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NEW ZEALAND COMPARED WITH GREAT BRITAIN IN ITS PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL ASPECTS:
A LECTURE delivered in the Hall of the Athenaeum, Wellington, on THURSDAY, July 23, 1857, by the Rev. A. BAKER, M. A.
THE subject on which I propose addressing you this evening was first suggested by an able and interesting lecture, delivered in this hall, the second of the season, on the British Colonies in general. The brief hour or two allotted to the lecturer on these occasions was very pleasantly taken up in his amusing and instructive descriptions of the earlier colonies, more particularly Canada, and the gold fields of Australia; so that, to the regret of those who heard him, he was obliged, somewhat abruptly, to bring his lecture to a close with no more than a cursory glance at the general character and capabilities of the settlements on these shores, in which naturally we should feel a more especial interest. I thought, therefore, it might be useful to take up the subject at this point; and, in order to bring such research and reflection as I could give to it within the compass of a single lecture, that it would be well to confine your attention more particularly to those physical and social aspects of New Zealand in which it bears a real or apparent resemblance to our mother country. I was not then aware, nor indeed until quite recently--since I have prepared
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the matter of this lecture--that the subject had, not long previously, been treated, and in the same manner, in this very Hall. I have, only within the last few days, had the advantage of reading in a printed form, "New Zealand, the future England of the Southern Hemisphere,"--a lecture delivered from this platform on the 14th of April last. It so happens, however, that though thus, quite accidentally, travelling over the same ground, I have very seldom touched on the same particular points of interest, and that when occasionally I have done so, I have taken a somewhat different view. I have thought it best therefore to retain the lecture as at first prepared. My own attention was first drawn to this particular aspect of the subject by a correspondence which has lately been going on in an English newspaper (the Australian and New Zealand Gazette), in which it is proposed to change the present name of New Zealand to "South Britain," or the like. I was thus set upon thinking of the real points of resemblance and contrast between New Zealand and Great Britain; and I thought that some of the topics so suggested to my own mind, might form both an interesting and instructive lecture.
Ever since these islands were first visited, and so vividly described, by Captain Cook, towards the close of the last century, a sort of romantic idea, and impression of their special suitability for British settlement have pervaded the English mind. Even our great historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the first edition of which wonderful labour was published before Cook's Second Voyage, does not disdain to seek from New Zealand an apt illustration of the manners of one portion of our native island. The following very curious passage occurs in the XXVth chapter of his work:--
"Their southern neighbours have felt and perhaps exaggerated the cruel depredations of the Picts and Scots; and a valiant tribe of Caledonia, the Attacotti,
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the enemies and afterwards the soldiers of Valentinian, are accused, by an eye-witness, of delighting in the taste of human flesh. When they hunted the woods for prey, it is said, they attacked the shepherd rather than his flock; and that they curiously selected the most delicate and brawny parts both of males and females, which they prepared for their horrid repasts. If, in the neighbourhood of the commercial and literary town of Glasgow, a race of cannibals has really existed, we may contemplate, in the period of the Scottish history, the opposite extremes of savage and civilized life. Such reflections tend to enlarge the circle of our ideas; and to encourage the pleasing hope that New Zealand way produce, in some future age, the Hume"--he might now appropriately have said the Bulwer, --"of the Southern hemisphere."
Our still living and no less poetical and eloquent historian, Macaulay, takes up the idea, and anticipates the time, when the civilized New Zealander may, like Gibbon himself, "sit musing among the ruins of the capitol or forum," not indeed of Rome, but of London.
In 1807, a vessel touching at New Zealand, --I ought to say not named the Anne Wilson, though commanded by a Captain Rutherford, --was seized by the natives, and Rutherford alone, of all his crew, managed to escape, and got back safe to England. His narrative, published in the Library of Entertaining Knowledge, revived the interest excited by Captain Cook. In 1814, the evangelization of the Natives commenced under the Rev. Samuel Marsden; in 1820, some Maories visited England; in 1825, the first Company was formed to colonize New Zealand; and, in 1837, the New Zealand Company, properly so called, was formed. Then it was that a Select Committee of the House of Lords was appointed to report on the state of the Islands of New Zealand. Among other evidence is that of Captain Fitzroy, R. N., of H. M. S. Beagle, who says, "New Zealand in that hemisphere corresponds to Great Britain in this." Joseph Barrow Montefiore,
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Esq., also gives his opinion before the same Committee--"I have always compared New Zealand, and still do so, to be, just as Great Britain is to the rest of Europe, the great country of that part of the world." It would be easy to multiply proofs how this idea has been harped upon ever since. One can trace, it in the old motto of the Canterbury papers--
--------------"A land there lies
Now void; it fits thy people; thither bend
Thy course; there shalt thou find a lasting seat;
There to thy sons shall many Englands rise,
And states (quaere, 'Empire States?') be born of thee."
