Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872–1914
7. Blanche Baughan's Spiritual Nationalism
7. Blanche Baughan's Spiritual Nationalism
It is a Convention Both kind and practical that prime ministers are given safe seats to contest in general elections. With so much at stake nationally, they should not be asked to spend too much energy on the local and the particular. In the 1949 campaign Peter Fraser felt almost entirely assured in his personal contest for the seat of Brooklyn in Wellington. Although his opponent, Berta Burns, was an experienced member of the National Party, and was one of the first women to chair an electoral committee, she was not considered a serious threat.1 It was therefore a little unnecessary and unchivalrous for Fraser to bring to the attention of the electorate her alter ego, the Egyptian spirit guide Zara, through whose powers she was in the habit of painting pictures; in 1924 Burns had organised an exhibition of psychic art in Auckland, and in 1939 the Academy of Fine Arts had shown several of Zara's works.2
Burns's manifestation as Zara and her involvement in organisations such as the Psychic Research Society and the Vedanta Society seem now an anomaly in a career otherwise rooted in the pragmatic. But although, by the Second World War, Zara the Egyptian and her fellows were perhaps looking a little dated (hence Fraser's mockery), Burns's ability to combine such sets of belief was not unusual. She stood, she stated during the campaign, for those 'who believe in a spiritual approach to life, as opposed to atheistic materialism'.3 That she had a constituency points to the importance and mainstream respectability of alternative occultist and spiritualist forms of belief in late colonial and early twentieth-century New Zealand, as well as in the rest of the empire and in North America. 'Wandering between two worlds, one dead, / The other powerless to be born' was the condition of the doubting Victorian, for whom the certainties of Christianity wavered: page 202it is also redolent of the colonial, separated from the structures of home, intent on settler world-building, a project forever interim: as Burns's great friend and mentor, Blanche Baughan, Maoriland poet, short story writer, nascent novelist, mystic and social reformer puts it in her 1908 poem, 'A Bush Section', it is a world which is, in both senses, spiritual and material, '[m]ade, unmade, and scarcely as yet in the making'.
That the materialism and pragmatism of the colonial New Zealander was consistent with what would now be described as alternative forms of belief is not in fact contradictory. Movements such as spiritualism, theosophy, an interest in eastern religion and the occult represented themselves as based on scientific and rational principles. With institutional religion made increasingly defensive by the stringencies of the Darwinian world view, organisations such as the Psychic Society existed to test and prove to the rational world the existence of 'the other side', a location consistent with the latest discoveries of science and modernity. Such organisations flourished in colonial New Zealand. An early member of the Theosophical Society in the 1880s was the then prime minister, Sir Harry Atkinson, and later premiers Sir Robert Stout and John Ballance shared rationalist and Masonic beliefs. Stout's wife, Anna, a friend of Blanche Baughan and Berta Burns and a founding member of the National Council of Women, was the daughter of John Logan, tried and excommunicated from the Knox Presbyterian Church in Dunedin for spiritualist practices. Her mother was a celebrated medium.4 Far from being isolated by geography, New Zealand was part of a lecture circuit of alternative religious movements, and was visited regularly by notable figures from Britain and North America. Emma Hardinge Britten, a cofounder with Madame Blavatsky of the Theosophical movement, who visited New Zealand in 1879, devoted a chapter of her 1884 work Nineteenth Century Miracles to the spiritual life of the colony.5 She was particularly interested in Maori shamanism — in local spiritualist writing, Maori often substitute for the more conventional Native American spirit guides. Annie Besant toured in 1894, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and energetic proponent of spiritualism, visited in bodily form in 1920, and less tangibly just after his death in 1930 through the mediumship of Mrs H. S. Cottrell of Napier.
Movements such as the Vedanta Society, to which Baughan and Burns belonged,6 proposed metaphysical, ethical and interpretive page 203models for existence not contingent on the implicitly colonial cultural models suggested by conventional institutional religion. At the same time, the scholarly interest in mythologies, and its popularisation in New Zealand by writers such as Sir George Grey, Edward Tregear and Jessie Mackay, introduced a relativism into religious debate, a sense of the Bible as one among many sacred texts. In the local setting, this had two effects: it created at least the possibility of a view of Maori belief systems which could be respectful and dispassionate in a scholarly sense; and it undermined the certainties of the colonial settler rhetoric, in ways that could be disquieting but productive. If the experience of immigration and settlement meant for the immigrant a re-visioning, or remaking of all modes of existence — geographical, social, cultural and metaphysical — then the alternative belief systems of the late nineteenth century contributed to and enabled this process by providing a vocabulary of uncertainty, and a set of intellectual and literary structures through which that uncertainty could be contextualised and textualised.
I was swept up and out of myself altogether into a flood of White Glory. I had no sense of time or place. The ecstasy was terrifying while it lasted. It could have lasted only a minute or two. It went as suddenly as it came. I found myself bathed with tears, but they were tears of joy. I felt one with everything and everybody, and somehow I knew that what I had experienced was Reality and that Reality is perfection.7
Writing sometime later, she adds, 'no words seem to me able to convey a thousandth part of the depth and reality of that experience, even so far as my own taste of it has gone. I fancy all one's normal faculties are first fused and then transcended.'
Mysticism is a social and cultural phenomenon as much as a spiritual one: the Indian critic Gauri Viswanathan suggests that the experience of conversion — and in some sense this is what happened to Baughan on page 204Long Lookout — is a key indicator of cultural shift.8 Although mysticism and late colonial New Zealand are not conventionally associated, it is interesting to see what happens to our reading of late colonial texts if we move Baughan's mystical experience to the interpretive centre, and read her career as a New Zealand writer in terms of it, rather than seeing such matters as irrelevant to questions of postcoloniality and embarrassingly outside the normal areas of critical inquiry. In the same way, Mansfield's death at Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man has generally been treated as a final embarrassing display of instability rather than a move which made perfect sense in the intellectual and cultural milieu of her time.9
There are a number of ways in which Baughan's vision can be read. The purely personal and biographical could be a starting point: Baughan's maternal grandfather had been an inmate of Broadmoor, the English asylum for the criminally insane, for most of his life, and when Baughan was ten years old her mother attacked her father in a fit of homicidal mania. She was judged insane, and Baughan and her sisters looked after her until her death in 1900. The fearful fascination of the Victorian age with madness was a private and unexpressed part of Baughan's adulthood. Her 'progressive' interest in birth control, eugenics and the responsibilities of heredity were connected to this personal history, as was her refusal to marry. Was the ecstasy on Long Lookout the sinister emergence of her family history of instability? Did she see it as such? Was her insistence on the benevolent nature of its message a way of warding off a deterministic family teleology?
