CHAPTER XXIV. OPENING COMMUNICATION WITH THE WEST COAST.
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OPENING COMMUNICATION WITH THE WEST COAST.
Opening the way to the West Coast. --Arduous nature of the undertaking. --The fatalities of 1863. --The story of the loss of Mr. Whitcombe. --Loss of Mr. Charlton Howitt and Party. --Life and Character of Mr. Charlton Howitt. Sojourn in Australia. --Employed in Canterbury to seek for gold. --Engaged in making a bridle-road over the mountains to the West Coast. --Reputation for zeal and energy. --Progress of the work. --Wetness of the West Coast. -- Mode of subsistence in the mountains. --Bird-catching. --Mr. Sherrins' account of crossing the mountains. --The grandeur of the mountain scenery. --The charms of the forests of New Zealand. --Enormous and curious trees. --Mr. Howitt and two men drowned in Lake Brunner. --The sufferings of James Hammett the survivor. --Unavailing researches for the remains of the drowned. --Subsequent drowning of Mr. Townsend in the Grey. --Remarks on the climate of the West Coast. --Concluding remarks. --Probable extinction of the native race. --Remarkable exemplification of native rights by a native. --Persuasion of the Maories of their own fate. --Appeal to our countrymen in New Zealand on their behalf.
COMPARATIVELY small as is the breadth of the islands of New Zealand, yet the height and extent of its mountains, the impetuous rapidity of its rivers, descending from the steep declivities of ranges from 10,000 to 12,000 feet in height, and the denseness of its woods, thick grown with supplejacks and knit together with vines, have made it arduous work for those who have attempted to open up its savage hills and intricate defiles to the passage of civilization. In the Middle Island Mr. Brunner explored at great risk, and amid much hardship, its mountain heights; Hr. Haast, the government geologist, has made these tracks more known, and pointed out fresh saddles and ways of access. Others, equally adventurous but less fortunate, have laid down their lives in these patriotic enterprises. Perhaps in no country are the casualties of drowning so numerous in proportion to the population. The rivers descend with such momentum and velocity from the precipitous hills that persons even passing known fords are continually swept away irresistibly. So that drowning has been said to be a natural death in these islands.
The year 1863 was prolific of such fatalities amongst
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FATALITIES OF THE YEAR 1863.
gentlemen in the public service, whose employments led them into the mountains, and required them to cross lakes and rivers. Amongst these was Mr. Whitcombe the civil engineer, a young man of great spirit and power of endurance. He was sent out to endeavour to discover a passage through the range of mountains which separate the east and west sides of the Middle Island. The discovery of extensive fields of gold and coal on the western slopes of the mountains, made such a passage of the highest importance.
The voyage round the island was circuitous and frequently dangerous: a tolerably direct road by land was most desirable. Mr. Whitcombe set out from Christchurch on the 13th of April, 1863, with an ample supply of men, horses, and provisions, but after crossing the Rakaia, on entering the mountains, he soon found that these were useless, for the most part. The horses could not clamber where it was necessary to go; the men carrying their own provisions would consume them without adding to the speed or success of the expedition. He, therefore, sent men and horses back, retaining only Mr. Louper, a Swiss, accustomed to mountain climbing, and as much provision as they could carry on their backs.
They came upon a deep fissure in the mountains, and Mr. Whitcombe thinking this would prove the pass they sought, calculated that they could find their way to the saddle of the Teramakau, in ten days. If their provisions fell short, they could, he said, fall hack on Mr. Howitt's tent on Lake Brunner. In the passes of the mountains, they were soon enveloped in blinding snow, and cut off from all apparent progress by gigantic walls of ice. The snowing soon changed to raining, and all at once they found themselves stopped by a perpendicular fall of the river into the pass, descending from rock to rock, into a roaring whirlpool below. They could not now return, as the pass behind them was snowed up; and to all but a Swiss mountaineer, to cross this cataract and gulf would have been impossible, but by letting
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THE STORY OF THE LOSS OF MR. WHITCOMBE.
himself down from rock to rock by the rope, Louper managed to get across, and by fastening the rope to the rocks on the other side, got over their swags, and finally Mr. Whitcombe, Louper having, however, to descend himself up to the neck in the boiling abyss.
