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Flaxbourne--Frederic Weld--The earthquake--Port Underwood--The Wairau--Journey to Nelson--The Dillon Bells--The country round Nelson--School there--Nelson settlers--Major Richmond, Mr. Stafford, and others--Alfred Domett--His career--His "Ranolf and Amohia"--Bishop Selwyn--Letter from Sir William Denison--Return to Wellington--The Shan van Vocht--Wellington weather--Death of Colonel Wakefield--Epuni--British and Greek civilization--Left New Zealand--Sydney--Melbourne.
FREDERIC ALOYSIUS WELD was the son of Mr. Humphrey Weld of Chidiock, in Dorsetshire, and the nephew of Mr. Joseph Weld of Lulworth, owner of the famous racing yacht, the Arrow. The family was Catholic, and had always been so; but ever since the Reformation they had lived in much retirement and obscurity, contentedly accepting their exclusion from the public life of England, and devoting themselves to the management of a large estate and the care of numerous dependants of the same faith. If I was rightly informed by a priest of great intelligence and large experience--Father Bond--whom I met in Tasmania and afterwards in England, the Welds, owing to the obscure life which they led, did not mix much until recent years with the Catholic gentry and aristocracy--the Petres, Cliffords, Stourtons, Jerninghams, &c.--and hence, living simpler lives, remained sounder and stronger in
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physique than they. Latterly, Father Bond said, (in a conversation held nearly twenty years ago), the Welds had intermarried with all these families, and brought to them fresh blood and a kind of constitutional renewal. However this may be, Frederic Weld, with his clear blue eyes, curly light-brown hair, lithe well-knit figure, and honest resolute expression of face, was, when I knew him, a fine sample of the best type of Catholic aristocrat. He had, I think, no taste for controversy, though I remember hearing of an earnest argument on religion one evening between him and another friend, in which, according to Domett, Weld did not come off the worst. Also, if the conversation ever touched on the sufferings and disabilities of Catholics in time past, he was wont, seriously but without heat, to give his opinion on the injustice of the persecuting laws. Not long after I left Flaxbourne he bent his mind vigorously to the exploration of the province; discovered the pass at the head of the Wairau valley leading to the Canterbury district--Lake Tennyson and other lakes--and thus became known to the colonial and also to the home government. He was a sturdy Liberal, and would not accept from Governor Grey a seat in the nominee council of 1848; but when representative institutions came, he was elected by the people of his own district, and sat in the assembly for some years. In 1864, being raised to the premiership under Sir George Grey, he took the bold resolution, as is mentioned
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at a later page, of dispensing with the aid of British troops in the conflict with the Maoris; and his policy met with complete success. His merit was now recognised; he was nominated governor of Western Australia in 1869, and afterwards promoted to the charge of Tasmania: posts of no great difficulty, indeed, but highly honourable for one whose family had emerged, not so long before, from the dark shade of the penal laws. He was created a Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George, and the last public appointment which he held was that of the Straits Settlements, from 1880 to 1887. So long a stay in an unhealthy tropical climate must have been harmful to a constitution already severely tried; and Frederic Weld was taken from us in July 1891, leaving a name that in New Zealand at any rate, which he served so well, will surely never be forgotten.
On the 4th October 1848, leaving Port Nicholson, and launching out in the little cutter, the Petrel, which was navigated by two of Weld's men and himself, on the turbulent waters outside, we had a grand view of the snowy Kaikoras facing us across the straits. We steered for Cape Campbell, the headland of the north-east point of the south island, and then coasted along to Flaxbourne Cove, about eight miles to the southward. The station, a wooden building in two wings, with a kind of veranda connecting them, painted white, with stables, sheep-yards, &c., stood about a quarter of a mile from the beach. The surrounding country, which was well
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grassed and almost bare of trees, showed everywhere a white rock, much resembling chalk. At that time there were about 12,000 sheep on the run, which was the joint property of Weld and his cousins, Clifford and Vavasour, who were just then in England. In two small rushy lakes near the house there were teal; on the hills the small quail of the country (exactly like the quail of Europe, Weld said, only smaller) were fairly abundant, and in the swamps and lagoons near the sea were Paradise ducks of brilliant plumage, grey ducks, which resemble the English wild duck, spoon-bill ducks, and "earthquake birds." 1 These last three were difficult to shoot, being shy; but Weld, and I to some small extent, replenished the larder fairly well with teal and quail. And, indeed, the larder needed replenishing: the fare consisted of mutton chops and damper for breakfast; ditto for dinner, and ditto for supper. There was no milk or butter, but plenty of tea and claret, and abundance of sauces and pickles. The teal, therefore, which were superior in flavour, I think, to the English teal, were always acceptable.
