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THROUGH CANTERBURY AND OTAGO WITH BISHOP HARPER IN 1859-60.
IN August, 1859, I arrived in Christchurch, having come at the request of Bishop Harper, from Auckland, where I was engaged in Maori Mission work, to undertake the charge of the Maoris in his diocese, which then included all the country to the south of Nelson and Marlborough. The Bishop, who was about to undertake a visitation of the Diocese, thought it would be for my advantage, if, before being ordained, I went with him as his travelling companion, in order that he might introduce me to the Maoris, wherever he met with them, as their future pastor. A Kaiapoi native named Solomon, wishing to help the Bishop to do this, volunteered to accompany us. Our equipment for the journey had to be of the lightest description for the sake of the horses, as it was necessary to take every precaution against their getting knocked up on the road, for there was very little chance of our being able to replace them if they did. A few changes of under linen and a waterproof cape comprised all the clothes that any of us could manage to take. These were carried in a leather valise fastened to the pommel of the saddle, and strapped behind it was a coil of thirty feet of strong cord and a head stall for the purpose of tethering the horses at night, or when resting by day, for they had to get their food as best they could, oats and hay being seldom procurable for them.
The Bishop rode a strong good looking animal of the English hunter type, which had been specially selected for him for its weight carrying capacity and reputation for steadiness while crossing rapid rivers. But it had two serious failings. One was that whenever it got loose anywhere it made off at once for the farm in Otago on which it was reared, and it was so cunning that it was seldom caught before it got there; and the other was that its fore legs would sometimes give way suddenly and cause it to pitch forward on its head to the great danger of its rider. But in every other respect it was well suited for its work. Our Maori friend was mounted on a strong wiry Australian stock horse--the very best sort to carry anyone through trackless country. I had the misfortune to bestride a most singular looking creature, which had been presented to me by the native chiefs of Kaiapoi, in response to Bishop Harper's appeal to them to help me to visit their villages oftener than I could possibly do, if obliged to go to them on foot. As I did not possess a horse of my own, or the money to buy one, I felt grateful to my Maori friends for their gift until I saw it and had ridden it, and then I wished it had never been given. It was the most ridiculous looking object, with a ewe neck, no mane, thick withers, with a hole at the top of them big enough to hold a tennis ball, a backbone that curved inwards, as if drawn downwards by the weight
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of its great stomach, haunches that slanted acutely from the croup, and a bushy coarse haired tail which it curled up like a dog over its back the moment anyone mounted it. Its only bearable pace was its walk. Its trot threatened to dislocate every joint of its rider's body; for its legs had no elasticity in them, and its gallop made one feel in danger of coming in two at the waist. Added to these discomforts was the mortifying knowledge that whoever bestrode the beast was an object of merriment to all beholders. The only compensation for what I suffered after becoming the possessor of this monstrous brute, was derived from the knowledge that in becoming mine he had escaped from a very cruel fate. He was originally purchased with tribal money, and that gave every native an equal right to use him whenever he pleased. The consequence was that for the first few weeks after he was bought the animal had no rest. As soon as one person got off his back another got on and rode at a break neck pace wherever he wanted to go. When the adults had done with him, then the children amused themselves galloping him about. The back and withers became covered with sores, caused by hard or broken saddles, and the legs stiff with inflammation. At this stage of its career some low born fellow failing to make it carry him as fast as he desired, was overheard cursing it roundly by its well known name, which happened to be that of a renowned ancestor of the tribe. This was reported to the Head Chief, who summoned a tribal meeting to consider what was to be done to the man who had dishonoured their great ancestor Tu-rakautahi, by cursing his namesake. The decision arrived at was that the man should be fined for using such language and that in future only persons of superior birth should be allowed to ride the horse. Public interest in him declined from that moment, and it was left to the few entitled to ride him to look after him. The consequence was that the poor beast had little to eat and less to drink. After being tethered in one place for days someone would remember that he wanted water, when he would be taken to the river and allowed to drink till he seemed about to burst. This had gone on so long before I got him that the stomach had become permanently distended, and crossing his back was like sitting astride of a puncheon suspended on four legs. Though I suffered much pain and discomfort from being obliged to ride this horse for so long a time, he proved so gentle in temper, so free from vice, so sure footed on the narrow hillside paths of Banks Peninsula, and so steady in the rushing rivers of the Plains, that I learnt to value old 'Bob' very highly, and felt quite a heartache when, after many years of service and companionship I was obliged to part with him.
We started from Bishopscourt early one afternoon, with Mr D. for our guide as far as Mr Fitzgerald's station at the "Springs," where we were to pass the night. It must seem rather absurd in these days when roads and railways cross and re-cross the country in all directions, to talk of requiring a guide to a place which is now almost a suburb of the city of Christchurch. But in 1859 there were no roads or tracks except in the immediate vicinity of the towns, and there was very little chance of anyone finding his way about for the first time without such assistance. We left the last trace of any sort of road behind us when we crossed the old Waimakariri river bed beyond Riccarton. From there onwards throughout the whole journey to and
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from the South we had to make our way as best we could from station to station. Till I began my long ride with Bishop Harper I thought myself a sufficiently experienced traveller in New Zealand to be able to find my way with safety and certainty to any place I wished to reach. But I soon discovered that the experience which I had gained in the North Island was of very little use to me in the altered conditions in which I found myself placed. In the North, however long the coast line might be, however dense the forest, or the fern-clad hills and dales, there was always some sort of landmark or fixed object to be found to indicate the direction in which the traveller ought to move. But where we were now going there was nothing of the kind to be seen. Looking southwards an apparently boundless plain stretched away from our feet as level as the sea of one uniform colour and one uniform covering of yellow tussock grass. There was nothing between us and the distant horizon to mark the direction in which we had to go, nothing to prevent our straying miles and miles out of our way to the right or to the left of the station we were bound for, or to prevent our missing it altogether. The relative position of the Port Hills to the eastward, and the snowy ranges to the westward, for a time afforded a vague clue to our position, but without a compass and a knowledge of the bearings from the starting point, or a guide, it would have been hopeless to attempt to find any house on the Plains, that was not in sight from the start, and I was not surpised to hear from my companions that it was not at all an uncommon thing for persons going across the Plains to find, after walking or riding all day long, that they were back at night to the very spot from which they set out in the morning. Having nothing to guide them they had described a circle. Several lives had been lost in this way. After days of aimless wandering, the unfortunate and bewildered travellers overcome by thirst and fatigue, had sunk down in the grass and died.
Under Mr. D's. guidance we reached our destination safely about sunset. As this was my first introduction to a "Pilgrim's" homestead on the Plains, I was particularly interested in everything connected with it, especially as the owner was one of the chief founders of the Canterbury settlement, a man of good family, distinguished ability, and great culture, who had embarked on this colonizing enterprise in a spirit of romantic enthusiasm inspired by the noble ambition of founding an ideal State, in which he said-
"Each man shall be a brother,
Who has joined our gallant crew;
We'll stand by one another
In the land we are going to."
The scarcity and expensiveness of building materials obliged everyone at the beginning of the Colony, to be content with a small house, and I found Mr Fitzgerald's no exception to the rule. But, though small in size, it possessed in common with every other Colonial homestead, a wonderful capacity for housing all who claimed its shelter. The practice of unbounded hospitality was universal at that period. The stranger was as sure of a kindly welcome as the friend, and, however full of guests the house might be, there was always room for more. When every bed was occupied there was always a shake down to be had, either on a sofa, or the table, or the hearthrug, or in some outhouse, and when there were no more blankets forthcoming, rugs, coats, or something else was found to cover the sleeper. Old colonists look
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back with fond regret to those days when "all men were brothers," and "stood by one another."
We missed the pleasure of seeing Mr and Mrs Fitzgerald, who were both away from home, but their absence did not prevent the hospitality for which their house was noted being extended to us by the manager left in charge, from whom we received a very cordial welcome. We soon discovered that there were other visitors in the house besides ourselves. Amongst them was a Mr H. B., lately returned from a tour through Palestine, Arabia, and Egypt, who gave a most interesting account of his travels. It was a pleasant surprise to meet under such circumstances an Eastern traveller who could satisfy one's curiosity respecting people and places, about which less was known at that time than in these days of the ubiquitous "globe-trotter." Before retiring to rest, the Bishop held a short service in the dining room, to which everybody on the premises was invited. Several of the station hands came to it, as it was a point of honour with them to support the Bishop by their presence at the one religious service held in their neighbourhood during the year. For the up-country population throughout the diocese regarded the Bishop as their special pastor, he being the only person who ministered to their spiritual wants, and his annual visit was greatly valued by them. Early as we were the next morning, we found that the manager and his assistants had already begun their day's work, and were away on the "run." But full instructions had been left with the servants to provide for our wants. After breakfast our horses were brought to the door, and as soon as our packs were securely fastened, we mounted and rode off in the direction of the Selwyn river, this time without a guide, as the Bishop trusted to the notes which he had compiled as he went along the same route the year before, for our guidance on this occasion.
