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Oxford life--Clough and Theodore Walrond--I resolve to emigrate--Voyage to New Zealand--Passengers--Palma--The Dutchman--Kerguelen's Land--Mount Ross--Reach Otago--Proceed to Wellington--Otaki and back--The Makara valley--The Porirua road--Disappointment.
MY brother was elected a Balliol scholar in November 1840, but did not go into residence till October in the following year. I was elected to a scholarship at University in 1842. The whole family went up to Oxford in January 1842, when my father read his first course of lectures as Professor of Modern History. My brother, in all the glory of a scholar's gown and three months' experience as a "University man," welcomed his rustic geschwister with an amused and superior graciousness. We visited him at his rooms in Balliol at the top of the second staircase in the corner of the second quod. When he had got us all safely in, he is said to have exclaimed, "Thank God, you are in!" and when the visit was over, and he had seen the last of us out on the staircase, "Thank God, you are out!" But this tradition is doubtful.
Those lectures, delivered with so much power, and received by a large audience with such profound sympathy, who could have thought that they were to be both the first course and the last? Never can I forget
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how my heart seemed to stand still, as my father, in the sketch of the concentration of the French Army before the invasion of Russia, uttered the words, "Earthly state has never reached a prouder pinnacle than when Napoleon in June 1812 gathered his army at Dresden . . . and there received the homage of subject kings." We returned to Rugby, and the long half-year of 1842 commenced. For some weeks in the middle portion of it my father was far from well; an eruption broke out on the right side of his face, but I never heard that this was in any way connected with the malady that struck him down. Whatever was amiss, he seemed to have completely recovered from it for some weeks before the end of the half-year. His sermons to the school were--at least seemed so to me, perhaps because I was old enough to understand them better than before--more direct, earnest, and affectionate than they had ever been. Especially was I impressed by the last sermon but two that he ever preached, that entitled "Waiting for God in Christ." 1
The shock of the 12th June, and the very general sorrow with which the tidings of my father's death was received all over England, have been sufficiently dwelt upon in Arthur Stanley's "Life."
From the autumn of 1842 to the end of 1846, my time, and my brother's also, was chiefly spent at Oxford. He was cultivating his poetic gift carefully, but his exuberant versatile nature claimed other satisfactions; his keen bantering talk made him something
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of a social lion among Oxford men; he even began to dress fashionably. Goethe displaced Byron in his poetical allegiance; the transcendental spells of Emerson wove themselves around him; the charm of an exquisite style made him, and long kept him, a votary of George Sand. The perfect handling of words, joined to the delicate presentation of ideas, attracted him powerfully to John Henry Newman, whose afternoon Sunday sermons at St. Mary's he for a long time regularly attended. But, so far as I know, Newman teaching never made an impression upon him. After a while he became private secretary to Lord Lansdowne, through whose influence he was appointed in 1849 an inspector of schools, and continued to be engaged in various forms of educational work till nearly the end of his life.
When I went up to University in the October of 1842, it was my good fortune to have rooms on the second floor of the new building opposite to those of the dear Arthur Stanley. Nothing could exceed his kindness; it was like that of a father. In the course of my Oxford time he introduced me to several persons of note who came to call on him, e.g. Monckton Milnes, afterwards Lord Houghton, and Charles Buller. I heard the sermon at Christ Church for which Pusey was "six-doctored," and tramped up and down in the mud of Broad Street on that day of pouring rain on which Ward was degraded. In 1845 I took my degree, after being placed in the first class in Liter & Humaniores. In 1846 I read law for three months in London in the
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chambers of Coulson the celebrated conveyancer; but being by this time much interested in the Colonies, I accepted a clerkship in the precis-writing department of the Colonial Office at the beginning of 1847, and retained it till I emigrated to New Zealand at the end of that year.
In the years 1842-47 I was in close intimacy with Arthur Hugh Clough, and by the kind permission of the editor of the Nineteenth Century I quote from an article contributed to the number for January 1898 some passages bearing on this period:--
"After I came up to University in October , Clough, Theodore Walrond, my brother and I formed a little interior company, and saw a great deal of one another. We used often to go skiffing up the Cherwell, or else in the network of river channels that meander through the broad meadows facing Iffley and Sandford. After a time it was arranged that we four should always breakfast at Clough's rooms [at Oriel] on Sunday morning. Those were times of great enjoyment. Sir Robert Peel was in power; he was breaking loose more and more from the trammels of mere party connection, and the shrewd Rentoul [the Radical] who then edited the Spectator, welcomed in the Conservative chief the only true statesman that England had seen since the days of Canning. The Spectator of the day before used to arrive at breakfast time, and the leading articles were eagerly read and discussed. Ireland especially--Rentoul seemed to hold--conciliated by the Maynooth Bill, the Colleges Act, and
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other healing measures, bade fair to pose no longer as England's difficulty. With this estimate of Peel Clough seemed on the whole to be in cordial agreement.
"Between 1843 and 1845 there was a small society in existence at Oxford called the Decade. Among its members were Jowett, Arthur Stanley, Coleridge, my brother, Chichester Fortescue, John Campbell Shairp, the present writer, and several others. Shairp has described 2
two speeches made by Clough at meetings of the Decade. The impressions of the future Professor of Poetry seem to have been in unison with my own, that no member of the society spoke in so rich, penetrating, original, and convincing a strain as Clough. He was not rapid, yet neither was he slow or hesitating; he seemed just to take time enough to find the right word or phrase. My recollections have grown sadly dim, but I remember one debate when he spoke to a resolution that I had proposed in favour of Lord Ashley's Ten Hours' Bill. In supporting the resolution he combated the doctrines of laissez-faire
and the omnipotence and sufficiency of the action of Supply and Demand, then hardly disputed in England, with an insight marvellous in one who had so little experience of the industrial life, and at the same time with a strict and conscientious moderation. This must have been in 1844 or 1845.