Inevitably, the personal exists within a wider framework. Baughan's experience at Long Lookout occurred in the context of the nineteenth-century crisis of faith and religious doubt, the slow withdrawal of Arnold's 'sea of faith'. In her 1913 short story, 'An Active Family', Baughan writes, 'Church and chapel, that immemorial "way-out" from mere existence to so many of our labouring forefathers, mean (whatever the reason; I do but state the fact) very little to our younger generation.'10 In this light, Long Lookout presents a dramatically envisioned alternative to the narrow and stale restrictions of Baughan's childhood Anglicanism. In her 1898 volume, Verses, published before she left England, Baughan expresses a widely felt dissatisfaction with existing religious forms:page 205
The people bent above their books,
And sweetly pray'd the priest,
My heart stay'd frozen by their fire,
And fasted at their feast.
But where the lonely breezes blow
Above the lonely sod,
Where mountain-heads are hid in mist,
My heart was hid with God.11
The problem is not of belief, but of form and access. The mode of escape, which the second stanza of the poem identifies with the natural rather than the acculturated world, the conflation of that landscape with mystical union — 'My heart was hid with God' — suggest Victorian refractions of Romanticism and the Wordsworthian sublime as found in the works of John Ruskin. Baughan read Ruskin — according to family tradition she visited him at Brantwood,12 though this must have been during his Alzheimic dotage. Ruskin felt the dissonance between his faith as an Anglican and the new scientific discoveries of the Victorian age acutely: 'If only the Geologists would let me alone,' he wrote, 'I could do very well, but those dreadful Hammers! I hear the clink of them at the end of every cadence of the Bible verses.'13 When his love, Rose La Touche, died in 1875, he attempted to contact her through seances and mediums.
To Maoriland writing, however, Ruskin was chiefly important as a theorist of natural beauty. Baughan, along with many New Zealand writers of the period (whose bad poems about Mount Cook would fill several volumes), took from him a belief in the sublimity of the mountain landscape. 'Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery', he states in Modern Painters. 'I find the increase in the calculable sum of elements of beauty to be steadily in proportion to the increase of mountainous character.'14 Aesthetic response is thus rational and scientifically 'calculable' not, as for earlier Romantic writers such as Wordsworth, a privilege afforded to the poet or seer. It can thus be universalised, institutionalised and, in the settler context, written into the national literature. Mountains and scenery for Ruskin contain a moral lesson: they are 'invariably calculated [that exact word again] for the delight, for the advantage, or the teaching of men; prepared it seems page 206so as to contain, alike in fortitude and feebleness, in kindliness or terror, some beneficence or gift, or profoundness of counsel'.15 More is involved here than the idea of the picturesque advanced by eighteenth-century theorists like William Gilpin.16 By the Maoriland period this conception of the natural world was dated, superseded by the awful anarchies of the Romantic landscape, and modified by the more carefully modernised and theorised sensibility of Ruskin. The superficiality and, in particular, the social amorality of the picturesque is a subject Ruskin emphasises in Modern Painters: 'At the turn of the brook I see a man fishing,' he wrote, 'with a boy and a dog — a picturesque and pretty group enough, certainly, if they had not been there all day starving'.17
Ruskin taught Baughan to see landscape in painterly, constructed terms. In her 1913 guidebook, Forest and Ice, she describes the Franz Joseph glacier: 'For all the outlook here is upon rock and snow, under an opened sky; a vast picture painted from a simple palette, grey, white, blue — but deep blue, pure white, grand grey.'18 In the short story, 'The Mountain Track', she tells her readers:
Look, for example, at yonder gully-side — see the pictures forming and flying along it. The wind is their painter, the sun and the clouds are his palette, and with brushfuls of shadow and shine he is creating a moving pageant as heterogeneous as the contents of a child's fancy.19
But some adjustment is necessary. Ruskin's standard is that of Europe: in The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849), discussing the pathetic fallacy, he refers to the un-European landscape disparagingly, to emphasise its remoteness and absence of intrinsic meaning. John Newton identifies a key expression of this view. Ruskin writes:
It would be difficult to conceive a scene less dependent upon any other interest than that of its own secluded and serious beauty; but the writer well remembers the sudden blankness and chill which were cast upon it when he endeavoured, in order more strictly to arrive at the sources of its impressiveness, to imagine it, for a moment, a scene in some aboriginal forest of the New Continent. The flowers in an instant lost their light, the river its music; the hills became oppressively desolate; a heaviness in the page 207boughs of the darkened forest showed how much of their former power had been dependent upon a life which was not theirs, how much of the glory of the imperishable, or continually renewed, creation is reflected from things more precious in their memories than it, in its renewing. Those ever springing flowers and ever flowing streams had been dyed by the deep colours of human endurance, valour and virtue; and the crests of the sable hills that rose against the evening sky received a deeper worship, because their far shadows fell eastward over the iron wall of Joux, and the four-square keep of Granson.20
We, the readers, inscribe meaning in what is familiar, Ruskin suggests. Where there is no association, no history, there is no content. It is a problem that colonial writers are highly conscious of, and solve — apologetically and assertively — in a number of often contradictory ways. The New Zealand landscape, Baughan states, is quite unlike any other by virtue of superiority, 'one of the purest places of old Earth; with a life of its own, no doubt, but one quite free from the accompaniments of life as we know it', free from 'the stain and the strain' of the old world.21 But New Zealand is also a memorialising recreation of Europe: at one moment 'something like the Lauterbrünnen Thal', it also possesses 'the tropic light, jungle luxuriance, the snows of Switzerland, the safety of England — here they all are at once.'22 Her short story, 'The Mountain Track', is clotted with references back to the centre: the New Zealand landscape has 'the charm of Italy' and 'something alp-like and Swiss';23 the pasture is suggestive of Walt Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass' and the birdsong reminiscent of Shelley's skylark. Yet despite the insistence on familiarity, the story told is one of maladaptation: Joel and Eva, from England, are unsuitable settlers and cannot take their place in this landscape. Joel drinks and Eva goes into a lonely decline when their daughter dies in an accident. To write the landscape in terms of European high culture produces an edgy dissonance when colonial actors are placed within it. Although Baughan quotes the poetry of Jessie Mackay in her travel guide The Finest Walk in the World,24 the means to local literary denotation is as yet uncertain and insufficiently authoritative.
Ruskin's European landscapes are, of course, populated: 'the deep colours of human endurance, valour and virtue' are part of their page 208appearance. For the Maoriland writers, as Joel and Eva indicate, mountain scenery is most satisfactory when empty. Its transcendent beauty nullifies the problem of Ruskin's 'blankness and chill'. But sometimes — and Maoriland writing is characteristically contradictory in this regard — the mountains are underwritten with an awareness of the indigenous inhabitants, generally, in keeping with the heightened tone of the language, represented as ghostlike, inhabiting archaic space. Baughan's poem 'Maui's Fish', from her 1908 collection Shingle-Short and other Verses, uses heroic diction — a kind of imperial orientalism — to give her characters a mannered dignity with which to match and enhance the splendour of the mountain landscape described:
'Tongariro! O Taranaki,
Your splendour! your shooting of spear-points, keen, sea-wet, to the sun!
