Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Survey

Signs of the Times in 1853

page break“New Zealand Survey”: Page 116.

Signs of the Times in 1853.

A Quaint Epistle to a Political Friend on the Introduction of the New Zealand Constitution in Wellington.

“If there’s a hole in a’ your coats,
I rede ye tent it,
A chiel’s amang you takin’ notes,
An’feth he’ll prent it.”


Perception; Morality“Some honest folks will whiles gaewrang,
When dim grows moral sight;—
Weel, gie their een an extra rub
Tae let in better light!”


Good morning to you, brother Dunce!
My best respects to you this once
I mean to pay! With pleasure great
I cannot but congratulate
You on your future prospects bright,
As if you from the depths of night
Had just emerged! Another page
Of politics turn’d o’er, a stage
We’ve got advanced!—EducationHow long we’ve stood
In the A B C with pensive mood,
Unable quite to comprehend
Such mystic lore, nor yet its end,
Though master oft our ears would pinch,
Or hammer like his fist would clinch,
To clear our apprehensions dull,
page 117“New Zealand Survey”: Page 117. By knocking logic through the skull;—
Education; ChangeMay we not yet be quite the dab
In all such lore, as th’ A B, AB
We soon shall master; and besides,
Whate’er on ev’ry hand betides,
From the examples of th’ adept,
If but we’re wide awake t’ accept
Such lessons freely given,—which
Might to our understandings reach
More easily, than what is taught
By precepts, howe’er much they’re fraught
With cunning erudition;—so,
However much accounted slow
In former progress, we may gain
A march upon our masters; fain
To shew ourselves no longer dunces,
Nor yet be subject to the bounces
Of the more pert,—or more impert’nent!
Than we’re by nature, though intent
To learn the right, and how discry
The evils to be shunn’d:—But why
Thus further preface?—I’ll proceed
To shew how Dunces can give heed
To lessons by examples given;
Thus, turning all the odds to even!

Society; Government; Imagination; Liberty; PerceptionHow clashing int’rests are at war,
As each his neighbour would debar
From all those precious liberties,
Fancied or real, said t’ arise
From this our new born Constitution,
With quite as firm a resolution
page 118“New Zealand Survey”: Page 118. As ever fired the fiercest turkey
To pull its neighbour’s nose!—So, hark ye!
Those of the grand Association*
Who boast their ratiocination
Against all others, fain would try,
To find the wherefore and the why,
All their united wisdoms should
Be treated as some physic crude,
Instead of axioms; and their skill
Why oft so baulk’d, as with good will
They’d urge their claims as fit to rule,—
Or fain to mould into a tool
His Excellency;—Ha! he forsooth,
Could well discriminate the truth
They wish’d to hide behind the scene
Of fair pretence; but soon, I ween,
Their private aims will out! Society; NatureAnd now,
Since tables have turn’d o’er, I vow
This grand Association pack
Is of attraction’s powers at lack,
Like some corporeal dissolution;
Or earth’s eruptions in confusion
And much dishiver’d!—Once they tried,
With all their muster’d powers allied,
To make a long and lusty pull,
To drag our Ruler from his stool;

* Such consisted of the most pretentious grandees of the place, and of republican spirit; the leaders striving after place and power, who styled themselves “Liberals;” while designating others who followed not with them as “Nominees.”

See a memorial sent to the Home Government praying for Sir George Grey’s recall.

page 119“New Zealand Survey”: Page 119. Because his shrew’d magnan’mous mind
To stoop to theirs ne felt inclined;
Then, all their rage how like bow-wow
From toothless curs on chain!—But now,
Since ’mongst them Constitution’s thrown,
See how they drag each other down;
While some are flounder’d, struggling, crawling,
Or o’er each other tumbling bawling,
Society; Honour; Current AffairsThus scrambling for the honours it
Has got attached to spare, to wit,
Great int’rests, places with good pay;
Or a good stepstone to the way
Of some promotion had in view,
Which they would eagerly pursue!—
For honour?—Nay, but for the fees,
Though out must go the Nominees!

