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The New Zealand Survey

Canto Fourth

page 33“New Zealand Survey”: Page 33.

Canto Fourth.

Nature; Change; MemoryRecalling now our thoughts to other scenes,
That speak of progress, be it e’er so slow,
From rude beginnings, to developments
Of great acheivements, Nature in her aims
Effected have along the course of time.
Home; Change; Joy; SocietyAs one returns from a protracted tour
’Mid foreign climes, and hails his boyhood’s home,
Recounting many changes, all for good,
That has occurred since when he left, in truth,
Impressing much his heart with hallowed joy;
Land; Arts; Perception; ChangeSo see this valley, as it now exists
In all its native grandeur, cov’ring much
Of elemental rudeness with the garb
Of vernal beauty; it can tell its tale
(Ev’n so of others may the same be said)
Of mighty revolutions undergone,
As marvellous as when above the waves
Yon mountain summits rose and stood on high.

The Erratonga, now, that sweetly winds
Down the long vale, can tell the time has been
It had a shorter course to traverse, ere
It reached its goal, or lost itself amid
The welt’ring brine! The basis of those hills,
Sea waves have washed when rolling up their sides,
Whose surges have worn off the base’s slopes
Leaving a steep, oft rugged; while the floods
Would oft engulph what avalanches brought
From off the mountain brow, in clay and stones;
page 34“New Zealand Survey”: Page 34. Which, having been, by suction of the waves,
Well undermined, the superincumbent weight
Have, from the slippery rock with dashing plunge,
Slid down into the waters; thus embrowned
With clay dissolved, the surging waves have borne
The particles, dissevered wide, till they
Have got deposited as future soil,
Commixed with rolling stones. Work; ScienceYon gravel pits
Dug deep by roadmen, out of which to bring
Material to construct the solid way;
These give concurrent testimony true,
To that, erewhile declared, by boulders there
Deposited, and made compact, ’mid stuff
Grown hard through ages!—Once they’ve subject been
To raspings of the billows under surge
Till smoothed into some shape. Above this floor
The clay deposits pilfered from the hills
Have been o’erspread, as sediment, but mixed
With various stones upon the surface strewn
Agreeing with the mountains shattered rocks,
Yet bearing marks of being water worn
By flowing tides, ere they at length retired!

Retired! and why? When subterranean powers
Again applied were, with resistless force,
When to its centre, earth again convulsed
Shook mightily the mountains, and upheaved
The land-lock’d sea floor ’bove prevailing tides.
Now where the submerged valley lay, appears
A mud flat smoking to the sun, where lie
A host of shell-fish swelt’ring in distress
’Mid seaweed, which no shelter can afford,
page 35“New Zealand Survey”: Page 35. For lack of wonted moisture; so they die!
Thus down the, then, sea arm, between the hills
The tides recede, though slowly their degrees;
Society; WarAs when a beaten army would retire
Before a braver or superior force;
As if such to the last would fain retain
Position, yielding only inch by inch;
So briny waters slowly have retired,
As years on years had intervened between
Each retrograding pace of their retreat;
And that retreat forced more by earthquake’s power
Than other means, that else might be employed
For scooping out some greater depths abroad
For their reception; or upheaving still
The floor above their level. (1) Much indeed
Is visible of what has been achieved
In the upwashings, by the rolling waves,
Of what the river carried from the hills,
Accumulating thus such sediment,
As might in after ages be the base
Of fertile soil! Thus ocean’s sway must yield
When He, who in the hollow of his hand
Takes up its waters, circumscribes its bounds,
And says—“Give place for other things ordained!”—

Perception; ChangeWhen “Scrutiny” begins to look around
Contemplative, he fails not to descry,
How the appointed agencies of change
Have had their mystic fingers in the work
Of revolutions great! Arts; JoyFor since the time
The naked hills rose from the briny deep—
A mass, unsightly in their nakedness!—
page 36“New Zealand Survey”: Page 36. A vegetation has upon them sprung
Them clothing much with beauty, as attired
For festive pleasures, and a state of joy:
Change; Nature; Joy; SufferingBut much of time, in all external things
Concerning nature, or regarding man,
Must speak of change; as pleasures fresh arise,
They’ve but their space allotted to give joy;
Beyond that space are weariness and cares!
Nature; Change; Future; PerceptionSo Nature’s loveliness—her first debut
Has also got its time glass, where the sands
In constant running order soon may cease,
And shew her liable to other change!
The change, no matter when it may occur—
To-morrow—or, may hap, a thousand years—
Yet still ’twill come, and so perform its work,
Inductive to some future good, although
Its aspect ruinous might such deny!

