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Letters from New Zealand 1857-1911


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Timaru, January 15th, 1884.

My dear St. John,

Says the wise man: "In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; God also hath set the one over against the other." I am considering, for the fat years have been followed by leanness, in other words, the price of wool has fallen, high values given for land have led to failure; there is a dearth of money, and our noble subscription list for the Church must be largely discounted. Its walls, nearly to their full height, are at a standstill, and there is no prospect of any immediate progress. Meanwhile the inevitable croakers are ready with their encouraging comments: "I always said you were attempting too much; look at the result,—a picturesque ruin! "So I preach patience, and reply that the loyalty which I know St. Mary's people have to the Church is not going to fail, even if we have to wait some time before it is fit for use. We have paid our way so far, with the exception of the debt incurred for the vicarage and its site, and, by way of easing the finances of the parish, as the Vestry deal with me most liberally in the matter of stipend, I am paying the interest due on debentures, by way of rent.

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I have again been to Westland. During my stay there I had an interesting time with the Maories. At Arahura there is a Native School, attended also by a few European children. The Master and Mistress are well qualified for their work, being conversant with the Native language. Owing to some trouble which had arisen with regard to discipline and teaching, I was commissioned by the Bishop, at the request of the Government, to make inquiry, and report. The school is a State school, receiving a considerable subsidy, in addition to small fees paid by the children. Knowing the deliberate fashion of all Native discussion, I gave a whole long day to the inquiry. The committee, consisting of Native chiefs, with one European representative, assembled early in the morning to take evidence from the parents, and Master and Mistress. The real source of the trouble soon appeared. One of the committee, a Maori Chief who had lately come from Christchurch, bringing several children, had taken dislike to the Master and Mistress, and brought charges of mismanagement against them, which broke down completely. He had persuaded one other of the committee to join him in complaining to the Government, and asking for the removal of the Master and Mistress. Late in the afternoon I summed up the evidence, and gave my decision, completely exonerating the Master and Mistress; and, having drawn up a statement of the case to be forwarded to the Government, I invited the members of committee to sign it. With much deliberation, one by one did so, until it came to the turn of the malcontent Chief. The others looked at him with inquiring eyes, as he approached the table and took up the pen. "No," said he, "I will not page 215sign." Then I remembered advice given me by a man of much experience with the Natives: "You'll find that when they are in the wrong, but unwilling to give in, a little strong language, with some show of contempt, will be more effective than any appeal to reason." Knowing practically nothing of the language, which can be very picturesque on occasion, I fell back on English, which is sufficiently understood. "You refuse, do you? You, who have made false statements, proved to be false! They tell me you pride yourself on being a Rangitira, a man of high birth and character! You are, in my opinion, no better than a sulky schoolboy; you don't know how to behave as a man; I'm ashamed of you! "Up he got, came to the table again, took the pen, and signed the document. Then a look of satisfaction beamed on every face, including his own; the meeting ended, and we went to an evening meal, everyone apparently much relieved by the conclusion of the day's work.

I arranged with them that in the morning two of the committee should meet me in Hokitika, at the Telegraph Office, to sign a message to the Bishop, and inform him of the settlement of the case. They came and did so, and then, from their manner, I saw that there was something still to be done. "Would I come with them into the town? "They took me to a jeweller's shop, and bought a valuable little green-stone ornament. "But," said I, "I've only done my duty, which is part of my regular work for you." "Yes, we know that, but duty isn't everything; we want you to take this, because of our affection for you." So I asked them why did ——— give in at last and sign, did he really mean it? "Yes, page 216he meant it, and he said, your Mana was too strong, he had to own he was wrong." That untranslatable Maori word, which means a something of personal influence and rightful authority.