According to the note book we had to steer our course from the Springs Station towards a particular snow-clad peak that rose a few inches above the distant south-western horizon. We had proceeded some miles at a walking pace through the tufty tussocks, when we came to a part where the grass was short and smooth, having been burnt off some time before; here the Bishop quickened his pace and started to canter. I followed as best I could. Suddenly the Bishop's horse fell forward and turned completely over on its back, pitching its rider with such violence to the ground that his beaver hat was driven quite over his face and on to his shoulders. As I saw horse and rider roll over together, I feared I was witnessing the tragic termination of our projected journey to the south. For a few moments both were perfectly still. The instant I reached them I dismounted and disengaged the Bishop's feet from the stirrups, but it was not till his hat was removed that I could believe his repeated assurance that he was uninjured. "Never mind me," he kept saying, "hold on to Dick," who by this time had struggled to his feet and was eyeing us both, as if at a loss to know what had happened, but the moment I moved my hand in the direction of the bridle, by a quick movement of his neck he withdrew it from my reach and trotted away. "Ah," sighed the Bishop, "he is off to Otago now." But, fortunately he did not go far before the grass tempted him to stop and graze. Just then "Solomon," who had lagged behind, came up and at once suggested that we should tether the other horses, thinking that Dick might
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then come back to them. Leaving him to do this, I went after "Dick," who allowed me to come quite close to him several times, but always moved away whenever I got within reach of his bridle, and always in a southerly direction. I was gradually getting further and further away from my companions, and I began to think that the Bishop's fears might after all be realised, and that his horse would succeed in escaping, when my attention was attracted by an innumerable number of dark objects, surmounted by a bristling array of what looked like short spears which came suddenly into view along the line of the horizon in front of me. What could they be? Were they spectres of ancient Maori warriors revisiting an old battlefield? A few minutes sufficed to solve the mystery. It was a large herd of cattle charging madly down upon me. It was useless to think of escaping. All one could do was to stand still and await eventualities. When the animals got within a hundred yards they stopped suddenly and ranged themselves in a semi-circle, which kept extending, as those behind driven by curiosity pushed to the front, till at last "Dick" and I were completely encircled. As the circle contracted and the staring eyes and tossing horns drew nearer and nearer I remembered that it was on this very run that a man had been gored to death by a bull only a short time before, and thought, perhaps, a similar fate was now in store for me. While these unpleasant forebodings were passing through my mind, I was relieved by the sight of a stockman approaching from the direction the cattle had come, and evidently in pursuit of them. Cracking his long whip as he came up, he forced his way into the circle, and dashing up to Dick, caught him and handed him over to me. He told me that the cattle had gathered round me because their curiosity was excited by seeing a man on foot, as they were always accustomed to see men on horseback, and that it was well for my safety he arrived when he did. On rejoining my companions with the runaway, we resumed our journey, and proceeded at a walking pace till we reached Mr H's station, where the Bishop stopped to baptize some children and to hold a service.
Going on from there the next day, we put up about noon at an accommodation house to feed our horses. Before reaching the place the Bishop gave me a hint to stay by the horses' feeding boxes as long as I could, as it was currently reported that in spite of the oats being of the best quality, animals fed in that stable never consumed what was purchased for them--a fact attributed to the application of tallow to the back of their teeth by the ostler. One look at the besotted face of the man who came forward to meet us was enough to show that he was a fellow capable of any sort of rascality. He was ostentatiously liberal in supplying food, but long before it was consumed, I was called away to join the Bishop in the dining-room, where blue bottles and blow flies were careering round and round and buzzing like bees on the closed and curtainless windows, through which the sun's rays were streaming and producing a stifling heat, which effectually deprived us of any appetite for the dish of fried mutton chops which the landlady had provided for us. On going back to the stable we found that our horses had not eaten their food, their want of appetite being attributed by the ostler to the heat, but though we suspected it was due to some trick of his own, we were obliged, in the absence of proof to accept his theory and pay the cheat.
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From the accommodation house we pursued our way towards the Rakaia ford, which we were advised to reach as quickly as possible, because the river was reported to be rising. I had heard so much, both from Europeans and Maoris, of the danger of crossing this river when its waters were swollen by the melting snow, that I felt a little nervous as the time approached for making the attempt. Nor were the instructions given to me calculated to allay my apprehensions. I was told that the safety of my life depended on my not looking at the water, as doing so produced giddiness, which was the cause of so many persons losing their lives by falling from their horses. I was to fix my eyes on some stationary object on the opposite bank, and to keep my horse's head well up stream and allow him to sidle across, for if he got broadside on to the current he would be swept off his feet and carried away, and I was on no account to move in my saddle, even when the water swept over it. Before entering the river, the Bishop took a final look at his note book, and reported the crossing to be safe, as the stones were still visible at the depth of a foot below the surface. When we reached the middle of the stream, which was about one hundred yards wide, and I felt the icy water lapping my thighs, and the horse quivering under me with his efforts to breast the strong current which threatened to carry us down the rapid, at the edge of which we were moving, I fully realised the perilousness of our position. "Dick," with his tail floating behind him, was bravely leading the way, but so slowly that it seemed as if we were all planted in the river, and never likely to get out of it. When we did so at last, it was only to find that we had still several other streams of the same kind to cross before we finally emerged from the river-bed. The last was the deepest and most dangerous, but the one we crossed with the least apprehension, as we found the Government guide there waiting on the bank to pilot us over. After a short rough ride through scrub and sandhills we came in sight of a low, thatched roofed building standing in the open plain, without a tree or shrub or any green thing to relieve the dreariness of its surroundings, and this proved to be the home of a cultured English gentleman, who like many of his class had found in the pastoral occupations of a squatter in the wilds of New Zealand congenial employment for all his energies. On reaching the house the loud barking of half-a-dozen sheep dogs chained near the door brought out the owner, who, in the kindest and most hospitable manner, offered us a share of his scanty accommodation, an offer which his young wife in generous self-forgetfulness of the extra work it would entail upon her, supported with equal warmth and cordiality. But not content with the Bishop's acceptance of their hospitality for one night, they persuaded him to stay over Sunday, promising to do everything in their power to facilitate his meeting the settlers in their neighbourhood. In fulfilment of their promise, every man who could be spared was sent off the next day on horseback to give notice to the "stations" within a radius of fifteen miles that the Bishop of Christchurch would hold service and administer the sacraments on the following Sunday in the Rakaia Woolshed. Our host, with the assistance of a carpenter who happened to be engaged on the premises, set to work to get the building ready for the novel purpose for which it was about to be
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used. On Sunday morning, as the hour for Divine service drew near, people on horseback, and in carriages and vehicles of all descriptions began to assemble around the Woolshed, presenting a scene of animation and colour in strong contrast with the dull and lifeless appearance of the surrounding plain. Everyone seemed thoroughly to enjoy the rare opportunity of taking part in an act of public worship, and joined fervently in the service, which was throughout hearty and inspiriting.
At the close of it, the Bishop arranged with those who wished him to visit their stations the time when he would go to them for the purpose of holding services with their people and baptizing their children, and a good part of the following week was taken up fulfilling these engagements. It was pleasing to find the spirit of cheerfulness and hopefulness pervading every home we entered. Everybody seemed fascinated by the freedom and simplicity of the life they were leading. Sheep and their profitable management formed the invariable topic of conversation amongst men, and the Bishop with his usual tact and courtesy listened patiently to the oft repeated tale, and took his part in the endless discussions about the relative merits of merinoes and longwoolled sheep, and the relative advantages of shipping wool "scoured" or in the grease, as if those questions had been subjects of lifelong interest and study to him.
Twice, when going about from station to station, the monotonous sameness of the landscape was relieved by an unusual appearance in the aspect of things around us. On the first occasion a black streak suddenly appeared across the horizon, which widened as we advanced, till we found ourselves surrounded as far as the eye could reach in every direction by a black waste, the result of a fire which had swept over the country a few hours before. After riding for some time over the blackened surface, the desolate look of things became oppressive, and suggested our sudden transference to the plains of the moon, or some other planet, reduced to a cinder. Our other experience was of quite a different kind, and excited the most agreeable sensations. We were riding on a hot, calm morning in the direction of the Hinds, when we came in sight of the silvery waters of a wide stream flowing towards a lake, near the coast, to which the cabbage palms, growing along its margin, gave quite a tropical look. The river kept receding as we approached, and proved to be a mirage. We saw the same kind of appearances many times afterwards in different parts of the Plains, but the curious thing was that, whenever we reached the place where the mirage first became visible, it invariably proved to be an old watercourse of some sort, over which the ghost of the vanished stream seemed still to hover.
