The Voyage—Funeral at Sea—Cause of the dread of Death—Quarrels at Sea—Early history of New Zealand—Captain Cook—Anecdotes during residence there—Church of England Missionaries—Wesleyan Missionaries.
On the 28th of October, 1839, I accompanied my esteemed friend, Mr. Dunlop of Craigton, then Lord Provost of Glasgow, and a large party, in a steamboat hired for the occasion, attended by some of the officers, and the band of the 1st Royals, from Glasgow, to the barque called the Bengal Merchant, lying off Greenock, and chartered in London, for the purpose of conveying the first Scotch colony to New Zealand. Dinner was served up on board of the steamer, at which champagne flowed in abundance.
On reaching the vessel his Lordship delivered an appropriate address to the emigrants. He told them, that though going to a beautiful country, and to enjoy a salubrious climate, they must lay their account with enduring many hardships, and must labour hard before getting fairly established in their adopted country. That even greater difficulties than they would probably have to encounter, had been overcome by the first settlers in other parts of the world. He exhorted them to cherish kindly feelings towards each other, and reminded them, that as their tenure of life was short and uncertain, they would derive great consolation when traversing the stormy deep, and when tossed about by its mighty waters, from the hopes which the Christian religion afforded, of more enduring felicity hereafter. That they were about to lay the foundation of a colony, which in time might become a great nation—a second Britain,—and that numbers would no doubt follow, when, as he trusted the accounts of their successful enterprise, and happy settlement, had again arrived on those shores which they were about to leave.
On the 31st of October, having weighed anchor, I bade adieu to my native land.
“Adieu! Adieu! my native shore
Fades o’er the waters blue;
The night winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild sea-mew.
“For pleasures past I do not grieve,
Nor perils gath’ring near;
My greatest grief is that I leave
The friends I hold so dear.
“Yon sun that sets upon the sea,
I follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
My native land good night.
“A few short hours and he will rise
To give the morrow birth;
And I shall hail the main and skies,
But not my mother earth.
When nearly opposite to Largs, in Ayrshire, we received the parting cheers of Mr. Crawford, the New Zealand Company’s zealous agent in Glasgow, and those other friends who had accompanied us down the river in a steam-boat, who took that method of testifying their good wishes for our success. It may easily be supposed that we were not slow in returning these congratulations. We were all full of hope and anxiety to see what had been represented to us as a sort of earthly paradise—a smiling land, the very sight of which was at once to have banished away all our cares and all our sorrows. But man seeth only as through a glass darkly. Within a few short months I was doomed to witness those very beings who were cheering and shouting as they left the land of their nativity, cast, as it were, upon a barren, dreary, and inhospitable shore. I saw them turned out into a flat-bottomed boat every morning, for three weeks, nearly up to their knees in water, in order that they might erect for themselves their future habitations in the wilderness. I saw them at last, when that period, that short period of only three weeks had elapsed, driven out of the ship like oxen upon a Saturday night, in the midst of a storm of wind and of rain, of which you can hardly form any conception, many of them having no place to which they could fly to for shelter, until the fury of the storm was overpast. I heard their sighs; I witnessed the feelings which overpowered them, when they thought on those peaceful shores which they had so lately left, and on those happy days which had then for ever vanished from their view; and were those amongst them, who still survive in that distant region, now standing by my side, I am confident that many of them would be ready to exclaim with the prophet Jeremiah, “Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him, but weep sore for him that goeth away, for he shall return no more, nor see his native country; but he shall die in the place whether they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.”
And long, poor wanderers, o’er the ecliptic deep
The song that names hut home will hid you weep;
Oft shall ye fold your flocks by some strange stars above,
In that far world, and miss the stars ye love.
After giving you this brief outline of the hardships to which the first settlers in every new colony are so apt to be subjected, but from which subsequent adventurers are in a great measure relieved, I must bring you back to where you had left us, namely, receiving the parting cheers of our friends, nearly opposite to Largs, and the wind being both strong and favourable, most of us had soon to take our last look of this happy land.
We left our homes, around whose humble hearth,
Our parents, kindred, all we valued smil’d;
Friends who had known and lov’d us from our birth,
And who still lov’d us as a fav’rite child.