Thus, repeatedly crossing torrents and scrambling over rocks, their food getting short, their covering insufficient for the severe nights, they at length came out on the other side of the mountains. They found that the river they were upon was the Hokatika, and on its banks they discovered traces of gold. On reaching the sea-shore they followed the beach to the River Brunner. Prom the time they left the Rakaia to their reaching the sea was thirteen days. They were now in the extremities of famine, for their provisions husbanded with the utmost care, had been totally exhausted for several days. To their consternation and despair, they found the huts of the Maories, where they had confidently expected relief, totally deserted, and destitute of all provisions. In one of the gardens they found a little cabbage and a handful of very small potatoes, which they cooked and eat. They then walked on in this exhausted state, waded up to their chests across the Brunner, and pursued the coast to the Teramakau, but again found no one there. The next morning they could see the Maori Pah on the other side, but, as no smoke issued from it, they feared that that side of the river was deserted too. Mr. Whitcombe was bent on crossing the river where they were, and thought it might be done on two logs of wood tied together. Louper declared it to be impossible, saying that he had crossed there twice in a canoe with five men and a Maori, but it was all they could do to row over from the force of the stream. He advised that they should ascend the river for some distance, and endeavour to catch some wood-hens for food, and cross where it was practicable.
Mr. Whitcombe, who dreaded in their enfeebled state to encounter the woods again, especially as they found that all the wood-hens in the tracts they had lately
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DEATH OF MR. WHITCOMBE.
passed, had been killed by the wild dogs, would not listen to this; and finding two old native canoes, he commenced lashing them together by tying two poles across them with flax. Louper helped, and also prepared two oars and two steering poles from young trees, and, though Louper had no hope, they began to cross. In vain had Louper assured Mr. Whitcombe, that they might reach an island which appeared in the middle of the stream, but there they would be swamped, or swept out to sea by the violence of the current. Mr. Whitcombe was deaf to remonstrance, for he saw no chance of escaping death by starvation, except by getting over the river. They entered the boat, reached the island, but the moment they shot beyond it, the boat was swept down the current and began to sink under them. Mr. Whitcombe then seeing the full and awful truth of Louper's assertions, exclaimed, --"We are lost! it is all my fault!"-and pulling off his coat, plunged into the water, to attempt to swim to land. Louper who remained in the boat, was carried away with arrow speed, and was soon whirled over and over in the surf, and finally hurled out upon the sand. When he began to recover his senses and composure, he saw himself standing alone on the desert sands, saved from the water, but with every prospect of perishing by famine on land. His first care, however, was to seek for his companion, and he soon found his dead body flung on the beach, and his head plunged into the sands. After burying his remains as well as he could, having no instrument but his hands to do it with, and in a state of fearful exhaustion from previous famine, and immediate violence of the surf, he managed to make his way to a Maori hut, where he obtained a few potatoes, and by help of these he reached the party under Mr. Charlton Howitt, who were making the horse track over the mountains, and were camped near Lake Brunner. There he arrived a most pitiable spectacle, famished, drenched with wet, perishing with cold, his clothes being saturated with water and sand, and his body, as it were,
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MR. LOUPER RETURNS WITH THE SAD NEWS.
bedded in it. He was speedily furnished with food and warm tea; his clothes were stripped off, his body washed, and he was put to bed. By the hospitable care, of this party, in a few days he was sufficiently recovered to be able to proceed on his journey to Christchurch to convey to the government and to his wife and friends the melancholy news of the fate of poor Whitcombe. As Mr. Howitt was wishing to send his horses for the winter down to Mr. Taylor's station, which was on Louper's way, he was mounted on one of these, and furnished with provisions, so that he could lead the other. The poor fellow took his leave of his entertainers, who had no doubt been the savers of his life, with deep emotion. "I came here," he said, "like a beggar, perishing from cold and hunger, and sinking with fatigue, and now I go away refreshed, clothed, strengthened, and on horseback like a gentleman!"
Little did he think that the head of that party, who had given him such timely help, and two of his men were soon themselves to disappear from amongst men without possibility of mortal aid.
LOSS OF MR. CHARLTON HOWITT AND PARTY.
I now come to a narrative which nearly concerns myself. It has been my fortune to have my only two sons engaged in the work of opening-up the wilderness of the antipodes. The share taken in the exploration of Australia by my eldest son, the discoverer of the lost expedition of Burke and Wills, is well known, and is narrated in these volumes. That of my second son, in aiding the accessibility of the interior of New Zealand, I shall now state in as succinct a form as I can. This story is one that may serve as a stimulus to young men in a life of simple and unswerving devotion to the cause of virtue and of progress.
Herbert Charlton Howitt, born at Esher in the year 1838, was remarkable from his infancy for his intense love of nature, and especially for all her forms of animal life. It was his intensest pleasure as a little boy to
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EARLY LIFE OF MR. CHARLTON HOWITT.