One of the pleasantest memories of my long ride with Bishop Harper is derived from the recollection of the kindly way in which he tried to beguile the weary hours spent during our journeyings, riding at a walking pace, by telling me anecdotes, of which he seemed to possess an inexhaustible store. The following relates to rather an amusing experience of his youthful days when leaving Winchester for Oxford. At the close of his examination for a University scholarship, he was summoned to the presence of the examiners. He was ushered into a room, where three or four venerable looking old gentlemen were seated round a table. After a short pause,
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one of them said: "Mr Harper, we have to congratulate you upon having passed a brilliant examination, but before we can award you the scholarship, it is necessary that we should hear you sing, as it is a condition imposed by the Founder that the examiners before electing a scholar must hear him 'sing.'" From the summit of hope he was in a moment hurled into the depths of despondency. He never could sing, had no voice, or ear, or any knowledge of music. He stood looking helplessly at the examiners, the picture of hopeless dejection. The old gentlemen waited as if to give him time to recover from his nervousness, and then their spokesman said: "We are not particular about what you sing, Mr Harper. Sing any song you know. Can't you think of anything? 'God Save the Queen?' A hymn then? What, not the 'Old Hundredth?'" Still no response. The old gentlemen began to look grave, and held a short consultation, then one who had not yet spoken said: "Mr Harper, we shall be very sorry to pass you over for what is a mere matter of form, but we must certify that we have heard you sing. Come now, just raise your voice, and repeat after me." Whereupon, the kind old fellow, in a very cracked voice, chanted the first two verses of the "Magnificat," which by a desperate effort he tried to imitate by giving utterance to the most discordant sounds, when to his great relief, he heard an approving chorus of voices saying: "That will do Mr Harper, we have much pleasure in awarding you the scholarship."
Speaking of the difficulties which ladies had to encounter in getting about Christchurch, he instanced the case of one lady who to get to a ball was obliged to be carried there on her husband's back, through water and mud for a quarter of a mile. Two other ladies came from the country in a large packing case half filled with straw, and carried on a bullock dray, from which they had to descend by a ladder. Another lady, when making a call on a neighbour in the Papanui Road, sank to her knees in a hole, and not being able to extricate herself was obliged to remain in that ridiculous position till a passer-by helped her out.
After our wanderings on the Plains, we reached one evening the bank of the Rangitata River, opposite Mt. Peel, and saw the station for which we were making about a mile away. The Bishop undertook to point out the ford where he crossed before, but he found much difficulty in doing so, owing to the thickets of tall prickly shrubs and grasses that lined the river bank, and through which we had to force our way. Ultimately, we discovered it by following the footmarks of a shod horse. The ford looked like a natural dam formed by rocks and boulders, through which the roaring water poured with tremendous velocity. I had never encountered anything like it before, and shrank from the risk of crossing such a place, for it was clear that anyone falling into the river there would certainly be drowned, as no human being could get foothold on the slippery boulders, and swimming was out of the question, owing to the intense coldness of the water and the rapidity of the current. The Bishop did not allow much time for deliberation. Satisfied after consulting his notes that he was at the right spot, he plunged into the river, but it was not at all re-assuring to a nervous man to watch his progress as he surmounted boulder after boulder, and floundered about between them, reminding one of the motion of a small
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yacht in a choppy sea, now bow in the air, now stern. Had I watched much longer all my courage would have oozed away, so I plunged in after him, and followed in his wake. The grunt of relief given by my horse on reaching the opposite bank shewed that he was as glad to get out of the river as his rider. The Bishop put spurs to his horse, and in a few minutes we were being welcomed by his daughter and her husband, and other members of the family who were staying with them. The varied beauty of the scenery in the neighbourhood of Mt. Peel formed a striking contrast to the featureless country we had lately passed through, and it was an agreeable change to find oneself wandering about the woods which clothed the mountain sides, or viewing from its slopes the snow-capped peaks of the surrounding ranges, and I was glad to hear that we were to stay a fortnight in such a charming place, made all the more attractive by the kindness of everyone around us. As I expressed an interest in his pursuits, my host undertook to initiate me into the working of a "sheep run," and took me to see the mustering of the flock, and the various operations carried on in the shearing shed, where a large number of men were employed under the direction of his factotum, "Abner," a tall, powerful half-caste, who seemed to be a great favourite with everybody. Among the men working in the shed was an Australian black, whose nick name, "Handy Andy," indicated his good natured character. My host said he found him invaluable, as he knew everything about station work, and had taught many of the English hands all they knew about splitting posts and rails, and the erection of fences, the yoking and driving of bullocks, and breaking in of horses, but it was as a tracker of strayed cattle that his peculiar skill was most noticeable. His keenness of sight was so great that he could do what to Europeans seemed impossible, in proof of which my host told the following-story:-- "A visitor arrived one day at the station bemoaning the loss of his pocket book containing a large sum of money. He had not the slightest idea where he had dropt it. All he knew was that it was in the breastpocket of his coat when he started to cross the grassy plain. 'Handy Andy' was called in, and told what had happened. 'All right,' he said, 'I find it. Let the gentleman show me where he crossed the river.' This was done, and 'Handy Andy' picked up his track on the other side, and was watched following it till he disappeared in the distance. Hours passed, and darkness set in. No one ever dreamed that the pocket-book would be found, for horses left no footmarks on the stony plain, and the violent north-west wind, which had blown all day, must have obliterated every trace of the rider's passage through the tussock grass. Just before going to bed a knock was heard at the door, where 'Handy Andy' appeared with the lost pocket-book which he had found many miles away." Several of the men employed on the station came from the Ancestral Estate in England of my host's partner. One of them was pointed out, who narrowly escaped losing his affianced bride through a rather amusing misunderstanding. On the voyage out to New Zealand, the young woman captivated the heart of one of her fellow passengers, who tried hard to induce her to break faith with the man to whom she was engaged, but without success till she reached Lyttelton, when to her dismay she was
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told that he lived in the midst of "Spaniards" and "Wild Irishmen," who drew blood from someone every day. The poor girl pictured to herself a community of cut-throats and ruffians, and felt convinced that her affianced husband must have sadly degenerated and become utterly unworthy of her affection, seeing the kind of people he was now willing to consort with. When he arrived with a bullock dray to take her up to Mount Peel, full of joyful anticipation of a happy meeting, she positively refused to go with him, and there and then broke off her engagement. The young man pleaded hard for some explanation of her strange behaviour, and at last drew from her an indignant remonstrance at his audacity in asking a respectable English girl to go and live amongst a lawless community of Spaniards and Irishmen. It did not take many minutes to convince her that she was the victim of a hoax, perpetrated by a designing person, who had made her believe that the prickly plants, known as Spaniards and Irishmen, which grew about Mount Peel, were human beings.
The Bishop had the pleasure of baptizing his first grandson shortly after our arrival at Mount Peel Station, where he held service and administered Holy Communion on Sunday. To the surprise of everyone, very few of the station hands attended the morning service. On being asked the reason, "Abner" said they felt shy of coming to the house, so it was arranged that evensong should be said in the "men's hut," which was crammed with a devout and attentive congregation.
When leaving Mount Peel the Bishop was asked by his son-in-law to call at one of his out-stations and baptize the children of his chief shepherd. On reaching the house I dismounted and knocked at the front door several times, but no notice being taken, though I could hear the sound of voices inside, I went round to the back, where I found the shepherd's wife,--with her sleeves tucked up, kneeling over a large tub, in which she was washing three children covered with soap suds. She apologized for keeping us waiting, as she had not expected us quite so early. I went back to explain the state of things, and we waited till we were called into the house, where the three chubby-faced little ones, with polished rosy cheeks, and a look of wondering expectation on their faces, were waiting for they knew not what. The poor mother, who was evidently awed by the Bishop's presence, got so confused that she repeated everything after him, and kept picking up the children and presenting them to him at the wrong time. She seemed so upset by the whole proceeding that it must have been a relief to her when the last entry was made in the Baptismal register, and we took our departure.
Leaving the mountain ranges behind us, we proceeded towards the coast through thick groves of cabbage palms till we reached the house of an old Peninsula officer, who had many interesting stories to tell of his military experiences in Spain, where he had a narrow escape from being buried alive. He was picked up after the last battle he ever fought in, and put with a heap of dead bodies ready to be placed in a trench, which was being dug to receive them, when a surgeon passing by espied his uniform, and ordered his body to be put aside for burial with those of other officers who had fallen. While this was being done the surgeon noticed some signs of life, and sent him to a field hospital, where his wounds were dressed. For weeks his
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life was despaired of, but he rallied sufficiently to be sent to England, where for years he suffered from a racking cough. One day, after a more violent paroxysm than usual, he coughed up some small pieces of cloth and a button, and from that moment he got rapidly better, and in time quite recovered his health. He married and emigrated to Australia, and finally settled near his married daughters in Canterbury, where he lived to the age of eighty-four.
We spent the night at the Orari Station, where a service was held with the family and station hands.
The next day we went on to a place which was called "Eliphanor" by Europeans, being their rendering of the Maori name "Horowhenua." On getting there, we rode up to a cluster of sawyers' huts near the forest, where a number of English women were standing watching our approach. The Bishop asked whether they had any unbaptized children. "No fresh born ones," said one woman, "but I should like mine done over again. I don't like the name the parson Alabastar gave him. He was born on ship board, and the captain told me I must call him after the ship, and so he got baptized Strath Allan, but I don't like it and never did, and please sir, won't you do him over again for me?" The Bishop explained why it was impossible for him to comply with her wishes, and suggested that she should shorten the name, and call her boy, Allan. We left her discussing the question with her neighbours, and went on to the station, where we were invited to spend the night. No service was held there, as the Bishop was told that the men were too busy with the shearing to attend. At the same time he was informed that, if a service could be held on the following Sunday afternoon, he might count upon having a congregation large enough to fill the woolshed.
