Title: The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Author: Joan Stevens

Publication details: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1966

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Sylvia Johnston

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Chapter 1: Early Days: Maori and Settler (1860-1890)

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Chapter 1: Early Days: Maori and Settler (1860-1890)

Their assumption that if there was to be a nation, there had also to be a literature... was an entirely reasonable one.

Allen Curnow

What is a New Zealand Novel? The first question is, what exactly are we to regard as a "New Zealand novel"? Is it a novel set in New Zealand, no matter what it is about? Is it a novel published in New Zealand? For instance, how are we to classify Hugh Walpole, who was born here, as were the thriller writers Norman Berrow and Andrew Mackenzie? What about Will Lawson, Samuel Butler, G. A. Henty? What about Ngaio Marsh, Dan Davin, Hector Bolitho?

It is worth while deciding upon a definition because this makes us consider what we hope to find in a New Zealand novel. It is not enough for the purposes of this book that a novelist lives here; a "New Zealand novel" will be taken to be one which is related to this country, or to its people, or to the experience of life as human beings meet it in these islands. By such a definition we would include Dan Davin's For the Rest of Our Lives, and Guthrie Wilson's Brave Company, both set overseas, but having our citizens for subject; we would include all the others who have written of us at any stage in our history, and we would exclude the purely non-New Zealand fiction even of New Zealanders, the overseas stories of Ngaio Marsh, M. H. Holcroft, Jean Devanny, Ruth Park, James Courage.

This may seem too narrow a definition, but it will give us a measurable topic, and one within which we have unusual qualifications as critics. It is often difficult to judge the truthfulness, balance, vividness or imaginative perception of a novel set in, say, South Africa, Canada, or India. But we can at least make a good attempt at judging the novel set in New Zealand. We may swallow Hollywood's versions of Java, or Sweden—but do you remember what you have thought of its notion of New Zealand? Overseas critics are often astray, naturally enough, with fiction set in this country. V. S. Pritchett complained of Katherine Mansfield's At the Bay that there was in it no sense of there being anybody about—exactly!

The English reviewer of James Courage's The Young Have Secrets (it was Pamela Hansford Johnson) spoke glowingly of the background as "excellently done". How does she know? What other New Zealand novels has she read? Would you agree with her?

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There is of course another side to this New Zealandness. Readers who accept the imaginative transformation of reality in novels of the European or the American tradition, may tend to react sharply against it when the setting is local. In the visual arts, New Zealanders are dogged by a sullen prejudice in favour of the directly representational; we prefer the landscape, snow scene, beach, town, or street which we can recognise. Van Gogh would have had short shrift with us. In fiction, too, the artist who transcends reality in the search of a richer truth may meet with violent opposition; M. H. Holcroft writes in an editorial in the New Zealand Listener :

"Many readers want to discuss stories as if they were factual narratives . . . Our pragmatic temper reveals itself in a reluctance to make any concession to fancy. Artistic effect, which must be the writer's aim, is disregarded. Writers are judged, again and again, on questions of fact which for them are of secondary importance, or barely relevant."1 We do, of course, expect novels, as distinct from romances or fables, to bear a recognisable relation to life, but we should beware of condemning a story merely because it startles, annoys, or emphasises an aspect of life which we may personally be unfamiliar with, or prefer to ignore.

The First New Zealand Novels. The first New Zealand novels are pioneer memoirs thinly disguised, and exhibit an uneasy marriage of fact and fiction, of documentary handbook and elaborate plot. Faced with totally unfamiliar environments and unheard-of experiences, the early settlers licked their pencils and set to work earnestly to convert it all into the plot-threaded adventures of somebody else.

There may be said to be four stages to the development of New Zealand fiction—recording, exploiting, preaching, and interpreting. The true business of the novel, in its maturity, is surely the last—to interpret something to somebody. Our writers did not reach this stage until after the turn of the century, and many of course are still today writing more to exploit our supposedly exotic setting than to deal truthfully with a vision of life.

As so few of the early New Zealand novels are available to readers, except in specialist libraries, details will be given of their content.