How some aspirants for renown,
So full of promise, big have grown
With puff’d importance—int’rests high!
Now, who but they must dictate!—Aye,
It makes one wonder much to see
How urgent they’re that we agree
With them, before we’ve time to think;—
Thus making all reverses clink
To suit their purpose,—and to raise,
To highest seat, their man of praise,
As the most fit to rule;—who was
The victor champion in their cause
For Compensation Scrip!—But, hark!
Should sober truth be kept in dark?
(While on this subject, I confess,
page 120“New Zealand Survey”: Page 120. I feel an impulse to digress);
This champion of those interests large
When first he made his general charge,
Arm’d to the teeth with poor men’s wrongs
He took the field! His war-whoop songs
Were but the groans of the distressed,
Taken to serve, as he thought best,
His purpose;—just as borrow’d brats
Which beggars use, exciting flats
To charitable sympathy;—
Which honesty would loud decry
“As downright fraud!”—but differing thus
In subject matter of discuss,—
The beggars pay for what they borrow
To prove the amount of their feign’d sorrow;
But lo! our lordships ’mong themselves
Divide the mighty gains!—no halves,
By way of crumbs let fall, to spare
Those poor unfortunates, as share
In the concern, for wrongs endured
So well employ’d! Society; Prosperity’Tis well assured
That those who least deserved, with care,
Have pounced upon the lion’s share!

But let us turn this subject o’er
And view it on another score:—
Imagination; Colony; HomeYou know, dear brother, when we left
Our comfortable homes, bereft
Of all th’ endearments home could yield
Through social bless; no other shield
Of fair protection had we, than
Mere promises!—Now to a man
page 121“New Zealand Survey”: Page 121. We’ve felt how these have been fulfilled;
Enticed by visions, false and wild,
We have been led a fearful dance*
’Mid troublous times undream’d of; hence
Arose much sorrow and distress,
The bane of ev’ry earthly bliss!
Beneath his burden groan’d the poor,
And wrongs unheard of forced t’ endure;
Now, were those sorrows seized to tell
As arguments unanswerable,
To gain the ends desired; as they
Were lordships sacred property;
Society; MoralityWhile such an act one can’t deny
Was quite a moral felony!

Still further, I perceive ’twas worse,
Whose bearings shew a greater curse;
If duly weigh’d, you’ll there discry
An outrage on humanity!!!
No doubt you give a Dunce’s stare,
As dull of apprehension, where
You ought more actively alive
To look, and thy just claims revive.
Society; Government; MoralityBut you, perhaps, like me, are awkward
In what concerns yourself; and backward,
Through some false modesty, or bother!—
Well, then—could we employ another,
Whom we judge honest, full intent

* Referring to the state of the colony previous to, and during the time of the Maori row in 1854.—(See notes to the “Pigeons’ Parliament.”)

See a letter addressed to the Directors of the New Zealand Company.

page 122“New Zealand Survey”: Page 122. Our case to espouse, and represent,
Our rights to gain? But, querry, who
Is he will trouble take to view
Our case, as we ourselves do feel it?
Aye, there’s the rub!—who can conceal it—
Those chosen, may us not a rap
Regard,—at us may fingers snap,
And let our case go to the breeze
While representing absentees,
Instead of us! Ah! sir, I fear
’Tis hard to meet one as sincere
As we would wish! So let me bring
One instance, that may touch the spring
Of your reflections, and give rise
To thoughts that may one quite surprise:—
Society; Colony; Suffering; Family; Morality; Sadness; ProsperityJust think yourself in such distress
From hunger, and from nakedness,
Brought on thee through no fault of thine,
Which fain ye tried t’ escape;—combine
With that, a helpless offspring train
Crying to thee for bread. What pain
Of soul must such thee yield, to know
You have it not, while double woe
Would tear thy feelings, when ye tried
To gain it, and have been denied!—
Next, think of such-an-one, who loud
Would make thy sorrows known abroad,
As help he craved for thee;—but when
Such calls were heard and answer’d,—then
He to himself retain’d, with pride,
Such benefits, and left thee void!
page 123“New Zealand Survey”: Page 123. Too horrible to think upon,
As still thou’rt left to suffer on,—
Which is, as all will loud reply,
“An outrage on humanity!”*
Prosperity; Suffering; Oppression; HonourSo, such the mode to gain us plann’d,
Their compensations large of land!

