Other formats

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


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pigeons’ Parliament; a Poem of the Year 1845. In Four Cantos, With Notes. To which is added, Thoughts on the Wairarapa and other Stanzas

Canto II

page break“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 15.

Canto II.

Thus President and ’s loving mate,
In converse strengthening to debate,
The while engaged, like wedded pair,
Who honey-moon had passed so fair,
When sweet confab somehow deranged
For first into a brawl had changed,
Though well begun;—had herald now
Not silence called (his trust) t’ allow,
Due audience to the speaker rising,
As all engaged were, much advising
In titt’rings and loud whisperings
Among themselves concerning things
Of int’rest deep So he in brief
Stood up amidst. First to his chief
He honours made, then to the rest
All round, whom Cropper thus addressed:

“Hail, noble Sire! of high degree,
And come of ancient pedigree,
We own submission to your will,
And thus your high behests fulfil,
Not less than human when they give,
As when superiors own’d receive
Respect or honour;—rev’rence due
As loyalty we offer you.

“This morn I first with pleasure heard
Your sov’reign will to all declared,
So I’ve in common with the rest,
This opportunity embraced
To meet your most distinguished grace,
In your appointed time and place,
And with attention’s due regard
Your most pathetic speech have heard,
Which cannot but in all excite
One common feeling to unite
page 16“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 16. With your’s our int’rests and concerns;
While every one for safety yearns:
Though hard I fear it is to plan
Escape from all devouring man;
For he, as all traditions say,
Is open-mouth’d to catch all prey,
As ravens are. So he is led
By powerful passions, causing dread,
To harmless ones, or fiercer other,
And oft would he devour his brother!

“But, Sire, I need not tread the same
Ground trod by you, or make declaim
Like those who favour seek by rant,
Or act the fawning sycophant;
For then I’d be intruding high,
Upon the heels of majesty.
For special thine, nor does belong
To kindred those of cricket song,
While independence breathes throughout,
Thy speech so free from faltering doubt!
But as you’ve willed so I’ll narrate
What from a friend I’ve heard of late,
A friend indeed of kindred near,
Though from the other hemisphere.
“Well so it happ’d some time agone,
I on a journey sped alone,
Alone indeed with heart full sore,
My mate being killed the day before.
Fatigued, upon a buckateer
I perched which stood the wayside near,
Upon Te Aro Tot’ra Line
(Which natives from its trees define),
Reflecting on my lonely state,
I mourned the loss of my dear mate,
As mankind too have fondly wooed,
The lone retreats of solitude,
That there in peace they may give vent
To wounded feelings in lament;
So from my woes I sought relief,
Thus pouring out my painful grief,—
page 17“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 17. “Woe’s me! I’m quite undone, and fain
Would fly my sorrows, to regain
Sweet peace as wont, but whether can
I fly t’ escape that hunter man.—
Alas! the joys I felt beside
My love, my lately wedded bride,
How soon evap’rating to air,
They’ve gone and plunged me in despair.—
Oh! dear me, still I feel the shock
I felt, when ’mongst the nauseous smoke,
She lifeless dropped quick from my side:—
How short the pleasures we enjoy’d!
Conversing over future joys,
Until me thought I felt the ties
Of love, patern,’ to future young,
Around my heart entwining strong;
But this how blasted! Now the nest
Is cold and comfortless. My best
Though future hopes and joy’s are gone,
The eggs unhatched lie addled. Lone
And cheerless thus bereaved of all
I mourn. What more grief can befall
Even man himself, when made to sigh
O’er loss?—Alas! where can I fly.

I paused to sigh, and happened
Somewhat aside to turn my head,
When lo! to me a welcome sight,
I spied my friend in purest white,
Unknowing come in unawares
As sent to free me from my cares;
So on the road she sat intent
To feed from horses excrement.
I softly cooed—she heard, and round
She quickly looked whence came the sound.
I courage took; first hopp’d in view
Then down beside her straight I flew;
We either gave friendship’s salute,
Nor in wellwishes were we mute.
I praised her robes of purest white,
My green coat too gave her delight;
page 18“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 18. Thus friendship grew!—My heart though pain’d
Grew cheerful as her love I gain’d;
She kindly ask’d me to partake—
Though I complied, t’was for her sake;
I tasted, but no relish had
For such, though could not call it bad;
Said I “though to this kind unused
Small mercies ne’er should be abused
Nor need I hold your taste in scorn,
Though voided, still I find ’tis corn.”