The 16th October was a memorable day. The account of it given in the "Reminiscences" already quoted may here be extracted:--
"On the night (or rather 'morning') of the 16th October, between one and two A.M., the whole household was roused from sleep by the shock of an earthquake.
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It seemed to me in my dreams that a storm of wind was blowing--that it blew harder and harder--that it shook the very house--under which impression I awoke, and found myself being rocked violently from side to side in bed, like an infant in the cradle; not, however, by the powers of the air, but by the mysterious forces pent up within the breast of the earth. The bottles on a loft above our heads kept up an insane dance and clatter; every timber in the house creaked, groaned, and trembled; the dogs barked; and the shepherds (who slept in one wing of the house, Weld and I occupying the other), imagining the end of the world was come, rushed out of the house, and did not venture to return till daylight. Weld and I remained in the house, but could sleep little for the remainder of the night, owing to constant quiverings and slight movements of the earth. The sensation produced was singular and awful, its chief element being the feeling of utter insecurity, when that which we familiarly think of as the firm and solid earth was thus heaving and rolling beneath us. When it was light, we found that little or no damage had been done to the house; but outside, particularly near the banks of streams and in other low situations, there were long and deep cracks. It was not till some days afterwards that we learned how destructive the earthquake had been at Wellington. Two persons had been killed, and every house of stone or brick was thrown down. The shakings did not at once subside. On Sunday, six days after the earthquake, we walked to the top of
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the Hummock, a hill about 1000 feet high. Seated on the narrow conical summit we gazed on the sublime appearance of the lesser Kaikora entirely covered with snow. While we were thus intent there came a shock of earthquake, and we distinctly saw the top of the hill on which we sat heave to and fro."
My stay at Flaxbourne had now extended to three weeks, and although this visit to Nelson was only preliminary, and serious approaches were to be made later on, I felt that Domett might be surprised if week after week should pass without his hearing of my arrival, besides that inconvenience might possibly be caused to Weld. Hitherto the intercourse between us had been of a most friendly nature; we exchanged ideas and experiences on university subjects--we talked about yachting--we lent each other books. One of his text-books which he had brought with him from Fribourg was a history of philosophy by the Jesuit professor Freudenfelt. This book seemed to me to be more genially and lucidly written than any similar work that had been put into my hands at Oxford. However, the time was come when we must part. For me, the object was to be put on the Nelson track, and to follow it up to Nelson. Weld wished to help me in this, and at the same time to do some business of his own--what its nature was I forget, if I ever knew--with an old whaler of the name of Doherty living at Port Underwood. We embarked in the little Petrel on the 26th October, and after a fine-weather run of six hours and a half, entered Port Underwood. This
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is a well-sheltered harbour, and the town of Blenheim now stands there; but it is hemmed in by steep and barren hills, and there is no good land nearer than Waitohi or the Wairau Plain. Captain and Mrs. Doherty received us very hospitably, and we slept at their house. Next day we were taken to "Captain Cutter's Bay," where all the signs and tokens of a bad whaling season were apparent. On the 28th, resuming the direction of the Wairau, we crossed Port Underwood to Oyster Bay. Here Weld sent the Petrel round into Queen Charlotte's Sound through Tory Channel; he and I climbed the mountain facing us, and all the loveliness of the Sound came at once into view. Descending upon Moturangi we rejoined the Petrel, and coasted along "through bewitching fairylike scenes" 2 to Waitohi, or Picton.
Waitohi is at the extreme end of Queen Charlotte's Sound, the hills of which are everywhere abrupt, and the gullies everywhere V-shaped; here alone at Waitohi there is a piece of level land of about 600 acres, sufficient for the site of a small town. There was a Maori pah here, and the natives duly honoured us with their company; scarcely any houses of white people had yet been erected. On the morning of the 29th it was almost a dead calm. Weld and I, who both wished to visit the scene of the Wairau massacre, walked by the Tua Marina pass--steep hills bordered by deep swamp--into the Wairau valley. When nearly through the pass we were guided by the Maoris
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to the spot. It was merely the top of a green hill to the left of the path; no trace of conflict was visible. Here Captain Arthur Wakefield, the agent for the Nelson settlement, and Mr. Thompson, a magistrate, while endeavouring, supported by seventy Nelson settlers, to arrest the chiefs Rauperaha and Ranghihaiata for interrupting the surveyors, encountered resistance; shots were fired, most of the settlers ran away, and the lives of the gallant Wakefield, Mr. Thompson, and some twenty others were sacrificed. This was in 1843. From Massacre Hill we struggled through the deep swamps of the Wairau plain to the pah. Captain Doherty had come up the river from Port Underwood in his whale-boat, in which, next day, he rowed us some miles up the river to the "Big Bush," where there was a wretched ware. I think Weld's intention must have been to save me some walking. On the next day (31st October) Captain Doherty, as it was rainy, advised me to defer my start, but my friend could stay with me no longer; probably he had important business with Doherty at Port Underwood.
