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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 40

[Price One Shilling. — Twenty-Five Years in Dunedin

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[Price One Shilling.

Twenty-Five Years in Dunedin.

DUnedin stands at the head of a small gulf, and is divided, both tergally and laterally, from the Suburban Municipalities, by a semicircular zone of very picturesque heights overhanging the city, and commanding a rich and varied view of the ocean, the peninsula, the bay, and the hills and dales—the mountains and valleys in and around Dunedin. Nature has lavishly spread out a most gorgeous panorama before the eyes of her children. An early habituation to the perception of beautiful landscapes cannot fail, in course of time, to train the minds of the future generation of men to as keen an appreciation of Nature's beauties as characterised the ancient Greeks in the height of their unequalled splendour and glory.

The heights overhanging the city are finely adapted for villas, and their inmates are every morning greeted with the cheering beams of Sol reflected from their windows, and they are more likely to rise from their couches with purer and loftier feelings than those experienced by such as drone away their existence amid noisome exhalations and dense fogs impervious to the gladdening rays of Phœbus. The morning is favourable for meditation, piety, devotion, and worship of the God of Nature. Begin the morning well, and you shall end the day well. The rising sun from the heights can be surveyed every morning with increasing delight.

The greatest men loved to greet the rising sun, and to watch his descent into the western main. Let me give a few touches of Homer's pen in describing the rising sun :—

Now, reddening in the dawn, the morning ray
Glowed in the front of Heaven, and gave the day.
The sacred sun, above the waters raised,
Through Heaven's eternal brazen portals blazed,
And wide o'er earth diffused his cheering ray,
To gods and men to give the golden day.
The saffron mom, with early blushes spread,
Now rose refulgent from Tithonus' bed;
With new-born day to gladden mortal sight,
And gild the courts of Heaven with sacred light.
Now fair Aurora lifts her golden ray,
And all the ruddy Orient flames with day.
Soon as Aurora, daughter of the dawn,
Sprinkled with roseate light the dewy lawn,
The Prince arose.

If men thus "with dawning light, rose instant from the slumbers of the night," and bent their ways to their offices in such a serene frame of mind, Paradise would be again restored even in Dunedin. The public taste would be educated, vice would die away, and virtue would again walk the earth in divine beauty.

As I advocated, sixteen years ago, so I repeat: let the Harbour Board reclaim the upper reaches of the Bay, by throwing a breakwater from Grant's Braes across to Logan's Point. That is the narrowest part of the Bay. At present they are only squandering away labour and money in their petty and foolish reclamations. Let them at once lay off a new city, with more spacious thoroughfares, page 2 and in more ambitious dimensions and geometric proportions, on this vast area of watery waste about to be transformed into a terra firma of streets, quays, and docks. Thus we shall have a Cosmopolitan Emporium of Commerce in a great basin flanked with picturesque hills, and which will be soon made to smile in beauty and prosperity as the chosen sites for the lordly mansions of the merchant princes of the New Zealand Venice. Nature intended Dunedin, not to occupy a second-rate, but, on the contrary, the highest position in the Southern Hemisphere.

Let my scheme be carried out, and the whole district of Anderson's Bay, beginning at Goat Hill and skirting the Bay, will be literally dotted over with clusters of villas embosomed in gardens, orchards and groves. In fact, both sides of the Bay will be transformed into pleasing habitations, and charming villages down to the entrance to the Bay. The Mart of Commerce will expand from the Water of Leith to the Pacific Ocean, and will present such an exhibition of the triumph of Man over Nature—of Art and Industry over difficulties, as will cause all the world to exclaim—on beholding the New City of Dunedin, with her princely streets, elegant mansions, spacious squares, capacious docks, masted harbour, and charming villas smiling down from the heights on the busy arena below—"What manner of men were these, and what a wonderful transformation is this!"

Dunedin, at present, has an area of 800 acres. A great proportion of this is extremely rocky, hilly, and shapeless. The ground might be cultivated by the labour of Art into fine sites for villas; but for the purposes of Commerce, it is eminently unsuitable. The streets are mere lanes. The expenses connected with their formation are positively fabulous.