The sun may smile benignly on the scene,
’Tis for a little; gathering storms will rise
And waste such pleasures oft so highly prized,
And spread abroad a desolating gloom:
But lo! Nature; Future; Worksuch desolations oft have proved
A prelude to a nobler state of things
Laid forth, on Nature’s ample plan, and seen
To be admired, when such a work’s complete!
The genial influence of light and heat
Pour’d on the stranger usher’d into life!
As they had been commissioned to fulfil
A special duty, with the nightly dews,
And fertilising showers in aid, have raised
Such herbage, plants and trees, as fit t’ adorn
page 37“New Zealand Survey”: Page 37. This offspring of the ocean.Change These brought forth
At their appointed seasons—each in turn—
As one preparing, in its own decay,
The elements that aids another’s growth!
So time its revolutions has performed;
The ravages of storms have done their part;
When forest trees matured, have been o’erthrown
To moulder into dust, and so prepare
For others to succeed. While many thrown,
By the descending avalanche of clay,
Shook by some earthquake, or the weight of storms,
From steep and slippery rocks, on which they grew
Into the river’s current; whence the whole
By undersapping have been washed away
On sweeping floods, into the foaming brine,
As off’rings made to Neptune, which received,
As well accepted, they, with generous grace
Have been restored afresh! By surging tides (2)
They have ashore been cast and anchored there;
In sand and gravel; thus embedded deep
Their roots and branches, useful have become
To form receptacles, and means, to stay
The deposit of sediments till formed
The basis of a superincumbent soil:
Perception; ScienceFor such a confirmation must we search
The ancient archives of the river’s bank
For records that might sceptics well confute!
There, the remains of trees, and other wreck,
Borne hither by the floods are buried deep
In gravel beds which once have formed a beach
Cast up by Neptune’s forces, upon which
page 38“New Zealand Survey”: Page 38. The sea wave rolled; now ’neath a depth of clay
And other soils accumulated high
Above the summer level of the stream;
And over which, old forests since have grown,
Whose size gigantic would some age declare!

Religion; ScienceSo now, as we yon woodland scenes survey,
The question will arise—Whence this display?—
Could from another land the seeds have come
Borne in the crops of birds, which hither came,
And planted been by droppings? Or have they
Been borne by some far inland stream along
Into the ocean, and by tossing waves
Have hither driven been, while to and fro
They have been buffeted, yet floating light
Upon the surface—happ’ning next to catch
Upon the hills, as from the deep they rose,
And there have germinated?—But the like
According as some travellers assert
Are nowhere to be found! We must conclude
That these, as when earth first was gaily clad
By the creating word, as “Let there be!”
And so the thing commanded was produced;—
Although that “word” ’s unaudible to ears
Of human curiosity, yet still
Its power can well be felt in all due time
Where it must be applied. As Society; Nature; Loss; Joywhen a law
Of nature is transgressed, it has a power
To render punishment, in which the weal
Of the delinquent is impaired, or lost
By the transgression made! Or when that law
Is duly well observed, it brings its gift
page 39“New Zealand Survey”: Page 39. Of best rewards, and on the faithful one
With liberal hand bestows the promised joy!
Society; Perception; NatureSo here creative power has been at work
Developing that law which is impressed
On nature and its agencies ordained,—
Though human wisdom scarcely such perceives;
The want was visible and must obtain
Its measure full!—The naked must be clothed!

Let not the purblind soul attribute more
To simple agency than what is due.
If such a law’s established, (it is seen
In the effects of light and heat upon
Organic things, inactive,) and that law
By some one agent, upon whom devolves
A certain duty, is performed aright;
Still He, who formed that “law” and such imposed
Upon the proper “actor,” must be wise,
And worthy the first homage of our hearts,
When we the wonders of His power survey,
As seen in Nature’s vast productiveness!

