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George also related to me the dreadful tragedy of the ship "Boyd;" 1 and horrible as these relations were, I felt a particular interest, almost amounting to pleasure, in hearing them related by an eye-witness; one who had been an actor in those bloody scenes which I had before read of: narratives which from ray very childhood had always possessed particular charms for me; and at this time I was not only looking on the very spot the hero of my imagination, Cook, had trod, but was hearing the tale from one who had actually seen him; and was listening to every particular concerning the transactions of Marion and his men, as though they had but just taken place.
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Even in the dreadful destruction of the "Boyd," George laid the blame entirely on the English, and spoke with great bitterness of the ill-treatment of Philip, the native chief, who came as passenger in the ship. He described, and mimicked his cleaning shoes and knives; his being flogged when he refused to do this degrading work; and, finally, his speech to his countrymen when he came on shore, soliciting their assistance in capturing the vessel, and revenging his ill treatment. Over and over again our friend George, having worked up his passion by a full recollection of the subject, went through the whole tragedy. The scene thus pourtrayed was interesting although horrible. No actor, trained in the strictest rules of his art, could compete with George's vehemence of action. The flexibility of his features enabled him to vary the expression of each passion; and he represented hatred, anger, horror, and the imploring of mercy so ably, that, in short, one would have imagined he had spent his whole life in practising the art of imitation.
I frequently conversed with George upon
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the subject of religion, and from what he told me I found that the natives had not formed the slightest idea of there being a state of future punishment. They refuse to believe that the good Spirit intends to make them miserable after their decease. They imagine all the actions of this life are punished here, and that every one when dead, good or bad, bondsman or free, is assembled on an island situated near the North Cape, where both the necessaries and comforts of life will be found in the greatest abundance, and all will enjoy a state of uninterrupted happiness. A people of their simple habits, and possessing so little property, have but few temptations to excesses of any kind, excepting the cruelties practised by them in war, in which they fancy themselves perfectly justified, and the tyranny exercised by them over their slaves, whom they look upon as mere machines. There is in fact but little crime among them, for which reason they cannot imagine any man wicked enough to deserve eternal punishment. This opinion of theirs we saw an
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illustration of one Sunday, when one of the missionaries paid us a visit.
The ceremony of all assembling to public worship astonished the natives greatly, though they always behaved with the utmost decorum when admitted into the house where the ceremony takes place. On the day in question the minister endeavoured to explain the sacred mysteries of our religion to a number of the chiefs who were present. They listened attentively to all he said, and expressed no doubts as to its truth, only remarking that "as all these wonderful circumstances happened only in the country of the white men, the great Spirit expected the white men only to believe them." The missionary then began to expatiate on the torments of hell, at which some of them seemed horrified, but others said, "they were quite sure such a place could only be made for the white faces, for they had no men half wicked enough in New Zealand to be sent there;" but when the reverend gentleman added with vehemence that "all men" would be condemned,
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the savages all burst into a loud laugh, declaring "they would have nothing to do with a God who delighted in such cruelties; and then (as a matter of right) hoped the missionary would give them each a blanket for having taken the trouble of listening to him so patiently."
I cannot forbear censuring the missionaries, inasmuch as they prevent the natives, by every means in their power, from acquiring the English language. They make a point of mastering the native tongue as quickly as possible, and being able to give their whole time and attention to it, this is easily accomplished. It is of importance that they should do so, otherwise they could not carry on the duties of the mission; but by thus engrossing the knowledge, they obtain great influence over the minds of the natives. We ourselves were sadly puzzled by a correspondence we had with two native chiefs, who had been taught to read and write by some of the society; but their acquirements being in their native language, were of no possible use. The difficulty of teaching them English would not
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have been greater, and then what stores of information and improvement might not their instructors have laid open to them.
We had passed some months here, and were beginning to look out for the return of our brig, to take us again into civilised society; when we were once more thrown into alarm by a threatened invasion. A rumour was circulated in the village, that Shunghie, who now lay at the point of death, had declared that he would make one last glorious effort before he expired. He was resolved (it was reported) to collect his warriors, overcome George and his followers, possess himself of Ko-ro-ra-di-ka, and die upon the conquered territory of his enemy; and I had no doubt that in his moments of delirium such had been his exclamations, as it had always been one of his favourite projects. When this was reported to George, he immediately came to us, and with a most doleful countenance told us we must take care of ourselves; for, if the report proved true, he was much too weak to protect us. This certainly caused us some alarm, but, fortunately for us, a good sized
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whaler, "the Marianne," was then lying at anchor in the port, having arrived but a few days previously. The presence of a ship, all over the world, is felt as a protection to Europeans, as in case of danger it is a sure place of refuge.
King George sent off his messengers in every direction to inform his friends and dependants of the threats uttered against him by Shunghie, and the next day eight large war canoes, filled with warriors, came to his assistance. They landed at some distance from the beach, and, as it was late in the day, they would not make their public entree till the next morning; for the New Zealanders are very fond of giving a grand effect to all their public meetings. I determined to pay them a visit, to witness the ceremonies of the night bivouack, which proved a most picturesque scene, and wild and beautiful in the extreme. Their watch fires glanced upon the dark skins of these finely formed men, and on their bright weapons. Some groups were dancing; others were lying round a fire, chanting wild songs, descriptive of former wars; whilst the
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graver elders sat in a circle, and discussed the present state of affairs. All were delighted to see me, and each group offered to share their fire and provisions with the "white visitor," as they termed me.