Exploiting and Recording. The first New Zealand novel is an "exploiting novel", spiced with sensational events drawn from the Maori Wars and loaded with handbook information. This is Major B. Stoney's Taranaki: A Tale of the War, 1861. The second is a "recording novel" using emigrant family material, also spiced and loaded, but not quite so blatantly. It is Mrs J. E. Aylmer's Distant Homes, 1862. Between them, in material as in title, these two established the pattern of the early fiction of the colony.

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To take Isabella Aylmer first. The full title of her story is, Distant Homes; or The Graham Family in New Zealand. Mrs J. E. Aylmer, an Englishwoman who never visited our country, compiled this "novel" from the letters written home by her relatives, filled out with chunks of information extracted from the authorities of the time, Shortland, Thomson, the Settler's Handbook. The Rev. Mr Aylmer, her husband's cousin, was the first minister at Akaroa in the 1850s; he and his womenfolk must have been good correspondents.

Distant Homes —the title indicates the unquestioned English point of view of the book, for one might ask, "distant from where?"—is an artless story, thick with sentiment, comically inaccurate, stuffed with cliches, yet revealing here and there tantalising glimpses of the truth. Its construction is the plain chronological "life and adventures" scheme which served later writers for so long. Typical pieces of these emigrant novels might be labelled: Leaving the Old Home, Shipboard Life, First Sight of Maoriland. At this point the author usually pauses to give us the history, geography, flora, fauna, Maori customs, and so on of "the land we are going to". There follow: Our First Home, Christmas at the Antipodes, The Bellbirds' Morning Hymn, The New Church (omitted of course in those pioneer-emigrant novels which had no religious basis), A Maori Scare. The usual ending might be entitled Success at Last, and would show a group of decently clothed natives, suitably subservient and pious, celebrating with the family their happy establishment in a smiling, tamed countryside. The whole is liberally spiced with the strange new vocabulary: "cowrie", "billy", "tussac", "swag", "Pakeha", and with patches of purple prose inspired by birds, dawns, alps, and bush.

Distant Homes has Swiss Family Robinson in its literary ancestry; no doubt many emigrant families felt very Robinsonish, though there was usually no wreck to swim to for supplies. The earnest, pious, middle-class striving towards economic success which Swiss Family Robinson reflects was just what moved our settlers. Isabella Aylmer, scribbling away back in England as her relatives' astounding letters arrived, had in mind less the question of literary achievement than that of moral and national improvement. She offered a fictional supplement to the emigrant booklets of the time.

The Graham family lose all their money and set off to New Zealand, leaving the eldest son at Cambridge to "master one or two of the languages of the Pacific" before joining them. Captain Graham has with him his wife, two daughters Lucy and Beatrice, and the second son Tom. On the voyage, the author, as I have said, seizes her chance to educate us all, saying, "I think we might employ ourselves very well in finding out something about New Zealand", and remorselessly inserts her facts: "There are several kinds of parrots . . . eighty-three kinds of birds . . ." and so on. The party makes landfall near Nelson, where Captain Graham goes ashore, travelling page 12 overland to Canterbury through "cowrie jungles".

Meanwhile Mrs Graham and the girls continue through Cook Strait. Isabella Aylmer proceeds thus: "... a faint white pillar of smoke rose from the volcano of Mount Egmont ... a sight that one who has once seen never forgets, burst upon them—the volcano in action. . . . Said the pilot; 'the old mountain never gives us warning in vain'."

Promptly upon this there follows the Wellington earthquake of 1855, and the sea almost boils. The ship's captain is equal to the emergency however. He recites to Mrs Graham the psalm, "They that go down to the sea in ships".

Incredible adventures follow. The Grahams buy land in Canterbury near a native "pah", are welcomed to it by a Maori tribe, build a house, have a sentimental Christmas, survive a flood, and buy a piano "to soften and refine human nature". Lucy sets up a school for the local Maoris, who in return befriend her when a rising is fomented by the wicked Wiremu Kingi. She and Beatrice grow up into real pioneers—here is a morning chore, cheerfully performed: ". . . at six o'clock . . . when dressed, Lucy went off to feed the poultry; Beatrice to milk the cows, and make butter for breakfast." Obviously, the Graham family did not let the grass grow under their feet.

