Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872–1914
8. Gentlemen in the Bush: William Satchell
8. Gentlemen in the Bush: William Satchell
In 1886, the year he arrived in the colony, William Satchell wrote from Auckland to his friend Allan Fea in England describing a trip north in search of land. In a letter to Fea three years earlier, Satchell had expressed profound depression and frustration: 'I think I was born to be a torture to myself and others. At present there is a cloud before me so thick, that of the future I can form no conjecture whatever.'1 Now he becomes enthusiastic conveying his initial response to the New Zealand landscape. He writes at length of the bush, his descriptions full of closely observed detail, both botanical and atmospheric:
We put up at a hotel in Paroa Bay, and the following day made our first acquaintance with the bush. It more than realised any expectations. Masses of trees covered with parasites, with ferns of the most beautiful description running up the trunks, and supple-jacks binding them round with ropes of iron. Down in the dim gullies where a narrow stream half choked by the vegetation can be heard tinkling over the stones the air is humid and warm as that of a hot house. Looking up from such a spot one sees masses on masses of palms and tree-ferns, broken it may be by the grey trunk of a kauri running straight as an arrow into the sky, seventy feet without a branch.2
Phillip Wilson, in his 1968 study of Satchell, says that the sea voyage to New Zealand 'inspired him with new courage and hope'.3 But the passage by steerage had not been entirely agreeable; Satchell found the voyage monotonous4 and did not share Henry Lawson's enjoyment of the rich demotic life of the cheap berths. Lawson, in Tom Mills's account, page 227'was given a ticket for that first trip to New Zealand by the Union Steamship Company first class — but he came over steerage. "What's the good of me traveling saloon, Tom — for there's no 'copy' there. But you'll get volumes in the steerage."'5 Satchell, on the other hand, does not see the lower-class passengers as a source of literary plunder, and his blind spot about class and dialect debilitates his fiction over the next two decades. Yet, despite complaints about the voyage, on arrival Satchell writes: '[w]e are here now, however, and a beautiful land it is.'6
Wilson observes that 'he found it hard to believe in anything in spite of a strong desire to believe'.7 Writing to Fea in 1883, as Domett was publishing his second version of Ranolf and Amohia, Satchell describes the depression that overwhelmed him as a young man: 'I believe in nothing, neither Man, nor God, nor Devil.'8 His earnest conflict between science and the notion that life involves (or must involve) some mystery is less modern than Victorian. In The Toll of the Bush (1905) nature is invested with an active will to destroy: 'Every bushman knows the toll of blood demanded by the virgin forest. It is fixed and inexorable' (44). Fate or destiny has an almost malicious role in bringing down human aspirations. His characters inhabit not Mansfield's relativist worlds of the dispersed self but a moral universe where good and evil are cleanly demarcated choices.
Disappointed as a writer and in his career in publishing, Satchell decided to immigrate to New Zealand and he brought migrant values with him to the new world: settler effort, small capitalism and democracy. There is a similarity here to the frontier spirit of America, as Wilson observes.9 There is also a superficial similarity to the pro-settler views of Domett, but the latter was much harsher in respect of Maori, and his championing of settler interests had an ideological fervour and partiality entirely lacking in Satchell. Domett borrowed seventy pounds in 1842 to buy land in Nelson; Satchell purchased his first block of land in the Hokianga from a Maori claiming to be its sole owner. He cleared and fenced the land and planted an orchard of 300–400 acres, married and started producing children. Then it transpired that the vendor did not have legal title. Satchell was effectively ruined, but he did not develop virulent anti-Maori feelings as a consequence.
Domett had a general aversion to Maori dealings in land:page 228
The uncertainty, then, of boundaries, the mixed and complicated nature of the relations between chiefs and individuals as to ownership, but much more, the unchanged character of the natives, their subtlety, cunning and cupidity, and perfect disregard for truth in deed and word — for of these qualities, whatever excellences they are coupled with, and these are many, there can be no doubt, exemplified as they have been in frequent sales of land belonging to other natives, re-sales of land already parted with, and false assertions on the investigation of them — these causes have conspired to produce the dissatisfaction and delay respecting claims justly founded and purchases made with liberality and good faith.10
Domett had supported the Waitara land purchase, according to William Pember Reeves, the 'spark which set all ablaze and ignited the land wars'.11 Satchell, however, comes to look back on those wars with a fairness and at times a moral trenchancy of which Domett was incapable, and to represent them in his fiction as history rather than myth, romance or political rhetoric. His wife Susan Bryers, whom he married in 1889, was part of a notable Pakeha-Maori family, her grandparents, Joseph Bryers, an English immigrant, and Konu Whareumu, Ngati Manu, having married in Russell in 1850.12 According to Wilson, this marriage 'revolutionised his thinking on racial problems',13 although the effect was not immediately noticeable.
Satchell's most intense response to the new place was directed at its wild, curious and captivating nature. Yet he was also interested in establishing himself by purchasing land and he later traded in stocks. Satchell described himself in a letter to Sir George Grey as a 'small capitalist'.14 Certainly, he suffered with surprising lack of self-pity or animosity the fluctuations of fortune that small capitalism visits on its adherents in the unfinished economy of a colony. The failure of his land development venture in the Hokianga did not for long curb his speculative proclivities. In 1893 Satchell moved to Auckland where he suffered further financial distress — he had to send his wife and children back to her family in the Hokianga — before establishing himself as an accountant. He both made and lost money during successive gold booms in 1895–99 and 1905–7.
Satchell's commitment to the life of the colony neither conflicted page 229with nor diminished his patriotic feelings for England and empire. Migration seems to have strengthened his sense that empire, in its exercise of power over foreign lands and peoples, carried out an inescapable historical destiny. Patriotic and Other Poems was published in Auckland in 1900. Written under the influence of Boer War, the book is unashamedly jingoistic and imperialist. Kipling is the dominant influence, but the unpleasant imperial voice of Kipling, rather than the Kipling who brilliantly uses the demotic voice of soldiers to make his case. In 'The Might of England' Satchell praises the British soldiers in South Africa:
Now listen, little people, who stay at home at ease
In the splendid sunshine of the peace that rests on English seas;
There is battle fast and furious in a country far away,
And the British soldier's falling in his hundreds day by day.
For along the Modder River and among the Stormberg hills,
In a country big as Europe, in the country of a clan —
What is the might of England for the thing that England wills,
But it rests to-day as ever on the valour of the man.15
The next poem in the collection, 'The Uitlander in the Empire', justifies the hard, brutal work of empire from the point of view of those who actually do it as against those who come after, taking advantage of the work of civilisation and sheltering behind the laws thus established:
When the British pioneer has battered out the way
With the bullet and the bottle and the Book;
When he's taught the simple savage to drink and to pray,
And limited the joints that he may cook;
When the deadly things are numbered and their habitats are known,
And the flurry and the fun begin to flag —
Then it is the peaceful stranger will become a foreign ranger,
And piously go pack his carpet bag.16
Over the next decade and half, life in New Zealand reshaped Satchell's moral and historical consciousness to the point where he saw the imposition of civilisation as a decidedly ambiguous benefit. Bernard page 230Porter has pointed out that empire itself suffered a crisis of faith in the last decades of the twentieth century. The 1870s were 'a watershed, marking a qualitative change away from the confidence of the early period to a time of doubt about the civilising mission of British commerce, worries about national efficiency, and fears of racial decline and cultural decadence'.17 Although Satchell's uncertainties do not precisely echo all those Porter lists, he found himself at the other side of that 'watershed' of doubt from Domett.
