South-western borders of Polynesia—New Holland—Tempest off the coast—Observations on the aborigines—New Zealand—Situation—Soil—Productions—Climate—Forest scenery—Native flax—Population—Savage dispositions of the people—Cannibalism—Government—Slavery—in New Zealand—in Rio Janeiro—Cruel treatment of New Zealand slaves—Superstitions—Instance of parental tenderness—Occurrences at New Zealand—Tatauing—Sham fighting and war dances— Influence of reports from Tahiti—Prospects of the Mission.
THE preceding chapter contains a brief notice of the principal islands and clusters in the eastern part of Polynesia, and which usually arrest the attention of those who, by the way of Cape Horn, enter the Pacific. The countries on the south-western borders of this ocean, are not less interesting; and, in many respects, they are entitled to a greater degree of attention.
The most important of these are New Holland, and Van Diemen's Land. In the former is the new settlement on the Swan River, and the important colony of New South Wales; in the latter, its flourishing appendages in Van Diemen's Land.
The navigation of the northern part of this extensive island is intricate and dangerous. The shores of the southern part are rocky and bold, page 330 affording, however, several harbours, of which Port Jackson, leading to the town of Sidney, is probably the most capacious and secure. The weather is often stormy and the sea tempestuous, and fatal to the bark that may be exposed to its violence. We experienced somewhat of its fury on our first arrival off the coast in 1816.
Our passage from Rio Janeiro had been pleasant; and, eleven weeks after leaving Brazil, we made the western coast of Van Diemen's Land. We passed through Bass's Straits on the same day, and sailed along the eastern shore of New Holland towards Port Jackson. Soon after day-light the next morning, we perceived a sail some miles before us, which on nearer approach proved to be a small schooner. Our captain, on visiting her, found only three men on board, who were in the greatest distress. They had been at Kangaroo Island procuring seal-skins, with a quantity of which they were now bound to Sydney. They had remained on the island, catching seals, till their provisions were nearly expended, and, during their voyage, had encountered much heavy weather, had been nearly lost, and were so exhausted by fatigue, want of food, and constant exposure, that they could not even alter their sails when a change in the wind rendered it necessary. They had been for some time living on seal-skins; pieces of which were found in a saucepan over the fire, when the boat's crew boarded them. The men from our ship trimmed their sails, and our captain offered to take them in tow; but as they were so near their port, which they hoped to reach the next day, they declined his proposal. When he returned to the ship, he sent them some bread and beef, a bottle of wine, and some water; which the poor starving page 331 men received with indescribable eagerness and joy. The seamen who conveyed these supplies returned to the ship, and we kept on our way. We did not, however, hear of their arrival; and as we remained nearly six months in Sydney after this time, and received no tidings of them, it is probable their crazy bark was wrecked, or foundered during a heavy storm, that came on in the course of the following day.
The wind from the south continued fresh and favourable, and in the forenoon of the next day we sailed towards the shore, under the influence of exhilarated spirits, and the confident expectation of landing in Port Jackson before sunset. About noon we found ourselves near enough the coast to distinguish different objects along the shore, and soon discovered the flag-staff erected on one of the heads leading to Sydney, our port of destination, about four miles distant from us, but rather to windward. The captain and officers being strangers to the port, some time was spent in scanning the coast, in the hope of finding an opening still farther northward; but at twelve o'clock our apprehensions of having missed our port were confirmed, as the latitude was then found, by an observation of the sun, to be four miles to the northward of Sydney heads. We had, in fact, sailed with a strong but favourable wind, four miles past the harbour which we ought to have entered. Hope, which had beamed in every eye, and lighted up every countenance with anticipated pleasure, when we first neared the land, had alternated with fear, or given way to most intense anxiety, when we witnessed the uncertainty that prevailed among our companions, as to our actual situation; but disappointment the most distressing was now strongly marked page 332 in every countenance. “About ship,” exclaimed the captain; immediately the ship's head was turned from the land, and, steering as near the wind as possible, we proceeded towards the open sea. After sailing in this direction for some time, the ship was again turned towards the shore; but the wind, which during the forenoon had been so favourable, was now against us, and as soon as we could distinguish the flag-staff on the coast, we found ourselves farther from it than before. The wind increased; and as the evening advanced, a storm came on, which raged with fearful violence. The night was unusually dark; the long and heavy waves of the Pacific rolled in foam around our vessel; the stormy wind howled through the rigging; all hands were on deck, and twice or thrice, while in the act of turning the ship from the land, the sails were rent by the tempest; while the hoarse and hollow roaring of the breakers, and the occasional glimmering of lights on the coast, combined to convince us of our situation, and the proximity of our danger. The depressionof spirits, resulting from the disappointment, which had been more or less felt by all on board, the noise of the tempest, the vociferations and frequent imprecations of the officers, the hurried steps, rattling of ropes and cordage, and almost incessant labours of the seamen on deck, and the heavy and violent motion of the vessel, which detached from their fastenings, and dashed with violence from one side of the ship to the other, chests of drawers, trunks, and barrels, that had remained secure during the voyage, produced a state of mind peculiarly distressing. The darkness and general disorder that prevailed in the cabin, with the constant apprehension of striking on some fatal page 333 rock, that might lie unseen near the craggy and iron-bound shore, and of being either ingulfed in the mighty deep, or wrecked on the inhospitable coast, rendered the night altogether one of the most alarming and anxious that we had passed since our departure from England. Amidst the confusion by which we were surrounded, we experienced comparative composure of mind, in reliance on the protectionof the Most High,
“When o'er the fearful depth we hung,
High on the broken wave,
We knew He was not slow to hear,
Nor impotent to save.”