Ruapehu, Kaikoura, Aorangi, Tara-rua, long armed Ruahine! —
Midsummer clouds curling luminous up from the sky-line:
Far-fallen islands of light, summon'd back to the sun:
Soaring Kahawai-birds —
How ye soar'd, shining pinions! Straight into the heaven high above you:
How ye shot up, bright Surprises! seizing, possessing the sky:
How firm, great white Clouds, ye took seat!25
Particular places were credited with special concentrations of this mythic force in Maoriland writing: the Urewera, for example, or the Whanganui River. According to Baughan's 1913 guidebook, A River of Pictures and Peace, the modern tourist, if sensitive and aware, can access the landscape's past:
… through mollifying mists of imagination, you see it once again the highway of a primitive people … catch sight of the crimson and carving of a war-canoe reflected in some glassy reach, and hear the splash of its hundred paddles.26
In Maoriland, the landscape is both peopled and empty — peopled by the ghosts of Maori, emptied of their actual presence as they are figured in terms of the 'dying race' topos. 'There isn't a Maori left in page 209the Bay now, as you know,' says the old woman in Baughan's short story, 'Grandmother Speaks', ' — not a full blooded one. Some they went to the North Island; most is dead … well, well!'27 The land is thus simultaneously mythicised and made available for settlement. Two different landscapes — present and past, settler and (historic, archaic) Maori — sit side by side.
Between the publication of Verses in 1898 and her collection Shingle-Short in 1908, Baughan's mother died, Baughan went on an extended voyage,28 and finally emigrated to New Zealand. She took with her the language of sublimity — lonely breezes, mountain heads hid in mist — no longer entirely adequate to her surroundings, which were more obtrusively real than the aestheticised landscape of the European model, less fixed and iconographic. The colonial landscape with which she was now constrained to work was not only disconcertingly strange but was also in the process of being reformed as the settlers burnt the bush and sowed pasture. In her short story, 'An Early Morning Walk', Baughan describes the refiguring of the physical that the modern colonial project entails:
Beyond this cottage Millicent found herself between wide, bare paddocks, simply divided off from the road by fences of barbed wire. Just as far as ever she could see, the land between her and that mountain distance still beckoning ahead was all one huge ocean of naked grass country, running up into lumpy ridges, traversed by sharp-lipped gullies, and everywhere, alas! strewn with the unsightly remains of burnt Bush. Here and there, it is true, a clump of native trees might yet be seen; but even these were doomed, for Bush trees are gregarious, and will not long continue to survive without the shelter of their fellows; and for inches of such verdure there were acres and acres of the barren devastation. The great half-burnt skeletons of the forest, grey and black and bleached and piebald, stood gauntly up, as though in mute protest, from tawny hillside and green flat. They were splintered and shattered; at their feet lay multitudes of their brethren — enormous rotting logs, and the mouldering black stumps from which they had been severed; and it was only a question of time before they too would rest their ruins on the ground.29
Poetic language tends to be conservative, and slips easily into what it knows and what is comfortable. To describe the transition of the landscape — from exotic forest to productive pasture — the colonial poet has to restructure familiar language. It is interesting that few choose to write about this moment of remaking. Most are happier with either native forest, often nostalgically configured in terms of a past which is lost, or with Arcadian pastoral of a distinctly European flavour. Baughan's 1908 poem, 'A Bush Section', is set at the exact point where the old has been obliterated and the new not yet risen. The fragmentation of the landscape is evoked by the disintegration of poetic diction:
Logs, at the door, by the fence; logs, broadcast over the paddock;
Sprawling in motionless thousands away down the green of the gully,
Logs, grey-black. And the opposite rampart of ridges
Bristles against the sky, all the tawny, tumultuous landscape
Is stuck, and prickled, and spiked with the standing black and grey splinters,
Strewn, over its hollows and hills, with the long, prone, grey-black logs.30
The transitional nature of the setting is emphasised:
The green Bush departed, green Clearing is not yet come.
'Tis a silent, skeleton world;
Dead, and not yet re-born,
Made, unmade, and scarcely as yet in the making;
Ruin'd, forlorn, and blank.
In this limbo is 'a raw little farm on the edge of the desolate hillside', the home of 'Little Thor Rayden, the twice-orphaned son of a drunkard', a child who is only able to see his surroundings in terms of a limited and impoverished range of figurative language:
The sky is a wide black paddock, without any fences,
The Stars are its shining logs;
Here, sparse and single, but yonder, as logg'd up for burning
Close in a cluster of light.
The strangeness of this image reflects the paucity of expression available to the child, and to the colonial poet. Baughan even at this early stage is conscious of the need for a national literary discourse with a range of imagery of its own. The clumsiness and inappropriateness of the image of stars as logs in a burnt-out paddock is overt and challenging. To describe a new land is difficult, unless you simply replant the literary discourse of the old. Realising the danger, Baughan goes for empty waste. Her world is largely silent, stuck between acculturation and language. The only direct speech in her poem is that of the morepork, which calls to the child in, significantly, the Maori language: 'Kia toa!'31
Baughan's poem is thus complex, grimly realistic about the landscape and its changes, and seemingly less than optimistic about the future. But 'A Bush Section' comes to a conclusion that is conservative and conventional, with a denial of the land's past and a privileging of the colonising project: 'Green Bush to the Moa, Burnt Bush to the resolute Settler!' The primeval landscape belongs to an extinct past. The landscape will be remade in the future by the will of the pioneers; this future means the artificial creation of a European landscape and the formation of a European culture. The form of Baughan's poem is thus at odds with its message: the poem has sprawl, energy and freedom, all of which both energise and undermine the predictive tenor of the verse. Gone is the formal regularity of verse and metre of her early works, the conventional markers of textualised landscape, the confident resolution. In a letter written at this time to the Australian writer, Nettie Palmer (then Miss Higgins), she expresses a dislike of formal constraint:
About the 'artificial' forms of verse — I once tried a daily ballade, but that's all — I love not the form that keeps continually demanding attention. Even a sonnet is apt to trouble my ear in the 5th line — I always smell the necessity of the rhyme & it makes me feel inclined to snort and say 'Pooh, you affected thing!' … If one must write either Rondels or Whitmanic chants, give me the latter! but, for choice, something somewhere in between. 32
The reference to Walt Whitman is significant, as is her choice of correspondent, an Australian writer.33 To use Tony Ballantyne's terms, Baughan's points of literary orientation are not English, and only page 212imperial in a horizontal rather than a vertical sense. In this, she is less colonial than the Scottish nationalist Jessie Mackay, whose literary fealty nonetheless drifts back towards the imperial centre. 'A Bush Section' resembles Whitman, especially his 1881 poem 'Pioneers! O Pioneers!', which celebrates the opening out of the American West and the heroism that it entailed:
We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we, and piercing deep the mines within;
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil
upheaving, Pioneers! O Pioneers!34
American writers of the West provided Maoriland writers with a model for a celebration of settlement heroics which sidestepped the imperial hierarchies of the British canon, while allowing a range of appropriate tropes such as land clearance, the civilising of empty cultural space, the enactment of Arcadian simplicities and, to a certain extent, conflict with indigenous savages. While the actual move West had been completed by mid-century, the literary narratives that celebrate it, such as Owen Wister's The Virginian (1902), are an invention of the turn of the twentieth century, 'a popular version of high culture's yearning for the authentic and the strenuous life … countering the inwardness, spirituality and domesticity of the dominant (female) sentimental literature'.35 In the same way, Maoriland writers like Baughan are not settlers, although they may figure themselves as such in their work. Two generations have elapsed since the founding of the colony, yet their writing represents itself as a personally authenticated account of the early days of settlement, seen as exaggeratedly distant and as a cause for nostalgia, providing, like the American West, a past which can be employed to interpret, justify and at times castigate the present.