On my return journey, rain and flood delayed the coach at the foot of the Otira Pass, where we had to remain for the night, in a rough shanty, which leaked like a sieve, but provided us with plenty of food and fire. Several weather-bound miners were there, and conversation took place about a fatal accident which had befallen some prospectors in the neighbourhood, who were camped in a deep ravine, which cuts through the flanks of the Wilberforce ranges. One night a furious flood came down upon them, sweeping away tents and men as they slept. Two escaped, the third was discovered some days later, smothered in sand and shingle, and, said the narrator, "the curious thing was that the poor chap had his blanket still round him, and, gripped fast in one hand, a chess board, like a small backgammon board, closed, with the men inside held in their places with pegs; the other chaps told us that John Davies used to play chess by himself in his tent, at night, after he had turned in."

Have you never noticed, St. John, that, now and then, there are happenings which seem providentially meant for yourself, bringing messages which are of encouragement or warning, from those whom you once knew in life? The man's story meant much to me. Had I not been by chance detained on my journey, I might never have heard again of my old friend, John Davies. "I can tell you something of him," I said. "Some years ago, before I left the Coast, I made friends with him at Ross. He had been page 217a sailor, a miner in California, and was mining in Westland. A bad accident laid him up in the Hokitika Hospital for eighteen months, and there, when I visited him, he asked me to teach him chess. I happened to have a small closed board, fitted with men, which I gave him; I taught him the moves, and he took to trying to solve the problems which appear in the Illustrated News. Just before I left Westland he had recovered sufficiently to be about the ward, and, when I was taking leave of him and others, he said, 'You've been a good friend to me, Archdeacon, I'm a different man now; perhaps we shall never meet again, but be sure if anything happens, wherever I am picked up, this chess board will be found on John Davies.'"

"And he said that, did he? Well now, who'd have thought it would come true?" "Yes," I said, "if you hadn't been here to tell, I should never have known it, and, do you know, I feel sure that John Davies is glad that I know it." They sat in silence some time, smoking, over the fire. "Well, good night, all," said one, "I didn't know him, but his mates spoke well of him, though he did keep a bit to himself; it's a rough life, and many a good chap goes under; glad I met you."

A brilliant morning followed the rain; at an early hour we were atop of the pass, looking down at the glacial torrent in the Otira Gorge, a branch of the same stream which overwhelmed John Davies; rock and snowy peaks bathed in glorious sunshine. "His wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in His pleasure is life: Heaviness may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning." May it be so with my old friend.

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We have had another mission, which has done much good, conducted by the Rev. C. Bodington, of Lich-field. He came with a colleague, at the invitation of the Bishop, for several months' work in the Diocese. We have had the benefit of two long visits from him, a man of real power, keenly in earnest. It is a great privilege, in these uttermost parts of the earth, to have visits from such men, not only for the people but the clergy, who can see little of each other, though in one respect we are better off than our brethren at home, as every parish can count on an annual visit from the Bishop. It will be long before Bodington is forgotten in Timaru.

Owing to the generosity of Mrs. Luxmoore, we have now a good site in the suburb of Sandytown, and a substantial wooden School Church, used for Services and Sunday School. We have also instituted Parish Festivals, as I had them in Hokitika, but on even a larger scale, as they are very popular. It means much work and organization, and is most effective in bringing people together.

October 1st, 1886.

I have let some time elapse before continuing this letter, which I can now do with a light heart, for the "days of adversity" are ending, and those "of prosperity" are at hand again. In August last we were able to consecrate the completed nave of St. Mary's, with a temporary chancel, sanctuary and vestry. Before describing it, let me tell you how this came about. New Zealand, with its small population, page 219must needs have a market over-seas for its produce. Till lately this consisted of wool and wheat and gold. Gold finds a ready sale under any circumstances, but the goldfields, as usual, have seen their best days, and when wool went down in value in the English market, and New Zealand's export of wheat was small, a general stagnation of business set in throughout the country. Then came the invention and perfecting of the process of freezing meat and other articles of food for export. The result is incalculable; it means assured success to an agricultural and pastoral country, which numbers its flocks already by many millions. Wool may fluctuate in value, but people must eat, and the old country will soon discover the quality of New Zealand mutton.