The next morning these auxiliary forces were seen descending the hills to our village; and, in order to return the compliment, we all went in our best array to receive them. There were upwards of two hundred athletic, naked savages, each armed with his firelock, and marching with the utmost regularity. The chiefs took the lead. The alarm such a sight might have created, was dissipated by the certainty that they came as our protectors. I even imagined their countenances were not so ferocious as usual; but as they approached near to our party, the usual sham fight began, accompanied by the war dance, and although I expected it, and indeed had come for the purpose of witnessing it, it was conducted with so much fury on both sides, that at length I became quite horrified, and for some time could not divest myself of the feeling that our visitors were playing false, so closely
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did this mock combat resemble a real one. The dreadful noises, the hideous faces, the screeching of the women, and the menacing gestures of each party, were so calculated to inspire terror, that stouter hearts than mine might have felt fear. When the tumult subsided, the elder chiefs squatted down, and had the long talk usual on these occasions.
I was much delighted to recognise among these chiefs, one I had known at Sydney. During his residence in that city, I had permitted him to remain in my house, and the few presents which he had requested on his return to his own country I had provided him with, and sent him off delighted and happy, and never expected to behold him again. The moment I approached he recollected me, jumped up from the "council," ran up to me, hugged me in his arms, and rubbed noses so forcibly with me that I felt his friendship for some time, besides being daubed all over most plentifully with red ochre, which he, being then on a warlike and ceremonious visit, was smeared with from head to foot.
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When my savage friend (whom we used to call Mr. Tookee) had overcome his first burst of delight at seeing me, and had literally left off jumping for joy, he introduced me to his father, Mr. De Frookee, the chief of this tribe, a very fine specimen of an old New Zealander, who was (I found) highly respected for his integrity and benevolence. His eyes overflowed with tears when he heard I was the person who had shown such kindness to his son at Sydney. I soon felt quite "at home" with the old chief, and experienced the good effect of having kept my word with this uncultivated savage. I had, at the time I presented him with the gifts, been much laughed at by my acquaintances at Sydney for putting myself to such unnecessary expense; but, from the gratitude he displayed for the trifling services I had then rendered him, I felt assured he and his companions would do all in their power to protect me from every danger.
A long discussion was now carried on, one speaker at a time occupying the oblong space round which the warriors sat, and the more animated the debate, the faster ran the speaker
A New Zealand War Speech
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to and fro, flourishing his hatchet in a most dexterous manner. The instant one speaker finishes, another starts up to answer him; but previous to rising they throw a mat or blanket over their shoulders, and arrange it most tastefully around them; and, as their attitudes are all striking and graceful, and a great part of the figure is left exposed, it forms a study for an artist, well worth his going many miles to witness, and invariably reminded me of the fine models of antiquity.
As a painter, I conceive that this must have been the great secret of the perfection to which the Greek and Roman sculptors brought their works; as they constantly contemplated the display of the human form in all its beauty in their various gymnastic exercises, which enabled them to transfer to marble such ease and elegance as we, living in an age of coats and breeches, never shall be able to rival.
After the important subjects had been settled by the elders, the young men assembled without their weapons, and began another kind of sham fight, one grappling with another, till hundreds of them were locked in each
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other's arms, and were flung in heaps in every direction. After they were tired of this pastime, a regular ring was formed, and a wrestling match began, which was carried on in as regular and fair a manner as a boxing match in our own country, and as much skill and cunning were displayed in the art of throwing, as the greatest connoisseur would desire. I was pleased, also, to observe, that, whatever happened (and some most severe throws and blows passed), nothing could disturb their good humour.
This party, having remained for seven days on our beach, and not hearing any thing more of our intended invaders, their provisions also becoming rather scarce, took leave in order to return to their own district, placing scouts to give them quick intelligence of the movements of the enemy.
A few days after the departure of this friendly tribe, a "King's ship" of eighteen guns arrived in the Bay; consequently all our fears of an immediate invasion were over. No sooner had she cast anchor than our friend George came to us, expressing the greatest
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anxiety to visit King George of England's warship, and requesting we would accompany him, which we readily agreed to do; and he left us to adorn himself for the occasion: soon after he re-appeared in great state. A very splendid war-mat was thrown over his shoulders; his hair was dressed, oiled, and decorated with feathers, and his person was plentifully covered with red ochre: he appeared a very fine-looking fellow: his mother, his three wives, and all his sons and daughters were dressed in equal magnificence, and accompanied him.