It is apparent in the title of Mr. Cholmondely's ingenious, but somewhat whimsical and pedantic Essay on New Zealand, Ultima Thule, --the classical name of Ancient Britain. The author also expressly says-- "We have no other colony which so much resembles England in climate, size, and position. It is not too much to say, that New Zealand will become an exact copy of England, Churches, houses, roads, inns, hedges, trees, will be almost entirely English" (p. 325). A schoolfellow of mine, Mr, Tyrone Power, in his amusing Sketches of New Zealand, says, What a glorious and humanizing occupation it would be for many of our large men-of-war, now rotting in dock, to carry shiploads of willing labour to a splendid country like this. --A new England would spring up in the Southern Ocean, a source of wealth in time of peace, and in war a strong son to assist. The cool breezes, invigorating climate, and the agricultural pursuits of the children of the soil will produce a race more resembling their progenitors than any of our colonies" (p. 193). Mr. Gibbon Wakefield, in an interesting note of his "Art of Colonization," describing the origin of the name "Wellington" given to this city, writes "The leaders of the first (N. Z. C.) settlement afterwards planted in New
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Zealand, were made aware of this circumstance (the great Duke's support of the S. Australian Bill, &c.), by the person who had applied to the Duke of Wellington, and who requested them as a personal favour in return for much exertion on their behalf, to give the name of Wellington to the spot most likely to become the metropolis of the Britain of the South" (p. 48). "New Zealand; the Britain of the South," is the title of 2 vols, just published in England, by Mr. Hursthouse, late of Taranaki. The most recent work I have read upon New Zealand, Miss Tucker's nice little narrative The Southern Cross and Southern Crown, still keeps up the same ideal strain; she writes, "There is much in New Zealand to awaken special interest in an English mind. Its sea-girt isles, situated at the remotest part of the earth's circumference, inhabited by a people bold and brave, intelligent and enterprising, seem naturally fitted to be the Britain Of the Southern Hemisphere" (p. 2). Now, in spite of and in opposition to this most respectable catena of consentient witnesses, I am prepared to maintain that the idea of any special resemblance to Great Britain, in physical or social respects, is most unreal, (excepting of course in the simple fact of New Zealand being an island, and on the other side of the globe)--and that if, in God's Providence, the Daughter is destined to attain to the same high eminence in wealth and glory among the nations as the Mother State, it must be by moving along another road of progress. Geographically or otherwise considered, she cannot move along the same. The proofs of this will open to us a subject of exceeding interest. Before, however, entering into details, I would express my own opinion of the entire insignificance of these questions of the names of places. The name which is first accidentally suggested is, generally speaking, the most appropriate; and almost always will obtain most extensively, notwithstanding every attempt to supersede it. It always appears to mean absurdity
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to impose the names of places or to change them by authoritative mandate or proclamation. We need not search beyond the history of this colony for more than one instance of the absurdity. I will mention only the names of the provinces into which the two islands were divided, out of compliment, it is said, to the Governor of that day, who was an Irishman, though there are fewer Irishmen in this than perhaps any other British Colony; nor is there any remarkable geographical resemblance to the Irish Provinces -- after which the new Settlements were called. But Great Britain itself will furnish us with an eminent example. Its original name was Britain, --derived, it has been said, from one Brute, who led the first colonists to the shores on returning or escaping from the Trojan war; such at least was the tradition of the early chroniclers. Now the Romans, (like the correspondents in the Australian and New Zealand Gazette), thought Albion was a prettier name than Britain, and they gave it that name instead, in compliment to its white and chalky cliffs. The French, especially Prince Joinville, sometimes now call it in contempt Albion perfide. When the Anglo Saxons came in afterwards they, in their turn, determined to call the land after their own name, England; a name which has prevailed to this day, as applied to the chief portion of Great Britain; though Britain itself has never been superseded, and is the very name it is now washed to transfer to our adopted country "in the Southern hemisphere." After this we shall, perhaps, be less surprised when we are sometimes puzzled at finding one friend is going to Port Victoria, another to Port Cooper, another to Lyttelton, and a fourth to Canterbury, --all meaning the same place. It reminds me of another school-fellow--George Augustus Frederick Percy Sydney Smythe, son of Lord Strangford, the late member for Canterbury, --not our Canterbury, but the English Canterbury, in the British Parliament, of whom it was a standing joke
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of our schoolmaster, that he had so many names that, when he went away for the holidays, he must have at least two post chaises to take him home.
Before dismissing this subject, I would only put in a plea, as a matter not only of taste but of antiquarian, i. e. historical importance, for the retention of the aboriginal names of places, especially of places possessing Maori associations, such as pahs, battle fields, mountains, plains, and rivers. Mrs. Sigourney, the American poetess, has written some pretty lines in honor of the Indian names still attached to the rivers and mountains of the United States, --
Ye say they all have passed away,
That noble race and brave;
That their light canoes have vanished
From off the crested wave;
That, mid the forests where they roamed,
There rings no hunter's shout;
But their name is on your waters, ---
Ye may not wash it out.
'Tis where Ontario's billow
Like ocean's surge is curled,
Where strong Niagara's thunders wake
The echo of the world;
Where red Missouri bringeth
Rich tribute from the west,
And Rappahannock sweetly sleeps
On green Virginia's breast.
Ye say their cone-like cabins,
That clustered o'er the vale,
Have disappeared, as withered leaves
Before the autumn's gale;
But their memory liveth on your hills,
Their baptism on your shore;
Your everlasting rivers speak
Their dialect of yore.
Old Massachusetts wears it
Within her lordly crown,
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And broad Ohio bears it
Amid his young renown.
Connecticut hath wreathed it
Where her quiet foliage waves,
And bold Kentucky breathes it hoarse
Through all her ancient caves.
Wachusett hides its lingering voice
Within its rocky heart,
And Alleghany graves its tone
Throughout his lofty chart.
Monadnock, on his forehead hoar,
Doth seal the sacred trust, --
Your mountains build their monument,
Though ye destroy their dust.
The names of Tongariro, Taranaki, Wanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Ahuriri, and others, in our own case, might be substituted with like effect. As a coincidence, I may mention, that the names of the rivers and mountains of our own native country are for the most part Celtic, while the names of towns and divisions are chiefly either Roman or Saxon. In the neighbourhood of Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, where I once held a curacy, there are two villages called Great and. Little Kimble, evidently after Cunobelinus, whom Shakespeare calls Cymbeline: another was called Horsenden after Horsa, the companion of Hengist. There is a rising ground near Hereford called Oyster Hill, --Camden says, after Ostorius Scapula, a Roman Governor of Britain shortly previous to Agricola, to whom I shall have occasion to refer presently. These are instances (which might be multiplied by hundreds and thousands) of the historic value of names of places; --a value entirely set aside by the mere theoretic coining of a fancy name. Far more real and significant is it to call our new settlements and towns after the names of those who have been chiefly instrumental in their foundation; e.g., Grey Town, Masterton, and Featherston, --though the last name may hereafter
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puzzle archaeologists by its termination, as if, like the other two instances, it stood for town; -- "town" itself, by the way, being a very appropriate name for these reserved blocks, though I have sometimes heard it laughed at, -- such, according to Horne Tooke, being the proper meaning of the term. Thus, in St. Luke's Gospel, where our present translation renders "I have bought a piece of ground" Wickliffe translates it, "I have bought a toun;" and again, the sense of our modern version, "he sent him into his field to feed swine," is expressed by him, "he sente him into his toun that he shulde fede hoggis." Still more strikingly, "in the city and in the country," is rendered by Wickliffe, "in the citie and in tounes." But I must not dwell longer on this curious point.