We left the scenes by youthful hopes endear’d,
The woods, the streams, that sooth’d the infant ear;
The plants, the trees, that we ourselves had rear’d,
And every charm to love, to fancy dear.
We left our native land, and far away
Across the waters, sought a world unknown;
But did not know that we in vain might stray,
In search of one so lovely as our own.
We kept to the north of Ireland, passed near to the Giant’s Causeway early on the following morning, and, after a splendid run of nearly five hundred miles, during the first two days, got into the Atlantic ocean, clear of all land, a circumstance to which sailors attach great importance.
With the exception of one gale of wind when off the Bay of Biscay, we had scarcely occasion for even double reefed top-sails during the whole voyage, so that it was more like a pleasure sail than anything else. Lieutenant Breton says, in like manner, of the voyage to Australia, which is the same as to New Zealand, with the exception of the last thousand miles, after passing Van Diemen’s Land,—“I have been twice to New Holland, and a friend of mine four times, without having experienced aught resembling a gale of wind.” Mr. Waugh, of Edinburgh, says, “It is as pleasant a life on board as one can desire; there is so much to be seen every day, between flying fish, porpoises, sharks, whales, albatroses, &c. that one can hardly settle to any thing.”
Nothing appeared to me so grand as to see the ship dashing through the waves, particularly on a fine moon-light night, and oft have I remained on the poop for hours, admiring the scene, and reflecting on Lord Byron’s beautiful description of the sensations which it produces:—
“Oh! who can tell save he whose soul hath tried,
And danc’d in triumph o’er the waters wide,
Th’ exulting sense, the pulse’s madd’ning play,
That thrills the wand’rer on that stormy way.”
Lord Byron, though accused of having been an infidel, has left upon record the following striking testimonial, if not to the truth, at least to the advantages of Christianity:—“Indisputably, the firm believers in the Gospel have a great advantage over all others, for this simple reason, that if true, they will have their reward hereafter; and if there be no hereafter, they can be but with the infidel in his eternal sleep; having had the assistance of an exalted hope through life, without subsequent disappointment.”
Including cabin, intermediate, and steerage passengers, there were about one hundred and fifty emigrants on board, including children. We had dancing occasionally during the early part of the voyage, and the Rev. Mr. M’Farlane gave prayers every night in the cabin, while the steerage passengers gave prayers among themselves. We, who were in the cabin, or cuddy, as it is generally called at sea, consisting of nineteen individuals,1 fared sumptuously everyday; a circumstance highly creditable not only to the New Zealand Company, but to the liberal captain of the ship, In fact, it may be said that we did little else but eat, drink, and sleep, during the whole voyage. We had four meals per day, and at dinner had always five or six dishes of fresh meat, with a carte blanche of claret and other wines, besides a dessert of fruit. The supply of fresh provisions necessary for the cabin passengers daily, and the intermediate passengers twice a-week, you may believe was very great. In addition to preserved meats, now so universally used at sea, we had on board sixty sheep, twenty-one pigs, and nine hundred head of poultry. Pigs thrive best at sea, as they make it a rule to be quite at home in every climate, from the equator to the pole; whether under the torrid or frigid zone, provided they get plenty to eat, but woe be to those who impose any restraint upon their appetites, as the noise of a hundred pigs is almost equal to that of a clap of thunder.
Talking of pigs, Mr. Dickens, in his late work on America, gives an amusing anecdote of one he met with in the streets of Washington. This pig had only one ear, having parted with the other to vagrant dogs, in the course of his city rambles, though he gets on very well without it. He had lost his tail in the same cause, but notwithstanding these severe losses, he leads a roving, gentlemanly kind of life. He leaves his lodgings at an early hour every morning, throws himself upon the town, gets through the day in a manner highly satisfactory to himself; and appears regularly at the door of his own house again at night. He is a free and easy, careless, indifferent kind of pig, having an extensive acquaintance among other pigs of the same character, whom he knows rather by sight than conversation, as he seldom troubles himself to stop and exchange civilities.
During the voyage, we had one marriage, one baptism, one birth, and one death. Those born at sea, whether of English, Scotch, or Irish parents, belong all by law to the parish of Stepney, in London, where their births ought to be registered, otherwise they have no parish to which they can legally apply for relief, should they come to require it; and no place where their names could be found, in the event of any succession opening up to them, a more agreeable event no doubt.