In this state we went off to visit the vessel; but the moment I came alongside, I repented my being there; for the rude and churlish manner in which we were received distressed me considerably. In the first place, an order was given that none but the chief himself should be allowed to come on board; consequently his wives and daughters were obliged to remain in the canoe. The captain spoke only a few words to George, who was allowed to remain but a few minutes in the cabin; on getting up to take leave, George took off his fine war-mantle and presented it to the
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captain; but, receiving no other covering in return for his gift, he went on shore naked! The officers of the vessel behaved differently: they conducted us all down into the gun-room, where they treated us most kindly, and paid every attention to our friend George, whose dignity was deeply wounded by the cool and contemptuous behaviour of the captain.
How greatly is it to be regretted that some arrangements are not made by our government at home, and that there are not orders given to commanders of ships of war touching here, to pay attention to the chiefs, and to make some trifling presents amongst them; for there never were a people more anxious to cultivate a friendly intercourse with British subjects than the inhabitants of New Zealand: and yet there is scarcely a government vessel that puts into port here but the natives receive some insult, though they are sent for the express purpose of supporting the dignity of the English nation, and to cultivate the amicable feelings of the chiefs.
When a "King's ship" comes to anchor, the chiefs (with all the glee of children going to
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a fair) collect together their wives, children, and friends, and pay a visit to the "fighting ships," to see King George's warriors (as they call them): when they come alongside, they are kept off by an armed sentry; and, after a long parley, they are informed the chief may come, but his family and friends must not. In this case, the natives generally spit at the vessel, and, uttering execrations on their inhospitality, return on shore.
One of the savage chieftains who accompanied us to the vessel in question, on our way back remarked, "that the white warriors were afraid of admitting them, though they were unarmed and but a few; while the warriors in the ships were many and armed with their great guns."
Living entirely amongst these people so long as I had done, I felt the absurdity of such conduct, and the folly of treating them so harshly. If ever individuals are so situated as to need either the esteem or the confidence of savages, they must bear with their prying and childish curiosity, and not be afraid of treating them too kindly; by this means they
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become the quietest and gentlest creatures in the world; but if treated with contumely, and their wives and families repulsed from your ship, they become dangerous, vindictive, and cruel neighbours, as many a dreadful deed which has taken place in this vicinity will fully prove.
The South Sea whalers are the ships the natives are the most anxious to see on their coasts; and it is the crews of those vessels who have, in a manner, civilised these hardy islanders. Capt. Gardiner, of the "Marianne" (the vessel now in the harbour), is the oldest person in that trade; and he informed me, that not longer than twenty years back scarcely any vessel would dare to touch at New Zealand; and when, from particular circumstances, they were obliged so to do, they kept their boarding-nettings up, and kept a strict guard night and day: their fears arose from a want of knowledge of the disposition of the people. The vessels frequenting the island use no precautions now: hundreds of natives are permitted to crowd on board each ship; and no accident has ever occurred from
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this mode of treatment. But when a ship of war arrives here for the first time, the precautions taken are, to arm the row-guard with cutlasses and pistols, and to harass the crew with constant watching; while the only enemy that exists is in their own imaginations. To the courage and enterprise of the commanders of whalers all credit is due for working the rapid change in these once bloody-minded savages, and forming safe and commodious harbours for their vessels to refit in: this have they done in a part of the world lately looked upon with horror. What credit soever the missionaries may take to themselves, or try to make their supporters in England believe, every man who has visited this place, and will speak his mind freely and disinterestedly, must acknowledge they have had no share in bringing about this change of character; but, on the contrary, they have done all that in them lay to injure the reputation of the whaler in the estimation of the natives. Hitherto they have not succeeded: their want of hospitality and kindness to their own countrymen raises a strong dislike to them in
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the minds of these unsophisticated people. According to their simple notions of right and wrong, they think the want of hospitality an unpardonable offence, and that the counsel or advice of a man who shuts his door against his neighbour is not worthy of being attended to.
I will give the reader one more anecdote of these men, who are sent out to set an example of the beauty of the Christian faith to the unenlightened heathens. A few weeks since, the festival of Christmas took place; and Englishmen, in whatever part of the world they chance to be, make a point of assembling together on that day, our recollections then being associated with "home" and our families, uniting to spend that day in mutual congratulations and wishes for happiness. For some time previous to its arrival, the captains of the two whalers and myself had been deliberating where we should spend this social day; and it was finally settled that we should cross the bay to Tipoona, a beautiful and romantic spot, the residence of an intelligent chief, called Warri Pork, and an Englishman,
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named Hanson. Near this was a church-missionary establishment; and at this Englishman's house we determined we would spend the day. The captains of the two whalers then in the harbour joined our party; and as every one contributed his share towards our pic-nic feast, the joint stock made altogether a respectable appearance.
We proceeded to Tipoona in two whale-boats: it was a most delightful trip, the scenery being strikingly beautiful. The village of Ranghe Hue, belonging to Warri Pork, is situated on the summit of an immense and abrupt hill: the huts belonging to the savages appeared, in many places, as though they were overhanging the sea, the height being crowned with a mighty par. At the bottom of this hill, and in a beautiful valley, the cottages of the missionaries are situated, complete pictures of English comfort, content, and prosperity; they are close to a bright sandy beach: a beautiful green slope lies in their rear, and a clear and never-failing stream of water runs by the side of their enclosures. As the boats approached this lovely spot, I
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was in an extasy of delight: such a happy mixture of savage and civilised life I had never seen before; and, when I observed the white smoke curling out of the chimneys of my countrymen, I anticipated the joyful surprise, the hearty welcome, the smiling faces, and old Christmas compliments that were going to take place, and the great pleasure it would give our secluded countrymen to meet us, in these distant regions, at this happy season, and talk of our relatives and friends in England.