In spite of its laughable badness, Distant Homes touches on several topics which recur in early biography and fiction. One is the servant problem. (Bridget the Irish servant is the first of a long line of loyal servants whose dialect provides a comic element.) The maid sits down while Mrs Graham is talking to her, and explains, "You don't let your servants sit down in England . . . but you ain't in England now, and servants are not known here. We only take situations to attend upon people, and expect to be treated like one of the family." Another topic is that of the persistent good works of the daughters of the house, teaching the "cocky's" children, reforming the rough colonial male. Another is the cultured woman's urge to maintain her standards in spite of a hard life; the Grahams bought a piano (like Samuel Butler). Other settlers made do with a flute, but the impulse was the same.

Distant Homes is a novel only half emerged from its chrysalis of fact and personal experience. You can see Isabella Aylmer wavering now and then. In chapter 12 she says: "Captain Graham and Tom [went] to visit an old friend, who had settled at Akaroa, with his family. Akaroa is one of the prettiest and most thriving little settlements in Canterbury; the church and parsonage, built by the Rev. W. Aylmer, one of the best out here." Note what has happened; the author has forgotten which is letter writer, which novelist. "Out here", she says unguardedly, though in most of the book the viewpoint is English. And what is the Rev. Mr Aylmer doing there, with church and parsonage, a character among other characters in page 13 his cousin's book? Distant Homes is certainly a "recording" novel.

Maori Fiction—Exploiting. Major Stoney in his Taranaki: A Tale of the War, on the other hand, is out to exploit our material rather than to record it. He offers "An Account (chiefly taken from the Despatches) of the Principal contests with the Natives ..." as well as a violently sensational plot. The Maori race and the wars of course gave a masculine romancer just the chance he was looking for. With Fenimore Cooper, G. A. Henty, and later Rider Haggard to copy, who could go wrong? You needed only the hero, preferably of officer caste, a Maori princess or a settler's daughter or both, tribal jealousies, a tohunga or two, some military skirmishes, a few bloodcurdling yells, and the trick was done. Mix well with muskets and inaccurate Maori, and serve up to a London publisher. Immediate followers of Stoney include Emilia Marryat's Amongst the Maoris, 1874, and J. H. K.'s Henry Ancrum, A Tale of the Last War, 1872. The latter is just too bad to be even funny.

Both G. A. Henty and Jules Verne exploited the Maori opportunity in blatant potboilers. Henty, in Maori and Settler, 1890, at least took the trouble to get his facts right. He offers the Hauhau troubles, and is stodgily informative. " 'There is Cape Horn,' said the Captain."

Jules Verne's book A Voyage Round the World, 1877, has twice the kick of Henty's. The aristocratic hero and heroine navigate the Waikato River, ascend a tapu mountain (Tongariro) causing it to erupt, are captured, tattooed, nearly eaten, and survive to emerge through the primeval kauri forests at Poverty Bay much wiser for all the lectures which their accompanying geographer Paganel has served up to them on botany, history, geysers, birds, etc. As specimens of Verne's information I quote the following: "The sportsmen found whole coveys of the kiwi." "These moas which Paganel was chasing, the contemporaries of the Megatherium and the Pterodactyles, must have been eighteen feet high." And here is the tattooing of Paganel: "He bore on his chest a heraldic kiwi, with outspread wings, which was biting at his heart." The cannibal feast—at which the hero narrowly misses being the chief dish—is described with enormous relish: "The bodies, still reeking, were dismembered, divided, cut up not into morsels but into crumbs. . . . The drops of hot blood splashed over these festive monsters. . . . but for the cries that emanated from these flesh-sated throats, the captives might have heard the bones crunching under the teeth of the cannibals."