The death that occurred was that of a boy about ten years of age, the son of one of the emigrants. A funeral at sea is a very striking event. To consign a body to corruption, without pomp or ceremony, amidst the roaring of the waves, with nothing but the ocean for a grave, and nothing but a sheet for a coffin, is well calculated to excite a deep and solemn emotion. The pageantry that attends the funerals of the great in civilized countries, produces a very different effect. The splendid hearse drawn by six stately horses, richly caparisoned, and the lengthened train of carriages which follow in its rear, has more the appearance of a coronation procession than any thing else; and the gazing, the giddy, and the thoughtless multitude, are infinitely more taken up counting the number of the carriages, than in thinking of the lifeless body that is dragged along, now confined to its narrow house; which, having escaped from the turmoils and the vanities of the world, is about to find repose at last in the silence and in the solitude of the tomb; for
“How still and peaceful is the grave,
When life’s vain tumult’s past;
Th’ appointed house by heaven’s decree,
Receives us all at last.”
The fear of death, which pervades all mankind, arises from an illusion of the imagination, from changing places as it were with the dead body, and thinking and reasoning with our own living bodies. The same occurs every day in the common transactions of life. When a healthy young beggar, for instance, meets an elderly gentleman reclining in his carriage, he is apt to think how happy he must be riding about in this manner, with the additional advantage of having always plenty to eat. But the inmate of the carriage is perhaps suffering from disease, and having little or no appetite, is taking an airing in order to procure one; the chief difference betwixt the rich man and the beggar consisting, it is said, in the one being obliged to take exercise for an appetite for his food, and the other food for his appetite. But the sturdy beggar never thinks of this, transferring at once, in his imagination, his own healthy body into this gentleman’s diseased frame. Envy is the great bane of human enjoyment, and those who like this sturdy young beggar, are of an envious disposition, are always unhappy, as the happiness of others torments them nearly as much as their own misery.
Some, in like manner, envy those in fashionable life, who are constant attendants at court, mixing daily with kings and queens, princes and princesses, serene highnesses and royal highnesses, honourables and right honourables, and are apt to think how happy they must be moving in such a circle. But they don’t consider for a moment what little satisfaction all this imparts to the great, from their being accustomed to it. An eminent author has remarked, that few have such a contempt for courts as courtiers, for while the world thinks that it is something, they know it to be nothing. The justice of this remark is borne out by the aspect of the actors on that elevated platform of human life. I have witnessed hundreds going to court both here and in other countries, and their countenances were so beset with care, with thought, and with melancholy, that had I not observed that they were decked out with rubies and with diamonds; covered with gold and with silver; and clothed in purple and in fine raiment; I would actually have supposed that they had been going to a funeral, instead of a levee. Nothing in short, is so unsatisfactory to a well regulated mind, as an incessant round of gaiety and frivolity; and few are so unhappy in their solitary moments, as the votaries of an idle and fashionable life, notwithstanding all the splendour of their outward condition.
We sympathise with the dead, in like manner as we picture in our imagination how dreadful their situation must be, shut up in the bowels of the earth; no longer able to see the place where they dwelt when in the body, and to which they were so much attached, nor to visit those friends by whom they were so much beloved. Surely, we are apt to think, we cannot feel too much for those who have suffered so great a calamity. And the sad, the dismal reflection, that all we can do, and that all our love, and all the tears we pour forth, can yield no comfort unto them, tends only to aggravate our sense of their misery. But, most assuredly, the happiness of the dead is affected by none of these circumstances, nor is their profound repose disturbed by the thoughts of them. That solitude and misery which the fancy ascribes to their condition, arises from our consciousness of the change produced upon them by placing ourselves in their situation; transferring, as it were, our own living souls into their lifeless bodies, and then conceiving how dreadful our emotions would be. It is from this very illusion, no doubt, that the prospect of our own dissolution becomes so terrible, and that the very idea of those circumstances, which can undoubtedly give us no pain when dead, is so apt to make us unhappy when alive. Hence arises one of the most important principles of human nature—the dread of death, which, while it tends to poison the happiness of the individual, proves, at the same time, a powerful check to the injustice, the rapacity, and the wickedness of mankind. But to return to the voyage.
