Page images
PDF
EPUB

NEW ZEALAND.

CHAPTER I.

The Voyage _Funeral at Sea-Cause of the dread of Death

Quarrels at Sea-Early history of New Zealand-Captain Cook-Anecdotes during residence there-Church of England Missionaries—Wesleyan Missionaries.

On the 28th of October, 1839, I accompanied my esteemed friend, Mr. Dunlop of Craigton, then Lord Provost of Glasgow, and a large party, in a steamboat hired for the occasion, attended by some of the officers, and the band of the 1st Royals, from Glasgow, to the barque called the Bengal Merchant, lying off Greenock, and chartered in London, for the purpose of conveying the first Scotch colony to New Zealand. Dinner was served up on board of the steamer, at which champagne flowed in abundance.

On reaching the vessel his Lordship delivered an appropriate address to the emigrants. He told them, that though going to a beautiful country, and to enjoy a salubrious climate, they must lay their account with enduring many hardships, and must labour hard before getting fairly established in their adopted country. That even greater difficulties than they would probably have to encounter, had been overcome

B

by the first settlers in other parts of the world. He exhorted them to cherish kindly feelings towards each other, and reminded them, that as their tenure of life was short and uncertain, they would derive great consolation when traversing the stormy deep, and when tossed about by its mighty waters, from the hopes which the Christian religion afforded, of more enduring felicity hereafter. That they were about to lay the foundation of a colony, which in time might become a great nation—a second Britain, and that numbers would no doubt follow, when, as he trusted the accounts of their successful enterprise, and happy settlement, had again arrived on those shores which they were about to leave.

On the 31st of October, having weighed anchor, I bade adieu to my native land.

“ Adieu ! Adieu ! my native shore

Fades o'er the waters blue ;
The night winds sigh, the breakers roar,

And shrieks the wild sea-mew.

“ For pleasures past I do not grieve,

Nor perils gath’ring near;
My greatest grief is that I leave

The friends I hold so dear.

“Yon sun that sets upon

the

sea,
I follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,

My native land good night.
“ A few short hours and he will rise

To give the morrow birth ;
And I shall hail the main and skies,

But not my mother earth.

When nearly opposite to Largs, in Ayrshire, we received the parting cheers of Mr. Crawford, the New

It may

Zealand Company's zealous agent in Glasgow, and those other friends who had accompanied us down the river in a steam-boat, who took that method of testifying their good wishes for our success. easily be supposed that we were not slow in returning these congratulations. We were all full of hope and anxiety to se what had been represented to us as a sort of earthly paradise-a smiling land, the very sight of which was at once to have banished away all our cares and all our sorrows. But man seeth only as through a glass darkly. Within a few short months I was doomed to witness those very beings who were cheering and shouting as they left the land of their nativity, cast, as it were, upon a barren, dreary, and inhospitable shore. I saw them turned out into a flat-bottomed boat every morning, for three weeks, nearly up to their knees in water, in order that they might erect for themselves their future habitations in the wilderness. I saw them at last, when that period, that short period of only three weeks had elapsed, driven out of the ship like oxen upon a Saturday night, in the midst of a storm of wind and of rain, of which you can hardly form any conception, many of them having no place to which they could fly to for shelter, until the fury of the storm was overpast. I heard their sighs; I witnessed the feelings which overpowered them, when they thought on those peaceful shores which they had so lately left, and on those happy days which had then for ever vanished from their view; and were those amongst them, who still survive in that distant region, now standing by my side, I am confident that many of them would be ready to exclaim with the prophet Jeremiah, “Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him, but weep sore for him that goeth away, for he shall return no more, nor see his native country; but he shall die in the place whether they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more."

And long, poor wanderers, o'er the ecliptic deep
The song that names but home will bid you weep ;
Oft shall ye fold your flocks by some strange stars above,
In that far world, and miss the stars ye love.

After giving you this brief outline of the hardships to which the first settlers in every new colony are so apt to be subjected, but from which subsequent adventurers are in a great measure relieved, I must bring you back to where you had left us, namely, receiving the parting cheers of our friends, nearly opposite to Largs, and the wind being both strong and favourable, most of us had soon to take our last look of this happy land.

We left our homes, around whose humble hearth,

Our parents, kindred, all we valued smil'd; Friends who had known and lov'd us from our birth,

And who still lov'd us as a fav'rite child,

We left the scenes by youthful hopes endear'd,

The woods, the streams, that sooth'd the infant ear; The plants, the trees, that we ourselves had rear'd,

And every charm to love, to fancy dear. We left our native land, and far away

Across the waters, sought a world unknown; But did not know that we in vain might stray,

In search of one so lovely as our own.

We kept to the north of Ireland, passed near to the Giant's Causeway early on the following morning, and, after a splendid run of nearly five hundred miles, during the first two days, got into the Atlantic ocean,

clear of all land, a circumstance to which sailors attach great importance.

With the exception of one gale of wind when off the Bay of Biscay, we had scarcely occasion for even double reefed top-sails during the whole voyage, so that it was more like a pleasure sail than anything else. Lieutenant Breton says, in like manner, of the voyage to Australia, which is the same as to New Zealand, with the exception of the last thousand miles, after passing Van Diemen's Land," I have been twice to New Holland, and a friend of mine four times, without having experienced aught resembling a gale of wind." Mr. Waugh, of Edinburgh, says, “It is as pleasant a life on board as one can desire ; there is so much to be seen every day, between flying fish, porpoises, sharks, whales, albatroses, &c. that one can hardly settle to any thing."

Nothing appeared to me so grand as to see the ship dashing through the waves, particularly on a fine moon-light night, and oft have I remained on the poop for hours, admiring the scene, and reflecting on Lord Byron's beautiful description of the sensations which it produces :

“Oh! who can tell save he whose soul hath tried,
And danc'd in triumph o'er the waters wide,
Th' exulting sense, the pulse's madd’ning play,
That thrills the wand'rer on that stormy way.”

Lord Byron, though accused of having been an infidel, has left upon record the following striking testimonial, if not to the truth, at least to the advantages of Christianity :-"Indisputably, the firm believers in the Gospel have a great advantage over all others, for this simple reason, that if true, they will have

[merged small][ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »