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Nation Making, a story of New Zealand

Chapter XIX. — A New Departure

page 176

Chapter XIX.
A New Departure.

England abandons New Zealand.—Fierce struggles between Colonists and Maories.—Able measures of the Hon. John Bryce.—The Land eloquent with Stories of Battle.—Victor and Vanquished.—Halo of Romance.—Influence in Making the Nation.—Ancient Briton and modern Maori Contrasted.—The Blood of a Princess.—Englishmen more Celt than Saxon.—Celtic imagination tempered by Saxon qualities.—British Celt conquered.—Irish Celt not conquered.—Influence of Language.—Irish Celt Not a Nation Maker.—Home Rule.—Suggestions for settling the Irish Difficulty.

After five years of war, notwithstanding the wise and urgent protests by Governor Sir George Grey against the removal of all the troops, England retired from New Zealand. Every British soldier was withdrawn. The proud beat of the English drum was heard no more in the land, and the 'red cross banner' was left to be dragged in the dust by exultant savages, or to be defended by the abandoned and unaided Colonists. The policy of the 'Manchester school' had triumphed, and the Colony was left to its fate.

Massacres and the burning of villages followed. The Colonists were dominated by hostile bands of page 177armed Maories. Battles on the East Coast, battles on the West Coast continually occurred, victory inclining sometimes to the Colonists, sometimes to the Maories, until at length, after twenty years of desultory and bloody warfare, under the gallant leadership of Colonel Sir George Whitmore, and under the able measures of the Hon. John Bryce the Colonists finally triumphed.

So fierce have been the struggles between the white man and the Maori, so prolonged the contest—a contest distinguished by valiant deeds by both races—so innumerable the gallant attacks, so memorable the defences equally gallant, in fortress, forest and ravine, that the Colony is eloquent with the heroic story, of dusky warriors gallantly defending their country, of Colonists as gallantly fighting for their homes, that now, when the long struggle is ended, and the Queen's writ runs everywhere, Colonist and Maori, the victor and the vanquished, regard each other, not as tyrant and slave, but with that mutual respect which brave men feel

For foemen worthy of their steel.

In the halo of romance which time throws round such a contest, we have an element in the work of Nation Making, which for centuries to come, will leave its mark on the character of the future New Zealand Nation.

New Zealand Colonists have the further advantage of living side by side with a race very similar to our ancestors as Cæsar found them. Results very different page 178have followed the various conquests. In the one, the vanquished absorbed the victors. In the other, the vanquished are fading away, their reed-made dwellings, like their communist system of social life, contained elements fatal to a continued existence, and except their numerous earthwork fortifications, the Maori will hardly leave a trace behind. In a few generations a white descendant of some Maori princess may still be marked by the survival of the proud lip, or the soft, pensive black eye of the Maori, and may boast of his descent, as an English noble of to-day would boast, if the blood of the patriotic Boadicea ran in his veins, more than if he could trace a lineal descent from the robber William the Norman.

The Maories are the Celts of the Pacific. Some points in their story are not without interest in discussing the Irish Question now agitating the English-speaking race, as may be seen in the subsequent portion of this chapter.

We English people call ourselves Anglo-Saxons. Nevertheless the chief strain in our blood is not Teutonic but Celtic.

Looking at the fact that Cæsar found Britain well populated, and that after the first century of Roman occupation comparative peace reigned over a large area during the three following centuries of Roman rule, there can be little doubt that the Britons had so greatly increased in numbers, that the Saxon invaders in their small vessels, could not possibly have crossed the stormy North Sea in such numbers as greatly to page 179increase the population. Yet in the reign of Alfred the Great, Britain had become Saxon in laws, government and language. The Celtic language, as a language, had disappeared. A few words remained. A few still remain. But the Celtic blood formed, as it still forms the largest strain in the blood of the English Nation.

The strong imagination, peculiar to the Celtic race, together with their partially civilized condition, were the chief reasons why the Britons yielded to the fierce, hard-headed Vikings. These sea rovers had little to lose and much to gain, and were valiant accordingly. The imaginative Britons, softened and enriched by the Roman occupation of their country, fell, though not without many struggles, under the dominant force of the savage Saxon pirates.

The Danes followed the Saxons. But though the vigorous Danish blood added some strong elements to the blood of the English nation, the Danish migration could not have greatly altered the proportion between Celt and Teuton in the population of England.

In the middle of the eleventh century personal freedom, and a crude form of self-government, had become practically the prominent features of what we call Saxon England. The imagination of the Celt had been tempered and balanced by the cold, hard, staying power of the Teutonic nature, and thus we have the foundation of the English character as we now know it.

The Celtic Briton, happily for his descendants, had page 180been conquered, his imagination tempered, his language lost; but he himself remained, and remains the Englishman of to-day.

The Irish Celt, unhappily for himself, has never been conquered. A true hero-worshipper, he has never met with a hero. He retains the imagination of his ancestors, and is therefore more loyal to the Church of Rome than any other race. The Irishman of to-day largely retains his love for the Celtic tongue. These three—in the absence even of social progress—make his patriotism, at least a poetic dream, if not a political hope.

To these conditions we owe the Irishman of our times, who is as gallant, as romantic, as clannish, as turbulent and as thriftless (in his own country) as his Celtic ancestor of centuries ago. He is not a Nation Maker, and if he runs on his present lines, he never will be. It is only when Irishmen are removed from their surroundings, when their Celtic tendencies are modified by contact with stronger, harder influences and natures, that Irishmen become the generals, the statesmen and the administrators who have played so great a part, in building up the British Nation.

Pity that such a splendid raw material as the Irish nature offers, cannot be more perfectly utilized: that such a love of country, cannot be turned into channels more likely to benefit Ireland and the Empire.

Idleness and improvidence are not to be eradicated by an Irish Parliament. Nor are industry and enterprise to be developed by boycotting and Land Leagues.

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Ireland is like a pilgrim with a pea in his shoe, who makes no progress himself, and annoys his neighbours by his outcries.

If a policy of Home Rule can be devised, which will not ruin Ireland by separating it from England, it ought to be adopted. If by a system of County government, or Provincial government, or by any other system, the attention of the Irish people can be diverted from the absorbing devotion to a grievance, real or fancied, and fixed on such realities as personal progress, steady industry, more comfortable homes, a better system of farming, the establishment of manufactures—if by these means, Irishmen can be taught to be more self-dependent, to be less dependent on orators and governments, the Irish difficulty will be removed.

Nation Making in Ireland by partial conquest has failed. The only conquest now possible, is not by force of arms, but by the arts of peace, and by Assimilations. When the Irish landed estates are occupied by small freeholders, Nation Making in Ireland will have made a decisive forward movement. Out of his own country, an Irishman is a better soldier, a better farmer, a better man than in it. Under the coming changes, aided by a migration of English and Scotch settlers, the Assimilative force will come into action. Then, Ireland will become, what she has not been for seven hundred years, a prosperous Nation. The Irish people is a high-spirited race. It manifests no signs of decay; it is a close neighbour to a kindred and powerful nation; the Celtic language is disappearing; page 182and there is no question of colour. These are all factors for a peaceful adjustment. Not martial law, not assassination, but good-will, and the fullest recognition of a community of interest between England and Ireland will solve for ever the Irish enigma,