Six years have passed since the foundation stone of St. Mary's Church was laid, but the delay has been an advantage, allowing time for the thorough settlement of the stonework, and seasoning of timber. Armson's design will, I think, compare favourably with any modern building at home. The massive walls allow for deep setting of the double lancet windows, with a wide interior splay of opening; the large western rose window is a fine specimen of plate tracery; the high pitched roof has handsome open woodwork, in which the king-posts, in the form of Celtic crosses, rise from crenellated tie-beams; the wood being Rimu, a native red pine, comparatively light, very strong, and in colour equal to oak. The pillars of the nave are monoliths of red Aberdeen granite, nineteen inches in diameter, standing on stone bases. These are the gift of Mrs. Luxmoore, in memory of her husband. Their capitals, as well as the bosses of the dripstones above the arches, and the corbel tables page 220which support the ribs of the roof, are boldly carved in Early English foliage. We have raised funds also for an organ, not large, but sweet and powerful, by Lewis, of Brixton; the font was given by the teachers and children of the Sunday School, and the lectern presented by my Mother, the temporary furnishings of the Sanctuary, also, by friends.

You may imagine what preparation there was for the consecration, which took place on Thursday, August 28th. We had, as guests, the Bishop of the Diocese, the Bishop of Dunedin, and fourteen clergy. Great interest was taken in the day's proceedings, not only by Churchpeople, but by the citizens generally; the Consecration Service at 11 a.m. and Evensong at 8, being crowded to the doors. The Choir, consisting of fourteen boys and twelve men, well trained by Mr. Ziesler, and Mr. Gooch, our Organist, formerly a Norwich Cathedral choir boy, and trained as organist by Dr. Buck, did their part effectively. At the Luncheon which followed the Morning Service, much was said of the architectural beauty and solid construction of the new Church, which, many think, has no equal in New Zealand, and of the energy and liberality of St. Mary's people who have accomplished such a work. Looking forward to the future, perhaps not very distant, when South Canterbury will become a separate diocese, the Bishop of Dunedin did not hesitate to express his opinion that St. Mary's would become its cathedral, and, when completed, would be in every way worthy the honour. It has been, as you know, an undertaking costing much labour and anxiety, and which means, probably, many a year more of similar effort, but as I listened to the enconiums so generally given, of what has been so far page 221accomplished, and so full of reward for it all, my great satisfaction was in the congratulations which I heard on all sides, during the day, not so much to myself, but to themselves, by Churchpeople; "Our Church, our work,—what a grand day we have had." This is, indeed, "a crown of rejoicing," for it is their work, the work of many,—not a few rich donors, or of large legacies or endowments, but of people, who, in a new land, have to build up their Church, support its ministry, enable it to pay its way, and do its appointed work. "Wouldn't you like to hear that someone has left a large sum for the completion of St. Mary's?" said a man to me, "as one hears is often done in the old world." "No," I said, "I would much rather—if we do ever complete it, see it done by St. Mary's people, for if they do it, I shall be sure they love their Church."

The day following the Consecration was a specimen of the climate here, which I believe some American has described as "a climate of samples." August is equivalent to the English February, but generally milder. We woke to a white world, snow several inches deep. Going down to the 10 a.m. service, we found the choir boys building a snow man in the Church grounds, and the roofs of the building, as if for its baptism, snow clad.

May 1st, 1889.

Nearly three years of hard work since the consecration of the church; single-handed work, for we are not yet in a position to maintain a curate; and, with the additional places of worship, at Kingsdown, six miles distant, and near Beaconsfield in a schoolroom. Some day these may form part of a separate parish; page 222meanwhile, I must do my best, giving them occasional Services. I am tempted at times to compare the work here with that at home; there, certainly, the disadvantages of crowded population, slums in places, much poverty and ill-health, but more clergy than we have to cope with the work. The comparison, I think, is in our favour, though I have to do the whole work of a large church like St. Mary's, much travelling, with some five sermons per week. But then, in every occupation here we work harder than is the custom at home, and no one is a penny the worse.

