[Image of page 251]
ertions caused their recent wounds to bleed afresh, and added much to the horror of their hideous grimaces. They then divided into two parties, and had a sham battle. I must here do justice to the temperate habits of my savage friends. During my residence in New Zealand, I have known but very few who were addicted to drinking, and I scarcely ever saw one of them in a state of intoxication; and, on this occasion, where a profusion of what they esteem delicacies was provided gratuitously, they partook so moderately of the tempting fare as not to be prevented using the most violent exertions immediately after their meal. The entertainment being now over, the different parties gathered up what remained of the portions of food distributed to them, and without taking any leave of their entertainer, or returning any thanks for his bountiful providing, they all entered their canoes and paddled away.
An unfortunate prejudice has gone forth into the world against the natives of New Zealand, which I have always endeavoured to counteract from a sense of justice, and, from
[Image of page 252]
a careful review of those circumstances which have fallen immediately under my own observation; this prejudice has long retarded our knowledge of their true character, but error must gradually give way to truth; and as the circumstances, which first brought the stigma upon their name, come to light, and are investigated and properly explained, I feel confident the conduct of these islanders will be found superior to that of any other nation in the South Seas. If we take the whole catalogue of dreadful massacres they have been charged with, and (setting aside partiality for our own countrymen,) allow them to be carefully examined, it will be found that we have invariably been the aggressors: and when we have given serious cause of offence, can we be so irrational as to express astonishment that a savage should seek revenge? The last massacre was that of "The Boyd's" crew: every impartial person who reads the account of that melancholy transaction must acknowledge the unfortunate captain was most to blame. But that event took place nineteen years back; since which time they know us
[Image of page 253]
better, and respect us more: in proof of which, four years since, "The Mercury" brig was taken possession of by a crowd of natives, after they had endured a series of offences and every kind of ill treatment: but the difference in their fate, compared with that of "The Boyd's" ship's company, was remarkable, and proved that the savage temper of the natives was much softened down and humanised, as they merely plundered the vessel, but made no attempt to murder or molest any of the crew, who, if they had possessed sufficient courage, would not have sacrificed their vessel: but, being terrified, they abandoned her, and she was finally wrecked. During my residence, I never heard of one of the men having been murdered; and I feel fully convinced no massacres will ever again be committed in any of the ports in New Zealand where European vessels have been accustomed to anchor.
I once saw, with indignation, a chief absolutely knocked overboard from a whaler's deck by the ship's mate. Twenty years ago so gross an insult would have cost the lives of
[Image of page 254]
every individual on board the vessel; but, at the time this occurred, it was only made the subject of complaint, and finally became a cause of just remonstrance with the commander of the whaler. The natives themselves (and I have heard the opinions of various tribes) have invariably told me that these things occurred from our want of knowledge of their laws and customs, which compelled them to seek revenge. "It was," they said, "no act of treachery on our part: we did not invite you to our shores for the purpose of plunder and murder; but you came, and ill used us: you broke into our tabooed grounds. And did not Atua give those bad white men into the hands of our fathers?"
I am confident that a body of Europeans may now reside in perfect security in any part of these islands. The late plundering of the missionaries, at Wango Roar was a peculiar circumstance, which might have happened even in civilised Europe, had the seat of war approached so near their place of residence. If their houses and chapel had been on the plains of Waterloo during the June of 1815,
[Image of page 255]
they would not have experienced a better fate.
This recent tumult has brought a circumstance into notice highly interesting to all who may hereafter wish to settle here. It has hitherto been their custom, when an accident occurs, such as the sudden death of a chief, to make a general plunder of every thing belonging to the family of the deceased, and all under their protection. A knowledge of this horrible custom has deterred many from settling in New Zealand; and even those who have resolved to run so great a risk, have lived in a continued state of alarm, lest the death of their protecting chief should leave them at the mercy of a savage enemy.