On the next day (1st November), being put on my way by a Maori called Enoch, I left the Big Bush, and gaining the higher and drier ground, strode with elastic step along the track. The sun shone brightly, my knapsack was on my back, and the great beauty of the valley cheered and excited my spirits. The river, which was about as large as the Rhone at Visp, and rushed, a violent torrent, along its stony bed, was in one respect
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more beautiful than the Rhone, in that it was bright and clear, not sullied by glacier mud. For several miles from the Big Bush the valley remained from three to four miles wide, afterwards gradually contracting. The mountains on each side, apparently of metamorphic rock and between two and four thousand feet high, were of noble and varied outline, and through the winding valleys which rent them large streams flowed down into the main river. The track sometimes passed through woods, in which the routing and grunting of the wild pigs were audible, but I did not see any. Proceeding thus for about twelve miles, I came to Dillon's 3 sheep station. The shepherd gave me tea, and I met in the house a Mr. Sweet, a Nelson settler, with whom I entered into conversation. He had just driven 1200 sheep from Nelson through the Black Bush, and established them on his run, twenty-seven miles higher up the valley. Presently he said that he was himself going back to Nelson the next day but one, and that if I would go with him he would be glad to show me the way, adding that he could lend me a horse. This friendly offer I was glad to accept.
On the next day (2nd November) we rode twenty-seven miles to Mr. Sweet's run. But he desired to search in the neighbouring gullies for timber, to use in the building of his new house, and from this and other causes we did not make a start till 6th November.
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After passing a deserted station of George Duppa's (thirty-nine miles) we came (forty-one miles) to the Branch River, and forded it, and at forty-seven miles reached the Wairau, and forded that also. Eight miles more brought us to Morse's upper ware (fifty-five miles), where we slept. Here the valley came down more from the eastward, and as this was not in the direction of Nelson, and the river besides emerged some miles higher up from a tangle of rough mountains, it was necessary to leave it and to strike off to the right. From Morse's upper ware, therefore, we plunged into the Black Bush, a wood consisting only of black birches, a dismal tree with small olive-green leaves, and black or dark-grey bark. The surface of this region was not hilly, but undulating, traversed by numerous small streams, each of which, there being no bridges or culverts, was converted by the traffic and the rain that had lately fallen into a deep bog or slough, which the horses disliked entering, and from which they sometimes dragged out their legs with great difficulty. After ten miles or more of this work the wood ceased, and we came out into the open valley of the Motupika, a tributary of the Motueka; which crossing, we entered a strip of bush, much less obnoxious than the former, and bringing us in about three miles to the Motueka valley. This, where the track crosses it, is open and grassy, but two miles higher up the mountains close in on either hand; their sides are clothed with a dark, continuous forest, and the river seems to lose itself in the tremendous
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depths of the "Blue Glen." If, as is likely, a good highway road or railway now runs through the Black Bush, the present Nelson settler will think I have been telling him a "traveller's tale"; but I can assure him that I have adhered strictly to facts. 4 After passing through the villages of Fox Hill and Wakefield, the second of which is in the Waimea valley, we descended that valley, where most of the Nelson settlers at that time had their country lands, to Blind Bay, at the head of which stands Nelson; and I was hospitably received at Mr. Sweet's house. This was on November 8, 1848. The Nelson people welcomed me among them with a heartiness and warmth which I could not have expected. Those who knew nothing about me seemed willing to help me to the best of their power, no less than those whose acquaintance I had already made. Among these last I have to include Mr. and Mrs. Dillon Bell. Francis Dillon Bell, who was at that time agent for the New Zealand Company at Nelson, was a man of charming and delightful manners, for which, I suppose, he was a good deal indebted to a French education. His position was difficult; for the Nelson settlement had been planted on a site which did not contain nearly enough good land to fulfil the company's pledges. This made some of the settlers restive and full of complaints; and all the excuses and promises which the agent's ready tongue
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and ingratiating ways could invent were required to pacify them. A measure of relief ad interim, by which the company gave up its own sections and other reserves, was carried out while I was at Nelson, and at Bell's request I assisted him in the manipulation of it. Ultimately, I believe, when possession could be had of the Wairau valley, all land claims upon the company, so far as Nelson was concerned, were fully satisfied. To the adroitness and untiring patience of Dillon Bell this happy result was largely attributable. His wife, Margaret Hort, whose father was the Rabbi at Wellington, performed, for an amateur, remarkably well on the piano, and had a voice of great richness and sweetness. I was much at their house when business or pleasure brought me to Wellington. She was not less intelligent than she was amiable, and to talk to her was a real pleasure. Margaret made an excellent wife to Dillon Bell; she followed him to Victoria and London; and preceded him to the grave about two years ago.