Satchell's first substantive moves towards confronting the new country were made in the first few years of the new century. By 1889 Satchell's memories of England were not fading but have been rendered dreamlike by distance. In a letter to Allan Fea of 8 July he writes:
Do you still seize every bank holiday for a run down into the pleasant fresh fields of old England, perchance to some old timber mansions fair in the park of ancient trees and quaint hedges, as older or older than the house itself. These things are to me now faint as a dream, but I suppose to you they are still real and present.18
The language itself conveys the sense of England as romantically ancient while his writing in respect of the colony is becoming sharper and more focused.
In 1901 Satchell edited a magazine, The Maorilander, which went through seven numbers before ceasing. According to Wilson, The Maorilander signalled 'his new feeling that he was now a New Zealander instead of an Englishman'.19 Scarcely any copies remain of this early attempt to create a magazine reflecting the life of the colony and representing its literary talent. The Maorilander was not the focused vehicle of a literary movement. It consisted of short story competitions, prizes, stories, articles, children's competitions and advertisements. Nor was its nationalism circumscribed by any reluctance to follow distinguished foreign models. Material was to come from locals and be on local topics, but 'Ballade of the "Maorilander"' displays international aspirations in its models, albeit with a note of self-directed irony:
'Pearson's' in its grand array,
'Wide-World' on its unique plan,
page 231 'Scribner's' in its coat of gray,
'Lippincott's' in red and tan,
And the rest from Hindustan
To the shores of Zuyder Zee —
None, though each do what it can,
Maorilander, equals thee!20
The first issue contains an editorial statement entitled 'Ourselves', which modestly sets out the aims:
We believe there is need in New Zealand for a paper which, while not being a repository of news, yet in the main concerns itself with matters of colonial interest. We desire our paper to be identified with the country in which it is produced, … and it is our ambition to reflect in various aspects and through various mediums the life and colouring of the land of our birth or adoption…. If there is at present, or if there is to be in the future, any distinctive home life in this colony, then it is in our pages that it will in due time reveal itself.21
Such projects were not new. As early as 1875 Thomas Bracken and the Bathgates had founded the Saturday Advertiser with the aim of 'foster[ing] a national spirit in New Zealand and encourag[ing] colonial literature'.22 Satchell was also concerned with standards, and suspicious of writing which sought to evoke nationalist sentiment by appealing to Maoriland convention. He judged a verse competition won by a poem, 'My Little Maori Axe of Jade', which conjures the usual Maoriland themes of war and woe, haka, korero and 'foaming torrents'. Expressing impatience with this, Satchell points to a less romantic and decorative definition of the journal's title, one involving a developing national consciousness and voice:
Our first competition … was productive of fifteen sets of verses, only two of which bear any relation to Maoriland. We have awarded the prize to the author of "My Little Maori Axe of Jade," which, if not particularly striking or original, yet reveals considerable metrical skill. The ballade form in which our competitor chooses to pour the wine of her thought is, however, page 232more indicative of an effete literary period than of a literature striving to assert itself in a new land.23
This effort to 'find a home in thought', as Allen Curnow later put it, is compatible with Satchell's empire loyalty. Michael King cites a pamphlet popular in turn-of-the-century New Zealand which describes the New Zealander's 'double patriotism — [that] of his own country and the wider patriotism of the great empire to which he is proud to belong'.24 Satchell himself writes a poetic eulogy, 'Victoria', in which the monarch 'has taken her tender hands from the reins of a dominant race':
They have called us brutal and proud, God
Knows if the charge be true. Had we wrought as the victors of old, the
World had been other today.25
But he could still sense the bombastic and provincial nature of New Zealand's membership of Empire, as in The Toll of the Bush, set during the Boer War when he refers to the '[g]reat news [that] had come to hand. A New Zealand contingent, after heroic forced marches, had seized Pretoria. The British army, with the baggage, was believed to be somewhere in the immediate neighbourhood'.26
Satchell's race loyalty does not sit easily with the view of him as wholly sympathetic to Maori. According to Wilson, Satchell's 'rejection of modern, Western civilisation was an expression of the deepest trend in his nature. He came to identify himself and his fiction largely with the New Zealand past, with the wilderness and with the Maori point of view.'27 This is at best partially true. If Satchell can truly be said to identify with the Maori point of view rather than use Maori to bolster settler identity, then he is contradicting one of the accepted features of Maoriland writing. His work contains elements of colonialist justification and admiration for racial dominance. But he also shows signs of moving towards a realistic sense of the racial situation, an acknowledgement of the wrongs of colonialism and sympathy for Maori that is not merely patronising.
Nor does he confuse Maori with romantic Celts, as Jessie Mackay does. Satchell had personal links to W. B. Yeats (his first love May Probyn was a friend of the poet) as well as intellectual (both were page 233deeply influenced by German Romanticism and shared an antipathy to modern scientific mechanism).28 But Wilson notes that Yeats returned to London to establish himself as a poet 'the year after Satchell left for New Zealand'. Yeats could carry his Irishness to London more comfortably than Satchell could carry his Englishness to New Zealand. London consolidated Yeats's Irish identity and provided him with a market for his spiritualised Celticism. Being English, Satchell could not, like Mackay, fashion a New Zealand version of Celticism. He saw being a Maorilander as an extension of his English identity not a repudiation of it. Nor did he, like Henry Lawson, make of colonial status a positive myth. New Zealand in the 1880s and '90s had no equivalent of the Australian bush school, and Satchell's characters, even in the bush, remain gentlemen.
Satchell's First Novel shows these influences and contradictions. The Land of the Lost (1902), set in the exhausted gumfields of Northland, displays some of the qualities of Lawson's stories in its concentration on male characters and mateship, and its bleak view of the social and physical environment:
Why, this is the stranding-ground of the dead-beats of the world; this is where all the wrecks of the earth are thrown up to rot…. Every inch of this north country is poisoned with dead hopes, and it will never be any good until all the gum has gone out of it. Do you mean to tell me that you come here voluntarily and of your own free will? Rubbish! This country is peopled under the lash.29
What little economic sustenance the inhabitants can scrape from the land comes, Satchell makes clear, from the kauri forests of the past. The nuggets of kauri gum excavated from the earth have the same force as fossils or geological remains, indicators of the history of the landscape. There is a strong sense of the gradual degradation of the present landscape, not through the activities of men but through an inevitable Darwinian progression: as Gillian Beer points out, by the late nineteenth century, evolutionary triumphalism had been balanced by page 234'fears that decadence may be an energy as strong as development, and extinction a fate more probable than progress'.30 There is a suggestion that the result of this process may be the withdrawal of moral and spiritual meaning. One of Satchell's gumdiggers explains:
'Sometimes I hear the sound of a tree falling far off in the bush, and then I know that I shall sleep no more that night. I hear it lying awake, or I start from my sleep with the sound in my ears, and that is the worst of the noises in the bush. For it is like some hope destroyed. Sometimes' — he lowered his voice in an awed tone — 'I have even for hours lost faith in the goodness of God.' (175)
Satchell's literary response to the landscape is thus mediated through his knowledge of Darwinian theory and the consequent destabilising of religious faith, which is used as a way of framing his presentation of the landscape. In The Toll of the Bush, he writes of science as 'a road into the unknown' which crosses 'the old, worn track of belief' (96). But there is a gap between Satchell's settings and his plots, which are all lifted straight from Victorian melodrama. In The Land of the Lost, the devastating portrayal of the social and moral wasteland of the gumfields is somehow disconnected from the novel's plot: there are missing heirs, complicated wills, mistaken or disguised identities, and tramps who are found to be aristocrats. The novel is shot through with the lingering violence of a Victorian crime novel, yet the plot turns on delicate problems of decorum, and is essentially a romance in which the innocent heroine must choose between a rich but unpleasant suitor (to whom she has unaccountably promised herself) and a poor but honourable one. In choosing the latter, she can be as confident as the reader that her swain will, before the final page, be identified as the missing heir. There is thus a peculiar dislocation between what is happening and where it is happening and the intellectual interest of the novel, and, one feels, the author, is not in the plot but in the backdrop.