The deaths of Shunghie and Shulitea placed the missionaries and all the settlers on Ko-ro-ra-di-ka Beach in considerable jeopardy: but it appeared as if reason had begun to dawn on the minds of these benighted savages; for this unjust and cruel custom was now for the first time discontinued. I was on the beach at the time when an immense party, well armed, came for the express purpose of satiating their
[Image of page 256]
revengeful feelings. I had taken the precaution of removing what I possessed on board a whaler, then lying in the harbour. The chiefs first sat down to discuss the matter over amongst themselves; and their deliberations ended in their being satisfied with destroying the village of Matowe, the one adjoining ours, and which had been the residence of Pomaree's son, whose death was the cause of all the late turbulent events.
The great and leading defect in this country, and the principal cause of their frequent wars and disturbances, which harass and depopulate the tribes, and puts a stop to all improvement, is the want of some regular system of government. There are only two classes of people -- chiefs and slaves; and, as consanguinity constitutes a high claim, the eldest son of a large family, who can bring the greatest number of warriors of his own name into the field, is considered the chief of that district or tribe; and as he, by reason of his followers, can take possession of the greatest number of prisoners or slaves, he becomes the ruling man. Every other man of his tribe
[Image of page 257]
considers himself on an equality with him in every thing, except that he shows him obedience, and follows him to battle.
Each is independent in his own family, and holds uncontrolled power of life and death over every individual it contains. They seem not to exercise any coercion over the younger branches of a family, who are allowed unbounded liberty till the girls have sweethearts and the boys are strong enough to go to war. They are kind and hospitable to strangers; and are excessively fond of their children. On a journey, it is more usual to see the father carrying his infant than the mother; and all the little offices of a nurse are performed by him with the tenderest care and good humour. In many instances (wherein they differ from most savage tribes) I have seen the wife treated as an equal and companion. In fact, when not engaged in war, the New Zealander is quite a domestic, cheerful, harmless character: but once rouse his anger, or turn him into ridicule, and his disposition is instantly changed. A being, whose passions have never been curbed from infancy, and whose only
[Image of page 258]
notion of what he conceives to be his right is to retaliate for an offence with blood, must naturally form a cruel and vindictive character. Such these islanders seemed to us on our first visiting them. The sight of beings so extraordinary (for thus we Europeans must have appeared to them) excited in their savage minds the greatest wonder; and they thought we were sent as a scourge and an enemy: and though Cook, one of their earliest visiters, adopted every method his ingenuity could devise to conciliate them, yet, as they never could thoroughly understand his intentions, they were always on the alert to attack him. Hence arose the horror and disgust expressed formerly at the mere mention of the name of "a New Zealander."
I have often tried, in vain, to account for there being such a decided dissimilarity between the natives of New Holland and New Zealand. So trifling is the difference in their situation on the globe, and so similar their climates, -- both having remained so long unknown to the great continents, and so devoid of intercourse with the rest of the world,
[Image of page 259]
that one would be led to imagine a great resemblance must be the result. But the natives of the former seem of the lowest grade -- the last link in the great chain of existence which unites man with the monkey. Their limbs are long, thin, and flat, with large bony knees and elbows; a projecting forehead, and pot-belly. The mind, too, seems adapted to this mean configuration: they have neither energy, enterprise, nor industry; and their curiosity can scarcely be excited. A few exceptions may be met with; but these are their general characteristics. While the natives of the latter island are "cast in beauty's perfect mould:" the children are so fine and powerfully made, that each might serve as a model for a statue of "the Infant Hercules:" nothing can exceed the graceful and athletic forms of the men, or the rounded limbs of their young women. These possess eyes beautiful and eloquent, and a profusion of long, silky, curling hair: while the intellects of both sexes seem of a superior order; all appear eager for improvement, full of energy, and indefatigably industrious, and possessing amongst them-
[Image of page 260]
selves, several arts which are totally unknown to their neighbours.