The country round Nelson is of singular loveliness. Like Athens, the town slopes towards the sea and the midday sun. "Blind Bay," though our coarse British perceptions have invested it with that ugly, even calumnious name, is hardly less beautiful than the Saronic Gulf. 5 Standing on the Fort Hill in the middle of the town, and looking westward, one saw a range of mountains stretching for twenty miles or
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more from south to north, apparently about 2000 feet high, and forming the western boundary of the bay. Through gaps in this range could be seen higher peaks beyond, usually capped with snow. Another such high peak appeared to the south-west; but the southern horizon was mostly filled with the ferny spurs and terraces which blocked seaward the greater part of the opening of the Waimea valley. East and south-east were seen the streets of the little town, and beyond them, generally glowing in sunlight, the turfy sides of the dome-shaped Dun mountain, 3000 feet high, with a few trees on its top, and patches of fern brightening its flanks. Farther south there was a gap, marking the valley of the Maitai, the mountain stream which ran through Nelson into the harbour, and affording, it was said, access to Pelorus Sound, though I never met with any one who had explored it. North of the gap rose two mountains close to each other, of rounded form, like two immense bee-hives, covered from bottom to top with dark forest, the height of which could not have been much less than that of the Dun mountain. The rest of the north-east horizon was filled with rocky and ferny ranges, ending in the cliffs of D'Urville's Island; due north stretched the blue waters of the bay. I have seen panoramas more beautiful, strictly speaking, than this--for instance the Lake and shores of Como from above Menaggio--but never one more humanly delightful and enchanting, when the softness and delicacy of the air, the availableness of much of
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the land in view for human needs, and the vastness of the area of vision, are all taken into consideration.
On the top of the Fort Hill there was a large wooden building, which had been used, I think, for a barrack; here it was decided that I should keep school. Hither the sons of the principal residents--the Swans, Elliotts, Martins, &c.--came to me; and I did the best I could for them. As may be supposed, none of them wanted Greek. For myself I lived in a small wooden three-roomed cottage, with an elderly woman, a Mrs. Currin, to keep house for me. But this refers to my later and longer visit. In November and December 1848, I was looking about me and making friends before settling at Nelson finally, which I could not do before returning to arrange various matters at Wellington.
Nearly all my Nelson acquaintances have passed away; but there are some of them for whom I still retain a very warm feeling. If in noticing them it were proper to attend to distinctions of social position, the first to be named should be Major Richmond, the resident magistrate--a benevolent and much respected gentleman. His son, Andrew, was a lad of about seventeen. Edward Stafford, a keen and able politician, one of the original Nelson settlers, living at a good house near the Port, was married to the daughter of Colonel Wakefield. She was shy and silent, but the sweet grave expression of her face, and the delicate hue of her complexion, accorded well with her innate refinement of nature. Stafford afterwards played a
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distinguished part in the political history of the colony; was Prime Minister for many years under Governor Grey; on resignation was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George; and now, if I mistake not, lives in London.
Dr. Monro, a person of much weight in the colony, was one of the original Nelson settlers. He was the uncle of the present Provost of Oriel. He was a man of much ability, and an effective public speaker; at the same time he was, I think, governed by that absorption in his own life--his own success--which is so common a trait in Scotchmen. Dr. and Mrs. Renwick, both about the same age as myself, were always friendly. The Redwoods were a Catholic family, belonging, I think, to Lincolnshire. The old man's fine countenance and massive frame gave him a look of distinction; but still more the beautiful Anne Redwood drew the stranger's eye. Consumption, alas! had marked her for its victim. Her brother, if I mistake not, is the present Catholic Archbishop of Wellington.