Here are others of this Maori fiction: R. P. Whitworth, Hine-Ra, or The Maori Scout, 1887; H. Nisbet, The Rebel Chief, 1896; R. H. Scott, Ngamihi, or The Maori Chief's Daughter, 1895; W. R. Hodder, The Daughter of the Dawn, 1903; Rolf Boldrewood, War to the Knife, 1898; Atha Westbury, The Shadow of Hilton Fernbrook, 1896.

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UGH! UGH! Many of these Maorified romances appeared after 1886, the date of Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines. The novelist's Maori is a weird creation, speaking a lingo compounded of Cockney, Red Indian (of the "Ugh, ugh" tradition), and the Bible. Some details from H. B. Marriott Watson's The Web of the Spider, 1891, will serve as a further example. It tells a Saturday afternoon serial story of the bush adventures of the hero and his heroine, Ida Caryll. Specimens of the prose are: '"Twas but a little ere he had wrought a hole through which he might espy", and "The stars enkindled the heaven as though 'twere moonlight, suffusing a still and mystic glow." Aotea, a Maori princess, aids the party, and the mixture includes taniwhas, Te Katipo the Hauhau chief, dampers, billy, swags, moonlight massacres, bark sandals, roasted fuchsia berries, and a fight in a flax swamp in the course of which Ida hides in the creek. She emerges at dawn with coiffure and clothing unruffled. Greek letters are found carved on a cliff; translated, they mean "crevice under the third cabbage tree past red face rock westward. Remember Ida". These and the pointing finger of a skeleton finally reveal a hidden treasure. All the party are enriched beyond the dreams of avarice.

Another example of the exploitation of a Maori setting in the interests of a "yarn" is R. H. Chapman's Mihawhenua, 1888. This purports to be a manuscript addressed to the Editor, and found attached to a Maori kite on Mount Alta near Lake Wanaka. It tells a first person story of a mountaineering party that fell down an ice-slide into the lands of a lost tribe, the "Ngati-moe". There are volcanoes, geysers, hakas, and moas used for riding, in a species of Maori paradise.

Two stories which do show some real knowledge of the Maori, and have a serious instructive purpose, are G. H. Wilson's Ena, or The Ancient Maori, and John White's Te Rou; or The Maori at Home, both of 1874. Wilson used Macpherson's prose version of the Ossianic sagas for his chapter headings, presumably feeling there was an affinity between the primitive Gael and the Maori. "This not altogether fictitious story," he writes, "will be acceptable to many who desire to know something of those distant islanders." (Note again the firmly English viewpoint of the phrase those distant islanders.) Ena is a chief's daughter, who befriends the only Pakeha in the story, Mary Morven, survivor of a shipwreck. The mixture otherwise is much as usual—warriors in conclave, tohunga, cannibal feast, treachery, the warpath, storm, battle, the retreat to Kapiti, and so on. Like the chapter headings, the Maori rhetoric is out of Ossian, and is unbelievably stuffy in a Victorian way.

John White was a notable Maori scholar who acted for years as official interpreter to Sir George Grey. From 1876 he was occupied in translating manuscripts of Maori lore for the Government. The page 15 seven volumes of his The Ancient History of the Maori appeared between 1887-1891. He wrote two novels of Maori life, Te Rou, and the posthumously published Revenge, A Love Tale of the Mount Eden Tribe, 1940. Both are ambitious, fully and accurately informed, and amply documented. Yet they are virtually unreadable. Why?

This brings us to the question of the difficulty a novelist of the time faced in recreating the Maori world of the past. Victorian literature provided, as models for the historical novel, chiefly Scott; as models for the novel on native life there was Melville's Typee, perhaps, or Fenimore Cooper; otherwise there was little to copy. There was no body of accepted conventions about prose style, or the presentation of information; a writer of Maori novels had to establish everything for himself. And then the world he was attempting to portray was so totally unfamiliar—its landscape, its people, its history, its customs; even the motives for action could not be taken for granted. And how to render speech?