On April the 14th, our brig being stored with planks, flax, and potatoes, and ready for sea, I went on board of her. We had fine weather till we dropped down to the entrance of the river, where we intended taking in our stock of water for the voyage; when the scene suddenly changed, and a severe gale came on, right out to sea, which we could not avail ourselves of; neither could we get the water off, as our rafts of casks got adrift in the attempt to get them on board. To add to our disasters, one of our cables parted, and we had to ride out the gale (of two days' continuance) with one only; the sea rolling heavily right open before us, and we in momentary expectation of the remaining cable's going: we had not a single day's allowance of water on board; and at one period all hands (except the carpenter and passengers) were out of the brig, on shore, filling the casks. Fortunately for us, the cable proved a tough one: had it parted, we should have been in a most perilous situation.
A New Zealand Girl
[Image of page 261]
April 20th. -- For the last week we were stationary at the river's mouth, waiting for a fair wind to carry us over the bar; and, during that time, there was no appearance of any change: we also heard that vessels had been detained here for six weeks before they could accomplish it. We were visited daily by parties of natives, who seemed to rejoice at our being delayed, as it gave them more of our company than they had calculated upon. They were more delighted with our society than we were with theirs: in a small vessel they are a serious nuisance, on account of the swarms of vermin they bring with them, and which they communicate liberally to all. Myself and all the passengers on board had our leisure time fully occupied in dislodging these "little familiars" from their strong-holds in different parts of our apparel.
During the time we were lying here, I saw and conversed with several individuals who had attended the "Great Meeting," and their accounts gave rise to various opinions respecting the policy of supplying the natives with fire-arms. As I had always been an advocate,
[Image of page 262]
for the measure, I was gratified by hearing that it was thought to be in consequence of each party's being possessed of a nearly equal quantity of muskets, that a general and exterminating war was avoided. Some may suppose that similar tranquillity would have been preserved, had they been equally well supplied with their native weapons of war; but that would not have been the case. When they found that each party could furnish forth the same number of European muskets, they paused, well knowing that it was contrary to the wish of all the white settlers that they should proceed to hostilities. Indeed, Europeans intrepidly mingled amongst them, urging them to a reconciliation; and, threatening, that, if they failed in their endeavours, the supplies of arms and ammunition should be discontinued. This threat had its desired effect on the minds of the natives: no blood was spilt; and each chief returned quietly to his own home.
On the night we heard of the death of George and his wife, "Revenge and war" was the universal cry. His party would not
[Image of page 263]
believe that it could be an accident, nor would they hear of any apology being received. At this time they imagined the tribes of E O Ke Angha were possessed of but very few fire-arms; and, as the skirmish took place in that district, it was determined that an exterminating war should be carried into the heart of it. However, before all the preparations could be made to carry their intentions into effect, they received certain information that the people of E O Ke Angha were even better supplied with muskets than those of the Bay of Islands. This intelligence occasioned an assemblage of the different tribes to be proposed; and when it took place, the friends of George saw their opponents so well prepared for the "tug of war," that they deemed it judicious to come forward, and to shake hands, and to acknowledge that the death of Shulitea proceeded either from accident or mistake. A curious circumstance took place in the midst of their debate. An old chief, who wished for a fight, and did not approve of the introduction of fire-arms, but was an advocate for the old
[Image of page 264]
method of New Zealand warfare, proposed that each party should send away all their muskets and ammunition, and engage manfully with their own native weapons; and then it could be easily proved which were the "best men:" but this mode of settling the dispute, not being agreeable to the majority, was instantly negatived, and treated with disdain.
The colony of Scotch carpenters, who had formed a settlement at the head of the river, and of whom I made "honourable mention" on my first journey, finding themselves so close to what they feared might become the seat of war, and having no means whatever of defending themselves, made an arrangement with Mooetara, the chief of Parkunugh (which is situated at the entrance of the same river), and placed themselves under his protection. They accordingly moved down here, which gave great satisfaction to that chief. Neither could their former protector, Pationi, feel offended at their removal, from the peculiar nature of the circumstances they were placed in. These hardy North Britons were delighted to find a
[Image of page 265]
reasonable excuse for moving; their former establishment being situated too far from the sea for them to reap any advantage from ships coming into port. Nothing can be more gratifying than to behold the great anxiety of the natives to induce Englishmen to settle amongst them: it ensures their safety; and no one act of treachery is on record of their having practised towards those whom they had invited to reside with them.