Baughan's 1912 short story collection, Brown Bread from a Colonial Oven, Being Sketches of Up-Country Life in New Zealand, presents itself as such a record. As she states in the introduction:
The reason why I want to put into book form efforts so fugitive and meagre is, that, with all their faults, they do yet seem to me honestly to delineate in some degree a phase of New Zealand page 213life that is already passing, and that, in so far at least as I have been able to gather, lacks not only an abler chronicler, but any chronicler at all. Young things alter very quickly; the lapse of five years, even, can render unrecognisable one of our Bush settlements; and, what with roading and bridging, telephones and motorcars, movable wash-tubs, and acetylene gas, the rate of our up-country progress is becoming in these days so rapid that it is quite doubtful whether in another twenty years there will be left so much as one Colonial oven for a batch of brown bread to come out of.36
One of the central tenets of the collection is the heroism and suffering of the early settlers: 'In them days it was just as bad as dyin', in one way, to come out to the Colonies,' says the old woman in 'Grandmother Speaks', 'For you left all your friends behind you, an' you knew you could never get back no more for to see 'em'.37 The stories emphasise the insecurity of acculturated, domestic space — 'a one-roomed hut at this God-forsaken last end o' nowhere' — which is represented as being no match for the masculine and unsocialised environment outside: the bush, the 'sawpit fellows', the Maori. In this story, the pub or shanty, a focus of violence and anarchy, is called 'the Old House at Home'. Baughan thus suggests not only the nostalgic recreation by the patrons of their English local ('Home') but also a cynical appropriation of the domestic, feminine meanings of both terms, as the shanty competes with the squalor and discomfort of the settlers' homes. As with many of Baughan's stories, 'Grandmother Speaks' is located at a moment of change: 'By that time… the most o' the big timber was down, an' the settlers were beginnin' for to settle straight.'38 As a symbol of this shift from 'Old New Zealand' to successfully settled colony, the speaker's mother burns down the shanty and its replacement, and the settlement is won for the values of the modern, the female and the domestic. The conclusion of the story points to a time when 'the women can have their washin' machines an' their sewin' machines, an' stoves — yes, an' their pianos, too.'39 In the story 'Red and Yellow and Ripe' change is configured as positive and inevitable:
Things does change to you so, an' you do change so to things.
There was a friend o' mine, an' she went back 'Ome after thretty page 214year way, an' they'd changed, an' she'd changed, an' there wasn't one soul of'em all as knew 'er, nor yet 'er a soul, excep' — who d'ye think? the village loony! He hadn't changed, d' ye see, neither in his looks not yet 'is outlooks, 'cause 'e hadn't never growed on…. Only the dead as doesn't change — an' the loonies.40
These stories apply this sense of change to Maori as well as Pakeha. In 'Aboard a Coasting Schooner' the narrator considers the pa at Te Kaha as 'no bad type of the native race in its present transitional condition; for its roof was of grey galvanised iron, while the barge-boards of its deep eaves were richly carved with the characteristic Maori patterns'. Inside 'there are incongruous traces of the pakeha. Between two of the panels, there hung a Graphic picture of one "Adeliza", highly coloured, golden-tressed, low-bodiced, very tight-laced'.41 Against this romantic and unreadable image of European beauty, Maori are described approvingly as possessing a kind of adaptive hybridity: 'Tall well-built men (the Maori of this district is among the finest of his race), all in European dress; women in loose fluttering garments of indigo, pink or white, with the blue tattoo (is it really not rather becoming?) beneath the lower lip.'42 Their manners are suggestive of a natural gentility which shows up Pakeha pretension. Maori are seen as colourful, exotic and picturesque, able to evoke simultaneously a sense of both the 'primitive' past and an engagement in the present:
The sight of all these brown, bright-eyed faces waiting beside the surf carried one's fancy clean back to the days of Captain Cook; and nothing, at a little distance, was easier than to imagine ourselves the original pakeha explorers of this shore. But the moment we landed, yesterday took to its heels, and pale fancy proved nothing of a rival to robust reality — robust and lively!43
This is the counter-narrative to the 'dying race' topos. The Maori are happy, healthy and busily engaged not just in traditional occupations — which have value through their picturesque, decorative aspects — but in the modern world of commerce. Colonisation has thus been for them, the narrative implies, highly advantageous. The archaic carving is still there on the pa to be admired by the visitor, but the modern galvanised iron roof stops the rain getting in: a perfect fusion of both worlds, page 215beneficial to each. But Maoriland writers are unwilling completely to relinquish the other, darker version of the narrative of colonisation, and Maoriland texts often slither between two positions. There are many empty, deserted or depopulated pa in Brown Bread. Among the energy and bustle of Te Kaha, there is a memento mori of another way the story could be told, a more realist version of the dying race. An old Maori man with tuberculosis 'gazed wistfully … not at the bounty-bearing [schooner] Tikirau, but away out over the empty sea to the void horizon — and beyond. Still in life, already he was not of it.'44
Baughan's short story 'Pipi on the Prowl', from the same 1912 collection, picks up this bleak view of the price of adaptation, coupled with a more reproving stance of the limited capacity of Maori society to make a shift from archaic to modern. Pipi is an old Maori woman who spends a day free of the normal control her delinquent nature demands. Her name conveys both indigeneity and infantilism. It is diminutive as well as alien. She is described as 'little', 'old', bundled' and 'hobbling', 'crippled', barely of this world in her 'mummy-like' aspect.45 Cunningly, her real nature is carefully hidden and indecipherable; she adopts a surface abjection to escape the surveillance of the respectable world, represented by her granddaughter Miria: 'Miria the decorous, Miria the pakeha coachman's wife, Miria who wore tan shoes.'46 Miria has power in the colonial world through her marriage, although, as Pipi notes, it is the mimetic, circumscribed power of a 'slavish advocate and copyist'.47 Pipi, on the other hand, is 'from a princely race',48 but in the present she has the power for minor delinquency only. The text simultaneously hints at and ironises her claims to the heroic and archaic: 'She sat still and waited on her hill-top as her fathers had sat still on theirs, and waited for the prey.'49 There are intimations of inherent savagery when she calls an uncooperative Pakeha a 'boiled-headed slave'.50 Her indifference to the beauty of the landscape is emphasised, implying perhaps that she is thus undeserving of it, interested only in the murk of the river for whatever spoils she can scavenge. The only residual power Pipi now wields is that of language, the totemic naming of a limited and increasingly insignificant sphere of objects and actions. And she overestimates the currency of this in the modern environment. 'Not to speak the Maori tongue means not to read the Maori mind,' she reassures herself, as her prey moves into view: '[I]t is well known that pakehas have as a rule only pebbles in their eye-sockets — they see nothing; while their ears, on the other hand, are as page 216kokota shells, to hold whatever you please to put in.'51 But the victim she chooses is not a hapless innocent, but 'the pakeha lady who came to visit Mrs Cameron' and was 'always so interested in the natives',52 a woman who knows Miria, and, worse, is learning to speak Maori. Pipi's language is, in the modern setting, merely a commodity, and can be acquired by strangers, as it can be discarded by its original owners. The ethnological enthusiasms of the colonists disempower the objects of their study. The sympathy and complicity that the Pakeha woman displays at the conclusion of the story by no means negates her control of their meeting. Finally, Pipi is allowed to be roughish because it is charming, and allowed to be duplicitous because the Pakeha is not deceived.