Satchell's second novel, The Toll of the Bush, has the same gap between its intellectual freight and the mechanics of its plot, although there are suggestions that Satchell is aware of the creaky machinery he is using. Winnie, a reader of popular romances, is disgusted when she comes up against the realities of human relationships, and crushes her 'dog's-page 235eared novelette' in her hand: 'What abject rot!' she muttered; 'as if life were like that — mountains tumbling down and the rest of it, that a man and woman may step across and get married' (190). In her attempt to understand the suppressed evidence in the letter she has acquired, she calls on the stock conventions of her reading — the Dark Lady, the Will, the Balance of Power, the Virtuous Heroine and the Titled Hero — and tries to apply these templates to her own circumstances (192). When the stable hand Jack Wilson is asked by the heroine to help her, he sees the situation in terms of the stagey conventions of literary melodrama:
He had long anticipated the moment when some love-sick heiress, despairing of any voluntary effort on his part, should resolutely break the ice and entreat him to fly with her, but as the lady raised her veil as far as her eyes and dropped it again rapidly he had to admit that not even in his most ambitious moments had he soared to the height of personifying the heiress in the person of his master's daughter. (199–200)
The Toll of the Bush appeared as number 500 in the Macmillan's Colonial Library.31 Published in London, intended for colonial as well as 'Home' readers, the novel again situates itself in the generic and intellectual conventions of the British novel. The rift between the two lovers that romance convention demands is caused by their differing opinions on religious belief. Geoffrey Hearnshaw, who 'like most men [has] dipped into modern ideas', rehearses the familiar arguments of doubting Victorians when he explains: 'I think that the story of Christ would gain in beauty could it be purged of much that is inconsistent, and more that is incredible. But the moral teachings of Christ are one thing, and the Bible as an authentic account of the origin and history of the universe quite another.' Eve Milward is happy to rely on the truth of the Bible, although she seems able to reconcile it with the idea of evolution; Geoffrey prefers 'a picture of the universe such as is conformable with reason' (59). Their intellectual discussions are sharpened by the arrival of Mr Fletcher, the new clergyman, who begins a noisy evangelical campaign to convert the locals to his Salvation Army-style religion, and at the same time courts Eve.32
The lovers of the subplot, Robert and Lena, in keeping with their lower social status, do not debate points of doctrine. They inhabit the page 236world of the pastoral, but they are forced to test its simplicity when they are expelled into the real world by way of Lena's mother's sin. Satchell is adept, even in the world of the colonial bush, at keeping intact class distinctions and the literary conventions that represent them. Lena 'speaks above her station', (110). The lovers' struggle to educate themselves illustrates a favourite Victorian narrative. As in Grossmann's The Heart of the Bush, reading is a figure of both self-improvement and romantic accommodation. Significantly, they read the history of the British race, whose impressive savagery justifies imperial dominance (83–4). But there is a sense that Satchell is suggesting that this version of imperial history, while adequate for Robert and Lena, whose literary knowledge embraces such figures as Ury Pides and Archie Medes, might be a little oversimplified.
The machinery of the plot (a suppressed letter, the revelation of the groom's true character just after the ceremony) propels Eve on a familiar Victorian journey, from belief to doubt to a residual sense of honour and morality divorced from doctrine: 'Did God Permit this?' she asks of her marriage, 'Then farewell to the dream that God existed. And if there were no God, what was left to make this contract [i.e. her marriage] binding? … There were left the instincts of a gentle and honourable nature. There were left the habits of a gentle and honourable upbringing' (199). George Eliot seems an influence here, as she is in Geoffrey's religious beliefs, which are redolent of the historical and humanist emphasis of Strauss's Life of Jesus.33 Eve's position, married to a clergyman, mirrors Dorothea Brooke's in Eliot's Middlemarch both in her mistaken choice of husband and in the moral responsibility she takes for that choice. Eve escapes — as does Dorothea — through the timely death of her husband. The doctrinal questions that Satchell's lovers raise are unresolved: it is hard not to conclude that a Hardyesque destiny or perhaps random chance (the bushfire, Geoffrey finding Eve in the midst of it, her unpleasant husband's death) has prevailed rather than providence or the operations of a purely materialist universe. '"What a terrible thing life is," says Lena, "and yet every now and then you seem to see the finger of God intervening, as though to prevent it from being worse. Is it as He would have it? Or has He also to wrestle with a Power nearly as great as Himself?"' (211).
The novel of religious doubt was a popular form in late Victorian England, its most celebrated proponent being Mrs Humphrey (Mary) page 237Ward, niece of Matthew Arnold and daughter of Thomas Arnold.34 Thomas had spent some time in New Zealand in the 1840s where he had met and wrote admiringly of Domett, and Mary was born in Tasmania in 1851 before the family's return to England. Ward's most celebrated novel Robert Elsmere (1888) concerns a clergyman who has a crisis of faith and resigns his living. Mrs Ward's novels were included in Macmillan's Colonial Library. In the colonial setting, religious doubt and the sense of the instability of the settler project could be figured in the same language and feed off each other, as did the certainties of empire and of religion. Geoffrey's doubt infuses his perspective and his sense of himself in a way that pushes Satchell into an almost modernist mode of discourse:
A sort of mental powerlessness seemed gradually to creep upon him. The room darkened, and took on a mysterious, impenetrable vastness and gloom. Involuntarily he threw out his arms, striving to thrust back a tangle as of a network that threatened to enmesh him in its folds. The effect of the physical action was instantaneous — he was again back in the narrow room with afternoon sunlight streaming through the open door. (39)
In Ranolf and Amohia, Ranolf represents the idealised imperialist, bringing light to the savage world, responding to its sublime scenes, interpreting the myths of its native peoples, and fitting them into the great chain of enlightenment that leads to himself. In The Toll of the Bush the purposes and meanings of colonisation are still being rehearsed, and now the Christianising function of empire has become more problematic. Mr Fletcher the clergyman is not an intellectual like Ranolf. He is an enthusiast and an evangelical, and his mission is not, as the early missionaries portrayed it, to protect the Maori from greedy settlers, but to convert them to his vulgar form of faith. He clings to a rigid, doctrinal Christianity which conceals but cannot repress his cruelty, egotism and sensuality. His Christianity is based on faith entirely, and he is impervious to the kind of reasoned critique of its basic assumptions that Geoffrey and Eve engage in. Geoffrey is a gentleman, a man who, whatever his doubts, acts by a moral code derived from Christianity, and who is highly educated, superior to the page 238colonial world in which he finds himself. He is given to speculation, like Ranolf, on the great intellectual matters of the day: evolution, science, religion. But he is not as relentlessly idealising. He is a settler rather than an idealised imperial adventurer, although his aim is to enter the upper reaches of colonial life by way of marriage into the Milward family.