Mooetara is a man of great property and high rank; and is considered a very proud chief by the natives: yet he is to be seen every day, working as hard as any slave in assisting in the erection of houses for the accommodation of his new settlers. He has actually removed from his old village of Parkunugh (a strong and beautiful place), and is erecting huts for his tribe near the spot chosen by his new friends; so that, in a very short time, a barren point of land, hitherto without a vestige of a human habitation, will become a thriving and populous village; for it is incredible how quickly the orders of these chiefs are carried into effect. I was fre-
[Image of page 266]
quently a witness to the short space of time they took to erect their houses; and, though small, they are tight, weather-proof, and warm: their storehouses are put together in the most substantial and workmanlike manner.
It is very difficult to make the New Zealanders explain the nature of their religious belief. One superstition seems general with all the tribes respecting the formation of the world; or, rather, of their own island; for that is the place of the first importance in their estimation. They say a man, or a god, or some great spirit, was fishing in his war-canoe, and pulled up a large fish, which instantly turned into an island; and a lizard came upon that, and brought up a man out of the water by his long hair; and he was the father of all the New Zealanders. Almost all their grotesque carvings are illustrations of this idea in some way or other. The favourite theme on which (I observed) the missionaries discoursed to them, were "the torments of hell." This has become a subject of ridicule to most of the natives: they do
[Image of page 267]
not deny that there may be such a place; but they add, it is not for them; for if Atua had intended it so, he would have sent them word about it long before he sent the white men into their country: and they conclude by stating that they know perfectly well the situation of the island where they are to go to after this life.
While remaining here wind-bound, in imaginary security, and amusing ourselves with noticing the curious customs and peculiarities of these islanders, a dreadful tragedy was taking place only a few miles' distance from us, and to which I before alluded, when 1 mentioned crossing the bar on our first arrival from Port Jackson. "The Enterprise" schooner, a very fine vessel, which was built at the settlement on this river, had been sent to Sydney; and, while we were lying there, we were in hourly expectation of her return. She did return. The unfavourable weather which detained us so long proved fatal to her; and she was wrecked a few miles to the northward of the river's mouth, and every soul on board perished.
[Image of page 268]
The moment this catastrophe was known, every European hastened to the spot, and, with feelings of horror, perceived but too plainly, from the appearance of the wreck and the boat, and by finding also the clothes of the crew, that they had reached the shore in safety, and had afterwards all been murdered; but how, or by whom, it was impossible to discover. The most probable conclusion was, that the tribes situated around the European dock-yard at E O Ke Angha, having meditated for some time past a great warlike expedition, waited the return of this schooner from Sydney to possess themselves of an additional supply of arms and ammunition, which might enable them to take the field with a certainty of conquest. They had regularly purchased the cargo of this vessel by their labour and their merchandise, and the schooner was merely employed to convey it thither from Sydney, for the use of the natives: unhappily for the poor creatures on board, in running for the mouth of the river, she fell to leeward, and got stranded on the beach, in the very territory of that tribe
[Image of page 269]
against whom these preparations were made-- the tribe intended to be invaded. Though no formal declaration of war had taken place, the tribes well knew the preparations that were making against them, and the nature of the cargo contained in "The Enterprise:" falling into the hands of such fierce and vindictive savages, the fate of the crew may be imagined, -- all our poor fellows were sacrificed to gratify their feelings of revenge.
Mooetara (the friendly chief at E O Ke Angha) no sooner heard of the fate of the vessel and her crew, than he hastened with his party to the spot: it was owing to the investigation which then took place, that the conclusion was arrived at that all had been murdered. What remained for Mooetara to do (according to their savage notion of what was right) was, to take ample revenge on all the hostile tribes that might fall in his way, whether our poor countrymen met their deaths through accident or treachery. Mooetara instantly commenced the work of destruction; and having made his vengeance complete, he returned laden with spoil. The promptness
[Image of page 270]
with which he acted on this melancholy occasion greatly increased the feelings of security possessed by those Englishmen settled on the banks of the river; as it proved to them that he was both able and willing to protect them, and though the dead could not be restored, yet he had inflicted an awful punishment on their murderers.