… [t]he whole land now lies waiting for [Man's] work, and there is room in the landscape for imagination, just as there is room, too, for every ray, every modulation, of the light, and for the faithful reflection of every delicate interplay of shadow and shine.53
A landscape with this kind of 'room' is one where there are no conventions within which to write or represent it. The present is improvisational. Baughan suggests, in quintessential Ruskinian fashion that 'the picture, the real picture, lay still beyond — the unimpeded mountain view'. Sublimity, the mountains, the transcendent, convey page 217certainty. What is immediate is in flux, being burnt, resown, rewritten — all productive activities, if unstable.
whether such as Nance and her family, toiling thus, year in, year out, were not actually, that the farm, forsooth, might prosper, being starved in brain and soul; whether, in fact, they could be said truly to live at all?
For the narrator, the absence of a politicised tradition and of religion, both sources of abstract and idealised thought, means that art and literature have a difficult time establishing themselves:
Art comes at all times scantly to the back-blocks; and with what hope can Literature appeal to brains exhausted already by the exhaustion of the body? While, on the other hand, what have we in place of these, to exercise our higher faculties, and so give us, in addition to material existence, life? Oh, dear! despite our soil and our sunshine, our independence and our labour laws, don't some of us live really rather 'bad'? In our ardour for 'the land' are we not keeping our regard fixed rather too sedulously upon it? forgetting that the wide-winged air, the lofty sky, are also facts, and unconscious that man really cannot ever live by bread alone; no, not even with the agreeable addition of roast mutton and butter! 55
That Baughan puts inverted commas around 'the land' indicates that she sees it as an abstraction, a construct rather than a physical reality. In this passage, she juxtaposes it to the sky, which is itself a figure for transcendence, and appears in Maoriland writing, along with the sea, as a trope of infinity, eternity, an escape from the business of naming and locating oneself in the landscape.page 218
The Search for Colonial transcendence, for alternative sources of spirituality uncontaminated by European scepticism and modernity underpins much of Baughan's writing. It is clear from her papers that the interpretive frame that she herself used to give her spiritual experience coherence was that of India and Vedanta. Although it is unclear at what stage Baughan made formal contact with the Ramakrishna Vedanta movement through its American mission,56 by 1916 she was corresponding with Swami Prajnananda at the Advaita Ashrama at Mayavati, and with an unnamed Swami from the Webster Street Temple in San Francisco. Her poems were being published in the Indian journal Prabuddha Bharata. She visited California and India. When she moved to Akaroa, she named her new house 'The Ashrama'.
The Vedanta movement was at this stage relatively new. Having its origins in India at the time of the Bengali Renaissance in the 1860s, Vedanta had first appeared in the United States with the attendance of Ramakrishna's follower, Vivekananda, at the World Parliament of Religions, part of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. This occasion was the first time authentic Asian teachers had direct contact with Western audiences.57 While Ramakrishna himself was a traditionalist and mystic, with affiliations to Kali, Vaishnavism and Tantrism, as well as to Vedanta, Vivekananda was far more attuned and acceptable to the Western and especially the American religious scene. He was born in Calcutta in 1863 to a middle-class professional family, and educated at the Presidency College and the Scottish Church College. There he read Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill and Auguste Comte. His first awareness of Ramakrishna came from his English teacher William Hastie in a lecture on Wordsworth's nature mysticism, a somewhat paradoxical source, but one that suggests the complexity of imperial intellectual dynamics.
As with Baughan's contemporary Annie Besant and the Theosophy movement, the syncretism of Vedanta was one of its strongest attractions. In her commonplace book, Baughan records those Vedanta teachings which she found most useful alongside passages from Emerson, Plato, Annie Besant, St John of the Cross, Spinoza, Kant, Francis Thompson, Plotinus, Tagore, Voltaire, Julian of Norwich and Swedenborg, as well as a transcription of Dr Arnold's prayer.58 The monism of Vedanta was a counter to the theological problem of suffering and evil, a major issue for doubtful Victorian Christians such as Baughan. Vedanta accepted page 219Darwinian science and saw it as consistent with Vedantist teaching. Baughan's reforming social activism was likewise validated by the specifically reforming, activist slant of Vedanta. And in a sphere that included the bad and the duplicitous as well as the holy, Vedanta's intellectual integrity appealed. As one critic puts it, '[t]heir favoured religious mode was the lecture, and their preferred form of ritual was serious conversation.'59 Vivekananda himself was scornful of the more bizarre practices of American spiritualism, wondering whether Hindus were really in need of 'dead ghosts of Russians or Americans', and recalling a domestic disturbance between two spiritualist mediums when he was staying at a boarding house in New York, where the wife appealed to Vivekananda, 'Is it fair of him to treat me like this, when I make all the ghosts?'60 'I am perfectly aware,' he wrote in a letter in 1895, 'that although some truth underlies the mass of mystical thought which has burst up on the Western world of late, it is for the most part full of motives unworthy, or insane.'61
Perhaps, too, the uncolonial nature of Vedanta appealed to the nascent colonial nationalism of the Maoriland period. Unlike Theosophy, which was part of the texture of the imperial Indian scene, and in some respects compromised by it, Vedanta's Western links were through America, and integrated with and tolerant of American intellectual spiritual traditions such as Swedenborgian Transcendentalism and Unitarianism. In Baughan's case, Vedanta coalesced with her support for imperial federation, Home Rule and dominion status in diverse parts of the empire, and resulted in a less locally delineated internationalism, what some contemporary critics call 'intercoloniality',62 rather than the more overt nationalism of many of her Maoriland contemporaries. Nationalism is a concept about which she expresses anxiety. The idea of India is of crucial importance here. A letter to Baughan from Swami Prajnananda in 1916 reassures her that nationalism is in opposition to 'noble universalism in thought and culture' only when it is political and egotistical. 'But when nationalism is spiritual,' he asserts, 'the collective pursuit of man's higher altruistic duties becomes the foundation of nationality.' India is the place where such spiritual nationalism is most possible; thus, 'it is in the interests of all mankind to work for Indian nationalism'.63
Gauri Viswanathan suggests that in the case of the Theosophical movement, Besant's advocacy of universal brotherhood with its underlying belief in continuing evolutionary progress, has implicit page 220within it the notion of racial hierarchy, and amounts to a reinscription of empire.64 In Baughan's case, the Vedantic universalism of her later poetry blurs the particularity of place which Maoriland writers made a central part of their nationalist project. In her final collection, Poems from the Port Hills (1923), Vedanta and its universalising transcendence is overt. The 'tawny, tumultuous landscape … stuck, and prickled, and spiked' of her earlier verse has been subsumed into a discourse of lyricism and abstraction. In the poem 'The Summit Track', she writes
Far now below lie all Humanity's
Close claims; and that which more than human is
In us, awakes! And deeply grows aware
Of that dear Other-One, with which we share
This Earth-life …65
In her earlier volume, Shingle-Short, literary language focuses on, and in some sense mimics the materiality of the colonial scene, albeit hinting at some further, possibly unobtainable, reality. The later poems use their surroundings simply to point beyond; the physical settings are merely a means to transcendence, now conceptualised as easily achievable.