"In August 1845 a party of Oxford men, who
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had planned a walking tour in the Highlands, met at Calder Park, near Glasgow, the home of Theodore Walrond, one of the party. The others were Clough, Shairp, my brother Edward, and myself. During the few days that we spent at Calder Park before setting out, Clough talked very brilliantly, being much drawn out and stimulated by the lively sallies of Miss Walrond. Agnes Walrond was then, though not exactly beautiful, a very charming, handsome, and graceful woman. She afterwards married Mr. Henley, son of the well-known member for Oxfordshire, and still, I hope, remembers the pleasant days which her parents' hospitality secured for us southrons at that far-distant date.
"When we returned, 'dirty, dusty, and bankrupt,' as Clough says, to Calder Park, we found Scott's grandchildren, Walter and Charlotte Lockhart, staying there. The grandson, then a lively young officer in the 16th Lancers, was much like military men everywhere. I could not trace in him the likeness to Sir Walter which people talked of. But in the sister it was evident enough. The set and expression of the eyes, the height of the somewhat narrow forehead, reminded one strongly of the pictures of her grandfather. She sang old Scotch songs with an exquisite and simple grace. Both Clough and Shairp speak of the visit to Milton Lockhart [the house of William Lockhart, then a county member for Lanarkshire], where we saw the famous editor of the Quarterly walking on the terrace. Shairp brought up Clough
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and introduced him, and Lockhart, though evidently out of health, conversed with him frankly and cordially. . . . Lockhart was a tall, thin, dark-eyed man; his face, though it wore a severe, not to say harsh expression, was singularly handsome.
"In the long vacation of 1847 Clough took a reading party to the Highlands. For several weeks he was established at a large farmhouse--since turned into an inn--called Drumnadrochit, on the north shore of Loch Ness, and not far from the Fall of Foyers. The party numbered, so far as I recollect, six or seven men; among them were Warde Hunt, afterwards a well-known figure in the House of Commons, and Charles Lloyd, son of a former Bishop of Oxford. It was this reading party that gave occasion to the 'Long Vacation Pastoral,' which Clough published under the name of 'The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich.' The origin of the name was this: Several Oxford friends--Shairp, the present Archdeacon Scott of Dublin, with a younger brother, Theodore Walrond, and myself--arranged to beat up the quarters of the Drumnadrochit party while making a walking tour, which we were minded to extend to Skye. On the way north, at Loch Rannoch, Shairp and I parted from the rest, in order to explore the western shore of the long and lonely sheet of water known as Loch Ericht. We were to rejoin the others at Dalwhinnie the next day. The path along the lake was winding and rough; and at nightfall we had only walked as
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far as the forester's hut, about one-third of the distance. All this side of Loch Ericht was said at that time to be Lord Abercorn's deer-forest; and there was no other human dwelling on that shore but this hut of the forester, which was named on the maps 'Toper-na-fuosich.' The forester and his wife were hospitable enough; such fare and lodging as they had were kindly tendered, and Shairp and I passed the night tolerably well. When we reached Drumnadrochit, Shairp, in his cheery genial way, made the most of the incident of the 'Bothie' at which we had slept, and Clough chose to give the name of the hut to the home of Elspie, his heroine (though that was far enough from Loch Ericht), and to find in the same name a title for his poem. Accordingly the first edition, published at Oxford, bore the title, 'Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich.' Later on it was discovered that the maps were wrong, and that the true name of the hut was 'Tober-na-Vuolich,' to which it has been altered in all later editions.
"The 'Bothie' found me in New Zealand before the end of 1848. The force and variety of this extraordinary poem, the melody of great portions of it, its penetrating dialectic, its portrayal of passionate tenderness, the nearness to Nature in its descriptions and in its whole texture, filled me with wonder and delight. There was one man then in New Zealand, and perhaps only one, who was capable of valuing this treasure aright, and with him I hastened to share it. Alfred Domett, the poet, journalist, and politician--of whom more
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will be said further on--was then Colonial Secretary for the Wellington province. A Cambridge man, he welcomed with generous fervour this strange product of the Oxford mind.
"The tempest of the Paris Revolution in February 1848 was heard of in New Zealand soon after I landed in the colony. What a time of boundless excitement for the young and unsteady was that year 1848! Battles in the streets of great cities, constitutions torn to rags, insurrection everywhere, resignations of crowns, Chartist meetings, wars changing the frontiers of states, Italy rising against Austria, Hungary striking for independence, Russia sending her legions across the Carpathians, Rome turned into a republic--this was the sort of 'foreign intelligence' that my friends at home expected to find, and usually did find, in their morning papers. Even I, at the distance of half the globe, having steeped myself in French revolutionary literature before leaving England, watched for the tidings of those mighty events, and seemed to feel the reverberation of those shocks. My brother, to whom literature then and always meant more than politics, wrote two admirable sonnets on the Revolution in France. Yet, with banter irrepressible, in the thick of the wild hubbub, he addressed to Clough a letter with the superscription, 'Citizen Clough, Oriel Lyceum, Oxford.'"