In such a season, confidence in Him who holdeth the wind in its fists, and the waters in the hollow of his hand, can alone impart serenity and support.
As the morning advanced, the storm abated; and at sunrise we found ourselves at a considerable distance from the shore. Contrary winds kept us out at sea for nearly a fortnight, which was by far the most irksome part of our voyage. At length we again approached the coast, and were delighted, as we sailed along it on the morning of the eleventh day, to behold a pilot-boat steering towards us. Our vessel had been several times seen from the shore, since the day of our first disappointment; and as soon as we had appeared in sight this morning, the governor of New South Wales, then at Sydney, had despatched a pilot, with orders to go out even sixty miles, rather than return without bringing the vessel in. The pilot boarded us about twenty miles from Port Jackson, and conducted us safely within the heads, in the evening of the same day. Early the next morning, we proceeded to Sydney Cove, where we cast anchor on the 22d of July, after a passage, including our stay in page 334 Rio Janeiro, of only a few days more than six months.
Five months elapsed before we could meet with a conveyance to the Society Islands. This detention, however, favoured me with an opportunity of visiting the chief settlements of New South Wales, and beholding several of the rare and interesting animals and vegetable productions of that important colony. I was happy also to experience, during this period, the friendship and attentions of the Rev. S. Marsden, senior chaplain of the colony, the steady and indefatigable friend of Missions and Missionaries in the South Seas. He resided at Paramatta, where we passed the greater part of our stay in New South Wales, in the family of the late Mr. Hassel, formerly a Missionary in Tahiti.
The settlements in New South Wales are important and prosperous; the whole population is about 40,000, and the colony will, perhaps at no very remote period, be inferior to few attached to the parent country. Combining, in its ample range of territory, every variety of climate in the temperate and torrid zones, it is at once adapted to the growth of the corn of Europe, and the culture of cotton, coffee, sugar, tobacco, and other valuable productions of those countries which lie within the tropics. The supply of labour furnished by the convict population, in agriculture or the mechanic arts, enables the settler to prosecute his plans of local improvement or distant commerce; while the exile is here favoured with an opportunity of retrieving his character, and securing the enjoyment of liberty and comparative comfort. The number of individuals, of intelligence and enterprise, who, as settlers, have transferred to this country their page 335 families and their capital, has elevated the tone of moral feeling and public sentiment, among the more respectable classes of society. The enterprise and activity of the merchants of Sydney, and the public spirit, industry, and perseverance of the grazier and the agriculturist, are rapidly augmenting the resources of the colony itself, and increasing its relative importance. Although the moral and religious state of its population may not have received so much attention as the peculiar character of the lower classes have required, it has not been neglected. Orphan schools have been established, and liberally supported, and other benevolent institutions have been founded. A bible society has for some years existed, and in no part of the world would the influence of its precepts be more salutary. In addition to these means, the indefatigable labours of the clergymen of the church of England, and other communions, cannot but be highly valuable to the inhabitants of this rising colony.
In company with Mr. S. O. Hassel, I made several excursions into the interior of the country, where we frequently saw the inhabitants more completely in a state of nature, than those we met with in the vicinity of the principal towns. The aborigines are but thinly spread over that part of New Holland bordering on the colony; and though the population has been estimated at three millions, I am disposed to think that, notwithstanding the geographical extent of the country, it does not contain so many inhabitants. Their appearance is generally repulsive, their faces looking more deformed from their often wearing a skewer through the cartilage of the nose. Their colour is dark olive or black, and their hair rather crisped than woolly. page 336 In proportion to the body, their limbs are small and weak, while their gait is awkward. Excepting in the neighbourhood of the chief towns, they were usually destitute of clothing, though armed with a spear or lance, with which, even at a great distance, they are fatal marksmen. They are represented as indolent, and cruel. Agriculture is unknown among them, although the indigenous preductions of the country yield them little if any subsistence. Their food is scanty, precarious, and loathsome, sometimes consisting of grubs and reptiles taken in the hollow or decayed trees of the forest. Occasionally, however, they procure excellent fish from the sea, or the lakes, rivers, &c. Their dwellings are low huts of bark, which afford but a mere temporary shelter from the weather.
They appear, in physical structure, and other respects, to resemble the inhabitants of Papua, or New Guinea, and of the interior of Sumatra, and other large islands of the Asiatic archipelago. They are a distinct people from the inhabitants of New Zealand or the South Sea Islands, altogether inferior to them, and apparently the lowest grade of human kind. Their habits are fugitive and migratory, and this has perhaps greatly contributed to the failure of the benevolent attempts that have been made, by the government and others, to meliorate their condition, and elevate their character. The school for aboriginal children, under the patronage of the government, was a most interesting institution: I frequently visited it, and was surprised to learn that, though treated with every kindness, the young scholars, when an opportunity occurred, frequently left the school, and fled to their native woods, where every effort to discover their retreat, or to reclaim them, proved page 337 ineffectual. It is peculiarly gratifying to know that the local authorities, and the government at home, are desirous to aid, by every suitable means, the education, civilization, and moral improvement of the aborigines of New South Wales; and, notwithstanding their present abject condition, and all the existing barriers to their improvement, it is most confidently to be anticipated, that the period will arrive, when this degraded and wretched people shall be raised to the enjoyment of all the blessings of intelligence, civilization, and Christianity.