Rome is said to be built upon seven hills. Those hills are mere tumuli compared to the Dunedin hills. This city is built on more than seventy hills, which, in Australia, would be called mountains. Dunedin is built in the form of a vast amphitheatre. The City Belt embraces 550 acres, extending from the Southern to the Northern Necropolis. By adopting my plan, 1,400 acres would be added to the dimensions of the city, or 50 acres more than the combined area of Old Dunedin and its Belt. The environing hills of the Bay, as already pointed out, would become literally covered over with residences, and adorned with gardens and groves—which would communicate with the Bay by means of serpentine walks fringed with various sorts of shrubbery. Thus the Otago Bay might surpass the Bay of Naples.

I have seen Dunedin transformed from a paltry village of wooden tents—containing 400 souls—into a fair city—with one hundred and sixty-three (163) suburban townships—embracing a population of 50,000 souls. It is now the Commercial Capital of New Zealand, and had my counsels prevailed, it should have been the political metropolis. I feel stirring within me an emotion similar to that which animated the bosom of Augustus Cæsar when he told the senate that he found Rome built of brick and that he left it constructed of marble.

I left Melbourne on the 10th of August, 1855, in the "Gil Blas." She made the passage to the Heads in eight days; but the wind being adverse, and the Captain timid, we had the pleasure of cruising along the coast for 14 days. On the 2nd September we anchored inside the page 3 Bay, and on the 3rd came in an open boat to Dunedin. In behalf of the passengers, of whom there were 59 in the steerage, and 8 including myself in the cabin, I penned an address to Captain Nicol. This was the first vessel that sailed from Melbourne to Dunedin, under charter for the Otago Government. I, too, came to Dunedin under an engagement with the Otago Government. In the Port Philip Club Hotel, in the presence of the Rev. William Millar, of Knox Church, Swanston-street, Melbourne, the Agent of the Otago Government himself, also a member of the Executive, induced me to go to Dunedin to initiate a College for the Province. I never heard of even the existence of Otago before that time. I had some half-dozen lucrative affairs in various regions of Australasia. But, hearing from the Honourable William Hunter Reynolds, that Otago was a Scotch settlement, and that Dunedin was called after Edinburgh, I yielded to his entreaties, backed up, as they were, with the remonstrances of my friend the Rev. William Millar—than whom a more honest man never crossed earth's central line—and set my face towards Southern New Zealand. During the voyage I gave lectures on Sabbath to all the passengers. During the day, I used to sit alone on the poop and weep copiously, as if conscious of the impending fate that hung over me. On September the 15th I made my first public appearance in Port Chalmers, the theme of my sermon being "The Instability of Human Nature"—as evidenced in the audacious denial, on the part of the Apostle Peter, of his best friend and Master in distress. On the 22nd I again visited that destitute township, grovelling in ignorance, amid the sublime scenery environing it, and I dilated on the Herculean prodigies performed by Samson. On the 29th September I embarked in my crusade against the ignorance of the Province. Thirty pupils of the elite of the Province were registered in the first High School Classical College established in Otago. Those were real—not sham students, such as disgrace the Otago University. On the 5th October I delivered the first Philosophical Lecture given in Dunedin, in the Mechanics' Institution, situated then on the site of the Cargill Fountain. The subject was "Conscience—Its Character and Design." It was, subsequently, published. At that time I was full of boyish hope and unbounded ignorance of the world and the world's wicked ways. I knew not then, the depths of human deceit and depravity; nor did I dream that Conscience was a weathercock, veering with the varying winds of passion, avarice, and hypocrisy.

On the 21st October I preached, in the forenoon in Dr. Burns's Church, and in the afternoon gave the same sermon in Gaelic in the Mechanics' Institution, for the express benefit of the Highlanders, who had been for the previous seven years expatriated from their country and had not enjoyed an opportunity of hearing the wonderful works of God in their own vernacular tongue.