On the whole, I think we should act wisely in not changing the name of New Zealand, which is so closely associated with the early history of the colony and preserves a record of its discovery by the Dutch Tasman. Probably many of those who would use the title "South Britain" or "Britain of the South," mean, as he did, only to transfer and perpetuate the name of their native country in another region; as Teucer flying from Salamis, called by the same name the little town in Cyprus which he founded ("ambiguam tellure nova Salamina futuram"); or as Asdrubal, the Carthaginian general, gave the name of Nova Carthago to his new colony in Spain. Just so, we have already in the South Pacific, a little island, called "New Britain," as well as New Caledonia, New Ireland, New Hebrides, in the Melanesian group. But the writers whom I have quoted, no doubt, over and above this natural feeling of loyally and patriotism, have a vague impression of some general resemblance between New Zealand and Great Britain, either in geographical character, or the history of its colonization, or some relation analagous to that of England in the Northern Hemisphere. This is an error I
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shall endeavour to qualify and correct in what follows of my lecture.
No branches of history possess a more absorbing interest for the thoughtful student than Physical Geography, and the Ethnological character of a people. To these more particularly I shall now endeavour to direct your attention. "It is vain to deny," writes Dr. Arnold in one of his historical treatises appended to his edition of Thucydides, "that differences of national character apparently constitutional, and belonging to distinct families of the human race, have immensely influenced the greatness and happiness of each: it is equally clear that the physical geography of the several parts of the earth had advanced or retarded the moral and intellectual progress of the respective inhabitants." Now, in both these particulars I maintain, i.e. both physically and socially, there are material and most important distinctions between Great Britain and New Zealand, which cannot but affect their course of history. By Physical Geography, of which I will treat first, is meant those natural features of a country which may be expected to effect its progress; such as its locality in relation to neighbouring countries, its geographical surface, mountainous or plain, its natural productions, vegetable and mineral, its agricultural capabilities, its soil and climate, and, last not least, its water privileges, its riversheds and seaboard. In all these, as soon as stated, you will perceive at once, there are immense and most material differences, so as scarcely to allow of an identity of name between the two countries. In some particulars, no doubt, New Zealand may claim advantages over the Mother Country, as probably in climate: in others, it is as decidedly inferior. Perhaps to no distinguishing points in its geography does Great Britain owe its wealth and national eminence so much as to these two, taken together: first, its length of coast-line in proportion to its area; and secondly, its position
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in relation to the other lands of the globe. "Its area is 80,000 square miles, the coast line, 3,100. This gives a result of about 1 mile of coast to 27 square miles of area. Comparing this with the greatest masses of land of the globe, Europe has 156 square miles of area to 1 of coast line; North America has 228, South America, 376; Asia, 459; Africa, 629. To state the facts in another mode: if the proportion of coast line in Africa be reckoned as 1, in Asia it will be about 1 1/2, in South America 2, in North America 3, in Europe 4, and in great Britain 23." The area of New Zealand is somewhat greater, including the whole group; some accounts, make it about one-fifth larger; viz., 99,500 square miles. A glance at the map will show that its length in proportion to its width is considerable, and that it has a large extent of seaboard; but its coast is much less irregular and indented with harbours and estuaries, and is much less available for navigation purposes. In this respect, perhaps chiefly, the contrast between Great Britain and New Zealand tells to the disadvantage of the latter. Some of the rivers of Great Britain are navigable for 50 and 70 miles inwards for ships of the largest burden; as the Thames in England, and the Forth in Scotland; all the way to London and to Stirling. The Clyde, the Mersey, the Severn, the Humber, the Tyne, are other specimens of the rivers of Great Britain, with which it seems absurd to compare any in New Zealand. Yet there is no particular on which such stress has been laid in books of puffery about New Zealand. I will give an instance, of which we shall all be able to form a judgment. In a little book, called Information relative to New Zealand, put forth by the New Zealand Company in 1839, it is said of Fort Nicholson, "it is one of the best harbours in the world. It is at least 12 miles long, and upon an average 3 miles wide. The shelter is perfect, and ships may enter and leave the harbour with all winds. The depth of water in the harbour is never
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less than from 7 to 11 fathoms." Then comes the climax-- "the river Haritoua (now called the Hutt) which falls into the port is said to be navigable for nearly a hundred miles. (!) The banks of the river rise to a considerable height, &c." (p. 9.) I may here mention that the same accurate information I states, (at p. 3) that "in the interior there are several volcanoes in active operation, and a very high mountain on the West Coast, called Taranaki, or Mount Egmont, is also a volcano in an active state. There is no reason, however, to believe that the country is subject to earthquakes, there being no record of any within the memory of man." !! I am bound to add that a much more truthful account both of the rivers and the harbours of the colony is put forth by another accredited agent of the New Zealand Company, the author of "The Six Colonies." He says:-- "The harbours of the colony are one of its remarkable features. It possesses a great number, many of first-rate excellence. But one inconvenience attends most of them; they are not generally in immediate connexion with any considerable quantity of level land. The Irish moralist, who illustrated the goodness of Providence by the fact of its having placed all the great rivers by the side of the great towns, would have been at a loss to reconcile his theory with the physical character of New Zealand in this respect. Some of the finest districts of the North, such as Mokau, Kawhia, Taranaki, and the whole coast from the latter down to Wellington, are without any harbours accessible to vessels of more than the lowest tonnage and draft. Two of the finest in the colony, Akaroa and Port Hardy, have scarcely an acre of available land about them, while even Port Lyttelton and Otago are separated from the open country by heavy ridges of mountains or hills. None of the rivers are navigable for any great distance, and, with two exceptions, --New River in Foveaux Straits, and, I believe, the Thames, in the North--are only available for small
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craft" (p. 3.) It was this superiority of "the Thames" compared with other New Zealand rivers which led Captain Cook to recommend Auckland as the best site for a British settlement. It is an error to allege that its selection for the seat of Government and the metropolis of the colony was either an accident or arbitrary. Captain Cook says, in 1773, "If the settling of this country should ever be thought an object worthy the attention of Great Britain, the best place for establishing a colony would be either on the banks of the Thames or in the country bordering upon the Bay of Islands. In either case there would be the advantage of an excellent harbour; and by means of the river, settlements might be extended, and a communication established with the inland parts of the country; vessels might be built of the fine timber which abounds in these parts, at a very little trouble and expense, fit for such a navigation as would answer the purpose." The timber here alluded to is the Kauri, or Cowdie, as it is commonly called. --which grows only in the North, and the possession of which at Auckland was, I suppose, a chief motive in its selection for a settlement. The wood is full of valuable resin; and is durable, hard, and fit for spars. Mr. Taylor, in his recent exceedingly interesting volume, Te lka a Maui, thus describes the water privileges of Auckland:--
"Its capabilities from ports and rivers is superior to every other Province. Auckland itself is very remarkable for its singular advantages of position: seated on a neck of land which projects into a land-locked harbour, it has a water frontage on both sides, and into this harbour the Thames empties itself by a gulf, bearing its name, which gives access to that part of the interior; in fact, Auckland harbour may be said to form the corner of an inland sea, of about 100 miles extent, opening up all the adjoining country, by numberless creeks and arms, to a secure trade with the capital. Nor is this the extent of its local advantages: Auck-
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land stands on a neck of land, which is only 5 miles across to the fine harbour of Manukau, on the western side, and from it there is the most direct and expeditious communication with the Cook's Strait settlements, which are now regularly visited by a steamer. Manukau is close to Waikato, the largest river of New Zealand, which flows with a deep stream from Lake Taupo; and it is not improbable before many years have elapsed, that a canal from Piako to the Waikato will be made, which with a few locks will enable vessels of almost any burden to penetrate to the great central lake by the Waikato, which flows through the finest and most available district of the entire island. Another canal of half-a-mile from the Tamaki to Manukau will enable vessels to go from Auckland to that port. A short distance, north of Auckland, on the west coast, is the harbour of Kaipara, the estuary of another noble river, the Wairoa, which has its source near the Bay of Islands; a canal of a few miles would connect Auckland with it also."--(p. 214).