watch all the proceedings of animals, birds, and insects. He soon became as familiar with them as if he had been admitted by them to all their tenements, and their most secret practices. This disposition grew up with him. For town and conventional life he had not the smallest taste. The warm friendship of a few congenial people, and the enjoyment of the country and its objects, made the constant happiness of his life. Of all the knowledge connected with these things and this life, he had a ready power of acquisition, for the classical and many other departments of knowledge in which so many years of youthful existence are usually spent laboriously, only to be insensibly dropped on the after highways of the world, he had no desire. Work, in gardening, farming, or in constructing the implements and apparatus for these fields of labour, was a sort of passion with him, and it is a singular fact, that scarcely any one who knew him can recollect him ever saying that he was weary. The vigour of his frame, created by this simple, healthy, and active mode of life, was, as it seemed, inexhaustible. For a series of years he walked to the City of London every day, Sundays excepted, a distance of five miles, and back again, thus ten miles a day, walked generally most days some miles about town on business, and both in the morning before going to town, and in the evening after his return, worked in a large garden, in which, as with an avarice of labour, he scarcely allowed any other person to do anything, even of the more laborious kinds of exertion. Sometimes he varied this routine by setting off, after his ten miles' walk to and from Town, including the day's business, to visit some of his most intimate friends, five miles off, and again frequently returning the same evening. Two years in which he lived with myself and his brother in the Australian bush, were, perhaps, his beau ideal of life's perfection. There, travelling on from day to day through the forests, or camping on the banks of some pleasant stream, his mind was constantly engaged in observing the new forms of nature and animal life around him. Trees, flowers, the infinite
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HIS QUALIFICATIONS FOR AN EXPLORER.
variety of birds and insects, the flying-fox and squirrel, the climbing opossum, the bounding kangaroo, the glittering shapes, and quaint cries of emus, pelicans, native-companions, the gliding serpent, and the soaring eagle, were a perpetual delight to him, yet little more than a boy. With his train of dogs, he would set out to seek the horses which had strayed during the night in the forests, and amid these various tenants of the woods and the waters whole days would glide over him as a dream. No place was too solitary, no wilderness too vast for him; amid nature and her numerous and ever-varied family, he was everywhere at home.
New Zealand became the country of his choice, and though he passed through several disappointments and hardships there, he grew most affectionately attached to it. Perhaps no person of his age, but five-and-twenty at his death, was ever more qualified for the life of an explorer or pioneer of civilization. From the time when he reluctantly returned with me from Australia, to that of his going out to New Zealand, he never, if he could avoid it, slept in a bed. Rolled up in his blanket, or his opossum rug, with a pillow under his head, on the floor, and his window set invariably open, summer and winter, thus he slept, and sometimes awoke in the morning with a pile of drifted snow on his head, but never took cold, except when the housemaid had closed his chamber-window by mistake, and he had slept without observing it!
In the Canterbury settlement, his rare qualifications for an explorer, and the general energy and uprightness of his character, soon attracted the attention of the Government. He was first employed in an expedition for the discovery of a gold-field, and during the last six months of his life in cutting a horse-track over the mountains between Christchurch and the western coast, where extensive gold and coal-fields had been found. I may quote from the Canterbury journals, and from official reports, the circumstances connected with this un-
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EMPLOYED BY GOVERNMENT.
dertaking. The following is from the Lyttleton Times of September 12th, 1803: -
"Last week will long be memorable as having brought us the intelligence of the death of one of the most active and intelligent explorers who has ever responded to the call which has so often to be made in a new and partially-explored country by those whose duty it is to open-up the waste, by forcing roads through what has hitherto been impenetrable mountains and forests. It is now just nine months since Mr. Wylde, as acting head of the public works department, was instructed by the Government to endeavour to cut a track from the Hurunui Plains to the mouth of the Grey or Teramakau, on the West Coast. In pursuance of these instructions, he engaged the services of Mr. Charlton Howitt, who had been previously engaged in exploring for gold in that locality. This gentleman started on the first of January last, accompanied by five men, taking with him two pack-horses, and the necessary outfit, with instructions to track out a line of road on a route indicated by Mr. Wylde, and, if possible, to open it for pack-horse traffic from Lake Taylor to the coast. No one could have been chosen more fitted for this work than Mr. Howitt, a young, active man, somewhat below the ordinary stature, but possessed of immense energy and endurance. No amount of danger or fatigue seemed able to daunt him, and in the prosecution of his work he has been known to carry on his back for twenty miles at a stretch, and over mountains, and through rivers, which would have turned back most men, loads of flour and other necessaries for the use of his companions, which would generally have been considered sufficient for a pack-horse. Out of the five men who accompanied Howitt, two were soon sent back by him as unable to endure the hardships incidental to the work; but with the other three he succeeded in marking out, and cutting, where necessary, a track for a length of about forty miles, over the great dividing range, and down the Teramakau,
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HIS INDEFATIGABLE EXERTIONS.
until he encountered what was before known to be the great difficulty to be overcome. This difficulty occurs at a part of the river where it is shut in by rugged, perpendicular rocks for many miles, covered on their summits by dense, impenetrable bush. The only way of passing down the river from this point was by the aid of Mokis (rafts made of flax sticks), which, on being launched on the river, are swept down between the rocks with fearful rapidity.