The Bishop himself could not stay for such a service, as he had promised to be at the new church at Timaru on Sunday, but he arranged for me to do so, and gave notice accordingly. When the time came for it quite as many people attended as we were led to expect; but to my surprise no one responded while I was reading the Evening Prayer, no one moved or uttered a sound--all sat looking at me the whole time with a fixed stare, as if I were some sort of a conjurer, and they were watching my tricks. The depressing effect of ministering to such an unsympathetic congregation was somewhat relieved by seeing what an attentive and interested listener I had in the manager of the station during my sermon, which was on the healing of Naaman, but whatever feeling of satisfaction I experienced while preaching was destroyed when he said to me on getting back to his house, "I could not help thinking all the time you were preaching of the hard tussle I had with my old merino ram at the last sheep washing. He had just the same objection to being dipped in the river and made clean as Naaman had."
The Maori village of Horowhenua was close to the "station," and before going away, the Bishop took me to see the chief, Tame Tarawhata, who became my faithful friend from that day forward. Our travelling companion, Solomon, had prepared him for the interview, which proved most satisfactory. When I expressed regret that his village was without a house set apart for the worship of God, he at once offered to give a site and provide building materials for a church if I would find the money and the skilled labour required to erect it, which I
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agreed to do. In addition, he offered to vacate his large house, and allow it to be used as a temporary church until one was built. When I came to the opening of the new church a year afterwards, I held many services in it, but the one I retain the most vivid recollection of was the marriage of Simon and Margaret. They were a plain, middle aged couple without any standing in the tribe, but, as their marriage was the first that had ever taken place in that part of the country in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, it excited the greatest public interest. Everyone followed them to the church, which was crowded to suffocation. The bride and bridegroom were pressed so closely against the communion rails by the crowd in their eagerness to see what they were doing that they could not kneel down. When I got to that part of the service where the man has to say that he takes the woman for his wedded wife, I bent forward and said to the man, "Repeat after me, I Simon." He made no response. I tried again, "I Simon." Still no response. Then the lay reader, who was standing beside me, interposed, and explained that it was necessary to repeat the words after the clergyman. To my surprise when I began once more, "I Simon," not only the bridegroom, but the whole congregation joined in the repetition of the words. I put up my hand and signalled to the people to desist, but they either did not see my hand or misunderstood my signal, and continued to repeat like a chorus till the building rang again with the words, "to have and to hold," "from this day forward," "for better for worse," "till death us do part." The whole scene was most ludicrous, but fortunately no one present except myself seemed to see it in any but the most serious light. The novelty of the ceremony prevented anyone realizing the absurdity of a whole congregation, composed of men, women and children, saying that they took Margaret to be their wedded wife.
Among the Maoris who came to see me during my first visit to Horowhenua was one with such a comical expression of face that I could not help asking for information about him. I was told that he was a man, whose name, Rangitawini, was now a synonym for practical joker throughout the South Island of New Zealand. He began his career by persuading his neighbours that the Elixir of life had been revealed to him in a dream, and that those who drank of it would live for ever. He only administered it to those who were willing to submit to the most ridiculous ceremonial observances which he imposed upon them. The nauseousness and offensiveness of the Elixir did not awaken any suspicion in the minds of his credulous dupes till death claimed one and another of their number, when they discovered that they were the victims of deception, but, before that discovery was made, he succeeded in making a laughing stock of some of the gravest and most venerable members of the tribe, who were greatly in want of firearms to protect themselves from their northern enemies. He persuaded them to erect a building sixty feet long, and to hang all round the walls imitations of muskets, with "korari" sticks for barrels, and then to close the building for six months, at the end of which time he promised they would find the "korari" sticks changed into steel gun barrels, and quite an armoury of muskets ready for their use; but, before the building was opened, he disappeared, and no
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one knew for a long time where he went to, until the following report of his doings reached them:-- "A native chief living near the sea on the coast of the Foveaux Straits was awakened one night by strange sounds, which seemed to proceed from something close to him. At first, he could see nothing, as the light from the few embers still glowing on the hearth in the middle of the clay floor was very dim, but, when his eyes grew accustomed to it, he was startled by the sight of a strange-looking object seated close to him, looking like an animated mass of kelp and sea-weeds. He awoke the rest of his family, who were all quite as much alarmed as he was by what they saw. Someone proposed to procure more light, but the marine monster gave utterance to such unearthly yells whenever the subject of more light was alluded to, that the idea was abandoned, and the chief and his family sat watching what they thought to be a sea-god, until he took his departure. The visits were repeated night after night about the same hour, till the chief lost all patience, and determined to capture the monster. He seized him one night round the waist, and, in spite of the god's piercing shrieks, tore away the kelp covering from his face, and called on his family to see if any of them could identify him. A shout of laughter announced the discovery of a mortal, and that mortal, the veteran joker, Rangitawini." Having finished my business with the Maoris, I joined the Bishop at Timaru, where he was staying under the hospitable roof of Capt. W., who proved to be one of the kindest and best of men. He was Resident Magistrate, and held a multiplicity of government offices besides. He was not only the chief official of the State, but the only church official in the district, where he officiated as a licensed lay reader. He was a remarkably industrious man, and his practical knowledge of mechanical arts surprised everyone who knew that the best part of his life had been spent on board a man-of-war. He could not only plan a building, but put it up with his own hands, as we found him doing the house, in the completed part of which he entertained us. Brick making, bricklaying, blacksmith's work all seemed just as familiar to him as carpentering, and he was equally proficient in gardening and farming. He took me one morning to his miniature Courthouse where I witnessed rather an amusing scene. The building, which was a small wooden hut about ten feet square, contained a table and two chairs--the Resident Magistrate seated himself in one, and offered me the other. Opening the plaint-book which was lying before him on the table, he declared the court open. There was a sudden rush through the doorway, and the room was crammed with men. The first cases disposed of were those of persons guilty of minor offences, then came one of a more serious kind, in which the prisoner was charged with a criminal offence. To my surprise, the accused was an inoffensive looking man, who from the opening of the Court had stood nearest to the Bench. Each time a witness was called during the progress of the trial there was much pushing and talking before he could get near enough to the table, and while the evidence was being taken down, the roar of the surf on the ocean beach a few yards away, and the talking of persons outside the Court, and the whispering of those within made such a distracting noise that the big policeman was obliged to shout repeatedly: "Silence in the Court!" As the trial progressed the
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air became so foetid, that in the interests of all present, the Magistrate adjourned the Court, lit his pipe, and smoked in solemn state till he thought that we were all sufficiently fumigated, when he resumed proceedings. After sentence was pronounced, and while the order for committal to gaol was being made out, the prisoner had to be rebuked more than once for shaking the table, as he bent over it while trying to read what the Magistrate was writing down against him. It was evident from what I saw that the the comic element, which pervaded and rendered bearable so much of our colonial life in the early days, was not altogether absent from the solemn Courts of Justice.
A report got abroad while we were in Timaru that a wealthy squatter had come over from Australia for the purpose of buying a large quantity of Government land, and we found the owner of the station at which we stopped for the night after leaving the town in a great state of alarm because a strange man had been seen walking about his 'run' carrying a spade, with which it was suspected that he was testing the quality of the soil. The runholder's fears proved to be too well-founded, for in a few days his preemptive right was challenged, and not having money enough to acquire the freehold himself, ten thousand acres of the best of his land was sold by the Government to the stranger. This was the beginning of the struggle for the possession of the land on which the pioneer settlers depastured their flocks, which ended so disastrously for most of them. Some lost their "runs' at once by being bought out; some lost them piecemeal; some lost them after paying high interest for years on the money they borrowed to purchase them with. Only a few of the founders of the colony were destined to reap all the fruits of their high spirited enterprise.
