Isaak Iselin in Hawaiʻi, 1807
To describe members of the ali'i, Iselin uses terms such as «king», «queen» and even the orientalistic «sultana». He also labels the two ali'i–women as ladies, translating their rank in Hawaiian society to something vaguely similar in the AngloAmerican world. The use of the word «sin» signifies the imposition of a Christian concept onto Hawaiian culture.
Iselin mentions eating prohibitions, which were a part of the kapu–system, in which numerous foods as well as activities were restricted for distinct groups of society (e.g. women), often for a given time. They also applied to the king.
The (in Iselin's eyes) extremely embarrassing incident of the two noblewomen was not deemed publishable. Self–censorship is an important factor in understanding Iselin's writing: in general, it applied particularly to issues relating to sexuality and nudity.
Note that to be able to climb back into a canoe fully clothed requires physical strength and good coordination, and thus the noblewoman's actions may undermine Iselin's claim of inebriation.
By writing about Hawaiians, Isaak Iselin differentiated discursively between ali'i and makaʻāinana. The former were portrayed as individuals with agency, with their names often recorded; the latter were a group with collective behaviours and practically no individual agency.
Through Hawaiian Eyes II – Comment
«This morning the king came on board
again and dined with us, no upon cheese, beef
& cabbage, for to eat pork with us would be a capital
sin; he is fond of tea and coffee; and knows as
well as several of his attendants perfectly to handle
knife & fork. No trade yet the king seems silent
& can not fancy many of our articles.
Wednesday July 1.
After dinner were fav[ore]d with the visit of the
two sultanas who are sisters and ladies
of an enormous size; their stay was short but
their departure was marked by a trifling accident
for on stepping in the canoes one of the queens
who had taken made too free with a bottle
of gin slipped her foot and fell in the water, where
notwithstanding her ample calicoe gown she
soon regained the canoe.»