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Historical Records of New Zealand

Draught of Instructions for Mr. Menzies (Banks Papers.)*

Draught of Instructions for Mr. Menzies (Banks Papers.)*

The business on which you are employed by Government, for the due execution of which you will be entitled to the salary page 116 you have stipulated to receive, consists of the following articles:—

In all places at which the ship you are on board shall touch and make a sufficient stay you are—

1st. To examine into the nature of the soil—whether it is sandy, gravelly, loamy, boggy, &c., &c., and carefully to remark the size of the trees that grow upon it, as well as whether they stand thick and close, or distant and separate one from the other.

2nd. The nature of the climate as far as you are able to judge of it from the productions.

3rd. The probable degree of fertility of the soil; whether, in case it should hereafter be found expedient to send out settlers, the usual grains, pulse, and fruit of Europe are likely to succeed, and if not, what other sort of produce would in your opinion be the most suitable.

4th. To enumerate, as far as you may find yourself able, the different trees, shrubs, plants, grasses, ferns, and mosses that are found in each country, noting particularly the places where those that are uncommon have been met with.

5th. To dig up plants of such as you consider most curious, plant them in the hatch which is under your care, and preserve them to the best of your ability for his Majesty’s use on your return.

6th. You are from time to time, whenever the ship shall be watered, to acquaint the commanding officer what quantity of water the plants in your hatch are likely to consume by the week or the day, that he may be enabled to make proper provision for their future supply.

7th. You are to collect seeds of all such curious plants as you shall meet with at the season of ripening, and packing them carefully, when fully dry, in paper packages carefully sealed up, send them home by every opportunity that occurs for his Majesty’s use.

8th. You are to dry specimens of all such plants, &c., as you shall judge worthy of being brought home, and more especially of all those of which you shall procure either living plants or seeds, in order that those who are employed in examining the plants you shall bring home may be assisted in ascertaining their names and qualities; and of these you are to deliver one compleat set to the Sec. of State for the Home Department.

9th. All the seeds of plants and the living plants you shall collect in your voyage you are to consider as wholly and entirely the property of his Majesty, and you are not on any account whatever to part with any seeds, plants, cuttings, slips, or parts of plants for any purpose whatever but his Majesty’s use.

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10th. In all your excursions on shore you are to examine with attention the beds of brooks and torrents and all other places where the natural strata of the earth are laid bare by water or otherwise, and wherever you meet with minerals that bear the appearance of oars [ores] of metals, coal, or limestone, or any other thing likely in your opinion to be usefull, you are to collect and preserve specimens of them carefully, noting the exact places in which each was found; you are also to search for similar substances among the pebbles and sand brought down by brooks or rivers from the inland country, and if you suspect them to contain even the most minute particles of metallic matter, for which you are to search with your microscope, you are to bring home samples of them.

11th. You are to inform yourself, as well as you are able, what sort of beasts, birds, and fishes are found in each place where you shall touch that are likely to prove usefull either as food or in commerce; and pay particular attention to the various modes of taking them which the natives or Europeans use. You are to note the places where seals or whales are found in abundance, to pay all possible attention to the natural history of the sea-otter, and to learn all you can concerning the wild sheep said to be found on the coast, and, if practicable, procure the skin of one of them for your employer.

12th. In all places where you can procure a friendly intercourse with the natives you are to make carefull enquiry into their manners, customs, ceremonies, religion, language, manufacture, and every other thing in your opinion likely to interest mankind. And if you find the abominable custom of eating human flesh, which they are said to practice, to be really in use among them, you are, if you can do it with safety and propriety, to be present at some of their horrid repasts in order to bear witness to the existence of a practice all but incredible to the inhabitants of civilised countries, and discover, if you can, the original motives of a custom for which it seems impossible to suggest any probable cause.

13th. You are to keep a regular journal of all occurrences that happen in the execution of your duty, and enter in it all observations you shall make on every subject you are employed to investigate, which journal you are on your return to deliver to his Majesty’s Sec. of State for the Home Department, or to such person as he shall direct to receive them; and also one compleat collection of all the specimens of animals, vegetables, and minerals that you shall have procured, as well as such curious articles of the cloths, arms, implements, and manufactures of the natives as you shall deem worthy of particular notice.

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* This paper, which is in the handwriting of Sir Joseph Banks, is headed “Draught of Instructions for Mr. Menzies.“ Mr. Menzies was the botanist sent out with an expedition of discovery and survey to the north-west coast of America, under Captain Vancouver. The vessels selected for the service were the war ship Discovery, and the armed tender Chatham. (See note to Grenville’s despatch, ante, p. 113.) Mr. Menzies was appointed on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks, who made the necessary arrangements.