On our way to the next station we rode across a broad tract of fertile land covered with a dwarf species of "tutu" loaded with ripe fruit. On my remarking to the Bishop that I felt tempted to dismount and procure some of the luscious juice contained in the berries, he expressed the greatest astonishment, because he had always been told that the berries were deadly poison, and that many persons had lost their lives from eating them, and that every year numbers of sheep and cattle died all over the country from the effects of browsing upon the young shoots of the plant. I explained to him the process by which the North Island Maoris prevented the poisonous properties contained in the fruit stalks from getting into the juice, which properly prepared was a wholesome beverage. I said so much in praise of its beautiful colour and delicious taste and exquisite fragrance that, on reaching the "station," he repeated what I had told him to the lady of the house, who was quite delighted to hear that someone had at last appeared who would appreciate what her nephews persisted in calling her "poisonous wine," but of which unknown to themselves they were constantly partaking in her cookeries. She at once produced a bottle and some wine glasses, and my report being favourable, the Bishop ventured to taste the wine too. Fortunately, neither of us did more than taste it. I was seated at the time on a high form without back or arm-rests, and beside me sat a chatty old gentleman, who was trying to make the best of the opportunity he rarely now got of having a listener from outside his home circle. A few seconds after swallowing the wine I lost
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all sense of feeling in my extremities, and felt as if I could not much longer retain my seat on the bench, and must fall forward on my face. I could hear the old gentleman talking volubly, but could not follow what he was saying. A mist shrouded everything in the room. As the thought flashed through my mind that I was poisoned, I felt the keenest compunction for having misled the Bishop by my assurances regarding the harmlessness of tutu juice, and for having perhaps endangered his life. Would it not be better to call out for an emetic before I lost consciousness, but what a ridiculous ending that would be to my praise of tutu wine? While I was making up my mind what to do, a tingling sensation in my extremities, and the vanishing of the mist from the room convinced me that the danger was all over. And with a sense of relief I turned to answer some question put to me by the old gentleman at my side. At the same time I looked anxiously at the Bishop, who was leaning back in his chair with a very serious expression on his face. Presently, he looked up and remarked: "How very strong it is!" The subject of tutu wine was not referred to again by either of us till we were out of the house, when we compared notes about our sensations after tasting it, and we both agreed that it was not a beverage we could recommend for general use.
At Waimate, we visited a picturesque Maori village, consisting of five and twenty or thirty huts built along the edge of a totara forest. The sight of so many noble trees was most refreshing to eyes wearied with the monotony of the green covered plains. The Maoris gave us a very warm welcome, and were so gratified to hear from the Bishop that they were to have a clergyman of their own, that they promised to build a weatherboard church, and to have it ready for use within the year, a promise which they faithfully fulfilled.
On reaching the River Waitangi, which was the boundary between the northern and southern portions of his diocese, the Bishop was told that his visits to the people of Otago would be more welcome if they were made after the New Year, so he decided not to go any further, but to return to Christchurch, and complete his visitation of that part of the diocese later on.
At the beginning of our journey south, I had felt rather amused by the extraordinary interest which everyone took in the state of the last river we had crossed. No one every passed us anywhere without putting the question, "How's the river?" But I had not proceeded far before I felt the same nervous anxiety about every river we approached, for one experience of fording a large river was quite sufficient to make any person dread a repetition of it. To hear that the river was rising filled one with serious apprehensions for the safety of one's life; better far to hear that the river was in "flood," for then no one would feel obliged to cross it; but best of all when the reply came, "Very low," for that meant perfect safety while crossing. In after years I never went over a bridge without feeling grateful to those who built it, and made the river crossing easy and safe.
Nothing of particular interest happened on the return journey until the day we left Mt. Peel for the Ashburton Station. We felt the heat while riding on the stony plain most oppressive. A hot north-west wind was blowing at the time, and the sun blazing down from a cloudless sky. The snowy ranges, twenty miles away, looked so
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close that the rocks and grass upon their slopes were as clearly outlined as if seen through a telescope. Early in the afternoon, a small but very dark cloud appeared above the southern horizon, and rose so rapidly that in less than thirty minutes it covered half the sky, and cast a shade of gloom over the landscape. The scud was flying over our heads in the opposite direction to that from which the hot wind was coming, which still swept past us in "eddying gusts." Suddenly, with the violence of a whirlwind, the south-west gale burst upon us, enveloping us in a blinding cloud of dust, dry grass and twigs, which it had gathered up as it rushed along the plain. Instantly, the temperature fell many degrees, and we had just time to put on our capes before the rain came down in torrents, followed by a violent hailstorm. The horses became quite restive while the hail pelted them, and stood with their tails to the storm and their backs hunched up, and their heads down, and refused to move. In a few minutes the driving rain had penetrated our head-gear, and was trickling down our backs and under our clothes, and our riding boots became so full of water that it squirted out of the seams whenever our feet moved. Every landmark that could guide us was now hidden from view, and we were soon hopelessly astray. There was no likelihood of the storm abating for twenty-four hours, and the prospect of being out all night in such weather without food or shelter was very disconcerting. The Bishop remembered hearing that there was a shepherd's shelter somewhere about where we were, and several times we thought we had found it, but what loomed through the storm like a hut proved on reaching it to be a cabbage tree or manuka bush. After wandering for miles and miles, we began to hear the surf on the ocean beach quite distinctly. This was a warning not to keep on in the direction we were going, as the horses might get bogged in the swamps along the coast. While endeavouring to get away from the neighbourhood, we fortunately found one of the three creeks which flowed between the Hinds and the Ashburton, and by following it up we came to the crossing place, and from there the track to the Ashburton ford was well defined. We reached the southern bank of the river at dusk, and could just discern on the opposite side the cabbage tree and flax bushes which the Bishop's notebook indicated as marking the ford. When we last crossed the Ashburton there was far more gravel than water in its channel, but now no gravel could be seen, only one wide stretch from bank to bank of muddy water rushing along and carrying on its surface tufts of grass and bushes and trees. Our horses were so unwilling to enter the water that we feared it was deeper than it proved to be. By a judicious application of his spurs the Bishop got his horse to plunge in, and mine followed, but so clumsily that I was nearly jerked out of the saddle. The water was up to our knees, and in one or two places the horses were off their feet for a few yards, but we got over without any misadventure, and landed where the bank was low and afforded an easy exit from the water. It was with feelings of great satisfaction that we espied the station light about a mile away. After a tedious circuit to avoid ditches and fences we reached the house. On this occasion, we were not received as we usually were by a concert of barking dogs, as they were all sheltering themselves in their kennels from the pouring rain. I was so
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stiff and cold I could hardly dismount to knock at the door, which was opened by the master of the house himself, who was quite taken aback on seeing the plight we were in, for he thought of the demand we should have to make on his limited wardrobe of dry clothes. He took us first to the fire, on which he piled more wood, and then disappeared into his bedroom. After a while he opened the door and called me in, and, pointing to a lot of clothes lying on the bed, he said: "I say, what am I to do? I have no black clothes to offer the Bishop. I suppose he must wear breeches, eh? But I don't like to offer him these yellow cords, and I have no gaiters, only some worsted stockings. This blue jumper will, I think, be better than either of those tweed shooting coats." I assured our friend that he would find the Bishop a very easy man to please, and that he would be quite satisfied with anything in the shape of dry clothes. A selection from the garments having been made, the Bishop was called in, and a few minutes afterwards he emerged from the bedroom, laughing heartily at the strange figure he cut. His celluloid collar was the only vestige of clerical garb that remained to him. His feet were thrust into a huge pair of yellow lamb skin slippers; his neat nether garments had been exchanged for yellow cord riding breeches and gray worsted stockings. A white waistcoat had taken the place of his bishop's apron, and a blue flannel jumper his episcopal frockcoat. His appearance caused us so much merriment during our meal that it was felt desirable before the men were called in to prayers that we should conceal as much as possible of his person. A dark carriage rug was thrown over his knees, and the corner pinned under his cravat to give him a more clerical appearance, and only one candle was placed on the table beside him; but there was really no danger after the service had once begun of any person's attention being distracted by the Bishop's unclerical appearance. His reverent manner while conducting the service, and the earnest fatherly counsel contained in his address rivetted the attention of all present, and the behaviour of his audience could not have been more devout if he had been arrayed in full episcopal attire.
After a night's rest we found ourselves none the worse for our wetting, and as soon as the weather permitted we moved on, and in a few days without encountering any further adventures we arrived at Bishopscourt.
Through Otago I had suffered so much discomfort from riding my rough steed that I was very glad to hear a few days after our return that it was the Bishop's intention, owing to his horse having escaped from the stable and gone off to Otago, to go there by water instead of going overland, and to take me with him. We did not start till the middle of January.
On reaching Dunedin, we were hospitably entertained by the Rev. Mr E----- and his charming young wife, with whom we spent several pleasant weeks. The church population of the city, though not numerous, was most united, and all vied with each other in trying to make the Bishop's visit agreeable to him. A feeling of elation seemed to possess all church people at the restoration of their full privileges, for many of them had been deprived of the ministrations of their own clergy during the first years of their residence, in what was meant by its founders to be an exclusively Presbyterian settlement. During that period whenever churchmen required the
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services of a clergyman, they had to invoke the good offices of such ministers of religion as were willing to use the Book of Common Prayer. One of our friends told us that, after putting off his marriage for several months in the hope that an English clergyman would appear, he was obliged to ask a Wesleyan minister, who resided a day's journey from Dunedin, to marry him. When the wedding day was fixed, a messenger was sent to inform the minister of the day and hour when he would be expected. At the appointed time the bridal party assembled and awaited his arrival. Hour after hour passed, but he never came. As evening approached, the Presbyterian minister was called in to perform the marriage, but the service was so short our friend said he did not feel that he was married till he had taken his bride's hand, and repeated the words of the English service and placed the ring on her finger. The non-appearance of the minister was due to the fact that the messenger sent to summon him got tipsy on the way with the money given to him for delivering the letter, which never reached its destination.