At first, ere vegetation covered earth,
The instruments of all fertility
Must first according to good order come
To their appointed tasks! The light and heat,
The air and vapoury cloud, have still the same
Connection in the business of all life,
In which they mutually perform their parts
Without the sign of discord to defeat
The purpose each must serve! Arts; LandIn all due time
This newly raised isle’s uncouth nakedness
Must disappear, and some adornment have!
page 40“New Zealand Survey”: Page 40. The springing moss begins to tinge with green,
Of faintest shade, the rock and clammy clay
Of hill and plain, as indicating now
Life’s earliest throb! Colony; Future; SocietyThe naked surface feels
Itself productive, though of simplest tribe
Of vegetation, yet it augers well
For what in future time it may bring forth
When that time has arrived. Still grows the moss
And that of various kinds, according to
The beds from which they spring, Artsas ’twere to show
There will be no neglect of aught that adds
To beauty from variety. Yet that moss
Had its appointed time to be alone;
For with it would associate the ferns
Each kind in its appropriate place would come—
In swampy soils, the rushes—on the dry
Such Change; Futureother plants and herbage in their kinds,
Which might have ends assigned, to be fulfilled
Progressively, initiating new,
And hitherto unknown, earth’s faculties
Productive of fresh vegetable life!
Society; NatureSo had we—when those periods had revolved,
Each in the other merging, as it came,
Long after the first passed—been straying found
Upon some sunny hillside, or the plain,
Our eye might hap’ to light upon some plant
Of promising appearance, differing much
In leaf, and stalk, from what around prevailed,
As lately germinated, or come forth,
To seek the rights existence ever claims
Upon the influence of sun and air
page 41“New Zealand Survey”: Page 41. To bring it to maturity; and do
Its share in reproduction of its kind!

Society; Nature; Past; Science; ReligionAs science, now, strange secrets would reveal
In other ancient countries, which bespeak
Creative wisdom, and omniscient care,
With forethought unmistaken in its aim;
In other instances than only one,
Are manifest as shewn in changes wrought
Upon creations structure, in the lapse
Of untold ages, not to be o’erlooked,
Recorded all in Nature’s archives, which
Depositories prove of what has been;
For plants now found extinct are buried deep
In earth’s dark bosom, petrified, and changed
To other solid substances, the work
Of wond’rous revolutions long ere man
Was known to have existence; while their place,
And high above the stratum, they enjoyed,
Another race of vegetation fills!—
Religion; Nature; Philosophy; PerceptionSo whence the origin of those that be,
Replacing those of yore? but through that power
Invested in the laws of nature, which
Fills up the void, where needed, of a kind,
And in such power proclaim “a Great Supreme!”
Whose wisdom in the working of such laws
May well be traced, when truth is duly sought
T’impart instruction without erring aim,
Or such rebuke, as silence would “Conceit;”
Or prove some vain philosopher “a fool!”
History; Philosophy; Science; NatureThus ages upon ages as they’ve rolled
Unchronicled—save by the mystic marks
page 42“New Zealand Survey”: Page 42. Of Nature’s hieroglyphics, often spelt,
Yet ill pronounced, nor read to give the sense,
And import, true,—they’ve not been idly waste
Though only lately they have been explored;
Now all those mystic prints unfold a tale
Of greatest import, while illustrating
Creative power impressed on Nature’s laws!

But to return from this digression made—
Thus every soil, according to a law,
Peculiarly adapted, might be seen
To send its own best firstling into life,
As one of Nature’s family, in the form
Of herb, or flower to decorate the ground;
While here, and there, some other plant would spring
Of such a kind, as might hereafter prove
Most beneficial for the use of man,
As monarch of the forest yet to be!
Again, when length of ages have revolved
Come various other trees, to fill the gap,
As under the protection of the first
Production, which have grown to stately height;
Then next the under-bush of lesser note,
When other years have passed, as filling up
Remaining vacancies, till stands confessed
New Zealand Flora and FaunaA forest dense in ev’ry verdant hue!

So see what vegetation now adorns
The mountains to their summits, gaily clad
With living foliage, various shades of green,
In harmony with ever-during spring!
Society; Arts; Suffering; JoyAs well set music sung which charms the ear,
And thrilling harmony sends through the soul,
page 43“New Zealand Survey”: Page 43. And makes it feel, ’mid pressing cares, elate!
Philosophy; Arts; Perception; SadnessThis scene, as much enchanting to the eye,
When well considered, may reflections stir,
Which would sensations sweet send through the mind
And prove to grieving hearts a soothing balm!

