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EXCURSION TO WAIMATE.
the old Tahitian chief Utamme. No doubt the extraordinary manner in which tattooing is here practised, gives a disagreeable expression to their countenances. The complicated but symmetrical figures covering the whole face, puzzle and mislead an unaccustomed eye: it is moreover probable, that the deep incisions, by destroying the play of the superficial muscles, give an air of rigid inflexibility. But, besides this, there is a twinkling in the eye, which cannot indicate any thing but cunning and ferocity. Their figures are tall and bulky; but not comparable in elegance with those of the working-classes in Tahiti.
Both their persons and houses are filthily dirty and offensive: the idea of washing either their bodies or their clothes never seems to enter their heads. I saw a chief, who was wearing a shirt black and matted with filth, and when asked how it came to be so dirty, he replied, with surprise, "Do not you see it is an old one?" Some of the men have shirts; but the common dress is one or two large blankets, generally black with dirt, which are thrown over their shoulders in a very inconvenient and awkward fashion. A few of the principal chiefs have decent suits of English clothes; but these are only worn on great occasions.
December 23rd.-At a place called Waimate, about fifteen miles from the Bay of Islands, and midway between the eastern and western coasts, the missionaries have purchased some land for agricultural purposes. I had been introduced to the Rev. W. Williams, who, upon my expressing a wish, invited me to pay him a visit there. Mr. Bushby, the British resident, offered to take me in his boat by a creek, where I should see a pretty waterfall, and by which means my walk would be shortened. He likewise procured for me a guide. Upon asking a neighbouring chief to recommend a man, the chief himself offered to go; but his ignorance of the value of money was so complete, that at first he asked how many pounds I would give him, but afterwards was well contented with two dollars. When I showed the chief a very small bundle, which I wanted carried, it became absolutely necessary for him to take a slave. These feelings of pride are beginning to wear away; but formerly a leading man would sooner have died, than undergone the indignity of carrying the smallest burden. My companion was a light active man, dressed in a dirty blanket, and with his face completely
tattooed. He had formerly been a great warrior. He appeared to be on very cordial terms with Mr. Bushby; but at various times they had quarrelled violently. Mr. Bushby remarked that a little quiet irony would frequently silence any one of these natives in their most blustering moments. This chief has come and harangued Mr. Bushby in a hectoring manner, saying, "A great chief, a great man, a friend of mine, has come to pay me a visit you must give him something good to eat, some fine presents, &c." Mr. Bushby has allowed him to finish his discourse, and then has quietly replied by some such answer as, “What else shall your slave do for you?" The man would then instantly, with a very comical expression, cease his braggadocio.
Some time ago, Mr. Bushby suffered a far more serious attack. A chief and a party of men tried to break into his house in the middle of the night, and not finding this so easy, commenced a brisk firing with their muskets. Mr. Bushby was slightly wounded; but the party was at length driven away. Shortly afterwards it was discovered who was the aggressor; and a general meeting of the chiefs was convened to consider the case. It was considered by the New Zealanders as very atrocious, inasmuch as it was a night attack, and that Mrs. Bushby was lying ill in the house: this latter circumstance, much to their honour, being considered in all cases as a protection. The chiefs agreed to confiscate the land of the aggressor to the King of England. The whole proceeding, however, in thus trying and punishing a chief was entirely without precedent. The aggressor, moreover, lost caste in the estimation of his equals; and this was considered by the British as of more consequence than the confiscation of his land.
As the boat was shoving off, a second chief stepped into her, who only wanted the amusement of the passage up and down the creek. I never saw a more horrid and ferocious expression than this man had. It immediately struck me I had somewhere seen his likeness: it will be found in Retzch's outlines to Schiller's ballad of Fridolin, where two men are pushing Robert into the burning iron furnace. It is the man who has his arm on Robert's breast. Physiognomy here spoke the truth; this chief had been a notorious murderer, and was an arrant coward to boot. At the point where the boat landed. Mr. Bushby accom
CEREMONY OF RUBBING NOSES.
panied me a few hundred yards on the road: I could not help admiring the cool impudence of the hoary old villain, whom we left lying in the boat, when he shouted to Mr. Bushby, 'Do not you stay long, I shall be tired of waiting here.”
We now commenced our walk. The road lay along a wellbeaten path, bordered on each side by the tall fern, which covers the whole country. After travelling some miles, we came to a little country village, where a few hovels were collected together, and some patches of ground cultivated with potatoes. The introduction of the potato has been the most essential benefit to the island; it is now much more used than any native vegetable. New Zealand is favoured by one great natural advantage; namely, that the inhabitants can never perish from famine. The whole country abounds with fern; and the roots of this plant, if not very palatable, yet contain much nutriment. A native can always subsist on these, and on the shell-fish, which are abundant on all parts of the sea-coast. The villages are chiefly conspicuous by the platforms which are raised on four posts ten or twelve feet above the ground, and on which the produce of the fields is kept secure from all accidents.