But this is to make him sound calculating. For Geoffrey, love is based on the gentlemanly code that involves self-sacrifice. Fletcher shows himself no gentleman precisely because he pursues Eve so aggressively, like a tradesman pushing a deal. Geoffrey even finds himself being led into a relationship with the country by way of Eve: 'for the place where love dwells is the only place more desirable than where we were born and bred' (68). In The Toll of the Bush the religious issues are not, as in Ranolf and Amohia, focused through the mind of one enormously self-opinionated character. Nor do they simply illustrate the a priori positions of the author. They are dramatised, that is, different stances towards faith and scepticism are represented by the different viewpoints of the main characters. One exchange on spiritualism and animals — whether horses believe in ghosts and if so whether human or horse ghosts — is reminiscent of the opening section of Ranolf and Amohia, but not as long-winded or serious. This discussion leads to a passage, rare in Satchell, in which the sublime qualities of the landscape are acknowledged, as Geoffrey and Eve listen to a bellbird: 'Faint, yet clear, came the silvery peal like the ringing of a bell in fairyland' (95). But, as if to undercut the text's acknowledgement of its own conventions, Eve notes how rare the birds are: 'Soon the forests will be silent as a graveyard.' '"Civilisation is a ruthless thing," Geoffrey tells her, "One is sometimes tempted to ask whether it is worth the cost, but we are bound to think so. That is a thing we dare not disbelieve."' Yet in the face of this axiom, perhaps, Geoffrey muses, the land will come back with what he calls 'vegetable vengeance', will take its revenge or utu on its conquerors: 'What wonder if it be true, as the bushmen believe, that the forest demands its toll of the destroyers. It needs no stretching of the imagination to believe that in this great silent outburst of life there is a soul that can offer resistance.' This grants a kind of gothic life to the natural world of the colony, especially where it lies beyond the effects of human intervention. The bushman Stephen believes that '[t]here's a spirit in these forests same as in a man' (210).page 239
The settler consciousness is registering the resistance of the land to inhabitation. Its weirdness indicates that it is still other; it resists the stored associations of landscape brought with settlement:
'Is there any hope for the wretched country at all? Look at it! … clay and scrub and precipices, with here and there an acre of orchard, and all the plagues of Egypt domiciled in it. What's the good of going on?' (18)
The land contains presences which have not yet been banished in spite of the transforming and reshaping of the landscape with which the settlers have not come to terms, hence the sense that it is keeping one away, refusing to give up its essence which is mysterious and weird. Weirdness and sublimity are at odds. Maoriland is usually configured as sublime; weirdness is an aberration from that template.35
The bush is the scene of various unresolved conflicts within the novel, conflicts which reflect those of Satchell. It is a dark, gothic world where fantasies take on a life of their own (as when the crippled and dying Mark Gird is seen strong and whole riding on his horse through the bush fire) and where the subconscious cannot be disentangled from the natural (it is finally where the conflicting passions of Geoffrey and Eve are acknowledged and licensed). It is a world 'red in tooth and claw' where the blind forces of natural process struggle for survival and dominance, the powerful crushing the weak in the process. It is a sublime world which elicits awe, and it is a world which allows lovers to break down the repressions of civilisation. The thwarted lovers, moving blindly towards the consummation of their love, enter into a primeval untouched and alien world of the forest:
Deeper and deeper they penetrated into the primeval solitudes, where no man had come perchance since the beginning of the world. Nothing they had yet seen equalled in grandeur and beauty the scene they now invaded. Everywhere huge trunks of hoary antiquity rose like ponderous pillars of masonry into the obscurity of the forest roof. Monstrous plants of strange growth and in unnumbered variety choked the earth and wrestled with one another in a fierce battle for life. Overhead, mosses and epiphytes, vines and climbing ferns draped the branches, page 240and lianas and the rugged cables of the rata bound the woods together in a grip of steel. Now and then they burst into a tiny glade sacred to some majestic tree, the record of whose years might serve for the lives not of men but of races. (224)
Cast back to the prehuman origins of life, they find a world older than the struggles of individuals or whole races, yet one where the 'fierce battle of life', permits them to shuck off their inhibitions.
Antony Alpers describes the transformations of the landscape effected by settlement by the time the Beauchamp family moved to their new home with its Dickensian name, 'Chesney Wold', in 1893:
In Dickens' time… the Karori valley had been filled with totara forest. Matches and Eureka axes had soon cleared that away, but the hillsides were still littered with the bones of unwanted trees, amongst which sheep now grazed. In the gullies, some folds of native bush remained, and in them native birds, so that at night one heard the little owl whose name is morepork. On the valley — floor lay the village — a scattering of bungalows with picket fences, a General Store, a wooden church, a blacksmith's and, … the big house with the literary name.36
Those matches and axes were imported by the company, Bannatynes, for which Harold Beauchamp worked when his daughter, Kathleen, was at school in Karori. In 1908 when the precocious and troublesome daughter left New Zealand to follow the life of an artist in London, the prodigious rate of clearance continued: 'Between 1909 and 1916 the national remains of kahikatea more than halved from over 2,600 million superfeet to 1,117 million. By winter 1917 it was down to 985 million.'37 But the same busy colonial world that was clearing the land was also constructing a compensatory imagery to such despoliation by romanticising what had been sacrificed in the cause of material advancement. There are efforts at this time to preserve tracts of native bush.38 The close of the century saw the designation of the Urewera District as a national park. At the point when the primeval forests are disappearing under the onslaught of pastoral settlement and timber exports, the desire to preserve enclaves of the past appears. The desire to preserve in literature the passing of the primeval world which modernity page 241is rapidly displacing is also a feature of Maoriland: it is the conjunction of destruction and nostalgia that is most distinctive of the period:
Eve looked around her, her face still pale, at a loss for words. At the evidence of toil everywhere, the blackened trees, the fallen logs, some with deep axe marks in them, the wilting grass among the stumps. Then, the untouched virgin forest, the tree ferns, the rata, weltering in his vivid summer garment. It seemed that the task set was too great, that God had forgotten — nay, that 'the beautiful blue heaven was flecked with blood'. (119)
One of the Ways to interpret the land's gothic presence, indeed, 'the beautiful blue heaven … flecked with blood', is to see it as a displaced way of acknowledging Maori presence. Satchell writes from the other side of the wars of the 1860s, the development of railways, pastoralism and refrigerated shipping. He writes from a world where, in the work of other authors, Maori had been consigned to a Celtic twilight dreamworld. Yet The Toll of the Bush does not employ the usual Maoriland romanticising mechanisms, and instead sees Maori as people caught between conflicting worlds — traditional and modern — rather than prisoners of an invented traditionalism.39 Satchell distinguishes between the new and old type of Maori:
Large as was the assemblage of Europeans, the natives outnumbered them. Everywhere were the serge suits and toi-toi hats of the men, and the gay skirts and shawls of the women — on the beach, in and around the store, on the slopes of the pa, among the stone ovens, and in a dense expectant throng at the door of the big shed. The men were roughly divisible into two types, corresponding mainly with their ages above and below thirty or forty years. The latter had received the benefits of education at the native schools. They spoke in English, idiomatic, but often amusingly misapplied, and all but invariably mispronounced. Their faces showed a curious blending of simplicity and shrewdness, a duality of nature which also revealed itself in their actions. They were 'Hail fellow well met' with every one, page 242no sense of modesty or politeness preventing them breaking into the midst of the most intimate groups. The other and older type presented both in manners and appearance a striking contrast to their younger tribesmen. Their faces were frequently minutely tattooed; there was a stateliness in their movements, even where age had robbed the figure of its erectness. Many wore the distinguishing marks of chieftainship — the white-tipped huia feathers in their hair, the hereditary jade jewels at their throats. They spoke in their own liquid language, with a grave and cultured enunciation, the sentences possessing a cameo-like clearness and polish. Their manner towards Europeans was marked by a charming courtesy and dignity, that aboriginal mingling of self and sympathy on which all manners, whether of courts or backwoods, are founded. (194–5)
[a]ll the old identities of the country … were present. Withered old men with rosy cheeks, whose eyes many a time had looked squarely into the face of death — men whose memories went back to the beginning of things when the authority of the Maori chieftain was a stronger law than the Queen's. Grizzled, tongue-tied giants who knew only the cult of bush and river, but knew that with the intimacy of an instinct. (154)
Descended from an early settler and one of the 'bright-eyed kotiros of the hapu', Mallow and his Maori wife have had 'numerous olive branches with corresponding complexions' who have variously gone to fight in the Boer War, died of consumption ('[f]or many of the half-caste girls … a dread alternative to marriage'), or 'follow[ing] a season of danger or delight' been sent to Auckland to stay with a distant relative ('[T]he young men went back to their work in the bush, felling and driving and forgetting, and sometimes the girls wished they had never been page 243born' ). In a novel that is so convoluted about its portrayal of desire, to the extent that the final marriage of the hero and heroine can scarcely be articulated, the description of the 'half-caste girls' is the way that Satchell can permit himself to talk about sexuality, its delights and its sanctions.
