NEW ZEALAND. PART III. FIRST TRIP TO BONNIE SCOTLAND.
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FIRST TRIP TO BONNIE SCOTLAND.
I sigh for Scotia's shore,
An' I gaze across the sea,
But I canna get a blink
O' my ain countrie.
ON April 8th, 1880, we sailed from Port Chalmers in the good ship Canterbury, commanded by Capt. Leslie, bound for London with a cargo of wool and grain. We had strong winds and high seas night and day until the 18th, when the wind increased to a gale about midnight. The main topsail was blown to ribbons, and the ship, not having so much speed on, pooped a sea which carried away the wheel and two men with it, who were knocked about and badly hurt. The water stove in the stern windows, and washed the Captain (who was resting on a couch) right through the cabin door and into the saloon. It flooded all our cabins and the deck of the ship from bows to stern, and a precarious job the officers and men had to get her hove-to in safety. The night was mostly spent bailing the water out of the saloon. When I returned to my cabin (the door of which I had closed when coming out), and opened the door, I found it full of water, which rushed out with such force as to altogether drench and very nearly drown me. Mrs Campbell was sitting on the top of two boxes which by some means or other she had got into the berth. It was a very miserable night for us all. When daylight came everyone looked quite miserable; and the wretchedness and discomfort were enhanced by a feeling of sorrow when it was whispered from one to the other that Tom, the apprentice, had been washed overboard and lost.
We had cold, stormy weather till near the Cape; after that it was pleasant, and everything went merry as a marriage
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bell, with music, singing, and dancing. As we neared the Line we met a good many ships of all nations, and it afforded amusement to signal them--whence they came and whither bound? A very little affords amusement at sea--the catching of a Cape pigeon, or the capture of a flying fish making good sport.
As we drew near the English Channel ships became more numerous, and they were nearly all steering for the great emporium of commerce--the port of London Town. In passing the Lizard we showed our number, and the skipper told me the news of our arrival would be read by his wife and friends in Dumbarton that night; and so it proved, for on the second morning, when lying at Gravesend waiting for the tide to take us to London, his wife's brother came on board, having arrived on the previous night. At 2 o'clock on Saturday, 27th June, we touched the quay at Blackwall, after a sojourn of eighty days on the Canterbury.
Next day being Sabbath we wished to go to church, but, being strangers we did not know where to go; hut a gentleman living in the same house volunteered to take us to hear Mr Spurgeon. We had the good fortune to hear the famous preacher discoursing on the Prodigal Son. We felt very pleased, and were very grateful to our friend for putting himself to a good deal of trouble to show kindness to strangers.
The next place of interest we visited was St. Paul's Cathedral. This historical edifice was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who died on 25th February, 1723, in his 91st year. After walking round and admiring the monuments, &c, we ascended to the Library, the flooring of which consists of 2376 pieces of oak, skilfully inlaid without a single nail or peg. The Library contains about 9000 volumes. To describe the great bell--"Big Ben"--and the great clock, would take a long time; but I must say something about the Whispering Gallery, which of course we went to see. It runs entirely round the base of the cupola, and is one hundred yards in circumference, having an elegant iron railing in front. The softest whisper is heard on the opposite side, a distance of 140
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feet. The attendant tells you to go to the other side and place your ear against the wall. He says in a whisper: "This place was built by Sir Christopher Wren; the first stone was laid on the 21st June, 1675, and the last in 1710; the whole was completed in fifty-five years, under the supervision of one architect and one master mason." These whispered words you can hear distinctly on the opposite side.
There is a story told of Sir James Thornhill, who painted a series of events in the life of St. Paul--his conversion on the way to Damascus, his sermon on Mars' Hill, his shipwreck off Malta, and so on. While working, the artist retired a few steps to mark the effect of the finishing touches he had just given to the head of one of the apostles, and had unconsciously reached the extremity of the scaffolding. Had he taken another step he would have been dashed on the floor far below, but a bystander who saw the danger (probably a workman), knowing there was no time to explain, snatched a brush filled with paint and dashed it across the picture. Sir James rushed forward to save his work, and so in all probability saved his life.
We also visited the Guildhall, where justice is administered and judgment given, and where all public business in connection with the Corporation of the City of London is transacted. Many ancient things are to be seen there--amongst others, very large statues of Gog and Magog, the patron saints of London; indeed, there is a museum of relics of antiquity. One thing I admired very much was the model of a merchant ship, presented by Macmillan and Sons, shipbuilders, of Dumbarton It took the first prize as a model from the Corporation of Shipwrights, London, and was presented by them to the city, and placed here for the benefit of the public.