“’Tis true,” said she, ‘though through a horse
’T has come methinks I’ve fared on worse;
For in the country whence I came,
A horse’s food is not the same;
Or else they better chew their food,
Which proves this one’s teeth were not good,
Because, I’ve seen us glad to feed
On other, and more naughty seed,
Though owned by a most noble lord.”—

“Indeed!” said I—“He might afford
A better living sure than this;
For rich he must have been I guess
By such a title. But may hap
That was good reason for escape,
And who could blame?—as ’tis one’s care
If starved at home to seek else where.”

“That may be true,” said she, “but still
You aim awry. Pray let me tell—
For as you know by nature we
Are strangers to duplicity—
My lord was father of a son,
Who’d heedless through all folly run,
No matter what:—his mother would
Him grant more than his sire allow’d,
Which soon was spent ’twixt whores and wine,
Horseracing, Gambling, till in fine
He had become so much the sot,
As soon the family name to blot.
His mother died through shame and grief;
His sire no more would grant relief
page 19“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 19. To all his bills;—and charged with rape
Most narrowly he made escape,
An exile to this foreign clime,—
Self doom’d, a vagabond of crime.
So nature teaches—‘Those that spurn
The laws of virtue, in return
Deprive themselves of happy peace,
And purchase misery ’stead of bliss!’
I was his pet;—he swore by all,
That’s good or bad, what might befall,
How I should bear him company
Where’er he roamed by land or sea.
So caged, submissive to my fate,
I’ve thus been forced to emigrate.
Though me my master much did love,
And called his dearest fav’rite dove,
And for a time me fed with care,
Nor would permit me forth elsewhere,
Yet he to foolish habits bound,
And all his hopes for good unsound,
He squandered soon his father’s gift—
(A shameless prodigal adrift!—)
In revelry; besides, a whore
He kept, soon turn’d him to the door,
Robbed and despoiled of all he had:
Well pounded, blue beat, and most glad
T’ escape with life. Now he must toil,
As menial wretch a neighbour’s soil;
To work though unaccustomed—glad
To earn his scanty crust of bread;
While me, through want, forced to dismiss,
So now I’ve come to dine on this.”

“Bless me!” said I, “’tis passing strange
That such as he should meet such change;
Although, no doubt, he is to blame,
As author of his woes and shame:
But that his punishment should reach
Thee, whom with ill none can impeach,
Me overcomes. Should’st thou agree
To company me to yon pine tree,
page 20“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 20. I’ll entertain thee with fresh food,
Becoming more, and quite as good
As this, or aught such like. Besides,
I fain would learn how it betides
Our race in country whence you’ve come;
For here on life we can’t presume
A moment, but in danger live
From thundering wretches who receive
No harm from us. But they perchance
May all be as your master. Hence,
We may infer their ravenous need,
And thirst for blood are past remede.
They cling to life from hungers claws,
Like drowning man who grasps at straws
For safety. So their maw’s complaint,
May make the devil in the saint
Rise rampant to devour, as we
Were doom’d their prey.—”
“’Tis sad,” said she,

Shaking her head in pensive mood,
Considering what to say for good;
When thus she spoke—“Your leave, I crave,
Your invitation kind to wave;
As I’m unused ’mong trees to rove,
New fruits to me might physic prove,
As this ye would unsavory deem—
While to my mate ’twould ill beseem.
So here we can converse as well
As on a tree. Besides, to dwell
Thus low, by harm we’ll least be found,
For shooters seldom look aground,
But always upward as to sky,
Their prey amongst the boughs to spy;
Good reason why we here might sit
In safety, bent on converse fit;
As ye’ve desired, so I’ll explain
In short, as time hastens amain
For my return, lest my dear mate
I overtire by being late,
Now hatching for me while abroad,
I thus have come in search of food.

page 21“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 21.