On the 16th of November we came in sight of Madeira, and entered the tropics on the 21st. The heat increased after this every day, till we passed the equator, or the line, as it is generally called at sea. For two or three weeks at that period, the thermometer ranged from 75 to 82 in the shade, and the nights, in particular, were very oppressive.
The commanding officer of our ship, Captain John Hemery, from the Island of Jersey, was a handsome young man of good address, and though said to be opulent, preferring a sea life to any other,—a singular choice I must admit. He had some faults, and who has not; but he was an excellent seaman; very sober and attentive to the duties of the ship, and a strict disciplinarian. He was disposed to be somewhat haughty in his deportment,—keeping very much aloof from us all; but this, I am inclined to think, arose, in a great measure, from the situation in which he found himself placed; and really, when we consider his youth, and the difficult part which he had to act, amidst the jarrings and quarrels that invariably occur in emigrant ships, I cannot help thinking that this feeling was highly commendable. Every Sunday when the weather permitted, we had divine service performed upon deck to the whole passengers and crew, by the Rev. Mr. M’Farlane. After service on the first Sunday, he distributed amongst us copies of a Pastoral Address by the Presbytery of Paisley, of which he had been a member, to the First Scottish Settlers of New Zealand, which concludes thus:—
“And now, dear countrymen, we sympathise with you in your feelings, which are no doubt tender, on leaving the land of your fathers, it may be for ever, and are persuaded that, as Scotsmen, you are not likely soon to forget your last view of its rocky shores, as these fade and disappear in the distant horizon. Other lands, rich and sunny though they be, will, to those of you who have reached maturity, still want the tender associations of early life, and the hallowed recollections of a Scottish Sabbath, with its simple but affecting accompaniments. We have no need to be ashamed of our common country, comparatively barren though it be, and however ungenial our climate. Scotland has proved the nurse of many adventurous sons, whose conduct in other parts of the world reflects honour on the land of their birth; and you will not forget that you, also, are now to be enrolled among her expatriated children, and that she expects you will be distinguished amongst the natives of other lands for your high moral bearing, your honest and persevering industry, and your habitual reverence for God, and the things of God.
“And now, brethren, we must bid you adieu! Our first meeting will probably be around the judgment seat of Christ; but then we will not be as now, in the attitude of addressing, and of being addressed; the world itself will then have passed away. —time will have ceased to be counted by the revolutions of seasons and of centuries—eternity will have begun—the sentence will then have gone forth:” “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
On the 10th of February, 1840, we came in sight of the middle island of New Zealand; and when coasting along its shores for nearly a hundred miles, were wonderfully struck with the enormous height of the ridge of snow-clad mountains, which, being near to the west coast, we had almost constantly in view. Matthew, in his work entitled “Emigration Fields,” in alluding to these, says, “the mountains themselves, the sublime southern Alps, more elevated than the highest of the Alps in Switzerland, upheaved from the depths of the great South Sea, in some places to more than three miles of altitude, and from their volcanic character, of the boldest and most abrupt outline, are perhaps unequalled in the world.”
The first place at which we landed was at D’Urville’s Island, on the west entry of Cook’s Straits; but not finding, as we had reason to expect, any of the Company’s officers to give us directions in regard to our future operations, we remained there only two hours. During that time, a family of natives paid us a visit in their canoes, the first we had seen, but a worse specimen of them cannot well be imagined. It was when off this Island that I composed the following poem, under these circumstances. Mr. M’Farlane offered a prize for the best poem, and though I believe that mine, upon the whole, was considered the best, yet our reverend friend contrived to keep the money in his own pocket in a very ingenious way; asserting that it did not come up to what, according to his views, a prize poem ought to be. But though rejected by this eminent divine, who must have been a bad judge of poetry, it does not follow that it must also be rejected by you.—
Scene—On board of the Bengal Merchant, at Ten o’Clock at night, off D’Urville’s Island, Cook’s Straits, New Zealand, on 11 February, 1840.
The bell tolls four, the knell of parting day,
The night watch sings “let lights extinguish’d be;”
Save where the cuddy darts its glimmering ray
The only light that now remains at sea.