On the 21st, a fair wind and smooth sea favoured our departure. Early in the morning, the natives who were on board assured us every thing would facilitate our passing over the bar with safety; and they prepared to leave the ship. When the moment of separation came, it caused a great deal of emotion on both sides. I must confess I felt much affected when I came to rub noses, shake hands, and say "Farewell" to these kind-hearted people. I saw them go over the ship's side, and reflected that I should never behold them more. There is always something repugnant to our feelings in the idea of separating from any being for ever; and as, in this instance, I felt assured that this was our last time of meeting, it cast a gloom over the
[Image of page 271]
pleasure the fair wind and smooth sea would otherwise have afforded me. As we fell down towards the river's mouth, and, indeed, as long as their canoes were to be seen, they kept waving their hands towards us.
Thus terminated my visit to the islands of New Zealand. I had arrived with feelings of fear and disgust; and was merely induced to take up a temporary residence amongst the natives, in hopes of finding something new for my pencil in their peculiar and picturesque style of life. I left them with opinions, in many respects, very favourable towards them. It is true, they are cunning and over-reaching in trade, and filthy in their persons. In regard to the former, we Europeans, I fear, set them a bad example; of the latter, they will gradually amend. Our short visit to Ko-ro-ra-di-ka greatly improved them in that particular. All took great pains to come as clean as possible, when they attended our "evening tea-parties." In my opinion, their sprightly, free, and independent deportment, together with their kindness and attention to strangers, compensate for many defects.
[Image of page 272]
On looking round upon their country, an Englishman cannot fail to feel gratified, when he beholds the good already resulting to these poor savages from their intercourse with his countrymen; and they themselves are fully sensible of, and truly grateful for, every mark of kindness manifested towards them. They have stores full of the finest Indian corn, which they consider a great luxury, a food which requires little trouble in preparing, keeps well, and is very nutritious. It is but a few years since this useful grain was introduced amongst them; and I sincerely hope this introduction may be followed up, not only by our sending out to them seeds of vegetables and fruits, but by our forwarding to them every variety of quadruped which can be used for food. Abundance of the finest watermelons are daily brought alongside vessels entering their ports: these, in point of flavour, are superior to any I ever met with. I have no doubt every variety of European produce essential to the support of life would thrive equally well; and as food became abundant, and luxuries were introduced, their disgusting
[Image of page 273]
feasts on human flesh would soon be discontinued altogether.
We were soon at sea, and speedily felt considerable apprehensions as to the safe termination of our voyage. Our vessel (the brig "Governor Macquarie") we well knew was a leaky one, though her leaks did not distress us on the outward voyage, she being then only in ballast trim; but now that she was loaded to the water's edge, and the winter coming on, we became greatly alarmed for her. Another disagreeable circumstance was having no bread or flour on board. To obviate the first evil, and to save the sailors a great deal of hard labour, our Captain offered to give a passage to Sydney to several natives, who accepted his offer, they being always anxious to see the colony; we likewise had on board the great Chief from the Thames, who had caused us so much trouble at Ko-ro-ra-di-ka. These men, being fine, strong, active young fellows, were indefatigable in their exertions at the pumps; and though we had to contend with much heavy weather, and contrary winds, they kept our vessel pretty dry.
[Image of page 274]
The want of bread was not so easily remedied; though our Captain treated it lightly, saying he was sure of getting a supply by making a requisition to the missionaries. He accordingly waited upon them, and acquainted them with our distressed condition: they had plenty (for only a few weeks previously they had received a large supply), and as we knew their agent at Sydney, Mr. Campbell, we had no doubt of procuring a sufficiency from them to carry us home; but in this we were disappointed. Captain Kent did not ask them for a supply as a gift, but solicited merely the loan of a cask or two till we arrived at Sydney, when he guaranteed that the owners of the brig should return the same quantity into the missionary storehouse there. The little monosyllable No was again put in requisition, with this qualification, --"that they did not like the Botany Bay skippers." Through their "dislike," the passengers and seamen of the brig might have gone unprovided to sea, had not a "worldly-minded" whaler (fortunately for us) at that critical moment come into port, who, the instant he heard of the ill success of our
[Image of page 275]
entreaty, vented his indignation in pretty coarse language, and said, "if it detained his vessel a week, he would supply us;" and he kept his word: he gave us a bountiful supply, which rendered us comfortable during the whole way home.