“Dear ma’am,” said I, ye’re truly kind,
Which gives me joy; though now my mind
Feels pained in grief, because of late
I’ve lost, by being shot, my mate,
Whom I can ne’er forget, but mourn,
And fear sweet peace shall ne’er return:—
But pray proceed, let me all hear,
Which might my drooping spirits cheer.”

“With you, said she,” “I sympathise
In all the warmth of friendship’s ties;
So, as you’re willing to give heed,
And as I’ve promised, I’ll proceed.—
I was, as I before have said,
Own’d by a noble lord indeed,
Who was a man of high repute
With num’rous retinue to boot,
And ’mong the rest a servant had,
Whose business was to have us fed,
And well attended to; likewise,
We had a tower of lofty size,
In which to live! should I presume,
Its walls for whiteness vied those plumes,
(She looking at her snowy breast
As with remembrance much impress’d)
It hundred doors had round and round,
Through which admittance hundreds found,
To each his place; while harmony
Reigned over all in mutual joy.”

“Oh! happy state,” I cried, and peace
Abounding, so would joy increase,
Methinks, there void of every care—
I wish I could such bounty share.

“Yes,” she replied, “’tis not all gold
That glitters, as I’ve oft heard told,
Though we all lived in unity,
Nor discord knew to break the tie
Of love existing, yet were vexed
Sometimes—in mystery much preplexed;
Wond’ring how neighbours disappeared,
Of whom we no more after heard,
page 22“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 22. Till once the lot had fall’n on me,
Which put my life in jeopardy—
But I’ll explain the reason why:—

“Our keeper chanced to be a maid
In years, who ne’er a lover had,
Yet full of vanity and hope,
With youth and beauty would she cope
In gay attire of silks and furs,
At church and market, feats, and fairs,
To court admirers, showing off,
Exciting more the jeering laugh;
Bathed in perfume, her rotten breath
Smell’d nauseous; while she grinn’d like death
A ghastly smile when looking pleased,—
Then gums shone out, of grinders eased,
Save rotten stumps, I think, but two.—
While nose gave chin a how d’ye do.
With borrow’d ringlets she’d disown
Her natural, which grey had grown.
In short her leathern wrinkled face
’Midst frills and curls made strange grimace.
’Twaswonder’d how she had resource
To such, or if she had a purse,
Which to believe some were inclined
When counting up her fees, to find
The bravery she abroad did wear
Beyond her wages’ purchase clear.
This gossips found, who are deep known
In all affairs except their own.
The truth was this;—The corn she got
With which to feed us, our due lot,
She call’d it waste, but took all heed
To hoard it for some selfish need.
Then sold it to a neighb’ring stabler
That thereby she might be the abler
To deck her awkward form—’Twas thus
We learn’d content, glad to discuss
A meal where’t could be found, as this;—
But often did she more amiss,
page 23“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 23. By nightly stealth;—when all asleep,
She to our dormit’ries would creep,
And seize some unsuspecting sleeper,
Like fox at henroost, yet no deeper
Could be its wiles, for ever there
Oft acting fox she took her share,
As eggs and pullets went away,
And how? ’Twas all a mystery!
But oft she blamed the neighbouring cats,
And dogs, and oft the pilf’ring rats,
Though she was chief. Whilst Willy Cadger,
Was always sure to hold the charger,
To such misdeeds—his greed of gain,
Supporting all her whims so vain;
She, serpent-wise, strangely retained
The family’s favours, and still gained
On their esteem—as full of worth
Industrious, honest, and so forth;
Decent and cleanly, though in years,—
While she with flatt’ry pleased their ears,
In recompence for their good will:—
Thus playing on their harp with skill
She served her ends though base. But now
Of my adventure I’ll tell how.”