No more the fiddlers play their wonted airs,
No more the dancers trip the highland fling;
No more the Doctor* banishes our cares,
With stories told amidst th’ accustom’d ring.
Oh sleep, thou harbinger of peace below,
Thou only refuge from the children’s scream;
Thou only leveller of friend and foe,
And emblem of thyself without a dream.+
The cry of water dealt with wine-like care,
Awakens those still lull’d in “Murphy’s” arms.
And chance of finding breakfast boards laid bare,
Soon rouses those quite dead to other charms.
Once more the hubbub on the deck is heard,
Once more the sextant fills the Captain’s hand;
Once more the gallant Lawyer# mounts his guard,
Prepar’d for fight in yonder savage land.
And now the Butcher takes his wonted stroll,
’Midst pigs and fowls that know full well his tread;
Or stopping, listens to some story droll,
Tho’ not before his num’rous flocks are fed.
And now the Doctor goes his daily round,
And feels the pulses of his children dear;
And tells them that the best relief is found
In soups and salts, and sicklike good old cheer.
At night we offer up our prayers sincere,
To him who doth the might deep command;
That he would bless the friends we’ve left so dear,
And guards us still through our adopted land.
And when the cry of “Land” was heard at last,
How eager all that land were to explore;
Though some shed tears on scenes for ever past,
Far, far away on Caledonia’s shores.
And now that we have plough’d the stormy deep,
And anchor’d safely on a foreign strand,
Let’s sing the praises of the gallant ship,
That’s wafted us unto this smiling land.
There is one thing connected with a sea life which I have seen noticed only by one author, and that is, the effect produced upon the temper,—those with good tempers on shore, becoming often irritable at sea. This author asserts, that too close a conjunction of human beings without relaxation, tends to beget selfishness; and states his conviction, that if twenty philosophers were shut up in one cabin during a six month’s voyage, they would all come to hate one another by the end of it.
On board of our ship we had one or two quarrels, but nothing compared to those that occurred in some of the others. On board of the Adelaide, in particular, they were so numerous, and of so deadly a character, that the ship actually put in at the Cape of Good Hope for no other purpose but to fight duels,—the captain himself being one of the number. One of the combatants, however, became so much alarmed for his personal safety, that, instead of appearing on the field of battle, he appeared in the courts of law; having applied to the authorities there to have the warriors apprehended, and bound over to keep the peace. This request having been granted, they were seized at an unexpected moment, namely, when attending a ball given at the Cape; being anxious, no doubt, to have a little more of the dance of life, before engaging in the dance of death. Captain Cole, an English gentleman, one of the trustees I appointed on leaving New Zealand, who was in that ship, informed me that some of the passengers actually carried loaded pistols in their pockets during part of the voyage, to be ready in case of an assault; a melancholy picture of the frailty of human nature.
We arrived at Port Nicholson in 113 days from Greenock; and though, after landing, we were exposed for a time to the hardships almost inseparable from a new country, and to which I formerly alluded; yet, when I reflected on the exemplary order and propriety I had witnessed on board of the ship which had conducted us in safety to the promised land, and on the devotional exercises in which we had been daily engaged, when crossing the mighty deep, I could not help considering this a favourable omen of our future prosperity, and offering up a prayer to the almighty disposer of all events, that he would bless us in this the land wherein we had come to dwell, as it is written in the 26th chapter of Genesis, he blessed Isaac of old, “And the Lord appeared unto Isaac and said, go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee and will bless thee.”
On first landing, I observed that I was rather more an object of attraction amongst the natives than most of my friends; and this, I afterwards discovered, arose from my size, as I then weighed fifteen stone, though the hot suns of Australia reduced me to thirteen within a twelvemonth afterwards. It was amusing to see the delight with which they gazed on me; and, when I walked along the beach, two of them, a young man and a young woman, insisted on accompanying me, and taking hold of my arm. Had I been twenty stone instead of fifteen, I actually believe they would have worshipped me as a deity. Previous to this I used sometimes to regret being so stout as I then was, but my New Zealand friends have thrown quite a new light upon the subject, and I readily bow to their authority, as they are well known to be people of taste in all matters of that sort. The Chinese, in like manner, consider those amongst the male sex the most handsome who are the most bulky, though they are no great admirers of fat women.