The attendance from all parts of Otago was good. "Mine eyes enlighten lest the sleep of Death me overtake"—formed the substratum of the first Gaelic sermon delivered in Otago.

On the 28th I again personally officiated in Port Chalmers Church.

On Nov. 4th I delivered a sermon in the Scotch Church, Dunedin, on "The Crucifixion of the Messiah." That was a magnificent example of what every great and good reformer may expect at the hands of a world wallowing in sensuality.

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On the 11th November I rode through the North East Valley, across the woody ridge at its head, to Port Chalmers, accompanied by Alexander Chalmers, Esq., of Chalmerstown, landed at 1 p.m., and at 2 p.m. delivered a sermon on "The Agony of the Saviour in Gethsemane." There the absorption of the human into the Divine will was very remarkable; as, also, the joyful abnegation of self, and the glorious consciousness of a divine heroism and sacrifice. I felt a sublime elevation of spirits as I passed along through Nature's plantations and listened to the warblers of the wood, and feasted my eyes on the picture squeness of the scenery.

On my way homeward, I delivered a sermon at 6 p.m., in a house which then occupied the present site of the Esk Bank Nursery, N. E. Valley. My theme was "The Works of Darkness and the Armour of Light."—Romans xiii., 12. Report says, that this passage was the means of rousing St. Augustine from the lethargy of sensuality and of firing his soul with divine enthusiasm. The night of human ignorance, despotism, and slavery is, indeed, far spent, and the dawn of knowledge—of civil and religious liberty, and of the Golden age is visible in the heroism. Let us cast away the foolish notions and contemptible fooleries of the past, and let us drink of the divine nectar of God, and assert the dignity of man, and contribute to the advancement of the Millennial glory of human nature. Since the days of Paul, no man did more for his fellow-creatures than Augustine. His writings have been a perennial fountain of beauty, piety, and delight to many millions of men and women. In the North East Valley there are now twenty townships—to wit—Ferguslee—Dud-dingstone—Calton—St. John's Wood—May bank—Selwyn—Ascott Vale—Sunnydale—Dalkeith—Kelvin Grove—Morton—Norman by—Maple Hill—Opoho—Churchville—Hawthorne—Broadacres—Wood-lands—EchoBank—Bonally.

On Sabbath, 18th Nov., at 6 p.m., I delivered an oration on the Apostle Paul. In the forenoon, I rode out to Green Island and delivered in an old school-room, a sermon on "the Christian Life a warfare upon Earth." The Apostle nobly asserts that his labours are not to be regarded as barren, but pregnant with mighty results—to wit, the downfall of Idolatry and the Christianising of the world.

On the 25th Bishop Selwyn preached at Port Chalmers. The Bishop was the greatest missionary of the age. He visited the several townships of New Zealand, and extended his labours to many of the Polynesian Isles. He was a good scholar, and an excellent pedestrian.

On the 25th, I rode out to the East Taieri to preach a sermon in the Church—on "Christ the true Model of Moral Beauty." On that occasion, I had to contend with bigotry, malice, and envy. The Rev. Mr. Will, though absent that day himself, was courteous enough to take the key in his pocket, so I lost my journey. But, being assured by some of his parishioners, who came that day, to explain the matter to me, that he had told his hearers that I preached heresy, and that there would be no service that day; and being, also, assured that the people wished to hear and judge for themselves, I made arrangements with Mr. Hastie—whose farm stood hard by the church—to have the use of his barn next Sabbath, I rode across the ranges by the Halfway Bush, and partially strayed from my path, but in being directed at Silver Stream, I managed by hard galloping, to be at Hastie's Barn about half-an-hour after the time prescribed. This stirred up the bile page 5 of the godly minister, and it proved the first rupture between the Church and myself.

"Fear thou not, for I am with thee"—came forcibly that day on my mind, and fortified my drooping heart. I preached a sermon on "Elymas the Sorcerer." There are now several townships on Taieri Plain—The Junction—Riccarton—Mosgiel—Greytown—Outram, &c.