It was most interesting to observe our savages when we got well out to sea. They soon appeared to become accustomed to their novel situation, and seemed to feel quite at home and at their ease "on board ship." Their exertions at the pumps were indefatigable. I felt convinced they thought that during all voyages the same labour was gone through to keep the vessel afloat; and as it only required strength and exertion, they cheerfully took that department entirely to themselves, especially as they soon perceived how useless they were when they attempted to perform any other duty on board of the brig, as their knowledge of voyaging extended no further than the distance they go in their own canoes, which, though very beautiful, are sad leaky things at sea; and as, during
[Image of page 276]
the time they are out, the greater part of the crew are baling the water out of them, they thought the leaky state of our vessel was no uncommon occurrence. But however cheerfully they worked during the day, nothing could induce them to "turnout" at night; they always stowed themselves away, but in what part of the vessel I never could conjecture. They have a dread of some unknown evil spirit, which they imagine has power over them at night; and this supposition makes them terrible cowards in the dark.
The second day after we were at sea, I saw a group of savages lying round the binnacle, all intently occupied in observing the phenomenon of the magnetic attraction; they seemed at once to comprehend the purpose to which it was applied, and I listened with eager curiosity to their remarks upon it.
"This," said they, "is the white man's God, who directs them safely to different countries, and then can guide them home again." Out of compliment to us, and re-
[Image of page 277]
spect for its wonderful powers, they seemed much inclined to worship this silent little monitor.
During our voyage to Port Jackson, we experienced a succession of southerly gales, which Captain Kent informed me were very prevalent at this season of the year. Notwithstanding all our exertions to prevent it, we were carried considerably to leeward of the port. We made Lord Howe's Islands, whose high and bold features rise, as it were, out of the ocean: as we passed close to them, we perceived they were well wooded and watered; and one of the men, who had been on shore there, informed me that there was a tolerably good harbour for small craft. A few miles to the southward of these islands is Ball's Pyramid, a most singular and sublime-looking rock, rising perpendicularly out of the sea to the height of a thousand feet; the base of it is enveloped in perpetual surf) dashing and climbing up its craggy sides. Its appearance, as we saw it, relieved by the setting sun, and the coming on of a stormy night, was awful in the extreme!
[Image of page 278]
Nothing could exceed the delight manifested by our New Zealanders as we sailed up Port Jackson harbour; but, above all, the windmills most astonished them. After dancing and screaming with joy at beholding them, they came running and asking me "if they were not gods." I found they were inclined to attach that sacred appellation to most things they could not understand: they did so when they first became possessed of their muskets; and actually worshipped them, until they discovered how soon they got out of repair, and then, notwithstanding all the prayers they could bestow upon them, they would not mend again of their own accord.
Our Chief from the Thames, who had a great idea of his own dignity, commenced adorning his person, as he felt convinced the Governor would instantly grant him an audience when he came on shore. All our lamps were emptied to add a more beautiful gloss to his hair and complexion; his whole stock of feathers and bones were arranged to the greatest advantage. He at length became quite enraged, when he found that he was
[Image of page 279]
allowed to sit two days on our deck, amongst all manner of dirty porters and sailors, without either being visited or sent for; and he was loud in his reproaches to us for having deceived him. We certainly were to blame in having induced him to believe we had any influence with the Governor; for however politic we (who had lived in New Zealand) might think it, to pay some attentions to these simple savages, his Excellency, unfortunately, thought otherwise; and though the Chief, attended by his followers, used to sit in the varanda at Government House from morning till night, the Governor never once deigned to speak to them, and they were, in consequence, constantly coming to me with complaints. At length they told me, that unless they obtained an audience from our Chief) they should consider it so great an insult that they would revenge it upon all the Europeans they could get into their power; and I, well knowing that several families were settled in that part of the country wherein this man was Chief, thought it my duty to let the Governor know, that, however he might
[Image of page 280]
dislike their manners and appearance, it might lead to some serious calamity, if he continued to refuse to give them an audience.