"As it was useless to attempt to carry the road further in this direction, and the provisions being nearly exhausted, Mr. Howitt returned to Christchurch for instructions. As the winter was then approaching, and it was known that the pass over the mountains would probably be blocked up with snow for some months, it became a grave question whether the prosecution of the work should not be suspended until the spring; but at the urgent request of Mr. Howitt, and his representation that he could support himself and party in a great measure through the winter on the natural productions of the country--such as eels and wild-fowl--Mr. Wylde consented to fit him out again with a fresh supply of provisions, etc., and he again started with instructions to endeavour to carry on the track, by leaving the Teramakau, and striking across the country for Lake Brunner, following the shore of the lake, and then back to the river beyond the point of difficulty.
"The plan of operations embraced the packing over the hills of flour, etc. sufficient for the winter months, and then sending the horses back to Mr. Taylor's station, there not being sufficient food to keep them during the winter on the other side. The packing occupied about six weeks, and then Jacob Louper, the companion of the unfortunate Mr. Whitcombe, having made his way to Mr. Howitt's camp, and having been most kindly treated by him, the horses were given to him to help him over the Teramakau saddle to Mr. Taylor's station. How little could Mr. Howitt have supposed, when succouring Louper, that himself and two
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WEATHER CONTINUALLY WET.
out of his three companions were so soon to share the fate of the lamented Mr. Whitcombe."
I may here interrupt the narrative to remark that Charlton with his love of work, partook of all the labours and hardships of his men. He never asked them to do a thing which he would not assist in doing himself. As to "roughing it," he persuaded his men to continue at their labour under circumstances that perhaps no other man could. The climate of New Zealand in the lowlands on the east coast is deemed delicious, but in the mountains and on the west coast, the rains are something extraordinary for strength and continuance. From Charlton's private diary, for months together they seem to have scarcely had a fair day. The journal of Mr. R. A. A. Sherrin, in a journey to the west coast, published in the Christchurch Press, January, 1864, confirms this view of the climate in those parts. The journal of the unfortunate Hammett does the same. This is especially so in the winter months. Mr. Sherrin's journey over the mountains, and westward, commenced on the 21st of June, and lasted six months. This was, of course, during part of the winter, and through the spring to midsummer, and this is his concluding entry regarding the weather-- "Whatever may be the cause, there is no doubt that a more considerable quantity of rain falls on the western than on the eastern side of the province. I remember only three fine weeks during the six months we were on the coast." He adds, "I have, however, reason to believe that the cold there is not so excessive, as on this side of the island. In rainy weather the mercury is scarcely ever below 50°. Notwithstanding the quantity of heavy fogs and mists continually arising, the place may be considered eminently healthy. None of us had even a cold during the whole of the winter, and from ailments of every kind we were singularly free. The natives appear to live to a good old age unless cut off by accident." Of course, the cold in the lofty mountain ranges is very much greater. There are glaciers, and avalanches as in the European Alps. Mr. Sherrin
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A MISERABLE JOURNEY.
gives some little idea of the weather in the spring month of August, in the very region where my son and his party were at work during the winter, and where they lost their lives. "From the solicitations of Mr. Townsend, I consented to go with him, and form a party for the purpose of searching Lake Brunner, to endeavour to discover the bodies of Mr. Howitt and his men. On the 11th of August we left the Grey with the intention of searching the lake thoroughly, and making a canoe there. It was not until the 25th of the month that we reached the lake. Oh! the unutterable misery of that journey! Rain every day; directed wrongly by the natives; having to cut a line through three or four miles of bad bush, this trip, as a whole, is the worst and hardest that I remember in the whole course of my life. Wet through all the time; scarcely ever dry at night; freshes every hour; a mist heavy and dense, covering everything, the journey was worse than description can paint it. Gone astray; two men knocked up, no chance of retracing our steps, the trip was one that will long be remembered. While travelling the bush, how vividly Humboldt's description of South America are remembered. The density of the vegetation; the rottenness of the soil, the wonderful amount of rain and water; the thousands of decomposed and decomposing trees; the being hemmed in on every side by keikei, supplejack, and tatarama; the network of roots to crawl leisurely over; the canons and rivers to cross and recross with a heavy swag, will only give an idea of travelling in constant rain."
Such was the place, the scene, the weather, and obstacles, against which my son and his party were laboriously forcing their way through the winter months, but which his enthusiasm in performing a public and most necessary work, made him write in his diary, after an encounter of months of such light with the elements, the savage forest, and the rocks, --"And yet I like it!" It may be wondered how he expected to find food in such a region? Sometimes they were compelled to
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FEARFUL PRIVATIONS ENDURED.
descend to the west coast for flour, tea, sugar, etc., and to carry them up through these dripping woods and hills; but they had abundance of fish, and especially eels, in the waters, and the mode of catching birds there is something curious to our European notions.