After leaving Dunedin, our first stopping place was at Waihola Park, the residence of an Irish gentleman, who treated us with the characteristic hospitality of his race. In the course of conversation he told us that the only thing for which he regretted having left Ireland and taken up his residence in New Zealand was the difficulty of procuring and retaining female domestics in a country where bachelor settlers were so much in want of wives. "After several vain endeavours," he said, "to provide my wife with the female assistance she required to secure the comfort of our household, I wrote to my brother in Ireland, and prayed him to search for the ugliest woman he could find in the County. In due time he executed the commission, and wrote to tell me of his success. We awaited Hebe's arrival with much curiosity. When she did come, we pronounced my brother's judgment, as to her appearance, perfect. She would have passed for Caliban's own sister, and we fondly hoped no mortal man would dream of making love to her. We were quickly undeceived. She had not been with us six weeks before a strapping young fellow came hanging about the place of an evening. It was no use scowling at him and showing how unwelcome his presence was to us. Ugliness evidently fascinated him, and we lost our domestic. After that experience we gave up all hope of getting female help in the house, and my wife struggles along as best she can."
While staying with this gentleman, the Bishop held a service one Sunday morning, which was attended by all the Church people in the neighbourhood. Amongst the congregation was a fine looking man with a broad open face, full of simplicity and good nature. He was originally a sailor, but, through being appointed ferryman on a river which intersected a main highway, he developed into an hotelkeeper; but the simple-hearted fellow was unable to cope with the rough characters who sometimes frequented his house in large parties for the purpose of spending in liquor the money they had earned on the sheep stations. Complaints about the disorderly behaviour of these people in the hotel were made to the Magistrates by the police, who summoned him to appear before them in Dunedin. On his way to the Courthouse, he called at the parsonage to ask Mr E-----, who had often stayed at his hotel, to go with
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him, and say something on his behalf to the Magistrates. The clergyman was out when he called, and, while waiting for him, he unburdened his mind to Mrs E----- as follows:-- "What have they got to complain about I cannot tell. I cannot stop people being obstreperous, if they will, when they come in from the country to amuse themselves. Now, there is not a bedrom in the house in which I have not put a tooth-brush and a Bible. And what can they want more?"
From Waihola we rode to Tokomairo, where we were the guests of Mr D-----, an energetic and devoted churchman, who, with the help of his English neighbours, had built a small church, which the Bishop consecrated. While staying with him, I was engaged one afternoon in my bedroom sharpening my razors, when a gentleman who was sharing the room with me came and sat down beside me. Presently, he took up one of the razors, and, passing the blade across the palm of his hand, asked abruptly: "Were you ever mad?" "Oh no!" I replied, "never." "I was for years," he said. "I came here from the Dunedin Asylum. Oh! it's a glorious sensation to be mad. I was very violent, and they had to chain me up to a post. I used to fancy that I was the Almighty holding up the Universe by that chain. I was enveloped by clouds of glory, and angels came and went, doing my bidding." He was growing more and more excited as he proceeded with his account, when the cadet entered the room, who at once stepped up to Mr X----- and said: "What are you doing with that razor? Put it down," at the same time giving me a sign to take it from him, which I did pretty quickly. After Mr X----- left the room, the cadet told me that it was fortunate he appeared on the scene when he did, as the gentleman was subjected to sudden fits of insanity, and had we been much longer together alone, he might have done me some bodily injury.
I was indebted to our kind host for the loan of a horse for the journey to Southland and back, while the Bishop rode his own horse, which he found awaiting him on his arrival in Otago.
On reaching the Molyneux, it was a relief to find that we were to be ferried across the river, and not to have a repetition of our Canterbury river crossing experiences. As we rode through the park-like scenery surrounding the settlers' homes at Inchclutha, we greatly admired the native forest trees, which the good taste of the settlers had preserved, the beauty of which was very much enhanced by the cultivation of the ground around them. As there were several English families in the neighbourhood, the Bishop stayed over the Sunday amongst them. We found the travelling about the hills of Otago much less monotonous than journeying about the Canterbury Plains, and the tracks, as a rule, were much better defined, though, when we did miss our way, it was far more difficult to regain it, as short cuts were out of the question, owing to the prevalence of swampy ground in all the hollows, which, unlike the swamps in Canterbury, were too deep to trust our horses upon.
While proceeding southwards, we stopped for a night at an out of-the-way station, where from the smallness of the house we hardly expected to find accommodation, but we were assured by the hospitable owner that his family would be in no way inconvenienced by our staying, that indeed the Bishop's presence would be specially welcomed by them, After disposing of our horses, we were ushered
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into a large room, which seemed to comprise the whole area of the building, but a door at one end, and a curtain at the other suggested the existence of other apartments beyond. Presently, the door opened, and five young ladies, preceded by their mother, came forward to greet the Bishop. While we were occupied conversing with some of the members of the family, arrangements were being made by others of them for our accommodation, and when completed we were shewn into a small apartment behind the curtain at the end of the room, fitted up with bunks all round like a ship's cabin. Having partaken of refreshment, of which we stood in much need after riding forty miles through the keen air of the hills, we were kept busily engaged up to a late hour answering questions about what was going on in the outer world, news of which only reached our questioners at long intervals, owing to the isolated position of their homestead. When the time came for us to retire, we bid everyone good-night, and disappeared behind the curtain, wondering very much how those members of the family, whose bunks we were going to occupy, would dispose of themselves for the night. The constant movement of footsteps, and the whispering that went on long after our light was extinguished made me think that they meant to camp down in front of the fire in the large room, but that, as it proved, was never their intention. While I was still awake the curtain parted, and a head appeared bent forward in a listening attitude as if someone wanted to find out whether we were asleep. Whoever it was evidently thought that we were, for immediately afterwards one of the young ladies lifted the curtain and got into one of the adjoining bunks.
She was soon followed by her sisters, who occupied the rest of them. I turned my face to the wall and soon fell asleep, and, on waking in the morning, there was not a trace to be seen of the fair occupants of the surrounding bunks, and when we met at the breakfast table we all looked as unconsciously at one another as if nothing unusual had happened in connection with our sleeping arrangements the night before. The Bishop was highly amused when I told him what had happened after he got to sleep, but he assured me that he was in still closer quarters with the occupants of a small house during his visitation the year before. The house consisted of one room barely ten feet square. When bedtime arrived, a blanket was stretched across the middle of it, and two beds were made up on the floor on either side. One was occupied by himself and his son, and the other by the gentleman and lady of the house and their infant child. When they were all in bed, he said he felt quite shy when he saw the movement of the feet which were projected so close to him under the curtain.
Bidding adieu to the kind family who had put themselves to so much inconvenience to give us shelter for the night, we rode on to the Mataura Falls, where we were glad to find the bridge completed, and that we could cross the river without going over the slippery ford. There was no longer any fear of our having a repetition in future of the dangerous experience through which the Bishop passed the year before, when he was swept off his horse by a flood and obliged to swim the river. He often laughed over the amusing experiences which followed that dangerous one, when he was obliged for want of a change of dry clothes to sit for a whole day
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with nothing on but a red blanket in a hut, in which thirteen men were weatherbound, and where, hanging over his head, were the quarters of a bullock, which had been killed for their use the same day, and the wet clothes of the whole party.
Since leaving Dunedin we had been travelling through a hilly country, but after passing the Mataura we rode for the rest of our journey across the plains of Southland, which were quite unlike those of Canterbury. In the first place they were thickly studded with picturesque clumps of trees, covering from ten to a thousand acres each. Instead of tussock grass the ground was covered with a plant called Spaniard by the settlers, which grew about three feet high, and had hard, dagger-shaped, sharp-pointed leaves. It was the flowering season, and each plant had several flower-stalks six feet long, the upper end of which was covered with sharp needlelike spines. We found these plants most troublesome, both to our horses and to ourselves. Fortunately, the spines were very tough, and did not break off when they pricked the flesh; otherwise, we should have found them a more serious obstacle to our progress than they proved to be. Pools of water abounded everywhere, which was not surprising in a country where it seemed to be always raining. The ground was often so swampy that we found it difficult to prevent our horses getting bogged in it. After a very uncomfortable ride of thirty miles, we got on to a newly-made road a few miles out of Invercargill.
On reaching that city we were reminded of Martin Chuzzlewit's description of the City of Eden, for nothing could be seen from the outskirts of it but a road stretching away through a forest on one side, and a drain stretching away through a swamp on the other. At length, we came upon a house round which the forest trees had been cleared, which proved to be a merchant's store. Nearly opposite to it was a gaunt-looking structure of weatherboards, which the Bishop said was the hotel he lodged at during his last visit. A little further on was the new hotel, where arrangements had been made for our accommodation. When we rode up to the hotel, the landlord was there in his best coat to receive his Lordship. The hotel possessed only one sitting-room, and we were obliged to occupy it as it was the only room with a fireplace, and the weather was too cold to allow one to be comfortable anywhere without a fire; but the drawback to the room was that the bar was at the end of it. Owing to the respectful behaviour of those who frequented the bar, we were in no way inconvenienced by it till one evening, when some commotion was caused by a bibulous gentleman, with whom we heard the landlady remonstrating, who kept calling out at intervals: "Bishop! Your Reverence! Sir! Lord Bishop!" Presently, the landlady came up with a wine glass in her hand, and said: "My Lord, there is a gentleman in the bar who wants to 'shout you." "Oh!" said the Bishop, "I never take anything." "Oh! please sir, do say all right and take this glass in your hand, for it is useless for me to tell the gentleman you don't drink. He will only say you are too proud to drink with a poor man." "Had I not better speak to him," said the Bishop. "Oh no, sir! please, I am sure he would not understand you." A good-natured nod from the Bishop when the landlady got back satisfied the gentleman that his friendly sentiments were reciprocated, and he departed peaceably.