Restlessness of mind, with which the theories and criticisms of Strauss's Leben Jesu had much to do,
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beset me from the time of taking my degree. I was elected in 1846 by the college to a foundation scholarship at University, which in no long time would have led, without competition, to a fellowship; and common prudence dictated that this opening to a life career should not be cast aside. However it was not so to be. Discontent with the social institutions of the country seized upon me, and the science of English political economists, engaged with the sole problem of increasing the national wealth, and, to that end, emancipating its industry, seemed to me inadequate to the solution of the formidable questions which threatened to set capital and labour fatally at variance. English socialism, which in those days was represented by Robert Owen and the Chartists, was unattractive, because it lacked culture. French Communism appeared to me to have a far more plausible claim to contain the secret of the future. Some kind of Pantisocracy, with beautiful details and imaginary local establishments such as Coleridge never troubled himself to formulate, seemed to my groping mind to be the thing that was wanted. I suppose, too, that I was a rover by nature. Even before my father's death the colonization of New Zealand, in which he was so interested as to purchase two land sections 3 from the New Zealand Company, caused me to read everything about New Zealand that I came across. The descriptions of virgin forests, snowclad moun-
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tains, rivers not yet tracked to their sources, and lakes imperfectly known, fascinated me as they have fascinated many since. And joining the two lines of thought together, my speculative fancy suggested that in a perfect locale such as New Zealand it might be destined that the true fraternity of the future--could founders and constitution-builders of the necessary genius and virtue be discovered--might be securely built up.
All this is crude and boyish enough; nevertheless such was really the staple of my meditations during several years; and if I have gone into the matter at all, it is only to explain in some degree the practical outcome of November 1847, in which month I took a cabin passage by the ship John Wickliffe to Wellington, the settlement where my father's land lay.
A long sea voyage can never be other than tedious, and I do not intend to weary the reader with the petty incidents of mine. Wind-bound for four days at the Downs--encouraged by a transient Nor'wester to escape and face down Channel; driven again to take refuge at the Mother-bank opposite Ryde, and detained there for a week; then making sail again, but met by a terrible gale in the chops of the Channel, which almost cast her on the Scilly Islands, the good ship struggled at last into better weather. As I lay in my berth one morning, exhausted by the mal de mer, I could see that things were improving; instead of the short waves of the Channel, the ship
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was riding on long ocean billows, and the wintry gloom of a British December seemed to be suddenly replaced by bright sunshine. I struggled into my clothes and went up on deck, and here I will say a few words about the shipmates with whom for the next three months I was brought into close association.
The John Wickliffe, though she took passengers and cargo for Wellington also, was in fact the first and principal ship of the Scotch colony, which it had been determined to found at Otago Harbour in the south island of New Zealand. The scheme of colonisation was a special one, and an improvement in several respects on the original Wellington scheme. Captain Cargill, who had served with the Connaught Rangers in the Peninsular War, and claimed to belong to the well-known covenanting family of that name, had been appointed Company's Agent for the Otago settlement, and was now going out in the first ship, with his wife, two sons, and two daughters. The eldest son, John, was a manly quickwitted good-natured fellow; he had been for some time at sea, and was clever with his hands; he took a principal part in building up the colony, and is, I hope, still living. The old captain himself was, I should have thought, a case to which the rule of superannuation was justly applicable; yet I can well believe, that with the help of his capable son, he might succeed for some time in getting through the work that fell upon him fairly well.
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His glass of toddy sometimes elevated him considerably, and on such occasions he would walk about the cuddy, trolling out with flushed features the burden of some old Scottish song. At other times he would hold forth interminably on the distinction between Church and State--a distinction which, he used to say, an Englishman could never comprehend.
A minister of the Free Kirk--the Rev. John Nicholson--his wife, whom he called "Alison,"--and a friend no longer young, Miss Alexander, also went in our ship. Nicholson was an excellent man and, I believe, a good preacher, but more prudent and canny than in those days of the disruption and upbuilding of churches one was prepared to find in men so situated. His wife, Alison, was a sweet child of nature; her pale delicate nervous face breathed pure and innocent feeling; she spoke the beautiful Doric of her native land with a charming accent that made ordinary speech sound commonplace. One felt, too, that she would have gone cheerfully to the stake for the faith that was in her. The good John, being of robuster make and more prudential turn of mind, sometimes gave utterance to sentiments that her loftier nature disapproved; whereat she would fix her eyes upon him, and just say "Nicholson!" in a tone of shame and disappointed feeling, the pointed significance of which no words can describe. At the same time the singular contrast between their two characters--and all the time they were deeply attached to one another--struck one so forcibly that it was difficult to
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avoid laughing. I saw much of them later on at Nelson. Whether they, or either of them, be now living I do not know. If they live, may God bless them, wherever they are.
A family named Garrick, the head of which was a solicitor going out to establish himself at Motueka, near Nelson; an excellent young Londoner, named Cutten, who meant to go into business as an auctioneer at Otago; an indigo-planter from India, whose liver seemed to have suffered from the climate; and two young men named Smith, one of whom was going to rejoin his regiment in New Zealand, nearly completed the roll of cabin passengers.
When I appeared on deck the ship, being then somewhere in the mouth of the Bay of Biscay, was plunging up and down huge rollers of bright purple sea, on the tops of which were little wavelets sparkling and breaking in the sun, while between them was deep shadow. Young Cargill came forward, and seeing that I was still far from well, recommended a glass of Bass. The composing and invigorating effect of this was wonderful; I lost all feeling of sea-sickness, and have seldom been troubled by it ever since.
After some days, the weather continually changing for the better, one morning land was in sight to port. It was the island of Palma, the westernmost of the Canaries, a mountain rising out of the sea. All day we sailed along it at a distance of about three miles, admiring its great beauty, and ready to envy the lot of
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its inhabitants. Snow rested on its top; then apparently came a tract of rocky ground; forest succeeded, and below the forest the broad flanks of the island were clad with a vesture of scattered trees, green grass, and cultivation, amidst which white houses with red-tiled roofs were everywhere visible. Clearly, when colonies were first served out to the nations, Spain had the pick of them! New Zealand might be as beautiful, but it was on the other side of the globe; here were islands forming an earthly Paradise, not a thousand miles from Cadiz. In the evening we saw distinctly a great part of the outline of the Peak of Teneriffe, though it was not less than a hundred miles distant.