St. Mary's Needlework Guild, which I have already mentioned, is successfully raising funds for the debt on the Church; paying for certain portions of the fabric, such as the Chancel arch, and the stone-work of the western rose window. They have already established a wide reputation for plain and fancy work, executing orders, and holding occasional sales. The large building, lately used as a temporary Church, is now a Parish Hall, much in use for Sunday School and other work. In it we have weekly meetings of a Dorcas Society, which is thriving. It is a self-supporting rather than a charitable society. Its members pay a small weekly sum, which is doubled by the contributions of honorary members; they meet to do needlework for themselves, under the superintendence of the committee who aid them; material at wholesale prices is found for them, and they are taught to do good work. The weekly payment is strictly enforced, and no time is allowed to be wasted in talk. Each meeting is opened with hymn, prayer, and short Bible reading, by the Vicar. Once a year there is a social gathering of all members and friends, with tea, etc., and an annual bonus in kind page 223is given to the members, of material at wholesale prices, purchased by the society by means of general contributions for its work. It is succeeding well, because of its principle of not pauperizing by gifts, but of teaching self-reliance and self-help. Perhaps I should add that much depends on its good business management, which is in the hands of some of the most earnest and capable Churchwomen that any Vicar could have.

Sunday School work, too, is rapidly increasing, with good success. I am seldom absent from it, not teaching, but generally supervising the work, always taking myself the Morning School, as one large class. It certainly means work on a Sunday that one would gladly be free from, but I regard it as of all importance, especially as we can have no Church day schools; it brings one into personal contact with one's children, and with the teachers, to our great mutual advantage.

Of course, long continuance of such work begins to tell. It is now twenty-three years since I left London for Westland, and, save for the triennial meetings of General Synod, I have not had a single day's holiday. Our staff of clergy is too limited to allow for anything but an interchange of duty. There is no chance here of a month off work, with a locum tenens. So I am meditating a visit Homewards again, having the chance of someone to take charge of the parish for a year, a clergyman, recently arrived in our diocese, as Chaplain to the Bishop, the Rev. W. Winter. I have the consent of the Vestry, and I need hardly say I am looking forward keenly to the great pleasure of seeing the Old World again. Now that you have left your work at Eton, as Master, and are in your vicarage at Mapledurham, I shall hope to revisit you, page 224and talk of past days. Only those who have spent as many years as I have in a new land, which has no past, can understand what a holiday means in the Old World.

In February I attended the session of General Synod, in Dunedin. My Father, the Bishop of Christchurch, gave notice of his intention to resign the Primacy, which he had held since Bishop's Selwyn's departure in 1868, on account of his increasing years; Synod presenting him with an address, expressing the affectionate regret of the Church in New Zealand that his long and effective tenure of the office was about to terminate, having lasted over seven General Synods; and thankfulness for the prolongation of a life of such value to the Church, beyond the ordinary measure. Then followed the election of a Primate to fill the vacancy. It may interest you to know why Bishop Selwyn, and those with him, who drew up our Church Constitution, chose the title "Primate," instead of "Metropolitan" or "Archbishop." It was, I believe, because "Primus" or Primate was the title given in the earliest days of Church organization to the Bishop of Churches grouped together as a Province, who occupied the position of Presidency over them. Such a Primate had no higher spiritual authority or dignity than his fellow Bishops, but, as President of provincial Synods, and of the College of Bishops, he had certain duties committed to him, relating to matters of discipline, such as confirming episcopal elections, with no right of direct interference with the ordinary rule of another Bishop, but in certain cases of irregularity, a certain right of decision, if appealed to. He was also the executive of the Provincial Synod. It was held that though the title "Metropolitan" page 225took the place of "Primate," and later still, that of "Archbishop," "Primate" was the original title of the presiding Bishop, and, as such, was selected in the case of the Church in New Zealand. Perhaps it especially suits the Church, as in New Zealand there are four principal cities, none of which can claim the title of Metropolis. Moreover, the title Archbishop is usually connected with one special see, and city, whereas, in the New Zealand Church, the Primacy is a personal title, belonging to the Bishop who happens to be elected to the office by General Synod. If it were attached to one special see, any vacancy in that see would necessitate the newly elected Bishop being also constituted Primate.