This mass of forest in the vale below,
Though high from earth the trees uplift their heads,
Yet they, so closely packed, and verdure like,
Partake the semblance of a level lawn
Where, one might think, great herds could safely graze;
Nature; ChangeSuch shews how Nature’s work has been fulfilled
’Mid change and revolution, since the time
Its ground was occupied by briny floods,
Or since the simple moss was all that grew!

Though many a country differs in itself
From those adjacent, or apart from all
Connexion with great continental shores;
Yet still their stores of vegetable life
Either of herbs or plants or woods or flowers
May oft agree, and in variety
Might seem to vie; while other lands, reversed,
Would rather differ, as if they’d declare
We no relationship with either claim;
Meanwhile such lands, in vegetation’s stores,
Have each its own assimilating best
With its own clime, and nature of its soil
On which they grow!—New Zealand Flora and FaunaSo, here may we enquire
Whence has th’ original Phormium Tenax come?
Since this is not indigenous elsewhere;—
And whence the Rata, Totara, and Pines,
Which in appearance seem of earliest birth?
page 44“New Zealand Survey”: Page 44. And many others of the forest tribes,
Of later origin as younger sons,
Since such-like are in neighbouring climes a blank!
Descending down to shrubs, we instance might
Manukaus, Naiohs, Kawakawas, and
A host of others, no where else are found;
(What in this clime are looked upon as shrubs
Would in another be accounted trees!)
While in return, New Zealand Flora and Fauna; Māori; Imagination; ArtsBlue Gums, and Stringy Barks,
The Oak, the Ash, the Hawthorn and the Larch,
Are in this country but exotics, brought
With many others, which one’s fancy culls
As a variety, far-fetched, and strange,
To be accounted “tasteful”—in advance
Of those content with homely native things!
New Zealand Flora and Fauna; ScienceAll such bring evidence within themselves,
That the New Zealand forest nothing owes
To other climes for seeds to sow her soil
In ancient days!—Nay more, they well deny
That a connexion ever did exist
Between this land, and large Australia;
Or, that betwixt, large tracts of country sunk
Are lost in ocean; see another proof,
Of quadrupeds this country ne’er could boast,
That native are, like those of other climes!

PerceptionNow turning from the valley, let us view
Another scene behind us, worthy note:
This swamp of Mungaroa—the long arm—
Which well its name imports!—(and may not such
Well others represent?)—seen from this height
Attention would demand! There, toward the north,
page 45“New Zealand Survey”: Page 45. A wooded vale a goodly distance runs,
Where flows a rapid stream, meand’ring wide
And contrary to Erratonga’s course,
Which southward flows; so that where both unite
A double distance is the fate of this,
Compared to that, ere reaching to the sea. (3)
Behind yon eastern hills which rises from
This spacious swamp, and stretching to’ard the south,—
Whose range is to its summit gaily clad
With other vegetation, than obtains
Upon the western Hutt, which indicates
Some other kind of soil, which there abounds
Much differing from the west!—Behind this hill
There seems to lie a spacious area
Ere reaching yonder loftier alpine range
Which rears its head as insurmountable,—
And to its summit wooded. Future; Society; Work; ProsperityIn this space
Some valley must exist, yet unexplored,
In all its prestine solitude, as lone,
Expecting gladness in some future day;
When “Enterprise” makes search for greater scope
To exercise itself in industry!
But lo! this swamp,—as from this height ’tis view’d
It bears the semblance of a level lawn;
Or meadow, clothed with a luxuriant sward,
Of large extent, begirt with birch clad hills,
Society; Joy; ImaginationA place attractive for sequestered life,
As from the world apart, but yet within
The reach of social fellowship, when such
Is felt desirable! Here, fancy might
Depict a scene of happiness and ease
page 46“New Zealand Survey”: Page 46. ’Mid flocks and herds, which undisturbed might graze
In rural quiet, save when hills around
Might echo back the bellowing of some bull!
Or, when the bleatings of the playful lambs
Are answered by the baa of dams sedate,
Each careful of its own, with well known call!
Or, New Zealand Flora and Fauna; Workwhen in early morn the forests round
Are vocal with the songs of earliest birds,
Whose strains from hill to hill reverb’ratin,
As striving, which in gladness can excel;
Whose sweet exertions, well might sloth rebuke,
Endeavoring man to rouse to dutious praise!
Imagination; Joy; Perception; MemorySuch fancied pleasures, as embodied here
In all reality, would one remind
Of paradizian joys found in that vale
Where Rassless lived, in ancient story famed!