“One morning as I walked about,
The base old hag me pointed out,
And vow’d I was a pretty dove,
Saying it did me now behove,
To serve a present need for lace;—
Thought I. such things should quite disgrace,
Her years, to say nought of the deed,
When home-spun plainness should instead,
Of empty gew-gaws serve. But much
It pain’d me how to escape her clutch,
Or act defensive. When to mind
Recalling, once she was inclined
To have a cock, which she pursued
Till he within a corner stood;
Enraged, his feather’s stood on end,
As bent his honor to defend;
page 24“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 24. She thought him her’s; he, though in fright,
To escape determined, or to fight,—
She made to catch, but up he rose,
And pecked her sadly on the nose,
And o’er her shoulder flew once more,
When gladly she the chace gave o’er.—
To play such parts methought I might
Make failure, so I took to flight.
But little thought I of her deep
Designs to take me when asleep.
So closing day had called us home,
When all seek rest, or cease to roam,
Save thieves for plunder who employ,
The night, like other beasts of prey.
I, much fatigued, took to my nest,
There in repose to seek sweet rest,
Unconscious of disturbing harm,
And dreading nought to give alarm;
Till stealthy she with candle glare,
Sought out my place. Well, come my fair!
She said,—and quickly on me seized,
And hastily waddling off, well pleased
She bore her prize; whilst ’neath her arm
Confined, I trembled in alarm,
For fear’d result, no less than might
A captive savage from a fight
By victor led, and bound like beast
Doom’d to be sacrificed, a feast.
Thus to her house, where did await
Another hag she brought me straight,
To whom I was for ninepence sold,
Who soon for me the pittance told,
A sorry price:—then stood to chat
On friendly terms, ’bout this and that,
As each, well pleased with either’s dealing,
Rejoiced in gossip, nought concealing,
Of human weakness, save their own,
And that for virtue setting down.
As thus they talked, and laugh’d well pleased,
My owner’s hold got somewhat eased;
page 25“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 25. I courage took, escape in view,
In bold attempt right off I flew.
They scream’d aloud, me fright’ning more,
As round the house, I sought the door;
So in pursuit in breathless haste,
To catch me round the floor they paced,
I ’gainst the cupboard struck,—when smash
Cups, plates and glasses down did dash,
With sonorous sound, like old crack’d bell,
In church-spire making solemn knell,
At funeral. Our beldame scream’d
In rage, though I no sport it deem’d,
But freedom sought,—I, next, upon
A mirror struck, where candle shone,
Which from the wall down dashed,—but no
Outlet there;—fluttering to and fro
Hard followed, I flew o’er a shelf,
Where bottles stood and other delf,
Which down came clam’rous on the floor,
And raised another wild uproar,
Of ruin, ruin, and lost wine!—
For such I did no more incline
Than she, but to escape her clutch.
Such mischief done provoked her much,
So, that with tongs she aim’d a stroke,
At me, but, missing, struck the clock,
Which on the wall click, clicking hung,
Which down came smashed,—thus helping wrong
By her own rage; while I made pass
Perchance right bolt through window glass!—
How glad I felt, and could compare
Nought with peace, freedom, and fresh air.
Feeling at large, and unpursued,
Upon a high hay stack which stood,
Short distance off, and opposite
From whence escaped, I did alight,
The first accommodation fit,
Where I unseen could pass the night
Still fearful lest more danger might
Succeed, I look’d round—saw all right;
page 26“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 26. But scarce had set myself to rest,
When lo! a noise of tongues arrest
Did my attention.—’Twas a change
From friendship to a war most strange
Of wicked words and noisy strife,
Loud raging as ’twixt death and life,
This, would her ninepence back demand,
Swore my escape the other plann’d,
As on the top of clock I sat,
Where easily I could have been caught.—
The other like a demon yell’d
In rage, as round her she beheld
Her china cups and glasses broke,
Lost wine, smashed plates, and ruin’d clock,
Most vexing, scattered o’er the floor,—
While the demand provok’d her more;
When “Death and fury!’—she bawled out,
Or rather scream’d with yelling shout,—
“You are in fault by losing hold,
You randy ——, you drunken scold:
You say, I planned it!—by my faith,
You leave my house or meet your death!
See what I’ve lost by you ye wretch,
Is’t not enough?—your eyes I’ll scratch!”—
With that, a kind of scuffling fight
I heard, full worse than cats at night,
For screams of madd’ning rage, which made
The watch dog growl and bark like mad.—
Now faithful John, on message sent,
Upon the scene right in he went;
The scuffling noise then ceased apace,
And both at once would state a case,
“One at a time!” he cried,—but both
To give each other place were loath;
But my old keeper, by the bye,
Most eagerly trimm’d off a lie,
To hide her fault.—She vengeful swore,
“This came in drunk with wild uproar,
Demanding wine which I refused,
So see how I have been abused!—
page 27“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 27. Oh! ho, ho, ho! !”—While t’other stood
To truth, to make her case more good,
Her cursing for the greatest liar,
That e’er deserved the devil’s fire,
Calling on John to smell her breath,
If groggy she would meet her death.—
John, much perplexed, which to believe,
Yet thought our keeper would deceive;
“When rogues fall out,” said he, “’tis known
That honest folk will have their own;
At present part, nor add to sorrow,
But come and settle things to-morrow.”
My buyer took the hint most fit,
But vow’d full vengeance on her yet.
John sympathised, yet gave reproof,
Made known his message, and came off.