On the 2nd December, at noon, I delivered a sermon on Paul, in Green Island School. In this district there are now seven townships—to wit, Abbotsford, Burnside, Green Island, Brighton, Rosebank, Saddle Hill, Abbotshill. At 6 p.m., I delivered a sermon in Mr. Todd's Barn, Anderson's Bay. This was the first sermon delivered in that district. Mr. Robert Lowe now occupies that beautiful farm on the Sunny Knoll overhanging the blue Pacific Ocean. In that district there are now twenty townships—to wit, Grantown—Shiel Hill—Vauxhall—Silver Acres—Grant's Braes—Portobello—Lamlash—Early Bank—Seaton—Broad Bay—Anderson's Bay—Dunoon—Grassy Point—Burn Hill—Everton—Craigleith—Helensburgh—Newbury—Beaconsfield—Oban.

On the 9th December, I delivered sermons in the East Taieri Church, and also in the N. E. Valley. On the 21st I closed the session, openly at war with the Government and the Church. The session was re-opened on January 2nd. On the 13th I re-delivered, in Dunedin, a sermon on Elymas the Sorcerer. There are many such characters clothed in the robes of assumed holiness—men who make gain of religion and merchandise of the human soul. On the 17th February, in the Dunedin Academy, I lectured on "the Malignity of the Human Heart." On the 22nd I preached in the same place, on "Priestcraft—its sable character and poisonous influences." On the 3rd March I lectured in the Academy, on "Moral Greatness." Such a man, as Paul, comes only once in a thousand years. Self and self-seeking find no place in him. He is content to be the off scouring of the world for its good.

"The Divine Prerogative of God's instruments" formed the basis of the sermon in the Academy on the 10th March. The saints of God have felt the truth of this, in all ages, and under the most excruciating tortures. They have been able to tread on serpents and scorpions, to pass through the fires of persecution unscathed, and, in the teeth of human authorities, to proclaim fearlessly and successfully the idea within them. In the same place, on the 17th, I gave a sermon on "the overwhelming presence of the Deity." The continual sense of the Divine presence hovering over our spirits would convert this world into a blooming garden of roses. Nature would be the boards of our temple and the bending heavens its sublime dome. Everything would be vocal with the music of praise, gladness, and ecstasy. On the 24th I gave an oration on "the ceaseless aspirations of the Spirit after true felicity." The misery of man is the effect of his greatness. Everything here warns him that this is not his rest. He is an exile and a wanderer from the Divine mansions; his mind cannot be filled with the beggarly husks of this world. Immensity and eternity are the native elements of his desires. He would search the ocean and explore the stars and take the throne of the Invisible by storm. He is a god, and owing to this frail tenement of clay, he is also a worm. Hence his misery. I again, on the 31st March, lectured in the Academy on "the fires of a guilty mind." This worm and this fire represent the gnawings of conscience.

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During the first session of the School, I daily at 3 p.m. took a walk up to the Halfway Bush, reading as I went. Then, the country was a wilderness—only some half-dozen settlers residing at the Wakari—Messrs. Hepburn, Marshall, Gillies, Hood, and Chalmers. Now, there are in that district thirty-five townships—to wit—Newington, Dunottar, Nevada, Melrose, Selkirk, Tainville, Roslyn, Sun-nyside, Linden, Bishopscourt, Anderston, Broughton, Lome, Brook-ville, Kirkland Hill, Kaikorai, Roslyn Extension, Hawthorndale, Hapuka, St. Leonards-on-the-Hill, Forbes Town, Wakari, Auburn, Grendon, Maori Hill, Murrayville, Williamston, Woodhaugh, Balmoral, Woodend, Glenleith, Plevna, Abbotshill, Corporationville.

In the Rev. Mr. Hood's Villa, I held weekly services, and once on a Sabbath, delivered a sermon in Mr. Marshall's Barn.