The Maories have a mode of calling the birds in the country around them, by making a peculiar noise with a leaf in their mouths. I saw this experiment tried by the New Zealand natives lately, in London, in a party in some suburban pleasure grounds, to which they had been invited, and they were much surprised to see our birds, instead of being attracted by the call, fly away. In New Zealand, my son had learned this call, and could, on any occasion in the forest assemble around him an audience of numerous and various birds, like another St. Francis, about to preach to them. Amongst the New Zealand birds is one of such extreme simplicity, called the Wood Hen, that he used, at any time, where these birds abounded, to procure as many as were wanted for a meal, by going out with two long rods. At the end of one was hung a bit of red rag; at the end of the other was a noose. Having made the call, on the wood-hens running on all sides out of the thickets, he shook the red rag, and they ran forward to examine it; and whilst they were thus engaged, he slipped the noose, at the end of the other rod, over their heads, one after another, and captured what he wanted.
Of the sort of climate in which the work of my son's party was carried on, we may take another description from Mr. Sherrin's journal:-- "It continued to rain steadily from June till November 22nd, and, as a necessary consequence, all the rivers were very high. Of the many dangers encountered and privations endured in a residence for six months on the coast, continually shifting about in constant rain, a better idea can be formed than any description could give. No child's play will be found in travelling by others who will follow in our footsteps, as the fearful loss of life in the neighbourhood will testify. No pecuniary inducement would tempt me
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DESCRIPTION OF THE SCENERY.
to travel over the same ground again, in the winter months. You may rise in the morning with the conviction on your mind, that the dangers of the day may possibly be more than you can overcome. In fact, it is a country where no man's life is safe who has constantly to travel, however much experience he may possess, while the constant deaths on the coast from disaster, tend to unnerve your energies, and make you ridiculously cautious. The natives at the Grey were thoroughly persuaded that we were dead, 'like poor Howitt,' having been so impressed by visions of the night, that were corroborated by the constant rain, and almost appeared incredulous to see us safely return. Fifty times have they howled the consolation in my ear, that by-and-by I should be like poor Howitt."
And yet those mountain regions are very magnificent. "Any person," says Mr. Sherrin, "however insensible to the beauties of nature, cannot help gazing on this magnificent tier of peaks whenever the mist clears away. Only with a south-east wind will this occur, when every pinnacle, rugged outline, and snow-field will be distinctly seen. At every place along the beach, wherever the hills are visible, one's pleasure is increased by observing how the difference of position creates a different grouping, how the rugged becomes softened by distance, and that which appeared unbroken and smooth, on closer inspection is found to be broken and confused. The residents of Christchurch will never have any idea of the beauty of the west coast, until some enterprising Albert Smith brings a panorama to their Town Hall, to be appreciated by lamp-light."
The forest scenery is described by Mr. Thomson, with equal admiration: -
"Indescribable is the charm of New Zealand forests for the lovers of nature. There generations of noble trees are seen decaying, and fresh generations rising up around the moss-covered trunks of fallen patriarchs. The profound silence which reigns in these regions produces a pleasing gloom on the mind, and the scene dis-
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THE SIZE AND BEAUTY OF THE TREES.
plays, better than the most classic architecture, the grandeur of repose. No sound is heard, save the falling of trees, or the parrot's shrill screech, as birds which enliven the outskirts of forests are mute in their interior. Around the graves of past generations of trees the air is hushed into stillness, while the tops of the living generation are agitated with gales and breezes. At Christmas the pohutukaua (metrosideros) is covered with scarlet flowers, and is then the most gaudy of forest trees; and the rimu (dacrydium cupressimum) possesses a melancholy beauty, and an indescribable grandeur. Few of the pines recall to the settler's eyes the same trees in England, and, singular to relate, unlike their congeners, the majority of them grow intermixed with other trees. The celebrated and beautiful kauri (dammara australis), is the only pine bearing a cone, and the male and female cones are found on the same tree."
Of the size of these trees Mr. Darwin gives us a good idea. "I measured," he says, "one of the famous kauri pines, and found it thirty-one feet in circumference above the roots. I heard of one no less than forty feet. They are remarkable for their smooth, cylindrical boles, which run up to a height of sixty, and even ninety feet, with a nearly equal diameter, and without a single branch."
Still more wonderful is the pohutukaua, or rata tree of New Zealand, mentioned above (metrosideros robusta). The stranger in the forest sees a slender, creeping plant on the ground, more resembling a running moss, or weed, than anything. It is the infant rata, seeking a tree up which to climb. Still it creeps onwards, till, finding a tree, up it goes. It runs rapidly up it. It encloses it on all sides. Still ascending, it at length reaches the loftiest summit. It throws out a head, which smothers the native head of the tree, and the once wiry threads, swelling into thick stems, all unite together, destroy the original usurped bole, and becomes a tree. It assumes a massive trunk, solid as teak, and admirable for shipbuilding, whilst its magnificent head, towering over the
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MR. C. HOWITT AND TWO OF THE MEN LOST.
forest, catches the eye everywhere with its blaze of scarlet flowers.