Now, I am again bound to say, that if other information is correct, Mr. Taylor has here considerably exaggerated the capabilities of the Waikato for navigation of large ships. I am told that it has shallows and rapids like the English Wye, though navigable for canoes. Otherwise I should feel obliged to modify my opinion of the inferiority of New Zealand rivers. The advantages of the English Thames over perhaps all the rivers of the world--to which, no doubt, in a great measure is due the pre-eminence of London--are such as these: --1. The uniformity of its supply of water, arising from its valley not being subject either to long droughts, to violent rains, or melting snows; 2. The gradual fall of its bed, and therefore its gentle, regular flow; 3. Its moderate tidal influence, and the consequent ease of its water carriage, "If the rise of the tide were greater," says a writer, "as at the mouth of the Severn, the navigation would be endangered by what is technically called
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a 'bore;")--and 4, lastly, the gentle slope of the banks towards the river. In neither one or other of these particulars, I am afraid, can we venture to compare any river in New Zealand--not even our Thames, which the author of "the Six Colonies" describes as one of the only two navigable.
However, there is another view of the case, which in justice I would wish to put strongly, for I have no desire to make out other than a most hopeful prospect for our foster land. The greatness and glory of a country does not depend upon its rivers. Where are the great rivers of Greece? The very name by which they were called in the native language, (potami) drinking streams, describes their geographical insignificance. If, therefore, we are inclined to despond at the thought of our rivers, as water privileges, being so vastly inferior to those of Great Britain, to say nothing of America, we may at least take comfort in the reflection that they are equal to those of ancient Greece, which, like ours, were chiefly mountain torrents, fed by the snows and rains, and of unequal depth and flow, but were the drinking streams of countless flocks and herds. And even as regards the wealth and political economy of a nation, there is this further consolatory thought: In our day, water communication by rivers and canals in the interior of a country is superseded by the much more expeditious, cheaper, and more universally practicable agent, --railroads and steam. I cannot but think that the suggestion made by the chief surveyor in this Province of extending a tram or railway through an important settled district, where labour would be easy, and timber material is cheap, would, if carried out, go far to counterbalance one of our chief Provincial disadvantages, a deficiency in water privileges, and in easy communication with the interior.
Since I have referred incidentally to the rivers of Greece, I may here suggest what has often occurred to my own mind when thinking on this
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subject, --that in many other particulars also of internal physical geography, a very remarkable analogy might be made out between this country and that. This, indeed, might form the subject of a distinct and most interesting lecture. I will only mention now three obvious particulars in which the analogy, in a very striking manner, holds good. In some admirable lectures on Grecian history addressed to the youth of Eton College, by, I am told, a dignitary of the Church of England resident in Auckland, the following apposite and most suggestive passage occurs:--
"The physical character of Greece has had a remarkable influence on the character and history of the people. First--the country is marked out by large basins into districts almost unconnected with each other, and calculated to become the seats of small communities and states, such as we find was the case originally in Greece (like Italy in this respect). Moreover, Thessaly, Northern Greece, and the Peloponnese, were separated from each other in the same way, and the passes of Thermopylae and Corinth so easily defended, that it was very difficult for one divison to get a supremacy over the other. Secondly--the extent of the sea-board, and the vicinity to Italy, Phoenicia, and Asia Minor, made it cultivate a commercial and maritime power, while its rich valleys fitted it for agriculture and pasturage. (In this respect we are reminded of England.) Thirdly--its happy combination of sea and mountain served to make it the cradle of a bold and free people, --
'Two voices are there: one is of the Sea,
One of the Mountains: each a mighty voice:
In both from age to age thou dost rejoice.
They are thy chosen Music, Liberty.'
The climate (which Homer calls, sharp as a sword; Euripides bright as a lamp) had a wonderful influence on the Grecian character, both in body and mind."