When searching for lodgings after leaving the vessel, I fortunately procured them in the hut or hotel of a countryman of my own, of the name of George Rose, from the county of Banff, in Scotland; who, in personal appearance, was a sort of giant, being six feet six in height.
George was living quietly in Sydney, when he got notice of the grand project of the colonization of New Zealand; and like a true Scotchman, never for one moment losing sight of the main chance, when he heard of lord’s sons, and of baronet’s sons, flocking there, he naturally considered that it would be a good field for his own operations, and that it was his duty to hasten to that land of promise, in order to do justice to himself by relieving the first settlers of every sixpence he could legitimately appropriate to his own use,—a praiseworthy act, no doubt, on his part. He had accordingly been there some months before us, in order that he might have a proper start.
When I waited on him, he received me very kindly, and told me that he would share with me what he had, and give me the best accommodation which his hotel afforded; though he confessed it was somewhat open, having neither door nor window, and admitting both wind and rain, and native dogs. He promised, however, to give me a whole bale of blankets to cover me at night, if I required them, as he had them for sale in his store, and they would be nothing the worse of it; and I daresay you will think that I was pretty well baled up, when I mention that I had no less than eight pair upon me, so that though the rain occasionally came through one or two of them, it never penetrated through the whole. George had neither a table nor a chair in his hotel; but as he kept a store, we converted an old tea-chest into a table, and an old soap-box into a chair; and one knife and fork served us both, as we used them alternately, or time about, as they say in Scotland. We contrived, however, to fare more sumptuously than most of our neighbours, and it arose from this, that in addition to mine host’s numerous other callings of store-keeper, publican, auctioneer, boat-builder, boat-hirer, hotel-keeper, commission-agent, &c. he added what, in a new colony, is more important than them all, namely, a butcher. To be sure there were nothing but pigs then to be had in the “earthly paradise” of the far famed Mr. Montefiore; but by putting two or three pigs’ heads into the pot at once, we had excellent Scotch broth every day, and George always treated me to a glass of brandy or hollands after dinner, in case the strong pork of New Zealand should disagree with my delicate stomach; so that, upon the whole, I rather got fat under my worthy landlord’s care. The only evil attending the butchering department of his extensive business, was that it attracted the native dogs during the night; as he brought whatever meat was unsold into the house, and the dogs crept through some of the holes in the hotel, in order to have a share of what was going. Instead, however, of blocking up the openings through which they entered, which he could have done in an hour, he had a loaded gun all night by his bed side, and kept up a sort of running fire upon them, which disturbed my sleep very much. I think he must have been a very bad marksman, as amidst all the platoons which he fired, I am not aware that a single individual amongst his uninvited guests suffered in the cause.
George had a young native, or Maori girl, for his housekeeper, whom he had engaged in some measure from necessity, and the necessity was this. When he first arrived, there were only five or six English at Port Nicholson, and one of the tribes politely waited upon him, and recommended him, for his own comfort as well as safety, to take one of their young women to live with him; and George, having a great dislike to the extremely ungentlemanly habit they had fallen into of eating people up, at once agreed to do so. This girl made the broth for us every day, and did all the work about the house; and a more quiet, inoffensive, hardworking, and obliging creature, I never saw. When any of her tribe happened to pass, they generally called to pay their respects to her, and George got potatoes from them at a cheap rate, which he generally contrived to sell to his more wealthy customers at the extremely moderate profit of cent. per cent.
The honour of having discovered New Zealand belongs to Tasman, a celebrated Dutch navigator, who after discovering Van Diemen’s Land, called also Tasmania after him, proceeded northward in search of wood and water; and on the 18th of December, 1642, stood in to a bay at the south west entry of Cook’s Straits, now called Tasman’s Gulf, where the settlement of Nelson has been lately placed. Instead however, of getting a supply of these useful and necessary articles, which, had he been allowed to land, he would have got in abundance, these being, in my opinion, the two staple commodities of that country, the boats he sent on shore were attacked by the natives, and four of his seamen killed, so that they were unable to land at all. He called the bay “Massacre Bay,” in memory of his four unfortunate seamen, and the country Staaten Land, which was afterwards changed to Nova Zealandia, or New Zealand, Zealand being one of the provinces of Holland.