My romantic notions were soon crushed; our landing gave no pleasure to these secluded Englishmen: they gave us no welcome; but, as our boats approached the shore, they walked away to their own dwellings, closed their gates and doors after them, and gazed at us through their windows; and during three days that we passed in a hut quite near them, they never exchanged one word with any of the party. Thus foiled in our hopes of spending a social day with our compatriots, after our dinner was over we sent materials for making a bowl of punch up the hill to the
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chiefs, and spent the remainder of the day surrounded by generous savages, who were delighted with our company, and who did every thing in their power to make us comfortable. In the course of the afternoon, two of the mission came up to preach; but the savages were so angry with them for not showing more kindness to their own countrymen, that none would listen to them.
I have visited many of the Roman Catholic missionary establishments; their priests adopt quite a different line of conduct: they are cheerful and kind to the savage pagan, and polite and attentive to their European brethren; they have gained the esteem of those they have been sent to convert; they have introduced their own language amongst them, which enables them to have intercourse with strangers; and, however we may differ in some tenets of religious belief, we must acknowledge the success of their mission. They have brought nearly the whole of the Indian population in South America into the bosom of their church; and their converts form the greater part of the people. Notwithstanding
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the numerous church and sectarian missionaries sent from England, I never met with one Indian converted by them. I have attended mass in an Indian village; a native priest performed the ceremony, and the whole congregation (except myself)) were of his cast and complexion: and, it is worthy of remark, that in Peru, and some of the most populous provinces, a pagan is scarcely to be found,
We now heard that Tetoro (one of the most powerful chiefs in this part of the island,) had taken offence, and had sent a defiance to King George, saying he intended coming to seek revenge, accompanied by a strong body of warriors; and the "herald" who brought this proclamation informed us that the English settlers were to be attacked and plundered also.
We had every reason to fear this might prove a more calamitous affair than any we had yet experienced; as George immediately collected all his family and dependents, and took his departure for the Cower-Cower river (the residence of De Kookie, the chief who had come to his assistance against Shunghie's
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attack), leaving behind only a few slaves; thus a second time were we left to our own resources on Ko-ro-ra-di-ka Beach. George and his followers were too much scattered: some were trading with the ships, others were distributed in various districts, attending to their agricultural pursuits. Thus separated, each might become an easy prey to any of the powerful chiefs; but, were they united, they would be too strong for any of the tribes: unfortunately the hope of gain made them risk so great a danger. At this period, too, there was not a single vessel in the bay to protect us. The known partiality of all the tribes for Europeans was the only consolation we had; and we endeavoured to cheer each other with this hope, under what in reality might be considered very appalling circumstances.
After enduring this state of suspense and anxiety for several days, and no enemy appearing, we determined to pay a visit to the camp of the combined army of our friends; which would, at the same time, gratify our own curiosity, and give them a degree of satisfaction; as it would prove to them that we were
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not afraid of venturing amongst them, even in times of danger. We accordingly prepared the whale-boats to proceed up the Cower-Cower river; and, as I had never been there before, the present afforded an excellent opportunity for exploring that picturesque spot.
At the top of the Bay of Islands, two rivers disembogue, the Wye Catte and the Cower-Cower: they are both small but beautiful streams. It was early in the morning when we started: the dewy mist rose from the unruffled bosom of the river like the gradual lifting up of a curtain, and, at length, displayed its lofty sides, covered with immense trees, the verdure extending to the very edge of the water: all was quiet, beautiful, and serene; the only sounds which broke the calm were the wild notes of the tooe (or New Zealand blackbird), the splashing of our own oars, or the occasional flight of a wild duck (or shag), disturbed by our approach.
We rowed our boat many miles without seeing the slightest vestige of any human inhabitants or of cultivation: all appeared
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wild and magnificent as if just fresh from the hands of nature; and it failed not to lead the mind up to the contemplation of the Creator. It seemed utterly impossible to reconcile the idea that such lonely, romantic, and sequestered scenes could conceal hordes of savage cannibals, or that the tranquillity of this very place would soon be exchanged for the noise and tumult of savage warfare. We soon reached the village where the coalesced chiefs had taken up their station: they had fortified their position, and were waiting the approach of the enemy. No sooner, however, was our arrival known, than all came running down tumultuously to give us welcome: all business was laid aside to greet our landing; and we were conducted with great ceremony into the centre of the camp.
We found eight hundred warriors, who (to use a sea phrase,) were "all at quarters." The magic pen of Scott might here have been well employed to describe "The Gathering." The chiefs sat apart from their followers in deep consultation: we did not approach near enough to hear their discussion; but it
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ended by their paying us a high compliment for coming amongst them. The young and active were busily employed in constructing a strong stockade fort to annoy the enemy as he approached; others were preparing their weapons, or practising the use of arms.