To the eastward of Port Jackson and Van Diemen's Land, and rather more than twenty degrees distant from them, the large and important country of New Zealand is situated. It was discovered by Tasman, a Dutch navigator, in 1642. He sailed along the western shore of the southern island, to a deep indentation, which he supposed to be a bay; where he anchored. To this place, in consequence of an attack from the natives, he gave the name of Murderers' Bay; and, sailing to the northward, anchored in the bay of the island of the Three Kings, and finally left the coast without landing. In 1770 the coasts were explored by Capt. Cook, who discovered that the bay which Tasman had entered was the opening to a passage, through which he sailed, and which bears his name. It has since been repeatedly visited by traders, for its excellent timber, or by vessels requiring refreshments.
New Zealand, which forms the southern boundary of Polynesia, comprises two large, and several small, islands, extending from 34 to 47 degrees south lat. and from 166 to about 180 degrees east long. The appearance of the coast is bold and page 338 rocky, the land is high and rugged, and the southern mountains are occasionally covered with snow. In the large northern island, where the principal, if not the only, settlements of Europeans are situated, the climate is salubrious, the thermometer ranging between 40 and 80 degrees, avoiding the heat of the tropical climates, yet warmer than most of the temperate latitudes, generally equable, and seldom experiencing those sudden vicissitudes so frequent and injurious in the variable climate of England. The soil in many parts is fertile; and though few articles of food are indigenous, or when introduced grow spontaneously, yet it is capable of a high state of cultivation, and would probably favour not only the growth of wheat and other grain, but also of many of the fruits and valuable productions of the temperate and tropical climates. The mountains do not appear so lofty and broken as those of the Society Islands, and consequently the soil may be cultivated with greater facility. In addition to the growth of corn introduced by Mr. Marsden, and the assistants of the Missions at the several stations, the natives have long cultivated the Irish potato with facility and advantage. It is not indigenous, but was left by some foreign ships, and it not only furnishes a valuable addition to the means of subsistence for the natives, but a very acceptable article of provision for the crews of the vessels by whem they are visited. Other European roots and vegetables have been introduced, but with less success. The kumara, or sweet potato, has been long cultivated, although the fern root furnishes a principal part of the food for the common people at some seasons of the year. The country is favourable for rearing cattle page 339 and sheep, as well as the different kinds of poultry. Violent storms are sometimes experienced on the coast of New Zealand, yet the climate, especially in the northern island, is salubrious and temperate, considerably cooler than that of the Society Isles. There the thermometer is never below 60; here it is sometimes as low as 42, but it seldom rises higher than 70 and 80; while in Tahiti it is occasionally upwards of 90 in the shade. The river Thames, to the south-east, is a fine and capacious harbour. The coasts are well stocked with fish, which, with potatoes and fern root, constitute the food of the inhabitants. These advantages, together with its local situation in regard to New Holland, and the value of its indigenous productions, render it of importance to the colony.
Among the native productions of New Zealand, the most valuable hitherto discovered, is the timber called pine. This tree, of which there are two kinds, called koisky and kaokatere, resembles in every respect, excepting its foliage, parts of fructification, and habits of growth, the pines of North America and Europe, and it has been found exceedingly valuable, not only for the ordinary purposes for which pine or deal timber is available, but also in furnishing masts and spars for vessels. Vast quantities are exported to New South Wales, and several large vessels have conveyed cargoes of it to England. Forests of this timber are extensive, and contain trees of the largest size.
In 1816, I was at New Zealand, and visited Waikadie for the purpose of procuring spars. In company with our captain, and Waivea, the chief of the district, we visited the adjacent forests. The earth was completely covered with thick-spreading and forked roots, brambles, and page 340 creeping plants, overgrown with moss, and interwoven so as to form a kind of uneven matting which rendered travelling exceedingly difficult The underwood was in many parts thick, and the trunks of the lofty trees rose like clusters of pillars supporting the canopy of interwoven boughs and verdant foliage, through which the sun's rays seldom penetrated. There were no trodden paths, and the wild and dreary solitude of the place was only broken by the voice of some lonely bird, which chirped among the branches of the bushes, or, startled by our intrusion on its retirement, darted across our way. A sensation of solemnity and awe involuntarily arose in the mind, while contemplating a scene of such peculiar character, so unlike the ordinary haunts of man, and so adapted, from the silent grandeur of His works, to elevate the soul with the sublimest conceptions of the Almighty. I was remarkably struck with the gigantic size of many of the trees, some of which appeared to rise nearly one hundred feet without a branch, while two men with extended arms could not clasp their trunks.
Another valuable article of spontaneous growth in New Zealand, is the native flax, phormium tenax. I saw considerable quantities of the plant growing in the low lands, and apparently moist parts of the soil. It is not like the flax or hemp plants of England, but resembles, in its appearance and manner of growth, the flag or iris: the long broad sword-shaped leaves furnish the fibre so useful in making dresses for the natives, fishing-lines, twine, and strong cordage employed as running rigging in most of the vessels that trade with the islanders. It is a serviceable plant, and will probably furnish an important page 341 article of commerce with New South Wales, or England.
