1854 - Richardson, J. A Summer's Excursion in New Zealand - CHAPTER IX, p 242-248

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  1854 - Richardson, J. A Summer's Excursion in New Zealand - CHAPTER IX, p 242-248
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THE summer's excursion has now closed, and the sun, having touched its southern bound, is now moving northward to revisit other lands, and bids me travel with it to the fast anchored isle of the distant west. When I bade adieu to the chalky cliffs of Old England, the golden crops were inviting the reaper's hand; on sighting the snow-capped summits of the New Zealand ranges the summer's sun was already filling the swelling ears and promising a rich and plenteous harvest; and now, again, I stand amid the fields of ripening corn in the land of the brave and the free. Almost within the year the globe has been embraced, and the islands of the east and west have been gazed on while clothed in their gayest garb. Does the contrast dishearten or dull the enthusiasm which invested the former with charms sufficiently powerful to allure me to undertake so distant a voyage? Looking simply to personal enjoyment, there is no question where life would present the most attractions; but looking to the future of a family, and reaping the rich fruits which the consciousness of a compliance with the claims of duty will ever yield, there can be still less doubt which is to be preferred.

If there is one point I would wish to impress more

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thoroughly than another, it is the necessity that the intending colonist should look beyond the present: not that I would disparage the enjoyments which the well regulated mind can extract under any circumstances, and still less those solid rewards which constant employment, in an excellent climate, cannot fail to afford; yet there are deprivations which must inevitably be his lot, and to face which manfully will be his interest as well as his duty.

The time is not so remote but that many may remember it, when to travel beyond the limits of our sea-girt coast was considered to be an act of no ordinary curiosity; when the journey from the metropolis to the land's end warranted the setting of one's bouse in order; and when voluntary expatriation never entered the head of a sound judging Englishman; but now "a change has come o'er the spirit of our dream," distance has been annihilated, a Briton's home is beneath the shadow of his flag which floats where'er the breezes blow; he encompasses the globe with infinitely less doubt than he once spanned the breadth of his own isle, and he can denationalize himself with as much facility as he formerly could dissolve a city partnership. Still there are those who cannot look for the last time on the smiling plains of their own island home without a deep-drawn sigh, who cannot grasp the friendly hand which they may never again hold without deep emotion, or watch the glistening eye and choking utterances of suppressed affection without a pang; the village bell sounds in their ear the knell of departing joys, the yeoman's hearty farewell speaks of ties

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they may never form again, and in every sound and in every prospect they hear and see the language of associations deeply intertwined with their very being; thus feeling, they may falter but not faint, for they console themselves with the reflection that

"True happiness has no localities,
No tones provincial, no peculiar garb.
Where duty went, she went; with justice went,
And went with meekness, charity, and love.
Where'er a pious act was done, or breathed
A pious prayer, or wished a pious wish,
There was a high and holy place, a spot
Of sacred light, a most religious fane
Where happiness, descending, sat and smiled."

Is this picture drawn in too sombre a tint? does it convey an idea of self immolation, a casting oneself beneath the car of Juggernauth for a future blessing? if such be the impression conveyed the artist is but a clumsy limner. There are pleasures of no ordinary stamp which a colonial life alone can afford, to say nothing of the health-giving, energizing influence of successful operations beneath an Italian sky. We might dwell on the nobler joys attending the developement of an infant settlement, and by anticipation view its emergence into the maturity of the parent state; or picture the country, by nature so well adapted for the change, covered with elegant mansions and well planned homesteads, pleasingly diversified by rich pastures, waving crops, and stately woods; or view, revived as of old, the village Church with its ac-