The village itself was an object of extreme interest; and, after contemplating the warlike preparations of the chiefs, we turned with pleasure to gaze on the beauty of the surrounding country. In a plain, surrounded by high hills, with a beautiful stream of water meandering through it, was situated a group of huts; and many acres of cultivated ground, neatly fenced and cleared, encircled them. Their harvest, consisting of Indian corn, potatoes, and kumera, was now ready for gathering, and all the women were busily occupied. As I from an eminence looked down upon their labours, I could almost fancy I was in Italy, and beheld the peasantry at work in their vineyards: but the adjacent camp and naked warriors soon dissipated the illusion!
On approaching the village we occasioned
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quite a commotion: the girls brought forth baskets filled with cooked kumeras and peaches; while the men erected a tent to screen us from the rays of the sun: indeed, all seemed anxious to do something that should prove acceptable to us. We had brought with us sufficient provision for a good dinner, which was soon cooked; and we invited them to partake of our fare, and a very merry and noisy group we formed. After our repast, the chief warriors took us round their camp, and exhibited to us all their means of defence, and the different works they had thrown up. Where the use of artillery is unknown, the principles of fortification are simple, and the New Zealanders seem to possess a clear notion of the art: necessity being with them the mother of invention.
In the direction where the approach of the enemy was expected, they had erected a strong square stockade, to molest the army; while the women and children retired to the principal fort, which was very strong, and situated at the summit of the highest hill: it had a breast-work all round it about five feet
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high, and a broad ditch beyond that. The fortress was large enough to contain several hundred men: it had a spacious glacis in front; and every approach to it was so completely exposed, that we thought even a body of regular troops, without artillery, would have found it very difficult to storm; and to the New Zealand warrior it seemed a wonderful and impregnable work.
The chief who had the command of this fort was our old acquaintance Kiney Kiney, a younger brother of King George's, who seemed proud of this honour, and appeared highly delighted in showing us round, and explaining every thing to us; even condescending to ask our advice as to any means of adding strength and security to the works. He listened attentively to all our observations; and if he approved any alteration we suggested he ordered it instantly to be carried into effect. I noticed a thicket too near the fort, and told him I thought it might shelter a body of men, and before I left the par it was reduced to a heap of ashes. Sentinels were posted in every direction to give notice of the
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approach of an enemy. Mr. Kiney Kiney (as he was sometimes called,) was splendidly apparelled on this occasion: he had, by some means or other, become possessed of a light infantry sabre, with all its paraphernalia of belts and buckles; this was girded round his naked body, which gave him a very gallant air; and, I have no doubt, was the envy and admiration of all his followers.
After we had seen and approved all their preparations, we were treated with a grand review and sham fight: they divided themselves into two parties; one half the number took their station on a hill, and lay concealed; the other party crouched on the plains to receive the attack, all kneeling on one knee, with their eyes fixed on the spot whence they expected the rush of their pretended enemies. In a moment, the concealed party burst forth from their ambush, with a tremendous and simultaneous shout, and the mock battle began with great fury.
Nothing in nature can be imagined more horrible than the noise they make on these occasions. I have heard, under circumstances
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of some peril, the North American Indian war-whoop; but that is trifling compared with it, and their countenances are hideous beyond description. My principal astonishment on these occasions was, that they did not actually kill each other, or, at least, break each other's bones; for they seemed to strike with all the fury and vigour of a real engagement; but they kept such exact time, that at a moment's notice they all left off, and began joking and laughing, except a very few, whom I observed to sneak away to wash off some bloody witness, or to put a plaster on their broken skin.
After these military and gymnastic exhibitions, they formed a grand assembly, and the chiefs, as usual, made long speeches in rotation. This rude parliament is one of the most beautiful features in savage government: all public matters are discussed openly; grievances are complained of, and justice is summarily administered.
Thus, after spending a pleasant day, we rose to depart, and took an affectionate leave of our entertainers, who were most anxious that we should remain longer; but we thought
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we had better return to Ko-ro-ra-di-ka, where our property had been left. Most of the chiefs accompanied us to our boats; and, after exhibiting various testimonies of their friendly feeling towards us, they suffered us to depart.
The day following this visit, we were alarmed by the appearance of two war-canoes crossing the bay: we waited their approach with considerable anxiety: what few valuables we had with us, we concealed about our persons; but, as they neared our beach, our fears subsided, on finding there were only a few men in each. Three chiefs (unarmed,) landed, whom we found to be Rivers and two of his near kinsmen, the most dreaded persons of our expected invaders; but they immediately informed us they came on a mission of peace, and, for that reason, had come to us unattended and unarmed.
We were most happy to hear this, and to find hostilities were again likely to be deferred. Though we well knew the character of these men, and that they were capable of the most treacherous acts, and the deepest
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dissimulation, yet, their thus throwing themselves into our power, with the olive branch in their hands, was irresistible; and we received them with all the pomp we were capable of. We ordered a pig to be killed for the feast, and requested them to remain for that night. In order to do honour to our noble guests, and credit to our friend and ally King George, we produced all the luxuries we had; and, in addition to the pork, piles of pancakes and molasses were devoured: after this we gave them tea, of which they are very fond; and, over our pipes, in the evening, we informed them of the preparations the coalesced chiefs had made for their reception, had their intentions been hostile.