If Baughan is critically celebrated now, it is for her early writing — the 1908 volume rather than the Vedanta-saturated later works, and as a colonial nationalist rather than a mystic internationalist. Perhaps the two are not opposed. Coming from an intellectual climate of religious doubt and uncertainty to a colonial setting where the newness of place demanded new ways off seeing and writing, the vision at Long Lookout gave her a new way of seeing, and a new landscape, one coloured by the unbounded and transcendent certainties of Vedanta. Literary history has, however, been uninterested in her later career, indeed, generally denies that it exists. In The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature, MacDonald Jackson states that '[a]fter an illness in 1909–10, Baughan was deserted by her muse and dedicated her life to penal reform'.66 While not quite as egregious a statement as Patrick Evans's claim that Jessie Mackay 'declined marriage for good works and bad poetry',67 the charge bears further examination. Jackson's source is probably a letter Baughan wrote in 1957 to a friend, probably the peace activist, Lincoln Efford. Writing of her time in Chorlton, she says, 'I stayed there about five years, very happily, but a queer illness ended it, and was thought to page 221be going to end me too. Unluckily it only ended my writing power.'68 The story seems to have had wide currency. In a letter to Alan Mulgan soon after Baughan's death, Nettie Palmer asserts 'Eileen Duggan told me that BEB had given up writing & begun to spend nearly all her energies on helping prisoners'.69 The reference to penal reform, in Jackson and in Mulgan, is not part of Baughan's letter to Efford. Its source is probably less sympathetic. In 1929 the Australian critic, A. D. Wylie, writing in The Bulletin under the heading 'Those Inferior Maorilanders', wrote:
Miss Baughan, like Miss Mackay, after writing in an ecstasy of flapperdom a few set verses that came somewhat near expressing a little more devotion for her native land than she possessed for Hingland, became a social reformer with a first whiff of printer's ink, and [sic] the making of poems isn't a business for unmarried females, however talented, who spend their time worrying over problems that don't look like problems at all to any normal, healthy, uncelibate human being.70
Did Baughan stop writing, and was it substituted for social activism? In February 1913, she wrote to the critic and anthologist W. F. Alexander:
Many thanks for both your notices — and more for your kind note. I am glad my work pleases you — I wish I had been born in New Zealand, so you can imagine if I am willing to be called a NZ writer! But I think the verse you and Mr Currie republished for me in your capital little 'Anthology' was the first work of mine N.Z ever saw, so I always feel very grateful to you, and not only for that either, but for the further kindness of acceding to a request of mine re some Maori authority, by recommending me to Mr J. Cowan, who gave me just the help I wanted for something in my 'Shingle-short' — It is verse I care for most, and I have a volume of that in hand now, but don't know whether it will see the light — 'Brown Bread' of course is only a slight book.71
This is an important passage. It demonstrates Baughan's identification with New Zealand writing and her contacts with writers and editors page 222such as Alexander and Currie whose 1906 anthology New Zealand Verse had included some of her poems,72 and with James Cowan, her 'Maori authority'. It strongly suggests not only continuing composition, but something approaching a collection a year after the publication of Brown Bread and five years after Shingle-Short. That she was still interested in writing poetry rather than prose is clear. What happened to that proposed new volume of poems? Although it was twelve years before her next collection, Poems from the Port Hills (1925), she was still submitting work to literary journals during this period. She published in the Indian Vedantist journal Prabuddha Bharata and in 1924, a heavily spiritualist poem 'The Widow-Wife' appeared the Melbourne journal The Spinner.73 It was accompanied by a formal photograph of Baughan, seated at her desk, pen in hand, clearly portrayed as a writer.
Twenty-four years later she wrote again to Alexander on the same subject:
But, O dear! don't you subscribe to the absurd idea that BEB 'sacrificed Poetry to Prisoners'! Nothing of the kind — the poor woman never abandoned Poetry: Poetry forsook her … even before the war! The loss of a husband and ten children would have bereaved her less, believe me! But Life is inexorable.
It didn't, mercifully, deprive her of the love of Beauty, though: or of the perception that the unseen Beauty can, & should, rule our destinies & can be served in all sorts of ways — Here she has remained deeply at one with Shelley, Plato, & whoever wrote the Upanishads (don't know the Vedas) — & that conviction is responsible for her transactions with prisoners, & for the idea of putting their difficulties and our neglect on record, in 'People in P.' …. You have no idea for I have lost the use of words, even — or how they now bore me!! Clumsy method of communication, eh? … Spite of being a failed poet, then, please believe that I am doing what I can for mankind by lighting a candle in a dark place it should bring Beauty to — Also that I'm a very happy woman74
There is a slight contradiction here. Baughan is lamenting the withdrawal of her powers of poetic composition. But she also seems to have — happily page 223and voluntarily — moved beyond language and textuality to a mystical apprehension which makes itself manifest in action — 'People in P.' refers to her 1926 pamphlet People in Prisons: in 1924, she and Berta Burns founded the New Zealand branch of the Howard League for Penal Reform. Perhaps a key to this shift from playing a conventional role in the small but energetic local literary scene to writing both non-fiction and poetry which served a specific ethical and metaphysical end lies in Vedanta. In 1917, she received a letter from Swami Prajnananda of the Advaita Ashrama in Mayavati, India, part of an ongoing discussion about her work as a poet. He wrote:
Yes, poetry is the dharma, the law of your individualised being, only you have given up writing it in order better to live it … the poet's fame is tinsel compared with this eventual self-surrender, and if poetry does not lead on to it, poetry is rather a bondage, a prostitution.75
Although we do not have the context of this correspondence or Baughan's side of the discussion, it sounds as if he is commenting on and supporting a decision she has already made to stop writing, a decision which must have been made between her letter to Alexander in 1913 and the date of this letter, 1917. Other versions of her 'giving up poetry', even her own, are all constructed after the fact — sometimes a long time after — and thus not as reliable.