The climate of New Zealand is no doubt one of the strongest points in its favour when contrasted
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with Great Britain. And this, not only in regard to pleasantness as a place of residence, but so far as we can form a judgment from our short experience, also in its healthful invigorating effect upon the physical constitution. There are few subjects on which, individually, I could speak with more grateful eloquence than upon this. The sharp, clear, --swordlike, lamplike--climate of Greece, exactly expresses the peculiarity of New Zealand climate. As compared with England it is warmer, because considerably nearer the equator; but, according to a law of physical geography, that countries in the Southern hemisphere are cooler than those of corresponding latitude in the Northern, its climate is more temperate and equable, within a narrower range of vicissitude from heat to cold, and at the same time less enervating than the south of France, Italy, Greece, Constantinople, with which it more nearly agrees in its points of latitude than with Britain. The softening and deteriorating effect of Italian and Grecian climate upon the human constitution and character is sadly evident in the Italians and Greeks of our day. I think we have great reason to congratulate ourselves, or rather to thank God, for the cool nights, and I will add, the invigorating breezes of New Zealand, ---especially of Wellington--which I always thankfully regard as sanatory blessings, disagreeable as they sometimes are, not only ventilators, counteracting the malaria of great towns or undrained swampy districts, but, still more, for their bracing effects upon the nerves and spirits, always keeping the bow well strung, and correcting the lassitude engendered by a moist atmosphere and burning sun.
The equality of the New Zealand climate is, no doubt, principally due to its position in the centre of a vast expanse of open ocean; in this respect presenting one of its strongest points of contract with Great Britain. There is a fact so singular, connected with this subject, that I have requested a friend to prepare me a diagram for its illustration.
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Suppose a map projected on the horizon of London, that is to say, suppose the eye of the observer to be placed above that city, and to see from thence one half of the globe. It so happens that from that point, and no other, we should behold the greatest possible quantity of land; and if we are then transferred to the opposite or antipodal point, we should see the greatest possible quantity of water. This very remarkable coincidence is dwelt upon by the eminent geologist Lyell, from whose Principles of Geology I borrow it, in a chapter describing the probable causes of the changes of the climate, temperature, and physical geography in the world. If the fact has never been pointed out to you before, I think the knowledge of it alone will repay you for the trouble you have kindly taken in coming to listen to this lecture; it is so wonderful, --I may say, even awful, --when one reflects, without fancifulness, on the mysterious indications of some special charge in God's Providence, laid upon one's own native country in relation to the other nations of mankind; coupled, as it is, with the vast extent of England's empire encircling the whole globe; and with the significant and suggestive fact that Palestine stood in a similar relation to the land of the Old World.
You are aware, I dare say, that very great changes, owing to whatever causes, are supposed to have taken place in the temperature and climate of Great Britain. The decayed remains of tropical plants, analogous to the tree-fern and nikau in this country, have been discovered in the English coal fields. Probably, it more nearly corresponded with New Zealand in these respects than at present; though some allowance must be made for the destruction of plants and flora of this character by the clearance of forest, drainage, and the cultivation of higher orders of vegetation: and it remains to be proved whether our tree ferns would not thrive with a sufficiency of shelter, shade, and moisture in the South of England.
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In regard to earthquakes and excessive gales of wind, there seems reason to suppose that Great Britain has, in the course of her history, gradually improved; and, in these respects also, there was a closer resemblance between our native and adopted country than at present. One might parallel the worst earthquakes and highest gales to which we are exposed here by descriptions extracted from old Chroniclers of similar phenomena in England. I will read a few amusing instances which I have here collated, --
"1091. On the 5th of October, there fell a violent storm in several parts of England, especially at Winchelscomb, in Glocestershire, where the steeple of the church was thrown down by thunder and lightning, and the crucifix, with the image of the Virgin, was broken to pieces.
"During the above, there was also a thick smoke which darkened the sky.
"On the 17th of the same month, there happened a storm of wind at S. W. the same that blew in the late tempest, so dreadful to the whole nation. In London it threw down 500 houses, and unroofed Bow-Church. At Old Sarum, the steeple and many houses were blown down.
"1113. The water of the river Medway failed so much that the smallest boats could not float in the channel: also, the Thames was so low between the Tower and the bridge, that women and children waded it over; owing to so great an ebb in the ocean, that laid the sands bare several miles from the shore, which continued a whole day.
"1114. During this year several bridges in England, being then of timber, were broken down by the ice when it was thawed after a severe frost.
"1134. On the, 2nd of August, just as King Henry was about to take ship and sail for Normandy, there was a most terrible earthquake. During the earthquake, flames of fire burst out of certain riffs of the earth with great violence.
"1179. At Christmas, at a place called Oxen-hall,
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near Darlington, in the bishoprick of Durham, the earth raised itself up like a lofty tower, and remained several hours in that posture; on a sudden, it sunk down again, with a horrid noise, and the earth so sucked it in, that it made there a deep pit, which continues to this day. Mr. Camden supposes it to be the wells that are now called Hell kettles.
"1251. The chimney of the chamber where the queen and her children lay, was blown down by a terrible storm, and her whole apartment at Windsor shaken and torn. Oaks in the park were rent asunder, and turned up by the roots, and all was accompanied with such thunder and lightning, as had not been known in the memory of man.
"1330. The rains were so violent, that the harvest did not begin till Michaelmas. At Christmas a westerly wind overthrew several houses and public edifices, tore up trees by the roots, and did a vast deal of mischief.
"1338. It rained almost continually, from the beginning of October to the beginning of December, and then came a frost upon it, which lasted twelve weeks; yet, though the corn was destroyed by it in a great measure, the war with Scotland made money so scarce, that all sorts of grain were sold at a reasonable rate.
"1348. It rained from Midsummer to Christmas, so that there was not one day or night dry together. This wet season caused great floods, and a pestilence, which raged a whole year. The earth was at the same time barren, and even the sea did not produce such plenty of fish as formerly. The mortality was so great, that in the city of London two hundred bodies were buried every day in the Charter-house-yard, besides those interred in other common burying places; this lasted from Candlemas to Easter.
"1359. When King Edward was on his march, within two leagues of Chartres, there happened a most dreadful hurricane of deadly piercing wind, that swelled to a tempest of rain, lightning, and hail-stones so prodigious, as to kill instantly 6000 of his horse, and 1000 of his best troops.
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"1381. When Richard II's first wife came from Bohemia, she had no sooner set foot on shore, than such a tempest immediately arose, as had not been seen in many years. Several ships were dashed in pieces in the harbour, and the ship in which the queen came over was shattered and broken, which was the more observable, because his second wife brought a storm with her to the English coasts, in which the king's baggage was lost, and many ships of his fleet was cast away.
"1389 A hurricane threw down many houses, destroyed cattle, and rooted up trees. This preceded a great mortality, especially among youth, and that a famine.