The population of New Zealand has been estimated at half a million; which estimate must, from the unorganized state of society, be mere conjecture, so that it may exceed this number. The inhabitants are certainly far more numerous than those of the Society Islands, and appear exempt from many of the diseases which afflict their northern neighbours. They are a hardy industrious race, generally strong and active, not only capable of great physical exertion, but of high moral culture, and are by no means deficient in intellect. Their tatauing and carving frequently display great taste; and when we consider the tools with which the latter is performed, it increases our admiration of their skill and perseverance. They are, nevertheless, addicted to the greatest vices that stain the human character—treachery, cannibalism, infanticide, and murder. Less superstitious than many of the natives of the Pacific, but perhaps as much addicted to cruelty as any of them, if not more so; war appears to be their delight, and the events of their lives are little else than a series of acts of oppresion, robbery, and bloodshed. A conquering army, returning from an expedition of murder and devastation, bring home the men, women, and children of the vanquished, as trophies of their victory. These unhappy beings are either reduced to perpetual slavery, or sacrificed, to satiate the vengeance of their enemies. On these occasions, little children, whose feeble hands could scarcely hold the knife or dagger, have been initiated in the dreadful work of death, and have seemed to feel delight in stabbing captive children, thus imbruing their infant hands in page 342 the blood of those who, under other circumstances, they would have hailed as playmates, and have joined in innocent and mirthful pastimes. Their wars are not only sanguinary, but horribly demoralizing and brutal, from the circumstance of the captives, or the slain, furnishing the victors with their triumphal banquet. This revolting manner of destroying, in consequence of being captured, was rendered more horrid from the brutal manner in which it was performed: sometimes they chopped off the legs and arms, and otherwise mangled the body before they put the victim to death.
The cannibalism of the inhabitants of New Zealand, and other islands of the Pacific, has been doubted by some, and denied by others; and every mind influenced by the common sympathies of humanity, must naturally resist the conviction of his species ever sinking to a degradation so abject, and a barbarity so horrible, until it be substantiated by the clearest evidence of indisputable facts. But however ardently we may have hoped that the accounts of their anthropophagism were only the result of inferences drawn from their familiarity with, and apparent satisfaction in, deeds of savage murder—the circumstantial accounts of the Missionaries and others, who have resided amongst them, no longer admit any doubt to be entertained of the revolting and humiliating fact.
The intercourse they have had with the greater part of the foreign shipping visiting their shores, has not been such as to soften the natural ferocity of their character, to improve their morals, inspire them with confidence, advance their civilization, or promote peace and harmony among themselves; page 343 frequently it has been the reverse, as the affair of the Boyd, and the desolation of the island of Tipahee, affectingly demonstrate.
The government of New Zealand is aristocratical or feudal, and is oppressive, arbitrary, and cruel. Each chief is supreme among his own tribe or clan, and independent of every other. In this respect their system corresponds with that which prevails in the Marquesas and some other islands, where right is unknown, and no law acknowledged but that of power. Many of the chiefs have probably acquired their ascendancy by skill and prowess in war, and maintain their authority by their fame, or superiority in strength and courage. The greater part of the people appear to be comprehended under three classes—the chiefs and warriors, with their relatives and companions; the families of peasantry or agriculturists, and fishermen; and the slaves. The condition of the latter is most deplorable and wretched. They are captives who have been taken in war, or the children of such, and are enslaved for life. On them devolves the labour of tilling the ground, dressing food, and performing all the drudgery for the household of their chief or master. Slavery in every state of society is inhuman and unjust to man, and is criminal before God; but I am disposed to regard it as less intolerable in civilized than in savage society. It certainly is so in those parts where I have witnessed its operation. I never saw it in all the repulsive deformity in which it exists in the West Indies, but in South America I had frequent opportunities of observing the manner in which the unhappy captives were treated in that part of the world. The circumstances under which I first saw those, whom page 344 violence and avarice had deprived of their liberty, were affecting.
On the 20th of March, 1816, we cast anchor at the mouth of the harbour of Rio Janeiro. The light of the next morning presented before us one of the most magnificent and extensive landscapes I ever beheld. The mass of granite rock, surmounted by the fort of Santa Cruz on our right, the towering Sugar-loaf mountain on our left, the picturesque island at the mouth of the harbour, the distant city of St. Sebastian, the turrets of the castle, the cupolas and spires of the convent, the lofty range of mountains in the interior, whose receding summits were almost lost in aërial perspective, where
“Distance lends enchantment to the view,”
all successively met the eye, together with the widely expanded and beautiful bay, one of the finest in the world, studded with verdant islands, rendered more picturesque by the white cottages with which they were adorned. The whole scene was enlivened by the numerous boats, with their white and singularly shaped sails, incessantly gliding to and fro on the smooth surface of the water, and the shipping of different nations riding at anchor in the bay, or moored to the shore. Among the vessels, which exhibited almost every variety of size and form, those by no means least interesting to us, were two British frigates; one of which was the Alceste, on her way to China, to join Lord Amherst's embassy. These objects excited in our minds a variety of pleasing sensations, heightened by the circumstance that the country before us contained the first port we had entered since leaving England.page 345
There is something very exhilarating in approaching land, or entering a friendly port, after a long voyage; and the pleasure we felt on this occasion was so much increased by the novel and delightful landscapes incessantly opening to our view, as we sailed along the bay, that we were unwilling for a moment to leave the deck. Our enjoyment was, however, interrupted by a spectacle adapted to awaken sensations very different indeed from those inspired by the loveliness and peace of the scenery around us.
