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Check to Your King

Author's Note

page xi

Author's Note

The author has used a novelist's licence in constructing this book. Owing to the fragmentary nature of the de Thierry papers, it would have been impossible to present a biography which did not leak a little at the seams unless access to closer family records in France, England, among the Maoris, or even in the moon, had been suddenly made available. But nothing has been deliberately invented or mis-stated, and where the facts have seemed doubtful, or Charles inclined to draw the long bow, the author has done all she could to draw the attention of the reader to this without crudely calling the Sovereign Chief a liar.

Historical sources, the painstaking work of New Zealand and other historians, have been consulted, and are gratefully acknowledged. But the main source of information was written by Charles himself, and is preserved today in the Sir George Grey Collection of the Auckland Library, though probably it has not been read by a dozen living people. It is a manuscript entitled An Historical Account of an Attempt to Colonize New Zealand. I think Charles wanted this published, both in order to pay his debts and to induce the French to do something about his land claims. It is full of little admonitions: “To the printers” - “To the publishers - insert here.” But the vanishing publishers were quite right. Even in Victoria's day it would have been asking too much that humanity should swim or sink in those seas of ink.

All quotations from this manuscript are given verbatim, as are all letters or extracts from letters throughout the book. The French pamphlet referred to and quoted from in the second chapter is also preserved in the Sir George Grey Collection.

Acknowledgment of kindly assistance is due to Mrs. Emily Morrison, a great-granddaughter of the Baron de Thierry; Mr. John Barr, librarian of the Auckland Public Library, and Miss Maguire, his assistant; Dr. G. M. Tothill, who read the book in manuscript; the Rev. Father P. McKeefry, Keeper of the Roman Catholic archives in Auckland; the Rev. A. B. Chappell; and to page xii Mrs. Rosalie Rawlinson and her daughter Gloria, who have such an encouraging weakness for the Baron as a character.

Since the events of this tale belong to old years, the author hopes she will not be accused of high treason if she adds:

God Save King Charles

His Trees

And when there is no word more that I can say,
No last defence for my frail, lost cities of thought,
Still the trees I have planted here will be wind-blown and gay
And a surer way to the loveliness blind eyes sought.

When hope as body of mine shall be fallen in dust
Still the full blue cups of a jacaranda tree
Were a flagon of beauty the tired heart might trust,
There might be some content in the rosemary.

And the tiny leaves of a maple shall glisten wet,
Or a young laburnum free long tresses of gold,
For the vanquished man shall leave his impress yet.
On that beloved country he could not hold.