Thus left alone, amid the wreck
I made her, and much disrespect
Of conscience, she had no control
O’er passion, as she thus made dole.—

“Oh dear me! for this night of grief,
And of destruction done me; chief
And worst of all to be found out
By John, I hate,—who without doubt,
Will make report of all he saw,
And heard from that vile woman’s jaw,
And so have me turned out of place,
And brought to ruin and disgrace,
In years!—Oh! ho, ho, ho!—my due,
Woe’s my poor heart, what shall I do?
Oh, ho dear!—and her ladyship
And misses too, who used to skip,
About me fain, like lambs at morn,
Now me they’ll hold in utmost scorn,—
How can I—ho, ho—show my face,
Or screen myself from this disgrace?—
And my young lord—how he will storm,
And volley oaths of every form
Upon me; that I e’er should dare
Steal his own dove, which he’d compare
page 28“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 28. To none!—Oh! curse this sad mishap,—
What devil led me to this step?—
Instead of blond lace—find my ruin
In recompense for such misdoing.”

Thus she her litany of woe,
Oft bubbled o’er,—while oh, ho, ho!
Was still the burthen of her theme,
Condemning self, as did beseem
Due penitence—but more this fear,
To have at last her wild career
Cut short, and met with due resent
Of foul disgrace and punishment.

Tired of her dole, I could not keep
Much longer watch, so went to sleep;
And slept till some time in the morn,
When rous’d by herdboy’s tooting horn,
Like lordship often overlate,
Dosing a summer’s morn till eight;
But recollecting how I there
Had come, and last night’s strange affair,
I happy felt, as well I might;
Then looking round I saw all right,
And mate beside the doorway sitting,
His feathers trimming up and fitting.
I hasted to him,—told him all,
And how I made escape withal,
He wondered, and with much ado,
Gave sweet salute, with fond caroo.

“Well so he might,” said I delighted,
With her narration thus recited,
Nor could I but congratulate,
Her grand escape from cruel fate.
And also much of int’rest take,
In her confab, for learning’s sake;
To know if in her native place,
Justice were granted to our race,—
Said I, “Good fortune has rescued
Thy carcase safe from being stewed,
In soups or pies, when sold for lace
Thy keeper bringing to disgrace
page 29“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 29. (As I was given to understand,
She was dismissed with reprimand:)
But are all classes, I enquired,
So cared for, whether they’re retired
By nature—undomesticated;—
As those, ’mid lordly scenes located?
Because, said I, such does concern,
Our race here, so I beg to learn.”
At which she pondered, looking grave,
Then kindly thus in answer gave.

“Some I believe do live abroad,
Like others in a common mode,
Inhabiting the mountain glen,
And forests far from haunts of men,
Like hermits lonely and unknown,
Who, owning nought, are owned by none
Or like yourself, ere here we came,
Existing solely savage game;
The diff’rance is, they are protected
By laws the nation’s chief directed
For gen’ral benefit, the same
To them as t’ by proclaim.—

For instance, once a timid hare,
Fell foul unhapp’ly of a snare.—
A poor man happening to pass
Discover’d puss in hopeless case,
Which made him thus bethink himself,—
“Unfortun’tely my better half,
Lies sick at home. Now, certainly,
Good fortune has led me this way,
Where something I might find to cheer
My bedrid love”:—so he drew near,
Made puss his own with the fond hope,
Of treating wife with sav’ry soup.
No sooner than he owned his prize,
When quick his lordship him espies,
Had him pursued and pris’ner made
Nor would show mercy, though for’t prayed,
But strict, pursuant to the laws,
Condemned him for no other cause!
page 30“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 30. On some one of these south sea isles,
In penal bondage now he toils,
From home and hapless family torn;—
His sick wife pin’d and died forlorn:
Four orphans left without a friend,
Victims of av’rice!—How ’twould rend
A heart of stone to hear their woes,
The effect of what are call’d—game laws.”