William Cautley, a Cambridge man, had a sheep-farm in the Waimea, eight or nine miles from Nelson. I stayed there with him once during the shearing time, and learned much concerning the less pleasant mysteries of sheep-farming. His black horse, which he called "Blackbird"--an animal steady-going but rather slow--was known everywhere. He mounted me, of course, and I remember one ride into the low moist plain bordering the Waimea River, where I first understood
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the magnificent possibilities of growth which are enclosed in the flax plant, Phormium tenax. Each clump of the plant had several tall flower-stalks, bearing reddish-purple flowers; and these, as well as many of the leaves, waved high above our heads as we sat on horseback. I never saw anything like the same exuberance of growth anywhere else.
Richard Newcome, a good-hearted rough soldier who had left the army and taken up land somewhere near Nelson, was a prime favourite with us all.
George Duppa, a handsome dark-eyed man, with a face like a Spaniard--descended from the Bishop Duppa of Charles II.'s time--one of the original settlers, had taken up land for sheep-farming in the Upper Motueka valley, and was said to have managed it with great ability and success.
I have already mentioned Domett's name more than once, nor did I ever meet him while I was at Nelson; but as one of the founders of this colony, and a man in many ways remarkable, he has titles to remembrance which must not be overlooked. He was born at Camberwell in 1811, and educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he became the friend of Robert Browning. He was of a passionate, fiery nature; full of suppressed energy, as proud as Lucifer, yet as loyal and affectionate a friend as ever breathed. He seems to have tried his hand at poetry during several years after leaving Cambridge, 6 but not much came of it. Mortified at this--too proud
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to complain--resolved that "they shall hear of me"--he bought land in New Zealand in 1842, and silently withdrew himself from amongst his friends to the new land beyond the sea. This silent flitting is what Browning refers to in the well-known lines:--
"What's become of Waring
Since he gave us all the slip,
Chose land-travel or seafaring,
Boots and chest, or staff and scrip,
Rather than pace up and down
Any longer London town?"
Again in "Time's Revenges" the poet speaks of the missing "friend over the sea":--
"I've a friend over the sea,
I like him, but he loves me.
It all grew out of the books I write;
They find such favour in his sight
That he slaughters you with savage looks
Because you don't admire my books."
And yet again, when writing the beautiful stanzas on Guercino's picture of "The Guardian Angel" at Fano, he thought of "Alfred" far away:--
"Where are you, dear old friend?
How rolls the Wairoa at your world's far end?
This is Ancona, yonder is the sea."
Like Clough, Domett had unhappily lost his early faith, but unlike Clough, he was no dreamer, no waverer, but a fiery resolute man of action, capable of making his weight felt and his will prevail. Had the emergency of some desperate peril arisen
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in the colony's affairs, Domett would have been the man to grapple with it and to master it. But what emergency could arise? France, though she had been treated with little friendliness at the time of Captain Hobson's proclamation of British sovereignty, yet, with a population not increasing, and considering the distance of Auckland from Marseilles, had little interest in pressing the claims which her great discoverers and surveyors would have entitled her to raise. Germany was not yet in the field; Russia and America were occupied elsewhere. The Maoris were brave; they even won victories over the troops; but the colonial vices were ever corrupting and weakening them more and more, and no man of sense could doubt how the contest would end. The military men blundered, but they must have succeeded in exterminating the Maoris at last. Fortunately that was not necessary; Frederic Weld became Premier of the colony in 1864, and took on his firm shoulders the responsibility of pacifying and dispersing the Maoris without extermination. He asked for no British troops, but opposed to the natives small bodies of picked bushmen, and in this way gradually wore them out. Domett looked upon the Maoris rather with Roman than with Christian eyes; and as the emergency, from what is called the Imperial point of view, was not really great, it was well that the settlement of it should fall into milder, but equally resolute hands.
After having held various offices in the Colonial
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service, including the Premiership, between 1848 and 1863, Domett returned to England in 1871. In the next year he published the poem by which he is best known, "Ranolf and Amohia." One might truly say, there is power in every line of Ranolf, but that does not imply unmixed praise. There may be a plethora--an exuberance of power--while a controlling taste, a guiding tact, may be wanting. Description and exposition are the great merits of the poem: the account sent home by the boy sailor of how they took the top-sails in, and how they reefed the stay-sail, is a wonderful piece of word-painting. The hero is wrecked on the New Zealand coast, and having been able to rescue a beautiful Maori girl, Amohia, when attacked by two ruffians of another tribe, he woos her and obtains her love. The ending is tragic. Ranolf after a time yearns for home and those thousand things that life in New Zealand can never give; he even ceases to love Amohia; and the deserted one, whether by a voluntary act or not one cannot tell, is swept away and drowned in passing a swollen river.