Amid this superb, but dangerous and inclement scenery, Charlton Howitt and his three men had for six months been forcing their way, following the courses of the rivers Hurunui and Teramakau for the most part, examining these rivers for fords, and planting flags to mark them to the traveller. They had arrived at the Brunner, a lake of some ten miles long, and five wide, and were cutting the road along its margin. As the thickness of the bush yet uncut prevented them getting their stores from the west coast to their hut, these were deposited on the other side of the lake in a wooden hut raised on poles, called a watti, or whata. To cross to this, they constructed a canoe, after the fashion of those of the natives, of green pine, and Charlton, in his letters, describes the pleasure with which they launched this canoe from a cliff, and saw it plunge deep under water, and then rise and swim buoyantly on the surface. In this canoe they had crossed the lake repeatedly, to fetch stores from the watti. Once more Charlton set out with two of the men, Robert Little, and Henry Muller, on Saturday, June 27th, to fetch some flour from the watti, and to fish for eels in the river Arnold, which runs out of the head of the lake. They left James Belgrave Hammett alone in the hut. The next day, the wind rose, and it rained heavily. On Monday it was fine, but still blowing. Tuesday and Wednesday passing without their return, Hammett in great alarm set off to walk, or, rather, wade, round the lake, through deep bogs and water, often up to his chest, to seek his missing companions. Finding he could not get further along the swampy shore, Hammett made a raft, and coasted the lake, camping on shore on Thursday night; and on Friday and Saturday he makes these notices in his diary, which include all the discoveries that have ever been made of the fate of the missing party.
"Friday, July 3. Started again. On going round a bend of the lake, near the mouth of the Hohono, I saw
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PROOF THAT THEY WERE DROWNED.
something lying on the beach which, to my dismay, on reaching it, proved to be Mr. Howitt's swag rolled up in the little calico tent which he used for travelling with. This, by preventing the blanket becoming soaked with water, had been blown on shore. I searched all around, hut I could see nothing else. I have, therefore, every reason for supposing that the canoe sank with them during the strong wind that has been blowing. The canoe was but of green wood, and floated scarcely three inches out of the water in smooth weather. I took the swag along with me to my watti, made a fire to dry the papers, and camped there. It rained heavily.
"Saturday, July 4. Still raining heavily. Started round the lake again towards the Arnold. Saw no sign of smoke in any direction, no portion of the canoe, nothing which indicated that Mr. Howitt and my mates were alive. I made fast the raft at the mouth of the river, and went down along its bank. I saw that they had been there, because their bobs and lines were there. I made myself a bit of a hut of some flax, and camped till morning. Still raining very heavily, and the lake still rising. I saw no other sign save what I have stated, that Mr. Howitt had been here."
And that is the whole which has transpired of the fate of Charlton Howitt and his two men. Poor Hammett, after getting back to the hut, in the faint hope that they might have reached it by some other way, and finding all as he had left it, set out once more to examine every portion of the lake shores for traces of his lost companions. In this research he persevered in a state of starvation and drenched with continual rains, making raft after raft, and going round and round and round the lake but without any the slightest further discovery. His state of mind was bordering on madness. In his entry of July 7th, he says:-- "Rain pouring as hard as ever, I feel lonely, miserable, and cold indeed. No fire, nothing to eat, nothing of any kind, but a little fire and cold water. To tell all the imaginings which are continually passing through my mind could do no good. Frequently,
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DESTITUTE STATE OF THE SURVIVOR.
during the last few days, while sitting in this downpouring rain, and while perfectly awake, have I fancied that I could see Mr. Howitt and the others walking towards me, first in one direction and then in another. By an effort, I have shook off this depressing dulness, and have then spoken with my faithful dog as though he was a Christian. Again I wonder whether I shall be able to recover the bodies, that I may give them a burial in a place which I may be able to point out to their surviving friends. No human being can conceive my almost maddening thoughts. If it should please God that I become insane, what will become of me?"
Driven by famine and his ever haunting thoughts, after being twenty-three days on the lake without seeing a sign of any living person, he made one more visit to the hut at their camp, and finding all as he had left it, he started for the Buller diggings, quite certain that his companions had perished. He carried with him Mr. Howitt's tin of maps and papers, and only reached the Teramakau diggings to find them deserted. In a state of the extremest exhaustion, his feet swollen with the rough ground he had had to pass, he reached the beach near the mouth of the Teramakau, where he was kindly received by Mr. Sherrin. This gentleman, in company with Mr. Townsend, the government officer at the Grey, set off to the Lake Brunner, and made a five days' search for the remains of the lost party. In vain: not a trace was discoverable. Afterwards Mr. Sherrin traced the sea-shore for a hundred miles, to see whether the canoe or the oars had been washed to sea, and then thrown on land again, as whatever is carried down those rivers from the lake Brunner is thus cast up again. Not a trace of boat or oar could be found. They were no doubt all at the bottom of that very deep lake with the bodies.