“Oh, cruel, cruel!” I exclaimed,
“Are such the kind of laws proclaim’d
By Majesty? for the defence
Of others, who give much offence,
Blasting the careful peasant’s hopes,
By much destruction caused to crops,
As done by paroquets and rats,
And other vermin but for cats!
Methought the laws ye hinted at,
Were of a different kind; more pat,
With justice and discretion, than
One should oppress his fellow man.
At least, I thought them such as this,—
That all should deem it great disgrace,
To take another’s life in sport,
Like those that roam to do us hurt!
Or desp’rate gamblers, who for strife
Would stake ’gainst this, or tother’s life
Their all; and them to bloody fight
Compel:—Of such I had a sight.—
Two cocks at war, they knew not why,
Their owners urgent, standing by
Exciting cruel passion!—shame!
To such who’d even own that name.—
And, thought that virtue should increase;
That harmless tribes might live in peace!—
For, that is all our race requires;
And here, if even such desires
Could be obtained,—we’d happy feel
Nor would due gratitude conceal!

Said she,—“This life’s with hopes and fears
Made up; and changing smiles and tears
page 31“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 31. Pervade creation! so tis vain
To wish we might all good obtain
Unmix’d with ill. Bird beast and man
Must bend submissive to the plan
Of overruling fate; cares unforseen,
And unavoidable I ween
Befall us oft, when we receive
Amid our joys some cause to grieve;
But soon forget;—call sorrow vain!
And then we feel rejoiced again!—
But now our time of parting’s nigh
With your leave I must bid good bye.”

“Pray hold!” said I, as she would rise,—
“One question more I would advise;
But not upon your time t’entrude,
Or keep you from your mate so good:
Lest of your stay he anxious be,
While thus your converse gladdens me;
So, can you tell me of the cause
Of all this thund’ring brought to pass
I know not how?—but this I’m sure,
I never heard the like before;
For even now, though distant be
That loud report, it frightens me.