One of the consequences of Satchell's decision not to relegate Maori back to Maoriland is the way that they are figured as part of the economic structure of contemporary society. All three of Satchell's novels are very precise about the nexus of financial relations between the characters, indeed in The Land of the Lost and The Toll of the Bush, the plot is very largely composed of those relations. In The Land of the Lost, the storekeeper Roller and the innkeeper Upmore have a power in the community commensurate with their financial sway; the new chum Clifford's survival is dependent on the fluctuating price of gum; the local Maori community are seen predominantly in terms of their dispute with Roller over a contract they have entered into to supply logs and his attempts at renegotiation due to the falling price of timber. In The Toll of the Bush, the Major's ledger in which he records debts, repayments and debt cancellations is the narrative of the community's history. In The Greenstone Door (1914) the economic consequences of the destruction of Maori society in the wars of the 1860s are seen to be as important as the political and cultural depredations. In all three novels the storekeepers — Upmore, the Major and, in The Greenstone Door, Purcell — are the central figures and have a power and significance that replaces the old structures of class: Satchell's works are full of displaced aristocrats whose cultural capital is of no value in the settler world they now inhabit.
Maori are universally admitted to be the most intelligent aboriginal race on earth, but that does not go so far as to enable them to withstand the progressive movement of the European; they are doomed to disappear. (115)
In The Toll of the Bush there is an almost identical description of a Maori community — fertile but neglected ('Old fruit-trees — chiefly peach, quince, and fig — grouped themselves at various points. Cattle, horses, pigs, dogs, fowls, ducks roamed every where through the broken fences at their own sweet will'). '"If one had a place like this now", Geoffrey says, "it might be possible to do something. It seems to me that the only land worth having in this north country is in the hands of the natives"':
'They were here first, I suppose?' Robert said. 'Yes, that is good argument as far as it goes, but meantime the white men are sitting round on the hills eating grass, and the country is at a standstill.' (19)
The conflict between the moral claim of prior Maori ownership and the pragmatic claim of settler need is clearly set out. The only resolutions The Toll of the Bush tenders are firstly the somewhat louche but vigorous and attractive 'half-caste' family of Mallow, and secondly the character of Pine who, rewarded for his help in rescuing the hero and heroine, is able to purchase 'a wooden house and a flock of sheep and … [live] like a pakeha'. If the disorder of the Maori communities in both novels subconsciously offers the reader a valorised alternative to the Pakeha model of community (as in the work of later Maori novelists such as Patricia Grace and Witi Ihimaera), it is one that Pine eagerly abandons: 'All a land you see run' here belong a me', he boasts, in an entirely un-Maori manner, 'All a land you can't see belong a my wife' (242).
As Pine's diction indicates, Satchell's decision to move out of romantic Maoriland in his first two novels has implications for the kinds of literary stereotypes available to him. The Maori characters in both novels speak a kind of fractured pidgin that bears little relation to any attempt to reproduce Maori inflected English.41 '"They sell all deir tings"', Pine says, describing the response of the Maori community to Mr Fletcher's crusade:
'No cow dere, no riwai, no gum. All te people buy biggy drum and tombones and blow him up and down te beach. My mother's father she very ol' man — more'n one hund'ed years — he play te tombones too. When he come down to see us yes' day, he got tombones o his back and he play all a time. Then by'm-by Kanara's bull he hear him and say, "Golly, I tink dat cow got belly ache; I go see"; an' when he see only tombones he very angry. Pshut! My mother's father she clear; Kanara's bull clear af'er him. Te ol' man make very quick time and get on top te kumara house. Then he play tombones more'n more an' say, "Praise Lord!" But Kanara's bull he walk roun' an' roun' an' say, "By gorry, I get you, break your burry neck."' (32-3)
Kendrick Smithyman suggests that 'Pine's language owes probably more to Australian Aboriginal English as purported by periodicals of the time and to New Zealand adaptations and piratings of the Australian than to anything said by Maoris'.42 Certainly Pine's prowess as a tracker suggests such literary models. But Satchell may also have page 246been influenced — in the comic sense and narrative skills he gives to Pine as much as his diction — by Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories, published between 1881 and 1905, which purported to be the stories of an elderly black American slave.43 The only indigenous feature of Pine's speech is his use of 'te' and of 'By gorry', the latter, according to Harry Orsman, 'a form representing an alteration in spoken Maori of God'.44 Pine's characterisation is a source of comic relief, in much the same way as is the Finnerty family with their humorous Irish diction (47).
However, in The Land of the Lost, there is a suggestion, common in colonial discourse, that the seemingly successful assimilation of Maori into the modern is only superficial. Wilfred comments on the 'long, weird wailing' heard coming from the Maori settlement, and is told that it denotes 'a bone-scraping…. They have been bringing some of their ancestors up from the Kaipara and are preparing the bones for burial' (191). In the (typically unresolved) argument that follows, Wilfred sees this as an indication that 'the savage imagination delights in the horrible … the education we give them only amounts to a starch-glaze. They lose it in contact with their kind, and constant intercourse with the white man is needed to preserve it.' Esther on the other hand sees that the bone-scraping 'is or was in a sense a religious ceremony' although she is vague about its significance — ('It bore some relation to the after life') and she is cynical about the effect of the modern in emptying such ceremonies of cultural meaning: 'nowadays the young natives look upon this and similar ceremonies merely as occasions for gorging themselves with meat and kumeras' (192).
In Choosing to Set these two novels in the contemporary world, Satchell forgoes any romanticised or gothic charge that his Maori characters might bring to bear on the plot. Even the wailing of the bone-scraping of the dead is given a modern, diminished context by Esther's remarks. But in his final work, The Greenstone Door (1914), he changes register, and unleashes Brantlinger's imperial gothic as a pervasive motif. He does this by setting his novel in the past; but it is not the mythic past, as in the poetry of Jessie Mackay or Blanche Baughan, or the distant past of first contact, as in Ranolf and Amohia where Maori society is supreme. The Greenstone Door is set in the historical past, the wars of the page 2471860s, which Satchell interprets as the moment at which Maori culture, defeated by the forces of the modern, was forced to divide itself between existence in a diminished present or relegation to a mythic Maoriland of the imagination.