Our visit to the Crystal Palace was doubly interesting from the fact that we witnessed the great gathering met to celebrate the centenary of Robert Raikes, the originator of Sabbath Schools. Representatives from all parts of the world assembled to do honour to the occasion, and the Sabbath School children for many miles around London were present and took part in
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the ceremonies of the day. To see and hear five thousand teachers and many others singing to the accompaniment of the great organ was something never to be forgotten. This took place inside the Palace. Outside were assembled twenty-three thousand children singing hymns, accompanied by numerous military bands. All these, with onlookers added, made up a multitude and a scene wonderful to behold. Asking my way out of the grounds, I fell in with a gentleman from Tasmania, who came to England for no other purpose than to attend the conference.
A friend kindly procured an order for me to visit the Telegraph Offices--an order which secured prompt admittance on presentation-- and what I saw surprised me beyond measure. The number of operators is very great, but I forget the exact figure. They were seated in groups of four round different tables, each with his or her little instrument, sending and receiving messages to or from all parts of the globe. I received some specimens of their work, which I regret exceedingly having lost.
We remained a few days longer in London, and then journeyed to Glasgow. We were in that city for a time, but to me it seemed a very different place to what it was, and we did not greatly enjoy the visit. The whole town seemed different the old familiar spots had disappeared. Towards the west, however, going up Sauchiehall street, I noticed great improvements; in fact, it looked like a new city.
We were a few days in Perth, which is a beautiful old town, with many stirring memories. Not far from Perth is the historic village of Scone, where the Kings of Scotland used to be crowned. The King's Stone, which was taken from Scone to Westminster Abbey, is still used at the coronation of British monarchs.
Leaving Perth we went on to Dumbarton, where I had many friends, and the time passed very pleasantly for some weeks. I saw very little difference in Dumbarton since I had left it, except in the matter of ship-building, which had gone ahead wonderfully.
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After a very pleasant time in Dumbarton I began to think of returning to New Zealand, leaving my wife behind me for a while. She had the offer of a house at Dunoon, which she agreed to take, and was to occupy the day after I sailed.
I took my passage in a P. & O. boat the Kaiser-a-Hind -- and journeyed to London by rail to join her, but found she was to sail from Southampton. Gibraltar was the first place of call, the sight of which recalled many memories of the past. We stayed there till the advertised time of sailing, and set out for Malta. We had splendid weather during our run there. Some of us went ashore for about six hours in this quaint old town, and made a few purchases, including some beautiful lace, for which the island is famed. The only difference I could see in the people was that they had copied a good many English customs, and they had cabs for hire; but business seemed to be carried on in much the same way as on my former visit.
Our next call was at Port Said, where we waited all night for the signal. In those days a ship could not go through the canal during the night. We went for a stroll through the town. It seemed a good place to spend money in, but I did not think it would be a nice place to live in for any length of time. The land is very level at Port Said. In one saloon we got plenty of music from violins played by women. Drinks were very dear, a bottle of lemonade costing as much as 4s. Of course the bottles were larger than our bottles of the same beverage.
Suez seemed a miserable, dirty place. The people are very primitive in their ways. The old-fashioned water-carriers were to be seen there, carrying water in dogskins. We remained two days, waiting for the mails from Alexandria. Ladies in Suez are very fond of donkey rides. It is a cheap method of getting to the town--the charge from the Harbour to the town being only 1s. I was wandering round while at Suez, and went into a shop where they were hammering an iron plate, piercing rivet-holes in it. There were several big men
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in the place, and they were doing the work by manual labour, instead of by machinery. I was greatly interested, and watched them closely, but on looking down I saw that they were all chained together by the leg. It was a place for keeping convicts. I thought I had got low enough now, surely, and went out and down a street, when lo! I ran into a gang of the same class, guarded by two policemen, each with a rifle. I was sorry I missed a trip to Moses' Well--the same now as it was in his day. I got a peep at it through my glass. Dogs are much respected in Egypt--one dare not kill a dog. In some places the dogs keep to their own streets, and should one trespass in any other dogs' street, the trespasser is liable to be worried.
Next morning we started up the Red Sea en route for Aden. The boatswain, a very intelligent man, who had been many years in the P. & O. boats, pointed out to me Mounts Ararat and Sinai. The latter is much higher than the former. The coast is barren coming up to Aden, and the town is a miserable, dreary place. The natives amused us very much by diving for small coins.
The next place of interest on the voyage was the Straits of Babel-Mandeb. Perhaps the history of how this place fell into the hands of the British would be interesting. It is a high rock and a good place to put guns, and there would be no passing of them. Two warships were lying there, a Britisher and a Frenchman, and the officers of both met on shore. A Frenchman in confidence told one of the English officers that they were going out in the morning to hoist the French flag on Babel-Mandeb. The British did not wait for the morning, but went during the night and hoisted their flag on the spot. Morning came, and when the Frenchmen got there, they found the British ensign floating over Babel-Mandeb, and a number of jolly tars busy erecting a gun. We enjoyed ourselves very much on board with concerts, &c, every evening.
We next called at Point de Galle in Ceylon, spending two nights and one day, and had to tranship into the Cathay.
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Point de Galle is a pretty place, but the heat while we were on shore was excessive. One can spend time there very agreeably, finding plenty to entertain. The native aristocrats walked through the streets with a diamond ring on each finger, and on one toe. A paper umbrella and a fancy waist-cloth usually completes his costume. We saw many beautiful flowers, but they emit no perfume.
Leaving Point de Galle, we had splendid weather and a very enjoyable passage to Albany, where we called to take in coal. We went ashore, and spent some time looking round. It seemed a very dismal place. Everything seemed dull and half dead. I got into conversation with an old Scotchman. We were passing his gate, and hearing me talk he said: "Gude day tae ye, Scottie!" "Gude day," I replied, and we chatted together for some time. He seemed pleased to hear all I could tell him of his native land.
Leaving Albany, we set out for Adelaide, where we stayed one day--a Sunday. We landed at Glenelg and went by rail to the town. I was very much delighted with Adelaide--it is so systematically planned. The buildings look very light, and there are trees planted in abundance. Towards the afternoon the wind rose, and sand and dust blew thick and fast. It was terrible. We went into a hotel to have a drink, and I asked if these dust storms were of common occurrence. They replied in the affirmative, and told us such storms are known as "Adelaide snow." Glenelg is really a pretty little place. We took on some passengers--so many, in fact, that every available space was utilised--and proceeded on our way, in due time reaching Williamstown. I noticed a man getting the New Zealand mails ready to put on board the steamer, and asked him where she was. He pointed and said: "There she is coming down the Yarra." I said, "If I get my traps, will you take me?" He said he would; so I gathered all my belongings together, stepped into the little craft, and before long was safely on board the Te Anau. We set sail that night. There was a jolly crowd on board, including some young ladies and gentlemen who seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly.
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Nothing happened worth mentioning during the voyage, and after four or live days we arrived at the Bluff, where I took farewell of the Te Anau. The Bluff being a small place, it docs not take much time, to see all there is to be seen. The only time the Bluff is nice is on a fine summer day then it is at its best. I hastened to Invercargill, where I remained for a few days enjoying myself very well, and killing time pleasantly. I met a friend there, and we made several trips to the theatre together, which were very enjoyable. We started by rail for our respective homes, his being in Dunedin. I bade my friend good-bye when the train stopped at Kaihiku, and set off to Glenfalloch, where I arrived safely, to the no small surprise of my man, who looked as if he could not believe his eyes.
1 found everything right; the animals and all else about the place seemed well taken care of. Sheep shearing time was approaching, and we set about getting all ready for it. That year we had a large number of animals to put through, but we got over the performance, and then attended to other necessary work. There is always plenty to do on a farm-- something requiring repairs, fences to he mended, and so on. Then the live stock has to be looked after. Should an animal be sick, it requires tending as well as a human being. One could not afford to let the animals die, which would happen if you neglected to nurse them when out of sorts.
One thing happened while I was away which grieved me very much --the death of a favourite horse called Norval. He was a great pet of both my wife and myself, and was twenty-five years old. He disappeared, and no trace of him could be found. The man could not think what had become of him, and I was also at a loss to know; but one day I went into a clump of dense bush near the house, and there I found the remains of poor Norval. After all he was within a few yards of our home. He had evidently been forcing his way through, when a supplejack caught him across the neck, went over his shoulder and under his fore-leg, and there he was held till death freed him. Poor Norval!
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I was asked about this time to give, at a soiree at Warepa, a short account of my trip Home and back. The folks seemed to enjoy it, and applauded frequently. I gave them as good a description as I could in the time, and brought the speech to a close "amid renewed cheers." I thought my address had lasted about fifteen minutes, but when talking to Mr Fleming, reporter for the Clutha Leader, he told me I had occupied the platform for three quarters of an hour. It seemed almost incredible to me, but it must have been so, I suppose.
Before leaving my wife at Dunoon I arranged to return to Scotland and bring her out again, and it was now time to set about fulfilling my promise. Accordingly, after seeing that all was right, and putting my affairs in order, I got ready for the long journey.