The fine north-west wind that had wafted us along for many days at last merged in the north-east trade. Then for weeks we held on, almost without touching a brace or hauling on a sheet, with stunsails set alow and aloft, delighting in that swift yet steady motion, for the manifestation and full enjoyment of which the planet seems too small. For who would be tired of sailing for a whole month before the north-east trade-wind? But in fact, and as things are, it must be a slow sailer that would not run them down in a fortnight. Flying-fish in their curious droves began to start up from the sea, and Spanish men-of-war cruised over the blue waves, and albatrosses, careering to and fro, haunted the stern, and whales spouted in the distance. But the friendly trade-wind gradually faded away, the sky became more and more overcast, and we entered
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the Variables--a region of calms, tornados, and waterspouts. Light airs rose, now from one quarter now from another, and grew sometimes into smart breezes; to which our vigilant captain carefully trimmed his sails. For two or three days a large barque, the green copper on whose huge hull glistened as she rolled, had been sailing near us on the port side. One morning chance threw her into our near neighbourhood, within half a mile certainly, and the captain of the stranger put out a boat and paid our skipper a visit. He was an intelligent, agreeable little man--Dutch, but spoke English well--bound to Batavia for a cargo of coffee. Several of us cabin passengers accompanied Captain Daly on the return visit that same afternoon. The beautiful neatness and comeliness of everything on board the barque surprised us. After we had been regaled with schnapps and biscuits in the cabin, the captain took us down to the main deck to see the quarters of the crew. Each man had his comfortable curtained berth, with bed-clothes spotlessly clean, two or three little pictures hanging beside it, and plenty of light admitted through large port-holes. One could not but think of that dog-hole--the forecastle of the John Wickliffe--with its hammocks, griminess, and gloom, which was the sleeping and living quarter of our poor fellows.
After slanting across the south-east trade, and entering the zone of variable winds to the south of it, the captain, who was convinced that, by adhering to the principle of "great-circle sailing," it was in his
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power to shorten the voyage considerably, steered boldly towards the South Pole. About 50 deg. S. latitude, and 1500 miles east of the Cape, the weather grew chilly, and the evening of the 25th February closed in dark and lowering. The sea was generally calm, but now and then a great wave would gather and break without any apparent reason. Suddenly we heard a distant roaring, and, straining our eyes in the pitchy darkness, we could see white shifting objects ahead, moving their place and apparent size continually. "Breakers ahead!" "Breakers on the port-beam!" was shouted. The captain gave instant orders to put the helm to port, so as to head the ship off the danger. We kept on the same course all night, but the wind was very light, and the ship made little progress.
When the morning broke, the peril of the previous night was apparent. We had gone blunderingly on towards the cliffs that line the southern coast of Desolation Island, but by great good fortune had been warned of our danger before striking on any reef, or shoal, or sunken rock. Seven or eight miles north of where we lay the whole, or nearly the whole, northern horizon was occupied by steep land, apparently about 800 feet high, descending in cliffs or screes to the sea-level, and seamed with gullies, down some of which water poured in thin white cataracts. The summits of the land could not be seen, being shrouded by a horizontal band of heavy grey cloud. But as the sun rose in the sky, a marvellous transformation took place. The cloud-band parted, lifted, melted away;
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just in front of us appeared a grand mountain mass, apparently about 8000 feet high, 4 the upper part of which rose in a peak somewhat like that of the Matterhorn, with huge vertical ribs of black rock, alternating with falls of glittering ice. Below the peak the mountain flattened out considerably, and became the receptacle of an enormous glacier, descending unbrokenly to the sea. To the east of the mountain the coast range did not seem to be more than a few hundred feet higher than it had appeared when we first saw it, but it was covered by a heavy robe of snow, which overlay all the country behind, so far as we could see it. Between us and the foot of the mountain, and extending to the left of it, there appeared to be a large bay or harbour.
Desolation Island, (better known as Kerguelen's Land, from the French captain who first discovered it in 1772) was often visited by Captain Cook for the sake of the excellent remedy against scurvy--the Kerguelen cabbage--which grows abundantly about Christmas Harbour, on the north side of the island. But Cook does not appear to have ever visited the southern shore, and therefore could not have seen the mountain off which we lay becalmed. Sir James Ross, who was at Kerguelen's Land with the Erebus and Terror in 1840, but was kept a prisoner in Christmas Harbour by stress of
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weather for forty-five out of the sixty-eight days of his stay, appears never to have seen the mountain which was to be named after him. The Challenger's visit was not made till 1874, so that the account which the writer sent to Fraser's Magazine for August 1861 of the visit of the John Wickliffe was perhaps the first notice of Mount Ross that ever appeared in print.
The day remained fine, but in the afternoon it turned very cold. This was soon explained by the appearance of icebergs, one of which, of minute size for an iceberg, was visibly and audibly breaking up within half a mile of the ship. Away to the westward was a berg which had the appearance of a long white cliff. From this date the voyage was without incident till we approached New Zealand. The captain kept to the south of Stewart's Island, the mountains of which we saw through mist; farther south were the Auckland Islands, with their famous harbour, called by the whalers "Sarah's Bosom."
"Coasting along the middle island, we came up on the night of the 20th March with the latitude of Otago. In the morning we were becalmed off the land, near enough to see the surf breaking on the white beach, and to distinguish the individual trees of the virgin forests that clothed the hills. A wind sprang up in the afternoon, but it was from the wrong quarter. We were beating to windward all that afternoon and all through the night. By sunrise we had weathered Cape Saunders, and were close in to land. The captain was scanning anxiously
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every point that we ran past, trying to make out the heads of the harbour. At last a tiny sail shot out from behind a steep bluff that bore on our port bow, and revealed the passage that we sought. The whale-boat, for such she was, was alongside of the ship in twenty minutes."