Those lordships great, who reap the gains
Of poor men’s sufferings, and pains,
Must now in gratitude bestow
The highest honor they can shew
Upon their “man;” with equal cheer
Would add some mighty sum per year,
Which, to be raised, may add to tax
Laid slyly on your slavish backs!
Thus, by the forelock, Time they took,
To have him made by hook or crook,
As through the land with scrolls they’ve run,
For signatures to “Number One;”
Like catch nets for all sorts of fish
To make up one great handsome dish;
So that we’re left in this condition
We have no power of opposition!—
But mark,—is’t not with hopes full high,
To have a finger in the pie,
Each, in his turn, though now content,

* About four years after the disclosures of the compensation question, discussed at the first electioneering season; and when the second time for a general election was drawing on, was compensation granted to the uncompensated, which would have been acknowledged with a far better grace had such been bestowed at the first great distribution of claims. Now that wrongs are put to rights, we can look back and laugh over the past!

page 124“New Zealand Survey”: Page 124. To make their friend a precedent?

But what if all that mighty fuss,
Some make, as eager to discuss
The Compensation question, to
Our minds, in ev’ry point of view,—
May prove, at length, to be a fudge,
A mere electioneering dodge,
By which, to make us bend their hacks,
And let them get upon our backs
A footing sure, that they with ease
Might vault to places fit to please
The most fastidious; while mere blanks
To our concerns they prove, with thanks
To our great gullibility,
In aiding them to mount so high?
While in the lurch, we’re left to grieve,
Prosperity; Society; WorkThey, laughing at us in their sleeve,—
Full glad that they have got such fools
To deal with, as mere handy tools!

But tother day, the poor clod-hopper,
Was one not deemed as fit and proper,
To be accosted with respect;—
But must trudge on through cold neglect,
His living earning with hard toil,
As stranger to the masters’ smile;
Whose cold reserve, and looks so gruff,
Would say he had not done enough;
Aye, ev’n though he should wrench his neck!—
Now, o’er his head dark clouds will break,
Through which the cheering sun shines out,
Which makes him wonder, leer, and doubt
page 125“New Zealand Survey”: Page 125. If master be in proper mind;
Or if to waggery is inclined;
As favours he would beg most fervent,
As his “obedient humble servant!”

But give hypocrisy its due;—
As rogues are to each other true,
Save, when the spoils they would divide
If aught suspected would decide
Some diff’rence in another’s favour!—
So, see how strenuous the endeavour,
To prove their boon-companions cheats!—
Thus, such competitors for seats
In first assembled parliament,
From former friendships would dissent,
Their powers of rhetoric employing;—
Though with much grace, yet most annoying
To smother’d feeling oft,—would shew
No good can from his rival flow;
While he himself great good things knowing,
Of liberal measures overflowing,
Will be promoter chief:—For why?—
In self-praise, sure, his interests lie!
Society; Love; Government; Oppression; PastThus soaping well the list’ning crowd;
He in their ears can bawl aloud,
“Oh! how I love the working man!”*
Aye! love him?—Surely!—that’s the plan
To gain his flatter’d favours:—though
’Tis on the hustings, a mere show,
Their special ends to gain!—and then

* At this time working men were held in high esteem, and to be considered one was held at a high premium, even by some who a short time before would have scorned the very idea.

page 126“New Zealand Survey”: Page 126. How blandly may they trade again
Our int’rests, and the profits pocket,
And laugh us out of face,—though choked
With rage at our self-folly, and
Our granting powers into their hand
Without control. As such have been
In days of yore, we well may ween
The like might happen, when like sharps
Their tunes will play on our own harps!—
Aye! Brother, ye might well exclaim,—
Society; Government; Morality; Perception“Oh! for an honest man, whose aim
Is simply for the public good,
Apart from selfish views!”—Embued
They’re so with innate self-esteem—
Though all most honorable seem
And complaisant,—(ah! that’s their care),
’Tis question, Sir, if such they are
When put to test? Now in this age,
Ye well may act the ancient sage,
Who lit his candle in broad day,
And staff in hand went on his way;
With full intent the world to scan,
To try and find an honest man!