Captain Cook, accompanied by the celebrated Sir Joseph Banks, and Dr. Solander, landed at Poverty Bay, in New Zealand, on the 8th of October, 1769, and is said to have been the first European who ever set foot on these much dreaded shores. He afterwards circumnavigated and surveyed the whole of it, and took possession of it, with the usual formalities, on behalf of the king of Great Britain, as he considered it well adapted for a British colony, and recommended it for that purpose, though his recommendation led to no practical result. In the Parliamentary debates that took place about the year 1785, which led to the selection of Botany Bay for a penal settlement, as Captain Cook had also recommended, the attention of the House of Commons was called to New Zealand, as a country adapted for that purpose, but the dread in which it was then held for its cannibalism, overpowered every argument that could be adduced in its favour.
In the year 1814, that benevolent individual, the late Rev. Samuel Marsden, senior chaplain of Australia, though suffering from age and infirmity, forsook the comforts of his home, and sailed from Sydney to New Zealand, with a few followers or missionaries, and laid the foundation of the Church of England Mission at the Bay of Islands, and they thus became the first European settlers in that country, with the exception of two convicts who had fled from New South Wales, and were found in a wretched state, as the captain having told the New Zealanders that they were thieves, they declared that if they did not work neither should they eat. The object of this first mission however, was evidently not so much for the purpose of instructing the cannibals in the sublime doctrines of Christianity, as of introducing amongst them the useful arts, and, in time, if they succeeded, and were not devoured, of relieving them perhaps of some of their land, a very laudable object no doubt. These missionaries accordingly, and those who afterwards joined them, consisted chiefly of carpenters, boat-builders, blacksmiths, &c. who, in fact, seem to have had no other object in view but to make as much money, in their different callings, as they possibly could; and so indefatigable were they in this their favourite pursuit, that they contrived in a short time to monopolize almost all the land in that part of New Zealand that was worth having; so that their earthly mission, at all events, was a very successful one.
When the Rev. Dr. Lang of Sydney, landed at the Bay of Islands in 1839, on his way to this country, he was so much struck with the rapacity of these missionaries, that during his short stay there of only eight days, he contrived to collect so much information, both in regard to them, and the country in general, that he was enabled to publish a work on New Zealand shortly after his arrival in England; wherein he records the melancholy fact, that in their zeal for worldly aggrandizement, they had absolutely lost sight of their heavenly mission altogether. I should be sorry, however, to reflect so harshly on their conduct as he has done, as great allowance ought to be made for them, considering the difficulties and dangers they had to encounter; and, during the first years of the mission, their time was most successfully occupied in preventing the murderous conflicts among the different tribes—then of almost daily occurrence. While enriching themselves, moreover, they did good to the country in general; so that, while I feel disposed to give them credit for their usefulness, our reverend friend looks only to their rapacity. Captain Fitzroy of the Royal Navy, the present Governor of New Zealand, in his evidence before the House of Lords, says, “that they had the respect not only of the chiefs, but of all the settlers whose respect was worth having.”
Their settlement of Paihia, near Kororarika, at the Bay of Islands, presents the aspect of a beautiful English village; their houses being elegant and substantial, and the church large and well built, with a fine toned organ. They have another establishment at the “Waimate” or sick water, about thirteen miles in the interior, between the Bay of Islands and the great river Hokianga; where their numbers, including an unusual number of children, now amount to a 1000, including natives. The country all round that quarter is in their hands; their fields of corn and potatoes are very extensive, though chiefly cultivated for their own consumption; their rich pasture lands are covered with sheep and cattle, and a neat church, with a spire, adorns that favoured spot. At the head of the river Kerikeri, which empties itself into the Bay of Islands, they have a third station, where their principal storehouse is built—a strong mansion of two stories, with iron bars, in which all their merchandise is safely deposited.