As a result, Maori novels, if they are serious, tend to sink beneath the weight of explanation. The purely exploiting, entertaining novelist can pluck out the colourful titbits he needs and skim the rest; however wildly improbable his yarn, there will be readers to swallow it. But the truthful imaginative artist who is drawn to fiction with a basis in the past of the Maori people faces a task of enormous complexity.

Light Romances—Exploiting. Third in order of dates in the record of our novels, after Taranaki and Distant Homes, is Lady Campbell's Martin Tobin, 1864. This is a three-volume concoction by a woman whose New Zealand material seems to have come largely from current books. Martin is an emigrant hero, whose lovelife is very complicated, involving an abandoned English sweetheart, a native "wife", and a virtuous high-born maiden, Lucy; he marries Lucy who subsequently kills herself melodramatically upon the grave of her infant son. In the end Martin sails back to England, having met Bishop Hadfield, Sir George Grey, Te Rauparaha and other notables, and taken part in Heke's rebellion. Martin Tobin is a good example of the feminine "exploiting" novel, with a wildly improbable plot and a romantic colonial setting in which, so the authoress supposes, anything may happen.

The next of the women, Charlotte Evans, is, like Major Stoney and Lady Campbell, an exploiter rather than a recorder. She may be said to be the founder of our long line of light love stories. Both her novels, A Strange Friendship and Over the Hills and Far Away, were written as magazine serials, appearing in book form in 1874. They turn on ripe plots, modelled on the worst love mysteries of the English circulating library stock. In A Strange Friendship, Madelaine Ainsleigh, who has emigrated with her brother Alan, turns page 16 out to be no girl at all, but Alan's wicked half-brother Richard. When alongside them somewhere in the wilds of Canterbury settle Dolly and Violet Somerset and their brother Harry, the plot thickens fast. Richard reveals his identity and makes off with Violet. Dolly, in consequence of this, spurns Alan, and Harry loses his money. Then Violet returns to a repentant deathbed, Richard is swept away in a flood on the way to her bedside, equally repentant, and Dolly is left to marry Alan, now the wealthy Sir Alan, a "Carewe of Curtis Knowle". The story is told in turn by different tellers, with liberal doses of the "had I but known . . ." type of suspense. It is obviously a woman's book, with its talk of baby lore, of maids at £30 a year, and its strong (and very silent) men. The love passages must have been quite moving for the times; here is a sample:

"I felt his heavy moustache on my cheek for a moment, then I pushed him away and rose slowly to my feet. I was trembling violently. . . ."

It is only by courtesy of their settings that these can be said to be New Zealand novels. The characters remain nostalgically English, stubbornly elegant and cultivated. They take champagne and turkey for the simple bush picnic, and display on their drawing room shelves, "Kingsley in blue, Macaulay in brown, Thackeray and Dickens in red, and a complete set of the Cornhill Magazine in handsome bindings". The Canterbury scene and life are only incidental; there are some horses, dogs, sheep, paddocks, but the core of the book is sentimentalised personal relationships from the woman's viewpoint, a world into which men enter only as attractive lovers, irritable brothers, or incomprehensible fathers.

The light love story, like the Maorified romance, began early and continues yet. Many New Zealand women write novels at this level, as Maud Diver did for India, Louise Jordan Milne for China. In the 1890s Louisa Baker, who wrote as "Alien", scored up some dozen with titles such as In Golden Shackles, 1897, Wheat in the Ear, 1898, The Perfect Union, 1908, and An Unread Letter, 1909. These have some merit in their kind. The local colour, though a little thick, is well selected, and the stories are refreshingly unselfconscious. Louisa Baker accepts our scene as normal. We are not those distant islanders to her. But there is no character drawing, the New Zealand material is purely external, and the plots are rich in love, gold, piety, violent death (flooded rivers were a boon to the early novelist stuck for a finale), scenic beauty, and Wordsworthian musings. Only the morality redeems these entertainments. They are earnest, feminist, and religious, in spite of a mildly erotic flavour.