"1438. Nov. 25, a gust of wind blew off the lead of the Grey Friars' church, and almost beat down the whole side of a street called the Old Exchange.
"1600. About this time, London was almost entirely built of wood, and in every respect a very ugly city. The earl of Arundel first introduced the practice of brick-building."
In connexion with these meteorological annals, as we may fitly style them, it will be interesting to append authentic descriptions of England in that early period of its history at which an analogy with New Zealand in its present stage may most properly be made out. I will read you pretty literal translations from Caesar, and from Tacitus, which will give some idea of the impression entertained of the physical and social character of Britain, in the one instance more than fifty years before the Christian era, in the other more than half a century after. Caesar writes in the 5th Book of his Commentaries, which contains the history of his second visit to the British island:--
"The interior of Britain is inhabited by those who traditionally claim to be the aboriginal natives of the island; the sea-coast by those who had crossed over from Belgium for purposes of war and plunder, and nearly all of whom retained the name of those dis-
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tricts from whence they originally came, and after the war was over, had settled there and farmed the land. There is an immense number of people altogether, and their dwellings are thickly crowded together, like those in Gaul; there are also vast herds of cattle. They use copper or iron tokens of a certain weight instead of coin. Tin is produced in the midland districts, and iron on the coast. The copper they use is brought into the country. There is timber of every kind the same as in Gaul, besides the beech and silver fir. They think it wrong to eat hare, fowl, or goose; but they breed them for sport and amusement. The range of temperature is more equal than in France, both cold and heat being less intense. The shape of the island is triangular, of which one side is opposite Gaul. The extreme corner of this side, which is in Kent, where ships from Gaul commonly put in, faces the east; the part below it faces the south. This side extends about 500 miles. The other side faces Spain and the west; and on this side is Hibernia (Ireland), about half the size, it is thought, of Britain, but which is reached by a strait as wide as that which separates Britain and Gaul. In the middle of the strait is the island called Mona (Man or Anglesea); and it is thought several other smaller islands, of which some writers assert there are thirty days at the winter solstice without sunlight. I was not able to find anything out about this by enquiry, except that by accurate measurement with an hour-glass I noticed that the nights were shorter than on the continent. The length of this side, in the opinion of the people themselves, is 700 miles. The third side is towards the north, and with no land opposite to it; but its extreme corner faces Germany. This side is considered about 800 miles long, so that the whole circuit of the island is 2,000 Roman miles. Of all the inhabitants the people of Kent, the whole of which tract of country lies along the coast, are the most civilized, and do not much differ in manners from the Gauls. Those living inland for the most part do not grow wheat, but live on milk and flesh
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and are clad in skins. And all the Britons stain themselves with woad, which leaves a blue colour, and so gives them a frightful appearance in the field of battle. They wear the hair long, and have the upper lip unshaved. Ten or twelve live together, and have wives in common; the one among them being considered the parent of those children who were born of her whom he induced to become a wife."
Then follows some description of their mode of fighting, which was in a great measure on horseback and in chariots, --in this respect differing from the Maories.
The following from Tacitus' Life of Agricola, describes Britain more than 100 years later, in the time of the valiant Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni:--
"Britain, the largest of the islands known to the Romans, ranges both in space and climate from Germany in the East, to Spain on the West; on the South it faces Gaul, and its North, having no land opposite it, is washed by the wide and open sea. Livy and Fabius Rusticus, the most eloquent of old and modern historians, have likened it in shape to an irregular trapezium, or the head of a two-edged battle-axe; and such is really its appearance on the other side of Caledonia (Scotland), whence the description has been applied to the whole of the island. At the extreme end there is an immense tract of land stretching out into the sea, sharpening to a point. There for the first time a Roman fleet having cruised round the coast of this the most recently discovered sea, ascertained that Britain was an island, and discovered some islands hitherto unknown, named the Orcades, and brought them under subjection. Thule (either Norway or Zealand) was sighted in the distance, snow and hard frost having before this prevented its discovery; as it was, a sea dull and heavy for the rowers kept them from approaching nearer; for the winds could not even raise a swell, I believe because of there being so little land and few mountains, which are the chief instru-
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ments and cause of storms; and besides, so vast a body of unbroken sea is less readily set. in motion. No where has the sea so wide a domain as it has here; vast rivers here and there discharge themselves into its bosom, and the tide does not ebb and flow upon the shore, but thoroughly inter-penetrates and hems it in, as it were burying itself among crests of mountains rising out of its own deep. It has not yet been satisfactorily determined--a question always difficult among uncivilized nations--whether the early inhabitants of Britain were aborigines or intruding strangers. Some clue may be derived from a difference of physiological character which obtains among them; for the red hair of those inhabiting Caledonia and their large limbs, declare them to be of German origin. The dark complexion and curly hair of the Silures, and the position of Spain on the opposite side of the straits, make it probable that some of the old Iberians (or Erse) had crossed over and settled in these parts. Those adjacent to the Gauls also exhibit the same characters, whether proving the perpetuation of natural causes due to a common origin, or whether the lands running parallel in opposite directions, the similarity of climate produced similar physiological characteristics. On the whole, I am inclined to believe that the Gauls occupied only the districts adjacent to their own country. They formerly were ruled by kings; now they are broken up into parties by the chiefs; nor did any thing more tell to our advantage in fighting against some of the strongest tribes, than that they did not meet together to consult. It seldom happened that two or three tribes joined to meet a common danger; so that fighting separately, they all were conquered. The climate is subject to frequent rains and fogs; but there is no great severity of cold weather. The length of days is greater than with us in Italy, the nights light; and at the further end of Britain, short--so much so, that it is difficult to distinguish between sunset and dark,. They say that, if it is not
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overcast, the light of the sun may be seen all through the night, that it never in fact rises or sets, but merely moves to and fro upon the face of the sky. The truth is, that the extremities of the land being without mountains, and therefore without long shadows, do not induce much darkness, and night comes on without anything to obstruct the light of the starry heavens. The soil, besides the olive and the vine and other plants which usually grow in warmer climates, is able to produce wheat in great abundance; it grows very rapidly, but slowly ripens; both which results are owing to the same cause, the humidity of the soil and atmosphere. Britain produces gold, silver, and other metals, and so offers a great prize for conquest; the sea about it produces pearls, which, however, are of a dark, dull colour. This is owing, it is thought, to a lack of skill in those who gather them; for in the Red Sea they are torn off, when living, from the rocks--in Britain they are only picked up when cast up by the tide. I should be more inclined to believe that in this matter nature was more at fault, as regards the colour of the pearls, than that avarice should fail us in supplying skill."