Generally, on Saturday, I rode out to Caversham and the Forbury—where I lunched with the Rev. Mr. Jeffrey—some time Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. Then cantered along the Ocean Beach, for three miles to the Sandhills beneath Anderson's Bay, and returned home by the margin of the Bay. In this district, there have sprung up thirty-three townships—to wit—Kensington, Caledonian Leaseholds, South Dunedin Extension, Hillside, South Kensington, Caversham East, Caversham Rise, Kyneton, Mitchelton, Darley, Calderville, St. Andrew's Extension. Kew, Allendale, St. Clair, St. Andrews, St. Andrews West, Caversham, Sydney, Hampstead, Caversham Extension, Rockyside, Musselburgh, St. Kilda, South Dunedin, Forbury, Forbury Extension, Mount Pleasant, Maryhill, Forbury Cove, Eastbourne, Fitzroy, Forbury Park.

Occasionally, I paid flying visits to the residence of Messrs. Reynolds and Macandrew. The former resided on the site whereon is now built the elegant Villa of Mr. Neil, while the latter occupied Carisbrook House in the Glen—where Mr. Bathgate lives. In this quarter there are now sixteen townships—to wit—Hawthorn Hill, Richmond Hill, Primrose Hill, Mornington, West Dunedin, Eglinton, Barrfield, Fullrood, Williamsburg, Balaklava, Maryhill, The Glen, Richmond Hill Extension, Auchmedden, Corporation township, Carisbrook.

Along the west coast of the Harbour, there have sprung up twenty-six townships—to wit—Ravensbourne, Rothesay, Hastings, Burke's, St. Leonard's, Heme Bay, Roseneath, Glendermid, Sawyer's Bay, Dalkeith, Port Chalmers, Deborah Bay, Blairathole, Purakanui, Evansdale, Osborne, Killarney, Mansford, Merchieston, Bay View, Rocky Point, Reynolds, Inellan, Greenwich Park, Margate, Maple Point. These are pre-eminently marine villages. The view is limited. But, ascending Walker, Stafford, High, and Maclaggan Streets, to the City Belt, the panorama is extensive, sublime, and picturesque. The view, as you walk from the Southern Cemetery, cither within or without the Belt, along the hills and ridges to the Water of Leith, and through the Botanical Gardens to the Northern Cemetery—is, perhaps, the richest, and rarest in the Southern Hemisphere. In the words of Heber—"Every prospect pleaseth." Descending, for example, from Roslyn, as you enter the Gorge above the Old Cemetery, Dunedin North, is seen reposing in sylvan beauty beneath your feet, and embowered amid the hills. Again, descending from Maori Hill to the Water of Leith, what a charming panorama is descried beneath your admiring eyes! It matters not, indeed, from what point you take your observation, the landscape everywhere is simply grand. As page 7 the ancient Greek said—"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever." The prospect never palls. The eye is not satisfied with seeing it.

Take a seat on the green and sloping heights behind and above Maitland Street—with Dunedin on to the Leith in your eye and the Bay and surrounding hills in view before you, while South Dunedin and the Ocean lie on the right, and Flagstaff on the left rising far behind and above Roslyn on the left and Mount Cargill in front towering above North Dunedin—and you have, indeed, one of the finest landscapes in the world to feast your imagination with. Physically, Dunedin is highly favoured. But, what avails all this when its citizens are revelling in ignorance and glorying in ribaldry, roguery, and blasphemy? In the heart of the city, on a Sabbath evening, crowds flock to applaud strolling atheists of both sexes while they make a vulgar jest-book of the Bible, and laugh at God and religion and poison the fountains of moral purity. At the Water of Leith, Materialism rears its hideous head, and fattens on the public spoils of the State. The London University, this year, refuses to act as examiners of such crude crotchets. Perhaps, the Edinburgh University will again, as in the case of the High School, do a dirty action to bolster up iniquity by a law, and to throw a false glamour over a nefarious transaction. I can assure Principal Sir Alexander Grant and his Professorial Colleagues that my voice will reach back "across the Pacific and settle in old Dunedin" and cause their conduct to recoil upon their own heads—and upon the hitherto fair fame of the Institution over which they, at present, unhappily preside. They had nothing to do in the quarrel, and to bring the prestige of an old Seat of Learning to bear upon the question, and to crush me in the dust, is a course of action of such a unique character as cannot fail to bring them into contempt before an important British Tribunal.