More recent writers who have continued the genre have moved with the times in matters of dress, manners, floods, goldfields, tohungas, and the like, but the pattern has remained the same, with its emphasis on the emotional drama swirling about a heroine with whom page 17 the reader is asked to identify herself; probability is sacrificed to plot, and the New Zealand setting is exploited rather than interpreted. At the poorest level the result is as laughable as Charlotte Evans's efforts in 1874. In one recent example of the type, a Maori chief dying in a modern city hospital is restored to life by hearing a golden-throated young Pakeha nurse singing like a bush tui! In more skilful hands, the light romance often has distinct topical interest, but it can seldom survive the passage of time, for its initial assumptions are purely conventional, and date disastrously. Today Louisa Baker can be read only as a historical specimen.

Pioneer Makes Good—Recording. Let us return to the "recording" novels of the 1860s and '70s. The motif of the Pioneer Family Making Good in the New Land recurs constantly; W. H. G. Kingston's Waihoura, 1872, will do for a further example. A middle-class family, the Pembertons, arrive in the North Island, and are appealed to by the local tribe to save their princess Waihoura: " 'Maori girl berry ill . . . Pakeha doctor make Waihoura well.' " They build her a hut, nurse her to health, go in for missionary prayers and teaching, set up a sheep farm; Lucy Pemberton and Waihoura strike up a friendship based partly on the exchange of information useful to the reader about birds, native life, and civilised beliefs. When the Maori Wars break out, the household is besieged and the women captured. In gratitude Waihoura rescues them, and all ends happily.

A later example, John Bell's In the Shadow of the Bush, 1899, is set in the Scandinavian settlements of Wellington Province. Round a love drama in the bush town of Bloomsbury move quite lifelike characters, Scottish farm hands and squatters. The bush is felled, there is a fire, there are male concerts and jollity at the pub. The simple material here is more successful than Kingston's melodrama, partly because Bell, coming nearly thirty years later, can take so much for granted as known to his public, and avoids both explanations and sensationalism. Somewhere between these two in type comes W. B. Churchward's Jim Peterkin's Daughter, 1892, an affair of settlers versus Hauhaus.

Rolling Stones. A different type of recording novel is that which might be christened the "rolling stone" novel, essentially a man's book, not far removed from straight autobiography, such as H. W. Nesfield's A Chequered Career, 1881. Clara Cheeseman's A Rolling Stone, 1886, is however, in spite of its title, only a three-volume library love story whose hero survives various pioneering vicissitudes.

The most amusing of these novels is W. M. B.'s The Narrative of Edward Crewe, 1874. It is told in the first person, in an atrocious, supposedly funny fashion. W. M. B. is one Baines, who in his preface explains that he has retired to England after "many occupations and page 18 callings" in the Antipodes, and finding himself with nothing to do, has decided "to add that of author to the number". Crewe—a nominal disguise for Baines—ne'er-do-well scion of a good family, arrives in Auckland in 1850. After relating a chapter of New Zealand history from Hawaiki to Hobson, he plunges into every experience the North Island could provide. He goes trading to Thames, Te Aroha, Rotorua, Tauranga. He goes canoeing, pig shooting, goat shooting on Rangitoto, fishing for hapuku and crayfish, climbing gum trees. He sets up a sawmill and store near Coromandel, lectures us on the kauri industry, on dams, saws, trees, axes, boatbuilding. He finds gold, works a mine near Cape Colville, explores the Waikato Valley, catches a "sea serpent ... a fearful looking monster surely, with expression in his eye". That sea monster sums up the book. It has crackling life, if you can believe all Baines says, and has much documentary value as a picture of casual life in those times. Its literary value, however, is nil. Baines swoops from colonial colloquialisms, mostly placed in inverted commas or with a gloss "anglice . . . ", to heavy comic writing, of which "Old Sol was getting low" will do as a sample.

Another picaresque novel, showing the later persistence of the type, is Thos. Cottle's Frank Melton's Luck, 1891. This is, says its preface, "a realistic and truthful description of station life in New Zealand, together with a faithful depiction of the historical incidents woven into the story". With its subtitle Off to New Zealand, and its contents—A Sight of Mount Egmont, A Cattle Muster, Chased by a Cow, I Have a Piano, Gold Fever, Bushed, An Up-Country Race Meeting, A Legacy—it is fully representative of the recording novel, still aimed chiefly at the English market.