In her were Mr. Kettle, the company's chief surveyor for the Otago settlement, two whalers, and a Maori. The steep bluff aforesaid was Tairoa Head, one of the heads of the Otago harbour; and as soon as we came up with it, the ship was anchored under its lee, because a strong south-easter was at the time blowing down the harbour right in our teeth. Some of us went on shore and climbed to the top of the head, on which was a small Maori settlement, housed in low mean wares
, and dependent on its potato patches and on fishing. Among the bones of huge whales ran about dirty pigs and children. The scene was cheerless, and the human element in the picture discouraging. Next day the wind changed, and the ship was brought up to Port Chalmers, the anchorage to what is now Port Otago. The length of the inlet is about thirteen miles, and on the right, or land side, halfway up, was Port Chalmers. There is plenty of water here, and good holding ground; but the violence of the gusts and squalls that came off the land was astonishing. The month was now March; it was the autumn of the Southern Hemisphere;
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and equinoctial gales were therefore en regle. These furious squalls are called by the whalers "willi-waughs"; they could be seen coming from some distance, turning into foam the waters of the bay, and when they reached the ship, they forced her down to leeward, sometimes almost on her beam ends. Once the stern of one of the heavy cutters that hung at the davits on either side of the poop was lifted by the force of the wind off the hook which upbore it, and the boat's stern fell into the sea, the side of the boat being stove in. After that the hooks were "moused." In such weather, as the shores of the inlet were tame and uninteresting, New Zealand scenery was not seen to advantage.
The baggage and personal effects, and other property of the Otago colonists, had to be transferred to the head of the bay, where the town--the future Dunedin--had been laid out; and this was by no means an easy or expeditious business. Everything had to be moved by boat seven miles, and landed at the head of the bay, where there were no wharfs, no sheds, no roads, no piers. An attempt was made, under the initiative of John Cargill, to construct a pier, on which a derrick would have been placed, for lifting heavy cases and crates out of the boats. Trestles were made of the unseasoned wood which the neighbouring bush supplied, and several of these were put in position, but they proved to be neither strong nor stiff enough, and the attempt was given up. Every package, cask, and box that was sent up
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in the boats was heaved on shore by the sheer main strength of the sailors. Meantime the two Smiths, Cutten, and I lived on shore in a tent which, made of sailcloth during the voyage owing to the shrewd foresight of John Cargill, was now pitched beside a clear stream that ran through a grassy, lightly-timbered glade into the bay, a little to the left of the landing-place. Thus we lived al fresco; at the present day the stream must have become a sewer, and learned to content itself with the honour of draining the business quarter of the city of Dunedin.
One day, desirous of knowing what sort of country was at the back of the coast ranges, I climbed the high ground to the south-west, and walking some distance over a flat covered with rough yellowish grass, came to its edge, and looked down over a wide and singular plain. Far to the left front for many miles, in a south-south-westerly direction, stretched away from the foot of the hills on which I stood a vast swampy plain, bare of trees, except that in the middle of it there was a small wood of dark pines which might be guessed to cover about 400 acres. A low coast range parted the plain from the sea, and through a gap in this range the Taieri River (which gives name to the plain) makes its obstructed and difficult way to the ocean. This one knew from maps, for the river was not visible from where I stood. Higher ranges bounded the plain on the north-west, from the ravines in which, and especially from two or three mountain
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valleys to my right, the issuing waters all lost themselves in the plain. Similar swampy flats succeed each other for a distance of 120 miles along the coast; they are valueless now, but, as was the case with the fen districts of England, the time will come when it will pay to drain and reclaim them, and they will be converted into fine agricultural land.
While we were at Dunedin, assisting in the landing of our friends' impedimenta, the Philip Laing, the second ship despatched under the Otago scheme, arrived at Port Chalmers. She carried many more emigrants in her steerage than the John Wickliffe, but had fewer cabin passengers; among those few was the Rev. Mr. Burns, whom the Free Kirk had appointed minister to the colony. He was a nephew of the poet, and already a grey-haired man; a pair of large, dark eyes, without fire, gave him a certain resemblance to his great kinsman, but his mild bearing showed that he had never been
"Misled by fancy's gilded ray,
By passion driven."
After a detention of nearly two months, we sailed from Port Chalmers on the 18th May. On the 19th we could steer our course; it was a glorious day; the mountains bounding the Canterbury plains on the west were in full view; ahead, the mountains of Banks' Peninsula had all the appearance of an island, for nothing could be seen of the low land joining
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them to the plains around Christchurch. At nightfall there was a sudden change; the wind veered round to the north-west and rose to a gale, which continued for two days and three nights. But the good ship, which sailed very well on a wind, battled sturdily through it, and by dusk in the evening of the 23rd May, the wind having again changed, we were within three miles of Wellington heads, with the wind and sea setting us right on shore. The captain, who was unacquainted with the coast, began to show signs of anxiety; but after we had been firing guns and burning blue lights for some time, a hearty seaman's hail was heard, and a minute later Calder the pilot was on board and the ship in his charge.
At Wellington I was most kindly and hospitably entertained by the Rev. Mr. Cole, the Anglican clergyman. Captain Collinson of the Engineers, one of those
"animae quales neque candidiores
Terra tulit neque quis me sit devinctior alter,"
became my friend at once, by a sort of elective affinity. With Alfred Domett, then Colonial Secretary of the Province of New Munster, Godfrey Thomas, step-brother to Governor Grey, Frederic Weld, and several others, besides the officers of the 65th Regiment, then quartered at Wellington, I soon became acquainted.