During my second stay at Nelson (February to October 1849), the missionary yacht of Bishop Selwyn, the "Southern Cross," came into port. The bishop was good enough to call on me and was very friendly. He was then in his prime, and a remarkably handsome man. Many years afterwards, not long before his death, when he was Bishop of Lichfield, I saw him again; he was then worn and
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faded, and the brightness of his face had passed away.
Not long after his visit the Fly corvette, Captain Oliver, looked in. The captain, whom I had known at Wellington, called at my cottage. With him was a young man in plain clothes, with fine regular features and a look of power, whom he introduced as Lieutenant Clarke. Clarke was an Engineer officer, who had lately come, if I remember right, from Tasmania, and was about to return there as aide-de-camp to the Governor, Sir William Denison. Charles Stanley was then at Hobart Town, in the capacity of Sir William's private secretary. Much talk naturally passed between me and Clarke about Charles and his brothers. The Fly went on her way, and I thought no more about the matter; but that visit was to change the whole course of my life.
Towards the end of October 1848 I received a letter from Sir William Denison, offering me the post of Inspector of Schools in the Colony of Tasmania. This was doubtless owing to the good offices of Charles Stanley and Andrew Clarke. I had little hesitation in accepting it, for though I was greatly attached to Nelson on account of its beauty, the prospect of the establishment of a high school was still remote, and my present emoluments were but scanty. Along with that from the Governor came an affectionate letter from the dear Charles Stanley, expressing the pleasure with which he looked forward to our soon meeting again. It would have
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been an overstrained refinement to refuse Sir William's offer, because Tasmania--or Van Diemen's Land as it was then called--had no representative government. A community which owed its very existence to the necessity under which the home government lay of transporting great numbers of criminals every year to some distant shore, was not at that time considered by the most fervid stickler for human rights fit to enjoy the blessings of freedom and representative government. There was a political opposition in the colony of course, as there always will be in every British colony, but it did not as yet demand the abolition of transportation and the concession of self-government. I think even Weld would have allowed that a man might serve under Sir William Denison with a politically easy conscience.
My Nelson friends showed me the greatest kindness, and seemed sorry to lose me. They gave me a farewell dinner at the "Wakatu," the principal inn in the place. I desire here to record their names, for few probably are now alive. 7
Some of those mentioned were not at the dinner, and again of some of those who were at the dinner I have forgotten the names.
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Embarking at Nelson on the 20th October, in a small coasting vessel, I had a long and stormy passage to Wellington. The skipper, known as French Jack, had been a whaler, and there were probably few things of which he was not capable. A gale came on in the Straits, and he decided to go for shelter into the Wairau. A vessel so small could run up the river and lie at the pah, until the skipper should pronounce that it was safe to put to sea again. A wretched Englishman named W------- then lived at the pah; he was a man of education, but a confirmed drunkard, and had a female companion who was called his Maori wife. One day, during the detention of the vessel, a disturbance arose somewhere among the wares, and going towards it, I saw a fight proceeding between W------- and French Jack; but as the former was drunk and the latter sober, it soon ended in W-------'s being knocked down and put hors de combat. A great korero or talk arose between the friends of the two men, partly in Maori partly in English, the drift of which seemed to be that W-------had found out that French Jack had been paying attentions to the Maori wife and had resented it, with the infelicitous result described. To be under the sailing orders of such a skipper was not pleasant, but it had to be endured, for another chance of getting to Wellington might not have offered for weeks. At last, on the 25th October, I reached Port Nicholson.
As this was to be my last stay at Wellington, I will set down here, without regarding the strict order
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of time, two or three incidents which occurred there, and add my valedictory remarks of fifty years back.
A gentleman named Gisborne, of whom I do not now remember anything, gave a large party on the 20th June, soon after I landed at Wellington. Most of the officers of the 65th were there. The bowl circulated freely, and at a late period of the evening, after other songs had been given, I was called upon for a song. I sang the "Shan van Vocht." It would not be easy to describe the enthusiasm of the meeting, particularly the young Irish officers of the 65th. A subaltern named M------- stood up on his chair, and clapped and cheered till he was hoarse. The senior officers present did not look so well pleased, and I heard afterwards that a gray-haired veteran had said to his neighbour, "Twenty-five years ago that young man would have got himself into trouble by singing that song." But, after all, the cheering meant nothing; it was merely the unexpected recall in a strange land to thoughts of home and country which set the young fellows off their balance; besides which, the conviviality of the party had reached an advanced stage.