South Islanders. Rolling stone novels set in the South Island on the whole have a better literary standard, as well as a more serious moral tone. A subtitle for most of them might well be "The New Chum Makes Good". The first to be noted is Alexander Bathgate's Waitaruna, 1881. Bathgate was a Dunedin solicitor, and author of several books, including Colonial Experiences, 1874, the kind of pioneer notes which found a ready sale in England. Waitaruna is similar material shaped into a novel, and has, especially in the incidental scenes, an authentic ring. The preface hopes that "the simple story ends in removing, however slightly, the great ignorance which prevails among many of the people of Britain, regarding these fair Southern Islands . . ." You notice that the motive is the one we have . met before, to inform, but Bathgate is here, not overseas {these islands, not those). He gives us two new chums of whom one fails, the other succeeds. Arthur Leslie becomes only too "colonial", and sinks to being the landlord of a bush pub and married to its barmaid; Gilbert Langton, a cadet of more incorruptible fibre, makes good on a Central Otago run. His virtue is rewarded, for he marries the owner's page 19 daughter (the easiest way of all to pioneer riches). Plotless and naive as it is, the book has an atmosphere, and the diggers of Mutton-town, milkless tea, the lonely "natter" (hermit), the servant problem, shearing, pighunting, river crossings, etc. are picturesquely described. The strong Presbyterian note sounds throughout, as in many Otago novels, and to confirm the moral emphasis it is the Goodie who gets the Girl. A later novel, Sodger Sandy's Bairn, 1913, is a sombre study of life in Otago fifty years ago, as the title page says. Events in it include the Shotover gold rush and shearing scenes among Scots station hands.

William Langton's Mark Anderson, A Tale of Station Life in New Zealand, 1889, bears even more noticeably the mark of the manse in a heavy formal style, varied with some vivid Scotticisms. Langton tells of Mark's emigration, struggles and final prosperity on a Dunstan station. The plot has an unusual twist, for the "Homey", instead of being the humble learner whom the colonials bait and only reluctantly accept, is a superior teacher of manners to the Otago locals, and shows them how to be gentlemen. He defeats cardsharpers, tracks down sheep thieves, masters a dangerous horse, refrains from swearing and eating with his fingers; in fact, he is an intolerable prig. As a reward he too gets the station-owner's daughter, who comes to prefer him to her first suitor, the home-bred he-man, Craig. It is interesting 'to compare Langton's colonial clodhoppers with those in the contemporary woman's novel, as well as with those who figure in the creative imagination of a pious posterity.

Dugald Ferguson is another Scot, who settled first in Australia, then came to New Zealand in 1862, and made his pile selling East Coast cattle to West Coast miners. Ferguson published several books of poems, and in 1893 a novel, Vicissitudes of Bush Life in Australia and New Zealand. His material, the usual autobiographical-pioneer stuff, is shaped by a commonplace melodrama. After 200 rousing pages in Australia, the teller of the story moves to Otago, where he finds his girl who had run off with the bushranger, is cheated by a gentleman station-owner, meets the diggers on the goldfields, and after bush work, shearing, and stock driving between Hokitika and Canterbury, makes money, marries and lives happily ever after. Ferguson published a second novel, Mates, in 1911. He can tell a tale, and manages men's dialogue well, but the women and the love scenes are stiff with starch.

W. S. Walker is a novelist who tried to cover his own times. An Australian, like Will Lawson and Rolf Boldrewood, he exploited the New Zealand setting for several stories. In Zealandia's Guerdon, 1902, he inserts a love and murder plot into a frightful ragbag of South Island information, with a dash of Kipling and Boer War patriotism thrown in. The book reads like a textbook on mineral wealth, tourist attractions, suitable sandhill grass, how to skin rabbits, etc. There is page 20 a lonely boundary rider, a half-caste with a marriage problem, an old chief's reminiscences of the wars, some poetic musings in Maoriland, and several tohungas. Neither style nor technique can be said to exist. You should endure through one such book before you can appreciate the calibre of our best; that is why I mention it.