Phillip Wilson, writing in the late 1960s, presents Satchell as a racial idealist, especially in The Greenstone Door: 'It is the intensity of his idealism, which shines through his fictional world like a beautiful light, which combines with his profound romanticism to provide his novels with their distinctive tone and universal appeal.'45 Wilson's book appeared in the same year as Pearson's Henry Lawson Among Maoris. In both, an incipient biculturalism is manifest in the focus on colonialism and race, Pearson's with pessimistic tone, Wilson's seeing utopianism as part of the formation of New Zealand identity. Wilson writes of Satchell, 'His rejection of modern, Western civilization was an expression of the deepest trend in his nature. He came to identify himself in his fiction largely with the New Zealand past, with the wilderness and with the Maori point of view.'46 Louise O'Brien, writing in 1996, supports Wilson's view of Satchell's fundamental sympathy for Maori and his disillusion with the colonial order. She argues that in The Greenstone Door Satchell 'laments the destruction of the indigenous culture and [does] not welcome unconditionally the new order of white civilisation'. Yet she also observes that he views 'both processes as historically determined and thus as beyond human power to prevent or alter'.47 This projection of culpability onto the gods he cannot believe in gives the novel its brooding Hardyesque quality but compromises its reading of colonial history. O'Brien argues that in Satchell's The Greenstone Door, as in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, 'postcolonial settler identity is rewritten and reconstructed as indigeneity':
One medium used to construct the new settler identity is the fictional history narrative. That these stories of identity are written at all is evidence of the problematic nature of the identity itself. These are stories which are designed to produce identity, narratives of nation formation which construct the nation, and its citizens, retrospectively…. They centre on moments of crisis in the nation's past, on conflicts between cultures and identities which embody the conflicts of identity within the settler subject.48
O'Brien notes that such narratives are not triumphalist; both Fenimore Cooper and Satchell 'lament the destruction of the indigenous cultures and do not welcome unconditionally the installation of the new order of white civilization, identifying its flaws as well as its ideals'.49
In Edith Searle Grossmann's The Heart of the Bush this settler identity is predicated on Maori absence. In The Greenstone Door the narrator begins with a world view that is comprehensively and complexly Maori: the chief Te Waharoa is a version of Tangimoana in Ranolf and Amohia, unspeakably savage but not without a certain terrible nobility; the neighbouring chief Te Huata is 'a savage of the old school: fierce and bloodthirsty, a cannibal by choice as well as by custom, and a hater of the pakeha' (43), though his wife, Tuku-tuku (the Spider's Web), recognises the advantages of accommodation with the Pakeha. Te Moanaroa, chief of Matakiki pa, is a 'sagacious' leader and a diplomat, though his quietism and love of mysticism has resulted in the pa's becoming 'infested' with tohunga (34), chief of whom is Te Atua Mangu, the Black Spirit. Domett believed that Maori would be fit material for civilisation once the influence of the tohunga, a continuing source of delusion, had been lifted from them.50 Satchell's similarly negative views belong in a more complex view of Maori options. He grants them power, but tends to see them as an evil and pernicious influence on Maori life, as Domett did. Satchell distinguishes between 'artists and men of learning in astronomy, agriculture, genealogy, and such like, who, through the terrible centuries of Maori history, had kept the lamp of knowledge burning undimmed' and 'those followers of black magic with whom the name of tohunga is more usually associated' (34).
Maoriland romanticism configures Maori as savage and warriorlike, but also as attractive and seductive. Te Huata's son Rangiora is described in Rousseau-like terms, verging on the homoerotic:
He was a well-proportioned lad, broad in the chest, slender and lithe at the hips, and carrying himself with a quiet dignity which impressed me. His hair had been carefully dressed, and was decorated with two tail feathers of the huia bird. No tattoo marks disfigured the clear bronze of his skin, which, save for a belt and maro of embroidered flax, was uncovered by clothing. On his breast hung a valuable jade jewel of high antiquity, and a light spear of red tea-tree wood was poised in his right hand. (49-50)
Cedric's stepsister Puhi-Huia is similarly glamorous and eroticised, not in the exciting but dangerous way the 'half-caste girls' in The Toll of the Bush are, but with the dignity of a potential heroine. Puhi-Huia is not noble — her mother Roma, though 'of one of the fair-skinned hapus, no darker than a southern European', has been a slave — but as the 'daughter of the Thumb', Purcell the Pakeha-Maori under the protection of Te Waharoa, '[t]here is no chief in New Zealand who is of rank sufficient to marry [her]' (51). While the ostensible object of Cedric's desire is the aristocratic Helenora, her absence for most of the narrative only accentuates the way that Rangiora and Puhi-Huia are both, individually and as a kind of hybrid combination, objects of unacknowledgeable desire. As Cedric must leave the kainga in which he grew up, lose his oneness with the mystery of its landscape — the mountain of Pirongia, the hidden cave he and Puhi-Huia discover — and move into the world of Auckland commerce and politics, so he must leave Rangiora and Puhi-Huia to their noble but doomed romance. That the compensation, Helenora, is so shadowy a figure is a measure of the reluctance with which Satchell endorses the present.
Even more than The Land of the Lost and The Toll of the Bush, The Greenstone Door is split between the creaky conventions of its European romance plot and its New Zealand setting, although here the setting generates a plot of its own, derived from the imperial adventure story. Cedric moves — actually, physically — between the two stories, as he travels from the Maori world of Matakiki to the urban and compromised world of Auckland, from his relationship with Rangiora and Puhi-Huia to his somewhat enervated and displaced courtship of Helenora (she spends most of the novel in England and features mainly in letters). As with Satchell's earlier novels, the European plot is predicated on the gentlemanly code: there is a ridiculous punctiliousness about propriety in love and death; there is a series of strained coincidences and contrivances (Cedric's father has jilted the mother of Helenora, the girl with whom he falls in love); and there is the requisite discovery of the hero's aristocratic origins ('"Who was my father, Lady Wylde?" I asked eagerly. "He was the younger son of the present Lord Tregarthen of Pentreath"' ).51 The romance is played out in the language of boyish sanctimoniousness: 'The black rage with which I had heard the elder Brompart asperse the character of his sister had turned into a white flame, that rage of battle which counts no odds and is capable page 250of achieving miracles'; 'I had lived among savages and learned of what wickedness they were capable, but it was left for me to behold a white man strike a woman' (228-9), and so on.
If the generating force of the European plot is literary convention, that of the Maori narrative is the collapse of history into myth. The Maori world at the beginning of the novel is seen as intact in all its variously enchanting and disturbing aspects:
No doubt the first objects that impressed themselves on and grew familiar to my infancy were the buildings of the pa; the mysterious whare-kura, fronting the rising sun in the midst of the holy enclosure, where stood the sinister graven image of the Rainbow god, with a huddled human sacrifice mouldering in the earth beneath his footless body; the whare of the supreme chief, little less sacred and awe-inspiring; the whare-matoro, which may be likened to a theatre or amusement hall of a pakeha town, and was to become eventually as full of pleasurable associations; the great storehouses, carved from pile to apex, a hundred threatening, pearl-eyed images glaring from their outward walls; the cooking houses of fern stem or scrub; the huts of the villagers, on a descending scale, from the most elaborately carved houses to mere shelters of rush. Lowest on the hill slope, half hidden in a fold of the ground, was the dwelling of a tohunga or priest-doctor…. [T]he dreaded figure crouched in the porch, staring with brooding eyes at the river or the bush beyond. (30-1)
As Alex Calder points out, the Maori characters (unless they are in Auckland) speak in a heightened poetic diction.52 The contrast with the pidgin of Pine in The Toll of the Bush points to the different worlds the Maori characters of each novel inhabit, and the different and derived literary stereotypes Satchell is deploying, on the one hand the roughish, comic aboriginal/Irishman, on the other the Ossianic noble savage. The uncanny and gothic elements of the bush in The Land of the Lost and The Toll of the Bush are in The Greenstone Door directly connected with Maori, and the (to a certain extent) cultural-relativist discussion of the bone-scraping in The Land of the Lost is replaced by lurid, thrillingly horrified and highly detailed representations of cannibalism, in both page 251cases associated with the prurient description of the death of a young woman. The novel begins with a phantasmagoric account of the aftermath of a battle between two tribes:
Presently we came in sight of several fires, differing from those we had already seen by the circumstances that they did not roar up to a tremendous height, but burned fiercely close to the ground. Dark figures were busy about them thrusting the burning wood more closely together with long sticks. In the red light other groups were at work, bending and chopping at things in their midst. (7)
While Esther in The Land of the Lost was prepared to see the unfamiliar and, to a Pakeha eye, disturbing aspects of Maori practice as having meaning within that culture, cannibalism in The Greenstone Door is seen as purely appetite: Maori do it because they like to, not because of any significance it might have. But Te Waharoa the cannibal is already, when the novel begins, associated with the past; Te Huata may have an unfortunate lapse (provoked by the ineptness of missionary attempts to convert his tribe), but 'far from reviving the custom of cannibalism, he had dealt its death blow, and never again did it lift its head in the territory of the Ngatimaniapoto' (113).53
The world which contains the cannibal feast is also the world of Rangiora and Puhi-Huia's love, both initially associated with a mythic timelessness; because of his Pakeha credentials Cedric can move from that world into time and history (he assists Governor Grey while in Auckland). But when the Maori world is brought into a collision with modernity in what Satchell calls 'the Maori War', the lovers and their world are obliterated, to be absorbed into the memory and the memorialising imagination of Cedric, and of Satchell.