There is, perhaps, no branch of English history more interesting and instructive, especially to colonists of a new country, than that which describes its gradual social progress, as evidenced by those outward physical changes which are stamped on the face of a country itself. I had marked several passages for extract, illustrative of this view, but having. I fear, already wearied your patience by the length of my prosy dissertation, I will confine your attention to two or three of the most striking periods. I quote from some admirable Lectures on the History of England, anonymously published at Oxford a few years ago:--
"Those among. you who have travelled in Scotland, Ireland, or the West of England, may have seen the large tracts of oak brushwood which are probably the remains of the ancient forests of this country, and
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which are the natural growth of the soil. At the time when these Islands of Great Britain and Ireland were first visited by the Romans, the whole of the country was covered with this kind of forest, or broken into open pasture like our commons, except in some places where the rivers and streams overflowed their banks and formed large bogs or fens. These morasses were very extensive, and could not often be crossed without a guide; but notwithstanding that there were many of these bogs, the country as a whole must have been very green and beautiful in the summer months, and the vast unbroken woods, with bright glades of mossy turf winding in and out between them, the deep tranquil vallies, and clear rushing streams wandering among the hills, must have filled the first conquerors of the soil with admiration, even though they had left such fair scenes behind them in their own Italy." (p. 7).
Such was the condition of Britain when first visited by the Romans, not very dissimilar from that of New Zealand at this moment. At the time of Agricola, already referred to, it is thus described
"The Romans were becoming naturalized in the country, and we find even in the present day, traces of their wealth and power, in the remains of excellent roads, beautiful villas, the floors of which were tesselated, or inlaid, in patterns, altars with inscriptions to their different gods, and urns and vessels of clay, many of them containing coins in good preservation. And the rapidity with which the natives now adopted their manners was remarkable. Even Boadicea had a coinage, a thing unknown a few years before; towns began to spring up every where, and luxury, dress, and wealth, soon destroyed in our forefathers every remaining vestige of their former independence."
The relation of the Romans in Britain, I would observe, was more like the military occupation of our Indian possessions than settlement in a colony. I am afraid that our military roads in this country,
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laudable and useful as they are, will not bear comparison with the admirable trunk lines of communication left by the Romans, and still in use to this day in England, In the 4th Century, A. D. --
We read no more of towns in Britain whose houses of green turf made them scarcely to be distinguished from the woods which surrounded them, or of people who spent half their time up to the neck in swamp, or wandering about in tribes like our gypsies. A wonderful revolution had taken place, and of Carleon on Usk, an old historian gives us the following description:-- 'Besides its great wealth, above the other cities, its situation was most pleasant. On one side it was washed by that noble river--on the other side, the beauty of the meadows and groves, and the magnificence of the royal palaces, with lofty gilded roofs, made it rival even the grandeur of Rome.' Although the Romans had introduced many improvements, the appearance of the country generally was little changed. You might ride for miles and miles through dense woods, the morasses were undrained, and the inhabitants of the different districts continued ignorant; even agriculture was but little understood, and the peaceful arts, such as spinning, weaving, &c, were as yet unpractised. It was an object with the devout men of those times to form themselves into communities, or companies, with the view of reclaiming the land from paganism. They usually obtained leave from some king or native chief to reside on his land, or to settle on some swamp, of which no one would envy them the possession, and their first employment in settling was to build a church. The place selected for building was often a secluded valley near a running stream. In the intervals of building they would occupy themselves in prayer, in preaching the truth, and in relieving the sick and unfortunate in the neighbouring district. In these employments they often met with much opposition, but in a little while the inhabitants began to be less suspicious of them, and more anxious to assist them. In process of time a Church arose in the heart
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of the wilds, and now, that hitherto silent valley reechoed daily to the sound of prayer and praise, and long after its inhabitants had gone to rest, the more wakeful saw lights glimmering in the church, in the dead of the night, and caught the tone of chanted psalmody borne down the valley by the breeze; and such loved to think that they were not lying awake alone, but that holy men were keeping watch with them and praying for them. This, then, was the way in which the great religious houses were reared. They might almost be called missionary settlements' (the Otakis of those days); 'and they soon became powerful engines in the spread both of religion and education; so that knowledge, if not general, was far from being rare. The really religious of all times have been found the best promoters of learning and science. Although valuing no human attainments, except as they may be made useful for the true end of life, --growth in faith and holiness, --they neglect nothing that adds interest and value to truth. Think, too, how marshy wilds and thick woods, no longer the abodes of wild animals or miserable half clothed inhabitants, became, under the influence of Christianity, scenes of beauty and peace; where the barrenness of nature gave place to luxuriance; where the anvil sounded and the mill-wheel turned, and the plough was at work, and the hamlets grew up like clustered ivy round the sacred homes whose presence carried a calm protection in their very aspect; whose towers, soaring into the sky, taught a daily lesson of hope under life's worst ills and sicknesses; whose massive proportions, rich with sculptured symbols, embodied to the outward eye the very truths that are learned within, until each stone seemed eloquent with praise, and each part of the building was endeared by some holy recollection to the simple unlettered rustic to whom it had been a source of instruction."