Mr. Cole had a horse at grass at Otaki, a native settlement fifty miles up the coast, and he proposed that in the interval, before making up my mind as to
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what I should turn to, I might walk to Otaki with a note to Mr. Williams, the Anglican missionary there, and ride the horse back to Wellington. I was glad to accept this offer. On the 5th June I left Wellington by the Porirua road, with Captain Collinson,--who had to visit Pawhatanui (the pah out of which Ranghihaieta, Rauperaha's fighting man, had been lately driven by the troops) on some professional errand,--for a companion. It was almost midwinter, but the air was mild, and during the few days that this little excursion lasted there was little rain. A good road had been made for fourteen miles as far as Jackson's Ferry, on the shore of Porirua harbour; about midway, where the watershed between the streams running to Port Nicholson and those going to the harbour was crossed, there was a large clearing, on which stood a poor hamlet, like Chaucer's "Bob-up-and-down," occupied by small settlers. Following thence a rather narrow ravine, from the sides of which rose tall tree-ferns, fifty and sixty feet high, we arrived at Jackson's Ferry, where, at that time, the road stopped. Collinson here left me, turning to the right to reach Pawhatanui. My way led to the left, for I had been advised to cross the harbour near its mouth. I passed the night at a miserable cabin, a few miles beyond Jackson's Ferry, and as the weather next morning (June 6) was detestable, I proceeded no farther that day. On the 7th, walking to the shore of the narrow inlet which admits the waters of Cook's Straits into the harbour, I crossed at the ferry, eyeing
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and eyed by an officer from the Paramatta barracks close by, where was stationed at that time a detachment of the 65th Regiment. On the other side of the inlet the path entered the Pukerua bush, and brought me to the village of Hurui. I had been recommended to the fisherman there; when I knocked, the door of his cabin was opened by an old man. "What! Jenkins; is that you?" "Why it's Mr. Arnold, I do declare!" The speaker was a steerage passenger on board the John Wickliffe; the fisherman was his son; and the old man had found him out, and had been made heartily welcome. I stayed at the house that night, and was greatly pleased and touched by the talk of the old man, who was overflowing with contentment at the improvement in his lot since he had come to the colony; no dinning for rent, no calls from the tax-collector, no yellow fogs, and no cold weather.
Next morning (June 8), after gaining the sands, I had a firm straight track for twenty or thirty miles before me. Coming to the Waikanae River I was put over it in a boat by a policeman. After walking for many miles along the beach I knew that I must be near Otaki, and finding at last the place where, as I had been warned, the track to the settlement turned off on the right into the bush, I followed it. A merry group of about twenty Maoris, male and female, habited in mats and white and red blankets, among whom was a very beautiful dark-eyed girl, passed me soon after I entered the bush. The last man of the party turned
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and followed me. He poured forth a flood of words as he walked beside me, of which I understood very few. Presently the path descended, and there appeared a broad stream flowing strong and clear over a pebbly bottom. The Maori came and stood in front of me, presented his broad brown back, held up two fingers, and said, "Two hering." This was the meaning of all his eloquence by the way. I assented, climbed on his back, and was carried dry across the river. After payment of the two shillings I walked on, but to my surprise the native still followed me. A hundred yards through the bush,--and then appeared what was evidently another branch of the Otaki river, as broad as the first. The cunning Maori wished to bargain with me as before, but angry at his tricks I exclaimed, "Kahori, kahori," (No, no), and after taking off shoes and stockings marched in. The current was strong, but the water in the deepest part barely reached my middle.
"Safe on the farther side, I stopped to look around me. The country was a Paradise. For miles to the north and east the land was nearly level, richly grassed and thinly timbered; gentle wooded rises succeeded; and behind these rose a chain of mountains of noble outline and delicious colouring, pierced by the deep gorge through which descended soundingly the beautiful river."
I soon came to the settlement, found out the mission house, and was kindly received by Mr. Williams. He promised to send for the horse, which
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was running out in the bush, and that it should be ready for me the next morning. Meantime he took me to see the mission church, which was approaching completion.
The design and the builders were Maori, and a more singular, and, in a sense, beautiful building I never saw. The walls of the church, which were about 120 feet long, were composed of the trunks of immense straight totara-trees, about 100 feet high; these were skilfully split in half, and the halves were then set up vertically next each other in the line of the walls, the flat sides being of course turned inwards and reduced by adze and plane to a sufficiently smooth and regular surface. These surfaces were then painted crimson and white, in broad bands, with very striking effect.
Next morning (June 9) I set out on my return to Wellington. I was advised to follow the new road, which turned up from the beach somewhere opposite to the end of Kapiti Island, to the head of the Horokiwi valley, and followed that valley down to Pawhatanui. The height reached was considerable, not less than 700 feet probably, and at this point there was a magnificent view. Below lay the islands of Kapiti and Mane, gemming the blue waters of the Strait; to the south, in the direction of Wellington, forest-clad ranges seemed to be huddled one upon the other; while to the west, across the Strait, appeared capes and bold headlands, showing or concealing the entrances to many well-known sounds and bays (Queen
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Charlotte's Sound, Pelorus Sound, Admiralty Bay, Wairau Bay, &c.), and behind all these, and beyond them to the eastward rose the sharp summits of the Kaikoras, 10,000 feet high, of which the eternal snows glittered in the afternoon sun.
I had ridden thus far from Otaki on an unshod horse; while the way lay along the beach this might be safely done; indeed, there was no choice about it, for there was then no farrier at Otaki. But now that the remainder of the journey was to be chiefly over metalled roads, the case was different, and having heard that there was a blacksmith's forge at the bottom of the Horokiwi valley, I turned up thither on arriving opposite to it. While I was waiting outside the forge, an officer came up and entered into conversation. After a while he introduced himself as Captain Russell, in command of the detachment of the 58th Regiment at Pawhatanui, and invited me to dine and sleep at the pah. This I was of course glad to do, although dependent only on the contents of a knapsack for any improvement that might be requisite in my personal appearance.