’Tis thus, dear Brother, I’d advise
To save from glamour your weak eyes,
While this maintains that t’other’s wrong
And t’other cries ’tis “this;” Society; Government; Loss; Perceptionwhen long
Debates upon each side succeed,
As to destroy each others creed;
Or from your mind have yours erased,
Until you’re made to look amazed
page 127“New Zealand Survey”: Page 127. With giddy brain,—unfit to reach
Conclusion, as to which is which!—
While some, like those of evil deeds,
Repentant, now must change their creeds
Political; and own that long
They have been followers in the wrong;
From poor men haters, turn their lovers!
When, eagle eyed, each but discovers
His interests lay; and must deny
Himself of former pride so high;
Though ’tis, I ween, but for time being
And nothing more beyond; as seeing
They’re like th’ unsteady vane, by nose
A-turning, which way the wind blows.—
Some sharpers too now look all smiles,
Much like some serpent that beguiles
Its prey by fascinating spells,—
Why?—Change; Government; Future’Tis their calling: as it calls
New arguments to work upon
Our unaccustomed thoughts, whereon
We have not yet consider’d,—hence
We’re forced to follow in the dance;
Or else gulp down, what we might puke,
If wrong we for the right mistook;—
True!—thus we by experience
Are made to learn, or gather sense,
For future guidance in the art
Of Government;—or take a part
In what are deemed important things,
When just escaped from leading strings!
Society; Government; Morality; PerceptionThus, much concern’d, my thoughts I task,
page 128“New Zealand Survey”: Page 128. And your considerations ask,
While wond’ring who we can employ?
Who faithfully to our hearts joy
Would act our representative;—
Or must we to th’ alternative
Be left, as ’twere ’twixt fire and water
To choose what’s bad, ’cause there’s no better!—
So, taking all things to account,—
Is’t not high time that we should mount
On nose, our best far-seeing gogles,
To keep a sharp look out for bogles;
Other than of the spectre class
Exciting a more loud “alas!”
In us, than when the startled vision
Is puzzled by an apparition?

Society; Government; Law; Prosperity; HonourSome petifoggers long will draw
Their faces, while the ambiguous law
Expounding; while their versions bland
As genuine,—having full command
Of smoothest terms—they’d down one’s throat
Well butter’d cram!—And, sure, why not?
They see their interests are affected;—
Besides,—(what must not be neglected)—
Promotion, with increase of fees,
Lies that way, well to be respected,
And aim’d at, by their arts to please;
While party, too, must be protected
Against the encroachments of another,
Though clothed with “Right;”—as now Law; Perceptionthey rather
Display their genius in the wrong,
Browbeating justice, ’gainst a long
page 129“New Zealand Survey”: Page 129. Array of evidence conclusive;—
So, call they poor men’s claims “delusive!
Because they’re view’d through optics, known
To turn plain truth, right upside down!

Ah! brother, while such politics,
Ye’re made to con, enough to vex
One’s senses; of all double dealings
Beware! unless to nature’s failings
You’ll add a conscience sear’d, and proof
Against compunctions in behoof
Of sterling worth!—Oh! dread with awe,
Supplanting “justice” by the law!—
’Tis better far to be a DUNCE!
In all such lore, than ev’n for once
Despise the dignity of truth!
Or butt of self-reproach, unsooth,
Become, through such strange patterns set:—
May ye from deeds that ill befit
True candour be preserved! and still
Be ever ready to fulfil
The duties of a man of worth,
As well as citizen; and forth
Examples better shew, than shewn
By many, who so big have grown
With puff pretence: while that sweet rest
Of charity “to hope the best”
Still let us foster; but, be bent
Withall, and carefully intent
O’er all their movements to keep watch,
Lest they (as some fair fowls would hatch
Young crocodiles unwittingly),
page 130“New Zealand Survey”: Page 130. Government; LawMight from their brains unfittingly
Some selfish crotchet fondly draw,
And next concoct it into law,
Which might prove worse than crocodile
Devouring of its dam!—meanwhile,
It would no common good fulfil,
But prove the source of lasting ill!