We had proceeded about half way to the anchorage, when we approached a brig sailing also into the harbour, which, as we came alongside of her, appeared to be a slave-ship returning from the coast of Africa. The morning was fine, and the air refreshing, and this had probably induced the cruel keepers to bring their wretched captives up from the dungeons of pestilence and death in which they had been confined. The central part of the deck was crowded with almost naked Africans, constituting part of the cargo of the gloomy looking vessel.
Though their ages appeared various, the majority seemed to have just arrived at that period of human life, when the prospects of man are brightest, and the hopes of future happiness more distinct and glowing, than during any other portion of his existence: they were most of them, so far as we could judge, from fourteen to eighteen or twenty years of age; some were younger. We regarded them with a degree of melancholy interest, which for a time rendered us insensible to the beauties of nature every where spread before our eyes. Our passing, however, appeared to affect them but little. The greater part of page 346 these unhappy beings stood nearly motionless, though we did not perceive that they were chained; some directed towards us a look of seeming indifference; others, with their arms folded, appeared pensive in sadness; while several, leaning on the ship's side, were gazing on the green islands of the bay, the rocky mountains, and all the wild luxuriance of the smiling landscape; which probably awakened in their bosoms thoughts of “home and all its pleasures,” from which they had so recently been torn; and, judging of the future by the past short period of their wretched bondage, their minds were perhaps distressed with painful anticipations of the toils and sufferings that would await them on the foreign shore they were approaching!
Circumstances detained us at Rio Janeiro above six weeks. I feel it would be injustice to the parties not to state, that although we were perfect strangers, we experienced the greatest hospitality and kindness from the English merchants and other residents there. During the whole of our stay, two of these gentlemen accommodated us at their country houses, a few miles distant from the city, where all that friendship could devise for our comfort was generously furnished.
While detained here, we came, for the first time, into actual contact with slavery. There are, perhaps, few places where the slaves meet with milder treatment; but it was most distressing, on passing the slave market, to observe the wretched captives there bought and sold like cattle; or to see two or three interesting looking youths, wearing a thin dress, and having a new red cotton handkerchief round their heads, led through the streets by a slave-dealer, who, entering the different page 347 houses or workshops as he passed along, offered the young negroes for sale; yet scarcely a day passed while we were in the town, during which we did not meet these heartless traffickers in human beings thus employed. In the English or Portuguese families with which we had any opportunities of becoming acquinted, although the domestic slaves did not appear to be treated with that unkindness which the slaves in the field often experience, yet, even here, the whip was frequently employed in a manner, and under circumstances, revolting to every feeling of humanity.
The slaves in Rio Janeiro may, however, be said to live in ease and comfort, when their circumstances are compared with those of New Zealand. Here their means of subsistence is scanty and precarious, the treatment is barbarous in the extreme, their lives are held in light estimation, and often taken in the most brutal manner, for very trivial causes, while their bodies furnish a horrible repast for the owner who has murdered them. During our stay, the Missionaries related some very affecting accounts of the destruction of slaves by their masters; and the following has been published by the Missionaries residing among the people. A female slave ran away from Atoai, a chief, and her retreat was for some time unknown to her master; at length he saw her sitting with some natives at Koranareka, near his residence. He led her away, tied her to a tree, and shot her. Captain Duke, of the Sisters, hearing of the circumstance, went to the place, and found the body of the girl prepared for baking in a native oven, the large bones of the legs and arms having been cut out. On his expostulating, they said it was page 348 not his concern, and they should act as they pleased. They often seem to take a savage delight in murdering their slaves, in which they are unawed by the presence of strangers. A few years ago, a chief of the name of Tuma, killed with an iron bill-hook, a female slave, who was employed in washing linen at Mr. Hanson's door, though Mr. Kendall and Mr. King, two of the Missionaries, interfered for her rescue.
Their superstitions seem more vague and indistinct, and their system of religion more rude and unorganized, than that of most of the other inhabitants of the South Sea Islands, though many of their traditions are singular and interesting. Their temples are few and insignificant, their priests probably less numerous and influential, as a distinct class, than those of Tahiti or Hawaii formerly were; their worship less frequent, ceremonial, and imposing, and also less sanguinary. I never heard of their offering human sacrifices. They believe in a future state, which they suppose will correspond in some degree with the present. Like some of the barbarous nations in Africa, they imagine that it is necessary the spirits of departed chiefs should be attended by the spirits of their slaves; this occasions the death of numbers of unhappy captives. The Missionaries observe, that it is a common practice to kill one or two slaves on such occasions. At one time, a child who resided in the immediate neighbourhood of the Missionaries was drwoned: the father was absent, the mother made great lamentation, and called upon the people around, to put to death some one, whose spirit should be a companion for that of her child, on its way to the rainga, (heaven.) An aged female slave, apprehensive of page 349 the consequence of such an appeal, took refuge among the high fern, and effectually concealed herself. A female relative of the deceased child called out to the slave, assuring her she should be spared. The poor creature made her appearance, when the brother of the child was called, and immediately despatched the slave with a stone implement.