I accordingly waited upon the Brigade Major, and explained to him how unwise it was to treat these men with such undisguised contempt. The result was, the Governor saw the affair in the same point of view as myself, and condescended to meet them and converse with them for about five minutes; and with that they were satisfied. Other heads of departments (civil and military) behaved differently, and evidently felt a pleasure in having them with them. The Commander of the troops suffered them to sit at the same table with himself and officers, and had the war-dance performed in the mess-room, which I thought would have brought the house down upon our heads. He likewise permitted them to fall into the ranks with the soldiers, which pleased them beyond every thing, inasmuch as they considered it a higher honour in being permitted to stand by our warriors on the martial parade, than to take food with our Chiefs at their own table!
[Image of page 281]
The Attorney-general of the colony took a particular interest in these savages, and gave a large party, to which they were invited. Several of the visiters on this occasion came out of curiosity to see how these cannibals would conduct themselves; expecting, no doubt, to witness a display of disgusting gluttony; but in that they were disappointed, for never did any set of men behave with greater decorum than they did.
On being apprised of this invitation, they were all most anxious to obtain European dresses; and when we refused to lend them ours, they requested of our servants the loan of a suit. This being denied them also, with the little money they had, they attempted to bargain for whole suits of convict dresses, in order to make their debut in style at the table of the Attorney-general! When I discovered this to be the case, I explained to them the impropriety of their conduct, and roused their pride by pointing out to them the absurdity of men of their high rank in their own country, wishing to appear in the cast-off dress of degraded slaves; and how much more suitable
[Image of page 282]
it was to the dignity of their character to appear in their own national costume. Accordingly, on the appointed day they met the company superbly attired in mats and feathers; they made a splendid show at the dinner-table, and afforded great amusement to the evening visiters. At an early hour they got very sleepy, but were too polite to hint how much they felt oppressed by drowsiness. I saw their eyes grow heavy, and perceived that it was difficult for them to sit upright on their chairs. I mentioned these symptoms to their kind host, who immediately consented to their retiring. They accordingly withdrew into a corner of one of the adjoining rooms, where lying down huddled together, and covering themselves with their mats, they were soon asleep, and gave no interruption to any one during the remainder of the evening.
The greatest treat it was in our power to bestow on them, was to take them to a review of the troops then stationed at Sydney. The splendour of their regimentals, the regularity of their movements, and the precision of their firing, made them nearly mad with delight;
[Image of page 283]
they ran about the plain literally wild with joy, occasionally stopping to gaze with wonder on men performing what they deemed such prodigies. In their ecstasies they occasionally vociferated their own furious war whoop. Their extravagant expressions of delight, and their many extraordinary gestures, caused great amusement both to the military and to the spectators assembled on the ground; and when the review was over, my savage friends were quite exhausted with fatigue and excitement. After two months' residence at Sydney, we had an opportunity of procuring a passage for them to their own country; and they departed, expressing the greatest gratitude for our attentions towards them. They were loaded with presents of all descriptions; for, finding they generally got what they begged for, while here, they importuned every one they met, and they used daily to return home burthened with the most miscellaneous and extraordinary jumble of commodities it was possible to conceive; for as every thing they then beheld was new to them, and might be (they thought) of some service to them in
[Image of page 284]
their own country, each trifle was of great value in their estimation, and was carefully stowed away. They always expressed their concern that so few muskets were given to them, and that they were presented with ammunition in such small quantities. Warlike stores were their grand desideratum; and though they would accept of any thing you chose to give them, yet they always had hopes they should finally receive their favourite presents of a stocking of powder, a piece of lead, or a musket.