Captain Russell, Lieutenant Garstin, another subaltern whose name I forget, and Surgeon Montgomery, were the officers of the 58th then quartered in Pawhatanui. The wives of those named were with them; all three were young, and possessed, each in her own way, considerable, and more than considerable, personal charms. All too had those easy, straightforward, and agreeable manners which are so
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characteristic of good military society. Under such circumstances the time, for me, could not but pass pleasantly. But I noticed with regret that within this pah (in the defence of which blood had been shed the year before, and where civilized life had only just been made possible by the erection of neat weather-boarded huts, painted slate colour, with guard-room, mess-room, and all complete), the demon of ennui was plaguing terribly all the officers except the commandant. There was no hunting, no shooting, only poor fishing; and for exploring the country leave would not at that time have been readily granted, besides that it would have been scarcely safe. Still one would have liked to see them more inclined to take advantage of the ample leisure at their disposal by pursuing some one of the studies, historical, scientific, or technical, which belong to their profession, and which, since a new Maori war might break out any day, became for them largely practical. To kill time, they were in the habit of rowing down every day to Paramatta at the mouth of the harbour, to visit the 65th detachment.
Next day (June 10) I bade farewell to my kind hosts, and returned via Jackson's Ferry without further incident to Wellington.
I now lost no time in ascertaining the situation of my father's country land. The two sections, each of 100 acres, were in the Makara valley, about eight miles due west from Wellington, in the peninsula which separates Port Nicholson from the main channel of Cook's Strait. For about half the distance there was a good
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road; for the rest of the way only a bridle path which had been recently cut through the bush across the steep ridge which bounded the Makara valley on the east. The sections were near one another, but on opposite sides of the valley; about half of each was pretty level; the rest lay on the slopes of the bounding ridges. If I remember right, not an acre of land on the Makara had as yet been cleared; a dark bush, consisting mostly of red pine, everywhere obstructed the sight. I fell in with a wood-cutter, who helped me to find the boundaries of the sections. He said that "the sawyers" had been all over the valley, and "picked out the best trees." Returning to Wellington, I explained to Colonel Wakefield, the company's agent, how matters stood. He was very kind, and said that the company had still several sections in its own hands, one of which adjoined the Porirua road, about ten miles north of Wellington, and was as good land as either of the Makara sections, besides having the advantage of lying on a good and much-travelled road. This section, he added, I could have at once in exchange for one of the Makara sections; what should be done with the other section might remain for the present undetermined. I told him, of course, that my father's property was in the hands of trustees; but as it was merely an exchange, and one manifestly for the advantage of the estate, he did not think any legal difficulty would be raised at home. I wrote without delay to one of the trustees, explaining the arrangement proposed, and urging its acceptance.
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With my friend Collinson I walked out the ten or eleven miles along the Porirua road, and had no difficulty in finding the section on which Colonel Wakefield offered to place me. Certainly the allotment was not undesirable. The frontage of the section on the road was twenty chains, and it ran back into the bush sixty chains; this equals an area of 120 acres; but in this liberal fashion most of the 100-acre sections about Wellington were surveyed. Between seven and eight miles from Wellington there was a hamlet--already mentioned--in the occupation of small settlers. Here, in the house of a Kentish peasant named Barrow, within three miles of the section, I found that I could obtain board and lodging; and I came to an agreement with him, or rather with his wife, accordingly. I had not the means of entering into large clearing operations, but I was resolved to clear at least a few acres, so as to let in the sunlight on a valley where only a narrow road pierced the gloom of the forest, build some sort of tenement where a man could live, and make a slight beginning of cultivation.
With Barrow and his two sons, of whom one was a grown man, the other a youth, I contracted for the felling and burning off of five acres, at what price per acre I now forget. A two-roomed hut was also to be put up by them, for which, of course, I was to buy the timber that was necessary. The streamlet whose course the Porirua road here followed ran close by; the hut was to stand a few feet beyond the stream; and the
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clearing was to be at the back of the hut. Five acres are equal to 50 square chains; in other words, a piece of land was to be cleared 110 yards one way and 44 yards the other. The trees that grew upon it were not remarkable for height or size; but their variety probably indicated a fertile and available soil. The largest trees were the ratas, whose scarlet flowers and strange parasitical mode of growth are well known. The rimu (red pine) was abundant; also the kaikatea or white pine, the bukatea, and the tawa. The last-named tree bears a fruit about as large as a small damson, and is, I believe, the only native fruit-tree in New Zealand; but the berry has a strong and disagreeable flavour of turpentine. The most curious and beautiful tree on the section was discovered by an accident. I had agreed with a settler living a little farther down the road for the running of one of the side lines of my section to the depth of forty chains. There is little difficulty about this; the surveyor's post at the corner of the section is found if possible; a number of straight sticks of supplejacks are collected, and the upper portion of each peeled; a second point in the boundary line is then found--I forget in what manner--and its direction thus ascertained. The bushman then begins to clear the boundary line, making a path about two feet wide for the purpose. As he proceeds, he fixes the supplejacks in the line that he has cleared from a dozen to twenty yards apart, and brings the peeled tops of at least the last three that he has fixed into the same line before proceeding
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farther, thus removing, or at any rate minimising, the risk of deviation. Having a chain with him, he can at any time assure himself as to the distance that he has come from the corner-post. As far as possible, unless a real timber tree should be standing in the very boundary, he cuts down everything in the path that he makes level with the ground, so that the line of supplejacks may not be interfered with. This long introduction is only for the purpose of explaining why a certain rare tree which we came across while we were marking the side line was not spared. When we had worked back about thirty chains, we came upon a tall and graceful nikau palm, growing on the very boundary line. If we had left it there, much trouble and time would have been spent in taking the necessary precautions against deviation; and I therefore reluctantly allowed the bushman to cut it down. In its head was a large lump, as big as a child's head, of the edible nutty substance for which the tree is noted.
