New Zealand Minstrelsy
Stanzas, written while on the voyage out to New Zealand on board the “Bengal Merchant,” January 14, 1840
Stanzas, written while on the voyage out to New Zealand on board the “Bengal Merchant,” January 14, 1840.
Britannia! proud of enterprising sons,
While half the world still owns her sceptre sway,
And round her vast dominions is the sun’s
Great circuit giving an alternate day;—
But what adds to the prominent display
Of that magnificence which she has won
In early ages, more than being stay
To powers which otherwise would be undone,
And source of some which be, and what will be begun?
In every quarter of this active world
There beat some hearts that sacred hold her name,
And where her meteor flag has been unfurled,
Or power endanger’d:—were she put to shame?—
Her sons obedient, readily forth came
At her command, and lion-like obeyed!—
Thus loyal,—still their courteousness the same
To friend or foe, who helpless seek their aid,
As still their actions by humanity are swayed.
Britannia glories!— and her pride has merit
In deeds heroic, which her sons display
In quest of savage nations, which inherit
The sea-girt isles, which long obscurely lay
page 36 Beyond her former ken; and then t’assay
To civilise and lead them by the road
Of sound instruction*—(changing into day
Their moral night)—to serve the Living God,
From whom thus short’ning distance through the Saviour’s blood.
Fear not, New Zealander! we do not come
With hostile feelings, but with all good will;
Though we adopt your country as our home,
’Tis but to teach you industry and skill;
For Wakefield shall efficiently fulfill
His mission undertaken, nor prove false
To duty’s whole performance; trust ye still
His government; so shall ye ne’er have cause
To murmur ’gainst the safety of Britannia’s laws.
Too long indeed in darkness have ye pined,
Been long enslaved by superstition’s chain;
Rejoice! we’ve come your fetters to unbind;—
No faithless friendship offer we for gain;
So strive all knowledge taught thee to attain:
Lay past your trappings of unnat’ral war,
And court sweet peace— so thus what we would deign
Will be accomplish’d, and exceed by far
All other vict’ries which would general pleasure mar.
How sweet the joys arising from employ!
And rich the fruits of an industrious toil!
We’ll teach you how those blessings to enjoy,
And prize your rich fertility of soil
* Alluding to the labours of the British missionaries in paving the way as it were for a greater extension of the British empire, while those heathen nations reaping the benefit of their labours shew a willingness to come under the authority and protection of Britain.
Your deserts shall, and blossom as the rose;
Such pleasures will your thirst for war beguile,
And friendships raise between invet’rate foes;
So peace and blessings shall your future days compose.
’Tis true, the country we have left behind
Has fields less fertile, less propitious skies;—
Though oft shall scenes frequented, now resign’d,
Be drawn by fancy—as before our eyes;
And friendship’s love,—a painful sacrifice—
At parting, as on earth to meet no more:
May no sad feeling in our breasts arise,
At disappointed hopes, or change deplore—
But rather bless the time we reached New Zealand’s shore.
With loud huzzas we left our Fatherland,
While in full sail our barque rush’d through the tide,
And we committed all into the hand
Of Providence:—So thus, in stately pride
Borne o’er the mountain waves, we’ve hither hied;
In hailing destined shores no voice was mute.—
And should our hearts of gratitude be void
To Him who kept us, when again we foot
The earth—but render praise to Him in each pursuit?
Oh happy plan!*—ingenuously devised!—
To colonise New Zealand’s lovely isle;
Bid Britons welcome—let their scheme be priz’d,
And let your vallies with fresh beauties smile;
* Alluding to the Wakefield method of purchasing territory for colonization; then bestowing part of the land for the benefit of the natives, instead of taking the land by force, and exterminating its inhabitants, as has often been done by other nations in former years.
Bring forth to waste, without an owner’s care,
While nature amply recompenses toil
With good abundance:—so make commerce, share;
Prove to the world no country can with your’s compare.
Your generations yet unborn shall bless
The time when we your country colonized;
And they again shall to their seed express
Their pleasure at a plan so well devised,
At seeing twofold blessings realised,
From changes which their grandsires have sustain’d,
In days of yore, in being civilized;
And grateful for the favours so obtained,
A mission ’mong their neighb’ring isles shall have maintain’d.