PoetryBut, to conclude this wild epistle,
And so lay past my weary whistle,
I wonder which will prove defendent
(Spectator or the Independent)
Of ev’ry governmental doing
In the new Session next ensuing;
Or who’ll be first in its dissent,
Or most impert with discontent;
Or who will turn each organ’s handle,
When piping up some party scandal;—
Government; Law; War; FriendshipOr if our legislators will,
When they begin to try their skill
At making laws, be like some rooks,
Who favour best themselves!—or books
In babies’ hands, turn’d upside down
When feigningly they lessons con;
Or if, when in some hot dispute,
They either will themselves confute
Instead of fierce opponents; or
Give cause to lengthen out a war
Of opposite opinions, more
Than needful, to clear up some point,—
Though simple, yet with knotty joint,
Grown harder, as ’tis clad with words,
page 131“New Zealand Survey”: Page 131. Setting dear friends at drawing-swords?
Or if when tongues get tired, to fists
They will betake—good pugilists—
Enforcing arguments by blows,
Against the rules of ayes and noes:—
Or if they will their laws befool,
And on themselves bring ridicule
At th’ end, as much as when they started;
Or in the midst get chicken hearted;
And so break down unfit to move,
As might his Honor ’s weal behove?
Or if they’ll prove, to our confusion,
Good hopes in them were all delusion,
While they disgrace with false solution,
The problem of the “Constitution!”

Current Affairs; PerceptionOr if “Dear Spec” will glasses use
When forth he goes in quest of news;
If so, what optics he might have,
Whether of convex or concave;
Because, cries boasting liberal,
Concave will make great things look small;
And convex lenses have renown
For shewing objects upside down!
If Independent would become
Servility itself, as some
Have ventured to prognosticate?—
Nay, some will swear upon their fate,
That “such he has become already!”*

* Such was the opinion of some village magnates who nightly met at a certain store in the Hutt to discuss the disclosures and politics of the times; but in those days there was no such thing as an Advertiser with a gag in his mouth, to prevent him from opposing error with Truth, or verily he also might have had a stirring castigation at their hands.

page 132“New Zealand Survey”: Page 132. As he’s to his supporters steady,—
No matter whether right or wrong.—
While echoing loud, with cuckoo song,
Their mighty claims of high pretence,
To liberality immense!—
A mere fracá, to help those bent
To get their hands o’er Government.

GovernmentOr if our Superintendents next,
Will prove a never failing text,
To much of obloquay in store,
Such as was spent on Governor;
Whose worth they could not comprehend,
Though oft he proved a special friend—
While never from the poor man’s mind
Shall they his memory rescind,
Who wish, as they their scorn disgorge
Such may but equal good Sir George!

Or if the force of other creeds,
Will doom the Doctor to his beads*
By way of pennace for his tricks,
On patients yclept heretics!
Or if those worthy lib’ral forces,
Will prove themselves mere biting horses;
Possessing natures fierce as tigers,
With faces fair, turn’d black as niggers:—
In other words, prove promise breakers,
Of chalked-out courses all forsakers,
Or when to rule, they set about,
If they each office inside out

* See the farce played upon the then Colonial Surgeon at that time holding an appointment in the Hospital of Wellington.

page 133“New Zealand Survey”: Page 133. Will turn, with full determination,
To purge ev’n to extermination,
All they’ve discover’d of abuses,
Save some retain’d for their own uses;
Or if they will amid their hurry,
Outbang the civil Secretary?
Or if the Judge will be exempted,
From all the oustings that’s attempted?*
Or who will act as as judge or jury
Amid their reformado-fury:—
When on such busy work combined
To clear incumbents from their shelves
I wonder if they’ll feel inclined
T’ a reformation on themselves?
Or if we’ll e’er have to endure,
Some low soul’d wretch raised high in power?
Who will upon our shoulders ride,
Whatever sorrows might betide?
All such are puzzles, Brother, though
We’ll hope the best till time will shew;
Allow me then to add no more,
Save bid adieu, and draw my score.

* See the cabal raised against Judge Stephenson.