Although their character is so dark, their temper so ferocious, and their conduct so violent and murderous, in some respects their dispositions appear more humane and amiable than those of the Tahitians. To the catalogue of their vices and their cruelties they did not add that deliberate systematic infanticide, which the Areois practised; and though not guiltless of this crime, it was exercised less frequently, and some of them, especially the fathers, seemed fond of their children. A pleasing illustration of this occurred while I was among them; and I mention it the more cheerfully, as the general impression their spirit and behaviour made upon my mind was of a different kind.
In an excursion to Waikadie, shortly after leaving the Bay of Islands, we reached Kauakaua, where Mr. Hall proposed to land. As we approached the shore, no trace of inhabitants appeared; but we had scarcely landed, when we were somewhat surprised by the appearance of Tetoro, and a number of his people. The chief ran to meet us, greeting us in English, with “How do you do?” He perceived I was a stranger, and, on hearing my errand and destination, he offered me his hand, and saluted me, according to the custom of his country, by touching my nose with his. He was a tall, fine-looking page 350 man, about six feet high, and proportionably stout, his limbs firm and muscular, and, when dressed in his war-cloak, with all his implements of death appended to his person, he must have appeared formidable to his enemies. When acquainted with our business, he prepared to accompany us; but before we set out, an incident occurred that greately raised my estimation of his character. In front of the hut sat his wife, and around her played two or three little children. In passing from the hut to the boat, Tetoro struck one of the little ones with his foot; the child cried—and, though the chief had his mat on, and his gun in his hand, and was in the act of stepping into the boat where we were waiting for him, he no sooner heard its cries, than he turned back, took the child up in his arms, stroked its little head, dried its tears, and, giving it to the mother, hastened to join us. His conversation in the boat, during the voyage, so far as it was made known to me, indicated no inferiority of intellect, nor deficiency of local information. On reaching Waikadie, about twenty miles from our ship, we were met by Waivea, Tetoro's brother; but his relationship appeared to be almost all that he possessed in common with him, as he was both in appearance and in conduct entirely a savage.
It was in the month of December, 1816, that I visited New Zealand; and here for the first time saw the rude inhabitants of the South Sea Islands, in their native state. At daylight, on the morning after our arrival on the coast, we found ourselves off Wangaroa bay, where, six years before, the murderous quarrel took place, in which the crew of the Boyd were cut off by the natives, and near which, subsequently, the Methodist Missionary page 351 station at Wesleydale, established in 1823, has been, through the alarming and violent conduct of the inhabitants, abandoned by the Missionaries, and utterly destroyed by the natives. Several canoes, with three or four men in each, approached our vessel at a very early hour, with fish, fishing-lines, hooks, and a few curiosities for sale. Their canoes were all single, generally between twenty and thirty feet long, formed out of one tree, and nearly destitute of every kind of ornament.
The men, almost naked, were rather above the middle stature, of a dark copper colour, their features frequently well formed, their hair black and bushy, and their faces much tataued, and ornamented, or rather disfigured, by the unsparing application of a kind of white clay and red ochre mixed with oil. Their appearance and conduct, during our first interview, was by no means adapted to inspire us with prepossessions in their favour. Our captain refused to admit them into the ship, and, after bartering with them for some of their fish, we proceeded on our voyage.
On reaching the Bay of Islands we were cordially welcomed by our Christian brethren, the Missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, who had been about two years engaged in promoting instruction and civilization among the New Zealanders. They were the first Missionaries we had seen on heathen ground, and it afforded us pleasure to become acquainted with those who were in some respects to be our future fellow-labourers. Having been kindly invited to spend on shore the next day, which was the Sabbath, we eft the ship soon after breakfast, on the morning of the 22nd. When we reached the landing-place, page 352 crowds of natives thronged around us, with an idle but by no means ceremonious curiosity, and some time elapsed before we could proceed from the beach to the houses of our friends.
The Missionaries had on the preceding day invited me to officiate for them, and I was happy to have an opportunity of preaching the gospel on the shores of New Zealand. Several of the natives appeared in our little congregation, influenced probably by curiosity, as the service was held in a language unintelligible to them. I could not, however, but indulge the hope that the time was not distant, when, through the influence of the schools already established, and the general instructions given by the Missionaries, my brethren would have the pleasure of preaching, on every returning Sabbath, the unsearchable riches of Christ, to numerous assemblies of attentive Christian hearers. The circumstance of its being exactly two years, this Sabbath day, since Mr. Marsden, who visited New Zealand in 1814–1815, for the purpose of establishing a Christian Mission among the people, preached, not far from this spot, the first sermon that was ever delivered in New Zealand, added to the feelings of interest connected with the engagements of the day.
Circumstances detaining us about a week in the Bay of Islands, afforded me the means of becoming more fully acquainted with the Missionaries, of making excursions to different parts of the adjacent country, and witnessing severla of the singular manners and customs of the people.