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companying blessings permeating and sanctifying the surrounding poor; all these we might prospectively enjoy, not as possible, or even probable, but as assured realities; but there are other sources of pleasure the possession of which he may at once enter on. Among them might be enumerated the blessed freedom from all the extreme conventionalities of an over etherealised state of society, a freedom confined only within the heaven-born rule which inculcates our loving our neighbour as ourselves; a state, where to labour is no disgrace, and to educate a family so as to enliven and adorn the domestic hearth and not the theatre of the world alone, is no wild chimera; where you may mount your horse and roam amid the wide-spread prairies without a reference to the latest rules of taste and fashion, or be in agonies lest your coat or your bonnet should catalogue you as a denizen of a bygone age; where the friendly shake is in general the language of a friendly heart, and sympathy is not measured by the breadth of the sable-bordered note of condolence: in fine, where the interchange of social kindness is more especially regarded as the natural condition of humanity. These are among the happy ingredients which compose a colonial life: but we must turn to other subjects, and give a few cautionary hints.

"Which settlement do you recommend?" is a question that is often asked, but one which I cannot satisfactorily answer, for I have only visited three out of the six; but should the colonist visit Canterbury in the first instance he cannot go far astray; and if his means should

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not admit of his personally investigating the claims of Wellington, Nelson, and New Plymouth, which lie contiguous, he may settle down at once under the conviction that he cannot have erred materially; but should his funds allow, he will do well to visit these settlements, and Otago to the south, and Auckland to the North, before he localizes his capital. Steamers now are, or shortly will be, puffing through the straits, and his wish may be gratified at no great expenditure of time and money.

If the colonist is a labourer, or a mechanic, without any extraordinary qualification for a town life, I would most earnestly invite him to press forward to the interior: if he roots himself in the town, his change to the antipodes will have done him little good, for he will enjoy abundant leisure and abundant facilities for reviving his alehouse associations and pursuits; while in the country he must accumulate his savings and eventually emerge into a substantial cattle or land farmer.

"What preparation for the voyage do you recommend?" is another question which is often put. As little as cleanliness and comfort will admit of. Avoid all superfluities, but procure from a first-rate establishment what you do purchase; eschew slop-shops and temptation to buy what does not appear in your well and leisurely adopted list of necessities. A shilling saved is a shilling gained. Do not burthen yourself with the lumber of agricultural, farming, or household implements, nor snail-like carry your house on your back; by

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the time you have located yourself, such articles will have cost you a sum which you would be overjoyed to realize for them. Let your worldly goods be in the shape of money, in good bills, or insured gold. Select a ship belonging to, or chartered by a well established firm, and when on board do your utmost to add to the general comfort, and detract from the unavoidable inconveniences.

After you have selected your settlement, be slow in deciding on a locality. A hasty decision may involve the total overthrow of all your well planned schemes. Be cautious and inquiring; visit freely, collect data, compare accounts, and when the decision is made, do not fancy you might have done better, but set doggedly to work and do your best in the position in which you find yourself.

Perhaps a well intended hint not to overlook religious advantages may be pardoned, when the reader is assured that it arises not from any overweening presumption or vainly imagined superiority of religious belief and practice; far, very far different are the writer's feelings in such an allusion, for he is but too painfully alive to the deadening influence of continued mental and physical employment, and the absence or negation of religious privileges, to use other language than that of kindly suggestion. If life be a journey, a state of probation for eternity, and though it may be overlooked or dismissed from the mind, can it be denied? then religion may justly claim our first, most earnest, and most unceasing attention. The

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words of Sir Walter Scott, in the Hymn of the Hebrew Maid, when the harp of Judah hung on the willows by Babylon's streams, and when in her lonely isolation she fondly dwelt on the period blessed by a pillar of cloud as a guide both by day and by night, may very properly be recalled by the colonist amid the silent solitudes of the distant east.

But present still, though now unseen!--
When brightly shines the prosperous day,
Be thoughts of THEE a cloudy screen
To temper the deceitful ray.
And, oh! when stoops on Judah's path,
In shade and storm the frequent night,
Be THOU, long suffering, slow to wrath,
A burning and a shining light."

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