So much for our title of Primate. In this particular election things occurred which were matters of much regret. The canon which regulates the election provides that any Bishop is eligible for the office, but there is to be no proposal of anyone as candidate. No speeches are to be made; voting is to be by ballot; any Bishop who obtains more than half the votes of each order of Bishops, Clergy and Laity, becomes the Primate. If no majority is obtained, a second, and third, ballot takes place; if no election then, the office devolves on the senior Bishop.

On this occasion there was no majority in the first and second ballots. Then Synod, in my opinion, made a grave mistake. In order to secure an election, the Bishop of Melanesia suggested, and Synod accepted, a resolution that the results of the ballot should be disclosed, with the names of the Bishops, and votes recorded for each. This, to my mind, was a violation of the spirit and letter of the canon, which was intended, by means of ballot, in the interests of the

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Bishops themselves, to keep the details of the voting secret. An election was secured, namely that of the Bishop of Wellington, but with the result that it was known that the Bishop of Nelson, the senior on the Bench, had been negatived by the representatives of his own diocese,—a most unhappy position, brought about by our own infringement of our canon. In future some alteration will be necessary in our procedure. Our methods of spiritual appointments are as yet on their trial. Whether they are an improvement on the anomalous system at Home, which seems, practically, to work so well, remains to be seen.

London, 1889. September 30th.

I arrived, a few days ago, in the P. & 0. Britannia, after a most interesting voyage. I went to Melbourne to join her, and had a day or two there to see the wonderful progress the city has made since I saw it in 1866. My first ocean voyage in a well-appointed steamer. What a contrast to the sailing ships in which I rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Horn! and what a delightful exchange of summer seas for the wintry storms of Southern Latitudes! I found a good friend in the Commander, Captain Hector, who was in command, some years ago, of the Southern Gross, Bishop Patteson's mission vessel. We had a day or two in Ceylon, my first glimpse of Indian tropical scenery, a perfect paradise of colour. Unlike other parts of India, showers fall almost every day in the year, which accounts for the lovely freshness page 227of its vegetation. Thence across the Arabian Sea, and a four days' passage up the Red Sea. Much depends, of course, when you first see scenes of great historic interest, in your travels, on weather, and the accidental advantage of light which enhances the view. I was in luck's way; at 5 a.m. in the Gulf of Suez we were slowly coasting along the rugged granite ranges which lie just in front of Mt. Sinai, hiding the actual mountain itself. Sunrise at hand, red yellow shafts of brilliant hue, shooting up behind the serrated range; in the foreground red granite rock in shadow, rising from a deep blue sea. The peak which shuts out the view of Sinai, Jebel Katherina, is over eight thousand feet in height,—on the other side, the Egyptian side, a magnificent mass of granite, Jebel Ghareb, rising above six thousand feet, just caught on its highest points the glory of the rising sun. Going slowly, for we were ahead of our time, I managed to get a rough water-colour sketch of the scene at its best. Under the glare of the mid-day sun it would all have been very different, for the coast line of the Gulf of Suez is as bare of vegetation as your hand, an arid wilderness, all light, with none of the mysterious beauty of colour of shade. By the way, I have seen no intenser blue than that of the Red Sea; whence came the old Greek name? Probably not from any seaweed coral, or the colour of the coast, but a literal Greek translation of the word "Edom," Red; some of the Edomites being dwellers in South Arabia, and the sea taking its title from them, "the Sea of the Red men."

I was the only passenger on deck at that early hour, and was rewarded, not only by the glorious view, but with a cup of coffee, brought me by a deck steward.