An unusual noise from the land anoused us early on the morning of the 25th, and, on reaching the deck, a number of war-canoes were seen lying along the shore, while crowds of natives on the page 353 beach were engaged in war-dances, shouting, and firing their muskets at frequent intervals. On inquiry, we found that on the day we had visited Waikadie, a chief of Rangehoo had committed suicide, by throwing himself from a high rock into the sea. This event had brought the chiefs and warriors of the adjacent country, to investigate the cause of his death—armed, and prepared for revenge, in the event of his having been murdered. A council was held for some hours on the beach, when the strangers, being satisfied as to the cause and manner of the chief's death, preparations for war were discontinued, and the people of Rangehoo repaired to their fields, to procure potatoes for their entertainment. It was Christmas-day, and about twelve o'clock we went on shore, to dine with one of the Mission families. In the afternoon, I walked through the encampment of the strangers, which was spread along the sea-shore. Their long, stately, and in many instances beautifully carved canoes, were drawn up on the pebbly beach, and the chiefs and warriors were sitting in circles, at a small distance from them. Each party occupied the beach opposite their canoes, while the slaves or domestics, at some distance further from the shore, were busied round their respective fires, preparing their masters' food. Near his side, each warrior's spear was fixed in the ground, while his patapatu, a stone weapon, the tomakawk of the New Zealander, was hanging on his arm. Several chiefs had a large iron hatchet or bill-hook, much resembling those used by woodmen, or others, in mending hedges in England. These, which in their hands were rather terrifying weapons, appeared to be highly prized; they were kept clean and polished, and page 354 generally fastened round the wrist by a braided cord of native flax. The patupatu was sometimes placed in the girdle, in the same manner as a Malay would wear his knife or dagger, or a Turk his pistol. The men were generally tall and wellformed, altogether such as it might be expected the warriors of a savage nation would be Several of these fighting-men were not less than six feet high; their limbs were muscular and firm, and their bodies stout, but not corpulent. The dress of the chiefs and warriors consisted, in general, of a girdle round the loins, and a short cloak or mantle, worn over the shoulders, and tied with cords of braided flax in front. The rank of the chief appeared to be sometimes indicated by the number of his cloaks fastened one upon the other; that which was smallest, but generally most valuable, being worn on the outside: the whole resembled in this respect the capes of a travelling-coat.
Their physiognomy, indicating any thing but weakness or cowardice, often exhibited great determination. They wore no helmet, or other covering for the head. Their black and shining hair sometimes hung in ringlets on their shoulders, but was frequently tied up on the crown of their heads, and usually ornamented by a tuft of waving feathers. Their dark eyes, though not large, were often fierce and penetrating; their prominent features in general well-formed; but their whole countenance was much disfigured by the practice of tatauing. Each chief had thus imprinted on his face, the marks and involutions peculiar to his family or tribe; while the figures tataued on the faces of his dependants or retainers, though fewer in number, were the same in form as those by page 355 which the chief was distinguished. The accompanying representation of the head and face of ‘Honghi,∗ the celebrated New Zealand warrior, who was among the party that arrived this morning at the settlement, will convey no inaccurate idea of the effect of this singular practice. The tatauing of the face of a New Zealander, answering the purpose of the particular stripe or colour of the Highlander's plaid, marks the clan or tribe to which he page 356 belongs. It is considered highly ornamental; and, in addition to the distinguishing lines or curves, the intricacy and variety of the pattern, thus permanently fixed on the face, constitutes one principal distinction between the chiefs and common people, and it may be regarded as the crest, or coat of arms, of the New Zealand aristocracy. Tatauing is said to be also employed as a means of enabling them to distinguish their enemies in battle. In the present instance, its effect on the countenance, where its marks are more thickly implanted than in any other part of the body, was greatly augmented by a preparation of red ochre and oil, which had been liberally applied to the cheeks and the forehead. Quantities of oil and ochre adhered to my clothes, from close contact with the natives, which I found it impossible to prevent; but this was the only inconvenience I experienced from my visit.
∗The bust, from which, by the kindness of the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, the drawing of the above is taken, was executed with great fidelity by ‘Honghi during a visit to Port Jackson.
The warriors of New Zealand delight in swaggering and bravado, for while my companion was talking with some of Korokoro's party, one of them came up to me, and several times brandished his patupatu over my head, as if intending to strike, accompanying the action with the fiercest expressions of countenance, and the utterance of words exceedingly harsh, though to me unintelligible. After a few minutes he desisted, but when we walked away, he ran after us, and, assuming the same attitude and gestures, accompanied us till we reached another circle, where he continued for a short time these exhibitions of his skill in terrifying, &c. When he ceased, he inquired, rather significantly, if I was not afraid. I told him I was unconscious of having offended him, and that, notwithstanding his actions, I did page 357 not think he intended to injure me. The New Zealanders are fond of endeavouring to alarm strangers, and appear to derive much satisfaction in witnessing the indications of fear they are able to excite.
A number of tribes from different parts of the Bay being now at Rangehoo, the evening was devoted to public sports on the sea beach, which most of the strangers attended. Several of their public dances seemed immoral in their tendency, but in general they were distinguished by the violent gestures and deafening vociferations of the performers. No part of the sports, however, appeared so interesting to the natives, as a sham fight, in which the warriors wore their full dresses, bore their usual weapons, and went through the different movements of actual engagement.
Shungee, or, according to the modern orthography of the Missionaries, ‘Honghi, with his numerous dependants and allies, formed one party, and were ranged on the western side of the beach, below the Missionaries’ dwelling. The chief wore several mats or short cloaks, of various sizes and texture, exquisitely manufactured with the native flax, one of them ornamented with small shreds of dog's skin, with the hair adhering to it; these were fastened round his neck, while in his girdle he wore a patupatu, and carried a musket in his hand. His party were generally armed with clubs, and spears nine or ten feet long.