Poor Hammett continued his journey in his worn-out condition to the Buller contrary to the entreaties of Mr. Sherrin and Mr. Townsend, who believed it would cost him his life: but the faithful fellow
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DEATH OF MR. HAMMETT.
could not be turned from endeavouring to reach Canterbury by going round by sea to Nelson, the mountain road being, of course, stopped by snow, and conveying to the government and their friends the earliest news of the fate of Mr. Howitt and the two men. He said he had a duty to perform, and he would do it. He accomplished his object, but has since died, probably from the consequences of his sufferings, both of body and mind, on this melancholy occasion. Many a less devoted and heroic soul than that of this poor fellow has been stamped with the highest honours of fame: but the faithful Hammett has this simple record!
Melancholy as is this story of the opening up of a wild country, it cannot be closed without another catastrophe. Mr. Townsend, whose letter first announced to us the loss of our son, and who so generously volunteered to accompany Mr. Sherrin to Lake Brunner to search for the remains of him and his men, soon after perished himself by drowning. This accident occurred near the mouth of the river Grey, when a boat was swamped in a great swell, and Messrs. Townsend and Sherrin, with one white man and two Maories, Simon and Solomon, well known there to the settlers. Mr. Townsend, the man, Peter Michelmore, and Solomon the Maori were drowned, and Mr. Sherrin nearly suffered the same fate in endeavouring to rescue his companions.
Yet let no one imagine that the life of our son in New Zealand was by any means a sad one. On the contrary, I am persuaded that it was one of the highest enjoyment. It was that of all others which he did choose, and would have chosen whatever else had been offered to him. He had lived in, and highly enjoyed the forest life of Australia; but when his brother wished him to return from New Zealand, and join in his fortunes there, though the temptation of being with his brother was great, he could not bring himself to quit New Zealand, saying that its scenery and the friends he had found there were become very dear to him. I am persuaded that the storms and rains during the winter
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MR. HOWITT'S LOVE FOR NEW ZEALAND.
in the mountains would scarcely make an impression on his mind, except as they added to the wild solemnity of the scene. He loved to battle with the elements; and it was a source of exquisite delight to him to be able ever and anon to rescue some traveller from the rapid torrent, and to receive weary and famishing wanderers to his mountain hut--to revive them, and furnish them with provisions for their further journey, for which he never would receive compensation. Throughout all his private letters he expressed his deep satisfaction with the country of his adoption, and his chosen track of life. The stormy season in the mountains was but a contrast to the delicious summer days passed on Banks's Peninsula, amid trees, flowers, and creatures all new to him, and in themselves beautiful. With what pleasure he spoke of the tameness of the birds, which, as he cultivated his garden or his fields, came and settled on his spade, and even eat from his hands. Then the wild forests, and the snow-peaked mountains, such as Mr. William Strut has so beautifully painted from intimate acquaintance, were objects of his constant love and admiration. In one of his communications he said to us-- "Read all the descriptions of New Zealand scenery that you can find, and then you will understand how happy I am in being in a country so beautiful." As to the moisture of the West Coast, he always asserted that it would greatly diminish as the woods were cut down in the progress of settlement, just as the climates of England, France, Germany, Italy, and, indeed, every part of Europe have become drier and milder since the time when their dense woods were opened up by the Romans. Compare the climate of Italy now with what it is represented in Virgil and Horace. Compare those of England, France, and Germany, with their character in Caesar and Agricola. The dense woods being removed, he believed that the mountain regions would be no wetter than those of Switzerland. As to the general climate of New Zealand, he thought it perfection. "The clear atmosphere, and the lovely scenery," he said, "I
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HIS INTEREST IN THE NATIVES.
consider as a most happy combination, and as the country lies in a temperate latitude, you are able to travel or labour without any drawback to your own sense of beauty, and your plans of utility. Take the climate and the scenery together, and it would be impossible to find any more beautiful."
Besides his love of the country, he had a great interest in the natives. Regarding them as a remarkable race, scarcely risen out of cannibalism, yet aspiring to the highest reaches of civilization and Christianity, he felt for them as a people pushed by the white man out of their heritage of ages, and showed them on all occasions the most friendly attention. Add to this, that the transparency, the pure principles, and the indomitable energy of his character, had won for him the public esteem in no ordinary degree, and the deep attachment of friends, which he warmly reciprocated, and there is nothing in such a life, not even its shortness in this stage of being, to a Christian mind, but what is bright, beautiful, and complete.