This is a narrative of dispossession as severe as the deployment of the dying race imagery in Grace, or the appropriated indigeneity of Grossmann. Our reading of the novel is at odds with the heuristic frame of Wilson but not as severe as that of O'Brien. The problem is that Satchell cannot quite make his own mind up. He wants to be on the side of rationality but will not give up his sense of the mysteriousness of life. He sees himself as progressive, but is full of nostalgic backward looks. He seeks to come to some kind of conciliation with the raw new page 252world, but cannot separate himself from the values and codes of the old one.
In The Greenstone Door Satchell does offer a picture of Maori moving into the modern, and not just the culturally empty existence he depicts in The Land of the Lost and The Toll of the Bush. He sees the time in which his novel is set as one in which Maori 'had advanced sufficiently far into civilisation to perceive [the land's] grandeur and beauty, yet not so far that they had lost confidence in themselves and their possibilities' (242). The Waipa and the Waikato are full of gardens and granaries, new forms of agriculture are eagerly embraced, and there is the prospect of a future '[marching] side by side with his white brother'. Satchell is undecided and contradictory about the reasons why this does not eventuate, but the inevitability of historical process is given great weight. The war, Satchell's narrator acknowledges, 'was precipitated by an act of injustice of the colonists' (278): 'How absurd, nay, how wicked, to talk of the rebellion of those from whom we have taken the earth' (285). But to imagine that the outcome for Maori would have been different without the war is fantasy. More, Satchell's narrator claims, died from 'the airs that blew from the habitations of the white men' than as a result of war, and this is merely a process of biological 'adjustment' (278–9). Darwinian selection, a sense for Maori that 'the grandeur of the temple of civilisation ceased to inspire, and now appalled and oppressed' (242) is at work, and the 'best hope' for Maori is 'extinction in the blood of the conqueror', that is, assimilation, along the lines of the 'half-caste' sons and daughters of the Mallow family in The Toll of the Bush (or Satchell's own family) rather than the romantic but doomed Puhi-Huia.
Is Cedric part of this — an example of the advantage to the Pakeha of assimilation? He has an adoptive indigeneity from his upbringing, but he is not a Pakeha-Maori: that role is taken by his stepfather Purcell, Puhi-Huia's father, a man whose past, even to his own family, 'remains a romance as deeply clothed in mystery as that of the Man in the Iron Mask' (41). As storekeeper Purcell acts as a bridge between the archaic world of the Maori and their entry into the economic order. But there is not any longer a role for the old-style Pakeha-Maori:
While the Pakeha had by force of circumstance become all but a necessity to the Maori, he was now dribbling into the page 253country in sufficient numbers to allow of the exercise of a little care in his selection. No longer might the escaped convict or deserting whaler pass at once into a sort of enslaved kingship, to balance himself giddily between power and sudden death. The missionary, tramping alone and unarmed into the pas, accomplished at least the advantage of revealing to his savage but intelligent flock a standard by which their own pakeha-maoris might be judged. And few there were that could satisfactorily survive the test. (33)
The setting of the novel in historic time means that the choices and distinctions offered to such figures have hardened: Purcell chooses the Maori cause, that of his wife and daughter. Cedric's sympathy and identification with Maori mean that he cannot completely choose the other side, as the exigencies of war might force him to. Neither can he remain and perish as his stepfather Purcell does. Cedric's neutrality is a reflection of Satchell's irresolution, which the author has no logical way of narrativising; he resorts to the somewhat strained device of having Cedric captured by Maori and imprisoned for the section of the novel that describes the military engagements. Safe in his prison cell, Cedric is in effect quarantined from the story, as Purcell takes up arms against the British army, and Rangiora and Puhi-Huia die heroically at Orakau.54 Cedric emerges to a new world where he no longer has to choose — Matakiki is gone, the negotiations between Maori and Pakeha that Purcell represented are gone, and the hopes of a modern Maori society are gone; all that are left are the decultured and debased Maori of Auckland in the figure of Tetere:
I learned from him much of the feeling that attended the intercourse of the two races. On one side was humiliation, tempered or held in leash by greed of gain; on the other, at the best, tolerance, at the worst a scurrilous contempt that enveloped the whole native race in the epithet 'bloody Maoris'. (155)
Calder reads The Greenstone Door as a version of the Pakeha fantasy that the irreconcilable contradictions of settler life might be reconciled. He sees those contradictions as inherent in the definition of Pakeha:page 254
A pakeha is, by definition, a person whose past belongs elsewhere, whose old world attachments must be jettisoned even as, in an irreducible contradiction, they must nevertheless be preserved. To give another: a Pakeha is also, by definition, someone who belongs here and now, a person who lives outside history in an always new world which is also, in another irreducible contradiction, a location in contested colonized space where the past is never over and done with.55
But although the novel presents tentative and fantastic possibilities, in the end there is no way that Cedric can be a Pakeha. At the end of the novel, he is transferred out of Maoriland and into a European romance plot, dated and stagey, propelled by a generic automatism, in which the reader is not required to believe.
In 1886 Satchell's World was Victorian; by 1914 when The Greenstone Door appeared his grasp of New Zealand's situation was no longer colonial in Domett's sense although not yet modernist in Mansfield's. Being 'colonial' initially exacerbated his sense of the conflict between the Victorian world from which he had partly ejected himself and the modern one he could not quite accept. But it also allows Satchell to force the contradictions he finds in himself and the world he confronts into new configurations, so that he can be both economic man and a precursor of ecological man, imperial adventure novelist and astute recorder of the narratives of colonial history.
The Greenstone Door was not well reviewed; Wilson notes that the usual explanation for this is that 'no one was interested in an old colonial war when a new European war was just beginning',56 and Smithyman observes that 'it was not the moment to have a compromised Maori-Pakeha character speak out against orthodox patriotism'.57 The nuances of historical fiction, with all its compromises and ambiguities, were in fact more suitable for a Victorian audience than for the black and white demands of 1914, as Kipling's wartime career illustrates.
In the same year as The Greenstone Door, D. H. Lawrence's Prussian Officer stories appeared in London (the publisher having reordered the collection to bring the anti-German militarism stories to the fore), page 255and James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was serialised. Mansfield's In a German Pension stories of 1911 had also suited a mood in England; by 1915 her response to the death of her brother would precipitate her move towards a fully modernist method in 'Prelude' where the symbolism she had experimented with as early as 1903–4 saturates and transforms a realistic story of colonial life. Satchell was not a modernist. His plots derive from the romantic melodramas and imperial adventure stories of Victorian popular fiction, yet he demonstrates their capacity to contain and delineate the moral dilemmas of empire. At the same time, the irresolution, the self-consciously exhausted nature of available narratives, the sense of displacement and of the inhabitation of a world that is at once morally vacuous and unsettlingly uncanny — a world where one can only find a place by displacing others — suggest that the defining conditions of modernism have more to thank the Victorian world for than has been hitherto acknowledged.