The site of the hut was so determined as to leave a thin fringe of trees, among which, if I remember right, a fine rata was included, between it and the clearing. It measured about 20 feet by 12, and contained two rooms, in one of which was the entrance door. The walls were made of pretty thick upright slabs or posts, the interstices between them being filled with what colonists call "dab." I settled with Barrow the amount and kind of "sawn-stuff" that would be required for wallplates, door, rafters, ridgepiece, and
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roof; this last was to be both weather-boarded and shingled. Nothing gave us so much trouble as the chimney, from the difficulty of finding stones of a respectable size anywhere in the neighbourhood. But this difficulty was surmounted, tant bien que mal; the felling of the trees on the five acres was finished, the burning-off being deferred to the summer months; and the little clearing enterprise on the Porirua road was so far completed.
I fancy that I can hear readers of a practical turn exclaim, "What folly and absurdity! What could he expect to make out of five acres? What were his ulterior objects, if he had any?" I confess that ulterior objects were but mistily conceived; but, to the best of my remembrance, I thought that I might raise some tons of potatoes and a little wheat, besides garden vegetables, on the land cleared, and gradually become the possessor of a cow, a horse or two, and a few sheep. To this extent I might fairly expect, and should doubtless have received, had things gone differently, assistance from home; for certainly neither the trustees nor any one else could quarrel with the way in which I had expended much the greater part of the small sum of money which I had brought out to New Zealand. That is to say, it could not be said to have been wasted, having been mostly spent in paying wages; it is the utility of the expenditure that will be questioned. As to this I offer no defence; but that I was very earnestly bent on carrying out my clearing project is proved to myself, and may appear probable
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to others, from a circumstance which happened about this time.
Governor Grey had come to Wellington, and was actively informing himself as to the state of the country and the temper of the Maoris. One day as, in bush attire of straw hat and blue serge shirt, I was walking into Wellington from the section, I was overtaken, on the short cut which, avoiding the tedious curves of the Porirua road, descended steeply into the Hutt road, by three horsemen, two of whom were unknown to me, while the third was my friend Godfrey Thomas. Of the two others the elder and taller was a middle-aged man of striking and intelligent countenance; the other was an aide-de-camp. Thomas introduced me to the elder man, naming him as "His Excellency Governor Grey." The Governor, who had heard about me from Archbishop Whately, a distant relation, dismounted, giving his horse to the orderly, and walked with me down the hill. He said that he had called at the section on his way into Wellington, but not finding me there, and hearing that I had gone on myself in that direction, had come after me. After a little conversation, he made me the offer of his private secretaryship, which I respectfully asked for time to consider, but eventually declined. "More folly!" it will be said, and perhaps it was. But for a special reason, I cared little at that time about "getting on"; to throw up my work on the land would have troubled me exceedingly; lastly, the radical idea influenced me that men of independent character ought not to have
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anything to do with the Colonial Government so long as it was carried on by means of nominee, not representative assemblies.
The outlook on the Porirua road had up to this time been cheerful, if not bright; but now there came, "a frost, a killing frost." I have mentioned that at the time of accepting from Colonel Wakefield the section on the Porirua road in exchange for one of those in the Makara valley, I had written to one of my father's trustees, asking their consent to the arrangement.
Now, towards the end of September 1848, the answer came. The trustee, who was my uncle, wrote that they could not legally give their consent to any arrangement of the kind, and that any steps that might have been taken in pursuance of it must be cancelled. So the acres had been cleared, and the hut (which I had actually intended to call "Fox How" after the house built by my father in Westmoreland) had been built for another! The disappointment was bitter; and though I could not quite say "Barbarus has segetes!" the soreness and distress of the beloved poet at seeing his friends turned out of their Mantuan farms were in some degree my portion. However, I did not allow myself to despond; but after calling on Colonel Wakefield, and informing him of the refusal of the trustees to allow the exchange, took counsel with my friends Domett and Collinson with regard to my future movements. Some will say, "Why did he
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not take up the Makara sections and recommence clearing there?" But against this there were several reasons: in the first place, I had spent nearly all my money; and after such an excellent reason, perhaps I need give no other. But it was also true that the Makara valley was out of the way, and hard to come at; also, from what I had seen of the two sections, I was pretty certain that the land at the Makara was much inferior to the land on the Porirua road. If I had been brought up to farming, I suppose I should have stuck to the land, having still the opportunity of doing so, in spite of the temporary discouragement; but as this was not the case, I paused and considered. Domett showed himself a very true and kind friend. Being one of the original Nelson settlers, he was well acquainted with their scheme, which included the foundation of a college or superior grammar-school as soon as the colony was sufficiently developed. The appointment to the headship of this college he thought he could obtain for me; but meantime, as his Nelson friends were continually writing that their boys were growing up without any proper education, he proposed that I should go to Nelson at once and open a school there, the prospect being that such school would merge in the college when the fit time for founding this last arrived.
To comply with this proposal seemed to me the best thing that I could do; and having, I hope, duly expressed my gratitude to Domett for his
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kindness, I began to look out for an opportunity of crossing to Nelson. In those days there was no regular communication between the two places, and very little trade. Frederic Weld being at Wellington, and hearing of this difficulty, proposed to me to take passage with him in his cutter to his sheep-station at Flaxbourne, near Cape Campbell, whither he was returning in a day or two. At Flaxbourne I should be on the right side of the straits, and the best way of proceeding thence by land to Nelson could be found out on arriving there; but he hoped I should not hurry away from the station. This kind proposal I gladly accepted.