And now, in putting the last page to this wonderful history of discovery, this wonderful history of the inexhaustible energies of the English race, it is with a deep sense of the magnificent home which they are creating for a numerous branch of that race in New Zealand. In reflecting on its happily located group of islands, its numerous and accessible bays, its noble mountains, and impetuous rivers descending from them, its fertile plains and sheltered valleys, its mineral wealth, its grand forests, and peculiar vegetation, its freedom from poisonous plants, and venomous and destructive animals, all crowned by its mild and genial climate, it is impossible not to admit its claim to entitle itself the Britain of the South. Here, as in Australia, we have but one regret, namely, that the splendour of the future too probably includes the extinction of its native race. Yet, amongst
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FEAR OF THE EXTINCTION OF THE ABORIGINES.
all the aboriginal races none appear so capable of accepting civilization. Stern, but at heart kindly, they have less of the aversion to labour and to agriculture than the aboriginal Australian. They have a lively sense of property, and have shown great aptness to trade. Christianity they have widely accepted, and have shown themselves highly capable of civil organization, and of military defence. Unfortunately, in these latter qualities lie the sources of their greatest danger. They stem the onward, inevitable march of European expansion, and thus it is too clear that, whether strong or weak, the aboriginal tribes of earth in general are destined to disappear in the on-rolling tide of Anglo-Saxon civilization.
The sense of this has forced a very severe exclamation from one of the English friends of the Maories, which, I believe, will be found in an Auckland Blue Book:-- "I have long since come to the conclusion that the Modern Englishman is as cruel and unprincipled a scoundrel as the world has ever seen. In simple truth, we pay the Maori large sums for his land because he is an acute and powerful savage; we swindle the Australian out of his birth-right, because he is simple and helpless."
Severe as this censure is, every one must concede that as a general feature of English, as well as American advance against the aboriginal races, there is too much truth in it. Yet in no country has the Maori found more noble, more disinterested, more ardent friends-- men who have boldly borne the character of genuine Christians in the face of political aggression. But the independent character of the Maories creates difficulties for their friends and the advocates of their just rights. No people feel more acutely the right and wrong of human actions than the Maories. When pressed to sell their lands against their inclinations, and told that God has given it not to lie waste, but that the Bible says, "Thou shalt till the land, that it may bring forth a hundred-fold," they reply-- "Yes, but it is nowhere written that we shall sell it for a shilling an acre."
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ANECDOTE OF AN OLD CHIEF.
The New Zealand journals record the following striking case. An old Chief in Katiabo, on the Upper Wanganui, when discussing the propriety of joining Werimu Kingi, took three sticks of the edible fern, one long, and two short ones. The long one, he said, represented God, and he planted it upright in the earth before him: the two short ones represented the Maori and the Pakeha, or stranger. "Before the Pakeha came," he said, "we thought ourselves the nearest to God, and standing nearly equal with him," and he planted the Maori stick close to the one representing the Godhead. "But when the Pakehas came, we thought that they stood higher than us--that they stood next to the Godhead," and he now struck down the Pakeha stick near the Godhead, and removed the Maori stick farther off, and struck it deeper into the earth. "But now," added he, "we have learned that the Maori and the Pakeha issue from one and the same source--from God; that they have both good and evil qualities, and are alike before Him." Then he took up the two sticks representing Maori and Pakeha, and planted them near each other before the tall and single stem representing God. "Pakeha and Maori," he said, "are equal; they have equal rights, and it is perfectly natural that the Maories should have their king as the Pakehas have."
Yet with all their spirit of resistance, they have a melancholy internal conviction that they are a doomed race. One of them has said:-- "As the clover destroys the fern, and the European dog the Maori dog; as the Maori rat has been annihilated by the Pakeha rat, even so will our people be pushed back and exterminated by the Europeans."
Let us hope for a brighter reality. Let us hope that the bravery and the military skill displayed by the Maori race, in their late struggle to defend their hereditary land; that the tact, and power, and intellectual aptitude of this race, so lately sunk in savagery and cannibalism; the evidences of poetic; oratoric, and literary power, shown amply by various English collections of their pro-
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HOPES THAT JUSTICE MAY PREVAIL.
ductions to be inherent in them; their capacity for civilized life and civilized arts; and, finally, their ready adoption of our Christian faith, may raise them friends, counsellors, and protectors, who may avert from them the common fate of aboriginal tribes. That, especially, the missionaries, who have laboured so lovingly and successfully amongst them, and the clergy, with the noble-minded and able Bishop Selwyn at their head, may so influence the colonial and imperial spirit towards them, that a greater than any simply geographical discovery may yet be made-namely, how a noble native race may be preserved amid the triumphs of European civilization, or by gradual amalgamation may add new forces of character, and new features of intellect to the already vigorous and aspiring race of the New Britain of the South.
BILLING, PRINTER AND STEREOTYPER, GUILDFORD, SURREY.