This still leaves the question of writing and publication after 1917 — in Prabuddha Bharata, in The Spinner, and the 1925 Vedantist collection Poems from the Port Hills. Baughan herself does not, from her comments, seem to have considered this as formal literature — the content is privileged over style. Furthermore, it could be suggested that the latter period of Baughan's life — she died in 1957 — was historically unsympathetic to women's writing. Women writers during the Maoriland period were subject, as we have seen, to a great deal of offensively personal and gender-conscious criticism, but they were still published. Kai Jensen has argued that there was a steep decline in the number of women writers published from 1930 to 1960.76 In the struggle which Curnow in 1938 characterised as 'rata blossoms v. reality', indigenous decoration versus attention to the 'local and specific', women writers were inevitably associated with the former.77 Curnow's page 224description of 'A Bush Section' as 'the best New Zealand poem before Mason'78 is contained in his 1960 introduction to the Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse, three years after Baughan's death. In his earlier 1945 introduction, she is not mentioned, but colonial writers in general are described as suffering from 'emotional bewilderment' and women poets Eileen Duggan and Robin Hyde are charged with 'the habit of sentimental posturing'.79
It is in this light that we should regard Baughan's unpublished novel 'Two New Zealand Roses'.80 The spiritual emphasis of the book is out of sympathy with the concerns of writers of the modernist generation, while the nationalist positions of Baughan's early work are present but not central to the narrative, whose direction is transcendent rather than local.81 Moreover, the conclusion of the novel, a celebration of a relationship between two women, is redolent of the genteel feminism of the Maoriland period rather that the more explicit (and, until the late 1960s, masculinist) agendas of later writing.82
In 1925, when she was fifty-five, Baughan experienced a second epiphany, occasioned by her falling down a flight of stairs and injuring herself.83 She saw 'a point of bright light, within me yet beyond me. It was like a diamond or a star, very bright and very peaceful, very secure'.84 She felt a sensation of safety, of calm and of triumph. 'I had not the sense of unity which was so strong in my first experience, but I recognised that this was the very same kind of light as that which overwhelmed me then — though only a spark and inside me, yet beyond the body, instead of being everywhere and with no sense of "me" at all.'
To be 'everywhere and with no sense of "me" at all' is the antithesis of contemporary conceptions of authorship, especially those inflected by postcolonial issues of positionality and location. In 1910, nationality and colonial identity was important to Baughan as a writer: she wrote to Nettie Palmer, 'I never was English by anything but accident, and rejoice to be taken for "a colonial" in England or out of it.'85 As we have seen, in 1913, she wrote to the anthologist W. F. Alexander, 'I wish I had been born in New Zealand, so you can imagine if I am willing to be called a New Zealand writer!'86 By 1920, this conception of herself and her writing was no longer sustainable. The internationalist and transcendentalist tendencies of her beliefs conflicted with the local associations of her writing, now undercut by a mystical sense of the page 225insufficiency of language. At the same time, impulses in the New Zealand literary scene hostile to both her generation of writers and women writers in general may have persuaded her to retreat from the public role of writer into a more personally constructed relationship with an immediately identified audience. But perhaps the two positions are not contradictory. If seeing anew is the task of the colonial and postcolonial writer, it is surely also that of the mystic. Is what we see in Blanche Baughan's career a demonstration of postcolonial mysticism?
1 Although Labour was defeated in the election, Fraser won Brooklyn with 6679 votes as opposed to Burns's 3828. See James Thorn, Peter Fraser: New Zealand's Wartime Prime Minister (London: Long Acre, 1952), p. 270.
4 Ellwood, Island of the Dawn, p. 4.
6 Letter to Mrs Waghorn from Gwen Godwin remembering Baughan: 'She was much interested in psychical research — and left her house at Akaroa to Mrs Burns — who also had this interest', Blanche Baughan Papers, MS-Papers-0198-6, p. 23, ATL.
7 This account is from Winslow Hall's Observed Illuminates (London: C. W. Daniel, 1926), p. 104, where Baughan is identified only as 'B.E.B.: Case 15'. The identification of her comes from a typescript biographical memoir by Berta Burns compiled in 1969, MS-Papers-0198-6, p. 23, ATL.
8 Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity and Belief (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), p. 184.
9 See Paul Morris, 'Mansfield and her Magician', Katherine Mansfield's Men, eds. Charles Ferrall and Jane Stafford (Wellington: Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society/Steele Roberts, 2004), pp. 75–95.
11 Baughan, 'Church', Verses (Westminster: Archibald Constable, 1898), p. 24.
12 This is according to an (unsourced) family tradition, quoted by Nancy Harris, '"Making It New": Modernism in B. E. Baughan's New Zealand Poetry', unpublished Ph.D. Diss., University of Canterbury, 1992, p. 18.
14 Ruskin, Modern Painters, Part V: 'Of Mountain Beauty', The Works of John Ruskin, vol. 4, pp. 418–20.
15 Ruskin, 'Of Mountain Beauty', p. 385.
16 For a discussion of the picturesque in the New Zealand context see Geoff Park, 'Theatre Country', Australian-Canadian Studies, 18 nos. 1, 2 (2000), pp. 7–21.
17 Ruskin, 'Of Mountain Beauty', p. 269.
18 Baughan, Forest and Ice (Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1913), p. 42. Baughan does not, however, share Ruskin's snobbish distaste for the practice of mountaineering.
19 Baughan, 'The Mountain Track', Brown Bread, p. 168.
20 Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (London: George Allen, 1899), pp. 322–3. This passage is discussed by John Newton in 'Colonialism above the Snowline: Baughan, Ruskin and the South Island Myth', Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 34 no. 2 (1999), p. 85–96.
23 Baughan, 'The Mountain Track', Brown Bread, p. 164.
24 'Headed each by a snow-crowned cirque, and filled with the deep green forest, theirs is the further enchantment of a veil of soft blue atmosphere — that hovering haze, that bloom as of grapes, that
(as Jessie Mackay puts it in her beautiful 'Valley of Rona') which clothes far mountain-Bush', Baughan, The Finest Walk, p. 25.