The next morning they embarked for the camp at Cower Cower, where, I understood, they had considerable difficulty in arranging the "treaty of peace:" George having been so often alarmed, now that such great preparations had been effected (as he well knew the treacherous character of his foe), he was unwilling to give up the hopes of conquest;
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however, by the advice of the chiefs, it was finally settled amicably. George and his friends accordingly returned to Ko-ro-ra-di-ka, leaving a strong party at the par to finish the fortifications; and, though peace was made, our party still kept themselves in a posture of defence.
We had been expecting with great anxiety the return of our brig; and, soon after the termination of this affair, we had the pleasure of seeing her enter the bay, after her cruise from Tongataboo and Tucopea. We found, that, on leaving the Bay of Islands, she had touched at the "Thames," or (as the natives call it), E How Rackey, in order to land two chiefs, whom Captain Dillon had taken thence two years before; and, in the confusion occasioned by the disembarking, the visiting and congratulations of friends (the vessel being under weigh), one chief was left on board, who had not been discovered till all the canoes were out of sight, and there remained no other alternative for him than to proceed on the whole voyage.
This was of no importance as it respected
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Tongataboo or Tucopea; but, on his return to Ko-ro-ra-di-ka, it was not only placing him, but all of us, in a dreadful dilemma! His tribe being at deadly enmity with that of George, the moment he was seen on deck (which was as soon as the vessel arrived), George and all the men in the various canoes appeared to grow outrageous: nothing would convince them but that we were in league with their enemies, and had brought this spy into their territories from interested motives; and they seemed resolved upon boarding the brig, and executing vengeance upon the unfortunate victim. To all our remonstrances George replied, "Any other man than this I would have pardoned; but it was only last year he killed, and helped to eat, my own uncle, whose death still remains unrevenged: I cannot allow him to leave my country alive; if I did, I should be despised for ever."
I was greatly grieved at the circumstance; but, as I was somewhat of a favourite with George, I succeeded in convincing him that it arose purely from accident, and no intention of giving him offence; and he con-
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sented to leave him on board, but cautioned us not to allow him to land. "If I see him on shore he dies," he repeated several times. It would have been well for us had we attended to this warning: we did not; and we accordingly infringed on the customs of his country; thus placing ourselves in a most perilous situation with the natives, and plainly showing that the imprudence of our countrymen is invariably the cause of quarrels and misunderstandings with these islanders.
Some days having passed since this altercation with George, we thought no more about it. The brig, from various causes, was certain to remain some time in this harbour; and, as our New Zealand guest expressed a great desire to go on shore one day, we consented to his accompanying us. We had scarcely entered our house, when we had reason to repent the imprudent step we had taken: all the natives were in commotion; messengers were sent off to George to acquaint him with the circumstance, and soon after we saw him, attended by all his relations, accoutred for war; that is, quite naked, their
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skins oiled and painted, and armed with muskets. Fury was in their looks and gestures as they hastened towards our residence. We had scarcely time to shut and fasten our door, when they made a rush to force it; and we had a severe struggle to keep them out. At one period their rage became so ungovernable that we expected every instant they would fire on us for preventing their entrance. The man who was the cause of all this violence crept into our bed-room, and kept out of sight; but he did not, at any period of the disturbance, exhibit the least sign of fear, so accustomed are they from childhood to these deadly frays.
When the natives found we would not give up the man, but that they must murder us before they could accomplish their revenge, the disappointment rendered them nearly frantic. Our situation was most critical and appalling; and nothing can be a more convincing proof of the influence the Europeans have obtained over them, than that, at such a moment, they should have refrained from setting fire to or pulling down the house, and
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sacrificing every one of us. George again remonstrated with us, assuring us it was his sacred duty to destroy this man, now he was in his territory; a duty which, he said, he owed to the memory of his murdered relations, and which must be performed, even though he should sacrifice his "good English friends." He cautioned us not to stand between him and his enemy, who must die before the sun-set, pointing, at the same time, to that luminary, and ordering his slaves to kindle a large fire to roast him on. Finally, he and his friends planted themselves all round the house to prevent the escape of their victim. Thus were we environed with fifty or sixty well armed and exasperated savages.
Our imprudence had given us no other alternative than either to give up the man, who had put himself under our protection, or still to defend him at the risk of our own lives: we instantly adopted the latter course. Fortunately for us a whaler was lying in the harbour, and a party of her men were then on shore in the neighbourhood procuring water. We had sent to them to explain the nature of
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our situation, and we saw them coming to our assistance, though the numbers of natives at this time assembled totally precluded all chance of our getting off by force; and a variety of schemes were suggested as to how we should save the man's life, and get clear of this difficulty, without sacrificing the good opinion we were held in by the natives.
We were well aware of the great importance it was to George to continue on friendly terms with the English vessels touching here, as they not only afforded him various sources of considerable profit, but the intercourse gave him great importance in the eyes of his countrymen; and we determined to make this circumstance a means of saving the man's life, as we suspected that a threat of removing the seat of trade would soon make him compromise his revenge for his interest.