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On Saturday evening, the churchwarden came to make final arrangements for the services to be held on the following day. He said that the Presbyterian minister, whose turn it was to use the Courthouse, which was the only building available for religious services in the town, had expressed; his intention to waive his right to the use of it in favour of the Bishop, and to come to the service and to bring his people with him. While talking matters over, the churchwarden displayed such ignorance of the order and arrangement of the English services that the Bishop could not help asking him how it was that a devout churchman knew so little about them. In explanation he said that he was born and brought up in Spain, and that the services held in the drawing-room at the Ambassador's house at Madrid were the only English services he had ever regularly attended. He expressed a great desire to do his duty correctly on the morrow, and carefully wrote down all the Bishop's directions about them.
On Sunday morning, I went to the Courthouse in time to secure a seat in the front row, for I had agreed, after much persuasion, to lead the singing with the aid of an old lady whom I met during the week at the churchwarden's house. I was feeling very agitated and wishing I had never consented to sing, as I dreaded starting on a wrong note, and to avoid doing so I kept humming under my breath the first few notes of the tune, and continued to do so until the dreaded moment arrived when I was to lead off. Till the service began, the churchwarden, who was evidently in quite as uncomfortable a state of mind as I was, kept coming to ask me questions about his duties. One thing that troubled him was that everyone who entered the building asked him where their contributions were to be placed, as the basin which usually stood near the door to receive them had been taken away, and they seemed at a loss to understand what he meant when he told them that their offerings would be collected during the service. Just at the last moment he forgot at what particular part of the service the collection was to be made. I was occupied humming my tune to myself when he came to ask me, and said in reply to his question, "Go round when the Bishop turns his face to the congregation and begins to read the offertory sentences." "What do you mean by the offertory sentences?" "The texts of scripture in the common service." He went back to his seat, and the prayer began; but I paid little heed to anything till the Bishop gave out the hymn. I could hardly wait till the words were out of his mouth before raising my voice, which I feared might go altogether if I waited, as my heart was beating so violently in my chest that my breath was as short as if I had run a mile. I might have saved myself all the misery of that moment's experience had I only known how familiar the Scotch people were with the tune I was raising. I no sooner began to sing than my voice was drowned by the loud outburst of praise from the congregation. The sense of oppression that weighed me down instantly vanished, and I prepared to go through the rest of the service without further distraction. We were all on our knees, and the Bishop had begun the Communion service, when I was startled by the sound of coins showering on to some metal surface. On looking up I saw the churchwarden standing in front of a row of kneeling persons with a large silver salver in his hand, on which he
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was collecting their contributions. The unfortunate man had evidently mistaken the Commandments for the texts of scripture to which I had referred as offertory sentences. The whole congregation was soon astir. Some of the strangers got up and left their seats in their eagerness to place their gifts upon the salver. Others sat up, feeling in their pockets for something to give, while others kept kneeling and looking shocked at the unseemly commotion. The Bishop, finding his signals to the churchwarden to desist misunderstood, stopped reading and waited till the collection was made before resuming the service.
The well formed road by which we entered Invercargill from the north ended near the hotel where we stayed during our visit, and, on continuing our journey southwards, we had to proceed for the first three miles along a cart track cut through the forest, where we were continually in danger of laming our horses amongst the roots which crossed the track in all directions under the liquid mud which covered it. On emerging from the forest, we had to flounder through a mile or more of swampy ground till we reached the banks of the New River, where we were met by a man who paddled us across in a Maori canoe, while our horses swam alongside of it. It was an agreeable change after crossing the river to feel the ground once more under our horses feet, amongst the sandhills and on the ocean beach along which we had to travel, but we had received many warnings not to trust too much to this appearance of firmness, as dangerous quicksands abounded along the coast, especially in the neighbourhood of the Waimatuku stream, which crossed our path. The Bishop told me that in order to avoid these quicksands he was obliged the year before to ride some distance into the surf and cross over the sandbar at the mouth of the stream where the rollers nearly carried his horse off its feet. There was a strong sea-breeze blowing as we rode along the beach, and the surf was breaking for half a mile from the shore, and I did not at all relish the idea of having to choose between the risk of being drowned in the surf, or being buried alive in a quicksand. On reaching the dreaded stream, it was hard to believe that the tiny rivulets which spread over the beach in a fan-shaped course, looking as harmless as streams of rain-water running down a roadway after a heavy shower, could be so dangerous as they were reported to be, and I rashly rode on towards them, but the moment my horse's feet touched the margin of the first streamlet they sank in, and the animal with great difficulty extricated itself from its dangerous position. After this warning I thought it wiser to follow the Bishop's lead, and under his guidance got over without any further mishap, as fortunately the tide was very low, and, though we had to ride some distance seawards, we did not find the water deep enough to be troublesome.
When we got to the mouth of Jacob's River we turned inland, and were soon in the middle of a large native village. The cold wind and continuous showers of sleet and hail which had prevailed all day had driven everybody indoors, but the yelping curs which swarmed round us soon brought their owners out to see what they were barking at. They were rather a forbidding looking lot of people, coarse and dissipated in their appearance. It was clear that their intercourse with the European whalers, who frequented their port, had not
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improved either their manners or their morals. They looked surprised when I addressed them in their own language, and were very inquisitive about my identity. Recognising the Bishop, they expressed a wish that he would baptize their children, which he promised to do before leaving the district. While we were talking to the natives, our English friends, with whom we were going to stay, who lived on the opposite side of the river, espied us, and sent a boat to fetch us across. Leaving our horses in the charge of the natives, we crossed the river, and were soon enjoying ourselves before a huge wood fire, and giving our kind hostess all the news we possessed. Her husband, who was member for the district, was away from home attending to his Parliamentary duties, but his son, a very engaging youth, did everything he could to supply his place, and with such success that no part of the journey gives greater pleasure to look back upon than the time spent under his father's roof.
The Bishop found a letter awaiting him from a settler who lived a few miles up the river, asking him to go to his house to baptize his infant child, who was too delicate to be brought to him. The Bishop decided to go the next day whenever the tide suited. It poured with rain when the time came to go down to the boat, and our hostess persuaded the Bishop to put on a suit of yellow oilskin overalls belonging to her husband. When the sou'-wester was tied under his chin and a thick muffler wrapt round his neck, he was so completely disguised that no one could possibly have recognised him, and when seated in the stern of the boat with the tiller in his hand, he looked the very picture of a jolly Deal pilot on a squally day.
The stormy wind blowing against the flood tide caused a choppy sea, and after several narrow escapes from being capsized, we were reluctantly compelled to give up the attempt to reach the settler's house, and to return to our quarters.
A most interesting service was held on Sunday afternoon at the house of Captain H-----, a fine specimen of that remarkable class of courageous and resourceful men, who managed the whale fisheries, and maintained the only semblance of government that existed in New Zealand before its colonization in 1840. He came from Australia at the beginning of last century, and, finding both whales and seals plentiful in the neighbourhood of Foveaux Straits, settled there and formed a whaling station at the mouth of Jacob's River. He owned and commanded a small brig, in which he carried his cargoes of oil and sealskins to Sydney or Hobart. When voyaging between these different places, he trusted entirely to his compass and chart, not knowing how to take an observation of the sun. On one occasion he lost his reckoning, and was so long wandering about the sea in search of the right course that his provisions ran short, and he seemed in danger of starvation, when he fortunately fell in with another craft. Not wishing to let his crew know how matters stood, he signalled to the captain of the other vessel: "What was your reckoning at noon to-day. Want to compare." In response to his enquiry, the figures shewing the longitude and latitude were chalked upon a blackboard and shewn over the ship's side. As soon as he had copied them, he signalled: "Right. Same as I have got down." By this ruse, he recovered his course, and soon reached his destination.