On coming near one of the huts I was much amused by seeing in due form the ceremony of rubbing, or, as it ought to be called, pressing noses. The women, on our first approach, began uttering something in a most dolorous voice; they then squatted themselves down and held up their faces; my companion standing over them, one after another, placed the bridge of his nose at right angles to theirs, and commenced pressing. This lasted rather longer than a cordial shake of the hand with us; and as we vary the force of the grasp of the hand in shaking, so do they in pressing. During the process they uttered comfortable little grunts, very much in the same manner as two pigs do, when rubbing against each other. I noticed that the slave would press noses with any one he met, indifferently either before or after his master the chief. Although among these savages, the chief has absolute power of life and death over his slave, yet there is an entire absence of ceremony between them. Mr. Burchell has remarked the same thing in Southern Africa, with the rude Bachapins. Where civilization has arrived at a certain point, complex formalities soon arise between the different grades of society: thus
at Tahiti all were formerly obliged to uncover themselves as low as the waist in presence of the king.
The ceremony of pressing noses having been duly completed with all present, we seated ourselves in a circle in the front of one of the hovels, and rested there half-an-hour. All the hovels have nearly the same form and dimensions, and all agree in being filthily dirty. They resemble a cow-shed with one end open, but having a partition a little way within, with a square hole in it, making a small gloomy chamber. In this the inhabitants keep all their property, and when the weather is cold they sleep there. They eat, however, and pass their time in the open part in front. My guides having finished their pipes, we continued our walk. The path led through the same undulating country, the whole uniformly clothed as before with fern. On our right hand we had a serpentine river, the banks of which were fringed with trees, and here and there on the hill sides there was a clump of wood. The whole scene, in spite of its green colour, had rather a desolate aspect. The sight of so much fern impresses the mind with an idea of sterility: this, however, is not correct; for wherever the fern grows thick and breast-high, the land by tillage becomes productive. Some of the residents think that all this extensive open country originally was covered with forests, and that it has been cleared by fire. It is said, that by digging in the barest spots, lumps of the kind of resin which flows from the kauri pine are frequently found. The natives had an evident motive in clearing the country; for the fern, formerly a staple article of food, flourishes only in the open cleared tracks. The almost entire absence of associated grasses, which forms so remarkable a feature in the vegetation of this island, may perhaps be accounted for by the land having been aboriginally covered with forest-trees.
The soil is volcanic; in several parts we passed over slaggy lavas, and craters could clearly be distinguished on several of the neighbouring hills. Although the scenery is nowhere beautiful, and only occasionally pretty, I enjoyed my walk. I should have enjoyed it more, if my companion, the chief, had not possessed extraordinary conversational powers. I knew only three words; "good," "bad," and "yes" and with these I answered all his remarks, without of course having understood one word
he said. This, however, was quite sufficient: I was a good listener, an agreeable person, and he never ceased talking to me.
At length we reached Waimate. After having passed over so many miles of an uninhabited useless country, the sudden appearance of an English farm-house, and its well-dressed fields, placed there as if by an enchanter's wand, was exceedingly pleasant. Mr. Williams not being at home, I received in Mr. Davies's house, a cordial welcome. After drinking tea with his family party, we took a stroll about the farm. At Waimate there are three large houses, where the missionary gentlemen · Messrs. Williams, Davies, and Clarke, reside; and near them are the huts of the native labourers. On an adjoining slope, fine crops of barley and wheat were standing in full ear; and in another part, fields of potatoes and clover. But I cannot attempt to describe all I saw; there were large gardens, with every fruit and vegetable which England produces; and many belonging to a warmer clime. I may instance asparagus, kidney beans, cucumbers, rhubarb, apples, pears, figs, peaches, apricots, grapes, olives, gooseberries, currants, hops, gorse for fences, and English oaks; also many kinds of flowers. Around the farm-yard there were stables, a thrashing-barn with its winnowing machine, a blacksmith's forge, and on the ground ploughshares and other tools in the middle was that happy mixture of pigs and poultry, lying comfortably together, as in every English farm-yard. At the distance of a few hundred yards, where the water of a little rill had been dammed up into a pool, there was a large and substantial water-mill.
All this is very surprising, when it is considered that five years ago nothing but the fern flourished here. Moreover, native workmanship, taught by the missionaries, has effected this change; the lesson of the missionary is the enchanter's wand. The house had been built, the windows framed, the fields ploughed, and even the trees grafted, by the New Zealander. At the mill, a New Zealander was seen powdered white with flour, like his brother miller in England. When I looked at this whole scene, I thought it admirable. It was not merely mind; yet, as the
that England was brought vividly before my
evening drew to a close, the domestic sounds, the fields of corn, the distant undulating country with its trees might well have