Descending now from fancy’s Pisgah height
The scene t’ examine;—it declares itself
The former basin of an inland lake,
Connected once with briny tides, which laved
These mountain steeps. Its outlet was the sea,
As it existed once in that deep vale—
“The Upper Hutt,”—deep when compared to this! (4)
But since the briny waters have retired
The Erratonga now a tribute claims
From Mungaroa’s gatherings, which, those hills
By deep indented dells, give to this marsh,
No more the flowing lake! There was a time
When welt’ring waters laved its ferny shores;
And plenteous water fowl sailed o’er its surf
Like little fleets for pleasure, or for need
page 47“New Zealand Survey”: Page 47. In catching prey; and on that little isle,
(A mound-like terra firma when compared
With the deep slimy marsh which it surrounds,)
They’ve sunned themselves, as they their plumage trimmed,
When resting from their sports or fishing toil;
ChangeBut change has passed his hand o’er all this scene,
As one obliterates writings on the sand;
Save such small vestiges remaining, which
Reminds one of the softest whisper made
When a great secret’s told, and scarcely heard! (5)

Along the sloping basis of those hills,
Which formed the shingle beach, on which the waves
Have broke with dashing din; Sciencefor several miles
The margin form’d a good material map,
As if explaining geographic terms;
As promontories, capes, sounds, gulfs and bays,
As once they were along this little sea,
When welt’ring waters curl’d to the breeze,
Ere they were driven hence when earth upheaved;
For see another scene has such displaced!
Since then, the gatherings of the mountain springs
Have only met, comparatively small,
T’ extend in shallowness o’er spacious ground;
So that the waters stagnant have become,
While basking in the sun; whose beams exhaled
Their rising vapours, while residium, left,
Have much accumulated mud produced!
ChangeAs seasons came and went, with changing times,
The moss and rushes grew, and in their turn
Decayed and moulder’d down, but more t’ increase
page 48“New Zealand Survey”: Page 48. Deposit, decomposed to slimy mire;
And all, to send a fresh abundance forth
Of varied vegetation in their kind:
Thus death would seem the essence of new life
While change must mark the steps of passing time!
See now accumulations high have swelled
Above the former bottom of the lake,
To near four fathoms deep, of boggy mire
And vegetive remains; as high is piled
One generation on another, while
Their matted roots increasing; so that now
A seeming solid peaty turf encrusts
The complicated mass, New Zealand Flora and Fauna; Societynow thickly clad
With mosses, rushes, ferns, and woody shrubs,
Adapted by their natures, there to grow,
With phormium tenax in abundance rank,
As such by flowing streams, or in a marsh
Take great delight; thus all marsh loving plants,
Wherever found, their roots still intertwine,
To form the basis of productive soil
For other vegetation in its turn!
But at yon farther end, an ample space,
Sadness; SocietyThere is, which well may termed be “a vile slough,”
Where nought of vegetation can exist;—
A semblance good of dire despondency
When no sweet thoughts occur the mind to cheer!
Thus the whole space, of spongy texture, tells
Its tale of yore authentic, and ’tis still
So dropsically plagued, as ’twould defy
All possibility of being drained,
Unless at some adventurous expense;
page 49“New Zealand Survey”: Page 49. A total quagmire deep!—Māori; Work; Technologywhere slimy eels
Delight to burrow, as they there abound;
Where much ingenious enterprise is shewn
By natives in the capture of such prey!
Civilisation; Work; Nature; Prosperity; Arts; ImaginationHere, as elsewhere, must civilization’s power,
In industry, in enterprise, and skill,—
All three with ardent energy combined,
Must rise and conquer nature’s wildness, and
Upon her work far other changes bold
To bring her to subjection; thus, must mind,
As aided by pecuniary means,
Be stamped on stubborn matter, as a die
An image would impress on plastic things;
The while effecting in reality,
What fancy paints, a pleasing happy scene!