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To redeem the promise made at the time of our arrival, the Bishop spent a day with the Maoris, and our gravity was sorely tried by some comical incidents, which occurred during the services held with them. The first of these took place in a large barn like building, the floor of which was strewn with various articles of clothing and bedding, seamen's chests, and lumber of all sorts. The congregation, consisting of men, women and children, seemed to be drawn together more by curiosity than devout feeling, and their behaviour at times was rather disorderly and disconcerting. About fifteen children were presented for baptism, they and their mothers and sponsors were arranged in a semicircle round the Bishop, who baptized the infants first, and then the older children. Though many of these were quite big enough to stand, the mothers thought it necessary to place them in the Bishop's arms, and he, not liking to make a distinction in handling them, which might be misunderstood, received them as they were given to him. The last to be baptized was a boy about eight years of age, whose only garment was a tattered shirt which hardly reached down to his knees. His mother, a very little woman, seeing what all the other women did, made a desperate effort to follow their example. She caught up her boy and tried to hold him till his turn came, but it was beyond her strength to do so, and he gradually slipped through her arms and through his only garment till his toes reached the ground, and in that naked and uncomfortable position he was kept for some minutes, when his little mother, determined not to be foiled in her purpose, bent down, and by a sudden jerk lifted him off his feet, and deposited him heels uppermost in the Bishop's arms, gasping out "Solomon." The effect was so ludicrous that I nearly choked with suppressed laughter.
At the conclusion of the baptismal service, the Bishop was told that two couples wished to be married, but that it was impossible for one of them to come to him, as he was confined to his bed by a gunshot wound in the thigh, lately received while pig-hunting. The Bishop agreed to go to the house of the wounded man and perform both marriages there. On entering it, we saw the man lying on a mattress in the corner of the house, and sitting on his pillow a middle-aged woman, who proved to be the bride, and standing in the centre of the floor a tall young woman, and squatting beside her a cripple with his legs doubled under him. These comprised the four candidates for matrimony. The man in bed was the first to be married, and the native teacher, who acted as master of ceremonies, no sooner saw his hands being joined to those of his bride than it occurred to him that it would be easier for the Bishop to join the lame man's hands to those of his tall bride if he were raised from the ground, so he dragged a seaman's chest out from the wall, and put a small box upon it, on the top of which, by the aid of the bystanders, he lifted the cripple. The seats proved rather insecure for the poor man, who narrowly escaped the sad fate of "Humpty Dumpty" of nursery fame, for, while joining hands with his bride, he lost his balance and nearly tumbled off his perch.
In the course of conversation with the Maoris, we heard the sad story of the fatal outbreak of measles in 1817, when two thousand men, women and children died of it in a few weeks, and also about a "strange disease" which
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carried off the entire population of their largest village. This disease they regarded as a divine punishment for the desecration of the Church built under the direction of Bishop Selwyn in 1843, which occurred under the following circumstances:-- The lay reader appointed by the Bishop, to the surprise and grief of the community, fell into sin, and then overcome by shame and remorse he killed the partner of his guilt. This dreadful crime perpetrated by their teacher horrified the people, who all fled into the newly-built Church for refuge, and there (to quote our informant's words) "they lived and eat their food not regarding the sacredness of the building, and this turned upon them and was the cause of their perishing. Everyday became a day of mourning, and the whole population of the place died." (Probably typhus fever caused by overcrowding.)
We heard a good deal from the natives about the work of a devoted Lutheran missionary who lived at Ruapuke, and came over occasionally to see them. During my subsequent visits to Southland I became acquainted with this good man, who told me that, whenever he crossed over to the mainland, he made it his business to look up any of his countrymen he could find. On one of these occasions he discovered a German family living in a densely-wooded part of the country, where they were so completely cut off from intercourse with their fellow men that their children (the eldest of whom was seven years of age) had never seen any grown-up people before but their parents till he appeared before them. The moment the children caught sight of him they all ran off and clung to their mother, screaming out: 'Oh, mother, mother, there is a great ugly beast coming here, just like father!"
The Bishop having reached the southern limit of European settlement, and having finished his visitation of that part of his diocese, resolved to return home. Going back, we travelled over much the same ground as we had gone over before, but never stopped, if it could be avoided, at the same places. The first Sunday after Jacob's River was spent with the friends whose one room the Bishop and his companion had shared on a previous visit to the neighbourhood, who gladly welcomed us to their completed dwelling, where they had made arrangements for their neighbours to meet for divine service.
The lady of the house told the following amusing story in connection with the Bishop's last visit to them:-- She noticed on that occasion that their Maori servant did not attend the services held by the Bishop, and, on asking him the reason, she received the startling reply: "Beeshope's no good. He make a work on Sunday." The fact was that he had seen the Bishop using a needle, and that had shocked his Sabbatarian sensibilities. While dressing himself in the morning the Bishop discovered that an important button had given way, and not liking to ask his hostess when they were in such close quarters to sew it on, he retired while she was cooking the breakfast into the adjoining forest, where, having found a leafy spot, he removed his inexpressibles and proceeded to sew the button on. The curiosity of the Maori was excited by the Bishop's movements at an early hour, and he followed him, and peering through the bushes caught him in the unlawful act of using a needle on the Sabbath day, and at once condemned him as unworthy of his office as a Christian minister.
Our next stopping place was the
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station on the Mataura River, near which the Bishop so narrowly escaped from drowning. We got there at nine o'clock at night, and, although our unexpected arrival must have greatly inconvenienced the lady of the house, who was only just recovering from illness, and not properly settled in a new house, which was still in an unfinished state, we were most cordially welcomed. While the Bishop was having prayers before retiring for the night, a very comical thing happened. He was seated at the end of a table, and was giving an address upon the chapter he had read, when a lamb began bleating in the adjoining kitchen, where it had been left wrapt up in flannel by one of the shepherds who had picked it up during the day somewhere on the run in an exhausted state. Attracted by the Bishop's voice, the little creature came pattering along the floor in his direction. It paused a moment in the doorway, where the servant maid had planted her chair, and then catching sight of the Bishop's legs under the table, which happened to be resting one against the other at the knees, it ran forward with a joyous cry, and, seizing a button on one of the gaiters, it began to wag its tail in the way peculiar to lambs when suckling and to butt with his head. The Bishop moved his legs, which disconcerted the lamb for a moment, but it soon renewed its efforts to get its accustomed nourishment, when a happy thought struck the cadet, who was seated on a small box close by, who cunningly put a finger forward between the Bishop's legs, which was at once seized by the overjoyed lamb, who continued to suck it till the service ended.
Our kind friends were greatly distressed because they were obliged for want of blankets to ask us to sleep together in the same bed, which was made up in the loft over the sitting-room where the stores were kept. The Bishop went up the ladder leading to it first, and when I followed some minutes afterwards I found him fast asleep, and lying in such a position that I could not get into bed without waking him. Seeing an opossum rug and a blanket on the floor, I concluded that he had put them there for my use I was no sooner snugly wrapt up in them, when I saw a candle appear through the trap-door, followed by the cadet's head and shoulders. When he caught sight of me he withdrew, but in a few minutes he returned, and coming to me said: "You are in my bed. You must sleep with the Bishop." That I told him I could not do, as I would not wake him on any account. I put my clothes on again, and, after wrapping my Scotch plaid tightly round me, stretched myself on the floor, and soon fell asleep. During the night I was awakened by a crashing noise, followed by a blow on the chest, and found the cadet rolling about the floor in a dazed condition. Whether he had a fit or was suffering from nightmare I never discovered. The fragments of various articles of crockery strewn about near the floor where he was lying accounted for the noise which woke me.
The following Sunday was spent at Mr P-----, where a colony of sawyers and their families were settled. Here our pride had a sad downfall. Ever since our visit to Invercargill the Bishop had constantly referred with satisfaction to the heartiness of the singing at the services held there, and would not hear of our omitting to use hymns anywhere else in future. Every objection was met by the reply; "We got on so well at Invercargill; why not here?" The members of the family with whom we were staying, who
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could sing in private, all promised to help on Sunday, but not one of them uttered a sound in the presence of the congregation except an old lady with a very shrill voice who was left to lead the singing alone. The Bishop made a gallant effort to assist her by swelling the volume of sound, and a third person added to the discord by singing as loudly as he could in a different key. The congregation looked on in solemn silence while these painful efforts were made to get through a difficult task, which, when finished, left behind it a mortifying sense of failure in the minds of the performers.
Continuing our journey, we got back after a fortnight spent at different places to Dunedin, where arrangements were completed for the consecration of the Church erected by Mr John Jones, at Waikouaiti. That gentleman chartered a small steamer to take the Bishop and a party of friends to the place. When the vessel arrived at Waikouaiti there was a good deal of surf on the bar, but that did not prevent the whaleboats coming out to take the passengers ashore. There were a good many ladies in the party, but none of them seemed the least alarmed by the rollers, even when the boats reared up on end, and seemed ready to go over. It was enough for them that Mr Jones said it was safe, and that the boats they were in were manned by his experienced old whalers.
After the consecration of the Church the Bishop decided to continue his journey to Canterbury alone, as no horse could be procured for me to accompany him.
I parted from the Bishop with great regret. His companionship during our long journeyings together had been to me an unfailing source of pleasure. His kindliness of manner, his habitual cheerfulness, his fearlessness in positions of danger, his patient endurance of endless discomforts to which he was continuously subjected, but above all, his conscientious and methodical discharge of the duties of his sacred office filled me with the deepest respect for his character. I learnt during that period of close intimacy with him why it was he was held in such universal respect throughout his diocese, and why a glad welcome greeted him in every house we entered. I look back upon our long ride together through Canterbury and Otago as one of the happiest and best spent portions of my life.
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