Their antagonists were ranged on the opposite side of the beach. At a signal given, they ran violently towards each other, halted, and then, amidst shouts and clamour, rushed into each others' ranks, some brandishing their clubs, others page 358 thrusting their spears, which were either parried or carefully avoided by the opposite party. Several were at length thrown down, some prisoners taken, and ultimately both parties retreated to a distance, whence they renewed the combat. As the day closed, these sports were discontinued, and the combatants and spectators retired to their respective encampments.
Having filled our water-casks, increased our supply of provender for the cattle and sheep I had on board, procured a number of logs of timber towards the erection of our future dwelling, and having spent a week very pleasantly with our Missionary brethren; we took leave of them, grateful for the assistance of their influence with the natives, and the kindness and hospitality we had experienced at their hands.
To the eye of a Missionary, New Zealand is an interesting country, inhabited by a people of no ordinary powers, could they be brought under the influence of right principles. By the Christian philanthropists of Britain, who are desirous not only to spread the light of revelation and Christian instruction among the ignorant at home, but are also making noble efforts to send its blessings to the remotest nations of the earth, it has not been overlooked.
In 1814, the Church Missionary Society sent their Missionaries to New Zealand; and, under the direction and guardianship of the Rev. S. Marsden, the steady patron of the New Zealand Mission, established their first settlement at Rangehoo in the Bay of Islands. Considerable reinforcements have been sent, and three other stations formed. Since that period, the Wesleyan Missionaries commenced their labours near Wangaroa. page 359 The Missionaries and their assistants, who have laboured at these stations ever since their commencement, have not only steadily and diligently applied to the study of the language, which is a dialect of that spoken in all the eastern portion of the Pacific, established schools for the instruction of the natives, and endeavoured to unfold to them the great truths of revelation, but have from the beginning, by the establishment of forges for working iron, saw-pits, carpenters' shops, &c. laboured to introduce among the natives habits of industry, a taste for the mechanic arts, and a desire to follow the peaceful occupations of husbandry; thereby aiming to promote their advancement in civilization, and improve their present condition, while they were pursuing the more important objects of their mission.
Success indeed has not been according to their desires, but it has not been altogether withheld; the general character of the people, in the neighbourhood of the settlements, is improved, pleasing instances of piety among the natives have been afforded; a number have been baptized, and the Missionaries are enabled to continue their exertions, under circumstances which are daily assuming a more pleasing aspect. We rejoice to know, that the report of the change which Christianity has effected in the Georgian Islands, appears to have exerted a favourable influence here. This has been manifested on several occasions. The following is one of the most recent instances.
Writing under date of May 22, 1829, the Rev. W. Williams, one of the Missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, in describing a visit, made in company with Mr. Davies, to Kauakaua, observes, “In the evening, we were much interested by an page 360 account given by a chief, who has lately visited Tahiti. He simply confirmed the testimony given by others before, that the natives of that island have undergone a very great change. I asked if they never fought now? “Fight!” said he, “they are all become Missionaries.” The natives who listened to him, said, they should like to go there, and live at Tahiti, but that their own island would never leave off its present customs.”∗
∗Missionary Record, Oct. 1830.
It was a favourable circumstance attending the change that has taken place both in the Society and Sandwich Islands, that each island had its chief; and that in some instances several adjacent islands were under the government of a principal chief or king, whose authority was supreme, and whose influence, in uniting the people under one head, predisposed them, as a nation, to receive the instructions imparted by individuals countenanced and protected by their chief or king. Persons of the highest authority not only patronized the Missionaries, but frequently added to their instructions, their commendation, and the influence of their own example in having already received them.
In New Zealand there is no king over the whole, or even over one of the larger islands. The people are generally governed by a number of chieftains, each indeed a king over his narrow territory. A desire to enlarge their territory, augment their property, increase their power, or satisfy revenge, leads to frequent and destructive wars, strengthens jealousy, and cherishes treachery, keeps them without any common bond of union, and prevents any deep or extensive impression being made upon them as a people. This necessarily circumscribes page 361 the influence of the Missionaries, and is, in a great degree, the cause which led the Wesleyan Missionaries for a time to suspend altogether their efforts, and which has recently so painfully disturbed those of their brethren in connexion with the Church Missionary Society.
The labours of the mechanic and the artisan are valuable accompaniments to those of the Missionary; but Christianity must precede civilization. Little hope is to be entertained of the natives following to any extent the useful arts, cultivating habits of industry, or realizing the enjoyments of social and domestic life, until they are brought under the influence of those principles inculcated in the word of God. And notwithstanding the discouragements to be encountered, this happy result should be steadily and confidently anticipated by those engaged on the spot, as well as by their friends at home. Their prospect of success is daily becoming more encouraging. They have not yet laboured in hope, so long as their predecessors did in the South Sea Islands; where nearly fifteen years elapsed before they knew of one true convert. The recollection of this circumstance is adapted to inspire those employed in New Zealand with courage, and stimulate to perseverance, as there is every reason to conclude, that when the New Zealanders shall by the blessing of God become a Christian people, they will assume and maintain no secondary rank among the nations of the Pacific.