At the end of June 1848 I stayed for a week with the Swainsons 8 in the Hutt valley, before going to live with my Kentish friends on the Porirua road. It was the dead of winter. So few trees are deciduous in New Zealand that this made little difference in the outward aspect of nature, but the excessive character of the climate revealed itself. During five days out of the
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seven of my stay it rained literally every day from morning to night. At the house, which stood in the midst of the thick bush beside the Hutt road, the wind was not very much felt; but it was not that it did not blow. An alternation of gales from the north-west and south-east constituted the ordinary Wellington weather in the winter and early spring. An accident which happened while I was there could scarcely have happened anywhere else. A heavy boat was lying on its side on the beach, and a poor man took shelter under its lee during a south-easterly gale. A blast more than commonly furious blew the boat over the poor fellow and killed him. On the other hand, the constant agitation of the air must produce a fresh and healthy atmosphere. No lingering miasma, no pestilent vapours, can grow to a head where there is never calm. I always noticed that the children born at Wellington were remarkably clear of eye and vigorous of aspect.
Colonel Wakefield, of whom I have already spoken, was a brother of the famous Gibbon Wakefield, and seconded him ably in all his plans for inducing the home government to extend British sovereignty over New Zealand. I have seen it stated that he made treaties with various chiefs for the purchase of 20,000 square miles, for which the consideration paid was, in money or goods, about £9000. This seems rather startling at first sight, but it admits of more justification than would at first appear. Colonel Wakefield knew perfectly well that the right of
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property of the loudest and angriest brawler among the chiefs with whom he bartered was of a very questionable character. It often, for instance, depended on this, that the tribe with which he was negotiating had lately attacked and dispossessed of its territory some other tribe, and pretended now to dispose of the same in full ownership, while all the time the dispossessed tribe had never renounced its claims, and was ever on the watch for an opportunity of recovering what it had lost. Yet for a time, say for a few years, the purchase which the Colonel was making might stand good; the emigrants who had come or were coming might be placed upon land; and as to future disturbance in title, the Colonel trusted partly to the natural tenacity of the Briton, partly to the necessity which he foresaw would fall on all governing persons in New Zealand to compromise in some way or other disputed claims between Maoris and settlers. Under such circumstances, how absurd would it have been for the Colonel to pay anything like such a price for the land that he bought as it would have fetched in a settled and law-abiding society! What he might be fairly expected to do was what he did--put into the hands of the negotiating chiefs such a relatively large sum of money as would satisfy them for the time, and induce them to go through with certain formalities which they were told were necessary in order to effect the transfer of the lands. If they afterwards found or thought that they had made a bad bargain, some way
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of satisfying them, without too much friction and without bloodshed, would doubtless, he hoped, be found. Regarded in this light, the purchasing proceedings of Colonel Wakefield, if the complicated circumstances of the time are considered, appear to me to be fairly capable of justification.
In September 1848 the Colonel's time was come, and he was struck down on the 15th of the month by a fit of apoplexy. This was
"after a hot bath at the Baron's. He was taken into one of the bathrooms and bled copiously; but the fit returned at intervals, and he lay speechless and nearly insensible. Slight improvement towards night."
On the 19th Colonel Wakefield died. The genuine sorrow of many of the Maoris at his loss could not be mistaken. Domett and I, walking that afternoon on the beach, met the old chief Epuni, a fine tattooed warrior of the ancestral Maori type, robed in mats, carrying his spear and his meri
; but instead of the mirthfulness and good humour which he usually exhibited, his face now bore the traces not of emotion only but of tears. For some time we stood beside each other and nothing was said; but when Domett made some light remark which would have called forth a smile the week before, Epuni raised his arm and his face skyward, a look of inexpressible grief passed over his features,
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and he simply said, "Wideawake! Wideawake!" 10 in a tone of heartfelt sorrow, and passed on.
The Governor sent a message to the Otaki natives requesting them to attend the funeral. They came in great numbers, the women having branches on their heads; a procession was formed, and in a sorrowing crowd of Maoris and Pakehas the good Colonel was borne to his grave.
I left New Zealand without seeing any of the vague hopes of the rise of a regenerated society within its borders fulfilled. Domett, the Wakefields, Frederic Weld, Dillon Bell, Duppa, and a few others of finer mould than the generality of mankind, had each turned to his special line of work, and no association on poetic or ideal lines was dreamed of. But emigration went on more briskly than ever, and in 1875 there were nearly fifteen times as many white colonists in the islands as there were in 1849. Trade had increased enormously; wealth had come, or was at hand; and Mr. Vogel, the Colonial Secretary, published an "Official Handbook" containing the contributions of various writers, and gloating over the picture of "prosperity" which they displayed.