Let us now take a passage further on in the history illustrative of the same gradual social progress under Saxon rule
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"I described to you the appearance of the country when possessed by the Britons; it had now undergone a considerable change. You will remember that formerly those who had flocks and herds were in the habit of travelling over the waste lands, seeking pasture for them, and settling wherever the ground was unoccupied. Such flocks were the wealth of the earlier princes of the country"-- (the Squattocracy, as we should call them) "The herds of Caractacus contained twenty-one thousand milch cows, besides other cattle." (He must have had an amazingly large run, --without a license). "But in the time of the Union, the different kings and princes had given so many grants of land to the Church, to warriors, and to others who had done service to the State, that now England was, in a great measure, divided into estates the boundaries of which were settled; while those who held these lands took rank according to the size and value of their possessions. Large uncouth towers built more for defence than accommodation, heavy, gloomy, and comfortless, were the abodes most suited to a people who might at any moment be attacked, and put to peril of life and property. Yet, in spite of his cheerless home, a thane lived in comparative luxury, and a chapel, a kitchen, a hall, and a bell, were among the essentials of his establishment; nor could any one claim the rank of thane who, in addition to such a dwelling, had not five hundred acres, at the least, and the broad lands of many of the great proprietors stretched through half a county. In dress too, the higher ranks were become very sumptuous, of which the following description of a lady of those days is an example:-- 'She wore,' it is said, 'an undervest of fine linen, of a violet colour, and over it a scarlet tunic, with full skirts, and with wide sleeves and hood, both striped or faced with silk. The hair was curled with irons over the forehead and temples, ornaments of gold, in the form of crescents, encircled the neck, bracelets were worn on the arms, and rings, with precious stones, on the fingers, the nails of which were pared to a point, to resemble the talons of
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a falcon.' Of the men the same writer adds, 'That their dress was not unlike that of the female, only they wore the tunic shorter, and bound to the leg with fillets of various colours. Both sexes, on occasions of ceremony, wore mantles of blue cloth, with facings of crimson silk, ornamented with stripes or vermicular figures. The shoes of the women were of red leather, and stibium was employed to paint the face.'"
I will quote one other passage for the sake of its concluding words. --
"I have said enough in the way of description to enable you to picture to yourselves, in a degree, the state of England. The country was now fast recovering from the effects of those dreadful ravages which preceded the reign of Alfred, and indeed filled up much of the earlier part of it; here and there, at no very remote intervals, were to be seen well wooded demesnes and churches; some of wood and some of stone, were beginning again to peep out from amongst the trees, in the neighbourhood where the demesnes were situated. Earls and thanes rode about with bands of armed attendants, and heavy stone erections, more like keeps than habitable residences, crowned the hills near the churches, or in numerous instances, were built close beside them, perhaps within the walls of an old Roman fortification, or in some other strong natural position. Wood and water were essential features in the choice of a home then, when land carriage was difficult, or almost impossible, on account of the state of the roads; and the necessity must have added beauty of appearance to a house of this period, where the heavy cold wall of which it was constructed almost forbade the idea. I should have call the roads rather tracks than thoroughfares; such as had been left by the Romans were noble monuments of their civilization, and they formed the main intersections of the country from north to south, but such as communicated with these were very bad indeed for long after the period of which we are treating. The great Roman road or
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fossway, may still be seen in parts of Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, and elsewhere; it will easily be known by its straightness, and its being raised in the middle, and flanked on either side with deep ditches or drains. It is astonishing that, fond as our ancestors were of imitating the Romans, they did not follow their example in this respect, and so increase the means of communication through the country generally," (pp. 28, 38, 43, 162, 171, 283).
And now, I dare say, you have long been wondering when I shall bring my lecture to a close. You will understand a paradox which expresses the mere truth, that I really have not had time to write a shorter one, i.e., to reduce my hasty compilations to a more systematic and compact form. I regret, for my own sake as well as yours, that I have failed to do so: for I have only reached that point in my intended treatise which brings me to the most interesting, and as I conceive, by far the most important branch of it. I mean that relative to the social contrasts of New Zealand and Great Britain, as regards the character of its population. You are aware that the English nation was peopled by two distinct and very different races of the great European family, the Celtic and Teutonic. --which latter includes both the Normans and the Saxons; for the Normans, though so different in language and in what we call tastes, yet really are only another tribe of the Scandinavian or Gothic race. But the Celtics are widely different indeed both in physical temperament and in moral habits. And my intention was to show how the intermixture and gradual blending of these characteristic elements in the present English people had contributed, under Providence, to the formation of our national institutions, and our civilization. I wished more particularly to call attention to the instructive fact, -- which, if well grounded, is fertile in practical consequences to the social prospects of this colony, that the staple of - our population is almost exclusively
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drawn from one element of the three which form the basis of the British nation. That one element is the Saxon, --as distinguished from the Celtic, --and from the Norman, --the other branch of the Teutonic. Such of you as have made yourselves masters of the merest smattering in Ethnology, will perceive the significance of this fact. Descriptions of the intellectual and moral character of the Celtic variety commonly contain some such disparaging imputations as that they have "little disposition for hard work, are bad seamen, and not fit for colonizing," I quote the very words of a popular treatise on the subject. The Saxons, on the other hand, are the very best of colonists: the same writer describes them as having, --
"Slowness, but accuracy of conception; general slowness, but depth and penetration of mind; not brilliant for witicism like the Celtic, but distinguished by acuteness, fondness of independence, self-government in all spheres of life, provident, cautious, reserved, hospitable, but not sociable on a large scale, with aristocratic, conservative tendencies, and fond of titles and social distinctions; respect for woman, without assuming the Celtic character of frivolous flippancy; their musical talent is great; they make skilful seamen; --adventurers; distinguished for cleanliness; fond of spirituous liquors." (Johnston's Physical Atlas of Natural Phenomena,)
Such, gentlemen, is the staple from which the population of this colony, putting out of the question its Maori element, has been and is likely to be drawn. It is for you in your several stations to take the hint, and for statesmen, if they are wise, in devising social institutions, to have regard both to the virtues and defects of our national character. One element of conservatism and refinement is wanting to our social state, --the Norman. It should be our endeavour to substitute for an aristocracy of birth, an aristocracy in the true, classical, Athenian meaning of the word; an aristocracy as distinguished from a timocracy, or aristocracy
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of wealth, and from an oligarchy of factious politicians; an aristocracy of Education, Sobriety, and Industry. In the words of an admirable modern writer, "O that statesmen would consider what a glorious privilege they enjoy, when they are allowed to become the fathers of a new nation! But this,' he continues, 'seems to be one of the things which God has reserved entirely to himself. It remains for us to pray that everyone who has the power to influence the future destinies of New Zealand, may be the intelligent and industrious promoter of his sacred purposes" (Guesses at Truth, by two Brothers, vol 1, p. 101, quoted in an Essay on 'Exceptional Laws in Favour of the Natives of New Zealand, By ----- M. A., of Trinity College, Cambridge, attributed to Mr. Montague Hawtrey)