R. N. Adams's The Counterfeit Seal, 1897, is one of our early historical novels, being a tale of the 1848 Otago settlement. It is very informative, and very Presbyterian.

GOLD! A special variety of novel is that set in the goldfields of the South Island. This topic would seem to guarantee success. That it still attracts our writers is indicated by Ruth Park's novel One-a-Pecker, Two-a-Pecker, 1957, as well as by the inclusion of episodes of goldfields history in stories such as Georgina McDonald's Grand Hills for Sheep, 1949, and Will Lawson's Gold in Their Hearts, 1951. New Zealanders however have not yet made fine literature out of the diggings.

First to publish goldfields fiction was Benjamin Farjeon, of the Otago Daily Times. His Shadows on the Snow (1865?) shows him to be a disciple of Dickens, both in his Christmas sentimentality and in his tendency to caricature.

Vincent Pyke merits three columns in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. He was an Australian miner and politician before he became secretary to the Otago goldfields in 1862, and later member of Parliament for Wakatipu. Among his many activities, he advocated irrigation for Central Otago, chaired the Vincent County Council, and was an active journalist. In 1887 he wrote the standard History of the Early Gold Discoveries in Otago. His first goldfields story appeared in Chambers's Journal in 1867; Wild Will Enderby was published in 1873, and its sequel The Adventures of George Washington Pratt in 1874.

Wild Will Enderby is an entertaining novel. The style is appalling, the plot melodramatic, and the author's perpetual posturing wearisome, but there is such exuberance, such gusto, and so much meaty detail in the picture given of the Dunstan diggings, that the reader skims along regardless, and with popping eyes. Wild Will, an Australian, disguised as Harry Grey, and Pratt, an American, are partners who strike gold. Will disappears, Pratt is accused of murder, but all ends happily, the hero of course getting the gold and the girl. The love story involves a villainess Florence Melmoth, as well as the heroine Mabel. Here is Florence: "a large, ripe, rich beauty. A beauty with lustrous sloe-black eyes, and glossy raven black hair; with creamy white skin, with full rounded limbs, and large but shapely hands and feet; with pearly teeth, and pink, shell-shaped ears; with a voice capable of multifarious inflections, and whose tones she knew how to modulate".

That sort of thing is mixed with digger slang (which is always page 21 glossed), with phrases such as "matutinal repast", "pellucid brooklet", "worthy medico", "whom we wot of", and with cliches in which strong men weep like a child at eventide, and so on. There is plenty of atmospheric scenery, done in the best purple prose. The characters are the stock types of our early novels, the comic Irish constable or servant, the remittance-man, the recluse miner, the blonde heroine, the dark-eyed siren, the incompetent new chum.

Nevertheless, the book has life, and for 1873 was remarkable in being published in New Zealand, and intended primarily for New Zealand readers. There was nothing of those distant islanders in Pyke's attitude to this country. Wild Will Enderby went into three editions in its first year, and was followed at once by The Adventures of George Washington Pratt. As "F. M. Renwick", Pyke also wrote in 1884 a Scottish novel Craigielinn. R. Carrick's Romance of Lake Wakatipu, 1892, includes Pyke as a character.

By the 1890s, our fiction was still only in a rudimentary stage of development. The new environment was so full of variety, sensation, and facts crying out to be noticed, that writers could hardly draw breath to consider, ponder, or select. It seemed at first enough to offer a "realistic and truthful description" of life threaded on to a perfunctory plot; a "faithful depiction of the historical incidents" appeared to provide all the action a writer could wish. Thus recording and exploiting are the main occupations of our novelists in the first thirty years. And to them they brought only the most elementary techniques, imported from the popular Victorian tradition along with other unsuitable pioneer bric-a-brac.

(Topics for Study and Discussion are given in the Appendix.)