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Arriving at Suez, we anchored, to wait for passengers from shore, and to pass the health officers' examination before entering the Canal. Another scene of great interest. On the Arabian side, at no great distance, a great yellow stretch of desert, backed up by mountain ranges; in the foreground, near the water, a group of palm trees, and other vegetation, a few flat-topped houses, known as "the Wells of Moses"; yellow sands, opal tinted, misty mountains; a caravan of camels, slowly wending its way from inland to the Wells, and over all the intense silence of the desert brooding. The tradition that this was one of the halting places of the Children of Israel, as they journeyed towards Sinai, is probably true. On the Egyptian side of the Gulf, the characteristic rocks and cliffs here come to an end in a bold headland, Ras Mohammed, the reputed place of the crossing of the Israelites, but it is now well established that the crossing took place near the site of the bitter lakes, through which the Canal passes.

It was evening before we entered the Canal. At its mouth we passed a large steam dredge, full of the spoil of the Canal, with the word "Pharoah" on its bow! How are the mighty fallen!! Pharoah slaving for the Children of Japhet; 'Japhet dwelling in the tents of Shem! Along the banks of the Canal, in the evening light, strings of camels and asses, with their owners; here and there a small encampment, with women and children, all in the costume which has lasted from the days of Abraham and Moses. Complete silence, save for a few voices, and then the shades of night; stars like lamps hanging above in a blue-black sky, and on ahead our powerful searchlight, throwing its beams on each side of the Canal, page 229and giving the sand the effect of snow; the actual course of the deep water channel being marked out with gas-lit buoys. So we travelled very slowly all night, and on deck I re-read the story of Israel's departure from Egypt. Next morning, passing by Lake Menzaleh, with its squadrons of flamingoes and cranes, we reached Port Said.

At Suez we took on board some homeward-bound passengers, and there was much talk of the state of affairs in Egypt, the abandonment of the Sudan, the tragedy of Gordon's death at Khartoum, and the possible danger of a Dervish invasion of Egypt. Colonel Rhodes and Lieutenant D'Aguilar had just arrived from Wady Haifa, which is now the Frontier post of defence, situated in the valley of the Nile, at a point where an invading army would probably try to force its way. This fort is now held entirely by Egyptian troops, under English officers, who have trained them so well, that they can be trusted to hold their own, especially when fighting in defence of a fort. D'Aguilar mentioned that he had an Abyssinian orderly, and I asked him whether Christianity, such as it is in Abyssinia, influenced the man's character. "Well," he said, "I don't know much about his morality, but I can tell you one thing. I took him with me one day, amongst the sand-hills in the neighbourhood, to see if there were any of the enemy lurking about, and told him to go up on one of them and have a good look round. He had his rifle, and is a good shot, but, like most of them, loved to carry also several assegais, their favourite weapon at close quarters. Presently he signalled to me that he saw someone, and then, dropping his rifle and brandishing an assegai, he disappeared down the other side of the hill. He page 230returned triumphant, having killed his foe. 'Why did you not shoot?' I said. 'Ah, me like you,—me a Christian. He have no rifle; me like you,—fight fair.'" Abyssinian Christianity, I believe, is in many respects barbaric, but a fact like this seems to show that the salt has not entirely lost its savour.

What splendid work is being done in Egypt, both in the Army and Civil Service, and by men of whom little is heard, and not the least likely to blow their own trumpets. It seems there is a general opinion that the power of Mahdism,—an unknown quantity —is a serious menace to the whole country, and that the position has been brought about, in great measure, by the vacillation of the Home Government, and its almost criminal neglect of its proper responsibility. Acknowledging its responsibility for the good government of Egypt, it shut its eyes to the fact that the Sudan is practically a part of Egypt, and let matters drift into terrible loss and disaster. Something must, and no doubt will, be done,—and will succeed. Great Britain's mission in Egypt will pursue its destined course, as elsewhere, in the cause of true civilization, irrespective of political apathy, or political shortsightedness at Home.