The contrast betwixt the Church of England and the Wesleyan Missionaries is very striking, as the latter have neither land nor cattle, but devote themselves exclusively to the duties of their office. The first of the Wesleyan Mission stations was erected on the river Hokianga, on the west coast of New Zealand, and may be considered one of the most successful that perhaps ever emanated from that Christian and patriotic body. In a work, published in Sydney by an Englishman who had resided fourteen years in Hokianga, entitled “Important Information Relative to New Zealand,” the author says, “in this district may be traced the progress of man from his savage to his civilized state. It is a common sight to see, on the Saturday evening, thirty or forty canoes approaching the mission station, each manned with from ten to thirty natives, nearly all clad in European costume, and quietly encamping on the beach to await the approaching Sabbath; and their numbers frequently amount to 500, attending the ordinances of religion, and conducting themselves with the utmost decorum. The change in their habits is not the less surprising; for whilst those who have not embraced Christianity, are found in their native costumes—the mat or the blanket, with their provision grounds cultivated in the most slovenly manner, and their overruling passion war; the native christians, on the contrary, are seen betaking themselves to those useful and profitable employments which the wants of civilized life create; so that you may every day see the Christian native chief of the highest rank, on a saw-pit with one of his people, working at this laborious employment.” Some of our Highland chieftains, with whom these New Zealand chieftains are sometimes compared, would perhaps be surprised at finding their distinguished allies working in a saw-pit; but a chieftain who can saw a good log of Kauri pine must be considered a most useful member of society; and though no great adepts, like some of our chieftains, in that elegant accomplishment fox-hunting, yet that sensible cunning animal the fox, would probably rather meet them at the saw-pit than on the turf.
These Wesleyan missionaries are fully as zealous in their heavenly mission as the Church of England missionaries are in their earthly mission, and a greater compliment than that it is impossible to pay them. The late Rev. Mr. Waterhouse, Superintendent-General of the Wesleyan Missionary Church in Australia and Polynesia, made an excursion in 1841, through the greater part of his territories, which lasted eleven months. After visiting Sydney and Parramatta, he sailed to New Zealand; and from thence to the Friendly Islands, lying about a thousand miles to the north, so called by Captain Cook, in consequence of the friendship he found subsisting among themselves, as well as their hospitality to strangers. He next proceeded to the Sandwich Islands, in one of which, viz. Owyhee, that illustrious navigator was killed by the natives in 1779,—and in these islands the greater part of the inhabitants have now embraced Christianity. But the greatest change of all he found had taken place in a cluster of islands called the Feejee or Fijee Islands, the natives of which were the greatest cannibals in the known world, infinitely worse than the New Zealanders, but are gradually becoming changed by the force of religious instruction. In one of them Mr. Waterhouse met a king, who was also a giant, standing seven feet and a half in height, and well proportioned. Amongst his various other qualifications he seems to have been an ardent admirer of female charms, having a seraglio of no less than thirty women, an establishment which, even in that remote part of the world, must be considered no contemptible rival of that of the Grand Sultan at Constantinople. In some of these islands, and particularly in the celebrated island of Otaheite, the black queen of which has taken a great fancy to be placed under the protection of her cousin the white queen of England, long nails on the fingers are reckoned a mark of distinction, as they imply that none but those who have no occasion to work could allow them to grow to that length. In some of them also, the unmarried women have the privilege of paying their addresses to the men,—an admirable custom, well worthy of being introduced here.
When it was found that the Church of England missionaries were permitted to live in perfect security, and were not devoured, other Europeans soon began to settle there, and it gradually became a place of so much resort, that a desire to emigrate to it became prevalent, which led ultimately to the formation of the New Zealand Company in 1839, and shortly thereafter to its public recognition by the Queen of England as another colony to be added to her vast dominions, on which it is said the sun never sets, as when setting on one part he is rising on another.
1 Their names were Dr. and Mrs. Logan; Mr. Mrs, and Miss Strang; Mr. and Mrs. D’Orsey; Mr. and Mrs. Hay; Rev. Mr. M’Farlane; two brothers named Carruth; Dr Graham Tod, and his brother; Mr. Anderson; Mr. Buchanan; Mr. Wallace; Mr. Yule, and the Author. These with our hospitable Captain, and Mr. Bradley, the second mate, a gentlemanly young man, formed our daily circle at the dinner-table.
+ The Emperor Napoleon compared death to sleep without a dream.