“Oh! ah!” said she, and shook her head,—
“Strange things of late have come abroad,
Because, I heard my master say
Unto a neighbour tother day,
He saw in what is call’d the news—
A printed paper I suppose,—
Where things are published old and new,
And often false, as well as true!—
But what he said, as upon oath
I do believe it as good truth;
He said,—the ruling governor (2)
Has gone some ten degrees, or more,
Astray lunatic, in his care
To please the savage!—Now, a war,
As thanks for all his good, has brought
Upon himself!—He little thought
page 32“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 32. Of such returns, though the comments
Of all the other settlements,
On him their warnings nothing spared;—
Yet, for their weel he nothing cared
Even though devour’d by cannibal!—
No matter, so they don’t rebel
Against his new taxation schemes,
And other whimsical day dreams,
Dishonouring the British crown!—
Yet purchasing himself renown
For folly lunacy and pride,
Pragmatic shifts, and wand’ring wide
From aims and ends!—so now, in fears,
He calls the aid of volunteers
To help him to undo what’s done,
And keep the savage bouncers down;
Who’d take advantage of misrule,
And prove how much he acts the fool!—
Like too indulgent sire, undone
B’ apamper’d, spoil’d, ungrateful son!—
But now makes strenuous endeavour
To punish whom he most did favour: (3)
While those, on whom he would impose
His burdens, and hold by the nose,
Have faithful been! and neer turn’d backs
On him in need, though gall’d by tax.
So, hearing of the bloody fray
That lately happ’d at Island’s bay,
And either to defend his cause,
Or heal the breach he made in laws,
Or dreading danger may attend
Them next, and anxious to defend
Their lives and property from rage
Of savage, eager for pillage!
Who, (hearing what at Kororariki
Have been achieved by Honi Heki,)
Like ravens pouncing on their prey,
When one attempts, may think all may!—
To know what’s what, I’ve no pretence
Wither his cause, or self defence;
page 33“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 33. But one thing’s clear,—a compact plan
Is made ’twixt lord and lab’ring man.
The Lords for safety condescend
To own each lab’ring hind his friend;
While poor men out of other ploy,
The rich man’s favour glad t’ enjoy,
Would for a trifle aught perform,
Ev’n though ’twere to his lasting harm!
Thus they have taken up the song (4)
Of landlords claims postpon’d so long;
To have the original possessors
At once expell’d as their distressors;
Yet were truth on their minds to burst,
I fear they’d find the lords the worst.
How’ver, ’twixtgovernor and all
Is truly raised a strange cabal,
Whether alarms be false or true
Yet all of wars make much ado,
And know not what to be about
More than for foes keep good look out.
Thus all alike impress’d with fears
From rumours spread have volunteers
Become! While erring Governor,
Fond to redeem lost character,
Bestows the privates lib’ral pay
In kingly eighteen-pence a day!
At this, the drunken and the wretched
Are charmed so, as to seem bewitched;
The lazy up his ears now prick,
From work the lab’rer cuts his stick,
And sweating sawyers leave the saw,
And shoulder arms to enforce the law;
Hoping the job might never cease,—
“Long live the wars! a fig for peace!”—
So long’s no skirmish happens here (5)
But fing’ring pay and keeping cheer.
The gloomy tradesman too looks bland,
With one fist rubbing t’other hand,
And shrugging shoulders up, he said,—
“’Tis thus a re-embursement’s made
page 34“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 34. Of taxes oft from us exacted, (6)
By laws of self serve end enacted,:—
Content, though in debenture trash,
Poor substitute for honest cash;
With debtor’s promise, very willing
That year old pounds give birth t’ a shilling.
Trade looks on’t as a heav’nly favour,
While catching pounds is all th’ endeavour;
Thus bustling, making up arrears,
All cry, “Long life to volunteers!”
But haughty landlords fret and frown,
Who used to grind poor lab’rers down
By cheat’ry, and I know not what else,
As spiders prey on poor fly’s vitals.
Now scarce of cash and want of hands,
They cannot meet increased demands
For wages; and their work behind—
They call for help; but not inclined
A whit are those of mushroom blues
To lend a hand:—while each pursues
The course his wild run fancy leads,
Like asses sportive o’er rich meeds,
Well fed and little else to do,—
And full of self importance too;
Fond of their guns, as little boys
Are pleased with their more harmless toys,
With which they fainly soldiers ape—
So glad from labour made escape:
Like kennell’d dogs let loose, for fun
Those volunteers as licensed run
Through bush and clearing searching for ye
Full of the thoughts of shooting maori;
Proud of a chance to try their skill
No matter whether miss or kill:
Yet such are useful you must own
To keep your savage bouncers down.
But some more careful in their aim
Determined on a double game;
As having booty more to please
A lady love to gain her grace,
page 35“Pigeons’ Parliament”: Page 35. And some possess’d of longing wives
Are urged abroad to seek your lives.
And bring your carcases t’ appease
Some cravings ever hard to please.
’Tisthese I dare say, makes you wonder
Why thus, so much destructive thunder,
Pervade even to the inmost shade,
By which thou hast been mateless made;
But hark!—There’s firing somewhat near,—
So lest we be discovered here,
I must begone, before too late,
As anxious I’m to join my mate:
So pray excuse,”—she said, and light
She rose and soon was out of sight.
I also took the hint, and made
Escape into the thickest shade,
And was about, being left alone,
Anew my sorrows to bemoan
When suddenly I overheard
Thy summons, Sire, duly declared.
Accordingly I’ve come, and thus
Made known each subject of discuss
From first to last. Could I but feel
Grateful, as nought she did conceal
Of information asked?—but chief,
And most, the cause of all our grief;
Of which you all may judge as meet
As now I beg to take my seat.”

Thus Cropper his rehearsal closed,
To which, attention, most composed,
Was paid by all, as any maori
Sits list’ning drinking in a story,
With all the gesture and grimaces
By which relators show their graces,—
When—“coo! carroo! carro o! coo, coo!”—
All shouted, showing much ado
In twaddling, as in great applause
They labour’d, such th’ excitement was.

[end of canto second.]