Emerging from Port Said, I persuaded Captain Hector, as we were ahead of our time, to go up through the Ionian Isles and so make his course to Brindisi. He agreed to do so, if he could manage by daylight, as the Islands are not well lit. We soon found ourselves on St. Paul's track in his journey to Rome, "running under a certain Island called Clauda," though we had no need, as they had, "to take trouble to come by their boat." Clauda, now Gozzo, rises with a cliff sheer out of the sea, some five hundred feet, page 231with a light-house atop, a dangerous neighbour for that ship of Alexandria, in which the Apostle sailed, when caught in the tempestuous wind Euroclydon. Early in the morning we passed Cape Matapan, and mountains of Morea. Passing Zante, we caught a glimpse of the Gulf of Corinth, then coasted along the Island of Cephalonia, with its lofty mountain, Monte Nero, the Black Mountain, Homer's epithet for it, black in his day, as it is now, with pines, and its lower flanks dotted with currant vines grown espalier fashion. It reaches nearly six thousand feet in height. Then we entered the narrow channel between it and the Island of Ithaca, ten miles long, and little more than a mile in width. I was busy sketching a picturesque bay, where several Greek brigs were at anchor, when an American passenger came up, and said: "I'm told, sir, that you know all about these old Islands; is this the place where Ulysses used to hang out, and mustered his ships before he went to the war?" "Yes," I said, "it's Ulysses' Island, and tradition says that he used that harbour for his fleet." "Waal," he replied, "I don't think much of his location." "And that was," I said, "the opinion also of the poet Horace, who describes Ithaca as not fit for horses, with scarce any flat land, and scanty vegetation." Passing Santa Maura just before dark, we made a straight course for Brindisi.

Brindisi, in old Roman days, was the termination of the Via Appia, the highway from Rome; its harbour, as to-day, the point of departure for the East, much improved by the Italian Government, but practically what it was in Julius Cæsar's time. I had a few hours ashore, and saw the house in which, they say, Virgil died. Certainly he died in Brundusium, page 232but the house! Well, parts of it are not unlike the old Roman work which exists here. It was amusing to hear the inevitable guide, who probably had little idea of Virgil and his work, say, "Ecco, Casa di Virgilio, Signor." Some of our passengers left by the overland express, which carries the mails, including the Sultan of Johore, one of our feudatory princes, a fine specimen of a Malay, with marked resemblance to a Maori, but a little lighter in complexion. I believe the best authorities regard the Maori race as Malay in origin. Quite an accomplished linguist; he told me that the great impediment to the progress of his people was their indolence. Anxious to improve the production of sago, he had imported machinery, and experts to teach the use of it, but with little result. Like all Orientals, he was fond of travelling. As he stepped out of the Britannia, in an English tourist's suit, I caught sight under his waistcoat, of a broad waist-band of gold net-work, studded with jewels, and, at the end of the crook of his walking-stick, a ruby nearly as large as a nut. He is well known in London, and is, I believe, a persona grata with the Prince of Wales.

