1854 - Richardson, J. A Summer's Excursion in New Zealand - CHAPTER I, p 3-7

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  1854 - Richardson, J. A Summer's Excursion in New Zealand - CHAPTER I, p 3-7
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THE reader may, perhaps, have occasionally found that a rough and ill-finished sketch has sometimes succeeded in conveying to his mind a more correct impression of one or more features in a portrait or landscape than he has derived from the faultless production of the accomplished artist, a result not improbably arising from that feature obtaining an undue prominence, or from being somewhat caricatured. Such hasty delineations often appear in the loose notes of the traveller, who jots down in his memorandum book whatever strikes him in the country through which he roams, and in the people among whom he sojourns. In submitting to the public these notes, which owe their origin to a similar experience, the keen edge of criticism may be softened by the reflection, if uninfluenced by more charitable feelings, of the great probability of the bank by which they are circulated being rather impoverished than enriched by the paper issue. It, however, may be just possible that the too lively colours of the more finished production may be tempered, or the too dull be enlivened; be that as it may, the one will ever find a place among our cherished authors, while the other will be useful, after

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its transient flutter, in the voluminous applications of the store keeper.

Shall I say that an ignis fatuus dancing at the antipodes allured me to read and think much of New Zealand, attracted me to its shores, and to investigate its claims? No: the advantages which it presents are not delusive, and though its mines may not glitter with gold, and nuggets of portentous dimensions may not be transferred from its bosom to the pocket, there are sources of wealth which will afford to honest industry, not only a competency, but health wherewith to enjoy it; but of this more hereafter. Once decided upon personally examining its means of affording a comfortable and independent home to a young family, when its only parent was no more, I furnished myself with several popular works on the subject, hoping, on reaching the land of promise, to be the better able to test the reported richness of its milk and sweetness of its honey. The perusal of these works formed a mental picture which I constantly compared with the original, and, if the agreement was not, in all cases, so close as I expected, perhaps, a defect of vision may have imparted to the former some features which did not really belong to it. I have readily availed myself of every means within my reach for the formation of a sound judgment, but have found it undesirable, even had it been practicable, to attach to each borrowed thought or fact its due acknowledgement, without at once covering these loose sheets with the hieroglyphics of a never ceasing marginal reference; and, indeed, I was the more

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deterred from such a procedure by the consideration, that in my selections, or rather absorptions, I have appropriated, by a sort of mental digestion, those parts only which agreed with my own conviction, whether the result of observation, inference, or the testimony of others; and, consequently, this notice will, once for all, acknowledge with aggregated gratitude the assistance I have received. 1 Whilst writing these lines a thought suggests itself, that this studied acknowledgement confers too much notice on a volume which, after all, by an inversion of the usual process, may have only retained the husk and rejected the kernel, and may, moreover, excite expectations which are doomed to the withering blight of disappointment. If such be the case, I must plead in extenuation, a sincere desire to extricate myself from the horns of the dilemma of piratically appropriating, without due acknowledgement, what was not my own, or of attributing to another what was not his, and which he was the better without; for to whom, without an insult, could I ascribe the conglomerate of

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geology, the weeds of botany, or the "kiwis" of natural history?

Having written this note introductory of a stranger to public attention, I will merely say, that in assuming an incognito I have followed the example set by the writers of some of the best extant works on New Zealand; and would anticipate an inference by confessing (at the same time dropping the odious personal pronoun,) that the author aspires not to so eminent a position, though he is not without hope that his work may have its value; he is neither ambitious of the distinctions which successful authorship confers, of which he runs but little risk, nor can he claim exemption from those feelings which a glaring want of success entails, which is a more likely result, and therefore he equally eschews all advantages and disagreeables. His object is simply to do good, to communicate in his own unpretending way, without the necessity of recalling classical associations, with which his mind is but scantily provided, the impressions which a summer's excursion produced: at the same time he has endeavoured to collect and re-arrange such useful information as may guide a parent in providing for a family, or a benefactor for a deserving dependent. What measure of success has attended his efforts it is for the public to decide, who must not expect either originality of idea, or treasured tales imbibed in social intercourse to be retailed in their proper season, for if there be one word which might be reasonably deemed offensive, the author would wish that word expunged. If a single fa-

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mily or individual among the middling and lower classes should be induced, by a careful perusal of these pages, to transplant himself to this antipodal England, after having most religiously counted the cost, and nerved himself for the conflict, the author will feel that the labour he has undergone in their preparation has been most richly repaid, as he is confident that the sober, honest, industrious man, with patient endurance of toil, will most assuredly reap a richer harvest for himself and family than he could have reaped in the land of his birth, and that too without any sacrifice of those patriotic feelings which neither distance, circumstance, nor time should ever lessen or destroy.

1   In consideration of the impatience which a reader generally experiences at the introduction of any extraneous topics, or a formidable array of figures, which inflict an additional tax on the attention, such subjects have been deposited in the appendix, (a) to which he is earnestly solicited to refer as he pauses at the close of each chapter. The author is not unaware of the fate which notes (except those of a bank) usually meet with, and therefore an early appeal is made in their behalf. A "material guarantee" has been effected in favour of the introduction, or preface, which generally shares the same fate, by according to it the elevated position of Chapter No.1.

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