Father Joseph Damien, a Roman Catholic missionary to the Sandwich Islands, devoted the last 16 years of his life to the leper village of Kalawao on the island of Molokai. He eventually contracted leprosy himself in 1884 and died of the disease in 1889. After his death, Father Damien and his work became quite well-known, prompting Presbyterian Reverend H. B. Gage to write to Reverend Dr. Hyde, then in charge of the Presbyterian missions throughout the islands, asking him for a report of the life, character and service of Father Damien, for whom a monument was to be erected. Dr. Hyde responded with a private letter, dated August 2, 1889, which Gage published in the Sydney Presbyterian, a church periodical. Hyde's letter described Damien as "a coarse, dirty man, headstrong and bigoted," and asserted that Damien "did not stay at the leper settlement (before he became one himself), but circulated over the whole island (less than half of which is devoted to lepers).." Additionally, according to Hyde, Father Damien "had no hand in the reforms and improvements inaugurated..was not a pure man in his relations with women, and the leprosy of which he died should be attributed to his vice and carelessness." This letter so infuriated Stevenson, then residing in the islands in search of health, that the wrote this seething response, first printed, according to Prideaux, in The Australian Star, May 24, 1890.
The present edition also contains Mr. Clark's own notes (printed) re the controversy
. [Beinecke 506].