Rich gloom of the air,
Of velvet and vair,
26 Baughan, A River of Pictures and Peace (Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1913), p. 34.
27 Baughan, 'Grandmother Speaks', Brown Bread, p. 23.
28 'In 1900 I came to New Zealand, and not long afterwards went for a trip around the islands, also to South Africa, as far north as the Zambesi Falls.' Ladies' Mirror, 1924, p. 16.
29 Baughan, 'An Early Morning Walk', Brown Bread, p. 119.
30 Baughan, 'A Bush Section', Shingle-Short, p. 79–86.
31 This poem was published in Baughan's 1908 collection Shingle-Short and other Verse which was published in New Zealand by Whitcombe and Tombs. The tone and orientation of the piece may be effected by an awareness of the local audience.
33 The letter goes on to discuss the Australian poet, Bernard O'Dowd.
34 Leaves of Grass and Selected Prose, eds. Ellmann Crasnow and Christopher Bigsby (London: Dent, 1994), p. 203. Janet Frame's mother, who grew up during the Maoriland period, is perhaps paraphrasing Whitman in the 1930s when she eulogises 'Oh the Pioneers, kiddies'. See King, Penguin History of New Zealand, p. 280.
36 Baughan, Brown Bread, preface, p. v.
37 Baughan, 'Grandmother Speaks', Brown Bread, p. 17.
38 Baughan, 'Grandmother Speaks', p. 27.
39 Baughan, 'Grandmother Speaks' pp. 32–3.
40 Baughan, 'Red and Yellow and Ripe', Brown Bread, p. 159.
41 Baughan, 'Aboard a Coastal Schooner', Brown Bread, p. 40.
42 Baughan, 'Aboard a Coastal Schooner', p. 44.
43 Baughan, 'Aboard a Coastal Schooner', pp. 43–4.
44 Baughan, 'Aboard a Coastal Schooner', p. 45.
45 Baughan, 'Pipi on the Prowl', Brown Bread, p. 1.
46 Baughan, 'Pipi on the Prowl', pp. 1–2.
47 Baughan, 'Pipi on the Prowl', p. 9.
48 Baughan, 'Pipi on the Prowl', p. 12.
49 Baughan, 'Pipi on the Prowl', p. 6.
50 Baughan, 'Pipi on the Prowl', p. 10.
51 Baughan, 'Pipi on the Prowl', pp. 6–7.
52 Baughan, 'Pipi on the Prowl', p. 12.
53 Baughan, 'An Early Morning Walk', Brown Bread, p. 124.
54 Newton, 'Colonialism above the Snowline', p. 94.
55 Baughan, 'An Active Family', Brown Bread, pp. 139–140.
56 Ellwood in Islands of the Dawn, p. 235, states that he has been unable to find evidence of formal Vedanta organizations in New Zealand. A letter to Baughan from Swami Prajnananda (26 November 1916) talks of 'Vedanta centres and clubs in New Zealand' but this seems likely to be wishful thinking, MS-Papers- 0198-1, ATL. Mrs Burns's biographical note talks of study groups run by Baughan in her Sumner home, but this would have been later.
58 Blanche Baughan Papers, MSX-2383, ATL.
59 Jackson, Vedanta for the West, p. ix.
60 Steven F. Walker, 'Vivekananda and American Occultism', The Occult in America: New Historical Perspectives, eds. Howard Kerr and Charles Crow (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983), pp. 165, 169.
61 Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, vol. 8 (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1970–1), p. 335.
63 Letter of 16 November 1916, MS-Papers-0198-1, ATL.
64 Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, p. 186.
65 Baughan, Poems from the Port Hills, p. 32. A note to this poem acknowledges the influence of 'the teaching of Plotinus, of Fechner, and of the Vedanta'.
66 Jackson, 'Poetry: Part One: Beginnings to 1945', OH, p. 422.
67 Evans, Penguin History of New Zealand Literature, p. 33.
68 Letter, 21 July 1957, MS 132 box 5/1, MBL.
72 Alexander and Currie included four poems from Baughan's 1903 volume Reuben and other Poems (Westminster: Archibald Constable).
75 6 August 1917, MS-Papers-0198-1, ATL.
76 Jensen, Whole Men, p. 100.
77 Curnow, 'Rata Blossoms or Reality?', Look Back Harder, p. 11.
78 Curnow, 'introduction to The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse' (1960), Look Back Harder, pp. 151–2.
79 Curnow, 'introduction to A Book of New Zealand Verse 1923–45' (1945), Look Back Harder, p. 51.
80 Baughan wrote a formal note giving Berta Burns the rights to the novel in February 1946, Blanche Baughan Papers, Qms-0143, which also contains the typescript of 'Two New Zealand Roses', ATL. In 1956, a year before her death she wrote to Burns, 'You will remember that Rosy is yours, won't you? I should doubt if any publisher would take her. No money in her but one never knows, & I don't really care: only don't let her worry you, & remember ashes are very good for the garden!', Blanche Baughan Papers, MS-Papers-0198-6, p. 46, ATL. References in the text to the progress but not the outcome of the Second World War suggest it may have been completed just before the writing of the 1946 note to Burns. The chronology of the novel is roughly that of Baughan's own life, and although the two main characters, Rosamund and Rosy, unlike Baughan, have a New Zealand childhood, there are many details which could be interpreted as autobiographical: university education (in the case of the novel, Canterbury, whereas Baughan was an early graduate of Royal Holloway College, London), hereditary illness and consequent responsibilities in regard to marriage, religious debate and disillusion leading to an engagement with alternative Eastern and Vedantic belief systems. The typescript is immaculately presented, as if for a publisher, but there is no external evidence to suggest that Baughan ever tried to have the piece published, or even showed it to anyone before 1946. Apart from the two notes to Burns, there is no reference to it in her surviving correspondence.
81 In this one could point to a similarity with Robin Hyde's poem The Book of Nadath written in 1937 and unpublished until recently. Nadath covers the same ground — the mystical and the alternative — as does Baughan's novel, and derives from a common intellectual tradition, although 'Two New Zealand Roses' is far more formally conventional. Neither author saw their text as publishable. See Robin Hyde, The Book of Nadath, ed. Michele Leggott (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1999).
82 Another of Baughan's works, though not formally published, was in circulation for some time. Her commonplace book, whose title page reads 'Vedanta etc,' seems to have been passed around as an informal 'Samizdat' publication, for an improving or initiate audience only. The title page contains quotes from St Theresa and Emerson, and bears the instructions 'Please return to B. E. Baughan', followed by 'Sumner near Christchurch', which has been crossed out and 'Akaroa' written in. This suggests that the collection — mainly excerpts from mystical and spiritual writers (there seems little original to Baughan herself) - was in circulation from the period Baughan lived in Sumner, 1910, until after her move to Akaroa in 1930.
83 If the trigger seems strange it should be said that the medieval mystical tradition habitually used pain as an initial stage. Julian of Norwich, whom Baughan refers to in her commonplace book, experienced her visions while suffering a severe illness.