This "prosperity" was not what I particularly cared about, either for myself or for the colony. The ardent poets, the gallant soldiers, the organisers of institutions, the scholars, the explorers of deserts and mountains--classes of English society of which more than a sample had come out to New Zealand
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under the auspices of the company--were fast dispersing different ways; and the pursuers of the ideal sought those shores no more. Trade, engineering, the exploiting of land, politics, and many other practical activities engrossed the energies of the thousands who soon flowed into New Zealand from the mother country, and still, though in diminishing streams, continue to flow. Ambition, of course, is not lacking as a motive there any more than in England, but its highest effort is to imitate the--sometimes questionable--imperialism of the mother country; and we have heard of New Zealand proposing to extend her protectorate over the island of Samoa!
In respect of natural beauty, and the general excellence of the climate, New Zealand may be compared with Lycia in Asia Minor. The engraving in Fellowes' "Asia Minor" of the wooded mountains round the city of Xanthus might pass for the beautiful heights behind Otaki, or some of the hills round Nelson. But how different the civilization of the two places! Science thrives in New Zealand; art flourished in Lycia. Two centuries hence, should English civilization and power be overthrown, a few ruined embankments, bridges, fragments of locomotives and dynamos, and ugly buildings of all sorts, would alone testify that here the English empire had been planted. But two thousand years ago Xanthus, with its Boule and its Gerusia, presided over the Lycian cities, and her citizens had such a passion for the beautiful, and
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such a reverence for her divinities, that the immortal sculptures in which their feelings were expressed have defied the lapse of time, and the Briton from the distant isle, "which the imperial Roman shivered when he named," 11 can present his capital city with no more precious gift than the exquisite tombs and bas-reliefs of Xanthus--if not for imitation, at least for wondering love. 12
I made no fortune in New Zealand, but as I had not dreamed of making any I was not disappointed. Nor did I in the end regret the time that had been spent. For New Zealand led on to Tasmania, and in Tasmania I was to find the answer to the questions which had never ceased to harass me since I grew to manhood--what, namely, is the ideal of human life, and what the discipline by which that life should be controlled.
It was the 2nd December 1849 before I found an opportunity of leaving Wellington for Australia. A schooner of about ninety tons, the William Alfred, a most uncomfortable vessel--with a propensity to bury her figure-head in the waves rather than rise over them, so that she was always wet forward--conveyed me in ten or twelve days to Sydney. After some trouble in getting through the Straits, we were abreast of Mount Egmont or Taranaki on the 6th and 7th December. The weather was fine, and that magnificent cone, 8000 feet high, seeming to rise almost from the shore, was
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a sight of unspeakable grandeur. The rest of the voyage was of no interest. The entrance through the Heads is striking, and the white city covering the banks of Sydney Cove was almost beautiful. It was, however, the hottest season of the year; wherever one turned one's eyes, yellow horizontally stratified sandstone cliffs lined all the indentations of the harbour, and the vegetation had a brown and burnt-up look. I was obliged to remain a fortnight at Sydney--at Petty's hotel--waiting for a steamer to sail for Melbourne. The heat was very great, and one or two "brickfielders" which occurred during the fortnight made it almost unbearable. One day, when I went in a little steamer two-thirds of the way to Paramatta to visit the Beit family, whom I had known at Nelson, I found the windows and persiennes of the house carefully closed; excluding the sun was the only way by which the inmates could gain a comparative sense of coolness. On or about the 2nd January 1850, the steamer sailed for Melbourne, and after putting in at Twofold Bay to take in hides, reached it in three days. Melbourne was then an insignificant town of four or five thousand inhabitants; the goldfields of California and Sydney, which were to lead to the discovery of the famous blue clay of Ballarat, had not yet been heard of. The place is associated in my mind with a very disagreeable "dust storm." I have often wondered whether the Victorians have been plagued with such visitations in later years. I had left the Yarra behind me one fine afternoon, and walked some way into the
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bush of thinly growing gum-trees on the north-west of the town. Suddenly the day grew overcast, and thinking that a heavy shower was approaching from the north-west, I began to retrace my steps. The dense cloud soon overtook me, borne on by a fierce wind; but instead of rain, it brought only dust from the interminable plains of the interior. Before I reached the hotel, I was in such a condition that I had to change every single article of clothing that I wore.