Henry French Poor was the eldest son of Henry Francis Poor and Caroline Paakaiulaula Bush; he was born in the Islands, June 8, .
“Henry F Poor was one of the most brilliant Hawaiians whose cradle ever rocked in these beautiful Islands. … He possessed the generous spirit of his race and the keen intelligence of his New England’s forebears.”
“As secretary to Colonel Iaukea on the Kalakaua embassy to the rulers of the world he covered himself with honors and his bright letters were published in the local papers.” (The Independent, Nov 29, 1899)
Poor hosted Robert Louis Stevenson on his visit to the Islands. On January 24, 1889, Stevenson arrived in Honolulu and spent the first six months of that year in the Hawaiian Islands (he later settled and lived in Samoa.)
On January 24, 1889, Stevenson arrived in Honolulu and spent the first six months of that year in the Hawaiian Islands (he later settled and lived in Samoa.)
“For the first few days the Stevenson party stayed with Henry Poor and his mother Mrs Caroline Bush, at 40 Queen Emma Street, Honolulu (24-27 January).”
“Then on 27 January 1889 they moved to Poor’s bungalow, Manuia Lanai [“a pavilion of the native pattern” (Brown)], at Waikiki, three miles east of Honolulu. In early February Stevenson decided to send the Casco back to San Francisco and stay on to work in Hawaii.”
“As a result he rented the house next to Henry Poor’s. This too was a one-storey ‘rambling house or set of houses’ in a garden, centred on a lanai, ‘an open room or summer parlour, partly surrounded with venetian shutters, in part quite open, which is the living room’”. (RLS Website)
“Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson has retired to ‘Manuia Lanai’ Mr. H. F. Poor’s sea-side place at Kapiolani Park, where he will probably
remain some time in quiet in order to complete some of the literary work he has undertaken. We are informed privately however, that it is the intention of Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson after this week to be ‘at home’ on Wednesday afternoons from 2 to 5 pm.” (Daily Bulletin, January 28, 1889)
On Oʻahu, Stevenson was introduced to the King Kalākaua and others in the royal family by fellow Scotsman, Archibald Cleghorn. Stevenson established a fast friendship with the royal family and spent a lot of time with his good friend King Kalākaua.
On February 3, 1889, there was a luau party at Manuia Lanai, where both Kalakaua and Liliuokalani were invited as special guests. At the height of the party, Mrs Stevenson presented Kalākaua with a golden pearl from the Tuamotus. (Ejiri) In giving the gift, Stevenson recited the following line of his sonnet (Daily Bulletin. Feb 4. 1889):
The Silver Ship, my king, – that was her name
In the bright islands whence your fathers came –
The Silver Ship, at rest from wind and tides,
Below your palace, in your harbour rides;
And the sea-farers sitting safe on the shore,
Like eager merchant, count their treasures o’er.
One gift they find, one strange and lovely thing,
Now doubly precious, since it pleased a king.
The right, my liege, is ancient as the Lyre,
For bards to give to kings what kings admire.
‘Tis mine to offer, for Appollo’s sake;
And since the gilt is fitting, yours to take.
To golden hands the golden pearl I bring:
The Ocean jewel to the Island King.
“The feast was purely Hawaiian there being no foreign dish upon the table. Aside from pig, fish, and fowls, roasted underground, were many strange edibles: pu-pu, opihi, two kinds of opae, koelepalau, and kulolo, taro and sweet potato poi, besides others, all beautifully arranged upon a bed of fern leaves.” (Daily Bulletin, Feb 4, 1889)
In the Islands, the renowned author found time for writing, completing The Master of Ballantrae and The Wrong Box and starting others during his short stay.
Stevenson visited Kalaupapa (shortly after Damien’s death) and later wrote of the good work of Father Damien (now Saint Damien.) He also travelled to Kona on the Big Island (the setting for most of his short story “The Bottle Imp.”)
Henry French Poor died in Honolulu on November 28, 1899 and is buried at O‘ahu Cemetery.