexprns.htm.

Hill, Richard J. “About Robert Louis Stevenson and Princess Ka'iulani.” 28 Apr. 2019.

Reid, Mindi. “ PRINCESS KA’IULANI…Rose of Two Worlds.” Princess Kaiulani,

www.electricscotland.com/history/women/wh36.htm.