We therefore sent him a formal message, that, if he was resolved to kill his enemy in our house, we had determined not to prevent him, but that we would not stay to witness such a cruelty; and that we should immediately remove every thing we possessed on
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board ship, leave the Bay of Islands, and seek the protection and shelter of some other chief; and, if he compelled us to do so, no other British ship would ever be seen at Ko-ro-ra-di-ka.
We accordingly ordered the ship's boats ashore, and our things were quickly conveyed into them. I trembled when I looked on the natives, and saw the rage depicted on their countenances; and I, trusting in Providence to avert from me the dreadful death with which I saw myself threatened, prepared myself for some fatal catastrophe. Tumultuous discussions ensued, and it at length became difficult for the elders to restrain the impetuosity of the younger chiefs. Fortunately for us their vehement speeches soon produced a violent feud amongst themselves. Mutual upbraidings took place: each accused the other of being the cause of quarrel, and the consequent loss of the white men. This was precisely the state of things we wished for; and, while we were waiting the return of the last boat, a messenger came from the elder chiefs, to propose an amicable adjustment of the af-
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fair. The chief's promised, that, if we would reland our goods and remain with them, the man we protected should go without molestation on board the brig; but, if we persevered in leaving them, the man should be killed before our eyes. This was what we expected; and though I really now wished to leave them, being quite tired of these perpetual broils, we assented, in order that the man's life might be spared. When they found we agreed to their proposal, they retreated out of sight, thereby carefully avoiding polluting their eyes by looking upon their enemy.
No sooner had they disappeared than I visited the poor fellow who had been the cause of all this disturbance:. he seemed half dead with anxiety; but I soon revived him with the information that all was settled amicably; and we lost no time in getting him off, which we safely accomplished: though, as the boat which conveyed him left the shore, a bullet whizzed close by me, aimed, no doubt, by some young fiery chief who had concealed himself in the bushes for that purpose.
During this transaction I witnessed the
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natural kindness of heart and disinterested tenderness of the female sex: no matter how distressing the circumstance or appalling the danger, they are, in all countries, the last to forsake man. While the enraged chiefs were yelling outside our house, and all our exertions could scarcely prevent them from making a forcible entry, all the women were sitting with, and trying to comfort the unhappy cause of this calamity. They had cooked for him a delicate dinner; brought him fruit, and were using every means by which they could keep up his spirits, and buoy up his hopes; confidently assuring him the white men would not yield him up to his ferocious foes. Notwithstanding all their exertions, he was miserable, till informed by me of his safety; and I received the warmest thanks, and even blessings from his "fair" friends, as if I had conferred upon each a personal favour.
The man being now in safety, we determined to demand satisfaction for the affront which had been put upon us, and we sent George word we could not again receive him into our house unless he made an ample
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apology for his behaviour, painting in strong colours how deeply our feelings had been wounded, and how much this indignity had lowered us in the esteem of all our acquaintances.
After some consultation among their leading men upon the subject of our message, King George presented himself at the door of our hut, and, in the most humble manner, surrendered his musket; and shortly after his brother Kiney Kiney did the same. Thus we gained our point, and received both payment and apologies for their violent behaviour. Friendship being thus restored, we soon gave them back their muskets, to their infinite surprise and satisfaction.
On reflection, I felt quite convinced that the natives liked us the better for what we had done: it afforded them also a lesson of humanity; for they all well knew we had no other object in view when we stood forward to defend the poor fellow, who had relied upon our promise of protecting him; several chiefs told us that they greatly admired our principles, and should always feel themselves
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quite safe with men like us, who would risk their own lives rather than break their word, or desert a friend in the hour of danger.
At the close of this eventful day we received another token of peace, which was in its manner simple and affecting, and not such as could have been expected from a nation of savages. A procession of young girls approached our door, each bearing a basket; some were filled with nicely cooked potatoes, others with various fruits and flowers, which they set down before us, chanting, in a low voice, a song in praise of our recent exploit; a man bearing a very large fish closed the procession; he repeated the song also. We were informed, that these presents had been sent by George as a ratification of friendship; for the New Zealanders never think a reconciliation perfected till you have again eaten and drank with them.
Two important conclusions may be drawn from the termination of this affair: first, that if a spirited interference takes place on the part of the Europeans, murder may be at times prevented, as we actually rescued a mortal foe from the vengeance of an exasper-
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ated enemy; and, secondly, their efforts to restore amity proves their extreme desire to have white people settle amongst them.
About a week after this event we witnessed a most extraordinary ceremony, which partook more of the ludicrous than the horrible, though I have no doubt it was regarded by the natives as a most solemn affair. For some days we had been honoured by the presence of a great priest, or one of their chief tabooers; he came for the purpose of discussing with the chiefs the affairs of the nation, particularly the approaching war with the tribe of the Thames; and the day set apart for the discussion of the principal points was ushered in by a rich feast, not of pork, nor fish, nor even the kumera, but of two old sturdy large dogs!
