Frank Leward: Memorials
Same to the same
Same to the same.
Lat. 50 S. Lon. 170, Feb. 1842.
My Dear Mother I make a shot at where we are because I am not always right and no one else on board knows much about taking our bearings. Theres no exam for whalers if there was they would never get any one to come. The boss knows his way about somehow because hes been so often before but I dont know how he manages it he can hardly read and cant write at all. We havnt had much luck yet only a lot of seals down off Campbells Islands and the Auckland Islands. At the Campbells Islands theres a lot of ice and the seals go about as if they were skating and the Maoris knock them over the head with a club. It was rum work getting there we had to get through the ice in a boat the Maoris went in front breaking the ice. At the Auckland Islands theres no ice but the seals get into caves and on the rocks and we had to go in after them. They bark something like dogs and sometimes they fight like anything its good sport Their skin is very valuable. We got one pure white thats very rare the boss wants it if I can I shall get it for you. The men on board page 90are frightfully rough they were picked up at the Bay of Islands right up in the North of the North Island. The Bay of Islands isnt so bad as it used to be, in old times it used to be a perfect hell upon earth there was a collection of the worst lot in the world runaway convicts from New South Wales and Van Diemens Land and the worst of the natives. They made money whaling and sealing and used to spend it there and did just as they liked. Every house was a drinking place or worse and there was no one to look after them. The missionaries were supposed to govern the place and an unfortunate man named Busby who was sent by the English Government as a sort of consul to the missionaries. This old fellow the natives used to call a man of war without guns because when he used to make a row he couldnt do anything else. The missionaries werent much better than the rest and all they did was to get the natives to give them up the best bits of land which they took good care to stick to. Some of these missionaries are awfully rich now. The scenes that went on at the Bay of Islands were frightful. The whole place used to get drunk then they would begin to quarrel and fight and got mixed up with the Maoris anyhow. However its rather better now though Governor Hobson is a stupid old ass and does whatever the missionaries tell him, and the quarrelsome Maoris can insult the English as much as they like and hes afraid to interfere. We hadnt enough men starting so we had to put into a small place South East of the Middle Island and got six Maoris awfully fine fellows when we got them on board we had to land page 91in a boat to get them and were just setting sail down came their wives one with a baby on her back they always carry their babys that way tied round them with a sort of shawl and suckle them over their shoulders. They made a peculiar wailing sort of noise throwing their arms about in the air and one of them went right into the surf and struck out for the ship. It was rough dirty weather and the sea running pretty high but one by one the others followed her and swam out to the ship. The skippers a determined rough sort of fellow and didnt like it and wanted to go on and leave them but the first mate and I made a row and the old man swore like a trooper but hove to and picked them up. The baby got drowned but the women got in all right. They are rum uns and sleep with their husbands on deck in all sorts of weather.
Im writing this in hopes of sighting a vessel homeward bound and then I will send it. Its a lazy nasty life with nothing to do but cruise about with a man aloft looking out for whales. We see them spouting in the distance but they are generally black ones and no good we want sperm whales. If we once get into a school of them we should do all right and go back to Wellington and make a lot of money and I shall have had enough of whaling. The men are the lowest scum of the earth. I have a few books Roderick Random and Tom Jones and some more but one gets so lazy you can hardly take the trouble to read and the ships so beastly dirty and the men and officers are worse.
Please remember me particularly to Mabel give my page 92love to papa and all tell him if I once get back to New Zealand I intend to settle respectably if I make enough to get some land. Mind and write to me at Wellington. We expect to be there in about a year Your affectionate son
April about 12 ship in sight going to send this off