Daily, Beattie's lines well up from my heart to my lips, as I walk along this enchanted land—

Oh how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields;
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even;
All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
And all the dread magnificence of heaven—
Oh how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven?

On the site where they are erecting the Bank of New Zealand, stood a wooden shanty called the Royal Hotel, owned by George Smith, who is still alive. Here I passed the first night in Dunedin. All the buildings in Dunedin then did not cost as much as the Bank will cost ere it be finished. Everything was primitive—and Nature was smiling. For the first three months I lodged in Mr. John Hill's house at the foot of the hill, in front of which is now built a continuous line of shops extending from Princes-street to the Shamrock Hotel. There were then only six huts in Rattray-street, and only one in Maclaggan-street, and not more than 12 shops in Princes-street. Opposite Kirkpatrick's buildings there stood two upright posts over a rustic footbridge that spanned a stream of water that ran into the Bay where the Colonial Bank now stands. All north of the cutting was literally a marsh. As I ascended the neck of land connecting Bell Hill with the heights on the other side of Princes-street, my eye page 8 rested on the dome of Mount Cargill, wreathed in fleecy robes of white mist, and my soul caught inspiration at the view. I lodged nearly a year in Mr. Matthews's nursery—and read and wrote continuously—in perpetual view of the finest scenery I ever beheld.

The second Hector of the High School landed in 1856—and on the 10th January, 1857, I started on a grand tour of New Zealand. The night before I left I rode out to the Leith Valley to pass an evening with Edward McGlashan. I had to lead my pony cautiously along the base of the ridges to the west of George-street. Almost all the flat was a quagmire.

The great aim set before me was to establish in each Provincial capital a High School, Grammar School, Gymnasium, or Academy, as Nurseries for a Colonial University—not affiliated colleges—as at present—and a sham University. All my labours were purely disinterested—and, in place of looking after public affairs and fighting other people's battles, had I attended to my own personal aggrandisement, I should, to-day, be the real proprietor of half Dunedin, and nearly all her suburban townships. The bursting open of the gold-fields—not the enterprise of the settlers—set Dunedin ahead of all her Provincial sisters.

Before leaving Dunedin, I left in the hands of my landlord—Mr. George Matthews, a caustic letter on the Old Cemetery. It was published in the Witness—and it caused the Government to erect a blue-stone wall around God's Acre. Curious enough, 23 years after a similar letter from my pen stirred up the Corporation to re-construct and adorn that plot of ground—as it stands at present, at the head of York Place. Indeed, every spot of ground in and around Dunedin has been trodden by my footsteps, and described with my pen. Neither Dunedin, nor, perhaps, any other city, is ever likely to see another man of my stamp. I hope, devoutly and sincerely, that Almighty God will never send forth another man of genius to be slowly murdered for the utterance of the very truth most pure. Genius is too sacred a treasure, and too costly a gift, to be the scorn of fools and the victim of an avaricious world. It is not, however, my business to arraign the dispensations of God's good providence. I have lived many happy days, and enjoyed countless blessed walks in and about Dunedin. I have drunk inspiration from the breezes that swept over the heights of this beautiful city. And I am disposed to say—"Happy art thou, oh Dunedin, a city favoured by the Lord."

In 1980, on the unveiling of my Statue in Dunedin, the spectators will be heard singing somewhat after this fashion—

"The wonders great, which, thou, O Grant!
Wrought'st in New Zealand's land;
Our Fathers, though they saw, yet them
They did not understand."

J. G. S. Grant,

First Rector of High School of Otago, Dunedin, and Founder of the Eight Hours' System of Labour. Dunedin,

Coulls & Culling, Printers and Stationers, Rattray-st., Dunedin.