« EelmineJätka »
they next dislocated their ankles and wrists; and if that did not do, they then broke their knee and elbow joints; and failing, all these they finished them by strangulation. Mr. Owen would call these children the creatures of most unfavourable circumstances.
They assigned as one reason among others for this practice, the distress entailed upon those who had families, by their frequent and desolating wars; and another, that nursing impaired their personal attractions, and curtailed the period during which the bloom of their beauty lasted. Some people who are near-sighted have much difficulty in discovering any bloom upon a black skin, and are apt to exclaim with the Prophet Jeremiah, “ Though thou clothest thyself with crimsou, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair.” The cause assigned by the New Zealanders for destroying their children may be considered rational compared to this, for though they occasionally were in the habit of doing so, yet this was but rare, and the children suffer inuch for want of proper food, from the time they are weaned till they are three years old. Mr. Clarke says that one-half of their children die during that time for want of proper nourishment, while many mothers hurt themselves by suckling them too long, from having no suitable food for them afterwards.
In regard to the language of the New Zealanders, though I only picked up a few words of it myself, yet my friend, Dr. Lang, who is a Hebrew scholar, discovered that many of their words were precisely the same as those of that language. The Doctor, and Mr. Williams the missionary, point out also the striking similitude between them and the inhabitants of that part of Asia where the land of Judea is situated, in respect of physical conformation, general character, Malay features, tapuing and caste, treatment of women, particularly in their being forbidden to eat certain articles of food, or to eat in the presence of men,a very proper regulation, their polygamy, or plurality of wives, some of them having three or four; their polite attention to the sick, leaving them to recover the best way they can ; the immolation of widows on the death of their husbands, and cutting their flesh, and tattooing or printing their bodies; and these combined, seem to leave no doubt that they came originally from Judea. I have taken the liberty of adding to this long catalogue, their wonderful rapacity and love of money, which may not inappropriately be called the innate Jewish propensity of their nature, and confirms the theory of these learned divines in a still more striking degree. The greatest difficulty which they had to overcome was, “How in all the world they got from Judea to New Zealand;" but this difficulty Mr. Williams has removed with his usual ingenuity, by bringing forward some remarkable instances of the drifting of canoes full of natives to a very great distance from their own shores. Mr. Williams fell a sacrifice to the treachery of the savages, in one of the islands of the New Hebrides in 1839.
The account which the New Zealanders them. selves gives of their country is sufficiently absurd. Mawe, their divinity, they say was one day amusing himself fishing, a singular employment for a deity, and was for a long time very unsuccessful. At last however, when his patience was almost exhausted he felt a bite, and after great exertion pulled out his line, but to his great surprise, instead of a fish, which he
no doubt thought must have been a whale, he found attached the three Islands of New Zealand. I wonder that Mr. Mawe did not continue fishing after such wonderful success, as the next bite he got might have been Australia. It is singular that the natives name of the Northern Island, is Ea-hei-no-Mawe, which when translated signifies the child of Mawe; and though our knowledge of the history and biography of Mr. Mawe be very limited and incomplete, yet as there are three islands, we are entitled to infer from this that he had three children.
The only other circumstance in the customs of the New Zealanders worthy of being made mention of, is, that the whole of the native race, men, women, and children swim well, and like the North American Indians, swim like dogs, not dividing the water as we do with the palm of the hand, but paddling along with each arm alternately. Those who swim in this way, can hold out much longer than those who adopt the other plan.
Singular description of New Zealand, as contained in the Land claims given in—Compared by Mr. Montefiore to a Paradise
-Views of it as a Field for Emigration-Murder of Mrs. Roberton and her whole family, at the Bay of Islands, by a young Chief_His Execution.
The greatest deception that has been practised on the people of this country in regard to New Zealand is, that those interested in its prosperity, when stating its wonderful fertility, keep almost entirely out of view the extent to which this fertility extends. They tell you that the crops are the finest in the world, and the soil the finest in the world, and the climate the finest in the world, and though this may be all true enough, yet they too often conceal the circumstance, that not above one-tenth part of that country can ever be rendered productive, thus reducing the available land within a comparatively, narrow limit. Mr. Thorp, says, “ Above half of New Zealand is mountain, one entire scene of rugged volcanic distortion ; perhaps nearly one-fourth is swampy, and one fourth plain or available land. If the pound an acre gentleman, find his lot cast on the mountain or in the swamp, he may pray for a speedy deliverance.
Nearly the whole country to the north of the river Thames, extending in length, upwards of a hundred miles, excepting the missionary settlements, is in a great measure barren and unproductive, being either sandy or very mountainous, and covered with the Kauri pine. Indeed the Northern Island is more or less mountainous throughout, and the Middle Island is sadly cut up by the enormous ridge of mountains called the Southern Alps.
Nothing perhaps will give a better idea of its rugged and mountainous nature, than the description of the land contained in the different titles of the proprietors in that country, who were obliged to give in their claims to the commissioners appointed by Government, for all the lands they had acquired. In addition to a short description of the land, the value or consideration given for it, of whatever nature that might have been, had to be specially stated in the claim given in, and the whole was then inserted in the Government Gazette. Mr. Oakes of the M-Leay River, New South Wales, I observe, acquired 300 acres near Hokianga, from a chief, as the price of a mare, valued at £50, so that this chief probably wished to have a little equestrian exercise. It was better, however, that he should ride on a horse than on pigs, as some of the natives did fifty years ago with three of them, as they took them for horses, and rode two to death, killing the third for entering tabbooed burying ground. Blankets and calicoes seem to have
* Though Mr. Thorp mentions one-fourth, yet almost every individual whom I have seen, who has been in New Zealand, calculates it at one-tenth.