Then we went southward to Malta, with a glimpse on the way of Etna, snow tipped, lifting its head above wreaths of cloud; and at Malta found ourselves again in the track of St. Paul. There we had a long day full of interest. As you approach it, making for the harbour of Valetta, Malta looks like a mass of rock, shaped somewhat like a man's hand, slightly arched, with three inlets, flanked by rocky cliffs, like the spaces between the fingers. "One of the great paws of the British Lion," said a passenger to me, as we steamed slowly beneath the grand fortifications of Valetta. We landed and, by advice, secured a guide, page 233whose chief use, having secured us as his prey, was to save us from the beggars who infest the place. In a little toy carriage, drawn by tiny ponies, we went up and down streets hewn out of rock, a few yards only in width, in many places a mere succession of steps. St. John's Cathedral has a magnificent interior, formerly the Church of the Order of the Knights of St. John, who were banished from Rhodes by the Turks. Under them Malta was the bulwark of Christianity in the Mediterranean, and in 1555 repulsed, after a great siege, the whole naval Ottoman force. In St. John's there are chapels dedicated to each of the nine countries whose knights represented the Order, including England, and on the floor of the nave there are no less than nine hundred slabs of coloured marble, tombstones of knights. The Governor's Palace, formerly the Grand Master's, is full of relics of the great siege, armour, weapons, and huge stone cannon balls. It has also magnificent Gobelin tapestries, which were carried off by Napoleon when he took Malta, but afterwards restored. The tradition of St. Paul's visit is strong in the Island, and a little distance from Valetta, in a bay which still retains the old name of Melita, there is a statue of the Apostle. As we did not leave till past midnight, I went at a late hour to the great square in front of the Governor's Palace, and found it thronged with people, of all sorts, taking their ease; smoking, drinking coffee, listening to music, and lounging in every sort of attitude, under the soft, warm, starlit sky. Policemen were there, in plain serge dress, with a sort of dog-whip instead of baton. I asked one of them how long people remained there at night? "Long time; some sleep here all night." "And are there page 234ever fights amongst them?" "No, people here no fight much, use knife sometimes." They are a very mixed origin, Phœnician, Arab, Norman and Italian. Next day, passing in sight of Cape Le Bon, and the Coast of Tunis, we made straight for Gibraltar.

Sunday, 6.30 a.m.,


Not allowed to enter, what is in reality a fortress, till 7 a.m., and then, passing a sentry at a sort of funnel entrance cut through rock, warned that we cannot stay the night without a permit. I went up through steep streets to a large piazza, where the morning market is held,—such a medley of colour; Moors from Tangiers, brawny, picturesque fellows, with donkeys half hidden by broad fiat baskets, piled high with fruit and vegetables. Going a little further, I fell in with the morning parade service of a battalion of rifles, in a Square, flanked by lofty Spanish houses; a high flight of steps leading up to a doorway, serving as the pulpit for the chaplain; choral matins, supported by military band. Thence I found my way for an Early Celebration to a military church, where the chaplain invited me to breakfast. "Lucky fellow," he said, "on your way home; I'm stuck on this rock for months to come; good society, and not an uninteresting place, but little more than a rock." We had to be on board again by lunch time, towards which I contributed, as my purchase in the market, a basket shaped like a bucket, full of grapes, apricots, and pears, which had cost about two shillings.

That afternoon we steamed across the waters of Trafalgar Bay, with all its memories of Nelson, had a glimpse of Tarifa, and the fortifications on the page 235Spanish Coast, then across the Bay of Biscay to Plymouth. A lovely September morning, old England in all its autumn beauty. Early on deck, I met Captain Hector and a young Australian, who, during the voyage, with natural patriotism for the land of his birth, had been, as they say, "blowing" a good deal about the merits of Australia. The Captain, a silent sort of man, had noticed this, and, bidding him 'good morning,' pointed to the Devonshire Coast: "That, sir, you will find, is a country worth living in." We heard that, owing to a strike in the Thames, we were ordered to disembark at Southampton. A special train took the passengers up to London. At the Victoria Station I had a rather sad experience. One of our passengers, from Australia, had died on board, and it fell to my lot to bury him in the Red Sea. He had gone to Australia a year or two ago, hoping to ward off symptoms of consumption. He told me that he was returning, he felt sure, to die. He was found dead in his bunk one morning, and nothing could be discovered from his papers as to the address of his relatives at home, so that it was impossible for the Captain to telegraph or write to them. Standing in a crowd of people, welcoming their friends, and in a mass of luggage, looking for my own, I was accosted by an elderly couple, who asked me if their son had arrived by the Britannia. It flashed across me in a moment who they were, and then, in all the busy tumult of the Station, and the cheery voices of welcome to returning friends, I had to tell them of their son's death. I was glad to be able to be of some comfort to them in such a trouble.

I am,
Yours ever.

H. W. H.