2 Satchell, letter to Allan Fea, 21 July 1886, MS-Papers-0104-37, ATL. This passage recalls the enraptured but precise observations William Colenso made over forty years earlier tramping through the Ruahines with six unwilling Maori porters. Colenso's notes on this expedition are cited by Jones, Writers in Residence, pp. 47–9.
4 In a letter to Allan Fea dated January 1886 in which the address is given as, Arawa/Lat 16.36 Long 11.5 (presumably Arawa Cottage in Spring Street, Freeman's Bay, Auckland, where he lived in 1886) Satchell complains of the monotony of the voyage, MS-Papers-0104, ATL.
5 Mills, 'Henry Lawson in Maoriland', p. 22.
7 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 24.
9 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 26
10 Quoted in Stevenson, 'Alfred Domett', p. 27.
13 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 18
14 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 17.
16 Satchell, Patriotic and other Poems, p. 15.
17 Bernard Porter, The Lion's Share: A Short History of British Imperialism, 1850–1983, p. xi. Quoted in Dixon, Writing the Colonial Adventure: Race, Gender and Nation in Anglo-Australian Popular Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 2.
19 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 37.
20 'W. B.', 'Ballade of The "Maorilander"', The Maorilander, no. 7, 22 March 1901, p. 109.
21 The Maorilander, no. 1, 8 February 1901, p. 8. Satchell eschews entering the national debate about temperance but encourages one as to whether the magazine should be entitled to receive the support of the public, meaning readers not government funding. A letter to the editor by 'R. W.' affirms that 'the journal is avowedly of New Zealand origin, and produced solely by New Zealand writers'. He concludes that it 'is the only New Zealand paper which deliberately sets out to exploit the literary talent of the colony', The Maorilander, no. 4, 1 March 1901, p. 55.
22 Jones, Writers in Residence, p. 189.
23 The Maorilander, no. 4, 1 March 1901, p. 56.
24 King, Penguin History of New Zealand, p. 292.
27 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 23
28 Wilson, William Satchell, preface, n.p.
30 Gillian Beer, Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1983) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 134.
31 In his introduction to The Toll of the Bush, Kendrick Smithyman writes that Satchell 'kept respectable company. Number 497 was H. G. Wells's Kipps, number 489 was Rudyard Kipling's Traffics and Discoveries'. Smithyman describes the Colonial Library as comprising 'rightly celebrated books and those properly faded, of imperial interest and colonial self-discovery, of North American aspiration and highflown international swashbuckling, of Anthony Hope and Thomas Hardy, of a world seen realistically and a romanticized world', The Toll of the Bush, p. 8.
32 John Kucich points out that such satirical portrayals — Mr Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre, Mr Murdstone in David Copperfield, Mr Casaubon in Middlemarch — were standard in the Victorian novel and one of the ways in which religious doubt was registered, 'Intellectual debate in the Victorian Novel: Religion, Science and the Professional', The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel, ed. Deirdre David (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 214.
33 David Friedrich Strauss's Life of Jesus (1835) was translated by Marianne Evans (George Eliot) in 1860. It sought 'to substitute a new mode of considering the life of Jesus, in the place of the antiquated systems of supranaturalism and naturalism…. The new point of view, which must take the place of the above, is the mythical', preface, first German edition, (1835).
34 Thomas Arnold's 'conversion to Roman Catholicism, return to the Anglican faith, and subsequent reconversion to Catholicism caused his family much distress', Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 1043.
'Weird,' 'sinister,' 'eerie,' 'uncanny,' — these words are continually upon the lips of visitors to the Hot Springs. Every characteristic sight of the district is more or less 'queer'; there is hardly one whose appeal is primarily to one's sense of pure beauty. Not that there is not among them beauty in plenty, but for the most part it seems to be beauty gone, as one might say, a little crazed — beauty grimacing, oddly bedizened, or keeping the strangest of company — hand in hand here with grotesqueness, there with gruesomeness, now and again with what is downright hideous and repulsive. The surfaces and shapes of things are abnormal; their colouring is often crude in tone and bizarre in blending; the senses of sight, smell, and hearing are at times radically offended; and perhaps at their very best thermal phemonena are wont always to be surprising rather than winning, curious rather than charming, showy rather than sublime. Then, too, the changeability of them is distracting. They are essentially, more perhaps than anything else in Nature, creatures of moods.
B. E. [Blanche Baughan], Uncanny Country: The Thermal District of New Zealand (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, ), p. 11.
36 Alpers, Life of Mansfield, p. 10.
37 Geoff Park, Nga Uruora: The Groves of Life: Ecology and History in a New Zealand Landscape (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1995), p. 69.
38 Park, Nga Uruora, p. 205.
39 Discussing the British fondness for a romanticised New Zealand Satchell writes: 'There is a fair idea of the monstrous creatures which people our forests-in fact the only animal the British public find difficulty in accepting is the telephone. Tell them of a sanguinary encounter between a moa and a tuatara, and they listen with bated breath; conclude by ringing up the doctor and they smile incredulously', The Toll of the Bush, p. 241.
41 A modern analogy would be between the works of Patricia Grace and those of Alan Duff.
43 The stories first appeared in the Atlanta Constitution from 1876 onwards and were collected in book form in Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings (1881), Nights with Uncle Remus (1883), Uncle Remus and Friends (1892) and Uncle Remus and the Little Boy (1905). The Alexander Turnbull collection has several original editions.
44 '(occas. poss. Golly) used as a substitute in oaths', DNZE, p. 426.
45 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 18.
46 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 23.
47 O'Brien, 'Hybridity and Indigeneity', p. 6
48 O'Brien, 'Hybridity and Indigeneity', pp. 4, 5.
49 O'Brien, 'Hybridity and Indigeneity', p. 6.
50 McEldowney, 'The Unbridled Bridal Pair', p. 382.
51 Satchell, for all his historical acuity regarding colonization, does not see aristocracy as an historical concept. He imagines the white aristocracy of New Zealand in five hundred years 'claiming their descent from the Maori gods', The Greenstone Door, p. 256. Subsequent references are in the text.
53 Satchell makes an odd analogy between cannibalism and the drinking of alcohol:
At this period the practice of cannibalism, though still invariably followed by the successful war-party, had already received its death-blow. The disgust of the white man … had eaten its way less to the conscience than the pride of the Maori, and just as the modern wave of temperance, sweeping irresistibly forward, influences those who are not consciously in accord with it to a certain furtiveness in the taking of drink, so was cannibalism becoming a rite to be practiced, if not actually in secret, at all events out of the sight of the white man.
The Greenstone Door, p. 12.
54 Rangiora is given the heroic and historical words of defiance: 'Friend … this is the word of the Maori: We will fight against you for ever and for ever', p. 369. Reeves records the words (spoken by an unidentified warrior) as 'Heoi ano! Ka whawhai tonu, aké, aké, aké'. He writes, 'The General offered to let the women come out, and the answer was, "The women will fight as well as we"', The Long White Cloud, p. 209. Satchell is careful to stress that Puhi-Huia's death is inadvertent: 'God forbid that either by words or the absence of them I should imply that it was a deliberate shot that took her life', p. 372.
55 Calder, 'Orakau: Geography and Genre in The Greenstone Door', pp. 68–9.
56 Wilson, William Satchell, p. 48.