I was much surprised on rising one morning to see Kiney Kiney, with several chiefs of the highest rank, stripped, and performing the offices of the meanest slave (the washing the feet of the pilgrims by cardinals and persons of rank in Rome came instantly to my remembrance). These chiefs were making a fire and cooking. I was still more astonished, on
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approaching them, to find the nature of the food they were singing and scraping. This bow-wow meat they were preparing after the fashion of pork: pigs being the only quadruped they have ever seen cooked, they of course are not acquainted with any other way of dressing the animal creation, and a sad bungling job they made of it; for the dogs were old and tough, and the hair adhered most pertinaciously to the skin, and in many places would not come off.
There were only five persons allowed to partake of this delicious meal, which was, as well as the five partakers, strictly taboo'd for the whole of that day: and we strongly recommended them to hold a similar feast every day, until they had cleared the country of these canine nuisances, the dogs being the greatest pests they have.
One morning I was roused out of a sound sleep by continued discharges of musketry from a number of war canoes. I jumped up instantly in alarm; but I soon discovered them to be Atoi and his party, who had been absent about two months on a warlike expedition to
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the Thames, and they were now returning successful.
I had witnessed the departure of this expedition, and considered it in the light of a reconnoitring party. I could not make out what the real object was they had been in search of; but, wherever they had been, they had been victorious: for they now returned with quantities of plunder, human heads, human flesh, and many prisoners! After the dance and sham fight had been duly gone through, they proceeded to land their cargo of spoil. First came a group of miserable creatures, women and children, torn by violence from their native homes, henceforth to be the slaves of their conquerors; some were miserably wounded and lacerated, others looked half-starved, but all seemed wretched and dejected.
The women of Ko-ro-ra-di-ka, with their usual humanity, instantly surrounded them, and endeavoured to console them, and then shed abundance of tears over them. I enquired of one of the warriors what they had done with the male prisoners: he coolly replied, they
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had all been eaten, except some "titbits," which had been packed up in the baskets and brought on shore, in order to regale particular friends and favourites!
They had also brought with them several heads, which they have the art of preparing, in their native ovens, so as not to disfigure the countenance nor injure the figure tatoo'd upon them. One of these, the skull of a distinguished chief, seemed to afford them amazing delight. Most of our people had known him well, and several of his near relations were present: but cruel war seemed to have eradicated every feeling of humanity; for all appeared to contemplate this ghastly object with great satisfaction. These heads were decorated profusely with yellow and red ribbons, and with white feathers: they were then stuck upon short poles, and placed, with great ceremony, in front of the old Queen Turero's house; who, sitting at the door, received this token of respect with approval and condescension.
The group altogether formed an interesting picture of savage manners, in which ferocity o 3
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was strongly blended with humanity; for their respect and devotion to the old sybil was manifested as feelingly as their hatred towards those whom they call their enemies: in fact, the young warrior chiefs presenting to her (as was the case with several) their first spoils of conquest, reminded me of young lions bringing part of the spoils of the chase to their aged dam.
In this affray only a few of Atoi's party had been wounded, and twenty-five of the enemy had been killed. It was a fortunate circumstance for the wretched prisoners that none of the conquering party had been killed; for, if that had been the case, there would have been a dreadful slaughter of the captives on their arrival at the village, an act of cruelty never dispensed with. This sight I dreaded I should encounter when I went to witness the disembarkation; but, hoping that my presence might be some restraint upon their barbarities, I awaited the result with as much firmness as I was master of.
Two South Sea whalers were at this time lying in the bay: the "Anne," from London,
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a full ship; and the "Lynx," from Sydney. Since I have been living here, five vessels of this description have visited us; and many others would have touched here but for the want of proper regulations, and a dread of the dispositions of the natives. There being here no representative of the British Government, the crews of whalers are often involved in disputes with the natives. This want of Government support has also frightened other vessels away; their commanders preferring going on to Port Jackson, where they half ruin themselves by the unavoidable expenses they incur. Even when their vessels have anchored here, the thoughtlessness and eccentricity of this class of men, when they are under no restraint or control, has sometimes not only led to disputes with the natives, but with each other, which eventually have proved equally detrimental. In short, New Zealand is a place of such vast importance to so many lucrative branches of British trade, that it must be well worthy the speedy attention of our Government at home.
We spoke frequently to our friend George,
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as well as to several other of their powerful chiefs, respecting the erection of a small fort with a British garrison, and of permanently hoisting the English flag. They always expressed the utmost delight at the idea; and, from all I have seen of them, I feel convinced it would prove a most politic measure. George (who had visited Port Jackson) said, "This country is finer than Port Jackson; yet the English go and settle there. Our people are much better than the black natives of New South Wales; and yet you English live amongst them in preference to us."
The ship "Anne," Captain Gray, was out three years, and during that period she never entered a civilised port. She had touched twice at this bay, and had cruized four months on the coast of Japan, off Timor, through the Sandwich and Friendly Islands, and passed several times over the Pacific Ocean, in order to obtain a cargo of sperm oil, which she at length accomplished; and was at this time here to refit for her voyage home to England round Cape Horn, having picked up most of her cargo off this port.